Discussion in 'ROLEPLAY HELP & DISCUSSION' started by RiverNotch, Jul 19, 2015.


    Hello! I'm RN, and welcome to my first worldbuilding thread. Here, I'll be setting up a western european medieval society inspired world for this little adventure I'm prepping, starting with a small, somewhat isolated city I've tentatively named "Amsterdam" (I like the sound of it), then working my way out. My goal is to make a setting as internally consistent and immersive as possible -- I'm hoping to make this world the centerpiece of the adventure -- while minimizing my effort and making it malleable enough to allow for some unique, but again still consistent, flavor.

    To begin, here are the sources I'm working with so far, so that you'll get where I'm coming from. Hopefully, this list will expand as I go along -- suggestions are definitely welcome!

    Wikipedia and Google [1] --​
    All the modern things,
    like cars and such,
    have always existed.
    They've just been waiting
    in a mountain
    for the right moment,
    listening to the
    irritating noises
    of dinosaurs
    and people

    "Life in the Middle Ages", by Hans-Werner Goetz, as translated by Albert Wimmer -- I borrowed a copy of this from a local library, then after I returned it, I asked my other internet friends (*wink wink*) for an online copy. Not easily accessible, not for beginners, not very handy (unless you're a note taker or a taxi driver), but incredibly interesting, informational, and....I can't think of an "i" word for "it sets up the foundations for a working knowledge of medieval culture really well".

    "A Magical Medieval Society: Western Europe" by Joseph Browning and Suzi Yee -- Some of the information from the above book can also be found here, only they're watered down and simplified since this book, unlike the above, is an actual resource for DMs -- however, you will need to understand how D&D generally works to get the whole "Magical" part, and for some of its tables, it refers to rules found in the D&D 3.5 DMG (or, I think, the SRD). Still, incredibly handy, and I found this easily enough online, too!

    "Chivalry and Sorcery Red Book" by Edward E. Simbalist and Wilf K. Backhaus -- Useful for its tables and for a bunch of ideas regarding warfare and magic and all that, though most of its big setting information is already detailed by the above books. As for my comments on the actual gaming system, I've never tried it, and to be honest, it looks way too complicated for me to ever actually use, like D&D 3.5, hehehe.

    "Bulfinch's Mythology: The Age of Chivalry" by Thomas Bulfinch -- A good, if Victorian (that is, over-sanitized and over-romanticized), summary of medieval legends and culture. Neat introduction and fair language, though best coupled with more detailed sources. PS: for Greek Myths, I prefer Edith Hamilton's work as an introduction, and since I'm no philologist, I just refer to a bunch of translations of the Greek and Roman texts (the Homeric Hymns and the Theogony are really neat, though I've heard the Bibliotheca is even neater) for more details, as well as this site: http://www.theoi.com/ But that's not very relevant right now.

    "The New Cambridge Medieval History" by a lot of really cool, hardworking folks from said university -- The sections on the actual historical events are fun, inspiring reads: the truth really is stranger (stronger) than fiction; and the sections on the specific themes are somewhat handy.

    "The Lord of the Rings" by J. R. R. Tolkien -- Technically not a source, I'm listing this here because I think the whole volume is the gold standard for crafting and presenting a fully realized fantasy world. I may do something akin to his style with the adventure and the presentation of the lore -- lots of backstory, lots of cultural details, lots of songs -- but with fewer hard numbers, owing to my general suckiness at statistics, with fewer original details, since I'm not planning to make as holistic an epic as he did (and again, minimizing my effort), and with a more modern style (as in, for example, characters speaking like they were born in the eighties, but not the feudal system being undermined by a post-colonial point of view on authority, a la A Song of Ice and Fire). PS: My other current readings are the Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser stories by Fritz Leiber and Harry Otto Fischer, the Conan stories by Robert Howard, Beowulf by some random bard, a bunch of plays by Shakespeare, and the poetry of Louise Glück, Walt Whitman, and William Blake. Not that any of these ideas would even appear in the adventure. PPS: I have to note, my translation of the Kalevala is kinda boring. I don't so far get how Tolkien fell in love with that text.

    Next up: THE BIG PICTURE, an overview of some underlying concepts, general themes, and the whole point of the coming adventure. Then, THE CITY FOUNDATIONS, where I'll begin building the city by filling in details on demographics, economics, class divides, and whatnot, while warping those ideas around my plans for the adventure.

    [1] - The following song's by Björk, "The Modern Things", from her album "Post". Fair song, more than fair album.​
  2. Are you looking to make like an alternate reality Amsterdam, or are you just using the name?
  3. Just using the name. I'll continue maybe on the weekend -- I already have the stuff to write, just been busy doing other things this past week.