Category Archives: 50th Anniversary

In honor of the Realms 50th Anniversary, we’ll be releasing 50 columns penned by Ed Greenwood, the Archmage himself. Picture a den in suburban Don Mills—a dimly lit and cozy wood-paneled room dominated by books. Oh, there’s a sofabed under the window, an upright piano with old wooden mantel radios and hundreds of record albums […]

In honor of the Realms 50th Anniversary, we’ll be releasing 50 columns penned by Ed Greenwood, the Archmage himself. Take Shakespeare’s aging, overweight ne’er-do-well rogue of an old swindler, Falstaff, add a dash of Guy Gilpatrick’s hard-drinking seagoing engineer Glencannon and the merest whiff of Poul Anderson’s wily spacefaring trader Nicholas van Rijn, and you […]

In honor of the Realms 50th Anniversary, we’ll be releasing 50 columns penned by Ed Greenwood, the Archmage himself. Almost two decades ago, as I pen this, something that had developed unofficially—regarding a certain whimsical old wizard of hidden depths hight Elminster—became official policy at TSR, Inc, then the publisher of the Forgotten Realms® line […]

A perennial question posed to me is why the name “Forgotten Realms”? Did it come from some clever brand manager at TSR, or—? The short answer to the second question is: no, it came from me. There were no such things as “brand managers” fifty years ago; the word “brand” didn’t yet have the connotation […]

The very first Realms short story—as opposed to just a Mirt story—has been given away in chapbook form (photocopied, folded, and stapled by me) and given away at a Milwaukee-era GenCon, with the full approval of TSR. We often tried to give fans some “neat little lore keepsake” at the annual GenCon conventions, “just because.” […]

The Seven Sisters had first glimmered into life in the late spring or early summer of 1966, in a remembered-dream-vision (or vivid daydream scene) I wrote down, of a silver-haired woman harping alone at a fireside by night, in snow-shrouded forest wilds somewhere, with wolves watching from the darkness of the trees—and her harping draws […]

Down the years, several editors and fellow Realms designers and fiction writers, not to mention fans, have pointed out to me that they can “feel there’s something special, something that matters,” but that hasn’t been explicitly spelled out in print anywhere, about the characters of Mirt and Durnan, and their relationship. So let me shine […]

The first city of the Realms I felt I just had to revisit, and therefore see more of than just some dangerous dark alleys and seedy rooms nigh the reek of dockside, was the great port of Waterdeep. The largest, busiest, most varied and tolerant crossroads city of the Sword Coast, and therefore large enough […]

When I first thought of Cormyr, I was, yes, thinking of King Arthur. Not in specific detail—not Round Table or Excalibur or the Grail or any of that—but I wanted a place in the Realms where the “shining knights in armor” came from, and called home, and were the accepted heart and soul of. Not […]

If Cormyr is a distant echo of King Arthur, then the Dales are the Realm’s evocation of Robin Hood’s Sherwood Forest. A vast, deep, wild wood roamed by monsters and only gingerly intruded upon by woodcutters thanks to the elves whose traditional home this was, and who don’t take kindly to fires and large-scale clearances […]

It’s no secret to any of my players, nor to most of my readers, that I love intrigue. Of two sorts: the scheming and manipulation that happens in front of our eyes, in the here and now (and encourages delicious speculation as to what will happen in the future—of the sort currently indulged in by, […]

One of the things that fascinates humans is power, another is evil, and a third is mystery or secrecy—and strong villains who like to largely remain in the background and work from those shadows combine all three. The Realms has many lurking villains, but of course the best of them are those who manage to […]

Back in the early days of roleplaying games, the once-prominent company named Judges Guild put out at least one book of mapped imaginary islands for Dungeon Masters® to use. Although I never made use of it, because drawing maps is just plain fun for me, I readily saw that one could take various published adventures […]

In the long-running “home” Realms campaign, the Knights of Myth Drannor PC adventuring band took their name (replacing the name they chose at their founding, the Swords of Eveningstar; though the original characters hailed from Espar, they first achieved success as treasure-seeking, freely-venue-choosing adventurers in the Haunted Halls of Eveningstar, and celebrated that by dubbing […]

On one of the western edges of the continent of Faerûn in the Forgotten Realms® (more specifically, a roughly rectangular swath of land lying along the southern shore of the Lake of Steam and occupying the northernmost eastern shores of the Shining Sea) is a hilly, well-watered, largely forested region known as the Border Kingdoms. […]

One of the great “untold tales” of the Realms is the mainly hidden, largely confused (one of my players teasingly referred to it as an “ongoing debacle”) matter of my trying to accommodate (same player’s term: “shoehorn”) all of the various sentient races in the D&D® game into the Realms, without having them, logically, dominating […]

The theme of our annual “Candlekeep” GenCon get-together this year is Women Of the Realms, the talented writers, editors, and designers who have contributed so much to the setting and happen to be female, but that’s not what I’m burbling about right here and now. Rather, I’m talking about females in the Realms—the roles and […]

Lords Valiant And Dastardly: A Backcountry Minor Noble House Of Cormyr Here are some notes to myself from September of 1969: “Detail a small and simple family; their holdings, their interests, why they might hire adventures, how they might come into conflict with adventurers, their main feuds, who their allies are at court, how they’re […]

You might well think that, after so many game sourcebooks, boxed sets, novels, short stories, and adventures set in, or passing through, the City of Splendors, that pretty much every facet of life in the Deep has been covered. Far from it. You may hold the opinion that we entered exhaustive overkill territory years and […]

In the published Realms today, particularly if you participate in organized play at conventions or hobby shops, you will encounter “factions” such as the Harpers and the Zhentarim. The Harpers and the Zhents first appeared in my fledgling Realms tales back in the 1960s (yes, before anyone had thought of a game called Dungeons & […]

An apt subtitle for this column would be “How Their Thirst For Detail and Rounded Lives for their PCs gave us the detailed Forgotten Realms.” Because, you see, it did. As it happens, I love worldbuilding, and my players love feeling immersed in a setting rich and deep enough that they can with ease pretend […]

Roleplaying games have a built-in potential difficulty: there are differences between what a character in a game knows about the setting around them (notably, specific details of spells, magic items, and monsters) and what the player portraying that character knows, often from perusing rulebooks, articles about gaming, or published adventures. I say “potential” because the […]

Thanks to a mysterious “Citadel of the Mists” map notation on some Realms maps that show The High Forest (for those unfamiliar, that’s a big wood that fills the heart of the northerly Sword Coast lands; if the Citadel is shown, you’ll find it near the forest’s upper or northern edge, east of center), many […]

In an earlier column, I mentioned that I called small, informal groups of merchants, mages, or shippers (both caravan masters and seacaptains) covertly working together “cabals.” (As opposed to overt, public groupings, which were guilds, orders, and costers, respectively.) That column was about “power groups”—farflung, numerous, and powerful organizations (now, in the 5th edition of […]

Early on in my D&D days (the latter half of 1978, for those keeping score), I was introducing some of my female school friends (fellow high school students) to roleplaying in the Realms. One consistently, her best friend fairly often, and another friend occasionally—so, one to three PCs, one constantly active and the others less […]