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D&D 5E 3 Classic Settings Coming To 5E?

On the D&D Celebration – Sunday, Inside the D&D Studio with Liz Schuh and Ray Winninger, Winninger said that WotC will be shifting to a greater emphasis on settings in the coming years.

This includes three classic settings getting active attention, including some that fans have been actively asking for. He was cagey about which ones, though.

The video below is an 11-hour video, but the information comes in the last hour for those who want to scrub through.

Additionally, Liz Schuh said there would be more anthologies, as well as more products to enhance game play that are not books.

Winninger mentioned more products aimed at the mainstream player who can't spend immense amount of time absorbing 3 tomes.

Ray and Liz confirmed there will be more Magic: The Gathering collaborations.

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My predictions:

It's going to be Spelljammer, Dark Sun and Greyhawk. I would never ordinarily think Greyhawk, but there's a strong trend toward retro nostalgia that permeates everything and I can see Greyhawk suddenly benefiting from it.

If Greyhawk doesn't get an official book, it will get a licensed revamp from Goodman Games.

Dark Sun and Spelljammer are obvious because they have very distinct identities and can also be retooled from their original incarnations; we might well see "close incarnations" of the two settings but revised for 2020's sensibilities. Both can sustain unusual changes, and only a small percentage of the hardcore older fans will notice (see: Ravenloft vs. Curse of Strahd issue mentioned earlier in this thread).

I would like to think Dragonlance gets its due, but I've never really cared for it and feel it's driving force was the novels first.

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Getting lost in fantasy maps
Yes. Everything they licensed out in the 3e era was after acquisition by Hasbro. That includes the licenses for the periodicals as well as the Dragonlance license for Sovereign Press.
Right. I guess I’m more curious about licensed properties since Hasbro has seen Lincoln Logs get picked up cheap and made by Basic Fun. The Original Lincoln Logs | Basic Fun!

Supposedly Hasbro has gone into lock down on properties since then.


It goes against the spirit of the 2E/3E setting, at least, where the Dark Powers were supposed to forever remain undefined. The one product that tried to define them is one of the only Ravenloft products ever declared 'non-canonical' (the novel Lord of the Necropolis, written in an era when TSR had erected overly strong firewalls between Games and Novels, as I understand it).

If you like the 5E version, fine. If not, you can join the rest of us retrogrades to be banished from the hobby when 6E comes out and requires oaths of fealty and apostasy from all previous loyalties to game, God, or country. ;)
Yes, I entirely agree that it is contrary to the intention to keep the Dark Powers mysterious. Absolutely.

DnD Warlord

It sounded to me like they may actually be going for a SciFi source book to go head-to-head against Starfinder. I suspect we'll also be getting a cyberpunk or other post-modern type of source book too, it being too popular of a genre to ignore. Those would be in addition to an actual D&D Spelljammer setting/source book.

I recall from the early pre-NWN release days how active the fans of DLA are. I can't imagine them not trying to recapture that popularity.
Cyber punk D20 please...

make a setting that stealsfrom Torg Rifts and shadow run (high tech quasi post appocoliptic future that gets invaded by supernatural... then basically remakes society)

excuse me well I go pitch my next campaign


I've been working on a 5e Al-Qadim update for years, along with an Arab advisor. The short answer here is "yes. It really was that insensitive."

It's been fun, to say the least.
I would love to hear some of the insights that you gathered from your advisor regarding the insensitivity of Al-Qadim.
I can't speak for Ath-kethin's advisor, but there is a series of YouTube videos that discusses some the issues.

Urriak Uruk

Debate fuels my Fire
Which is the very point of the argument--Curse of Strahd, whatever its merits (I found it unimpressive on a readthrough), is not in 'continuity' with the 2E or 3E incarnations of the setting. For most people, that doesn't matter, but there are a few of us who prefer the earlier to the latter, and it shouldn't be considered 'the same' when it isn't. :)

I'm sorry to be the first to break this to you, but "continuity" is not a thing in D&D. Every edition the cosmology and organization of the settings is revised, and things previously "canon" are suddenly not.

Take for example, Asmodeus. Every edition his origins seem to change; sometimes he is a fallen angel, other times he was a scaled snake called Ahriman, and whether-or-not he's a god constantly shifts with little explanation.

So if you are truly trying to find what is "canon" (and I do not recommend this, as canon has little meaning in D&D) only material that is published in 5E is worth taken seriously; everything published before has dubious accuracy in "canon" terms.

The Glen

There's 7 settings left that aren't in the guild. They've all got strengths and weaknesses. Some are far more likely than others, for various reasons.

Birthright: The Kingdom Manager Setting
  • Unique playstyle with you leading actual kingdoms from the start.
  • Western style while avoiding being the kitchen sink that the Forgotten Realms is notorious for.
  • Missing several races that are core in PHB
  • Not a popular setting as it came during the TSR Death Spiral and have the unenvious task of replacing Greyhawk and Mystara

Dark Sun: The Post-Apoc setting.
  • Very distinctive style
  • Adds a level of difficulty many players enjoy
  • One of the few settings supported in 4th edition so better known that most.
  • Lacking several PHB races as a major plot point
  • Contains numerous themes that WOTC is shying away from like slavery and genocide
  • 5E can't seem to get psionics right, which is a major point of the setting.

Dragonlance: The Epic Quest Setting
  • One of the most popular D&D settings of all time
  • Numerous races got their influence from Dragonlance
  • Heavily supported in past versions
  • Missing numerous PHB races
  • Outside the War of the Lance the setting has been a bit stagnant.
  • Has Kender

Greyhawk: The Gritty Setting
  • One of the best-known settings.
  • Vibes with the popularity of more grounded stories like Game of Thrones before it got bad.
  • Huge back catalog of adventures
  • People have a hard time distinguishing it from Forgotten Realms
  • Reputation for being stagnant

Mystara: The Exploration and World Building Setting
  • 3 settings in one with the Red Steel and Hollow World additions
  • Second largest supported setting behind Forgotten Realms, including numerous classic modules
  • Very well known because of the Capcom video game
  • Not considered on equal terms as the other settings by WOTC
  • Countries are based on real-world equivalents, something that has offended people in other settings.
  • Missing several PHB races or replaces them with their own distinctive version

Planescape: The Interplanar Setting
  • Offers a diverse style of gameplay the likes of which no other setting can even approach.
  • Renowned for its superb worldbuilding and backstory.
  • Offers a way for crossovers all over the Multiverse without making it seem forced.
  • Can be a little too weird for people just wanting a regular game.
  • The Faction War nuke ruined the setting for a lot of people.

Spelljammer: The Ships in Space Setting.
  • Unique and memorable theme
  • Easy for crossovers
  • Popular between old and new players
  • Theme can get repetitive quickly
  • Too similar to Planescape for theme, and nowhere near as supported as Planescape
  • Can get too silly for some players.


While it's not particularly likely to happen with any of the "upcoming three", one thing I'd love to see would be a fire-and-forget setting that's basically designed to run a single campaign which then irreparably changes the nature of that setting. Original Dragonlance would sort of fit with this – I'm not super familiar with DL, but my understanding is that the world is a very different place after the War of the Lance. This would allow them to have a campaign that truly goes epic, without having to worry about the setting still being usable afterward. Other big adventures are usually either about relatively small-scale stuff or about either preventing something from happening or restoring a lost status quo.

The only D&D example I've seen of something like that would be Odyssey of the Dragonlords, which presents a setting where a prophecy is about to come to fruition and the PCs find themselves in the middle of these things.


Jedi Master
@The Glen re: the issue of supported races in some of the settings, I do think it's telling that MOoT heavily restricts available races, so I don't think that would be a mark against the possibility of an update.

I think Dragonlance makes more sense as a large AP (maybe 2-3 books?) than a setting, for the exact reason that it's best played as an epic quest. I'd also say that Planescape/Spelljammer could be shoved together into one Gonzo setting, for those (like me) who enjoy wild and weird. Greyhawk checks both gritty and nostalgia, and so could be a good fit for the 50th anniversary.

The Glen

@The Glen re: the issue of supported races in some of the settings, I do think it's telling that MOoT heavily restricts available races, so I don't think that would be a mark against the possibility of an update.

You're not going to find me arguing against excluding races from settings. What you leave out is just as important as what you put in. But for some people it's a deal-breaker. Of the seven mentioned above, of the four settings that aren't catch-alls only Greyhawk has drow. Dragonlance, Mystara and Birthright don't have them. From my experience writing Mystara that's a major no-no. Every setting has to have every option or you're doing it wrong. Even if you explain that the race/class isn't a good fit. For Mystara it already has the gurral, cammas, kazzak, wallaru, sis-thik and carnifex as humanoid reptilian races. Makes the Dragonborn redundant. But I've gotten pushback for mentioning that.


Dragonlance: The Epic Quest Setting
  • One of the most popular D&D settings of all time
  • Numerous races got their influence from Dragonlance
  • Heavily supported in past versions
  • Missing numerous PHB races
  • Outside the War of the Lance the setting has been a bit stagnant.
  • Has Kender
Kender as a drawback? I think not, sir!

Dragonlance has many flaws. Chiefly among them being that the setting is so closely tied to the novels that it would be difficult to feel like you aren't side characters of a bigger story. The setting is also a bit...how do I put this delicately...cheesy.

That said, if Dragonlance became a published setting for 5e for which we could design things in the DMs Guild, I would be over the moon happy and feel like a kid again. It's the one I hope they choose.

It's possible you know more about all this than I do; my statements are based on observation rather than data.

It's true that the 1e-2e change had no novelization, but then the official 2e DL setting was the new Taladas.

I find it challenging to believe that Weis & Hickman proposed a new trilogy that ended with the Chaos War and TSR brass took that as inspiration to plan the whole SAGA system, but I suppose it's possible.

War Of Souls was clearly a means of "fixing" the SAGA misstep and returning Dragonlance to the D&D fold. Again, it's possible that the story idea came from Weis & Hickman and WotC brass fell in step, but I find that challenging to believe. Especially since Weis & Hickman were only ever "in control" of the stories during the DL Legends series AFAIK, which had no in-game tie in.

Again, I haven't even asked Margaret Weis about all this (which would be easy enough to do, honestly), but it's a remarkably consistent pattern that fits the data at least from a longtime customer's viewpoint.

War of Souls was definitely driven by Weis and Hickman. Hickman was the one who came up with the "fix" (Takhisis stealing the world) and changed several elements of then current DL to conform to his new idea.

  • Khellendros goes from being a DL native dragon (SAGA and AD&D) to another alien dragon-like the rest of the overlords.
  • Mina's character arc is completely rewritten (Ask Steve Miller what happened there).
  • The dragon overlords go from being gorgeous and awe-inspiring creatures to disgusting abominations (Beryl is compared to maggots at one stage).
  • Palin was never Master of the White Robes. (In SAGA he was, just before the dissolution of the Orders of High Sorcery, as well as Master of the Conclave)
  • Sorcery is destructive, corrupting magic (In SAGA it was the natural ambient magic of the world).
  • Lord Soth randomly is in Nightlund and still ruling it despite the SAGA material saying the place was abandoned and Soth nowhere to be seen.
  • The Shadow Sorcerer is revealed to be Takhisis (in SAGA material it was very strongly suggested the Shadow Sorcerer was Malys. I guess that's not technically a contradiction).

I've left out things that could be just a progression of the timeline (Sorcery suddenly failing, for example). Point is the novels have driven Dragonlance rather than the gaming material for a long time, probably since Dragonlance: Legends was published. SAGA wasn't mandating the world get blown up in Summer Flame - Weis and Hickman did that, and then the RPG team tried to pick up the pieces.

Mystara has got Red Steel/Savage Coast(pirates and mutants) and Hollow World (dinosaurs and ancient civilitations) and it was known by more people thanks Capcom's arcades.

If my suspects about a "multiverse crisis event" were true, then we could find with a retcon or reboot of all the D&D worlds, for example allowing opened doors to PC races and base classes.

Maybe there is a good reason to explain the "reboot" of Ravenloft, a time-loop caused by the dark powers, and even some troubles because some dark-lords could send other people for time-travel.

UA had got some playtesting about subclasses linked with the planes, and I guess this could be a clue of Planescape returning before Spelljammer.

The faction war was ended in Sigil by order of the Lady of the Pain but we should rebember the gate-towns.

Spelljammer offers monster and PC races, and then I guess the sourcebook would be like other monster compedium. Hasbro would dare to publish a mobile videogame based in this line. I wouldn't dimiss planewalkers from Magic: the Gathering causing troubles in Spelljammer. The crystal spheres could allow a reason to explain where certain races come from.


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