Why are you doing this?
My original idea was that UA was going to be five
years old in 1998, and that this would be a great anniversary tribute, going
back to its roots in standard AD&D. Of course, since the fortieth design
wasn’t done until 2007, and the fiftieth came out in 2017, it turned out
to be a better fifteen- or twenty-five-year anniversary tribute! Still, the work got done, and I’m
pleased with the results.
In what order do I play the games?
My first answer is, in whatever order you want!
That is part of the fun of The Realm.
You can piece together a UA campaign just as you would a pen and paper
one. There is a more structured routine available, going region by region. If
you check the list at the top of each region on this site, you’ll find a
suggested order of modules. A lot of thought went into the placement of these
modules, and care was taken that sufficient items are available to be
successful throughout (for instance, near Guidio's
Fort, which is plagued by hobgoblins, is the Lost Tower of Castanamir,
where you may remember an encounter with stranded hobgoblins in the
though, I have reserved the most challenging adventures for the final series,
which will be completed last. As Introduction explains, demons, devils and huge
bands of giants plague the northlands, where only the bravest may tread.
How much will there be when it's finished?
Just like any other ongoing campaign world, The
Realm may never be completely finished. Currently, I have finished all four of
the known regions of the Realm, as well as a fifth region based on the Thunder
Rift campaign setting. You can
explore the Eastlands, better known as the Beastlands, to the much more civilized Westlands
and the embattled Southlands. Ultimately, there are also the Northlands, where
the Realm’s greatest challenges await: Nightmare Keep, Death's Ride, Dragonspear
Castle and, ultimately,
Against the Giants! But I imagine Acererak would be
upset if mere second-edition fire giants could be the climax of The Realm...So,
you’ll also find a little Tomb of Horrors in there, too.
What changes are there from the original modules?
Naturally, there are some encounters which could
not be dealt with perfectly in UA, but I assure you that I did my best to incorporate
the majority of those encounters regardless, one way or another. Most, and I do
mean most, of the events are exactly as they appeared in the original text.
Only two major changes have been made:
1. The maps have been redrawn where necessary to both fit on the map grid and
compensate for UA's thirty-foot line of sight. Sorry, not much I could do for
those round rooms, but at the same time I hate big, empty rooms that are
supposed to be crowded.
2. To avoid a Monty Haul campaign, I made a catalog of every magic item in
every module I own. While this was partially for use in the items files, it
also served to give me a perspective of whether a magic item should remain in a
given location. The two factors of such a decision were, Does the magic item
fit here, and, Will the party have another chance to find at least one of
Why do all the games start out at zero experience
All Realm games, no matter how difficult, start
out with first level characters with thirty-five pieces of gold in their
pockets. There are two reasons for this, as well.
1. This is meant to be a campaign world. When I made the bulk of these designs,
I still lived by the rule that—in my pen and paper campaign—every character
started at first level. While that is no longer the case, the Realm does not easily
allow character generation that includes gear appropriate to level. The heart of the game is based around
starting at first level and then developing to higher levels.
2. There is no way to determine what magic a party will have at a given time.
It is possible that the only weapon a third-level party carries is a longsword +2; but that weapon would be
very important in a battle with a lone gargoyle. By the same token, to make a
party with all +1 equipment given them at start would be the opposite extreme.
What's all this about Find Traps spells?
One of my greatest pet peeves in UA is when a
designer is too lazy to put in the extra events for a Find Traps spell. While The
Realm is not perfect to say the least, I was adamant about use of this spell.
If you cast find traps, I feel safe in saying it will alert you to the presence
of every mechanical trap and MOST magical ones. Sometimes, I have to admit, the
magic falters when trying to detect glyphs and the like. Such things could, I
suppose be warded against detection, though.
Where are all the new items?
In case you haven't noticed, the emphasis in The
Realm is to create a coherent, sensible campaign setting. Reading the Game00,
Introduction does more than provide a backdrop, it clues you in to important
notes on the setting in general. Along the same lines, some items can only be
found in the proper locations. Not many warriors in Hommlet
know how to use a war boomerang, and armorers at the Keep on the Borderlands
are hammering out platemail, not fine-tuning suits of
full plate. Look around, use forethought, and you'll do well.
What's wrong with searching?
The Realm actively discourages a party from
constant searching. First of all, it doesn't make sense. If monsters are
lurking around every corner, not many parties want to spend ten minutes to
travel ten feet. The following is taken into account in The Realm:
1. Searching takes ten times as long. Ten minutes pass with each step, making
you ten times as likely to encounter a wandering encounter (if there are such
in your location).
2. Searching involves actually searching. Most town watchmen and the like do
not appreciate strangers poking around in their business.
3. In some locations you will find that you simply need to pass time. Most
notably is the first day in the city of Specularum in Game05, The Veiled
Society. Your party has one full
day to purchase equipment and find its way around the city, but hours are
likely to remain. Furthermore,
during some of your time in Bloodstone
Village in Game38, the
Bloodstone Wars, will go much more easily if you take this approach. Searching
in these instances can be seen as 'walking around, shuffling your feet.' Of
course, there are other ways to waste time in the city, and be careful not to
waste too much time!
What do I do with the items in my inventory?
In Realm games, inventory items generally fall
into three categories. First, and most commonly, are items that are
automatically used by your party. UA checks to see if you have a given item,
and then uses it if your PCs have acquired it. These items require little
effort on the part of the player, the challenge is mostly in finding or
acquiring them. Some designs use a second sort of item, though, the treasure
item. This is an item that represents a treasure that your party has found
during the course of its adventures. Take such items to a shop to sell them,
but be sure you take the proper items to the proper shops! Third, and most
rare, are items which require direct player action to be used. These items
appear relevantly in the conversion of Realm Game 25, WG4 The Forgotten Temple
of Tharizdun. Be careful when typing in item names
that you type the name exactly as it appears in your inventory.
Should I keep a map?
Mapping is a process that can seem boring and
tedious, but is often the hallmark of a serious player, either in an actual
role-playing game or in a computer game such as UA. In a "live"
environment, mapping can save PCs from starvation or getting lost once all the
monsters are defeated. In UA, mapping can prevent the boredom that results when
a dungeon is cleared and the party must find its way home. Keep in mind that
these are conversions made as loyally as possible to the original products;
there are no extra monsters thrown in to keep the party moving. If all the
monsters are dead, all that remains is to pack up and go home. Adding such
random monsters would make The Realm more an emulator of Gauntlet than one of
How do I know when a game is over?
With rare exceptions, each Realm game ends with a
clear statement that the adventure is over. Most often, bonus experience is
awarded based on individual objectives met during the course of play. Sometimes
even minor heroic deeds can bring about a positive experience award in the end.
However, as part of a campaign series, Realm games almost never eject you from
play after this message is delivered. Your party will be left on an overland
map, free to walk the four regions of The Realm until you find your next
adventure hook. Ideally, an entire Realm campaign could be played without ever
To date only two Realm games do not have such a
"lingering ending." They are Game 01, A1-4 The Aerie of the Slave
Lords; and Game 25, S4 and WG4 Tsojcanth and Tharizdun.
Are there any
pre-made player characters?
To promote campaign play, The Realm does not
provide any pre-made parties for gaming use.
How do I make my own Realm game?
Anyone is welcome to make a new Realm design. Just
download the basic worldhack files that appear in
every Realm design, and feel free to mess around with any other file in the
game to give it a distinctive appearance flavor unique to your design.
are some things to keep in mind when designing a Realm game, in order to
maintain the same feel that exists in the current designs that are available:
Realm games are written in the second-peron singular
tense, so the game speaks directly to the person at the keyboard as if he is
the leader of an adventuring party and calls all the shots. Gender-specific
terminology should be avoided whenever possible when referring to party
members, to allow for female PCs and gamers. When using gender-specific
pronouns is required for some reason, however, existing Realm games are written
to a male audience.
When referring to the PCs, the Realm routinely refers to them as a group of
friends. The terms party or group are impersonal and desensitized, and appear
only rarely, usually in verbatim boxed text.
In creating new items, be careful not to add any item that the party will not
be able to take from one adventure to the next. The goal is 100% compatibility.
One of hallmarks of The Realm campaign is its careful use of find traps. While
no one is perfect, a concentrated effort has gone into rewarding gamers for
careful play. If you use traps, please enable the Find Traps spell.
Don't assume that a party will have a certain powerbase. Any group of any level
should be able to play any adventure. If someone wants to walk through a first
level adventure with his twentieth-level group, it would be very frustrating to
read text stating that his group is overpowered by four dozen kobolds. There
should be a melee involved, which any low-level group would lose, but high
level characters would win.
Be careful in event structure. If there is a chest, use a quest event to ensure
that the chest remains until it is opened, and consider using that same quest
to then trigger an event stating that there is now an empty chest. Try to give
the semblance of a real, functioning world whenever possible.
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owned by TSR, Inc, which is in turn owned by Wizards of the Coast, Inc, and is
only found on this website as an aide to play in The Realm.