Monday, November 1, 2010

World Creation: The Lost Continent

I've been having a lot of fun lately with the Lost Continent.  Playing in it is awesome, but almost as awesome has been creating new countries, histories, etc.  I'm trying to tow the line between "having fun creating" and "over-creating to the point of noting every leaf shape and driving yourself freakin' crazy."  So I'm leaving some pretty large blank spots on the map, for sure, and I made the map a heck of a lot larger, to boot.

One reason I've been having so much fun is because I've been reading (get ready for an embarrassing confession) Robert E. Howard's Conan tales for the FIRST time!  I know, and I call myself an old-school gamer.  I have an excuse, though.  Check it: as I've mentioned before, I started gaming around 1989.  Why is this a good excuse?  Because in 1989 poor kids still bought used copies of Moldvay Basic at the swap meet for their first gaming experience, but the library was full of "AD&D" fiction.  Translation: I played old school D&D rules but was inundated with new school crap fiction.

Perhaps that's too harsh a judgment.  After all, I very much enjoyed Flint the King and the Dragonlance Chronicles.  But these were definitely post-D&D stories.  That is, the original stories in Appendix N inspired D&D in the beginning.  But then TSR pumped out a lot of Gary's stuff (heavily focused on Medieval Europe) and people played it and loved it and wrote new stories.  But these new stories were just Gary's world recycled.  This second generation of fiction was like inbred hemophiliac literature--still noble, but weak and uninspiring.  I just didn't know any better at the time.

But now!  Oh, sheesh, now I'm mainlining the real deal!  One paragraph of Howard is enough to set you on fire for a long time.  I'm tempted to just build up a library of the good old pulpy stuff and SLOWLY feast on it.  I say slowly because it is SO rich that you can savor this stuff for a long time.

So back to world-building.  I've decided that, since the Lost Continent is an immense place, there is room for everything.  The little niche that the PCs are in right now is somewhat Gygaxian/Medieval, but there is much, much more, out there.  Already I had swerved from rigid AD&D.  Dwarves are a dying race, with only a few hundred living as wanderers in the Untamed Lands of the far East.  No one on the continent has heard of an Elf.  And Halflings are a clever race of childlike people that most humans don't believe exist.  Outside of the Far East, no orcs, goblins, or hobgoblins exist.

It's fun to chop and slice, but I'm being careful, too.  We don't want to lose all our old friends.


  1. I don't blame you for not getting into Howard back in 1989. The late 1980s and early 1990s was a dark time for Howard, until the second boom of the early 2000s came along.

    Better late than never, I say! I'm very glad you're rectifying this glaring omission from your fantasy library. You can indeed savour it for a long time, but there's plenty of Howard to feast upon outside Conan, and even his fantasy fiction. Take your time and enjoy!

  2. Thanks for the encouragement! I also picked up a Solomon Kane anthology, but have yet to crack it.

    Any other suggestions? Perhaps authors that aren't in Appendix N?