Let’s Roll: Forgotten Realms

Siskoid has finally bowed down to public pressure and produced an episode about Dungeons & Dragons. But it's too big a topic, so he and his guests, fellow DungeonMasters Fred Melanson and Jonathan Schaefer-Hames, are drilling down into the specifics of D&D's default setting - the Forgotten Realms! What's so great about this world and why has it become THE choice of sword & sorcery adventuring? Plus, GameMaster advice and your feedback from our previous episode. Let's Roll... NOW ON ITS OWN FEED!

Relevant images and credits in the Let's Roll Supplemental.

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8 responses to “Let’s Roll: Forgotten Realms

  1. Wonderful episode. Loved the way everything was approached and discussed. Thanks for the “road trip” ideas for gaming groups at the end, Siskoid. Great gaming ideas.

  2. Well done, everyone, on another very entertaining Let’s Roll! I really enjoyed hearing the different experiences you all had as DM’s with your players. I’m a sucker for generic fantasy/vanilla D&D so the talk of the Forgotten Realms was great to hear. Siskoid, I know you said that you come back to D&D from time to time but don’t really enjoy the D20 system, so what is your favourite setting and/or system? Is there a setting that you enjoy with a system you don’t and vice versa?

    To me, the Forgotten Realms feels like the fantasy version of “Yes, and…..”. Like you and your fellow guests mentioned, it just feels like you can do almost anything the players want in the Forgotten Realms. Be who you want to be, go where you want to go! Even though it’s still in the fantasy genre, I feel like I can roll up a horror campaign after playing a western-style campaign, having it all take place in a middle eastern setting and it all works.

    I will concur about the Last Mine of Phandelver being a great intro to 5th Edition, as I’m running it with my group right now! They seem to be enjoying it and it gives a nice balance between back story and beating things up.

    As always, Siskoid, your tips at the end are fantastic. I never, ever thought before about how a buddy trip movie could give me inspiration to get the players moving but now I want try it out!

    This was so much fun! Keep up the great work!

  3. Great episode Fred, Jonathon, and Siskoid! I’ve only recently become a convert to Forgotten Realms with 5th edition. While I loved the books (and those kind of deserved their own show/episode), I came into D&D with 2nd edition and hated it. It was combination of not enough players in my area (really only me and one other) and the fact that D&D tried to cash in on the books by making their most marketed adventures adaptations of the novels, so you were very heavily railroaded along the books plot. I think that helped reinforce the notion of “my efforts don’t matter” in the Realms and Forgotten Realms. Most of my gaming at this time was Palladium (TMNT and RIFTS) and Marvel. For D&D, I turned to the SSI computer games (mentioned here and also worthy of a separate episode). I really started playing D&D in 3rd edition with a playtest group in Greyhawk, then took a sabbatical. I now run two campaigns for my kids and their friends. One is Ravenloft and the other Forgotten Realms. What I think really separates the Realms in 5th edition is the notion of Factions, in addition to the Backgrounds. Are you a Harper? an agent of the Zhentarim? etc. Since 5th edition, D&D has taken a RTD approach to adventures presenting entire campaigns or adventure anathologies, each introducing a theme, facet, or setting. Hoard of the Dragon Queen/Tyranny of Dragons focuses on Dragons, Wild Beyon the Witchlight, the Feywild, Descent into Avernus, the Hells, etc and each campaign set in the Realms there are hooks and side quests that might appeal or draw in individuals from different factions. The railroading is also not present as a level 1-12 or 1-15 campaign gives a lot of room to play with and let your characters meander. Tomb of Annihilation is a good example. While there is an overarching goal and plot, there is an entire continent to explore with a large city, several outposts, etc.

  4. I was introduced to D&D when I was 8 or 9 years old with Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, but my first real experience with the Forgotten Realms was many years later through the Baldur’s Gate series of video games. I’ve only recently started reading the novels, beginning with The Moonshae Trilogy and The Icewind Dale Trilogy. As a Tolkien fan, I like the lived in feel of the Forgotten Realms, but actually find Eberron to be a more interesting campaign setting.

    I’ve played adventures set in the Realms on two occasions. First, I tried playing through Dragon of Icespire Peak (an introductory adventure similar to Lost Mine of Phandelver) with my daughter about a year ago, but such a long adventure (it goes from 1st to 6th level) was a bit too much for her, and we didn’t make it past the first session. My second visit to the Realms was just last week. My daughter started watching a D&D campaign on YouTube, and that inspired her to play again. This time, I found a D&D Adventurers League adventure, Defiance in Phlan, for us to play. Since these adventures are designed with convention play in mind, they are relatively short and easy to digest. The highlight of the session was when her character decapitated the bugbear boss with her sickle. I couldn’t be more proud of her.

    Finally, I enjoyed the shout out to Joe Dever’s Lone Wolf series. The Lone Wolf books were my lifeline back in the day, when I couldn’t find friends to play a table top RPG with. FYI, Dever made his gamebooks available for free online through the Project Aon site (https://projectaon.org). I recently started a replay of the series, and I’m loving it.

    Thanks for another excellent episode.

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