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D&D 5E Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Official Campaign Settings

How is this any harder to pitch to players than "Come play in my homebrew setting?" IME, homebrew isn't any harder to pitch/sell than something canonical.
well with homebrew you have only you to sell it with a premade setting they might already like it a thus be more willing to select you over other possible dms.
 

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prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
well with homebrew you have only you to sell it with a premade setting they might already like it a thus be more willing to select you over other possible dms.
Well, yes, but @TwoSix implied (I thought) that pitching a campaign in an out-of-print setting would be a harder sell than pitching one in a homebrew setting.

Also, some published settings have strong enough ... flavors, for lack of a better anology, that there will doubtless be some people turned off by them.
 

MarkB

Legend
Also, some published settings have strong enough ... flavors, for lack of a better anology, that there will doubtless be some people turned off by them.
Yeah, but so do most homebrew settings. The difference is that, with a published setting, you stand a better chance of knowing whether it's to your taste before you start playing.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Yeah, but so do most homebrew settings. The difference is that, with a published setting, you stand a better chance of knowing whether it's to your taste before you start playing.
You'd think.

Maybe it's the quasi-perpetual DM shortage, but I've had to turn people away from my homebrew-setting games semi-regularly for years.
 

Well, yes, but @TwoSix implied (I thought) that pitching a campaign in an out-of-print setting would be a harder sell than pitching one in a homebrew setting.

Also, some published settings have strong enough ... flavors, for lack of a better anology, that there will doubtless be some people turned off by them.
One way they might think is: with a homebrew setting, the dm made it and therefore the dm will be willing to change it to accommodate an idea from a player. With a published setting, the dm might be concerned with sticking to the 'official' version - and that's somewhat more likely to be true if they want to stick to an older setting that hasn't been updated.

Of course, if they already know the dm they'll know how flexible the dm is already, but if you're trying to find new player to join your game homebrew has a slight edge over published-but-not-recently.

On the third hand, I doubt this is going to be a major factor for anyone's decision about which game to join, unless they really like a specific published setting already.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
One way they might think is: with a homebrew setting, the dm made it and therefore the dm will be willing to change it to accommodate an idea from a player. With a published setting, the dm might be concerned with sticking to the 'official' version - and that's somewhat more likely to be true if they want to stick to an older setting that hasn't been updated.

Of course, if they already know the dm they'll know how flexible the dm is already, but if you're trying to find new player to join your game homebrew has a slight edge over published-but-not-recently.

On the third hand, I doubt this is going to be a major factor for anyone's decision about which game to join, unless they really like a specific published setting already.
That all makes sense, especially your gripping-hand conclusion.
 

Galandris

Foggy Bottom Campaign Setting Fan
How is this any harder to pitch to players than "Come play in my homebrew setting?" IME, homebrew isn't any harder to pitch/sell than something canonical.

I'd say it's linked to the availabilty of information to the potential players. If players want to engage with the setting and not see it only as a vaguely uninteresting backdrop for their adventuresof course it doesn't really matter to them. They want to fight crime, solve mysteries, cast spell and kill the BBEG, and they don't care if they do this for the Laeral Silverhand in an official setting, King Boranel of Breland in a published setting or Lord Garrdakan from a homebrew. If, on the other hand, they want to involve themselves with the setting... they must be able to get information about it.

Before joining a game, for official settings, there is a large chance they have heard of it before and know the themes of the setting. A published, but non-official setting has less audience so they won't be immediately familiar (I know nothing of Mystara, for example, and I don't know if it would click with me). If it's a homebrew... you have to trust the GM. If you want "high fantasy" and the GM is putting you in a gritty world, you'll be disappointed. Leaving at session 0 would be bad form...

And if the pitch is good and they want to get involved... Being published means the player can ask "what book should I read?" to answer the most common question... what does my characters know about X because it would be everyday knowledge? Should I be awed by someone casting Magic Missile? Should i reasonably suspect the assassin to be potentially invisible or will I look like a moron by spraying flour over the room? These questions can be solved by reading a setting book... which you can't do with a homebrew, for which the only solution is to pester the GM.

That's why people are picking Candlekeep Mystery despite the obvious flaw of not mentionning Foggy Bottom in any form, shape or fashion.
 


Prestige. And finally I come to the most important factor when it comes to name brands. This is what brands spend the major money on; associating the brand with prestige, with a good life, with a luxury lifestyle. Why buy the off-brand sugar water when you can buy Coca Cola and its Polar Bears? Don't you know that buying off-brand sugar water kills Santa? But you usually see this effect more with true luxury goods; if you've ever been in the market for a luxury car, expensive bottle of booze, high-end leather goods, watches, or anything, you understand that you are paying partly for the increased cost of production, but partly for the exclusivity; only certain people can afford to have it. Prestige matters. Buying an off-brand Rolex is cheaper than a real Rolex, and drinking good sippin' tequila will cost you a lot more than drinking Mr. Boston's well liquor.


D&D emerged in the 1970s as a hobbyist game. TSR was late to the idea of selling adventures because, in their estimation, what D&D gamer would want to run someone else's adventures? It used to be common to mix & match between official product, different rulesets (OD&D, B/X, AD&D, Boot Hill, Gamma World), semi-official product (Dragon Magazine), homebrew, 3PP (The Compleat Alchemist, Arduin Grimoire, Grimtooth's, etc.) and so on.

aka. Consumer Culture, which devours folk culture (hobbyist, indie, whatever you want to call it), turns creativity into business, and creates brands that govern not just our wallet, but our emotional life.
 

TwoSix

Unserious gamer
Well, yes, but @TwoSix implied (I thought) that pitching a campaign in an out-of-print setting would be a harder sell than pitching one in a homebrew setting.

Also, some published settings have strong enough ... flavors, for lack of a better anology, that there will doubtless be some people turned off by them.
I was saying that, yes. Pitching an out-of-print setting is harder than pitching either a pure homebrew or a current setting.

IME, people don't generally want to read a lot about the setting, and if they do want to read, they generally want to play something they read recently. I couldn't get my group interested in an Eberron game in 2015, it was a completely different ball game in 2019.
 

TwoSix

Unserious gamer
Maybe it's the quasi-perpetual DM shortage, but I've had to turn people away from my homebrew-setting games semi-regularly for years.
That probably explains the difference. My main groups all have rotating DMs, so we kind of have to sell the group on our concept to get buy-in to be the next DM.
 


Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Isn’t that covered by consistency?
Kind of but not really.

To me, consistency is getting at having some continuity from, say, edition to edition; and a certain degree of reliability and-or predictability (though those might not be exactly the right words for what I'm trying to say). But this could apply to any number of official settings.

Shared-experience more revolves around there being only one, or one important and-or default one among many; meaning the majority of players/DMs are likely to have dealings with it at some point and thus build - even if loosely - a shared experience.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
That probably explains the difference. My main groups all have rotating DMs, so we kind of have to sell the group on our concept to get buy-in to be the next DM.
Yeah. If you have standing group, it'd probably be much easier to pitch a published setting than homebrew. I wanted to meet new people, so I started my campaigns at local stores; as I said, I've had more people wanting to play than I had table seats since roughly the beginning.
 

TwoSix

Unserious gamer
Yeah. If you have standing group, it'd probably be much easier to pitch a published setting than homebrew. I wanted to meet new people, so I started my campaigns at local stores; as I said, I've had more people wanting to play than I had table seats since roughly the beginning.
Do you have trouble getting new players immersed in your setting, or is your setting a little more improvised so that it doesn't matter as much?
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Huh. Maybe I'm an outlier but I've never liked using published, well, anything. Then again that's probably just because I make up 80-90% of it as I go along. Fortunately my players are too dense (love you guys! Honest!) to ever notice. It's one of the reasons I prefer in-person gaming so much; I don't have to make up excuses for why the map and icons don't really match up to the scenario.

That, and whenever I have used published materials for AL-type stuff, there's always that one guy who has to explain the entire backstory of the bartender of the Holy Bucket tavern and that no, Elminister would not be dressed up like Santa Claus and that Jarlaxle is actually ... and then I just about want to scream. Not to mention the ones that tell be that there were supposed to be 3 gnolls in room 32b, not 4 as I just said. :rolleyes:

In any case, carry on.

P.S. It's not "Cry and you're probably reading one of my threads." it's "Cry because you're reading one of my threads."
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Do you have trouble getting new players immersed in your setting, or is your setting a little more improvised so that it doesn't matter as much?
My setting is really all that improvised, but it's also ... not really all that outre. Since I knew there were some new-ish players (and to remain new-ish-player-friendly) I made a conscious choice to eliminate very little from the PHB. The biggest change is that the Gods have been cut off from the setting (because I have never cared for how D&D has handled divinity, going back to 1e). Minor changes are that I eliminated (with narrative justification) a small number of things from the PHB (drow and fiendlocks) and allowed a few things from other expansions. I don't think any of the players who are looking for immersion have had any difficulty there.
 

pming

Legend
Hiya!
I have to ask again- why, oh why, do people keep saying that they want an official campaign setting?

My simple answer: Because WotC hasn't been putting out any DM-oriented books to encourage and help a newbie DM develop his/her own.

I don't want what they've been putting out; "generic" books with the same stuff, different colour, minor differences. It's a handful of monsters, some new races to play, maybe some new spells and/or feats. Rinse and repeat. Oh, sure, there are tid bits of DM "stuff" tossed in here and there, with some books having more than others, but overall....it's main philosophy that it's teaching new DM's is "Turn to US for new stuff...because we're the professionals. Trust us".

(Full Disclosure: I do not own ANY of the books from WotC 5e other than Starter Box, PHB/DMG/MM, DM Screen; all my info is from others reviews and 'walk throughs' of the books)

What I'd LOVE to see from WotC is a book or two that is just for DM's. No new races, no new monsters, spells, etc. Just pack it full of stuff that an aspiring DM would need, or might find useful, in creating, developing and maintaining his/her own campaign world. Stuff like the Dungeoneers Survival Guide, Wilderness Survival Guide, Dungeon Builder's Guidebook, World Builder's Guidebook, Campaign Sourcebook and Catacomb Guide, Creative Campaigning, Manual of the Planes, etc.

The "d20 Toolbox" books from Alderac Entertainment were wonderful books....but lacked the info on the "subtlety" of DM'ing (suggestions for dealing with different types of players in the same group, creating player hand outs, etc).

So....imnsho...this is why so many people playing 5e keep asking for "official worlds"; because they don't know any better or because they have been taught that the "default" for a 5e game is Offical Books Only. No, it's not the actual case...a D&D campaign is whatever the DM makes it. But that's the problem....there's no "official" book to help a DM "make their own campaign and run it". Just a seemingly endless supply of the same ol' same ol' every couple months. A book with some NPC's name on it that has some new monsters, races, classes/archtypes, spells, and feats. Nothing about how to handle extreme environments like the arctic, desert, or underwater. Nothing on building and maintaining a keep or inn. Nothing about water-born adventuring like ships, boats and battles on the high seas. Just "Here's some more races to play...yay!". :rollseyes:

Give the new DM's tools to learn to be independent DM's with their own campaign settings. Do that and you'll see a drop in "I want [Official Setting ABC or XYZ]".

My 2¢ anyway. :)

^_^

Paul L. Ming
 

Faolyn

Hero
How is this any harder to pitch to players than "Come play in my homebrew setting?" IME, homebrew isn't any harder to pitch/sell than something canonical.
Technically it is. Unless you put your setting notes online, you have to sit down and describe your setting to each person, individually or as a group, and hope you don't leave anything out and are able to get the mood across properly.

If you say "I run games in Grayhwak," then people can google Grayhawk and see what it's about. It might still end up being different from your version of it, but they'll get the gist of it.
 

aco175

Legend
I like the 'official stuff'. It's like a guarantee of fun written on the box.

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