Do you like playing homebrew settings?

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Wayne
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Re: Do you like playing homebrew settings?

Postby Wayne » Wed Sep 23, 2020 10:52 am

BottledViolence wrote:
Wayne wrote:

I pretty much exclusively do this as player and GM. Generally there is a world-building session so while the world is home-brew you don't have to ask the GM for everything because everyone had a part of it. I find it WAY more difficult playing an established setting that I don't know because I do have to ask about everything. In a setting we world build I feel like I can just throw things out there, but with a defined setting I am more likely to ask.

World-building provides a type of buy-in that pre-established settings do not. When it comes to published settings I feel limited and like I have to know everything about it.

We've never had player buy in with world building sessions. At best they turned into dungeon crawls that really had no setting. Our current group is doing a homebrew setting but none of the players seem to have much interest in contributing to it. I'm not running it, and I have no interest in doing any world building myself beyond shooting down the more absurd ideas that other players have come up with. :lol:



It had been such a foreign concept to me that I was shocked when I found out that groups used the settings in books. I always just saw them as examples. I was also shocked to find out how many groups use modules. Also something I had no direct experience with. My likes and dislikes were pretty heavily shaped by the group that I first played with and I have since come to find out that was not the typical group or introduction to gaming. I played years before I had a campaign that was not in a home-brew system. Even longer for one not in a homebrew setting (Battletech).
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Re: Do you like playing homebrew settings?

Postby Ikoma » Wed Sep 23, 2020 11:08 am

Azhrei Vep correctly noted earlier in this thread that ALL campaigns are homebrew. The second you start playing, you start changing things. It's just that when I run a published setting, I have a much larger and better looking springboard to start the whole shebang off.

It sounds like you are holding yourself up with the idea that your version of Ravenloft must be identical to the canonical Ravenloft. It won't be. It shouldn't be. It literally cannot be.
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Re: Do you like playing homebrew settings?

Postby John » Wed Sep 23, 2020 11:51 am

BottledViolence wrote:1) Plot wagon
2) Baby bird syndrome


The plot wagon is just another term for the railroad. It presents additional dangers when you're running with a pre-existing setting. There's "hey we all saw the movie and know what happens to Alderaan" syndrome and "but Vulcans don't do that kind of thing" syndrome and "well, page thirty of the module says you fight the bugbears on day five" syndrome. And so on. Doesn't mean you can't run a genuinely organic and player-driven campaign in a pre-existing setting but those are dangers that are more common in them.

Baby bird syndrome is when some or all of the players just show up with their beaks turned upward waiting to get a pre-digested game barfed into their mouths. Baby birds don't take any action to determine/advance the plot, or riff off another PC or NPC, or portray their PCs as interesting people. They just sit there expected to be entertained by others.

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Re: Do you like playing homebrew settings?

Postby BottledViolence » Wed Sep 23, 2020 12:27 pm

John wrote:
BottledViolence wrote:1) Plot wagon
2) Baby bird syndrome


The plot wagon is just another term for the railroad. It presents additional dangers when you're running with a pre-existing setting. There's "hey we all saw the movie and know what happens to Alderaan" syndrome and "but Vulcans don't do that kind of thing" syndrome and "well, page thirty of the module says you fight the bugbears on day five" syndrome. And so on. Doesn't mean you can't run a genuinely organic and player-driven campaign in a pre-existing setting but those are dangers that are more common in them.

Baby bird syndrome is when some or all of the players just show up with their beaks turned upward waiting to get a pre-digested game barfed into their mouths. Baby birds don't take any action to determine/advance the plot, or riff off another PC or NPC, or portray their PCs as interesting people. They just sit there expected to be entertained by others.


Those seem like bad player/bad GM issues that can happen in either a homebrew or published setting. Obviously not the page 30 nonsense, but railroading for sure. The "vulcans don't do that kind of thing" is kind of a double edged sword. The "plot twist, he's a good drow!" schtick has been so played out that anyone still relying on it deserves to have their players give them shit. :lol:
I've definitely seen the baby bird syndrome with the homebrew settings, not so much in the published stuff, but I imagine it happens. We're seeing it in my current group running a homebrew right now. It's tough to get buy in when you don't have anything to work with.

Come to think of it, the only time we were railroaded so bad that I handed the GM my character sheet and said fuck it, you play it, I'm out was in a homebrew setting.

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Re: Do you like playing homebrew settings?

Postby BottledViolence » Wed Sep 23, 2020 12:41 pm

Wayne wrote:
BottledViolence wrote:
Wayne wrote:

I pretty much exclusively do this as player and GM. Generally there is a world-building session so while the world is home-brew you don't have to ask the GM for everything because everyone had a part of it. I find it WAY more difficult playing an established setting that I don't know because I do have to ask about everything. In a setting we world build I feel like I can just throw things out there, but with a defined setting I am more likely to ask.

World-building provides a type of buy-in that pre-established settings do not. When it comes to published settings I feel limited and like I have to know everything about it.

We've never had player buy in with world building sessions. At best they turned into dungeon crawls that really had no setting. Our current group is doing a homebrew setting but none of the players seem to have much interest in contributing to it. I'm not running it, and I have no interest in doing any world building myself beyond shooting down the more absurd ideas that other players have come up with. :lol:



It had been such a foreign concept to me that I was shocked when I found out that groups used the settings in books. I always just saw them as examples. I was also shocked to find out how many groups use modules. Also something I had no direct experience with. My likes and dislikes were pretty heavily shaped by the group that I first played with and I have since come to find out that was not the typical group or introduction to gaming. I played years before I had a campaign that was not in a home-brew system. Even longer for one not in a homebrew setting (Battletech).

When we started out, it was homebrew but of course we didn't call it that, we didn't even know there were published settings. When we discovered modules the games got much better. No one really followed them very closely, but they got us started thinking about actual plots and options other than just combat. Then I found the World of Greyhawk setting boxed set and things got even better and more consistent. That's probably why I still like that setting the best. I know it's possible for homebrew setting to have just as much depth and consistency, but already having that framework done for us made a huge difference.

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Re: Do you like playing homebrew settings?

Postby BottledViolence » Wed Sep 23, 2020 12:43 pm

Ikoma wrote:Azhrei Vep correctly noted earlier in this thread that ALL campaigns are homebrew. The second you start playing, you start changing things. It's just that when I run a published setting, I have a much larger and better looking springboard to start the whole shebang off.

It sounds like you are holding yourself up with the idea that your version of Ravenloft must be identical to the canonical Ravenloft. It won't be. It shouldn't be. It literally cannot be.

That's exactly how I feel about it. Luckily I've never had to go find groups of randoms, so I have always had players who also recognized those facts.

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Re: Do you like playing homebrew settings?

Postby Ikoma » Wed Sep 23, 2020 3:34 pm

I have more trouble with the "that's not how Vulcans behave" kind of thing in true homebrew settings than I do in published settings.

Game story time: My buddy wants to run a game. It's going to be set in a homebrew setting. He emails all us players a 15 sheet or so setting document. I read the whole thing and decide to play a archer/ranger from this tribal nomadic elven society on the plains - think elves as native americans. One of the things I noted is that elves in this settings take their names from concepts they want to emulate. So I name my character True. As in his aim is True. GM wants me to change it to Honesty or something. I explain I am not aiming for that kind of Truth. He's not happy as my idea doesn't fit his conception of these tribal elves (my guy is too practical and not philosophical enough). So I change the name to something else (that I don't remember). I DO remember that he was constantly (ok, really only two or three times a session) stopping me from roleplaying and saying, "no, that's not how your character would react, the elves would look at this situation this way." To the point that after the fourth session I was looking for a way to have my PC go out in a blaze of glory and then I would drop the game. To be fair, this is something this friend has a problem with naturally. He's killed game momentum as a player by telling another player, "that's not how i think your character would react." I could go on (I even typed up about another paragraph before realizing that's not the point I'm trying to make).

I can see why published settings could allow this kind of problem as well. Because an expert in the setting can point out any observed contradictions. But it's also a problem in homebrew because there is no way for the players to know what setting details they don't know. This is one of the reasons why I think not all media settings make for good game settings. They need a certain level of scope and flexibility to work. Star Wars is great. I don't think Dune would be as good (although I am sure someone has played in a good Dune game, all generalizations are, well... general.)
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Re: Do you like playing homebrew settings?

Postby Wihzerd » Wed Sep 23, 2020 4:23 pm

John wrote:The plot wagon is just another term for the railroad. It presents additional dangers when you're running with a pre-existing setting. There's "hey we all saw the movie and know what happens to Alderaan" syndrome and "but Vulcans don't do that kind of thing" syndrome and "well, page thirty of the module says you fight the bugbears on day five" syndrome. And so on. Doesn't mean you can't run a genuinely organic and player-driven campaign in a pre-existing setting but those are dangers that are more common in them.

That one's easy enough to deal with. If you don't want Greedo getting shot by the players before he confronts Han in the cantina, just don't make him part of the game. There are plenty of bounty hunters in the galaxy; just make up a new one. I made this abundantly clear at the start of my Clone Wars era game. "No, you will not meet Anakin Skywalker. This is your story, not his." The way I see it, it's best to give the movies a wide berth and find something else to focus on.

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Re: Do you like playing homebrew settings?

Postby Nobby-W » Thu Sep 24, 2020 2:42 pm

I'm an inveterate world builder so I pretty much exclusively do homebrew settings. Having said this, one does need to do some players-guide-to materials for a setting, but you can mitigate much of the player familiarity issue by liberal use of chekhov's guns and other forewarnings threaded into the game.

While it's nice to deep-dive into a setting, a 200-page big-book-of-canon tends to be quite a sterile document, and starting your setting from that tends to be a bit of a time waster. You do need some big-picture stuff to hang a setting off, but it gets into diminishing returns fairly quickly. Once you've got an idea of what the setting is supposed to be like, building it bottom-up in support of the adventures will result in material that gets used and is more relevant to the game at hand.

The process of revelation is also a nice experience for many players, learning about the setting as they go.
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Re: Do you like playing homebrew settings?

Postby clintmemo » Fri Sep 25, 2020 9:35 am

I think that if you can't distill the essence of your setting into an elevator pitch, then maybe you are too concerned with details and not with broad strokes.
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