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

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.
Yup. I think the difference is just in the experience of the DMs, not in any generational difference.

The generational difference is likely going to be how many people experience the game as something you do with your friends vs something you do on a virtual tabletop, potentially with relative strangers.
 

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Argyle King

Legend
For me personally, I find that pre-built "bullet points" are more helpful to me than an entire A-Z pre-written story arc. By "bullet points" I mean that I may have a few chunks that are pre-built, such as a starter adventure or town, a handful of prebuilt encounters, and a villain -which I then use as dots on the map of where I expect things to go, but the road in-between each dot isn't predetermined.

That being said, there are adventures which I highly enjoy both playing and running. I would love to see a 5E update of Red Hand of Doom. I know that overlaps with what the Tyranny of Dragons adventure path already did, but it was one of the better 3E adventure paths. I think 5E's gnolls are cool, so perhaps the same generally story could be used, but subbing in gnolls, gnoll-related creatures, and a charismatic gnoll leader.

I also like Ghost Tower of Inverness. I believe there's a 5E version available.
 

I actually think WotC is leaning more towards the "make it your" own approach. I would love to see an FR settings books, but source books these days feel sparse on detail--or they change lore on a dime. I think WotC has taken the "make it your own" approach farther than they have done previously.

What drew me to D&D was the lore. I love worldbuilding and creating, but I also love established settings. And, I'm in the younger generation, but I miss the lore of older editions.
 

AmerginLiath

Adventurer
I’m just happy to sneak under Mercurius’s wire here at 41. I’d feel odd being a “new player” cutting my teeth in the “1.5E” AD&D UA era… ;)
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
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?

I think I like the phrase, "implied micro setting". I've been seeing a lot of this lately.

I'm playing in three different D&D games right now. The games skew older - none are run by people who began with 5e. All are run by people with spouses and families. I think this matters * a lot*.

One is running Rime of the Frostmaiden. I expect us to stay within that micro-setting, and not really reference the wider world - we are working to deal with this one problem, the rest of the world is known to exist, but we are unlikely to reference it.

Another has basically set up an excuse for site-based adventuring, dungeon-crawley stuff.. We are a bunch collected by a local sheriff, who offers up some missions we can choose from, and we go and deal with the problem. The current thing for us is a randomly generated dungeon that has reason to be filled with typical dungeon nonsense. I don't expect the world, on the whole, to matter much.

The third started us on Dragon of Ice Fire Peak from the Starter set, and has extended that with some bits he's found (I think on DM's Guild) to extend the run a little bit. We started in Phandalin, and I don't believe we've ventured much more than 50 miles from there yet. Neverwinter, to us, is a distant political entity that wants stability in the region, but otherwise we ignore.

I think the "micro-setting" is dominant here, for reasons to time. These folks have jobs, spouses, and families. Full on worldbuilding takes work, and time commitment. Micro-settings are limiting, but manageable.
 

toucanbuzz

No rule is inviolate
I'm in the "old school" mentality, and my gamers (both in my current group and one I played with before moving states, which include people who'd never played D&D) don't give a shite about setting or prefab vs. homebrew. They just want to have fun.

The primary reason I use prefab adventures, in any way, shape or form, is because they save me valuable time by presenting monster stats, traps, maps, encounters, treasure hoards, and so on, in advance. While I will tweak them a bit, it is ultimately about my time, which also includes my family, kids, job, and all the stuff that comes up in between. So, it has nothing to do with 5E. It's all about my spare time.
 

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.
Speaking as an older player who DMs for younger players, there is little interest in the Forgotten Realms, even though they have been playing games set there for years. If an opinion is expressed at all, it is that it is a bit dull. There is lots of interest in anything Critical Role, and marmite interest in settings like Eberron and Ravenloft. And maybe a little curiosity about Greyhawk.
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.
I don't think it's change in culture. When I started out I created my own homebrew setting, but now I feel I've done that and it's easier to use someone else's labour than try and reinvent the wheel. Although I should add that I am unable to resist tinkering with anything I use.
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?
My younger players are too busy with careers to allocate time for DMing, but when they did try they started out making homebrew, just like I did.
 
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Gen Y/Millennial here (on the older side, not far from X). I have an expansive homebrew which has been an ongoing construction since around 1989.... but as a busy person I use a lot of published adventures which I tear apart to integrate into my world.

However... these published adventures are not all 5th edition. I use a lot of 2nd edition Dungeon magazine adventures, some 3rd edition, and some even older. (I'm using B4: Lost City right now).
 

Inchoroi

Adventurer
I dunno about the culture, but I always recommend a DM run a pre-published campaign for at least the first 1-3 campaigns before trying to tackle a homebrew one, speaking from experience.
 

Adventure paths? This is a change in technology. They have existed since 1st edition e.g. Against the Giants -> Decent into the Depths -> Vault of the Drow -> Queen of the Demonweb Pits. However, in ye olden days they where published as slim magazine-sized modules; these days it's more economic to publish them in a single hardbacked volume. Olden days had the issue that the DM might not own part of the series, whereas now the DM buys it all at once, so it's more likely a group will play the whole thing through.
 

I don't think there's any real difference, leastwise not a difference that wasn't already present.

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.
Pretty sure you have the right of it. Newer DMs are often less confident, so a canned adventure or a premade setting to riff off of are ways to take off some of the pressure. Likewise, everyone has reason to buy reasonable-quality adventure paths just to reduce the overhead, feed nostalgia or see what the "old ways" were like, or other things.

With large numbers of new DMs coming in, the knock-on effects of "many new, inexperienced people" are going to be more obvious. I'm sure that, over the next decade, interest in homebrew content will grow. Things like Critical Role, Paizo APs, and Acquisitions Inc. will ensure that some interest in premade content remains, but I think anyone who sits behind the DM screen eventually gets the itch to make things their way.
 

Reynard

Legend
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.
This is the way it has always been, at least from Keep on the Borderlands onward. The only thing I think has changed significantly has been the avenue into RPGs. It was originally direct personal connects, then adjacent Fandom, but since RPGs became a spectator hobby the numbers have just exploded.
 

dave2008

Legend
Speaking as an older player who DMs for younger players, there is little interest in the Forgotten Realms, even though they have been playing games set there for years. If an opinion is expressed at all, it is that it is a bit dull. There is lots of interest in anything Critical Role, and marmite interest in settings like Eberron and Ravenloft. And maybe a little curiosity about Greyhawk.
My experience had been similar, with the exception that they didn't care about any other setting either. They just took what I gave them and were not really interested in the wider world or its lore or other settings.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
My experience had been similar, with the exception that they didn't care about any other setting either. They just took what I gave them and were not really interested in the wider world or its lore or other settings.
That's not necessarily a change, as EotC has said for years that homebrew is the most popular choice.
 

Dr Magister

Explorer
I'm a Millennial, albeit at the older end of the scale (38), and I primarily run using homebrew settings. I have run published stuff (Lost Mines of Phandelver, for example), but it's rare. I own Curse of Strahd, and Tyranny of Dragons and Rise of Tiamat, but I've no idea when I'll get round to running them.
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
I have long assumed (perhaps erringly) that even when people run APs they plop them in a homebrew or any version of a published setting they like rather than being beholden to where the book says it is. I am running Ghosts of Saltmarsh (kinda) but am not running in Greyhawk, just my own micro-homebrew that I will only develop as needed - but stealing place and people names from the AP without hesitation. (Heck, I have had a "Saltmarsh" in every homebrew I have ever made)
 

My experience had been similar, with the exception that they didn't care about any other setting either. They just took what I gave them and were not really interested in the wider world or its lore or other settings.
Being interested in the lore of a setting is something I have only ever seen on the internet, never in actual players of the game. Interest in Eberron equates to "cool, flying ships!" and Ravenloft "I love ghost stories".
 

Being interested in the lore of a setting is something I have only ever seen on the internet, never in actual players of the game. Interest in Eberron equates to "cool, flying ships!" and Ravenloft "I love ghost stories".
people who love a settings lore tend to be rare and are always a fraction of the fandom but they are there.
 


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