Saturday, 9 December 2017

Writing Your Own RPG Background Or All Is Vanity

I have been working on what I have called the Viking Game for about five years now even though in my head it's called Northmen. I made a couple of key decisions back when I started the project and I have pretty much stuck with them. The world expands but the central idea does not. Some of this expansion has been down to ideas that I have had and some is down to the figures that I have or have painted during the process.

In the past I have gone as far as writing my own rules so that I could make the world I wanted. These days I more or less stick with the Savage Worlds rules. It's simple and generic enough that it is easy for the players to follow and for me to run. One fairly basic rulebook does all you need it to. If you want a bit more flavour then there are other books to buy but none are major pieces of work. What the game does do is encourage you to use other backgrounds inspired by rules and media that you like as well as creating your own.

This is where the vanity bit comes in.

The game started as a bit of a cobble. I took some inspiration from elsewhere. Computer games, books, regular fantasy, films and RPGs. the only ideas I took from anywhere became section headings but I was clear with myself right from the beginning that I wanted it to be all my own work. You never know, I might get round to publishing it. What I really wanted was a pdf I could give to the players with all the rules in it right from the get go. This kind of happened but having a complete document starting to delay things so I thought I would start with what I had. This was a bit of a mistake but it was one I was prepared to live with.

Over time though I ran into a problem. What I had was great but I just kept tinkering with the book. At the front of the document is a table of contents. This has been a big waste of time as I keep adding things in and deciding that the sections need to go in a different order.

So after a year of cursing my judgement I decided to bite the bullet today. As a way of getting out of painting, I thought I would just get on and chop it into bits.

The core rules haven't changed significantly in well over a year but the background has. There were basically two bits to the background as I saw it. The world (or worlds, all nine of them plus a few extras), the town in which the game was based, it's surrounding region, the kingdom it's part of and then the other peoples of the world. the second part is the sagas and legends for the world. These have now become two separate books.

I like to tinker but in this game it is really about adding  more new bits. The details of the town already amount to about four pages. I expect to extend this so I have allowed space for about a page and a half of extra writing. For the time being I will fill this space up with a few pictures. There is supposed to be a map but there are supposed to be a number of maps. Originally I had planned to put all the maps in an appendix but this is more faff when it comes to rewriting the contents so I will add the map at the end of the section.

The region the town is in is called the Symark. This has had a similar amount of work as the town. Again I can see that this was going to get expanded in the future so I have allowed more space for this and for the map at the end. Early on I did a rough map and then I spent some more time on a more details map. Integrating it into a world map (chunking up) proved to be all but impossible. Starting with a world map, which is at this point not totally fixed, is a better idea. The region fits into the world much better.

The myths is the second big part of what I have been doing. Mostly I trying to ape the myths although I am not averse to taking some myths and bending them to fit into my needs. To my mind at the heart of every good fantasy story and rog scenario is a piece of history or a myth. As I have played about with the world in the game, the myths need to reflect the changes in that world. All of the scenario elements I have planned are also rooted in myths, even some that might take a long time to happen. The build up can be important.

This all plays to my ego. I want to be a good GM and for the players to have "fun" in the worlds I create. As a place to start I want them to have a firm base in the documents I provide. Rather than have a major piece of rambling work, it better to reduce it down into books or supplements. People, even the author, can get their heads around it better.

1 comment:

  1. What do you use to edit? I just use word for my gaming background (currently running at 57 pages and counting...) and if you set the headings correctly and produce a contents page it's easy to update it automatically.