All of Toril, and especially Faerûn, is rich in history. As the eons have passed, empires have risen and fallen all around the world. This chronology presents the history of the FORGOTTEN REALMS setting in all its glory. We’ve brought together information from dozens of sources to provide the definitive chronicle.
Brian R. James did something miraculous in the Grand History of the Realms (2007): It's the first truly unsolicited and fan-created project published by Wizards of the Coast, a work of passion that was first written and placed on the internet by a fan in the form of a 100-page PDF. Richard Baker of WotC noticed it, loved it, contacted the author, and arranged for Wizards to publish it officially. If you've ever dreamed that your fan-created work for Dungeons and Dragons might be published by the people who make the game, well, Brian James managed to pull it off.
What It Is. The Forgotten Realms is a huge and rambling place. That's no surprise, considering the number of authors and game designers who have added to the Realms over the past decades. At least in theory, all of these stories and events interlock into one cohesive world history (although admittedly sometimes better than others, depending on the extent of the authors and editors' Realms-lore).
With the quantity of products, however, it's often impractical for a single DM to understand the scope of a campaign's history or to understand what's happening at the same time elsewhere in the campaign world. Brian James made it possible by creating one massive and coherent timeline of the Forgotten Realms' published history, listing dates and events from every single Realms product published by TSR and Wizards of the Coast. The amount of work and attention to detail needed to pull this off somewhat boggles the mind, but the results are delightful for fans of the setting.
It's particularly effective to see this history collected in chronological order because the Realms' rich history has a variety of ways to count years in its calendar. There's Present Reckoning, Dalereckoning, Northreckoning, the Shou calendar, the Netheril Year, the Aryselmalyr calandar, and the Roll of Years (Year of the Cauldron, Year of the Bent Blade, Year of the Starving, and so on.) Tracking what happens at what time isn't easy for DMs who set their game there. This book solves that challenge neatly.
Commentary Galore. Adding value over the original free publication, the Grand History of the Realms has sidebars throughout, featuring commentary from Ed Greenwood and many other official Realms designers. These sidebars explain campaign features, discuss historical events, give first-person accounts of events as recounted by characters in the Forgotten Realms, and generally serve to round out the short descriptions of every notable event that has occurred in official products. Even historically important blood-stained letters and personal notes that describe notable events are included. Along with maps from different eras, these additions even out the book's pacing, stopping it from becoming a dry encylopedic accounting of events and turning it into graphically rich account of Realms lore.
Homebrew Inspiration. This book is a must-buy for anyone interested in the Forgotten Realms; there is literally no other publication that comes close to pulling so many disparate threads together into one cohesive, easily understood timeline. It's also extremely useful for DMs who homebrew their campaigns instead of playing in the official campaign setting. Many games lack the weight of history simply because the DM has neither time nor energy enough to build the many events needed to add texture to their world. PCs in a homebrew game may encounter ruins, for instance, but the DM may never have decided why they're ruined or what happened to the people who once lived there.
The Grand History of the Realms is a great example for how a DM can add that sort of detail into a game, and it provides perspective for the massive sweep of a campaign's history. The book also provides a large quantity of ideas for DMs to blatantly and unapologetically steal. After all, every important event published in a Forgotten Realms product is detailed here; if that doesn't give a DM great ideas for her own campaign, nothing will. File off the serial numbers and go!
Superb Reviews. The Grand History of the Realms is consistently reviewed very positively for a good reason: It's a fun, useful book full of information that you won't be able to find anywhere else. Value has been added over the original free PDF through maps, art, and sidebar commentary. If you're interested in campaign building or the Forgotten Realms in general, whatever edition of the game you might be playing, this tome is well worth owning.
About the Creators. Brian R. James is an award-winning game designer and patent-holding software engineer. Getting his start in game design with this product, he has contributed to many 4e D&D products, including Demonicon, Underdark, Menzoberranzan: City of Intrigue, and more. He has numerous contributions to both Dungeon and Dragon magazines, and he won a Silver ENnie award in 2012 for Monster Vault: Threats to the Nentir Vale.
About the Product Historian
History and commentary of this product was written by Kevin Kulp, game designer and admin of the independent D&D fansite ENWorld. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to firstname.lastname@example.org.