To answer look at the steps I outlined and what I highlighted
You (and @pemerton ) are assuming, likely based on my reputation, that all of what I highlighted are handled more or less the same way that Dungeons & Dragons and other similar RPGs campaigns are handled.
- The referee describes a setting
- The players describe some character they want to play in the setting.
- The referee describes the circumstances in which the characters find themselves.
- The players describe what they do as their characters.
- The referee adjudicates what the players do as their characters and then loops back to #3.
I deliberately elected not to expand on what one does to describe a setting, describe characters, describe circumstances, how player describe what they do, and how the referee adjudicate. All of these can be handled in different ways including delegating it to the consensus of the entire group.
I am not criticising terseness. I'm just noting inaccuracy in generalisation.I realize that is one of the perils of writing tersely.
For instance, the concept of delegation presupposes authority. But the authority structure that you posit is not a generic one. When the players in my MHRP game choose their PCs, and thus their milestones, they are the ones who are deciding what the focus of their play will be. They are not exercising authority that I, the GM, have delegated to them. To describe it that way is to put the cart before the horse!
What actually happens is that we as a group decide to play some RPG or other, and that RPG sets out (whether expressly or implicitly) some assumptions about trope or genre or setting or whatever, and also some principles or rules about who gets to author what. And we start from there.
It obscures things to frame all this in terms of "the referee". Or "the players" for that matter - eg in my Cortex+ Fantasy Heroic games I have written pre-gen PCs and the players have chosen from them.
Baker didn't write Dungeon World.The fact that it doesn't go into whether the character will be facing the Mad King of Redgate Keep versus The Evil High Priest of the Hellbridge Temple doesn't change that Baker has a very specific type of setting in mind when writing Dungeon World. This is further reinforced by the gamemaster advice given later. Dungeon World is not an RPG that lends itself to running every type of fantasy setting. But instead, focuses on a narrow range of settings that have a specific feel.
What I am calling a setting is not just a list of specific details like the Sorceror Supply Shop is on Regal Street just south of the Square of the Gods in City State. It also the more general assumptions and tropes from which those details are created from.
Dungeon World is an example of an RPG that starts out a campaign with a setting that is comprised of no details just assumptions and tropes.
And DW is obviously as broad in its genre coverage as D&D, or T&T, or RM, etc.
Not all RPGing involves a "campaign".A setting is the background of the campaign. Anything and everything that could impact how a player will roleplay a character.
The point of all roleplaying whether it is with a human referee as with tabletop RPGs, collaborative storytelling, refereed by a software algorithm, or adjudicated by the rules of a sport (LARPS), is to pretend to be a character having adventures. In order to have adventures there needs to be a place in which adventures can occur. In order for players to decide what to do as their characters there needs to be a context on which the player can make a decision. All of this forms the setting of the campaign.
Not all RPGing involves an adventure.
And it is perfectly possible to create fiction about - to imagine - characters doing things without having any "background" or "setting" other than a sense of genre. Like, in my first session of Prince Valiant the players wrote up their knights, established some basic facts about their families and we agreed that they were riding through a forest on their way to a tournament:
This was perfectly good RPGing - in fact it was really quite good RPGing - and it didn't depend upon the referee establishing a setting or delegating any authority to anyone.Because - despite blind allocation - two players ended up with very similar characters (same B/P split, same skills, differing only that one had more 3 Arms and 1 Fellowship while the other had 2 in each), and one had described his PC as in his early middle age (but having accomplished little!) while the other was in his early 20s, the player of the younger one decided they were father and son. They were country knights, on their way to a tournament. The third player described his PC as the son of a noble family of horse breeders, with a gift for working with horses (Riding 4), and we decided that he was also on his way to the tournament and that they met on the road.
The "XP system" in the game is fame, and the default rule is that the character with the highest fame in a group has precedence. But the starting fame for knights is 800, so there was some jockeying in this respect - the three rode abreast, but Sir Tristraine (the horse breeder) was trying to squeeze Sir Justin (the son) into a rear position, while Sir Gerren (the father) did his best to make room for his son to stay alongside the other two. Opposed riding checks resulted in an all-round draw, so this awkwardness continued until they met a young knight in a clearing looking for jousting competition.
This was the first of three short scenarios I used, from the main rulebook and the "Episodes" book that shipped with it. It worked pretty well, and the PCs got some fame by besting a fairly weak knight in jousts. We got to test out the fighting rules, and also the social rules - the horse breeder had better Presence than Brawn plus some social skills to go with it, and the NPC had Fellowship, and so checks were made on both sides.
You state your steps in terms of authority distributions, but then go on to say you don't really mean it.The procedure that I outlined and claim covers all tabletop RPGs works just fine if the group decides to start the campaign with just general assumptions and tropes and paint in the details later as characters are created and the campaign is played. It also works just fine with campaign where the group is sitting with the entire Glorantha corpus sitting on shelves next to the table.
Thus I stand by my point that the first thing that happens when any type of tabletop RPG campaign is run, is that a setting is defined.
These steps I feel represent the minimum one has to do in order to run a tabletop role-playing campaign. A group wants to pretend to be characters having adventures using pen & paper this is what works. There are other broad alternatives but that means you doing something different like playing a board game, a CRPG, wargaming, LARPing, Collaborative Storytelling, and so on. Each of those are fun but have different consideration to make them work.
And you describe setting in such generic terms that any colour, genre, trope or situation is "setting".
With those glosses applied, what your steps really encompass is:
- The game participants imagine some characters in a situation.
- Those participants who have taken up the player role declare actions for those characters (their PCs).
- The game's procedures are applied to determine what happens next.
That's a pretty generic description of RPGing. It doesn't tell us why RPGs have rules.