by Ed Greenwood
so at last it's out. The third incarnation of the Forgotten
Realms setting, the
third successful attempt to squeeze a gallon into a pint pot, the third
road to adventure. That's what you're holding when you pick it up, a road
to -- well, no.
holding a window with a lovely view of adventure. You can peruse
its pages over and over again, doing nothing more than dreaming and seeing
things in your mind's eye -- changing the vistas of fairy lands forlorn
that this magic casement opens onto.
you do something with it, writing your own Forgotten Realms tales
or starting a campaign or stirring some of the sauces and spices the book
offers into an exciting campaign, this window has changed into a door,
and you've stepped through it. In front of you is a road to adventure
-- your road, with this new Forgotten Realms tome as the helpful
guidebook. You choose where your road goes, its bends and twists, plucking
what you like and need most from this newest Forgotten Realms "baseline"
what we sometimes call "FR0" and now usually lovingly refer
to as the "Old Gray Box." I thought Jeff Grubb and Karen Boomgarden
did a wonderful job of twisting the notes of one eccentric, roleplaying-over-rules
DM (uh, that would be me) into rules that everyone could use. They called
a halt to my enthusiastic shoveling of Realmslore notes in their direction
all too soon, and even then, it didn't all fit.
loved the thicker "Second Box," also know as the "Gold
Box" (if you had an early one) [or the "olive drab box"--
Ed. note] or "The Whirling World Soup Box" (if you had a
later one). Julia Martin took over the main long-suffering editor duties
this time, Don Bingle contributed a starter Shadowdale adventure that
I've never thanked him properly for (sorry, and thanks, Don!), and Jeff
pulled off the miracle of cramming and shoving and stuffing material (of
a world that had more than started to grow!) in to fit. I just filled
in little bits and pieces around the edges, the second time around.
confess that I also love this third baseline Forgotten Realms product,
this "Forgotten Realms Box in a Book." Julia stayed aboard,
editing with Michele Carter and John Rateliff, and Rich Baker led the
design team and learned what Jeff already knew: The leader has to make
the really tough "chop this because it just won't fit" decisions.
Jim Butler watched over us all, aided by Anthony Valterra and a cast of
interested others (we must never forget the "Lore Lords" of
the Forgotten Realms, such as Steven Schend, Eric Boyd, George
Krashos, Grant Christie, Bryan Wischstadt, and many, many others who check
this and add that and fix this other little bit). I wrote seemingly tons
of stuff, but I was really only the color commentator behind veteran designer
Skip Williams, and the newer folks: Sean Reynolds, Rob Heinsoo, and James
Wyatt. Did I miss someone? Undoubtedly, and I apologize now for it. I'm
sure readers get my point, though. This is a team effort, every time,
and the Forgotten Realms grows under our fingers and gets away
from us, every time.
folks, it's alive. . . .
confess that I'd love to see a shelf of thick, leatherbound tomes with
placemarking ribbons, eight-color maps, gilded edges, and random recordings
that play every so often when such a book is opened (Elminster, of course,
murmuring such helpful irritants as, "Ye're sure that's what ye're
looking for? [Sigh.] All right. Say not that I didn't warn ye.").
But then, I can't save money or balance budgets to save my life, let alone
keep a gaming company in the black.
last few Realmswatch installments, I've passed on little bits of lore
that I didn't dare try to hand to Rich (um, to try to sneak them past
him somehow into the book). It just doesn't work. He's way too good for
that. I didn't want to do that again, and have this swan song Realmswatch
from me be yet another "Sorry, we couldn't fit this in, so it's missing,
but enjoy the book anyway." That's not fair to all of these good
folks I've just mentioned.
I'll mention something they probably didn't think they'd put into the
book. This is an old trick, so old that some of you reading this will
dismiss it as juvenile or useless fluff, and others will nod and smile
and remember doing it. Keep this Forgotten Realms tome close beside
you when you're playing in the Forgotten Realms setting (but
of course!) because sooner or later your players are going to have their
characters snatch a book or letter or scroll from a library shelf, a treasure
chest, a courtier's bedside table, or even from some unfortunate's body
and ask you what it says, and you're going to realize that you have four
or five prepared cryptic messages ready, but for whatever reason, this
occasion isn't the right one for any of them. Or perhaps you need a few
whispered words for the PCs to overhear, or a strange dying utterance
for them to puzzle over.
no problem. Just open your lovely new Forgotten Realms book (even
if it has become an old, worn friend, no longer new), and pick a few words
at random. I've just done it with mine, using the end few words of the
third line of one column on a few pages, and come up with:
the sword appears"
of evil priests"
wings or magic"
side of the Hellgate crater"
hoard in a tunnel"
turn friendly or lethal"
was caused by the divine"
has since escaped"
battle-skilled Red Wizards"
go on and on. String these together with a few framing words, and Storm's
your aunt! (As Mourngrym of Shadowdale would say, before leaving -- quickly.)
finished message will be different than mine, but it'll still work. Don't
worry, Elminster and lots of other doddering old wizards and sages do
this all the time and rarely get caught at it. And, hey, you're smarter
than they are, right?
that you all continue to enjoy the Realms as much as I do!
Ed of the Greenwood.
to the June Realmswatch
main page for more of information about the release of the new Forgotten
Realms Campaign Setting or the Forgotten
Realms main news page
for more articles and news about the Forgotten Realms game setting.