A campaign setting which is most certainly NOT called “Dungeon World.”

red-stone-planet-wallpaperI mean, that’s what I wanted to call it, but somebody else got to that name first.

When I returned from hiatus, I made a big show of abandoning Pathfinder, and moving on to Lamentations of the Flame Princess as my game of choice. And for the last few weeks, on and off, I’ve been working on the setting where my first LotFP game will take place: “Not Dungeon World.” (It will have a better name soon). As you might infer from the lack of proper name, the world is far from complete. At present it’s mostly a series of amorphous chunks of content which connect together in some way with which I am not yet acquainted. But I’ve agreed to run the first group of people through the world next week, so I thought I’d start talking about it here.

I have two major goals with this world. The first is to create a setting which I can use for numerous groups of people. I like the idea of running a bunch of different one-off games in this world once its more polished, as a way to get to know more of the tabletop community. Second, I want to make a world which is is weird. I like high fantasy, and I like low fantasy, but now I want to try something which no one has ever done before. And if someone else has done it, please don’t tell me, because I’m enjoying being a special snowflake about this.

Some large-ish quantity of time ago (400-150 years), a great magician known as “The Motherless Warlock” decided to build himself a sanctum. But no mere tower would suffice for the warlock born of man, so he crafted instead a sphere of stone and mortar. He set it adrift in the heavens with the sun and the moons. He took with him his servants and his followers, and reigned unchallenged on the magic-made-world, above the world of mere men below.

A generation ago, The Motherless Warlock left, and did not return. Why he did this or where he went is uncertain. Some speculate that he died, but this seems unlikely as he never appeared to age a day after 30. Others speculate that he ascended to an even higher level of power, beyond the need for his kingdom. Most, however, do not care where he went. They just want to find a way off of this accursed rock he left them stranded upon.

The players were born to this world. Their parents remember living on the green and blue sphere which rises in the sky each day. They tell stories of plentiful food, bustling cities, green grass, and blue sky. The players have known none of these things, but they want to. Everyone wants to! It’s terrible here. The only thing to eat is flavorless grey slop which appears three times a day in the village square–and there’s never enough of it. Supposedly, when the Warlock was here, magical feasts would appear each day. But most of these magical apparatus are broke, and no one knows how to fix them. A few towns have found patches of dirt and tried farming, or tried to domesticate some of the more edible creatures, but these attempts are fraught with danger. The magical runes carved around each town prevent non-human creatures from entering, but that protection does not extend to farms or herds. Most of these are mercilessly destroyed by some magical monstrosity or other.

The only hope for the future, most agree, is to find a portal to the world below. One must be hidden in the labyrinthine depths which fill the innards of the sphere. But who is foolhardy enough to venture down there?

(See why “Dungeon World” would have been a perfect name? Damn).

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6 thoughts on “A campaign setting which is most certainly NOT called “Dungeon World.””

  1. Something about “behavioral sinks” or “Stand on Zanzibar”. Have you looked at descriptions of John C. Calhoun’s 1970’s mice and rat experiments with rodent utopias… May have some very game able stuff.

  2. I like this. Make it a thing. I appreciate you making a rational reason for it being a planet, and further I love the rationale behind dungeon delving. I would love to play in a game like this. Would you ever actually allow people to leave the dungeon?

    1. If someone finds a portal (a profoundly difficult task!) then I suppose what happens next would be up for discussion.

      The game could simply end, as the “primary goal” has been accomplished. Or the portal could lead to a more traditional fantasy world, which is none the less weird in its own right. Or, the players could start using the “normal” world as a base of operations / place to sell their shit, and continue to delve the dungeon from the bottom.

      Or perhaps something bigger ought to happen. I really have no idea.

      1. I could see the players then wanting to lead their families through the dungeon to the portal, which gives you all sorts of great gaming potential:

        getting back through the dungeon
        convincing their families / towns to join them back in
        leading them through
        establishing new towns in the strange new world with the survivors of the town

        and there you have it! It would be insanely difficult to do any of the things on that list, not to mention all of them, and I feel it would be a very rewarding experience.

        1. There could be multiple portals – some leading to worse places…

          There could be one portal but the key(s) is lost and/or the portal leads to a different world/dimension depending on the key used to open it.

          There is one portal but it leads to different locations depending on the time/date/celestial configuration.

          There is one portal – but the world it leads to was ruined by an ecological disaster.

          The last could be a real kick-in-the-head or the players could find their characters well-qualified to rule the ruins based on their experience in dungeon world.

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