Tuesday, 30 July 2013

How I develop my ideas.

In this 2nd Chapter I find myself having ideas for scenarios and settings for RPGs.  This used to happen a lot during the early parts of the 1st Chapter although the frequency reduced towards the end to the point of nothing being produced.

Thankfully I now have ideas and in-particular of late setting ideas.  The one that seems to be sticking with me just now is one that I may use either as a campaign premise or as a location for a D&D Next game that I'm looking at running (more on that in a future post).

Without breaking any metagaming rules for my players I am going to share the process I went through to develop one of those settings here.  Some of this relates to new learnings (or perhaps more accurately re-learnings) I've had from reading the Game Master "self help" book Never Unprepared.  I highly recommend this book to anyone who currently is running or plans to run games in the future.  I plan to pick up the companion book on campaign development, Odyssey, when I find a copy in print.

An idea can come to you in a variety of ways and given that inspiration is not always a resource you can channel it's important to take note of the core of the idea when it comes to you so that you can explore it further.

This particular idea had 3 specific triggers -

Krull: I hadn't seen it recently or anything but I gto to thinking how the "Black Fortress" aka mountain that moves could be an interesting device in a fantasy campaign.
Stargate Atlantis: Again hadn't seen it recently but the "hidden city" especially when combined with the "Black Fortress" from Krull could be used in a variety of ways.
The 3rd trigger wasn't a movie but was based on things like standing stones and Tiberium from the Command & Conquer computer games.  An object that could hold mystical / spiritual power.

From those 3 elements I came up with the following -

Location - Grallis is an island in the middle of the Barlaxo Sea and it sits approximately 3 weeks sail from the mainland of Duthallia and as such it tends to operate separately.  The last time there was any regular contact was during the Pyreon War some 120 years ago.  A war that destroyed the only Astara Stone on Grallis.

Brief History - Astara Stones are thought to have been the tools of the gods according to the lore of Grallis and Duthallia. Huge rock / crystalline formations which look like the blades of tools but all of them so vast that no man or creature known to roam the land could wield it.
They are a source of magic (arcane and divine) and when in close proximity they were said to increase the potency of any spell.  Whilst a lot of this is lore it was also found that warrior wizards and warrior clerics of various factions sought out to destroy or capture those remaining Astara Stones to ensure their dominance.
The inhabitants of Grallis were largely innocent bystanders during the Pyreon War with the majority of the chaos happening on Duthallia.  One of the side effects of the destruction of the Astara Stone on Grallis though was to make the weather / seasons more unpredictable.  Whilst this caused significant problems during the first 20-30 years after the war the way of life on Grallis adjusted to their new world.
Those from Grallis who participated in the war were primarily involved in the defence of the Astara Stone, which was named Khalas-Grallia.  These defenders couldn’t stop the horde from Duthallia and ultimately Khalas-Grallia was destroyed.  The remains of the stone are where the village of Khalas-Ormin now sits.

Location Premise - The quiet village of Khalas-Ormin sits on the Eastern shores of the Ormenia region of Grallis is wakened from its slumber by the unexpected arrival of a new land mass off the Eastern coast…
The new land mass is home to a group Marid, "water djinni", and a group of Dao, "earth djinni". The djnni are acting as servants to Slarkrethel, the Kraken Wizard.  Slarkrethel wants the power of the Astara stones for himself and manipulates the tectonic plates across the world to create landmasses to create islands when necessary.  Slarkrethel believes that with the aid of the djinni that he can control the Astara stone on Grallis to further his own plans.  The stone itself whilst thought destroyed is in fact regenerating.  Indeed all of the stones that were destroyed are regenerating…
The only change noticed by the inhabitants over the last few weeks has been minor changes in the weather and some seismic disturbance.  Minor for now that is.  Fishermen also start to report spotting unusual sea life in the days and weeks before the arrival of the island. Once it does arrive however things change and Slarkrethel will execute his plan.

So.  From 3 basic triggers I decided upon an island that had some sort mystical rock of power albeit thought destroyed.  Reason for the setting to exist is that the power is not destroyed and obviously someone wants that power which leads to the arrival of some big-bad Water beastie.