Saturday, February 18, 2012

Campaign Worlds - Homebrew or Off the Shelf?

Do you design your own campaign worlds or buy one of the shelf (virtual or brick n mortar)?

I ask, because although I've had ideas for campaign worlds (or areas of worlds) the amount of time needed to build a world for play seems time prohibitive in my 40's - wife, kid, job, gaming in general - heck, even blogging - keeps me from having the time needed to homebrew a world.

It was different in high school and college, when I mapped out and designed three campaign worlds, but looking back - they're crap.  I'd do things a lot differently these days if I were to do so, but I no longer have the time to do so.

So, do you home brew or use a pre written / designed campaign world, and if you use a pre written / designed campaign world, which do you use and why?


  1. Everything about campaign worlds is great - except for their use in actual play.

    The notion of the campaign world is a DM centric view, I'd rather have a rough idea of what I'd like to see but let it develop in play over time. This allows the players to take ownership of the game. Just my 2cp worth.

  2. I do both!
    Sylvaeon is my own wilderness hex crawl. But if you don't have time to make something from the ground up yet, just use what is out there that suits your tastes and slowly introduce your own elements. After awhile you will have your own thing going and can take that stuff later to world build with (and it will be almost done from the start!).

    Alter names, turn maps upside down or do whatever you want with the pre-gen... it's yours :)

  3. I've always done homebrew worlds. As much work as they can be, I then know what is in them. I'm a crap scholar when it comes to remembering stuff (understanding, I'm good, but remembering is a lot of work -- it's why I took chemistry and physics rather than biology).

    I think published settings either have enough material that it's a lot of work to Get It Right, or so little material you're doing much the same work as a homebrew world but having to fit it to someone else's framework.

    In the end, homebrew is less work for me.

  4. I've done both; I enjoy creating my own settings but, like you, time constraints have forced me to adopt the published variety, for those rare occasions when I actually get to play... I feel your pain, brother.

  5. I make my own campaign worlds. Usually these consist of a map, my brain, a page of notes, and some random tables.

    All in all, I find it takes my about a month of brainstorm on the buss and in the shower plus 3 hours of drawing and writing to get campaign setting together.

  6. It depends, for D&D/Pathfinder, it is homebrew all the way. In fact, Planescape is the only official setting I have ever used for D&D, everything else has been homebrew.

    But I am entirely happy using a variant of the default setting for Legend of the Five Rings (a system deeply embedded in its setting).

    For M&M, homebrew but drawing off of the classic comics.

  7. Homebrew, baby! To quote Gary Gygax, "Why would I want to run someone else's world?"

    I find it is actually less work to create your own world than to use a published one. Because, as Kiltedyaksman pointed out, if you start small, with an embryonic idea and let it develop gradually during play you can build it bit by bit and let your players help with the heavy lifting.

    I also agree with Keith, that it requires too much work to study a published campaign world well enough to be able to run it.

  8. Like you, family and work take up a lot of time, so I need to use a published world for a framework. But I tell my players to never assume that I follow the "canonical" version of the setting. Right now, I'm using Forgotten Realms.

  9. I have two. My homebrew and World of Greyhawk.I loved published material though. Anything I can grab that inspires I will, especially artwork since I can't draw worth a damn.

  10. I blog about building my campaign, so....you know, i'm kinda biased.


  11. I have always created my own worlds, I have used small pieces and ideas from published worlds, but primarily I have used my own worlds.

  12. I've generally created my own world, but frankly they're not that good. Next time I think I'll use a published setting. Maybe Greyhawk. Maybe Forgotten Realms.

    I don't know which method is more time-intensive, but I'm busy enough that my brain could use a break from creating a world. I'd welcome a published setting.

  13. I tried using Greyhawk as my campaign world but I felt like I was locked into the whole canon. So I found a another campaign that had very little background except for some few overarching details, a couple of towns and other points of interest. Now I've made the world my own and as my characters play in it, they are leaving their stamp on it, making it even more enjoyable. I have found that Obsidian Portal has really helped make creating and updating my world easier.

  14. I use the most extensively supported roleplaying game-world ever published - our own.

    That said, research can only get me so far - I still create a lot of my own material for my Flashing Blades campaign. I can't think of any published setting I've used where this isn't true, actually.

  15. Let the players do the work.

    I use Microscope and Dawn of worlds and let the players set the macro for the setting. After that it gets easy to add the fluff micro for the individual adventures. Player buy in is extremely high that way and they care about the setting and stuff they face within it.

    If you want more info on either I'd be happy to elaborate.

  16. @alex guzman - i've heard a little about Microscope, but this is the first I've heard about Dawn of Worlds. Show me as very curious ;)

  17. I prefer my homebrew campaign settings, which I've been working on for close to three decades. Sure, many of the names, maps, and Non-Player Characters are a bit cheesy or obvious in their derivation (including from published worlds and modules). However, they're also part of shared history among many groups of gamers.

    I'd love to have the time to go back and overhaul parts of my worlds or to give them a professional gloss, but from BECMI/oD&D through AD&D2, GURPS, D&D3.x/D20 and now Pathfinder and FATE 3e Legends of Anglerre, it's more important to me that our adventures continue!


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