Dealing with Setting Discontent

A setting can make or break a story. Sadly, the setting is a lot more rigid than the character; characters are expected to arc on a regular basis, and can usually do so with relatively minimal justification, but for precepts of a world or a culture to change generally requires a bit more of an impetus. This wouldn’t be a problem ordinarily, but if one or more people are starting to have issues with your setting, there might be a few things you can do to mitigate the issues without breaking the world entirely.

If the problem is with the culture—their priorities, their behavior, that sort of thing—it might do to introduce a character of a different sort, demonstrating that the people in wherever you’re running aren’t all the same. (Honestly, this is a good thing to do even if you don’t have disaffected players. Homogeneity is boring.) Particularly, you can figure out what the big issue with the current culture is and play directly against it; if players don’t like Trait X, there’s probably a not-Trait X that they’ll respond well to.

Consider also a change of location. This should work equally well on matters of culture, climate, local flora, local fauna, local flora with tendencies to attempt to eat local fauna, and—well, pretty much anything short of the laws of physics and metaphysics (though in some belief-based worlds or in settings with a tendency toward extreme variance, you could make a case for that, too). Most worlds aren’t going to be exactly the same everywhere you go—heck, some places aren’t the same a day’s journey away. If it’s the kind of thing that would logically be a localized problem, and a change of location won’t fix it, let’s just say you may need to reexamine your world-building process.

If what’s being objected to is the absence of a certain trait, and the trait itself is definitely a non-starter, see if there’s anything you can do to approximate it. You’re not always going to get one to one correspondences, but it’s still worth asking, particularly if you can figure out what it is about the missing thing that the person likes and what can be done that might come close.

Settings may be harder to change, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t do anything about people having problems with them.

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