Friday, August 13, 2010

I'm Certain Another Response Was Intended

I'm in the process of putting together another retrospective about the Forgotten Realms. It's a work in progress but it has been an enjoyable task. I've tracked down a couple products that I missed when they were initially released, and that's been a mixed bag looking them over. I'll cover that in more detail during the actual retrospective.

Today, I got my first look at the 4E Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide. I didn't purchase it, merely read through selected sections of it to get an idea of what's changed. I knew about this Spellplague thingamajig and the fact that they bumped the timeline ahead 100 years to accomodate all the changes that were made to 4th edition D&D, but I never took the time to see what that meant in actual game design terms.

I threw up a little when I read the book.

I'll be the first to admit that my general disgust is entirely on me. My memories of both the setting and the fun I had with it go back more than twenty years (a fact I still can't wrap my head around), so I'm obviously going to judge any new Realms product on that very subjective scale. Knowing this doesn't make the pain of watching something once so beloved become a travesty of all it was. I couldn't help be feel like I was experiencing the inverse of Nothing But Flowers.

Something needs to be done about this.

14 comments:

litrtrdnck said...

Well it's certainly different from that old grey box, but for my tastes it's undone a whole lot of the absolute garbage TSR and WOTC tacked onto the Realms in the 2E/3E era. It's not perfect and I still prefer that old grey box with some help from FR1-FR6, but I dig the 4E Realms-its finally focused back on the characters and the adventures with a certain amount of uncertainty and mystery, instead of the novels, wannabe novel writers, everyting detailed to death 10 times over and what goes on with everyone else BUT the PCs.

Michael Curtis said...

I'll grant that the seeming lack of support for the Realms has been an unforseen blessing (no official game supplement since 2008? Is that right?) and I prefer a setting that gives the players free reign over a torrent of official books.

I just think two massive world-shaking upheavals is two too many in my lifetime. Again, this is a complete stodgy "get-off-me-lawn" response. But it's a bt like watching a old friend pass away and knowing things will never be the same again.

Michael Curtis said...

Oh, and killing your goddess of magic three times is just plain lazy.

James said...

They should have turned it over to Mr. Greenwood and asked him to reboot it! Baker's "vision" was just an insult added to over a decade of injury.

Michael Curtis said...

See, there's an idea. I would have have loved to see future Realms done under the guidance of Greenwood and Grubb again.

JB said...

I may be the wrong dude to chime in, as I have never been a fan of FR...but please believe me when I say, I empathize.

But what can one do? Stop buying their shit I guess.

Anonymous said...

4E Realms was tailored to fit the system, whether it made any sense or not. How can that be good? Yeah, they opened it up and left it to the players, which hasn't happened since the original set, but they also destroyed or turned on it's ear just about everything. It would have been little different to create a world from scratch, since this new Realms is so very very different.

And although I was not a follower of all the "lore" built up over the yeaars, many were, and that was a big part of the world's attraction for many. WotC erased most of that now.

Badmike said...

They'll never get the magic of the grey box back. As Lit said, the old grey box and FR1-6 was really the heart of the best of what was the Forgotten Realms. But as mentioned, somehow getting Greenwood and Grubb back aboard would have been an awesome move.

James said...

"But what can one do? Stop buying their shit I guess."

Phase 1 - Complete!

imredave said...

Well at least with the fourth edition reset you don't have to wade 40 plus bad novels to try and make your campaign "authentic". I sort of got annoyed with Forgotten Realms when they desided that Myth Dragnor was no longer a demon haunted monster pit but a bastion of elveness, and oh by the way how is it that the Zhentarim is a major influence after their major stronghold is blown to smithereens.
That being said I still DM 4th edition LFR. After all a free module is a free module and only the poor bastards trying to write those have to worry about the campaign setting.

Aelw√ę Lothglorion said...

Back in the day me and my group played a lot using the Forgotten Realms setting, when it still was a kind of sandbox setting, with a lot of mostly empty regions. We loved it. We even played using 3.5, the campaign setting book was one of the best books released for 3.x, even if most of the other supplements were kinda bad, we still could ignore what we didn't like. I read the 4E version, but somehow it doesn't feel like the same to me, too many changes and the only good thing is that a lot of the nonsense introduced in the setting has been "erased". Still, I would totally love to see Ed Greenwood's version of the Realms, too bad it would probably never happen.

Dan said...

I occasionally saw snippets of stuff I liked in FR (principally an almost Tolkien-like sense of place in one or two of Greenwood's novels), but I never felt a huge urge to use the setting much.

It was always far too kitchen-sinky for my tastes.

1d30 said...

I just used the old FR atlas. I have the Volo Guides but just because they were good reading. I sort of liked the Cleric Quintet novels and the first few D'itz novels, but that was back in my early teens. They were brain candy, but not actually good. The other FR novels I read were absolute bunk.

So really, we just used the atlas and filled in the rest ourselves. After all, Calimshan is just Persia and the Moonshaes are just Celtic Ireland. You can reproduce everything Greenwood wrote by figuring out which serial numbers he filed off.

Then again, maybe that's too harsh. Maybe we look at the Realms as trite because we learned from that and Greyhawk and Mystara how a standard D&D fantasy setting should work.

And perhaps the complaints about the chaff in the FR products are a bit off. Maybe they saw that they could separate the setting from the campaign, but decided the result was unsatisfactory?

Anonymous said...

@1d30: Actually, Greenwood has stated that it was TSR and other authors who mapped the Realms countries/cultures to those of Earth. A lot of the places beyond the heartlands region were just names on a map and used to be where exotic travelers came from. He said his PC's basically never even went there, and he would never have developed them the way TSR did, by lazily "filing off the serial numbers" of Earthly locations and peoples.

Heck, the Moonshaes weren't even in Greenwood's realms, they were added by the novel author, when TSR decided his unrelated novels should be attached to the upcoming new Forgotten Realms setting.