Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Quick Detour: World Building with Player's Option

World Building with the Player's Option Series

So based on my last post someone wanted to know how I use the Player's Option series for world building. I had provided a quick example of a new race and how I would ask questions around it. I included the original post below.

However, I also decided to build this out into a full campaign setting. The races are built with Skills & Powers, and the equipment lists will be pulled from Combat & Tactics. Finally, changes to the magic system to make it a bronze age setting will be made with Spells & Magic. Can all of this be done without those books? Sure. But these resources make it fast and easy. I already have the outline done - most of the time is being spent on the creative writing... which is exactly where game time should be spent! Not on balancing rules!

Download the setting here.

My response to the question: In terms of your specific question - they do NOT include a note for world building. It was more of an "a'ha" type moment. I find that Spells & Magic and Combat & Tactics were better at this - but consider races. Let's say you're working on your campaign world, and you decide you want to have an Egyptian style dwarven race that builds great monuments out of sandstone.

Now you can totally wing it - but I'm a numbers type person and really like it when my numbers add up. The point buy system used by PO: Skills & Powers allows that.

So let's build our new dwarf subrace, we'll call them Scarab Dwarves for fun. So we have a general idea that they live in the desert, we know that we want them on the surface building monuments, and that they're good engineers like most dwarves. They start with 45 points. Now, it is COMPLETELY fine to say something like use the hill dwarf or mountain dwarf subtype. But if you want to build your own subtype PO:S&P allows you to do that. Here is how I'd go about it:

Dwarf, Scarab (45 Points)

  • +1 to Dexterity, -1 to Charisma
  • Weapon Bonus (+1 to attack rolls with the Khopesh, Mace-Axe, Sword-Axe) (-15 Points)
  • Heat Resistance (+1 bonus to saving throws vs. heat and fire based attacks as the dwarf's body is less susceptible to extreme temperatures - Pulled from the Elven  ability table) (-5 points)
  • Saving Throw Bonuses (Dwarves gain bonuses to saving throws vs. poison and against magical attacks from rods, wands, and spells based on their Constitution/Health scores.) (-10 Points)
  • Engineering Proficiency (+2 to the NWP Engineering if they have that NWP - Pulled from the Gnomes) (-5 Points)
  • Desert Movement (The dwarf is able to pass without trace as per the spell in a desert environment - pulled from the Gnome ability and changed to desert) (-10 Points)

So now we have a dwarf with no infravision, no traditional combat bonuses against enemies that they haven't encountered... but they are master engineers building monuments in the desert environment they are masters of.

And you can change this easily. You could give them the ability to communicate with insects for ten points.. say remove engineering. And now you have a desert empire of dwarves mounted on scarabs running around. In fact, let's give these dwarves a phobia to darkness and the insect ability. They now need to make a saving throw vs fear to go underground (a fairly big penalty for an adventurer), but they get their insects and insect like mounts.

So now we have a bronze age themed dwarf, that has built a monument creating civilization in a desert somewhere in the world. They are surface dwellers and are known for their close allegiance with giant scarabs that they ride into battle. Now, this inspires a few follow up questions:

* Who else lives here?
* How do they feel about their dwarven neighbors?
* What does the pantheon look like? Do we want the standard Egyptian pantheon or something else?
* What is the big threat that these dwarves are facing?

Off the top of my head, I'd say: we have halflings that travel the coasts and river deltas. They live in reed boats and are nomadic. We'll call them Water Halflings. Maybe they make papyrus scrolls and are know for their scribes. Gnomes live in the deep canyons south of the Dwarven lands. They are reclusive and generally not welcoming to others. They are known as Canyon Gnomes, and are primarily considered mercenaries for the human and dwarven empires. The humans come in two varieties: an empire south of the Dwarves on the other side of the gnomes, and the Sea People who are a vicious and evil group of raider humans much tougher then their civilized brethren (use the Half-Orc racial template).

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