Author Topic: Players at wordbuilding  (Read 391 times)

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Offline Drul Morbok

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Players at wordbuilding
« on: March 31, 2018, 07:17:52 AM »
Unfortunately I plan a lot more than I actually play, so most of what I write here about ideas and settings still waits to be met by actual players. But here's a new idea I already found interested potential players for:

It seems to me that in many settings, players are expected to react rather than act: If the players do not step in, someone else will reach his goal (or sometimes not reach it), and this would be bad for the game world.
I want the players to be the initiators: If they do not step in, things will go on as they are, but they do have an ambition to change it.

Maybe an example would do best:
I might ask my friends "Hey, what about a campaign where the protagonists get access to an artefakt that gives total control over a race of shapeshifters created by said artefact?" (I guess the source of inspiration is obvious  ;))
One of them might say "Why, yeah. This sounds like a perfect tool for someone who wants to take over rulership in his kingdom, realm, whatever"
Another one might say "Yes, but maybe not take over rulership, just control the current rulership because we think ist is weak. We are loyal to our nation, including whatever current authority, but we dream of restoring former glory. Less petty struggles"
Than I might say "Well, in this case, I already thought of something called the War Vale. Wanna hear?"
[...http://www.khoras.net/Khoras/Civil/Nations/War%20Vale/Warvale.htm...]
The might say "yes, this would be a cool campaign: Using this artefact to somehow unite the War Vale. Not becoming rulers of it, more like a paramilitary secret service...never seen, but able to install a nation-wide legal system and military, getting people to get their identification from being citizens of War Vale and not of their duchies."
I might say "Wait, wait, the Rukemian Empire might get nervous about a unified military. Come to think of, it, they might prefer the current state and already be actively working on keeping it that way."
They might say "OK, in this case out goal is independence from Rukemenia"
I might say "Well, I can't promise success, but you DO have a powerful artefact, and it sounds like something that someone in the game world might try, and if we stretch the campaign over decades of ingame time, inserting time lapse periods,...and you know, even failure could make for an interesting story. Let's do it.
Oh, by the way, did I say that you DO have a powerful artefact? Well, that's not quite true. You DO have pretty certain indications of where to find it, but doing so would be the first part of the campaign.
So now let's talk about what group of characters might secretely come together to plan and conduct all of it."
[...]

And so on. In any case, much of was planned before could be changed sooner or later thereby deviating from Khoras canon. The fact that I used some Khoras names above is to (somehow) properly credit my source of inspiration, and because it comes with a lot of information I'd otherwise would have to first invent and than write in my post.
Ocean travel might seem too much, so I (or rather *we*) might do away with all geography, history and so on that comes from Khoras. A whole race of shapeshifters might be too much, so we might change it to an artefact that can create and keep alive a small number of shapeshifters at a time.

And of course the players might make different decisions in the first place. Maybe they want to use the artefact to incite a "savage" race to an uprising, centering the campaign around the Mandalar.

In any case, I'm looking forward to trying such a (at least for me) new approach, since my former approaches were more like first creating the world and the strory hook, an than presenting it to players who made their characters without knowing much about what awaited them.

Offline David Roomes

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Re: Players at wordbuilding
« Reply #1 on: April 01, 2018, 09:28:26 PM »
Sounds like you've got a good start on the story. Lots of political intrigue and power struggle between kingdoms. That's ripe for adventure.

Also, regarding players knowing the nature of the campaign before they roll up characters... it works both ways. I've had campaigns where the players knew something about the storyline and had the opportunity to make characters that would be particularly useful in that kind of adventure (rangers in wilderness hunts, thieves in all city campaigns, etc). But it's usually minor and subtle. Didn't seem to make a whole lot of difference. Then again, that might just be my players.

David M. Roomes
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Offline Drul Morbok

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Re: Players at wordbuilding
« Reply #2 on: April 02, 2018, 08:07:01 AM »
For what I mean, I just came up with the term "Schroedinger campaign" where the state of the game world is undefined until the players look at it.
But I do not mean improvising a campaign, making up things as we go. More like retroactive wordbuilding.
Let's call it applying Ockham's Razor to Khoras until a minimal game world remains, putting all other great Khoras ideas on a Schroedinger stack to get back at them as needed, but making no assumption about it until you need it.

If the players do not seem to like the idea of searching the artefact for too long, I might decide that is was build by a crazed loner who had the geniality to build it, but lacked any ambition or creativity to see its potential, so it spent its whole time in a chest in an unknown laboratory only a few days travel away from War Vale.
In this case, there would be no need that there ever was the Great War, so "suddenly" there never was one. At least not until it might come in handy at a different point....as long as there is no need to know whether the Great War ever happened, the question of whether it happened is in Schroedinger state. Same about Aggradar and Qeshir.

Since I'm a big fan of the Sarthak, I might take away Duthelm and replace it by the Trosolli Dominion. But this would be a surprise for my players. All they knew was that there was a huge area full of Goblyns whose raids used to be a constant borderland nuisance until they stopped a year ago. Nobody knows why. And as might have been guessed, the "why" is in Schroedinger state ;-)
The campaign might get really interested by an organized large-scale invasion by abominations from the Trosolli Dominion. Will the players take the chance for separation, knowing that Rukemenia would not want to fight a two-front-war - at the risk of dooming first Rukemenia and than War Vale to be invaded by an overwhelmingly powerful enemy, which would have been defeated by joint forces?
But maybe the players will come up with the idea of making Rukemenia invade the Goblyn wildland in the first place - in this case I might decide that there never were any Sarthak.

And so on...