Thursday, February 26, 2015

The World Format

Since I have been discussing the 'open world' nature of Chaosium's Questworld, I thought I might also share some world building advice from World Action & Adventure.  As I previously explained, author Gregory L. Kinney intended WA&A to be a “realistic role playing game” in that it would be used to play out situations that are possible in the real world.  However, Kinney did allow for “non-historic scenarios” wherein players could “experience fictitious novel-like or movie-like characters and situations.”

Chapter 10 of the Official Guide addresses world design.  Kinney describes five “world plans.”
PLAN 1.  Earth, with its actual history.
PLAN 2.  Earth, with variations in history and structure.
PLAN 3.  A world, required to have many similarities with Earth.
PLAN 4.  A world like Earth, without specific environments.
PLAN 5.  A completely original world.
With plan 1, actors and Action Guides can just use maps of the real world since there are no differences.  For other plans, Kinney suggests using the world format (shown above) to depict the setting world.  Actually, plan 5 does not require use of the world format:
The world can be any size and can even be a fantasy world.  As an option, the Action Guide does not even have to require any physical laws.  The Action Guide can make up a very unusual world, and even have monsters in it.
Kinney lists the steps in using the world format.  Note that – as an option – the world can be named “Earth” or something else.  In this, Kinney's design philosophy is in agreement with my own.

In the three decades since World Action & Adventure was published, tools (such as donjon) have been developed to facilitate some of the first steps.  Yet human imagination is still required to make the world believable and interesting.  Here is a list of 'world features' that Kinney recommends be represented on the world format.

Step 8 requires the Action Guide to complete the “Country Chart” (shown below).  Here is where my design philosophy diverges from Kinney's.  In my estimation, a “Country Chart” should be a list of performers such as Taylor Swift and Garth Brooks.  What Kinney calls the “Country Chart,” I would name the “Nation Matrix.”  Nations are listed along with their type of government and the race and religion of their populace.  Between any two countries nations there is a “condition.”  The spectrum of conditions is thus:  Allied, Friendly, Neutral, Unfriendly, Enemy, and War.  Kinney helpfully informs us, “War ends when there is a peace treaty, agreement, capture, and/or surrender.”

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