“Imagine the worst possible ending for each published Dungeons & Dragons 5E adventure path all happening one after another.” It’s a terrifying premise every player and DM has likely indulged via daydreams, but setting guide Doomed Forgotten Realms - Sword Coast Gazetter takes it one step further. The new book details a world awash in evil and how players might successfully survive it - or embrace it.
Created by Quill & Cauldron and coming to Dungeon Masters Guild on May 30th, Doomed Forgotten Realms throws disasters across the face of Faerûn - both natural and otherworldly - until every familiar location has been twisted beyond recognition. Waterdeep is overrun with cultists, Tiamat has claimed a floating citadel for herself and her boundless horde, and Baldur’s Gate is, well… literally descended in one of the Nine Hells, replaced by a smouldering crater.
Like other setting guides, this books is meant to introduce a new world as a sandbox for a tabletop RPG group to explore a Sword Coast where no heroes rose up to stop any of the threats outlined in Wizards of the Coast’s officially published books - Vecna, Zariel, the Elemental cults, and other world-threatening powers now vie to control a blighted landscape where humanity barely holds on by a fingernail.
This isn’t an adventure by itself. Every faction, area and major player - of which there are many - contain several hooks by which a group can anchor itself to the world and provide a reason for venturing beyond what little shreds of safety remain. This place is very much a battleground for powers beyond the ken of most mortals - the world’s most evil beings don’t want to share with each other, so the simple act of travelling from one village to another means squaring off against demons, the undead, corrupted elementals, pitiless bandits and far-roaming dragons.
So, what’s a new adventurer to do? Doomed Forgotten Realms’ text is very explicit in saying that this book may not be for everyone. Beginning from a place of near hopelessness where good lost to evil but the world kept spinning might sound like a truly awful premise for game night, but those who do relish the odds stacked against them can roleplay the slow, silent resurgence of capital-G Good with the help of some familiar faces that barely escaped annihilation.
Alternatively, a party can lean in hard and throw their lot in with any one of the several dominant factions, helping the Fire Giants test their doomsday weapon against Tiamat or voluntarily joining the ranks of Zariel’s devil army to fight in the Blood Wars. It bears remembering, though, that D&D 5E’s alignments are fairly prescriptive, so those choosing to align with these entities should either understand the territory or always be watching for the eventual betrayal.
The book contains several new character and class options that better fit the draftic transformations the Sword Coast has already endured under its new masters. For example, druids can choose the Circle of the Nine if their character understands that the fiends and devils of the Nine Hells are now indelibly linked to the cycle of nature in the Material Plane. Rogues, on the other hand, can become Spell Slayers and learn just enough magic to protect themselves from a world seemingly full to the brim with liches.
What you won’t find here are magic items, any creature stat blocks or new and modified rules. Doomed Forgotten Realms still relies on D&D 5E’s core books to play - its job is to subsume the setting in as much doleful dressing as possible, fill the stage with as many of the Forgotten Realms most heinous archnemeses as possible and let willing adventuring parties sort out the rest.
Doomed Forgotten Realms - A Sword Coast Gazetter will be hitting Dungeon Masters Guild on May 30th, though a price was not provided by Quill & Cauldron. Speaking of Vecna, the lich supreme had his name dropped in some spoilers for the upcoming fourth season of Stranger Things, thanks to a themed Monopoly set, of all places.