Use Setting Questions To Avoid A Tossed Salad
Roleplaying Tips Newsletter #0812
Last Musing we explored the idea of Setting Questions. Getting your players to help you flesh out your world with new details from their imaginations and character perspectives.
We talked about making sure you add adventure details into your questions so players will care more about their characters, the adventure, and your world.
Another ingredient you should try to add to your Setting Questions is theme. Use Themes to Tie Your RPG Adventure’s Room Together
Setting Questions are perfect for helping you flesh out your adventure Theme.
Themes help you make deeper roleplaying experiences within your adventure designs. Rather than serving up a tossed salad of conflicting details that fails to resonate with your players, you create a unifying texture of colours and flavours that build off each other for amazing effect.
If you make your Setting Questions on-theme, you bake into your adventure and game world your desired experience. It’s a fantastic approach!
For example, let’s say your world theme is gritty sword & sorcery meets consequences of hubris. Your adventure shares that theme.
So we want to bake into our Setting Questions notions and flavours of S&S and excessive pride.
- Bard, when was the last time you were here? What was the place like then? How has it changed?
- Cleric, why do pilgrims of <cleric’s god> come to this place? Why is this place special to the god of <cleric’s chosen domain>?
- Fighter, what battle was fought here? Who fought it?
- Thief, what have you stolen from here before?
- Wizard, why is this place a place of power? What kind of rituals are held here? What ritual would you conduct here?
After, With Theme
- Bard, when was the last time you were here? The statues of the current council look new and the haughty stares down from the stone faces are disturbing. What was the place like then? How else has it changed?
- Cleric, why do pilgrims of <cleric’s god> still come to this place of fallen gods? Why is this place special to the god of <cleric’s chosen domain>?
- Fighter, what battle was fought here? It looks like strange sorceries wreaked havoc. Who fought it?
- Thief, what have you stolen from here before? The people here look downtrodden while the nobles look smug and rich. What things do you see that make your fingers tingle?
- Wizard, why is this ancient place a place of dark power? What kind of rituals are held here? What ritual would you conduct here?
The details you add to Setting Questions are meant to prompt on-theme answers to continue portraying subtle and not so subtle theme ties.
Don’t worry if answers come back that aren’t on-theme. We don’t want to force players with their answers. However, with time and repetition, you’ll have many clues, signs, and examples of theme crop up in gameplay. Many players will pick up on this an roleplay with it, which is one of the biggest benefits of theming your games!