D&D 5E Pitch me a new WotC setting (+)

I've seen in a few different threads recently people wanting WotC to do something new and novel, setting-wise, rather than reskin old AD&D era settings for 5th ed.

So, imagine tomorrow that someone at WotC gets nostalgic for the old days of the Setting Search competition which originally generated Eberron. They do it all over again and want something brand new. No old settings brought back, no licenced settings, no MtG ports. They've got a pulp magitech setting, they've got a horror setting, they've got a magic school setting and a Greek myth setting and a space setting, and SEVERAL fairly generic D&D fantasy settings - they probably don't want to repeat these tropes. I suspect they'd also be leery of setting too closely based on real-world cultures, but hey, it's your pitch, do what you like but remember you're trying to pitch something to WotC that you think they'd be willing to publish.

What do you pitch to them? When people describe it as 'The X Setting,' what it your X? What are its influences, what are its tropes, what are its themes and iconic bad guys? Does it require new classes like Eberron generated the artificer, or any other significant mechanical additions? Why is it different to what they've already done with existing books? What's the big hook to your setting that'll get people excited about it? And what do you think will get WotCs marketing/brand management people to give you a big tick and say 'yeah, that one'?

log in or register to remove this ad

Well, if it was easy to define such a setting, we would already have it G

The only setting trope I can think of that we don't have is post-apocalyptic technology (not post magic like Dark Sun). Something like Shanarra where it appears to be typical fantasy, but is set in a post technological timeframe. This would be different from Eberron because instead of rising technology mixed with magic, it would be declining technology.

Also to set it apart, you could emphasize the divine, where dieties are active in the world, not lost or uncaring. Not sure what to do with races, maybe something more like everyone is akin to a humans (common ancestry) but have since developed familiar mutations. So the species are diverging from a common heritage. Classes would probably not need to be tweaked, except maybe to change the source of power for arcane magic to lost tech.

A lot more work would need to be done to make it unique and semi-original. But there you go, that's my thought.


Well, if it was easy to define such a setting, we would already have it G
probably true

The only setting trope I can think of that we don't have is post-apocalyptic technology (not post magic like Dark Sun). Something like Shanarra where it appears to be typical fantasy, but is set in a post technological timeframe. This would be different from Eberron because instead of rising technology mixed with magic, it would be declining technology.

Also to set it apart, you could emphasize the divine, where dieties are active in the world, not lost or uncaring.
Ha, I would have gone Dark Sun but cosmic horror, not that far apart at the highest level (post-apocalyptic in some fashion, powerful entities actively involved) ;)

I don’t think WotC would bite though…


Age Of Armageddon

Evil is winning. All Hell has literally broken lose, the Abyss is spilling over. Now the Prime is the focus of the blood war. The Gods of good, guilty over encouraging the War instead of stopping it, have fled, leaving their angels unorganized and desperate to help where they can. Neutrality remains neutral, empowering their adherents in their fight to survive.

Arcane magic is now corrupted; casting it slowly transforms the user into a fiend. Divine magic is gained by having a direct bond with an angel of your god. Nature fights back with primal magics and primordial beasts erupting into the world to fight back. Where once were wizards, now artificers, who have learned to cast with aids and prosthesis to avoid corruption. Where people remain, a new age of artifice technology has begun.

But corruption goes both ways, and demons and devils, separated from their planes and coming into contact with creatures of the prime, are now turning against their infernal programming and are learning to be different, better, transforming their own nature.

Tales and Chronicles

Jewel of the North, formerly know as vincegetorix
I'd go with a suggestion actually in the DMG that has never been used by D&D:

- The One World: there's no ''other planes''. All the places like the City of Brass or Avernus, or Mechanus or the Demonweb Pit are actually places on the world map. Not necessarily easy to reach or well-known, but they can be found. Forget connecting all the other setting to the new one, its not important; one prime world is quite enough.

- Find a place for all the classes present in the PHB, but give them a fresh spin. Do the same with the ancestries.

- No Gods, but philosophies, cults, religions and heresies. Clerics are philosophers with clubs.

- Magic that just ''is''. You shape the invisible energies of the world and it works because you are a spellcaster. Done. Magic in D&D is safe and not mysterious, stop trying to spin a complex mystical mumbo-jumbo to explain it.

- Airships, trains, vending machines, gun or other science fantasy items fueled by magic (ala Final Fantasy series) are more than welcome. Drop all pretenses of a European medieval setting. Samurais fighting alongside sky pirates and vikings against coatl-riding rakshasas is wonderful.

- Make magic schools a real thing. Give us an Illusion Academy and a Divination Boarding School.

- Revamp dragons to be more varied in forms. Winged amphisbaena as a green dragon, terrifying crocodile-like black dragons, horned sky whales as blue dragon, felinesque red dragon, snow owl white dragons etc


The one I developed is called Crimson Empire. (The link goes to the DriveThru book; it's system agnostic)

The setting is a mix of middle east, far east and faerie - sort of Al-Qadim meets Dark Sun with a bit of Redwall and Kara Tur/Rokugan and Norse throw in to taste. The main "realm" is a middle east style ancient empire that has shattered into 12 city-states, where the lands outside the fortified city-states is vast stretches of desert and dinosaurs. Its primary opponents are a loose federation of faerie animalfolk in the east, and a kraken-worshipping raiding/conquest kingdom to the west and a "secret" empire of the undead in the wastes of the southeast. There is a lost Atlantis/Thule-style kingdom (that used to be the former capital) amid a mass of islands in the north, and a distant "Here there be Dragons" continent to the far northwest. It is a world dominated by humans. Other races exist because the fey grew curious and envious of the human form and they took shape to experience the thrill of what a mortal form provides.


Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
I have a document full of setting ideas and partial setting aspects. I love making them, and every campaign I run (3-4+ years) is in it's own setting that is tailored to campaign I'm going to run in it.

That said, I don't have any WotC settings. Because even in the day of the setting search, the setting needed to contain everything in D&D at the time. Unlike a setting like Dark Sun it needed to allow everything. Eberron did it brilliantly by redefining so many expectations about the world and the races. But I don't design settings to be big tents that will allow anything, I dislike the kitchen sink nature of settings like FR.

Instead all of my settings are bespoke, designed around the campaign I want to run in the big picture, not designed as generic settings to run anything in.

Now, I've got a friend who wants to run both D&D and LARPs in the setting I've he's been playing it - they aren't exclusionary. But they are designed to be both different so they can address situations and questions an existing setting would have trouble with, and often very dynamic and in a state of flux and I believe that gives both great Calls to Adventure as well as provides adventures and allows the party to become linchpins of those changes.


Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Islands World.

No landmass larger than New Guinea. A world of a million islands.

Humans are a rarely seen folk, as are high elves, and one or two other common core species.

IRL touch stones are Mediterranean cultures (especially heavily diversified ones), Pacific Islanders, and Celtic And Norse cultures, and American indigenous cultures. Cultures tend to be mixed ancestry, with actual robust rules for mixing species.

The tropes are exploration, magic and tech working together, and living in an age where people are mostly thriving and totally free of the “the old world was better” trope.

The aesthetic is Final Fantasy meets studio Ghibli meets Zelda: Breath of The Wild.

9 shows up a lot. 9 moons, 9 “continents” (the largest islands, always at the center of archipelagos), 9 Celestial Houses in the sky representing 9 divine courts, 9 Great Lords Anathema, and 9 Dragons of Light and their 9 Dragon Temples.

The gods are present in the world, and when a person really strongly emulates a god and thier stories that god can basically become embodied in that person for a short time, guiding them to even greater feats than they’d normally be capable of. No evil gods, just gods and their enemies the Lords Anathema which are aberrations and fiends, mostly.

Aether infuses the world and runs a lot of the magitech. It can also be captured, compressed into crystalline residuum which can be used in place of costly material components.

Larger Aether crystals can store energy and redirect it, powering things like airships and other large engine devices. Such devices can have attunement slots like a character, allowing customization via installation of specialized systems.

New classe: Aethernaut- a swordmage style class with a pool of dice used to fuel arcane techniques themed on infusion of the body with magic energy and bonding a weapon. Lots of teleportation and weird movement (turn into lightning and end the turn in the destination space ofthe line of lightning you became). Has moves like throwing the weapon and it explodes dealing attack damage to everything in 10ft radius from a point you choose.

Artificer subclass: Artificer, Aeronaut. Vehicle focused artificer with a special gun and a familiar that can possess a vehicle and make it sentient for a time. Possessed vehicle can bear extra systems. Can install special gun into vehicle giving a vehicle a specialized magitech gun.


Big campaign seed:

The Dragons Awaken

After a thousand years or more, one of the dragon temples rises from its resting place, reminding the world that these temples are sentient divine constructs, and it has been corrupted by Anathema. Now heroes must rise to awaken the other temples before they can be corrupted, and entire into the corrupted temples to cleanse and restore them.

Provide stats for 5-6 temples, corrupt and not, with stats for fighting the temple itself, and stats for its defenses once inside, and regional effect stats like the regional magical hazards in Tashas.

Maybe include the ability to earn the companionship of Temple Guardians, which are Large - Huge draconic constructs with that are basically sentient magic item vehicles. Maybe a whole thing where when the party had restored its first temple, they get fairly limited guardians, just flying mounts that can barely fight but are hard to kill. Each successive temple them restores the guardian’s power and personality.

Less grand seeds include The Great Hunt, where a young woman in a remote island has sounded The Horn, thus calling The Hunt. Heroes from across the world gather to prove themselves in trials and gain a blessing from the horn, and then disperse again in search of the Arms of Fate to better combat the Great Beasts that the horn was sounded as a response to.

Regardless, a fairly peaceful and fruitful world is threatened by a half forgotten darkness, and heroes must rise to meet the darkness and defeat it.

Another possible new mechanic could be Fellowship mechanics involving group morale as you form bonds doing adventures, and bonds with communities as you help them, and this translates into greater Resolve, Hope, etc. Resolve Luke be a sort of group defense mechanic, while Hope is a dice pool like Force Points in Star Wars Saga Edition.

Definitely build on existing mechanics for investigation, reputation, hazards, and expand encounter building to make the enemy both creature and environmental hazard. You have to engage with a temple or Great Beast on multiple levels, think in terms of combat, and problem solving, to win.

Airships are a newer tech, and regular folks mostly have access to small personal short range craft, which needs to land after an hour or so in the air and recharge. You need a ship early on, and only in like twice 3 do you possibly get something like a long range airship.

Maybe there are floating sky islands, as well as normal islands.

High level play unlocks access to the Nine Moons, which house celestial secrets of epic importance and power, some of which will try to eat you, while others will “gift” you with some terrible responsibility.

This gives three physical tiers of focus, not counting the Depths of the Eternal Sea.

Some worldbuilding is left up to the group, by way of mechanics for players and DM to decide where each PC comes from, what species are common there, and what life is like there.

As well, major cities, hidden places, and whole nations, might have options to either stick with a default “canon” or turn worldbuilding back to the players with a sort of mini-game with multiple choice options.

Also include rules for determining the legacy of a group of characters, giving an easy way to play the next story in the same world but years later with things changed by the heroes of the last game.

Also this would be a “some or all of this could build a fantastic setting” pitch. A lot of it is optional.

Voidrunner's Codex

Remove ads