Comments are now closed! Thanks to everyone who joined us. Pitch your adventure while you can and keep and eye on this space for future opportunities to chat with Ed Greenwood!


To celebrate the launch of TEGG’s patron program, we’ll be hosting an online blog chat with Mr. Ed Greenwood himself, Archmage Supreme and Creator of the Forgotten Realms™ this Friday!

Being part of the live blog experience will give you an opportunity to hear the Archmage’s latest thinking on the Realms, as well as gain some valuable knowledge about a lesser-known region of the setting. This year, the focus is on the city of Ormpur, which lies at a trade crossroads and offers many opportunities for exploration and adventure!

Plus, the live blog is an opportunity for YOU to ask Mr. Greenwood your questions about the Realms. Whether it’s trivia, lore about the land, or his thoughts on what was and what might have been, you have the ear of the Archmage. Don’t miss it!

So join us Friday, March 17, from 5 to 7 pm EST, and he’ll answer as many questions as his quick wizard fingers will allow.

So grab a pint and join our chat right here! Comments will be opened on Friday at 5pm EST.

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47 Responses

  1. Marie Bilodeau
    Marie Bilodeau

    Welcome to the question period! Please post any question for the Archmage that you have here. Mr. Greenwood will answer as many as possible in the next two hours!

    • Tomokata

      Hi! Thank you! So I can send in a module idea for Forgotten Realms and maybe work with Ed Greenwood to publish it?

      • Ed Greenwood
        Ed Greenwood

        YES! We will be publishing through the DM’s Guild website (the way everything Realms-related gets e-published in the wider world, these days), and I’m looking for one submission per year, related to the location of that year’s Mirt tale (so, this first one, the city of Ormpur on the eastern shore of The Shining Sea, south of the Border Kingdoms and north of Sheirtalar). We’re looking for adventures that “focus in close” on player characters and antagonists, not world-shaking threats that will topple kingdoms, bring gods onstage, or make big changes. Readily “deployable” by many DMs is ideal.

  2. Jean

    I loved Mirt’s adventure from DMG… What dark shadowy places in Ormpur are you hoping to see explores in other people’s adventures?

    • Ed Greenwood
      Ed Greenwood

      Well…what we’ve seen so far are the thaeths “at the top” clashing. And we’ve had hints about how the ruler’s wife is the power behind the throne. What we haven’t seen yet are adventures involving the “everyday merchants” of the city and their machinations (as they compete, make alliances with Sheirtalan investors and traders but try not to end up under the thumbs of these allies, and so on). I would avoid designing any “underground cellar/dungeon crawl,” because I have something up my sleeve in that line already written, that I’m inflicting onXXXX er, playtesting at certain gaming tables right now…

  3. Nicholas Fife

    Hi! What’s your favorite era within the Realms? Are there any plans to return to past eras for future stories or RPGAs?

    • Ed Greenwood
      Ed Greenwood

      My favourite era of the Realms is the late 1350s/early 1360s, purely because that’s where the “home” Realms campaign has spent its in-setting time, thus far. I have PLANS to revisit the past, but they are just swift, vague ideas about moments, NPCs, and events that have had short shrift in print thus far, not any sort of definite “I’m going to do THIS” schemes. Many readers and gamers over the years have asked for more about this character, or that, or “what happened next?” but I don’t want to trample on adventures an individual DM may have spun off the loose ends we left, so…ephemeral plans, but nothing more.
      Yet, he added, and chuckled darkly…

      • Nicholas Fife

        Hahaha, thanks! That’s my favorite Era as well!

  4. Alice

    I loooooove your books. What’s next for you in the Realms? More Elminster soon ? Thank you!

    • Ed Greenwood
      Ed Greenwood

      Oooh, a wizard never tells! ;} I’ve done all-Elminster, all-the-time for years now (THE CITY OF SPLENDORS, STORMLIGHT, and the Knights trilogy are the only exceptions at novel length, and even they ALL had Elminster making at least cameos), so for the moment, I’m highlighting my original over-the-shoulder-POV Realms character, Mirt the Moneylender, in a series of one-a-year tales wherein Laeral, Open Lord of Waterdeep, sends Mirt as a sort of roving “secret agent” (think a blundering James Bond more than a sly spy) to farflung locales in the Realms: places thus far neglected, NOT right in the laps of the published Wizards of the Coast adventures or the current Adventurers League organized play adventures. I want to go on exploring corners of the Realms not yet richly on display, to bring DMs little corners they can set their own campaigns in…

  5. Christian Toft Madsen

    Hi TEGG. First of, keep up the great work!
    Very interesting opening up for fan submissions to FG. What is the intended scale of the adventure considering it to be a self-contained story playable within 1-3 sessions? Sounds like something around or perhaps even less than 10K words.

    • Ed Greenwood
      Ed Greenwood

      Let the adventure be as long as it wants to be. Yes, it can be short. You don’t have to map a kingdom or detail the lineages of dozens of NPC families, or provide rosters of guild membership. I’m most interested in adventure submissions (for this year’s lot, involving Ormpur) that unfold an interesting STORY that gives players a mystery to puzzle out, some fighting, a chance or two for diplomacy and perhaps financial reward that doesn’t come “at the end of a sword,” that feels like it belongs in the Realms as opposed to being generic, something that could happen just anywhere. It doesn’t have to be a long, deep campaign; it can be a short “go up against an angry Xoblob” adventure. Whatever you think will be cool (and can convince ME will be cool). ;}

  6. Ben

    Is there something you’ve never seen done in an RPGA that you’d like to see from a writer? Or maybe something you’d like to see again, or see done differently?

    • Ed Greenwood
      Ed Greenwood

      There’s almost nothing I haven’t seen done in a roleplaying adventure, after all these years, from live-action “fights within the game” or playing chess, cards, and gambling within the game, in-character, to stories that hinge on characters singing or composing poetry or stirring prose on the spot, to magic that switches a PC into the body of the monster they’re fighting…it’s “all been done.”
      That doesn’t mean don’t do it again, and it doesn’t mean you have to track down every previous version from everyone, and study them like a scholar. It means storytelling never gets old for me; I’m always interested in sitting down beside a crackling fire and hearing a cracking good tale . . . so design an adventure that has moral choices built into it and things to intrigue me as a player (as opposed to just fighting and trudging on into the next brawl), and I’ll be happy. I AM a sucker for intrigue and NPC manipulation of PCs, and adding that layer of uncertainty to an adventure (as opposed to nasty traps), I welcome seeing, every time…

  7. Tom

    What do you recommend is most important for novice RPG writers to keep in mind? Maybe a writing resource? Or a wizardly tip?

    • Ed Greenwood
      Ed Greenwood

      Keep the TELLING of the adventure simple and well organized. Give the players lots of choices and chances, even when the physical layout of the situation forces them to run a “set-sequence” gauntlet/gantlet. Roll with multiple outcomes so the players can take their characters in any direction, not just “one true path” you’ve designed for. And my tip is: read. A lot. Widely, too, not just Realms stuff or not just fantasy. The more input, the richer your world-view and the more possibilities will pop into your head for a given challenge or situation. And don’t start too big and bog down: start small, finish nicely crafted building blocks, and they can be strung together into bigger, broader, “campaign-level” adventures.

  8. Tomokata

    What kind of plans do you have? Realms, TEGG, Elminster…?

    • Ed Greenwood
      Ed Greenwood

      My plans are often a mystery, even to me. ;} My TEGG plan is to unleash all sorts of settings (steampunk, mystery, Lovecraftian, swords & sorcery, etc.) on the world that are shared settings for fiction, roleplaying games, board games, and many other media outlets, that many creators and fans can love and share, long after I’m gone. So, lines of books and game products (worldwide, in many languages), with cool “things” (clothing, collectibles, etc.) associated with settings when fans are interested.
      My Realms plans change and must (NDAs I’ve signed with Wizards) remain partially mysterious at all times. My plans for Elminster are the same as for all Realms characters: that they have a convincing, entertaining life arc, wherein they grow, change, and do stuff interesting for us to watch. :}

  9. Nicholas Fife

    So…something I’ve wondered about for a while (and assumed) is that Elminster is very much like an Author Avatar for you within the Realms…placed within them as an in-setting means of guiding things along, much like you yourself have done from the outside.

    (Sorry, I’m sure you have to have gotten this question a million times…but I’ve never seen it asked, or seen the answer.)

    • Ed Greenwood
      Ed Greenwood

      Heh. Elminster was a DM’s mouthpiece who guided and mainly exasperated some of the Knights of Myth Drannor PCs (in the “home” Realms campaign); a sage they could go to, when he was home, and ask lore queries of; someone too powerful for them to coerce, who’d literally “seen it all” and yet obviously shared with them only what he wanted to share (manipulating them to their faces).
      He wasn’t an Author Avatar (I have one in the Realms, “the Questmaster”), he began to seem that way because TSR, back in the day, wanted me to use Elminster as my “iconic” Realms character. Saddled with that, I played up the “unreliable narrator” angle (even more with Volo, who has occasional troubles with the truth) so as to give DMs and fiction writers working in and with the Realms maximum freedom to change things. Many have casually assumed Elminster is my DM’s-wish-fulfillment “Mary Sue,” and nothing could be farther from the truth: he’s the character I’m contractually obligated to keep in the foreground, when I’d usually be happier looking over the shoulder of a low-powered novice exploring the Realms and getting into trouble doing so…
      But yes, at the gaming table, Elminster could pop in to tell a band of fledgling PC adventurers: “Well, you’ve really gotten yourselves into a fine mess this time, haven’t you? If you’d found the secret door three rooms back, you just MIGHT have survived, but as it is . . .”
      (Heh-heh. Cue the mad PC rush to get three rooms back, like NOW.)

      • Nicholas Fife

        Hahahaha, I love it! (And have been known to introduce my own DM-mouthpiece from time to time.)

        To be honest, I love Elminster…the sheer snark and exasperation of his character at times…I can’t help but find him amusing. (Though, I must admit that his origin story in Elminster: Making of a mage is, and probably always will be my favorite Elminster tale.)

        But my favorite Realms books by you had to have been the Shandril Saga. She had so much power, but…so raw and untapped…her and Narm’s ignorance of the world helped create a fun dichotomy to read, at least for me.

      • Ed Greenwood
        Ed Greenwood

        Yes, I enjoyed writing the Shandril books (though SPELLFIRE got cut by two-thirds) as a way to introduce the Zhents and Harpers and the Dales and Elminster’s gadfly role to readers, and have fun lampooning some of the tropes of fantasy quest and D&D adventuring fiction. ELMINSTER: THE MAKING OF A MAGE also got drastically shortened; I wrote 120K words just on his thieving career in Hastarl, with Farl and the gang, very Fahrd & Mouser style, and it had to be shortened to make room for the other 3 sections of the book. I’d love to do a tale of Narm much later, with Shandril as his in-the-Weave guide, as he adventures “alone but not alone”…

  10. Myrtle

    What elements of Ormpur do you like the best? Any dives or haunts or other bits you particularly favor?

    • Ed Greenwood
      Ed Greenwood

      Heh. No special faves. I’ve been writing an ongoing Volo’s Guide-like series of entries about local eateries, taverns, inns, clubs, and notable buildings for about two years now, and I’m partial to the places that serve food that makes my mouth water as I write about it (or read about it). :}

  11. Nicholas Fife

    What are your thoughts about intrigue among players? One of my favorite tricks is to recruit one player to be the secret antagonist…to be revealed as such at whatever time the Players are weakest. What would be your advice to working something like that into an RPGA?

    • Ed Greenwood
      Ed Greenwood

      Heh. My advice would be NOT to set up one PC as the villain, when they could ALL be. Or to put it another way, give them all motives and opportunities to foment intrigue. This is what I put into the Realms before D&D existed, with the “power groups” like the Zhentarim and the Harpers; the same things Wizards has formally added to the game as “factions.” So in a typical Adventurers League adventure, the Harpers have THIS interest in what’s going on (and desired outcomes), the Lords’ Alliance has THAT interest/aims, the Zhents have THIS OTHER thing they want to happen, and so on (like multiple overlapping but conflicting “viuctory conditions” in a board game…to use a Realms example, when you play LORDS OF WATERDEEP, you as a Lord are aiming to accomplish something different from the other Lords, as your “best path” to winning). I usually want intrigue involving several schemers not all on the same team, not one dastardly embedded villain who does a Big Reveal at a dark moment and makes the other players feel cheated…

      • Nicholas Fife

        That makes sense. Excellent advice! Some which I believe I’ll have to put to good use….

  12. Tom

    How do you keep an adventure rolling along at a good clip? What’s the trick to making sure players don’t get bored?

    • Ed Greenwood
      Ed Greenwood

      Pacing is key to fun, memorable adventures: giving players breaks when they need them, “thinking time” when confronted by puzzles, and so on. And you master pacing by getting to know your players and what THEY like and want out of a game, what they find interesting. Then, as DM, give it to them but always add variations so they don’t get bored (if you love chocolate ice cream and I give you the best chocolate ice cream I can find at every meal, for a year, I suspect chocolate ice cream will soon be far less of a thrill). You and your players have to be on the same wavelength when it comes to what you want to do or cover in a game, and HOW you want to do it. (Speak only in character? Or allow lots of outside-the-game kibitzing? Lots of fast, hard fighting? Or no-weapons-drawn subtle intrigue?) And make what the characters do and decide MATTER, so it seems important to your players and they feel they’ve really achieved something. If they can take real pride in what the team accomplished, you’ve made their lives richer. Yes, it’s only make-believe…but it’s no less rewarding. You’re building memories together; make them good.

  13. Joseph

    How do you create a memorable character like Elminster? Are you even aware of doing it as you’re creating them?

    • Ed Greenwood
      Ed Greenwood

      “Memorable” varies from player to reader, but I begin with a brief “snapshot” as if I was a director telling an actor what I want a character to come across as. For example, Rordran is one of those grim, scarred old veteran warriors who spends his aching, elderly days sourly drinking in taverns with his friends (and his few friends, who are getting fewer as they die off, are all fellow grizzled veterans). He disapproves of the younger generations and their fashions and ways, and doesn’t bother to hide it. But he grunts and gives dark looks instead of arguing with anyone or trying to win arguments; why bother? They’re brainless younglings; let them learn the hard way, as he had to. Add a one-line physical description to that, and you have a character anyone can readily portray.
      What then makes them memorable is what they say and do; the moral choices they make (e.g. Patrick Stewart’s character in the movie EXCALIBUR: “I saw what I saw. The boy drew the sword.”).
      And after all these years, working on 300-some books and game products (and hundreds more short stories and magazine articles), many of them in settings created by others, I just go ahead and create what I must, or am allowed to, to make the story unfolding right here and now better. I don’t play favourites or build certain characters up to be “memorable.” I used to drive TSR editors nuts by treating the guards who get mugged by the PCs or the villains, whom we see for the first time only as they’re being taken down, the same way I treated protagonists (telling you about the families they leave behind as they die, and so on). Had to be chopped out of the story, but I was making them real (and making the Realms richer as I went along).

  14. Ben

    Beyond Forgotten Realms and D&D, do you have a favorite RPG setting or game?

    • Ed Greenwood
      Ed Greenwood

      I have no one favourite; I like many things. I’ve always been partial to the original Arkham Horror boardgame, and Call of Cthulhu (or Trail of Cthulhu or the other takes on “period” Lovecraftian horror). I fall in love with story, not rules mechanics, and the Vance “voice and style” of Robin Law’s Dying Earth roleplaying game delights me as Vance’s originals did, the intrigue possible in Amber Diceless enthralled me with the right group of players, and products like Bookhounds of London or Ken Hite’s Nazi Occult stuff (and akin to it, Achtung Cthulhu! from Mophidius) I find endlessly entertaining…and then there’s all the awesome Monte and all of his crew have been bringing to the gaming table, from The Strange to Invisible Sun…you see? No one favourite, but lots and lots of things I love to try…

      • Ben

        That’s awesome – I find to be creative you need to branch out like that. Thanks!

  15. Myrtle

    When you sit down to come up with an adventure what is the first thing you take into account? The characters, setting, plot…?

    • Ed Greenwood
      Ed Greenwood

      That depends.
      I’m not trying to be funny when I say that, it really DOES depend on the situation: am I writing for myself as DM? For a specific group of players whose likes, dislikes, or foibles I know? Or am I writing for publication?
      If the latter, it’s rare to have a publisher say: Do whatever you want and we’ll publish it. (It has happened.) Usually, the length, theme (pirates, fighting giants, defeating undead or wizards or a bad king), deadlines, rules systems, and some elements (the cover, or elements within the adventure such as: make sure there’s a spell battle, or they fight giant beetles, or there are gems as treasure) are set beforehand, and I have to connect the dots. Some game editors are very “hands on,” and want to rewrite and change the adventure as it develops; others want to see a finished draft and just eyeball it for what they don’t want. So…it depends. :}
      However, for me on my own: I need to know what strength of party I’m designing for (or build in how to scale it up or down “on the fly”), what sort of DM/GM I’m writing for (novice, so explain everything clearly and keep challenges clear-cut and not overlapping) or veteran (I can use shorthand and let the DM/GM juggle four different monsters at once in the same encounter, as the castle falls apart around the fighting PCs and traps spring). I need to begin with what need I want the adventure to fill, and then quickly move to the plot, because only then will the adventure have shape and pacing and an ending; otherwise it will become a string of “and then go into this room and fight this, and then go on into the next room and battle that.”

  16. Rick

    How do you write so much? Do you stick to a routine? Do you ever eat???

    • Ed Greenwood
      Ed Greenwood

      Heh. As I’m now diabetic, I eat often but lightly (IF I can). I can’t stick to a routine because I am so busy and must shift to deal with changing shifts at my day job (public library), the demands of life (car battery died a few days back; had to get a new one), nursing my wife (who is over 80 and now depends on me), and running TEGG as well as writing and designing “just for me.” So I have no routine. I DO put my bum on the chair and my fingers on the keyboard and write, not putter along for years on something “when I feel like it.” Which is just fine for writing/designing as a hobby, but not so good when others are depending on, and waiting for, your “next bit” to be finished. I can write fast, after 50 years and many, many projects, so I do. :}

  17. Rachael

    Any tips on establishing a really evocative setting for players when writing an RPGA?

    • Ed Greenwood
      Ed Greenwood

      Without going on for pages, make sure you provide enough description that players know the basics and don’t feel cheated (“You didn’t tell us there was another door! I wouldn’t have stayed to fight six hundred hobgoblins if I’d known there was an escape route!”), and then short, vivid passages of description so players can “see in their mind’s eye” the monster, or the NPC, or the crumbling castle. Description written so the DM/GM can read it aloud without having to edit out “secret stuff” on the fly. Cover smells and sounds, not just what the eye sees.
      Your descriptions should make it clear this is a living world, not a static stage set: trees rot and fall and burn after getting hit by lightning, flowers wither, people taking shortcuts carve trails across fields, and everything sentient races build needs repairs, or it begins to sag and weather.
      Then make the ADVENTURE matter, deeds and events having consequences, and it will all start to “feel real”…

  18. Adria

    I’ve heard rumors about TEGG coming up with its own basic gaming system for all your settings. Is that true? Will it be out soon? Will we be able to use it for Hellmaw and Stormtalons?

    • Ed Greenwood
      Ed Greenwood

      Yes, the rumors are true, and yes, you will. We’re calling it Quickblade RPG. It’s a fast, simple gaming system that non-gamers or novice gamers should be able to quickly “take to,” and veterans can read and translate as they go so as to use our stuff with their favourite other gaming system. Realms@TEGG stuff will of course be D&D 5th edition as all Realms stuff published through the DM’s Guild site is, but we’re doing QB (Quickblade) as our gaming system for all of our many settings (existing and to come), purely to make them simple and with primary focus on the STORY/plot, NOT on adventure mechanics or stats that may differ from established rules system to established rules system.
      Quickblade is in the hands of Geoff Gander, assisted by Brandon Crilly, right now for final tweaking; I started it and TSR veteran Steven Schend developed it in early incarnations.
      However, our focus is on adventures, not rules. We want to play!

  19. Burhanettin

    Archmage, you said to avoid “underground cellar/dungeon crawl,” can you give us some details as it is underground but how deep? Is it a wine cellar/secret door/dungeons/human cellar/evil lab kind or vast and deep holes crawling with weird creatures kind? Are caverns plausible? Also may I humbly ask if there is a deadline for the adventure?

    • Ed Greenwood
      Ed Greenwood

      There’s no set deadline for getting the adventure to a final state, or for it being published; we want it to take as long as needed to craft a good adventure. Your “pitch” or proposed adventure idea for the one open Ormpur adventure slot, however, DOES have a deadline: this March 31 (the end of this current month). Submit via the online form linked to in this blog post.
      As Ormpur is a port city on a shallow warm seacoast, with the end of a mountain range (the Wormbones) right beside it, caverns are possible, but unlikely not to be flooded. However, “underground” as in “running through the cellars of city buildings” is fine.
      BUT…I warned against such adventures because I’ve already written one, that will appear on the DM’s Guild site before the end of this year, and we don’t want to publish anything too “alike” to it. I know that’s hard to do if you haven’t seen this still-secret adventure…which is why I warned everyone away from it.
      If you set your adventure in a series of secret passages hidden inside the thick walls of the most massive warehouses and grandest mansions of Ormpur (which is, remember, much closer to, say, Morocco in architecture than it is to medieval England), I can guarantee we haven’t already got something too close to it. I’d avoid vast deep holes crawling with weird creatures…always ask yourself as a designer: if this has been here for long, why has it taken until THESE characters, right now, for anyone to stumble across it? Why has it lasted “like this” up until this moment?
      Oh, and have FUN! :}

      • Burhanettin

        “Wisdom of the Archmage caught me aloof and taught much more than I deserve…”

  20. sno4wy

    Hi (again) Ed! First, I wanted to thank you again for the hug at Gamehole Con last November. If I could’ve somehow scraped it off and preserved it for all eternity, I totally would have! ;P One thing that I wanted to ask you there, but was too tongue-tied to do so in person, has to do with LGBT representation in the Realms, specifically, the men belonging to that spectrum. One of the things I love the most about the Forgotten Realms is that it’s free of the bigotry that exists in the real world, but I can’t help but notice that LGBT representation in Realms literature is very predominantly female. Can you tell me why this is the case?

    • Ed Greenwood
      Ed Greenwood

      I’m just guessing, but I suspect it’s because in modern North America, a majority of readers, writers, and editors are probably more comfortable depicting female characters and actions differing from the heterosexual “norm” than they are handling male (or hermaphroditic or even androgynous).
      I designed the Realms from the outset to just be clearly “different” than the mores of our modern, real-world, Christian-dominated society. Not to get in anyone’s face, but just to make it look and feel DIFFERENT. (This was before D&D existed, or for that matter the Internet, over 50 years ago.)
      The PUBLISHED Realms of course minimized this, because why lose customers or borrow trouble unless there’s a STORY reason for any element…and we weren’t writing X-rated stuff for adults, so such matters were never foreground. But same-sex liaisons and multiple-partner unions of various sorts were always there (and if you peer hard at even the earliest Realms products, you can see the hints).
      Oh, there’s bigotry in the Realms (dwarves and elves), but much of it is on an individual level, not a societal.
      But I SUSPECT lady-on-lady is somehow more accepted, so that’s why you see more glimpses/suggestions of it.