With 2021 looming and at least three classic D&D settings in the works, the question remains, which ones, and when? Here’s what we know so far.
It’s a new year, and controversy or no controversy, the years continue to perform their terrible dance. And, just as an aside here, if you’re familiar with that line from the Muppet Christmas Carol, did you know it’s a Gonzo original? Yeah, my whole life I thought it was Dickens, masterfully delivered through the expert performance of Gonzo the Great as Charles Dickens in the greatest Muppet Movie of all time. But, it turns out, that’s pure Muppet Goodness.
Yeah, I know. My mind is blown too. Where’s a jpeg of that guy from Scanners?
Anyway, the years are performing their terrible dance, which means that it’ll soon be time for WotC to announce their next few books. And while Amazon seems to have figured out how to keep from inadvertently leaking the details of the next book the weekend before D&D/WotC deliver the official details, there’s still every chance we’ll get a look from some other publishing website ahead of the day.
Now traditionally, WotC releases the first of their ‘main’ books around the end of February or beginning of March. In 2019, Ghosts of Saltmarsh was announced in the last week of February. Last year was a little different, because we had both the Mythic Odysseys of Theros at the usual time, plus the Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount. Which was two setting books in the first half of the year.
With three on the horizon, it’s entirely possible we’ll see two more. Let’s take a look at the panel again, wherein Ray Winninger, the new Executive Producer of D&D spoke about what’s next for D&D.
According to Winninger, WotC is approaching 2021 with “a renewed emphasis on settings,” which you can already see in the works with the last few books that they’ve released. Focusing on settings doesn’t mean just getting a new world to adventure in. Both of last year’s ‘setting books’ featured new rules for players and DMs to play around with, whether introducing new spells, subclasses, races, or more.
In particular, Theros took on interacting with the gods, while Wildemount introduced a whole new school of magic to the game. And according to Winninger, the WotC team wants to focus especially on stretching the bounds of D&D, giving players and DMs more locations to set their own adventures in. It’s a response to significant fan feedback, Winninger said, going on to confirm that three of the old D&D setting are going to be coming back.
This feels like something 5th Edition players have been clamoring for since 5th Edition released (or at the very least, since Curse of Strahd brought Ravenloft back into the forefront. But recent news seems to lend a great deal of credence to a return to Krynn…
If you missed the news, late last year, Dragonlance creators Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman brought one of two lawsuits against Wizards of the Coast for an alleged breach of contract. But just a few weeks ago, the lawsuit was dismissed without prejudice, implying that the two parties had reached an agreement.
The hasty response led many to believe that the planned trilogy of novels was but one approach to WotC’s plans for Dragonlance, and that we might be seeing a Krynn sourcebook for 5th Edition, which Dragonlance’s most ardent fans (hi Jenn), have been clamoring for since the beginning of 5th Edition as a playtest document.
There are other popular candidates as well, notably the world of Athas, aka Dark Sun:
Dark Sun is a setting like no other D&D world. It’s fantasy, but it’s post-apocalyptic fantasy, taking place on a blasted desert world under the light of an old sun. It’s a world where magic has drained the life out of the land, and–the reason that Dark Sun might be especially relevant–it’s a world with a strong connection to Psionics. WotC have, in the past, stated that they’d never start work on Psionics unless they had a strong “in-universe” reason for doing so, and that they’d need to find “a place to really focus on Psionics.”
Or perhaps something a little more sci-fi in your fantasy with something Spelljammer related…
Well Spelljammer or Planescape. In fact, I could even see folding the two together. Planescape is a strong contender because the adventures have been getting more and more bold about crossing planar boundaries and tackling cosmic stuff at low levels. The original Planescape campaign was all about interplanar travel, eight o’clock, day one. And Spelljammer pulls a strong ranking as well because so much of it is already in the book. There are Mind Flayers with Laser Pistols, Spelljamming Ships, and all sorts of relics from Spelljammer sprinkled throughout the book.
Though this could just be WotC’s way of adding that setting, since it’s a way to connect settings as much as it is a setting unto itself.
Finally there’s Greyhawk. If you look at the last few releases, figures from Greyhawk’s lore are making a big comeback. First you had Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes, which preceded Baldur’s Gate: Descent into Avernus. It introduced higher level monsters alongside all sorts of planar-themed plots, all perfect for the book’s central figure, Mordenkainen. And now, Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything revolves around Tasha, who would one day become Iggwilv, another powerful figure in Greyhawk’s lore.
Either way, we’ll have to wait for things to be confirmed, but those are our best guesses. Be sure and let us know about yours in the comments.
Be on the look out for more news as the year winds on–but in the meantime, what settings do YOU think they’ll bring back?