Saturday, June 4, 2016

P5 Primer, Part 1 People, & Places

P5 Primer, Part 1
People, & Places
By: Jesse C Cohoon

The P5: People, Places, Possessions, Powers, and Plot RPG engine is not meant to replace other roleplaying systems, but to help you by giving ideas as to what you might need and further define what is there providing the people, places, powers, possessions and plots for your game. It’s designed to streamline worldbuilding by helping to create vibrant locales, interesting characters, and complex, crazy plots for your games, both traditional and nontraditional. By using the P5 system, you’re able to take your world from concept to fully fleshed out form in five easy steps that should make world creation a breeze.

At the broadest sense, people are the characters that are in the world – both player characters (PCs) and non-player characters (NPCs). These are the roles, traits, and types of people that make your world truly alive. But when examining P5, don’t limit yourself to one type of personality type. People are very complex and may have many facets. Use as many as you think helps to describe the person you’re portraying – but keep in mind that more may not necessarily be better. It’s better to have more characters with fewer traits than to have fewer with more because the more categories a character can fit into, the less you’re able to make them shine because the few you have can do it all. 

When doing your own people for the P5 engine, think of all the appropriate types and broad categories of people that exist within the world that you’re creating and list them out, providing a short description for each. As you’re making these categories, try to make sure that there’s no significant overlap (there may be some in that categories are artificial and don’t exist in real life).  

Also, keep in mind that people aren’t limited to humanoids. This includes all the sentient and non-sentient monsters in your game as well.  

Once you have the people figured out for your campaign, you can start to give them stats, if your system uses such a thing. If you’re the type of a GM who has difficulty making names, nicknames, and or titles for the characters in your game, it’s also useful to provide a name generator there as well.

Places are the locations in your world. But don’t think of strictly outdoor places such as forests, mountains and streams. Places can also be movable things such as the tinker’s traveling wagon, the touring circus’ Big Top, the revival tent set up at the edge of town. They can be the rooms of the inn, the campfire around which they tell scary stories, the kitchen of the inn, and the grand ballroom of the duke. Places can be as specific or as broad as you want them to be, but the common thread when trying to pin down places to list for the P5 engine is to ask yourself:

  •  Where are the PCs likely to visit?
  •  How important is this place?
  • How much detail do I need to provide?

Answering these questions can be as simple as figuring out where the NPCs the PCs will be able to interact with to as complex as defining the rooms and parts of a castle and its surroundings or the layout of a dungeon. By doing so, you’ll know the necessary level of detail you need in order to provide your characters. In doing the P5 books, I base locations off of what’s absolutely necessary for the subject matter and present the information in broad strokes, as I figure that the individual DMs can provide the needed details when necessary.

 Next time, more about my P5 RPG engine. 



  1. Hello. Im new to your site, but i have a system that kind of works like this, only focused on different mental focus points.
    1: background. Remind the players what the location looks like. Keeps the whole group focused.
    2: movement. Things like merchant carts always crowding streets as they pass by. Crowds rioting. This adds action to the background.
    3: play. Conversations that propel the scenario by allowing players to interact as living characters. Joining the story.
    I like your ideas, and i plan on bookmarking your site and using your reminders. Thank you for your time.

    1. I'm glad that you like the ideas contained herein. I'm basically trying to show how to build a world in very broad strokes, and the DMs can fill in the finite details themselves, or, if they don't want to leave the details up to the imagination(s) of their players.

    2. Same here. I just use mind tricks to keep narration going, as opposed to detailed backgrounds. Combining the two makes a complete dm. I mean, thats the idea right? Thanks again. :-)

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