System Informs Setting

“A blank piece of paper is God’s way of telling us how hard it is to be God.”

― Sidney Sheldon


blankscrollOur readers are looking for a game that is easy-to-run, but we don’t want to throw away good crunch just for simplicity.

So now we start moving from theory into practice. We’ve chosen a game system (Metagaming’s The Fantasy Trip), but what does that tell us about the world? TFT is a very simple system with only three character attributes and only two classes. It grew out of a pocket game of gladiator combat, so it has a fairly detailed combat system, and the magic system is pretty direct.


  1. In general, I don’t think player characters keep much world building in mind when playing unless it’s relevant to the task at hand. From my experience, deities and history work better as a condiment sparingly used.

    Our own bronze age was littered with parochial gods and numerous creation stories, so why not use that to the advantage of the game? Any player that relies on a deity of some sort must make up their own god or goddess. Have them come up with needed elements–creation story, spheres of control, rituals. Some will try to game the system, but there’s always that guy at the table.

  2. Keeping the players’ interest in the forefront is a good hting to keep in mind. Its easy for a GM to spin out in their imagination on tangents that players won’t come in contact with. Encouraging players to come up with their own religions (or martial orders, or family connections, or whatever) has never been that successful for me, but if you sat down ‘out of game’ and did a back-and-forth, that might work better.

  3. It depends on the player, you are right.

    To answer the question of what makes a good creation myth or pantheonic myth, I like the ones that provided some usefulness to the living world (at that time). Greek culture had Sky and Earth, titans and Zeus, and those interactions certainly set a tone for ancient Greece, but later stories, such as Apollo, that had more daily utility (justice, reason, law, etc.).

    For this bronze age world, how about re-imaging one of our contemporary creation myths–Darwinism? It fits in theme of “the struggle of mortals against the environment.” The fight for survival of the fittest is the religious creed. To some, that means muscle, others science, a few the weapons of magic.

    How that gets expressed could be up to each character and the skills they take on..

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