30 March 2011

Three Sentences to Begin A World

The university group will game tonight!  We should have at least four players, with a fifth likely to make it if he can switch his work shift.  I am excited!

With no real way to tell how long this game will last and with spare time at a premium for everyone, I am loathe to invest lots of time into setting design.  Yet, I love world building.  Thus, I am going to get my players to help me a bit, in an organic and improvisational way.  I'm calling in Three Sentences.

One thing I always love to do as a playeris to improvise small world details at the table; I've been known to just throw out names of kingdoms, powerful long dead mages, ancient artifacts, or local inns while speaking in character.  The best DM's I've gamed with love it; they try to then incorporate those things into the game, at least as window dressing.  As I DM, I love it.  It gives me more grist for the setting mill.

With character creation happening tonight, I am going to ask each player to write down Three Sentences about their character on an index card.  Not so unusual, but I am also going to mandate that each sentence include at least one proper noun (that's not their character name).  Thus "I'm a fat dwarf who likes cheese" would not be acceptable.  "I'm a fat dwarf from the Caverns of Vrain who likes the cheeses of Rogest" would.  I'll then take those persons, places, and things and use them to sketch out a setting.  The players are already invested, since they came up with this stuff in the first place.  The nice thing is, there's no real pressure to develop everything about everything all at once.  We already know something about Rogest: he/she/it makes cheese.  Other details can follow as needed and as I or the players have more time to develop them.

I now feel compelled to provide three sentences for my players.  Here they go:

The Sultan of Mariq looks east, over the Grim Peaks, now that he has dealt with the Ferazzi Nomads.
The Grim Peaks, indeed all the Border Range, are honecombed with caverns and tunnels left behind by the Peoples of Hrim.
Here, in the town of Weyland, one waits weeks for carvans from Aldejas to make their way along the bandit infested Rotter's Road.

5 comments:

  1. Love it. Reminds me of when I used to ask for 5(?) NPC contacts from players (like in the 1790's game). I like you're approach for blank-slate (or nearly so) settings better.

    Have fun tonight! Can't wait to hear about it.

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  2. Love that food got worked into the sentence with the fat dwarf that loves cheese. Have a great time. Looking forward to reading about it.

    Happy Gaming :-)

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  3. Here are my additions, use them if you wish.

    > Deep in the Grim Peaks awaits the Sleeping Emperor Adulbin Ma'Areeq and his army of followers, destined to awaken when the Empire of Al'Qureen shall rise again.
    > Lord Ferriald rules with a firm hand from the Black Tower in the city of Hueurg.
    > The People of Grennen live in their green forrest but something has them restless and migrating southward. No one knows why, and the Grennen are not telling.

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  4. Nice idea!

    I should right that down somewhere...

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  5. Thanks to all!

    @m.s. jackson. Those are great. Consider them used.

    And, let's say some players didn't take this as seriously as others. I got some funny sentences. But I'm baffled by how I am going to work goats into the campaign in such a prominent manner.

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