The Foundation of Azria
Scope (write a sentence on each):
What is your motivation for building this world?
I want to build an exciting world which indulges my passion for Age of Sail history in a D&D context.
What are you hoping to get out of it?
I'm hoping to give my players an epic experience like "Black Sails" or "Master and Commander" with a DnD twist.
What is the Hook or Unique Selling Point of your world? What makes it unique or different?
Instead of standard Medieval Fantasy, my world has newly discovered magic-powered airships. Exploration is now possible in a whole new way, and massive swathes of undiscovered territory cry out to be explored!
What’s the Genre of your World?
My world is Fantasy! Magi-punk fantasy with an Age of Sail (i.e. Renaissance) technology level fuelled by magic
How does the world feel (player experience)?
World feels exciting and dangerous, and there are plenty of dark things there too - many of the newly discovered places are not very pleasant. But it's an epic campaign setting.
What is the tone of your world
World is Darkish - think Witcher rather than Dark Souls.
What is the character agency level like?
I want the campaign to feel epic, so characters will be able to effect a great deal of change in the world, and that change might be long lasting. Because it's a dark campaign, that change won't always be good! If they fumble or make mistakes, they'll have big consequences, too!
Character agency describes how much power the PCs have to change the world, and how long-lasting that change might be. In a Noble campaign (think Starwars) one person can change the whole universe, and effect lasting change. In a Grim campaign (think 40K) one person can have only a very limited impact on the fate of the world, and that change often doesn't last long.
What are the recurring themes which reinforce the genre, tone and feel of your world? (Give three examples)
1. Dark and threatening ancient ruins in the forest or jungle 2. The cry of seagulls birds wheeling free overhead 3. Re-occuring theme of things seeming fine on the surface but being corrupt beneath
These three things should cover the overarching campaign, but do not need to feature in every single session. They are a great way to help underpin that this is the same genre, tone, narrative and campaign, despite the different flavour of adventures within it.
Military: there is a cold war between different countires, all eager for this new kind of technology and looking for ways to weaponise it. Think espionage and kidnapping of scientists and mages.
Technology: now the initial ships have been invented, there is a surge in new models, techniques and improvements to the original technology. Everybody is looking for new ways to use and improve the Airships. There is also a "space race" between the different nations, all trying to adopt this technology.
Gender Relations: this has always been a man's world, but the magic type required to fly the airships is only operable by women, and not men. Suddenly, women are being percieved in a whole new way.
Choose three to five focal points of your world from the list below to focus your worldbuilding on:
1. 2 years ago, the first airships came back from exploring the other side of the ocean with news of a New World. Now all the big players of the world are trying to compete for their piece of the pie.
2. The last few years have had very wet summers, and a spate of blight has decimated crops, causing droughts in most of the old kingdoms. People are starving in the streets and the price of food is ever-growing.
3. The King of Finsterland is becoming increasingly paranoid, causing political unrest in the region. This has already lead to several border skirmishes with other countries. Everyone fears a land grab along his heavily militarised borders and passage into and out of Finsterland is now impossible.
4. The Mage Guild of Windwhispers are growing in power across the known world as their airships are more in demand. They make increasing demands on local cities where their chapters are, who feel they have no choice but to comply.
5. Whether from the drought, the boom in magical travel or some other instigator, the ancient ruins which have slept in isolated places are becoming more active, and monsters which previously left settlements alone are starting to appear from the wilderness and encroach on civilised life.
Add 5 points of drama to your world - you can use one or two of them for your main plot line, but the rest are just there to create the impression of a larger world in motion.