D&D General Settings with Story

Levistus's_Leviathan

5e Freelancer
I'm sure I've seen commentary by other designers to the contrary - that it may have been coincidence at first, but as soon as someone spotted the connection they then made sure to repeat it throughout the setting.

That said, I can't actually source that one, so take with a pinch of salt. :)
I just tried to find where Keith said it was a coincidence, but I couldn't find it either.
 

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Hussar

Legend
/snip
Or, most often, I run some sort of "what if..." campaign - what if the destruction of the second Death Star took out Endor and all of our heroes? What if Leia was never rescued and turned to the dark side? What if Qui-Gon was evil all along?
This is most in keeping with how I would approach these properties as well. What if Luke died in the Mos Eisley Cantina? There's Obi-Wan, devastated by the death of Luke, but, he still needs to go rescue Leia - so, in step our PC heroes and the story moves forward from there. Poof, your PC's are now the center of the story and we can fold, spindle and maul the setting to our heart's content. :D

/snip
On Ravenloft I don't think of Strahd as the story of Ravenloft. Just my preference. He is part of Ravenloft's origin, but you can play Ravenloft with zero interactions with Dark Lords or with Strahd (and there are so many other domains players can explore).
See, this gets back around to the point I was originally making. To me, the other domains don't exist. If I was going to run a horror campaign, that wasn't Ravenloft, I wouldn't bother with anything to do with Ravenloft as a setting - Domains of Dread etc. I would go 100% new and completely ignore Ravenloft because to me, Ravenloft=Strahd. Now, I have no problems with Curse of Strahd as an adventure. I do rate it as probably one of the best modules of all time, certainly the best of 5e.

But, that's because the PC's are always the center of the story. The beginning might be the same - say Death House and the end might be similar - confronting Strahd, but everything in the middle? That's going to vary wildly depending on the group. Which is what a great module should always be in my mind - a story generator, not a story in itself. I was hoping that the new Dragonlance module would take the same approach - you start at Point X (Inn of the last Home for traditions sake, but, it certainly doesn't have to be there) and you will likely finish in Nerika in a showdown with the heads of the Dragonarmies, but, in between, there would be a bunch of sort of mini-adventures, similar to how Strahd works, where success or failure determines future goals in the war.

Alas, this is not to be. Thus, my interest in the new DL module has pretty much faded. I'm not interested in an adventure set in Krynn. I don't really care too much about Krynn as a setting, other than it's the setting for what I DO want to play in. I'm a bit disappointed, but, ah well, there's always another time.
 

Aldarc

Legend
This is most in keeping with how I would approach these properties as well. What if Luke died in the Mos Eisley Cantina? There's Obi-Wan, devastated by the death of Luke, but, he still needs to go rescue Leia - so, in step our PC heroes and the story moves forward from there. Poof, your PC's are now the center of the story and we can fold, spindle and maul the setting to our heart's content. :D
This premise makes you :D , but it feels hollow to me and makes me ☹️ because it's asking me to pretend that the story didn't happen the way that I know that it did. So there is absolutely no fun for me in your premise because at the end of the day, I know that Luke doesn't die in Mos Eisley Cantina. If I sat at your table to play a game of Star Wars that was set in the Star Wars Universe, and you told me this premise, I would probably walk away from your table then and there. No joke.
 

This is most in keeping with how I would approach these properties as well. What if Luke died in the Mos Eisley Cantina? There's Obi-Wan, devastated by the death of Luke, but, he still needs to go rescue Leia - so, in step our PC heroes and the story moves forward from there. Poof, your PC's are now the center of the story and we can fold, spindle and maul the setting to our heart's content. :D


See, this gets back around to the point I was originally making. To me, the other domains don't exist. If I was going to run a horror campaign, that wasn't Ravenloft, I wouldn't bother with anything to do with Ravenloft as a setting - Domains of Dread etc. I would go 100% new and completely ignore Ravenloft because to me, Ravenloft=Strahd. Now, I have no problems with Curse of Strahd as an adventure. I do rate it as probably one of the best modules of all time, certainly the best of 5e.


Part of it might be that I almost never used Barovia or Strahd when I ran Ravenloft in the past. I was usually more interested in domains like Valachan, Lamordia, Borca, Invidia and (my favorite) Kartakass.
 

payn

Legend
How about other folks? Are you interested in storied settings for their own sake or only interested in the iconic stories from those settings or a mix of both?
In the past, I avoided the iconic stories for many of the stated reasons. Too much established canon, too much desired imitation, etc.. I like Star Wars movies, but I dont like the sci-fi fantasy aspect for RPG. I like my sci-fi harder, which is why I tend to gravitate to Traveller. Star Trek, which is also loaded with canon, also has levels of tech that is too magic for my tastes. I found players expectations hung too much on that expected canon. The players and myself could put more of our own touches on something not so clearly established.

This is one reason I really enjoyed the Pathfinder 1 era of adventure paths. The Golarion setting had a lot going on at once. Though, every adventure path was independent of one another, and none of them started before or after the others (for a time). My players got to star in the iconic story that wasnt written yet. They get to be Luke, Leia, Han, Kirk, Spok, etc... There is a little more room for creativity and less expectation, but you also get the feel of a well defined and iconic story. (PF2 I believe made a few APs end and choose the path forward by moving the setting ahead like 5 years or something. I havent looked back since PF2 isnt a slam dunk for me)

That said, I have actually been getting into bespoke experiences. Alien, Bladerunner, upcoming Cowboy Bebop, etc.. What I am finding is a way to enjoy these iconic stories in a smaller experience. I dont need to have spaceships and plasma rifles to run a Bladerunner game, even though those things exist. I just want a hardcoded detective sci-noir story that I can lean into the movie milieu. These experiences are one shot or maybe a few sessions. They dont have to be major commitments that you play in perpetuity with massive gaming systems that level for long periods of time. If the game is focus on the character experience and not reliving the iconic story, I'm all for it.
 

billd91

Not your screen monkey (he/him)
It reminds me of the old Star Wars advertisements:
View attachment 266142

I can honestly answer, I don't care. That guy's story is totally unimportant. If his story was important, I'd already know what it is. I have zero interest in the group (again, either as a player or a DM) being unimportant. If the party cannot remake the setting, I have no interest.
Like Faolyn, I also enjoyed those ads. They were a pretty good reminder that there is room for a lot more stories in the Star Wars setting than the main Skywalker narrative. And the proliferation of shows, particularly the Mandalorian, just underscores the idea that there is a lot of room for parallel stories.
So, no. I'm not particularly put off by the idea of playing an RPG in a setting that has expanded from a central story (that my PC isn't participating in).
What would put me off a bit is playing in a setting and facing too many major NPC guest stars appearing. I don't want to constantly cross paths with Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, or Leia Organa. Jabba the Hutt - that I might accept for a scum and villainy sort of campaign, but I'd honestly like to avoid constantly crossing paths with Tatooine as well.
 


Random side question: Has any RPG company that licensed an official property ever provided a scenario based on an official story, and explicitly empowered the players with ways to change the canonical outcome through their actions? That is, options other than "stay on rails until the end of the ride" or "you failed". (Obviously, a GM could and should improvise, but I'm talking about official support.)
Semi-example: in the Tales of Equestria ttrpg based on My Little Pony, the starter set module takes place during a specific episode of the show where the main characters are off somewhere else and you need to wrangle their pets. Whether the pc's succeed or fail wouldn't actually change the outcome of the story in the episode.

Personally I don't like it (too railroady) but assuming the gm and players are the target age, it makes some sense.

Anywho, when I play in an established setting I assume the "canon" story isn't canon to our version of the setting. If we're playing a Star Wars game during the rebellion, the actual events may play out differently based on what the pc's choose to do. If they're not replacing the IP main characters (ie they're just a group of rebel pilots) the default assumption is the story would have played out the same if the pc's weren't there, but frankly if they're that close to the center of the story I'm going to make changes anyways. If we were playing in Krynn either the campaign isn't about the War of the Lance of the pc's are the Heroes of the Lance instead of the characters from the books, who may or may not exist at all. Even when I play in the Forgotten Realms it's our version of the Realms so anything in the official lore we don't like is subject to change.
 


Incenjucar

Legend
I like to have things going on in the same potential space as the players so the world feels alive and not just waiting for them, but not something they can look up in a book. They can choose to interact with multiple events or focus on their own thing. The world doesn't wait for them, but neither is it on rails.
 

Xamnam

Loves Your Favorite Game
Like Faolyn, I also enjoyed those ads. They were a pretty good reminder that there is room for a lot more stories in the Star Wars setting than the main Skywalker narrative. And the proliferation of shows, particularly the Mandalorian, just underscores the idea that there is a lot of room for parallel stories.
I will say, I imagine that if I had gotten into the expanded universe, and become familiar with more of the non-film material, perhaps the Skywalker story wouldn't feel so definitional, and I'd be more excited about exploring other corners. There's definitely plenty of room in that universe! The less iconic one singular story is in that world, the more attractive telling my own is, and that's always going to be a function of my personal relationship with a setting.
 

Laurefindel

Legend
I like to fill out the blanks

Star Wars is giving us a bunch of example of this with the Clone Wars animated series between SW2 and SW3, the Mandalorean between SW6 and SW7, and Rogue One between SW3 and SW4. A rebel-era period that always interested me was the few years between SW4 and SW5 when the rebel alliance was hunted down by the Empire and frequently had to change base and look for new ones, recruiting more members at the same time.

I though The One Ring (1st ed) proposed something very interesting by exploring the Wilderlands presented in The Hobbit but absent in LotR , 5 years after the death of Smaug and 60-ish years before the Fellowship. We know from canon sources that the Bardings and Elves and Dwarves fought during the War of the Ring and that the #2 Nazgul was holding Dol Guldur during that period, but details are open to interpretation.

So even if we know that the metaplot goes from A to B, what happens in between is fun to explore
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
How about other folks? Are you interested in storied settings for their own sake or only interested in the iconic stories from those settings or a mix of both?

I am generally not interested in playing through an adventure that's already been covered in other media. I have no interest in replaying the actions of Star Wars: A New Hope, or the adventures of the Companions of the Lance as detailed in the original Dragonlance trilogy. Or, how I liked the Cortex-based Marvel Super Heroic RPG system, but didn't play it beyond a couple of tests because the support beyond, "Play this iconic storyline with these iconic characters" was basically non-existent.

So, my interest in a setting based on a media property is entirely based on how much information we have beyond the original media. If we were limited in information to what was on screen in Star Wars Episodes IV-VI, I'd have little interest in playing in the setting. But, with Expanded Universe, my position changes. One of the most interesting and engaging campaigns I've ever played in was a Star Wars Saga Edition game.

Similar with Dragonlance - a ton of books, and sufficient world to work our own stories in. Star Trek, tons of canon to frame a game - I'm there.

The Alien franchise? No so much. I have little interest.
 

Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
I must be one of the few who liked the Caravan of Courage and would enjoy playing more adventures on the Moon of Endor. I’d love to swing through the trees of Kashyyk and having now read parts of The Last Ringbearer I could see myself playing in that version of Mordor on the brink of an Industrial revolution.
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
  • What's with the pattern of "13-1" in the setting? (There are 13 countries in Khorvaire, one of them blew up. There were 13 "true" dragonmarks, one of them got genocided thousands of years ago. There were 13 moons, the giants destroyed one of them. There were 13 planes of existence that could create manifest zones, the giants cut off one of them. And so on.)
Personally, I like the out-of-game reason so much I don't want there to be an in-game reason.
 


Stormonu

Legend
Back when the West End Star Wars RPG came out, we played in a campaign set between A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back, playing mostly the modules that came out. We had a blast, and even had an adventure at one point where we ran into Luke Skywalker while we were undertaking a mission (we were delivering something to him - we didn't know it was him though, until we met). We had a blast with it, and when I run such games, I tend to set them in the same time frame - though I did do one with the PCs being surviving padawans just after Order 66.

I've also run an Aliens one-shot that's taken place in some unspecified time between Prometheus and Aliens. It was a blast, and the players have told me they'd be in for a follow-up. It was a game that took place in that universe, but had nothing to do with the movie events.

I've run a Firefly game set somewhere before the events of the Serenity movie, and the players enjoyed it. One of the missions had them in a race to pick up and complete a delivery run before the movie ship beat them to it. The players had a lot of fun, and managed to succeed over Mal and his group (there was a chase at one point, and a stand-off. Wouldn't say it ended amicably, but both sides walked away alive - and it just felt right for that universe).

Conversely, I've tried to run the DL adventures with the PCs being the Heroes of the Lance and had them be dismal failures.

I don't mind playing in an existing universe, but playing as the story heroes of that universe isn't my cup of tea.
 


Hussar

Legend
This premise makes you :D , but it feels hollow to me and makes me ☹️ because it's asking me to pretend that the story didn't happen the way that I know that it did. So there is absolutely no fun for me in your premise because at the end of the day, I know that Luke doesn't die in Mos Eisley Cantina. If I sat at your table to play a game of Star Wars that was set in the Star Wars Universe, and you told me this premise, I would probably walk away from your table then and there. No joke.

And that’s totally fair.

Different strokes and all that. I get that the baseline for the “story” of a setting will mean different things to different people.
 

Hussar

Legend
.

The Alien franchise? No so much. I have little interest.

See now the Alien franchise I’d have no problem with. All we have is one encounter with the Aliens - Ripley’s story. But since Ripley do any actually resolve anything beyond that very local encounter in each movie, there’s no problem in having more.

Heck simply setting it after the fourth movie would be easy enough.
 

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