Kharak Kharkulanen, or: Creating like it’s 1984

…and my grandma just gave me that super-awesome shiny black box with the first rpg I’ve ever played for my birthday.

So that’s how I’m writing my campaign world.

You know, I’ve been refereeing for 35 years – but I never really created my own world. Oh sure, I wrote a ton of material for all the games we played, and I wrote probably even more generic material – generic fantasy, generic cyberpunk, generic what-have-you. But my own setting? I guess I never really thought about it. That’s weird, and it’s weirdly unsettling.

I’m writing my own setting.

And I’ll start just like back in the days when I was 14 and refereed my first roleplaying game.

How did I come up with stuff?

  1. I read a lot of books. I watched some movies, but I watched tv shows more.
  2. I listened to music a lot. KISS. Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five. Then, later, heavy metal and hiphop. 
  3. Somehow, that all combined and gestated and birthed new things.
  4. Oh, and I’ve always been big into names. Names are important.
OK. A name. I need a name.
I’m firing up talktotransformer.com. Then, I feed it with words and names, some of them from Tolkien’s languages (khuzdul and others).
This is what I give Transformer:

…and some of its replies are pretty cool:

Kharak Kharkulanen, for instance. Or Khrul Bangkorai. Or Kuruth. Transformer seems to like ‘k’ a lot. Me too.

I pick Kharak Kharkulanen. Because it sounds kind of Finnish and a little dark (which is no coincidence, I might add, judging from the mentality of my combatives buddies from Finland).

What IS Kharak Kharkulanen? A land? The name of the world? A person? No clue. It doesn’t matter now. That’s how I’ve always started my creative process: come up with a name, then go from there.

But before we get into that: Let me whip up a logo quickly.

Yeah. Metal, baby.

What’s IN Kharak Kharkulanen?

Let’s see. Recently, I watched The Expanse. The Shooter. Beat. If I ask myself, ‘what’s in there?’, my reply is, ‘spaceships, rugged, utilitarian surroundings, competing empires, ex-military types, action, drugs, music’. These will definitely go into Kharak Kharkulanen.

To get more input, I’ll try to answer as many of Jeffs’s 20 questions for my campaign setting as I feel like doing, so:

What is the deal with my cleric’s religion?
Clerics? There are no clerics. Religious zealots, doom-and-gloom priests, flower power cults. Gods exist, and some of them like to meddle with things.

Where can we go to buy standard equipment? 
The Multiversal Trading Company (Arduin, baby!) has outposts in all the known planes of existence. And, of course, local markets.

Where can we go to get platemail custom fitted for this monster I just befriended? 
The Armorers’ Guild.

Who is the richest person in the land? 
The slugman nobles, high up in their sky castles and mountaintop citadels.

Where can we go to get some magical healing? 
There are lots of magikal items to be found.

Where can we go to get cures for the following conditions: poison, disease, curse, level drain, lycanthropy, polymorph, alignment change, death, undeath? 
See a doctor, or a medicine man. Not necessarily on this plane.

Is there a magic guild my MU belongs to or that I can join in order to get more spells? 
No magik-user guild. No school. Just families and social clubs guarding their secrets. Trading spells among each other. Spells are living beings and don’t like to be bothered. That’s why sometimes, they wreak havoc on magikers.

Which way to the nearest tavern? 
Illastah’s Arms, this way, 200 meters.

What monsters are terrorizing the countryside sufficiently that if I kill them I will become famous?
I feed talktotransformer.com my list of Arduin monsters: Tempestasaurs. Huge frickin’ golden t-rexes riding on massive black storm clouds or giant waves of elemental water. Yup.