D&D General How to reboot the Forgotten Realms (+)

Clint_L

Hero
If it is to be the generic/default setting, in future it should be kept free of momentous, geopolitical events - keep it basically evergreen, so that the focus is not so much on the setting as on our adventures therein. Let each DM decide for themselves if they need it shaken by a cataclysm.

Adventure books can still have high stakes without involving events that will significantly transform the setting going forward, and near-apocalypse of the week gets tired very quickly (c.f. World of Warcraft).
 

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Atomoctba

Adventurer
First of all, none of the RSE (Realms Shattering Events). For me , all the first adventures published for 5e were that. Tiamat entering the Realms, demons out of Abyss, etc, etc, etc... I always prefered near to ground stories and not "save the cheerleader, save the world".

I would delete even the Time of Troubles. If I remember well, even Ed resisted years before use that in his home campaigns. So yeah, Grey Box seems about right for me. And after that, to the future, no avatar wars, no shades, no spellplague, no returned Abeir...
 

Xamnam

Loves Your Favorite Game
I'll be honest, part of what I specifically love about the Forgotten Realms is the history, the lore, the famous people. That sort of thing is the reason I chose to run things there rather than coming up with some blank slate generic fantasy setting, it's the stuff that's most exhausting and time intensive to create. The fact that there's a wiki with in-game centuries of resources to pull from is such a boon to me.

So, what I personally would want is less of a reboot, or at least definitely not anything that would excise/quarantine the old stuff, but more to @Yora 's point, a dedicated effort to explore more than just the Sword Coast, which has been absolutely overstuffed in 5e.
 
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TwoSix

Dirty, realism-hating munchkin powergamer
If it is to be the generic/default setting, in future it should be kept free of momentous, geopolitical events - keep it basically evergreen, so that the focus is not so much on the setting as on our adventures therein. Let each DM decide for themselves if they need it shaken by a cataclysm.

Adventure books can still have high stakes without involving events that will significantly transform the setting going forward, and near-apocalypse of the week gets tired very quickly (c.f. World of Warcraft).
Make a detailed book like the 3e FRCS, and advance the timeline to like 1520. Have a few decades where things are relatively chill and stuff consolidates a bit. Don't invalidate anything, just summarize it quickly, have it in the past and focus on the present.
 

Steampunkette

Rules Tinkerer and Freelance Writer
Supporter
Rebooting the Realms... hmm.

1st: I'd use the new movie because it looks like it's going to be awesome. It would become the basis of the new realms. The humor, the tone, the style, the NPCs. If you want to sell a new Realms you need to sell it to the audience of that movie, because it's going to be bigger than the D&D community currently is, I'm fairly sure. Especially younger new Realms players.

2nd: Erase a ton of 4e's complications, break the whole Abeir-Toril thing down to make things easier for newbies. If Abeir ever shows up in the game from that point going forward, it's practically a 'shadow world' of Toril.

3rd: Hire a bunch of young modders who are hopeful for experience to "Remake" Baldur's Gate 1 and 2, plus expansions, Icewind Dale, plus expansions, Ruins of Myth Drannor, Neverwinter 1 and 2, plus expansions, using the 5e Baldur's Gate engine. They're eager to do it and you can release the whole thing as a "New Realms Bundle!" to make a ton of cash off material you have lying around and the elevation of community members.

4th: Focus on the Sword Coast (I know, I know) and Inner Sea regions. The Sea of Fallen Stars is a big story-point that will resonate with your audience, so making it and the Sword Coast into your main focus keeps the reality of Thay on the fringe of well documented territory in the "New Realms". Thay can be the mysterious mystical enemy just beyond the edge of what is known, letting your playerbase develop their own ideas of what NewThay actually looks like.

5th: Slowly explore additional realms as entire books. Do a Spelljammer release of a 64 page adventure, a 64 page player's guide, and a 64 page DM's Guide to the specific realm once or twice a year as both bundles and stand-alone options. Yes. I know that sounds ridiculous. But sell the 64 page Player's Guide to Shaar as a standalone at a lower price point and make the other two options only available as part of the 3 book bundle. You'll sell more total books that way as there are a TON of players uninterested in DMing...

... For now.

6th: Slowly expand the world to focus not on powerful allied NPCs but threats. Yeah, Elminster still exists. He's old and powerful but for REASONS he's a Patron, not a Force of Nature. What are those reasons? NEVER EXPLAIN. Same thing for the rest of the powerful NPCs and stuff. Drizzt? He's young again! Seriously, I don't care when the books were written. Drizzt is a 5th level ranger. He's got his cool swords and Gwenhywharf and whatever, but he's only been doing this all a short time with Wulfgar, Cattie Brie, Bruenor, and Regis.

7th: Mithril Hall is not the seat of the Dwarves, it still needs reclaiming. Just massage the timeline to push everything back, politically and socially, to the 1350s/1370s and call it whatever year the movie references. Consistency? THIS IS THE FORGOTTEN REALMS DAMN IT. There is no consistency.

Those'd be the big ones, I think.
 

Loren the GM

Adventurer
Publisher
I'd love DND Beyond to add an official Forgotten Realms history section, basing on whatever reboot or set of history they wish to use. Make it free to all users. Keep it up to date as new material is published. Make it easily searchable, cross-referencing and hyperlinked with location and npc names in published books that I purchase. Make it the official repository of Forgotten Realms history and lore. I know there are third party sites that do this, and I don't mean to diminish them, but I'd love for WotC to provide more official support for the setting.
 


For those wanting to roll back the timeline, what to do about FR Dragonborn, as they are a PHB race?
Does anything actually need to be done with them? I don't know if it's still in the most recent printings, but didn't the PHB have rarity levels associated with races, and Dragonborn were like really rare? If that's the case, let each DM decide where they come from. If you're going with Gray Box, just have them come from one of the southern lands, for example. Makes them even more special, and if you have a good player, that player can use it to help flesh out areas that aren't in the main book ("Back in my home, we...")
 

S'mon

Legend
I think the AD&D Campaign Set and several of the FR series splatbooks are pretty great (Savage Frontier, Bloodstone Lands, Dreams of the Red Wizards).

The problem is that to reboot the setting in a way that captures the qualities of the original, we would first have to reboot AD&D. Having only the original 7 character races and the orignal 10 character classes and the limitations of magic seems crucial to creating the feel of the setting. It also needs an oldschool exploration system in which nonmagical resources matter and a combat system and monster stats simple enough to handle random encounters on the fly. I don't see WotC being in a position where they could produce such a game, unless they would make it a completely separate brand from their D&D.
Releasing it as a campaign setting for Old-School Essentials Advanced Rules could work.

I would limit the published setting to the northern half of Faerun. Western Heartlands, Cormyr, Sembia, Aglarond, Thay, and everything north of that. The Southern half was pretty much not covered at all in the 1st edition sources. These are places where foreign merchants come from and the occasional mysterious wizard. But they are places that are only occasionally heard of, but not seen.

Obviously this setting would exist in an alternate continuity in which the Time of Troubles never happens. Otherwise there would be no point to the entire exercise.

Where the greateat potential lies is in making the setting actually look and feel based on 13th and 14th century Europe, as is stated in the introduction to the campaign set. None of the Rennaisance style of 2nd edition and the Dungeon Punk that followed. 100 Years War armor styles, woodblock printing, Hanseatic League style merchant guilds, and things like that.

Also, keep and reinforce the notion that "civilization is something of a novelty" in the northern half of Faerun. Cormyr is the exception as a unified kingdom under a single king. Impiltur, Damara, and Aglarond are more confedrations pledging allegiance to a king than centralized states.

And keep the human focus. The elves are pretty much gone. Other than Evereska, there are no elven settlements in Faerun at all. Only a few individuals or small bands who still roam around on their own. Dwarven civilzation has been shattered. King Harbrom of Adbar is the last true dwarven king deserving that title. There are some old dwarven strongholds in the Spine of the World and the Earthspur Mountains that still have some dwarves living in them, but most dwarves that other people will ever encounter are minorities in human cities.

Orcs, goblins, and giants are rare, with orcs playing a prominent role only in the Spine of the World and the lands immediate to its south. And of course a whole can of worms on their own. To recapture the original setting they need to regularly clash violently with human settlements, but they also should be more than an entire race of green-skinned marauders.

In the end, just return back to the original material from the first 2 years before the renfairigpfication of AD&D, and take its statements about the world as fact and follow through with them.

Yeah, that is exactly my approach. No Time of Troubles, game set in Damara with a Hundred Years War/Game of Thrones type feel. Powerful nobles and a relatively weak monarch - King Dimian Ree-Banacath. Faerun Adventures - 5e D&D Game (1359-61 DR)
Human dominated; no dragonborn. There are Tieflings, given Damara & Impiltur's history with demons, but they look human.
 

S'mon

Legend
For those wanting to roll back the timeline, what to do about FR Dragonborn, as they are a PHB race?

No Dragonborn in my FR. The 5e PHB calls them out as one of the rare, not always present, races anyway. OTOH I do allow Goliath, got a couple Goliath PCs in my FR groups. IMC races that look reasonably human are at least tolerated in human society, but a 4e style Tiefling or a Dragonborn would be seen as a monster.

My Wilderlands setting is very different, Sword & Planet style menagerie with tabaxi, hawk folk, yuan-ti, lizardmen, even warforged!
 

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