TSR’s seventh FR-series module went into unusual territory again. A 128-page perfect bound book, it was one of the first products to sport a 2nd Edition logo, though the interior stats are all still first edition (magic-user, not mage, etc.). Instead of the usual geographical supplement, it was an anthology of writeups of characters in the Forgotten Realms, drawn mostly (though not entirely) from the novel line.

At that point, the existing novels to draw from were the Moonshae trilogy, the first two books of the Icewind Dale trilogy, Azure Bonds, Spellfire, the upcoming Avatar trilogy, and a planned Kara-Tur novel (never released). The book is divided into three parts, with “Main Characters” getting one to four pages, “Minor Characters” (including some villains) generally getting a little under a page each, and two “Adventuring Brotherhoods” split about twenty pages between them. While each section presents them in alphabetical order, they can be broken up into distinct groups, not all of which are strongly associated with any novel:

Moonshae: The main couple of the trilogy, Tristan and Robyn, get main character listings, with Cyndre, Daryth, Finellen, Grunnarch, Hobarth, Kazgaroth (which repeats information from FR2 almost verbatim, including a note to see a ‘next section’ that doesn’t exist in this book), Genna Moonsinger, and Pawldo among the minor characters. The descriptions are mostly for after the end of the series (which means several of the characters are dead), but there’s also notes on the pre-trilogy islands presented in FR2.

Icewind Dale: The main three of the trilogy (Bruenor, Drizzt, and Wulfgar) get much larger writeups than had been in FR5 (and the characteristic scores generally go up here, though Wulfgar’s 17 INT gets trimmed back to 15), while Cattie-Brie, Dendybar, Artemis, Regis, and Sydney all get minor character writeups. There’s also some background given on the northern dwarves. All three main characters have high characteristics and extra ‘because he’s him’ combat abilities.

Azure Bonds: Naturally, Alias and Dragonbait get major character entries, while Akabar, Cassana, Mistinarperadnacles, Zrie Prakis, and Olive Ruskettle have minor character entries. I like the idea that Alias, as a created person, has all equal characteristics, but all 17s seems a bit much. The three villains are dead, but it is noted that they could all easily return in one form or another. There’s also some basic information about saurials and playing one that isn’t Dragonbait.

Spellfire: Along with Shandril, Narm also gets a major character writeup, and the dracolich Rauglothgar gets a minor character writeup (with a full description of the powers of a dracolich). Many other characters here appear in the novel, but I’ve separated them out as they are convenient for lore purposes outside the novel.

Avatar: The main characters of the Avatar trilogy, Adon, Cyric, Kelemvor, and Midnight all get major character writeups. As the trilogy was still upcoming, only the backgrounds are given, with no secondary characters or villains presented, though some new lycanthrope types are presented.

Kara-Tur: Only the presumed main character, Doin Sanehiro gets a main character writeup, with six others: Jinchin, Kuang, Masakado, Okotampe, Onoye, and The Wanderer getting minor character writeups. There’s enough to get the main plot, and potentially run this as a campaign, but naturally it’d need a lot more fleshing out.

Shadowdale: Elminster is a major character in Spellfire, and gets a three page entry, plus some new spells, info on his home and bolt-hole, and a discussion of sages in general with thumbnail descriptions of another seven prominent sages of the Realms. Lhaeo, Mourngrym, and Shaerl all get minor character writeups, while the Knights of Myth Drannor as a whole get thirteen pages. The history of the Knights only confirms their status as the characters of one of Ed Greenwood’s primary campaigns.

Waterdeep: Five of the Lords of Waterdeep, Khelben, Durnan, Mirt, Peirgeiron and Nymara, get entries expanded from FR1. As well, Kappiyan, Malchor, Maaril appeared in FR1 and have much-expanded entries here.

Zhentil Keep: Alzegund, Fzoul, Manshoon, Manxam, Orgauth, all have minor character writeups, and present both Zhentarim and anti-Zhentarim characters, with some very good notes on using Orgauth as a villain.

Cormyr: Azoun IV and his court mage, Vangerdahast get expanded writeups from the boxed set, while Dimswart, a minor character from Azure Bonds gets an entry as well.

Five Sisters: Later known as the seven sisters, who would get their own book, Alustriel, Storm Silverhand, The Simbul, and Sylune all get minor character entries here, with the the fifth, Dove Falconhand appearing with the Knights of Myth Drannor.

Tethyr: The final part of the book contains a much expanded description of the Company of Eight from FR3. It was obvious that they were meant to form the basis of an adventuring party, with character sheets, and a little over a half page of text. Here, the full background of the Company is given, and descriptions of the personalities involved in nine pages. The former version was an okay ‘blank slate’, but without any real hooks. This version would require player buy in, but has plenty of direction, goals, and potential hooks, including for how they relate to each other.

In general, the levels given for everyone seem fairly appropriate, and often fairly tame, occasionally moving up into the twenties for longer-lived characters as established in the boxed set. The primary characteristics however, tend to be especially high, especially in the Main Character section. Most have no characteristic under 12, and an average of around 15-16; it’s worth noting that the Avatar characters are much more down to earth.

If you want to run a campaign where the players meet (or even play as) the main characters of any of the early Forgotten Realms novels, this is a great supplement. However, I’m not aware of a great many people who want to do that. My own take was always that they’re out there, and the party will often hear tavern tales of them (most of their adventures are pretty high profile), but only if the party really gets involved in something of direct interest to one of these characters are their paths likely to cross.

That said, there’s a good amount of use to be had with the minor characters. There’s just enough shown of Zhentil Keep that introducing them as a villain is much easier. At the same time, the presentation of several personalites of Waterdeep makes running adventures in that city easier as well. As well, there’s a fair amount of lore scattered throughout the entries, especially for the Shadowdale characters.