This month, we asked the Forgotten Realms design team whether they created any new mechanics, spells, feats, skills, and other rules specifically for playing the new edition of D&D in the Realms. Their answer? "Definitely!"
Rich: The prestige classes in the new Forgotten Realms book are extremely specific to Faerûn -- we have Red Wizards, Harpers, Purple Dragons, and several other groups well represented. We also introduced a new level of detail to the character creation rules to help reflect your character's background. By choosing a homeland or native region particularly appropriate for your character's race and class, you gain access to special "regional feats" and some free equipment that might make the difference between life and death for beginning characters.
Rob: The regional feat system simulates the differences between cultures and nationalities across the Realms, so that PCs and NPCs from the major areas can choose from new feats that showcase their specialized abilities.
Sean: And in addition to the new feats, we created some twists on familiar races -- including a system where PCs of powerful races, such as drow, don't always overshadow more "normal" PCs such as humans. Plus, new domains, new spells
Rob: We've got a bunch of spells in the works, including a lot of old favorites that we converted to the new mechanics. There are even new skills to simulate some Realms-style magic item creation stuff that wasn't handled in the core D&D rules.
Sean: And we added rules that allow some monks and paladins to multiclass and still be able to gain levels in their original class,
Rob: Those new orders of monks and paladins have relationships with particular Realms deities that allow them to multiclass more freely than they can in standard D&D.
Why do you think this campaign setting really requires new or altered Realms-specific rules?
Sean: The Realms has always been a setting where fantastic things happen, and people can gain remarkable abilities if they worked hard enough or were in the right circumstances. In a world where the deities have recently walked the earth, it's not such an odd idea that paladins of those deities might have more options than what is listed in the Player's Handbook.
Rich: One of the salient features of Faerûn is its incredible diversity. The world embraces everything from barbaric horse-nomads roaming a land littered with the ruins of an ancient empire to crowded mercantile city-states filled with intrigue and evil cults. We felt that the best way to represent this diversity was to make a great number of options available to player characters. Each player could, by his choice of class, race, and homeland, contribute to the wonderful variety of the Dungeon Master's Forgotten Realms campaign. Some of the burden of the world-experience is on the players' shoulders, and that's a good thing. It invests the players in the campaign, and it relieves the Dungeon Master of the requirement to be the sole storyteller of the world.