Open Letter to WoTC - We want more novels!

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So I started a discussion over on Candlekeep about the disturbing lack of novel releases coming in 2013.  A few of the Realms authors have chimed in with the idea that WoTC is waiting to see how the Sundering novels sell before going forward with more or less novels per year.  I find this pretty alarming since I felt that Realms novel sales have always remained pretty strong and steady.  I've never seen any numbers on this, so I am just going on an assumption.  I know that I buy every novel they release.    I've also gotten pretty used to having at lease one Realms novel a month to read over the years (give or take a novel).  But now things are starting to slow down and it looks like The Last Threshold coming out in March will be the last Realms novel until The Companions comes out in August.  That's far too much of a void.  There are two perfectly good novels that were set to be released in 2012 that have been canceled for some reason.  WoTC should release Rise of the Zhentarim: Bound by Blood & Demon Weave in those intervening months.


But what worries me more is the possibility that the novel line could be greatly diminished if sales of the Sundering novels don't meet expectations.  I'd like to get some answers as to why those two novels were canceled.  Did they feel like we wouldn't have purchased them?  Was there some story lines in them that didn't fit with what they have planned for the Sundering?

So if you are a dedicated novel reader and want to see more stories released and not less please let your thoughts be known here.  We need to get WoTC's attention to let them know that there is a market for Realms stories.  At the very least set up a place where authors can write and release online short stories from the WoTC website.  It's a great model and I know it would be very popular with the fans.

I'd be happy to purchase more paper novels if WotC would return to including quotes from Realms personages at the beginning of each chapter--at the very least for novels Ed Greenwood writes, if for no other author.

Getting things like pages dedicated to maps or a list of the cast of characters would be nice too.

It's the little things like this that make Realms novels better. It's what makes them stand out and be awesome.

In a world of shrinking shelf space and fewer brick and mortar stores (my favorite Barnes & Noble just closed), WotC's novels need to be the best they can be or otherwise find ways to be unique, as opposed to being more or less like every other novel out there.
So would you rather have more novels released per year with just the text and maybe a few maps here and there?  Or less novels but everyone has a map and a character list?  I get the sense that the reason we don't see at least a map in every novel is due to the cost.  It maye be a small cost, but I don't think the addition of maps and other such material would bring the sales to cover the cost of these additions.  This is at least for print.  I think with the lowered cost of producing eBooks, this would be a more cost effective addition.
Interesting, 61 views but only one person responds.  Maybe I over estimated the interest in Realms fiction.  Kind of a shame if that is true. Cry
need more realms stuff .....
a mask everyone has at least two of, one they wear in public and another they wear in private.....
oh and mroe fiction too
a mask everyone has at least two of, one they wear in public and another they wear in private.....
I'll admit Im not a big fan of the novels, I spend most of my money on the game products, most of the novels ive read have been too over the top and changes the Realms forever or whatever or theyre so mediocre that it just puts you to sleep. 

Although that Rise of the Zhentarim: Bound by Blood sounds very interesting, I would definitely pick up something like that. Not sure about Demon Weave what is a demon weave anyways? Theyre not adding in another 'Weave' of magic are they?
I survived Section 4 and all I got was this lousy sig Off-topic and going downhill from there
If they judge the future of the Realms novels on how well the Sundering that doesn't bode well. I also buy every novel they release, but I always wait for the softcover release and never buy any hardcovers. So if they count the initial sales I won't be part of it, since the softcover always arrives some month later
I'll admit Im not a big fan of the novels, I spend most of my money on the game products, most of the novels ive read have been too over the top and changes the Realms forever or whatever or theyre so mediocre that it just puts you to sleep. 

Although that Rise of the Zhentarim: Bound by Blood sounds very interesting, I would definitely pick up something like that. Not sure about Demon Weave what is a demon weave anyways? Theyre not adding in another 'Weave' of magic are they?





the demon weave is a creation of Lolth..... or is something she is attempting to create  
a mask everyone has at least two of, one they wear in public and another they wear in private.....
My theory on the two canceled novels is that the paths they were going in them conflicted with the path ultimately decided for the Sundering.  But the only whole in that theory is that they've already delt with the Demon Weave in at least two other novels.  
I have a huge D&D novel collection that is split evenly between FR and Eberron (for which I have every printed release), and even includes the newer Dark Sun novels and Pentad reprints.

I can only assume they weren't making the profits they'd like to see, and decided to try the ebook format. I don't buy ebooks, myself. I still have a hard time paying for something on which I can't lay hands. Maybe that's a hurdle I'll be forced to overcome, eventually, but I haven't yet.

As Mirtek said, judging the future of the novels upon the sales of the hardback releases of The Sundering series could be unfortunate. I never buy hardback novels. If I really want to read them soon after release, I can simply check out a digital copy from the library and read it on my iPad for free, without even getting off my butt.

I hope we get more novels, in the future. I'm happy, at least, that the Erevis Cale storyline will see another book. Eberron is my favorite world, and has seen a much higher percentage of well written books, in my opinion. Yet, the Eberron line, presumably even more niche than FR, was basically moth-balled. It's sad, considering the talented writers with great characters and stories yet to tell.
But the only whole in that theory is that they've already delt with the Demon Weave in at least two other novels.  



Which novels if you don't mind me asking?  I'm not really up to date with what happens in the novels.  I started reading reading FR novels again a while ago and I'm slowly catching up.
I would very much like to see more novels.  Historically I did not buy all of the Realms novels (although the Sundering interests me and I will be buying all of these) but I bought many of them and will continue to do so (and have been working on getting the onces I missed as ebooks).  I was also a huge fan of the Eberron novels and bought them all when they were released.
The Demon Weave as a novel may be missing, but the main concept is still part of canon, considering that "Lolth tries to overlay Faerun with a demonic energy Weave in order to take over Mystra's portfolio" was the main thrust of the "Rise of the Underdark" campaign.

Why the Demon Weave novel wasn't published is something of a mystery, but it does probably have something to do with WotC's plans for the Sundering.  Maybe something in it didn't quite "jive" with what they intend for the future, or perhaps it conflicted with something revealed about Mystra or the blueflame items in Elminster Enraged, or maybe it was cancelled for another reason.

And I think it's more than a little odd that Lolth's plot wasn't even mentioned in the Elminster trilogy.

Interesting, 61 views but only one person responds.  Maybe I over estimated the interest in Realms fiction.  Kind of a shame if that is true. 


I haven't been very interested in recent Realms fiction, except for the last Elminster trilogy.  And while I very much enjoyed the first two books of that, the last one - Elminster Enraged - ended pretty badly IMO.  Super cheesy.

If they want me to buy into the Sundering, it better be spectacularly good, character-driven, and not just another massive RSE.
But the only whole in that theory is that they've already delt with the Demon Weave in at least two other novels.  



Which novels if you don't mind me asking?  I'm not really up to date with what happens in the novels.  I started reading reading FR novels again a while ago and I'm slowly catching up.



The Spider and the Stone and Spinner of Lies are the two I can think of off the top of my head.  I think there are a few more novels that it was mentioned in but not delt with directly.

But the only whole in that theory is that they've already delt with the Demon Weave in at least two other novels.  



Which novels if you don't mind me asking?  I'm not really up to date with what happens in the novels.  I started reading reading FR novels again a while ago and I'm slowly catching up.



The Spider and the Stone and Spinner of Lies are the two I can think of off the top of my head.  I think there are a few more novels that it was mentioned in but not delt with directly.




See, this is the attitude that I have a problem with and the attitude which I think is killing the Realms fiction.  There have been so many people who have boycotted Realms products either due to the changes brought on by the edition changes or as in your case a percieved lack of quality.  There is even a third sect who are boycotting due to WoTC's policy of selling some novels as eBook only.  I feel that these boycotts might be doing their job too well but having unintended consequences.  Instead of giving into demands, WoTC seems to be in "Put Up or Shut Up" mode for the fiction line.

Sure, I haven't liked or agreed with some of the changes or directions that the Realms have taken over the past 20 years.  But for me, as long as it was set in the Realms I was going to get some form of enjoyment out of it.  Not every novel can be a great novel, or even a good novel.  But for me, most of them have been very enjoyable.  So I buy every novel I can.  If it's not a well written one, then that is a loss I am happily willing to accept in order for the brand as a whole to remain strong.


See, this is the attitude that I have a problem with and the attitude which I think is killing the Realms fiction.  There have been so many people who have boycotted Realms products either due to the changes brought on by the edition changes or as in your case a percieved lack of quality.  There is even a third sect who are boycotting due to WoTC's policy of selling some novels as eBook only.  I feel that these boycotts might be doing their job too well but having unintended consequences.  Instead of giving into demands, WoTC seems to be in "Put Up or Shut Up" mode for the fiction line.

Sure, I haven't liked or agreed with some of the changes or directions that the Realms have taken over the past 20 years.  But for me, as long as it was set in the Realms I was going to get some form of enjoyment out of it.  Not every novel can be a great novel, or even a good novel.  But for me, most of them have been very enjoyable.  So I buy every novel I can.  If it's not a well written one, then that is a loss I am happily willing to accept in order for the brand as a whole to remain strong.


If you keep buying things that you don't actually like, I'd consider that a waste of money.  But more than that, it sends the message that you're still more than happy to buy low-quality and/or disliked material.  The only thing they hear from a sale is "more of the same, please" and nothing else.

It's true that not every novel can be a great - or even good - story.  But it's not my responsibility or duty to support a novel, splatbook, or supplement that I passionately dislike or won't use.  I'm just a customer, and they will not have any incentive to change unless people vote with their wallets.

Quite frankly, the Realms have changed quite dramatically - so much in fact that it seems like an entirely different setting to me.  So if they're planning on keeping the Spellplague/TimeJump as part of history rather than doing a re-set, then this "Sundering" better be the most top-notch story they've ever done.  Don't blame me or other customers if it fails, though - they did this to themselves.

See, this is the attitude that I have a problem with and the attitude which I think is killing the Realms fiction.  There have been so many people who have boycotted Realms products either due to the changes brought on by the edition changes or as in your case a percieved lack of quality.  There is even a third sect who are boycotting due to WoTC's policy of selling some novels as eBook only.  I feel that these boycotts might be doing their job too well but having unintended consequences.  Instead of giving into demands, WoTC seems to be in "Put Up or Shut Up" mode for the fiction line.

Sure, I haven't liked or agreed with some of the changes or directions that the Realms have taken over the past 20 years.  But for me, as long as it was set in the Realms I was going to get some form of enjoyment out of it.  Not every novel can be a great novel, or even a good novel.  But for me, most of them have been very enjoyable.  So I buy every novel I can.  If it's not a well written one, then that is a loss I am happily willing to accept in order for the brand as a whole to remain strong.


If you keep buying things that you don't actually like, I'd consider that a waste of money.  But more than that, it sends the message that you're still more than happy to buy low-quality and/or disliked material.  The only thing they hear from a sale is "more of the same, please" and nothing else.

It's true that not every novel can be a great - or even good - story.  But it's not my responsibility or duty to support a novel, splatbook, or supplement that I passionately dislike or won't use.  I'm just a customer, and they will not have any incentive to change unless people vote with their wallets.

Quite frankly, the Realms have changed quite dramatically - so much in fact that it seems like an entirely different setting to me.  So if they're planning on keeping the Spellplague/TimeJump as part of history rather than doing a re-set, then this "Sundering" better be the most top-notch story they've ever done.  Don't blame me or other customers if it fails, though - they did this to themselves.




I feel that maybe 1-2 books a year that I buy/read are sub-par and that is a cost I am willing to eat for the 8-9 entertaining books I get from them each year.  I want to see the Realms do well and to continue to be provided with entertainment from this IP.  But as for this voting with your wallet thinking.  I could understand your mentality if WoTC was putting out mostly sub-par products.  But they aren't.  Most of it is is very good and very entertaining....at least from the fiction side.  So answer me this.  Do you believe that more than half of the 10-12 novels released per year for the past 10 years have been sub-par and not worthy of your attention?  How many of the 4E novels have you even read?

I feel that maybe 1-2 books a year that I buy/read are sub-par and that is a cost I am willing to eat for the 8-9 entertaining books I get from them each year.  I want to see the Realms do well and to continue to be provided with entertainment from this IP.  But as for this voting with your wallet thinking.  I could understand your mentality if WoTC was putting out mostly sub-par products.  But they aren't.  Most of it is is very good and very entertaining....at least from the fiction side.  So answer me this.  Do you believe that more than half of the 10-12 novels released per year for the past 10 years have been sub-par and not worthy of your attention?  How many of the 4E novels have you even read?


Game-side, the last thing I bought was an adventure in 3.5E.  I've seen and read all the 4E material and will not buy it because I don't like any of it.

Novels-side, the last thing I bought was the Baker trilogy with Araevin.  Everything since then, I've read but have borrowed from friends or from the library (more often the library, as my friends have also stopped buying a lot - especially digital books).

As such, I've read every novel and have seen every supplement, except for some of the non-Realms supplements.  I don't really follow Eberron, and I've missed some general rulebooks.  But the Realms?  I've read 95% of it, and I haven't been impressed.

And I also didn't like everything that happened in 2E-3E either.  But I did buy almost all of it, novels and game books.  Big difference IMO.

So would you rather have more novels released per year with just the text and maybe a few maps here and there?  Or less novels but everyone has a map and a character list? 

To the extent that it's feasable for the story, I'd like to see a map included in every novel, regardless of how many are published per year.

If it's a city-based novel, give me a map of where the most action is in that city.

If it's a regional adventure, give me a map of the region.

Regardless of map type, make it interesting. it doesn't have to be uber-detailed, but it ought to include relevant locations featured in the story and hopefully shed light on a place not previously detailed/lightly detailed in existing Realms products.

In that way a novel can also be like a miniature sourcebook. This makes it more collectable for Realmslore enthusiasts. I've based a lot of my campaigns around events in novels.

If the novel can include a character list or something Realmslore related (maybe some clarifying information about an interesting element of the novel that is otherwise only briefly mentioned in the context of the story), all the better.

I get the sense that the reason we don't see at least a map in every novel is due to the cost.  It maye be a small cost, but I don't think the addition of maps and other such material would bring the sales to cover the cost of these additions.  This is at least for print.  I think with the lowered cost of producing eBooks, this would be a more cost effective addition.

I grant that it might be cheaper in ebooks, but I don't think a single printed page with a map on it is really that terribly expensive to produce. WotC has got to have so many maps on file that I can't imagine it being that hard to resize a map and update a map key.

I feel that maybe 1-2 books a year that I buy/read are sub-par and that is a cost I am willing to eat for the 8-9 entertaining books I get from them each year.  I want to see the Realms do well and to continue to be provided with entertainment from this IP.  But as for this voting with your wallet thinking.  I could understand your mentality if WoTC was putting out mostly sub-par products.  But they aren't.  Most of it is is very good and very entertaining....at least from the fiction side.  So answer me this.  Do you believe that more than half of the 10-12 novels released per year for the past 10 years have been sub-par and not worthy of your attention?  How many of the 4E novels have you even read?


Game-side, the last thing I bought was an adventure in 3.5E.  I've seen and read all the 4E material and will not buy it because I don't like any of it.

Novels-side, the last thing I bought was the Baker trilogy with Araevin.  Everything since then, I've read but have borrowed from friends or from the library (more often the library, as my friends have also stopped buying a lot - especially digital books).

As such, I've read every novel and have seen every supplement, except for some of the non-Realms supplements.  I don't really follow Eberron, and I've missed some general rulebooks.  But the Realms?  I've read 95% of it, and I haven't been impressed.

And I also didn't like everything that happened in 2E-3E either.  But I did buy almost all of it, novels and game books.  Big difference IMO.




Well, at least you read the material.  My purpose isn't to try and convince you or anyone to actually like what has been going on in the Realms.  That's your business.  I just want to see those who like the fiction to voice their opinion so that WoTC knows that we are here and we don't want to see a decline in the number of novels released.
So would you rather have more novels released per year with just the text and maybe a few maps here and there?  Or less novels but everyone has a map and a character list? 

To the extent that it's feasable for the story, I'd like to see a map included in every novel, regardless of how many are published per year.

If it's a city-based novel, give me a map of where the most action is in that city.

If it's a regional adventure, give me a map of the region.

Regardless of map type, make it interesting. it doesn't have to be uber-detailed, but it ought to include relevant locations featured in the story and hopefully shed light on a place not previously detailed/lightly detailed in existing Realms products.

In that way a novel can also be like a miniature sourcebook. This makes it more collectable for Realmslore enthusiasts. I've based a lot of my campaigns around events in novels.

If the novel can include a character list or something Realmslore related (maybe some clarifying information about an interesting element of the novel that is otherwise only briefly mentioned in the context of the story), all the better.

I get the sense that the reason we don't see at least a map in every novel is due to the cost.  It maye be a small cost, but I don't think the addition of maps and other such material would bring the sales to cover the cost of these additions.  This is at least for print.  I think with the lowered cost of producing eBooks, this would be a more cost effective addition.

I grant that it might be cheaper in ebooks, but I don't think a single printed page with a map on it is really that terribly expensive to produce. WotC has got to have so many maps on file that I can't imagine it being that hard to resize a map and update a map key.




I'm in the same boat, it can't cost that much more to add these small additions.  But I'd take the devil's advocate view and tried to make the penny pinchers within the company arguement.  But the bottom line for me is to preserve the current release schedule.
I'm in the same boat, it can't cost that much more to add these small additions.  But I'd take the devil's advocate view and tried to make the penny pinchers within the company arguement.  But the bottom line for me is to preserve the current release schedule.

I hear you there.

As I understand it, Hasbro has decread that the games side at WotC (i.e. D&D) has to hit its own revenue projections all on its own and can't be lumped in with Magic and everything else.

I wish the bean counters at WotC, as well as Hasbro management, would understand that D&D has never been the giant bag of money that Magic and collectable card games are.

While I'm sure they'd like to make D&D into a giant bag of money, 4th Edition and the failed Realms MMO hopefully made them realize you don't throw the baby out with the bathwater.

D&D needs to be about D&D first. That includes novels that have maps, quotes at the top of chapter headers and little additions like character lists or bits of Realmslore that make them distinctive and unique.

I say all this knowing full well that brick and mortar bookstores are closing left and right, so available shelf space is shrinking. To me this means WotC needs to try harder to stand out and be the best in order to grab some of that shrinking space.

So I started a discussion over on Candlekeep about the disturbing lack of novel releases coming in 2013.  A few of the Realms authors have chimed in with the idea that WoTC is waiting to see how the Sundering novels sell before going forward with more or less novels per year.  I find this pretty alarming since I felt that Realms novel sales have always remained pretty strong and steady.  I've never seen any numbers on this, so I am just going on an assumption.  I know that I buy every novel they release.    I've also gotten pretty used to having at lease one Realms novel a month to read over the years (give or take a novel).  But now things are starting to slow down and it looks like The Last Threshold coming out in March will be the last Realms novel until The Companions comes out in August.  That's far too much of a void.  There are two perfectly good novels that were set to be released in 2012 that have been canceled for some reason.  WoTC should release Rise of the Zhentarim: Bound by Blood & Demon Weave in those intervening months.


But what worries me more is the possibility that the novel line could be greatly diminished if sales of the Sundering novels don't meet expectations.  I'd like to get some answers as to why those two novels were canceled.  Did they feel like we wouldn't have purchased them?  Was there some story lines in them that didn't fit with what they have planned for the Sundering?

So if you are a dedicated novel reader and want to see more stories released and not less please let your thoughts be known here.  We need to get WoTC's attention to let them know that there is a market for Realms stories.  At the very least set up a place where authors can write and release online short stories from the WoTC website.  It's a great model and I know it would be very popular with the fans.




Honestly, since the War of the Spiderqueen came out, I think the only realms novels I have read were the new Salvatorre books.  Most of the other stuff that's come put, I've read the back, thought "That's not really sounding very interesting" and putting it back on the shelf.  Before the War of the Spiderqueen I read just about everything.  I can't say if my tastes have changed, or if the product line itself has changed, but regardlessm my interest in the novels isn't what it used to be.  To be realistic, I very rarely read Dragonlance stuff anymore either, which I used to catch the vast majority of, so it's probably likely my tastes have changed.

I do want to read the Shadowbane stuff and the Brimstone Angels stuff, mainly because ESdB and EME have been very cool, and accessible here on the forums.  Other than that though, very little really catches my eye anymore.  I'm sure I can't be the /only/ person like that...so it's possible that sales are just down.
Crzyhawk just posted something that really made me sit and think:  have my tastes changed?  Or is it something about the overall tone of the novels lately?  I really think it's the latter.

Up until mid-to-late 3E, it seemed that there was a lot of variety in the stories.  Most of them also felt more like adventure and exploration, making discoveries and having hope. 

With the return of Netheril, it quite literally cast a dark shadow over the mid-central core of the Realms.  It felt like major setback after major setback, with loss of entire cities, increased conflict and outright wars.  Just dark, dark, dark, negatives on top of more negatives.  Gone are the days when I could pick up a new FR novel and just read a fun adventure that involved stopping the bad guys and discovering cool new things.

The Spellplague era took the heavy and dark to an even darker and heavier level.  That's why I don't like it.  Post-apocalypse heaviness with a proliferation of undead and demons, where demon pacts aren't all that bad and the celestials/angels all feel defeated and down, it's just not my thing.  Humans are on the back-back-back shelf, with "special" races taking the limelight - but they aren't doing much better, things are still dark and depressing.

I think that's why I'm not all that excited for yet another cataclysm / Sundering, where things are so bloody bad that AO has to fix the world rather than a stalwart band of heroes.  I'm not even all that interested in epic storylines that "save the world" every time.  I'd rather have smaller scale, local stories that explore and adventure and fight the good fight.

So it's not my tastes, they haven't changed.  It's the world, it changed.

I found out a long time ago never to judge a book by it's back cover.....I know it's so cliche.  The most recent example of this was the Spider and Stone novel that came out last November.  I really REALLY hate the drow.  Mainly because I think that WoTC keeps going back to that old well and it is dried up. But I was caught up with all of the novels at that point so I bought it and gave it a go.  To my surprise I actually really enjoyed it.  Sure it involved the drow, but it was mainly written from the dwarven perspective.  Something that we rarely get.  Although the Gilded Rune was from the dwarven perspective as well and that was a great novel.

But to my point, I never let a Realms story pass me by.  As I said before, sure I am not happy with the direction the Realms has taken.  But that is kind of the appeal for me.  I am being taken on a journy by the authors and the rest of the Realms team who shapes the world.  I enjoy the writing and the stories so in the end it doesn't matter what state the Realms is in.  

I guess what it comes down to is that some people are in love with their vision of what the Realms is and that's why they get turned off when the designers change things so much from where it started.  I on the other hand love the Realms as a living entity and thus I'm more OK with it's changes.  I'm not saying either way is right or wrong.  But it would explain why someone like me takes in everything they put out while others will only take in what fits with their vision of the Realms.
I would buy FR novels IF they put them in paper!!!! I am not into the nook/other crap!!! Becaue like in music people are just finding out they can not take thier collections from Apple to another company!!!!

And on another note yes they need to stop screwing up the Realms..  They need to return more to the orignal realms.  There is parts I do like of the new realms with the Abolethic Sovereignty among other things.

But say if they are wondering why people stopped reading the FR in droves is becasue like a long running tv show.. If you was to kill off 90% of the cast and then change the world to match closely to another world /show (Eberron) would you not feel betrayed and bewildered as to what the producers was smoking!!!! 
People liked the realms because it was High power magic and epic.  With writers who cared about the realms and or editors who made sure they did not muck it up and knew its rich history!!!!!!!! 
Interesting, 61 views but only one person responds.  Maybe I over estimated the interest in Realms fiction.  Kind of a shame if that is true. Cry




I think you underestimated the effect of the spellplague. It ended every plotline, killed off almost all of the major characters, all of the minor characters, and for many it invalidated previous material.  

I think you underestimated the effect of the spellplague. It ended every plotline, killed off almost all of the major characters, all of the minor characters, and for many it invalidated previous material.

I think you overestimate the effect of the Spellplague.

While the event itself was deleterious to magic users and magic in general, it didn't "kill off" scores of major and minor characters.

The advancement of the timeline saw many NPCs pass away--as is quite natural for the passing of time--but there was no one deathstroke that slew all in an instant. Nor was their an edict proclaiming "in the 4E Realms, thou shalt not use prior material."

Likewise, the Spellplague did not "end every plotline". Many plots were not continued (that is, left off for DMs to do with as they please), but several continued.

Some (on the novels side) may yet be picked up anew. 

I can relate to the "meh" feeling re: the Spellplague. I wouldn't want to watch the first movie in a trilogy, then skip the second movie because the third is "so much better" or some such.

But we're at where we're at. Let's just try to keep it real, OK?
I think you underestimated the effect of the spellplague. It ended every plotline, killed off almost all of the major characters, all of the minor characters, and for many it invalidated previous material.

I think you overestimate the effect of the Spellplague.

While the event itself was deleterious -(snip)


Please don't be pedantic.  Many people use "the spellplague" as a catch-all for everything that happened in 4E Realms that collectively and dramatically changed the entire tone and feel of the setting.  If this isn't obvious by now, especially given the context of the rest of his post, then I'm not sure what to tell you.

Please don't be pedantic.

It's good of you to ask nicely.

And you're right, to a degree: it is kind of pedantic to nitpick someone who's offering up a reason for why he or she thinks there's a low response level on this thread.

Many people use "the spellplague" as a catch-all for everything that happened in 4E Realms.


I'm perfectly aware of that.

I'm also aware that after four and a half years since 4E hit the shelves, you can still cut the Spellplague hyperbole with a knife.

"Everything that happened" does not include, "It ended every plotline, killed off almost all of the major characters, all of the minor characters."

You want less pedantry. I want less hyperbole.
I think you underestimated the effect of the spellplague. It ended every plotline, killed off almost all of the major characters, all of the minor characters, and for many it invalidated previous material.

I think you overestimate the effect of the Spellplague.

While the event itself was deleterious to magic users and magic in general, it didn't "kill off" scores of major and minor characters.

The advancement of the timeline saw many NPCs pass away--as is quite natural for the passing of time--but there was no one deathstroke that slew all in an instant. Nor was their an edict proclaiming "in the 4E Realms, thou shalt not use prior material."



No, but I think there was something of a proclamation "thou shalt not write prior novels".  I've been hoping for more of the Knights of Myth Drannor books, mostly to no avail.  I really hope Mr Greenwood can pick those up again some time and has an interest to do so.

I don't mind playing D&D in the realms.  It's still a fairly comfy home for gaming, because my mind imagines really, what I'd mostly expect it to.

The novels though, well I can't say.  I've bought a few on recommendations from others.  I just havent been able to make myself start them.  I read the short desriptions on the back, and the stories don't call out to me.  I don't know why that is.  Once upon a time, I was hard pressed to read fantasy that /wasn't/ from the Realms or Dragonlance.  Now that's mostly reversed for some reason.  Maybe it's that I tend to prefer stories about warriors and rogues than I do stories about magic users, and most of the new 4e stuff seems to be stories about magic users.

I definitely dislike all the "special races" hogging the limelight.  At heart, I'm a Tolkein guy.  Anything more then Elves, Dwarves, humans halflings, etc...core races...is just distracting.
"Everything that happened" does not include, "It ended every plotline, killed off almost all of the major characters, all of the minor characters."  You want less pedantry. I want less hyperbole.


For something to count as hyperbole, it has to be a dramatic overestimation.  The time advancement (aka "100-year empty hole of non-events") did actually get rid of almost every NPC detailed up to that point.  Whether you say "killed off" or "made everyone die of natural causes with no follow-through" that's just semantics.  Functionally, all those NPCs are dead and buried.  Functionally, it's the same as killing everyone off.

Except for Drizzt, some of Mystra's Chosen, and a few long-lived/immortal types, they're all dead.

You have to remember, the designers at the time told everyone they should wrap up their campaigns and advance those 100 years.  I was on the forums at the time.  I saw the 4E transition articles.  I can't even begin to imagine the number of home campaigns that this affected, but based on the angry response it was a lot.  If you wanted to advance your game along with the "living story" of the Realms, you had to close up campaigns and wave goodbye to the massive amount of home-generated detail that every DM had created.

So the spellplague/timejump didn't just kill off (sorry, I meant dead-ify) all of the lower level NPCs that we had collected and used from 1E-3E (volo guides, splatbooks, guides, online references, even some novels), it also managed to dead-ify almost all the NPCs you'd created as a DM unless you'd made special arrangements for their immortality, sucked them into a time portal, etc.

It's not hyperbole.

Yes, you can take NPCs from old books that you haven't used and plop them into 4E.  If you're starting a whole fresh game and maybe didn't play in the 2E or 3E era, you can certainly take NPCs you never used before and plop them down into your 4E Realms.  But how many DMs and players have that option?  Most people who used the Realms aren't new to it.  They've used the 1E-3E NPCs in their campaigns, so those NPCs are dead if their player groups have transitioned to the 4E Realms.  That's a LOT of dead NPCs in a whole LOT of campaigns around the world.  This was not a small thing that happened, so you can't say that it's some kind of overestimation when someone says something true.

To start (and to make a desperate stab at keeping this wall of text I’m about to unleash at least mildly on topic -- sorry Caolin) I probably should have considered how people who only read novels felt before I made my first post in this thread.

A few years back Iluvrien (from these forums) helped me to appreciate the point of view that novel readers don’t have the same luxury of flexibility that DMs have in their campaigns when it comes to handling characters depicted in Realms fiction, but I forgot that lesson.


Jorunhast, I’ll be re-ordering some of your comments. I trust you can follow along.


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Whether you say "killed off" or "made everyone die of natural causes with no follow-through" that's just semantics.

No. One is correct, the other is a bad word choice or, more often then not, equal parts hyperbole and an accusation that assumes bad intentions (this would be something of a corollary to your comment earlier, about how the term “Spellplague” is properly used and understood nowadays).

Functionally, all those NPCs are dead and buried.  Functionally, it's the same as killing everyone off.

Based on your oft-repeated anti-4E Realms commentary, I’m pretty sure you don’t play in the 4E Realms. It follows you play in earlier eras (if you still play at all). How do you get along without any NPCs since, functionally, they’re all dead and buried?

Facetiousness aside, your statement simply isn’t true (despite your detailed effort to prove it below).

For something to count as hyperbole, it has to be a dramatic overestimation.  The time advancement (aka "100-year empty hole of non-events") did actually get rid of almost every NPC detailed up to that point.  (…snip and reattach…) Except for Drizzt, some of Mystra's Chosen, and a few long-lived/immortal types, they're all dead.

Yes, a timeline advancement means lots of beings will die and others will take their place. This provides a net increase of available NPCs for DMs to use, but we’ll ignore that for now.

Of more importance is the fact that the list of “every NPC detailed” is huge, which means it includes a large number of long-lived races and monsters. Off the top of my head: dwarves, elves, half-elves, many varieties of monsters (dragons, undead, aberrations), wizards, priests, those under the effect of magic or already trapped in stasis (an idea hardly new to the Realms).


In the modern era of the Realms, these NPCs are older, not dead.  

But wait, there’s more!


So the spellplague/timejump didn't just kill off (sorry, I meant dead-ify) all of the lower level NPCs that we had collected and used from 1E-3E (volo guides, splatbooks, guides, online references, even some novels), it also managed to dead-ify almost all the NPCs you'd created as a DM unless you'd made special arrangements for their immortality, sucked them into a time portal, etc.

I remember seeing comments like this when 4E was announced. With respect, it’s just as wrong now as it was then.

You seem to be arguing that DMs—who have made a large number of NPCs for their campaign over time—all of a sudden are going to start complaining because they have to make more NPCs?

Also, your argument seems to imply that a DM has used every Realms NPC already in print (in all the sources you provided, of which there are easily several thousand) by the time the Spellplague hits.

In reality, most long-running campaigns will use no more than a fraction of them.

Those resources you named are far from being useless in the 4E era.

Yes, you can take NPCs from old books that you haven't used and plop them into 4E.  If you're starting a whole fresh game and maybe didn't play in the 2E or 3E era, you can certainly take NPCs you never used before and plop them down into your 4E Realms.  But how many DMs and players have that option?

All of them.

This includes re-using NPCs if you’re starting a game with all new players or if you’re running a game for a new group with one (or at most two) players from a previous game.

My current campaign (on pause for the holidays and because of work issues) uses the 3E rules and is set in Cormyr just after the war that saw Azoun IV fall.

I feel no obligation to play in 4E just because it’s the current era, I’ve made a ton of new NPCs to use and have borrowed heavily from the 4E era of the Realms (novels by Ed Greenwood mostly, plus Brian Cortijo’s recent Cormyr articles in Dragon and Dungeon) for NPC names and Cormyr info—about courtiers in the Royal Palace, Purple Dragon ranks and despicable nobles to pit against my players, amongst other things—and mixed it together with Volo’s Guide to Cormyr (2E) and (3E) adventures and gaming material I purchased, wrote and ran as part of a ten-years-running Realms campaign.

I really hope that in response you’re not going to tell me I’m not playing “in the Realms”.


Most people who used the Realms aren't new to it.  They've used the 1E-3E NPCs in their campaigns, so those NPCs are dead if their player groups have transitioned to the 4E Realms.  That's a LOT of dead NPCs in a whole LOT of campaigns around the world.  This was not a small thing that happened, so you can't say that it's some kind of overestimation when someone says something true.

Wait, who are we supposed to be mad at for this carnage? WotC? Or DMs and their players?

You have to remember, the designers at the time told everyone they should wrap up their campaigns and advance those 100 years.

You’re right. They encouraged people—for the sake of playing the new D&D game, not just for keeping up with the Realms—to do this. However, that’s not the only options they gave. Far from it.

Like you, I was on the forums at the time. Unlike you (going out on a limb here) I sat through the 4E Gen Con presentations, where it was made pretty clear (just as it was online in the coming months after Gen Con) that DMs had the 100 year gap to play with. It was theirs to use to continue their older edition campaigns.


The designers weren’t just throwing people a bone here. They really did intend to give people as much time as possible to play in and didn’t discourage people from ignoring the Spellplague as step one in that process.


Additionally, you were presented with the option of advancing your own characters to the current time (though the lack of any workable rules conversion from 3E to 4E rules hampered this option) or simply playing the descendents of your PCs.


This last was the option my group chose, since we wanted to both continue our 3E game but also give the 4E rules a spin.


If you wanted to advance your game along with the "living story" of the Realms, you had to close up campaigns and wave goodbye to the massive amount of home-generated detail that every DM had created.

I think the idea of keeping up with the Living Story of the Realms is very important. You’ve hit on something that I think WotC either underestimated, overlooked or just plain forgot when the rolled out the 4E Realms.

I think WotC didn’t appreciate how connected lots of gamers were in one way or another to the Realms. I think this is why the time jump—however well intentioned—was so damaging, because it created a disconnect in terms of the story.

Though each DM’s Realms campaign is (and should be) different, lots of gamers like to feel at least some connection to the Realms and feeling like they’re part of the wider world they’ve read about in novels and sourcebooks, and I don’t think the FRCG and FRPG bridged that gap.


Since my group voted to continue our 3E game, but also start a 4E game 100 years in the future with some PCs descended from older PCs and the rest all new PCs, the questionI faced was the same one a lot of other DMs who were making a full transition to the 4E Realms did: how do I keep that feeling of “being in the Realms” if I move my game forward/play in the 4E Realms?

For me the answer certainly wasn’t to throw all my previous campaign work into the trashcan. I doubt it was for other DMs too.


In fact, absent any detailed support for the 100 year jump, the only thing I had to ground my players in the new Realms was our previous campaign. Granted, not all of my players cared about or wanted that Realms connection, but ultimately it made things easier for me because I had a base to work from.

And you know something, I enjoyed it.


For me it was something of a relief to start fresh, but still have a connection to what we did previously. I enjoyed playing the “what will my campaign in the Realms look like 100 years down the road?” mental exercise and envisioning NPCs as children in one era and adults in another, that both sets of PCs got to interact with.


I don’t think I’m alone in that sentiment.


By now it should be clear that DMs and players who voted to move their campaigns forward made that choice themselves. Nobody forced them to. Not all (or even most, I’ll wager) that did felt compelled to do so to keep up with the Realms. Some did because they had an interest in trying the new rules system and/or they were ready to take a break from their old campaigns. Some even played in both eras.

These campaign primarily lost access to NPCs that were human and previously used, while retaining access to thousands more NPCs spread across a wide array of Realms media, plus gaining access to hundreds more as new Realms products (sourcebooks, Dragon and Dungeon articles, and novels) became available, plus the opportunity to envision their campaign world with 100 years more history tacked onto it, meaning lots of surprises and developments and continuing storylines—especially if their campaign was already developed.


There were (and still are) a larger number of gamers who handled the transition or otherwise just didn’t care enough to let it bother them, because they understood that playing with the Realms doesn’t mean staying in lockstep with it.

Yes, the Spellplague sucked on many levels. However from a gaming standpoint this OMG THE SPELLPLAGUE=ALL DEAD! stuff is just so much defeatist hullaballoo.


Off to bed now. I reserve the right to edit this post when I wake up. Hopefully it gets the point across without driving anyone nuts.


I would indeed like to see more novels. For me, however, they need to be by the correct authors. I have given up on them being set in my preferred time period. I have little hope, and no expectation whatsoever, of that.

Those authors who have sold me on novels set in the post-timejump period are Ed, Erik, Erin... and Rich. The Elminster series has been good, Erik is always superb, Erin is a new experience for me (but the ongoing book club is proving it to be a good new experience) and Rich's Blades of the Moonsea was also very enjoyable (although I still haven't really come to terms with The Last Mythal).

I have found it difficult to connect with other novels and stories that I have come into contact with set in this era. I do wonder if that isn't at least a small part of why this thread has been comparatively quiet. Others may have a similar difficulty.

Of course, another part might be the fact that these boards seem so quiet now. It certainly seems to be a different atmosphere this time around in comparison to the flurry of discussion (and argument) present for the 4E transition. Of course some of the more... vocal members of the community, as it existed then, have ceased to visit these boards in the intervening period.


Yes, the Spellplague sucked on many levels. However from a gaming standpoint this OMG THE SPELLPLAGUE=ALL DEAD! stuff is just so much defeatist hullaballoo.



And from the narrative/novel only (or even novel primary) point of view? This is, after all, a thread about WotC and the FR novels it produces. Of course, we have discussed this before. Interested parties could look up the previous conversations on the subject, I am sure.

My approach to the NPCs of previous editions.

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I always saw the High Level NPCs as shepherds of the Realms not its defenders. Making sure that not too many sheep were lost as they milled around (as they are wont to do) and bringing on the young'uns into the job. In that way a shepherd never has time to go and hunt down all of the wolves but is pretty dashed effective at keeping them away from the sheep when they rear their heads.
"It was a puzzle why things were always dragged kicking and screaming. No one ever seemed to want to, for example, lead them gently by the hand." - Terry Pratchett
Well I guess the way to sum this up is that everyone has demands on what THEY want the Realms to be.  Otherwise they just won't make the purchase.  I think a lot of you get confused into thinking that this is your setting some how.  It's not.  When it comes to the novels, we are merely passengers.  If you want things to be different, then create your own world and tell your own stories.  Or even better, save up a couple of tens of millions of dollars and try buying the IP from WoTC.  Then you can put the setting back into 1987 mode.

But the reality is that none of that will happen.  But what is going to happen is that Realms fiction is going to die a slow death because people are throwing fits that things changed too much or that they can't get their literature in dead tree form.  You all sound like a bunch of old men screaming for us to get off of your lawns.

When the ship is sinking, everyone needs to focus on saving that ship.  if we all sit in our corners hoping each of our demands are met then we all go down with that ship.  So stop being stubborn about the timeline, stop being resistant to authors who aren't your favorites, and give up this silly notion that paper novels will ever be dominant again. 

But whatever.  I'm starting to recognize that I'm fighting a losing battle here.  Maybe I'm in the minority here in feeling that I want the Realms fiction to continue at whatever cost.  No one seems to care, and if they do they have demandes that most likely won't or can't be met.  I guess I'll just enjoy it while it lasts.
I think you underestimated the effect of the spellplague. It ended every plotline, killed off almost all of the major characters, all of the minor characters, and for many it invalidated previous material.

I think you overestimate the effect of the Spellplague.

While the event itself was deleterious to magic users and magic in general, it didn't "kill off" scores of major and minor characters.

The advancement of the timeline saw many NPCs pass away--as is quite natural for the passing of time--but there was no one deathstroke that slew all in an instant. Nor was their an edict proclaiming "in the 4E Realms, thou shalt not use prior material."

Likewise, the Spellplague did not "end every plotline". Many plots were not continued (that is, left off for DMs to do with as they please), but several continued.

Some (on the novels side) may yet be picked up anew. 

I can relate to the "meh" feeling re: the Spellplague. I wouldn't want to watch the first movie in a trilogy, then skip the second movie because the third is "so much better" or some such.

But we're at where we're at. Let's just try to keep it real, OK?




Yes it killed just about every major character and plot in the novels with the timeline advancement.  Even the majority of the elves that may have survived are changed individuals by nature. Just off the top of my head I can think of all the non-elf characters from the two comic books, Jack Ravenwild Anders, Ruha Alusair, Azoun the 5th, Alias, Malik, the Sembia family, the characters from Temple Hill, and Yellow Silk.

Had to look up the word. Im not being pedantic. Im just being honest. I made a video about why I disliked the spellplague and didnt even cover it as well as I could have. I'm not even talking about why it was stupid. Im giving reason to why the novels might not be selling which has more to do with the timeline jump that killed the plots and characters.


I was asking Mr_Miscellany to stop being pedantic towards you.  I felt that your post was clear and honest.  I also agree with your perspective on the Spellplague/timejump.  I'm sorry, I should have responded to him by name.
Why is it that i never hear trekkies whining about the "time jump" between the original and the Next Gen or between the original tv show and the movies? That effectively killed off alot of character as well, but some, like Bones and Elminster are still around.
I survived Section 4 and all I got was this lousy sig Off-topic and going downhill from there


When the ship is sinking, everyone needs to focus on saving that ship.  if we all sit in our corners hoping each of our demands are met then we all go down with that ship.  So stop being stubborn about the timeline, stop being resistant to authors who aren't your favorites, and give up this silly notion that paper novels will ever be dominant again. 




And what do you expect people to do? To throw their money (which -in many cases- is not abundant at all these days) at a corporate which drove many of them away (because apparently the FR needed 'fresh blood'), in the hope that one day it may publish something they could enjoy?

Yeah, totally going to happen...