How to make your mountains breathe
By Davie Wong, Sports Editor
We often hear the saying, “Don’t make a mountain out of a molehill.” But why? Well as the Game Master, you can! In all seriousness, mountains are wonderful things to add to any world.
The first thing you should figure out is how prevalent are they in your world. A neat lore aspect might be to describe the creation of mountains in your world, at least to yourself—the players can figure that out on their own. Did the primordial gods of Land and Sea clash to create great peaks where they came to blows? Or perhaps the mountains are the spine of a great world-eater laid to rest by the Gods themselves?
If you want to take it a step further, you could tie the creation of mountains to the origin of races. Perhaps the God of Dwarves created the Dwarves but found that the surface of the planet was too hostile for his creations. So he moulded the dirt and hardened it so his creations could live below, protected from those above.
Once you figure out the creation of mountains, you get to dictate location. Where are these mountains? Figuring out where to place your mountain ranges can be tricky. But there’s really no rule of thumb for them so you can’t go wrong there. Generally, mountains are grouped together, but if you want to have a lone mountain with its own story, that could be something for your players to investigate.
The wonderful thing about mountains is that they’re big. In fact, they’re huge. The size works in the favour of Game Masters. If you’re running a one-shot, a mountain can be a focal point. If you’re running a campaign, mountains serve as a diverse setting. Which leads me to the next point—its inhabitants!
This is where you can get a bit picky with your mountain ranges. Perhaps some mountains belong to the Dwarves, but others belong to a race of giant birds of prey, or other insidious creatures with scales and wings. There are plenty of creatures that could inhabit mountains, and as a game master, you get to decide what those creatures are.
A twist that could be interesting is if the mountains themselves were the creatures. Sentient mountains aren’t all that uncommon in the fantasy genre, but it can still be surprising enough if set up correctly. Perhaps they are representatives of a god? Or maybe the life blood of a primordial seeped into the stone of the mountains granting it life?
Another nitty gritty detail is why the party is there in the first place. Are the mountains just an obstacle the party needs pass through, or is their objective in the mountain? If so, how do they gain access to the mountains?
Mountains are really wonderful things. Just because they don’t move, doesn’t mean they can’t be interactive—and who says they can’t move, anyway?