The Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting was published in 2001 by Wizards of the Coast, Inc. It is a Forgotten Realms campaign sourcebook for use with the 3rd edition of the Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game. The book was written by Ed Greenwood, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, and Rob Heinsoo, with the contributions of members of the Wizards company's staff. The book is 320 pages in length; illustrated in color, and hardbound.
In 2002, the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting won the Origins Award for Best Role-Playing Game Supplement of 2001.
This is the third edition release of the Forgotten Realms campaign setting for Dungeons & Dragons and a number of changes have been made since the previous books were published by the former TSR, Inc. The most important update was to incorporate the significant revisions to the game system with the 3rd edition update. Various regional feats, character attributes, prestige classes, spells, and NPC statistics all use the new rule set.
The work has also made some notable updates to the campaign setting, including the widespread presence of Red Wizard enclaves in various cities, the presence of a mysterious group called the Shadovar in the southern Anauroch desert, and the increasing surface presence of drow in the Dalelands. The setting history has been updated to reflect the various major events, such as the changes to the Faerûnian pantheon since the Time of Troubles, and the defeat of the Tuigan Horde.
The book is organized into nine chapters, covering in broad detail the campaign setting. The primary emphasis is on the continent of Faerûn, and the other continents are only briefly mentioned. The chapters are arranged as follows:
- Introduction — A summary of the Forgotten Realms for new players and old alike as well as stats for the Realms' oldest character, Elminster Aumar.
- Characters — How to create a player character for the setting in summary. This includes new races such as planetouched as well as new subraces for core races, such as drow or gold dwarves, information on incorporating core classes, regional feats, religions, and setting-specific prestige classes such as arcane devotees, harper scouts, or red wizards. The chapter also includes tips for converting characters built for the then-core setting of Greyhawk into characters suitable for the Realms.
- Magic — An explanation of how magic, both arcane and divine operates in this setting, and a number of unique aspects of magic. A few additional spells are provided, primarily to support the new domains.
- Life in Faerûn — A general overview of life, lore, culture, and commerce in this setting. Information is also provided for timekeeping, simulating local economics, and climate conditions in the Realms.
- Geography — Each of the significant regions of the continent are explored, along with places of interest, cities, politics, and significant individuals such as Drizzt Do'Urden or the Seven Sisters.
- Deities — A listing of the major deities of the Faerûnian pantheon, along with a brief description of the Realms' cosmology. Several new domains are introduced, with the incumbent spells listed in Chapter 2: Magic.
- History — This is an overview of the detailed history of this setting, with a lengthy time line at the end of the chapter.
- Organizations — Groups, cults, and other organizations play an important role in the realms, and several of the most significant are detailed herein such as the Harpers or Zhentarim.
- Running the Realms — This chapter provides useful advice for the game referee or "dungeon master" trying to run an adventure or campaign in this setting. A pair of brief sample adventures are included.
- Monsters — A brief list of monsters unique to this continent are introduced.
This work contains a number of maps, including a fold-out map of the continent of Faerûn. There are also many sidebar topics and tables.
Anauroch: The Empire of Shade • City of the Spider Queen • Cormyr: The Tearing of the Weave • Into the Dragon's Lair • Pool of Radiance: Attack on Myth Drannor • Shadowdale: The Scouring of the Land • Sons of Gruumsh • The Twilight Tomb