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  Click here to go to the first special guest post in this thread.   Thread: Commercial worlds vs. Homegrown worlds

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    Commercial worlds vs. Homegrown worlds

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    This could have been listed under Horror with the Ravenloft or Sci-fi with Gamma World, Traveller and Star Frontiers, or even Fantasy with Grayhawk, Pendragon or Forgotten Realms. Actually the list goes on pretty much indefinably as game worlds are invented all the time.

    My question for your discussion is: Which do you prefer? And Why?

    What are the Pros and Cons of each in your opinion. Do you use both at different times or do you combine both together at the same time?

    Just curious.

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    To me a world is a world. It's a setting.

    To me, it's like a movie.

    If I want to read about and play in the Birthright or Greyhawk movie / RPG, then i'm all for it.

    If I look at the cover blurb and read reviews that this sin't something I'm up for, I pass it by.

    Doesn't matter if it's store bought or home made or whatever, it's all a creative work by someone. Presentation, details, all of that go into my perception of it.

    This is why I have some games by certain companies and other of their games, I don't mess with.

    I like Greyhawk, I like Birthright, I like old forgotten Realms. I am not enamoured of many points of light a la 4e.

    I like mongoose traveller, I like GDW Traveller. I don't like GURPS Traveller.

    But I like GURPS wild West, and I don't play other mongoose games, like Revised Runequest.

    But I'm a fan of the original. All in presentation, and presentation doesn't have to be slick & Glossy. It could be the most cheaply typed up thing, but if it has heart, and appeals to me, i'll play it. Tunnels & Trolls, for example.

    That's how I see it.

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    To me, it's about the quality of the ideas and not necessarily the package they are wrapped up in or who it comes from.

    There are plenty of good, interesting and original published settings out there. As Etarnon said, I generally look into a setting and decide if its ideas intrigue me enough to want to buy it.

    Even with prepublished settings, it's very rare that I adopt them whole-cloth without ending up injecting some of my own twists and ideas into them. That's not because the settings are bad, often quite the opposite, but just because I like to be creative and involved as a GM and want to take ownership of the campaign. In fact, a really good setting should often get you excited to create your own home-brewed ideas within it. A good setting is the springboard for your imagination.

    I've also played in home-brew settings before and some of them were quite fun. In most cases, they were often inspired themselves by other settings, movies, books, etc.

    I recommend people to play settings that interest them regardless of where they come from. If you restrict yourself to "only mass-published" or "only home-brew", you are really missing out on a lot of what makes RPGs so unique. Also consider settings/games from different companies. Again, there's a lot of good stuff out there if you're willing to broaden your horizons.
    HARRY DRESDEN WIZARD
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    I can go for either. It really comes down to how prepared the DM/GM is for their game. As long as there is a flow, I am good with doing either. Now granted, if someone uses a published setting of some sort, it will mean that there is not quite as much work needed to get things ready. Now a complete home grown setting would be the exact opposite since there isn't alot of information to just expand upon.

    For myself, since I wanted to get a game going as soon as possible, that is why I used a premade module to begin with. Most of the basic information is provided and I just have to develope the different segments to make them interesting. Now as for making a home grown setting, the GM/DM has alot more work cut out for them. There is nothing to start from, so you have to come up with some type of scenerio to get things going. I had started working on my own game world setting to use, but since the start of the premade campaign, I have not had the extra time to work on it. You might almost think that it would take twice the amount of time to work up a homemade game, but from my personal experience, it seems to be more like 3 or 4 times, instead.

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    As mentioned, they are all a creative effort.

    The thing is that all games passed a certain "age" are homegrown. They might start with say, Greyhawk, but it soon becomes "Joe's Greyhawk" because the players will change the world as they play in same.

    It's one of the reasons I avoid the "living" worlds of the RPGA. They are as alive as Dizzny World. The modules are exactly like theme park rides, the same for everyone that goes though them. Come back a year later the ride is the same as the last time you saw it.

    A truly living world changes and evolves with the game it is part and parcel of. I think I could play in nearly any truly living world.

    Garry AKA --Phoenix-- Rising above the Flames.
    My favorite game console is a table and chairs.
    The Olde Phoenix Inn

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    Way way back when I started playing, I went with a home grown setting. I have a world map, maps of the continents, city maps, and other such things.

    The main issue I found when I tried to run a canned adventure was that the folk I played with had already read it and knew what to do. I knew this because I'd change things around and someone would complain about the missing whatever.

    Since I was making changes to the canned adventure anyway, I just went ahead and did my own. I started off with using the Dungeon Geomorphs (then the City Geomorphs), copy them to a sheet of graph paper and then blocking out places here and there. Then I'd think about the Ecology of the dungeon and create lairs and other ways for the denizens to survive. Finally I'd generate up random treasure but convert it into gear. Nothing like coming upon the skeleton of a mule and halfling with gear and a couple of coins to hork off the players

    Carl
    GMing: Shadowrun 4th
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    a lot of good points here.

    One of the largest failings of homebrew stuff is.. you have to explain all of it.

    Whereas if you are running Star Trek, Star Wars, Forgotten Realms, etc, there is an established standard, and some people have seen it or know it.

    But my own Orcish lands of Nogdish, or the elven Valley of Anarandil... they are just weird names to people, until a player experiences the thing in my games.

    But to a Star Trek Fan, The Women of Orion, or the Priests of Vulcan.. mean something .. because they've seen it.

    Conversely, you get people who can quote chapter and verse and such from trek fandom, and when you as DM want to run a kind of rules lite game, they want to tromp all over it with "This is similar to what happened in episode # 23, when Kirk / Picard / Janeway...."

    In the end, I like what I like. I'm willing to give a referee the benefit of the doubt on homebrew, or play in something published, as long as they are a fair DM, and I get to make choices from my character, and can somehow affect the game world thereby.

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    If I'm running a game, I tend to like to start with an established setting -- Midnight, say, or Dark Sun -- and slowly make it my own. There are enough empty spots on the map for me to fill in, with the rest providing a backbone that may (or may not) be familiar to players. I don't necessarily worry about published canon past a certain point. I mean, I paid for the setting. I've got every right to rearrange things or remove them entirely if I prefer to do so.

    When you get right down to it, I've had to introduce my players to just about every published setting I've decided to run with. When I took a liking to Dark Sun way back when, no one else in my group knew what the setting was about. I had to explain as much to them about Dark Sun as I would have had to explain about an original setting I'd devised myself.

    The key was to start small. Sure, there's a broader world out there, and maybe the PCs know a few bits of fact, myth, or legend at the start. But these settings don't have mass transit, or daily mail, or telephones, so the experiences of the PCs up until the first game are most likely going to be limited in scope: their hut, their village, their back yard, their slave pen, whatever.

    This allowed me to explain things as we went along. Even things they might have known to begin with -- such as that a certain cactus' needles are harvested and ground into flour for flatbread -- crop up when necessary. The rest, things they wouldn't reasonably know, come up when required and they learned the hard way. It made for some interesting lessons and even more interesting role-play.

    In modern or futuristic settings, it's a bit different (if not difficult). I've often looked over a science fiction setting and been hard-pressed to drink it all in. Blue Planet is an example of a setting that I understand and love, but which is hard to convey to players because there's so damn much of it. The easy method would be to similarly start small and explain things as the players went, but given that the PCs might know a lot more than their players do, it might take a bit more care.

    Then, of course, there are settings that are so popular or ingrained that everyone knows at least a little bit about them. Star Wars, for instance. Most everyone I know has seen at least one of the movies. At least from the perspective of theme and mood, it's easy to convey things with a few well-chosen words. "This place is smoky, loud, and filled with aliens -- like the Cantina in Star Wars."

    As for the settings I love and enjoy, it depends on the system. Star Wars, obviously, is a favorite, as are Midnight and Dark Sun. I love the idea of gaming in Tolkien's Middle Earth, but there hasn't been a single published game that either fits the setting to my standards, or which uses mechanics that I can tolerate. Forgotten Realms is neat, but it's a bit too high fantasy and there's quite a lot of published material to sort through.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Barrier Peaks View Post
    ...When you get right down to it, I've had to introduce my players to just about every published setting I've decided to run with. When I took a liking to Dark Sun way back when, no one else in my group knew what the setting was about. I had to explain as much to them about Dark Sun as I would have had to explain about an original setting I'd devised myself.

    The key was to start small. Sure, there's a broader world out there, and maybe the PCs know a few bits of fact, myth, or legend at the start. But these settings don't have mass transit, or daily mail, or telephones, so the experiences of the PCs up until the first game are most likely going to be limited in scope: their hut, their village, their back yard, their slave pen, whatever.

    This allowed me to explain things as we went along. Even things they might have known to begin with -- such as that a certain cactus' needles are harvested and ground into flour for flatbread -- crop up when necessary. The rest, things they wouldn't reasonably know, come up when required and they learned the hard way. It made for some interesting lessons and even more interesting role-play...
    Those are some of the same reasons I enjoy and often seek out new an unusual settings for my group. I want to surprise the players with new and unusual concepts, challenge their assumptions and really get them into their characters.

    Quote Originally Posted by Barrier Peaks View Post
    ...As for the settings I love and enjoy, it depends on the system. Star Wars, obviously, is a favorite, as are Midnight and Dark Sun. I love the idea of gaming in Tolkien's Middle Earth, but there hasn't been a single published game that either fits the setting to my standards, or which uses mechanics that I can tolerate. Forgotten Realms is neat, but it's a bit too high fantasy and there's quite a lot of published material to sort through.
    Of course, I'm also a big Star Wars fan and Dark Sun was always my favorite established D&D setting. From everything I've read and heard, I would really enjoy Midnight as well, but I've yet to play it or read it to any great extent.
    HARRY DRESDEN WIZARD
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    I generally go homegrown myself because there's usually some detail(s) about the commercial product that I don't care for. But, that being said, I would use a commercial product if it were detailed enough and have been known to use ideas from commercial products, incorporating them into my homegrown world(s).
    Skunk
    a.k.a. Johnprime



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    Quote Originally Posted by Skunkape View Post
    I generally go homegrown myself because there's usually some detail(s) about the commercial product that I don't care for. But, that being said, I would use a commercial product if it were detailed enough and have been known to use ideas from commercial products, incorporating them into my homegrown world(s).
    I steal ideas like a dyed in the wool thief. I have dozens if not hundreds of commercial products floating around here. I plug pre-made stuff in all over the place.

    The deal: "Commercial" is not a code word for "pre-digested pap only a brain dead fool would want." "Homegrown" is not a code word for "raw crap so crude only a brain dead fool would want." Fact is there are some pretty cool ideas out there. Some of then are slick and packaged within an inch of their existence, but they are still pretty cool ideas. Some are cranked out on a forty year old mimeograph machine with art in crayon by a five year old, but the ideas are are pure gold. You have to be willing to look beyond the package, keep your ear to the ground and listen to what people recommend. I have seen some absolutely golden ideas come out of this place.

    Two attitudes bother me. First, that good production means good product. Not so, it simply means lots of money. The Second is that we made it cheap so all the money is in the content. Equally false. Simple is no virtue. Lack of art is no virtue. They are not vices either. Good ideas are where you find them, it a game book, a weekly news magazine, or here on the forum.

    And remember, a reviewer is never wrong. They might not be right the right way. If you ever find a reviewer that hates everything you love and loves everything you hate, cherish that person, you have a golden guide to the stuff you love.

    Garry AKA --Phoenix-- Rising above the Flames.
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    The Olde Phoenix Inn

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    I like some pre defined stuff.
    Examples include

    Seattle Source Book - Shadowrun
    Transylvania By Night - Vampire the Dark Ages

    I like more a small area detailed out rather than a large world.
    Playing: Pathfinder
    Running: infrequent VtM game


    "I'm beautifully hideous!" - Sven the Nosferatu

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    Quote Originally Posted by MortonStromgal View Post
    I like some pre defined stuff.
    Examples include

    Seattle Source Book - Shadowrun
    Transylvania By Night - Vampire the Dark Ages

    I like more a small area detailed out rather than a large world.
    Denver boxed set I'm running one group through Denver right now (the longer running one) and started the new group on Seattle last month.

    Denver is easier for me since I'm here in Denver but it does make the errors jump out more.

    "Denver fades into the night as you merge onto 6 from 70."

    Wait, the 6->70 merge is way way beyond where you'd see anything of Denver. Heck, Denver disappears in just a few minutes once you start heading up 6

    Carl
    GMing: Shadowrun 4th
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    I also administer the Mosaic and Stained Glass forums if you happen to be artistic


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    If you like city sourcebooks, try and track down the Miami Sourcebook for Millenium's End. I've used it for everything from Call ofCthulhu/Delta Green to Vampire: The Masquerade and Cyberpunk 2020. There's more in the way of setting than mechanics, and it's comprehensive for what it is and it's easy to use.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tesral View Post
    I steal ideas like a dyed in the wool thief. I have dozens if not hundreds of commercial products floating around here. I plug pre-made stuff in all over the place.

    The deal: "Commercial" is not a code word for "pre-digested pap only a brain dead fool would want." "Homegrown" is not a code word for "raw crap so crude only a brain dead fool would want." <snip>...

    </snip>If you ever find a reviewer that hates everything you love and loves everything you hate, cherish that person, you have a golden guide to the stuff you love.
    So true, so true!
    Skunk
    a.k.a. Johnprime



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