ith today's paperback release of Bury Elminster Deep, Ed Greenwood reveals some shocking developments in the world of the Forgotten Realms... with an eye on what's coming next in August's Elminster Enraged. This seems like a good opportunity to talk a little bit about Ed, Elminster, and the Forgotten Realms—and how they all interrelate.
The Makings of the Realms
Just about every fan of the Forgotten Realms knows that the Realms wouldn't exist without the fertile imagination of Ed Greenwood, who dreamed them up as a setting for the stories he wrote when he was six years old. That makes the Realms older than Dungeons & Dragons itself, but once Ed got his hands on the D&D rules, the connection became obvious. Since TSR published the first Forgotten Realms Campaign Set in 1987, Ed has written or contributed to 4 different versions of the campaign setting, at least 10 full-length adventures, something like 18 novels, more than two dozen rules and setting sourcebooks—and then there are the magazine articles, website articles, comic books, and so on. In a very real sense, Ed is the Forgotten Realms. (In October, be sure to check out Ed Greenwood Presents Elminster's Forgotten Realms for a glimpse into what the Realms looks like in Ed's own game—and a mind-boggling look at just how fertile his imagination is!)
Recently I've seen petitions and strong arguments that Wizards should let Ed design the Forgotten Realms for the next edition of the game. I couldn't agree more, and some of that work is already under way. The Forgotten Realms has changed a lot in the last 25 years, and although there are major themes and ideas and flavors that haven't changed at all, in some ways the Realms has veered away from Ed's original vision. He's always been on board the Realms ship, but he hasn't always been at the rudder (to use his own metaphor), and we are rectifying that even as we speak. Keep your eyes out for some big announcements along those lines in the coming months.
Elminster and the Realms
Elminster is one of the characters that comes directly from Ed's mind, and through the years has served as Ed's voice in the Realms—and the Realms' voice in the pages of Dragon Magazine and many other publications. In Ed's games, Elminster is the eccentric old Sage of Shadowdale, who sometimes provides information to adventurers who come looking for it, but more often is much too busy with more important matters.
The Spellplague diminished Elminster's power (along with all the rest of Mystra's Chosen), but if you've been reading Ed's recent books you know he's still an awe-inspiring figure. Yes, he's still a tremendously powerful wizard, but that doesn't make lower-level adventurers insignificant in the world. While ordinary adventurers (including player characters as well as the protagonists of many other novels) are saving villages from the Zhentarim or slaying drow in the Underdark, Elminster is ensuring that the likes of Larloch and Manshoon aren't wreaking such great havoc on the world that all those smaller heroics are rendered moot. Without adventurers, the village would be overrun by the Zhents; without Elminster, there'd be no village to save.
Elminster's not the only one making a mark on the world. In every Forgotten Realms novel we publish, heroes change the world in both small ways and large. Maybe they're fighting crime in the streets and sewers of Westgate, or tangled up in the schemes of dragons using Waterdeep as a stake in their deadly games. They could be fighting off a demonic infestation or working to keep the drow from invading the world. And in the same way, every player character who's ever adventured in the Realms has left a mark on the world as well.
It's a blast to read about Elminster's incredible adventures. It's also a blast to play your own adventures in the Forgotten Realms—to foil the plots of the Cult of the Dragon or the Red Wizards of Thay, to make contact with hidden groups of Harpers or delve into ruins from ancient Delzoun, to chase a group of thugs through the streets of Waterdeep or run like mad from the watch through the very same streets. Ed Greenwood is the Realms. The pantheon of other authors writing in the Realms are also the Realms. And hey, you're the Realms as well. It's a huge world, too big for Elminster to save by himself.
He needs your help, now more than ever.