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World Design with 1000 Blank White Cards
Posted By Matthew J. Neagley On September 26, 2011 @ 1:00 am In Tools for GMs | 4 Comments
1000 Blank White Cards is a fun game on it’s own, but it’s also a tool that can be twisted to any number of uses. Here’s just one way to make it’s creative synergy and frenetic energy work for you: use it to design your campaign world. Like other collaborative world building methods, this system allows your entire group to have input into your campaign world. It also takes advantage of the creativity and synergy of your entire group.
Start with a rough understanding of what you’re creating (game system, genre, etc…) so that everyone is on the same page and then play 1KBWC. This variant uses only three types of cards: Locations, Location Details, and World Details, all explained below, and requires a relatively sizable play area. Otherwise, it plays much like the original game. If you’re not familiar with the rules of 1KBWC, you can read them here.
Location cards are the heart of this variant. They have the name of a location, a picture, and if necessary a short description or a few details written underneath. Resist the temptation, however to add more than a sentence or so. Part of the fun is allowing the locations to “grow organically”. These locations can be as macro or micro as you desire. Countries, forests, haunted houses, lakes, monster dens, and hidden chambers are all fair game.
Location cards are played into a communal play area wherever you desire with their relative positions representing rough map locations (unlike the base game there is only one area and ownership is irrelevant). Thus if the “Ruined Hilltop Keep” is placed on the table to the right of the “Living Mountain”, The keep is roughly to the East of the mountain in the finished game world.
Location cards can also be “nested” inside or outside of one another. If “Island on the back of a whale” is in play, another player can play “Twisting underground maze” as a sub-location of Island on the back of a whale (presumably the entrance is the whale’s blowhole) and another might play “ocean of madness”, making the whale island a sub location of the ocean. There’s no limit to how many sub locations a location can contain or how far you can “nest” locations aside from common sense. However, each location you nest within another is a location not on your map, so keep an idea of the right balance of quantity versus density of locations that you want.
Location Detail cards have an item, group, organization, individual or the like on them. Their purpose is to add some additional details to locations and populate your world. Like Location cards, they feature a name, a picture, and a short description. Location Detail cards can only be placed within locations and apply only to the location in which they are placed.
World Detail cards include details that pertain to the entire world. Gods, planes, details of the cosmos, histories, ubiquitous races, organizations, and technologies, hazards, and other world-spanning items belong on World Detail cards. These cards feature a name, picture, and some details. These cards are placed in a special area off to the side of the map. In general, the order these cards are played makes no difference, but if they represent past events, the order they’re played or arranged will form a sort of timeline for the world. Many Location Detail cards and World detail cards are interchangeable. A race card placed in a location appears only there. Placed in the world detail area, it is found throughout the entire world. Items, technologies, and other cards can be placed in either area similarly.
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