Monday, September 7, 2009

Laboring Away on Sarterra

The third age of Sarterra comes to a close

One thing that's been for sure here at Mik's Minis as of late is my number of posts has been way down, so what have I been doing? Well, I haven't been painting, I can tell you that. I had mentioned on the last update the fun we've been having with Dawn of Worlds, and that's where all of my creative energies have been put to work on lately.

More than just a map...

The standard RPG campaign, especially DnD in nature will use either a stock world, like Forgotten Realms or Dragonlance, or a DM-created world which, nine times out of ten, ends up being some kind of whimsical goofy-verse. With the former, unless you've personally invested time in the setting by reading the novels and source books, you're just along for the ride and rolling initiative when told to do so. With the latter, well, just hang on as best you can, because there's no way of knowing what's around the next corner.

With the Dawn of Worlds rules, which are free, you can now get everyone in on the creation of a world, flesh it out fully, and have a setting that's ready for adventures, with your players 100% vested, and interested in the world at the same time.

As I've mentioned, you create it all; the geographies and climates, the races and sub-races that inhabit the world, alliances and organizations, and events and catastrophes that befall the world. What's more is that the sky's the limit. If you want a world of nothing but Elves and their sub-types, do it. For us, we included a wide range of races, and for me personally, I put my favorite races of all time in there. These stretch all the way back to the 1st edition Fiend Folio, Rokugan, and a couple more recent sources.

Working freehand map

If doing Dawn of Worlds, I recommend doing it 'lived' above all else. This might be an obvious suggestion, but we ended up doing a lot of the world building via email just to save time. For the first age, we sketched up a good sized map on grid paper and set to 'building' the world with lakes, valleys, rivers, mountains, plateaus, and more. The majority of the second age was via email, and was good to an extent, but being a collaborative effort, you kind of miss out on bouncing ideas off one another and really making it all mesh.

It's a points based system, so creating races and the like are very expensive in the first age. In the second age, your lands get populated, and this is where you start establishing what types of beings live in your world, with their cities. Again, if you're sick of seeing the same, old races and really want "terrasaur-turtle men" or what-not, just make them, stick them somewhere on the map, and worry about their game stats only if you plan on using the world in an RPG campaign. The nifty thing about Dawn of Worlds is that it can be played entirely as a self contained game if you want, but it's best for RPG world building.

A taste of the finished product

I can whip out a decent picture or two when called upon, or the mood strikes me. I'm no Wayne Reynolds, but for having zero formal training, I don't think I'm too terrible. Well, with the addition of the third Chris (Chri3) to the fold, we now have a bona fide artist amongst our ranks. The above map section, and the larger color one higher up are all his doing thanks to some Photoshop skills, an eye for color and design, and lots of patience.

Since all of my creative juices have been put to work fleshing out and writing the fluff for all the races, avatars, and cities I've made for our world, Sarterra, I'm going to start doing installments here highlighting them. Some of them are just my own takes and tweaks on standard races you'll find out therein. Half-orcs are no longer "half" anything, they're their own race filling their own niche in the world. Warforged got a slight name change to Runeforged, and a different background, the rat-like Nezumi make an appearance but now fill the functional and mechanical role that previously belonged to the tired, old Halflings, etc. The 'goodly' Drow among an inherently evil race always bugged me a little (as far as PC's go, they're fine for novels), so I reinvented the Drow as well. The two races, appropriately enough, that I lavished the most time on were the same as the characters I had rolled up.

The basics are recognizable, but there's enough of a Mik 'twist' to make them fresh and have a little more created feel. Well, not "created", more like re-imagined. Remember, this is just my stuff, there's three more players' worth of material, making for a truly diverse and exciting world. So, welcome to Sarterra, there's a lot more to come!

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