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What kind of campaign style and mood do you enjoy the most?

Written by Expy - Published on September 9, 2009

The Dungeon Mastering crew is working on a top secret project. It will be a series of short books based on the “points of light” concept of D&D. The world is a dark and dangerous place and there are a few safe havens, a few points of light in the darkness. We will be writing (and asking you to participate too) about pre-selected locations.  It’s a systemless project, not necessarily D&D, so I wanted to ask you:

What kind of campaign do you enjoy? Which style and mood appeal to you? Combat or Roleplay heavy? Urban or wilderness setting? Sea or land.

Thanks for taking a minute and leaving a comment!

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24 Responses to “What kind of campaign style and mood do you enjoy the most?”
  1. Adrian, UK says:

    Personally I prefer games based in a city.
    It’s nice to leave the city now and again, but I find the political machinations and cause and effects of your actions make the game so unpredictable, and gives so many ideas for twists in the plot that the DM can so easily pull the unexpected out of the hat.
    I tend to find wilderness only campaigns start to get very samey. Wandering monsters. Forest. Mountain. Village decimated by goblins. Overgrown ancient temple etc…

    I also find the city based games, due to their nature, lead to better roleplay. Sure it’s great to have a fight each session, even little ones against the odd mugger, but overall I find that you get more in to character if the roleplay elements are there for you to start thinking like your character.

    Adrian, UK

  2. Geek Ken says:

    I have to agree with the first comment, having a city at the forefront of a campaign brings out a lot more possibilities than a wilderness campaign. You can incorporate a lot of politics and rival factions in a city setting. Whether is is rival temples, merchants, or nobles, players can be dumped into situations where they have to determine which group they will support. Sometimes this can be a little murky (if the DM so wishes).

    While I think making a run in the wilderness is a good break, having a city as the main backdrop makes for a more interesting setting.

  3. I like most styles of game as long as I know what we are playing and we have a chance to make a lasting impact on the game world (even if we do not succeed).

    That being said, I particularly like political games, partly because I am not very good at running them. Political games, in common with urban games, have lots of chances for role playing and building things but things I particularly like.

  4. I prefer sandbox-style, location-based games, where players can pick and choose between the various plot hooks. A typical wilderness with various villages and towns, lairs and dungeons provides for all of that. I’m sure the same requirements can be met using a city adventure. Also consider readability. If I can look at a map, pick a region, and read that part of the book, I’m fine. If I look at Ptolus, I get the feeling that I should be reading the entire book, first, because it’s hard to believe that reading about a certain section of the city will give me enough information. Do I need to check organizations, churches, noble houses to actually understand this particular section? Again, a typical wilderness with very few organizations and plots covering the entire area nicely provides the modularity I’m looking for. This sort of independence also enables me to exchange some of the elements, or let players dramatically alter particlar elements without requiring me to figure out a gazillion consequences for the rest of the book. This also precludes the kind of meticulously planned adventure paths.

  5. Alec Salvati says:

    I prefer Urban with lots of Role play if I am actually playing as a PC. I have to say that too much depth in a setting e.g. reading the whole 200 page book to understand a 5 page description of a town / city (darn you Eberron!) can make it more difficult to DM. Since as a DM I tend to improvise a lot a setting that is malleable to a good extent is what I am looking for.

  6. Sektor says:

    Any style of play is fine with me, as long as there’s enough variation.

    The settings I prefer are cyberpunk, steampunk, and post-nuclear — although I would likely never turn down anything else.

  7. Steve V says:

    In the 3.5 campaign I ran up until 4e came out, I was running a save the world type of campaign. It was pretty much the only type of game I had ever played in or GM’d. I do really enjoy it.

    Since we started playing 4e a little over a year ago, I have been running a sandbox style game using the POL map from the DMG. This is just fantastic for me and my players. Everything the players could be interested in doing is relatively close by. Eventually, though, there will be a major save the world plot- or at least save the Nentir Vale- when they reach epic. But that isn’t going to happen for a long time. So my vote is for sandbox with major plot lines eventually tying in to one big final epic campaign before the players retire their characters.

    Personally I really enjoy plot lines that let me think and figure things out when I play. It could be any plot line- political, intrigue, murder mystery, etc… I end up playing the wizards and clerics of the group with good INT, WIS, and CHA.

  8. Mike E. says:

    I’d have to say that pretty much everyone has nailed what kind of settings I either run or play in. I tend to like pulpy, over the top action, mixed with political intrigue, looming dangers, and oppressive shadows.

    I am currently running a exploration save the world campaign in a destroyed version of Eberron. When this campaign wraps up I will set the next one in the “standard” starting point of Eberron (3.5) and place the characters in Sharn.

    I tend to alternate between these kind of settings to give players a different flavor.

  9. Ian Winterbottom says:

    I personally prefer Land campaigns, only because I have no experience of any other? Wilderness adventures are easy to do, but City ones are more detailed and fun? Both to play in and to run, so long as the players are willing to make an effort? They have to be willing to use imagination or it goes sour rapidly? Also prefer 50-50 Roleplaying and Combat?

  10. Yax says:

    Thanks for the feedback everyone. Keep it coming!

  11. Drew? says:

    Underdark/Dungeon Setting every time! Its got it all for me, I’ve spent MANY a long Campain Underground – both as a Player and a DM, and loved every minute of it. Plus, in the Underdark you can have VAST Caverns with small continents, or great Cities inhabited by who knows what. Its much easier to ‘diverge’ in the Underdark Lol.

  12. forged says:

    I prefer roleplay heavy campaigns. I tend to at least start with urban campaign hubs that branch out into the world because it gives plenty of opporunity for foreshadowing the world in motion before you get there.

    I’m all over the place for settings (fantasy, cyberpunk, space-faring, etc) and ideas.

    I haven’t tried a wilderness focused campaign due to not being overly sure how to make it crunchy enough from a role-playing perspective.

  13. BukaHobbit says:

    To me setting is not as important as feel. As long as the party is the underdog and the role-playing element is high I will probably enjoy it. I’ll always prefer a skin-of-the-teeth style game rather than a power fantasy.

  14. Elijahkaine says:

    I really like dark fantasy and role play heavy games. I love elements of horror mixed in with high adventure.

  15. Thasmodious says:

    “Combat or Roleplay heavy? Urban or wilderness setting? Sea or land.”

    ‘And’ instead of ‘or’ and I’m covered.

  16. The_Gun_Nut says:

    I love intrigue, travelling (whether countryside or big city), investigations, and horror. I love figuring out what’s going on and either putting a stop to it (most likely), helping it (with some of my more twisted characters), or just getting out of the way and watching the mayhem (that particular one was a worshipper of some jester god, I think).

    Seriously, I adore the games that keep me guessing until the last minute. The satisfaction of solving the puzzle is what keeps me coming back.

  17. Spenser says:

    I like either a pulpy feel or one of horror (cosmic or gothic, I go both ways). I tend to like a lot of combat as well, but I like a strong vein of roleplay to be present throughout (strong PC motives and developed NPC identities) and grey-area morality issues. I strongly prefer urban settings (specifically noir cityscapes) with the occasional excursion into the wilderness to follow up on a bit of information obtain in urban adventure.

    I’ve also played in several pirate-themed D&D games, and sea-based adventuring can be a lot of fun, but can get pretty repetitive if you let it.

  18. GroovyTaxi says:

    I just love cities and my players agree with that. You can find any item or service you want easily, contact a guild/faction easily, and the foes you’ll be fighting will be as humanoid as your character is… usually. Fighting an army of enraged stray cats in an alley is always fun too. The shops, roofs, streets, sewers, construction sites and palaces offer an unlimited amount of awesome terrains to fight on!

    I’m also a huge fan of nordic settings. Putting snow and cold pretty much everywhere really helps to the immersion in a game session, because it enables the players to imagine how their characters feel in such a climate (maybe it’s just me, because in Quebec we have very cold and long winters). Nature can become more dangerous than ever, survival is a challenge by itself and there can be tons of variations for monsters (albino goblins are my favorite).

  19. Showbiz says:

    I am also a proponent of the city based campaign. I am currently playing a campaign based out of a new city on the sword coast of Faerun. This city based campaign means that the party are constantly embroiled in the political machinations of the ruling classes whilst the opportunity always exists to pop out of the city for a quick monster romp through the surrounding wilderness.
    Our group use the 3.5 system and this is our third campaign based out of this city. Our campaigns have always been centred around a “save the world” style theme. This particular campaign has been run with three DM’s working in a round robin system. After initial character development we three Dm’s gathered to work out a long term storyline for the players.
    Our campaign has also been enhanced by a series of “Lost” style memory flashes that have throughout the campaign weaved the storyline towards the final conclusion. These ancestral and buried memories have been revealed through pulses of magical energy from a legendary weapon carried buy one of our players. These throughout the campaign have weaved together the back story therefore leading the players to the solutions to their current day problems.

  20. WhitDnD says:

    I really enjoy Coastal settings, almost frontier like town along a coast.

    Also i enjoy roelplaying and combat about the same. When the combat becomes streamlined yet still involved thats when i get all giddy.

    Also, yay for systemless releases.


  21. Ian Winterbottom says:

    I also love city adventures, as I have said above; always wanted to do some kind of Thieves’ Guild adventure with a running battle on thr roofs of a fantasy City, and/or a running duel in its alleys, pursued by overwhelming numbers?
    @ the stray cat post above, what about a gang of Werecat Thieves??

  22. Yax says:

    This is fun. I’m even getting ideas for my own campaign!

  23. Kael says:

    This is actually one of the questions I asked some of my players about a week ago. I’ve been developing my own campaign setting, working off a world I created a few years ago. This has sparked some questions and such so I’ve been polling a large group (15-20) of guys and gals that I’ve played with or DMed in the past.

    As for my answer… it depends on what kind of character I’m playing. If I’m playing a Rogue or a Paladin, I prefer the urban campaigns. I like the idea of being in a single area and being familiar with it. Knowing the locations that certain people are drawn to and such. I like the atmosphere that an urban campaign brings to the game table.

    One of the last urban campaigns I played in, the group got double crossed by some NPC and a fight began to ensue in the city streets. The NPC managed to gain the trust of some of the passers-by and then instead of it being 5 on 1, it became 5 on 15-20, and being a Lawful Neutral Fighter, I wasn’t about to start killing civilians, so it was an interesting situation to be in.

    In the same respect, if I’m playing a character more closely tied to the wilderness, I have no problem shifting into that role, and thus prefer to be in that setting. Growing up out in a rural area, camping out quite often, taking various wilderness survival courses… I tend to be more in my element in the Wilderness campaigns. It’s easier to actually play out a Knowledge: Nature or Survival check when you actually have some of those skills. It’s harder to play out a Knowledge: Religion or Gather Information check when you know next to nothing about them.

    What it all comes down to for me is the story. I could play in either setting, but if the story sucks, I’m going to lose interest and it won’t matter if my character’s in a city or a jungle… I’m not going to want to be there.

  24. ColoQ says:

    I quite like inventing a whole world and then every day that we play they travel somewhere else, which gives the game a lot of spice. Although, if I’m really going to have to admit it, it’s usually a village (about 1000 pop.) that is totally obsessed with war, and is in a marshy, coastal area.

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