I'll admit it--I love big, detailed settings. I'm enough of a geek that I'll enjoy just flipping through setting books. But it seems to me that it mostly fits under the heading of "lonely fun." Some people enjoy making thousands of character sheets, I enjoy pouring over esoteric lore about a fictional world.
Once upon a time, I, too, settled into the default position that you could introduce this material at the table only with long-winded lectures holding forth on the topic, and blamed the other players for their natural reaction of eyes glazing over, heads drooping, and eventually, nobody paying much attention. Now, I've seen ways that some games have handled this well
, and it has made me interested in what other techniques might exist.
To kick things off and illustrate what I mean, here are some of the techniques that have inspired me:
- Minutiae in Shock:. We have little tidbits of setting scattered out on the table, which anyone can contribute towards. The audience can use minutiae to influence conflict, so we have a reason to reincorporate these facts in the story.
- Setting Aspects in FATE. The FATE fractal means we can define any part of the setting with Aspects, just like a character. And characters can use those Aspects in play. Even better, there are rules to declare and add new Aspects.
Both of these work great with collaborative setting creation, but they can also help share a big, detailed setting. Joshua A.C. Newman has started doing this with Human Contact in Shock:
. Basically, we just have a bunch of minutiae to start off with. A FATE setting can have a bunch of Aspects already in play, giving you a starting point. We can add more in play, but that doesn't mean we have to start from scratch, either.
What are some other ways to break up lots of detailed setting information and introduce them in play, in a way that's actually fun, instead of the old, long-winded lecture?