For years, we made fun of the Forgotten Realms‘ overpowered completeness. We bled grey, and the World of Greyhawk is where our heroes lived, died, and lived again. Flash forward to our own Middle Ages, and we’re actually adventuring in the Realms … and enjoying it.
Our current Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition campaign is set in the Amn region of the Forgotten Realms, near the Giant’s Plains. It’s designed around a series of small, one-shot dungeon delves and adventurers, though in recent months the story’s shifted as we returned back to the city. Upon arrival, we discovered that Pheldarius, the scholar whom we’ve been working, was actually dead. Someone else had been impersonating him for the last year … someone interested in extraplaner summoning.
After much investigation, confronting the false Pheldarius’s minions, and facing the man himself, we learned the being we knew as Pheldarius was actually am arcanaloth, a kind of fiend known as a yugoloth.
I’m playing Kne Godfinder, a male gnome and pantheon cleric who worships whomever can help him in a given situation. He’s a university dropout obsessed with finding lost knowledge, lost gods, and the occasional secret that sentients weren’t meant to know. I wrote about him as part of RPG a Day 2022:
- Who is your current character?
- What situation is your character currently in?
- When did you start playing this character?
- Where has that character been?
Other characters in the campaign include:
- ThimbleThorn – A male halfling fighter/wizard who’s proud of his dwarven ancestry.
- Xyrfine – A male half-elf of the roguish profession.
- Figgus – A male gnome wizard who, unlike Kne, finished his education.
The campaign’s been running since January 2021, and during that time we’ve accumulated a great many secrets about the Giant’s Plains and evidence of a growing extraplaner threat. In other campaigns, we might have held that information close to our chests, for fear of alerting our enemies as we move to thwart their plans.
Not this campaign! ThimbleThorn’s approach to secrets is to share them with everyone. The rest of the us latched on to this, and now whenever we talk with people – allies, enemies, town officials, shop keepers, etc. – we just let them know everything we know and intend to do.
It seems to be working; we haven’t gotten killed. At least, not yet.
As for the Forgotten Realms, it’s suiting us. When we were in our diehard Greyhawk days, the Realms was exceedingly popular and known for its overpowered PCs and exhaustingly detailed campaign setting. It’s seen dozens (hundreds?) of sourcebooks published for it, and probably as many novels. Playing with people who love the minutia of the Realms can be exhausting in the same way as the people who love the minutia of Star Wars; it can feel like you can’t take a step without breaking some sort of canonical fact.
With Chroniclers, we’re not taking ourselves or the setting that seriously. It helps that we’re tucked away in Amn and the Giant’s Plains, away from the main storylines and fiction of the Realms (at least, as far as I’m aware). We also have the benefit of a few decades of exposure to the Realms to acclimate to the place, largely through video games like Baldur’s Gate and its sequels, Neverwinter Nights, and Icewind Dale. All in all, it’s been a fun campaign, and as we reach Level 8, we’re having fun going up against the nefarious Pheldarius.