Do your eyes glaze over at the details other people's fantasy settings?

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Do you have trouble listening to the details of other people's homebrewed fantasy settings? Is it because there's just too many fantasy settings out there to keep them all straight, or is it because you have trouble taking non-professional settings seriously? How bad do you feel about this reaction from yourself? Do you worry others react that way to your own material?

Is it a major unspoken faux pas to talk about your own setting's details too much at tabletop gatherings that aren't explicitly about playing in your setting?
 

Edgewise

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It really depends. If I hear a lot of made-up words spoken with undue solemnity, something inside me scream "NEEEEEEEERD!" and the rest of my brain falls asleep. I internally apply the "elven geneology" label to such things. On the other hand, if someone starts talking to me about how their setting is ruled by psychic snailmen or some other gonzo crap, I'm like "Do go on."
 

Baulderstone

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If it takes more than a couple of minutes to tell me enough about your setting to start playing, it better be damn compelling. Learning about a game world while exploring it is fun. Getting an infodump before the game is not.
 

K_Peterson

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I think it really depends on the volume of details they're providing. If I have to sit through some long discussion, or read through a manifesto, about the minutia of someone's setting it's going to lose me. Give me a brief summary, and let me explore that setting in game sessions and I'll be far more accepting of a homebrewed fantasy setting.

Talking too much about a homebrewed fantasy setting is probably as much a faux pas as talking too much about your fantasy player character. :smile:

It doesn't have anything to do with professional vs. unprofessional settings. I've seen plenty of dreck when it comes to professional settings.
 

Dumarest

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Do you have trouble listening to the details of other people's homebrewed fantasy settings?
Usually...but there can be exceptions.

Is it because there's just too many fantasy settings out there to keep them all straight, or is it because you have trouble taking non-professional settings seriously?
It has nothing to do with whether it is amateur or professional; it has to do with whether it is interesting to me. Most professional and amateur settings hold little to no interest for me.

How bad do you feel about this reaction from yourself?
I don't feel bad at all, but I try not to be rude about not wanting to hear more.

Do you worry others react that way to your own material?
I try not to inflict my settings on strangers. Then again, I mostly use real-world historical settings.

Is it a major unspoken faux pas to talk about your own setting's details too much at tabletop gatherings that aren't explicitly about playing in your setting?
On the contrary, I assume it's expected to some degree; however, people should shut up quickly and get down to the matter at hand because we're here to play a game and it's rude to hold up the referee so we can talk about our homemade worlds instead of playing in hers.
 

Apparition

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I don't know if it's because that I tend to tune out medieval fantasy, but I've found that the settings that require some amount of infodump before play are science-fiction settings. Robotech, Buck Rogers XXVc, etc., all have relatively unique settings that players should know something about before go time. On the other hand, the few fantasy RPG sessions I've played had little to no setting knowledge required.
 

noman

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Do you have trouble listening to the details of other people's homebrewed fantasy settings?

No.

I like hearing and reading about other people's settings. I think it's cool that people put so much passion and effort into their own creative work, and I can usually find something, some idea or concept, that I can mine for my own use.
 

Apocryphal

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Yes, and largely because those fantasy settings are just generic rehashes of generic fantasy material with new names that don't make much sense. Typically, if I see:
Elves, dwarves, orcs, (or other D&D tropes like kobolds or gnolls), an assumed medieval setting, names that don't reflect that there are local languages, or names cobbled together by mashing up two english words..
Then I tune out. I probably have even more do-nots, so this is just a start.

If, on the other hand, I were ever to see (and this hasn't happened yet):
Settings obviously inspired by some other part of the world than Europe, China, or Japan, or inspired by some period the than the Middle Ages, I might tune in.
 
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PrinceofNothing

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Do you have trouble listening to the details of other people's homebrewed fantasy settings? Is it because there's just too many fantasy settings out there to keep them all straight, or is it because you have trouble taking non-professional settings seriously? How bad do you feel about this reaction from yourself? Do you worry others react that way to your own material?

It's a tricky one. In my experience most GM's that make their own worlds are very dedicated but not that creative, and the ones that are most inclined to talk about their setting tend to suffer from a sort of 'wanna-be-author' complex. I'm not even convinced a good GM is necessarily the most creative, sweeping-high concept guy out there, all one needs is a firm grasp of fun, the ability to play a ground and a difference between your creativity and that of the players. A good GM puts player enjoyment first and draws satisfaction from that.

Generally a guy telling you about his campaign world or even stuff that happened in his campaign is boring because you weren't there, it's like someone telling you about a novel you have not read. It's enough to catch your interest but it should stop after that. I'd be willing to bet non-professional settings are on average more derivative but certainly not necessarily so.

If I don't care about the setting (e.g almost always unless you are specifically talking about making a setting) I listen politely then attempt to steer the conversation to another subject. Anyone worth talking to will pick up the social cues and go along. I don't generally talk about my own campaign unless it is a very short, concrete example that ties in to some other elfgame topic or in response to a question. I suppose that counts as worrying, it is almost unfathomable to me that people would find discussion about elfgame settings interesting unless they are actively stating they want to talk about such a thing.

Is it a major unspoken faux pas to talk about your own setting's details too much at tabletop gatherings that aren't explicitly about playing in your setting?

It's very easy to come across a horrible nerd even to other nerds in such a situation but you should liken it to talking about your favourite science fiction show that nobody has watched or heard of. It's hard for other people to relate unless they too start talking about their settings and a discussion or dialog about comparative setting creation techniques takes place.

TLDR. Don't unless you are talking to other GM's and you are interested in discussing setting creation. Otherwise it's a boring info dump.

Apparition said:
I don't know if it's because that I tend to tune out medieval fantasy, but I've found that the settings that require some amount of infodump before play are science-fiction settings. Robotech, Buck Rogers XXVc, etc., all have relatively unique settings that players should know something about before go time. On the other hand, the few fantasy RPG sessions I've played had little to no setting knowledge required.

Totally agree. Probably because everyone has a firmer grip of 'generic fantasy tropes' and science fiction is more balkanized. Learning about a sci-fi universe while you play it is very rewarding though.
 

Baulderstone

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It's very easy to come across a horrible nerd even to other nerds in such a situation but you should liken it to talking about your favourite science fiction show that nobody has watched or heard of. It's hard for other people to relate unless they too start talking about their settings and a discussion or dialog about comparative setting creation techniques takes place.

I think a key thing to observe here is if you are having a conversation or giving a lecture. That goes for anything, whether it is your setting or your favorite show. If you are the only one talking, it might not be a great conversational topic.
 

TristramEvans

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Settings I can usually pay attention to. Its when a person starts talking about their characters...

Oh Man, I am so not even slightly interesting in the magic items you own. And god help me if someone starts talking about stats or feats or some other mechanical widget accomplishment
 

Simlasa

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Even when playing in the setting that I think is interesting, such as Earthdawn, any long explanation will probably be a snoozer. Also, GMs doing this tend to give away far too much information that the PCs would not be privvy to... and I generally like things to remain mysterious as long as possible.
 

Dumarest

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Actually, it depends on how hot she is and what she's wearing.
 

Spinachcat

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I am always happy to hear a 1 minute pitch about a homebrew setting. If it catches me (aka, ruled by psychic snails?), then I will hammer them with follow up questions. But if its just the usual BOG vanilla with a splash and sprinkle of something, then I'm done unless I know the GM.

Heck, my own OD&D campaign is BOG vanilla with a splash.
 

noman

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Settings I can usually pay attention to. Its when a person starts talking about their characters...

Oh Man, I am so not even slightly interesting in the magic items you own. And god help me if someone starts talking about stats or feats or some other mechanical widget accomplishment

Let me tell you about my Exalted character...
 

Spinachcat

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So...it was many years ago.

My buddy Scott and I were GMing at a Silicon Valley area convention where we both had a fanbase, and some of them are nice weirdos (who are now either worth gazillions or living in their mom's house or both). We arrived early with dinner and snuck off to an empty room far from anything or anyone. Just as we started eating, the door burst open with two young guys who were DESPERATE to tell us about their characters. I mean sweating and hyperventilating with excitement.

Scott shot them death stares, but I was amused. Heck, they found us, might as well give them a minute. Each breathlessly talked about their D&D, Shadowrun and WoD characters, providing not a micro-ounce of inspiration, and then happily waved and left us to dinner.

And then years later, they gave us Facebook stock options and free BitCoin! Ha! I wish. Nope, never saw those clowns again.
 

opaopajr

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A lot of people are in love with demystifying details, yet overlook how to be compelling. Compelling means wonder, and everyone defines that differently, yet there are some shared traits. Compelling tends to leave unanswered questions, and tends to have engageable elements.

That's why "elven geneology" (better understood as the Biblical "Methuselah and the Begats,") is a great pithy criticism encapsulating this pitfall. Recited geneology is demystified and not engageable. Whereas geneology TV shows has mysterious gaps in the family tree to discover answers through research.

Mystery and engagement. Compelling. :heart::shade:

EDIT: I should also say -- since a lot of this is akin to "Let Me Show You My Pokemon!" -- it is Exposition, Not Conversation. That means it is now a Performing Art, specifically (*gasp* the dreaded word!) Storytelling. So... the rules of theatrics, the pacing, timing, flourish, embellishment, audience back and forth, and so on are in full effect. It's a discipline as any other. :smile:
 
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The Butcher

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Yes, my eyes all too often do glaze over, because (1) worldbuilding is a separate hobby from roleplaying; (2) being original requires actual thought, study and work; (3) gamers read too much fiction and not enough non-fiction.

As a young man, consistency and the desired to create something memorable and "epic" plagued my homebrews. Nowadays, I realize that it's less about vast sweeping vistas and more about things the PCs will actually, directly interact with; and now I've learned to treat worldbuilding as a means to an end, and that end is having fun at the game table.

If I'm running D&D and player #1 wants his Barbarian to be a Viking, and player #2 wants his Monk to be a Shaolin, I've just slotted Scandinavia and China analogs in my world. If player #3 wants to be a Cleric of Mithras, it really is up to him whether his character is a Persian or Roman wannabe, or just a generic Western Medieval fantasy nation; I'm happy to oblige. (I was not always this acommodating.)

I am perenially fascinated with the Tékumels and Gloranthas and Talislantas of the hobby, the Blue Planets and Eclipse Phases... but I don't really trust myself to crank out something as elegant and unique. I keep my homebrews simple and functional, even as I salute those who venture forth into murkier waters... but my eyes all too often do glaze over.
 

David Johansen

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I've been playing with a setting for Dungeon Fantasy. The objective there in is to be engaging, slightly tongue in cheek without being silly. My Tunnels and Trolls world of Illregard with it's lands of Noregard and Highregard is a bit too far but the piecemeal bits of my various Rolemaster campaigns with their wonders and gigantic gods in geosynchronous orbits are a bit too bizarre and noteworthy. It seems to me that a game with a setting that amounts to town and the dungeon mostly needs a list of named places where you can put towns and dungeons. Well, and a bit of history to explain the way dungeons get stranger and more dangerous as you go deeper.

I don't mind generic fantasy as a setting any more than I mind New York City as a setting. It's a familiar set of assumptions and structures that can be used to tell a story without needing a lot of exposition.
 

Baulderstone

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I don't mind generic fantasy as a setting any more than I mind New York City as a setting. It's a familiar set of assumptions and structures that can be used to tell a story without needing a lot of exposition.
Your comparison has reminded me of the cliche of two New Yorkers meeting in another city and talking about neighborhood and street names while everyone else's eyes glaze over. It's a similar kind of boring to someone telling you about an RPG setting at length.
 

Voros

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I wouldn't say gamers read too much fiction and not enough non-fiction as much as they read too narrowly even when it comes to fiction.

In terms of someone describing their world, it is the same issue as someone 'telling you about their character' or describing their dreams to you. It is best to experience these things (through play when it comes to game worlds) not infodumps as Baudlerstone says. Best to give me the gist of the world in a few sentences rather than endless detail. If your world doesn't have a strong 'hook' then it is probably not too interesting a world.

Plus fandom tends to obsess on excessive detail in place of mystery and imagination. An excessively rational approach, in particular when it comes to fantasy, drains the world of wonder.
 
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TristramEvans

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funny, I have a hard time reading fiction. I get impatient. But give me a nonfiction book about history, science, or folklore, and I'm lost for hours. I don't read hardly any fantasy, even if its my favourite fiction genre, because I find so much of it to be unimaginative crap (I think D&D had a bad influence in this regard, I cant count how many books I started in my teens that a few chapters in it was dreadfully obvious that it was based on some would be GM's fantasy of a perfect railroad adventure where the players all have the same sycophantic personality, constantly expressing amazement and awe about the magical Realm they supposedly grew up in).
 

Voros

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funny, I have a hard time reading fiction. I get impatient. But give me a nonfiction book about history, science, or folklore, and I'm lost for hours.

I personally find most nonfiction an easier read than fiction, fiction is actually more demanding to read for myself as it requires more concentration. I go through phases of reading lots of either nonfiction or fiction.
 

Dumarest

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My Tunnels and Trolls world of Illregard with it's lands of Noregard and Highregard is a bit too far...

Not at all...but then I'm not a fan of "serious" fantasy all that much, preferring a bit of whimsy such as you might find in Oz, Narnia, Wonderland, and even Middle-earth circa The Hobbit when everything wasn't so over-the-top dramatic.

Plus, I bet if I just slightly modified the spellings and accented different syllables, a lot of players wouldn't even see it staring at them right in the face, written boldly across their maps.
 

Baulderstone

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Fantasy, by definition, should involve works of unfettered imagination, but the publishing world requires formulas, so fantasy that actually feels fantastical is a rarity. I love fantasy, in theory, but it so hard to find fantasy that actually engages me.

I used to read fiction voraciously, but I read a lot less of it now. I really should push myself at it a little more. As a GM, it is great imaginative fuel, and I have been a little dry on ideas lately.
 

David Johansen

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It seems to me that there are worlds that exist as an integral part of a story and worlds that stories exist in. Harry Potter is mostly of the first type and Lord of the Rings is closer to the latter but I love the both. However, the first type is generally a horrible thing in an rpg because the players never stick to the plot and personally it isn't in any way desirable for them to do so. Too much fiction follows the English teacher's story diagram or even worse the publisher's formula and fails on that far more than it does on derivative orcs, dwarves, and elves. Keep the trappings if you like them, young author, make up silly names and elven genealogies (which are infinitely superior to human ones by virtue of their brevity) but for pity's sake, tell a different story and don't just retread the high points of your inspiration. (I'm looking at you Terry Brooks and Dennis L McKerrin)
 

Stevethulhu

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The one phrase that makes my eyes glaze over when people start talking about their own game world is "Like X but different." If you really want to avoid your classic Tolkien derived fantasy cliches, then don't start with a Tolkien derived fantasy cliche world.

Talislanta (I know not homebrew :tongue: ) is one of the worst offenders for this. No Elves! Yeah, right. You have pointy ears, live in the forest, are an old civilisation based around magic and high culture. oh but you're blue! Obviously not an Elf, then.
 

opaopajr

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I love fiction! :heart: But then there are so many classics of literature out there it's impossible to catch up to what's already been made and lauded as some of the best. My best recommendation is comb the YA Classics section and read the stuff you missed that stands the test of time. (I don't often, but should.)

My second best recommendation is read the "Best of [Year] in [Genre]" anthologies, as most of them are short stories or vignettes, new upcoming authors, and more experimental. Great fresh idea fodder.

At the very least you polish your performing arts presentation skills just from the exposure. :hehe:

Worst recommendation, things adapted from popular media, such as the 'novelizations of...' And especially popular game line novels, oh my god it's so bad! (I'm a touch biased from past offenders.) You're better off reading variations of romance instead, at least there's tighter quality control in the writing. :tongue:
.
 

The Butcher

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Talislanta (I know not homebrew :tongue: ) is one of the worst offenders for this. No Elves! Yeah, right. You have pointy ears, live in the forest, are an old civilisation based around magic and high culture. oh but you're blue! Obviously not an Elf, then.

Yeah, Talislanta is very guilty of this. The originality of the setting to me is less about the uniqueness of each discrete element and more about the Mos Eisley Cantina-like mélange of lush, colorful, (superficially) exotic species and cultures.
 

Stevethulhu

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Yeah, Talislanta is very guilty of this. The originality of the setting to me is less about the uniqueness of each discrete element and more about the Mos Eisley Cantina-like mélange of lush, colorful, (superficially) exotic species and cultures.
I just found it to be disingenuous. It made a huge claim in the advertising that was patently untrue.

That said, I do find that other people's homebrew game worlds are almost always much less interesting to me than they are to the people who came up with them. Maybe it's my build from the bottom up, don't write it down until you absolutely need it philosophy. Maybe it's the way they get explained to me. Which often comes with adjectives like gushing, overly enthused or similar types of hyperbolic language.

Almost every time, I would prefer a quick thumbnail that lays out the basic premise, followed by a picture or two to show me the kind of imagery the GM is aiming for. Help me make a character that fits your world, don't spend an hour telling me about history and politics. That's stuff I should be finding out in play, not in the pub.
 

Edgewise

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funny, I have a hard time reading fiction. I get impatient. But give me a nonfiction book about history, science, or folklore, and I'm lost for hours.
I envy you. I can blow through fiction - even shitty fiction - like I'm watching a movie. My childish brain comes to a grinding halt, however, if someone tells me that I'm reading about something that actually happened. I firmly believe that reality is stranger and more interesting than fiction, but...I don't know. Based on my hobbies, I'd chalk it up to having a profoundly unserious mind.
 

Bookwyrm

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A lot of it is presentation. It can be interesting to read about settings. I'd like to think I could write up a setting of my own in an interesting way. But trying to give a lot of detail just off the top of my head? That's not going to go well whether it's my setting, or a published one however great.

Just say 'psychic snails' and tell me where to read the rest.

I'm supposed to run a short dimension-hopping campaign for my group sometime this spring... I can definitely fit those snails somewhere.
 

The Butcher

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Just say 'psychic snails' and tell me where to read the rest.

Here (first edition, accept no substitutes):
f1e6eb81156c592531d19a7fb54fcd644a6712fed38ea9d776fa534d52e24dcf.jpeg


Or, if you want the mega-damage version:
702713cb476177217fd3b5619ebfe2a203dbcc27d80c944476bb72c61c331909.jpeg


EDIT: Technically the Mindolar is a psychic slug. But who can resist that sort of enthusiasm?
1396869129356.jpg
 
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