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Old 03-10-2011, 11:29 PM   #1
Peter Knutsen
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Default Article format for setting wiki?

Next month, unless I get a nasty surprise (such things can happen), it's time to start the wiki for my Ärth historical fantasy setting, the URL of which will be announced at a much later date (once I have sufficient material; it should be interesting to people who play GURPS Banestorm, Celtic Myth, Vikings or Middle Ages 1, or even Arabian Nights).

With my Sagatafl RPG system wiki (which still doesn't have enough content to be worth announcing), I found that having a standard article formt, a sort of skeleton with a number of bones, in the form of sections and subsections that I'd then "hang" content on, was really helpful.

It just so happened that the original article skeleton I created was lacking, and over the months I've added about 3 or 4 new major sections, and some subsections.

Therefore, I'd like to get things right from day one, with this wiki, thinking the structure through first. I can always change it later, but it's a bother if I forget something crucial and then have to go back to all the old articles and add it in. In a way, such an article skeleton is just a reminder to myself (neither this wiki nor the Sagatafl wiki are "open" for others to edit, although Sagatafl now has a co-designer) of what to remember to include.

So, what should be there? It's a setting wiki only, all game mecahnics are in the Sagatafl wiki, e.g. the magic system, with Ärth wiki articles linking to the Sagatafl wiki for this as needed, so it's all "soft" or "theoretically generic" information, about characters, places, cultures, religions and organizations, and history.

Should I have one article skeleton for each of those six kinds of articles, or one universal skeleton that's a bit more elaborate, but which fits them all, and where I can just prune irrelevant sections or subsections?

Clearly some articles will need to be without this structure, but I've found that in the Sagatafl wiki, so far, 98% of the game mechanic articles fits in the structure I've made for that wiki.

Have any of you tried anything like this? Documenting a setting via a series of interlinked articles? Using a wiki or some other kind of CMS system? If so, can I see it? How did you do it? What mistakes did you make that you're willing to caution me about repeating?
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Old 03-11-2011, 03:28 PM   #2
cmpip
 
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Default Re: Article format for setting wiki?

I use a couple wikis on my website. The public wiki can be found here. It covers a number of campaigns but isn't as active as I'd like. The private wiki covers a single setting which currently has over 300 articles including game logs and session transcripts. It's much more active than the private one. Unfotunately I'm not at liberty to share that one at present.
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Old 03-11-2011, 10:03 PM   #3
Peter Knutsen
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Default Re: Article format for setting wiki?

Quote:
Originally Posted by cmpip View Post
I use a couple wikis on my website. The public wiki can be found here. It covers a number of campaigns but isn't as active as I'd like. The private wiki covers a single setting which currently has over 300 articles including game logs and session transcripts. It's much more active than the private one. Unfotunately I'm not at liberty to share that one at present.
I'm only really interested in websites, whether made with CMs or not, that describe and define settings. Sort of a World Bible.

It seems the wiki you've linked to has a bunch of world writeups. Which one or two of them are most elaborate, or best, or otherwise most pertinent to my needs?

And if you're using a set article structure in the private wiki, could you share tat with me, without sharing any of the actual content contained within the structure?
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Old 03-13-2011, 12:22 PM   #4
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Default Re: Article format for setting wiki?

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Originally Posted by Peter Knutsen View Post
I'm only really interested in websites, whether made with CMs or not, that describe and define settings. Sort of a World Bible
I get what you mean. I'm surprised no one else has chimed in yet. Websites and wikis in particular are a great way to disseminate game world information to players or the generally interested.

Quote:
It seems the wiki you've linked to has a bunch of world writeups. Which one or two of them are most elaborate, or best, or otherwise most pertinent to my needs?
In retrospect it probably isn't that useful to what you want and to be honest everything there is in dire need of updating and expansion. Most of the effort has gone into the private wiki. That's our largest, longest running, and far reaching setting.

Quote:
And if you're using a set article structure in the private wiki, could you share tat with me, without sharing any of the actual content contained within the structure?
Okay, now that I have a little more time it being the weekend and all I can get into this a little more. What you're looking for is basically a default outline for all articles?

I've never really worked out such a canned outline for the wikis I run. I've found that the subject matter of any particular article will dictate that article's structure and that structure flows naturally from the content. My region write-ups all have a similar though not strictly identical structure. I think you'd want a different outline based on type an article on a culture is going to require a different set of sections and subsections than a character or location, or what have you. Having one big outline to cover every contingency strikes me as problematic in that you'll be forever paring away at it every time you start a new article. I think separate outlines by article type would be the better approach.

If I were going to do a generic outline for a character article I'd probably go with something that looks like this:

==Description==
===Physical===
====Distinctive Traits====
===Personality===
====Goals & Motivations====
===Background and History===
====Important Childhood Events====
====Education====
==Group Affiliations==
===Allies===
===Enemies===
==Game Stats==

Last edited by cmpip; 03-13-2011 at 12:28 PM. Reason: Completeness
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Old 03-13-2011, 12:36 PM   #5
Peter Knutsen
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Default Re: Article format for setting wiki?

Quote:
Originally Posted by cmpip View Post
If I were going to do a generic outline for a character article I'd probably go with something that looks like this:

==Description==
===Physical===
====Distinctive Traits====
===Personality===
====Goals & Motivations====
===Background and History===
====Important Childhood Events====
====Education====
==Group Affiliations==
===Allies===
===Enemies===
==Game Stats==
Yeah, that's along the same lines as my article skeleton draft, except it's a lot longer, and contains notes/advice, and I still think I can create one skeleton that can fit almos all subject types:

Characters
Religions
Cultures
Nations
Places
Organizations
????????

I'll clean my draft skeleton up, and post it in a day or two.


edit: To clarify, I'm particularly uncertain about how to describe the setting itself. I know a lot about it (I already have a lot of material in my head), but I'm unsure how to document it. I tried reading parts of GURPS Banestorm, but the setting writeups didn't "click" with my brain at all, whereas I found the rest of the book perfectly understandable. I find writing up a character article much more intuitive.

Last edited by Peter Knutsen; 03-13-2011 at 12:39 PM. Reason: "to clarify"
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Old 03-14-2011, 03:11 PM   #6
cmpip
 
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Default Re: Article format for setting wiki?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Knutsen View Post
To clarify, I'm particularly uncertain about how to describe the setting itself. I know a lot about it (I already have a lot of material in my head), but I'm unsure how to document it. I tried reading parts of GURPS Banestorm, but the setting writeups didn't "click" with my brain at all, whereas I found the rest of the book perfectly understandable. I find writing up a character article much more intuitive.
So, far I've done articles for notable characters, cultures, organizations, factions, technologies, religions, and so on. I still haven't written a unifying article explaining the setting as a whole. I'm hoping that once I have enough of the setting written up and in front of me the general setting article will write itself.
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Old 03-19-2011, 04:49 PM   #7
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Default Re: Article format for setting wiki?

For what it's worth, the wiki for my fantasy setting Gehennum is here. There isn't a formula to the entries, though. Just hundreds of unstructured encyclopaedia entries.
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Old 03-21-2011, 06:50 AM   #8
Peter Knutsen
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Default Re: Article format for setting wiki?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brett View Post
For what it's worth, the wiki for my fantasy setting Gehennum is here. There isn't a formula to the entries, though. Just hundreds of unstructured encyclopaedia entries.
I took a look at it, especially anything pertaining to slaves, since one of the priorities of the Ärth wiki will be to deal with those issues that players are very likely to make wrong assumptions about, e.g. they might assume that medieval slavery is shaped the same way as 19th century Southern USAn plantation slavery.

Two items of feedback based on what I've read: You might want to reinforce that slavery is not racial, and I'm also inclined to think that beyond legal rights, slaves might also have rights by custom. Of course that may not be the case in your setting (and it's easy to see where you got your inspiration from), but to take one Ärth example, if a female bed-slave has been dutiful towards her owner, it's customary for him to set her free (along wih a parting gift, such as a flock of sheep or a purse of silver) when he gets tired of her and/or when he's sufficiently established to be able to find a wife. She has no legal right to claim that, but the surrounding society strongly expects him to do so. Having her "disappear mysteriously" will damage his reputation.

Other than that, you have some good points that tend to match my own, such as slaves being members of the household, and thus not (usually) treated horribly.


As for my wider purpose, I looked through your wiki and read or skimmed about a dozen articles, and I could not find a single article dealing with a place, or for that mater an individual NPC. I did find one article, a very brief, dealing with a relic item.

If your wiki has such articles, could you please provide a link to an example of each?
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Old 03-21-2011, 07:15 AM   #9
Peter Knutsen
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Default Re: Article format for setting wiki?

Regardless of what I end up deciding, to use a single article skeleton for all subject types, or have a 6-9 different skeletons for differet subject types, each article will need an at-a-glance section early on, the place to go to for absolutely basic information.

What should be there?

<START>
Intro to article, intended to help reader determine whether he needs to read the article or not.

[disclaimer boxes, Ärth is historical fantasy, don't cite in thesis papers, and beware of spoilers and OOC knowledge]

== At a glance ==
Be very brief here. This is where people scroll down to, to find truly basic info, right beneath the Table of Contents. Elaborations can be done in later sections.

Structured information, in table:
PERSON
Name
Alternate names
Year of birth
Age in 985 (for ease of age calculation in standard period)
Year of death
Species
Race
Sex
Culture
Religion
Gross social class
Important ranks/memberships
????

RELIGION:
Type: mono/poly/pan/spiritual
Missionary: yes/no
Origin
Core values
Priesthood (if any)
Liturgy/Rituals
Strongholds (places the religion is strong)
Colonies (places where the religion can be found but is weak)
????
????
????

PLACE
Coordinates (N or S)
Coordinates (E or W)
Size classification (ExC, Extent Code, a game-mechanical term, plus what the code means, e.g. ExC 3 is a Region or a MegaPolis, ExC7 is a Continent)
Approx. population (magnitude, or 1 significant digit)
Rough size (in hectares or square kilometers, often omitted)
Leadership
Primary culture(s)
Primary religion(s)
Climate
Main Terrain types
????

CULTURE
Origin (e.g. Middle Eastern culture, Jewish and Arabic, originated among desert-dwelling nomads such as Bedouins)
Age
Strongholds (e.g. Norse would have Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Gautland as strongholds)
Also found in (Norse also found in Iceland, Greenland, Vinland, Danelaw, Irish coastal Towns, various British Isles, Normandy, Byzantine Varangians)
????

LANGUAGE
Indo-European (yes/no)
General family (Germanic, Keltic, Romance, Semitic, and so forth)
Related to (usually not needed, due to the above?)
Dialects (the Norse language has West-Norse and East-Norse as its main dialects, each split up into numerous local dialects)
Peculiarities (several medieval and dark age languages had no words for yes and no. That's irrelevant for tabletop roleplaying but useful to know for written fiction)
Commonality (how common the language is, can it be used a a lingua franca in parts of the setting?)
Derived languages (creoles and trade pidgins, and other hybridizations)
?????

ORGANIZATION
Strongholds
Leaders
Members
Goals
????

ITEM
Made (year/age)
Maker
Relic status (no, or if yes then for whom)
Main magical powers (if any)
Current owner (or assumed location if lost, e.g. the Ark of the Covenant is assumed to be in Tanis)
????

<END>

There needs to be much more than that, but the above is just for the at-a-glance section.
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Old 03-21-2011, 03:12 PM   #10
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Default Re: Article format for setting wiki?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Knutsen View Post
As for my wider purpose, I looked through your wiki and read or skimmed about a dozen articles, and I could not find a single article dealing with a place, or for that mater an individual NPC. I did find one article, a very brief, dealing with a relic item.

If your wiki has such articles, could you please provide a link to an example of each?
There are very few. Here's a place: Samariopolis. Here are two NPCs: Daramalan of Kos and Jasper of Suvein. They are just brief encyclopaedic descriptions. And then there is Thundering Vale.
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Last edited by Agemegos; 03-21-2011 at 06:27 PM.
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