Dang, what's Essentials? I've got last year's Starter Box but now there's a new Red Box and Essentials... keep trying to get started with my kids but end up stalling.
As others have mentioned, yes, there are pre-fabricated campaigns.
My main contribution would be to suggest that you focus on story and encourage creativity. Have a basic idea for how you want the plot to go, then try to think of all the different approaches players might take or ways they might divert the story in a different direction.
When possible, it's nice to able to go with whatever decisions the players make. This is easier if you've imagined something similar in your brainstorming. That said, they will surprise you; so don't sweat it if you feel flummoxed or have to come up with a hasty justification for something. On the flip side, if a player tries something particularly clever or cool, try to make it work for them somehow, dice be damned. Not everything has to work as intended, but it should do *something*.
I'm less about challenge and more about creating an experience. Challenges are good, but don't get so caught up in balancing the encounters perfectly for the party's level and class composition that you forget to tell a story. If in doubt, go easy on them.
Dang, what's Essentials? I've got last year's Starter Box but now there's a new Red Box and Essentials... keep trying to get started with my kids but end up stalling.
Because once the roleplayer proto-market scattered and reformed around assorted games and different approaches to roleplaying (more realistic or more roleplay oriented or point and skill based chargen rather than randomly rolled and class based or what-have-you) what D&D had left over were those who weren't really motivated to do more interesting things. The grognards and die-hards. All D&D could do was accrete more detail and complexity to have something new to show people that weren't, in reality, all that curious about the new.
I loved reading the 3.5 Rules Compendium mainly for the designer's notes. Every page had a designer suggesting a work-around for a clunky system or shrugging and sighing when considering some bizarre or illogical quirk. "Legacy system, what can you do?"
Get a new system? But people who think like that aren't reading the D&D Rules Compendium they're playing new systems.
But way back in the day most of us, while we dabbled with other early RPGs, were mostly all playing the same game, Dungeons & Dragons, as our meat and potatoes. But we did tinker with it, homebrew our own modifications and adjustments, and so on. So if someone said they wanted to experience Dungeons & Dragons, in the epic mythical, it all started here, cradle of civilization sense...I couldn't point them to 3.5/4.0/Pathfinder in good conscience. That's not what inspired the creation of roleplaying as a hobby, and these days considering the success of videogames and MMOs, an industry. It was that early, chaotic and crude but pretty easy to play game we made our own no matter what our preferences would eventually evolve into.
Before it got all inbred and mechanically decadent.
Last edited by Brian Rucker; 01-25-2012 at 04:29 AM.
Brian, while your RPG philosophizing is extremely interesting, these are clearly the thoughts of someone with a nuanced opinion of multiple RPGs bred of hundreds of hours spent playing them over years, and possibly decades. It's probably not really helpful to a lot of D&D virgins, though. :)
What guys like you (who fling around terms like "Cyclopedia" without even bothering to explain them to a self-professed noob first) can sometimes lose sight of is that a guy like me wants my first D&D experience to be as simple as possible. We want to play D&D over other tabletop games because it's a magnetic pole in extremely confusing wilds: no one's heard of Blue Rose, but everyone knows in abstract what D&D means and what you do in it. We're already second-guessing even doing this to begin with... introducing a debate about which of the hundreds of rulesets is best (a debate a newcomer couldn't possibly be expected to understand, and which will be bickered endlessly over by fussy old gamemaster grognards) is the most likely thing to getting us to shelve the whole thing.
I know it's not fair, but newcomers come to D&D because it has cultural resonance that no other tabletop RPG has. That's why when people suggested Pathfinder as the easiest way to get going in a tabletop game, I needed to know if it was D&D: I had to put it in context, assure myself that we weren't going down some weird, twisted side path.
Really, what I'm looking for is a way for a group of, say, five new D&D players to launch into a fun little tabletop RPG adventure with the minimum of prep-work. We're whetting our appetite and getting familiar with the core concepts. Knowing my friends, from there, we will probably start delving in a lot more seriously, but right now, we don't really want to think about anything more than the bare minimum it's going to take to get a good, fun game going.
From that perspective, does the Pathfinder Box seem like the best bet? Is it primarily a single-player primer to the rules (ie: should we all buy a copy, get familiar with it, then launch a campaign from some published adventure?) or is it a first adventure for a group in a box? Or can you still not recommend it as a "chaotic and crude but pretty easy to play game?" And if not, can you recommend something like Pathfinder's Beginner Box that is like that?
Some great advice in this thread. My favorite advice quoted here for emphasis.
As for my own advice, this one is boring but important: Before your friends turn up, play a combat by yourself to test out the rules system. If one or two of your players aren't totally sold on the idea of roleplaying, nothing will drive them away faster than if the first combat slows down to a crawl.
See, I'd say if you want to play an easy game I'd go with the old Cyclopedia because it is, as I noted, based on a very simple rules set before everything exploded into complexity not merely for reasons of nostalgia. Old White Box was the original D&D but it's not really complete or easy to use without player modifications.
Basic D&D, the root of the Cyclopedia, was designed to be easy to learn back when D&D itself wasn't very complex at all and Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, the original edition, was considered more complicated and for advanced players.
So when I think of what games, as an admittedly experienced gamer with a broad range of knowledge, I'd like to run as a brand spanking new DM (just like you actually) because they're easy to use I go straight to the Cyclopedia, well, after the new edition of Traveller (which is not D&D but looks to be a no brainer as a "my first game" system).
It has the added value of being of the branch of D&D that appealed to a broad range of gamers back when D&D was young and would do a better job of showing you, really, what D&D is about. It has dungeon crawls and dragons and elves and all the stuff of later editions but a much more basic system. Quirky in some ways, yes, but no more so than more modern editions and far easier to work with.
The Cyclopedia also includes many helpful articles about how to run and play D&D as Basic, and it's siblings, were designed to introduce new players to Dungeons and Dragons.
The philosophizing in the last post was directed at the idea of playing other RPGs instead of D&D. Early D&D, because it was so loose, embraced all kinds of roleplayers. The guys who developed very complex systems or very roleplay friendly systems down the road were all playing Basic D&D or 1st Edition AD&D.
D&D today is a very different beast. It's highly specialized and focused on those traits other games didn't do better and the players that remained after the exodus to new systems, new games, entirely.
I didn't recommend Blue Rose and I warned against Burning Wheel. I think I understand why you want to play Dungeons & Dragons. Or maybe I don't. But if it's to play that game you wished you hadn't missed out on that's not the same game, at all, that people are playing today.
But I also linked to a discussion comparing the beginner boxes for Pathfinder and D&D 4.0. If you want to play what people call D&D today those are both good places to start.
Whereas I would recommend just picking up something like Pathfinder or 4th edition and going wild. To me, either of those represent essentially the D&D spirit (well, I haven't messed with Pathfinder but I am continually assured it's just the next revision of 3rd edition) while building in decades of improved design and playability. I've played 1st edition D&D. It makes no fucking sense. The fact that I'm really not interested in D&D at all anymore doesn't mean I don't think the new editions are a better D&D experience.
Either the Pathfinder Beginner's Box or the current (4E) D&D Starter Set ("Red Box") should be fine. A single copy should be all your group needs for its first or first couple of sessions. They both contain rules for players, rules for the DM, an adventure, character sheets, playing tokens and dice. And with both you'll eventually need to graduate to the full system if you want to continue your campaign, but they are the recommended starting point.
Between the two, I'd probably give a slight edge to the Pathfinder Box as it seems to be a little more comprehensive (although that might be expected as it's also a little more expensive) and as it might be more familiar to you as it is more similar to the rules used in games like Neverwinter Nights.
The D&D Rules Cyclopedia would also be perfectly fine, were it not for the fact that it is unfortunately out of print, so you'd have to hunt down a second-hand copy or download a clone system and print it out yourself.
For reference I bought the Ravenloft boardgame as a gateway game into D&D for us and got so overwhelmed that I shelved it.
So what the hell does that mean? D&D3.5 and Pathfinder both use a system called D20. A lot of the more hardcore and tactical tabletop RPGs uses that system, or an offshoot of it that shares the same basic principles.
Blue Rose uses one such offshoot. Indeed, you might say it uses the original offshoot of the D20 system. But please don't think these are significantly different things. Principally, it's identical. The difference is that Blue Rose is simplified beyond what any of the D20 starter sets - like the D&D and Pathfinder boxed sets - are, and de-emphasise tactical tabletop combat, while emphasising in-character behaviour (actual role playing).
This is half the reason I recommend Blue Rose: it is exactly the kind of game you want, if you're looking for the kind of experience you're familiar with from D&D video games, and it is genuinely focused on being a game for RPG virgins, rather than being a stripped down version of a game that really isn't designed for virgins.
The other half of the reason, is that Blue Rose is a completely self-contained single manual and campaign setting in 1 book, complete with one of the best RPG virgin adventures published. And more, it is a quite possibly the best stepping stone into more hardcore RPGs based on either the D20 or True20 systems - like Pathfinder and D&D3.5e.
If I'd never played a RPG before and I wanted a good place to start with the possible goal of playing D&D or something very much like it (like Pathfinder), Blue Rose would be my pick. That's from someone with about 25 years of RPG experience, and a a reasonably good knowledge of both D&D video games and the majority all the various editions and offshoots of D&D since then.
Blue Rose isn't something not-D&D. It is D&D, just designed specifically to be the a genuinely decent entry point into the hobby.
The D&D Cyclopaedia great too, for many of the same reasons that Blue Rose is. The significant difference is that Cyclopaedia is not a good entry point into D20- and True20-based games, such as D&D3.5 and Pathfinder.
DrCrypt, I'm still DMing my first "campaign" (about 5 sessions in) so I'll give you my take. My group plays Pathfinder because our first DM is a D&D old-timer and liked where Pathfinder took 3.5. That being said, if you're looking to test the waters with something simple I would recommend the PF Beginner Box.
However, if your group does decide to move on to the full Pathfinder system, be aware that it (and 3.5 and its variants) are extremely rules-heavy, whereas past versions were less so. This is why everyone recommends you make a habit of making rulings, rather than memorizing/looking up rules. You don't want to get bogged down trying to figure out "can he do that?" Case in point, the other DM in my group, who is an uber rules-lawyer, once spent FORTY MINUTES looking up stuff for a single ruling. Don't do that. I'm actually trying to find ways to "dumb-down" the rules to get our sessions moving faster (and having a heck of a time!).
Crypty, the really indispensible thing is the interaction between the DM and the players. If your group can begin, develop, and complete a cooperative story where the players decide what to do and the DM referees their attempts, whether with strict rules or with improvisation, you've succeeded.
The best in-person tabletop campaign I ever played in did use combat rules and dice rolling, but only the DM knew the rules or saw the dice. The rest was completely interpersonal. We players didn't even have character sheets or know any personal stats --- we provided a concept and background and that was it. You won't want to try that as D&D virgins, but it shows that the player/DM mechanic is the essential one --- it can stand alone.
Last edited by John Many Jars; 01-25-2012 at 11:52 AM.
I don't think it's a bad idea to use a module and read it over well if you're a first time DM, so you're well-prepared and feel like you have a firm grasp on things.
But if you are playing with people that are new to roleplaying or D&D, I can guarantee you can completely forget 3/4s of the module hooks, half the rules, and completely misplay all the monsters, and it won't matter as long as they are having fun and you are making it memorable. Your players will be so heads down trying to figure out what their character sheet means and what power they will use on their turn that everything is going to be messy as hell. So embrace that and as Tortilla said, let them be heroes.
Last edited by xahlt; 01-25-2012 at 06:09 PM. Reason: bad typo
If all your friends pitch in a few bucks it could be a very cost effective way of finding out whether you all like D&D before you start throwing money at books and minis and dice and so forth.
My practical experience is mostly with the original Red and Blue Boxes(I did have the green one but only ever read it), and then AD&D 2nd Edition through high school. After that I hadn't played any RPG systems till 4th edition D&D came out and that didn't take. My feeling about 4th was that it was very tied into being a system about fighting and I let that get away with us in the play sessions and it bogged down the role playing, when I should have tried to keep the combat stuff in check.
There is absolutely something to be said for finding the balance between defining what options you have for the group and having some things be open to allow creativity to flourish.
As a GM you should be like '08 Obama on the campaign trail. "Yes we can!" is your motto, or at least "Yes you can!" Unless there's a very specific reason why a player can't do something let them do it. Or at least let them attempt it. Specific reasons why players can't do something would be if they're working out a puzzle or a trap, otherwise let the players attempt it, if they succeed it's high fives all round. If they fail, you make up some awesome way they fail without killing themselves. Everyone laughingly mocks him and if it's a really good way of failing it'll become a running joke about that time Bob's character did stupid thing X.
This is certainly not the only way to play an RPG, in fact it's a specific type that GURPS goes on about a lot (cinematic.) Your players might want something different from the game, but unless they express that, I've found letting players just do absolutely cool stuff in both success and failure is the best way of ensuring enthusiasm. Especially when most people play computer games, and games just don't have the ability to react with awesomeness.
The people you're playing with aren't really familiar with D&D? ...
I'm really tempted to keep quiet on this, but feel like I aught to help a fellow traveler out. The whole point of D&D is that it's familiar to everyone and so easy to get a game for -- on its own merits it's a weak RPG, with overly convoluted rules to boot. Smoother now than it used to be, but still rough.
So, kick D&D in the ass, and start something else! Something smoother and easier to learn, without as much munchin-y number crunching. If you're really set on D&D play Pathfinder, which is D&D++ and has some good canned campaigns. But again, kick D&D in the taint, and try something else that appeals to you. By all means run it by people here first, as D&D isn't the only weak system, but don't play D&D simply because the name sounds familiar.
All that said, the rules system isn't /that/ important. The tricky part of running a game is the actual DMing. Running a good premade adventure will help, but is really only half the work.
I would say go for it. Paizo makes good stuff, and you'll get a perfectly good D&D experience from that box.
I was going to write a shitload of tips and best practices, but I realised that for a first-timer DM there's only one thing that matters: immersion.
If you can be descriptive about something irrelevant that the players have for some reason focused on; if you can quickly avert a party wipe by subtly guiding the players into the right strategy without them realising; if you can go with the flow when the party decides to abandon the adventure and head off into the sunset; yours is the world and everything that's in it, and - which is more - you'll be a great DM.
The DM should always be drunker than the players.
A lot of suggestions on rule sets to use, that's fine advice but it's not that important. You'll find one and you'll like whatever one you choose. They're all going for the same goal... helping you help the players create a story.
It is tempting to come up with a list of encounters (and you should) or read from a published adventure (can be fun) but if your players want to go in a different direction, don't try to shoehorn them into what you had planned. They'll often have ideas that are better than yours, and they'll definitely have more fun.
Hand in hand with that, and probably the most important rule is to try your best to never say "No". Always say "yes but" or "Yes and", roll with the punches. If the players are asking for something outlandish (a flying carpet, a dozen healing potions, whatever) you can send them on a quest to help them find that item.
The idea is that above anything else the players need to have fun, and they'll tell you how they'll have fun. You might have a dungeon drawn up and ready to stick them in... but if they'd rather go looking for a Pegasus, why not?
I always have a couple side quests prepared as well, just in case.
Also, get a DM screen.
If you do go with the Pathfinder Beginner Box, there are some free supplements for download.
You will find a player's kit that provides a new character class. You will also find a GM Kit that includes an extra adventure. Also Beginner Box Bash Demos, this is a set of 4 short adventures that were run at game stores to promote the product at launch. They are meant to be played in about an hour and to showcase certain parts of the game. And again these are all free downloads.
As far as pay products, there are a few for Beginner Box.
This is an adventure for the Beginner Box. It is from a third party publisher and written in a similar style as BB. This pdf only. And there is a follow up adventure that is expected to be published in February.
These are a set of pre painted plastic minis that represent the 4 pre gen characters in the box. These are not needed as there are pawns(cardboard stand ups) for these included in the box. But for pre painted plastic they are pretty good.
Popping in here, so (extremely) minor Necromancy going on. Spell school joke! :(
Anyways, I've "played" DnD a few times. Insofar as I've been involved in very brief campaigns (none lasting past the 4 hour mark, character creation included) at a camp for gifted youth I've counseled at. I was a player in one when I was a lot younger, and have DMed twice for younger people than myself since then. Very not serious, very jokey, and not nearly enough time to make it a continuing activity.
I think it's super intriguing, and I love the idea of collaborative storytelling and whatnot. Moreover, as a new guy in Raleigh, I'd like a way to connect with people, and being older than school-age and working with people I've got very little in common with, socializing opportunities are rare. The fact that I don't really enjoy drinking or sports makes it even worse ;)
HANYWAY, I really am interested in running a campaign. . . but am also heavily interested in running some heavy tweaks. I know DnD, and the world-building twists wouldn't really go more directly with any other rule systems that I'm aware of, so I figure that if I'm going to rip out parts of a system, it may as well be one I have a cursory familiarity with.
How feasible is it to--say--add or edit races, the pantheon, and possibly classes in DnD4.0/Pathfinder, and would a group of players be interested in going along with those sorts of changes from a quais-newbie DM? I mean, when DMs think of their own stuff, rather than a pre-packaged adventure. . . do they usually make some changes to Player's Manual stuff? Or does everyone just run the same Orcs and Dragonborn and Tieflings around whatever they've decided to title their personal Middle Earth ripoff?
To answer the last question first: that, surprisingly, depends on the players. If you seem confident of your modifications and the modifications actually exist independently from your grey matter, they'll probably be intrigued and at least willing to give it a shot.How feasible is it to--say--add or edit races, the pantheon, and possibly classes in DnD4.0/Pathfinder, and would a group of players be interested in going along with those sorts of changes from a quais-newbie DM?
Back to your first question: D&D is very much a plug & play kind of system. All the classes, races, religions and so forth, are plugins and easily replaced with whatever you want.
However, before you start doing that, write over the names of all those plugins with the names you need for your setting. Tieflings don't have to be extradimensional halfbreeds called Tieflings, they can just as easily be ordinary humans from the roguish city state of Stealsalot. Change the name and nix the extraplanar bits, and you have your citizens of Stealsalot.
If you find you really do need to write your own plugins, try to stick to the format used by the ones in the core rules. Partly so you don't forget something, partly so you don't confuse players or accidentally create extra housekeeping, and partly so you don't screw up the game balance (the closer to "balance" you can come, the easier you'll make life for yourself as GM).
I think, but it's a guess, that most GMs will rename stuff, leave stuff out and maybe add a slight tweak here and there. I doubt most of them add to the rules if they feel they can avoid it. And I would suggest you approach it the same way.I mean, when DMs think of their own stuff, rather than a pre-packaged adventure. . . do they usually make some changes to Player's Manual stuff? Or does everyone just run the same Orcs and Dragonborn and Tieflings around whatever they've decided to title their personal Middle Earth ripoff?
Making rules is very easy. Making good ones is very difficult, especially without long experience both with the system and with the people you play with. RPG rules are not actually independent of the group. Some are just broad enough to cater to many groups. But really, beyond the technical rules also have to meet the "be suitable for the group" criteria, and you kind of need experience to meet that.
This would primarily be a situation of religion and races, I think. (Something about alliterative doubled nouns separated by the word "and" just screams RPG...)
A part of the world's integral history deals with its (very) real gods, of which there were only three. I considered the idea of having "phases" or facets of them to accommodate, say, a 9-part pantheon that stretched across most of the gods from the Player's Handbook, just renamed, but heck, if people wouldn't mind swearing fealty to one of three, I'd just as soon drop whatever I don't need. I'd take the benefits/powers direct from pre-existing gods; they'd just operate under my own names.
Races: Being too Tolkein-esque feels a bit bland, so I would prefer races who are relatively different, at least on a cultural/biological level. Once more, I wouldn't necessarily have an issue grabbing, say, the stat-package of an existing race (Hey, these plant-people would probably have Dragonborn-esque stats, so I'll just take those), but they'd get some weirdo abilities and come with their own backgrounds/etc. Nothing too heavy: I don't want people to have to read a whole *new* book to play. . . but flavor is nice, right?
Classes. . . well, I'd ideally like to monkey around with how spells work at least on a cosmetic level. It's something close to my heart, but as you say, my balancing abilities probably aren't up to a par with several decades of experience at WotC, so changing the functionality too much probably wouldn't work great. But, say, replacing the need for spell components (that's not even current anymore, is it?) with calling on the name of your patron god, even for wizards, that sort of thing. Just part of the world's nature, basically.
I suppose part of the problem is that I'm only strongly familiar with the Forgotten Realms setting thanks to videogames and books and the Generic World Setting from the handbooks I've bought, so I'm not too sure how much setting "should" affect rules/cosmetics.
All of that said, thank you very much for the detailed answer, Disconnected. It's got a lot of wheels turning, to say the least.
It's a very good idea to reuse your own stuff. Obviously it can save you some prep time, but much more importantly it can save the group a ton of boring exposition time. Different worship of a god your players are familiar with, is readily understood. An entirely new god requires far more explanation.
Race options are always great, but if you do this you should keep in mind that you only need one. Beyond the one, every race option you create is energy you're not spending creating something else, and potentially energy you spend on making it really hard to offer fun challenges to newbie PCs when racial properties matter the most.Races: Being too Tolkein-esque feels a bit bland, so I would prefer races who are relatively different, at least on a cultural/biological level. Once more, I wouldn't necessarily have an issue grabbing, say, the stat-package of an existing race (Hey, these plant-people would probably have Dragonborn-esque stats, so I'll just take those), but they'd get some weirdo abilities and come with their own backgrounds/etc. Nothing too heavy: I don't want people to have to read a whole *new* book to play. . . but flavor is nice, right?
Mind, I'm not trying to discourage you. But creating a unique setting is - and this may be the understatement of the year - a horrendous assload of work. Especially if you're doing it entirely by yourself. It's easy to run out of steam and even easier to spend your energy on stuff that doesn't really matter very much.
If I were you I'd write down what you want magic to feel like. Write up a scene with a wizened wizard in his tower doing magic'y stuff, and a battle scene with two great wizards flinging bolts of lightning or whatever. Then compare those scenes to the way 4e works, and start taking notes.Classes. . . well, I'd ideally like to monkey around with how spells work at least on a cosmetic level. It's something close to my heart, but as you say, my balancing abilities probably aren't up to a par with several decades of experience at WotC, so changing the functionality too much probably wouldn't work great. But, say, replacing the need for spell components (that's not even current anymore, is it?) with calling on the name of your patron god, even for wizards, that sort of thing. Just part of the world's nature, basically.
When you're done taking notes, head over to RPG.net or some other place with a lot of D&D übernerds hanging around, and ask them what to do.
If you prepare properly and can describe exactly what you need and don't want, there's plenty of people out there who can and gladly will do 90% of the systems stuff you need done. And the last 10% you should be able to manage just fine, as long as you run it by the 4e sages.
Ultimately, though, try to keep it simple. If you want spellcasting to feel draining, a simple -2 to CON that kicks in after casting spells during an encounter and lasts the rest of the day, will make spellcasting feel draining for your players (mind, if you have a lot of combat, -2 to CON is far too extreme). That's 1 very, very simple rule with no weird exceptions or other stuff nobody can remember half the time.
When you're building your own setting, work from the perspective that you only need to explain how your setting differs from generic high fantasy. Everyone knows generic high fantasy, they don't need to have it explained by you. If would perhaps be nice, but whenever you think you're headed into expected territory, stop what you're doing and start working on something important. Trust me, there's no chance in hell you won't run out of steam if you start to describe the Tolkien/Forgotten Realms stuff of your setting.I suppose part of the problem is that I'm only strongly familiar with the Forgotten Realms setting thanks to videogames and books and the Generic World Setting from the handbooks I've bought, so I'm not too sure how much setting "should" affect rules/cosmetics.
Rule Two of Homebrew: keep your fluff short & sweet. For example, when making one of your race options don't spend 3 pages describing their society, the family unit, odd traditions & whatever. Until you actually need those things in the game, let them fester inside your skull, and as a few keywords scribbled on your laptop.
Instead, write a short blurb about some defining scene with that race:
"The Sapling was amazed at what he had seen that day; fleshy beings milling about on indeterminable, but clearly important business right until nightfall. They then retreated into obviously constructed caves, some made from dead wood.
He knew he was defying the Ancients of the Forestheart just being here, but he had to get closer, had to try to see what went on inside one of the profane caves. And so he sent tendrils of himself in rippling sprouts through the caves dead tree..."
It doesn't have to be much more than that to give players a pretty clear idea of what the race is like and what kinds of personalities they might have.
More, all the fluff you write define what you write about and that's not necessarily a good thing. You want to define the setting enough so that everyone have similar expectations, but you also want to leave everything vague enough that your players can help define them during play.
It's generally a very, very good idea to build your world out of bits of story, like with the sapling thing above. If you need a city, for example, you don't need 20 pages worth of maps and details. A short snippet or three of various classes of people or whatever, doing something at some specific location, is all you really need. It will establish places to see, types of people to meet and the kind of action players can expect, which is exactly the same as 20 pages worth of extreme detail will give you.
I try to impose a 10 sentence limit on myself, and that works reasonably well.
You. . . you are a phenomenal resource.
I'd be remiss to not say that the setting is something I've been tinkering with, on and off, for a few years as a novel. I've gotten outlines and even a few tens of thousands of words down before, but just never felt like I quite was making a cohesive whole. Reading through the recent 5E hoobaloo and this thread at work (yeah, they've been sitting there in open tabs since January. . . it's a busy time of year for us) got the old brainmeats thinking about tossing out my ill-defined cast and just running some RP around in the world for a while, Erikson/Weiss+Hickman style.
As such, a lot of the groundwork, concept-wise, is already there. I.E., I know that I want the tree-people to heavily subsist on sunlight rather than say, food or Rest. I want the hideously mutated zombie-people to gain strength from the pulsing hole in the sky that rests atop their capital city (which nauseates and unsettles anyone else). The trick is figuring out mechanics-based ways to get some of this across. . . using chunks of pre-existing content is nice insofar as it saves me some balancing work, but it also means that players have a lot less of my own schlock to read through on their way to character generation.
That said, I do like the idea of running through some battles/interactions to get a feel for how stuff from the novel setting would work in a constructed game environment. Moreover, the -X to CON thing is precisely the sort of feel I'd love to go for, if it wasn't utterly game-breaking.
Finally, love the idea about scene-setting snippets. Lets me flex the old writerly muscles while I'm at the gaming thing.
Once more, thank you ever so much :)