WorldbuildingWednesday - Creation Facts and Creation Myths

Trothguard  Cover3.jpg

Welcome to today's #WorldbuildingWednesday post! For those of you new to this series, I'm @oblivioncubed. In this series of posts, I break down what Worldbuilding means to me, how I build a setting, why I choose to build what I do, and hopefully provide you some inspiration to use in your Worldbuilding.

My world - Trothguard - is a setting I've created as a catch-all location for any tabletop RPG games I run, so everything I build is filtered through a lens of 'how will this improve the game for myself and my players?'.

Today we're kicking off a multi-part look at creation, history, and myths/legends of Trothguard, starting with today's World Creation Facts and Myths.

Sitting down to create this world, I asked myself a few questions to get the ball rolling:

  1. Was this created by a god/gods, or was this a 'big bang' situation?
  2. How old is the world?
  3. If created by god(s), how involved is that creator?
  4. What type of beings exist on this world?
  5. What challenges are present?

I knew I wanted a god to have created the planetary system the world is in, but I also knew I didn't want a being that can literally wink planets and systems into existence actively interested in the thing he created... but I did want lesser-powered gods available (since this is for D&D and I don't want to buck the expected trends too much!)

I knew I wanted the world to be old, and to have had many eras where various types of life had risen and fallen. I wanted the aesthetic of having ruins of ancient and unknown civilizations, including relics and magic that they may have left behind.

I also knew I wanted all the classic creatures to be present. From dragons to humans, I wanted a world where everything could fit in.... but I wanted some of them to be rare, even mythical and forgotten - their only memory tied to ancient and mysterious ruins.

And lastly, I knew I wanted to focus my work on a single continent for now, but I wanted there to be multiple continents available for eventually expanding to. Therefore, I decided to make the seas incredibly dangerous, and air-travel basically unheard of for much of their history.

All this together led me to a complete set of...

Creation Facts:

  • Mazenus (The planet, of which Trothguard is the main continent) is the fourth planet, in a system of 8 planets. It has 4 moons orbiting it.
    • Created by the All-Father in his wanderings through the multiverse, but left in an unfinished state as the All-Father was drawn away from his new creation for one reason or another.
      • This unfinished system was then discovered by a handful of younger gods (still very ancient, compared to most of the current Pantheon), who ended up claiming the galaxy and finished shaping the planets themselves.
      • They then proceeded to create the Elder Races (along with many other creatures)
  • Giants came first for sentient races, and for 250,000 years they reigned over Mazenus. Their empire spread through the land, air, and seas. A strict caste system maintained order within the expanding empire and allowed them a eutopia.
    • Shortly after this 250,000 year period, the first dragon egg was discovered, and many more were found in the 10,000 years following it. The eggs hatched under the watchful eyes of the giants, who were shocked to find that the dragons had an intellect equal to theirs. Sentient though they were, the empire of the giants viewed them as servants and sought to control this young race.
    • This tenuous position was maintained for nearly 50,000 years, but eventually, the dragons were fed up with their enforced station. They rejected the enforced caste system and rose up in a bloody conflict that would engulf the world and plunge the races into war.
    • The conflict was bloody and spanned the globe for the next 80,000 years. New magics were created, demons and angels were summoned, and monsters, aberrations, and other nameless creatures were built for war. These aberrations, demons, angels, and monsters were created and used with little thought given to any kind of management or care. Some of these were intelligent, while others were pure killing machines. For much of the war, they spread throughout Mazenus - ignored by the warring races of dragons and giants so long as they supported one of the two races.
    • Neither side was able to solidify a concrete victory, and they appeared to be at a stalemate. With dwindling populations and a world ravaged by war, the two sides eventually established peace after generations of war; agreeing to leave each other to their own affairs, they began the long process of revitalizing their destroyed populations.
  • Intent on rebuilding their respective races, dragons and giants both turned inward - distancing themselves from much of the world they retreated to hidden cities and secret lairs to repopulate and rest. In their absence, the horrors they’d unleashed flourished, some of which carved out nations of their own upon Mazenus.
  • This age lasted for nearly 100,000 years with the absence of the elder races. Eventually, however, these horrors made the mistake of intruding upon and striking at the elder races which prompted them to come together and create a plan to deal with the problems they’d created.
  • Together, the Giants and Dragons (assisted by their gods), create the ‘Lesser Races’ (which are in fact the current races of 5e), and along-side these newly created beings, they kill off many of the horrors they’d unleashed. Some manage to escape, retreating deep into the planet until they eventually find a safe-haven for their evil within the Underdark; away from the watchful eyes of the Elder Races and their fledgling creations.
  • Having put down the threat they’d created, the Elder races again retreat from the world, and the new races they’d created are entrusted with the care of Mazenus. For 300,000 years they slowly grew, creating great nations within the confines of the continents they’d settled on. The seas (and air) are turbulent and dangerous, and so the various races believe the world to be little more than the continents and islands they inhabit.

Now, of course... This kind of factual history is for me, as the DM, and is meant purely to give me a base with which to build off of. It sets in stone some events and some facts for me. Namely, that any current Gods are the third iteration of diety on the planet, and the original Creator is long gone. So while they are gods, there is a scope to the power they wield.

Second, it gives me reasons for some creatures (Dragons, Giants, Abominations, etc) to be rare and mythical. Their empires crumbled so long ago that they're whispered of in tales like bogeymen, which makes their return a complete surprise. Nobody is alive who remembers how to deal with these creatures.

It lets me thread a narrative through each race/species by tying them to certain Elder-Race creators (Dragons, Giants, etc), which can have interesting cultural implications as well as just fun story opportunities.

Which brings us on to how I'm handling...

Creation Myths:

Once I have my 'Facts' about the creation of the world down, I need to filter that information down into each race/species Creation Myth. To this end, I ask myself a few questions:

1) How much of the creation Fact (if any) is known to these people?
2) What fact(s) have been distorted and warped?
3) How would knowing the facts change these people?

Admittedly, I haven't put a ton of thought or focus into this yet on a race-by-race basis, beyond the fact that absolutely all of the races firmly believe they were created by Gods. The idea that they were created by elder races as tools of war is the furthest thing from their minds, however, it does mean that many races share subtle similarities to their mythical creation stories.

At a basic "broad strokes" level, each race believes that they were created by their particular gods or pantheon of gods. Humans and Elves and Dwarves all have different Pantheons, for example, while things like Tieflings or Dragonborn believe themselves to be tied to specific deities within a Human/Elven/Dwarven pantheon. Other races believe that rather than being created by gods, they were created by the primal forces of wind, or nature (As is the case with various bird-folk races, and cat-folk races).

In most cases however the reverse is true. The things they deify were created by the focused belief of those races. The Elven Pantheon exists because Elves thought they existed. And since the gods are the manifestations of their people, they too believe they created the races. It's a cycle that feeds into itself and should be very interesting when they find out it isn't the case.

By having even this brief bit of knowledge, I have a foundation with which I can very easily spit out a new creation myth for a race that my players choose. If I know I'm going to be at the table with a Goliath, Tabaxi, Human, and Tiefling for example... I can focus in on just those four and by the time it comes up in play (if it ever does) I can provide the players their individually coloured interpretation of how the world / system / universe came to be.

Thank you for reading today's #WorldbuildingWednesday! I hope this has provided you with some inspiration!

Next #WorldbuildingWednesday we will be continuing this multi-part post with a look at the History of Trothguard, where we look at the birth of the Empire, and some notable events of the last ~5000 years, as well as some more 'Recent Events'.

In two week's time, we'll be ending this multi-part mini-series with a look at Myths and Legends, after which another choice of topic options will be presented to vote upon... so be sure to check back for both of these!!

If there's something else you'd like to ask me about, please do so! I will make every effort to answer it next Wednesday.

For previous #WorldbuildingWednesday post you can read them here:
0: Introduction to WorldbuildingWednesday
1: Starting the World
2: Kingdoms, Factions, and Notable People

Thank you for reading, and happy Worldbuilding!!

Comments 17

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05.02.2020 16:07

Damn, those are some interesting takes on the creation of the races. I should dive into the D&D books more to see where theirs come from. I'm not even sure how they were created.

05.02.2020 17:27

Thanks! I thought it was more interesting that what is presented in the normal canon, personally. A lot of them seem to have been just created by gods basically, though it was a long time ago I looked into where the standard races came from.

05.02.2020 17:41

It is a long road to haul when creating a world and world history, i think you are doing a good job relating your process to us. perhaps one day a few more will read and learn how to from you when it comes to background work. I am finding your post pretty interesting.

05.02.2020 19:12

Thank you very much! It has taken a few to get a feel for how I want to structure these, and the balance between presenting my process and presenting the work itself, but I think I'm getting closer to where I want it to be!

I'm really glad you've been following them and I hope that they help foster a community of worldbuilders here!

05.02.2020 20:40

I have enjoyed reading D&D style fantasy stories for a long time, so I find your journey !ENGAGE 50 'ing. I still think that one day I might want to build my own world or series of worlds for a space opera sci-fi story setting, but that is a long way off if ever.

05.02.2020 21:42

I highly recommend doing so! It can be a lot of fun and you will find yourself learning some really interesting things because of your worldbuilding hobby. (I know more about ancient salt mines than I ever thought I would, for example! Hahaha)

06.02.2020 02:03

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05.02.2020 20:48

I'm a gamer, your post is very complete. It's important to know the theme of a game, and the creator must know all that you are basically stating, because imagine those video games that don't have logic or sequence in things, it's a failure.

05.02.2020 23:24

Absolutely! And D&D and other table-top Roleplaying games are very similar to videogames in some ways.

06.02.2020 01:54




06.02.2020 17:18

It was very interesting reading through the whole post even if it took me more than a week to return to it and finish it. I know what you're talking about, I have made lots of settings myself, although I prefer leaving them quite open to change until the time comes to fill in any particular piece of knowledge. Which is more difficult than in your case, not so systematic and prone to contradictions adding up in time, of course. Just my lazy impro style, I guess.

The thing that troubles me with your setting in terms of realism is...those periods of hundreds of thousands of years seem too long if we try and compare them to our civilization. Statistically speaking. This is some huge geological scale and I would normally expect civilizations to rise and fall faster than that.

And so would some players, I believe. Players love questioning your logic, don't they ;)

Have fun!

14.02.2020 09:51

Thanks for the reply! That's a fair point - I intentionally made those periods long to account for both the incredible lifespans of Giants and Dragons, and for rises and falls and changes within their own cultures. Their history isnt important to the setting right now so having a fuzzy date that is massive is useful for now. I may edit it later, but that's a retcon I can do without anyone really noticing!

14.02.2020 13:04

Oh, if you don't announce those numbers anywhere in the game, that's no problem at all, true. Just saying what I noticed and felt unbelievable to me.

An interesting reference in my mind was the Foundation cycle of Isaac Asimov which happens some 30 000 years in the future, the whole galaxy was colonized and enters a dark age and a lot of changes happen then in the time frame of about 1000 years. Or David Zindell's Requiem for Hommo Sapiens cycle which is again galaxy-scale stuff about 3000 to 30 000 (don't remember which) years into the future.

Lots of dark-aging and wars, plus the mostly melancholic state of the elder races' minds would allow for lots of slowing down and back-to-square-one, of course. It's your story ;) I am glad I got to know about it.

14.02.2020 17:42

I will have to check that out! I definitely appreciate a critique, and it has given me something to think about and possibly change. I really appreciate your input (and the recommendation for the Foundation Cycle)!

14.02.2020 17:45

There are 5 or 6 books in there, but honestly, nothing was of the quality of the original The Foundation, imo.

As for the Requiem... that was one of the most original fictions I've ever read. One of the most amazing settings. And very beautifully written.

See you soon around here ;)

14.02.2020 17:54