|Rob Kuntz Contributor|
|Sebastian Bella Sara Charter Superscriber|
There are so many campaign worlds out there, so i would like to know which you prefer and why. It is very important that you give reasons why you love, or hate, or somewhere in between, your feelings concerning the different campaign worlds. I, myself, have only played Greyhawk, Forgotten Realms and homebrew worlds. The reason for this thread is to give me some idea of the other worlds out there so that i may make a better choice when trying out the other worlds. Thanks to all of you for sharing your opinions and experiences.
One of my faves was Darksun. It's like...the flavor of Conan. Everything can feel so intense because the characters are so limited in what equipment is available due to the extreme lack of mineral and natural resources. Where else can you fight a crew of elves over the right to drink water at an oasis? Water's usually such a given.
Where else can you fight a crew of elves over the right to drink water at an oasis? Water's usually such a given.
I never played Dark Sun - your description sounds cool though.
However, I have to say I live in the UAE and work in Saudi Arabia - I don't consider water a given. I mean I am talking the real world touring in Jeeps and such and even in Tibet, ?Nepal and the Amazon jungle DRINKABLE water was always an issue even as a modern tourist.
As were first aid, palatable food, safe places to eat, the threat of disease, handled on some trips with Larium (which adds a nightmare element to adventure travel - to those who have not had the experience - Larium blocks malaria from your system while you take it, it is very effective, however it has the side effect of producing very disturbig dreams).
I try to make those kinds of things part of my campaigns - don't gt me wrong I don't dwell on them. But disease, dehydration, infection, from minor wounds, malnutrition. These are real monsters and I think you add a lot any campaign by making them part of the PCs challenges - if nothing else they make for good roleplay - do good characters share water, food, with the less fortunate, with evil creature that have done no wrong to thhem, will they resort to stealing if they are out of money, what is money worth if you are dying of thirst? All great campaign elements.
Which is also my gripe against certain exotic mounts - the maintenance on a horse is tough enough, a lion, a griffon, or any other flying meat eater - yeah good luck keeping that in food and water on the road - unless you are big on cattle theft you're gonna have major issues.
I love Darksun. Gritty as all hell. 1 thing I didn't love was the psionics, not a big fan.Of course GREYHAWK!!!! Not Living Greyhawk either, they make the timeline too rigid and inflexible for casual gamers. I liked Greyhawk more before the living Greyhawkers had to explore and document every square inch of it. A campaign world shouold have areas of mystery that are left that way for individual DMs to customize.
My 2 favorites.
Darksun (bring back Boris for the artwork too!)
I tend to steal hunks of geography, history, culture, storylines, and rules systems from a number of different sources (both role-playing related and from any field I may have studied that seems relevent) and then mesh them all together in my own world or story and so in fact it could be said I have played in all the worlds mentioned above and more, and then again in none of them as I am almost never intrested enough to follow the canon. I also tend to let history develop around the characters as best fits the game and their actions.
As for how you might make a better choice as to where to play in the future, I suggest broadening your personal role-playing repitroir. Its a lot like those one-trick players that occasionally sit at the table with us during a game. We all know the folks who only ever play gruff dwarf fighters or loner wizards, or pragmatic rangers or what have you. It just gets boring after a while. So I often suggest that these folks swap it up a bit and play something against-type for a while. If you always play pragmatic rangers how much fun could it be to play a frivolous one? Instead of that sturdy dwarf in platemail play one who is an acrobat or an aristocrat or even a gnome. Or how about a outgoing, friendly, and chivalrous wizard for once, or one without much spellcraft because she's self-taught? Most great character actors don't expand their range by only doing one thing, but doing a lot of different things. In the same way that great anthropologists and explorers really don't learn too much by reading books or posts about far away lands. It is much better to experience them first hand by playing in them and then stressing the parts of the setting that fit your needs. Kyr makes some good points too on bringing in things you know from outside the game. I've in the past used: comic books, physics, news events, Shakespeare, Marlowe, Milton, Tolkien, Howard, Clark, Lovecraft, Asimov, Douglas Adams, mythology/religion (Greek, Indian, Celtic, Norse, Buddhism, Native American, Shintoism, Judeo-Christian), folklore, TV, other games, artwork, logic puzzles, anthopology, animal husbandry, my personal travel experiences, interpersonal relationship experiences, work experience, etc.... Every DM does this at least on the unconcious level, but when you start conciously applying real-life experiences and knowledge in appropriate doses to your game you really do elevate it, suspend disbelief, rise above above the rules and mechanics and into the realm of make-believe, which is my most favorite setting of all.
Long-winded as ever,
Here is another vote for Dark Sun. I think it is second only to pre-wars Greyhawk.
It is a greater deviation from the norm than any other setting. It has the best take on elves. It integrates psionics better than other settings. (At least the 3e verision). It forces the PCs to operate outside the familiar. Magic-users (anyone else still use that term?) have to hide their craft or disguise it as something else. A fighter might lose his favorite weapon to breakage at any given time. And barbarians won't be the ony illiterates.
I think the designers made a huge mistake in following the events of the novels in the setting. The changes were too radical and too soon after it was released as a new campaign world.
Mystara and Lankhmar follw closely for third and forth places.
Gord the What?!? GORD THE WHAT?!?!@#And I thought your mental conditioning was complete. Now where did I put that Gel-cube?.....hmmmm.
FH (the red)
I'm an old-school Greyhawker, but I suspect it is mostly out of nostalgia. When I was a kid, we went through the Temple of Elemental Evil, the Giants series, descended into the depths of the earth and then went against the spider queen (and won! Hooray!). Good times! Also, I agree that the pre-war GH was the best, as it had room to plug in almost anything, whereas it is now a bit too tightly mapped for that. Of course, that's when the DM chooses to ignore certain events...
I've written about my complaints against Eberron and GH in the rant thread, but I really liked GH for a long time. The box-set GH probably gets my second-favourite vote, mainly on the strength of our long-running Damaran campaign. With the disappearance of the excellent arch-villain Zenghyi and the coming of all kinds of silly stuff (the Horde, the Time of Troubles etc.) we all lost interest and started building homebrews. Tellingly, none of us heve ever been able to sustain a campaign world since...
Dark Sun was cool, but we died too often to sustain interest, and we never played Spelljammer. I liked Planescape, but my Blood War merecenary and espionage campaign became little more than an episodical oddity - fun, but we never loved it like Greyhawk. Thus, Greyhawk remains the gold standard for me - it was the first, and none of the later settings have been any better or offered anything that GH cannot do equally well.
Fake Healer wrote:
I agree totally. It not only allows customization but allows creativity to flow and for mystery to take root in the minds of the players. And that is a major compelling point in FRPG, mystery, the unknown, eh?
I liked the concept and flavour of Athas (Darksun), but didn't like the overpowered nature of the setting and many of the game mechanics that it used.
If we are not talking about FR, GH, or Eberron (I think you should be able to abbreviate all the core settings, which is why I have reservations about Eberron :) then I have a few other suggestions.
I like the Birthright setting because it allows you to play a lord, noble or prince in the game, and the game mechanics support it. It has to be DMed well, though.
I also like Mystara, though it has never be properly represented by the D&D system.
My game is run using the Judges Guild maps, they are very detailed, have space for you to add your stuff; come with player; ie mostly blank, maps and gm; all filled in, maps; this includes many city maps; and all kinds of stuff; fell in love with it during the mid 80's and got all the stuff; island and everything. I use many of the personalities they suggest be have adapted everything, meaning all personalities and npc for d&d; it is by far the best I have seen to date. Well done, inexpensive and not full of junk your just going to ignore anyway. The wildnerness maps, and there are a bunch; have little wierd stuff on various hexes like arms of giant statues sticking up and other stuff that can spawn little side adventures and act as points of meeting and interest.
I prefer the Forgotten Realm setting because there is such a wealth of fictional work to draw on. I mean if you read about, oh say, the Time of Troubles or Menzoberranzan in a sourcebook, it's like you are readin a high school textbook sometimes. On the other hand, if you grab a book by R. A. Salvatore or Ed Greenwood, you can read what it was like for someone who lived through that event or was raised in that area. This not only helps the players bulid a more realistic background and personality for their PCs, it also helps the DM create NPCs with more individuality than "generic dirt farmer #783". Also, some players get a kick when thier favorite fictional characters get a cameo in the campaign. Little thing like a passing reference to a moon elf crime lord known as "the Serpent" or a brief glimpse of a dwarf with green hair and beard armed with a club. Hee hee hee.
I think that cat Boris did a lot of the art work, he difined the art style for Dark Sun. The art work, the survival game play, defiler magic, psionics and canibalistic halflings, Dark Sun is Badd A$$.
I played al-qadim. It was lots of fun. There were no race restriction to class level advancement.
Fake Healer wrote:
See, I knew you were talking about Brom and not Boris Vallejo.I just don't feel the urge to correct everybody all the time.
Being right all the time doesn't give me comfort; I don't have to be the universe's spell checker or trivia checker.
For me, it's just all about having fun.
Heathensson the (smug and selfrighteously) serene
Meh, it's just I've got a lot of artist's styles burned into me noggin. Boris doing Dark Sun wouldn't have done it for me and wouldn't have defined the style that was needed for Dark Sun. However, Brom did it well and really helped define that setting for me visually. Easley's stuff for the Dark Sun Monstrous Compendium was good too. Twasn't about being right all the time - just about giving credit where credit was due. :D
Thoth-Amon the Mindflayerian wrote:
There are so many campaign worlds out there, so i would like to know which you prefer and why.
I liked Dragonlance because, in hindsight, I didn't know any better. It's not a bad setting, but I have no positive feelings towards it anymore. I've just moved on.
I like Planescape because I was fascinated by the idea of a setting which wasn't as straightforward as a world with a few continents and several kingdoms and a handful of races and blah. The planes were a place where you could see something different every time you stepped foot outside your home, filled with weird and wonderful things both drawn from mythology (an early love of mine) and created for the setting. Traversing Heaven and Hell and even stranger places seemed like a Hell of a lot of fun!
I like Eberron because it takes a contemporary approach and attitude to the traditional D&D setting. It's designed from the ground up to incorporate all of the assumptions of D&D without slavishly replicating the surface details from the core rules; it's a bold step away from the Tolkienesque traditional standard of the Forgotten Realms or Greyhawk and more towards the pulp, sword-and-sorcery, weird tales kind of fantasy I prefer without abandoning the "D&D genre" entirely. It reinvents that genre and makes it interesting to me, elves and halflings and all, which I would have said was all but impossible if you'd asked me.
Plus, a massive benefit from my point of view due to my university studies, it has a wonderfully vibrant and plausible array of religions and belief systems to play with.
My favorite settings? hmmm....
Spelljammer - mostly because we had a really kick-ass game going on in that world one summer. Plus, I love the Neogi. Not to mention that it was new and bold long before Eberon came along
Ravenloft - Once again, we had a really kick ass game going on for awhile, and I loved the gothic horror and the whole "evil is dominant" feel.
Forgotten Realms/Greyhawk - I love both of these settings with equal measure. FR has a very detailed world with some really cool elements. Greyhawk is the original setting, with the kind of greatness that the new worlds will never equal. I like that both of these worlds take elements of different fantasy settings and incorporate them into a single world (FR is the better of the two at this).
Darksun/Planscape - both of these were radically different concepts (much like Spelljammer), but we never really had a chance to play them out well. We only did short games in each.
Lastly, I love Dragonlance, but mostly because I was a huge fan of the novels. I think it would be cool to campaign in again someday.
Homebrew worlds are OK.
These are my opinions.
I guess I'll be the lone prophet for Scarred Lands then. Right from the start the setting grabbed me - I loved the imagrey of massive titans of destruction rampaging throughout the world only to be brought down by their own offspring. And its not like the Titans even cared about or noticed the destruction and ruin they'd bring their creations (the Titans created almost all of the races populating the world) for them it was a diversion of amusement.
Some of the later books tried to reverse some of the really cool things (Faithful & Forsaken should be ignored imo) but their Player's Guides series was excellent reading. The setting really lacked a deluxe Campaign Setting book however (like the Forgotten Realms one) and that, I feel, is what doomed the line.
Please don't take anything I said as for real; I was just joking with The Fakemeister wrt the rouge/rogue/rougue thing. Nothing I said had any actual bearing on reality.Heathensson the Sarcastic (to a fault).
It's all good - internet forums are not the best venue to pick up on those little nuances of language. :P We both agreed that Brom is the man for Dark Sun artwork. Everybody's happy - well, except for the guy who's artwork didn't get used. :O
Does WotC even use Brom anymore? Artwork is one thing that I think they've been hit or miss on over the last few years. Some of it is great, while a good bit of it just sucks ass. My opinion.
Ghostwalk! It's my fave. because it's so weird and different. And death actually means something/important part of the game. It's not cheapened like it can be (with Clerics and what not) and remains a constant threat.
I'm also partial to Planescape and Spelljammer. Again it's the weirdness, but also lots of travelling around and plenty of room for your own/players own fantasical locations and creations.
So yeah, big and weird is good.
Another vote for Dark*Sun as my favorite campaign setting (once you got rid of silly things Sorcerer Kings dying in the first adventure).
After that I like Greyhawk the best (currently running SCAP and plan on running AoW after as everyone seems to be having fun).
I have a feeling I'd like Planescape run by a good DM but I haven't had a chance to play in the setting.
Coolness.WRT Brom, I haven't seen him do anything D&D of late.
I hear Brom is going to do the world design on the Greyhawk hardbound book that Uncle Rob is gonna write next month.
Chyoh, I wish.
I've DMed Dragonlance, Ravenloft, and Forgotten Realms settings. I'd include Planescape in there, but I don't see Planescape as a campaign by itself. You whip that out only while plane-hopping. ;-)
I started with DL because my friends had read the books, then I read the books, and I was instantly hooked. I started my gaming experience with DL. The idea of gaming within a world that exists in novels was just amazing to me. I loved it. When I caught wind of the Classics modules, I flipped my lid. I had always wanted to run that campaign arc. To this day my Classics campaign is one of my favorite D&D experiences.
I got into Ravenloft after I bought the Domains of Dread box. After the group finished Lord Soth's Dargaard Keep module (World of Krynn - you can download it in the shop), I sent the entire castle to Ravenloft (the birth of Sithicus, essentially). We played there through the summer of '97. The PCs were vampire hunters. It ended with House of Strahd. They escaped Ravenloft after besting Strahd.
I had attempted to read Crystal Shard in high school (grad. '95), but it didn't take. I was knee deep in Dragonlance at the time. Then a friend of mine (who played Raistlin in my beloved Classics campaign) had all the FR novels. He turned me onto Drizzt. I started reading the books, and I was hooked. Spellfire made it official. I read 20 FR novels before I felt prepared to run the world, and in the fall of 1998, I found a new group on campus and started DMing FR. We've been playing there ever since (in FR, not in college). The connection to the novels is the thing. It's really a living, breathing world.
Dark Sun always intrigued me, but the imagery just didn't do it for me. I steered away from DS.
I'm intrigued by Eberron. It might be a few years before I decide to switch campaigns. My players know FR. They know the nuances. Some of them even read the novels, which is great. We've all played Baldur's Gate and NWN. We're used to FR. We like it. I suspect there will be change eventually, but not anytime soon.
I dont use alot of campain settings. I mostly patch together campain add-ons such as Ghost Walk, Shackled City, etc.
I just can't get into most campaign settings. The suspention of disbelief(sp) is too hard.
Phil. L wrote:
That's a perfect and concise statement of my Darksun feelings as well. Especially in 2e when stats were more on a bell curve in terms of power. The difference between an 18 strength and a 22 strength was huge (along the magnitude of a +2 to hit and damage as compared with a +6 or +7.) On top of that, the Darksun specific classes outshone the core classes (the gladiator did everything the fighter did, but better).
I've always had a soft spot for Spelljammer, but I tend to toss out the overly silly stuff (gnomes, hamsters, etc...). The great thing about Spelljammer was that it wasn't so much a campaign setting as a tool set. Later supplements tried adding in organizations and space specific campaign locations, but for the most part it was a blank canvas for the DM to fill in. The details that were given (such as the Unhuman War) served to inspire rather than shackle you down to the dreaded canon.
My initial reaction to PS was pure hatred. The setting seemed pitched to be like Whitewolf (particularly with the factions). I eventually grew to love it, mostly because of the style of the books. However, I think PS was better reading than playing.
I can't stand Ravenloft. I don't think the D&D mechanics are a good fit for the horror genre. The abilities of your character and those of the monster are too easy to discern. Without a greater element of mystery, it's hard to be afraid. Sure, you can modify the rules to make the setting work, but that just supports the argument that the core mechanics aren't well suited for the task.
I hate dragonlance. I hate the comic relief races (gully dwarves, kender), I hate the color-coded mages, and I particularly hate the books.
FR and GH are largely interchangable to me. They are both relatively generic fantasy settings. GH probably fits my play style more, but FR has a lot of shiny bits that just beg to be stolen.
I like pieces of Eberron, as I've discussed in other threads, but probably couldn't run it without significant flavor changes (in particular, removing the non-warforged races and renaming half the items in the setting).
I vote Ravenloft. I liked the darker setting with the constant struggle to survive. I also like that the Dark Lords had almost absoulte power over their lands instead of just some stupid bad guy that had very little control over his environment. It had a lot of very memorable villians including Strahd, Lord Soth and Azilin. I have some of the new books but sadly haven't really picked the setting back up since v3.0 of D&D.
Ragnarock Raider wrote:
I playes a Rogukan game. We fought in a noodle shop where the shop keeper was "Gonna give them a good Wok attack!" This EVIL shaman monkey dude droped my samurai with a flying kick. We fought undead pirates scythes.Wow that was fun.
Ha ha, you gooottt bussstttteeedd! Youuurrr innnnn troooouuuubbbblllee!
FH (the innocent)
As I cogitate and think about the past campaign settings that I've loved, I realize that many of my favorites all had a clear, strong visual style to their settings. (I'm not going to choose one favorite over another, as they all have something I love in them. So my vote is "abstaining." Nyah. :P ) Dark Sun/Brom, Planescape/di Tierlezzi, Dragonlance/Elmore & Parkinson. Ravenloft/*that guy who did the black & white interior drawings whose name I can't remember*. Those settings stand out in my mind because of those artists.
For 3E, Wayne Reynolds and Todd Lockwood really stand out in my mind as breathing a breath of fresh air to the look and feel of D&D and specifically 3E. Reynolds' artworks is just intense and you can feel the energy sitting just below the surface of his characters, while Lockwood is just...cool. Really really cool. (Sorry, I'm gushing. I do that sometimes. :D ) I've sat and stared at the Worldwide D&D Game Day banner from 2004 that's hanging in my bedroom to just soak in all the little details that he puts in his paintings.
My vote goes to Plane scape.
Fake Healer wrote:
Brah, you 'bout innocent as a black dog covered in white chicken feathers that aint got the common sense to not be standing in the otherwise vacant chicken coop on the one morning when the rooster didn't crow.Heathensson the ROUGUE
Greyhawk is my group's setting of choice, with the Forgotten Realms a close second. We've tried Eberron (got characters from 1st to 10th level) but it just didn't take.
Our reasons for enjoying Greyhawk the most are partly nostalgic and partly atmosphere. The nostalgia part is obvious; Greyhawk is the original published campaign setting and the classic adventures just seem to get better with age like fine wines. You know the material is good when you can take the same group of players on the same adventure (ToEE) every five years or so and they enjoy it just as much as the first time.
The atmosphere of Greyhawk is just as big a draw for us as the nostalgia. Greyhawk is a setting that has domains that are currently at war or on the verge of war. It makes a difference when the players feel like their actions really could start, stop or prevent a war from breaking out. It's different in the Forgotten Realms where you don't ever really believe that Cormyr might go to war with the Dalelands.
Also, Greyhawk has a sense of dread lurking just below the surface. Now, it's not as prevalent as Ravenloft and it's not as hopeless a feeling as Dark Sun, it's more of a sense that the bad guys are getting ahead of the good guys. Whether it's because of the forces of Iuz, the armies of Lolth, the Scarlet Brotherhood or any of dozens of other villains, Greyhawk feels like a world that needs heroes.
I will say this for the Forgotten Realms, however. The deities are top notch. Eric Boyd set the bar for deific sourcebooks with Faiths and Pantheons. I'd love to see an equivalent book on the Greyhawk deities, updating the Living Greyhawk Gazeteer.
We have used Planescape, Ravenloft and several other campaign settings (Dark Sun and al-Qadim come to mind) but these were mostly for shorter mini-campaigns so that we could recharge and head back to Greyhawk.
Dr. Johnny Fever wrote:
In the above the good Dr. Fever wonderfully sums up many of my reasons for choosing Greyhawk. It has a gritty, low-magic, bad-guys-are-getting-ahead feel that I prefer, coupled with great locales, history, and possibilities.
I'd place Forgotten Realms second. I like the evil organizations, the Dales, and Waterdeep, to mention a few, and the PCs always seem like tiny cogs in a huge machine, which I like ... but that is also part of the problem. FR strikes me as high-magic (not to be confused with high level) and the PCs always seemed to be dwarfed by Elminster and company. The "Halls of the High King" adventure (penned by Greenwood) is a perfect example: the adventure begins with the lairly low level PCs being approached with the mission by a 10th-level fighter and 21st(!)-level arch-mage! (Since the mission is basically delivering weapons to an island, one wonders why a mage of such might couldn't simply teleport the lot to the king's doorstep...)
As for Eberron, Dark Sun, and many others, I find them very creative but they don't fit into the mold of what I consider a standard D&D fantasy world (which is not the oxymoron it sounds). Even in a "fantasy" setting there are certain conventions I require, and a vaguely Midddle Ages feel and lack of higher technology are two. I don't mind breaking the rules for the rare one-shot adventure, but if I want robots and such I'll pull out an old copy of Traveller. Don't get me wrong however, if you like that sort of thing, more power to you.
That's cold. True, but cold!;)
FH (nope wasn't me!)