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D&D General What's your favorite starter sandbox region?

Underrated, imo. Shadowdale and the Dalelands don't get a ton of love because it is quintessential Realms and thus attracts a certain amount of grognard hate and young 'un indifference. But you really get a lot within the extended region you describe - plus Anauroch not far off.

I almost said Anauroch and the Stonelands. Sembia too was always meant to be minimally detailed so the DM could expand it. Always wanted to see Sembia expanded on. The Stormweather novels were good.

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Tyler Do'Urden

Soap Maker
Of course, if you're looking for cities... I'm partial to Zobeck, and the Zobeck Gazeteer and Streets of Zobeck books give plenty of adventure ideas (and several complete adventures).

(Think Greyhawk or Lankhmar... only given a clockpunk and vaguely Czech makeover.)


Getting lost in fantasy maps
I’ve been partial to Karameikos, Shadowdale, and Highfolk/Vesve Forest. I’ve ran campaigns in them each. They all seem to even have a lot of similarities, now that I think about them.

A frontier feel.
Nearby mountains.
Vast forests.
Connection to a lawful kingdom’s seat of power.

The tavern in an unusally well equipped small village near a ruined crypt
Or the comfortable inn of a fortified hamlet near a dark forest.
The marketplace in a charming fishing town near a haunted island.
The lecture hall of a university near an entrance to Hell.
The knights room in a forlorn castle near a doomed city.
The agora of a lush city-state near the ruins of an evil nation.
The trophy room of a thieves guild's headquarter near an underground maze.

Greyhawk city, Hommlet, and Furyondy. If I am in the FR, then I'd go with Shadowdale and my little village of Blackfeather Bridge. Otherwise, just about any place can work.


I often run modules so that is a big influence on my starting settings. I have started in the town of Ravengro in Paizo's Ustalav country of Golarion for the Carrion Crown, the small Taldan town of Heldren in Paizo's Reign of Winter, and The Pirate's Guide to Freeport for the Freeport Trilogy. I created my own little forest/jungle dover (dog person) village home base with nearby elf and goblin communities when running an Oathbound Wildwood game with treant, black dragon, and nomadic gnoll elements baked in plus adventure module sites.

Cities can be great for most any level of adventure in general.


Forgotten Realms Silverymoon area (preference for pre-Silver March Confederacy era).

Nice mix of elves, dwarves, northerner humans, and southerner humans, and of civilisation, wilderness, intrigue, and war. Many character concepts and background can originate from there without heavily relying on a big cosmopolitan city.


I never knew steampunk used steam to power things and clockpunk is gear driven?
Even when no steam is involved, steampunk tends to lean on a Victorian/first industrial revolution (aka steam power) era themes and aesthetics. Clockpunk is often set in a pre-industrial and pre-colonial era with baroque to Napoleonic/Habsburg dynasty themes and aesthetics, early firearm technology, using smaller clockwork automation and automatons.

But yeah, one is a subgenre of the other, so differences can be subtle.

I enjoy relatively small, undeveloped areas. Rift Valley and Isle of the Unknown really scratch my itch.



Seeing some love for Karameikos, which I’ve just found in my attic despite not remembering ever buying it - what in particular works about it? (I was about to list it on eBay but might hold off!)


David Jose
I don't mean entire world, but a relatively self-contained region that's purpose is to be the starter region for a new campaign. Ideally it would involve numerous adventuring opportunities that wouldn't run out after a few levels, have countless locations to explore, interacting factions, at least a settlement or two, etc. You know, the type of region that you spend the first 5-10 levels in, and then either shift to the Underdark (or equivalent), the larger world, the planes, etc. Nentir Vale is a good example, or the Dale Lands in FR.

What is your favorite and why? Feel free to post maps and links, if it is not well-known product or if you have a wiki of your own.

Each of my favorite campaigns have started in a different places, but I think Ptolus and the Scarred Lands City of Mithril are near the top of the list. My favorite region that I've never had a chance to run in is the city of Hollowfaust, also in the Scarred Lands. A gothic, faux-Germanic, city of necromancers, built in the caldera of a dormant volcano, lead by a council of practically communist liches

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