Here’s a flowchart I made for making the simmering religious conflict that Gary talks about in T1: The Village of Hommlet come alive. And, by “alive,” I mean “escalate until one side is dead.”
You can think of this like an encounter that happens every time the players return from adventure; or you can think of it like a Front from Apocalypse World.
The point of using this procedure is to make the game world more compelling. It is independent of the players. They can choose to ignore the conflict as they wish; you, as the DM, will ensure they witness what’s going on by having these events occur in their presence.
If the players intervene, you may have to modify the events. Many or most might not happen, or different NPCs may need to be involved (say, if the players kill Jaroo, Calmert, or Terjon).
Similarly, you could use this for any generic religious conflict, not just for the one Uncle Gary gave us. Something happens, and one side esca-retaliates, and then the otherside does the same until there’s nothing like to retaliate on. That is, unless the players intervene and change the course of fictional history-in-the-making.
Daniel provides a framework for creating (or enhancing) a world for your game. These techniques will help you create a world that’s engineered for actual play, not infodumps, in which the players will be more successful the more they invest in your world.
You incentivize your players to care about your lore by making knowledge of it a key to success in your game. As players know more about the lore of your world, they can play more effectively.
Here are my notes for this episode. They’re elaborated upon in the audio; but, afterward, you might find them useful.
Most worldbuilding advice is terrible:
- It’s too general
- It’s not suited to games
- It’s not suited to old school games in particular
Why do we care about worldbuilding?
- We want to feel immersed
- We want to feel that things are connected
- We want to feel like the ref has coherent basis for rulings and content creation
There are two problems:
- How to make the stuff up
- How to present the stuff
Here’s how to make the stuff up:
First, your prep:
- Bathe in images, get an idea for the feel you’re after
- Write down a list of images and objects
- This is your seed content
Then the model: The Bible and the Soulsborne games:
- There’s a big problem with the world
- Bible: death
- Bloodborne: beasts are roaming the streets
- Dark Souls: the fire is fading
- Someone tried to fix it and instead messed everything up
- Other people came later, tried to fix it in other ways, or embraced the problem
- In every case, these are distinct personalities, who created distinct events, and they left evidence of themselves and their works: symbols, religions, cities, idioms, buildings, languages, weapons, armor, items
- These things should be visible
- Personalities should have a few identifiable attributes: this king is always holding an orb in his left hand and a spear in his right
- Depending on your level of nihilism, there may be a way to ultimately fix the big problem.
- What is it?
- Who is going to do it?
- What are the prophecies concerned?
- What about the false messiahs and false prophecies?
- Remember: everything leaves evidence.
Now, how to present this information:
- Look at the Soulsborne games for guidance
- Factions that adhere to previous or prophesied philosophies
- Parts of the world that exist in their current state due to previous epic events
- Puzzles that require you to know some evidence of the lore
- Monsters that resulted from failed salvations
- Treasures and artifacts that are themselves evidences or the property of famous actors in your lore
Make a Search Check
g+: gg no re
Daniel explains what a pathcrawl is, how to run one, why you might want to run one, and how they’ve worked out in his campaign.
Example Pathcrawl: Thomas Pit Woods
Here’s the actual document Daniel has used in the Alabamia campaign. Good luck trying to decipher the runes here. It’s annotated, but, for convenience:
- Normal lines are roads
- Squiggly lines are trails or game paths
- Waves are sound paths
- Dotted lines are sight paths
working example of a pathcrawl from Alabamia
And the link to the original blogpost is here.
Make a Search Check
g+: gg no re