Sunday, December 8, 2013

World Building Exercise with Five Random Races & A List of Fantasy Archetypes

Stumbled upon an old thread on the Paizo forums, Worldbuilding Exercise - Get 5 Random Races, Build a Setting, started by Mikaze based on another thread from another forum. The idea is to roll five d100s and compare the results to the list found in the thread. That gives you five races who will be the primary player races for a setting. Write-up the setting as you see fit, any where from a few paragraphs to whatever level of detail you desire.

I've been messing with the list over the weekend, using the Invisible Castle online dice roller. While my first set of five were fine, I went overboard and put the system to work in develop the races and setting. I used something like 35 sets of 5d100 rolls to flesh out the races and relationships using a few simple rules associated with how often and when a race appears in the rolls. Very soon certain trends appeared. Perhaps it was coincidence or maybe I was looking at the results with bias, but the dynamic started to look like one of my abandoned homebrew settings.

The exercise filled in a few gaps and reinforced ideas I had played with. Soon I folded the ideas from the exercise entirely into my homebrew. Some basic work still needs to be done to integrate the two, but this has the old homebrew well dusted off and ready for some refurbishing.

Ever a glutton for more world building, I used the Paizo board dice roller to run through the exercise again. Took a few tries to get results that didn't mirror the trends of my deluge of d100s (something like 175 rolls). Came across two sets involving gonzo collections of races and will reserve those to fuel later inspiration.

I went in looking for a traditional fantasy setup but found those specific results charged my creativity but zipped it along other directions. The randomness gives results that force you out of your comfort zones. Some of the reasoning for my excessive rolling laid in trying to develop trends rather than settling with the first set (even though my first set contained most of the races already in my homebrew).

Other times the dice spit out a sets that challenge your intent. It makes you consider alternatives, changes your desired world atmosphere, or even leads you to venture into genres you had no idea you wanted to try.

Ultimately after several more sets treading on my homebrew, I gathered the untried stragglers unique from my prior attempts to divine out a setting's concepts from dice. What follows is the thought process involved in that along with the rolls.
Paizo's PFRPG

- Construct-based Humanoid (user defined)
- Tanuki (short racoon humanoids)
- Samsaran (reincarnated blue-skinned humanoids)
- Serpentfolk
- Medusa

Going to throw a wildcard in there in case the serpentfolk and medusa ideas bleed together.

1d100 ⇒ 92: Construct - Okay, the Medusa aren't mythological medusa but human-machine hybrids with the snake element being artificial. The sorceries of this bond is related to the serpentfolk. Guess the medusa and samsarans will be stand-ins for humans. I prefer some version of humans be present in my settings to work as a starting point.

Since Medusa and Samsarans are human derived, still need one more:
1d100 ⇒ 67: Sasquatch, going the Wookie or Mok route.

Using the World Building Exercise 3 thread filled with a hundred fantasy archetypes/roles, I rolled two roles/occupations for each race to create a spectrum of expertise/focus.

- Construct Humanoid: 1d100 ⇒ 42 1d100 ⇒ 79 > Frontier Warriors & Wayfinders (take that as guides and maybe explorers of ruins)

- Tanuki: 1d100 ⇒ 96 1d100 ⇒ 37 > Defenders & Tribal Shamans

- Samsaran: 1d100 ⇒ 10 1d100 ⇒ 43 > Dilettantes & Masters of the Bow (by the gods, they're blue-skinned Elves)

- Serpentfolk: 1d100 ⇒ 14 1d100 ⇒ 84 > Priests & Tacticians

- Medusa: 1d100 ⇒ 73 1d100 ⇒ 34 > Enlightened Ones & Military Leaders

- Sasquatch: 1d100 ⇒ 94 1d100 ⇒ 77 > Skilled Apprentices & Driven Avengers

Only point I really want clarification on is Skilled Apprentices of what? The answer is 1d100 ⇒ 33 Knight of the Silver Sword.

Actually maybe we'll answer what otherworldly archetypes influence the more pious peoples or even the non-pious ones as a few run too close to theme to offer much variety. Included are impromptu rules for narrowing the rolls based on my first impression of the race/archetypes combo.

- The Constructs are influenced by a concept involving (roll three, reduce down to one singular overarching objective or origin): 1d100 ⇒ 71 1d100 ⇒ 38 1d100 ⇒ 29: Stargazer, Unwilling Mage, Pirate

Created by unwilling mages from the stars, the Constructs were used as raiders to despoil entire planets. A cataclysm separated and freed them from their manipulators, destroying what passed for their old civilization (a foothold on this world). They now travail the ruins of said fallen civilization, looking ever towards the stars of their birth. Perhaps they can one day gather the resources and magic to free their creators from the grasp of their ancient overlords.
by Eric Belisle
Paizo's PFRPG

- The Tanuki Tribal Shamans venerate spirits of (a dichotomy with an outlier, a trio, or some complex gamut): 1d100 ⇒ 8 1d100 ⇒ 11 1d100 ⇒ 7: Mysterious Wise One, Spellcasting Warrior, Land's Redeemer

A spiritual archetype for each adventuring role in their society with an overall goal to save or reclaim the land.

- Samsaran ideology involves (roll three, make it a byzantine affair) 1d100 ⇒ 611d100 ⇒ 99 1d100 ⇒ 86: Heretic, Agent, Rebel

Samsarans have a complex society balanced between agency and rebellion with some heretical outliers.

- Serpentfolk have a pantheon (of five at least) 1d100 ⇒ 851d100 ⇒ 10 1d100 ⇒ 28 1d100 ⇒ 53 1d100 ⇒ 14: Dark Curious, Dilettante, Bored Noble, Warrior of the Nameless Good, Priest

- Medusa enlightenment is a concept of two or more seemingly contradictory ideas 1d100 ⇒ 52 1d100 ⇒ 54 1d100 ⇒ 48: War Dancer, Rugged Frontierman, Berzerker Cultist

- Sasquatch have two wildcard factors, one positive, one negative 1d100 ⇒ 51 1d100 ⇒ 69: Crone's Ranger, Storyteller
by Florian Stitz, for Paizo's PFRPG

Need to clarity a few of the serpent gods (roll two, pick one)
- Dark Curious & 1d100 ⇒ 90 1d100 ⇒ 24 Scientist or Trap Master
- Dilettante & 1d100 ⇒ 31 d100 ⇒ 56 Sage & Skilled Veteran (couldn't decide 1d2 ⇒ 1, sage it is)
- Bored Noble & 1d100 ⇒ 68 1d100 ⇒ 85 Negotiator or Dark Curious
- Warrior of the Nameless Good & 1d100 ⇒ 40 1d100 ⇒ 19 City Speaker or Questing Knight
- Priest & 1d100 ⇒ 12 1d100 ⇒ 23 War Mage or Spellsword

 The detritus will form the basis of a dark pantheon:
- The Master of Traps or the Masters of the Trap, perhaps an aspect of the Dark Curious Scientist
- The Skilled Veteran, perhaps a dark warrior god of barbarians, tyrants, and atrocities opposes the erudite Dilettante, and probably the Noble Negotiator as well.
- The Dark Curious Scientist antagonizes himself/herself and is the nemesis of the Bored Noble Negotiator
- The Questing Knight (& 1d100 ⇒ 25 Beastmaster) is a crusader who is the bane of the urbane Warrior of Nameless Good.
- An dark arcane War Mage/Spellsword (& 1d100 ⇒ 70 1d100 ⇒ 79 Giver of Blessings, Wayfinder, Construct connection?) contests with the War Priest (& 1d100 ⇒ 451d100 ⇒ 10 1d100 ⇒ 77 Knight of the Realm (another variant of the Priest is the nemesis of the Good City-Warrior?), Dilettante (a relationship with the Dilettante?), Driven Avenger (influence with the Sasquatches?)).

These last few results needed a bit more as they're are all similar to priests/paladins or overlap with another deity.
by Andrew Hou
Paizo's PFRPG

The Medusa options didn't offer much for "enlightened", another three gives me: 1d100 ⇒ 21d100 ⇒ 13 1d100 ⇒ 8 Loremaster, Doomspeaker, Mysterious Wise One (connection between the Wise one of the Tanuki and the Medusa beliefs?).

The Medusa are mind-body-integrated, zen-raging, trance-channeling, apocalypse warrior-monks.

Feel like I need more granularity for the Sasquatches. 1d100 ⇒ 90 1d100 ⇒ 17 Scientist, Chosen One
(+) Crone's Ranger and Scientist: The Constructs are rangers, perhaps a Crone works into their history/culture and is connected with the Sasquatches. The Serpentfolk gods (Scientist and Sage) play a positive role for the Sasquatches
(-) Storyteller and Chosen One: Stories foretell a Chosen One who the Sasquatches will have to face or will be hunted by.

There we have it. The formatting is messy, but we have the framework for a setting using two d100 tables of races and archetypes complete with races, specialties, a pantheon and some initial relations and outlooks between the peoples.

Been stuck in a rut of writer's block over the last few months due to school. This exercise removed the initial barrier. There are enough hooks to bite on to jump into a stream of activity if only to develop the present setting points. Time and opportunity permitting, this might be a fun project to scribble away on.

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