Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Quick & Dirty Guide to Creating Published Settings

As I mentioned in my previous post about Using Published settings Publish settings have a few problems. I could be wrong but I don't feel this is unique to me. They give the impression that you are using someone elses setting, which of course is true. But in the spirit of DIY gaming the GM needs to get over that and make the thing their own. There is no reason the setting can't use and work with this assumption.

Back in the late 80s there was a book called A Quick & Dirty Guide to War. The authors James F. Dunnigan and Austin Bay went over all of the political flashpoints of the day (late 80s) and listed out the problems, the factions, and gave a number of likely outcomes (80% chance Iran attacks Iraq, 10% chance Israel bombs and diffuses the conflict, 5% status quo continues, etc). They gave a lot more detail on each one. The interesting thing is you could tell a lot about the factions by the possible outcomes.

Poetic Kaldor, map
used without permission
Now I imagine the same thing with a Published Setting. I'll use Hârn again. Instead of just saying it is 720 and go for it (which was sort of revolutionary in the day) they could have said:
Kaldor Possible Outcomes
  • 60% by 725 increasing by 10% every year after.  Succession Crisis. The old King dies and the Earl of Pendath grabs for the throne. Having prepared for years his loyalists quickly take Tashal and Gardiren. The remaining nobles side against him. Mercenaris from all around flood into the Kingdom.
  • 30% by 725 that Gargun raids (Hârnic Orcs) unit the nation behind the Earl of Olakane and the old King makes the Earl his heir prior to passing a few years later.
  • 2% by 730 War with Dwarves of Azadmere. In order to fix national finances, and assuming the Dwarves would never leave their holes, the Royal Treasurer announces all debt to the Dwarves are nullified. The Dwarves do not take this well and march on Getha. 10% chance the Elves get involved on the side of the Dwarves.
Anyway, I'm not up on my Hârn stuff right now so the Earl might be conquering his own property in my example but hopefully you get the point. By providing jumping off points the Published setting would make it easier for a GM to make the setting their own, as well as provide lots of scenario ideas. Say the GM decides for the succession crisis, they could put the game right before it starts and play it out, or have it take place a decade later with a lot of new history that players wouldn't be able to Google.
This also gives an outlet for that little bit of novel writing that exists in every Publisher so that hopefully they can avoid putting that sort of garbage into their adventures.

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