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D&D General How thorough do you like your settings?


Let's engage in a hypothetical...

A new product has been announced. It is a guide to a Kingdom setting. It has a beautiful region map, with dozens of points of interest, and the selling point is they are ALL detailed. Every town has a map and is brimming with premade locals. The various mountains, forests and other biomes come with proper random encounter tables and special encounters. Local monsters, tribes and other people are described. There are several fully stocked dungeons ready to use. There is detailed lore on the local history, nobility and religions. Each area comes with potential adventure hooks. Almost no area of this region is undescribed. You could run an entire campaign with what's in it and never have to create a single thing. The book is huge and reasonably priced, from a company you trust

Would you buy it? Why or why not?


The reason I ask is to gauge how much value "blank space" is worth. Areas where the DM can go in and paint their own stamp without contradicting established lore. At what point, if any, does detail get in the way of creation. I get there is no one size fits all answer, but I'm looking for at what point does being through become a liability? Or does it not and there is an untapped market for a product that does all the world-building for the DM. After all, APs and setting guides do sell...

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Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
1. You might want to edit the title (through -> thorough ).

2. As a general rule, I view this as the Greyhawk/FR divide. Back in the day .... (blah blah blah stupid history) and that's why we have the Greyhawk Boxed Set ("WOG") and the FR Boxed Set ("Gray") as my two platonic campaign settings- because they hinted at a world for you (the DM, the table) to fill in, with so many hooks.

But because of (blah blah blah stupid history) and we ended up with FR being chock full o' lore and NPCs and a fully realized world with timelines and resets and recons, while GH remained reasonably untouched ... to the extent that there isn't even a canonical answer to what lies beyond the Flanaess.

Personally, I prefer the WOG approach. I like worlds with hints of adventure, with dangling hooks, with half-sketched ideas waiting for a table to fill it in. I want my coloring book to remain uncolored. But that's just me. I know there are people that totally get into the lore. That's cool too.


If I were to buy a campaign setting book (I won't, I have my own campaign world) I would rather have a lot of blank spaces to fill in. The problem with things like FR is that I would never feel like I could make it my own or give it my particular spin. In public games that use FR there's always "that guy" that has encyclopedic knowledge of the setting and can tell you everything you ever wanted to know about the Zhentarim and then some. Often quite a bit more.

It's difficult for the DM to put any kind of spin on things when you have people like that. You can have quite a bit of detail, maps, high level info about cities and regions that will give a DM a good starting point. Just make it an outline, not a filled in picture for me, thanks.


Loves Your Favorite Game
It sounds lovely. I'm going to be running someone else's setting, the entire point of it is that I'm interested in the ideas they are presenting, and therefore, I want those as detailed as possible. If I need space for my own idea that's not catered to by what is already there, it's easy to repurpose something of theirs, but if there's blank space, it's much harder to get my own imagination to match the specific direction, vibe, and quality of the rest of the work so that it doesn't feel discontiguous.

The other major value to having a premade setting is that the most time consuming and tedious work has already been done, and so likewise, fully detailed towns, monsters rosters, and dungeons are of tremendous utility.


It really depends on whether the setting has an interesting premise and attractive style. Which is of course entirely subjective.

But generally speaking that sounds dreadful, as I will always have to do tons of reading to check if any adventure I set up is accurate to the established information since the players would assume that everything they read in the setting book also applies to the campaign.
Which also means there's not much left to surprise players with NPCs who are secretly pulling strings.


My tastes vary.

I like short big picture overview player guide type setting supplements a lot, but I also like a lot of lore and development from fleshed out setting supplements. I have read a number of 200+ page setting books cover to cover (Golarion, Rokugan, Dragonlance 3e, Pirate's Guide to Freeport, etc.) and enjoyed them. I use a lot of big setting books as references.

I don't really care for city supplements that completely do out every shop and building as if it were one giant megadungeon though. It is not the way I run my city adventures. I prefer my settings to be background and flavor and my adventures in contrast to be decently tuned specific stat blocks to provide challenges to the party's current level. I expect to run different adventures in the same setting. Too much small detail for something like a city can be too much to keep in my head as I run the PCs through running around the city.

I would say that it's not so much blank space I want, but fuzzy space. Give me a place on the map with an evocative name like the Trollspit Hills, or a few good lines about how "legend tells of an ancient dwarven kingdom that uses the power of the stars in their crafting. They are ruled by a dwarf that implanted their consciousness into a mechanical body a thousand years ago."

If I'm going to use a published setting, I don't need blank space on a map to fill out, I want details that will inspire me and help me come up with my own adventures. It should expand my creativity, not limit it.


He'll flip ya...Flip ya for real...
I already bought it. The Inner Sea Guide for Golarion by Paizo. Though, I can always make my own blank space, I dont need it left out for me. I actually prefer my setting guides to be detailed as hell and cover lots o' ground.

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