Dungeons & Dragons Online

“Can I apply (Setting Restriction) to my campaign?” Answered Definitively

Yes, if it's what your group wants to play.

I regularly read posts on here along the lines of "am I allowed to say humans only" or "I want to run a game with no Orcs and my player wants to play an Orc" and they always get very heated about whether or not it's ungrateful or entitled of the player to not want to adhere to the restrictions of the campaign.

But I don't think this is always the sort of problem of entitlement that it's framed as. I think it's a failure to read the room or find compromise, both for players and GMs.

As a GM I would much rather a player outright tell me "I don't fancy this campaign concept" before we even start than get in some morass of compromises to try and make it work. Compromise and changing the setting have limits. For example – I've had a couple of ideas for campaigns written out on paper for ages – one based on Valkyria Chronicles and one based on Sakura Wars. They've yet to see the table because when I pitched the restrictions and concepts – "You're soldiers in fantasy WW2" and "You're steampunk mech pilots whose day jobs are musicians and actors in 1920s Tokyo" my players responded plainly saying "I'm not that interested in a modern war campaign" and "I don't think I'd enjoy playing a showbiz-y character who's probably going to have to be a woman."

That's fine. I didn't call them entitled, they didn't demand I changed my settings, we just agreed "OK, I'll put those campaign ideas on ice, who wants to play Legend of the Five Rings instead and be a samurai or ninja?"

From the other direction, I misread a friend's proposed D&D campaign pitch and said "I thought I'd play a human here" and he politely reminded me that the campaign didn't have humans in its setting as he wanted a more exotic world. That was fine, I made an elf instead because what mattered for me was the concept – my character being a sailor who was shipwrecked in distant lands and ended up living with the indiginous people and helping them stave off foreign invaders – not the fact they were human or elven.

In all these cases all these discussions – about whether or not the campaign appealed to the group, what the restrictions were, etc – were had long before the game and players were under no obligation to go ahead with the campaign if they didn't want to. In these cases too the restrictions were the result of a creative vision that – when they went ahead – actually captured the imagination of the players and didn't feel punitive. "I want a human/elf/dwarf only game because I don't want FREAKS in the party and will have townsfolk attack other races" is going to be a much harder sell if you put it that way than "How does a campaign about a group of dwarves trying to go on a quest to save their mountain hold sound to you", for example.

GMs – if you want to pitch a campaign with some setting restrictions go ahead and pitch it to your group, but be prepared to put the idea on ice if the group don't want to go ahead with it. Similarly if a player isn't interested and sits a game out, that isn't actually a problem.

Players – be open to trying new ideas, but also have the decency to tell the GM "this campaign doesn't sound like it's for me" rather than work against what the majority of the table seem to want.

And, in general, if a game is being pitched to a group primarily of strangers, the more restrictions and requirements you put on it the narrower the appeal is. I'd happily pitch "a group of dwarfs on dward adventures" or "mechs, but also a musical" to a group I knew well but if I was posting an open listing on r/lfg I'd probably go for something more open and free.


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