Tag Archives: Monte Cook

Book Review: The Kobold Guide to Worldbuilding

Kobold-GuideToWorldbuilding-Cover_450px-199x300World building is one of the most fun and complicated parts of the job for the GM or author. God created the Earth in six days, but world designers don’t have the luxury of omnipotence and omniscience. Luckily, we have the essays written by game and fiction industry professionals collected in The Kobold Guide to Worldbuilding.

I won my copy of the book in a contest on the Midgard Campaign Setting Facebook page, but I was planning on buying this one, anyway. The book isn’t lengthy, but that’s certainly not a strike against it. The essays flow together well, and for the most part, build on each other as you read through the book. It starts with the basics in the essay What is Setting Design by Wolfgang Baur. It has some helpful tips including (surprise!) keeping your PCs in the center of the action. Don’t get bogged down with stuff that doesn’t effect the story.

I don’t want to get too terribly gushy with my praise (Though, this tome is certainly worth gushily praising.), so I’ll just hit some of my personal favorite essays that helped me as both a GM and a writer.

Apocalypso: Gaming After the Fall
by Jeff Grubb

This essay helped me justify an accusation I often get from my players: that my campaigns often turn into a crapsack world. As Grubb is quick to point out, most RPG tropes are true, because the world was once a better place. In many campaign settings, the characters are looking backward to a better time that will never come again. (Heck, in most fantasy fiction, it’s the same way.) That’s why dungeons have awesome magical treasures and why monsters run rampant. Thanks, Jeff Grubb!

Here Be Dragons: On Mapmaking
by Jonathan Roberts

I’m not an artist by any stretch of the imagination, but the practical tips in Here Be Dragons really clicked with me. Roberts has drawn out lots of fantasy maps for properties like A Song of Ice and Fire and the Midgard campaign setting. If you want to draw awesome maps, his essay is a must-read.

Designing a Pantheon
by Wolfgang Baur

Baur makes some great points in this essay about how unrealistic religion tends to be in games. He suggests some alternate ways to design a pantheon and goes in-depth into the design of the pantheon of his Midgard Campaign setting. I don’t want to give anything away, but if you think that religion should be a major part of your game, this is worth perusing.

How to Write a World Bible
by Scott Hungerford

Hungerford has some really practical advice for organizing and building a bible, which is basically a collection of all the pertinent information about the world you have built. I’ve tried designing one in the past, but have never gotten very far, since I tend to be disorganized. His tips really encouraged me, and I can’t wait to start over again utilizing his advice.

KoboldI’ve been a fan of the kobolds at Kobold Press/Open Design since I first discovered the Kobold Quarterly publication last year (I’m disappointed in myself that  it took me so long to find that magazine. I’m sad that it’s gone.). Their commitment to excellence in what they publish really shows. The Midgard Campaign Setting they published is truly a work of art, so it was interesting to see a few essays by Baur outlining some of the design decisions that went into building Midgard.

I would highly recommend this book to any DM that wants to create a rich, vibrant world for his players to inhabit and muck about in. You can find The Kobold Guide to Worldbuilding at DrivethruRPG, the Kobold’s website, and Amazon.




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Kickstarter Stuff

Kickstarter is a pretty awesome way for great ideas to become reality. This week, I wanted to share a few Kickstarter projects that I think are worthy of your support.

1. Monte Cook’s Numenara

One of the designers of the third edition of Dungeons & Dragons, and having recently left Wizards of the Coast, Monte Cook is working on a new campaign setting and roleplaying game which focuses more on story than mechanics.

Numenara is set in the Ninth World (which is Earth somewhere around a billion years in the future). Many civilizations have risen and fallen, so the Ninth World is set on top the various ruined civilizations of the past. While technology is pretty limited, nanobots, genetic mutations, and power technologies lurk in the unmapped lands. You can check out the Kickstarter here.

It’s already reached it’s publishing goal, but most of the stretch goals here are awesome. Donate just $50, and you’re going to get the whole roleplaying system. Worth it.

2. Dungeons & Dragons: A Documentary

Finally, a D&D movie worth watching! We’re almost at the 40th anniversary of the world’s oldest Roleplaying Game, so it only makes sense that now is the time to create a documentary about the game. And it isn’t going to be fondly nostalgic about it, either. This documentary will get into the nitty gritty details of D&D’s creation. It’s a tale full of lost friendships and poor business practices. As the website states: “Imagine “The Social Network”, the creation of Facebook, but no one ends up rich. ”

Should be interesting. Check it out.

3. The Adventures of a Comic Con Girl

I posted this on our Facebook page a few weeks ago, but since I’m the editor-in-chief here, I can plug things for my friends as much as I want! HAHAHA! POWER ABUSE!

My pal Dana created this comic book miniseries along with Matthew Spradlin (writer of Bad Kids Go to Hell) and David Beauchene.

Comic Conventions are already pretty crazy places, but Molly, Tatiana, and Dana seem to get into even more drama than usual. It’s fun, it doesn’t cost much to donate, and the rewards for donating are all pretty solid. Don’t worry, I don’t think any of the rewards include “Con Funk” scratch-and-sniff stickers. (True story: when I was at Gen Con, I heard a guy telling another dude ((loudly)) that he hadn’t showered in two days. Gross)

You can check out Adventures of a Comic Con Girl here. It’s not too far from its funding goal, so you should go ahead and donate. Tell them TJ sent you.


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