No, for me, it's all about improvising off an established melody line. Give me a strong line and I can go nuts. Just look at my Rifts:2112 project, or my Carcossa hacks. I think this is probably a component of why I was attracted to RPGs as a creative conduit rather than, say, creative writing.
I say all this to say that the foundations of my next project, a fun little exercise that's been bubbling away in the back of my head for a few months now, are all gleefully
It all started with noism's post about his Top 10 favorite D&D monsters. I made a comment to that post in which I said I could easily see creating a homebrew world in which these were the only sentient monsters. And so a seed was planted.
The seed began to sprout when I was reminded of the World Builder's Guidebook over on Outsyder Gaming. I picked up this worthy tome shortly after it came out and it has held a place of honor on my bookshelf ever since...although more out of respect than actual use.
Oh, I took a stab or two at using the book for its intended purpose back in the day--despite all my years of gaming, creating a start-to-finish D&D homebrew has remained a great unrealized goal of mine. But those efforts ultimately failed when I found myself simply recreating a knockoff of the Forgotten Realms or Greyhawk. I was a bit too pedantic when it came to D&D back then, unwilling to really stretch limits.
I'm ready to stretch some limits now. Noism's list is a fine starting point, and the final ingredient fell into place when, looking over the list, I was struck by the decidedly "Asian" feel of many of the monsters and I suddenly realized I'd found my ruleset: Ruins & Ronin (the White Box Edition, since I like the simplicity of it). This decision came as a bit of surprise to me, actually. Although I've read a bit on Japanese history and culture and enjoy Miyazaki movies as much as the next person, I'm not a Japan-o-phile by any means. Furthermore, I had read along with the development of R&R but had felt a distinct lack of motivation to run anything with it. But now I do. Can I drag another blogger into this mess and blame Jeff Rients's series of posts on Oriental Adventures for tipping the weight? Don't mind if I do!
So this is the project's goal, formally stated: to use the World Builder's Guidebook to create a homebrew setting for Ruins & Ronin, limiting myself to ten sentient races of "monsters".
That's about all I've got right now, except for a couple tidbits. First of all, I modified noism's list somewhat. The results:
1. Yuan-TiSecond, I'm not interested in making a "Japan with the serial numbers filed off" setting. It's been done to death as much as "Tolkien with the serial numbers filed off". I'm looking into something a little more off the wall, if the presence of "yak folk" on that list of ten sapients didn't tip you off to that already. I have a couple fuzzy ideas on what to do. Maybe an elemental world that references the five Chinese elements (yeah, that's been done at least a couple times, right?) Or taking Marco Polo's description of Cathay as a starting point? We'll see.
Lastly, I've been looking at some classic modules I might be able to adapt to my purposes. Once the setting work's been done, I'm envisioning the starting area as a classic sandbox campaign focused on a small village with a variety of keyed module locations in the vicinity (such as a "Shrine of the Kuo-Toa" for example) for the PCs to explore, along with a nearby ruined castle as a "tentpole" megadungeon. And as for the starting village, what's Japanese for Saltmarsh? ;P