"I Don't Care That Much About Your World's History..."

This stage always comes when you think you have enough experience for it. You bring your folder and pen, and you start to write about a new world of your own, a world in the scale of Tolkien or C.S. Lewis, with a history that spans hundreds or even thousands of years, with gods battling between humans, and vast lands very far beyond the seas, and a cosmology of 28 worlds and 496 planes. I'll tell you something about it: I don't care for any of that. If I was your player, I wouldn't want to know what happened in this spot 8128 years ago, unless it's still super connected to what's happening now, and I promise you that it won't.
When I come to play in another GM's world, I don't care for its history beyond the basic things, at least not for most of the campaign, and no, it's not because I don't like it, or I don't find it interesting, but mainly because it doesn't help or enhance my game.
I want to know about the politics of the now, about the vast armies of the orcs who come to save the day and about the elves who come to destroy the nature they vowed to defend. I want to know about the festivals that take place every year. That's the kind of things I wanna know about, the things of the now, the things of the importance to the story we're telling.
I don't want to hear how Kalicachoochu defeated the great dragon Urganzin, but to meet the dragon and defeat him by myself. So please, don't talk about the legends of the past, it's not important, and I would have preferred if you would use the time and energy that you spent with the history to create a better and cooler world of the now.
Now, don't get me wrong, I do want your world to have a history, but history of the now, major events in the past 200 years that revolve around the city we're living in, and I prefer it as a colourful and short one. The king took his place by cheating in a magic duel against the queen 30 years ago, now she wants her place back. Nothing spectacular, just... the simple, colourful and interesting bits. If it will be interesting enough, and I'll decide that I want a bigger knowledge about the history of the world, I'll ask you then. Yeah, I promise you that. But first of all, create an engaging world, history is for the later.


  1. I'll disagree with you on this point. I do want history in my games. I feel it adds depth to the world instead of making it a world only revealed by the party's actions. A world should exist despite the PCs. They are a part of the world, not the center of that world. I feel it helps with immersion and "reality". History provides a connection the world.

    However, I also don't want a complete history lesson everywhere I go. Simply state something like "This is where Hero X killed Dragon Y" and then move on. Better yet, something like "You now enter the Plains of Ash, so named when the ancient Dragon Wars destroyed the land". It connects the past with the now. Anytime your characters enter the Plains of Ash the history comes alive and adds a layer of "reality".

    Also, sometimes a history lesson is really a foreshadowing of future adventures. Maybe down the road you'll be looking to recover the Light Sword of Hero X. Sure the first time the DM mentioned Hero X there was no connection but there is now.

    1. Thanks for your comment. I get what your saying, and it's pretty much what I meant with the useful history. My main problem is with those GMs who tell me about the gods that control the world, about legends concerning heroes from 2500 years ago and so on. History of the now can mean something like "this is the place where a major battle was fought" or "a dragon was killed" etc, but I prefer it short and to the point.
      On other note, I also want to give my players the feel that the world is alive beyond of them, but the world is not the center of my story, so when I do it, I add little bits of rumors and little bits of history now and then. It's much more useful, at least to my belief, and much more rewarding to give this feel through how the NPCs interact with the PCs than what happened in a place many many years ago. Think for a moment about this: what will give you a better feel for existence beyond your character, an NPC who works when you see him, or a story about the past? For me, it's the first one, as it makes the NPC feel alive.
      Thanks again for your comment.