Campaign Setting
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Basic Information

Campaign Settings are settings published for role-playing game campaigns, whether they were invented specifically for RPGs or are based on other fiction. These divide into two basic categories - commercially published and "homebrew".

Commercially published settings are just that - a pre-made world made and sold by a commercial (or not-for profit) organisation which an individual GM and their group will then take and build upon. This will generally consist of (at minimum) map of the campaign world and some form of index giving details of the various areas, nations etc. shown on the map. Settings designed for a specific rules system will include relevant statistics and profiles, as a well as any changes made to the core rules by using this specific setting. Many settings will also contain new species or setting-specific character classes. Most commercial settings will have a basic core worldbook and then a series of splatbooks describing areas in greater detail. A homebrew setting will contain the same basic elements, but is the work of a specific GM and/or their group rather than being produced by an outside body. It is not unknown for homebrew settings to ascend to commercial status (this, after all, being how campaign settings began, thanks to the commercialization of the works of Messrs' Arneson and Gygax) and many commercial settings also tolerate Fan made material (Harnworld is an excellent example of this).

A few commercial settings are deliberately meant to be played by multiple groups (as a sort of ancestor of the MMORPG) but this requires significant management and is rarely attempted - the old Living Greyhawk setting run by the RPGA being the primary example. This is also attempted by some homebrewers, especially those who move in a circle of connected RPG groups.

Note to those adding pages about specific RPGs: Please limit yourself to one-page summaries of the individual settings. Please also restrict descriptions of game mechanics to no more than short summaries of noteworthy mechanical concepts.

List of Campaign Settings

RPGs that do away with the GM entirely can be found on our Story Games page.



Game and Story Use

  • Even if you plan to develop your own homebrew setting, don't hesitate to steal from good published settings as appropriate.
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