Imagine a world geographically the opposite of our own. The oceans and seas have become huge land masses; continents have become inland seas. Lakes become islands and vice versa. This is H'Trae, created in a parallel universe as an echo of the creation of our own Earth.
Imagine now a world where there are far too many rôle-playing systems but not nearly enough well thought-out campaign backgrounds. This, unfortunately, is Earth - and it's time to do something about it! As a result, I'm looking for like-minded GMs to collaborate to produce a detailed campaign background, based on the concept of H'Trae but independent of any rôle-playing system. If we come up with a quality product, perhaps we'll publish it.
Creating a campaign background on a literally global scale will not, of course be an easy task and will involve much hard work and careful organisation. I would suggest that we would need at least to carry out the following steps:
The physical appearance of H'Trae needs to be mapped and (perhaps) transcribed to a hexagon grid for gaming purposes. All land masses will be replaced by water; all substantial bodies of water (lakes, seas and oceans) will become land. Mountain ranges will be placed by inverting the contours on a bathymetric map. In other words, ocean trenches will become mountain ranges while sea bed ridges will become depressions similar to (but much larger than) Earth's Grand Canyon. That's the easy part. We then need to decide where the rivers would be, what the climate would be like, etc.
Should the flora on H'Trae be the same as that on Earth? If so, where will the jungles be? Which will be the most fertile areas? Will the animal kingdom be the same as that on Earth? Will we include fantasy races? If so will they be the standard elves, trolls, dragons, etc. or will they be new races unique to H'Trae?
Will magic work on H'Trae? If so, how? This will be a tricky area because, of course, the various available fantasy systems have very different magic rules.
Which political and cultural structures prevail on H'Trae? How did they get there? I suggest that each GM participating in the H'Trae project takes charge of one geographic area and outlines its cultural, technological and political development. When, inevitably, expansionist cultures come into conflict the outcome will be determined by discussion between the GMs concerned and, where necessary by rôle-playing/wargaming sessions. When the enough history and legend has been generated and overall situation looks interesting, we'll draw a line and call the situation the current day on H'Trae.
Anyone who has ever played Civilisation on a computer will know that world-building can be just as exciting a rôle-playing experience as more traditional adventuring or GMing. Contact me via the editor and help me make H'Trae a reality.
[Editor's note: I'll be happy to accept articles contributing to H'Trae; particularly welcome would be articles on campaign design using H'Trae as an example.]