Lacking Natural Simplicity

Random musings on books, code, and tabletop games.

Consistent Game Worlds and Levels of Detail

It is easier to create a consistent game world if it is not too detailed, and it is arguably easier to start playing in such a world, since each roleplaying game group will create their own vision of the world with their own details, and will feel a greater connection to the world and it's unfolding history. However, if game play generates additional detail (as opposed to simply generating new history) then inconsitences can arise. This is not a problem for gamers who don't care about details at all, but most care at least a little about the details: they don't want taverns to switch from one side of the river to another, for instance.

When gaming in more detailed worlds, the gamers have to expend more effort up front to work within the details: learning how Tékumel societies work, or the religions of the Lunar Empire of Glorantha, but the additional detail can add depth to the roleplaying experience and can provide additional inspiration for the game. How can such detail be best presented to prevent the gamer from becoming overloaded and turned away by the detail? Is it possible to present things in such a way that there is as little up front work for the gamer to start playing in a detailed world as an undetailed world, and can the continuing effort of working within the details be kept close to the level of effort required to play in an undetailed world?

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