Lore Friday - Eberron is a game setting published in 2004 as a result of a contest by Wizards of the Coast to solicit "the most creative new setting" from fans. Keith Baker is the writer and developer of the setting, which replaces traditional fantasy tropes with steampunk influences and semi-modern technologies powered by magic. Among these are steam trains (powered by elementals), airships (powered by elementals and magical alchemical processes), and robots (powered by magic). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dungeons_%26_Dragons_campaign_settings#Eberron
Lore Friday - O1 - The Gem and the Staff This is a Basic (1st Edition) D&D Module that was produced as a competition module for thieves. Your peaceful evening has been interrupted by an unusual request. As a thief, your skills are unmatched, but can you rise to the challenge of thieving for a powerful and frightening wizard? Do you have a choice?
The Gem and the Staff is a special One-on-One competition adventure designed for one player and one Dungeon Master; the module contains two separate scenarios, so you can switch roles after the first adventure. Scoring sheets and encounter summaries are provided for each adventure to make running competitions quick and simple. Character figures and a map book are also provided to help visualize the adventures. The player's maps are designed so you can see the rooms as they would appear. Complete DM's maps are also included. This is a One-on-One Competition Module for Thieves, Level 8. https://www.dmsguild.com/product/17085/O1-The-Gem-and-the-Staff-Basic?filters=0_0_45393_0_0_0_0_0
Lore Friday - The Day of Al'Akbar is a 1st Edition D&D adventure published for moderate levels (the cover specifies 6 - 8 characters ranging between levels 8 - 10. This adventure, published in 1986, has an Arabic influence and features a desert setting. This would be great for dropping into any campaign where the story arc takes the characters to a desert region, and elements from this can be used to help DMs create a desert kingdom or civilization in terms of some flavor notes and aspects.
The introductory notes say: "The land of Arir - a once peaceful desert country, dotted with oases, teeming with caravans - fell into the hand of infidels. The ruler, the dearly loved Sultan Amhara, was killed in the battle for the capital city of Khaibar. He left behind one of the greatest treasure stores ever amassed - jewels and coins, more than anyone had ever seen before or since - and in addition, the Cup and Talisman of Al'Akbar.
A deadly plague sweeps your land. The holy men say that if only they had the Talisman, they could create cures for this dread disease. Many adventurers have tries and failed to find the Cup and Talisman. Now it is your turn. Find these treasures, and save your people!
The journey is exciting, but treacherous. Do not be distracted by exotic sights and sounds, the strange foods.
You must avoid being discovered by Al'Farzikh and his brigands, as you infiltrate the palace. Be wary - what is most beautiful may be most deadly, and what seems useless may be priceless." https://www.dmsguild.com/product/17053/I9-Day-of-AlAkbar-1e?filters=0_0_45393_0_0_45346_0_0
Lore Friday - Ghostwalk from 3rd Edition D&D. This setting had only a single published book called Ghostwalk, and it detailed one primary city called Manifest, which was a mausoleum city built over a geological formation called the Veil of Souls. This veil was where souls would depart to the True Afterlife, but in and around the proximity of Manifest, ghosts could cross the barrier between the living world and the afterlife in order to interact with loved ones they had left behind. This resource could easily be used in a campaign that delves into the Shadowfell or other negative material plane where undeath is the norm. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghostwalk
Lore Friday - From the Forgotten Realms campaign setting is Maztica. This is a continent on Abeir-Toril that was introduced in 2nd Edition D&D and was populated by monsters and peoples that were heavily influenced by Pre-Coloumbian Central and South American cultures and folklore. By 4th Edition, Maztica was no longer on Toril and it was entirely located on Abeir. The original geography had placed it south of Anchorome and north of an unknown continent. By the time 5e D&D geography started being published, Maztica was back on Toril in its original 2nd edition location. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abeir-Toril#Maztica
Lore Friday - Rokugan - Rokugan was the sample setting for the Oriental Adventures official sourcebooks from Wizards of the Coast (in 2nd and 3rd Edition). Originally the setting had been used in the Legend of the Five Rings CCG that was published by another publisher. Then in the mid 1990s, Wizards of the Coast acquired the rights to the setting. Then in the early 2000s, the original copyright holder got the rights back, and for several years they published several d20-based Oriental Adventures campaign books to supplement the setting that Wizards of the Coast had created for D&D.
Lore for Friday - Jakandor was a 2nd Edition D&D setting that was an island pitting schools of wizards against tribes of barbarians, who each believe they are destined to destroy the other. The adventures in Jakandor, Land of Legend are a wide mixture of styles. Some are episodic encounter-based stories, where character go from one scene to the other, and others are location-based delves. Timed events occur in many of the adventures at specific dates. There's even a small-scale wargame, depicting a fight between the two peoples' constructs. https://www.dmsguild.com/product/204202/Jakandor-Land-of-Legend-2e
Lore for Friday - The Masque of the Red Death was a spinoff setting for D&D that was inspired by the original Ravenloft. This setting was published for 2nd Edition in 1994 and is located in a low-magic 1890s Earth-like world where fantasy creatures only exist in the margins and the shadows. The setting was named after the Edgar Allen Poe short story of the same name. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masque_of_the_Red_Death_(Ravenloft)
Lore for Friday - The Nentir Vale - this is the default setting for D&D 4e. https://tahlequahpointsoflight.fandom.com/wiki/Nentir_Vale In 5e the cosmology of this setting is referred to as "the Gods of the Dawns War." Notably, this is also the setting for the first couple of sessions of the original Acquisitions Incorporated podcast with Chris Perkins as DM and the boys of Penny Arcade as the players. Winterhaven is the town where they start, and there are references to events happening as far away as Hammerfast.
Lore for Friday - Planescape: this setting crosses the known planes of existence and features a primarily Victorian-era setting with Steampunk overtones and design.
Lore for Friday - From Lankhmar - The World of Nehwon. Nehwon is the world of the setting for Lankhmar. It is based on the fictional world of the same name created by Fritz Leiber in his Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser stories. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nehwon
In addition to being a setting for a series of fictional detective stories, this world was developed by the D&D team as a setting for the game back in the day. Additionally, because considerable effort to map the world and name geographic locations and cities has been undertaken, it makes a nice setting (using the existing names or new ones) for a homebrew campaign.
Lore for Friday - From Spelljammer - Crystal Spheres. These are crystal shells which contain entire planetary systems. They protect the planetary system from Wildspace, and spelljamming ships must pass through portals set in the walls to travel between systems. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spelljammer#Crystal_spheres
Lore for Friday - From Pelinore - The Gladiator's Rest is a bar where gladiators who survive the arena gather for a drink after fights and to mix with their fans. The manager is the former owner, who had both his property and his wife stolen from him by the current owner. The bar is located in The Arena District of The City League.
Pelinore is a game setting that came out of TSR’s UK office and was detailed in a monthly magazine over the course of a year or two. The link is to a site called the Bell of Lost Souls where they discuss the history of this word and its publication information from the mid 1980s. Interesting stuff, and definitely useful for mining for your homebrew campaigns.
Lore for Friday - From Ravenloft - The Chimes of l'Morai. The Chimes of l'Morai call the citizens of the City of l'Morai when a trial is about to occur. http://www.fraternityofshadows.com/wiki/Chimes_of_l%27Morai
Lore for Friday - Psionics from the Dark Sun campaign https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dark_Sun#Psionics
Dark Sun was one of those rare D&D settings where all magic was considered evil. Casters of all kinds were shunned or exiled or killed. But psionics (spell-like powers that spring from the psionicist’s mind) are revered, accepted, and lauded in the society. So it’s basically just magic by another name. Psionics are also very common in the Dark Sun setting—apparently like being force sensitive is common in the Star Wars universe, as the final scene in The Last Jedi showed us, as the stable boy used the force to pick up his broom and start sweeping out the stalls.
Lore for Friday - Hollow World Campaign Setting from Mystara https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hollow_World_Campaign_Set
Hollow World was a boxed set released in 1990, which would put it in the 2e time frame (ca. 1989 - 2000). There’s very little information about this set available online, but it has some prehistoric sounding elements to it, which makes me think it’s inspired by something like the old “Journey to the Center of the Earth” sci-fi film and story. When I first saw this I wondered if it was inspired by the old Star Trek episode where an entire civilization existed inside a large asteroid that was a sort of civilization ark sending people from a dying world to a new planet without the occupants ever realizing they were flying through space.
Either way, this setting has a lot of potential for being used in a game. Have you ever played in this setting as a DM or a player? What was your favorite part about this setting?
Lore for Friday - Warcraft from the gaming franchise Warcraft https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dungeons_%26_Dragons_campaign_settings#Warcraft
If you think this power sounds suspiciously like a video game, you would be right. Back in 3rd Edition D&D, there was a three-way licensing agreement between Wizards of the Coast (publishers of D&D), White Wolf (publishers of the Exalted RPG), and Blizzard Entertainment (creators of the Warcraft and World of Warcraft video game franchises).
Under this agreement, White Wolf published a game setting based on the Blizzard games and used the AD&D d20 system ruleset.
Lore for Friday - Malatra: the Living Jungle from the Forgotten Realms, located south of Shou Lung in Kara-Tur https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dungeons_%26_Dragons_campaign_settings#Malatra:_The_Living_Jungle
If you wonder why I do this series, it’s for days like this, when I uncover some little gem of a nugget of D&D history or lore that I never knew about. Malatra is a dense jungle plateau in the continent of Kara-Tur that is far away from most civilizations, deities, and technology. And there’s a whole trove of lore and adventures that were created and published in Polyhedron magazine from the mid-1990s to the early 2000s for this setting. If you enjoyed Chult but wanted a playground where you could make yiour own kind of jungle hell for your players to explore, it sounds like Malatra might just be the kind of spot you were seeking.
Lore for Friday - Sigil, the City of Doors from Planescape https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sigil_(Dungeons_%26_Dragons)
Sigil marks the hub of the planar vortex in the Planescape universe. It is a city where there are doors to every known plane of existence and where creatures from all those planes live, visit, and co-exist. Sigil is divided into six wards: the Hive Ward, the Lower Ward, the Clerk’s Ward, the Market Ward, the Guildhall Ward, and the Lady’s Ward.
I have always liked the idea of a place like Sigil as the home base for a high-level adventuring party whose exploits have gained the attention of gods and other powers that exist in the Natural World and beyond. I definitely think that as Wizards of the Coast releases more and more material for advanced adventuring beyond the current 5e level cap of 20, I will be creating games for players of these “epic” tier levels that involve a lot of visits to Sigil and the planes that can be reached beyond it.
Have you ever run or played a game that adventured in Sigil? What is your favorite (or most terrifying) memory from the City of Doors?
Lore for Friday - From the Campaign Setting Mystara - The Alasiyans of Ylaruam are honorable but harsh people, nomads of their desert homeland. They have a dwarven quarter in every city, and they tend to be suspicious of elves, whom they suspect of practicing dark magics. https://wiki.mystara.net/ylaruam#the_people
This is the kind of lore that gets my brain working overtime for a campaign setting. Pop culture has given us a number of dystopian future films like those in the “Mad Max” series that envision a future far beyond a nuclear holocaust where everything is a wasteland and people are nomads fighting over scarce resources. But a bit of D&D lore like this can make one imagine a dystopian landscape after some kind of arcane holocaust, perhaps with legends to say that elves were the race to blame for unleashing the magic or teaching the magic to the races that unleashed it. Just as there are otherwise intelligent people in advanced cultures today that somehow equate people of a certain skin pigment with criminals, rapists, and degenerate freeloaders, there could be a culture in a homebrew world based on the Alasiyans who believe all elves to be demonic, evil, dangerous, and deserving to be killed on sight.
Have you ever adventured in Mystara and have any stories about interactions with these people? How would you use a group like the Alasiyans of Ylaruam in your own homebrew campaign?