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Worlds Worth Stealing, Part 1 (Games on the Brain)

March 14, 2014

I’m pretty sure that I’ve mentioned here before that table-top role-playing games are a huge distraction source of inspiration for me. If you’re the type of person who bothers to read blogs about genre fiction, I’d say there’s a chance that’s the case for you too. I know that happens to be the case for many a soul out in the blogoverse. While Gamemastering an RPG is necessarily very different from writing stories (woe be to the fiction writer or GM who forgets that), there’s plenty of crossover where practicing one can benefit the other. In particular, some of the most brilliant world-building out there comes from the desire to create a gameable setting, ripe for adventure.

(Side Note: Just so we’re clear, a key difference between a game world, and a world created purely for one author’s story-telling purposes, is that the game world exists for people other than the setting’s creator (i.e. players) to come along and wreck the place. The story in a game should never come before the freedom of the players, GM included, to make meaningful choices that might go entirely against the intent of the original creator. Otherwise, it makes for a boring, crappy game.)

Here are a few of my favorite world-building bloggers. Whether you write adventure fiction, or adventures with funny-shaped dice, I think there’s something to inspire you somewhere at each of these blogs.

From the Sorcerer’s Skull: I know I’ve mentioned Trey Causey’s amazing Weird Adventures in the Strange New World setting before, and it’s worth mentioning again. I could try to describe it as an alternate 1920s/1930s with elves, dwarves and magic where Indiana Jones and Doc Savage could be found battling evil cultists or hunting live dinosaurs, but even that description leaves a lot out. Basically, if you like pulp action-adventure, or pulp noir, and you want to see it combined with fantasy, this setting is worth checking out. Trey’s got dozens, maybe hundreds of posts about the various facets of the setting (the link above is to an index), and a reasonably-priced RPG book for sale.

But wait, there’s more. If far future sci-fi is your thing, you’ll also want to check out his series of posts on the Strange Stars. I could try to sum it up as Farscape meets Dune, but that probably does not do it justice. Trey lists his inspirations for his totally weird (and to me, very original seeming) space setting, where high technology has led to the divergence of the human species into many new (and many fallen) civilizations across the galaxy, millennia into the future. That’s a sizable list of books for me to catch up with.

Tales of The Grotesque and Dungeonesque: What do you get when a professor of Gothic literature blogs about RPGs? Apparently, a bunch of free settings. Just look at the right-hand sidebar. I was originally attracted to Jack Shear’s blog by his guides to running D&D in a Gothic setting (each volume titled, oddly enough, Tales of the Grotesque and Dungeonesque), but it’s his Savage Worlds material that keeps me coming back regularly. (It is my favorite set of RPG rules.) The number one standout? Without a doubt, it’s Planet Motherfucker!

Now how I do I even start to describe the ultra-violent, maxi-trashy, psychedelic grindhouse-style hellscape that is Planet Motherfucker? I think I’ll let Jack’s description speak for itself.

Looking for a slightly more “traditional” world setting? Maybe Ulverland 1666 is more to your tastes. Or are you looking for something “child appropriate”? (Muahaha.) Take a look at Slithedale Hollow, inspired by Monsterparts. Jack just seems to keep cranking them out.

Wine and Savages: In a nod to another of my fellow Savages out there, I’ve got to recognize the thoroughness and research that Sean Bircher is putting into his The King is Dead setting. It’s Gothic 18th century revolution against the vampire aristocracy. With mad science, super-powered and miracle-working heroes, and all the wonderful- and wonderfully weird- action that only a Savage Worlds setting can deliver. My favorite aspect of this setting just might be the vampires’ attempt to rewrite history with their own ‘Sathanic’ religion.

Scrolling through Wine and Savages will find you other smaller settings as well. I remember (but can’t find right now) that there are rules for a Scott Pilgrim setting in there somewhere. It even gives vegans the high-powered, four-color version of super powers, because “vegans really are just better people”.

* * *

More to come, but that’s a good start for now. If these tickle your fancy, there’s plenty more where those came from. The blogroll at each of the above sites are filled with links to more RPG blogs. Don’t lose yourself out there. =)

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. March 16, 2014 4:14 pm

    Thanks for the shout-out! I have to admit that I find The Strange Stars pretty tempting as well.

    Like

  2. trey permalink
    July 4, 2014 9:25 am

    Thanks for the kind words, guys. Glad you’re digging it. I hope to get the Strange Stars book out soon!

    Like

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