I've been reading a lot of blogs for a while now and some of you have some fascinating things to say and a lot of really good ideas (that I steal from without remorse). I've noticed quite a few people out there creating, or having created, fairly elaborate gaming worlds for your players. And I have to say I'm impressed with what you've done.
I, however, can't seem to think that globally right out of the gate for some reason. I'm not good with imagining global economics and terrain anomalies a racial environments and everything else that comes with building a world. So I decided a few years ago that I would do it exactly the opposite to the normal way of creating a world. I decided to start very small and expand it as the party moved further and further away from their starting location.
I begin the world with an adventure hook to get the party together: a small group of town militia send to a larger city in the south for a mundane, yet important to the town's welfare, errand. So basically, I began the world with a small town and a larger city several days travel to the south. In between I placed a forest, a coastline to the west, a provincial border to the north and some low hills to the east. And that was pretty much it.
|An early, hand-drawn version|
I had placed enough rumors and hooks in all directions to allow them to go any direction they wanted and when they got to each hook, they would find more hooks that would lead them even further away. This allowed me to expand the world at a slower pace and not feel like I wasted a bunch of time creating things that they wouldn't explore for long, long periods of time, or even at all.
Whenever we would start new characters, I would start them in a location already mapped, but near an edge so there would be plenty of opportunity to explore and expand the map. So in effect, the party was helping to create the world in which they were adventuring. And they never even knew it. It was some time before any of them discovered that I had been creating the world as the explored and they were a little surprised to say the least. I think they thought I actually knew what I was doing. Foolish adventurers...
So am I crazy for creating a world backwards or are there other people out there that have done something similar?