Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Today, I started laying out the Otherverse America Game Master's Guide, and thought I'd talk a little bit about how I laid out the core book, and why I chose that format. Every campaign book I've ever picked up lays out its information differently.
Rifts has a 500 word over view of the setting, then character generation rules and only then do we get history and world info. We get to know the heroes of the setting first, but we're making Dog Boys and Juicers and whatever without ever really getting to know the world they inhabit.
Eberron and Forgotten Realms follow the standard Wizards of the Coast format: races, classes, feats, prestige classes, world info, monsters, spells and items. It's okay, because at least we start off with a description of the races that inhabit the world.
Aberrant, like most White Wolf products, has 100+ pages of history and flavor text before we ever start assigning stats. We definitely know what the world's all about and can build characters that fit in, but the sheer weight of flavor text before rules might turn off some gamers.
So what's the right way to arrange a campaign guide? Fuck if I know. All of these layouts have strengths and weaknesses. What I did was lay out the book as if it were a character's life. The book starts with a birth, and then describes the world and the factions as if the character were literally born into and growing up in Otherverse America. The first 120 pages or so are all history and setting info, but through out the fluff, there are Affiliations- groups players can sign on with and get a bonus similar to a feat. The affiliations mentioned during the first chapters are all available to first level characters- they're things like Choicer clinic defender organizations that characters can belong to in their teens.
Next, I've got the settings starting occupations and birthright feats, which can only be chosen at first level. Now, the characters feel like high school or college students, or boot camp recruits, or whatever, just starting out. After that I've got Advanced Classes, feats and powers. Finally, I've got 'advanced' affiliations that have requirements beyond the reach of most starting characters. Those are options for 'adult' characters, experienced in the world.
Anyway, I kinda like this arrangement.