Campaign Worldsmithing

I want there to be a rich, positively huge world. I want to build a world so big that my first group might have to hex crawl at first just to find their way around. Nature will be lush and grow very rapidly…


I’ve been giving a lot of thought to building a fantasy new campaign world for the Fifth Edition of the World’s Most Renowned RPG and deciding what all I want to have go into it. I know several things I don’t want that I’ve seen over my many years of running games that are too numerous to list here. I will go over the highlights of some things I think would be fun.

First off, I want there to be a rich, positively huge world. I want to build a world so big that my first group might have to hex crawl at first just to find their way around. Nature will be lush and grow very rapidly, which is why there could be ruined cities buried beneath the dirt and in the trees. Needless to say, druids and shamans will have a fun time.

Awesome Warforged Samurai
Image created using HeroForge.

Speaking of classes, I want to bring back some old favorites of mine and build upon the preexisting ones in ways that haven’t entirely been covered yet. Samurai will play a large role in things socially and politically, as well as their weapon-mastering cousins- the Kensai. Obviously I plan on Ninja, Shugenja, and the Wu Jen making a comeback. I keep looking at ways to integrate Sohei as well without sacrificing any of the PHB classes.
Races: Simply put, I love elves. There will be lots of them. There will be several of the old favorites and a race somewhat similar to the Warforged of Eberron fame. I also want Gnomes to play key roles, too,

Dragons: Here there BE DRAGONS!!! I love dragons. I don’t think enough campaigns or adventures feature enough of them. Fizban’s Treasury looks to be a fun book for me to draw resources from. I also have some great ideas that I need some serious art talent to have help with. Not everything can be done up with stick figures and protractors.

I love dragons!!!
Image c/o WotC. Used without permission.

Ancient and recurring evil: Part of my style of D&D has always been good vs evil. Since I know Blizzard will never cut a deal with WotC ever again, I figure I can incorporate some Diablo style elements into my game. I’m also a big WoW fan, but I want to stay away from some of that material for fear of looking too much like WoW. I may borrow bits and bobs such as magic items and monsters, just with my own spin on them.

I’m angling for this guy and his bros to show up in a game someday.
Used without permission. Please don’t sue me. Thank you.

I know WotC has said they plan to resurrect two of their old campaign worlds, and possibly a third sometime before 2024’s revision of the game. My educated guesses so far are: Dark Sun, Planescape, and possibly Spelljammer. We’ll see what they do. I think they should bring back Mystara and possibly Greyhawk. Honestly, I think the rights might be a bit tricky on some of the older properties, though. I’d also love to see Birthright or Al-Qadim, but I’d bet against those after seeing what WotC put on DMsGuild as a disclaimer regarding some of their older games. (Personally, I think they’re trying to hard to appear sensitive, but…) I’m seriously doubting OA will ever make a comeback in any way.

Anyway, my world will pull a little from Birthright. I loved the way Regents were connected to their lands and gained powers from it. What if any character could draw additional powers from their homeland? Or if they had spirit helpers? What if rulers could shut down their borders by spells or natural abilities? Yeah… Makes me salivate. Lol!

I plan on rebuilding the weapon list from scratch. Like many DMs, I take great pain in what has become of some of my favorites as well as those of the players. The same can be said of the armor table and many spells. It will be time-consuming and I won’t have it all worked out right away. Spell revisions and changes tend to take a long time.

Of course, no world would be complete without the presence of many of the classic monsters. The undead will certainly make a large appearance. Sorry, as hard as I try to avoid the clichés, I know there will be liches, vampires, skeletons, and zombies to fight. We’ll also see the standard spread of elementals, hydras, manticores, yokai, kodama, and dozens of other creatures from European and Asian sources. That’s kinda my thing.

I want the campaign to center around exploration first and foremost. We can dig into politics and religions once the campaign has been going for a while. I really want this to be the type of game where the PCs get to decide where they’re going. I want to try to avoid any heavy-handed NPCs and massive secret agendas that no one can do anything about. (Sorry, burned out on FR and Eberron that way.) I also want to avoid NPCs looking at the group and saying, “Been there. Done that.”

My intention is eventually to start putting pieces on here and some pdfs out for some of my basic things, such as weapon and armor revisions. I don’t want to charge much/anything at all until I start getting some basic maps made and a little bit of the lore written. Eventually I’m going to have enough built up to consider a Kickstarter or getting some money together for artists and possibly mapmaking. By the time 5.5 or 6.0 rolls around, I might have something concrete.

If you made it this far, thanks for hanging out with me. I appreciate you! Stay safe and see you again soon.

Author: Jeff Craigmile

I'm a tabletop role-playing game writer and designer from Des Moines, Iowa always looking for more work. I'm the father of four boys and human to three cats.

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