*Meanwhile, at a meeting of DM’s Anonymous..*
Hi. I’m Dave, and I’m a Homebrewer.
I’ve been homebrewing officially for a few years, but really I’ve been creating worlds all my life.
“*indistinct, sympathetic murmurs*”
I’ve recently had a lot of success, and progress in my latest effort. Everything’s been going pretty well.
“*smatterings of supportive claps*”
But…lately…I’ve been obsessing over a believable naming convention…
“*a single gasp as the claps die out*”
…and… *sob* …and how watershed flow would affect the growth of farmland… *breaks down*
Okay, maybe it’s not that dramatic. But it feels like it sometimes.
My DM friend and I were discussing our world-building efforts when – yes – we got onto the topic of incredibly finite realism regarding the flow of glaciers from mountains into valleys to create watersheds and lush farmland.
We talked about creating realistic terrain when you consider mountains and rain-shadow, groundwater and lakes. And it occurred to me…
…None of this matters.
Okay, creating a world that lends to the verisimilitude of the setting within the game you’re playing (and yes, it is a game) is important to a certain extent.
You do want your players to get lost in the world and not have to go, “why the hell is there a marsh in the middle of the desert?” — Although, this could be a plot hook, if planned out that way.
So as long as you follow just, like, standard geography rules you should be fine.
My point is this:
Making sure to pour so much detail into the geography of your homebrew world might be a moot point. I would say that, if you were writing a novel series, or a screenplay, or some form of media where a detailed world or world map would be extremely useful to the potential millions of people who would see it, then yeah probably spend some extra time researching how the hydrologic cycle works so that you have a realistic geography.
Ensure that you have mountains where water is stored in ice and snow, which then trickles down to form rivers and lakes, and watersheds are created in the valleys between high hills, and these valleys are lush and green, and that your rivers lead to estuaries and the sea.
But, I mean, even then…calm down a little bit. You know? All of that detail doesn’t need to be spelled out for your potential users. Just know about it, right? Know that Greentown is called Greentown because it’s in a verdant valley with a plentiful watertable.
See, my friend and I have World-Building Disease. We obsess over these details, and become frustrated by them (or the fact that there are so many of them). But, in all honesty…how often are these details going to come up in play? Even in a 2-year campaign!
So, my advice to my fellow world-builders out there is to not sweat the incredible detail like this. Understand the basics of a world’s geography, and you should be fine. If you’re leading your party through your world, and they happen upon a river coming out of the mountains, your players are very likely not going to ask you, “Wait, are you sure these mountains are glacial?”
Unless they’re buttholes.
And, if you have WBD like my friend and I, well then first I apologize. I know it’s rough. But, really, if you’re that dedicated to creating a world that’s as realistic as it possibly can be…just understand that it’s a thankless task, and it probably won’t even be noticed. So make sure you’re managing your time wisely as you fill in the details of your world.
I do applaud any attempt at true realism, because it is hard. I mean, here I am trying to figure out where the rain-shadow is going to fall on my map, and my friend brings up the economy of his world, and how they’re headed toward an industrial age.
And I said, “Oh f*$#. I still have to figure out how my world’s economy works.”
A shorter post this time, but something I wanted to put out there. I am really going through this world-building thing with my magnifying glass zoomed too far in, and I hope that this serves as a…warning? No, that’s too harsh a word. A tale of caution, let’s say.
Definitely give your world that realistic feel, but don’t fret so much over the stuff that’s not going to be 1) noticed, 2) used, 3) useful. That stuff can all be filled in later. If anything, have a map, figure out where the mountains are, and draw rivers from them to the coast, or to larger bodies of water. Then place your major towns and cities along or near those bodies of water. There ya go.
Anyway, there’s no Curse of Strahd diary this week, as we didn’t meet on Sunday. This coming Sunday will be our next game, it’s looking like. So stay tuned for that.
I have more homebrew content coming soon, as it’s being developed. If you haven’t already seen it…check out this post to find out what I’ve done with my homebrew world. Enjoy!
Until next time – Well Met!