The structure of campaign settings

There are a number of common features found in the campaign settings, that I could call deficiences. I’ll discuss three of these defects and propose an improvement for each one.

  1. Partial maps: it is common in campaign maps to see scenarios with only one continent (Dragonlance), or a part of a continent (The Lord of the rings).
  2. Too generic: campaign scenarios are often too generic to start playing a game. Doing so requires a lot of preparation. We are forced to jump from the scenario directly to the module, that must carry a large load of descriptive material, actually more typical of a campaign scenario that of a module.
  3. Linked to a system: the scenarios are often linked to a particular game system. This means that if we like a particular system, we are limited to a rather small number of scenarios. In addition, the system somehow ends vitiating the stage, adapting the description to the rules.


Based on the above analysis, we conclude that, when we are designing a campaign, we must do the following:

  • When we have to create a world, we must begin from the most general to the most specific, in three steps: first, description of a planet and, if necessary, of the universe around him; second, the campaign scenario description where the adventures will be located, which should be specific enough so that the modules can be developed without them having to carry a load too descriptive; and third, adventure modules that focus on action rather than description.
  • Disassociate the system: it is natural for a campaign when we think of a particular system, but should unlink this system from the description, to allow other systems to use it.



For planetary descriptions, the Planetary survey of traveler are a good example. As campaign setting, the best example I have found is Arcana, which satisfies the two conditions of the conclusions that do get away from the system descriptions, and has two levels of description: a generic and over the hexagon by hexagon map campaign.


About Roger Trobanoms

Roleplaying Master, playing Fate Core in a Medieval fantasy setting of his own creation.
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One Response to The structure of campaign settings

  1. Pingback: Montorcan Setting: The Prima Universe | Table RPG

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