Saturday, June 17, 2023

Classy World-Building Phase 2-0


[Note: the game QuAD RPG has been changed to Drakken]

After my test run of the Drowned World fizzled, because the mechanics of BECMI D&D didn't quite match the promise of the character class descriptions, I sat down and I wrote a whole new role-playing game to accommodate it: Drakken RPG.

I have shared a copy of Drakken using just the classes from B/X D&D on

From its inception, however, Drakken RPG was meant to be the backbone of a Drowned World campaign (take two). And even before I finish fully writing out the B/X D&D compatible version of it, I had already adapted all the classes I had shared last month and earlier this month to it. I could sit down tomorrow and play a version of the drowned world that probably better reflects the tone and intended experience of the Drowned World.

But what is the point of sharing the BX version of the classes, and my "Sword & Sorcery" version of Drakken RPG if I'm not also going to share a finalized version of Drakken RPG for the Drowned World?

As it is, in my Google docs I have a 100% ready game. I could pick up and play the Drowned World with friends with no problem at all. Sharing it, however, requires me to have enough of a gazetteer of the drowned world that anyone else could pick up the book and play it too.

And so, in order to finish the book I'm working on, I am going to have to build a gazetteer other people can use.

I'm currently working on the first part of that, describing how the world was drowned and what is left of it. Including introducing the major players in the game's pantheon.

Once I have established those core elements of the setting, the next step is to have places that the players might visit or be from

Thankfully for me by building the world using classes specific to the setting I've already done a huge portion of the work.

Many of the classes I've designed, like the Wobun alchemists, the Windlass machinists, or the mysterious Demalion time wizards all come with the idea that they are from a specific place and a specific culture that teaches them their abilities. For each of those classes I can describe a particular Homeland that has nurtured them.

For a few others that are members of a secret society, like the thieving Braid, they suggest an urban environment in which they might have arisen. Likewise, the sSorched gunslinger Rangers suggest their own wild West like Homeland where the firearms they use first of rose and are now a jealously guarded secret and part of their culture.

I can easily make one land per character class, give a sense of where it is on the world map, what the people who haven't ascended to the lofty ranks of level one adventurers are like, give it a few quirks, and name a few people and places in it, and have a gazetteer every bit as good as the one in the Dungeons & Dragons 3e Eberron Core Setting Book, which I consider the gold standard for campaign setting designs for Dungeons & Dragons.

All I would need on top of that is some central location where characters of almost any stripes might end up  a borderland setting with lots to do and plenty of danger. I could also use one metropolitan setting where characters can go and see people of all stripes and trade valuable goods. And probably one monstrous land of intelligent beings who are clearly not meant to be player characters. Tossing another dangerous and strange wild, and you have a very complete setting.

So this is what I'll be doing over the next few weeks, along with reviews and it connected thinkpiece. I will be building the world those classes suggest in order to put them in a version of Drakken RPG with a complete setting gazetteer. At the end of which, after a little tidying up and editing, I will post it as another pay what you want option.

I I'm quite proud of what I have achieved with Drakken. It plays in a quick and loose way that blends my favorite elements of Crimson Dragon Slayer, Knave, and touches of vanilla Dungeons & Dragons that I felt both lacked in a role-playing game that sits under 30 pages in length.

I imagine I could easily create a space opera post-apocalyptic, or Western version of this game in just a few days. Which would be a great treat for people who turn out to enjoy Drakken in the future.

This is also a lightweight enough project that I can keep doing it well continuing the much heavier work of finishing the eternal ocean in the background.

In a perverse irony, of course, I built a dark fantasy Knave setting to use for my home campaign until I was ready to do take two of the drowned world, and my wife is utterly hooked on it. Go figure. Might be another thing worth sharing at the end of the day.

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