The Heroes of the Realms
Culture and technology
Economically and technologically, Faerûn is comparable to Western Europe during the late Middle Ages, giving most new players using this campaign setting an intuitive grasp of the way the society functions. Gunpowder, known here as the magical substance smoke powder and different in its composition from historical gunpowder, is starting to make an appearance, but much of the armament is still dominated by pre-gunpowder weaponry such as swords, spears, and bows. Most of the population of Faerûn consists of farmers, who are organized somewhat loosely in a semi-feudal system. There are also a number of notable cities, and trade between nations is common, comparable to the Renaissance era. Likewise, there are regions where more barbaric tribes and customs still persist.
A major difference in the setting from Earth is the presence of magic. The system of magic is subdivided into divine and arcane categories, with the former empowered by a Faerûnian deity, and the latter by rituals or innate abilities which manipulate a mystical field called the Weave, the source of magical energies on Toril. Faerûn has a pantheon of deities that are worshiped by the inhabitants of this region. These are comparable to mythological deities of the ancient Greek pantheon, and cover a range of ethical beliefs and portfolios of interests.
Faerûn is home to a number of non-human creatures of varying degrees of civilization or barbarism. Among these are several different races of dwarves, gnomes, halflings and elves, as well as goblins, orcs, lizardmen, ogres, various giants, and even dragons.
There are a number of organized alliances in Faerûn, with each pursuing their own particular agenda. A few are dedicated to decent and honest causes, such as the Harpers, who protect the good-natured races and seek a balance between civilization and nature. The Harpers are opposed by evil organizations, including the Red Wizards of Thay and the nihilistic Cult of the Dragon. In the northern lands, the Zhentarim is an evil network seeking to dominate the region. Their efforts are being resisted by the Lords’ Alliance, a council of knights that pursues the interests of the northern cities. Other organizations of Faerûn include the magical Seven Sisters, a band of assassins called the Fire Knives, a group of ruthless thieves operating out the city of Waterdeep named the Xanathar’s Guild, and the mysterious Shades—-the returning survivors of the long-fallen Netheril empire.
The sub-continent of Faerûn is set on the planet Toril, or, more formally, Abeir Toril . Faerûn is the western part of an unnamed supercontinent that is quite similar to real-world Afro-Eurasia. The subterranean regions underneath Faerûn are called the Underdark
Faerûn includes terrain that is as varied as Europe, western Asia, and much of Africa is on our planet Earth. Role-playing campaigns in Faerûn can be set in a wide variety of locations, each with its own hazards and potential rewards for the participants. Likewise, the region that the players explore can determine what types of monsters they will face, which famous individuals they will encounter, and what types of missions they assume.