November 1st, 2007: Happy post-halloween. I have something scary to show you. This week I am visiting an off-Greyhawk topic that has me riveted somewhat and could in my own paranoid way, be a GH topic in a few years. I refer to 4th edition Forgotten Realms' new 'Realms Shaking Event' the Spellplague. Details have been hard to come by on what exactly the Spellplague is and I think this blog post from a couple weeks ago by Chris Perkins could be the best info on what is going on:

Chris Perkins post
The parts that grab me are the 10 things to know about 4E FR. To wit:
"1) It's a D&D campaign setting and an FR campaign setting. It feels like FR, but also it uses 4E game mechanics and incorporates all 4E races and classes. The Spellplague and its effects on the world enable us to integrate new 4E mechanics and world elements into the setting in a manner that doesn't require us to ignore canon or rewrite history. Large parts of the world won't be affected horribly. We're not going to destroy Cormyr, level Waterdeep, or blow up Silverymoon, for instance. We like these places as much as anyone. However, there are some parts of the world that aren't quite so beloved and don't have much happening in or around them. Many of these areas are likely to undergo some level of change."

New mechanics determining setting background is bad. It should always be the other way around in my opinion.

"(2) 4E FR embraces, at least in part, the "points of light" concept talked about on D&D Insider. There will be places in 4E FR that haven't been explored or mapped. Some of these "dark areas" may be explored in novels; most will be set aside for DMs who want to insert their own cool stuff into the campaign setting. In effect, the Spellplague allows us to put some of the "forgotten" back into the Forgotten Realms."

As I have vehemently argued before about the P.O.L. concept, it did in fact need to be implemented in an established setting for 4E despite the contrary that the setting already plays to this theme. Huzzah. What has me scratching my head is the unexplored, UNMAPPED areas. Where is THAT? Authors don't normally stray from the Sword Coast and Dales areas in their novels or adventures, and these are the areas he says are untouched. That leaves everything else since Faerun AFAIK is largely mapped already. So I sense a MAJOR map change. Put all your old ones in the closet Faerunians. Undoubtedly these 'dark areas'(imagines a video game map that slowly reveals itself) will be where springs your new core stuff like Tieflings, Changelings and whatnot. Niiice.

"(3) In 4E FR, the PCs matter. The PCs are the ones accomplishing the truly heroic quests. There aren't a bunch of high-level NPCs running around who can step in to clean up the PCs' messes or do things the PCs can't."

At last! Validation from on high, of what many debates have focused on about Forgotten Realms. There is no denying it now. I see pink slips coming for alot of FR NPCs.

"(4) FR novels will remain part of the FR canon. As with previous editions, DMs are free (even encouraged) to run FR campaigns that ignore canonical elements that don't suit their individual campaigns."

And if you are in this minority of players you probably aren't going to play 4E either.

"(5) Running adventures and campaigns in 4E FR doesn't require encyclopedic knowledge of Realms history. Anyone who reads the Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide will feel like they can run a Realms-based adventure or campaign without treading on thousands of years of history. The Grand History of the Realms nicely encapsulates all of the setting's pertinent historical moments; the 4E books will focus more on the present and provide DMs with the tools they need to run exciting FR adventures across all of Faerūn."

Since I believe 4E will be an entirely new game as they claim it won't be backwards compatible, it is also safe to assume their 10 year timeline jump and Spellplague will create a similar effect. It's a whole new FR. No need to have your old stuff to play (even the stuff you bought last summer). Buy our new books.

"(6) The 4E FR setting will have a smaller pantheon. In general, there will be less overlap in the gods' portfolios. Consequently, some 3E deities have been 'demoted,' effectively becoming agents or emissaries of more powerful gods. A handful of deities have been killed off. There are also a few new deities to fill holes."

Another lamentable move but in the best interest of making the Realms playable to someone who knows nothing of the Time of Troubles or many of the other myriad godly intrigues in FR's history. I am most amused to see that after all the consolodating, downsizing and headhunting, they still need to outsource for a few new gods. WTH?

"(7) Elminster and Drizzt are still around in 4E FR, as are several other iconic FR characters (including many popular campaign villains). On that note, FR wouldn't be FR without the contributions of Ed Greenwood and R.A. Salvatore. Two years ago, Ed and Bob expressed some initial concern about advancing the FR timeline; however, they quickly realized that the change gave them the "space" to tell more interesting stories, reveal some new characters, and write about some new places in the world. Ed and Bob are on deck to receive the 4E rules documents shortly, and in addition to his other FR commitments, Ed will be contributing 50,000 words to the Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide releasing in August 2008."

Hmmm, didn't he just say a paragraph ago that they are adding a few new deities? ;)

"(8) Writing of the Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide began in early 2006 with the geography chapter, and we intend to have a complete first draft before the end of the year. The book's format is much more user-friendly; the book also features an index."

Index! Remember that word.

"(9) 4E FR will receive a lot of continuing support on D&D Insider, in the form of an official wikipedia, regular Dragon® articles, Dungeon® adventures, and online tools (including FR race options for the D&D Character Creator). In all, there will be more Realms support online than we were ever able to provide in the printed magazines, largely because we're no longer limited by page count."

A wiki. Now there's an idea!

"(10) Numerous individuals have contributed to the shaping of 4E FR. If you don't like what you hear, I urge you to point your accusing finger at me. I am the D&D story manager, so world design pretty much falls to me and collaterally to my team of designers (see my closing remarks, below)."

World design is where my point finally comes across in this rant. If GH is ever to get relaunched by Wizards in the 4th edition, this treatment is what Greyhawk will go through too. Some points are good some are bad, some are heinous. For example an index for the LGG is something we all would like, but do we need to have half the Flanaess tore up to fit the P.O.L. concept or to fit their new mechanics? Hell no! And for my own sake I don't want my roster of Greyhawk deities pared down. Just something to think about because the seed could already be in place for change in Greyhawk canon, luckily Boccob and company found out about it early and deflected disaster. For now. Okay read the comic now...Enjoy.

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