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"Roll for initiative."
The Dungeon Master, signalling the start of a combat encounter.

Dungeons & Dragons, frequently shortened to D&D, is a Tabletop RPG that was first published in 1974 by TSR (Tactical Studies Rules). TSR founder Gary Gygax based the system of the game on TSR's miniatures combat system, Chainmail. The game revolves around the now-classic set-up of a Game Master (known in official D&D terms as the Dungeon Master), who controls all the non-player characters; and the players, who each control a Player Character and deal with the challenges provided by the Dungeon Master.

The history of D&D is more than a little complicated. Due to Creative Differences between the creators, the original game became split into Basic Dungeons & Dragons aimed at beginning players, and the more complex, and ultimately more popular, Advanced Dungeons & Dragons in 1977.

In the mid-1980s a corporate power struggle inside TSR caused Gary Gygax to be ousted from the company, and a couple of years later, in 1989, the group left behind codified the official rules tweaks and unofficial suggestions that had accumulated in the meantime into Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition. It continued in popularity for a time, but by the late 90s, mismanagement of the company led TSR into bankruptcy.

After TSR was bought by Wizards of the Coast (makers of Magic: The Gathering, and now a subsidiary of Hasbro), they published Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition in 2000, using the d20 System. A major overhaul of the entire rules set, 3rd edition cleared off the crust that had accumulated around the 2nd edition and unified a scattered assortment of rules and procedures into something more coherent. It was a huge hit and revitalized the game, leading to new players aplenty. Then came an incremental edition known as 3.5e, which was largely concerned with fixing a few very obvious Game Breakers and Quirky Bards in 3rd Edition.

In 2008, fourth edition was released. It created quite a big amount of discussion, with haters, lovers, people who don't care and everything in between. The changes from 3.5e were many; overall, its rules had a much greater emphasis on mechanical balance and action than any previous edition. Common criticisms of the edition are that it plays too much like a MMORPG, and/or a tabletop miniatures war game. Indeed, the assumption that players use miniatures on a map is even expressed throughout the core rules, such as movement being described in squares, not feet. Though it sold well at first, fan discontentment with the changes led to many people abandoning the edition, with many switching to Pathfinder (itself a D&D derivative based on the 3.5e rules) leading to a decline of the D&D brand.

The fifth edition of D&D was released in 2014, as Wizards of the Coast sought to revitalize the brand. In an effort to try and heal the divisions in the player community, they actively solicited players for ideas about the new edition, with an open playtest (which began in 2012 under the production alias of "D&D Next" and ran through the end of 2013). It combines elements from all previous editions – extremely simplified classes and combat rules (making "theater of the mind" gameplay feasible once again) close to 1st and 2nd edition; the magic rules combine a lower-powered version of 3rd's slot system with 4th's ritual casting system; and while skills and feats are still present, they are much less prominent than before to the point of being technically optional. note 

The core rulebooks contain no "official" background setting material. Dungeon Masters are invited to either make up their own setting or use one of a number of published campaign settings. Of course, stuff from some settings leaked in any way – after all, one cannot roleplay in a vacuum. BECMI era D&D was wholesale set in The Known World/Mystara. Advanced D&D has elements of Gygax's own Greyhawk as the implied setting (the wizards whose names attached to spells of the core list are classical Greyhawk characters), 3rd Edition even included the top of Greyhawk's pantheon and 4th Edition books' assumptions unofficially form a vaguely defined setting called the "Nentir Vale". Fifth Edition mostly uses the Forgotten Realms as the main source of fluff material this time around, but also supplements it with elements from other settings like Eberron, Greyhawk, and Dragonlance.

While Dungeons & Dragons may not have created tabletop roleplaying games, it codified many of the mechanics and tropes associated with them, is what most people picture when they think of a tabletop RPG (even if they've never played one) and is by far the most popular tabletop RPG of all time. Dungeons & Dragons is one of the Trope Codifiers of the modern era, having single-handedly mashed Sword and Sorcery and epic High Fantasy into the fantasy genre as we know it today, and having been the source of more than a few of the Roleplaying Game Terms and RPG Elements that the influential computer RPG genre was founded on. Many, many excellent computer games (especially RPGs) have also been made directly off the D&D license. It is also commonly seen as the most popular nerd game due to all the strategic elements involved.

Though a number of D&D-based MUDs and other online games existed prior, most notably the original Neverwinter Nights, in 2006, Wizards of the Coast and Atari released the MMORPG Dungeons & Dragons Online: Stormreach, set on the fictional continent of Xen'drik in the campaign world of Eberron. The game has since been renamed Dungeons & Dragons Online: Eberron Unlimited and uses a free-to-play model with optional microtransactions. It later added a Forgotten Realms expansion. Temple of Elemental Evil received a computer game adaptation via the late Troika Games, and is notable for being the only "proper" use of the 3.5 rules (fully turn-based, all special options, bar grapple and counterspell, intact), Knights of the Chalice is an unofficial indie successor to this adaptation built by using the OGL license, with a sequel coming eventually.

Two companion magazines — Dragon and Dungeon — have been published since 1976 and 1986 respectively, offering additional content, articles, and resources for D&D. Since 2007, the magazines have ceased paper publication and can now be found in digital format on the Wizards of the Coast website. AD&D has its "Core Rules" toolset sold on CD. With the release of 4E, a set of virtual tabletop software called D&D Insider was set to be released that would have given gamers an official way to play D&D over the Internet, but now the idea seems dead, as Fifth Edition is in publication. In 2015, Dragon magazine made a reappearance as Dragon+, a free app released for iOS and Android, with new issues of the e-magazine being released every two months.

Whole libraries of novels have been published with D&D tie-ins, most of them linked to specific game settings such as the Forgotten Realms. While the novels' writing quality is inconsistent at best, sheer quantity testifies to these novel lines' profitability. The best-known novels are R.A. Salvatore's The Legend of Drizzt series. In addition, IDW Publishing, famous for their Transformers and G.I. Joe comics, have obtained the license to an ongoing series based on D&D — which have been well-received, mainly due to being written by the writer for DC Comics' Blue Beetle.

For the animated series based on the game, see Dungeons & Dragons (1983). For the Bally pinball game, see Dungeons & Dragons (1987). There are also four movies. The first (Dungeons & Dragons (2000)) is In Name Only. The second (Wrath of the Dragon God) is a lot better, despite being made on a low budget. The third, Dungeons & Dragons: The Book of Vile Darkness, was a made-for-cable-TV affair that premiered on Syfy in November 2012. A reboot of the film franchise, produced by Paramount, debuted on March 31, 2023, with the largely well-received Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves.

The Legend of Vox Machina, which released in 2022, is an Animated Adaptation of the first campaign of Critical Role, a popular D&D actual play stream, but the animated series is a Serial Numbers Filed Off adaptation of D&D due to not being officially licensed by Wizards of the Coast.

Please note that, since this is a very open-ended game, with millions of people playing it in one form or another, you can and will find any trope if you look hard enough.

D&D has become an icon of the Geek Reference Pool and objects relating to the game (die, Dungeon Master's Guide, etc.) commonly show up in Nerd Hoards.

See this page for splatbooks and novels, and this page for material that is based on Dungeons & Dragons but their use of the systems' rules tend to vary.

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    Official Editions 
  • Original Dungeons & Dragons: The first edition, made by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson and published by TSR in 1974.
  • Basic Dungeons & Dragons: A more basic, simplified starter set for new players to learn D&D, first published in 1977. It went through three editions of its own, ultimately branching into an almost-but-not-quite independent system.
  • Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st Edition, aka 1E (1977): A more complex version of D&D with additional classes, races, and mechanics, intended to be played alongside Basic, and released piecemeal - the Monster Manual in '77, the Player's Handbook in '78 and the Dungeon Master's Guide in '79.
  • Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition, aka 2E (1989): A refinement of 1E, made partly to streamline and refine the 1E rules, and partly in response to backlash against the game due to the Satanic Panic of the 80s.
  • Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition, aka 3E (2000): Shifted the player characters towards depending more heavily on the class system rather than their races, and based the whole game on the new d20 System. A revamp, called 3.5E (2003), attempted to rebalance the game and add a lot of small quality of life fixes.
  • Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition, aka 4E (2008): Majorly revamped and simplified the combat system and classes, as well as focusing much more heavily on the use of miniatures for combat. In 2010, they released Essentials which streamlined some of the rules and incorporated errata, and which the company insisted was not "4.5E".
  • Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition, aka 5E (2014): The current edition of Dungeons & Dragons, first published in 2014. It is a backtrack from a majority of the changes in the previous edition, while also avoiding the increasing complexity of 3E. It presents itself as a "simplified" version of the D&D experience at lower levels, without losing the build variety or roleplaying potential at any point.

    Individual Campaign Settings 
  • Birthright: The game on a larger scale: international politics run by demigods. Player characters are encouraged to be the scions of ancient gods who now rule domains through divine right, dealing with courtly politics in between dungeon crawls. The main enemies are the Awnsheighlien, or Blood Abominations, the twisted scions of the gods of evil. Set on the continent Cerilia of the planet Aebrynis. This setting was first released in 1995.
  • Blackmoor, a.k.a. The First Fantasy Campaign: The very first campaign setting created for what would become D&D, originating from Dave Arneson's wargaming days, the result of a slow weekend in October 1970 consisting of '50s monster movies, "fantasy hero" novels, a slump during his most recent wargame session, and the thought of "I can do better than this". So, he drew a six-floor dungeon layout, then created a castle and town from a Sicilian castle model he had lying around. The new setting was a huge hit among his fellow Braunstein players and when he showed the game to Gygax in 1972, the rest, as they say, was history. It was portrayed as a Good-vs-Evil setting, rather than a Law-vs-Chaos one, with the various duchies, kingdoms, and major characters vying for power while the mysterious Egg of Coot pulls strings from the shadows. While the "official" version was a released in 1977 as a combination battle report and gazetteer by Judges Guild, alternate versions appeared in both Greyhawk (as an archbarony near the Land of Black Ice) and Mystara (as a kingdom from the world's distant past that rose to great heights and quickly fell, changing the world in the process). The setting only had four adventure modules released for it during its TSR days: Adventures in Blackmoor, Temple of the Frog, City of the Gods, and The Duchy of Ten. While officially discontinued during AD&D 2nd Edition, Arneson was able to keep the rights for the setting and eventually worked with Zeitgeist Games to release setting books for 3.5 and 4th Editions. Blackmoor proudly has the honor of being one of the longest continuously played fantasy role-playing campaign settings in existence, even spawning an epic play-by-post game called The Last Fantasy Campaign, which ran from 2005 to 2015.
  • Brancalonia: A third party setting based on a Fantasy Counterpart Culture of Italy.
  • Council Of Wyrms: Dragons plus politics. Set on an island chain called the Io's Blood Isles, the dragon residents have a loose democratic government and must work together on issues affecting dragon welfare. They retain Character Alignment inclinations, but those are less important than matters of honor and politics. If the Council send a party with a gold dragon as a substitute of paladin and a black dragon as a substitute of thief on a mission, they'll fly. There are no native humans in the setting; any humans that appear are dragon slaying adventurers. invoked This setting was published in 1994.
  • Dark Sun: Desert Punk, Psychic Powers, and Black Magic After the End by way of Dune. A world ravaged by misuse of magic, the planet Athas is now a vast desert wasteland. Psionics are extremely common, while wizardry is outlawed. The world is ruled by a cabal of evil sorcerer-kings, each of whom controls their own city-state with an iron fist.
  • Dragonlance: Set on the planet Krynn. The purest High Fantasy setting of them all and hews closest to J. R. R. Tolkien's works, arguably. The most major difference would probably be Tolkien preferred to imply the influence of Divine Providence, while in Dragonlance the intervention of deities tends to be much more explicit. More popular for its series of novels, which have come out non-stop for years, than for its sporadically published game products.
  • Eberron: Magitek and Dungeon Punk. Magic is a part of everyday life, to the point that airships and magic-powered locomotives are a common sight. A world war has devastated the globe, and an uneasy peace reigns — for now. The world of Eberron is in the grips of an age of exploration, with new treasures to be found around every corner. This setting was released in 2004.
    • Rather than being a world where technology and magic exist side-by-side and either integrate or oppose each other, Eberron is a world where the study of magic has advanced to be indistinguishable from technology. Eberron has many industrial and commercial services and products that are analogs to modern conveniences, but are entirely created through magic, such as elementally-powered vehicles and a magic telegraph service.
    • The Eberron setting puts a unique spin on the concept of alignment as well. There are no Always Chaotic Evil or Always Lawful Good races; any intelligent creature (including sentient undead) can be of any alignment, and even clerics don't necessarily have to be of the same alignment as the god(s) they worship... or don't worship, since divine magic in Eberron isn't actually tied to any specific deity. There are angels in the setting, and that's what a cleric gets if he casts a spell like Commune. However, if pressed, the angels will admit that even they haven't ever actually seen any deities. About the closest the world comes to Always Chaotic Evil is the aberrations. Changelings aren't but are treated as such by most other humanoid races.
  • Exandria: The setting of the popular live D&D stream Critical Role. It became an official setting in 2019 with the Explorer's Guide to Wildemount, which details the cold continent filled with political intrigue and horrible remnants of a Great Offscreen War. It also retroactively ties the events of both seasons of the stream and Matthew Mercer's earlier Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting into the D&D multiverse. Exandria's simultaneous status as an official and third party setting means it has to come up with... creative ways to sometimes sidestep its own official status; particularly noticeable in The Legend of Vox Machina and the re-release of the Tal'Dorei source book.
  • Forgotten Realms: Technically the oldest D&D setting, due to being made by Ed Greenwood around 1967 as the setting of his childhood stories but didn't start publication as an official setting until 1987. Set on the planet Toril, and the continent Faerûn in particular: a world of Fantasy Counterpart Cultures, partially shanghaied from Earth (Egyptian- and Mesopotamian-derived at that, to be exact), prominent features are constant conflicts between numerous and very active deities, the world being one big Gambit Pileup between dozens of factions, and scads of high-powered Non Player Characters (mostly the stars of the setting's popular novel lines) running around. The most popular and developed setting, although is equally disliked for said popularity.
    • Arcane Age: The same, but thousands of years in the past, with a lot of Magitek on top.
    • Al-Qadim: Arabian Nights style fantasy mixed with Muslim Arab culture. Genies, magic carpets, Evil Viziers, secret societies, haggling and fame. Peculiar magic (tied to genies, astrology, magical weaving, and so on). Play occurred in the land of Zakhara on Toril, to the east of Faerûn.
    • Kara-tur: Oriental adventures — martial arts and all. Peculiar magic (based on the Oriental five elements, of course). Kara-Tur is separated from Faerûn by Zakhara.
    • Maztica: Central & South American style setting. Very peculiar magic (feather vs. fang). Maztica lies across the sea to the west of Faerûn.
  • Gamma World: While technically a different game line, uses identical mechanics and is often seen as a subset of vanilla D&D, to the point that the AD&D 1st Edition Dungeon Master's Guide even had sections for converting AD&D characters to Gamma World characters and vice-versa. Scavenger World After the End inhabited by Mutants constantly trying to win the Super Power Lottery and usually either Cursed with Awesome or Blessed with Suck.
  • Ghostwalk: The first campaign setting created for 3rd Edition, and ironically the one which almost nobody remembers. It is a setting where the underworld is a real, physical place, and the ghosts of the dead walk the earth on the way to their final journey. The main villain race is the yuan-ti, one of the many nonhuman races whose souls immediately go to the underworld, rather than stay as ghosts. It mostly focuses on the city of Manifest, which resides near the entrance to the underworld.
  • Greyhawk: Your basic Medieval European Fantasy, Greyhawk was the second created campaign setting and the base setting for 1st and 3rd editions. Oerth is a high-fantasy sword-and-sorcery world ravaged by war, where the forces of evil are stronger than in other settings. The Free City of Greyhawk stands at the center of the world, its gates always open for adventure. Features strong forces of active neutrality. Notable for having two versions of the same setting:
    • The first version was the original home campaign, dubbed the "Original Lake Geneva Campaign" by Robert Kuntz, created after Gygax played a game of Blackmoor in 1972. Games in this version ran constantly from 1972 to 1979, slowed down from 1980 to 1985, and completely ceased on December 31, 1985, right after Gygax was ousted from TSR, with the setting itself being "destroyed" in 1988 in the last Gord the Rogue novel. Due to the number of games played each week, Gygax didn't have the time to make a world map completely from scratch and simply used a blank map of North America, filling it in as the campaign went on. Despite the name, the 1975 Supplement I: Greyhawk digest wasn't a Greyhawk setting book, but a rulebook that helped eliminate the game's dependence on Chainmail, setting the groundwork for what would become Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. Not much is known about the home campaign version, apart from what is presented in the Gnome Cache novella from the earliest issues of Dragon magazine and the Gord the Rogue novel series. Despite washing his hands of the setting, fans still wanted the original home campaign version of the Castle Greyhawk megadungeon to be published, so Gygax finally relented and greenlit the project as Castle Zagyg in 2003. Although its immensely troubled production ended with just two of the proposed seven books and a small number of adventure modules and supplements being released. note 
    • The second version was released as the main setting for 1st Edition Advanced D&D. Surprised by the sheer popularity of the setting, Gygax spent a number of years recreating and fleshing out the setting to make it different from the OLGC version, with a 32-page folio released in 1980 and the full boxed set released in 1983. Mainly covers the Flanaess region of the continent of Oerik, but was eventually supposed to cover the rest of Oerik and eventually the whole of Oerth. Discontinued after 3.x Edition, although it did receive a "Grand Finale" of sorts with the Living Greyhawk campaign that spanned the entire 3.x Edition production time (2000-2008). Semi-revived in Fifth Edition as reference material, with the setting's first and only proper 5e outing being the Ghosts of Saltmarsh adventure collection.
  • Grim Hollow: A Dark Fantasy and Gothic Horror setting, developed by third-party Ghostfire Gaming. The setting is the continent of Etharis, ruled by old and collapsing kingdoms, ravaged by plague, monsters and worse. The gods died in a great war between each other, leaving only the angels to answer the denizens' prayers, though their power is not great enough to protect the world.
  • Humblewood: A third party setting created by The Deck of Many, notable for eschewing the standard D&D races in favor of having the players play as sentient birds and woodland critters.
  • Hyperborea: The setting of the Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea retro-clone. The setting itself is a reimagining of the mythical Hyperborea: a Dying Earth-styled flat earth realm in the shape of a giant hexagon, set adrift in space with the Hyperborean Sea cascading off of it in unearthly waterfalls. The realm is lit by a dying red sun; there's a 13-month calendar of 364 days, although the sidereal year itself lasts for 13 calendar years, meaning that the seasons last for years at a time; and an extreme version of the polar circle's day-night cycle where polar night and midnight sun each last a whole year. The lands are harsh and unforgiving, environments ranging from mostly hospitable grasslands and marshlands to nigh uninhabitable deserts and tundras. Magic items are abundant, yet a rare breed all at once: while treasure hordes can contain ancient Atlantean technology and enchanted Hyperborean arms and armor, the means of making them has been lost to the point that the only things that can be made are spell scrolls and alchemical potions and poisons.
  • Jakandor: A minor setting from towards the end of AD&D 2nd edition. Pulpy Forever War between nature-worshipping barbarians and scholastic necromancers on an island nation After the End.
  • Kalibruhn: Technically the third official campaign setting for OD&D, created by D&D and TSR alumnus Robert J. Kuntz in 1973 as the dungeon "Castle El Raja Key". This was the main setting where Gygax himself played as a player and the "birth home" setting of his legendary archmage, Mordenkainen. The first iteration was originally planned to be the focus of a fifth supplement for OD&D, but a number of problems led to Kuntz leaving TSR in 1977 and the supplement was never published. Due to never signing the IP rights away, Kuntz retained ownership and began work on a second iteration of the setting. Kuntz has been working on both versions constantly since their creation, with some degree of the setting's history included in the El Raja Key Archive DVD, alongside information on the original Greyhawk and Blackmoor campaigns. An oddity among the other campaign settings listed here, Kalibruhn has gone almost completely unpublished, with the only info out there being what little Kuntz has revealed over the years.
  • Kingdoms of Kalamar: A third-party setting from Kenzer & Co. officially first released for 2nd Edition and endorsed by Wizards during the 3rd Edition era. A standard high-fantasy style setting that sells itself on its depth and verisimilitude. Though no longer an official setting, Kenzer released an updated version for 4th Edition.
  • Mystara, originally The Known World: the third internal campaign setting and the first officially released under the D&D brand as the setting for Basic D&D. Wooden Ships and Iron Men on the surface of a Hollow World full of lost worlds inside of it. Notable for the Immortals, incredibly powerful beings who stand in for gods in this setting, and which player characters could become if they got to the highest levels. The default setting of BECMI/Rules Cyclopedia-era D&D (and the setting of the Capcom Beat 'em Up games). Lots of cool airships — from a floating city carrying a fleet of WWI style planes powered by gnomish Magitek to big wooden birds of prey kept in the air by sacred relics and armed with long-range Disintegrator Rays to a flying icosahedron (i.e. d20) plated with one-side mirrors. Also known for its Gazetteer series, which had multiple authors cover the major kingdoms of Mystara, including Forgotten Realms creator Ed Greenwood, who wrote for the halfling realm of The Five Shires.
    • Red Steel: A sub-setting of Mystara released for 2nd Edition AD&D. The campaign book has "Power has a price!" printed right on the cover. Set in the Savage Coast region of Mystara. The land is plagued by the Red Curse: "vermeil", a dust that grants those who ingest it extraordinary power at the expense of crippling deformities. Those affected by the Red Curse must wear jewelry crafted from "cinnabryl" to stave off its effects.
  • Nentir Vale: Default pseudo-setting for 4th edition. The great empires of mortals were destroyed in a magic war, leaving behind scattered remnants of civilization in small pockets (described as "points of light") surrounded by dangerous monsters and abandoned and forgotten magic and technology.
  • Pelinore: A little-known setting created by TSR's UK branch for both Basic D&D and AD&D 1st Edition and published in Imagine magazine, which ran from 1983-1985. Set in what is presumably a Flat World, at the supposed center lies the rumored Worldheart, the nexus of harmony and peace, with the lands extending beyond it becoming more chaotic until it reaches The Rim, the edge of the world where chaos reigns. However, most gameplay was set within the City League, a metropolis within the Country of Cerwyn, with Cerwyn itself being set in a region of the world called The Domains. A fan-made "collected" version is available here for download.
  • Planescape: Walking The Multiverse in a setting where belief and philosophy can reshape the very cosmos. All built around the decadent, gothic city of Sigil in the center of everything that's filled with portals that connect to everywhere. Everything else exists within its framework, although the Outer Planes that function as heavens and hells to the other campaign settings are the main focus. All Myths Are True, as far as possible, even if many are stretched.
  • Ravenloft: Gothic fantasy and Hammer Horror in a maybe sentient demiplane called the "Domains of Dread" that seems to exist solely to inflict The Punishment on its inhabitants, especially the 'dark lord' of each region but also everyone else who was swept up into the demiplane in their wake. The mysterious 'dark powers' lift these 'dark lords' and their surrounding territories from various Prime Material Plane worlds, and each 'dark lord' is both the most powerful being in their domain and a literal and figurative prisoner of their own destructive behavior. Initially a one-off module (the classic "weekend in hell"), it was popular enough to become its own campaign setting. Fifth Edition brought it full circle by releasing an updated and expanded version of the original Ravenloft module, titled Curse of Strahd.
    • Masque of the Red Death: The same setting concept but transplanted to a low-magic version of Victorian-era Earth ("Gothic Earth").
  • Rokugan: Jidaigeki style fantasy; the setting of the Legend of the Five Rings card game and licensed from its makers.
  • Spelljammer: Dungeons & Dragons IN SPACE! Prominently featured the extended solar systems of Dragonlance, Greyhawk and Forgotten Realms, as well as mentioning Birthright, Dark Sun and Mystara. All Cosmologies Are True... at least, somewhere. The solar system of each campaign setting that's set on the Prime Material Plane is enclosed within a crystal sphere and flying vessels called spelljammers can navigate the "wildspace" within the spheres and the phlogiston between them. Most relatively normal are accessible this way. Spelljammer and Planescape are stitched together well enough, but don't cross much, being alternate ways to handle transit between worlds: spaceflight and Jules Verne-ish exploration, or magical portals with linking dimensions.
  • Wilderlands of High Fantasy: The first officially licensed and published third-party campaign setting for OD&D, created by Judges Guild after the success of their City State of the Invincible Overlord cityscape setting and released in a collection of 4 32-page booklets. In 2002, Judges Guild ended up working together with Necromancer Games to release a boxed version for 3.5 Edition. Rather than go for the localized "megadungeon" style of very early Blackmoor and Greyhawk, the Wilderlands went the sandbox route: 18 maps that altogether cover an area of about 780 miles wide by 1080 miles long, roughly the size of the Mediterranean. Each individual map contains a number of pre-established points-of-interest, with the accompanying books containing entry upon entry for every bastion of civilization, set of ruins, and monster lair within each region. The Wilderlands sticks to the gonzo origins of D&D, a time when the lines between sci-fi and fantasy were very murky and Schizo Tech was everywhere, meaning you could have people who just invented the wheel potentially meet people who use calculus and then have them potentially happen upon a crashed alien spaceship from an age long before recorded history.
  • The Planes of the Magic: The Gathering Multiverse: Ever since Wizards's acquisition of the D&D brand back in September of 1999, they have kept a strict policy of never crossing their two biggest brands over with each other, keeping them distinct entities. Though a number of fans have been hoping for some kind of cross-promotion for years.
    • This would change when James Wyatt (former member of the D&D Next development team and current narrative head of Magic) decided to compile and release some of his homebrew ideas into a free PDF supplement titled Plane Shift: Zendikar in April of 2016, as a companion piece to his Art of Magic: the Gathering — Zendikar art book (the book would provide the lore while the PDF provided the rules). This was a rousing success, with Wyatt releasing more supplements alongside art books under the Plane Shift umbrella over the course of the next two years:
      • Zendikar (April 2016), the temple-and-jungle-filled plane.
      • Innistrad (July 2016), the Gothic Horror plane (which included lore conversion rules to adapt material from the Ravenloft module Curse of Strahd, as their releases had coincidentally synchronized).
      • Kaladesh (February 2017), a South Asian-flavored city of scientists and inventors.
      • Amonkhet (July 2017), Magic's take on Egyptian Mythology.
      • Ixalan (January 2018), inspired by Mesoamerica during the Age of Exploration.
      • Dominaria (July 2018), Magic's original setting.
    • After the success of Plane Shift, the D&D team, the Magic team, and the Hasbro higher-ups saw potential in a full-fledged series of Magic sourcebooks for D&D:
      • The Guildmaster's Guide to Ravnica, released in November of 2018. Set in the city-plane of Ravnica where ten guilds jockey for control.
      • Mythic Odysseys of Theros, released in July 2020 and set in Magic's Classical Mythology-inspired plane.
      • Strixhaven: A Curriculum of Chaos, released in December of 2021 and set at the campus of Strixhaven, the greatest magical school in the multiverse.
    • Magic returned the favor with its own D&D card sets: Dungeons & Dragons: Adventures in the Forgotten Realms in July 2021 and Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur's Gate in June 2022.
    • For more information on the planes of Magic, see here.
  • Plus the countless homebrew settings that DMs create.

    Derivative Works 
  • Pathfinder is a continuation of 3.5 mechanics updated and rebalanced a little more (it basically does to 3.5 what 3.5 did to 3.0 and is sometimes dubbed 3.75) with its own campaign setting, produced by Paizo — the former publishers of Dragon and Dungeon magazines before those properties were reassumed by Wizards of the Coast. Pathfinder started out as just a campaign setting in the late days of 3.5 but was published as a separate game to keep the system going after the publication of D&D 4th edition. It surpassed 4th edition in sales and retains a strong following, though the launch of D&D Fifth Edition has swung fans back to the D&D brand. See the article for more details. Pathfinder even has its own spin-off, Porphyra Roleplaying Game, announced by Purple Duck Games after the announcement of Pathfinder 2nd Edition. Mechanically, Porphyra maintains much from 3.5, but nixes Alignments (replacing Paladins with Champions), and makes a number of substitutions in classes and races to make the game more suited to Purple Duck's setting. The creator has said a number of core classes will be reintroduced at a later date with some changes made.
  • 13th Age is a d20-based fantasy game written by Jonathan Tweet (one of the lead designers on 3rd edition) and Rob Heinsoo (lead designer for 4th edition). It's essentially an alternate take on a D&D story featuring house rules from those two designers and high production values.
  • In addition to all this, some die-hard gamers have elected to go back to the roots of D&D, launching an "Old School Renaissance" that consists of playing and writing new adventures for the older editions and using the Open Game License to provide "retro-clone" games that do their best to recreate the feel of the out-of-print older editions for the gaming audience of today. While listing every retro-clone would be near impossible, here's an example list:
    • Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea: Shortened to Hyperborea as of the Third Edition printing. A retro-clone of first edition AD&D created by Jeffrey Talanian, the writer that was helping Gygax produce the Castle Zagyg products for Troll Lord Games. The foreword admits to taking inspiration from the Weird Tales pulp works to the point that it even says the system's alternate name would be Weird Tales: The Roleplaying Game. While humans are the only playable race, they are divided into many different ethnic groups (12 primary groups, with 12 ancillary groups added in 3e). Uses the base four classes (Fighter, Cleric, Magic-User, Thief) and a host of subclasses (18 in 1e, 22 in 2e and 3e). The max class level cap is 12, while spells cap at level 6. Rather than the nine-point alignment chart, it uses the five-point chart introduced in Strategic Review #2.1.
    • Basic Fantasy: A retro-clone of the B/X Basic D&D, this one takes the tack of having the player choose races and classes like in AD&D while keeping things as simple as in OD&D. It also uses ascending AC.
    • Castles & Crusades: Published by Troll Lord Games. Not strictly a retro-clone as it doesn't mimic a specific prior version, but goes for an old-school feel, as outright emulation wasn't considered legally possible at the time (it predates the other retro-clones). The general idea was to keep the updated mechanics from 3rd edition that players liked, while bringing back the more rules-light mechanics 1st edition classes (by leaving out the skill points and stacking bonuses of feats) and keeping paperwork to minimum — skill checks and saving throws are simple d20 + Ability modifier checks, with only a bonus if it's a prime attribute. Also, Gary Gygax approved it, which in itself is a good resume for many old-time players. StarSiege is its sci-fi counterpart on the same SIEGE engine. Quickstart version is downloadable from Troll Lord Games site.
    • Crypts & Things: Created by D101 Games. A variant of the Swords & Wizardry Core system that more mirrors the classic Sword and Sorcery stories of Fritz Leiber, Robert E. Howard, and Clark Ashton Smith, instead of the more traditional Tolkienesque High Fantasy flare. Humans are the only playable race and alignment isn't used. There are only four classes: Barbarian, Fighter, Thief, and Magician. Clerics don't exist, meaning that there's no ability to turn undead, but their typical spells are baked into the Magician's spell list, which is divided into White, Gray, and Black Magic. Hit Points gauge the PC's mental faculties rather than their physical health; once their HP is gone, they take Constitution damage until death. As such, healing magic and potions only heal Constitution, not HP. Wisdom doubles as a character's sanity score, so once their Wisdom hits 0, the character is rendered insane. Magic items carry a hefty penalty more often than not and are very rare. Characters get three Life Events, which dictates their background and grants them specific bonuses.
      • Crypts & Things Remastered: A revised version of the original Crypts & Things. Adds five new "exotic" classes: Beast Hybrid, Disciple, Elementalist, Lizard People, and Serpent Man. Life Events where changed: the Barbarian, Fighter, Sorcerer, Thief, Disciple, and Elementalist get two Life Events (homeland and how they learned their trade), while the Beast Hybrid, Serpent Man, and Lizard People get only one.
    • Dark Dungeons: Named after the infamous Jack Chick tract, this is a very faithful retro-clone of the BECMI/Rules Cyclopedia version of Basic D&D, that covers all five boxed sets (including the Immortals rules, although from RC's Wrath of the Immortals supplement rather than the BECMI box) in one book, merging in the optional rules from the later sets directly into the core rules and including a Spelljammer inspired cosmology.
    • Epées & Sorcelerie: A French adaptation of the original 1974 D&D, which was never released in France. Built around using a 2d6 system — ability scores range from a two to twelve instead of three to eighteen. The overall level cap is twelve, period, for all races, so demihuman races are instead limited by a hit dice cap in the three available classes.
    • Grey Matter and Grey Six: A pair of OD&D clones by Leonaru of the Taxidermic Owlbear blog. Their combined claim-to-fame is the sheer number of player race and class options available to choose from, with Grey Matter having the lion's share between them. Grey Six is more focused on lower-level play, capping out at 6th level for all classes, but having talents that can be taken to help make players a bit more powerful in exchange.
    • Labyrinth Lord: Another retro-clone based on old-school D&D, this one uses the B/X version of Basic D&D as its base. There are also two supplements which recreate Original D&D (Original Edition Characters) and AD&D (Advanced Edition Companion). Goblinoid Games, the publisher, uses a modified version of the rules of this game for their post-apocalypse game called Mutant Future, a close-as-you-can-get-it homage to Gamma World.
    • OSRIC: One of the first "retro-clone" games, this game is a faithful recreation of the first edition of AD&D with a few (extremely minor) differences. It still got all the characteristic traits, from time segments to alignment languages, though the names of Greyhawk NPCs are stripped from spells. Freely downloadable from the developers' site.
    • Scarlet Heroes: Created by Kevin Crawford. Unusual in that it is designed to be played with only one, or at most a couple, of PCs while still being compatible with other old-school material.
    • Swords and Wizardry: Created by Matt Finch of Mythmere Games. One of the more well-known retro-clones, this game goes all the way back to the original 1974 edition of D&D. Notable for condensing the original five saving throws into a single one, although it includes the option to use the original system. You get to choose whether you want to play with descending or ascending AC. Has a number of variants based on the system, such as WhiteHack, White Star, and Crypts & Things. There are four versions of this game:
      • The White Box Rules, which try to closely emulate the rules of the core three LBBs of OD&D. All three classes are capped at 10th level, with the Magic-User having the option to advance up to 16th level for access to 6th-level spells.
      • The Core Rules, which incorporates parts of the Greyhawk Supplement like the Thief class... as of the fourth printing. The first through third printings were more faithful to OD&D and didn't include the Thief class. However, it did include special versions of the Fighter for dwarves (Dwarven Warrior) and the Fighter/Magic-User for elves (Elven Adventurer).
      • The Complete Rulebook, which incorporates most of the content from Supplements 1-3 and some from both Strategic Review and early issues of Dragon, resulting in something of a middle road between OD&D, Basic D&D, and AD&D 1e, making it easily compatible with material from those editions. There's nine available classes and five races, with other possible racial options being found in the various third-party bestiary books released for the system.
      • Swords & Wizardry Light, a version created by Erik "Tenkar" Stiene of Tenkar's Tavern, officially endorsed by Mythmere Games and published by Frog God Games. Essentially what Basic D&D was to AD&D: an easier to play version designed to help people learn the system. It heavily condenses the White Box Rulebook down to 4 print-and-play pages. While Light runs from 1st level to 3rd level, with players converting to one of the three other versions at 4th level, an expanded version called Continual Light extends it to 7th level and introduces subclasses for the default, four classes.
    • Seven Voyages of Zylarthen: A neo-clone of 1974 D&D by Oakes Spalding and published by Campion & Clitherow. Apparently named after "Xylarthen", the example Magic-User character in the original Men & Magic booklet. Removes the Cleric class and replaces it with the Thief class, while granting all classes the ability to Turn Undead while presenting the proper holy symbol and adding the Cleric spells to the Magic-User's spell lists. Priests are instead restricted to solely being NPCs, alongside Druids, Paladins, and Rangers. Thieves have a simpler repertoire of abilities compared to the original's table of rolling percentile dice. Dwarves, elves, and halfings are available as playable races and have the same restrictions they had in 0e, although halflings are restricted to being a Thief instead of a Fighting-Man. The game economy is based on a silver standard, rather than the usual gold standard. Available as either a series of individual print paperback booklets or an all-in-one PDF of the initial four booklets plus the supplement booklet.
    • White Box: Fantastic Medieval Adventure Game: A cleaned-up version of the Swords & Wizardry White Box. Class levels are still capped at 10th level, with the Magic-User capping at 12 instead of 16. Adds the Thief as a class as an option and replaces the host of percentile thieving skills with a simple Thievery ability that's rolled on a d6.
    • WhiteHack: A variant of the Swords & Wizardry White Box system, created by Christian Mehrstam. Classes are defined down to archetypes: the Strong, the Deft, and the Wise. The "Deft" are rangers, monks, thieves, etc., and can "attune" to something so that they use them for extraordinary feats. The "Strong" are soldiers, pit fighters, paladins, etc., and can choose between 8 special combat maneuvers and can "absorb" a single power from a defeated enemy, so long as they're the one to deal the finishing blow. The "Wise" are mages, healers, alchemists, scientists, etc., and can perform "Miracles" at the expense of HP and can't be healed through magical means but heal naturally at twice the normal rate. The Miracles that the Wise use doesn't have to outright be actual magic, they could be alchemical or scientific experiments. Despite the "classes", all characters can choose from joining at least two "groups" that they are a member from lists of species, vocations, and affiliations, leading to hybrid skill sets. Has 4 AC tables: two versions of Ascending AC (one at base 10 and one at base 0) and two versions of Descending AC (one at base 9 and the other at base 10). The level cap is 10, and it's recommended that the players retire their characters at that point and make new ones, although there are a couple optional rules for playing beyond 10th level.
    • White Star: A variant of the Swords & Wizardry White Box system, created by James M. Spahn. Basically Swords & Wizardry In Space, giving a sci-fi spin to the fantasy system. Has 4 humanoid classes (Aristocrat, Pilot, Mercenary, and Star Knight) and three nonhuman classes (Alien Brute, Alien Mystic, and Robot).

Tropes of classes and creatures across editions:


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Dungeons And Dragons, Advanced Dungeons And Dragons


Mark & Ella

At the climax of their session, Zoot (Jaiden) casts a depression spell on Mark Thompson, resulting in him grieving over his ex-wife and child. Zoot then takes this opportunity to disguise themself as Ella, Mark's ex-wife, and tenderly comfort him. ...Just so they can get a point-blank acid blast in. Paul (Alpharad) is left aghast by this insensitive turn of events, while Tholomew (Ranboo) and the Dungeon Master (Slimecicle) break down in laughter over how audacious it is.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (16 votes)

Example of:

Main / CrossesTheLineTwice

Media sources: