March 12, 2013

How to Cheat at Worldbuilding: Tip #14

One of the ways to enhance a world setting is to include unique locations. Think about Middle Earth for a minute...

Hobbiton - All of the homes are underground.
Erebor - A mountain alone.
Weathertop - A watchtower.
Barrowdowns - A vast burial ground.
Dead Marches - A vast swamp where an ancient battle took place.
Laketown - A town built over a lake.
Helm's Deep - A mountainside refuge.
Isengard - A ring of rocks with a tower at the center.
Mount Doom - An ever-active volcano.

All of those locations evoke memories of the trilogy. They were unique and sparked the imagination. They also helped to make Middle Earth feel different from our own world, thus helping with the fantasy aspect of the setting. And yet...they aren't all that alien to our own world. It was all in the presentation...and the fact most of us do not live down the street from such a location.

How to Cheat at Worldbuilding: Tip #14

World Heritage Sites

Use real-world locations in your own world setting that are unfamiliar to the populace in general. This list of World Heritage Sites includes 962 unique locations spread around the Earth. The linked wikipedia page gives a list of all the Sites by world region.

How to use this resource? When writing up a section of your world find a Site that is similar to the area you are working on. For example, if you are working on a desert-like region pick List of World Heritage Sites in Libya. That page gives some Sites in regions environmentally close to what you are working on. You now have a list of interesting locations you can plunk into your own world setting that will feel unique. Best of all there are often pictures (sometimes multiples of them) that you can print out and show to your players when they get to those locations. In addition, many of the Sites have a fascinating history and may give you some solid ideas for adventures that can be placed at the location.
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