Back in my AD&D playing days, I was a fan of both the Greyhawk and Forgotten Realms settings. Gun to my head I liked FR a little bit more, but they were two of my favourite settings. Eventually support for Greyhawk dwindled, resurging briefly when 3rd edition came out and then fading again. Forgotten Realms got the most attention from TSR and then WotC over the years, but that eventually meant there wasn’t a lot of the Realms that wasn’t covered in one book or another.
With 4th edition, WotC opted to reboot the Realms and push the timeline forward. But setting was never 4th edition’s strong-suit, and so it lost a lot of what made 4th edition fun and exciting while retaining Drizzt (that isn’t a slam against that character or those books, I quite liked them. But it was obvious it wasn’t preserved for any story or plot reasons). So 4th managed to sour me on the Forgotten Realms, which was okay because my favourite setting had already saved me.
Paizo’s Golarion is my favourite current setting for a few reasons. It combines the things I liked best about both Greyhawk and the Forgotten Realms. Golarion has well-defined nation states with a rich history, much like Greyhawk. But like the Forgotten realms, there are still vast unexplored areas, rich for adventure and discovery. Even now, after several years and a plethora of sourcebooks, there is still more we don’t know about the setting than we know. Also, Paizo has done a great job of re-imagining many of the standard fantasy RPG monsters, like goblins, bugbears, and even flumphs, in such a way that they seem like brand new (and nastier) monsters. Yes, even the flumph.
But the setting also comes with a ready-made organization, the Pathfinder Society, which practically shoves characters into an adventuring life. Even if characters choose not to be members of the organization, the Pathfinders are always on the lookout for free-agents to take care of small investigations for them. And once you start working for the Pathfinders, you’ll likely run up against their enemy organization, the Aspis Consortium. One way or another, the Pathfinders are a perfect vector for danger and adventure in a Golarion campaign.
Also, Miss Feathers. I dare you not to love that NPC.
What’s your favourite setting? Comment below!