Tuesday, October 30, 2018

The Same Ten Elements

James Jacques Joseph Tissot
Meaningful choices requires knowledge. Why should we go to place X instead of place Y? As soon as we know even one thing about one of the places, our choice becomes more meaningful. "Place X" is a city" helps, and "place Y is where your father's killer was going" helps. In large part, the knowledge that makes choices meaningful is basic knowledge of tropes or simple facts. We know generally what a wizard is, and what confronting one might entail. We know generally that things which are far away take longer to get to, and it's faster to ride a boat over water than over a desert.

But another source of knowledge is the particular knowledge of a specific thing. Your players might start out knowing that Ckem-Sudam is a city, but after they've collected rumors about it, visited it five times, and encountered dozens of its important residents, they now have particular knowledge of Ckem-Sudam. They have more information, which means they have greater ability to make choices which surprise you, clever choices, meaningful choices.

I'd go so far as to say that repetition of elements is required for a good role-playing game. Repetition creates the context needed for players to do better than guess what effect their characters' actions will have. Constantly return to the same places or kind of places. Constantly revisit the same characters or kind of characters. Constantly refer to the same kinds of technology and magic. Even abstract themes like justice, piety, and desperation bear revisiting and variation.

There are three main religions in Holy Selmat, one of which accounting for 95% of the people the party will meet. The region is cut up into nine cities and their outlying area. If there's some strange race, it can be found in at least three places. There are maybe 200 saints, but my "random saint" table looks like this:

Random Saint (d20)
1-10 Sainted Elijah: First prophet, converted along the river Levi
11-15 Sainted Tirzah: most recent prophet (still pre-split)
16-17 Sainted Miriam: received the commandments. Rode a horse.
18 Sainted Yeshua: won a battle at Gath
19 Sainted Michael: defeated Moloch at Algol
20 Sainted Ehud: studied new Gigres

It follows Zipf's Law: the frequency of any element is inversely proportional to its rank. 

Each entry in my random religious texts table refers to some city or prophet or other extant element. My Holy Selmat rumor table entries all refer back to some extant element. I want to hit on these elements repeatedly, so my players will develop in-depth understandings without having to have every fact exposited to them from the beginning. 

No comments:

Post a Comment