Pre-Game Session 2 – The World
When I first mentioned the idea of a solo sandbox game I knew I wanted to run a fantasy themed game. My gameworld idea I wanted to run with was nothing new to me. I created the first town and the first map somewhere in the late 1980’s. It became more solid and an actual creation with the first world map around 1989. It’s my Middle Earth. It’s my Neverland. I’ve run countless games in it, spent hours creating cities, building histories and, in general, breathing life into it. I enjoy sharing it with other people so it seems the perfect setting for this experiment. It seems perfect but it’s not that easy.
There are two complications. One is that part of this experiment / distraction is the setting needs to be built as randomly as possible. I want the joy, surprise and the challenge of building something from scattered random elements. This is hard to do with a setting you already know intimately! The second part is that, no offense, I have much larger plans for the world I spent over 20 years building. Hint – It involves a lot of writing and, more importantly, editing. Because of those larger plans it wouldn’t be a good idea to do large amounts of self-publishing here on this blog.
But I REALLY wanted to use that world setting!
The answer came along while I was going through an old box from my past. While pulling out old keepsakes, papers and items which make you wonder, “What the hell was I thinking?” I came across a cluster of gemstones. That’s right, I found a pile of old character sheets and notes from 8th/9th grade!
I really can’t tell you if it was like finding golden history or comedy gold. Amongst that raggedy pile of penciled happiness were three or four sheets of the FIRST game setting I created. A setting which had become utterly lost in my memory but which, within seconds of viewing it, brought back all the happy memories of working on it.
It wasn’t much more than a fleshed out idea at the time. An idea that I still really enjoy; a large island intended to be a savage environment set away from the mainland and overrun with all sorts of critters. It was my adolescent Mystery Monster Island. A mist enshrouded island of treasure, danger and death. Yay!
Wah-lah! I had my solution. Like a sandbox, I could place the island in the world but keep it separate. It could become this blog’s personal stomping grounds and I would still get to offer some of the great things I liked about the larger game world! To keep things as random as possible I would simply start with the concept of the island and nothing from the original hand drawn maps. (To be honest, considering the adolescent drawing skills involved, it would be for the better.) I had my setting. As an added bonus I hit upon a supplementary idea to the island, a secondary underlying concept which I think will really make it sing.
Allow me to introduce you to the setting.
In the Eastern Ocean, away from the more civilized lands of the Independant Cities there sits a large island. Whispered and rumored in scholarly circles to be the hub of an ancient civilization, it’s now known only as a savage, inhospitable place. A land that sits as a testament not only to the crushing power of Nature but to the twisted power of chaotic magicks set loose. No races call it home except for the numerous monstrous humanoids who live there. The small settlements which dare to carve out a living on it’s shores are home to those individuals whom, for one reason or another, have no where else to be. Some arrive out of prosecution, others out of desperation and a rare few arrive simply for the challenge of delving deeper into the island and possibly extracting treasure or knowledge from the stone ruins that blanket the island.
It is known by many names, “Blood Rock”, “The Anvil”, “Claw Island.” Most, however, continue to use it’s old world name which was found inscribed in different languages on a weathered stone obelisk overlooking the ruins of what could have been an ancient port city. The discovery, made by one of the last of the first exploration parties sent to the island centuries ago, was startling as the elven explorer uncovered an ancient elven word dating back thousand of years carved deep into the stone.