Adventures in the Shining South

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Adventures in the Shining South

Post by night_druid » Mon Nov 05, 2018 12:59 pm

Summary of my latest campaign:

So I picked up FR16: The Shining South recently via POD, and decided to run a campaign down there. However, as I am wont to do, I made some changes.

Firstly, the game is set in Halruaa. In R16, Nalruaa is a Netherese survivor state, and in typical trope fashion, a fairly closed society. That heavily worship Mystra. Now, here's the problem with this: one of the primary edicts of Mystra is the spread of magical learning, which nobody really pays attention to (I swear for the principal deity of FR aside from AO, she gets NO respect ;) ). So here my first change: I notice Halruaa is dotted with tiny cities of 12,000 or less people. I decided these are college towns. Halruaa is effectively the "College Town" of southern FR. Prospective wizards, particularly the kids of wealthy nobles, are sent to Halruaa to learn magic. So the population isn't just Neterese-descendant humans. There's people from Chult, the Shining Sea, Lands of Intrigue, Old Empires, dwarves from the Great Rift, elves, and even (rarely) people as far away as the North and Shou. Elves, dwarves, and halflings also come here to learn as well, although not as common (we play Castles & Crusades so dwarves & halflings can be wizards). Humanoids are affected as well, by generations of magical experiments, breeding, and the like has turned them less violent and more civilized. PCs have already encountered a group of goblin miners (rescued is more like it), and in the latest adventure they found hobgoblin maids and a bugbear butler. This is not uncommon in Halruaa.

Second change, the Forest of Armtir is huge. It basically fills in all of the blank space between Halruaa and the Great Rift, stretching from Luiren in the east to the Great Rift/Landrise to the north and the River Talar in the west. It is home to many thousands of tribes of wild elves. Some good, some evil, mostly neutral. They are masters of druidic magic. Many, many lost cities, temples, etc. The jungle is filled with dinosaurs, carnivorous apes, and more things that want to eat you than you have spells to slay. All kinds of fun stuff for when I want to send the PCs north and east for some jungle adventures. The elves are far too numerous to slay, and too chaotic to rally together to deal with Dambrath.

Thirdly, I've made minor tweeks to the surrounding states. Dambrath is a land of pirates, too powerful to outright invade yet too weak to conquer other lands. Lurien is surrounded by geographic barriers that make it easy to invade, yet impossible to hold for long. I plan to use Five Shires to fully describe this land. Etc.

So that's the stage. Now for the actors. The PCs (of which I have 2; I threw this game together because our other players bailed; I run this when we're short on players) are "police detectives" in the city of Tharzoun. They are sent to investigate cases where local authorities aren't up to handling problems. So the two PCs are dwarven war-priests, with two dwarf flunkies (an archer & a wizard). Thus far, I've sent them to investigate why all contact was lost with a nearby electrum mine (the mine was invaded by a weretiger and her two pet tigers), and the current adventure has them dealing with a domestic disturbance (a wizard was found wandering the streets, feebleminded and naked; his tower warded to defeat attempts to investigate). I have other ideas for adventures to send them on. :)

As an overall theme, think a mix of COPS, Indiana Jones, and Sledge Hammer as my inspirations. ;)

So that's my latest campaign in a nutshell.
Last edited by night_druid on Mon Nov 05, 2018 4:36 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Adventures in the Shining South

Post by Sturm » Mon Nov 05, 2018 4:00 pm

Very interesting idea for a campaign.
Nitpick: it's Mystra the deity, Mystara it's the campaign setting.
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Re: Adventures in the Shining South

Post by night_druid » Mon Nov 05, 2018 4:39 pm

Sturm wrote:
Mon Nov 05, 2018 4:00 pm
Very interesting idea for a campaign.
Nitpick: it's Mystra the deity, Mystara it's the campaign setting.
Oops, I knew that! Damned typos. Easy one to make, too ;) Fixed. :)

Sadly, due to such short notice at times, the adventures haven't been fully developed. Some encounters I just had ideas for, but not a chance to stat things out or give them proper fleshing out. Very "by the seat of my pants" DMing :P
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Re: Adventures in the Shining South

Post by Cromstar » Mon Nov 05, 2018 5:12 pm

night_druid wrote:
Mon Nov 05, 2018 12:59 pm
(I swear for the principal deity of FR aside from AO, she gets NO respect ;) )
Ain't that the truth?

I assume that there will be plenty of Bad Boys playing in the background of this adventure.

The South is interesting, but I never had any products on it, so I've never known much about it except what was referenced in other products I did have.

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Re: Adventures in the Shining South

Post by night_druid » Mon Nov 05, 2018 5:33 pm

Cromstar wrote:
Mon Nov 05, 2018 5:12 pm
Ain't that the truth?

I assume that there will be plenty of Bad Boys playing in the background of this adventure.
Theme song to the campaign, IMHO ;)
The South is interesting, but I never had any products on it, so I've never known much about it except what was referenced in other products I did have.
"Letdown" best describes FR16. Not a bad product per say, but given all the hype about Southern Magic and that, its pretty mundane. Just "hey look, these kingdoms are just like kingdoms in the North, just that there's a bunch of high level wizards running around but no real consequence to that." My take has Halruaa as being anti- non-magic-users. Single-classed fighters & thieves would be looked down upon, and barbarians? "Ugh! We have LEASH LAWS, you know!" ;) But a goblin wizard? Not a problem. Some other changes are in the works, but some I want to keep from the PCs until they get to those adventures (which I need to write and hopefully I'll have some lead time before I have to run them! :facepalm: ^_^ )
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Re: Adventures in the Shining South

Post by GMWestermeyer » Mon Nov 05, 2018 7:15 pm

night_druid wrote:
Mon Nov 05, 2018 12:59 pm
So I picked up FR16: The Shining South recently via POD, and decided to run a campaign down there. However, as I am wont to do, I made some changes.
The old Forgotten Realms comic book followed a Halruaan wizard exiled from Halruaa (sort of). Has some interesting information in it on Halruaa, including a fight with a Halruaan skyship. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forgotte ... s_(comics)

There are several novels set in Halruaa, including Murder in Halruaa https://www.amazon.com/MURDER-HALRUAA-F ... in+Halruaa and the Counselors & Kings trilogy by Elaine Cunningham. https://www.amazon.com/gp/bookseries/B0 ... 073941237X. Sadly, I have yet to read any of these four books, they are all on my 'to read' list, though.
night_druid wrote:
Mon Nov 05, 2018 12:59 pm
Thirdly, I've made minor tweeks to the surrounding states. Dambrath is a land of pirates, too powerful to outright invade yet too weak to conquer other lands.
One of my PCs is from Dambrath, a human psionicist of half-drow ancestry who became mayor of Hill's Edge in the North. I always found the half-drow rulers of Dambrath fascinating, I reccomend keeping them in place. Really,m your description of Dambrath sounds like canon any way, just a matriarchal pirate society. :D
night_druid wrote:
Mon Nov 05, 2018 12:59 pm
Lurien is surrounded by geographic barriers that make it easy to invade, yet impossible to hold for long. I plan to use Five Shires to fully describe this land. Etc.
I've always assumed Greenwood was thinking of Luiren when he wrote The Five Shires anyway, and always use it for Luiren society background and details.

Don't forget Nimbral. FR16 barely touches it (if at all) but it is technically part of 'the Shining South' and it has a vibrant magical society as well.

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Re: Adventures in the Shining South

Post by night_druid » Mon Nov 05, 2018 7:46 pm

GMWestermeyer wrote:
Mon Nov 05, 2018 7:15 pm
The old Forgotten Realms comic book followed a Halruaan wizard exiled from Halruaa (sort of). Has some interesting information in it on Halruaa, including a fight with a Halruaan skyship. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forgotte ... s_(comics)
I have the comics but not the novels. I sorta see Halruaa as being a cross between college towns and wildly eccentric wizards ala the Harpells of Longsaddle. Only much more common.
One of my PCs is from Dambrath, a human psionicist of half-drow ancestry who became mayor of Hill's Edge in the North. I always found the half-drow rulers of Dambrath fascinating, I reccomend keeping them in place. Really,m your description of Dambrath sounds like canon any way, just a matriarchal pirate society. :D
Not changing. Tweaked, but not changing. Biggest tweek is that the forest of Amtar to the north is much, much bigger and more dangerous. Geographically they're constrained on the landward side, so they rely heavily on the sea.
I've always assumed Greenwood was thinking of Luiren when he wrote The Five Shires anyway, and always use it for Luiren society background and details.
Reading Five Shires, I think he slips up a place or two; I think it was really meant to be Luiren.
Don't forget Nimbral. FR16 barely touches it (if at all) but it is technically part of 'the Shining South' and it has a vibrant magical society as well.
Not sure if I'll send my PCs to Nimbral or not. I do have plans for them to do a bit of travel, though, in their cases :)
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Re: Adventures in the Shining South

Post by Dragonhelm » Mon Nov 05, 2018 9:44 pm

GMWestermeyer wrote:
Mon Nov 05, 2018 7:15 pm
I've always assumed Greenwood was thinking of Luiren when he wrote The Five Shires anyway, and always use it for Luiren society background and details.
In fact, he was.

According to the product history for The Five Shires on DMs Guild...

Expanding the Forgotten Realms. Greenwood also uses the word "hin" to describe the halflings of the Forgotten Realms. When asked whether "The Five Shires" could generally be used for Forgotten Realms play, Greenwood said:

"Sure. Superimpose the Luiren cities and government structure, shift places 'just a little' to make room for them, and, yes, it works admirably for that. Almost as if someone designed it that way."
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Re: Adventures in the Shining South

Post by ghendar » Mon Nov 05, 2018 10:08 pm

It's always fascinating to me to see how people run the Realms. I never cared for Halruaa. Way too high magic and I don't want any flying ships around. I've lately developed similar feelings for Mystara and now prefer a more Known World vibe. It's probably the main reason why I didn't go for Calidar despite being a fan of Bruce Heard's work.
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Re: Adventures in the Shining South

Post by Sturm » Tue Nov 06, 2018 9:03 am

The problem with high magic places is how to integrate them with surrounding nations. I'd like Halruaa as having contacts with other planets and planes, but why the local wizards do not conquer all the rest of the realms? Probably they should have powerful opponents around and even be quite divided among themselves, as it happens in Alphatia on Mystara.
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Re: Adventures in the Shining South

Post by night_druid » Tue Nov 06, 2018 12:18 pm

In my setup halruaa already has conquered the realms to an extent. Halruaan trained wizards are in every court south of the sea of fallen stars. Many wizards pay top gold to train in a halruaan school. Many send donations to their schools. Nobody is fool enough to mess with such a magical juggernaut as halruaa has agents and sympathizers everywhere. This leaves the wizards free to pursue other interests unrelated to petty rulership of stretches of dirt.
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Re: Adventures in the Shining South

Post by Sturm » Tue Nov 06, 2018 12:37 pm

Makes sense :)
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Re: Adventures in the Shining South

Post by ghendar » Tue Nov 06, 2018 9:26 pm

I like what 4e (oh god, I threw up in my mouth just typing that) did which was blast Halruaa into oblivion :D
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Re: Adventures in the Shining South

Post by night_druid » Tue Nov 06, 2018 11:40 pm

ghendar wrote:
Tue Nov 06, 2018 9:26 pm
I like what 4e (oh god, I threw up in my mouth just typing that) did which was blast Halruaa into oblivion :D
I took them blowing up Halruaa as pettiness. I hate blowing up settings for the sake of just blowing something up. Its childish more often than not. :P

I prefer to work with it. I kinda like the idea of a nation of Harpell-esque mage families, all pursuing wildly eccentric interests and dragging PCs into their antics, willing or not ;)
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Re: Adventures in the Shining South

Post by Sturm » Wed Nov 07, 2018 8:25 am

Indeed that's a good take on Halruaa and I agree erasing things from the map is just a bad designing choice, or even worse, sometimes childish behaviour from a designer who did not like the work of a previous designer and did not have enough good will to improve rather than just delete.
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Re: Adventures in the Shining South

Post by night_druid » Wed Nov 07, 2018 12:31 pm

An idea I'm working with.

Halruaan Hothouse
Halruaa is a nation of refugees from Netheril. When the land turned to desert, those wizards of middling levels, those too young and inexperienced to command floating cities of their own yet mastered enough magic to command flying carpets, ships, and the like, set off in search of a new land to colonized. Their wanderings brought them to Halruaa, a land fenced in by defensive walls of mountains. Jaded by their experiences, the wizards swore never to be so dependent on the bounty of the land again, and turned towards magical pursuits to solve their food problems. The Halruaan Hothouse is one solution.

A Halruaan Hothouse appears to be an ordinary greenhouse, perhaps 10' wide by 20' long. There is a single door. When the door is open, obscuring mist pours out of the greenhouse. Entering the greenhouse, the fog persists for 30', until it dissipates revealing the true interior of a Hothouse. The Hothouse is an extra-dimensional space, ideally suited for growing crops at peak conditions. Virtually any crop can be grown here, reaching harvest in half the time it normally takes. Lesser Hothouses cover an acre, while Greater Hothouses may cover ten acres (or more). A single hothouse can produce food enough to feed a village, while several can feed a city. As a consequence, very little of Halruaa is given over to cropland and is largely wilderness beyond the walls and borders of its towns and villages.
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Re: Adventures in the Shining South

Post by Sturm » Wed Nov 07, 2018 1:24 pm

Good idea, can make Halruaa more wild and strange :)
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Re: Adventures in the Shining South

Post by GMWestermeyer » Thu Nov 08, 2018 4:40 am

Sturm wrote:
Tue Nov 06, 2018 9:03 am
The problem with high magic places is how to integrate them with surrounding nations. I'd like Halruaa as having contacts with other planets and planes, but why the local wizards do not conquer all the rest of the realms? Probably they should have powerful opponents around and even be quite divided among themselves, as it happens in Alphatia on Mystara.
Halruaa doesn't really hjave that many 'high level' mages compared to the rest of the Realms, doesn't even have the most powerful mages in the Realms. It just is a Realm where magic is more integrated into day to day life and mages rule.

The Realms has several 'magic heavy' realms, and Thay is also ruled by mages. Not to mention Nimbral. And, of course, high level priests are also very common in the Realms.

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Re: Adventures in the Shining South

Post by Sturm » Thu Nov 08, 2018 9:51 am

Still as the heirs of Netheril, they should have some advanced knowledge. As on how much High Magic the FR really are, I think this has quite some variations from author to author and from DM to DM, and it seems to me even Greenwood is not really consistent on this. Or rather, as originally his world was not conceived for D&D but before it, sometimes in his work it seems magic is not exactly working as it should according to D&D rules.
But I agree there are several magic strong nations around Halruaa which should be more than able to contain it.
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Re: Adventures in the Shining South

Post by night_druid » Thu Nov 08, 2018 12:30 pm

In my particular setup, to a degree, Halruaa has already "conquered" much of the southern FR. Not through massed armies and magical might, but through being the main source of magical training for a good half of the wizards south of the Sea of Fallen Stars. MANY wizards have divided loyalties; quite a few would rather side with Halruaa than their own home country. Not only that, Halruaa has enough high level diviners to locate just about anybody they want, if so inclined, and can drop oh 50 summoned monsters on that person at any given moment. Or just use charm spells to "encourage" kings to see it their way.

What Halruaa *cannot* do is field a traditional army larger than a few hundred troops. They lack the manpower and martial traditions to make that a reality. While the troops they do have are highly elite, they just don't have a lot of them. They either must rely on foreign mercenaries or summoned creatures to fill the ranks, neither a good solution in their eyes.

Halruaa is well-protected by natural barriers and enough magical might to cause any warlord to second-guess invasion, while Halruaa itself has little interest in conquest. Wizards aren't prone to seeking glory in a battlefield. Magical duels, sure, but in pitched battles? Not their style. :) They pretty much have free access to ports across the South so their flying ships can travel largely without fear. Not trying to conquer foreign lands frees them to pursue other interests - exploring other planes, trying out new magic spells, creating magic items, etc.

All of this is my personal take on the situation, and shouldn't be considered canon in the least (outside of my game, of course!) :)
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Re: Adventures in the Shining South

Post by Sturm » Thu Nov 08, 2018 12:49 pm

It is a good setup indeed, I will probably steal it if I manage to play in the area :)
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Re: Adventures in the Shining South

Post by night_druid » Thu Nov 08, 2018 1:00 pm

Steal away :D

Never thought I'd run a game in the area, but here we are. :)

Kinda hoping to take tomorrow off to finish off the current adventure I'm running and write the next one, which has a lighter tone to it. The whole game isn't very serious given how few players I have. One attractive point to me was to make the PCs 6th level to start; we've had so many false-start campaigns I was getting tired of never getting past 3rd level. :P
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Re: Adventures in the Shining South

Post by Sturm » Thu Nov 08, 2018 3:54 pm

Well let us know how it goes!
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Re: Adventures in the Shining South

Post by ghendar » Thu Nov 08, 2018 9:40 pm

night_druid wrote:
Tue Nov 06, 2018 11:40 pm
ghendar wrote:
Tue Nov 06, 2018 9:26 pm
I like what 4e (oh god, I threw up in my mouth just typing that) did which was blast Halruaa into oblivion :D
I took them blowing up Halruaa as pettiness. I hate blowing up settings for the sake of just blowing something up. Its childish more often than not. :P

I prefer to work with it. I kinda like the idea of a nation of Harpell-esque mage families, all pursuing wildly eccentric interests and dragging PCs into their antics, willing or not ;)
Sturm wrote:
Wed Nov 07, 2018 8:25 am
Indeed that's a good take on Halruaa and I agree erasing things from the map is just a bad designing choice, or even worse, sometimes childish behaviour from a designer who did not like the work of a previous designer and did not have enough good will to improve rather than just delete.
But does that mean what came before is inviolate and never able to be changed, altered, and yes even destroyed? D&D has always been about
people taking the material and making it their own. Additionally, the history of the Realms shows hundreds of kingdoms/nations/etc falling. Why should I, or anyone, including the holders of the IP, not be able to make changes, even if that includes wiping the slate clean? There's nothing petty about it. It's just another form of creativity. You guys advocate one type of change and creativity while dismissing another type.

By the way, any proof of said pettiness or is it just opinion?
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Re: Adventures in the Shining South

Post by Sturm » Thu Nov 08, 2018 10:02 pm

Well you did not like Halruaa and as DM or player you are free not to use it but if you are a designer you have a responsibility also toward DMs and players who liked Halruaa. It is not better to improve the place by toning down what you do not like instead of erasing it for good? In the former case you also try to please the people who liked and used the place. Erasing seem unprofessional behaviour from a designer who de facto imposes his preferences to everyone else. Even writers should think hard and long about before doing such things, as their world is also in a way the readers world. Moreso rpg designer, which are treading on the work and games of many others. In general I think extreme changes should always be an option rather than a definitive change of the setting. It is too likely many people will not like it. In fact a LOT of people hated what 4ed did and in 5ed most of that extreme changes were turned back.
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