Thursday, January 24, 2019


So I'm running a new campaign this year for some local friends, and thought I'd document how I'm putting the world together and the creative process I use. I have this map I made four years ago:

It was part of the Dead West setting. The island continent of Thaumatria was meant to be the Old World where the people in the Dead West had fled from after a major calamity. And I kept coming back to it...

... anyway. Three of the lads — Kurt, Tom and Gus — are in, and a newer friend Gabby is joining us. I really want to keep the prep as minimal as possible, cause I have a rep for overprepping then burning out a few sessions in, and I want this to last the year.

Here's my early overview of things I wanted to include in the setting:

Urban/exploration campaign, exotic elements, magic is very rare and dangerous, cultural and religious wars, reconquista/crusade/inquisition, humanocentric.

  • Humans - the great conquers, bastions of civilization, bringers of enlightenment.
  • Tylluan - owl people from the frozen north.
  • Mogs - cat people, tricksters all.
  • Bruxi - ratfolk slaves bred to serve the Thaumatrian Empire.
  • Gorgons - mutant snake people from the jungles south across the seas. The "Enemy".
  • Others - very rare, from distant lands or the result of monstrous experiments.

  • Dry, semi-arid, badlands, mesas, dusty mountains, cities of tall cool buildings, intricate architectural details, colourful bannerets and shady bazaars. Madrid, Cordoba, Marrakesh.
  • Stifling tropical jungles, pungent with flora and death and spice, ruined temples to dark things, dangerous seaports, pirates and armadas. Yucatan, Amazon, Zanzibar.
  • Verdant plains and great rivers, giving rise to beautiful cities, all scarred by war. 
  • Many small political entities and countries, each with their own agenda.

  • Akin to early-mid Renaissance Europe, 1600s, so more advanced than your average medieval fantasy, with long swords, spears, bows, full plate and chain giving way to rapiers, pikes, matchlock firearms, muskets, breastplates, and cannon. But firearms are noisy, tricky to maintain and dangerous, and a skilled archer can be much faster, just as deadly and far more quiet.
  • War is a constant: a great enemy lies to the east, The Leviathans, and all live in fear of their attack; yet any grand alliance is marred by political intrigue, clandestine subterfuge and petty wars as each nation vies for survival. Nations are defined by their religious persuasion.
  • One great religion dominates the continent: Carcassarian, named after its Leviathan founder, but it is fractured by schisms and at war with itself. Other, older beliefs still exist on the fringe. 
  • Exploration and colonisation of distant lands as nations seek to expand their resources; strange cultures and customs are filtering in with the stolen bounty of these lands. Seafaring is vital.
  • Magic is very rare, very dangerous, and corrupts the body and mind, but definitely plays a role in society, and is almost always under the control of local powers that use it to their own advantage. 

  • ALATRISTE, the Spanish pseudo-historical film starring Viggo Mortensen as a world-weary soldier. Ponderous film, but basically this campaign is that film with monsters and weird occult stuff. Must. Watch. The opening scene is a great demonstration on how you can have firearms and blades in the same setting. OH HEY IT’S YOUTUBE.
  • PIRATES OF THE CARRIBEAN, dumb but entertaining and the right mix of real world pillage and plunder and supernatural. Most characters are average humans, magic lurks on the edge of reality. 

I also set about looking for visual inspiration on Pintrest original page here: .

I may have found something... I'll post more info as I go.


  1. I was inspired by Arthurian myth and the film Brotherhood of the Wolf to make a micro-game in 17c France. File is here: