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To immerse myself into the world of the Forgotten Realms I wanted to pick up a book or source materials of the lore. Is there a comparable book like it exists for Pathfinder with the Inner Sea World Guide?

In my research I found a 4th edition book called Forgotten Realms Player's Guide (2008) and 3.x Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting (2001)

The newest I've found is the Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide but I don't know how in-depth that is.

Are these worth picking up or is there newer or even better information out there? I know opinion questions aren't allowed - I'm just asking if there's a definitive source of up-to-date published lore, that's not a wiki

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Wizards hasn't published a “campaign setting” book for the Forgotten Realms for 5th edition. (Yet?) There material scattered through several books — the Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide, plus all the hardcover adventures except Curse of Strahd — but no definitive campaign setting book like we've seen in past years. Information scattered across multiple sources like that, and being only a small fraction of what a campaign setting for the Realms normally covers, makes that an unsatisfactory source.

Until a proper campaign setting is published, there's only the old campaign setting guides to really go from, plus the bits and pieces of updates scattered across various 5e products. Ironically, the fan-maintained wiki is the most up-to-date source for the Realms after the Second Sundering (i.e., the D&D 5th edition era).

Are the SCAG and the adventures worth picking up just for the lore?

If you're looking for setting material, I'd say… probably not the adventures? That would be so much material to sift through for just a few bits of lore. What you'd get would be very detailed for some small parts of the Realms.

The SCAG is a better prospect, as it's closer to being a setting guide. Limited as its geographical scope is, it may be worth it if you intend to adventure mainly on the Sword Coast. (And the Sword Coast is thousands of miles long, so that's not as limited as it could be.) I'd say you should leaf through it if you get a chance to see a physical copy — or look for reviews of SCAG that give you a feel for what it covers and how deeply — and make a decision then.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Are the SCAG and the adventures worth picking up just for the lore? \$\endgroup\$ – F. Rakes Apr 23 '18 at 23:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ @F.Rakes If you're looking for setting material, I'd say… probably not? There so much of stuff to sift through for just a few bits of lore. The SCAG is probably closest to a setting guide, limited as its geographical scope is, and may be worth it. I'd say, leaf through it if you get a chance to see a physical copy, and make a decision then. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Apr 23 '18 at 23:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ SCAG is underrated, IMO. It wasn't the FR source-book that so many fans wanted, but that doesn't make it objectively bad. As a starting place for building a FR campaign, it's really good. \$\endgroup\$ – Neil B Apr 24 '18 at 10:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ Might also add that Volo's is mostly Forgotten Realms lore. Provides broad cultural/cosmological descriptions of giants, goblinoid races, gnolls, and etc. \$\endgroup\$ – Pink Sweetener Oct 1 '18 at 21:12
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I would recommend picking up the D&D 3.5 Forgotten Realms campaign setting for world lore, and the 5E Sword Coast book for modern goings on and adventure.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Maybe worth mentioning that the 3.5e setting is really the 3e setting book mentioned by F. Rakes plus the 3.5e update, Player's Guide to Faerun. \$\endgroup\$ – Zachiel Nov 27 '18 at 20:29
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There is no 5th Edition Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting

Your best bet for world history is the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting (2001) from 3rd Edition, over any 4th Edition source. There were a great many changes during fourth edition, caused by an event known as the Spellplague. The vast majority of those changes were reverted for 5th Edition via the Second Sundering.

I would recommend Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide to get some more local updates (though local is a big area, when we're talking about the Sword Coast), but you'll still need to do a lot of extrapolation to cover the intervening time. If you're looking to go even further afield, 3rd Edition is probably still your best bet - there were plenty of more focused source books (Serpent Kingdoms, The Unapproachable East, and others) that can at least help you get a feel for the history of other parts of the Realms.

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