|Image by Asafesh|
How many years is it since the great capital city was abandoned?
WHat led to the fall of the royal house.
What price do magicians have to pay for their magic?
How many of the noble houses of the realm fell into dark ways? How did the others respond?
About 40%, the others are resisting more or less openly depending on their level of bravery.
Why are priests shunned by wise folk?
Priests are not looked kindly upon by the powers that be, and so people don't want to associate with them and risk getting entangled.
Which of the gods is still revered by the common folk and why?
A warm deity, often associated with harvest, mercy and peace
Why is it hard to reach the elvish lands?
There is a large mountain range to cross to get there.
What weapon is the weapon of the nobility?
Naginata-type of weapon
What non-combat skill is a true nobleman or woman supposed to master?
They're supposed to have some kind of musical skill - whether that's singing or an instrument is not important (Though preferably both).
What do people swear by when they really mean it.
By my mind, heart and hands (ordered by order of operation)
Have the trolls gone for good or might they return some day? Who or what defeated them last time?
They might be back. The royal family and their loyal supporters did.
That gave me a good starting point for defining the world -
Since the fall of the capital city and the royal house was as a result of war just over a century ago, I figured the land would still be pretty fragmented. Having just under half of the noble houses turned to the dark ways suggests that they were the ones who opposed the royal house and the status quo while the other noble houses were the loyalists... and therefore the losers. And since that was only a century or so ago there would still be a lot of bad blood between the big families.
The questions about customs, the nobles wielding a particular type of weapon and being expected to be skilled at music suggests some nice background colour for the setting, and I really liked the idea of magic use costing the practitioners their eyesight. That makes magical ability something with a real cost, and also allows for some nice distinctive NPC magicians who have to find ways to compensate for what they have given up.
The players had a good enough time with coming up with the ideas that I followed up with a second round of questions to dig a little deeper and flesh things out. The questions and their answers are here:
What obligations are placed on members of the nobility that do not apply to the common folk?
Every noble family that has 3 kids or more must send one of them to join the army.
(Player commented: One of us might be escaping that)
What is the Final Oath? That's the oath the last king swore before the last battle, swearing to protect his people.
Why does the last king’s spirit still haunt the ruined city? He hasn't fulfilled that oath.
What is/was Duke Raendor’s secret? He's secretly protecting a descendent of the royal family.
It was lost at sea and the people of the coast rejoiced – what was it? A slave-trader ship + crew that had been raiding the coast.
What was the greatest creation of the dwarves and who stole it? A mechanical contraption with numerous uses, some of which are rather obscure. It was stolen by a small sneaky quiet thief, usually called The Weasel. It's not entirely certain if it was his own idea however.
What animal do they liken the king of thieves to? How secure is his hold? He's likened to a snake, and his hold is pretty secure.
They call her the Lady of Sanctuary – who is she and what does the title mean? She is the goddess of harvest, mercy and peace. Her title alludes to the fact that she gives refuge and healing to suffering souls after death.
Which group of people wears the tattoo on the back of their right hand? Slaves doPlot hooks galore. The players pretty much decided that one of them would be playing the third child of a noble house who was skipping out on their military service, We have the ghost of a king haunting his abandoned city because his spirit cannot rest because of an unfulfilled oath. We have a nobleman hiding an unknown scion of the royal house. We learned that there is a predatory slave trade assailing the country, that there is a master thief called the Weasel who - on the orders of some mysterious other - has stolen a dwarvish artifact, and we've fleshed out the only deity still actively worshipped in the area. Given how much conflict and discord there is in the kingdom I can imagine why a goddess of mercy and peace would still have followers.
We all really enjoyed the process and it gave me as GM an awful lot of material to work with when I sat down to flesh out the details - which I may post at some later time. One thing I really appreciated about the process was the knowledge that if I presented the same questions to another group, or even to the same group again at another time, we'd end up with a world with plenty of background and potential plots that wouldn't need to resemble this one at all.
I followed the worldbuilding questions up with some more character focussed ones once the players had their core concepts for their characters worked out, and in much the same vain they were open ended leading questions designed to bring out key points of their past and a cast of associated characters that could act as friends, rivals or just background colour. It's the first time I've used this process but the results have been very satisfying and I'll almost certainly use variants of this in the future.