• Justin Handlin

World Building Primordia: W/ Lex Starwalker of Game Masters Journey

Listen to our Interview with Lex Starwalker

Crit Academy discusses world-building with Lex Starwalker, Dungeons and Dragons game master, Game Master's Journey podcaster, writer, and gamer. He shares his world-building techniques that brought the world of Primordia to life. Sharing both his challenges and victories along the way.

Can you tell us about Game Master's Journey and how it came to be?

What can you tell us about your homebrew world Primordia?

Primordia is an ancient world of powerful and primal magics. I’ve tried to come up with new options for the players that reflect Primordia and help them bring the setting to life. Primordia is a world of many planar portals and convergences, so you’ll see a fair number of things touching on planar travel.

Can you walk us through your process of Primordia's development?

  • Begin with enough of a big picture to get a feel for your world (gods & pantheon, playable races, theme & tone, some movers & shakers, etc)

  • build only what you need, as you need it.

  • Saves you time and gets you running/playing the game ASAP

  • gives you more flexibility to adapt and evolve your world based on what the players do, what they show interest in, etc

  • Don't fall prey to worldbuilder's disease.

  • You should only give the players information about the world that is directly relevant and necessary to what they're doing right now (unless, of course, they ask for more).

What is your approach to session prep?

  • I used to plan everything, and plan practically the whole campaign ahead of time. My experience has taught me this is madness.

  • The players will definitely derail things at some point, probably numerous times.

  • For instance, in my current campaign, I have a few beats and reveals planned for the campaign, but that's pretty much it

  • I then plan for the upcoming session, and I may have a few ideas for where the story will go after that, but that's it.

What do you think makes a good D&D setting?

  • A blend of the familiar and the unique. E.g. in a D&D world you want enough familiar tropes and features to allow the players to feel they can understand the setting without having to study it.

  • Otherwise, it won't feel like a D&D game.

  • However, you want some unique features of your world to make it stand out, otherwise why not just run in Faerun or Krynn?

Is there anything that really sets the Primordia setting apart from others?

  • Primordia has 2 suns (a red & a blue giant)

  • Lots of interplanar rifts and portals

  • Is a super-earth (10x the size of Earth)

  • Missing or new races

With the limiting and adding of new races, how do you feel about limiting player options?

  • I don't think this is a very smart thing to do.

  • Players like options. I'd caution against removing basic options from the PHB

  • If you do, make sure to replace them with additional options

  • Primordia I removed 2 races from the PHB (gnomes & dragonborn), but I added 5

Do you leave their race stat blocks for use and flavor them? Or do you remove them entirely?

Visit Lex at: Game Master's Journey podcast: http://www.starwalkerstudios.com/gamemastersjourney

The Trickster's Labyrinth D&D adventure: http://www.starwalkerstudios.com/tricky

My YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/starwalkerstudios

I'm also on Twitter @LexStarwalker

Unearthed Tips and Tricks! (We give you creative content for your next adventure- we get to be creative here)

Character Concept: Patron Gabe Kleinert

  • Alien from Another Plane

  • You are not native to the material plane. Instead, choose another plane- maybe the Elemental Plane of Fire, maybe the verdant forests of Bytopia, maybe the clockwork nirvana of Mechanus- your character is originally a resident of that plane, sent on a one-way trip to the material plane for reasons up to you. Maybe you’re royalty, sent away because someone is trying to cleanse your family line. Maybe you committed a crime and hopped through a Gate left open by some high-level adventurers on an adventure. Maybe you’re just a normal person who happened to stumble upon a random portal that opened up while you were strolling down the street and now you can’t get back.

  • Whatever the case, use the Far Traveler background from the SCAG as a way to tie the mechanics into it.

Monster Variant: Tide Master

Origin: Merrow


Lair Action:

On initiative count 20 (losing initiative ties), the Tide Master takes a lair action to cause the following

magical effect:

  • A strong current moves around the tide master at his will. Each creature within 60 feet of the tide master must succeed on a DC 14 Strength saving throw or be pushed up to 30 feet away from the tide master. On a success, the creature is pushed 10 feet away from the tide master. A creature that fails three saving throws suffers a level of exhaustion.


Use the lair action to keep enemies away, while using his harpoon to drag individuals into one on one combat vs his multiattack.

Encounter: Blind Faith

The encounter starts around a Medusa whose raising a blind baby she found in the woods.

Introduce a group of NPC Paladin that are trying to “rescue” the child.

The PCs approach the Paladins getting ready to behead the medusa while she begs and pleads with them to let her hold her child at least one last time. Screaming and yelling to make sure her child is taken care of.

To add to the drama, you can have a villager or two on the Medusa’s side, yelling that she protects the village and has never hurt a villager.

The Paladin’s 100% believe that she is a creature of evil...what do the PC’s do?

Magic Item: Bag of Scolding

Sentient Item

A bag of holding that tells you off every time you use it.

Think angry mother in law levels of complaining


“Take, take, take, all you ever do is take. You treat me like a slave, Hmmph, maybe you will appreciate me when I’m gone.”

“Why don’t you ever say thank you for holding your garbage eh?”

“Oh here we go, another item that will just sit inside my void, to be forgotten.”

Dungeon Master Tip:

Player-Designed Quests

You should allow and even encourage players to come up with their own quests that are tied to their individual goals or specific circumstances in the adventure.

Evaluate the proposed quest and build on that quest as an adventure.

Takes work some work off you.

Ties the game directly to a player's character - getting them really involved.

Player Tip: Don’t Be a Dick!

You can avoid dickatude by…

Joe Laurendeau

Talk your way out of it!

Even in the most obvious combat encounter, you can and should try to RP your way out of it.

Players often called Murder hobos cause the first thing they think of when approached with a challenge is...stab, burn, or crush it.

But, the game gives us many ways to overcome a combat encounter with a little bit of RP.

Persuasion, Bribery, Intimidate, Charm for example.

Druid chatting with worg mother to avoid combat

The good ol story of Luke charming my Orc hoard away....

If you have any feedback, unearthed tips and tricks, or topics you would like us to discuss, please send them to us. You can email them to us at critacademy@gmail.com or find us on Twitter and Facebook @critacademy.

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