Last post we discussed getting culture up front in a game. We started building a cultural framework. Before I go further, I want to address some great points that came up from that article.
Aren’t these vague/non-nuanced statements going to lead to the type of stereotyping/noble savage stuff that people don’t seem to want?
It can. There’s always a danger that someone can get it wrong, but why I don’t worry so much about that is I’m using those statements to create white space I explicitly don’t want explanations of why the culture does the things we stated that they did because that’s what I hope the players/GM at the table will answer. Why do the Kitan go through obstacles and never around? That’s a good question, and I would want people at my table to work that out. Leaving space to fill works on two levels. On the first we create player/GM investment in the setting. On the next level we are pushing people to flesh out towards their own sensibilities. This means the death of canon, but I kinda feel like cannon should be dead in an RPG context, so I can live with that.
Ultimately I think the best RPG source material has ample white space and gets to the provocative bits to inspire players.
Is it really culture that you want to address? Do you mean history?
I don’t mean history because history is what happened in the past. Culture embeds history, custom, and belief in the now. History is great and important, but history tends to be about stringing together events. Culture is about people, and I think people are at the hearts of stories. If we can make our stories more people-centric, wew can make stories that vary wildly from the norm but that still find congruence in the commonality of human experience.
So, having addressed that, I want to look at the next step. Let’s look at the traits and characteristics our fictional cultures value. For this step we are coming up with ten adjectives that someone from that culture would expect and would like attached to themselves. It’s key to think of it as members of the culture describing one another positively, and not someone from outside slapping these labels on the culture.
A Kitani is….
If you participated last time, feel free to follow up (maybe copy/paste your entry from the first step). If you’re interested in hopping in, go back to the previous post and include those steps first, then take these steps.