Saturday, April 6, 2024

#AtoZChallenge2024: F is for the Forgotten Realms

 This one might feel like a bit of a recycle; I have been talking about the Forgotten Realms all year long so far and will keep at it. But today is different, I think.

My collection of Forgotten Realms books

For people new to D&D and my blog, the Forgotten Realms is a campaign setting, a world filled with people, creatures, gods, and history for use with the Dungeons & Dragons game. It was created as a world to tell stories in by Ed Greenwood. It was first published for the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st Edition game system back in 1987. I reviewed that set earlier this year. Now I was playing D&D when this game came out; I was about ready to enter my second decade of playing, so I was not a newbie. But I felt the Forgotten Realms was the "Johnny come lately" of D&D, and I really wanted no part of it. 

That was a mistake on my part.

Well...I mean at the time I going to University, my funds were limited and soon I would be HARDCORE in another campaign setting, Ravenloft. I will talk a bit about the Campaign settings for AD&D tomorrow and about Ravenloft on R day. 

So, going back a few A to Z Challenges (2016), I posted about how I was changing my mind about the Forgotten Realms. It actually began back in the 3rd Edition days, and solidified to me in 4th Ed days. Now, in the later days of 5th Edition, I find myself drawn to it more. And I have REALLY had a great time with it. 

The Realms are wildly popular. There is over 35 years of RPG publications, hundreds of books with many as New York Times best sellers, a few dozen or so video games including the amazing Baldur's Gate 3, comics, an actual play podcast (I am sure there are more), and yes the most recent Dungeons & Dragons movie.

I freely admit, I was gearing up for a big push into the Forgotten Realms anyway, but it was Baldur's Gate 3 that really pushed me over. 

Me and the Realms

My regular readers know I have a campaign world that I really love, Mystoerth, which combines aspects of two other published campaign worlds Mystara (published with Basic D&D) and Oerth, the World of Greyhawk (designed for Advanced D&D). These two worlds were smooshed together so my old High School DM and I could have one world. This suited me well for a very long time. 

But there is something to be said about living in a shared world. You can talk to others about adventures in a place, and they have their own stories. It makes the world alive in a way I can't really do with my Mystoerth. 

These blog pages document my attitude shift towards the Realms fairly well. However, they don't really capture how much I disliked them initially, especially in the 1990s. 

I was never a fan of Forgotten Realms. I dismissed it in the 1980s as an "upstart," ignored it in the early 1990s, and actively disliked it in the late 1990s. But it seems my ire was misplaced. Around the time the 3rd Edition Realms book came out, I was beginning to soften my stance. By the 4th Ed era, I considered moving a campaign to the Realms. In the 5th Ed era, I made it official, more or less.

It was my coverage of Ed Greenwood's work in Dragon magazine that changed my mind. 

To this end, I have amassed a small collection of Forgotten Realms books—nothing special, just ones that I have easily come by either at game auctions, Half-Price Books, or, as in the books pictured above, Print on Demand from DriveThruRPG. So, I have been going through them in detail throughout the editions.

The Forgotten Realms to me was always viewed through the eyes of a character, whether that was Elminster or Drizzt or whomever. Likewise, I am going to look into the Realms through the eyes of a new character. So I am opting to also experience the Realms through the eyes of my characters. The one I am starting with is Sinéad. She began as an AD&D 2nd Ed character, moved over to become a very successful Baldur's Gate 3 character, and now she is my "Ego" character for my Realms games.  She even has her own set of dice.

I have some others that I have discussed and there will be more.

So far, this has been nothing short of fantastic. There is not a moment of this new series of posts and these new explorations I do not love. If you are here from the A to Z Blogging Challenge, I recommend coming back to check these out if you want to learn more about the Forgotten Realms. I know a little bit more than you do, so we can all learn together.

Tomorrow is Sunday and normally not a day we post in the A to Z. But I am doing my Sunday Specials again this year and posting about numbers. Tomorrow is AD&D 2nd Edition.

The A to Z of Dungeons & Dragons: Celebrating 50 years of D&D.

This is also my next entry of the month for the RPG Blog Carnival, hosted by Codex Anathema on Favorite Settings.

RPG Blog Carnival


PT Dilloway said...

I played the first four video games back in the late 80s-early 90s. Though since they were some of the first ones they weren't as good as some of the later series.

Jeanine Byers said...

"But it seems my ire was misplaced." - I'm laughing because that statement could be applied to many stories across my many years of life. :) And this post is fascinating to me - one, because I really know less than nothing about D&D, and two, because I am interested in forgotten realms in an entirely different context! Are D&D's forgotten realms like any we non-players would recognize, like Atlantis, Lemuria or Avalon?

Timothy S. Brannan said...

@Jeanine Byres, I know! And in a way yes! The "Forgotten Realms" were "forgotten" by us (the people of modern Earth) when travel to them was easier. In truth I think the better analogy would be to Narnia. A place of magic people can travel too.

In his stories in Dragon magazine, creator Ed Greenwood would have conversations with his character Elminster (akin to the Realms Gandalf or Merlin) where Elminster would visit him in Wisconsin.

I ran into Ed a couple of weeks ago at a convention and he is looking more and more like Elminster everyday. So I think they might be the same person! ;)

Jeanine Byers said...

Wow! Okay so they are magical places you can go to now? That's pretty cool in a game. This is making me think of some kind of LoA board game where you land on a square and set an intention. Land on another and visualize your wish coming true. But maybe you could lose points if you landed on a doubt or limiting belief square. You'd lose points but you would get to identify the doubt and maybe vanquish it in some way. Or that could be another square. I would fall down the well with a game like that.

doccarnby said...

Thanks to my dad playing various D&D CRPGs when I was a kid (I'd sit on a stool and watch over his shoulder), which prompted me to buy one of the books with my own money (Realms of Valor, I still have it), I was primed for the Forgotten Realms when I started playing with 3e. I may not be as passionate as I was as a teen, but I still have a soft spot for it, enough that I have to admit some of my ambivalence for more recent editions is that I didn't particularly care for the way they took the setting.

I wish Drivethru had a POD for the 1e setting book, I would love to pick it up. Sometimes I still think about running a FR campaign. I think I'd set it in Tantras.