Friday, August 3, 2012

Discussion: Follow The Book Or Make It Your Own?

It's confession time. I have a bad tendency of late of not reading the setting material in the supplement books for the games I run. Not that I don't like the settings, but for the most part I don't have much time where I can pull out a giant RPG book and just sit and read the fluff. When I do get to read the material I usually like it, and generally find a few things I can use but even then I find I discard a lot of the stuff in favor of keeping the game world my own.

Today's discussion is this: when running in an established setting how true to the books do you keep the world? Obviously you have to branch out and do things yourself some of the time, but do you try to keep close to the books? If a supplement comes out after you've began running the game do you incorporate the additional setting details quickly?

For that matter, how many of you - especially the ones who make the world your own - bother to read, or enjoy reading, the setting fluff in these additional books? Obviously there is a large market for it, but I'm curious how many care more for the mechanics/player options that players may want in their game and less about changing the world once the game is already in motion.

As usual, sound off in the comments.


  1. As a player, I always feel that supplements are nice, but the GM shouldn't feel forced to incorporate them or even read them. One of my pet peeves are GMs (and players) who let the books dictate their game. It's your game, so feel free to ignore whatever you like, as long as it works.

  2. I do try to stick with it, but a lot of the reasons for me running a game are based on the setting. Unhallowed Metropolis being the best example of this, as I adore the setting and devour everything they put out. I won't retcon to fit stuff in if I've already done things in my game that would make the changes impossible to fit. This is mainly due to the way I run my games in that the things that players do will have a continuous effect, not just in the one campaign, but in all of them with different groups. One bunch of characters on a mission actually came across the scorched remains of a previous party who had failed to achieve the objectives of the contract because they had got into a bit of a scuffle with each other.

    That being said, I can - on occasion - take a system I like, and run it with a different setting. Currently in the last planning stages for a cyberpunk 2020 game set in a world very different to the Gibson inspired one in the main books. But the world I do transport into a system has to also be pretty amazing. I've still never taken the plunge and created a whole world myself. maybe one day...

  3. I only run "My Version" of established settings and tend to stay away from such settings just to prevent stories and "common knowledge" from dictating, or even impacting, how things are handled/presented.

    That said, if I am running an established setting, I try to make sure the major differences are all understood and are part of the "agreed to's" at the table.

    For example: If I'm running a supers game I make sure everyone understands if there's a Metropolis or a School for Gifted Mutants, and what that means should there be, before we begin.

    Doing so helps to manage the expectations of the players and makes the game go smoother with less, "Wait! If we're Jedi, then I demand to speak to Master Yoda..." (when you don't want a Master Yoda element in your game) moments.