Episode 20: Forgotten Realms, or Thay Was Cool Until I Blew It Up 4

In the first of our series on campaign settings, we talk with author Richard Lee Byers on Faerun and the Forgotten Realms. Join us at the table in the corner as we talk about all the different aspects of the setting and why it’s one of the most popular campaign settings ever written.

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This Episode of Gamer’s Tavern brought to you by:

Audible, the #1 source of audio books on the internet

Accused, the Dark Fantasy RPG from Melior Via

Our Guest: Richard Lee Byers

Amazon Page

Forgotten Realms The Reaver: The Sundering Book IV

The Vestival at Glenelg (Accursed Novella)

Airlock Alpha



What We’re Playing

Darryl – Shadowrun 4th Ed, Game Table

Richard – Carrion Crown, Elder Sign, Hex Hex

Ross – Accursed


Tonight’s Topic: Forgotten Realms

Sean Patrick Fannon’s Fantasy Roleplaying Gamer’s Bible

Volo’s Guides

Ed Greenwood




The Harpers

Nice Job Breaking It, Hero (WARNING: TV Tropes Link!)

Forgotten Realms Comic Book

Baldur’s Gate

Neverwinter Nights

Homeland by R.A. Salvatore

Dissolution: War of the Spider Queen Book I by Richard Lee Byers


Time of Troubles



Bloodstone Lands

Under Illefarn

Haunted Halls of Eveningstar

D&D Encounters

Lords of Waterdeep

The Gamer’s Tavern podcast is licensed under a CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 license. “Time Goes By” by Melodic in Fusion and “Artemis” by Aesma Dava are licensed under a CC BY-SA 3.0 and 2.5 license, respectively. “Tavern Brawl (Demo)” by Save or Die Copyright 2013, all rights reserved, used with permission.
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4 thoughts on “Episode 20: Forgotten Realms, or Thay Was Cool Until I Blew It Up

  • Cory Gilman

    Okay so before I go negative, allow me to say that I recently started listening to your podcast and over the last couple of weeks I have been working my way through your past podcasts. I have been enjoying myself listening to you podcast.

    Now on to the negative.

    I am so fucking sick and tired of hearing about the “Elminster Syndrome” and here is why. The problem is not Elminster or Harlequin or Lofwyr or any of these characters, EVER. The problem lies either with the GM/DM who brings them into play in a poor manner or the player who decides to not do anything because “Elminster could fix that.” These characters don’t ruin anything, ever, the people who bring them into the wrong situation do.

    Seriously, this shit pisses me right off. Everytime, I hear someone whine about how Elminster(or any other NPC) ruined their game and how stupid the character is as a result, I just want to scream.

    Okay so that rant is done for now. I was listening to that section of the podcast on my drive home from work and lost part of my argument but whatever, I just needed to get that out there.

    I do believe that NPCs like Elminster and Harlequin can be used in ways that remind players that they are not the biggest kid on the playground, but that it must be in small doses.

    I both played through and GMed the Harlequin adventure sequence. I loved it both times. When events happened that took away my player agency towards the end, I was enthralled. That reminder of my characters place in the universe helped make that game and every Shadowrun game I have played since feel more real for me. Note, that is real as in immersive not real as in I believe I can throw magic around.

    I have also experienced the negative version of this. It ended a 7th Sea campaign I was part of. It is all about how it is done and timing.

    Next negative thing, sort of, I wanted to comment on the fallacious idea that Game Companies filling out every corner of the game world somehow limits what GMs can do. You suggested, both in this episode and in a previous episode, while talking about White Wolf, that once an area of the game world was “filled in” by official content that GMs could no longer do what they wanted there, that somehow they were limited in their ability to tell their own stories. This idea bothers me. No one from the Gaming Companies is coming to your home and making you play the game their way. White Wolf commented on their forums and other places many times that they did not have squads of Ninjas out roaming the world to punish GMs that ran the game “wrong.” The simple fact is that those Guidebooks provide a starting point for people, something that GMs can riff off of.

    Darryl has commented about some of his players being whiny bitches many times, who if you diverged even slightly from what was in some obscure sourcebook somewhere would try to tell you how wrong you were. The problem there is not the sourcebook. It never is. The problem is the player.

    Sometime GMs set up false expectations and then I think the problem lies with the GM. If you say you are running a Forgotten Realms campaign and then make vast sweeping changes to how the campaign setting works then I think you have engaged in a bait and switch. That is unfair to your players. Note, I am not meaning to suggest that this is what Darryl did, nor is that my impression. I am just covering as many bases as I can think of.

    Any way I have gone off long enough. Again I want to say that despite my explosion of negativity above I truly enjoy listening to your podcast.

    • Abstruse Post author

      Wow, that is a long comment. I think we addressed many of the points you made in the podcast (not sure if you paused it and didn’t get that far or if we didn’t touch on those exact notes). And while I see your point, I don’t agree with it entirely. I’m a huge Harlequin fan, but he and the other IEs in Shadowrun as well as the Great Dragons have to be used carefully by the DM. It’s like time travel or a party participating in a massive battle or using an ancient powerful artifact – It can be done if your GM and players are skilled enough, but it’s done so poorly so often that it’s become an issue. You’ll see the same sort of point discussed when you get to our episode on Kender, Malkavians, etc.

      • Cory Gilman

        Just to clarify. I totally agree with what you said in your reply.
        “I’m a huge Harlequin fan, but he and the other IEs in Shadowrun as well as the Great Dragons have to be used carefully by the DM. ”

        So I maybe wasn’t as clear as I intended to be.

        Also I did pause and am just now listening to the rest of this episode.

  • Cory Gilman

    Just wanted to say Abstruse, in the episode when you are trying to remember a city with wizards doing crazy experiments, were you trying to remember the Harpells of Longsaddle?