Monday, June 18, 2012

Where to start a campaign in the Forgotten Realms?

It has been fairly quiet around here a while now. I have been playing some D&D 3rd ed. but it is summertime and the regular slow down when everyone is on vacation this or that week until September.

Like I wrote before, I have been reading DragonQuest and different Forgotten Realms source books, and nurturing some hope of combining the two. Today's question is where to place the "home base" and centre of adventures? I'm going to think out loud somewhat.

Ed Greenwood detail the Dalelands in the grey boxed set, and it's clear that that area and the kingdom of Cormyr is where his players spent a lot of the early years. I have the module FRQ1 Haunted Halls of Eveningstar, which is situated in Cormyr, but suitably close to the "wilderlands" and the "borderlands" or high adventure. Sure sounds like a nice place to start off, eh?

One good thing with Eveningstar is that there are enough NPC detailed for them to be fun to interact with without being drowned in them. Also, the average level is actually around 5-ish and that makes them "within reach" so to speak. Secondly, there's a dungeon near, and a small keep with traps and some badlands with monsters. A little bit of everything, wilderness, "city" and dungeon.

The Dalelands then. There are lots of people to interact with in Shadowdale, but maybe a little too many. In the grey box there's a census report of every stead and its inhabitants! I'm vary of trying to fit a bunch of PC in there. Maybe it can be used as a blue print for another similar dale, but frankly I am a bit confused. What did TSR think you would use all that data for? The good thing is there are some small hills with nasty rumours, some holes in the ground and some intrigue. I'm not sure about the Dalelands, though. It feels like Harn in a way, and for me that is not positive. Who's pig is that again? How many silver does a farm hand need to be paid per fortnight? Anyone?

The third alternative is the city of Waterdeep. Now, that would mean no wilderness adventure, and the dungeons would in all likelihood mean Undermountain. That sound kind of intriguing. The myriad of NPCs is another thing to think about. How many movers and shakes do I want to juggle? A quick sum shows that interestingly enough, the average level of the named personalities of Waterdeep is actually just 6.5! Considering FR has a reputation of NPC demigods that is very interesting! I foresee many opportunities for players to make a difference in a not too distant future with that kind of competition. Suddenly Waterdeep looks like it just passed the Dalelands in my personal list of starting locales. There's enough going on, and you could easily find work both honest and more shady. Eveningstar is slighly smaller and manageable, though.

I'd love to hear if anyone has any experiences to share. The feel I got from the grey box of something like the Old West, with an interesting dichotomy between the wild and the civilized intrigue me, and I'm still pondering how to emphasize that, in whatever local I choose as a starting point.


  1. Being a HUGE fan of the Forgotten Realms, in truth, either location works out well. Though, with the Sword Coast readily available near Waterdeep, you can still get plenty of away-from-civilization adventures in.

    Depending on where you choose to start, I would recommend some good books if you can find them (Assuming you do not already own them:

    Volo's Guide to the Dalelands
    Volo's Guide to Waterdeep
    Volo's Guide to the Sword Coast
    The City of Splendors Box Set.

    Yeah, they're 2e products, but they have some good source material.

  2. I've always wanted to run a game in Forgotten Realms, but it always seemed like there wasn't room for new adventures there. There is so much story there already, how do you justify having someone approach 1st level characters for work when friggin' Drizzt is hanging out around the corner? I loved the novels, and devoured most of them over the years. But Faerun seems so crowded with epic level heroes, I just have a hard time seeing any of my own stories fitting in there. I look forward to hearing about how you do!

  3. GeekBob,

    I have lost some of my fascination with the Sword Coast, but Waterdeep is intriguing. I might want to take a peek at that guide to the Dalelands, maybe getting a better grasp of what can be done there. Thanks!

  4. purestrainhuman,

    I see what you mean. It's also one of my foremost concerns. Watch this space for the next post.

    I'm right now looking into those "other" guys running around.


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