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    Ogre in the Playground
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    Feb 2011

    Default What Do You Want In A Campaign Setting?

    Completely open-ended question, and I'm expecting a range of tastes and opinions.

    What catches your eye in a campaign setting? What draws you in and keeps you there, and what do you find most rewarding about any given setting?

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Honest Tiefling's Avatar

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    Jun 2011

    Default Re: What Do You Want In A Campaign Setting?

    Consistency, flare and immersion. I rather have one theme then trying to cram everything in there. Flare in that the theme is a new take on something, something fresh and different. Immersion in that I want details to feel like I can visualize how people live in there, not have to wonder about mundane but important details like what sort of food crop their society depends on.

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    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: What Do You Want In A Campaign Setting?

    Coherency, originality, and presentation.

    I'm not expecting that everything should be written in accordance with a perfect socioeconomic, meteorological, and geological models, but things should be fairly consistent.

    I've already seen elves done fifty different ways. Let me see something else. Let me see something inspired. Let me see the world through new eyes.

    And presentation, well, at least run a spell-check. It would also be nice if the notes were clearly and logically laid out. Organization is key here, since I often see writers group all of the character options separated into neat little piles. While this isn't wrong, I don't think it's a very interesting way to present the setting. What I'd like to see is game information being organized along cultural lines, though that may end up being a pain for new players.

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    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: What Do You Want In A Campaign Setting?

    It really depends. Many of the elements I like are important in moderation and the exact amount can vary depending on other elements. I'd much rather have something with flavor and uniqueness than one that is 100% consistent but drab and boring and dull. OTOH, you can go overboard with trying to make something fancy, leaving an incoherent mess of half-hearted ideas and failed stories.


    Flavor: there has to be something about the setting that makes it different from stuff I've seen before. If I sit down at a table and get just another Greyhawk or FR- clone, we might as well be playing GH or FR.
    Handholds: This ties into the first point, but nothing ruins immersion faster than not being able to get a grip on the setting. There has to be something for me to base my character around. A country, a city, a race, a religious organization. History and setting information is critical for me to enjoy a setting. It seems obvious that if you don't give players information about a setting they won't get a feel for the setting, but some GMs forget this.
    I prefer to know a lot about the setting before I make a character, but even if this isn't possible, at least give me a page or two of something to whet my appetite.

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    Titan in the Playground
     
    Yora's Avatar

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    Default Re: What Do You Want In A Campaign Setting?

    I've recently come to realize the value of settings that keep the information to the essentials and don't flood everything with details that are most likely irrelevant to actual play. Though it's hard to explain why less is more. I guess, it's the difference between a world that is interesting to read about, and material that is effective in giving GMs something to work with. Those things turn out to not actually be the same.

    Things I love in settings:
    Fantastic and exotic locations: Most settings seem to try to emulate real world landscape and architecture and keep the magic and supernatural to weapons and tools. I like to see environments that match the most extreme forms of Earth landscapes and human constructions or even go a stretch beyond what would be physically possible.
    Fictional animals: Usually there's normal animals and fictional monsters, with a pretty clear difference between the two. I always enjoy seing setting in which there are lots of both wild and domestic animals that don't have clear counterparts on earth.
    Bronze and Iron Age: Most settings seem to be late medieval to early modern in style, something like 14th to 17th century. I really like early Antiquity and earlier, but there are not a lot settings that do that.
    No human dominance: If there are nonhuman cultures and civilizations in a setting, there is no reason why humans should be 50% or more of the total population. There should be two or three other humanoid peoples that exist on a similar scale of people.
    Moderate Magic: Most settings I can think of are going with the extrmes: Almost no magic at all or magic everywhere. I like to see settings where magic can be found in most places, but is accessible only to few; who can do real things with it, but don't take over everything just because of that.
    Spriggan's Den - Thoughts on RPGs and some of my personal creations.

    When you start dividing quotes into blocks to reply to each paragraph seperately, that's usually a strong sign that you're no longer contributing to the thread, but just arguing over who is right.

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    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Jeff the Green's Avatar

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    Default Re: What Do You Want In A Campaign Setting?

    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    hings I love in settings:
    Fantastic and exotic locations: Most settings seem to try to emulate real world landscape and architecture and keep the magic and supernatural to weapons and tools. I like to see environments that match the most extreme forms of Earth landscapes and human constructions or even go a stretch beyond what would be physically possible.
    Fictional animals: Usually there's normal animals and fictional monsters, with a pretty clear difference between the two. I always enjoy seing setting in which there are lots of both wild and domestic animals that don't have clear counterparts on earth.
    Bronze and Iron Age: Most settings seem to be late medieval to early modern in style, something like 14th to 17th century. I really like early Antiquity and earlier, but there are not a lot settings that do that.
    No human dominance: If there are nonhuman cultures and civilizations in a setting, there is no reason why humans should be 50% or more of the total population. There should be two or three other humanoid peoples that exist on a similar scale of people.
    Moderate Magic: Most settings I can think of are going with the extrmes: Almost no magic at all or magic everywhere. I like to see settings where magic can be found in most places, but is accessible only to few; who can do real things with it, but don't take over everything just because of that.
    I'll drink to fantastic locations, marvelous animals, and human obscurity. I'm aiming for those in my home setting; hopefully I'm succeeding.

    I prefer a sort of anachronism stew and ubitquitous low-level magic/very rare high-level (e.g. the washerwoman is someone who took out a loan to get an item of prestidigitation, but a +5 tome is pretty much an artifact). The anachronism stew comes from the quirks of D&D. When there's divination I expect there to not be things like trial by combat, but when crossbows aren't any better than longbows there should still be platemail. Plus to me the Bronze and Iron ages (and the early medieval) showcase some of the worst attributes of humans and with a few rare examples have precious little of the best.
    Greenman by Bradakhan/Autumn Greenman by Sgt. Pepper

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    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    PaladinGuy

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    Default Re: What Do You Want In A Campaign Setting?

    Consistency/coherency - the setting must just "work" which is often difficult to achieve without severely limiting many of the supernatural world-breaking powers. All NPCs act in (mostly) rational ways and use the tools at their disposal to achieve their goals. (e.g. if talking to the dead spells are available, you can be pretty sure the police/city watch will hire someone that can cast them)

    "Genericness"/flexibility - how many different environments/adventure types can I prepare in the setting (e.g. it should allow for both city and wilderness adventures, various cities could have different type of rule from crime-ridden hell holes to lawful good utopias).

    E.g. I never played D&D but I can't imagine playing it in any other form than the Tippyverse, (unless I severly nerfed the magic rules or decided on a very low-magic setting).

  8. - Top - End - #8
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: What Do You Want In A Campaign Setting?

    As a DM, creating settings is one of my favourite things to do. I have created a Weird West setting for my group, and I'm working on a pirate-themed archipelago setting and revamping my default D&D setting. I have ideas in mind for a tribal setting, a monster city, an asian-inspired setting, and a kingdoms-at-war type setting. These are the things I try to achieve.

    Internal consistency in both theme and atmosphere. Breaking consistency breaks the illusion.

    Simplicity. I don't want to have to read up on a textbook's worth of history, politics, and events to be able to play this game.

    Uniqueness, or at least enough of a twist to make it interesting.

    Self-Containment. I like some limits in a setting. If a setting contains no other planes, extraplanar beings shouldn't exist. A variety of races, but with limits. Unless the setting is by definition completely open-ended (like Planescape), the boundaries should be defined.

    FUN! I have very little interest in playing completely grimdark, gritty, realistic games. BOOOOORING.

    Novelty. I like it when a setting has some specific alternate rule, or race that doesn't exist in other settings, or a roleplaying aspect that is different from those I've seen before.

    Independence. A setting should feel like a world apart from the PCs involvement in it. If you can look at a setting and say "nothing here would matter if not for the PCs," it's probably not independent.

    X Factor. That thing that draws you in and keeps you coming back. Can't be defined, that's why it's named with a variable.
    Settings: Weird West
    Work in Progress: Fulcrum

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    Halfling in the Playground
     
    MonkGuy

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    Aug 2013

    Default Re: What Do You Want In A Campaign Setting?

    Opportunity for discovery: i like to explore and discover new stuff. I especially like when games have me discover new tradition, new societal organisation. This, of course, requires originality and coherence of the setting.

    An overarching story: I like to play different scenario which actually are small parts of a bigger scheme. I especially like to discover the big scheme as we advance along the campaign and understand, one year into the campaign, why we saw such powerful NPC from afar three games from the start, and why he was so pissed when he was seen.

    Yes, this usually means some kind of railroading, but really, I donít mind that.

    Optional side stories:I like it when the GM scatter little informations around that players might (or might not) want to explore. So youíve heard about such and such fact? You might want to inquiry. You might discover information that helps you better understand the main plot. But you might also estimate that there are more urgent actions to take towards the main plot and brush it aside. This requires from the GM a great ability to improvise from small story stubs.

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    Titan in the Playground
     
    Yora's Avatar

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    Default Re: What Do You Want In A Campaign Setting?

    I think a good setting has story hooks, but without giving a definite answer. It's much more interesting to explore a tomb with an imprisoned demon if there is no prewritten answer what kind of demon it is and what exactly it does when the PCs might reach it. More hints are nice, but it should be ultimately left up to GMs.
    Spriggan's Den - Thoughts on RPGs and some of my personal creations.

    When you start dividing quotes into blocks to reply to each paragraph seperately, that's usually a strong sign that you're no longer contributing to the thread, but just arguing over who is right.

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