My last post and some other things I’ve been reading lately have been running around in my head. I’m also considering something that might surprise those who know me well… but I’ll get back to that.
The thing that is running around in my head is this… the difference between established world play and emergent world play. I was thinking about this with my last post about how it is so much easier to get player interest and investment into worlds that they are capable of grabbing onto. I think the reason so many D&D worlds are practically carbon copies of “medieval world with magic” is because it is so easy to grab on and build a character concept. Heck, my homebrew world that I’ve been running for something like 15 years I pretty much describe as, “imagine the time of Charlemagne.” It’s just a really easy short hand to, “it’s this kind of medieval world.”
Same thing with Star Wars and Amber, etc. Everyone (okay, maybe not everyone) identifies with some character from Star Wars and knows about Rebels and Jedi and the Empire and Wookies. Heck, I always just wanna play Lando. And Amber is this powerfully evocative fantasy world that allows players to have a wide range of backgrounds while still fundamentally existing in a universe that just makes sense.
It just seems to me that the wealth of information and easily accessible hooks really aids player engagement. Players can go to the places they’ve seen in the movies, interact with favorite NPCs, be a part of the Rebellion, etc. And despite this they can also play a game which NEVER interacts with the mainstream story told in that universe.
This vexes me though because I think about games like “Houses of the Blooded” which is meant to create emergent detail as the game is played and my current ACKS game which I started a new game world for and which has this problem of, well, if the details are being invented as we go then there is a lot of freedom but… it comes with an inability to predict or plan ahead because you don’t have stable points of detail to build on.
And all of this comes down to the fact that despite my difficulties with FATE and my difficulties with entirely emergent play (because emergent play is a big part of most of my Amber campaigns) I find that I really want to run Houses of the Blooded and have players who are interested in the game. So I need to think more about this, more about how to make such a thing sing… because I want to run the best game I can and I want my players to feel good about it, but I’m fundamentally a planner, a thinker, and it’s tough for me to say, “I don’t know.”