second part of this month's roundtable, we asked the Forgotten Realms
design team about the nature of the changes happening to the nations and
states in the new edition of the setting. Are there huge shifts taking
place? A lot of small changes? A little of both? A lot of neither?. Their
answers show their concern for preserving the continuity of the setting
while having it continue to evolve.
Baker: Few huge shifts, really. The kinds of changes we're moving
forward with are generally the fruition of plot hooks sewn in game products,
magazine articles, and novels over the last ten years or more. For example,
the Black Network openly rules Zhentil Keep now -- the organization dictates
affairs in its home city completely. That's simply an evolutionary change
derived from years of products and books, nothing that's unprecedented
or revolutionary. It's just a change that makes sense.
Reynolds: We have a broad range of changes, from an old ruler stepping
down peacefully to take on other duties, to a hero ascending a throne,
to god-kings putting the smackdown on their ancient rivals.
Heinsoo: A couple of the larger shifts tie in with the villains theme.
Villains + nations. I'm not certain we want to give everything away, but
there are shifts in power and political and social events that change
kingdoms and nations. It's a living world, when it breathes, some people
fall off and others hang on and get more powerful.
Is there any new material being introduced/added/changed
about those places we're already familiar with?
Reynolds: The first thing that comes to mind is the halfling nation
of Luiren. With the changes in halflings for the new D&D, we
had to take a long hard look at this place, because according to the Player's
Handbook, "halflings have no lands of their own." We needed
to find a reason for these halflings to cluster together and defend their
own territory without violating the feel of the new halfling. What Rob
came up with makes sense, and allows the Luiren halflings to be halflings
and still have their own country. And they're a bunch of zealous martial
artists, when you come right down to it. . . .
Baker: One of the things we're doing is describing in brief every
land of Faerûn, including places that haven't been touched on in years
and years of game product.
Heinsoo: Yes. Some of the distant (from the Heartlands) places have
been explored because there was precious little about them in print before.
Rich Baker: For
example, you'll find brief overviews of places like Tashalar, Chult, Dambrath,
Luiren, and Estagund in the new set -- a quick summary, but the first
time these places have been addressed in print since The Jungles of
Chult and The Shining South, game products almost ten years
most part, though, we've concentrated our efforts in two regions: the
Dalelands and the North. Our market research indicates that most FR fans
are playing their games in those areas, so we covered them in greater
depth than we did other parts of Faerûn.