Lore and history are important aspects of most campaigns, even if it’s just background information that gives more context to current events. Much of this D&D lore is often explained through the history of the sapient (and playable) species of the world. And seeing how they interact with each other is what gives depth to the world’s history, which is very important for your players to understand! This will let them come up with better characters and backstories. So, how can you present this information to them? Here are some tips to make use of World Anvil’s Chronicles feature to build a vibrant and rich culture around your setting’s races!
1. Use one timeline per species
Chronicles is a tool that lets you link timelines and maps together seamlessly so you can see when and where everything happens! Each chronicle can have multiple timelines, so go ahead and create one for each DnD race or culture you want to write about (click the green plus button at the bottom right corner of the map area). This will let you be as detailed as you want with your history without having a timeline that’s so confusing no one knows what’s going on!
If creating one timeline for each species seems daunting, don’t worry—you don’t have to! Look at your world and consider which are the most influential ones for your campaign. And I’m not talking about playable races, but about the actual influence on the campaign’s events. You’ll probably be able to get that number down to four, or even less! You can then lump all remaining races into a single timeline.
2. Use lanes for different kinds of events in your D&D lore
As you can see in the screenshot above, each timeline has four lanes. That is, four rows where you can place events in parallel! This is a great way to show events that happen at the same time without overwhelming your players with information. To create an event in a specific lane, simply right-click on the lane you want to add it! You can also change the lane and date of an event by editing it using the pencil icon you’ll see when you click on it.
To organize your events, think about which four groups you can use to classify the events of a specific D&D race. For example, one lane could be for battles, another one for political events, another one for cultural or religious events, and the last one for “other” events. If your campaign tackles a specific genre (such as intrigue), you might want to fine-tune this structure to highlight the events that really matter for the campaign’s tone and themes.
Finally, use colors! When creating or editing an event, you can select its color in the “Display” tab—you have some pre-defined colors at your disposal, but you also can choose any color at all! I recommend using a single color for each lane so you can identify them more easily, but you could also use colors for an alternative organization method if you want to!
3. Show conflicting histories and interpretations
How do you deal with events that are relevant to multiple D&D races? Well, just put them in all timelines—but from that culture’s perspective. If a volcano erupted, maybe a human city was destroyed (so it will be catastrophic), but the fire genasi will see it as a good omen. Similarly, a battle between two warring factions will be seen as an absolute victory or a total disaster depending on who you ask.
In the chronicle above, you can see that the top lanes (light blue and yellow) are very similar. Even though you don’t know what those events are, you can very quickly see that they are somehow related! And this adds so much depth to your setting because it’s how history works in our real world too.
If you want to learn more about how to use Chronicles in your world, check out this tutorial:
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