This is for Tom. Perhaps a brief explanation of my emerging Swords & Wizardry campaign will be of some use to him.
First, I drew a map. I didn’t “construct” anything. The most care I took was that there were at least a few crazy or evocative features, such as the Thirsty Maw and the Purple Obelisk.
I decided the starting location would be in Barton, a totally random town name. I began to wonder what kind of a “town” it was. It thus became “Bard Town.” I won’t weary you with too much world building, but, in short, it became a center for the arts with the Bard as its primary deity.
For the first session, the PCs were confronted with two overt adventure possibilities. It sounds like you have your beginning covered, but you’ll see that the beginning pattern is used again later in campaign development, only in a larger scale.
My PCs are mostly all Level 4 now. They got there by resurrecting the Bard in time for an invasion by “Monogodites.” I began to realize that my players and myself are sick of the sights in Barton, so the PCs need a reason to leave. These invading Monogodites might burn Barton to the water (though the PCs hope to stop this), possibly making a change easier.
I’ve begun to prepare whatever the next stage will be. Brett said to use PC backstories, and this is what I’ve begun. Most notably, Brother Stone, our Monk, who wears a fragment of the Purple Obelisk around his neck, suddenly has become aware that the shard is glowing and emitting a high, soft whistle. He has decided to travel to the Purple Obelisk for answers.
If I need other enticements for the PCs, I have two more bits of “news” ready for two of them. Brother Sanguine, head of PC Johan’s Druid Order, has started murdering the heads of other Orders. “There can be only one.” Johan is from the Red Hills.
Roly the PC Kender will learn that a “ruler” in Kenderhome has embraced the Monogodite religion and is removing the fingers of thieves.
A lot of this has emerged by instinct, but if I’m looking for a structure to this, here’s what I see.
Draw a map. Make it big, but don’t worry about detailing it.
Start small. Provide two or three adventure seeds with small or medium-sized dungeons at the end of each or all of them. Watch what the PCs do.
Share the world map with the players. Allow them to choose locations as their homelands (if they wish) and ideally add features or qualities to them. These will be leveraged for personal PC quests and adventures later on.
Try to be aware of when the players, PCs or Referee have outgrown a location. I recently found myself shortening and skipping parts of my latest dungeon. My players started talking about exploring the world.
Then give the PCs two or three personal reasons to leave.