The Hotness
Legacy of Dragonholt
Book 1: Highway Holocaust
Alas Vegas
Kids on Bikes
Genesys Core Rulebook
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay Core Set
Blue Rose (2nd Edition)
Traveller Boxed Set
Elven Lords
Scarlet Heroes
Player's Handbook (D&D 5e)
The End of the World: Revolt of the Machines
The Armitage Files
Rise of the Runelords Anniversary Edition
Horror Companion Explorer's Edition
Dungeon Crawl Classics Role Playing Game
Star Wars: Edge of the Empire Beginner Game
Horror on the Orient Express (2nd Edition)
Woodland Warriors Complete
Arcana Rising
Cepheus Engine System Reference Document
Tales from the Loop
Adventures in the Human Sphere
Myranische Formeln
H1: Keep on the Shadowfell
Deities & Demigods
Thieves' World
Dungeons & Dragons Set 1: Basic Rules
Dungeons & Dragons Set 2: Expert Rules
Mythic Game Master Emulator
GAZ2: The Emirates of Ylaruam
GAZ1: The Grand Duchy of Karameikos
Dungeons & Dragons Set 5: Immortals Rules
The Dresden Files Roleplaying Game, Volume 1: Your Story
Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set
Chronicles of Arax: Solo Adventure Game
Stars Without Number: Core Edition
Dungeons: A Solo Adventure Game
Star Wars: Edge of the Empire Core Rulebook
Forgive Us
Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set
Spellbook Cards: Arcane
Spellbook Cards: Cleric
Alone Against the Flames
Blades in the Dark
Curse of Strahd
Star Trek Adventures Core Book
Albino Peacock
King Arthur Pendragon (Edition 5.2)
 Thumb up

RPG Design Study #1: The Most Resonant Fantasy Settings

Chris Flood
United States
flag msg tools
What settings in a fantasy world are most familiar to or popular with gamers? These are the places that every fantasy world seems to have, especially those "kitchen sink" ones that try to appeal to everyone. The main differences are geographical, demographic, and so on, but most importantly plot-related. Each setting has a different type of story structure attached to it, which is why we find them pop up so frequently. Reviewing popular publications, I've come up with five catch-all categories.

The Town with a Secret is a popular choice for low-level starter adventures. PCs follow up on various leads to uncover some hidden agenda and then face down the hidden enemy in a climactic battle. Examples include Bogenhafen and Orlane.

The Outpost by a Hinterland is also popular for introductory scenarios but seems to have more legs for sustained play. PCs explore the hinterland, frequently dotted with ruins or remains of a forgotten civilization. The outpost itself might feature some intrigue, but it's primarily a home base for the PCs. Examples include Keep on the Borderlands and the West Marches.

The Faction-Filled City--every setting has one: Waterdeep, Ptolus, Sigil, Middenheim...the list could go on. PCs get wrapped up in inter-factional conflict and politics, complex hidden agendas, alliances and betrayals, and so on.

The Lair of Evil is where some dark power has been brewing for ages. PCs might have to unravel some of its mystery before getting there, but eventually they must enter the stronghold and take on a powerful foe. Examples include Ravenloft and Castle Wittgenstein.

The Exotic Locale Requiring a Lengthy Expedition provides similar opportunities for exploration as the hinterland but PCs lack the safety of a home base. They have to plan for extended travel and danger. The inspiration for this category was the "Underdark," which seems to pop up somewhere in most fantasy settings, but I think it's functionally the same as, say, the "Frozen North," the "Lost World" Island, and so on. But maybe each warrants its own category.

From this forum discussion, I've procured another one:

The Well-Traveled Path like a road or a caravan route is another common setting, particularly for introductory adventures. Movement is easy, and exploration of exotic locales is low. Possibilities for social interaction are high, but not as high as they would be in a populated area. There might be some regional politics the players would get involved in, but it's not nearly the same scale as the factional stuff you get in cities. This setting is particularly conducive to mercenary-style, adventurers-for-hire play, as PCs travel from one place to the next picking up local missions. The foremost example from a top-rated game is the river in The Enemy Within Campaign Volume 2: Death on the Reik, which affords the PCs high mobility and relative safety.

What do you think? What have I missed?
Twitter Facebook
Subscribe sub options Mon Mar 30, 2015 9:02 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}




Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.