I personally always recomend creating your own game worlds for your campaigns. It makes the game your own, rather than something you are just using. Most people will not run characters that other people create. why should game worlds be any different.
I love creating game worlds. It comes from being a Fringeworthy GM, where you had to make a new game world every week or so, for your IDET people to explore. So unlike most game masters, I am used to creating worlds.
For the rest of you, it is always better, as a GM to create your own game world. You need to know it and “feel it” to give it versimiltude.
First and Foremost: Talk to your players. Find out what kind of campaign they want, what sort of things they want in it, and the kind of adventures they want. If you go into the world building processes with a list of these from each player, you campaign is off to a great start.
Now, it is actually fairly simple to create a world. Don’t let the size of the task daunt you. Take it one part at a time and don’t get bogged down.
There are two ways to create a world DIP and DAS. DAS is Design at start. It is the best way to create a setting, as you can make all the decisions at your leisure. DIP is development in play. No matter how much you do in the begining, you will have to do world building as the campaign progresses. Every game setting is a combination of these two… the trick is finding the right combination for you. I recommend to make all the big decisions and decide upon some general themes before the game starts and do a lot of “big picture” DAS. That way you will have a framework to fit all the DIP into.
There are books on creating worlds and sites as well… spend a little research time. Many of the books on creating settings are for fiction writers. That makes it a faster, simplified process for gamers.
Base your game world on what you know. If you know a period of history, set your game in a world similar to that period. If you know a book series very well, make a world similar to that book series.
Some general info on world building:MoonHunters Tips on World Creation
Links active as of 01/01/05
Vesanto’s world section
The Site. Check the info related to the site and the links… very useful info on world building.
And what would be a MoonHunter post without showing off my link collection…
No matter what setting you choose create a world pack. Part of the packet should be information explaining the campaign setting. This should all the information they the players need about the game environment and the world it represents. This does not have to be in large, long, encyclopedia like sections. It can be a collection of important pieces of information, in simple short sections. GMs: Include as much as you are able, as it will save you having to explain things in the future.