How do you test a setting?

Testing, in its many forms, is a key component to many activities. Testing is now de rigueur in mechanical processes, and has gained traction in the creative world over the past century or so, thanks to the proliferation of writer’s circles and proofreaders.

Last week saw a test, as part of the confluence of two neat things: a game of the RPG Warrior, Rogue & Mage, and an RPG setting that we’ve been building here at the Gamer Assembly. This was the first public test of the setting, though it was mostly a backdrop.

I described the overall history of the world at an extremely high level in a few sentences, explaining how that history has shaped modern society. I then described the empire in which the game would be played, and we launched the adventure.

I asked for no feedback; I just wanted to see how the players would react. I got nods and a “Cool.”

That was all I needed. For a setting that still being built, I mainly want to know one thing: can it be quickly and easily explained? So far, so good.

Here’s a cleaned-up version of the introduction. Does this make sense to you?

Far back in history, in the beginning, there were the Old Ones. They ruled over the world, creating all the humanoid races.

After many years of toil, the humanoids allied with the dragons and killed the Old Ones. The dragons taught the humanoids magic, and all went well until two crises appeared.

The first was the Dragon Plague. Many humanoids and dragons died before a multi-racial party of adventurers found a cure. Meanwhile, many dragons left this plane of existence, some returning much later. Those who remained sequestered themselves into their own burrows and caves, and they were somehow changed. The dragons of old were brilliant thinkers and social; today’s dragons are barely more than beasts.

The second crisis began with the Ascendancy of Ana-Lesh, an elven mage who learned the secret of godhood and became a god herself. Soon, others followed, until the paths to godhood were closed.

Today, this history has created an intensely multi-cultural world. There are no racial empires; instead, three empires now rule the land.

This game is set in the Empire of Illusion, a magical oligarchy ruled by a cabal of extremely powerful wizards. They maintain a secret police, the Wolves of Shadow, who deal with any large-scale problems. Otherwise, the populace is left on its own, so petty crime is rampant.

However, there’s a large middle ground of dangers that may one day threaten the empire, but are too small for the Wolves to bother themselves with. For these, the Wolves have built a network of adventurers. Individuals will be summoned into teams, who are sent out on missions for the Wolves, who at least pay handsomely.

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