• The VOIDRUNNER'S CODEX is LIVE! Explore new worlds, fight oppressive empires, fend off fearsome aliens, and wield deadly psionics with this comprehensive boxed set expansion for 5E and A5E!

Lore Isn't Important

pemerton

Legend
I am sort of torn on this one. On the one hand, lore is clearly important. If you take Ravenloft and rewrite the history of the setting, that is a radical alteration but it might also not be so bad if you want the players to experience it again for the first time.
I am not steeped in Ravenloft and its lore, but I've heard of it, read a few modules for it, and (a long time ago) interacted a bit with it in play.

To me Ravenloft seems more like a bundle of tropes - mists, curses and undeaths, weird prophecies, sinister spires, brooding and perhaps tortured evil masterminds - than maps and timelines LotR-style.

The same for Dark Sun. It's sand and city-states and evil sorcerer-kings and gladiators and psionics and ruthless templars; and once you're out into the desert, there are thri-keen and giants who stride across (and through) the dunes, and strange hermits at rare oases. Detailed lore doesn't seem necessary.
 
Last edited:

log in or register to remove this ad

Lore can be as important as the people at a given table want it to be. It can the soil from which all the story threads grow or it can be set-dressing. The fiction can be completely constrained by it or built on top of it.
 

I am not steeped in Ravenloft and its lore, but I've heard of it, read a few modules for it, and (a long time ago) interacted a bit with it in play.

To me Ravenloft seems more like a bundle of tropes - mists, curses and undeaths, weird prophecies, sinister spires, brooding and perhaps tortured evil masterminds - then maps and timelines LotR-style.

The same for Dark Sun. It's sand and city-states and evil sorcerer-kings and gladiators and psionics and ruthless templars; and once you're out into the desert, there are thri-keen and giants who stride across (and through) the dunes, and strange hermits at rare oases. Detailed lore doesn't seem necessary.

Ravenloft isn't as lore heavy as many other settings, in part because its history is very short and its a demiplane. It still had some significant meta plot development but I always felt you could ignore this since the setting was so GM facing (it wasn't the kind of setting where a player was expected to know the details or bring those details to the table, and by its nature, stuff could easily be changed). I do think the lore increased substantially with the Sword and Sorcery books. And I wasn't as into the tone of that lore personally. But I think the way Ravenloft works for most people is they sort of pick a cut off point where they want their lore to begin and end.

That said, if you read all the novels, modules and supplements, it does build up a kind of lore. It does have lots of major NPCs, important events, etc. And there was a metaplot (for instance two of my favorite domains, Dorvinia and Borca merged into one during the Grand Conjunction which greatly reshaped Ravenloft). There was a point in my life where I pretty much knew all the information every Ravenloft Novel, boxed set, Van Richten Guide, supplment and the black box, red box and domains of dread. I would never approach something like that now though. It wasn't Realms level lore, but there was a considerable amount by the end of the 90s.
 


@Bedrockgames

The sort of stuff you describe - metaplots, "world-shaking events", etc that are presented as material for incorporation into RPGing - is pretty much exactly the opposite of what I am interested in as a RPGer.
I mostly agree. They might be worthwhile as things that have happened in the history of a setting as part of why the setting is as it is. They are usually less interesting as things the PCs are supposed to interact with.
 

pemerton

Legend
I mostly agree. They might be worthwhile as things that have happened in the history of a setting as part of why the setting is as it is. They are usually less interesting as things the PCs are supposed to interact with.
I like the events the PCs (and thus their players) interact with to be things that emerge from our play, rather than the working through of stories already written by someone else.

Those things may be big or small - this depends on taste and on system. In my 4e game, the events have included sealing the Abyss, killing Lolth such that the Drow are freed and able to return to the surface world, and staving off the Dusk War. By default, 4e doesn't really do nuance.

In the Burning Wheel game where I'm a player, the events have included my PC arguing with his friend about whether or not she will repair his armour; and returning to my home to find my brother fallen low, and almost being brought low myself by my mother's appeal to stay at home with her - but a successful prayer for a miracle instead meant that the scales fell from her eyes and she agreed to join me in restoring our home to its former glory. I once described BW as not-quite-Vermeer-the-RPG.
 

I like the events the PCs (and thus their players) interact with to be things that emerge from our play, rather than the working through of stories already written by someone else.

Those things may be big or small - this depends on taste and on system. In my 4e game, the events have included sealing the Abyss, killing Lolth such that the Drow are freed and able to return to the surface world, and staving off the Dusk War. By default, 4e doesn't really do nuance.

In the Burning Wheel game where I'm a player, the events have included my PC arguing with his friend about whether or not she will repair his armour; and returning to my home to find my brother fallen low, and almost being brought low myself by my mother's appeal to stay at home with her - but a successful prayer for a miracle instead meant that the scales fell from her eyes and she agreed to join me in restoring our home to its former glory. I once described BW as not-quite-Vermeer-the-RPG.
I don't think we are disagreeing more than around the edges. I do not see much conflict between emergent story and pre-established setting facts. You may see more conflict or tension than I do here.
 


@Bedrockgames

The sort of stuff you describe - metaplots, "world-shaking events", etc that are presented as material for incorporation into RPGing - is pretty much exactly the opposite of what I am interested in as a RPGer.

This is one of the reasons when I run Ravenloft now I strictly use the black box (which is just the original bare bones overview of all the domains, nothing too fancy, plenty of space to fill in with your own material, stuff that emerges during play, etc). I don't hate meta plot but I think it got way overplayed in the 90s, and there wasn't enough restraint in its use. Also rather than be presented in a useful fashion (like I don't know a book filled with a bunch of events you could have happen over time to add a sense of 'current affairs' to the world as you wish) it was more like these big monumental events players were meant to be spectators to most of the time. I like a lot of the adventures leading up to the grand conduction, there was a whole series of modules where a line from an unfolding prophecy appeared in each one. But I absolutely hated the Grand Conjuction. It just made the core more uniform rather than strange and interesting. As an example, it took out all the domains that didn't feel as European or more standard fantasy. Many of the domains had an eastern European feel, which worked, but I don't think you needed everything to fit adjacent to that. So the strange barren and lightning blasted Illithid Domain of Bleutspur, the weird religious fanatic domain of G'henna, the really cool Nightmare Land domain inhabited by the Abber Nomads where the land can literally change shape out of the corner of your eye, those all got plucked out, along with the domain inspired by Island of Doctor Moreau (which got put into the sea so it could more closely resemble the source material). It just felt like a lot of the dreamlike weirdness was removed by the grand conjunction. Some of the domains they took out were challenging, were a little harder to understand for some GMs, maybe harder to use, but it removed really important contrast in my opinion. Plus you ended up with this huge chasm in the middle of Ravenloft whose sole purpose seemed to be to make travel between certain domains harder (which on the one hand isn't awful but it took away some interesting travel choices the players might make). Keep in mind, this is my own idiosyncratic view, I think most people liked the Grand Conjunction.
 

Reynard

Legend
Supporter
For those of you that find lore important for your games, what do you do for players unfamiliar with the setting? Do you try and bring them up to speed? Do you give them homework? Do you expect them to get invested?
 

Voidrunner's Codex

Remove ads

Top