The Forgotten Realms fantasy world has been the site of many great adventures and home to countless valiant heroes and infamous villains. Many a tale of derring-do has been recounted in novels like the Moonshae trilogy by Douglas Niles, The Crystal Shard by R. A. Salvatore, Azure Bonds by Kate Novak and Jeff Grubb, and Spellfire by Ed Greenwood (creator of the Forgotten Realms fantasy world).
Until now, the characters from these Forgotten Realms novels have been unavailable to AD&D game players. But no longer.
Hall of Heroes provides complete histories and AD&D game statistics for such beloved characters as Elminster, the greatest sage and magic user of the Realms, Tristan Kendrick and Robyn of the Moonshae isles, Wulfgar the Barbarian, Drizzt the dark elf, and Bruenor the dwarf, all from the northern reaches, plus Alias and Dragonbait, Shandril and Narm Tamaraith, and many more.
But the Hall of Heroes is more that a listing of game statistics: It's also a sourcebook describing (among other things) artificial and magical lifeforms of the Realms, as well as the lives of the world's elves, dwarves, lizardmen, and exotic creatures.
Whatever your interest in the Forgotten Realms campaign setting, you'll find much to entertain and intrigue you in this volume.
FR7: "Hall of Heroes" (1989), by Steve Perrin, is the sixth book in the "FR" series of sourcebooks for the Forgotten Realms. It was released in February 1989.
Origins (I): The FR Series. In 1987 and 1988, TSR published a half-dozen "FR" sourcebooks for the Forgotten Realms, most of them geographical. It was a phenomenal amount of support for a setting, matched only by TSR's concurrent support of the Known World with its line of Gazetteeers (1987-1991).
"Hall of Heroes" was something new for the "FR" series: a book of NPCs.
Origins (II): The New Edition. 1989 brought big changes for the AD&D game, in the form of the second edition rules (1989). The new Player's Handbook (1989) was published simultaneously with "Hall of Heroes" in February 1989, while the cover of "Hall of Heroes" proudly proclaimed that it was one of the first supplements for "AD&D 2nd Edition".
Except it wasn't. Within "Hall of Heroes" you'll find barbarians, cavaliers, and non-specialized magic-users. It's pretty much a first edition book with second edition trade dress. But that was how TSR rolled in late 1988 and early 1989: their books randomly mixed promises of 1st and 2nd edition support, irrespective of what was inside, because the changeover just wasn't seen as that big of a deal.
Origins (III): The Realms Novels. The Forgotten Realms line wasn't just TSR's best supported roleplaying line, it was also TSR's best supported fiction line; novels had been an integral part of the publication plans since the release of Darkwalker on Moonshae (1987), two months in advance of the Forgotten Realms Campaign Set (1987) itself.
By February 1989, just less than two years later, there were seven Realms novels. Douglas Niles had just completed his Moonshae trilogy of Darkwalker on Moonshae (1987), Black Wizards (1988), and Darkwell (1989), while R.A. Salvatore was two books into his Icewind Dale trilogy, with The Crystal Shard (1988) and Streams of Silver (1989). Finally, TSR had published two books that were intended to be standalone: Spellfire (1988) by Ed Greenwood and Azure Bonds (1988) by Kate Novak and Jeff Grubb.
These novels offered a horde of Realmslore every bit as valuable as that contained in the Realms' adventures and sourcebooks … if only the gap between fiction and roleplaying could be bridged.
Origins (IV): Bridging the Books. There had already been some cooperation between TSR's fiction and roleplaying lines, going back to the linked Dragonlance Chronicles novels (1984-1985) and adventures (1984-1986). The Forgotten Realms line had also seen some crossover; Moonshae creator Douglas Niles wrote FR2: "Moonshae" (1987) while Jennell Jaquays incorporated some of R.A. Salvatore's northern worldbuilding into FR5: "The Savage Frontier" (1988).
That cooperation would increase in 1989, thanks in large part to the Forgotten Realms' new fiction line editor, James Lowder. Generally, Lowder did his best to ensure that authors like Jeff Grubb, Kate Novak, and R.A. Salvatore were as involved as possible with "Hall of Heroes". He then worked with Ed Greenwood, who offered some additional notes on the content.
At the time, Lowder was also coordinating the Realms' biggest ever fictional event, the Avatar trilogy (1989). Together James Lowder and Scott Ciencin — the author of the first two Avatar books, Shadowdale (1989) and Tantras (1989) — were able to link "Hall of Heroes" to the Realms' next/i> novels. They created detailed backstories for the Avatar protagonists, even as the novels were being written. These bios were then passed on to writer David Martin so that the stars of the Realms' would be among the heroes of "Hall".
Two years after the Realms' inception at TSR, it was more than ever the work of many hands. Increasingly, those hands were spread across the world: with Ciencin in Florida, Salvatore in Massachusetts, and Greenwood in Canada. James Lowder's work as fiction line editor and coordinator showed how those diverse creators could still work together to create a coherent world.
Origins (V): The Missing Book. James Lowder's coordination of "Hall of Heroes" ensured that it supported the first ten Realms novels … but there's actually one more in there. David "Zeb" Cook had proposed a Forgotten Realms novel set in his own Kara-Tur. It was under consideration by Jean Black, the head of TSR's fiction department, and presumably would have been the eleventh Forgotten Realms novel. Its characters are all included in "Hall of Heroes".
Unfortunately, that novel never came to be. It was probably dropped when Mary Kirchoff took over the fiction department — a common fate for proposals caught between editorial regimes. Cook would eventually get to write a Kara-Tur-related novel when he led off the Empires trilogy with Horselords (1990), though it would be Troy Denning who actually passed into the east with the second novel, Draognwall (1990). Meanwhile, Cook's original characters would return in two adventures, OA6: "Ronin Challenge" (1990) and OA7: "Test of the Samurai" (1990).
Origins (VI): The Power of NPCs. NPCs were an integral element of the Forgotten Realms. This was obvious from the first time that Elminster himself wrote about "Pages from the Mages" in Dragon #62 (June 1982). The Realms novels only increased the importance of non-player characters.
In later years, the Realms would increasingly acrue a reputation for being a setting full of powerful and important NPCs. "Hall of Heroes", with its incorporation of fiction heroes into the roleplaying line, was a vital stepping stone on that path.
Expanding D&D. "Hall of Heroes" features the first rules for "spellfire", a unique magic system in the Forgotten Realms. They'd be repeated in Heroes' Lorebook (1996) and Volo's Guide to All Things Magical (1996).
NPCs of Note. Elminster is the only "major character" found in "Hall of Heroes" who isn't a major protagonist in a novel, though he was prominent in Spellfire. The rest of the major characters in "Hall of Heroes" all link more directly to fiction:
- The Moonshae Trilogy. Prince Tristan Kendrick, Robyn
- The Icewind Dale Duology. Bruenor Battlehammer, Drizzt Do'Urden, Wulfgar
- Spellfire. Narm Tamaraith, Shandril Shessair
- Azure Bonds. Alias, Dragonbait
- The Avatar Trilogy.
- The Unwritten Kara-Tur Novel. Doin Sanehiro
"Hall of Heroes" also includes shorter writeups of many "minor characters", which include lesser characters from the novels, notables of Cormyr, the Dalelands, and Waterdeep, and a group of heroes then known as the Five Sisters, who would feature more prominently in FOR6: The Seven Sisters (1995)
NPCs of Note: Organization. Adventuring Companies were always important in the Realms, from Ed Greenwood's earliest D&D adventures. Two are featured in Hall of Heroes.
The Knights of Myth Drannor are based on one of Greenwood's long-lived roleplaying groups, though their history here doesn't necessarily match the one revealed much later by Ed Greenwood in the Knights of Myth Drannor trilogy (2006-2008).
The Company of Eight was a company created by Scott Haring for FR3: "Empires of the Sand" (1988).
About the Creators. "Hall of Heroes" was edited by Scott Bowles with some coordination by James Lowder. Jeff Grubb, Kate Novak, and R.A. Salvatore each wrote their own NPCs. David E. Martin wrote the Avatar NPCs, Mike Pondsmith wrote the Kara-Tur NPCs, and Steve Perrin wrote the Moonshae NPCs (and many others). Bruce Nesmith finished the major novel characters with the Spellfire NPCs (and many other Daleland personas). James Lowder filled in many of the gaps, from King Azoun IV to Olive Ruskettle.
About the Product Historian
The history of this product was researched and written by Shannon Appelcline, the editor-in-chief of RPGnet and the author of Designers & Dragons - a history of the roleplaying industry told one company at a time. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to firstname.lastname@example.org.