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  1. - Top - End - #1
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    Default What Type of Details Do People Want in the Description/Book of a Campaign Setting?

    In the fairly recent past I have decided to undergo the process of writing a campaign setting for D&D 5e. The game, edition and even the details of the campaign setting itself are mostly irrelevant to the question I am asking. Moving on, early on in my work on this project I was in a near constant debate of what exactly things should I detail. Each and every Plane of Existence, deity, country and race seems to be so comprehensive as to warrant a book of their own describing them. Now of course, I will not write a book for each individual feature because (a) no player would ever decide to read them and (b) it is much more work then I am willing to commit to. So this leaves me the debate of what I types of details should I include in the summaries done of all the different facets of the world. When I have to detail a deity in the short span of a few paragraphs, what should I mention? Do I give a paragraph long physical description of the god itself and their domain, or do I focus on their worship in the real world more? Sometimes these questions are not easily answered.

    Just to clarify, I am asking for what sorts of aspects of something I should detail in a summary and I am not requesting for people to tell me what flavors or tropes they enjoy the most. For example, I don't want anyone to respond with things such as "I prefer gods that are closer to humanoids and have a very open and active role in the world", I am more looking for people to say things like "I would be much more interested in hearing about how humanoids interact with and worship a deity than on the deity's domain".

    So playgrounders, I have requested your help in ending my minor internal conflict by asking you what aspects of something you want to hear most when seeing a summary or book of a campaign setting. I have a set of specific questions below, and you may choose to answer as many as you would like. If you have any input outside the questions I am posing, that is just as welcome.

    1) Say I where to write a brief summary of the entire campaign setting to submit at session 0 that would be approximately 5 paragraphs or so in length. What things would be most important for you to hear to develop a character? My formula is typically to have five paragraphs; one for a for a description of the themes, mood and genres, one for an overview of the structure and organization pantheon (without stating any specific gods), one for an overview on the prevalency and public opinion of magic, one for a very basic overview off the typical relations between countries, and one for a brief history of recent events. Is this an acceptable setup, or would you be looking for something else?

    2) Knowing that almost every campaign will take place on the Material Plane, how much do you care about hearing about the other Planes of Existence? Would you like a 5 paragraph description of each, or perhaps do you only want a 1 paragraph overview of it? Do you care most about its physical appearance, inhabitants, or the methods in which to get to that plane? Would you like to hear about individual countries within those planes, or would a broad overview of its power structure suffice?

    3) Would you actually like to hear an explanation of the mechanisms and functioning of magic, or is that so unlikely to be relevant that you wouldn't care? 5e uses the system of "The Weave" to explain this, but if the campaign setting I was using offered a different explanation would you like to hear it? If it was so complex as to take up a whole page to explain, would you still care to read through it or would that be too much for you?

    4) Of course everyone wants to know a general level of magic in the world for character creation, but how specific would you like to get? Would you like to hear about the approximate number of and percentage of the population who are magic users in each country, or is that a little too specific so as to be immersion breaking.

    5) Would you like to hear about how each different school of magic is viewed in the world, or is a general overview of the public opinion on magic overall good enough?

    6) When describing a god, which is the most important things to mention about them? Physical appearance, domain, behavior, related creatures/races and the worship of them in the real world are all signifigant. Which are the more important aspects to detail and which can be left to assumption?

    7) What are the most important aspects to consider when describing a country? Geography, culture, racial/species demographics, system of governing, economy and laws are all of some sort of significance.

    8) When describing a race/species, what details should be highlighted the most? History, physical appearance, location, culture, general personality, and religion are all things to be considered.

    9) Would you as a player and/or DM like to see a calendar of the campaign setting, replete with the dates of holidays, or is that too specific to be of any importance?

    Of course, an obvious answer to these questions would simply be too "include as much as possible". The issue with that is if I did that then the campaign setting's description may become so long and bloated that few players would even take the time to skim through it. So, we need to at least get a little specific. Thank you in advance to anyone who responds, I am grateful for any help I can get.
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  2. - Top - End - #2
    Titan in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: What Type of Details Do People Want in the Description/Book of a Campaign Setting

    The purpose of a campaign setting book is to help GMs to run campaigns. To do that, it needs to be written in a way that does not require a GM to read the whole thing, and it should be very easy and quick to look up details in the middle of a game. Otherwise, it's not really much help.

    Most setting books don't do that. But that's not even just the fault of the book, but starts with the design of most settings that are turned into books. Most big setting books (though not many of the small and obscure ones) are designed to be complete worlds, with as much information on everything as possible. When the setting is too big, the book gets too big, and then it becomes harder for GMs to look up things quickly and to learn what they actually need to know without reading through the whole thing.

    A good campaign setting to set campaigns in needs to have a focus on one or perhaps two styles of play, and the book needs to present information that is relevant to these. A good setting book provides as much information as necessary to make it easy for GMs to extrapolate on that on the fly as needed. Because making something up is quicker than looking something up, if the book successfully taught how things in this world feel and behave. Once you have established what things would commonly be found in an average village or city, the descriptions of specific places only need to tell me what is special or unusual about them. The kind of stuff you can build adventures, dungeons, and NPCs on.
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    Default Re: What Type of Details Do People Want in the Description/Book of a Campaign Setting

    Quote Originally Posted by Requilac View Post
    1) Say I where to write a brief summary of the entire campaign setting to submit at session 0 that would be approximately 5 paragraphs or so in length. What things would be most important for you to hear to develop a character? My formula is typically to have five paragraphs; one for a for a description of the themes, mood and genres, one for an overview of the structure and organization pantheon (without stating any specific gods), one for an overview on the prevalency and public opinion of magic, one for a very basic overview off the typical relations between countries, and one for a brief history of recent events. Is this an acceptable setup, or would you be looking for something else?
    Structure & Pantheon: I think the most important part here is "is the situation stable?". I don't really care if there is a wheel of alignements, but I do care if the gods are in a constant battle to prevent world destruction, or if at the contrary the situation is stable and they just rule the universe.

    The others are good. There is only one information which is missing for me: how important are race/family/nation/alignement/ancestral gifts/ancestral maleditions/... ? I'm not gonna build the same character in universes where everything is blood-related (with all the "rightfull heir" stuff), or universe that are more meritocrat (or "chosen by the fate" stuff).
    2) Knowing that almost every campaign will take place on the Material Plane, how much do you care about hearing about the other Planes of Existence? Would you like a 5 paragraph description of each, or perhaps do you only want a 1 paragraph overview of it? Do you care most about its physical appearance, inhabitants, or the methods in which to get to that plane? Would you like to hear about individual countries within those planes, or would a broad overview of its power structure suffice?
    As a player, I care about what happens to the deads. I care about planar wars (if any). I care about planar trade routes / trade cities (if any).
    The remaining will be described with my race (if needed), or can wait for later.

    As a DM, I don't want a complete world. I want ideas. I want factions that could become relevant if I need an ennemy or an ally. I want places where things are unknown and dangerous. I want reasons why gods are buzy doing other things than solving the hero's problems.

    Methods of travels from planes to planes are interesting too, because that's quite difficult to come up with a world fully coherent while still having planar travel. (indirect consequences on trade, wars, geopolitics, ... are often forgotten). So I would be happy if someone did this job for me beforehand.

    3) Would you actually like to hear an explanation of the mechanisms and functioning of magic, or is that so unlikely to be relevant that you wouldn't care? 5e uses the system of "The Weave" to explain this, but if the campaign setting I was using offered a different explanation would you like to hear it? If it was so complex as to take up a whole page to explain, would you still care to read through it or would that be too much for you?
    Personal opinion: I really like to read what peoples inside the universe think about how magic works.

    If you aim at D&D, I usually feel like a having a precise explanation on how the magic works is counter-productive, because it will at some point contradict the details of the rules.
    4) Of course everyone wants to know a general level of magic in the world for character creation, but how specific would you like to get? Would you like to hear about the approximate number of and percentage of the population who are magic users in each country, or is that a little too specific so as to be immersion breaking.
    Similarly to planar travel, having a coherent world with magic is not something easy, so (as a DM) I would be thankfull to have this job done by others before me. For example:
    + Is the priest of a little village able to do magic? If yes, what can you expect of his spell-caster level?
    + Are people still dying of non-magical diseases, food shortage, ...?
    + Are people dying frequently of monsters/demons/...?
    + How prevalent is mind control / possession / shape-shifters? (I've already build a world where >50% of half-elves were in fact shape-shifting dragons, but that was a secret unknown from the players)
    + Can a politician assassinate a problematic witness without him being resurected by the court?
    + Are judges using "Circle of Truth", or similar spells, on a regular basis?
    + At what level my PCs will be too powerful to remain anonymous and unremarked?
    + Assuming my PCs go evil, is there enough high level characters to team up and stop them? If yes, why are they not solving the world-ending problems my PCs faces instead of them?

    I don't care about exact numbers. But consequences of magic on a world in something I need as a DM if I don't want to hand-weive "well, they don't do that because reasons".

    (And I don't need the exact answer to all this questions, but I need to be able to deduce "what would be the reasonnable answer" from your description)

    As a PC, I just want to know: Is there schools of magic? Is this normal for a magic user to go to school / recieve a formation? As a magic-user, am I part of the elite, am I considered "like a charpenter, but with magic instead of wood", or am I considered as a monster? Is it likely for city guards to have a mage among them?
    5) Would you like to hear about how each different school of magic is viewed in the world, or is a general overview of the public opinion on magic overall good enough?
    General opinion is good enough.
    Though I would be interested to know what are the public opinion on my subclass, this is as much for school of magics than for bardic colleages and subclasses of other classes.
    Except of course if there is a big opposition "good magic vs bad magic" in your universe (like Start Wars).
    6) When describing a god, which is the most important things to mention about them? Physical appearance, domain, behavior, related creatures/races and the worship of them in the real world are all signifigant. Which are the more important aspects to detail and which can be left to assumption?
    For me, the most important part is "why is he worshiped?". In a lot of settings, gods are shaped by their followers, so "who are the followers" is more important than "who is the god".

    Physical appearance -> I usually don't care. Unless that's really important (cf Tiamat)
    Domain -> I need this for my priest
    Related creatures/races -> That's usualy redundant with the physical appearance.

    I really like when gods have a symbol associated to them (rainbow, shield, money, ...). It helps really when describing, for example "you see on the wall a rainbow slowly appearing, revealing a sercret temple to X, god of luck".
    7) What are the most important aspects to consider when describing a country? Geography, culture, racial/species demographics, system of governing, economy and laws are all of some sort of significance.
    The majoritary species is important.
    For me, the dynamic of the country is the a very important thing: young kingdom, decadent empire, over-expanding empire, stable and long-lasting republic, ...

    On the system of governing, the two main factors for me are: is the country centralised (roman empire) or decentralised (every little lord have some power), and the level of social unrest (is this a brutal dictature, are the politicians corrupted, ...)

    Economy and laws: quite important for city-states, since it will most likely define what is the difference between this city and the nearby empires. Not that much for big countries.
    8) When describing a race/species, what details should be highlighted the most? History, physical appearance, location, culture, general personality, and religion are all things to be considered.
    Races/species are a great place to talk more about planes of existence, through their history/...
    I don't have a clear opinion on the others
    9) Would you as a player and/or DM like to see a calendar of the campaign setting, replete with the dates of holidays, or is that too specific to be of any importance?
    Too specific. Don't forget that DM that use your settup may change a lot of stuff, possibly even say "let's put my campaign one century later".
    However, if you make an "introduction scenario" for your settup, you can put the calendar here.
    Of course, an obvious answer to these questions would simply be too "include as much as possible". The issue with that is if I did that then the campaign setting's description may become so long and bloated that few players would even take the time to skim through it. So, we need to at least get a little specific. Thank you in advance to anyone who responds, I am grateful for any help I can get.
    I hope it helps.

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: What Type of Details Do People Want in the Description/Book of a Campaign Setting

    Quote Originally Posted by Requilac View Post
    1) Say I where to write a brief summary of the entire campaign setting to submit at session 0 that would be approximately 5 paragraphs or so in length. What things would be most important for you to hear to develop a character? My formula is typically to have five paragraphs; one for a for a description of the themes, mood and genres, one for an overview of the structure and organization pantheon (without stating any specific gods), one for an overview on the prevalency and public opinion of magic, one for a very basic overview off the typical relations between countries, and one for a brief history of recent events. Is this an acceptable setup, or would you be looking for something else?
    This sounds fine, though it's leaning heavily towards magic (with 1 paragraph about magic and 1 about religion). This si fine in DnD, ut if you want some focus on mundanes, maybe include some mention of important martial schools or orders.

    Quote Originally Posted by Requilac View Post
    2) Knowing that almost every campaign will take place on the Material Plane, how much do you care about hearing about the other Planes of Existence? Would you like a 5 paragraph description of each, or perhaps do you only want a 1 paragraph overview of it? Do you care most about its physical appearance, inhabitants, or the methods in which to get to that plane? Would you like to hear about individual countries within those planes, or would a broad overview of its power structure suffice?
    If the planes are mostly meant as a metaphysics thing that most characters don't really interact with, 1 paragraph each is more than enough. If there are 1 or 2 interesting places in them, it might be worthwhile to flesh those out. For example, give a single paragraph about each elemental plane, but then write 2-4 about the city of brass.


    Quote Originally Posted by Requilac View Post
    3) Would you actually like to hear an explanation of the mechanisms and functioning of magic, or is that so unlikely to be relevant that you wouldn't care? 5e uses the system of "The Weave" to explain this, but if the campaign setting I was using offered a different explanation would you like to hear it? If it was so complex as to take up a whole page to explain, would you still care to read through it or would that be too much for you?
    If it's something I could do something with as a character, I'd be very interested. If the game functions like DnD, it's not really all the relevant unless the plot makes it so, but if knowing about how the magic works allows you to do cool stuff, it's interesting to know.

    For example, if you use a Node and leyline system with various type of magic, and being close to a node or leyline actually causes small changes to how magic works, it'd be something I would be very interested in as a player to know about, because it allows me to do cool stuff with it.


    Quote Originally Posted by Requilac View Post
    4) Of course everyone wants to know a general level of magic in the world for character creation, but how specific would you like to get? Would you like to hear about the approximate number of and percentage of the population who are magic users in each country, or is that a little too specific so as to be immersion breaking.
    I think it would be better to just show how magic influences the daily lives of people. Knowing how prevalent utilitarian magic items are (how rich do you need to be to own a self-cooking teapot) is far more useful to get an idea of how the setting works with magic.


    Quote Originally Posted by Requilac View Post
    5) Would you like to hear about how each different school of magic is viewed in the world, or is a general overview of the public opinion on magic overall good enough?
    Depends on how relevant it is. If there's one or more 'forbidden' or 'lost' schools it can make for an excellent adventure hook, but if most people don't really care it doesn't matter.


    Quote Originally Posted by Requilac View Post
    6) When describing a god, which is the most important things to mention about them? Physical appearance, domain, behavior, related creatures/races and the worship of them in the real world are all signifigant. Which are the more important aspects to detail and which can be left to assumption?
    Behavior and domain would be most important. A god could present themselves however they want, and related races would probably be obvious from clear shared interest.

    Quote Originally Posted by Requilac View Post
    7) What are the most important aspects to consider when describing a country? Geography, culture, racial/species demographics, system of governing, economy and laws are all of some sort of significance.
    Yeah, all the things you just listed are of importance, but if its a basic world primer, all of those could also fit in a single paragraph. I'd only focus on those things that can make cool adventure hooks, such as a country which chooses it's king through a democratic progress, or a country that's highly dependent on another for a basic commodity.


    Quote Originally Posted by Requilac View Post
    8) When describing a race/species, what details should be highlighted the most? History, physical appearance, location, culture, general personality, and religion are all things to be considered.
    Appearance, culture and behavior are the most important. Everything else can be made up on the fly by the DM if he knows the basic role the race plays in the world.

    Quote Originally Posted by Requilac View Post
    9) Would you as a player and/or DM like to see a calendar of the campaign setting, replete with the dates of holidays, or is that too specific to be of any importance?
    It is an interesting addition, but I wouldn't include it in a document less than 20 pages long, as there's probably more important stuff that could be on the page in that case.

    I think one thing you should consider when describing your world is to look into how your information can be used as an adventure hook. If you've written down a lot of info about a kingdom, but only one factoid could be used as an adventure hook, the rest can probably be condensed down to a single paragraph.

    An example I'd like to give is Dunkelzahn's will from Shadowrun. It's the last will of a dragon, and just about every entry can be sued as a plot hook, while at the same time also providing interesting insights in the world and the dragon itself.
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    Default Re: What Type of Details Do People Want in the Description/Book of a Campaign Setting

    Locations should inspire players to visit a the place, and should also provide sufficient mystery that I can hang plots off them.

    "The village of Whentvol is known for their fireberry jam, and as the place where the Great Sage Ak'kromlich built her tower. Visitors are advised to take the low road by the Whent River (in spite of the lizardfolk) and avoid the old road through the Wispcairns Hills at all costs."

    I want details which inspire a reason to go there, and hints about what kind(s) of trouble might suddenly yet inevitably arise.


    NPC write-ups should give me enough details to role-play the NPC without too much extra thought, and should help inform me who wants the NPC dead, and should guide me about how the world might react in the event that someone (including the PCs) kills off the NPC.


    Politics should be somewhat like the NPCs write-ups: how does this regional power interact with the other regional powers, and what sorts of things might happen when the PCs wreck everything and terminate their chain of command with extreme prejudice?


    Give me a web of relationships. Show the tensions, show me the fulcrums, and help me work out the aftermath when one of the strands is brutally severed or one of the pivotal powers is harvested for loot and XP.


    Players are going to wreck this place. Help me make the ride awesome. Reduce my workload as the referee for players who are burning down your setting.

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    Default Re: What Type of Details Do People Want in the Description/Book of a Campaign Setting

    Generally, I want to know what the big pieces are, and how those big pieces fit together.

    I'm working on a setting gazeteer right now, and the first thing I did was consider the big pieces, and the pieces nearby that were going to influence things. I looked at the map and considered how geography was going to divide the groups I was putting in there. I looked at the Hacklopedia of Beasts (and, as it came out, the HOB2) for creatures that were going to live there, and what they might be like and how they might interact. When I put the big pieces on the board, and saw how they fit together (who acted on who and how), I saw the little places where other things might fit in. Hags, Sirens, Wyrms. Why this place doesn't have any orcs, and what fills their ecological niche. Places where friction was going to happen.

    I prefer that method because it leaves lots of cracks where DMs and players can get creative. It defines the landscape without making everything set in stone.
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    Default Re: What Type of Details Do People Want in the Description/Book of a Campaign Setting

    Quote Originally Posted by Requilac View Post

    1) Say I where to write a brief summary of the entire campaign setting to submit at session 0 that would be approximately 5 paragraphs or so in length. What things would be most important for you to hear to develop a character? My formula is typically to have five paragraphs; one for a for a description of the themes, mood and genres, one for an overview of the structure and organization pantheon (without stating any specific gods), one for an overview on the prevalency and public opinion of magic, one for a very basic overview off the typical relations between countries, and one for a brief history of recent events. Is this an acceptable setup, or would you be looking for something else?
    I've done similar things for my home campaign, and I regretfully must say that most players don't care much, and will barely read it, if they do so at all. Mine may have been too long, though.

    For player handouts, I would suggest only handing out things that will be relevant to character creation. So, a short table listing deities appropriate for player selection (or at least player knowledge, some of my Evil deities in my campaign world require a knowledge check), simply listing the deity's name, alignment, short portfolio list, and domains. Kind of like the tables at the back of the PHB.

    I would include a short list of any basic changes you are making to core assumptions. Bare bones, they can ask you for details if they're interested, but don't bore the ones who don't care. Example: I played in a game once where the past involved dwarves and elves fighting a massive war. The dwarves allied with orcs, and the elves allied with goblins (hobgoblins are already a Neutral, mercenary like society in this world, and somewhat Oriental-adventures based). Since the dwarves won, elves were no longer a suitable race for PCs, but full-blooded orcs were. So your handout might just mention "Elves are not a valid PC race, but full blooded orcs are, see DM for details", and you can tell them if you've perhaps modified the stats for orcs in Volo's (maybe since the war orcs have become less violent, and smarter, so the stats may change). But be sure to include some kind of shorthand notes for any modifications for races and classes, including what is and is not allowed (maybe your world just straight up does not have aaracokra).

    Themes, moods, and genres might be appropriate, too. But things like prevalence of magic, relations between countries...I wouldn't include that unless it's going to be relevant for their character creation.

    Only include anything political about cities if it's going to be relevant to the place they're going to start in.

    Mind you, all of this is only relevant for my advice on player handouts, not on an actual book.

    Quote Originally Posted by Requilac View Post
    2) Knowing that almost every campaign will take place on the Material Plane, how much do you care about hearing about the other Planes of Existence? Would you like a 5 paragraph description of each, or perhaps do you only want a 1 paragraph overview of it? Do you care most about its physical appearance, inhabitants, or the methods in which to get to that plane? Would you like to hear about individual countries within those planes, or would a broad overview of its power structure suffice?
    If this was an actual BOOK for a campaign setting, like FR or Eberron, I would want some detail. Eberron, for example, uses wildly different planes that actually ORBIT the Material, and there's all kinds of effects there. So if your planar cosmology is radically different, I would have a lot of information. Especially if this is a setting you expect others to DM in, if you're looking to get it published.

    For my own campaign world, I have a binder (basically a book), and I have a section about the planes. Now, I use the Great Wheel, so my section mostly only deals with what's specific to my world, which is mostly the demesnes of deities and other powerful outsiders within the planes. So if your campaign uses a cosmology detailed in the DMG, I would just mention that, and have short paragraphs relevant to any specific locations, or deviations from that Core example.

    But by and large, players don't care. If they need info on a plane, they'll roll Knowledge, or research in a library, and you will tell them what they need. I would not include planar information in a player handout. A character FROM another plane (gith or genasi, etc) may warrant some more specifics, but do that on a case-by-case basis.
    Quote Originally Posted by Requilac View Post
    3) Would you actually like to hear an explanation of the mechanisms and functioning of magic, or is that so unlikely to be relevant that you wouldn't care? 5e uses the system of "The Weave" to explain this, but if the campaign setting I was using offered a different explanation would you like to hear it? If it was so complex as to take up a whole page to explain, would you still care to read through it or would that be too much for you?
    I'm going to assume, for the rest of this, that you are discussing making a full SETTING, that you would like to get published, and want other people to DM in. That's what I will respond to first on each question.

    So yes, I would like details about how magic works differently, how this may affect game mechanics, and so on. In a campaign settign book, I want all the fluff, too, not just what relates to crunch.

    But if I was just a player in this world? Nah, just let me know what's different in the sense of how it will affect my character.
    Quote Originally Posted by Requilac View Post
    4) Of course everyone wants to know a general level of magic in the world for character creation, but how specific would you like to get? Would you like to hear about the approximate number of and percentage of the population who are magic users in each country, or is that a little too specific so as to be immersion breaking.
    So, in the section of the campiagn book that tells me about each nation, that seems like it may be a pretty pertinent detail. At least have a general sort of rule (magic users are fairly uncommon , and usually make up no more than 5% of a population), and then list specific examples when relevant (capital city X boasts an unsually high number of magic users-20%, and as a result, magic is widespread and even common in this city).

    For players...too specific. When making a character, they MAY be interested in how their spellcaster fits into the world he/she grew up in, but that's usually it.
    Quote Originally Posted by Requilac View Post
    5) Would you like to hear about how each different school of magic is viewed in the world, or is a general overview of the public opinion on magic overall good enough?
    General overview, unless specific exceptions are warranted. Do most people even KNOW anything about schools of magic?

    I mean, I imagine Necromancy has a fairly dim view among most people who understand the different schools. But you might have a nation that employs it heavily. Perhaps one major city uses Divinations heavily in their justice system. Perhaps another outlaws Enchantment. Keep it relevant to what a DM may need to know. If it doesn't vary much from Core, just say that.
    Quote Originally Posted by Requilac View Post
    6) When describing a god, which is the most important things to mention about them? Physical appearance, domain, behavior, related creatures/races and the worship of them in the real world are all signifigant. Which are the more important aspects to detail and which can be left to assumption?
    Alignment, portfolio (what they're the god OF), domains. Those are the big 3 of a deity. Then maybe some specifics about their agendas. I usually include something about their temples (the sun god's temples usually feature many windows, to let in natural light) and/or the worship of them (the sun god is also the god of health, and his clergy usually run hospitals, as well as organize athletic events for the city). I think the god's PHYSICAL appearance is probably the least relevant bit. Maybe one sentence. Two if it's relevant to the god's ethos somehow (Gruumsh has only one eye. It was lost in a duel with Corellon, god of elves, and eternal enmity springs between their followers as a result).

    Quote Originally Posted by Requilac View Post
    7) What are the most important aspects to consider when describing a country? Geography, culture, racial/species demographics, system of governing, economy and laws are all of some sort of significance.
    I assume if this gets published, there will be a map, so that takes care of your geography. I would include, in the section for each country, a brief note about system of government. Laws only if they're unusual (the nation of X permits creation of undead as long as the subject is willing, for example), and the like. Population, to include demographics, can be fulfilled in a one-paragraph list of all that. I would look to the 3e FR campaign setting, or the Eberron Campaign Setting. There's one dense paragraph that sums up popualtion numbers and approximate spread of racial diversity.

    Again, don't give this kind of thing to players. They almost certainly don't care.
    Quote Originally Posted by Requilac View Post
    8) When describing a race/species, what details should be highlighted the most? History, physical appearance, location, culture, general personality, and religion are all things to be considered.
    Do you have new races? Because that is going to drastically alter my answer. For now, I would say use the 3.5e Eberron Campaign Setting as a guide.
    Quote Originally Posted by Requilac View Post
    9) Would you as a player and/or DM like to see a calendar of the campaign setting, replete with the dates of holidays, or is that too specific to be of any importance?
    As a DM, sure. But I'll probably never use it, TBH. FR and Eberron both did. But I would data-dump that almost immediately.

    As a player? Nope.
    Quote Originally Posted by Requilac View Post
    Of course, an obvious answer to these questions would simply be too "include as much as possible". The issue with that is if I did that then the campaign setting's description may become so long and bloated that few players would even take the time to skim through it. So, we need to at least get a little specific. Thank you in advance to anyone who responds, I am grateful for any help I can get.
    I'm happy to provide feedback. And I'd love to help more, if you need it.
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    Default Re: What Type of Details Do People Want in the Description/Book of a Campaign Setting

    Thank you all for the great and detailed responses. I have taken notes on recurring themes among the posts or certain things I found of interest and will certainly keep them in mind. The depth and detail which you all have put into responding I am very grateful for. Now that the praise has been delivered, I will move onto answering questions or asking some of my own, alongside clarifying some details which has misled some.

    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    The purpose of a campaign setting book is to help GMs to run campaigns. To do that, it needs to be written in a way that does not require a GM to read the whole thing, and it should be very easy and quick to look up details in the middle of a game. Otherwise, it's not really much help.
    Very interesting point you bring up, and definetely a valid one. Here is my question though; how would you format the campaign setting book to be easily accessible like this? I suppose the easy way around that is always a table summarizing the details before every chapter, but often times I feel like that wouldn't give enough information that a DM would need on the fly. The thing is that putting more information in that chart would make it to difficult to read in the span of time a DM would need. Do you have any possible solutions in mind?

    Quote Originally Posted by MoiMagnus View Post

    The others are good. There is only one information which is missing for me: how important are race/family/nation/alignement/ancestral gifts/ancestral maleditions/... ? I'm not gonna build the same character in universes where everything is blood-related (with all the "rightfull heir" stuff), or universe that are more meritocrat (or "chosen by the fate" stuff).
    Wouldn't the importance of all those different factors change from society to society with the world though? While of course I would need to mention what societal values are most important in the immediate region of where the players will be trying, trying to make that standardized around the entire Material Plane sounds more than a little odd and oversimplified.

    Quote Originally Posted by MoiMagnus View Post

    Personal opinion: I really like to read what peoples inside the universe think about how magic works.

    If you aim at D&D, I usually feel like a having a precise explanation on how the magic works is counter-productive, because it will at some point contradict the details of the rules.
    To be fair though, magic in D&D was never concretely consistent and was made much more for narrative and mechanical purposes than any sort of desire for logical principles. I am not really too concerned about that as handwaiving is inevitable even when using the Weave explanation. Contradictions with imaginary systems like magic are a natural part of gameplay which no one has really ever been able to solidify.

    Quote Originally Posted by MoiMagnus View Post

    For me, the most important part is "why is he worshiped?". In a lot of settings, gods are shaped by their followers, so "who are the followers" is more important than "who is the god".

    Physical appearance -> I usually don't care. Unless that's really important (cf Tiamat)
    Domain -> I need this for my priest
    Related creatures/races -> That's usualy redundant with the physical appearance.

    I really like when gods have a symbol associated to them (rainbow, shield, money, ...). It helps really when describing, for example "you see on the wall a rainbow slowly appearing, revealing a sercret temple to X, god of luck".
    The main reason why I thought physical appearance may be important is because I am using a rather weird pantheon of gods that mainly associate with humanoids through their dreams and wanted to make sure a DM knew how to properly describe how a god appears if they where to interact with a PC via dream. Of course, the gods would all take on a myriad of different forms to their followers, so each would need to be described if even very generally and vaguely.

    Oh, and when I was referring to domain, I meant literal, physical domain. As in their little slice of the respective Plane of Existence which they ruled over. The actual realm in which they presided over.

    Quote Originally Posted by MoiMagnus View Post
    Races/species are a great place to talk more about planes of existence, through their history/...
    Quote Originally Posted by MoiMagnus View Post
    Too specific. Don't forget that DM that use your settup may change a lot of stuff, possibly even say "let's put my campaign one century later".
    However, if you make an "introduction scenario" for your settup, you can put the calendar here.
    I think you may have misinterpreted me. When I said calendar, I meant something like the Gregorian calendar, not like a schedule of events. The amount of moons/months in a year and the date at which the holidays occur at shouldn't change, even if the campaign is set a century later.

    Quote Originally Posted by MoiMagnus View Post
    I hope it helps.
    Indeed it does. Thank you for the detailed commentary, you certainly gave me many things to think about.

    Quote Originally Posted by Randuir View Post
    This sounds fine, though it's leaning heavily towards magic (with 1 paragraph about magic and 1 about religion). This si fine in DnD, ut if you want some focus on mundanes, maybe include some mention of important martial schools or orders.
    That is certainly an interesting thought, especially since my campaign setting is relatively low magic, but don't you think describing martial schools and orders may be a little too specific for a general overview? I mean sure I should mention it at some point, but in the 1st summary of the campaign setting players see? It would be quite an odd detail to put in considering I don't even go in depth enough to mention the names of any gods.

    Quote Originally Posted by Randuir View Post

    It is an interesting addition, but I wouldn't include it in a document less than 20 pages long, as there's probably more important stuff that could be on the page in that case.
    The document is probably going to be longer than 20 pages, though I doubt by any sort of longshot. I was thinking that a calendar may be important because some of the gods are heavily related to the stars and specific constellations, so I think having a way to identify which god's constellation is in the sky at what time could be an interesting plot hook. For example, I was thinking about saying something like "On the ides of the 7th moon the Great Tree Constellation, the sign of the god Cohdwiggoed, is seen directly above the observatory at Orcinople at 12:00. It is said that at that time certain blessed plants of primordial origin would spring to life and hunt down those that have wronged Cohwiggoed until the dawn of the next day."



    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Hall View Post
    Generally, I want to know what the big pieces are, and how those big pieces fit together.

    I'm working on a setting gazeteer right now, and the first thing I did was consider the big pieces, and the pieces nearby that were going to influence things. I looked at the map and considered how geography was going to divide the groups I was putting in there. I looked at the Hacklopedia of Beasts (and, as it came out, the HOB2) for creatures that were going to live there, and what they might be like and how they might interact. When I put the big pieces on the board, and saw how they fit together (who acted on who and how), I saw the little places where other things might fit in. Hags, Sirens, Wyrms. Why this place doesn't have any orcs, and what fills their ecological niche. Places where friction was going to happen.
    Interesting, so you actually start by creating a map and then forming around the countries and monsters based around that? If you don't start out with an idea of the political atmosphere, then how do you know what the map should look like? Do you simply find one from another source, or do you draw it yourself based on your whims? I am intrigued by this process as I have never seen it before, and maps where never my strong suit.

    Quote Originally Posted by RedMage125 View Post

    Themes, moods, and genres might be appropriate, too. But things like prevalence of magic, relations between countries...I wouldn't include that unless it's going to be relevant for their character creation.
    Interesting you actually choose those two as examples of things not relevant to character creation. In my personal experience most players' first question on a campaign setting regard the prevalence of magic, which would effect whether they would play a caster or not, and up close to the second most asked questions are on the relations between countries, so that they know not to pick PC races that would conflict with each other if included in a party. May I ask why you find these details irrelevant, because that certainly seem to be a deviant, but not necessarily wrong, opinion on the matter?

    Quote Originally Posted by RedMage125 View Post
    I'm going to assume, for the rest of this, that you are discussing making a full SETTING, that you would like to get published, and want other people to DM in. That's what I will respond to first on each question.
    I don't have any plans for publishing the campaign setting as in selling it persay, but I was going to post it over a couple of forums that anyone who wishes to could use it. In all honesty though, I have my doubts that anyone except for me will actually use it. Who knows though, maybe a player of mine might get inspired to DM their own campaign in it ? Regardless, the book would be much more written for my own benefit than anything else.

    Quote Originally Posted by RedMage125 View Post
    Do you have new races? Because that is going to drastically alter my answer. For now, I would say use the 3.5e Eberron Campaign Setting as a guide.
    I have introduced exactly six new races to the campaign setting, and there is a possibility for more of them to be added, but I doubt it. Why do you ask?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Requilac View Post
    That is certainly an interesting thought, especially since my campaign setting is relatively low magic, but don't you think describing martial schools and orders may be a little too specific for a general overview? I mean sure I should mention it at some point, but in the 1st summary of the campaign setting players see? It would be quite an odd detail to put in considering I don't even go in depth enough to mention the names of any gods.
    You don't have to go super specific, but even just making a 1-line mention of one or two orders of blade-masters gives the players a mundane ideal they can aspire to. It moves the text from 'there's magic which can do this awesome stuff (oh, and you could swing a sword around, I guess)' to 'There's magic, which can do this awesome stuff, and there's this order of blade-masters that teach worthy pupils to do awesome stuff with swords as well'.

    Quote Originally Posted by Requilac View Post
    The document is probably going to be longer than 20 pages, though I doubt by any sort of longshot. I was thinking that a calendar may be important because some of the gods are heavily related to the stars and specific constellations, so I think having a way to identify which god's constellation is in the sky at what time could be an interesting plot hook. For example, I was thinking about saying something like "On the ides of the 7th moon the Great Tree Constellation, the sign of the god Cohdwiggoed, is seen directly above the observatory at Orcinople at 12:00. It is said that at that time certain blessed plants of primordial origin would spring to life and hunt down those that have wronged Cohwiggoed until the dawn of the next day."
    In that case it's certainly a good addition, as it can be used directly by the players to do fun and awesome stuff. If it's just a general calendar with some non-magical holidays it's fun world-building, but like this it's a very useful plot-device and player tool.
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    Default Re: What Type of Details Do People Want in the Description/Book of a Campaign Setting

    Quote Originally Posted by Requilac View Post
    Wouldn't the importance of all those different factors change from society to society with the world though? While of course I would need to mention what societal values are most important in the immediate region of where the players will be trying, trying to make that standardized around the entire Material Plane sounds more than a little odd and oversimplified.
    It does to an extend. But not as much as you think, since it depends a lot on the "rules of magic".
    +If magic is hereditary, it makes bloodline central to the universe.
    +If anybody can learn magic, education is the core, but since the elite has more access to it, it become "kind of hereditary"
    +If only random peoples can learn magic, it would be very difficult for an aristocracy to stabilise itself, so bloodline would be far less relevant than factions/nations/...

    In standard med-fan, you have two opposite trope:
    + everyone has some kind of "old powerful blood", or "family artefact that only respond to the rightfull heir", or "family blood curse/blessing", ...
    + people are "chosen by the fate", come from nowhere, and everybody can become a hero whatever their ancestors.

    Standard D&D is somewhere in between depending on the setting and the DM.

    I think you may have misinterpreted me. When I said calendar, I meant something like the Gregorian calendar, not like a schedule of events. The amount of moons/months in a year and the date at which the holidays occur at shouldn't change, even if the campaign is set a century later.
    The exact name and number of mounthes of the calendar are kind of meaningless.
    In my last campaign, our DM used the French Revolutionary Calendar (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French...lican_calendar) instead of the Gregorian one. In 3 years of campaign, we had less than 5 moments where we actually used the name of the mounthes, since most of the time we used relative time (in one mounth, last year, ...)

    PS: if you are in the need of a calendar that isn't the Gregorian, but you don't want to create one, I would advice the French Revolutionary one. Names of mounthes look like "PluviŰse" (= rainy) instead of Febrary.

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    Default Re: What Type of Details Do People Want in the Description/Book of a Campaign Setting

    I quite like the presentation format of Cinderheim. This is a sample of a town and its major NPCs, I believe taken straight from the book. It's incredibly dense, giving you a lot to work with that is quick to look up and establishes the tone for making up your own additional details.
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    Default Re: What Type of Details Do People Want in the Description/Book of a Campaign Setting

    In general, I'm most interested in knowing what my character is supposed to know about the world around them.

    Quote Originally Posted by Requilac View Post
    1) Say I where to write a brief summary of the entire campaign setting to submit at session 0 that would be approximately 5 paragraphs or so in length. What things would be most important for you to hear to develop a character? My formula is typically to have five paragraphs; one for a for a description of the themes, mood and genres, one for an overview of the structure and organization pantheon (without stating any specific gods), one for an overview on the prevalency and public opinion of magic, one for a very basic overview off the typical relations between countries, and one for a brief history of recent events. Is this an acceptable setup, or would you be looking for something else?
    I'm not too worried about themes, mood, and genre, actually, because those elements are more produced by how my table plays and the crunch mechanics than the setting.

    With a brief summary of the setting, I'd rather have a brief overview of what historic events have made this world unique. It's D&D, so I have a wealth of fantasy tropes to draw on. So tell me what features are unique and don't waste words on anything that is already common in fantasy.

    If the world is post magic apocolypse, that tells me there are ancient ruins to be uncovered. If it is dominated by a powerful empire, I'll be expecting consistent run-ins with law enforcement. What are the events and factions that form the backbone of the setting?

    Quote Originally Posted by Requilac View Post
    2) Knowing that almost every campaign will take place on the Material Plane, how much do you care about hearing about the other Planes of Existence? Would you like a 5 paragraph description of each, or perhaps do you only want a 1 paragraph overview of it? Do you care most about its physical appearance, inhabitants, or the methods in which to get to that plane? Would you like to hear about individual countries within those planes, or would a broad overview of its power structure suffice?
    I want 3 sets of knowledge: common knowledge, expert knowledge, native knowledge.

    If I'm playing a character who never much studies or thinks about the other planes, I'll read the common knowledge section. Probably this should generic and only somewhat accurate details based on how society tends to perceive the other planes. A single paragraph is likely sufficient.

    If I'm playing a knowledgable character (like a wizard or planar traveler), I'll read the expert knowledge section. It should be robust and accurate, but not terribly extensive. 3 to 5 paragraphs with some general details on important figures, locations, and native creatures is probably enough.

    If I'm playing a creature native to these planes (such as an Aasimar or Modron), I'd need as much info as you could give me to understand how life on that plane functions, so that I can accurately portray how strange the material plane is to my character.

    Quote Originally Posted by Requilac View Post
    3) Would you actually like to hear an explanation of the mechanisms and functioning of magic, or is that so unlikely to be relevant that you wouldn't care? 5e uses the system of "The Weave" to explain this, but if the campaign setting I was using offered a different explanation would you like to hear it? If it was so complex as to take up a whole page to explain, would you still care to read through it or would that be too much for you?
    I liked the 5e Weave (I know it came from before 5e) and I loved the depth of necromancy in Libris Mortis. I'm totally willing to read a page on magic as long as it's not just reiterating a magic system I already know (but even that's fine if it's adding anything new and interesting). But, if I know it and another player doesn't, I can skim it to confirm I already know it and the other player can read it. Err on the side of excess on your explanation of magic, then just make sure the book is well categorized and editted so it's out of the way when we don't need it and easy to look up when we do.

    Quote Originally Posted by Requilac View Post
    4) Of course everyone wants to know a general level of magic in the world for character creation, but how specific would you like to get? Would you like to hear about the approximate number of and percentage of the population who are magic users in each country, or is that a little too specific so as to be immersion breaking.
    Not immersion breaking, but certainly unnecessary. That's DM information, which they might disregard anyway. What the table needs to know are how common are magical services and items e.g. can they buy anything from the magic item book any time they get back to town? If not, are there larger cities that are different?

    Are there any important wizard colleges/towers? Any important political or historical wizards shaping the world? What's the differences between the preconceptions of their celebrity with who they really are? Gandalf was often taken for some meddling old magician, which was both partly true and woefully misleading. It depended largely on who appreciated his work defending freedom and peace for the common folk and whose political toes got stepped on in doing so. So for any important characters, maybe a short paragraph about what a friendly, neutral, and antagonistic person might say about that celebrity. None of it needs to be accurate. The figure might be totally misunderstood by supporters and detractors alike. But I need to know what opinions my character would already be exposed to (even if half the adventure is overturning that info).

    Quote Originally Posted by Requilac View Post
    5) Would you like to hear about how each different school of magic is viewed in the world, or is a general overview of the public opinion on magic overall good enough?
    Public opinion is good enough for classes that don't employ magic. Any class that is actively involved will should see the delineations.

    Quote Originally Posted by Requilac View Post
    6) When describing a god, which is the most important things to mention about them? Physical appearance, domain, behavior, related creatures/races and the worship of them in the real world are all signifigant. Which are the more important aspects to detail and which can be left to assumption?
    In a recent setting I was making for friends, I retooled the standard D&D pantheon, but to give players a sense of what I was doing, I gave 3 sections of data (each ranging 1 to 4 paragraphs in detail).

    What do the deity's skeptics say or believe?
    What do the common revering populace believe about the deity?
    What do that deity's own clerics think about their deity?
    And "attributed manifestations" is a category for describing what kinds of events that people most commonly attribute to the influence of that particular deity.

    For example, Fharlagnhn is thought by skeptics to be a superstitious conglomeration of travelers fables designed to warn people to not let the strangeness of foreign lands to make them mean spirited towards others. Meanwhile the reverent population sees him as the guardian of roads and travel, so they erect shrines at most roads just outside of towns so people can leave an offering before a trip to protect them on their journey and/or offer gratitude upon safe arrival. Finally, the clerics realize the common practices are largely harmless superstitions, as Fharlagnhn is a cosmic deity of time and space. Humanoid mortals are actually quite spectacularly beneath his notice and "answered prayers" are more commonly sheer coincidence. His clerice are mostly stargazers who track their deity's movement to generate maps and discern safe and even magical methods of travel. They are professional Pathfinders, walking in the wake of a cosmic being like a school of fish swimming behind an enormous whale to reduce the effort in passing through the water in which they live. Some clerics sell their services as wayfarers, while others just go out on Time Lord style adventures to go see strange places just because they can. They don't usually bother correcting public misconceptions as it really doesn't matter that they have incorrect assumptions about Fharlagnhn. It doesn't bother the deity that he is misunderstood, so he's not going to smite them for their lack of faith.

    Whether any of it is true about the deity or not isn't so important to the players as having the sense that the characters in the story have a reason for believing as they do.

    Quote Originally Posted by Requilac View Post
    7) What are the most important aspects to consider when describing a country? Geography, culture, racial/species demographics, system of governing, economy and laws are all of some sort of significance.
    It feels like these are the details a table is likely to change to suit their needs anyway, so I'd focus on these details as a broad brush framework. Geographically, is it warm, cold, temperate? Note worthy geological formations (caves, mountains, forests, rivers) because that's probably where we'll adventure.

    Race demographics help give an idea how our characters will "fit" in the place they walk, but it can be a bit immersion breaking if these demographics are too literal, so it's more important to give a loose sense of what feels common so we know when something is different.

    I would tend to treat the government and economy each as a single NPC for the purpose of description. Again, there will be exceptional instances, but I want to know what stereotypes my character is using. Are lawmen typically trustworthy, or corrupt? Are merchants typically mechanical vending machines or charismatic hagglers? Is there a black market and how dangerous is it here.

    Quote Originally Posted by Requilac View Post
    8) When describing a race/species, what details should be highlighted the most? History, physical appearance, location, culture, general personality, and religion are all things to be considered.
    Again, I already have a set of ideas about the races as described in the PHB. If you've changed them in your setting, I need to know only what's changed. Even if you're just adding a new backstory to the race and otherwise they're unchanged, then that's what I need.

    Keep it limited to what makes this setting different than what is printed in the rule book.

    If that is substantially much, then I would focus on the elements most directly applicable to my character, which is backstory elements and cultural atmosphere (keep it vague rather than nuanced; we can refine it as we play). My character is likely an exception to racial personalities and religion. Knowing what gods are and what they stand for will determine my character's religion more than what his people tend to do.

    Quote Originally Posted by Requilac View Post
    9) Would you as a player and/or DM like to see a calendar of the campaign setting, replete with the dates of holidays, or is that too specific to be of any importance?
    That sounds like a lot of fun. Not sure why more games don't do that, actually. Just keep it it in the appendices where it's out of the way and easy to find.
    Quote Originally Posted by 2D8HP View Post
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    Default Re: What Type of Details Do People Want in the Description/Book of a Campaign Setting

    Quote Originally Posted by Requilac View Post
    In the fairly recent past I have decided to undergo the process of writing a campaign setting for D&D 5e. The game, edition and even the details of the campaign setting itself are mostly irrelevant to the question I am asking. Moving on, early on in my work on this project I was in a near constant debate of what exactly things should I detail. Each and every Plane of Existence, deity, country and race seems to be so comprehensive as to warrant a book of their own describing them. Now of course, I will not write a book for each individual feature because (a) no player would ever decide to read them and (b) it is much more work then I am willing to commit to. So this leaves me the debate of what I types of details should I include in the summaries done of all the different facets of the world. When I have to detail a deity in the short span of a few paragraphs, what should I mention? Do I give a paragraph long physical description of the god itself and their domain, or do I focus on their worship in the real world more? Sometimes these questions are not easily answered.

    [

    So playgrounders, I have requested your help in ending my minor internal conflict by asking you what aspects of something you want to hear most when seeing a summary or book of a campaign setting. ...
    In general I like an approach similar to the Silent Hill video games. What I am interacting with at this moment is in clear detail but stuff that Iím not dealing with is vague and shadowy. I know I can walk over there and see it if I need it, but I donít want to be distracted by irrelevancies.

    1) Say I where to write a brief summary of the entire campaign setting to submit at session 0 that would be approximately 5 paragraphs or so in length. What things would be most important for you to hear to develop a character? My formula is typically to have five paragraphs; one for a for a description of the themes, mood and genres, one for an overview of the structure and organization pantheon (without stating any specific gods), one for an overview on the prevalency and public opinion of magic, one for a very basic overview off the typical relations between countries, and one for a brief history of recent events. Is this an acceptable setup, or would you be looking for something else?
    In my experience that may even be too much if it is a well known setting. Iíve been in campaigns where the DM set the setting by saying ďitís based on Renaissance Italy, but with magic. The church treats magic as heresyĒ. However if youíre dealing with a less familiar setting then a bit more detail.

    2) Knowing that almost every campaign will take place on the Material Plane, how much do you care about hearing about the other Planes of Existence? Would you like a 5 paragraph description of each, or perhaps do you only want a 1 paragraph overview of it? Do you care most about its physical appearance, inhabitants, or the methods in which to get to that plane? Would you like to hear about individual countries within those planes, or would a broad overview of its power structure suffice?
    Let me know it exists. Give me an info dump in the campaign if it becomes relavent. It takes away from gaming time to hear about details that donít affect the game.

    3) Would you actually like to hear an explanation of the mechanisms and functioning of magic, or is that so unlikely to be relevant that you wouldn't care? 5e uses the system of "The Weave" to explain this, but if the campaign setting I was using offered a different explanation would you like to hear it? If it was so complex as to take up a whole page to explain, would you still care to read through it or would that be too much for you?
    If Iím not a magic user I donít want to hear about it. If I am a magic user I want to know whatís relavent to making my spells work. So for starting level adventures probably not. At higher levels if Iím trying to develop a new spell or reverse engineer some magic item then it becomes useful
    4) Of course everyone wants to know a general level of magic in the world for character creation, but how specific would you like to get? Would you like to hear about the approximate number of and percentage of the population who are magic users in each country, or is that a little too specific so as to be immersion breaking.
    I am OK with a general description- high level of magic, low level magic, magic is rare, divine magic is common but arcane is rare etc. Getting into stats would break the immersion.

    5) Would you like to hear about how each different school of magic is viewed in the world, or is a general overview of the public opinion on magic overall good enough?
    Generalities are fine unless there is something specific. Itís common for settings to say something like that necromantic magic is considered evil but divination is considered good.
    6) When describing a god, which is the most important things to mention about them? Physical appearance, domain, behavior, related creatures/races and the worship of them in the real world are all signifigant. Which are the more important aspects to detail and which can be left to assumption?
    How many Gods in your Pantheon? If itís more than 3 or 4 itís too much detail to go into that for every God. The exception would be if you plan to make religion a vital part of the campaign.
    7) What are the most important aspects to consider when describing a country? Geography, culture, racial/species demographics, system of governing, economy and laws are all of some sort of significance.
    Whatever you can fit into one paragraph. If Iím not interacting with the government then one word (kingdom, democracy, empire) is all I want. If Iím not actively trading then again one word (agrarian, trading, industrial) is all I need. Just keep it broad unles thereís something specific that is important to the adventure. I donít need to know the intricacies of the legal system unless Iím arrested. I will assume that normal behaviours are treated normally (theft bad, murder/assault bad, magic is tolerated) unless told otherwise.
    8) When describing a race/species, what details should be highlighted the most? History, physical appearance, location, culture, general personality, and religion are all things to be considered.
    Why do the players need to know this? Emphasize what the players need to know and fill in details later.
    9) Would you as a player and/or DM like to see a calendar of the campaign setting, replete with the dates of holidays, or is that too specific to be of any importance?
    This is actually a really good idea. Iíve lived in Japan and there are a lot of national and local festivals which add color to the world. Also they can be triggers for campaign events. But only the most important ones need to be explained. Local festivals can be added when/if theyíre going to impact on the plot. For example thereís a knife festival in Seki, Gifu prefecture in mid October in Japan. Add something like that to your work to give your adventurers an opportunity to buy rare blades they normally couldnít buy or get a new weapon at a discount price.

    Making these events regular enough that the party has opportunities to go to them, but not so regular that missing them is no problem could also add to the sense of time passing in game.

    Of course, an obvious answer to these questions would simply be too "include as much as possible". The issue with that is if I did that then the campaign setting's description may become so long and bloated that few players would even take the time to skim through it. So, we need to at least get a little specific. Thank you in advance to anyone who responds, I am grateful for any help I can get.
    My advice overall is to apply the ďSo what?Ē test. Imagine yourself as a player and then thinking about the information thatís been given. If the answer to ďSo what?Ē Is a shrug of the shoulders donít give it.

    Iím not saying donít do the work. Just remember as a DM there are a lot of times where the players will never see the preparation you put into the game. On the other sode of the coin donít put yourself through preparing a mountain of backstory if the adventurers never venture to that part of your world. If they decide to go on a quest to go there you have a week or two to develop extra details from your shorter version.

  14. - Top - End - #14
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    Default Re: What Type of Details Do People Want in the Description/Book of a Campaign Setting

    Quote Originally Posted by Randuir View Post
    You don't have to go super specific, but even just making a 1-line mention of one or two orders of blade-masters gives the players a mundane ideal they can aspire to. It moves the text from 'there's magic which can do this awesome stuff (oh, and you could swing a sword around, I guess)' to 'There's magic, which can do this awesome stuff, and there's this order of blade-masters that teach worthy pupils to do awesome stuff with swords as well'.
    I suppose that is certainly true. I am trying to describe a low magic setting, so focusing on the mundane is certainly something I would need to do. This would have never come naturally to me, thank you Randuir.

    Quote Originally Posted by MoiMagnus View Post
    It does to an extend. But not as much as you think, since it depends a lot on the "rules of magic".
    +If magic is hereditary, it makes bloodline central to the universe.
    +If anybody can learn magic, education is the core, but since the elite has more access to it, it become "kind of hereditary"
    +If only random peoples can learn magic, it would be very difficult for an aristocracy to stabilise itself, so bloodline would be far less relevant than factions/nations/...

    In standard med-fan, you have two opposite trope:
    + everyone has some kind of "old powerful blood", or "family artefact that only respond to the rightfull heir", or "family blood curse/blessing", ...
    + people are "chosen by the fate", come from nowhere, and everybody can become a hero whatever their ancestors.

    Standard D&D is somewhere in between depending on the setting and the DM.
    The thing about that is it assumes the magic is a central value on society. If I am designing a relatively low magic setting where less than 1% of the population uses magic, then would it really make sense to shape societal values based on that? What about if magic isn't in high public opinion and is accepted but looked down upon in most countries? I simply can't imagine societal values being so universal in such a place.

    Quote Originally Posted by MoiMagnus View Post
    The exact name and number of mounthes of the calendar are kind of meaningless.
    In my last campaign, our DM used the French Revolutionary Calendar (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French...lican_calendar) instead of the Gregorian one. In 3 years of campaign, we had less than 5 moments where we actually used the name of the mounthes, since most of the time we used relative time (in one mounth, last year, ...)
    I already stated the reason why I thought that calendar would be important, but that was to someone else so I am not sure if you read it or not so I will just quote myself here.

    " I was thinking that a calendar may be important because some of the gods are heavily related to the stars and specific constellations, so I think having a way to identify which god's constellation is in the sky at what time could be an interesting plot hook. For example, I was thinking about saying something like "On the ides of the 7th moon the Great Tree Constellation, the sign of the god Cohdwiggoed, is seen directly above the observatory at Orcinople at 12:00. It is said that at that time certain blessed plants of primordial origin would spring to life and hunt down those that have wronged Cohwiggoed until the dawn of the next day."
    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    I quite like the presentation format of Cinderheim. This is a sample of a town and its major NPCs, I believe taken straight from the book. It's incredibly dense, giving you a lot to work with that is quick to look up and establishes the tone for making up your own additional details.
    That is certainly an interesting and effective way to do it, but the more literary part of me feels disatisfied by this. All the descriptions done here as so toneless, to the point and without any sort of imaginative descriptions. It seems to oversimplify everything and break the world down to its bare statistics. This approach just just feels so, I don't know the right word, maybe empty, to me. Like it doesn't convey the feeling of phantasmagorical imagination that I want in TRPGs. That sort of dispassionate approach is excellent for business and science, but I am not sure if I want my TRPGs to be treated with the same attitude.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pleh View Post
    I'm not too worried about themes, mood, and genre, actually, because those elements are more produced by how my table plays and the crunch mechanics than the setting.
    I suppose themes, mood and genre which are suggested and supported by the setting may be a more accurate description of what I am looking for. Every D&D campaign setting is naturally suited towards some genres over others, and I want to make that clear in my setting what is the expectation. To me it simply establishes how the play style would be affected by this and gives the players a good idea of what to expect and build for. Sure, table specifics vary, but if you play a game in say Ravenloft, Dark Sun or Eberron, then there would always be some overarching element to it regardless of the table.


    Quote Originally Posted by Pleh View Post
    I want 3 sets of knowledge: common knowledge, expert knowledge, native knowledge...

    Are there any important wizard colleges/towers? Any important political or historical wizards shaping the world? What's the differences between the preconceptions of their celebrity with who they really are? Gandalf was often taken for some meddling old magician, which was both partly true and woefully misleading. It depended largely on who appreciated his work defending freedom and peace for the common folk and whose political toes got stepped on in doing so. So for any important characters, maybe a short paragraph about what a friendly, neutral, and antagonistic person might say about that celebrity. None of it needs to be accurate. The figure might be totally misunderstood by supporters and detractors alike. But I need to know what opinions my character would already be exposed to (even if half the adventure is overturning that info)...

    What do the deity's skeptics say or believe?
    What do the common revering populace believe about the deity?
    What do that deity's own clerics think about their deity?
    And "attributed manifestations" is a category for describing what kinds of events that people most commonly attribute to the influence of that particular deity.
    These are all actually ideas which I find particularly fascinating. Not giving all the PCs the same information on a subject would really be a better reflection of what that character should know. Thank you for submitting this idea, I well see what I can do with it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pauly View Post
    How many Gods in your Pantheon? If itís more than 3 or 4 itís too much detail to go into that for every God. The exception would be if you plan to make religion a vital part of the campaign.
    The question of how many Gods in the pantheon I am creating is a confusing and complex one which isn't really relevant to the purpose of this thread. For now lets simplify it and say that it is a pantheon of 20 gods, but there isn't much organization to them.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pauly View Post
    Why do the players need to know this? Emphasize what the players need to know and fill in details later.
    You know what, I never really asked them why the players want to know so much about the races. What I do know is that question regarding races in the campaign setting are brought up by more than half of the players, and my inability to answer those questions (because I hadn't thought about them) was one of the driving motivations for me to record my thoughts on the setting in a document. I know that I would care as a player is because my character's species would largely shape their backstory and parts of their personality, so I would want to know how it would influence my PC, but I can't verify that this is why other people are asking about it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pauly View Post

    This is actually a really good idea. Iíve lived in Japan and there are a lot of national and local festivals which add color to the world. Also they can be triggers for campaign events. But only the most important ones need to be explained. Local festivals can be added when/if theyíre going to impact on the plot. For example thereís a knife festival in Seki, Gifu prefecture in mid October in Japan. Add something like that to your work to give your adventurers an opportunity to buy rare blades they normally couldnít buy or get a new weapon at a discount price.
    That is absolutely one of the reasons why I wanted to include holidays in the write-up for the campaign. They really do give some flavor in the world and make for a great way to introduce them to culture. Usually I was thinking more along the lines of religious holidays related to constellations, but having some more cultural like the ones you stated above could be just as important. The idea of holidays effecting what goods or services are available and how they are received is a very immersive way of doing it which I had never considered.
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  15. - Top - End - #15
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    Default Re: What Type of Details Do People Want in the Description/Book of a Campaign Setting

    Quote Originally Posted by Requilac View Post
    These are all actually ideas which I find particularly fascinating. Not giving all the PCs the same information on a subject would really be a better reflection of what that character should know. Thank you for submitting this idea, I well see what I can do with it.

    The question of how many Gods in the pantheon I am creating is a confusing and complex one which isn't really relevant to the purpose of this thread. For now lets simplify it and say that it is a pantheon of 20 gods, but there isn't much organization to them.

    You know what, I never really asked them why the players want to know so much about the races. What I do know is that question regarding races in the campaign setting are brought up by more than half of the players, and my inability to answer those questions (because I hadn't thought about them) was one of the driving motivations for me to record my thoughts on the setting in a document. I know that I would care as a player is because my character's species would largely shape their backstory and parts of their personality, so I would want to know how it would influence my PC, but I can't verify that this is why other people are asking about it.

    That is absolutely one of the reasons why I wanted to include holidays in the write-up for the campaign. They really do give some flavor in the world and make for a great way to introduce them to culture. Usually I was thinking more along the lines of religious holidays related to constellations, but having some more cultural like the ones you stated above could be just as important. The idea of holidays effecting what goods or services are available and how they are received is a very immersive way of doing it which I had never considered.
    I think there is a very good case to be made for limiting the playerís knowledge to what the character knows. Especially with respect to Gods and geo-politics.

    I suspect the reason why players want to know about races is so that the players can have meta knowledge that their characters donít. If you have an all human party and they want to know about dwarves, you might say ďYou have never seen a dwarf. The stories say that they are argumentative and prone to violenceĒ Then when they encounter dwarves later in the story it might be ďOh, thatís gold dwarves, Iím a stoned dwarf, Iím nothing like thatĒ.

    Iím big on slowly revealing information to the party opposed to giving them info dumps.

    For the festivals, based on my experience of living in Japan.
    - Some religous festivals are universally celebrated.
    - Some religous festivals are only celebrated in a specific location.
    - In addition to religous festivals there are social festivals like the ďcoming of ageĒ events or anniversaries of important events.
    - trade festivals, like the Seki knife festival, are held in or near manufacturing centers once a year.
    - antique festivals with the good stuff at good prices are more common in old money cities like Kyoto. If you go to a modern city like Tokyo the prices go up, if you go a historicall less wealthy area like Oamori prefecture prices are good, but selection is poor. Trading ports like Fukuoka will have more exotic antiques.
    - there are trade competitions, like the Tsuchiura fireworks competition which attract competitors from all over Japan, and winning prizes increase their prestige.

    You can even add in athletic events a la the ancient Olympic Games, or the archery contest from the Robin Hood legends.

    So the idea of a calender gives you plenty of storyhooks, beyond marking time.

    Example Calender:
    January: New Years religous festival
    February: Magicianís competition
    March: Trade ships from the mysterious east are allowed to dock
    April: Feats of strength competition
    May: Spring religous festival
    June: Bladesmithís Festival
    July: Annual payment of taxes
    August: The big antiques market
    September: Archery competition.
    October: Religous festival for the dead
    November: Armorerís festival
    December: End of year festival - social.

    If the key festivals are in different cities it creates natural reasons for travel and associated encounters/quests.

    Edit to add:
    You have obviously put a lot of time into the world. Have you though about telling your players. The adventure starts in Town [X] The races available to play in this town are Human, Half-Elf and Elf. Here are the full backstories for these races. Elsewhere in the world are dwarves, halflings, gnomes etc. You only know so much about those races. But after those races are encountered the players then Ďunlockí that race as a playable race. It might be a bit constraining in the first campaign, but as players explore the world or start a new campaigns they get a wider choice based on experience they have earned as a player.
    Last edited by Pauly; 2018-11-12 at 02:09 AM.

  16. - Top - End - #16
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    Default Re: What Type of Details Do People Want in the Description/Book of a Campaign Setting

    As to the original question--

    It depends on whether I'm a prospective DM or a prospective player. As a DM, I need lots of detail about random-seeming things, because those might become relevant somewhere down the line. Or might shape how I run things.

    As a player, I need some indication of what my character would know without having to try. Call it a "common knowledge" document.

    As to prolixity, I'm a bad one to talk. My "common knowledge" document for the basic play area is about 40 pages long and only has a small fraction of the information. But it's mainly for me. I have a couple much shorter "player's guide" documents

    Players Guide to Character Creation
    Players Guide to Nations and Cultures (needs updating)
    Players Guide to Gods and Religion (This one needs some changing to make it more player-centric)

    As well as lots of supplemental information available to anyone who cares to peruse the site. Most of that is for me so I can remember what I did/designed earlier, but I think I'm up to over 100 1-3 page articles, with some clocking in much longer than that. Probably 200+ pages total.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pauly View Post
    Edit to add:
    You have obviously put a lot of time into the world. Have you though about telling your players. The adventure starts in Town [X] The races available to play in this town are Human, Half-Elf and Elf. Here are the full backstories for these races. Elsewhere in the world are dwarves, halflings, gnomes etc. You only know so much about those races. But after those races are encountered the players then Ďunlockí that race as a playable race. It might be a bit constraining in the first campaign, but as players explore the world or start a new campaigns they get a wider choice based on experience they have earned as a player.
    This is something I've done in my setting, except it's a bit broader than a single group because I run a "living setting" with multiple simultaneous groups. As people go places and do things, other options become available for future groups. Changes they make persist, and retired PCs become NPCs for others to interact with (unless they die, of course).
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    Default Re: What Type of Details Do People Want in the Description/Book of a Campaign Setting

    Short version:
    Read 1st ed. Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide and steal your butt off make an artistic tribute to it in your own work.
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    Default Re: What Type of Details Do People Want in the Description/Book of a Campaign Setting

    Quote Originally Posted by Requilac View Post
    Interesting you actually choose those two as examples of things not relevant to character creation. In my personal experience most players' first question on a campaign setting regard the prevalence of magic, which would effect whether they would play a caster or not, and up close to the second most asked questions are on the relations between countries, so that they know not to pick PC races that would conflict with each other if included in a party. May I ask why you find these details irrelevant, because that certainly seem to be a deviant, but not necessarily wrong, opinion on the matter?
    If the prevalence of magic is significant of a difference from most standard D&D settings, then yes, that is one of those "relevant to character creation" type of details. But a lot of players who like playing spellcasters have a class or two that they prefer to play, regardless.

    And relations between countries might be something I'd bring up on a case-by-case basis if it's going to be relevant. Example: if the Wood Elves and Forest Gnomes don't get along, and one of your players makes a Forest Gnome, then only bring it up if a player says they'd like to play a Wood Elf.

    Quote Originally Posted by Requilac View Post
    I don't have any plans for publishing the campaign setting as in selling it persay, but I was going to post it over a couple of forums that anyone who wishes to could use it. In all honesty though, I have my doubts that anyone except for me will actually use it. Who knows though, maybe a player of mine might get inspired to DM their own campaign in it ? Regardless, the book would be much more written for my own benefit than anything else.
    Then it's a lot like my campaign world binder. My handouts to players are fairly short, and focus largely on what's different from Core assumptions, or to highlight special case scenarios. Races, for example. I classify all races in the game as Green Light, Yellow Light, or Red Light. Green Light is allowable with no special considerations, even if there may be some more detail about how that race fits in to my world (Dragonborn are a great example. I have a whole continent filled with them, and ruled over by dragons, and has a very "Oriental Adventures" kind of theme. But many dragonborn families emigrated to the main continent a few generations ago, and some abandoned their old culture, some did not. That just gives the player some detail about how his dragonborn can fit into my world). Yellow Light is allowable, but there is some kind of restriction, usually a background issue (My favorite example here is drow. I detest the "drizzt clone" archetype, to include all "rebels from the Underdark" themes. There are, however, 2 settlements of drow living on the surface in my world. A small town made up of a lot of drow who are-or are descended from-Underdark refugees, and a single large city that-for reasons that would take too long to go into-is accepting of surface drow. Point is, drow PCs were born and lived their entire life on the surface, and have never even met a cleric of Lolth). Red Light is made up of those races that my default answer is "no". Now story trumps any other kind of restriction for me, however. So I may not have a lot of detail as to what lizardfolk society is like, other than primitive swamp-dwellers, and lizardfolk outside those tribes are SUPER rare, but if a player impresses me with a VERY detailed characterization and background for a lizardfolk character...I may relent and allow it.

    So I just gave a lot of detail there, but for the most part, I hand out a single sheet of paper with an itemized list under "Green/Yellow/Red Light", and the aforementioned table with brief table for deities relevant to player characters. Back when I did it in 4e, some classes were Green/Yellow/Red light as well. I haven't run a game in awhile, so I have not yet examined some of the post-PHB subclasses for how they may fit into my world. If a player was interested in a drow, for example, they will ask "why is drow 'Yellow Light'? What's the restriction there?", and then I will give those details.


    Quote Originally Posted by Requilac View Post
    I have introduced exactly six new races to the campaign setting, and there is a possibility for more of them to be added, but I doubt it. Why do you ask?
    I ask because it was relevant to your question about what to include for races. Do Elves, Dwarves, Gnomes, and Halflings conform to PHB norms? If yes, then there's very little to say about them, and I certainly wouldn't include anything like physical description or anything else redundant with the PHB.

    If you have 6 whole new races, I would create a second "races handout", to show to players. The reason I mentioned using the 3e Eberron Campaign Setting as an example, is because the Race section of that book introduced 4 new races. Each race got a fairly detailed writeup about their physical description, culture, place in the world, followed by the crunchy bits of their actual racial stats. And then what followed was a short section on each of the PHB races, and how the were different in Eberron. Elves, for example, gave a short description about the Aerenai Elves, the Valenar Elves, and the rest of Khorvarian Elves. Halflings section talked a bit about the Talenta Halfling culture, and so on.

    I would, however, preface this handout with a brief list and description. Example: The Nemo: A race of fish-like humanoids who can travel on land if need be (+2DEX/+1CON, abilties related to water). Followed by another short one-line description for each of the other races.

    Look, the bottom line is that you don't want to bore your players who are just there to play a game. Yes, you may be fortunate to be blessed with some in-depth role players who really want to immerse themselves in the world before they even make a character. But you may not. And your handouts to players should provide useful information while not alienating or boring the crap out of the less invested players (who will, hopefully, get drawn in to the world once the story starts more). Provide more detail as it is requested from the ones who want it.

    Above all, and I am assuming here that most of your players have played D&D before and know the basics, your handouts to your players should emphasize what's different about YOUR world. If there are no kenku or tabaxi in your world, say so. If paladins are only trained by formal knightly orders, say so. Have a brief synopsis for all them to read, with more details available upon request. I would make any handout that I'm giving to all my players no longer than a single sheet. Printed double-sided if you just REALLY can't shorten it any more.
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    Default Re: What Type of Details Do People Want in the Description/Book of a Campaign Setting

    Time to throw in my two cents! Please note I'm a more loosey-goosey, world and rules to serve story as opposed to other way around. I'm the guy who would rather be given more creative freedom in a skeleton world then be forced to play in a sprawling, well-planned world and be forced to adhere to the canon. With that known, here you go!

    Quote Originally Posted by Requilac View Post
    1) Say I where to write a brief summary of the entire campaign setting to submit at session 0 that would be approximately 5 paragraphs or so in length. What things would be most important for you to hear to develop a character? My formula is typically to have five paragraphs; one for a for a description of the themes, mood and genres, one for an overview of the structure and organization pantheon (without stating any specific gods), one for an overview on the prevalency and public opinion of magic, one for a very basic overview off the typical relations between countries, and one for a brief history of recent events. Is this an acceptable setup, or would you be looking for something else?
    As a player, that would be well and good, but I would personally restructure a bit.
    Paragraph 1: Themes, mood, ect. is all well and good. I would want to know that.
    Paragraph 2: I would want to know the geography and history here, along with some interesting places to fit a backstory into. Magic and god stuff can come slightly later.
    Paragraph 3: Organizations I can be a part of/aspire to belong to. This is a great way to get players involved your world, and you can include some notes on magic and gods sprinkled throughout with the wizard- and cleric-based factions.
    Paragraph 4: Magic stuff if you really want to. Most players really want to know 'if I play a cleric, what domain would I be' and 'can I play X type of arcane caster'. If there's nothing remarkable about these answers, I'd say use this space for more juicy lore hooks.

    Just make sure the players read this doc and get ideas from what you have written for a cool character, not the other way around. I'm still trying to improve that myself...

    2) Knowing that almost every campaign will take place on the Material Plane, how much do you care about hearing about the other Planes of Existence? Would you like a 5 paragraph description of each, or perhaps do you only want a 1 paragraph overview of it? Do you care most about its physical appearance, inhabitants, or the methods in which to get to that plane? Would you like to hear about individual countries within those planes, or would a broad overview of its power structure suffice?
    I love cosmologies, especially considering how much I steal from other people's. That said, I don't really need much on them. An overview of how it works and a few paragraphs on each with some interesting locations within panes highlighted is perfect or me- I get a feel for the planes, how they might function mechanically and thematically, and some places for my players to visit.

    3) Would you actually like to hear an explanation of the mechanisms and functioning of magic, or is that so unlikely to be relevant that you wouldn't care? 5e uses the system of "The Weave" to explain this, but if the campaign setting I was using offered a different explanation would you like to hear it? If it was so complex as to take up a whole page to explain, would you still care to read through it or would that be too much for you?
    Unless it affects how I build my character and cast my spells, a sidebar would be best. If it's weird enough to upend the PHB options, I want to hear more about it.

    4) Of course everyone wants to know a general level of magic in the world for character creation, but how specific would you like to get? Would you like to hear about the approximate number of and percentage of the population who are magic users in each country, or is that a little too specific so as to be immersion breaking.
    I'd just like to know, essentially, is there a cleric and a wizard in every little tower or temple? How powerful are they? How common is world-shaking magic? I need to know how to build adventures and stock loot so my payers will be successful- if every cleric is the Chosen of God, and can cast Mass Heal, my players won't need many magic band-aids.

    5) Would you like to hear about how each different school of magic is viewed in the world, or is a general overview of the public opinion on magic overall good enough?
    A paragraph on any schools of magic treated out of the ordinary would be nice, and a general overview is well and good, but if it's as you would expect, then no need.

    6) When describing a god, which is the most important things to mention about them? Physical appearance, domain, behavior, related creatures/races and the worship of them in the real world are all significant. Which are the more important aspects to detail and which can be left to assumption?
    Domain, portfolio, and name are all I need. But it would be nice to know what they're like, what their temples are like, and how their clerics behave. Anything past that really isn't too necessary outside of overly specific games.

    7) What are the most important aspects to consider when describing a country? Geography, culture, racial/species demographics, system of governing, economy and laws are all of some sort of significance.
    Geography (preferably a map, no one wants to slog through text about the marsh north of the mountains east of the desert south of the grasslands), cultural influences (you don't need to describe it in detail if you put "see Rome circa 0 AD", we know what that should feel like and be), demographics (not necessarily percentages, but 'X is rare, X is common' type deal), governing plus NPCs that might be important within that, factions in the area. Economy and laws not really- I can handwave those in my game and no one bats an eye.

    8) When describing a race/species, what details should be highlighted the most? History, physical appearance, location, culture, general personality, and religion are all things to be considered.
    Gloss over major points of history (but I don't need to know about the Slight Economic Recession of King Whatshisface), physical appearance, location, general culture (but I don't need to know about the One Specific Coming-of-Age Ritual that Doesn't Really Matter), and religion. Also maybe a list of suggested classes and archetypes might be nice?

    9) Would you as a player and/or DM like to see a calendar of the campaign setting, replete with the dates of holidays, or is that too specific to be of any importance?
    GOD no. I never use that, and when I do, I just use real-world equivalents. It's not important enough to warrant page space you could fill with valuable information.
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    Default Re: What Type of Details Do People Want in the Description/Book of a Campaign Setting

    Quote Originally Posted by Requilac View Post
    So this leaves me the debate of what I types of details should I include in the summaries done of all the different facets of the world. When I have to detail a deity in the short span of a few paragraphs, what should I mention? Do I give a paragraph long physical description of the god itself and their domain, or do I focus on their worship in the real world more? Sometimes these questions are not easily answered.
    Personally I don't particularly care that much about the physical description or domain - the deity almost certainly holds no interest, the religion built around them does. Their appearance would get maybe a sentence (and even then that's a concession to the whole gods appearing in dreams thing you're doing), the structure of the religion a paragraph.

    Quote Originally Posted by Requilac View Post
    1) Say I where to write a brief summary of the entire campaign setting to submit at session 0 that would be approximately 5 paragraphs or so in length. What things would be most important for you to hear to develop a character? My formula is typically to have five paragraphs; one for a for a description of the themes, mood and genres, one for an overview of the structure and organization pantheon (without stating any specific gods), one for an overview on the prevalency and public opinion of magic, one for a very basic overview off the typical relations between countries, and one for a brief history of recent events. Is this an acceptable setup, or would you be looking for something else?
    This balance seems odd. Going paragraph through paragraph here: Themes, mood, and genre getting a paragraph seems reasonable, one on pantheon organization seems like a waste (that fits better as a sentence or two embedded in something else), a paragraph on magic reasonable, a paragraph on basic politics reasonable, and a paragraph on recent events reasonable. It's the holes here that seem off though - where's the paragraph for current cultures? Social structures, values, material culture, where is it? Those aspects are pretty key to me, and while I can make a character without them I'd be going in to the setting largely disinterested.

    Quote Originally Posted by Requilac View Post
    2) Knowing that almost every campaign will take place on the Material Plane, how much do you care about hearing about the other Planes of Existence? Would you like a 5 paragraph description of each, or perhaps do you only want a 1 paragraph overview of it? Do you care most about its physical appearance, inhabitants, or the methods in which to get to that plane? Would you like to hear about individual countries within those planes, or would a broad overview of its power structure suffice?
    Does the ordinary person interact with these planes? Do people interact with them enough at all for it to trickle down to ordinary people? I'm guessing mostly no to both of these, which means that the one paragraph overview is, if anything, excessive. Especially because those 5 paragraphs could be aimed at information about the inhabitants of the material plane instead, which question 1 barely adressed.

    Quote Originally Posted by Requilac View Post
    3) Would you actually like to hear an explanation of the mechanisms and functioning of magic, or is that so unlikely to be relevant that you wouldn't care? 5e uses the system of "The Weave" to explain this, but if the campaign setting I was using offered a different explanation would you like to hear it? If it was so complex as to take up a whole page to explain, would you still care to read through it or would that be too much for you?
    Maybe. It depends on how important it is in the setting, and it's more the user end stuff that's interesting. If all magic works through contact with particular spirits, which are characters in their own right, and you cast spells by negotiation with them? That's pretty critical. If magic requires special crystals which are an actual mineral harvested and traded like any other mineral resource? Again, pretty critical, cover that. Something like the weave? That feels like a bit of a waste of space. I don't need a justification for why your setting gets to have magic, so if there isn't something interesting there that reflects on the setting in more ways than "it gets to have the magic you already know it has from the mechanics" the section is a waste.

    Quote Originally Posted by Requilac View Post
    4) Of course everyone wants to know a general level of magic in the world for character creation, but how specific would you like to get? Would you like to hear about the approximate number of and percentage of the population who are magic users in each country, or is that a little too specific so as to be immersion breaking.
    It's not immersion breaking, but overall number and percentage are also not the best way to express the information. Instead, let's talk social structure again. Will a demense be expected to have a mage? A village? A town? A city? A country? Once you get to that first mage, what is their role in the community, how do they tend to operate? Once you start getting to groups of mages how do they organize?

    "There's 250,000 mages in Kaila, at 1.3% of the population" is information, yes. It's not useless. On the other hand "The Kailan nobility has resisted the adoption of academic magic due to its disruptive effects to the structure of nobility, and the mages in Kaila tend to come from and stay in a semi-autonomous tribal region where they are treated as one type of village specialist" is a whole lot more useful.

    Quote Originally Posted by Requilac View Post
    5) Would you like to hear about how each different school of magic is viewed in the world, or is a general overview of the public opinion on magic overall good enough?
    A general overview of the public opinion on magic overall can be enough for some settings, but it feels a bit minimal. More detailed material about the interactions of mages and wider societies ar going to be more interesting here. That said, going through the D&D schools of magic and how each school is perceived isn't a particularly interesting way of doing this, or one that necessarily

    Quote Originally Posted by Requilac View Post
    6) When describing a god, which is the most important things to mention about them? Physical appearance, domain, behavior, related creatures/races and the worship of them in the real world are all signifigant. Which are the more important aspects to detail and which can be left to assumption?
    This gets back to the whole "the god" versus "the religion" thing. The latter is much more interesting to me so I want the former covered just enough to justify the coverage of the latter, which I'd like to see some depth on.

    Quote Originally Posted by Requilac View Post
    7) What are the most important aspects to consider when describing a country? Geography, culture, racial/species demographics, system of governing, economy and laws are all of some sort of significance.
    These are all of significance, and these all feed into each other. That said, I'd focus on the low level stuff - how does this country look for people actually physically in it, at a basic level? The aspects PCs will interact with directly matter more, which generally comes down to "what sort of places are here, and who is in those places"? If a representative place is a fishing village, and you detail the boatwrights, sailors on the boats, fish smoking huts and fish smokers, council of village elders and the traders that come through for salted fish you've said a fair amount about the geography, culture, economy, etc.

    A quick high level overview followed by some paragraphs on particularly representative places is generally a solid way of doing things.

    Quote Originally Posted by Requilac View Post
    8) When describing a race/species, what details should be highlighted the most? History, physical appearance, location, culture, general personality, and religion are all things to be considered.
    I'm not generally fond of the whole monoculture, monoreligion race thing, which might make my perspective useless here. That said, I'd probably mostly embed this information in the details on countries, nomadic groups, clan structures, etc. That fishing village above is mostly elves? Cool*, now we know something about elves. I'd probably cover a bit on physical appearance, then a high level summary of those representative places through the lens of "all the places where [race] is found in significant numbers" instead of the lens of "all the places within [country]".

    Quote Originally Posted by Requilac View Post
    9) Would you as a player and/or DM like to see a calendar of the campaign setting, replete with the dates of holidays, or is that too specific to be of any importance?
    There's a point of detail where this does become useful information, so if you're making a 1000 page campaign setting, yeah, dedicate a page to the calendar. As we're talking about budgeting paragraphs though? There's more useful, more interesting material that can be used here. Significantly so.

    Quote Originally Posted by Requilac View Post
    I think you may have misinterpreted me. When I said calendar, I meant something like the Gregorian calendar, not like a schedule of events. The amount of moons/months in a year and the date at which the holidays occur at shouldn't change, even if the campaign is set a century later.
    You say that, but in any given century Rome would probably go through four to six calendars, and while the length of a year can be trusted to stay constant that's about it. They were a bit of an outlier, sure (nobody else was making calendars with 40+ days not even in months at times), but in general calendar standardization and stability is a relatively new thing, much like the standardization and stability of units.

    *Okay, so my actual response is more "ugh, elves again, just use humans", but for the sake of argument: Cool.
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    Default Re: What Type of Details Do People Want in the Description/Book of a Campaign Setting

    Quote Originally Posted by Requilac View Post
    Interesting, so you actually start by creating a map and then forming around the countries and monsters based around that? If you don't start out with an idea of the political atmosphere, then how do you know what the map should look like? Do you simply find one from another source, or do you draw it yourself based on your whims? I am intrigued by this process as I have never seen it before, and maps where never my strong suit.
    In my case, I'm working from an established map without much in terms of detail... there's a chunk I'm working with that has its last historical event 500 years ago, and a couple paragraphs in existing books.

    But, if I were to start with something blanker, I'd draw a map, and make a few broad sweeps... this is the !Roman empire, this is !Knightsandkings, here's the Hobgoblins, there the orcs. Once they're all on the map, we look at who they are and how they interact. We look at what else I am interested in including (goblins? elves? dragons?), and how they're going to fit between the big chunks I have outlined. This might wind up modifying my big chunks, but so long as no one has looked at those big chunks, yet, I can make all the changes I like.
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    Default Re: What Type of Details Do People Want in the Description/Book of a Campaign Setting

    Quote Originally Posted by Requilac View Post
    Interesting, so you actually start by creating a map and then forming around the countries and monsters based around that? If you don't start out with an idea of the political atmosphere, then how do you know what the map should look like? Do you simply find one from another source, or do you draw it yourself based on your whims? I am intrigued by this process as I have never seen it before, and maps where never my strong suit.
    Ooh. Yeah maps typically come either first or very early.

    I got inspired by watching the BBC's Planet Earth series. It really demostrates how all life forms, no matter how cleverly they adapt to their surroundings, are super dependent on their environment.

    Local geological and aquatic formations define what sorts of creatures and weather occupy the space.

    It seems premature to talk about socio-political economics before you've determined what the land provides to the subsistence farmers. All of society builds on the foundation of working together to live off the land.

    It's fine to have an idea for the socio-political culture first, but then you have to reverse engineer what landscape could generate those cultures. It's actually more natural to create a landscape first and describe how the occupying culture has domesticated the landscape.

    In one of my settings, I started with a mountain range close to the sea. The ocean naturally pushes warm, moist air inland over the coast, but it quickly runs into the mountain, which force the air to climb higher, where it rapidly cools and precipitates its water, which drains back down the mountainside. Just between the mountain and the sea are the Lowlands, which would be super great farmland, given the natural irrigation and constant silt supplied from the mountain, but it's actually OVER irrigated. The water flows so frequently and so heavily that the Lowlands have literally washed out, leaving muddy, low soil plains where few but the hardiest shrubberies naturally grow. Add to this that the Lowlands are fairly far north, so winters are harsh. With few natural plants, this does little to support herbivores, and thus predators as well as humanoids.

    This leaves the Lowlands economically impoverished as most of their resources are used just barely surviving year by year. Their dependence on the heavy handed aristocracy has little hope of changing, because they often are too preoccupied trying to prepare for and last through the winter. And where there is poverty with little economic opportunity for change, there will thrive banditry, piracy, and substance abuse. The River Bandits are usually tolerated well enough by the common folk when they keep to themselves. Sometimes they help out when times are tough. They are kin, after all, despite their shortcomings.

    There's a lot more, but I think that demonstrates the point.
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    Default Re: What Type of Details Do People Want in the Description/Book of a Campaign Setting

    I love stuff that can be easily converted or lifted. As a DM I am going to be running my own world (or something weird like Spelljammer), as a player I'm nearly always stuck in a Greyhawk or Forgotten Realms clone.

    I love the Rock of Baral, Waterdeep, Calimshan, Tyr and Nentir Vale books as I can simply rip them out and stick them in my game. Arabic city? I rename Calimshan. Small town? Nentir Vale or another one shots small town with a coat of paint. Evil city? Refluffed Tyr or Menzobarrazan. Having very focused works makes my life much easier, as I like exploration based campaigns.

    As a player I want cultures. Red Wizards of Thay or Minotaur Pirates, things I can use to make a fun character.

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    Default Re: What Type of Details Do People Want in the Description/Book of a Campaign Setting

    One thing I like to do is take real world maps, then rotate them 90 or 180 degrees move them to a different lattitude and then work out how that would change the climate.

    Your network of towns, borders, rivers and roads is all there for you but your players wonít recognize it.

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    Default Re: What Type of Details Do People Want in the Description/Book of a Campaign Setting

    Quote Originally Posted by Pauly View Post
    I think there is a very good case to be made for limiting the playerís knowledge to what the character knows. Especially with respect to Gods and geo-politics.

    I suspect the reason why players want to know about races is so that the players can have meta knowledge that their characters donít. If you have an all human party and they want to know about dwarves, you might say ďYou have never seen a dwarf. The stories say that they are argumentative and prone to violenceĒ Then when they encounter dwarves later in the story it might be ďOh, thatís gold dwarves, Iím a stoned dwarf, Iím nothing like thatĒ.
    I wouldn't say this is the case. Often times the players only ask me about the details of a race if they plan on choosing that race for their PC. I don't really think I have had many occasions in which a player decided to play one race and then asked about another. Maybe them wanting to know meta-knowledge is part of it, but it certainly can't be the predominant factor.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pauly View Post
    Iím big on slowly revealing information to the party opposed to giving them info dumps...

    So the idea of a calender gives you plenty of storyhooks, beyond marking time.

    If the key festivals are in different cities it creates natural reasons for travel and associated encounters/quests.
    I am honestly very fascinated by this concept of the holidays the more it is brought up. I will have to bring up an individual thread about this some day soon before I finish up the document. Thank you for the insight.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pauly View Post
    Edit to add:
    You have obviously put a lot of time into the world. Have you though about telling your players. The adventure starts in Town [X] The races available to play in this town are Human, Half-Elf and Elf. Here are the full backstories for these races. Elsewhere in the world are dwarves, halflings, gnomes etc. You only know so much about those races. But after those races are encountered the players then Ďunlockí that race as a playable race. It might be a bit constraining in the first campaign, but as players explore the world or start a new campaigns they get a wider choice based on experience they have earned as a player.
    The major problem with this is that I am not necessarily always playing with a consistent group over the years. I am actually a DM my games at an FLGS, but my experience is probably different than others in that I am familiar with essentially everyone who would be playing there and have been in a game with practically everyone who attends the events at this point. Because of this the people that play in one of my campaigns are not necessarily going to be the people who play in the next. To add on to this complication, most of my campaigns are focused one one particular area which is rarely ever larger than a country. I can't really rely on the system you would proposed because it would simply take much too long for everything to build up.

    Quote Originally Posted by RedMage125 View Post
    I ask because it was relevant to your question about what to include for races. Do Elves, Dwarves, Gnomes, and Halflings conform to PHB norms? If yes, then there's very little to say about them, and I certainly wouldn't include anything like physical description or anything else redundant with the PHB.
    The races in the setting don't conform to the "PHB norms" very well, but its not as if I am putting them in a context which is too alienated from what is expected. This campaign setting is massively focused on harkening back to mythological/folkloric origins and classic literature, so if I say "the elves in this setting are a lot closer to the form as they are presented in Irish folklore than in LotR", then I expect the players to at least have a frame of reference of what I am talking about.

    Quote Originally Posted by RedMage125 View Post
    Above all, and I am assuming here that most of your players have played D&D before and know the basics, your handouts to your players should emphasize what's different about YOUR world. If there are no kenku or tabaxi in your world, say so. If paladins are only trained by formal knightly orders, say so. Have a brief synopsis for all them to read, with more details available upon request. I would make any handout that I'm giving to all my players no longer than a single sheet. Printed double-sided if you just REALLY can't shorten it any more.
    I already implement this system essentially. Hence why I was asking about what people would like to see most in a 5 paragraph summary.

    Quote Originally Posted by Knaight View Post


    This balance seems odd. Going paragraph through paragraph here: Themes, mood, and genre getting a paragraph seems reasonable, one on pantheon organization seems like a waste (that fits better as a sentence or two embedded in something else), a paragraph on magic reasonable, a paragraph on basic politics reasonable, and a paragraph on recent events reasonable. It's the holes here that seem off though - where's the paragraph for current cultures? Social structures, values, material culture, where is it? Those aspects are pretty key to me, and while I can make a character without them I'd be going in to the setting largely disinterested.
    Keep in mind that this summary is off the world in which the campaign takes place in general, its not reflecting upon the specific country and fiefs in which the campaign takes place. I would go into more detail about the specific area in which the campaign takes place, but most of that information would be gradually revealed through gameplay and not directly stated at the beginning. Things such as social structures, values and culture are not universal across the world and would be better mentioned in a separate overview of the specific area than of a summary of the world as a whole.

    Quote Originally Posted by Knaight View Post
    Does the ordinary person interact with these planes? Do people interact with them enough at all for it to trickle down to ordinary people? I'm guessing mostly no to both of these, which means that the one paragraph overview is, if anything, excessive. Especially because those 5 paragraphs could be aimed at information about the inhabitants of the material plane instead, which question 1 barely adressed.
    Ordinary people wouldn't interact with the planes no, but the influence of the other planes of existence on the material plane in this setting are absolutely crucial to the world. All magic is related to the other planes, and essentially every race except for humans, orcs and goblinoids came to the Material Plane from another plane or were heavily altered by the influence of a powerful creating from beyond the Material Plane. So its probably going to be much more important to this setting than others.

    Quote Originally Posted by Knaight View Post
    You say that, but in any given century Rome would probably go through four to six calendars, and while the length of a year can be trusted to stay constant that's about it. They were a bit of an outlier, sure (nobody else was making calendars with 40+ days not even in months at times), but in general calendar standardization and stability is a relatively new thing, much like the standardization and stability of units.
    Oh yes, I perfectly recognized this is the case during world history. But I assumed that since the world of humans and similar races of the Material Plane where established by the same gods that everyone on the Material Plane would use the same calendar, which was established by the gods. I would go more into my rational about this and how it relates to history, but I worry that it would breach into the area of "discussion of real world religion".

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Hall View Post
    In my case, I'm working from an established map without much in terms of detail... there's a chunk I'm working with that has its last historical event 500 years ago, and a couple paragraphs in existing books.

    But, if I were to start with something blanker, I'd draw a map, and make a few broad sweeps... this is the !Roman empire, this is !Knightsandkings, here's the Hobgoblins, there the orcs. Once they're all on the map, we look at who they are and how they interact. We look at what else I am interested in including (goblins? elves? dragons?), and how they're going to fit between the big chunks I have outlined. This might wind up modifying my big chunks, but so long as no one has looked at those big chunks, yet, I can make all the changes I like.
    Thank you for the clarification, that definitely clears some things up. But I am still confused on to what I would even start with as a map. Do I just start drawing random shapes on a sheet and see what it comes out as? Do I make random combinations of geometric shapes on it? Where exactly do you begin with that sort of thing? Maps in real life are merely observations of what is physically seen, but I struggle to know how you could "imagine" a map that has any sort of coherency to it.


    Quote Originally Posted by Pauly View Post
    One thing I like to do is take real world maps, then rotate them 90 or 180 degrees move them to a different lattitude and then work out how that would change the climate.

    Your network of towns, borders, rivers and roads is all there for you but your players wonít recognize it.
    That is quite an amazing idea actually. Thank you for telling me about this, I will see if I can implement this.
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    Default Re: What Type of Details Do People Want in the Description/Book of a Campaign Setting

    I'll get into this more later, I keep meaning to but can't find the time to get into it in depth.

    The one thing I will say is that if your setting isn't "actual-earth", "not-earth", or "alternate-earth", you'd better have a different calendar and different holidays. The "names filed off" real-world holidays in World of Warcraft, for example, were jarring as heck.

    It's OK if you have holidays that exist on the same general points in the seasonal cycle and for the same reason, but don't carbon-copy all the observances and traditions and imagery. And holidays that highly contextual to real history should be right out, completely. Don't give us "Blessed Hearts" dedicated to the Love Goddess, with villagers leaving secret love notes and stringing up red paper lanterns, about halfway from Midwinter Fire to Springday -- everyone knows what it is you're selling, and many of them aren't going to buy it.
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    Default Re: What Type of Details Do People Want in the Description/Book of a Campaign Setting

    Quote Originally Posted by Requilac View Post
    Thank you for the clarification, that definitely clears some things up. But I am still confused on to what I would even start with as a map. Do I just start drawing random shapes on a sheet and see what it comes out as? Do I make random combinations of geometric shapes on it? Where exactly do you begin with that sort of thing? Maps in real life are merely observations of what is physically seen, but I struggle to know how you could "imagine" a map that has any sort of coherency to it.
    Pretty much, yeah. You can run all sorts of ways... use Civilization to randomly generate a few maps, or sketch out some things and start tossing down landforms.

    I find that maps can help suggest history... like, you are likely to have different societies on different sides of mountains, and you might have them on opposite sides of rivers.
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    Default Re: What Type of Details Do People Want in the Description/Book of a Campaign Setting

    Maps shouldn't be that hard to make. It isn't like the land masses on earth follow any sort of logical or consistent pattern. We have continents with mountains right on the edges, and some with them right in the middle. Some with lots and lots of water, some with very little. We have barren areas in the north, middle, and south. We have lush coastlines and barren coastlines.

    I could see it going either way. If you've got some specific ideas for cultures/races/nations you can make a map that would support that. You could also go the other direction, make a random map and then define the races/cultures/nations based on their geography. Most likely a hybrid, you've probably got some strong ideas for a few things, so you put them in the places that fit that, then fill in the rest with what would make sense for the terrain. Just avoid things that don't make any sense like a group that hates everyone else and would never trade/cooperate but live in a very harsh climate where growing/raise food would be very hard, or at least know that the groups will be very small.

    Groups in long standing conflict are probably located relatively close to each other, but with some form of natural boundary, but not an insurmountable one.
    You're not, however, likely to find "bitter rival nations" that are separated by 2-3 other nations between them, the conflict just doesn't make much sense that way.
    How much of a hinderance some things are depends on the technology level of the world. In a low tech world, distance or very harsh conditions can be a huge barrier, even water can really stifle things. But in a high tech setting oceans and mountains might not slow them down at all.


    What I would like to see in a setting overall depends a lot on whether or not I'm a player or a DM. A general feel for the culture and area is good for a player, but leaves a lot to fill in as a DM. The issue with details of course is leaving things open gives the DM a lot more room to change things, but as a DM if I'm going to have to make up or change large portions of the world then why am I using a pre-made setting rather than my own? It is a hard balance for sure.

    I would say that to take Golarion as an example the biggest questions I'm left with is how the various nations feel about each other, there is no sort of power blocks, or obvious allies or enemies. There is also no real road structure or indication as to how mobile different groups are. A path might be dangerous between two cities, but it would make sense for the closest major cities to have roads between them rather than any traveler taking a random path between them. There are also a number of races that don't really seen to have a place to be. Virtually every PCable race seems to be in a minority to humans in every area of the world.

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    Default Re: What Type of Details Do People Want in the Description/Book of a Campaign Setting

    Quote Originally Posted by Erloas View Post
    Maps shouldn't be that hard to make. It isn't like the land masses on earth follow any sort of logical or consistent pattern. We have continents with mountains right on the edges, and some with them right in the middle. Some with lots and lots of water, some with very little. We have barren areas in the north, middle, and south. We have lush coastlines and barren coastlines.
    There's a lot of consistent patterns - sure there's parts of local weirdness, but you do routinely see mountains in extended ranges. You see notable bands of weather that correspond to convection cells. You see thermal variability map pretty well to ocean proximity.

    That's not to say that it's at all necessary to go into that sort of detail with geography; most players won't care so if the GM making the setting doesn't, why bother? Similarly fantasy geography where bizarre landscapes are a deliberate setting characteristic is absolutely a thing.
    I would really like to see a game made by Obryn, Kurald Galain, and Knaight from these forums.

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    Default Re: What Type of Details Do People Want in the Description/Book of a Campaign Setting

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    I'll get into this more later, I keep meaning to but can't find the time to get into it in depth.

    The one thing I will say is that if your setting isn't "actual-earth", "not-earth", or "alternate-earth", you'd better have a different calendar and different holidays. The "names filed off" real-world holidays in World of Warcraft, for example, were jarring as heck.

    It's OK if you have holidays that exist on the same general points in the seasonal cycle and for the same reason, but don't carbon-copy all the observances and traditions and imagery. And holidays that highly contextual to real history should be right out, completely. Don't give us "Blessed Hearts" dedicated to the Love Goddess, with villagers leaving secret love notes and stringing up red paper lanterns, about halfway from Midwinter Fire to Springday -- everyone knows what it is you're selling, and many of them aren't going to buy it.
    Eh, maybe the word I use for holiday isn't the best. Half of them are really going to be more of "strange occurrences that happen on this specific date and time this month" than anything that would be celebrated in the common sense. See the example in spoilers below, which isn't necessarily something that people would celebrate for so much as prepare, which may or may not take the form of rituals. And if I do make a holiday which mimics one from the real world, it will be such an obscure one that I will truly be amazed if someone without at least a doctorate in World History could even identify the holiday, or even the culture it came from for that matter. I would love to give examples, but I fear it would breach into discussion of "real world religion" very quickly, even if I bring up an secular one.

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    " I was thinking that a calendar may be important because some of the gods are heavily related to the stars and specific constellations, so I think having a way to identify which god's constellation is in the sky at what time could be an interesting plot hook. For example, I was thinking about saying something like "On the ides of the 7th moon the Great Tree Constellation, the sign of the god Cohdwiggoed, is seen directly above the observatory at Orcinople at 12:00. It is said that at that time certain blessed plants of primordial origin would spring to life and hunt down those that have wronged Cohwiggoed until the dawn of the next day."


    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Hall View Post
    Pretty much, yeah. You can run all sorts of ways... use Civilization to randomly generate a few maps, or sketch out some things and start tossing down landforms.

    I find that maps can help suggest history... like, you are likely to have different societies on different sides of mountains, and you might have them on opposite sides of rivers.
    So I start drawing random shapes and lines on a paper like a five year old on a sugar high until it comes to what I am looking for? Not quite what I expected, but I guess I will just have to take your word for it as the more experienced world builder. This will either turn out very well or very poorly, but I will not get that answer until I try. Thank you once again.
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