D&D General Settings with Story

Levistus's_Leviathan

5e Freelancer
  • What's the nature of the Dragonmarks? Why do the marks only appear on Khorvaire?
  • What is the true nature of the Draconic Prophecy?
  • 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.)
  • Did anything ever live in the Ring of Siberys, or is it just a ring of dragonshards?
  • How can the Dreaming Dark prevent Dal Quor from shifting back to the control of Il-Yannah?
Yeah, there are a ton. We could go on for pages about all of the unanswered secrets of Eberron and the possible solutions.
 

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GuyBoy

Hero
I had a poor experience as a player in a Dragonlance game where the DM adhered to the point of absurdity in railroading us to fit the “story.” I’m conscious that it’s only one game but it’s certainly put me off anything Dragonlance.
Similarly, I’m not too keen on FR due to so much being written and so much Drizzt/Elminster that it kind of reduces the fun (for me anyway)
That’s why I far prefer settings like Greyhawk and Eberron, which are clearly living worlds with multiple opportunities to write your own stories, either locally or on a larger scale.
For similar reasons, I enjoy running homebrew settings; right now I’ve placed Scarlet Citadel in a homebrew region a bit smaller than Nentir Vale, with the players writing their own story, albeit interacting with events from a century ago or more.
 
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Bitbrain

ORC (Open RPG) horde ally
Reply to OP.

I think I prefer settings with an “over-story”.

For example, with Dragonlance I would argue that the “over story” is evil dragon-armies are terrorizing the world, and that each individual dragonlance campaign’s story is/should be about defeating the specific dragon-army tasked with bringing your local region under their control however you can.
 

Levistus's_Leviathan

5e Freelancer
Reply to OP.

I think I prefer settings with an “over-story”.

For example, with Dragonlance I would argue that the “over story” is evil dragon-armies are terrorizing the world, and that each individual dragonlance campaign’s story is/should be about defeating the specific dragon-army tasked with bringing your local region under their control however you can.
I do enjoy campaign settings where there's one big event that affects the entire setting, but I also enjoy using the same setting to run different kinds of campaigns. So even if Dark Sun, Eberron, or Wildemount have "main plots", I think other (possibly smaller) stories should be supported in the world, too. Sometimes I like a setting, but I've already ran the "main campaign" for it, and want to do something new in the setting and not just kill Strahd again.
 

jgsugden

Legend
Stories and settings have different components. Sometimes, like with Krynn, the setting and story are built to work together closely - and all I want to do in that setting is the story it is set up to deliver. Other settings seed many stories - and those are settings in which I could run hundreds or thousands of different storylines for games. That would be true of my Homebrew, but also of Athas, FR, Greyhawk, Eberron and most of the other settings, to be honest.
 

delericho

Legend
  • 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.)
That one's reasonably easy - the setting was created by Keith Baker, and a baker's dozen is 13 loaves - 12 to sell and one to discard (burn, test, whatever).
 

Levistus's_Leviathan

5e Freelancer
That one's reasonably easy - the setting was created by Keith Baker, and a baker's dozen is 13 loaves - 12 to sell and one to discard (burn, test, whatever).
Keith Baker actually said that Eberron's "Baker's Dozens" were just a coincidence. Not that they didn't intend 13-1 to be a core part of the setting, but that they didn't realize its connection to a baker's dozen at first.
 

delericho

Legend
As time has gone on, I've increasingly come to agree with @Hussar's position in the OP - if a setting has one iconic story, I'm probably not all that interested in playing in that setting. Because that story has been done, and the PCs are forever overshadowed by it.

Though on some of the specifics...

I am (potentially) interested in Taladas, largely because I consider that to be essentially a setting in its own right - TSR basically just wanted to trade on name recognition. :)

And I am interested in Star Wars, albeit with caveats. One of the things that the RPGs (and the wider EU) did well was to really expand out that setting so that it was less true that there was just one story. Disney, sadly, first got rid of all that EU and are now seemingly hell-bent on twisting everything back around to the Skywalkers, to the detriment of the Mandalorian and, especially, Boba Fett.

But when running Star Wars, I tend to do something well out of the way of that iconic story. Either it's far in the future or (less often) the past, or its right on the Rim, or a Mirror Universe. 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?
 

delericho

Legend
Keith Baker actually said that Eberron's "Baker's Dozens" were just a coincidence. Not that they didn't intend 13-1 to be a core part of the setting, but that they didn't realize its connection to a baker's dozen at first.
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. :)
 

The release of Dragonlance has got me thinking about how I interact with certain settings. For me, and again, I'm not trying to make a broader point here, just stating my own feelings, some settings are indelibly linked to the story that comes with that setting. And, honestly, I'm not really interested in that setting beyond that story.

Take Star Wars for example. I love Star Wars and watch it pretty much when I can, probably like most of the people reading this. But, I am not really interested in a Star Wars RPG. The reason being, to me, if I was to play in Star Wars, I would want to play out the original trilogy but with our own characters. We would be the ones to defeat the Empire, or die trying. I've got zero interest in playing smugglers on the run from the Hutt. To me, that's not what I would want to use the Star Wars setting for. Space smugglers can be done in many, many SF settings without any real problem. So, why would I do it in Star Wars? Contrast to Star Trek where there aren't any single iconic Star Trek stories in the same way. I would have no problems playing or running in the Trek universe, set at virtually any time period, because there's nothing in the setting that shouts "THIS IS THE STORY OF STAR TREK!!" in the way that the original trilogy define Star Wars.

So, roll that back around to D&D. To me, I am only interested in Curse of Strahd because you get to deal with Strahd. The whole "domains of Dread" thing is of zero interest to me because the story of Strahd is so tightly linked to the setting in my mind. Or, again, Dragonlance. The War of the Lance is the only thing I'm really interested in dealing with in the setting. I don't care about Taladas. I don't care about the other time periods. To me, Dragonlance=War of the Lance and any DL campaign I want to play or run will feature the PC's directly dealing with the Dragonarmies. Playing a prequel where the PC's actions have zero impact on the outcome of the War is not something I'm interested in. I have zero interest in the setting beyond the War of the Lance.

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 agree with you on Dragonlance. I came to that through the trilogy and the story is pretty inextricably linked with my interest (it is worth mentioning to those who don't know that the original modules for that setting were part of that story: the novels and the setting were all pretty bound to together from the beginning).

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). I did like the novels, but there wasn't one story binding the Ravenloft setting in those. Strahd is just the most well known because he appears in the original module and he does appear in a number of the books due to popularity. And to bridge the gap between these two settings, my favorite novel was Knight of the Black Rose (where Lord Soth was the protagonist and Strahd an antagonist).
 

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