So what will happen to the Forgotten Realms?

Posted on January 10, 2012 by


A rather clever guy on twitter named @newbiedm tweeted the following after 5e was announced:

I wonder if Elminster will wake up next to Bob Newhart and realize it was all a dream.

Funny, right?  Yeah, he’s pretty clever.  But while he was probably trying to be cute, the question about what the heck to do with the post-Spellplague Forgotten Realms as D&D moves into a new era is a valid one.  I’ll admit up front that I am not a big Realms lore guy.  I’m not up to speed on the history of Faerun, don’t know all the NPC’s, don’t read the novels, and can’t answer too many basic geography questions.  However, I can tell you that I am a fan of the Realms in a rather casual way, and have always loved the flavor, maps, and fluffy articles through the years.  My favorite D&D product is a Realms boxed set after all…

So what do we know about the Realms regarding the 5th Edition of D&D?  Well, we know it’s going to be supported at the game’s launch, and that WOTC’s hired a video game company from China to detail the Realms.  Bizarre, right?  A video game company from China?  Well, I did some digging around and Cryptic Studios, the developer of the Neverwinter MMO was recently purchased by a video game company from China named Perfect Worlds.  Coincidence?  I’d bet on the answer being no.

Here are the quotes from ENWorld when the question on the Realms came up at the now famous December gathering at Wizards of the Coast:

The Forgotten Realms will be supported from the start, and a video game art studio from China has been hired to fully detail the Realms. We asked if going forward support would be continued for the current time after the Spellplague and the Neverwinter Campaign. A WotC spokesperson answered, “The Forgotten Realms has a rich history and we will support all of it. It is for the gamers to decide which time they would enjoy playing in.” That would allow Wizards to take advantage of a massive back catalog of products.

Okay, so lets look at this bit by bit.

  • A video game company is “fully detailing” the Realms.  My prediction:  Expect a Forgotten Realms MMO to launch along with D&D 5e at launch.  Obviously using its ruleset.  Art from both the MMO and the pen and paper game would then be used back and forth between the products, and in a way the video game company is indeed detailing the world.  Remember WOTC getting the digital rights back from Atari?  Bingo.
  • “The Forgotten Realms has a rich history and we will support all of it. It is for the gamers to decide which time they would enjoy playing in.”  That’s a heavy statement.  I’m not getting a sense of an advancement in the timeline, but rather a chance to play anywhere you want within the current timeline.  I can see articles in Dungeon and Dragon taking chunks of the timeline and updating the npc’s to the game’s stats, and releasing adventures that fall under “The Time of Troubles” or “Spellplague”.  You are given options to play in different eras, and guys like me can use their good old boxed set by pulling out the converted npc stats from the Avatar Crisis and play a game in old Faerun using shiny new rules.  That could be cool.

So these are some of my thoughts regarding the Forgotten Realms and the newly announced D&D Edition.  An MMO, releases updating NPC’s of different eras to the new system stats, and adventures and fluff detailing different eras of the realms rather than concentrating on a specific campaign year.

This is all going to be so interesting to watch unfold… Oh hey, here’s a thought… What if the Realms were actually 5e’s assumed setting?   That would be interesting!  I think I like that idea…

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