A few months ago I picked up my first Forgotten Realms product in years. It was Ed Greenwood Presents Elminster's Forgotten Realms, and while I still haven't finished it (too much gamer ADD), what I have read has really reminded me of what I loved about the setting to begin with. So why haven't I been back to the Realms yet?
Part of me really wants to run a game in the Realms again. Part of me is whispering that it will never live up to the campaigns of the past, and that all of the stuff that piled up on the setting that I didn't like will slowly insinuate itself into my brain. But the biggest hurdle is just having too many options and not knowing what option appeals to me the most.
At one point in time, I thought it would be fun to try and use 13th Age to simulate a Realms game. I liked the idea of swapping out the Icons for organizations, so that any individual game might invoke various and sundry power groups, and thus organically portray the Realms more as I understood them, i.e. less "high magic, high powered NPCs directing the world," and more "lots of competing power groups nudging the world one direction or the other."
But the magic system being what it is, and the resemblance to 4th edition, it feels like 13th Age might be better suited to running the current Realms, or perhaps the Realms as they look after the 5th edition relaunch, and I don't want to be reminded of the things in the setting that drove me away. Not a flaw in 13th Age so much as what style of play it might evoke.
Another part of my brain says that I should wait for the 2nd Edition books to hit PDF, and run the Realms in the edition that I used the most for my campaigns. While there is a certain appeal to this, I'm not sure I want to jump whole-heartedly into a 2nd edition game. I've been there and done that, and I'm not sure that the nostalgia would keep the excitement level up for me.
Finally, the more I'm looking at the Adventurer Conqueror King System, the more I am thinking this would be a great game to run a campaign with, in the Realms. I would have to find the right area that has enough option for land grants and PCs clearing them (the Stonelands? I'm looking at you) to take full advantage of the system. It seems like it would be the system to use to do what I have wanted to do for a while, which is to set a game back when Gondegal took Arabel, and potentially ignoring the Time of Troubles.
But even that feels like a lot of investment into a setting that I had written off a few years back. What I really want is to have the PDFs of the Old Grey Boxed set and the 1st edition Realms material back on the market, so I can start digging through them again, waiting to see if the magic takes hold.