Canon:Forgotten Realms

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The Forgotten Realms (commonly referred to by players and game designers alike as simply "The Realms") is a campaign setting for the Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) fantasy role-playing game, created by game designer Ed Greenwood,[1] around 1967 as a setting for his childhood stories. Greenwood brought the setting to the D&D game initially as a series of magazine articles several years later, and the first Realms game products were released in 1987. Role-playing game products have been produced for the setting ever since, as well as various licensed products including novels, computer role-playing game adaptations (among them the first massively multiplayer online role-playing game to use graphics), and comic books. The Forgotten Realms is one of the most popular D&D settings,[2][3] largely due to the success of novels by authors such as R. A. Salvatore and numerous computer role-playing games, including Pool of Radiance (1988), Baldur's Gate (1998), and Neverwinter Nights (2002).

According to the setting's creators, the "Forgotten Realms" is the name of a fantasy world that exists somewhere beyond the real world. The setting is described as a world of strange lands, dangerous creatures, and mighty deities, where magic and seemingly supernatural phenomena are quite real. The premise is that, long ago, the Earth and the world of the Forgotten Realms were more closely connected. As time passed, the inhabitants of planet Earth, have mostly forgotten about the existence of that other world—hence the term "Forgotten Realms". On the original Forgotten Realms logo, which was used until 2000, little runic letters read "Herein lie the lost lands", an allusion to the connection between the two worlds.

The world[edit]

The focus of the Forgotten Realms setting is the continent of Faerûn, part of the fictional world of Abeir-Toril, an Earth-like planet with many real-world influences. Unlike Earth, the lands of the Forgotten Realms are not all ruled by the human race: the planet Abeir-Toril is shared by humans, dwarves, elves, goblins, orcs, and other peoples and creatures. Technologically, the world of the Forgotten Realms is not nearly as advanced as that of Earth; in this respect, it resembles the pre-industrial Earth of the 13th or 14th century. However, the presence of magic provides an additional element of power to the societies. There are several nation states and many independent cities, with loose alliances being formed for defense or conquest. Trade is performed by ship or horse-drawn vehicle, and manufacturing is based upon cottage industry.


Main article: Faerûn

Abeir-Toril consists of several large continents, including Faerûn, which was first detailed in the original Forgotten Realms Campaign Set, published in 1987 by TSR.[4] The other continents include Kara-Tur, Zakhara, Maztica, and other yet unspecified landmasses. Kara-Tur, roughly corresponding to ancient East Asia, was later the focus of its own source book Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms, published in 1988.[5]

Various products detailing specific areas of Faerûn, such as the 2nd edition FR13 Anauroch (1991), FR15 Gold and Glory (1992), FR16 The Shining South (1993), and FRS1 The Dalelands (1993), have been released, and through these much of the continent has been heavily detailed and documented to create a highly developed setting.

In early editions of the setting, The Realms shared a unified cosmology with various other campaign settings called the Great Wheel. 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.[6][7]


See also: Forgotten Realms deities

Religion plays a large part in the Forgotten Realms, with deities and their followers being an integral part of the world. They do not have a passive role, but in fact interact directly in mortal affairs, answer prayers, and have their own personal agendas. All deities must have worshipers to survive, and all mortals must worship a patron deity to secure a good afterlife. A huge number of diverse deities exist within several polytheistic pantheons; a large number of supplements have documented many of them, some in more detail than others.[8][9]

Much of the history of The Realms detailed in novels and source books concerns the actions of various deities or The Chosen (mortal representatives with a portion of their deities' power) such as Elminster, Fzoul Chembryl, Midnight (who later became the new embodiment of the goddess of magic, Mystra), and the Seven Sisters. Above all other deities is Ao, the Overlord. Ao does not sanction worshipers and distances himself from mortals. He is single-handedly responsible for the Time of Troubles, or Godswar, as seen in The Avatar Trilogy.


Main article: List of Forgotten Realms characters

The setting is the home of several iconic characters popularized by authors, including Elminster the wizard, who has appeared in several series of novels created by Greenwood himself, and Drizzt Do'Urden the highly popular drow, or dark elf, ranger created by R. A. Salvatore.


Early years[edit]

Ed Greenwood wrote Forgotten Realms stories as a child, starting around 1967;[10] they were his "'dream space for swords and sorcery stories".[10] When the Dungeons & Dragons game was introduced, the setting became the home of Greenwood's own personal campaign.[11] Beginning with the periodical's 30th issue[10] in 1979, Greenwood published a series of short articles that detailed the setting in The Dragon magazine, the first of which was about a monster known as the curst.[10] Greenwood wrote voluminous entries to Dragon magazine, using the Realms as a setting for his descriptions of magic items, monsters, and spells.[11] In 1986, the American game publishing company TSR began looking for a new campaign setting for the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons game,[10] and assigned Jeff Grubb to find out more about the setting used by Greenwood as portrayed in his articles in Dragon.[11] Greenwood agreed to work on the project, and began working to get the Forgotten Realms officially published.[10]

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st edition[edit]

Although the Realms were yet to be an official campaign world, the module H1: Bloodstone Pass, released in 1985 by TSR, is now considered to be a part of the Forgotten Realms,[12] although it wasn't until module H3: The Bloodstone Wars was released that Forgotten Realms became the official setting for the module series.[13] The first official Forgotten Realms product was Douglas Niles's Darkwalker on Moonshae, the first book in The Moonshae Trilogy, which predates the Forgotten Realms Campaign Set by 1 month.[14] The Campaign Set (often referred to as the "Old Grey Box")[14] was later released in 1987[15][16] as a boxed set of two source books (Cyclopedia of the Realms and DM's Sourcebook of the Realms)[4] and four large maps, designed by Greenwood in collaboration with author Jeff Grubb. The Forgotten Realms became an instant hit.[15] The module N5: Under Illefarn bears the Forgotten Realms logo on the cover, as do the two modules released in 1988, H4: The Throne of Bloodstone and I14: Swords of the Iron Legion.

The Crystal Shard was released in 1988,[17] the first novel to feature the successful character Drizzt Do'Urden, who has since appeared in more than seventeen subsequent novels, many of which have been featured on the New York Times Best Seller list.[18] In 1988, the first in a line of Forgotten Realms computer role-playing games, Pool of Radiance was released by Strategic Simulations, Inc. The game was popular, winning the Origins Award for Best Fantasy or Science Fiction Computer Game of 1988[19] and, in 1992, the game was ported to the Nintendo Entertainment System.

Several supplements to the original boxed set were released under the first edition rules, including FR1: Waterdeep and the North and FR2: Moonshae in 1987, and FR3: Empires of the Sands, FR4: The Magister, FR5: The Savage Frontier, FR6: Dreams of the Red Wizards, and REF5: Lords of Darkness in 1988. Also in 1988 came the City System boxed set, containing several maps of the city of Waterdeep. Ruins of Adventure, a module based on the computer game Pool of Radiance, was released in 1988.

The boxed set Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms was released in 1988, giving details of the lands of Kara-Tur which had previously appeared in the 1986 book Oriental Adventures, and were now officially placed in the Forgotten Realms world. In 1988 also, the module OA5: Mad Monkey vs the Dragon Claw was released for the Kara-Tur setting as a Forgotten Realms product.

In 1989, DC Comics began publishing a series of Forgotten Realms comics written by Jeff Grubb. Each issue contained twenty-six pages, illustrated primarily by Rags Morales and Dave Simons. Twenty-five issues were published in total, with the last being released in 1991. A fifty-six page annual Forgotten Realms Comic Annual #1: Waterdhavian Nights, illustrated by various artists, was released in 1990.

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition[edit]

An eponymous module, based on the computer role-playing game Curse of the Azure Bonds, was released in 1989, as was the The Avatar Trilogy series of novels, consisting of Shadowdale, Tantras, and Waterdeep that detailed the storyline which became known as the "Time of Troubles". A series of module adaptations for these novels were released in the same year, along with the Hall of Heroes accessory, detailing many of the major characters appearing in Forgotten Realms novels published up through that time. In early 1990, the hardcover Forgotten Realms Adventures by Jeff Grubb and Ed Greenwood was released, which introduced the Realms setting to the second edition of the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons game and detailed how the Time of Troubles had changed the setting.[11] The RPGA used the Forgotten Realms city of Ravens Bluff as the setting for their first living campaign. Official RPGA support for this product line included the Living City modules series. A number of sub-settings of the Forgotten Realms were briefly supported in the early 1990's. Three more modules were produced for the Kara-Tur setting. The Horde: Barbarian Campaign Setting, released in 1990, detailed The Hordelands, which also featured a series of three modules. The Maztica Campaign Set, in 1991, detailed the continent of Maztica.

The original gray boxed set received a revision in 1993 to update it to the second edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (AD&D) rules system, with the release of a new Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting boxed set, containing three books (A Grand Tour of the Realms, Running the Realms, and Shadowdale) and various "monster supplements,"[20] with a new graphic look.[16] Additional material for the setting was released steadily throughout the 1990s. Forgotten Realms novels, such as the Legacy of the Drow series, the first three books of The Elminster Series, and numerous anthologies, were also released throughout the 1990s, which lead to the setting being hailed as one of the most successful shared fantasy universes of the 1990s.[21] These novels in turn sparked interest in role-playing activity by new gamers.[22]

Numerous Forgotten Realms video games were released Between 1990 and 2000. The Eye of the Beholder PC game was released in 1990.[23] This game was later followed by two sequels, the first in 1991,[24] and the second in 1992.[25] All three games were re-released for DOS on a single disk in 1995.[26] Another 1991 release was Neverwinter Nights on America Online, the first graphical Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (MMORPG).[27] In 1998, Baldur's Gate was released, the first in a line of popular computer role-playing games[28] developed by BioWare and "considered by most pundits as the hands-down best PC roleplaying game ever".[1] The game was followed by a sequel, Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn in 2000 as well as Icewind Dale, a separate game that utilized the same game engine as Baldur's Gate. Pool of Radiance: Ruins of Myth Drannor was released in 2001. Several popular Forgotten Realms characters such as Drizzt Do'Urden and Elminster made minor appearances in these games.

Dungeons & Dragons 3rd edition[edit]

With the release of the 3rd edition Dungeons & Dragons rules system in 2000 by Wizards of the Coast, the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting was released as a hardcover, in 2001, updating the official material and advancing the timeline of the game world.[6] In 2002, the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting won the Origins Award for Best Role-Playing Game Supplement of 2001.[29]

Several additional rulebooks were released for the new edition, including Monster Compendium: Monsters of Faerûn (2001), Magic of Faerûn (2001), Lords of Darkness (2001), Faiths and Pantheons (2002), Silver Marches (2002), Races of Faerûn (2003), and Unapproachable East (2003). Adventure modules included Into the Dragon's Lair (2000), Pool of Radiance: Attack on Myth Drannor (2001), and City of the Spider Queen (2002).

In 2002, Bioware released Neverwinter Nights, set in the northern reaches of Faerûn and operated on the revised 3.0 rules for D&D. It was followed by two expansion packs (Shadows of Undrentide and Hordes of the Underdark), and a sequel in 2006, which was itself followed by the expansion sets Mask of the Betrayer and Storm of Zehir. The Forgotten Realms Deluxe Edition compilation was released in 2006, containing the Baldur's Gate series (excluding the Dark Alliance games), Icewind Dale series, and all Neverwinter Nights games before Neverwinter Nights 2.

With the release of the version 3.5 update to the rules, the Forgotten Realms product line continued to expand. Accessories released included Underdark (2003), Player's Guide to Faerûn (2004), Serpent Kingdoms (2004), Shining South (2004), Lost Empires of Faerûn (2005), Champions of Ruin (2005), City of Splendors: Waterdeep (2005), Champions of Valor (2005), Power of Faerûn (2006), Mysteries of the Moonsea (2006), Dragons of Faerûn (2006), Cormyr: The Tearing of the Weave (2007), Shadowdale: The Scouring of the Land (2007), and Grand History of the Realms (2007). Adventure modules released included Sons of Gruumsh (2005), The Twilight Tomb (2006), Expedition to Undermountain (2007), and Anauroch: The Empire of Shade (2007).

Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition[edit]

With the release for Dungeons & Dragons's 4th Edition, the Forgotten Realms were updated again to the new rules system, featuring a very changed Realms and moving the fictional world's timeline a century into the future.[30][31] The Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide, released August 2008, is a 288-page book for Dungeon Masters. The Forgotten Realms Player's Guide was released the following month, and contains information for players to help create Forgotten Realms characters. An adventure, Scepter Tower of Spellgard, was also released in September 2008 and can be used in combination with the adventure in the Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide to start a Forgotten Realms campaign.[32]


In his book, The Fantasy Roleplaying Gamer's Bible, Sean Patrick Fannon describes the Forgotten Realms as being "the most ambitious fantasy game setting published since Tekumel",[1] and that it "may be the most widely played-in game setting in RPG history".[1] Similarly, in literature, the novels written in the Forgotten Realms setting have formed one of "the industry's leading fantasy series".[33] Over time these novels have gained "unprecedented popularity",[34] which led, as Marc Oxoby noted in his book, The 1990s, to the novels having an "extraordinary shelf life", remaining in print for many years.[34] This popular reception has also been reflected in public libraries—for example, Joyce Saricks states in The Readers' Advisory Guide to Genre Fiction that the novels have been among the most requested books by fans of the fantasy genre.[35]

See also[edit]

Publications on the Forgotten Realms[edit]

Author Publication List
Publication System Publisher
A Dozen and One Adventures Dungeons and Dragons 2e TSR
Arabian Adventures Dungeons and Dragons 2e TSR
Assassin Mountain Dungeons and Dragons 2e TSR
Caravans Dungeons and Dragons 2e TSR
Champions of Ruin Dungeons and Dragons 3.5e Wizards of the Coast
Cities of Bone Dungeons and Dragons 2e TSR
City of Delights Dungeons and Dragons 2e TSR
City of Splendors: Waterdeep Dungeons and Dragons 3.5e Wizards of the Coast
Corsairs of the Great Sea Dungeons and Dragons 2e TSR
Demihuman Deities Dungeons and Dragons 2e TSR
Elfshadow Novel TSR
Faiths and Pantheons Dungeons and Dragons 3e Wizards of the Coast
Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting Dungeons and Dragons 2e TSR
Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting Dungeons and Dragons 3e Wizards of the Coast
Gold & Glory Dungeons and Dragons 2e TSR
Golden Voyages Dungeons and Dragons 2e TSR
Into the Void Novel TSR
Kara-Tur Trail Map Dungeons and Dragons 2e TSR
Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms Dungeons and Dragons 1e TSR
Land of Fate Dungeons and Dragons 2e TSR
Magic of Faerûn Dungeons and Dragons 3.5e Wizards of the Coast
Monsters of Faerûn Dungeons and Dragons 3e Wizards of the Coast
Monstrous Compendium Al-Qadim Appendix Dungeons and Dragons 2e TSR
Monstrous Compendium Forgotten Realms Appendix II Dungeons and Dragons 2e TSR
Monstrous Compendium Kara-Tur Appendix Dungeons and Dragons 2e TSR
Monstrous Compendium Volume Three Forgotten Realms Appendix Dungeons and Dragons 2e TSR
Netheril: Empire of Magic Dungeons and Dragons 2e TSR
Ninja Wars Dungeons and Dragons 2e TSR
Player's Guide to Faerûn Dungeons and Dragons 3.5e Wizards of the Coast
Powers & Pantheons Dungeons and Dragons 2e TSR
Races of Faerûn Dungeons and Dragons 3e Wizards of the Coast
Realmspace Dungeons and Dragons 2e TSR
Reunion Dungeons and Dragons 2e TSR
Ruined Kingdoms Dungeons and Dragons 2e TSR
Secrets of the Lamp Dungeons and Dragons 2e TSR
Serpent Kingdoms Dungeons and Dragons 3.5e Wizards of the Coast
Shining South Dungeons and Dragons 3.5e Wizards of the Coast
Silver Marches Dungeons and Dragons 3e Wizards of the Coast
The Cloakmaster Cycle
The Complete Book of Necromancers Dungeons and Dragons 2e TSR
The Complete Sha'ir's Handbook Dungeons and Dragons 2e TSR
The Grand History of the Realms Dungeons and Dragons 3.5e Wizards of the Coast
The Horde Dungeons and Dragons 2e TSR
The Radiant Dragon Novel TSR
Unapproachable East Dungeons and Dragons 3e Wizards of the Coast
Underdark Dungeons and Dragons 3.5e Wizards of the Coast

Articles on the Forgotten Realms[edit]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3  (1999). The Fantasy Roleplaying Gamer's Bible. (unspecified pub.)
  2. Slagle, Matt. "'Neverwinter Nights' sequel brings more dungeon exploration to PC", Associated Press, Deseret News, 2007-01-18. Retrieved on 2008-12-04. 
  3. "'Neverwinter Nights' sequel brings more dungeon exploration to PC", CNET Networks, 1999-01-20. Retrieved on 2008-12-04. 
  4. 4.0 4.1  (1987). Forgotten Realms Campaign Set. (TSR, Inc.)
  5.  (1988). Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms. (TSR)
  6. 6.0 6.1  (2001). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting. (Wizards of the Coast)
  7.  (2004). Player's Guide To Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast)
  8.  (1998). Demihuman Deities. (TSR)
  9.  (2002). Faiths and Pantheons. (Wizards of the Coast)
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 Winter, Steve; Greenwood, Ed; Grubb, Jeff. 30 Years of Adventure: A Celebration of Dungeons & Dragons, pages 74-87. (Wizards of the Coast, 2004).
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 Grubb, Jeff; Greenwood, Ed. Forgotten Realms Adventures (TSR, 1990)
  12. Bloodstone Pass at the Pen & Paper RPG Database, listing the module as part of the Forgotten Realms game line. Retrieved on November 30, 2008.
  13. H1: Bloodstone Pass at RPGnet. Retrieved on November 30, 2008.
  14. 14.0 14.1  (1993). Running the Realms. (TSR), pp. 4–5.
  15. 15.0 15.1 "Dungeons & Dragons FAQ". Wizards of the Coast. Archived from the original on 2008-10-03. Retrieved 2008-10-03. 
  16. 16.0 16.1 "The History of TSR". Wizards of the Coast. Archived from the original on 2008-10-04. Retrieved 2005-08-20. 
  17.  (2000). To Be Continued: An Annotated Guide to Sequels. (Greenwood Publishing Group)
  18. "Biography of R. A. Salvatore". Retrieved 2006-03-03. 
  19. "1988 List of Winners". Academy of Adventure Gaming, Arts & Design. Retrieved 9 December 2008. 
  20.  (1993). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting. (TSR, Inc.)
  21.  (2003). The 1990s. (Greenwood Publishing Group)
  22. Punday, Daniel (2005). "Creative Accounting; Role-playing Games, Possible-World Theory, and the Agency of the Imagination". Poetics Today 26 (1): 113–139. doi:10.1215/03335372-26-1-113. 
  23. Eye of the Beholder for PC. Gamespot. Retrieved on December 1, 2008.
  24. Eye of the Beholder II: The Legend of Darkmoon. Gamespot. Retrieved on December 1, 2008.
  25. Eye of the Beholder III: Assault on Myth Drannor. Gamespot. Retrieved on December 1, 2008.
  26. Eye of the Beholder Trilogy for DOS Mobygames. Retrieved on December 1, 2008.
  27. Stormfront Studios Honored at 59th Annual Emmy Technology Awards For Creating First Graphical Online Role-Playing Game Mcuvk. Retrieved on December 1, 2008.
  28. Curtis, Aaron. "Gamers' Corner; Visiting Worlds You Won't Want to Leave", The Los Angeles Times, 1999-04-19, p. C4. Retrieved on 2008-12-04. 
  29. "2001 List of Winners". Academy of Adventure Gaming, Arts & Design. Retrieved 9 December 2008. 
  30. "Previews for June and Beyond". Wizards of the Coast. 5 June 2008. Retrieved 9 December 2008. 
  31. "Forgotten Realms". Design & Development. Wizards of the Coast. 28 August 2008. Retrieved 9 December 2008. 
  32. "Scepter Tower of Spellgard". Product page. Wizards of the Coast. Retrieved 7 December 2008. 
  33. Milliot, Jim (October 22, 2007). "Wizards Brews New Fiction Line". Publishers Weekly 254 (42). 
  34. 34.0 34.1  (2003). The 1990s. (Greenwood Publishing Group)
  35.  (2001). The Readers' Advisory Guide to Genre Fiction. (ALA Editions), p. 49–50.

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