December 30, 2019

The Scale of Your Tabletop RPG World(s)

Today’s #worldbuildingMonday story centers around the relationship between the scale of the story’s setting and the responsibility on the GM to maintain said scale.

The analogy we’ll use today is one between the scale of a city neighborhood and the scale of a whole nation. Tabletop role playing game worldbuilders need to keep in mind the relative intricacies of introducing new levels of scale to their worlds.

Take for example, Brooklyn in New York City. If your story took place in Brooklyn, the worldbuilder would be responsible for facilitating their players’ traversing the ins and outs of that famous neighborhood, its shops, streets, people, culture, nooks & crannies. The focus of the worldbuilder would be to bring those elements of Brooklyn to life, to marry the plot to its vivacious history and vibe.

But if the story took place throughout the whole United States instead, the worldbuilder’s scale of responsibility is, at least on the surface, made massively more complex. The GM would have to have a much firmer hand in guiding the plot so that their worldbuilding would not have to bring to life every area of the whole country!

GMs whose players primarily stay within the lanes that the GM has focused their worldbuilding efforts on preparing often are rewarded for the experience. Now of course, there are myriad classic moments from when players “break” that system – another topic for another day! – but the degree to which GMs’ are cognizant of their worldbuilding scale – and manage the plot accordingly – is important in providing their players a great tabletop role playing game experience.

Manage your world’s scale accordingly!