The Saving Throw
Dungeons and Dragons, 4th Edition ~ Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide 05.15.2009
Saving Throw's review of the Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide

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Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide
published by Wizards of the Coast reviewed by Martin Drury
288 pages, 2008, $39.95
Content 4.5
Organization 4
Consistency 4.5
Intelligibility 4.5
Review Scoring

   With the Forgotten Realms being perhaps the most well known and popular of the official Dungeons & Dragons campaign settings, it was only natural that the setting would be the first to receive a 4th Edition upgrade. Everything in the Realms has been re-imagined with this 4th Edition transitionand since 100 years having passed in the game world the designers have the opportunity to change anything and everything they wanted to change. For better or worse, that is just what the authors have used the transition to accomplish.

The new Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide starts off with the town of Loudwater, a short adventure setting, to welcome new and old players alike into the revised world. For a Game Master looking to provide a quick entry point into the new Forgotten Realms setting for his players, this chapter makes that task relatively easy. The next two chapters cover adventuring in the Realms and the changes wrought to the world when the Spellplague ripped Faerún apart and returned parts of Abeir to Faerún.

The fourth and fifth chapters cover changes to the cosmology and pantheon of the Forgotten Realms. Many gods have died or disappeared from the pantheon altogether, so these chapters fill in a lot of the gaps and go a long way in explaining changes that have occured in the divine realms.

The vast majority of the campaign guide is occupied by chapter six, which details changes to various kingdoms and regions in Faerún, the Underdark, and Returned Abeir. Kingdoms rose and fell with the Spellplague, and landmasses were vastly rearranged. With 4th Edition's re-envisioning of the kingdoms, cities, and towns of Dungeons & Dragons as points of light in worlds of darkness, this chapter is essential to detailing the new face of the Forgotten Realms. Game Masters will refer to this chapter frequently in identifying how allies, alliances, and enemies have fared in the intervening century.

Rounding out the campaign Guide, the final chapter details the major threats in the Forgotten Realms, both old and new. After the previous chapter, this one is the chapter that Game Masters will probably reference the second most frequently. With seventeen major threats detailed, the Game Master can use this chapter to keep the players on their toes for numerous adventures and campaigns.

With the 4th Edition, the authors have taken an opportunity to completely overhaul a game world and make wholesale changes, both to improve aspects of the world and to eliminate potentially troublesome mistakes from the past. The Realms are still as mysterious as they were in previous editions, and perhaps more dangerous for player characters. With a slate wiped mostly clean by the Spellplague, there are numerous new adventures and stories to be lived and written by a new age of heroes.

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