Behind the D.M. Screen - Setting


With the fourth episode of Noobs and Dragons looming ever closer, I wanted to talk about how creative and original I am, and by that I mean that I have trust and control issues! Years ago, when I first began playing Dungeons & Dragons, I learned how to play from a Dungeon Master who used an already established campaign setting, known as Dragonlance. Based upon the series of novels with said name, it's a very interesting setting, but our DM stayed pretty rigid to the books, so it wasn't easy to be very original. Adventuring in the world he was controlling felt confining, like I was stuck on a railroad track that was barreling forward. When I eventually started taking over, and running my own game, I decided that I didn't want to have to rely on a world that was already created, mostly because I didn't know enough about Dragonlance, the Forgotten Realms, or Dark Sun, and I didn't want to have any of my players say “Well that's not how that's supposed to work.” I figured the best way to avoid having anyone tell me what to do, and to offer a bit more freedom, was to just make my own world, and that way, I wouldn't have to stress out about learning the ins and outs of a fantasy world that I wasn't interested in. After a few years of experimenting, (and running a few unsuccessful adventures to gain some experience,) I had finally created my own fantasy world known as Geisel. Though it's honestly a pretty standard high fantasy setting, I took inspiration from other sources of fantasy, video games, and even cartoons, crafting a cosmology that I could be proud of. The beauty of my world though, is that I didn't have to concern myself about what villains were currently posing a threat to Well Known City Number One, or what factions were vying for control in said strangely named city; I could go ahead and make everything up myself, which offered me an immense amount of control when I was getting D&D adventures ready. Is it a bad idea to run an adventure based on an already well established campaign setting? Absolutely not! In most cases, it's been well established for a very good reason, and there's a lot of benefits to not crafting your own world. Time is the major reason, as working out all the details of your home brew world is labor intensive, and it was lucky for me that most of the work I put into the game was years ago, when I didn't have a job or bills to worry about. Another big reason is that using a popular game line means that if you're playing in a more public forum, it's easy to get more people invested in the world you're playing in. Bring a group of strangers together for a home brew world and they'll surely play together, though there's a certain sense of hesitation to step into a universe you know nothing about. When it came to a campaign setting, I was afraid that someone would feel like I wasn't portraying the world accurately, so I created my own, but I think that it isn't really a big deal to make any changes you feel are necessary to an already established setting, especially since you're the one running the game, and your level of comfort is just as important as the player's. Some day I'll share some lore of the world of Geisel, though you'll all pick up on bits and pieces as the team explores the world around them in Noobs and Dragons. The most important thing about running a Dungeons & Dragons game, is that regardless of whether you're running a home brew or popular campaign setting, is that you're actually getting a chance to play one of the greatest games of all time!