• Welcome to this new upgrade of the site. We are now on a totally different software platform. Many things will be different, and bugs are expected. Certain areas (like downloads and reviews) will take longer to import. As always, please use the Meta Forum for site queries or bug reports. Note that we (the mods and admins) are also learning the new software.
  • The RSS feed for the news page has changed. Use this link. The old one displays the forums, not the news.

5E Why FR Is "Hated"

gyor

Adventurer
Too much cruft. Which is basically what others have said. I just wanted to use the word cruft.

I had a real hard time debating whether to get Known World Gazetteers or Forgotten Realms Gazetteers​ when both debuted in 1987. I decided on Known World. Back then, though, FR was like a new comic book series that wasn't weighed down by hundreds of back issues.

Online, I so rarely see people talk about the Forgotten Realms as anything other than "the Forgotten Realms". I rarely see people mention specific nations, cultures, features they find interesting. The Realms are just a monolithic indistinct blob. I assume that's not the case but all I read about are meta plot and NPCs.

At least the sub settings in FR have a distinct flavor (I love Al-Qadim) but the main one is bland.

When people discuss my favorite setting, Known World, you'll see discussions of the overall tone (a bit gonzo, eg.) but you'll also see people discuss specific nations and cultures they like or don't like. The discuss it like there are real differences between Glantri and Karameikos.

Forgotten Realms is just so bland.
FR is a setting of interlocked setting, each subsetting has it's motiff, you break it down to regions.

So you have the obvious in Al-Qadim (fantasy Islamic World) and Kara Tur (Fantasy Asia), Maztica (Fantasy Mesoamerica).

Then within Faerun proper you have major regions like the Lands of Intrigue (Spain/Turkish/Moorish), the Old Empires (Ancient Empires lead by incarnate Gods), and so on.
 
Last edited:

Dorian_Grey

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)
I know I'm super late to this party, but I'm working on my Egyptian setting for 2nd Edition. The Egyptian style kingdom is sort of the center of everything and generally neutral good - but is lead by priest-kings who have been mummified. So necromancy isn't necessarily seen as bad/evil. Halflings represent a type of swamp dwelling reed folk, while gnomes from the jungles and canyons to the south are bandits/raiders. Elves are Assyrians. Gnolls are the primary bad guys.

Anyway, it's been fun to write up. I also have the ruins of an ancient civilization buried in the southern jungles which was a powerful empire. The remnants are where the bronze age Egyptian characters go exploring
 

schnee

Villager
'Hate' would require something to be previously loved.

I just think it's a bit of a bore.

It's a good enough setting for fiction, but it's too defined to allow players to make a mark.

I prefer a more wild, untamed, unsettled, mysterious environment.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Why? Just because its fantasy doesn't mean that basic logic gets thrown out of the window. It works as long as you do not ask questions or poke it. Fantasy has nothing to do with it.
To each their own.

There is easily a difference of 1 millennia between the earliest and the latest of those cultures
Oh, more than that: the Sumerians reached their height long before the Greeks got going. More like a 2000-year span.

and most of the time the pop culture understanding people have about a culture is closely tied to its used technologies. This either means that either you end up with a society nobody actually recognizes at what it is or that there are extreme technological differences between close neighbouring nations which make no sense.
Or you don't put the extremes right next to each other. :) Sure there's long-range trade - usually by sea - but most common folk don't travel very far and can thus remain insular within their own culture.

The other aspect (which I also do, after a very rough and unbased-in-anything-factual fashion) is to bring the older cultures forward in a sort of what-if-they'd-lasted exercise. What if the Greeks (and Celts, and various others) hadn't been clobbered by the Romans. What if the Norse had stayed true to themselves. What if an Aztec-like culture had developed somewhere less isolated than it was? And so forth.

Yet another aspect to consider is religion. In the real world the insertion of one society's religion into another society caused massive changes (e.g. the northward spread of Christianity). But in the game world each society has its own deities and pantheon to defend it, and said deities are far more active and "real" than we're used to. Monothestic religions are uncommon, and mass conversion attempts are likely to meet much more resistance from the deities being displaced. Thus, each individual culture has a stronger and more lasting foundation in the game world than it might have had in the real one.

Lan-"also remember that in the game world there's often large tracts of wild monster-filled lands separating these various cultures"-efan
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I know I'm super late to this party, but I'm working on my Egyptian setting for 2nd Edition. The Egyptian style kingdom is sort of the center of everything and generally neutral good - but is lead by priest-kings who have been mummified. So necromancy isn't necessarily seen as bad/evil.
Neutral-good Necromancers. Heh. I'll be interested in hearing how you pull that off. :)
 

gyor

Adventurer
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.
That is an extreme overstatement, FR never tried to detail every single village, nothing stops you from adding a village.

And the powerful NPCs issue is another Red Herring, just don't use them if you don't want to.

Or play villians that takes out those NPCs.

Or have the NPCs act as mentors to the PCs, a kind of passing of the touch.

Or cause a situation where the PCs have to rescue Elminster.

Have Elminster go on vacation, he can use it.

So yeah it's detailed, it adds immersion.

The real reason the some people online hate FR (and the are smaller, but loud then the fans obviously), is the WotC made the bad decision to focus mostly on one setting, FR (although barely even that), and left the other favourite settings that people love rotting on the vine.

This created a us vs. them situation where FR is seen as being in the way of other setting.

It's not good for FR as it causes haters and it's not good for none FR fans, because their favourate settings rot on the vine.


WotC has not been handling settings very well. They should be doing two Setting Core books per year, but they haven't even done one (SCAG is a snack it doesn't count).

And all haters who are like FR is too detailed, she love 5e FR were barely anything gets detailed. We don't even know FRs current cosmology.
 
So, I'm seeing two particular objections to the Realms as a setting that I do feel the need to rebut...


1. That the setting is too detailed, which eliminates DM flexibility and forces a prospective DM to follow precisely what is detailed in print.

Recently, when I have been running FR-based games, including my current TftYP campaign, I've been using a homebrew town as the campaign's home base. It's located on the River Chinonthar, about halfway between Elturel and Baldur's Gate. It's right where a town servicing the river trade would reasonably located, and in an area that is relatively less detailed. And there are plenty of such areas across the entire setting - interstices between detailed regions where a DM can plop down a home base/dungeon/creepy forest/howling wasteland to his or her heart's content. But, while detailing that location, I still have the background of the rest of the setting to utilize: if I or my players want to visit or get involved in the intrigues of a big city, well Baldur's Gate is a couple of days journey downstream. The Fields of the Dead to the north gives ample opportunity for haunted ruins and humanoid tribe. Want to include a dark and mysterious forest? The Wood of Sharp Teeth is just to the south! Since all these have been detailed, I can use all that detail once the game moves outside the home base. Basically, with a highly-detailed setting, I have the luxury of being able to create my own detailed regions/sites, but don't have to do all the work once the story moves to a more detailed location (and even then, I can add or subtract what I feel necessary, although I don't tend to do so too much since it can ruin the verisimilitude of the setting).


2. That there are too many powerful NPCs who steal the spotlight from the characters.

Um... why in the world would Elminster, or Drizzt, or any of the other major NPCs be doing in a river town in the Western Heartlands? Surely they are busy keeping the world safe from other threats closer to home, and not worried about the most recent goblin attack on outlying villages in my town's area! At most, I could see a "celebrity sighting" type deal if the players were to visit Candlekeep and Elminster is there on business, but he's not going to interact with the party in any meaningful sense other than background color for the setting. Heck, I've even run games in Shadowdale itself, with both Elminster there to give a quest or two, but usually with Elminster not available and out of town for whatever inscrutable reason. Powerful NPCs are a tool like any other in the DM's armory, and I don't see any reason to feel obliged to use them if the DM doesn't want to. If I may ask those who are bringing up this objection - why do you feel that a DM running a Realms campaign is obliged to have powerful NPCs be a significant part of a game?
 
Last edited:

Maxperson

Orcus on an on Day
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.
I get the differences between FR and Greyhawk, but WotC shows that of the 45% of players who use an established setting, 35% of them use the FR. That makes it by far the most popular setting. Maybe it's because it was pushed so hard. Maybe it was pushed so hard because of the popularity. Maybe it's a combination of both. I lean towards it being a combination of both since when FR started being pushed hard(2e), there were a number of settings that would have been "litigation proof". Why then did the Realms get the lion's share of the love?
 

Maxperson

Orcus on an on Day
Why is FR hated? Because percentages.

What was the breakdown Mike gave way back when about how the percentages played out with campaign settings from their info? Like 55% homebrew, 35% Forgotten Realms, 10% all others?

Well, whatever it was... FR popularity is a minority percentage. Thus *most* people don't like it at all. But then again, even more people don't like Greyhawk. And Eberron. And Planescape. And Dark Sun.
Your logic is flawed there. 55% use homebrewed settings. That does not equal 55% disliking the Realms. The only thing you can really take away from that is that they like homebrewed setting better. Liking something better doesn't mean that you dislike the other thing. I like 10,000 dollars a whole lot. I like 100,000 better.
 

Saelorn

Explorer
Um... why in the world would Elminster, or Drizzt, or any of the other major NPCs be doing in a river town in the Western Heartlands? Surely they are busy keeping the world safe from other threats closer to home, and not worried about the most recent goblin attack on outlying villages in my town's area!
At low levels, sure, Elminster is too busy to handle whatever goblins the party is dealing with. By the time the party hits level 20, they are the equal of Elminster, and the threat they face is global in scale. That's what epic-level heroes do, is that they face threats to the entire world.

Either Elminster and the other Legends of the Realm should be showing up to help, or there has to be some good reason for why they are not. What could possibly be more important than saving the world?
 

Maxperson

Orcus on an on Day
I want my campaign settings to be about me integrating my ideas as a DM and highlighting the actions of my players. FR is just packed with Mary Sues who do all the heavy lifting. Also I want more humanoid-centric intrigue, there are precious few large, powerful and relatively stable kingdoms to play with. The Sword Coast is a bunch of city states that seem to exist as adventurer lily pads rather than hot spots for plots and wickedness. Say what you will about Grayhawk but it at least had some good, old feudalism to draw players in from time to time.
That's just it, though. They don't do all the heavy lifting. The PCs get to do all of saving the world without the interference of Elminster or anyone else. Why? Because they are off doing their own thing and they can't stop in the middle to take care of something else. If the PCs fail to save the world, the world ends.
 

Hussar

Legend
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?
Umm, that's not right. Greyhawk was the main focus of 3e, not Forgotten Realms. 3e used Greyhawk as the baseline setting - gods, locations, heck one of the first big adventures was Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil. It wasn't until after Hasbro got into the act that Forgotten Realms got any real traction.
 

Maxperson

Orcus on an on Day
Umm, that's not right. Greyhawk was the main focus of 3e, not Forgotten Realms. 3e used Greyhawk as the baseline setting - gods, locations, heck one of the first big adventures was Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil. It wasn't until after Hasbro got into the act that Forgotten Realms got any real traction.
Er, you are seriously equating a few lines of text about the Greyhawk gods, a few magic item and spell names, and 5 modules, with 31 Forgotten Realms product releases, most of which were hardcover books? Greyhawk didn't even come close to being the main focus of 3e. You could take out 5 realms products, reduce Greyhawk to 0, and still have 26 more.
 

Hussar

Legend
Well I'm using it because the maps already drawn & has been on my shelf for years & years....
And that Encyclopedia Britannica detail? It's a tool. If I don't feel like making up all the details of place x I'll just google it then pick & choose.
Fair enough. And that's the difference. You HAVE that tool (I presume). You bought the books and have the option of using that material if you like. I never did. Outside of a couple of FR books back in 2e, I never bought any FR stuff. It wasn't for me.

So, for me, as someone who has never really bought into FR, what does using FR offer to me that any other setting doesn't? Like I said, if I'm going to only use a tiny sliver of the FR material out there, why would I bother using FR? Why not use any other setting, where, instead of ignoring 99% of the published material for that setting, I can use 99% of it?

That's why I am using Primeval Thule. Could I run a campaign like this in FR? Oh quite probably. Chult would work quite well for what I'm doing. I'm quite sure there are other regions of FR that would also fit in a pinch. That's why they can add in pretty much any module from any setting into FR - the setting is so big that you can find a place for anything.

Fair enough. And for those who have a grounding in the setting, that's a huge bonus. But, for me, it doesn't offer me anything that another setting doesn't, and, comes with all this other stuff that I have no interest in, don't want to use, and just confuses the issue.

I'll give you an example. In Thule, there are no planes. Demons, and various other extra planar critters are now called Extraterrean (sp) and are considered to come from other planets. There's also a very large element of Cthulhu Mythos in the setting. Additionally, clerics in Thule are considered, more or less, just a wizard with better organizational skills. Being a priest of a Lawful Good (or Chaotic Evil) god does not dictate your behavior. Once you are a cleric, that's it. You don't "pray" for your spells from any god. They just come, just like a wizard. Which means that clerics are no longer constrained by their class to behave a certain way. ((And, it tends to mean that all clerics are far more like cults and not in a good way :D ))

This is something I can't do in Forgotten Realms. Not without ejecting pretty much everything to do with the gods in the setting. So, even though I could run my "Jungle exploration" style campaign in Chult, it would still be a Forgotten Realms campaign, complete with the setting assumptions of that setting.

IOW, if I'm going to strip out 99% of the lore of the setting, why would I use that setting? Why not use a setting that better suits what I want?
 

Hussar

Legend
Er, you are seriously equating a few lines of text about the Greyhawk gods, a few magic item and spell names, and 5 modules, with 31 Forgotten Realms product releases, most of which were hardcover books? Greyhawk didn't even come close to being the main focus of 3e. You could take out 5 realms products, reduce Greyhawk to 0, and still have 26 more.
You might want to check your dates. Hasbro acquired WotC in 1999. The first Forgotten Realms product wasn't released until October of 2000 with the FRCS coming out in June 2001. I was quibbling with your characterization that 3e was grounded in the Realms before Hasbro got into the act. That's not true.

Remember, this is what you said:

Maxperson said:
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?
It's that "prior to Hasbro" part that is mistaken. Prior to Hasbro, there was not a single Forgotten Realms supplement produced.
 

Maxperson

Orcus on an on Day
You might want to check your dates. Hasbro acquired WotC in 1999. The first Forgotten Realms product wasn't released until October of 2000 with the FRCS coming out in June 2001. I was quibbling with your characterization that 3e was grounded in the Realms before Hasbro got into the act. That's not true.
I don't hang with .5's for editions. I refer to the one single edition as 3e. :)
 

Hussar

Legend
I don't hang with .5's for editions. I refer to the one single edition as 3e. :)
But... that has nothing to do with what you said. You said, and I'll quote it a THIRD time:

And that they chose the FR as their main focus for books in 3e(prior to Hasbro) for the hell of it?
How, exactly, did they chose the FR as their main focus for books in 3e prior to Hasbro when they did not produce a SINGLE FR book, supplement or product until TWO YEARS AFTER Hasbro acquired WotC?

Or, did you mean after the Hasbro acquisition?
 

Maxperson

Orcus on an on Day
But... that has nothing to do with what you said. You said, and I'll quote it a THIRD time:

How, exactly, did they chose the FR as their main focus for books in 3e prior to Hasbro when they did not produce a SINGLE FR book, supplement or product until TWO YEARS AFTER Hasbro acquired WotC?

Or, did you mean after the Hasbro acquisition?
The first 3e FR release happened the year 3e was released. The first 3e Greyhawk release happened that same year. Clearly the amount of subsequent releases, Greyhawk almost none and FR 25 shows what the focus of the edition was.

Edit: 3e was released AFTER Hasbro bought WotC, so yes, I'm talking about after Hasbro bought them, and so are you since we are discussing 3e.
 

Hussar

Legend
The first 3e FR release happened the year 3e was released. The first 3e Greyhawk release happened that same year. Clearly the amount of subsequent releases, Greyhawk almost none and FR 25 shows what the focus of the edition was.

Edit: 3e was released AFTER Hasbro bought WotC, so yes, I'm talking about after Hasbro bought them, and so are you since we are discussing 3e.
Thank you. That was my quibble.
 

Advertisement

Top