Heading out of the lowlands on the Annapurna Circuit

Setting First is a rigorous school of tabletop roleplaying theory and practice. My goal with Setting First is to take down the OSR and story games, establishing setting-driven Simulationist play as the dominant TTRPG paradigm.

OK, I lied.

Actually, arguments about The One True Way bore me. I find GNS/Big Model semantic gymnastic competitions about as exciting as watching a professor of Rhetoric grade term papers. I’m not here to rant, build a brand as an Outraged Personality or bash on how other people enjoy tabletop roleplaying.

Setting First is just the journal of an early Gen X tabletop RPG enthusiast who really enjoys dense, engaging settings that evoke verisimilitude. I’m also big on in-person play. So if you’re into finding, absorbing, creating, and playing in complicated, immersive worlds with your home group, hopefully some of what I present will be useful.

If you’re looking for a broader look at tabletop roleplaying, check out Unpossible Journeys, which provides info about a broad range of games, tips for better play, and more. To chat about anything you find here or in UJ, please join the UJ Discord.

Where’s the D&D?

I don’t talk here about D&D or its direct descendants, except in passing reference. Although D&D was my gateway into the hobby, I haven‘t played it in years. And frankly it and its offspring (Pathfinder, 13th Age, retroclones, etc.) get plenty of attention, and d20 classes-and-levels just doesn’t interest me. None of this is a knock on those games. They’re just not my thing.


Unless otherwise noted, all images were created by me, Erik Schmidt. All product images are used for purposes of comment, criticism, and/or review. The Setting First logo was created by Wouter Goedkoop, whose professionalism and great attitude are only matched by his design, illustration, and storytelling skills.