Spaces often mirror the ruler of that space’s personality. A bright and tidy house might reflect a cheerful, self-controlled homeowner. An office space filled with trash might reflect someone depressed with their job. Expanding outwards, a company might reflect the CEO, or a city might reflect the Mayor. This simple concept can be used when defining spaces within your game.
This is the Ruler’s Realm tutorial to make a setting agnostic realm using that concept and UNE.
Step 1. Define the setting of the realm.
The first step is to make rough cuts in the setting and importance of the realm with regards to the game. The realm can be something as small as a 4-seat noodle shop or as big as a country. The key factor is that someone controls the realm.
Why does this realm need to be described? Perhaps the players are traveling through a kingdom. Perhaps the players are heading to a new nightclub. Perhaps it’s as simple as the players have hired a ship to take them abroad.
For this tutorial, I am going to go with a goblin camp in Dungeons & Dragons. To keep it simple, my imaginary party of heroes needs a McGuffin in the goblin camp.
Step 2. Create the ruler of the realm using UNE.
Take care with Step 0 of UNE. The realm’s ruler will have a few pre-defining facts. Those facts will likely be more important than the flavorings that UNE provides.
Step 0: Goblin chieftain
Steps 1-4: Plebeian tradesman who communicates dissonance, oppresses valor, and guides the public.
Step 3. Determine how the ruler’s description affects the realm.
The goblin chieftain is new to commerce, but clearly is setting that way. I would say that the camp is filled with trade goods that the goblins have “acquired”. Given that the goblin chieftain “communicates dissonance” and probably rules by strength over chaos, the trade good are haphazardly piled and organized, if at all. The camp is dingy, and any metallic goods have acquired a dirty film because there is no valor to be found here.
The goblin’s chieftain’s personality also extends to the goblin mooks. They are unruly, brutish, and seem to have no order about them unless their chieftain commands it through general orders. They treat the trade goods like a pile of rubbish that might one day have some value.
Notes. Depending on the situation of the game, nothing beyond the description of the realm may ever come up. The realm’s ruler is not a Chekhov’s Gun now, but it is an explanation as to why the realm exists in such a state if the players ever seek to dig a little deeper in the realm. Think of it as foreshadowing and taking making the realm a bit narrower in scope.
With the goblin camp example, I now know how to respond with reason to a variety of player actions. It might all be fluff, but now it is guided fluff. I can also pepper the player’s actions with small bits of descriptions. A player might peer around a pile of tarnished silver mixed with dirty leathers. A player might see two goblins fighting and knocking over small tents with no other goblin really noticing or caring.