What do you want out of a Fantasy Setting?

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As someone who loves world building and DMing DnD, I put alot of thought into creating fantasy worlds. I also look at alot of other ones for ideas and inspiration. Middle Earth from Lord of the Rings, Tamriel from The Elder Scrolls, Hyrule and all the other places from Legend of Zelda, and tons more.

And while I love my custom setting, I also kinda hate it and have been rethinking how I want it to be, but I also wonder what other people like and want.

So I am asking. Books, games, movies, tabletop RPG settings, etc, what do you want out of a fantasy setting?

Do you want high fantasy where people fly to work as wizard janitors on griffons? Where magic is common, widespread, and does everything and anything?

Do you prefer low fantasy? Where people dont believe in dragons...but then a dragon shows up and its this epic thing because magic is super rare and taboo?

Somewhere in the middle?

Do you want settings inspired by our real life mythology? Or our real world cultures? Fantasy settings based on Greek or Egyptian or Asian myth?

Do you prefer it traditional with tree hugging elves, Scottish sounding dwarves, and hoards of angry evil orcs?

Do you prefer it to feel like your on an alien world...but during its own medieval time period?

And how do you prefer to enjoy your favorite fantasy settings? Reading books and imagining it all in your head? Trouncing through it, sword in hand, via video games? Or roleplaying it at your kitchen table with friends?

And ofcourse, what do you hate in fantasy settings that turn you off and push you away?

Dont have to answer this point by point, was more trying to give people things to consider when answering.

As traditional as it can possibly be.

And it needs to have Paladins. I love Paladins.

Samtemdo8:
As traditional as it can possibly be.

And it needs to have Paladins. I love Paladins.

Care to elaborate more? Maybe some comparisons/references for what does and or does not meet traditional for you?

A common sense RPG.

Instead of some random village in the mountain (that just happens to be located before the final boss) having the best equipment in the game, it is instead found in specialized markets in major cities. I'm furious when a group of 15-year olds with neon coloured spiky hair is being tasked with the saving of the world. It would be preferred if it was given to experienced, hand-picked specialists their late 30's/early 40's. Instead of using the "Fire" or "Water" elements (seriously?) you would use real chemical elements, such as carbon or germanium. You thought mastering 4 elements was tough? Try 118. When the ancient evil comes back, it's easily and quickly destroyed with modern tactics and technology. When you find the 1000-year old Sword of Greatness, it is found to be unusable due to the decay of time.

And the main villian has to follow the Evil Overlord List.

Saelune:

So I am asking. Books, games, movies, tabletop RPG settings, etc, what do you want out of a fantasy setting?

Do you want high fantasy where people fly to work as wizard janitors on griffons? Where magic is common, widespread, and does everything and anything?

Do you prefer low fantasy? Where people dont believe in dragons...but then a dragon shows up and its this epic thing because magic is super rare and taboo?

Somewhere in the middle?

The only real preference I have is that I prefer high fantasy to low fantasy. However, people often misunderstand what these terms mean, so to clarify, high fantasy is where the setting itself is unique, where there's literally a fantasy world. Low fantasy is our world with fantastical elements. That doesn't stop me from enjoying low fantasy (e.g. Harry Potter), but I generally prefer the world to be separate from our own (not getting into gray areas such as Lord of the Rings, Chronicles of Narnia, etc. - whatever links they have with our world, I mostly consider them high fantasy).

Saelune:

Do you want settings inspired by our real life mythology? Or our real world cultures? Fantasy settings based on Greek or Egyptian or Asian myth?

It's not something I inherently desire, but I find that fantasy settings usually work better with a real world analogy/counterpart. I think the main reason is that real-world history is rich in...well, history, so using that in a fantasy setting helps give it a solid foundation.

That said, I have read the idea that (high) fantasy should inherently reflect the real world, and on that note, I don't agree. You can have a good fantasy setting that has no real-world analogue. Off the top of my head, Xenoblade Chronicles, which has no real-world analogues. The setting itself is absolutely bonkers, but it's still an interesting setting.

Saelune:

Do you prefer it traditional with tree hugging elves, Scottish sounding dwarves, and hoards of angry evil orcs?

Eh...not too much.

I mean, I'm fine with these things, but in this day and age, I think you can do more with these tropes then simply playing it straight. As in, I'm fine with orcs who are good, elves who are dicks, dwarves who do stuff other than mine, etc.

Saelune:

Do you prefer it to feel like your on an alien world...but during its own medieval time period?

Not too much, though I haven't come across this idea. Usually with high fantasy settings, the price for entry is "this world exists, deal with it." The world itself doesn't have to conform to our own understanding of planetology.

Saelune:

And how do you prefer to enjoy your favorite fantasy settings? Reading books and imagining it all in your head? Trouncing through it, sword in hand, via video games? Or roleplaying it at your kitchen table with friends?

Don't have an inherent favorite, but I'm not, and have never been into tabletop roleplaying. I was into tabletop wargaming though.

Saelune:

And ofcourse, what do you hate in fantasy settings that turn you off and push you away?

Thing I dislike most is when you rip off Lord of the Rings and don't do anything original.

A lot of Western fantasy owes itself to LotR, and I can accept that. However, the least I ask is that if you use LotR as a template, do something original with it. Off the top of my head, there's Shannara and The Wheel of Time, which basically adapt Lord of the Rings into their respective first installments. While their sequels do help distinguish their worlds, these are two fantasy settings I've never really been enamored with. Their origins as pseudo-adaptations aren't the root cause of this, but they don't help my ability to try and get into them.

Samtemdo8:

And it needs to have Paladins. I love Paladins.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Otf9Bnm48Kk

I don't think I care too much what it does, just how it does it. Berserk has one of my favourite Fantasy settings not because it has elements of Lovecraftian, knights and castles, magic, alternate dimensions, and fairy tales, but because how well it manages to splice it together into a cohesive universe.

I like the setting of The Witcher 3 because of how mundane and unromantic the fantastical elements are presented. Where someone getting dragged off by a ghoul is seen as no more special than someone choking on a bit of food. And where anyone can just accidentally place a curse on someone by losing their temper.

Some originality would be nice. If you are going to set your story in the usual theme park version of Medieval England, you need something to make yourself stand out, cause half of all fantasy did that as well.

Fantasy? As in what my ideal would be?

Hrm, I'm going to say nWoD/CoD-style fairies. As in the type of inhuman, irreconcilable monsters with god-like powers within their alien realms that will steal away with humans to keep them as slaves and playthings, twist them with magic, transform them into mockeries of their former humanity that are witless of the ways to escape from their shackles until one fleeting chance to claw their way back home. To a place that more often than not hasn't even felt the loss of their presence due to the inhuman constructs the Fair Folk left behind to assume your place.

You know, fairies that are awesome and inhumanly alien, and beyond the capacity of mortals to understand. Bringing only despair, destruction, twisted wrecks of sanity lost, and untimely death.

Esoteric magic systems that cost the player and can potentially backfire that requires a certain level of preparedness?

I think the most important aspect of any fantasy game should be the antagonists. If you can make their reasons, their characterization, their motives alien enough, yet still fit, the rest will follow.

Changeling is kind of my favourite Chronicles of Darkness game. I like the mesh of a gothic modern world, mixed with madness, alienesque deities of insanity, twisted and wild magic, and strange inbetween worlds of soul-shredding thorns and deadly bargains and contracts. That which promise power but also hint at the darkness of going too deep down that maddening rabbit hole, and further away from whatever fleeting memories of humanity with its purchase.

Plus I like the idea of playing a character that feeds on human emotion and cultivating parasitic relationships whereby you foster social power through clever and subtle twistings of the powers of dream itself.

How often can you get to play the role of an aloof monster that 'charms' the knight, fosters that intimacy, and through whimsy--bridles them to suffer like all those that think they can tame the unknown? It's delicious roleplay material.

http://whitewolf.wikia.com/wiki/Changeling:_The_Lost

nWoD Changeling is probably the best sourcebook for ideas that are relevant to any sort of game that has aspects of the fantastic and utterly, inhumanly alien. It does live up to its tagline of; "A Storytelling Game of Beautiful Madness."

Particularly games that transgress realms and deal with schisms of a mundane reality experienced by players. If you're going for a more The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath-esque fantasy feel.

That being said, I'm pretty sure my love of these types of things is partly the result of my dad telling me a shitload about Celtic mythology as a kid. All the stuff his (possibly mad) grandmother told him to watch out for as a kid.

I like my settings to reflect LOTR/DnD/Pathfinder tropes- a world of mainly humans, with maybe a few other races like elves, dwarves, orcs, gnomes and/or muls to add some variety. Individual motivations work against racial stereotypes- there are evil elves, charismatic dwarves, selfless humans, etc. (when I roleplay, however, I cannot stand to play any of the fantasy common races like humans, or elves- I prefer monsters, the less 'human' the better, and I also prefer inventing their societies/cultures/relations with other races/racial traits)

These racial stereotypes are built on ignorance- the same ignorance that states here there be dragons, forbidden places, etc.,the ignorance created from poverty, disasters and horror. This is the other aspect I like in my settings, or at least the ones I tend to gravitate towards DMing/enjoy reading about- I despise utopias and thriving humanity/ golden ages (unless events quickly lead to a catastrophic fall, thus getting me back to my preferred state). I need the setting to be repressive, for the common folk to be cowed, and the wealthier classes to be hamstrung, whether through disturbed trade routes or heavy losses faced through war or other failed endeavors. A (superficially, at least) Dark Age.

In this environment, I like watching the brave strike out and effect change, the smart to solve mysteries, and the daring to help others in need. Repressed folk can rise up, roles challenged- in effect, I want the actions of the players (or at least contemporary NPCs) to be the driving force behind change in their world. They don't have to start out as making world-changing decisions, obviously, but that's the way I like to direct the events, even if they are incidental results.

It really depends. My favorite setting of all time is Nehwon, specifically Lankhmar, City of the Black Toga and the Sevenscore Thousand Smokes. Which is, overall, pretty low-fantasy.

But then I also love Warhammer Fantasy Battle, which is a strange mix of High and Low fantasy. And I also like Age of Sigmar, which is all High Fantasy all the time.

I only have two big preferences:

A) I'm a sucker for settings in Ancient Time. You know, Ancient Mesopotamia. Bronze Age stuff. With Hittites and Assyrians and Akkadians and all that good stuff (Blame Nippur of Lagash for this one).

B)I really like Post Apocapyltic Fantasy (think Earthdawn or Numenera). Where the Magic may be Magic, or maybe it's old technology. Where players can find ruins of the civilisations from before, except instead of a laser gun they find an ancient magical weapon made with techniques long lost. Or maybe they DO find a laser gun. It just tickles my fancy something fierce.

Which is why it would surprise no one that my own setting includes both of these.

Other than that, I like my settings to be consistent within the rules they've established for themselves, and for those rules to have a modicum of sense:

- If there's racial enmnity (the old Dwarfs vs Elves), why?
- If race X is extremely good at Z, why?
- If Magic works way X and not Z, why?
- If something in the setting is like something in the real world, but it doesn't work like it does in our world, why? (Guns are the biggest and most common thing where I ask this question)

That sort of stuff.

Sorry for the long post, I just really like Fantasy.

These days I've been finding myself more and more interested in the very lack of any thoughts of verisimilitude or consistency displayed by the worlds of 80's cartoons like He-Man or Thundercats. True, the shows themselves were, to put it mildly, nothing much in terms of writing, but I really miss the amount of sheer imagination, unbridled by any constraints of convention or habit (or simple common sense) that went into them.

You know, where you could have a literal race of robotic teddy bears, because screw considerations like "how would that even work" or "that doesn't make sense in any conceivable way".

Th3Ch33s3Cak3:
A common sense RPG.

Instead of some random village in the mountain (that just happens to be located before the final boss) having the best equipment in the game, it is instead found in specialized markets in major cities. I'm furious when a group of 15-year olds with neon coloured spiky hair is being tasked with the saving of the world. It would be preferred if it was given to experienced, hand-picked specialists their late 30's/early 40's. Instead of using the "Fire" or "Water" elements (seriously?) you would use real chemical elements, such as carbon or germanium. You thought mastering 4 elements was tough? Try 118. When the ancient evil comes back, it's easily and quickly destroyed with modern tactics and technology. When you find the 1000-year old Sword of Greatness, it is found to be unusable due to the decay of time.

And the main villian has to follow the Evil Overlord List.

You should play Secret of Evermore on the SNES. It doesn't meet your requirement of the hero being in his 30's/40's, but he's initially not trying to save the world either. Also the magic system is based on mixing together various ingredients.

I want the setting to be as colorful, fantastical, and outright ridiculous as possible, but the people to feel completely real and the problems they face be comparable to problems we face here.

Having played in a number of fantasy worlds (both in tabletop and in video games), I come to understand that I can go with a wide range of fantasy options and be fairly content. Of course, with that in mind, I like trope-breakers the best.

I'm actually a big fan of hellscapes and eldritch horrors. I loved the Dante's Inferno game, and I play as many lovecraft video games as are worth playing.
So i need a hero's journey, a tortured hell world to travel through, a big fuck off axe or mace, and preferably evil chanting.
Also cultists. Maybe its the 40k fan in me, but cultists are my Nazis - I can kill them all day and not feel bad. I can drown a cultist in its own piss, and be smiling the whole time!

What I'm saying is I want to make the most out of the setting. Its like when people say the best 40k stories are about regular Guardsmen - its utterly baffling. In a setting of werewolf space viking, planet sized monsters, deamons manifesting every sin, space elves, Egyptian cyborg zombies, football hooligans in greenface, and giant mecha weeaboos, you really want to see what Frank and Sally are doing?! What a waste of the premise!

Do something cool with the setting, don't waste it.

I have been on a "Flintlock Fantasy" binge recently. It can be high or low fantasy but technology is firmly in the late 1700s or early 1800s - the industrial revolution is just around the corner.

Magic, something that only the few elite have access to, has some serious competition with technology being available to the lowest commoner.

Now mages who dominated battlefields can be felled by a single plucky recruit with a muzzle-loading musket.

Brian McClellan's "Power Mage" series explores this wonderfully.

Ok here's my formula...

+1 for gravitas. Regardless of the context of your story and how interesting or rote it is, if you get characters that can emote or act properly I'm willing to overlook some of the cliches.

+1 if it has either lots or almost no magic, setting with moderate magic (at least for me) have been done too much, granted they can still be good but you have to have some other quality to draw me in.

+2 for exoticism, if the environment, races, culture is something new or something old but with a good spin on it. I'm willing to overlook a lot for this.

+2 setting created with a clear sense of anthropology. Ie if there are dragons and kobolds and they are so numerous and deadly then why do humans / elves / dwarves exist and how have the draconian hordes not become the dominant race (they don't have to be just or good, they just have to suffer under the yolk of consequences. KINDA LIKE EVERYTHING IN REAL LIFE).

+2 good villains. Any series where the villain has a decent amount of screen time and has goals that make sense and are practical.

TakerFoxx:
I want the setting to be as colorful, fantastical, and outright ridiculous as possible, but the people to feel completely real and the problems they face be comparable to problems we face here.

More or less what I always look for. I love high fantasy settings and to see the creators imagination on full display, but I love realistic characters in these settings. It's the perfect combination in my mind for complete immersion in a fantasy world.

EDIT: On another note, I'm paying close attention to other people's answers here. I'm coming up with ideas for my own game (which is set in a fantasy world), so your opinions on fantasy settings are all welcome. I mean, I'm also realizing how unlikely it is that it'll ever actually get made given my current circumstances, but still. The more ideas I come up with, the more likely it is to one day exist - but also the more sad I'll be if it never does.

I'm with Casual Shinji. If the world feels enough like a living breathing world, I'll accept it no matter what it has in it. I want to feel like I'm exploring something new and unfamiliar, even if it has things I've seen before like elves and dwarves. If if it runs on old familiar plot tropes rather than an honest attempt to realistically capture an alternate reality, then my sense of wonder will be gone.

Originality is a big plus for me. If I'm reading a fantasy book, or watching a fantasy film, or playing a fantasy game, then my greatest desire is to dive into a fascinating new world. I mean in reality, yeah, there's only so many ideas out there, but I'd prefer to avoid cookie-cutter moulds like Tolkien knock-offs that have been done to death. Riffing off mythology or legends isn't so bad, especially if it's from a mythos we don't see often.

Aside from that, I like real and raw fantasy. I don't expect strict scientific accuracy, but things being roughly plausible is nice. Magic is preferably rare, mystical and hard to master. If there are non-human races, then they are significantly different from humans, more along the line of dragons or nature spirits rather elves or dwarves. A world as rich as our own, with a multitude of nations, peoples, languages, and faiths, is ideal.

A lot of what I think of can be said of fiction in general (the world making sense on some level, not having the plot being insanely complex for the sake of complexity). I usually prefer when magic in a setting is treated "scientifically" meaning it follows some rules, as it feels less lazy and more "realistic" (if that makes sense). Other than that I won't really judge the setting too much as long as the writing is good.

Saelune:
As someone who loves world building and DMing DnD, I put alot of thought into creating fantasy worlds. I also look at alot of other ones for ideas and inspiration. Middle Earth from Lord of the Rings, Tamriel from The Elder Scrolls, Hyrule and all the other places from Legend of Zelda, and tons more.

And while I love my custom setting, I also kinda hate it and have been rethinking how I want it to be, but I also wonder what other people like and want.

So I am asking. Books, games, movies, tabletop RPG settings, etc, what do you want out of a fantasy setting?

Do you want high fantasy where people fly to work as wizard janitors on griffons? Where magic is common, widespread, and does everything and anything?

Do you prefer low fantasy? Where people dont believe in dragons...but then a dragon shows up and its this epic thing because magic is super rare and taboo?

Somewhere in the middle?

Do you want settings inspired by our real life mythology? Or our real world cultures? Fantasy settings based on Greek or Egyptian or Asian myth?

Do you prefer it traditional with tree hugging elves, Scottish sounding dwarves, and hoards of angry evil orcs?

Do you prefer it to feel like your on an alien world...but during its own medieval time period?

And how do you prefer to enjoy your favorite fantasy settings? Reading books and imagining it all in your head? Trouncing through it, sword in hand, via video games? Or roleplaying it at your kitchen table with friends?

And ofcourse, what do you hate in fantasy settings that turn you off and push you away?

Dont have to answer this point by point, was more trying to give people things to consider when answering.

I look for originality. The majority of medieval western fantasies bore me to death.

Prefer Sci fi and modern to future settings.

In terms of the game universe, I'm not too picky. But it does need to be a place that wows me somehow. A place that has mysterious and powerful things and people/beings in it. It needs to have places of beauty and darkness both. Also, game-wise, it should have:

Absence of crappy Diablo-style loot systems.
Every item being at least somewhat useful instead of just vendor trash.
Rare but powerful potions.
A very powerful and complex but balanced magic system.

The first Fable is actually a really great example of a universe like this, besides Elder Scrolls. The gameplay systems themselves were kinda simplistic, sure, but putting that aside to look at its world, it's easy and awesome to get lost in. Also, it's a small thing but the lore behind and the look of the Sword of Aeons and how it drove the plot of the first Fable is hella awesome.

I love everything about Dragon Age's fantasy world. It has a lot of the basic fantasy tropes (elves and dwarfs and dragons), but builds on them in unique ways, with their culture, and how things work.

For example: Mages exist in Dragon Age, but they are considered to be very dangerous by the majority of the world, so they are locked up in Mage towers, where they may study magic in as safe of an environment as possible. They are also under constant supervision of the main religious group (The Chantry), and their military force (The Templars).

Mages who have fled the Mage Towers, or were never a part of them, are hunted by The Templars, and are either sent back to the towers, or killed on site.

Mages are also at constant risk of being possessed by demons, and dangerous mages can be stripped of their powers by being made Tranquil, which also strips them of their emotions, and their ability to have dreams.

Dwarves are also unable to become mages, because they cannot connect to the dreamworld, and they are in constant proximity to the magic-dampening mineral known as Lyrium.

I just find this stuff so fascinating.

How this would be reflected in a D&D setting would be that Mages are powerful, but they need to be careful where they use their abilities, as it may attract unwanted attention, especially around religious centers.

TL;DR - Use basic fantasy tropes, as they are easy to understand and visualise, but give them faults.

I am also a sucker for cool names like Apostates, The Circle of Magi, and the Tevinter Imperium

I have a preference for magic being present as instant and/or temporary effects and can be quite powerful, but +3 swords are pretty freaking rare. I don't mind the usual demihuman tropes, but not too typecast. For what it's worth, I'd recommend the "World of Hats" video from Overly Sarcastic Productions if you haven't seen it already. And "The Nature of Cliche's" from Terrible Writing Advice. It could help you avoid common ruts with a well-used trope.

Turn offs? Drow. You don't need to have black skin and white hair to be an cruel elf. And please, do not wield dual curved longswords.

Ever since I read Tolkien everything feels like it's trying to be Tolkien. Always with the elves and the dwarves and the orcs. So not that, please. The man already did it way better than you already.

I would like the story in the Souls games if it was told properly rather than being concealed in item descriptions and lengthy Wikia entries surmised from I don't know where.

The thing i like to see most in a fantasy setting is a magic system that makes sense.

The thing i like to see more in a fantasy setting is how a magic system affects the world and its people.

A thing i like to see even more is a setting that accomplishes the above with multiple systems of magic.

The thing i like to see most is how systems of magic interact with each other.

Why does it have to be fantasy? For me personally it's magic that drives me away from such games, yet it seems a vital part of the fantasy genre. Hence I'm wondering why we can't have a different genre. Like Dieselpunk, for instance.

I prefer towards the lower end of fantasy, magic is still there but its just not common and it should inspire wonder in the characters as much as the readers.

I like things that take a familiar kind of fantasy, but make it their own. Dragon Age was good for that, you had your Dwarfs and Elves and werewolves and golems and stuff, but they wern't all just Tolkin's Elves, Dwarves, whatevers transplanted into another setting, the Elves were an ex-enslaved race that barely remembered their glory days, the Dwarves had their ridged cast system and so on.

Divinity's flesh eating elves are another thing that I quite liked and its things like that that inspired me to keep playing.

Of cause with this being fantasy I like the opposite of what I just said every now and then, just to keep a bit of variety. Anime seems to go for high fantasy a lot more than low I would say, I just don't think I can take them as seriously as more low fantasy settings. Maybe its just the stuff I've seen, I don't know.

One thing I do think is essential for me, low or high, is that the magic system has to be consistent. If you set up the laws of magic as being can do X but can't do Y, don't have the main character do Y and hand wave it as being because he's special or something.

No matter what world you create or how much passion you poured into it, it will always be shit compared to IRL, because you are shit and your ideas aren't original. And this isn't an insult to your thinking capabilities - every single human being on Earth is bound to this planet, its realities and can only create what he knows. This is the core problem of all fiction.

So, I don't ask a lot. All I ask is structured internal and consistent internal logic. As long as it makes logical sense within the context of the world we're in, I'm OK with whatever you throw at me.

I am honestly surprised by the sheer variety of everyone's preferences. It both makes me feel better and worse, since I cant make a world that will impress everyone, but thats why I shouldnt worry about it.

Saelune:
I am honestly surprised by the sheer variety of everyone's preferences. It both makes me feel better and worse, since I cant make a world that will impress everyone, but thats why I shouldnt worry about it.

DMs are supposed to have fun ... and players are the ones that kind of need to compromise on what they're looking for. With my Fragged Empire game I wrote up a starting 'mission' chain that explains how the players get their spaceship and let them build up to a suitable level and realistically gain influence to be able to afford a decent starting ship.

I set up these mission chains as specific events in a timeline ... introduction of other posthuman races as the timeline evolves. Different feels (survival, exploration, war, and answering an ancient mystery) ... and basically wrote up the themes of each time in the timeline and what the 'central core' of what the specific timeline's events will bring in terms of big changes to the setting.

Group has 5 players so it's useful for voting purposes.

The players chose the war theme, and went full Battlestar Galactica with their starting ship.

Hunk of Junk Twi-Far Dreadnought that was all about the point defence weapons and a super-expanded manned combat fighter group bay. Low CPU, all about the Hull (for additional supplies to maintain longer trips), Engines, and Crew with multiple large rooms for roleplaying-wise carrying refugees and soldiers.

Made for some epic scenes given the central theme starting with them persistently retreating ... and given the shitty CPU score the combat jumps to get away from fights they can't really win made it really tense ... and often resulted in persistent combat fighter casualties helping to blow up missiles and intercept enemy fighters, and cripple the occasional enemy frigate if it got too close. Immediately landing back on the dreadnought right as it was about to make its final combat jump check.

I always make it a point of order to spend a few hours memorising the sheets players make. Because that often tells me what they're looking for in a game ... so if they compromise for a theme and worldbuilding I'm outlying loosely with an intial campaign readout ... it gives me a chance to smoothe over people who might feel somewhat out of the loop of what the rest of the group chose.

It's also pretty important to memorise player sheets not only to provide challenge, but also because no one wants to go into a game expecting something, and building a character that they feel fills that niche, only for them to find out that their character is kind of persistently pointless.

I remember a game of Traveller where my character actually rolled up owning their own Free Trader. I was psyched because I love roleplaying merchants, smugglers, and the more socially inclined characters. And it turned out the "exploration" aspects of the setting were more survival orientated sessions, in unexplored sections of space.

I was kind of hoping by 'exploration' they meant things like prospecting, discovering new trade routes, etc...

You kind of don't want to fall into that sort of situation where players enter your campaign with one idea of what you mean by something, and end up with a character they desperately do not want to play after they spent hours creating a backstory, naming their now useless equipment, and simply having nothing to do.

I will say that the big advantage D&D has is if you pick a setting, players kind of have a pretty good idea of what they're getting into. They understand what they're getting into with a Planescape game, or Ravenloft, or Forgotten Realms...

The more esoteric the game, the more confused your players will be.

I like fantasy settings combined with others kind of settings. The steampunk feel on Final Fantasy VI (where magic almost destroyed the world 1,000 years before the main plot), and the amalgam with the modern world in Final Fantasy XV were some of my favorite parts from those games.

I admit going in that I'm no great fan of the traditional swords and sorcery type fantasy genre, but I think a lot of it is just because of the things I would want out of the genre, namely less grimdarkness for its own sake, and at least a token attempt to not be a shameless reskin of Tolkien's archetypes.

Given the choice of setting for fantasy I like urban fantasy or low-magic settings, like ASoIaF did a pretty good job with, though the more recent seasons of the show pushed the magic a bit too far for me.

Caitseith above mentioned FFXV, and that's actually an excellent example. Narrative shortcomings aside, XV's setting and sense of aesthetic were perfect to me.

- A sense of the world having its own history. It doesn't need to dump massive amounts of lore on my head, but it should feel lived in, not like a themed playground.

- "Low fantasy". Magic is crazy rare. The average person will go their whole lives never seeing anything remotely magical and will likely not believe in its existence.

- Protagonists don't get magic. It tends to necessitate explaining the magic and the more you explain magic the less magical it is.

- Tries to avoid at least some of the vanilla fantasy setting cliches. I like fantasy races, but if someone trots out forest-dwelling elves with bows I'm already half asleep.

- Massive bonus points if it's based on something other than Medieval Europe or Feudal Japan.

- Moderate bonus points if it avoids Greek or Norse mythology.

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