D&D 5E What should be the 5E default setting?

What should be the default setting for 5E?

  • Something entirely new

    Votes: 17 12.6%
  • 4E's Points of Light, Astral Sea/Elemental Chaos

    Votes: 20 14.8%
  • 3E's Greyhawk/Planescape mash-up

    Votes: 6 4.4%
  • Greyhawk

    Votes: 19 14.1%
  • Forgotten Realms

    Votes: 16 11.9%
  • Dragonlance

    Votes: 3 2.2%
  • Dark Sun

    Votes: 2 1.5%
  • Ravenloft

    Votes: 1 0.7%
  • Eberron

    Votes: 4 3.0%
  • Some combination of the above settings

    Votes: 3 2.2%
  • Some setting not included in this poll

    Votes: 6 4.4%
  • No default setting at all

    Votes: 33 24.4%
  • It doesn't really matter

    Votes: 5 3.7%

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Mishihari Lord

First Post
I think there does need to be an explicit default setting. You can't avoid having a default setting of some kind because just presenting the mechanics says a lot about the world you're going to be playing in. A bit more gives you a direction for your play. LBB Traveller is a good example of the problems you can have with too little background setting. As an experienced player, I adore the game. As a GM fairly new to RPGs, I really struggled with it: I couldn't figure out what the PCs were supposed to do and where they were supposed to go. A good example of default setting done right is Shadowrun; it gives a very clear picture of what you're going to be doing.

A voted 4E's points of light. I'm not at all a fan of 4E's rules, but the setting and cosmology appeal to me, especially the fey and shadow lands.

My preference, thought I know it's not going to happen, would be to use some non-D&D fantasy books as the default setting. Some I would like to see:
  • Glen Cook's Black Company
  • Lord of the Rings
  • Cimmeria
  • Midkemia
  • Camelot

My own awesome homebrew, the Miraddin Empire is also available for enough money if anyone from WOTC happens to see this. :lol:
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Mishihari Lord

First Post
With that said, I think a game nowadays needs a default setting. In fact, I don't think it's possible to have a game without one. Even "generic fantasy" is a setting of sorts.


Agreed. D&D is it's own default setting. Unfortunately it's one I don't are for, and I'd love to see it replaced with something else. (The D&D-as-a-genre setting, not D&D itself)


First Post
If you are not experienced at worldbuilding, great! You don't have to be. Do a silly little adventure. Then do another one. Repeat as necessary. As the adventures happen, narrative cruft will accumulate. During this process, don't be afraid to listen to what your players are saying, and take their suggestions. When a sufficient mass of narrative cruft has accumulated... congratulate yourself, you have built a world.
This is how it's done. The DM and the players do whatever they're capable of. No need to the writers of the game to guess what that might be or futilely try to do it for them.


Voted for points of light, because that is a possibility but would really like to see some support for Birthright it was one of the best setting ever, and with the popularity of the Kingmaker adventure path for Pathfinder I think there would be a good number of people who would pick it up

I'm A Banana

I like the idea of the books not specifying a setting, but pointing at FR as an example of how you can make a setting.

The DMG needs to, in part, show you how to make your own setting.


Umm... this was true in neither 3e (dromites, illumians, catfolk, goliaths, samurai and ninja, oh my!) nor 4e (shardminds, wilden, runepriests and seekers, oh my!).

This is true, but its why 4e was mildly better than 3e in this regard.

Greyhawk (and now, even the Realms) has 20+ years of development behind it. There is very little left to explore, all things considered. The core of both worlds is very defined, and the edges of both maps are fairly known as well. Simply put, there is little room left to put new ideas in there. Surely, a new magical items, a forgotten spell, or a rare monster might still exist in some dark corner, but there really isn't room for whole new races without major status quo shakeups (see: dragonborn and 4e Realms). At least the Nentir Vale was one area of much larger and mostly undefined world. Its much easier to put Shardminds in some unknown corner of PoLland than it is to work Raptorans into Greyhawk...

the Jester

I think there does need to be an explicit default setting. You can't avoid having a default setting of some kind because just presenting the mechanics says a lot about the world you're going to be playing in.

But you CAN! BECMI, 1e, 2e, od&d- there was no default setting in any of them; in fact, the era of a default setting in the core rules has been shorter than the era of no-default-in-core. I'm tempted to call it an aberration.

Mishihari Lord

First Post
There were plenty of things in Basic and AD&D that I would consider default setting elements. Holmes Basic had an adventure in the back of the book, which IIRC had some details on the town. I think the AD&D DMG had something similar. The equipment list says a lot about the current state of technology. The artifact list in the AD&D DMG had a lot of setting. All of the names spells and magic items. The skill list says a lot about how the world works. The racial descriptions and class descriptions are a very important part of the setting, as are the monster descriptions. Sure, A DM can choose to include or exclude anything he wants, but the default assumption is that if it's in the book it's in the setting.

I have seen bare-bones systems without these elements, but I don't think that taking these things out would leave a satisfactory form of D&D.

Once I accepted that setting in the core could not easily be avoided, the question was "how much is appropriate?" My personal answer would be more than any previous D&D system, but less than Shadowrun.


I would like to point out that detailing one town doesn't necessarily describe a whole setting.

Likewise, though AD&D rule books used lots of names for magic items, spells, and artifacts, they were vague, evocative names. They were references to a setting, but that's all.

That's what I would like to see in DDN: references to settings, maybe even some sidebar examples, but that's it.

Li Shenron

I prefer no default setting, or a mix-n-mash of the material of many setting (which is almost equivalent).

If I absolutely had to pick one default setting, I'd probably go with Forgotten Realms, because it is a fairly standard and traditional D&D fantasy setting, and it is possibly the most popular already.

Epic Threats

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