D&D General [+] Tell me about your favorite official D&D setting...

Jacob Lewis

Ye Olde GM
Dark Sun has always been one of my favorite fantasy settings, but not my favorite D&D setting. It has a different feel to it than your run-of-the-mill dungeon crawling, powering up, D&D-style game. Or at least it should. It really deserves its own system that will cater to the specific needs and style of the setting, which focuses on more on survival and exploration, as well as a magic system that makes more sense both mechanically and thematically.

There's a lot more ground to cover on this subject, but I'll leave it there for this thread.
 

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MoonSong

Rules-lawyering drama queen but not a munchkin
The OG Greyhawk, before TSR advanced the timeline. The Boxed Set provided an awesome map by Darlene that gave plenty of different regions to work with. The information in it and the folio is enough to stir the imagination, yet there's not a whole lot of details, allowing the DM to customize it to their needs. Despite peoples complaints about it being "generic," it has a pretty interesting history that sets up the current (576 CY) volatile political structure.
Even post-development Greyhawk has a lot of things going for it. It remains dark and down to earth. And while it has huge NPCs that can in theory solve every problem, they have yet to be on speaking terms with each other first, ineffectual not out of laziness, but due to their own flaws and bad choices, so there is room for your group to succeed where they failed or to take advantage of their failure for your own benefit, nothing forcing you to be a hero...

Edit: Also, the good Gods are actually good, instead of passively benefiting from an effed cosmic arrangement keeping souls captive in order to extract as much worship as possible from them...
 

I want to say Planescape, but while it's undoubtedly an incredible piece of worldbuilding, I found it to actually be pretty poorly done as a campaign setting to set campaigns in.
I hate to admit it, but I kind of feel the same way. My absolutely favorite setting to read sourcebooks from, but I could never figure out how to really use them in a game.

I honestly feel kind of the same about Dark Sun, as much as I love it. I've introduced a number of new players to the game during lockdown - the Forgotten Realms or Greyhawk work because I can just say, "You've seen the Lord of the Rings movies? It's kind of like that, think of a character that makes sense in that sort of world." As much as I want to, I can't reasonably assign them all The Verdant Passage as homework.
 

Hex08

Adventurer
I want to say Planescape, but while it's undoubtedly an incredible piece of worldbuilding, I found it to actually be pretty poorly done as a campaign setting to set campaigns in.
I kind of felt the same way. I loved reading the books and I really wanted to run a Planescape game but never did. In the end I mostly used the books to give me ideas for games I ran in the Forgotten Realms, with the occasional jaunt to other planes.
 

fba827

Adventurer
Mystara
Nostalgia but also it had cultures I was easily able to grasp and extrapolate on the fly when DMing. Also the concept of the hollow world stuff was a great way of taking old cultures and keeping them alive for PCs to interact with the society and have a bit of fish out of water exploration rather than simply exploring hidden ruins
 

Voadam

Legend
Jakandor. Small Sub continent sized island setting. Advanced magical empire fell to magical disease leaving high magic wizard enclave dungeons full of magical creations including spells, magic items, and monsters.

The scant remnants of the empire generations later are making a comeback in part using neutral mindless undead as a labor force and soldiers and trying to reclaim the magic that is out there.

The Island is also now home to a migrating barbarian warrior people who are into nature spirit magic but really hate undead.

Three sourcebooks, one for playing the warrior peoples trying to make a home in a land of abominations, one for playing the civilized mage culture trying to claw back their civilization and power amid monsters and now an invading army. One to show where the dungeons are and layout a bunch of campaign ideas and adventure seeds and more fledged out adventures.
 

Ath-kethin

Elder Thing
Al-Qadim. I really loved the flavor and sandbox adventures, including exploring lost tombs and archipelagos. It had its own vibe that made it a nice change of pace.

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I adore al-Qadim; it's part of why I wrote the 5e campaign guide for it.

My second favorite has always been Spelljammer, though technically I encountered Spelljammer first.

I also have a deep and abiding love for Dragonlance, though I always found Ansalon a difficult setting to actually run games in. Taladas seems it would work better, but despite owning the Time of the Dragon boxed set I never actually ran it.
 




South by Southwest

Incorrigible Daydreamer
I'm going to defend Planescape even though I agree with Yora that as a campaign setting it doesn't really work all that smoothly. To my mind, anyway, it does indeed need something of an overhaul and a less gung-ho approach to certain flavor elements (the slang, the competing "philosophies" behind the competing factions, etc.). But because the world created is itself so compelling and promising, I still go for it. I liken it to finding an old mansion with good bones, but no insulation and a lot of decaying plaster: there's real work needed here, but it is so worth it.
 

Li Shenron

Legend
I have many favourite settings, including Planescape and Forgotten Realms, but since those are going to be mentioned a lot I'll go with Rokugan (originally from AEG, but it counts as official since it was the default settings chosen by WotC for 3ed Oriental Adventures).

Rokugan is my favourite among all oriental-inspired settings because it has a clear and strong theme with a limited number of ongoing background stories, not too vague or overloaded with too much stuff. It also has less emphasis on combat and more on intrigue, investigation and even politics. It might sound very odd, but I also like it because of its character restrictions. Your character essentially has to stick with their class and clan. Knowledge is safeguarded by clans, so you can't just think "that ability looks cools, I'll pick it up at the next level-up" about anything, if it's another clan's stuff you just can't learn it on a whim. At the same time, equipment is given, not bought. Money is irrelevant for PCs and treasure almost so, except occasionally (in a sense, there is no private property in this setting).

These things make for a different enough gaming experience that typical D&D, even if you can use D&D rules to play it.
 

Voadam

Legend
Nehwon. Based off the Sword and Sorcery novels TSR had a couple big RPG setting sourcebooks and a bunch of adventures for AD&D plus elements in Deities and Demigods and Legends and Lore.

Lankhmar is New York City translated into Sword and Sorcery fantasy, a big emphasis on thieves and assassins, scheming, and adventure seeking swordsmen rogues. A neat eclectic variety of gods, their cults, and plots involving them. White and black magic, northern witches, patron inhuman wizards, interesting non human interactions (invisible fleshed non-monster ghouls, sentient rat stuff, gnomes, alien beings).
 

Dark Sun is my favorite, but for a slightly different reason then some may expect.

Essentially, what I like about Dark Sun is a mixture of Brom's art (obvious), the original ideas as they were posited (obvious), and the deconstruction I've done to link these two things. Normally in Dark Sun books, I find the writing, adventures, and characters fail to live up to the mystique and visceral emotions so invoked by Brom's art. Depicted by him, Dark Sun is a deeply occult world, one whose occult fascination has led to both the end of days and numerous roads that just may lead to a hopeful future. It truly was art unlike any other for its time, and nothing else from official D&D content has ever really made me just "Wow" like Dark Sun does.

However, Dark Sun is very big, and it means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. I don't agree that Dark Sun couldn't be made in 2022, but I do agree that it would have to be updated and made better then what it ended up being. We can keep slavery, oppression, and doing hard things just to survive, but a new age Dark Sun would need to follow up on all its occult, magical, and supernatural elements, fully realizing them instead of leaving them be as vague ideas described poorly in old novelizations.

I don't think this will happen, which is why I made my own setting that I've published that carries some of these themes forwards, but man if there ever is a reinvented Dark Sun that is true to what it started as but adds in modern artistic talents, it'd be absolutely sublime. Has the most potential of any D&D setting IMO that is official sans Planescape.
 


edosan

Explorer
I would say specifically the Sword Coast (my default campaign setting tends toward "Sword Coast then points of light as you go farther inward") because thanks to all the auxiliary media (books, video games, even the Lords of Waterdeep board game) I've internalized so much of it at this point.

I know some people would call it too generic but I like a more neutral setting to riff on and that way it feels more like "my" Sword Coast.
 

Voadam

Legend
Hyboria. Conan's world. Barbarians, Stygian sorcery, pulpy monsters, lots of different cultures. Only two AD&D modules, and they were only OK, but a great world. The OD&D Supplement IV Gods, Demi-Gods, & Heroes had a Hyborian section but unfortunately that got cut for the WotC anniversary edition and the PDF. TSR had a non-D&D Conan RPG, and then later other companies got in on it and there was GURPS Conan, d20 Conan, and currently Modiphius's 2d20 Conan if you want more Conan RPG setting material in addition to the novels, comics, movies, and such.
 

Tutara

Explorer
Mystara, because it was the first setting I really played in, and the Savage Coast/Red Steel because I loved the frontier, wild west feel and weird mutations of the Red Curse. That said, both have some ropey bits that I'd not be sorry to see go. Ravenloft is ace (all versions have their charm) and the more I see of Eberron the more I like it.
 

James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
In theory? I'd say Planescape or Spelljammer. Both settings are just full of "wow" factor. They can be as gritty or as high fantasy as you want, literally anything goes. You can focus on action in a bar in Sigil or on the Rock of Bral, doing dirty work for various factions, and dealing with low intrigue in back alleys.

Or you can focus on sailing the Astral Sea aboard a ship made from the head of a long-dead Goddess that no one even remembers, fighting Githyanki along side a crew of planar misfits, under the command of a Marilith Pirate Queen!

Or you can focus on exploring strange new worlds, seeking out new life and new civilizations, boldly going where no human has gone before, aboard a Gnomish Dreadnaught crewed by British Hippo-Men armed with muskets and a love for things that go BANG!

In practice, Eberron is the ultimate kitchen sink setting. However, unlike other settings, it takes the existence of fantasy elements and runs with it. Magically empowered merchant guilds engage in Machiavellian politics while the world recovers from an all-out war fought with undead, monsters, and sentient robots- robots who now are trying to find a purpose in a time of peace.

The minions of dark gods and aberrations from BEYOND lurk in the sewers, the monsters are trying to rebuild an empire, the touch of Dragons can be seen everywhere, Elves worship their undying elders, there's an entire continent of ancient Giant ruins infested by scorpion-loving dark elves, Halflings ride velociraptors on the Talenta Plains...

There's just no end to the stuff available. Sadly, however, I feel Eberron, since it was created for 3e, hasn't been the same in newer editions. The options available to players have been far more conservative, and this is a setting where it's perfectly ok for your Halfling Fighter to suddenly use the strange powers of the Mark of Hospitality to conjure an extradimensional luxury hotel for the party in the middle of nowhere!
 

Swedish Chef

Explorer
I loved the literary world of DragonLance. Never played the modules, nor felt interested in doing so. Not sure why.

I loved Al Qadim and the Arabian-esque feel to it. I still own everything made for. Never could convince the group to try it out, though. One player did try a Shi'ar, but the concept didn't work very well. Many times his gen never returned with the first spell before the combat came to a close. 🙃

Overall, I fell in love with the Forgotten Realms, all of it. The grey box was amazing, the 3rd edition campaign guide was astounding and I loved all the Dragon Magazine articles. I've met Ed Greenwood a number of times and have had him sign everything he's ever written that I own a copy of. Waterdeep was my default campaign start for most of the games I ran.
 

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