2013-07-29 Setting Introductions

Recently Joff Graboff wondered about setting accessibility and considered writing an intro for the players. Here’s what I wrote on Google+ in response.

I find that writing a setting intro for players is usually a waste of time. They won’t read it and you’ll be angry. I find it easier to introduce setting piece by piece where each piece is actionable: it affects characters right now or it can be used by the characters right now.

I’ve used NPCs to suggest a different course of action, for example. Henchmen… “What, you have no backup plan? I’m not coming along with a bunch of suicidal lunatics!” Guards… “Hey dudes, be sure not to cross the river because we’ve seen owl bears all over the place!” Wise men… “Hey mighty swordsman, do you need a sage to identify this cloak of yours? No? How about some info about the dungeon up north?” Quest givers… “Yeah, something needs to be done about those brutal hobbit bandits, but make sure you avoid the trolls! I’m not paying for any healing of troll wounds.”

I even use this for party members... “The elves in the party immediately recognize the phrasing. She’s talking about a feud hundreds of years old but she would never put it that way. Elves are unforgiving and extremely stubborn, as you know.” Obviously, if demihumans are very different from us, then most of this input will come from demihumans. “The dwarf immediately knows that no dwarven king would have left a letter accompanied by 6000gp unanswered. Something must have happened on the way.”

Related, but with an eye on character background, which I think has the same problem: one person wants to write it, which is ok, but not many people want to read it.

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