I don't remember where I heard or read this, but I seem to recall there being some sort of cataclysmic event between 3.5 and 4e.

A few (related) questions -

  1. What exactly happened between 3.5 and 4e?
  2. How much do the current inhabitants of the Forgotten Realms know about what happened?
  3. How much game-world time has passed between editions?
  4. What geographic locations were affected by the events between editions, and how do they affect 4e play?
  • 7
    \$\begingroup\$ There is a summary of this in the beginning of the 4e Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting, for what that's worth. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kalamane
    Jul 27 '11 at 19:08

Yes there was, the cataclysmic event is called the Spellplague. Mystra dies, huge upheavals happen for a decade including natural disasters, arcane magic goes away for a time, etc. I don't think it escaped any Realmsian's notice, that's for sure; the effects were blatant and profound. The 4e guide is set in 1479 DR while the 3e one was in 1372 DR, so nearly a hundred years passed in world before the coming of 4e.

  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ Also Abeir and Toril got together again and swapped some lands if I recall correctly. Elminster's still alive too but not quite as powerful anymore. \$\endgroup\$
    – mirv120
    Jul 27 '11 at 18:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ Drizzt's wife dies, Neverwinter gets worse (a whole campaign setting was made for that), and the Abolethic Sovereignty harnesses the power of the spellplague. \$\endgroup\$
    – h313
    Feb 26 '14 at 13:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ @mirv120 note that, before the 4e books, there was no sign of a different, parallel planet called Abeir and Abeir-toril was the full name of Toril \$\endgroup\$
    – Zachiel
    May 25 '19 at 10:05

Specifically to the Geographic locations bit, the whole map was rescaled. Several countries/nations were removed/condensed/destroyed. Anauroch was removed, and replaced by the nation of Netheril.The level of the Sea of Fallen Stars fell, changing a number of port cities to land-locked. An entire new continent was inherted from Abeir.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ "Rescaled"? It changed size? \$\endgroup\$ Sep 23 '11 at 0:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ Well, enough areas on the map were resized to be considered the whole map by me :) \$\endgroup\$
    – YogoZuno
    Sep 23 '11 at 0:52
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Rescaled isn't the right word to me. Remade would be better. Rescaled would indicate that the dimensions of the planet changed. The geography changed. I have the the map from 3E and 4E right next to each other, the scale is identical IIRC. \$\endgroup\$
    – mirv120
    Sep 23 '11 at 12:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ What parts of the geographic change are "in world changes" vs "out world changes"? I recall WOTC saying that the map was condensed to have more land and less sea, but that this was not a physical change -- the world has retroactively always had the new shape. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 23 '11 at 14:09
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @Sean I don't know, but there were a lot of out-of-world changes, including the whole thing with "Abeir" and "Toril" meaning entirely different places than before. If the water-to-land ratio changed, I'd expect that to be an out-of-world change. A new question asking which of the changes were out-of-world changes might be good. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 23 '11 at 15:27

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