Using Knowledge skills to expand the world

One of the things that I like about Fate Core and the related Fate system games is how they include the players in the generation of setting information. This combined with the Dungeon World move Spout Lore lead me to the concept of using the knowledge skills and the common knowledge rolls as a way to incorporate player ideas into the setting.

I know this is not anything new, I have heard of groups doing this kind of thing for years on podcasts and forum posts, but here are some thoughts that I have had about how to do this.

  1. I would limit it to things that are based on knowledge or research rolls. I might consider it for a investigate skill depending on the circumstances, but mostly it should be something that the character remembers or looks up, not something that they discover during an investigation.
  2. It should only be done on a roll that generated a raise. This makes it something that is special, it connects the characters to the setting, and it can provide a benefit or new issues for the characters.
  3. The game master should be prepared to come up with something if the player can’t at the time. Also if this is something that needs to point to the next step in the adventure, you should be sure to give that to the player as well.
  4. If this roll was something that was needed to get to the next step of the adventure, you should try to make sure that the information fits with what the player just created if at all possible, other wise, make the least changes to the players information to make what you need fit.
  5. If what the player gives you makes the character’s lives more difficult, you should give them a benny. They are now increasing the drama of the game, and that is a good thing.

As an example of how I would use this for Deadlands would be as follows:

As the posse rides into the small mining and farming community of Signal, AZ, you see a run down general store, a saloon, a sheriff’s office, and some stables with a small smithy for re-shoeing horses. You can roll any knowledge skills that might be appropriate or make a general knowledge roll to remember more.

On a normal success, I would give them some information like the following tailored for what skill they used for the roll:

You know that this town was built to service small local silver and gold mines. None of them produce much and the miners tend to blow what little they make at the saloon.

On a raise, I would give everyone the above information and whoever got the raise or highest roll if multiple people got a raise the above information and ask them what else they know about the town. And based on the information they give me, i.e. if it could cause the party problems, or was particularly interesting, I would give out either a white fate chip, or maybe have them pull a random chip from the pot.

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Author: Hours without Sleep

I am a professional software tester, who has an interest in programming, computers, role-playing games, history, and reading in general. This is my third attempt at keeping a blog, and I am going to try putting all of my thoughts in one place, and see how it goes.

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