PTG171-We Built This City

Phil and Senda answer your questions about RPGs from two different perspectives — with some panda silliness!
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PTG171-We Built This City

Post by EpisodeBot »

Show us how you implement collaborative world building! Phil and Senda talk collaborative world building in your session 0 and when you are mid game. Also, lots more music, not understanding we were queer in the 90s, cat sounds and the facial expressions that accompany them, and EIGHT HOURS of gaming...

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Re: PTG171-We Built This City


I did an entire campaign based on collaborative world building.

It started because I have a group of disparate players and after running a few different games with 3-8 episode story arcs, I realized that all of them were trying for different things that were never quite supported by the game worlds.

So, I told them we were playing a Savage Worlds game. Within the basic parameters, anything was viable. My parameters as a GM were:
  • Once someone described something that related to their character, someone else couldn't contradict it.

    No Drow.

    High Magic.

    Not Steampunk.

    Firearms, if they exist, will be rare and dangerous.

    Everyone will be playing heroes. They don't have to be lawful good, but they will be playing the "good guys." Though they can be rogues and ne'er do wells as part of it.
So, we started with the players describing the characters they wanted to play, and the basics were:

-Ratman Tinkerer who made magic items from spare parts.
-Necromancer studying death and using his powers to stave off death for others.
-Half Rakshasa assassin. Unaware of the demonic side of his heritage or the overriding manipulations of his people as they try to conquer the world.
-Wolven Lycanthrope with a non-contagious ability to shift from man to wolfmonster
-Spider-Fae-Blooded Sorceress who casts spells by weaving the strings of magic.
-Gentleman Dwarf Berzerker.

Then we pulled out the DD2E World Builder's Guide and rolled some dice to come up with some options to pick from. (We never took only one roll, we did several results and picked the best by committee.) Sometimes, we just tablesourced the outcome if someone had a great idea.

This led to a world of post-magic-apocalypse 1000 years after the Tear, which was caused by wizards trying to use powerful, dimensional magic to fight against Eldritch Horrors. With parts of planes being destroyed and some of the debris and inhabitants ending up in the world. Elemental Aspects were common. Civilization was destroyed and rebuilt.

Some of the fun things to come out of tablesourcing:
-Orcs and Goblins were the first to recover from the Tear. Goblins were plotting but good at politics and organization. Orcs were brutal warriors with an honor code. Hobgoblins were all about discipline, whether in battle or profession. Most major cities were ruled by Goblinoids or Humans.

-Humans were the old dominant race. Now there were several major groups trying to remain in control by outbreeding, bloodmixing, necromancy, demonic services, or magical experimentation.

-Elves were fae-blooded and had strong ties to magic and inherent vunerabilities.

-Dwarves were civilized and class based. Nobles ruled over common workers.

-Lots of Elemental aspecting. Fire tribes with hair like flames. Earth tribes with pebbly skin. Pools of raw elemental power.

-Devastated landscapes with remnants of other planes: Realm of Madness in the center of a forest. Verdant Fae forest in the middle of a desert of multicolored glass, etc.

-The Gods were either dead or not answering.

-Dimensional Travel and Portals were very, very dangerous. Because of the Tear, entire sections of other planes were now destroyed, resulting in pockets of Void. Opening a portal to the wrong spot would create a magical-mini-black hole. (Think large sphere of annihilation with a vaccuum ability and occasional movement.) Other dimensions were slowly getting smaller as their realities tryed to push the void away.

-Dwarves had gunpowder of different colors. It had double the critical fail chance, but each color did cool stuff.

-Inherent minor magical abilities were tolerated, but many places had stigma or even laws against spellcasting.

And so on.

It was fun, and it gave me a place to experiment with different scenarios and rules. (Its also where I based my Savage Fantasy one-shots that I run at conventions).

There were some problems. (After the one player wanted to make a Gentleman Dwarf Berzerker, another player wanted to implement the idea that dwarves were an uncivilized, barbarian race. Obviously, the latter contradicted the former and so it was vetoed.)

Creating a game world entirely from scratch also meant that there wasn't as much backstory for a while, because so much of the game was based on Leading Questions instead of logical construction.

And not all of the players were great at coming up with answers, so it could be taxing.

But I did use a mechanical tool to help encourage that. The Backstory Benny.

This was a special Benny (token) that I gave out to participants at the start of each session.

I would start each session with a world-building , leading question. Each player was asked a similar question, and if they answered it with some sort of world building, they got a Backstory Benny. (This Benny could be used to add +1 to any die roll as long as you rollplayed how you used it. If you actually tied in that week's question, you got +2. You could spend a Backstory Benny on any roll, including another player's roll.)

I tried to use questions that tied the party together.

"So, you have all been in the city for two weeks. Danielle, tell me about a Contact or Friend that Tim has made this week."


"Tell me about a ritual or rite that the believers of a religion follow in the city." (The player would pick the domain of the religion: Death, Magic, Healing, Home, etc. and a custom, rite, or tradition about the followers. We would tablesource for a name and details.)

All in all, it was fun, and I still return to it from time to time.

If I do this sort of thing again, we will plan a longer session zero though. And spend more time on cultures.
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Re: PTG171-We Built This City

Post by RobAbrazado »

Dang, Jerry, that sounds pretty awesome!
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Re: PTG171-We Built This City

Post by Emmett »

Not exactly the same thing but we were playing a space opera in which the players were delivering medical aid to a planet. When they landed I described a small farmhouse in the distance. A PC with keen eyesight observed the farm and said there were things moving around that looked like ants to her.

So as they got closer I described that they were indeed ants, giant ants the size of horses that were genetically constructed.

When they had saved the lives of the planet's inhabitants, the farmers let them have one of their ants Anna Bell.

I get silly sometimes.
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Re: PTG171-We Built This City


RobAbrazado wrote: Tue Sep 10, 2019 3:50 pm Dang, Jerry, that sounds pretty awesome!
It was a lot of fun. The group was still new to knowing each other, so some of the elements and drives didn't mesh as well, but it was fun. (@mageAkyla is part of that game too).

With better managing, it would make a better game world, so I'm trimming the edges a bit and realigning the history to make it more usable. With input from the goup from time to time as well, of course.
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