Sunday, April 19, 2009

What makes an awesome campaign setting?

A bit about me
Hello! I'm Brian, I stopped having birthdays at 40. I have a 10 year old son who wants to be the next Tony Hawk. I lived most of my life in Michigan, but moved to Georgia in '07. I'm not a writer, but I like to pretend I am. I'm really a computer programmer but I like to pretend I'm not.

I've been playing D&D since the early 80's. I was the DM for my first group of players and always loved the creative aspects of the hobby. I've been "published" as a 3D & 2D artist...

  • 8/6/06 - Darkness over Daggerford (Ossian Studios) - module for Neverwinter Nights
  • 4/29/08 - Mysteries of Westgate (Ossian Studios) - module for Neverwinter Nights 2

Since '91 John has been my DM more often then not. There was a void for a period of time we no longer speak of, but that's in the past. Oh... and then one time in a game of Battletech my mech unloaded on John's mech (my ally) in the back with everything I had... I was bored and had been in the corner of the battle mat all day. That's in the past too, but he still mentions that from time to time - go figure.

What makes an awesome campaign setting?
John and I tend to see D&D through a similar lens and I was thrilled when he invited me to work on Cavernia! He had laid out a really cool idea for a world driven underground and I was immediately interested in helping out. As I started helping out with Cavernia, the one question I asked myself was what makes an awesome campaign setting?

My answer was the same answer I gave myself when I built my own campaign worlds. I've always felt that a fantastic, rich, multi-pantheon setting is key to a successful campaign. As a DM that looked at other campaigns for guidance, I never liked exhaustively boring theology write ups, but I did want enough meat to get the creative juices flowing.

Cavernia is shaping up to be just that. As I write my first blog ever, I'm in the process of putting spit-n-polish on one of the pantheons. I'm taking the time to get into the head of every deity in this pantheon by using personality quiz techniques for writers from a book called What Would Your Character Do by Eric and Ann Maisel. The results have been very satisfying as I feel the entities are getting very "real" personalities.

The other nice thing about a well fleshed out set of pantheons is that they tend to spawn adventure ideas. If, as a DM, you imagine the NPCs of your world going about their business and some are dedicated to a god, adventure ideas just start spawning from the natural conflicts that would occur. In my Soltyde campaign, I got an entire plot out of the Hextor/Heironeus deities from the 3.5 PHB.

So, that's just one of our goals. I'm sure we'll write about more in future blogs.

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