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Xandros
04-15-2010, 07:31 PM
Do the characters need to have a huge affect on the campaign world?
First some background of how I came to this question.
I was creating a new world and the things that make it unique. As I was working on it, I started to think about how some of these things would change the world as time went on and the ways different eras in the worlds history would play out.
If you think of Greyhawk or the Forgotten Realms as the era of those worlds similar to our medieval era, then you can imagine what those worlds might evolve into if they were to evolve into an era similar to our modern times, or a future sci fi type era.
I could discinctly understand several points in my new worlds history, even a cyberpunk time. I could see using this same world for many different genres of playing, during various points in this worlds history.

The issue I could see with this idea though...... Many fantasy and sci fi stories and movies deal with the main characters saving the world. If the players know that the world is going to exist in the future, (although in a different way) and that they will never need to prevent it's end, or even shape it's major history, will the game still be interesting enough. Is it important that at some point in the campaign they may need to stop the worlds destruction? Is it enough to save cities, stop the current evil, etc. etc. ?
So far as affecting major history, the characters may help turn the tides of large battles, and claim territory for whichever nation without it affecting the other eras in the worlds history as they will be so far apart in time, that many nations will have risen and fallen during that time. So, although they may help obtain freedom for a nation or help nation X to take control of Ys territory, the other eras the worlds history that the players could also play in now have different nations, different boundaries etc. to deal with. On the other hand does that make the characters seem impotent? That no matter what they do, in hundreds of years it won't matter anyway?

Your thoughts please. And Thank you!

outrider
04-15-2010, 07:56 PM
The characters do affect the future. At the end of each of my campaigns. What they have done and didnt do has some effect on the setting. It may not be a world saver but influencing the direction of the future. One end of the campaign ended with the overthrow of invaders whom had been there for some 100 years. I set the next campaign some 100 years beyond and extrapoliated what the players desires were and what was actually accomplished.

I took this information as a basis for another group to start a new campaign. I also find that players like being part of the history of the setting, even if they have new characters.

Xandros
04-15-2010, 11:50 PM
Okay, Is that to say then that you believe that it is neccessary then, and that you don't believe that players would enjoy a setting like I described? That they may feel unimportant?

Xandros
04-16-2010, 09:20 PM
Some other examples that have come to mind. If people ever play in a historic earth campaign where there isn't an oportunity to change the major timeline. If they are on the Titanic, it's still going to sink. We know that. It's history. However whether the characters would be able to get off the ship is unknown. Again in an earth history campaign, the characters may be key in helping the Roman empire rise to power, or win a battle, large and small, but modern earth is just as it is. We already know how things are. Which is a good example of the world I am describing. We know how things are (basically) hundreds of years in the future (when playing in the fantasy time period). We know the world won't come to an end. We know that demons aren't going to rule (or if they do, something will happen in between the periods to end that). We know that if X nation becomes a world power, that in the future that has changed anyway. '

Another example is watching the Xena television show. We know the world won't end, because it eventually leads to our present. We even see some episodes set in their future. However we don't know (other than the fact it is a tv show, and she is the main character) that Xena will live, beat the enemy etc.

outrider
04-16-2010, 11:23 PM
My belief is that players in general want their characters to make a change in a setting. That is really part of the point of being a hero. If not why play if you are going to be some dude who just wanders about not affecting anything. That is just my opinion.

mrken
04-17-2010, 12:13 AM
There is a difference in a game as you describe it and a television show. In the television show the writers collaborate to reach the preplanned conclusion.

As a GM we constantly take situations and extrapolate things to reach a desired conclusion. But when we put players in charge of their characters we invite an altered state to our plans. We no longer can expect the world view to match our preconceived expectations. We have invited the players to change our plans. We then go back and with the new knowledge they have presented us with and reconstruct the new present into the new future. It has to be a collaboration with us knowing what we want and the players who really have no clue (if you are being fair to them) and allowing them to adjust your present world to their desires.

This collaboration is the game. Between the two of you (you and the players), the world will take shape. Neither of you will really be in charge, but both of you will witness the surprise of the world being born. Really, in most ways, completely a surprise to the both of you.

But you can't expect the intended future if you have over control to the player of a character who in all intents can and hopefully will have some input on the shape of the future. Unless they know of the future you intend how can they possibly help direct the world in that direction.

But to expect them to play the game to that end would be to cheat both of you of the enjoyment of the game. That is truly railroading! I would not want to play a game where nothing I would or could do would have any bearing on the final outcome. Why play then, you already know the outcome? I play and GM to find out what the outcome will be. To me, the real fun is walking the road. Not teleporting to the end of the game.

fmitchell
04-17-2010, 12:34 AM
The characters do affect the future. At the end of each of my campaigns. What they have done and didnt do has some effect on the setting. It may not be a world saver but influencing the direction of the future.

In general, I agree, but depends on genre: in Space Opera, the main characters are almost always The Most Important People In The Universe (unless it's Star Wars, which already has some), whereas in typical swords & sorcery characters can improve their own circumstances but not fundamentally change the world (Elric not withstanding).

My preference is for campaigns where the PCs are the right people in the right place at the right time. A kill-the-monsters-grab-the-loot campaign, where characters level-up but have no other effect, seems kind of absurd: people who kill gods have no effect on the world whatsoever? On the other hand, the Emperor of Everything plot in which a nobody miraculously becomes God-Emperor of the Universe gets really tired really fast. Then there's a "fixed history" game, like Star Wars, where NPCs change the world while PCs muck around at the edges: watching other people become heroes, especially if the PCs are always right next to them, is really no fun.

The last campaign I played with the best GM I've ever met offers a concrete positive example. The PCs were the common-born children of a famous paladin, and their friends. At our father's funeral the king made the eldest male the Duke of a small, broken-down duchy, and the rest of us the ruling family and staff. We worked to get the kingdom on its feet: hired the former guards who had become bandits, got the quarry working again, promoted knights to guard manors, and killed trespassing orcs. At the end, we and our levied armies repelled a massive orc invasion, helped by a strange assortment of allies: a neighboring duchy even smaller than ours, troops of the Faerie Queen and the Goblin King, and intelligent spiders whose home we cleared out (to get them out of the quarry).

Note that no other duchy helped: our more powerful neighbor planned to meet the orcs after they rampaged through our lands, and everyone else went on a crusade in the opposite direction. In the DM's epilogue, the king and many lords died in the crusade, and the man who filled the power vacuum and became the new king ... was our Duke. That would have been a cool campaign too, but he only had a month or so before he moved across the country.

In the campaign I'm always working on but never running, I do have a future history in mind ... but the PCs may end up halting the oncoming invasion. The Orclands campaign I blogged about, set in the future of the same world, might have seen the PCs end a lurking threat to the continent, save their homeland, and perhaps strike a blow in a secret mystical war that began at Creation and may end sooner than anyone expects ... or set loose a great evil, watch the annihilation of their race, and/or strike a blow for the wrong side.

Xandros
04-17-2010, 02:14 AM
My belief is that players in general want their characters to make a change in a setting. That is really part of the point of being a hero. If not why play if you are going to be some dude who just wanders about not affecting anything. That is just my opinion.

That is what I am thinking. I liked the idea when it occurred to me, but then thought as a player it might be a deterrent.

I want to point out that my idea was not that the players would not be affecting anything. They would be fighting the same types of battles and schemes as any other campaign, except for any campaigns where the end of the world is at stake. It would be very much like playing in a historical earth campaign. You would still be fighting the same battles, but would just know that in a thousand years the modern earth is still going to end up the way it is now. You know it can't end, because it obviously didn't.

However I think the idea, even if it is just in the back of the characters mind, that in a few hundred years their characters actions wouldn't still show, may make them feel as though they are impotent.

---------- Post added at 12:57 AM ---------- Previous post was at 12:32 AM ----------



But you can't expect the intended future if you have over control to the player of a character who in all intents can and hopefully will have some input on the shape of the future. Unless they know of the future you intend how can they possibly help direct the world in that direction.

Just to be clear, I wasn't talking about guiding the players into the way the world would turn out. The players would know of the future that is intended, but I think that is what the problem would be. They would not be helping to direct the world in that direction. It would be a matter of the same world, but it could be played in, in different eras. They wouldn't be directing it to that era much like Conan doesn't direct the hyborian age to the Star Trek era. If you look at the future spacefaring era of the campaign world, they aren't going to feel too affected by what went on in the medieval era. Obviously the minute details that happened back then made the world what it is, and would cause a different outcome, however those details are not covered so specifically in the campaign worlds description.

I think I am not explaining it well for people to understand. If anyone plays in a space age game, they will know the basics of the world, and a basic history more detailed in the recent history, but to play they don't need to know what happened in a battle 1,000 years ago so it isn't spelled out. So the characters playing in a medieval era of that same world do not know how that battle will end either, and thus don't need to be led to that result. Again the downfall is that the players know that their world does survive into the space age.

I think one problem with me trying to explain it, is that people wonder 'well why even bother setting them in the same world?'. The reason is that there is a magical yet scientific element, system that I came up with for the world, that I later realized would have some interesting results in a modern and also a cyberpunk age. Using the exact same type of magic tech, in different worlds with no relationship to each other seems kind of forced or coincidental. But maybe that is what I need to do.

For the record, I am just explaining my thought process, not arguing. Because I agree with you, and understand that players may not find that type of world interesting to play in. In fact in most worlds I do usually have the theme that the world is in danger. That the characters are above and beyond even the other heroes of the world and that the fate of the world may very well rest in their hands alone. Even if the players do not ever become kings (even that would still be possible in the world I described. In a space campaign, do the players know who was king 1,000 years ago?) or become gods, but there is at least that possibility.

---------- Post added at 01:14 AM ---------- Previous post was at 12:57 AM ----------


My preference is for campaigns where the PCs are the right people in the right place at the right time. A kill-the-monsters-grab-the-loot campaign, where characters level-up but have no other effect, seems kind of absurd: people who kill gods have no effect on the world whatsoever? On the other hand, the Emperor of Everything plot in which a nobody miraculously becomes God-Emperor of the Universe gets really tired really fast. Then there's a "fixed history" game, like Star Wars, where NPCs change the world while PCs muck around at the edges: watching other people become heroes, especially if the PCs are always right next to them, is really no fun.

Thanks. That is very much what I mean by the types of campaigns that I usually run too, along with a good description of why I think my idea probably wouldn't work. The Star Wars universe is a good example about the fixed history, although the history in my world would not have been as defined as Star Wars. More just the basic theme of the different eras would be described, but not the history of what happened in between. I remember that playing Star Wars particularly in the earlier eras wasn't much fun for me, because we already knew what the future was going to become no matter what.

MortonStromgal
04-17-2010, 11:48 AM
No, but they should be allowed or able to. The PC choices need to matter but they dont have to save the world every game.

mrken
04-17-2010, 12:34 PM
"A long time ago in a galaxy far far away." This worked in Star Wars. Placing the game in a different place and time. But playing in a game with a known history is great, but playing with a known future is maybe not so fun for the PC's, it is miserable for the GM.

Malruhn
04-18-2010, 04:28 PM
I play my games the same way as real life... we have as much global impact as we are willing to attempt.

If I stay at home this evening and rearrange my bookshelves, I won't have much global impact. If the players do minor things that have little global impact... then they'll be the same way.

If I go out tonight and assassinate the King of Calasia who happens to be visiting Boston... I will have HUGE global impact. If the players slay Tiamat - hey, they outdid ME!!

If they wanna be movers and shakers - then let them move and shake. If they want to be minor players on a big stage, then let them blend into the backgrounds!

Arch Lich Thoth-Amon
04-19-2010, 02:35 AM
Never. Perhaps because the party's i typically run are tending towards evil in design, and therefore have respective goals that are selfish and self-serving in nature. Good = boring.

The coldest winter i ever spent was a summer in San Francisco, and to put it into dnd terms: The most evil character i've ever seen played is a LG Paladin.

tesral
04-19-2010, 10:02 AM
I strongly advise against it. The problem with world saving, is what do you do for an encore?

In order to be ongoing a game needs to have a smaller scale. It should, nay must matter to the characters. Saving the town is good. I don't like revolving the world around the PCs, but I do revolve the game around them.

I want the characters to be the focus of their story. I want the story smaller than the whole world. If there is a world threatening crisis, how the PCs do will affect the outcome, even if they are not the principles. If they do well, and accomplish goals, the general condition of the crisis will turn in their favor. If they fail, the outcome isn't going well.

Frankly, my Friday GM has not been doing this, he has a world threatening crisis, and no matter how well we do, it doesn't matter. The issue is on rails. I am rapidly losing interest. Hlaf an excuse and I would leave the game.

fmitchell
04-19-2010, 11:24 AM
The Orclands campaign was meant as a "save the tribe, save the world" game. Then again, I meant it to be a limited series ... but I suppose a next step would be investigating the ruins of the ancients and deciding whether to use their safer magics or to bury them. It might even end by rebuilding their original civilization, hopefully in a wiser and more benevolent form.

Still, there are genres where characters save the world on a regular basis; Buffy the Vampire Slayer comes to mind. Its secret is to intertwine the personal and the cosmic, common fears and supernatural horrors. Your boyfriend has turned evil and is slaughtering your other friends, or your best friend's rampage of revenge will destroy the world; the evil that starts in your home town may engulf the world, or demons want to kidnap your little sister to open a portal to hell.

If played right, an entire campaign in which the world is always a hair's breadth from falling into chaos could work. (That's the entire premise of Warhammer, after all.)

Malruhn
04-19-2010, 08:11 PM
When I posted, I didn't infer that the PC's needed to be earth-movers from first level...

At first level, hey, like Heroes, "Save the Cheerleader, save the... cheerleader."
At second level, Kill the goblins, save the farmer.
Fourth level: Kill the hob-gobs, save the village.
Seventh level: kill the were-beasts, save the merchant's guild.
EPIC level: save the phreaking world.

And the next adventure is for brand new PC's... who are looking for a cheerleader to save.

Tesral's right - if you use the same crap over and over, the players will recognize it as crap. If you mix it up with other stuff, you can get players to eat LOTS of crap!

templeorder
04-29-2010, 01:08 PM
High fantasy usually throws characters in the role of hero and they end of having a great impact. They will always have some - you're not just telling a story with props - the characters impact what happens in the game world. If not, just read, no need to drag people to a game session where its all fore-ordained. I have an entire campaign that takes place in Crow Alley - really a single district in a large city. Do they impact the world at large - not really. Do they impact their world? Definitely. The scope of the campaign will determine, to a big degree, how much impact they do have.

Dimthar
04-29-2010, 10:02 PM
How the PCs affect the world IMHO should be directly related to their Power. Killing a band of orcs would not have the same effect as removing Dark Lord Tyranus the Ursurper.

Now!, if your goal is a long campaign, for the first levels I would recommend the "Butterfly Effect". That goblin killed was a runner from the Horde's army in his way to ask for reinforcements for a major battle. Think about Legolas trying to kill the guy with the torch in "Two Towers".