Thursday, August 24, 2006

On Gamesmastering and World Weaving

There is a distinction I would like to make between Gamesmastering and World Weaving. How one would Gamesmaster a scene happens to be based on a set of skills that are completely different than what it takes to World Weave one. I am thinking that this distinction has not been discussed yet and so I’d like to take a moment to bring the topic to light. I will start with World Weaving.

First, a clear definition of World Weaving would be the right place to start, so here it goes. World Weaving is the act of creating the background material for an RPG World, and it is very much like authoring a fictional story. It can, and usually does, incorporate historical backdrop, sociology, economics, politics and principal characters of the story and how they relate to one another and what their position in the World is. What skills go into World Weaving? Well, principally the same ones that go into story writing. An understanding of the above topics is a good place to start. It also requires creativity and probably good writing skills. I’m not sure what else, but that’s a good summary of the basics.

Gamesmastering, on the other hand, is a different thing all together and has to do with all of the activities that go toward running an RPG. A Gamesmaster need not be a World Weaver as he can use someone else’s World, such as the modules put out by TSR which comprised someone else’s World Weaving. But Gamesmastering is certainly an art unto itself. What skills are required? Well again, creativity is required, but of a different sort. In this case improvisational acting and a sense of plot development are good skills to have. A thorough understanding of the rules and the ability to manage a group of people with potentially conflicting interests, objectives, desires and personalities through the game experience. That can be more challenging than it sounds. Keeping a RPG going over a period of time is in and of itself a major achievement that many people do not manage to achieve. The ability to adjudicate is also a required skill of Gamesmastering that is not one required for World Weaving.

In other words, Gamesmastering and World Weaving are two separate things, requiring different sets of Skills, and it is possible, and not uncommon, that a person can be quite good at one, but not so good at the other. The LRPGSW is focused on World Weaving. RPG-Create, I sense, is focused more on Gamesmastering. Where the recognition of this distinction leads, I’m not entirely sure, but I thought I would mention it in case it gives anyone further food for thought in their endeavors, or helps to bring any issues or conundrums into a better light.
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