Dungeon Mastering Reviews: Forgotten Realms Player’s GuideWritten by Nicholas - Published on January 27, 2009
The Forgotten Realms Player’s Guide is one half of update of the Forgotten Realms campaign setting to 4th edition. Let us not waste any time, when you pick up the thin book off the shelf of your local gamestore you have to ask the big question, “is this worth my money?” Well, the answer really depends on who you are and why you might want the book. The way I see it there are three broad categories who are looking at this book, find the section that applies to you and let me help you decide.
I love Forgotten Realms and really want my group to play!
I should tell you this up front. I have never played a Forgotten Realms campaign. I have never read a Forgotten Realms novel. In fact, the only experience I have in the world of Toril are digital adventurers developed by Bioware. The reason I mention this is to let you know that I am completely unable to judge the lack of something that should be there. If there is an intelligent and malevolent race of crustaceans in Forgotten Realms they have been entirely excluded I wouldn’t know enough to tell you that. Likewise I cannot judge the accuracy of something. It may be, for example, that the genasi in this book don’t match up well with their capabilities in the novels. I have no idea, I can only judge what is written on the page.
Fortunately, what is written on the books holds up very well. You’re likely interested in how the additions to the book invoke the feel of Faerun. In addition to the new races there is a guide about how the old races behave differently in Forgotten Realms. There is a guide to the locations of Faerun and minor benefits that a character’s home region can confer upon them. There are new paragon paths specific to locations and orders of Faerun, for instance the sword coast corsair or purple dragon knights. There is also an interesting new system for dealing with those scarred by the spell plague. It works similar to multiclassing but there is no base class, you just swap powers for special powers gained by the manifestation of your spellscar.
Bottom Line: If you love Forgotten Realms and play 4th edition you probably already have this book. If you don’t you should. It is mechanically solid and invokes the feel of the world well, at least to my admittedly limited knowledge.
I don’t know much about Forgotten Realms but I’m interested!
Unfortunately you are the least served by this book. The content is a good as it is for any other group but you are going to need more. The book contains a sizable section that describes all the different regions of Faerun. It contains a brief overview of the area both culturally and geographically as well as offering some ideas for what an adventurer from that area might be like and be interested in. Additionally there is a small section that introduces the gods of Faerun and gives very brief introductions to the society and cosmology you will encounter. This is all solid information, however it simply isn’t enough for the Forgotten Realms newbie. As someone unfamiliar with the world of Toril, after reading this book I still didn’t feel like I had enough of the big picture to run a FR game.
Bottom Line: The Player’s Guide is still a great book but if you don’t know about Toril already it is essential that you pick up other books, such as the Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide, to supplement the information found in it.
I don’t care about Forgotten Realms in the slightest but I’d like to harvest new things from this book!
You’re quite in luck, this book is perfect for you. The division into two books works well for this group, it gives you all the stuff you care about without getting bogged down in too many details about the campaign setting. This book contains an entirely new race, the genasi, a race of elemental creatures. Genasi can manifest one of five elemental forms or take feats that allow them to swap between multiple elemental incarnations. Genasi make fine warlords and swordmages, the new class found in this book. Additionally, drow have been upgraded out of the monster manual to full race status.
As I mentioned earlier there is a new class to play with. The swordmages are arcane defenders who enchant their blades to defend their allies and strike down their foes at melee and short range. There is also a new pact available for warlocks. The dark pact is a specialty of the drow. The pact’s powers often spread from enemy to enemy, cause ongoing damage or draw strength from hurting the warlocks allies. The pact boon charges up as you kill enemies under your curse. When you get attacked you can unleash that storehouse of power to a devastating effect.
There are also 25 new paragon paths, mostly involving the new races and classes. Some of the paths are tied to locations, religions and organizations specific to Forgotten Realms but could easily be adopted into most campaigns. The book includes a single epic destiny, which is to become the chosen champion of a deity. It offers a different utility power for each deity in Forgotten Realms, which makes for good flavor but requires some extra work to convert to a non-FR campaign.
<imThe book also contains a selection of feats tied to the new races, class and warlock pact. There are also channel divinity feats for each of the new gods. Finally there are about 25 new rituals, nearly all of which are fit for use in any campaign.
Bottom line: This book offers plenty of quality material which can provide new possibilities even to campaigns that have nothing to do with Forgotten Realms. It is well worth having at least one copy among the group.
What do you think of the Forgotten Realms Player’s Guide? I would particularly like to here from those more knowledgable about the setting!