Worldviews and campaigns coming together

Scruffy nerf herder

Toaster Loving AdMech Boi
Foreword: this is not intended to start any extended discussion about comparing and debating beliefs. The focus is more narrow than that and if things get heated, or the premise isn't appropriate for this forum, please feel free to remove the thread, mods.

How much have your games resembled the way you think about the world? Do your NPCs at times represent how you think the world often works, and/or express themes that spring from your perspective or culture?
 

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Hex08

Adventurer
I think that is unavoidable not matter how much you try to minimize it. I think it's even more true in games with alignment systems, my personal belief in good/evil certainly informs the way I think about the world for the games I run in. However, I am able to put my beliefs aside if the setting or game calls for it though. For example, If I am running in a game setting where it is considered good and right to kick puppies that's how I would run the game even though I have strong feelings regarding animals being abused.
 
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South by Southwest

Incorrigible Daydreamer
How much have your games resembled the way you think about the world? Do your NPCs at times represent how you think the world often works, and/or express themes that spring from your perspective or culture?
It's my first serious time as DM, but I am consciously trying hard to forbid myself doing this. The way I figure it, if the NPCs turn into springboards for my own beliefs, they're not characters: they're 2D sock puppets. To fight the tendency, two things I did when first writing the campaign was (1) consciously take all my favorite NPCs at the time and turn them into lesser underlings, and (2) make the world a place in which many things I hate are common and taken as given. In the early writing phase, anyway, this helped me a lot.
 


Scruffy nerf herder

Toaster Loving AdMech Boi
I think that is unavoidable not matter how much you try to minimize it. I think it's even more true in games with alignment systems, my personal belief in good/evil certainly informs the way I think about the world for the games I run in. However, I am able to put my beliefs aside if the setting or game calls for it though. For example, If I am running in a game setting where it is considered good and right to kick puppies that's how I would run the game even though I have strong feelings regarding animal animals being abused.

Can you think of any good examples of this happening? Evil settings aren't exactly common I would presume.

It's my first serious time as DM, but I am consciously trying hard to forbid myself doing this. The way I figure it, if the NPCs turn into springboards for my own beliefs, they're not characters: they're 2D sock puppets. To fight the tendency, two things I did when first writing the campaign was (1) consciously take all my favorite NPCs at the time and turn them into lesser underlings, and (2) make the world a place in which many things I hate are common and taken as given. In the early writing phase, anyway, this helped me a lot.

This is interesting to me because I've never been overly worried about my ideas bleeding a little into the campaign. It's merely part of the flavor, and I figure it helps make it my own.

But that's partly because I always create settings, and never use established ones.

Nope. They represent their own perspectives and cultures.
A great aspect of role-playing is that it allows me step beyond my own dissonant perspectives and mestiza of cultural narratives.

It's refreshing interacting with people who sometimes downplay their own perspective in order to enjoy something different.
 

Hex08

Adventurer
Can you think of any good examples of this happening? Evil settings aren't exactly common I would presume.
You're right evil settings aren't common, I was thinking hypothetically but I have a homebrew setting where the overall atmosphere is defiantly morally gray. The players aren't heroes, it's more about day-to-day survival in a very corrupt city which sometimes leads to actions that are decidedly not heroic. The PCs aren't evil, but they sometimes don't have any good choices. In some systems/setting things like slavery are not uncommon and that's certainly not compatible with most modern ethical views. Savage Worlds has an older setting, Evernight, that I understand to be pretty dark but I haven't read it myself. In games like Vampire: The Masquerade players will frequently engage in some morally reprehensible behavior.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Nope. They represent their own perspectives and cultures.

Yeah, but they don't have a culture like a living person does - they have one you assign. You're choosing (even designing) those cultures and perspectives, and thus the personalities and belief systems of the NPCs. These things are not independent of the GM.

Authors cannot, in a practical sense, avoid having their own ideas impact their work. That doesn't mean that every NPC is a direct and obvious sock puppet in an active agenda to push a belief system on players, but influences will be present.
 

Catolias

Explorer
Yeah, but they don't have a culture like a living person does - they have one you assign. You're choosing (even designing) those cultures and perspectives, and thus the personalities and belief systems of the NPCs. These things are not independent of the GM.

Authors cannot, in a practical sense, avoid having their own ideas impact their work. That doesn't mean that every NPC is a direct and obvious sock puppet in an active agenda to push a belief system on players, but influences will be present.
Absolutely agree. You are enmeshed and influenced by your local culture - there is no way you can stand outside it to create an rpg setting. That all goes to how you create your settings - even when you try to create a deliberate alternatice

If you don’t agree, just think about culture’s influence when you travel to another country and experience how the Other culture lives their daily lives. Some of that difference is obvious (eg, which side of the road do they drive) but some are less so. These less recognised impacts of culture are the way people communicate with each other - the euphemisms, the metaphors, the norms of socially acceptable behaviour. (My favourite from years ago were Indian taxi drivers referring to the rear of the building as “backside” - which made you think carefully about asking for an entry at the rear of the building!)

This all feels like a university discussion on post-structuralism and post-modernism. Ahh, those were the days…
 

Teo Twawki

Coffee ruminator
Yeah, but they don't have a culture like a living person does - they have one you assign.
They have the one needed for the story being collectively told. Few of the NPCs I run in my game hold my cultural beliefs.
Fictional characters very much do have their own cultural perspectives, regardless of critics who insist they are all the foils or variations of their author. Ideas impacting a work is vastly different from an author assigning perspectives to their characters, especially in a collectively-authored story.

At least, the better authors don't.
 

Scruffy nerf herder

Toaster Loving AdMech Boi
They have the one needed for the story being collectively told. Few of the NPCs I run in my game hold my cultural beliefs.
Fictional characters very much do have their own cultural perspectives, regardless of critics who insist they are all the foils or variations of their author. Ideas impacting a work is vastly different from an author assigning perspectives to their characters, especially in a collectively-authored story.

At least, the better authors don't.

I think what Umbran really means, is that whether or not we're always aware, there are little wrinkles of our own unique cultural upbringings that have their influence on the shape of our ethos, our world, and more importantly our use of language and mannerisms. Even when the creator simply thinks "that's different from how I think about this particular subject" their culture is having some influence on them even then.

This is a positive thing it is part of what makes people interesting. Of course none of this is intended to suggest that you yourself weren't aware of all of these basic ideas.
 

MGibster

Legend
How much have your games resembled the way you think about the world? Do your NPCs at times represent how you think the world often works, and/or express themes that spring from your perspective or culture?
I don't typically do this on a conscious level but I imagine it's unavoidable. When I have NPCs behaving in a "reasonable" manner its very much based on how I think things work or at least might work given the circumstances. This includes NPCs who act from their own worldview, which, again, is really just me putting my two cents in.

Sometimes this can cause some problems. When I ran a pre-made Alien adventure, the pre-made characters all had motivations designed to keep the player engaged in the adventure. The captain of the ship was motivated, in part, by his fear of losing not only his shares but the shares of his crew if he didn't investigate a distress signal as required by company policy. During the first part of the adventure, the player of the captain had him order an evacuation of the derelict vessel before it was fully explored. The player thought, "I don't want to play as jerk motivated by profit at the expense of the lives of people." Which, okay, I get that. But from my point of view, the captain isn't a greedy jerk. If he gives up the shares he's giving up the better part of a year's wages not only for him but for his crew as well. Who can afford that?
 

Hex08

Adventurer
I think what Umbran really means, is that whether or not we're always aware, there are little wrinkles of our own unique cultural upbringings that have their influence on the shape of our ethos, our world, and more importantly our use of language and mannerisms. Even when the creator simply thinks "that's different from how I think about this particular subject" their culture is having some influence on them even then.

This is a positive thing it is part of what makes people interesting. Of course none of this is intended to suggest that you yourself weren't aware of all of these basic ideas.
What this really comes down to is recognizing our own biases. People all have them and the pervade our lives. We can do our best to overcome them, but they are always there. It is certainly possible to recognize that we have them and do our best to minimize them but eliminating them is very unlikely so they will intrude in our games.
 

BookTenTiger

He / Him
I'd say the worlds I create tend to reflect my own perspective, especially the idea that good, kindness, and empathy are inevitably more powerful than evil, cruelty, and selfishness.

The NPCs tend to have varying perspectives within that framework, some agreeing and some disagreeing.
 

dragoner

solisrpg.com
In my Solis and Andromeda Dragons settings at dtrpg, I try to do what I think is logical, I don't totally try to use it as a bully pulpit, though I am sure my left politics bleed through.
 

Scruffy nerf herder

Toaster Loving AdMech Boi
What this really comes down to is recognizing our own biases. People all have them and the pervade our lives. We can do our best to overcome them, but they are always there. It is certainly possible to recognize that we have them and do our best to minimize them but eliminating them is very unlikely so they will intrude in our games.

Agreed. However we can own and appreciate and have some pride in them too. I'm glad I come from my kind of family and have been fortunate enough to have good and interesting experiences.

We come from a musical family. I.e. super musicology focused, people who have worked in orchestras and musical societies, even a famous artist you all might know and love (Johnny Cash), and this has influenced my games in various positive ways. I'm hardly interested in eliminating this influence.

Okay let's look at my first wife. A wonderful Hungarian woman who had all kinds of interest in Victorian era poetry except not 19th century England, but Hungary and Transylvania. Amazing cultural material, an extensive collection of fairy tales and folklore in general, blossoming into lesser known but engrossing 19th century art. Naturally, cool Eastern European themes and characters (especially monsters) would work their way into my games
 
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Retreater

Legend
I once played in a game that the DM used as an allegory for his own political beliefs (which I won't delve into here). Suffice it to say, he would introduce each NPC as the campaign world's equivalent of "X Political Commentator" or "Y Senate Majority Leader."
As one might expect, my personal beliefs come across more in my original campaign setting stuff than pre-published adventures. This usually has the effect of alienating players since most of my players don't share my opinions. I try to avoid this stuff nowadays. We're there for a fun game, not for Retreater's soapbox.
 

Catolias

Explorer
The games themselves - originals and subsequent iterations or editions - all express a particular world view and are socio-cultural artefacts. Once that’s acknowledged, then we can cut ourselves some slack about whether we should include our own worldview in the versions of these games that we run.

The best example of worldviews embedded in ttrpgs are gods and deities. Despite ttrpgs acknowledging multiple gods and thus suggesting polytheism, ttrpgs typically involve characters choosing a single god and following them. This “choose a single god” approach is consistent with the worldview of the society that these ttrpgs originated in. They have a culture based on a history of worshipping a single, all powerful god. In my games, I’m trying to change the original worldview into a formulation that is more consistent with polytheism.

I don’t think that we should accept all types of worldviews equally and uncritically, though. There are some pretty bad examples - racist, sexist, gendered - that should be called out and revised. That requires some reflective and critical thought about the games we play.

So, in my answer to the original poster: yes I impose my worldview in the games, sometimes knowingly, sometimes not. I do think critically about my worldview, though; I try to change it when something or someone shows me that it has to.
 

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