This month, we asked the members of the Forgotten Realms design team, "What do you think about the new Forgotten Realms book now that it's finally out?" Their answers, although they varied in the specifics, were pretty much the same: "It kicks butt!"
Rich Baker: I'm very, very pleased with it. When you see the whole package together -- the text, the maps, the art, the cover treatment -- it just blows you away. I know I'm not exactly unbiased about this, but the new Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting book is just an order of magnitude beyond anything we've done for the Forgotten Realms before. I can't wait to see how the audience receives it.
Rob Heinsoo: I love it. The book is a goobfest of Forgotten Realms goodness.
And the first thing everyone will see it that it's a beautiful book. The ancient parchment look of the graphic design is stunning.
Sean Reynolds: The book kicks ass. I think it could stop a bullet. Buy a copy or I'll kill you, probably with something other than a bullet.
Julia Martin: It's beautiful, it's packed chock full, and it's a thing of wonder. A lot of people's hard work on the team in the past year and a lot of people's hard work on the Forgotten Realms over many years culminates in it.
Skip Williams: It's a great looking collection of crunchy rules and great lore for Forgotten Realms fans.
James Wyatt: Wow. It's amazing. When you put it side-by-side with the revised edition Forgotten Realms box, first you're just visually blown away. It's graphically better than anything we've ever done -- not just for the Forgotten Realms, but for any setting, any game. In my humble opinion, of course.
Then you start to look beyond the pretty pictures, and the content blows you away. No, we couldn't fit every detail from 10 years' worth of Forgotten Realms supplements into this one book, but boy, there's a lot of details in there.
What's your favorite part (or favorite parts) of the book?
Rich Baker: That's really tough, because I like a lot of different parts. The character creation options in Chapter 1 (Characters) appeal to my rules-nut side, because there are dozens and dozens of interesting new combinations to try out with the Forgotten Realms demihuman subraces, regional feats, and prestige classes. The immense amount of territory covered in Chapter 4 (Geography) is just as impressive in a different way. We've got interesting new plot developments, descriptions of places never before described in the Realms, and boatloads of adventure opportunities. I also like the way Chapter 3 (Life in Faerûn) came together, too.
Sean Reynolds: Chapter 1: Characters. All sorts of cool rulesy goodness, including a new standard for handling PC creatures that are more powerful than your standard PC races.
Skip Williams: The character information kicks butt. It offers oodles of new options that are useful to any D&D players, and it offers you a chance to create cool characters that are fully integrated with the setting.
Rob Heinsoo: I called the book a goobfest. Here's what I mean: It's stuffed with great crunchy bits that people will goob over. Full-color maps of geographic regions sprinkled through the text. A trade map showing where dozens of commodities are produced and how they get moved around Faerûn. Interesting wrinkles on Faerûn's nonhuman races that make each of them more accessible as PCs. Wonderful illustrations of all of Faerûn's nonhuman races. A new cosmology diagram that shows you where the gods and goddesses live.
James Wyatt: I am really enamored of Chapter 8: Running the Realms. It's the one-chapter DM's Guide for the Forgotten Realms, and is just as chock full of inspirational goodness as the actual Dungeon Master's Guide. I love Ed's list of Known Dungeons of Faerûn, and I love "Rule 2: Make the PCs the Stars of Your Campaign" (which comes right after "Rule 1: It's Your World").
Then, of course, there's the monsters chapter . . .
Julia Martin: I like the extra-crunchy chapters best: Characters, Magic, Running the Realms, Deities, and Monsters. Many folks might say I'm a little prejudiced, though, because I worked most on those. The whole book is crunchy, though, and the best combination of flavor and crunch is in the Geography chapter.
Rich Baker: If I had to pick a favorite, I guess I'd choose Chapter 4: Geography. Old Forgotten Realms fans will love the facelift we've given to some of the "same old" areas, changes that build on characters, plots, and opportunities that were there before and take them to the next logical step. New fans will be awed by the sheer scope of this incredible world and the amount of things to do in Faerûn.
Rob Heinsoo: What else do I like most? I love that people can play with characters from all over Faerûn, and that the regional feats system helps distinguish them from each other. I like the way the Life in Faerûn chapter got rewritten by Skip, Rich, and Sean into something evocative and extremely useful. I'm also psyched that cosmology, history, and write-ups of 30 of the major deities fit into the book.
James Wyatt wrote articles for Dragon Magazine and Dungeon Magazine before joining the Wizards of the Coast staff in January 2000. Game design is career No. Five, after stints as a childcare worker, ordained minister, technical writer, and web designer. He currently resides in Washington state.
Go 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.