Cover art for the three Interdependency novels

S2E5 Worldbuilding

Unfortunately, we had some flooding in the area of the Lair where Ken was recording. So if it sounds like he was underwater for a time, he was! We feel the audio is listenable at least, so we’ve left it in.

As we continue preparing for our Scum and Villainy campaign, we turn our attention to the intricacies of worldbuilding. We talk about how we define world building, getting buy-in from players, and discuss the merits of using a popular, existing universe like Star Wars vs. something more homegrown.

We also explore virtual dungeons, catch up on reading, look at Markdown editors, collect infinity stones in Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3, back the Mothership Kickstarter, and return to map drawing the Caverns of Kazeal.

  • Unreal Dungeon
    • Demeo – virtual reality dungeon crawling with your friends! It’s a Gloomhaven-lite game, complete with a virtual table and 1980s-style den.
    • Second Life is still a thing. Will it become a VR thing?
  • Pages of Obsidian
    • We look at the Obsidian note-taking app.
    • It’s Markdown editor that includes impressive hyperlink and visualization tools.
    • It’s reminiscent of TiddlyWiki, a JavaScript-based note taking tool.
  • The Collapsing Library
  • Boarding the Mothership
    • Ken backed the kickstarter for the Mothership Sci-Fi Horror RPG 1st Edition Boxed Set
      • From the Kickstarter promo page: “Welcome to Mothership, the award-winning sci-fi horror tabletop RPG where you and your crew try to survive in the most inhospitable environment in the universe: outer space! You’ll excavate dangerous derelict spacecraft, explore strange unknown worlds, encounter hostile alien life and examine the horrors encroaching upon your every move.”
    • Ken backed it at the $100 level, so he’s getting the core rules and a bunch of expansions.
    • 15,699 people participated in the Kickstarter, raising $1,405,569
    • It arrives Nov. 2022.
    • Ken may have a creature feature problem (in that he has more creature feature games than he has time to play)
  • Hull Breach on Level 301
    • Ken’s also contemplating HULL BREACH Vol. 1, an anthology for Mothership
      • From the blurb: “Hull Breach contains dozens of brand new modules, bestiaries, equipment expansions, Warden advice, system-hacks, toolkits, tables and much more from 20 unique authors!”
  • Back to the Danger Room
  • The Caverns of Kazeal
    • Ken’s working on the final (maybe?) dungeon for his Scales of Truth Dungeons & Dragons campaign.
    • Ended up drawing it by hand, because sometimes, the old ways are the best.

Main Topic: Worldbuilding

  • We look at the art of worldbuilding, with a particular emphasis on our upcoming Scum and Villainy campaign.
  • What do we mean by worldbuilding?
    • Worldbuilding happens at many levels (world, region, city, character)
    • What’s the domain of the GM vs. the players? In a Scum and Villainy-style game, is there even a difference?
  • Identify tolerance for worldbuilding
    • Are people along for the ride … or do they want to build the world?
    • Impacts GM prep time (GM establishes groups, NPCs, etc.) vs the players. Make sure the expectations match.
  • How much worldbuilding are people up for?
    • Sweet spot where people bring their own ideas, but the GM contributes as well.
    • Individual worldbuilding vs. group worldbuilding
    • Building during the session or building in-between sessions
  • Worldbuilding from scratch vs worldbuilding in an established setting
    • How do you worldbuild in an established setting?
      • Primer for the setting to establish the tone and era.
      • One-to-two pager outlining:
        • Era notes
        • Region notes
        • Notable Organizations
        • Notable NPCs
    • Scum and Villainy vs. Star Wars
      • The Scum and Villainy default setting is open – small amount of canon, freedom to modify/build/create.
      • Star Wars creates expectations and limitations. Canon is harder to break. “This is what Star Wars is to me.” The game doesn’t get through canon sometimes.
      • As we get older, are we more tolerant of radical ideas? (what if Vader and Luke rule the galaxy together?)
    • Taking notes is going to be necessary so we all remember what we’ve created, what’s happened, and who’s created what.
  • Worldbuilding in less established settings.
    • More flexibility. Inherently gives people permission to build what they want…
    • … but they have to want to build
    • Rivers don’t need to flow downhill OR make your world fantastic, it doesn’t have to be a simulation of our world
      • Should it have internal consistency, even if the players don’t know it?


Thanks for listening. If you have feedback, we love feedback. You can send it to us at or via Twitter @lairofsecrets. You can also visit and leave us some feedback, topic ideas, or your own thoughts on what we’ve talked about.

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