View Full Version : Worlds from scratch or out of the box?

2012-01-10, 10:47 PM
So I was just wondering if the playground prefers to build their own game worlds or if they use pre-existing ones.

2012-01-10, 11:08 PM
I'm betting most people lean towards creating their own worlds. I certainly do, although I drew heavily on Greek mythology for the creation of my world; so much so, that my "world" is actually a subset of Earth that the Greeks thought contained lots of magical stuff.

2012-01-10, 11:10 PM
I almost exclusively play in my own worlds. I love creating settings and modyfing them as we play, having the players finding holes in the world and covering them later, see how the setting grows with the players, making it have sense, to be consistent, to create the story of it, the mythology of it, the cultures, religions, political relations between the nations I create.

As a DM, the world is my character.

2012-01-10, 11:37 PM
A bit of a mix has been my experience. Most DMs I've known personally have had a bit of a pet world.

2012-01-10, 11:52 PM
I tried using pre made settings at first, but I could never fully grasp the world and get a feel for it. Now I make my own word, detailing it as needed as the players (all two of them) explore it.

2012-01-11, 12:13 AM
I love coming up with worlds, but none have them have been in enough detail to really play in yet. The rouble is that a lot of them would require additional mechanics, something I suck at.
One thing I really want to try is Porco Rosso/Crimson Skies style air adventure with typical fantasy races, but not with fantasy style racism, but I have yet to find a good system for dogfights in d20.

2012-01-11, 12:30 AM
One thing I really want to try is Porco Rosso/Crimson Skies style air adventure with typical fantasy races, but not with fantasy style racism, but I have yet to find a good system for dogfights in d20.

It's not d20 and I wouldn't try converting it over just playing the system it was designed for, but the Sundered Skies setting for Savage Worlds is just that - a typical fantasy world that has exploded, leaving the survivors on floating chunks of land and sailing between them in magical airships. I highly recommend it, for inspiration if nothing else.

2012-01-11, 01:31 AM
It's not d20 and I wouldn't try converting it over just playing the system it was designed for, but the Sundered Skies setting for Savage Worlds is just that - a typical fantasy world that has exploded, leaving the survivors on floating chunks of land and sailing between them in magical airships. I highly recommend it, for inspiration if nothing else.
I think I've heard of it, but thanks, I'll look it up.

Kol Korran
2012-01-11, 02:36 AM
i like Eberron very much. i have little time to invest in world building, so having that taken care of is a big plus. also, though i consider myself a fair DM, i don't think i'm that original, and many of the concepts in Eberron were quite new to me, and i love the way they are set so adequately in the world.

that said, i am slowly in the process of creating my own campaign setting, with the major map and some of the history borrowed (with permission) from another talented campaign setting maker.

so mostly "out of the box", but with an attempt of "from (mostly) scratch" :smallwink:

2012-01-11, 02:46 AM
For a long time now I've been in love with the Exalted Setting. Though, I should probably indicate that I operate entirely on a "this is how I interpreted these things" basis - and freely dismiss huge swaths of the gameworld that I dislike. It doesn't hurt that I don't run my game in the Exalted ruleset - so everything has to be converted, leaving me with the option of just not converting things.

The only other game I've run was in the Dragon Age universe, since it was mostly DA adventure premade adventures.

So, for me it would be a mix of out of the box and homemade.

2012-01-11, 07:58 AM
I think worldbuilding is fun, but ultimately not worth the effort.

My problem with it is communication. The players should have an idea of where they come from before the game starts. Getting the world from my head into theirs is damn near impossible. I'd rather start with something like Forgotten Realms, not because I don't have to write it but because I don't have to teach the players the world.

That said there are exceptions where I think world building makes sense. One of my friends has a custom world that she's used in a number of campaigns. You introduce the world to the players once in their first campaign. Then you fast forward the world 50 years and turn those PCs' deeds into history. The next time the players make characters they'll be intimately familiar with recent events.

The other case where world building makes sense to me is if you're doing a new world type deal where the players aren't actually from the world they're interacting with. Let them discover it in first person. This isn't my favorite type of game, but it's a good use of a custom world that nobody but the GM is familiar with.

2012-01-11, 08:24 AM
I love world building. My main world is called Dracadia and it's basically Earth 2,500 years into the future. The staple "dungeons" are actually long forgotten bomb shelters, storage vaults, and secret science facilities belonging to a corporation called TESLA.

With world building, I can shape the world and its history to set up some really good campaign arcs. With out-of-the-box worlds, most of the history is already set and it becomes a bit more difficult to create adventures as there's a lot of canon to take into consideration.

So that's my opinion. I world build my own places. :smallsmile:

2012-01-11, 09:15 AM
Currently I'm using the Kingdoms of Kalamar out of the box. It's just about my favorite packaged campaign setting out there, vying for top spot with the 1983 Greyhawk.

However, I almost regret using it as 1) I have trouble wrapping my head around it some days and I find my inspiration scant at times and 2) I have my own world percolating in the back of my dusty brain called Thylia based on an admixture of Germanic, Norse, Hungarian (and other central/eastern European) mythology and culture, with aspects of Hittite (no, I'm not kidding) myth and culture along with a bit of manichean religion (i.e., there are only three types of clerics really, those of Light, those of Dark, and those of Nature . . . Light clerics can only use the positive "nice" version of spells while Dark clerics only the negative . . . I've toyed with adding Shamans to this as well, but I can't find an incarnation of them that I like well enough to use).

My problem is, I wasn't confident enough in my world to actually use it, and so it sits there, percolating, until such time as either Kalamar completely collapses due to TPK, or my players get fed up and want something new.

2012-01-11, 09:29 AM
I prefer worlds from scratch, but that's not always practical so I'll go with whatever world we're using and add stuff to it/alter stuff to make it suit my needs.

Smokin Red
2012-01-11, 11:05 AM
It strongly depends on the system in my case.
I started playing and DM'ing in an 'out-of-the-box'-setting which grew with me and became more and more complex (The Dark Eye; mostly german (european?))
But over time the actions of our group changed this world a lot from the 'official' version.
Same happened later with Shadowrun. We started with the published material, but the longer we played, the more we changed it to our needs.
With D&D and Vampire:tM we made our own story from the start, and I think especially D&D is great for this.

2012-01-11, 12:03 PM
I'm very much for playing in the Eberron setting, if I did homebrew a setting it would most likely end up somewhat similar in style or theme to various areas in Eberron so I may as well use those areas and save myself the hassle.

2012-01-11, 12:11 PM
When I had more time, I enjoyed both creating my own campaign worlds (GM role) as well as reading and learning about the custom campaign worlds my characters were going to reside in (player role).

These days, I don't have the same amount of time so as a GM I use out-of-the-box campaign worlds and as a player if the game is being run in an out-of-the-box campaign world there's a decent chance I already know it or have easy access to well written player information about it.

Also these days I tend to be more about the adventure the characters are having than the nitty gritty details of the campaign world - basically, the campaign world is there as a backdrop upon which the adventure take place. It's important, but not as important to me as it used to be.

2012-01-11, 12:21 PM
I prefer my own setting, for the simple reason that nobody knows it better than me. As a Game Master, it's limiting to have players try to quote chapter and verse of some world book you don't own when you violate some facet of the genre. (I'm looking at you, World of Darkness!) Skip the whole thing, make your own setting. :smallcool:

2012-01-11, 12:26 PM
I almost always make my own worlds. That said, I do occasionally GM games that are either historical or set in legendary versions of real places (e.g. mythological Greece, or China as seen in wuxia). Even then, I usually deviate fairly highly on details, and will happily create fictional cities, conflicts, etc.

2012-01-11, 01:30 PM
I tend to use published worlds and tweak them to my preferences.

Eberron, for example, sits just fine with me, although for a given campaign I might ignore, alter or focus on specific elements of the setting. Courtly intrigue is less relevant when the forces of Xoriat are laying waste to entire nations, after all :smalltongue:

Shadowrun, Dresden Files and Vampire are all games where I find the setting (in all cases, our own world with tweaks) to be easy enough to approach that I don't bother with the details and go for the feel, regardless of what published material might say about the subject (though I'll mine said books for ideas, as always).
Now, a setting like Exalted is simply too huge for me to even consider learning all of that canon, so I'm fast and loose about those details.

... Actually, now that I think about it, I'm lazy enough to use published settings and lazy enough to not use it as written anyway. :smallbiggrin:

2012-01-11, 02:27 PM
My preference is to take an out of the box campaign world and change it to my liking. I replace a lot of the NPC characters with those of my own making, ignore organizations that I don't care for, and tend to avoid major iconic characters from the setting (such as Drizzt or Elminster from Forgotten Realms, for example).

I have a hard enough time coming up with names for characters sometimes, so I don't want to add place names to my troubles. Also, creating a world from scratch seems like it would take a lot more time than I really have to reach a level of detail that I would be happy with.

2012-01-11, 02:35 PM
My DM uses premade since we are just starting out. I like it that way, since I am already familiar with the Forgotten Realms.

2012-01-11, 02:53 PM
I've done both as a player and DM. When/if I get a group together again, it will be in a world I'm designing now.

Premade worlds are easier, but homebrew worlds are a lot more fun, both in the building and the playing. :smallbiggrin:

2012-01-11, 03:02 PM
My problem with pre-made worlds is that I can never seem to find one that makes me go "I have to run a campaign there!". Of all the ones I've looked at, I've only had that reaction with a homebrew world on here (which I don't believe was ever finished) and somewhat with Eberron. So, by default, I end up making my own worlds.

2012-01-11, 04:18 PM
My own. If I see something neat in Forgotten Realms, Eberron, Dark Sun, or the like (or heck, in posts on this board or in other media I consume), I reserve the right to plagiarize adapt it for my own use.

2012-01-12, 11:46 AM

I do both, but I happily fold elements from existing settings into my worlds, and feel no qualms about adding detail to existing settings. Each one has a distinct feel to it, but any amount of blatant theft and adaption is a-ok for making a diverse, inclusive world.

2012-01-13, 11:56 PM
I prefer to make my own for a few reasons:

1) I'm a canon fiend (and mildly OCD), so I get twitchy about doing anything that might violate setting canon...which is much worse in a setting with any sort of metaplot. When I make my own, I can decide what's canon as I go. Better yet, my players can make their mark on the world without invalidating big chunks of the books.

2) I haven't found a published setting I like yet. Forgotten Realms has loads of high-level NPCs, Eberron has psionics (which I hate for flavor reasons, although the mechanics are great in 3.5), and Dark Sun is too...dark. I looked at Iron Kingdoms, but the escalation of the global war in Caen isn't what I'm looking for either. (I prefer settings where every single faction isn't trying to kill every other faction.)

3) I especially don't like Wizards' tendency to make their settings all-inclusive. Because they want their settings to be compatible with every single other product, they have to cram every race, class, and magic item into each setting. In the case of Eberron, it just feels too crowded. In the case of Dark Sun, it contradicts established canon.

4) When I make a setting, I get to tailor it to my tastes. I can add something because I think it's cool or a player asks for it, and I can ban things that don't fit or I just don't like.