For a while now I've been toying with the idea trying run my own fantasy RPG, something I haven't done in many years. I've started playing around drawing maps and such (yes, yes, instead of painting minis...), and my point of departure is an excellent post Tim Shorts wrote over at Gothridge Manor consisting of "Six Tips to Starting a Small Campaign." I read that post quite a long time ago, but it really stuck with me.
There are two things I like about the ideas Tim proposes. First they give a bit of structure, which is something I always need as a baseline to start in anything I do, even if at some point I end up departing from it. And second, by following that structure, I can force myself to keep the project to reasonable proportions, instead of getting too ambitious too fast and then throwing my hands up in frustration.
So here's the result of my stab at the first part of step one, map out a village :
I feel pretty comfortable with this because it's a point of departure I can handle. The last time I GM'd was in college (20 years ago), so there's a lot of rust that'll need to come off. I think taking baby steps from a small start will let me avoid any major up front planning goofs, and I can grow back into it.
I envision the area on the map as simply the town center, where PCs would be likely to spend most of their in-town time – an inn/tavern, the mayor's home, a temple, general store, blacksmith, and stable. Pretty much everything I'd expect a group of 1st-level characters to need early in their careers. Since there is no fixed and pre-defined town perimeter on the map, I can easily expand outward as needed. Other shops and services are presumably there, just over the edge of the map. I can add extensions to the map itself as things develop.
Coming soon . . . the second part of step one: the surrounding wilderness.