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Collaborative World Building
Ever since being exposed to the concept, I’ve liked the idea of a building a role-playing setting collaboratively *. The idea is that the world is created by the players just as much as they are the creators of their characters. Different aspects of the world would be of particular interest to different players, and players would be able to create broad outlines and deep detail about the subjects they like, as they see fit. Even the overall world and framework that these aspects fit into would be defined by the group as a whole, as each person works to fill in the so-called blank spaces on the map.

By working together on areas, coordinating their ideas about cultures, races, ecology, economy, theology, metaphysics, magic, and so on, a cohesive world will, in theory, emerge. Quite properly, different players will contribute more to those aspects they are more interested in. In this way, each player will become an “expert” in different areas, allowing the other players to ask them for details when working on their own sections. For instance, in a traditional fantasy world, one or two players might be the experts on the particular variety of elves. When another player is working on the details of a large metropolis that they think should have an elven presence, they can ask the “elf experts” about salient details.

As I said, I like the idea, but putting it into practice is harder. Any of you like the idea of building something like this? I have some ideas about how to do it rather elegantly online, but I don’t have enough interest in the technical details to make it happen without other people’s enthusiasm.

* This article, though lovely, is unfortunately out-of-date. For links to the essays that those broken links used to point to, see

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I like the idea of world building, but I haven't played a single game in damn near a decade.

Well, my ideas for world-building are the elegant ones. Actually playing a game online is a different beast altogether. All I'm interested in right now is the building part. Is that a (tentative) yes, then?

There are non-traditional ways of doing collaborative role-play online (as opposed to just the world-building), but I have no experience with them. They're interesting, but, well, one experiment at a time, right? Depending on what comes out of a project like this, looking at asynchronous online collaborative role-play might be interesting.

I'm all for the building part, love that sort of thing.

On an unrelated note did you get the bits of writin I sent? I tried it a few nights ago but our connection was acting funny

I did, but I haven't gotten around to opening it yet what with all the other reading I'm (supposed to be) doing for classes.

But I've got it, and look forward to some stolen time to read through it.

I've never gamed. But I find worldbuilding fascinating. Count me in.

Excellent... Check my latest entry for details on the setup I've got running.

I did this, kinda, with one of my groups. It worked so well that when I got tired of running the game, I handed the reins over to one of my players and started playing my GMPC as a player. I've been thinking about doing some world building again soon. I have the itch to work on something like that...

The more the merrier. It's that very itch that got me thinking along these lines again... I like world-building, but I don't have the individual momentum to keep it up long enough to produce anything of depth. There's just something about a project that exists even when you're away that makes you want to keep coming back to it...

Worldbuilding? Heck yeah! It's where I excel. Less so in the maintenance. ;P

Well this is a perfect fit, then! It's all creation, zero maintenance...

And yes, I empathise emphatically. I created a whole star system, ecology, economy, world corporation, and governmental philosophy on a particular MUSH once, but I just didn't have the drive to make it live. Ego-satisfyingly, though, when I left that MUSH someone saw my built areas, loved the ideas, and asked if they could take them over.

That's what Otherspace and Chiaroscuro are, actually. Or rather, that's the way they work.

Yeah, I was thinking about that... Except, imagine that you didn't need to get your setting docs approved or even emailed to anyone in particular to get them up on the site. And then imagine that everyone else can come along and add to them at any time.

Well, among the staffers, there's no one to approve anything - and we've got an in-game way of putting things up now. So it's pretty much just the select staffer group, yes, but there's that 'you're the expert on this, I'll consult you, we all play fair and are equal' feel among us.

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