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**Guest Post** – The Unforgettable Realms

17 Sep

DnD Dad is a player in my Forgotten Realms D&D 4E campaign, (he is also the DM for the Legacy of the Tarrasque game I play in, and the step-dad to my grand-daughter Caitlyn) and on the way home from todays gaming session he asked me if I would like to write a guest blog about one of my favourite subjects – The Forgotten Realms – which I readily agreed to, so here it is.

Having been a D&D player for over 30 years the majority of my games have taken place in my all time favourite setting, the Forgotten Realms. With its immense size there is something for everyone, from pseudo-medieval (the standard fantasy setting), to Arabian city states, and feudal japanese lands bordered by plains of thundering horse nomads.

The setting has been around for some time and has been through many changes. I first began using it with the 1st Edition boxed set (The grey one with the mounted warrior on the cover) with its pair of booklets detailing people and places and the particular rules associated with the Realms and its multi-part fold out maps. Several add ons in the form of gazetteers gave more detailed information on individual areas, in particular the major city of Waterdeep, and the power-hungry Red Wizards of Thay, along with numerous printed adventures set within these wonderous lands. One of my favourites being “Ruins of Adventure” a series of linked adventures based upon the accompanying pc game and novel “Pool of Radiance”, over the years I had used this book as the basis to start many fledgling campaigns with different groups.

Then along came 2nd Edition and affected the Realms in a big way, shaking even the heavens as the gods were cast down amongst their faithful in what was to become known as the Gods-war. Again a trio of novels and adventure modules were released to tie in these world-changing events (accompanied by the hardbound Forgotten Realms Adventures book) to bring your campaign into the new version of the games rules. Even once the dust settled and the gods resumed their heavenly roles (those that survived) more trouble faced the tranquility of the Realms. A veritable horde of nomadic horsemen came from the east to invade the “civilized lands and another trilogy of modules and novels (can you sense a recurring theme here?) . Then a previously forgotten (ahem) landmass was introduced in the Maztica sub-setting, being loosely based on the Aztec/Mayan culture and the arrival explorers from the more well-known regions (a la conquistadors).

This was about the time that I personally stopped collecting any more Forgotten Realms products, the shelves of my cupboards already groaning under the weight of the massed modules, rule books, boxed sets and novels.

More changes were introduced to the Realms with the change to 3rd Edition (and the following 3.5 revision) but as I have never played that system I must apologise for a lack of accurate knowledge of this particular range, though it was also used for the basis for at least to pc-based games set within the Realms – Pools of Radiance (revisiting the older pc games mentioned above) and the fantastic Neverwinter (this featured several add-on adventures and the ability to create your own and play multiplayer online adventures).

And so we come to the 4E Realms, the game world has undergone some major changes following the cataclysm of the Spellplague. As an avid reader of the R A Salvatore series of novels set in the Realms and following the adventures of Drizzt Do’Urden I was a little shocked at the level of changes being made in the setting and the fact that it was jumping 100 years to the aftermath of the Spellplague with things settling down a little. Then I was given the opportunity to get back into gaming and the new Realms just screamed at me as the perfect place to begin.

The 4e Campaign Guide offers the frontiers town of Loudwater as starting point  complete with several mini adventures to treat/terrorise your fledgling party of players, before sending off into the wider realms. Information on these further lands is kept intentionally sparse so that each DM can tailor his (or her) campaign to their particular taste. For those interested in the direction I have taken see our Obsidian Portal pages http://www.obsidianportal.com/campaigns/loudwater-beyond for details.

Wizards of the Coast (current publishers of all things D&D) had previously said they were releasing minimal content for the various campaign settings but recently released an additional sourcebook based upon the city of Neverwinter and its environs. To celebrate its release there was a world-wide Games Day event, The Gates of Neverdeath, which the majority of our regular group attended (http://vobeskhan.wordpress.com/2011/08/07/neverwinter-games-day-saturday-6th-august/) and which worked as an introduction to the sixth season of their Encounters program (weekly D&D sessions held at gaming stores, consisting of a single encounter per week), this also tied in to the latest of the Drizzt trilogies (called the Neverwinter trilogy, duh) and the all-new Neverwinter pc game (due for imminent release and using the 4e rules system).

And that brings us kicking and screaming up to date, the Realms look to be here to stay though the landscape may have changed and the peoples have come to regard strangers with more suspicion, they remain my personal favourite campaign setting and with the hoard of fond gaming and reading memories they have provided me will never be truly forgotten.

So, to steal a quote from the box that started me, “Swords high till we meet again”.

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