The World Builder

Hey, I’m James Introcaso and I love collaborative stories. Specifically, I love when they’re told around a table, rolling some dice with friends. Enormous legends and small, intimate moments are all part of the experiences we share at the table. I’ve been playing tabletop RPGs since I was nine years old and I unabashedly, whole-heartedly, feel-no-geek-shame-ily, love living in my imagination.

I’ve played a lot of different tabletop games in my 19 years of doing so, but the one that I always come back to is the classic and popular Dungeons and Dragons. It’s easier for newer folks to pick up and I’m all about growing the love for these games. It also is the game that started it all and you can’t go wrong with the original of anything (looking at you, Star Wars).

I’m going to be posting here first about how I build my newest homebrew world. Then, once things get rolling, I’ll be posting about how I prepare for our weekly adventures.

So if you’re down, come on a journey with me. Leave me a comment or a suggestion when you have it, because I’m all about collaboration.

If you want to know more about what I do, you can follow me on Twitter @JamesIntrocaso or head on over to the Podcasts section of this site to listen to me talking RPGs.

I’m also a freelance television writer and producer. You can check out my work at jamesintrocaso.com.

Comments
  1. I was searching the World Building tag and found your blog. I’ve very glad I did as I’m loving the way you go about building your D&D world. 🙂 I look forward to reading along as your world develops.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Derek Bizier says:

    I have finally made it here. I have been listening to the Round Table and interested to see what this place was all about. So far so good, I’m exctied to see what developes from the release of 5th ED materials!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Cardas says:

    James,

    I’m getting back into gaming after nearly 30 years. I’m amazed at how the pastime has turned into a well-supported and developed hobby craft and with supporting communities.

    My motivations are starting with being able to distance gaming with my sons, so I am looking into Fantasy Grounds, etc. As I am going deeper down the rabbit hole, I realize that I need to get (back into) world-building, but using modern tools. Extremely busy, long commutes in some of the worst traffic in the Nations, etc.

    I’ve been looking over your site and a few others, and I’d appreciate it there was a chance to coalesce some of the lessons you’ve learned or developed what are the most effective tools to invest in (I looked over Pyromancers, but, at first glance, kind find the how-to to import into something like Fantasy Grounds).

    I’ve found with other endeavors or hobbies (theses, home beer brewing), a lot of it is more fun with a good upfront, sometimes painful investment in learning the software tools, organization, etc.

    I’ve also found that there is often someone who can say “Looking back over this hobby for the last 10+ years, nowadays, I’d start here…. to really jump in and leapfrog ahead, without having to discover it all like I did.”

    Anyhow, if you have some general advice on getting started, I’d appreciate it, and the chance to ask a few more pointed questions down the road… Some of the things I am looking at:

    — Best (software) tools for developing worlds maps and which can easily be imported into a platform like Fantasy Grounds). Ideally:

    The tool is – I’d like to be able to not have different types of map resolutions which are not linked and have to be synchronized.

    Allow layers, to turn on and off layers of features

    Allow integrated hiding of stuff the characters don’t/should not know: no one ever has a map of all the detail of the whole world – maybe even creating a distorted version, and allow the players to make map corrections of what they think they know.

    — The harshest lessons learned when building world maps, to avoid ‘re-do’ during a game or later down the road. This could be software-related and map design, or the conent inserted into a map, etc.

    — The very best resources you keep going back and back to.

    — Almost the same lessons for the granular leverl, at a settlement/city, as site (‘dungeon’)

    Hey, I realize that this is probably like a firehose; sorry. I actually take a long approach to thes things, but like to scope in detail early on.

    Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey Cardas,

      If you’re going to try distance gaming, starting out with Roll20 is actually a good idea since it’s totally free and you can start messing around with it asap. It’s intuitive and they have tons of helpful videos. I’d start there. Fantasy Grounds is great too, but it costs money and is a little more complicated. If all you want to play is 5e it is seamless though, so that is worth considering for the investment, especially if you decide to play the published adventures which are loaded into the table. Roll20 is my VT of choice at the moment.

      For world maps I use Hexographer (though Roll20 has some Tolkien style old world map packs you can buy to build a world quickly and you can build your world with those). Hexographer is super easy to use and I love it.

      I usually don’t map out cities. I might give a rough neighborhood map (this is here and this is here) if needed, but for the most part they don’t get a lot of use at the table.

      I usually build my dungeons right in Roll20 using their tile sets, but Pyromancer is free and you can export a PNG or PDF easily and then just click and drag it into Roll20. You can even export a dungeon with NO grid or hexes and then bring them into Roll20 and just overlay the hexes that way.

      So Roll20 is the real thing I keep going back too.

      Here’s my advice for Hexographer and Pyromancer – SAVE OFTEN. Those programs can crash.

      All those resources are available for free so check them out. You can even put money into Roll20 and Hexographer if you love them and get more bang for your buck.

      Good luck!

      -James

      Like

  4. Cardas says:

    Hey, Thank you. These are some really good tips, and I’ll start exploring them ASAP

    Thanks!

    Cardas

    Liked by 1 person

  5. jml1971 says:

    Do you have a map of your world?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Dave Plunkett says:

    James, I am looking at making stat blocks of your archons an including them in a thread over at enworld. Would that be OK? FYI, I’m dave2008 over at enworld

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Mike Jones says:

    Hello James,

    I was wondering how to import your games into Roll20. I am new to using it and would appreciate any advice that you could offer. I have enjoyed Prison of Dragons so far.

    Thank you for your time.
    Michael Jones

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey thanks for the kind words. Glad you enjoyed Prison for Dragons. If you download the maps for prison for dragons you can drag them right into Roll20 and they import. Resize the map to match the dimensions of the grid (found in the title of each map when you download it) and you’re good to go. I recommend using Roll20’s SRD 5e character sheet when you create a new game. Makes it really easy to drag spells and monsters that are in the SRD onto your character sheet and you can look stuff up without ever leaving the table. Also this is a huge help – https://wiki.roll20.net/Tutorial

      Like

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