DnD: Best Campaign Setting For Beginners

What location should you use for your first Dungeons & Dragons campaign setting?

Drizzt Do'Urden D&D

Image Via Wizards Of The Coast

A Dungeons & Dragons campaign can be set in a location designed entirely by the DM, but those who don’t have the time to construct a world from scratch can use one of the official settings distributed by Wizards of the Coast. These offer the perfect framework for a game, with all the details laid out in advance while providing enough freedom for groups to craft their own stories without bumping into problems.

The need for a campaign setting depends on the planned length of the game. If you’re only planning on running a one-shot or handful of games, then you don’t need to sweat the details: create a few towns and dungeons, and you’re all set. If the game turns into a full campaign, you can use the details established in those early games to craft your world. If you aren’t interested in creating a homebrew world, you can drop your little fantasy land into one of the established settings and go from there.

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The Best D&D Campaign Setting For Beginners Is The Forgotten Realms

A dragonborn bard in Dungeons & Dragons
Image Via Wizards Of The Coast

By far, the easiest D&D 5E campaign setting for beginners to use is the Forgotten Realms. Most official campaigns and adventures are set there, and many books use the land of Faerun as the default when talking about a setting. Wizards of the Coast has updated other classic D&D campaign settings to 5E, such as Spelljammer, Eberron, and Dragonlance, but the company still treats the Forgotten Realms as the default.

There’s also the popularity of the Forgotten Realms campaign setting in multimedia projects to consider. Many video games have been set in Faerun, including highly-acclaimed titles like the Baldur’s Gate, Icewind Dale, and Neverwinter Nights series. The most popular D&D novels are the ones in The Legend of Drizzt series, which are set in the Forgotten Realms, as was Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves. There’s a good chance that your player is familiar with one or all of these properties, giving them a starting point for their own characters and a context for the world they’re about to enter.

The great thing about the Forgotten Realms is that it offers a lot of freedom for DMs while still being able to incorporate familiar elements of the lore into the story in an unobtrusive way. It’s easy to dump a party into this kind of world and send them off on an adventure. This differs greatly from places like the Domains of Dread from Ravenloft, Wildspace from Spelljammer, or Krynn from Dragonlance, which all have major lore elements that are hard to write around and can make it difficult to run the game, especially if you want to tell a certain kind of story.

Alternative D&D Campaign Settings For Beginners

The Rules Expansion Gift Set cover for D&D's Tasha's Cauldron of Everything
Image Via Wizards of the Coast

D&D players looking for something other than the Forgotten Realms have a few options. The world of Oerth from Greyhawk has yet to receive an official D&D 5E update (even though many of its characters and concepts have appeared in campaigns). Still, its lore and maps are easy to find online, as it’s just as open and accessible as the Forgotten Realms.

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Another option comes from a D&D 5E adventure anthology called The Radiant Citadel. This book involves a small city on the Ethereal Plane, which is protected by the forces of good and has gateways to many different dimensions, similar to the city of Sigil from Planescape. The Radiant Citadel works as both a self-contained location for adventures and as a springboard to other wonderous places, giving the DM a chance to send the group off on whatever quest they think will be most entertaining without stressing about the setting.