So I'm kicking around ideas for a setting. It may be an RPG setting, it may be a fiction setting. It has some antecedents going all the way back to 1998 or so when I floated an idea or two of picking up the Intellectual Property for the old Pacesetter system Timemaster
. (At the time, the money they wanted was far more than I was willing to spend -- it may be that they've made more in the ten years since by selling PDF versions on RPG Now, but they haven't actually produced a new
product for it since 1991, more is the pity.) Things have finally gelled in my brain, forming a very, very different take on the concept of intrauniversal/spatiotemporal adventure, with a healthy dose of Space Opera and a bit of Doctor Who for good measure.
And so I'm worldbuilding as I let the actual story gel, if it's going to be fiction, or the world proper gel if it's going to be a setting.
Worldbuilding is incredible amounts of fun, and very very dangerous. It's very dangerous because
it's incredible amounts of fun. The problem is, you end up getting a level of detail on your fictional or RPG world that far exceeds your capacity to put it into your work, and the process of worldbuilding is satisfying in a way that is very similar to -- and scratches the same itch as -- writing.
Only it's completely worthless beyond your own brain.
Take this setting. You know it's intrauniversal. You know it's time travel. That's a start, right? Right. Now, the mechanism of how
they hop from one alternate universe to another might interest you.
What is not
going to interest you... is the coordinate/navigational system used to do so.
But I've got it down. I've got it down, in fact, to a freaking science. I know that the posthumans who first built the technology have sixteen fingers instead of ten, so everything's in Hexadecimal. I know how to create unique identifiers for alternate universes that have meaning for me
even if they're just jumbles of hex code for everyone else. I have a standardized ISAN unit (ISAN standing for Interfleet Standard Altiversal Nomenclature) of measure for everything from position to alternate timeline to dimension.
In fact, I know that if one of my (hypothetical -- remember, I'm not actually writing this dumb story or world yet
) heroes punches in the following coordinates manually into his system--
--they would arrive almost exactly at the place of my birth just in time to watch me be born. With absolutely none of the above pulled out of my ass. It all makes sense in the context of the system in question.This information will never be useful to anyone, ever, including me.
Seriously. I can't put a jumble like that into a story. If I feature an action packed chrononautical navigation
scene, no one's going to spout off hex code. If I put this system into an RPG, it would never, ever be used and in fact would be held of as an example of needless crunch for no reason.
And yet, I love it.
(This is not an invitation for Shut Up And Write comments, by the way. The actual
writing isn't anywhere near in a 'start putting words down' state. This is just an observation, and it is mine.)