Okay, so Ray Otus' throught-provoking Gygax 75 came out in April of this year. I was very intrigued by it, but didn't really have the time to commit. Now, with a bit more breathing room, I'm going to go for it week-by-week as a think-out-loud process of expanding the implied setting of my own Weird North. The world is assumed to be ancient, strange, and filled with layered mystery.
1. Get/create a notebook.
- I'm using this blog for this purpose. Yes, I have and enjoy many moleskine journals, but when I write creative notes on paper they tend to disappear, get ripped in half, or outright eaten by toddlers.
2. Develop your pitch.
- The world is very, very old
The planet itself is ancient. Dozens of world-spanning civilizations have come and gone. The current populace mostly doesn't realize it's number X in a long line of successful occupants of the world. Bizarre and inscrutable relics from past eras are buried in the earth, or stick out of hills at random. Magic and technology are cruel and indistinguishable.
- Many realms have links to the land
Portals abound. Whether magical, mechanical, or entirely inscrutable, the landscape is perpetually connected to out-world, demiplanes, extant planets, and spiritual realities. Portals might be obvious (blazing gateways in plain sight) or obscured (crawl into that tree root and take a left).
- Human power centers are not alone
Many human outposts and lesser kingdoms have scratched out a living in and on the world's surface levels, but cabals of snakepeople, demon overseers, and eldritch abominations hold sway over the greater politics of the landscape whether by obvious or covert means. Every local plot tugs on strings leading into the shadows.
- Magic is corrupting
There wasn't always arcana in the world. It came from outside. As the eons churned, more and more strange energy seeped into the planet itself, whether by portal, occult influence, or mechanical summons. There are extant masters of magic, but not one of them is human. Humans can't handle much magic before they begin to lose their humanity.
- Mercenary ambition is the norm
With apocalyptic events having peppered the world several times over, no one makes many lasting plans. Kingdoms are small or nomadic. Villages are transient. Artifacts, outsiders, and the planet itself are armed, dangerous, and paradigm-shifting. Everyone survives, no one thrives.