Friday, September 25, 2009

The Anti-Sandbox Sandbox Pt. 2

So, since my first work on this way back in April, I've finished the first level of my megadungeon, had an adventure in my megadungeon, found a town/village I want to use, drawn a map for my sandbox area of 270 x 150 miles, and started fleshing out lots of areas. I am not getting too detailed on anything as I want this to be mostly seat of the pants, although I am recycling and borrowing a lot of "set piece" dungeons I can plop into the wilderness, both for my own enjoyment and hopefully to tweak the old school memories of players. So far I have taken a lot of the old Dragon contest winner dungeons of the early 80s and plopped them into locales...Forest of Dread, Citadel by the Sea, and Mechica await discovery within my sandbox area!

Just to update my purpose here, I wanted an easier, quicker adventure setting to run when my group couldn't get together, or I had random people populating my gaming table and didn't want to include them in my regular campaigning. Something quick but fun that I could pull out and run at a moment's notice, but enough "fiddly bits" that it would amuse me. I use 2E, with lots of fiddly bits, so I streamlined it down to a manageable set of rules, limited characters and races to mostly archetypes, and tried to get character creation quick and simple. While not as easy as running, say, Swords & Wizardry or Labyrinth Lord, I was able (with help from friends who took on character creation to work out the kinks) to get it down to 5-15 min (5 min for a simple fighter, 15 min for a paladin which had more decisions to make that I thought for his creation). With some practice I think I can streamline it even more. I'll have more on my rules systems, character types, etc in later posts. I tried to use as many random charts and lists as I could for ease of character creation, while allowing some choice. I just didn't want to bog down the process too much, while still keeping some of the aspects I enjoy about my own campaign world and the home brew rules system I use.

For the first adventure, I was able to write up about 40 rooms in the SE corner of my megadungeon (which, btw, in my search for simplicity is taken entirely from the classic D&D Dungeon Geomorph tile sets!) with the use of random charts and my imagination, and decided to wing it if they went any farther (I wasn't too worried, they were all first level and wouldn't survive too deeply into the depths). I'll have to think of a catchy name for the dungeon; for right now, it's the "Dungeon in the Desert". Here's the reason why, plus the initial set up:

On the edge of town, in front of the watchtower of the church of Kazull, stands a gate that leads to an underground dungeon. The dungeon is apparently vast and ancient, and is in some other part of the world, as those who have made it to the surface speak of a vast desert area (unlike the sylvan wilderness where the village and environs are located). The dungeon is located underneath ancient ruins, in a desolate sand desert with temperatures 100 degrees or more. Nearby, on the surface, is a stronghold of the evil priesthood of Inari, but the priests curiously show little interest in adventurers or the ruins. There is a small oasis nearby, but nothing else for many miles except for rock, sand and waste. Explorers say that if you travel far enough you get to the tall and unscaleable walls of some massive cliffs, surrounding on all sides, indicating the entire location is in a rift.

The gate was found one day several years ago. It apparently appeared out of thin air, as it was visible one morning on the outskirts of town. Curiosity drove many to investigate, where they found it led to some underground cavern. However, the gate is two way and soon fell creatures began emerging to terrorize the townfolk. The local authorities appealed to their duke for help, and he sent several troops to deal with the menace. They realized they were over their head as the creatures kept emerging. Responding to entreaties for aid, soon the church of Kazull built a temple in front of the gate to deal with any emerging creatures. They were joined by the priesthoods of Nythiir and Vistna who also set up nearby temples. War with humanoids and evil barbarians took up much of the duke’s time and men the last decade, so little could be spent fortifying the gate area. However, the gate began to attract visitors in the form of adventurers, and they were able to keep the monster population controlled, along with the help of the various priesthoods.

The dungeon dates from pre cataclysmic days and is the source of much treasure. It also is the source of many creatures of evil temperament. Since the mysterious gate opened, many gems, rare art, and magic has been brought out. However, many adventurers have entered never to return. Others have emerged rich beyond belief. Your destiny awaits!

The three priesthoods mentioned, btw, are the three main branches of religion that can be followed by PCs, and each church has a few special abilities available to their priests (Kazull-Battle, Nythiir-Healing, Vistna-Knowledge). Anyway, I've always wanted a deserted, forlorn, isolated setting, and the Dungeon in the Desert does this, while leaving escape back to a cozy and comfortable tavern and village if they make it back to the gate in one piece. I haven't worked out a ton of the logistics, but I figure the gate is a hazy shimmering in the air about 12 feet high, roughly oval in shape, surrounded by a small constructed archway/entrance (so some poor farmer or sheep herd or drunk doesn't stumble through on their way out of town by accident). Probably a contingent of city guardsmen and a few random priests in hastily constructed stone or wooden buildings about 100 yds away in case something nasty happens to stumble through from the other side. A small "waiting" area where people can hang out (or camp out) while waiting for friends or companions that have entered, or where loners can mill about looking for a possible group who is short on members, or other single adventurers like themselves, to join up with and try their hand at finding treasure and adventure. Perhaps at one time vendors and salesmen set up makeshift tents nearby to sell food and supplies to adventurers, but I've decided they are no longer allowed due to several incidents (plus, the shopkeepers in town protested vigorously as they were losing business to these fly by nighters). City guardsmen gruffly enforce the "move along, nothing to see here" attitude by knocking down any structures put up and arresting anyone selling items outside the walls of the town.

The first approach goes something like this: the PCs approach the gate area from the village, walking slowly to the hill where the tower of the Kazullian priesthood stands like a lone sentinel against whatever might emerge from the shimmering gate. As they get closer, a couple of adventurer types, covered with sweat, blood and dirt, walk past them, too exhausted to raise a hand in greeting as they head for the village to spend whatever gold or gems they found in the depths on drink, healing, sleep and a bath, in that order. A hundred yards away from the gate the makeshift wooden and stone buildings show some activity as priests and off-duty guardsmen mill about, fixing something on a pot suspended over a fire. A small knot of city guardsmen near the gate throw dice and laugh at the results as the players file past them to the waiting area. A few unsavory looking thief types, and a hulking barbarian, are sitting on large rocks and bedrolls eying the party as they troop right past the waiting area to the gate itself. Framed by a crumbling stone "doorway" that arches over the area, the 12 x 12 area seems to shimmer and haze like a mirage...the countryside beyond can be seen through the gate, but it's as if through a gauzy veil...if the stone archway wasn't in place, and unwary traveler might just stumble inside by accident.

When the gate is entered, the party is in the entry room of the dungeon.


The atmosphere immediately changes, and you realize you are underground. A dank, musty, wet sand smell fills your nose. Someone has placed a large rock with a continual light spell in the ground about 15 feet in front of you, and it gives off it’s illumination against the dark.
Behind you is a solid wall of rubble dozens of feet high…the gate you came in from appears to lead into the rubble as if a tunnel, although you cannot see the place you just left (just as you couldn't see inside the cavern from the other side). In front of you and all around you are the remains of dozens (hundreds?) of battles, bones and broken weapons and pieces of equipment in the churned up sand that seems to be permanently stained with blood. Many battles have been fought in this area, some recently if the stench of death is any indication (joined by the stench of bat guano, a colony must reside on the ceiling here).
You get the impression of a large, high chamber, surrounded by blackness…the ceiling slopes upward at the edges to rise to a height of about 70 feet in the center. Behind the range of the light there you can see small shapes squirming on the ceiling…bats, many of them. Far above you can see a very faint sliver of light…..some sort of natural chimney must lead out to the surface. Outside the range of the artificial light, all is darkness except to your right (which you immediately label as East, despite any evidence for or against). About 90 feet away, you see several burning torches set behind what looks like a constructed stone wall about 6 feet high with a wooden door in the center. The wall extends for 100 feet or so and forms a semi-circle around a large stone wall. You can make out human shapes behind the wall at intervals, and they shout a warning at your arrival, giving the impression of alertness.
To the left, more ominous sounds, the rumble of humanoid voices and whispers from beyond the range of the light

I had two players, one with an elven mage (he told me he had never run a mage before), the other with a Paladin of Nythiir, and the group was filled out with a dwarven fighter, a human thief, and a human priest of Kazull, God of Battle....more on their first foray later! Rolling up the mage was fast and simple, the paladin took much longer, most of that my fault, as I had not reckoned on someone wanting a paladin first up (like I said, my fault, but it was good practice and now I've streamlined the paladin creation). A party consisting of fighters, thieves and mages would be pretty quick to work up; clerics (and paladins by extension) take a bit more time to create due to religious considerations (each of the three priesthoods you can follow gives you special abilities). However, once someone is familiar with the three priesthoods, that won't take much time either. My goal is to be very Retro-cloneish or Simulacrum-like and have it down to five minutes or less (actually, you can have a fighter or mage up and running that quick or quicker already).

More on their first adventure, and some of my character types, later....

Monday, September 14, 2009

Skype May Be the Future of Old School Gaming

Just starting my second online D&D campaign using Skype (and Gametable) for communication purposes as my players brave the jungles of the Isle of Delos. So far so good, even if my older computer causes me to mysteriously drop out on occasion (although I managed to hold on over two hours last session without a drop off, and typically I can immediately hook back up into the chat room).
For those that don't know, Skype is basically phone calling online....or when you have several people, like a giant conference call. You talk into a mic, and the sound comes out of your speakers (and sounds great). Heck, stick a webcam on your computer, and it's like those 1950's era newsreels that showed people talking on futuristic screens to someone else while calling them on the phone....although I think this level of participation isn't usually needed to enjoy a good D&D game online.

My first Skype campaign lasted for quite awhile and was truly a very important milestone in the way I now approach the game, and my hope for the future of old farts like myself that play OOP rule sets (we use a customized version of 2E). Below is a list of some of the reasons why I enjoy using Skype, and why I think it may be the future of old school gaming....

1. It allows gamers from all over the world to get together in one room.....and game.

My game now has a member from Alabama, Florida, Missouri, Canada, and Texas (myself). The odds are incredibly good that we five will NEVER be in the same room together at one time, much less the weekly meetings it would take to run a regular campaign. Gaming with someone stuck overseas (by chance or by choice) becomes a slight obstacle only in the area of different timezones making one player game at 8 pm and the other at noon.

2. It allows you to draw from a larger pool of old school gamers

All of us using OOP rules systems, particularly those of us in out-of-the-way or non-gaming areas, have experienced the pain of attempting to locate a group (more than two) of other gamers who not only play the GAME you want, but the EDITION you are interested in...all within the same area (say, an hour's drive) from where you live. While those of us who play in a large population center like the DFW area are better off, it still took awhile before I was able to locate enough gamers for a face to face group (a group that didn't play 3.5, basically). Using Skype, your pool increases quite a bit. It's especially a godsend for one of our current members (who is stuck in SE Missouri and has looked in vain for months after being relocated for a group to join).

3. It allows you to have a regular time and place to meet

I have a great face to face group, consisting of other old timers who love old school gaming...but due to commitments and distance that needs to be traveled (everyone involved must drive from 15-45 minutes to reach my place) we only meet once a month (if that). Skype allows you, from the comfort of your own home, to meet at a regular time every week because the travel time is nil. So far both of the games I've had using Skype met regularly once a week like clockwork. As a bonus, if the game runs over to say 2 am (as mine have) there are no inner monologues concerning how long it's going to take to drive home, or if you should have that last beer before driving, or if you can game any longer because you have work tomorrow...because as soon as the game ends, you shut off the computer and roll into bed. Less wasted travel time means more time to game....!

4. It allows minimal preparation time

No minis, no maps, no setup...You just turn on the computer, fire up Skype, connect everyone, and start gaming. I keep all my gaming info in a pile on my desk, although a lot of it is also on my computer. Rather than having to print out long descriptive passages, lists of treasure, character sheets, spell descriptions, etc...I can just cut and paste from my files or a pdf and email the player. For my recent game, I scanned in maps of the area and emailed them out to everyone. I also put together character sheets using the old 2E core rules and expansion cd roms, and email those also. For a gaming area we use Gametable, which has a graph paper grid, dice roller, and drop and draggable props like trees, monsters, etc.

While I dearly love using my collection of painted lead minis (some classics from the late 70s), my dwarven forge wall sets, my giant battleboards, piles of snacks and drinks, and my cool looking dice, it's fun to have my preparation time consist of turning on the computer and getting comfortable in my chair.

5. It will allow older gamers to participate no matter what their future lifestyle

My wife and I have toyed with the idea of "Living the RV lifestyle" on occasion, to the point of actually pricing and scoping out different "homes on wheels". I don't know if it's something we would do for a long time, but even a few years could be a crimp in my gaming schedule. Probably not a bunch of RV driving couples out there that have fond memories of their elven warriors tacking B2. Not with would be as easy as finding a wireless connection (which are becoming more and more ubiquitous) to hook up and enjoy your gaming group. Not to mention, as we get older, physical barriers may prevent us from gaming more than we realize. Skype would also be a godsend to the handicapped, bedridden, disabled, and those of us that might retire to more inaccessible locales (say, the hill country or backwoods of Texas) where face to face gaming would be darn near impossible on a weekly basis.

6. Skype is easy to set up and use

I'm a total computer Luddite, and I was able to not only install Skype and us it but instruct others in it's use. all that is required is some sort of microphone (most modern computers have it built in; my older model has a very cheap plug in version that sounds fine) and to download Skype. We use a online gaming client called Gametable (there are may of these, of different types and complexity) which allows me to draw maps on graph paper or roll dice which everyone I'm talking to can see. There's absolutely nothing to's totally intuitive and simple to use, even with a group. There are slight technical snafus every once in awhile, but none have ever proven anything but a minor nuisance.

7. Skype could become a successful way to demonstrate old systems or newer simulacrums

Maybe you meet a bunch of people in a chatroom online that always wanted to play 1E, or OD&D, or B/X D&D, but they have never met a DM with the rulebooks, or anyone else interested in using an OOP system. Maybe you want to run a Labyrinth Lord or Swords & Wizardry campaign, but none of your present group (or no one in the area) is even slightly interested. Skype allows you to go online, recruit a few volunteers, and be gaming in mere minutes. This works even better if you have a guilty thrill (say, Gamma world or Star Frontiers) that is really obscure and impossible to find anyone to play except that dude in Australia and the other in Seattle.

I don't know what Skype will look like in the future (or what it will be called), but it's given me a lot of hope for my gaming needs as I get older. I know that whatever happens, as long as I remain in touch with my gaming buddies from the past, or join an online forum like Dragonsfoot or The Acaeum where like minded people meet, I will be able to game online for as long as I can talk. Whether I end up on a ranch in the Panhandle, a nursing home on the coast, or driving across America in an RV, I'll be able to fire up the computer, get online, and game!

Anyone else successful in using Skype to game old school online?

Friday, September 11, 2009

The 1st Edition Forgotten Realms

Ed Greenwood's Forgotten Realms has gotten a bad rep over the years, and old schoolers and grognards have blamed it for everything from destroying D&D to causing dandruff. I always get intrigued that most of the brickbats are thrown by a group of people (mostly the OSR crowd) that proudly carry the flag of never having bought or used anything post-EGG. The Forgotten Realms, in their mind, is just a handy scapegoat of the entire post-Gygaxian sweep that the POG (as Frank Mentzer calls her) instituted. Any contact might cause a disease of the most uncurable type!

Yet, when released in 1987, the original Forgotten Realms boxed set was firmly ensconced in the 1E game rules and mindset. It's my thesis that taken alone, with only the very few pre-2E products (the supplements FR1-6, plus module N5 and perhaps even the City System boxed set) is a pretty solid sandbox setting for old schoolers. Reading and using the above materials, I find it hard to believe that a lot of the complaints about the Forgotten Realms hold up. I know when first introduced, we started 1E campaigns based in the Moonshae isles with nothing but the boxed set, FR1 and FR2 to back us up, and it felt more like a sandbox setting than almost anything I've played since.

Complaint #1: It's second edition!
No, actually, the products above are all firmly 1st edition, and have a 1st edition feel and mindset. Ed Greenwood ran a 1E campaign, and most of the material presented in the first few supplements (and all of the boxed set) is from his original notes and campaign. Now, FR is not's more explicitly a FANTASY setting rather than the quasi-post war European/medieval setting of the WOG. Like Runequest, the FR posits a more fantasy milieu than the WOG's very much human-centric setting, not to mention WOG'sfirm boundaries between countries and regions, and "ghettoization" of the demi-humans into their own firmly established realms. FR is actually much more wide open, kitchen sink, dare I say, "SANDBOX" oriented than the firmly established pecking order of the WOG's setting.

That the FR setting was chosen as the "face" of the new AD&D 2E rules set has no effect on that which came before; the eventual examination, codification, and over-development of the setting in the wake of 2E was yet to come. As most old schoolers have read little that TSR released post-Gygax (more later), it's not surprising they would lump most of the FR setting into "Second Edition" and not realize the first couple of years were 1st edition material.

Complaint #2: It's too "Fluffy" and not grim and gritty enough
I would argue that as written, the FR is a pretty darn mirthless place. An entire country full of powerful evil wizards (Thay) seeking to subjugate their neighbors; an evil god roaming the Moonshae Isles; "The Savage North" well named because hordes of orcs and barbarians lurk around every mountain (with "Hellgate Keep", and entire city given over to demons and their ilk, as it's centerpiece); an entire evil organization (The Zhentarim) threatening to take over the Dalelands from it's center of evil, the city of Zhentil Keep; Elves, a powerful force for good, leaving the continent in droves to return to their homeland of Evermeet (leaving behind a gigantic ruined elven city full of nasties); a civil war ongoing in the country of Tethyr; an entire country run by a merchant council (this may be the most bonechilling of all!), and the supposedly placid Dalelands themselves just recovering from a nasty civil war (Lashan's Folly). Not to mention dangers only hinted at in the original boxed set. To me, this passage in FR5 The Savage North (written by the estimable Paul Jaquays) seems to put the lie to "fluffy" as a perspective to life in the North:

Though it has been centuries since the last orc invasion, there is still constant strife. Barbarians harass merchants,travelers, and towns; the seas are filled with Northmen pirates; the demon forces of Hellgate Keep assault the east; and two wars have marred the land in recent years. Luskan, now a fierce merchant city known to harbor (and support) pirates, wages war with the island realm of Ruathym over an actof piracy against a Luskan merchant ship; and to the far north, in Icewind Dale beyond the Spine of the World, the Ten Towns are slowly rebuilding after being nearly destroyed by the monstrous forces of Akar Kessell.

I would argue the "fluffiness" of the FR came later, after the Powers That Be decided to turn the FR into less a sandbox and more an "adventurer friendly" (or player centric as some have said). Heck, just compare the spare yet intriguing description of Waterdeep in FR1 compared to the bloated and over the top portrayal in 1994's remake Box set City of Splendors. Waterdeep turns from a somewhat sinister fantasy city with lots of dark alleys and dangerous inhabitants to the Disneyland of Faerun.

Complaint #3: The move from WOG to FR is a shift from a DM-centric to Player-centric model
I have no doubt this is what eventually happened, with the numerous and unending handbooks, supplements and compendiums. However, the original FR does NOT support this view. It can be seen as a really well written sandbox for both players and DMs, but initially, the DM is given a lot to work with. Remember, only a handful of products (Boxed set, FR1-6, N5, and City System) were put out to support the FR before 2E. Of these, one describes the setting in very bare terms, gives a couple of sample adventures, a smattering of campaign specific info (the gods of Faerun, the calendar, timelines, characters, etc), a paragraph or two about most countries...the barest of necessities to run a campaign there. FR1 deals with the city of Waterdeep (and is actually less meaty and detailed than, say, Midkemia's Jonril or Tulan, Runequest's Pavis, or Warhammer's Middenheim); FR2 the Celtic flavored Moonshae Isles; FR3 the odd triumvirate of Amn, Calimshan, and Tethyr south of the Northlands; FR5 the north, and FR6 The lands east of Thay and surrounding (FR4, The Magister, is an excellent sourcebook of new magic items, spells and tidbits).
Notice what is details about the Dalelands or Cormyr, seemingly too of the most advantageous locales for starting an adventuring party. That's because in the original boxed set, a page or two is spent on delivering some basic info about the Dalelands and Shadowdale, Cormyr, Myth Drannor and other interesting locations....because that was ENOUGH info to use for a campaign setting! Unlike later publications, you weren't beat over the head with detail after detail, and the development of these areas was left to the DMs (and Players) imagination. In the first few supplements, many possible settings for adventure (Waterdeep, The Moonshaes, the South, the North, Thay's neighbors) are developed to the slight extent that they can be expanded upon by a diligent DM

Complaint #4 : The Forgotten Realms was a slap in the face to Gary
What can you say? There are a LOT of old school guys that never again bought an item from TSR or WOTC after the way EGG was tossed out back in the 80s. I have to think Ed Greenwood and the Forgotten Realms were not remotely responsible, like any of us would turn down having our homebrew campaign world be the face of TSR at the time (and if you say otherwise, unless you were a personal friend of EGG like Frank Mentzer, take it somewhere else because you are a fucking liar). However, the FR did take on the "face" of the movement to toss Gary, and suffered among the old school because of this.
Like 2E hatred, dislike of the Forgotten Realms is rooted in deep-seated animosity that has nothing to do with the setting (or system). Sandy Peterson, Dave Hargraves, Paul Jaquays, Steve Marsh, and Steve Perrin could have gotten together and created the next setting and system of TSR, and it would have been spit on and derided by the same group of grogs. I find most FR-haters have no (or very little) working knowledge of the original setting except for the buzz word of "Elminster" (who started out a bit NPC character in the original setting) and aren't typically qualified to comment on whether or not it's any good; the circumstances of EGG's ouster are too ugly and painful for such to ever accept anything that came after. Suffice to say from someone who has all the FR releases (good and bad) from 1987 to the bitter end in 1999, 1E Forgotten Realms is an entirely different beast from that which came afterwards, and quite compatible with what any of us would want in a sandbox-type setting.

Complaint #5: Elminster!
...was barely a factor in the original release. He only became a nuisance later on; he's a shadowy and non-essential NPC figure in the original boxed set, and the narrator of the tour of the Moonshaes in FR2, But basically his character has little or no effect in gameplay. Mordenkainen and his bunch by comparison are scene-stealers of the highest order in the WOG setting.
Here's our original introduction to Elminster in the FR boxed set; would it have stayed so vague. Hell, he sounds like a powerful but harmless old coot you'd love to have a brew with:

Shadowdale and the Known Planes
26th level magic-user
CG, None
Human Male
The exact age of the sage Elminster is unknown and his year of birth unrecorded. It is suspected he learned his magical arts at the feet of Arkhon the Old, who died in Waterdeep over 500 years ago, and was in Myth Drannor near that magical realm's final days. The Sage currently makes his abode in the tiny farm community of Shadowdale, living in a two-story house overlooking a fishpond with his aide and scribe, Lhaeo. Elminster may be the most knowledgable and well-informed individual in the realms, though thismay be only his own opinion, it is often voiced in his discussions. His areas of specialization are the Realms and its people, ecology of various creatures, magical items and their histories, and the known planes of existence. Elminster no longer tutors nor works for hire, save in the most pressing cases.Many of his former students and allies include some of the most powerful good individuals in the realms, including the Lords of Waterdeep, the Simbul, ruler of Aglarond, the group known as the Harpers, and many powerful wizards and sorceresses.

Notice all the "mights", "maybes" and "suspecteds" strewn around there. Elminster as created could be as useful, or useless, as you wanted. Hell, he lives behind a fishpond and is called a "sage" instead of a wizard...the dude might just be a 7th level mage with a good publicist for all we know!

Likewise, the prominence of NPC's such as the Seven Sisters, Knights of Myth Drannor, Khelben Blackstaff and others is only hinted at. Using the broad guidelines of the original set, they are merely fascinating and possibly useful background characters instead of world-changing entities. Much more interesting, IMO, are the brief character sketches we are given in the NPC section of the FR boxed set. What kind of interesting scenarios does the below character conjure up just reading Greenwood's evocative description:

7th level thief
NE, Mask
Human Male
This dark-haired, nondescript young man now lives quietly in Selgaunt, where he arranges for certain people to be (willingly) hidden or transported to safety or (less willingly) kidnapped and held for ransom. Flame works with a small band of trusted aides, including at least magical powers (3rd-5th level).
Flame can be contacted through the Green Gauntlet inn on Selgaunt's eastern docks. Flame originally operated as an arsonist in Selgaunt, until a combined force of leading mages and clerics in the city convinced him of the error of his ways (via a series of flame strikes and similar mishaps). After a brief period of self-exile while this "heat" died down, Flame does a quieter business in town, and stays wary of both magicusers and clerics.

What I like about this description, which is true of a lot of the material in the boxed set and the first few supplements, is that Flame is shown as a mover and shaker baddie, yet he's only 7th level. The power inflation of characters evident in future releases is not part of the system yet....a 7th level thief can be seen as the head of a evil network and not be laughed out of the room.

Complaint #5: Waaaaauggggh!

Ok, just fill in the typical bitch and moan fest of any grognard who doesn't have a clue the Forgotten Realms started out at 1E, much less any useful information past 1984 or so dealing with AD&D. Most of the time the complaints don't make a lot of sense, once again because the person making them hasn't read the material. The Forgotten Realms, IMO, was never about the old-schoolers anyway; such a dramatic and different break from the stodginess of the WOG was intentional I believe. Yes, there are OLD old timers that moan and bitch about how EGG's WOG doesn't hold a candle to Dave Arneson's Blackmoor or Hargreave's Arduin, so in a way the cycle just continued through to Greenwood's Forgotten Realms.
It would be intriguing to have seen what would have happened had something like Dark Sun, Spelljammer, or Planescape (or even Keith Baker's Eberron) had ended up being the "face" of 2E in place of the Forgotten Realms. I doubt the animosity for the setting would be present had it stopped being published in 1990 (say, after the Forgotten Realms hardback) in lieu of some other "hot" gameworld. With only the products above to go on, I suspect the Forgotten Realms would be a rather quaint and quite well-thought of setting for 1E and beyond.

If I get time I'll go over all the 1E material for the FR....some real gems there!