Themes and thesis in game settings

edited August 2013 in Story Games
Over in Numenera's setting is less the sum of its parts, Denys said something really interesting:
World-building crafted as an exceptional tool, at least in my opinion, is exemplified by games such as Exalted 1st, Tenra Bansho Zero, Iron Kingdoms and even Planescape. Those settings do a great job of establishing thesis statements about their world and point of view and then demanding in a most wonderful way that players create characters that are corollaries to the core ideas of the setting.
I'd love to explore what people think the thesis statements of these settings/games are. What do you think they are?

(As I start to work on my own new fantasy setting, I'm trying to be more aware of what world-building is capable of, and what separates the bad from the good from the exceptional.)

Comments

  • edited August 2013
    Planescape was very up front about its core theme: belief shapes reality. And it's all over the setting.

    I actually don't think Tenra is a great example of this phenomenon. The theme of Tenra is expressed in the mechanics of the Aiki/Kiai/Karma cycle, rather than in the setting. That theme is something along the lines of "we draw our strength from the things we care about, but caring too much destroys us."
  • Yeah, I agree on Tenra (and am not familiar enough with the others to comment). The setting overall has an "upheaval" motif going on (which may also relate to the general Buddhist transience vibe), but I think it's more to maximize "gameability"; there are few to no signature locations or metaplot NPCs, and the repeated indications that society is in such disarray that there are exceptions to almost every rule says, to me, that GMs and players shouldn't feel the need to cram for fake history tests or be punished for their ignorance a la old-school World of Darkness or Legend of the Five Rings.
  • For me Exalted was about upheaval of the status quo and characters daring to be heroes in light of that. The setting was all about that and supported that idea (at least it did in 1e, I'm not familiar with what came later).

    Iron Kingdoms (which was an rpg setting before a minis game) was about characters affected by geopolitical constraints and struggling to define themselves given their various nationalistic (not racial) allegiances.

    That's what's helpful to me and what makes world-building coherent. What is about? What core idea is thriving behind all the character choices? How do each of the character archetypes available reflect the central theme? And I think that's where Numenera falls down for me and where I'll try to make it work for me and mine -- that is, how are the characters positioned with regards to the ancient technology that surrounds them? Do they push for that next cycle -- that next singularity -- or do they try to repulse it? Ideally, the game should be all about the priests in the setting and their established outposts; the setting should be focused on that idea, not on Anything, Anywhere.
  • Great summaries...really interested to see what people think of others. How about some gloomy shadowy settings?

    The World of Darkness of Vampire: the Masquerade
    Gotham City
    Warhammer Fantasy
    Warhammer 40K (if different)

    I have my own theories to share on each of these but want to listen first.
  • Denys,

    Thanks for posting!

    I think "what is it about?" in the sense that you described Iron Kingdoms isn't exactly a theme or thesis in the usual sense of the world. It's more of a "what do characters do here?" answer. I suspect you mean something different than I do by "thesis."

    The subject of a setting is what it's about. The way you're describing Iron Kingdoms and Exalted here sound like what I call "Situation" (from The Big Model). Basically "how characters connect to setting."

    The theme of a setting is what it has to say. In your other thread, it sounded like you were talking about theme: "point of view" and "the future is weird!" I can't tell from your descriptions what the point of view the authors of Exalted and Iron Kingdoms intend to convey.

    [ASIDE: Just looked up Theme (narrative) on Wikipedia. It distinguishes between thematic concept, which is the "what it's about," from thematic statement, which is "what the work says about the subject". So you're on solid ground here.


    Theme as a question

    Generally, theme is presented as a thesis, as a statement to be proven by the work. In books, that's fine. In a setting, where everything is tested by contact with player characters, theme is more of a question.



    My setting stuff

    If my Opal Empire setting has a theme yet, it's something along the lines of, "People don't need deities." Or as a question, "Do people still need deities?"

    The gate between heaven and earth is forever locked. Spellcasting priests, cut off from their source of divine power, realized that the people were always the source of mana; now they collect it in rituals and distribute it to their adherents from temples and shrines. Elven philosophy and religion took a decidedly secular turn, mimicking in some ways Confucianism and Tao. The dwarves headed more the path of Secular Humanism. Only the humans cling to the idea that their gods might return someday, so they best behave.

    People's spirits don't ascend to the heavens anymore, but instead get trapped on earth as wanderers. A small minority of people learned to gather those spirits (a sort of reverse spiritual possession) and use them for advanced power. Resurrection is expensive but pretty common, because it's so easy to return spirits to their bodies (or another handy body, a la SF like Altered Carbon).
  • Warhammer Fantasy - The world is full of dark humor. Enjoy it while you can and then die laughing.
  • edited August 2013
    I don't actually think many characters in Warhammer Fantasy die laughing...I do agree that absurdity is part of it, though. I think it's relevant that very few people in the setting are depicted as being funny or actually laughing or enjoying things.
  • @JDCorley You got what I was going for. Dark humor and absurdity.
  • @Adam_Dray: Not that I'm a big fan of The Big Model, but is Premise what you're talking about?
  • Um, I can't remember (and can't access the glossary right now). Is Premise tied up in Narr/Story Now stuff? If so, then definitely not.

    I'm really talking about narrative thematic statement, as I defined up there. It's what the author of a setting is trying to say when he writes a setting, either by design or as deconstructed subtext.
  • edited August 2013
    Yes, narrativist premise. To quote.
    Narrativist Premises focus on producing Theme via events during play. Theme is defined as a value-judgment or point that may be inferred from the in-game events. My thoughts on Narrativist Premise are derived from the book The Art of Dramatic Writing by Lajos Egri, specifically his emphasis on the questions that arise from human conundrums and passions of all sorts.
    • Is the life of a friend worth the safety of a community?
    • Does love and marriage override one's loyalty to a political cause?
    • And many, many more - the full range of literature, myth, and stories of all sorts.
    Narrativist Premises vary regarding their origins: character-driven Premise vs. setting-driven Premise, for instance. They also vary a great deal in terms of unpredictable "shifts" of events during play. The key to Narrativist Premises is that they are moral or ethical questions that engage the players' interest. The "answer" to this Premise (Theme) is produced via play and the decisions of the participants, not by pre-planning.
    • A possible Narrativist development of the "vampire" initial Premise, with a strong character emphasis, might be, Is it right to sustain one's immortality by killing others? When might the justification break down?
    • Another, with a strong setting emphasis, might be, Vampires are divided between ruthlessly exploiting and lovingly nurturing living people, and which side are you on?
    It sounds to me like the same thing, with the questions and all. I use another term which I call meaning. Meaning is raising philosophical, ethical, spiritual or social questions through your game. Is the difference that the question isn't answered in thesis but instead sets the mood, while it's directed though play in Premise/meaning?
  • As a more critical counter-point for the received wisdom, I've always felt that Planescape actually does a pretty sucky job on its supposed theme of "belief defines reality". One just needs to compare to Mage: the Ascension to see the difference: in that latter game the prime movers and shakers of the setting know this to actually be the case, and act accordingly, waging a war that is primarily of propaganda and culture, with the occasional firefight thrown in where overt power does the most good. Player characters constantly face the constraints and opportunities the consensus reality begets. In Planescape, on the other hand, we have Sigil, with some largely pointless factions (with insipid philosophies that hang loose from any external political interests; a Sigil faction is generally only of interest to other Sigilians) that don't seem to actually have any power over anything except their piddly little city (where the real power is held by an autocratic god, too). Then we have the planes, where a conflict is on not between different beliefs, but rather between different celestial powers of unimaginable magnitude; we know that it's not a war of beliefs, for if this were the case, then the goals and means of the war would not so resemble an entirely ordinary military campaign.

    The only place where Planescape pays lip service to that theme is in the idea that sometimes some individual places slip from one plane to another according to the consensus of belief among the populace. This is, as far as I can see, a throw-away idea that does not actually affect anything important in the setting. In Mage the nature of everything has been redefined by the Technocratic paradigm; in Planescape some no-name hamlet might move this way or that, but this has literally never in the history of the setting done anything discernible to the eternal balance of the Wheel, with Good vs. Evil and Law vs. Chaos. There is no proof whatsoever that belief actually defines anything in Planescape except which flag you fight under; if that's the extent of this supposedly fantastical theme, then we can say that in the 30 Year's War belief defines reality, too.

    If I had to suggest the real theme of Planescape, I'd have to say that it's the nature of power politics and their impact on a multi-layered, pluralistic modern society. The people of Sigil and the planes have to deal with cold wars between immensely powerful factions, as well as the Blood War, which is very much a hot war, but happening far away. Sigil itself is like cold-war Berlin or Helsinki or Hong Kong, a meeting place on neutral ground for all political interests, including its own. The society is immensely varied across the multiverse, and the player characters are cosmopolitan travelers with superficial interests in any particular places they experience. Everything is defined in terms of the ideological system that takes the form of near-absolute natural law, just like in the Cold War. The role of adventurers is most often that of spies or commandos in service to one of the political interests; the game specifically offers no tools whatsoever for defining or influencing belief, which is what one would expect were that the theme.

    (I should note that I like Planescape, so the above is not to imply anything about its quality. This particular thing is just a pet peeve, everybody says that its theme is something that plainly doesn't seem to be the case. I've no idea how this came to be.)
  • This is a pretty interesting thread topic, now that I got my Planescape hang-up out of the way. More settings to ponder over:

    Glorantha
    The Shadow of Yesterday
    Greyhawk (heh heh)
  • I agree, settings that inspire action are ideal.
    Exalted is a perfect example. No matter which faction you identify with, the status quo is not sufficient. Even for DBs who are presumably ahead of the game, they are in a state of decline and need to change to survive.
    As far as Settings I would like a better explanation of the Thesis, how about Nobilis?

    I feel like the Thesis of Shadow of Yesterday is "How do you rebuild Near?" All of the cultures want to rebuld Near, but none of them have a working model to base the rebuilding on.
    Dave M
  • Rickard,

    Narrative Premise per The Big Model is about play. I'm cool with that, and that's interesting to talk about here, inasmuch as it connects to Setting design. However, the thing I'm really getting at is the intent of a setting author, so something that happens before play, and it's relevant regardless of a group's creative agenda (that is, you can have a setting Thesis for a game you expect people to play in a Simulationist/Right to Dream manner or a Gamist/Step On Up manner).
  • Eero,

    Great analysis of Planescape. I'll point out that "belief defines reality" is a thematic statement, where "the nature of power politics and their impact on a multi-layered, pluralistic modern society" is a thematic concept, so they're different animals. If Planescape has anything in particular to say about power politics in a multilayered society, then that's its thematic statement.

    I find thematic statements far more interesting as a designer than thematic concepts. I want to say something with my setting. I probably want to say it somewhat subtly so that individual players wrestle with thematic concepts but that my setting choices might encourage a certain interpretation.

    I want it to be fairly obvious that my setting is a tool for exploring a yes/no question like "Do people need deities?" (or a true/false statement) and I want to explore the issue from all sides. I certainly have my own feelings about it, but I don't want to be too heavy handed as a designer, so I'll work hard to show dissenting opinions. Each play group can come to their own decision.
  • Rickard,

    Narrative Premise per The Big Model is about play. I'm cool with that, and that's interesting to talk about here, inasmuch as it connects to Setting design. However, the thing I'm really getting at is the intent of a setting author, so something that happens before play, and it's relevant regardless of a group's creative agenda (that is, you can have a setting Thesis for a game you expect people to play in a Simulationist/Right to Dream manner or a Gamist/Step On Up manner).
    Adam, I get what you're getting at here and I support this fully. That's where some games disappointment for me. That is, I want you as a setting author to help me pose the questions that help me (as game facilitator) frame/pose "moral or ethical questions that engage the players' interest." As far as I'm concerned, you as the author should be giving me frameworks to do this. If the author isn't doing this, I've nothing to glom onto, no interesting/substantive questions to ask -- and I urgently, desperately want to do that.

    Just offering the flash and chrome isn't enough setting authorship; I want subtext and theme made clear so I can engage with the setting in evocative, emotional ways.
  • Count me in, too. That's what I want from settings, to a large extent. (Although some settings might be able to do pretty well just by presenting a framework which makes it easy to create characters who engage with themes - The Shadow of Yesterday does this well, although it also has an overarching premise before the characters even enter.)
  • That's a good point, Adam, about premise vs. theme vs. topic (to put the distinction in Forgean vocabulary).

    I'd understand the initial question specifically in terms of literary theme, and not so much narrativist premise. This is because a big setting is truly more of a literary thing than a creative narrativist challenge - or rather, let's say that while you can interpret some settings in functional terms with a narrativist agenda in mind, you can interpret them all in literary terms, and thus the latter is a more equitable question when doing comparisons over a wide range of settings. Planescape, for instance - it doesn't really have a premise as a setting, but it sure has a theme, and that theme is that people - even demons and devils - are people despite the ideological posturing of modernist, cold-war era politicians (as represented in Planescape by all the stuffed shirts of the Great Wheel).

    And of course a big work of fiction or a complex game can have multiple themes and premises and topics - difficult to name a great one without having multiple layers and a wide range of topics that only form an unity within the worldview of the author.

    That aside, my view on another setting: I think that Gotham City is predominantly about how moral nihilism is given birth in socio-economic context, and how it causes human suffering. If we're to believe Gotham regarding fundamental human nature, it's very natural for human virtue to succumb to peer pressure (of the most insane sorts - insanity in Gotham is very much infectious and memetic), which in turn leads to a cycle of suffering that degrades both the victim and the perpetrator. Moral purity in this context comes rarely from human society; it is, rather, an in-born transcendent quality of "decentness", or a philosophical choice, or naivete untouched by Gotham as yet.

    (That's my attempt at separating the theme of the setting as understood by roleplaying from the theme of the comics and characters, which is an interesting challenge in itself. For those wondering, I base the above massively generalized impression on my last year's Batman binge, wherein I read every Batman comic book from the period of 1987-2008 or so.)
  • Very interesting topic.
    On a quick thought, and I'm not sure I get the notion of theme right, but I'd say that before "theme", I'm looking for stakes.
    What's at stake in the world? Is the empire falling on itself? Are the gods abandoning the world? Is there a civil war coming on? After that, give me themes.
    That's one of the main reason I believe "setting" should not be separated from plots : give me a living world, not something "stuck out of time".
    I feel like the Thesis of Shadow of Yesterday is "How do you rebuild Near?" All of the cultures want to rebuld Near, but none of them have a working model to base the rebuilding on.
    Strangely, I feel the setting of Near to be, very, but very sad, nostalgic ... I never felt the thesis was to "rebuild" Near, but more "how to save one self from a doomed, abandoned world". Which has always explained, for me, the "transcend" mechanism.

  • Changeling: The Dreaming: what does it mean to be a slave to stories? What is it like to be trapped by what you mean, rather than who you are?

    As usual, the most meta game yet produced. A setting with a thematic statement that questions the value of thematic statements in general. It still makes me a little sad that Mage gets all the kudos.







  • On a quick thought, and I'm not sure I get the notion of theme right, but I'd say that before "theme", I'm looking for stakes.
    What's at stake in the world? Is the empire falling on itself? Are the gods abandoning the world? Is there a civil war coming on? After that, give me themes.
    That's one of the main reason I believe "setting" should not be separated from plots : give me a living world, not something "stuck out of time".
    Right on. I'd clarify that you're talking about stakes for the fictional characters of the world here, and maybe even the non-player characters rather than the player characters.

    It might be more useful to look at setting creation through the lens of what is at stake for the PCs. This is basically Situation, in Big Model terms, right? where Character meets Setting.

    For me, I can't even get to Situation in a directed sort of way without knowing what I'm going on about in the first place. I can brainstorm and come up with cool ideas but they're not coherently connected. Connecting stuff--real design, rather than invention--requires me to have a sort of designer's agenda, and that's Theme/Thesis. What is it I'm trying to say with this stuff?

    Once I know what I want to say, then I can connect my ideas together coherently. Then I weigh the hearts of each of those ideas on the scale of how useful it might be for players and GMs.
  • There's some truth in what Eero is saying about Planescape. My view of Planescape is very colored by Torment, which very much made the "beliefs shape reality" theme resonate in the setting and helped make an impossibly eclectic setting feel coherent and compelling. Fortunately for Numenera, it's getting a Torment game made too, that will hopefully serve to distill its ideas into something more usable.
  • For me:

    Bunch of ideas for stuff in the setting --> Theme --> Better ideas for stuff in the setting --> Usability --> Best ideas for stuff the players can use in the setting

    It sounds like Planescape has a theme that the authors didn't make usable to players.
  • For me:

    Bunch of ideas for stuff in the setting --> Theme --> Better ideas for stuff in the setting --> Usability --> Best ideas for stuff the players can use in the setting

    QFT because this really, really needs to be put in front of setting authors.
  • On the other hand, I can't figure out the theme of The Forgotten Realms (any edition), but it's obviously incredibly useful to players and GMs as a tool (in the forms presented to them: setting books, player guides, modules, etc.).
  • I'm rather curious where folks got the idea that the theme of Planescape is "beliefs shape reality". It's "philosophers with clubs" with a smattering of wonder, secrets, and monsters are people too - there is a section in the original box set which states the themes of Planescape, I just wish I had that on hand at the moment.

    In any case, beliefs shape reality is the nuclear option for what happens in Planescape, so it's relevant but not something that should happen all the time, unlike say Mage: the Ascension.

    Personally I like my settings with a variety of themes - presented in a conflicted manner, not a unidirectional thematic statement. I like settings to spur questions and pondering.

    - Mendel

  • That's the "usable" bit, Mendel. The author might have a thesis, or she might just want the setting to be a tool for exploring a theme. Either way, the usefulness to the players is the ability for them to take sides on one or more arguments. The more, the merrier, right? As long as the whole thing is coherent.
  • edited August 2013
    On the other hand, I can't figure out the theme of The Forgotten Realms (any edition), but it's obviously incredibly useful to players and GMs as a tool (in the forms presented to them: setting books, player guides, modules, etc.).
    All my observations about theme and thesis? They're for me. They apply to me. They're what I find useful as a GM, or player or facilitator (summed up as "a participant in the setting"). I don't mean it as some objective truth about setting design.

    Absolutely FR has proven incredibly useful to participants. For me -- FR is boring as fuck and I find it incoherent to play in.
  • edited August 2013
    I don't think the "beliefs shape reality" bit was that hidden in Planescape. The philosophers with clubs were all involved in this bizarre postmodern struggle where if they could convince enough people that they were right, they would then become right, and in fact turn out to have been right all along. The blood war was ultimately a war over the right to interpret what it meant to be evil. The gate towns, as Eero mentioned, are the most obvious example, and the easiest for the players to affect. Similarly, the gods required believers to live, and died when they became forgotten. The theme may not have affected the characters' power sets or immediate ambitions in the way it does in Mage, but nonetheless the idea that belief shapes reality motivated basically all the major conflicts in the setting.
  • My point about FR was just that it's obvious that thematic coherence is hardly the only path to creating a useful setting.
  • Right on. I'd clarify that you're talking about stakes for the fictional characters of the world here, and maybe even the non-player characters rather than the player characters.

    It might be more useful to look at setting creation through the lens of what is at stake for the PCs. This is basically Situation, in Big Model terms, right? where Character meets Setting.
    Adam, let's be clear here : we will disagree (this is an argument I have already done here, in the past, and it is not well received). What I would be looking from you (or this community) : do you get what I'm trying to say (because, in part, this my what my own project does).
    Your first part is right on spot on what I have in mind ... now, the second part : I do believe, strongly (very strongly) that you need to know what's at stake in the world and for the main NPCs as to give meaningful sense to what at stake for the PCs.

    First, some theory, then an example.
    I'm really taking (seriously) an existentialist take on this (no joke) : for oneself to make sense of his own "life" (existence), he must take into account the strong anchor he has into the world (culture, language, stakes, history), and project it into a future time. Yes, time. That is the only way to give sense. That's why I need to know what's happening now, what's at stake at the moment. Otherwise, it wouldn't just make sense.
    Some points :
    - I believe, somehow, my position is much or less in accord with this article. You need history if you want a good story.
    - Of course, you can tell me that my position is some kind of "simulation" (yes, simulation) of the "real" existence we can experience. Something very complex, with somehow a world crushing us (don't you ever feel that way?). Now, you may say that's not the kind of things you want in a rpg ... fine. But that is exactly what I'm looking for.
    - time is the key here. I want stakes and a timeline (would your life have sense if there was no events in the world?), a tight schedule with hard choices.
    - it would come to a "multitude" of themes to explore that would overlap each other (something mention earlier here).

    Now, if you allow, a simple example :
    I just love stuff like this : "Does love and marriage override one's loyalty to a political cause?". That's great !!
    Now, what's the context? Let's say "Rome at the time of the end of the republic". Or "The united state at the time of the civil war". When I say at the time, it is truly at the time : there are events coming !! This is not a frozen setting !!!
    The situation might become very complex, and very quick. And the "Does love and marriage override one's loyalty to a political cause?" might soon become "how long can one stay blind to a false politic cause?".
    When you see sense inside a theme, I do see sense when themes compete (one is as good as the other, I'm just pointing a difference).

    Do you understand my position?

    Now, to achieve such a product, you'll have to come up with something different than greyhawk or FR.
    All my observations about theme and thesis? They're for me. They apply to me. They're what I find useful as a GM, or player or facilitator (summed up as "a participant in the setting"). I don't mean it as some objective truth about setting design.
    I agree with you, but I need more. I don't want to know what they are standing or waiting for. I want to know their plan, how do they do it, and how much time do the players have to oppose them if they want to. I want the characters to feel the world crushing them, rushing on them, being a living entity.

    Now, you might not be looking for this, but I am. This is how, as a DM I can give sense to a story (note : not frozen setting), and that's how my players give sense to the "existence" of their characters.

    Total disclaimer : my project is called ExiStanc3. That's why. No joke.
  • edited August 2013
    Even if I love Planescape, I must agree with the criticism raised here. I think the setting has really great ideas, that are poorly implemented.

    The factions are indeed innocuous as political parties, and the way they are setup in the city functions/offices dont promote any interesting conflict between them. With the possible exception of the 3 law-related ones (Guvners, Harmonium and Mercykillers ?) the other ones dont have conflicting positions nor interest in actual city politics, their acting spheres not crossing at all. Its all too static and sanityzing. And this tendency reflects to the whole setting (the text says how everything is constantly changing and in constant conflict, but in truth nothing really is);

    Also, the main setting theme (power of belief) is not manifested in the gameplay at all. At the very least, there should be some formal rule adressing that. (actualy, there IS one - the Belief Points from Planewalker Sourcebook - but its so simplistic and frankly poorly thought-out that it doesnt change much).

    Anyway, Planescape continue to be onw of the more fascinating settings for me.
  • Right on. I'd clarify that you're talking about stakes for the fictional characters of the world here, and maybe even the non-player characters rather than the player characters.

    It might be more useful to look at setting creation through the lens of what is at stake for the PCs. This is basically Situation, in Big Model terms, right? where Character meets Setting.
    Adam, let's be clear here : we will disagree (this is an argument I have already done here, in the past, and it is not well received). What I would be looking from you (or this community) : do you get what I'm trying to say (because, in part, this my what my own project does).
    Your first part is right on spot on what I have in mind ... now, the second part : I do believe, strongly (very strongly) that you need to know what's at stake in the world and for the main NPCs as to give meaningful sense to what at stake for the PCs.
    I don't think we disagree at all.

    You're saying that you have to understand NPC stakes to get to PC stakes. Yeah, I agree.

    I'm just saying that if you stop at NPC stakes and never get to PC stakes, that you're doing injustice to your players, because they're the actual, real people who will interact with your setting. And I'm pretty sure you agree there, too.


    I like your addition of requiring a social context to answer questions. Time and place matter immensely to such things, and they are the grist for the mill of any discussion of thesis. It's also what makes the setting interesting to players: layering the complexities that come out of multiple factions with different agendas all banging into your thematic questions from different angles.

    So yes, I think I understand your position.
    Now, to achieve such a product, you'll have to come up with something different than greyhawk or FR.
    Yeah. I won' t bash either of those settings though, because they do what they were designed to do (very well). I think we're just trying to do something different with our fantasy settings (and it's probably setting creation that facilitates Vanilla Narr play, if I had to guess -- and to use arcane Forge terms).

  • Well, Adam, glad we agree.

    Maybe a little thing :
    I'm not bashing FR or Greyhawk for their content, but more about their structure (and even here, it's not about bashing them). I'm just saying that long lists of characters and cities, with chapters based scenarios, just doesn't do it for me anymore.

    And speaking of "anymore", and I might be all wrong here, maybe it's a question of age. When I was younger, I was pleased to travel FR and go for "adventures".
    Now, I guess I'm looking for more serious stakes ...
  • edited August 2013
    I love Forgotten Realms, but it's more a place to pursue a theme created by a group than a place with a theme of its own. You might as well ask if GURPS' setting has a theme.

    The theme of my last Forgotten Realms game was "Being a rich, famous celebrity means a lot of hard dangerous work but damn it's SWEET!!!!!" The exclamation points were part of it.
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