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D&D General Do players REALLY care about the game world?

Hex08

Explorer
Depends. Some players are just there to participate in the fights and some have a deeper interest. It really falls to the DM to make them care. Introduce memorable places and NPCs and help the players develop backstories and grow their characters beyond leveling up and they will come to care without realizing. Lecturing them or giving them a book to read probably isn't the way to develop interest.
 

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Yora

Legend
Players generally don't care about things that are abstract and exist in a vacuum, and that don't factor into their decision making for the current situation. What players care for is things they can interact with and that impacts the decisions they have to make right now.
Understanding some kind of cultural institution becomes relevant when the players have to navigate it to get something they want. History matters when it helps understanding what motivates the various factions in a conflict they also have their own stakes in.
 


Mallus

Legend
Depends on the game world. They’re really just another species of fiction. I guess it’s more accurate to say the setting is an element of the fiction. Might be the main point of interest, may just be the backdrop for characters you care about.

The game world of one of the campaign’s I’m currently playing in is fascinating. My old college DM created a world-as-puzzle setting whose nature (which is integral to the overarching conflict) was slowly revealed over time.
 

nevin

Adventurer
Pacing my friend, pacing is a key element of any games. Are there easy fights in my games? Of course there are! Deadly fights? Sure as he'll! But not everything is easy, and not everything is hard. The hard part is in playing monsters/foes in an optimal way, just like the players play their characters to the best of their abilities. For that, you need varied encounters that avoid mono type foes. Why send 12 hobgoblin warriors when 6 would do it and then add 2 hobgoblin cultists with bless spells and 1 hobgoblin apprentice with a few magic missiles or even sleep spells? This amount mote or less the same challenge but the varied type make it much more interesting and challenging. Use tactics, do not les the foes stand in their assigned area until the PC challenges them. Let their foes hunt them when the players go to rest. Put up traps and hazards that were not there their first time around. Make patrols more deadly as their foes learn from.thwor mistakes. Too often, I hear less experienced DM say, ok you go to sleep and you wake up the next morning... This is not often the case in my games...
Sounds like a lot of fun
 

jayoungr

Legend
Supporter
The new video from the Dungeon Dudes about faction intrigue makes makes an interesting point. Here's a quote (3:34):

"I also believe that factions in a Dungeons and Dragons campaign do a really good job of helping the dungeon master broadcast not only their story but also worldbuilding to the player characters in a very meaningful way. Through the lens of various factions, you can get several different views on the way that the world works, and these separate views fill out a large window of opportunities for player characters to engage with. So, rather than lore dumps and long essays about what your world is, having several different factions detail aspects of the world in meaningful ways means that the characters get to engage in that and get to make their own decisions on their views of the world."

The full video is here:
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
The new video from the Dungeon Dudes about faction intrigue makes makes an interesting point. Here's a quote (3:34):

"I also believe that factions in a Dungeons and Dragons campaign do a really good job of helping the dungeon master broadcast not only their story but also worldbuilding to the player characters in a very meaningful way. Through the lens of various factions, you can get several different views on the way that the world works, and these separate views fill out a large window of opportunities for player characters to engage with. So, rather than lore dumps and long essays about what your world is, having several different factions detail aspects of the world in meaningful ways means that the characters get to engage in that and get to make their own decisions on their views of the world."

The full video is here:
A follow up to that. Matt Colville has a great series on politics in games. Incredibly helpful in a lot of ways. Starts with this one and runs five more episodes.

 

RoughCoronet0

Dragon Lover
Only speaking for myself as a player, the game world and it's story/history is the main thing that excites me regardless of its relevance to me as a player or my character. I am the person who collects every book in Skyrim in every major playthrough and reads through all of them (and I've played through that game a few dozen times now). I'm the person who reads all of the codex entries in Mass Effect or Dragon Age or any other game with massive dumps of lore and history in game. I'm the person who scours through various different wikis of games and other media of fiction to learn everything I can about anything that may interest me. I am the person who watches hours upon hours of lore videos on YouTube about various media franchises. I'm the person who reads D&D books, especially books full of lore and fluff for fun.

So any time the DM is about to drop some big lore reveal for the main story, or tells us what an old ruin use to be used for, or shares some neat story or legend the locals like to tell travelers who stop in their town, I'm a happy camper even if my character wouldn't be interested in said story or lore. I'm sure I'm the odd case, but for as much fun as solving puzzles, experiencing tough and interesting combats, and influencing the world personally can be.....learning about the world and it's history and legends will probably always be one of the best parts of any campaign for me.
 

cmad1977

Hero
Mine seem to care about the elements of the game world that touch their characters.
The priest is worried about the growing fervor of his church.
The warrior is traumatized by being mind controlled.
The rogue is looking for clues to his psychic abilities.
The wizard hates his brother and the Library.

They don’t seem to concerned with other details.
 

In fairness, no one cares about the lore of a world to begin with. No one read the Similarian until after they fell in love with The Lord of the Rings. Your players wont be invested until they have a reason to get invested. I would incorporate your in game history and world quirks directly into the adventure.

The party comes to a town that is holding a festival celebrating the defeat of an ancient hag. The party doesnt really care about the detail but has fun and earns some minor loot playing carnival games. Suddenly the carnival is attacked by the ghost of the hag come back to have her revenge apon the living. If the party wants to defeat her they will need to investigate to learn where he ancient lair was, how she was defeated in the first place, and in doing so they learn abit of yor worlds history. The villagers superstitious about the hag and fear she will punish them if they cross her, so the party has to navigate this micro culture of this little town to get the info they need.

Thats one example to engage the players with the world mechanically, engaging them emotionally is another matter entirely. The best way to do this is to incorporate the players back story into the setting. The player is a former pirate? Neat. The Empire is cracking down on pirates and is putting out bounties on any known pirate. Old crew mats might approach the player asking for aid and weather or not they want to they could get drawn into imperial politics. Maybe the Empire will forget all about the players past if they do a job for them, maybe the player may choose to help their old crew mates and drag the party into a high seas adventure, either way they are engaging with the world.

I think those are all good ideas but at the same time, some times thw world just wont appeal to the players and they ignore it. Thats always the case with fiction, you cant please every one. Knowing that is part of being a dungeun master. If your player doesn't really care about your setting but is still having fun, then you are doing a good job.
 
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turnip_farmer

Adventurer
A lot of the worldbuilding we DMs do is just self-gratification. mapsturbation, if you will.
Never let your players know that weather conditions in your campaign are based on a detailed simulation you created, taking into account the topography and latitude. Trust me, they'll just stop inviting you to any events outside game night. Pretend you're making it up as you go along.
 

I know what you're getting at, but there are people who read setting books for pleasure. The thing is, those people are mostly GMs. :D
Honestly, Ive read the Similarian, I cant recommend it. It is not that good. Tolkien didnt even want to release it for years. It actually has very little to do with Lord of the rings, its mostly a very long a drawn out history of the origin of the phile of light Frodo got from Gladriel, and the white tree of Gondor. Gondor itself is barely touched apon but if you want to know the family lineage of the TREE the book has you covered. Most of the things you would be curious about are covered in the appendixes not in the similarian. I think the Similarian has some good content but its pretty impenetrable and allot of it is not really worth reading. You can definitely tell that Tolkien wrote the LOTR so that any one could enjoy it and he wrote the Similarian for himself.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/They)
Never let your players know that weather conditions in your campaign are based on a detailed simulation you created, taking into account the topography and latitude. Trust me, they'll just stop inviting you to any events outside game night. Pretend you're making it up as you go along.
Mapsturbation is perfectly normal and healthy, but should only be done privately or with a consenting partner. Never go Louis CK on your players.
 

Wolfram stout

Adventurer
In fairness, no one cares about the lore of a world to begin with. No one read the Similarian until after they fell in love with The Lord of the Rings. Your players wont be invested until they have a reason to get invested. I would incorporate your in game history and world quirks directly into the adventure.

Wait, he wrote more stories set in the world of Similarian? I will have to check those out. Just kidding of course.

This is a really good point, and I have not thought of it that way. Not only did I not read the Similarian until after falling in love with LOTR but it was probably 30 years after (and 2 attempts to get through it). And while I enjoyed a lot of the individual stories and elements, reading it straight through was a slog.

I need to consider that the next time I start a new campaign.
 



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