5 of the Best Cities to Start a Campaign in D&D

Dungeons & Dragons, the iconic tabletop role-playing game, offers adventurers a vast, immersive world filled with magic, mystery, and peril. Choosing the right starting location for your campaign is crucial, setting the tone for the epic adventures. With the right mindset and willingness to explore, there may not be a poor choice to kick off a D&D campaign. Nearly every option offers a unique blend of lore, challenges, and opportunities.

1 Waterdeep – The City of Splendors

Urban Marvels and Political Intrigue
Waterdeep, often dubbed the City of Splendors, boasts a rich tapestry of urban life. The crowded streets teem with diverse races, each contributing to the city’s vibrant culture. The city’s political landscape, dominated by influential guilds and noble houses, provides a dynamic backdrop for intrigue and power struggles. Adventurers can immerse themselves in a world of cloak-and-dagger politics, forging alliances or unraveling conspiracies that may lead them to the Undermountain—a sprawling dungeon beneath the city with untold mysteries awaiting discovery.

Guilds and Factions
The presence of various guilds, each specializing in different trades and skills, offers adventurers a multitude of opportunities. Joining or opposing these guilds can lead to diverse quests and challenges, allowing players to carve their niche in the city’s intricate social fabric. The famed City Watch and the enigmatic Harpers are among the factions players might encounter, each with unique quests and alliances that can significantly impact the overarching narrative.

2 Neverwinter – Jewel of the North

Rebuilding and Redemption
Neverwinter, once devastated by the cataclysmic events of the Spellplague, is a city on the mend. The reconstruction efforts and the emergence of new leadership provide an excellent foundation for a campaign centered around resilience and redemption. Characters may find themselves involved in the city’s restoration, forging alliances, and making decisions that shape the future of the Jewel of the North.

Factions and Rivalries
In Neverwinter, various factions vie for control and influence. The tensions between these groups can catalyze adventure, with the players caught in political machinations. The conflict between the Many-Arrows orc tribe and the city’s inhabitants and the ongoing struggles between the Thayans and the inhabitants of Neverwinter provide ample opportunities for storytelling and conflict resolution.

3 Icewind Dale – The Frozen Frontier

Harsh Environments and Survival
Icewind Dale, with its unforgiving winter landscape, is a test of survival for any adventuring party. The extreme weather conditions, coupled with the isolation of the Dale, present unique challenges for players. Navigating through snowstorms, avoiding avalanches, and finding shelter become integral aspects of the campaign. The focus shifts from political intrigue to raw survival as the party battles the elements and the monstrous denizens of the frozen wilderness.

Ten-Towns and Ancient Secrets
The small communities of Ten-Towns, each with its quirks and challenges, serve as a central hub for adventurers. Beneath the ice and snow lie ancient ruins, buried secrets, and dormant threats awaiting discovery. The party might find themselves entangled in the conflicts between the towns, uncovering long-buried mysteries that connect the Dale to a larger, more sinister plot.

4 Barovia – Domain of Dread

Gothic Horror and Atmospheric Tension
Barovia, enveloped in perpetual mist, sets the stage for a campaign steeped in gothic horror. The oppressive atmosphere and omnipresent sense of dread create an immersive experience for players who enjoy psychological challenges. Encounters with werewolves, zombies, and other supernatural entities contribute to the spine-chilling ambiance, while the imposing Castle Ravenloft constantly reminds players of the campaign’s overarching antagonist—Strahd.

Strahd’s Machinations and Dark Pacts
Strahd, the vampire lord ruling over Barovia, is a formidable adversary whose influence permeates every corner of the land. The party may find themselves entangled in Strahd’s web of manipulation and dark machinations, with every decision and action carrying weighty consequences. The Curse of Strahd storyline offers an intricate narrative that explores themes of tragedy, love, and the pursuit of power, making it a compelling starting point for a campaign.

5 Chult – The Forbidden Jungle

Exotic Jungles and Dinosaur-Ridden Landscapes
Chult, a vast and untamed jungle, is a setting ripe for exploration and discovery. The exotic flora and fauna, including dinosaurs and mythical creatures, starkly contrast a more traditional D&D environment. The dense foliage and labyrinthine paths of the jungle create an immersive experience for players who enjoy the thrill of the unknown. Navigating Chult requires more than combat skills; survival instincts and environmental awareness become critical components of the campaign.

The Death Curse and Omu’s Secrets
The overarching plot of Chult revolves around the mysterious Death Curse, a supernatural affliction that threatens resurrection magic. The quest for a cure leads the party deep into the heart of the jungle, where the lost city of Omu holds the key to unraveling the curse’s origins. Ancient temples, hidden treasures, and encounters with powerful jungle spirits await the party as they navigate Chult’s dangerous landscape.

Choosing the right starting location for a D&D campaign is essential in crafting a memorable and immersive experience for players. Each setting provides a unique blend of challenges, opportunities, and rich lore, molding the stage for epic adventures. Whether your party delves into the urban intrigues of Waterdeep, battles the elements in Icewind Dale, or confronts the gothic horrors of Barovia, the vast and diverse world of D&D awaits, promising endless possibilities for heroic deeds and unforgettable stories. So, gather your party, prepare your characters, and embark on a fantastical journey into the realms of Dungeons & Dragons.

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