Saturday, September 12, 2015

Cooperative Worldbuilding

Last night hit the local gaming store with my buddies from the Pirates of the Aegean campaign - Kintaro, Journey, and OrkbossJo. My group got in a game of Elder Signs, and then Vampire: Prince of the City. Wouldn’t recommend the first; love the second. Also, ran into Wargamer Fritz who was trying out the Spanish Civil War game with Prima Lucem. I didn’t quite pay attention to the mechanics of that one, but the setting is incredibly interesting. It took place in the 30s right before WWII, and really embodied the ambiguity of the times that we today so often miss, because our point of view of WWII is that of hindsight. At the end of the night, in preparation for Kintaro’s upcoming campaign, we tried out something interesting inspired from the Dresden Files RPG.

In that game, each of the players contributes to the building of a city where they’ll be adventuring. The process is for each player to come up with a Theme or Threat, an Aspect of that, and then a Face. Essentially, first you come up with an idea that represents a particular motif you’d like to deal with during play. After that you create the Aspect, which was very murkily described in the rulebook but seemed to be some sort of elaboration of the original idea. Then you make a Face, which is an NPC which represents the Theme or Threat.

For our use, we made it a little clearer and even more collaborative. So we come up with a turn order, which at the time was just the person to your left, and that person came up with a Theme or Threat. The next person added a Twist to that idea, so now it’s not entirely one player’s creation, and more than one player has a stake in that idea. Finally, the original player comes up with an NPC tied to that theme/threat.

Let me share how it’s going down in our group right now. Kintaro sent us a brief summary of the city called Avendale. It’s composed of four different districts, each surrounding a small lake with three of those lakes connected to a central one. Here’s what he shared:

Avenspring - The poorest of the communities can be found here. Conditions are slowly getting worse.

Permo's Pond - Rich/Gated Community. Lovely blue water.

Murkwater - Used to be poor, but now houses a growing middle class, a large dock/canal to the main river, a bustling business/market section. Becoming gentrified due to the druid.

Well of Piety - Religious center of the community - many pilgrims come here. Lots of temples and also the seat of the high cleric (religious leader of the community).

So, first session is coming up next weekend. I'm pretty much set for our first game, however, considering this world is a work in progress, I thought we could do some world crafting together. Last night at the LGS we practiced an idea that we borrowed from The Dresden Files rpg. Essentially the party works together to make points of interest in the city. It gives the players some input on the world without giving too much.

You create a point of interest or a specific topic. You pick a theme or threat to represent this. Two different example from last night. 1) A druid has been working on cleansing the Murkwater Spring (theme). 2) An ancient temple is lost at the bottom of the Well of Piety (threat).

A different player than creates a twist or a slight alteration related to the original topic. So for the first one, Journey decided that the druid who has been cleaning up the Murkwater is doing it for selfish reasons. B. Chaos decided that the underwater temple that has been lost for 1,000 of years is dedicated to a forgotten god. Now, the people who originally made the theme or threat are tasked with making an npc related to said theme or threat. When you make your npc, don't do the stats. Leave that to me. Just a brief concept.

Final product: A druid named Xerath Windspear arrived in Avendale roughly a decade ago. Since his arrival the Murkwater has slowly been cleansed as he leads a project to purify the once polluted spring. He is now something of a local celebrity. Now we have a story hook, but the players are still in the dark about some stuff. You guys have no idea what Xerath is actually motivated by.

So below I am making a list - make a theme, and the person after you will make a twist for your theme or threat. Try to keep it realistic and vague so there are still mysteries about the plot hooks. I reserve the right to change things, but will try to keep true to the original idea.

I’m pretty excited about getting to contribute to someone else’s world, especially one I get to play in. It’ll be my first full 5e campaign as a player!!!


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