What, if any, input should Players have in world building?

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What input should Players have in world building?
I think this could be broken down into different categories too.

World itself-  Is it a published world?  Is it completely DM-created?  Is it loosely based off something else? 
If you're in apublcished world, how stuck are you on Canon? 

Relationships between PC's and NPC's?  Do PC backgrounds have enough holes that the DM must fill in with NPC's?  Do your players accept these plot hooks (or whatever you'd like to call them)?  Do you want your players to come up with new relationships?

If you're creating your own world, and populating it with new gods, restrictions on races and classes, how much info do you give your players to then fill in other details on their own?


As a DM- I love to use the published setting of Eberron.  I stick to the Canon that's established in the core rulebooks, but play it loosely.  If players want to create relationships to NPC's, that's fine and I'll roll with it as best I can.  I try to incorporate their background into adventures.  I have done some shoehorning of creating NPC relationships to the PC's, first as a way for the disparate adventurers to actually work together in the first place.  The one time I tried to force an unknown relationship between two characters failed miserably. 
Aemelia was the 'leader' of the crew, the captain of the group as it were.  Allrion was the wizard that was new to the party.  I knew from Allrion's background that he was running away from something/someone.  I decided that Allrion was looking for Aemelia and her crew, to help him hide, and that Aemelia had something to offer Allrion.  I just didn't say what that was and left it up to the players to decide.  Without a buy-in from both players, it fell flat and we had no other reason for Allrion to join the party.  It basically went- So, I hear there's something I can do for you.  Yep, but I don't know what.  Okay, nice meeting you.

I'd like it if players came up with hooks and relationships more often, but I don't want them naming every NPC and deciding the population of each town.  But I'm fine with it if a player tells me that she recognizes the barkeep as an old friend, or perhaps that the shopkeeper is a former thief or something interesting.

As a Player- I'd like to have sufficient knowledge of the world I'm playing in so that I can create relationships with the NPC's.  And I'd like enough freedom for the DM to roll with it if I come up with something that would make sense.  I'd like to say that my character has an existing relationship with the NPC we just met.  I'd like to be able to say that I recognize some of the corpses in the town that was just slaughtered, or that I'd been there before and I'm worried about my old friends, and have the DM run with it.

So, how much input should players have in world-building?
The way my group does this is a bit different. The world we play in seems to have coelesced as Faerun cosmology (mostly) with Eberron tech, but we never sat down and decided that. What happens is, we rotate DMs, but each DM tends to build on / borrow from what previous ones have done. So it's shared storytelling on a very large scale, and a picture of the world starts to emerge after several campaigns. But the players as players don't tend to influence things at the world level very much -- at least, not during game sessions.

Regarding NPC's...it varies quite. When I introduced a particular recurring villain, one of my players thought it would be interesting if she knew him already, having previously worked as his lab assistant and then quit because he was evil. This worked brilliantly for the development of both the PC and the NPC, and also gave me a nice way to slip in relevant details about the villain's background by saying she remembered them. Most of the time, though, we've been adventuring in locations that are new to all the PC's and not run into old "friends" other than each other. But I think more of this sort of thing would be good for the game.
What input should Players have in world building?
I think this could be broken down into different categories too.

World itself-  Is it a published world?  Is it completely DM-created?  Is it loosely based off something else? 
If you're in apublcished world, how stuck are you on Canon? 

Relationships between PC's and NPC's?  Do PC backgrounds have enough holes that the DM must fill in with NPC's?  Do your players accept these plot hooks (or whatever you'd like to call them)?  Do you want your players to come up with new relationships?

If you're creating your own world, and populating it with new gods, restrictions on races and classes, how much info do you give your players to then fill in other details on their own?



For published worlds, I'll use them only if everyone at the table is familiar with them. If they're not, we're better off just making a new world together. That process will include a great deal of player input. The DM gets a say, certainly, but unless the players agree, it's just an idea.
  
Aemelia was the 'leader' of the crew, the captain of the group as it were.  Allrion was the wizard that was new to the party.  I knew from Allrion's background that he was running away from something/someone.  I decided that Allrion was looking for Aemelia and her crew, to help him hide, and that Aemelia had something to offer Allrion.  I just didn't say what that was and left it up to the players to decide.  Without a buy-in from both players, it fell flat and we had no other reason for Allrion to join the party.  It basically went- So, I hear there's something I can do for you.  Yep, but I don't know what.  Okay, nice meeting you.



The approach is why this falls flat. It's "Gettin' Ta Know Ya" stuff and it comes with a huge risk of being terrible. I think this is because the players don't know how to properly utilize their metagame knowledge ("Obviously, Bob's character is joining the group tonight because Bob is here to game..."), oftentimes because they've learned somewhere along the way that "metagaming is bad." If this is the case, it's on the DM to frame it under the premise that the PCs already know each other from some time or place or circumstance, then ask direct, open-ended questions to flesh it out. 

I'd like it if players came up with hooks and relationships more often, but I don't want them naming every NPC and deciding the population of each town.  But I'm fine with it if a player tells me that she recognizes the barkeep as an old friend, or perhaps that the shopkeeper is a former thief or something interesting.



I'm fine with them making up just about anything as long as it's cool, done in good faith to improve the game experience for all, and something we can use in actual play. I really don't care for NPCs for the most part. I find many DMs overuse the heck out of them in my experience. In my view, this movie's about the PCs. NPCs need only come into the foreground as needed and oftentimes that's best determined by the players.

As a Player- I'd like to have sufficient knowledge of the world I'm playing in so that I can create relationships with the NPC's.  And I'd like enough freedom for the DM to roll with it if I come up with something that would make sense.  I'd like to say that my character has an existing relationship with the NPC we just met.  I'd like to be able to say that I recognize some of the corpses in the town that was just slaughtered, or that I'd been there before and I'm worried about my old friends, and have the DM run with it.



I like for the players to do all that and more, if they want. As for "sufficient knowledge of the world," that's why I don't use published worlds if somebody at the table isn't familiar with it. Because if there is a blank slate, they can just make up whatever they need to as they inspired by the quirky NPC or the corpses in the town. "I knew that man from Goldlach." What's Goldlach? It didn't exist a second ago... tell me about it.

So, how much input should players have in world-building?



The more, the better.

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I'm beginning to believe that worlds should be created almost entirely collaboratively.

I like certain established worlds, and would often like to explore them as written, but what I find this leads to is me shutting down ideas and expectations from the players. They get very excited about what they think I'm leading up to and then wind up disappointed at the eventual reveal. Or, if they know the world themselves, then either the reveal isn't surprising, or the understood it differently from me.

I have yet to do anything long term with this, but my early efforts on basically asking my players what are some key details of a location in the game world worked very well. Everyone participated and added on to others' ideas. Everyone is much more invested in this part of the world than they would have been if I'd just shown them pictures, read boxed text, and told them "No, it's actually this way" when ever they made assumptions.

At presented we're not playing in any established world, so any aspect of it that we haven't already established could go any way we liked. At some point, though, I'd like us to play in Eberron, Athas, or even the Forgotten Realms, and I hope to attempt this up-front on a somewhat larger scale. That said, I see no reason to establish a whole world up-front, and I prefer to establish details as they come into view of the characters.

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

At presented we're not playing in any established world, so any aspect of it that we haven't already established could go any way we liked. At some point, though, I'd like us to play in Eberron, Athas, or even the Forgotten Realms, and I hope to attempt this up-front on a somewhat larger scale. That said, I see no reason to establish a whole world up-front, and I prefer to establish details as they come into view of the characters.


It's funny, I have pretty much the opposite experience. We play often in the Forgotten Realms, making sidetrips to interplanar locations sometimes. I've only done a whole new world once. It was pretty cool, so I might do it again. But we're all pretty comfortable playing in a prepublished world.
It's funny, I have pretty much the opposite experience. We play often in the Forgotten Realms, making sidetrips to interplanar locations sometimes. I've only done a whole new world once. It was pretty cool, so I might do it again. But we're all pretty comfortable playing in a prepublished world.

To be clear, I haven't ever made a whole new world, just the bits and pieces the players interacted with.

Only myself and one other player have much interest in reading books or novels about game worlds, but I've found that downloading that knowledge to others doesn't work. That's the main reason I don't bother playing in a published world: all the stuff I bothered learning would go in one ear and out the other for them. In addition, prepublished stuff really tends to get in the way of interesting ideas. So, I think it will be more enjoyable for all of us if those who know the worlds can use what we know when pitching ideas, and those who don't can build off of those in directions that have meaning for them.

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

I like certain established worlds, and would often like to explore them as written, but what I find this leads to is me shutting down ideas and expectations from the players. They get very excited about what they think I'm leading up to and then wind up disappointed at the eventual reveal. Or, if they know the world themselves, then either the reveal isn't surprising, or the understood it differently from me.



Yes! This is why I don't like to do published worlds with a group where some might not be familiar with it. It's a helpful creative constraint for those that know it and buy-in to whatever level everyone is comfortable smashing canon to bits. It's an unhelpful creative constraint to those who don't have as solid a knowledge of the game world.

Only myself and one other player have much interest in reading books or novels about game worlds, but I've found that downloading that knowledge to others doesn't work. That's the main reason I don't bother playing in a published world: all the stuff I bothered learning would go in one ear and out the other for them.



This ranks up there as my number one reason to do world-building as a group. Info-dumps are risky. It's a rare player that's going to absorb and appreciate the DM's efforts on even a superficial level and this can lead to dissatisfaction on the DM's part. After all, they created this cool thing - why doesn't anybody seem to remember all these sweet details I came up with? For my part as a player, if someone info-dumps their campaign world or storyline on me, it may as well be a life insurance seminar, no matter how cool it is.

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
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Check Out My D&D Next Playtest Campaign: The Next World

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As a reformed world-building DM, I firmly believe that players should be at the heart of world-building. Your job is to tie it all together.

Odds are that few of your players have joint degrees in theoretical theology and history, so the epic saga of how the twin gods Yurgos and Vargys initiated the Tyrellian Civil War will probably go right over their heads. Too many DMs get tripped up trying to play Tolkein. Don't punish yourself like that.

Instead, give the players a blank canvas based on some very very very broad and accepted guidelines ("Is everyone cool with a gritty, low-magic world?" "Does everyone want to be pirates?"). Ask them to fill out a question sheet (I have my own, though there are dozens of them out there on creative writing sites) for their character. What god do they worship? What was their homeland like? What fairy tales and myths did their grandparents tell them to make them behave? See the common threads between your players' ideas and weave them together. Let them sketch the portrait and you color in the lines they make.

Players feel more involved, and they are a heck of a lot more likely to remember the Tyrellian Civil War if their grandfather was an imperial knight who died in a famous battle (because they all made up the war and the country and the knightly order in their backstory to begin with).        
I've played in both my own custom worlds and the forgotten realms. Both are interesting experiences.

With the established fiction of Faerun, the players had everything they needed to know about an area and they could work with that. I didn't have to do so much, I could focus on mainly just creating adventures, events, etc. As for sticking to it's canon? I do try to use it, but I also throw out stuff that isn't necessary or relevant or just twist it to suit my own purposes. After all, one of the first things it says in the book is "this is your game, your world, you're the DM, use only what you like" (probably paraphrased that).

In my own worlds, everything is made from scratch with no or minimal player input. During character creation, I will let them create NPCs they need to make their character backgrounds work. But for them to know or have history with any NPCs I personally create? It is entirely based on the circumstances of the campaign premise. If I know they are characters who have been in a location for a length of time, I will give the players knowledge of important or notable NPCs in the area who they are likely to have had relationships with. If they are traveling PCs, then odds are good they will not have ever known any NPCs I create and use before the campaign begins. Now, say if they are known to frequent any particular town in their travels, they might know a few here and there.

Also, on NPC relationships, I enjoy letting the players develop relationships with NPCs after they meet them in the campaign and letting them evolve from there. It's far more useful and more interesting, IMO, to let the players get to know a NPC through in-game interactions. It leads to natural developments that can be used later down the line and makes for adjustable story telling in both the short term and long term. I do so very much enjoy using NPCs, if they manage to stick around.

Mine is mostly a style of exploration. So, players get no say on what is in the world or why it's there unless it directly pertains to their characters. I want them thinking about how they choose to interact with the world around them based on what their character would do. Not thinking about trying to help the DM give a suitable motivation for the villain. It detracts from the roleplaying experience and breaks the illusion far too often to do much good at my table. That said, beforehand if I'm creating a new world, I try to give the players as much information as I can about general information and knowledge. I don't let them know all the specifics, only the ones important to their characters backgrounds.
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Instead, give the players a blank canvas based on some very very very broad and accepted guidelines ("Is everyone cool with a gritty, low-magic world?" "Does everyone want to be pirates?"). Ask them to fill out a question sheet (I have my own, though there are dozens of them out there on creative writing sites) for their character. What god do they worship? What was their homeland like? What fairy tales and myths did their grandparents tell them to make them behave? See the common threads between your players' ideas and weave them together. Let them sketch the portrait and you color in the lines they make.

Lots of questions can suggest themselves naturally during the course of the creation. It's not hard for two players to suggest somewhat contradictory concepts and this prompts the question of what is really going on. Ask the questions that other answers raise.

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

Back in my 1E AD&D days I did some detailed advanced mapping of vast areas. This turned out to be problematic because the players had to already know my world in order to place the origin of their characters. (This would be somewhat simpler for a published setting - the first time I played in Eberron I came in knowing pretty much nothing about the setting but still found it easy to determine where my character pretty much had to be from.)

 I have found it a lot easier to be vague. We're starting in Garranton, a seaport on the south coast of a continent. Where are your characters from? "Where's the north coast?" Somewhere north of here. "Okay, my character is from the mountains of the north coast." Sure, I guess there must be some mountains somewhere on the north coast. "But... I want MY character to be from the northern plains." No problem. There are some plains to the north. Are they east, west, or south of the mountains? South, okay, is there a river running north from your plains through a gap in the  mountains? Yes? Are the plains folks all nomadic hunters, or is there a respectable amount of farming going on? Lots of farmers. Okay there's a city somewhere along that river, at or near its mouth, because there would be. (Yes, there would - this is a real-world recurring pattern that includes London, New York, and Bangkok plus dozens or hundreds of other cities.) Unless it's so cold that the river freezes over most of the year. Not that cold? The city is named, um, Rimald. I'll figure out why if and when it matters. Did you two meet before you started adventuring?

If two players' ideas of the world CANNOT be reconciled, it's up to the DM to decide what's right. But usually they can.  
"The world does not work the way you have been taught it does. We are not real as such; we exist within The Story. Unfortunately for you, you have inherited a condition from your mother known as Primary Protagonist Syndrome, which means The Story is interested in you. It will find you, and if you are not ready for the narrative strands it will throw at you..." - from Footloose

As much as they are willing to provice.


If you're in apublcished world, how stuck are you on Canon?  

You can break as much as your players will allow. If they start to object, don't break cannon in that area.

Relationships between PC's and NPC's?  Do PC backgrounds have enough holes that the DM must fill in with NPC's?  Do your players accept these plot hooks (or whatever you'd like to call them)?  Do you want your players to come up with new relationships?

They generally do and a DM should make NPCs as long as the PCs are fine with it. If they don't like or want your NPC in their background drop it.

If you're creating your own world, and populating it with new gods, restrictions on races and classes, how much info do you give your players to then fill in other details on their own?

I ask the players to help pick races/gods. Classes aren't something people notice in game, so I don't know why this is in this area. If they don't particulalrly what races or gods, I will work it out myself and let them know.


I'd like it if players came up with hooks and relationships more often, but I don't want them naming every NPC and deciding the population of each town.

Why Not?

"In a way, you are worse than Krusk"

"Can't say enough how much I agree with Krusk"

"Your advice is the worst"

After all, one of the first things it says in the book is "this is your game, your world, you're the DM, use only what you like" (probably paraphrased that).



Paraphrasing this quote seems very appropriate. 
What input should Players have in world building?
I think this could be broken down into different categories too.

World itself-  Is it a published world?  Is it completely DM-created?  Is it loosely based off something else?



I have ideas about several worlds, and at the moment I'm running a game in a world that is loosely based on the 4th ed. cosmology (points of light setting) but has some of its own gods too. I have built 'complete' worlds in the past, although they are usually mere sketches of the world. If players want to add ideas, I'm happy to use them.

Relationships between PC's and NPC's?  Do PC backgrounds have enough holes that the DM must fill in with NPC's?  Do your players accept these plot hooks (or whatever you'd like to call them)?  Do you want your players to come up with new relationships?



My players have all simply sprung into being, without any ties to NPCs despite spending their whole lives thus far in starting location. I present some NPC connections as options, but I don't push the players to present their entire background. I would love it if they had families, I would definitely include those in the adventures, but so far my players haven't been interested in doing the background work. I have considered creating families for them, but I don't want to impinge on their idea of their character.

In one game I prepared for (but never ended up running) I had created a series of families that made up the village, and offered players the opportunity to slot themselves into the existing families. It was a lot of work on my part and unfortunately the game never took off, but I believe the players enjoyed having choices. There was also information about dead families, if the players really wanted to be orphans. And I had adventure hooks tied in with the kidnapping of family members (Labrynth style).

If you're creating your own world, and populating it with new gods, restrictions on races and classes, how much info do you give your players to then fill in other details on their own?



My inclination in the past was to give them all the info, but that proved to be excessive and players simply weren't interested in reading pages and pages of background hand outs. These days if I was doing that, I would offer one or two sentence summaries of the important stuff - a list of gods worshiped in the starting area, some gods they had maybe heard about. A list of races/cultures. A summary of their village/town/city. If they wanted more info I would flesh things out, if they wanted to have things I hadn't considered, I'd probably say yes if it fit the themes of the game. I'd let them create their own background (if they wanted to) and work that into the area if thematic or provide them with a basic background if they gave me nothing to work with.

As much as you're comfortable with.

A good rule is to allow every player to make any suggestion they want about world building, just so long as they understand that you may not use what they suggest.
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What input should Players have in world building?
I think this could be broken down into different categories too.

World itself-  Is it a published world?  Is it completely DM-created?  Is it loosely based off something else?



I have ideas about several worlds, and at the moment I'm running a game in a world that is loosely based on the 4th ed. cosmology (points of light setting) but has some of its own gods too. I have built 'complete' worlds in the past, although they are usually mere sketches of the world. If players want to add ideas, I'm happy to use them.

Relationships between PC's and NPC's?  Do PC backgrounds have enough holes that the DM must fill in with NPC's?  Do your players accept these plot hooks (or whatever you'd like to call them)?  Do you want your players to come up with new relationships?



My players have all simply sprung into being, without any ties to NPCs despite spending their whole lives thus far in starting location. I present some NPC connections as options, but I don't push the players to present their entire background. I would love it if they had families, I would definitely include those in the adventures, but so far my players haven't been interested in doing the background work. I have considered creating families for them, but I don't want to impinge on their idea of their character.

In one game I prepared for (but never ended up running) I had created a series of families that made up the village, and offered players the opportunity to slot themselves into the existing families. It was a lot of work on my part and unfortunately the game never took off, but I believe the players enjoyed having choices. There was also information about dead families, if the players really wanted to be orphans. And I had adventure hooks tied in with the kidnapping of family members (Labrynth style).

If you're creating your own world, and populating it with new gods, restrictions on races and classes, how much info do you give your players to then fill in other details on their own?



My inclination in the past was to give them all the info, but that proved to be excessive and players simply weren't interested in reading pages and pages of background hand outs. These days if I was doing that, I would offer one or two sentence summaries of the important stuff - a list of gods worshiped in the starting area, some gods they had maybe heard about. A list of races/cultures. A summary of their village/town/city. If they wanted more info I would flesh things out, if they wanted to have things I hadn't considered, I'd probably say yes if it fit the themes of the game. I'd let them create their own background (if they wanted to) and work that into the area if thematic or provide them with a basic background if they gave me nothing to work with.


How much input? Most of my players aren't willing to explain how they became orphans, how old they were when they became orphans and how they survived to adulthood, much less giving input on world-building. If you are fortunate enough to have players who are willing to play something other than carbon-copy agnostic orphan mysterious strangers, you are in luck.

If it's a published world... world-building is a pretty strong word. It's already built. Just remember that if the players have expectations of the world, let them know if you plan to veer away from those expectations so they can properly role-play their PCs.

If you took the time to design a world... describe it and let the players go from there. Be flexible, but the player needs to be flexible too. If you say you have a culture where it is very important that arcane spell-users wear pointy hats with stars and moons on it and the player chooses to play a sorcerer in that land and goes blasting spells without the funny hat, he can't really complain if the Guild of Safe Sorcery sends the Mage Slayers after him. If the player says... the purpose of the hat is to warn the non-spell-users, right? Can we just say that mages wear a specific color... as a point of honor? That wouldn't break the world, right?

Loosely-based worlds... like published worlds, players will have expectations. If you plan to vary, let them know. And let them know why.

Playes input is generally good. Unless the player is wanting to play a carbon-copy agnostic orphan mysterious stranger. In that case... you're on your own.
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As much as you're comfortable with.

A good rule is to allow every player to make any suggestion they want about world building, just so long as they understand that you may not use what they suggest.



This is really at the heart of world building. I've played the fate rpg, where the players involvement is very high. Players are always suggesting ideas, but not every player will want to be involved. You might also find some player suggestions are just too self-serving.

Example, a player suggestion his character rules the world and all the players are his subjects.

I've only built one world in my time as GM, it's hard work. So help from players could make this process much easier.
Example, a player suggestion his character rules the world and all the players are his subjects.

It's fair to draw the line at things that directly impact the other players, but even self-serving ideas can be useful. So, the player suggests that his character rules the world: can that be modified, or qualified? What's his reasoning, then, for being an adventurer? What's at stake? He still has only the resources of a normal character, so why is that? Fflewddur Fflam was a king, albeit a minor one, but he still adventured, so there's some precedence. So, if something like this is really suggestion and not just as a joke, consider exploring it.

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

Example, a player suggestion his character rules the world and all the players are his subjects.

It's fair to draw the line at things that directly impact the other players, but even self-serving ideas can be useful. So, the player suggests that his character rules the world: can that be modified, or qualified? What's his reasoning, then, for being an adventurer? What's at stake? He still has only the resources of a normal character, so why is that? Fflewddur Fflam was a king, albeit a minor one, but he still adventured, so there's some precedence. So, if something like this is really suggestion and not just as a joke, consider exploring it.



I don't disagree at all, modification of a player's idea for the game world is at the GM's discretion. And in no way was I suggesting that it not be explored. But players will find little ways of gaining an edge in the game unintentionally and intentionally. Unexpected implications can occur when a players character has enormous power or influence in the game world. The GM just needs to think carefully about the consequences of a character having so much power, or whatever it might be.

I have only created one world and when i did I just laid a foundation. I created main cities as well as the type of climates around the cities. This way the players just have a basic idea of the world as well allowing the option of players to help create any major events.

I would also take any suggestion that  a player makes and allow as long is it isn't a complete joke ( meaning ill take suggestions that may be meant as semi-joke). Another thing i would try to avoid doing is completely  creating everything that exists in the world as many portions will likely not ever be used.
I have only created one world and when i did I just laid a foundation. I created main cities as well as the type of climates around the cities. This way the players just have a basic idea of the world as well allowing the option of players to help create any major events.

I would also take any suggestion that  a player makes and allow as long is it isn't a complete joke ( meaning ill take suggestions that may be meant as semi-joke). Another thing i would try to avoid doing is completely  creating everything that exists in the world as many portions will likely not ever be used.

Excellent point about not trying to create everything. It's easy to get overwhelmed.

Sometimes, just asking the player what STYLE of play they would like... heavy combat, little combat, lots of dungeons, fewer dungeons, political, high magic, low magic, dirty and gritty or comical and silly... is enough input to go on and keep the players happy.

A player who says "I want to play a character like Smurfette" is likely to be more interested in a campaign where the players are halflings whose shire is being oppressed by a half-wit wanna-be Ogre Wizard and his tinker gnome minions.

A player who says "I want to play a character like Sandor Clegane, The Hound in A Game of Thrones" is more likely to be interested in a campaign where players are aristocrats and peasants, lords and ladies and other key players engaged in trying to keep their heads in the midst of a kingdom during a time of intense political intrigue.
A rogue with a bowl of slop can be a controller. WIZARD PC: Can I substitute Celestial Roc Guano for my fireball spells? DM: Awesome. Yes. When in doubt, take action.... that's generally the best course. Even Sun Tsu knew that, and he didn't have internets.
I don't disagree at all, modification of a player's idea for the game world is at the GM's discretion. And in no way was I suggesting that it not be explored. But players will find little ways of gaining an edge in the game unintentionally and intentionally. Unexpected implications can occur when a players character has enormous power or influence in the game world. The GM just needs to think carefully about the consequences of a character having so much power, or whatever it might be.

True, though the DM has an essentially unlimited capacity to challenge the players. There's nothing they might choose to do that the DM could not top far enough to provide an exciting and interesting adventure. The only thing holding a DM back is preplotting, and a hesitancy to give that preplotting up.

I have only created one world and when i did I just laid a foundation. I created main cities as well as the type of climates around the cities. This way the players just have a basic idea of the world as well allowing the option of players to help create any major events.

That's a reasonable level of preparation. It lays the ground work for good leading questions to ask the players, when details need to be filled out, such as "Your Streetwise check indicates that this man is from City X. What has your character heard about people from that city?"

I would also take any suggestion that  a player makes and allow as long is it isn't a complete joke ( meaning ill take suggestions that may be meant as semi-joke). Another thing i would try to avoid doing is completely  creating everything that exists in the world as many portions will likely not ever be used.

Yes, that's what I have found. If one is creating a world, the main enjoyment should come from the creation itself, not from any expectation that the creation will ever be used, or be impressive if it is used. Just the creation itself serves as preparation for later improvisation. Names, items, NPCs, locations, plots etc. that one has dreamed up for other purposes can quickly be slotted into wherever the story finds itself.

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

My two cents is that nothing beats "co-operative" world-building . . .

When players are invited to provide details and descriptions . . . to share in the creative process that breathes life into the campaign world . . . they become invested . . . they come to care . . . the things they help to establish . . . be it a location or a non-player character . . . matter to them.

It's amazing how much more inclined a player is to recall the name and description of a place or person in your campiagn world when he or she was the one that made it up!

You'd be surprized at just how much some very minor detail (in your eyes) may seem so important and unforgetable to the person who provided that detail.

Best of all, when things really matter to players . . . when players have a share in the world around them . . . it's amazing to see how fast they are willing to spring into action when something threatens it. 

It's one of the best motivating tools I have experienced.

How do you do it?

I use the "Me Casa, Su Casa" approach. 

I give the players a house, tell them the some more relevent details (age, lot size, # of rooms etc.) and then ask them to decorate and in some cases, even do a full scale reno.





 
The world I'm currently running was created and designed as a joint project between myself and a friend determined to make an interesting world where things like gods, magic, and the afterlife "make sense"...that is to say, they have explainations for how they are expressed and how they exist in the world.

My players do not actively create during gameplay, however...they much prefer to discover things, investigate and chart their own course in a world that is consistent. Having them make-up stuff on the fly would challenge that feeling of discovery because it is the unknown that they seek. Prior to the game though, I have players create a 3x3...a list of 3 friends, 3 contacts and 3 enemies. In this way, they populate the world with at least 9 NPCs that may be part of organizations or may play roles in other facets of the world. This gives them an immediate investment in the world.

For instance, my rogue has access to a pawn shop in a city where he can rest and fence goods, etc because in his 3x3 he created before the game he had a pawn shop owner that helped raise him. Similarly, the barbarian in my game has a vicious, evil pirate as an enemy...and that pirate is now a major element of the world. The important part is that the players know that once they create NPCs they're in my hands but they also trust me to play and develop them in a way consistent with how they were created while still leaving room for occasional surprises. That trust is important. The 3x3 is also nice because it gives some characters that the players can potentially use as back-up PCs in case their first character dies/retires.
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How do you do it?

I use the "Me Casa, Su Casa" approach. 

I give the players a house, tell them the some more relevent details (age, lot size, # of rooms etc.) and then ask them to decorate and in some cases, even do a full scale reno.

I ask questions, to try to determine what they think makes sense or would be fun in a given scenario, and based on those answers I'll offer some additions, or try to resolve seemingly contradictory ideas. If they're not sure where to begin, or if I think I have something cool to offer, I'll suggest something.

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy