Monday, January 21, 2013

Time to Change the World

Does your game world change? Is it completely stagnant? What about after adventures the players are a part of? Can they change the world? Very important point – I’m not talking about changing everything! Little changes can be good too. Example: For several adventures, you make your players go the long way around a river, because the fording spots are few and far between. Maybe you even slow their return from an adventure because rains have made the ford swollen and they have to wait to get across. Then, you let them know that someone is building a bridge. There’s a narrow spot where they can put up a bridge without affecting the river travel. To the players, no big deal, at least at first. Now they can travel more quickly. But so can everyone else. There will be new roads cut leading to the bridge. There will likely be new towns building up around the bridge. New towns come with all sorts of issues, plus the jealousy of the other towns that use to have all the travelers. Seems a small thing, but within a couple years of the bridge going up, you will change the populations of your towns along the river. If you ran adventures where the players rescued the architect behind the bridge or held off an attack from bandits/pirates/rivals, they will feel attached to the bridge. Seems like a small thing, right? It is. But it makes the world feel more real. What about the wars the party has fought in or around? Do the towns change hands? What are the impacts, both role-playing and adventure starting? Was there a drought? Did the players have to deal with rations being a lot more expensive because of the food shortages? Did the king get old and die? Is his son really old enough and wise enough to rule in his place? Was there any attempt to put a pretender on the throne? Maybe it’s just a duke or baron that has been switched. Is the new guy as supportive of the king as the old guy was? I’m not suggesting you need to immediately go and check the health of every one of your rulers, but if the campaign (or multiple campaigns) has been based in a certain city for 18 years – don’t you have to do something? OK – Let’s give some suggestions for starting small: Do your players and their characters prefer on tavern in town and dislike another? Have something happen to the other one. It caught fire. The owner died and his widow sold it. Whatever. Then you create a different tavern in that spot. Maybe your players will like this one better. Next – If your players have a good relationship with a contact, especially a highly placed political one, have him lose his job. Maybe he said something or maybe there is a full change in the local politics. Now, they are behind the eight ball for getting things fixed politically. Will they still do missions for him if he can’t pay them as much? Remember that the world will change, typically for the worse. Things happen that the adventurers have absolutely no control over (or maybe they did). Especially if the change is an unintended consequence of some mission they ran, then it just gets better to make them pay for it. One last note – Make sure you keep good records of what dates these things happen. If you ever run a campaign in the same general region, but it starts before the other one ended, you’ll need to duplicate the changes in the new campaign.

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