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Grand History of the Realms (3.5)

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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.  
Product History
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

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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Reviews (7)
Discussions (5)
Customer avatar
Marc C September 03, 2021 11:32 pm UTC
Would love a premium hardcover POD version of this.
Customer avatar
Rob M April 08, 2021 4:43 pm UTC
Is this going to be printed in hardcover copy at some point?
Customer avatar
Glen B March 06, 2021 11:52 am UTC
I'm somewhat new to dnd. Does this book hold any relevance to the current 5e setting? I don't quite understand the relation.
Customer avatar
Ben R August 14, 2021 5:19 am UTC
Grand History of the Realms covers the history of the Forgotten Realms up to the date 1385 D5, when the Spellplague occurred. This calamitous event changed the face of the world, establishing the status quo of fourth edition, which was set in 1479 DR. The world was changed again by the Sundering, which set the status quo of fifth edition, which began in 1489 DR. The most recent hardcover adventures have been set around 1492 DR.

So this book has relevance to the 5E Forgotten Realms in the sense that it's history. If you want to know the deep deep lore of the setting (and I mean deep) or you want to run a game set in the past, this book would be great. It won't unfortunately help you with anything that's happened in the setting for the past 100 years. And if you aren't running your games in the Realms, then it has no relevance really at all.
Customer avatar
Robert L October 07, 2020 6:52 pm UTC
I want to formally complain to Wizards of the Coast about the company they're using to create these PDFs. Having scanned pages is understandable for some of the older content, but NOT having the ability to search the content is cutting huge corners and it needs to be addressed. I'm tired of seeing these awesome older products published here as a simple scans. I OWN the damn books...what I want when I purchase one of these PDFs is a SEARCHABLE PDF with ACCURATE, word-for-word, content matching each page. I brought this up previously with DriveThruRPG (support ticket) and was told they would reach out to the publisher, but either that didn't happen, or is falling on deaf ears. This whole issue feels like a scam to make a quick buck! I would love to feel confident purchasing these PDFs that WotC is adding here, but I'm not spending another dime until they resolve this issue.
Customer avatar
Robert L October 09, 2020 3:53 am UTC
I just wanted to note that today I received a notice that the this PDF has been updated with searchable text. I downloaded the updated PDF and it is indeed searchable now. Thanks you Wizards of the Coast for listening!
Customer avatar
Simon-Raphael F July 09, 2019 10:40 pm UTC
Hi :) Does one know if the PoD also has these white space margins as the pdf (in the preview)? Would really like to purchase it but due to the preview and to one of the reviews I am not so sure if the book will look nice :)
Customer avatar
Charles L July 18, 2019 6:56 pm UTC
The PoD looks okay, there's a bit of white space on the sides and bottom, the font is pretty small and not the easiest to read given the slightly grainy quality, and the image colors are a bit dark. All in all, pretty par for the course as far as PoD goes. Here are a few quick pics I took of my copy, have a look:
Customer avatar
Simon-Raphael F July 18, 2019 8:54 pm UTC
Thank you very much :) I think I will buy it then, to get a used hardcover version is pretty expensive. The quality here is good enough for me then :)
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File Last Updated:
October 08, 2020
This title was added to our catalog on January 22, 2013.