Sunday, November 29, 2009

My First D&D Campaign Setting

My first campaign setting was that amorphous "gaming land" most gamers begin with, a world of detailed dungeons and vaguely medieval towns in which to recuperate. It developed like this.

At first all our focus was on home-drawn dungeons, and we always started each adventure descending the staircase into the darkness.

Within the first six months of gaming, about the time we began rotating TSR's early dungeon modules into our mix, we also began starting adventures outside the dungeon, at first in the immediate wilderness environs, and later in the proverbial tavern.

Gradually, within the first year and a half, this expanded to include stores and other features of the villages containing the tavern, partly prompted by the nondungeon settings in The Keep on the Borderlands and The Village of Hommlet and by such marvelous Judges Guild settings as Tegel Manor, Wilderlands of High Fantasy, and City State of the Invincible Overlord (the release of World of Greyhawk was still a year and a half off at that point). The Wilderlands made a certain amount of wacky, wonderful sense, but unfortunately we only rarely used them as our settings (only when playing a Judges Guild module) because, honestly, we didn't fully understand what settings were for at this point.

No, the "settings" we made up made a whole lot less sense and tended to lack any permanence between dungeon adventures, except the proverbial tavern which was always much the same no matter which village we put it in.

It didn't take more than a couple years before all the gamers at South Shore were shifting their energies from dungeon design to continent building. Their original impulse was to create homebases for their characters between dungeons using the rather excessive treasure and power they'd stockpiled from their early and ill-conceived Monty Haul adventures, but it didn't take long before they began recycling and expanding their home-base designs into venues for running other people's characters through adventures. Sheeple that I was in middle school, I did the same, and so my second D&D campaign setting was born.

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