The questions I ask myself when building a new world

Hold on, wait a second, I’m sorry…did you say street magic?

The questions I ask myself when building a new world
Credit: Shannon Kao

If you’ve been reading  Rascal’s Lay It On The Table column, you might know that I have often fallen into the role of perma-DM, introducing new players to TTRPGs. While it is rewarding, it’s a lot of asymmetrical labor. Creating a world, a campaign, the non-player characters, tying it all together in a satisfying and compelling plot that follows the desires and expectations of the other people at the table; it all takes time and energy that I simply do not have as I try to keep moving forward in the face of global tragedy, ongoing genocide, and the largest display of fascism this country has seen since… the last largest display of fascism a few years ago. 

In this moment where millions of people around the world are rejecting the systems and structures of our own, we must collectively imagine what a new world could look like. Destruction of the old world is only one half of the equation. The other half—arguably the more vital half—is to understand why that system was there in the first place, what needs were being met by these old paradigms, and what else can be created amidst their crumbling foundations. This is not easy work. This is not work that can be alone. It must be a shared effort.

So, when my partner Max asked to restart a duet game of D&D that I’ve been running for him for the last few years, I wanted to find something that would allow for a more even distribution of creative generation while also allowing me a space to work through the feelings, thoughts, and questions about The World that occupy my every waking thought. And what better way to think deeply about one world than through creating another?