Saturday, 16 August 2014

GenCon News - No 5E Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting

I recently posted the first 5E map for the Forgotten Realms from the Hoard of the Dragon Queen adventure (or, more accurately, the abbreviated version released as part of the new organised play scheme called D&D Adventurers League) and was surprised to note that it contained a few spelling mistakes, including the misspelling of the name of the city of Silverymoon which is a fairly significant location in Realmslore.

I mean, I do not have a high opinion of WotC's editors - see page XX is an error that transcends editions - but my opinion dropped lower when my tweet to the map's cartographer mentioning the errors came back with a response that he simply duplicated what was on the draft copy WotC sent him.

If the 5E version of Realms was meant to win back the diehard fans who were turned off by 4E, having no QA process to prevent some fairly basic errors on the first official map was a major step backwards. (And, sure, to normal people it's such a minor thing but setting fans are generally detail-oriented.)

And then came the news I read today.

It seems that Mike Mearls has said that any official 5E campaign setting is either a long way off or not even likely. Instead, the plan is to drip-feed the information via other products such as adventures.

No, Mike, that is not how you win back FR fans.

Anyway, one thing I learnt from the whole 5E playtest circus was that anything said by Mike could be safely ignored unless and until it was confirmed by Rodney Thompson. And the fact that Mike is technically Rodney's boss is completely irrelevant.

Ironically, in the light of this post, it's probably strange that I am even posting this. I have no interest in 5E and even less interest in a version of the Forgotten Realms that is "sponsored" by R A Salvatore. I mean, the guy seems to be a great bloke, but he writes as if he was channelling George Lucas at the precise moment that George was inventing the gungans. (Look at RAS's dwarves. They're retarded. They have speech impediments. They have stupid names. Yes, they are simply bearded gungans.)

So, why I am posting?

I think this is actually a good time for people to take a fresh look at the 4E version of the Forgotten Realms. You have the sparseness of the OGB. You have basically no RSEs reshaping the world. You have tonnes of source material from Living Forgotten Realms adventures that, while highly variable in quality, are legally free of charge. And you still have all the stuff published for previous editions available as source material.

Sure, you have the shittiest world map in the history of RPG publishing but Mike Schley has created many regional maps - Chessenta, Cormyr, Neverwinter, Silver Marches, Vaasa - which are eminently usable in a way that Rob Lazzaretti's smudgefest from the 4E Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide could never hope to be.

And everything that people claim to be a reason to hate the 4E Realms - lost countries, dead deities etc... - is not only an adventure hook, but an entire campaign arc in the making. 

Anyway, that's still better than having nothing, right?

Edit 17Aug14: Personally, I am not surprised by this, but Mike Mearls has been on ENWorld to clarify that something for the Forgotten Realms is coming later, after they have actually finished the 5E products - yep, the DMG is still being worked on! - and everyone has had a break before they go about their next big release.

Per my earlier comment, don't take anything at face value posted by Mike unless and until it is confirmed by someone else. If I was running WotC, he would not be my choice as the public face of the brand unless I wanted someone who seemed to possess a remarkable talent for generating lots of nerdrage because of bad communication.

Hmmm, maybe he is the right guy, after all?

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