The Nerd's Guide to the Forgotten Realms
If you are like me and didn’t get into Dungeons and Dragons until the 2000’s then you have missed a TON of lore on the Forgotten Realms. I started playing D&D around 2009, and from the beginning have always been interested in the Forgotten Realms Setting. Back in those days, we played D&D 3.5 edition, and so I bought the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting, a campaign setting book that laid out in pretty fine detail the points of interest of the setting and some of the background behind those points of interests. The book details much about culture, religion, and an understanding of some of the factions at play in the Realms. This gave me a good baseline but left me wanting more.
Years went by, as I played my hybrid homebrew campaigns using the setting as a way to get most of the world building heavy lifting done and then just filling in the rest with my own story. I didn’t really pay much attention to what was going on in the Realms as Wizards of the Coast developed this amazing story in the background. That was another mistake on my part, and now I am playing the best game of “catch up” ever.
My curiosity to research the Realms lore started with Acquisitions Incorporated, where, in a PAX live play, the character Drizzt Do'Urden made an appearance. Mike Krahulik made mention to some of Drizzt’s fantastic feats, and that got me very interested in the character. From my research, I knew that Drizzt was basically a Mary-Sue badass and that he had a ton of books written about him, but I was in college and had no wish to try and read more books than what I was already tasked with for school so I put it on my to-do list.
I started researching the Realms recently and rediscovered the wealth of books out there for Drizzt, so I tasked myself with reading all the books, about 42 published books at the time of writing this. A few months went by and then I started listening to Dragon Talk, where in one episode Greg Tito and company interviewed Ed Greenwood, the creator of the Forgotten Realms. It is then that I realized that this setting has been in place for many years. With all the juicy information and knowledge that was being dropped in the Drizzt books, things that I started laying into my campaigns as historical events, I knew that I needed to read more about the Realms.
A little aside, reading R.A. Salvatore’s books has done great things for me as a DM. It has given me a wealth of information and backstory on towns, people, and culture in the Realms all of which has made my DMing experience easier and has allowed me to paint my campaigns with much more color making it more enjoyable for my players. So I look forward to these other books about the Realms, to start to fill out my lore understanding more.
I made some mistakes along the way about how I should go about reading the recent stories of the Forgotten Realms and because of that have done a lot of research. With that, I decided that it might be useful to publish my reading list so that others might benefit from what I have researched and read about. I have formatted my list by a few different ways. It starts off following Drizzt's story arc, with a crossover around the Sundering World event. From there I dabbled briefly in a few side stories and then start following Ed Greenwood’s character, Elminster, loosely with a few important and interesting story arcs. Please keep in mind that there are about 450 published novels and short stories at the time of writing this and I have cut that list down to 109 books.
That is where I am going to leave it for this week. As always, thank you so much for stopping in and reading. Feel free to comment, I love to read constructive feedback and love discussing books like these. Check back in next week to see what else I have on my mind or decide to analyze. Remember to follow The DM’s Table on Facebook or on Twitter @dmstable for updates and to let me know what is on your mind, or what you might want to read about. Thank you for reading.
-- The DM