Settings going forward

All proposals for changes to look and feel, what is available, settings, and anything outside of the rules and regulations goes here.

Settings going forward

Postby Magi Gabriel » Sat Oct 26, 2013 3:14 pm

Hi folks,

I'm currently looking into everything that's got to be done to get the community to be as fun and engaging for everyone as possible.

One of the current issues that strikes me is our settings are mostly in the Sword and Sorcery area in that well, all the settings are.

1. Really old
2. Have changed radically or been discontinued
3. Are not in popular domain in recognizable form

The Crossroads Tavern in Greyhawk
While Greyhawk was the "core" world of DnD for most of ISRP's time it hasn't been really supported by Wizards of the Coast since 2002. Even the fan sites are running short of updates and information for people so largely this setting unlikely to do anything to make it any more engaging for current audiences in the future.

The Great Bazaar in Planescape
Much like Greyhawk, Planescape has more or less been forgotten by Wizards of the Coast, while there are still has some support is for the most part quiet with no signs of a revival.

Both these settings, while they were topical, were rich and full of depth and unique rules and freedoms. However now they are both somewhat dated it is less exciting to newcomers and unlikely to have any new changes added any time soon. That more or less locks us into a very static, very generic setting - particularly since the Setting Co-Ordinators for both these settings are no longer able to regularly visit or contribute to ISRP Online.

The Rotunda in The Forgotten Realms
With the onset of Fourth Edition, the Forgotten Realms setting got radically changed and fast forwarded many years into the future, the end result is the 3.5 Edition Forgotten is essentially in the same boat as the other two: It will no longer be supported and hence sits in a kind of limbo with less and less material becoming available as time goes on.

Gabriel's Proposal

In order to streamline the rooms and create some more potential for expanded creativity - I am proposing to remove all the current sword and sorcery settings and instead replace them with two interlinked bespoke settings which will be set out in broad terms by setting coordinator(s) and further material expanded upon by the community with direction and editing a setting coordinator responsibility. Always felt that there should a really cool library outside the tavern? A dark part in the forest that the peasants say contains a portal to another world? Propose it to the setting-coordinator.

The reason for two interlinked settings being so that we can maintain the one room for "low" fantasy characters (such as CRT does now) but that particular tavern will contain a "members only" door that most folks magically ignore, which connects to another setting which will be essentially unlimited fantasy (portal to another world, pocket dimension, a 'between worlds world', etc).

The main reasons these settings would be created from scratch are:
  • The only settings we have permission to keep using from Wizards of the Coast are the above settings that are no longer in use.
  • As Forgotten Realms demonstrates, when you use someone else's setting you run the risk of them doing something that makes it incompatible.
  • Linking to official products and settings puts pressure on users to keep up to date with the settings by buying products.
  • We have a community of people who like writing and creating, people build their own settings and want to share - this way it allows for people to share and put their mark on the setting that they come to over and over.
  • Means that settings can always be easily adjusted and expanded on as the need comes up in future without concerns about confusion between what is canon and what is special.

The modern fantasy setting (The Meeting Place) appears to be fine at the moment, though Brigid tells me that their may be some re-decorations (though I'm assured that a salad bar is probably NOT on the list of potential changes).

So, I would like to open this thread as a formal invite for any and all feedback, criticism and ideas.
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Re: Settings going forward

Postby Nox » Sun Oct 27, 2013 1:30 am

Well, it's late at night and my brain is only working at 60% so you won't get any creativity or to-the-point criticism from me right now, but I just want to say that I personally love the idea. What I would suggest though is that being such a major change maybe this thread should be linked at the page where we log in to play, since I'm not sure how many actual players take the time to check the forums.

I'll edit this post later if I can come up with anything interesting.
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Re: Settings going forward

Postby Faerieanel.andOTHERS » Sun Oct 27, 2013 1:32 pm

I think I like the proposals for the most part...although what about the garden? I think many enjoy the garden. I am usually a huge fan of creating my own setting but the only thing I don't like about doing that is having to re-explain the details each time I do. I think the modern setting should have a pool hall.
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Re: Settings going forward

Postby Brigid » Sun Oct 27, 2013 9:23 pm

I'll take the pool tables suggestion under advisement. I'm mostly thinking about getting rid of the dance floor and making the Meeting Place more than just a nighttime place to hang out, so I'm absolutely open to suggestions from the community in that regard.

I felt like keeping the modern setting in Manhattan worked best for everyone involved, since most of the characters that play there are established in the New York area and have their own ongoing stories and networks. It didn't seem like a good idea to suddenly uproot the setting to, say, 2040s Chicago or 2060s Seattle or LA or anything like that.
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Re: Settings going forward

Postby KC Omega » Mon Nov 04, 2013 12:32 pm

Working title, but should definitely be something that has to do with mirrors and/or prisms and their myriad reflections, refractions, and so on.

Our esteemed benefactor and savior Mr Gabe suggested access to low-magic settings, high-magic settings, and so on, which I readily concur with. The following proposition will also take in the spirit of Sigil (which I have long loved, as an old-time Planescape fan), and its purpose as a multi planar nexus-point.

I propose a Keep at the center of a setting that could have plains, forests, etc. around it, This Keep, too, would be at or near the center of such a inter-planar nexus, this nexus being one which is said to reflect/refract all the possibilities of the cosmos. Thus, this would be, essentially, a nexus between parallel worlds. Our characters can venture forth from/near this keep via portals in a broad sense — could be Gateways, could be tunnels, could be big-ass venus flytraps that spit us out like huge watermelon seeds, whatever. This time I think we can be a bit more broad with how we define the transition points. Regardless, our people come out into whichever specific settings replace CRT, Rotunda, Bazaar, heck, even the Meeting Place could branch off, here.
The locales the ‘rooms’ are id-placed in could still vary in size, such as the CRT being in a rural village, the Rotunda being in a major pseudo-medieval city, the Meeting Place being in a modern metropolis, etc. And, to better fit tMP, especially, the Keep itself could look a bit different depending on the specific setting-room. The Keep here could a skyscraper in Manhattan, while more old-school keeps in the more old-school settings.

Now, as the Bazaar was in Sigil itself, its replacing room could be somewhere actually within the Keep, but perhaps even within the Nexus-maze itself, and so I still think some sort of “inter dimensional market” would still suffice. The challenge would be ensuring it it doesn’t resemble Sigil too much. How about something non-Euclidian, or like in that one famous painting, which title I am blanking on. As I am using mirrors and/or prisms as a motif, and this nexus itself can also be maze-like, I'd say this bizarre bazaar could, as you turn down different paths, alleys, streets, whatever, you could just, in the blink of an eye, find yourself in different spots, as well as different levels of magic vs tech vs timeframe, etc. This could technically allow for temporal displacement events, though we'd all have to be careful with the pesky and messy prospect of temporal paradox, interference in the past/future, etc.
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Re: Settings going forward

Postby Nox » Mon Nov 04, 2013 2:41 pm

I've re-read and I still don't think I quite understand the concept of the Keep. If it's only part of each setting in name only (since if the CRT was in a rural village, the role-playing would happen in the tavern/village/whatever and not the Keep itself) why include it anyway? I'm not saying it's bad, I'm saying that if I got it right, it seems sort of unnecessary, and unnecessary complex as well. I like the idea of this Keep not as a background for all settings but as a setting on itself, though. The Keep in its entirety (rather than a single room) with its magical nexus and vague portals strikes me as a perfect High-Magic all-goes hub. It could be like an abandoned place, brought back to life by creatures of all worlds and planes who just happened to gather there and set up shop. Non-euclidian thingies and timey-wobbly stuff are great.

I personally think the rooms could be a little more vague, rather than specific, in description, layout and purpose. I have a bit of a problem imagining why would half of my characters would waste their day every day drinking in a bar. Maybe if instead of the bar, it was a whole town or a part of it, things could be different, and there'd be plenty more excuses to run into each other (or avoid, I guess) without it seeming forced. I think we could have this arrangement: one low magic fantasy room, i.e. the town/village/whatever (restricted); one high magic fantasy room, such as this Keep (unrestricted), one modern room such as TMP (restricted), and then one modern fantasy room, such as Izzy's Knickers, which for those who havent' entered is in a modern setting yet openly states that vampires and demonlings go and have a drink there (unrestricted).

We're not as many people as we used to be and I don't think we're getting loads of newbies either. Less rooms could help make things more streamlined and gather more people in a single place, while keeping them vague would allow for the freedom that having many rooms provides: you don't need the Crossroads Tavern and the Garden being separate, linked rooms when you can have just one called "The Crossroads Tavern & Garden." If people really want seclusion, well, that's what you can make private rooms for. With the new 'adult' scope of the site, moderation shouldn't need that much enforcement either, but I don't know much about that anyway.

I think there's two ways to go: either we try to make it a living, detailed settings - which, while it sounds cool, I'm not sure if it's practical anymore - it's not even related to how many people there is, but how much of their time and creativity they can/will compromise on it. Or you streamline the current vagueness and turn the "white noise" (someone else's words, pretty accurate thoguh) into a white canvas, so whoever feels like painting can do so without having the continuity fly constantly buzzing on their ears. a private room.
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Re: Settings going forward

Postby Jessybel » Tue Nov 05, 2013 12:49 am

Wellll I've been meaning to sit down and post on this thing for a while now. So excuse my tardiness - I've been preparing to pack up and move house so IRL has been all over the place when all I really want to do is sit here and brainstorm.

Setting specifics and world-building aside, it seems we have a fundamental concept here regarding how the settings are to be organized:

We want two separate genres; Fantasy and Modern.
We want two separate power levels; Restricted and Unrestricted.

That immediately gives us four different rooms off the bat, but it appears we are struggling with a fairly small player base that for the most part, moves room depending on which one is more popular. So I am certainly for the idea of condensing. (I.e CRT and garden being one room).

Since it looks like we are going homebrew, do we really need restricted and unrestricted settings? The CRT is a restricted setting with a detailed structure to it, yet we see "friendly Drow" show up for drinks all the time and no one ever thinks to kill them (Oerthian Drow are EEVIL) - so why not skip out on the power-level or restriction settings and go completely free-for all? In a place where characters are designed to come together, it makes sense that characters of all walks of life, ages, races would end up in this mystical spot.. for some reason. I don't see why it needs to be split between mundane and fantastical when "normal" characters (or even unnatural ones) can just branch off to a private room and play by themselves if they want. And they will, as the beauty in this site is the ability to create private rooms. After the WotC shutdown everyone SCREAMED for an unrestricted setting, so why not just run with it?

Just as an aside: I am not proposing the mixing of the genres. I'm not keen on the idea of fantasy and modern mixing in one place. Unless we want to go steampunk, and that's not my thang.

On the setting itself:

In this lull since the EnWorld shutdown I did explore some other sites; some had built huge expansive worlds and detailed histories and had many towns and cities and farms.... ..and I inevitably found myself bored and uninvolved in a setting that I did not help create. It had so much going on I could not relate to it.

My point here, is that whichever way we go I also feel it needs to be vague enough to appeal to the masses, and yet needs enough detail elements thrown in that it comes to life at the same time. A cozy tavern for weary travelers (CRT idea) has always been the most popular room because it invokes an image that is relatable in so many ways and to SO many different character archetypes. Therefore it's easy to feel at home in that setting. HOWEVER, for true roleplaying, world building and story telling I think we would need to expand to a bigger setting as there is only so much fun to be had roleplaying a character that has gone out to get smashed. Also I am so sick of playing my characters, and watching other characters sip tea.

A small city, an outpost, or an interdimensional crossing of some sort would give us enough of a place where people could feel at home, and yet a way for us to tell our own tales. Something broad has the ability to create pockets of character, such as a tavern setting. However I feel that it HAS to be a setting where new characters could potentially show up A LOT, for it to really work.

Some pitch ideas:

A sigil/Juxtaposition type setting:

The City of the Lost: A world that exists in an inter dimensional space, or somewhere in between the layers of the mortals and the gods. Characters are sent here through portals, or rifts in time that deposit them in this place. Once here you are unable to leave without great effort. (Or paying the right magician a high price). The world is composed of a small city/keep/(whatever) that has been erected by beings that have been unintentionally transported here, that have suddenly found themselves stuck and decided to settle. Some characters might want to stay and forge new lives, some might be pissed and spend their entire lives trying to find a way out.

A mystical crossroads:

A grand-central station type place. Consider this building a small maze, or crossroads where magical paths intersect; a place where plane-shifters and portal-goers have to pass through to get to their final destination. Think of a busy subway station or central train-hub where the weird and unusual can be found sipping coffee, or mingling wherever. There could be a military guard here, an inn of some sort, and food places or markets. Gods or powerful immortals keep watch over the magical gateways, opening and closing them on a tight-knit schedule, and beings must leave on time or be stuck there for hours, (or days) before a portal is re opened to their destination. Should they try to remain on the plane but find their way out of the physical compound, characters may find themselves lost between the cracks of reality and instead find themselves adventuring into the rift.

A lower fantasy setting:

A strange town or keep on the outskirts of some coastline/mountain/whatever terrain. Hundreds of years ago this place was destroyed by a cataclysmic magical event that razed the city to the ground. Since then, the city has been rebuilt (mostly), but strange things have continued to happen and strange creatures have a tendency to show up unannounced and un-summoned. The barrier that separates magic and mundane is thin here, and many things pass through, some good, some bad. The city has since become a mecca for those wishing to study the magical arts and for sorcerers wishing to tap into the immense magical presence found here. It is a safe haven for the weird and unusual, (as unusual is usual) and for those that cannot find a place elsewhere in the world. Local travelers regard the place with suspicion, but agree that it is a lucrative place to sell wares or to buy favours, or to find easy dimensional travel. Again, prospects for things such as a city guard, a magical school or society, and the mixing of normal, powerful, evil and good creatures.

And I seem to be creatively tapped out when it comes to modern settings. Perhaps a post for another day...
Adventure may hurt you, but monotony will kill you.
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Re: Settings going forward

Postby Magi Gabriel » Sat Nov 09, 2013 7:44 am

Alright, that'll learn me for having busy days in real life. Thank you for all the responses, please accept this generalised reponse for now.

The modern fantasy setting isn't really looking at getting revised at the moment simply because well, there doesn't seem to be a great demand for it. Pretty much the majority of popular modern fantasy tends to promote the idea of a "secret world" that remains hidden from our own so it all defaults to variations of the "low fantasy" style. So far it's going along fine, and due to the nature of it it'd be difficult to propose any sort of transition that wouldn't create in character mayhem. It was also never part of any "setting" per se beyond "generic D20 modern set a few years in the future". Izzy's Knickers is actually a room I made for a friend running an alternative universe, unconnected to ISRP responsibilities (and to the best of my knowledge nobody uses it).

The Sword and Sorcery setting we still get requests to monitor the restrictions, so unless I get an overwhelming feedback otherwise I am going to assume that we need at least one restricted setting and one unrestricted. I am not currently aware of anyone who is too heavily invested in the current settings or too many characters who couldn't make a transition (especially if BG comes along, which he will).

Will run the suggestions for the low and high fantasy settings by Nashira and discuss which seems most workable for the purposes, we'll be looking at factors like practicality to new players, expanding it without being overly controlling, dealing with characters coming and going, etc. One of us will update with a more specific proposal for review hopefully this weekend.
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Re: Settings going forward

Postby Magi Nashira » Mon Nov 11, 2013 3:58 pm

Busy days. I'm a workaholic. I like the idea of a nexus point, though not the idea of using "Nexus" as a room name, too close I think to Juxta.

How about something like Convergence for our non-restricted fantasy setting? (I know, big word.)
For a lower setting, how about a city, a shipping port which is a natural place for people of all walks to be in. We're looking for generic names though, not anything like Waterdeep. We want to lean away from D&D world/place type names.
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Re: Settings going forward

Postby Kymba » Thu Nov 14, 2013 1:24 am

Personally, I don't think there should be a restricted fantasy setting. I think I understand the purpose of it, but it's frustrating when you don't want to play a humanoid character, but have no one to play with because they're all in the restricted setting. Though it has changed in the many years i've been here, the trend has definitely been to hang out in the Tavern or the Garden. While this is fine if you play a humanoid character, it's no fun when you want to play something else. I feel like it ultimately discourages having different types of characters because you end up with no one to play with. The other site I RP on is a Zelda-based roleplay, and we don't have any restrictions on settings, but it still works fine. But maybe that's because we can only choose from established races.... Even still, I feel like it's kind of unnecessary. One of the things I've always loved about this site was that we could play just about anything; but that freedom is absolutely useless if we don't get to play.
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