I had a little extra time this week where all I could do is sit and think. Something came to mind. As GM’s, we often look at the big picture of our campaign worlds. But maybe there are times when we should focus more closely.
I know this isn’t always true but a lot of times a long and ancient history is added onto a setting. In published settings, there pages and pages dedicated to that but not so much about what has happened more recently. Sure much of the ancient does affect the ways that many things have turned out but like I said smaller and more recent things may be of more importance to the characters. Not only about what kinds of adventures or obstacles that may face but what about things that may have formed their pre-adventuring lives.
Maybe there was a plague that ravaged the area or a war with a neighboring kingdom. Maybe there was some sort religious upheaval or purge. Maybe there was a civil war, famine, or a natural disaster. Who knows maybe somebody usurped the throne? The possibilities are pretty much endless.
These major events that happen during a characters formative years could have a big impact when it’s time to adventuring. Heck, as a GM you could even assign some minor bonuses for the character.
Of course, as a GM, you don’t have to do all the leg work. Go ahead and the players come up with something interesting. Now, don’t let everybody be an exiled noble unless you want to but there’s no harm in letting the players contribute to what has happened in the world already. Heck, they might even come up with some better ideas than your own.
Part of this also comes when I’m thinking about settings and such. Forgotten Tales of Sword & Sorcery is in its final stages and there’s still a long list of projects that I want to mess with. One of which is revamping my own campaign world, Zoong.