In the first post on the topic of “Why TSG is what it is” was on community. In that post I was talking about the ultimate goal of the Twilight Sector. We want to create a community of people around the Twilight Sector setting. In this post I want to talk a little about what we’ve learned and some of the challenges that our goal brings with it.
Our philosophy has always been clearly on display in our motto, “Because the Campaigns the Thing”. Our product is a setting not a rules system. But why do rules systems those uncharismatic, staid and frankly boring things so dominate the RPG landscape. For anyone but rules lawyers I’ve been puzzling over that question for a long time and I think at least part of the answer may be the topic of the first post, Community. Rules systems unite players. They provide a common theme that all of those who use those rules can rally around.
“Oh you play D&D! I do to. What kind of a game do you play in? Is it high fantasy, low magic, story driven or rules heavy?”
All of those things mentioned are wildly different from one another but still the high fantasy player and the low magic one have something in common the D&D rules set. So metaphorically speaking one is from the east coast and the other the west coast but they still speak the same language. Settings have been able to foster this same sense of community. Lets take the three examples I mentioned in the first post, Star Wars, Middle Earth and the Forgotten Realms. There is no denying that they have fan bases every bit as loyal and connected as any rules system. What sets them apart and makes them in my opinion so much bigger than a set of RPG rules can ever be? The answer I believe is that they can be enjoyed on a number of levels.
Each started out in a different incubator. Lets take the one that started out as an RPG setting though and examine it. Forgotten Realms is a setting written for the D&D rules system. How could it possibly be greater than the rules system it’s written for? Well besides RPG players it’s enjoyed by computer game fans, fiction fans and should have been the subject of D&Ds attempt to branch out into cinema.
That in a nutshell is why Terra/Sol Games has chosen to build a setting instead of a rules system. Well that and the fact that rules systems bore me to tears where as settings I find infinately fascinating.
That being said how do you create a setting with legs? That’s the trick isn’t it. Organized play might be a way, the obvious one is putting out superior products and putting them out often enough that players can be begin to trust that your setting will be supported and around for the long haul. Others would include products in multiple mediums like books, comics or computer games. I think that an audience needs something that they can rally around and keeps them energized and to that end I think we’ve hit on a very unique solution. That we will discuss in the next post on this topic!