I’ve been working with Inform 7 the last couple of weeks to get a handle on my campaign setting. Really, it’s been one exercise in conservation of detail after another. What do you tell a player that encourages them to explore an area further, and what constitutes as holding their hand? You give them enough to make them hungry.

There are separate ways for coding what you see when you walk into a room (or area, or zone, however you want to look at it), basically the “quick view” and the more laborious examination. If you’ve been a game master before, of a tabletop roleplaying game, then you’ll be able to recognize this as the difference between Spot checks.

“What do I see?” You give your players basic sensory input, including several details to encourage them to ask more questions. You lead them along with clues, following whatever rules you like (such as the Rule of Three), so long as you’re prepared for three different players to examine all three details simultaneously.

(Insert Red Herring Here)

Beside giving me an idea of how I should construct a scene, Inform has given me some things to think about in terms of skilled and unskilled labor, oddly enough. See, the first scene I decided to construct took place in a clearing where a woodcutter’s home could be found, and I’ve been working with it quite a while now.

I’ve been thinking about this silly woodcutter for a while now. I’ve given him a simple name and tried to come up with some interesting facts about him. In my research into various historical time periods, I’ve accumulated a lot of trivia regarding numerous (nowadays obscure) crafts and professions across different times.

The Norvendae Craft System is designed to reflect the various “skilled” professions that one might expect to encounter in any given part of the setting. Soldiers are practitioners of Discipline, Clerics of Cultures, and so on. They’re used to define the setting and its resources from the skilled, interactive standpoint.

Working with my woodcutter has made me think about those differences between skilled and unskilled persons, and how they provide gameplay advantages and so forth. For instance, last night I was thinking that Soldiers ought to be allowed to rest whenever, while everyone else has to wait ’til night or exhaust themselves.

Can you imagine what Fourth Edition gameplay might be like if a character had to wait until nighttime (assuming they’re diurnal) to take an extended rest, or else exhaust their healing surges? (For sanity’s sake they have to have less than four.) In that case, wizards and controllers and those with fewer surges can rest more frequently.

It creates an interesting dynamic where characters aren’t necessarily regaining all their powers and resources at the same time, but that’s less likely to interest a group of players since that imposes some additional bookkeeping on them. “What do you mean everyone else rested, but not me? What was I doing? Running laps?”

Certainly it creates an awkward situation wherein a player wants to lose as many hit points as possible so they can rest along with the rest of the group. “I want you to hit me as hard as you can.” Actually, it sounds silly, but then you consider how many heroes have to work out to keep themselves in shape. It’s an interesting thought.