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D&D 5E Has the culture of campaigns change, re: homebrew vs. pre-published?

Mercurius

Legend
In the classic settings thread I was wondering about possible demand for a proper Forgotten Realms setting book. My sense has been that such a book was inevitable, that younger generations of players will want to see the whole world in which most of the story arcs are set, and certainly older fans of the setting would love an update. But now I'm not so sure.

What I wonder is, if 90% of the 5E player base are younger players (below 40, my definition of "younger"), how the "culture of campaigning" has changed relative to homebrew vs. pre-published settings and adventures.

In my almost-40 years of playing D&D, I have generally taken an approach of using a homebrew campaign and usually making up my own adventures. The older I've gotten, the more I've relied upon pre-published adventures, at least as starting points, mainly due to time and the fact that I prefer spending my prep time fiddling with world-building than designing adventures. I don't know the numbers, but I would guess that the split between homebrew and pre-published worlds among DMs I've played with is about 50-50, although most seem to rely on pre-published adventures over designing their own (maybe 30-70 or 20-80). Again, these are just wild guesses based upon my own experience.

What I wonder is how this looks among younger players. What is the current culture and most common approach? How many much younger DMs (say, <30, or those new to D&D via 5E) homebrew and/or design their own adventures? Do the vast majority, as I suspect, keep to the pre-published story arcs, with their implied micro-settings? (e.g. Icewind Dale, Chult, etc). I honestly have no clue, but that's my guess - mainly based on WotC's focus on story arcs and pre-published settings, with less emphasis on "build your own" books. Or is it not any different than in past editions and eras, where there's a mix of everything with no clear distribution?

And in a more general sense, how do you see this trend having changed over the years, both in the D&D community at large and within your own experience? Do people homebrew less?
 

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TwoSix

Unserious gamer
Most of the newer players I've known have preferred published settings, but prefer to make up their own adventures. I think that matches the streaming model pretty well that's been the introduction for a lot of them to D&D. All anecdotal, of course. I'm sure enough people are playing modules to make them worthwhile for WotC, I just don't know a lot of groups that use them.
 

I have only played in homebrew world most of which are just really strange.
I suspect people do not care because they have not been made to care that was what the literature books were for or is my branding sense misplaced?
 

Parmandur

Legend
I don't think it's a hard dichotomy, and that shows in WotC product design. The Setting books are largely full of DIY tables, like the DMG, to homebrew in that Setting, and the Adventure books are designed to be picked apart for pieces by homebrewery.
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
I really have no idea - But I get the impression that homebrewing is less common and AP play is a lot more common and dominant approach. But that may just be my old man defensiveness shaking my fist at a cloud.

To me the adventure path was the disparate modules we played and the friends we made along the way. :ROFLMAO:

I have encountered a significant style difference to approach to play in folks I have run games for who only picked up D&D in the last 10ish years or so. The key example I can think of is in a group I ran for, they entered into a supposedly haunted house. They find footprints leading to a secret trapdoor in another room almost immediately. The two old school players want to search the rest of this level before going down. The new school players wanted to immediately jump down the hole "where the action is."

This might have been a coincidence and this difference in playstyle has different or overdetermined sources, but the sense I got was that some players were fine meandering a little bit, getting a sense of place, and making sure they were not gonna be ambushed from behind, while the others wanted to get to the heart of the matter as quickly as possible and wanted everything to be connected to a central plot.
 


Urriak Uruk

Debate fuels my Fire
I run in an established setting (Forgotten Realms), however it has essentially become a weird homebrew version to allow any class/racial options from other settings and Unearthed Arcana. In addition, I set all of my campaigns in the same world. So for example, a campaign of Tomb of Annihilation never finished, so the Death Curse remains active. Meaning, a game of Candlekeep Mysteries I'm running (and well, the entire world) can no longer cast resurrection magic.

Also I run pre-published adventures, but if they go off the rails, I just improv it until it makes sense to return to the track.
 

Adventure path-type modules have sold extremely well since 3E, and attempts at them in 2E in were also pretty successful. So I don't think anything new is happening. I do think APs are probably more popular with under-40s than over, but not by a huge amount.
 

Urriak Uruk

Debate fuels my Fire
I should also add, I am younger (Gen Z!) and I will say most people I know (Z and Millenials) all run in established settings and published adventures. The reason is simple; everyone I know is really busy and doesn't have enough time to plan out something homebrew. Plus, there is a shared community developing on adventures, as people have played in parts of one and recommend them to each other, and want to take turns DMing or playing in them, etc. I've noticed this especially with Curse of Strahd, where everyone I know falls into the category of "has played it" or "wants to play it."

On the bad side, some adventures have gotten a negative reputation, and even folks I know who haven't played these adventures want to avoid them. Chiefly, the worst reputations going to Princes of the Apocalypse, Tyranny of Dragons, and Dungeon of the Mad Mage.
 

I should also add, I am younger (Gen Z!) and I will say most people I know (Z and Millenials) all run in established settings and published adventures. The reason is simple; everyone I know is really busy and doesn't have enough time to plan out something homebrew. Plus, there is a shared community developing on adventures, as people have played in parts of one and recommend them to each other, and want to take turns DMing or playing in them, etc. I've noticed this especially with Curse of Strahd, where everyone I know falls into the category of "has played it" or "wants to play it."

On the bad side, some adventures have gotten a negative reputation, and even folks I know who haven't played these adventures want to avoid them. Chiefly, the worst reputations going to Princes of the Apocalypse, Tyranny of Dragons, and Dungeon of the Mad Mage.
strange you have a very different experience to mine as I am gen Z and only end up in homebrew games, you live in America as I'm in the UK and wondering if that is the difference?
 

Urriak Uruk

Debate fuels my Fire
strange you have a very different experience to mine as I am gen Z and only end up in homebrew games, you live in America as I'm in the UK and wondering if that is the difference?

Not only do I live in America... I live in Seattle, just a 30 minute drive from WotC's office!

I will add, most people I know are really new to D&D and only have experience in 5E. That doesn't mean they're bad at the game (I know a couple of players that actively tried to build kind-of broken characters) but they mostly are happy with 5E and don't want to try other editions or other game systems. It strikes a very happy medium of easy to quickly learn and play, but has more complexity if you want to try different combinations and rules in newer books.
 

Not only do I live in America... I live in Seattle, just a 30 minute drive from WotC's office!

I will add, most people I know are really new to D&D and only have experience in 5E. That doesn't mean they're bad at the game (I know a couple of players that actively tried to build kind-of broken characters) but they mostly are happy with 5E and don't want to try other editions or other game systems. It strikes a very happy medium of easy to quickly learn and play, but has more complexity if you want to try different combinations and rules in newer books.
I'm also gen z but the basic culture is not too different but people only make homebrew worlds and there is no longer even one group in my town.
 

Urriak Uruk

Debate fuels my Fire
I'm also gen z but the basic culture is not too different but people only make homebrew worlds and there is no longer even one group in my town.

This is pretty interesting, I haven't had that experience. I've only had one time where I played in a homebrew world, but that was a one-shot. I've also run several one-shots of my one set in homebrew worlds, but I purposefully built them to support the concept of the one-shot (I had a very 1920s version of City of Greyhawk, where gnolls were essentially the mafia who owned casinos. Casino heist ensues!)
 

This is pretty interesting, I haven't had that experience. I've only had one time where I played in a homebrew world, but that was a one-shot. I've also run several one-shots of my one set in homebrew worlds, but I purposefully built them to support the concept of the one-shot (I had a very 1920s version of City of Greyhawk, where gnolls were essentially the mafia who owned casinos. Casino heist ensues!)
mine were all sort of making it up as you go along stuff for the first two, the third was some guys super dense setting.

I have yet to find a setting that I just gel with or a race for that matter.
 

Urriak Uruk

Debate fuels my Fire
mine were all sort of making it up as you go along stuff for the first two, the third was some guys super dense setting.

I have yet to find a setting that I just gel with or a race for that matter.

Actually, I almost joined a campaign where this guy had his own very dense D&D world, that was meant to be a "escape this dreamscape afterlife" kind of thing. But his dream was to write novels set in that world, so it was super crazy detailed.
 

Mercurius

Legend
Wait, there are people not only under 40 (which is jarring enough), but under 30 on this forum? No way! :p

Joking aside, I'm curious, @Urriak Uruk and @Mind of tempest : did you both start playing with 5E? (And by Gen Z, I assume you mean born in the 21st century? I've heard variable cut-offs, from 1996 to 2005, but I generally just prefer the clean two-decades per gen approach).
 

Wait, there are people not only under 40 (which is jarring enough), but under 30 on this forum? No way! :p

Joking aside, I'm curious, @Urriak Uruk and @Mind of tempest : did you both start playing with 5E? (And by Gen Z, I assume you mean born in the 21st century? I've heard variable cut-offs, from 1996 to 2005, but I generally just prefer the clean two-decades per gen approach).
about 18ish as I am 22 now
 

Urriak Uruk

Debate fuels my Fire
Wait, there are people not only under 40 (which is jarring enough), but under 30 on this forum? No way! :p

Joking aside, I'm curious, @Urriak Uruk and @Mind of tempest : did you both start playing with 5E? (And by Gen Z, I assume you mean born in the 21st century? I've heard variable cut-offs, from 1996 to 2005, but I generally just prefer the clean two-decades per gen approach).

I'm 25. I suppose it's debatable whether I'm Millennial or Gen Z (people argue whether it starts in 1996 or 2000) but I feel like I have more in common with Z than M.

I started with 5E. I can't remember why I picked it up, I think it was a YouTuber I watch movie reviews on who recommended it.
 

Anecdotally, most newer D&D folks I know prefer to have some basic framework to get started (such as a starter adventure or a basic town with a few established facts about the game world) to get the ball rolling but then start to deviate into their own stuff once they become more comfortable with the system.
 

Yeah, by and large people start out with book based campaigns and adventures, then move on to creating more specialized settings that are more tailored to the stories they want to tell.

But even us old hats at the game sometimes love to pull out a pre-written adventure to save ourselves time and get right into the fun with our friends.
 

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