Saturday 8 March 2014

Designing a setting: part 1 - Introduction

Greetings from my weekend detour to San Jose :D

As I'm doing some proofreading before breakfast, I've been pondering concepts around world and setting design for something I'm working on this week. I did have a bit of a think about this a while back, with specific reference to all the Kickstarters that were springing up at the time, in fact... Out of that came several desirables for a setting:

  • Conflict (without which you don't have a game)
  • Multiple factions (not necessarily, but...)
  • Fluff (to draw your reader in - 'immersion' if you like)
I'm going to add one more to this, and skim it briefly in this post before I dedicate a post to each one
  • Immediacy.
This is a topic I've covered before, in the one lone episode of my podcast (before Neil nabbed me), although in setting design it's a slightly different thing. Basically it's that core concept that makes you able to 'get stuck in' to a setting quickly, without having to do tons of prep work before you start. With it comes its counterpart and (often) opposite, flexibility: the less reading and prep work users of your ruleset and/or setting have to do, the more likely they are to pick it up.

So, with that in mind, I'm off to do some copy-editing, and then grab breakfast. Watch this space for the next part.


  1. I've done this more as a role-player than as a gamer, but one of the big things in persuading people to play in an RPG setting is "what are we doing". As it might be, "in this game, you're warriors and wizards who go down holes in the ground to kill monsters and take their treasure".

    In a wargame, of course, you fight. But why do you fight? I think that may be one answer to Immediacy: "we're fighting to preserve Britain from the Saxon invaders" or "we're fighting to take six inches of Belgian mud from the perfidious English".

  2. (For "gamer" read "wargamer" above.)

  3. I would add premise to the list and also development or evolution where factions can come and go, character can rise and fall and allows people to get involved and help push the storyline along. Way this is the way VBCW is moving.

  4. To add to what PK said, I would change that to 'open-ended'. What seems like a good idea when you start off, can change quite a bit by the time you actually get started. If you've closed off the premise or boundaries of the setting in the first place, a fair bit of effort is required to change it.


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