Some brilliant game designs have arrived that encourage invention at the table, which allows play with little or no prior preparation and gives players more creative input into the emergent story.
I realized today that I really miss certain elements of the old way of role-playing, of playing in worlds that were prepared by the GM or a publisher: exploration and discovery.
When you know that the whole world exists outside of your game, that it was created a priori before you decided to play in it, then you are exploring something greater than yourself and your group of friends. The feeling is akin to that of reading The Lord of The Rings for the first time; except not just experiencing it linearly, but stepping into it and turning over the rocks yourself.
Emergent play has its revelatory merits too; you explore your own creative ideas, you experience and are perhaps surprised by your friends’ contributions. Players certainly have more creative input into the action. This kind of play can be extremely rewarding, and I won’t say that one kind is better than the other.
But in extemporaneous play, I never get that sense of awe that comes with stomping around in a world that feels real and permanent and old and full of secrets.
And I miss that.
How could I design some mechanics to evoke that feeling of exploring a rich world, in a story-now game? This question just launched me into a serious brainstorming session. But I’m going to work on these thoughts a bit before sharing them. What ideas do you have?