When it comes to campaign ideas for Dungeons & Dragons, video games are a great source of inspiration. Dungeon Masters creates new religions, political structures, and entire landscapes from scratch, so having different reference points for world building is a must. Video games also serve gamers who want to break familiar fantasy tropes with their character’s backstory or by providing unique templates for protagonists.
Fortunately, the Fifth Edition system is flexible enough to flourish wherever it is planted, allowing countless beloved classics and their settings to be given new life with a unique story. So why not have Dungeon Masters wield the powers of Splicers as players crawl through Rapture’s winding corridors?
7 assassin’s Creed
Transport players to an unforgettable era of history. The Assassin’s Creed series has had numerous entries, from Vikings to pirates to ancient Egyptians. If you or your Dungeon Master are history buffs, this is where you will shine best.
Consider setting the campaign in the present day, similar to the series, with an overarching story that takes place in and out of the past. Spellcasting and focuses can be scientific devices developed by Abstergo or Pieces of Eden that you or your ancestors have gotten your hands on. Perhaps your group is a test group of civilians forced to venture into the distant memories of the ancestors.
6 Silent Hill
The horror settings in Dungeons & Dragons are often confined to the fearsome realm of Ravenloft, but if you or your Dungeon Master feel comfortable enough to spice up the core aspects of the game (races, classes, and spells), an accidental trip to Silent Hill, Maine could be in your future. Ravenloft and Silent Hill Domains share similarities, as they are both projections of the psyche and the monsters that terrorize the area are manifestations of personal will or negativity. And do not forget that both share a passion for the phenomena related to fog.
Assembling an adventuring party seems counter-intuitive in the game, as it’s rare to run into more than one person at a time in Silent Hill, let alone a combat-ready party. Still, talented DMs could possibly find a reason. There’s a lot of diversity within the subclasses, and half the fun is seeing players get creative in what they come up with.
5 old school runescape
The quirkiness and humor of the world of RuneScape are a staple. Still, the series’ dedication to high fantasy, even with frequent doses of modern jokes and situations, transports players into a comfortable sense of wanderlust with enough familiarity to feel eternally relevant. If your Dungeons & Dragons group often creates a mix of comedy and fantasy exactly like RuneScape, setting your next campaign in Gielinor might be exactly the kind of creative freedom you need.
A big focus of RuneScape is leveling various abilities. Let’s be honest; everyone will become wizards, rangers, and fighters in various classes. But homebrew rules for the many non-combat skills will come in handy by incentivizing players to cut down trees or fish. In the same way, the players’ downtime activities between adventures become much more a part of the experience (like a mastered cooking skill results in a free Heroes’ Feast release). In terms of the plot, perhaps the Dungeon Master sends the group to kill Elvarg. the dragon, launching a quest straight from the source material, or perhaps Zamorak has new plans to wreak havoc and destruction on the land!
With an art deco aesthetic, haunting melodies from a bygone era, and crazed maniacs out to rip you apart, Rapture’s atmosphere is unmistakable. Match players with a new Big Daddy model, or perhaps the Splicers continued to evolve far beyond their past iterations. The surrounding marine life also makes for a terrifying challenge, as players must cross from one district of Rapture to another.
Tonics, EVE, and ADAM should all play a vital role in the player experience, especially spell casting. The multiverse theory presented in BioShock: Infinite can also create a unique mechanic or story that overwhelms players. Perhaps failing death saves causes an alternate version of the deceased character to appear, helping the party once again or hunting them down for letting them die. And if you don’t mind a metaplot, maybe the desktop version of Bioshock is just another Lighthouse.
3 mass effect
For tables that can’t get enough of Spelljammer, the Mass Effect series is the perfect setting. Even a campaign set around the Citadel, with its political intrigue, gang violence, and secrets left behind by its original builders, the Protheans. The Citadel is also a great launching point for deep space missions to alien planets, and what part doesn’t want a spaceship?
For classes, don’t be afraid to limit player options in Session 0. Psionic subclasses featured in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything are similar to using Biotics, Artificers are tremendously relevant (as they are in most 5e shots modern times) and a warlock could easily be someone indoctrinated by the reapers. See the Dungeon Master’s Guide for optional rules on alien technology and firearms.
two elden ring
With FromSoftware’s new world form still fresh in the minds of many, The Lands Between offers a combat-focused setting for a Dungeons & Dragons game for players with little interest in social interaction. Groups enjoying a monster of the week experience can fill an entire session with a trip to an Evergaol, and dungeon explorers can sample the dangerous tombs of heroes found throughout the world.
Magical items will likely want the most significant overhaul in relevance, as players should loot items specific to the person or creature they’ve killed, following FromSoftware tradition. The narrative of your journey to the Midlands can go back in time, with players serving under Godfrey, conquering the various threats to the Golden Order. Or Dungeon Masters can choose a new circumstance, perhaps a look at the Middle Lands after their own Tarnished claimed ultimate victory and what threats now loom on the horizon for the newly established reign.
The world of Tamriel and the Elder Scrolls series was initially inspired by pen-and-paper games like Dungeons & Dragons, so adapting a campaign to the game’s setting is simple and natural. Tamriel has a long list of potential enemies and unexplained phenomena (such as the disappearance of the Dwemer). Dungeon Masters can also use Dragon Breaks to recreate their version of a previously told Elder Scrolls story.
Customization of characters in the series is undoubtedly a signature role, so Dungeon Masters should seek to provide players with something unique in this process, such as the sign a character was born under. And, of course, it wouldn’t be a Tamriel adventure if players didn’t start the campaign as prisoners.
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