On reflection, I wonder how much of my attitude to PCs – and my thinking that settings are for the GM – derives from my early D&D experiences.
I started playing D&D in 1976. The group had a large dungeon, six levels of 22” x 34” graph paper filled with a maze of rooms and corridors randomly generated from the article on how to do that in The Strategic Review. Monsters and treasure were equally random. Three or four people took it in turns to be the GM. There was no city and no wilderness. Parties were whatever the GMs would allow, and they were a very laissez-faire bunch.
The party in which my wizard first reached name level consisted of:
- Me – a human magic-user.
- A hobbit thief with another hobbit thief in his backpack (“Stuart died again, get the emergency backup hobbit out of his backpack.”)
- Two assassins disguised as a mule (which had plate barding and was mounted on skateboards, but that’s another story).
- A baby beholder, whose rays increased in power as it levelled up.
- A baby genie, likewise. One of the other characters carried its lamp and controlled when it could join play.
- An “iscan druid”, a homebrew class which had access to both magical and clerical spell lists but greatly increased experience point requirements to level up.
(I played in three other games, one of which was similar except there was a city as well as a dungeon – although all we actually knew about it was that it was a seaport – and two of which were explicitly set in Middle Earth, with us exploring Moria. My own fledgling campaign was a heady mix of Larry Niven, John Norman and Michael Moorcock.)
So as you can see, from the time I started playing, I was used to weird adventuring parties, and the idea that the NPCs in the setting would pretty much leave them to get on with it. Maybe that is where my approach comes from.