Honestly, I have no idea whether my worldbuilding process is the right way, the wrong way, or just a way. I do know that Adara is slowly coming into focus as I write stories in the various regions of the continent. Even when I do write stories in other creations such as Eberron or the Forgotten Realms, my mind tries to find ways to twist the story to fit in the Adaran universe. The trick is to warp it in such a way so as not to steal someone else’s creation, but rather to use that creation as a guide to possibility.
The good thing is, I’ve been thinking about this land for long enough that the regions where my characters travel and live are almost as familiar to me as a map of the United States. I’m not sure if that speaks well of my mental health or not. I know it tells me that I spend a lot of time thinking about things that have little to do with the world around me.
The bad thing is the day job that pays the bills is getting less and less central to my well-being. I’m not so close to that Golden Age that I can name a date yet, so I just keep plugging away at it. Breathe and take one deadline at a time, one project at a time and try not to worry that the plan I laid years ago doesn’t unravel before I have a chance to live the dream.
But, enough of the maudlin, on to the worldbuilding.
Adara is a lush land, about the size of Australia. On maps, two mountain ranges have the appearance of a giant dragon, curled as if asleep. Dwarves occupy most of the mountainous regions, but lately, humans have begun to infest the dwarven lands like cockroaches. The elven lands are shrinking, and again, humans encroach on their ancestral lands, breeding like rats. Other ancestral races also feel the pinch of the human expansion—halfling, gnome, and orc populations are inexorably shrinking. The elder races are in a struggle to survive. And into this turmoil is born a set of half-orc twins with aspirations of conquering the continent.
I have notes on this situation and think I’ve created a decent pair of antagonists. Now I just need to finish building the world around the conflict. So far, I’ve managed to flesh out a region on the opposite side of the continent, but the players never got near the central conflict that will arise. Aeryn’s quest could go there, eventually, and Meegan’s story will lead to the source of the corruption.
Aeryn was born on an island off the northwest coast of Adara. When she runs away from home after her father dies, she is captured by slavers and awakens on a galley bound for a pirate haven. Caught in a vicious storm, the ship crashes on a seemingly deserted island, and the survivors must escape before a doomed goddess scours the island clean as her last act upon the Plane. Read Aeryn’s story here.
Now, her tale is still unfolding because we have quite a bit more of our campaign to play, but this first part tells the story of how a young girl becomes a mighty paladin, searching for a dead goddess.
As I’ve mentioned before, GMing is a lot of work, and unless you enjoy the creative aspect of the game over the playing part of the game, running a campaign can get tedious—especially if you don’t have a lot of time to prepare. Players can be tricky, mostly because everyone thinks differently, and PCs can come up with solutions that might never occur to a GM. This requires thinking on the fly.
I had one player once who, when confronted by a werewolf, reached in his belt pouch, grabbed a handful of silver coins and rushed the beast with the intent of shoving he coins down its throat. Now that was an action I would have never thought to take, but a player did, and it was moderately successful. Those instances make for great scenes in stories.
And so, I build the Adaran continent one character and one story at a time.