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5E Why FR Is "Hated"

Mecheon

Explorer
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.
Bingo

There's just too much stuff about FR. See, a fantasy kitchen sink can work, FR's problem is that it has mind-numbing details about everything and it hurts the setting

I mean, if I want to just shove a village somewhere random into most settings and its fine. But oh no, not Forgotten Realms. FR will tell you no, that village doesn't exist, but here's these 205 other random villages, how many buildings are in each one, the name of every inn, their best and worst selling drinks, the exact vintage of random wine they've got out in the back that the barkeep's saving for his kid's engagement party, and the exact details of their yearly crop harvest down to the individual stands of hay

I'm not sure how its possible to suck "Fantasy" out of "Fantasy Kitchen Sink" but Forgotten Realms manages it.
 

cbwjm

I can add a custom title.
Do people really feel that they can't just add and alter forgotten realms? If you want a random village somewhere then you add it.

Sent from my SM-G925I using EN World mobile app
 

Hussar

Legend
Do people really feel that they can't just add and alter forgotten realms? If you want a random village somewhere then you add it.

Sent from my SM-G925I using EN World mobile app
That's the thing though. If I'm just going to add my own stuff anyway, why am I using a setting with an Encyclopedia Britannica level of detail?

I'd rather use a general level setting and add my own stuff. Afaic even Eberron is too bloody big. All these different continents with material? No thanks.

Give me a setting that is about the size of... I dunno... France. And I'm perfectly happy. I'm using Primeval Thule right now and I'm barely going to scratch the surface in the campaign despite trying to make exploration a major element of the game.

And Thule is smaller than the Sword Coast. And it's still too big.
 

Aldarc

Adventurer
That's the thing though. If I'm just going to add my own stuff anyway, why am I using a setting with an Encyclopedia Britannica level of detail?

I'd rather use a general level setting and add my own stuff. Afaic even Eberron is too bloody big. All these different continents with material? No thanks.

Give me a setting that is about the size of... I dunno... France. And I'm perfectly happy. I'm using Primeval Thule right now and I'm barely going to scratch the surface in the campaign despite trying to make exploration a major element of the game.

And Thule is smaller than the Sword Coast. And it's still too big.
You can pick your "France" in Eberron. :p
 

Zardnaar

Adventurer
Way I look at it is no one is forcing you to use all the FR stuff its there if you want it. Last time I ran a sandbox FR game (vs an AP) I just used the 1990 FR Adventures book.

I have used Elminster once (the 1994 boxed set adventre in the 90's) and I name dropped Drizzt the other day in PotA (Some goody two shoe elf named Drizzt something or other hah!).
 

Hussar

Legend
Way I look at it is no one is forcing you to use all the FR stuff its there if you want it. Last time I ran a sandbox FR game (vs an AP) I just used the 1990 FR Adventures book.

I have used Elminster once (the 1994 boxed set adventre in the 90's) and I name dropped Drizzt the other day in PotA (Some goody two shoe elf named Drizzt something or other hah!).
And that's absolutely true. But, if I'm going to use a published setting and then eject 99% of the material for that setting, what makes FR a better choice than any other setting? It is a kitchen sink setting and isn't all that unique.

So if I'm paring down to a book or two of setting material, what puts FR ahead? Why would I choose it? Why would I not instead choose a setting that fits with the tropes and themes of my campaign?

Isn't the primary draw of FR the mountain of material you have to pull from?
 

Zardnaar

Adventurer
And that's absolutely true. But, if I'm going to use a published setting and then eject 99% of the material for that setting, what makes FR a better choice than any other setting? It is a kitchen sink setting and isn't all that unique.

So if I'm paring down to a book or two of setting material, what puts FR ahead? Why would I choose it? Why would I not instead choose a setting that fits with the tropes and themes of my campaign?

Isn't the primary draw of FR the mountain of material you have to pull from?
No I would argue its the quality of the material like the 3.0 FRCS and its easy to approach.

Try comparing it with words in Greyhawk for example and things like "Iggwilv" and Dragonlance was better as a novel line than a campaign setting. The Greybox is also well regarded. They spammed material for FR because they couldand it was popular, its not required at all IMHO. There have been plenty of bad decisions in FRs product cycle though (crap novels, ToT, Spellpague etc).Even Drizzt was interesting early on or even up to 1999 or so.
 

JeffB

Adventurer
Hmm..

I find FR naming conventions pretty generic blah, compared to settings like GH (though GH has a few that are tough to take, they are/were made as a nod to Gary's family, friends and players and not meant to be so "real" and "serious" as FR is.)

That said, sounds like a 8 year old kid came up with alot of the names in FR...Eveningstar, Waterdeep,Unermountain, Shadowdale, Storm Silverhand, Florin Falconhand, Darkhold, Neverwinter, Moonbeam Fancypants,etc..
 

Mecheon

Explorer
That said, sounds like a 8 year old kid came up with alot of the names in FR...Eveningstar, Waterdeep,Unermountain, Shadowdale, Storm Silverhand, Florin Falconhand, Darkhold, Neverwinter, Moonbeam Fancypants,etc..
My favourite random Warcraft thing is there's a city there called Silvermoon

Which rolls off the tongue so much better than Silverymoon that FR has
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Same here, I hate the Forgotten Realms (if it needs to be tracked somewhere).
It is. It's tracked by WotC who determined that it was simply a numbers thing. So many hate it because so many MORE love it. Love it or hate it, it's the main campaign and isn't likely to change.
 

lowkey13

I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
It is. It's tracked by WotC who determined that it was simply a numbers thing. So many hate it because so many MORE love it. Love it or hate it, it's the main campaign and isn't likely to change.
So, I'm going to quibble with this a little.

Let us assume that WoTC is owned by Hasbro.

Let us further assume that Hasbro likes making money.

Let us further assume that a great way to make money is to monetize IP.

Let us further assume that one of the great ways to make money right now, when monetizing IP, is to create "shared cinematic universes." So much so that we have the Marvel Cinematic Universe (and TV shows), the DC Universe (and Arrowverse), the Universal Horror Universe (Tom Cruise is THE MUMMY ... or, in the Mummy, or something), and even the Hasbro Cinematic Universe (really ...).

If these assumptions are true, then it would follow that TTRPGs are just a pleasant side business for Hasbro. The real money would be in making some money off of the IP. Keep the TRUE FANS(tm) engaged and happy so they can evangelize a later property, but otherwise ... whatever.

So, if you take these assumptions as true, then it necessarily follows that you need a shared universe that is IP ready for the future. Some of them are too specific (Dark Sun, Eberron). Some of them are too weird to launch (Planescape, Spelljammer).

You need a generic fantasy campaign. Which pretty much leaves the two major ones - GH and FR.

With FR, you already have a base of familiarity due to the computer games and numerous novels. For better or worse, it is the better IP to develop- because there's already so much cruft out there.

In short, it's entirely a business decision. Unfortunately, TTRPGs are just a rounding error for Hasbro at this point. We are the tail, not the dog.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
So, I'm going to quibble with this a little.

Let us assume that WoTC is owned by Hasbro.

Let us further assume that Hasbro likes making money.

Let us further assume that a great way to make money is to monetize IP.

Let us further assume that one of the great ways to make money right now, when monetizing IP, is to create "shared cinematic universes." So much so that we have the Marvel Cinematic Universe (and TV shows), the DC Universe (and Arrowverse), the Universal Horror Universe (Tom Cruise is THE MUMMY ... or, in the Mummy, or something), and even the Hasbro Cinematic Universe (really ...).

If these assumptions are true, then it would follow that TTRPGs are just a pleasant side business for Hasbro. The real money would be in making some money off of the IP. Keep the TRUE FANS(tm) engaged and happy so they can evangelize a later property, but otherwise ... whatever.

So, if you take these assumptions as true, then it necessarily follows that you need a shared universe that is IP ready for the future. Some of them are too specific (Dark Sun, Eberron). Some of them are too weird to launch (Planescape, Spelljammer).

You need a generic fantasy campaign. Which pretty much leaves the two major ones - GH and FR.

With FR, you already have a base of familiarity due to the computer games and numerous novels. For better or worse, it is the better IP to develop- because there's already so much cruft out there.

In short, it's entirely a business decision. Unfortunately, TTRPGs are just a rounding error for Hasbro at this point. We are the tail, not the dog.
So you think that WotC was lying when it said that FR is overwhelmingly the most liked setting? And that they chose the FR as their main focus for books in 3e(prior to Hasbro) for the hell of it?
 

jasper

Rotten DM
Ok since some of you mentioned it, what exactly is canon for 5E FR? Please point to hardbacks, AL, or official documents stating what is canon. Links to Amazon for source material would be helpful too.
 

jayoungr

Explorer
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 ...
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.
As I suspected--expectations. Both of those considerations carry exactly zero weight with me and my group. And we've definitely never felt "small and unimportant."

(Not saying you folks don't have a right to your opinions, of course.)

If I can save the entire world without ever leaving my home region, then presumably someone in the next region can also save the entire world without anyone over here finding out about it.
That would never even occur to my group. For me, it's like complaining that Godzilla always attacks Tokyo. The story is where the characters are.

*shrugs*

(For the record, I'm not a Forgotten Realms junkie, but I don't have anything against it either, and the fact that it's "kitchen-sink" does not bother me at all.)
 
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Mirtek

Explorer
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.
And that's THW difference between us and to a large degree between those two fanbases at large: I want official answers, not my own answers from my campaign.
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.
At release they actually said to never advance at all. Way before 4e was even thought of.

Was supposed to be one of THW seling points of the new setting. Even explicitly declared the novels as non canon (thus i never bothered to buy any of them)
 

guachi

Villager
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.
Exactly. Like I said earlier, too much cruft. I'm sure there were people who loved to follow all this stuff. It You certainly see it with comic books and Star Wars. But when Star Wars wanted to do sequels, they jettisoned all of it and set it aside as some kind of alternate reality. It appears to have worked well enough.

As far as I'm concerned, anything that happened to the Realms outside of adventures should not be canon.

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.
This is the kind of metaplot I could handle, one where the adventures actually change things in setting. If I'm playing D&D, the only thing that should affect the world are things that occur in the D&D game. The MCU is its own separate thing. The FR book-universe should be its own separate thing from the FR-game universe.

I think it's why I like Known World so much. The only novels occurred at the end of the setting's run and there weren't too many of them. The rest of the setting incorporates events from the modules or mentions how to incorporate the events from modules. This makes the game central, not some external actors in books.
 

Mercule

Adventurer
With FR, you already have a base of familiarity due to the computer games and numerous novels. For better or worse, it is the better IP to develop- because there's already so much cruft out there.

In short, it's entirely a business decision. Unfortunately, TTRPGs are just a rounding error for Hasbro at this point. We are the tail, not the dog.
I absolutely think that WotC/Hasbro should monetize the crap outta the Realms. I'd just prefer that they actually branded it as "Forgotten Realms". D&D is a medium. The Realms are an IP with story, etc.
 

lowkey13

I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
So you think that WotC was lying when it said that FR is overwhelmingly the most liked setting? And that they chose the FR as their main focus for books in 3e(prior to Hasbro) for the hell of it?
Well, this gets a little complicated, and there are several books and sources on this. But it goes to a few factors- money, and feelings.

On the first, there is a constant undercurrent regarding the IP for Greyhawk. Without going into too many details, and regardless of your beliefs on the matter, it's more complicated than FR. To simplify matters, Greyhawk is owned by Wizards (Hasbro), but certain aspects of it might not be, and certain aspects of it (including characters etc.) might be owned by people that left when Gygax left (Kuntz), and there was always a possibility that the TSR/Wizards/Hasbro claim might not be completely, 100% litigation proof. I mean ... nothing ever is, but you know.

FR is easier. It was done when TSR was slightly more mature, and has been lawyer-proofed much more successfully over time.

So money was always a reason.

The second reason is the feelies. Ousting Gygax (which also led to the departure of certain people associated with him) caused a rift in the company and the larger gaming community. This can best be seen by WG7, Castle Greyhawk, released in 1988 (released three years AG- after Gygax). In essence, the module was a poison pen letter to EGG, which both trashed his beloved dungeon by making it a parody, and had a bunch of not-so-thinly-veiled references to the corporate culture of TSR/Gygax mixed into the parodies. So there was an avowed effort to distance the property (D&D) from Greyhawk.

So you had a period from approximately 1985 - 1997 when TSR was distancing itself from GH and actively pushing FR more and more. Yes, there were numerous exceptions- the Estes series of books (cancelled despite sales) and Jim Ward getting a hardcover book done (which was fan driven).

This is why, even when WoTC brought back GH for Living GH, there was a split in the playing community; those who remembered the old GH, and those who had been turned by the success of the various FR properties.

But when you ask why they kept up the FR publishing, for example, it's because they had been pumping out FR books since, what, 1987? 1988? It's because FR (for various reasons outlined above) was more of an IP-friendly area. And it still is.

And this is a divide that continues today. There are people that enjoy FR because it is so detailed. They like the FR wiki. They like knowing everything there is to know about it. And that's fine! And there are others that dislike it for the exact same reason. For those, the lack of development of GH is a feature, not a bug. And this all goes back to the original divide.
 

Derren

Adventurer
The problem with the metaplot is that the NPCs and novel protagonists are doing exactly the same thing than what the PCs are supposed to do and often do it better because of plot armor.
The metaplot is basically in competition to the PCs.

Compare that to the metaplot in Shadowrun (which also isn't without criticism and many GMs ignore it). The metaplot is mostly driven by corporations, hugely powerful entities like great dragons and free spirits or just happen. And the PCs are not supposed to solve those problems. They do not go out to slay Lofwyr or compete with a megacorp. Instead they use the current events to get work for money and maybe idealism. But at no point does the metaplot or any of its protagonists do the things the PCs are supposed to do as they operate on a completely different level. Instead the metaplot provides the DM with different reasons for Runs than the usual "company A wants something company B has".

In D&D/FR though the PCs are supposed to save the world which is exactly what the NPCs are doing too.
 
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Kramodlog

Adventurer
I can say what people like about it and from those I can guess what people do not like.

What is liked:

1- Details. The FR is the most detailed setting. Greenwood gave TSR a rich setting with a long history and dept. No setting has come close to it, although there was a desire to recreate this dept with Eberron.

2- Diversity. Everything and nothing is the FR.

3- Support. The FR evolved and aged. It made the setting alive.

What people do not like:

1- Details. Some DMs feel that too much detail in a setting stiffules their creativity. Some also feel pressure to respect the canon history of a setting and some players also add to that pressure. Some people just want a map.

2- Diversity. There is too much stuff to manage in the FR. Some people will feel they can't, to name one example, have a post-apocalyptic setting with low technology and magic in the FR. Logically, tech and magic would leak into that pot-apocalyptic zone rapidly.

3- Support. The FR changed too much over the years and there is too much info to track, not counting the world shacking events that happen too often and have lost meaning. Again, some people just want a map.

I'm sure other settings would get as much hate as the FR, if only those settings would have been as wide spread and used as the FR. Ravenloft was rebooted too many times and they didn't always bothered to explain the changed in setting, but Ravenloft was a niche setting. Dark Sun was awesome, but was rebooted with the first series of novels and the setting never managed to get its act together after that. It also struggled to produce rich flavorful material. But again, it was just too niche for have a critical mass of haters. Planescape was rich, but it never did have coherent creative vision or a central map that could give players a mental image of the setting. Etc, etc.
 

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