Since D&D is, let’s face it, a kids’ game, kids are really good at it. My two year old seems to be constructing a campaign world. Here are two locations that she recently detailed.
The Gracious City. I have no confidence that she knows what gracious means, but she likes how it sounds. I asked her what’s in the Gracious City and she said “horrible trees.” Again, not sure she knows what horrible means, but still, evocative.
It sounds to me like the Gracious City is an old elven city – no one else’s city name would be arrogant in that particular way – and it sounds like the city has fallen upon hard times. The elves are gone, and the City’s Rivendell-like buildings and towers are haunted by evil treants and blights. Decent adventure location, kid. Now stat up some encounters, please.
The North City. While the Gracious City is sort of a vanilla d&d hex, the North City is more of a campaign conceit.
First of all (announced my kid, after watching a bit of a Midsummer Night’s Dream production), angels are fairies’ babies. Whoa! Could it be that the feywild, rather than being a mere prime material shadow, is actually the progenitor, the life force from which everything else bloomed, including the astral plane, its gods, and its angels? That’s certainly a secret the gods would keep hush hush. Let’s call this the Garden Cosmology!
Second toddler-supplied fact: in the North City is a red door. Angels and fairies open it, go through, and close it behind them. The door leads to Mars.
What’s on Mars, I asked? My toddler answered (with some justifiable impatience) “angels and fairies.” And a blue door. And a gray door. And a beige door. What’s through these doors? One leads to “up up high in the North City,” one leads to “down down in the North City,” one to “up above the North City” etc.
There’s so much to unpack here. First of all, the mention of Mars implies that this game world may be an alternate, future, or past Earth. Second, the name “the North City” suggests to me that cities are not that common: a mere direction is enough of an identifier for the city. Finally, based on the targets of the doors, the city is tall. Made of spires? or clouds? or maybe a giant pyramid?
Oddly, this world bears a strong resemblance to William Hope Hodgson’s 1912 novel The Night Land, which I’ve written about before. On future Earth, under a dimming sun, a few cities remain. They’re giant pyramids. Titanic monsters wait outside the cities.
Only my daughter’s reference to Mars, and the angels/fairies, remains unexplained. But The Night Land does include unexplained references to elves and time travel, so it’s not necessarily noncanonical.
So far this developing campaign world seems to be city-oriented. I’ll keep an ear open for any lore she drops about wilderness and dungeon locations.