This is the first in a series on how I’ve undertaken the development of a campaign setting in my spare time. I’m not a full time game designer, just an avid role player with some ideas I think might make an interesting campaign setting.
I am a typical 40 something gamer. I grew up in the 80’s playing AD&D 2nd Edition and all the legacy games like Mechwarrior, WEG d6 Star Wars, White Wolf and several others through the 90’s. Fantasy has always been my group’s go-to genre. We adventured through all the published settings; Greyhawk, Realms, Dragonlance, Golarian and even a home brew world created by one of our long time members.
Every gamer looks to create something long term, some sort of legacy. Whether it’s a character founding an in game empire or developing an entire setting to explore, everyone wants to leave their mark.
Back in 1992 TSR released the Al Qadim expansion for their Forgotten Realms campaign setting. The unique cultural flavor and focus on the elements and fate really captured my imagination. I bought everything published for that setting and ran more than a few games using the region. Around 1994 TSR released the Ruined Kingdoms expansion for Al Qadim. I was immediately intrigued by the Geomancers. I began wondering what their empire might look like before their fall from power. Where did they go, from where did they come and why was their power so great? I began working on a storyline.
The more I researched and pondered the plot of a Geomancer story line the more I began to envision this group of powerful beings travelling from one world to another looking for more slaves and power. Very ‘Stargate’-esque to be quite honest. This material became the seed for a setting that bloomed into a much broader world creation project.
- Powerful group brings human slaves to a world.
- Human slaves encounter natives that provide the tools to overthrow their masters.
- The masters are forced out of the new world and access is ‘blocked’.
Instead of starting with a genesis story for the world, I began from the viewpoint of human slaves that served these world hopping conquerors. I created four distinct ‘tribes’ of human slaves ruled by this group and developed their cultures. Then I looked at the world to which these powerful masters had just dragged their empire and influences. How would an aboriginal culture interact with these invaders? Cautious but curious the native population soon discovered the new comers had no intention of being friendly.
War erupts, the natives were overwhelmed. The human tribes suddenly have to manage a new slave class consisting of these native cultures that also introduce strange beliefs and magic. The seeds of revolution are sown as the human tribes, bolstered by the native cultural influences, begin plotting to force their masters out of this world and break their chains.
Another great war is fought against the rulers. They are defeated when even their trusted guard betray them. They are forced back through the world gate and it is sealed. The human tribes scatter across the new lands and begin to settle and establish their own kingdoms.
A few thousand years pass and this is the world into which players emerge.