The Wizards of the Coast put out at least one set of D&D campaign modules that encourages players to really think about their characters in different ways. That’s great for character development but D&D worlds still have a Middle Earth feel to them. So why not set your next D&D adventure in a completely unexpected locale? Los Angeles, for example?
The City of Angels
I can practically hear you rolling your eyes. But I am talking about the LA in Netflix’s Lucifer. (If you have yet to watch the show, don’t worry there aren’t any spoilers ahead.) That Los Angeles is filled to the brim with magic, but every single magic user takes great pains to hide their magical ability from people who seem to be mere mortals. The result is that they often pretend in front of people who already know all about them or who are magical themselves. I can just see a Dungeon Master saying “roll the dice to see if the waitress serving you coffee is magical or not.” Nor can magic users can rely on their magic. Although it would be a spoiler for me to tell you why that is, I can tell you that magic often misfires or disappears entirely—usually at the most inconvenient of times. (Roll the dice to see if your magic works today.)
That’s not all of it, of course. Lucifer’s Los Angeles has the Underdark. Oh, I know it’s called Hell but when you see it, it has that Underdark feel to it. Best of all, if your party comes to Los Angeles, they can see a therapist. Can you imagine the sessions? “Doctor, today I dismembered an orc, and I don’t feel guilty. To be honest, I am just super-excited that we got a lot of treasure. Does that make me a bad elf?”
Lucifer’s LA is not the only world D&D could add. Terry Pratchett’s Discworld would also make a great D&D setting. At first blush, this flat world perched atop four elephants who, in turn, stand on a turtle may seem a bit more traditional. It’s filled with goblins and golems, witches, and wizards just like any other D&D universe. But first impressions can be misleading. What sets Discworld apart is its tone. Magic doesn’t work the way you’d expect. Vampires and Werewolves are often not just the good guys but the law. (Roll the dice to sort out if the werewolf chasing you is a police officer wanting to hand you a ticket for jaywalking or a monster intent on eating you.) Golems and dwarves are at each other’s throats and, if you’re not careful, you will end up offending one or the other (or Great A’Tuin help you both). Roll the dice.
Or why not add the Witcher’s world to the mix? Eastern Europe is quite different from Western Europe—something we often forget. You probably heard of Baba Yaga and her hut on chicken’s legs but you may not be immediately aware of the other differences. Peasants can’t leave the land to which they are bound, and they despise the city folk with their (relative) freedom of movement. A contempt that is too often returned in good measure. City dwellers are suspicious of one another. Secret police and spies are everywhere and are of every race. It’s hard to tell who is working for some secret service and who is simply getting by. Indeed, it’s a rare city dweller or villager who doesn’t at some point supplement their income by spying. Roll the dice to see if the person next to you is a spy. These machinations may make a good, old-fashioned monster fight a relief for the party.
These are just some ideas, of course. You probably have your own. Tell me about them. But I bring them up, because setting your next campaign in a place that just feels different may make it more fun. It certainly won’t be less fun. You can meet people, beat enemies to a satisfying pulp, solve riddles and loot treasure just about anywhere.