Several years ago in Dragon Magazine #351 the bulk of the issue revolved around the World Serpent Inn. Now – only 18 measly words into this article – I’m going to take you on a sidebar quest, because hack writers like me don’t have the good sense to know that you shouldn’t do such a thing. Here it goes:
Do you remember both Dungeon and Dragon magazines? Because, really, they were the best. I can remember being so excited to read the adventures and extra class and character options that were packed into the pages of those magazines. Both Dungeon and Dragon magazine consistently contained imaginative content because darned if those magazines weren’t the absolute best.
Now back to our main quest: The World Serpent Inn was a tavern between worlds which served as a clever way to introduce your D&D campaigns to a new, temporary setting. The conceit was that the world spanning tavern contained a portal that allowed PCs to jump from Greyhawk to Dragonlance to Arthas, or to whatever D&D setting your heart desired.
Think about it this way: What if Marvel 616 characters could jump over and interact briefly with Ultimate Marvel characters, or even into the DC universe, then hop right back? That’s good fun, folks, that allowed little jaunts which add variety into campaign.
So far the only supported setting for D&D 5e is the Forgotten Realms and it appears it will be that way for a while. But let’s take a trip to the World Serpent Inn! What follows are 7 additional campaign settings that need to come to D&D 5e.
7 Campaign Settings for D&D 5e
I’ve written about Eberron before, so I’ll point you there in order to be brief here. Briefly, Eberron is a campaign setting set in a period after war. What’s wonderful about Eberron is that it accommodates traditional D&D elements and races, but within a setting that has a wholly different tone.
Eberron contains pulp and dark adventure elements, plus some clever non-traditional fantasy technologies such as trains, skyships, and mechanical beings, all of which are powered by magic.
Wizards of the Coast have introduced the beginnings of a ruleset that will convert Eberron, so there’s hope that it will be the beginning of official campaign settings for D&D 5e. Until then, let the World Serpent Inn be a plot device that allows your home campaigns to sojourn briefly within the world of Eberron.
2. Oriental Adventures
I’ve also written about Oriental Adventures before, which is understandable, because I am a ninja. Within D&D lore, Oriental Adventures occur in the land of Kara Tur, which has been retconned to be a part of the Forgotten Realms.
Being that the Forgotten Realms is currently the only supported campaign setting for D&D 5e, Kara Tur being a part of the Realms is good news, as it makes it easy to imagine your homebrew setting taking a quick jaunt there.
In short, Kara-Tur is a fantasy analogue of medieval China, Korea, Japan, Tibet, and other regions of East Asia and, as a result, contains classes, races, weapons, and equipment to reflect that. Let the World Serpent Inn take your campaign to a place where your characters can interact with Samurai.
3. Dark Sun
Arthas – the home world of the Dark Sun campaign – is a brutally unforgiving place. Arthas is a harsh desert planet filled with creatures that have survived only through being tougher and nastier than the rest.
Even though I took a stab at adding the Thri-kreen as a playable race in D&D 5e and Wizards of the Coast have released the Aarakocra as a playable race (but not in Adventurers League play), making Dark Sun suitable for an official D&D 5e release is tricky for a couple reasons:
First, characters needed to be heartier in Dark Sun campaigns because the setting was so unforgiving. In fact, Dark Sun campaigns introduced a character tree because they know you’d need additional characters because characters flat out died off so much. If you introduce a character to the Dark Sun setting via the World Serpent Inn, you might not get them back.
Second, Dark Sun was know for its rules on psionics, which aren’t officially supported yet in D&D 5e and may not be for a while.
I’m busy because I’ve got articles to write, so let’s just cut straight to quoting Wikipedia, because why not?
Dragonlance is set on the world of Krynn. The world’s major gods are the High God and his children: good Paladine, neutral Gilean, and evil Takhisis. The gods are opposed by Chaos, who seeks to destroy Krynn.
Depending on the time period, the evil chromatic and the good metallic dragons are rare or plentiful. Humans are Krynn’s most common humanoid race, but elves, dwarves, kender, gnomes, and minotaurs occupy the world as well. Clerics derive magical powers from their gods, and wizards derive their power from the three moon gods, Solinari, Lunitari, and Nuitari.
During Krynn’s various wars, armies of draconians are used as troops. Draconians are created by corrupting a dragon egg, thereby creating a reptilian humanoid. The eggs of good dragons create evil draconians, and vice versa.
Dragonlances are weapons first created in the Third Dragon War, designed with the purpose of killing evil dragons, and are the only weapons with which mortals can kill dragons.
Now name a character Keifer Sutherland and push him through a portal in the World Serpent Inn into the world of Dragonlance.
Outside of Buffy, I’ve never been hugely interesting in the vampire genre, but I certainly can’t minimize it’s appeal among the masses. People love vampires, so why not mix up your D&D 5e campaign by using the World Serpent Inn to serve as a way to allow your players to briefly adventure in Castle Ravenloft, even though it is yet to receive official D&D 5e support.
Ravenloft is a Gothic horror setting full of vampires, werewolves, and other things that go bump in the night, so it gives opportunity to create an adventure that includes apprehension and fear, in addition to the typical combat and role-playing of D&D. Better, the characters that are morally impure risk coming under the influence of the Dark Powers, gradually transforming themselves into figures of evil. That will spice up a campaign.
Al-Qadim is a D&D campaign set in the land of Zakhara, a blend of the historical Arabian Empire with a wealth of Hollywood history. Fortunately, Zakhara is a peninsula on the continent of Faerûn, the locale of the Forgotten Realms, the current D&D 5e campaign setting.
Pull an adventure from an old Al-Qadim D&D product like Al-Qadim: Arabian Adventures, a sourcebook describing character creation rules, equipment, and spells unique to the setting, or Al-Qadim: Land of Fate, a boxed set with separate sourcebooks for the players and the Dungeon Master. Then have your players visit the World Serpent Inn for a one off adventure that you could modify the rules to allow a magic carpet ride through Al-Qadim 5e.
Golarion might seem like an odd choice for a D&D 5e campaign setting, considering that it is the official setting of Pathfinder, D&D 5e’s main competitor. But Paizo, the company behind Pathfinder, has built a wonderful world in Golarion, and there is no reason to leave it only for the D&D 3.5 rule set. Let’s consider some Golarion 5e action and perhaps have D&D 5e characters interact with some NPCs that are the iconic characters of the Pathfinder RPG.
We’ve gone horror in Ravenloft to survivalist in Dark Sun. We’ve had pulp adventures in Eberron and battled ninjas in Oriental Adventures. So it feels right to visit Golarion in our D&D 5e adventures, being that it would exhibit a real familiarity among our regular campaign, while also giving it a creative twist.
World Serpent Inn: Campaign Settings for D&D 5e
And that’s what was fun about the World Serpent Inn. It was a fun storytelling device back in 2007 when Dragon Magazine #351 featured it, and it can be a fun storytelling device today. Wizards of the Coast have been mum in releasing new campaign settings for D&D 5e. That doesn’t mean we can’t use creative means like the World Serpent Inn to introduce campaign settings for D&D 5e, even if it’s just for a one off adventure.