D&D 5E How do you feel about the Forgotten Realms?

What is your attitude toward the Forgotten Realms?

  • Poll closed .


I like the world, but I dislike how rigid the world is due to the fact that Greenwood and Salvatore can move beyond there initial characters.

Explanation: 4E came and forced them to move on with their characters by introducing the spellplague and ~100 years advancement in the timeline. They did bother to adept and create new characters, new epic story lines. But instead they chose to plan a retcon after 4E. Thus we will get a Sundering, undoing the spellplague, most likely.

Just let Mystra finally die, let Elminster die of old age, show us how Drizzt moves on as all of his old companions pass on of old age. Tell us interesting stories of war and intrigue between certain countries. Permanently move some borders, build up new interesting leaders and rulers. Show us the rise of new cults, religions and organizations....

No, we will just get the same old, Mystra, Elminster, Drizzt stories...

"Game of Thrones" up Faerune...make it interesting...make it dynamic...realistic...instead of static.
(I had these thoughts way before I knew of Game of Thrones) :)

log in or register to remove this ad

Jan van Leyden

Back in the days I used to like the Realms, but never ran a game in it. It was a nice change having more details than for the '83 Greyhawk set.

Come the 2nd edition mass of books and the myriads of novels, it became unmanageable. When thinking about starting a new campaign and considering FR as setting, I didn't even know what to read and how to run a game.

Furthermore, a huge gap would have opened between GM and player knowledge about the world; none of my players was much interested in reading up on game world stuff. Now I could have used one of the basic Camapign Settings for my purposes, but what would I have gained compared to Greyhawk?

During 3rd edition times I ran three campaigns in the Realms, none of it diving into the deep pool of knowledge available. I'm sure none of the players noticed any deviation from the canon, and not for me sticking to it. :D

One campaign I tried to make FR-specific, placing it around Silverymoon, and focusing on FR stuff of the region: search for a priest, were-creatures, Hosttower of the Arcane in Luskan, the orc king (Obuld Many-Eyes?). Sadly, this camapign didn't last long.

I read the 4e version of the Campaign Setting, finding it fresh and interesting. The actual games I ran took place in POLand and Ptolus, though.


First Post
I initially got into D&D via the Baldur's Gate/Icewind Dale games and the Forgotten Realms novels so I think I'll always have a fondness for it!


Yeah, I'm pretty "meh" about the whole thing, so I could take it or leave it. It doesn't light my world on fire or anything. That has nothing to do with the changes between editions, I just never liked how "overcrowded" it always felt. We are using it as the default for our HotDQ campaign, but I am looking at other settings (or maybe my own homebrew) with a bit more flavor for our next campaign

Hand of Evil

Dislike it and almost hating it, found it too detailed and humanized. As a DM, I wanted a campaign setting that allowed me to have some wiggle room to work in my stuff.

I liked the old Gazetteers, so much better.


First Post
The quality of the Forgotten Realms totally depends on the author or developer handling it. Many people got into it because of the Icewind Dale or Baldur's Gate series, which made FR seems mysterious and deadly. Paul S. Kemp's books took a relatively boring section of FR (Sembia), made them fun, and shook things up. It's hard to judge the quality of the 4E realms sadly, because authors like Salvatore spent the entire time having their hero sulk, emo-style. The Drizzt books have always been hit or miss, but the 4E era books were easily the worst.

The biggest problem with the Spellplague, if anything, is that it came at a time when the setting was trying to move forward. Whether it was the Shadovar taking over Sembia, or the Kingdom of Many Arrows moving away from the Tolkien-esque trope that Orcs are innately evil. The realms were finally starting to mature. And with the Sundering, many of these changes have or seemingly will be retconned.

Erin Evans is easily the best new author. She wisely chooses to keep her novels character-focused, rather than on realm-shaking events.


How would you define it? What is the Realms' distinct vibe and in what way is it different from generic D&D's vibe, in your opinion?

Well the thing about "distinct vibe" is that it can only really be described by itself, so the Realms' distinct vibe is "Realmsian" - it is just the feeling of the Forgotten Realms, from Waterdeep and Khelben Arunsun to Anauroch to the Dalelands and the Zhentarim, to the Harpers and Selune's Tears. The distinctness isn't obvious like, for instance, Tekumel or Talislanta. It is relatively subtle, or at least more so than more obviously unique or exotic settings. But distinctness need not be obvious, just as originality need not be blatantly novel.

It is also worth noting that the Forgotten Realms has probably been a greater influence on fantasy settings over the last 20-25 years than any other setting. Some would retort, "But Greyhawk!" But I think the Realms has had a bigger impact.

Doug McCrae

The main problem is that the forces of good are too powerful. FR power levels were always too high generally, NPC levels being about 10-15 higher than Greyhawk, even in the 1e grey box version. This has the, almost certainly intentional, effect of making the world impervious to PC action. It's a world where the innkeeper is a 12th level fighter and his teenage daughter is a 4th level ranger. There's a strong impetus to use high level NPCs such as Elminster as the cavalry riding over the hill to save the PCs when they get into trouble. Players, in my experience, almost always hate that.

Flavour-wise, FR is another sub-Tolkeinesque world, like Greyhawk and Dragonlance, but it's a Middle-earth set in the 4th age where the good guys have won. It's a fantasy version of Canada where there are no real threats and author stand-in NPCs in their 60s have sex with the ever-youthful goddess of magic while throwing the PCs a cheeky wink.

There are two ways, I think, you could make FR work:
1) PCs are the bad guys. Their enemies are Elminster and his harem.
2) The players have some kind of meta-resource they can use to summon Elminster et al.


I can take it or leave it. My issues with it are:

- It's overdeveloped. Even lands like Sembia that were supposed to be left alone (per the gray box) were still developed. Novels, comics, etc, it's just too big and detailed. I never can feel like I'm an expert on the setting, and as a DM I like to feel like I could be, but with FR I wouldn't have the time.
- Cultural mapping to the real world annoys me. Pseudo western Europe is here, Japan is over there, China over here, Mongols there, the middle east is down here. There is some of this in any setting, and my current Birthright game is almost as bad about it, but I think the FR is too straightforward with it, and I'd prefer to see more cultural originality like Eberron, where the inspiration of real world cultures is there but not so overt.
- The constant reboots of the world are annoying to deal with. I dislike regular cataclysmic events that reshape the lore to match the most recent version of the D&D rules. Why can't they just quietly retcon things such as saying "tieflings and dragonborn always existed on Toril, just like many other creatures you have yet to encounter...they are just now becoming prominent as adventurers." No, they have to have world shaking pantheon changes, etc.

I like that there are a lot of beautiful maps out there for it. I like that those maps are big. I like that just about anything in D&D is in the world, so if I want the whole D&D experience it's there. I think some of the villainous factions are pretty good (drow, Zhentarim, Red Wizards). I like that WotC chose to support it so directly in the PHB. I like that it's supported in adventures and supplements, and that if I want some lore, it isn't hard to find.

So I've clearly got mixed feelings about it, but I guess to sum it up, I don't want to run it, wouldn't mind playing in it.

Well the thing about "distinct vibe" is that it can only really be described by itself, so the Realms' distinct vibe is "Realmsian" - it is just the feeling of the Forgotten Realms, from Waterdeep and Khelben Arunsun to Anauroch to the Dalelands and the Zhentarim, to the Harpers and Selune's Tears. The distinctness isn't obvious like, for instance, Tekumel or Talislanta. It is relatively subtle, or at least more so than more obviously unique or exotic settings. But distinctness need not be obvious, just as originality need not be blatantly novel.

Thank you for your answer, but that doesn't make a lot of sense to me. If there's something distinct about the Realms, even if it's subtle, one should surely be able to express it in some way. And if it's one of these things where one has to experience it in order to understand it, well, I've experienced it, and didn't find anything distinctive about it.


I like it, in spite of its flaws, though this is probably because I never suffered the misfortune of having a Realms-lawyer at my table.

The Hitcher

I dislike it in theory (whenever I read straight-up lore my eyes glaze over). But I always seem to enjoy it in practice. I guess my experience is that it's a conceptually dull world where interesting stories invariably end up happening.


First Post
The Realms is not my favourite place (hello, Greyhawk), but it's not objectionable. I've played Neverwinter Nights and Baldur's Gate on the PC, but there are times that the setting feels invisible, just another generic fantasy world.

I'm quite happy to use the Realms to mine for ideas and transplant where needed.

I liked original grey box and 4e and nothing inbetween

I HATE THE GOD MODE MARY SUE NPCS or as i like to call them the Justice League Midnight (formerly the Justice Leauge Mystra but they killed the goddess of magic and replaced her with a good aligned mortal who never really made a diffrence)
You mean like:


Chaotic Looseleaf
I made a real effort to get to know the Realms during D&D4, because I considered the Spellplague a good opportunity to start fresh. In the process, I came to learn a lot of the history that had kept me away for so long, and I'm glad I did, because the setting has a D&D lore wrapped up in it, and ultimately that's what I really care about. At the end of the day, outside the Moonshae Isles, it's not my thing, but maybe that's the point -- you're not supposed to like the whole of the Realms, just part of it that sings to you.

I'm not sure why the Realms don't occupy a larger tract of shelf real estate in my collection, but part of it is that I've never been able to find the hook. It occupies a middle ground between Greyhawk's dusty, bloody, low-magic fantasy and Dragonlance's robed, scaled high-magic fantasy that doesn't grab me in the way both of those settings do.

Take as a comparison Greyhawk's Celene, the Realms' Cormanthor, and Dragonlance's Silvanesti. Celene is literally just another political body on the Flanaess -- it just happens to be a nation of elves. That's compelling. Silvanesti is the exact opposite -- a huge forested enclave cut off from the rest of the world and inhabited by elves as fae as they could get in D&D prior to 4th Ed. That's also compelling. Myth Drannor is... kind of a political body? Kind of a fae enclave? I'm not sure -- and I've done the reading.

So, final word: I wouldn't say I dislike the Realms, but I'm definitely not a fan. I've just never been grabbed by the setting.

Except for the Moonshaes, holy crap. Holy crap, the Moonshaes. I want to build a summer house there.
Last edited:


First Post
I loved the grey box in the 1980s and the original 16 or so gazeteers. I pretty much played with that for a decade. It was *my* Realms back then with enough detail to inspire, and enough openness to make my own. Honestly, I missed most of the 2e Realms stuff, and never really read many of the FR novels, because they didn't feel like *my* realms. I picked up the 3e core and liked it, but didn't like all of the gonzo magic - genasi as PCs? just walking around? Didn't really fit my style, but I could still keep what I wanted, and dump the rest. That said, I never really played much in the Realms during 3e.

The Realms have the same problem that DnD has - there are a wide variety of play styles, and whenever the system attempts to enforce one over the other, they lose folks. The realms ARE the archetypical DnD, and like DnD they shoudl start with generic, and then provide optional styles to plug in. And it doesn't help that they are so tied to the novels.

Now I have enjoyed reading the 5e stuff so far. I am trying to make this a fresh start. I am excited about gaming with 5e and gaming in the Realms again -- and making it mine. I don't want 5e to take that away from me. Right now is a wipe the slate clean moment for me, and build it the way I want. I want the line to give me options and ideas, not dictate. I am going to set it back before the "time of troubles" and essentially reboot the realms and make them mine. I would love it if 5e would do that as well and basically start over with plug and play goodness.



New Publisher
I just use the realms as the backdrop, and ignore the stuff I want to ignore. I have never understood why people feel canon matters. Not criticizing those that do, just saying I don't get why people care. Also, had Greyhawk stayed the default, it would suffer from too much canon.

Flexor the Mighty!

18/100 Strength!
Not the biggest fan. I liked the 1987 set and had a lot of material for it, but it just got too much baggage with all the novels driving the setting. I think I'm going to run a 5e game there though since its too much hassle to convert Tyranny of Dragons to Greyhawk IMO.

An Advertisement