D&D 5E Why FR Is "Hated"


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Mercule

Adventurer
We can talk about both, if that's cool.

1) This is definitely a matter of opinion. I also used to share this opinion. I was not a fan of the realms early on...this was most likely due to seeing an incomplete picture of things. I read a couple of teh novels, and other than a few, most were pretty bad. Entertaining perhaps, but not much about the setting that I really felt was very compelling. The only novels I read that were strongly "Realmsish" for lack of a better term was the Avatar Trilogy. Which as a kid, I thought had some cool concepts, but which I recognized even then was more about establishing a new status quo based on rules mechanics than anything else. And I would even say that to this day, I'm not all that strongly a proponent of the Realms....it's an okay setting in that it has a lot of various regions in which you can base different kinds of games and so on, but it's all fairly Tolkienesque. But I'd say the same for almost all of the old settings. I quite liked the 3E Campaign Setting book. That was the first time I ever considered running a Realms based game.

2) This is more a matter of fact, in that clearly FR is the setting getting all the focus of the current edition. On one had, I agree with you that this is a bad thing. I'd prefer to have more variety of content. I find the material easy to port, but that's gonna very from person to person, and I know others may find it difficult. It also depends on which settings you want to port things to. But on the other hand, I can kind of understand WotC's decision to focus on one setting. As this thread can attest, and others like it, a setting alone seems to be enough reason for people to buy or not buy a product. There's a portion of the existing fan base that refuses to buy certain products if they are associated with certain settings. That's not a practice I woudl follow, but many do...and it seems WotC has heard them, and they've decided to minimize that as much as possible, and go with the most pop-culture present setting they have. So while I may lament their decision along with you, I can also recognize the reasoning behind it.
1) In terms of "vanilla" settings, I actually dislike Mystara more. That's kinda of it's own topic, but I'll throw it out there. I've never run a Realms game, but I played in the Realms in 1E, 2E, and 3.xE. In 1E, it wasn't a huge deal, but the games I played in 2E and 3E became increasingly painful to try to deal with the... oddness of the Realms flavor, at least as used by the groups in which I played (mostly PBEM games). If the Realms was "first among equals" or even just "premiere but not sole", I'd be able to suck it up and play at a table using the Realms, even if it wasn't my first choice.

Given the near-rebuild of the Realms in 5E and the fact that I think the Gygaxian flair is too tightly woven into Greyhawk for anyone else to do it justice, I could probably even be talked into using the Realms for "I don't want to think" defaults in 5E if I didn't find it so objectionable to have any setting that tightly tied to the D&D brand. I'd still like to see formal support for Eberron, in 5E, and wouldn't say "no" to a bit more from Ravenloft or Nentir Vale. Really, though, I'd be pretty much as happy with a new setting on the shelf beside the Realms as with an old one.

2) Having tried to convert some of the adventures from their default setting, I'll say that it's a mixed bag. PotA and LMoP weren't too bad. There were some subtle issues around geography with PotA, because it's actually a fairly large area, but the story was no big deal. Tyranny of Dragons, on the other hand, was practically impossible. I got about half-way through it and realized that I'd pretty much broken it down to an outline from which I'd have to rebuild almost the whole thing. Screw that! I've got enough old modules that I never used that would get me there. Also, I've never had a problem with an adventure outline. That's something I can do in my head. It's the actual nuts and bolts that save me time.

I'm actually OK with the idea that some of the adventures would be hardwired into the Realms. It's a popular setting and sells books. Can we just be clear about which ones I can easily convert and which ones will be a headache? I'm not spending $50 on another book that I can't use. So, I almost picked up OotA because I like demons as adversaries and figured it'd be fun to use as a Khyber run, even if I subbed in something for all the drow or just put it on Xen'drik. But, it started to sound like it wouldn't actually be that easy. Then SKT sounded intriguing -- my first AD&D romp was Against the Giants. But, there was some buzz about it being a follow-up to ToD, so I gave it a pass. Maybe I was right, maybe not, but I didn't like the guess work around the difficulty of porting the adventures.

So, that brings us to CoS, VGtM, TFtYP, and XGtE. I actually think this is where I started to get seriously grumpy. Yes, I know the intrusions in these books are mostly inconsequential. CoS has what, 2 pages on the Five Factions? That's just padding to get it to a standard binding. But... it's also totally unnecessary. Why include anything about the Realms (or Greyhawk, et al) in a Ravenloft adventure? Saying "It's for AL" is the wrong answer because this is a general circulation book, not an AL product. It's also dismissive. Why do the other three products all have names that come from the Realms? There are plenty of names from other settings that could have been used, just as a nod. It was such a small thing, yet it speaks so loudly: D&D is the Realms and the Realms is D&D. I'm actually unclear whether VGtM is purely setting neutral or if it has some Realms lore -- I've heard both. I assume that TftYP is unconverted and that XGtE will be about as Realms-specific as the UA material has been (which is to say, pretty generic).

Here's what would "make it all better" in my eyes: At a minimum, make it clear which adventures are pretty hardwired to the Realms and which ones are just using some maps -- slap a logo on it, put "A Forgotten Realms story" in the copy text, or whatever. Put out another "general purpose" book that's named for someone/something from somewhere else. Make a 5E Tome of Magic called Dalamar's Guide to Magic. Make the 5E Magic Item Compendium named The Cannith Guide to Magical Treasures.

Ideally, they'll actually utilize another campaign setting (new or gently used) for an adventure or maybe a SCAG-type guide. Something like the Khorvaire Adventurer's Guide and then open up Eberron on DM's Guild and see what happens.
 

MackMcMacky

First Post
I'm curious how you figure that leaving out a few things is actually not as easy as building an entire new setting from scratch. I run the Realms by excluding or placing into the background most of those, and there's virtually no work at all to do so.

Sent from my VS987 using EN World mobile app
Did you run Hoard of the Dragon Queen? If so, did you remove the Cult of the Dragon and the Red Wizards of Thay out of it?

Also, do you use old 2nd edition FR adventures? If so, did you take the Avatar plot out of the Avatar trilogy?
 

Davelozzi

Explorer
At which point are we no longer using Forgotten Realms?

If I ran a game where the players started in the Oasis town of Waterdeep where the last true dragon held off the Sorcerer-King’s armies from Thay… is that the Forgotten Realms?

[snip!]

So, I’ll pull out the map. Game takes place in the Port City of Waterdeep which is ran by a Council of Gnomish inventors who have good trade relations with the Kender Lords of the Sword Mountains. The main villains will be the Lich Gondendes and his armies which reside in the Kryptgarden Forest.

Is it a realms game?

[snip!]

For the argument, a lot of people will say yes, of course it is, but no one who is asked if they want to play a Forgotten Realms game will think of this when they are asked. It isn’t really a Realms game, or even really based in the Realms.

The argument of “You can just ignore everything and it is still a Realms game” means one of two things to mean.

1) You care so little about the setting that it doesn’t matter what actually happens, in which case that is a poor reason to want to like a setting
2) You are just trying to win the argument.

You have to know something about the Realms to claim you are running a Realms game, and once you accept you have to know something, you really need to learn a lot to make it work. If instead you just ignore everything and do what you want, well, that’s fine... what about this setting makes it worth using then? IF it is so easy to just toss everything to the side... why use any of it at all then?

It seems like this argument is getting a little silly. What you and your group want to consider a Realms game is really between you and them, but sure, I will admit that most folks would probably agree that the two examples you listed are stretching it quite a bit. I would call the former a homebrew combo of FR & Dark Sun and call the latter a homebrew that uses the FR map. But whatever. There is a long way from there to "You have to know something about the Realms to claim you are running a Realms game, and once you accept you have to know something, you really need to learn a lot to make it work."

In my opinion, it's pretty straightforward. If you are using the the Forgotten Realms campaign setting as the primary basis for setting info in your game, it's a Realms campaign. Which FR campaign setting? Any of the above. I am running a FR campaign using the old gray box. I am running a FR campaign using the SCAG. I am using a FR campaign using the 2e box, but without the Time of Troubles. I am running a Realms campaign setting during The Spellplague using the 4e setting. Or as is presently the case for my game, I am running Storm King's Thunder, but set in 1378 rather than 1489 or whatever they are up to in the standard 5e timeline. Pretty straightforward if you ask me.

I happen to have a large library of old school FR products, and I may reference a small handful of them occasionally, but it is certainly not necessary. The Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide provides plenty to run a good Sword Coast-based Realms campaign without any need for any materials from any older editions. Hell, Storm King's Thunder on its own provides plenty enough setting material that you don't really need anything else.

Now, I understand that some folks don't like the Realms, sure fine, don't use them. And likewise, I understand the frustration that some of those folks have with the fact that the other campaign worlds aren't being supported...sure that is annoying if you don't like the Realms. I am not disputing that fact or suggesting that people shouldn't be frustrated.

Further, I agree with Mercule and others who have argued that the some of the new APs are tied closely enough to the Realms that it is probably not worth the effort to decouple them. I don't have OotA, Tyranny of Dragons, or CoS, but Storm King's Thunder definitely fits into that camp. I own but have only skimmed PoTA and that may as well but I'm not sure. I would say Lost Mine of Phandelver could probably be ported pretty easily as the area featured is relatively small and the individual sites could easily be dropped into another frontier region without needing to have the map and travel directions line up in any direct fashion.

So, I am not trying to argue that everyone should like the Realms...of course not, to each their own. However to argue that using the Realms necessitates reading the gigantic backlog of published Realms game products/novels or even a significant chunk thereof is ridiculous. Every version of the campaign setting* contains plenty enough material to run a game set in the Realms. And to argue that doing so defeats the purpose of using the Realms in the first place just doesn't hold water. Some of us love the setting as presented. The Sword Coast is chock full of lost empires, and adventure sites of all sorts. It has vast wildernesses dotted with remote cities standing as bastions of high culture scattered throughout. That's a lot of material to work with for a traditional D&D game. Some of us don't love it, but still like enough of it that we still want to use it and are happy to just drop the stuff that doesn't personally appeal. Some of us think it's good enough and though not our top choice, are busy enough in other aspects of life that we don't have the bandwidth to homebrew our D&D games. We may want to use the APs and don't have the time/inclination to do all the work to port them over to our preferred settings. Those are plenty valid reasons to chose to run a game in the Realms.

* I don't own and haven't read the 4e Realms setting books but I assume the same holds true there as it does of the other editions in that respect at least.
 

Davelozzi

Explorer
Oh, and in regards to folks who complain about having to deal with players who are canon-obsessed Realms fans who know more about the Realms than the DM and are constantly bring that up, sure, I concur that would be annoying. I have never dealt with any of them. In my game, one of my players used to read FR novels as a kid at the same time I did, but neither of us have touched them in 20 years or more and he never has expressed even a hint of dissatisfaction with any changes I have ever made to the setting. The rest of my players know the Realms primarily through the lens of my past campaigns that they have played in. The kind of player who is going to get upset about my game being not as true to the Realms as they want is probably the kind of person I wouldn't really want to play/hang with in the first place. I guess if I was dying to play D&D and hard up for players, that could be an issue, but for me I would only play with someone who I would be willing to hang out with in general. My players are firmly friends first, D&D players second.
 

hawkeyefan

Legend
1) In terms of "vanilla" settings, I actually dislike Mystara more. That's kinda of it's own topic, but I'll throw it out there. I've never run a Realms game, but I played in the Realms in 1E, 2E, and 3.xE. In 1E, it wasn't a huge deal, but the games I played in 2E and 3E became increasingly painful to try to deal with the... oddness of the Realms flavor, at least as used by the groups in which I played (mostly PBEM games). If the Realms was "first among equals" or even just "premiere but not sole", I'd be able to suck it up and play at a table using the Realms, even if it wasn't my first choice.

Given the near-rebuild of the Realms in 5E and the fact that I think the Gygaxian flair is too tightly woven into Greyhawk for anyone else to do it justice, I could probably even be talked into using the Realms for "I don't want to think" defaults in 5E if I didn't find it so objectionable to have any setting that tightly tied to the D&D brand. I'd still like to see formal support for Eberron, in 5E, and wouldn't say "no" to a bit more from Ravenloft or Nentir Vale. Really, though, I'd be pretty much as happy with a new setting on the shelf beside the Realms as with an old one.

Yeah, I was not a Mystara fan at all. Although I thought Hollow World was an interesting concept. I think that's a large part of the problem....so many of the settings are pretty similar. Yes, hard core fans can list many differences from Krynn and Oerth and Toril....but such distinctions are minor in the grand scheme of things. I think that's why they are using FR as a catch all setting.

For me, I use Oerth, Toril, Athas, Golarion, and a homebrew world, all connected by Sigil and the Planes in my campaign. So I already look at them all as being connected and kind of one setting anyway.

2) Having tried to convert some of the adventures from their default setting, I'll say that it's a mixed bag. PotA and LMoP weren't too bad. There were some subtle issues around geography with PotA, because it's actually a fairly large area, but the story was no big deal. Tyranny of Dragons, on the other hand, was practically impossible. I got about half-way through it and realized that I'd pretty much broken it down to an outline from which I'd have to rebuild almost the whole thing. Screw that! I've got enough old modules that I never used that would get me there. Also, I've never had a problem with an adventure outline. That's something I can do in my head. It's the actual nuts and bolts that save me time.

I'm actually OK with the idea that some of the adventures would be hardwired into the Realms. It's a popular setting and sells books. Can we just be clear about which ones I can easily convert and which ones will be a headache? I'm not spending $50 on another book that I can't use. So, I almost picked up OotA because I like demons as adversaries and figured it'd be fun to use as a Khyber run, even if I subbed in something for all the drow or just put it on Xen'drik. But, it started to sound like it wouldn't actually be that easy. Then SKT sounded intriguing -- my first AD&D romp was Against the Giants. But, there was some buzz about it being a follow-up to ToD, so I gave it a pass. Maybe I was right, maybe not, but I didn't like the guess work around the difficulty of porting the adventures.

So, that brings us to CoS, VGtM, TFtYP, and XGtE. I actually think this is where I started to get seriously grumpy. Yes, I know the intrusions in these books are mostly inconsequential. CoS has what, 2 pages on the Five Factions? That's just padding to get it to a standard binding. But... it's also totally unnecessary. Why include anything about the Realms (or Greyhawk, et al) in a Ravenloft adventure? Saying "It's for AL" is the wrong answer because this is a general circulation book, not an AL product. It's also dismissive. Why do the other three products all have names that come from the Realms? There are plenty of names from other settings that could have been used, just as a nod. It was such a small thing, yet it speaks so loudly: D&D is the Realms and the Realms is D&D. I'm actually unclear whether VGtM is purely setting neutral or if it has some Realms lore -- I've heard both. I assume that TftYP is unconverted and that XGtE will be about as Realms-specific as the UA material has been (which is to say, pretty generic).

Here's what would "make it all better" in my eyes: At a minimum, make it clear which adventures are pretty hardwired to the Realms and which ones are just using some maps -- slap a logo on it, put "A Forgotten Realms story" in the copy text, or whatever. Put out another "general purpose" book that's named for someone/something from somewhere else. Make a 5E Tome of Magic called Dalamar's Guide to Magic. Make the 5E Magic Item Compendium named The Cannith Guide to Magical Treasures.

Ideally, they'll actually utilize another campaign setting (new or gently used) for an adventure or maybe a SCAG-type guide. Something like the Khorvaire Adventurer's Guide and then open up Eberron on DM's Guild and see what happens.

Well CoS likely included the Realms as a starting point because some groups would be trying it after the Starter Set Phandelver adventure. And since Barovia/Ravenloft has been a demiplane for a long time now, anyway, that's probably why they went with that approach.

I don't feel that any of the published adventures so far have been that strongly tied to the Realms, with the possible exception of Tyranny of Dragons. Most are generic enough to be used in any setting, really. Although some work may be required depending on exactly how the DM wants to use it and the nature of the setting to which it is being moved, so the amount of effort needed will vary. But moving any of these from Forgotten Realms to Greyhawk? I don't see the challenge at all.

I am sure we'll see other settings in some capacity at some point. The form in which we see them is the question. Even FR hasn't gotten a true setting book....so I can't see them doing another one. But a planar adventure combined with a guide to Sigil? Sure, something like that as a setting book seems likely.
 

ccs

41st lv DM
I'm actually OK with the idea that some of the adventures would be hardwired into the Realms. It's a popular setting and sells books. Can we just be clear about which ones I can easily convert and which ones will be a headache? I'm not spending $50 on another book that I can't use. So, I almost picked up OotA because I like demons as adversaries and figured it'd be fun to use as a Khyber run, even if I subbed in something for all the drow or just put it on Xen'drik. But, it started to sound like it wouldn't actually be that easy. Then SKT sounded intriguing -- my first AD&D romp was Against the Giants. But, there was some buzz about it being a follow-up to ToD, so I gave it a pass. Maybe I was right, maybe not, but I didn't like the guess work around the difficulty of porting the adventures.

I'm going to go with "NO".
Because we can't tell you how hard something will be for you to convert to your own needs. To find that answer you've got to read the stuff yourself.

So, that brings us to CoS, VGtM, TFtYP, and XGtE. I actually think this is where I started to get seriously grumpy. Yes, I know the intrusions in these books are mostly inconsequential. CoS has what, 2 pages on the Five Factions? That's just padding to get it to a standard binding. But... it's also totally unnecessary. Why include anything about the Realms (or Greyhawk, et al) in a Ravenloft adventure? Saying "It's for AL" is the wrong answer because this is a general circulation book, not an AL product. It's also dismissive.

For people just like you who need to be told how to fit the thing into whatever campaign setting your using.
Besides, a page or so of ideas on how to place an adventure in a setting isn't anything new. I've got 1e adventures that cover this. I've got 2e adventures that do this. I've got 3x adventures that do this. And now I have 5e adventures that do it....


Why do the other three products all have names that come from the Realms?.

$$.
I'm sure WoTC has determined that FR names are what will sell the best.


I'm actually unclear whether VGtM is purely setting neutral or if it has some Realms lore -- I've heard both.

It's both. In the end it boils down to this: Do you want a section that expands PC race choices? Do you want a book of more monster stats? If yes to either of these, then buy this book & ignore any fluff that doesn't fit whatever your doing.
If you don't, or if you've got some hang-up about FR bits, then don't.
 

MackMcMacky

First Post
...So, I am not trying to argue that everyone should like the Realms...of course not, to each their own. However to argue that using the Realms necessitates reading the gigantic backlog of published Realms game products/novels or even a significant chunk thereof is ridiculous. Every version of the campaign setting* contains plenty enough material to run a game set in the Realms. And to argue that doing so defeats the purpose of using the Realms in the first place just doesn't hold water. Some of us love the setting as presented. The Sword Coast is chock full of lost empires, and adventure sites of all sorts. It has vast wildernesses dotted with remote cities standing as bastions of high culture scattered throughout. That's a lot of material to work with for a traditional D&D game. Some of us don't love it, but still like enough of it that we still want to use it and are happy to just drop the stuff that doesn't personally appeal. Some of us think it's good enough and though not our top choice, are busy enough in other aspects of life that we don't have the bandwidth to homebrew our D&D games. We may want to use the APs and don't have the time/inclination to do all the work to port them over to our preferred settings. Those are plenty valid reasons to chose to run a game in the Realms.

* I don't own and haven't read the 4e Realms setting books but I assume the same holds true there as it does of the other editions in that respect at least.
The topic is why FR is "hated". The topic wasn't why 'no one should like FR'.

I think some DMs are also collectors. They may not want to play in a setting without having all or much of the material out there. For those DMs the approach of just using the basic Forgotten Realms sources and running from there wouldn't work.

Personally, I collected quite a few of the older supplements when I was young and optimistic that I would like the next supplement I bought more than the ones before it. Eventually, I realized that wasn't the case.
 

Mercule

Adventurer
Yeah, I was not a Mystara fan at all. Although I thought Hollow World was an interesting concept. I think that's a large part of the problem....so many of the settings are pretty similar. Yes, hard core fans can list many differences from Krynn and Oerth and Toril....but such distinctions are minor in the grand scheme of things. I think that's why they are using FR as a catch all setting.

For me, I use Oerth, Toril, Athas, Golarion, and a homebrew world, all connected by Sigil and the Planes in my campaign. So I already look at them all as being connected and kind of one setting anyway.
I never really liked the Planescape tweaks to the cosmology (or maybe it was just the slang), but I'd love to see them shift from the Realms as the anchor to Planescape, just because it emphasizes that it's a big table. Maybe have the adventures set in the Realms, but use Planescape factions along side Realms factions. Dunno. It's a half-baked thought.

I don't feel that any of the published adventures so far have been that strongly tied to the Realms, with the possible exception of Tyranny of Dragons. Most are generic enough to be used in any setting, really. Although some work may be required depending on exactly how the DM wants to use it and the nature of the setting to which it is being moved, so the amount of effort needed will vary. But moving any of these from Forgotten Realms to Greyhawk? I don't see the challenge at all.
That's good to know. I'm sure you can understand feeling a bit gun shy after ToD. Maybe I'll pick up SKT. I'm definitely going to grab TftYP. I just haven't done so, yet.

I am sure we'll see other settings in some capacity at some point. The form in which we see them is the question. Even FR hasn't gotten a true setting book....so I can't see them doing another one. But a planar adventure combined with a guide to Sigil? Sure, something like that as a setting book seems likely.
I think part of the issue is that Wizards has been saying "We won't stay in the Realms forever," pretty much since the beginning of 5E. It really seems like they're doubling down on the Realms, though, rather than opening things up.
 

Remathilis

Legend
I apologize if this has been said earlier...

Forgotten Realms gets flack for doing things a LOT of other settings do, to a greater or lesser degree. Lets take some of the classic criticisms leveled at it...

1.) Its too Generic.

Of course it is, its a kitchen sink setting designed to hold a LOT of baggage from 40 years of D&D growth. Greyhawk and Mystara have similar issues; they were used as the default setting for two editions. Nentir/Nerath and Golarion were DESIGNED for it. It make sense to have a setting where all options are available.

2.) Its a mishmash of tropes and real-world analogies.

Mystara says hi. Its the setting where you can describe whole nations with the sentence "its like X, but with the serial numbers filed off." (Where X = Medieval Iceland, Imperial Rome, Renaissance Italy, the Ottoman Empire, and Native American tribal lands; all sharing borders).

3.) It has Uber-NPCs and revolves around Meta-Plots/World-Shaking Events.

Dragonlance laughs and laughs... Krynn's meta-plot makes the Realms look like a thumbnail sketch, and Raistlin was literally killing Gods; take that Elminster!

Outside of that, even Greyhawk has the Circle of the Eight; which is "9 mean-spirited Elminsters" personified.

4.) Gods Walk the Land

Iuz says hi. Fizban would too if Paladine wasn't dead.

5.) It has funny names.

Verbobnoc, Garyx, Furyondy.

6.) It has high-magic Wahoo factor!

Eberron has magical trains. Mystara has airships. Have you SEEN the old Greyhawk modules and the magic items in those?



The inherent problem is that D&D was born of a "do-it-yourself" mantra that worked fine for some ardent enthusiasts (I know, I was a homebrewer) so any attempt to create a "unified" setting (be it Faerun, Oerth, Mystara, Nerath, or even "the multiverse") is going to meet with sneers and disdainful glances. Even Golarion (which is Pathfinder's kitchen-sink generic setting) gets a pass by most Pathfinder players. The Realms are not flawless, nor are they a good example of top-down design, but I really can't think of a setting that better encapsulates the whole of D&D's rules and fluff better than Faerun. Considering no setting will ever really be able to be "D&D's Golarion", might as well use their most well-known one...
 

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