Wizards of the Coast initiated a reshaping of the Forgotten Realms this past August with a multi-part event they dubbed “The Sundering.” Taking place over the course of six books penned by different scribes, weekly D&D Encounters events, and even mobile gaming for your smartphone or tablet, this storyline will span a full year and cause extensive upheaval in the realms as we know them.
I was fortunate enough to be granted the opportunity to ask a few questions of one of the pivotal authors involved in this undertaking. It pleases me to no end to introduce you to Erin M. Evans, author of many Forgotten Realms books including Book 3 in “The Sundering,” titledThe Adversary.
Without further ado, here we go!
Geeks of Doom: How does it feel to be asked to provide a stepping stone for “The Sundering?” I mean, referencing the fact that there are only six books that are setting this whole change up in the Forgotten Realms and you were asked to write one of them…
Erin M. Evans: Itâ€™s really exciting! Itâ€™s a huge honor to be included in the series with such fantastic and well-respected authors. Plus, itâ€™s gratifying to know that Wizards believes in my stories enough to include me in this project, when Iâ€™m such a relative newcomer.
GoD: What exactly is “The Sundering?” Is this something readers will be able to use to jump on board the Forgotten Realms books?
EME: “The Sundering” is a wide-ranging event that will take the Forgotten Realms into a new eraâ€”an era of revitalization. The novel series shows those changesâ€”wars, gods, huge magical shiftsâ€”through the eyes of people on the ground. And as part of that revitalization, “The Sundering” is meant to be a place where you can enter the Forgotten Realms.
GoD: How much of the plot were you given to work with or were there just key points in the novel that you had to abide by to further the series?
EME: During the initial story summits, certain events and elements were divided up through the series, but the emphasis was always on crafting a good story. If those elements didnâ€™t fit, they werenâ€™t forced to fit. The plot was always up to the individual authorsâ€”but those elements were definitely an inspiration for how to best tell the story.
GoD: As a tester for D&D Next, I am seeing a change in the way we view the various Dungeons & Dragons character classes. How big of an effect will this have on your primary character Farideh? Specifically the powers she was granted/endowed with?
EME: One of the tricks to working on these novels is finding the sweet spot with regard to handling mechanics. I find itâ€™s best to honor the rules but not be a slave to themâ€”there is no way, for example, that a reader wouldnâ€™t be thrown out of the story if I tried to describe Farideh using Infernal Wrath (any of the versions!). Thatâ€™s my goal: tell a great story. While the warlock is changing in some ways, Faridehâ€™s style of pact is still an option in D&D Nextâ€”and while the specific spells may change, the style is the same and those old spells are still right at home in her repertoire (plus, now she might have new options).
GoD: Why did you choose to make the protagonist a warlock? In your writings, what is the primary difference for using those specific powers rather than just a generic mage?
EME: The infernal pact gave me a good way to explore the origins of the tiefling raceâ€”thatâ€™s what initially attracted me to it. In my mind the pact is almost an entity of its own and using it has a much more physical feel than a wizard or a sorcererâ€™s powers. It is literally something Farideh struggles with.
GoD: How large of a part does Lorcan play in this book? How present are the devils (and cambions) in The Sundering? Will it affect realms other than Faerun?
EME: Lorcan has a major role in The Adversary, both in the Nine Hells and out of it. As the â€œlast one inâ€ among the gods, Asmodeus has a lot to loseâ€”or a lot to gainâ€”so the god of sin is definitely a part of the Sundering. But as seen in the rest of the Brimstone Angelsâ€™ series, not all the archdevils want what they say they want.
GoD: Did you make use of any other established characters in the Realms and if so, how strict were the creators of those characters with their use?
EME: Aside from the archdevils (who are largely off-stage presences), not really. There is a character in The Adversaryâ€”Steddâ€”who Richard Lee Byers created for The Reaver, and we had discussions about his presentation to make sure he matched from one book to the next. There is also a character, a Harper agent, who is the descendent of an old Waterdhavian noble familyâ€”although the family makeup has changed since pre-Spellplague times. In that case, I had a concept in mind and went to Ed Greenwood to figure out where he best fitâ€”and so Lord Vescaras Ammakyl was born.
GoD: What changes do you expect the new D&D Next to have on the world of the Forgotten Realms? Are there going to be cataclysmic differences or huge time shifts as we have seen before?
EME: One thing thatâ€™s been really great, working on the Sundering, is the way that the game has striven to not force major changes to the world. Now the Sundering is definitely going to have effects on the worldâ€”changes that make the Realms feel revitalizedâ€”but theyâ€™re made with the story in mind and the goal is that whatever you love best about the Realms will be found there.
GoD: Anything else you would like to add for first time readers of your books or for readers new to the Realms?
EME: It seems like the most daunting thing about the Realms can be the feeling that you have to know so much going inâ€”and trying a new author can be the same way. But the goal that all of us have had in mind is to create books that help you find your way into the world, through characters you can engage with. So dive on in!
I want to thank Miss Evans for taking time from her busy schedule to placate a fanboy and give us a little more information about “The Sundering” and about her new book, The Adversary, which releases December 3, 2013 and will be available online and at finer bookstores worldwide.