Fundamental Problem Of Old Settings

Zardnaar

Legend
Or even franchises. We saw this with virtually every D&D setting and other franchises such as Star Trek/Wars.

That is crash TV erm crash RPG. Crash RPG is when someone invents something that people like for whatever reason. A future author takes over and what do they do? Some combination of.

1. Kill off existing characters

2. Blow something up. A big war, world shaking event or literally blowing the world up.

3. Something involving time jumps/travel.

4. New characters heavily handed replace the old.

TSR was notorious for this. Last seen during 4E and the Realms. Apart from being a bad idea to begin with it often leads to an arms race between authors as they try to top each other.

And of course if you object you get called toxic. I suppose blowing something up is an easy story to write.

My default position for setting if they ever get redone us to go back to the original release/key release tied to the setting.

This means War if the Lance for Dragonlance,the grey box for FR, 1991 boxed set for Darksun.

This is because it's simple and doesn't invalidate anything. If you want to blow the world up that's not a problem.

But but but what about the new generation? They already have their new stuff. I'm not a big fan of Ravenloft but I don't expect them to change Ravenloft to appeal to me.

There's not much in old settings that won't on the surface appeal to new players. Dragonlance for example is classic good vs evil. Not everything will appeal to everyone or maybe execution is slightly off but that's fine.

But but but what if it doesn't sell? Basically anything with the words D&D on it atm is going to sell well. Some of those settings have been buried since the 90s who knows how a well done update will do. In talking about the bigger settings,not say Birthright.

But but but it splits the D&D playerbase. In the 90s that was true as each setting got flow on support adventures, novels, splat material. These days it's more or less one and done there's no flow in Ravnica support.

Even a map folio release with old maps reprinted would have been useful as PDFs don't work well in that regard.
 
Last edited:

jgsugden

Adventurer
When I run FR, it is the Grey Box FR.
When I run Dragonlance, it is the time of the War of the Lance.
When I run Athas nobody lives long enough to realize when it is.

Eberron has done this right. The picked a time in the setting and set people up to run the game at that key point in the game world history where everything is ripe for adventure. I wish they'd do that witht the rest of the settings.
 

ninjayeti

Explorer
Yeah this is why I am perfectly happy not to get a 5E version of Greyhawk. They would be tempted to update the timeline, and the odds of that being done well is significantly lower than the odds if it involving something like Elminster and Drizzt showing up with a fleet of Spelljammer ships to save Greyhawk from an invasion of Kender.
 

pukunui

Adventurer
Eberron has done this right. The picked a time in the setting and set people up to run the game at that key point in the game world history where everything is ripe for adventure. I wish they'd do that witht the rest of the settings.
They’ve kind of started doing that with FR now. Some of the adventures have a date, others don’t really, but they’re all sort of late 1480s to early 1490s, and there’s not a lot of chronology (SKT is assumed to take place after ToD but it doesn’t have to, and PotA is concurrent with SKT).
 

LuisCarlos17f

Adventurer
I call/name "Skywalker effect" when in a fantasy/sci-fi nothing happens for a lot of time until the main characters appear, and then the most of main Historical events are linked with theses, for example the tyrant's death or an invasion.

I don't reespect the canon lore and I like to change things and create mash-up

Other problem is adding new things, for example monsters, PC races and classes are harder with old settings. What if I wanted to add primal seekers, warden, vestige pact binders or incarnum totemist shaman (or wilder PC race) in Dark Sun?
 
And of course if you object you get called toxic.
IMO, it's not whether you object, but how you object that determines whether you get called toxic.

For example, if someone had told me, "I don't like 4E. I think it puts too much emphasis on combat, I think the player characters recover too quickly from hit point damage, and the non-magical healing abilities of the warlord class make it difficult for me to narrate hit point damage as physical wounds, which I am used to doing," I wouldn't consider that to be toxic.
 
The thing is, it feels wrong to a writer to take stuff someone else has already created and republish it with a new edition stamped on the cover. It's called plagiarism.

But I think WotC also realise that they aren't going to sell many copies of a nostalgia-setting by blowing up the setting. GoS goes for maximum nostalgia by resetting the clock back to the original Gygax version of Greyhawk, and ignoring all of the "lets blow the setting up" that happened later.

Really, the sensible way to do a campaign setting is to have a fixed "Year Zero" for official products, anything that happens later is up to the DM and players.

Any novels and tie-in media should be set in the setting's past, so that they help explain how things got to "Year Zero".
 
My default position for setting if they ever get redone us to go back to the original release/key release tied to the setting.

This means War if the Lance for Dragonlance,the grey box for FR, 1991 boxed set for Darksun.
Even though I essentially started my relationship with Forgotten Realms with the 3.0 FRCS (which is then my own "year zero" with the setting), I wholeheartedly agree with you.

I think basically all the famous settings became a success at their first iteration? So from a gaming point of view there is no need to advance or update the settings, if it worked great at that time then the best way to play it, is to play the original version of it. Of course from a business point of view, they want to release new books, but they could be "horizontal" expansions instead of historical advance (i.e. new places instead of new events), and of course they could be rules edition updates. I don't want to be forced to move along with the ludicrous FR metaplot just to get FR updated to 5e rules...

And by the way "updating to 5e" does not mean that every setting must allocate every single race or class or whatever is in the 5e PHB: a campaign setting gets its strength and personality from what exists in its fantasy world, including player character's stuff. If you force a new iteration of the setting to allow unprecedented stuff only because it's in the new edition PHB, you dilute and bastardize the uniqueness of that setting. It's the new edition which should support settings, and not settings being changed to support the new edition :/

Any novels and tie-in media should be set in the setting's past, so that they help explain how things got to "Year Zero".
That would be a great idea actually.
 
If comic books are any indication, there are two ways to relaunch an ongoing story, so that it feels new, that it feels important and that it may attract new fans: one is "Everything changes!", the other one is "Back to basics." When you relaunch a setting, you don't want to give the impression that it's just the same book as the old one, and you don't want to betray what has made the setting successful in the past, so finding the right approach is not easy.
 

Henry

Autoexreginated
Eberron has done this right. The picked a time in the setting and set people up to run the game at that key point in the game world history where everything is ripe for adventure. I wish they'd do that witht the rest of the settings.
Keith Baker said something concerning this in a podcast recently. (I can’t remember if it was Morrus’ ENWorld podcast or a Manifest Zone.) Keith said that the tricky thing about moving the timeline in Eberron would be the nature of things following the Last War - if you, say, reveal the secret of the Mournland, or make a major power shakeup between different countries, you will fundamentally alter the tenuous state of things at the Thronehold Treaty, and it’s really the only thing the logically speaking prevents the Last War from resuming. Eberron’s status is the embodiment of the state of our Earth from 1919 to about 1931; once the Eastern conflicts begin, the Roller Coaster Ride of Suck continues all the way through to the end of World War 2, and the tenuous nature of the “Pulp Era” is over. Similarly, Eberron’s setting is configured for MAXIMUM ADVENTURE; changing anything major officially would move that needle.

One other view that wouldn’t change much would be a “retro” product that explored the major phases of the Last War itself, and the character of those phases, but WotC already did that product back in 3.5 days (The Forge of War). A revisit of that product might be a cool take on “moving the timeline” so to speak.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
Even though I essentially started my relationship with Forgotten Realms with the 3.0 FRCS (which is then my own "year zero" with the setting), I wholeheartedly agree with you.

I think basically all the famous settings became a success at their first iteration? So from a gaming point of view there is no need to advance or update the settings, if it worked great at that time then the best way to play it, is to play the original version of it. Of course from a business point of view, they want to release new books, but they could be "horizontal" expansions instead of historical advance (i.e. new places instead of new events), and of course they could be rules edition updates. I don't want to be forced to move along with the ludicrous FR metaplot just to get FR updated to 5e rules...

And by the way "updating to 5e" does not mean that every setting must allocate every single race or class or whatever is in the 5e PHB: a campaign setting gets its strength and personality from what exists in its fantasy world, including player character's stuff. If you force a new iteration of the setting to allow unprecedented stuff only because it's in the new edition PHB, you dilute and bastardize the uniqueness of that setting. It's the new edition which should support settings, and not settings being changed to support the new edition :/



That would be a great idea actually.
3.0 was decent and restrained for edition changes. No Time of Troubles or Spellplague.
 

pukunui

Adventurer
3.0 was decent and restrained for edition changes. No Time of Troubles or Spellplague.
And it shifted FR away from being a Middle-Earth clone by reversing the “decline” of the elder races: elves started coming back to Faerûn from Evermeet (the FR equivalent of Valinor), culminating in the refounding of Myth Drannor; and the dwarves experienced a baby boom because of the Thunder Blessing.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
And it shifted FR away from being a Middle-Earth clone by reversing the “decline” of the elder races: elves started coming back to Faerûn from Evermeet (the FR equivalent of Valinor), culminating in the refounding of Myth Drannir; and the dwarves experienced a baby boom because of the Thunder Blessing.
Yeah evolution vs revolution. Thinking of converting the 3.0 feats in the FRCS to 5E and running that timeline.
 

Sadras

Adventurer
3.0 was decent and restrained for edition changes. No Time of Troubles or Spellplague.
Ah, but here is the rub. I have used the Spellplague* in my campaign to provide justification for the crossovers that happened - a modified version of 1 part of the Rod of 7 Parts landed in Mystara. Advancing the timeline can also spark ideas thereby providing opportunities. I'm a bit of a lore stickler and I try find ways to incorporate, as much as I can, the setting lore that exists.

Furthermore you are also free to set your campaign anywhere on the timeline you find most interesting.
In another Mystara campaign I have, I set the campaign date a decade before AC 1000 (the official start date) and that whole business with the Master of the Desert Nomads, Hule's war against the Known World, the destruction of Alfheim...etc

I get where you're coming from, but do not forget the opporunities created by changes.

*Per the Wiki - The Spellplague was born from the defiling powers from the Far Realm, a plane that existed outside of Realmspace, not even Lord Ao had the power to stop it once it started. Its effects continued to spread across the multiverse.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
Ah, but here is the rub. I have used the Spellplague* in my campaign to provide justification for the crossovers that happened - a modified version of 1 part of the Rod of 7 Parts landed in Mystara. Advancing the timeline can also spark ideas thereby providing opportunities. I'm a bit of a lore stickler and I try find ways to incorporate, as much as I can, the setting lore that exists.

Furthermore you are also free to set your campaign anywhere on the timeline you find most interesting.
In another Mystara campaign I have, I set the campaign date a decade before AC 1000 (the official start date) and that whole business with the Master of the Desert Nomads, Hule's war against the Known World, the destruction of Alfheim...etc

I get where you're coming from, but do not forget the opporunities created by changes.

*Per the Wiki - The Spellplague was born from the defiling powers from the Far Realm, a plane that existed outside of Realmspace, not even Lord Ao had the power to stop it once it started. Its effects continued to spread across the multiverse.
Due to the spell plague I just don't use FR that much anymore only for the APs and I rarely run those. Moved onto Golarion then Midgard. They basically killed everything so I stopped caring.
 
Really, the sensible way to do a campaign setting is to have a fixed "Year Zero" for official products, anything that happens later is up to the DM and players.
Interestingly, this was Gygax's original plan for Greyhawk. CY 576 was to be the common starting point for all campaigns, letting the DM determine the future events. Later products were going to be focused on other areas of the world (such as Kara-Tur beyond the Sea of Dust). Sadly those never materialized, as he focused on other media (cartoon, potential movie, etc.) instead of making RPG products.

Some settings benefit from having an ongoing storyline, so long as it's overseen by a single figure (similar to the Marvel Cinematic Universe). The Realms had its hayday during 2E, with tons of products and books, many of which moved the story forward a bit. However as I understand it, Ed Greenwood had a lot of input on each of these, keeping them fairly cohesive. When things are just pushed out willy-nilly, you get a hot mess of nonsense.
 

Sadras

Adventurer
Due to the spell plague I just don't use FR that much anymore only for the APs and I rarely run those. Moved onto Golarion then Midgard. They basically killed everything so I stopped caring.
Well, it is likely easier for me, because only with 5e did I start using FR despite having read some of the novels and played the PC games (Baldur's Gate, Icewind Dale and Neverwinter and their expansions). I'd love to explore other settings but I just do not play often enough.

Our PCs are 11th level so I'm hoping in the future to do plane-hopping which will allow us to dip our toes in other settings without giving me the work to read up on everything about each one.
 

Coroc

Adventurer
Even though I essentially started my relationship with Forgotten Realms with the 3.0 FRCS (which is then my own "year zero" with the setting), I wholeheartedly agree with you.

I think basically all the famous settings became a success at their first iteration? So from a gaming point of view there is no need to advance or update the settings, if it worked great at that time then the best way to play it, is to play the original version of it. Of course from a business point of view, they want to release new books, but they could be "horizontal" expansions instead of historical advance (i.e. new places instead of new events), and of course they could be rules edition updates. I don't want to be forced to move along with the ludicrous FR metaplot just to get FR updated to 5e rules...

And by the way "updating to 5e" does not mean that every setting must allocate every single race or class or whatever is in the 5e PHB: a campaign setting gets its strength and personality from what exists in its fantasy world, including player character's stuff. If you force a new iteration of the setting to allow unprecedented stuff only because it's in the new edition PHB, you dilute and bastardize the uniqueness of that setting. It's the new edition which should support settings, and not settings being changed to support the new edition :/



That would be a great idea actually.
3.0 is a good baseline for FR, grey box which I heavily prefer for nostalgic reasons also.
The timeline here is even helpful, you do not collide so much if you take one or the other if they are 100 years apart. So everything has two sides at least like always.
But compared to other settings FR is so much more forgiving, they say eberron is the maximum kitchen setting, but that is not true FR definitely is more kitchen sink, because in eberron everything comes with a twist (and somehow has to) whereas in FR it may come with or without twists

Original or blue box is a good baseline for greyhawk and in contraire to others I do not dislike the wars box, it offers the closest to some official (but easily to modify) canon. Wars just isn't a good baseline.

Ravenloft has several possible starting points, black or red box and the ravenloft timeline is very very precise, plus it is not putting up dependencies. Additions of domains (or vanishing of them) does not hurt much, because in ravenloft nothing (and everything) is connected, due to domain borders.

The original feel of Ravenloft and Darksun needs something which go beyond most fluff (canon), namely crunch (mechanics) which are true to the original mechanics purposes, e.g. power checks for Ravenloft,
weapon and armor of inferior material for darksun, whilest reflecting this inferior material ! mechanically because you can tell me all night long that the dagger is made from bone, it is when it breaks that it has impact. Also especially DS needs some hefty restriction in terms of damage resistances, feats, easy transportation, easy nourishment, and tricks like having a weapon at will. Also some classes are totally different (Bard), or won't fit at all (Paladin).

And no, the big critics always seem to come from people who think integrating dragonborn gnome paladin monk sorcerers into DS is more worth than to be classic, in other words

And by the way "updating to 5e" does not mean that every setting must allocate every single race or class or whatever is in the 5e PHB

like you wrote but without the not seems to be a big credo especially for modern players. For us old school grognards this is like a child which cannot decide whether to put sugar, salt, ketchup or mustard onto their meal and thinks better to take all so it cannot go wrong. Of course the meal gets bland by it.
 

Advertisement

Top