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Anthology - Realms of Valor Part 29

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It became time for an epic in the Realms, something that would affect the entire land, and with this epic a new generation of secret gods joined the fray. The Avatar Trilogy, released in 1989, brought to light the talents of Scott Ciencin, Jim Lowder, and Troy Denning. In the trilogy, these three literary lights were hidden by the house name "Richard Awlinson" ("Richard All-in-One"), but since that time each has emerged with his own voice in the Realms. With Avatar, the Realms made another leap, into epic, world-shaping fantasy adventure.

As an interesting sidelight, concurrent with the Avatar Trilogy, the ADVANCED DUNGEONS & DRAGONS'* game moved into a second edition, which modified and improved the game system used for role-playing in the Realms. The avatars-on-the-loose plot line in the novels provided an excellent opportunity for us to explain the changes in the Realms without all the game mechanics, but this confluence was never really planned. The trilogy had evolved on its own. Yet again, fate and fortune worked to bring together diverse elements and talents in the Realms.

By now our modest shared world had become a sprawling madhouse of creative ability. It was and remains a house built by fifteen engineers, each following his or her own plans, checking with the others as need be, but pursuing an individual vision. The Realms was large and became larger still. Bob Salvatore's Drizzt gained his own series. Doug Niles discovered Maztica. Jim Lowder, Troy Denning, and another new god, David Cook, filled the lands between the East and West with the Tuigan hordes and immediately launched an invasion. Characters from the Realms disappeared into the new dimension of Ravenloft. The tales of the Harpers, individual visions of the world by both experienced writers and newcomers, came into being. Another generation of gods appeared: Jean Rabe, Elaine Cunningham, and Mark Anthony, all adding to the luster of the Realms., New pieces drifted into place, new walls and doorways were erected, new windows looked out into new dreams, ceilings were put up and then removed again as the Realms continued to grow.



Each writer, each creative, each of these new gods brought his or her own voice to the Realms, and this collection of short stories reflects this diversity. There are stories both light-hearted and sinister within this tome. There are authors who draw strongly from history and those who strike out into unexplored and undiscovered territories. There are writers who base their works heavily on the game that has so long been an integral part of the world, and those whose seek new heights of imagination and walk new paths of wonder, quite separate from anything suggested in the Realms game releases.

It's often disorderly, but it's a glorious disorder that amazingly produces a solid, coherent world. Its product leaders and editors are more traffic cops than dictating elder gods, finding out where everyone is and trying to keep the collisions to a minimum. In 1967 young Ed Greenwood had no idea his lands would become so well-known. The handful of original writers had no idea in 1986 that the Realms would be such a monstrous success and inspire so many people to aid in shaping the world.

The Realms is a shared world in its purest sense. Yes, it all operates under the auspices of a higher set of gods (read "management"), but that influence is often muted, allowing the creators to work wonders. Within the Realms, there are still more than a dozen master craftsmen hammering away. Creating beautiful works of art. Telling stories. Having fun.

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