D&D 5E What makes your homebrew setting special?

Magistus71

Explorer
So what is it that makes your homebrew special over one that can be purchased? Basicly tell me about your homebrew campaign setting.
 

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Plutancatty

Explorer
But seriously.
In all honesty, I don't know much about published settings, so I can't really compare it to anything I've experienced. plus, it's still in the making, so it doesn't have a definitive structure or feel as of yet. I must admit I like to gather cool monsters/subclasses/general homebrew I find on the internet and invent a reason such a thing would exist in my world-the results are pretty good, for what little I have so far.
 

Coroc

Hero
If you count standard settings modified as homebrew also, my greyhawk campaign tries to be historical accurate in technology, weapons and armor available to a renaissance time ~1550 -1600 A.D just without gunpowder or firearms.

You can buy things like pocketwatch, sextant, lanternshield all the goodies which came up around on a regular that time IRL
 


Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
The setting for my last completed campaign strongly fit into the overall plot arcs. I had the concept of ascension, of local deities (very similar to the Roman concept of genius loci) tied in with a Fisher King ideal of "The King is the Land, The Land is the King".

But there was also a concept of universal archetypes that the gods fit into (domains basically), and with more power became less choice - with godlike power you needed to fulfil (and stay within) your archetype. (Think a bit like Tim Power's Last Call and related books.)

Also Fey Courts were demiplanes that wandered in and out of contact, and for the first time in a while there was one that was connected. There was a difference between souls and spirits in this world, and elves were immortal but had a limited supply of spirits - no new elves could be born when they were all "in use" so elders would feel "the call" and "travel home" - kill themselves to release their spirits back into the pool. The pool which was a physical place.

The "big bad" of the campaign was actually the first-born of the Mother of the Gods / Gaia / Mother of Monsters, born prematurely with neither spirit nor soul - and no godlike powers, just potential. The campaign had no dopplegangers but this one could steal the souls of others and it's unfinished body would become on the outside as they did on the inside.

Any way, because this was the one creature that predated the original gods, if it ascended it would not need to fit into any archetype and would have true and unlimited cosmic power.

It was causing those of the "prime" plane and the Fey Court demiplane to fight and was trying to get access to their Pool of Souls for the "raw magic" of it, while also having eaten the soul of a new emperor to an "evil" kingdom and was putting in place a bunch of reforms and making it a nicer place to live - because needed people willingly accepting him as the authority over them as a different part of the Ascension rites.

In the end, we had a player getting the blessing of the King of the plane that humans originally came from back before they settled here, whom the elves can defeated ina war and were keeping alive, mentally broken, as a jester in their Fey Court, as a way of "salting" the land permanently (since the land was the king, so it was twisted), and he started ramping up a whole Fisherking thing himself, getting frontier towns and giant enclaves and such to grant him authority. Not expected at all, but great fun to run with.
 

Bitbrain

ORC (Open RPG) horde ally
First things first, me and my dad had to quit our D&D group due to a multitude of things beyond anyone's control.
I offered to DM a home-game for my dad and he happily accepted, even created a party of adventurers consisting of a Barbarian, Rogue, Druid, and Wizard.

What's so special about my setting?

It consists of two inhabited planets orbiting the same sun.

The first planet (and the one closest to the sun) is basically Dark Sun without psionics.
It is a desolate, sunburnt world where everything is crumbling into dust beneath a sky poisoned by sorcery.
The dwarves claim descent from the now-extinct duergar.
Town guards are often corrupt.
Everyone is terrified of the mage-Kings and their sorcerous agents, the Templars.
Yuan-Ti cults perform human sacrifices, collect the blood of their victims, and reanimate the fluid as "Blood Oozes" to fight for them.
Bloodthirsty gnolls prowl the wasteland alongside their allies: the horned Minotaurs and the skeletal Babau.
What very, very little remains of the Underdark is controlled by the grimlocks, trolls, and their hideously mutated masters the Fomorians.
City-state slave soldiers charge into battle alongside noblemen riding bulettes, while tamed dragons swoop overhead offering air support (the closest my dad's PCs have yet come to a TPK was against such an army disguised as a band of desert nomads. It was an INTENSE fight).
Halflings claim descent from the now-extinct wood elves, and yes, those of evil alignment are notorious for cannibalism.
You can be a Sea Elf here. The cultural history goes that your people fled the oceans after the waters became too acidic, and as the oceans have now mostly evaporated, your people wander the desert, although you are a bit more magically-inclined than the other sub-races of elves.

^this is the place my dad is currently adventuring, and he is really enjoying it. He LOVES how it is such a bleak, seemingly hopeless world.


The second planet is currently experiencing a global ice age so intense that everyone has fled to the Underdark to stay warm.
I'm still working on this planet, so it isn't quite as detailed as the first one.
 

Phion

Explorer
My world, Terra (creative naming isn't my strong point) has been expanding for a long while now, I did a one off about 3 years ago (was beta material at that point) which was basically the end of the world in a kingdom called Argentum and I kind of mixed a lot of established d&d lore (I would like to say it was intentional, but in truth I just do what I want when it comes to campaigns). My party played for 14 hours straight as they fought against Devil's that had breached through the planes and I decided that the generals would be based on the seven deadly sins and similar names such as Greed, lust, wrath and so on and so on.

I could write a short novel about that session, my players role-played to a level that I was actually proud of them, the kingdom was familiar but interesting to fantasy settings and the last 2-3 hours was a well managed war that took place which blended combat while maintaining roleplay with the loss of loved npcs (the eccentric druid Terrace who lived in a mushroom along with the trents will be missed, they defended a point in the mountains and in a final act of defiance upon seeing his treant friend kyle being burnt down, Terrace used earthquake to wipe out a large number of cultists and demons. That passage later went on to be named as Terrace pass). Not bad for my first time as DM.

Getting to the point, I started to expand on the world with new locations and themes such as detective work, survival etc but we went back to the past before everything was ruined. My players grow to love everything and everyone in the world but the occasionally reflect on the fact that they know that in the future everything they will see is pretty much killed/ruined and they all go quiet for a while taking it contemplating it. So it short a world that I have not fully realized yet that develops as we all do as players.
 


Oofta

Legend
My world has a long history, influenced by the actions of heroes from campaigns long gone. Old PCs show up as NPCs, tales of PCs of players the current group has never met still make a difference in the world and the current group knows that their stories may live on as legends throughout history. There are no Elministers or Drizz'ts, there's Bob's old elven character and my wife's old paladin (now a Valkyrie). The people that stopped Ragnarok are not some name I made up, they're the PCs from the last campaign with their children and grandchildren being played by the players that ran or ran with the original PCs.

In addition to that, the world is ours to build and explore. I don't have to worry about someone at the table having an encyclopedic knowledge of the world because they've read every supplement and novel. They want an ancient order of knights that is fading out that they can help restore? Great, I have one I mentioned briefly in a previous campaign, or we'll just add one that's always been there.

I've always enjoyed the creative aspects of creating my own world. How do the gods interact (or not) with the general populace? How can I tweak Norse mythology to fit a D&D style of play? What would a city of tinker/rock gnomes be like in my world (hint: think Gnomish Las Vegas)? If I ever do feel like using a supplement I can always change a bit of set dressing and use it in my world, I would feel more constricted doing it the other way around.

So what makes my homebrew special? It's a shared story built over decades (eep! I'm old!) with multiple groups spanning multiple states.
 

UnknownDyson

Explorer
In my homebrew setting there is a fictional society of people that would be considered black. And they aren't cannibals, savages, dominated by or enslaved by more traditional fantasy cultures, or living in a broken war torn husk of a nation.
 
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I have a bunch of wandering demiplanes that float through the Ethereal Plane. When one gets close the campaign world, things happen: for example when the Shadowfell gets close, groups of undead spontaneously arise, and it is a bad time to use anything that causes necrotic damage, because anything you kill with that might immediately rise as a spectre or a wrath.

Also some demiplanes grab humanoids (usually near a Place of Power) and in the case of the Feywild, drop off elves and/or gnomes. I have used this to enable the party to jump from one campaign world to the next (say a lose version of FR to a lose version of Athas).

In addition to the Fell and the Wild, there are the City of Brass (elementals), Acamar (abberations), Shavarath (fiends and celestials), and Sigil (pretty much everything, but no spontaneous manifestations in the campaign world). No one can see the demiplanes unless you get teleported to them, you can only tell based on the effects on the world or by using divination magic. The broader universe is still the Wheel, but planar travel is a lot easier via demiplanes.
 

Istbor

Dances with Gnolls
My Home campaign is set in a Roman like Empire. It has been the dominating power in this part of the world for a thousand years. Nations surrounding it either pay tribute and are vassal states of the Empire, or are sworn enemies, exchanging blows with the Imperial Host over and over.

The Empire seems strong, but something dark is stirring. Nobles hungry for more power, and bitter over the recent end of the Slave Trade seek to remove the current Emperor. They seek allies from wherever they can find them. Some, turning even to older powers. From this, the Old Gods, parents of the current pantheon are being awoke, or freed. Their servants while acting in line with this plot of assassination have their own goals.

What's more tensions at the borders rise, as a new green tide of Orcs and Goblins seems spurred into action from the South. The Slumbering Giants, and their northern barbarian soldiers once again raid and pillage from the North Cap Mountains. From the Deserts to the East a new an mysterious people make contact, and bring with them potential allies, and deadly foes.

I essentially wanted to set the world, safe and peaceful into turmoil. With the attacks on nearly all fronts set to occupy the Empire's legions (not to mention a possible War of Succession), it will be up to the Players to either save the people from these threats or carve their own nation from the rubble. These Old Gods have been brought back to the foreground, and with them, all their ancient servants, dark creatures of lore and myth.

It is an Open Sandbox. My players can do pretty much whatever they choose. The forces playing against their country will continue to accomplish their goals however they can, even if the players do not follow any story hooks to directly oppose them. It is still pretty early on. They only just now discovered something old and powerful which was released from a long forgotten tomb-prison, and word has only just arrived of the massacre of the Emperor and his family. They are scrambling to protect their current benefactor, the last known blood relative to his Majesty.

I want to see what they do really with this setting. I don't know if it makes my Homebrew better than a published adventure, but I certainly feel it makes it more flexible. If the players want intrigue, the coming War of Succession and play at court will be there. If they want to explore new locations there are un-mapped regions on all sides of the known world. If they want to delve into dungeons, the ruins of the past nations, and ancient tomb-prisons of the Old Gods dot the landscape. The whole Western border of the Empire is coast and islands, offering the prospect for seafaring adventure (some players are trying to start up their own Mercantile fleet/enterprise). You can stand against Giants and Barbarians. Cut a bloody swath through the coming Green Tide of Orcs and Goblins. Even discover the forgotten past and mysterious origins of the particular breed of Humans that founded this Empire, under the forgotten labyrinthine catacombs that lie under the Imperial Capitol.

I think that is what makes me enjoy it more than an official adventure. A wider range of possibilities. Especially for players new to D&D, and who have yet to learn exactly what they want or enjoy out of a campaign. Heh. A Golden Coral of a campaign, if you will.
 

steeldragons

Steeliest of the dragons
Epic
So what is it that makes your homebrew special over one that can be purchased? Basicly tell me about your homebrew campaign setting.

Well, for starters, it's "mine." lol. Anything I want to can happen there. Things (any races, classes, alignments, deities, kingdoms, creatures, etc. ad infinitum) can be there or not. Things can change on a micro or macro scale as a campaign or PC requires [or the DM, myself] wills.

I'm not sure what else there is that is "special" about anyone's homebrew. Making things more or less "traditional D&D" or "by the book/Forgotten Realmsian" or "wahoo/out there" with tons of weird races or super-narrow class options or making it a world of clashing elemental planes or invasions of giant invisible space hamster ninjas or whatever doesn't make a homebrew any more (or less) "special" than the carefully crafted internally consistent Tolkienesque world or some GreyBlackhawkmoorish "gritty low-/rare-magic."

So "special" isn't really a knowable quantity...or quality.

As someone noted above, use of one's imagination is "free." So that is also a plus.

I can certainly give you a run down of the setting (and some sample campaign/PC groups I've had over the years) later on. But I don't know that anything about it will be viewed as "special" by anyone but myself and players. ;)
 

Zmajdusa

First Post
No gods, Humans don't know about elves, halflings, dragonborn, dwarves, or gnomes. Renaissance, level of technology for humanity in its current day. Giants are a presence on most of the world, and a whole slew of other things that I keep to myself for when I run it.
 

aco175

Legend
All my campaign worlds have been small and similar, like western Europe. It is what my group knows and likes so I do not change it. My group likes to have things like seasons and forests, knights on horseback, and dragons terrorizing the villages. We my one-shot to a desert or jungle, but mostly stay with what we know.

That said we tend to play in a part of the world that is small. I have 3 campaigns going on right now around Phandalin, Leilon, and Westbridge. I used to play FR back in 2e and moved away from it and now came back in 5e. I find that I cannot come up with the world details better than this and locations to go with them and the people interacting all make a world better than I can. In 3e I had a world, or most of a continent that was passed down from a friend and his group. It expanded and each adventuring group added to places and towns, but most were moddled the same. 4e had 2 countries on each side of a mountain range with the good guys along the coast and orc and goblin forces having enslaved the other side of the mountains. The PCs were in the middle of preventing the goblin forces from invading the other side and freeing the people long enslaved.

All in all, I find that published worlds create a good structure to build on. I can keep making up places around Phandalin to create a world. The NPCs and monsters make a good adventure and the gods can be FR or homemade and not matter much. I never run into players not likeing something because it is out of character with the world.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
So what is it that makes your homebrew special over one that can be purchased? Basicly tell me about your homebrew campaign setting.

A few key things are different, within two broad categories. That is, things that are different because I wanted to try something new, and those which are different bc I tried to build the world without any “a dnd world must have X”.

One quick example each.

The world is better than its ever been. There is very little sense of a lost golden age, and what sense there is is purely delusional. The great empires of the past were less free, less prosperous, and less advanced than the current age.

There are very few humans, and amongst races with humanesque ethnic phenology, “whiteness” is pretty rare, and the world is much less influenced by western medieval Europe. The main European influences are 10th-14th century Spain and Byzantium.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
I run my home campaigns in a modified version of the Points of Light setting from 4e. I say Points of Light rather than Nentir Vale because my games don’t necessarily take place in the Vale specifically.
 

Irda Ranger

First Post
Going back to Greyhawk, and this is from E Gary Gygax himself, pretty much all the official D&D settings have strong currents of "Gygaxian Naturalism". Monsters exist, but they also follow the basic rules of non-magical biology. They lay eggs or have babies, get sick, are born and die like humans, etc. Dragon Magazine built a regular "The Ecology of the X" series of articles around this.

Also most of the OD&D and 1E settings were basically just Earth 2 settings with magic tacked on, but nothing really different about the world because of it once you got past the random encounter tables.

I've thrown all that out.

My campaign setting replaces “Gygaxian Naturalism” with “Magical Realism”. Most monsters arise from magical processes, not biological ones. Or they’re quasi-biological at best. Things like love and having children is what mortal (PC) races do. Orcs are created by boiling human or elf prisoners alive in Black Cauldrons. Goblins, hags, and trolls are Fey spirits who have taken over a mortal’s flesh and corrupted it (basically the same as Undead are spirits from the Shadowfell that have inhabited a human body). Kobolds are minor Earth elemental spirits that arise from mines; they are the dark mirror of gnomes.

Dragons do lay eggs, but only after swallowing a requisite number of gems and then producing eggs asexually; and the color of the parent has no relation to the color of the offspring (dragons also teleport regularly between worlds, so they’re essentially a migratory species across the whole of the Prime Material Plane). Etc. Etc.

There are a lot of ways to do magical things without being a spellcaster. Getting to the Feywild or Shadowfell is fairly easy if you know where the walls between realities are thinnest. You don’t need to be a spellcaster to go get your beloved back from a Lord of the Shadowfell. Many poor souls even end up there by accident just walking through the wrong part of the forest under the wrong astrological sign.

I also try to think about how spellcasting does work, and how that would affect society. Regular Charm effects mean that most rulers have rings of Mind Shielding as standard equipment. But at the level of society, what about Teleport? My current campaign is centered on a third-tier city in a borderland province of a loosely coupled Empire. But there is only one Teleport Circle allowed near the city, and it’s buried under a hill with a long tunnel that can be collapsed. A city-sized Private Sanctum over the city prevents enemy armies from Teleporting forces into the city itself. Yes, it’s an expensive endeavor, but so are tall curtain walls.

(Also, stone walls and tall embankments aren’t as expensive as you’d think. The Stone-Magic Guild uses Mold Earth, Stone Shape, Wall of Stone, and Move Earth to great effect. There are, uh, a lot of Guilds)

The Magic Initiate feat means that Cantrip-level magic is really common. Every army worth the name has sappers with the Mold Earth cantrip. (This in turn means that the Stone-Magic Guild suggests Walls of Stone should go as deep as necessary to fuse with the bedrock beneath the city if as all possible, and at least twice the height of the wall if not so that sapping cannot cause the wall to collapse) There’s a gnome-only Cantrip that allows them to smell the purity and alloy mix of any metallic object, and all gnomish money changers have it. Aqueducts are enchanted with Move Water to get the water over hills.

Animated Object magic isn’t just for suits of armor guarding the King’s Treasury. Animated Looms mass produce fabric. Animated Plows don’t need horses to pull them, and can plow a dozen rows of crops at a time. The level of development feels about the same as the Age of Exploration, mid-19th century.
 


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