A Game Master's Guide to Worldspinner

There are many ways to use Worldspinner to help prepare or run your fantasy roleplaying game. Below, we'll discuss some we think you may find useful.

If you haven't already used Worldspinner, we recommend starting with the Walkthrough. It will show you all the basics in just a few minutes, after which the rest of what you read here will make more sense.

Planning your game

What kind of stories do you want to tell?

Worldspinner helps you build an entire world for your campaign. But to know what kind of world you need for your game, you need to know what your game is all about. What kind of story do you want to tell? What kind of game do your players want to play?

Think about overarching themes. Your game is much more rewarding for you and your players if it’s more than just slaying monsters and collecting their loot. Would you like to explore how dark magic affects the world? Are you interested in a game in which the heroes lead a rebellion against a tyrannical king? Do your players want to see a lot of dragons, undead, or nightmare creatures? Think about what story elements you wish to emphasize, and that will go a long way towards making sure you spin just the right world. Look through some of Worldspinner’s Adventure Themes; they may already address some of the ideas you are considering and suggest interesting directions to enrich your world.

Consider the kinds of stories you want to tell. A game in which your players are simple farmers, no different from the others in their village, who are striving to preserve their world from the hobgoblin hordes in the mountains is considerably different from a game in which the players are all experienced witch-hunting sailors who travel the globe to stop powerful sorcerers, necromancers, and demons.

Consider your players

Think about the types of characters your players want to play. If they are interested in druids, rangers, and barbarians, you’ll want lots of wilderness to explore. Similarly, islands and archipelagos are perfect if your players want to try their hands as pirates, captains, and other nautical characters.

Ask your players! While an omnipotent GM who guides his players through the world is a legitimate approach, letting your players tell you what they want can be far more rewarding. If one player wants to run a fallen priest attempting to redeem herself while another seeks to play a bard private detective, you will want to make sure the game you create provides plenty of opportunities for your players to explore their character concepts.

Finally, consider T.S. Eliot’s famous aphorism: Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal. Think of the stories you know and love; adapting these tales into a fantasy game has several advantages. You are intimately familiar with the themes, plots, and motivations of the characters in your favorite movies, books, and video games – use them! When you begin an adventure with elements that allude to stories your players know, the immediately recognizable shorthand pulls your players in. You can provide homework – a short story to read, or a pre-published setting guide to give them the flavor and feel of the game world in advance. Many of Worldspinner’s themes start with a short story, readable in less than an hour, for just this purpose.

Akira Kurosawa’s masterpiece, Seven Samurai, is a great example. It features a series of adventures in which heroes have to defend a village from an upcoming bandit attack. The heroes must train the villagers to fight, build defenses, and make midnight sorties into the bandit’s forward camp to reduce their numbers. Can they save the village while navigating the suspicions and fears of the villagers?

What backstory enhances the stories you want to tell?

Once you’ve decided on an idea for your game, take some time to consider the history prior to the starting point for your game, and consider how past events can provide a rich narrative to explore. Worldspinner can do much of that work for you; see the History section below.

Let’s say your players enjoy fighting the undead, and you’ve decided that a plague of such creatures threatens to overrun civilization in your game. Why? Did they first appear decades ago, when a powerful magical ritual went awry? Who was involved, and how did their failure impact the larger world? Perhaps the ritual was intended to end a years-long drought. A devious wizard corrupted the ritual, instead using its tremendous energy to grant her immortality. As the ritual failed, the lands went permanently fallow – think of how the various nations were torn apart by the consequences. And what of the wizard? Now a lich, was she destroyed by a legendary hero? Perhaps the lich’s remains have now been found after all these years by a power-hungry priest who raises an army from the dead who suffered all those years ago. Don’t worry about filling in every detail of your world’s history; focus on the specific historical events that support your vision. Again, Worldspinner’s themes may be some good starting points

Two dramatic principles that work well with a rich history are Foreshadowing and Chekov’s Gun. Foreshadowing allows you to influence the direction and overall feel of the game in subtle ways. If your players seek to stop a powerful warlord from finding a mythical blade to conquer nations, consider the sword’s history. Has a similar scenario happened in the past, and if so, how was the threat ended? Perhaps the tale of the sword’s previous demise is a tale known by all, considered a silly myth told by mothers to keep their children in line. Perhaps your players have to research and uncover the truth of those myths to learn how to stop the warlord.

Chekov’s Gun is a narrative device in which you introduce a story element early on, and it appears again down the line, when it is more narratively important. The playwright Anton Chekov stated that if you show a gun during the first act, it then must be fired in the second act. When introducing your world to the players, mention some well known historical events; these serve as the proverbial gun. When in the thick of the story, those historical events re-emerge to hinder or help the heroes. You may decide to include an item that seems mundane now, but turns out to be much more important down the road. Worldspinner can be invaluable to this extent by mining the details found in theme overviews, rumors, heroes, and by browsing the various Plot Points and Points of Interest that dot your map.

Example: Zannek the Forger and the Djinni

An adventure involving a reckless, egotistical djinni sounds like exactly the sort of thing your players enjoy, so you choose to mine that a bit. Your players don’t yet have the requisite abilities they will need to confront the djinni, and you choose to set that up for the future. For the next adventure, you add a clue to the dungeon they are currently clearing out—a burnt journal page, written by Zannek the Forger. When translated, it appears to be nothing other than a nursery rhyme, but when sung aloud, it opens the sealed door to the djinni’s tower. You place a custom Point of Interest on the map to represent the tower, and jot down some of the details in the GM Notes section to jog your memory when your players get to that.

Session Zero

It’s common for the GM to do a lot of preparation in advance of the first session, setting up the world in great detail and then inviting the players to explore it. There’s nothing wrong with this approach, but consider the advantages of letting the players do much of that work for you.

During “Session Zero” the GM and the players get together and talk about what they want to see in the game. The players’ input shapes the environments they will explore, the large (and small!) ideas they want to delve into, the adventures they will face, the adversaries they will strive against, and the allies they will need to achieve their goals.

Your players will be more engaged, as they are playing in the world they most want to explore. You don’t spend time developing adventures that your players are not interested in and may choose to ignore.

Here are a few questions you may want to ask during Session Zero:

  • On a scale of 1-10, how much time do you want to spend a) fighting monsters, b) exploring new places, c) solving complex riddles, and d) roleplaying in character?
  • Are there specific elements or ideas your characters would like to see a lot of? Examples: undead, thieves’ guilds, sailing the seas, a power struggle between church and state, high-fantasy, and “zero-to-hero”.
  • What is the pantheon of gods? This may involve picking the standard pantheon for the game system, picking from another source, or even a collaborative creation of a new pantheon from scratch.
  • How do your players know each other, have they had adventures together in the past, and are they working towards a common cause? Let them tell you their stories.
  • Are your players excited about specific character types? Balanced parties are common, but an all-cleric party, or a group focused on either wilderness or social challenges work a lot better in settings that takes them into account.
  • What genre of setting do your players wish to see? You can choose for Worldspinner to populate your world with content that is Historical (no supernatural or magical elements at all), Low Fantasy (magic exists but is rare), and High Fantasy (magic and supernatural creatures are commonplace).

Where do you Start?

At this point, you have a good grasp on the types of characters that will be in your game, the types of stories you want to tell, the concepts your players want to explore, and thus the kind of game you and your players wish to play. You have an idea of the historical events that led to the current day. You have an idea of which individuals or organizations will stand in the players’ way or assist them.

Look over your world. Consider the various cultures, nations, and cities in the region you’ve picked for your game. Now think of the characters in your game. What city are they from? Look at the rumors and Plot Points within that city. Which might make excellent adventures to focus on that character’s backstory?

What is the first thing the players will do in your game? Consider the best place to start that adventure, but also think of where it will end. For example, lets say the first session involves the players exploring a dungeon to retrieve the lost heirloom of a noblewoman’s family. Upon emerging from the dungeon, they will travel to a city where the noblewoman lives; what rumors and Plot Points lie there? If you find an idea within that city that looks suitable for the next adventure, are there clues you might drop during the first adventure to set up a bit of foreshadowing?

Planning for the Future

What are the long-term goals for the campaign? How does the story end, and what arcs do your players want for their characters? What are the key steps you want to see happen to achieve those ends? Anticipating these “story beats” and where they fall throughout the campaign is a good way to make sure things stay on track.

Think ahead to the type of stories and encounters that will be exciting to explore several months from now, and establish some elements you can foreshadow or allude to. The more powerful they are, the further out you should consider planning for them in time and space. If you want to build up to a climatic encounter with the Prince’s estranged former High Wizard, it’d be great to know in advance where he’s located and roughly what he’s up to.

Take another look at Worldspinner’s Adventure Themes, as one (or more) may mirror the goals of the players and the narrative scope of the campaign itself. For example, a game featuring ambitious characters who seek to rise in the ranks of the nobility would do well to use the 700 Lordly Houses Adventure Theme, which provides many such opportunities. If your players wish to portray noble heroes fighting against the foul taint of the undead, Aftermath provides a wealth of suitable adventure opportunities.

As the game master, you are telling a story—but your players are not pre-written characters in that tale. Few tightly scripted stories survive contact with players, who tend to deviate from the step-by-step progression through the story you anticipated it. Embrace such deviations. Let your players surprise you, as what they suggest is often as inventive and interesting as what you initially conceived. To this end, using a basic three-act story writing structure goes a long way to making such deviations fit the story you want to tell organically.

Example: The Evil Cult

Let's say you plan for a secret evil cult to play a central role in your campaign. They have been working for centuries to infiltrate the governments of many nations, and now have numerous agents in positions of power. You plan to have your players unwittingly serve as pawns in the cult’s schemes at first, but you want them to discover that something nefarious is going on behind the scenes, and eventually, discover the apocalyptic goals of the cult, who plan to bring about the end of the world once they control it!

Instead of railroading your players into a rigid series of adventures, instead pick out a few key moments when the story takes a leap towards that grandiose ending. For example, here are four adventure ideas that serve that purpose:

  • The players are hired by a secret cultist government official to eliminate a group of problematic “bandits”, which the players later discover were working against the cultists.
  • A local priest turns up dead, and the evidence points to one of the players. Hunted by the authorities, he must avoid capture while at the same time seeking to clear his name. He finds out he was framed by one of the cultists, who thought the adventurers were getting close to discovering a secret.
  • During a storm, a sinkhole emerges, revealing a long-forgotten tomb. After fighting the monsters that lie within, the party comes across the sarcophagus of an ancient hero who ages ago fought the cult. Inside is unique equipment to fight these foes.
  • The leader of the nation, secretly one of the highest-ranking cultists, declares the adventurers criminals, and offers a huge bounty to have them captured; entire battalions of soldiers are hunting them down. They must escape to another kingdom where they can recruit an army of their own, finally overthrow the cult leader and put an end to his machinations. Preferably this would be a kingdom they’re already at least a bit familiar with.

These key moments need not happen one after the other, or even in a specific order. All you know is that at some point, they probably will happen. Where appropriate, leave yourself a GM Note where they are centered (such as the capital where the evil priest-king lives and the neighboring nation for safe harbor). This gives your players the freedom to explore their characters and your world without feeling constrained by an inflexible narrative progression.

Spinning your world

At this point, you have a rather firm grasp on what kind of game you (and your players) wish to play. You have an idea of the historical events that led to the current day, you have an idea of which individuals or organizations stand in the players’ way or exist to assist them. With this in mind, you now know exactly what kind of world you want to spin. Unless your game features globe-trotting heroes, do not worry so much about the broad, global features of your world, but look for a the smaller region the game will actually take place in. Most fantasy games tend to never venture beyond a region the size of Great Britian so zoom in on your map and look for intriguing smaller areas that contain a range of interesting features that directly reinforce the ideas you wish to explore.

Physical World

Take the time to spin several worlds, looking for the geography that fits the type of game you wish to run and inspires new and interesting story ideas.

Early on, you’ll want to focus on a smaller region the game will actually take place in. Many fantasy games never venture beyond an area the size of Great Britain, so zoom in on your map and look for intriguing smaller areas with features that support the ideas you wish to explore.

You can save up to five worlds at a time, so use the Manage Worlds page to your advantage by saving one that has what you want and looking for others that may perform better.

Each world is roughly Earth-sized, uses Earth-like plate tectonics to generate terrain, and models the various biomes and geographical features of the Earth. Worldspinner allows you the added flexibility of customizing those features further by way of the three drop-down menus on the left: Land, Temperature, and Rainfall. With these you can model the perfect world for your game, whether it be one huge arid landmass or a world of icy islands and sub-continents.

While exploring the terrain biomes are displayed by default; you can click on each to read more detail about them. You can choose not to display biomes by clicking the word ‘biome’ in the black bar at the bottom; this exposes only the geography of your world. Use this to explore the various river systems, shorelines, and bodies of water.

Cultures

No world is complete without a range of cultures to inhabit it. Once you have picked the physical world you want to use, it’s time to think about what cultures exist there. Cultures serve several functions that help your world come to life.

Each culture has characterstics that affect how they interact with your physical world and the other cultures that inhabit it. Some cultures are more expansionistic and warlike, some are more rural or urban than others, and some tend towards highly centralized governments and state religions. When you progress through the history of your world, some cultures will flourish and others fall as these traits interact with each other.

As Worldspinner populates your world with nations and cities, the cultures they arise in supply them with appropriate names and adventures to that culture. Those adventures often include important non-player characters, and their names will also be appropriate to the culture as well.

The “clash of cultures” is a powerful narrative tool for your game. There is a wealth of adventure opportunities along the contested borders between elf and orc nations. The displaced nobles of a formerly Greek region—now conquered by the Egyptians—may fuel a dangerous rebellion. The nations of your world have a history of notable events that can serve as excellent inspiration for adventures exploring these cultures.

Consider the economy and the natural resources suggested by your map. One of the largest nations in your world may lack access to a suitable port, and a neighbor may just have a perfect bay or sound. Perhaps the larger nation is backing a populist revolution in exchange for access to one of the smaller nation’s port cities.

History

Worlds without history are just geography. Think about what a map looks like if you don’t know any history. What kingdoms are there? What areas are inhabited so far? Who lives where?

Your world is far more tangible with a history of unique events. When one of your characters unexpectedly asks the ancient, wise village elder for useful information, you need not panic, as Worldspinner has done that work for you!

History generates narrative. The events in a nation’s history can serve as a springboard for new adventure ideas. As an example, lets say that a hero named the Bearded Wonder appeared in one of your nations, and his exploits are sung about in taverns across the land.

Who was the Bearded Wonder after all? What do the tales say about his career as a double agent? How was he able to get paid by both of the nations he manipulated, and do it in such a way that he could safely live out the rest of his years without fear of retribution? For that matter – what was his name?

You may inform one of your players that she is the great-great-great-granddaughter of the Bearded Wonder, and has a claim to his wealth. Unfortunately, a powerful noble family lives in the Wonder’s old castle and manages his former lands. How will she go about asserting her claim? Such a story could easily span several adventures, or even an entire campaign.

Some of the nations in your world were created when they splintered to form another nation. You may decide that split occurred as a result of a decades-long civil war. It may be that a new religion emerged, and its followers decided to create a new nation free of persecution. Are there underlying tensions between the two nations that persist hundreds of years later? Perhaps the current ruler of the old nation considers himself a religious prophet, and launches an invasion into the new nation to eliminate the infidels.

Running Fantasy Games

If the history page is where your world sprung to life, the explore page is where it lives and breathes. As you run your game, you may find it useful to keep this page at hand for reference.

Populated throughout your world are various elements. Points of Interest can be found all over the map, and your cities are full of Plot Points and Rumors. These elements serve as the building blocks of the stories you wish to tell. By exploring the map yourself, you can quickly find inspiration to fill an evening of gaming.

Points of Interest

What would a map be without places to explore? Points of Interest come in many forms: haunted graveyards, bandit camps, dragon lairs, wizard towers, volcanoes and more.

Many are simple, fairly generic, and appear frequently, such as a castle.

Others are more unique, such as the fey forest pool. Each provides adventure opportunities for your players.

Plot Points

When you click on a city, several Plot Points will appear. These are adventures that begin in the city, but may lead the adventurers far away. These Plot Points are crafted to fit the specific type of city they appear in (desert adventures don’t appear in an alpine city, for example). You may edit them to change what you don’t like, and insert what you do.

Some are basic adventure or ideas.

Others have multiple steps, and make excellent adventures to fill an entire game session or more.

Rumors

Have you ever had one of your players ask the town guard or bartender if anything interesting has been happening in the town of late and not had an answer? Rumors fill exactly that function, providing short, city and culture specific bits of narrative.

Many rumors are ambiguous; you decide whether they are fact or fiction. They may help flesh out a player character’s backstory, or add future complications. They make excellent adventure seeds as well, as they pique the curiosity and leave plenty of room for interpretation.

In Worldspinner, rumors appear in cities, much as Plot Points do.

Example: Alward son of Wolfden

Alward has been harboring a deep grudge against Guntram son of Paynel for many years, and is just waiting for the right opportunity to arrange an "accident".

In Mariusnuth, everyone knows about the feud between Alward and Guntram. The two grew up together, learned to fight by sparring with one another, and both joined the Colan army when they came of age. Alward was in love with Alwynn, the sister of Ordwulf (one of the player characters in the game), but it was unrequited love, as Alwynn fancied Guntram.

Once Guntram married Alwynn, the two friends grew apart. Guntram now owns a successful tavern in Mariusnuth, the Fickle Falconer, and Alwynn was recently appointed constable. Alward, on the other hand, made a series of bad investments, which left him in financial ruin. He even had to sell the successful farm his father started. Now he sells his sword to the highest bidder, and when not fighting, drowns his sorrow in ale. Recently, he was kicked out of the Fickle Falconer for starting a drunken brawl.

Alward sees little future for himself in Colan, but before he moves on, he swears to have his revenge! He still loves Alwynn, of course, and does not want to physically hurt her. Ordwulf, however, will have to atone for her sins. Alward manages to sneak into the Fickle Falconer one night, and steals a keg of ale (which happens to be inscribed with the name of the tavern). He brings this to a few disreputable individuals he knows in the woods outside of town, and hatches his plan. In return for the keg and what remains of his family’s fortune, the bandits are to waylay Ordwulf on the road and drown him. They will leave his corpse upon a riverbank with the keg of ale, which they are to dump on his body. When the townsfolk find Ordwulf’s body, it will appear he stole from Guntram and drank himself to death!

Heroes and Events

The legends of heroes fill the songs of the bard, the chanties the sailors sing at sea, and the tales parents tell their children each night. When you click on a nation, you will see the notable events that occurred there, and any heroes that influenced the world. Such detail further supports the “lived-in” quality of your world, and inspires future adventure.

Take some time to explore these types of elements on your map. Many reinforce one another, or, when considered as a whole, suggest multi-session narrative arcs, or even an entire campaign! Once again, use the GM Notes to capture any ideas they inspire, which you’ll see the next time you click on the nation.

Example: The Cathmerian Lawmen

Here’s a unique organization for the rogues and scoundrels in your game, inspired by the legendary hero above.

The Ballad of Barn is sung throughout the taverns and inns of Cathmere, and bards perform it as a play in the royal palace each summer. The ballad tells of the adventures of a lawman gone rogue, from his near death at the island of the Ogre Mage to his freeing the young prince from the prisons of the Dread Mummy-God of Hathrithoth.

Barn grew rich from his adventures, and he gained legitimacy from the prince. He married a young lady of the court named Gillian (said to have the most beautiful eyes ever seen), and settled in Amberwistle, the capitol of Cathmere. Never one to let an opportunity to earn an easy coin go to waste, it was not long before he organized the thieves of the city into a single guild.

A cousin of Gillian’s, a farmer by the name of Perlo, came to Barn one day to protest the actions of a country lord by the name of Sir Ceolred Brownflet. Brownflet, it seems, had been raising the taxes on the peasants every year. When it was time to collect, Brownflet’s men would collect the tax and seize whatever else they could—even their sons and daughters! His adventuring spirit once again kindled, respectable Barn became One-Eyed Barn the Rogue, and with a retinue of his finest burglars, set out to depose the crooked lord.

They fought a guerilla war against Sir Ceolred for the next few years, hiding in the woods and hills, and striking Brownflet’s soldiers in the dead of night. Barn had many victories, but they were small ones—defending a farm here or filching the wages of Brownflet’s men to give to a starving village. He waited for Sir Ceolred to make a mistake. When he did, Barn was there to take action.

It is said he fought a hundred of Brownflet’s men to get to Sir Ceolred, and the two exchanged blows throughout the night. In the morning, Brownflet lay dead, his reign ended. Barn, however, had suffered a mortal blow from the lord’s axe. He bid his lieutenant to bury him in the woods he fought for, and bade him take his eye-patch back to Gillian. Upon his dying breath he bade his men to live up to his example, and never stand for tyrants.

Thereafter the guild became known as the Cathmerian Lawmen. Led by Gillian (wearing her husband’s eye-patch) and Perlo, the Lawmen still strike down those who seek to extort the poor and the defenseless. Heroes of the woodsmen and farmers, the Lawmen do their deeds in the black of night, and are recognized by the black eye patch each wears.

Adventure Themes

A Worldspinner Adventure Theme is a self-contained set of elements (Points of Interest, Rumors, and Plot Points) written around a central idea. Adventure Themes are useful for long-term play, and contain enough content to keep your group busy for multiple sessions.

Some Themes are written with a freeform approach. For example, Arcane Portals looks at different ways civilization is impacted by a range of magical passageways, while Dragons! adds adventures not just directly involving dragons, but those impacted by their presence as well.

Others are designed around a central story with some elements having a more connected progression. Such themes are perfect for an ongoing campaign, allowing your players to explore the world piece by piece as they progress through the story. Summonstone and Vanquished Land are two great examples.

Choosing Themes

Click through the themes on the left hand side of the Explore page. The Overview section helps you decide which ones fit your game. Look at the themes with several different ideas in mind, such as player classes, adventure types (investigation, combat, etc.), character level, and features of the theme. If a theme has a heavy undead presence, for example, it works well for a group with clerics and paladins.

Each theme includes unique artwork. The majority is designed for use in combat-heavy games, either as a guide for the GM or as a battle map to put on the table for miniatures. For example, Dragons! includes a map for each of the six unique dragons’ lairs.

Combining Themes

More interesting scenarios are generated when you add multiple themes to your world and play with the interaction between each theme’s ideas. Read through the Overview for the themes you are interested in, and consider how they might merge to form something more compelling. Ambiguity and inconsistency may present themselves, as a Point of Interest that doesn’t make sense for this part of the map appears. You can—of course—move it somewhere else, or edit it to fit, but consider it as an opportunity to get creative!

Here be Monsters and Story Hoard both contain strong nautical components featuring pirates, terrible sea creatures, and shipwrecks. The former deals with a powerful queen trying to control a maritime empire, while the latter revolves around a dragon that terrorizes the seas, stealing memories. If the queen is losing ships to this mysterious dragon, she may look to cut a deal with some of her opponents to neutralize the threat.

Aftermath tells the tale of a nation overrun by mindless, zombie-like hordes and how that impacts society. It has a strong investigative component, as does Vanquished Land. The latter revolves around a fabled ancient city and the mystery of its disappearance, now that it has been found. The two can be linked – some fell magic discovered in the ancient city could power the plague descending upon the countryside. By adding Arcane Portals on top of these two Adventure Themes, now you have a powerful resource allowing the protagonists to use while solving these mysteries!

Long-Running Campaigns

Your world evolves over time as the players make alliances, clear dungeons, defeat bandits and armies.

Worldspinner can help with this. You can edit the Cities and Points of Interest as they change, leaves notes for yourself, and mark the ones that your players frequent often as Important on your map, which shows up as a red dot within their circles on the map.

For example, let’s say the adventurers recently defeated a band of highwayman on behalf of a group of beleaguered trappers. Now that the bandit’s camp has been cleared out, the trappers move in to make it their new base of operations. Simply open the Bandit Camp Point of Interest, click to edit it, rename it Trapper’s Post and edit any text that is relevant. Now your world visibly shows the effects of your players’ actions. When your players anger the ruler of a neighboring nation and war breaks out, click to add a Point of Interest on your map representing the invading nation’s forward army camp.

Let’s take that last example and explore it even further. The neighboring nation has invaded, and their armies are making their way towards the capitol. The Queen has named the adventurers as leaders of her army, and her general pulls out a battlemap to discuss strategy. You can make this by zooming all the way in on the area of the battle, adding any points of interest you find appropriate, and printing it out to hand to your players.

Single Adventures

Not only is Worldspinner a useful tool for generating and maintaining long-form adventure, it makes it easy to run a quick adventure on the fly.

“What are we going to play this Friday night?”

Worldspinner has a wide range of adventures to fill several hours of game play, from elements that serve as narrative seeds to longer, more detailed adventures such as you may find with a published adventure module. Spend a few minutes clicking on the various cities and points of interest in the areas your players frequent to find the perfect story for your players to explore.

Worldspinner makes worldbuilding so easy that you can create an entire world for a single game if you want to. This is a great way to test different concepts, or to run that specific type of adventure you’ve always wanted to, but have never had the chance. Consider spinning a world with one central continent, hotter and dryer than Earth, and now you have a world designed to support an adventure in which the biggest threat is nature as the the band of travellers attempts to cross an enormous desert. Or try a cold world with many smaller landmasses, and populate it solely with dwarves and Vikings. The polar cap of such a world, with frost giants, iceberg-laden seas and Vikings invading Dwarven lands is a rich setting for a night of gaming!

If your players love the session and want to continue the game in a more long-term format, you can always dive in and flesh out the world more deeply at that point.

Handouts

Handing out physical items to your players can feed their imagination, increase their immersion in your world, and suggest new adventures.

Here are a few ways Worldspinner can help provide handouts for your game:

  • Provide a map of the local area or the area featured in the current session for the players to study. You can reinforce this with the map being handed to them in character by a patron, merchant, or ally.
  • For adventures featuring nautical travel or pirates, print a map featuring the coastline. Draw on the shipping lanes after you print it and have pirates attacking shipping lanes. Merchants may pay well for wizards and warriors to defend their ships; pirates may do the reverse.
  • Most cultures have a link on their page allowing you to order evocative physical coins. When your players earn gold, it is far more satisfying to toss them a small bag of coins than to tell them to update a number on their character sheets. Coins can give a very tangible feel for the part of the world they are exploring.

GM Notes

When running long-form campaigns, you will inevitably want to track where your players have been and what they’ve done. Did they meet a shady blacksmith who promised to provide them with enchanted weapons? Edit the city where she runs her shop and make a note of her name and other details. Now you don't need a notebook to keep track of those details. Every city, point of interest, nation and culture is fully editable, not only to change its basic content but also to allow you to keep such records.

Maps

The Printable Map page provides a powerful set of resources for you to use in your game. Naturally, a large, detailed map of your world is invaluable to your game for immersion and inspiration, and our printable maps excel at that.

With a map of your world or campaign area in hand, your players can explore the various features you’ve carefully constructed. They can see the borders between nations and cultures, the relationships between cities and the natural world, the arrangement of geographical features and biomes, and the various Points of Interest spread across the map. Carve out some time for the players to get together with you and peruse the map for a while. Twenty minutes with your group and the game map allows them the opportunity to suggest narrative and propose new stories and adventure arcs, particularly those related to their characters.

Perhaps the next session has the heroes tasked with infiltrating the hideout of a notorious goblin king on behalf of the baroness. Her constable has provided them with a map of the area. You can use the Printable Map page to create the perfect handout for your game, a useful mechanism to strengthen immersion in your world. By manipulating the various choices on the printable map page, you can download and save a perfect map for the session.

Different map styles can serve different purposes in your game. The fully realized, highly-detailed, and colorful world map has its purpose, but so does a political map of the game area. Such a map solidifies the relationship between the different nations and cities.

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