New Game, New Campaign Setting (Some Early Thoughts)

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February 6, 2013 by deadorcs

deadorcs society mapreadersHey All!

As DnDNext continues to develop, I continue to like what I’m seeing from the playtest. I’m almost certain I’ll be starting a campaign once the rules are finalized. The release date is likely a year (probably more) away, but it’s not too soon to start thinking of a home-brew campaign setting I’d like to use.

This is my normal process when running DnD games. I’ll often create my own elaborate world, and then drop pre-written adventures into it. I give myself plenty of lead time for the campaign setting that way, and I don’t have to spend a lot of time writing adventures.

One of the big changes I’ll be making this time around, is to get a lot more player input into how the campaign setting takes shape. I’ll come up with some fundamentals, and then I’ll either narrow the choices down, or just flat-out ask the players what kind of world they would like to adventure in.  In the past, I’ve had trouble with getting my players really interested in the world they are adventuring in. I’m hoping that by including them in the process, it will increase their immersion.

One of the first things I want to consider is pretty fundamental – what does the land look like? This seems like an odd question, but a unique land surface can really shape how a campaign feels. Think Skyrim. While part of a huge world (Tamriel), the whole game takes place in a cold mountainous region. Many of the events that occur in the game involve mountains, winter environments, and cold. Always the cold.

Anyway, I want my own campaign setting to have a similar feel. Not Skyrim, necessarily, but unique and identifying. I want the landscape interesting, varied, and without strange physics to govern its existence (like floating continents, for example). In addition, I want the landscape to include a form of transportation that’s reasonably quick (for a fantasy setting) but without resorting to ubiquitous teleporters (which stretches credulity for me). I asked my Twitter following about this very topic yesterday, and there were several great ideas. At this point, I think I’ve narrowed it down to a few:

ISLANDS IN THE STREAM – This campaign setting would feature an entire continent’s worth of space, but broken up into islands no larger than real world Ireland. Shipping would be a common form of travel for just about everyone, and perhaps even underwater travel (submarines) would be entertained.

TAKING FLIGHT – This campaign would use a typical varied fantasy landscape, but the way to travel long distances is by flying mounts. Their operation would function unabashedly like the mounts used to travel in World of Warcraft. There’s probably a whole guild that does nothing but maintain the various flight lines.

SHADOW TRAIN – I’m leaning towards this one, but again, I’m going to let my players decide what they want to do. In this campaign setting, I use a unique landscape (maybe the islands or a vast water-crossed wetlands) and combine it with an ancient rail system left behind by a mysterious culture. At the terminals of these obsidian rail lines, a mysterious cult summons a Shadow Train out of the very ether. The train solidifies, takes passengers, freight, etc. and moves under its own mysterious power. When the train gets to its destination, and everything is unloaded, the train dissolves back in to the ether.  I might use a shadow stagecoach idea with this one instead. We’ll see. I like the idea of these mysterious dark glass rails crisscrossing a difficult landscape.

That’s all I have so far. As I get my players, I’ll be asking them for input, and I think the final form of the campaign setting will have one or more of the features listed above. We’ll see what happens!

Until next time…

Game excellently with one another.

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One thought on “New Game, New Campaign Setting (Some Early Thoughts)

  1. embradm says:

    Love the ghostly train idea – very strong image to tie a campaign together and make the world feel distinctive.

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