The heroes of the Forgotten Realms are as diverse and varied as the regions from which they hail. This collection of Faerûnian lore and arcana allows you to create and equip an endless array of characters braced for the challenges they’ll encounter. From races, feats, and spells to prestige classes, magic items, and more, Player’s Guide to Faerûn provides a v.3.5 update to the Forgotten Realms setting, reintroduces some old favorites from 1st and 2nd Edition, and offers all-new character-building material.
- Over 60 feats
- Over 30 prestige classes
- Over 90 spells
To use this supplement, you also need the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting, the Player’s Handbook, the Dungeon Master’s Guide, and the Monster Manual.
Player's Guide to Faerûn (2004), by Richard Baker, Travis Stout, and James Wyatt, is the core book for the 3.5e Forgotten Realms. It was released in March 2004.
About the Cover. Though it marked a soft reboot of the campaign setting, Player's Guide uses the same trade dress as the previous 3e Forgotten Realms books. This reflects the fact that the new Player's Guide was very much a continuation of the 3e Forgotten Realms line; where D&D 3.5e would generally set aside its 3.0e books, the Forgotten Realms would continue to reference its own.
Beginning the 3.5e Forgotten Realms (Again). Though the 3.5e Forgotten Realms product line had already begun with Underdark (2003), Player's Guide to Faerûn was the book that really brought the line into the new edition.
Origins (I): The New Edition. The fundamental goal behind Player's Guide to Faerûn was to update the Forgotten Realms setting from 3.0e to 3.5e. That didn't mean just revamping the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting (2001), but also the other Realms source books that had been released in the previous three years.
However, the Player's Guide goes beyond that: in a process that James Wyatt compares to Andy Collin's revision of the 3.5e Player's Handbook (2003), the development team also worked through the rules systems in the Campaign Setting, polishing and adjusting them to make improvements based on lessons learned from three years of play. The regional feat system would see the biggest changes, but spells also got adjusted and other mechanics got tweaked.
The end result was a crunchy book of updated mechanics for the Realms. The Player's Guide doesn't repeat the setting material of the Campaign Setting (though it offers some expansions), and thus it doesn't try and replace the core 3.0e Realms book … just complement it.
Origins (II): The New Material. In order to make Player's Guide more than just a retread of the Campaign Setting, the designers strove to add a considerable amount of new material. This included updates of 1e and 2e material that hadn't previously been seen in 3e — including content from Forgotten Realms Adventures (1990), Hellgate Keep (1998), The Seven Sisters (1995), and Volo's Guide to All Things Magical (1996). Stout said that the organized, systematic rules for 3e often made these conversions quite simple: "There were several cases where a spell effect from a 2nd Edition source that was originally half a page or more was easily condensed down to a few lines because there was already a status effect or a rule subset in 3.5 that did the same thing."
Expanding D&D. The Player's Guide's biggest update to the D&D rules was its revamp of regional feats. They were now more limited (with players only taking one) but more powerful as well. The Player's Guide also contains new and updated prestige classes and lots of spells and magic items. Finally, it integrates the mechanics from a number of core D&D books into the rules for the Forgotten Realms, including: Book of Exalted Deeds (2003), Book of Vile Darkness (2002), Epic Level Handbook (2002), and Expanded Psionics Handbook (2004).
Exploring the Realms. Though the Player's Guide is primarily a crunchy book intended to assist in the creation of Forgotten Realms characters, it also contains a few expansions to the world of the Realms.
The biggest expansion is to the Realms' cosmology from Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting. The world of the gods is tweaked and considerably expanded — and it's finally officially called the World Tree.
The timeline from the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting is also extended to incorporate the events from the two latest Realms-shaking events: the Return of the Archwizards (2001-2002), and the then-incomplete War of the Spider Queen (2002-2005).
Future History. Player's Guide to Faerûn was intended to include new monsters, but they were cut for space. Instead, a "Monster Update" web enhancement (2004) gave GMs info on how to update Realms monsters from all the 3e Realms books.
About the Creators. Richard Baker's main work on the Player's Guide was the revamping of the regional feats, while James Wyatt's focus was on linking in the other 3e books, and Travis Stout wrote the historical updates for the timeline. Prestige classes, spells, and magic items ended up split among the designers.
The development team of Andrew Finch, Mike Donais, and David Noonan also did plenty of work, including revising old spells, while Noonan did much of the psionics integration.
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.