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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 168 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: Setting focus  (Read 3021 times)
Posts: 1155

designer of Dirty Secrets

« on: August 06, 2002, 11:25:30 AM »

I happened to be perusing the review of The Riddle of Steel in the review database when I came across this sentence.

"I think it would have worked better for the setting to have remained smaller, mainly Poland and its neighbors including Italy, and to have signs saying "the orient is that way" pointing off the map. Part of my reasoning comes from my perception that the Polish, German, Hungarian, and Italian elements of the setting are superb and fascinating, whereas most of the rest (the England-equivalent, the Japan-equivalent, etc) has a sketchy and Hollywood feel to it."

This got me to thinking about Alyria.  On the one hand I have quite a number of setting details in Alyria.  On the other hand, I know that I have tended to see the Citadel (and the Web by implication) as the center of the world with other setting elements being largely defined by their relationship to the Citadel.  My wife has also noted this and has asked me if I intend to keep the Citadel at the center of the world.

Originally I had planned on spreading out the focus of the game, but now I'm not sure.  There could be some advantage to having a central location.  First, since the Citadel is the culture most similar to modern Western society, keeping it as the focus of the game could provide an easier entry into the game, as opposed to introducing newbie players via the Ark or some other more alien society.  Second, it could be easier to define the other cultures by how they are different from the baseline culture, thus making the differences immediate and obvious.

On the other hand, making this change will also set certain defaults about the game.  For instance, stories will tend to default to the Citadel and environs.  A story set in the Ark with only Arkites will feel a little off, similar to playing all non-sorcerers in Sorcerer or humans in Orkworld.  In other words, it could be done, but it would feel at odds to the nature of the game.  This could be bad.  This could be good.  I am, as yet, undecided.

Any thoughts?

Seth Ben-Ezra
Great Wolf

[edited to fix formatting issues]

Seth Ben-Ezra
Dark Omen Games
producing Legends of Alyria, Dirty Secrets, A Flower for Mara
coming soon: Showdown

Posts: 1183

« Reply #1 on: August 06, 2002, 12:52:18 PM »

I think focusing on the Citadel is a good idea, while keeping in the notes about the other places, so GMs can focus on that if they want to. It's enough to swallow the storymap for most roleplayers, let alone that and a ton of extra background detail.

(And I still think some sample maps would be cool.)

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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters

Posts: 10459

« Reply #2 on: August 14, 2002, 06:01:35 AM »

What I think would work best for this is a semi-focus, if you will. Put the Citadel in as an example place, essentially. Such that players will get the idea that they can use it if they want, but still have the feeling that it's OK for them to put in their own places. In fact, what would really be cool is to show the citadel as if it were just one place that had been created for a run. Gve an idea of what it takes to make a good setting for Alyria play. Then people can emulate this in their own play.

I see this as paralleling the Story Map. Write up a section on how to detail the areas importnat to the story. Make it a required part of normal play.

Then, in addition, have another example (the Ark would work), which represents a locale made in play. This should also be a normal part of play. Even if people stay in the citadel, they should be making new locations as they go. Make this a rigorous thing. Make players required to have a name for the place, a mood for the place that relates to one of Alyria's many moods, a cultural note about the place, and then a history snippet. The last two can just be one sentence, if the player wants, or longer as they see fit. But just enough to cement the locale onto the map for play. These sorts of requirements spur creativity, and make the game that much more rich.

Anyhow, if you present these setting elements as cool examples, rather than as cannonical places, people will bnetter get the hang of the fact that they are building the world through play. I think. Anyone else think this would work?


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Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Posts: 16490

« Reply #3 on: August 14, 2002, 06:37:32 AM »

Hi Mike,

I think it's the only way Alyria can work. It's also the way most settings are built in functional role-playing, in practice. Hell, Glorantha still works this way, which few people appreciate.

The only RPG text which lays it out as a procedure, to my knowledge, is Sorcerer & Sword.

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