So, thee say there be beasts out there thee've ne'er heard of nor encountered? 'Tis easily enough repaired—provided thee've the stomach for it!
-Elminster, the Sage of Shadowdale
D&D's most popular world just became even better! Here are over 30 exciting adventures that can be played in the Forgotten Realms setting in a single session. Danger, puzzle-solving, humor, and excitement: All lie in wait for intrepid adventurers of every level. All scenarios are ready to play, with little or no preparation by the DM!
Enjoy making the acquaintance of beasties from all parts of the Realms, from alguduirs to dimensional warpers, inquisitors to revenants, ring-worms to wemics. The good, the bad, and the ugly (and the not-so-ugly) – they're all here, ready to encounter your party!
The Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting and Forgotten Realms Monstrous Compendium Appendices are necessary to fully enjoy this product.
Oh, and one more thing: DMs and players should be aware of this famous corollary to Elminster's Rules of the Rabbit: Sometimes a rabbit is just a rabbit. And sometimes, it's much, much more.
The Forgotten Realms Book of Lairs (1994), by Nicky Rea and Sam Witt, was the fifth book to use TSR's popular "Book of Lairs" format. It was released in January 1995.
Introducing the Books of Lairs. In 1985, TSR introduced a new perfect-bound format of larger, 96- to 144-page adventure books. Their premier releases in this "super module" format were Lankhmar: City of Adventures (1985) and T1-4: The Temple of Elemental Evil (1985). Meanwhile, TSR was also experimenting with adventure anthologies, where several shorter scenarios were compiled as one release. The first of these was B9: "Castle Caldwell and Beyond" (1985), a short 32-page adventure book. A few years later, TSR would combine their adventure anthologies with the larger super-module format to produce books like WG7: Castle Greyhawk (1988) and OP1: Tales of the Outer Planes (1988).
However, in the interim, TSR tried something more unusual: They produced REF3: The Book of Lairs (1986), a super-module-sized anthology of much shorter encounters. In fact, each encounter was just one to two pages long, meant to be inserted into any setting between larger adventures. Each of these "lairs" was also centered on a specific monster from one of AD&D's monster books.
Concluding the Books of Lairs. The “Book of Lairs” format was sufficiently popular that five standalone volumes were released over the years: REF3: The Book of Lairs (1986); REF4: The Book of Lairs II (1987); DLT2: Book of Lairs (1993) for Dragonlance; SJR8: "Space Lairs" (1993) for Spelljammer; and finally this one, the Forgotten Realms Book of Lairs. The format also influenced the shorter adventures found in Greyhawk Adventures (1988).
However, all things must come to an end, for good or ill, and TSR ultimately decided that the Books of Lairs had run their course following this final Forgotten Realms excursion. Nonetheless, the idea of super-short adventures would survive; after the Forgotten Realms Book of Lairs, this format transformed into multiple new forms – which should be no surprise from the TSR of the mid-90s, which was constantly looking for new ideas for new sourcebook series.
The Book of Lairs was a rare concept that crossed over between first and second edition AD&D and lasted almost a decade.
Future History. In 1994 and 1995, super-short adventures popped up in two other forms: The two Decks of Encounters (1994-95) provided encounters on individual cards, while Castle Sites (1995), City Sites (1994), and Country Sites (1995) offered somewhat longer encounters for specific locales.
Today, the Encounters organized play program that kicked off with "Undermountain: Halaster's Lost Apprentice" (2010) is the most recent take on singular encounters, yet they're molded into longer stories. Dungeon Delve (2009) was another recent look at the short adventure paradigm, although its dungeons were intended as a night's play rather than a single encounter.
Expanding the Realms. The encounters in the Forgotten Realms Book of Lairs feel as though they could be run in any setting rather than being unique to the Forgotten Realms. As a result, some fans of the Realms point to Book of Lairs II as a better setting resource because of the three scenarios therein written by Ed Greenwood: otyughs, iron golem, and xorn.
That said, the Forgotten Realms Book of Lairs takes most of its monsters from the two Forgotten Realms monster manuals: MC3: "Monstrous Compendium, Volume Three: Forgotten Realms Appendix" (1989) and MC11: "Monstrous Compendium, Forgotten Realms Appendix II" (1991). Thus, while most of the lairs could be set anywhere, monsters like the crawling claws, the dracoliches, and the saurials all have close connections to the Realms.
About the Creators. Rea was involved in writing all three of the second edition Lairs books. In 1994, he was writing extensively for both TSR and White Wolf.
Witt was a more infrequent freelancer. In 1994, he also wrote The Complete Sha'ir's Handbook (1994); the next year, he'd carry the short-adventure torch forward by co-authoring Castle Sites.
About the Product Historian
The history of this product was researched and written by Shannon Appelcline, the editor-in-chief of RPGnet and the author of Designers & Dragons - a history of the roleplaying industry told one company at a time. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to firstname.lastname@example.org.