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46709 Posts in 5588 Topics by 13299 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 46 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: Developing a Game Setting  (Read 2063 times)

Posts: 2

« on: April 08, 2011, 04:44:01 PM »

I've been developing a setting and system for some time and would like to get feedback from those interested in doing so. The link I've provided is to my recent blog I've started to chronicle my progress, ideas, vision and themes. I have focused mostly on setting so far and have a basic mechanic I've worked on but frankly for me setting is far more interesting to me than mechanics, which I find to be the least interesting part of any game. I plan to post more information but I want to first get feedback on the basic concepts.




Posts: 280

« Reply #1 on: April 10, 2011, 07:50:15 AM »

Hi pjtanton,

Social warfare is definitely under utilized, but it's not completely absent.  A few games immediately come to mind as being really neat in that regard, and you may want to check a few of them out for ideas:

- 1001 Nights- you play servants in a Sultan's Court, and you're using stories to socially jab at each other and attempt to achieve your ambitions without angering the Sultan and being beheaded.
- Shab Al Hiri Roach- the players are faculty at a college in the 20's - each socially vying against each other for status - when a Lovecraftian roach-god-thing from Babylon begins possessing them and putting them into power mad states.
- Houses of the Blooded- nobles in a fantasy world built on scheming and revenge. Think Sicilian Blood Opera.
- Fulminata - Alt history Roman Empire - the game is well designed to set up anything from gladiators to politicians.  Social status affects everything, including initiative in combat.
- Burning Wheel- Tolkien-esque fantasy game, with a powerful social mechanic called "Duel of Wits" which makes debate just as in-depth as combat.

I saw you posted this on the blog:

Rule simplicity = Restriction in choice = possible player alienation
Rule complexity = Increased options = possible player alienation
Where is the happy medium? Is there one?

Two thoughts:

1.  Don't worry about player alienation.  I mean, some of the best selling games are fricking niche as you can get ("This is a game about Mormon Gunslingers", "Um what?").   Make the game you want to make, assuming there's some number of people who want to play that too.   If you're worried about "making the most sales" and such, you will end up crippling your vision and watering out whatever might make your game actually awesome.

2.  Complexity isn't the only way to options.   There's plenty of simple rules that leave lots of options in action.   The "player alienation" is actually whether the players are into complex or simple rules, so make the rules you want to make and assume that's your crowd you'll be working with.

All that aside, tell us what kind of help you're looking for?


Posts: 2

« Reply #2 on: April 10, 2011, 05:16:49 PM »

Thanks for the response Chris,

Right now I'm looking for feedback on my setting concept however I will be posting more on various aspects of the game, including the rule mechanics and specific rules tied to social warfare. Many of these rules are written and sitting with a good friend of mine who's a copy editor and helping me clean them up a bit grammatically and otherwise before I post them on my blog for people to review.

I do appreciate you mentioning the games. Mining games for ideas and different ways to approach social warfare is helpful. I am quite familiar with Houses of the Blooded and the Burning Wheel books, both are great games and I own copies of these. The other three you mentioned 1001 Nights, Shab Al Hiri Roach and Fulminata are not known to me and I shall set myself to acquiring them for review and possible play. This is actually helpful, more suggestions like this are welcome.

As for my worries about rule complexities I completely agree. I need to keep my focus on what I want to create. This truly is a labor of love for me, I have no expectation or hopes that this will be any kind of a money making venture. In fact it's likely when I'm done I won't charge anything for it, I am after all an amateur and this my first attempt at create an RPG. We all start somewhere and already I've learned a great deal in the process. I need to let myself enjoy the freedom to create. 

Thank you,


Posts: 2984

« Reply #3 on: April 10, 2011, 10:44:09 PM »

Well, I certainly like your direction of travel and approve of your ambitions.  But your blog doesn't actually seem to contain much to work with.

Realisitically, not many people are likely to read setting details of hundreds of pages, and also realistically, anyone who has written that much is more likely to respond to criticisms, real or perceived, defensively.  Actual rules are something with which we are more likely to be able to assist, but they aren't visible either.  So your first step should be to make some sort of rules document available, whatever it is that you have. Note that as per the sticky, that is a requirement in this forum for further discussion.


"He who loves practice without theory is like the sailor who boards ship without a rudder and compass and never knows where he may cast."
- Leonardo da Vinci
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