Campaign settings fascinate me. There is something about the way we frame and build and construct an entire world in an RPG that is incredibly satisfying. Even fleshing out and discovering the secret in-between places of an established published setting lends itself to some incredible gameplay. Playing within a campaign setting offers an opportunity to say something about the nature of the world and in many ways the setting is the character the GM brings to the table.
I’ve been inundated by amazing campaign setting ideas in the last couple of months. As I already wrote about before, I’ve got some campaign ideas I’ve been kicking around for some time now, but my direct inspiration for a seafaring island based campaign was Chris Perkins own Iomandra setting. I also got swept up in the work put into the 13th Age setting with the Icons and just how that defines the parts of the game with which the characters interact. Watching Mike Krahulik from Penny Arcade build up his Thornwatch setting followed by his own game system was inspiring. Then over at d20Monkey, Brian’s Karthun setting is shaping up to be a really cool change up from the cliche and static expectations of what a tabletop game looks like. Then on top of all that, I recently discovered Blade Raiders and the setting from that game is fleshed out and full of unique little nuggets that define what works and what is expected within a game.
All of these ideas and creativity are awesome to observe (and to partake in myself) and there is something inherently right in this simple act of world and story creation. There is something in us that longs to partake in the creative act and I think it is something God puts in us because it is part of who He is. In the beginning of Genesis before anything else happens in the story of God interacting with the world there is a simple description of what God was doing. “Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surfaces of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” It is in the context of this that God begins setting the bounds of existence and all that is comes to be. Genesis also describes how in humanity, God does something special by creating mankind in the very image of God. I think a specific part of that image is the creative impulse. We as people have a drive to take part in the same activity as the One who made us. It’s wired in. For me, building a campaign setting gives me this weird satisfaction almost like fatherhood. I think it is awesome that as gamers, we have an unexpected output of playing with the divine that I think many would miss. So am I playing god? Maybe a little bit, but I think He’d be more than cool with it.