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D&D 5E WotC: 5 D&D Settings In Development?

WotC's Ray Winninger spoke a little about some upcoming D&D settings -- two classic settings are coming in 2022 in formats we haven't seen before, and two brand new (not Magic: the Gathering) settings are also in development, as well as return to a setting they've already covered in 5E. He does note, however, that of the last three, there's a chance of one or more not making it to release, as they develop more than they use.

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Two classic settings? What could they be?

So that's:
  • 2 classic settings in 2022 (in a brand new format)
  • 2 brand new settings
  • 1 returning setting
So the big questions -- what are the two classic settings, and what do they mean by a format we haven't seen before? Winninger has clarified on Twitter that "Each of these products is pursuing a different format you've never seen before. And neither is "digital only;" these are new print formats."

As I've mentioned on a couple of occasions, there are two more products that revive "classic" settings in production right now.

The manuscript for the first, overseen by [Chris Perkins], is nearly complete. Work on the second, led by [F. Wesley Schneider] with an assist from [Ari Levitch], is just ramping up in earnest. Both are targeting 2022 and formats you've never seen before.

In addition to these two titles, we have two brand new [D&D] settings in early development, as well as a return to a setting we've already covered. (No, these are not M:tG worlds.)

As I mentioned in the dev blog, we develop more material than we publish, so it's possible one or more of these last three won't reach production. But as of right now, they're all looking great.


Of course the phrase "two more products that revive 'classic' settings" could be interpreted in different ways. It might not be two individual setting books.
 
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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey

ZeshinX

Adventurer
I never did understand the appeal of Dark Sun or Planescape. Not to say it shouldn't appeal, merely I never could understand the absolute devotion a lot of fans had (and still have) for them.

Dark Sun - Originally (2e), you had to come to the table with two fully made characters (usually played one at a time) that had to start at 3rd level to even have a chance of at least short-term survival, and expect one or both to die at some point...seriously. That told me enough to stop reading and never bother with it.

Planescape - A setting so bizarre and weird it's not really meant to be understood by the mortal mind...yet it attempts to be understood. Just...too weird for me lol (but, this one I get having appeal far more than Dark Sun, as Planescape could offer a means to go from one setting to another...mostly...I think...or was that Spelljammer?...whatever lol).

If any fan of Planescape and/or Dark Sun would be interested in offering what appeals so deeply about those settings, feel free to DM me, as I'm certainly curious (not in a condescending way, I really would love to hear what people love about them so much).
 

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I've got the Complete books, all the Planescape and all the Dark Sun books from that list on my shelf right now and I reckon they still hold up, and I'm sure others would speak up for the Mystara and Ravenloft books. Admittedly, there was an awful lot of junk, but, as others have said, there was also too much good/great/fantastic stuff - I tried my darnedest at the time, but with so many lines, even hard-core fans couldn't afford to buy everything. And putting out so much stuff, especially some on buy-back contracts, TSR needed everyone to buy pretty much all of it to make any kind of profit.

edited to reflect the fact at least some of the material wasn't on buy-back contract
Volo's Guide to the Sword Coast is as amazing and useful as the rest of the Volo's Guides, and still a go-to when running that region. Elves of Evermeet is pretty useful for FR elf lore. Cormyr is good as it was the first time the region was given in-depth coverage on its own. City of Splendors, however, was just a re-hash of previous Waterdeep info, just in a boxed set...
 

Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
I never did understand the appeal of Dark Sun or Planescape. Not to say it shouldn't appeal, merely I never could understand the absolute devotion a lot of fans had (and still have) for them.

Dark Sun - Originally (2e), you had to come to the table with two fully made characters (usually played one at a time) that had to start at 3rd level to even have a chance of at least short-term survival, and expect one or both to die at some point...seriously. That told me enough to stop reading and never bother with it.

Planescape - A setting so bizarre and weird it's not really meant to be understood by the mortal mind...yet it attempts to be understood. Just...too weird for me lol (but, this one I get having appeal far more than Dark Sun, as Planescape could offer a means to go from one setting to another...mostly...I think...or was that Spelljammer?...whatever lol).

If any fan of Planescape and/or Dark Sun would be interested in offering what appeals so deeply about those settings, feel free to DM me, as I'm certainly curious (not in a condescending way, I really would love to hear what people love about them so much).
So for dark sun... There are a lot of people who like the absolute murder death kill of it. The more difficult enemies, the brutal conditions of the environment, Even the player character churn. I actually never played it that way.

Oh I still had players start off at higher levels and use the dark sun stat generation method, but I wasn't as brutal with the setting as DMs are supposed to be.

I was very brutal with the environment, I would buy bags of those little glass beads that you put in the bottom of a fish tank and hand them out to people to physically represent their water.

And every day that they adventured I would take multiple tokens from them to show them how close they were getting to being out of water at any given time. I would even have enemies specifically trying to take their water rather than kill them. With the idea that the desert would kill them as long as they didn't have water.

Mostly this wound up leading to a tense game of survival. And there were occasionally times where party in fighting occurred because some player was hiding their water tokens in order to make sure the rest of the party didn't know how much water they had. Like they had five water tokens visible and two or three that were under their elbow or hidden behind a bag of chips.

It created a very different environment from standard dungeons and dragons at the time. Both in player character interaction, and in the sort of stories I felt more free to tell. Where most of the NPCs were either hostile or outright afraid of the player characters. Even though the players were often good people, or neutral people at worst, it helped to foster a sense of distrust.

Which made all sorts of political intrigues and narrative flourishes into something more powerful than they otherwise might have been.

And I will always love the setting because of that.

I just never did the heavily one-sided battle smush that some people loved to do with that system. My characters and players were still heroic, it was just heroic in a very different setting in a very different style. More Conan the Barbarian less Galahad.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
As much as I’d prefer the revisit setting to be Exandria, I’d be utterly shocked if it’s not Forgotten Realms. With the revamp of the drow lineages, and the “summer of Drizzt” stuff, it makes sense that they’d do a Drizzt and/or FR themed book. Considering recent book naming conventions, it’ll probably be call something like “Drizzt’s Guide to the Forgotten Realms”.
 

I never did understand the appeal of Dark Sun or Planescape. Not to say it shouldn't appeal, merely I never could understand the absolute devotion a lot of fans had (and still have) for them.

Dark Sun - Originally (2e), you had to come to the table with two fully made characters (usually played one at a time) that had to start at 3rd level to even have a chance of at least short-term survival, and expect one or both to die at some point...seriously. That told me enough to stop reading and never bother with it.
The main thing I liked about Dark Sun was that it was very different from regular D&D. The known world was mostly desert, to the point where they had to differentiate different types of desert from one another (and Rocky Badlands would make an awesome character name). All the races were either different or gone. Elves were nomads who either lived off of herding kanks (giant insects who produced honey) or raiding. Halflings lived in the jungle beyond the mountains, and had anime hair and ate people. Dwarves... OK, dwarves were kinda dull. In addition you had insectoid thri-kreen, ginormous half-giants, and super badass mul (sterile half-dwarves). There were no gods, and clerics drew power through pacts with the elements. Arcane magic was rare, and psionics were common.

I will admit though, that the munchkin/powergaming aspect of it was a big part of why I thought it was awesome.

A lot of what I liked about Dark Sun is also what I like about Eberron, although in a different way. It has a new twist on most of the races, although not as radical as Dark Sun (but dino-riding halflings are actually even cooler than man-eating halflings). Its gods are, if not absent, at least far removed from the actual action, meaning that people are the ones driving the plots. And there are psionics if you want them, although not as front-and-center as in Dark Sun.
 

Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
Yes! Psionics!

I also loved Dark Sun for having psionics as a core function of the setting rather than something that was sort of tacked on. Making that a core part of the identity of the setting made it so different for me from anywhere else. Sorcerers and wizards are commonplace in most settings and rare on Athas, largely replaced by psionicists.

I loved that so much!

Crazy races, psionics, focus on survival, dark fantasy aesthetic, plus stronger and more dangerous monsters? Loved it to pieces.
 

Faolyn

Hero
I never did understand the appeal of Dark Sun or Planescape. Not to say it shouldn't appeal, merely I never could understand the absolute devotion a lot of fans had (and still have) for them.
They're very different from typical D&D, for the most part, so they were a breath of fresh air. Dark Sun (which I haven't actually played) offered a much harsher world to explore that allowed people to enjoy a post-apocalypse survival-style of game. Planescape is weird and fanciful and very evocative, and because so much of it is the product of the mind, you can go places that defy reality. Plus, who doesn't want to tour the afterlife and meet gods?

Planescape - A setting so bizarre and weird it's not really meant to be understood by the mortal mind...yet it attempts to be understood. Just...too weird for me lol (but, this one I get having appeal far more than Dark Sun, as Planescape could offer a means to go from one setting to another...mostly...I think...or was that Spelljammer?...whatever lol).
You can go to another setting in Planescape, but that's not really the main purpose.

Planescape is very much a kitchen sink setting, but there's actually a reason for that. Most kitchen sink worlds are such because the DM and players just want to include everything because it's cool and/or don't really want to take the time to figure out what does or doesn't fit in any particular world. With Planescape, you can find anything because you literally have the entire multiverse to look through.

And trying to understand the non-understandable is part of the appeal.
 

Faolyn

Hero
Another thought on what old classic setting they could be going for. They recently did something with the three types of drow. What if they're going for a new Drow of the Underdark/Menzoberranzan book?
 



ZeshinX

Adventurer
Yes! Psionics!

I also loved Dark Sun for having psionics as a core function of the setting rather than something that was sort of tacked on. Making that a core part of the identity of the setting made it so different for me from anywhere else. Sorcerers and wizards are commonplace in most settings and rare on Athas, largely replaced by psionicists.

I loved that so much!

Crazy races, psionics, focus on survival, dark fantasy aesthetic, plus stronger and more dangerous monsters? Loved it to pieces.
It was psionics that drew me to investigating Dark Sun when I heard they were a big part of it, as I've always enjoyed psionics (despite them always feeling poorly tacked on systems, for the most part). Once I read more about it (the setting), I quickly decided it not worth it lol. I do still hope we get some official, in print, psionics in 5e, even if they end up just being magic with another name or just the odd subclass (those would be disappointing, but still welcome).

Still, the various reasons that have been presented make a great deal of sense to me, even though I do not share the sentiments about those settings. Thanks to those who answered (and may yet answer). :)
 

Kurotowa

Legend
Hmmm... "neither is 'digital only'" does not preclude partially digital products.
If you're curious about what WotC digital releases will involve, there's a new survey out you should take. For no reason. Just that it might give you some important context. There's a thread about it you can check out too.
 







Knightfall

World of Kulan DM
Are there any classic settings that never had a boxed set? I know TSR was obsessed with them, so likely the answer is no.
Blackmoor
The setting of Chainmail (on Greyhawk)
Jakandor
Lost World of Chanak
Thunder Rift
The implied setting of Bastion of Faith, College of Wizardry, and Den of Thieves.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
Where is the idea of the Domains of Delight coming from?
There is a reference on the back cover of Witchlight to the higher level Fey realm being a "domain of delight." People are reading the tealeaves that WotC might be setting up a Fey Setting that is like Ravenloft, but instead of Domains of Dread with Werewolves & Vampires, there are Domains of Drlight with Archfey & such.
 

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