I really can’t stand reading about campaign settings. Truly, I hate the bland, boring style of most campaign world books and gazetteers. Paragraphs and paragraphs about cities and states and gods and magic and huge, unnecessary timelines. That’s not what I’m interested in, when it comes to world building, neither as a player nor a GM. I’ve never been one for Google Earth. I’m more interested in the street view.
I care about stories. I care about poems and people and the songs they sing. I love reading journal entries and legends. I want to hear not about how these two political factions are at war and the one of them is led by master blah-blah-blah. No, what I want to hear is how Curtis of Hightower feels about the war. Is he worried that the Darklings are going to come snatch his children in the night? Or does he feel safe under the reign of King Toughguy? When I play a bard, my goal isn’t to just gather quest markers from barkeeps, but to learn stories and songs from the people around town and trade legends with other bards.
Which brings us to my new series of articles: Straight Out of Subvera. These are my notes about my homebrew campaign world: Subvera. But rather than write them out as long, expository paragraphs that might be typical in a textbook, I’m going to add a little perspective, and a little character.
Every Straight Out of Subvera will be a story or a poem, or a song or legend, or a journal entry, or a conversation. It will be a snapshot from the world itself, and from the people within it. They’re intentionally vague. I will never come right out and say whether something is a fact or a myth, and I will never step back and take a clinical look at these articles. They are told from the perspective of the people who inhabit Subvera, and therefore the information within them is tainted and tinged by their own biases and personal experiences.
Because that’s what life is. Life is tainted by bias. It is shaped by memory and personal experience. By fears and favors. By beauty and blood. And when you inhabit a world, your perspective should be that of someone within that world, not that of a god looking down from on high. Continue reading