Author Topic: Timeline of Khoras creativity process  (Read 218 times)

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Offline Drul Morbok

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Timeline of Khoras creativity process
« on: July 11, 2017, 01:47:13 PM »
When I look at Khoras as a whole, I often wonder about the order in which the components came into place....let me give some examples:
- Did Khoras as a game world start at some point and from thereon develop further, or did different unrelated components from different unrelated campaigns (or other settings) at some point get joined together into one coherent setting?
- Was the Sundering always part of Khoras as a game world? It seems very central to me, maybe even the most defining aspect, from ingame point of view as well as a metaanalysis of the setting...
- Was Khoras always named Khoras?
- Did you introduce the desolation of Shidar, the Horde and the morphians together as background story for the Jaidor Talisman campaign, or did the campaign bring those together in a way you did not intend or foresee when you introduced each of them?
- When did the physical world get its final shape? When did you say something like "ok, that's the continents and that's how they are shaped and where they are"?

I don't know if such an approach is possible, but I'd love to see some timeline, some order of "creative events". I mean...I don't know how creativity works for other people, but I'd expect there are some milestones that you are very proud of, where you think Khoras would not be quite what it is today, had you not decided to introduce that very special element...

Phew, I hope I could make my question somewhat clear...
Drul
« Last Edit: July 13, 2017, 01:26:09 PM by Drul Morbok »

Offline tanis

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Re: Timeline of Khoras creativity process
« Reply #1 on: July 14, 2017, 06:21:44 PM »
Good question, Drul. I'd be interested to hear the answers to those questions myself.
He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.

Offline David Roomes

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Re: Timeline of Khoras creativity process
« Reply #2 on: July 26, 2017, 09:30:01 PM »
Hi there,

Sorry for the late reply!

Good question. So, let me answer them in order. And I have a feeling this might be a long, chatty response.

I originally started Khoras as a new gaming world back in college many years ago. had just finished running some friends through a campaign in Greyhawke. We decided the next year to run another campaign and I wanted to play in a totally new and original world. So, over the summer I worked on it so that it would be ready when school started in the fall. The campaign was the Warriors of the Mark. That was the first campaign run in Khoras.

I started crafting Khoras by creating a list of nations that I wanted to have. I still have the original list in my notes. A few got cut and a few changed, but most of the current Khoras nations were on that original list. Khoras originally just consisted of one continent... Ithria. I hand drew the first version of the map, placed the kingdoms and they starting working on races and cultures and such.

In the beginning, whenever I made a change, it created a lot of work. Suddenly things were out of sync and I had to run all around making adjustments to various other connected things. Since everything is connected, if you pull on one strand of the web, it tugs on a dozen others. So, one big change would ripple through the world. However, over the years, the changes have gotten smaller and smaller as the world has become a tight, interlocking whole.

I put Khoras online in 1997 and upgraded it to its own domain name (www.khoras.net) in 1998.

Starting in March 1999, I added the "News" section and began recording changes to the website. If you're interested in an actual timeline, you can see it. Go to the NEWS section and then click on the link at the bottom (Archive of Past News and Site Updates).

I later redesigned the Ithria map and made it better.

With each new adventure, I keep the notes and then afterward it all eventually gets added to the world.

It wasn't until 2003 that I expanded Khoras from one continent to a whole planet and I added the other two continents. The other two continents started off with a lot less material and it took time to flesh them out. Even to this day, Ithria is still larger and more detailed than the other two.


Question 2 - Yes, the Sundering was always a part of the world, as was the two suns, the Drellis Effect and so forth. To be honest, in my own games, I have minimized the actual game effects of the Drellis Effect because some players don't like it. But even when it's subtle, it's still there. The Sundering is definitely central to Khoras. It and its consequences have most definitely shaped Khoras history.


Question 3 - Yes, Khoras was always named Khoras. I remember distinctly sitting in one of the cafeterias at university and writing down a list of names and trying to pick one. I almost named it Mektor. That was #2 on the list. But I rather liked the hard K sound of Khoras because it sounded a bit Klingon to me. I kept "Mektor" and used it for one of the moons.


Question 4 - Yes, the Desolation of Shidar, the Horde and most of the history of that region were created specifically as back story for the Jaidor Talisman campaign. Although the morphians already existed, they didn't have an origin story yet, and they got incorporated into the campaign backstory as well.


Question 5 - The original map was just Ithria and it was hand drawn. It just poured out of me in one sitting. Later on, I added two other continents to make it a "world map". During that time I also modified the Ithria continent a little bit to give it a bit more character as it was originally too square. I am planning on rebuilding the world map so that it's much higher resolution. I personally want to be able to "zoom in" and see more detail on the world map. It's a HUGE project though and I'm not sure my computer is up to the task. When I do get around to that, one thing I will likely do is tweak the continent shapes again. I think the Khoras map can be (and should be) better.


Khoras grew very organically. Just building a bit here and a bit there. If I was to do it all over, knowing what I know now, I might have gone about it differently and planned it out a bit more ahead of time.

I hope this answers your question. :)

David M. Roomes
Creator of the World of Khoras

Offline tanis

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Re: Timeline of Khoras creativity process
« Reply #3 on: July 27, 2017, 01:47:23 AM »
Thanks for the wonderful and in-depth reply, Dave!
He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.

Offline Drul Morbok

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Re: Timeline of Khoras creativity process
« Reply #4 on: July 31, 2017, 09:50:41 AM »
Wow, I also want to say thanks for that long insightful answer...actually my question had some double purpose:
First the questions as asked (and fully answered)...and secondly, to get an impression of how one might create such a consistent world. I don't know what I expected, but a whole summer of preparation is a lot more than I expected. I somehow guessed you started smaller, with just one nation and maybe some neighbours, just as needed for one campaign, and added nations one by one.
But then again, now looking backward I can see what you mean by pulling a strand of a web...that this approach would not have worked....just as you can't build a big house by first building kitchen, bathroom and bedroom, and live in it and add dining room, living room, basement and second floor when you need them and know what you want them to look like.

So I also learned something for my own future worldbuilding :)

Oh, by the way - I think I like Khoras a lot more as a name for a game world then Mektor. Not that Mektor is a bad name, but to me, "World of Khoras" has a lot more...rhythm? pepper? ...to it then "World of Mektor".
Khoras for the whole, and Mektor for some part of it...hard to describe, I think there's something in the names which I can't describe, but makes it feel like perfectly fitting.
Not sure, though, what I'd have said if you had made it the other way round :D

Offline David Roomes

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Re: Timeline of Khoras creativity process
« Reply #5 on: August 01, 2017, 07:48:33 PM »
If I was going to build a world today, from scratch, I would build it up layer upon layer, the way the real world developed. Here's how:

It might seem strange, but I would start with the map of the natural world. Specifically, i would start with plate tectonics. Plate tectonics would dictate where mountains develop. Once the mountains are positioned, I would "flood" the world with the sea and get a generally shape of continents. Mountains and continents would then dictate where rivers would go. I would then set down ocean currents and wind currents. Wind currents, combined with the position of mountains, would show where some terrain types would be... for instance, when wind comes in and hits a mountain range, it often gives you a "rain shadow" where it dumps all of its moisture on one side of the mountain (resulting in forest or wetlands) and then the other side would be dry (resulting in a desert or arid region). So, basically, i would try to build the natural world, as complete as I could, following science. i would also put down what regions have what natural resources.

Once I had the natural world built - full of coastlines and mountains and forests and rivers and so forth - then I would start to populate it. The locations of rivers would dictate city locations and civilization start points. For instance, major cities often develop at the mouths of great rivers. Towns are often situated at the highest point on a river that a ship or boat or barge can navigate to. Roads would spring up between cities. The natural resources in each area would influence what crafts develop. Different nations having different natural resources and crafts would dictate how trade developed. This would, in turn, dictate where roads would need to be. Rivers and roads crossing each other would give you bridge locations, etc.

I would start with the beginning of the timeline (ancient history) and let nations grow, change, make war and die out. This would let you develop a nice rhythm and flow that would help build up history - migrations, major battles, political conflicts, wars, religious schisms, etc. I think it would be easiest to just let history unfold naturally, one century at a time, like a story. This would also help you position things like ruins. You could develop the "story" of your world for as many centuries as you want and stop at any point.

And that's it. You've got a world. Yes, it's still a TON of work. But I think a world built in this way, growing along a timeline, from the natural world, to the earliest civilizations to the later civilizations, would have a lot of internal consistency and would develop really well.

I've never built a world in this manner, so I don't know how much fun it would be. I imagine that it would require a lot of patience and discipline of the world builder.

But yes, if I was going to start today to build a new world, that's how I would do it. I think, in the long run, you would end up saving yourself a lot of work. Khoras was built a bit backwards and I've spent a lot of energy trying to fix things and sync things. And I've got a long way to go. That's one reason why Khoras is so jumbled... some parts are very well developed and other parts are skimpy or poorly written. It's a result of the haphazard way Khoras grew.

Oh well.... live and learn. :)

David M. Roomes
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Offline tanis

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Re: Timeline of Khoras creativity process
« Reply #6 on: August 02, 2017, 10:13:01 AM »
Yeah, that's how I'd do it, myself. Using actual processes that really function the way our world's processes function just leads to a fuller and more believable world, to my mind. It's kind of like the old adage about good science fiction starting with just one or two changes to the real world, and then following those to their natural conclusion, except you're starting from a much, much earlier point in history.

I do think, at least for me, that's a really enjoyable way to do it, too. I like the science surrounding things like plate tectonics and climatology, so getting to design a planet I can visualize on a deeper level would be cool to me. Of course, my real interests lie in history and other humanities subjects, so the whole thing just gets more fun once the sentient creatures show up, but still, the physical aspects would be a nice addition to the experience.
He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.

Offline Drul Morbok

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Re: Timeline of Khoras creativity process
« Reply #7 on: August 12, 2017, 04:14:22 AM »
Thanks a lot for your advices.

Quite funnily, the first thing I did away with when starting wordbuilding was - plate tectonics  ;D
I described it here: http://www.khoras.net/chat/index.php?topic=584.0

But I took two importand aspects from here that I will pay more heed to now in my game world:
- Include gameworld mechanics: If I do not assume my gameworld as an essentially earth-like planet, I have to find different explanations for let's say wind currents and why there are climate zones.
I was already aware that my game world would not have a magnetic field, so I thought of some other ways how people would align maps and define general directions of orientation.
But I did not yet think about factors that would give the world its actual shape and other conditions (like those "rain shadows").
- Start with the physical world and populate it. I rather started with the here and now of the campaign/adventure, but took each aspect, e.g. each civilization or culture for granted.

My world assumes an even more cataclysmic event than the Sundering, which allows me to make a considerably harder cut between how everything came into general existence and how it came into its actual place.
Put shortly, until some centuries ago, people lived in one huge cave together with a D&D-like pantheon of gods that created the races....until one day in their arrogance, they tried to expand the border walls of their cave, which brought the ceiling down. All gods sacrificed their lives to save their followers from the cave-in (that is all except Hextor, the God of Tyranny, who sacrificed his followers to save his own life, and Farlanghan, the God of Travel, who led his followers on some unknown voyage...so it's some post-pantheistic world now).
Since the huge cave-in, the world consists of many caves, and what I described as my game world in the other thread is just one of them.

Maybe some day I find time (and a better place) to describe it in more detail...for example, rather than as caves, it should be imagined as bubbles in viscous soil (the bubble-caves are actually moving).
Also, the bubble-caves feature what we might call a sky, with day/night rhythm. Ingame, the population will argue that this is perfectly logical - they live in a cave without ceiling, since the ceiling came down.
Oh, and I should also finally get away from D&D pantheon names.  :-[

I have to admit - when I came up with this scenario, I also used it as an excuse not to come up with a precise map, or milennia of history.
But I'm starting to get excited about filling some gaps with regards to consistency as described in your process of world-building, so thanks again for the description.

Offline tanis

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Re: Timeline of Khoras creativity process
« Reply #8 on: August 12, 2017, 09:57:58 PM »
That sounds really interesting, and it sounds to me like explaining things like the cause of the motion of the caves/bubbles/islands, explaining the apparent day/night cycle, and answering the question of where Farlanghan and his followers went, why exactly they chose to do so, and what they've been getting up to will all be really fertile territory to make interesting worldbuilding decisions.

As an aside, I thought I'd share an anecdote I picked up recently from a YouTube video I watched relevant to our discussion of worldbuilding. Warning, if you're not familiar with the world of BattleTech/MechWarrior, then what follows may be complete gibberish to you, but hopefully you'll still be able to grasp the general insights, even if the specifics are foreign to you.

Harebrained Schemes is a video game company that Jordan Weisman (the creator of such games as Shadowrun, BattleTech/MechWarrior, and Crimson Skies, to name a few) started a while back which primarily relies on Kickstarter backing to fund both video game iterations of classic Weisman IPs, as well as a few new ones, and they're currently working on a Classic BattleTech game (titled, unsurprisingly, BattleTech) that I'm eagerly following. As part of the process of Kickstarting projects, they do a monthly, hour-long video update consisting of interviews and Q&A about things related to the game, and the most recent video included a 30 minute interview with Jordan Weisman himself. He mentioned that, despite the idea of the Clan Invasion by former followers of General Kerensky being lauded by players as a stroke of genius worldbuilding set up by Weisman ten years before the payoff became apparent to players, he hadn't actually planned it. Rather, it was the result of a number of unrelated solutions to specific problems happening to come together in a serendipitous way.

First, some context: the setting of Classic BattleTech is one of a drastic loss of technology compared to a preceding era of peak technological advancement for the human race as the result of warfare-related attrition, and it was based on the various successors to the Roman Empire after the fall of the Western portion of the Empire.

Having said that, the first thing Weisman needed to do was drastically reduce the size and number of military units in play in the world to levels that players of a tabletop wargame could reasonably be expected to manage, so he came up with the in-game solution of General Kerensky leading roughly 80% of the military beyond known space so that their might couldn't be used in the political squabbling of the various Inner Sphere (IS for short) noble houses over who would succeed the former rulers of the united Inner Sphere. The next problem that arose was simultaneously an interesting choice and a major mistake on Weisman's part; by politically uniting the most powerful IS noble house with another similarly prominent house through a dynastic marriage, he had put himself in a box by drastically reducing the possibility space of the world going forward, and setting things up for a very deterministic future which would effectively obviate the sandbox he had created for his playerbase.

Then it occurred to him: if the Successor States of the Inner Sphere were modeled on the various successor states to Rome, and if the world of early 31st Century BattleTech was modeled on the state of affairs in medieval Europe circa the early 13th Century, then the solution for the box he had put himself in was obvious; if you have the increasingly stable Europe of the High Middle Ages, what comes next? The answer: the Mongol invasions. And where could such an overwhelming outside force be procured in a universe predicated on human interstellar colonization and giant 100 ton walking tanks? Why, General Kerensky, of course. Unaffected by the attrition which resulted in the rapid loss of pre-Succession Wars technology, and having been pretty much completely forgotten after centuries without contact, the descendants of the Star League Defense Force under General Kerensky, radically reorganized into a number of militaristic clans, provided the perfect solution to a problem largely caused by Weisman's own game design blunder. And thus, a decision made purely as a practical approach to a specific game design problem sowed the seeds for another solution to an entirely different game design problem, and (ironically) earned the widespread admiration of players, unaware of the true motivation for those game design decisions, in the process.  ;D
He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.

Offline Drul Morbok

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Re: Timeline of Khoras creativity process
« Reply #9 on: August 13, 2017, 02:48:55 AM »
He mentioned that, despite the idea of the Clan Invasion by former followers of General Kerensky being lauded by players as a stroke of genius worldbuilding set up by Weisman ten years before the payoff became apparent to players, he hadn't actually planned it. Rather, it was the result of a number of unrelated solutions to specific problems happening to come together in a serendipitous way.

I'm totally unfamiliar with the BattleTech setting, but I think you described the essentials clear enough for me to understand that ist is exactly the kind of constellation I had in mind when I started this thread.

So the question about the desolation of Shidar, the Horde and the morphians was much more central to my motivation than let's say the one about the name of the world - while I instantly admit that creating a complex setting as a whole is a great achievement from the creative mind, I also think that the process of "when I put it in, I did not think much of it...it seemed somehow right/cool, but I never used it much and maybe even doubted it - until everything made all the more sense later, when I looked for something initially totally unrelated." can be more fascinating to the consumer and aspiring creative mind.
So..are there such stories to share abour Khoras, Dave?  ;D

As a slightly different example I recently read something about Star Trek TNG...there is a double episode where in the first part Picard is captured by the Borg and turned into one of them, the episode ending with an apparently undefeatable enemy approaching.
Now what I read was that when they finished rhe first episode, the creators themselves had not yet come up with an idea of how to resolve the situation...not sure how much of this is true an how much legend, but I think it is a sign of trust in the world you created as well as of inworld consistency if such an approach works out fine.
In some way, I think Ockham's razor applies to creating worlds as it does to explain the obeserved world:
In a perfect game world, you can set up stories and plots radically different from any story you told so far, without changing the game world (of course you go more into details, but details of what has bee there) - as opposed to a game world that seems to stretch only as far as you can see when following the story line, i.e. any other story line would required a specific surrounding....hopefully this comparision is somewhat clear.

Offline David Roomes

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Re: Timeline of Khoras creativity process
« Reply #10 on: August 14, 2017, 09:03:26 PM »
I can't think of any specific examples right now, but I do often put things in that I like, but I don't really have a long term plan for, or they don't connect to other things. Sometimes, later, I will stumble upon these "loose threads" and then come up with a way to tie them to something else in the world, making it fit into the whole world better. Or I'll come up with a great way to expand the idea and it sometimes blossoms into something big.

Related to that, there are hundreds and hundreds of these not-yet-developed mini-ideas scattered throughout the Khoras site... little ideas that hint at something deeper... a cool or interesting thought at the time, but not fleshed out...  many of those are in the descriptions of the various taverns and shops and other establishments.

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Offline Drul Morbok

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Re: Timeline of Khoras creativity process
« Reply #11 on: August 18, 2017, 10:11:22 AM »
 :D Especially I'm really curious if the rumor about activities in dwarven tunnels below Asylum will ever grow into something big :D

This might well be my favorite loose end.
« Last Edit: August 19, 2017, 02:58:55 AM by Drul Morbok »

Offline David Roomes

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Re: Timeline of Khoras creativity process
« Reply #12 on: August 22, 2017, 03:44:57 PM »
In my mind, it's true. The dwarves ARE building something huge underneath Asylum. But the vagueness of the timeline leaves it open for DM's to keep Asylum intact for their campaigns.

If I ever do anything with that, it would probably be an adventure - either a single evening adventure or maybe the start of a full campaign. But I'll leave the Khoras site intact for now as having the dwarves pull the trigger on that plan would result in a massive military, social and economic shift in the southlands of Ithria.
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Offline Drul Morbok

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Re: Timeline of Khoras creativity process
« Reply #13 on: September 04, 2017, 05:41:12 AM »
BTW: On http://arsludi.lamemage.com/index.php/92/game-vs-world/ (I can totally recommend this site) I found a GM saying that for him, it feels less like creating his worlds, and more like discovering them.
Well said  :D

Just wanted to share...

Offline tanis

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Re: Timeline of Khoras creativity process
« Reply #14 on: September 04, 2017, 09:34:03 PM »
Ooh, how Platonic.

But yeah, it's not, in principle, that different from someone like, say, Michelangelo talking about seeing the finished sculpture in the rough stone, and merely cutting it free of its concealment.
He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.