Your baby: your own setting

Scruffy nerf herder

Toaster Loving AdMech Boi
Without a doubt, probably most of us here have made our own settings for a TTRPG; but which one is your baby? The one you put the most effort and love into. That one setting your friends might have to shut you up, about, because it's uber fun to think about and play in.

For me there's no doubt, but I've never given the setting a name. It basically takes late Neoplatonism, i.e. the writings of Plotinus and Asclepius and Greek pagan thought in general before it died out, and converts my hardcore love of that literature (especially for Aristotle) into a super spicy and fun setting.

Warning, the levels of neckbeardism that follow from here aren't for everyone, proceed with caution into this shameless lore dump, or please ignore it and tell us all about your super cool setting.

Beyond the outermost heavens (actual clouds that swirl around the Neoplatonic universe and shape all of reality), there is a fundamental thing, The One, and it is beyond mind and matter. In fact it isn't self aware; in a way it's the brute fact of reality itself.

Then, there is the Demiurge. The Demiurge is thought in its most pure and exalted form, and the Demiurge looks to the One as it is the source of the Forms. The Forms are the actual content of the Demiurge's thought and are the truest natures/meanings that make up all of the building blocks of reality. There is a Form of beauty, a Form for large and small, equal and unequal, etc. and the greatest Form is The Good. The One is The Good but more on that in a little bit 😉

So the Demiurge/Intellect, without exactly being aware of the universe, mulls over its own thoughts and this thinking moves the outermost heavens. The outermost heavens then move the spheres. More than anything else the Demiurge longs for the One, but cannot interact with or comprehend it. But somehow it can think about the One and in this way we have multiplicity arriving from unity. The One is simple and unified, but the Forms are not.

However, the Forms are also extremely fundamental and simple. Where are the Greek gods? They are the heavenly spheres (planets and stars) inspired by the outermost heavens to realize the Forms in the universe. They also are a tier down in awareness, and cannot see or understand the Demiurge, in spite of intense admiration.

What are the players? They're Greek demi-gods designed by the players, who must finish epic tasks in order to come closer and closer to deity. The world is filled with real places in Greece, Macedon and Sicily, and monsters and NPCs from all of the classic myths, e.g. Medusas, Chimeras, you get it.

Okay well why care about the gods or the Demiurge or the One, and why does everyone long to interact with the next tier up? Well in this universe the actual meaning of "good" is Reality. There is only evil in the universe because the Vessel (Space, the medium that the Demiurge has been supplied with in order to realize the Forms) is incapable of being fully real.

Beautiful deer die in forest fires, and bad things happen to good people because the further away from the source the less real something is. The deer doesn't die because the One is bad, it dies because it's way, way down the chain of emanation, where the Good that is Reality has less and less influence. It is why in the "real world" senses can lie, etc., something as basic as a rock is so unreal it's only an illusion. It is only there because the senses say it is.

The heroes want to realize the Good, to come closer to it, to understand it, to spread more of it in the world. The gods are fallible and can do wrong but they also want the Good and want to help the heroes become like them. So they give the heroes seemingly unsurmountable quests.

Ever wanted to be like Perseus, Hercules, or Odysseus? Have you ever wanted to battle cyclops just like they're detailed in the Odyssey? Then this might be your cup of tea.
 

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Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
I’ve got a post apocalyptic D&D setting I’ve put tons of work into, but it will probably never be run. Love it, though. It’s my #3.

I started doing a M:tG setting for Fantasy HERO. Figured out how to do mana…of different colors, even. Had workable Slivers. Didn’t have willing players. Again, a lot of work for a campaign unlikely to be run. It’s #2.

#1 was another HERO setting, this time for a supers campaign set in a Wellsian/Vernian 1900. I started building from Space:1889’s setting, and then liberally borrowed from other sources that fit. I had great player buy-in. I ran it for about 2 years, and IMHO, did my best job as a GM, ever. (Seriously- I had more positive feedback from the players about running that campaign than any THREE others I can name.)

When I dusted the setting off in another city with different players for a M&M2Ed game, it didn’t fare so well. Some of the reasons were my unfamiliarity with the system, a lack of player buy-in, and a simple dislike of certain mechanics. Another was that, for whatever reason, I simply wasn’t as up to snuff running the game.
 

jdrakeh

Front Range Warlock
The only time I went all in on a homebrew setting was back in the early 2000s. I created a world which had been stripped of most of its magical power by a confederation of tyrannical magic users, in which PCs were part of an underground resistance movement. The most notable rule contribution were backgrounds implemented in pretty much the same way 5e uses them, except that I set them up so PCs weren't typical heroes. One background that I recall was a power mad magic user who was out for revenge after the confederation raided his own high tower of wizardry; another was a battlefield surgeon who turned his skills in medicine to torture.
 




Without a doubt, probably most of us here have made our own settings for a TTRPG; but which one is your baby? The one you put the most effort and love into.
This has been, for decades, whichever one I'm currently running. At present, that's British India at the start of WWII. That's pretty complex in itself, given the huge range of religions, cultures and politics involved, but magic is starting to re-appear in the world, which will overturn a lot of assumptions, notably the British belief that they can continue to control India.
 

Scruffy nerf herder

Toaster Loving AdMech Boi
Thank you!

Man, your heroes and villains are a grab bag of different sources. I love the ones that have an anime art style that's something I really dig for my NPCs sometimes.

I'd want to mess with Kojiro the baseball bat guy. Then we get to the locations and I'm thinking "okay, ummm... dang it after I finish dinner" lol.
 

pogre

Legend
It is my current campaign world for 5e. I am a local area guy and only add in what I need to for the story. So, I started about five or six years ago - when we switched to 5e. I have run 5 campaigns in the world and each time more and more gets fleshed out. The latest campaign has had a lot more travel - leading to much more of the world getting done.

I have relied on players to give me ideas about their home areas and some of my players have written up lore and background, including new pantheons for various locations.

It's a patchwork and much of it is full of vanilla, fantasy clichés - it's an old-fashioned kitchen sink setting. However, building it this way has meant I know it pretty well and rarely have to look at notes. Leaving large areas uncharted means I can always borrow an area and throw new stuff in that intrigues me or my players.

I would not expect it to be of much interest to other groups, but it has been fun to build in this organic manner.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
I really enjoy worldbuilding, and have a list of ideas from the mythical and fanciful up through grim. My average campaign runs 4-7 years, and by the end of it I have only once set a new campaign in the same world. In that case it was 80 years later to allow what the PCs did to spread and have ripple effects, and to refresh problems, NPCs, and the dynamics of what was happening. I have more settings I've already thought up then I will ever have a chance to run.

My current homebrew setting is for my Masks of the Imperium campaign. All of the PCs are Mask Bearers - the 101 Masks are ancient intelligent artifacts created at the peak of the long-failing Imperium*, each that awakes only once every few generations as it finds a compatible bearer, and they take years or decades to fully awake, slowly granting more powers. The characters having authority from level 1 made low level adventuring much different than the usual fetch quests and goblin hunting, and that they all have legacy magic items that grow with them plus they can requisition any mundane equipment has made it the least murderhobo campaign I've every run.

* According to the Histories, but the players have found that the Histories have definitely been written by the winner, and often contain propaganda. The only who can gainsay this are the long-lived elves, and they have slowly become 2nd class citizens who have been "granted" reservations where they can live separate from the other races.

The world itself is the body of a dead god(dess), and all magic emanates from it. Her skull circles as the only moon - though most people think that's a legend because "yeah the moon does look a little skull like from the right angles".

The literal Bones of the Earth contained the highest concentrations of magic in the body, and the Dwarves were hording it**, so the Imperium for the good of all wiped them out and created the Drow (non-Lolth connected) to live in their underground spaces and mine it for the good of all.

**Read: The High-Magic Imperium coveted it, genocided the dwarves, and made a race to that couldn't stand the light of the sun to go into the dwarven strongholds and mines and get it for the Imperium.

The Imperium also created Halflings, a gentle race of agricultural servitors. (And also messed with the human noble bloodlines, which is where variant Humans come from.)

But the Imperium has been failing for a long time, a fraction of it's size. The Child-Empress Olixia, IV of Her Name, took such a concentration of Masks awakening at the same time as an Omen, and kept them together, sending them to a colony in a newly discovered land across the magic damping waters. It seems that once you get far enough from land, magic doesn't work, and the high-magic Imperium has used magical methods of navigation and propulsion for centuries. So the continent and various nearby islands and archipelagoes were known, but not this place.

Arriving at the new continent, they find magic much more plentify. Lost Great Spells of the 7th and higher circles of casting would probably function here! This is where the PCs started to realize that where they came from was very low on magic, a good reason while the wonders from the peak of the Imperium like the sky-trams no longer crossed the continent. It also contains high-magic creatures that no-longer can live near the Imperium, like Unicorns and Dragons.

To get back the the setting, the Imperium is vaguely Roman in description, including titles and such. There are known portal to the Feywild, most that can be unlocked and opened at particular times or with certain objects, songs, etc, though there is a huge permanent one in the center of the largest Elven reservation. (Which the players managed to mess up, but that's not setting, that's campaign.) Time is wonky between the feywild and the material, often at the whim of Archfey who control the various portals.

There are also portal to the Fiendish Lands, guarded by a order of Knights of the Sacred Flame (player created, otherwise I wouldn't have used the a name the same as Eberron uses). It was founded many generations back when the heir to the Scepter (symbol of Imperial power, not a throne or a crown) was seduced by fiends and a great champion was able to slay him as he attempted to summon fiendish hordes. But the champion was guilty of regicide, which accepted no excuse. So an order of knights you could join that were you could leave behind your whole life and take another, dedicated to nothing but guarding the portals, was born. (This grew from the background of one of the PCs.)

The new continent has a whole bunch of unusual combinations of races on it. I specifically wanted it to defy expectations. Like there are your "standard" giants in the Imperium, and they and the elves have warred for ages. But there are peaceful agrarian Frost Giants in the new world. On the other hand there's a large, extremely community oriented, kingdom of xenophobic forest gnomes who humanely collect blood as payment for any crimes or other transgressions against the community which the feed to either their leader or their god, it hasn't come out in play which. Their leading warrior caste are were-leopards, another point the party has yet to find out.

The Masks themselves have a lot of history behind them, and in case my players come by I'll leave it to say they are more than they appear.

Okay, that got longer than I thought, and it just scratched the surface. Next session is #35 and lots of things have been fleshed out.
 

This has been, for decades, whichever one I'm currently running. At present, that's British India at the start of WWII. That's pretty complex in itself, given the huge range of religions, cultures and politics involved, but magic is starting to re-appear in the world, which will overturn a lot of assumptions, notably the British belief that they can continue to control India.
I'd read the hell out of that, if it's online anywhere.

I've got a complete mutilation of ravenloft that I've been thinking about for a while, basically taking early-1800s england and ravenlofting it, changing the whole concept of domains to fit into a culturally and socially coherent world rather than a group of unconnected mini-adventure-settings floating about in the ether. Austenian manners, Frankenstein, long dragging Napoleonic-ish wars, colonialism, food riots, suffragettes, dark Satanic mills, the Age of Sail, gentlefolk animal-critters straight out of Wind in the Willows, Lord Soth as a legacy of a quasi-Arthurian past, elves as ex-fey so jaded they chose to become mortal just to experience the novel sensation of dying...

And there's a couple of long-pondered superhero settings too. The same world, one in the modern day, one in the WWII era. Though I've almost decided to write the latter up as a novel and try to sell it.
 
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Scruffy nerf herder

Toaster Loving AdMech Boi
It is my current campaign world for 5e. I am a local area guy and only add in what I need to for the story. So, I started about five or six years ago - when we switched to 5e. I have run 5 campaigns in the world and each time more and more gets fleshed out. The latest campaign has had a lot more travel - leading to much more of the world getting done.

I have relied on players to give me ideas about their home areas and some of my players have written up lore and background, including new pantheons for various locations.

It's a patchwork and much of it is full of vanilla, fantasy clichés - it's an old-fashioned kitchen sink setting. However, building it this way has meant I know it pretty well and rarely have to look at notes. Leaving large areas uncharted means I can always borrow an area and throw new stuff in that intrigues me or my players.

I would not expect it to be of much interest to other groups, but it has been fun to build in this organic manner.

This is super cool and reminds me of an old campaign where I had a world map from the start, but I kept marking it and adding new names and places to the map key.
 

Scruffy nerf herder

Toaster Loving AdMech Boi
I really enjoy worldbuilding, and have a list of ideas from the mythical and fanciful up through grim. My average campaign runs 4-7 years, and by the end of it I have only once set a new campaign in the same world. In that case it was 80 years later to allow what the PCs did to spread and have ripple effects, and to refresh problems, NPCs, and the dynamics of what was happening. I have more settings I've already thought up then I will ever have a chance to run.

My current homebrew setting is for my Masks of the Imperium campaign. All of the PCs are Mask Bearers - the 101 Masks are ancient intelligent artifacts created at the peak of the long-failing Imperium*, each that awakes only once every few generations as it finds a compatible bearer, and they take years or decades to fully awake, slowly granting more powers. The characters having authority from level 1 made low level adventuring much different than the usual fetch quests and goblin hunting, and that they all have legacy magic items that grow with them plus they can requisition any mundane equipment has made it the least murderhobo campaign I've every run.

* According to the Histories, but the players have found that the Histories have definitely been written by the winner, and often contain propaganda. The only who can gainsay this are the long-lived elves, and they have slowly become 2nd class citizens who have been "granted" reservations where they can live separate from the other races.

The world itself is the body of a dead god(dess), and all magic emanates from it. Her skull circles as the only moon - though most people think that's a legend because "yeah the moon does look a little skull like from the right angles".

The literal Bones of the Earth contained the highest concentrations of magic in the body, and the Dwarves were hording it**, so the Imperium for the good of all wiped them out and created the Drow (non-Lolth connected) to live in their underground spaces and mine it for the good of all.

**Read: The High-Magic Imperium coveted it, genocided the dwarves, and made a race to that couldn't stand the light of the sun to go into the dwarven strongholds and mines and get it for the Imperium.

The Imperium also created Halflings, a gentle race of agricultural servitors. (And also messed with the human noble bloodlines, which is where variant Humans come from.)

But the Imperium has been failing for a long time, a fraction of it's size. The Child-Empress Olixia, IV of Her Name, took such a concentration of Masks awakening at the same time as an Omen, and kept them together, sending them to a colony in a newly discovered land across the magic damping waters. It seems that once you get far enough from land, magic doesn't work, and the high-magic Imperium has used magical methods of navigation and propulsion for centuries. So the continent and various nearby islands and archipelagoes were known, but not this place.

Arriving at the new continent, they find magic much more plentify. Lost Great Spells of the 7th and higher circles of casting would probably function here! This is where the PCs started to realize that where they came from was very low on magic, a good reason while the wonders from the peak of the Imperium like the sky-trams no longer crossed the continent. It also contains high-magic creatures that no-longer can live near the Imperium, like Unicorns and Dragons.

To get back the the setting, the Imperium is vaguely Roman in description, including titles and such. There are known portal to the Feywild, most that can be unlocked and opened at particular times or with certain objects, songs, etc, though there is a huge permanent one in the center of the largest Elven reservation. (Which the players managed to mess up, but that's not setting, that's campaign.) Time is wonky between the feywild and the material, often at the whim of Archfey who control the various portals.

There are also portal to the Fiendish Lands, guarded by a order of Knights of the Sacred Flame (player created, otherwise I wouldn't have used the a name the same as Eberron uses). It was founded many generations back when the heir to the Scepter (symbol of Imperial power, not a throne or a crown) was seduced by fiends and a great champion was able to slay him as he attempted to summon fiendish hordes. But the champion was guilty of regicide, which accepted no excuse. So an order of knights you could join that were you could leave behind your whole life and take another, dedicated to nothing but guarding the portals, was born. (This grew from the background of one of the PCs.)

The new continent has a whole bunch of unusual combinations of races on it. I specifically wanted it to defy expectations. Like there are your "standard" giants in the Imperium, and they and the elves have warred for ages. But there are peaceful agrarian Frost Giants in the new world. On the other hand there's a large, extremely community oriented, kingdom of xenophobic forest gnomes who humanely collect blood as payment for any crimes or other transgressions against the community which the feed to either their leader or their god, it hasn't come out in play which. Their leading warrior caste are were-leopards, another point the party has yet to find out.

The Masks themselves have a lot of history behind them, and in case my players come by I'll leave it to say they are more than they appear.

Okay, that got longer than I thought, and it just scratched the surface. Next session is #35 and lots of things have been fleshed out.

Were you possibly inspired by Ymir the Norse creator god/giant, whose corpse is the universe? Also I was enthused to read how you're inserting steampunk themes into the Imperium and its use of magical technology. Oh and I hope my setting was even half as fun for you guys, as these have been thoroughly enjoyable to read.
 

aramis erak

Legend
Without a doubt, probably most of us here have made our own settings for a TTRPG; but which one is your baby? The one you put the most effort and love into. That one setting your friends might have to shut you up, about, because it's uber fun to think about and play in.
Most effort? That would be Aquanis... one hand drawn worldmap at 100miles to the inch, across 2 pages, lists of cultures and map overlays of languages... plus all the races in Hero System terms... and specific campaign rules in proper HSR4 style... I doubt I'll ever run it again.

THe one my friends helped me with, however, is the one I love most... Tellus.
It's the closest to a formal campaign setting I've done.

If I run it again, tho', I don't think it will be in D&D 5e. I'm more likely to do it as a standalone semi-OSRish engine of its own. (Yes, yet another OSR heartbreaker. At least it won't be yet another retroclone...)
 


Mezuka

Hero
The setting I created for the release of 4e. I wrote a 40 pages Gazetteer, drew a detailed map of the continent using Illustrator. Created new playable races, a unique magic system for humans and a complete cosmology. I had never created a setting with so much detail.

It was all online and got lost with the WoTC forum migrations. I may (or may not) have a copy somewhere on an old computer drive.
 
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Hand of Evil

Adventurer
Epic
Mine, I call Plateau. It is an area of a very shallow sea or everglade like swamp with mesas and islands rising a couple of hundred feet. On some of these mesas are city states. The swamps/sea are full of monsters that make trade difficult. Gnomes/dwarfs have flying ships but dragons and halfling air-pirates make that fun.
 

innerdude

Legend
I ran a highly detailed setting for Savage Worlds Deluxe, one where I created my own continent and city maps, detailed how time is measured, political setups for 5 different countries, etc.

It was a humans-only fantasy campaign, set in a pseudo-alt-historical real world where all of the old civilizations had died off in massive geological and climate disasters, and only a handful of original survivors (like less than 15) resettled a somewhat geographically different North America.

The campaign began 9,000 years past the world disaster "reboot," just as civilization began entering an "Age of Enlightenment / Age of Sail" period.

The main focus was a pseudo-monastic / scholarly / magic / political order with a strongly militant intelligence gathering component. Sort of a mix of the knightly orders from the novel Blood Song, plus Jedi mysticism, thrown together with a CIA faction that has no problem with "wet work". This order had exiled a large number of their people thousands of years before.

But then the exiles came back. And they were mad. And massively more powerful magic users than their counterparts that they had been forced to leave.
 

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