Get thee behind me, Meta!


Slay the meta. Get thee behind me, Meta! I shall not be beholden to you! Tell me how you really feel, right? Ok, here it goes.

I’ve been working on a lot of setting content for Unchained Heroes lately. It’s fun to share it with you all and hear about the thoughts everyone has on it, but you might be surprised to hear that making a setting isn’t part of my game philosophy. In fact, when presented with a setting, I often find myself saying, “Get thee behind me, Meta!” and biblically destroying the universe that I am presented with. I don’t like running other people’s settings, playing in them is a different matter, but running them, no way. It’s why I built Unchained Heroes from a system standpoint rather than a setting standpoint. There are the inevitable trappings of the setting within it, but I find nothing more bothersome than walking into well-charted waters and trying to run a campaign. You can’t swing a dead cat in some settings without stepping on established canon.

When I play, I need the freedom to create my own settings and not be beholden to anyone else for content. I don’t want to be worried about breaking from canon. Don’t get me wrong, settings are great and some universes really inspire me to play games: Nova Praxis, Warhammer 40k, Mass Effect, The Dresden Files, Dragon Age and more are all really inspiring settings. I love them. I want to play within them, but I don’t want to run them. When running them I feel the pressure of the Meta. The question becomes, how do I find the right balance where players like me want to use the setting, but not hamper them with endless details and constrain them with established works?

I build them fresh, “them” being my settings. I like to have different settings in different times, where one story doesn’t overlap the other too much. The Floating Realms helps me do that. I build a new land anytime I want a new campaign.

How do I find the right balance for writing setting content in the Floating Realms? I don’t have an answer to the question, but I am working on it. It needs to be something that I can live with. How about you? Do you feel empowered or constrained by setting content? Does it fuel your creativity or squash your spirit?


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