Setting is a topic I’ll return, and that’s why I gave this one a number. With regards to tabletop gaming, what is setting? This is probably one of the first things we’ll need to tackle, so it will be the first thing I address in these posts.
Like a lot of jargon in gaming, “setting” gets kicked about a lot. It tends to be discussed in terms that are synonymous to world-building. Are they the same? Not really. Are the only used in conjunction with each other? Not really.
A recipe for confusion to be sure.
However, “setting” matters. A dictionary definition is the place or type of surroundings where something is positioned or where an event takes place. (Used “Define “Setting” as my search terms in Google for this definition.)
That definition is broad, but I often see setting as the immediate place where a game takes place. Not so much the “world” of the game, but the particular locales. A place like “Waterdeep” in Dungeons and Dragons is a good example. It’s just one place, but it can host a game perfectly.
The reason I think it’s important to consider setting for gaming is that the circumstances that surround the characters will help drive the game. For example, in a novel, a writer can use setting to drive the story. By explaining the immediate surroundings a mood can be created. Concepts that motive the characters can be introduced, even if nothing is actually happening to the protagonists. Taking setting to heart can make a big difference on a game. I think that, no matter what kind of game you want to play, taking the time to create, or understand where the story is to take place will really make a difference.