World Building Questionnaire

Typically when starting up a new tabletop RPG campaign, my workflow would usually be to create and introduce a setting, explain where the starting off point is, and then do character creation. Once my players had their characters prepared, I would ask them questions such as “Who was your wizardry mentor?” and “What was your character’s hobby as a child?”. While I use this to fish for plot hooks, the biggest reason I do this is to give players prompts to help them sketch out their backstory and personality beyond the character sheets.

From then on I would start formulating a campaign route such that it facilitates character development. Character’s parent’s were killed by goblins? Create a story arc that brings more nuance to the goblins and see where that player goes from there. I really like to see characters develop in personality and morals, and it’s why I’m not a fan of pre-written campaign modules as the main plot is nowhere near as integrated. If you’re the sort that tend to stick to modules, give this a go. It’s great fun.

Anyways, I’m currently starting up a new campaign and I decided to experiment a bit. The very first thing I did was hand the players a questionnaire sheet. It had two paragraphs that explained the bare minimum I could for the premise of the game. Then I dove straight into asking questions. I think it’s risky because at this point the world is a blank canvas with zero thematic consistency – and I just handed the brush temporarily to six players.

But at the same time this allows me to build the world around the player’s backstory rather than the other way around. When it is a world the players had a part in creating, the players create an investment in the world right from the start, rather than asking them to accept it over time.

It does have the risk of the Chekov’s Gun problem whereby players start to think every single detail is significant, and I may have to bring in veto powers as a GM to make sure the world isn’t too wild.

Let’s see how it goes.

TwoSnakes

Preview

I have been working on a game on Godot for a while now but with the slow progress I decided to work on something simpler first, so I implemented Snake last weekend. However to make things a little more fun I made it into a race between two players and after some tweaks made TwoSnakes.

The left side player uses WASD (or ZQSD) while the right side player uses the arrow keys. Space bar starts the game. To win a round the player has to survive with the most food collected. There is no snake-to-snake collision (that’d make the game more like Tron) but the game does speed up as time passes each round.

You can find the source code and releases here on GitHub.

BSPViewer Updated

Screenshot

While I was dusting off my old projects I noticed that one of them – BSPViewer – was not compiling anymore. It was written five years ago and was using Qt4. I decided for prosperity sake to spend the weekend freshening it up by porting it to SFML. I got most of it working and the only issue I had was trying to determine if a texture was meant to be transparent or not. One nice new feature is that it can now load data directly from a Quake 3 installation without unpacking anything, using the PhysicsFS library.

Interestingly, back then the main motivation of this program was that I wanted to develop a game that uses a map format featuring a good map editor. Unfortunately I found out that most of those tools were rather Quake 3 specific and I hadn’t touched it since.

Still, with these changes it should now be a lot less faff to compile and use. Feel free to check it out here: https://github.com/leezh/bspviewer.