Friday, January 21, 2011

Open Friday: Published or Home Brew?

Here's a nice straightforward question for today: do you generally use published campaign settings or do you create your own?

I've done both over the years, though it's interesting to note that, in my earliest days of gaming, I always homebrewed, just as I have in recent years. It was in my middle years that I was more inclined to use published settings than to make my own. I have no idea if that means anything, but it's an interesting fact nonetheless.

67 comments:

  1. Homebrew. I've run maybe two published settings: one was Empire of the Petal Throne back in the day, one was a Forgotten Realms play-by-VOIP at the players request... and I wasn't particularly satisfied with either. I really prefer to make everything, even the rules, my own.

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  2. For fantasy, homebrew. For almost everything else, published

    VerWord: gortili: (n), a kind of pasta shaped like an interstellar police robot.

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  3. Whatever you love more. Players can feel your love.

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  4. Homebrew. I like having the pregenerated "stuff" from a ready-made campaign, but they never work out. Even if I use a ready-made campaign world, I'll still hack it apart to make the best story possible. It does help that my gaming group has been together for years - so I know how to torture printed materials into the right shape.

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  6. Homebrew all the way.
    Published stuff is for parts to kitbash with.

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  7. Like most folks, I'd imagine, I've done both over the years, and quite often a mix a both at once. Homebrews that mine liberally from published settings and published settings that are so changed that they only vaguely resemble the original.
    January 21, 2011 10:07 AM

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  8. I'm actually much more comfortable with published stuff. I have done both, but even when it was "homebrew", the more successful ones were bashed together with published components (except for a small number of exceptions, and those were bashed together by ripping off books and/or movies).

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  9. Mixed.

    Home brew for the overarching campaign and hooks and published material to populate the adventure path along the way.

    I can come up with the 30,000 ft view for the entire run but the nitty gritty (i.e. maps, treasure, monsters, etc) I use the framework from pregenerated modules. Someone else can do all that better than I can.

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  10. To echo many of the folks on here, I'd say that I do a homebrew but might pluck elements from various published settings.

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  11. I've generally used published settings as a starting point, and then heavily altered them to fit my own tastes. My old Greyhawk campaign was based on the original pamphlet that came with the maps in a Pee-Chee style folder. As it grew, it came to bear only a faint resemblance to the directions TSR and WotC took "their" Greyhawk.

    Same with WFRP's Old World, my favorite fantasy setting. Mostly based on WFRP 1E (and my own writings for the game), it's much different from how the "official setting" evolved.

    One day I'd like to do a wholly homebrewed setting, and your Dwimmermount campaign has warmed me to the idea of sitting back and letting it grow through play.

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  12. It's homebrew or the old Greyhawk boxed set for me.
    My homebrew setting, Gaile, is fairly generic but flexible enough to incorporate bits from various published campaigns (Freeport and Ptolus both make an appearance in my world).

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  13. Mostly homebrews anymore and historically. Except for Glorantha and the Third Imperium I can't think of a published setting I've used.

    That said, it's not that binary. I have SWN and if I can find a group to play I'll use the default background. The game requires me to develop my own sectors (which I often did with the Third Imperium). So will that be a published setting or will I be using a homebrew? The same question applies to a lot of other things, such as WoD games. If you used the assumed setting but are developing your own city/planet/whatever are you homebrew or published.

    The criteria I used to determine what I've used in terms of published setting is "have I used more than the core book and/or a published adventure". In Traveller I've used the Spinward Marches and in Glorantha I've used the two Pavis boxed sets. However, when I generated my own subsectors in Traveller I didn't consider that using a published setting even though I was using the Third Imperium and could show you where on that big know space map where my sectors were.

    As for your history, I think more than anything you've tracked the hobby.

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  14. Homebrew with a dash of published. Although even published material gets a makeover. I.e., "No, it may appear to be Greyhawk, but it's actually Redsparrow..."

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  15. I sadly do not have the imagination to create structured, long campaigns. So I always use published material when we are playing "adventures". Heavily modified, of course, but still based on published material.

    On the other hand, I ad lib between "adventures". Since we always play in rich settings (either RW or detailed fantasy settings like Glorantha), these ad lib sessions often evolve into fully-fledged, "setting induced" adventures.

    Not sure I've made myself clear :-P

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  16. I have run D&D's "The Known World", Kara-Tur and Greyhawk, but most of the time I run in my homebrew world.

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  17. Mixed for me, however over the last couple of years, I've been itching to play/run a campaign set in the JG Wilderlands.

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  18. Homebrewed world, with rotating DMs, each with his own continent. The long sea voyages between continents were not role-played in the least. :)

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  19. Always homebrew, never tried running in an established campaign world. Some of the swords'n'planet stuff in blog-world will make me break that streak - I'll be adding gates to Planet Algol for sure, and probably other places.

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  20. For campaign settings I almost always go homebrew.
    I like drawing maps too much to stick with what someone else has done for long.

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  21. Both. For me it always tends to be like making a salad. I keep notes that go in binders all the time and I get everything I can lay my hands on that is premade.

    We used to all own and know the printed material so well it was the only way to keep players on their toes. Then it just became my style.

    And inspiration comes from diverse sources. Alien comps for SF games make great god figures in fantasy settings.

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  22. I run either home brew or my own adventures set in the forgotten realms. I actually made a post on my own blog discussing this very thing just a couple of days ago.

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  23. Published, for the most part. The D&D 'Known World' and the WFRP (1e) Old World are my two favourite fantasy worlds.

    And I've got a copy of the Great Pendragon Campaign on order - I don't think you can get much more tied to source material than that. We'll see if I ever get to run it though.

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  24. Let's see, when I ran Traveller: The New Era, it was in my own setting, but used published adventures. For Shadowrun and Fighting Fantasy, I used my own settings, and Call of Cthulhu doesn't really have a campaign setting as such, more "it's the 1920's, but with added Great Old Ones", so that's what I did.

    Since my return to gaming, I've run Call of Cthulhu again, this time in a modern-day setting of my own design -- ie, not "it's the modern day, but with added Great Old Ones", nor Delta Green -- and I've run Rogue Trader in the default setting -- which is why you buy and play a 40K game after all -- but in my own subsector, to use Traveller terminology.

    I've also run a couple of adventures in the Eberron setting, but using Savage Worlds.

    It seems that I have yet to run a setting out of the box.

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  25. Although I suppose I am running Eberron more or less as published, just with the wrong rules.

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  26. As a DM/GM, it's boxed campaign settings for me. I don't have the time to hash out a whole campaign world. That doesn't mean I don't alter the published one to my tastes. I do quite a bit. I think most DMs are the same way when it comes to published campaign settings.

    Now, as a player, I prefer to be in something that is published, but will play in a home brew world too. IT's just, after many years on the player side of things, my experience with home brew worlds has been mixed: from good to just weird and stupid.

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  27. Homebrew all the way. The last pre-formed, reheated setting I used for D&D was Birthright's Aebrynis (sp?), which still got hacked about with.

    As a Swiss insurance adjuster who once wrote a game said: "Why let us do any more of your imagining for you?"

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  28. Mostly published for me. Back in high school, I used homebrew for my longest running campaign, but since then have almost exclusively used published settings.

    However, my preference is for fairly light settings, with Judge's Guild's First Fantasy Campaign being a favorite.

    For Traveller though I have never used the published setting (and hardly even ever used the modules).

    In college I did have one campaign in a homebrew ice-world setting.

    Frank

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  29. I prefer homebrewed settings all the way, though I do borrow [sometimes heavily] from existing settings.

    TFotH

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  30. A combo: I use published worlds due to a lack of time to build my own world to my liking, but only really use that world as a framework for my own homebrew locations, encounters, NPCs, etc. I don't worry about "canonical" NPCs, history, locations, etc. Does this all make sense? ;-)

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  31. I generally take a published setting and then tilt it sideways. I'll find meaningful little bits and expand on them, move the locales around on maps, inject a bit of emo into a bland NPC, etc. The source is usually recognizable but the players never know what to expect even if they've read the material. The adventures themselves are almost always homebrewed.

    Right now I'm focusing on Pendragon and use the GPC as a framework; but, the locale is not in the published county and the NPCs (except the literature-based ones) have all been reworked.

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  32. All my early campaigns were set in homebrew settings; the early ones a town and a few nearby sites; later ones started with regional or even world design ideas. Ironically, the bigger the initial plan, the less actual playing we got done in that world. My early campaigns were also a weird witch's brew of every interesting idea I came across in books or TV at the time.

    In later years I used commercial worlds, with a little tinkering. I often wanted to spend what little time I had getting straight into an adventure, and used Greyhawk as my campaign background.

    More recently still, my actual gaming has nigh evaporated, and I curiously seem to spend more time thinking/working on world design, LOL. Right now I'm planning on playing Monte Cook's Dungeon-a-Day (probably adapted to 4e which I want to try out), and I'm working on designing a world into which to place that megadungeon.

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  33. Both.

    My current game is Planescape based, so Sigil and a number of the realms they have visited are from published settings. On the other hand their home plane is "Ancient Greece", which is a homebrew that is like a "1066 and All That" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1066_and_All_That) version of the ancient world.

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  34. I'll just say flip side of James: (1) Younger, very OCD by-the-book canonical published settings; (2) Older, more focused on making my own for all the advantages and mystery that entails.

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  35. Homebrew everything. Of course I steal mercilessly, but only the good pieces.

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  36. I almost always use my own creations. One day I'd like to use the Wilderlands maps, but fill them up with all my own stuff.

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  37. both.

    when using a published setting it can be modified heavily (dark sun, ad&d2e) or used (almost completely) unaltered (the old world, wfrp2e). if you find a setting you like, why would you not use it?

    when i create my own worlds its mostly for shorter campaigns. otherwise it's too much work. :)

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  38. Create my own, wherever possible. If the game has a built-in background, mess with it as much as possible.

    However, I have found it easier to use ready-made backgrounds and tweak them. It must be something to do with getting older.

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  39. Home brew.
    I've only ran published setting when I am sharing GM duties with another person.
    I ran a Runequest campaign in Glorantha once like 20 years ago, and have run Star Wars, CoC, and Star Trek once in a while.
    90-95% of the time, it's homebrew, though.

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  40. I usually start with a published scenario, and work it over to make it my own. Sometimes this "working over" will occur with some planning before the campaign, and sometimes it occurs between sessions when I am inspired by something my players did or something I read or saw.

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  41. I always run homebrew, generally a limited setting with a few hints about what the world in general looks like, and I flesh it out more and more as the players start to be curious about more than just the town they start in and its environs.

    I didn't even have a world map for my current campaign until about twenty sessions in, when my players finally asked if they could buy one from a cartographer...thus followed a couple of frantic weeks of work making shapes and place names and not too much else but shaky concepts. :)

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  42. Just as I’m about to say “homebrew”, I realize that I’ve run games in Middle-earth, the Warhammer Old World, the Third Imperium, and probably a few others. Still, I’ve probably run homebrew more.

    One of my favorite campaigns as a player, however, was with a DM who mashed up everything. We visited Greyhawk, Lankhmar, (pre-FR) Kara-tur, and some Forgotten Realms locations. All on the same planet.

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  43. @ Digo Janos, nice photo man!

    I homebrew exclusively; I just can't get into the DMing mindset using someone else's creation. I may DM a Planescape game some day, but it won't be as written. (For starters, the factions never had a war!)

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  44. It really depends on the game I'm running.

    Games specifically based on other media naturally use the setting implied by the media. Although this may not always be the case as I have a tendency to repurpose games. For example at the moment I'm tempted to repurpose the Leverage RPG as a generic fantasy game.

    Games which are tightly integrated with the campaign setting, such as Bushido, Agone, or Tekumel I generally run fairly close to the campaign setting. Then again, my Runequest Glorantha game has diverged sufficiently from the canon (which tends to frequently get revised itself), so that it is really a different game. Although, that being said, it now uses Ironclaw as it's principal game engine.

    Oh, I tend to run Pendragon as is because The Great Arthurian Campaign is so full of win. Furry Pirates is another game where they did an excellent campaign setting.

    More generic games, such as my fantasy campaign (which uses a heavily modified D&D), and my space campaigns are homebrewed settings (and in the later case essentially homebrewed rules). Although if I like something I'll steal it and put it in. If I pound it with a hammer it generally fits.

    Then again I like playing with the player's expectations. Such as running a Stormbringer/Call of Cthulhu cross-over back in the day. <shrug>

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  45. Almost always Homebrew with the exception of Buffy/Angel and Firefly which are highly modified versions of those 'verses.

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  46. I've done both, though the tendencey is toward homebrew. It also depends very much on the genre.

    I like homebrew for my Generic Sci-Fi (as opposed to when I'm running Galaxy Quest, Red Dwarf, Star Trek, Star Wars, etc.), Giant Robots, Horror, Medieval Fantasy, Superheroes (unless running DC Comics) or Wild West.

    I use published settings, well, I guess when a license is involved. DC, Ghostbusters, Star Trek - I love running in those universes.

    Truth is even when I do, I homebrew them to some extent. Some more than others of course. With Star Trek I adhere as close to canon as possible but with DC Comics I always assume I'm running some sort of alternate Earth.

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  47. I don't think I've ever run a published fantasy setting. A lot of my fantasy campaigns have ended up being very 'greyhawkish' but I've never actually run greyhawk.

    That said for Shadowrun I do run the game using their setting. I usually set it in Seattle too. So much of the personality for that game comes from the setting though so I don't know if it would even be possible to run Shadowrun without it being in the 6th world.

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  48. For AD&D/3E/Pathfinder, I do (and have done) homebrew all the way. I've never used a published setting for these game systems, although I do enjoy reading them for inspiration.

    For Basic D&D, I used to just run through the modules, so I guess I was using the "Known World", although at the time we never really talked about it. We were kids. It was all about killing monsters and taking their stuff, not about what country your character was from.

    For Gamma World, Star Frontiers, and Top Secret, I home-brewed (although calling it that for Top Secret is a stretch).

    For Warhammer FRP, I only participated as a player, but that's the only time I remember GM'ing or playing in a game that used a published setting "as is."

    I once played in a 3E game that was based in Middle Earth, but it was 1000 years after the War of the Ring, so I'd call that "homebrew" since the referee had to make up considerable stuff based on how thought things would have happened.

    I guess technically I have played in the Forgotten Realms once, but it was a one-day "one shot" game and the setting never really came into play other than the gods/religions.

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  49. Homebrew for me.

    I've been slowly working on my setting for years- it's changed drastically though overtime. I have used some published adventures like Keep on the Borderlands and The Island of Dread but always with a healthy dose of my own stuff.

    The Ebberon setting has some real cool stuff in there that's pretty tempting though and I gotta say that I think the Pathfinder setting is as rich and deep as they come.

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  50. I used the Forgotten Realms from the outset of its publication with TSR (the Grey Boxed set, I think). Once FR became to heavy and populated (and later silly), I stopped focusing on settings and just playing D&D. With Red Box Niagara, I have a rough homebrew outline, and just stay a session or two ahead of the players.

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  52. Top-to-bottom entirely 100% homebrew. But I do take other source material and change it to fit my needs.

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  53. Since I'm usually the GM (none of the *#@!?$* slugs in my group will run a game), I'm the one who decides the setting. Funny thing is, I've always home-brewed the Fantasy RPGs' settings, but I've relied on at least some elements of established worlds in other games. In a Marvel Super Heroes game I ran, there were only a few established canonical characters, but I ran all "homemade" villains. In the Star Wars RPG (West End's d6, natch), our games became primarily about pirates-with-a-conscience fighting with big-time crime syndicates, with the rebellion against the Empire existing merely as a backdrop.

    It's not that I disdain established settings, I just like to tweek them. I've actually got an idea for a Star Trek game, set during the non-canon "general war" of the Star Fleet universe (Task Force Games), where the PC's ship is Federation privateer, ostensibly targeting Orion smugglers running dilithium to the Romulans, at least until the PCs' questionable uses of their Letter of Marque get them on the wrong side of a Federation starship captain named "Lucky" Jack Aubrey....

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  54. I usually start with a published setting, then make modifications and elaborations. Judges Guild Wilderlands is sketchy enough that you're basically homebrewing anyway. The Third Imperium requires homebrewing your planets. For Spelljammer, I homebrewed my regular campaign into a planet and its system, locating published modules within. Call of Cthulhu and Gamma World campaigns are, IMO, pretty much homebrew as well. I ran Glantri, Fading Suns and Vampire Chicago in their published worlds, with some minor modifications and elaborations. If I use a published adventure, I'll make whatever changes I see fit to, without apology. I'd say I write about half of my adventures.

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  55. I was going to say homebrew, but in thinking about it the combined hours I've spent running the Wilderlands of High Fantasy probably outstrip the amount I've run homebrew things.

    Much like those above I edited the hell out of it.

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  56. I started out in Greyhawk back when the first boxed setting was released (we didn't really have a setting, per se, before that, just an endless stream of dungeons, until I was 12). I started my homebrew in 85 or so, and ran games there for years, until I switched to 3x. I ran Forgotten Realms for a couple of years (I didn't have time to convert the homebrew from 1e to 3x at the time), tired of all the "canon" garbage players inflicted on me, and switched back to my homebrew (I decided I could make the time if it allowed me total freedom with no player whining).

    I probably won't run another canned setting again.

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  57. Homebrew mostly, with custom-made rules and self-created setting, developing organically over the last 26 years or so. Of course there's also been Labyrinth Lord Ravenloft, BRP Hollow Earth Expedition, Street Fighter(Secretly Final Fight): the Storytelling Game, CoC, T&T(which technically has no setting, unless you use Ken')some Gamma World, etc...(All pretty free form and adapted to current whims.)

    @Barking Alien:

    Star Trek:
    Star Trek is (almost) always run tightly coupled to canon from what I've seen. Weird...
    Is this FASA Trek, BTW?

    DC Superheroes:
    You kept the multiverse alive all this time, huh? :-D That's heartening. I love Earth-2 and Earth-X especially.

    @Brian:
    Prime Directive?

    I want to play in a Greyhawk campaign using classic modules, but I'll probably end up running it(with LL) instead... *dang*.

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  58. In the '80s, I set my D&D campaign in Greyhawk. However, I have always regarded historical cultures and mythologies as more interesting than fictional ones, and I tried to graft these into Greyhawk for a long time. But Greyhawk isn't built for that, and eventually I began to develop a homebrew setting to accommodate my need to fit in every ancient, medieval and early modern culture and mythology that I like.

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  59. I've only run two campaigns. Both started with box sets (Realms first, second time Greyhawk), and from there I put in everything from any other published material, plus a little of my own making.

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  60. I used to homebrew, and most of the D&D I play in is homebrew-heavily-influenced-by-Greyhawk. When I found the Birthright setting back in the '90s, that became my default setting for when I run D&D.

    Other games can go either way. Canon: Twilight:2000, Serenity; modified to taste: Space:1889, Star Trek; used solely for inspiration: Star Frontiers, Traveller.

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  61. When I used published modules, I use them in the setting they were designed for: mostly Greyhawk.

    I use most of my own stuff for my own campaign world.

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  62. I prefer Greyhawk, since that's where all the classic modules were set.

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  63. In dnd I usually run homebrew. The only exception has been Eberron, which is a nifty setting. I'd also like a Planescape campaign one day.

    A lot of other systems are kinda tied to their setting; Shadowrun, Paranoia, Kobolds Ate My Baby, Dogs in the Vineyard, etc

    But preparations for my upcoming Traveler campaign are taking as long as they are, because I'm trying to figure out a homebrew setting that will still mesh with the mechanics.

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  64. @velaran:

    I got the idea for the "Modified Star TRek" game about the time the "Fear the Boot" gang was talking up the starship combat system from FASA Trek, so that was the direction I was thinking of going. I just wanted to borrow the idea of a war among the major powers from the "Star Fleet" setting. Not that I'm ready to start the game anytime soon, I'm one of those GMs who always has more ideas than he has time to execute.

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  65. My D&D game has been the same homebrew campaign since 1975. Well, Pathfinder game now. Too many changes needed in my campaign for 4E to suit me. I have read other settings and cribbed ideas from them, of course (Greyhawk and Blackmoor mainly). Tempted to start reading up on Golarion (The Pathfinder RPGs official setting). I've run Tekumel as a setting for EPT and later Tekumel games, hewing pretty closely to the Professor's vision of Tekumel. In SFRPGs I have run a very heavily modified Third Imperium for Traveller / Megatraveller (my Imperium was quite different, but I used the basic stellar system data and some ideas). Oh, and no improbable rebellion / virus scenarios to upset my Imperium :) And I used the Starship Warden in my Metamorhosis Alpha / Gammaworld game back in the dark ages.

    One off / short SF RPG campaigns in the Space Opera and Star Trek settings (for Space Opera and FASA's Star Trek RPG), and in FRPGs a flirtation with Runequest set in Glorantha and Chivalry and Sorcery set in a quasi-historical Medieval European setting...

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