Literal Setting Building

Knarf

Registered User
Validated User
#1
It's probably the most ambitiously lazy idea ever, but I've been thinking about running a game where the party is responsible for literally building the setting. They arrive on a completely blank map and their job is to explore it, tame it, and build anything they need. Eventually, they build up a settlement to act as a home base, which grows into the first city on this world. Then the next campaign I run starts in this city and maybe that party explores a little more and founds another settlement. And so on.

At least some of the details are going to depend on exactly what edition/retroclone/supplements I use, which I'm still trying to decide. What rules would make the early game (exploration and crafting) the most fun? (I would like to start them with the smallest resource base possible, to encourage them to put effort into building things up.) Where should I look for kingdom-building/stronghold-level play rules to support the late game? And since the concept is to run a generational game, it's important that kingdoms can either be passed down to a new party or handled as an entity independent of the PCs.

The player pitch is: A rookie Creator-god accidentally created their world too cosmologically close to the Realms of the Dark Lords of Chaos. As a result, Chaotic irruptions (dungeons) burst through into the Material Plane and the chaotic influence makes it harder for the inhabitants to organize on their own. So you have been recruited from your own world(s) to purge the Chaotic irruptions (clear the dungeons) and encourage the people to come together (create/run a kingdom), creating a Lawful counter-influence to hedge out the Chaos.
 

Stattick

Electronic Thing
Validated User
#2
You could start with either a straight, or hacked, version of Beyond the Wall. That'll give you the starting village, a bunch of NPCs, and some dangling plot strings you can pull later.
 

Numanoid

#rocksteadyrollhard
Validated User
#3
There's a game called Dawn of Worlds available for download that does something similar to that. Players are gods who takes turns using their acculmulated points to build features on a map, create races and civilizations, etc.

I'm using it this weekend to build our own campaign world.
 

Lord Crimson

Prophet of Darkness
Validated User
#4
I've played with similar ideas but never got around to really doing it. Are you planning on the area around your town being player-determined or random? If random, what tables are you planning on using?
 

ezekiel

Follower of the Way
Validated User
#5
Isn't this more or less what you do with Dungeon World? People pick their classes and races, and make their starting bonds, and from those conversations and ideas, you collectively build both the ecology/history and the people/places therein. It's super loosey-goosey so I don't know if it would be helpful per se, but your description almost perfectly matches one of DW's Principles: "Draw maps, leave blanks." You're just taking it to its most extreme incarnation, an entirely blank map until they go adventuring.
 

Knarf

Registered User
Validated User
#6
Not what I'm thinking of.

The idea is that the party is dropped into a new world, on Day 1 of its history, with only the gear on their backs. There were times I was tempted to go completely "Naked & Afraid," forcing the party to forage and hunt and sleep in dark holes until they get enough animal skins for tents. But in order to make it just a little bit more hospitable, I've decided to place an inn that the Creator-god set up for use as a home base. He occasionally turns up in the tavern as the old man with the hooded cloak who gives the party a quest.

I called the thread "Literal Setting Building" because I'm not thinking of any of the typical "session 0" setting building discussion. Building up the setting is part of the process of play. If the party decides that they need something, they need to make it, find it, or hire someone to do it.
 

vitruvian

Registered User
Validated User
#7
Not what I'm thinking of.

The idea is that the party is dropped into a new world, on Day 1 of its history, with only the gear on their backs. There were times I was tempted to go completely "Naked & Afraid," forcing the party to forage and hunt and sleep in dark holes until they get enough animal skins for tents. But in order to make it just a little bit more hospitable, I've decided to place an inn that the Creator-god set up for use as a home base. He occasionally turns up in the tavern as the old man with the hooded cloak who gives the party a quest.

I called the thread "Literal Setting Building" because I'm not thinking of any of the typical "session 0" setting building discussion. Building up the setting is part of the process of play. If the party decides that they need something, they need to make it, find it, or hire someone to do it.
So, if there aren't any other people, they'll have to quit adventuring and take up farming, because there's no one else to do it for them. Because if there are other fully grown adults about, it's not Day 1, right?

Are there, for example, mountains and rivers and so on already in place, or do the PCs get some kind of special powers to decide where those spring up? Or to create people to be the townspeople, farmers, etc. to populate their settlement?
 

Knarf

Registered User
Validated User
#8
So, if there aren't any other people, they'll have to quit adventuring and take up farming, because there's no one else to do it for them. Because if there are other fully grown adults about, it's not Day 1, right?

Are there, for example, mountains and rivers and so on already in place, or do the PCs get some kind of special powers to decide where those spring up? Or to create people to be the townspeople, farmers, etc. to populate their settlement?
I think that there are people, created at the moment the world was born , that are essentially functional adults, but the Chaos effect means that they're disorganized and it's up to the PCs to organize them. (Otherwise, you wind up with the PCs having to take up farming, or sexually harassing any female PCs to ensure progeny, and other unfun things. Another bit of handwavium is that the D&D economy is imported wholesale for playability's sake.)

The terrain of the setting is a randomly generated map. The PCs have typical PC-type abilities with no special powers, or even special destiny (I'm not going to bend over backwards to preserve PCs. If they die, they die.)
 

vitruvian

Registered User
Validated User
#9
I think that there are people, created at the moment the world was born , that are essentially functional adults, but the Chaos effect means that they're disorganized and it's up to the PCs to organize them. (Otherwise, you wind up with the PCs having to take up farming, or sexually harassing any female PCs to ensure progeny, and other unfun things. Another bit of handwavium is that the D&D economy is imported wholesale for playability's sake.)
So does that mean some of the other people are already engaged in farming, with fields planted with crops and some available for harvest, likewise mines and refined metals and domesticated animals and all the standard equipment available to buy with their starting gold? Because none of that happens without organization and having the people already know their trades and the prices they'll charge for their goods and labor. I mean, having the PCs organize them may not mean that much if it boils down to, "You guys keep farming, you guys keep mining, you guys keep smithing, you guys keep brewing ale, etc., etc." They'll also need to be somewhat organized into communities with trading routes, or you won't have the trade and inns and equipment shops that are part of the D&D economy.
 

Knarf

Registered User
Validated User
#10
So does that mean some of the other people are already engaged in farming, with fields planted with crops and some available for harvest, likewise mines and refined metals and domesticated animals and all the standard equipment available to buy with their starting gold? Because none of that happens without organization and having the people already know their trades and the prices they'll charge for their goods and labor. I mean, having the PCs organize them may not mean that much if it boils down to, "You guys keep farming, you guys keep mining, you guys keep smithing, you guys keep brewing ale, etc., etc." They'll also need to be somewhat organized into communities with trading routes, or you won't have the trade and inns and equipment shops that are part of the D&D economy.
There is a certain value in being able to say "Hey miners! You mine for me now!" And the PCs would be able to provide monster-protection services, since killing monsters is something that PCs do very well. Plus, the act of organizing something enhances the power of Law to keep out Chaos and build up the stability of the world.

The idea behind the campaign is sort of an extreme sandbox. I, as DM, make the least number of decisions and actions possible to enable the party to make as many decisions and actions as possible. The overland map and the Chaos dungeons are randomly generated. What plot there is intended to give the party something to do while mandating as little as possible.
 
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