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xBlackWolfx
2013-01-09, 05:37 AM
I bought the book The World of The Dark Crystal, because I noticed that the world in the movie is quite distinct, yet it still is obviously a fantasy setting. I wanted more information on the world the movie takes place in, so I got the book. It just came in the mail, and I'm quite astonished at the imagination in it.

But I can't do the same, the best I can do is an extremely lame rip-off of the dark crystal, either that or a cliche DnD-like setting (which for the most part is interesting, but I've grown less interested in it bc of how dystopian it is, and besides that its starting to get a bit too complicated with dozens of distinct intelligent races, and hundreds of gods).

I've also had some interest in mechanical dream for the past few years, but I haven't been able to learn much about it since I can't buy the books (I have no interest in buying expensive books for a game that I'll never play), and besides that I'm not sure if there is even an English translation or not. But from what I've managed to glean from the few descriptions I can find on the world and its inhabitants, though different, its not really unique. Its essentially DnD with bizarre alien races in place of elves and dwarves and humans and whatnot, with very bizarre classes that are hard to make sense of. The world itself doesn't offer anything really unique as far as experiences go, it just has different aesthetics. Note that I don't own the books, so I may be wrong on that.

I'd love to create a distinct fantasy world for an rpg, but I just can't fathom how to create something truly unique. I'm in awe at how imaginitive the dark crystal is, and the fact that it clearly doesn't take influence from DnD. But I just can't fathom how this could be done. The closest anyone seems to be able to do is to use the standard fantasy races and do something wierd with them, like steam-punk elves or metropolitan goblins, hunter-gatherer dwarves and stuff like that. I don't see how that's an improvement, who cares if the giant city was built by goblins or ogres or elves or what? You still have a giant city, the only difference may be aesthetics, which clearly don't matter much in a tabletop game, it only affects the artwork in the books.

How is it possible to create something truly different? I just don't know...

Yora
2013-01-09, 09:00 AM
Nobody ever creates something entirely unique. Variation and individuality comes mostly from new combinations of existing concepts.
I think the most important thing when creating any kind of setting is to come up with a relatively clearly defined theme first. If your theme is "a medieval world with elves, dwarves, and orcs", then it will be a lot like any other world with that theme, regardless of how creative you get. If you want the world to be distinctive, you need a theme that hasn't been done a lot before.

the_david
2013-01-09, 12:12 PM
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TheSevenBasicPlots

Don't be original, it's all been done anyway.

You could try to start with a story instead, and go from there. Just keep filling in the blancs with whatever suits you. If you don't like dwarves and elves you can make up other races that capture the feeling your story needs.

If you'd prefer a sandbox, you might want to ask your players. They'll tell you what they'd like to play, and you could drop it into any setting.

Ninjadeadbeard
2013-01-09, 08:55 PM
Personally, since you want to make a system for an rpg, I believe you should start with the rpg. It's difficult to make an un-D&D setting if you're shackled to that ruleset. A better way would be to define what players should be capable of doing in your setting, and then pick a system that encourages and rewards that. Then you can look at specifics of the setting.

Grinner
2013-01-09, 09:12 PM
If you want to make something unique, not just a variation or recombination of existing ideas, then you need to start from scratch. I think the problem here is that everything we do tends to follow the pattern of our own cognitions:


Observe
Analyze
Plan
Act


So, if you want to make something original, then by this logic, you would need to define a new way of thinking and ways of enacting those thoughts. Basically, you want to write the Cthulhu Mythos from Cthulhu's perspective.

Thinker
2013-01-10, 02:48 PM
Here are some pretty easy steps for coming up with a unique setting.

Decide on how close to the real world you want your game to be with regards to realism and actual physical setting.
Create a set of themes that you don't see together very often.
Compose a short narrative that connects your themes in some way.
Fill in some background information for locations that will be relevant for your game.

As an example:

I want to use the real Earth, but I want there to be magic in the world that is not yet (or might never be) understood by science. The 19th Century was a pretty exciting time for exploration and discovery (at least it was from the Western perspective) so I will set it there.
Since I'm bothering to have magic, I might as well make it relevant so I'll go with voodoo. I'd like to have a couple of other themes so some that work with the 19th Century could be the ideas of Hollow Earth and the Riddle of the Sphinx.
Since this is just an example, my narrative will be even shorter than normal. Miners in Kenya have uncovered a mine shaft that they didn't put there. Local experts suggest that the shaft is ancient. Then, workers begin disappearing and rumors begin circulating that something ancient escaped from the mines. Two weeks pass and no one has heard from the mining camp since. The Royal Expedition Bureau has charged the PCs with investigating the fate of the mine and the cause of the disappearances.
My background details would only include a more specific year, some suggested origin countries for the PCs, and some stats for available equipment.


I hope this helps.

akma
2013-01-11, 02:23 AM
I'd love to create a distinct fantasy world for an rpg, but I just can't fathom how to create something truly unique.


Here is an option: look at diffrent settings in this forum, and make a list of what makes them not unique. I think that would help you.

Also, what makes the dark crystal so original?



The closest anyone seems to be able to do is to use the standard fantasy races and do something wierd with them


While most people in this forum seem to do this (or worst, standard world with low magic), there are some who are more original, and even some who make unique settings. Even in those "unoriginal" settings, there is the occasional gem.



You still have a giant city, the only difference may be aesthetics, which clearly don't matter much in a tabletop game, it only affects the artwork in the books.

I disagree.
Unless you don`t do many descriptions.

A giant city ruled by rodents would have a diffrent feel then one ruled by elves. I would describe the first with sewage flowing in the streets, and the second as being on treetops. Even mechanically it would be diffrent: fighting while in knee deep sewage (if you lose consciousness you start to drown, you move slower) would be diffrent then fighting on treetops (you might fall off an edge, enemies might try to push you there).

xBlackWolfx
2013-01-17, 02:19 AM
Also, what makes the dark crystal so original?





Tell me one setting you know of that bears any resemblence at all to the world of the dark crystal. I don't know of one. I particularly like the wierd flora and fauna of the world, it gives a sense that it takes place in a world that is very different from our own, yet it still feels like a fantasy setting (despite the fact that a lot of the plant life looks like it belongs in star wars).

hiryuu
2013-01-17, 02:39 AM
(despite the fact that a lot of the plant life looks like it belongs in star wars).

Which is, in fact, a fantasy setting with a nice coat of paint and some duct tape on it.

Honestly, there are a lot of really distinct, potentially interesting fantasy settings out there if you ditch the whole "sci fi and fantasy as different animals" meme. As an example, Eternia would be a freakin' awesome place to play a game in. So would Third Earth, honestly. The 90s Land of the Lost? Psychic dinosaurs and time wizards.
_____________

The really unique settings are just combinations of elements that haven't been combined before. It's unlikely you'll create a new one. Actually, this is a great way to introduce my favorite setting brainstorming game. Go to tvtropes.com (actual link redacted because I have respect for my fellow playgrounders) and click "random" five times. Take the results it spits out and try to combine those into a setting.

For my example, I got...

Astral Projection
Poke You in the Third Eye
Power Born of Madness
Psychotic Smirk
Global Currency

...Wow. This game is easy. For added difficulty, I guess, just add more?

Lemme click five more.

Evil Overlord
Frazetta Man
Constructed World
Actor Role Confusion
Cool Key

WELL. PFRBGLBT. T_T

Anyway, it seems like Kingdom Hearts: The Psychic Pulp Adventures in Persona Ringworld is going to get started here soon.

...see what I mean? Easy. And it sounds awesome.

xBlackWolfx
2013-01-17, 02:43 AM
Anyway, it seems like Kingdom Hearts: The Psychic Pulp Adventures in Persona Ringworld is going to get started here soon.



Uhhh....you mean the video game series that is a cross-over between disney and final fantasy?

hiryuu
2013-01-17, 02:46 AM
Uhhh....you mean the video game series that is a cross-over between disney and final fantasy?

Yes, but this one has a subtitle and isn't about Disney movies/FF games, it's about going to the Frank Frazetta inspired post apocalyptic landscape inside your own mind to battle your personal fears so that you can acquire magical currency used to purchase spell effects. So you can battle the evil dark king.

Mapleson
2013-01-18, 10:25 AM
What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun. - Ecclesiastes 1:9

It was true 2500 years ago when it was written, and it's true now. In playing a RPG, you are bound by the limitations of player familiarity. That's why most fantasy races seem like humans with a few tweaks. It's also why people say 'elf' instead of 'trafal', because it already involves a mental image of what should be. On a more basic level, words and concepts are defined by other words and concepts, so you really need to dig deep and have a group of well-rounded educated players to reach something that hasn't been done similarly.

The few examples that haven't been done in an RPG setting that I can think of (most of which were inserted into scifi/fantasy novels I've read are):
- Sentient Asteroids/Planets on a solar system or galactic field
- Sentient Glaciers on a global ice age field
- Sentient Atoms/Isotopes on a chemical field
- Sentient Subatomic Particles on a quantum field

The main limiting factor is sentience, as players should/must be able to make their own playing choices, otherwise it's just an mechanistic random encounter. You could take any of the above scenarios and place them on a different field, but that's mostly your window dressing.

If you are looking for a different original world for inspiration, try Gormenghast.

Grinner
2013-01-18, 10:31 AM
The few examples that haven't been done in an RPG setting that I can think of (most of which were inserted into scifi/fantasy novels I've read are):
- Sentient Asteroids/Planets on a solar system or galactic field
- Sentient Glaciers on a global ice age field
- Sentient Atoms/Isotopes on a chemical field
- Sentient Subatomic Particles on a quantum field

Minor nitpick. I've seen #1 in Eclipse Phase, and I think I've seen #3 in this weird indie game called Valence.

xBlackWolfx
2013-01-18, 10:54 AM
There's also Ego of marvel comics.

Infact, when i went to find a link to him, I found a page with a list of various fictional planets, including in the marvel universe, DC universe, and even transformers!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Fictional_living_planets

Oh and tell me something, have you ever heard of a fictional god of death, that is actually nice? My setting has one, she's associated with phoenixs and rebirth and isnt exactly a dark mysterious figure (actually she's well-known for extravagent displays of her power, and has also helped to defeat several evil gods throughout history, due to her hatred of tyranny). She's also associated with revolutionaries and the toppling of totalitarian governments. As for why she has such mis-matched qualities? Well, I intend to use her in a story someday, so I wont divulge that here, but I assure you, it makes perfect sense when you see her backstory.

NothingButCake
2013-01-18, 11:27 AM
Oh and tell me something, have you ever heard of a fictional god of death, that is actually nice? My setting has one, she's associated with phoenixs and rebirth and isnt exactly a dark mysterious figure (actually she's well-known for extravagent displays of her power, and has also helped to defeat several evil gods throughout history, due to her hatred of tyranny). She's also associated with revolutionaries and the toppling of totalitarian governments. As for why she has such mis-matched qualities? Well, I intend to use her in a story someday, so I wont divulge that here, but I assure you, it makes perfect sense when you see her backstory.http://media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m1763qVYmS1qcrt1n.jpg

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/c/cc/Standing_Osiris_edit1.svg/220px-Standing_Osiris_edit1.svg.png http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/6/6d/Anubis_standing.svg/220px-Anubis_standing.svg.png

http://24.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_me019h8Fsa1qie671o1_500.jpg

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/89/Kali_by_Raja_Ravi_Varma.jpg

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/45/Muerte-Blanca_6.jpg

http://24.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lsq12fLxAd1ql8nzuo1_400.jpg

They each have elements of what you're talking about. Sandman's Death is straight-up nice; by far, the sweetest one here. The others are at least just, and almost all have elements of rebirth or life. Santa Muerte is strongly associated with the underclass of Mexico and the U.S.-Mexico border region.

the_david
2013-01-18, 02:00 PM
The really unique settings are just combinations of elements that haven't been combined before. It's unlikely you'll create a new one. Actually, this is a great way to introduce my favorite setting brainstorming game. Go to tvtropes.com (actual link redacted because I have respect for my fellow playgrounders) and click "random" five times. Take the results it spits out and try to combine those into a setting.

I got this:
1. Depraved homosexual
2. Creepy awesome
3. Adjusting your glasses
4. Mother nature, father science
5. Anti-poop socking

I can use 2 and 4. We're not even gonna talk about 5. 3 is useless, except maybe for a way to roleplay different NPC's. (I actually wear glasses, so I could use this somehow) 1 is not the kind of thing I usually go for. I'm gay myself, and I don't care much for that trope. It would be a nice spin to use it just because of that, though.

xBlackWolfx
2013-01-18, 05:17 PM
Okay then, I got a tough one for all of you: why the hell are you even on this forum if you absolutely despise creativity? You clearly have absolutely no business in being here, besides trolling people.

the_david
2013-01-18, 05:47 PM
How is it possible to create something truly different? I just don't know...

You asked us a question, we told you the answer. Every story has been told already. What you want is that nobody can say: "It's like X but with Y instead of Z." That's very hard, because there will always be an X or Y.
Other than that, you are asking for something original so you can copy it. Do you see what's wrong with that?

hiryuu
2013-01-18, 10:26 PM
"It's like X but with Y instead of Z." That's very hard, because there will always be an X or Y.

The best stuff is like that. Mashups and derivatives are how authors actually do things in the real industry.

Avatar: The Last Airbender is Chinese Buddhist mythology wuxia but with Platonic elements instead of Taoist ones.


Okay then, I got a tough one for all of you: why the hell are you even on this forum if you absolutely despise creativity? You clearly have absolutely no business in being here, besides trolling people.

The answer to "how do you create new stuff?" is "stuff your brain with as many other things are already out there as possible and assemble from components." To do anything else is like driving with your eyes closed because you don't want to copy what the other cars are doing. That tvtropes game a little ways up? That's an actual professional writing exercise (what usually goes on is that the plot elements are put into a hat and then drawn out one by one, and the trick is to assemble a plot using them; IRON WRITER VERSION: Do it in order you pulled them.).

That's not "despising creativity," that's how being creative actually works.

@NothingButCake & xBlackWolfx: We should have a thread for showing off death gods. It would be awesome.

Vonwalt
2013-01-19, 01:06 AM
It's easy to make new stuff! New worlds, new creatures, etc. The hard part is coming up with new stories that will still interest people. You can't really go too far away from the realm of human experience or people will be unable to relate.
Also, this is the grumpiest thread I've seen in a while.

ArcturusV
2013-01-19, 01:12 AM
Well, I'd correct that to say it's easy to come up with new worlds, creatures, items, etc... as long as you're not focused on trying to come up with something new and unique.

The most common stumbling block I think in world crafting, or plot crafting, is merely trying too hard. There's a certain point where adding more work and trying to be "clever" tends to bite you in the ass.

One of the common examples I can think of is Matt Ward's writing for Warhammer 40k. It definitely fits into "Trying too hard" to justify why whatever he is writing currently is a "Tactical Genius" (Rather than just saying they're competent, he tries for Genius and falls flat on his face), and Badass Incarnate, etc.