Dungeons & Dragons plans to explore parts of the Forgotten Realms influenced by non-European cultures.
During a Twitch stream yesterday, D&D senior director Nathan Stewart noted that there were plans for upcoming books to explore regions of the Forgotten Realms with influences from non-European cultures. Stewart and game designer Kate Welch were holding their monthly "Spoilers & Swag" chat, and Welch noted that she had seen several questions about books that featured areas influenced by real-world cultures from Asia, Africa, or the Middle East.
Stewart noted that Dungeons & Dragons' primary setting of the Forgotten Realms featured different areas influenced by non-European cultures (including the Chultian peninsula, which was explored in the 2017 adventure Tomb of Annihilation.) While the 2019 adventure wouldn't explore one of those areas, plans were underway to explore "lots" of different areas that were influenced by different cultures in multiple 2020 books. Stewart added that Wizards of the Coast were hiring consultants to vet the products and storylines.
While Stewart didn't provide any details about which areas would be explored in upcoming publications, some of the more prominent areas in the Forgotten Realms influenced by non-European cultures include Kara-Tur, Zakhara, and Shaar. Kara-Tur includes nations influenced by various Asian cultures, Zakhara is the location of the Arabian-themed Al-Qadim campaign setting, and Shaar is loosely modelled off of parts of the African savannah.
Several of Dungeons & Dragons' more recent adventures were set in Faerun, which is roughly analogous to medieval Western Europe. Dungeons & Dragons has also stressed that the humans of Faerun are very ethnically diverse.
Stewart and Welch also revealed that D&D's first 2019 book will have nautical themes, and that there are three to four major releases planned for this year. We'll also get an announcement of the 2019 adventure campaign in May during D&D's annual live stream event.