Dungeons and Dragons has made a huge comeback over the last few years, and it was already the best-known tabletop RPG before that. Tons of new players are hopping on the Dungeons and Dragons bandwagon all the time, but there's a long history to the game, and that means there are a dizzying number of possible worlds to explore.
So many, in fact, that new players may find themselves confused over which campaign setting to go with. Of course, 5th edition has a default setting, which makes things a little easier--but with the increased number of old campaigns being adapted for 5e, the list of settings also expands. So, here's a comprehensive list of every major setting players are likely to come across in their 5e campaign.
Let's start with 5e's default setting and by far its most popular: the Forgotten Realms setting is the one players picking up a D&D starter set will find themselves immersed in. A high-fantasy world based on 13th or 14th century Earth, the Forgotten Realms has everything players would expect from D&D: magic, monsters, gods...and actual dragons. A campaign in the Forgotten Realms most likely means exploring the continent of Faerûn, for which there's a near-endless supply of content and ongoing support.
But now it's time for the other campaign settings, starting with the world of Eberron. While it's not officially part of the game just yet, there's still source material for Eberron; it's a usable 5e setting and continually developing. Interested players can pick up The Wayfinder's Guide to Eberron, and another sourcebook called Eberron: Rising from the Last War is coming soon. Eberron is essentially a fantasy-steampunk mashup, with magic-powered machinery and its own set of playable races like Changelings, Kalashtar, and the almost robotic Warforged. For players who enjoy a little swashbuckling and noir intrigue with their dungeons, Eberron is the setting to try.
Greyhawk is an original creation of Gary Gygax, and the first published setting for Dungeons and Dragons. It's very similar to the Forgotten Realms (another medieval fantasy world) though generally darker in tone, as Oerik, the continent where most Greyhawk campaigns take place, is near-constantly in a state of chaos and war. Greyhawk was the default setting for 3e, and although it's not officially supported in 5e, players might still find themselves there: one of the more recently published 5e adventures, Ghosts of Saltmarsh, is adapted from an old adventure set there. As with all official adventures, there are recommendations on where to place Saltmarsh in other settings--but players could always stay and get a feel for Greyhawk too.
When it comes to Ravenloft, fans of gothic horror will meet their match. Set in an extradimensional space called the Demiplane of Dread, Ravenloft is actually linked to the Forgotten Realms through the Ethereal Plane. This world is ruled by the evil vampire lord Strahd, and yes, players can absolutely go toe-to-toe with him in the 5e campaign Curse of Strahd. It's easy to get lost in the devouring mists of Castle Ravenloft but near-impossible to leave, and players will find more than their share of darkness. Ravenloft is a perfect setting for Halloween...but there's no wrong time for a good scare.
The high-magic fantasy world of Ravnica was originally made for the Magic: The Gathering collectible card game, and in 2018, The Guildmaster's Guide to Ravnica brought that world to 5e. This one is more along the lines of Greyhawk and Eberron in that it isn't connected to the Forgotten Realms; instead, Ravnica stands as a city of titanic proportions that spans the entire planet.
Now let's move into the realm of less-supported settings with Dragonlance. This one, much like Greyhawk, has no recent 5th edition adventures to pick up. Rather, in an agreement between Wizards of the Coast and Sovereign Press, there's a guide to converting older books from every different D&D edition to the rules of 5e. Dragonlance is an old favorite among the settings, largely due to the popular book series based on it, and players who bring their campaigns to Krynn will find it suited to tales of world-shaking wars and epic fantasy.
Dark Sun is another old favorite, but unlike any of the aforementioned settings, there's no current 5e support for it. However, Dark Sun still makes this list, as many 5e modules do contain tips for porting the adventure to Athas--and even better, Dark Sun's creators have said they do plan to add more support in the future. So for the sake of future campaigns, consider Dark Sun and the dying desert world of Athas; a dark, gritty post-apocalyptic fantasy. The gods are gone, resources are scarce, and many of the classic races are extinct or warped from their pursuit of survival. In short, players wanting to live their best Mad Max lives will go wild in the Dark Sun setting.
Many other settings exist but have yet to be translated for 5th edition in any form, and in the meantime, players have plenty of options. If this list proves nothing else, it should be apparent that players have more choice than they probably realize when selecting a world for their adventures. But some players might be wondering: how would one connect these worlds and create a campaign that spans across the multiverse when there are no "official" connections from Faerûn to Eberron or Greyhawk to Ravnica?
Well, there are actually many solutions; a trip to Sigil, the City of Doors, or a brief stay at the World Serpent Inn...or the DM could just create a portal and drop it in the area of their choice. That's the beauty of Dungeons and Dragons, after all. Anything is possible.