worldbuilding

Core Assumptions

The Dungeons Master's Guide talks about core assumptions of a D&D setting. Every setting adjusts these assumptions to one degree or another. The following is a list of tenets that set Darkplane apart from other settings. I've also put these on the main page.

The World Appears Mundane. To the everyday inhabitants of Vinramar, magic is only a dark legend. Half-believed traditions of the supernatural prevail among commoners—whispers of spirits, strange magic, and unexplained terrors—but few people come in contact with such things. Darkplane campaigns focus on those special few.

Perilous Horrors Hide Under Every Stone. Beneath the facade of the everyday world lies a nightmare realm, the true reality that would drive common folk to madness. Magic is rare and dangerous. Vengeful abominations creep into the natural world from other dimensions, sowing chaos and fear. Frightful vestiges of pre-human civilizations lie hidden in the earth, and some of their immortal denizens live unseen among mortals. When such supernatural forces come in contact with average people, the scars they leave are deep and troubling.

God is Dead. Shortly following the creation, the supreme creator Sowm was killed by Her son Daemoth, plunging the Heavens into an endless war. The key players in this conflict are unfathomable gods who rarely visit the mortal realm, but their followers are all too eager to drag the world through milennia of bloodshed and carnage. These priests might be showmen, sages, or warmongering vipers, but if their faith is sufficient they can channel powerful wonders.

Industrial Revolution Has Created Wide Technology Gaps. Some cultures resort to ancient practices like hunting and gathering to survive, while others have developed specialized crafts like printing and glass blowing. In Trentsmund, steam power has irrevocably changed the kingdom’s infrastructure. Traffic between these societies is still limited enough to preserve the technological disparity.

The Darkplane Encompasses All. The four worlds are surrounded by an endless void beyond natural reality, called the Darkplane. The Darkplane is populated and ruled by mysterious aberrant powers so unnatural that their comprehension is almost beyond mortal minds. Daemoth’s slow conquest of the Darkplane has driven these alien horrors into the four worlds, where their presence infects and twists natural creatures into unspeakable aberrations.

The Dark Ages by Jonas De Ro

What is Darkplane?

I began creating Darkplane about ten years ago when I was a freshman in college. I was playing board games pretty often, and thought I might be able to introduce our group to roleplaying games. Some of my friends and family members had played a bit of Dungeons & Dragons with me as a kid (always reserving the right to mock me), so I set to work creating a fictional world of my own, ironically in the pursuit of friends.

If you know nothing about roleplaying games, here's a primer. A group of players sit around a table and tell a story. Each player has narrative control over one or more characters, deciding what they choose to do based on the events of the game. The Game Master (or Dungeon Master, DM, in D&D) is in charge of the world the story takes place in--its events, locations, and characters. Most D&D games play out like an adventure TV series, with episodic plots and recurring characters. That makes the DM the director or showrunner, and everyone else part of writing team.

In order to play, though, you have to decide what type of story you're telling. It could be set in the modern world, a fantasy world like Middle-Earth or Westeros, or in space. It's common practice for a DM to create a unique world around his or her particular game. For me, that's always been the funnest part.

The world of Vinramar, its regions and chief cities.

Darkplane is a fictional world that draws heavily on weird fiction, horror, and multicultural themes. I use it for all sorts of writing projects--graphic novels, short stories, screenplays--but mostly for playing D&D because it doesn't need a budget. I've run Darkplane games in six states over the last 10 years, and every time it grows and develops.

What's the goal? Well, this year I'm going to be running a Kickstarter campaign to fund a Darkplane guidebook. Darkplane: A Campaign Setting will have everything you need to dive into a Darkplane game, and lots more on the side. And, if the Kickstarter funds, it will have some beautifully terrifying art.

This website's going to have content previews, spotlights on people or places in Darkplane, and hopefully some video blogs too. Thanks for taking a look, and keep an eye out for more.