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If the Forgotten Realms are forgotten, who forgot them? Certainly not the inhabitants. Is there a lore explanation for why the Forgotten Realms are forgotten?

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    \$\begingroup\$ I used to know the answer to this question, but I no longer remember. ;-) \$\endgroup\$ Mar 1, 2019 at 15:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ It sounds cool. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 1, 2019 at 19:01

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I wondered this before myself, I found that Wikipedia had most of my answers.

The Forgotten Realms is a fantasy world setting, described as a world of strange lands, dangerous creatures, and mighty deities, where magic and supernatural phenomena are quite real. The premise is that, long ago, the Earth and the world of the Forgotten Realms were more closely connected. As time passed, the inhabitants of planet Earth have mostly forgotten about the existence of that other world – hence the name Forgotten Realms.

The AD&D 2nd edition Player’s Guide to the Forgotten Realms Campaign (TSR2142) explains on page 2 the name is based on its relation to our own world losing contact with and forgetting it:

What are the Forgotten Realms?

Some theorists explain dragons and other fantastic occurrences by postulating parallel worlds. In times past, they believe, travel between mundane worlds — like our own — and more exotic locales was easy and frequent. But we have lost contact, and lost the worlds themselves. Lost, or forgotten.

Abeir-Toril, more commonly Toril, is an Earth-sized planet dominated by a continent in its northern hemisphere. Called Faerûn in the west, it is here that the Forgotten Realms lie. […]

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    \$\begingroup\$ Do you have a more direct source you can cite for that? Wikipedia is not a reliable source, and that statement in the Wikipedia article has no citation itself. Essentially, someone could've just completely made that up and could be completely wrong. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 1, 2019 at 15:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ True, and I realized that too as I posted--I used to have a Forgotten Realms players handbook that said something of the sort, but that's just my word for it. Perhaps a better wiki link, with better sources, is Ed Greenwood's page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ed_Greenwood#cite_note-Dragon_#244-1 \$\endgroup\$
    – TigerDM
    Mar 1, 2019 at 15:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ @TigerDM Are you thinking of the softcover with the whitish cover? I have that somewhere and can check. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 1, 2019 at 16:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ I dug out my copy (ah, memories), and found the part to add to your answer. It's not quite as directly “it's called Forgotten because we (Earth humans) forgot it” as I remember either, but the implication is so tight that it overall conveys exactly that — hence us both remembering it saying so. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 1, 2019 at 18:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ Amazing! Thank you for proving that my mind isn't as old as my body ;) \$\endgroup\$
    – TigerDM
    Mar 1, 2019 at 18:34
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Forgotten Realms was originally the place that Earth's fantasy legends came from.

From a profile on Ed Greenwood in Dragon magazine #244 (p. 112):

The "Forgotten Realms" name originally came from the notion of a "multiverse" of parallel worlds. Our Earth is one, the Realms another. In Greenwood's original conception, Earth's fantastic legends derive from a fantasy world that we've now lost the way to—hence, the Forgotten Realms. "Concerns over possible lawsuits (kids getting hurt while trying to 'find a gate') led TSR to de-emphasize this meaning," he says.

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Ed Greenwood explained the name "Forgotten Realms" on page 4 of DM's Sourcebook of the Realms, as included in the 1e Forgotten Realms Campaign Set (1987):

Introductions

Ed Greenwood

Well met! Welcome to my world; the Forgotten Realms. A vast land, full of strange splendors—a living background for vivid adventure. Elminster took me there first.

Welcome to our world. Now the Realms are yours, too; a world that has delighted me for almost twenty years in all its rich variety is presented herein—and in pages yet to come—for you to enjoy and set AD&D® game campaign play in. Only a small area of the Realms can be squeezed into these pages, so there's much to look forward to if you come along for the ride. It's been a long one for me thus far; the Realms began in 1968 as a setting for fantasy short stories, and later (1975) was developed and detailed, as the DUNGEONS & DRAGONS® system appeared. Regular play in the Realms began in 1978, and still continues; the present roster of regular players has remained intact since early 1980. As the ADVANCED DUNGEONS & DRAGONS® system has appeared, book by book, the Realms have been modified to conform with official rules, and these (with the unofficial additions published in DRAGON® magazine from issue #30 onward, such as monsters, magical items, spells and nonplayer character classes) can be assumed to hold sway in the Realms now. I have always treated the Realms as a "real place" which I am viewing and reporting on rather than a deliberate creation, and I believe that has been the key to making it live.

The "Forgotten Realms" derive their name from the fictitious fact upon which play in my campaign is based: that a multiverse exists, of countless parallel co-existing Prime Material Planes (including the world presented herein, our own modern "Earth," and any other fantasy settings a DM may wish to incorporate in play), all related to the Known Planes of Existence presented in the AD&D system. Travel betwixt these planes was once far more common than is the case now (when few know the means of reaching other worlds, or even believe in the existence of such fanciful places); hence, the Realms have been "forgotten" by beings of Earth. Our legends of dragons, vampires, and of other fearsome creatures and magic are due to this formerly widespread contact between the worlds; most have of course become confused and distorted with the passage of time and many retellings. That corner of the Realms presented herein is a strip of the heart of the western part of only one continent of Toril, that region known as Faerun (pronounced FAY-er-OON; the name meant "home" in a now-lost early human tongue). Much more awaits the traveler, to be revealed in later works.

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