Monday, August 31, 2020

Your first TTRPG world? Make it sloppy, make IP mud pies


By Christopher Robin Negelein

Context, they say is everything.

Stuck at home, you've decided to create your own world setting or campaign for the very first time. But as you stare at the blank screen, you're frozen. Or you've written a bit, but then realize you're cribbing from Matt Mercer's Wildemount, or the NPCs have all come from Bleach or your low-fi sci-fi adventure is a clone of the Expanse but all of it is D&D. There doesn't seem to be an original thought in your setting.

Let me tell you, that is not only fine, it's awesome!

In the past, I'd let Ira Glass would tell you, that this part of the process of practicing your way through a volume of work until your skill matches your killer taste. But I think this misses the point of the game, regardless which every system and genre you play in. 

Having fun, lots of fun, with your friends is the point, and that trumps thing like worrying if you seem clever or even polished as you run a game. At your table, under your own roof -- or even at a convention -- the IP (Intellectual Property) police aren't going to stop you from using any trope or character. And here's a secret, if you are gaming with friends that get you, they will love it as much as you. 

Name a lich King Bradley, and if someone makes a artificer/techno wizard PC named Edward, you have picked the right people for your table. 

I can also attest to the power of filing off serial numbers and reskinning. By simply changing names and tweaking a concept to fit the rules you use, a carbon copy can become an homage/inspiration. Just because you see where the seams in your allegedly Frankenstein creation doesn't mean anyone else does. To your players, that world may look seamless, a place which runs on the rule of cool.  And it's a kind of cool they love. 

Sure your home table may not have its  own fancy hardback book or be watched by thousands on Twitch, but there is a lot more freedom. Freedom to embrace and enjoy - especially when you are starting out in this hobby. 

Some great ways to take that creative bungee jump off the bridge:

  • Grab a pencil and a journal, get away from that screen and the implied pressure to make something "perfect" on your first go
  • Don't worry on how to phrase a thing just get it out on the page
  • Grab graph paper, hex paper or even a dot-grid journal and make maps
  • Or doddle or make a one minute sketch of an NPC
  • Don't be afraid to make a "scrap" book of ideas and inspirations using a Note app or journal.
  • Make a list of printed adventures that you're going to steal things out of, NPCs, maps, set pieces
  • Look over community content for other crazy ideas for classes/types and spells 

Just remember to make the journey as much fun as  the destination!


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