D&D 5E Fantasy subgenres of the 5e adventures & settings?

Quickleaf

Legend
How would you describe the fantasy subgenres that the various 5e adventures and settings put out by Wizards of the Coast fit into? Some of these seem pretty straightforward – yeah, Curse of Strahd is "gothic horror" and Wild Beyond the Witchlight is some shade of "fairy tale." However, others seem trickier to pin down - e.g. several seem to be variations of "heroic fantasy." What do you think?

Fantasy subgenres are described in the DMG, but there are many ways to classify them. Here's one list of fantasy subgenres: 50 Fantasy Subgenres and Their Must-Reads And here's another: A Complete Overview of 18 Fantasy Subgenres - 2022 - MasterClass
If it helps you, here's a color hex picker tool: Color Hex Color Codes

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ADVENTURES
Starter Set: Lost Mine of Phandelver
Tyranny of Dragons
Princes of the Apocalypse
Out of the Abyss
Curse of Strahd
Storm King’s Thunder
Tales from the Yawning Portal (anthology)
Tomb of Annihilation
Waterdeep: Dragon Heist
Waterdeep: Dungeon of the Mad Mage
Ghosts of Saltmarsh (anthology)
Essentials Kit: Dragon of Icespire Peak
Baldur’s Gate: Descent into Avernus
Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden
Candlekeep Mysteries (anthology)
Wild Beyond Witchlight
Critical Role: Call of the Netherdeep
Journeys through the Radiant Citadel (anthology)
Spelljammer: Light of Xaryxis
Starter Set: Dragons of Stormwreck Isle
Shadow of the Dragon Queen (Dec 2022)

SETTINGS
Acquisitions Incorporated
Eberron: Rising from the Last War
Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount
Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica
Mythic Odysseys of Theros
Spelljammer: Adventures in Space
Strixhaven: A Curriculum of Chaos
Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide
Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft
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Here's my take so far....

ADVENTURES
Starter Set: Lost Mine of Phandelver heroic fantasy
Tyranny of Dragons heroic fantasy
Princes of the Apocalypse heroic fantasy
Out of the Abyss dark/wonderland fantasy
Curse of Strahd gothic horror
Storm King’s Thunder heroic fantasy
Tales from the Yawning Portal (anthology) heroic fantasy
Tomb of Annihilation heroic fantasy
Waterdeep: Dragon Heist urban fantasy
Waterdeep: Dungeon of the Mad Mage heroic fantasy
Ghosts of Saltmarsh (anthology) heroic fantasy
Essentials Kit: Dragon of Icespire Peak heroic fantasy
Baldur’s Gate: Descent into Avernus dark fantasy
Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden modern horror
Candlekeep Mysteries (anthology) heroic fantasy
Wild Beyond Witchlight fairy tale
Critical Role: Call of the Netherdeep ?
Journeys through the Radiant Citadel (anthology) solarpunk
Spelljammer: Light of Xaryxis ?
Starter Set: Dragons of Stormwreck Isle ?
Shadow of the Dragon Queen (Dec 2022) war/epic fantasy

SETTINGS
Acquisitions Incorporated ?
Eberron: Rising from the Last War pulp/steampunk
Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount ?
Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica urban fantasy
Mythic Odysseys of Theros mythic/legendary fantasy
Spelljammer: Adventures in Space sword & planet
Strixhaven: A Curriculum of Chaos ?
Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide heroic fantasy
Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft horror
 

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Burnside

Space Jam Confirmed
Supporter
I largely agree with your descriptors, with a few adjustments/additions.

Journeys through the Radiant Citadel (anthology) - I would describe as mostly hopepunk, but some are mythic/legendary fantasy and some are actually modern horror.

Wild Beyond the Witchlight - could make a good argument for dark fantasy rather than fairytale.

Critical Role: Call of the Netherdeep is heroic fantasy, as is Explorer's Guide to Wildemount

Tales from the Yawning Portal - arguably more of the content is sword & sorcery than heroic fantasy. As written, treasure-hunting is more likely the motivating factor than altruism to undertake the adventures.

Tomb of Annihilation - I'd say pulp fantasy more than heroic fantasy. The influences are mostly late 19th to mid-20th century genre writers.

Starter Set: Dragons of Stormwreck Isle is heroic fantasy.

Spelljammer: Light of Xaryxis is pulp sci-fi/fantasy. Biggest influence is Flash Gordon.

Is "school for magic kids" now a genre unto itself? If so, that's what Strixhaven is.
 

Voadam

Legend
Eberron goes for a pulp and noir types of themes for D&D, post WWI with espionage, Indiana Jones action archaeology, malevolent secret societies, jungle explorations, and such. Not sure how I would classify that as specifically fantasy subgenres.
 

Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
Spelljammer: Light of Xaryxis is pulp sci-fi/fantasy. Biggest influence is Flash Gordon.

Is "school for magic kids" now a genre unto itself? If so, that's what Strixhaven is.

The British Boarding School in fiction is classified as "School Story" genre and has been a thing since the 1700s, it then graduates to Campus Fiction for University life (which maybe where Strixhaven sits)

I'd classify Spelljammer as Space Opera

Eberron is pulp fantasy
 

Candlekeep Mysteries (anthology) heroic fantasy
The different stories belong to different sub-genres. A couple are full on gothic horror, one is a comedy.

Radiant Citadel has a gothic horror episode too.

Call of the Netherdeap is fairly standard heroic fantasy, with horror elements (which is common in D&D).
 

I'd say Call if the Netherdeep is Lovecraftian Horror.

Waterdeep: Mage Mage is an expansion of Waterdeep: Dragonheist, they are really one big adventure divided into two books, you don't really level the city of Waterdeep, as Undermountain is part of Waterdeep and there are ties between the stories, they are intended to be used together (with rules to intergrate Yawning Portal into it as well) so I think of Waterdeep: Dungeon of the Mad Mage as Urban Fantasy as well. It's also not really Heroic, your mostly just after fat loot from Undermountain.
 



D&D is made for heroic fantasy (earlier editions were a little more sword & sorcery). So it makes sense.

I wouldn't be surprised if cultivation fantasy (xianxia) starts to make inroads.
 


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