I cannot tell you how many worlds swim in my imagination. I am unsure if I will ever be able to fully actualize all of them, even if I worked at it full time. I have, since I started RPing, always been fascinated with campaign setting and world building. That being said, I have never played in or ran a game based in a manufacturer’s campaign setting. I have always been content frolicking through the core-book’s lands or the homebrew worlds of my DMs. I know of Forgotten Realms, Eberron, and DragonLance, yet I have always resisted playing in them (there is one major exception and that was playing a short-lived campaign in the DragonLance setting, where Dutch’s knowledge is so damn extensive that he was only comfortable DMing in that capacity…and hey, I wanted to play damnit!). The same goes for Earthdawn and Shadowrun too. I never wanted to set sail for Thera or play in Hong Kong—the core settings of Barsaive and Seattle were more than enough for me.

This leads me to a nagging question: why is that? How could I get so much satisfaction out of so little content (lets compare the almost non-existent amount of setting info in the core D&D3.5 versus the seemingly endless stack of splat books for the FR setting)? The answer, I believe, is intrinsic. To me, less is more. There is an exception to this but I will get there in a minute. Less information to start off with (flavor wise, not mechanically speaking) allows one’s imagination to really take off, conceptualize details that ultimately helps the game feel very personal as well as molding the setting to perfectly fit your character. If I want to live in a hamlet called Glammis that was a matriarchy decided upon by an old crone’s reading of chicken bones, then hey, guess what…I can. Obviously the stipulation to this is DM approval but I have never had an issue (especially in tabletop groups) getting a DM to accept the ideas that I develop for character background and flavor. This open-endedness is what makes RPing such an enjoyable endeavor for me—I have a hand in shaping the world my character is involved in. Even as I began to DM, I always allowed my players the opportunity to create their character’s hometown and any flavor components that they wanted.

There is the above-mentioned exception however. Remember?

“To me, less is more. There is an exception to this but I will get there in a minute.”

Well, for me, more is far more satisfying…when it is YOUR OWN WORLD! There is nothing more pleasing that designing an entire world, from shape to geography to climate to politics to pantheon. It truly is, for me, probably the most gratifying process in RPing (okay, okay…next to seeing a character progress from level one onwards). I am somewhat unsure as to why I have such drastic views between these two areas or why I shy away from campaign settings. I think the issue lies in knowledge retention. I have a difficult time grasping settings that I do not have a hand in creating. How could I embrace Earthdawn’s Barsaive or Seattle in 2072 then? My only explanation is that I was much younger when I started playing Earthdawn and I spent a great deal of time with eDubs on the shores of Lake Michigan reading splat book cover to cover for weekend and weekend. That utopia of childhood memories is so deeply ingrained in me that I am pretty positive that I will never forget the settings or concepts of Earthdawn or Shadowrun…ever.

This all being said, I want to talk extensively about my process for world building in the near future. I want to share how I begin getting the myriad ideas, intricacies, quirks, and oddities from my convoluted mind out on to paper. I hope this will also allow me to refocus my mind towards a few lofty projects that I have in store for Kildaire.

Roll your Spot checks now as I will be writing new posts that deal with my aspirations for Kildaire very soon.