Timeline Structure

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I am doing some timeline writing at the moment to get the history of my D&D world together, and I was wondering how people prefer the timelines to be written out.

I am doing it by the year, and then making a description of what happened that year.

Do you guys prefer long descriptions of what happened in the year, or do you prefer short descriptions with just the most base information of the events?

Do you prefer knowing about the dates of cities being founded and why?

Do you want to know the names of historical figures and who they were such as Kings and Queens?

Is a name enough, or do you want more about who these people were? Anything else you want to see in a timeline that I may be forgetting?

I find that players generally don't care too much about those kinds of details, nor do they remember them. However, adding them can help flesh out the campaign world, and hearing those background details makes the world more believable. I cannot stress this enough, though: MOST PLAYERS DO NOT WANT TO READ YOUR 100 PAGE HISTORY OF THE WORLD. In fact, most players don't even want to read a paragraph. They want you to give a short description of the current situation and a few important things that they should probably know. That doesn't mean you can't use your timeline, it just means that it should be used as part of the background. Let the players hear bits and pieces during conversations with NPCs, when learning that their new adventure is related to a past event, when they discover an ancient tome or item of historical significance, etc.


So, as far as writing and organizing it, do whatever works best for you, because you are the only one who should actually be reading it in that format, unless you are planning on publishing this.


Personally, I try to stay away from specific dates. Instead I generally categorize my histories by era, and then in each era I will list major events and describe them relative to each other. It establishes a degree of continuity but leaves flexibility for you to add/change things later.

Owner and Proprietor of the House of Trolls. God of ownership and possession.

I find that players generally don't care too much about those kinds of details, nor do they remember them. However, adding them can help flesh out the campaign world, and hearing those background details makes the world more believable. I cannot stress this enough, though: MOST PLAYERS DO NOT WANT TO READ YOUR 100 PAGE HISTORY OF THE WORLD. In fact, most players don't even want to read a paragraph. They want you to give a short description of the current situation and a few important things that they should probably know. That doesn't mean you can't use your timeline, it just means that it should be used as part of the background. Let the players hear bits and pieces during conversations with NPCs, when learning that their new adventure is related to a past event, when they discover an ancient tome or item of historical significance, etc.


So, as far as writing and organizing it, do whatever works best for you, because you are the only one who should actually be reading it in that format, unless you are planning on publishing this.


Personally, I try to stay away from specific dates. Instead I generally categorize my histories by era, and then in each era I will list major events and describe them relative to each other. It establishes a degree of continuity but leaves flexibility for you to add/change things later.




+1

I've tried twice to 'fully flesh out" a campaign world and realized I'm the only one who reads it. I even have it sitting on dropbox where anyone in the group can read.

I find that players generally don't care too much about those kinds of details, nor do they remember them. However, adding them can help flesh out the campaign world, and hearing those background details makes the world more believable. I cannot stress this enough, though: MOST PLAYERS DO NOT WANT TO READ YOUR 100 PAGE HISTORY OF THE WORLD. In fact, most players don't even want to read a paragraph. They want you to give a short description of the current situation and a few important things that they should probably know. That doesn't mean you can't use your timeline, it just means that it should be used as part of the background. Let the players hear bits and pieces during conversations with NPCs, when learning that their new adventure is related to a past event, when they discover an ancient tome or item of historical significance, etc.


So, as far as writing and organizing it, do whatever works best for you, because you are the only one who should actually be reading it in that format, unless you are planning on publishing this.


Personally, I try to stay away from specific dates. Instead I generally categorize my histories by era, and then in each era I will list major events and describe them relative to each other. It establishes a degree of continuity but leaves flexibility for you to add/change things later.




At most this is going to be like 6 or 8 pages at a 10 font.  I dont want to go crazy with it, but I do want to be able to keep everything in order so I know for myself when things happened.  However, I would like to publish SOMETIME in the future so I want to be able to have information out there that other people will be able to read and take from. 

Its fine writing it, just don't be surprised if no one reads it.
Consider JRR Tolkein. He had to be dead before someone bothered to read his Silmarillion, and even then it never became popular.  

I am Blue/White

Certainly write it down to make a creative constraint for yourself such that it's easier for you to plan your story, but as others have stated, your players won't really care about such stuff. For them, use the information you come up with to frame the action and nothing more. Most of that information will be useless to the player characters except where you make it important to know those things in the context of the adventure. In this case, don't expect them to remember it at all (which suggests to the DM that you shouldn't make knowing "facts" like that an expectation of the players).

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
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Its fine writing it, just don't be surprised if no one reads it.
Consider JRR Tolkein. He had to be dead before someone bothered to read his Silmarillion, and even then it never became popular.  



I read it twice...( Once for the story, and then to understand what I read ) And I feel like I've lost precious which I could have spent somewhere else, like acquiring knowledge about oriental carpets or learn Klingon...

But for your world, it's better to write short description just for you to know and IF they ask the questions, you have the answer. And you can always throw some pieces of informations throughout the game. These can make interesting hooks.

Don't spend too much time creating your world...Let the players make it for you!!!
I'm playing: Abin Gadon, Halfling Bard Winston "Slurphnose", Gnome Sorcerer Pasiphaé, Minotaur Shaman Eglerion, Elf Ellyrian Reaver (Ranger) DMing: Le Trésor du Fluide (Treasure from the Fluid) Un Royaume d'une Grande Valeur (A Kingdom of Great Value) La Légende de Persitaa (Persitaa's Legend) Une Série de Petites Quêtes... (A serie of short quests) Playtesting: Caves of Chaos We're building the greatest adventure ever known to DnD players! Also playing Legend of the Five Rings and Warhammer Fantasy. Sébastien, Beloeil, Qc. I am Neutral Good and 32 years old.
MOST PLAYERS DO NOT WANT TO READ YOUR 100 PAGE HISTORY OF THE WORLD.

Just quoting this truth to get it out of the middle of a paragraph and placed in a more in-your-face position.

Here are the PHB essentia, in my opinion:
  • Three Basic Rules (p 11)
  • Power Types and Usage (p 54)
  • Skills (p178-179)
  • Feats (p 192)
  • Rest and Recovery (p 263)
  • All of Chapter 9 [Combat] (p 264-295)
A player needs to read the sections for building his or her character -- race, class, powers, feats, equipment, etc. But those are PC-specific. The above list is for everyone, regardless of the race or class or build or concept they are playing.
Best to keep a homebrew world's timeline in a state similar to schroedinger's cat; when it is looked at, it decides what it is. Believe me, it's much easier to construct a plot with a tool(the world's history) that can be anything you want it to be.
For instance; that town you're heading to? Maybe it was the site of a monumental far-realm invasion in the past. Or it might be the resting site for a dragon. It depends on what you want it to be. Lining things up and organizing them are best for setting up guidelines. From there, imagination can take over.
Best to keep a homebrew world's timeline in a state similar to schroedinger's cat; when it is looked at, it decides what it is. Believe me, it's much easier to construct a plot with a tool(the world's history) that can be anything you want it to be.
For instance; that town you're heading to? Maybe it was the site of a monumental far-realm invasion in the past. Or it might be the resting site for a dragon. It depends on what you want it to be. Lining things up and organizing them are best for setting up guidelines. From there, imagination can take over.

+1 to this.

Anything you havn't told them can be changed.

guides
List of no-action attacks.
Dynamic vs Static Bonuses
Phalanx tactics and builds
Crivens! A Pictsies Guide Good
Power
s to intentionally miss with
Mr. Cellophane: How to be unnoticed
Way's to fire around corners
Crits: what their really worth
Retroactive bonus vs Static bonus.
Runepriest handbook & discussion thread
Holy Symbols to hang around your neck
Ways to Gain or Downgrade Actions
List of bonuses to saving throws
The Ghost with the Most (revenant handbook)
my builds
F-111 Interdictor Long (200+ squares) distance ally teleporter. With some warlord stuff. Broken in a plot way, not a power way.

Thought Switch Higher level build that grants upto 14 attacks on turn 1. If your allies play along, it's broken.

Elven Critters Crit op with crit generation. 5 of these will end anything. Broken.

King Fisher Optimized net user.  Moderate.

Boominator Fun catch-22 booming blade build with either strong or completely broken damage depending on your reading.

Very Distracting Warlock Lot's of dazing and major penalties to hit. Overpowered.

Pocket Protector Pixie Stealth Knight. Maximizing the defender's aura by being in an ally's/enemy's square.

Yakuza NinjIntimiAdin: Perma-stealth Striker that offers a little protection for ally's, and can intimidate bloodied enemies. Very Strong.

Chargeburgler with cheese Ranged attacks at the end of a charge along with perma-stealth. Solid, could be overpowered if tweaked.

Void Defender Defends giving a penalty to hit anyone but him, then removing himself from play. Can get somewhat broken in epic.

Scry and Die Attacking from around corners, while staying hidden. Moderate to broken, depending on the situation.

Skimisher Fly in, attack, and fly away. Also prevents enemies from coming close. Moderate to Broken depending on the enemy, but shouldn't make the game un-fun, as the rest of your team is at risk, and you have enough weaknesses.

Indestructible Simply won't die, even if you sleep though combat.  One of THE most abusive character in 4e.

Sir Robin (Bravely Charge Away) He automatically slows and pushes an enemy (5 squares), while charging away. Hard to rate it's power level, since it's terrain dependent.

Death's Gatekeeper A fun twist on a healic, making your party "unkillable". Overpowered to Broken, but shouldn't actually make the game un-fun, just TPK proof.

Death's Gatekeeper mk2, (Stealth Edition) Make your party "unkillable", and you hidden, while doing solid damage. Stronger then the above, but also easier for a DM to shut down. Broken, until your DM get's enough of it.

Domination and Death Dominate everything then kill them quickly. Only works @ 30, but is broken multiple ways.

Battlemind Mc Prone-Daze Protecting your allies by keeping enemies away. Quite powerful.

The Retaliator Getting hit deals more damage to the enemy then you receive yourself, and you can take plenty of hits. Heavy item dependency, Broken.

Dead Kobold Transit Teleports 98 squares a turn, and can bring someone along for the ride. Not fully built, so i can't judge the power.

Psilent Guardian Protect your allies, while being invisible. Overpowered, possibly broken.

Rune of Vengance Do lot's of damage while boosting your teams. Strong to slightly overpowered.

Charedent BarrageA charging ardent. Fine in a normal team, overpowered if there are 2 together, and easily broken in teams of 5.

Super Knight A tough, sticky, high damage knight. Strong.

Super Duper Knight Basically the same as super knight with items, making it far more broken.

Mora, the unkillable avenger Solid damage, while being neigh indestuctable. Overpowered, but not broken.

Swordburst Maximus At-Will Close Burst 3 that slide and prones. Protects allies with off actions. Strong, possibly over powered with the right party.

I think player's not reading background is kind of like me and Eye on Forgotten Realms articles, I look at it, and go meh, and not bother reading it unless I hear something really cool about it.


But i'd definitely have some background for your own benefit, but as the above have posted, not having players read it does make it available for to fix things where it makes more sense for the campaign.  
Thanks for the opinions guys.