Questions Regarding Homebrew Worlds

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Question I: What are everyone's thoughts regarding the usage of Homebrew Worlds as opposed to Established Ones?

Question II: What is required to make an entertaining Homebrew World?  

Question III: What are things to be avoided when creating a Homebrew World?
    
 
      

 

1) I love my homebrewed world and have run over 100 sessions in that world.

2) Depends on how you make it.  You can make a collaborative world or one all your own.  If you make it all your own there is a pretty sizeable list of things you need to do, but first you have to have a general theme or story arc to your world.

"Magic is only found here and nowhere else, other creatures battle over this area."
"The world the game takes place on has lots of races but all but 2 (including humans) are non-native."
"The world has been the victim of a great racial cleansing and now humans and undead are all that remain in large numbers.  Tiny pockets of civilization, and other races, exist above a massive ocean of the living dead."

Stuff like that.

3) Same things when making a campaign.  Don't make things have to happen in order for something to progress.  Don't write yourself into a corner where there are no good answers.  Try to not limit the source material unless you know your players don't want to play with it (ie feel free to say "no psionics" if nobody wants to play a psion)

But all that is just a start. 
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  1. Greatly prefered whether I am a DM or player.

  2. Two things really


    1. Consistancy. If you decide a clan is going to be untrustworthy, the DM needs to remember this in future sessions. Nothing makes a homebrew world fall apart like instability. The players will try to learn the world, and if the DM is constantly changing it they will give up and not care. 

    2. A hook. You need something that makes your setting interesting when compared to something premade.


  3. A few things.


    1. Historical, Realistic, Gritty. I've found that any RPG that advertises these concepts never is. In reality its usually a thinley veiled excuse to be sexist, and occasionally racist.

    2. More than 2 pages of rules changes. (You can include additional add on rules all you want because they can be ignored.) Anything more than two pages hits the "Annoying to remember" mark and most players won't bother.

    3. Restrictive. You need enough variety in the world that all the players can make a character that is interesting to them, and different than another player. An all human samurai game might be fun if you get all the players to buy into it, but more often than not someone isn't interested. Have enough options that they don't have to all by the same thing, but don't stop them if they want to.

    4. Generic Fantasy Tolkien Rip Off. FR, Greyhawk, Dragonlance all already exist. Please don't make it again, no one cares.

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1. Absolutely love it, wouldn't go back
2. A lot really but I've found rather than trying to make a whole world at once its better to make the small pocket your group starts in. Then in your free time you sit and daydream (at least thats what I do) and think of ways you'd like the world to go and how that could fit to your party. A little inconsistancy in the beginning is alright, just be honest with your players and let them know that as a homebrew world its constantly evolving due in part to their actions. Really though once you have maybe half a dozen good sessions under your belt it HAS to be consistant with itself or suspension of disbelief is lost.
3. a number of things to avoid
     
    1. Modern Knowledge: Basically if your group wants to get cute and try to make gunpowder because THEY know how to do it just say no. It can feel like a dick move but trust me youre saving yourself a huge headache. Or if you want to be mean make it woefully ineffective against fantasy monsters.
    2. "Dark and Gritty" settings: if youre group is all for it then try but generally Id say shy away from the misery a bit. A DnG world can be fun but it devolves into misery porn way too easily. Maybe counter that by making a DnG world where the players are the ray of hope and happiness.
    3. Blatant Rip-Off: By this I mean setting your campaign in "Greybird" or "Central Earth" or "Dragon Spear". Dont copy paste entire ideas. That said, don't be afraid to steal a trope or character type here and there. They say there are no new ideas just new ways to tell them, so steal to your hearts content but make sure you make them yours and use a variety of sources for inspiration.

Good luck on your homebrewing sir! I adore mine and I hope you get the same satisfaction =D 
When I was a kid, I essentially made a home-brew world roughly based on the world "Where the Evil Dwells" by Clifford Simack.  It morphed into what all worlds do:  a mish-mash of haphazard ideas.  I wasted an immense amount of time creating stuff that my players, nor anyone else, would ever read.  Looking back, I consider it to have been a terrible waste of time considerign what I'll state about pre-printed worlds below.

My friend Todd ran a game here in CO about 10 years ago, that was set in the Nehwon world (Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser), but he set on the shore and just created a couple duchies that were at war (so there were factions and intrique).  The world has a lot of potential, and having some ideas already made about the gods, magic, etc., really help players feel part of the world (same can be done for home-brew).

Now, regarding Published worlds:  



  • I've run campaigns in EVERY world that TSR or WOTC has ever put out (ever).

  • FROM experience, I can finally admit that by and large, I'd rather EXPAND existing material than have some pipe-dream that I can create it all myself.  (For example: we wrote a house rulebook for play in the CONAN d20RPG in the northern lands (Vanaheim, Asgard, Cimmeria, etc.) 

  • When you write expansions for Published worlds, OTHER PEOPLE CAN USE IT TOO.  Meaning you can be famous (ok, maybe several other people will read it..but some people will give you accolades for sharing.)

  • Published worlds have:  Novels, Comics, Forums, Reference Books, Maps, More Maps, Art, Fan Art, Scenarios, Fan Scenarios, Campaigns, integrated rules systems (into the game you're playing).  Your players have a chance to become more immersed in the hobby.

  • I used to get a bit turned off that perhaps a player may have read a bit more of the novels or whatever (FR was famous for this back in the day), but then I realized that THAT was what I wanted my players to do.  I'd rather be FLUFF-LAWYERED than rules-lawyered any day!

  • If there's something you don't want in a published world, you can always remove it or change it. Don't be absurd thinking this is why you ////cant/// use a published world.  Did a new supplement come out that put out somethign official about an area that you had already developed?  (TSR/WOTC did this with the Scarlet Brotherhood..I wasn't an Idiot Savant about it, I rolled with it..I just updated some stuff and kept what I wanted of my own).  Just note it in your house rulebook.  

  • It's much more efficient use of your limited hobby time to expand than to create everything from scratch.

  • Your players will need scenarios and a base ruleset more than a homebrew world. 


I think the only time I'd probably create a homebrew world anymore is if there was absolutely nothing about some world I needed detailed for some incredibly obscure game, or if I was working for a game company who hired me to create a world from scratch.


We're currently playing:  Indiana Jones (TSR), Pathfinder (Jade Regent), Warhammer Roleplay (3rd ed), Outbreak Undead.  There are tons of resources for those games, and for that I am thankful.


Lastly, I re-re-reference this piece of artwork and let it sink in for a minute:


What is a more efficient use of your time?  Creating art that only you appreciate, or creating something that can have a larger impact on the gaming communties worldwide?





jh



..

Gamer Chiropractor - Hafner Chiropractic 305 S. Kipling st,Suite C-2, Lakewood, Co 80226 hafnerchiropractic.com

1) My homebrew has been going since 4e started, and will probably still be going strong even when 5e is released, whether we change systems or not. That being said, It's more something for the DM with time on their hands than the guy just trying to get a game going. That guy should stick to the prefab stuff.

2)Same stuff that's required to make it entertaining in a prefab world does. What that is exactly varies from person to person, so it's best to find some common ground about the setting when presenting the idea to your players.

3)While others have given a lot of good advice, I think the biggest thing to steer clear of is the following: DO NOT TRY TO DO EVERYTHING! Seriously, you will wear yourself out trying to get all these little details fleshed out before you start. Come up with stuff mid game and then stick to it. Take notes while you're playing of things that are worth noting about something, be it a community, a monster, or any other peice of flavor that gets introduced to the world. Trying to get things hammered out about someplace you and your players are not even going to go is a bad idea.

Hope this helps. Happy Gaming

I) I love homebrew, and I also love many published settings. It's really a matter of what scratches your D&D itch best.

II) I consider these three ingredients essential to making an interesting Homebrew World:

0. Free time
1. Players who enjoy exploring and even contributing to the Homebrew World. This doesn't have to be overt. For examplgrimy players heard haunted women singing while traversing haunted fields, and one commented "why is it always women singing? why can't men singing be spooky too?" Lightbulb! Well, now she is going to get a "random encounter" with the Singing Lads of Dunwood. Hehehe.
2. A map. A really well done map would be great, but starting out just a pencil sketch of where all the nations go, with some extra details for wherever the PCs start is sufficient. I've even heard of hexcrawling groups make up the map as they go.
3.  Conservation of energy. Don't do too much work up front, let it evolve with time, player contribution, and greasy fingers staining the maps. Learn how to prioritize planning and to design to what the players are most interested in. That's said, "prepping to improv" (encounter tables, lists of names, etc) is a great time-saving trick (especially for sandbox games) which does require time upfront but saves you in spades down the road.

III) Here are the things I've learned to avoid while making/running a Homebrew World:

1. Don't do too much work. Do "enough" work and make most of it relevant to the players. Every now and then you're going to design something just because the creative bug strikes you, and it may have zero application to your current campaign. *Most* of your design/writing, however, should be relevant to the main quest, interests, classes, themes, prestige paths, and so forth of your players.

2. Don't get stuck on one vision of your world. Don't let it go static. Having a strong guiding vision and hook for a Homebrew Campaign is essential. The key is to let that organically morph and adapt to contact with the players. If you pick up the Homebrew World five years later, the players should have left a mark and things should progress (or devolve).

3. Don't be afraid to steal good ideas! Do give credit where credit is due. Do modify ideas which might feel too familiar to players who know the source material. But do learn to steal shamelessly. Often something original will come out of it.

As someone who built an elaborate homebrew world when I was first Dungeon Mastering in Middle School with an epic set of myths and legends of the Elves and Gods and their role in the world, only to have a party drawn almost completely from the Complete Book of Humanoids . . . 

FIND OUT WHAT YOUR PLAYERS WANT TO PLAY FIRST!!!!

I had a Halfling Ninja, an Oni Fighter, and an Aaracokra Chaos Mage. With that starting point I not only would have been able to create a world that the characters would have been more invested in, it probably would have been more creative.
Question I: What are everyone's thoughts regarding the usage of Homebrew Worlds as opposed to Established Ones?



Depends pretty much purely on the kind of game you want, and if you as the DM enjoy world-building or not.

Question II: What is required to make an entertaining Homebrew World?


Whatever your group finds entertaining. Though, I will say, if you can make the world feel like a "real" place, something alive, rather than just plain and boring, you have created something special. 

Question III: What are things to be avoided when creating a Homebrew World?


    
Inconsistency is a big one. Try to help as much as you can with player suspension of disbelief.


  1. Greatly prefered whether I am a DM or player.

  2. Two things really


    1. Consistancy. If you decide a clan is going to be untrustworthy, the DM needs to remember this in future sessions. Nothing makes a homebrew world fall apart like instability. The players will try to learn the world, and if the DM is constantly changing it they will give up and not care. 

    2. A hook. You need something that makes your setting interesting when compared to something premade.


  3. A few things.


    1. Historical, Realistic, Gritty. I've found that any RPG that advertises these concepts never is. In reality its usually a thinley veiled excuse to be sexist, and occasionally racist.

    2. More than 2 pages of rules changes. (You can include additional add on rules all you want because they can be ignored.) Anything more than two pages hits the "Annoying to remember" mark and most players won't bother.

    3. Restrictive. You need enough variety in the world that all the players can make a character that is interesting to them, and different than another player. An all human samurai game might be fun if you get all the players to buy into it, but more often than not someone isn't interested. Have enough options that they don't have to all by the same thing, but don't stop them if they want to.

    4. Generic Fantasy Tolkien Rip Off. FR, Greyhawk, Dragonlance all already exist. Please don't make it again, no one cares.




This whole post, really.

Question I: What are everyone's thoughts regarding the usage of Homebrew Worlds as opposed to Established Ones?



For fantasy I always use homebrew worlds.

Question II: What is required to make an entertaining Homebrew World? 



Always ask "Why". Why things work. Why things are the way they are. Never stop asking yourself why. This will give you the nuts & bolts of your world. Without knowing how the gears in your world turn it will be hard for you to be consistent and prepared. Consistency with a setting is very important.

Question III: What are things to be avoided when creating a Homebrew World?


Avoid "just because" cliches unless you have asked yourself "why" and come up with a good reason. A good, original reason for a cliche to exist can make the cliche perfectly reasonable while giving it a breath of fresh air.

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.


Question I: What are everyone's thoughts regarding the usage of Homebrew Worlds as opposed to Established Ones?

Question II: What is required to make an entertaining Homebrew World?  

Question III: What are things to be avoided when creating a Homebrew World?
    
 
      

 





1. I'm gonna deviate a bit from everyone else on this. I prefer having an established setting like the 4E Points of Light, because it gives me a starting point. I add my own bits here and there as they come up, but honestly I don't have the time or energy to create my own Middle Earth. In my younger days, probably, but now I need most of that upfront work already done and preferably done by someone else.

2. I think giving players the ability to leave their mark on the world is critical. I've played in very short-lived campaigns where the GM was rigid in the world they'd created, and walking through a painting is a lot different than being able to color in the world as you go.

3. Same as above, being too rigid in the world you've created alienates the people who are playing. Also, creating too much can destroy a game. I was part of a group of players in a homebrew world that had this complex political structure and the first part of the adventure was the GM explaining it to us. All I can remember from that session is none of us cared enough to pay attention and the game fizzled.
I don't "homebrew," but I don't try to get settings "right" when I do use them. Not all of my players are going to be far enough into a given setting to read and memorize facts about it, and information downloads from the DM tend not to work. I'm also not interested in correcting players if they misremember or misassume something about the world. As a result, I'm in a very collaborative mode now, and while there are many generally recognizeable aspects of our game, we're mostly making it up as we go along.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

I don't "homebrew," but I don't try to get settings "right" when I do use them. Not all of my players are going to be far enough into a given setting to read and memorize facts about it, and information downloads from the DM tend not to work. I'm also not interested in correcting players if they misremember or misassume something about the world. As a result, I'm in a very collaborative mode now, and while there are many generally recognizeable aspects of our game, we're mostly making it up as we go along.



That's great when you have a circle of friends/players you play a lot with.

The problem with this is when you start a new group and have a player who is more knowledgeable than you about the world.  You either have to convince that person to suspend what he/she knows or use them as a resource.

I happen to be playing in a game where I know the world as well as the DM, but I am the sort of player who is willing to defer to the DM when he changes something, but he does use me as a resource because now and again he does not know something that I do.

Getting back to the original questions.

I have run in a campaign setting (2e FR) and I have created my own (3.5).  I can tell you that when you are running a homebrew it can be all consuming.  Like someone else stated I did not make my entire world at once.  In my opinion, first that is way too much work to do all at once and second, players are notorious for ruining your well planned intentions.

So, I laid out a continent, I broke it up into kingdoms, and then focused my creative efforts to developing one of those kingdoms for my players to play in.  I also lightly developed the surrounding areas of that kingdom to add to the history of my world and just in case my players decided to venture somewhere I did not intend.

Events progress around the players and the players influence events.  This leads to a lot of daydreaming about what is going to happen next, about how it will impact the players and how they might impact it.

Things to avoid...

as said earlier, inconsistency.

changing too many rules at once.  Again as someone else said, two page rule is a good guide.  I broke that rule and the only thing that saved the game was the fact that the overwhelming majority of my changes were optional tweaks to customize races and classes; most of the players ignored them .

 

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Are you really "entitled to your opinion"?
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The cool thing is, you don't even NEED a reason to say yes.  Just stop looking for a reason to say no.
I don't "homebrew," but I don't try to get settings "right" when I do use them. Not all of my players are going to be far enough into a given setting to read and memorize facts about it, and information downloads from the DM tend not to work. I'm also not interested in correcting players if they misremember or misassume something about the world. As a result, I'm in a very collaborative mode now, and while there are many generally recognizeable aspects of our game, we're mostly making it up as we go along.

That's great when you have a circle of friends/players you play a lot with.

The problem with this is when you start a new group and have a player who is more knowledgeable than you about the world.  You either have to convince that person to suspend what he/she knows or use them as a resource.

I happen to be playing in a game where I know the world as well as the DM, but I am the sort of player who is willing to defer to the DM when he changes something, but he does use me as a resource because now and again he does not know something that I do.

Your final paragraph shows that it doesn't have to be one or the other. The world can be "changed" from what's in the books, and other times it can conform. All I do is allow my players to inform me about what's what in a setting. Those who know the setting sometimes regurgitate what they know, but sometimes provide changes themselves. Those who don't know the setting obviously make up entirely new things. Generally these just involve their immediate locale, which doesn't necessarily need to mean anything about the wider world. But it's generally not worth trying to get things about the world "right," especially if it closes down an interesting idea from someone at the table.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

Tip:  before you have any PC's set foot in your world, before you create any bad guys, or grand schemes, etc., have the world be livable.

That is, unless you're running some kind of nearly empty world, the average joe citizen needs some stability.   There needs to be an economy, and ways of goods exchanging hands, food being produced, etc.   All the standard things an average person has in the world.   Create all these things first.   Ask yourself what a typical day is for a typical citizen of your world, and there should be some variance in this from area to area.  

The world first.   Then decide what systems of government.  Then some interesting stuff going on in it that the players could stumble upon, complete with interesting NPCs.   It is only then is your world ready for adventure and PC's.
In the game I am currently running it started off with a non descript prefab adventure. The first DM just gave the name of a mountain range and a mining town. I was then thrust into the DM role since then, been about 2 months now.

I have used alot of background source of gods and what not to establish the underlining major thing going on in the campaign. A huge Orc and Elf War that is about ready to rip the surrounding area apart.

The best thing I have done is make notes to myself as to what else is going each time the group is playing. If they wander too close to a town that is being attacked they will see elves running from a burning town.  Even if the group is no where near things that are going on, they may come to them a some point. An example would be, I just had an orc war party burn an elf port city to the ground to stop a shipment of weapons. The group just knows about the town, not that it has been attacked due to being no surviors.

But accurate note taking and prep is a must. Your PCs will appericate it and it will make your job easier in the long run.
Tip:  before you have any PC's set foot in your world, before you create any bad guys, or grand schemes, etc., have the world be livable.

That is, unless you're running some kind of nearly empty world, the average joe citizen needs some stability.   There needs to be an economy, and ways of goods exchanging hands, food being produced, etc.   All the standard things an average person has in the world.   Create all these things first.   Ask yourself what a typical day is for a typical citizen of your world, and there should be some variance in this from area to area.  

The world first.   Then decide what systems of government.  Then some interesting stuff going on in it that the players could stumble upon, complete with interesting NPCs.   It is only then is your world ready for adventure and PC's.



This is really good advice.

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

What is a more efficient use of your time?  Creating art that only you appreciate, or creating something that can have a larger impact on the gaming communties worldwide?



Creating something that'll be appreciated by those I'm actually playing the game with.

I'm not at all concerned with having an impact upon gaming comunities worldwide, just the one I'm in atm.

Question I: What are everyone's thoughts regarding the usage of Homebrew Worlds as opposed to Established Ones?

Question II: What is required to make an entertaining Homebrew World?  

Question III: What are things to be avoided when creating a Homebrew World?




I:  I like creating my own homebrew campaing world.  I'm not very fond of the Realms, at all, and I don't know enough about Eberon or anywhere else to really care, beside the fact that what I do know about Eberon, I don't like.  Having my own world and creating as I go is fun, especially when my players/friends get tinto it and help give me idea or just names for towns or something.

II: Create a town and build out from there as you go.  Based on which way the players decide to go, start creating the world in that direction.  "You need to get to the lake of the Blind Guardian, this lake is 40 miles to your east, you can make it there on foot in roughtly two days.  (asuming PCs can walk 25 miles a day or so, and belive me, if you have even one Marine in the game, they'll tell you a PC can make 25 miles in a day.)
      Alternatively, you can create a continent by drawing a light outline and placing your Party in a town wherever you like.  From there you can create the world as you see fit in any direction as the story goes.  It sounds hard to do, but it's really not.  This is how I run every Saturday.

III:  Avoid Cliche.  You can have a Wizard's tower in the very center of a large lake, just make it different somehow.  Maybe Elves or Dwarves where created differently than they where from the Realms or maybe a PC race doesn't even exist.  I took a note from Darksun and made Gnomes non-existant in my campagin world...nobody seems to like Gnomes, and they just don't seem to have a reason to be in the setting.  Hell they didn't even have a reason for being in the 4e PHB at first.  
I used to be a little anxious if I felt that the players knew more about a world than me, but I finally realized THATS A GOOD THING.  Its a lot easier and more imaginative when the players can contribute.

An example I used earler was when my friend Todd was running in the world of Nehwon (Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser).  I knew a ton about the world and could throw in anecdotes and info for the other players.  Since I wasn't a big jerk, I didn't point out that I felt I knew more than the GM was "expressing" in the games. 

Gamer Chiropractor - Hafner Chiropractic 305 S. Kipling st,Suite C-2, Lakewood, Co 80226 hafnerchiropractic.com

I used to be a little anxious if I felt that the players knew more about a world than me, but I finally realized THATS A GOOD THING.  Its a lot easier and more imaginative when the players can contribute.

An example I used earler was when my friend Todd was running in the world of Nehwon (Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser).  I knew a ton about the world and could throw in anecdotes and info for the other players.  Since I wasn't a big jerk, I didn't point out that I felt I knew more than the GM was "expressing" in the games. 

Yes, that really helps, when they player backs up the DM's play with their knowledge of the world, instead of questioning or contradicting the DM.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

I used to be a little anxious if I felt that the players knew more about a world than me, but I finally realized THATS A GOOD THING.  Its a lot easier and more imaginative when the players can contribute.

An example I used earler was when my friend Todd was running in the world of Nehwon (Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser).  I knew a ton about the world and could throw in anecdotes and info for the other players.  Since I wasn't a big jerk, I didn't point out that I felt I knew more than the GM was "expressing" in the games. 



You got to play a game set in Newhon?

....

*Cries softly in a corner.*