Resources For Every GM: Settings Part 4
We are going to continue the road of inspiration for today’s Resources article. Instead of classic D&D entities I want to share some settings from throughout the ages of Dungeons & Dragons. Each of these I love for different reasons. If you haven’t had a chance to play any of these you might still want to look into them. There are all kinds of inspiration you can take from those settings for your own and hopefully my brief mentions will get you excited by the prospects of new ideas.
I absolutely love Darksun and there are so many reasons to do so. There are things about Darksun which makes it stand out from other fantasy settings and all sorts of things to discover about the world. To give a quick rundown, this world has no divine magic as the pantheons have abandoned it and arcane magic has resulted in the world becoming a vast desert. You see, arcane magic here relies on drawing energy from living things, making it a huge point of lore but also a difficult decision for those who want to practice it. Then there is a level of elementalism and a whole lot of psionic powers which have developed on Athas. If that wasn’t enough, the cities which house civilization are controlled by great, powerful dragons. Exploring Darksun means you will come across a lot of new things, but the most inspiring of all are those which are familiar. Things like elves, dwarfs, and halflings all exist but they are not what you might expect. Imagine elves sprinting across the open desert to ambush your caravan and the worth of water being greater than gold. Darksun provides great ways of exploring things that may be overly familiar or predictable to you.
A setting which I haven’t seen nearly enough of, but fits my aesthetic greatly is Eberron. In this universe things are a lot more familiar than those you find in Darksun. Nevertheless, there are tons of ways to be inspired and plenty of surprises in what you might find. The history of the world includes a great deal of less common monsters, like rakshasa, as key figures. Not only that but there is a dream realm, nightmarish aberrant creatures, and some people have dragonmarks that grant them special powers. The biggest draw, for me, is the scientifically advanced, magicpunk style: alchemists, artificers, a race of construct people, and airships that are powered by elementals. If this is your kind of style, Eberron is definitely worth the look into for inspiration and ideas. Even if it isn’t there are plenty of new things for your D&D game to be found.
If the wild technologies of Eberron isn’t your style then Spelljammer might not be for you. Unless of course you want even crazier stories and some more excuses to explore the multiverse. This setting is one which includes, in a way, all the other D&D settings. The setting’s name comes from the Spelljammer helms, which are crazy spaceships used to magically travel between worlds. That’s right we have made it to space! Except, of course, that space isn’t quite the same as you might expect. These ships vary in design from flying naval ships to nautiloid shaped illithid vessels. Honestly, its pretty great. Aside from these are tons of great monsters that inhabit space, gith pirates, and a plethora of other crazy things. I mean…giant space hamsters! Unlike the other two settings, this one is more difficult to find information on as there haven’t been any updates or printings in a while. Still there are books out there to be had and fan-sites with tons of lore. Definitely worth looking into folks!