When GMing one of the first choices you must make is whether to set a campaign or adventure in a “canon”/”official” pre-generated world or in a “homebrew” self-created one. Both options are valid and wonderful ways to play but there are benefits to consider with each.
Pre-generated Campaign Settings – Pros
* Less Prep Time – This probably the most compelling argument out there for the pre-generated setting. It is a game and it is supposed to be fun. Reading a dozen pages of setting info takes a fraction of the time writing it does and gets everyone (GM included) to the table faster.
* More talent – You are creative. You are possibly a skilled storyteller. It is highly unlikely that you are more talented than the GROUP of people that did a pre-generated setting. No offense intended but many of these companies spend hundreds or thousands of dollars getting cartographers, artists and editors to hone their settings to a beautiful finish. Just math here.
* Recognition – Not just name brand appeal here, but real shared reality. You may base a game in a city by the Water that is Deep in the Realms that are Forgotten and people hearing from your players might share similar experiences in their home games.
Hombrews Campaign Settings – Pros
* Master of All You Survey – This is major motion behind a homebrew game. You can control everything. Every nuance and flavor. Every rule and interaction. You can tell ANY story. You also get absolute Rule Zero authority.
* Welcome to the Buffet – Another great reason to use a homebrew setting is that you can mix and match elements from thousands of sources. You can have elves from an older edition’s history and demons from the newest adventure and say they are old enemies and it is fact. Like two rare classes from obscure third party sources? Maybe they are common place in your world and bitter rivals!
* Undiscovered Country – When creating a homebrew game you can leave parts of the map blank. The value of this tactic to the improviser GM is unspeakably powerful. Leaving openings allows for seamless insertion of new content that comes a long.
Remember the only right way to GM is the one that is fun, as long as you get there then you made a good choice.
Next up… Downsides.