A New World, Part 2: Assumptions

Before I start working on maps or any such things, I like to “nail down” some of the basic assumptions of a new setting. Basically, my process is a “top-down” approach, but very iterative – I decide on the big issues first, and then bounce back and forth between detail work and large-scale work. If that makes any sense?

First, what is the setting about? Mostly survival and exploration:

  • Man vs Nature: The colonists are short on equipment, supplies, there’s no infrastructure. There used to be natives, but a Tsunami wave has destroyed coastal settlements – there are surely survivors somewhere, but they aren’t easy to reach and might be worse off than the colonists.
  • Man vs Man: Let’s face it, some people just crack when they are in a life-threatening situation. There will be those who will take what they need – or want – without any regard for others. There will be power struggles, either over practical matters or over ideology.

Second, what sort of starting situation have we?

  • The New Lands were discovered a few years ago. The original explorers built an outpost for their own use, but the colonists couldn’t find it (presumably it was destroyed) and settled nearby.
  • The colony fleet consisted of seven ships, the “refugee” fleet of nine. A rough rule-of-thumb for the number of people this gives us could be using thing the Mayflower as an example; she carried 135 people. Our settlement starts of with about 2000 colonists and refugees. This is a large number, but attrition will run fairly high (half of the Mayflower settlers did not make it through the first winter).
  • The colony fleet would include craftsmen, soldiers, trained administrators; in short every type of profession you’d need to set up a settlement that is far from the homeland. The refugee fleet just carried whoever had the random luck to make it on board.
  • Arrival was probably timed to be late winter, very early spring, so that the colony could be established well before the next winter. For dramatic purposes, I will assume that it is late summer/early autumn. This means the colonists can not get farms going. I might change this depending on research.
  • It’s a “humans only” fantasy setting with no, or very limited, magic.


Finally, one word about goals: I’d like this to be a usable mini setting by the end of the month. This probably means that I won’t be able to go into great detail. Of course, if anybody would like to use this setting, I could keep working on it after the Carnival is over.

1 thought on “A New World, Part 2: Assumptions

  1. For what it’s worth, I say make the conflict a bit of both.
    Perhaps the first settlers, when confronted with some sort of natural force (say a horrendous storm), fled the original area and hastily slapped together a new outpost. They are desperate, hungry and willing to do whatever it takes to survive. Violence and theft are a big problem. They figure that more people will be coming, and that means more supplies ripe for the taking.
    The would-be bandits and warlords are arranged into gangs of thugs and thieves.
    The current group arrives only to find no, or very little, evidence of the founders. They do not know that they’re already being watched by scouts of a raiding party.
    The new colonists thought they’d be arriving at a well established home base, hence the less-than-optimal timing. Now they have to scramble to get set up. They cannot dispatch more than a few scouts to determine what happened to the previous group. They realize that a hard winter is going to be even harder when the scouts fail to return and/or are found dead and stripped of everything. The colonists now understand they have become prey instead of pioneers.

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