# Introduction ![[assets/dnd-welcome.png]] ![[assets/covers-forgotten-realms/sword-coast.webp]] Welcome to a world where adventurers delve into the depths to win great treasures of old, heroes stave off the insidious plots of shadowborn fiends, undead necromancers vie for absolute mastery of life, and voracious dragons hunt. Welcome to a land whose magic-soaked bedrock has spawned millennia of eye-popping wonders and heart-stopping threats. Here lies great adventure for those who dare much. Intrepid wizards defy warnings scribed in the crumbling stone of ancient barrows. Criminals skulk in the alleys of noble and ignoble cities alike. Priests rally the faithful, calling on divine beneficence to aid companions. Warlocks vie for mastery over ancient pacts whose origins are better left concealed. Warriors swear allegiances of defense against legions of enemies too foul to face the light of day. But here, too, evil plots in the darkness, eager to expand its reach from dripping dungeons, endless caverns, ruined cities, and the vast wild places of the world. Away from the main roads and the great cities, the countryside is wild and fearsome, hiding roaming gangs of vicious goblins, spying shades from reborn Netheril, outriders of necromantic Thay, and deadly remnants of magical plague. The world is a place of fey beauty and primeval malice. It is your land to shape, guide, defend, conquer, or rule. Welcome to the FORGOTTEN REALMS campaign setting. Heroes needed. ![[assets/maps-forgottenrealms/map-sword-coast-alt.jpg]] [to enlarge: zoom window or open image in new tab] ## :: The World Toril is the world that hosts the storied continent of Faerûn and the fabled Sword Coast. Bitter winds sweep the steppes of the Endless Wastes; storm waves crash against the cliffs of the Sword Coast, and in between stretches a vast land of shining kingdoms and primal wilderness. The mysteries, secrets, and stories of Faerûn are virtually limitless. Abeir is the realm forgotten. A twin to Toril and once joined with it, Abeir went its own way at the dawn of the world. Where gods and their servants oversee Faerûn, the lords of Abeir were towering primordials and elder wyrms, and savagery ruled with them. Now, after long epochs of separation, Abeir has joined with Toril once again, in a return both violent and unlooked-for. ### Important Facts The following points describe the biggest changes to the world of Toril. This information will give you the basic background that most inhabitants know. 1. The Spellplague has drastically altered the cosmos. The Spellplague broke out in 1385 DR (the Year of Blue Fire), resulting from unfettered wild magic on the death of the goddess Mystra. Whole countries are gone, especially in regions south of the Sea of Fallen Stars. Even familiar lands have become magical and fantastic in appearance. Islands of rock called earthmotes drift through the sky. Weird towers and spires of stone jut from the landscape. Spectacular chasms and waterfalls abound. All things were sustenance for the Spellplague’s insatiable hunger—it assailed and transformed flesh, stone, magic, space, and dimensional walls. Even the cosmos beyond Toril was affected. Some ancient realms returned that had been thought gone forever (such as the Feywild), and entire planes (such as the Abyss) shifted to a new cosmic structure. 2. Portions of Abeir have fused with Toril. The Spellplague raged even beyond planar boundaries, and Toril’s long-lost twin world, cut off for tens of millennia, was also caught up in the maelstrom. Large parts of Faerûn exchanged places with equivalent land masses on Abeir, bringing their populations with them. Across the Trackless Sea, an entire continent of the lost realm reappeared, now called Returned Abeir. 3. The number of gods has dropped markedly. During the last century, even deities succumbed to divine and diabolical plots or the Spellplague's chaos. Of those now absent, many died, some left, and a few were revealed to be aspects of already extant gods. Others lost so much power that they became exarchs, lesser divinities who served the other gods. 4. The Spellplague left its mark on creatures. Some effects of the Spellplague persist today, especially in the so-called Plaguelands, where wild magic yet rages unrestrained. After exposure to the Plaguelands, some creatures exhibit physical marks called spell scars. These spellscarred individuals develop unique abilities, but not without a price. Victims of the original Spellplague were horribly changed, not simply scarred, but their flesh warped in unimaginable ways. The abilities of the spellscarred, though unique, are never as monstrous and powerful as those of plaguechanged creatures. Luckily, such monsters are few; of those, only a handful are free-willed, mobile threats. 5. Huge Underdark collapses have changed the surface of Faerûn. As the earth fell away, the level and position of the Sea of Fallen Stars shifted drastically. An enormous opening into the Underdark has formed south of the Chondalwood. In addition to this country-sized hole in the earth, underground shifting has made the Underdark much more accessible to the surface world. 6. Thay has become a terrible undead threat. The former land of the Red Wizards is now controlled by a single power-mad regent: Szass Tam. He nearly succeeded in performing a ritual that would have made him immortal. Szass Tam failed, but in so doing, he transformed Thay into a nightmare land of death. Now the regent is intent on expanding Thay’s borders so that he can attempt the ritual again. 7. The ancient empire of Netheril has been restored. The Twelve Princes of Shade rule from their capital city, Shade Enclave, in a land newly reclaimed from the Anauroch Desert. Netheril is once again a major player and a threat to all the northern realms. 8. Ancient elven lineages have returned to Faerûn. With the reappearance of the Feywild, its natives have begun exploring the world again. These fey folk collectively call themselves eladrin, and many Faerûnian elves have also adopted this name for their lineage, though they have not forgotten their traditional cultural distinctions and names. In casual speech, the world “elven” collectively refers to the two branches of this fey people: elves and eladrin. 9. Most portals no longer work. The breaking of the Weave destroyed most of the portals that crisscrossed Toril, because it destroyed the hard-won knowledge of arcane casters. Although arcanists have relearned their craft since the Spellplague raged, most portals remain nonfunctional or dangerously malfunctioning, broken relics of a legendary past. ### Adventuring in the World The world of the FORGOTTEN REALMS campaign setting is filled with many wondrous nations, fantastic races, and powerful magic. The new age introduces an even greater element of the incredible to this vibrant, ever-changing world. Toril is a living, growing world home to many thousands of intelligent beings with their names, deeds, natures, and histories. Mighty heroes stride across the landscape, forging new legends with their bravery and determination. Stalwart halfling warriors battle against the demons infesting the Gate of Iron Fangs in Dambrath. Genasi sorcerers from wondrous Akanûl study the secret arts of wild magic. Quickwitted Chessentan ruffians skulk in the alleyways and bazaars of Luthcheq, the City of Madness. In a world of heroes, both light and dark, you must choose where you will stand in the struggle to come. ### Traveling in the World The continent of Faerûn is not the cosmopolitan grid of trade routes it was of old. Disasters, rampaging monsters, and the rise of evil empires have changed the landscape. Many roads have fallen into disrepair, several ports are high and dry, and numerous once-vital cities are now empty shells or drowned ruins. But to the bold, venturing into the darkness between points of light remains an exciting and rewarding enterprise. Traveling cross-country is dangerous and often difficult—the following means of transportation are safer and easier. ***Roads.*** Some roads remain in good condition, requiring only sturdy boots or a hardy mount to make good, if slow, headway. ***Caravans.*** Trade caravans travel both on and off-road, and those wishing to travel long distances should consider signing on. Characters might be able to hire on as guards for the journey. ***Ships.*** Travel by water remains popular between cities with river or sea ports. ***Portals.*** Few portals still function, and only the very lucky ever stumble upon those. However, spellcasters can perform rituals that allow quick travel between widely separated places. ***Flight.*** Some nations have aerial transport, including High Imaskar, Tymanther, and Netheril, but such conveyances are rarely available for the use of adventuring companies. **Planewalking.** The Shadowfell and the Feywild planes conform somewhat to Toril’s geography, allowing travelers to bypass something untoward in the world by moving into one of those other planes for a bit. Special rituals allow a planar shortcut for quicker travel. (Of course, the other planes have hazards of their own.) ### Magic in the World From the simplest cantrip to the mightiest workings of High Magic, from the blessings of healing mercy to the raising of mighty heroes from the dead, magic permeates the Realms. Any understanding of magic begins and ends with an understanding of the Weave. #### The Weave The Weave is an essential element of the universe, running through everything in unseen threads. Some creatures, objects, and locations have deep, intrinsic ties to the Weave and can perform extraordinary feats that come naturally to them (a beholder’s flight, a vampire’s charming gaze, a dragon’s breath weapon, and so forth). Creatures with the necessary talent and skill can also manipulate the Weave to perform magic by casting spells. The Weave isn’t normally visible or detectable, even through the use of spells. Detect magic doesn’t let you perceive the Weave, for instance. The Weave isn’t magic, precisely, any more than a collection of threads is a garment; it’s the raw material from which the tapestry of magic is woven. In two senses, both the metaphorical and the real, the goddess Mystra is the Weave. She is its keeper and tender, but all three times the goddess of magic has died or been separated from her divinity (twice as Mystra, and once as her predecessor, Mystryl), magic has been twisted or has failed entirely. With Mystra’s last death and the coming of the Spellplague, the Weave was thought destroyed, and the term lost its significance. Since the end of the most recent Sundering, both Mystra and the Weave have returned to their roles of centuries past, and spells and magic items are more reliable than they had been while the Spellplague raged. #### Supernatural Powers and Psionics The inborn magical abilities of certain creatures, the acquired supernatural powers of people such as monks, and psionic abilities are similar in that their users don’t manipulate the Weave in the customary way that spellcasters do. The user's mental state is vitally important: monks and some psionic users train long and hard to attain the right frame of mind, while creatures with supernatural powers have that mindset in their nature. How these abilities are related to the Weave remains a matter of debate; many students of the arcane believe that using the so-called Unseen Art is an aspect of magical talent that can’t be directly studied or taught. #### Weave-Affecting Magic Certain spells allow casters to perceive or manipulate the effects of the Weave in particular ways. The Weave itself also has irregularities that affect spells. **_Detect Magic._** Detect magic reveals threads of the Weave woven together through spellcasting, or the “knots” of the Weave in a magic item. A magic item appears enmeshed in the silvery-blue threads of the Weave, and the way the threads are arranged reveals what type of magic is used (necromancy, abjuration, and so on). Similarly, active spells and areas imbued with magic are limned in a silvery network of threads, which might twist and reknit themselves depending on the magic involved. ***Dispel Magic.*** Dispel magic unwinds and prematurely ends magic, unraveling whatever construct of the Weave was put in place. ***Antimagic.*** Antimagic effects can dispel existing spells and unravel any magic woven from the Weave. Permanent effects, such as those from magic items, are usually suppressed by antimagic: while the effect is within an area of antimagic, the construct of the Weave unravels, but the threads snap back into place once the magic is outside the area. ***Dead Magic.*** In rare areas of dead magic, the Weave is absent. Not only do spells and magic items cease to function, but even the supernatural abilities of creatures innately tied to the Weave might fail as the knot of the Weave they carry unravels. ***Wild Magic.*** In an area of wild magic, the Weave becomes “tangled,” spontaneously forming its own constructs and resulting magic. It also tends to twist the constructs of the Weave created by spellcasting, causing unexpected results. #### Magic Items Where a spell effect is brought to life by manipulating the threads of the Weave, creating a magic item ties some of those threads together in a specific way to produce the desired effect for as long as the item lasts. The Weave provides immediately available energy for spells and also enables those who know the craft to harness that energy inside an object until it is called forth by its user (who, of course, need not be a spellcaster). In some cases, the magic of an item must be tied to its wielder, representing an entwining of the threads of the Weave between the wielder and the object, known as attunement. As with all matters related to magic, the number of items to which a single being can be attuned is limited, but the benefits of such a relationship can be considerable. ## :: Coinage & Currency Coins come in a bewildering variety of shapes, sizes, and materials, minted worldwide. Because such a variety of coins are in circulation, most people use whatever coinage passes by. A coin’s value is expressed in the weight of the precious metal of which it is made. The current standard is: * 10 Nibs or copper pieces (cp) = 1 silver piece (sp) * 10 Shards or silvers or 100 coppers = 1 gold piece (gp) * 10 Dragons gold pieces = 1 Sun or platinum piece (pp) * 2 lb. Trade Bar = 100 Dragons or gold pieces (gp) Coins are not the only form of hard currency. Many merchants prefer to use trade bars, which are ingots of precious metals and alloys stamped or graven with the symbol of the trading coster or government that crafted them. ## :: Adventuring Charters By definition, adventurers are well-armed and magically capable beings. They are incredibly dangerous to their enemies - and not always healthy even for their friends to be around. Still, most residents are well-disposed toward adventurers of good intent. They know that such people live daily with risks they would never be willing to face themselves. Adventurers who pledge allegiance to a ruler or country whose attitudes coincide with their own can gain an adventuring charter that grants legitimacy and the protection of a powerful patron. Chartered adventurers are considered officers of the realm they serve, given some powers of arrest, and granted protection against the interference of local lords, as guaranteed by the terms of their charter.