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Best way to run 1st edition Forgotten Realms? (That isn't AD&D)


Over the last years, I've come to really appreciate the originally released version of the Forgotten Realms before it got a pretty major overhaul for the new sanitized 2nd edition of AD&D. And occasionally I find my self seriously considering to running a campaign using the Grey Box and various of the FR sourcebooks.

However, I really don't want to touch AD&D with a ten foot pole. That system is such a convoluted and incomprehensible mess. OSRIC is better organized, but still basically the same game. There are plenty of other editions that cover the most important classes and races of AD&D 1st edition and all of them would probably "work".
But what do you all think would be the best pick to get a campaign close to an AD&D 1st edition experience without actually being AD&D?

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Elder Thing
My vote is for Hyperboria or Dungeon Crawl Classics. Both will take a bit of work (or not, depending on how you want to approach it and how bogged down you want to get), but I think both will capture what you're looking for.


One option could be to use Old School Essentials with the "advanced rules". It would be easy, if desired, to boost a bit the characters to bring them more in line with AD&D power level: increase HD size, grant clerics and druids bonus spells, etc.
That's what I would do.

If you want to get a bit more of the "epic heroes" feel rather than "scrappy mercenaries", simply add 5e's death save mechanic and/or the short and long rests mechanics or some variation of them.

Simon Miles

Creator of the World of Barnaynia FRPG setting
I agree about Osric and Old School Essentials Advanced being a far easier and clearer way of playing the classic AD&D, and everything is 100% compatible both ways IMHO.
As for a setting with the feel of the original game, might I humbly point you here... Www.dunrominuniversitypress.co.uk
The game setting is specifically designed to have the classic look and feel of the original game. There's even areas that the original TSR scenarios can be played (Slavers, Saltmarsh, Giants and so on). The world as a whole is very different but at the human scale it's very similar to Greyhawk or Forgotten Realms in many ways.

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
I'm unclear what it is you are trying to accomplish, @Yora ....

The Grey Box is (IMO) the best campaign setting for the Realms, especially if you prefer it to remain somewhat mysterious. That said, the best thing about it is the lore. You can run the lore with anything you want- including 5e or any other system.

It seems that a lot of the advice is geared toward retroclones of various kinds. That's cool- I love them. But if that's the case, just choose the retroclone or OSR game that you like the best. But if your issue is not just with AD&D (as you state, you don't like OSRIC because of the system), then maybe you just don't want to play that style of game? In which case, see the paragraph I wrote above.

TLDR; if you just want the lore, take it and run the system you like best.

Li Shenron

I am with Snarf on this one... surely the rules system DOES have an effect on the mood of the game, but I would not be afraid to simply choose a system I like and a fantasy setting I like and combine the two. Especially a ruleset like 5e works quite well as a 'toolbox' where you can leave stuff out if it gets in the way of the setting, and is not too difficult to create new material for.

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