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On Personal Preference and Campaign Settings

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Chaot

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I have somewhat recently come to the conclusion that what I want out of a campaign setting is broad strokes; sweeping action and color to inspire but little set canon to tie one down. This may well be why I’m drawn to running games in the Young Kingdoms. Moorcock had a lovely way of hinting at a world, creating a pacing that is ridiculously fast while giving room for the imagination of the reader to fill in any gaps in the narrative.

But my impetus toward these loosely defined worlds comes not from any austere aesthetic I might posses. Rather, it stems from an odd mixture of necessity. Frankly, I’m not going to be able to keep a gazetteers’ worth of information in this poor squishy grey matter I use for processing. So I’m left with optimizing the information that I do ‘know’ and allowing details to develop as needed (and sometimes forgotten just as quickly). Fortunately, this ties directly into the roleplaying medium as a shared experience. I find it’s much easier in a group to start with a general idea and a few specifics and build from there so that the GM and Players build a shared experience in some unholy sort of interdividualistic utopia. Then we all get ice cream and puppies, or something.

You know what I mean. It’s that weird, disorganized fun thing with the numbers and the dice and the retelling of stories. On the good days hours fly by without notice and on the bad days it’s like sitting through a conference call on the socio-economics of gang herding tundra elves.

I know none of what I’m writing here is ground breaking thought. Hell, there are games out there that tie group world creation into their mechanics. I write it though because it jumped out at me when I was doodling a map for a possible upcoming game. It was on my mind when I ran a recent session of an ongoing game. Hell, sometimes it’s just good to write this stuff out.

It also acts as an opening post and a nice bridge to my next possible post which might be about tying The Green and Tarsa together in a Freeport game.

I’m also thinking about ruminating on all those bastards that took the good fantasy names already or the wonderment I feel every time players enthusiastically come back to my table.

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I understand where Chaot is coming from. Sure you can write a setting yourself, but that also takes quite a bit of grey matter storage and time. The advantage of a published setting which is internally consistent is that the GM can have some clue if players say "What's over there?" while pointing to some obscure bit of the map.

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I understand where Chaot is coming from. Sure you can write a setting yourself, but that also takes quite a bit of grey matter storage and time..

And has the advantage of keeping canon to a minimum if you so desire.

The advantage of a published setting which is internally consistent is that the GM can have some clue if players say "What's over there?" while pointing to some obscure bit of the map.

If you've drawn a map of your invented world then you can answer the question "What's over there?" with

"Shathen's Keep, where the Homunculus Plague that decimated the Third Empire originated", because you've sat down and written a brief but interesting history beforehand.

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