Settings for D&D

         Below is a list of some of the popular choices of settings for 3rd edition D&D. The star ratings are based on a small poll sample from an RPGnet forums thread.

Al-Qadim **
An Arabian themed fantasy world originally published by TSR in 1992. It is not currently supported for the 3rd edition.
Arcanis
A high-intrigue, Roman-Empire type fantasy setting from Paradigm Concepts.
Birthright
A fantasy campaign released in 1995 by TSR that ran to 1998, where you play the ruler of a kingdom amid "a chaotic patchwork of nations, cultures, and religions." It included 25 roleplaying products and five novels carried the familiar sword-and-shield banner.
Black Company
A fantasy setting based on the novels by Glen Cook, created by Green Ronin Publishing. It is a war-torn world with no gods and rare magic, no elves or orcs, and a general mood of betrayal and corruption.
Blackmoor
The earliest setting for the original D&D game, created by Dave Arneson. It is a standard medieval fantasy setting, and is currently supported for D&D3/D20 by Goodman Games.
Blue Rose
A romantic fantasy setting in the style of Valdemar from the novels by Mercedes Lackey, created by Green Ronin Publishing. This is a separate game released by Green Ronin Publishing including a variant of the D20 rules called "True20". There are telepathic members of certain animals (wolves, horses, cats, and dolphins); and magic is vastly different -- closer to psionics or mysticism.
Dark Sun **
A desert world, called Athas, where water is scarce, metals are rare, and gods are unknown. Seven sorceror-monarchs each have their own city -- life is harsh, laws at times unjust, and punishment is often in gladiatorial arenas.
Dark Sun Introduction
Dragonlance **
A fantasy setting in a world where an evil goddess is taking over the world aided by armies of evil dragons.
Dragonstar
A space-faring science fantasy setting, created by Mystic Star Games. It has high technology mixed with magic, with the vast interstellar Dragon Empire ruling over many similar worlds.
Eberron **
A magic-rich pulp/noir setting, where magic has spawned trains, airships, and artificial people. However physical inventions like firearms do not exist. Divine magic is rare and mysterious, and indeed the existence of gods is not proven, and religion is a matter of faith. The world supposedly formed from three dragons which became the underworld (Khyber), the surface world (Eberron), and the ring orbiting the world (Siberys). Organizations called "dragonmarked houses" control the international economy of the world. The book claims that within Eberron, there is a place for everything in the three core D&D books. It also encourages use of the Expanded Psionics Handbook, though it is not necessary for most campaigns. New races include Changelings, psychic Kalashtar, Shifters, and the Warforged.
Review of Eberron Campaign Setting
Races of Eberron Extracts
Eberron Campaign Setting Art Gallery
Forgotten Realms aka Faerun **
This is currently one of the core settings for D&D supported by Wizards of the Coast. It was originally developed by Ed Greenwood in the early 1980s as his personal campaign setting. This was first released by TSR as a campaign set in 1987, and since has been the setting for a number of novels and computer games as well as tabletop adventures.
Greyhawk **
The oldest setting for D&D, which is a varied fantasy world with all the core elements of D&D. It is currently the default setting for D&D, but most details are left open, though there is a gazetteer intended primarily for "Living" module play. It was originally developed by Gary Gygax, and first published as a setting with the "World of Greyhawk" folio in 1980.
Hamunaptra
An Egyptian themed fantasy world for D20 created by Green Ronin Publishing.
Iron Kingdoms **
A fantasy world with steam power, clockwork, and firearm technology, featuring "steamjacks" -- large human-shaped war machines powered by coal furnaces and spell engines. It is created by Privateer Press.
Kara-Tur
A broad Oriental fantasy world created for TSR's "Oriental Adventures" book for 2nd edition D&D, with fantasy parallels for both China and Japan as well as other Asian cultures.
Kingdoms of Kalamar
A general medieval fantasy setting created by Kenzer and Company. Originally an unofficial AD&D setting first released in 1994, now supported for D&D3/D20.
Lankhmar
A setting adapted from the "Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser" stories of Fritz Leiber. It was a city setting for 2nd edition AD&D, but has not officially been adapted to 3rd edition.
Middlemist
A medieval fantasy setting by David Sharrock.
Midnight
A dark fantasy setting from Fantasy Flight Games. This is a Tolkien-esque world where the forces of darkness have largely won, and the heroes are struggling to preserve the last vestiges of justice and goodness. It is a low-magic, and includes a number of new classes and rules.
Mindshadows
A psionic-focused fantasy setting from Green Ronin Publishing, loosely based on the history and mythology of India.
Mystara **
An original setting created for TSR's D&D Basic Set in the eighties, also referred to as simply "The Known World".
Northern Crown
A fantasy version of colonial-era North America (late 1600's) with magic, monsters, and fantastic science. It is created by Atlas Games for use with the standard D&D3/D20 rules.
Nyambe
A fantasy version of pre-colonial Africa with varied races, monsters, and magic. It is created by Atlas games for use with the standard D&D3/D20 rules.
Oathbound
A godless world ruled by seven bird-creatures, fallen angels of a forgotten god -- created by Bastion Press for the D20 system. The Oath forced on the rulers has bound them to the world, but they can be released by binding a more powerful being. So the rulers bring in beings from other worlds, and test them in the hopes that someone will eventually replace them. The world thus has an eclectic mix of beings.
Planescape **
A multiplanar meta-setting originally published by TSR in 1994, not currently supported for the D20 line. The center is Sigil, the "City of Doors" located atop the Spire in the Outer Planes -- which is a neutral ground with various factions within it.
Ravenloft **
A gothic horror setting, a "demi-plane" consisting of a few dozen small nations surrounded by impenetrable wall of mist. It was originally published as a series of modules in the 1980s, followed by a campaign set in 1990. It is currently published for D20 by White Wolf as part of their "Sword & Sorcery" imprint.
Rokugan
A vaguely Asian-flavored fantasy world, drawing on some Japanese archetypes and words. It was originally the setting for the Legend of Five Rings game, and was adapted by Wizards of the Coast to D20 for their updated Oriental Adventures supplement.
Scarred Lands
A dark fantasy setting, set in a world where a war between the titans and their offspring, the gods, took place a mere 150 years ago. As in Greek myth, the titans were defeated -- but the devastation of the war (including being created to aid the war) is still very evident.
Spelljammer
A spacefaring science fantasy meta-setting, where ship equipped with "spelljamming helms" could fly between planets in the space within crystal spheres. It was published in 1989 by TSR, but not supported in 3rd edition, though Wizards of the Coast has given permission to a fan site to support the setting.
Warcraft
A fantasy world adapted from the computer game. This was originally published as a campaign setting, but has now been split into a separate OGL game from White Wolf Publishing.

 


John H. Kim <jhkim-at-darkshire-dot-net>
Last modified: Tue Jan 16 11:42:20 2007