What Gem was it that I had come across? It is none-other-than the little known Dawn of Worlds!
This fun little document was put together by a group of passionate gamers who wanted to find a way to make a game setting that every player in attendance (or at least the "regulars") would be familiar with to such an extent that they would be fairly invested in it's evolution and progression.
How does it Work?After doing some research, it seems that the group of people involved with this fun little document last updated it back in 2005 open a fairly open License. The entire "game" revolves around the use of two six sided dice that each player has for themselves or passes around the table to be used to determine a pool of points. Players spend these points on cool stuff each round to shape, populate, or even corrupt the world to the way that the player see's fit.
How does it start?
The world itself starts off with a blank outline of what could very well be a continent that players will paint over and populate over time. Typically placed across a large piece of paper or other material that will likely be used and abused. I am sure people can potentially laminate this over a course of time for the sake of placing on someone's wall later down the road.
Once an appropriate continental outline is voted on and an appropriate note taker appointed, the "game" of shaping the world starts. The game starts off with a minimum of 3 Ages (Divided among Land, Races, and Relations) and each age is at the very least 5 rounds, where each player gets a turn each round.
Doesn't sound like much does it? Four hours after play testing this with my brother it not only wasn't that way, but we had a blast doing it as well! "This Land" will never be the same again!
How do the turn's go?
On each round, all players involved roll two six sided dice. Once the dice are rolled, each player adds up the numbers on the dice and that is how many points that player (Who all act as their own "God" in respects to shaping the world) has in their reserve for spending on abilities.
Keep in mind that the Age is very important, as it drastically changes the cost of the Abilities that each player has the ability to spend their points on each round. This is due to the fact that when a world is emerging for the first time, it is much easier to shape, but since there are not as many resources for races to build upon it is much more costly.
Though since the "races" are relatively primitive relationships are not as strong, though by that point it is more difficult to shape the land as there are more servants and existing elements that conflict with these abilities. Everything has a time and place, though by no means does this limit anybody from doing any one thing.
If a player saves up their points to nuke someone's efforts, all the better, it all gets recorded and each of the players gets to enjoy their effects in the campaign they help put together down the road.
What does it help to create?Fun, lots and lots of fun. Though as always, those who help create the world need to be mindful of what style of game everyone is looking to enjoy. A fantasy game is going to be fairly different from a more realistic and dark horror game, and this is no different when considering what is considered fair game when creating the world.
Additionally, players who wish to do this long term need to be mindful of the fact that they will likely be encountering this world when all is said and done and the Gods have taken their hands off of things, leaving the world (And to a lesser extent the players) to fend for itself.
That being said, as the world evolves from land shaping to colonization and the like, players can have a general idea of most of the politics found in a world as it is being created. Additionally, if a player wants to play a specific culture, it is very likely that they can do so while still making it completely unique as the player's ideas get completely altered by other player's attempts at doing the very same thing.
Things to consider.As my brother and I played around with this little gem we had found that it could most certainly use some polish. Though given the fact that this was done for free, and shared with the world with little more than including the details on the front page, it was most certainly something we would not complain about.
For those trying this out, there may be some confusion as to how to establish cities after a race has been established. We had figured it was set up so when an Avatar said it was so, though as we played through we had discovered that by Commanding a Race to a specific action worked that way. Again, we were not sure if this required an Avatar or not.
During the beginning of our testing, we were playing with the idea of having a God without such an entity to simply sprinkle animal life all over the place. Though due to the only Evil God trying to corrupt everything, an Avatar become essential and by the end of the whole deal there was a nation of Wolf/Fox men who specialized in Illusions and Summoning fending off the armies of the corrupt, and possibly ended up with one of the most peaceful and largest expansions of land that we had found.
Note: Avatars are like mini-Gods, and as such can do things significantly cheaper than the player can do themselves. All it takes is a small investment of a single point or two to tell the avatar to do something specific that would normally cost the player many more points to do themselves. That being said, making an avatar is pretty expensive by itself, so it will not be very likely to see people spamming them everywhere.
Also, there seems to be some confusion as to what constitutes a "civilization" as a city is fairly specific. All that we had assumed at one point was that a "race" does not become specialized specifically, but must be divided up into a collection of cities. Though then again, how does one figure that out? I would imagine cities establish relationships with each other to create civilizations, though we didn't think of this until much later in the testing.
Finally, be mindful that once the relationships and conflicts start going into effect, it can be very complicated trying to figure out what any city, race, or civilization can do. For example, when declaring a war, it typically requires the player to command the race or city to command their armies (Which an Avatar get's their own army!) to act. As such, it is absolutely vital to keep track of which army belongs to who and what technology they have at their disposal.
What we tried to do was make it so that if an army had an Avatar that they provide double the bonus of any technology (in our case +2 instead of a standard +1) and each order that was established counts as a +1 in the event that the order would behave in such a way as to defend/attack.
Where things got a little confusing was where the corruption/purification came into play. As we tested we simply used the "Evil"/"Good" to determine not so much alignment as it did mental influence when relating to conflict between the divine and various armies, at least when trying to resolve conflicts.
Final ThoughtsRegardless of what we had trouble with above, it simply came down to the fact that understanding the story that was going on was much more important than the actual mechanics. This way, the abilities made a bit more sense, though it takes some practising and testing the game process to really get a full grasp of what can be done and when.
This is primarily due to the fact that the document was established with the mindset that the reader could interpret and do whatever they thought worked for them. The final element to their goals for the document was simply to have fun, and I feel that it does just that.
When I finally do get the courage to take on my first GURPS game, one of the Universal Role Playing systems that I know that really does a great job of handling pretty much any setting at all out of the box, I will no doubt get around the table and have my players have a go at this.
This way, my players can really get into the setting itself and have a really good idea of what to expect once I decide to take over. Additionally, if any of the "regulars" want to take over in the world itself, they will have enough of the knowledge and history in mind because they themselves had a hand in it's creation!
For those interested, they can find more information on other worlds created using this system as well as the original home of the document at:
If you haven't already, hop on over and have a look at the site (which sadly hasn't been updated in over 7 to 8 years). I can only hope that something like this stays through time, and that we as a community can honestly help keep it alive. It was a product of passion and shared with love. Love or Hate it, it is there for the taking if one is only willing to share!