2106 Forgotten Realms Adventures reviewed



The original purpose of The Forgotten Realms was to provide a fresh world for 2nd Edition play. TSR had a lot of cleaning up to do; the game had entered a national spotlight and achieved a pop culture status! Dungeons & Dragons itself was closely scrutinized and people asked if a game like this was really appropriate for children, and the suits controling TSR said, no. It wasn’t appropriate for children, so they knew they had to change.

A total revamp had never been done before, and nobody knew exactly what changes would be taking place, nor how long the project would take to get into the hands of customers, not to mention the fact that the user that may reject it after it is completed! Existing character classes which promoted evil acts would be dropped; thus, the players playing them would have their PCs die from the system itself. Magic-user and Cleric spells were changing and the spell list was huge. A new campaign setting made sense! Of course, this didn’t happen.

Forgotten Realms was published, and it was unique from Greyhawk, but it was released 2 years before the 2nd Edition, there was a lot of stuff that needed to be developed, many new users weren’t all that into creativity, they wanted a fully finished product now, and TSR knew that they could make money by heavily expanding the original box set with supplemental content, and the folks who were more about DM control and creativity could fall back on Greyhawk, which wasn’t cancelled. What this meant was that players did lose characters, if they followed the rules; of course the user style had also changed. It was a rare player who actually played from 1st to 20th level, now the DM was more of a story teller than before, deciding what level would best suit the story that he wanted to tell, and the players rolled up new characters for that adventure.

This turned out to be a very wise decision; it was lucrative for the company and allowed users who wanted it, a more complete world to play in. To correct the 2e rules changes, an incredible story called The Times of Trouble was developed, it addressed all of the changes to the core rules in a way that made sense and was fun! Not everybody read the novels, and D&D is about specific rules, so product 2106 Adventures was released which addressed all of that and greatly expanded the playability of the Box Set. This hardcover book, which made a great companion to the Box Set, was written by Jeff Grubb and Forgotten Realms creator, Ed Greenwood.

There are those out there that hate this book, which I never understood. I didn’t start playing in the Realms themselves until recently, but I bought this book a very long time ago! And have used it right along with my other core books; not for the content, but for the format. Creating content is easy, but keeping content in a format that is actually functional is not easy at all. This book, beyond creating excellent content, supplied me with a method of writing down my ideas in a very productive way! But, let’s look at the book itself.

Chapter 1: The Forgotten Realms, Post-Avatar

This chapter deals with all of the changes unique to the Realms, which were many. The gods had been punished and the nature of magic is unstable. It addresses changes to the world due to new core mechanics, but even in this chapter, it went the extra mile. It goes through many of the 1e PC classes and addresses them each individually; it even goes beyond the Core Handbooks by expanding the classes beyond 20th level, up to 30th. It also added a new weapon class to the core system, Firearms, and methods of limiting their use so that they aren’t abused by player characters.

Chapter 2: Gods & Their Specialty Priests

This chapter provides even DM’s who don’t play the Realms an excellent example of what an Avatar system should look like. It provided a good templet for creating your own fantasy religion. It does a wonderful job of adding specialty priests into the world; and for realms users, you get full color art of many of the Avatars themselves, as well of every sigil for each god and goddess. It also covers the dead gods which had perished, just in case a DM would want them.

Correction: Google Plus User  Markus Wagner pointed out that the pictures are not of the Avatars, but of the specialty priests themselves, which to me is even cooler

Chapter 3: Magic & Mages in the Realms

The schools of magic are better explained, and it is worth noting that this book was published before the Complete Handbooks for Wizards & for Priests. Besides explaining things, this handbook gives you new spells which are unique to the Realms, and I’m not talking just a couple of pages of throw away spells, this list greatly expands those that the Players Handbook offers.

Chapter 4: Cities of the Heartlands

The Forgotten Realms boxset had mapped and keyed a few towns and cities, this book has them, and a lot more locations fully mapped and better keyed. The format of this chapter has been lifted by myself since day one, and it is still my favorite templet for designing your own cities. I will also admit that I’ve used the maps and keys in other settings for towns that didn’t warrant a full write-up, or just because I was lazy.

Chapter 5: Secret Societies of the Heartlands

This brief chapter identifies a few of the main groups which appose each other for power and control of the realms. Great for users of the Realms! I’m not sure when they added groups and secret societies which hide within a political system and have their own agendas and motivations into the game, but it did inspire me to always do this. Compared with the rest of the book, this is its weakest section, however the hierarchy of leadership within any large order can be lifted.

Chapter 6: Treasure

Beyond the formatting found in this book, another great thing about it is that it expands the Gem and Art Object treasures into something very cool and fitting for all campaign settings.  Some players want to know this stuff, and it adds color to any session for DM’s who want to hide mechanics as much as possible.

Overview

Like much of the “GOOD” Forgotten Realms material, it has its uses regardless of campaign settings. The book itself is well organized, and fun to read! My copy is very well used, the binding doesn’t appear to be as sturdy as the three Core books, but it is nice to have a supplement that is actually hard-bound, especially since it is so usable.

This book did set a new standard for the game, it provided a patch to the system until further products could expand upon ideas to be focused on later products, but it also had its own direction and personality. It provided material and inspiration, which is exactly what you want to have in any product! At the time, and now, I give the product a A. It is still available on the used market and you can find copies cheap!

Adventures Negative Feedback

I have never understood the public hatred for this book, but I think that it has more to do with people not realizing that they can ignore content, and lift what they want. While the content of this book may not be everybody’s cup of tea, and it may had stepped on the DM’s toes by publishing material that the DM had already created; what it does offer greatly out-weighs what some DM’s feel that it takes away, which it can; if you let it! But that is the nature of any product, isn’t it?

2 comments:

Mattia said...

Ah Ripper,

What a manual this is! Among the useful books I bought (and I have many, believe me) is, no doubt, in the top ten. It should be regarded as a model to be taken in consideration when a supplement has to written.
I used, literally, every part of it. Not only it tries to recover the gaps left by early 2nd edition, but adds clerics of every faith, new spells (many good ones), details cities (prividing everything's necessary in a couple of pages) and adds more magic items. I still use the common, uncommon and rare table whenever I need to randomized spells.

To resume, this book is a jewel as many supplements used to be at the early days of the Realms.

Thanks for the good review.
Ciao,
Mattia.

Ripper X said...

Thanks! I had forgotten to mention the Random Spell table, which, to my knowledge, is the only time that this was done. I fall back on it from time to time because one never knows when those crazy wizards are going to show up!

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