7. Storyteller's Guide - GM Info


RootHome is both a distinct fantasy world, the backdrop of upcoming novels and games, and an ethos...an ethos of fantasy gaming and storytelling that seeks to recapture the art of telling tales. This guide is designed to aid Game Masters (GMs) and storytellers of all kinds in capturing those stories that inspire us.      

 

The Three Pillars 

RootHome is built on a storytelling concept called the Three Pillars. The Three Pillars help set the feel and tone of RootHome's world of Ilya. They embody its ethos. The Three Pillars of the RootHome Setting are Lore, Ecology, and Mythos. These are the fabric upon which great stories are written...stories that stay with us long after the adventure or novel is finished. Those are the stories that influence us and help shape our human experience. Those are the stories that RootHome was made to tell.  

Lore 

The lore of the RootHome Fantasy Setting is its starting point. It is the perspective and story of each creature and culture that inhabits the world of Ilya. Lore is passed down in many ways; in ancient tomes containing histories and legends, in the tales told in a local village about the ruins near by, or in the campfire stories overheard at a goblin bonfire. Every creature has a story to tell. Capturing those many intersecting stories and bringing them to the forefront of our imaginations is one of the greatest aspects of fantasy novels and role playing games.  Lore provides the vast root system from which great stories emerge--like a plant bursting forth from the fertile soil. The beautiful thing about emphasizing lore is that there are as many versions of it as their are inhabitants of the world. Every bit of lore has a unique angle, a unique perspective on Reality. This can be the thread that ties together a Great Story. These are the endless variations that makes our stories come to life and bring us to that place of  wonder...we call that place RootHome.   

 GM Story Tips:

 *Any creature, magical item or location no matter how small can be enriched with a bit of lore: give them names, quirks and history.

*Don't be afraid to have conflicting views and alternate explanations of events based on who is tell them

*Let your players contribute to and invent lore surrounding their characters' origins, it doesn't have to match your official version.

Ecology

"Everything is connected to everything else." This is the motto behind RootHome Setting's rich ecological approach to storytelling. Instead of simply dropping creatures into a story or adventure based on game mechanics and challenge level, RootHome Setting attempts to convey that every creature and NPC has a logical reality and existence. It has to eat, it has to sleep and survive somewhere in the world of Ilya. This is the basis of the Ecology of RootHome. Ecology in this sense includes all of the connections that creatures make with the world around them as they pursue their various needs: biological, societal, political and the economic. The more that storytellers and GMs know about the creatures that inhabit the world, the richer and more varied the stories and adventures that they can create. 

Example - The Goblin Ecosystem - If you decide that your adventure requires a horde of twenty-thousand goblins to inhabit the nearby mountains, here are some questions to ask yourself: 

1.) How do they find enough food to sustain such a large population in a mountainous region? 

To answer that question you may decide that they have an agricultural economy with the bulk of their numbers living underground, harvesting cave fungus, and raising giant beetles for food. But traditional lore says that goblins prefer flesh. So maybe they form raiding parties and go to the surface to hunt for meat and slaves. Or perhaps they fill up feasting on the fallen and those captured from rival goblins clans. Now we have a goblin economy and civilization taking shape. With twenty-thousand goblins now able to thrive in the mountains, the next question is, 

2.) What kind of other creatures do the goblins interact with? 

Perhaps they trade slaves for the protection of the nearby Ogres or they are preyed upon by a pair of giant Rocs. Now picture of the wider regional ecosystem is starting to develop. The same can be done for cities, power groups and nations. The key is looking for connections. Knowing these details gives RootHome its open-world character...there is no place you can't go with the story once you know your ecology.

GM Story Tips:

*Figure out what a creature eats and how it lives and you'll have the basis for an entire ecosystem of possibilities.  

*Ecosystems are pyramids, the most common creatures are the wide base that provide food for a handful of top predators or monsters. 

*Animals such as deer herds, elk or bison may roam in herds of thousands and yet only support a small population of hunter gatherers. 
*Add up the population of your towns and cities; at least an equal number (most likely 2-3x) that number will live in the countryside.

Mythos

The mythos of the RootHome Setting is more than just its mythology. It includes the overarching feel of the world and the creatures that inhabit it. Every great novel, movie, or game establishes its own mythos...its look and feel, the norms that hold all of its diverse elements together in a common reality. For RootHome, its mythos is based on a creative motion between two sides of a narrative pendulum: Sometimes less is more, but other times more is indeed more. When it comes to storytelling, that which is too common and too familiar often recedes into the background. When monsters and mythical creatures appear around every corner, the heroes who slay them become nothing more than vermin hunters and animal control. But when civilization has grown strong and prosperous and the creatures that roam dark places of the world have been forgotten, then the bravery of heroes is found. When magic becomes as common and accessible as modern plumbing and electricity, it ceases to be magic and becomes science. In RootHome less is more when it comes to magic and monsters. They are things that flirt with the psyches of civilized men and women tempting them to leave the familiar and enter into the realm of the unknown. But the opposite is also true. Sometimes more is more. Why simply have a house-sized dragon terrorize the countryside when a dragon the size of a city sleeps beneath a forgotten empire ready to awaken? RootHome has massive beasts that come into conflict and shake nations, while a simple farmhand discovers there were indeed monsters lurking in the old barn at the edge of the woods. As the Old Sage once said, "The great and the small set measure to each other, high and low display each other. " 

GM Story Tips:
*Ignorance is bliss so find ways to keep people in the dark about how the world "really works" and let them discover it slowly.
*Big events like saving their homeland from an "unbeatable" power like a Draco-Lord can test the creativity and grit of characters of all levels.
*Feel free to get rid of or make scarce spells or items that feel outside of your Mythos or which overpower your story. 
*Make your magical items and monsters exotic, wondrous, and terrifying but avoid the tacky and inane. 

 

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