I remember the day the very first Forgotten Realms boxed reference set was released. It included not just game materials, but a really awesome map and a bit of background information to start your own campaigns. But never in a hundred years did I think I would ever see such an in depth look as Ed Greenwood Presents Elminster’s Forgotten Realms. It really is a masterpiece of Ed Greenwood‘s imagination.
Taken from Greenwood’s original notes from the late sixties, the Forgotten Realms were adapted in the seventies for game play with the original Dungeons & Dragons and finalized in the eighties for release with the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons game books. By far the most popular and well known of all the official settings, the Realms are packed with well developed and powerful non-player characters (known as NPCs). This tome gives us a plethora of formerly unknown information, thereby not just amplifying our collective knowledge of Faerun but also expanding the possibilities in a campaign setting.
And when I say it is full of information, I’m not kidding. This book includes everything from typical foods to economics to everyday entertainments. Covering specifics such as how to become a noble at court and individual alliances between kingdoms, it also speaks to the more mundane things like education, local judiciary systems, and clothing differences by area. There really is something here for everybody. Whether you are running a campaign in this setting or just want more reference material while reading the scores of novels set there, this is the most comprehensive compendium I have seen on the subject.
I wish I could detail every section of this book, but to do so would take far more time than if I just tell you it’s more than worth the price. Never before have I seen a section in a D&D reference book that described the variety of woods, children’s toys or types of rope and chain available. If you use the Forgotten Realms as a game setting or even just plan on writing a story or two based on it, this is the epitome of Faerunian information. My favorite parts are the scribblings of Greenwood from his original notes, it’s amazing to see how far this world has come in the past four decades since he first imagined it. It’s really grown since I first discovered it twenty-five years ago, to be honest.
I really urge you to pick this up. As I said before, it’s the ultimate reference piece for the Realms and one that I think could be a crucial piece to any dungeon master. Though I seldom play any longer, I love this book for the detailed look into this long lasting world. I hope you find it as appealing as I do. And to end this review, I quote Elminster: “Behold the Realms, from its lightless nether depths to the stars that twinkle down upon it. Make it thine.”
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