The Forgotten Realms is a fictional alternate world that has been published as a campaign setting for Dungeons & Dragons (D&D), Advanced Dungeon & Dragons (AD&D), Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition(2e), 3rd Edition Dungeons & Dragons (3e), and 4th Edition Dungeons and Dragons (4e), by TSR, Inc. and Wizards of the Coast (WotC). The setting is also referenced in the 5th edition Dungeons and Dragons core books, though it has not yet been published as its own separate setting.
The primary focus of the setting is the continent of Faerûn, part of the world of Abeir-Toril, an Earth-like planet with certain obvious influences and similarities from the real world and fantasy fiction.
The Forgotten Realms setting owes a lot of its popularity to the many novels using the setting, like R. A. Salvatore's works detailing the life and adventures of the famed drow Drizzt Do'Urden, as well as computer games like Pool of Radiance, Baldur's Gate, Icewind Dale and Neverwinter Nights.
Time of Troubles
The Time of Troubles was a cataclysmic time period in the history of Faerûn. Taking place during 1358 DR, the Year of Shadows, the Time of Troubles was a period during which the deities of Faerûn were forced to walk the earth in their mortal avatar forms. Several major deities died during the Time of Troubles (see deaths, ascensions, and resurrections) and a handful of mortals rose to divinity.
The interpretation of the term "present day" in the Forgotten Realms depends entirely upon the context in which it is used. Dungeon Masters are free to use the first, second, third, fourth or fifth edition sourcebooks to form a setting for their games of D&D. Alternatively, they may set their games at any point during the Realms' past or future. The novels set in the Realms cover a wide variety of time periods too. This wiki does not focus on one specific time as being the "present day" - instead, it endeavours to provide specific date references where possible.
The planet of Abeir-Toril consists of several large continents, including Faerûn, the focus of the setting, which was first detailed in the original Forgotten Realms Campaign Set, published in 1987 by TSR. The other continents include Kara-Tur, Zakhara, Maztica, Anchorome, Laerakond and other as-yet unspecified landmasses. Kara-Tur, roughly corresponding to ancient East Asia, was later the focus of its own publication, Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms, released in 1988.
Various products detailing specific areas of Faerûn have been released, and much of the continent has been heavily detailed and documented to create a highly developed setting. See the sourcebooks portal for an extensive list of products.
In early publications about the setting, The Realms shared a unified cosmology with various other campaign settings. In this way each of the Dungeons & Dragons campaign settings were linked together to form one interwoven world connected by various planes of existence. With the release of the 2001 Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting, the setting was given its own distinct and separate cosmological arrangement, with unique planes not explicitly connected to those of the other settings.
The Forgotten Realms world of Abeir-Toril is but one of several other worlds in the Realmspace crystal sphere. To the natives of Faerûn, the wildspace above their heads is known as the Sea of Night. The two closest worlds to the sun in the middle of Realmspace are known as the Dawn Heralds, and they are barely visible only at sunset or sunrise. Beyond Abeir-Toril further out in the crystal sphere are the Five Wanderers, five worlds which flow through star-rivers in an uneven course through wildspace. Some of these worlds are inhabited by humans, dwarves, and orcs, but also more sinister races such as illithids and beholders.
The first Forgotten Realms resource for Dungeon Masters was the Bloodstone Pass module, released in 1985. This was followed by the full-blown boxed set named the Forgotten Realms Campaign Set, released in 1987 and affectionately known to this day as the "Grey Box." It placed the Realms timeline near the end of 1357 DR 1st edition D&D did not have a great deal of official materials compared to the amount that would follow with 2nd edition.
The campaign setting was rewritten for 2nd edition D&D and released in 1993 as the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting, but later revised in 1996. 2nd edition advanced the Realms timeline by a decade, and the campaign setting puts the timeline near to the end of 1367 DR. It is set after the cataclysmic events of the Time of Troubles in 1358 DR in which deities were killed, new deities were created and many places in the Realms were altered. 2nd edition saw the advent of the popular Living City organized play project in which players could shape the fate and face of an entire city—Ravens Bluff.
The third edition of Dungeons & Dragons was launched in 2000. The Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting for 3rd edition D&D was a book rather than a boxed set like the two previous editions. It advanced the timeline to 1372 DR and progressed at a steady rate of approximately one month for every two real-world months that passed, up until early 1376 DR.
Because the 2003 edition of D&D was not wholly new and merely altered the 3rd edition rules, no campaign setting was released to coincide with the adoption of v.3.5. Instead, the Player's Guide to Faerûn provided an update to the campaign setting to bring it in line with 3.5 rules. The Living City project was moved to Loudwater in a campaign called the Legacy of the Green Regent which unfortunately suffered many problems with release schedules and unfinished modules and was prematurely dropped in favor of a focus on the dungeon of Undermountain.
4th Edition was released in 2008 and launched a new official organized play program, with the Forgotten Realms as the first setting adapted to this edition's rules, with three initial products: the Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide, the Forgotten Realms Player's Guide, and Scepter Tower of Spellgard. WotC also started the Living Forgotten Realms (LFR) program, replacing all previous RPGA programs. In 2010 the DnD Encounters store-based organized program was launched, concurrent with LFR. Many of the Encounters seasons were set in the Realms. 4th edition also saw the Neverwinter Campaign Setting, an ambitious multimedia project involving novels, a sourcebook, modules and an officially licensed MMORPG. Although 4th edition began in the Year of Blue Fire (1385 DR) when the Spellplague begins, 4th edition play was set in 1479 DR, when the Spellplague had stabilized, and the timeline was advanced up to 1486 DR.
The 5th edition of Dungeons and Dragons was a landmark one for the Forgotten Realms as it featured as the core setting for the entire adventures line up. Four adventures were released for the Second Sundering during the playtest period leading up to the 2014 edition launch, as well as interactive multi-table adventures such as Vault of the Dracolich and Confrontation at Candlekeep. The first The Sundering series novel is set in 1484 DR. The Tyranny of Dragons story line and accompanying adventures began with the release of the 5th edition Player's Handbook. The Adventurers League was launched as a new organized play program set in the Realms and beginning play in the year 1489 DR.
- See also: Portal:Sourcebooks
The Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting has seen four complete revisions of the core setting over four editions of Dungeons & Dragons rules:
- Forgotten Realms Campaign Set (1987) — called "The Old Gray Box", and including Cyclopedia of the Realms and DM's Sourcebook of the Realms, 4 poster maps and 2 hex grids — for 1st edition AD&D.
- Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 2nd edition (1993, revised edition in 1996) — another boxed set, including A Grand Tour of the Realms, Running the Realms, Shadowdale, 4 poster maps, Monster Compendium sheets and 2 hex grids—for 2nd Edition AD&D and post-Time of Troubles.
- Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition (2001)—a 320-page hardcover book with poster map — for 3rd edition D&D.
- Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide, a 288-page hardcover book with poster map, and its companion, Forgotten Realms Player's Guide, 160-page hardcover book, for 4th edition D&D.
Various campaign accessories, including:
- Menzoberranzan (1992)—A 240 page boxed set detailing the drow city of Menzoberranzan, which featured heavily in The Dark Elf Trilogy.
- City of Splendors (1994)—A 320 page boxed set detailing the city of Waterdeep. A revised version entitled City of Splendors: Waterdeep for v.3.5 was released in 2005.
- Sea of Fallen Stars (1999)—A campaign expansion that covers the events of The Threat from the Sea trilogy.
- Forgotten Realms Interactive Atlas (1999)—A PC-based atlas with over 800 maps of the Realms in Campaign Cartographer format.
- Player's Guide to Faerûn (2004)—A supplement detailing the creation and play of characters within the Forgotten Realms setting.
- Ed Greenwood Presents Elminster's Forgotten Realms, (2012)—A supplement detailing information about the creation of the setting, as well as in-universe information useful for any D&D edition.
A number of older, out of print sourcebooks were available for free on the Wizards website and provided a good way to discover more about the Forgotten Realms before deciding to spend money on the more modern products. However, this service is currently down.
A website with Realmslore made up of articles by Ed Greenwood and other Realms authors, with weekly updates.
A large number of computer role-playing games have been released since the inception of the Forgotten Realms. Notable titles include:
- Pool of Radiance (1988) - The first Forgotten Realms based computer game released, also the first in a long series of Gold Box engine games.
- Neverwinter Nights (AOL game) (1991) - The first ever graphical Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game (MMORPG).
- Baldur's Gate (1998) - The first game to utilize the Infinity Engine, it was highly popular and spawned a sequel.
- Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn (2000) - Several other games based on this engine were also released, including Icewind Dale.
- Icewind Dale (2000) - is a computer role-playing game developed by Black Isle Studios. It is set in the Icewind Dale region, but takes place decades before the events described in R. A. Salvatore's books which made the area a well-known part of Faerûn.
- Icewind Dale 2 (2002) - is the sequel to Icewind Dale. It is set around 30 years after the events of the original game. Its plot revolves around a goblin uprising in the North, known as the Legion of the Chimera which threatens to overrun the Ten Towns if not stopped.
- Neverwinter Nights (2002) - a highly popular third-person perspective role-playing game set in the Forgotten Realms. The game features online play and a toolset allowing creation of new adventure modules.
- Neverwinter Nights 2 (2006) - the long-awaited sequel to Neverwinter Nights, using an upgraded 3d engine and an improved (but more complicated) toolset.
- Dungeons and Dragons: Neverwinter (2013) - the MMO aspect of the Neverwinter Campaign Setting project has proved very popular among Realms fans and newcomers.
- Foreword to Elminster at the Magefair in The Best of the Realms.
- In the past, supplements for other parts of Abeir-Toril were also published, e.g. Kara-Tur, orientally styled lands to the east of Faerûn, but these parts of the setting have had no recent publications from WotC.
- Ed Greenwood, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, Rob Heinsoo (June 2001). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 271. ISBN 0-7869-1836-5.
- Ed Greenwood, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, Rob Heinsoo (June 2001). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 264. ISBN 0-7869-1836-5.
- Ed Greenwood, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, Rob Heinsoo (June 2001). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 256. ISBN 0-7869-1836-5.
- Ed Greenwood, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, Rob Heinsoo (June 2001). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 231. ISBN 0-7869-1836-5.
- Ed Greenwood, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, Rob Heinsoo (June 2001). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 230. ISBN 0-7869-1836-5.
- Dale "slade" Henson (April 1991). Realmspace. Edited by Gary L. Thomas, Karen S. Boomgarden. (TSR, Inc). ISBN 1-56076-052-4.
- Jeff Grubb, Ed Greenwood and Karen S. Martin (1987). Forgotten Realms Campaign Set (Cyclopedia of the Realms). (TSR, Inc), p. 7. ISBN 0-8803-8472-7.
- Ed Greenwood, Julia Martin, Jeff Grubb (1993). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 2nd edition (revised), A Grand Tour of the Realms. (TSR, Inc), p. 23. ISBN 1-5607-6617-4.
- Ed Greenwood, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, Rob Heinsoo (June 2001). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 78. ISBN 0-7869-1836-5.
- Ed Greenwood, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, Rob Heinsoo (June 2001). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 260. ISBN 0-7869-1836-5.
- Erin M. Evans (December 2013). “The Harpers of Waterdeep”. In Steve Winter ed. Dragon #430 (Wizards of the Coast), p. 34.
- Marks, Greg, | Forum post by Adventurers League Admin stating start of campaign.