Want to know the secret to making a game world or setting your own? Whether you’re using a published setting or brewing your own homeworld for adventures, the key is creating an organization that’s unique to your game.

Simple, huh? One organization of your creation makes all the difference. But why?

1) It gives you mastery over a segment of the world.

I’m not going to learn the names of all the “important” NPCs of the Forgotten Realms, nor have I figured out all dieties that occupy Varisia. I don’t even know who is and isn’t a member of the Circle of Eight these days. And all the dragonmarked houses of Eberron? Don’t have a clue.

It doesn’t matter. What matters is forming your own organization, whether it be thieves’ guild, adventurer’s club, church order or elite guard unit, and fleshing it out so that it meets your expectations and fulfills the players’ needs. Primarily, such an organization should serve as an anchor upon which the rest of your adventures are tethered.

Like a good homebase, a well-definied organization occupies a “place” and a “time,” both of which are important for establishing a “reality” for your players. Because, if it’s “real” to the DM, it will be “real” to the players, so long as she can convey it through storytelling, handouts, NPC interaction and the course of the adventure.

2) It gives the players a stake in the setting.

Whether they join or stand opposed to this organization (by all means, make your organization a hive of villainy. Where would the Realms be without the Red Wizards of Thay or Krynn without its Knights of Takhisis?) the players are now invested in the idea of the group.

But it’s more than simply buying into the concept. It’s the sense of discovery. Just as exploring a dungeon makes it come alive in the course of play, so too does finding out about a good organization.

So, what organizations have you created for your D&D game, and how did your players react to it? Were you using a published setting, or one of your own devising?