News, Video Games, World Building & Lore

The World of Biomutant is One we Want to Explore in Real Life

As travelers, we often follow maps to see where we should be headed. There have also been times we forget the map and follow the road to see where it leads. Sometimes exploring is rewarding in its own right. That’s how we feel with the upcoming game Biomutant. Yes, the story will undoubtedly be fascinating and grand but exploring its open world seems just as exciting.

THQ Nordic and Experiment 101 have been releasing a number of videos showcasing the game. Among the many videos is what they’ve called the Biomutant – World Trailer. It’s an RPG fantasy sci-fi blend featuring a large open world to experience. Imagine Kung Fu Panda but as an entire game including different tribes each with its own sifu dedicated to mastering kung fu.

BIOMUTANT is an open-world, post-apocalyptic Kung-Fu fable RPG, with unique martial art styled combat system allowing you to mix melee, shooting, and mutant ability action.

You can customize your anthropomorphic character to look like an adorable rat, like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle’s Splinter, or just about any fluffy rodent you can think of. From there players are free to craft their own weapons that range from futuristic guns to classic swords and not no classic flaming axes. It’s a game that is designed for anyone who likes the creativity of Dungeons & Dragons and the freedom of traveling throughout a massive world.

It’s basically a game built for travelers like us. Game footage shows characters riding around on motorized bikes, vehicles, and horses. Exploration is one of the key factors the developers focused on. Which, by the way, only 20 people worked on the game. It invokes this sense of adventure by focusing on the aspect of exploration. We’re stoked to check it out.

In case you’re wondering the entire map is about 64 kilometers which is around 24 square miles. That’s nearly twice as large as Skyrim and just shy of The Witcher 3’s 27 square miles. To put it into perspective in the real world, Hawaii’s smallest island of Kaho‘olawe measures 44.59 square miles.

Biomutant releases on May 25 for PC, PlayStation®4, and Xbox One.

D&D / TTRPGs, Storytelling Tips, World Building & Lore

How to Create a Dungeons & Dragons Campaign World

There are plenty of official Dungeons & Dragons campaign guides and worlds but what if you want your own world? Well, homebrew is the way to go. For dungeon masters who want to create their own unique setting, there are a few main things to keep in mind. We’ve laid out the hard work of designing our own personal world and have some tips and tricks for dungeon masters on the fence.

Here’s how to create your own Dungeons & Dragons campaign world

It may sound like a daunting process but if taken slowly, it is a rewarding experience for both the dungeon master and the players. One important thing to keep in mind is when in doubt, keep things on the smaller scale.

Start Small

We started our homebrew Dungeons & Dragons campaign in 2015. As the dungeon master, I quite frankly didn’t have any idea what I was doing. I just knew I wanted to play in a fantasy world with friends. So, I got the Monster Manual, Player’s Handbook, and Dungeon Master’s Guide and hit the ground running by creating a minor village with a few non-player characters.

By having a smaller starting area you don’t have to worry about players going off of the rails and wandering into the unknown. Although, that will come later, for now staying within the boundaries of a small town is enough. To help build the town – and subsequent larger ones later on – keep these tips in mind.

  • Have one or two quests for the characters to follow
  • Create a couple of named NPCs they can talk to
  • Jot down names of a few taverns, shops, and important landmarks like churches or shrines
  • Note where the town is located: the coast, mountains, forest, etc.
  • Pull from characters and their backstories

Knowing these things will help you craft a lively and engaging D&D homebrew world. But you don’t have to do it alone.

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dungeons & dragons campaign

Create Together

Building the Dungeons & Dragons campaign world with your players is fun and frees you up to focus on other areas of the world. If you’re just starting out have the player create their starting town or even entire region where their character is from. It can have their own currency, creatures, and government. Make sure you work with them to ensure they don’t derail the plot with wacky or outrageous ideas or create too much. You’re all in this together and it helps their character really understand the area they come from.

Key factors to consider:

  • Keep area notes to a few pages. Two at best.
  • Who rules the region, town, or area and who lives there?
  • What races or cultures call it home: Halfling, Giants, Dire Beasts, Humans, etc.

The Big Picture

After nailing down some smaller towns and regions of your world, it’s now time to focus on something larger. People, animals, and creatures need places to live so use them to base your cities, towns, regions, and structures off of.

Perhaps individual people and communities built their own capital city. There could be cities that are more elven in nature that are near nature or are constructed to look overly beautiful. Whereas dwarven cities may be halfway underground, be built into a mountainside, or be built out of sturdy stone and thick curved archways.

No matter what community it may be, you can also pull from each culture in your world. Try combining human architecture with gnomish looking designs. Something that is simple and big blended with whirring gadgets and gears. Or combine elves and dwarves and have the city be a blend of magnificent stone and spiraling vines.

  • What does the world look like?
    • Draw a map
    • Generate on online
    • Roll all of your dice onto graph paper then draw around them
  • Are areas governed individually or is the entire region ruled by a monarch or emperor/empress
  • Does a city have a criminal organization in it?
  • What Trades can be found?
  • Are there any guilds?
dungeons & dragons campaign

Randomly Generate

Choosing to randomly create areas in your Dungeons & Dragons campaign homebrew world is one viable route as well. Though we will say it works better when putting together a smaller section, village, or encounter.

If you’re in a pinch and need to come up with something quick, here are some tips.

  • Use the roll tables provided in the Dungeon Master’s Guide
  • Know your world and the story you’re telling.
    • Understanding your world will help you get a better feel for randomly thinking on the fly
  • Stick to these guidelines:
    • Who is in charge and who will the characters speak with?
    • What can be found there?
      • Important items, landmarks, treasure, creatures, etc.
    • Why should the characters care about this place?
      • Is it to resupply, seek assistance, is their home here, do they have friends or allies here?
Amazon’s D&D Monopoly

Build from Inspiration

There are plenty of fantasy stories to pull inspiration from. Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, and D&D books such as the Dragonlance series and our own Thread of Souls series offer great examples. There is no shame in pulling ideas from popular media but just be sure to change the name of locations, characters, and creatures when necessary.

Another great resource is pulling from Wizard of the Coast campaign guides. During our first year, we did end up playing Curse of Strahd and pulled a lot of inspiration from its horror.

One other great sources of inspiration can be found in video games. If you know you want your world to have a certain feel or vibe to it, play games that are closely related to it.

Gods

Gods are often tied to certain cultures and classes such as clerics, paladins, and warlocks. You can pick from the many lists presented in core D&D books or pull from any fiction or real world religion. We were inspired by gods and then made them our own.

Some quick ways to make gods are to associate them with specific cultures or seasons.

  • Early civilizations could have thought the sun was a god so they worshipped it.
    • The actual god could have noticed this reaction and adopted a more light or sunny demeanor
  • Deity of Magic
  • Deity of Death
  • Deity of Life
  • Deity of Birth
  • So on and so forth
dungeons & dragons campaign
Lady Raven: Goddess of Death from Thread of Souls

Calendar

Don’t think too hard when it comes to tracking time or dates. You could just as easily adopt the real world calendar to fit your tabletop game. The world could have even existed well before the calendar was made. A certain event could be the reason people now keep track of time.

  • Important anniversaries
  • A comet marks the first day of the year
  • A gods death
  • Birthdays
  • Specific moments the DM can use to advance the story
    • Maybe the planes are weaker during a certain week
    • Magic doesn’t work
  • Annual holidays
    • A great way to make the world feel more lively
dungeons & Dragons campaign
Thread of Souls Monthly Calendar
Quick Tips
  • To keep players from exploring too far before the world is complete, give them reasons to stay in a certain area.
  • Adding landmarks to the world makes it feel vibrant and alive.
  • Ask players what they want to explore then build off of that.
  • If you aren’t finished building an area, pull from fiction or fantasy
  • Pull from characters and their backstories

Characters and Players

When in doubt on what to do, try pulling from character backstories. Even the smallest detail of their history can help add more vividness and life to an area. For instance, if a character is a bard, where did they learn their craft? There may be an academy that teaches specific courses on oration, linguistics, musical theory, or vocals. Likewise, if a character has an animal companion, you can use that as inspiration to build as well. Mayhaps the specific animal only comes from a magical forest or only one location in the world.


There isn’t one right way to build a D&D world. Starting with a smaller section of the map is a great stepping stone. From there you can work on larger areas when the time is right. At the end of it all, the most important thing is to make sure you and your players are having fun. Work together to create an entertaining and heroic story and setting to explore.

Character Tips, D&D / TTRPGs, Opinion, Storytelling Tips, World Building & Lore

How to Play Dungeons & Dragons with Just Two People

Official Dungeons & Dragons adventure books include a phrase that can strike fear into the hearts of beginner dungeon masters. “Designed for an adventuring party of four to six 1st-level characters” or something similar to that effect.

Getting four to six people to sit around a table (or online) for a few hours a week or month can be challenging. But it’s old fashioned terminology and we believe it should be gotten rid of. For there are ways to play any D&D session, or TTRPG for that matter, without having multiple people.

dungeons & dragons

We here at Tal and Ru Travels started playing our homebrew world of Thread of Souls in 2015. In the beginning, we had three players. Three is a good magic number but I (Scott) the DM wanted more. The group evolved into five and fluctuated from that to six or seven at times.

Having more players gives much more fluidity when it comes to leading conversations, character development, and plot. Dungeon masters can focus on individual characters when the time comes but there are times when it can be too much. Combat, for instance, is definitely bogged down with a larger party size. Eventually our group fell apart as they often do and it was left with Ashley ( Tal) and myself. Sometimes all it takes is two.

Dungeons & Dragons

Just the Two of Us

Since 2018, we’ve been playing weekly two player sessions of Dungeons & Dragons. We play in our home brew world of Thread of Souls so we don’t have to worry about basing encounters off of a specific number of players. Instead we each play multiple characters each with their own unique skills and backstories.

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Playing Multiple Player Characters

While the DM will play every NPC the party encounters, they can also play an adventurer that explores with the party. In our case I play two player characters along with my other tasks. Both have a backstory and take turns in conversations and performing skills like investigating.

It’s all about knowing what your character would know and acting how they would act. If you’re the DM, just keep in mind that while you may know the story or campaign book, your character is just as oblivious as the other player.

dungeons & dragons

Increase Intimacy

Speaking of the other player. Playing with anyone in a one-on-one setting is a great way to grow and build your relationship. You both get to know the other person through the eyes of multiple characters and personalities by having them control as many player characters as they feel comfortable. It also helps if each one acts, speaks, and behaves differently so the DM can tell the difference more easily.

The more comfortable you are with on another, the more fun and deeper role play can get. And if you’re just starting out in a one-on-one setting and don’t know the other person as well, it’s a great ice breaker and allows you both to build a friendship. Or if you just want to fight and gain loot, that’s perfectly okay too.

Story Collaboration

As the DM you can also build encounters around the other players characters. Everyone is a part of the story and they all need time to shine. Make sure you take the time to talk with the player to see what they want to get out of the game. Maybe they like exploring and just want to search for treasure. While others are all about that role play and wish to delve deeper into emotions and plot.

Another great way to handle two player games is to have the player control certain aspects of the session. For instance, if it’s alright with the DM, they can take over for NPCs and speak with the game masters characters.

Tabletop games are all about collaboration. It isn’t DM versus players. It’s a shared story where anyone should feel comfortable to speak up and take part in the epic tale.

Playing together is also great for introverts who aren’t comfortable being in large settings around people. As an introvert, I can say being able to just play with someone I know makes me open up more and come out of my shell.


Honestly, you can make just about any game into a two player game. If you have a single player video game you can hand the controller back and forth to complete different quests or control different characters.

Dungeons & Dragons and TTRPGs aren’t strictly for groups of players. They are intimate, fun, freeing, and allow for character growth for both the players and their characters. It’s just like writing a book. There is an author and an editor. Imagine both players as the authors and editors of the game, world, and characters.

Lore, Thread of Souls, World Building & Lore

The World of Corventos



Corventos is divided up into five major territories. The Korventine Empire, the Eleste lands, the Southern Kingdoms, the Citadel, and the Iron Gauntlet. While each of these have their own unique way of life, even within each territory there is diverse geography, cities, cultures, and prime deities. Let’s give a basic overview of the way of life in each of these places! Consider this a beginner’s course in Corventos.



The Korventine Empire


The Capital City

An’Ock is the capital city of the Korventine Empire. It was once the seat of power for Humans that defended its borders strongly against all others. But time and peace have made the city largely diverse and the empirical titles have been switched to king and queen.

An’Ock is surrounded by farmland and its a city divided by large gates. These separate districts as well as classes. Some highlights of this city include its Divine Path that houses many holy temples, the sprawling Grand Bazaar, and the Proven Right that houses the coliseum and nightly fights.

The Doorway Mountains

The Doorway Mountains sit to the far northwest. They are a large and tall range, making it difficult for travelers who don’t stick to the roads. They house two towns on their borders. Somberdale and Skyview.

Somberdale is a small coastal town that rarely sees significant trade due to its remoteness from the rest of the Korventine Empire. Bordered by forests and mountains on one side and the sea on the other, it is a very beautiful and quiet location.

Skyview is an exceptionally small town on the far eastern side of the Doorway Mountains. Living a simple agriculture life, the residents of Skyview have unmatched views over the land.

The Korventine Plains

The Korventine Plains are crossed by the Great Divide River and lie between the Doorway and Black Reach Mountains. They mostly consist of farmland but have some rugged and wild areas.

The only real town of note is Lumera. The town sits close to the river and is not far from An’Ock, making it a great alternative for trade and those who do want to venture into the city, or those who don’t want to live too far from it.

The Firelit Forest

The Firelit Forest creates the border between the Korventine Empire and the Eleste lands. It is a huge and dense forest, and not easily crossed. It is so named because of the large amount of fireflies that light up the forest at night.

Druids often make the Firelit Forest their home, and it is speckled by huts and ruins of those who prefer to live close to nature.

The Black Reach Mountains

The Black Reach Mountains are the border between the Korventine Plains and the Expanse. A smaller, rocky range, they are so named because of the interesting color of their rocks.

There are two villages in the Black Reach Mountains. View Point is mostly a tribal area for nomads of the Korventine Empire. Vale is a sleepy, remote village that lives very apart from the rest of the world.

The Expanse

The Expanse is a large desert on the southern tip of the Korventine Empire. With rolling dunes, beautiful coasts, and rich desert life, it is quite the sight for anyone brave enough to cross. It was once the site of the wealthiest city in all of Corventos: Soleia. But now that city is only ruins.

However, Vonkai sits as a rich port on the southern edge of the Expanse. Colorful, vibrant, and happy, Vonkai experiences great trade and has a wonderful market where travelers can find anything they are looking for.



The Eleste Lands


The Capital City

Eleste’si is the capital of the Eleste Highlands and Lowlands and sits on the edge of the jewel-like Lake Eleste. It is a prosperous, beautiful, and ancient city. The Eleste lands have always been an Elven seat of power. While the centuries have passed and more diversity has been created, Eleste’si still remains very unwelcoming to anyone that is not a High Elf.

It is known as the City of Blossoms for its lovely cherry blossoms. In ancient history the city hopped between the Material Plane and the Wilds, which has created a deep love of nature and magic within the city.

The Snow Keep Mountains

The Snow Keep Mountains and the city within, North Pointe, are often considered the forgotten bit of the Eleste Highlands. Sitting on the border of the Korventine Empire, the population is more Human than Elven, and they often feel like an wanted child.

The weather is harsh and cold. But with ocean surrounding them, North Pointe has plenty of food and a steady way of life. They are a people deeply rooted in tradition and family name.

The Eleste Highlands

Cliffs, hills, boulders, and the long Amakiir River are what await travelers of the Eleste Highlands. As unforgiving as they are beautiful, the Highlands are not easy to cross if travelers stray from the roads. Small farming communities dot the land, but the largest town is Vesper.

Vesper sits right on the river and depends upon it for livelihood. This town cares little for the troubles of the rest of the world. The people are warm, simple, and always welcoming to weary travelers.

The Eleste Lowlands

The Eleste Lowlands are much easier to traverse than the Highlands. There is very little across them, and only one city brings travelers that far south. Oceala, the Gem of the Bay.

This gorgeous coastal city is mainly Elven but has frequent travelers that stay for extended periods. Sitting upon a crescent-shaped beach, the city is colorful and fun.

Black Fog Swamp

The Black Fog Swamp sits at the very end of the Firelit Forest and exactly on the border between the Korventine Empire and the Eleste Lowlands. That is likely why its town, Silvertongue Hollow, is able to operate with no oversight.

A den of thieves and crooks, Silvertongue Hollow is a lawless and dangerous place. Its activities gave the Bay of Thieves its name, and any reputable ships will sail far away to avoid pirates. The swamp is also known to be inhabited by ghosts that prey on the unprepared.



The Southern Kingdoms


The Five Cities

The Southern Kingdoms has little involvement with the rest of Corventos. A heavily forested area, it is known for its dire beasts. The Southern Kingdoms is a war-torn, restless area made up of five cities.

Gaea is the capital of the South and the largest city. Elkrun is mostly Elven and prides itself in its heritage. Amarok is farmland that is often attacked by dire wolves. Castor and Pollux are known as the Twin Cities and raise strong warriors, horsemen, and sailors.


The Iron Gauntlet


De Behl Marr

De Behl Marr is a volcano sitting towards the southern part of the Iron Guantlet. The primary powerhouse of this territory of Corventos, De Behl Marr is mainly inhabited by Dwarves.

The Dwarves of De Behl Marr played a critical role in the Day of Sealing by contributing their wealth, and their King Vicrum, to lay a trap for the dragons. After the trap’s success, De Behl Marr was forgotten about, leading to the Dwarves now rarely dealing with the outside world. And even more rarely letting anyone else in.

The Canyon of T’rizgrad

The Canyon of T’rizgrad is an arid location that borders on the Eleste Highlands. The canyon itself and the area surrounding it is home to many tribes of diverse races and cultures. They exist with uneasy relations, and there are often battles.

The Eastern Forest

The Eastern Forest sits near the Canyon of T’rizgrad. For centuries this forest has been avoided as there are frequent reports of hauntings within its depths.

The Iron Karsts

The Iron Karsts lie just north of De Behl Marr. There are a handful of small settlements, but mostly it is a wild, untamed area. Frequent monster sightings ensure only the bravest of travelers pass through here.

The Blue Hills

The Blue Hills lie to the south of De Behl Marr. So named because of the wide view of the skies above and overall sunny weather. The Blue Hills contain two towns within. Lily Valley and Thorn Thistle Villas.

Both Lily Valley and Thorn Thistles Villas have a predominant population of Gnomes and Halflings. Settled between De Behl Marr and the large city of Sunspire, these two towns enjoy easy wealth and plenty of trade.

Sunspire

The coastal city of Sunspire is the second powerhouse of the Iron Guantlet and is known as the City of Ensemble. It is a sprawling city focused on religion. While it is welcoming of all people with a creed of mercy and kindness, it does have strict rules in place.

Magic is forbidden unless with a writ of approval. And even then, those that practice divine magic are much more likely to get permission than any Wizard.

The Citadel

The Arcane Fangs

The Arcane Fangs is a mountain range that marks the border between the Citadel’s territory and the rest of Corventos. They are the tallest mountains in Corventos and are know as the Impassable Mountains. Covered in snow and ice most of the year, they act as the perfect defense for the Citadel.

The Citadel

The Citadel sits at the furthest northeastern edge of Corventos. It is a magical academy, a center of arcane research, and a ruler of magical law. It is highly protected and not even teleportation or divination spells can pass within its area.

A city known as Cita sits outside the Citadel and is home to members of the institution, their families, and guests.


The Deep Hollows


The Deep Hollows are not an official territory of Corventos. They are a series of caverns, tunnels, and underground cities deep below the ground. Many on the surface don’t even believe the Deep Hollows are a real place. Rural communities may not have even heard the term. But larger cities see any entry to the Deep Hollows, or its denizens, as a threat.

There exists large cities and tiny outposts all across the Deep Hollows. Some noted locations are Berenzia and Balum Guar. Berenzia is a massive city of Dark Elves that lies nearby to Eleste’si. Balum Guar is a large city of Dark Dwarves that lies near De Behl Marr. Conditions in the Deep Hollows are dangerous, and it produces hardy people that can survive even the toughest trials.


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Blog header "5 Most Immersive Video Game Fast Travels" with a pokeball and the Skyrim symbol and a sword on a parchment background.
Video Games, World Building & Lore

5 Immersive Video Game Fast Travels

When it comes to traveling, we’re still learning a few tricks to enhance our overall experience. Driving for hours on end is quite a challenge but a welcome one. However, we can’t help but think about all of the video game travels we’ve played that make it much more simple. Games like Zelda or the Elder Scrolls series where hopping from one side of the world map to the other is done without running across plains, over mountains, and through forests. It’s these times we wish fast travel could be used in the real world.

Open world games provide the player with endless amounts of exploration. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt presents one of the largest and broadest maps to explore. Its main story is quite good and we’re always up for playing it again but it found its beauty in its quests and exploration. It’s the same with the real world, minus the side quests, although life does tend to through a few if you’re looking and even when you’re not.

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Hitting the open road cues up plenty of opportunities to see new sites and experience new places. It’s what makes exploring worthwhile. But there can be times when becomes tedious and you just want to skip ahead to the next destination (we’re looking at your Kansas plains). Being able to fast forward through uncomfortable roads or dull views would make adventuring a bit less boring. That’s why we’ve listed a few games we believe have the best fast travel options.

Five Games with the Most Immersive Fast Travel

Elder Scrolls Morrowind – Silt Striders

The Elder Scrolls series is one great big adventure across multiple provinces. Morrowind, Oblivion, and Skyrim all feature epic landscapes to explore but reaching them can be a bit of a chore. No matter if you’ve played through multiple times or it’s your first, walking from one end of the map to the other just to complete a side quest can be tedious, but Morrowind makes fast travel fun.

We’re always a fan of games that provide a unique way to get from point A to point B that makes sense. Simply clicking on a point on the map you’ve been to before and instantly teleporting there isn’t really all that immersive, and oftentimes it can even break immersion. Instead, Morrowind features creatures called silt striders – giant beasts of burden that float just off of the ground. They are effectively ferry boats but instead of water, they ride over land. If characters have enough coin they can take a ride on a silt strider and reach a new town within seconds.

While there isn’t a cutscene involved, it does make reaching new places much more simple. The game even puts a silt strider in the starting town of Seyda Neen allowing players access to larger cities that can take time to reach on foot.

Pokémon – Flying

Flying is one of the quickest ways to get around in the real world and Pokémon utilizes it as well. The mechanic was introduced during the first generation – Red, Blue, Yellow – and allowed trainers to teach it to some Pokémon able to fly. However, the catch was the player had to have visited a location beforehand. This means there was still exploration involved in the games.

Once a Pokémon learned to fly, the trainer hopped on them like a horse and flew to their destination. Early games didn’t have the technical capacity to make a full cutscene, but later games let players control their mount and let them see the world below.

Skyrim – Carriages

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim does include one Silt Strider but it isn’t available to hire. Instead, the fifth game in the series uses one of the most unique forms of travel of any game on our list: carriages or wagons. It’s a form of transport any player of Skyrim will be familiar with as the game begins with the protagonist riding in one.

Each major city has a carriage and rider the player can hire to take them across the province. It’s like renting a car or taking a bus but instead of dealing with people, you get to smell horses throughout the journey. If only carriages provided some way to see the scenery as you went along. While the opening cinematic is gorgeous, especially on PC, the entire world of Skyrim is stunningly epic to look at.

The best part is the carriages can be taken to other cities you haven’t visited yet.

Legend of Zelda – Music

The Legend of Zelda series uses music as a way to quickly traverse the world. While Breath of the Wild may be one exception to the franchise; utilizing Shrines to get from point to point, the others include music of some sort.

Ocarina of Time features the ocarina and lets Link traverse Hyrule through songs. Each song is connected to a different location on the world map and allows the Hero of Time to instantly teleport there. Whereas Wind Waker gives Link a magical baton to compose songs. No matter which game in the series you play, there is a link to music somewhere in it. Even Breath of the Wild’s shrines are powered by music. Activating them cues a single track that ends with the final note turning on the device.

A Link to the Past even allows Link to summon a flying rooster to reach new areas. When put into perspective in the real world, music can make travel seem quicker. Lengthy car rides can appear shorter or faster even if you listen to a great travel-themed playlist.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – Signposts

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is another beautiful game to experience. From its striking overlooks to its bustling towns cawing seagulls and ringing ship bells the world is alive. The game is a fountain of locations with new ones spewing up every few seconds it seems. Reaching all of the new landmarks of the Witcher could take hours, if not hundreds of them, but thankfully there’s a fast travel system in place to help.

To travel between various points on the map, Geralt needs only to stand near a signpost and select another on the map. It is certainly a time-saving way to get around and immersively speaking, it is a world full of magic and sorcery so simply teleporting between signposts doesn’t seem too farfetched. The Continent is vast and there is so much to see and do that completing the game and every side quest could take upwards of 100 hours.

However, if zapping between places in an instant isn’t your thing, you could always saddle up your horse Roach and hit the open road. There is a handy mechanic that lets horses follow paths on their own. All you have to do is hold a button and sit back and enjoy the sights and sounds.


While fast travel may be good for speeding up the plot or reducing game time, it does defeat the purpose of exploring a vast world. After all, that is what traveling is, experiencing boundless opportunities and views not otherwise seen.


D&D / TTRPGs, Storytelling Tips, Thread of Souls, World Building & Lore, Writing Tips

Turning a D&D Game into a Book

How we turned a 5+ year game into a fantasy series!


When Scottie discovered D&D in 2015, I (Ashley) did not understand it. How do you play? What do you mean there is no board? But as a lifelong lover of fantasy, my interest was piqued. And when Scott ran his first game and only two friends showed up, I offered to play to help build out the group. And the rest, as they say, is history.

D&D worked its way into all aspects of our life. Art, cosplay, decorations, conventions, video games, board games . . . anything related to Dungeons & Dragons we wanted as part of our lives. So when it came to writing, this just seemed like another natural progression.

I knew early on I wanted to turn our D&D story into a book series. I have written stories my whole life and was actively involved in fanfiction as a teenager. I actually won a few community awards for my fanfics including Best Romance, Best Adventure, and Story of the Year. I had published a middle grade fantasy fiction through Amazon before as my fist “official” book. But after years of playing the same storyline in D&D, the passion for it fully took hold. I just had to turn this into a book!

As an experienced writer (and an online journalist through sites like The Nerd Stash and The Drive) I felt up to the task of translating a D&D game into a book. And I wanted it to be as dark and gritty as the actual game, but with points of humor and fun. I wanted it to capture this sweeping homebrew world that was created as well as easily dive into the very personal struggles of each character.

So here is a look at what it takes to translate D&D into your own story!


Don’t Lore Drop All at Once

As the DM, Scott had fleshed out an incredible homebrew world. As Assistant to the DM, he consulted me for geographical tips, historical events, and overall world building. So from early on in the game it very much felt like our own creation. Players were all given a few pages detailing Corventos as well as a map and a calendar.

However, that kind of stuff doesn’t really work for a book. You can’t drop all the history of the world at the beginning. It has to be worked throughout the story, sometimes across a few books. One big tip is that things should be name-dropped or hinted at first before really getting into the details. This helps readers not feel overwhelmed when they get to the lore.


Extrapolating on Scenes & Dialogue

I kept detailed notes of our games after about a 1 – 2 years of playing. I even kept track of some impactful dialogue I could remember. But, games flow differently than a book. Some scenes are skipped over in D&D for ease of telling the story and making adjustments for player changes. We had one player change out his class entirely (he was experimenting with a DM’s Guild class but ended up not liking it). He did really good at trying to keep a roleplay reason for it, but in the end all other characters accepted the changes easily without too many questions. It just helps push the story forward.

But in a book, more detail and explanation are needed. Often I find myself creating entire scenes from scratch to fill in these “holes” and tell a smoother story. So you definitely need to know your world and your characters thoroughly to be able to deviate from what happened in-game and make it feel right in the book.

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Copyrighted Stuffs

As it was a homebrew world, we already had many creations of our own. We even had alternative names for the gods as well as our own take on them and what they meant. We especially took the lore of the drow and duergar and made it our own, creating brand new backstories, societal systems, and our own take on their religion. But of course we used normal monster names and item names that were already in the books.

So we have had to make up our own names for these things, or even reinvent them entirely. For example, we fought beholders in the game. But beholders got a complete remake for the book, including abilities, appearance, and a name. Many magical items are ignored for the book unless they have a central point to the plot. Readers don’t care about a +1 magical dagger for our rogue. But a dagger that comes back to the hand thrown is important.

This has had the added benefit of enhancing our D&D games more. Now we use pretty much entirely homebrewed creations.


Point of View

One of the biggest questions was what point of view was this story going to get told in? I had always used third person omniscient, but that just didn’t feel like enough. I wanted to really be able to dive into each character and explore their minds and perspective. We also had a larger cast of main characters, and I wanted to ensure no one got steamrolled over the other.

So I employed a strategy to vary whose point of view the chapter is told from. I kept it to third person limited and changed it out each chapter. That way I could pick whoever was best for that specific chapter, and also get to dive into their needs and wants without pushing out other characters.

I first saw this used as a teenager in Jonathan Stroud’s Bartimaeus books. I absolutely love those books and was fascinated how he would go back and forth between two characters in third person limited chapters. But also how he would use the first person perspective for Bartimaeus’ chapters. And with the chapter titles simply being their names, that shaped the young writer in me.


Telling a Story in Progress

The Thread of Souls series is based off our D&D game. But this campaign is not finished. So we are essentially telling a story in progress. I ensured I didn’t start writing until I was a few books ahead based upon my rough outlines. Currently I’m in the process of writing Book 3. But we are currently playing Book 7. This has impacted the way we play the games, but I think for the better all around. We are so committed to telling a great story, and delivering emotional roleplaying, that this has only enhanced our game.


Don’t be afraid to record your own D&D games! It doesn’t have to be as a book. Maybe as art, or aesthetic boards, or story arc playlists. As we found out from our survey on D&D players’ personality types, most of us that play are heavily creative and insightful. And the more ways we express our joys, the better.

You can read all about the Thread of Souls book series on our website page, as well as visit the Amazon to links to purchase them!


D&D / TTRPGs, News, Video Games, World Building & Lore

Five Reasons the Solasta Dungeon Maker is Brilliant for Dungeons & Dragons

Solasta is still in Early Access but it’s turning out to be one of the best RPGs of the year. The development team is constantly releasing new updates and dev diaries and their latest is about adding a dungeon builder to the full release. The concept will give players the freedom to design their own dungeons in the game and it’s quite a unique feature to the Fifth Edition based CRPG.

What to expert from the Dungeon Maker. Solasta’s builder will let designers create a 2D map first before seeing it as as fully developed 3D world. It will include everything from adding crypts, walls, lighting effects, monsters, and interactable items. The map can be named, given a description, and setup so text automatically appears when characters trigger it. And several maps can be combined together to create a massive dungeon.

Solasta

In a short video posted by the dev team, the upcoming Dungeon Maker will launch when Solasta: Crown of the Magister releases fully sometime this year. While there is no official announcement date yet, simply knowing what is coming to the game is exciting not only for players but also dungeon masters for the tabletop game. Neverwinter Nights did something similar. We’ve listed five reasons why the Dungeon Maker matters more than you think.

Five Reasons Why Solasta’s Dungeon Maker is Brilliant

  1. Art of the Dungeon. One facet about being a dungeon master for the physical Dungeons & Dragons game is building a dungeon for the characters to explore. This can be daunting especially to newer DMs behind the screen or even storytellers who have been creating campaigns for years. Not everyone is going to be an expert artist. Outlining a dungeon sounds great in theory but putting the idea to paper can be another tale.

    There are many map making programs available but they aren’t as detailed as the builder for Solasta looks like it is going to be. Inkarnate may be great for 2D mapmaking but you’re still going to have to rely on theater of the mind when it comes to the finer details. The Dungeon Maker for Solasta will transition from a 2D builder to a fully explorable 3D map to test before letting the players have a go at it.

  2. Real-Time Exploration. With the tabletop game dungeon masters aren’t able to explore their creation in real-time. Through Solasta, builders will be able to design an area and then explore it as characters with weapons and items. This will allow the DM to get a better feel for how it flows before throwing the real characters into the fire at the table.
  3. Collaborations. If you’re feeling stuck on how to design a specific build for you campaign, you will be able to work with friends. An idea as big as this will build a community of dungeon designers that can bounce ideas off of one another. Having access to other maps creates a sort of sandbox puzzle that creators can pull from and mix and match ideas.

  4. No more Random Rolls. The Dungeon Master’s Guide has simple rules for building a dungeon on the fly but it can be awkward and time-consuming (believe me I have tried). While it isn’t all that difficult to do, it can leave tabletop dungeons looking odd or incomplete. Having the Dungeon Maker will definitely smooth out and speed up the design process for dungeon building. (This by no means makes random rolling tables a negative).

  5. Multiplayer. Hear us out on this one. While multiplayer is not in Solasta at the moment – and may not be coming to it – the Dungeon Maker makes it somewhat possible. Solasta is a fully single player game but if you have a party of four at your table, it can be used to playout the dungeon digitally if everyone is up for it. By taking turns around the keyboard, each player can build their character – or get as close as possible – with Solasta’s character builder. From there, you start up the dungeon and get exploring.

    While adventuring, players can say they move their specific character to a certain spot and investigate. Initiative works a bit easier by assigning characters their turn. When it’s their go, just move around the keyboard and away they go.
Solasta

Solasta is shaping up to be a fantastic CRPG and we’re excited for the future of it. Between it and Baldur’s Gate 3, there is a lot to expect this year for tabletop games turned video game.


D&D / TTRPGs, World Building & Lore

Top Tips for Designing a Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon

So, you’ve got an idea for a dungeon to send the Dungeons & Dragons party to but aren’t sure where to start in the design process. Whether you draw up plans the old fashioned way with pen and paper or use a computer program, it can be difficult to get the layout you want for a dungeon.

Or your artistic skills are lacking and drawing anything is void of any detail. We’ve got a simple fix to make developing the look of your next dungeon a breeze.

dungeons & dragons

Here’s a quick guide to dungeon design

Imitation is the Best Form of Flattery

Taking inspiration from real world places or fictional media is a great starting point. This also works with quest ideas. One of the main sources of influence I look to is video games. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is probably my main focus when it comes to creating a dungeon for my Dungeons & Dragons party.

“Copying and pasting the map from a dungeon is a viable option.”

Pulling from your favorite video game is one of the best and easiest ways to get ideas flowing. Some of my inspiration is take from Dragon Age: Inquisition, Fallout, and Zelda as well.

Let’s take Skyrim for example. The world is full of tombs and dusty web filled catacombs. You can use any of its barrows as a stepping stone to create your own in D&D. You can either look up the map for the specific area you want to build off of or play through it yourself first so you get a better feel for it.

After fully exploring the dungeon, you can view the map in its entirety. From there you can draw it in a notebook or take a picture of it and use it when the group begins their exploration. This will help give you the overall look of the dungeon but fleshing it out with monsters and items is a whole other story.

Copying and pasting the map from a dungeon is a viable option. But sometimes certain features don’t translate well to the tabletop. For instance, one of the most recent maps I pulled from was Skyrim’s Kilkreath Ruins.

“It’s all about improvising and adapting.”

The party was heading into a temple of shadow and I wanted to use light as the main feature of the dungeon. This worked great as the ruins already used light to direct a path but it still wasn’t quite what I needed. So, I had to improvise to make it fit with the story I wanted to tell. This can be one of the biggest issues dungeon master’s can find with building a dungeon.

Change and Adapt

Knowing the tale you want to tell is important. Of course, you could always just put every monster, trap, and item from a Skyrim cave. But if you want a dungeon that reflects a certain enemy or design, try to search for dungeons with that in mind.

The majority of Skyrim’s catacombs can be boiled down to draugr and dragon priests. In Dungeons & Dragons terms, this roughly translates to zombies, skeletons, and a higher powered wight or ghoul. By knowing what the head monster is in your dungeon, you can build around it. Once the design is complete, use the prebuilt model to better suit your lead monster or creature.

“Imagine yourself as the minotaur and the dungeon you’re building is your maze.”

Items like books and tomes can also help you in the build process. If the original cavern has a book about torture, maybe the main villain is practiced in maiming and capturing adventurers instead of outright killing them. This could also change certain rooms in the dungeon. Instead of a door hiding a small bedroom it could lead to a torture chamber instead. It’s all about improvising and adapting.

Also, if there’s a door somewhere on the original map and you don’t want it there, move it or take it away. That room can be used for another dungeon if you need it later. Imagine yourself as the minotaur and the dungeon you’re building is your maze. The map can shift and change. If you think a room is better flipped on its side, then give it a go.



Whether it’s your first dungeon or your 100th, the design process can be difficult to manage. Pulling from video games or fiction and even real world locations is quick and simple. The next time you need to put together a cavern, tomb, or dungeon, don’t think too hard about it. And once you’re finished with the setup, having the right music as the party explore is always a bonus.