Rich Baker: It's hard to say anything other than the "classics" -- the Dales and the North. When I run Forgotten Realms games, I'm strongly inclined to start in those areas. Since that's kind of a boring answer, I'll tell you about my next-favorite part of the map: the Lake of Steam. There are a lot of interesting developments there, especially in Mintar and Innarlith. It's becoming the Moonsea of the South, a sultry, exotic, and deadly place just full of adventure possibilities.
Skip Williams: The Dales and the Silver Marches both got special attention. Lots of things going on there and lot of opportunities for stalwart adventurers. But there are things to do just about anywhere you go.
Rob Heinsoo: If I had to pick a big geographical area that I enjoy, I'd say the Western Heartlands, because they're such a huge expanse full of chunky adventure sites, everything from Darkhold to Candlekeep to Baldur's Gate to Boareskyr Bridge. With lots of room in between for anything the DM wants.
But for the game I want to run, it would have to be the High Forest. I like the constant low-level warfare between dozens of clans and tribes of nonhumans, the sense that no matter what else happens in the rest of Faerûn, the High Forest has been like this for a long, long time. I want to play a forest combat game, and even if the game would eventually move to Cormanthor, I'd want to start it off with High Forest peoples, people from the ancient forest that never got tamed into an elven garden.
Sean Reynolds: I'm rather partial to Damara and Vaasa.
Damara is neat because it's a war-torn nation that has accepted the leadership of a paladin and his adventuring buddies. There's a good mix of humans, dwarves, half-orcs, and gnomes, with plenty of weird monsters around and the lingering forces of an evil lich-king. A nearby monastery of Ilmater provides a good supply of clerics, paladins, and monks, and the people are very accepting of adventurers because their king was one (and helped free them from a terrible and evil cult).
Vaasa is a neat place because it's rich in mineral resources but poor in farming, so people tend to have a more nomadic existence - again, making adventurers more accepted. Weird monsters guard wealthy troves of raw gems, and strange things lurk in the mud pits and bottomless bogs. A constant vague threat is Castle Perilous, the lair of the fallen lich-king that invaded Damara.
Will these magic portals we've been hearing about take us to places we've not seen before?
Skip Williams: Not really, but then that's not their purpose. Their purpose is to open up the whole Realms.
Sean Reynolds: We wanted to stick close to Faerûn in this book, so most portals won't take you to another continent. However, the fact that the portals exist means a DM can transport a group of characters from Waterdeep to Thay, have a few adventures there, then boat to Mulhorand, deal with the war there, then take another portal to Calimshan, the Vilhon Reach, or the Sword Coast.
Rich Baker: Faerûn is riddled with portals. They're present in such numbers for one simple reason: So you, the DM, can put your player characters in exotic, interesting places for an adventure or two, and then bring them back to the central campaign whenever you want to.
Sean Reynolds: The portals allow a DM to have a campaign that ranges far and can justify the presence of normally remote foes such as the Red Wizards or the Twisted Rune. The player characters might even be from Thay, the Hordelands, or Mulhorand, adventuring in the Dales or the Western Heartlands . . . a not unreasonable situation, assuming they made the trip via a portal.
Rich Baker: We have some detailed rules on all kinds of portals, covering portal construction, operation, and even malfunctions. It's a story device that opens up the whole continent to determined players.
Skip Williams: Then again, the Forgotten Realms regions are constantly changing, so who knows what will happen when you step through a portal into an old, familiar place.
Go to the May Realmswatch main page for more of information about geography in the new Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting or the Forgotten Realms main news page for more articles and news about the Forgotten Realms game setting.