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[Let's Read] Forgotten Realms: The Revised Campaign Setting

Scrivener of Doom

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I'm really pleased to see you doing this, Thane of Fife. I enjoyed your OGB thread. Subscribed! :)

I remember 3 sections of interest for that book: specialty priests + costumes, spell translations from the old gray box into 2nd ed with additions, and descriptions (with maps and npcs) of all the major cities of the heartlands. I spent many an evening pouring over the cities trying to figure out the demography of levels in forgotten realms and probably min-maxing the specialty priests.

So if you really want to go into religious and geographic details it's better than the gray box.
I must admit, I also see FR Adventures as an intergral part of the revised CS. Let's see if our enthusiasm for this thread sees Thane of Fife continue on to that book also.... ;)
 

glass

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The second one, Running the Realms, shows a sorceress fighting a dracolich in what was, I think, one of the first pieces of D&D art I ever saw (and still a personal favorite).
Spellfire wielder (and thief) actually. Before it was the cover of "Running the Realms", it was the cover of the novel "Spellfire". But yeah, I agree about the picture. I thought the Spellfire was awesome when I was sixteen...I doubt I think that of the novel 22 years later, but the cover still is.


glass.
 

Thane of Fife

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Actually, there are two versions of China and Japan (at different points in their respective histories) in that region. As to your question, they published several modules set there, so it can't have been too unpopular. :) The wisdom of attaching everything to Faerun is questionable, but Maztica, Zakhara and Kara Tur all to some degree require a "West" for contrast. Unfortunately, this results in the parts of Faerun that aren't "the west" (Calimshan and the Old Empires) either looking superfluous or making parts of Zakhara seem that way. On the other hand ... two Japan, two Arabias, perhaps?
I agree that Maztica requires a "West" for contrast, though I don't know about Zakhara and Kara Tur. But I don't know how developed those "Wests" need to be.

I remember 3 sections of interest for that book: specialty priests + costumes, spell translations from the old gray box into 2nd ed with additions, and descriptions (with maps and npcs) of all the major cities of the heartlands. I spent many an evening pouring over the cities trying to figure out the demography of levels in forgotten realms and probably min-maxing the specialty priests.

So if you really want to go into religious and geographic details it's better than the gray box.
It sounds like a neat book, I'm just not sure if it's in the scope of my project, here.


The next section in the book is on Races. We have alot more detail here than we ever got in the Grey Box. Humans are of course the dominant race here. And I am reminded that the Lantanese are supposed to have nearly translucent skin, which is something I don't think I've ever seen portrayed. Also, I had thought it was supposed to be Luskan with the really pale skin. Maybe I'm mistaken.

Under Dragons we get informed that since the Time of Troubles (read: 2e), no dragon has accepted sunbdual combat with a mortal. It's almost like they took that out of the rules, or something.

Dwarves are now broken up into named subraces: shield dwarves, gold dwarves, wild dwarves, and duergar. Interestingly, the normal hill dwarves are the less common Realms gold dwarves. But these are supposedly more cultural than biological distinctions. We have lost the hill, mountain, and city dwarves distinction of before. Other than that, dwarves haven't changed much sine the Grey Box (female dwarves still have beards, but usually shave).

The elf entry is almost word-for-word out of the Grey Box, so I'm not going to go into it again. But feel free to talk about how unfair Evermeet is or what jerks gold elves are. I do think it's interesting how the theoretically chaotic elves have more autocratic systems of government.

The goblins are similarly unchanged.

Gnomes do have a new subrace; basically, tinker gnomes are now a thing in the Realms, coming from the south since the Time of Troubles. There is a line here: "given the legendary wisdom of the gnomes, everyday humans have little to fear." I'm not sure if this is supposed to be a statement that Realms gnomes are interested in science, but not crazy like those tinker gnomes, or if it's a tongue-in-cheek acknowledgement of how 2e gnomes and Realms gnomes are basically complete opposites.

Half-elves and halflings are both much the same as previously, though we do get some elucidation on Elminster's Grey Box remark that "the idea of a Halfling Nation [from the South] is disturbing." Basically, Elminster was rakishly commenting on the idea of halflings coming to dominate Faerun. Given that halflings can't be mages in 1e or 2e, I wonder if there could be some kind of Mystran anti-halfling bias?

We do get some new info on giants, mostly that they are perpetual losers, but you can occasionally find one in Waterdeep or Cormyr. Maybe that's to allow the Firbolg and Voadkyn races in the Complete Book of Humanoids?

We also discuss the races of the Underdark. We get some elaboration on Realms beholders (interesting in how as monsters which like to rule over conglomerations of other races it will eventually contrast with the Dalek-beholders), and an interesting mention that duergar seek to burrow deeper and wake up the greater evils that lie underground. Dragons? What could they be talking about? Nice takes on each of drow, duergar, illithids, and beholders here, I feel.

And that's pretty much it for races, except for a brief acknowledgement that there are many more sentient races out there.
 

Arilou

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I do think it's interesting how the theoretically chaotic elves have more autocratic systems of government.
On some level it makes sense. Naturally "Lawful" societies would probably be fairly self-organizing, while chaotic ones would be like trying to herd cats, and so when they come together it's usually because of a "Strong Leader" managing to wrangle them into the same direction.

EDIT: Or, in a lawful society power would tend to become invested in a collective. (not neccessarily democratic, of course) because the interpretation and upholding of tradition, The Law, etc. is by nature a collective effort that requires delegation, while in chaotic societies power is always more personal and tied into the person's strength/charisma/ties of loyalties, and thus tends towards autocracy.
 
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Sleeper

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EDIT: Or, in a lawful society power would tend to become invested in a collective. (not neccessarily democratic, of course) because the interpretation and upholding of tradition, The Law, etc. is by nature a collective effort that requires delegation, while in chaotic societies power is always more personal and tied into the person's strength/charisma/ties of loyalties, and thus tends towards autocracy.
But it doesn't tend toward stable governments or hereditary succession. Chaotic governments should be temporary dictatorships, or wild democracies, not hidebound monarchies. Once a dictatorship is passed to the second generation, it's well on the way to becoming lawful (if it wasn't already, with secret police and the like).
 

Arilou

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But it doesn't tend toward stable governments or hereditary succession. Chaotic governments should be temporary dictatorships, or wild democracies, not hidebound monarchies. Once a dictatorship is passed to the second generation, it's well on the way to becoming lawful (if it wasn't already, with secret police and the like).
Well, in the case of Evermeet we have a decidedly non-traditional succession essentially based on Queen Whatsherface being soopah-speshul.

And aren't elven royalty "selected", not inherited anyway? (can't remember exactly who or what selected them)
 

Sleeper

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Well, in the case of Evermeet we have a decidedly non-traditional succession essentially based on Queen Whatsherface being soopah-speshul.

And aren't elven royalty "selected", not inherited anyway? (can't remember exactly who or what selected them)
Not sure, but with elven longevity, it's almost irrelevant. One queen can rule for 50 human generations.

Isn't the selection somehow tied to those silly moon swords?
 

Thane of Fife

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On some level it makes sense. Naturally "Lawful" societies would probably be fairly self-organizing, while chaotic ones would be like trying to herd cats, and so when they come together it's usually because of a "Strong Leader" managing to wrangle them into the same direction.

EDIT: Or, in a lawful society power would tend to become invested in a collective. (not neccessarily democratic, of course) because the interpretation and upholding of tradition, The Law, etc. is by nature a collective effort that requires delegation, while in chaotic societies power is always more personal and tied into the person's strength/charisma/ties of loyalties, and thus tends towards autocracy.
That's an interesting and reasonable interpretation of it. I hadn't thought of it that way. Interesting.

Not sure, but with elven longevity, it's almost irrelevant. One queen can rule for 50 human generations.

Isn't the selection somehow tied to those silly moon swords?
There actually are no new elf royals. Elves know that they could never have any sort of clean succession. Instead, the Retreat is actually just elves moving away from an area where there ruler has just died to somewhere which still has one. Nowadays, there are only two members of Elvish royalty left - in Evermeet and Evereska. Who knows what will happen to the elves when they both perish?

(This is why it took the elves of Cormanthor 500 years to retreat. That was the diagnosis their king got - "I'm afraid he's contracted Elvish Wasting Disease. He's only got 500 more years to live.")


The next section in the book touches on character classes. Fighters and rangers don't really change, though there is a little more discussion of what type of background a fighter PC might come from. Paladins have changed a lot. For one thing, the cavalier is no longer a class, so that part is gone. We've also lost Elminster's less-than-high opinion of the class. In its place, we get a bit of a Paladin's Code, though the text notes that it is not an absolute one (it's really more of a list of ideals than an actual code). Also, paladins now have to have divine patrons, in explicit contrast to the Grey Box, where they didn't. No mention of a reason for the change. We are told that any lawful good, neutral good, or lawful neutral deity may have paladins. I believe that Sune will eventually get paladins, but here she is not allowed to have them.

The basic section on wizards is much the same as the older one on magic-users, but it is now expanded with mention of specialist wizards. This is pretty bland. Mostly it just talks about clothes. There is also a bit on the curse which befalls wizards who try to use famous wizards' runes. It is... not nice. That's all I can say about that. The priest section is again mostly unchanged, except with mention that many gods also have specialty priests. There is no mention of what they're like, though. Druids are similarly unchanged, though with a little more focus given to their being a type of specialty priest. Druidic neutrality remains keeping the balance between civilization and nature.

Bards are basically a new class in 2e (not much connection to the 1e bard), so their section is mostly new. Basically, bards are travelers who carry and spread information. Many are musicians, but not all. There are no bardic schools. This is also the first time I've ever seen anything about the Harpers that actually made me think 'Secret Society,' as opposed to 'Society Everyone Knows About that Calls Itself Secret.' From this one entry, I feel like I actually have a much better understanding of how the Harpers might work. There is also a listing of musical instruments either unique to the Realms or renamed in them. Apparently no bagpipes, though.
 

Critias

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I believe that Sune will eventually get paladins, but here she is not allowed to have them.
Yup, that came about in the 3E version. Her Chaotic Good-self still got some pallies. They also introduced some rules for multiclassing Paladins (who were allowed, within the constraints of their chosen deity, to multiclass and still level up Paladin). Overall it relaxed the Paladin stuff a little, for the 3E Forgotten Realms, and I, at least, thought it was pretty cool.
 

Arilou

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This is also the first time I've ever seen anything about the Harpers that actually made me think 'Secret Society,' as opposed to 'Society Everyone Knows About that Calls Itself Secret.'
I always figured they were "Secret" in the way say, the Freemasons are Secret: Everyone knows they exist, there's even members who are publicly known, but there's a whole lot of secrecy about what they actually *do*.
 
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