Monday, 13 February 2017

Saga of the Goblin Horde: Evolution of a Setting

Six months ago I gave an overview of my progress on the Saga of the Goblin Horde setting. A lot has happened over the last six months, and the project had to be delayed while I worked on a side project, but the setting is progressing well and I thought it would be interesting to take a look at what has changed and what still needs to be done.

Although the overall structure of the book is much the same (and still divided into nine chapters), I found that I needed to revisit and overhaul sections that I'd previously considered complete, because the setting concept had evolved as I incorporated new ideas and expanded or reconsidered old ones.

1. Introduction

The original goal for the introduction chapter was 1500-4000 words. Six months ago I considered this section complete at 1619 words (3 pages), but I've since expanded it to 2726 words (6 pages). It's still quite short, but I feel it now gives a much better overview of the setting, and it includes artwork for each of the different major factions. The result is a chapter that feels more polished and fleshed-out, without getting waffly.

2. Character Creation

The original goal was 4000-6000 words, with 5-15 archetypes, several races, 5-10 Hindrances, 20-30 Edges, and a list of available Arcane Backgrounds. Six months ago I considered this section complete at 5468 words (10 pages), with 13 archetypes, 5 races, 10 Hindrances, and 27 Edges.

However I came up with many new ideas while working on the setting, and I no longer feel the need to constrain myself quite so much to the original guidelines - game mechanics are my strong suit, so I might as well play to my strengths. This section has been expanded to 7275 words (13 pages), with 15 archetypes, 5 races, 20 Hindrances and 41 Edges.

I also stripped out the references to the Fantasy Companion, as I felt I could no longer justify the added entry barrier.

3. Equipment

The original goal was 1000-4000 words, and six months ago I had 1607 words (2 pages), but the chapter was still incomplete. This section has since been been increased to 1978 words (5 pages), and includes the equipment table, as well as a lot more artwork.

I decided to drop the knick-knack table though, as I'd like to include it in the Campaign Deck.

4. Setting Rules

The original goal was 1000-4000 words, and six months ago I had 480 words (1 page). I've now expanded this section to 1066 words (2 pages), adding two new setting rules that I feel are needed.

5. Gods and Magic

My original expectation was 1000-1500 words (3 pages), however I eventually settled on 856 words (2 pages), as I decided not to bother adding any new powers or Arcane Backgrounds. Instead, this section just gives a short overview of the goblin deities, and lists which powers are available to their priests.

6. Gazetteer

Six months ago I had reached 1350 words (3 pages) and was aiming for 2000-2500 words (5 pages). The final gazetteer is 2157 words (7 pages) including the map, and contains a lot of artwork. It provides a brief overview of each of the locations on the map, and I'm pleased with the way it turned out.

7. Game Master's Secrets

This was previously 1076 words (2 pages), but has now been expanded to 1441 words, and is still under work. The setting has gained a lot more depth over the last six months, and this chapter has been expanded accordingly, although I've tried to keep the information short and concise. I imagine it'll probably end up at around 4 pages.

8. Adventures

Originally I had a very brief outline of the Plot Point Campaign and an adventure generator, and expected the final chapter to be around 30-50 pages (including Savage Tales). But I changed my plans rather dramatically. There is now a 306 word introduction and overview of the campaign, followed by a 613 Plot Point Summary that describes each of the 10 Plot Point Episodes, along with full write-ups for the first two adventures (1926 words total, although they still require polishing).

I still need to describe how to use the War Clock (the mechanism that drives the Plot Point Campaign in Saga of the Goblin Horde), and do full write-ups for the remaining eight Plot Point Episodes, but I'm no longer planning to include any Savage Tales.

The adventure generator has also been dropped, as I plan to move it into the Campaign Deck, however I may still include a few cards in the setting book as a sort of mini adventure generator to help promote the deck.

9. Bestiary

The original goal was 5000-10000 words. Six months ago I had 697 words (2 pages), and expected to expand the chapter to at least 10 pages, but potentially 15 or 20 pages.

However I've come up with a lot more monster ideas over the last six months, and also wanted to provide more details about the other goblin tribes. The bestiary is now 10206 words (25 pages), and there are 7 more pages currently planned. Many of the bestiary entry descriptions can also be used as seeds for adventure ideas.


I originally expected the final book to be around 70-100 pages, with most of the remaining effort going into the adventures. The book is now 73 pages, and I expect the final book to be around 95-100 pages. However the adventures section will be much shorter than originally planned, while many of the other sections have been expanded, particularly the bestiary.

It's definitely been a learning experience, and creating an entire setting has proved to be very different to creating a splat - there's a lot more to consider, particularly when the setting isn't fully fleshed-out in advance. But it's also a very rewarding experience when you see all the pieces starting to come together.