The fifth edition of Dungeons & Dragons has many official campaign settings filled with vivid world-building details, character dossiers, and special rules Dungeon Masters can use to challenge their players in new ways, and yet some of the most interesting worlds for Dungeons & Dragons 5e have been made by developers outside the aegis of Wizards of the Coast. Several third-party game studios such as Darrington Press and Onyx Path have designed campaign setting sourcebooks compatible with the 5e ruleset, immersing players in worlds inspired by Greek Mythology, Afrofantasy fiction, the homebrew settings of tabletop livestreams, and more.
Wizards of the Coast, who inherited the Dungeons & Dragons franchise from the now defunct Tactical Studies Rules, currently publishes several official fantasy campaign settings for D&D, each themed around a certain type of fantasy storytelling. The Forgotten Realms setting, for instance, is centered around classical stories of heroic fantasy, while Ravenloft is steeped in tropes of Gothic Horror and the Eberron setting is a “Dungeonpunk” world of pulp adventure and technology powered by magic.
To encourage other game studios to create content for Dungeons & Dragons, Wizards of the Coast has published a System Reference Document for the 5th edition rules third-party developers can use to create their own D&D content under the Open Gaming License. A number of independent game designers have used this SRD to create 5e compatible campaign settings that expand on the sorts of stories players of Dungeons & Dragons can create; worlds inspired by different cultural mythologies, new race/class options, and new NPCs players can interact with.
The D&D campaign setting called Scarred Lands, designed by Onyx Path Publishing, takes place in the world of Scarn, a wounded land recovering from a cataclysmic divine war between gods and primordial Titans, a place where civilizations rebuild, Titanspawn seek out new purposes beyond the war they were created to fight, and wandering heroes try to right the wrongs of the world with blade, magic, guile, and charm. The antiquity-flavored setting of Scarred Lands offers players new race options (the serpentine Asaatthi, the ghostly Hollow Legionaries, etc.) as well as new subclasses appropriate for adventuring in the world of Scarn.
Like Scarred Lands, Odyssey of the Dragonlords, made by the lead designer of Baldur’s Gate 1 & 2 and funded last year on Kickstarter, take places in a fantasy continent heavily inspired by Greek and Roman mythology and threatened by primordial Titans. Besides introducing new cultures and character backgrounds inspired by the civilizations of ancient Greece, along with new PC race options modeled after mythical Centaurs and Satyrs, Odyssey of the Dragonlords also makes oaths – and the challenges of keeping them – a central part of the game’s setting. The deities of Thylea smile on heroes who keep their promises, and send Furies to harry and punish oath-breakers.
Critical Role, one of the most famous and long-running tabletop livestreams of Dungeons & Dragons, takes places in the constructed world of Exandria. The Explorer’s Guide To Wildemount, published by Wizards of the Coast in collaboration with voice actor and Dungeon Master Matthew Mercer, is a sourcebook describing the main setting and supporting characters of Critical Role Season 2, while the Tal’Dorei Campaign Setting sourcebook, soon to be republished by Darrington Press, describes the setting and iconic NPCs that appeared Critical Role Season 1. These sourcebooks together also offer players new characters classes such as the “Blood Hunter,” along with rules for new subclasses and a school of space-time magic called “Dunamancy.”
The Wagadu Chronicles is an under-development MMORPG steeped in the visuals and tropes of Afrofantasy fiction. To promote the setting and player-generated narrative core to its MMO’s premise, the developers of The Wagadu Chronicles have written up a 300-page lore book for their setting compatible with Dungeons & Dragons fifth edition, available for free on its website for anyone who subscribes to its newsletter. This lore book replaces the race options of D&D with lineages designed to express a character’s culture and identity rather than race while also giving players new class options, artifacts, spells, and character backgrounds inspired by the stories and histories of precolonial Africa.