Maker’s Forge Games is based on a simple maxim: the best game worlds are the ones you make yourself.
Published modules and adventure books are great and many people love them; they’re ideal for tournaments and conventions.
But for some gamers, half the fun is coming up with something new. An empty page is a challenge, a blank space upon which maps must be sketched, from which new villages, lands, and histories emerge. And pretty soon as the ideas really start to flow, the word goes out to fellow players: it’s time to set foot in this virgin world and see what adventures await.
And little by little, hour by hour, adventure by adventure—a new world is born!
Maker’s Forge Games is all about making the creation of those worlds (and the adventures you play in them!) easier and more fun.
About the Author
I’m Jason R. E. Campbell, the lead author, designer, and developer at Maker’s Forge Games. I’m a long-time gamer born and raised in the Pacific Northwest.
I started my role playing adventures in 3rd grade. During a particularly rainy day in Oregon, we were stuck in the classroom playing games and a friend of mine invited a few of us to huddle around his desk to look at his older brother’s 1st edition Advanced Dungeons and Dragons Player’s Handbook that he’d smuggled into class.
That began a 35+ year love affair with role playing games. Very quickly I found that I loved DMing most—the creative possibilities were literally endless and I poured myself into drawing maps, home brewing rules, and writing adventures.
I remember distinctly getting my hands on the 1983 boxed set of the World of Greyhawk. I poured over the setting, marveling at the detail and wonder of these expansive and fertile fantasy lands. I spent days leafing through the booklets and maps that came with that set.
But you know what? As the main DM for all the gaming groups of which I was a part, I never once set a single adventure in Greyhawk.
It wasn’t that I didn’t like what I was reading. I loved that box set and read it over many times. It was far better put together than my fifteen-year-old mind could even comprehend at the time, and the detail and verisimilitude expanded the frontiers of my imagination in powerful ways. But play in someone else’s campaign world? That wasn’t how D&D worked.
Having read the first edition Dungeons and Dragons Players Handbook and Dungeon Master’s Guide many times by the age of twelve, I took its basic assumptions to heart: that the DM’s primary role was the Maker of Worlds.
That Greyhawk boxed set served one purpose for me: to serve as a visionary guide, a set of expectations of what a detailed and vibrant campaign world looked like. So I set out to make one of my own. I drew maps, dreamed up imaginary kingdoms and ancient histories, lines of kings and queens, set down abodes for powerful monsters whose influence reached out over entire regions. The hours I poured into this creative exercise sometimes bore fruit at the gaming table, many other times they were nothing more than scribbles in a notebook. But this was my hobby and I loved it.
These days, the RPG scene is awash in other people’s campaigns. The 5th Edition Player’s Handbook assumes Forgotten Realms more or less explicitly and the publishers devote almost all their time developing that infinitely diverse campaign world. Even their rules supplements are branded with characters anchored in Forgotten Realms (Volo’s Guide, and even poor Mordenkainen got moved to the Realms). While I love many aspects of Forgotten Realms (and still occasionally leaf through the moody and gorgeously produced 3rd Edition hardback of that campaign world!), running games in the realms is unappealing to me for several reasons:
- Big themes and villains are already set, their motivations well-known
- All the maps are already drawn and populated, not just for the entire sprawling world, but even out the portals to other planes
- The players can never be anything but small fish—even if they reach 20th level, the Forgotten Realms is crowded with 20th level NPCs
- Too much material to master—if you make it yourself, it came out of you and you just have to reference notes; otherwise, you have to study the stuff, to “own” it to make the world rich and believable for the players
- Players familiar with the Realms bring a lot of their own assumptions about all of the above
If you found yourself arguing in your head with the above list, then you’re probably not a Maker-Style DM. There are many different good answers to all of the items I mentioned (just as there are many ways of enjoying roleplaying games).
But if that list resonates with you, if half the fun of roleplaying for you is to make and experience new worlds, to unfold secrets to delight and to awe your players, to tell stories about lands and adventurers spun from whole cloth, to forge destinies and to change the face of imagined futures, then you just might be a Maker-Style DM.
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