The Whims of Worldbuilding

By Kane Driscol

Listen In on the Conversation

What was this workshop about?

Torn has a wonderful perspective on both sides of the world-building coin. On one side, you have Game Masters who only prep what they need for the session they are running and that’s where it stops. On the other side, you have Game Masters who prepare elaborate worlds and details for their game world, that may never see time at the table. All for the sake of creating that world. Torn does a bit of both.

As someone who is very game-centric, and having been burned out by world-building at such a scale early in my RPG career, it was a great opportunity to learn from Torn and glimpse into that world, so to speak.

As we talked, I can’t say that either method is right or wrong, or better than the other. They are simply a preference and a style that offers different things. There’s a certain pleasure in having details surrounding something you create. Like imagining a villain but also understanding who their lackeys are, what motifs they highlight, and how they fit into the world. It eliminates the uncomfortableness of sitting in the unknown that some people do enjoy or are okay with (like myself).

Wherever you sit on the spectrum, I think world-building is part of being a Game Master and it’s more important to figure out how you personally like to go about it than to worry about how everyone else is doing it. World-building is a very personal part of the hobby. But what do you think?

Here is a list of questions posed in the chat over the course of the workshop. How would you answer these for yourself?

  • What is the difference between world-building as a hobby vs world-building as part of your session prep?
  • Resource acquisition and competition. Almost every significant settlement is there because of a resource that the original settlers were trying to exploit. How do we use this idea to give our locations a sense of depth and purpose, and how does that lead to interesting story and gameplay?
  • What are your thoughts on world-building for a game, and world-building for a story?
  • How many mechanics or “rules” do you center your world around, vs having a system-agnostic world?

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Kane’s Kiln

I'm a day-to-day Game Master and I'm here to play, have fun, and share anything I can to help others in this great hobby!

Let me know if you have any questions or need help with anything ICRPG-related. Always happy to assist another lumpy-head!