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D&D General One Homebrew Campaign World, Multiple Campaigns?

Something came up in recent threads that surprised me, though in reflection in makes sense.

How many DMs out there have one Homebrew Campaign setting that they have used for multiple campaigns? Even multiple groups?

I must admit, this had never really occurred to me before. I usually create a custom campaign setting around the players and their characters. I'm not arguing this system is any better or worse, but it definitely matched my type of creativity better.

So I want to hear from those who do it differently! Tell me what it's like to have a homebrew campaign setting you have used for multiple campaigns. How about for multiple groups?

How long have you been running this setting for? How much do the characters' actions change the setting, and do those changes stick around for the next campaign or group?

How much of your campaign world do you have figured out before you play each campaign, and how much is created during the campaign?

Inquiring minds want to know!
 

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Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
[raises hand] I do!

I’ve been running campaigns in “the same” homebrew setting for... several years now, I don’t remember exactly how long. I put “the same” in quotation marks though, because the setting is always evolving. Also, while my campaigns are usually set in the same world (though of course I have run campaigns in other settings during the time I’ve been doing this), they may be set in different parts of the world, or at different times.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
I'm running two campaigns in the same world. One started (in-world) about half a year later than the other, which led to occasional amusement when one party encountered the results of the other's actions.
 

I have used the same campaign world for my last 4 groups over a time span of 20+ years, advancing it in game at the same rate as the real world and having two groups concurrent at the end.

It has always been a situation of "Here is my world, history and all, come play in it" as opposed to "Ok gang, what kind of world do you all want me to build for you?".

This is not to say the the players have not had an impact on the world, mind you. There have been...changes.

Major changes.

"Oh dear god what was I thinking giving you a flying ship" changes.

"You are going to summon WHAT underwater?" changes.

"WHY ARE YOU RIDING ORCUS?!" changes.
 

GnomeWorks

Adventurer
I've been running the same setting for 20-some years now.

Vastly different groups over that time, as well.

Characters' actions have consequences. Characters can - and have - shaped the way the world plays out. In one notable instance, a PC became a major antagonist (still "played" by the player) for other groups for a number of years.
 

the Jester

Legend
In the old days, that's what a campaign was - a persistent setting that groups adventured within. What we now term a setting or campaign world.

But yes, I have been running the same campaign (in the old sense) for decades now, with many different groups, sometimes running concurrently in the same or nearby place(s) and sometimes in different times or places in the world.
 

Dragonsbane

Proud Grognard
Of course. And the previous campaigns affect the following games with historical events, ways the players changed the world, and rumors of future campaigns.
 

aco175

Legend
We did back in the late 80s and 90s with the old DM taking a world he played in with his old DM and bringing it to our campaign. He kept it for another campaign or two before I started a couple games in it. The problem with it was that each campaign was in a different place than the others and just filled in other places in the world. It worked and was fun, but made the whole world feel the same in that each campaign we played about the same with little diversity.
 

I have been running the same campaign world since about 1990. All previous events are in continuity, I've had dozens of different players, and about 1,000 years of in-game time has passed. PCs of the past are now historical legends. It's great fun, and I know the world as second nature now, so coming up with things on the fly is a cinch.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
I've been running games in more or less the same campaign world for the past 40 years or so (geez, typing that makes me feel old). Different sections of the world, different groups. Actions of the PCs in the campaign can and do have lasting impact. Time has advanced by a couple of centuries since I first started, but the main set pieces are still there. Heck, some of the old elves and dwarves are still running around along with a 250 year old human wizard who figured out how to extend his life.

Good things and bad have happened. City states have fallen because the PCs couldn't stop it's destruction, kingdoms are now being peacefully run because the PCs were more successful than I had anticipated them being and ultimately has remained stable for now because of a 20 rolled at a critical juncture.

I maintain a calendar with major events and PC contributions that I can draw on now and then. A couple of campaigns have been the "next generation" of PCs descended from the previous group. Some of the players made kids of their old PC, others made the kids of other player's characters (with approval of course).

I really like the sense of continuity and history. It's a big world and things keep changing, so things can feel quite different from one campaign to the next. In addition, my wife controls a corner of the world (we collaborate only if and when things can overlap) so occasionally we'll have crossover characters and events, or even crossover sessions.
 

Sabathius42

Bree-Yark
I started a homebrew setting when 5e launched and ran a 4ish year campaign. At the end of that campaign some things happened/didn't happen based on the players actions that shaped the current timeline.

1. One human duchy turned into a Theocracy of Tempus and took over the other duchys and deposed the king.
2. The PC elven wizard/cleric was promoted to godhood to replace an insane elven diety of dreams.
3. An attempted coup by a high level devil to overthrow Asmodeus was thwarted.
4. The elvish capitol was magically "nuked".
5. The dwarves have put out a standing bounty trying to retrieve all the warforged they created...against their will.

This set up "Part II" of the campaign which takes place roughly 20 years after the end of the first one. I began running this right before the Year of Covid made us stop playing. Some of the new plot points they players are working on include....
1. Why a circus performing flumph named Jimmy freaked out when some clerics of the new elven god got near them.
2. Joining an army building up to retake the ancestral homes of one of the dukes invaded by the Tempus armies.
3. Fixing the broken areas of the weave caused by the various "nukes".
4. Other things not tied to the original campaign.

I don't necessarily plan to only run games in this world, but if the players put in enough roots and want to revisit it, it will probably become my default world that I keep building on. This is kind of a shame because i'm a sucker for interesting campaign concepts that aren't necessarily going to work there.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
Richest/most dynamic campaign(s0+setting I was ever in was back in high school/collage, with a DM who ran like 3 concurrent groups, each that had multiple campaigns, all set in different parts of the same world (or occasionally the same part but different levels). Like a six many group with a six man campaign, and a "we're missing Dave" campaign and a "we're missing Jay" campaign, etc. The biggest collection was that one of the earliest campaigns, The Company of the Unicorn, eventually started sponsoring other groups. This was A&D 2nd ed, and they would be like "hey new 1st level group, have this +1 trident and these low level potions and go do this for us because we're too busy to do it".

I ran two campaigns in the same world, one D&D 3.0->3.5 and the other 3.5. Mostly the same players, but 80 years apart to both allow the results of the previous campaign to spread, and also to shake things up and have stuff new.

A friend has run several campaigns in a world (and I've played in some) and has invited me to run in it as well. He's not the original DM for the world, though he's the only one of the original group who runs regularly. So that's more of a shared world as well.

On the other hand, my current campaign planning really puts me with only a framework of hooks and awesome going into Session 0, and build out from there with player input. So that doesn't lend itself to reusing the same setting. For instance, all player-suggested my current world is the body fo a dead god, with her skull as the moon. (Which everyone calls "The Skull" because it looks like one, but it couldn't REALLY be a skull, right? Only the Druids know for sure.) There are no more Dwarves - they have been genocided, and the Dark Elves are a created race to mine the Bones of the Earth (literal) in their place for the victor. Halflings are also a created race.
 

Everything I run is in the same homebrew world. When if first started I ran concurrent campaigns that were acting at roughly the same time on similar missions that impacted each other. The third campaign was set three years after those other two faded out.
 

Jack Daniel

Engines & Empires
I have a small handful of persistent campaign "worlds" (scare quotes around that because they all exist within the same universe, and it's technically possible for characters to travel between them) that I'll use for my campaigns. I don't only set new campaigns in an old world I've used before; I'll actually have multiple groups running in the same world concurrently. Sometimes based around the same town and dungeon, so that what one group does in town or in the dungeon on Saturday could affect what happens to the other group on Wednesday. Or you could have players or characters who float between groups.
 
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DeviousQuail

Explorer
I use a multiverse approach for most campaigns. They all connect because of "magic" but each world is usually tailored to the type of campaign. One has standard fantasy fair, another has 100 foot tall titans and instant death mists, another is a dungeon world, and the last one is modern with magic. They don't mix much but a PCs character got hit with a weird plane shift spell and now he randomly shows up everywhere. At some point I might even do a cross over event featuring characters from each world.
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
I used the same homebrew world Aquerra for over 20 years, starting in 1989 when 2E came out converted to 3.xE and through the last game I played in which ended in 2015, so I guess that is 26 years. And as you might have been able to tell from the last sentence, I not only ran multiple games in that world, so did other DMs who were friends of mine. All events in one game had the ability to affect other games (for example, one campaign's setting followed up the political fallout of another campaign's arc). This also meant that once an adventure was played in the world, it was not to be re-used - though we did sometimes write sequels, reusing maps and locations for different groups.

For my current hodge-podge newbie 5E game I have stolen liberally from my old homebrew, but am not trying to keep a sense of continuity with previous campaigns.
 

Bawylie

A very OK person
Like many others here, I’ve been running my home setting for over 20 years. Some one-off games are not in that setting, but most of my play is.

I’ve still got some of my original players in various groups. And their retired characters feature often in the lore or make cameos as NPCs and that kind of thing.
 

Richards

Legend
I ran a heavily-homebrewed version of Greyhawk as a nine-year campaign, with the PCs going all the way to 20th level and retiring. Then we time-jumped ahead 20 years and started up a new campaign in the same game world with new 1st-level PCs and ran a full 20-level campaign there over the next 5 years.

My son's got me beat, though. He ran a completely homebrewed, 20-level campaign for us over the course of two years, then started us up in a new campaign set in the same campaign world. But we recently learned not only is it the same world, but it's actually the same time frame as the previous campaign, so he's got plot hooks weaving between the two campaigns! (Case in point: these new PCs just rescued the main enemy of the first campaign from Dwarven Hell, not having any idea who he was and all of the evil stuff he had gotten up to in the previous campaign.)

Johnathan
 

pming

Hero
Hiya!
Something came up in recent threads that surprised me, though in reflection in makes sense.

How many DMs out there have one Homebrew Campaign setting that they have used for multiple campaigns? Even multiple groups?

I must admit, this had never really occurred to me before. I usually create a custom campaign setting around the players and their characters. I'm not arguing this system is any better or worse, but it definitely matched my type of creativity better.

So I want to hear from those who do it differently! Tell me what it's like to have a homebrew campaign setting you have used for multiple campaigns. How about for multiple groups?

How long have you been running this setting for? How much do the characters' actions change the setting, and do those changes stick around for the next campaign or group?

How much of your campaign world do you have figured out before you play each campaign, and how much is created during the campaign?

Inquiring minds want to know!

Simply put... yes. This is my default. It's more uncommon for me to start a 'new' campaign that has a 'clean slate', so to say. Years go buy in my campaigns...decades even. The Campaign Setting is still the same, with previous PC's having made their mark (or, more often than not...uh..."not made their mark"...unless having your skull hold a necromancers reading candle on his desk counts...).

I think the longest is probably my 1e Greyhawk campaign (although I have used other systems for it...but it's still the same timeline/campaign). I started that back in, iirc, 1982? Maybe 1983? Characters from that campaign are still around...most anyway. Retired, rulers of their own little domain, or still wandering around. Alas, the players that started that campaign I haven't played with in decades, but if we ever did do a "get together" (at least 3 still live in my city), we could pick right back up with the same PC's...and I could tell them all of what has changed in my Flanaess.

As for homebrew worlds...er... MY Greyhawk is not the same as the "official Greyhawk". But for pure homebrew, probably another 1e AD&D campaign; a world setting I call Eisla. It is EXTREMELY 'low-power-level'. Started it back in/around 1988. It has been used for decades...and the Players have played several different PC's (and I've had several different Players too), but they've only 'explored' a fraction of the initial campaign area; an area that is only about 1500km x 1500km! For some reason when play starts in a session, everyone just gets SOOO invested in the setting, personal PC/NPC interaction, and all that "boring stuff" that we can play a whole 5 hour session with the PC's basically being in camp, small recon of the immediate area, sleeping, waking up, packing horses....and that's it. Five hours....or RP'ing and wandering around camp in a 200' radius. And everyone has a blast! Because of this...despite it being an ongoing campaign for 23'ish years now...the campaign timeline is just ending it's second winter. IIRC, I started it in winter. So it's been about a year and a half...tops...in Campaign Time. O_O

As for how much I "do" before play...well, I'm an old school DM. This means I have a LOT of notes about what the world is like, how the societies are, what the religious situations are in the area, where/what/why the bad guys are in a general sense, etc. Then we just play. I draw from my notes, run the "world as realistically and logically as I can", and interject reasonable things via imagination mixed with ample Random-Dice-Rolling-On-Random-Tables. :) The current "big thing" going on in the world is two-fold; (1) There is a small bit of "disappointment" in the King's Army...for some reason; (2) Adventurers with actual Classes have started to be seen wandering around stirring up trouble! (re: the PC's). Other than that, my world description of locations, NPC's, etc have short and vague "crumbs" for me to play with if/when the PC's wander into them.

PS: Isn't it weird that I can remember what the PC's were last doing 35+ years ago...but I can't remember what I did 3 days ago? Huh...nutty. ;)

^_^

Paul L. Ming
 

Ath-kethin

Elder Thing
I've been running games set in Zakhara/Spelljammer since 1996 or so, with many different groups and players.

I've been running games set in a mishmash of Primeval Thule, Xoth, and Mystara since 2015 or so with four different groups now.

I've been running a game set in a mishmash of Mystara and Hyperboria (from Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperboria) for about three years now.

It's easy IME to adapt each campaign to its players and their interests, but the backing of years to decades of resources, modules, and other products makes life SOOOO much easier.
 

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