The Worldbuilder's Journal

First Published 5/9/21Last Update 7/25/21

Writing a Whole New World

Dear adventurers and other DMs alike. In this article you will find Dm Wolfsfox's musings, doodling's and encounters built around the prompts given within the Dungeons and Dragons published "The Worldbuilder's Journal of Legendary Adventures." The journal is copyright 2020 by Wizasrds of the Coast LLC and the book and cover is given credit to Nicole Block.

In the following blog postings you will find my responses to the questions posted by each page's questions in the journal. You can use the table of contents below to find specific writings or themes that you are interested in or you can scroll the page to read all of my musings. Please note that the actual questions that were published in the book will not be found in my blog, only my responses. This decision was made due to the questions not being my own work where the answers were. If you want to know the specific prompts and have lined space to write your own thoughts the Journal can be found at local gaming stores and online for purchasing.

I really enjoyed the prompts and found the Worldbuilder's Journal to be a valuable tool for DM's. Many times answering the prompts led to dipper writings than what was intended. I highly recommend this tool to help stir your own creative creativity.

The Fox's Journal Entries

The Nightfall's Bliss Black Market

This particular black-market is hidden in an abandoned asylum. Regular folk stay away from this building due to stories of it being haunted, and it seems that unhealthy vagrants (thieves guild members on guard duty) tend to roam the unkept grounds. The entrance to this black market is only unlocked at sundown and open until two hours before sunrise. The Nightfall's Bliss is a known hot spot for magical potions and herbs that are not easily found in legitimate establishments and many times is a gamble whether they will work properly or not. The desperate and needy come to this market.

Thrimil Stromnak

Dwarven trader. His left half of his face looks burnt off by acid. A leather and copper eye patch covers his left eye, though no one has seen what lies underneath. No beard grows on his deformed face but he wears his black hair in a spiked mohawk.

He is very gruff sounding and WILL NOT barter or haggle. If you attempt haggling the prices rise instead of fall.

Thrimil specialized in "rare magical items" that many look like junk. Many items are from the Underdark and armor and weapons usually are dented and look battle worn but nothing that he has brought to market has failed yet.

Secomber Sam the Salesman

He is the embodiment of a slimy car salesman. Sam is a halfling who will pickpocket your party members and then try to sell you their stolen goods. It doesn't matter how much you have he wants your gold... all of it. Sam is a master in persuasion and deception. Many speculate he is what happens to a failed bard entertainer. Sam has no problem telling you how he escaped married life from the town of Secomber which is how he got his name Secomber Sam.

Sam's table is filled with lots of random Knick knacks and random bits and bobs. Sam swears it all comes from Secomber but many people know that its not.

Gifu Goodwoman, the town grandma

She looks to anyone like a kindly old grandmother who would knit you some wool socks. No one would guess that she laces her sweet treats with poisons. If you are looking for sweets and delectable goods enough to eat come to Gifu but don't eat them. The treats she makes look good enough for royalty and taste amazing, but they will be the last thing that you taste.

There are lots of fancy torts, cakes and sweets of all shapes and colors, all to mask the deadly contents inside.

Note: I dislike coming up with names. Many times it is hard to come up with clever racial names. Many of my characters will use suggested names from the Player's Handbook or from or DM Bork is much better with creating names from scratch and at times I will consult him when building NPC's. If I have a character concept in my mind I will use the internet to look up a name meaning and go through different languages until I find the name that I like best that matches the meaning I want.

Taverns of Renown and Of Shady Nature

The Alicorn

This fine stone establishment is 3 stories and the roof is quite slender in the shape of a steep point. It is quite a different look compared to the other buildings in the merchants quarter. The walnut sign hanging above the the door has an alicorn with it's wings spread.

The building itself is made of beautiful marble bricks, and the windows are made of crystal glass. The building itself screams high class from the outside, but entering the doors the beauty and decadence continue. A grand fireplace with ornate mantle, perfect looking chairs and tables with no dents or splinters, and a wait staff finely dressed in matching uniforms.

Only the best wines and brews are sold here, and fresh food prepared by a chef from Water Deep for an (un)reasonable amount of gold.

The accommodations here are 4 gold a night and consist of several large rooms on the second floor with beds and feather mattresses.

The proprietor of this establishment is Sega, a male elf always dressed in some gaudy colored silk robe. He has a long face with brown hair tied back into a braided bun. His eyes are bright green and keen on taking as much coin as he can.

The Naughty Nymph

This is one of my favorite homebrew locations that I had in a Pathfinder Campaign.

This establishment is known as the place where sailors and back ally boys can get cheap food and lady company. A half-orc bouncer stands at the door to help assist any drunk patrons back out the door. This building is the fantasy game version of Hooters. Ladies scantily clad serving cheap food to eager customers. The women here are union so don't you dare try sampling the goods or getting handsy before paying, the bouncer is very good at his job.

The building itself doesn't look half bad, made of timber with a slate roof. Inside there are many small round tables, enough to hold 2 people scattered around the room. The northern wall that you can see is quite a large bar with many stools to sit there. Only two larger tables exist on the east and western walls. On either side of the bar there is a door. The left door leads into the kitchen, where occasional dwarven yelling can be heard and the door to the right that leads to the back private rooms of the working ladies.

There is no overnight accommodations, the rooms in the back are if you are willing and have enough money to take one of the working girls back into her room.

The Gilded Mug

The Inkeeper is a more robust female halfling named Asphold (but everyone calls her "Asp" because she does the most excitable gasp when she sees new adventurer's.) She will give you one free pint of ale if you tell her a story of your most recent adventure. She has bright auburn hair and green eyes. She walks with a limp, as she had to retire from adventuring due to an accident. If you ask her about it, she will only tell you the limp is due from chasing too many children and carrying too many mugs.

The sign out from is a large wooden tankard that has glass pieces to look like gems decorating the golden rim of the mug. The business does very well at the edge of town.

Bunk rooms are available for 2 gp (1 each if you are splitting with a party member). The mattresses are straw but the bunk also comes with a nice wool blanket. Along with the bunk bed there are two chairs and for an additional 5 silver you can get a room with a fireplace.

Food here takes a little more time to get to you as everything is "Made with love by grannie" in the back. Sometimes the old halfing woman in the kitchen gets things wrong and only says that what you got served is what you were meant to have.

The Crossed Blade Inn

This building is housed in the adventurers quarter and stands next to boarded up well of town (the hidden entrance to the Thieves Guild). The Inn is a two story, half timbered building that has obvious dwarven-wrought iron workings on the doors. Even the timber of the front has made it look like this could be dropped in from a dwarven citadel.

Nanain, a black haired dwarf with a nicely braided beard that goes down to his knees, runs the Crossed Blade Inn. He is very strict on his no weapons policy, and has a scrawny looking human man take everything at the "coat check" in the entry way. All things are well documented and happily returned to you as you depart. This building is peaceful grounds and no devil or angel will help you if you cross Nanian's no fighting rule.

Accommodations are a single rooms that have a wooden cot and small desk/wardrobe. Rooms can be rented for 1 gp a night or 5 gp for the entire week.

Broken Shield Alehouse

This is a simple wooden building with several shuttered windows. Most tables inside are large and has bench seating.

There is a large maple table on the far side of the room where many a fool loose and gain money in card games, trying to make a profit after failed adventuring.

The owner, a crotchety old man named "Bob" watches over his den of poorly taken care of furniture like everything is made of gold. If you break something (even if you sit on a stool and it breaks due to its lack of care) Bob will demand that you pay in gold to replace it, but miraculously nothing new ever seems to make it into the building. The only thing that makes this place worth it is the surprisingly good food for cheap. It seems the cook Merey takes pity on the poor travelers and down heartened to take some extra care in her cooking.

Accommodations is a group sleeping area in the cellar where many hammocks and wooden cots lay about the floor in this common room. There is a large fire place on the west wall that allows for some warmth, otherwise the body heat of the room keeps everyone toasty. It is only 2 sp to stay here, and those who do are usually those who have come back unsuccessful from adventures. This is a great location to pick up rumors and find other side quests that others were unable to complete.

The Fox's Hunting Hall

In the residential side of town is this stone walled building complete with a picket fence surrounding the property. The two-storied building is a well respected establishment by townies and adventurers and is quite the local for stories and fresh game.

Inside you are greeted by a young female human named Jodi who welcomes you the Hunting Hall. Her and her twin brother, Joel, are responsible for all of the fresh game, though they will buy fresh meat off of local hunters and trappers if the meat is of good enough quality.

If something is lurking in the woods, they would know about it, and most likely pay you well to return unique heads to mount on the already impressive wall of trophies.

There are only 3 rooms available to rent for accommodations. Each room costs 2 gp and has a nice soft mattress and goose feather pillow. On cold evenings furs can be rented for 2 sp to be used for warmth.

Family Matters

Only one time has one of my groups come across a “family” situation and they did very well with it. It was a group of 3 players going through The Sunless Citadel as a 5e dungeon crawl between a close group of friends. The party consisted of Mort (wizard), Elren (druid) and Sigvald (cleric). The first evening the individuals arrived in the town of Oakhurst they were awakened in the middle of the night to the cries of “Fire!” Some of the town’s wooden buildings were ablaze, one being the town store. Outside the general store was quite a distraught woman named Kerowyn Hucrele as her 4 year old was still upstairs in their loft apartment above the store. Elren and Sigvald make their way into the burning building, finding the stairs already mostly engulfed in flames. Mort, being a very obvious tiefling (horns, wings, and tail all of a bright red coloring) flew his way up into the second story window. Mort was the first to make it to the door of the back bedroom, kicking it in and as he was immune to fire he just walked right in looking like a demon with a fiery backdrop. The child absolutely was terrified of this horned entity that just walked through the scary flames. The halfling druid and the human cleric convinced the child to come out from under the bed and be taken to safety.

After this encounter the child actually was fond of Mort (during day light hours) and I would like to think that he would be a lot less fearful of demonic looking things based on this one encounter. I feel that knowing that these three would go and save his older siblings from the Sunless Citadel the child would also feel inspired to become an adventurer himself when he’s fully grown.

If I were to include more families or if players were to run into children / families that they previously encountered I would like to think that a majority of them would be positive. Other ways to involve families: Perhaps one of your players uses one of the children they encountered to make a future pc of them grown up. Perhaps if there is a bad interaction the child can become the BBEG of the future.

Major Landmarks

The Giant’s Toes

A large stone monolith is erect out of the side of a hillside about a half mile outside of town. The large stone has a ridged top like an ungroomed toe nail. Larger boulders also align next to it on the hill, and legend goes that a town hero defeated a stone giant who was attacking the town during a massive rainstorm. The body of the giant is thought to be buried in that hill, all that can be seen are the giant’s toes as a warning to any other giants who might wish to attack the town.

The Giant’s Toe brings wild “Jack the Giant Killer'' type stories to the local taverns and bards. This could make the town folk more superstitious of very large folk and they become more irrational if you throw a giant encounter in this town.

Fey Door

Deep in the local woods is a beautiful archway made of two dozen braided branches and thick green vines. Large ferns surround the bottom of the archway giving the illusion that this portal grew naturally from the ground. The morning glories that climb along the frame always are open and vibrant in color, no matter the time of day. Locals are afraid to go through it as it is thought to be cursed by Fey. It is rumored that if someone goes through the portal they become the next target to be taken away by the fey, never to be seen again.

The Rainbow Pond

Hidden in the mountain valley is a large lake that is made of bubbling warm water. In the middle of the lake is pristine blue waters, As the water gets closer to the edge the blue turns green, to a bright yellow, to a rusty orange for the water to bright red sandy beaches. It is said that the lake has magical properties and has the chance to heal injuries and inflections to those who are of good nature. Local towns near by have had trouble with people selling fake and real flasks of water from the lake. Lately there have bene people trying to make a profit off of the healing waters that have been getting in fights with the local druids who feel the water should be kept sacred and only used for emergency purposes.

Character Death Alternatives

Character loss is a really hard thing, and I am too much of a softie to perma kill a character. Players going unconscious- definitely. There have been a few close calls as well but it is not in my nature to try to TPK or actively try to murder my players. I do my best to balance things so the players feel success, get challenged, go oof that was a close one but I don’t like perma death.

IF I were to actively murder players I feel like I would like to keep their memories…or ghosts around to keep the rest of the party on their toes. Here are some Wolfsfox ideas on how to deal with loss of players in creative ways.

Warlock Patron

A dead party member feels obligated to keep their chosen person safe by attaching the remainder of their essence to allow their chosen PC warlock powers. It’s a way to keep the personality and flavor of the previous character around. You can work with the player to see what types of creative flavor (or chaos) they would want for their pact that one of the still living PC’s now follow.

Why do I see this working? Warlocks and their “otherworldly being” create a pact, which could be the love (or hatred) these party members shared in life. Warlocks learn and grow in power at the cost of the patron’s behalf and as the dead character is now otherworldly they can lend their fledgling some power. It also states that the patrons do not have to be “god-like” so making a dead PC a patron doesn’t need to make them overpowered. It would be more for flavor vs. extreme power boosts. If I would do this at my table, I would still have the dead player still roll up a new character so they can still be an active part of the story but do Patron stuff as an added bonus at the table.

Ghostly Appearance

The player…. Literally turns into a ghost. The DM should work with the player to turn them into a spectral creature where they can live out their poltergeist dreams. There are many “ghost” type monsters available via the Monster Manual that can help your player flavor their new spectral self.

There are many pieces to choose from. There is the classic “Ghost” with its manifestations and incorporeal movement. Horrifying Visage has a low DC but can pack a punch if the target epically fails. The Possession (recharge on a 6) can also be interesting but I would make sure to put down ground rules of using it against enemies and not using these actions on party members.

As a dear fan of the game Phasmophobia I would also accept Oni, Wraith and revenant with some good persuasion.

How I would implement this at my table: I would use this as a short term, fun aspect to bring some flavor. The way I see this is the player who passed away would pick which “Ghost” they would want to be. I would have the player use that creature's stats and actions with the skin that they look like or have aspects of what that character looked like before death. They have ghost like versions of the gear they were wearing/holding when they passed but the items are no longer usable. This would be used by me only for players who died in that session to get through the end of the game day before “moving on.” This would be short term until the player who died has a new character sheet rolled up and ready to go to be added back into the game.

Character Wills

Have your party create wills. This may not be for every gaming table but you can ask your players to write wills for their characters. This way the remaining party is given specific items from the dead party member with hopefully a meaningful or funny reasoning behind it. This can lead to tender moments and hopefully avoid players just looting the body of one of their dear compatriots like a common run of the mill body at the end of an encounter. This could also add extra side missions in the event that a player asks for their personal effects to be brought back to a NPC that had meaning to them.

Masquerade at Castleroy Manor

I ran a whole encounter/event based on this before and it went really well. The party hears that one of the elite families of the town is having an exclusive party, with only a limited amount of invitations being sent out. The party first needed to steal an invitation from someone who was actually invited, and then after seeing what the real invitation looked like was able to craft forgeries for the rest of the party.

The guests are ushered into a grand manor by well dressed footmen in rabbit masks. The large manor estate is brightly lit with torches and bonfires, inside the house is just as extravagantly lit and filled with gold and silver filigree decorations.

The Family:

Lord Castleroy- Duke of the land and master of the estate. He is in a grand Lion costume.

Lady Castleroy- She is in an elegant peacock costume.

Miss Wednesday Castleroy- She is in a Raven costume.

Mister Henry Castleroy- Younger brother to Lord Castleroy. He is in a crushed red velvet suit with a lobster mask.

Young Masters Declan and Dorian Castleroy- Twin brothers. They are both dressed as panda bears and as usual, it’s impossible to tell them apart.

Ariabella Castleroy- “The Chicken Lady” of the party. She is definitely the “new money” who married into the family and is the wife of Henry. A very kind soft spoken woman who doesn’t quite fit into the scene.

The Guests:

Albert Beornward- pig mask. The very drunken constable who will make the players deputies for the evening to figure out who did this

Wallding of Breweald- Wolf mask

Osmosis Chapman- Owl mask

Emma Felgild- horse mask

Leurente Le Grant- Cat mask, but are those ears real?

The Story:

The party starts off well. Players are able to interact with the family and the party guests as they please. The dinner is a fancy 4 course meal. During each meal a special performance takes place on a large stage. The feast tables are nestled in a rectangular shape around this stage. In the dessert round of dinner the round’s entertainment is an illusionist who does fancy magic tricks on the stage to the delight of everyone. “For my final trick…” the gnome goes but before he can finish his statement the two large topiaries next to stage left and right come alive. The party guests first clap and praise him for such a great trick but a perception check sees that the gnome is confused as it is not his trick and the topiaries start attacking the guests.

What Happens Next?

A very Clue-esque game of who did it? The family and guests retreat to their rooms/ a room in the house to be locked into for safety. The bad guy (Henry Castleroy) goes from room to room through secret passageways trying to get rid of the young twins so he can inherit the estate. The party has 20 minutes to search for clues and figure out who it may be before Henry Castleroy starts his murder spree. Clues could include painted family portraits on the walls showing Henry as a magic user. Clues of red velvet or one of the lobster claws that was part of his costume piece)

Different Worlds Ideas

The world that I have created is a globe shape. The world is a hot lava filled world with a variety of dead dry continents. The majority of the population of the world live in flying crafts up in the air that use the thermal heat of the lava to help keep them in the air. A few humans work below on the surface using the lava for smithing and metal works.

This is a more steam punk setting, where technology is held at higher regard than magic. The land is dying and the lava is rising. The flying crafts are also becoming more and more in disrepair. It is now a race between will the lava rise and cover the surface before the ships are fixed.

A mountainous world with an extensive cave system that became a haven as the world flooded. There are a few mountain peaks that can still be accessed by boat but all living is within the few mountain cave systems that have not been flooded.

Top half of a sphere: A vibrant land where there is a variety of biomes. At the very northern spot is a tall snow capped mountain, where there is desert, lush jungle and forest land surrounding the base. Each of the land differentiations has one massive city and a few settlements. There are only a few who are allowed to travel between the different cities. There are two suns and one moon. Which sun is in the sky and the constellations change every few months.

The bottom half is just a dark clouded area filled with lighting storms and mist. No one has gone into the darkness to explore and returned alive. The world is a series of land masses separated by lakes and rivers. The edge of the world there are a few waterfalls where the water drops off into the storming mists.

World of Quirks

Individuals only live to the age of 70. At that point in time the individuals dissolve into mist leaving behind a little pearl with the person’s most important wisdom and knowledge to pass on to future generations. No one knows why this happens and just accepts this fate.

Humanoids are only able to communicate through hand signs, as there are no vocal cords in these creatures. However, magical creatures have verbal communication.

The desert has unique colorful plants that can feed and provide hydration for whole communities. They can only be found on the highest plateaus and bloom only at high noon for harvesting.

No magic items or spells grace this world. Any “fantasy” based creatures are considered a rare mutation. These creatures do exist with magic in hidden spots around the world as a way to protect themselves from the humanoid species that dominate the planet.

The world’s technology ages backwards. Scientists are afraid of what is to come in the next few centuries. Scientists are trying to work on a way to stop this from happening but as more technology is being lost the work becomes harder.

Deities Among Us

The deities are ever present in this world and come in many shapes and forms.

Nature and Harvest Deities

  • visibly seen in crops, fields, woods and nature. Their appearance changes with the seasons (such as coloration). If there is a hard crop harvest, the deity appears thin and withered as well.

  • Can be asked to bless harvests and gardens

  • Asks for more nature based tributes (water, compost, etc)

  • Helps bring in harvests during festival seasons


  • Has many appearances as they come to those passing as old friends and family members to help guide those of old age into passing

  • Is a Grief counselor and will take time to help those of tragic deaths

  • Has a physical tome that is carried on their belt in which they take notes from those who have passed to help carry on the deceased stories.


  • Loves to pick the strongest side in minor disputes but in major conflict takes into balance the justifications of each side and then chooses.

  • Appears disguised to help the “justified” side make sound battle decisions but will never physically appear on the battlefield

  • Protects homes from foreign invaders and uses their magic to put up barriers.