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D&D and Forgotten Realms

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AntiBody
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D&D and Forgotten Realms

Post by AntiBody » 10 Jul 2017, 19:34

Hey all. I don't know how many folks here are into D&D but I wanted some advice from y'all who play. My brother and I would like to introduce the game to his son/my nephew, who is currently 9 years old. We're not looking to start him on this any time soon, as we feel he's too young yet to really get the intricacies of the game, but we have started playing Legend Of Drizzt board game and all three of us have been absolutely loving it! We're thinking we'd like to introduce him to D&D proper in a few years, spending the time between now and then playing through all of the adventures in Legend Of Drizzt (and, depending on how long that takes, maybe also playing some of the other board games like Castle Ravenloft or Wrath Of Ashardalon). I'll very likely be the DM for all of this, and I'm thinking I'd like for him to continue in the Forgotten Realms campaign setting.

To give some back story on my history with D&D -- I first heard about it through three friends I made in 7th grade. They were a pre-established group, which I joined when our school districts came together for the regional middle school in 7th grade. All three of them were familiar with the basics of the general game, but interestingly, each of them specialized in a campaign setting: one knew all about Greyhawk, one Ravenloft, and one Dragonlance (when I joined, I took up Spelljammer). For some strange reason, none of us "specialized" in Forgotten Realms despite its immense popularity. I then brought the game to my brother and neighbors, and we loved it so much. However, as these things often go, we got older and we drifted away from it. I've always remembered it fondly and thought about it from time to time, but never actually took it back up.

And so now, at long last, I want to jump right into Forgotten Realms and create a fun, layered, awesome experience for my nephew. So I have several questions for y'all in the know:
  • I know D&D is currently on its 5th edition. Which edition of D&D should I work with here? The second one is the one I'm most knowledgeable about and comfortable with, but I know it's also pretty dated by now. Which edition do you think works best? Why do you like it?
  • Which Forgotten Realms novels and books series should I read to get to know more about the world? I know reading them isn't exactly essential to the gaming process, but I like knowing my lore and I'm sure it'll help inform me as a DM. I've been told Drizzt's Dark Elf Trilogy (Homeland, Exile, and Sojourn) and Icewind Dale Trilogy (The Crystal Shard, Streams Of Silver, and The Halfling's Gem) are the best to go with to learn about him and the Drow, but what books should I read about Forgotten Realms/Faerun/Toril as a whole?
  • Any recommendations you have for someone who wasn't the best DM when he was younger, but is now really really into world building and creating narratives and adventures?

Like I said, it'll be a few years before we really introduce him to this stuff, but I really want to use that time to become very knowledgeable and worldly (as it were, lol). That's a lot of time in which to soak up a lot of info. What say you? Throw everything you got at me!
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Wings
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Re: D&D and Forgotten Realms

Post by Wings » 10 Jul 2017, 20:49

I've only recently started playing D&D (DMing for a group of my friends.) We used the 5th addition, buying the Players Handbook, Dungeon Master's Guide and the Monster Manual. We also bought a Starter Kit with a campaign set in the Forgotten Realms. We're still on that campaign so I haven't had a chance to create my own, but the 5th edition and those books has really helped me as someone completely new to D&D, I found them pretty new user friendly. I haven't learned a whole lot about the Forgotten Realms setting as a whole though, I imagine there would be a great deal of information on the Wizards of the Coast website regarding the setting itself and its history.
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Anna Raven
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Re: D&D and Forgotten Realms

Post by Anna Raven » 11 Jul 2017, 02:50

I currently run a 5th Edition game which is "loosely based on the FR" (meaning its pretty much the FR but I don't sweat the details, if I need a new location or detail I just insert it). The only reason I'm doing it this way is I'm playing with almost all beginners and its more important they have fun than me sticking to lore.

However, I've run probably half a dozen true-FR games in the past, and played in a dozen more. 3.5 Edition was my favorite for pretty much ever, and then Pathfinder, which was just the spiritual successor to 3rd edition. But then 5th came out and it is also very similar to 3.5, but it strives to get rid of stuff that in the long run just doesn't matter. Like in 3.5, there were tons of dice roles that were not really important in the grand scheme of things, or rules that just added complication. So 5th is like an even better version of 3.5 I think.

The problem with all the iconic FR novels, as far as lore is concerned is that about 6-7 years ago, coinciding with the release of 4th edition, the lore introduced a cataclysmic event, and then jumped forward in time 100 years. So a lot of the famous names and characters, and even some gods, were gone as of 4th edition. The 5th Edition FR campaign setting seems to do its best to at least bring back all the gods, and even some of the characters, but not all of them. I mean you could honestly set your game in any time period, including back in the traditional time period for lore (the late 1300's DR), but it does tend to be easier to stay up to date so you can use the most current adventure paths.

Anyway, here are some of my favorite classic FR novels if you are still interested:
-Anything by Elaine Cunningham, she has a ton of good stuff on the goodly elf races. I'd start with Elfshadow, Elfsong, and Silver Shadows.
-You have the drow stuff down from Salvatore, but his Cleric Quintet is also seen as a classic series. Starts with In Sylvan Shadows...
-He's not the BEST writer, but you probably ought to read at least one book by Ed Greenwood himself, the creator of the world. I'd recommend Spellfire, but any of the Elminster books would do as well.
-It's not an essential book by any stretch but one of my personal favorites was a novel called City of Ravens by Richard Baker.
-if you go with the older, more traditional FR, there's an awesome book called Volo's Guide to the North. It's basically just full of inns, taverns, cities, NPCS, tons of stuff to throw in your game to make it authentic.
-in addition to the Forgotten Realms Wiki, you might also check out Candlekeep.com. Candlekeep is definitely an older website, but there's a ton of good info on there.

As to your final question, I would just practice on becoming the best DM you can, the world building stuff is nice, but what's really important is finding out about what your players want, and tailoring a game that suits their needs. Find out if they prefer long sessions of dungeon delving combat, or intense Roleplay sessions, or somewhere in between, maybe a little of both? That's the kind of thing you need to know to be a really good DM. Find out if they like to do voices for their characters, if they like to give them backstories, if they want them to be overpowered or realistic? It's ok to keep your own taste in mind too, but for example don't force someone to do a voice for their character, but if people want to do that kind of stuff, also encourage it.

Also, Alignment is a real thing in D&D and it is important. If you are going to allow Good and Evil characters into your party at the same time, be ready to have a way to handle that. Otherwise, don't allow it. I've seen several games end prematurely, some in rather ignominious fashion because of this one issue. In fact, the ONLY games I've ever seen end prematurely have been because of this issue. On the other hand, I've only ever had such a game run smoothly one time that I can think of.

Ok, feel free to reach out to me if you have any other questions or concerns. This is a topic on which I really consider myself an expert. Kind of a silly thing to be an expert of, but there you go. :P
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AntiBody
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Re: D&D and Forgotten Realms

Post by AntiBody » 11 Jul 2017, 19:58

Oh my god Anna this is INCREDIBLE. Thank you so much for spending the time to write and explain all of this, I'm loving it!! It's a slow day at work so I've been reading all sorts of 5e stuff online - I had no idea the basic rules were downloadable for free! I've read through so much of the Player's Basic Rules today and I'm loving it so far! I'm so glad to have a D&D expert helping me with this - not at all silly to be an expert on this, I think it's fascinating!! :)

5e does seem like a good place to start. I can tell there have been a lot of changes, leaps, bounds, and rewrites since dusty ol' 2e. I obviously know nothing about the editions in between, but if it makes sense, I can tell they streamlined some of the things you were talking about.

Thanks for the novel recommendations too! As much as I love lore, I don't want it to influence my campaigns too much. If all goes well, we'll be starting my nephew on this around the time he's 12, and unless he's super into the lore, I don't aim to touch upon it much. I think it'll just be helpful for me to know more about FR's history - that, and I've also just been looking for more fantasy to get into, haha.

I hope to soak as much of this up as I can in the couple of years to come. It looks like the D&D/Wizards site has a lot to offer too - thanks for that recommendation, Wings! Lots of amendments to rules and clarifications to complicated things; the errata is pretty interesting. I imagine and hope I'll come back to this thread every now and then to consult with y'all on things. Or maybe even just to geek out on how cool this all is lol.

It's so funny to see some familiar names pop up in the Player's Basic Rules - as I mentioned, we've been playing Legend Of Drizzt, and while of course I expected to see Drizzt's name show up here and there, I did not expect to see Regis, Bruenor, and so many others! So awesome!

If anyone else has some insight to all this, please speak up! I am, as always, so very open to hearing varying opinions and thoughts. Some more questions for y'all who've been at this for a hot minute:
  • DM experts - what's one thing you wish you knew before you started DM'ing? What would you tell your younger self before getting started with DM'ing?
  • Players - what do you think makes a good DM? What are some things your favorite DMs have done that you liked? What have some DMs done that you didn't like so much?
  • As excited as I am to cannonball in, this wealth of material can be a little intimidating at first. Any recommendations on how I should move through the 5e basic rules and Forgotten Realms materials? Thank Doom I'm giving myself a ton of time before starting this all up with my nephew lol.
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Anna Raven
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Re: D&D and Forgotten Realms

Post by Anna Raven » 11 Jul 2017, 20:18

Oh also you should sign up for the Beta of D&D Beyond. It's a DM aid/campaign tracker they are working on. It's very very helpful and has a lot of stuff like monsters and magic items in a searchable database.

https://www.dndbeyond.com/
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Gomurr the Ancient
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Re: D&D and Forgotten Realms

Post by Gomurr the Ancient » 16 Jul 2017, 20:48

Fwiw, I've heard of at least two dnd campaigns that father's are running for their children who are younger than 9, so you probably don't have to hold off for years is you don't want to.

Patrick Rothfuss, a well regarded fantasy author, runs a campaign for his kid who I think he said was six. He doesn't want to encourage violence as a solution to problems, so he's said he runs his kid's campaign as more like a puzzle solving game, where they have certain tools and magical items they have to figure out how to use in varying situations.

Liam O'Brien, a voice actor and performer in the DnD show Critical Role, runs a campaign for his two children and their friends. He's talked about DMing for his children in interviews and AMA's before. Quick google found me this bit from an AMA:

"I am currently running 3 kid games. Started with my (now) 10 year old son and his chums from school. Then my 7year old daughter asked for one with her brother, and finally, she asked she could have a game with girlfriends from school. Non stop D&D at my house. My wife has no idea what happened.

One minor moment that gave me a laugh. My daughter's druid, in the middle of a fight, came up with the idea to use grasping vines to drag a bandit through a fire. That's my girl."

Also, you may want to check out Geek & Sundry's web series GM Tips: http://geekandsundry.com/shows/game-master-tips/page/2/. Has a bunch of short videos with tips from some seriously talented DMs about everything from world building to structuring encounters and ways up keep challenges interesting.

Finally, while I don't have the experience with earlier DnD systems, I've heard from long time players that 5e is their favorite iteration of DnD.
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tokenBG1009
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Re: D&D and Forgotten Realms

Post by tokenBG1009 » 17 Jul 2017, 04:36

I want to be in Anna Raven's D&D campaign
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AntiBody
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Re: D&D and Forgotten Realms

Post by AntiBody » 17 Jul 2017, 13:28

Dude being in Anna's campaign sounds like it would be SO FUN.
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Anna Raven
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Re: D&D and Forgotten Realms

Post by Anna Raven » 17 Jul 2017, 23:33

Haha, thanks guys!
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Wings
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Re: D&D and Forgotten Realms

Post by Wings » 02 Sep 2017, 18:40

I wasn't expecting to be dealing with one of my players' characters getting someone pregnant before the end of my first D&D campaign XD
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Anna Raven
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Re: D&D and Forgotten Realms

Post by Anna Raven » 02 Sep 2017, 20:18

Wow lol. That would be interesting.
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Re: D&D and Forgotten Realms

Post by tokenBG1009 » 04 Sep 2017, 04:23

I don't think I've ever been in a campaign where sex actually happened in game. There was the one time my DM and I got to role play out some very uncomfortable pre-sex time before his prostitute tried to skewer my warrior with a sword...
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