December 29, 2019

Open Worlds in Your Tabletop RPG

We hear “open world” all the time these days in video games & RPGs. For today’s #worldbuildingMonday post, we advise on to what degree your world should be open.

There’s no “one-size-fits-all” answer of course. Should your story take place in an “open” but expansive city? A huge, multi-layered world? Etc.

There are two main considerations that you should have a firm grip on before you answer the open world scale question: 1) the length of your campaign and 2) the level of experience you and your players have navigating open world settings.

Campaign length is critical here. If you have 20 or less sessions to work with, investing a ton of time creating this elaborate world no one will see more than 20% of may not be the best use of your precious preparation time. Conversely, if you have a group of dedicated players who can meet multiple times a week for an indefinite period then making that investment would almost certainly be worth the time and effort.

And because choice/reward & action/consequence in an open world setting does carry some significant nuance, both for the GM & players, you may want to reduce your open world scale if you’re all relatively new to the concept. Again conversely, if you’re all 10+ year veterans, you may increase the scale to your satisfaction.