Themes for Existing Worlds and adding a Zombie Apocalypse

Rounding off Core Themes for a World, we extract themes for the Warhammer World and Dark Sun and bring about a zombie apocalypse by adding a new theme to a world.

Core Themes of the Warhammer World

Because the world of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (WFRP) is an earth-clone at heart, the primary importance is distinguishing what is different about it.

This world is about...

  1. A Mirror of Earth: The geography is vaguely familiar, but Old World is built on former elf and dwarf empires and the New World controlled by lizardmen and dark elves.
  2. The Threat of Chaos: The pervading corruption of the Chaos Gods visible in the world through the beastmen of the forests, the chaos armies of the north and memories of the Wars against Chaos.
  3. The Enemy Within: Sinister secret cults dedicated to the Chaos Gods seek to bring down the civilisations of the Old World, and are often hidden in plain view as merchant guilds
  4. Magic is Dangerous. The magic of Man often goes wrong and corrupts those who use it, as it is channelling the raw power of chaos. Wizards are feared and unsanctioned magic-users are hunted down by witch-hunters
  5. Renaissance Technology. Gunpowder exists in the cannons of the dwarves and the duelling pistols of nobles, the middle classes are strong with guilds and wealthy merchants and new ideas are propagated in the university of Altdorf.
  6. Life is Grim. While other games may have elven rangers and half-orc barbarians, characters in warhammer are often ratcatchers, wizard´s apprentices, barber-surgeons and militiamen.

Core Themes of Dark Sun

The world of Athas in no way represents Earth, so the importance of the themes here is defining what makes it special.

We´re going to use 8 theme titles from the Intro to the Dark Sun Campaign Setting for D&D 5E

  1. The World is Desert: Most of the world is endless wastleand scorched by a relentless sun, with a few settlements clinging to a few oases or rare fertile area.
  2. The World is Savage: Life is short and hard, with slavery widespread and life outside the choked cities dangerous from savages and raiders.
  3. Metal is Scarce: Armour and weapons of metal are almost priceless, with most being made from bone, flint or other basic materials.
  4. Arcane Magic Defiles the World: Arcane magic ruined the world in ancient wars, and now wielders of such magic are reviled and hunted across Athas.
  5. Sorcerer-Kings Rule the City States: Mighty defilers from ancient times have ruled the cities for centuries, governing through brutal templars.
  6. The Gods are Silent: Nothing is known of the gods except broken shrines and temples, their silence filled by psionics and primal elemental powers.
  7. Fierce Monsters Roam the World: Regular animals have been replaced by far more dangerous beasts that fill those niches instead
  8. Familiar Races Aren´t What You Expect: DnD races exist differently. Halflings are xenophobic forest-cannibals and elves are nomadic thieves and herders.

Zombie Apocalypse in the Old World

Knowing the core themes of a world, we can make a memorable campaign by adding a new theme to it, meaning we can mix the familiar with something new.

  • Zombies Everywhere: The recently dead have risen as Zombies and add those they slay to their numbers. The End Times are here as civilisation collapses or already has.

This could be due to the chaos god Nurgle, the lord of undead Nagash or due to a ritual the PCs failed to stop.....

Either way we now have a defined campaign world where you can bring in the best from modern-day zombie apocalypse tropes but is easy to explain to others.

Just don´t overuse this by adding too many themes or you´ll end up with a confusing mess....

End of Themes

That's it for themes at the moment, let us know what awesome campaigns you´ve created by adding a theme to an existing world or setting.