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Finch 3E
Home Page. A campaign world and tips. One Thousand Adventures. One Thousand DM Tables. Fantasy Cities.

This page contains the basics of a campaign world, the world of Ryespindle. This page is written for the intro-level DM, and will walk you through the steps of how to use a campaign world. Several plotlines are included, and I walk you through these as well.

What is a Campaign World?
What is a Plotline?
Okay, this sounds like what I need. What next?
Step One. The world in a nutshell

What is a campaign world?
First of all, what is a campaign world? D&D, as you know, is a roleplaying game in which the players play the roles of their characters as the characters have adventures - looting ancient dungeons, fighting dragons, etc. The campaign world is the world in which all of this happens. It isn't necessary to have a campaign world. Many younger gamers (myself included, when I started playing) just take the characters from adventure to adventure, amassing gold and experience. However, if one of the players ever says, 'We go to the nearest village,' you're on the verge of gaming in a campaign world. If you tell him the name of the village, you have a campaign world. It's a very simple one - the map is a blank piece of paper with a single dot in the center and the name of the village labeling that dot. Nevertheless, you've created a world, no matter how small or undetailed, in which your game takes place. And that's a good thing - adventuring in a living, breathing campaign world is a whole new level of gaming. However, lots of newer DMs are a little intimidated by the idea of creating a whole world. Even lots of experienced DMs use a "canned," or pre-prepared, campaign worlds so they can focus their efforts on writing and running adventures.

What is a plotline?
A plotline, also called a "story arc," is a story or situation that links several adventures together. The simplest plotline is to find and defeat a BBEG ("Big Bad Evil Guy"). In the first adventure, the players might not even know of the BBEG's existence. However, the adventure itself provides clues to the fact that the problem they are solving in the adventure is actually only the tip of the iceberg. You can think of your "plotline" as the entire iceberg - each adventure reveals more and more of it to the players. Several beginning plotlines for the World of Ryespindle are included here to give you ideas or for you to use immediately.

What do I do first?

This is the basic version of Ryespindle, so all of the plotlines begin in a single place, the small city of Flee's Harbor. Flee's Harbor is a base for the PC party, and they will probably return to the city a few times before the plotlines eventually lead them to larger cities and beyond.

Take a look at the location of Flee's Harbor on the Campaign Map. Most likely, you will want to give the players a copy of this map. You can see that the city is located in a fairly large area with mountains, forests, and larger cities. Even if you use only the campaign map without any of the other details of the campaign, you will have given your players the feeling that their characters belong to a larger reality. But you'll probably want to use more of the campaign materials than just the map. There are two types of campaign materials - many gamers refer to these as 'crunch' and 'fluff.' Crunchy materials are based on the rules of the game. At the campaign level, these usually include encounter tables and stat blocks as well as things such as new feats and magic items. Fluff includes such things as the descriptions of cities, the histories of magic items, legends, descriptions of deities, and other background information that doesn't actually use the rules of D&D. We're going to focus on the fluff first, because you have to be at least a little familiar with all the fluff to run any campaign world (this is true of any campaign world, of course). The crunch, on the other hand, is reference material. You can look it up when you need it. Therefore, in walking you through the process of gaming in the world of Ryespindle, the hard part is learning enough of the fluffy material to start.

The World in a Nutshell
The best way to start with fluffy information is a quick overview. Here is a very brief description of the World of Ryespindle:

The world of Ysgarden is ancient; city is built upon ruin, built upon ruin, built upon ruin, beneath an ancient, fading red sun. Twin moons glow wan and red at night, faint pale orbs that no longer outshine the stars nearby.

From the forgotten ages, many individuals still live on, having discovered the secrets of immortality, or at least great longevity. These figures of legend have power beyond the ken of mortal man. They have generally absented themselves even from the great events of the world, from a sense of boredom; so many things have already been done, forgotten, rediscovered, and forgotten again that the cycle of forgetting and discovering becomes a source of ennui rather than interest.

Rising in the east is the demi-god Umbariel and his minions, the Order of all Nightfall. Umbariel is a god of darkness, and has also taken on aspects of power over disease and undead by breaking and absorbing the priesthoods of Diargul and Orcus. These greater deities look on with annoyance, harmed only little, given their vast followings elsewhere in the material planes, but ready to perpetrate vengeance upon the upstart if possible.

The very substance of the world is eroding, slipping away into the fabric of other realities. Fey realms, dreamlike and deadly, intrude throughout the lands, although disproportionately in the Pelador Forest. Even worse, entire realms have become disconnected, breaking off to drift in the astral plane. The most significant of these, of course, is the city of Ryespindle. Many others of these nearby astral islands house the immortal wizards and warriors whose minds, like their island realms, have become vague and eerie.

I should mention that the basic idea for the Ysgarden part of the campaign comes from the fiction of Jack Vance. Vance's fiction, and especially his magic, was very influential in the first drafts of the D&D game. The idea of an ancient world with ruins and quirky wizards comes from a series of short stories called 'The Dying Earth,' which has a number of sequels as well.

November 1, 2002. Another great review for my published module! It's going to my head. Read the review here.
August 21, 2002. The module I wrote for Airweaver Games has received a four-star (out of five) rating from EN World staff reviewer Simon Collins! See the review of The Goblin Fair at EN World Review of the Goblin Fair. If you are a player, be warned that the review contains spoilers.

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