Sunday, March 30, 2014


No comments at all to that last post.  I could feel it was on the mark as I was writing it, but perhaps it just wasn't fair.  Rebuilding a kitchen is typically considered a less-than-ideal thing ... something we do because we are tired of the kitchen we have, or that it is so old it's not in keeping with our present income.  It isn't 'fun.'  And building a world ought to be, huh?

Building a world for me is more of a compulsion than fun.  I don't have any desire to stop; and even when I'm overloaded with work and I can't work on the world, I keep thinking of new angles and new possibilities that I'd like to add to an existing generator, or apply to things like the sage tables or the monsters' list.  When I get hung up on writing, or blocked as they say, I find myself going back to maps to get my head straight.

And it's work.  There's no way around it.  I'm literally feeling it in my shoulders and the tightening of my hands as I line up river after river, or shift things around in excel to make room for more calculations, more notes, more more more.

Maybe building a world isn't for everyone.  Maybe I'm preaching to a room full of people who don't see the sense of it.  Maybe the only reason why I'm still working on my world after all these years is because I'm crazy, and no sane person would do this.  Maybe there really isn't a need for a world, I've just convinced myself there ought to be because I can't stop.

Seems that a world just ... matters.  To the players, it's a home.  It's the place they keep their stuff.  I just can't envision a campaign without one.


JDJarvis said...

I consider world building fun. All the work I want to put in it is fun. I spend more time building the setting as opposed to building adventures. Adventure should flow from the setting, while discrete "adventure sites" can be fun they really don't mean much if they aren't tied to the rest of the world. I have to admit I'm always baffled by how many adventures are written that lead to one ignoring the adventure site after the adventure is over. The world should be more then a wrapper or serving platter for adventures it should be a means to find adventure.

Ozzie Pippenger said...

My impression was that the last post had no comments because it was a little too accurate. Building worlds without thinking them through and then deciding to restart is, without a doubt, my greatest flaw as a DM. The setting I am working on now is hopefully the last setting I will need for a long time, and I am carefully considering gameplay and long term campaign viability at every step of the way. My impression is that this is a very common and very serious problem that nobody feels like addressing. I think you're doing something worthwhile here.

Justin Kennedy said...

"Start, Then Stop Starting" hit the nail on the head about a subject that goes far beyond the gaming table. I have a brother, many friends, and endless acquaintances who suffer horribly from the inability to make do with what they have. Especially if what they have is lacking due to their own inadequacies. It is sad to see them needing a change in their life but lacking the awareness to implement it.

And yet here I am, claiming to be different from the endless starters but barely working on my world. Not because I am overly daunted by the design of such a thing. Not because I don't recognize it as a worthy project. It's the damn players, man.

The group I run (usually, as one of them is currently trying his hand at DM) lacks the background to approach a layered world in a believable fashion. Well, a believable fashion for 1st-3rd level characters. One PC (and they're good dudes, just poor sandbox citizens) decided to model his character after the fictional Panamon Creel of the Shannara books. This is fine, except that player wanted his characters missing hand to have been lost in an awesome sword battle. A first level rogue... in an awesome sword battle. It seems that if the players haven't taken the time to understand that human society is anything but direct, then a world such as the one you advocate is interpreted as having arbitrary or unknowable restrictions on the players character. This is especially troublesome with a group of 4-5 similar types because they all have a different view of how the world should work. To be clear, these guys are incredibly kind and respectful and so do not scream or whine to get their way. They simply lose interest, which may be even worse. I am currently running only two players in a completely stripped down rule set, no battle map, only three primary stats, etc. My goal is to remove the pillars they think d&d is held aloft by (individual combat, magic, monsters) and hope to see awe on their faces when they see the game not only still stands, but becomes even more addictive and immersive as the players identify with their character and not their to-hit bonus or some such.

Finally, Alexis, I would offer a saying I heard recently (one which is probably well known and only serves to expose my lack of worldliness): All progress is made by unreasonable men. While not completely true, the point it makes seems relevant here. I encourage you to continue tilting at windmills.

Scarbrow said...

Just read it. Mind, some of us don't read in the weekend, when we're busy doing things. I usually read at work, to make the most of the time they make me lose.

Other than that, remember that not receiving comments is usual for some of your most insightful posts, Alexis. One looks at them and says: "wow... I certainly cannot add anything intelligent to that. It's just true", takes a bookmark, and leaves it at that.

Jhandar said...

I concur with the commenters so far. Start, The Stop Starting details one of my personal gaming sins quite well. We have had private correspondence about my efforts to do just what you are speaking about, however I would be lying if I did not say that as I try and nail myself to one creation and plumb its depths that my mind is not racing with alternate ideas for every genre I can think of.

My solution has been to just keep an idea log and try and boil down these racing thoughts to their basest elements and catalogue them for potential events in the world I am working on. But new and shiny window dressing is quite alluring, but in a self-deprecating way; all shiny things are.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Sometimes, I just have to KNOW, Scarbrow. It's just weakness.