You may already be asking, “What does he mean by ‘Sweet Spot?’”
Well, about six or so years ago the game designers of the (at the time) nascent 4th Edition D&D game identified something they called the “sweet spot” in 3rd Edition D&D: i.e. a range of levels where a player character’s abilities played off almost perfectly against the array of monsters, traps and other elements of the D&D game that a DM had at his or her disposal to create adventures with.
In other words, the Sweet Spot was that point in the game where it was most fun to play your character.
If we were to apply this idea to the Forgotten Realms, what specific locations, during certain time periods, containing interesting dungeons, adventure locations, NPCs and other setting elements are in your opinion the most fun to DM/play characters in the campaign setting?
If we were to assume that WotC will support a single, unified Forgotten Realms timeline, and given our location-time period-cool locations/ncps/setting elements definition for the term “Sweet Spot”, which of your favorite Realms Sweet Spots do you think ought to be supported in a future 5E Realms product?
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An example of a Realms “Sweet Spot” for me would be Cormyr, just after the conclusion of the war against Nalavarauthatoryl the Devil Dragon, her Ghazneths and goblin armies. This would be around 1371-1372DR.
I like this location and time period because it presents Cormyr in transition. A lot of Cormyr lore as presented in Volo’s Guide to Cormyr still holds at this time—and so is quite useful for me as DM—but many heroes of Cormyr are absent for having died in the war. Thus lots of evil foes of Cormyr can and will view it as weak and perhaps ripe for the taking. Nobles are either strongly aligned with the Regent Alusair or are quietly but firmly against her. Vangerdahast still advises Alusair, but his absolute, almost Khelben-like attitude regarding what he thinks is best for Cormyr will lead him into quiet conflict with Alusair over her first-of-many decisions as Regent.
This to me is the perfect milieu in which to insert a group of player characters. There will be politics to deal with, selfish and evil opportunists to thwart and monsters aplenty to deal with—the later often driven back by patrols of Purple Dragon soldiers which, thanks to the war, are no longer as active on Cormyr’s borders, making those places some of the best to start a fresh, new campaign in. Neverwinter and Tyrluk come to mind. Also, the Ghazneths loved to eat magic. Who knows how many magically walled off terrors and other dangers were unleashed each time a Ghazneth scented magic within some abandoned wizard’s tower or other ruin?
Finally, this time period is great for using extant Realmslore to build adventures around. To me, adventuring in Cormyr means running into one of Manshoon’s clones and the Zhentarim at some point. Likewise the Cult of the Dragon. And for those who like the addition of the Shadovar and the return of the elves to mainland Faerűn, there are plenty of opportunities for a Cormyr-based campaign to find its way into the deserts of Anourach, the cities of Sembia, or to Myth Drannor and the Dalelands.