Two Of D&D’s Greatest Campaign Settings Are Coming Out Of Retirement

Two Of D&D’s Greatest Campaign Settings Are Coming Out Of Retirement
Image: Justin Gerard, Wizards of the Coast

After years of pleading from the community, Spelljammer and Dragonlance, two of the most popular campaign settings for Dungeons & Dragons, are back.

During its first-ever D&D Direct broadcast this morning, Wizards of the Coast announced the return of the two beloved settings, among a raft of other announcements. There were announcements about movie titles (Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves coming to theatres), and even an update from Larian on Baldur’s Gate 3. But it was Spelljammer that ruled the day, a setting from the late eighties that has proven legendarily popular among the D&D community, that ruled the day.

Spelljammer: Adventures in Space

Spelljammer is a science fantasy setting that allows dungeon masters to set their adventures in space. The setting has remained popular for over 30 years, first debuting in 2nd Edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. People love this setting for all its ’80s era camp and sci-fi tropes, but also because it is unique in the D&D pantheon. Where almost all of D&D’s other settings lean into high fantasy to one extent or another, Spelljammer was the game’s only setting that appealed to science fiction fans as well.

Spelljammer: Adventures in Space is a set of three campaign guides for D&D’s 5th Edition ruleset. The Astral Adventurer’s Guide is a self-contained campaign guide that lays out the lore and key characters within the Spelljammer setting. This book also contains information for players, including a total of six new playable race options across elves, humans, robotic gnomes, insectoids, gith, and even sentient ooze.

Boo’s Astral Menagerie serves as a spacefaring Monster Manual, full of bizarre creatures and characters for dungeon masters to use in their campaigns. Boo, of course, is a well-known name in gaming circles. The miniature giant space hamster made his video game debut in the original Baldur’s Gate with his best buddy, the barbarian Minsk, and has been a fan favourite ever since.

Finally, The Light of Xaryzis is the first official 5th Edition Spelljammer adventure, taking players into the depths of Wildspace and the Astral Sea. Each chapter of this adventure constitutes an “episode” and will end on a cliffhanger, allowing DMs to ratchet tension and excitement for the next session. All three books will be sold as a set, including a special Dungeon Master’s Screen, in August.

The thrust of WotC’s pitch is “Treasure Planet, but make it D&D”, which I can absolutely get down with. Of course, using the Astral Adventurer’s Guide, dungeon masters can tweak their Spelljammer adventures to suit their own personal tastes, or that of their party. Put the party on the Enterprise if you’re so inclined, it’s your game.

Dragonlance returns

Dragonlance is a classic high-fantasy campaign setting made immensely popular in the 80s thanks to a series of novels set within its world. Despite being a setting that still has a massive influence on the game today, Dragonlance setting hasn’t had an official D&D campaign guide since 2003. That version of the setting was built for D&D‘s revised 3rd Edition (or 3.5e) ruleset. After that, Wizards turned the rights to the setting over to its primary creative team, Tracy Hickman and Margaret Weis. Weis’ publisher Sovereign Press has served as Dragonlance‘s custodian ever since.

Unveiled during D&D Direct was a brand new adventure book, Dragonlance: Shadow of the Dragon Queen, an adventure module that takes place during the War of the Lance. It becomes the first official D&D Dragonlance module in almost 20 years. Beyond a simple teaser, Wizards didn’t have much else to say about this one beyond a release window: December 2022. Nevertheless, long-time Dragonlance fans can rest easy knowing that their favourite setting is back in 5th Edition.

Comments

  • Spelljammer did get an oddity of a CRPG by SSI. But besides that and some comics, I never really got much of an impression of it being popular. Not compared to Dragonlance and Forgotten Realms, at least until the constant fumbling of the Dragonlance setting led to it being dropped.

    Going back to the War of the Lance seems like a good idea for Dragonlance since that was the best time for the setting.

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