Hi my name is Jason and I am addicted to worldbuilding.

Hi my name is Jason and I am addicted to worldbuilding.

Hi my name is Jason and I am addicted to worldbuilding.

We started a new FotF campaign from scratch last week, and this is the stuff I prepped based on that first session, in case anyone is curious about what prep looks like on my end. Often we wing it completely, but I get the most satisfaction working from a platform like this.


10 thoughts on “Hi my name is Jason and I am addicted to worldbuilding.”

  1. I’d really love more insight into your process for actually getting from rolls on the table to what we see here. How long did this take? Where did you start? What was the hardest part?

  2. Excellent cartography skills you have there! Did you compile the name list solely for this campaign or was it selected among other name lists? Would you print this out into a little booklet and take notes in it? The design is quite nice.

  3. Aaron Griffin —

    TL;DR: Ask, roll, improvise, roll, ask, reincorporate, roll, etc. etc.

    1) We had a leisurely 2-hour first session where we rolled characters and drew the world following the directions in the “See the World” section of Freebooters. I asked pointed questions when I wanted to know more about something (“What is up with the winds of magic you guys said blows out of the south?” “Why did that sorcerer guy wipe out the ice-hobbits?” etc.). We rolle dup random, stuff here and there as needed — the tags for the starting town were all randomized. When I asked them what the language base should be, someone said Icelandic.

    2) At home, I redrew the map and named things using Google Translate to put together some crude place names based on Icelandic. For example, someone had named the starting town “Zephyr Citadel” and I thought that was clunky, so I plugged in “Wind Tower” and got “Vinderturn.”

    3) The first play session I had nothing but the map and notes from the prior session. A party of four set off from Vinderturn to cross the Frightful Sea and decided to look for a boat in the coastal village of Stinnevat. They rolled village tags and one of them was religious, so I described the weathered statue of the sea god Stoelvar at the center of town. Things got swiftly out of hand during negotiations with the village chieftain when the evil dwarf fighter (wrathful, rude, decadent) pulped the chieftain’s head in the middle of lunch. Long story short, the party ended up at sea in the chieftain’s own boat, crewed by 3 traumatized villagers, whose traits I rolled on the spot. The onboard drama that played out thanks to these traits resulted in another villager murdered by the dwarf. Amalinde the halfling thief made her Navigate roll and chose “You make a Discovery.” They rolled on the Perilous Wilds tables: 1: unnatural > 12: divine > 12: presence. Since I’m always looking to reincorporate, and they just rolled a “divine presence,” it’s clear to me that Stoelvar is here, and since they recently did in two of his adherents, Stoelvar is pissed. Session ends after a drawn-out and dramatic consumption of the ship by whirlpool with Amalinde and Erlina the magic-user the only survivors (thanks to a spell cast by Erlina).

    4) After that session, I had a lot to work with and some clear areas that needed a bit more fleshing out. First thing I did, to get a better feeling for Vinderturn, was roll up the keep’s lord and the head of the local magic school (which had been created during the original session). I generate each NPC of note using the settlement tables I posted earlier, rolling alignment/motivation, traits, and once on each detail column (facial, physical, public, private). These prompt a mental image that I embellish as the mood strikes, and interrelationships emerge out of how I imagine them interacting with one another.

    5) I rolled up the traits of the NPCs who are competing for the chieftain’s seat in Stinnevat, and realized, “Oh, they’re not going to be able to do that themselves, they need official sanction,” so I rolled up Elintinus the Magistrate and used his traits against theirs to imagine how the succession would play out. Then I wrote a thread to track that series of events, which will tick down in the background unless the PCs do something to futz with it.

    6) The Isle of the Raeningi had been created in the first session as well, described as a haven for marauding pirate-types. During play in the second session, PCs and NPCs alike had things to say about these marauders, which I duly noted. My third big prep step was to develop that island by rolling up the Raeningi leader and picturing what life was like on that harsh rock in the midst of the Frightful Sea. We had established in play that the Raeningi demanded tribute from Stinnevat at each full moon, and that they had kidnapped the chieftain’s daughter when the villagers failed to meet their end of the bargain. So she’s there, and the Raeningi hope to ransom her back, unaware that the chieftain has since been killed. From the map it’s clear that most of the island is wilderness, so I rolled up a Danger and got creature > beast > earthbound > tick/louse. To give myself a flavor prompt I rolled aspect > element > death, and the first thing I thought of was big ticks with white skull patterning, so I went with that to make the skullsuckers. My second Danger roll gave me creature > beast > earthbound > tick/louse again, and I immediately decided it was the big gross mother tick. Writing up the stats for the skullsuckers, I thought about parasites and Lyme disease, riffed on that a bit, and ended up with a weird kind of zombie.

    7) Stoelvar is clearly a big deal and people are going to need to watch what they do in his jurisdiction, but I haven’t developed him much. Between our initial setting creation and my prep, a total of four human gods have emerged: Harfadir (light/order), Soelvar (sea/honor), Jafna (twilight/balance), Herjofa (darkness/deceit). The ancient Tvinne civilization worshiped the Five Winds, which also need some development. Since religion is such an important force and can provide such rich inspiration for worldbuilding, these are top of my to-prep list.

    8) The main focus of treasure-hunting — the continent on the far side of the Frightful Sea where the ancient Tvinne civilization lies in ruins — is largely undeveloped. I’m going to let random Danger and Discovery rolls during play shape that terra incognita, so none of us know what’s coming. It’s likely that after one or two sessions over there, I’ll write up a bunch more stuff to make connections and tie things together.

  4. Aaron Berger — I used an Icelandic name generator, then alphabetized the results and cut the names I didn’t like. I do all of my campaign prep this way these days, printed out landscape format and just stapled in the upper left corner (not a booklet).

  5. Whoops, Aaron Griffin, in my wall of text I neglected to answer a couple of your questions. All told I’m going to estimate I spent… 6 hours on this prep? And the hardest part was probably interpreting treasure rolls for the Dark Mother, trying to come up with stuff that makes sense in context. It did get me to tweak the treasure tables, so that’s good.

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