Today we continue world building with what is possibly the most important part of a fantasy world – its natural resources (and who has them). As in our world, this question impacts every level of society. From basic resources like food and water to specifics like tin and copper to make steel, who owns these and where they come from will drastically change your fantasy world.
Simple resources like food or water may not be something that your party thinks about on an adventure to adventure basis. In my experience, the adventures’ pack has enough rations to last the whole game, provided you are able to eat and rest at the local tavern. For villages, and especially the large fantasy cities out there, food supply becomes much more important. In several of our homebrewed games, the capital cities are often compared to New York City. Imagine what would happen if NYC lost its food supply. Now you have a reason for your adventures to care about where their meals come from.
The same concept applies to water. This may be even more important since growing food requires water. A creative solution in our world is the Roman Aqueduct system, which has inspired a large canal project in one of our settings. In addition, sprinkling sources of other natural resources like iron, gold, diamonds, and other precious minerals throughout the world will help you decide who has these resources and what they do with them. See my last post on factions to see what to do with this.
Now of course, I am talking about this within the premise of a fantasy game. So there is no need to have all of this be boring and mundane. Perhaps your big city has a magical fountain in the center that supplies all the water you need. Perhaps your food is grown by a small circle of druids. Material resources like minerals and building supplies can be transmuted from the very dirt itself. Really, there are countless solutions, so let your mind go wild!
Once you have decided where these resources are and who has them, the next step is to determine how they get from one place to another. Trade produces exchange of both currency and ideas. It also creates adventure, since every party needs to stop bandits from stealing an ore shipment at least once!
What resources have your party found to be essential?