The Art of Building A World

On June 14, 2013 by T.
The World of Tellurion

A view of the Twin Planets, the Galactic Currents Fate and Destiny, over the Windwood Isle, in Hadria. Art by KittyD @DeviantART.com

The World

The World. My favorite tarot card. To me, it’s the most powerful major arcana symbol – the totality, the all-encompassing unity. I’ve always been drawn to think big. Even in the early years of story writing for the weekly D&D session, there was something about tying the knots and making sure each part of the adventure, even each character and NPC, fit perfectly within the theme and the structure of the World.

I began exploring fantasy Worlds from a very young age. World building was my thing. You see, growing up in Brazil, we didn’t have access to many resources. Brazilian culture has no replacement for medieval/fantasy themes from European culture. There are no castles, no knights, no dragons. When we consumed fantasy, it was always imported fantasy through cartoons, books, film, and games. The closest we get to fantasy in Brazil is during Carnaval (and that’s really not the kind of fantasy that I wanted to write about).

When I was a kid, there were no video games, no Internet. There were no role-playing games in Portuguese. The only RPGs we had access to were in English: not our first language. So, what do you do when you have limited resources? You have to get creative.

World Building

I remember when my dad bought me my very first Dungeons & Dragons boxed set. I was 13. It meant the world to me (thanks dad). It actually meant the world to me and my friends. Before the boxed set my dad gave me, we were clueless. We had our own RPG system, developed after  playing the fighting fantasy books for so long. We had dabbled with introductory games like DragonStrike (watch the video below this post for a treat) so we were ready for the “official” role-playing game: Dungeons & Dragons.

Original Dungeons & Dragons Boxed Set

Original Dungeons & Dragons Boxed Set

It also meant I needed to learn the rules, and then translated and teach them to my friends. Due to my language training at a very early age (thanks mom), I was the only one who was capable of sort of understanding English. So, by default I became the Dungeon Master – which was fine with me. I got to design the entire adventure and teach all the rules of the game.

When we didn’t understand something, we improvised. And we improvised a lot. So much so, that we ended up with rules of our own in worlds of my own. The rule books became more of a source of inspiration – I started to build new and more complex maps, rules, and ended up with my version of D&D. My fiends went along and loved it. We did nothing else but play – every day – for 3 hours on weekdays, and entire days on the weekends.

From D&D to RPG Mastery

We never really figured out how to properly play Dungeons & Dragons. We improvised a lot and changed the rules to suit our understanding of them. But, as I grew, so did my English vocabulary. I started to re-read the materials and figure the rules out. There were also other kids in the neighborhood that knew how to play this newer system called Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. It was time to advance. So, I joined the new group of kids and they taught me AD&D. Our group of friends had grown, and with it more and more resources. In those days, we shared everything: books, miniatures, dice. I consider those days as one of the most incredibly creative years of my life. We had so much fun in Forgotten Realms, or Dragonlance, or even Ravenloft. And later, my personal favorite: Planescape.

Before I turned 18, I had mastered D&D, AD&D, Marvel Heroes, MERP, Shadowrun, Vampire, Werewolf, Kult, Pendragon, and many other systems. We had weekend sessions playing in multiple worlds, with multiple rules systems, and campaign settings. The limited resources of childhood were replaced by an abundance of source materials that my friends and I shared collectively.

It was then that I started to envision the World I’ve always wanted to build. After learning all of those systems, there was a new World that wanted to be born. This new World would, years later, become Tellurion.

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