Story (Part 2)

Last week I outlined some thoughts on how I started framing the story of Delve. I wanted something robust enough where everyone felt their game was a part of the story while sidestepping some of the problems that other games had with settings.

At the beginning of every game setting is everything is full of promise. With little more than proper names being thrown around, the framework of a setting’s first published offering is full of mystery and promise. It often makes the storyteller–the game master–drool with the delight of possibility. Eventually, setting material sees release, designers and developers shape it in the way their imagination sees it, and the boundaries become more defined and ridged. Soon, that open space of promise becomes cluttered with other people’s ideas. Canon occurs.

Canon. It’s an apt term stolen from religion and hoisted upon fantasy and fandom. I really dislike canon, but understand the pull toward its gravity. For some, it makes the world more “real,” or instead, it gives the illusion of reality. New game masters and that class of game masters who put their hard work in the creation of weekly adventures, can latch on to a setting for guidance. While those who enjoy reading about other places on the lands on the map, dreaming up possible later campaign ideas that may or may not hear the rattle of dice down the road, can still have their fun. I do want to provide such things in Delve those who want it. I also want the game to be free enough where folks don’t think they are somehow playing it wrong because they don’t follow the published setting material. As a designer, I also wanted to give myself the freedom to follow my whims of creativity and to allow other GMs and third-party publishers to do the same.

My solution is the multiverse. Now, the multiverse is nothing new. There is a theory in science that theorizes multiple universes. But I’m not thinking anything so lofty and mathematical based. The multiverse of Delve is something more akin to the strange and massive realities of Micheal Moorcock–a vastness sometimes normal, and other times very bizarre. Something filled with competing powers, connected but always conflicting; vast but still connected. There are details and assumption at the top level, but anything can and will go the more you focus the glass.

Story 2

A fragment reportedly from the Codex Jaburai, where the Savant-Sage Jabura illustrates his vision of the various parts of the multiverse swirling toward the devouring oblivion of the Void.

Within the multiverse, there are the worlds. Worlds are confluences of elements, energy, resources, and cultures, each swimming in a void of seeming nothingness, but connected to each other by underlying realities–like the Fiefs of Fairie, the shadowy marches of Duonela, and Elemental Planes–and connected by magic to those areas beyond the void–the Astral Expanse-the home of angels, fiends, Old Ones, many of the gods, and the strange citadels of Tyrants of Undeath, and most importantly–the Vold. We will get to the Vold later.  And this vastness spins around the Void or the Abyss–the brilliant darkness that slowly devours all. 

Of course, all of these various places of the multiverse have different names created by different cultures. This gives enough room to tweak the story for your own play and narrative style. Having this top-down approach provides space for you and for me to tell whatever story you want. All within a vast mystic multiverse while allowing me to design with some general assumptions about how things piece together.

All that said, The connections between your world and the various parts can be powerful, or they can be weak. There are undoubtedly sections of the multiverse that don’t touch the others at all. In the end, the Delve multiverse is just a very massive sandbox that we can all inhabit. this allows some groups to build massive sandcastles of fantasy while allowing others to dig trenches and keep their own modest fortifications separate and special

Housekeeping

It’s Friday! And while you’re waiting to flee your workplace and maybe enjoy an adult beverage or two, a new Friday Sneak Peek has gone up over at the Delve RPG Patreon. This week I was a special guest on the Bend the Knee blog. There, I described a magic item that I have used in various campaigns and almost saw publication in the D&D 4e book, Adventurer’s Vault 2. In that blog, I said that it will finally see the light of print in Delve. This week’s sneak peek is that item—the adventurers’ vault.

If you’re not a backer, though, you will have to wait a week to see it. Lurkers and Delvers get to view the sneak peeks a week earlier than everyone else. But don’t fret. Last week’s sneak peek, the lightning lash spell, is now open for everyone to take a look at. You can head over to the Patreon and check that out, and come back next week to see the adventurers’ vault. Or you can pitch in and see it early. Just say’n.

Also, next week, I’m taking a break from the blog. Well, at least sort of taking a break. I’m working currently writing my next blog, Tactics (Part 1), which examines some of the tactical rules for Delve. My Patreon Delvers get to see that blog a week early on the Patreon site. A week later, I’ll post it here, likely sometime around the launch of Gen Con and Pathfinder 2nd Edition. But there will still be a new Friday Sneak Peak over at the Patreon site next week.

So talk to you kids in a couple of weeks, unless you are a Delver. Then, I’ll be talking to you much sooner.

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About neogrognard

Stephen began working on RPGs in 2000, when he became the RPGA editorial assistant at Wizards of the Coast, working on both Polyhedron magazine and Living Greyhawk Journal. Over the years he's administered the Living Greyhawk campaign, aided in the development of the D&D 3.5 Edition rules, was a developer for D&D 4th Edition and Star Wars Saga Edition, taught numerous game design classes in the Seattle area, and contributed to the Pathfinder RPG Advanced Player's Guide and Ultimate Magic as a freelance designer. He worked at Paizo for nearly nine years as a designer and then senior designer for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. He's also the guy who designs the Pathfinder Flip-Mats, Flip-Tiles, and Map Packs. His current credits include Southlands for Kobold Press, as well as Hell’s Vengeance: For Queen & Empire, Horror Adventures,  Villain Codex, and Ultimate Intrigue, Ultimate Wilderness, Pathfinder Playtest, and Pathfinder Second Edition all for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. He was also on the initial design team for the Starfinder Roleplaying Game and wrote Dead Suns: The Thirteenth Gate adventure for that game. He served as the senior designer for the Pathfinder Playtest and the Pathfinder Second Edition Roleplaying Game. Currently, Stephen is a freelance game designer, content writer, and consultant working with various companies when he is not spending time with his family, wrangling kittens, and working on Delve. Delve is a culmination of Stephen's ideas about tabletop roleplaying games over the past 19 years. It's a new look at d20-resolution systems and traditional fantasy roleplaying game design and tropes through the lens of more modern modes of game design. And Stephen sincerely hopes you enjoy playing it because that's the point.
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