As I have been playing through different ideas and concepts for my setting, I am realizing how hard it is to come up with original ideas. I have been combing through all the old books that I have, including some of the other campaign settings that have been released in the world up until this point. What I realized is that my setting is beginning to take on a close resemblance to several existing settings - not intentionally, but for some reason, good things stick in my memory and are hard to get out of there, even subconsciously.
I used to run a game in Eberron during high school. I really liked the concept of the system, especially the Warforged/Magic-Tech element. I thought it would be really interesting to have an ongoing campaign in this world, so I did a lot of prep for that game, reading the books cover to cover, and have stayed pretty close to it ever since. When I started building my game, I new I wanted to have some of the elements from this campaign setting in my game, but in writing mine now, I realize that I have put more of those elements into my game setting then I had originally thought of. Not only have I put in the Mage-Tech element, but also I have essentially recreated the world of Xoriat in this setting through the Aberrant influence that has been played out in the Mad Lands.
Not only Eberron, but I have also pirated some of the ideas from other sources as well. This a bit more intentionally. Dark Sun was a setting I was always aware of when I was growing up in the hobby. When I was managing a game store, we had all the old Dark Sun books from days gone by; sometimes, collectors or older more experienced gamers would come in and take them off the shelves. So, when the new Dark Sun came out, I was delighted to get a hold of it. It is an awesome setting in itself. I have really enjoyed tearing into it, but there are definitely some things I am not really keen on, the giant freaking desert is one of them. Maybe it is because I used to live pretty near a desert and was really, really tired of the heat, or maybe it was because it seemed simply bland, but I don't really get down on the whole desert setting. However, I like the idea of alternate and varied racial concepts. The Halfling cannibals might be a bit much, but elf raiders, beardless dwarfs, and slave keeper dragonborn, these are are awesome new ways to look at races. I love that idea and will gladly manipulate the races and their histories in my setting as well.
I have never played in the Forgotten Realms (except for a few RPGA events once in a while). I have never run a game there and I have never really played a Forgotten Realms campaign. If you think of the Realms as the vanilla of the D&D setting worlds, I guess It has never really interested me from a game running perspective. However, I will definitely say I love the books, at least the little exposure to the world that I have had through the novels (and I will admit that exposure might be severely one sided). From these books, I always like the very traditional adventure landscape. Even if the setting might seem a little bland, the way adventurers exist in the setting always seemed very classic and traditional to me. Others may think very differently. This was something I still wanted to maintain in my setting as well. Keeping with the traditional, at least somewhat, in a setting that is breaking all the other boundaries, is a good conservative way to go forward in my mind.
Of course, Wizards sources aren't the only place I'm willing to steal from other settings, systems, and sources as well. The Iron Kingdoms setting was something I used to gradually pour over at work on a slow day. I put together a fairly large scale army of Khador for the Warmachine tabletop game. I loved the Steam Punk element of the game and really enjoyed all the tournaments we had at the store. It was a lot of fun. I like the idea of steam punk in general, so this setting was great fun. I never played in the setting, but putting together a 4e steam punk world is something I have always really wanted to do.
Like I said when I was making this setting originally, I wanted to draw on lots of other sources as well. I like Shadowrun, I play it occasionally, but I prefer the d20 system to the system that Shadowrun uses. I have always grown up with D&D and the d20 system, so I never really wanted to play any others. Granted the world of Shadowrun is set in the apocalyptic future, but that doesn't really matter. I want to pull this setting into a fantasy world.
So, I am stealing a lot of stuff from a lot of sources. It is like the say: Nothing New Under the Sun. Everything draws its inspiration from somewhere. I am drawing a lot of inspiration, and sometimes stealing very good stuff from some of the sources above, but in all honesty, I don't feel bad about it at all. I have no intent to sell this setting off. I don't even have any plans to have it printed or anything. I just like putting my swing on the stuff that is out there, in order to build a setting that is all things to all people, where all people is really, just me. I like what they say on page 5 of the Eberron Campaign Guide - "LOOT THIS BOOK!" My response - "Ok, I will!"