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Opinions on Premade Settings

Discuss any non D&D roleplaying topics here.

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Crimson-Kobold
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Opinions on Premade Settings

Post#1 » Tue Jun 16, 2020 2:32 am

Boring around here, time for discussions.

Premade settings! You use them? How true to them do you try to be? (ie how much effort you put into being consistent with the setting?)

I'm running three games right now. Two Pathfinder 2nd Ed games set in Eberron, and a Starfinder game.

For the Eberron games, I put a lot of effort into maintaining the feel of Eberron. An effort that I'm starting to realize is a bit of a waste, as I should just use the setting as a springboard, and not feel the need to try to maintain consistency with the written material. The main reason for that is...I'm the sole window into the world. No one has done any reading up on the setting period, so I could jump into a Spelljammer bit and no one would thing it was out of place if I do it right.

A little disappointing, but I suppose it comes down to knowing your group. If your players aren't invested enough to learn about the world their characters exist in, putting in extra work to be fully consistent with it isn't worth your while.

However, if all you need to say is "a man in fine clothing enters the grand hall. It takes you a moment, but you realize this man is Baron Merrix d'Cannith, head of the southern branch of the Dragonmarked House Cannith.", and your players go "oh damn, this guy is a major player, watch what you say and do guys!", then that effort would be worthwhile.

But that's just been my recent experience. I am certainly starting to appreciate the phrase "less is more", ha.
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New Hegdeh
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Re: Opinions on Premade Settings

Post#2 » Tue Jun 16, 2020 9:06 am

I like taking from them as if they were a buffet
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garhkal
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Re: Opinions on Premade Settings

Post#3 » Tue Jun 16, 2020 1:01 pm

They're ok for a dm who doesn't WANT TO, or have the time to, make his OWN setting up.. BUT i'd much prefer to play in a home made setting, than established ones.

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Re: Opinions on Premade Settings

Post#4 » Tue Jun 16, 2020 2:28 pm

garhkal wrote:They're ok for a dm who doesn't WANT TO, or have the time to, make his OWN setting up.. BUT i'd much prefer to play in a home made setting, than established ones.
Back when I did play... All we played was forgotten realms... I dared buying a module that was from Al Qadim and the illithiad module (Darkness gathering, dawn of the overmind and masters of eternal night) and one from ravenloft (Vecna reborn I think), we never got around to play them... I think beginner DMs may need modules and premade settings, but if they want to go serious they need to build their own adventures.
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JadedDM
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Re: Opinions on Premade Settings

Post#5 » Tue Jun 16, 2020 2:57 pm

The only setting I've run actual campaigns in that wasn't homebrewed is Dragonlance. I've run modules that take place in Greyhawk or Forgotten Realms, but that's it. And I do put a lot of effort into making sure my Dragonlance games are true to the lore. I'll spend hours on the wiki, making sure I get as many details right as I can.

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Lyrwik
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Re: Opinions on Premade Settings

Post#6 » Tue Jun 16, 2020 9:34 pm

I draw on existing settings for the pantheon, but other than that I've always created my own worlds. This hasn't been out of any objection of the published settings, just that I don't really know enough about them to be able to run them accurately.
garhkal wrote:They're ok for a dm who doesn't WANT TO, or have the time to, make his OWN setting up.. BUT i'd much prefer to play in a home made setting, than established ones.

I see it more the other way, in regards to the 'have time to' part. To me, creating my own world seems less time-consuming than the research involved in learning about an existing setting, because when creating my own, I only need to create what's necessary for the game, while to research an existing setting would be much broader.

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Stik
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Re: Opinions on Premade Settings

Post#7 » Wed Jun 17, 2020 12:51 pm

I am going to be honest - I am too lazy to learn all the history and lore of any given setting. I cherry pick the stuff I like, keep the maps and nations, and a little bit of the lore, and just run with it.
"No matter where you go, there you are."

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garhkal
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Re: Opinions on Premade Settings

Post#8 » Thu Jun 18, 2020 12:43 am

For a while, i was thinking of doing just that, with the whole of Harn.. But realized after a while, it would have been easier to just create my own realm..

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Crimson-Kobold
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Re: Opinions on Premade Settings

Post#9 » Thu Jun 18, 2020 2:23 am

Stik wrote:I am going to be honest - I am too lazy to learn all the history and lore of any given setting. I cherry pick the stuff I like, keep the maps and nations, and a little bit of the lore, and just run with it.


Maps are the more tricky things, so using a settings map just for the purpose for a map is a legit use for them, IMO. I'm actually looking at using this reimagined map of Khorvaire for my next campaign. It's different enough that it's fresh, and this one being unlabelled, I can name the nations as I please, place cities where I want, and so forth.

But yeah, I think this will be my take moving forward. I don't have the time or energy to world build stuff that in the end will largely not get used (plus improvising will get better if I have to do it more often and on the fly).

I'm starting to realize all I really need is the backdrop. My last two Friday sessions, I've only had the barest of prep for how the story was going to go, and it seemed to work out alright.

Garhkal wrote:They're ok for a dm who doesn't WANT TO, or have the time to, make his OWN setting up.. BUT i'd much prefer to play in a home made setting, than established ones.


Also good for trying out systems you're unfamiliar with, or if you're testing the waters with a new group.
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Stik
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Re: Opinions on Premade Settings

Post#10 » Thu Jun 18, 2020 4:54 pm

World building doesn't necessarily need to be an all or nothing thing. Your PCs are going to be adventuring in a small part of your world, at least to start. That part of the world needs to be somewhat detailed, but the rest of the campaign world can be a few broad strokes at the beginning, like building the edge of a jigsaw puzzle and filling in the interior over time.
But you can make it look to your players like your world is more detailed than it is by throwing in some small references to places they haven't been to yet. To take the real-world as an example, if your campaign is set in Boston, offer up a New York style pizza to the PCs, or a Chicago-style hot dog. Mention a performance by an Italian opera singer, or Russian ballet company. This sort of thing tells the players that there are things happening in other parts of the world.
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Re: Opinions on Premade Settings

Post#11 » Sat Jun 20, 2020 12:22 am

I grew up on the old original mods so premade was how we did it. As the 70's were ending though, lots of us were adding our own flares to those settings. Some folks I knew back then did go on to making their own entire world. Others, myself included, kept using the pre-made but with our own twists here and there.
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Re: Opinions on Premade Settings

Post#12 » Sat Jun 20, 2020 4:06 pm

For those of you who do steal from other settings, what kind of stuff to you steal?

For me, it's maps. I rip off maps constantly, from just about everywhere. Not just modules, but even videogames. I once ran an entire dungeon from Skyrim.

It's not that I can't draw maps; I mean, I can't draw them well. But I can make a crude representation of the area. But it's to time consuming, I'd rather just swipe a nice looking one from somewhere and use that instead.

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Re: Opinions on Premade Settings

Post#13 » Sat Jun 20, 2020 4:58 pm

JadedDM wrote:For those of you who do steal from other settings, what kind of stuff to you steal?

For me, it's maps. I rip off maps constantly, from just about everywhere. Not just modules, but even videogames. I once ran an entire dungeon from Skyrim.

It's not that I can't draw maps; I mean, I can't draw them well. But I can make a crude representation of the area. But it's to time consuming, I'd rather just swipe a nice looking one from somewhere and use that instead.


I take rules my unfinished campaign uses Ravenloft no longer as a demiplane but as wandering islands (each domain an island and set several years after the official setting's timeline) that haunt the deep seas of the campaign, forcing the different continents to be secluded from each other... A southern arid desert continent populated by daywalking vampires takes from Dark Sun and Al Qadim... the other continents are my whole creation but spelljamming technology or something like that has recently managed to overcome the islands of the dead and reignited trade between the continents. Another continent had dwelves, another one had half-elven metropolises, one had arctic halflings in the far north, one had anarchic humans with advanced technology and the fey races being extremely secretive and unknown of for their own sake. I am not sure if gnomes or dwarves or elves dominated another continent... And if oriental campaigns influenced any of them or if Dark Sun influenced a second continent with more jungles and more Maztica elements.

Right now I am planning of recyclying and rebuilding the "ravenloft has turned into wandering islands" idea (you don't go to ravenloft, ravenloft goes to you"), for a different strory.
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Crimson-Kobold
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Re: Opinions on Premade Settings

Post#14 » Mon Jun 22, 2020 2:19 pm

JadedDM wrote:For those of you who do steal from other settings, what kind of stuff to you steal?

For me, it's maps. I rip off maps constantly, from just about everywhere. Not just modules, but even videogames. I once ran an entire dungeon from Skyrim.

It's not that I can't draw maps; I mean, I can't draw them well. But I can make a crude representation of the area. But it's to time consuming, I'd rather just swipe a nice looking one from somewhere and use that instead.


I've been building up a collection of area maps over the last year or so, and a few city maps. So that's certainly something I've done in the past.

In a d20 modern game, I stole an entire campaign based on Parasite Eve, and one battle map was literally just a top down view of an XCom map lol.
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