Hundred Design (County for the uninitiated)
I had two pieces of the puzzle in place, but had decided from the onset that whatever campaign I ran, it would be based on an original sandbox design that I had used in 1978. I'll go into some detail here to address my creation and steps needed to accomplish those goals for yourself. Items I pulled together from existing sources to aid me in creating this continent are listed below:
Mystic Eye Games Campaign Planner Collection
Ronin Arts Fantasy Handouts Collection
In my version of the term “sandbox style game” – I create things from a micro scale outward. That is, all I start with is a rough outline of one county (hundred) on my continent, and a single point of interest – in this case the Bloated Blowfish Tavern. Because I'm working from the micro scale outward, I'm essentially discovering the world with my players as they adventure. It's a bit more back end work for me, but it also allows me to shape the fringes of the world, while giving the player more control over the world in which they live.
1: Create back story and rough outline of the county map.
I started with a region where my tavern, the Bloated Blowfish would be based. The Blowfish began on a small peninsula island off the coast of the continent of Isolde, near Lake Elise. Up on the hill above sits Crestop, a large castle that for 200 years stood as a home to many souls and a regent to the lands. Then Crestop's neighboring mountain collapsed, blocking off the salt and river routes and the entire region changed.
Once the arduous journey was made by the son of the King to the region of Crestfallen, Lord Reginald quickly decided something had to be done. In the early 6th century, a few of the old routes were reconnected, and with the help of the Valley Dwarves of Elden-Way, some semblance of normality returned to this region. It was decided that combining the existing castle and tavern into one large conglomerate might be able to take advantage of the regions restored status. From there, the tavern quickly gained notoriety for being a crossroads haven for adventures, and folks searching for a purpose in life.
2: Create a list of towns central to plot points (to be developed in future steps).
City: Yggsburgh - Northwest Corner
Town: Corvis - Eastern Central locale
Village: Coppice - closest town to Yggsburgh in this county
Village: Grand Lynn - central location, middle of map
Thorp: Troyen - Starting point, near Lake Elise – North East corner
Fife: Jo'sRun - Southwest corner
Note: The towns in bold already exist in print from other published sources.
3: Create a trade route and list its principle Start and End points.
A. The trade route runs from Yggsburgh to Jo'sRun.
B. There is a toll to be paid at Corvis -which sits as a central point on the route. Going North takes one to to Troyen, home of Crestfallen and the Bloated Blowfish.
C. South from Corvis leads to Jo'sRun.
D. West from Corvis leads to Grand Lynn, and further on to principalities of Coppice.
E. From Coppice the trail opens outward and down to the 3 rivers junction at Yggsburgh.
4: Place Towns on map.
I then placed each town on the map, in the positions I created in step 3.
5: Place Trade Route on map, connecting the principle locations from step 3.
I then created the Trade Route, connecting the principle towns along it as created in step 3.
NOTE: It's critical not to do anything else at this point – since the players will be directly involved in the creation of, and the playing in the world. Resistance, in this case, is not futile!