Forgotten Realms is an official Dungeons and Dragons campaign setting created by Ed Greenwood circa 1967 for his little stories, but was not part of the official Wizards of the Coast lineup until 1987 and has since been supported by WotC through all five editions of the game. The setting is supported by hundreds of novels' worth of lore by dozens of authors. It is also completely and utterly fucking overused, there is not one square inch of Faerûn that has not had a dead forest's worth of material written about it.
Set on the planet Abeir-Toril, most of the Forgotten Realms source material focuses on the continent Faerûn. Faerûn is pretty similar to pre-industrial Europe, with the exceptions of all of that crazy fantasy stuff. There is a plethora of nations, kingdoms, organizations, deities, and fully fleshed out NPCs who are ripe with political intrigue and conflict. There is absolutely nothing on Toril that has not been fully fleshed out, so there is very, very little room for your own stuff. All this shit however, was fucked up by 4e's Faerun, which is widely regarded as a disaster and a blatant attempt to force 4e's core cosmology onto Faerun for the crime of being too much like 3.5e's core setting; Greyhawk.
The setting's planet is commonly referred to as Toril, because that is the name of the planet that the setting resides on. In 4e, it was revealed that the reason it's full name was Abeir-Toril was because it had a twin from whom it was separated at birth, called Abeir, which was the home of the new 4e races. In actuality, it was named Abeir-Toril so that it would be the first entry in the setting encyclopedia.
Medieval/Renaissance Europe/Near East/Africa. The setting of the vast majority of D&D stories, including those of a certain dark elf. This setting provided inspiration for most of the 3e splatbooks.
Home to the Dragonborn and primordial elementals, as well as all the new sub-giant races and whatever else was introduced in 4e. Ruled over by evil draconic overlords, barring a few kingdoms founded by rebellious giants and humans. Oh, and some weird undead empire that has magical undead-only portals connecting to all graveyards and mausoleums and crypts on Toril, which they claim as their territory.
Ancient China/Japan/India. Updated for 3e with the Book of Weeaboo Fightan Magic and Oriental Adventures, but never updated for 4e as a setting. Little bits of it was included in Dragon for 4e, covering Samurai and Ninja and horde themes as well as new monk stuff.
Pre-Columbian South/Central America, the subject of the eponymous splatbook for AD&D. Was not updated for 3rd Edition, but skipped a generation and got an update for 4th Edition. In the form of being replaced by the continent of Abeir and having everything about it shunted into another universe. Wasn't in 3e either so fuck them.
Ao creates the twin sister deities Shar and Selûne. Shar is evil and Selûne isn't. So naturally they hate each other. They swirl around in the void that is Realmspace for gods know how long until they accidentally create Toril and create a couple of gods, mainly Chauntea and Mystryl. The latter going on to die several times and become Mystra. Things just got out of hand after that and next thing you know, you've got your campaign setting.
In -339 DR an archwizard named Karsus attempts to save the Netheril Empire by making the only 12th level spell in existence. The spell robs Mystryl of her powers and magic is for a short time really awesome, but then just goes wild. In short Karsus ruined everything for everybody on that day. Lucky Mystryl was there to sacrifice herself and put all of her powers into a young female wizard and rose again as Mystra. Marking the first in the goddess's long line of deaths and rebirths. This sparked all the shit that went down in the game Neverwinter Nights 2.
Times of Troubles
The Times of Troubles, also known as the Avatar Crisis, started in 1358 DR when the two deities Bane and Myrkul thought it would be a great idea to steal the Tablets of Fate from the overdeity Ao. As punishment Ao banishes all of the gods to walk on Toril as mortals(except for Helm who was to guard the gateway back into the heavens) until whoever stole them felt bad and returned them. During this time Mystra got some of her power back and thought it would be a brilliant idea to challenge Helm to get back into the heavens. Helm wouldn't have any of it and and bitch slapped her down the Celestial Stairway. She hit the bottom and died in an explosion of magic. Eventually some mortals, Midnight (who went on to be the next Mystra), Kelemvor, Cyric, and Adon of Sune, fixed everything and they got be gods for a reward. Except for Adon of Sune, he really got the short end of the stick on the loot table for that encounter. He lost faith in Mystra, committed suicide, then got his faith back and went on to frolic in the brothel in the sky.
In 1385 DR the goddess Shar had the god Cyric stab the goddess of magic Mystra. This caused giant pillars of blue fire to ravage Toril, killing untold masses and driving most wizards to madness. One of the few wizards to be unaffected by the event is Szass Tam, who continues to be a badass. To make matters worse, unlike the previous times Mystra has died she couldn't reincarnate, a stunning development that "changes the rules of magic" mainly to try and justify why the spellcasting system is different in 4e. Instead of The Weave magic works on this lame Arcane Power Source. Oh and the setting jumps ahead 100 years and everything has gone to hell. And by hell, we mean the shameful pit of shitty retcons and shoving other cosmologies down the throats of established settings. Seriously, anyone can tell that the changes made to Faerun's settings were done so that it would be just like the core setting; I.E shitty and boring.
After four and a half years, it was finally realized that the Forgotten Realms had been fucked to the point that all of the fans now hated the setting. The setting was jumped ahead another 10 years and made the core setting of the game. It turns out being stabbed wasn't in fact enough to kill Mystra, she was just hungry and had wandered off to find a cheeseburger made of her own children. Abeir went back to where it belonged (non-existence) and several other dead gods who were deemed superfluous suddenly came back to life. Basically, The Spellplague was retconned.
This event was known as the 'Sundering' but the writers didn't want to piss off the fans, so they held off explaining what the fuck happened until the fans could tell them what, in their opinion, should have happened. While waiting to be told how to do their jobs, dragons attacked everyone, trying to rescue Tiamat from Hell where she had in fact NOT been since before the Spellplague but because she was there in every other setting, we're all supposed to pretend that she was, so mighty adventurers can stop her from escaping in a linear story.
From there, various other intersecting adventure modules happened at roughly the same time, and since things were mostly back to the pre-4e days everyone was happy. Except dragonborn fans (and dragonborn, whatever you think of them, are still a damn core race), as the writers quickly killed almost all of them off, crammed them into a tiny reservation, and have yet to make a single dragonborn NPC for any adventure module yet released, just to rub salt in the wound.
Interesting Side Notes
- Drizzt will outlive all of his friends and he cries about this often until they fixed it.
- Elminster has sex with Elvira who is polymorphed into a man.
- Szass Tam, that's all.
- Tempus, the badass bro jock god of battle.
- The world goes to hell in the 4th edition.
- After apparently being killed by one of his only friends, the god Helm survived the Spellplague in the form of a goat.
- The first 3-D CRPG was set in FR.
- Jarlaxle the dashing drow mercenary had a three way with twin bronze dragon sisters named Tazmikella and Ilnezhra
|Dungeons & Dragons Campaign Settings|
|Basic D&D:||Mystara (Blackmoor - Hollow World) - Pelinore|
|AD&D:||Birthright - Council of Wyrms - Dark Sun - Dragonlance |
Forgotten Realms (Al-Qadim - The Horde - Kara-Tur - Maztica)
Greyhawk - Mystara (Red Steel) - Planescape - Ravenloft - Spelljammer
|3rd/3.5 Edition:||Blackmoor - Dragonlance - Eberron - Forgotten Realms - Ghostwalk - Greyhawk - Ravenloft|
|4th Edition:||Blackmoor - Dark Sun - Eberron - Forgotten Realms - Nentir Vale|
|5th Edition:||Dragonlance - Eberron - Forgotten Realms - Greyhawk - Nentir Vale - Ravenloft|