Monday, October 07, 2013

30 Days of GameMastering--Day 6!

You know the drill by now:  today's day 6 of Lindevi's challenge.  Let's do it!

Worldbuilding--what's your process?
Truth be told, when I sit down to game, I very rarely worry about world-building.  I'm not the sort of GM who tends to create a massive world on my own, instead focusing on specific regions or cities where the action itself takes place.  However, even in doing that much, I do have a few tricks up my sleeve.

Remember:  One Unique Thing!
Firstly, I always try to have some "schtick" to any given area.  That might be an overt theme--"This planet is steampunk-ish, with lots of clockwork automatons clattering up and down the buildings"--or something as simply as an undercurrent with NPCs.  Pelgrane Press' 3e/4e hybrid 13th Age did something similar with their character generation process, calling it One Unique Thing.  Essentially, every character has some unique element about them, which makes them a unique entity in the world, separating them from the rest of humanity.  If you give a region or a city its own One Unique Thing, it'll automatically provide adventure hooks and ideas for enterprising players.

Also, work in threes, especially in terms of factions.  When writing Cold Steel Wardens, I deliberately included trios in almost every aspect of the world.  There are three primary crime families--the Genoveses, the White Russians, and the Warren Group.  There are three major conflicting gangs--the Numbers, the Rebel Yell, and the Rojo Bastardes.  See where I'm going with this?  It's easy to imply conflict between two rival organizations, but when you introduce a third faction, that faction becomes a wild card.  The more wild cards in your setting, the more conflict (and drama) you can introduce!

Lastly, remember that your NPCs do not exist in a vacuum.  Even when the PCs are elsewhere, the NPCs don't just stand around, vacant-eyed.  Rather, they have their own motives, their own actions, and their own contacts.  The key to making a world feel dynamic is to have those NPCs change the world just as much--okay, maybe not quite as much--as the PCs themselves.  When those NPCs start pursuing their goals while the PCs are absent, the game changes for the better.

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