John "The Gneech" Robey (the_gneech) wrote,
John "The Gneech" Robey

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Forgetting the Realms

Alas, poor Forgotten Realms! As the flagship setting for Dungeons & Dragons (sorry Greyhawk, that ship sailed long ago, but you're probably better off for it), Faerun has to put up with all the silly nonsense involved with gaming business and politics first, and works as a setting that actually makes sense second. It's been written, revised, folded into meta-settings, folded back out of them again, and blown up so many times, it is to fictional worlds what Bill Murray's character in Groundhog Day is to meteorologists.

As of 5E, the Realms are now in the strange position of being retroactively un-blown-up, as a vague and nebulous event called "The Sundering" attempts to undo all the "spellplague" stuff that ushered in the 4E Realms. Unfortunately for WotC, that puts two of their big D&D pillars into direct conflict, as the tabletop RPG tries to go one way, Neverwinter (the MMO) tries to go another, and the two of them both try to share upcoming crossover events such as The Tyranny of Dragons and next year's Elemental Princes storyline.

(Yes, it galls me that the tabletop RPG is no longer the core of the D&D franchise, the same way it galls me that trick-or-treating is dying a slow death and the Star Trek Abramsverse exists. Unfortunately, it's not in my power to do anything about any of them.)

Anyway, I decided I would look into the most current incarnations of the Realms, particularly the north, as my Silver Coast setting was built entirely around the skeleton of the Starter Set, which is in turn basically the same as the 4E Neverwinter supplement. (As said Neverwinter supplement seems to be one of the few 4E things genuinely liked by people who otherwise hated 4E, and is also the basis for the Neverwinter MMO which I have been casually tooling around in and enjoying, I figured it was worth a look.)

At first I was a little waffley about whether I should homebrew the setting or just stick with Neverwinter/The Sword Coast; but upon further examination, now I'm glad I did. The Forgotten Realms are just too noisy a setting. Cities are packed to the brim with tieflings, drow, and dragonborn; there are more sinister conspiracies than there are commoners. This is a world where everything is huge and epic and exploding and levitating and glowing and zapping and conquering. This is not a world people actually live in.

That said, I'm always happy to kill a FR supplement and take its stuff. The Lost Mine of Phandelver is the basis for my whole new campaign. My setting's nation of Khaldun and FR's Thay were separated at birth, and the Uthgardt and my Calladganger people inhabit the same ecological niche. At least one of the dungeons in Neverwinter is probably going to make an appearance in the Sword Coast at some point, and probably more. But it always requires editing. From any given published adventure or sourcebook, I probably lift one or two really neat images or ideas, and leave the rest of the FR "throw all sorts of fantastical stuff out there and see what sticks" junk on the editing room floor.

-The Gneech
Tags: d&d, dungeons & dragons, gaming, silver coast
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