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Author Topic: Sandbox Experiment : World of Wonder [3.5] HAS BEEN UPDATED  (Read 12635 times)
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woodenbandman
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« on: May 17, 2009, 11:49:53 AM »

EDIT:
Disclaimer: If there is any question in your mind as to whether or not you are a member of this game, please leave. This thread will contain spoilers.

I have a problem that loads of other people undoubtedly have: I'm not very good at world building. I can't really build a coherent world with three-dimensional peoples in it from the ground up. Also I'm not very good at generating adventure hooks. Further, a few of the people who would play in this game aren't so great at writing adventure hooks/backstories into their character. So, rather than try to force everyone to be good at it, I'm going to try a little social experiment, which I like to call the World of Wonder.

First, I'll sit down all players interested in a game. I'll ask them how broad they want the scope to be, whether it be spanning galaxies or just local. This determines how much work they have to do in order to write up a game. The next step is to get each of them to draw part of the world. I will have graph paper sheets for each person, and each person will get one or two sheets that they need to fill up with the exception of the edges with terrain (edges left blank to about 1" so that I can connect the pieces).

Then they switch pages around, shifting to the left or something. Each person will then be responsible for putting one town or kingdom, depending, on that piece of the world. Their kingdom may not extend onto anyone else's paper without their permission. They'll need to flesh out the kingdom or town a little; there'll be a little questionnaire about what they create: how they make money, how their government is, what the leader's like, stuff like that.

We now have a fairly complex world. We could have political turmoil, if we want, or the players can make places that get along.

At this point, they will switch town statistics with another player. The players will now have to make a character who originates from the town that they receive. They'll have to work that town into their backstory. This will allow them some leeway to define the smaller characteristics of the town: NPCs, shops, guilds, criminals, the mayor, events from its past (orc attacks, great parties), holidays, as much as they want.

Also thinking about having this included: Each player comes up with one NPC for every person that is at the table. Just a basic idea, nothing fancy. These NPCs are then given, one to each player, to be incorporated, at least passingly, in the character's backstory. Maybe they were childhood friends; maybe they were childhood rivals; maybe their character was nice to the NPC once because they were lonely on the teeter-totter.

Now that our world has been filled, more or less, with good stuff, we need to put some of the bad stuff in. Each player will have to come up with an NPC concept for an antagonist, in secret. These will then be shuffled up and dealt out to the players like cards. Each player will have to incorporate the NPC they received, at least passingly, in their backstory. They were attacked by the NPC barbarian warlord's forces, they've fought the NPC all their lives, the NPC is their character's best friend, or he just used to own a store in their town. They should include it enough that they'd have heard of him, and depending on how much they put him into their story, they'll get free knowledge points related to knowing about that NPC. Also the more the NPC's in their story, the more crucial he'll be to the DM's overall plot of destruction.

The players will then each skim through the Monster Manuals and pick out a few creatures that they'd like to fight or otherwise encounter (in secret, of course). I'll probably put some CR guidelines; so you could pick dragons, but not Great Wyrm dragons, and the Tarrasque is out unless you're extremely patient.

So now it's starting to look like we've got a world. Well, that's not entirely true: where's the evil plot? That's the beauty of this experiment. There's no forced evil plot. The plot hooks are all right there. There's no need to toss an Evisceration Plague at the PCs, because they've already given me firepower to throw at them. They've given me the antagonists; they've given me the monsters; they've given me the things that they care about, which I can threaten with death. I don't have to hand anything to them, because they've already got it.

This is why I think the experiment will work: because it's truly the players' world. Every one of them can look at a part of the world and say: Holy shit, man! I created that! Look how good it looks! They'll want to go to the towns that they've created, fight the NPCs that they dreamed up, encounter the strange and wonderful creatures that most interest them. As the DM, I don't need to work much harder to accommodate tastes of the players, because they've made their world in their own image. It'll be beautiful.

As a DM, I'm not sure whether or not to participate in the worldbuilding or not. If I did, I'd be doing exactly what they're doing. Maybe I'll come up with examples to show them. Also considering giving them a little questionnaire for their characters, similar to this one: http://www.gather.com/viewArticle.jsp?articleId=281474976908598 , but maybe a little shorter.

Thoughts on all of this? Things I should include in this? Should I just not do it?
« Last Edit: May 30, 2009, 06:47:18 PM by woodenbandman » Logged

j0lt
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« Reply #1 on: May 17, 2009, 12:10:19 PM »

Sounds interesting, I think it'd work best with a group of players who are also DMs, but it's definitely a good idea!
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woodenbandman
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« Reply #2 on: May 17, 2009, 12:16:43 PM »

I'm going to try to streamline the process as much as possible, which includes defining how much work has to go into an NPC or a town. What would you suggest?
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AfterCrescent
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« Reply #3 on: May 17, 2009, 02:26:56 PM »

This sounds awesome. I'd make sure, before rotating, that everyone decides how the map pieces connect. That way if kingdoms are supposed to cross boundaries or have rivals, you know how and where they meet.

If your group is not full of world building experienced people, I'd recommend joining in on the fun to give examples. Likewise if it's a group of close friends, join in and have fun with them, too.

It's probably also a really, really good idea to have the random tables for town creation and a random table for NPC concept generation for people that get writers block or aren't as skilled as others.  Just to give them a bit of a nudge and streamline things.
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Prime32
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« Reply #4 on: May 17, 2009, 02:35:48 PM »

So, do you want to want to try this out for the anime game then?
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woodenbandman
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« Reply #5 on: May 17, 2009, 06:46:32 PM »

AC those are good ideas. Thanks.

That sounds like a lot of fun prime.
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veekie
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« Reply #6 on: May 18, 2009, 01:26:46 AM »

This sounds incredibly cool, though it'd take a while to setup for the game.
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"Just what do you think the moon up in the sky is? Everyone sees that big, round shiny thing and thinks there must be something round up there, right? That's just silly. The truth is much more awesome than that. You can almost never see the real Moon, and its appearance is death to humans. You can only see the Moon when it's reflected in things. And the things it reflects in, like water or glass, can all be broken, right? Since the moon you see in the sky is just being reflected in the heavens, if you tear open the heavens it's easy to break it~"
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Epigenentheto, apoleia keraune hos timeis pteirei.
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woodenbandman
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« Reply #7 on: May 18, 2009, 09:24:34 AM »

Actually that's a problem that is solved too. Look at what I'm asking for: NPCs, both friend and foe. Countries, which are potentially hostile against each other. Monsters that they want to fight. The work for this is divided up among all the players, which means not only do I NOT have to do it, but this will also bring up interesting plot points. A character from the kingdom of Sacred Steel, a harsh dictatorship populated mostly by Warforged, is conscripted into the army by an NPC made by another person, and said NPC is enacting a secret plot featuring spellstitched warforged (chosen by a third person) to conquer a country created by a 4th person...

Odd combinations will come up in this game. The idea is to take what you receive from others and make a story out of it. It should turn out to be great fun.
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« Reply #8 on: May 18, 2009, 11:20:45 AM »

It should. And likely will.

However, I think what veekie was saying is that actual setup will take a while. You'll probably have anywhere from 1-3 full sessions doing world generation before you actually play. That's a bit of a setup for people wanting to kill things. Wink
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woodenbandman
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« Reply #9 on: May 18, 2009, 01:03:16 PM »

You might be right. I hadn't actually planned for it to take all that long, but it looks like it potentially could.

I was thinking that the players would give basic stuff, like "Small hunting town with a corrupt mayor" When it comes down to the towns and NPCs, and then when they're coming up with their character concepts (which they won't have before they come to the game), they'll define the statistics a bit more. Say one player receives these things from the group which he must incorporate into his backstory:

Metropolitan free market society with generous and just leader;

Nice NPCs:
Leader of huntsman's guild;
Old female wizard with a short temper;
Happy-go-lucky soldier who can't keep his mouth shut at inappropriate times;

Enemy: Lawful Evil cleric who hates freedom and fun.

He has the freedom to generate as much or as little inside the town as he wants.

So he could have maybe joined the huntsman's guild at the behest of the benevolent Leader, even though his mom, the old female wizard with a short temper, wanted him to follow the magic path. His friend, the Happy-go-lucky soldier who can't help but make inappropriate jokes, helps him on hunts from time to time. The guild is often plagued by the church, and the cleric often comes around the hunter's guild to bother the people there.

Or he could invert any number of those: he could be constantly pestered by the soldier, because he doesn't like working with him in the army, and the wizard could be the king's advisor, and the huntmaster could be his father, or he could be a robin-hood figure who helps them attack the enemy city, where the evil cleric resides.

I'm thinking that I'm going to make a big list of possible characteristics a person could have, such as occupation, traits, appearance, to help people generate some NPCs faster. I'll start the list on the next post.
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woodenbandman
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« Reply #10 on: May 18, 2009, 01:05:10 PM »



Town Characteristics:
Size:
Village
Small Town
Town
Small City
Large City
Metropolis

Economy:
Farming
Hunting
Trade
Manufacturing
Tourism

Government:
Communism
Dictatorship
Democracy
Socialism
Town Elder Council
Theocracy(non-specific)
Really Crazy Theocracy(non-specific)

Alignment:
Lawful Good
Good Lawful
Chaotic Good
Good Chaotic
Neutral Good
Neutral
Evil Chaotic
Chaotic Evil
Neutral Evil
Lawful Evil
Evil Lawful

Diversity:
Almost Exclusively (race)
Mostly (race)
Split (2 races)
Split (3 races)
Evenly divided (all races)

NPC Characteristics
Occupation(not class):
Politician
Farmer
Skilled Laborer(Profession skill)
Musician(Perform Skill)
Hunter
Warrior
Nomad
Business Owner(business)

Gender:
Male
Female
Is Secretly A Doppleganger

Race:
Human
Orc
Halfling
Gnome
Half-Orc
Dwarf
Maenad
Xeph
Elan
Half-Giant
Goliath
Any Other Race

Alignment:
Lawful Good
Good Lawful
Chaotic Good
Good Chaotic
Neutral Good
Neutral
Evil Chaotic
Chaotic Evil
Neutral Evil
Lawful Evil
Evil Lawful

Personality Adjectives(pick a few):
adorable
agreeable
alluring
ambitious
brave
bright
calm
charming
cheerful
confident
courageous
cultured
dashing
dazzling
debonair
determined
eager
energetic
fearless
friendly
funny
generous
gentle
good
immature
impartial
kind
kind-hearted
knowledgeable
likeable
lovely
loving
lucky
mature
nice
peaceful
plucky
protective
proud
quiet
righteous
romantic
sedate
sensitive
shrewd
silly
sincere
skillful
talented
tough
trustworthy
vigorous
vivacious
warm
wise
witty
zealous

abrasive
abusive
angry
arrogant
callous
clumsy
combative
confused
cowardly
crazy
creepy
cruel
cynical
dangerous
deceitful
depressed
disillusioned
disturbed
envious
evil
fanatical
fierce
foolish
frantic
greedy
grouchy
hesitant
ignorant
jealous
lazy
malicious
mysterious
nervous
obnoxious
panicky
possessive
ruthless
sad
scary
secretive
selfish
silly
squeamish
strange
sulky
tense
thick-skinned
threatening
uptight
vague
vengeful
venomous
volatile
vulgar
wary
wicked


(I think that it might make sense to have them just pick adjectives and let the people who put them into your backstory fill in the other details. Thoughts?

« Last Edit: May 25, 2009, 10:26:08 PM by woodenbandman » Logged

veekie
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« Reply #11 on: May 18, 2009, 01:45:05 PM »

You could definitely speed the process up with templates containing the minimum requirements for the contributions(mainly to help the less adept players with worldgen, the skilled writers do whatever they want anyway). And heck, craft religions the same way, you could wind up with an interesting mix of gods.
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The mind transcends the body.
It's also a little cold because of that.
Please get it a blanket.

I wish I could read your mind,
I can barely read mine.

"Skynet begins to learn at a geometric rate. It becomes self-aware at 2:14 a.m. Eastern time, August 29th. At 2:15, it begins rolling up characters."

"Just what do you think the moon up in the sky is? Everyone sees that big, round shiny thing and thinks there must be something round up there, right? That's just silly. The truth is much more awesome than that. You can almost never see the real Moon, and its appearance is death to humans. You can only see the Moon when it's reflected in things. And the things it reflects in, like water or glass, can all be broken, right? Since the moon you see in the sky is just being reflected in the heavens, if you tear open the heavens it's easy to break it~"
-Ibuki Suika, on overkill

To sumbolaion diakoneto moi, basilisk ouranionon.
Epigenentheto, apoleia keraune hos timeis pteirei.
Hekatonkatis kai khiliakis astrapsato.
Khiliarkhou Astrape!

There is no higher price than 'free'.

"I won't die. I've been ordered not to die."
woodenbandman
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« Reply #12 on: May 21, 2009, 10:35:12 AM »

Okay those lists are fairly complete. Any other lists/stuff I should make?
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« Reply #13 on: May 23, 2009, 04:49:49 AM »

Okay those lists are fairly complete. Any other lists/stuff I should make?

Upload your world here for us to see how the experiment went.
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woodenbandman
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« Reply #14 on: May 23, 2009, 10:26:58 AM »

The creation of the world is delayed until next week because of unforseen birthday parties. I swear, this guys is the only guy who could possibly make a case for being more disorganized than me.
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woodenbandman
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« Reply #15 on: May 25, 2009, 09:28:47 AM »

Update: World of Wonder will proceed as planned tomorrow, because we called an extra game session this week.
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woodenbandman
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« Reply #16 on: May 30, 2009, 05:58:36 PM »

MEGAUPDATE: Well, the whole thing went off splendidly. There were a few hitches in the thing, such as people jumping too far ahead in the process a few times, but it worked out fine. Our world is now populated by 6 beautiful nations. Just look at them:


Here's a run down of all of the cities, and overall countries. Editing ongoing

Top Left country: Owned by K

Ruling Party: Wisemen + King
Outlook on others: Generally good unless met with violence/douchebaggery.
Economy: Trade, main export is agricultural products
Religion: All are welcome
Alignment: Neutral Good
Dominant Race: Humans
Capital: Jaki-Gren


Little Delving: Owned by C
Population: 200,000
Alignment: CG
Economy: Farming
Dominant Race: Halflings
Religion: Yondalla

Farming community run by halflings. They make a great deal of the country's exports, and are no doubt well-compensated.

Charman: Owned by B
Population: 300,000
Alignment: Neutral Good
Economy: Trade
Dominant Race: Diverse
Religion: Diverse

Main trading hub between the nations of Jaki-Gren, Jarrinth, and Kalibri. A great many races come through here as they find themselves compelled to stay. Is it the city's charm? Or is it the fact that they come here poor, with no means to return home?

Corgalla: Owned by J
Pop: 15,000
Alignment: L/N
Economy: Magocracy
Dominant Race: Goliaths
Religion: Officially secular, but generally accepting.

A mountain community of goliaths dedicated to unlocking the secrets that are held within each creature that lives. Psionics and Incarnum are both extremely common among even the commonfolk here, and they are widely regarded as among the finest teachers of the psionic arts.
X Gang: Owned by L
Population: 9
Alignment: Chaotic Money-grubbers
Economy: Weapon Trade
Dominant Race: Humans/Warforged
Religion: None

Roving gang who specialize in the crafting of fine weapons. If a finer weapon is to be found, it's probably a fake.


Kalibri: Owned by C
Capital City: Helix
Ruling Party: Psiocracy
Alignment: Lawful Neutral
Economy: Technological resources, minerals, psionic items, [sic]archaeology.
Religion: Shi-Ka/Shi-lom
International relations: Trade flows, but they are standoffish, and perhaps even arrogant.
Populations: 987,000 (Citizenry: 4,000)
Dominant Race: Gnomes/Half-Daelkyr/Pseudonatural things

Haken: Owned By K
Population: 11,000
Alignment: Neutral-goodish
Economy: Mining
Dominant Race: Humans

This small mining colony of slaves fuels the majority of Kalibri's forges.
Probably gonna edit this to be Elans.
Tarrash: Owned by J
Population: 15,000
Alignment: Neutral
Economy: Trade Outlet
Dominant Race: Gnomes.

Main trade station between Jaki-gren and Jarrinth. Little more than a giant port.
Kalaras: Owned by B
Population: 300,000
Alignment: Neutral
Economy: Production
Dominant Race: Elans

City where the non-aristocratic psionic masses are put to work. Due to their ability to sustain themselves for long periods of time without rest, these citizens are ideal for working in the production of psionic items and mundane technological manufacturing.
Kiske Mansion: Owned by L
Population: 10
Alignment: N
Economy: Training
Dominant Race: Humans

Hidden out of sight of the overlords of Helix, anyone brave enough to venture out to the infamous Kiske mansion will find that there are 9 masters (and one young apprentice) who are the most renowned of the martial artists of the world. Newcomers are subjected to various rigorous testing to guage their aptitude, and those unworthy are cast out.


Jamaka/Lothos: Owned by B
Jamaka:
Ruling Party: Kings and Nobles
Economy: War
Capital Size: 500,000
Religion: Crusades era Christianity
Race: Dragonborn

Lothos:
Knighthood, Kings,
Economy: Trade
Capital Size: 300,000
Religion: Diverse
Race: Mostly Humans

What was formerly a united country split into two nations to avoid a brutal civil war. The nation of Jamaka is the smaller of the two in terms of population, and is the more peaceful nation. The country of Lothos sprang up from a strange phenomenon of dragon descended children being born, implanted with the need for battle. The fact that Helix had been an annoyance and generally evil-ish the whole time led to almost two thirds of the lower class rising up and demanding that they go to war against Helix. To save themselves, the upper class Jamakans split off from Lothos and now live in relative peace with them.

Jeral: Owned by C
Ruling Class: Barbarians
Outlook: Rape, Kill, Pillage, and Burn.
Economy: Plunderin'
Size: 5,000
Religion: Thor
Race: Half Giants/Neanderthal Dragonborns (they'll keep Powerful build and the level adjustment)

Cut and dry barbarian clan. Hired for their combat ferocity by the newly formed Jamakan government.

The Hole: Owned by J
Outlook: Peaceful
Economy: Shroom Farming
Size: 20,000
Religion: Nature Worship
Race: Desert Kobold

Not the type for politics of any kind, these friendly kobolds treat all that come in with great hospitality. Assuming they can fit through their tunnels, of course. Their main sustenance comes from the natural colony of mushrooms several miles long deep under the ground in their desert home. Their caves are rumored to be linked to some of those in other countries, and even cross continents.

Zombolt: Owned by K
Outlook: Rather peaceful
Economy: Crafting
Religion: Officially Secular
Race: Humans

Can't have a war machine without regular maintenance! The citizens of Zombolt were neutral in the conflict, and make their money by crafting the spears, axes, shields, armors, and any other thing required by the citizens of Jamaka(And jamaka knows that their quality is unsurpassed by anyone who is in a position to trade with them).

Jiriki: Owned By L
Peaceful
Economy: [sic] Tracking
Size: 3(this has to be a typo)
Religion: None
Race: Cat Folk

I honestly don't know what this place is.



Starstown? Owned by L[/color[
Capital Population: 40,000
Economy: Trade
Religion: Alchemy (as in they worship a guy named Alchemist)
Ruler: This town is a subsidiary of Royality.
Outlook: We welcome any and all good fighters.



Roth Island: Owned by L
Race: Sex Hungry Female Humans
Population: 90,000+
Economy: Sex
Religion: Sex
Country Status: Welcome to anyone
Ruler: The 3 roths.

This is the hub for all of the world's prostitution needs. Prostitutes are trained continually on such techniques as deep throating, sex positions, and collecting their money. Anyone who doesn't pay faces the wrath of the three Roths, who proceed to kick them out.
Royality: Owned by L
Race: Human
Population: 12,000
Economy: They keep everyone else's money.
Country Status: No money, no honey.

Welcome to the island of Royality, where everything is made of gold, decadence, and naked women.
[/url]
Slugfest: Owned by L
Population: 50,000
Economy: Fighting and Parties
Religion: Fighting
Ruler: This country is a subsidiary of starstown,
Country Status: ?
Dominant Race: Diverse

This place is like fight club. Rule 1: you don't talk about Slugfest. Rule 2: you don't talk about slugfest. Rule 3: if you lose, you suck and die of shame.

Forsako: Owned by B
Population: 0-?
Ali: Chaotic Neutral (in a "We love you all") way.
Economy: Entertainment
Race: Undead
Religion: Unofficially Secular

Welcome to Forsako, where we party hard! Some people might want to take a break from the party. I say you can sleep when the Radiant Servant of Pelor uses his Greater Turning and destroys you forever.

Arachnis: Owned by C
Population: 972,000
Alignment: LE
Economy: Mercenaries
Dominant Race: Spider people
Religion: Alchemist

Cold and calculating, these assassins and/or warriors will kill you for a nickel, and charge interest on that nickel compounded by the logarithm of base e
.
Zenger: Owned by K
Population: 205,000.
Alignment: Neutral
Economy: Agricultural Trade
Dominant Race: Bunny people
Religion: Officially Secular

This small island has such a wealth of agricultural products needed in this nation (especially oranges, to prevent the scurvy), that they've actually built a bridge over the several mile long gap between the island and the land land. The construction was almost certainly a result of sheer testosterone and willpower on the part of the undersexed members of Slugfest, who as a rule don't get many women through their town and live just long enough to go crazy from such.

Nameless city: Owned by J
Population: Unknown
Alignment: C/G
Economy: Thiefocracy
Dominant Race: Changelings
Religion: Togetherness and love.

By some cruel twist of fate the inhabitants of this town are all changelings, and none of them know it. This leads to a workweek of stealing anything from anyone at all available, and a church meeting on the 7th day of that week where nobody is ever the same person twice, nobody goes to the same church twice, and nobody dares say anything.



Unnamed Nation: By B, C, K, L
This nation will be defined by the sum of its parts.

Xeno: Owned by K
Population: 30,000
Race: Humans
Economy: Trade
Religion: None

Veraces: Owned by B
Pop 50,000
Race: Sexy things
Ali: Sexy
Economy: Prostitution
Religion: None

Competes with Roth Island for the dollar of the wayfaring man-meat. Said to be of greatly superior quality, but once people find out that many of the customers have been dominated and forced to say as such, they stay away.

Insmuth: Owned by C
Population: 5300
Race: Humanoid Skum
Ali: Neutral Evil
Economy: Fishing/salvage
Religion: Cthulhu

I'm told this is straight out of something lovecraftian.

Gigi's: Owned by L
Population: 15
Race: Humans
Alignment: Neutral
Econ: Weapon Trade
Religion: Fighting

Yet another weapon store city. I'm seriously thinking of moving these into cities created by other people and/or player L.

Whew, what a load of stuff. This doesn't even take into account the NPCs coming up next post.

EDIT: Yay for color coding.
« Last Edit: May 30, 2009, 07:21:43 PM by woodenbandman » Logged

Prime32
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« Reply #17 on: May 30, 2009, 06:49:19 PM »

You might want to fix those spoilers there - some inadvertant nesting.

I lol'd at some of the names.
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The tier system in a nutshell:
Tier 6: A cartographer.
Tier 5: An expert cartographer or a decent marksman.
Tier 4: An expert marksman.
Tier 3: An expert marksman, cartographer and chef who can tie strong knots and is trained in hostage negotiation or a marksman so good he can shoot down every bullet fired by a minigun while armed with a rusted single-shot pistol that veers to the left.
Tier 2: Someone with teleportation, mind control, time manipulation, intangibility, the ability to turn into an exact duplicate of anything, or the ability to see into the future with perfect accuracy.
Tier 1: Someone with teleportation, mind control, time manipulation, intangibility, the ability to turn into an exact duplicate of anything and the ability to see into the future with perfect accuracy.
woodenbandman
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« Reply #18 on: May 30, 2009, 07:22:46 PM »

Hehehe. I color coded the whole thing. The stuff in black is mine. I'm especially fond of that city full of Changelings. That could be a setup for quite a fuckin' nightmare.
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AfterCrescent
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AfterCrescent
« Reply #19 on: May 31, 2009, 01:26:35 AM »

I'd love a rundown of how it went, if you remember.
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