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Cernor
2016-09-24, 06:51 PM
Considering there are two threads actively debating the philosophy of setting design, that got me wondering: for those of you DMing, what setting do you play in? How much of your setting is homebrew, and how much has been shamelessly "borrowed" from published material?

Personally, I'm running a game for D&D 5e set in a homebrew world called Nyth: at some point in the distant past it may have been part of the Forgotten Realms (or other generic fantasy analogue), but a magical catastrophe splintered a continent and cast the shards into a realm of pure chaos. These shards range from a few feet to hundreds of miles in diameter, and Nyth is one of the largest. The party's homeland uses a map of the Nentir Vale with the details changed... And most importantly, the common folk know nothing about magic: they hate and despise it and its practitioners, so wizards have to be careful about casting flashy spells lest they attract a lynch mob.

Tell me about your settings!

Kelb_Panthera
2016-09-24, 10:32 PM
For me, the world itself is mostly home brew. My interest in the metaplot of the published settings is mostly reserved for my fiction reading. I do, occasionally borrow some stuff if it strikes me as really interesting like the continent of sarlonna in the eberron campaign setting. Otherwise I just make up places and people as I need them.

BWR
2016-09-24, 10:49 PM
I run Mystara, but I don't stick to the Known World and have played a bit loosely with canon. I placed the Thunder Rift between Glantri and Wendar, have thrown in the Icewind Dale on Skothar (I needed a quick mini-campaign so I stole the Icewind Dale 2 story) and I threw in Freeport off the Serpent Peninsula (I needed another mini campaign and that was a place to start).

I briefly ran an L5R game with some fairly radical changes to canon. Most of this was de-retconning some official things, some of it was getting rid of official nonsense without replacement. and a little was my own addition. These changes wouldn't really impact play in any meaningful way but they made me happier.

We played Dragonlance for many years, where the War of the Lance never happened.

Anderlith
2016-09-24, 11:15 PM
I've always used my own homebrew, though usually its never a big location. Though i've used greyhawks gods before. Now im creating my own large world from scratch with an over arching timeline of eras. One where there is a civil war, one with enormous magical megacities, one where the sun has been destroyed & one where the very earth was torn asunder, a few more but harder to give the, an elevator pitch. I have campaign ideas for each era & hope that the players enjoy seeing the world change. Im also crafting my own pantheon borrowing from Dark Souls, Brandon Sanderson, greek & nordic myth, & other sources.

Dragonexx
2016-09-24, 11:21 PM
I generally create my own settings for D&D games, though it uses the planescape cosmology (though altered).

Vrock_Summoner
2016-09-24, 11:34 PM
Huh. This is sort of borderline between being RPGeneral and Worldbuilding, methinks, but I'll take it.

I've got two main settings for gaming right now, one of which I'm using for an ongoing campaign.

The first is a D&D 3.5 setting based on Incarnum. I'm not terribly fond of D&D in general and absolutely loathe 3.5, but I have enough love for how Incarnum works within it that I don't know if I consider it worth the effort to transfer it to any of the several TTRPG systems I'd much prefer playing in. So for now 3.5 is where it stays.

The setting was in many ways designed to be a huge facade overlaying a bunch of conspiracy theories. It's got the makings of generic fantasy on the surface - it's got roughly medieval technology, a bunch of different kingdoms with similar religious views competing over mundane resources like farmland and good mining spots, some tribal groups in the plains, ruins and artifacts from a greater time, earth-based crafter dwarves, magically talented and long-lived elves, tinkerer gnomes, a multitude of low-intelligence humanoid savages as a threat - but the veil is eroding at the seams, and any close inquiry will immediately reveal that something seems off.

The savage humanoids aren't monstrous "others," like orcs or minotaurs, but just corrupted (Lost) versions of the various regular humanoids, and they all worship the "archdemons of the earth" together underground with wraiths and soul eaters. There are no regular humans, only azurins. Those elves may be long-lived, but they only learn and gain in maturity at a proportional rate, causing them to almost immediately fall behind shorter-lived peers, and their talent with Incarnum seems tied to their moderate schizophrenia and extreme susceptibility to becoming Lost. Those gnomes are hairless, knobby, and the things they do to repair and tinker with items are nonsense that don't work when performed by other races. Those dwarves are the only ones who can craft magic items - no other race can - and the tribal dwarves' totem-based religion is the only living religion that seems to get a supernatural response, though the Losts' religious artifacts and those found in the ancient ruins both possess strange, seemingly divine powers as well. The strongest known beings in the setting, dubbed the archdemons of the earth by mainstream society, don't seem to do much more than wander around underground getting worshipped by the Lost and occasionally corrupting a patch of surface land above them. And anybody who uses the right soulmeld to see into the ethereal plane will find that there's practically a sea of spirits swarming around the planet constantly, only breaking from their hustle around the surface to sometimes, in large groups, dive underground for no apparent reason, often (though not always) being tainted and twisted into wraiths as a result.

There are other mysteries, of course. The setting is kind of one giant conspiracy theory on top of another. But those are the very visible things that get people looking to see what's really going on.

The other setting is for the high-powered Mutants & Masterminds setting I'm running a campaign in right now. It's much easier to summarize in an understandable way, thankfully.

There are some beings, called the Creators, who designed the laws of physics and brought the universe into existence. They kind of came from a supercomputer of non-existence, it's weird and complicated so I won't go into the metaphysics here. They wanted to maintain power in their creation, so they tied the ability to manipulate the universe to the one thing they all had in common - intelligence. Then they made a huge slew of servants, called the Angels, to oversee the ongoing functionality of aforementioned laws of physics on a local level while they dealt with big-picture maintenance. These Angels varied widely in power and form based on their role, ranging from godlike beings with total mastery over electrical energy to tiny sprites who make sure that water vibrates the right way when microorganisms swim through it.

The Creators had expected life to pop up in their universe, and indeed it did in many places, but where Earth caught them by surprise was that it became the only planet whose life gained intelligence, allowing those humans and animals possessing it to affect their surroundings intentionally, rather than just as a result of chemical autopilot. Small groups of humans occasionally discovered this ability to manipulate the universe, and learned to harness it, gaining psychic powers. Still, they were few and far between throughout history.

So one of the Creators, thoroughly fed up with how boring the other Creators have been for the last fourteen billion years, goes to Earth and tries to connect humans' minds to that supercomputer of non-existence so they can exert as much control over reality as the Creators do. The attempt is botched and ends up tearing a massive hole in the universe, through which any and all things that were prevented from existing by this universe's laws of physics can come through. These "void beings" instinctually hate the psychic/cosmic power possessed by earth life, the Angels, and the Creators because that power is what had kept them from existing.

So they attempt to tear the universe a new one, and the only ones strong enough to fight them are the Creators themselves, the strongest Angels, and a few earthling and ghostly Anomalies who got strange, mighty abilities and mutations from the botched attempt to boost humanity as a whole. Meanwhile, the people on Earth deal with the increased number of psychic supervillains and ongoing bizarre effects that happened in the wake of the cosmic disaster. (In some ways, the attempt wasn't completely botched... Earth did become a substantially more psychic place.)

Those're mine, anyway. Hope you find 'em interesting.

2D8HP
2016-09-24, 11:57 PM
My two favorite settings are:
JoeJ's
A Knights in Shining Armor Campaign for 5e (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?487603-A-Knights-in-Shining-Armor-Campaign-for-5e)

And my own:
Magic Lost and Reborn (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?487606-Magic-Lost-and-Reborn)

Some of my favorite setting genre's are:
1) Swords and Sorcery
2) Swashbuckling
3) Arthurian
4) Gaslamp Fantasy
5) Planetary Romance
6) Steampunk
7) Raygun Gothic
8) Viking

My least favorite genres are:
1) Modern-day anything
2) Dystopian Near Future
3) Dystopian Far Future

I liked the old World of Greyhawk (https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/0935696237/ref=mp_s_a_1_295?ie=UTF8&qid=1472092695&sr=8-295&pi=AC_SX236_SY340_FMwebp_QL65&keywords=tsr+dungeons+dragons) setting.
Even though Pathfinder is not a rules system I would prefer, the "Inner Sea "setting looks interesting to me.
I like the settings for the "7th Sea" game, the "(King Arthur) Pendragon" game, and the "Castle Falkenstein" game.

Even though I have great fun playing 5e DnD, I'd like it better if the default "Forgotten Realms" setting was a bit different. I'd like no "Factions", and none of the DMPC's (Elminster & co.).

The Bandicoot
2016-09-25, 01:36 AM
I usually do a homebrew world that gets fleshed out as the campaign continues. I usually start out with 1/4 to 1/2 the starting continent planned out as well as a vague idea of the world's history. More or less gets planned before the first session depending on how character creation goes.

Kiero
2016-09-25, 05:18 AM
My favourite "setting" is history. Straight, with no magic, monsters or fantastical nonsense.

nyjastul69
2016-09-25, 08:49 AM
For D&D games I usually use Greyhawk, Kingdoms of Kalamar or Forgotten Realms. For any other system I use the default setting.

Vrock_Summoner
2016-09-25, 09:17 AM
My favourite "setting" is history. Straight, with no magic, monsters or fantastical nonsense.
To be honest, I can't imagine your games going much differently from a typical Oregon Trail session. But maybe that's my own fault.

"Your wound from cutting your hand on a rock last week has festered and grown infected.

When urinating on your hand doesn't seem to fix the problem, your party attempts an amputation. None of them are doctors.

You have died of blood loss."

Or, more commonly:

"You suddenly begin to suffer from rampant diarrhea. Unable to maintain any water in your systems for very long, you quickly dehydrate.

You have died of dysentery."

nrg89
2016-09-25, 09:18 AM
I run my own setting which is mostly based on bronze age city states and empires. I don't use D20 so I can make it a bit more pulpy.

When I use D20 I use a very modified version of Planescape. I have an empire of wizards and artificiers that spans multiple planes thrown into the mix (yes, I allow the 3.5 artificier because if I play 3.5 I'm fully prepared for min-maxing, might as well have access to some of the heavy artillery myself) along with a faction of illithids.

I'm trying to get my group interested in a steam punk campaign but so far they're not biting.

Inevitability
2016-09-25, 09:30 AM
I've run games in a heavily modified FR setting before, but I tend to create my own worlds (with lots of subverted cliches) most of the time. That said, I'd kill for a chance to play eberron.

Kiero
2016-09-25, 02:27 PM
To be honest, I can't imagine your games going much differently from a typical Oregon Trail session. But maybe that's my own fault.

"Your wound from cutting your hand on a rock last week has festered and grown infected.

When urinating on your hand doesn't seem to fix the problem, your party attempts an amputation. None of them are doctors.

You have died of blood loss."

Or, more commonly:

"You suddenly begin to suffer from rampant diarrhea. Unable to maintain any water in your systems for very long, you quickly dehydrate.

You have died of dysentery."

Ah, this old canard. Sorry, but that speaks more to the quality of your imagination, than the scope of possibilities without magic.

There are many historical figures who lead incredible lives, without the crutch of magic to get them through tough times and patch them up after things went wrong. Not to mention many more ordinary people who went through those same experiences and survived.

EccentricCircle
2016-09-25, 02:36 PM
I enjoy reading published settings for ideas and inspiration, but I never run games set in those worlds, or borrow things verbatim from them. I prefer to build my own world, as I find it far more satisfying to tune the details to the way I want the campaign to work.
I find that the time it takes to learn all of the ins and outs of a world is better spent coming up with something new.

My current campaign has a Silk Road setting. I've run lots of games in this world before, but mainly in the Middle Eastern and European themed regions, so this time they are going to be traveling from one end of the world to the other. Different players in the group have been to different lands before, so this should be a good way to expand their world and show them the context. I also want to draw inspiration from areas of history which don't get as much attention. Pseudo Chinese and Japanese settings are fairly common so I want to take them to some other places as well. I've started them off in an area which is drawing inspiration from Timbuktu and West Africa, and plan to detail more areas with a Persian, Indian and Cambodian theme as the campaign progresses.

I've been drawing on some RPG setting material, but the more useful reading has been in actual history books. I'm currently reading both Marco Polo and Ibn Battutah, which both contain numerous adventure hooks for travelers.

Khaiel
2016-09-25, 03:23 PM
When I run Anima, I usually used it's standard setting. The system was made with that specific setting in hand, so it works fairly well. The setting being fairly well developed without having an asphyxiating canon really helps.

When running D&D I usually go for one of the three homebrew settings I have, although I've GM'd in FR (Despite my distaste for said setting).

Vrock_Summoner
2016-09-25, 03:29 PM
Ah, this old canard. Sorry, but that speaks more to the quality of your imagination, than the scope of possibilities without magic.

There are many historical figures who lead incredible lives, without the crutch of magic to get them through tough times and patch them up after things went wrong. Not to mention many more ordinary people who went through those same experiences and survived.
Don't misunderstand me. One of my favorite RPGs, Ars Magica, has magical characters going through non-magical, mostly historically accurate medieval Europe. The main thing that it changes to make it more fantasy-appropriate is that things such as medicine and disease worked the way people back then thought they did, meaning the number of "wow, what a stupid, avoidable death" scenarios go down immensely without really altering lifespans much. Truly accurate historical settings, while certainly possible to survive and thrive in (ref: people still exist) have a very different type of tension than more fictionalized variants, where acquiring simple diseases and minor injuries, things that can be glanced over in most types of games, are instead fairly dire situations, which in turn extremely reduces the likelihood that your favorite character will die specifically at a narrative climactic moment.

Afgncaap5
2016-09-25, 08:32 PM
I have a home setting called Cantadel for most of my D&D 3.5 and 5e games. It's a pretty generic setting, I think, but I think a few specific pointers can be brought out...

For starters, a couple villains...
-Thuzdek the Undying: a kind of psychic mummy who was able to create bifurcations of himself, so that there would always be more of him around if his corporeal vessel died. So, you have many thousand beings who all claim to be Thuzdek, and all of them are correct. While they all agree that the "original" Thuzdek is the leader, they generally live their own existences, being Thuzdek in their own way elsewhere (many aren't even human or undead. Thuzdek is also a number of powerful young dragons, a merman, a sentient lion, and many unspeakable things that should not be among others.) Whichever Thuzdek you deal with, know that Thuzdek controls an entire continent, and a great amount of territory on other continents. He was a deplorable villain despised by all who knew his name when he first conquered those territories, but over the past few thousand years people have just grown to accept that he's the one in charge of those places. He's still villainous and a schemer, but he's also an institution at this point.
-Braxton Barnes is a low-grade magician who's never really been taken seriously but has the potential to be a big problem. He's a little too wiry to truly rock the traditional wizard robe and pointy hat (he prefers greens and blues), but he's noticed by many thanks to his koala familiar, that mostly keeps to itself on his hat. Braxton is usually a lackey of wealthy thieves guilds or powerful nobles or others who are acting as the "real" villains, but he's made a name for himself among humanoids; your average person in the street hasn't heard of him, but the people they *have* heard of usually have. The same can't be said for his familiar, though: the koala doesn't move much, but has a strange aptitude for organizing other koalas and their kin (including the monstrous Drop Bears) into surprisingly capable ambushes. Other koalas and drop bears know the familiar, though they don't talk much (and are fortunately limited to certain places in the world.)
-Xol, queen of flame and fey, is the inventor of "The Flame that Burns Lives". Certain sinister fairies and fire creatures obey her as if it's a natural part of existence, much as a human might obey "the need to breathe". She doesn't need to order a red dragon to destroy that village, she just entertains the notion long enough for the red dragon to do so. It was the red dragon's idea, after all.
-The Falcon Queen is the leader of a surprisingly non-magical nation, and is highly paranoid about the magic rich nations that exist nearby. Named for her love of hunting and falconry (and certainly aided by her skill with a bow, unparalleled even by those divine beings who have tested her), she's made certain deals with elemental figures from other realities, such as the genie Lord Fulgurite, who believes that her paranoia will lead to international incidents that will fuel the chaos that makes his chosen element, Storm, more powerful.



Then there's magic...
-I have a semi-built NPC class called The Magician who acts as a sort of arcane (more on that later) counterpart to The Adept (though sometimes Eberron's Magewright class can fill in the gap depending on if I'm going for a "Let's call the magic handyman" approach instead of a "Let's consult the hermit who lives on the mountain" kind of thing.) This handles everyone from the "mighty wizard" who's little more than a commoner who can cast Levitate and Burning Hands, to the guy who's the world's greatest diviner and fortune teller as long as he's inebriated. Wizards and Clerics are rare enough that most people won't have ever met a member of those classes personally (though might've walked by one in a crowded city and not known it), but most people know where the nearest Adept or Magician or Magewright lives.
-There are dozens, if not hundreds, of kinds of known magic, and "arcane" magic itself is just an umbrella term for a wide array of practices and traditions. Wizardry and most other arcane-magic users know how to process the magic that is usually considered to be in the wheelhouse of other sorts of casters, but they've compartmentalized them into being spells. So, a wizard casting Telekinesis may well be using Psionics, Power Word Pain is almost certainly Truenaming, Magic Weapon and Fire Shield might (but won't always, see below) tap into Incarnum, Darkness and Shadow Step probably uses Shadow magic, and Protection From Evil can sometimes represent a Wizard who's made a connection with a divine force, and while he or she may not be a true adherent to whatever this entity is, the Wizard has a part of his or her mind or soul that's at peace with how that being sees the world, at least enough that it can grant certain protections. There are many, many other forms of magic than just these, though, many without any given class that's mastered them, though wizards and artificers are often the ones best equipped to tinker with them.
-The Motif Table: I don't have a good name for this and haven't described it much in-game, but as a background element of magic, one popular theory among Wizards and Artificers and some others is that magic (or at least, certain kinds of it) are fueled by motif that are generated from platonic ideals of things. A candle-mage might derive magic from candles and how they are designed, while a mirror-mage might truly understand mirrors to a great degree. Whether there's actually something to this theory, or if it's just a good model to look at things and understand how they work is something that no mage can truly say to have determined (ie., I haven't decided myself yet.)
-Different Methods: Related to how there's a lot of different magics, a lot of them produce similar results. I made a custome pyromancer prestige class, and one of its prerequisites is knowing at least three versions of the same fire spell (so one might have a copy of Burning Hands that balances the frictive forces in the air itself, one that channels energy directly from the elemental plane of fire, and another that works due to a prayer spoken to a god of fire could all work out.) Magic doesn't necessarily work in the same ways, which can sometimes mean that one caster's magic might be snuffed out, while another still has some functional spells that work in different ways.

I could probably talk more, but I think that's more than enough for now.

Professor Chimp
2016-09-26, 07:03 AM
I DM and play in a homebrew setting called Aldarun, a collaborative effort between me and another DM/player.

It takes place on a continent that is very roughly equivalent to late medieval Europe/Middle East, but takes liberal inspiration from numerous other sources, including various historical cultures form around the world, Discworld (including a major trade metropolis that is a cross between medieval Baghdad and a veiled expy of Ankh-Morpork), Wheel of Time, Dune, Metroid and many more.

weckar
2016-09-26, 07:14 AM
Don't misunderstand me. One of my favorite RPGs, Ars Magica, has magical characters going through non-magical, mostly historically accurate medieval Europe. The main thing that it changes to make it more fantasy-appropriate is that things such as medicine and disease worked the way people back then thought they did, meaning the number of "wow, what a stupid, avoidable death" scenarios go down immensely without really altering lifespans much. Truly accurate historical settings, while certainly possible to survive and thrive in (ref: people still exist) have a very different type of tension than more fictionalized variants, where acquiring simple diseases and minor injuries, things that can be glanced over in most types of games, are instead fairly dire situations, which in turn extremely reduces the likelihood that your favorite character will die specifically at a narrative climactic moment.Lethality is actually an appeal to some players rather than a deterrant. Combat is a last option, because it is as likely to kill as any injury complications that follow. And depending on when you set things in history, there is plenty room for badassery (Late-Egyptian, anyone?)

Cernor
2016-09-26, 04:21 PM
My current campaign has a Silk Road setting. I've run lots of games in this world before, but mainly in the Middle Eastern and European themed regions, so this time they are going to be traveling from one end of the world to the other. Different players in the group have been to different lands before, so this should be a good way to expand their world and show them the context. I also want to draw inspiration from areas of history which don't get as much attention. Pseudo Chinese and Japanese settings are fairly common so I want to take them to some other places as well. I've started them off in an area which is drawing inspiration from Timbuktu and West Africa, and plan to detail more areas with a Persian, Indian and Cambodian theme as the campaign progresses.

This sounds like great fun. Is this a mainly historical Silk Road, or a fantasy equivalent? And also, is the game mostly focused site-to-site, or on the travel between those places?

Mark Hall
2016-09-26, 05:12 PM
I default to the Forgotten Realms (pre-TOT, but with Kelemvor as a god of the dead), but am becoming more interested in Kalamar.

Zaydos
2016-09-26, 05:13 PM
Currently I'm running a pair of modules to test homebrew via PbP so umm... Elsir Vale from RHoD, and... well I decided to throw a mini-adventure on the way to Barovia so... a homebrew desert.

In general the only official campaign settings I've ever really considered running are Spelljammer (with custom crystal spheres), Ravenloft (set out in the Isles of Dread so I could throw in my own domains willy nilly), Exalted's Creation, and I have actually run Planescape.

Usually, though, I make my own setting and maybe use Greyhawk deities, or more often really weirdly twisted versions of real world deities (Tyr and Thor as the sons of the Elder God of Power whose name cannot be heard or uttered by mortals without them dying and Gaia the Elder Goddess of the World who also mothered Enyalius with the Elder God of Death and Abaddon with the Elder God of Destruction... oh and Thoth the Elder God of Magic had 3 children Hecate, Tsukiyomi, and Isis who were each moon deities and deities of magic). In my defense I'm not sure my versions were any more off-base than Deities and Demigods' versions (now 2e's Legend Lore was much better than either Deities and Demigods).

And now I want to run the 3 Worlds again (technically it was 4 overlapping Primes but one of those was hard to reach and infested with illithids).

VoxRationis
2016-09-26, 05:31 PM
I typically come up with my own settings, and I enjoy fleshing them out quite thoroughly well prior to play. Part of this is because I tend to have few opportunities to actually play, while I can craft a setting pretty much whenever I have downtime.

Knaight
2016-09-26, 06:09 PM
I tend to do broad strokes settings that get filled in later. This makes having a new setting easy, and as such I go through a lot of settings. There's straight historical, fantasy, science fiction, allegory, the list goes on.

Tiktakkat
2016-09-26, 10:55 PM
Greyhawk, with lots of personalization and campaign result timeline advancement.

Pugwampy
2016-09-27, 06:44 AM
I use a 3.5 / PF hybrid so the worlds either Forgotten Realms or Golarion usually linked just for a World Map and Pantheon convenience .

My hub towns are "homebrew" and I put it on world map somewhere. I made Thelenea a Fairytown , Palaschuk Underground Half Orc city and a small basic human town called Griffonford . I enjoy my home brew towns evolving when new players are introduced .

Yora
2016-09-27, 08:34 AM
My setting is 100% homebrew. But with 99% I can say exactly where I got the idea from. There is very little that is genuinely new and original.

Doc Filth
2016-09-27, 09:42 AM
Forgotten Realms, 3.5 "present", and I'm very strict about sticking to published canon. My attitude is, if the designers have spent so long creating the world, who am I to contradict their work?

Dr_Dinosaur
2016-09-27, 10:18 AM
We're in the process of creating a setting (through both discussion and play) at the moment. It borrows a lot from Xefas' Mythos setting (which in turn takes from Exalted) and has piecemeal bits of other settings sprinkled here and there when we really like an idea and it fits. Meadshire and Alaran from Thrilling Intent's world, Pharasma (now an angel) and the tower of souls from Golarion, etc. Also a LOT from aboriginal American mythologies blended in with everything.

The Duerrow live like termites in the earth working their mysterious magics, guarded from the creatures drawn through the rifts to it by their shadowy protectors the Duergar. Mankind is beginning a dangerous industrial revolution, forging great machines from metal tainted by the fragment of a dead Titan that lies beneath their homeland while mysterious creatures of crystal and steel are stirring in the mountains to the north. The twee Aelvari, still reeling from the great disaster decades ago that tore the continent asunder and caused a third of their population to disappear, are now dealing with the rise of the mysterious phenomenon known as Samsara, by which their reincarnation cycle fails to rejuvenate the mind, and the encroachment of the southern jungle's insectoid horrors. To the far east, the yokai tribes vie with the imperial drives of the humans for their ancestral lands in a time of ill omens.

In the center of the Manifold Valence that shields Creation from the void that spawned its creators, a group of newly-ascended demigods trigger a chain reaction that sends tremors through the Third World. Gods fall, bereft of their divinity. The Inexorable advance of a newborn Titan punches holes in the golden shields that partition reality, causing these valences to bleed together and tears to open for unspeakable things to slip through. The denizens of the abyss gaze upwards and see not the eternal blackness of the sky but a night ablaze with the emerald flames of its approach, and the flesh of their home sings in anticipation.

I'm also beginning to formulate another setting based primarily on works from the Romantic period, especially Coleridge, but all our various one-off settings in the past have been established as taking place on different layers of this magic Dyson Sphere reality exists in within the main setting.

EccentricCircle
2016-09-27, 03:55 PM
This sounds like great fun. Is this a mainly historical Silk Road, or a fantasy equivalent? And also, is the game mostly focused site-to-site, or on the travel between those places?

It is very much a fantasy world. I wanted to avoid pure counterpart cultures, so started by creating the physical geography and then assigning cultural elements to the regions most likely to give rise to those sorts of civilizations (based on the small dataset which is earth's history). That way the historical interactions are quite different, such as the nomadic Khanate ending up with control of the north african inspired areas.

The game is only just getting started, so it could go in a few different ways depending on what the players decide to do. My plan is for there to be a short campaign arc in each country they visit, but where and when they go to those places will be up to them, as will what sorts of cargoes they plan to transport and thus what profit they make. Its starting out at mid levels, but I expect it to end up as a high level "kingmaker" type game, so I have an overarching plot driven by the politics of a collapsing khanate, which will affect various places they might go, and which they could get involved in in a number of ways. The empire may or may not actually collapse depending on how the PC's get involved.

Normally I write a short campaign setting booklet when I introduce a new setting, but this time all of the setting information i've given them so far has been in the form of journal entries by an ambassador's daughter writing about the lands she's visisted. So there's quite a lot of faulty assumptions and misinformation. I've also drawn two maps, a geographically accurate one for myself, and a more mappa mundi style map for the players. so they might be in for some surprises if they try to cross certain deserts, or sail for certain islands based on the information they have at the start. (The players know that their in-character knowledge might not be reliable,I wouldn't recommend doing something like that unless you know the group will enjoy it. Some players appreciate that sort of challenge, others definitely wouldn't).

It will be interesting to see how the campaign evolves and what choices the characters make. There are several conflicts which they could end up on either side of, so I'm looking forward to seeing what they will do.

Tvtyrant
2016-09-27, 03:58 PM
Of published settings I like Forgotten Realms, but I tend to be very post-apoc in my own settings. Both of these get old after a while.

I tried to do a collaborative setting with my players once but they were too lazy and basically just gave me a list of things they didn't want (which collectively was anything at all).

BWR
2016-09-27, 04:11 PM
Forgot to mention I have also run Star Wars, Dragonstar and the Laundry universe. I want to return to all of them at some point but I only have real plans for the Laundry.

SirBellias
2016-09-27, 05:25 PM
Always built as part of character creation. Applying Apocalypse World tools to decrease the amount of work I need to do just seems obvious at this point.

GungHo
2016-09-28, 12:09 PM
Homebrew, but I reserve the right to "adapt" (plagiarize) things like maps and ideas from some popular settings. Like a wasteland created by the misdeeds of halflings, dwarves and elves being birthed from the earth as animated stone and plants that eventually became alive, and greenskins (orckin, goblinioids) being invaders from another world. And of course, humans are special by virtue of there nothing being special about them beyond being fecund sociopaths.

2D8HP
2016-09-28, 01:18 PM
I'm finding more and more that I like either a blank slate Swords and Sorcery setting, which from a PC's perspective at first only consists of "the village we grew up in", the market town", and "beyond here, they be Dragons",or, a "Fantasy Europe" setting, such as used in the 7th Sea, Castle Falkenstein, and Warhammer games.
But really any setting I use started with:

100 years ago the sorcerer Zenopus built a tower on the low hills overlooking Portown. The tower was close to the sea cliffs west of the town and, appropriately, next door to the graveyard.

Rumor has it that the magician made extensive cellars and tunnels underneath the tower. The town is located on the ruins of a much older city of doubtful history and Zenopus was said to excavate in his cellars in search of ancient treasures.

Fifty years ago, on a cold wintry night, the wizard's tower was suddenly engulfed in green flame. Several of his human servants escaped the holocaust, saying their rnaster had been destroyed by some powerful force he had unleashed in the depths of the tower.
Needless to say the tower stood vacant fora while afterthis, but then the neighbors and the night watchmen comploined that ghostly blue lights appeared in the windows at night, that ghastly screams could be heard emanating from the tower ot all hours, and goblin figures could be seen dancina on the tower roof in the moonlight. Finally the authorities had a catapult rolled through the streets of the town and the tower was battered to rubble. This stopped the hauntings but the townsfolk continue to shun the ruins. The entrance to the old dungeons can be easily located as a flight of broad stone steps leading down into darkness, but the few adventurous souls who hove descended into crypts below the ruin have either reported only empty stone corridors or have failed to return at all.
Other magic-users have moved into the town but the site of the old tower remains abandoned.
Whispered tales are told of fabulous treasure and unspeakable monsters in the underground passages below the hilltop, and the story tellers are always careful to point out that the reputed dungeons lie in close proximity to the foundations of the older, pre-human city, to the graveyard, and to the sea.
Portown is a small but busy city 'linking the caravan routes from the south to the merchscant ships that dare the pirate-infested waters of the Northern Sea. Humans and non-humans from all over the globe meet here.
At he Green Dragon Inn, the players of the game gather their characters for an assault on the fabulous passages beneath the ruined Wizard's tower.

:biggrin:

None better for me, even after 38 years!

Cluedrew
2016-09-28, 02:42 PM
You know I was thinking I don't have much to contribute to this conversation because every single on of my games has taken place in a homebrew setting.

But then I realized that A) that fact is not quite true, I have played a session in on official setting and as many as 2 more in what may have been an official setting (it was generic enough to be) and B) that might be an interesting point in its own.

I don't know why, but almost no one I have ever played with (and myself included) has ever bothered with a published setting. They either used generic locations, made it up as they went or used a setting the had prepared themselves. I'm not quite sure why, maybe world building is popular in my area, I know that I would (almost) never use an existing setting because that would rob me of the opportunity to make one.

MrZJunior
2016-09-28, 03:37 PM
The latest setting I have run takes place in a sort of fantasy counterpart to South East Asia. Lots of statelets with poorly defined borders, and pirates, lots of pirates. There is a fantasy counterpart to China and a sort of combination between the Ottoman Empire and India somewhere off the map, but they are mostly there to fill out the setting.

The world has thousands of small islands floating in the air over an endless sea far bellow, people travel between these islands on flying ships. Some places the islands are larger, in the part of the world where the game was taking place they are very small.

The religion is basically Hinduism taken whole cloth from our world.

I have been basing the precursor civilizations architecture on Cambodian temples like Angkor Wat.



Normally I write a short campaign setting booklet when I introduce a new setting, but this time all of the setting information i've given them so far has been in the form of journal entries by an ambassador's daughter writing about the lands she's visisted. So there's quite a lot of faulty assumptions and misinformation. I've also drawn two maps, a geographically accurate one for myself, and a more mappa mundi style map for the players. so they might be in for some surprises if they try to cross certain deserts, or sail for certain islands based on the information they have at the start. (The players know that their in-character knowledge might not be reliable,I wouldn't recommend doing something like that unless you know the group will enjoy it. Some players appreciate that sort of challenge, others definitely wouldn't).


That sounds so cool! I have struggled with how to introduce imperfect knowledge into games before, it sounds like you have found a good way.