Ed Greenwood

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Dare you step into his magical realm?

Ed Greenwood is a Canadian fantasy writer and librarian and a pretty cool guy. He's most famous for creating the Forgotten Realms setting for D&D, which as of 5e is seen as the default campaign world. He apparently sold the setting to TSR for a token fee in the 80s - which has got to sting now that toy-and-game goliath Hasbro are rinsing it for all its worth, and other authors are churning out books in the setting that are way more popular than his own.

But he still got the last laugh, as the contract Hasbro has with him is heavily stacked in his favor:

  • Wizards MUST publish a minimum of one full-length novel written by him each year.
  • Wizards MUST publish a minimum of one full-length sourcebook on FR by him (or with significant contributions by him) each year.
  • Wizards MUST at least consult him about changes they make (though they don't have to listen to him, merely take his advice into account), which in practice means nothing in the setting changes without him personally approving of it.
  • Wizards MUST treat everything he reveals about the Realms in writing to fans as canon. He has a thread on the Candlekeep.com website where unpublished stuff by him can see the light of day, and it's all automatically canon regardless of how stupid or fucked up it is. Auto-canonicity doesn't apply to things he just mentions at a convention to a fan or the like, however; it must be something that already exists in his notes. (This isn't actually a problem for Ed, as he apparently has a basement full of unpublished notes - one author remarked in a novel that when she asked him for a brief set of notes on the War Wizards of Cormyr, he obliged by cutting down the stuff he had on them... to FORTY-NINE A4 PAGES.)
  • If he submits something for publishing to Wizards, he can't subsequently reveal it to fans anyway, because a Non-Disclosure Agreement is put in place. However, they can't just NDA everything - they have to ask him to submit his notes on something first.
  • If Hasbro tries to go back on any of the above, Ed gets full control of all Forgotten Realms material.

He's written a shit-ton of books, often involving his self-insert not-Gandalf called Elminster. In recent years, he had even gone to Kickstarter (with several others), translating a Brazilian campaign setting known as Tanares, amassing over $2,000,000 dollars in the progress.

So, he's a pretty cool guy. Right?

Before we answer that, let's address the elephant in the room; he runs shit with his dick out. See, Ed quite explicitly runs his canon with its pants down, and quite a bit of stuff about how common incest, brothels and public sex are have worked their way into his Candlekeep notes (and his official FR games) over the years. Most of it is quite harmless, even shocking fun, but he plumbs depths that WotC wouldn't be caught dead committing to paper. Also, his aforementioned self-insert is so oversexed, he makes Hugh Hefner and Tony Stark look chaste. On another note, in the past Ed was a power-trip of a DM whose John-Wickian desire to stymie the players led to sacrificing appealing to them for his own enjoyment. You built a thief? Congratulations, the traps are actually undetectable and you bypass rolling for Detect Traps. Scouting ahead? You get ambushed, no throw against it. Have a caster? Alchemical smoke renders your spells useless.

So is that a problem? No! Not at all, because Ed is actually the pretty cool guy we mentioned above, and he never puts his fetish shit in his games (which certain other publishers could learn from), keeping it in the background or his personal archives. He even contacts up-and-coming DMs and gives them advice, has personally read and endorsed new FR content by wannabe authors on Dungeon Masters Guild, and even wrote the foreword for Zack Sporen's alternate intro scenario for Dragon Heist despite not getting a penny for it. He also trolled WotC hardcore during the height of Pathfinder's craze by writing a novel set in their default world.

One thing that may either add to or detract from his coolness, depending on your feelings: he spoke quite vehemently against the inclusion of Ethnic Fantasy subsettings Maztica, Kara-tur and The Horde into the Forgotten Realms, arguing that they were too focused on realism to be enjoyable and meshed poorly with the overall blatantly Heroic Fantasy nature of the Realms. Having read the Maztica material of the time, our consensus is... based.