Saturday, June 16, 2012

Deigning a planet part 13 - surroundings

I realize that I hadn't said this anywhere, but if any of you have any sort of feedback then I would appreciate it.  What you like, don't like, what there is too much of, too little of, that sort of thing.  If you would prefer me to stay away from battle reports like the one I just did or you don’t want to see special missions I create then let me know, I'll take what you all say into account with what I do.  I will try to accommodate your desires as much as possible while staying true to my goal in creating this blog.  Secondly if any of you have suggestions on something you would like me to write up then I am perfectly happy with that, topics are something that are always welcome.

It seems that my Designing a Planet series is coming to a close within the next few posts, and though there is a lot of details of creating a planet that I have not talked about, most of it I feel involves processes that I have already talked about or just scaling down something that I've already written.  If there is something I dislike about the blogosphere at the moment it’s the repetitiveness of people all across it saying the exact same thing multiple times.  I do my best to stay original and interesting, and I hope I'm doing a good job of that.

This is a step that may have been useful earlier in the process.  I discussed it briefly in the History and Purpose posts, and it was not until now that I realized that it was significant enough and unique enough to deserve its own post and development.  I'm smacking myself in the head for this, but in any case moving on!  The surroundings of the planet should happen before you determine the history for sure, and the order that you do things will decide if the neighboring planets and systems are determined before or after the purpose.  Do you have an idea for what you want the planet to be like already, what it will do and how it will behave?  In that case the surroundings should come second because you don't want to stifle your idea with a setting that may not fit what you were so excited to create.  If you are just stepping into the realm of creation with an entirely open mind and are looking for inspiration this is a great place to start.  To repeat what I've said in the past, this action should give you inspiration for further development for when you need it.  What I haven't said in the past is the use of these other planets for the different purposes that you could be using this planet for.  If you are planning on running an RPG then the surroundings give the players options on other places to go to solve a difficult problem, new scenery if they get bored, more potential connections or antagonists, a sense of scale within the adventure, the list goes on.  For the tabletop, specifically within a campaign, these surroundings can be used as more battlegrounds to have your battles upon if you want to do a map style, narratively we have additional factions that are potentially in conflict for this region of space or the other planets are being used as bases by different races and they are each invading each other for dominance.  For normal battles that are not necessarily part of a campaign these different planets provide good reasons for different armies to be fighting against one another, even if they are multiple imperial armies because of the difference of opinions or various factions calling in favors within the different armies and the two armies are not even fighting for themselves as a result (e.g. grey knights versus IG or space marines).  For just a story… its pretty obvious what having multiple planets helps you with.  Basically everything.  As always.  [Little side comment here.  Stories are the playgrounds of the mind, I can't tell you guys how to work a story with different methods, only what I think are good ways and reasons to develop stuff.  Within a story basically you can do whatever you want with stuff so I don't want to restrict ideas by setting guidelines for stories that should be, in my opinion, free reigning].

How do you create the surroundings for the planet?  As always you ask yourself the questions of what do you want from it, how will it help or change things, and so on.  Make the usual logical steps  to develop the surroundings if you have a purpose and want the surroundings to fit what you have in mind for your planet, if not just go wild with ideas.  A good way to make up surroundings out of nothing is to just go on Wikipedia, go through random articles and use one that looks interesting as a jumping point for the concept of a planet or star base (for instance if you happened upon a random article about Tokyo maybe create a feudal world [derived from feudal japan being my first thought] that maybe has ties to the Space Wolves or so and from their you could do all sorts of things, whether you want the planet to be friendly or antagonistic, in conflict with the central planet or not, what-have-you).  If you don't feel like using the internet: first of all what are you doing on this page? Secondly you could do something most of us are familiar with called brainstorming by creating a web.  You start with a central idea/theme/detail and from there just write ideas around that you just come up with, then write other ideas that sprout from those.  Eventually you have a bunch of ideas that you could connect together and make a detailed setting with.  A third method of creating a setting is just stealing it from somewhere else you've seen it.  Do you like the Lord of the Rings?  Of course you do, you're a nerd.  So just copy and paste it, make some minor tweaks to add laser guns and replace swords with… chain-swords.  Very little you actually have to change.  Just now you cab add to its scale and everything that happens on Middle Earth you can now have affect the rest of the system and spill over.  You could just go to one of Dan Abnett's books and use one of his planets.  Who's going to know?  There are few planets he completely draws out, you can always change its name and add/change some other details yourself and thus you have minimal work while making it look like you have done a ton.  Of course how you look doesn't really matter, all that matters is now you have an excellent setting that is mostly explained and you can look back on for where you want to take your narrative.

My favorite Jungle Planet of course has the Eldar planets nearby.  Somewhere to the…. East are some Ork worlds.  Within the system itself is the gargantuan space port that was recently built to repair and construct ships of virtually any kind.  The Eldar are to the north (just one system over however.  The Orks are about 2 away).  There is one agri-world, a mining world, and three barren planets in the system.  It is a one star solar system, a green star (whatever the heck that entails.  I'll look it up some other time).  There is some flotilla of space junk that is slowly making its way towards the Ork system, but at the moment it stands between the Eldar and the Imperial worlds (this could be developed on the battlefield by a sudden ambush by the Eldar with forces that were unseen because of all the obstacles interfering with surveillance equipment).  The agri-world is fully operational and amicable, happy to give its tithes to the Imperium and what is needed to the Jungle planet - this is VERY good as the jungle planet can only create so much food anyways.  The mining world… its just neutral, never really important within the system's politics.  In general it remains out of any debates and decision making, staying quiet and asking only for the protection of the jungle world (which is the capital of the system).


  1. Sorry if this looks weird,I topped it on my computer then it acted all funny so I had to give it to myself via dropbox and then post it from my phone and its really hard to finish the editing for the aesthetic so you just have to put up with the funky appearance I guess

  2. I like these articles you've been writing, but in a couple ways they do seem a little scattered sometimes. Not the article itself, but the order of them and such. Maybe once your done make like an archive or list or something like that and put them in the order you think makes most sense?

  3. Get out of my head! As I was writing this article (specifically when I was saying that this should go earlier) I was thinking about making a final post with links to all the pages in the order I thought they went best in. Glad to know someone else thought it was a good idea.I'll work on something for the side for easy access. Heck I can probably rearrange the order of the posts themselves if I want. I'll make sure to do that sir! Glad to know you like the articles, this whole thing has been a learning experience so i'm glad you've stuck with me despite the oddities :-)

  4. I like your blog so far, I found it about a week after you started or so, and it's been added to my morning reading. Keep up the good work, it's definitely got my brain thinking lol