Hello and welcome to part one of my Rebuilding Andrawyn series. As you may have noticed, I need to rebuild and review all of my content in order to switch the game system I used for this setting. So let’s dive in.
What is Andrawyn?
Andrawyn is my very own setting for TTRPG. I started building it back in 2018, but the first notes and adventures date even further back. It is a Dark Fantasy, Magipunk, and Gothic Horror setting that resembles Earth in the 1890s on behalf of society and technology. When we first used it for our campaign at my home table, we used D&D 5th Edition to run Andrawyn, but now we are switching over to Pathfinder 2e, which means I have to rebuild and review a large part of this world and the homebrew contained.
Step 1: The Tools
First, let’s discuss the tools I am using to build my worlds, but especially this one. To keep my building organized and consistent, I use a very specific set of tools. To decide which tools you need, you will need to decide what you plan to do:
The Articles or the actual Worldbuilding
To keep my articles and texts about Andrawyn organized, I use World Anvil*. While I use the Inner Sanctum tier, you can absolutely start building while using the Freeman account. The most important part is to build a category-structure, that defines different parts and regions of your worldbuilding. For Andrawyn, I use the following structure:
If you like this structure, you can certainly use it as a template for yours. If not, it may give you an idea about how organizing articles and worldbuilding works with World Anvil.
Maps – How the world looks
A project like Andrawyn will need a lot of maps. Since mine are just scribbles, I will need to recreate them from scratch. I wanted to keep the set of tools as small as possible, so I went through my software catalogue.
For my maps, I use a combination of Deios and Dungeonfog. I created earlier iterations of my maps with Wonderdraft and Photoshop, and Campaign Cartographer. Deios is still in an Alpha-State, so you will eventually need to substitute it for other programs when creating world or region maps. With battlemaps, I rely on Dungeonfog, because it gives me a VTT-export, which I use frequently.
Images – Illustrations for Andrawyn
This is a hard topic. Illustrations are an outstanding element to make the tone and mood of your world visible to a reader or a player. But what if you don’t have the money to pay an artist to create custom imagery for you? I sure don’t have.
For Andrawyn, I will use a mixture of images that are Public Domain, and images from Stock Packs I purchased on DriveThruRPG. I also play around with AI-Generators like Artbreeder to illustrate my characters. This is not ideal, and I plan to update my artwork as soon as I can, but for now, it will be just fine.
For icons, like the coloured ones you can see in the category-screenshot, I purchased an Icon pack on humble bundle a while ago, which I will use, too.
Inspiration – Make it feel right
For inspiration, I usually go with a healthy mixture of moodboards, color schemes, books, and movies. With Andrawyn, this is pretty easy, since the inspiration is on my list since forever. For now, I will just mention the obvious classics that inspire this world:
- Bram Stoker’s Dracula
- Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein
- Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven
- The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
- From Hell
- Sleepy Hollow
Step 2: Deciding the direction
Most worldbuilders will tell you that there are two approaches. One goes from the big picture to the minor details, the second one will do the opposite and start small. For me, both approaches don’t work the way I like it. I usually start with the big picture, defining my Solar System, Pantheon, Species, and Planet Details, but then I continue with my Focus Area, and build from there.
This doesn’t mean that I don’t fill in larger details when I need them. The opposite is the case. But I fill them in when I need them, and not before. The reason is pretty simple. While the large physical details, like is my world a sphere, or a disk, will shape my worldbuilding for that focus area, the other kingdoms on far away continents probably won’t.
For people watching me from the outside, my approach may seem very unorganized, because I jump back and forth as I need to. For me, it proved to be the most efficient way to get stuff done, and get a playable world in a short amount of time.
How to move on
Once I laid down that foundation, and decided on the direction, I will start with my World Meta, which contains information about all these details. It will be my reference point, and I will go back there often. In the next post, I will actually begin the building process, by writing the first article about the physical world of Andrawyn.
How do you approach your worldbuilding? Which tools do you use, and where do you gather the images you use? Let me know in the comments below!
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