I was never a fan of the Forgotten Realms campaign setting. That isn't to say I hated it - I never really read a word of it. I was simply vaguely aware of its existence as a teenager, mainly because of the Drizzt novels that festooned the shelves of the F&SF sections of local bookstores. I don't apologise for sounding snobbish: it just seemed far too much like a substandard, or bog standard, Middle Earth. Why play in Forgotten Realms if you can play MERP? Why have cotton, when you can have silk?
So I know next to nothing about it. Something about Faerun, something about the Underdark, something about Kara-Tur, something about Waterdeep. I did play Baldur's Gate for a bit, which I believe may have been set there, but I didn't play it for long and it only confirmed my suspicions that what was going on wasn't particularly interesting. The exception to this is Al-Qadim, which I enjoyed, but which I honestly never had any idea was even the same world.
That doesn't put me in a fantastic position as regards this new DMs' Guild business. (In case you're not aware what this is: it's either a unique opportunity to self-publish RPG material set in the Forgotten Realms via OBS for real money, or an attempt by WotC to co-opt all the DIY D&D stuff going on, depending on how charitable you're being. Either way, I think we can agree that it surely ought to be entitled the Dungeon Masters' Guild.) But I am nonetheless curious. It strikes me as interesting to experiment with, at least: to reach a new audience, make some cash, and also perhaps even subvert things a little bit.
How to get around the fact that the Forgotten Realms, judging by its extensive wikipedia entries, is both really bland and rather restrictive?
The answer is simple: time travel. WotC haven't stipulated anything about the distant future or distant past. So let me offer some sample DMs' Guild submissions:
1) Fantasy world Japanese people in the fantasy world Nara period explore fantasy world Ainu Moshir. The adventurers are officials from Wa in the ancient past, when the frosty north has yet to be settled or explored. There are strange people up there who worship bears, not to mention, natch, glacier dungeons and symbiants. Civilized PCs explore a wild and dangerous miniature New World.
2) Fantasy Aztecs in the future. So there's a fantasy Mexico in the Forgotten Realms, it seems - full of scorpion men, jaguar men, Yuan-ti, and the rest. It's called Maztica. Fast forward 2,000 years. Now all the scorpion men, jaguar men, Yuan-ti and the rest are putting cybernetic implants in their bodies, riding around in driver-less cars, smoking e-cigarettes, and getting tattoos. The PCs are private investigators solving murders: there is a separate police force and legal system for each of the different race, and the PCs have to work in a fashion hidden from the authorities.
3) Fantasy aboriginal people in survival horror world. It's a million years ago. The Stone Age of some region of Faerun which resembles Australia. The PCs are warriors or shamans with clubs, magical tattoos, and the limited power to travel in the Dream World (the Abyss). But there are things living in the Dream World (i.e. devils and demons) who can enter theirs. Cue the PCs exploring a hostile, barren outback where there are amnizus, cornugons, glabrezus, and mariliths, trying the best they can to defend their people and, even, prosper.
4) Dying Faerun. It's a 5 billion years in the future. Faerun's sun is fading. Only one city remains on the surface. Its defiant inhabitants explore the Underdark in an attempt to survive...
"...or an attempt by WotC to co-opt all the DIY D&D stuff..."ReplyDelete
Not just that, but a way of building and cementing their brand loyalty. Consider Pathfinder wouldn't exist but for the investment individuals put into D20 prior to WotC cutting it off.
Yeah, I always forget Pathfinder exists and is a big deal.Delete
This is a brilliant, beautiful idea. Hell, there's a fantasy India out there that only exists in the broadest or broad strokes.ReplyDelete
A fantasy Tibet too.... ;)Delete
What is the fantasy India?Delete
My players LOVE Forgotten Realms, that is the world that I learned how to play with, but I had always been intimidated by the bloat of the lore, so I never DMed there until recently. I now find that it is the perfect world for adult gaming, well for me anyway; I own the 2e boxset and that is all, it just gives me a skeleton and I add what I want to it, and FR is such a big place, you can throw anything that you can imagine at the thing and it will stick, and become core for YOUR world. It's like Greyhawk but with just a bit more detail in key spots which do make the game easier to work with.ReplyDelete
In regards to the DM Guild, I have a different opinion entirely. The worse thing about the realms is the bloat, as a private user I can do what I want, but as a professional, you are expected to follow Forgotten Realms Lore which may be taught in some University so place. FR gave you amazing hooks, and then turned around and used them themselves. The time-line won't stop, the products keep getting pumped out, who can keep up with that? I thought that it was bloated back in the 90's, I wouldn't touch core Forgotten Realms with a 13-foot pole! I think that this is a clear case of WOTC disallowing the OSR to function within it because they know that we didn't pay attention.
I can get behind it as a sort of default D&D world, but the Known World seems much more interesting to me. I like the fairy tale flavour to it.Delete
"We at the Wizards of the Coast quality assurance department have searched your submission for the words "Elminster cameo" and "Drizzt cameo" but no results were found. Consequently, your entry is rejected."ReplyDelete
Most setting ideas I've seen are second guessing and obvious next moves but you're good at this!ReplyDelete
Thanks. I am on a bit of a setting idea hot streak at the moment, I think. Must be being skint in January that does it.Delete
Aboriginal...so which period?Delete
-100,000 C.Y. : Neanderthal stone age were devoid of gods, religion and tattoos. They ate raw food (grubs, bone marrow, caterpillar).
-20,000 C.Y.: Halfling neolithic (described as being the size of small children) used bows and nets, ate seeds, honey. Had tattoos, narcotics, champion, and a concept of good and bad and contemplated time with a stick jammed in the dirt.
-17,000 C.Y.: neolithic humans. Gods, spears, fish, honey, fire.
I got my first electronic cigarette kit from VaporFi, and I enjoy it a lot.ReplyDelete