What do you do when players know more about D&D History than the DM?

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So here's the deal. I've played D&D on a limited basis, mainly DDO and now 4e. I've been tasked with being the DM since I'm really good at putting together campaigns and encounters that bring together character development and overall plot. I can even create a region of the world that has history and overal 'depth', thus seems real...Additionally, I keep the table running and the encounters true to the monsters tactics (I do know monster behavior)...so overall everyone has a lot of fun.

What I don't have is knowledge of 'D&D' specific things like Deities, Planes, Time, well known characters/events, how things tie together, etc...Basically the stuff you get from years of reading books, magazines, etc. Some of the players, however, have a lot of this knowledge, and tend to want to play off of it (my god expects it of me, I'm tasked with doing this, etc). I'm all for allowing them to expand the story to include all of this...I can even go so far as to ask them out of game to explain it to me and how things relate,,,But how am I to integrate it in with my stuff and still keep the story suspensful if I know nothing about it (or am relying on them to tell me about it)? I don't have the time, nor inclination to read back on the history, but would have time for the cliffnotes...but I dont see anything out there that is like that.

Anyone else run into this? To me, it seems overwhelming the number of Gods/etc...If it were up to me, I'd eliminate the whole religion and external planes aspect and try to simplify it so that the focus could be on PC interactions, battle, RPing the current region/campaign...
A lot of this can be solved if you ask your players to send you their characters before the actual sit-down session. Ask them if there are any specific role-playing aspects they were thinking about when creating the character. Flesh out your campaign using these character backgrounds in any way you see fit. Of course, this would require you to probably send out the overview of your campaign to the players as well.

With respect to gods and planes, it could just end up that you, in creating the world, killed off the gods and destroyed planes. It wouldn't be the first time something like this has happened, and it won't be the last. A campaign doesn't have to fit in with everything that is "known". You are allowed to limit the scope of your own campaigns, or even create your own.

However, you can use these (painfully obvious) DM decisions to create hooks for your party members.

Example: A paladin whose god was killed in the birth of this world could feel lost and is trying to find his way. On one of his journeys he again hears a voice urging him to fight for the cause, but who does the voice belong to?
Wizard's first rule: People are stupid.
Yeah, that can be hard. Do your best to try to maintain control, but take advantage of their knowledge and get their help establishing the setting. Don't worry about suspense for now.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

I am playing in a homebrew Star Wars campaign where I am more knowledgeable about the setting than the GM is.  He and I have come to an understanding - his Star Wars universe and what would be called "canon" do not always jive.  I have come to accept that fact and I input where appropriate now.

The point is, use your players' knowledge to get the basics and then go your own way.  Then you as the DM have to reign in the "setting lawyering" by saying that your version and the canon version don't always jive.  If your players cannot accept that then ask if one of them will DM instead since you do not have the time to "catch up" AND run a campaign.

 

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Are you really "entitled to your opinion"?
RedSiegfried wrote:
The cool thing is, you don't even NEED a reason to say yes.  Just stop looking for a reason to say no.
I am playing in a homebrew Star Wars campaign where I am more knowledgeable about the setting than the GM is.  He and I have come to an understanding - his Star Wars universe and what would be called "canon" do not always jive.  I have come to accept that fact and I input where appropriate now.

The point is, use your players' knowledge to get the basics and then go your own way.  Then you as the DM have to reign in the "setting lawyering" by saying that your version and the canon version don't always jive.  If your players cannot accept that then ask if one of them will DM instead since you do not have the time to "catch up" AND run a campaign.

Good point. If they want to offer ideas along the lines of "Would you think it's acceptable/cool if this fact about this god were true?" and defer to your decision then it could work.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

This is where the art of shared storytelling really becomes valuable. I've learned over the years and especially in recent months how very little I need to actually come up with on my own when DMing. I cede a lot of that creative/narrative control to the players. Then I just use what they give me, sometimes adding my own flair to it.

I don't have a story to tell - the characters do and as the DM I'm their biggest fan. So while I will certainly prepare a location-in-motion populated by creatures/factions pursuing their own (usually dangerous) goals, the story of the game is what the PCs do in that location and with/to the creatures and factions therein. The characters have their own goals and where it comes into conflict with the goals of the creatures in the location-in-motion, the story is created on its own. How that plays out is not known to me ahead of time and so I get the excitement of playing to see what happens next. It's as "suspenseful" to me as it is to them because the "story" is being written as we play. They are doing things and I'm just honestly protraying the repercussions of their actions as defined by their input and my prep, with an eye toward the most interesting challenges and situations.

In addition to that benefit, this allows me to include a lot more player input as we play. I don't need to know the history of this or that or which deity is the god of water. The players can just tell me. And by them telling me, it means they're interested in it, so I'm sure to work it into the current or future location. If a player is inspired by something in the game to talk about the Plane of Infinite Portals, I simply say, "Cool! Where did Ragnar hear about that? What's the nature of the plane? What creatures inhabit it? What's going on there that's interesting to you right now?" Then it's part of the world.

This is also very easy to do if you're playing 4e because of the way you can "reskin" things on the fly. It's no longer a gelatinous cube and a gauth beholder... it's a giant space hamster and a crazy gnome with laser beam goggles. Why? Because one of the PCs indicated an interest in Spelljammer lore during play. And there it is, alive in kicking in the world, ready to be discovered.

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To me, it seems overwhelming the number of Gods/etc...If it were up to me, I'd eliminate the whole religion and external planes aspect and try to simplify it so that the focus could be on PC interactions, battle, RPing the current region/campaign...



So do that.  It's your game.  "This game world has no dieties and no outer planes."  You may have to eliminate divine classes in that case, but that's no big deal; fortunately, 4e doesn't do the whole 'only divine magics heal' nonsense.

The only canon is the canon you want in the game.  It doesn't matter if D&D 'history' says elves and orcs hate each other.  If you want them to be steadfast allies for centuries, then they are.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
To me, it seems overwhelming the number of Gods/etc...If it were up to me, I'd eliminate the whole religion and external planes aspect and try to simplify it so that the focus could be on PC interactions, battle, RPing the current region/campaign...



So do that.  It's your game.  "This game world has no dieties and no outer planes."  You may have to eliminate divine classes in that case, but that's no big deal; fortunately, 4e doesn't do the whole 'only divine magics heal' nonsense.

The only canon is the canon you want in the game.  It doesn't matter if D&D 'history' says elves and orcs hate each other.  If you want them to be steadfast allies for centuries, then they are.



QFT. My recent campaign was set in a bubble world of sorts and involved a small subset of gods, and an eclectic group of races (dwarves, eladrin, humans, orcs, rak'shasa, kobolds and dragons) sharing a land of my creation. You can do whatever you want. Creating your own world frees you from contraints of history.

That said, do take the councel of your more-experienced players into consideration and don't tray too radically from well-established source material. If they tell you Rak'shasa are almost universally evil and reincarnate when they die, intact memories and all, and you wanted mortal benevolent cat people, integrate that into the campaign or don't call them Rak'shasa. If your dwarves live in trees, have a good explanation why.   

 
1.  You do realize that the "fluff" text, the descriptions, ecologies, lands, deities, and all that, are suggestions, right?  One option is gather your group before starting a new campaign, proposing that any description of person, places, things, and events in the rulebooks is not necessarily valid, and then, together as a group, build your own fantasy setting from scratch... maybe one where halflings are the only PC race, or a setting where Orcs are a friendly playable race and Dwarves and Elves are evil monsters, or where there are no Goblins, Orcs or other Tolkien-inspired creatures, but instead Panther-men and Chupacabras, or pit a primitive species of man against ice-age horrors and strange howling spirits of the frozen glacial wastes.  Create your own pantheon of gods, or leave the gods out altogether.   Map your own world, and invent its own unique history.  You and your group together can know the excitement of exploring a new, uncharted setting together!

2.  Alternatively, if you and your group prefer the default setting, then your know-it-all players are a valuable resource.  Ask them for information and advice.  Chances are, they'll be more than happy to give it to you in volumes, and being able to contribute their knowledge will help them feel like a valuable part of your team!  This is an opportunity, not a problem.

3.  You can always wing it, and make things up as you go.  This is the time-honored way of doing things, I think most DMs I've ever gamed with did this.  It wouldn't be the first time the players have seen home-brewed content, I'm sure, and surely they'll be forgiving of "happy accidents" made by a DM who isn't very familiar with the setting and invents things that aren't exactly "canon", and will be willing to take the new ideas and run with them.  At worst, the sticks-in-the-mud can always have the option to correct you, and you can decide as a group whether to let the correction stand, or go with whatever you made up.  (I don't think I've ever gamed with a group that wasn't perfectly willing to let such improvisations stand, and who weren't eager to accept completely new ideas, but every group is different, so I suppose it's possible that you might end up with a group that refuses to accept anything that isn't strictly by-the-books.)  This is kind of a hold-over from the "DM is always right" era, and not exactly politically-correct these days, but, as long as you aren't trying to take advantage of your group and you are all in the right spirit of things, it can work well enough.
[spoiler New DM Tips]
  • Trying to solve out-of-game problems (like cheating, bad attitudes, or poor sportsmanship) with in-game solutions will almost always result in failure, and will probably make matters worse.
  • Gun Safety Rule #5: Never point the gun at anything you don't intend to destroy. (Never introduce a character, PC, NPC, Villain, or fate of the world into even the possibility of a deadly combat or other dangerous situation, unless you are prepared to destroy it instantly and completely forever.)
  • Know your group's character sheets, and check them over carefully. You don't want surprises, but, more importantly, they are a gold mine of ideas!
  • "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." It's a problem if the players aren't having fun and it interferes with a DM's ability to run the game effectively; if it's not a problem, 'fixing' at best does little to help, and at worst causes problems that didn't exist before.
  • "Hulk Smash" characters are a bad match for open-ended exploration in crowds of civilians; get them out of civilization where they can break things and kill monsters in peace.
  • Success is not necessarily the same thing as killing an opponent. Failure is not necessarily the same thing as dying.
  • Failure is always an option. And it's a fine option, too, as long as failure is interesting, entertaining, and fun!
[/spoiler] The New DM's Group Horror in RPGs "This is exactly what the Leprechauns want you to believe!" - Merb101 "Broken or not, unbalanced or not, if something seems to be preventing the game from being enjoyable, something has to give: either that thing, or other aspects of the game, or your idea of what's enjoyable." - Centauri
Religion can become a big issue in an ongoing campaign, the motive behind a lot of activity. I wouldn't scrap all the Gods just yet. Instead, decide which are important to start, like say the deities of your PC's, and just read up a little on them. When you have time, read a little on the bad-guy deities and major demon-types that you might use.

Perhaps you could use all those years of playing the rest of the group has to your advantage? Have them write up a short summary on the deities for you. An example would be kinda like this: "Thor- chaotic good, strongest god of Asgard, wandering hero who loves slaying evil giants. Married to Sif and father of Uller. Uses a big hammer in combat. Straightforward, honest, likes to party." Have them write it as long or short as you need it to be.

Other planes are really easy to deal with... don't have adventures in other planes! I know it sounds like I'm being a smartaleck, but I'm serious. Just don't mess with them.

You've got 3 options.


1- Run a custom world. Lots of up front effort, but you don't have to compete with players for who knows more and you are free to do whatever you need. I'd even recomend using dawn of worlds to create the world with the players. http://www.clanwebsite.org/games/rpg/Dawn_of_Worlds_game_1_0Final.pdf Then they can have a say in the worlds design and can make sure it includes stuff they like.


2- "I changed it". When someone corrects you and says orcs would never ally with elves you can say "Oh I changed that, elves and orcs are BFFs". I really dislike this method.


3- Use those players as repositories. Pull one aside and run plots by him outside of the main session. Let him help you with world concepts and making sure your ideas fit with the setting you are using. 


I think option 1 is the best, followed by  3 and lastly 2. 

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You've got 3 options.


1- Run a custom world. Lots of up front effort, but you don't have to compete with players for who knows more and you are free to do whatever you need. I'd even recomend using dawn of worlds to create the world with the players. http://www.clanwebsite.org/games/rpg/Dawn_of_Worlds_game_1_0Final.pdf Then they can have a say in the worlds design and can make sure it includes stuff they like.


2- "I changed it". When someone corrects you and says orcs would never ally with elves you can say "Oh I changed that, elves and orcs are BFFs". I really dislike this method.


3- Use those players as repositories. Pull one aside and run plots by him outside of the main session. Let him help you with world concepts and making sure your ideas fit with the setting you are using. 


I think option 1 is the best, followed by  3 and lastly 2. 




Those are more or less the same options I listed.  Krusk says it better, though.

I didn't rank my list, but I agree with Krusk's ratings of which are the best, and which the weakest.
[spoiler New DM Tips]
  • Trying to solve out-of-game problems (like cheating, bad attitudes, or poor sportsmanship) with in-game solutions will almost always result in failure, and will probably make matters worse.
  • Gun Safety Rule #5: Never point the gun at anything you don't intend to destroy. (Never introduce a character, PC, NPC, Villain, or fate of the world into even the possibility of a deadly combat or other dangerous situation, unless you are prepared to destroy it instantly and completely forever.)
  • Know your group's character sheets, and check them over carefully. You don't want surprises, but, more importantly, they are a gold mine of ideas!
  • "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." It's a problem if the players aren't having fun and it interferes with a DM's ability to run the game effectively; if it's not a problem, 'fixing' at best does little to help, and at worst causes problems that didn't exist before.
  • "Hulk Smash" characters are a bad match for open-ended exploration in crowds of civilians; get them out of civilization where they can break things and kill monsters in peace.
  • Success is not necessarily the same thing as killing an opponent. Failure is not necessarily the same thing as dying.
  • Failure is always an option. And it's a fine option, too, as long as failure is interesting, entertaining, and fun!
[/spoiler] The New DM's Group Horror in RPGs "This is exactly what the Leprechauns want you to believe!" - Merb101 "Broken or not, unbalanced or not, if something seems to be preventing the game from being enjoyable, something has to give: either that thing, or other aspects of the game, or your idea of what's enjoyable." - Centauri
What I don't have is knowledge of 'D&D' specific things like Deities, Planes, Time, well known characters/events, how things tie together, etc...Basically the stuff you get from years of reading books, magazines, etc. Some of the players, however, have a lot of this knowledge, and tend to want to play off of it (my god expects it of me, I'm tasked with doing this, etc). I'm all for allowing them to expand the story to include all of this



Well, you could even make this kind of the focus of the game. There used to be all these planes and deities - but they've just vanished. The world is in chaos, history is disjointed, and Time itself is fraying at the edges.

Enter the player characters. They appear to be untouched - they remember the major historical events, the people involved, which planes are missing, and so on. Do they want to put things back the way they were? Or do they want to change things for the better (as they see it)? Either way, it seems as though there's someone behind the scenes who wants the world to stay this way, or perhaps even seeks to actively make things worse...

This way, your players are actually setting the world back up the way they remember it, and you don't have to have any deep knowledge about any of this stuff. As long as the players are motivated, it should work just fine. Give them a lot of freedom. Let them go to places they are interested in fixing or restoring, or even let them travel in time to past events. All you need is the villain's plan. Maybe an illithid plot? A pure accident that many factions are just taking advantage of?

What I don't have is knowledge of 'D&D' specific things like Deities, Planes, Time, well known characters/events, how things tie together, etc...Basically the stuff you get from years of reading books, magazines, etc. Some of the players, however, have a lot of this knowledge, and tend to want to play off of it (my god expects it of me, I'm tasked with doing this, etc). I'm all for allowing them to expand the story to include all of this



Well, you could even make this kind of the focus of the game. There used to be all these planes and deities - but they've just vanished. The world is in chaos, history is disjointed, and Time itself is fraying at the edges.

Enter the player characters. They appear to be untouched - they remember the major historical events, the people involved, which planes are missing, and so on. Do they want to put things back the way they were? Or do they want to change things for the better (as they see it)? Either way, it seems as though there's someone behind the scenes who wants the world to stay this way, or perhaps even seeks to actively make things worse...

This way, your players are actually setting the world back up the way they remember it, and you don't have to have any deep knowledge about any of this stuff. As long as the players are motivated, it should work just fine. Give them a lot of freedom. Let them go to places they are interested in fixing or restoring, or even let them travel in time to past events. All you need is the villain's plan. Maybe an illithid plot? A pure accident that many factions are just taking advantage of?





I think that sounds like a clever way of handling it, and it seems like a sound way of getting the job done... it's like taking the best parts of DM Changed-Setting Fiat, and inviting a healthy dose of shared storytelling and letting the player's encyclopaedic knowledge of the game world into the mix.

[spoiler New DM Tips]
  • Trying to solve out-of-game problems (like cheating, bad attitudes, or poor sportsmanship) with in-game solutions will almost always result in failure, and will probably make matters worse.
  • Gun Safety Rule #5: Never point the gun at anything you don't intend to destroy. (Never introduce a character, PC, NPC, Villain, or fate of the world into even the possibility of a deadly combat or other dangerous situation, unless you are prepared to destroy it instantly and completely forever.)
  • Know your group's character sheets, and check them over carefully. You don't want surprises, but, more importantly, they are a gold mine of ideas!
  • "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." It's a problem if the players aren't having fun and it interferes with a DM's ability to run the game effectively; if it's not a problem, 'fixing' at best does little to help, and at worst causes problems that didn't exist before.
  • "Hulk Smash" characters are a bad match for open-ended exploration in crowds of civilians; get them out of civilization where they can break things and kill monsters in peace.
  • Success is not necessarily the same thing as killing an opponent. Failure is not necessarily the same thing as dying.
  • Failure is always an option. And it's a fine option, too, as long as failure is interesting, entertaining, and fun!
[/spoiler] The New DM's Group Horror in RPGs "This is exactly what the Leprechauns want you to believe!" - Merb101 "Broken or not, unbalanced or not, if something seems to be preventing the game from being enjoyable, something has to give: either that thing, or other aspects of the game, or your idea of what's enjoyable." - Centauri
Thanks all, much obliged. I'm actually toying with the idea of changing around the current campaign so their characters ascend to Gods...then when the next campaign starts, the only Gods in it will be the previous players characters. Set up some basics around them, and go that route...then I can control the gods based on how they played their toons in the previous...and have a lot of fun with it. This will simplify the desire to have a 'higher power' and simplify the knowledge base as everyone is on the same page with what those Gods represented...

thoughts? 
Make your own world.  It's nowhere near as much work as you'd think and, for me at least, it's one of the most rewarding aspects of being a DM.  It doesn't matter if you've already started your campaign in an existing setting; there are any number of ways that you can transport the PCs to a new reality.  A big part of keeping players engaged is keeping them on their toes and it's a lot easier to do that when you know the world better than they do.
Using the 4E Nentir Vale/Points of Light setting as opposed to one of the old-E ones (Forgotten Realms, Eberron, etc) also solves a lot of those problems since there isn't such a mass of lore built up around it, and much of what has been written about its history and mythology remains deliberately hypothetical. ("There are several stories about how that came to be, and here they are, but who knows whether any of them are true?")

The planar/divine issue is also much less prominent there, especially with the gods being relatively remote (although not as remote as Eberron).
This is much longer than I intended it to be. Information herein is perhaps of dubious value, and is certainly a bit rambling. Sorry.

I've used the "characters from the last game ascended to godhood and now you can worship them" thing before. Everyone enjoyed it, but if you get to that point, I have one or two words that might be helpful (but maybe not! I'm kind of dumb, haha).

When they do ascend, make sure you've built it up enough that it feels special and unique. I mean, if this world has no gods, and these PCs are the first to do it - wow, that's a huge thing. That changes the entire setting. Nothing is ever quite the same. So for the first campaign, make sure it's a huge deal - have people denying that those levels of power are possible, or that such a thing has been tried in the past by madmen and fools, and all died in the attempt. Or maybe it's a new idea entirely - people, even wise sages, are taken aback when the PCs even hint at it. (Maybe the villain is trying to become a god, and no one believes the PCs, or cares; they think the villain will just die anyway, and no matter if the PCs have good evidence that he won't).

As for the 'no gods' idea, the divine characters can just worship ideals or something. It doesn't have to be complicated. Instead of a god of war, the cleric worships the concept of war - the strength of battle, the glory of pulling victory from the jaws of defeat, the ingenuity of new weapons of war, and so on.

And for the second game, when the characters have ascended and are now the gods of the setting:

First, make sure your players know that they no longer control those characters. In any way. The way I phrased it was something like "The final ascent to godhood irrevocably changes at least a few fundamental aspects of the character." My group had been having some disagreements about how I was depicting these gods. Since the players had, you know, played these characters, they all had very clear ideas on how those gods should act. And although I certainly took some of those ideas and ran with them, the players need to understand that those characters are NPCs now. These NPCs will sometimes act in ways the players don't like. That way, while the players understand what the gods represent, and everyone is on the same page, there's still room for mystery and discovery.

Second, if there are no other gods, then what the characters are doing is unprecedented. Until they actually become gods; then there's likely going to be a power grab. All kinds of people would love to have the power of a god, and if a handful of mortals can do it once, others are going to try it as well. And if gods can be raised up, well . . . they can likely be torn down. Old enemies might come out of the woodwork, snatching up anything that might help them in their rise to the heavens. Of course, the ones that move obviously aren't the ones to worry about - it's the schemers in the shadows who are most likely to succeed. But everyone is going to want a piece of that pie.

I handled this in a few ways. One, the former player characters had a lot to do as gods (this stuff happened between campaigns - I just filled in the players during the second campaign, as they found out what was going on). So, the character-gods set up a kind of celestial bureaucracy. They raised up lesser gods, demi-gods, and set about crafting a celestial police force (angels and whatnot). So there were a few extra gods kicking around - a woodland and plains nature god, a god of crafting, an ocean god, and a handful of others, all of which were connected to how the character-gods viewed the world. For instance, they made the crafting god because, when the players were playing the characters, they were convinced that the best way to help the world in general was to take 'savage' races and integrate them into human society. Trade is great for that, which requires trade goods, which need to be crafted, so on and so on until - bam, we need a god to help those 'savage' races. These extra gods gave the second campaign a little variety for choosing gods for the new characters.

Second, these gods, knowing full well that if they could attain this level of power others could too - well, they close the door behind them, so to speak. They try to seal off any way they can think of where people might ascend. They themselves ascended through a cross-section of a planar vortex, a city trapped in time, and an artifact. While they can't get to the city trapped in time, they track down similar things and destroy them, take them, or hide them.

I bring this up because, well, I like talking about that campaign - it was fun! - but also because I think it's a good way to show how you can frame the second campaign. You can see how the character-gods are kind of creating a tyranny of heaven. Their motives are pure, but nevertheless, they are imposing their ideas on this entire world, and when the second campaign was starting, they were turning their eyes towards the Planes. It made for a lot of interesting roleplay and a big ol' grab bag of enemies and shifting alliances for the new characters.

And, on a last note, just because I loved their solution - my players figure that the kind of world being created by their old characters isn't one their new characters like. The new characters know that gods can be created, but how can you fight the heavens? Oh, they navigated the crazy political maelstrom amazingly, turning enemies against each other, using factions from behind the scenes, snapping up allies and servants as quick as can be and then sending them off on insane quests and feints to throw angels off their tracks - it was brilliant. Because, after all, to properly battle heaven, you've got to have an army, and you've got to give people options, and if heaven is going to be oppressive, well, we can't stand for that.

They finally were turning the tides, and at a major battle that was the turning point for the campaign, they raised a flag above their rag-tag army. They made little sketches for me, and underneath their little sigil was their slogan.

"Give 'em Hell!"



Anyway, my point is, campaigns like this can be a ton of fun, so I hope it works for you. Be sure to let them have a semi-free hand in making the world.
This is much longer than I intended it to be. Information herein is perhaps of dubious value, and is certainly a bit rambling. Sorry.

I've used the "characters from the last game ascended to godhood and now you can worship them" thing before. Everyone enjoyed it, but if you get to that point, I have one or two words that might be helpful (but maybe not! I'm kind of dumb, haha).

When they do ascend, make sure you've built it up enough that it feels special and unique. I mean, if this world has no gods, and these PCs are the first to do it - wow, that's a huge thing. That changes the entire setting. Nothing is ever quite the same. So for the first campaign, make sure it's a huge deal - have people denying that those levels of power are possible, or that such a thing has been tried in the past by madmen and fools, and all died in the attempt. Or maybe it's a new idea entirely - people, even wise sages, are taken aback when the PCs even hint at it. (Maybe the villain is trying to become a god, and no one believes the PCs, or cares; they think the villain will just die anyway, and no matter if the PCs have good evidence that he won't).

As for the 'no gods' idea, the divine characters can just worship ideals or something. It doesn't have to be complicated. Instead of a god of war, the cleric worships the concept of war - the strength of battle, the glory of pulling victory from the jaws of defeat, the ingenuity of new weapons of war, and so on.

And for the second game, when the characters have ascended and are now the gods of the setting:

First, make sure your players know that they no longer control those characters. In any way. The way I phrased it was something like "The final ascent to godhood irrevocably changes at least a few fundamental aspects of the character." My group had been having some disagreements about how I was depicting these gods. Since the players had, you know, played these characters, they all had very clear ideas on how those gods should act. And although I certainly took some of those ideas and ran with them, the players need to understand that those characters are NPCs now. These NPCs will sometimes act in ways the players don't like. That way, while the players understand what the gods represent, and everyone is on the same page, there's still room for mystery and discovery.

Second, if there are no other gods, then what the characters are doing is unprecedented. Until they actually become gods; then there's likely going to be a power grab. All kinds of people would love to have the power of a god, and if a handful of mortals can do it once, others are going to try it as well. And if gods can be raised up, well . . . they can likely be torn down. Old enemies might come out of the woodwork, snatching up anything that might help them in their rise to the heavens. Of course, the ones that move obviously aren't the ones to worry about - it's the schemers in the shadows who are most likely to succeed. But everyone is going to want a piece of that pie.

I handled this in a few ways. One, the former player characters had a lot to do as gods (this stuff happened between campaigns - I just filled in the players during the second campaign, as they found out what was going on). So, the character-gods set up a kind of celestial bureaucracy. They raised up lesser gods, demi-gods, and set about crafting a celestial police force (angels and whatnot). So there were a few extra gods kicking around - a woodland and plains nature god, a god of crafting, an ocean god, and a handful of others, all of which were connected to how the character-gods viewed the world. For instance, they made the crafting god because, when the players were playing the characters, they were convinced that the best way to help the world in general was to take 'savage' races and integrate them into human society. Trade is great for that, which requires trade goods, which need to be crafted, so on and so on until - bam, we need a god to help those 'savage' races. These extra gods gave the second campaign a little variety for choosing gods for the new characters.

Second, these gods, knowing full well that if they could attain this level of power others could too - well, they close the door behind them, so to speak. They try to seal off any way they can think of where people might ascend. They themselves ascended through a cross-section of a planar vortex, a city trapped in time, and an artifact. While they can't get to the city trapped in time, they track down similar things and destroy them, take them, or hide them.

I bring this up because, well, I like talking about that campaign - it was fun! - but also because I think it's a good way to show how you can frame the second campaign. You can see how the character-gods are kind of creating a tyranny of heaven. Their motives are pure, but nevertheless, they are imposing their ideas on this entire world, and when the second campaign was starting, they were turning their eyes towards the Planes. It made for a lot of interesting roleplay and a big ol' grab bag of enemies and shifting alliances for the new characters.

And, on a last note, just because I loved their solution - my players figure that the kind of world being created by their old characters isn't one their new characters like. The new characters know that gods can be created, but how can you fight the heavens? Oh, they navigated the crazy political maelstrom amazingly, turning enemies against each other, using factions from behind the scenes, snapping up allies and servants as quick as can be and then sending them off on insane quests and feints to throw angels off their tracks - it was brilliant. Because, after all, to properly battle heaven, you've got to have an army, and you've got to give people options, and if heaven is going to be oppressive, well, we can't stand for that.

They finally were turning the tides, and at a major battle that was the turning point for the campaign, they raised a flag above their rag-tag army. They made little sketches for me, and underneath their little sigil was their slogan.

"Give 'em Hell!"



Anyway, my point is, campaigns like this can be a ton of fun, so I hope it works for you. Be sure to let them have a semi-free hand in making the world.



I had absolutely no intention of running a campaign with no gods, and you make me think about the possibility, it sounds so enticing.

"The real purpose of socialism is precisely to overcome and advance beyond the predatory phase of human development." -Albert Einstein Resident Left Hand of Stalin and Banana Stand Grandstander Half of the Ambiguously Gay Duo House of Trolls, looking for a partner Wondering what happened to the Star Wars forums?
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141722973 wrote:
And it wasn't ****. It was subjectively concensual sex.
57036828 wrote:
Marketing and design are two different things. For instance the snuggy was designed for people in wheel chairs and marketed to people that are too incompetent to operate a blanket.
75239035 wrote:
I personally don't want him decapitated.
141722973 wrote:
And do not call me a Yank. I am a Québecois, basically your better.
And the greatest post moderation of all time...
58115148 wrote:
I gave that (Content Removed) a to-scale Lego replica. (Content Removed) love to-scale Lego replicas. (ORC_Cerberus: Edited - Vulgarity is against the Code of Conduct)
I am inclined to think that 'no gods' is not a good idea.  But then I am a fan of history and religion has played an intense central role in the history of the real world, its abscence would make a fictional world seem hollow.
I am inclined to think that 'no gods' is not a good idea.  But then I am a fan of history and religion has played an intense central role in the history of the real world, its abscence would make a fictional world seem hollow.



Just because the game world has no gods doesn't mean it has no religion.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
I am inclined to think that 'no gods' is not a good idea.  But then I am a fan of history and religion has played an intense central role in the history of the real world, its abscence would make a fictional world seem hollow.



Just because the game world has no gods doesn't mean it has no religion.


 
Yes... it does.  Worshipping a concept is pointless as a mass 'religion' and is rarely practiced in the real world.  B/c worshipping a concept is no different than just doing the concept, there is no need for miracles, temples, or divine magic when you worship 'war', if you are a fan of war, you join the army.

And as I said before that type of campaign world would feel hollow to me, would lack realism or a dynamic flavor.  It would be a flat setting.
I am inclined to think that 'no gods' is not a good idea.  But then I am a fan of history and religion has played an intense central role in the history of the real world, its abscence would make a fictional world seem hollow.



Just because the game world has no gods doesn't mean it has no religion.


 
Yes... it does.  Worshipping a concept is pointless as a mass 'religion' and is rarely practiced in the real world.  B/c worshipping a concept is no different than just doing the concept, there is no need for miracles, temples, or divine magic when you worship 'war', if you are a fan of war, you join the army.




So, who said anything about worshiping a concept?  'People think there is a god/gods, but actually, there aren't.'  This gives you an actual religion based on faith, rather than 'oh, yeah, gods'.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
So, who said anything about worshiping a concept?  'People think there is a god/gods, but actually, there aren't.'  This gives you an actual religion based on faith, rather than 'oh, yeah, gods'.



+1. The absence of gods does not mean a lack of faith/religion. It could, but that is up to how the GM wants to make the story. I personally like the "forsaken world" theme, where the old gods have turned their attentions elsewhere and there is this power vacuum just waiting to be filled. 
Wizard's first rule: People are stupid.
So, who said anything about worshiping a concept?  'People think there is a god/gods, but actually, there aren't.'  This gives you an actual religion based on faith, rather than 'oh, yeah, gods'.



+1. The absence of gods does not mean a lack of faith/religion. It could, but that is up to how the GM wants to make the story. I personally like the "forsaken world" theme, where the old gods have turned their attentions elsewhere and there is this power vacuum just waiting to be filled. 



I usually do it that there were never gods; the world evolved via natural forces (which, in most fantasy worlds, includes magic).
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
Yes... it does.  Worshipping a concept is pointless as a mass 'religion' and is rarely practiced in the real world.



Real world eh? Is that the litmus test this fantasy-based RPG needs to pass? By this logic, we shouldn't have dragons in D&D either because dragons don't exist in the real world.

Imagination beats realism in this game, every time. It's not even a contest.

For any decision or adjudication, ask yourself, "Is this going to be fun for everyone?" and "Is this going to lead to the creation of an exciting, memorable story?"

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I am inclined to think that 'no gods' is not a good idea.  But then I am a fan of history and religion has played an intense central role in the history of the real world, its abscence would make a fictional world seem hollow.



Just because the game world has no gods doesn't mean it has no religion.


 
Yes... it does.  Worshipping a concept is pointless as a mass 'religion' and is rarely practiced in the real world.  B/c worshipping a concept is no different than just doing the concept, there is no need for miracles, temples, or divine magic when you worship 'war', if you are a fan of war, you join the army.




I suppose buddhism is a minor sect composed of lunatics and rarely practiced.....
"The real purpose of socialism is precisely to overcome and advance beyond the predatory phase of human development." -Albert Einstein Resident Left Hand of Stalin and Banana Stand Grandstander Half of the Ambiguously Gay Duo House of Trolls, looking for a partner Wondering what happened to the Star Wars forums?
Show
Star Wars Minis has a home here http://www.bloomilk.com/ and Star Wars Saga Edition RPG has a home here http://thesagacontinues.createaforum.com/index.php
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141722973 wrote:
And it wasn't ****. It was subjectively concensual sex.
57036828 wrote:
Marketing and design are two different things. For instance the snuggy was designed for people in wheel chairs and marketed to people that are too incompetent to operate a blanket.
75239035 wrote:
I personally don't want him decapitated.
141722973 wrote:
And do not call me a Yank. I am a Québecois, basically your better.
And the greatest post moderation of all time...
58115148 wrote:
I gave that (Content Removed) a to-scale Lego replica. (Content Removed) love to-scale Lego replicas. (ORC_Cerberus: Edited - Vulgarity is against the Code of Conduct)
I am inclined to think that 'no gods' is not a good idea.  But then I am a fan of history and religion has played an intense central role in the history of the real world, its abscence would make a fictional world seem hollow.



Just because the game world has no gods doesn't mean it has no religion.


 
Yes... it does.  Worshipping a concept is pointless as a mass 'religion' and is rarely practiced in the real world.  B/c worshipping a concept is no different than just doing the concept, there is no need for miracles, temples, or divine magic when you worship 'war', if you are a fan of war, you join the army.




I suppose buddhism is a minor sect composed of lunatics and rarely practiced.....



I suppose I could take offense to that. The linking of Buddhism to "worshipping a concept" I mean. But enlightenment means not bickering over semantics Wink
Wizard's first rule: People are stupid.
I am inclined to think that 'no gods' is not a good idea.  But then I am a fan of history and religion has played an intense central role in the history of the real world, its abscence would make a fictional world seem hollow.



Just because the game world has no gods doesn't mean it has no religion.


 
Yes... it does.  Worshipping a concept is pointless as a mass 'religion' and is rarely practiced in the real world.  B/c worshipping a concept is no different than just doing the concept, there is no need for miracles, temples, or divine magic when you worship 'war', if you are a fan of war, you join the army.




I suppose buddhism is a minor sect composed of lunatics and rarely practiced.....



I suppose I could take offense to that. The linking of Buddhism to "worshipping a concept" I mean. But enlightenment means not bickering over semantics Wink



I didn't intend to degrade buddhism in any way, but in absolute terms, it is a religion that has no god(s).   The attainment of enlightenment is a concept in my opinion, but you may disagree. 

And by concept, I do NOT mean an academic exercise, I mean something potentially tangible.
EDIT: To be fair, I don't think the worshipping bit should be in there, I never really thought about it as they aren't my words. 
"The real purpose of socialism is precisely to overcome and advance beyond the predatory phase of human development." -Albert Einstein Resident Left Hand of Stalin and Banana Stand Grandstander Half of the Ambiguously Gay Duo House of Trolls, looking for a partner Wondering what happened to the Star Wars forums?
Show
Star Wars Minis has a home here http://www.bloomilk.com/ and Star Wars Saga Edition RPG has a home here http://thesagacontinues.createaforum.com/index.php
Show
141722973 wrote:
And it wasn't ****. It was subjectively concensual sex.
57036828 wrote:
Marketing and design are two different things. For instance the snuggy was designed for people in wheel chairs and marketed to people that are too incompetent to operate a blanket.
75239035 wrote:
I personally don't want him decapitated.
141722973 wrote:
And do not call me a Yank. I am a Québecois, basically your better.
And the greatest post moderation of all time...
58115148 wrote:
I gave that (Content Removed) a to-scale Lego replica. (Content Removed) love to-scale Lego replicas. (ORC_Cerberus: Edited - Vulgarity is against the Code of Conduct)
I didn't intend to degrade buddhism in any way, but in absolute terms, it is a religion that has no god(s).   The attainment of enlightenment is a concept in my opinion, but you may disagree. 

And by concept, I do NOT mean an academic exercise, I mean something potentially tangible.
EDIT: To be fair, I don't think the worshipping bit should be in there, I never really thought about it as they aren't my words. 



For being 15 you have a very good grasp of Buddhist concepts. Kudos to you =D

And now I will stop because this is derailing the thread.
Wizard's first rule: People are stupid.
I didn't intend to degrade buddhism in any way, but in absolute terms, it is a religion that has no god(s).   The attainment of enlightenment is a concept in my opinion, but you may disagree. 

And by concept, I do NOT mean an academic exercise, I mean something potentially tangible.
EDIT: To be fair, I don't think the worshipping bit should be in there, I never really thought about it as they aren't my words. 



For being 15 you have a very good grasp of Buddhist concepts. Kudos to you =D

And now I will stop because this is derailing the thread.



Thank you I will too, as for the OP my advice would be to create your own world. You can write one paragraph, just noting any major powers, how high the magic level is, how commonplace magic is, and what the statuses of the various races are.
"The real purpose of socialism is precisely to overcome and advance beyond the predatory phase of human development." -Albert Einstein Resident Left Hand of Stalin and Banana Stand Grandstander Half of the Ambiguously Gay Duo House of Trolls, looking for a partner Wondering what happened to the Star Wars forums?
Show
Star Wars Minis has a home here http://www.bloomilk.com/ and Star Wars Saga Edition RPG has a home here http://thesagacontinues.createaforum.com/index.php
Show
141722973 wrote:
And it wasn't ****. It was subjectively concensual sex.
57036828 wrote:
Marketing and design are two different things. For instance the snuggy was designed for people in wheel chairs and marketed to people that are too incompetent to operate a blanket.
75239035 wrote:
I personally don't want him decapitated.
141722973 wrote:
And do not call me a Yank. I am a Québecois, basically your better.
And the greatest post moderation of all time...
58115148 wrote:
I gave that (Content Removed) a to-scale Lego replica. (Content Removed) love to-scale Lego replicas. (ORC_Cerberus: Edited - Vulgarity is against the Code of Conduct)
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