Design Questions for Ruins

Yesterday, I talked about how nifty ruins were as a feature of a setting. But what does it take to make a good ruin? I’ve already talked about building, aging and abandoning cities in general, and these serve as a pretty good stopping off point. On the other hand, it might be that we’re going [...]

Why Ruins?

Ruins are awesome. We’re all in agreement, right? We go tourist on them (at least, until some fool starts vandalizing the plinths or screwing under the altars or attempting to Life Imitates Action Movie through them, and then we can only admire them from a distance, not that it keeps us from trying), we write [...]

Getting from Setting to Plot

Let’s say you’re one of those people who specializes in worldbuilding. You’ve got a grand world laid out, some combination of metaphysics and cultures and maps and history and… whatever, really. If you’re lucky, you’ve got a few characters, or at least an idea what kind of archetypes are going to be wandering around. But [...]

Starting with a Plot…

The toughest part of beginning with a story or game, I’ve found, is getting enough of a balance between beginning concepts to actually have a story rather than a set of fleeting ideas in nowhere-space. You have a plot, and a vague outline of what the setting might look like, and that’s it. Where to [...]

Magical Location Design: Ravyn’s Guide to Geomancy

In yesterday’s post about creating magical locations based on their purpose, I mentioned the possibility of the purpose being to channel magic, and said I’d discuss it later. “The following day” counts as later, don’t you think?
Like necromancy’s slow shift from “My divinations require a corpse of some sort, preferably fresh” to “OMG FEAR MY [...]

Magical Location Design: To Every Place, a Purpose

One of the most common first approaches I see for designing a magical location is determining its purpose. Sometimes, it’s to channel magic in a certain way, but that’s less common and not necessarily likely to stand on its own—we’ll get into those later. But most of the time, even on an inherently magical building, [...]

Magical Location Design: Establishing a Mood

I talked yesterday about designing a magical location around the effect it was supposed to have on the audience. But it’s one thing to say “I want this effect”, and another thing entirely to get the effect in question. How do you go about it?
First, of course, is actually choosing the effect. It goes without [...]

Three Starting Points for Designing Magical Locations

What fun is a fantasy world without inherently magical locations? They make it clear which genre you’re operating in, provide a little color, and because of the ability to use elements not present in mundane locations, can often create a more intense and targeted mood than their mundane counterparts. I usually begin with a combination [...]

Marking Time

One of the biggest difficulties with an Earth-with-modifications setting is getting across to people the time period in which the story is set, particularly as the setting gets more and more modern and the distinctions less and less obvious. A little slip, and it becomes easy for people to forget that this is supposed to [...]