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WISH 42: the morning after

Isn’t the morning after sort of the definition of incoherency? Anyhow. WISH 41 asks:

How coherent do you expect a game world to be? Is a game world merely a stage for the characters, or does it have a life of its own? How deep does it need to be to satisfy you? How do you contribute as a player or GM to making the game world more coherent, if you do?

This is kind of a hard question to answer, given that my primary GM for the last five or so years is the kind of guy who has every NPC in his cities statted out. So I think I don’t care so much about coherency, but perhaps I am spoiled and I would hate it if the world wasn’t coherent.

However, I think that what I really want is not so much coherency but depth. I like being able to go in any direction and find something there. Maybe the GM is ad libbing it, or maybe s/he’s just thorough. I don’t much care as long as I can’t tell the difference.

The classic GM trick, of course, is to simply listen to the players theorizing and choose one of the theories to be accurate. That works OK for me.

Depth is different than coherence. Let’s say one NPC says he used to work with another NPC; I’m not gonna think much about whether or not they were actually in the same place at the same time in the game world. I’m big on suspension of disbelief, and am happy to paper over small cracks in the world.

One Comment

  1. I don’t think “coherent” is the word I would use, quite. I always thought of coherent applying to an argument but I guess the same goes for a story as well. To me it means that the details match, that it’s internally consistent. Perhaps that is the concept they were going for, but for me this is not what makes a setting fun to be in.

    I think it’s much more important for a setting to be *rich* or *well-imagined* than to be consistent in details. Just the fact that it *has* details makes it pretty rich. So I guess in this sense I am agreeing with you. Depth is key.

    A world or setting has to be consistent enough to pass a very basic muster. Like, if it has 3 or 4 basic rules that govern it, all of the details have to be consistent with those, but not necessarily with each other.

    Perhaps my standards for a game are a little lower than for a book. A game is a work-in-progress, so I would compare it to the first-draft of a work of fiction. After it has been exposed to some proofreading and become a bit more polished, I would expect some of the minor bugs to be worked out. But, if the story has been thoroughly proofed and debugged, it’s a bit too late to get in there as a character and have some freedom of choice (however limited) in how the story goes.

    I think I would expect cohesion and consistency from a story, but not necessarily from a setting. A setting just has to be consistent enough not to interfere with your disbelief suspension system 🙂 I will forgive a lack of prearranged detail in exchange for the freedom to romp about.

    (Heck in many cases my character doesn’t have that level of depth or cohesion either — I think if I have spent more time on my character background than the GM has spent on his backstory that would be a sign that I’m expecting too much 🙂

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