D&D General Forgotten Realms fans, what do you like most about the setting?

I am curious to know what people who enjoy reading about, playing in, and/or running the Forgotten Realms setting like the most about it. What elements of this massive kitchen-sink setting really click for you, personally? What do you find most interesting or inspiring?

I am aware that some detractors would answer, "Nothing," or, "I like how Event X got rid of all the old stuff I didn't like." I acknowledge those opinions as valid. For the purpose of this discussion, though, I'm more interested in learning the opinions of people who are generally enthusiastic about the Forgotten Realms setting.

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I’m doing prep for a Dale Lands Campaign at the moment and I think what the Forgotten Realms does better than any other setting is depth. It’s got history, it’s got change (too much change some would argue). Kingdoms rise and fall and the PCs can interact with different elements of that.

For instance in a Shadowdale/Daggerdale campaign you have the influence of Myth Drannor at its heyday; The Fall of Myth Drannor; The Lands under Shadow when the drow ruled; The Ancient Netherese; The kingdom of Hlontar; The Dwarf Kingdom of Tethyamar; The Rule of Colderan Morn; the Zhentarim Occupation and their subsequent eviction; all the way up to the resettlement of Myth Drannor.

All these bits are optional, but you can pick and chose what you want from this amazing layered history to create a level of verisimilitude in your campaign that would be extremely difficult otherwise.


I like its vastness and variety while maintaining a very high level of detail. Or at least, until 3.5E. I didn't like the Spell Plague and I don't like that the 5E FR are limited to the Sword Coast or little more (small forays into the Underdark or Chult, but nothing more). I would like to know what happened in Cormyr, the Valleys, Thay, etc.


The one thing I like the most about FR is the ability to open pretty much any book, blindly point to a paragraph and you can come up with a campaign based off that alone.

I also like that even if it's considered kitchen sink each area is unique in some way. If you're running a campaign in a specific area as there are so many politics going on its hard to ignore the surrounding areas due to how their influence. If you're running a Dalelands campaign you can't ignore the impact that the Moonsea, Cormyr or Sembia has on the area, not to mention Cormanthor/Cormanthyr and Myth Drannor. Along with Waterdeep, the Dales have always been a favorite area of mine.


Reeks of Jedi
It's full of lore and story and adventure. And to back it all up are souce books, adventures, and novels. And of course video games and a movie.

Same could be said of Star Wars etc. It's a place you can read about and see maps of and citizens you can encounter.

It's living and breathing and exciting. It's not just a game world, it's a world you can visit like going to another country.

That's why I think WotC is failing so hard on the lore front. Lore is important. World building is important. Things I know thanks to years of reading Faerun stuff ENHANCES my WotC product adventure. Thanks to what I've learned about Icewind Dale via the novels made the recent WotC Icewind Dale campaign so much better.


That's why I think WotC is failing so hard on the lore front. Lore is important.
This is exactly what has turned me off to WotC D&D/5E, its boring to the point I've quit playing it. They have such a narrow-minded approach to what products they release. We'll never see another Dalelands or Cormyr, etc sourcebook which was so essential for a great campaign setting. I kind of feel sorry for new players that have come into the game with 5E and all the lore get is from the SCAG and adventures.


I created a word doc that compiled all the NPCs of Shadowdale I'll post for you.
That’s awesome. Thanks for sending! I’m planning a sandboxy campaign.

Starting in Shadowdale to run the Sword of the Dales trilogy/Doom of Daggerdale stuff with Forge of Fury thrown in as Tethyamar if the PCs want to follow that up. Then the Zhent invasion of Shadowdale and the weave corruption.

The plan was to have a before and after Zhentarim occupation description for each key location. With changes depending on whether they kick the Zhents out or not. If they aren’t bothered with overthrowing them, there will be plenty of other nasties - Gothly, the drow of Szith Morcane, Vampires, A Mage Lord, Cult of Shar and a dragon to contend with.

If the PCs are enjoying it and want to carry on past level 10 I’ll throw in Night Below having already seeded some disappearances early on. Elminster will be gone pretty early on. Kidnapped and dragged to great Shaboath. The mystery of where the old goat has gone will be a big joke of the campaign - until the PCs realise how bad things are!

Want to feature Myth Drannor too but need to think about how.

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