Saturday, May 5, 2018

The First FRPG (OD&D) and World Building - Original Edition RPG Appreciation Day(OERAD)

Original Edition RPG Appreciation Day - May 5th, 2018. Celebrating OD&D and all its derivatives.
I don't know about all of you, but as an old school OD&D referee one of my greatest pleasures in life is World Building. Some fear that blank white paper and writer's block, but when it comes to World Building, not me. 

Now don't get me wrong I can struggle with inspiration on other things just like anyone else, just not with World Building. With World Building just give me some paper, a pen and let me be, I'm good.

I think I have read everything that ERB published in book form and those books are a rich deposit with many deep fans of ore than can be mined and mined and mined for ideas and inspiration. The worlds of Tarzan that stretch all the way to Pellucidar, the worlds of John Carter from Barsoom to Jasoom. The Amtor of Carson Napier. 

I have always loved the world of Amtor, especially the forests of massively giant trees.

There there are the stories of REH and the worlds of Conan, Kull, Bran Mak Morn, El Borak, Dark Agnes de Chastillon, Solomon Kane, Cormac Fitzgeoffrey and Breckinridge Elkins. 

The Middle Earth of JRRT and dozens nay hundreds of other worlds by other author's that must go unmentioned.

Then of course are the real world atlases and geography books, maps galore, Google Earth and the NASA images of the planets and moons.

But that is all just ideas and inspiration. It is when you put pen/pencil to paper that things really start. Now I am not an artist and kudos to those that are, but those pitiful little marks I make on paper are enough to evoke the images they represent and along with the brief written descriptions they allow me to present the world to the players during the game.
When you reach the swamp it is overcast and muggy, the air is still and the stench of rotting vegetation is overpowering. You think you see vestiges of a path, but it is obvious you will have to do a lot of wading. There are grassy hummocks here and there among the trees and the downed rotting logs. Big leafy pads cover pools of unknown depth and occasional bubbles break the water now and then. The biting insects buzz around you in clouds and from within the swamp emanate all manner of sounds from large insects to "other" creatures. One loud booming sound seems to be of something large, how large and how aggressive? Do you want to continue into the swamp?
I can picture every rock and every rill, every blade of grass, every grain of sand and every leafy branch. All the fauan and flora the world has to offer. Rivers, oceans, streams, creeks, ice caps, deserts, mountains, plains, broad valleys, rolling hills, grasslands, forests, savannahs, swamps, marshes, wooded hills, broken wastelands and more.

Monsters of all types; humanoids of greater and lesser intelligence, appetites with legs, every manner of undead, tiny insects by the billions, giant insects, giant snakes, venomous creatures of every stripe, giants, mage created monstrosities, odd hybirds, dragons and much more.

Cannibals, head hunters, bandits, pirates, armies, and bureacrats. Merchants, farmers, sliversmith, armorers and every kind of person. The honest and good, the corrupt, the evil and the insane.

The vilest of real world religions and cults, to mythology, to invented pantheons and invented religions and cults (though it is tough to try to top the real thing), they all go into the storehouses to be brought forth and used at need.

There is so much evil in the real world, so many vile perverse cultures, beliefs and practices that there is no need to make things up. But make it up we must, even if we are only filing off the serial numbers and changing names to protect the guilty, less your time would be consumed by the fake outrage from the Guild of the Perpetually Offended and from the Guild of Defend the Indefensible at All Costs.

I also write of the many races/species of men and demi-humans who together fight the good fight to preserve and defend civilization against all comers. I also write of the many races/species of the monstrous who along with traitorous treacherous human/demi-human scum war against civilization, who seek to destroy and erase humanity/demi-humanity from the face of the world.

The heroes are the black, brown, olive, red, swarthy, white and yellow races/species of man, based on the seven species and the sub-species 
that are found in the real world along with all the mixed of the same. The Villians are the many species of monsters and the traitors who are black, brown, green, olive, purple, red, swarthy, white and yellow, the furred, the leather-skinned and the armored and all manner of odd variations.

Ancient kingdoms, ancient ruins, young kingdoms, city states, tribes, clans, farmland, merchant caravans, trading ships, warships, pirates ships and trade routes.

All of these and more go into creating a living breathing world with a history, a present and a future with or without the PC's. The breath, depth and detail will vary from ref to ref depending on the available time, but World Building is something every old school Referee can, should and does do.

In an old school world there are no railroads in the sense of adventure paths that the PC's are forced to follow. Now in some variations, steampunk OD&D anyone, there may be real physical railroads and players are not forced to use them. 

All of this just touches the surface of World Building. This is not even getting started, this is just the barest shallowest taste of what World Building is.