Peasants To Principality: Introduction To World Building Part 2 Bottom Up Design.

Posted by: Jason Silverain / Category: , , , , , , ,

Greeting and Salutations, following up on the previous post regarding approaches to world building today in this post I will be giving a similar brief overview of the Bottom Up Design. In the future I hope to write an example of these concepts put into practice as I create my own setting for a upcoming campaign I will be running.

Bottom Up Design: The Basic Concept

Bottom Up Design explained in its simplest form is this: Beginning at the initial element required expand outwards designing each addition element that will be required or interacted with.
As the astute amongst you may realise this is not quite the opposite of Top Down Design and in fact has more in common with ad libbing in its method (though some would argue that ad libbing is Bottom Up Design in its most pure form), when used as a design tool it allows a setting to grow organically as additional elements and details are added as needed.

An example of this in practice using our space setting from before would have our designer beginning with an element typically a location: Determining the first element that the campaign will require is the location the party will begin our designer creates a space station, its inhabitants, visitors and services, any adventures that occur upon the space station, then space ships (if not provided by the game system), the local solar system, locations that the party will be required to visit within the locals system etc.

This simple example above shows the narrow focus of Bottom Up Design and how already established designed elements are returned to and built upon with additional details as newer elements are introduced.
While it does traditionally focus only on elements the players will interactive with Bottom Up Design can be used to develop highly detailed if narrowly focused settings in advanced.

Advantages And Disadvantages

The main advantages of the Bottom Up Design method are:
  • Focused approach aids in building detailed locations, characters and set pieces.
  • Reduced initial book keeping requirements due to no unnecessary details or locations.
  • Easy to add new elements as required. This can also help settings feel less artificial in design due to their organic growth and naturally works well with ad libbing.
  • Typically faster and less work intensive than Top Down Design.
  • Setting locations can be used for play while the overall setting continues to be expanded.
  • Best used to create individual locations, adventures and set pieces or in campaigns which are focused in a single area or region.
The main disadvantages of the Bottom Up Design method are:
  • Due to its narrow focus players can more easily move beyond the developed setting, this can force a Dungeon Master to ad lib on the spot or heavily guided or 'rail road'' the party to remain within the settings confines.
  • Designing can become stuttered or even halted if an particular element becomes difficult to work upon. 
  • As the setting organically grows it can be difficult to keep elements consistent and requires good note taking and book keeping as the game progresses.
  • When used to design expansive areas it can be more time consuming than Top Down Design. 

I hope this little article series has helped with understanding Top Down and Bottom Up Design, the next aim of this series is to take these methods and to create a setting using them.

Read more »

Peasants To Principality: Introduction To World Building Part 1 Top Down Design.

Posted by: Jason Silverain / Category: , , , , , , , ,

Greetings and salutations, over the years as a Dungeon Master and Amateur Writer I have observed many new people to the hobby of roleplaying feeling they are ready to move beyond the beginners prewritten adventures ask just how to begin designing an adventure or a setting of their own.
While there are many methods available the effectiveness of which depending exactly what the Dungeon Master desires I will be creating a small series of short articles and videos focusing on Top Down and Bottom Up design with later examples of their use as I create my own world setting.

These two design methods are very similar and simple in concept  and focus more on the order of how things are created than the method of creation but each has its own advantages and disadvantages and in practice are bested used in combination than relying on either of them entirely.

Basic Overview Video

Top Down Design: The Basic Principle

Top Down Design explained in its simplest form is this: Beginning at the highest level design each element moving a step lower each time.
In practice for example: a space setting a designer may begin at a galactic level deciding upon how many solar systems are within the galaxy, what empires if any span this galaxy.

Of course this is a very simple example that does not go into fine detail or down to the bottom level but its easy to observe the premise.

This can also be used on a smaller scale so if you wished to design a city for example:
  1.  Design or take an existing city map that has no features listed on it.
  2.  Decide upon any locations of districts within the city and their basic properties.
  3. Focus next on its government, laws and associated bodies of power such as the guard or the military including key figures.
  4. Flesh out each district in turn in regards to businesses, problems and key figures. 

Advantages And Disadvantages

The main advantages of using the Top Down Design approach are:
  • Builds the overall setting in moderate detail allowing for play to move between areas or begin in different locations with more ease.
  • Results in expansive notes regarding key locations, figures or laws even if they are footnotes or just names aiding further development and bookkeeping.
  • Easier to keep design choices within the world consistent.  
  • Leaves room for later expansion as new locations can be added to existing areas where the setting has not been fleshed out.
  • Best used for creating settings that are intended to be used for long campaigns, repeatedly or across different locations and games that involve expansive travel such as Rogue Trader. 
The main disadvantages of using the Top Down Design approach are:
  •  Requires advanced preparation before play begins and depending on scope of setting can be very time consuming. Especially if the level of detailed required for each area is unknown which can result in necessary areas been devoid of fine details when required.
  • Lends itself to a encyclopaedic nature of world building which can result in far too much time been spent on unnecessary work in areas players will never encounter. This can also make it difficult for those unfamiliar with the setting to use it in their own games or create adventures for the setting due to amount of lore that dungeon masters need to be familiar with.

I hope this little article has helped with beginning understanding Top Down Design, in our next article we'll be taking a look at Bottom Up Design.

Read more »

Update: New KAMB adventure coming and Youtube Channel updates

Posted by: Jason Silverain / Category: , , , , ,

Greetings and Salutations.

First of all I wish to apologise to the slow update this month, the events of the last few weeks have been hectic for myself and its left me with little time to get into the mindset to really sit down properly.

However in more positive news I've almost completed another short Kobolds Ate My Baby Adventure which should be posted later this month, also with the complete slow down of news and progress on Chapter Master I'll be trying to take a look at a 22 year old unreleased game by DerrickMoore from 12bayforums:

Here is a game from 1994 I'm accidently releasing because I no longer have a computer that can run this un-released game.

It's the story of a half-company of Dark Angels sent to kill the heretic Nokar, a traitorous Imperial Commander.

 I really want some screenshots of the game, since I have no art from this game at all in my portfolio and it's one of the most important (to me) games I've ever made. (this game is 22 years old, and I beleave that I have the only copy and that if I dont get some screenshots, this art and story will be lost forever.)

so? can anyone run this, and get me some screenshots? anyone with the patience to, will be rewarded with the awesome full motion video Space Marine movie that plays in between levels.

there are 5 levels, Space-Orks, then Cultists, then Tyranids.... The graphics, well, think 1990s, 640x480 and only 256 colors in the whole game 

Meanwhile  I've also been updating the Youtube Channel regularly and have several Lets Play series complete including:


Missing Translation

Last Word

Finally due to Youtubes own growing problems I have been creating a back up of my shorter videos over at Daily Motion.

Read more »