D&D General The Homebrew Settings of your campaign


There's two great discussion about favorite official and inoffical D&D settings, and people are bringing up their homebrew settings. Which I think is a fascinating topic in itself.

What are the homebrew settings in the campaigns you run and play in like? What's their overall style in environment and cultures, and do they have any specific concept?

In the new campaign I am currently setting up, I am using my new Shattered Empire setting. The concept for the setting is to be a world tailored to fit the style of adventures and campaigns that are presented in the Basic and Expert rules from 1981, which is more or less the foundation of West Marches campaign. The overall style of the setting is drawing on 6th century central and eastern Europe, a few generation after the abandonment of Noricum, Panonnia, and Dacia (the Austria, Slovenia, Hungary, Romania region), but also takes ideas for the historical background from the Wars of the Successors after the death of Alexander.
It is a great wilderness that at the same time is scattered all over with ruined fortresses and towns from the fallen empire, and littered with buried vaults of treasures and magic that were hidden away during the centuries of war, and forgotten when their owners died before they could reconquer the land. The empire is now fully erased and a distant memory to most people, but there continues to be a great distrust of conquerors and fear of another empire with centuries of war, that so far have prevented the rise of new kings who could unite a larger region under their own control. And as such, few of the old imperial fortresses have been reclaimed, and their hidden treasures remain undiscovered.

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Great Old One
Favourite homebrew campaign had an old world (continent), where magic was almost all used, disappeared, decaying after an endless war between duchies, and a "new world", full of the remaining magic an wealth, but also completely broken in the sense that it was just pieces of a world held together by strings of fate, manifesting as portals and connections. The gods were all dead but two, blind fate and dumb luck, as all the others had sacrificed themselves to prevent entropy from devouring the universe. Whatever faith / divine spark was left of a future for the world was channeled through memories of these gods and the above strands of faith into the remaining elder gods, who maintained a fragile illusion. Even death had been subverted, there was no afterlife, no resurrection possible, since all suplicants' souls was automatically sacrificed to placate entropy. But the wells of souls, where new souls were born, were also slowly going dry, it was a dying world a dying universe. And of course, the campaign was about changing all that, although no-one knew it at start, the adventurers were just indentured members of a final attempt by one of the Dukes of the Old World to gain some wealth to restart the war by sending an expedition to the "New World"...


Staff member
I don’t have a preferred style of homebrew settings. Each one Ive created has been its own thing. Major ones have been:

1) a post-apocalyptic fantasy setting. Races were from a wide variety of sources, many with substantial revisions.
2) superheroic version of Space:1889, extensively modified by additional, period-appropriate sources for inspiration, as well as anachronistic stuff rewritten to fit.
3) a “typical” fantasy setting, but all the races are anthropomorphic animals. (The PCs had PHB standard races; they had been captured by cross-dimensional raiders for restocking a hunting preserve…)


One I did (recently) for publication was Crimson Empire. It's Arabic/North Africa/Mediterranean based, with a powerful empire in decline. Its major enemies include a kraken-worshipping Viking empire, a far-flung wilderness populated with dragons, a yakuza-controlled empire with ninja pirates, an Egyptian-styled empire of the undead and a native american tribal realm populated by fey animalfolk. And there are dinosaurs in the lands between cities.

My original homebrew, Amberos/Dark Summit is a kitchen sink fantasy inspired by both Greyhawk and Forgotten realms. It's been in existance for some 35 years or so, so it has had quite a bit of development and has cultures that stretch the gamut of fantasy cultures across the globe, mashed into one continent, all radiating out from a progenitor mountain/megadungeon known as Tsre Vestu, the Dark Summit. I'm about to start a campaign in it in one of the greater kingdoms called the Silkna Kingdom, where the PCs will be mage school graduates doing their final thesises by being part of skyship crew that is hunting monsters (sort of like a whaling crew).


I have 3 main homebrew setting that I run

1) Six Kingdoms is a asetting of god kings, demigods, and avatars. The main gimmick are that the gods walk the world. Kings don't claim to have divine right, they do. They can grant spells, have divine ranks, and have epic boons. And not just them, the gods reincarnate themselves in mortals anytime they die. Holy Wars are lead by actual gods who mix personal, racial, social,and divine issue. So divine character involve themselves in the lives of adventurers, molding them to be the reincarnations of missing gods or encouraging them to kill gods so they can be their reincarnated into better versions of themselves. Or you can kill a king and become a god.

2) The PHB races including orcs, goblins, and giants are uplifted to their golden ages and their technomagical heights using their classical themes and grudges. However outside of the golden lands are disaster zones and dungeons.


Moderator Emeritus
I ran games in the same setting from 1989 to 2009 and then a buddy ran one last game there from 2010 to 2016.

This was Aquerra, an archipelago flat world, with a lot of focus on sea travel and conflict between religious factions that was several millennia removed from "The Time Before" when the world was dominated by a Pangea-like continent that was smashed into the current islands requiring a remaking of various civilizations. This was a top-down setting that I did a lot of work on and detailing and still have two thick binders full of notes about. I have two story hours in that forum for games set in that world, but between me and other DMs, we ran over a dozen different connected games in that setting over 20 years.

When I got back to running D&D after a ten year break, rather than be trapped by the past and trying to convert the setting to 5E after all the work it took converting it from 2E to 3E, I instead took a place from that setting that I always liked but never got to use much and was under-developed, renamed and re-mapped it and used that as the starting point for my current campaigns, calling it "The Republic of Makrinos." This large island is surrounded in temperate and sub-tropical swamps and had a mountainous interior.

The central campaign conceit is that PCs are not from this place, but are from what we call "The Known World" (no relation to Mystara), which can be however the PCs imagine it - it doesn't matter much, one conceit is that we're never going back there and the characters need a motivation for leaving. I describe "The Known World" as a scattered land of kingdoms and empires constantly breaking apart and re-absorbing each other, where most so-called "monstrous humanoids" have been driven to extinction and most other monsters have been killed off or put in zoos. Its age of adventure is long over, its evils institutionalized into virtues. It is sufficiently far from Makrinos that while it is possible for ships to reach between them, it is a long and harrowing trip that does not allow for easy migration or to stage an invasion.

This allows the players to learn about the setting (Makrinos) as they play and their characters learn about it. The core conceit about this is that characters can think they know whatever it is players think they know about monsters and lineages and the like, but that doesn't mean it is actually the case.

Put together this allows for two things:

1. Players to make characters with a wide variety of motivating backgrounds without it mattering if the details match the world they will be exploring.

2. Allows me the freedom (that I usually take anyway) to make monsters and encounters whatever I want them to be.

Makrinos itself is a republic with complex laws, customs, and voting systems (based on a mash-up of ancient Greece and Rome with some other things thrown in), so very different from the typical monarchies that dominate the political landscape of D&D (see Snarf's recent post), allowing me to develop a sense of "political foreignness" (not just cultural) as a backdrop the PCs can interact with as much or as little as they like.


My current campaign is a 13th Age campaign set on a continent that is loosely inspired by Eberron and the inspirations for Eberron (Indiana Jones, the pulps, noir fiction, early 20th century history, etc.) The continent is currently in an "interwar truce" period following a brutal war between the countries of the Free State Alliance on one side and an alliance of the Demon Empire (to the west of the Alliance) and the Queen of the Deathless Wastes (to the north). The world has roughly early 20th century "magical tech" (a functional train system, flying dirigible-type ships, etc.) and the war was particularly brutal because of it.

The Demon Empire is a human/elf ethnostate whose economy revolves around slavery, summons demons to do their dirty work, and views non-humans and non-elves as lesser beings who should either be enslaved or killed outright (depending on whether they are suitable for slave labor or "just monsters" in their view). Roughly half of the Free States are inhabited by the descendants of a successful slave revolt that kicked off the century-long war with the Demon Empire (and many continue to work to smuggle people out of the Demon Empire despite the truce). Some of the other half are the Vampire Kingdoms who broke the hold of the Wraith Queen of the Deathless Wastes after she allied herself with the Demon Empire and they joined the Free States during the war in what is still a fairly uneasy alliance.

The players in this scenario are "archeologists of the arcane" - they have been hired by the Archchancellor the Collegium in Freehold (one of the Free States) to delve into the places where rumors, myths and legend suggest that "True Magic Items" can be found to bring them back to the Collegium so they can be studied for the war effort. In practice what that means is that I used it as an excuse to rework some "classic" dungeons for them to do some dungeon crawling in as a more pulp archaeology sort of focus. Over the campaign they explored the Sunless Citadel, Forge of Fury, and Whiteplume Mountain (when orcs show up in those adventures they get replaced by members of the Infernal Legion as appropriate - the Legionnaires make great orcs in practice, like Nazis in an Indiana Jone movie). They were just realizing that their next mission was taking them into the Tomb of Horrors (and the look on one of my player's faces was priceless when he figured out what crypt they were actually entering) when the whole dungeon got swallowed by the Stone Thief.

it's been a lot of fun - we were originally just going to do an Eberron game but we did this instead so folks didn't feel tied to existing lore and everyone's been really enjoying it. I've also been having fun DMing some classic dungeon crawling with a twist after our previous 13th age campaign which didn't involve much dungeon crawling at all. I suspect that we'll do another campaign in the same world when this one wraps up unless the players manage to destroy it before we're done (the archeologist setup has been great for my table's play style - they really prefer a "mission" framework over other models of play, so I tailored it to them).


I run a mashup homebrew setting. Mostly Ptolus with the Holy Lothian Empire, overlaid over Golarion specific areas now. A bunch of Eberron, Freeport, Warhammer, Midgard, SpirosBlaak, Greyhawk, Forgotten Realms, 4e Dawn War cosmology, World of Darkness, and some Nyambe plus a bunch of fantasy analogue cultures as well. Some Elric, Alluria, and Castles and Crusades Aerth setting divine elements got used as well.

Mostly the big themes are the Holy Lothian Empire civil war and whatever the local setting of the adventures I am running are. So Freeport was D&D pirates with Cthulhu investigations. Reign of Winter was Baba Yaga and Narnia White Witch themes. Carrion Crown was gothic horror with a lot of Lothian overlay. Currently my Iron Gods campaign is superscience and barbarism with influences such as Star Trek, WH40K, Paranoia, Shadowrun, World of Darkness Werewolf the Apocalypse and Mage the Ascenscion, Acme from Road Runner cartoons, and Thundarr the Barbarian.


One I played in recently was a 5e Disney Princess themed game.

The world had different domains with classic animated movie themes.

A friend played a walock with a fairy godmother, she was pretending to be a princess. My viking pirate valor bard broke the Beast's curse by not breaking guest hospitality when provoked and by obliviously ignoring all hints that he was overstaying his welcome until in exasperation the Beast offered us rooms to stay the night, which act of hospitality was required to make up for the Beast's not inviting the Blue Fairy to a party years ago as a child.

The swamp bayou kingdom had issues with bullywugs and a bokor's curse that we got involved in.

We traveled Under the Sea to Atlantis to deal with a curse laid by a trio of Sea Hags on a mermaid married to a port city prince. The Atlantean secret police stole my sunken treasure map because the treasure ships I had sunk were too close to Atlantean cities.


I’ve got many homebrews but there are two I particularly like:

one is a human-only / PHB-races-as-optional-regional-variants, and where the fluff of all spellcaster classes has been changed but without altering the mechanics in any ways.

the other is a « you only get to play one of the following races: aasimar, automaton, girtablilu, sprite, or vegepygmy »kind of game. For the setting (called Dark Woods), think Dark Sun, but nature triumphed over magic and civilization. But now nature got insane and cruel.

Welcome, friend, to the land of a thousand tales...and a thousand vices! I merely jest, of course. There are surely many more than that, should you fancy to look in dark corners and partake the salt of questionable tables...whether it be tales or vices you seek! But let us not place the caravan before the camel, yes? Welcome to Al-Rakkah, the shining city of the Tarrakhuna, the Jewel of the Desert. Ruled by the beautiful and beloved Sultana Thuriya Salah al-Din bint-Karim Zaman sitt-Rakkah--may her reign be eternal and her coffers overflow--whose mettle has been proven in dire danger and determined diplomacy alike, Al-Rakkah fair glows with health and prosperity. There are, of course, dangers lurking in the desert sands and distant shadows, as ever there were and ever there shall be, as like as not, but that's what all those determined Adventurers are for, yes? Oh--perhaps one such as you! Should you have the coin in hand already, and find yourself in need of derring-do more than a good banker, make your way to Lady Safiyya's Coffehouse, where all the most impressive and lucrative--though perhaps not the safest--contracts are signed. Should you do so...may the Great Architect watch over you, for the better angels of your nature do not! Hah!


Steeliest of the dragons
My homebrew is a "kitchen sink" setting that's been getting built up and revised, edited and expanded, and edited and expanded, again, and again for some three decades. Pretty much any campaign can be easily fit into its myriad realms of magic, danger, glory and riches.

Do you want a heavy urban game with intrigue, courtly politics, temple conflicts and secretive guilds? Wander the streets and allies, innumerable markets and shops of the mundane to utterly bizarre goods of Andril, the Gem of the East. Dozens of wards, new and old cities, a wharf nearly a city all its own, and -of course- the Blue Crystal Tower of the city's three famous sorceress protectors, Andril's immortal Oracles.

Do you want to cross the high seas, visiting the continent's ports, whether the ancient Citadel of the Sea King in southern Mostrial or the kingdom of Grinlia's several trade hubs across the Arm of Tyris? Or seek exotic goods and unknown riches across the South Seas' pirate-haven isles? Enjoy respite and delights among the United Island Kingdoms? Find the mystic sea elf aquamancers said to inhabit a grand city deep in the Irion Ocean? Pick a port and set sail!

Do you want to delve the darkness of caverns and tombs... for wealth, for country, for glory, for power? Seek the ruined mountain fortress of Nor Tereth, felled to the forces of evil in the last age. Desire the legendary magics lost with the fallen empire city of Nane Tarem? Dare to trek the desolate monster-filled battle-plains of the Aeiri Kros? Covet the ancient treasures of the thrice-cursed spires of Nor Tyrilith if you can survive the surrounded lands infested with undead. Can you defeat the salamander soldiers of the flame-riddled Burning Desert in the Seven Sands of Thel? Or find the Black Desert's hidden Obsidian Abbey? Whatever did happen to that "Lost Land" of Yvir in all those stories? Venture to save the whole of the realms from the machinations of the lich-lord, Kren Dalek, or the dreaded dark drake, Ssenssaryn.

Visit the wizard of Towerton in his floating stronghold. Consult the vast libraries in sage-laden Flin, "City of Scrolls." Heed, carefully, the whispered warnings of the Emerald Tear's seers. Drink and hunt with the the Gorunduun barbarians in the frozen north. Learn the secret green paths of the Druids of the Ancient Order in their southern hold. Can you earn entry to the sealed elfin "immortal kingdom" of the ShiStaliir in the west? Sail to "the Magelands" of R'Hath to see their emperor's mystical gardens in the farthest east? Battle the Horken Federation in their "Broken Lands" of Thole. Ascend the "Holy Mountain" of Alhannan and beseech aid of its winged defenders. Have you a gift for (or require a favor from) the Witch-queen of Dunsmoor? Dare you accept the lovely Countess Karlith's invitation to dine?

Magics ancient and new, riches wondrous and unimagined, glory enough to live in song and myth through the ages, dangers to thrill and challenges to chill the soul... all yours to explore...here.

Adventurers! Champions! Heroes! I bid thee, most welcome, to...
the World of Orea.
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My group has been running home-brew worlds for several decades now, each one home to the PCs as they ran from levels one up to Epic (D&D 3.5).

My favorite was fashioned around a fantasy version of Rome, late 5th century. In this world, however, there are Elves, Dragons, Dwarves, magic etc. The various nomadic tribes such as the Hun, the Vandal, the Goth and Visigoth were played by Orcs, Bugbears etc. We had to remove the sunlight penalty for some of thse races, when attacking in an army, though we kept it place for individual encounters.

We overlaid the standard D&D languages with the real-world ones: Dwarven was Germanic, Common was Latin, Elven was Gaelic, Sylvan was Greek, Draconic was Chinese etc.

Part of the beauty was that we had the deep, rich fabric of the ancient Mediterranean world to play with, including legends from Greece, Egypt, Norse and Celtic cultures

One house rule we had was that, to bring back the dead you had to venture to the lands of the dead, be it Hades, Tor', Hel, or the Egyptian Palace of Two Truths. There you had to find the soul of the fallen one and find your way back. No Raise Dead or Res' spells, PC death became an adventure hook.

We also eliminated Teleport and its variants: Over land travel tends to drop away from many games when the party gains the ability to just blip' to their destination. Besides, there weren't any legends of such things in Greco-Roman tales anyway.

I wrote up some of our adventures in that world, as stories. Look for "Curse of Darkness" in the "Story Hour" forum, if you care to. They might still be there.

My homebrews tend to be worlds on the brink of big change that the party is actively dealing with. One was an island built by a super powerful Sorcerer that was long gone and everyone was fighting over it and the powerful relics found there. Another was a world infested with titans and soul devouring winds that forced everyone to live in the few magically protected cities. Pretty much always something that lends itself to a big campaign that reaches high levels and things get insane.

Lately I've been trying to homebrew in a different direction. Inspired by some of my favorite video games I've been working on a setting that is heavily focused on one city and it's immediate area. I want to get away from the big overarching plots and instead build a place where the players come to live and become intertwined in the happenings of the city and it's residents. I'm planning on using time skips to allow for training, stronghold building, and other activities.

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