What kind of a world do you play in?

What kind of a world do you play in? Do you play using a
pre-generated world – such as Forgotten Realms, Dragonlance, World of Darkness,
or even Shadowrun perhaps? Or do you prefer the home brew world where you are
the Almighty creator? Do you meld the two – making your own Expanded Universe
of a sort?

For me, it depends on the setting.  When I run Star Wars, it is in what is called
the Rebellion era. Usually either just before or just after the events of A New
Hope, and I have yet to make it to Return of the Jedi.  I will use existing canon(minus
midichloreans) but will also add my own spin on things. For Shadowrun, if it is
a new campaign I start off around 2051 and move forward from there.  I follow the time line and keep up with the
continuity. For my fantasy, I don’t use a pregen world – I have almost always
gone homebrew for it.
The bonus to using an existing setting is that you have so
much lore to draw from. Forgotten Realms has had I don’t know how many novels.
It has so many sourcebooks devoted to it, you never run out of things. You
don’t have to worry about maps, a pantheon, NPC’s – they are all there.  Many people are also so familiar with it they
know the kingdoms, the continents, the heroes, the villains. The world is rich.
You also don’t have to plan too much – there are adventures a plenty!
That is part of the problem I have with them. There is so
much – and with so many heroes, villains, and Gods it’s hard for me to imagine
players making a difference.  Plus at
least one person will want to be Dritz or one of the other NPC’s. I tried to
run in Forgotten Realms and had an adventure planned out. The problem became a
player who seemed to be a walking encyclopedia of Forgotten Realms lore who
questioned everything I put forward.  I
was told such events would not have happened because of this, such and such
would not be there because of that – and any desire for me to continue that
campaign pretty much died on the cross.
Because of this, my fantasy games are homebrew using a world
I’ve been working on for almost ten years. 
It is mine and I am greedy about anyone else contributing much to it.
The thing I like about this is with no pre-established lore, it is new and
fresh for my players. They are exploring the world with me. They are the heroes
here, they don’t have to contest with other heroes or follow a set time line.
Homebrew worlds are often more work, depending on the amount
of time you wish to put into them. You can put as much – or as little – detail
into them as you want.  It allows you to
put in the things you like. You can even make your own rules for magic. The pantheon
(if there is one) can be as hands on or as minimalist as you desire. One of the
things I didn’t like about Forgotten Realms was how the gods seemed to have
such a direct hand in the world events. Why have priests when a god will come
down and do his will?
Now, this is not to say that I never use products from a
pre-established world. I borrow (IE steal) from other worlds all the time. It
might be a gentle tweaking of a concept or the blatant lifting of a
character.  I enjoy the sourcebooks for
they are filled with so many ideas, maps, and colorful characters. One of the
things I love doing is looking at the portrait of someone in a sourcebook and
writing an all new background for them. I make no apologies for things I
borrow. Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery is it not?

In the end never forget the first rule of gaming – have fun!
You are there for your enjoyment and the enjoyment of your players. Don’t be
afraid to try something new. Try creating a simple world and build upon it.
That world can be as simple or as complex as you want to make it. Or you can
grab a stock adventure and run with it. Gods above and below know that I’ve
tried new ideas. Some of them have worked out and I still use them to this day.
Some of them have crashed and burned.  Never stop trying new things – you
never know what is going work for you until you try it.

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