Writing a Dungeons And Dragons Campaign Setting

I have been getting a lot of interest and questions regarding the Koryo Hall of Adventures (#KoryoHallofAdventures) and since it is taking a lot more time to write than I expected, I decided to write regular updates that will offer insights on my research, the progress of the development and delve into the campaign setting a bit more. A fair bit more, to be honest.

To introduce the campaign setting, it is a Dungeons and Dragons playground based on Korean folklore and myths. It also takes some of its lore from other Asian countries such as Japan and China. The Koryo Hall of Adventures is a place where people of the realms can come to find work such as bounty or public services. For those who are more inclined to do evil deeds, it is also possible to find more lucrative, if evil jobs. 

So let's start with the progress of the writing itself. It is taking me a lot longer to write as I am facing decisions that I didn't expect such as: which names should I source from Korean folklore and which ones should I make up, which parts of said folklore should I include as they already are and which parts should I modify to create diversity and fit a broader narrative, and the more tricky one, how do I make the Shaman class different enough from the Cleric class while keeping it interesting and powerful enough to be attractive.

When it comes to the names, there is a wealth of information in Korean folklore such as the realms of Iseung, Yongwangguk, Okhwang or Jihaguk (all romanized from Korean script). Those are all perfectly acceptable names when taken at face value but when writing for an international audience, in English, I have to be careful about ease of pronunciation. There would be nothing more frustrating for a DM and the players to have to repeat the names of realms and cities several times to get it right. A game of D&D for me is about fluidity and streamlining the gaming process. So the initial name of the campaign setting was Yeouiju (Yeo-ee-ju) which was great and fitted the creation story very well: Yeouiju is the name of a mythical dragon in Korean lore. In the setting, I first wrote that the realms in Yeouiju were built on top of the dead body of a giant dragon. See, I used to live in Yeuiodo, in Seoul, and to me, the pronunciation didn't seem to be an issue but with time, working with this name was never complicated so I recently changed it for Jeoseung, the name of a mythical realm reminiscent of the name of the last dynasty in South Korea: Joseon.

Jeosung is therefore the name of the campaign setting which comprises of 4 major and 2 minor realms on the Iseung plane, meaning this world/here, which is the main plane of this book. The Koryo Hall of Adventure is set in the Haguiliesta realm which is mostly known as the kingdom of the Shamans. Not only is it governed by a council of shamans but the entire realm runs on a shamanic clock of rituals, festivals and general communion with the spirits. The Koryo Hall of Adventures serves as a service center for people around the realm in need of help to fight off evil spirits, deter sorcerers and find solutions to calamities. Now, don't be fooled, the Hall is a business so for people asking for the Hall's services, there is a price to pay and for any adventurers picking up jobs, there is a set of rules to follow.

So the current state of the writing is simple, I am about halfway through but I want to integrate so many details that the expected size of the manuscript always grows. This is the key for me, I want that whoever ends up backing the Kickstarter campaign will receive more than they expect and that requires a very high level of detail as well as making sure that the lore and the setting itself offer enough material to trigger the DM and the players' imagination.

I will write about the setting more often to talk about Korean folklore, interesting stories and how I integrate all of this is Jeosung. So make sure to subscribe to the newsletter to stay up to date with the development of the Koryo Hall of Adventures.

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