Not unlike a lot of GMs, I generally try to keep the amount of pre-campaign world design I do to a minimum. But for my upcoming Castles & Crusades game I’m essentially roughing in a region to give the players a sense of where there characters are living. This will give them an anchor point for their backgrounds, and hopefully provide a better idea of what kind of adventures might be possible.
It also helps me when it comes time to design the city. By roughing in the local terrain, I’m essentially framing the history of the city. It gives me an instant snapshot of:
It also gives me an idea of the obstacles the citizens would have had endured in order to survive.
From the basic map, I then start roughing in descriptions of the area. This is what I have thus far:
Named by the Horsemen of Oor, the Darkcrag are a steep, rocky expanse with few traversable passes. The mountains have long been a source of minerals and a hazard to travelers. The range is home to several clans of Dwarves and an endless number of evil humanoids who constantly plague the region.
The Edenoston is an ancient hardwood forest. It’s believed that large sections of the forest are dying from an unknown force. Because of this, the majority of the area is avoided, and the Elves and Gnomes who make it their home have been working to find the cause and rehabilitate the woodland.
Kraif, City of
Kraif has long been the only city in a vast expanse of wilderness. It’s location between the North Lands and South Lands make it an important trading post. It’s situated in craggy foothills and bounded to the South by the Rhule River, while its northern wards are pressed against the base of the Darkcrag Mountains. The population is ever changing but it’s predominately made up of Humans and Halflings with smaller percentages of Dwarves, Elves, and Gnomes.
Plains of Oor
The Plains are a vast expanse of grassland. Their sprawling expanse is regularly dotted with grassy mesas that spring up unexpectedly from the prairie. According to legend, the Plains used to be the floor of a giant sea, which would explain the seemingly out-of-place tabletops and the ruins on their summits. With the exception of the Horsemen of Oor, the Plains are home to few people and almost no communities.
The Rhule River is the largest waterway in the region. It effectively joins the North Lands with the South Lands and has provided a constant source of trade and river traffic to Kraif.
Stroomland is home to a multitude of warring barbaric tribes. The vast majority of humankind avoids the area as it’s extremely difficult to cross without falling prey to one faction or another. The Darkcrags generally keep the Kraif region safe from incursions though an occasional roaming band does manage the crossing.
The rolling hills of Three Dales are dotted with farmland which serves as the primary provider of food and livestock for the city of Kraif. The Dales are also home to a number of small Halfling communities who trade heavily with merchants on their way to the city.
The spring runoffs are often too much for the Rhule to handle and its frequent flooding eventually gave rise to the Volrag. The Plainsmen speak of a King who once held a seat of power in this area hundreds of years ago before the land became unmanageable.
This will eventually serve as a Player’s Guide to the region. In the meantime, it acts as a development document for planning adventures and building a city.