Elements of a Homebrewed Campaign

I’ve been giving some thought lately to setting up a homebrew campaign for some 1st Edition gaming. I’m a big proponent of Gygax’s “bulls-eye” method of campaign design; sketch out the broader world first, and then do ever-more-detailed descriptions of a given area, until you’ve gotten down to the individual village or town that the PCs will be starting off in. This gives you a good idea of what’s around them, and makes it easier to write new things when the PCs start to move around.

Here are some things that I want to include (or am at least considering including) in this process:

  • Areas for at least five different civilizations (European Feudal, Chinese, Japanese, Middle-eastern, and Indian)
  • Remnants of an ancient and more advanced civilization, half-remembered, with the idea that there are constant attempts to return to that “golden age”
  • An area where there is a frontier, into which civilization is slowly spreading, requiring adventurer types to scout and clear regions before settlers begin to arrive
  • That frontier area may be linked directly to that lost civilization, or may not, depending on how it plays out in the design phase
  • Intrigue on a political as well as religious plane; true religious animosities and schisms should be present to provide difficulties and opportunities for the PCs
  • Perhaps have the pantheons of the different religions all be “echoes” of the One True Religion which the ancient civilization practiced (deities are similar, but not identical, across pantheons)
  • Opportunities for large-scale wargaming to be played out with miniatures
Comments welcome. Would this be the sort of world you’d like to game in?

Written by 

Wargamer and RPG'er since the 1970's, author of Adventures Dark and Deep, Castle of the Mad Archmage, and other things, and proprietor of the Greyhawk Grognard blog.

13 thoughts on “Elements of a Homebrewed Campaign

  1. One way to get the religious animosities might be to have some of the similar deities have different status in each of the religions. The original One True Religion agglomerated several local deities as it created its now-fallen empire; now each locality has restored its own local deity to the ruling position and also added some humiliation to the deities of their neighbors.

  2. Sounds a lot like Gygax's original Greyhawk (the "home" version, not the published one); and also like Empire of the Petal Throne.

    "Perhaps have the pantheons of the different religions all be "echoes" of the One True Religion which the ancient civilization practiced (deities are similar, but not identical, across pantheons)"

    This could lead to some interesting metaphysical and theological arguments… Are gods "real" or are they created by their worshippers?

  3. I like the idea of “shards”, the gods fractured into lesser gods or avatars of the greater whole. Ishtar, the goddess of fertility, love, war, and sex (caveat: stealing randomly from Wikipedia), could be the goddess of fertility and love in one lesser pantheon, the goddess of fertility and war in another, the goddess of war and sex in yet another, and so on.

  4. Sounds awesome. I hope you will give some thought to posting updates about it as you develop and/or as it plays during a campaign.

    I wonder, are you thinking of having a game world like an alternate -Oerth (i.e. same themes, clashes, etc.) or is this whole-cloth new? Either way, can't wait to hear more.

  5. "Would this be the sort of world you'd like to game in?"

    Uh, let me think about that for a 1/4 second…yeah!

    This sounds like a classic campaign set up, one that provides all the retionale and opportunities one could ask for.

  6. Very good suggestions….
    .. Fixed a Civilization based on ancient Rome advanced to pre-industural culture…. keeping ant levels of (tech) advance to a minimum…
    ,…. can't have a batch of cultures with canons taking over the world…

  7. "can't have a batch of cultures with canons taking over the world"

    You are obviously not familiar with the Balkans 😉

  8. And that is exactly my point. The region is home to a bunch of cultures which have pretty much hated one another since the dawn of time. And regardless of their tech level, from medieval to modern weaponry no one, local or foreign, has managed to make significant inroads there. The Romans failed. Hitler failed. The USSR failed, Clinton & Bush failed…

  9. I would play in this world. Ethnic humans were described in the Greyhawk boxed set, but almost no one plays them that way. purple eyes and lavender skin, same ethnicity as brown eyes and red skin…

  10. Good Mr. Bloch…. was going back over things …. We found that making "Floria and fauna" random determination charts ( for each type of climate and terrain) very useful in "World building… throw in a bit of early history of the land and its "cultures"… advance "time-line" from there to whatever the "current" world is like for the Players to explore… and we seldom "send them off in a direction that I (the DM) have chosen… we allow them to choose "where" for themselves…
    a Very b"open-ended" campaign…

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