Saturday, February 26, 2011

Dawn of Worlds

This weekend is turning out to be much, much busier than I'd expected it to be, so this will probably be the only post this weekend. Sorry.

Last night we played our weekly Skype game, though we started late and ended early and so didn't get a whole lot of gaming done. The PCs are currently in the service of Damon Howell from Haldane because he previously saved them from being executed for invading his house and killing a bunch of his guards. He'd sent them to clear out a goblin warren (The Gray Goblin Warrens from the 2009 OPDC) and, since he'd heard that there had been no further goblin activity for a while (the PCs didn't completely clear it out, but the goblins left instead of sticking around to be slaughtered) he ordered them to return for more tasks. They returned, Damon Howell arranged for Xan the Ranger to have her cursed Buck's Hat of Misery removed by a magic user in his employ, and when the party woke up the next morning, Haldane had been "moved"- the surrounding countryside was completely different. The party chose to investigate a tower continually being struck by lightning in the West (yeah, I know that adventure is supposed to be for 1st level characters, but I don't see that it would really be that much easier for slightly higher-level characters). And the session ended with that.

Flynn, one of my players, though, told me about a world-building tool/RPG called Dawn of Worlds (first link on page, can't miss it). I've only skimmed it briefly, but am intrigued by the premise: a group of players collaboratively create a setting, probably in one session. This is awesome for a few reasons.

One is that it takes most of the hard work of world building away from the referee and gets it done much more quickly, in a fun group setting, than it would have probably gotten done if done just by the referee.

Another is that it makes for a fun, unpredictable setting. I'm a fan of every player, including the referee, getting surprised. Now the setting is the surprise.

Players famously (and generally) don't care about the history of whatever world they are playing in, being interested only if it nets them loot or lets them kill things more effectively. Now they would be emotionally invested in the history of the setting because they wrote it with the group. They'd be especially invested in the parts of history that they individually wrote themselves.

They would also know the history, because they wrote it with the rest of the group. No need to take up gaming time with learning history.

From what I can tell there are only really two disadvantages to the system. One is that the referee can't spring history-based surprises on the players, because they know the history from the point of view of nigh-on-omniscient gods; Hammers of the God, then, is out. The other is that it would be really difficult to play this in a non-table-top setting, like over Skype, although Flynn, who has actually played Dawn of Worlds, said that it might work to play by email if everyone had a program like Paint.

So, yeah, that's what I've got for the weekend. Off to finish a take-home test and drive a few hours to a college friend's wedding!