A bit has happened regarding my Isryn project already, with my most creative player setting to work and creating his own faction. I won’t reveal any details here because other players may read the info, which brings me quickly to the 1st rule I want to advertise for Isryn:
1st rule: The GM decides which information is revealed to other players.
Every player should communicate privately with the GM to give them their faction name, lore, actions and any details important to the game. In return, the GM reveals privately what repercussions the player’s actions have and update the portion of the map that player has access to.
Why? Fog of war.
Keeping in mind classic RTS games, there has always been a fog of war. It was always an interesting moment for me to finally pierce through a new portion of a map and discover what kinds of shenanigans the other faction had been up to.
By keeping faction stats and the map concealed, other players have to immerse themselves more, and their choices become more complex. Will they send explorers to find the other factions? Will they try to sabotage their infrastructure, once discovered? Or will they try to work peacefully with each other?
2nd rule: Player-to-player conversations must happen with the GM present.
This is to keep the gameplay at a comfortable and fair pace for each and every player. I personally suggest that players communicate with each other via letters they would send to each other, passing through the GM, until they can meet in-character (over a Zoom session, let’s say) and they can then parley more easily.
Also, putting this mechanic together with the fog of war, means that the selling of information becomes a clear possibility.
That being said, let’s move to what my title actually advertised:
How to start your own world-building-king-maker campaign:
First of all, you should be the GM. If you’re the 1st of your play group reading this, you are clearly the most interested person (and possibly the one with the most free time).
Second, create your rough map. I really like https://www.rangen.co.uk/world/continentgen.php as it instantly creates a rough continent outline with a name and some detail about the weather and other information that might help you get started.
Don’t fill out the map yet. Take the outline and print it, copy it, recreate it in Inkarnate or whatever you prefer to use. The reason you won’t fill it out yet is because it is extremely time-consuming to do so, and because the players and their rolls will influence the surrounding (more on that later, but a quick example would be: a player is exploring the surroundings of his area. He rolls a high Survival check and this helps him discover a stream or a lake, which you will add to the map).
For example, here’s a map Rangen gave me:
That’s not the first map it gave me but I really like it. I wouldn’t keep the name as it was Munelimu and I don’t find that inspiring at all.
Next, I import the picture in the Stamp section of Inkarnate and roughly follow the generated outline with the brush.
Third, show a portion of the map to your players. Or the whole thing. It’s up to you. For my game, the discovery of the micro-continent comes after centuries of turmoil and seafaring voyages are extremely dangerous. The sailor who discovered this new place only explored the North coast before returning home and selling his information to lords and leaders of my world.
Make sure you include a distance scale! If you’re lost like me, look at real-world locations to help wrap your head around things. I looked at Madagascar on Google Earth, personally.
And so, I only shared the North coast of my map to my players. They had the choice to settle anywhere they wanted and since this is a totally new game I also gave a few examples of actions they could take to help them connect with my idea. For example, they could explore the East or West coast before landing, at the risk of losing a good spot to another, faster player.
Finally, have them create their faction. Below is the gist of the document I shared with them, translated from French (as we’re playing in French). Also keep in mind I’m making this game up as I go, so things are subject to change and you can and should adapt to how you see fit.
Starting Isryn :
Please remember this is an open game, limited only by your imagination (and the patience of the GM).
To start you have to create your faction, drawing inspiration from Dungeons and Dragons or Pathfinder.
- Name your faction
What is the name of your faction / alliance / organization / people?
Name : _________________________________________________
- Choose your Ancestry / Race
The race of your leader as well as that of the majority of your population.
Race : _______________________________________________________
- Choose your Class
The specialty of your faction, or their origin.
Class : _______________________________________________________
- Decide on the origin of your leader.
From a D&D or Pathfinder background.
Origins : _______________________________________________________
- Alignment : _____________________________________________
- Deity: __________________________________________________
Then, choose the abilities of your faction. These ability scores will change and evolve as play progresses.
Spend 15 points. Habilities start at 0.
Strength : _____
Your soldiers and defenses.
Dexterity : _____
The rapidity of deployment of your forces. Your spies and explorators.
Constitution : _____
Your basic resources. Your farms, lumber, quarry and reserves.
Wisdom : _____
The diversity of your infrastructures like apothecaries, doctors, the knowledge of your surroundings and weather forecast.
Intelligence : _____
The efficacity of your infrastructure. Your schools, roads, magic establishments, your commercial and information network.
Charisma : _____
Your control over your territory, your negotiation power, your capacity to inspire (or intimidate) your subjects and to attract new citizens.
Gold : 15 000 GP.
Possessions : (See with your DM)
Basic start : 3 caravels, 1d6 honor guards, 5d20 base population, 5d4 specialists, 5d6 soldiers.
You are free to create your faction how you see fit, or to find inspiration from this guide. This section is to add seasoning to the world, make it more interesting.
Leader : ______________________________________________________
Who is your leader? What is its name, race, and its previous societal role before quitting its native lands?
Ex : A betrayed king, a missionary, an adventurer, a pirate, a nomad, a simple farmer.
Its motivations : _____________________________________________________
Why is your leader on its way to these new lands?
Ex : Betrayed, threatened, exiled, curious, testing its fortune, looking for a lost temple, hunter of exotic animals, refugee, wants to spread its faith.
Its immediate entourage : ____________________________________________
Who follows it, who is loyal to him/her and why?
Ex : Its family, honor guards, friends, tribe, mercenaries, associates.
Its subjects : _______________________________________________________
Who are the “common people” of your faction, and why are they there?
Ex : Loyal subjects, your guard’s families, your carpenter business, people selected by your king or military order to go with you.
I hope this was helpful and/or fun to read! I’ll be adding a guide for your players’ first steps once mine have done theirs.