Business of RPGs
the New Forgotten Realms
By Anthony Valterra
Associate Business Manager, Tabletop Roleplaying Games
D&D worlds and licensing manager Jim Butler and I began to
contemplate the 3rd Edition version of the Forgotten Realms, a
central question nagged us: Who deserves the spotlight? Who is the hero
of this vast, rich setting? Is it Drizzt DoUrden? Elminster? The
no doubt realize, the correct answer is "none of the above."
In your game at home, the player characters are the heroes. Powerful good
guys like Khelben Blackstaff or Storm Silverhand only pull focus away
from the PCs. Oh, major nonplayer characters are fine to have around to
kick off an adventure, but after that they should be relegated to background
color. Of course, new Realms releases will include some discussion of
these NPC heroes (we cant exactly ignore them), but if the good
guys arent the focus, who do we detail? That answer got us grinning
from ear to ear.
of course! Those wonderful, inscrutable, malicious, cunning, evil villains
in need of a sound thrashing. Without their vile plots and twisted attempts
at world domination, player characters wouldnt have opportunities
to right wrongs and perform heroic deeds. Even dungeon crawls need some
sort of climactic ending that usually involves powerful spellcasters or
intelligent monsters, both of whom fall into the villain category.
subject of villains brought us to a second problem: After years of novels
and roleplaying releases, the villains of the Forgotten Realms
have had their lunch handed to them more times than anyone cared to count.
These vicious predators plots had been foiled a few too many times,
prompting some Realms fans to think our villains looked more like the
Keystone Cops than the Illuminati.
the new edition of the Forgotten Realms. The Realms have become
a bit grittier and more dangerous, the villains more formidable.
of guilds, cabals, societies, and orders exist in Faerûns wide lands.
Some assemble to wage war against evil, swearing solemn oaths of goodwill
and protection as binding as any paladins. But most are alliances
of ambitious, wealthy, and frequently ruthless people interested only
in advancing their hidden agendas, regardless of who or what gets in their
way." -- Opening to Chapter 7: Organizations
campaign setting sees the return and reformation of some classic villainous
organizations. The Red Wizards have used their strength in magic to expand
their influence across Faerûn, setting up conclaves in almost all major
cities. Red Wizards are now a common and growing influence across the
land. Adventurers may find themselves in the frustrating position of bringing
down a Red Wizard plot, only to find the local authorities releasing the
miscreant by order of the head of state.
have found an "accommodation" amongst their ruling triumvirate
of Sememmon, Fzoul, and Manshoon. Fzoul now firmly hold the reigns of
power. With his new blackguard, Scyllua Darkhope, the Zhentarim have begun
to see some of their major plans come to fruition. Scyllua has pushed
Hillsfars troops out of Yulash and relieved pressure on Voonlar,
while Fzoul has struck a secret accord with Mulmaster. The combination
has sent Hillsfar running to Sembia in hopes of an alliance.
of Scyllua (a favorite of mine), she serves as an excellent example of
the types of villains more likely to threaten the new Realms. Scyllua
is a fallen paladin, and the most zealous of believers are those who have
converted from the opposition. "In Scyllua the soldiers of Zhentil
Keep have their most determined, persistent, and intelligent captain in
generations." Scyllua is a dangerous and charismatic leader of the
black network. Here at Wizards, she is often described as "Joan of
Arc gone bad."
new Realms, dont look for quick wins by your PC heroes or easy help
from major NPC figures of good. In fact, many NPC heroes are currently
having their own difficulties. The Harpers have had a very public split
with one of their major supporters, Khelben Arunsun Blackstaff, and their
troubles and internal strife arent over yet. Cormyr, the kingdom
most often held up as an example an enlightened monarchy, now faces the
problem of what to do when the enlightened ruler dies. "Many nobles
are on the swords edge of rebellion, other seek to claw their way
back from exile, and Sembian interests are trying to covertly take control
of Cormyr or at least gain substantial influence." Unfortunately,
Azoun V is still an infant, leaving the crown in the hands of a regent.
up, folks. Life in the Realms is going to get a bit tougher. On the plus
side, there are a lot of opportunities for a heroic company of adventurers
to right some wrongs, save some lives, and perhaps even turn a tidy profit.
more on the new campaign setting update? Catch the Realmswatch!