• The VOIDRUNNER'S CODEX is coming! Explore new worlds, fight oppressive empires, fend off fearsome aliens, and wield deadly psionics with this comprehensive boxed set expansion for 5E and A5E!

D&D 5E 5th edition Forgotten Realms: Why can't you just ignore the lore?

billd91

Not your screen monkey (he/him)
He had never read the lore entry for the city--and didn't care to--it was just a stopping point for us to get our next quest or maybe hang out in a bar and participate in a tavern brawl (my Cleric's associates were not nearly as LG as he).

I learned three things:
1) never assume the DM is using the lore
2) don't be the jerk that looks up the lore; ask what your character knows and make an appropriate check--it helps no one to meta-know lore that may or may not apply
3) there is nothing wrong with not using the lore; it was a great campaign and we all had a blast!

To clarify: I almost always use the lore; as a DM I tend to think of myself as more of a guide to the world than the "god" who controls it and like it when the pieces all fit together. I would deeply love having a new Forgotten Realms guide with all of the oodles of lore its known for.

This is one of those challenges of using a published setting. If you tell players you're using it, fans of the setting may be inspired to build up their familiarity with the setting in an effort to help enrich the game's immersiveness. And if you're not using much of it, you risk disappointing those players. I find that particularly unfortunate because I would love for more players to take that initiative and learn about settings themselves, engage with them, rather than just using them for resupplying stops on the way to the next dungeon.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Evhelm

Explorer
This kind of thing comes with the (FR) territory. The PCs always have to handle the big threat because the major movers and shakers are too busy handling the Even Bigger Threat Nobody Knows About (tm).

Definitely! I don't know if I read this somewhere or if I've just always thought of it in these terms, but the Big Guns of the FR world seem to be in a sort of M.A.D. balance. The PCs are so "powerful" because they don't fit into that mold and can therefore act as free agents, actually enacting change in the world.

The few big Realms events I know of seemed to have happened when the major players ignored the balance and struck against one another; the results are often horrifying, always world-changing, and lead to a period where the balance is "restored" at least temporarily.

That's actually one of the things I like about the Tyranny of Dragons adventure path is that (so far as I've read--which is only through HotDQ) none of the "Even Bigger Threat Nobody Knows About (tm)" have stepped in, and none of the heroes have either; the goal is lofty, but its not being done by the Big Guns: the plan (on both sides of the alignment spectrum) is being carried out by "lesser" heroes so that the Big Guns don't get involved and cause another catastrophe. As the big evil goals come closer to being achieved, I suspect that big good powers will start stepping in (because the risk of intervention becomes less than the risk of allowing the heroes/PCs to fail), causing big evil powers to step in as well. Of course, by then PCs should be well into the Rise of Tiamat section and should be on their way to being Big Guns themselves!
 

ruleslawyer

Registered User
The thing is that unless you're running the campaign as a war of all against all, you don't even need to resort to the MAD formulation, assuming we're just talking about the big-name NPCs. (The abundance of high-level random NPCs is a separate problem and one that I've definitely resolved with the old meat ax.)

The realms is a big setting and as such the high-level NPCs already have stuff to do (in addition to acting as sources of advice and support for PCs). Elminster travels the realms AND other planes, sets and maintains certain wards in and around myth drannor and the epven court, and at least directs some Harper activities in addition to being a visible source of protection for Shadowdale. Khelben does Harper stuff in the North as well as keeping the peace in Waterdeep, supporting the Lords Alliance, and dealing with the machinations of the Shadow Thieves and various high-level rogue wizards and liches. The Simbul supports the interests of Aglarond across the Realms while *also* standing (outnumbered) against the Red Wizards. And so on. The main reason not to have these characters around is if you want your PCs doing the specific things that those characters are doing, and you want them doing so without help. The *advantage* of having these NPCs around, in addition to acting as sources of plots, is to let the PCs feel like it's okay to travel to mulhorand, take a week's rest in Sembia, or go treasure-hunting in Anauroch without the world coming down on their heads. It's something that may pose problems in an adventure path style of play (although if you look at Age of Worms and Savage Tide they both deal with this issue), but it works for a lot of campaign styles.
 

Evhelm

Explorer
The thing is that unless you're running the campaign as a war of all against all, you don't even need to resort to the MAD formulation, assuming we're just talking about the big-name NPCs. (The abundance of high-level random NPCs is a separate problem and one that I've definitely resolved with the old meat ax.)

The realms is a big setting and as such the high-level NPCs already have stuff to do ....

Exactly. I didn't mean to suggest that the whole world was at war, but rather that no matter how high a level the NPC is, they have something to focus their attention on: other high level NPCs, for example.

While it's true that these NPCs are powerful enough to stomp lowby PCs into dust, they usually don't have a reason to do so, and even when they do they risk distracting their attention from whatever their own concerns and goals are. (And a powerful good NPC is likely a big risk factor for the evil NPC's goals.)
 

GSHamster

Adventurer
Heh, one thing you could do when the PCs go to the high-level NPCs for help is to have those NPCs give them even more work.

"Sorry, I have to deal with Big Bad X. However, since you will be in the area, do me a favor, and take out one of Big Bad X's side-operations/apprentices/minor schemes. Thanks, I'll owe you one."

It reinforces that the high-level NPCs are too busy, folds the PCs into the greater game, and gives them more adventuring opportunity.
 

The problem though is that what you suggest *isn't* "Ultimate" Forgotten Realms. It's a Realms in name only, as you are stripping away much of what makes the Realms the Realms in the first place. So yeah, clearing the deck as it were might work for you personally... but it's not the kind of product that WotC can produce that will satisfy most people.

Ultimate as in the story inprint at marvel comics where they take the characters back to basics and retell stories with easier buy in from new readers...

I would love to hear what I said that would "Not make the realms the realms"

This kind of thing comes with the (FR) territory. The PCs always have to handle the big threat because the major movers and shakers are too busy handling the Even Bigger Threat Nobody Knows About (tm).
let me tell you why I HATE this idea...

because if we win and the other guys lose then bad things happen, if we loose and they win they can come clean up our mess... it robs a lot of agency and urgency to always be told that yours is at best the second most important emergency right now...

Hindsight 20/20 but that was an opportunity for the party to help find out why her powers were so diminished. Perhaps the red wizards had found some way to sever her connection to Mystra, and she needed their help to restore it.
um and how would I ever know that... I didn't digest the entire book I had no idea symbol was a chosen until pointed out mid game...
As a longtime FR DM, you always have to be unafraid to change things when necessary, because there's always going to be some nugget of lore you didn't know about lurking out there like a landmine, waiting to blow up your campaign.
as a longtime DM I can avoide that landmine by simply running ANY OTHER setting
 

Nebulous

Legend
At my table I take ignoring the lore to the extreme.

I'm a new D&D player and DM, and know absolutely nothing about any of the existing settings. I use the FR map as nothing more than a set of location names and distances between them. I care just enough about the 'proper' lore to look it up online and laugh at how much I am changing it.

For instance, while running HotDQ my players needed to get up to Waterdeep to deliver something (they went epically off the rails). I showed them the map of the Sword Coast so they could see where they were and plot a course. They noticed a coastal town called Candlekeep and asked if they would be able to grab a ship there. Not knowing the lore, I said 'sure, that sounds fine'. In my mind it became a port trading town. After the game I checked online to see what it actually is. Since my players are looking for boats and not wizard libraries I am perfectly comfortable changing the lore.

It is worth mentioning that my players are just as new as I am and know even less about settings.

And that is HOW you're supposed to play D&D! Good job my friend. You're right, ignore the lore, use what you like and forget the rest. The maps of the Realms were always my favorite parts anyway, and the sheer size dotted with interesting locales begging to be explored.
 

Derren

Hero
After the game I checked online to see what it actually is. Since my players are looking for boats and not wizard libraries I am perfectly comfortable changing the lore.

Sounds like a very boring campaign when the world reshapes itself to always give what the players/pcs need or want and the only challenges seemingly are those you specifically put into and plan for. Where is the dynamic in that?
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
Ultimate as in the story inprint at marvel comics where they take the characters back to basics and retell stories with easier buy in from new readers...

My mistake. I thought you meant ultimate as in "the best" or "the most", not the Marvel line. I was thinking you were saying the most Realmsian Forgotten Realms would involve the stuff you mentioned.

I would love to hear what I said that would "Not make the realms the realms"

Well, that's easy-- reducing the power of the wizards, reducing the power of all the NPCs for that matter... the uber-powerful NPCs are characters in the Realms, and if you nerf or eliminate them, you remove a major facet of what the Realms are. Now would the Realms be perhaps better served by not having those high level NPCs around? Perhaps. But a lower-powered land would not be the true Realms.
 

goldwyrm

First Post
I started running FR as a setting a few years ago in my 3.0 campaign, only recently switching to 5th. Prior to FR it was homebrew high fantasy settings. Two players who had read the FR books were interested in a setting they could relate to without having to ask about every little thing. I honored the request and gave it a try. The other 6 players could care less. I do pick and choose material though I try to retain the general themes of a given geography and the major cities. The rest is for me to fill in, especially the smaller towns not on the map. I created a lot of my own Underdark setting and NPC personalities for the characters to interact with or as adversaries. In my spin on FR, there are still many ruins and dungeons that time and lore have forgotten. It works for us, and that's all that matters.

All that said, I'd love to have a thick book full of rich FR material. It's a resource, not a script. I'll just choose what applies and leave what I don't like, just like I'd do with monsters I don't find a use for in the MM.
 

Remove ads

Top