I am become designer, creator of worlds! (p.2)Written by LanJemWezz - Published on June 5, 2013
“I am become designer, creator of worlds!” is a limited series on the ins and outs of building your own roleplaying game from the ground up—and with it a business model by which to grow and create more new ideas.
Now them, let’s continue where we left off last week in our exploration of the Pure Steam™ dev team’s thoughts on how they designed their RPG world…
The Follow-up – Un-limit Yourself
Then I met the rest of the dev team. (We’re making a CD soundtrack to go with it!? Badass!) But collaborative efforts are tricky beasts. You have to yield preferences and go for what works for the whole, and this is usually nothing more than a matter of perspective. You have to “un-limit” yourself from any bias or creative roadblock that might hinder progress. Recognizing how what you provide to any situation can satisfy a need, even if it’s not everything you wanted, is a valuable lesson in any collaborative effort.
For me, this meant adjusting to a more prescribed framework: Pathfinder rules. I don’t own Pathfinder® products. I’m not a convert. (I’m not even much of a steampunk aficionado.) I always thought the earliest stages of planning for our game had intended a more “scratchbuilt” system of our own design. The choice had been made. More practical and marketable. This, of course, informed the world building and storytelling, things I considered my strong suits. Many things changed. Fantasy races had to be made to fit the world model we had been developing. Magic had to be explained (and even explained away in some places). Two of my original class ideas went through the grinder and became archetypes instead, and another was left regulated to a few scribbled notes. I won’t say it was painless, but the game is in a lot better place today because of those changes.
Limiting myself when I was alone had helped to keep me focused, but un-limiting myself from my selfish impulses had let me accept what the game needed to become if it was to see the light of day.
The Bottom Line – Know Your Role
Adam is our creative director. Davin is our steampunk guru. Brennan is our Pathfinder® guru. Ben is our musical guru. Yours truly is just a simple writer and RPG-enthusiast. It’s important to have your bases covered, and if those bases are already covered, don’t be afraid to play between them. (I guess that makes me shortstop?) Look for ways you can unforcefully complement those around you. This means not to insinuate yourself. By becoming comfortable with how I can help shape world lore and, more generally, the quality of language in the final product, even if many of the systematic aspects of the game don’t come from me, I’m satisfied with my role in the group.
This is analogous to how player characters should interact in a roleplaying game. You might not always be the highest damage dealer, or have the most hit points, or be the one with the most skills or feats, but you can still enjoy the role you play if you find a way to complement the best parts of those around you. It’s a social experiment of the highest order.
In the next piece, we’ll explore how playtesting Pure Steam™ went, some of the things we learned, and, in looking back, what we would have done differently. Then, in the final piece, we’ll discuss gaming as a business and other money matters. Until then, thanks for reading and commenting!