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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 94 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
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Author Topic: Defining a game’s setting, how much is too little or too much?  (Read 10944 times)
Josh Roby
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« Reply #15 on: November 03, 2005, 12:05:30 PM »

MJ, what you're describing is both Setting and Situation.  That is, the world you describe is a single-use adventure as well as a general description of where it takes place.

I fully agree that a setting description must take into account the intended range of situations that the players will experience -- the example you give here has a 'range' of one series of situations.  That's not a bad thing; it sounds like that's what this document intends to do, and does it well.  In making a generalized Setting for multiple uses, the author needs to employ the same rigorous check on each detail -- "will the PCs ever go here?"  It's just that there will be many different things (situations) that they will be doing.  The range will be larger, but it will still be finite.
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Certified
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« Reply #16 on: November 06, 2005, 10:25:13 PM »

MJ

With the settings you provide for the different worlds do you give possible story ideas or other adventure seed notes? (I suppose this is a good question for all the designers out there. Thanks for reading though this.)
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Josh Roby
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« Reply #17 on: November 07, 2005, 09:57:36 AM »

Certified, when we did our writing for Tribe 8, we tried to make every segment (~500-1000 words) a potential situation (we called them 'plot seeds') for the players.  That means not only setting pieces and the story "fluff" but also the Aspects (magic powers) and even the rule texts.  The end result were books that described the magic system of the game or outlined a course of events in the metaplot, but also (and I think, more importantly) contained a hundred or more example situations.

I liked how that worked so much that I am applying it to Full Light, Full Steam -- the Setting portion of the book is entirely composed of situations.  I don't give a top-down view of, say, the colonies on Mars, but I write five short segments describing characters interacting with, adventuring in, and investigating those colonies.  I don't believe gamers really need text that says, "The French colony of Hellas has a population of 45% French, 20% Morrocans, and 25% Venerian workers; the primary exports are grain and darlingcress."  What they do need is text that demonstrates British sailors racing down a martian canal, pursuing Russian saboteurs who've stolen an Old Martian artifact for reasons unknown.  The purpose of a gamebook is not to describe a fictional world; the purpose of a gamebook is to describe a game to be played.
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Michael S. Miller
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« Reply #18 on: November 07, 2005, 12:12:17 PM »

Hi, Cert.

I struggled over similar questions (but coming from an anti-setting bias) in my The Components of Setting thread. You might find the discussion there, or in threads linked from it, to be helpful.
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Judd
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« Reply #19 on: November 07, 2005, 02:59:28 PM »

My reply to these questions would be games.

Sorcerer & Sword

Burning Wheel

The Shadow of Yesterday

Conspiracy of Shadows

and

Dogs in the Vineyard

Are all games that have something to say about setting or with just the right amount of setting or that marry setting and mechanics in really interesting ways.

For creating a setting as a group I'd like at the World Burning in the Burning Wheel download, Burning Sands: Jihad and Primetime Adventures.

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M. J. Young
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« Reply #20 on: November 10, 2005, 06:06:28 PM »

MJ

With the settings you provide for the different worlds do you give possible story ideas or other adventure seed notes?
Ah, called on the carpet again.

It depends entirely on whether the world needs them. Let me toss out a few examples.

NagaWorld is a place to explore. There are many strange places and things, some of which are "in your face from many miles away", almost demanding your attention (a glass city rising from the plane seventy miles from where you are, for example). Many things are deadly dangerous, and have to be approached with caution. There are also people in this world, as well as intelligent creatures who are not people, and it is possible for interaction with others to take many different directions. None of those possibilities are suggested; the world and its denizens are described, and the rest is left in the hands of the players.

Bah Ke'gehn is a similarly large and alien world. However, it has a sameness to it--no matter where you go, there you are. The different people are all so different from humans that to humans they seem terribly similar (although there are different types that are different from each other). A lot of what is expected to happen revolves around whether and how the player characters choose to interact with the very alien indigs, or with the other non-player character humans who are similarly not from here. However, there are two or three potential "this could happen" scenarios provided in order to give referees options for stirring the pot.

Orc Rising does not take many pages to explain. It's a post-fantasy world, in which elves, dwarfs, and men are losing any knowledge of magic and replacing it with the rise of primitive technologies, agriculture, husbandry, metalurgy, and the like. There is one feature of the world that sticks out quickly, and that is that these "free peoples" have been capturing and enslaving the jungle-dwelling orcs. They justify this with the claim that they are civilizing these subhuman primitives by introducing them to civil society, and that the orcs would not be able to survive in this modern world without the structure of slavery to keep them alive and productive. They probably actually do it because the orcs are trouble, fighting to keep the others from cutting down the unclaimed jungles to increase their own lands. Besides, having orc slaves makes everyone else's jobs easier. I drop the player character into this world and let him explore. I expect that he is going to react, and that he is going to try to do something. I don't actually care what that is, or whether he does anything at all. One player bought one slave, and set the slave free and became his friend. That gesture was as much as he believed he could do. One player argued with people periodically that they might be wrong about orcs and about slavery, but in the main she was more interested in learning about the elves and didn't bother with the orcs much at all. One player marched into the jungle, befriended several orc tribes, built a city, and began to create a great orc empire to stand against the invasions of the free peoples. I don't need to tell the players how to engage the premise in that world. They will do it, because it's in their face, and they have to fix it.

Does this help?

--M. J. Young
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