Worldbuilding

posted by Cireon on 22 June 2019 at 03:17 | Discuss on our Forums

In an earlier article, I spoke about Dungeons & Dragons, and why you should get started on it. There are many reasons why the game is so much fun to play. As opposed to computer games, D&D allows you to go out of the bounds of the rules and the framework of the game. When that happens, you just make something up and roll with it. That's what we call rule zero of D&D: the rule of cool. If it's cool, it goes. It means that if you think your character should use that chandelier to swing through the room to land on the shoulder of a big ogre so you can stab it in the eye, then by all means, go for it.

Going out of the boundaries isn't limited to just the rules though. In D&D, the players make the story. There is a call to adventure, and whatever follows is up to the players. Do the players choose to follow your main quest, or are they more interested in helping that old woman they happen to stumble upon.

As players grow more powerful, they can have a bigger influence on the world. Players in D&D at maximum level have basically ascended to be a demigod, and can influence the politics or geography of a world completely. At that point, the tabletop group is no longer just storytelling, they are world building.

The Dungeons & Dragons books come with several world settings. Forgotten Realms and Waterdeep are the two famous ones, and actually have several novels set into them. If you start a D&D campaign, you are likely to start in one of these settings. If you want to take things a step further though, you could start making your own world.

To me, one of the most fun things of being the game master of a D&D campaign is that I get to decide how the world looks, what is going. I've spent many hours coming up with the world's history, building maps, thinking about politics, and more. I think world building is inherently a fun activity, and it is a great reason to start learning more about history, politics, geography, currency, and what not. World building is often linked to writing a novel, or maybe making a movie or game as a stretch. Those are great reasons to start thinking about your own world, but you don't have to limit yourself to that. Coming back to D&D, I have found that starting to play a tabletop RPG with friends makes me much more motivated to work on that world. Starting from session one, you get to share that world. You are playing with people who are motivated to figure out the secrets you are not telling them. At times, they want to figure out the secrets that even you have not figured out yet. This makes you dive into new parts of your world.


Cireon's World Map

World building is something you can do anywhere, anytime. If I'm bored on the train or taking a shower, I sometimes think of new parts of my world, come up with new ideas, fill in some gaps. Slowly but surely, my folder of notes is growing.

If you want to get started, let me start with some quick tips:

  • Focus on plausibility. Fantasy and science fiction worlds will almost never be completely realistic, but it should at least be believable in some way.
  • Be consistent. This ties into the previous point: if something behaves in a certain way at one point, it should do that everywhere.
  • Steal. Cliches exist for a reason: they work. Don't be afraid to fall back on them in your world. If you like something in a different setting, consider how it fits in your world. Make sure to give it your own spin and make it your own, and it will work. This isn't limited to other worlds, look at history for inspiration too!
  • Embrace imperfection. When I started with thinking about my worlds, I spent a long time revising every single line on my map. I was afraid to committing to any decision. Not only did it slow me down, it also took the fun out of it. During D&D sessions, I've had to improvise parts of my world building. In hindsight, I wasn't always happy with what I came up with, but I spun it around and incorporated it anyway. You can always go back and revise things you don't like, and maybe an imperfect decision leads to an interesting unforeseen consequence down the road.

Even if you're not into world building, consider exploring an existing one instead. There is a lot of information on existing worlds, and even as Dungeon Master of a campaign you can explore that world alongside your players.

I want to end this article with a quick paragraph that introduces the world that my D&D players are currently playing in. There is a lot more going on in the background, but I don't want to spoil the secrets just yet.


As long as is known, dwarves and elves have wandered the lands. The dwarves dwelled in the mountains, with their seat of power in the underground city of Kheg Kohldur, where the majestic forges burn day and night. In the mythical forests, the elves would reign. Anybody unpure of heart trying to reach the ivory towers of the elven city E'hathas would be forever lost.

The peace would not last, as dragons arrived on the world flying through the Void, carrying on their backs gnomes, halflings, humans, and dragonborn. Where they landed, the dragons forged the city of Alannar, the Obsidian City, as a new home for these races. Dwarves and elves sent representatives to speak to these new people, and a peaceful co-existence was agreed upon.

The chromatic dragons wanted more, and with the metallic dragons retreated, they coerced the humans to expand into the lands of the ancient races. After the dwarves and elves spoke to Bahamut, the Platinum Dragon, and reminded him of the pact, the metallic dragons swiftly ended the war, and banished each and every dragon, including themselves.

Many centuries passed, as prosperity flowered. This changed abruptly when the now powerful Obsidian Empire loses one of its main keeps. Within years, they find themselves being overrun by an army of unknown people, who have travelled through a portal from another world. Meanwhile, there are signs that the war is hiding a much more important problem. A problem that could mean the end of the world.


It’s a patch week including changes to the motherload maw, action bar, and inspection of Farming seeds. We separate out controversy from fact with regards to the Mahjarrat aura and take a look at the Slayer and Agility components of The Land Out of Time.

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For many RuneScape players, I included, nothing conjures nostalgia like the feeling of Old School style combat. Back in the day, each weapon included its own unique style bonuses which could be tremendously beneficial depending on the opponent’s weakness. Oftentimes, these differences were significant enough that it was common to select a lower tiered weapon more suitable for taking advantage of this system. Additionally, special attacks were a huge part of the game – much more so than today – which gave players a feeling that selecting the right weapon was truly impactful. For the purpose of this article, I won’t be delving in depth on any of the individual weapons, as they are subject to change and the information could soon be meaningless.

Today however, while the combat meta involves intense switching to maximize DPS at the highest levels, for the most part the ideal selection of those weapons is pre-determined by their tier. Simply put, if weapon A is higher tiered than weapon B in the same combat style, there’s virtually no reason one would choose weapon B. In recent months, and especially since the last Game Jam, Jagex has revealed an interest in bringing weapon diversity back. Certain weapons such as the Seren Godbow and Eldritch Crossbow have been given game changing special attacks that have made them an important part of any high level ranged load-out, but the goal of the latest RuneScape Beta is to make weapon diversity more widespread by giving numerous types of weapons special abilities. From browsing the RuneScape social media and forums communities, it seems like the reaction to this update plan is a mixed bag. Most people feel that the idea of weapon diversity is cool in theory, but question the implementation, that potential for it to be another batch update, and the need for such an update in the first place. Additionally, the beta being riddled with bugs and the initial article explaining the weapons being incredibly confusing didn’t help matters (it has since been revised).

While I think these concerns are all valid and should be addressed, as I said on the June 7th episode (727) of RSBANDBUpdate! – Critical Diversity of Thought – it is important to analyze the need for this update from multiple perspectives.

For me, this update is likely to have a relatively small effect on the way I play the game. I will continue to use whatever the best in slot weapons are for each style and bring as many switches as possible to maximize damage. Unfortunately, I am concerned this update will contribute even further to switch scape, particularly for the melee style. It’s already common to bring 5-6 weapons in a standard melee preset, 7 if using a scythe for distance at a place like Vorago (Zamorak God Sword, Khopeshes, flanking, lunging, statius hammer/Dragon b-axe for spec). Including weapons such as the spear which will only serve the purpose of being a weapon switch could make the highest levels of PvM feel more inaccessible than ever for players who are still struggling to juggle 2-3 switches. Additionally, the last few years has represented a substantial increase in lossless power creep. Invention gave us free DPS in the form of perks like Biting and Precise, the berserk aura “fix” greatly increased the power of those auras, and colored rune pouches gave us the largest functional inventory size in game history. These free/lossless buffs aren’t even accounting for things like 4TAA, flanking, and mutated barge which required some degree of increased effort to use. While on one hand lossless power creep means a lot of bosses are generally more accessible to the player base, it has the unfortunate side effects of taking much of the challenge away from more experienced players and lowering prices across the board of rare boss loot.

However, this update has the potential for a lot of upside too. I think the place where it could be most welcome if done properly is among more casual players who spend most of their time doing mid-tier content. Despite my belief the full manual and switching gives a feeling of control that makes combat more engaging, many players still feel hesitant to make the leap from revolution. My hope is that weapon diversity will be balanced in a way that makes it reasonable for players to select one kind of weapon over another for its potential benefits. For example, players who feel like they want a bit more sustainability might go with a 2H sword to feel more confidence even if something like maces would be more damage. Additionally, I think this gives players a window into switching that doesn’t come with the potential confusion and precision that comes from invention related switching. I hope giving players a greater sense that their decisions about gear can truly determine their experience will move the game away from its current direction of simply number crunching for the best loud out/rotations and using those.

In terms of the individual changes themselves, I want to wait to pass judgment on them. On release maces were the only weapons that jumped off the page as totally broken, but have since been fixed. The changes to magic aren’t terribly interesting – fire spells are a straight increase in damage with no tradeoff, earth spells could become a sweaty switch and will likely become another popularly used macro. (Remember this is currently against game rules and can result in a ban.) The changes to range all feel pretty balanced – I have some concerns about the 1H crossbow special making the weapons that are already the best even better, but it seems like they aren’t very concerned with power creep in this update. Melee is the most interesting. While some of the abilities are straight upgrades to already commonly used items (2H sword for example) none seem terribly overpowered. I’m not a huge fan of weapons like the spear which seem like they’ll just be another switch, but thematically all of the abilities make some sense.

In general, I’m very excited about the potential for this update to be one of the biggest for combat since the Evolution of Combat itself, particularly for mid-tier and casual players. I hope the mods will be bold with this one and not bend too much from their concept in response to social media hot takes and memes. It’s been a very solid year of updates so far and I hope they’ll continue with another win with this one.


We detail the changes to Smithing and how their ultimate goal is to improve the Mining economy. We also provide updates on the weapon diversity beta and have a frank discussion about the progress that has been made thus far on RS mobile.

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A name can mean all the difference. It can mean that a child is ridiculed in school or he fits in with the group. When it comes to developing new content for RuneScape, the name means everything. It has recently been revealed that the summer update following from Desperate Times will be billed as “The Land Out of Time” or Anachronia as its in-game name. This new area will include lore tidbits following Desperate Times, the new Hunter update, as well as yet detailed (at the time of writing) Slayer and Agility features. The in-game name as known by NPCs is Anachronia. Say the word Anachronia and you’ll know why The Land Out of Time was chosen.

RuneScape 3 is its own unique brand and one that has been tuned for years on the marketing front. The observant now will tell you three things about The Land Out of Time:

  1. It resides near the same place on the world map where fossil island exists on Old School RuneScape.
  2. The boat from the Dig Site will presumably take us to The Land Out of Time.
  3. In concept artwork this new island has been called “DI”, short for “dinosaur island”.

Swamp Concept Art

There is nothing that has been said by Jagex that confirms that The Land Out of Time is the RuneScape 3 incarnation of Fossil Island. I don’t play Old School RuneScape, as a result I have no first hand experience of how Fossil Island was received or how the content plays out today. From a quick look at the RuneScape Wiki for Fossil Island what we’re slated to get with The Land Out of Time doesn’t parallel to Fossil Island.

What does parallel is the “fossil” aspect. From what we have seen of early concept artwork and videos we’ll be hunting and avoiding giant dinosaur like creatures. This of course lead to Jagex producing one of their classic on location teaser videos.


While we haven’t heard the term “Fossil Island” mentioned in regards to this update from Jagex, it’s what the players are thinking. There are both positives and negatives to seeing this as Fossil Island. On the positive side we’ll have a chance to see what the RuneScape 3 interpretation of this island is. It has long been said that RuneScape 3 and Old School share the same lore, we’re just witnessing a different interpretation. On the negative side, some may want to see a closer rendition to the Fossil Island of Old School RuneScape. Also on the positive side, the community can use this as a reason for Old School players to check out RuneScape 3. And finally, the biggest negative, it sabotages the RuneScape 3 brand.

RuneScape 3 is the flagship game that Jagex develops. We saw a release of Old School RuneScape on mobile last year that drew headlines from the gaming press and brought people to the game. When dealing with products that have the lineage and age of the RuneScape franchise, they need to be treated with careful respect. When Old School RuneScape released on mobile there was tremendous confusion in some stories about whether or not Old School RuneScape was just “RuneScape.” The world’s most successful products are built on respected brands. RuneScape 3 needs to be respected.

To recap, while there are undeniable similarities and canonically The Land Out of Time is in all likelihood RuneScape 3’s interpretation of Fossil Island, it shouldn’t be called that. RuneScape 3 has a lot of potential in the next 12–18 months. Building RuneScape 3 is similar to a government making political decisions. There is capital won, lost, and spent with the players. Capital was saved by going for the simple comp cape rework, capital will be spent on the big Hunter update, and capital was earned with the Mining and Smithing rework. To execute a successful large update it needs to not be overshadowed either internally by another game or in the press by confusion of marketing titles.

The RuneScape community is an entity that can not be understated and there’s nothing like it anywhere else. The community will see the similarities between the release of The Land Out of Time and Fossil Island in Old School RuneScape and call it Fossil Island. The Jagex marketing team will hope that this doesn’t happen but it will be hard to prevent. At the end of the day our new summer update should be called Fossil Island but marketing for the future of RuneScape 3 will say that it doesn’t get called Fossil Island. This sums up the best reasoning as to why The Land Out of Time isn’t called Fossil Island.