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Player Essentials: Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms (4e)


Exciting new builds and character options for the druid, paladin, ranger, and warlock classes.

This essential supplement for the 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons Fantasy Roleplaying Game presents exciting new builds for the game’s most popular classes: the druid, the paladin, the ranger, and the warlock.

Each class comes with a set of new powers, class features, paragon paths, epic destinies, and more that beginning players can use to build the characters they want to play and experienced players can plunder for existing 4th Edition characters.

In addition to new builds, this book presents expanded information and racial traits for some of the game’s most popular races, including dragonborn, drow, half-elves, half-orcs, and tieflings.

Product History

Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms (2010), by Mike Mearls, Bill Slavicsek, and Rodney Thompson, is the second core player's book for D&D Essentials. It was released in November 2010.

About the Title. Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms clearly refers to a Points-of-Light world where civilization has fallen to encroaching darkness. More specifically, it probably refers to the lost empires of some of the races of this book — such as the dragonborn empire of Arkoshia and the tiefling empire of Bael Turath.

Continuing the Essentials Line. September and October 2010 saw the publication of the first four books of the Essentials line: Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set (2010), Rules Compendium (2010), Dungeon Master's Kit (2010), and the first players book, Heroes of the Fallen Lands (2010). Now, in November 2010, the set of six rules-oriented releases for Essentials was drawing to a close. The DM-oriented Monster Vault (2010) and the second players book, Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdom (2010), were both published on November 16.

Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms was a close match for Heroes of the Fallen Lands; they were both books solely focused on the creation of characters, harking back to the original AD&D Players Handbook (1977). In fact, they were so similar to each other that they included considerable duplication, particularly for sections covering: game overview (chapter 1), making characters (chapter 2), understanding powers (chapter 3), skills (chapter 6), feats (chapter 7), and gears and weapon (chapter 8). The only major expansions in these sections were rules on summoning in chapter 3 (which were needed to support the warlock) and feats for the new races and classes in chapter 7.

Despite the extensive duplication of the core Essentials rules, the center 200 pages or so are new, covering the unique classes and races of the Forgotten Kingdoms.

The Forgotten Heroes. Heroes of the Fallen Lands offered new builds for the most classic classes (and races) in D&D's history. Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms followed that up with new builds of less traditional and more outré classes:

  • The Sentinel (Druid) returns to the trope of druids having animal companions, something that was a core element of D&D 3e (2000).
  • The Cavalier (Paladin) doesn't actually feel like AD&D's classic cavalier, which originated in Unearthed Arcana (1985). The class didn't even get a horse until the publication of "The Cavalier Steed" in Dragon #393 (November 2010). However, this new cavalier's focus on heroic virtues is reminiscent of some of the old-school paladin classes.
  • The Hunter (Ranger) focuses on one of the classic archetypes for the ranger class: the archer. Though AD&D tended to concentrate more on the ranger as an outdoorsman, the trope of the archer ranger did appear. However, its main mechanical support came with the release of D&D 3e (2000).
  • The Scout (Ranger) offers a different ranger archetype: the dual-wielding fighter. This sort of ranger debuted in AD&D 2e (1989), which saw designer Zeb Cook trying to better differentiate the class from standard fighters. It was then popularized by the drow ranger Drizzt.
  • The Hexblade (Warlock) is a new take on the magic-powered warrior from Complete Warrior (2003).

One of the major controversies over Essentials was the fact it rolled back some of the changes in 4e, reverting some of the game's philosophies to their 3e roots. Though much of this had to do with how classes were constructed, it's interesting to see that Essentials was also returning character classes to tropes popularized in D&D 3e.

The Resurrected Races. The races of Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdom are many of the newer, and less usual offerings.

The half-elves and half-orcs have the oldest pedigree, though they were both newcomers with the release of AD&D (1977-1979). The drow came next, first appearing in G3: "Hall of the Fire Giant King" (1978); however, it took until Unearthed Arcana (1985) for them to become a player character race.

Finally, the dragonborn and the tieflings only became core PC races with the publication of D&D 4e (2008). The tieflings appeared in smaller roles as far back as Planescape Campaign Setting (1994) and were available as player-character races for certain settings beginning with D&D 3e (2000). The dragonborn debuted in Races of the Dragon (2006), though in a different form from their appearance in D&D 4e.

About the Creators. Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms was the second book by the team of Mearls, Slavicsek, and Thompson, who had previously worked together on Heroes of the Fallen Lands.

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

We (Wizards) recognize that some of the legacy content available on this website does not reflect the values of the Dungeons & Dragons franchise today. Some older content may reflect ethnic, racial, and gender prejudice that were commonplace in American society at that time. These depictions were wrong then and are wrong today. This content is presented as it was originally created, because to do otherwise would be the same as claiming these prejudices never existed. Dungeons & Dragons teaches that diversity is a strength, and we strive to make our D&D products as welcoming and inclusive as possible. This part of our work will never end.

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February 27th, 2022
The second of the two core player books for D&D Essentials, Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms covers some less traditional, but still fairly significant, options for the game. The book appears to be designed to stand alone, so it duplicates a lot of [...]
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