I couldn’t agree more, as it’s part of the foundation for my own Old School Player Manifesto, which I will now quote in full:
- You shouldn’t have to know the rules.
- You are not your character sheet.
- You’re an adventurer. Adventure!
- If you want to try something, try it!
First, I’m also in favor of a lot less homework for GMs, as can be seen from my Last-Minute GM ideas and my Nine and Thirty Kingdoms setting. It’s not just because I’m too lazy. It’s also because creating too much backstory for the world means the players have to learn that backstory in order to study it.
Second, elsewhere I was involved in a conversation about what to call Valyrian Steel in a homebrew setting. My suggestion was “Why not ‘Valyrian Steel’?” I didn’t explain all my reasoning for this, but my experience is that D&D settings, both homebrew and published, tend to be 90% a mishmash of stuff GMs have seen elsewhere, in books, magazines, comics, film, and TV, and that’s a good thing. Having Tolkien elves and dwarves in your game world means people kind of know what to expect, since everyone’s seen or read The Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit by now. It reduces homework. Even if you want something different, you start with what people know and then list up to three short sentences that explains what’s different.
It’s why things like The Only Fantasy World Map You’ll Ever Need and The Lands of Clichéa work as a setting. Everyone has already “lived” in that shared reality for ages, so it feels like home.
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