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Dungeons & Dragons

The Lesser Known Settings of Dungeons & Dragons

He Who is Known to Some as Scott Wachter Says... Supporting unsuccessful settings was essentially what sank TSR and paved the way for Wizards of the Coast to acquire Dungeons & Dragons. A lot of these settings were nothing terribly special, just giving players a choice between French vanilla fantasy or vanilla hazelnut fantasy, and probably deserve to be left by the wayside. There are also a number of settings that had excellent ideas unfortunately not suited to the 2nd edition rule-set, or too far afield for the tastes of the typical D&D player at the time. Nearly all of these settings have received videogame adaptations in the past, but havenít really seen the light of day since the takeover by Wizards and its focus on Forgotten Realms, Greyhawk and its other new settings over TSRís back-catalogue. However, with 4th editionís attempt to revive all these old settings comes renewed hope to see these worlds on my TV screen.

With the revival of the Prince of Persia series weíve seen a lot games imitate their gameplay, but no one has imitated the Arabian Nights style of fantasy. Enter Al-Qadim, a sub-setting of Forgotten Realms with a name that, in light of recent events, is rather unfortunate. It's a game of sandstorms, jinn, warring caliphates, priests with elemental-based powers, and the power of fate. RPGamers havenít seen this feel in a game since a Gold Box game in 1994, maybe itís time for more.

Another game that features a lot of sand is the post-apocalyptic Dark Sun, a very gritty game in which characters were more likely to die of thirst than reach second level. What Iíd love to see from a new videogame version of this setting is something like Fallout: New Vegasí hardcore mode where the amount of food and water youíre carrying is as important as the number of health potions.

Ravenloft was an attempt to merge the horror genre with D&Dís gameplay, something that is very difficult to do at a gaming table, but it seems that SSIís videogame attempts have fared better, just by virtue of being to bring a scary mood and atmosphere through multi-media that a Game Master really canít do. That's without even mentioning the use of a bestiary thatís more Hammer Horror than Lord of the Rings, an excellent change of pace for the genre.

On paper Eberron is a game of high-flying pulp action in a dungeonpunk setting full of crazy things that arenít your typical D&D experience. And all weíve gotten for it was an RTS and MMO, neither of which can really capture that sort of feel that setting was written for. As much as I dislike vanilla fantasy RPGs, I hate unfaithful adaptations even more. What Eberron needs is an action RPG with crazy over-the-top setpieces, repelling boarders of airships, leaping between cars of a train, dodging traps in long lost ruins, not gathering resources and waiting for troops to spawn or sitting in an LFG chat waiting for a cleric so you can run the same dungeon for the 5th time.

Can a new game happen?

Series Highlights

More likely as WOTC's setting per year initiative carries on

SSI's 'gold box' series

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