A while ago, I started a worldbuilding project by coming up with a concept for a single border town, Ennistra. Next, I will describe the city’s inhabitants, and a vague description of their backgrounds and personalities. With no further ado:
So to give you an idea of what I normally do when setting out to create a world, I’m going to be expanding on the Ennistra world by creating a cosmology–how the various planes of existence are laid out, what planets and stars exist in the sky above this world, how magic works, what deities exist, and how they affect the way magic works. I’ll usually start with a concept or theme for the way the planes or gods are organized. In this case, I’m just going to come up with a
In this case, I don’t reaaaally care about other planets, since space travel is not possible given any of the technology or magic of this world. Stars would be relevant only for studying constellations, which is dependent on location within the world and also best left for local folklore and stories. Therefore, this post will discuss deities, planar alignment, and magic. (EDIT: Just deities makes a damn long post.)
There are two major schools of thought among hardcore worldbuilders, which are colloquially referred to as ‘bottom-up’ and ‘top-down.’ The former refers to creating a point on the map, i.e. a village, and then expanding from there–creating the countryside, the roads to surrounding cities, the culture of the country, the map of the continent, and there on up to the gods governing the world. The latter refers to creating the geography, history, or even cosmology of the world, and then focusing on and developing one continent, one country and its culture, a city and its people, and then the framework for a story or adventure.
I tend to take the top-down approach when worldbuilding, just because it’s what I started out doing and so I’m more familiar with it. So, just for kicks, I’m going to try starting a small bottom-up project, and see what happens.
I have acquired a bunch of old D&D books, which is always a great way to get me excited about writing/statting things. Something that I always find amusing is finding a way to stat up myself or my friends, which of course requires me to write up snarky feats and flaws and skill descriptions and things, and occasionally consent to look at d20 Modern. Anyone who may or may not be reading this, keep in mind that any making fun of you I may do is not actually personal, and is for the sake of humor only, and also that you are terrible person and ought to be collectively exiled to like, Staten Island or something.
So in thinking about Project C.U.T.E. I had the idea that it might be better to have the class structure based around the roles of the children in the Imaginal Plane rather than their roles in the Material Plane, as the children will be spending most of their game time in the Imaginal Plane. So, some more Imaginally oriented classes, base and otherwise, could be things along the lines of Panlid Champion, Junior Speedster, Storyteller, Imaginal Terraformer, Transmogrifier, Comic Book Hero…
A bit of expansion on the Imaginal Plane: There are levels of deepness to the Imaginal Plane, just as there are levels of immersion in play-pretend. Children can move easily to the Imaginal Plane; it can sometimes be more difficult to get them back, as any parent quickly learns. The outskirts of the Imaginal Plane can be nigh indistinguishable from the Material Plane–things become embellished, the children see themselves as their imaginal selves instead of their physical selves, their toy swords appear real to them–but the couch fort is still a couch fort, the rocking horse is still a rocking horse, and the dehumidifier is puttering along irritatingly as ever. The midlands of the Imaginal Plane are more distinctly fantastic. The children’s imaginal selves are fully manifest and imaginally corporeal, the couch fort is a bunker or a castle, the rocking horse is a magnificent steed, and the children are arguing over what kind of monster the dehumidifier is. The inlands of the Imaginal Plane can appear completely different from the overlapping Material Plane–the entire basement is a dark, tangled forest, the couch fort is a broken-down ruin, and the dehumidifier is a grumbling cave bear.
The deities of C.U.T.E. are adults, relatives that can grant favors. Many kids are Mama’s Boys or Daddy’s Girls, asking favors of their parents to convince the other kids that they don’t have to be dead, or that they don’t have to be afraid of the dehumidifier dragon. Other kids are Goody-Two-Shoes, who are such Good Children that they receive favors and gifts without even having to ask. There are also Whiners, who throw a fit whenever something doesn’t go their way, coercing their parents into rectifying things. Some children master the art of Tantrum Throwing, and scream with such force that the imaginal environment rearranges itself into the order they want.
More on the arcane magic analog next time.
This project started as a thread in the Homebrew section of Giant in the Playground about five years ago. The thread died out after about four months, but the idea’s been in the back of my mind because it’s fantastic and inspired and otherwise flackworthy. The idea is, the PCs are children between the age of 3 and 9, playing pretend. But because of the way kids work, what they’re imagining is real for them. So the kids’ imaginary world becomes analogous to an Astral Plane, an Ethereal Plane, or a Plane of Shadow, an Imaginal Plane where the imaginary hero-selves of the kids exist. I will make a post on the Imaginal Plane later, but for now, imagine it as a place very much like the real world, where everything is a fantastic version of the real thing–a stuffed tiger becomes Hobbes, a gazebo becomes a mighty tower, a housecat becomes a huge lion or a manticore, the green-carpeted living room becomes wide-open grasslands, and so on.
For now what I’m doing is transcribing my notes from my three terrible, awful, no-good, very bad days-with-borkened-HDD–my ideas for how to make the system more supportive of child PCs and on what classes should exist. You will now receive an unwanted and unwarranted glimpse of my thought processes. ^_^
So a friend of mine informed me recently that they had built a monster-hunter character, I believe it was a Ranger with favored enemy Abberation and all sorts of abilities enabling the character to be incredibly murderous. My inner Evil DM decided to inform them that this character was fairly vulnerable against Rust Monsters, as their primary melee weapon was a metal halberd, and it would be difficult to snipe off rust monsters with arrows in their natural environment, which, according to the Monster Manual, is ‘Underground.’ I imagine they’d inhabit mines, dungeons, and the underground equivalent of landfills or junkyards–all places where there would be a supply of metal readily available for consumption.
So, because my mind makes absurd leaps at times, I came up with the idea of a people who used the exoskeleton of Rust Monsters in order to create weapons, allowing them to effectively repel a better-armed and -armored force through guerrilla warfare.