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Is there such a thing as...
Anonymous 05/31/14(Sat)03:51 UTC+1 No.32470086 Report

Is there such a thing as "too much" worldbuilding in a tabletop game?

Back in college, our Forever DM was a guy who possessed entire binders worth of setting stuff that he had put together over the years - not only could this guy produce at least a page of fluff for every province of every state of every country mapped in the known world of the setting we played in, but he had charts detailing local and global economies, hundreds of years of histories, family trees for virtually every important person around, and an atlas he had paid a geography major to help him write at hand just in case a player wanted it. It all stemmed from a desire to have a "complete" world for the players to insert themselves in when they ran games.

What always impressed me about this was that in spite of what I can only assume was thousands of pages of setting notes at hand, he never overwhelmed us with this information. It was there if the campaign or our characters called for it, but he never shoved it in our face. He'd give us a rundown of the world at large, we would pick a general are where we wanted to have an adventure in, and he'd produce the cliff-notes version of that area's history, then produce the relevant notes for specific areas and politics during character creation.

In one instance, while playing a doctor, he gave me three documents written by in-universe physicians about theories in medicine, telling me it was "just for flavor if I wanted to read through it and get ideas from it, but not necessary to read."

It always impressed me how prepared this guy was, and he was surprisingly flexible for how much he had written up. Because of this guy I've always figured that you can never have a world that's TOO fleshed out, so long as you don't overload the players with useless trivia, but I was wondering what you guys think. Is it possible for world-building to reach a point where it becomes a restrictive, or is it up to how the DM plays it off?
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Anonymous 05/31/14(Sat)04:10 UTC+1 No.32470585 Report

bump?
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Anonymous 05/31/14(Sat)04:13 UTC+1 No.32470670 Report

I think you're right, OP, you can never have too much as long as your DM is flexible and not overbearing.
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Anonymous 05/31/14(Sat)04:17 UTC+1 No.32470782 Report

>>32470086

For what I can understand, this guy had all his worldbuilding necessities completed before the start of the game. He doesn't felt the need to project it all on the players, or fear that you would "dessecrate" his world. For him, it was over, there is only the game now.

The greater problem with those world building gm's is that they want to be feel like writers but never write things out. They want to have this perfect little world but never work on him, they want the players to do his work by the insane standards he has in his head.

That guy you talked about had moved on from this stage, he just want to play a nice game on this world he made, he could do it on FR or Golarion and use it just the same, because the pleasure that he could bring for building that world was over, and he a was left with a completed job.
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Anonymous 05/31/14(Sat)04:23 UTC+1 No.32470906 Report

Completely depends on your players. If they don't take the game seriously and just want to screw around to much world building can just get in the way. But those are the only people I can see who would have an issue with world building.
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Anonymous 05/31/14(Sat)04:26 UTC+1 No.32470996 Report

>>32470086
You can never have TOO much worldbuilding - unless you become so attached to it you're not willing to break it or let it be ignored; if you've put so much effort into detailing the culture and building of this city, are you going to force the PCs to go on a sight-seeing tour of it so you can tell them all about how cool it is? Are you going to stop them from 'wasting' all that effort when they set the city on fire without ever seeing the inside, rendering it all irrelevant? Are you going to feel burnt out because of all the work you did for a pretend universe your players mostly don't care about?

Your DM was an excellent example of how to do loadsaworldbuilding correctly- and when done correctly, it can be absolutely fucking brilliant - but it CAN go wrong.
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Anonymous 05/31/14(Sat)04:27 UTC+1 No.32471037 Report

>>32470086
You can never have too much worldbuilding, but the more you do, the easier it is to fall into the many pitfalls your DM meticulously avoided. It's easy to fall in love with your world and all the work you've done and turn the game into a sight-seeing tour and exposition dump instead of an adventure.
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Anonymous 05/31/14(Sat)04:31 UTC+1 No.32471160 Report

>>32470996
If you have a fleshed out enough world burning down a town can have serious consequences and be a whole campaign in itself. Your situation isn't really world building and more or less a showcase. I knew a DM similar to OP, he had a giant map with a completely realized world, that constantly grew, you could go to a mountain and find the sword of your past adventurer who was slayed by giants, and find the giants are still living there, there was political plots and invasions happening on the other side of the world you didn't even know about, it was all a moving world, and his depth of lore only made it stronger.
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Anonymous 05/31/14(Sat)04:36 UTC+1 No.32471259 Report

In addition, it must be pointed out that an unfortunate amount of GMs who attempt such things...well...

It can eat you alive. Sometimes it's the result of a driven mind with a hobby they enjoy, and sometimes it's the result of a broken mind obsessing over a project.

He sounds like *probably* he managed the first one, because the latter sort tends into all sorts of other problems too that often (though not always) manifest in the kinds of ways mentioned already.
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Anonymous 05/31/14(Sat)04:37 UTC+1 No.32471286 Report

I wanna build like this, but I honestly don't know how I should go about doing the geography. I'm thinking the tectonic plates first, but how would those organically form?
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Anonymous 05/31/14(Sat)04:38 UTC+1 No.32471304 Report

>>32471160
That's the good way to do it, yes.

The bad way to do it is when you fall in love with your lore, and you love it too much to break it. I have never actually had this problem in RPGs - I've never had a GM who did much of any worldbuilding at all - but it's a problem I'm very well familiar with with fantasy writing.
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Anonymous 05/31/14(Sat)04:39 UTC+1 No.32471351 Report

>>32471286
Don't worry about that. Just kinda draw a network of squiggly lines, then draw arrows on them to show which way they're moving. Use this as a rough guide as to kinda-sorta where your deep ocean valleys and mountain ranges and islands are gonna be. Then draw more squiggly lines, based on that. These are your continents.
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Anonymous 05/31/14(Sat)04:43 UTC+1 No.32471459 Report

>>32470086
This is what my group needs. This right here. Is there any way you would let copies be made of your friends works? My group is fairly new and I know would LOVE to have something even close to this.
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Anonymous 05/31/14(Sat)04:44 UTC+1 No.32471482 Report

>>32471351
After that, throw in the Hadley cells. This will tell you where your ocean gyres and wind currents are going to be, more or less - this will let you work out the temperature and precipitation and weather and shit, mostly. Oh, and it'll be important for trade. Remember that rain shadows are a thing. Don't be afraid to fiddle things around, though - try looking at analogous bits of Earth's climate and continent shapes as well.

Then add in some rivers and lakes - remember, rivers usually start in the mountains, always run downhill to the ocean (unless WIZARDS or something), and don't generally merge two rivers into one.

Follow the water. Cities and civilizations usually arise along rivers, because of the fresh water and trade. Look at history!
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Anonymous 05/31/14(Sat)04:44 UTC+1 No.32471483 Report

>>32470086
Was this guy some sort of genetically engineered DM automaton?

What did he get out of it?
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Anonymous 05/31/14(Sat)04:46 UTC+1 No.32471528 Report

>>32471459
Play pendragon.
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Anonymous 05/31/14(Sat)04:46 UTC+1 No.32471535 Report

>>32470086
This guy sounds downright autistic, but in a hardworking, dedicated sort of way. If what you say is true, this guy might be the greatest DM of all time (dedication-wise).

>>32471459
Seconded
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Anonymous 05/31/14(Sat)04:48 UTC+1 No.32471571 Report

>>32471351
>>32471482
Or, hell, you don't even need to do that. Does your game actually have to take place over an entire PLANET? Most of human history didn't. Maybe just stare at maps for a bit, then draw some nice-looking squiggly lines for just a continent or whatever else your game's taking place in.
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Anonymous 05/31/14(Sat)04:59 UTC+1 No.32471833 Report

>>32470086
I want to flesh out a setting I'm working on. For me, I want to do exactly what your GM does. "Here's some cliff notes on where your character is from, and some little background info on the race. If you wanna flesh out your character a little more go ahead and read up, but I won't expect anything from here out of you, except that you fit the basic physical description of what you picked."

Everyone assumes I'm gonna make it my little baby, my little perfect diamond that nobody can ever defile but everyone should be impressed by. And really I think I'm falling into that pitfall sometimes. Granted, I'm not 100% sure. I'm not getting mad because they aren't impressed by X gary stu NPC or that nobody wants to play any of my horrible brands of space furry, I'm just kinda sad that whenever I try to run for people, all I get is a session or two of people running around being space racist, and getting mad when a birdman eventually gets tired of their shit and decks one in the face/calls them speciesist pricks. If people decided to run with it instead of just calling me a dick.

Sadly, I can't really run right now anyways. I get stress headaches at the slightest provocation, plus I have some serious anxiety issues that make it a chore to force myself to write anything down.

It doesn't help me that as a player all I get are murderhobo-thons where my fluffier characters get turned into filets within a few sessions.
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Anonymous 05/31/14(Sat)05:44 UTC+1 No.32472925 Report

>>32471571
I kinda wanna do one where the party does travel at least a good portion of the world, but that's the easy part as I can usually bullshit that. But one of my players is autistic (diagnosed) and wants to know reasonable locations where his character can come from, then more details so he can shape his character more.

And even though I'd be using this world in games, I just wanna practice writing fluff so I don't have to stop and make sure one bullshit doesn't contradict another bullshit.
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Anonymous 05/31/14(Sat)05:47 UTC+1 No.32472983 Report

>>32472925
>But one of my players is autistic (diagnosed) and wants to know reasonable locations where his character can come from, then more details so he can shape his character more.

I remember needing to do that. "How the hell can I make a backstory without knowing exactly what the world looks like? I can't just make something up!"
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Anonymous 05/31/14(Sat)05:56 UTC+1 No.32473155 Report

>>32472983
To be fair, half the group (myself included) are aspies, and the rest of the group has some sort of mental dysfunction.

But I wouldn't dislike building a world, keeping notes about a world would be great in case I forget something of my own world.
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Anonymous 05/31/14(Sat)08:36 UTC+1 No.32476079 Report

>>32470086
Sounds like a good GM, anon. Although I worry about how he's spending his free time.
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Anonymous 05/31/14(Sat)08:38 UTC+1 No.32476104 Report

>My face when I have a small notebook filled to bursting with setting info
>Post-its with Addendums and additions
>Power players, factions, etc.
>All for a low sci-fi game I may never run

ITS FUN AS FUCK

I LOVE WRITING
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Anonymous 05/31/14(Sat)15:15 UTC+1 No.32479548 Report

>>32470086
>In one instance, while playing a doctor, he gave me three documents written by in-universe physicians about theories in medicine

Your GM sounds cool as shit. That's attention to detail right there.
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Anonymous 05/31/14(Sat)16:03 UTC+1 No.32480015 Report

>>32470086
I have quite an amount of fluff for my little setting like the DM in your story, OP. Mostly because I really love to write.
But my friends don't ever play anything other than 4th Edition.
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Anonymous 05/31/14(Sat)16:07 UTC+1 No.32480059 Report

>>32470782
>>32470086

I'd be a little afraid a DM like that would have a breakdown if the players did something massively derailing that changed his lovingly crafted setting beyond recognition.

Maybe he could roll with it, maybe not. Always hard to tell.
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Blackheart 05/31/14(Sat)16:10 UTC+1 No.32480087 Report

>>32476104
You are my brother and or sister.
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Anonymous 05/31/14(Sat)16:11 UTC+1 No.32480092 Report

Tell me, OP, does your GM dress up like a giant bat and haunt the night when he's not making more of this world?
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Anonymous 05/31/14(Sat)16:11 UTC+1 No.32480096 Report

>>32472983

Sometimes, a player writing a decent, detailed backstory ends up doing some of the DM's worldbuilding for them.

If your character is the only one in the party from Wheristan, a good DM will let you figure out the bits of Wheristan culture and history relevant to your character.
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