Wildcard
 member, 1023 posts
Tue 26 Oct 2021
at 17:22
Players Helping With Worldbuidling?
A little while back I was thinking of running a game under a system where the players helped with worldbuidling. Basically they were all going to make up a franchise in a fictional video-game crossover thing and the franchise history that might effect it. But I'm not sure if a game system would be compatible with that idea.

 I've done this kind of thing before. I ran a superhero game a long time ago that had a worldbuidling thread that was basically there to make sure nobody contradicted anyone else's history in their origin, because it was a very sandbox type game. But that was freeform, and freeform games are very much collaborative writing projects.

 Has anyone else let players help with worldbuilding aside from just their characters? How did it go? Did you use a dice-based system when you did this, and did it effect it at all? Thank you.
evileeyore
 member, 570 posts
 GURPS GM and Player
 Joined 20150819
Tue 26 Oct 2021
at 17:27
Players Helping With Worldbuidling?
Wildcard:
Has anyone else let players help with worldbuilding aside from just their characters? How did it go?

A few times.  It goes variably... some Players are more into being a part of world building, and some are decidedly against it.

As with all things, know your Players, or at least (on a medium like this where that is difficult to impossible) advertise properly in advance.

quote:
Did you use a dice-based system when you did this, and did it effect it at all?

I have no idea what you mean by this.  Do you mean were "dice involved in the world building somehow"?  No.  No incentives either, it was just as it's generally set up in FATE, "create [X] number of places, people, organizations, etc".

Sometimes those creations are tied directly to the Character via advantages or abilities, but usually not.
engine
 member, 860 posts
 There's a brain alright
 but it's made out of meat
Tue 26 Oct 2021
at 21:27
Players Helping With Worldbuidling?
In reply to Wildcard (msg # 1):

I don't think of it as "worldbuilding" because ei dislike worldbuilding, but I like to I volve the players in the establishment of details about the game world. I find that people are better at remembering things they were involved in creating than things they have only been told. So, it helps them to provide details like names and relationships, though pretty much anything is open.

Not everyone enjoys participating in that kind of thing, though, so I never force anyone.
deadtotheworld22
 member, 162 posts
Tue 26 Oct 2021
at 22:26
Players Helping With Worldbuidling?
With the application of the usual caveats of 'It depends', I've done it a couple of times and it can work well, especially because as the GM, you tend to be quite immersed in the canon and have a very set view of what it is, and dipping someone new into it can bring new ideas forward which can be beneficial to the setting and give the players some additional investment in the world.

Certainly in small games (1-2 players), it's something I tend to be more interested in allowing, because it's a lot more collaborative and you have to worry less about one player potentially writing a whole bunch of canon which gives them an unfair advantage over the others.

That being said, I would give the following advice:

A) Set the criteria and make it clear

As much as getting player input is good, remember that you're the GM and ultimately you're drawing the story together. As such, you want to make sure the details that the players are coming up with will fit with both the specific canon you've worked out for the wider game, but also for the theme and mood of the game.

B) Make it clear when you're taking over

There's always a temptation when you're creating something to keep a vested interest in that for the rest of the game - most people do character creation with the hope that their character will last for most if not all of the story, and as such, it's usually expected that, as the GM, you'll be careful about killing them off or changing them dramatically without permission.

If a player is doing some creation work for you, you've got to make it clear that once it's created, you're ultimately the final arbiter of what happens to it - it basically becomes an NPC and its primary purpose is to advance the plot, and if you have to kill it off or turn it evil, then so be it. Otherwise you run the risk of players getting annoyed at you for destroying their creation and spoiling their own headcanon.

C) Make sure you're doing at least half of the work

As above, you're the GM, and the worldbuilding needs to serve your needs, which in turn serves the players. As such, you need to make sure you're keeping enough control of the world to do that and to make the games run properly, as well as keeping control of the mood and theme as mentioned above.

It's also probably a good way of making it clear that you're still interested in the game - players can be quick to lose interest if they think that the GM's shifting as much of the work off their plate as possible!
Prince of Boredom
 member, 14 posts
Tue 26 Oct 2021
at 22:31
Players Helping With Worldbuidling?
Microscope is actually a great "game" for this. It's basically a diceless game designed to build a universe.

Beyond that I used to play with an IRL group that was very big on player collaboration in world-building. One thing we did that I really liked was building a Relationship Map where every player put their character, a place they created, and an NPC they created and then made connecting lines to each of how our characters related to each (or many) of the objects on the map.
engine
 member, 861 posts
 There's a brain alright
 but it's made out of meat
Tue 26 Oct 2021
at 22:44
Players Helping With Worldbuidling?
One reason players can be hesitant to participate in this kind of thing is that they are afraid to contradict some idea the the DM or someone else might have. And if their ideas are blocked even just a couple of times, that's likely to confirm that fear.

My approach is to tell players that only things that have happened or appeared in the game are "established" and not to be contradicted, if possible. This seems to cause an adverse reaction in some people who hear it, because they feel that it means there can be no surprises or mysteries and so is an objective negative. That hasn't been my experience. I'm also not trying to tell anyone to play this way.
Wildcard
 member, 1024 posts
Wed 27 Oct 2021
at 13:56
Re: Players Helping With Worldbuidling?
Thanks for the input everybody! As for this question

evileeyore:
quote:
Did you use a dice-based system when you did this, and did it effect it at all?

I have no idea what you mean by this.  Do you mean were "dice involved in the world building somehow"?  No.  No incentives either, it was just as it's generally set up in FATE, "create [X] number of places, people, organizations, etc".

Sometimes those creations are tied directly to the Character via advantages or abilities, but usually not.


 Sort of. I meant "was there a game system, (not freeform) that was dice based that you were using" and "did you let the players worldbuilding affect dice-rolls or abilities in game"? I see their creations sometimes are used like that. Thank you.
evileeyore
 member, 571 posts
 GURPS GM and Player
 Joined 20150819
Wed 27 Oct 2021
at 18:06
Players Helping With Worldbuidling?
Wildcard:
Sort of. I meant "was there a game system, (not freeform) that was dice based that you were using" and "did you let the players worldbuilding affect dice-rolls or abilities in game"? I see their creations sometimes are used like that. Thank you.

This is really three questions...

quote:
... "was there a game system, (not freeform)...

Yes.  Both FATE and GURPS.  In FATE the system ties into Aspects which are invocable to give the Players bonuses, if a Player had a hand in creating the Person, Place, Thing, Event, etc, I let them decide one of those Aspects, meaning that Player, or at least that Character if we cared to keep IC knowledge separate, if not the whole cast of PCs knew something about that created thing that could give them an advantage or warning in interacting with it.

quote:
... that was dice based that you were using"...

No, I've never used dice systems in my world building.  Every time I try to use a "dice based world generator" I end up being frustrated by it and dropping it and going back to doing "the old fashioned way".  I do sometimes use map generators (random dungeon generators, etc) to give me a starting point or weird ideas, but I always heavily edit it.

With GURPS, PCs that take certain Advantages or Disadvantages engage in world building that ties to that Advantage or Disadvantage, frex Allies, Contacts, Enemies, Patrons, Dependents, etc.

quote:
... "did you let the players worldbuilding affect dice-rolls or abilities in game"?

Yes, as above.  Not so much with GURPS, that doesn't really bleed other, as GURPS 'Narrative Tools' don't really have 'tie-on' points like FATE does, but it's an idea I've been toying with to create something similar for GURPS (since I can get Players for that game more readily than FATE, which I'm also still not comfortable running).
Shroompunk
 member, 12 posts
Thu 28 Oct 2021
at 05:21
Players Helping With Worldbuidling?
I'm sure it comes from an officially published game somewhere that I've never read or played-- so it's not my idea, and I don't know how to bestow proper credit for it-- but I like the idea of multiple themed rounds.

For my current The Star Wars game, I did a round of political factions, a round of planets, and a round of Force traditions. I started the festivities with 4-5 entries of my own, while each player owed me one entry (per round) and one fact each about two other entries.

For a D&D-like game, I might set a few classes as a baseline-- Fighter, Rogue, and Bard, for instance-- and do a round of whitelist/blacklist, where everyone picks one class and all its baggage to say "yes,this" and one to completely ban from the game's setting and history. Do the same with races-- just Humans-- and then round-robin picking the "major races" and PC races of the setting and consigning the rest to the depths of Perdition.

Churches, kingdoms, planets... whatever's important.

I'd like to do a D&D game in a system with a ton of 3rd party support, where aside from very basic/universal classes and the Human race, all of the races and classes were super setting-focused and all built up around a process like this, with both the whitelist/blacklist selection process and the "two facts" refinement process, and then the whole world was built around the results.
Lluis
 member, 5 posts
Thu 28 Oct 2021
at 13:30
Players Helping With Worldbuidling?
I'm not sure if this is what you're looking for, but in AD&D (1st Ed at least, I've never been involved in latter ones) there was a section for high le vel players to develop a zone and make it their fiefs.

It was on DMG, page 93, under "Territory development by Player Characters".

It also had Random wildersness terrain tables to randomly establish a map (page 173)

Hope that helps...
Rothos1
 member, 544 posts
Fri 29 Oct 2021
at 18:45
Players Helping With Worldbuidling?
Second edition D&D had the Worldbuilder's Guidebook.
Mongoose Publishing developed the 3.5e rules for high level players.
steelsmiter
 member, 2158 posts
 BESM, Fate, Indies, PBTA
 NO FREEFORM! NO d20!
Sat 30 Oct 2021
at 21:58
Players Helping With Worldbuidling?
I'm surprised nobody's mentioned the entire premise behind the Apocalypse World Engine that's been consistent through like 90% of material presented using the system.

It's pretty amazing, and the entire setup is built on table collaboration, and freedom of choice built into every move, and usually counts worldbuilding as a "GM Move" but like very heavily centered on party consensus and player agency and so forth.

This message was last edited by the user at 21:59, Sat 30 Oct.