Some thoughts on how to approach the 5e Forgotten Realms.

I'll state this right off the bat, I'm not a fan of 4e in general, much less the 4e Realms.  The reasons are many and varied, but they're largely irrelevant to this thread, I'm just pointing it out.  I'd prefer to keep it at that as far as edition stuff is concerned.  You either like it or you don't, and that's all that really needs to be said on the matter.

Moving right along...

I've read a lot of calls for a retcon to sweep away the changes to the 4e Realms, and while a little part of me likes the notion, the Gamer part of me says "Hells No!".  In a lot of respects, the 4e Realms felt like it was caving into the demands of Realms Haters who endlessly, and often baselessly, decried this or that aspect of it.  I'd hate to be guilty of that myself, and so I say, just move the setting on from 4e, make whatever changes to it in 5e that are desired, and just be done with it.  That's the way it always seemed to work before, and I don't see a compelling reason to change that beyond sour grapes, which I think is what got us into this mess in the first place.

If I had one wish for 5e though, it would be a return to the unreliable narrator aspect of the setting.  One of the big reasons I think 3e encouraged so much thinking that you were beholden to some notion of Canon was that its language was all 3rd person omniscient.  My own preference would be to deliver the history and themes of the setting from a narrative approach, giving the DM much more room to tailor things to their liking if they wish, rather than being chained to just one interpretation of the Realms society and culture set down in black and white.  I guess that boils down to some idea of not giving the more legalistic players anything they can point to and saying such and such has to be this way, because it said so on pageXX.

Certainly some things are better presented in those black and white terms, and would be ill-served by the uncertain narrator approach, terrain and climate coming to mind most readily.  But for stuff like speaking of regions and settlements and peoples, the narrative can also impart much more information by giving us a feel for how different social classes and professions view the world, how a given region speaks and thinks, and lots of other subtext that a narrative approach can offer, all with the convenience of being able to ignore it if it doesn't appeal to us personally.

So I guess what I'm asking is how others feel about the idea of this sort of approach to campaign building?  Which approach is preferred, the hard 3rd person, or the soft 1st person, or do you even care so long as its the Realms?  My own perspective is coming from a pure DMing PoV, and I'm curious to see what others think who get to see the others side of the screen, as it were.

As an aside, in regards to the thread that Eric started, my own preference would be to simply release previous edition materials in .pdf format and call it done, though maybe with some suggestions on how best to convert it to such and such an edition, skipping the multiple era built-into-the-ruleset entirely.

"Be careful to choose your enemies well.  Friends don't much matter.  But the choice of enemies is very important."  

- Oscar Wilde

all i can say is i have the old gray box, kara-tur box, city system, and FR 1-6 1e books and i still liked the 4e spin on it but not so much the layout and style of the book.

as far as perspective goes, i prefer it like the old days, some general info, then elminster's twist on it. thats what gave it flavor for me
retcon = evil
That's a well thought out and surely relevant point. But I think it's key that the Forgotten Realms go bacvk to being the standard high magic setting. D&D imo needs one unapologetically high magic world, one that the people who think that magic needs to be scarce for the sake of the games grittyness know to avoid from the outset, and who people who want to be able to experiment with weird concepts or writing random high power spells feel comfortable in.
 
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I would say, don't have a world changing event "yet" again.  Enough with that.. Just put of the new rules.  
If I had one wish for 5e though, it would be a return to the unreliable narrator aspect of the setting. 

THIS.

I would like this to happen. Give us back some uncertainty. Sure, some of the material should be black and white, but the adventure hooks, the place descriptions, anything having to do with the outer planes...make that not so specific.

Instead, give DMs enough hooks, hints and ideas so they feel inspired to fill in the details.

One of the Realms best traits was its ability to act as a jump-starter for Dungeon Masters.

With a motiviated Dungeon Master, you're nine tenths of the way to a successful D&D game, no matter what else happens.
Go back to 1376. The Spellplague never happed or make it a module of a parallel universe FR.


The Spellplague created a rift in time and there's a parallel Realms that never had the Spellplague happen in it, but there are very rare and dangerous ways to cross between them! ;P

I have no idea what I'm talking about.
I think out of respect for all those novel writers that did their best to rebuild the flavor of the Realms these last 2 years, they should give the post spellplague era a chance.

The Realms used to have a present and a past, when 4th edition came out, it only had a past left. None of the 4th edition novels were out back then. The FR Campaign Setting was an empty shell. Now there's a little 'present' to put in the book thanks to all those writers (and no thanks to WoTC), with a little luck, it won't be as bad.     
Go back to 1376. The Spellplague never happed or make it a module of a parallel universe FR.




They have the chance to correct perhaps the greatest error in the history of D&D in what was done to FR in which the setting was sacrificed with glee like so many other 'sacred cows' to force the core 4e PoL tropes and default world flavor and history into it. They can correct that with a reversion to 1376 and going forward from there, or they can stick to their guns and keep the Spellplague and associated material in FR in some watered down form.

However if they keep all of that material which seems largely rejected by their own fanbase, they risk never regaining the fans that FR once had. They risk irrevocably damaging the IP of the setting (and it already may be too late for that), and it will likely exist in the future only as a shadow of its former self that grows ever more faint with each passing year as its previous fans go onto other things and other settings rather than live with the distaste of the Spellplague as a lingering object even if it's only around in some reduced capacity.

It's a nonstarter for me as far as 5e is concerned (at least in terms of my wanting to play a 5e FR. I'll still play other 5e material for other settings of course, and we'll see how they go as we learn more eventually).
Shemeska the Marauder, Freelancer 5 / Yugoloth 10
I think a mix of both would be best, but it would be important to use the right one for the right purpose. Having Elminster explain to the reader why he and his friends don't take down the big guns of FR is interesting to see for his perspective, but is not great for universal understandings (Hey Elminster, maybe you should have stopped Cyric before 1385!).   

 
They can correct that with a reversion to 1376 and going forward from there, or they can stick to their guns and keep the Spellplague and associated material in FR in some watered down form.

However if they keep all of that material which seems largely rejected by their own fanbase, they risk never regaining the fans that FR once had. They risk irrevocably damaging the IP of the setting (and it already may be too late for that), and it will likely exist in the future only as a shadow of its former self that grows ever more faint with each passing year as its previous fans go onto other things and other settings rather than live with the distaste of the Spellplague as a lingering object even if it's only around in some reduced capacity.



So, are you volunteering to tell the Hasbro Executives that WotC is going to disavow the last 5 Driz'zt books?


If for no other reason, the Spellplague years will be acknowledged because WotC's real book moneymaker (R.A. Salvatore) has continuity in it.

"Ah, the age-old conundrum. Defenders of a game are too blind to see it's broken, and critics are too idiotic to see that it isn't." - Brian McCormick

 


            I really believe WOTC should just put their hands in the air and step away from the forgotten realms every time a game company touches it they mess it up a little bit more. Ed Greenwood should be solely responsible for the forgotten realms time line and the events in it. Make Ed the editor for every forgotten realms book if he says no spell jammer then no spell jammer if he says retcon spellplage then make it so. Ed greenwood is one of the most amazing fantasy writers of all time if you’re not using him to wright and edits the setting he invented then you’re behind the door.

I think a mix of both would be best, but it would be important to use the right one for the right purpose. Having Elminster explain to the reader why he and his friends don't take down the big guns of FR is interesting to see for his perspective, but is not great for universal understandings (Hey Elminster, maybe you should have stopped Cyric before 1385!).



So after the Realms Shaking Event to end all RSEs, plus a hundred year jump carried through four years of an entirely new version of the setting still has not reduced the perception that all the settings problems cannot be solved by a few NPCs.

Great job, WotC!

Granted WotC gave no one a choice, not the NPCs, not the PCs, not the GMs, not the fans. The Spellplague was coming and that was final.

            I really believe WOTC should just put their hands in the air and step away from the forgotten realms every time a game company touches it they mess it up a little bit more. Ed Greenwood should be solely responsible for the forgotten realms time line and the events in it. Make Ed the editor for every forgotten realms book if he says no spell jammer then no spell jammer if he says retcon spellplage then make it so. Ed greenwood is one of the most amazing fantasy writers of all time if you’re not using him to wright and edits the setting he invented then you’re behind the door.




The FR isn't Ed's baby anymore. It hasn't been for a while actually. Drizzt, the Silver Marshes, the North, Neverwinter or Luskan are just as iconic as Elminster, the Dalelands and Waterdeep. Of course some authors contributed more than others, but they all contributed.

Whoever invented the spellplague obviously wasn't a FR fan though... But now it's done... Maybe it was time to start a Darksun or Planescape campaign.
This may be a somewhat odd idea . . .

If a forward-moving idea for 5E involves a core class and multiple layers that can be added to a character, couldn't realms have similar approaches?

For instance, the core FR setting would involve a world that is still coming to terms with the Spellplague's havoc-wreaking shifts and changes.  

But an optional layer would describe a huge change to the Realms.  As an example, let's say Ao is unhappy with the loss of Mystra and the Weave, so he hands her portfolio--if he has to take it from someone, so be it--to a suitable deity. Magic returns to the Realms.  The Spellplague is eventually mitigated through complex and powerful spells and wards, and civilizations change as powerful magic once against rests in the hands of archmages.  

Yes, this design approach would require a fair amount of work, but I think it could be accomplished in a small chapter.  Magic items lose their level requirements and become useful again.  Magic plays a role in the safety, security, and governance of towns, cities, and kingdoms.  

I think an important note with regard to any further changes to the FR setting is as follows: we've had the past, we've adventured through the years leading up to the Spellplague, and we are adventuring in the post-Spellplague world, so any changes should not merely reset the clock or take us back to where we've already walked, fought, won, and died.
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