The GM's World, the Players' Campaign

Aldarc

Legend
These two paragraphs are talking about quite different things.

The first refers to worldbuilding that happens before play begins. There aren't any characters yet.

The second refers to worldbuilding during play, as evidenced by the 'discovering something about my character' piece.

Nothing wrong with either, but they're very different things. When you're adding details it's just that: you're adding details to something the basics of which are already in place; put there by the GM before play began.
There's nothing wrong should you choose to approach it this way in your games, I don't think that this bifurcation you set up here is equally true in all games, so I question the validity of its universality and applicability to my point.
 

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Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I don't accept that there is an inherent lack of depth in "just in time" setting development. I don't think a setting is richer or deeper because the GM has imagined stuff about it that is not part of play.
My problem with "just in time" setting development (good term for it, by the way) is that inevitably I'll contradict myself, often within the same session, as I won't remember what I said earlier.

Players: "While in town we'll stay at the Silver Salmon, where we stayed last time."
Me: "OK, the Silver Salmon Inn is in the middle of town, giving a good view of the main market square."
Players: "Last time we were here it was down by the docks. We had to walk to the market, and Jocasta's pocket got picked on the way, remember?"
Me: "Uuh...OK, I guess? I remember the pocket-picking, was that en route from the Salmon?" ... and bang goes the flow.

Making notes on the fly is a poor option as I can't write and talk at the same time (or if I did, both would be incoherent :) ) and stopping every 30 seconds to make notes isn't conducive to any sort of flow or rhythm. But if I've got this noted somewhere I can refer to it on the fly and keep things consistent.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I think it is pretty inevitable that a setting mostly improvised on spot will on average have less depth than one that is planned with time and consideration.
In the here and now a good improvisor can make it appear to have depth. What it won't have (unless such has been prepped beforehand, thus no longer 'just in time') is any sort of thought-through history or rationale as to how things got to their present state; and I find a setting's history provides a lot of its depth and breadth.
 

Aldarc

Legend
IME, Setting Themes > Setting Lore Details. If you set up the themes of a setting, then it's pretty easy to build the rest as you go. This has been my experience, FWIW, with the Nentir Vale, which is a setting that is relatively light on details but heavy on themes.

I would also add that this has been my experience with Stonetop, which is a game/setting that I can't promise that I will eventually shut up about.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
In the here and now a good improvisor can make it appear to have depth. What it won't have (unless such has been prepped beforehand, thus no longer 'just in time') is any sort of thought-through history or rationale as to how things got to their present state; and I find a setting's history provides a lot of its depth and breadth.
You’re right. But the downside of that is wasted time. There’s almost no chance that detail will ever matter in play. And referees who put that kind of time in tend to try to force that work onto the players so it’s not wasted. If the referee can keep that work in the background and not lore-dump all over the players when it’s irrelevant, then fine. If it helps the referee keep the world straight, cool.
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
You’re right. But the downside of that is wasted time. There’s almost no chance that detail will ever matter in play. And referees who put that kind of time in tend to try to force that work onto the players so it’s not wasted. If the referee can keep that work in the background and not lore-dump all over the players when it’s irrelevant, then fine. If it helps the referee keep the world straight, cool.

I mean, if I'm inspired to make background - no matter if it's used or not - it was probably time better spent than debating, say, the merits of making background :)

Needless to say I am currently, apparently, not inspired much.
 

You’re right. But the downside of that is wasted time. There’s almost no chance that detail will ever matter in play. And referees who put that kind of time in tend to try to force that work onto the players so it’s not wasted. If the referee can keep that work in the background and not lore-dump all over the players when it’s irrelevant, then fine. If it helps the referee keep the world straight, cool.
I think there are exactly two reasons to prep what's happening in the world away from the PCs. One is because it's imminently going to be relevant to what they're doing or what they're interested in. The other is because it's a thing you enjoy doing. I have a good friend who has over time developed a tendency to have things the PCs are interested in be in the parts of his setting he's just finished writing up. This has worked mostly well and we haven't felt as though he was leading us around to show us how awesome his world was.
 

Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
You’re right. But the downside of that is wasted time. There’s almost no chance that detail will ever matter in play. And referees who put that kind of time in tend to try to force that work onto the players so it’s not wasted. If the referee can keep that work in the background and not lore-dump all over the players when it’s irrelevant, then fine. If it helps the referee keep the world straight, cool.
So this is back to the, "But what if your DM is bad?" argument. I don't want playstyle or rules dictated by the possibility that you have a bad DM. It constricts options and makes being a DM less fun. I thought we wanted more DMs?
 


Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
I think there are exactly two reasons to prep what's happening in the world away from the PCs. One is because it's imminently going to be relevant to what they're doing or what they're interested in. The other is because it's a thing you enjoy doing. I have a good friend who has over time developed a tendency to have things the PCs are interested in be in the parts of his setting he's just finished writing up. This has worked mostly well and we haven't felt as though he was leading us around to show us how awesome his world was.
I imagine, however, that it does feel like the world exists entirely to cater to the players. If that's fun for your entire group, great! But your tone indicates yet another poster who assumes a bad DM that needs to be controlled. That attitude does not lead to more people wanting to be DMs.
 

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