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

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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.
When I run the Realms (mostly for premade adventures) I try to focus on the interplay of organizations, especially mercenaries and retired high-level adventurer types. And also magic unique to the setting, which usually requires going back to novels or past editions and hearty dose of creative license.


I felt that it had enough of a history to provide a strong framework while leaving enough open for there to be a great deal of freedom, as well as more diversity in races and cultures than many of the settings that I had grown up with.
I look at FR in 3 ways, the history, the multiple pantheons and then the setting and locations. You can freely disregard any three (or all) and still have a solid framework to work with. I would bet that no FR campaigns are the same. Honestly 9 out of 10 times if Im running a fantasy RPG game, its FR.


Not your screen monkey (he/him)
Forgotten Realms isn't my favorite D&D setting, but it does have a few good things going for it.
1) It's ubiquitous in D&D materials and that makes it convenient to use. A large proportion of players know at least something about it.
2) There's a lot of variety in it, particularly when there were a lot of regional publications inspired by real world cultures. That injected a lot of interesting variation into the setting and gave DMs fairly easy launching points to engage in further research.
3) It has Kara-Tur appended to it. I ran a lot of OA back in the 1990s and it's one of my favorite regional settings.


Dragon Lover
I have never played in the Forgotten Realms setting before, and none within my group particularly favor it either. However there is a lot of various lore bits that I have taken and adapted into my world. So at the very least it's great as a source to mine ideas from.


I think the thing I see getting illuminated here is the setting's greatly interconnected web of countries and organizations. Even if the setting did not publish any plot (which I think it would have been better for), with most of the places and groups it only needs a quick glance to spot multiple opportunities for potential plots. By default, the network of interconnections is under tension, and it's all just waiting to snap at whatever point you want to push. There is enough information on most of the power groups involved that you have a pretty good idea what they want and how they will behave when a conflict erupts into violence.
While there are many groups and conflicts that I have no interest in using in a campaign I run or would want to play with, I usually still think that I could come up with an idea for a big fancy adventure pretty quickly.

Perhaps that's the biggest lesson to learn from Forgotten Realms for worldbuilders working on a similar scale.
With FR there is soooo much stuff that I can just remove what I don't like and end up with something pretty good.
My current campaign setting worldbuilding is basically taking my favorite 10% of AD&D Forgotten Realms and welding them together into one coherent sub-continent.

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