Candlekeep Forum
Candlekeep Forum
Home | Profile | Register | Active Topics | Active Polls | Members | Private Messages | Search | FAQ
Username:
Password:
Save Password
Forgot your Password?

 All Forums
 Forgotten Realms Journals
 General Forgotten Realms Chat
 Blog Link: Reminiscing on the Old Grey Box
 New Topic  New Poll New Poll
 Reply to Topic
 Printer Friendly
Author Previous Topic Topic Next Topic  

Thauramarth
Senior Scribe

United Kingdom
729 Posts

Posted - 17 Sep 2009 :  12:52:19  Show Profile Send Thauramarth a Private Message  Reply with Quote  Delete Topic
I thought I'd mention this one: a post on James Maliszewski's blog: Retrospective: Forgotten Realms Campaign Set.

Brimstone
Great Reader

USA
3286 Posts

Posted - 17 Sep 2009 :  14:02:21  Show Profile Send Brimstone a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Interesting read.

"These things also I have observed: that knowledge of our world is
to be nurtured like a precious flower, for it is the most precious
thing we have. Wherefore guard the word written and heed
words unwritten and set them down ere they fade . . . Learn
then, well, the arts of reading, writing, and listening true, and they
will lead you to the greatest art of all: understanding."
Alaundo of Candlekeep
Go to Top of Page

Jorkens
Great Reader

Norway
2950 Posts

Posted - 17 Sep 2009 :  17:58:56  Show Profile Send Jorkens a Private Message  Reply with Quote
That's a great blog, always worth a read. Even though I don't always agree with him, James Maliszewski always have some interesting and good points. And a sense of proportions that is at times lacking when the development and history of D&D is concerned.
Go to Top of Page

Jorkens
Great Reader

Norway
2950 Posts

Posted - 17 Sep 2009 :  18:56:52  Show Profile Send Jorkens a Private Message  Reply with Quote
And now the blog has been updated with an interview of Ed.
Go to Top of Page

Faraer
Great Reader

3308 Posts

Posted - 17 Sep 2009 :  21:31:32  Show Profile  Visit Faraer's Homepage Send Faraer a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Things like this help to further disperse the cloud of noxious befuddlement the Realms' popularity spread over too many mainly sensible people, and to bridge too-insular online communities. (As an aside, people's reactions on learning basic facts of Realms publishing -- that it came before D&D, that Ed had lots of sword-and-sorcery influences, that it was TSR who pushed Elminster -- are interesting to observe, whether silence, pleased surprise, requests for references, or 'that can't be true' indignation.)

On matters of play style, James is refreshingly sane in his acknowledgement of difference. The point he seems puzzingly absolutist on is this:
quote:
a huge, wide-open setting drawn in broad strokes, just waiting for individual referees and players to fill in the details -- exactly what a good campaign setting should be
That's a good way for a published setting to be, but not the only one. James makes out lightness of setting to be an inherent 'old-school' trait, but often this wasn't philosophical but just contingent on the fact that there hadn't been time to publish much information yet, as in the case of complex worlds like Tékumel, Glorantha, and to an extent the World of Greyhawk, for which Gary Gygax meant to produce detailed expansions of the City, Wild Coast and other regions of Oerth and the planes.

I think his point about the Realms coming in large part out of play is very pertinent. His discussion of heroes and adventurers deserves carrying on at greater length. The Realms does more than any other D&D world to develop the role of adventurers in society at large and as a subculture. The protagonists it assumes are impure -- not exactly selfish marauders, Vanceian sociopaths, or altruistic high-fantasy heroes, but adventuring people -- and all the life- and danger- and treasure- and wander-lust that implies -- with a more or less strong compassionate and benevolent (generally chaotic good) streak. And the native mode of Realms storytelling is solidly picaresque -- TSR's epic trilogies are marginal, and simplistic fan notions of 'good guys' lined up against 'threats' quite foreign to it.

Edited by - Faraer on 17 Sep 2009 21:48:12
Go to Top of Page

Jorkens
Great Reader

Norway
2950 Posts

Posted - 18 Sep 2009 :  11:19:05  Show Profile Send Jorkens a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Part II of the interview has been posted now.
Go to Top of Page

Jorkens
Great Reader

Norway
2950 Posts

Posted - 19 Sep 2009 :  19:12:22  Show Profile Send Jorkens a Private Message  Reply with Quote
And now we have part III of the interview.
Go to Top of Page

David E
Seeker

USA
55 Posts

Posted - 21 Sep 2009 :  05:58:53  Show Profile  Visit David E's Homepage Send David E a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Faraer

And the native mode of Realms storytelling is solidly picaresque -- TSR's epic trilogies are marginal, and simplistic fan notions of 'good guys' lined up against 'threats' quite foreign to it.



I had to look up the definition of picaresque, but I can't think of a more appropriate way to describe the Realms. I certainly got that impression after reading Ed's novel "The Swords of Eveningstar."

I wonder - as fans, how can we recapture that "original" feeling that Ed describes in the interview?
Go to Top of Page

Jorkens
Great Reader

Norway
2950 Posts

Posted - 21 Sep 2009 :  09:08:32  Show Profile Send Jorkens a Private Message  Reply with Quote
The original feeling could never be anything else than the feeling that you got when first encountering the Realms. None of us know enough to recreate Ed's Realms correctly.

I enjoy going through the earliest Realms material, trying to piece together as much as possible of the "Greenwood" realms,adding information given here and in other interviews, but even that would be my impression of the same. And it would never be the Realms I used as that is influenced by myself, players and years of misunderstandings, change,and personal preferences.

Still, I will always daydream of the "Ed Greenwood's Realms" book (min.500 pages, small writing and black&white illustrations, all be Ed himself) that will never be published. Without any heavy rules or statts of course.
Go to Top of Page

Faraer
Great Reader

3308 Posts

Posted - 22 Sep 2009 :  08:48:33  Show Profile  Visit Faraer's Homepage Send Faraer a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by David E
I wonder - as fans, how can we recapture that "original" feeling that Ed describes in the interview?
Excellent question! In general terms, you have to start with both a clear idea of what Realmsness is, and of what aspects it's realistic to attempt to recreate in play and which are unrepeatable traits of Ed's imagination and the social dynamics of his player group.

Part of the Realms' quality is that characters' and players' feelings, experience, meanings and relationships get to flourish as what they are rather than for the sake of or subordinated to something else like metaplot, railroading, mechanical character advancement or optimization, memorized rule or setting books, novelistic structure and formula with its pat beginnings and endings, cruel and authoritarian governments, inflexible selfish ambition, subsumption into rigid thematic, religious or ideological schemes. Thus the playful, joyful, figuring-it-out-as-we-go-along quality of Realms adventuring. The Realms doesn't pretend those tyrannies don't exist: it accepts people's use of each other as instruments as the assumed background state of the world that needn't diminish the now of their lives. Equally, it proposes certain benevolent (somewhat idealized) forms of social, personal and magical vincula over anarchy, absolute personal autonomy, the self-begotten sociopathic-individualist orphan PC.

The means to play down these distractions, if they already exist, is going to vary a lot with individual DMs and their players. And this is just one major area -- Ed's replies contain a lot of DMing advice passim, for instance.

One of several questions implicitly posed by this interview is to what extent Ed's play style influenced, independently coincided with, and differed from those which became implicit during the 1990s at TSR. For instance, one poster to James's blog (who's previously fixated on occasional interventions by Elminster in play over far more prevalent and important features of Ed's campaigns) thinks that 'his style became the standard for D&D in the '90s'. This, surely, at the very least overstates the case, because in many ways the story of Realms publishing is precisely a struggle between Ed's style (helped by like-minded, mostly freelance allies) and the editorial and publishing practices at TSR. What do you guys think?
Go to Top of Page

Jorkens
Great Reader

Norway
2950 Posts

Posted - 22 Sep 2009 :  15:42:33  Show Profile Send Jorkens a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I think it would be to give Ed far to much power to think the direction of D&D in the 90's can be "blamed" on him. Dragonlance and general developments within gaming itself would be more likely candidates. As for the argument that the Realms were responsible for the power inflation, I never bought that. The Known World had its fair share of high-level character, with rules to support them, and I don't see that much complaints about that world.

I do think the Forgotten Realms Adventures sent the wrong signals, as it increased the number of named high-level characters (especially wizards) dramatically.

I think that Ed's Dragon articles did have an influence on how the articles were written for that magazine though, with the ecologies and backgrounds being given to items, spells etc.
Go to Top of Page

Delzounblood
Senior Scribe

United Kingdom
578 Posts

Posted - 23 Sep 2009 :  10:23:14  Show Profile Send Delzounblood a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I am lucky to say I have a NM Grey Box, (I even keep it in a bigger solid box so it does not squash) I have always prefered the early Realms 1e and 2e and now thats all I play though I have backwards converted some 3e material.

Interesting blog.

Things progress not always for the better but just because things change don't mean I have too.
The realms I took from those early days is what I still play near enough today. So it's not so much of recapturing the original feeling (as everyone will have there own) but continuing in that way.

Delz
Go to Top of Page

David E
Seeker

USA
55 Posts

Posted - 24 Sep 2009 :  08:07:22  Show Profile  Visit David E's Homepage Send David E a Private Message  Reply with Quote
All of the ways in which Ed describes his "original" Realms sound decidedly "old-school" as James M. would define it: no railroading the PCs, letting the players dictate the pace and flow of the game, a complete lack of overarching metaplot, etc.

What's interesting, I think, is the inherent conflict between Ed's "down-to-earth," highly localized style of play, and the broad, minutely detailed world that was developed by Ed himself for his own campaign world. My impression of Ed's version of the Realms is that although it is strikingly different from the "official" version in some respects, it is no less detailed. Yet almost all of his adventures were set in the Western Heartlands.

With such a huge and interesting world in which to build a campaign, it would be very tempting to create adventures in which the PCs must travel throughout the world, foiling the machinations of villains as varied as the Red Wizards and the Kraken Society. I find it intriguing, then, that Ed for the most part seems to have refrained from doing so.
Go to Top of Page

Faraer
Great Reader

3308 Posts

Posted - 24 Sep 2009 :  12:19:42  Show Profile  Visit Faraer's Homepage Send Faraer a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Of course, 'old school' can be defined as narrowly (Gary Gygax's campaign in the mid-70s) or widely (how people played D&D before 1989 -- or 2001) as one likes. I think a combination of coherence and ambiguity has strengthened the current revival.

Certainly the continent maps and A–Z overviews of Faerūn have led many authors or players to span it glibly in their imaginations, games and plots, but I don't know it tempted Ed, when there's so much variation (if you zoom in enough, and don't overgeneralize from the overview) between two Zhents. The detail and texture is local (and yes, far exceeds what's seen print), which is why the Shadowdale appendix and the run-through of the Year of the Worm and the Year of the Prince are crucial parts of the original set (c.f. discussion of 'bull's-eye' and top-down worldbuilding in Gary's DMG).
Go to Top of Page

Thauramarth
Senior Scribe

United Kingdom
729 Posts

Posted - 24 Sep 2009 :  20:46:56  Show Profile Send Thauramarth a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Although now the entire continent of Faerūn (as published) is pretty well-known to all FR buyers and followers, my impression was always that the Western Heartlands were where Big Ed developed the most detail, and, in particular, the Dalelands, Cormyr, and Waterdeep and environs. Big Ed's style seems to be based on feeding the players and the characters a lot of detailed and developed information on their surroundings.

I would think that those immediate surroundings were what gets the most details, and that far-off places and powers were (comparatively speaking) less "broad, minutely detailed". I think that, for instance, the Red Wizards were thoroughly detailed (even though they are far removed from the Heartlands), because you do not have to go to Thay to meet a Red Wizard, they come to the Dalelands (because they are an expansionist, plotting lot, who have to leave homebase to cool their heels for a while on a very regular basis). The Thayvians, although not part of the Heartlands proper, would be detailed because they play a large role in the immediate surroundings of the player characters by trying to invade their turf, steal their magic, or carry them off as slaves. Or maybe just because two rival factions happen to fight it out in their backyard. So, why go to Thay when Thay comes to you? For the same reason, the farmers of Murghom might be less detailed, because the chances of the farmers of Murghom coming to the Heartlands are lower.

Plus, Big Ed's long-running campaigns were player-centric, from what I understand - Ed did not so much create adventurers as establish the surroundings, let the players do their thing, and get the adventures to flow from that (which is James M's definition of Old School - create an environment, drop the player characters in, and let them do their thing, without the need for a given outcome or even a plot). The players set the pace and the setting, and if you have players that are more interested in immersing themselves thoroughly in a limited locale, as seems to be the case, then the campaign simply does not move on to go and foil everybody's else's machinations.
Go to Top of Page

Faraer
Great Reader

3308 Posts

Posted - 25 Sep 2009 :  11:33:51  Show Profile  Visit Faraer's Homepage Send Faraer a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Yes, that's the pattern of detailing as I understand it.

Has anyone else noticed that the currently voguish term 'sandbox' implies, and often accompanies, a passive, reactive playground-like environment rather than the active, would-keep-going-without-the-PCs world the Realms led within D&D?
Go to Top of Page

Jorkens
Great Reader

Norway
2950 Posts

Posted - 25 Sep 2009 :  16:37:07  Show Profile Send Jorkens a Private Message  Reply with Quote
When I see it being used is rarely clearly defined. At times it seems like the term is used with not much thought at all, except as a way of saying that the DM has some leeway.

All the settings are "sandboxes" so to speak, as long as that is what the people involved want to use. There are of course the players mentioned as horror stories, who baulk at any idea not Canon, but I hope these are rare. I would probably leave the DM chair to the person in question at once, if I ever encountered one of them.
Go to Top of Page

Mr_Miscellany
Senior Scribe

545 Posts

Posted - 25 Sep 2009 :  17:17:04  Show Profile Send Mr_Miscellany a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Not that I've noticed.

The term hardly connotes "waiting for players/gamers to do something" in its current proper usage.
Go to Top of Page

Wooly Rupert
Master of Mischief
Moderator

USA
36784 Posts

Posted - 25 Sep 2009 :  17:25:12  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I prefer the term playground, myself.

A playground is an area with some equipment suggesting particular usages and/or modes of play, but with everything else left open. When I was a kid, I delighted in running up the slide or climbing the poles that supported the swings. I would twist a swing as much as I could, lay in it on my stomach, and let it twirl me around as the chains unwound from each other. One day the jungle gym was just something to climb. The next day it was a house. The day after it was the Millenium Falcon. And then it was a fort...

And that's how a good RPG setting should be. You have some areas that are defined, some that aren't, and you're free to use any or all of it however you will, so long as you're having fun.

Candlekeep Forums Moderator

Candlekeep - The Library of Forgotten Realms Lore
http://www.candlekeep.com
-- Candlekeep Forum Code of Conduct

I am the Giant Space Hamster of Ill Omen!
Go to Top of Page

The Sage
Procrastinator Most High

Australia
31701 Posts

Posted - 26 Sep 2009 :  00:02:46  Show Profile Send The Sage a Private Message  Reply with Quote
So long as the world has enough room for creative types to mould and shape according to their own whims, I'm happy. Thankfully, the Realms has always incorporated this element into its make-up.

Having said that, I don't particularly mind the term "playgound" either. But it's not what I'd usually use.

Candlekeep Forums Moderator

Candlekeep - The Library of Forgotten Realms Lore
http://www.candlekeep.com
-- Candlekeep Forum Code of Conduct

Scribe for the Candlekeep Compendium -- Volume IX now available (Oct 2007)

"So Saith Ed" -- the collected Candlekeep replies of Ed Greenwood

Zhoth'ilam Folio -- The Electronic Misadventures of a Rambling Sage
Go to Top of Page

Jorkens
Great Reader

Norway
2950 Posts

Posted - 26 Sep 2009 :  12:08:03  Show Profile Send Jorkens a Private Message  Reply with Quote
One could use the argument that a playground is finished formed area where you can play with your imagination, whilst a sandbox is nothing until you start forming it into something with your imagination. Therefore there are clearer limits put on the use of the area in a playground than a sandbox. I can see why some people would prefer that, but on the other hand, if it is that much of a problem, why then make use of a pre-made setting at all? I do thing that in some ways it became a bit to much lore and details in the late 2ed. for me to make use of, but then I just pick and choose. No one is forcing me to make use of every, single idea, unless canon is though to be some sort of divine being.
Go to Top of Page

Quale
Master of Realmslore

1757 Posts

Posted - 26 Sep 2009 :  16:46:52  Show Profile Send Quale a Private Message  Reply with Quote
yesterday I asked Ed something and he used ''sandbox''

http://www.loremaster.org/ed-greenwood/
Go to Top of Page

Thauramarth
Senior Scribe

United Kingdom
729 Posts

Posted - 27 Sep 2009 :  09:56:05  Show Profile Send Thauramarth a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I say To-MA-to, you say TO-ma-to, another says Sandbox, and yet another says Playground ...

Looking back in retrospect - I loved the way in which the Realms were detailed, but my favorite area of play has always been the Waterdeep-Daggerford area, with extensions into the Savage Frontier and the Western Heartlands. So on that level, I feel Wooly's view...
quote:
Originally posted by Wooly Rupert
You have some areas that are defined, some that aren't, and you're free to use any or all of it however you will, so long as you're having fun.


... corresponds to my view. In that area, I loved the colossal amount of detail on Waterdeep and Daggerford (even i AD&D 1e, in N5-Under Illefarn), with a lot of relatively "empty" space around it to fill in.

That way, on the one hand, I have a lot of ready-to-use and detailed areas at hand, and on the other hand, I could place the huge number of villages that are so prevalent in many adventure modules. With Waterdeep, I have a reason for all of Faerūn to come through the adventurer's habitat, rather than have the adventurers skit all across the world like travelling salesmen raking in the Frequent Teleporter Miles. Plus, almost any adventure that's set in a big city can be almost directly set in Waterdeep...
Go to Top of Page

Faraer
Great Reader

3308 Posts

Posted - 17 Jun 2010 :  03:14:30  Show Profile  Visit Faraer's Homepage Send Faraer a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Latest Grognardia Post About the Realms -- Not About the Realms

(And yes, the 'sandbox' thing, though it's sometimes used more loosely, correlates with what Wizards called 'site-based' play, tending toward exploration of places on a map, as distinguished from 'event-based', and the Realms' principal approach -- not labelled by Wizards and not well represented in Realms scenarios -- 'character-based'.)
Go to Top of Page

froglegg
Learned Scribe

317 Posts

Posted - 17 Jun 2010 :  04:06:48  Show Profile Send froglegg a Private Message  Reply with Quote
The Old Grey Box. You had me at hello.

John

Long live Alias and Dragonbait! Kate Novak and Jeff Grubb the Realms need you more then ever!

On my word as a sage nothing within these pages is false, but not all of it may prove to be true. - Elminster of Shadowdale

The Old Grey Box gets better with age!
Go to Top of Page
  Previous Topic Topic Next Topic  
 New Topic  New Poll New Poll
 Reply to Topic
 Printer Friendly
Jump To:
Candlekeep Forum © 1999-2024 Candlekeep.com Go To Top Of Page
Snitz Forums 2000