One of the cornerstones of a good group is, in my experience, motivation.

One of the cornerstones of a good group is, in my experience, motivation.

One of the cornerstones of a good group is, in my experience, motivation. Not only player motivation, but character motivation. Far too often I’ve seen players writing elaborate backstories that completely omit what they are hoping to accomplish by risking their lives in the dungeon, and why they are doing so with the other PCs. I like how DW pushes this to the forefront, however, in doing so it also creates certain suppositions upon the game world.

When you grab a class playbook, you introduce the trappings of that class’ gimmick into the world. If someone takes the Wizard, there’s going to be magical things to see and do, for example. Some of these things can be added more easily than others though. “Magic exists” is a common trope that is taken for granted, so it’s easy to put it into the game. You want to play the Fighter? Well, now there’s monsters that need killing. Again, something that doesn’t rock the boat too much.

However, some of the more specialized classes bring with them more baggage, and this may carry with it assumptions about the game that may be harder to integrate. The Warlord that I have been working on carries with him the assumption that the world is, or at least recently was, at war. It makes a world at war part of the global backstory, and it doesn’t consult anyone else on the matter. I worry that these characters who either come with lots of baggage or who have nebulous or spotlight-hogging motivations can pull the group apart.

Just a bit of a ramble. What do you think, internet?

4 thoughts on “One of the cornerstones of a good group is, in my experience, motivation.”

  1. It’s definitely a thing. Some of the wackier playbooks have an even more dramatic effect.  Like, the fact that warlord implies a world at war isn’t that big of a deal when you compare it to the impact that an artificer, spellslinger, mummy, captain, or fae can have.  

    I don’t really think this is a bad thing, just a thing.  Overall, I’d consider it more feature than bug. But it’s a design space you need to consider when making a playbook, and it’s not an obvious one at all.  What will this playbook impose on the shared world?  How will that interact with what other playbooks impose on the world? 

    It’s that last part that’s super hard to deal with. I can design one playbook to have a significant impact on setting/tone and that’s awesome. But I can’t control the playbooks that others create, or how they’ll interact with mine.  That sort of puts each GM and/or group of players in the situation of having to exert editorial control of something that’s not entirely obvious.

    One solution is to design & release batches of playbooks together. Like with Inverse World, the playbooks all tie together to give a more-or-less cohesive whole.  I’m trying to do that with the  #Stonetop  playbooks.  But man, making playbooks is work.  Making a bunch of them even moreso.

  2. Another semi-related point: playbooks with a lot of fictional baggage are way harder to add to an existing game than most of the core classes.  I honestly think it’s pretty uncool of a player to try and introduce one of these playbooks midstream, unless it happens to line up with the existing game. 

    Like, if we’re 6 sessions into a mist-shrouded game set in a bronze-aged Gaul analog and you want to push an artificer into the mix… that’s kind of a jerk move, unless every one else is really, actually on board with it.

  3. I think that this illuminates the need to have an open dialogue, and to let go of the idea that everyone gets to pick whatever, all the time. When every playbook has the potential of introducing entirely new themes into the setting (not to mention tropes or world-changing additions), you need to recognize it as a colleborative process; nothing should be done in isolation.

    At the very least, new playbooks should be picked in collab with the GM, and preferably with the whole group so everyone can spitball ideas and veto large-scale change.

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