Worlds within Worlds


Wiqd made a very interesting post yesterday, Choose your own Adventure, which essentially discusses the possibility of “modular”-type worlds of different genres and playing systems all somehow held together by a common core — a sort of MMO-Metaplace, or a Metaplace with more 3D gaming I guess!

I don’t have as much time to delve into the whole concept as I’d like, but I wanted to make a placeholder-type post and link to Wiqd’s article in case some of the people who read this don’t also follow his stuff.

It’s so rife with possibilities (and pitfalls, and — I’m sure — hellish design problems) that I barely know where to start imagining what this could be and do, and it seems that the various commenters on Wiqd’s post so far all have slightly different visions of it too — which, treated the right way, is a benefit rather than a problem.

The first thing the many-worlds-in-one idea made me think of was that I might actually, finally, be able to play the same game with my myriad online gaming buddies, even if we’re not always in the same world. The thing is, if I was playing FantasyRealm03 and they were in SciFiUniverse01, I could go and visit them with the same char … or at least, with some variant on the same base persona.

Which is where things get complicated, of course. I’m not sure whether I would want to have ONE avatar that got modified depending on where I went, or whether I’d rather have a set of sub-avatars that were based on the central one but weren’t identical — a set of world-specific clones, I guess you could call it. One of the things that interests me about this is the idea that somehow (depending on design), *I* would be readily identifiable as me wherever I was playing. (Sure, I have my hermit moments like anyone else, but a system can accommodate both sociability and anonymity — it’s not rocket science.)

I’m also not sure whether I would want one central game system or lots of smaller separate ones. On balance, what I’d probably prefer would be a common base system with tweaks — house rules, so to speak — depending on what world you’re playing in. That way, picking up new worlds/systems wouldn’t be an entirely new process each time, and you could switch between worlds without having to spend time trying to remember what system that world used.  Back when I played a lot more PnP than I do now, I ended up adapting the skill-based, level-less system the Ars Magica game uses to several different backgrounds, not all of them standard fantasy: one of them was based on C J Cherryh’s “Merovingen” stories and a couple were straight-up science fiction. (They didn’t last long, but the point was that the system was quite easily adaptable to several different kinds of genres.)

It would no doubt be difficult to design, and I’m sure people will come up with a million reasons why it can’t be or shouldn’t be done, but the idea was immediately appealing to me. I’ll return to it when I’ve a little more pondering time available.