It's been waaaaaay too long since my last post here. Most of my online time has been spent on other pursuits. One of these has been setting up the blog (http://dndhomeland.blogspot.com/) for my new D&D Camapaign, "Homeland". The blog is all player knowledge and is a useful resource for players wishing to familiarize themselves with this brand new setting.
The setting is based, in part, on a memory of an old Dragon Magazine article on adventuring close to home. I wanted to create a setting that was intimate to the players and their characters. Call it a concept game with a very simple, back to basics concept, but I really wanted to get back to D&D 101 in which the players explored ruins, dungeons and such, seeking adventure for adventure's sake.
I guess it's a bi-product of running the same D&D campaign world since high school (17 years ago). The world had grown so big and become such a living thing that it became increasingly difficult to try new things without having to figure out a million other factors (if Empire A does this then it will effect entities B, C, and D in this way which will cause X, Y, Z and blah blah blah). I wanted something simple again. So, thus was born the concept for Homeland.
In Homeland, the majority, hopefully all, all of the action and adventure will occur within the confines of a single geographic area. In this case it is a large glacial basin called "The Valley of Baryn" where mankind has settled into a rustic, still mostly wild civilization.
In this setting people are spread out and only really identifiable as a people by a common cultural thread. There are no cities and even the largest towns are simple and quite homey. You have the usual racial mix in this game with local dwarves and elves visiting from neighboring realms with limited residence in the valley itself. Haflings and gnomes are not native to the valley either adding a bit of an odd mystery as to why only men would settle there. There are even barbarians in the frozen peaks of the mountains surrounding the valley, allowing the wonderful collection of Barbarian classes and character options to be used.
The setting has been peppered with enough secrets and history to provide a number of adventure hooks -
"Why did the elves abandon the valley?"
"Why is the old human stronghold still abandoned after so many years?"
"What secrets do places like the Misty Valley and the Ghost Hills hold?"
Of course the Homeland setting has plenty of monsters and adversaries build in. I have made sure that the basics are close at hand with roving bands of goblins, orcs, etc harrowing the people of the valley. Thre are giants and ogres and things that go bump in the night. One thing lacking in the setting are dragons. Not that they don't exist in the world at large, but dragons are not found in the valley itself.
I have created many custom and modified creatures and such for the setting as well. One example is a decision to make the boar into a signature creature for the campaign. In the Valley of Baryn, boars come in all shapes and sizes and so far I must have invented about seven or eight distinct types of boars from Cliff Hogs to Iron Tusks. Also among the modified creatures of this setting are a reworked Troll that is closer to its Scandinavian origins - clever, crafty, magical powerful and a force to be reckoned with.
I have also set up a single external threat as a focus for inter-realm plot-lines. A steppe nation north of the valley called Gallow represents the major political and social rival for the simple folk of the valley. Gallow is a nation of tough and rugged people who have eked out an existence in a cruel, sparse steppe land.
The Homeland setting even allows for water adventures and such as the valley opens to a coastal bay. Here the people of the valley work as fishermen and traders and run into conflict with coastal monsters. To this end I have worked the Locathah into the setting as a constant threat to these coastal lands.
So, a simple setting? Well, simple in concept but complex in the details. Working on a single core location has allowed me to work in all manner of character that might go overlooked in farther reaching settings. I have worked in holidays, local foods, household dynamics, etc.
So far it's been a great experience and I would suggest that every DM try making their own simple, back to basics game setting at some point.