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I'm a GURPS oldschool player, playing GURPS 3e since 2000, using GURPS Magic, GURPS Fantasy and the Core Rules.

I have heard a lot of things about D&D and specially about the Forgotten Realms, and I want to migrate from GURPS Fantasy to the Forgotten Realms. (Yeah, I know that I'm really late.)

Searching on the Web about the Forgotten Realms, I noticed that there are a bunch of books about this world. What are the books that I must read to learn about the lore of the Forgotten Realms, and in which order?

To be more specific: I want to play D&D 5e, but my main interest is to play in the Forgotten Realms setting. The lore is my main interest. I know the path to learning the system/rules of D&D; this is the "easy" part. I know I can play in the Forgotten Realms setting using GURPS too, but that is not the focus of the question.

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This is a tricky question

The Forgotten Realms are large. Very large. As a setting, it spans several D&D editions, many of which drastically changed the Forgotten Realms. Considering you're looking for information to (possibly) start playing D&D 5E, a lot of the older books may not be as useful to you. While they have a lot of information, they're not the most up to date versions of the story.

The Spellplague is a massive event that changed a lot of things in the Forgotten Realms, but you won't really find it mentioned if you look at books from earlier editions. In addition, you've not exactly narrowed it down a whole lot, you're essentially an alien asking another alien "so where do I start looking for more information on Earth?"

Like that alien's friend might, I'm going to suggest 'the human internet'. The Forgotten Realms wiki is most likely your best bet to start reading up on articles if you have a specific interest. Youtubers do a pretty good job at explaining the lore in bite-size chunks as well.

If you are looking for 5e-specific books, most of the official campaigns in the Forgotten Realms take place in a specific stretch called the Sword Coast, so if that's what you're interested in, the Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide has a lot of interesting information. Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes is another book that is very heavily lore-based, with information on the more extraplanar aspects of the Forgotten Realms, such as ancient races and other planes.

If you want to go back to the creator of the setting, you most likely can't go wrong with Ed Greenwood Presents Elminster's Forgotten Realms: A Dungeons & Dragons Supplement, which is a book written by the original creator of the Forgotten Realms, which wasn't made for any specific edition of D&D.

But like that alien in my example, you'll most likely first want to figure out what part of the Forgotten Realms you're specifically interested in.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide is a great place to start. Then, when you find places you want to delve deeper into, the Forgotten Realms Wiki is a great next stop. \$\endgroup\$ – aaron9eee Dec 9 '19 at 17:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ Most of the stuff the Spellplauge changed, the Second Sundering changed back. \$\endgroup\$ – mdrichey Dec 9 '19 at 17:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you very much for the information, I will start with the Sword Coast Adventure's Guide. \$\endgroup\$ – atm77 Dec 9 '19 at 19:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ @mdrichey Yeah, but it also changed a lot of other stuff in a different way. If you look up "dragonborn" in a previous edition, you get entirely different lore than you get now, which is why the forgotten realms is a tricky beast. \$\endgroup\$ – Theik Dec 9 '19 at 20:13

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