D&D General Do you Prefer a Bespoke Setting or Established Setting for a Campaign


These days bespoke - every campaign that we have generally starts up a new campaign world to go with it.

Sometimes we'll do a sequel campaign and we'll revisit a setting where we had a previous campaign, but that's rare compared with developing a new setting with a new campaign.

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Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
I am really on both ends of the spectrum but with little middle ground on this.

When I run, I do a new campaign setting each time. I have more ideas for campaign settings then I will ever have time to run (my average campaign is 4+ years), and I try to plan around a campaign around the things that make that setting unique, that wouldn't work or wouldn't be as effective in other settings.

That said, my formative years of playing were with a DM who ran well over a dozen campaigns in the same world, many of them concurrently with different groups (and sometimes overlap of players). It made the world so rich and dynamic - there were things going on outside the scope of what the party were doing, often world-changing. We would do occasional crossovers and be like "Oh, we're heard so much about Arlitha!", or becoming patrons. Heck, we had one powerful adventuring company that effectively brought in new parties under their charter to go do things we needed more manpower for. And since this was AD&D 2nd, we would often have a load of spare magic to give them. "Here, take this +1 trident, this ring of water breathing, and this chainmail +1, we don't need them".


Then I guess homebrew settings would be both?
Homebrew settings could be either - if you have the same homebrew setting you use for most of your campaigns then it's not bespoke, it's established. If you come up with a new setting for each campaign you run then they'd be bespoke.

If you only use a single homebrew campaign world and you consider everything you've done in it to be a single years-long campaign even as characters and players have shifted out of it, then I suppose it would be up to you what to consider it. I'd consider that "established, but I only run a single ongoing campaign in that world" is in the spirit of what the question was trying to ask.

For me it depends on my mood. Sometimes I want to flex my worldbuilding and run a game in my own setting. Sometimes I want to run a game set someplace familiar, someplace with rich and vibrant lore already existent to inspire me.

Generally speaking, unless it's generic enough to go anywhere, I will run a module where it is supposed to be located. The last thing I need is to be worrying about saying Lathander when I meant Pelor, or how this urban location translates to my homebrew magitech-earthmote city.

It depends. In my practice, I’ve been trending towards proposing campaign ideas to my players, getting their feedback, and developing the idea from there.

The campaign idea is a two-line “elevator pitch”, followed by 5-7 “campaign truths” that set the tone of the campaign.

Since the world spins out from the campaign, very often the result is a bespoke world, or a bespoke version of an existing campaign world.


I create a bespoke setting each time I start a D&D campaign. I don't want the players to know more than their PCs and it's part of what I like about being a DM. The way I create them has changed a lot, from a full pseudo-gazetteer document to a two page bullet point list.


I've recently come to accept that I'm probably destined to keep working on the same campaign setting for the rest of my life. It is an established world that I've used before in previous campaigns, but I regularly pick it up again to overhaul and customize it be better tailored to the kind of campaign I want to run. (And always wanted to run, but never manged to get quite right yet.)

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