Sunday, April 01, 2007


I had an idea today. It came in part from reading an old Dragon, in part from looking at Tunnels & Trolls 7th Edition and in part from the weather (warm, breezy weather acts like a creative battery for me; science has not yet determined the process by which this occurs). I've got a lot to say about it, but I'll cut to the chase.

PROJECT: MURLYND (its working title) is a 30-day attempt at creating a FRPG campaign setting. The idea is to sketch out a campaign setting in broad strokes, and to add some bit of work (whatever it is) every day for a month. Therefore, it's as much about creativity as it is about dedication.

I'm easily distractible and lazy, so the idea of giving myself a 30-day project like this is scary and exciting at the same time. I want to get myself used to, you know, working on something consistently, so PROJECT: MURLYND is a way to do that.

Some of you old school guys and gals out there might remember Dragon #71, which featured an article entitled "Greyhawk's World" by Gary Gygax himself. The article detailed a quartet of "quasi-deities" from the author's campaign, and one of them was this guy:

Yup. That's Clint Eastwood all right. Well, it's Murlynd, and he was into the American Old West, despite being an AD&D character. He had a pair of pistols and a horse and a dancing broadsword.

In an AD&D game.

Obviously, his player, and Gygax, liked this crazy notion enough to not only allow it in the game but to publish it in Dragon as Greyhawk material. In other words, they thought it was cool so they went with it.

That my friends, is where I'm taking my major inspiration: if it's cool, put it in the campaign setting. To hell with over-thinking; nuts to fiddly-bits. Just come up with a wide framework, like girders in a building. Fill in the details later.

And add something every day, for 30 days.

It will start off with the really broad stuff -- how many kingdoms or areas, their names and general (very general) flavors, gods worshipped, and so on. Then it'll move on to some somewhat more specific things like a few notes on this Mongolian-esque nomad tribe or that hidden city. It'll end with a map, which won't even be all that detailed, because when I try to do it the other way I get frustrated for some reason.

Taking a page from Peter Spahn's Chronicles of Amherth, it'll include a series of drag-and-drop ideas not associated with any location or culture -- kind of a grab-bag of adventure fodder.

The project has a few rules:

1. Keep it broad!
Every entry just needs enough info in it to inspire detal later on, NOT to dictate it. Population distribution and stuff like that is cool, but it's cooler to know that the South Plains are inhabited by megalithic monsters and prehistoric mammals the size of SUVs.

2. Add something every day!
This is about focus more than anything. It's about actually doing it and having something to show at the end.

3. Use of found elements is allowed!
In other words: license to steal. As long as I put my own spin on it, or use it to shape something else, or at least think it's cool...then it's cool. Got a copy of Keep on the Borderlands? Put that mofo in there. Cool picture on Jeff Rients' blog? Snatch. Want Abe Vigoda and Pat Benatar to be deities? Yea, baby, you're making gravy without the lumps!

4. Don't get obsessed!
Seriously. It's just a gameworld. C'mon, it's got Pat Benatar in it!

Well...let's see how this works.