Sunday, 12 October 2014

Location, Location, Location...

The flip side to adventuring is when you’re not under the ground grubbing around for coins, but out in the air, in the places where people only dream of.  I believe that more than half of any game that we ever play is enjoyable because of the scenery, no one plays because they want to go walking around Barnsley, that’s something they can do themselves, why would they want to do that in game?  People play because they want to go out to places no one’s been before, to wonderous, mythical places and see what they find there.

And so it is with me, but I always believe that the places that are so different as to be unbelievable lack a certain something when it comes to having your character run around them.  Take a look at the Labyrinth from Labyrinth, an interesting place of many different types of encounter, but when you got to the end, things got a little....

Weird...
 
And I'm not talking about Bowie's Pants, although....
Throughout the whole film, everything had been squarely rooted in things that could be possible, which for me made them all the more real, and that’s how I’ve always looked at locations when it comes to providing things for people to go running around in.

Could it be real?  Is the question that needs to be asked.

There’s plenty of inspiration out in the world, and it’s often when you look out there that you find these things, things built that probably made sense at the time, but have since been affected by time and nature in ways that were never envisaged by their creators.  Most of the time, adventurers are dealing with reasonably mundane things, so it’s important to make sure that from time to time the sense of wonder is retained, so that the whole world doesn’t seem like Search, Loot, Repeat…

For me, it’s those things that make you wonder what the creator was considering when they made it, the things that someone obviously built, but for the life of you, you can’t figure out why…

Such as completely man made islands when there’s land easily within range.


A house built in a place that would be suited to holding an emergency shelter rather than a full sized house.


Train stations that were so busy being built that they didn’t check that the trains would fit in them…


And other such places, these are the things where people were so busy proving that they could build them that they didn’t stop to ask if they should. I have impossible places in my worlds, but they’re impossible for a very good reason, and they’re very few and far between when it comes down to it.  Selvarin is known as the impossible city and takes a good number of its cues from the works of Escher, but it’s a city where an uncontrolled outbreak of magic twisted the reality within the city boundaries and continues to do so to this day.

Most places I have are simple in their nature, but the larger cities, castles, and hideouts tend to have the more mundane parts of them taken away and replaced with things that would prove unique or interesting, because if every place was built the same, the only thing you’ve got in it is different people and I know that a lot of people think that the whole of Roleplaying is about the interaction between people.  I’m not decided on that, it’s possible to involve people in a game far more when they find it interesting than when they’re just going through the motions.   

Sometimes it’s the change in circumstances that make a place interesting, a city that was built below the level of the sea that steadily sank, leaving it untouched and intact, but forever out of the reach of those who once lived there.


A Mill built in a gap between three large hills, eventually left behind because it was too difficult to move the product out and get more resources in there. 


And as with the underground things, the question is asked, what do you do with the places like this?   

Unlike the dungeons, intact buildings above ground can attract anything, because for the most part, you don’t need to have special abilities like seeing in the dark or breathing toxic air to survive down there.  You can come and go as you please, and in many cases, there’s a number of exits that you can get out of when someone does come raiding and you don’t end up barricading yourself in and hoping that they don’t have a Cave Troll…


So the question today, is what do people use for their own interesting places?

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