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D&D General Great and not so great setting specific sourebooks/modules

Ath-kethin

Elder Thing
Some great suggestions here!

The Primeval Thule campaign setting and included/accompanying adventures are superb, especially if, like me, you are a fan of Sword & Sorcery and Weird Fantasy stories.

I'm a huge fan of the 2e Al-Qadim sourceboxes; all of them are super evocative and have great adventures in them (though many might be a challenge for modern DMs to run, just because the expectations of the game have changed so much).

Similarly, the Spelljammer stuff from back in the day was great - I miss the days of D&D not taking itself so damn seriously.

All of the 3.5 Eberron materials were amazing.

I'll cast another vote in favor of the Dragonlance Time of the Dragon/Taladas materials. Super well designed world and societies that have even greater depth if you are familiar with the more popular Ansalon oriented DL products.

When we're talking BAD modules, though, one I don't see lambasted enough is DL16: World of Krynn. The adventures in it run from bog standard to aggressively dull, with the occasional detour into asinine (did you know that Lord Soth, the world's most famous death knight, keeps the Tarrasque in a room of his castle? It's there in DL16!).
 

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Volund

Explorer
I'm playing through the Odyssey of the Dragonlords campaign which is set in a land inspired by Greek mythology. There are cool races and class options and "epic paths" that give each player unique story goals. Our group is having fun with it. Judging from the rules, setting material, and artwork in the player's guide and the experience playing on Roll20, it's a high quality product. Recommended.
 

If you want Forgotten Realms but something a little more condensed, higher detailed and tied to one specific area... get the 3rd edition Silver Marches softcover sourcebook. It takes one area of the Realms and really delves into it with much more detail than you'd get from the full 3E Campaign Setting book.
+1 for Silver Marches.

Also, the Neverwinter Campaign Setting for 4E is made of awesome - bimming with open ended plots and adventure ideas. (and easily converted)
 

Voadam

Legend
I am a big fan of the Ptolus Player's Guide. Free 32 page mostly stat free overview intro to a great world and city setting that was the playtest for 3e D&D. Giant theocratic empire that is decaying and splitting into city states and religious civil war of succession. The Holy Lothian empire is based on the church of an ascended paladin that is tied into the government with an on again off again history of persecuting arcane casters, and a background of old gods so you can have a familiar medievalish church plus D&D polytheism with a pantheon of your choice. I found it very evocative in themes and tropes to use and incorporated it heavily into my homebrew.

Plus there is the 800 pages or so of the in-depth Ptolus Setting books for detailing out the factions and NPCs of the titular trade city state, and a great epic D&D adventure the Banewarrens.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
+1 for Silver Marches.

Also, the Neverwinter Campaign Setting for 4E is made of awesome - brimming with open ended plots and adventure ideas. (and easily converted)
Absolutely. I was able to extend my Lost Mines of Phandelver campaign quite a bit by bringing in a lot of locations and hooks from this book. Most of them are actually much more compelling in my mind to the stuff that appears in the Essentials Kit.
 

Azuresun

Adventurer
The Primeval Thule campaign setting and included/accompanying adventures are superb, especially if, like me, you are a fan of Sword & Sorcery and Weird Fantasy stories.

You beat me to that one. Running a campaign there now, and it's had a great reception.

I'll also +1 the third edition FR setting. This is why I don't really see the point in demanding a full 5e "update" of the setting. The definitive guide already exists for me, a new edition would add nothing except incorporating a bunch of silly metaplot stuff and retcons.

Much as I like the 3.5 Eberron setting, I think the 5e book is better, certainly for players and arguably for the GM. A lot of setting guides can fall into just being a dry travelogue and don't make it easy for players to engage with the setting if they don't know about it coming in. But this one is heavily focused upon succintly giving players the information they need to create characters who are rooted in the setting--so if a character comes from Thrane, follows the Blood of Vol, is a hobgoblin, a veteran of the Last War or a member of House Orien or whatever, it's very easy to look up the relevant section and see what that means in this world and for the character in question.
 


This is why I don't really see the point in demanding a full 5e "update" of the setting. The definitive guide already exists for me, a new edition would add nothing except incorporating a bunch of silly metaplot stuff and retcons.
The 3e Realms book has been out of print for almost 20 years. For many people, a hardcopy text is preferable to a .pdf. Most of the used prices for the book on Amazon are pretty high (a couple of low, reasonable offers, but they're well below the typical market value).

Presumably they also want Realms-specific "crunch" rules elements to replace the 3e elements in there. FR-specific backgrounds, subclasses, Cleric domains, feats, spells etc.

As for metaplot, while I know a lot of Realms fans ignore the Spellplague and everything after it (rather like most Dragonlance fans I know ignore the Chaos War and everything after it, and how the Planescape fans I know ignore the Faction War and everything after it), I'm sure a lot of people would like to see how the big deux ex machina reset that undid a lot of the spellplague's sweeping changes actually were worked in. They've jumped the timeline ahead well over a century from the 3e FRCS now, and after 4e did things like wipe entire countries off the map and level entire cities, only for them to be back on the map now, asking how and when those things happened is a valid question for someone trying to keep up with metaplot.

. . .and newer fans that only started with 5e may be discouraged by finding out that the best book for one of the most popular settings was published 19 years ago and hasn't been updated in 2 editions of D&D.

I'll still say that if you want to know the Realms and run a game in them, the 3e FRCS is the best book ever made for it, but I can see why a devoted 5e player would want a 5e version of it.
 

AdmundfortGeographer

Getting lost in fantasy maps
As for metaplot, while I know a lot of Realms fans ignore the Spellplague and everything after it (rather like most Dragonlance fans I know ignore the Chaos War and everything after it, and how the Planescape fans I know ignore the Faction War and everything after it), I'm sure a lot of people would like to see how the big deux ex machina reset that undid a lot of the spellplague's sweeping changes actually were worked in.
... and Greyhawk fans ignore Greyhawk Wars, Mystara fans ignore Alphatia sinking below the sea and teleported to Hollow World, Dark Sun fans who ignore the end of the Prism Pentad... 😉
 

... and Greyhawk fans ignore Greyhawk Wars, Mystara fans ignore Alphatia sinking below the sea and teleported to Hollow World, Dark Sun fans who ignore the end of the Prism Pentad... 😉
I am coming to think every metaplot eventually reaches the point where a consensus of the devoted fans go "nope, I'm going to just ignore that and act like that never happened."

My World of Darkness-playing friends pretty much ignore The Reckoning, for example (unless the plot of the game is specifically Gehenna/Apocalypse/end-of-the-world scenario).
 


In addition to the out-of-game time that's passed, I'll also point out that the 3e Campaign Guide is over a hundred years out of date in-game. Things change in that amount of time. Sure, elves, gnomes, dwarves, and other long-lived folk could still be around, but many of the movers and shakers have changed significantly.

The 3e Realms book has been out of print for almost 20 years. For many people, a hardcopy text is preferable to a .pdf. Most of the used prices for the book on Amazon are pretty high (a couple of low, reasonable offers, but they're well below the typical market value).

This thread reminded me to take a look at Aurora's Whole Realms to figure out what's on the menu at the Stonehill Inn as I start Dragon of Icespire Peak tonight.
 

I remember the shelf-full-of-books-in-alphabetical-order kind. My parents bought a complete Encyclopedia Britannica set, just after I was born.
You had good parents, assuming you're about my age; if you're younger... they're probably kicking themselves thanks to the internet. My parents got me a typewriter when I turned 12, which was an excellent investment. My handwriting is/was atrocious, and this helped me from losing points due to illegibility. Side note, my worst habit was randomly switching between cursive and block letters, usually in the same sentence.
 

In addition to the out-of-game time that's passed, I'll also point out that the 3e Campaign Guide is over a hundred years out of date in-game. Things change in that amount of time. Sure, elves, gnomes, dwarves, and other long-lived folk could still be around, but many of the movers and shakers have changed significantly.
Well, they could always run a game set circa 1372 DR when that book is set. Just because the official metaplot has been advanced 110+ years doesn't mean they have to follow it or use that time period.

WotC has been pretty sparse with stuff after the Second Sundering, just a sort of vague implication that Ao largely reset most things to more-or-less what they were pre-Spellplague (IIRC, they came up with an explanation towards the end of 4th Edition Living Forgotten Realms in one module for why Ao couldn't stop the Spellplague and it would take him so long to undo it), at least with regards to the map and the Gods and such. I'd hate to have to run any long-term game in such a poorly defined setting as that.

Plenty of material for the timeframe of the 1360's and 1370's between 2nd and 3rd edition Realms works, enough to run a lifetime of campaigns without needing WotC's metaplot updates past 1385 (I personally ignore everything after 1383 D.R., as the death of Helm was just more of the grimdark of the Spellplague, happening before that actual event).
 

Eltab

Lord of the Hidden Layer
Well, they could always run a game set circa 1372 DR when that book is set. Just because the official metaplot has been advanced 110+ years doesn't mean they have to follow it or use that time period.

WotC has been pretty sparse with stuff after the Second Sundering, just a sort of vague implication that Ao largely reset most things to more-or-less what they were pre-Spellplague (IIRC, they came up with an explanation towards the end of 4th Edition Living Forgotten Realms in one module for why Ao couldn't stop the Spellplague and it would take him so long to undo it), at least with regards to the map and the Gods and such. I'd hate to have to run any long-term game in such a poorly defined setting as that.

Plenty of material for the timeframe of the 1360's and 1370's between 2nd and 3rd edition Realms works, enough to run a lifetime of campaigns without needing WotC's metaplot updates past 1385 (I personally ignore everything after 1383 D.R., as the death of Helm was just more of the grimdark of the Spellplague, happening before that actual event).
Re: last paragraph

I saw the "divine love triangle / soap opera" thing at the end of Grand History of the Realms and immediately replaced it with "Tyr receives a certain summons from his original home plane. He makes his plans, ties up loose ends on Faerun, and sets forth leading a glorious host on crusade. "
 

Eltab

Lord of the Hidden Layer
You had good parents, assuming you're about my age; if you're younger... they're probably kicking themselves thanks to the internet. My parents got me a typewriter when I turned 12, which was an excellent investment. My handwriting is/was atrocious, and this helped me from losing points due to illegibility. Side note, my worst habit was randomly switching between cursive and block letters, usually in the same sentence.
I'm not old enough for them to have acquired a set of scrolls from the Library of Alexandria (although sometimes this Grognard feels like it) ...

Was that typewriter mechanical or electrical? I first tried to type on one that had keys that hit an ink ribbon, went CLACK, got stuck together when I went too fast, and everything.
 

Azzy

KMF DM
Also, the Neverwinter Campaign Setting for 4E is made of awesome - bimming with open ended plots and adventure ideas. (and easily converted)

I really need to sit down and give that a thorough read. From my skimming, though, it looks like there's not a lot of game mechanics and much of those that exist are pretty irrelevent to 5e. The only thing that looks like it would be worthwhile to convert are Themese and monsters. I'm not familiar with 4e game mechanics, but the Themes look like they could be converted to Backgrounds. And monsters, well that should be more or less easy to convert. I'd like to hear your (or anyone else that played 4e) opinion on what to convert and how, though.
 

Azzy

KMF DM
Was that typewriter mechanical or electrical? I first tried to type on one that had keys that hit an ink ribbon, went CLACK, got stuck together when I went too fast, and everything.

Ha! I remember my father's mechanical typewriter and an electric one (that had a typeball instead of regular typebars). In middle school, I was given an electrical typewriter that I didn't use terribly often, and one of my friends had one with a daisywheel. It was only a couple years later that I got my first compuer (a Tandy 1000) with a dot matrix printer. The typewriter was relegated to the trashbin after that.
 

Was that typewriter mechanical or electrical? I first tried to type on one that had keys that hit an ink ribbon, went CLACK, got stuck together when I went too fast, and everything.
Mechanical. I'm not sure if the electrical had even come out yet, but if it was, it was well beyond our price range. The old mechanical ones had the ribbon (which was a pain to replace) and the famous "ding" when you hit return. I wasn't a fast typer as a kid, so I didn't have the issue of stuck keys too often, although I'd constantly do so now. I was amazed when I found out the QWERTY keyboard was designed that way because it minimized the probability of this happening, as it still happened a lot!
 

I really need to sit down and give that a thorough read. From my skimming, though, it looks like there's not a lot of game mechanics and much of those that exist are pretty irrelevent to 5e. The only thing that looks like it would be worthwhile to convert are Themese and monsters. I'm not familiar with 4e game mechanics, but the Themes look like they could be converted to Backgrounds. And monsters, well that should be more or less easy to convert. I'd like to hear your (or anyone else that played 4e) opinion on what to convert and how, though.
IME the character mechanics are too 4e to really convert. But everything else is a piece of cake. Just insert whatever reskinned monster you need or build your own. I've done it with no sweat, plus it has the added bonus that I can set the level to what I need.
Someone already converted the themes into 5e backgrounds in this thread (more themes on last page)

Edit: someone also did a 5e conversion of the Ashmadai. To low powered for my campaign, but maybe I can dig it up if you're interested
 
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