So maybe you don’t want to build your own world. There are plenty of settings made by various companies to help you play in a world that appeals to you. Whether you want to play in the arid deserts of Athas, the interstellar adventures of Spelljammer, or the anachronistic world of Eberron, there is a world that will fit your needs. But what if you don’t like something about the world? Well, no one ever said you couldn’t change things. Those personal touches make the game yours and not just another Dark Sun game.
Here are few examples from my own game:
When I first started this blog, I wrote a lot about the intrigues my players were involved in beneath Sharn. There was this whole society beneath the city and the players needed to untangle this web if they wanted to succeed beneath the city. It didn’t work out too well for them. The Eberron Campaign Guide describes this society on page 57 with one paragraph. This isn’t the most revolutionary stuff here, but I took that one paragraph and used it to build an entire sub-world within the confines of the established game world. This is more of an addition than a change; you take the game setting and add your own parts. A customization if you will. I fleshed out the gangs mentioned in that one paragraph making our game more unique. Later, when the players found themselves in the Lhazaar Principalities I did the same thing with the descriptions of the Sea Princes on page 138.
An example of a more direct change would be my treatment of Drow in my Eberron. With the Drow in the skies, this left an opening in the jungles for the tribal inhabitants of Xen’drik. My favorite race in this game is the Shadar-kai. I am notorious for using them as villains across several of my games. They have an awesome look, human, with subtle differences, and lots of body modification. They have this air of dark mystery that I love to exploit. They have a slew of shadow based abilities and hail from a realm of darkness, what is not to love? They are, to me, perfect villains and Eberron has no place for them. So I made a place. The Eberron lore states that the Drow are the descendants of eladrin slaves from the Age of Giants corrupted by the fell magics of the Giants. And my Drow are that, they just moved on. But who says humans weren’t also captured and enslaved. And why wouldn’t they be corrupted too? Thus, the Shadar-kai were born on Eberron. And while the Drow are off playing pirate, the Shadar-kai are filling their role as the tribal inhabitants of Xen’Drik.
So don’t be afraid to change the settings to fit your needs. Remember, just because it isn’t ‘canon’ doesn’t mean it’s wrong.