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MoonHunter Sayeth 20170606

MoonHunter

Game Guru-Thread Shepherd
RPGnet Member
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Core Things to know
1) Cue Cards
2) Riffing
3) Magic Boards
4) Chronicle Packet PART II
5) GM Journal (aka GM Pad, GM Notebook, etc)

Summary of the Setting
I like writing settings. Just check out my work on this site and others. So this section started to grow out of control. I have reigned myself in and this will work for now. I will post on setting creation later.
The setting is of course where the game is going to be played. Some of this material will be in the core book, if the rpg comes with a default setting. However, most GM’s casually exceed the details found in the book. Some GMs make up unique settings of their own.

I break a setting description into three parts:

The Stage – The places where the game is set.

The Background – The people and the history of the world.

The Opening Action – if any

Two additional parts which are separate.
The Academics section. This is no longer the summary. This is the whole thing. This is the full detailed background material for the setting (minus any GM spoilering). Most GMs put this in a second booklet/ binder/ packet for the careful perusal of some gamers. This includes everything the GM thought was needed to the chronicle packet.

GM’s version of this - This is the GM’s version of the chronicle packet. It should be stuffed in the back of the GM’s Journal. (The GM should have a copy of the player packet, just so he/she can check to make sure the players do know certain things.) The GM’s packet is the academic packet and more. It has all that information, all the setting material that was in the packet and more (often stuff edited for space) or created in a splurge of creativity/ productivity. It will also include spoiler information and hidden information that the players will need to uncover.
The Stage
The Stage is the physical world around you. It starts with an Overview of the World/ Known World. The next part will include the core area, where most of the action will be happening. This can be a neighborhood, a city, a country, a region, or an entire continent. This core area needs to be fairly detailed, so the players can soak up the useful information and less time will be spent in game explaining “the way things are and where they are.”. After you go through the basics of that, the GM should write about The Fringe. This is the rest of the feasible world for the players’ adventures. If your core is a city, the country it is in and the wilds around it. If your core is a country, go on about countries and environments around it. You get the point.

Make sure to include things about the terrain, like temperature, rainfall, and so on. These things help make the place real in the minds of the player

The Stage section should include the animals and plants of interest. You can gloss it over generally, with these are animals like the animals you find on our world. However, there are animals, creatures, and things that will be different. These things need to be listed. (Animal Stats don’t need to be listed here and should be saved for the GM’s packet or Journal).

The Background
This is about the people, their cultures, and the history of the world. While that is the proper order, you will usually present it in reverse.

The History of the World
There are three parts of any setting section
1) Relevant: This is the current affairs and some explanations as to the whys and such, going back for the last generation of three. This should be all about core area you defined in your chronicle, with some of the Fringe areas as needed to explain things. You can go farther back if needed… The war 150 years ago plays a part in the political situation and pending war in the chronicle

This flies in the face of what many GMs detail. But think about it, when did the 3rd ruler of your country several hundred years ago impact your day to day life? However, laws enacted by one of the last few rulers have and will.

2) History Expanded. This is the current events and history for the Fringes. We all know that players are going to head to the edge of the map if given half the chance. Having this worked out ahead of time gives you a good handle about what is there.

3) Deep History: This may or may not be done for a setting. If it is, often the players never see it without asking special permissions. This is the history (as they know it) of the world. It could go back to mythic times if needed, or only a few millennia, it is up to the GM. So if you need the history of the Gods, the History of the City States of the Past, and so on…. This is the place for it.

The Cultures
This area is about the core area.

1) Concrete (things you need to do to be part of this)
This should all the information the troupe the players need about the game environment and the world it represents. This does not have to be in large, long, encyclopedia like sections. It can be a collection of important pieces of information, in simple short sections. GMs: Include as much as you are able, as it will save you having to explain things in the future.

Every chronicle packet should include Key Visceral Elements. These are concrete things about life in the world. Birth, Death, Clothing, Eating, Sleeping, Family/ Marriage, Worship (if needed), Common Buildings, and Work/ Leisure, are some of the most important key visceral elements. (Toss in weather) Every world pack should include sections on these topics. Note: Short and brief sections are sometimes better than long, complete entries.

2) The Overview of the culture:
This should be the non visceral elements. It will include the government, big organizations (religions, guilds, unions, orders, and so on), and anything else going on.

3) The Local Peoples
This is just this, the ethnic groups found in the core area. It could include other intelligent species as well. They should follow the local culture. If they don’t, follow the section below.

4) Other Peoples and their cultures.
This is just that. Those people on the Fringe of the Core? They are probably different than the character’s people. There should be a section about these people, their differences, and their culture – THAT YOU CAN KNOW.

How do I create a setting and all this material? Well there are any number of ways. I start with a movie blurb to act as the world’s conception. I like using the checklist here so nothing gets forgotten. I can go over this in detail in another post.

Ideally, you should keep your setting history relevant to the chronicle. Some GMs tend to put an encyclopedic amount of work into the setting. This can be handy for the GM, but not for the player. Unless the mythic age impacts your projected chronicle, why would the players care enough to read it. And if they did read all of it, would they still keep reading to get to the piece of the history

Handy Ideas to keep in mind?
High end Big Overview that is brief and to the point. It gives context to everything you will do.
Focused on the Immediate area of action. Then provide some general information on the areas around it

You can use the familiar to explain things. It is like X, except for A, B, C
Games set in the real world are easy to describe, usually. When they are historical or only loosely based on the reality, you get to use the description phrase. Lastly, if it is wildly different, try to anchor the players to things they are familiar with and explain what you can.

Note: You are doing half again the work. The public chronicle packet and the GM’s Packet. Note: As the GM, your game packet might have material that is different than the player's world pack. That is because your packet has what is true, while their packet has was is publicly known. Your packet may or may not be as neat and as organized as the players, but it will be crucial to your game.

You might want to check out the Old checklist to help organize your ideas.


To be continued....
 
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