Monday, May 4, 2015

30 Days of D&D Day 4: Favorite Gameworld

Favorite Gameworld is a tough one for me because a lot of play at my table, regardless of DM, has been what's referred to as "homebrew" worlds. Meaning, the games don't necessarily take place in a published Dungeons and Dragons setting. So, I'm going to have to have a couple of answers for this one, actually.

Favorite published gameworld is a split between two I've never really played in (a single game session or two each, not games that took off): Ravenloft, and Planescape.

Ravenloft is a horror gameworld which D&D didn't even publish in 3rd edition, "Sword and Sorcery" did (I think they were White Wolf's D20 subsidiary). I don't know when it was first published, though I'll guess 2nd, without looking anything up to verify. But, it's a single continent world (maybe with some island?), with the countries broken up by the "mists", which were supernatural borders which could let you through, or not. And could pull you from your other worlds. So in Ravenloft, a country with Renaissance era tech existed, as did a nearly stone age one. Ravenloft also has a playable race of gypsies, the Vistani, who were immediately appealing to me. They were inherently magical, had tarot involvement (though I think they called it Tarokka; I have one of those decks. I've never used it to do a "real" Tarot reading, but the art is lovely).

Planescape didn't properly get picked up in 3rd edition, and there's always the hope that they'll do something with it again in 5th edition. Planescape: Torment was a video game I played in college, with had 2nd edition rules, and took place largely in the city of Sigil, which is also referred to as the "City of Doors". Arguably you could to and from anywhere in Sigil, provided you had the right key, at the right door. Also, you may or may not be able to purchase Planescape: Torment on Steam, and you should, because it was an amazing game with really great writing and story in it. So a D&D game which started in Sigil, or reached Sigil, could go literally anywhere, and have elements of literally everything. Sigil also has a number of factions, each with their own philosophies, goals, and appearance,  and learning the details of this through playing Planescape: Torment was a fascinating and very satisfying experience for me.

My favorite homebrew worlds are also split between two, though, both run by Jim: the first is the fantasy world he was running when we were in college, that he set the long-running Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil game in (despite it's core setting being Greyhawk or whatever). He'd run it for some time before then, as well; it miay or may not be where his longest running 2nd edition game originated before it became a planeswalking game. Many (most?) of our college games were set there, and it's really cool to hear characters and events referenced from a fresh character standpoint; it's a nice in joke, it's getting the reference, and it makes for a rich experience. The other is the Steampunk world he created in college, when we bought the "Sorcery and Steam" book, but which evolved over time as editions changed and classes did, and inspiration. The Steam world is one that I think has been one of the most popular at our table, with its dynamism of religion and magic and technology. The playable races waxed and waned a few times in the steam world, as did the roles and perceptions of sorcerers and wizards in the overall scheme of things. At one point it was largely monotheistic, with a very strong main church, which isn't necessarily done so often in fantasy worlds. But it was a world which touched many games, most of which I was involved in, so again, it was guaranteed to be a rich experience when one is knowledgeable of the game world and still learn and do new things within it.

But there have been others. A game Dave ran where the gods were dead and not dead. A game run by our friend Dan, where I played my labyrinth-whispering tiefling (whose name I just can't remember). The list goes on, so many new worlds, so many worlds which had elements of other games we enjoyed. The possibilities are infinite, and the inherent groupthink of D&D only makes it better.

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