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Worldbuilding Power: Deserts
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Worldbuilding Power: Deserts


Use dry and barren terrain in character development, worldbuilding, and adventures!

We think of the desert as a barren, hostile environment. It’s become synonymous with heat and sand. There is precious little water to be found, which results in a dearth of plant and animal life. What does live there is adapted for the climate, which often means it’s as dangerous as its environment.

Not all deserts fit that image, however. The only thing that defines a desert is the lack of precipitation. In the real world, the two largest deserts are in Antarctica and the Arctic. There are polar deserts, coastal deserts, and deserts on mountaintops. The deficiency of water does result in a marked lack of living things, but each presents it own challenges.

An adventurer will find opportunities. Survival becomes more complicated than killing things and taking their treasure. Those who live in such terrain have rules and laws and power structures designed to keep them alive. It’s easier to get rich by having necessary skills than through combat, most of the time. A desert requires tactics, social skills, intelligence and a great deal of will.

In this book, we’ll show you how to utilize deserts in your worldbuilding endeavors. You’ll see how it can influence character, setting, and story elements. By the end, you’ll understand how to better utilize seemingly barren realms as essential, useful, and entertaining parts of your campaign.

This book is system-agnostic, usable with the fantasy game of your choice. Most of the information, however, is geared toward the familiar tropes and terminology found in “classic” or “legacy” fantasy roleplaying. In the final section we’ll look at how deserts might affect the mechanics of the Lighthouse System, the universal story game system published by Dancing Lights Press.

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File Last Updated:
November 12, 2019
This title was added to our catalog on April 25, 2019.