Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Spellplague, 4th Edition, and the Realms

I don't know why it didn't occur to me, but it didn't, and it took me as much by surprise as when Azrael became Batman. Or even further back, the Crisis on the Infinite Earths.

If Hasbro is making WOTC dumb down and streamline the D&D game by creating another version of it...and this one is going to have a completely re-worked magic system, new versions of the monsters, new rules for fighters that make them as "fun" to play as clerics and wizards...then there will be major consequences for the different campaign worlds.

I guess it shouldn't be a surprise at all...with each new campaign setting there has been a RSE. (Realms Shattering Event) This is sort of like what happened with the Time of Troubles when 2nd Edition came out.

What is the "it" that I keep talking about? Let me explain....

I picked up my copy of "The Orc King" yesterday and in the prologue there was Drizzt talking about events 100 years in the future...there was an uneasy peace with the orc tribes, and talk of Luskan being levelled...there was also a mention of something called the Spellplague.

I was mystified. So, I looked it up...and basically Mystra is going to die, again, and the whole of the Realms is going to be re-imagined.

1385 DR Year of Blue Fire

Unthinkable catastrophe ensues when Cyric, aided and abetted by Shar, murders Mystra in Dweomerheart. The plane itself disintegrates at once, destroying Savras and sending the gods Azuth and Velsharoon reeling into the endless Astral Plane. Without Mystra to govern the Weave, magic bursts its bonds all across Faerun and the surrounding planes and runs wild. In Faerun, this event is known as the Spellplague. Thousands of mages are driven insane or destroyed, and the very substance of the world becomes mutable beneath veils of azure fire that dance across the skies by night or by day.

Many planes are shifted or destroyed as well. Only greater deities prove strong enough to maintain their realms against the resultant chaos. Tyr, Lathander, and Sune move against Cyric and successfully imprison the Black Sun in his Supreme Throne, under a sentence of house arrest to last one thousand years.

Sages in centuries to come mark the Weave's destruction in the Year of Blue Fire as the end of the old world, and the terrible beginning of the new.

That ain't going to happen in my world. In my world, we never switched to 3rd edition, so completely destroying and rebuilding my Forgotten Realms to accomodate some coporate pin-head who wants to wring the last few dollars out of the franchise by creating 4th edition would be pretty stupid.

Besides....I'm not sure that my players are ever going to get to 1369 DR, so something that isn't going to happen until after 1385 probably won't impact me much anyway.

But it sucks to know that my break with official timelines now has to be just as official.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I sympathize with the changes made to the Realms, but I do not like the Realms to begin with!

If I was a Realms fan, I´d be pissed.

5:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

BTW, I made a mockup AD&D mini-stat card as a response to the 4e stat-card. You might like it:

5:02 PM  
Blogger Shandar the Ashen said...

I don't play the DDM game proper, but the stat card looks pretty good to my untrained eye. There was a recent leak of the actual 2.0 card for this mini over at

It looks like devils and demons are not going to have spell like abilities in 4E.

5:21 PM  
Blogger Shandar the Ashen said...

As for the Realms, I can certainly understand why it would not be a favorite campaign setting. I'm a sucker for a continuing story line, so that's why I've always enjoyed it. But you could never keep up with the history and parts of the Realms (like Sembia) that they said they'd never do anything with turned out to end up just as over developed as the rest of the world. I put a lot of blame on the shoulders of the novels being incorporated into the game world canon. It was really impossible to actually play and keep up with changes in the campaign setting that took place in nearly real time.

My last session we spent 6 hours playing less than 20 minutes of "game time". The past three years have all been in 1368 DR.

I guess in a way, this is a good thing, as I won't feel compelled to buy any of the 4E stuff the way I did actually buy a lot of 3E even though I didn't play that edition. Converting wasn't too hard and the campaign world was the same.

I've always considered the Realms to be sort of like Sliders. "This isn't our Realms...Elminster has a short beard...we need to slide again."

On my Realms, a different path...and luckily for me, I guess, a less expensive one if I'm not buying the 4E stuff because it won't be relevant.

I do think it is crazy for Hasbro/WOTC to expect everyone who has been playing the game for years to restart their campaigns from scratch.

5:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To elucidate a little:
There´s a serious playstyle switch being force upon the Realms.

The Wilderlands and other Sandbox style campaign are great. But they don´t lend themselves well to political gaming. The realms used to support a politics/mystery heavy D&D experience.
Now it´s Daiklaive (sp?) & Sorcery even for the Realms.

Although I really dig "Points of Light" as a concept and for my own campaigns, the loss of the unique strengths of the Realms is a net loss in diversity for D&D.

7:33 PM  
Blogger The Philistine! said...

I am a Realms fan, and I am seriously pissed.

The 4th Edition is really dumb. They are turning Dungeons and Dragons into some stupid hack-and-slash game. It is a fucking disgrace!

11:23 AM  
Blogger Jamespeace said...

I am also pissed! I came back to the D&D game after a few years and found that they had destroyed it!
i wanted to stop playing boring computer games and have found that D&D has been turned into a paper version of a online adventure game.......static and hack and slash, even the language reminds my of PC gaming.....characters are described as "interfaces with the world". Everything I loved is gone and I can't even buy the old rules/box sets I liked!!

5:26 PM  
Blogger Jamespeace said...

Someone know where I can get a copy of the old rules?? and FR box set?

5:29 PM  
Blogger Shandar the Ashen said...

I am still using 2E materials and for a long time was buying downloadable PDFs from ENWORLD, but recently WOTC ended the license and forced them to take all TSR/WOTC content off their sight and are prohibiting PDF sales of any of their content by 3rd party that really sucks.

However, you can still get some 2E and earlier materials in orginal form from, and I buy a PH and a DMG from their every time I see one for under $8 or so, in order to have plenty on hand for new players who don't have their own books.

4:20 PM  
Blogger Aramathis said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

5:45 PM  
Blogger Aramathis said...

4th edition in a word is Tunnels & Trolls or Bunny's & Burrows of the 21st century.

I designed my own system years ago as AD&D started to moved away from long term gamers and moved toward fast food gaming. Well, they finally arrived and its not for the real gamers anymore its for the boxed fast food gamer who would not know what a milieu or campaign even is.

I have run the same campaign world since the early 80's and I have been gaming almost as long as Gygax, Arsen, Greenwood etc. I justed started younger than they did. In all that, I have the same thing to say about it I have always said which is ... "wonderful creativity on the story lines but the game designers sadly lack. Now a days game designers are college kids with degrees that have read a few books, passed some business classes and can type a resume rather than the true hardcore old school gamers like they should be that made RPG's what they are.

With all that now being said the truth is game companies today don't care about old school gaming like 2nd edition as the money is in the masses and old school gamers are a dying breed.

To all my fellow gamers who don't need push button table top, I salute you. To you others ... just play World of War Craft and don't bother with "Role playing" as the bulk of the modern gaming world doesn't know what that is anyway.

5:57 PM  
Blogger BCZ said...

I just came back to RPGing after spending my entire pre-teen and teen years as a D&D original and AD&D 2nd edition player. Did most of it in the Realms, some Spelljammer and Planescape worked into my Realms campaigns, where my D&D campaign was basically a rewritten world based on the names and places of the Hollow World Map (I really hated drawing world maps as a teen). Decided to read up on what I had missed with 3e and 4e during the college years (thank you torrents). I have to admit that I am pissed about the 4e changes to the Realms, the absolute DESTRUCTION of the entire unified cosmology of the TSR-created Universe, I think Eberron is a frigging circus that seems like Final Fantasy for NES with some WoW mixed in - AKA a computer game. They even refer to the fucking players as having 'roles' which refer to 'roles in combat' rather than roles in F*&%ING *ROLE*playing.

I thought that 3e WAS an improvement - but it embraced many of my House Rules into its player class system, and combat system from 2e, so of course I would say it is an improvement. Also, the 2e materials were not rendered TOTALLY OBSOLETE. translating between 2e characters and campaigns could be a smooth process. 4e is not an improvement in any respect. It is a degradation.

I am building a campaign setting that fits into the old cosmology, with connections with spelljammer, the planes, etc. as laid out in 2e. Further just for good F%&^ing measure the premise will be a post-apocolyptic recovery of what happens when all that cool 'magic-punk' tech from Eberron blows up and destroys civilization. That will soothe me.

6:43 AM  
Blogger demoniodojo said...

I've been playing AD&D for a long time, playing Darksun, Dragonlance, Forgotten Realms and Ravenloft.
Those assholes at WOTC/Hasbro destroyed them all. At least Dragonlance returned to a semblance of normalcy, let's just hope that FR does the same.
Spellplague = Chaos War.
Now, about the rules. Gygax is right. Anything beyond 1E (and therefore 2E which was an evolution) sucks. Simple rules, complex role play and story.
Complicated rules, munchkin games.
Fuck it man, play whatever you want the way you want. That's what they said always in the prologue of every book, wasn't it?

5:29 PM  

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