D&D General "I have Played in or Run a Campaign Set in the Forgotten Realms" (a poll)

True or False: "I have Played in or Run a Campaign Set in the Forgotten Realms"

  • True.

    Votes: 183 84.3%
  • False.

    Votes: 34 15.7%


Just the once, when my group wanted to try Dragon Heist. It was fine for a setting, but my biggest complaint was that I felt like I was expected to recognize or get excited over every famous NPC cameo or reference to some other module. I imagine it's the kind of thing where you feel more invested when you've played in the same sandbox a lot over the years, but as an outsider jumping in I found that really offputting.

log in or register to remove this ad


Gnome Lover
Never played with it or in it, but during 3e I bought almost everything WoTC put out (no novels) and loved reading it. So go figure. 🤷🏻‍♂️


Being perfectly honest, I think FR is massively over-hyped, and rather substantially under-delivers in terms of flavor, quality, and interest.
I've never had a FR RPG experience, and nothing I know about it makes me wish it were otherwise! What you say here is pretty consistent with my impression - I don't get what makes it so popular.


I did a 5e campaign in the realms set in the Moonshaes around 940 DR, so during the second Trollwar, before Waterdeep was established. I liked playing 500 years before current events, as it opened up everything. I was free to play with gods, cities, technology levels, nature of threats. I had the island in the early stages of the invasion by the Illuskans, and since it was a sandbox, the players could do whatever they wanted - fight the Illuskans, bolster the borders, play politics, go monster hunting, explore the mostly unexplored center and western parts of the islands, etc. Rumors galore, towns and villages established and lost, or ignore it all and go to the mainland. I had a more medieval, dark ages feel, which worked well in the setting.

It ran for about a year online, the players got to about level 6, but we ran into the "the monsters need to be so powerful to threaten the characters, it gets a little ridiculous", and the gritty feel was all but gone. It devolved into kitchen sink/high fantasy DnD...

I'd love to re-run that campaign setting in Old School Essentials Advanced...
I ran Out of The Abyss and the first part of Tyranny of Dragons. Took about three years, I reckon.


Not your screen monkey (he/him)
I've played in or run quite a few FR campaigns over the years, in no small part because it's easily accessible for me and my players. There's a lot of material out there, including published adventure campaigns and sites. And it's a perfectly serviceable hodge-podge of a campaign setting.
But it also suffers the same effect of a number of songs/artists on commercial Classic Rock radio stations. Over. Play. I love the song "Comfortably Numb", but JESUS, can you play something ELSE by Pink Floyd once in a while?!? Maybe a Lynyrd Skynyrd song other than "Sweet Home Alabama"? Or even something by Van Halen other than effing "Jump"? See, this is why I miss the radio station once known as The Lake in my area. They played "Shine on You Crazy Diamond". In its entirety. They played a lot of deep cuts on lesser known albums by a lot of classic rock artists before they got replaced by a pop hip-hop format. This is why I subscribe to SiriusXM and listen to Little Steven's Underground Garage.


I've never had a FR RPG experience, and nothing I know about it makes me wish it were otherwise! What you say here is pretty consistent with my impression - I don't get what makes it so popular.
I think a lot of it comes down to mistaking quantity for quality. There is so much material out there for the Realms, it must be awesome!

The Realms can be good, but it takes a solid and creative DM to manage it. Do you use all the existing Lore? Do you retcon stuff? Do you change locations, NPCs, etc? It can be a lot more work to undo all of that "worldbuilding" and clean out the kitchen sink than to do your own homebrew and pull elements, locations, adventures into it.

Another plus for some DMs, and particularly new DMs, are the adventure paths that go from Level 1 to 15 or what have you. Its a self contained campaign that can run for as long as it takes, you only have to engage with what is in the adventure, and while some have some dubious quality/internal consistency, a new DM can rock that in the Realms, and be good to go.

Compare where FR is now to both the Forgotten Realms Grey Box, and the original Greyhawk Box. They're both expansive, but only give very broad brushstrokes about what is going on in the Realms and Greyhawk. Its up to the DM to build the larger worldwide goings on, add in adventures, details, etc. Now, a DM can certainly remove large amounts of FR lore that has built up, but that can be challenging in itself (and I've done/tried that). My Greyhawk campaign, even though I'm using From the Ashes, is still fairly "open" in terms of the impact of the wars outside of what is in the Ashes Box set. I'm not familiar with, and won't seek out other lore, and its also not as pervasive. My players certainly don't have any idea of what else is out there. So it helps focus my worldbuilding.

There are also a lot of novels, modules, etc. that have been produced, which many people (including myself) devoured. Lots of cool imagery, locations, adventures being had, and then as a player you want to replicate those, or visit those locations in-game. And I think, finally, there is a comfort in "kitchen sink" settings where, as a player, I can do and be whatever I want. I can play any race, any class, worship anything, and no one in-game will blink an eye. And there is nothing wrong with that, its just not how I and my players engage with the settings at our table. I mean, there are only so many times the world can have spell-something catastrophes, a toss around of hundreds of gods, world-shattering events, cities being pulled into hell, hell opening up onto the sword coast, Tiamat/Dragon cults doing something again, whatever.

And none of the above is to say that one way to play is better than the other, or anyone is playing wrong, etc. I can understand why the Realms is so popular, its got a ton behind it. I have played it, and DM'd it, and don't find it as engaging as I did before.


One of the longest campaigns I played in lasted over 9 years. I think they kept it playing after I moved. It was mainly set in the dalelands, but we travelled many other places too. This was in the 2e days. Last month, I finished a weekly LMoP based campaign that lasted over 3 years and the players reached 12th level.

An Advertisement