Shootout at the D&D Corral

Dungeons & Dragons has many influences, including European and American authors. Of the American influences, one genre is sometimes overlooked but just as critical: the Western. [h=3]D&D and the Wild West[/h]One of TSR's earliest founders was co-creator of D&D Gary Gygax's good friend Don Kaye. In addition to helping fund TSR in its early days, Kaye was one of the first players of D&D, even hosting Gygax's sand table in his garage. In the second round of playtesting, Murlynd would debut, a magic-user who was fond of Westerns.

Kaye's fondness for Westerns seeped into D&D itself; Gygax allowed an exception for Murlynd to use his six-shooters in Greyhawk, a world where gunpowder doesn't work. Kaye had plans to create a Wild West RPG, aspirations that were tragically cut short, as retold by Gygax in an interview with Scott Lynch:

As D&D was "blowing out the door" at the rate of over 100 a month by summer, Don began to look forward eagerly to doing a Wild West RPG. He planned to draft rules as soon as he could quit his job to work for TSR. We projected that would be possible in about a year or so. Don was very happy. Then, in January of 1975, he had a massive and fatal heart attack. He was only 36 years old when that happened. How ironic, I thought, as I became the first paid employee of the company in June of 1976, Don's birthday month, he being exactly one month older than I. Don was then and still is sorely missed by me. Brian Blume and I went on to create the Boot Hill RPG in Don's memory. He would likely have done it better.

Gygax never forgot Kaye's contributions. There's a section in the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Master's Guide that provided conversion rules:

D&D’s earliest GMs were encouraged to bring guns into their fantasy worlds in the AD&D Dungeon Masters Guide, which included a short section called “Sixguns & Sorcery.” This provided not only rules for converting between AD&D and Boot Hill (TSR’s Wild West roleplaying game, first published in 1975), but it also statted up several different guns. Derringers did 1d4 damage, while other handguns did 1d8 damage. Dynamite did a whopping 4d6 damage—or 6d6 if the DM allowed a saving throw!​
[h=3]The Weird West[/h]We know that Gygax was a fan of Westerns, but what's sometimes overlooked is how the themes of the genre carried over into D&D. Blog of Holding points out how Gygax's sources of inspiration had Wild West elements to them:

Re-reading Burroughs’ A Princess of Mars recently, I was struck with how explicitly it’s a Western. John Carter fights savages on dead sea bottoms, gropes through caverns looking for treasure, and fights weird monsters. And that’s all before he goes to Mars. The first episode of the novel is a shoot-em-up Arizona adventure which encapsulates all the rest of the book. Mars is Arizona writ large, with bigger and drier deserts, more savage natives, more accurate guns, faster horses, and more faithful dogs. In structure, the book is a lot like the Wizard of Oz movie: a reasonably plausible day, followed by a fantasy dream sequence version of the same events. The second of Gygax’s sources, Howard’s Conan, is similar. Howard was a Texan who wrote Westerns along with his fantasy stories, cowboys-in-the-Middle East stories, and boxing stories. It’s frequently argued that Conan is a Western hero. His martial skills allow him to triumph over the lawless savages and over the decadent “civilized” folk of his wild land. That’s what cowboys do.

For more parallels, a Hungarian author named Melan provides some much needed perspective:

Let us examine the world of the Western. What we see is wilderness. You can find a few settlements (mainly small towns) here and there, but the main stage for the action is the almost entirely uninhabited land. This is a rather important trope, as spotlights one of the main qualities of „adventurers”: the perform their acts not due to the social motivation or compulsion, but because of their own inner conviction. In the West – and in Hyboria or many parts of Greyhawk – the individual is alone. He cannot expect the Law to stand by or against him. The city guard (the sheriffs) are busy with the survival of their own little community and do not represent a serious obstacle for a sufficiently armed and dedicated guy. He has to create justice by himself, and his only reliable tool for that is armed violence.

This may be why recent Star Wars installments feel like RPG sessions, because they're both drawing on Western tropes:

It also follows from this logic that society cannot keep sufficiently high-level adventurers in check. In a world like this, social position is much less important than a strong arm or a sharp blade. This world is completely at oppositon to the High Middle Ages, and is much more similar to the world of tales where the youngest son of the poor farmer can become a king, he just has to defeat the giants first. This doesn’t mean that this sort of fantasy world cannot have oppressed masses, but it’s certain that it won’t be emphatic in the sphere where player characters move. A game can have adventurers be individuals located outside the normal world of bulls and feudal lords, or it can have the idealised American world hide behind the chainmail, the peasantry and the longsword. Here, the individual can pick up a sword or a gun as he wishes, and set off into the big nothing to make his desires come true. And when he retires and buys the inn in Dodge City, nobody will ask him if he got his first five levels from looting tombs and massacring orcs (bandits? indians? peaceful villagers?). What is certain is that whatever he achieved, he achieved it with his own strength.​

D&D is a mix of many influences, but its tone and style of play -- adventurers on their own making a name for themselves -- seems like it was influenced as much by high fantasy epics as it was by gritty showdowns in the Wild West.

Mike "Talien" Tresca is a freelance game columnist, author, communicator, and a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to http://amazon.com. You can follow him at Patreon.
 

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Michael Tresca

Michael Tresca

Derren

Hero
Sure. But, when it takes a day to travel 10 miles, just how much distance do you actually need?

[MENTION=2518]Derren[/MENTION] mentions Odysseus. Yeah, that's kinda my point. He sailed the Med. You realize that's about half the size of the Sword Coast right? The entire Odyssey takes place in an space considerably smaller than the Sword Coast. And yup, Muslims travelled to Mecca. Doing the Hajj is a once in a lifetime event that many don't actually do AND we're talking people who lived in the area. It's not like they were traveling much more than a thousand miles and many would be far, far less.

Monks traveling to India. Ok. But, as you say, from Constantinople. While still very impressive, it's STILL a shorter distance than what is represented in the Sword Coast. And again, let's be honest here, we're talking a tiny, tiny fraction of the population.

No, travel was not common. And, my point being that you certainly don't need these massive, ginormous settings to run an RPG. Good grief, the Sword Coast is larger than EUROPE. And that's just a pretty small slice of the Forgotten Realms.

And you completely ignore the Labours of Hercules which took him as far as Spain...
And no, Monks didn't only travel from Constantinople to India, they travelled to China. The preachers in India were also often Catholic and not Orthodox. So Rome and not Constantinople. Some even came from England (Mercia).
Also, have you looked at a map at one point to see how large the Umayyad Caliphate was? I wouldn't call that "in the area" of Mecca. Islamic scholars did also travel a lot in other cases. Have you seen the movie "13th warrior" where a islamic character from Baghdad visits Vikings? The premise of that story is based on actual travel accounts.

Face it, travel was a lot more prevalent in medieval and ancient times than you want it to be. Sure, peasants didn't travel much, but how often do you play peasants in an RPG?

I also seem to have underestimated the 10 mile a day speed. Other travel accounts show a much faster speed.
 

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Thomas Bowman

First Post
Sure. But, when it takes a day to travel 10 miles, just how much distance do you actually need?

[MENTION=2518]Derren[/MENTION] mentions Odysseus. Yeah, that's kinda my point. He sailed the Med. You realize that's about half the size of the Sword Coast right? The entire Odyssey takes place in an space considerably smaller than the Sword Coast. And yup, Muslims travelled to Mecca. Doing the Hajj is a once in a lifetime event that many don't actually do AND we're talking people who lived in the area. It's not like they were traveling much more than a thousand miles and many would be far, far less.

Monks traveling to India. Ok. But, as you say, from Constantinople. While still very impressive, it's STILL a shorter distance than what is represented in the Sword Coast. And again, let's be honest here, we're talking a tiny, tiny fraction of the population.

No, travel was not common. And, my point being that you certainly don't need these massive, ginormous settings to run an RPG. Good grief, the Sword Coast is larger than EUROPE. And that's just a pretty small slice of the Forgotten Realms.

But in the Forgotten realms, you could hire a wizard to teleport you there.
 

Hussar

Legend
But, again, we're talking tiny, tiny proportions of the population. Ok, Hercules travels to Spain. He's a demi-god. Not exactly your average individual.

All this aside though, my basic point is we don't actually need these massive, sprawling settings. I'd much prefer a smaller, much more detailed setting. Something along the lines of Ravenloft or the Dragon Heist setting of Waterdeep. I mean, if the Lord of the Rings setting can be contained in an area slightly smaller than Europe, I'm thinking that it's not all that hard to set most D&D campaigns in an even smaller setting. The entire Hobbit travels about 1000 miles. And that's an entire campaign. Again, let's not forget, a heck of a lot of empty space in there. Heck, most of the action (not all, I agree) of Song and Ice and Fire takes place in England and Scotland.

I think it's a mistake that designers generally make to create these settings which have quite unrealistic spaces. It's not needed. It's not like England or France or Japan is lacking in mythology or mythological creatures. The Sword Coast alone is about the size of the continental United States. It's freaking enormous.
 

Derren

Hero
But, again, we're talking tiny, tiny proportions of the population. Ok, Hercules travels to Spain. He's a demi-god. Not exactly your average individual.

All this aside though, my basic point is we don't actually need these massive, sprawling settings. I'd much prefer a smaller, much more detailed setting. Something along the lines of Ravenloft or the Dragon Heist setting of Waterdeep. I mean, if the Lord of the Rings setting can be contained in an area slightly smaller than Europe, I'm thinking that it's not all that hard to set most D&D campaigns in an even smaller setting. The entire Hobbit travels about 1000 miles. And that's an entire campaign. Again, let's not forget, a heck of a lot of empty space in there. Heck, most of the action (not all, I agree) of Song and Ice and Fire takes place in England and Scotland.

I think it's a mistake that designers generally make to create these settings which have quite unrealistic spaces. It's not needed. It's not like England or France or Japan is lacking in mythology or mythological creatures. The Sword Coast alone is about the size of the continental United States. It's freaking enormous.

Adventurers too are a tiny proportion of the population. And again, the proportion was not as tiny as you believe. For example Sweden had to make up special laws to stop people to run off to Byzantium to join the Vangarian Guard, thats how popular that was.
Or just look at how some mercenary companies were made up. There is a reason why the White Company, active in Italy, was also called the English Company.
Not to mention the Migratory Period in the 4th century which was defined by people travelling around whole Europe and beyond to find a new home.

And there is another thing you completely forget or ignore.
What if people don't want to play in Waterdeep or the Sword Coast? The more "sprawling" a setting is, the more different places are there to play in with different styles. Want to play a lower technology Viking or barbarian campaign? There is a place for that. Merchant Republic with lots of intrigue? Such a place exist. Shining knights straight from the Round Table? Covered. Something more exotic with an oriental touch? That is there too.

If you limit the campaign setting to just one tiny speck you have exactly one "style" and thats it. And whenever the players want to leave the tiny rectangle of your campaign, for example becoming guards for a travelling merchant just makes sense for the characters, you are out of luck and have to invent stuff outside of the rectangle on the spot.

And as it was said before, when you want lots of monsters to slay which is rather common in D&D then you need lots of free space for monsters to live in as it is quite immersion breaking when in your tiny rectangle there are three orc tribes, a group of giants and a dragon within 1 day walking distance of the city, waiting for level appropriate adventurers to slay them but otherwise are never encountered and also do not cause massive destructions despite their close proximity.
 
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Hussar

Legend
Whereas, for me, I'd rather have three settings - one for lower technology, one for merchant republic and one for shining knights so that the settings could actually be fleshed out and detailed, rather than a couple of paragraphs covering each one and expecting the DM's out there to actually do all the work building campaigns in that setting.

That way you get settings that are actually focused on those themes, rather than mashing them all together with lots and lots of bleedover.

Hey, to each his own. You seem to feel that you need thousands of square miles. I don't. I see no real problem with a tribe of orcs, a group of giants and a dragon all within a fairly small area. I mean, it works for the Isle of Dread. It works for Ravenloft. Heck, it works for Waterdeep. I just don't see the point in all this high level flavor stuff without any real substance.

Well, I do see the point. It's easy to write and doesn't require a whole lot of work and people buy it. So, why bother actually doing any of the real work when fans will just buy yet another high level over view setting and do the work themselves?
 

pemerton

Legend
The only mortal setting I've used in a level 1 to 30 4e campaign is the one on the inside cover of B11 Night's Dark Terror. It's in the neighbourhood of 100 miles x 200 miles. It has mountains for dwarves, hobgoblins etc; forests for elves, goblins, etc; a few villages and a couple of towns/cities; a swamp; some plains and hills including burial mounds. What else does a D&D campaign need?

(A fair bit of action has taken place in the Underdark - beneath the hills and mountains - and on other planes. That doesn't create a demand for a bigger mortal realm. Also, of course it's understood that there are places beyond the map. But the action has never needed to go there.)
 

Aldarc

Legend
And you completely ignore the Labours of Hercules which took him as far as Spain...
And you completely ignore that Hercules is fiction. :erm:

We may as well say that Dante proves that people traveled the planes on a regular basis.

And no, Monks didn't only travel from Constantinople to India, they travelled to China. The preachers in India were also often Catholic and not Orthodox. So Rome and not Constantinople. Some even came from England (Mercia).
Also, have you looked at a map at one point to see how large the Umayyad Caliphate was? I wouldn't call that "in the area" of Mecca. Islamic scholars did also travel a lot in other cases. Have you seen the movie "13th warrior" where a islamic character from Baghdad visits Vikings? The premise of that story is based on actual travel accounts.

Face it, travel was a lot more prevalent in medieval and ancient times than you want it to be. Sure, peasants didn't travel much, but how often do you play peasants in an RPG?

I also seem to have underestimated the 10 mile a day speed. Other travel accounts show a much faster speed.
I don't think that the point is about whether such travels happened but whether (1) such large scopes need be the focus of settings or adventures, and (2) the tendency in TTRPG settings to exaggerate distances while also underestimating travel (e.g., time, distance, etc.).

But in the Forgotten realms, you could hire a wizard to teleport you there.
Which would make it a privilege of wealth. Even in Eberron, where wide magic is ubiquitous, teleportation magic for travel is a rare commodity. But it also uses air ships and lightning rails.

And there is another thing you completely forget or ignore.
It seems that in your one-track mind to disprove Hussar that you are forgetting or ignoring something even larger: Hussar is speaking to his preference, and he has been quite clear about that. You have your own.

What if people don't want to play in Waterdeep or the Sword Coast?
Then don't start all adventures around the Sword Coast? Focus on another area. Stay there. Nothing is forcing everyone to relocate thousands of kilometers. But why does Forgotten Realms need all these areas? Why not play in multiple settings that may actually do these different themes more justice? If I wanted to play a lower tech viking/barbarian game, then Forgotten Realms would likely be my last choice. I would just pick another setting or make my own. (But as I think that Norsephilia is oversaturating the market at the moment, I am probably more inclined to avoid it altogether.)

If you limit the campaign setting to just one tiny speck you have exactly one "style" and thats it.
And? So what? I believe that is his point. If I am playing Ptolus, then I likely plan on playing in an urban city setting and that most play will focus on that one place. Beyond the Wall and Other Adventures focuses on exploring the boundaries beyond your village. There is something to be said for smaller-focused settings.

And as it was said before, when you want lots of monsters to slay which is rather common in D&D then you need lots of free space for monsters to live in as it is quite immersion breaking when in your tiny rectangle there are three orc tribes, a group of giants and a dragon within 1 day walking distance of the city, waiting for level appropriate adventurers to slay them but otherwise are never encountered and also do not cause massive destructions despite their close proximity.
Pssst. Monsters can travel too. So you can focus on a village but have orc bands coming from outside of the map of play into the map of play. And as you say, monsters need a place to stay, and your adventure may be dealing with the fact that several orc tribes are at war with each other because space is limited. Dragons may likewise be fighting for turf.
 

Derren

Hero
Well, I do see the point. It's easy to write and doesn't require a whole lot of work and people buy it. So, why bother actually doing any of the real work when fans will just buy yet another high level over view setting and do the work themselves?

And I thought giving the players only rough guidlines for their money and leting them work out the details was 5Es big selling point...

The only mortal setting I've used in a level 1 to 30 4e campaign is the one on the inside cover of B11 Night's Dark Terror. It's in the neighbourhood of 100 miles x 200 miles. It has mountains for dwarves, hobgoblins etc; forests for elves, goblins, etc; a few villages and a couple of towns/cities; a swamp; some plains and hills including burial mounds. What else does a D&D campaign need?

(A fair bit of action has taken place in the Underdark - beneath the hills and mountains - and on other planes. That doesn't create a demand for a bigger mortal realm. Also, of course it's understood that there are places beyond the map. But the action has never needed to go there.)
Just because you call it Underdark or Plane of X instead of it being a different continent doesn't change that they are in the end the same. A culturally very different place which is hard to reach. You only traveled downward instead of east.

And you completely ignore that Hercules is fiction. :erm:
And both Beowulf and King Arthur, both used as example for local adventures, are fact?
I don't think that the point is about whether such travels happened but whether (1) such large scopes need be the focus of settings or adventures, and (2) the tendency in TTRPG settings to exaggerate distances while also underestimating travel (e.g., time, distance, etc.).

Which would make it a privilege of wealth. Even in Eberron, where wide magic is ubiquitous, teleportation magic for travel is a rare commodity. But it also uses air ships and lightning rails.

It seems that in your one-track mind to disprove Hussar that you are forgetting or ignoring something even larger: Hussar is speaking to his preference, and he has been quite clear about that. You have your own.

Then don't start all adventures around the Sword Coast? Focus on another area. Stay there. Nothing is forcing everyone to relocate thousands of kilometers. But why does Forgotten Realms need all these areas? Why not play in multiple settings that may actually do these different themes more justice? If I wanted to play a lower tech viking/barbarian game, then Forgotten Realms would likely be my last choice. I would just pick another setting or make my own. (But as I think that Norsephilia is oversaturating the market at the moment, I am probably more inclined to avoid it altogether.)

And? So what? I believe that is his point. If I am playing Ptolus, then I likely plan on playing in an urban city setting and that most play will focus on that one place. Beyond the Wall and Other Adventures focuses on exploring the boundaries beyond your village. There is something to be said for smaller-focused settings.

Pssst. Monsters can travel too. So you can focus on a village but have orc bands coming from outside of the map of play into the map of play. And as you say, monsters need a place to stay, and your adventure may be dealing with the fact that several orc tribes are at war with each other because space is limited. Dragons may likewise be fighting for turf.

Small boxed settings work for railroads which the players dutifully follow and never question when another CR appropriate threat appears from outside of the box.
But in a more sandbox game the players interest can easily carry the PCs outside of the limited boundaries, like for example when they want to bring the fight to the orcs instead of waiting for them to come.
Others might start to roll their eyes when there is yet another treasure and monster filled ruin a few days from a big population centre which for some strange reason has not been looted.
And for some, the ability to travell is simply part of their immersion. Travel was not that uncommon and especially people like the PCs were prone to travel a lot.

A setting for every type of gameplay? That would be WotC wer dream, but few people would be willing to shell out another $20 just to play something else than a primarily human melting pot metropolis and then pay another $20 to try out a feudal wildernes game.
Most people on the other hand would instead just buy a single book which gives them the framework for all of that. After all, how much of the extremly fine detail of the 100x100 box setting would they use anyway instead of throwing it out and do their own thing?

Small local settings work for groups where everyone is on board with staying in the box because it offers exactly what they want. But WotC can't exactly poll every gaming group to see what box they want. And publishing dozens of tiny boxsettings will not be accepted by the players.
 
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Aldarc

Legend
And both Beowulf and King Arthur, both used as example for local adventures, are fact?
They are examples that even great epic, mythical stories work well when locally confined. It's not as if Hussar is using them as historical fact. What's more, it's much easier for fictive characters to travel when they are not bound by the same historical, socio-economic, or logistical restrictions as actual people. And such fictive travel narratives often exaggerate this to give the narrative a sense of vast scale, often cosmological.

Yes, Batman (and his Bat Family) travels all across the DC Universe and its Multiverse, and yet the vast of his stories focus on Batman in Gotham, which seems to have ample room for his greatest foes and allies and then some.

Small boxed settings work for railroads which the players dutifully follow and never question when another CR appropriate threat appears from outside of the box.
Woah. Offensive, baseless assumptions with unwarranted attached value judgments detected. IME, it's the opposite. Most sandbox adventures focus on smaller settings that permit the DM to slowly flesh out and expand the area provided as the players explore, while generally providing a town as a base of operations for most of the adventure. Beyond the Wall and Other Adventures (a 1e retro clone) is a great example of that. Many sandboxes and Story Now games often want to stress getting to know the people of a town and developing a sense of place for the PCs. Although the space may appear smaller, it is often far more open in terms of content. In contrast, most published railroad adventures have the players as tourists that takes them across vast locations from point A to B to C. Hello, Pathfinder and WotC adventure paths. Likewise, many of Monte Cook's pre-written adventures for Numenera tend to feature setting tourism via railroads. In contrast, as Numenera 2 has shifted to a more local focus of building a community with the relics of the past in the surrounding area, the game has become far more sandbox and noticeably less Ninth World tourism. And Ptolus? An urban sandbox.

A setting for every type of gameplay? That would be WotC wer dream, but few people would be willing to shell out another $20 just to play something else than a primarily human melting pot metropolis and then pay another $20 to try out a feudal wildernes game.
Most people on the other hand would instead just buy a single book which gives them the framework for all of that. After all, how much of the extremly fine detail of the 100x100 box setting would they use anyway instead of throwing it out and do their own thing?

Small local settings work for groups where everyone is on board with staying in the box because it offers exactly what they want. But WotC can't exactly poll every gaming group to see what box they want. And publishing dozens of tiny boxsettings will not be accepted by the players.
Ahoy wayfarer! Have you traveled beyond the Realms and what WotC has to offer, because TTRPG is more than simply Forgotten Realms and WotC. There are other companies and settings in this world of TTRPGs. And Hussar is speaking about something that he wants to see on the whole and not just within the more restricted confines that you speak about. The Realms is just one of the most egregious examples of the setting scope that Hussar buckles against, though Ravenloft shows that 5era WotC is capable of writing along a smaller scale.
 

pemerton

Legend
Just because you call it Underdark or Plane of X instead of it being a different continent doesn't change that they are in the end the same.
The same as what? The underdark is half-a-dozen caverns of various sizes and some imagined tunnels linking them. It's hardly thousands of square miles of setting!

Small boxed settings work for railroads
They also work for non-railroads - as per my post. And no setting has had more railroads run in ithan the Forgotten Realms!

most published railroad adventures have the players as tourists that takes them across vast locations from point A to B to C. Hello, Pathfinder and WotC adventure paths. Likewise, many of Monte Cook's pre-written adventures for Numenera tend to feature setting tourism via railroads.
Right.

If I wanted to play a lower tech viking/barbarian game, then Forgotten Realms would likely be my last choice. I would just pick another setting or make my own. (But as I think that Norsephilia is oversaturating the market at the moment, I am probably more inclined to avoid it altogether.)
It's hardly necessary to have a setting (in the FR sense) to play a vikings game! Depending on system, a map may or may not be necessary - but mostly if you narrate a few longhouses, a few hills/mountans and some fjords you'll be fine!
 

Hussar

Legend
Yes, [MENTION=42582]pemerton[/MENTION], we're supposed to forget that pretty much every continent in the real world features caverns that are miles, if not tens of miles long. And, a bunch of unlooted tombs within walking distance? Egypt anyone? Heck, I live in Japan. You can't go ten feet without tripping over some tomb. Didn't some kid just find a thousand year old sword in a lake in Switzerland or Sweden or something like that?

Again, I really get the sense that folks just don't really get how OLD most of the world is. It's not like America where the oldest man made structures are only a couple of centuries. I mean, heck, you can walk from Phnom Pehn to Angkor Wat in a few days (the river goes right there - by motorboat it's three hours), yet a city of over a million inhabitants was almost completely lost until the 19th century.

Good grief, they discover tombs and whatnot pretty much weekly in places like Jerusalem. And this is a place that has been constantly inhabited for thousands of years. Good grief, they are STILL finding tombs and whatnot in England that no one knew about.

This notion that apparently English peasants traveled hundreds or even thousands of miles on a regular basis is just a bizarre view of history. Sure, people traveled. Yes, that's true. The overwhelming majority of them didn't though. Yet, all these places STILL manage to have rich histories with all sorts of stories and legends. Again, I live in Japan. Now here's a country where people REALLY didn't travel. For centuries. Other than the very highest levels of society, no one traveled more than a couple of days. Well, them and pirates. :D

Is anyone seriously going to claim that you couldn't run a pretty darn interesting campaign set in feudal Japan? I've seen at least half a dozen RPG's that would disagree with you.
 

pemerton

Legend
[MENTION=22779]Hussar[/MENTION], absolutely. I've never lived in a non-settler colony country, but I've been a tourist in Egypt, in Morocco, in Zanzibar, in Palestine and Israel. And I have run an interesting campaign set in a fantasy version of feudal Japan!
 

Aldarc

Legend
Good grief, they discover tombs and whatnot pretty much weekly in places like Jerusalem. And this is a place that has been constantly inhabited for thousands of years. Good grief, they are STILL finding tombs and whatnot in England that no one knew about.
The inhabitants of Renaissance Rome were discovering, exploring, and uncovering ruins within their own ancient city.

The Prydain Chronicles of Lloyd Alexander take place entirely within a fantasy version of Wales. Wales. It is epic fantasy with lots of travel, but by D&D standards of geography, the setting would be downright pedestrian.
 

Thomas Bowman

First Post
The inhabitants of Renaissance Rome were discovering, exploring, and uncovering ruins within their own ancient city.

The Prydain Chronicles of Lloyd Alexander take place entirely within a fantasy version of Wales. Wales. It is epic fantasy with lots of travel, but by D&D standards of geography, the setting would be downright pedestrian.

No magic, that's why!
 


Hussar

Legend
How do you explain A Song of Ice and Fire then? Other than some bit pieces, the vast majority of the action takes place in a fantasy version of upside down England and Scotland. It's not like ASoF doesn't have magic. Tad William's Osten Ard from The Dragonbone Chair series isn't very big at all. Days of travel, not weeks and certainly not months.

Heck, I look at the town I live in. Within 10 miles of where I'm sitting right now, there is a 1500 year old tomb, a 1000 year old temple, several limestone cave systems plus several more small caves, a couple of mountains, a marsh, a 500 year old (I think, I'm not exactly sure) ruined castle on top of a large hill, and more bloody temples and shrines than you can shake a stick at. Oh, and a coastline where all sorts of nasty beasties could come from. And all of that is within an easy day's walk.

Expand that to the single island of Kyushu? Good grief, there's so much adventure fodder stuff here that you couldn't possibly do it justice. And Kyushu's hardly big. It's only about 400 miles long, maybe 500. Just to give you an idea of what it actually means to be an old country, the town I live in, which is only 15 miles from a major city, has a distinct accent from that city. People can tell that someone is from this town (or a neighboring town) rather than from the city that's easy walking distance.

That's why I don't really like these massive, sprawling settings. Even in 3e, all we typically got were high altitude views of different areas of Forgotten Realms. Which really does a disservice to creating a setting with any depth. I have to give Paizo props here for how they have presented Golarian. You get a region AND an entire campaign with each region. It's not like you have to travel half the bloody continent in the Paizo AP's. Most of them are confined to a fairly small region. It's, IMO, a much, much better way to present a setting.
 

Derren

Hero
How do you explain A Song of Ice and Fire then? Other than some bit pieces, the vast majority of the action takes place in a fantasy version of upside down England and Scotland. It's not like ASoF doesn't have magic. Tad William's Osten Ard from The Dragonbone Chair series isn't very big at all. Days of travel, not weeks and certainly not months.

An England large enough to also contain Spain (Dorne) and Skandinavia (Iron Island).
And the plots that happen in Italy (Bravos), Mongolia (Grass Sea) and Arabia (Mereen) are quite significant and not just "some bit piece".
 
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Hussar

Legend
An England large enough to also contain Spain (Dorne) and Skandinavia (Iron Island).
And the plots that happen in Italy (Bravos), Mongolia (Grass Sea) and Arabia (Mereen) are quite significant and not just "some bit piece".

Yes, because cherry picking examples and ignoring the larger argument makes your point so well. :rant:

But, hey, feel free to ignore things like the fact that the Sword Coast, never minding the larger Forgotten Realms setting, is LARGER than Europe. In other words, most of those places you just named off would fit in about a quarter of the Sword Coast map. Thank you for proving my point. These ginormous settings are very much useless as far as I'm concerned and really unrealistic.

Here's something to put it in perspective:

35b9f565d1d472f7d94f585c5e246941.jpg
 

Derren

Hero
Yes, because cherry picking examples and ignoring the larger argument makes your point so well. :rant:

But, hey, feel free to ignore things like the fact that the Sword Coast, never minding the larger Forgotten Realms setting, is LARGER than Europe. In other words, most of those places you just named off would fit in about a quarter of the Sword Coast map. Thank you for proving my point. These ginormous settings are very much useless as far as I'm concerned and really unrealistic.

Here's something to put it in perspective:

35b9f565d1d472f7d94f585c5e246941.jpg

Not my problem that you bring bad examples and cherry pick from Ice&Fire while completely ignoring that the plot of it spans most of Europe and Asia if put into real world terms or that according to GRRM Westeros (England+Scotland) is about as large as South America.
 

Hussar

Legend
Not my problem that you bring bad examples and cherry pick from Ice&Fire while completely ignoring that the plot of it spans most of Europe and Asia if put into real world terms or that according to GRRM Westeros (England+Scotland) is about as large as South America.

Yeah, did a bit of extra digging. They extrapolate the size of Westeros based on the description of the Wall. Fair enough.

So, yup, you are technically right on that one. And technically right is the best kind of right. Well done you.
 

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