Campaign Settings- What are your pet peeves?

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There is always some tiny snag in the grand pattern, a minor flaw in the elaborate gem that is the DM's world. Maybe it is official, maybe it is homebrewed, maybe it is a hybrid of the two. But somewhere in there lies a tiny detail or a major trope, something that scrapes across your sense of immersion like talons on a chalkboard.

Something in the setting Bothers You.

This thread is a place to discuss, vent, and share all those little details that bug the hell out of you in regards to settings and worlds. Please be as specific or general as you like. :D

I have two.

1) And here is the land of People Who Are Better Than You.

Somewhere, somehow, the campaign creator has placed a race or species that they absolutely love. As a result, that race is better. At everything. They are most likely smarter, stronger, smexier, more magically, technologically, and artistically inclined, and have more wisdom at age 3 than the entire rest of the world. Their cities make other races weep from the sheer magnificence, their sages have uncovered the secrets of the universe before the first bugbear bashed a skull, and their culture and virtue have eradicated all vices, all blemishes, all imperfections whatsoever. If they have one flaw, it is that they are incredibly arrogant about just how gosh darn awesome they are, so they won't lift a finger to help if the world is crashing down. Also, they probably live longer. And for some reason, your DM doesn't understand why you wish to kill every single one of them.

2) Here is where the Egyptian people live!

A perfect copy-paste of an existing Earth culture, which has somehow evolved in a world where people shoot fireballs and dragons roam the earth. Now, I understand the inspiration, there are many beautiful elements of the cultures we already have on this planet to use in fantasy. But it always baffles me how exactly a perfect copy of the Holy Roman Empire manages to exist and thrive next to the Generic Slave-Taking Wizard Nation, the Hobgoblin Sacrificial Temples/Sports, Bar, and Grill, and the mountains labeled Here There Be Illithid. One would think that maybe, just maybe, the fact that certain people can call down thunder and lightning or bring people back from the dead would have a minor influence on the nation. But maybe I'm just belligerent. :embarrass
1.) Here is The Land of The Race in D&D That I Absolutely Hate So I Will Reduce Them to Slobbering Dimwits Who Couldn't Fight Their Way Out of a Wet Paper Bag

See this everywhere and every time I see it I want to throttle the DM violently. Preferably to death. ****damn, I don't like _______ race either, but if I find an appropriate palce for them that doens't scream "GUYS, I REALLY HATE THIS RACE SO I'LL TAKE MY HATRED OUT ON THEM IN THE MOST IDIOTIC WAY I CAN" I'll stick them in there.

2.) I'm REINVENTING THE ****ING WHEEL HOLY **** AM I AWESOME NOW?

This. This a thousand times. While I like creativity and turning things upside down for the fun of it, at a certain point it gets stupid and I want to throttle the person who made it. Violently. Because they think they're so damn clever.

3.) Here's my 100% wonderful awesome custom ORIGINAL CREATION DO NOT STEAL race that is totally not an entire race of Mary Sues.

Seriously. Seriously. Die in a fire.

4.) As 3, but being anthropomorphic animals of some kind.

Die in a uncomfortably warm fire so that your death may be slow and exceedingly painful.
1) And here is the land of People Who Are Better Than You.

You know, I usually agree... because usually the people who fill this slot are elves. God it makes me hate elves sometimes. I mean, I love them when they are depicted in some new/exciting and not better than everyone else way... but I HATE it when I see Tolkien rip off, and also the first and best race, elves. But, Eberron kind of does this with dragons, and I sort of like the way they did!

Anyways, my major pet peeve.

1) Bland generic Tolkien rip off fantasy.

I get it, I really do. He wrote a great book. He told a great story. And, hell, its tough to tell new stories. But, for gods sakes, at least reskin the story, play with the tropes, and alter roles a little. Bland generic Tolkien rip off fantasy is what made me turn my back of Forgotten Realms, Dragon Lance, Greyhawk, and god knows how many home brew games. Give me something neat! Give me something weird! Give me something dark! Give me something funny! I don't care, just give me something that feels like I have not seen it before!
My two peeves:

DM's not asking the players what they want to play. "I'm the DM, so we play in my world with my rules and that's that." Seriously. It gets old, and it's not uncommon in homebrew settings for the rules and world to seem arbitrarily tailored specifically to the DM's preference, not the entire table's.

And "Low Magic"

This is actually a corollary to number one, but more often than not in a low magic setting, it was foisted upon the players, not accepted from the beginning. Included in this is the DM's use of Mordy's Disjunction. It's the DM saying "I don't like that, so you can't have it."
My two peeves:

DM's not asking the players what they want to play. "I'm the DM, so we play in my world with my rules and that's that." Seriously. It gets old, and it's not uncommon in homebrew settings for the rules and world to seem arbitrarily tailored specifically to the DM's preference, not the entire table's.

And "Low Magic"

This is actually a corollary to number one, but more often than not in a low magic setting, it was foisted upon the players, not accepted from the beginning. Included in this is the DM's use of Mordy's Disjunction. It's the DM saying "I don't like that, so you can't have it."

Mordenkainen is a wonderful bastard. What kind of Wizard decides to make a spell to permanetly dick over another spellcaster?

There's also the Mansion spell. Like I said, Mordenkainen is awesome.
1) They had planned for everything, and new everything

Maybe you just walked into town, a complete stranger from a distant land, but it seems the evil overlord knows everything about you. Maybe you're trying to disguise yourself as someone else, but it just seems that everyone you meet knew that guy was left handed and sees right through your disguise. Whatever it is, the bad guys knew you were going to do it, and they had a contingency plan for it. Whether or not the DM just made it up on the spot doesn't matter, just believe that they always know exactly what's going on.
Low Magic and anything close to being human only. These two examples **** me off and I usually skip over these in the quickness.
Low Magic and anything close to being human only. These two examples **** me off and I usually skip over these in the quickness.

I've only ever been in one campiagn where it was human only and it totally worked and was enjoyable... Legend of the 5 rings... not sure how it would work in 4e now but in 3.5 it was good stuff.

Never played in a low magic setting and i never will.

My pet peeve? There is always an island of mystery and someone always knows there is a power artifact on it... even though no one who goes there ever returns.
my peeves?

1) nonononono... i'm too important to do this task... here, you do it.
high level NPCs who are too lazy/self-important to do their own job. i mean seriously... that wizard could just 'port in, nuke the place and 'port out in less then a minute or that fighter could just smash the wall, ignore the inhabitants and grab the idol for himself... and yet they ask some 5 random schmoes to do it. i don't mind doing a job for someone who's in actual trouble but it seriously irks me when i'm basically some guy's errand-boy.

2) nonononono... i'm too important to save the world... here, you do it.
a corollary of 1, that for some unfathomable reason, every time the world is in danger it's up to the PC's to save it... even though there are at least 4 good aligned NPCs somewhere in town that are better suited for the job. i mean seriously here, at least back us up!

3) the wizard 20/cleric 20/psion 20/fighter 20/...
AKA the super NPC. the guy the DM introduces, not necessarily as a DMPC but just there to look awesome and usually (unknowingly) overshadow the PCs. these folks that make your hard task look easy. and it grates my nerves to no end.

i'm currently playing in a game that regretfully has two of these guys who pop up every now and then. no matter what we do, these folks can do better. at least i still have polymorph...

as a corollary to 1 & 2 if these guys tag along for a while, they just sit back and let us do all the hard work until we're in trouble... then they clean house and berate us. sigh.

4) magic = good, machine = bad
for some reason the dark ages have been going on for over two thousand years. civilization has reached a certain limit and decided to stop innovating. entirely. sometimes this is due to a god's interference or the fact that people are just somehow too content with the status quo. the one race/country that tries to innovate or create are usually "evil" in the eyes of the people.

5) magic is rare... except for within the party
in a setting where magic is supposedly "rare", each party seems to find itself with 2.5 spellcasters on average. weird. weirder still, the party seems to be able to find all material components needed with ease.

6) it's like on earth, only different!
like dragoncat, the roman kobolds, egyptian lizardfolk, native american orcs, european elves, japanese goblins... i'll admit to having done some of this myself a bit, but some of these homebrew worlds are literally just earth with funny ears (mine are the rome-inspired kobolds. Best. Phalanx. Ever).
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1) Catch all Setting:

This is most apparent with magic. I personally dislike settings where everything and the kitchen-sink is thrown into it with no interconnection or relation to eachother. I prefer settings where in general there is some theme or pattern to it.

FR is the epitome of this Catch all Setting.

2) Elemental Magic is Most Abundant:


This has been a rant in my head for a very long time, but where magic (especially Arcane) is almost completely based around elemental magic, fireballs, frost, etc. Why don't we see more Spirit-magic, Sigil-magic, Blood-magic, etc, etc.

3) The Setting never Goes Beyond 14th Century:

I have always enjoyed settings that integrate technology into their settings or set in different time-periods. So I always disliked how no matter how long the setting lasts technology won't improve. I like my settings where knights charge firing revolvers.

4) Magic is the Be All End All:

Always disliked settings where basically everything powerful or important is magic based. I like it where simply normal martial abilities, technology, ingenuity, etc. is as important or more important then magic.

5) Black vs. White:


Nothing is ever black and white, so why should a setting be so? Hell even in my settings with alignment-based gods it is quite likely for a Lawful Good god to commit genocide if it sees it as fitting his pantheon.

6) Europe and Only Europe:

Only using the ideal Medieval Europe as a setting, you can have some of that. But why don't we see settings grounded instead in say Voodoo-Louisiana or Hindu-India.
1. Planescape can't come out soon enough.
1. No GIANT piggy demigods.

If you play in my games the first boss will be a HUGE pig demigod. Yes, it does snort you to death.
Resident Piggles Zombie piggy is eatin' your sigs om nom nom (>*o*)>
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I've only ever been in one campiagn where it was human only and it totally worked and was enjoyable... Legend of the 5 rings... not sure how it would work in 4e now but in 3.5 it was good stuff.

I'm not into any of that ****. When I play fantasy I want my non human races, the less there Tolkien like the better.
I'm not into any of that ****. When I play fantasy I want my non human races, the less there Tolkien like the better.

So I'm assuming your a big fan of Dragonborn and Tieflings?
So I'm assuming your a big fan of Dragonborn and Tieflings?

You say that as if it were a bad thing =P.
- There's always some sort of super-advanced race who had a ginormous empire and controlled everything, but then something destroyed it


- Abberant monsters often feel like "Eh, might as well just throw stuff together like a duck-billed playtpus and hope it works"


- Evolution: despite breeding like bacteria, kobolds and goblins (and such creatures) never seem to develop much more than the capacity for being sneaky little bassturds. You'd think that with as much reproduction that occurs, they would advance somehow


- Rarely, if ever, Gods of absurd/small things. Like blankets or shoelaces. I mean, there's usually a God for everything else.
1) And here is the land of People Who Are Better Than You.

Somewhere, somehow, the campaign creator has placed a race or species that they absolutely love. As a result, that race is better. At everything. They are most likely smarter, stronger, smexier, more magically, technologically, and artistically inclined, and have more wisdom at age 3 than the entire rest of the world. Their cities make other races weep from the sheer magnificence, their sages have uncovered the secrets of the universe before the first bugbear bashed a skull, and their culture and virtue have eradicated all vices, all blemishes, all imperfections whatsoever. If they have one flaw, it is that they are incredibly arrogant about just how gosh darn awesome they are, so they won't lift a finger to help if the world is crashing down. Also, they probably live longer. And for some reason, your DM doesn't understand why you wish to kill every single one of them.

Ironically, I join you in hating this trope and have actually used it in one of my settings as a parody of sorts. It was a lawful good Mary Sue race, and a rebellion of virtually every other race was the core of the setting. It was actually a pretty damn good setting, and one of my personal favorites of the ones I've made (it's rare to have a lawful good antagonist, let alone an empire of lawful good antagonists... picture a friendly rendition of the Galactic Empire in a fantasy setting with cheery elf-like faces and muskets they use to enforce "the greater good").

That said, here are a few of the other clichés I hate.

Culture Of Personality
Why is it that humans seem to be the only race that can have any personality. Dragonborn are always loyal, elves are always nature freaks, dwarves are always stoic, gruff jerks and drow are always evil. Sure there are exceptions, but in real life, it's the groups of people with identical personalities that are the exception, not the other way around. It irritates me to no end. It's like somebody wrote up a list of stereotypes, then actually made a race for each and every one of them.

A Wizard Did It
Nothing annoys me more than taking a shortcut explanation with "it's magic, so it doesn't need explaining". Nothing. It's one thing to have magic involved, but nothing makes me more mad than to completely explain some gigantic event with "it's magic".

Everything Is Out To Kill You
I hate settings where the most dangerous, most powerful, most destructive things around are evil and want the human race destroyed. You'd figure with all these creatures that are superior to the human race that want them and their demihuman friends dead, they would be. This leads to....

Good Is Good, Evil Is Evil, That's That
I hate settings where morality is straight black and white. Not every evil creature should be a sick, cannibalistic, ****-happy monster; nor should every good character be a boy scout. There probably shouldn't even be a real division between the two. There are, after all, "evil deeds with good intentions" and "good deeds with evil intentions".

Cthuloid Horrors
What's so scary about a squid? I don't think they are that scary. So why is it that every single monster that is supposedly so horrific they could make you go insane by simply looking at it has got a squidlike appearance? You want to scare the crap out of a gamer, don't use evil seafood... let them get attacked by a giant roving ooze of half-digested Cheetos, and see if they ever sleep again.

Omnipotent/Omniscient Gods
I'm sorry, why do you have clerics when you could do whatever you want with a snap of your fingers and see everything you could possibly want to see? If you're omniscient, and you have the power to give and take away cleric powers, then why would you grant powers to anyone save for those who will most definitely not screw up? Shouldn't it be impossible for paladins to fall, since omniscient gods should know that they are going to fall and therefore not grant powers to people who will one day be fallen paladins? The number of blackguards that exist should therefore always be 0.

Those are the ones that came to mind. I might come up with more later.
Campaigns That Make A Social Statement

I tried to play in one once where the DM was a feminist eco-freak. All humans were brutish and short-sighted, dedicated only to raping the environment and making money, and the only humans who came close to breaking the mold were the poor, oppressed women whose attempts at being kind to the earth were thwarted by those evil men at every turn who apparently only ever married for the purpose of saddling their wives with tons of kids. Apparently, even human rangers were hell-bent on hunting everything out of existence.
wizard 20/cleric 20/psion 20/fighter 20/... [/u]
AKA the super NPC. the guy the DM introduces, not necessarily as a DMPC but just there to look awesome and usually (unknowingly) overshadow the PCs. these folks that make your hard task look easy. and it grates my nerves to no end.

i'm currently playing in a game that regretfully has two of these guys who pop up every now and then. no matter what we do, these folks can do better. at least i still have polymorph...

as a corollary to 1 & 2 if these guys tag along for a while, they just sit back and let us do all the hard work until we're in trouble... then they clean house and berate us. sigh.

This is the WORST. It's not campaign setting-specific, but will make me leave the table faster than the pizza arriving.
4e D&D is not a "Tabletop MMO." It is not Massively Multiplayer, and is usually not played Online. Come up with better descriptions of your complaints, cuz this one means jack ****.
You say that as if it were a bad thing =P.

Oh, no, no, not at all. Dragonborn look rather fun to play, actually. :D
1. It's high magic, but nobody knows that.

Even though you've got archmagi who can level cities and take out armies with the snap of their fingers, or who can create infinite suits of plate mail with fabricate, the world goes by as if these people just didn't exist. In fact, nobody seems to care that there are tons of ways to bypass conventional medieval defenses and they just go about happily building castles and start fortresses, completely ignoring that walls won't keep out any wizard of 3rd level or higher. Similarly, when the king dies, nobody suggests just raising him, instead everyone morns as though there was nothing that could be done. And nobody ever thought of combining portable holes and teleport spells for trade. Ever.

2. The endless war
Yes, planescape, I'm looking at you. As with any setting that has infinite battlefields and the like. It's bad as a PC to come up against an unwinnable war. It's ten times worse when you know that anything you might do is a drop in an infinitely large pond and that leads to the next one....

3. Low-level? Yeah you guys don't matter, don't even pretend that you're heroes.
This is the typical scenario in a world filled with high-level people, or at least enough where it's likely that the world actually doesn't need any help from low level people beyond doing dirty jobs that the higher level guys don't want to touch. If your low-level PCs fail, it's not going to be the end of Shadowdale or Cormyr. It's just not and you know it. Pretty much you can't be heroes.
Since I don't remember the last time anyone GMed for me () I'll turn the tables slightly:

1) Players who assume the setting is a collection of tropes
My settings are usually nuanced and complex, and if it looks like I used a trope to define an entire nation or species, chances are that is just so that I can start from stock and develop it. As an example, in my current setting the characters have just learned to speak Kobold, and are beginning to wonder if they've been on the right end of the sword this whole time.

Nevertheless, even in my pretty forgiving group of players who are aware I do this, I occasionally get someone assuming they know a species/culture/group based on the tropes assocated with them.

2) RAW fluff
The RAW fluff is, in my opinion, absolutely pathetic. The gods are flavourless, the races' history is generically bad fantasy, even the planes have weird names and functions. I encourage my players to ignore the RAW fluff and create their own for their characters.

That said, it's better than the 3e fluff: at least I can extricate the 4e fluff with a handwave.
My laptop resolution is 800x400. The forum is 1224 pixels wide. Sorry, I won't be replying to many people until the designers learn to use "width: x%" instead of pixels.
The wait for Ravenloft is actually cheesing me off. It was my favourite setting, and I really want to see if WotC is going to do much with it or if it's just a column in Dragon Magazine...
I've only ever been in one campiagn where it was human only and it totally worked and was enjoyable... Legend of the 5 rings... not sure how it would work in 4e now but in 3.5 it was good stuff.

Big thing there is...L5R/Rokugan isn't actually a D&D setting. The Oriental Adventures splatbook effectively ripped off and d20-ified the actual Legend of the Five Rings game concept and retooled it for D&D use (there's a whole chunk on how to import D&D races and classes in the book, I believe, plus at least two non-Rokugan races and a class or two slapped in for good measure), but in the end the setting's not really meant for anything but humans and Nezumi. So I can see why the campaign was run with only humans allowed.

Anyway, to the actual topic...my personal pet peeves about campaign settings? Here's the major ones I can think of, complete with goofy titles, just for the heck of it. Be warned, some of this spills over more into the mishandling of setting creation/use by DMs, and isn't really a peeve with settings themselves...

1) "The world is not enough": otherwise known as too much friggin' detail. This is my biggest problem with published settings; I couldn't get interested in Forgotten Realms largely because it felt like there was far too much to take in with regard to history of every known part of the world, the involvement of various deities in the world and their little quirks (Lolth and her lot, I'm looking at you!), ancient artifacts, various groups of prestige and common knowledge, various named and powerful NPCs, etc. I felt that there didn't seem to be enough space for any sense of discovery or the sheer adventure of going into the unknown.

This particularly presents a problem when you combine it with players that have access to the backstory of the setting in the form of novels and the like; I'd never have run FR with a particular friend of mine who was obsessed with the various FR novel series covering Drizzt and Elminster; he'd be the first to metagame or otherwise use his knowledge--even unintentionally--to throw the proverbial wrench into any interpretation of the setting that wasn't like the books. Players might know more about the setting than the DM, and the knowledge can be further distorted by multiple authors' interpretations of it.

Not to say that this can't happen in a homebrew, but the release of information to the players is more easily mitigated to what's vital, and the DM can change the world to more easily fit around what the players do, so it's infinitely more mutable at a glance than something that's in print and has years of stuff to back it up.

2) "Why am I doing this again?": back to an over-detailed setting, the idea that there are NPCs of epic or near-epic level lurking in a world, particularly those regarded as great heroes or villains makes one wonder what some lesser villain or budding hero is doing there. Especially when it's implied that those great heroes and villains are still involved in the affairs of the world; those minor villains would either get squashed by the big villains so there's no challenge to their power-base, or knocked down by the heroes to keep them from getting to world-domination levels by common logic, so why are there uprising heroes who are somehow the only ones who can challenge them? Why are new heroes suddenly involved--even inadvertently--in stopping the affairs of some BBEG, at that?

3) "Low Magic": plain and simple. I want my high-fantasy, crazy magical world in D&D. I want to see Wizards and Warlocks throwing around dangerous elemental power or eldritch energy straight out of Hell or wherever, magic artifacts of ancient power, etc., because if I didn't want fantastical things, I wouldn't be playing a game that's geared toward sword-and-sorcery types of fantasy themes. If I wanted grim-and-gritty (what some people seem to equate "low magic" settings to, it often seems), I'd play nWoD mortals-only, or Shadowrun, or even L5R with the Shadowlands on the rise. Those can do gritty, dark, potentially life-threatening danger far better IMO than an outright neutering of magic in D&D. Especially because it always seems that higher level play in D&D is practically tailored to either the need for magic or at least weapons that're either magic or meant to disrupt it to bypass DR, etc.

4) "The Rule of Cool" and the "I Just Don't Like 'Em!": this is not always a pet peeve...sometimes it's a very good thing, as the former can help justify why things that are slightly illogical are so, or otherwise cover for minor oddities. The second can also be used for good to a lesser extent, but it can still cover for why a DM might do something. I don't like it when it goes too far, particularly in homebrew; some people use it to justify their dislike of a race/class/spell/etc. by making them utterly unplayable in their setting, or make one race/class/etc. stand out as overtly good, or otherwise strain the concept of "My world, my way."

For examples of what I consider good/bad uses of the "Don't like 'em" concept (Because rule of cool is harder to define as when it's gone too far), my BF freely admits to not really liking Elves, but he doesn't go out of his way to make them a hated creature that won't even be able to get into a town without people wanting to burn them at the stake, or making them pure evil. They're just less prevalent, and slightly more insular in their communities, so they might not be a common sight but are by no means seen as monsters. It's a solution that leaves room for the possibility that a player might want to use one, and the DM will have to work with it, but that it can be less than ideal for the player. Just not impossible to work with.

In contrast--especially with 4e--it seems like a lot of people want to do just that with races like the Tieflings or Dragonborn, and try to use their appearance/RAW history fluff/classic RAW fluff as their reason to vilify them, particularly the Tiefling. And often, it seems to boil down to the person saying "I'm the DM, so I'm going to do this because it's my world, and I don't like them!", without any sense that they know what their players might think, or that they've considered alternate and less overt ways to make the race/class/whatever uncommon or otherwise not as likely to be seen in their world.

Those are about the most glaring peeves, I suppose. And I know if I take it any further than this, I'll really wind into a rant...therefore, I'm leaving it here.
So I'm assuming your a big fan of Dragonborn and Tieflings?

Yup ! Races I'm the biggest fan of are Yaun Ti, Gnolls, Minotaurs, Dborn, Tieflings, and Kobolds.
I'm more of a tiefling, minotaur, Dark Sun elf, Eberron Dark Elf, Eberron halfling, shifter, vampire sort of guy myself... :P

Orc and human barbarians are cool sometimes too...
The Forgotten Realms.

Or rather most of the people who love/hate it. You know who I'm talking about:

A) Those who believe that every word ever written concerning the Realms is & must always be a part of any Realms based game.
You kow what? I like the Realms in a general sort of way. But I've read alot of Realms crap over the years that just doesn't work for me. Places, items, NPCs, conflicts, whatever. So I simply view this mountain of company produced stuff as a chronicle of how someone else's campaign has unfolded. Maybe I'll borrow a bit, maybe I wont. Either way I can run a perfectly enjoyable Realms based game.

B) The people who maintain that everythings too detailed in the Realms. That there's no room for the PCs to actually do anything.
Bull****.
Once again, I can run you a perfectly fine FR game. And I can do this using all that empty space found on the map(s) OR smack in the middle of all the WoTC crap you can imagine.
1 - Group X controls the world

Usually paired with low magic games, this is a world where a powerful organisation controls pretty much everything and is used as beating stick by the DM to make sure his world remain the way he wants it.

Said DM also rarely let you go against the organisation mo matter how powerful you are or even join them - you're supposed to carry on and consider them part of the world, like gravity.

The DM also usually consider this group to be super cool and original.

2 - It's a bird, it's a plane... it's super npc

Already mentioned several time, but it usually Group X will have several of those guys. A personal pet peeve of mine is when the game hinge on watching 2 super npcs duke it out with the pc basically unable to affect the outcome.
1) After you end up in a fight with some guy you have never heard of before:

DM: "Oh yeah, that guy is cannon, he can't die."

Us: ... you couldn't have told us that before we got in the fight!




I'm with a bunch of you on hating uber-GMPCs.

We have three in one game I am in. Everybody in the game threatened to quit because of them so the GM agreed that we would never see them again. And yet, six months later they are still in the game "because we haven't gotten to a place in the story where it would be appropriate for them to leave" and the DM can't figure out why nobody wants to post ever (PbP). And this is despite the fact that one of the uber-GMPCs was pregnant until about a month ago and now has a one month old baby!!!!
I think I have dodged most of them...
My own:

The gods ain't listening

If the cleric is disloyal to his god, he doesn't loose his powers how?

Demons ignore guns/conventional armaments
NO, Demons have lots of HP and DR, they will just take the tank shell like it was a .22, a few more, or one good hit and he is down.
Same goes for missiles.
Less Human means Less Good
This is related to the Tolkien annoyance that other people have mentioned. Humans are generally a good race. Thin humans (elves)? Good. Short Humans (dwarves/gnomes/halflings)? Good. Green/scaly/furry/horned humans? Evil, and probably eat good-human flesh. Thin/short humans, but with weird skin (drow/duergar)? Evil. The only evil ones you normally see having exceptions are the drow, since they're pretty much just elves with dark skin. Give me some variety! Don't get confused when I don't want to judge every book by its cover!

We're Friends Because We're Both Evil!
Some DMs have this assumption that all evil beings, no matter how paranoid or self-serving, are willing to work with each other for the Greater Evil. Generally, any war against a monolithic evil grates on my suspension of disbelief, especially when it includes several different ethnocentric cultures working in harmony.

We're Friends Because We're Both Good!
The closest thing some campaign worlds see to a war between good races is a slight nod to the Tolkien-inspired elf-dwarf rivalry. There's rarely ever any serious conflict between PC-intended races. While this makes sense from a "get the party to not kill each other" standpoint, it hurts my sense of verisimilitude. Combine this with the previous one for the ultimate in Black vs. White with-us-or-against-us war that drives me nuts.
Rhymes with Bruce
We're Friends Because We're Both Evil!
Some DMs have this assumption that all evil beings, no matter how paranoid or self-serving, are willing to work with each other for the Greater Evil. Generally, any war against a monolithic evil grates on my suspension of disbelief, especially when it includes several different ethnocentric cultures working in harmony.

We're Friends Because We're Both Good!
The closest thing some campaign worlds see to a war between good races is a slight nod to the Tolkien-inspired elf-dwarf rivalry. There's rarely ever any serious conflict between PC-intended races. While this makes sense from a "get the party to not kill each other" standpoint, it hurts my sense of verisimilitude. Combine this with the previous one for the ultimate in Black vs. White with-us-or-against-us war that drives me nuts.

It goes even further than that, every one is stippled, some parts are good, some are bad. For example my big bad good guy: Laetissimus, the dragon.
He may be a good guy, but he is a dragon, so I have him be somethign of a fascist, he thinks of his city as his hoard, etc.
Bad guys can be nice too. but that can be made to rub it in how cruel they are.
DM's not asking the players what they want to play. "I'm the DM, so we play in my world with my rules and that's that." Seriously. It gets old, and it's not uncommon in homebrew settings for the rules and world to seem arbitrarily tailored specifically to the DM's preference, not the entire table's.

How do you do this when homebrewing a world can take months and you aren't going to even be looking for players until you're done?
Here's mine as best as I can do them:

1) There are threats all around you and one wrong move will set off a lot of bad things happening…………. i.e. Pointing out danger.
I hate it when published settings give me pre-made ways to imperil the setting, pre-made BBEGs, pre-made conflicts, etc. because I get confused. And it's for the same reason I won't touch obviously dangerous settings as a player: I can't get my head around being a person who lives in such a world. My fear response goes to MAX. I need presented the point of view of safe living and then layer on the danger. So as a DM I like settings where I design all the peril myself, and as a player I like settings where I don't know the danger until it comes up in game.

2) Give up now. i.e. Grim and/or dark settings.
If I wanted a world with a whole lot of terrible problems that I can't solve I'd read the newspaper.

3) You are the bug to the world's windshield. i.e. Low-powered and/or gritty settings.
My low-powered setting is called "real life". I'm not interested in another one.

4) It's like the real world. What fun. i.e. Low fantastic quotient.
Ditto to #3. Plus a made-up world just doesn't feel right unless its got a lot of weird in it.

5) The only good demon is a dead demon. i.e. Assigning alignments/personalities.
All the really good arguments about this one have already been made. Repeatedly.

6) The darkness is hungry and will drain your soul. i.e. Associating darkness, death, cold, chaos. etc. with evil.
Just because people are afraid of these things does not mean they always have to be cast in the villain role. Give me some undead that don't hate the living, give me some creatures of darkness that are protective of others, give me some chaos that does good for the world.

7) This setting must correspond exactly to specification standard EX-993-7. i.e. Taking things seriously.
I don't care about versimilitude. I don't care about logic. I want a setting because it feels cool, feels like it's an old myth where the people had to make up the world, not because it would make a great college anthropology paper.
[snip]

6) The darkness is hungry and will drain your soul. i.e. Associating darkness, death, cold, chaos. etc. with evil.
Just because people are afraid of these things does not mean they always have to be cast in the villain role. Give me some undead that don't hate the living, give me some creatures of darkness that are protective of others, give me some chaos that does good for the world.

[/snip]

THIS. I hate when people go "NECROMANCY EVIIIIIIL EVIIIIIIL!!!! BURN!!!!"

Well guess what villager, I saved your bum, from the acolyte of Asmodeus that was swinging his radiant powers in your faces, with mah necromantic powas.
Resident Piggles Zombie piggy is eatin' your sigs om nom nom (>*o*)>
MTG Card
Front: PigKnight, One Line Poster (3W) Legendary Creature - Boar Knight Vigilance When this creature dies, return him to play and transform him. (2/3) >(5/3)< Back: (Black)ZombiePiggles, Eater of Tomato Sauce Legendary Creature - Boar Knight Zombie Trample, Intimidate B: Regenerate this creature. When this creature is the target of a white spell, transform this creature. (5/3)

IMAGE(http://www.nodiatis.com/pub/15.jpg)

How do you do this when homebrewing a world can take months and you aren't going to even be looking for players until you're done?

depends on your method of world building. my own normally starts with an idea:
30 minute brainstorm i throw at the players

let's say... a magic-as-technology-ish setting where the weak "fleshies" are being killed by their magic-robot masters (warforged) and turned into techno-zombies. i like bleak and dystopian settings with robot masters and zombie outbreaks.

now that i have an idea i expound a bit:

warforged were originally created by... dwarves... to help them in the mines.

warforged need not eat/sleep/breathe so they could much easier send them into places for days on end that could cause problems for the dwarves. warforged hated being treated as objects as well as they were built to be superior to the dwarves and started a genocidal cleansing of the weaker, fleshy races.

the world's view on magic is pretty much the same as ours with machinery & technology: a tool to make our lives easier. the standard of living is (used to be) pretty high : clerical churches/clinics give easy access to healing. trade & travel via portals is common and gives access to exotic products & places. ect...

the players however never experienced this... they grew up in a world where those with healing are rationed within compounds for warforged use only. portals are heavily guarded. warforged & the zombies they can create are "birthed" (a term used to mock the fleshies) in special hidden factories called "wombs" (same as before). most fleshies live in small isolated camps or in well hidden villages away from the eyes of their cold masters.

the warforged have a pretty good grip on things, they control about 60-70% of the "world". fleshies are in trouble but have a lot still going for them:
-larger numbers
-their own networks & resources
-they still have their own weapons
-ect..

fleshies are in a really bad position but the warforged expanded too fast too soon so their numbers are still low & their resources straining a bit, even though they control a large amount of territory.


at this point it's a yes/no scenario: if the group says yes we bounce ideas off each other for a while until we get a better idea of the world we're going to play in. if no, we bounce ideas off each other for a while until we get an idea of the world we want to play in.

lets say that the original idea was actually accepted as is.

character creation & game start

at this point the group does character creation based on the brief outlines we provided. players create their characters and backgrounds and work out how they joined the rebels in the first place.

i would start planning the first adventure like i normally do:

starting scenario & surrounding area.

we'll say that the party decided to be a band of rebels who are out to pull the plug on their robot masters. i enjoy starting out my campaigns by finding out how the party works together in a stressful situation, so pre-first session they had found the location of a clerical station and they want to break out the poor schmoe who is being forced to act as a "healbot" for the chrome domes. i pick out the local geography, we'll say a fenced compound located in a clearing surrounded by forest. i start mapping out the compound, which is comprised of two two story buildings (a larger one and a smaller one), connected together on the top floor. the party can get in via a air duct on the roof, breaking a window or through one of the doors.

the cleric is being held in the basement of the building, chained to the wall of a featureless chamber. several WF are in that building working on various projects: weapons, armor, alchemical warfare, ect... i make sure to describe everything they find as highly sophisticated but mundane in nature.

after a few skirmishes the players finally meet the "healbot" who divulges to them that while the warforged are magically created, they don't have any talents for the arcane arts and as artificially created creatures, they have no connection to the divinities. the cleric then takes some time to heal them up a bit. the players then have to find a way out of the compound and the forest to a "safe house".


at this point i start creating a list of possible NPCs the party will interact with: other revolutionaries and renegades, family members, non-combatant friends, maybe a warforged prisoner or two, ect...

it then grows from there.

it's a pretty quick draft that's rife with cliches and overused scenarios... that's why after the first session i'll take some time during work and at home to twist things around and add some depth. by the time the first session starts, the group will have a good idea of how the world works, several important NPCs, ect... and i'll have a few areas and possible plot hooks to throw at the party.

i rarely detail everything. i normally don't have to at the start and i've gained to ability to predict roughly what the group wants from the game after a session or two, as well as listening on their plans allows me to take note of what to work on that week (prisoner trades, more break-ins, research on how the warforged [who cannot use magic] can create "zombies", ect...).

i also barely create things outside of what the PCs have access to. if there is no way the PCs can access town/area X within the session... town/area X will stay unspecified other then a brief description.
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"All right, I've been thinking. When life gives you lemons, don't make lemonade. Make life take the lemons back. GET MAD! I DON'T WANT YOUR **** LEMONS! WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO WITH THESE?! DEMAND TO SEE LIFE'S MANAGER! Make life RUE the day it thought it could give CAVE JOHNSON LEMONS! DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM?! I'M THE MAN WHO'S GONNA BURN YOUR HOUSE DOWN! WITH THE LEMONS! I'm gonna get my engineers to invent a combustible lemon that's gonna BURN YOUR HOUSE DOWN!" -Cave Johnson, Portal 2
Long Histories

I hate reading world histories. Whenever I see a new campaign setting, 95 percent of the time, I'm hit by a huge block of text detailing the last ten thousand years of the world's history. It's an immediate turn off, and I tend to either stop reading entirely or just skim it. Why is the history of the world known so well in any case? Will the characters know all the events of the past ten millenia? Unless they're all scholars, I doubt it. And why is everything so certain? Most campaign histories are written in a definite tone, as though that version of events was the one, unimpeachable truth. Even today, with our modern methods of Anthropological and Historical fact-finding, we're not entirely sure what things were like ten thousand years ago.

Huge World Maps

I understand the desire for a big, epic world, but is it really necessary to draw out five continents? You could spend a whole campaign in an area the size of a State and still never see everything there is to see. Plus, unless you plan on spending the next several decades fleshing out your world, you're never going to detail all of that land.

Humans with pointy ears

It's always been a pet peeve of mine that all the races in the PHB are "humans only a little different". What separates a halfling or a dwarf from a human other than build and culture? Nothing. What separates an Elf from a skinny human? Pointy ears. If all the races are going to be so similar, why not just make them all representative of different human cultures? This would even kill two birds with one stone by avoiding the "Monocultural Race with Identical Personalities" problem.

Thinly Disguised Racism

Speaking of poorly designed "races" - Elves who are all angelic, good caucasians. Orcs and Goblinoids as some twisted amalgam of all the "primitive native" stereotypes colonists propagated. Drow... do I even have to go into the Drow? Why is the term "race" used in any case? Why not "species"?

The "Four Elements"

Where did the New-Agey obsession with the "Four Elements" of Fire, Air, Earth and Water come from? Why do they show up all over the place? Why are they supposedly the fundamental forces behind everything? It's been said before, but I think it bears repeating.
Wow, it seems like my pet peeves are the opposite of everybody else's. well, here goes anyway.

1. High magic settings

I hate setting where there is a magic store on every corner, an epic level character in every town, and every rich guys can go down to the local temple to get his buddies brought back to life. I love magic in a campaign, but when its common its just not magic anymore. I prefer games where medieval lifestyles and technology are still valid.

2. Politically correct fantasy

I don't like setting that are free of sexism, racism, poverty, oppression, and religious persecution. I cannot suspend disbelief when I see pre-industrial societies that are more progressive and tolerant than modern nations are.

3. Fearless peons

I can understand that zombies will fight to the death, or religious fanatics, or any number of creatures or elite soldiers. But far too often I see a group of petty bandits fighting the party to the death even when its obvious that they are outmatched. Real people, particularly those who aren't trained soldiers and are mentally stable, tend to try to avoid certain death.

4. Bland religion

The real world has tremendous religious diversity - and each religion has its dogma, taboos, legends, rules, ranks (or formalized religion), rituals, history, morals, etc. Why then are clerics expected to simply be field medics with not concern for practicing his religion and why must all the deities be so mind numbingly generic?

5. Stereotypical generic demihumans

Of course, in playing D&D one must come to tolerate stereotypical demihumans to some degree, but as the years have past I have become increasingly intolerant of every elf civilization being the same as every other and every dwarf having the same personality.

6. Fan boism

When the DM creates a nation, culture, or NPC he should not like that creation too much. He shouldn't make them the coolest thing he can imagine and represent all the things he thinks are awesome. No matter what details the DM puts into his creation, if absolute adoration of what the creation represents is the primary motivator then its going to suck for the players who encounter it. This also goes for NPC's that represent an idealized version of the DM.
Thinly Disguised Racism

Speaking of poorly designed "races" - Elves who are all angelic, good caucasians. Orcs and Goblinoids as some twisted amalgam of all the "primitive native" stereotypes colonists propagated. Drow... do I even have to go into the Drow? Why is the term "race" used in any case? Why not "species"?

I've been saying the same thing for years!!! And people think I'm racist for thinking that fantasy stereotypes are racist. Honestly, fantasy races is what ruins DnD the most for me and it took me awhile to get over it and just ignore the stereotypes. I almost completely removed fantasy races from my campaign in favor of an all human campaign, but in the best I can do is to not treat fantasy races as stereotypes, and give them as much culture as humans get. So far I have a four hundred pound 6 foot dwarf lord, tall and lanky pale green goblinoids who lurk in the night, dragonborn clans who are divisive and prone to infighting, dwarven miners who are not tough and gruff fighters and freeze up if attacked by undead ghouls...

Sticking with the term race because it is a 'sacred cow' was something I wish the designers would have took a harder look at. 'species' or even 'origin' would have done better. Race makes no sense in classifying an elf from an orc and is a very outdated and (I'm gonna say it!) archaic term that should die a horrible death.

So yea, that's my main pet peeve in campaign settings...

end rambling...
30 minute brainstorm i throw at the players

let's say... a magic-as-technology-ish setting where the weak "fleshies" are being killed by their magic-robot masters (warforged) and turned into techno-zombies. i like bleak and dystopian settings with robot masters and zombie outbreaks.

now that i have an idea i expound a bit:

warforged were originally created by... dwarves... to help them in the mines.

warforged need not eat/sleep/breathe so they could much easier send them into places for days on end that could cause problems for the dwarves. warforged hated being treated as objects as well as they were built to be superior to the dwarves and started a genocidal cleansing of the weaker, fleshy races.

the world's view on magic is pretty much the same as ours with machinery & technology: a tool to make our lives easier. the standard of living is (used to be) pretty high : clerical churches/clinics give easy access to healing. trade & travel via portals is common and gives access to exotic products & places. ect...

the players however never experienced this... they grew up in a world where those with healing are rationed within compounds for warforged use only. portals are heavily guarded. warforged & the zombies they can create are "birthed" (a term used to mock the fleshies) in special hidden factories called "wombs" (same as before). most fleshies live in small isolated camps or in well hidden villages away from the eyes of their cold masters.

the warforged have a pretty good grip on things, they control about 60-70% of the "world". fleshies are in trouble but have a lot still going for them:
-larger numbers
-their own networks & resources
-they still have their own weapons
-ect..

fleshies are in a really bad position but the warforged expanded too fast too soon so their numbers are still low & their resources straining a bit, even though they control a large amount of territory.

Yeah, no offense but this would take me longer than 30 minutes to come up with. A lot longer.
30 minute brainstorm i throw at the players

these are notes taken via bouncing ideas off each other.

the original idea was
let's say... a magic-as-technology-ish setting where the weak "fleshies" are being killed by their magic-robot masters (warforged) and turned into techno-zombies. i like bleak and dystopian settings with robot masters and zombie outbreaks.

afterwords we just worked on the topic for a bit and decided if that's what we wanted. we settled on a more traditional fantasy setting, but that just gives me time to work on the evil robot masters idea and repitch it later.
3rd ed SRD, character sheets, errata & free modules 4th ed test drive - modules, starter rules, premade characters and character builder & character sheet, errata Free maps and portraits, dice, printable graph paper, campaign managing website, image manipulation program + token maker & zone markers

"All right, I've been thinking. When life gives you lemons, don't make lemonade. Make life take the lemons back. GET MAD! I DON'T WANT YOUR **** LEMONS! WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO WITH THESE?! DEMAND TO SEE LIFE'S MANAGER! Make life RUE the day it thought it could give CAVE JOHNSON LEMONS! DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM?! I'M THE MAN WHO'S GONNA BURN YOUR HOUSE DOWN! WITH THE LEMONS! I'm gonna get my engineers to invent a combustible lemon that's gonna BURN YOUR HOUSE DOWN!" -Cave Johnson, Portal 2