World-Building

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Is 4.0 going to be conducive to world-building? Am I going to be able to easily design my own setting and breath life into it?
From reading Mike Mearls' blog, in the staff blog section. It seems that 4.e supports world creation.

...Although maybe Mr. Mearls is designing the fantasy world that we will all be forced to play in.
One can hope, but I assume it is approximately as supported as it is in 3rd ed.
Overall, I think almost any setting is open to world building. D&D more so than others as you can have the setting be just about anything. Games like World of Darkness still open themselves to some degree of world building but in general it's assumed to take place on earth, though nothing says you couldn't make up your own non-earth world in which these creatures of the night exist instead of earth.

Most RPG games expect the GM to fill in the NPCs, story and challenges so right there you are taking on a form of world building as the world of your campaign would then be somewhat different than the world in my campaign. Further to that, I am willing to bet 4e will not come with any cities pre built which will mean you have to construct that, or continents, or really any maps of any kind. So over all you are going to have to build this world for your players to play within.

So if 4e is condusive or not would be limited mostly by what you are wanting to build and what in a gaming system might stop you from accomplishing that. Nothing in 3e stops me from playing in a post-apocalyptic setting if I want. Rename a few things or explain that all technology was lost and people are reduced to metalworked swords and armors once again.. describe cities as the ruined shells of once vast post-modern cities.. but I could still use all the D&D rules in doing this.
One of the best ways for a system to support worldbuilding is for it to be modular in nature -- provide separate no-, low-, and high-magic options to choose from, for example. I don't really see D&D doing this, because "Dungeons & Dragons" is more than just a set of rules, it's a set of underlying assumptions, a pretty specific sub-genre of Fantasy. Sure, it's changed a lot over the years, and individual groups can always tinker with those assumptions to their liking, but every incarnation of the game has always been about presenting a specific vision of "D&D fantasy" rather than just "generic fantasy". (Go watch Hawk the Slayer and try to convince me that the genre of that movie is anything other than "early 80s D&D".) In fact, I've run games in markedly different systems that were still completely recognizable as "D&D".

So, if they're not going to provide us with means to greatly alter the underlying assumptions about magic, technology level, etc. (and I maintain that they probably shouldn't do that; they're not making d20 Fantasy, they're making D&D), what can the game really do to support worldbuilding? Frankly, I'm not sure. If anyone has ideas, I'd love to hear them.

In my opinion (and I've been a worldbuilding junkie since the day I first learned what a map was ;) ), the best way for D&D to "support" worldbuilding is to not get in the way of it. Keep flavor and mechanics as separate as possible. Flavor is important, but make sure that flavor inspires mechanics rather than restricts it.

For example, if you say "Elves have an almost mystical connection to the natural world, granting them [some kind of mechanical benefit specifically related to trees]" it's going to be more difficult for me to turn the elves in my world into desert dwellers than if you say "Elves have an almost mystical connection to the natural world, granting them [some kind of mechanical benefit in forested environments]." In the latter case, all I really need to do is replace "forested" with "desert"; in the former, since there's no trees in the desert, I need to do more work.

Another -- and probably more important -- way of not getting in the way of worldbuilding is make creating NPCs as quick and painless as possible. Say I have an hour of free time to work on my world. I decide Kingdom Y is ruled by a mid-level wizard. What's more conducive to worldbuilding, spending most of the hour statting out the wizard, or spending most of it sketching the history, culture, and politics of the kingdom?
I hope so. Reading what little we know about 4E I am already working on ideas for my new campaign setting. Even if they don't support it very much I am already happy with the direction I am heading.
So, if they're not going to provide us with means to greatly alter the underlying assumptions about magic, technology level, etc. (and I maintain that they probably shouldn't do that; they're not making d20 Fantasy, they're making D&D), what can the game really do to support worldbuilding? Frankly, I'm not sure. If anyone has ideas, I'd love to hear them.

D&D is a subgenre of fantasy.

Worldbuilding advice: How to build a world such that it is good for roleplaying (as opposed to LotR). What's the point of including ancient civilisation that were rich in magic but have now fallen? What are good ways of placing monsters so that low-level and high-level chars can adventure in the same setting? What sort of political relationships between nations are best for different kinds of games (political intrigue, dungeocnrawling)? Is there any point to adventure guilds and such? How can I make it easier to get PCs together when starting an adventure?

There are topics to be handled. I can come up with more and answer some of those.
D&D is a subgenre of fantasy.

Worldbuilding advice: How to build a world such that it is good for roleplaying (as opposed to LotR). What's the point of including ancient civilisation that were rich in magic but have now fallen? What are good ways of placing monsters so that low-level and high-level chars can adventure in the same setting? What sort of political relationships between nations are best for different kinds of games (political intrigue, dungeocnrawling)? Is there any point to adventure guilds and such? How can I make it easier to get PCs together when starting an adventure?

There are topics to be handled. I can come up with more and answer some of those.

Those are all important topics, but only one of them ("What are good ways of placing monsters... ?") is game-specific. The rest could apply equally to D&D, other fantasy games, or just non-game fantasy writing. That's not to say that "generic" worldbuilding advice isn't important, and I certainly hope they include some, but for a game system to be conducive to worldbuilding, I think it needs to do more than just include general advice alongside the rules.

Here's something I just thought of: you could tie a gameworld organization into the rules by offering access to custom Talent trees to members of that organization. And I don't just mean a vague "oh, it might be a good idea to make your own" mention, the way PrCs were in the DMG, but actually get into the design details -- "a Talent should give at least this much of a mechanical benefit but is overpowered if it gives more than that. A well designed Talent tree should have at least this many talents, with this percentage of them requiring prerequisites according to these guidelines."

In other words, show us where worldbuilding and mechanics might intersect, and when they do, show us the math behind those mechanics.

In
In other words, show us where worldbuilding and mechanics might intersect, and when they do, show us the math behind those mechanics.

Yes.


Personally I would get more out of generic worldbuilding stuff, but I am somewhat far from the average D&Der.
I don't think it has much to do with the ruleset... at least if the ruleset is flexible enough, which is the case with 4e as much as it was in 3e.

Also, I've still got yet to see what are the implications of the "points of light" assumptions, because what I've heard so far about 4e doesn't prevent to use a completely different setup...
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