Forever Fantasy: The Forgotten Realms MMOG Dream
This seems to be the year of "What IP will be turned into an MMOG
and their mother has been jumping on this dog
pile recently and I have to admit, I couldn't resist doing the same
this week. Of all the ideas being batted about I can't believe no one
has mentioned the href="http://forgottenrealms.wikia.com/wiki/Main_Page"
Realms setting. Is it because href="http://tentonhammer.com/ddo" target="_blank">Dungeons
& Dragons Online hasn't been the raving success geeks
the world hoped it would be? Perhaps, but if so, that's like saying
BioWare's upcoming target="_blank">Star
Wars: The Old Republic has no chance of being a
success because of the turbulent history of Star Wars Galaxies.
Players and industry insiders alike are always talking about how an
MMOG has to have a fully realized setting to be a success. It has to
have a sense of history, solid lore, and unless you want to count on
hitting a miraculous fluke by creating an original world, you'd also
better be sure the IP you’re using has href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/62152" target="_blank">an
following. If you take all these things into consideration
hard pressed to find a more popular setting for a game than the
Before the collapse of TSR and the subsequent revival by Wizards of the
Coast, there was one last hurrah for Dungeons & Dragons in the
form of the most popular campaign setting ever devised - The Forgotten
Realms. Published in 1987, it marked a high point in the game's history
and has met with far greater success than its creators could have ever
The Forgotten Realms may have been inked out and gathered into a
campaign boxed set in 1987, but Ed Greenwood originally created the
Realms for his personal D&D campaign over a decade prior in
1975. Twelve years of gaming and play testing is a long time to create
a mind blowing amount of lore and history for a world, never mind the
fact that Ed continues to run his campaign to this day.
For years, he also wrote a number of articles for Dragon magazine in
which he was visited by Elminster, a mage of unimaginable power from
the land of Abeir-Toril, to learn the secrets of undiscovered spells
and ancient artifacts. href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/62142" target="_blank">The
geeky among us remember those articles
with something approaching reverence. With more style than I'll ever
possess, Ed brought Elminster into the land of the living and a new
Golden Age of fantasy was born. To this day, Spellfire is one of my
favorite books. And Ed's writing wasn't the only reason the Forgotten
Realms exploded onto the world like a 250 megaton nuke.
not whining, is there a cooler character?
In the spring of 1988, a little known author by the name of
Salvatore released a book (the first of many set within the
entitled The Crystal Shard. The world of fantasy has never been the
same with the birth of Drizzt Do'Urden and we've been tortured with
every possible iteration of that name in every MMOG since. Along with a
string of books detailing the origin and exploits of Drizzt and his
friends, R.A. also penned the Menzoberranzan boxed set, visualizing the
famous Dark Elf city. In it, he fleshed out the Dark Elf culture in
more detail than ever before, complete with its intricate political
structure, every geek-loving statistic needed for Dark Elf characters,
and the driving force behind their fanatical religion driven city, the
Spider Queen, Lothe.
People of all ages have been playing Dungeons & Dragons for
over thirty years and it would be a crime to ignore the potential of
such a powerful fan base. Sixty million pizzas plus one hundred and
twenty million cans of Mountain Dew equals a staggering number of geeks
begging for the chance to relive their favorite memories. The argument
can be made that this has already been tried, but aside from creating a
nearly completely instanced world, Dungeons & Dragons Online
also made a mistake in choosing to use the newly conceived campaign
setting of target="_blank">Eberron.
Herein lies another critical reason why DDO was destined to face an
uphill battle straight out of the gate. Aside from the number crunching
mechanics behind the classes, races, and combat of Dungeons &
Dragons, there was nothing familiar enough in the world of Eberron to
hold the interest of the average D&D player. The setting was
too new, too little was known about it, and to be frank, it wasn't the
setting fans wanted to play in.
We've been reading, dreaming, and arguing about everything within the
Forgotten Realms for over twenty years; now give us the chance to play
there. I want to explore the dungeons of Undermountain, engage in
political intrigue in the city of Waterdeep, and brave the horrors of
the Underdark. There are more places to see and trouble to get into
than most people can imagine, and they've all been discussed in great
detail for years. All this just covers the background of the Realms as
it stands today, let alone the staggering possibilities for adventures
that have yet to be realized.
EverQuest chose to involve the gods and goddesses of Norrath with the
players, even directly interfering and changing the scope of the lands
in its earlier years. A Forgotten Realms MMOG could take this concept
to the next level and precipitate more conflict than any developer
could ask for by recreating the Time of Troubles. The gods had been
forced to walk the land in their avatar forms, but without the safety
of a body back in their home realms. Gods and goddesses died, while
some mortals rose to power, taking their place. Imagine a system in
which each year, a select few players could ascend to godhood through
trials and exploits or simple luck. The new god characters could reside
on their chosen plane, still interacting with the world in avatar form,
putting them at risk as well. Tell me the opportunity to become a god
or goddess wouldn't drive even non-D&D fans to the game.
I think the possibility to play a truly evil character would be the
final step necessary to solidify their base of players. I'm tired of
playing "evil" races that whine and cry and are about href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/wow/guides/classes/deathknight"
Gargamel. Give me a character and let me actually *be* evil.
Forgotten Realms has multiple races that would be perfect for such an
endeavor. Not only are there various races readily available, but
cities and nefarious undergrounds already created and detailed beyond
belief, all just waiting for the chance to be realized in a three
dimensional world. The premise and execution of such characters has
been noted and categorized in great depth throughout numerous Forgotten
Realms source books (as well as novels), so the creation of these
aspects should not prove traumatic to the soul of any potential
There's a reason the Forgotten Realms setting has endured so well and
continues to expand its history and future. I talk about it all the
time, but until publishers realize that it’s an honest sense
of depth in a game that keeps players engaged for years on end, MMOG's
will never realize their full potential. Talk about your Halo, Harry
Potter, and Fallout MMOG dreams until you're blue in the face, but they
just can't compare. The Forgotten Realms is bursting at the seams with
all the lore, content, and fans any company could wish for so I have
just one last question... Why am I still waiting?
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