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Honest Tiefling
2014-10-11, 12:46 PM
Given some comments, I have to ask. How common is it that DMs work with players to write up aspects of their setting? (Or in the case of a published setting, re-write). And if so, how large are these parts of the setting? And on the flipside, how many people like it when as players, they can help write the setting?

BWR
2014-10-11, 01:07 PM
In my experience, rarely and to a minor degree. For the most part, the most we've added is something minor like a minor noble family, a coat of arms, a small town here or there which we probably never interact with. World-building is the province of the GM. If more than one person wants to GM in the setting, then it's generally one playing in the other's game so they try to not make too many changes.

Note, this doesn't count games where a degree of cooperative creation at the start of the game is the norm, like Covenant buliding in Ars Magica.

sktarq
2014-10-11, 01:18 PM
Depends a lot. For the last several years I'm mostly run WoD games. I often create the city for the campaign (as in the Vamp or Changling or whatever version)-and before I do I ask the expected players a whole lot of questions. Themes, how involved are other supernatural etc. Then I go off and make the setting based largely on what the players gave me. So they were very influential to the setting but generally allow only minor changes after that.

As a player - I'm asked to help more often than I ask.

Beleriphon
2014-10-11, 02:31 PM
In my experience, rarely and to a minor degree. For the most part, the most we've added is something minor like a minor noble family, a coat of arms, a small town here or there which we probably never interact with. World-building is the province of the GM. If more than one person wants to GM in the setting, then it's generally one playing in the other's game so they try to not make too many changes.

Note, this doesn't count games where a degree of cooperative creation at the start of the game is the norm, like Covenant buliding in Ars Magica.

Or games like FATE that take it for granted that world building a cooperative exercise that is as much a part of character creation as anything else.

Broken Crown
2014-10-11, 02:48 PM
It hasn't come up very often for me, but I welcome it when it does. A fictional world is a big place, and having the players add something to help enrich it or fill in the blanks is both a time-saver and a seed for new ideas. It also gets the players more invested in the setting.

As long as it fits the setting, and doesn't actively contradict anything that's already been established, I allow it.

Nagash
2014-10-11, 04:06 PM
its almost never come up for me. As a GM i would allow a measure of it if it relates to the characters backstory. Such as more detail in their home town or religion, but for the most part its my world and I dont want too much mucking around in it.

FabulousFizban
2014-10-11, 04:23 PM
something I read once really helped me with stuff like this.

"It isn't your story, it is your players story. You are just the editor."

Melzentir
2014-10-11, 05:12 PM
Well, as far as having multiple writers for one story goes, it usually ends in conflicting ideas with people having different intentions of how a story should branch off. Especially if you have more than one DM in your campaign. As for players coming up with suggestions, that's a whole different story. As long as there is a clear power balance that lies with the DM, the players can contribute and come up with cool and original ideas to add to the story. In the end, it completely depends on the people you're working with. You can't make a sweeping statement and say that it works or doesn't work; I've read about some cases where the players actually invented more of the plot and locations etc. than the DM and it worked out just great.

Earthwalker
2014-10-11, 05:16 PM
With me it depends on the players and the system.

Running DnD we do it as the GM mainly creating the setting with very little input from players.

With other systems the the players get more input. Things like Fate mean that the players have loads of control over things.

DM Nate
2014-10-11, 09:23 PM
For me, the players influence the world without even realizing it. From the races they choose at the start, to what they choose to investigate and where they explore--all impact my world creation, because all of them require me to develop my backstory in different ways.

I find that sort of mutual (if unconscious) cooperation very fascinating.

jedipotter
2014-10-11, 10:02 PM
All most never. Few players even want to do anything but ''play''. And, sadly, the few players that want to add things are just the wild and crazy types(like ''my dad is a 25th level wizard who cast a wish for me every day!'').





"It isn't your story, it is your players story. You are just the editor."

What?

The DM is the writer, creator, director and executive producer. The players, at best,are improve actors playing a part.

DM Nate
2014-10-11, 10:24 PM
The DM is the writer, creator, director and executive producer. The players, at best,are improve actors playing a part.

I don't think you can make this a blanket statement at all. That's definitely not true for a wide variety of games out there.

Milo v3
2014-10-11, 11:15 PM
Three days ago I shared a google doc with my players telling them that if they want something in the campaign and it will "likely" be added in, saves a ridiculous amount of time when the players end up writing ideas for subjects between factions, nations, monsters, different forms of magic, and even cosmological things like gods and titans.


The DM is the writer, creator, director and executive producer. The players, at best,are improve actors playing a part.
In my experience Executive Producer probably, others maybe not.

BootStrapTommy
2014-10-12, 12:10 AM
Theoretically, the players do make a big contribution to the world, even of it's not in the direct creation of it. And good campaign setting will, over time, become populated with the heroes of older campaigns. How do you think NPCs like Mordenkainen, Elminster, and Drizzt came to populated their campaign settings? Their players and their characters help shape the events of the world with their existence and actions.

Illogictree
2014-10-12, 02:55 AM
Personally, I'm fine with taking player input in creating a setting. It helps clue you in to the sorts of things the players are interested in, what they're expecting to do in the campaign. Even within an pre-defined campaign world, official or self-created, the act of character creation is a (small) bit of world-building on the players' part. This is especially true if the characters have backgrounds that include or imply connections. For example, one guy is a former soldier who deserted - what war did he desert from, where? Another is a minor noble - how much influence does his family actually hold, what resources do they control? Where did the party wizard learn his magic, and who was his teacher?

Also, if players are involved in world-building, they're going to be invested in the world they've helped create, to at least some degree. It's much easier for a player to care about the fate of Someplaceburg if they're the one who placed that name on the map, gave the mayor a name, and decided their major export is laser pointers.

Granted, some game systems make this easier, and even provide mechanisms for players to participate in setting creation.

I'd love to try running a campaign in a setting fully created collaboratively by the players with something like Microscope or ...um... that other world-building game that escapes me at the moment. -Edit: It was Dawn of Worlds I was thinking of.

Alent
2014-10-12, 03:39 AM
I don't know how common it is from a lack of experience, but one of the few things that I think my group nails really well is collaborative worldbuilding. We have issues on rules, occasionally regress into bad rollplaying, go back and forth on high power vs low power, and have a bunch of strange interpersonal conflicts, but when it comes to worldbuilding we have a blast with it.

One of our best settings was one we built as gods facing divine problems and other gods and primordials, and once the campaign ended, we ended up doing a bunch of level 5~10 stuff on that world as regular adventurers, timelapsed to about 100 years after creation. All of our characters kept getting progressively better and better backstories since we actually knew the history of the world and region.

With each batch of characters we made, we ended up creating organizations to be attached to, either actively creating them through roleplay or creating them as plausible backstories. When we make an organization, as long as we can't depend on them for an unreasonable amount of help or patronage, it usually gets approved. Usually the power structures we make end up being in place the next campaign, 5~30 years later, and occasionally we had to argue with our old characters for stuff. (this was generally quite funny, because sometimes he completely missed the personalities.)

This has worked against us on rare, rare, rare occasion, because we do end up with characters who through OOC knowledge know which of the pantheon are prone to provocation by mortal threats. One of those gods was played by a player that quit playing because of a long running personality conflict, but even after that for a year or so, right up until we went on "DM has school" hiatus, his god character could be counted on to respond to supplication via the great oracle "SMS".

The SMS directed church usually worked out well for world building in practice, tho', because we worded the "prayers" in a vague enough way he had no idea what we were asking, and would snark out absolutely HORRIBLE yet plausible gag answers that his followers then acted out in classic crusading lawful stupid paladin fashion, creating a more organic conflict between the various religions.

The previous DM, myself (as new DM), and one of the players have actually been piecing together a new setting as time allows. These things just seem to go smoother when it's collaborative with limits.

Actually, come to think of it, don't you basically build a traveler game's entire setting by rolling out character backstories?

Milo v3
2014-10-12, 03:54 AM
his god character could be counted on to respond to supplication via the great oracle "SMS".

The SMS directed church usually worked out well for world building in practice, tho', because we worded the "prayers" in a vague enough way he had no idea what we were asking, and would snark out absolutely HORRIBLE yet plausible gag answers that his followers then acted out in classic crusading lawful stupid paladin fashion, creating a more organic conflict between the various religions.

*Steals for next campaign.*

Prince Raven
2014-10-12, 07:32 AM
I have one particular Pathfinder game I deliberately designed to give the players lots of creative input into the setting, and I look forward to getting my players more involved in creating aspects of the setting in the future.

falloutimperial
2014-10-12, 08:14 AM
Working with players to make a world usually accomplishes something that is almost always good; the players become invested and knowledgeable in and about the world. They make characters they otherwise wouldn't, have more options in a more detailed world, and enjoy the greater sense of community.

I do this whenever I can.

jedipotter
2014-10-12, 03:25 PM
Working with players to make a world usually accomplishes something that is almost always good; the players become invested and knowledgeable in and about the world. They make characters they otherwise wouldn't, have more options in a more detailed world, and enjoy the greater sense of community.



So how does players making a setting work?

Is this where everyone gets together and makes a setting together? So how does that work? Everyone comes up with an idea or three, and they all get put in the setting?

So I'd guess no one is ''in control'' of the setting right? Even the GM will pretend to be ''just a player''. So, say player A adds ''A dragon kingdom'', then the dragon kingdom is part of the setting. Or is it a vote? The couple of players and the GM pretending he is a player. So, at least some players might try and ''vote for cool stuff'' not for the ''perfect the theoretical setting'', but so their character can have something later in the game. Like say player A says ''everyone gets a dragon when they turn 13'', and all the players vote yes. The GM does not think the world could have one dragon per person, and naturally thinks it would ruin the typical game by over powering it. But the vote stands right?

So that brings the GM problem. So the players vote ''everyone has an adult dragon''. And lets narrow it down to a D&D 3.5 adult dragon, and the setting started as like ''12th century Earth''. So a DM who was going to make a typical 1st level goblin bandit adventure, just has to throw that out the window as there will be five players each with a dragon. So the players think it's great. The DM does not like it and has to scramble to make even a simple encounter. The DM has to up the power of the game to near 20th level, as the 1st level characters all have dragons.

So does a GM have to do this? Are they forced to run a game that the other players voted for?


So many questions....

mephnick
2014-10-12, 04:02 PM
In my experience, one person takes on the brunt of the work to create a setting and a campaign. The players show up and play.

I'm not even sure how you'd do in-depth cooperative campaign creation with a group of adult schedules. We can barely find time to play.

Illogictree
2014-10-12, 04:26 PM
So how does players making a setting work?

Is this where everyone gets together and makes a setting together? So how does that work? Everyone comes up with an idea or three, and they all get put in the setting?

So I'd guess no one is ''in control'' of the setting right? Even the GM will pretend to be ''just a player''. So, say player A adds ''A dragon kingdom'', then the dragon kingdom is part of the setting. Or is it a vote? The couple of players and the GM pretending he is a player. So, at least some players might try and ''vote for cool stuff'' not for the ''perfect the theoretical setting'', but so their character can have something later in the game. Like say player A says ''everyone gets a dragon when they turn 13'', and all the players vote yes. The GM does not think the world could have one dragon per person, and naturally thinks it would ruin the typical game by over powering it. But the vote stands right?

So that brings the GM problem. So the players vote ''everyone has an adult dragon''. And lets narrow it down to a D&D 3.5 adult dragon, and the setting started as like ''12th century Earth''. So a DM who was going to make a typical 1st level goblin bandit adventure, just has to throw that out the window as there will be five players each with a dragon. So the players think it's great. The DM does not like it and has to scramble to make even a simple encounter. The DM has to up the power of the game to near 20th level, as the 1st level characters all have dragons.

So does a GM have to do this? Are they forced to run a game that the other players voted for?


So many questions....

Well, whether that sort of thing turns into a mess is really dependent upon the types of players you have. As a GM you should probably put limits on how much influence the players can have, and of course the GM has the final word, so no, if something like the dragon knight thing came up that would totally break the game, you don't have to OK it.

The alternative is to use a world-building minigame of some sort. Diaspora for example has a built-in minigame for creating the star cluster you're going to be exploring. Spirit of the Century has a step in character creation that has players to define their previous adventures together.

There are a few independent setting-creation games as well. I mentioned Microscope (http://www.lamemage.com/microscope/) in my previous post (it's not free) and Dawn of Worlds (http://www.clanwebsite.org/games/rpg/Dawn_of_Worlds_game_1_0Final.pdf) (which IS free). I'm sure there are other similar games out there. Create a setting with one of those as a collaborative exercise and then play a game set in it.

TheThan
2014-10-12, 04:48 PM
Itís really easy for players to just ignore setting information. You give them a big document detailing the campaign world and they simply go ďTL;DRĒ and ignore everything about the setting you just spent months creating and writing. That sucks.

But getting the players involved in the creation process and letting them add their own touches to the campaign world can really get them excited in involved in the setting. They become more involved in the universe you and them are making collaboratively.

However my players have shown little interest in creating settings with the Dm (me), so this isnít something that Iíve had the fortune of being able to do.*sigh*

comicshorse
2014-10-12, 06:32 PM
Depends a lot. For the last several years I'm mostly run WoD games. I often create the city for the campaign (as in the Vamp or Changling or whatever version)-and before I do I ask the expected players a whole lot of questions. Themes, how involved are other supernatural etc. Then I go off and make the setting based largely on what the players gave me. So they were very influential to the setting but generally allow only minor changes after that.

As a player - I'm asked to help more often than I ask.

Ditto, I also let the P.C.'s create N.P.C.'s for the setting (with the proviso I may alter bits of them to better suit the overall plot). In my current Changeling game nearly twenty of the Changelings were created by the P.C.'s

jedipotter
2014-10-12, 06:38 PM
However my players have shown little interest in creating settings with the Dm (me), so this isnít something that Iíve had the fortune of being able to do.*sigh*

I'm the same. The most I get are vague suggestions. Like :

Player: "Hey it would be cool to have some aquatic dwarves, maybe they can be cursed or such.''

DM: ''Sounds interesting, how about you write up a history, race stats and other notes.

Player: ''No''

Demidos
2014-10-12, 07:02 PM
So how does players making a setting work?

Is this where everyone gets together and makes a setting together? So how does that work? Everyone comes up with an idea or three, and they all get put in the setting?

So I'd guess no one is ''in control'' of the setting right? Even the GM will pretend to be ''just a player''. So, say player A adds ''A dragon kingdom'', then the dragon kingdom is part of the setting. Or is it a vote? The couple of players and the GM pretending he is a player. So, at least some players might try and ''vote for cool stuff'' not for the ''perfect the theoretical setting'', but so their character can have something later in the game. Like say player A says ''everyone gets a dragon when they turn 13'', and all the players vote yes. The GM does not think the world could have one dragon per person, and naturally thinks it would ruin the typical game by over powering it. But the vote stands right?

So that brings the GM problem. So the players vote ''everyone has an adult dragon''. And lets narrow it down to a D&D 3.5 adult dragon, and the setting started as like ''12th century Earth''. So a DM who was going to make a typical 1st level goblin bandit adventure, just has to throw that out the window as there will be five players each with a dragon. So the players think it's great. The DM does not like it and has to scramble to make even a simple encounter. The DM has to up the power of the game to near 20th level, as the 1st level characters all have dragons.

So does a GM have to do this? Are they forced to run a game that the other players voted for?


So many questions....

Presumably the DM simply says "Tell me what you think would be cool", the players tell him, and then he keeps the most interesting ideas. For example, with what you presented --

Things the DM has to work with, based off your example --
"There's a dragon kingdom"
"Everyone has a dragon when they turn 13"
"Everyone has an adult dragon"
"12th century Earth"

Given that --
Well, we have the option of picking where we want to start on Earth, with the two stereotypical spots being Europe or Asia. Let's say China. Around this time, China has a weak military, confucianism is the dominant religion, and movable block printing has begun. Meanwhile, upheaval has been happening in neighboring Japan. (Disclaimer: I am not a history major, I'm just basing this off a world timeline I found. No guarantees anything is particularly accurate.)

Okay, So here I'm seeing a large, land-based theocratic empire (not necessarily accurate to Earth's timeline, but there's DRAGONS) that's largely peaceful, but there are rebels who support the old ways garnering support, especially due to the large military upheavals going on in their more military-minded neighboring country. Many years ago, much of the magic in the world died off, and to prevent it from fully disappearing the greatest mages in existence gathered to bind it to the world. However, they failed, and nearly all were consumed in the fiery backlash of the epic level spell gone bad. However, in his last moments, the most powerful human mage nudged the spell to bind it solely within humans, and with this more limited scope the spell worked. In the years that followed, many of the magical races died off or retreated into powerfully magic glades and bound themselves in in an attempt to prolong their lifetimes, hoping they'd be able to engineer a cure soon. The dragons, fearing extinction, brokered a deal where their eggs would go into stasis, and would only be awakened by a human with whom they could bond and feed magic off from. As the person grew in personal power, their dragon also grew, or just became more powerful.

The majority of people have pseudo-dragons, and if either dies, both die. If the person levels, the dragon gains a HD. Thus the dragon is something that must be protected and must protect. It'd modify the dynamics of the world, but it'd sure be interesting. Definitely more interesting than a generic setting, and all due to collaborative worldbuilding.

Eragon meets The Golden Compass meets A-Setting-With-a-Good-Empire, surprisingly hard to think of one.

The players can fight to protect the Empire from its growing foes, act as agents of the Old Religion, interfere with the revolts to the east, or heck, could spread the knowledge of the printing press to give the power back to the people.

calam
2014-10-12, 07:06 PM
This comes up a lot in the campaigns I played. Most of the time the players made the town or city that they came from and it was fine with the DM as long as long as it wasn't some way to get a ridiculous amount of items. The games I played also had DMs that were pretty responsive to suggestions and were open to them, from what type of city we should go to next to little things like if we met the blacksmith before.

When I DM I love when players contribute to the game in this way, especially since it allows them to add to my world in ways I didn't think of. The only problem is that sometimes I say too much and spoil some part of the game. This is especially good when you are working on something that you as a DM don't have that much knowledge on like how to design a proper military base.

Milo v3
2014-10-12, 07:11 PM
So how does players making a setting work?

Is this where everyone gets together and makes a setting together? So how does that work? Everyone comes up with an idea or three, and they all get put in the setting?
I just made a list online and said, add whatever you want and it will "likely" be in the setting.


So I'd guess no one is ''in control'' of the setting right? Even the GM will pretend to be ''just a player''. So, say player A adds ''A dragon kingdom'', then the dragon kingdom is part of the setting. Or is it a vote? The couple of players and the GM pretending he is a player. So, at least some players might try and ''vote for cool stuff'' not for the ''perfect the theoretical setting'', but so their character can have something later in the game. Like say player A says ''everyone gets a dragon when they turn 13'', and all the players vote yes. The GM does not think the world could have one dragon per person, and naturally thinks it would ruin the typical game by over powering it. But the vote stands right?

If theres a thing like "everyone gets a dragon when they turn 13", I'd then ask for more clarification how that would work at all or, go under the assumption that these dragons are obviously using some other creatures statistics and are just reflavoured. Maybe those "Dragons" are all pseudodragons I mean they all act like cats, or maybe the "Dragons" just use raven stats? Theres nothing saying that the dragons in this campaign have to match the standard dragons of D&D. If I was in a very bad mood, I might give the society proper true dragons like the person is expecting, and then have them rebel early on into the game, I mean... look at their intelligence, charisma, and HD they'd be able to diplomacy everyone under their control or at least use their Charm person spells to get themselves freed.


So that brings the GM problem. So the players vote ''everyone has an adult dragon''. And lets narrow it down to a D&D 3.5 adult dragon, and the setting started as like ''12th century Earth''. So a DM who was going to make a typical 1st level goblin bandit adventure, just has to throw that out the window as there will be five players each with a dragon. So the players think it's great. The DM does not like it and has to scramble to make even a simple encounter. The DM has to up the power of the game to near 20th level, as the 1st level characters all have dragons.
If you did for some reason allow the dragon to be an adult true dragon rather than a reflavouring, then why bother with first level, not every campaign starts at first level. I mean, standard adventurers in a world where they have to battle other peoples dragons all the time would increase their levels immensely or they would die really really fast. Also, there no reason for those bandits to not have dragons as well. If a player has access to something there's no reason for enemies to not have access to it. Finally, just have their be laws against forcing the dragon into combat, I mean, it's a sentient being it'd probably be illegal (except perhaps in times of war through conscription).

jedipotter
2014-10-12, 09:46 PM
Presumably the DM simply says "Tell me what you think would be cool", the players tell him, and then he keeps the most interesting ideas. For example, with what you presented --



I've had lots of bad experiences with this. Way to often what a player thinks is cool is unplayable, but worse is when the DM and the player don't agree on ''cool''.

Like when the player says ''A super hard core theocracy that worships dragons would be super cool. So the DM makes the Divine Dragon Empire. And everything is ok, until the characters go to the empire. And the DM has made dragon worship the state religion, and other religions are banned. And then player that though this idea was ''super cool'' does not like it now as it effects is cleric. And the player gets all mad and upset that the DM ''ruined his cool idea''.

Milo v3
2014-10-12, 10:06 PM
I've had lots of bad experiences with this. Way to often what a player thinks is cool is unplayable, but worse is when the DM and the player don't agree on ''cool''.

Like when the player says ''A super hard core theocracy that worships dragons would be super cool. So the DM makes the Divine Dragon Empire. And everything is ok, until the characters go to the empire. And the DM has made dragon worship the state religion, and other religions are banned. And then player that though this idea was ''super cool'' does not like it now as it effects is cleric. And the player gets all mad and upset that the DM ''ruined his cool idea''.

If they didn't want you to add to the idea, they should've said more about their idea, IMO.

Prince Raven
2014-10-12, 11:05 PM
I've had lots of bad experiences with this. Way to often what a player thinks is cool is unplayable, but worse is when the DM and the player don't agree on ''cool''.

Like when the player says ''A super hard core theocracy that worships dragons would be super cool. So the DM makes the Divine Dragon Empire. And everything is ok, until the characters go to the empire. And the DM has made dragon worship the state religion, and other religions are banned. And then player that though this idea was ''super cool'' does not like it now as it effects is cleric. And the player gets all mad and upset that the DM ''ruined his cool idea''.

Well, some things don't work well if your players have the maturity of 8-year olds.

Jaycemonde
2014-10-13, 03:01 AM
I don't know how common it is from a lack of experience, but one of the few things that I think my group nails really well is collaborative worldbuilding. We have issues on rules, occasionally regress into bad rollplaying, go back and forth on high power vs low power, and have a bunch of strange interpersonal conflicts, but when it comes to worldbuilding we have a blast with it.

One of our best settings was one we built as gods facing divine problems and other gods and primordials, and once the campaign ended, we ended up doing a bunch of level 5~10 stuff on that world as regular adventurers, timelapsed to about 100 years after creation. All of our characters kept getting progressively better and better backstories since we actually knew the history of the world and region.

With each batch of characters we made, we ended up creating organizations to be attached to, either actively creating them through roleplay or creating them as plausible backstories. When we make an organization, as long as we can't depend on them for an unreasonable amount of help or patronage, it usually gets approved. Usually the power structures we make end up being in place the next campaign, 5~30 years later, and occasionally we had to argue with our old characters for stuff. (this was generally quite funny, because sometimes he completely missed the personalities.)

This has worked against us on rare, rare, rare occasion, because we do end up with characters who through OOC knowledge know which of the pantheon are prone to provocation by mortal threats. One of those gods was played by a player that quit playing because of a long running personality conflict, but even after that for a year or so, right up until we went on "DM has school" hiatus, his god character could be counted on to respond to supplication via the great oracle "SMS".

The SMS directed church usually worked out well for world building in practice, tho', because we worded the "prayers" in a vague enough way he had no idea what we were asking, and would snark out absolutely HORRIBLE yet plausible gag answers that his followers then acted out in classic crusading lawful stupid paladin fashion, creating a more organic conflict between the various religions.

The previous DM, myself (as new DM), and one of the players have actually been piecing together a new setting as time allows. These things just seem to go smoother when it's collaborative with limits.

Actually, come to think of it, don't you basically build a traveler game's entire setting by rolling out character backstories?

This is all brilliant.

Yora
2014-10-13, 05:18 AM
What I tend to do is let the players come up with their own ideas for their characters and then work together with them how to make it fit into the setting.
One player was playing a gnome scout who had left her home city because her people wouldn't accept a woman in an outdoor job. Since that didn't really match with my idea for gnome culture, the character bacame a member of a high status family. What the family objected to was that her chosen occupation was unladylike and she acting like a commoner.

EccentricCircle
2014-10-13, 08:12 AM
I tend to encourage players to add to the setting in an in character manner.
One campaign ended with a PC staying behind in the tyranical city to form a resistance movement, the next campaign then picked up with agents of that resistance, one of whom was played by the same player as the organisation's founder. Over the course of that game almost all of the players engaged with the world to a greater or lesser extent, spinning off new elements that have since become a part of the setting. One player ended up breaking company with the others, and has since set himself up as a criminal mastermind, so his organisation are now opposed to the one started at the end of the first game.

I advance the campaign's timeline in real time, so as years pass between games the setting develops, and the elements that those players introduced become more and more central to the plot. It gives the world a much more lived in and real feel, and because a lot of the players keep coming back, their knowledge of the past games acts like in character knowledge of how the world works, whereas new players are almost literally introduced to things by the more streetwise older players.

We didn't set out to create a collaborative world, and it wouldn't have worked nearly as well if i'd sat down and said right, everyone come up with an organisation or two. The end result is much more organic.

Joe the Rat
2014-10-13, 08:35 AM
This is an interesting topic, because I'm seeing different sides of this in my current game. Our world-builder (the initial GM) has a very solid feel for how he wants the world to work. He's got a frame of all the races, and class tendencies, and classes allowed in general, all with a very specific tone (light comedy) and overarching storyline (lich-backed lizardman invasion). Oh, and we need to have lovecraftian horrors from beyond the edges of reality, but they have to be silly rather than terrifying, while still sucking out your mind through your left nostril. But I digress. He's built up a pretty solid framework. Simple archetypical cosmology, classic elements, incredibly goofy events (have I discussed the flying pig? I'm pretty sure I've discussed the flying pig before). That said, the players are actively shaping the world with our backstories. Initially there was the idea of dwarf clans, but no details. One pyromancer and one barbarian later, we have Flamewardens (magic-using dwarves, respected for their smelting skills but generally thought of as perverted because they use magic), and the Redrocks (redneck dwarves with a penchant for alcohol and not bathing... okay, so dwarves, but with a Carolina accent - and played in loving self-depreciation by the self-described redneck player). And from there, we cook up a couple more. Now we need different flavors of elf. We get wood elves and sea elves. It's not easy being green. He's got a world in mind, and is using player input to help flesh out the details. Also, he's setting up backstory plot hooks, but they tend to be hit-or-miss.

Since he's been a bit under the weather, I've started a second campaign in the same world, only north of the main campaign. As this was a bit impromptu, we have the same basic world elements, but the actual region is open to interpretation. So I set out a basic plan and premise: "When the Old Empire (from the main campaign) collapsed, this region did not stabilize like the southern part, leaving a patchwork of holdings, and a crapload of creepy ruins. You guys are a franchise of a dungeon-clearing corporation, who is looking to expand into the area." And then let them build up. One guy is playing a straight-up wuxia warrior, so I pencil in a Land of Hidden Mountains where the Oriental Adventures type content comes from. Somebody killed his master. Plothook go. Another guy is taking on the "highly magical elf warrior on a quest" archetype (elf fighter/magic-user, or Eldritch Knight in 5th). So we go all Misty Isles, and he's trying to save his race and beloved from fading away by recovering lost artifacts. So we're not too far from a shoreline, and there are magic islands. Oh, let's add some vikings while we're there. New guy starts halfway in, playing a gnome? He's a relative of the NPC the party is looking for. The usual DM is playing a smell-focused cleric? Perfume trade is a major thing. He likes the idea of crazy alienist stuff beyond the fringes, so there's a massive chasm (like "takes a week to cross by bridge, if you can find one" massive) at the northern edge. And with a huge chasm, let's throw the Isle of Dread down there for a nice Lost World Pellucidarian region. Because Dinosaurs. And the rest? We'll add more as we get to them (they've just cleared part 1 of a potential 3-part mission), we'll see where they go from here. I prefer to go more player driven the rare occasions when I do run things, simply because once I get past mechanics and cosmology, I'm pretty open to what the world will hold. Or I'm lazy, take your pick.

Roxxy
2014-10-14, 03:11 PM
Theoretically, the players do make a big contribution to the world, even of it's not in the direct creation of it. And good campaign setting will, over time, become populated with the heroes of older campaigns. How do you think NPCs like Mordenkainen, Elminster, and Drizzt came to populated their campaign settings? Their players and their characters help shape the events of the world with their existence and actions.

Depends on if you consider previous campaigns canon. I don't. Let's me go a lot further in scope with storytelling without permanently changing things I liked. For example, if a race war breaks out in my favorite country in one campaign, the next campaign doesn't assume that war happened, because I don't want to permanently scar my favorite country. Infinite divergent historical timelines.

prufock
2014-10-15, 07:03 AM
I definitely let my players have input, both in and out of character, but as the DM and setting creator I have the final say into what goes into the game. In-game, the characters can make some fairly big changes to the world in general based on their actions. PCs can be instrumental in defending territory, killing leaders, and so on. As they gain higher and higher levels, their impact on the world is more and more dramatic.

Out of character, I usually ask for input from my players, especially when I'm in the "world-building" stage.

Menevalgor
2014-10-16, 08:27 AM
Personally I let players write in whatever they want (with limits, so as long as it can fit) to the world through backstory, or just requests. This generally has gone well for me until we were five months into a game when we realized one player had written in both Galadriel the driud who trained him, and the country of Greece, which is apparently well known for its literature in this setting.

Beleriphon
2014-10-18, 10:18 PM
Personally I let players write in whatever they want (with limits, so as long as it can fit) to the world through backstory, or just requests. This generally has gone well for me until we were five months into a game when we realized one player had written in both Galadriel the driud who trained him, and the country of Greece, which is apparently well known for its literature in this setting.

Well, bother of those seem okay though. Unless you mean literally Galadriel.

Menevalgor
2014-10-19, 01:12 AM
Nah I just figured they would share a name or something without any substantial similarities beyond that.

Deaxsa
2014-10-19, 10:02 AM
Sadly, my experience with this is rather limited, because while i did have a player in my current group who tried this, he did it for the sole purpose of making himself the chosen one (multiple times), and when i put a stop to that, i put a stop to the practice as a whole (not on purpose, mind you). That said, everyone seems pretty content with the current situation, so while it certainly adds to the game, I would not say that it's necessary.