Timeline, retcons, and the old Grey Box...

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Timeline, retcons, and the old Grey Box...

Post by barrataria » Sun Oct 14, 2018 9:49 pm

Hi all, pardon the ignorant question but I am messing about with some ideas for trying out 5E (I haven't tried a WoTC game since 3E, and I barely messed with that...) and have been floundering about in FR lore.

Rather than try to absorb metric tons of material, I'm thinking of doing a "back to the future" type campaign as I did to avoid the Star Wars EU canon messes. I'm thinking of limiting myself to the old grey box (which I have and am sort of familiar with) and Baldurs' Gate and Pool of Radiance materials. I'd set things somewhere back in 1340-50 or so, so I can use my grey box info more or less and be free of all the WoTC/2E/3E impedimenta that happened in the meantime. Anyway, on to the dumb queries...

1. I am getting from various timelines that the Baldur's Gate game starts in 1368 DR (and that seems to have been retconned by the novelization from some other date, which I haven't been able to figure out). Is it generally accepted by non-violent FR fans that 1368 is the right year for the game?

2. I'll be running this, if I ever get it together, for people that know little or nothing about FR. But for real FR fans/scholars (which I assume read and post here) is there some huge defect in this kind of approach? I have never had any problems with my SW alternate timeline/reality campaigns so I figure that will be the same here, especially if I run small-scale adventures along the lines of "Under Illefarn". But I'm curious if there's some future developments or retcons (for example, with dragonborn/tieflings etc) that I'd be foolish to miss out on or should definitely add back?

Thanks for reading, sorry it's a bit of a stream of consciousness but I trust you all have similar scattered thoughts when you are pencilling out a new campaign :D

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Re: Timeline, retcons, and the old Grey Box...

Post by Zeromaru X » Sun Oct 14, 2018 11:27 pm

1. Yes, as far as I know, that is the year the game takes place.

2. No problem at all. I know plenty of people who does that, they ignored pretty much all of the changes of the Realms in 4e. I myself also do the same, but with the changes of the Realms in 5e. I know other people that only plays in 2e... so, play in the time period you like the most.

If you need help with dragonborn and tieflings, I have some ideas that can be of help to you:

-For tieflings, you can use the Planescape solution: they are planetouched. You can use the Unearthed Arcana about tiefling variants for different kind of tieflings. Or, you can also retcon the Ritual of Asmodeus to have happened at least 20 years before your campaign, and so use tieflings as they are in 5e.

(In the canon Realms, a warlock coven known as the Toril Thirteen performed a ritual in 1358 DR that cursed most tiefling lineages—those of demons, devils, hags, and rakshasas, among others—with the "blood of Asmodeus", changing their original lineage with that of the archdevil himself. This was done to make Asmodeus a "racial god", ensuring him enough followers to attain godly powers. After the Spellplague of 1385 DR, when Asmodeus became a god, the magic of the ritual took effect across all of Toril and afterwards most tieflings living in the 15th century DR were of the Asmodean lineage, all having a similar devilish appearance).

-For dragonborn, you can say that there is a portal to Abeir (Toril's sister world, that exist in a parallel dimension where gods do not exist, and the world was governed by elemental titans until their dragon slaves toppled them; this is the native world of the dragonborn in FR) near Baldur's Gate, for your occasional dragonborn player, and so you can use dragonborn as they are in 5e. Or, use the dragonborn of Bahamut (that you can get lore in Races of Dragon and Dragons of Faerun sourcebooks). However, all dragonborn of Bahamut are of the metallic lineage.

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Re: Timeline, retcons, and the old Grey Box...

Post by Big Mac » Mon Oct 15, 2018 12:32 am

barrataria wrote:
Sun Oct 14, 2018 9:49 pm
Hi all, pardon the ignorant question but I am messing about with some ideas for trying out 5E (I haven't tried a WoTC game since 3E, and I barely messed with that...) and have been floundering about in FR lore.

Rather than try to absorb metric tons of material, I'm thinking of doing a "back to the future" type campaign as I did to avoid the Star Wars EU canon messes. I'm thinking of limiting myself to the old grey box (which I have and am sort of familiar with) and Baldurs' Gate and Pool of Radiance materials. I'd set things somewhere back in 1340-50 or so, so I can use my grey box info more or less and be free of all the WoTC/2E/3E impedimenta that happened in the meantime. Anyway, on to the dumb queries...
I don't think you should ever have to apologise for wanting to learn stuff about Forgotten Realms. The whole point of having a community is so that we can learn from each other.

And The Piazza is a "nobadwrongfun" place, so by definition a grey box/Baldur's Gate mashup is an OK topic. You have "set out your stall" so people should understand that you are not using 3e and most 2e sources, and not spend a lot of time giving you a bunch of advice that doesn't help. :)
barrataria wrote:
Sun Oct 14, 2018 9:49 pm
1. I am getting from various timelines that the Baldur's Gate game starts in 1368 DR (and that seems to have been retconned by the novelization from some other date, which I haven't been able to figure out). Is it generally accepted by non-violent FR fans that 1368 is the right year for the game?
I don't know myself, but I checked out the Baldur's Gate article on Baldur's Gate WIki to see if it had a date. It doesn't, but maybe one of the other pages over there will help you.

The Baldur's Gate article on Forgotten Realms Wiki has some dates in it, but I'm not sure they cover what you want.

There is also a Baldur's Gate article on Living Forgotten Realms Wiki, but that is probably going to be least useful to you. Living Forgotten Realms was set in the 4th Edition Era, so is well after the timeperiod that you are interested in. But it mentions the past, so maybe some of it will be useful (or rebootable).
barrataria wrote:
Sun Oct 14, 2018 9:49 pm
2. I'll be running this, if I ever get it together, for people that know little or nothing about FR. But for real FR fans/scholars (which I assume read and post here) is there some huge defect in this kind of approach? I have never had any problems with my SW alternate timeline/reality campaigns so I figure that will be the same here, especially if I run small-scale adventures along the lines of "Under Illefarn". But I'm curious if there's some future developments or retcons (for example, with dragonborn/tieflings etc) that I'd be foolish to miss out on or should definitely add back?

Thanks for reading, sorry it's a bit of a stream of consciousness but I trust you all have similar scattered thoughts when you are pencilling out a new campaign :D
If your friends know little to nothing about Forgotten Realms, this is going to be the best introduction they get to FR. :)

Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide has a small section about Baldur's Gate. I'm not sure it gives a lot of things to reboot, as I'm not too up on what the city was like before.

What I think you should look out for is a list of Living Forgotten Realms adventures set in Baldur's Gate. Some of the LFR adventures are still online, so they might give you options that you can reboot for your game.

BTW: If you want to make it feel like any of your changes are closer to the grey box version of Forgotten Realms, don't forget that the Realms has portals to all sorts of other worlds. If you want to bring in Tiefligs, they can be stranded planewalkers and if you want to bring in dragonbord they can come from another world. (You could even say that dragonborn have come over from a planet called Abeir and give your game a bit of Spellplague foreshadowing.)

Good luck!
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Re: Timeline, retcons, and the old Grey Box...

Post by barrataria » Mon Oct 15, 2018 1:28 am

Zeromaru X wrote:
Sun Oct 14, 2018 11:27 pm
If you need help with dragonborn and tieflings, I have some ideas that can be of help to you:
Thanks for the advice generally and the specific suggestions. I'll be going back through the grey box to figure out which, if any, races I might want to stick in there, maybe after a walk through the 2E humanoids and nonhuman deities splatbooks. In general I want to keep things simple for now, I am thinking that at this point in the "good old days" dragonmen and tieflings will be seen as monsters if they just wander down the street somewhere.

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Re: Timeline, retcons, and the old Grey Box...

Post by barrataria » Mon Oct 15, 2018 1:57 am

Big Mac wrote:
Mon Oct 15, 2018 12:32 am
I don't think you should ever have to apologise for wanting to learn stuff about Forgotten Realms. The whole point of having a community is so that we can learn from each other.
Thanks for that, I landed over here for a reason as it's a lot easier to discuss things if everyone isn't sniping at every post :D And I don't want to learn TOO much because I'm lazy and because I like the tone of the grey box a lot.
Big Mac wrote:
Mon Oct 15, 2018 12:32 am
I don't know myself, but I checked out the Baldur's Gate article on Baldur's Gate WIki to see if it had a date. It doesn't, but maybe one of the other pages over there will help you.
Thanks, I've been trolling the BG game wiki and the FR wiki a fair bit, and finding useful tidbits, seems to be plenty to fill a sandbox in the area east of Candlekeep and down to the border with Amn. One of my master schemes is to cheat with the game maps for the small towns, they have most of the necessary destinations for play. Unless I figure out some reason to set it at or before Pool of Radiance (1340) I'll probably go with 1350, which is about 5 years before the box set.
Big Mac wrote:
Mon Oct 15, 2018 12:32 am
BTW: If you want to make it feel like any of your changes are closer to the grey box version of Forgotten Realms, don't forget that the Realms has portals to all sorts of other worlds. If you want to bring in Tiefligs, they can be stranded planewalkers and if you want to bring in dragonbord they can come from another world. (You could even say that dragonborn have come over from a planet called Abeir and give your game a bit of Spellplague foreshadowing.)
I'm probably more likely to call tieflings "alu-demons" and make them enemies :) but that's an interesting suggestion, not unlike what I do with Star Wars games, leaking in tidbits here and there that I really like without surrendering to the whole "canon". Once I get more comfortable with 5E I'm likely going to dial down the advancement rate quite a bit, so that will help play last in the sandbox longer than it might otherwise.

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Re: Timeline, retcons, and the old Grey Box...

Post by ripvanwormer » Mon Oct 15, 2018 4:48 am

The 2nd edition sourcebook Faces of Evil: The Fiends had it that tieflings had one quarter fiendish blood or less, so that the children that cambions and alu-demons (and other half-fiendish races) had with humans were tieflings.

If cambions and alu-demons exist in your world, I don't see why tieflings couldn't, though they may indeed be viewed as monsters by most natives of the Prime Material Plane. In 2nd edition they were associated with the planes and rarely encountered on the Prime. Also, their appearance varied wildly and their fiendish heritage wasn't always obvious.

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Re: Timeline, retcons, and the old Grey Box...

Post by Dread Delgath » Tue Oct 16, 2018 12:10 am

Welcome to the Piazza, barrataria, and good luck with your new "Grey Box" campaign. It is still my favorite FR campaign source for.... well, the Forgotten Realms! ;)

Nice take on tieflings too, btw - calling and treating them like alu-demons. They're my favorite race to play, and I thought 5e did a fair job of handling them, although I 4e gave them too much, and 2e Planescape not enough - although they were introduced there.

However, I like the fine definition in 5e sources that they're closer related to devils (Asmodeus) than demons, and the latest 5e sourcebook Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes seems to support that definition by delineating several devilish tiefling racial traits versus demonic cambions.
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Re: Timeline, retcons, and the old Grey Box...

Post by Big Mac » Sun Oct 21, 2018 3:34 pm

barrataria wrote:
Mon Oct 15, 2018 1:57 am
Big Mac wrote:
Mon Oct 15, 2018 12:32 am
I don't think you should ever have to apologise for wanting to learn stuff about Forgotten Realms. The whole point of having a community is so that we can learn from each other.
Thanks for that, I landed over here for a reason as it's a lot easier to discuss things if everyone isn't sniping at every post :D And I don't want to learn TOO much because I'm lazy and because I like the tone of the grey box a lot.
There really is no reason for people to not do a game with a cut-down Forgotten Realms.

Given that there is so much canon sources, your choices are to either wait 10 years, while you read it all...

...or get going, have some fun and - in the unlikely event that you find some cool stuff you wish you had included - add it in later.
barrataria wrote:
Mon Oct 15, 2018 1:57 am
Big Mac wrote:
Mon Oct 15, 2018 12:32 am
I don't know myself, but I checked out the Baldur's Gate article on Baldur's Gate WIki to see if it had a date. It doesn't, but maybe one of the other pages over there will help you.
Thanks, I've been trolling the BG game wiki and the FR wiki a fair bit, and finding useful tidbits, seems to be plenty to fill a sandbox in the area east of Candlekeep and down to the border with Amn. One of my master schemes is to cheat with the game maps for the small towns, they have most of the necessary destinations for play. Unless I figure out some reason to set it at or before Pool of Radiance (1340) I'll probably go with 1350, which is about 5 years before the box set.
I doubt most players would notice if you have some maps from one year and some maps from another year.

The main thing you have to watch out for is to not use mutually conflicting sources (like a 1e source that shows a city is somewhere and a 5e source that says it was destroyed 200 years ago).
barrataria wrote:
Mon Oct 15, 2018 1:57 am
Big Mac wrote:
Mon Oct 15, 2018 12:32 am
BTW: If you want to make it feel like any of your changes are closer to the grey box version of Forgotten Realms, don't forget that the Realms has portals to all sorts of other worlds. If you want to bring in Tiefligs, they can be stranded planewalkers and if you want to bring in dragonbord they can come from another world. (You could even say that dragonborn have come over from a planet called Abeir and give your game a bit of Spellplague foreshadowing.)
I'm probably more likely to call tieflings "alu-demons" and make them enemies :) but that's an interesting suggestion, not unlike what I do with Star Wars games, leaking in tidbits here and there that I really like without surrendering to the whole "canon". Once I get more comfortable with 5E I'm likely going to dial down the advancement rate quite a bit, so that will help play last in the sandbox longer than it might otherwise.
That works. :)

I don't think I would personally be using Tieflings in a non-Planescape game.
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Re: Timeline, retcons, and the old Grey Box...

Post by ghendar » Sun Oct 21, 2018 4:11 pm

barrataria wrote:
Sun Oct 14, 2018 9:49 pm
2. I'll be running this, if I ever get it together, for people that know little or nothing about FR. But for real FR fans/scholars (which I assume read and post here) is there some huge defect in this kind of approach? I have never had any problems with my SW alternate timeline/reality campaigns so I figure that will be the same here, especially if I run small-scale adventures along the lines of "Under Illefarn". But I'm curious if there's some future developments or retcons (for example, with dragonborn/tieflings etc) that I'd be foolish to miss out on or should definitely add back?
barrataria wrote:
Mon Oct 15, 2018 1:57 am
Big Mac wrote:
Mon Oct 15, 2018 12:32 am
I don't think you should ever have to apologise for wanting to learn stuff about Forgotten Realms. The whole point of having a community is so that we can learn from each other.
Thanks for that, I landed over here for a reason as it's a lot easier to discuss things if everyone isn't sniping at every post :D And I don't want to learn TOO much because I'm lazy and because I like the tone of the grey box a lot.
I love the grey box. It gives you enough detail to run things right out of the box but also leaves plenty of room for you to develop what you want. Some of the early FR supplements are also valuable. I really can't help regarding 5e as I don't and won't play it but starting in the time frame you mentioned previously should be fine. I also wouldn't sweat setting retcons done with later editions. This is your FR, not WotC FR. It would be foolish to feel obligated to add anything back. That way you can easily be lazy and not learn too much and make it your own. :D
Big Mac wrote:
Sun Oct 21, 2018 3:34 pm
The main thing you have to watch out for is to not use mutually conflicting sources (like a 1e source that shows a city is somewhere and a 5e source that says it was destroyed 200 years ago).
Of course, you can use whichever source you prefer but I really don't think that's a problem. After all, why should the 5e source override the 1e source?

Having said that, there are things in the 4e FR book that I like, which for anyone who knows me would say that's akin to heresy, :) but hey I like some of the post apocalyptic feel.
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Re: Timeline, retcons, and the old Grey Box...

Post by Cromstar » Tue Oct 23, 2018 12:13 am

Big Mac wrote:
Sun Oct 21, 2018 3:34 pm
The main thing you have to watch out for is to not use mutually conflicting sources (like a 1e source that shows a city is somewhere and a 5e source that says it was destroyed 200 years ago).
Soooooooo, should I throw out my Netheril, Empire of Magic box? :lol:

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Re: Timeline, retcons, and the old Grey Box...

Post by Dread Delgath » Tue Oct 23, 2018 6:07 pm

Cromstar wrote:
Tue Oct 23, 2018 12:13 am
Big Mac wrote:
Sun Oct 21, 2018 3:34 pm
The main thing you have to watch out for is to not use mutually conflicting sources (like a 1e source that shows a city is somewhere and a 5e source that says it was destroyed 200 years ago).
Soooooooo, should I throw out my Netheril, Empire of Magic box? :lol:
I always thought that every DM is allowed to pick & choose what they want in their campaign. If you like the Netheril boxes set, use it regardless of what any other conflicting source says. :geek:
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Re: Timeline, retcons, and the old Grey Box...

Post by Angel Tarragon » Tue Oct 23, 2018 10:21 pm

Dread Delgath wrote:
Tue Oct 23, 2018 6:07 pm
I always thought that every DM is allowed to pick & choose what they want in their campaign. If you like the Netheril boxes set, use it regardless of what any other conflicting source says. :geek:
This. Exactly this. It is up to each GM the make the Forgotten Realms their own.

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Re: Timeline, retcons, and the old Grey Box...

Post by Cromstar » Wed Oct 24, 2018 5:06 am

Dread Delgath wrote:
Tue Oct 23, 2018 6:07 pm
Cromstar wrote:
Tue Oct 23, 2018 12:13 am
Big Mac wrote:
Sun Oct 21, 2018 3:34 pm
The main thing you have to watch out for is to not use mutually conflicting sources (like a 1e source that shows a city is somewhere and a 5e source that says it was destroyed 200 years ago).
Soooooooo, should I throw out my Netheril, Empire of Magic box? :lol:
I always thought that every DM is allowed to pick & choose what they want in their campaign. If you like the Netheril boxes set, use it regardless of what any other conflicting source says. :geek:
Whooooooosh? Was having a joke at Big Mac's expense, b/c the Netheril box set is literally about running campaigns in the Age of Netheril...a place where we know the cities end up destroyed a few hundred years before the "main" time period.

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Re: Timeline, retcons, and the old Grey Box...

Post by Dread Delgath » Sun Oct 28, 2018 1:27 am

:lol: Yeah, sometimes I can't tell a joke from a serious query. :oops:

And I often get into threads that some posters will (imo) agonize over details from different & conflicting sources, trying their best to make them mesh in the most consistent & realistic manner.

I used to have the time to do that for everything related to Greyhawk, but now - the days are far too short and game time is always approaching, so I always fall back on the ol' "make it what you want" arguments.
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Re: Timeline, retcons, and the old Grey Box...

Post by Big Mac » Thu Nov 01, 2018 12:25 pm

Cromstar wrote:
Wed Oct 24, 2018 5:06 am
Dread Delgath wrote:
Tue Oct 23, 2018 6:07 pm
Cromstar wrote:
Tue Oct 23, 2018 12:13 am
Big Mac wrote:
Sun Oct 21, 2018 3:34 pm
The main thing you have to watch out for is to not use mutually conflicting sources (like a 1e source that shows a city is somewhere and a 5e source that says it was destroyed 200 years ago).
Soooooooo, should I throw out my Netheril, Empire of Magic box? :lol:
I always thought that every DM is allowed to pick & choose what they want in their campaign. If you like the Netheril boxes set, use it regardless of what any other conflicting source says. :geek:
Whooooooosh? Was having a joke at Big Mac's expense, b/c the Netheril box set is literally about running campaigns in the Age of Netheril...a place where we know the cities end up destroyed a few hundred years before the "main" time period.
Well I got the joke anyway. :)

And for the record, I think it would be fine to use the boxed set, but you would need to take the conflicts into account and make adjustments. (For example, you would need to get rid of the super-high level spells in a later era.)

Alternatively, running a pre-Netheril FR game with 5th Edition rules might mean you need to add on extra spell levels.
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