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5.0 out of 5 stars Good source book
Good content, good layout, good aesthetics. This together with the Forgotten Realms Players Guide will give you everything you need to create characters and run campaigns in this setting.
Published 6 months ago by Marton

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44 of 47 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A decrease in depth and coherence
First off: this is not the worst RPG product I have ever seen. (I think that anyone who has won a prize at a gaming convention, where prizes are usually cast-offs - I mean, *donations!* - from the sellers' boothes, will agree. I think I've only ever used one supplement I acquired in this way.) However, now that this declaration is out of the way, I must say: even though...
Published on 27 Aug 2008 by Siobhan Mooney


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44 of 47 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A decrease in depth and coherence, 27 Aug 2008
This review is from: Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide (Dungeons & Dragons) (Hardcover)
First off: this is not the worst RPG product I have ever seen. (I think that anyone who has won a prize at a gaming convention, where prizes are usually cast-offs - I mean, *donations!* - from the sellers' boothes, will agree. I think I've only ever used one supplement I acquired in this way.) However, now that this declaration is out of the way, I must say: even though worse RPG books exist, this one deserves a low rating because it is such a downgrade compared to the previous book that described the Forgotten Realms campaign setting.

This 4th version of the setting is intended to get rid of a number of qualities that supposedly deterred people from roleplaying in the Forgotten Realms previously: too many gods, too many high-level NPCs, too many different cultures and nations, too much accrued lore. Apparently the history of the Realms and its various personalities were problems rather than assets. Thus, the changes between the previous edition and this edition were intended to make it attractive for a new audience.

Well, unfortunately, I don't think it has succeeded. It can't please old fans, because it has destroyed so much that was characteristic of the Realms. But I don't think it can please new ones either, because it spends so much time saying "such-and-such was like this before, but now it's like this." It doesn't always explain the significance of the changes, though - so new readers are left scratching their heads wondering why the devs bothered mentioning the fact that things used to be different at all. For instance: the attempt to copy Eberron with the "10 things you need to know about the Realms" doesn't actually succeed in copying it well, because half of them seem to be more concerned with telling old fans that things aren't the same as they used to be, rather than encapsulating what the setting is *now*. (Incidentally, the magical catastrophe of the Spellplague and the resulting plague areas and spellscars are obviously rip-offs of Eberron's Day of Mourning, Mournland, and dragonmarks, respectively. But we already have one Eberron - and a darned good setting it is too. Why try to make FR into a weak copy?) In other cases, though, when some references to changes from the old situation might prove an interesting read for everyone (e.g. a description of whatever it was that led to the current religious situation, where it's no longer necessary to worship gods and the Wall of the Faithless is gone), there is not even the slightest bit of explanation. It's almost as if explanations were made in none of the cases where they should have been and in all of the cases when they shouldn't have been.

Anyway, the chapters proper start off with a look at the town of Loudwater. This town was chosen to be a close-up example and a base for a number of possible adventures, but it is difficult to muster any enthusiasm about it whatsoever - it's just that boring and generic. Also, the fact that this section and the various possible adventures are put first in the book, before almost anything else about the setting is explained, will no doubt be confusing to those approaching the setting for the first time.

By and large, the book tends towards vagueness and blandness. There are a few nice exceptions (such as the table of art-type treasure), and it's difficult to go too wrong with some of the iconic areas like Rasheman and Cormyr... However, I found myself wondering why some of the gods were in the book at all - and, considering that the devs killed off quite a lot of the old ones or amalgamated them into other ones, that's saying something. In terms of the gods that the devs didn't cull, some of the choices are quite baffling. The drow deity of oozes is now a greater god in the main pantheon? Tyr, Mask, and Mystra (gods of paladins, thieves, and magicians, respectively) are gone - but minor halfling goddess of beauty Sheela Peryroyl is now a standard god? This problem with the gods carries through to nations and geography as well: nearly all of the new countries are less interesting, rich, and uniquely Realmsian than those they replaced. Where, exactly, was the central vision when this book was being put together? Finally, although the page count of the FRCG is not a huge amount smaller than the 3e FRCS, the print size is so much bigger that it really has much, much, much less content in it by far than its predecessor.

There is so much more I would like to write about, but it would be too long for an Amazon review. Suffice it to say: while there is an amount of good work in this book, it is so poor by comparison to the third edition version of the campaign setting that I cannot but give it one star. If you want to play 4e D&D in the Forgotten Realms, my personal advice is that you pick up a copy of the 3e FRCS and work out your own adaptation of 4e magic (and the rest) to the campaign setting. It could scarcely make less sense than the one published here, so what do you have to lose?
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Drab, dreary details, 30 Aug 2008
This review is from: Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide (Dungeons & Dragons) (Hardcover)
Firstly, it's worth pointing out that this is not a rulebook. That may be obvious to some, but I expected something with a few new races, some class-specific traits, new spells, that kind of thing. This is just background to the Realms. I assume -but can't say for sure- that Forgotten Realms Player's Guide (Forgotten Realms Supplement) (Dungeons & Dragons) (Dungeons & Dragons) will be more what I'm looking for, and the fact that WotC have split this into two books is a source of some irritation to me.

I agree with the other reviewers that this is just a wall of bland data. It puts me in mind of the First Edition FR Campaign Guide in terms of sheer volume of endless words; but that was clearly written entirely by people (Greenwood et al, but different et al) who had played in that world and loved it. Their passion for the mythos was there in every word. This just reads like some hack with a deadline and a wordcount to meet sat, wrote ten pages of worthwhile stuff, cut and pasted other peoples ideas to fill in the cracks, then filled the rest with whatever came to mind while they were drunk watching Krull.

And it's a real shame. Because the idea of 4th Ed was that it was supposed to be simple building blocks that even the most ADHD ridden kid could pick up and play like they'd pick up their PS3 controller. I love rules, but I also quite liked that idea, because I'm 31 and don't have time to read endless pages of unbroken paragraphs about the number of available toilets in the town of GenericFantasySettlement45-D. This is not written in a way you can just dip into it.

In short this book has too much of the wrong kind of information, and is appallingly presented in terms of accessibility.

So why two stars after all the spleen venting? Because those ten pages of worthwhile stuff are there, as are other people's ideas, and someone has made an effort to make it look pretty pretty. It's just a shame that such a rich campaign setting has been made to look so banal.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Poor Version of the Forgotten Realms, 28 Aug 2008
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This review is from: Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide (Dungeons & Dragons) (Hardcover)
What were they thinking when they released this ? A real shame and I know some will love this book but compared to previous "Core Settings" releases this just not deserve more than two Stars. I agree with the previous reviewer when he said there were worse products out there - and that is why I gave it two rather than one.

Okay - Why ? Well, there IS a lot of info here... BUT too much banal and surface info. The majority of entries for a Country cover two pages and include artwork within those two pages. Most of the info is unimportant to the setting and they should have been given more "meat" rather than a "Starter" & "Dessert".

As an "old timer" I can fill in many of the omissions but for a new DM then the task will seem mountainous.

The Adventures at the start are okay(ish)but again, based on previous releases, they are average and contrived.

I just hope the next few releases are better
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5.0 out of 5 stars Good source book, 8 Jan 2014
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This review is from: Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide (Dungeons & Dragons) (Hardcover)
Good content, good layout, good aesthetics. This together with the Forgotten Realms Players Guide will give you everything you need to create characters and run campaigns in this setting.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great!, 15 May 2013
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This review is from: Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide (Dungeons & Dragons) (Hardcover)
Everything you need to move your players forward into a new world. It has plenty of adventures to start a campaign with and lots and lots of content. Cant wait to get it all read.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great, but not essential for 4E fareun, 30 Aug 2011
By 
James J. Rogers (Hampshire) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide (Dungeons & Dragons) (Hardcover)
I know people have been bashing the 'new' realms but 4E dnd has all of the old realms classic stuff but without the 'drizzt' or 'mystra' metagame that seemed to be evolving from the novels that were being published.

Long story short the godess of magic got killed and there was a bit of an explosion called the 'spellplague'. This created some sort of magical waste-land type areas which are full of bizarre and fantastical things. In addition bits of the earth float so there's floating island called 'earthmotes'

In addition about 50% of the redundant gods and deities have been culled (thank Shar!)

However if this upsets you (and I don't see why - god bloat was annoying...) you can still play fareun just with no earthmotes and no spellplage. Infact I'm currently playing a game where earthmotes are *rare* but it's still prespellplague.

In a way I am glad as 4th edition has broken the 'by the book' mould that made 3E so rigid.

Contents wise : there's a map, lots of useful information. It is by no means essential if you have the old FR settings but I do find it a lot easier to read.
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13 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Direction for an Old Friend, 1 Sep 2008
By 
E. Porter-daniels "Irenicas" (Reading, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide (Dungeons & Dragons) (Hardcover)
The Forgotten Realms has always been a problem to me - inspiring and yet impractical. I loved the feel of the setting, the age of it, the depth, the detail, and yet these were all of its problems too. The feel made it always generic, the age of it made it always hampered by the past, the depth made it a chore to run, and the detail made fans irritating to play with.
Ultimately, personal knowledge shouldn't affect in game knowledge to the degree which it did. A new-coming DM to Toril couldn't effectively run it if there were players in his or her group who loved it - they would spend forever correcting the DM on the authenticity of the setting. It's not that these players were *bad*, just that the setting was so static and so rich and so persuasive that it was hard to escape the idea that it should all be *exactly as written*. Beware the DM who would dare to change anything.
But this was by no means the only issue. Big NPCs dominated Toril. Drizzt and Elminster were more recognisable than the setting as a whole, and the number of awful "cameos" that occured in games was atrocious... as for the novels, the less said the better.
What about the variety of terrain and setting? In theory this was great - you can set your game in almost any surrounding and it'll still be the Forgotten Realms. You want trading cities and costal areas? The Sword Coast. You want exotic locales and organisations? Calisham! You want frozen wastes? The Silver Marches! You want to rip off Lord of the Rings? The Dalelands! So what was the problem with this? Well, ultimately, it was scale. Forgotten Realms worked well with this theory of specific location until you hit about 10th level, when the entire thing fell apart. Soon, reliable and quick long distance transportation was available. The idea of a cohesive world disappears when you can be in desert one minute, and ice fields the next. So how has this changed?

Well, 4th edition includes a lot fewer transport spells, and the folding of teleportation into Rituals (with which you need a "portal key") means that mundane transport is often the way you go first, and then use teleportation when you need to over long distances from set point to set point. Travel thus takes longer, the dramatic differences in setting aren't so obvious, and the world feels a lot more cohesive. The splitting of the game into tiers also helps, as it gives DMs more warning of when to prepare for these changes.

So what does the new setting look like? Well, Mystra is finally dead. FINALLY. I mean, seriously, is this like the fourth time? NEVER BRING HER BACK. The Spellplague changes the layout of the map in a big way, as does the bashing of Abeir into Toril. Hello new races, bye bye old races.

But what's the point of saying this, really? Old fans are going to be angry - "They got rid of gods! They changed the map!" Boo hoo. The setting needed a desperate change - it's been more or less static (on a fundemental level) for years and years. The changes are interesting, smartly done, and the changes to the system make the setting work well. In the end, if you loved Drizzt and co, and hate the idea of not knowing every single event of the setting, then stay away.

For the rest of us, this is an interesting, stunningly beautiful book. The entries are perhaps a little short, but this leaves freedom in the details whilst really giving you a feel for the setting and countries. There are a lot of new monsters, good info on antagonist groups, a lovely poster map, and interesting discussion of the world in general as well as the specific entries. The major criticisms are, perhaps, only that some of the old issues are still there (the odd mix and match of terrain amongst other things), and that occasionally an important piece of information is missing (how big is the population of Waterdeep ay? AY?). Still, an excellent buy.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars i guess a mad cyric was behind this.., 14 Feb 2010
By 
Blom Christoffer (sweden) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide (Dungeons & Dragons) (Hardcover)
it's simple. they pissed on all the fans of FR and theres nothing more to it... there will always be thousands of new young kids out there who are willing to spend their money on these products (or in some cases, their parents money). so what do they care of us old hardcore fan who played and lived in the realms fore y...ears? nothing at all! The real forgotten realms will live on in use pure fans forever!!! i will say this, there isn't any real justification to what they did! i could mentioned a thousands characters they just through away like that.. can't come up with anything that equal this slaughtering of an created "thing" of this major scope! (sorry if my spelling isn't the best, i'm from sweden and my english degrade wasn't the best..)
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2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Abysmal. Don't waste your time - try White Wolf games instead., 24 Sep 2011
By 
Daniel Nunn "Daniel" (Birmingham, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide (Dungeons & Dragons) (Hardcover)
Utterly abysmal. This isn't anything like an improvement to an effective, established and well known brand, but instead a shameless attempt to cash in on an MMO market instead of offering a quality gaming system. The rules are incomplete, and lacking anything like customisation or individuality for players, and to add insult to injury don't even present the full range of core options one place. This all goes hand in hand with the same level of corruption done to classic campaign settings to broaden market appeal with drastic changes rather than admirable improvements.

If you want to player a computer game, go pick one up. If you want to play a roleplaying game, then don't waste your time here - try White Wolf games instead. Scion, World of Darkness or Exalted all do it better and with far less insult to your intelligence.
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2 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well presented and full of ideas, 4 Sep 2008
By 
Mr. C. A. Price "CP" (Northwest UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide (Dungeons & Dragons) (Hardcover)
Simply put, the writers of this volume had the arduous task of trying to keep the existing Realms players happy whilst, at the same time, providing a new and updated Realms for players starting a campaign for the first time (probably on the back of the 4th Edition Rules).

In essence, this product is very good and, having been a DM since the 1980s, this is one of the best campaign guides produced to date. There will be some obvious objections to the new Realms from existing players who are reluctant to change. However, if you don't like the changes then don't worry, the whole purpose of a product like this is to be a guide only, providing the bare bones of a campaign for you to develop yourself, and you are not obliged to blindly follow everything that is written. In other words, if you don't like the changes, stick to what you do like.

As for the rest of us, the guide provides an exciting changed world to explore. Fabulous.
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Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide (Dungeons & Dragons) by Philip Athans (Hardcover - 19 Aug 2008)
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