Dungeons and Dragons: The Forgotten Realms
Let’s get back into talking about some of the Worlds of Dungeons and Dragons, I’m talking about what I’d consider to be the most vanilla of their settings first, though, there are some that give it a run for its money. That, of course, is the one which most of the books for Fifth Edition D&D has come out in, The Forgotten Realms.
The Forgotten Realms, also known as the lands of Faerun, is your standard fantasy setting in that it’s a world that’s made for the important people to be epic heroes in the end. The struggle for characters isn’t if they can become a hero, but what sort of hero they are going to become. It’s very much in the realm of a Lord of the Rings or Wheel of Time, where there isn’t a question that they are going to become the heroes of the story or who those heroes are, but the question is how that story will unfold for them becoming a hero.
Now, if you’re reading this and that sounds great, that’s why it’s their main setting. It allows you to be that hero it allows you to play in tropes that you’re going to be very familiar with. People know Lord of the Rings or understand the concepts of that type of story telling because how it’s been integrated into society. And it is also nice because basically anything goes for a story. Just from what has been officially released from Dungeons and Dragons, you have adventures where you can fight dragons, demons, giants, pull a heist, defeat a god, and more. It is made to have something for everyone.
That’s also the weakness of it. It’s very generic because of that. You can’t but in an odd quirk about it if you’re going to have any sort of adventure there. As we get into some of the other worlds you can play in, in Dungeons and Dragons, you’ll find that they are more tailored for a specific style of game. Because this is more generic, it’s more versatile, but it’s always going to feel a little bit plain. I would refer to The Forgotten Realms as D&D’s starter world. It’s a good thing for that, but for people who have been steeped in fantasy for a long time, or in RPG’s for a long time, it’s going to feel a little bit too vanilla.
Let’s talk a little bit about what The Forgotten Realms has for people to explore. Again it’s fairly standard as well, you have a handful of nations, but then city states and towns scattered across the realm. Unlike a Star Wars planet, there is a diverse ecosystem that you can play your games in, again, giving you that massive variety of locations so that the world can support whatever type of game you want to play in it. A lot of the adventures are at least going to start from the Sword Coast and the main city there is going to be Waterdeep. Waterdeep does offer you some interesting things, basically masked lords who are running the city, but keeping their identities secret (or most are). If you want to play a more political and smaller game without characters wandering through the world, Waterdeep is where you’re likely going to set the game.
There are more things to talk about as we look at races and classes. Though, this is going to be fairly boring, again. Dungeons and Dragons Fifth Edition is set in The Forgotten Realms, that means that all the races and classes from the players handbook are going to work just fine in your game. If you want to play something more unique, there are options for those in some of the expanded content for the game, but you’re mainly going to see your standard races and standard classes in there. This, again, is going to be good for that starter setting for players who know some about fantasy but aren’t ready to jump into a fantasy where tropes don’t hold up and expectations are being subverted.
And, finally, just to talk about magic and the gods of this world. This is a pretty high magic world. While I’m going to get to worlds that have more magic, being a caster isn’t something that would be all that surprising. Especially with how the gods interact with the world. They are very much a part of it, and for that reason you have Clerics and Paladins who are going to be casting divine magic that you could see around the lands. There are Wizarding schools and plenty of beings who will be happy to make a pact with you. Again, it feels somewhat basic with their magic and gods. They want it to be normal so that players don’t have to feel like they need to play the outcast character if they are playing someone who is all about proselytizing or if they have magic.
So, to wrap up, The Forgotten Realms are a great starter location. It’s going to be a little bit bland, but it’s going to be familiar to even people who don’t know a ton about fantasy, because this is standard fantasy and parts of the world are even standard writing/story. Would I play a game in the Forgotten Realms, sure I would, though, I’d try to push it weirder than the setting would normally go to create a sort of unique feel to the game that makes it feel different than Lord of the Rings and Wheel of Time.
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