Thursday, September 27, 2007

Secrets, And Products Thereof

One of my major tools in building hex map, and associated setting, is the Second Rule of Dungeoncraft, from Ray Winniger's (excellent) Dungeoncraft column.

Every time I create an important part of my setting, I create a secret about what I just created, and I put it into the deck 'o secrets. (Yes, I use an actual 3x5 notecard. I'm just that hardcore.) When I need something new to put on the map I'll draw a card from the deck, and try to figure out a way to work a clue to that secret into an encounter. This and random generation is how about 90% of what's on the map found origin.

My process works a little differently from the specific one that Winniger describes, because I'm starting very locally, and working my way up from there. I didn't start working on the gods until I had clerics who needed those gods. So most of my secrets are about NPCs and locations rather than fundamental ways the world works.

Not that I don't have a few of those. But I did it backwards. I thought to myself, "I need a big, world-changing secret that I can work into the early part of the game." And then I came up with some ideas about how the metaphysics of the setting that would support that, and suddenly I've got a general framework for how the planes interact, a couple new gods, and a rough idea for both a true creation myth and a false one.

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