July 18, 2024
Dnd In The National Parks

5E Inspired by the National Parks

DnD 5E inspired by the national parks? Yes! America’s national parks are as beautiful, wild and exciting as any setting in a D&D adventure.

John Lemay, a long-time D&D fan and lover of the great outdoors has written five D&D 5e adventures that take players inside five national parks. The series is called 5e Inspired by the National Parks (5EINPs). 

Dnd 5E Inspired By The National Parks

5E Inspired by the National Parks

John Lemay has written and published five D&D modules that take place in some of the most popular U.S. national parks. The adventures are each billed as “quests of adventure and learning.” The series is known as 5EINPs (5E Inspired by the National Parks).

Currently, Lemay has published five different adventures:

  1. Everglades
  2. Yellowstone
  3. Great Sand Dunes
  4. Bryce Canyon
  5. Sequoia 

He is currently working on another one, for Joshua Tree. 

Which parks to cover were decided with help from members of Lemay’s Facebook group. Each park module contains a package of digital content for either online or in-person games. The package includes battle maps, original monsters, box text narrated by a voice actor, point-of-view art of the main battle map, and a video introduction to the main battle map.

The project is quite unique in that it is both D&D-level fun and educational.

Dnd In The National Parks
John Lemay is shown with his family during a recent month-long camping trip to several national parks. Image courtesy John Lemay.

The Idea – DnD Inspired by the National Parks

Lemay, who lives in Colorado, has been playing a long-standing family game with a brother and cousin who live in California. They play online.

It is a bit harder to collaboratively tell stories when playing online. I was also tired of the standard fantasy tropes and a bit annoyed that many publishers were making black and white maps. For a virtual tabletop I find a color map really helps with immersion. Then COVID hit and I was stuck inside – a lot.
– John Lemay
Author of 5EINPs

The only exception to Lemay’s being stuck inside was a month-long family camping trip to some national parks. It was so much fun, visiting all 63 national parks went on the family bucket list.

That’s how 5E Inspired by the National Parks came about. Lemay even made a video explaining how the idea was born and put it up for his first Kickstarter.

Lemay’s background

At 48 years of age, Lemay lives in Monument Colorado, He and his wife Tara have three kids: Eva (6), Luke (4), and Abby (2). He is a veteran of the United States Army who served for 25 years and 7 months. Currently, Lemay is using a VA program to go to school at Denver Seminary.

Good Storytelling – DnD Inspired by the National Parks

Lemay admits his series is unique, in that it uses the National Parks as the settings. But he stressed it is still very much in keeping with all great storytelling.

Honestly there is nothing new in doing storytelling inspired by the real world. Further there is nothing original in storytelling inspired by nature and the great outdoors. All I did was bound my creativity by being explicit that my projects are inspired by specific locations: the national parks. To my knowledge, no one is using this project for an official educational purpose.
John Lemay
Writer, father, adventurer

Fountain Paint Pot Nps Jacob W. Frank
The Fountain Paint Pot in Yellowstone. Image courtesy Jacob W. Frank and NPS

Love of camping and the outdoors

Lemay loves the outdoors and camping and was involved with Scouting in both middle and high school. When he graduated from high school he joined the Army.

“I found the Army has a rare gift for making the outdoors both miserable and dangerous,” he said. “But I still appreciated nature. The most amazing night sky I’ve ever seen was at a Forward Operating Base in Afghanistan.”

Now, he and his wife Tara strive to take their three children on a month-long camping trip each summer. Last summer, they visited Death Valley, Pinnacles, Sequoia, King’s Canyon, Yosemite and Great Basin National Parks.

Quests of Adventure and Quests of Learning

The goal for all this is to inspire Lemay’s audience’s interest in the national parks and nature. In each adventure, there is a Quest of Learning that consists of video clips, park service articles and Army field manuals. In some of Lemay’s recent shorter projects, he includes information about the geology, animals and plants of the park.

Quests Of Adventure And Learning

Feedback on 5E Inspired by the National Parks

Lemay said his intention in writing 5E Inspired by the National Parks is not necessary for it to be used by educators. He simply hopes to inspire other to learn about, and hopefully visit, some of our national parks.

The real world knowledge a player gains will give their character an in-game advantage. In many ways it is a circle of inspiration – the parks inspire my content and writing and I design my content to inspire other’s interest in the parks.
– John Lemay


Staying connected with those who support his goal of inspiring dungeon delvers to get to know the national parks is important to Lemay. He has a Facebook group, which is actually how he ended up with his list of specific parks to highlight. He took a poll.

Newest Kickstarter – “Firefall” for Yosemite

He is currently working on an adventure for Yosemite, with a well-supported Kickstarter campaign for Yosemite: A 5E Park. The digital content pack includes three battle maps (each with eight versions), a four-page pdf write-up, 41 png map objects and five png animal. The maps, dubbed Firefall, are inspired by Yosemite’s Horsetail Falls. Lemay explained that, for two weeks in February, when conditions are perfect, the sunset creates the illusion that Horsetail Fall is on fire.

5E Inspired By The National Parks

How to Get 5E Inspired by the National Parks

Lemay’s 5E Inspired by the National Park series for D&D is available on his website and on Shard Tabletop. Shard specializes in third-party content for D&D only and is a fully inclusive VTT system.

Readers can also get a FREE battlemap by onedaygm inspired by Badlands National Park.

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Carla Bumstead

Carla Bumstead serves as Managing Editor/Publisher of Dungeon Cooperative. She has been an editor and community journalist for over 20 years.

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