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Aargh! No Big Secrets!

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Post originally by DannyK at 2005-06-09 15:48:12
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Thank you for the interesting and helpful article, but I had to wince when you advocated doing lots of IC stuff with misleading information, and then having a "Big Secret" to the campaign setting that you never state in the final text.

That kind of thing was totally overused by White Wolf and is guaranteed to annoy a lot of gamers if someone does it now. Please note, I'm not talking about "Canon Doubt and Uncertainty" -- it's perfectly fine to say that King Arthur disappeared 15 years ago and nobody's every found him; it's even better to have a section discussing different interesting possiblities for what happened to him. But I cannot abide a campaign setting that says King Arthur disappeared and give some tantalizing hints about where he went -- but then spitefully withholds the one true answer until you buy the next book in the series.

That pisses me off when White Wolf does it, and the newbie setting writer doesn't get the same breaks White Wolf does.
 
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Post originally by screenmonkey at 2005-06-09 18:13:55
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Amen brother. Big secrets are as cliche as "like D&D, only better." We've seen all that before amd it was old 5 years ago.

Give me a setting with everything i need to run an entire campaign, including an overarcing storyline that i'm free to ignore and enough side treks to keep my guys busy for 20 sessions or so, and give it to me all in one book.

Preferably in under 200 pages.

That way my guys have a setting to run around in and i have enough material to keep 'em entertained for many sessions with minimal effort on my part.

Now *that's* a setting book i'd spend money on and use. Ah, in a perfect world....

Happy Gaming, =)
screenmonkey
 
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More dream sequences

Post originally by screenmonkey at 2005-06-09 18:21:39
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oh, ya and while i'm on my "perfect world" dream trip, along with the setting book, offer a pdf of the portions that are pertinent to PC creation so that as a player i don't have to spend $30+ on say, the Eberron world book, just to make a character and get a feel for the seting. That way, as a GM i don't have to pass my book around either and risk some nosy player seeing things he's not supposed to see.

Yep, dreaming . . . .

Happy Gaming, =)
screenmonkey
 
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All too common

Post originally by Tom Pleasant at 2005-06-10 03:48:15
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Unfortunately that style of marketing still seems to be popular amongst some writers and designers. Holistic Design that made the wonderful Fading Suns unfortunately falls into this category. Mind you they are ex-White Wolfers so what can you expect?
 
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Post originally by Robert McAdams at 2005-06-10 16:04:02
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Um...ever thought of just making up the answer yourself?

The campaign book doesn't run the darned game, after all. It's just a resource. All resources are incomplete.
 
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Post originally by Mark Threlfall at 2005-06-11 05:16:46
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Of course we could make up the answer to the Big Secret ourselves. However this has its problems.

1) Any material released based upon the Big Secret will likely not have any relevance to you.

2) Extra work needs to be done by the GM, which is odd, if I buy a setting book I want to pay money for most of the work having been done.

3) Players guides sometimes refer to the Big Secret, this can give direction to the players, this direction will be likely wrong if I make up the answer (though too many Players Guides are incorrectly named).

I have had to abandon a game line because of this approach. Mainly the reason was they were spending way to long releasing product, the schedule was far too slow and I would be too far ahead. This meant that though I would buy future material it would likely be useless to me. Also the game line was based on events in an out of print product they had no immediate plans to re-release, which I thought idiotic.

New books for a setting should expand on areas within the setting. Rather than define the answer to a secret keep creating ideas for more possible events.

A setting book should be designed like a toolkit.

Here are all the parts needed to make something. Go off and make it please GM see what you end up with.

White Wolf, I believe and I hope (as canon creep is I believe on the horizon) seems to have learned this lesson and their game line has improved because of it.
 
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Post originally by Lloyd Brown at 2005-06-12 20:53:37
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Whoa, hold on there! I'm not necessarily advocating the "Big secret" style of design. The intention of that line's inclusion was to point out what kind of thing goes in the setting bible for those designers not familiar with it.

Like anything else, how well the technique works depends on the writer's execution. Sometimes it's cheesy. Sometimes it cranks up the intensity in an exotic atmosphere. When we all started playing Dark Sun in the early 90s, the buried secrets of the past enticed many players and DMs like to explore the deserts.

THE Dragon of Athas lost a lot of mystery once we discovered that anybody could be a dragon and that he had a name--Borys, of all things. I kept looking expecting him to hunt down a moose and a squirrel.

No, if there's a secret, it should be kept that way. The revelation, if it ever came, would be the ultimate "jump the shark" move for a product line.
 
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Post originally by Lloyd Brown at 2005-06-13 08:08:04
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"Preferably in under 200 pages."

You mean like Fantasy Flight Games' Horizon series? That line is my model for how a D20 setting should appear. Rules and setting for $15? That rocks. Easy on the buyer, easy on the writer, easy on the publisher. Everybody wins.
 
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Post originally by Allan S at 2005-06-15 08:21:32
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Old 5 years ago? It got old 20 minutes after Pacesetter's Sandman RPG came out - what... 15 years ago?
 
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Post originally by Lloyd Brown at 2005-06-15 15:15:30
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The sold Sandman product came out in 1985, so 20 years ago.

Games that nobody purchased don't really have much of an impact on the market.
 
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