D&D 5E D&D's Classic Settings Are Not 'One Shots'

Spelljammer-ship-in-space-asteroid-city.jpeg

In an interview with ComicBook.com, WotC's Jeremy Crawford talked about the visits to Ravenloft, Eberron, Spelljammer, Dragonlance, and (the upcoming) Planescape we've seen over the last couple of years, and their intentions for the future.

He indicated that they plan to revisit some of these settings again in the future, noting that the setting books are among their most popular books.

We love [the campaign setting books], because they help highlight just how wonderfully rich D&D is. They highlight that D&D can be gothic horror. D&D can be fantasy in space. D&D can be trippy adventures in the afterlife, in terms of Planescape. D&D can be classic high fantasy, in the form of the Forgotten Realms. It can be sort of a steampunk-like fantasy, like in Eberron. We feel it's vital to visit these settings, to tell stories in them. And we look forward to returning to them. So we do not view these as one-shots.
- Jeremy Crawford​

The whole 'multiverse' concept that D&D is currently exploring plays into this, giving them opportunities to resist worlds.

When asked about the release schedule of these books, Crawford noted that the company plans its release schedule so that players get chance to play the material, not just read it, and they don't want to swamp people with too much content to use.

Our approach to how we design for the game and how we plan out the books for it is a play-first approach. At certain times in D&D's history, it's really been a read-first approach. Because we've had points in our history where we were producing so many books each year, there was no way anyone could play all of it. In some years it would be hard to play even a small percentage of the number of things that come out. Because we have a play-first approach, we want to make sure we're coming out with things at a pace where if you really wanted to, and even that would require a lot of weekends and evenings dedicated to D&D play, you could play a lot of it.
- Jeremy Crawford​

You can read more in the interview at ComicBook.com.
 

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Reynard

Legend
I really wish they would stop calling Eberron steampunk. It is aetherpunk, which is both cooler and broader. By calling "steampunk-like" as a shorthand, Crawford is unintentionally limiting what I think is D&D best setting. I mean, is there even a Victorian trope in the entire setting? Or a single steam engine? Warforged aren't even clockwork, and airships are not the slightest bit like derigibles.

All that said, I might be inclined to give WotC money again if they put out a big campaign -- or better yet, an anthology -- set in Eberron.
 




Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
"So we do not view these as one-shots."

Sure. We will release campaign settings that you will get to play once, with just enough setting information to play it once, and then release a different setting shortly thereafter that we will expect that you will move on to ....

But we don't view it as a one-shot. Because we don't believe our own lying eyes! ;)

(I kid, kind of. Mostly.)
 

Dragonlance is my favorite. But let’s face it all their settings are missed opportunities. They should be living settings where things happen like KP Midgard. Instead they make one dimensional settings forever stuck in time. The books lack worldbuilding and really only serve as a narrow slice, just a jump off point for an adventure that really has little context to the broader world.
 


Reynard

Legend
Dragonlance is my favorite. But let’s face it all their settings are missed opportunities. They should be living settings where things happen like KP Midgard. Instead they make one dimensional settings forever stuck in time. The books lack worldbuilding and really only serve as a narrow slice, just a jump off point for an adventure that really has little context to the broader world.
That is true of neither Eberron nor Ravenloft.
 

aco175

Legend
I like the code language in that they are not going to follow MagicTG in releasing new expansions and go from 2-3 a year and now they have, what 16. It's not the way to be a billion dollar business unless you churn out more books.

I can see some book come out each year with updates to these settings that are not core, but people will buy. Remember the old Dragon recaps with an article from each setting. People will buy a whole book for one article on some setting they like.
 

darjr

I crit!
"So we do not view these as one-shots."

Sure. We will release campaign settings that you will get to play once, with just enough setting information to play it once, and then release a different setting shortly thereafter that we will expect that you will move on to ....

But we don't view it as a one-shot. Because we don't believe our own lying eyes! ;)

(I kid, kind of. Mostly.)
A series of one shots. There is a path forward with Ravenloft. Just because they haven’t done that yet with other settings doesn’t mean they won’t.
 


A series of one shots. There is a path forward with Ravenloft. Just because they haven’t done that yet with other settings doesn’t mean they won’t.
They also did it with Wildemount -> Netherdeep, so it's really just a matter of having room in the production schedule, which will be a lot more open once the '24 rules revamp is complete.

Manual of the Planes sorely needed
Agreed.
 


R_J_K75

Hero
Crawford noted that the company plans its release schedule so that players get chance to play the material, not just read it, and they don't want to swamp people with too much content to use.
This seems odd. I mean the DM at least usually has to read the book first before playing/using it. Its not like I can pick up Curse of Strahd and just start running it without ever reading it. I agree that they shouldn't release too many products but my problem with their releases is that they all basically fall into a few categories, core rule books, supplemental rule books like Tashas and Xanathars, campaign settings, monster/creature facing books and mega adventures/campaigns. The only short books they've released are in the starter sets. I know they have anthology books with shorter adventures, but I really wish theyd release some books similar to the 2Es Bastion of Faith, Den of Thieves, Book of Lairs, City Sites, etc. Those shorter books were way more appealing and useful to me as opposed a 250+ page mega-adventure. Products like the Book of Lairs and City Sites were so easy to read a 2-3 page adventure synopsis in 15 min and just run it. As much as I wish they surprise us with something off the beaten path I don't think it'll happen anytime soon. You never know perhaps after D&D2024 releases this may change.
 

"So we do not view these as one-shots."

Sure. We will release campaign settings that you will get to play once, with just enough setting information to play it once, and then release a different setting shortly thereafter that we will expect that you will move on to ....

But we don't view it as a one-shot. Because we don't believe our own lying eyes! ;)

(I kid, kind of. Mostly.)
You ain't wrong though.

And it's like the subtext with Crawford here is "We don't view them as one-shots, we view them as cross-marketing opportunities which we can leverage!", and like, there's always been a bit of that in D&D, but what he isn't saying is "We'll get more setting material for these settings".

Rather he's saying "Our multiverse-spanning adventure is going to try and convince people to pick up all the setting books because $$$!".
"We love [the campaign setting books]"

Then why aren't you publishing any?
Exactly.

Trust their actions not their words. The quality of setting books as setting books has been generally mediocre for all of 5E (Eberron being the only real counter-example, though Theros ain't bad - Ravenloft was good as "how to play horror D&D", mediocre at best for "Here's Ravenloft!"), and whilst Planescape sounds like a distinct improvement from the nadir that was Spelljammer, it doesn't sound like it's a huge change in direction, just a recognition that they went too far.
It's a shame Dark Sun seems to have been ditched. That's the one I've been hoping for the most.
I think it's the same reason that Baldur's Gate 3 is such a contrast to WotC products, in virtually every way - there's blood, tears, sex, death, monsters and real horror and it's very much R-rated and aimed at grown-ups, and WotC is very much wanting D&D to be genuinely "family friendly". Not PG13 even - just straight-up PG.

This is why we have a giant-focused book literally no-one asked for, when one focused on aberrations (who are very hard to make less than PG13 if you go into any detail on them) which would probably have been vastly more popular and usable. Because giants are easy to make completely PG and safe.

So Dark Sun is gone, and it's not even the slavery thing, which could have been dealt with, it's because the basic issues the setting deals with - man-made climate change, societal oppression by elites, people rising up to challenge those things, and the general brutality of such a world is just not compatible with the conceptual PG rating WotC wants nowadays.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
Dragonlance is my favorite. But let’s face it all their settings are missed opportunities. They should be living settings where things happen like KP Midgard. Instead they make one dimensional settings forever stuck in time. The books lack worldbuilding and really only serve as a narrow slice, just a jump off point for an adventure that really has little context to the broader world.
Metaplot was a pretty serious mistake for RPG Settings. One of the neat parts of Eberron is that all the potential plots are still abailab5after 20 years.

The 5E books are not total world atla, but they are great campaign building resources. An Eberron based Adventure, or a Ravniva one, could be awesome.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
The quality of setting books as setting books has been generally mediocre for all of 5E (Eberron being the only real counter-example, though Theros ain't bad - Ravenloft was good as "how to play horror D&D", mediocre at best for "Here's Ravenloft!"), and whilst Planescape sounds like a distinct improvement from the nadir that was Spelljammer, it doesn't sound like it's a huge change in direction, just a recognition that they went too far.
Ravnic and Wildemoint are quite good. The 5E Setting books are less worldbuilding encyclopedias, and more genre booster packs. So Ravenloft has a section that's Horror themed booster for the PHB, a section that's Horror themed booster for the DMG, and a section that's a jorror themed booster for the MM. SCAG and Wildemoint are the exceptions here, because SCAG was an early experiment and Mercer has a 2E approach to things.
 

nevin

Hero
Nah Dark sun came of age as the internet was growing and everyone wanted to connect thier campaign worlds into a multiverse. Dark sun was all about bein separate from everything else. That's what killed it. The weird after box set supplements of psionic halfing barbarian tribes that fit a Jules Verne or E.R. Burroughs book better than the Dark sun source material didn't help at all. It was pure genious without any vision or brand control applied.
 


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