Setting Design Jumpstart, from Tony L-B, who take Aria: Worlds and does it in a much more useable format.
I’m going to list the questions he suggested you answer about a nascent Game Setting down below the cut, but I think what I might do with it first is use it on the “Petrana” setting that I’m using for the Shadow of Yesterday Steampunk game we’re starting in January… maybe as a collaborative Wiki effort with me and the players.
In any case, it’s a very useful tool for world building.
The Setting Design Jumpstart:
1. What were the key watershed events in the past of your Setting’s fictional history?
2. Why were they significant?
3. How do theses past events directly affect the Present of your Setting and its people? How do they affect the Future?
1. What are the significant land features or man-made structures of your Setting?
2. How do or how can these features be used by the players during the game to help them play?
3. How do these structures or features affect the Inhabitants and Dynamic Forces of your Setting?
1. What/Where are the seats of power in your Setting?
2. How is that power used, delegated, and organized by the people of your Setting?
3. How does authority (those with power) affect the average person?
4. What threats exist to that authority?
1. What is the plight of the common Inhabitant in your Setting?
2. How do those with Authority relate to those without it?
3. What are the significant needs and dangers the Inhabitants face?
4. Is society trying to achieve a particular goal? If so, what is it?
5. How can players and their characters use and be affected by the Social Situation during play?
1. Do the Inhabitants have a creation belief? If so, what is it? If not, why not?
2. To what extent are Faith or Belief in the supernatural a part of the average life in your Setting? What about the PCs’ lives?
3. How active are Supernatural Forces or divine powers in your Setting?
4. How have myth and religion affected History?
1. Describe the technological advancement society has made in your Setting?
2. Is there magic/psionics/super powers in your Setting? If so, are they a tool to be used, a force to be feared, or something else entirely?
3. How have technology and mystical powers affected History?
4. How do they affect daily life for a common person in your Setting?
1. What parts of your Setting might be confusing or too abstract for a reader?
2. What types of graphic organizers (maps, charts, cards, graphs, illustrations, diagrams, etc) can you add to help give the reader/player a better understanding of the Setting you created?
3. Where can the items mentioned above be used to add color, interest, and emphasis in your Setting?
1. What are the main groups of peoples (or other living things) exist in your Setting (including the supernatural/divine)?
2. How do all these different groups interact with each other?
3. How did those groups get to be the way they are in your Setting?
4. What makes each group special or interesting?
5. What sorts of beliefs, customs, resources, and powers should the players know about with respect to each group? Which parts about their culture can you leave out?
-Where the PCs Fit In
1. Are the PCs part of any group covered in the Inhabitants Aspect? Is so, which ones? Ifnot, why?
2. How do people outside the PC’s group view people like the PCs? How do people in the PC’s group view themselves?
3. What have people like the PC’s achieved in the past? What might they achieve in the future?
4. How do the PCs relate to the Social Situation?
1. From all the other Aspects of Setting, what/which might directly oppose the PCs? Which might directly aid them?
2. From all the other Aspects of Setting, what/which might indirectly oppose the PCs? Which might indirectly aid them?
3. How do the common people (or other) of your Setting view these Dynamic Forces?
4. How have these Dynamic Forces affected History (or other Aspects)?
5. What tools do you give the PCs to help them use these Dynamic Forces during play?
1. What can the PCs permanently change in your Setting? Why?
2. What can they not permanently change in your Setting? Why?
3. Is there something you want them to focus on changing? What and why?
4. How will any change made by the PCs affect the Setting as a whole?
Hmm… maybe I’ll just start answering the questions in the comments… Hmm.
Oh yeah… I still have a couple storyball stories to finish.