When Fluff Spawns From Rules, A Great Game Emerges

Roleplaying Tips Newsletter #0790

Guten morgen %FIRSTNAME%

I’ve long had a fascination with how game rules affect game settings. Too often in game world products, I see a setting likely created separately as fiction in a word processor or wiki, and then the game patched onto it.

What I quest to build is a setting that works within the logic of the rules and is, therefore, tuned to amazing gameplay. It does not try to mirror our reality. Instead, it says, “Ok, if this rule governs reality, what would make for a great game setting as a result?”

For example, I posed a question in the GM Mastery group the other day about kings. In a D&D world where monsters, spells, and magic items exist, would a nation accept a weak / low-level king? Would kings only be retired adventurers with at least 100 hit points? How would you protect a 5 hit point commoner king?

Ideas abound. Doppelgangers, multiple castles/bases connected via teleportation circles, enough wizards and magic items on hand to always be detecting for evil, magic, and invisible foes.

Another example is special classes. The prestige classes, specialised classes, sub-classes, kits, or whatever your game system calls them could become special and woven into the raison d’etre of your world or culture.

Instead of just writing a history of rapid-fire swamp rangers, incorporate them via rules interpolation into your tapestry — game-wise and flavour-wise.

My thesis is this. You can write that ranger history and then patch it onto the world, and it would be interesting for sure. But weave the setting and the game together, and you’ll get an amazing gameplay experience.

And because you likely already have your game system picked, you can work bottom-up from the rules to build unique, interesting, and game-full world elements. If you’ve ever taken this approach, or know of a product that has, please shoot me a note. I’d love to hear about it!