105 – Worldbuilding

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

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