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 What are the common themes of the Forgotten Realms
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questing gm
Senior Scribe

Malaysia
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Posted - 04 Oct 2021 :  06:40:58  Show Profile  Visit questing gm's Homepage Send questing gm a Private Message  Reply with Quote  Delete Topic
Found this topic on the Forgotten Realms sub-reddit, but thought that it was a legit question to ask here: https://www.reddit.com/r/Forgotten_Realms/comments/q0jwto/what_are_the_common_themes_of_the_forgotten_realms/

quote:
What are the core themes and values the Forgotten Realms, as a franchise, represents? And what can I do to challenge these values?

As an example, Marvel Cinema embraces the heroics of the comics but also challenges the lines in between. Or how The Prequels deconstruct the vague ideals of the Jedi from the original trilogy, showing a Lawful Neutral Order of Paladins rather than heroes akin to the Avengers?

If Eberron is an alternative setting to D&D that tells a more politically, morally-questionably grey setting that is closer to home to modern life in terms of technology and fashion, what is Forgotten Realms at its core?

As another example, the Fighter in 5e is the generic combat class that is nothing but sheer will and hard work. The Wizard worked hard to study magic, and the Bards practice endlessly with their weave-manipulating vibrations, but the Fighter's magic is a deep, sheer will to keep fighting. A Human Fighter is generic yet it still has a heart more simple yet inspiring compared to the more specific/complex/fantastical Sorcerers, Paladins, and Warlocks.

So the Forgotten Realms: what is this franchise about, and what are ways to challenge yet embrace that core?

Kelcimer
Learned Scribe

USA
123 Posts

Posted - 04 Oct 2021 :  09:59:26  Show Profile Send Kelcimer a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by questing gm
So the Forgotten Realms: what is this franchise about, and what are ways to challenge yet embrace that core?



This reminds me of the one-liner that goes something like "When pig farming, how far apart should you plant the pigs?" The question itself betrays an ignorance of the subject matter.

A campaign setting is not like a movie franchise. DM's and players can make whatever they want out of the setting. It's a sandbox.

As campaign settings are about constructing something that is enjoyable for the players, efforts at deconstructionism (which is generally ugly and unenjoyable) don't really have any room to maneuver.
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sleyvas
Great Reader

USA
10994 Posts

Posted - 04 Oct 2021 :  13:14:43  Show Profile Send sleyvas a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Kelcimer

quote:
Originally posted by questing gm
So the Forgotten Realms: what is this franchise about, and what are ways to challenge yet embrace that core?



This reminds me of the one-liner that goes something like "When pig farming, how far apart should you plant the pigs?"



I can't believe someone would be so stupid as to ask that question. It's obviously 3 feet. I read it on the Interwebz via the google. I are smart.

Alavairthae, may your skill prevail

Phillip aka Sleyvas

Edited by - sleyvas on 04 Oct 2021 13:16:28
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SaMoCon
Senior Scribe

USA
403 Posts

Posted - 05 Oct 2021 :  01:44:16  Show Profile Send SaMoCon a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Kelcimer
... A campaign setting is not like a movie franchise. DM's and players can make whatever they want out of the setting. It's a sandbox...

Is that the theme of the FR? I think that is our "inspired by-" revisions of the FR and not the actual theme of the FR. The FR has books, games, and short stories of lore so it definitely has shown multiple thematic elements. The FR is more than just a bunch of snarky tropes, it really has themes - the wonder of the fantastical, mortals attaining godhead, the seductive power of magic, arrogance & hubris of the educated against the superstition & xenophobia of the uneducated, there are always exceptions to the rules, and that no matter how much people know about the world there are things not dreamed of in the books & existing sciences.

Make the best use of the system that's there, then modify the mechanics that don't allow you to have the fun you are looking for.
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HighOne
Learned Scribe

130 Posts

Posted - 05 Oct 2021 :  02:08:40  Show Profile Send HighOne a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by questing gm
...what is this franchise about, and what are ways to challenge yet embrace that core?


Reads like Critical Theory applied to the Forgotten Realms. Why does anyone need to "challenge" the setting they're playing in? And how is that in any way fun? It sounds decidedly un-fun to me.
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Kelcimer
Learned Scribe

USA
123 Posts

Posted - 05 Oct 2021 :  02:32:53  Show Profile Send Kelcimer a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by sleyvas
I can't believe someone would be so stupid as to ask that question. It's obviously 3 feet. I read it on the Interwebz via the google. I are smart.



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Wooly Rupert
Master of Mischief
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USA
35689 Posts

Posted - 05 Oct 2021 :  02:59:51  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I think one of the primary themes -- and one that has been sadly neglected, for a while -- is that everything has a history, and everything is connected. This rock may have been part of a castle 5000 years ago, and that one may be concealing a forgotten cache of magic. This sword may have started as ore mined by dwarves, been forged by the finest elven smiths, and then used by a human champion to slay the dragon that was wreaking havoc on his home kingdom.

Another theme is that everyone in the setting has an agenda, and those agendas shape events large and small across the setting. There is always something happening somewhere, whether it's a minor merchant who figured out a way to squeeze a few more coppers out of his sales, or a mage cabal trying to put a puppet on the throne, or a dragon trying to subtly undermine a rival. Ed, in particular, has shown this in his Realms fiction.

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sleyvas
Great Reader

USA
10994 Posts

Posted - 05 Oct 2021 :  15:12:18  Show Profile Send sleyvas a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Wooly Rupert

I think one of the primary themes -- and one that has been sadly neglected, for a while -- is that everything has a history, and everything is connected. <snip> This sword may have started as ore mined by dwarves, been forged by the finest elven smiths, and then used by a human champion to slay the dragon that was wreaking havoc on his home kingdom.



And the ore came from an asteroid that fell from the sky when the ancestor of the dragon shot the moon from Hills of the Seven Lost Gods. The elven smiths imbued the sword with the power of moonlight by specifically forging it in a temple of Sehanine Moonbow in the middle of a menhir ring that was open to the sky. The elves had reconsecrated the menhir ring, which had been constructed by slaves of the dragon overlords that once enslaved the elves. Its rumored that the dragon spirit that is tied to the ring was part of a great magical ritual that involved linked this ring to another ring elsewhere in the realms, and that the dragon was corporeally dissipated by a blast of seeming moonlight for some reason.

Because in the background of a lot of the things that happen in the realms are gods... not necessarily directly affecting things over time, but nudging them via mortals....

This is one big difference from the very hands off gods of Eberron that often don't even care about the activities of their followers.

Alavairthae, may your skill prevail

Phillip aka Sleyvas

Edited by - sleyvas on 05 Oct 2021 16:09:03
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AJA
Senior Scribe

USA
664 Posts

Posted - 06 Oct 2021 :  02:52:38  Show Profile Send AJA a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by questing gm
What are the core themes and values the Forgotten Realms, as a franchise, represents?

The Forgotten Realms, after all these years, are many things to many people. "Core" is nothing more than "what enjoyment do I derive from this?" And that personal enjoyment, that joy, as alien as it may be to another, is exactly what the Realms is, as Ed Greenwood probably didn't envision all those years ago, but probably cherishes now: "make it your own, find fun and find fellowship."


... that ridiculously lofty sentiment aside, I have always enjoyed this quote from Ed himself;
quote:
Originally posted by Ed Greenwood, Candlekeep.com message boards, 15 Oct 2004
"For the Realms to be a place we like to escape to or game in, it has to have some shining allure, some good things: moments of heroism and beauty and noble behaviour for us to cherish. I make no apology for putting those on display rather than wallowing in the butchery of raw evil."

And this, another, if I may:
quote:
Originally posted by the inestimable Jamallo Kreen, 07 Jul 2005
"The Forgotten Realms books have been written by a diverse group of writers, some of them so excellent that their adventure modules can stand as "literature" in their own right. Please, Wizards, publish books by good writers (among whom I include Eric L. Boyd, pace), but give them space to write! The Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting and Faiths and Avatars are books to be emulated: vast amounts of lore packaged in single books which are in the same price range as books crammed with ill-conceived "prestige classes" and magic items that any reasonable bright person could cook up. And page after page of new magic spells? No, thank you. I haven't counted, but my main characters must have close to a hundred spells at their disposal now. I don't need Praxiteles' Greater Golden Goose Quill spell, I need to know what's over the next hill!

The Realms are supposed to be a shared world, a campaign setting such that one can take a PC from one DM's campaign and plonk him down in another DM's campaign with a minimum of fuss and bother. As it is, in 3E I can know how many times a day a dire half-celestial groundhog farts, but I don't know what's on the road from Waterdeep to Amphail, and if my characters go into another DM's campaign, they will be in a different world the moment they set foot outside Waterdeep, or Silverymoon, or such other well-documented places.

Do I really need to learn about quarter-tiefling, half-dragon bugbears with Improved Ambidexterity? NO! I need to know about Amn and Tethyr and Calimshan and Mulhorrand and the Horde Lands and Kara-Tur. Will I find detailed information on all of these places in 3E products? No, but I can create a one-tenth aasimar, one-tenth celestial, one-tenth draconian, one-fifth dire wolf, one-quarter tiefling, one-quarter shadow creature "halfling"! Enough with the new "races" already! Can't Wizards just publish a book which tells us about the local humans? Unless of course, they are in a secret evil cult, in which case they have ten pages and a new prestige class devoted to them -- at about US $2.00 from a customer's pocket. Membership in a secret, evil cult is apparently now mandatory for all NPCs who aren't specialty priests or the Chosen of "good" deities. How bloody secret is a cult if a 1st level character can see a guy in a bar and the player (if not the character) instantly know that he's a 5th level prestige class Super-Psycho Warrior of the League to Raise Jhaamdath and Enslave Everyone Else, because he has the "secret" tattoo of the Big Brain Hoot Howl on the back of his left hand? Grrrr."



AJA
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