W is for Worlds #AtoZChallenge

Dresden Files RPG

Dresden Files RPG

As you can see from my previous posts, my friends and I enjoy creating worlds. Most of the time it’s not really collaborative in the broader sense; that is, the gamemaster creates the world and the players create characters that imply certain things about the world and expand its borders.

An interesting approach is that of Evil Hat’s The Dresden Files game. In it, the players collaborate with the gamemaster to create the city that’s the setting for the game. We tried it once, but most of the players were not inclined to participate, or didn’t have the time. So it ended up that the GM and I did most of the creation. Each player has the opportunity to contribute locations, people, myths and monsters to the city. Character creation in DFRPG also relies on cross-pollination. Players include previous adventures with other characters in the group, so there’s a natural reason for them to associate with one another.

Borders of Despair was another collaborative world. Scott and I worked on it together. The intention, I believe, was for us to trade off running the game and playing in the world, creating a truly shared world.

I like the idea Dave commented back on my Borders of Despair post, that of modular world planning, and CD Gallant-King’s idea of starting small and only building out immediate surroundings as the players proceed.

These days I do my world-building in my novels, but it’s always fun to see it in action in our games.

Tell me about your world-building in the comments!

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Quick and Easy Guide to Playing The Dresden Files RPG

1. Dice: 4 Fudge dice (yeah, I’d never heard of them either) or 4 6-sided dice per player. Fudge dice have 2 sides marked with a +, 2 sides marked with a – and 2 sides blank. If you use 6-sideds, 1 & 2 are treated as -, 3 & 4 are treated as blank and 5 & 6 are treated as +. You roll the dice to generate a result between -4 and 4.
2. Setting & characters: City and character creation are intertwined, and collaborative
a. Choose your city
b. Agree on basic facts about it that you’d like to play with–a reputation the city has? Public figure? Geographic feature? Neighborhood? Subculture? Recurring event?
c. Figure out the sorts of problems the city is facing (1-3 total themes & threats)
i. Themes–problems that have been around a long time, firm and hard to get rid of (examples: corrupt politicians: “If he’s a politician, he’s mobbed up”; college town with a notorious fraternity of wealthy troublemakers: “If the Beta Alpha Chis want it, they get it”; cautionary tales like “If a pretty girl wanders alone at night, don’t expect to see her again”)
ii. Threats–person, monster, group or even a condition or circumstance that makes or wants to make life in the city worse for the mortal inhabitants (examples: people or other beings with no clear agenda: “A new warlock is breaking the Laws of Magic”; an idea of their agenda: “The Red Court is expanding their territory into this city”; bizarre or more metaphysical than real threat: “The Summer and Winter Courts are using this city in their machinations.”
d. Decide how the supernatural intersects with the city: who cares about the status quo? Who wants to rock the boat? How do mortals react? What’s the local supernatural community like?
e. Come up with various locations within the city, everyone making 1-2 each, where individual problems are fleshed out: neighborhoods and points of interest
i. Locations that seem to have their own story or character
ii. Locations that have a little action or conflict built in, even when PCs aren’t there
iii. Locations that tie in with the city’s themes and threats
iv. Locations emblematic of factions and organizations above
f. Come up with people for those locations: high concept and motivation (high concepts: White Court entrepreneur, monster hunting cop, dabbling sorceress); tie them together somehow
g. Make player characters (see additional page)
h. Finish the city, turning themes and some threats into aspects–game mechanics that can affect the PCs