So, it seems you wanna be a Hero in the Age of Icons?

“You don’t choose the day you enter the world

and you don’t choose the day you leave.

It’s what you do in between that makes all the difference.”

Anita Septimus

Wyrlde: Adventures in the Seven Cities is a great place for that. May your journeys be rewarding, and may your life be worthy of the sacrifices you will make within it.

I have been playing D&D since late 1979. I have been a DM since 1980. I started creating worlds in my head, however, in about 1974/75. As is likely common, I started with a fascination with what JRR had done, and went on a whole series of creation, and to this day I still think of the carved mountain home of Skycrest and the struggle between Kure and Kore and how that always went dark.

This is the 13th iteration of a particular world that I created originally in 1981. The primary elements that remained from that initial creation are the core name (sooo original, I know, but originality of name wasn’t the goal here), the name of the kingdoms, and several of the Powers That Be. It is, otherwise, quite different from that first one. Into it was added stuff from all the previous iterations, and then some new ones, and then, finally, as is my wont with this particular world setting, I turned to my players.

I have a lot of players. Some of us met in High School, and the very large group that has grown up around tat core has played together for most of the last 40 plus years. We prefer a crunchier style of play, and an RP heavy style of play, and we have not always paid attention to the great and grand controversies of the day or time – It was only recently that I learned about the concept of a “West Marches” campaign, and it caused me to laugh, for we have had some variant on that for years (we had to – when you have a huge group of folks, it is easier to do it in chunks, and to operate from a base). We operate what is called a “sandbox” these days, a world that is meant to be explored, an open world that is player driven instead of some story driven effort. There are still stories for us, still adventures, and we have a lot of fancy little adventures.

But we also have very different outlooks, backgrounds, perspectives, and interests, and with so many of us and being so varied in ages, it seemed time to create a world that was informed by the players, but built by the DM. What you have here is the end product of a dozen Q&A sessions for ideas and wants mashed together by a single person who sought to try something different, to break from a set of commonalities, but still achieve something that seems similar on the surface.

That whole effort took five years, and in the interim I created a whole new campaign world in addition and even ran a two-year-long campaign within it. It became a kind of test ground for some of the ideas but was still a separate thing in and of itself.

I started this iteration because regular life once again took me away from my players, across a state line, and into a field of work that was involved and worthwhile and it was meant to help me retain a tie to the folks with whom I still played via Zoom and other avenues, always theater of the Mind, always with a lot of laughter and fond memories.

This iteration is special to me because it will be the last iteration of Wyrlde. After this, I will create different worlds, and they will be different, and this will be the last of its kind, for me. I knew that going in, so I had a few ground rules that were very firm.

I wanted to step away from the JRR Tolkien influenced stuff as much as possible. That concept expanded to essentially exclude nearly all of the fantasy works published between 1920 and 1985. That’s harder to do than it sounds. It needed to still be a kind of D&D world, but the world had to stand alone, and the rules of the game had to be changed or bent to fit it, not the other way around. That meant it still needed to be some form of Kitchen Sinnk world, where most things were possible so long as they stayed within the overall ideas and concepts of the world, and that meant the concepts and ideas needed to be able to be picked up easily, and I would likely have to create some guidelines and systems to guide things.

It needed to include a lot of stuff that was from places and things that were not typical. I go into greater detail about that in the next section, on Influences and Inspirations.

This is a situation in which the basics of the world were created long before any mechanics or rules were applied. This world was created whole cloth without thinking about them, without giving them room or making space for them. Then, once the outline of it was done, once the deeper stuff was created, the rules and mechanics were redesigned to work with the world itself.

A good example of this kind of thing is the original release of Oriental Adventures, or the Dark Sun campaign – not in specific elements of their themes, but in the idea that the game rules and classes and races and all of that have to bend to fit the world. The world does not bend. The world does not shift. The world does not make space. Chicory will be proud.

What is cool to me is that when I did that, it added to the world. Because I knew the world, as I brought things into it from the game in terms of mechanics and systems, I was able to bend rules and systems to fit the world as a whole. The exception is classes, and that’s because classes are derived from archetypes, and archetypes have to be derived from the world itself – so I needed to know what the world was before I could know what the classes would be – but I did know I would have to make them all from scratch.

And then, of course, once I was done with that, I had to make all the rules work together with each other.

Wyrlde is the product of a lot of people throwing out ideas and things they would like, and then making them all fit together. Those people shared a common cultural background, and a general familiarity, and so it reflects that.

Wyrlde does take in ideas from many other cultures, and it meshes those ideas with those from yet more cultures, and then it fits them into the structure of this world as a whole, so it becomes something that avoids many pitfalls of other places. Trying to describe Qivira as an Asian-inspired realm is difficult because it has a lot of “Arabian Nights” style stuff in there, and then on top of that is overlaid a dose of several other cultural touchpoints from the perspective of Earth. Dorado is the Wild West influenced by Lawrence of Arabia, Durango is a metropolis influenced by Chicago and New York gang wars from several points in the past and then mixed with films again. Antilia is a roiling chaos of democracy struggling with internal divisions because it is where so many kinds of people collide. There is no “Elf Land” and no “Dwarf Land”.

So, it is different, and yet, it is not so different that it isn’t recognizable as being very much similar to other worlds out there.

That all makes Wyrlde a collaborative project that draws from the ideas and thoughts of many and attempts to wrestle those ideas into a somewhat decent whole. Much to the surprise of a few, Wyrlde is not a “Diversity” world, it is not a particularly original or fresh world. It is still very much a mainstream “kitchen sink” fantasy world. It is different, in that the rules of the game are bent to support the rules of the setting, and the inspirations for the setting are not the same as the core inspirations for D&D. It is surprising to many because among my real-life work is that of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Empowerment.

It is a poor world for edge-lords to play in.

All of that, and what you have here, if you are not one of the group that will be playing in it, is a setting that is a baseline for you to pick up and start playing with on your own. It really is little more than bare bones and gives you the ability and the basis from which to have an impact that is unique to you.

There are reasons it is free, not the least of which is that in order to play around with it, to create with it, to adventure within it, you still need to have the core books, and not merely the Basic Rules.

This is where you begin your exploration of the land of Seven Cities.

It is a labor of love, of devotion, and a paean to the promise of a game shown to a girl on a kitchen table in 1979. I used both a top-down and bottom-up approach as a result of many different decisions for organizing it all, changing, separating, coalescing, and more, each section taking a different direction and meeting in the middle which is where they began to diverge according to their purpose.

There is lore throughout this book, and everything here is localized to Wyrlde as a setting. Everything was bent to fit the world itself – not as a copy or reflection of our world, but as a world that stands on its own.

I have taken enough of your time, and so I bid you…

Welcome to Wyrlde!


The Seven Seas and Empire of Sibola 1

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