April 7th, 2003

nice shirt

Does a world have to be "coherent?"

[A friend of mine posted regarding whether he expects a game world to be "coherent"... His post is interesting, possibly more so than mine.. ]

I don't think "coherent" is the word I would use, quite. I always thought of coherent applying to an argument but I guess the same goes for a story as well. To me it means that the details match, that it's internally consistent. Perhaps that is the concept they were going for, but for me this is not what makes a setting fun to be in.

I think it's much more important for a setting to be *rich* or *well-imagined* than to be consistent in details. Just the fact that it *has* details makes it pretty rich. So I guess in this sense I am agreeing with you. Depth is key.

A world or setting has to be consistent enough to pass a very basic muster. Like, if it has 3 or 4 basic rules that govern it, all of the details have to be consistent with those, but not necessarily with each other.

Perhaps my standards for a game are a little lower than for a book. A game is a work-in-progress, so I would compare it to the first-draft of a work of fiction. After it has been exposed to some proofreading and become a bit more polished, I would expect some of the minor bugs to be worked out. But, if the story has been thoroughly proofed and debugged, it's a bit too late to get in there as a character and have some freedom of choice (however limited) in how the story goes.

I think I would expect cohesion and consistency from a story, but not necessarily from a setting. A setting just has to be consistent enough not to interfere with your disbelief suspension system :) I will forgive a lack of prearranged detail in exchange for the freedom to romp about.

(Heck in many cases my character doesn't have that level of depth or cohesion either -- I think if I have spent more time on my character background than the GM has spent on his backstory that would be a sign that I'm expecting too much :)