D&D General Settings with Story

Dioltach

Legend
While I mostly prefer to run homebrew, I've run campaigns in Star Wars, Middle Earth and Dragonlance (the last one wasn't a success, since we played the modules and I just ran out of interest). Just last month I started a new SW campaign, set 10 years before Yavin, which will be mostly "Firefly in the SW universe". My ME campaigns have been set between the time of the Hobbit and the War of the Ring.

But if I were to run an adventure concurrent with the events of the books/movies, I'd take the starting situation and tell my players, "Consider the book/movie to be how another adventuring party completed this adventure. You do it your own way."

Has anyone here ever played The War of the Ring boardgame? You begin with the same starting situation, but after that your own decisions and actions shape how the events play out.
 

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Aldarc

Legend
I'm not really a fan of "settings with story." It's why I'm not a fan of D&D settings that are heavy in novelizations: e.g., Forgotten Realms, Dragonlance, etc. It's generally why these are my least favorite D&D settings. I feel less like I'm playing in a game setting or world and more like I'm playing where someone else's stories take place. That's not fun for me. A good TTRPG setting for me is a setting that comes with a lot of hooks rather than a lot of stories. This is why I favor hook-heavy settings like Nentir Vale and Eberron.
 

I'm not really a fan of "settings with story." It's why I'm not a fan of D&D settings that are heavy in novelizations: e.g., Forgotten Realms, Dragonlance, etc. It's generally why these are my least favorite D&D settings. I feel less like I'm playing in a game setting or world and more like I'm playing where someone else's stories take place. That's not fun for me. A good TTRPG setting for me is a setting that comes with a lot of hooks rather than a lot of stories. This is why I favor hook-heavy settings like Nentir Vale and Eberron.
I'm not sure it is fair to describe Forgotten Realms as not hook-heavy.
 

Aldarc

Legend
I'm not sure it is fair to say Forgotten Realms is not hook-heavy.
It's lore heavy. It's novelization heavy. I'm not sure the hooks have ever screamed at me when reading FR materials the way that it does for Eberron and Nentir Vale/World Axis. Eberron, for example, creates questions about the setting that it refuses to answer. Forgotten Realms feels like a setting that creates questions that it can't wait to answer for you in their novels.
 

It's lore heavy. It's novelization heavy. I'm not sure the hooks have ever screamed at me when reading FR materials the way that it does for Eberron and Nentir Vale/World Axis. Eberron, for example, creates questions about the setting that it refuses to answer. Forgotten Realms feels like a setting that creates questions that it can't wait to answer for you in their novels.
That I guess is one way to look at it. I find that with all this lore, much of it is not explained and provides hooks.

So for instance, no-where in the Tyranny of Dragons storyline is the origin of the dragon-masks revealed. Who created them? How were they created? Why did the Church of Tiamat not use them prior?

In Storm Kings Thunder, the Adventure League adventures make the possibility to wake Annam's (the giant god's) youngest son Hartkiller. In the AP, PCs attempt to restore the Ordning (giant hierarchy) by rescuing the Storm Giant king, Hekaton, and thus bringing peace to the land. What happens when Hartkiller and Hekaton both claim to be the rightful rulers of the giants? How can the Ordning be restored then?
 

Hussar

Legend
Yes, obviously there are a bajillion FR novels. Totally agree. But, largely, they're self contained. What happens in one novel (or series) doesn't really impact the setting terribly much. The material just kind of sits there and, obviously it's accreted to a massive degree. There is literally tens of thousands of pages of material for FR. Totally agree.

But, while there's all this lore, there aren't really any stories. Take the 5e Sword Coast adventures. There's like, what, ten or so honking big adventures there. But, none of them really reference each other and none of them actually have much impact at all on the others. It doesn't really change anything if you have or have not played Storm King's Thunder and then play Dragon Queen or Princes. None of them impact each other.

And none of them, at least to me, define Forgotten Realms in the way that say, Strahd defines Ravenloft.
 

Aldarc

Legend
That I guess is one way to look at it. I find that with all this lore, much of it is not explained and provides hooks.

So for instance, no-where in the Tyranny of Dragons storyline is the origin of the dragon-masks revealed. Who created them? How were they created? Why did the Church of Tiamat not use them prior?

In Storm Kings Thunder, the Adventure League adventures make the possibility to wake Annam's (the giant god's) youngest son Hartkiller. In the AP, PCs attempt to restore the Ordning (giant hierarchy) by rescuing the Storm Giant king, Hekaton, and thus bringing peace to the land. What happens when Hartkiller and Hekaton both claim to be the rightful rulers of the giants? How can the Ordning be restored then?
A point of contrast is that Eberron invites people to ask these questions. The setting intentionally draws attention to the questions and gaps in our knowledge. I don't think that this is the case for what you mention with Tyranny of Dragons. The adventure tells us what the masks do but it's not concerned with their origins. Those are questions and hooks that you devised about the story elements in the adventure. I hope that distinction is clear.
 

A point of contrast is that Eberron invites people to ask these questions. The setting intentionally draws attention to the questions and gaps in our knowledge. I don't think that this is the case for what you mention with Tyranny of Dragons. The adventure tells us what the masks do but it's not concerned with their origins. Those are questions and hooks that you devised about the story elements in the adventure. I hope that distinction is clear.
I think so. Honestly I'm not versed well enough on Eberron, but from your post it sounds like players themselves are interested in these questions/gaps that exist, similar say to I suppose a homebrew world which truth and knowledge still needs to be explored and discovered?
If that is the case, I can relate given why I stated Star Trek is more interesting to me than Star Wars.
 

Levistus's_Leviathan

5e Freelancer
I think so. Honestly I'm not versed well enough on Eberron, but from your post it sounds like players themselves are interested in these questions/gaps that exist, similar say to I suppose a homebrew world which truth and knowledge still needs to be explored and discovered?
There are a ton of mysteries in Eberron that do not have a canon answer. The designers of Eberron have refused to give "true"/"canonical" answers to these parts of the world, because they want the DM to come up with their own and for it to be impossible to have these mysteries spoiled for players. There are a ton of parts of Eberron like this, but some big ones are:
  • What caused the Mourning (long story short, a country got nuked during a 100-year-long, 5-nation civil war, and no one knows who/what caused this disaster).
  • If the gods exist (Eberron has pantheons of gods, but their existence is not confirmed).
  • If the Progenitor Dragons were real (the creation myth claims that the world was created by 3 giant dragons, but no one knows if they actually existed).
  • Where Erandis Vol/Lady Illmarrow's phylactery is (half-green dragon lich lady who was turned into a lich by her mother. Her mother hid the phylactery so well that even Erandis doesn't know where her phylactery is).
  • Where Warforged souls come from (Warforged definitely have souls, it's just not clear where they come from/how they're created).
  • How to free the Demon Overlords
  • How the 13th moon was destroyed
  • How to bring back the Dragonmark of Death
  • If there are any Couatls still alive (they all sacrificed themselves thousands of years ago to imprison the demons that ruled the world)
And there are a lot more little mysteries that Keith Baker and the other creators of Eberron leave up to the DM to customize the world to their own table.

So, yes, Eberron is kind of like a homebrew world where truth and knowledge need to be explored/discovered. That was intended when the world was made. To have each home version of the setting be different and customized to the preferences of the DMs and their table. No one's experience with Eberron will be the same as anyone else's if they're from different tables.

In my version of the world, the Mourning was caused by Erandis Vol making a pact with the Dark Powers of Ravenloft, who filled Cyre with the Mists of Ravenloft and reincarnated the souls of the dead in Ravenloft's Domains of Dread. She did this because the Last War was going to release Rak Tulkesh, the Demon Overlord of War, which would have destroyed the world and prevented Erandis Vol from achieving her goal of apotheosis to the Goddess of Death and restoring the Dragonmark of Death. This is an idea I came up with from a combination of suggestions from the 5e Eberron book, dozens of Keith Baker's blog articles, and some concepts from other media. My solution to these problems are different from any other DMs solutions to these problems (I'm sure that other Eberron DMs have used Ravenloft and/or Lady Illmarrow to be the cause of the Mourning in their Eberron, but my other additions and customizations to the world make it unique in dozens of ways).
 
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Aldarc

Legend
I think so. Honestly I'm not versed well enough on Eberron, but from your post it sounds like players themselves are interested in these questions/gaps that exist, similar say to I suppose a homebrew world which truth and knowledge still needs to be explored and discovered?
If that is the case, I can relate given why I stated Star Trek is more interesting to me than Star Wars.
The Mourning (i.e., the magical devastation of Cyre) is one of the most pivotal moments of the setting. It spooked everyoned and led to the end of the Last War. The people in the setting do not know what caused it, and not knowing the cause creates a massive hook, because nearly every faction in the setting wants to find out what caused it for their own gains.

Moreover, the writers/designers don't know what caused it, and they also refuse to answer it. Keith Baker and the writers may throw out speculation from the perspective of in-game NPCs as to the cause: e.g., Daelkyr, Lords of Dust, the Inspired, the Lord of Blades, a House Cannith experiment gone wrong, etc. But they will never answer this big mystery.

Eberron has a number of mysteries like this, large and small. The writers created all sorts of hooks for Eberron.

Nentir Vale was developed by a number of the same people who helped develop Eberron: i.e., Bill Slaviscek, James Wyatt, Rich Baker, etc. Likewise, the Nentir Vale/World Axis has its own setting of intentionally-created mysteries, hooks, and lore lacunae.

There are a ton of mysteries in Eberron that do not have a canon answer. The designers of Eberron have refused to give "true"/"canonical" answers to these parts of the world, because they want the DM to come up with their own and for it to be impossible to have these mysteries spoiled for players. There are a ton of parts of Eberron like this, but some big ones are:
  • What caused the Mourning (long story short, a country got nuked during a 100-year-long, 5-nation civil war, and no one knows who/what caused this disaster).
  • If the gods exist (Eberron has pantheons of gods, but their existence is not confirmed).
  • If the Progenitor Dragons were real (the creation myth claims that the world was created by 3 giant dragons, but no one knows if they actually existed).
  • Where Erandis Vol's phylactery is (half-green dragon lich lady who was turned into a lich by her mother. Her mother hid the phylactery so well that even Erandis doesn't know where her phylactery is).
  • Where Warforged souls come from (Warforged definitely have souls, it's just not clear where they come from/how they're created).
And there are a lot more little mysteries that Keith Baker and the other creators of Eberron leave up to the DM to customize the world to their own table.

So, yes, Eberron is kind of like a homebrew world where truth and knowledge need to be explored/discovered. That was intended when the world was made. To have each home version of the setting be different and customized to the preferences of the DMs and their table. No one's experience with Eberron will be the same as anyone else's if they're from different tables.
  • What's the nature of the Dragonmarks? Why do the marks only appear on Khorvaire?
  • What is the true nature of the Draconic Prophecy?
 

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