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5E Why FR Is "Hated"

was

Villager
...Much of the hate that I have seen for FR has very little to do with the actual setting. I have run into some very rabid fans of other settings, particularly Greyhawk, who feel slighted that their favorites were passed over as the new default.
 
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cbwjm

I can add a custom title.
Most of the negativity I've seen is more to do with wanting somewhere new for an adventure path rather than actual hate of the setting. I have seen some complain about all the high level characters as well but I've never really found that to be an issue.

Sent from my SM-G925I using EN World mobile app
 

Mirtek

Explorer
TSR dropped the ball there. The metaplot thing was every campaign often wrecking the thing you liked about the setting in the 1st place.
I disagree here. The metaplot is one of the reasons I like the FR and I would never bother to waste time with a "dead setting" like Eberron where there is no developing metaplot.
On the other hand, they haven't given us any metaplot (to speak of) for 5E, and that's not exactly being greeted with cheers of relief.
Because it's the 4e problem all over again.

The FR fans liked the FR for exactly what it was. A story setting driven by a developing metaplot. The FR haters hated FR exactly for that.

Now they again changed the FR to remove what the haters hated. Problem: The haters are still at best "meh" about the setting, while it's fans are now also driven off.

Just look at how basically all FR fansites died during 4e, got a short second wind during all the lead up to the Sundering and then quickly died down again once it was clear that it was just a bunch of empty talk with nothing to follow up on it.

FR fans want a 5e FRCs with every
every nook and cranny spelled out. For them it's not a bug but a feature, they don't want a blank canvas full of DM freedom.

Sure, now those FR fans who disagree with me will speak up how I am wrong in my generalisation. Leaves one to wonder where all those FR fans are and why they let all FR comunnity sites die once the detail loving FR fans left.
 
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Caliban

Rules Monkey
I think the reasons it's disliked are pretty much the same reasons it's popular.

It's an easy setting to run in - most of the work has been done for you. If you don't much care for world-building and creating storylines, that's a plus. If you like to create your own stuff, it feels stifling and overcrowded.

I like to create my own stories, so I've just used bits and pieces of the Forgotten Realms in various campaigns over the years.

One campaign followed the events of the Time of Troubles, with the main adversary being an ancestor of one of the PC's that had escaped from whatever afterlife he'd been sent to during the Time of Troubles. During his escape, he ended up in a realm that AoO had created and found the Tome of Fate - it recorded the True Names of all the gods and mortals, and their fate. He learned how divine beings gained power...and how they could be killed. He erased his name from the tome, rending himself undetected by gods and mortals alike, and then made his way back to the mortal plane to set plans in motion using his newly gained knowledge. Namely - killing off all the gods and releasing mortals from their divine tyranny. I used a lot of FR lore for that one, but took everything in a much darker direction.

The next campaign was set a thousand years in the future, after a "God War" triggered by the Time of Troubles killed off all the gods and separated the FR Crystal Sphere from the rest of the multi-verse, stranding it deep in the Far Realms. I just the used the FR maps for that campaign, everything else was home brew.

My current campaign is new world, and has a homebrew cosmology, unrelated to the "Great Wheel" cosmology of 2nd edition. My own maps and storylines, but I use the FR pantheon because it's convenient.
 

Zardnaar

Adventurer
I disagree here. The metaplot is one of the reasons I like the FR and I would never bother to waste time with a "dead setting" like Eberron where there is no developing metaplot.
Because it's the 4e problem all over again.

The FR fans liked the FR for exactly what it was. A story setting driven by a developing metaplot. The FR haters hated FR exactly for that.

Now they again changed the FR to remove what the haters hated. Problem: The haters are still at best "meh" about the setting, while it's fans are now also driven off.

Just look at how basically all FR fansites died during 4e, got a short second wind during all the lead up to the Sundering and then quickly died down again once it was clear that it was just a bunch of empty talk with nothing to follow up on it.

FR fans want a 5e FRCs with every
every nook and cranny spelled out. For them it's not a bug but a feature, they don't want a blank canvas full of DM freedom.

Sure, now those FR fans who disagree with me will speak up how I am wrong in my generalisation. Leaves one to wonder where all those FR fans are and why they let all FR comunnity sites die once the detail loving FR fans left.
FR fan, not a fan of the realms shaking events although the 2E to 3.0 transition was better than 1E to 2E or 3.5 to 4E IMHO.

FR can almost get away with it some of the other settings suffered more (Krynn, Darksun, Greyhawk, Mystara etc).
 

cbwjm

I can add a custom title.
The transition between 2e and 3e was so good because there wasn't any world shaking event (that I'm aware of) it was just a case of "These are the rules now." Mind you, I did enjoy reading about the time of troubles, never got a chance to play a game set during that time though.
 

Satyrn

Villager
Any particular resources you use or are you just going with your own knowledge of mythology and history?

I ask because I've had an idea for a campaign setting in the back of my mind for quite a while which is situated around the Mediterranean using the myths of the various locations to fill out the available races as well as throwing in a bunch of free license to set up some areas as unique. As an example:

Egypt
Rulers: Tiefling
Religion: Demon worshippers (Taken from R.E Howard's Stygia and expanded upon. Not sure if I want to use the Egyptian Pantheon as the Demons or have their worship underground), Bes (worshipped by the slaves and halflings as a protector deity)
Common Races: Tieflings, Humans (slaves building the tiefling monuments), Halflings (Taking the place of Kushites. Raids, and are raided by, Egypt)
There's an AD&D green book on playing in ancient Rome that makes for a good sourcebook. And then there's a 3rd party 3e book (and for some stupid reason I'm stumbling over remembering the publisher) on Greece called Relics and Rituals: Olympus.

I'd turn to those were I to do Rome/Greece. And maybe toss in Gygax's 3e Necropolis (because I have a copy!) as a starting point for the Egyptian bits.
 

Jester David

Adventurer
TSR dropped the ball there. The metaplot thing was every campaign often wrecking the thing you liked about the setting in the 1st place.
I disagree that the problem is "metaplot". I think the issue is "too much metaplot".

When you have adventures and novels and organised play games and comics and video games that are all effectively canon and fighting to define what actually happened to certain people or gods or places then that's an issue. At that point, the problem isn't that events occurred and the world progressed, it's that too much was happening and it was impossible to keep track.
It's the quantity and quality of the metaplot and the world events.

Compare this to Eberron that's effectively static. There's zero reason to update the setting beyond a 16-page rules supplement. Because despite the adventures, comics, novels, and even a MMO and two organised play campaigns, nothing of note has occurred in the world. Nothing that happens in the world really matters.


With two APs a year, they could slowly change and tweak things in the Realms. Especially since if Good wins in half of them, nothing in the world is altered. Just Tyranny of Dragons, Rage of Demons, and Storm King's Thunder have any noticeable impact. And the effects of the last one will likely be "fixed" after a year or two in-world.
The lore and metaplot is going slow enough that you can keep up.
The metaplot means it's a living, growing, changing world. Which can make it feel more "real" as history is unfolding.

Sadly, WotC isn't even trying anymore. Unlike TSR. There's no attempt at making the APs "canon" or resolving what happened where. So you have the adventurers contradicting the few novels. Because they mandated that Drizzt had to fight Demogorgon and win despite him being big in the adventure. (Couldn't he have lost? Or they could have had Orcus or Baphomet for the climax instead.) And because of the tie-ins, the dates the various events took place doesn't make much sense.
I'd love for WotC to do a "survey" of the results of the APs and find out what happened in the majority of people's games and use that to establish the canon going forward.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Because they only work when you cut out a very small part of it and ignore the rest. But when you look at the big picture it does not make sense at all when you for example have ancient Egypt next to Arthurian England next to Renaissance Italien states next to tribal primitives.
But that's the whole point! In a fantasy world you *can* do this and have it work.

I mean, neither Arthurian England nor Renaissance Italy had to worry about the Dwarves in the mountains or Elves in the forests, did they...or raiding orcs coming down out of the hills on a regular basis...

Such a constellation simply does not work with any kind of plausibility and it is really noticeable that the only reason for this to be that way is to offer everyone everything.
Well, every game I ever run is going to have classical Greeks and-or Romans in it somewhere, and Celtic tribes, and Vikings, one or more renaissance-era cultures, and some sort of far-eastern (Mongolian? Japanese?) cultures as well...and Dwarves and Elves and Hobbits and monsters*. In my current game I've also got variants on Egyptian, Sumerian, Persian and early French (i.e. France just after the Norse invaded and settled down) along with one or two human cultures that I've made up out of nothing. My view of fantasy history pretty much lines up with Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert: throw it all in a blender and see what fun results. :)

* - lots and lots of monsters. :)

Saelorn said:
If the world is so large that none of that other stuff has any impact on the campaign at all, then the PCs feel small and unimportant. By the time I hit level 20 in a game, I expect to have seen just about everything worth seeing in the world.
Where to me that's a point in FR's favour - there's always a bigger fish. And so there should be, whether it's higher-level characters, or deities, or immortals, or whatever.

I don't mind the PCs feeling important after a while, but no matter how big they get there needs to be something that can cause them real fear, or make them bend the knee without even thinking twice.

SkidAce said:
Is that anything like the City State of the Invincible Overlord?
Yes. CSotIO is just the main city and not much else. CSotWE, which came later, kinda waves at the city but then goes on to cover much more area around it...and it's the area around it, with all the small towns and villages and adventure hooks, which makes it worthwhile.

Lan-"one of these days I really do intend to give Birthright a good run out and see what it can do"-efan
 

Dausuul

Legend
FR is successful for the same reason I don't like it*: It's a generic** fantasy, kitchen sink setting where all kinds of fantasy elements are thrown together without rhyme or reason.

As somebody who likes settings with a clear theme and concept, that annoys me. But for the Official D&D Setting, it almost has to be something like FR. D&D must accommodate everything from hack and slash, to high fantasy, to gothic horror, to steampunk intrigue, and on and on. A setting which focused on one of those would exclude the others. Because FR has a little bit of everything, it can "do" anything--not as well as a dedicated setting, but well enough.

As for Drizzt, I ain't fond of him, but he sells books, so that's another argument for FR as the Official Setting.

[SIZE=-2]*Note that I say "I don't like it," not "the community doesn't like it." I don't know how the community feels, and neither does anyone else who has not conducted some proper market research. And polls on ENWorld ain't market research.

**Except that it's got the Tolkien Triad (elves'n'dwarves'n'halflings) everywhere, which is actually very idiosyncratic and not generic at all, but you sure wouldn't know it the way D&D players talk.[/SIZE]
 
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hastur_nz

Villager
The transition between 2e and 3e was so good because there wasn't any world shaking event (that I'm aware of) it was just a case of "These are the rules now." Mind you, I did enjoy reading about the time of troubles, never got a chance to play a game set during that time though.
I'm told, by someone who read the book more closely than me, that the 3e book did make a number of changes, like Elves were no longer leaving like in Tolkien, and Dwarves started breeding properly so were no longer dying out. It advanced the timeline, only by a year or two, from 2e.

The "time of troubles" adventures were the biggest piece of 2e "story-driven adventures" crap that I've seen, a big reason I gave up playing a lot of D&D not long after 2e came out because adventures went from simple concise site-based dungeons or similar, to over-blown novels trying to be an adventure. In the "time of troubles" adventures, the PC's get to watch gods battle, led around by Elminster, from near Thay, to Waterdeep, with an NPC who is better than any PC and must accompany them because she turns into Mystra at the end of the 3rd adventure. And another NPC also turns emo mid-way through and by the end he's the new god of murder. Honestly, I read all three adventures again recently, and struggled to see where the actual "adventure" was, unless the players got bored and just randomly attacked NPCs or Gods, and even then of course the silly PC's can't win and yet they must be lead by the nose to see the scripted ending. So you see, that's one example of why some people don't like the FR. From what I figured out even in 1e days, that seems to be the Ed Greenwood style of DMing... (or if it's not, his real style doesn't come out in what he's got his name on).
 
The transition between 2e and 3e was so good because there wasn't any world shaking event (that I'm aware of) it was just a case of "These are the rules now." Mind you, I did enjoy reading about the time of troubles, never got a chance to play a game set during that time though.
There were a few minor to mid-level changes, but nothing really world-shattering. The return of Bane was likely the most notable event, and even that flowed logically to anyone paying attention to what was going on with Iyachtu Xvim over the course of 2e.

I think the Time of Troubles as the transition between 1e and 2e worked at the time since it was unique. As the 2e to 3e transition really didn't shake things up too much as well, the fact that the 3e to 4e transition was the result of another world-shattering event - that took place, in the setting timeline, only a couple of decades after the Time of Troubles - might have been a catastrophe too far. Had 4e just changed the ruleset with only a few cosmetic changes, and, more importantly, not have moved the timeline up a century (thereby invalidating potentially hundreds of dollars of product investment), the Realms 4e might have been a bit better received...

(By the way, definitely not a Realms hater, just going to post here to make some clarifications)
 
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Zardnaar

Adventurer
There were a few minor to mid-level changes, but nothing really world-shattering. The return of Bane was likely the most notable event, and even that flowed logically to anyone paying attention to what was going on with Iyachtu Xvim over the course of 2e.

I think the Time of Troubles as the transition between 1e and 2e worked at the time since it was unique. As the 2e to 3e transition really didn't shake things up too much as well, the fact that the 3e to 4e transition was the result of another world-shattering event - that took place, in the setting timeline, only a couple of decades after the Time of Troubles - might have been a catastrophe too far. Had 4e just changed the ruleset with only a few cosmetic changes, and, more importantly, not have moved the timeline up a century (thereby invalidating potentially hundreds of dollars of product investment), the Realms 4e might have been a bit better received...
And have a half decent map.

The return of the Netherise was the other big thing with the 2E to 3.0 transition. Bane back was also a thing but it was logical with how it was built up to in 2E.
 
And have a half decent map.

The return of the Netherise was the other big thing with the 2E to 3.0 transition. Bane back was also a thing but it was logical with how it was built up to in 2E.
Don't get me started on the maps! Both 3e and 4e were major offenders there (although the 3e one did look good, if you could get past the fact that they had to seriously warp regions to get the full setting to fit onto a single map while minimizing blank areas). I'm so glad they have decided to go back to the original 1e/2e physical geography - as well as using Mike Schley as the overland map cartographer; I really hope that we will get a full map of the setting by him sooner than later!
 

machineelf

Villager
So why does FR persist if so many people hate it?
I don't know why it persists, because it is a big world and takes a lot of effort and time to really understand the whole thing, and they did change it around a lot over the years.

But it is a great campaign world if you ignore the stuff that came after 1372 DR, imo. I didn't realize how great it was until I began to research and compile all of the 2nd through 3.5 edition content.

I don't want to over-generalize, because I am sure there are quite a few people who break this rule, but my sense is that the people who hate it usually are not familiar with the whole setting. They either understand small parts of the world and don't like what they see, or they know how large it is and are turned off by the effort it would take to understand all of it. But if someone did begin to understand the larger world, they might come to appreciate the largeness of it and the uniqueness and character of various parts of the world.

Having said that, sometimes a well-crafted and smaller world is a great option, because it would take far less time for your players to wrap their heads around the world. The FR games I run span the whole continent of Faerun, and it literally takes years for my players to learn all the ins and outs of it. It's really rewarding when they do, though.
 

Hussar

Legend
For me, I don't hate the Realms. But, that being said, I'll never actually use them either. There's just too much stuff. THousands and thousands of pages of material. To me, the setting completely jumped the shark when Ed Greenwood in one of the Realms articles he used to do on the WotC site, detailed the shape of windows in houses.

A 500-1000 word article devoted to the shape of windows.

I can honestly say, without the slightest trace of hyperbole that I could not care less about that. If that's the level of details you want in your game? Fantastic, go right ahead. Me, I don't.

So, AFAIC, any Realms supplements that come out are a non-starter for me. I remember back in 2e buying the Faiths and Avatars book (and the second one as well, the name of which escapes me at the moment). Chock a block with all sorts of setting goodies. Yay. Then I actually tried to use it... and it was an incoherent mess that no one ever gave the slightest rat's petoot about. No one cared what color robes a Gond priest wears.

After that, I just washed my hands of the whole thing. Give me a setting book, a map, and a handful of modules, and move on to the next setting.
 

pogre

Adventurer
Because the first reaction one should have to a dual-wielding Drow should be - "Somebody shoot that thing!"


I think one reason it is default for 5e is it is easy enough to remove the fairly generic setting dressing for homebrewers.
 

Aldarc

Adventurer
I disagree here. The metaplot is one of the reasons I like the FR and I would never bother to waste time with a "dead setting" like Eberron where there is no developing metaplot.
What you describe as Eberron's "dead" setting is what makes it feel alive to me: there is so much tension in that moment in the timeline that one could have a decade-long campaign or hundreds of smaller campaigns and still not explore all the issues at play in Khorvaire or Eberron at this moment. The timeline has only advanced by a year so far, and that is in no small part because of (1) Eberron's still relative newness as a setting at the time 4E came out, and (2) the tremendous pushback following the advancement of Forgotten Realms's metaplot in 4E.

I will explain my disdain of Forgotten Realms later when I have more time, as I'm having to write this in a rush before leaving for work.
 

Ath-kethin

Explorer
My dislike of the Forgotten Realms is twofold: one part generational and one part defensive.

My introduction to D&D was through the Dragonlance Chronicles ( though I didn't know at the time that the books were based on or in any way related to a game). My love for the novels translated to a love for the setting, and at the time there was a great rivalry between the Realms and Dragonlance, at least in my area. So like a Cubs fan, I planted my flag and stood behind it rain or shine.

Side note: y'all can whine about "world shaking events" messing up your game with their silly metaplot, but at least they didn't MAKE A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT GAME out of your setting at any point. </fuming>

My second reason for disliking the Realms is Al-Qadim. Like Eberron, Al-Qadim had distant gods that formed coherent religions instead of being a mess of squabbling high-power sacks of hit points waiting to be banged or killed by DMPC #41123.

Al-Qadim existed outside the FR timeline and metaplot (no dates corresponding to a FR calendar were ever given in any AQ product). I loved Al-Qadim, and to pollute it with FR claptrap would mean figuring out what all the AQ gods were doing during the Let's Kill Some Off For No Reason period - a tough task when only the vaguest information about each god was known.

While some have tried to rectify the two worlds into a coherent timeline, I vote leave well enough alone. Especially since the FR already has cultures with the same mythological and historical reports as Al-Qadim. Keep your generic Tolkien knock-offs and keep your damn hands off my evocative and distinct world.

Like I said, defensive.
 

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