D&D 5E When players design the setting...


A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
Here's my first draft for a campaign map:

Nice! One thing I really have missed over the past few years when work and family demands made home-brewing my own campaign setting difficult to find time to do is making maps. When I first got back into TTRPGs with 5e, I really liked playing with Campaign Cartographer, the various Inkwell software, and other tools to make world, settlement, dungeon, and battle maps. And the tools keep on getting better.

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He / Him
Some more updates before our Session 1 tomorrow!

A map of the Far Marches, the setting of our first few adventures:


A map of Wyvern Hill, the starting settlement the players came up with:



He / Him
Here's the campaign introduction I'm going to start with. The players are going to choose options for their characters as we go, setting up the very first adventure (which they helped design!). The players wanted to start as prisoners brought together to retrieve something from the wilderness.


All hail the Sun King!

For ages untold, the Sun King has kept the lands of the Elios Empire safe. In the warmth of his rule the farms flourish, the waves bear ships to welcome harbors, and the mountains give willingly of their iron and gems. But this was not always so. Before the Sun King, this land was ruled by monsters! Giant beasts, demons wrapped in the skins of men, sorceresses who claimed divinity… They tricked the ignorants of that time into worship. But we know better. For the Sun King descended from the summer skies and with one hand slew the beasts, with another exiled the demons, and with a look of fire turned witches into faithful worshipers.

All hail the Sun King! He warms us with his wisdom. He basks us in glory and fortune. The roads are safe for travel, and the table is heavy with food. Eat and worship. Turn your face to th Sun and feel glorious.

But the Sun King has not been seen in a generation. The gates of the royal city Solari are closed. Only those of most noble blood pass beneath the city walls, and rarely still.

Meanwhile, little has changed in the Elios Empire. The many arms of the Sun King- the Church of Radiance, the Valor Guard, the Vaultari Academies, and the Whisper Bank- keep the lands safe. And if the forests are a little darker, if the wind off the sea is a little colder, if at night there are howls in the moonlight… one must only remember to pray to the Sun King and o keep the Glory of Radiance in their hearts.

Or so you have been told.

But some know better.

A secret has spread, for those who are brave enough to hear it. The secret is this: there used to be magic in this land. There used to be gods. Eagles that could summon thunderstorms. Warrior queens with the strength of mountains. Forests that spoke with the thousand voices of the trees. It was they who kept the world safe. And the people of those times worshiped the gods, and were given the gift of magic.

Until the Sun King.

The Sun King slew what gods he could, and banished others. He hoarded the magic of the land, and locked it away. And always his spies seek out those who know the truth.

You know the truth. You know there used to be gods. There used to be magic in all mundane things. There was a time before the Sun King.

How did you come to learn this secret?

I read about it in an old, forgotten tome.I was taught by a wise mentor.I received a vision.I witnessed a miracle.I received a blessing by a god.
I heard a street preacher in a busy city.The truth was passed down in my family.I joined a group of secret worshipers.I discovered ruins that revealed the truth.I was told by another character.

You are now in chains. You were given a cursed tattoo of the sun, and the chain warden Salvir has only to mutter the right words and the sun glows and unimaginable pain courses through your body. He has dragged you, and a dozen other prisoners, north.

Why were you arrested?

I was caught stealing.I killed someone.I rebelled against a corrupt official.I was rounded up with a group of heathens.I was overheard talking about the old gods.
I am ot sure- I woke up in chains.I was blamed for a crime I did not commit.I broke into a forbidden place.I asked the wrong questions.I betrayed my loyalty to the Sun King.

Salvir and his cloaked servants lead you along dusty roads north of the Whisperveil Mountains and the Bannerman’s Forest. You pass the busy city of Riddle, and into that distant realm known as the Far Marches.

Where are you from?

I am from a small frontier town in the Far Marches.I am from a castle town in the Bannerman’s Forest.I am from an oasis trading town in the Desert of Faith.I am from a mining town in the Whisperveils.I am from a fishing village in Eel Head.
I am from an island in the Redwater Sea or World Ocean.I am from the crowded city of Riddle.I am from a tiny village in the wilderness.I am from the royal city of Solari.I am from one of the city-states: Vaultari, Doros, Altar Hall, or Valor City.

In the weeks you have been traveling, what about you most catches the attention of the other prisoners?

Where were you tattooed with an image of the sun?


He / Him
Session 1 went great! The players all had very tragic, involved backstories, they're really playing into the darkness of the setting. They were excited to see all their themes and choices represented in the campaign.


Yay! I love it when the players buy in to the setting. And that's the advantage of having them contribute to designing it, you're pretty much guaranteed to get a lot of buy in.


I had a thought when I was reading about your setting's Rat God. Who better to oppose him than an old owl god? Owls are thought to be wise, perhaps wise enough to have seen what was happening and hide away somewhere? Also, owls hunt rats. Just a thought...

Thanks for sharing your process and results.


He / Him
Due to scheduling stuff, we are only two sessions into the actual campaign... And the players are so invested!!! They just encountered an NPC they'd designed who is an anarchist freedom fighter and they were really excited. This has been a really rewarding process.

Voidrunner's Codex

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