Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Which comes first, the Setting or the Rules

So I did a little bit of an unscientific poll on Facebook and Twitter yesterday. The question was, what should come first the Setting or the System.

Now, I should clarify this question as what should come first in the book. Would you rather read the Setting first or the System first. I got 17 People who said "Setting," 2 People who said "System" and 5 people who said, "Get it together asshole, find a way to merge the two."

My personal preference goes to Setting first rather than rules. It's one of the reasons why I like the Shadowrun books a lot. I like reading them because the Setting inspires me to figure out nasty, horrible things to do to the players while rules just tell me how it's possible to do nasty horrible things to the players. I tend to feel that I have a pretty good grasp of how, it's the what that needs to be inspired.

How does this apply to what I'm doing? Well I've got two projects currently on the go. The first is the next edition of CyberGeneration (which we're lovingly calling Evolution 3.0) and the other is a fantasy game I'm working on with Geoff Bottone of Slug Fest Games called Critical!: Go Westerly, which I might have talked about once or twice on this blog. Figuring out how we're going to lay out the book is a big deal, because as Adam Jury has complained about frequently you need to know these things before you really get too far in the writing part of the book.

Planning, planning, planning, or something like that. Measure twice and cut a million times because I suck with tools.

One of those expressions.

So with Critical!: Go Westerly we're stuck with introducing a new world to people. What I want to do with this world is actually start writing books and stories using it, because I think it's that entertaining a place. That means I think we need to showcase the world and put it front and centre. I want people to be amused by it, and want to dive into the various places and build their own stories. I want to make it a CC license so that people can write stories, and it's okay for them to write stories. I think it would be a lot of fun. That the pipe dream there.

Pipe dream? Possibly, but I think it's doable. So there.

With CyberGen what I did like about the 2.0 book was that character creation was built right into the book as an adventure. You didn't need any of the stats to start the game and it threw you into conflict right away, running from CorpSec and throwing all the juves together in the same spot. It was a lot of fun. The thing is, I want to try something different with 3.0. I want the characters the have a life before it gets ripped away from them. Make them feel more connected to the world rather than just starting on the run. I mean, it was great and it makes for an awesome con game but it always seemed to drag for me when it came time to transition to a campaign.

However, much like other games where you have a heavy metaplot setting (Looking at Cyberpunk, Shadowrun, Mechwarrior) you need to make sure that people feel engaged in your setting. That they want to invest their time there.

I think that's why the Setting comes before the rules if you can't find a way to integrate the two of them. It is a way to get people engrossed in what your doing in a way that numbers generally don't.

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