[RPG] n official reason the Forgotten Realms is stuck with “medieval” technology

forgotten-realmslore

Why has technology in the Forgotten Realms not progressed further than it has at the point when most adventures take place?

  1. Is it because races that live longer tend to be older and hold back
    progress in favor of tradition?

  2. Is the existence of magic a substitute for technological
    advancement?

  3. Or do the campaigns just happen to take place before the Forgotten
    Realms’ version of an industrial revolution?

Is there an official answer to this?

Best Answer

The OOC Perspective

If I remember right, Spelljammer (which is essentially Space D&D) overlaps with Forgotten Realms, so there was an outlet for players who wanted some Realms content and some greater technology. But, Spelljammer was 2e, and I don't know that it's been reprinted for the newer systems. Beyond that, if you really wanted some high-magic, high-technology stories when these game settings were first getting published, you had the old Star Wars system and the Palladium universe. If you want that same style of setting now, there's plenty more to choose from. So, it could be an old IP issue or simply that players didn't need to alter the setting to mirror an existing product.

The In-Character Perspective

Your second guess is the best explanation. Some of the FR fiction — Drizz't stories in particular, but I sold those books and can't remember which one off the top of my head — features interludes and side characters experimenting with magic-infused early-industrial technology, but it never takes off because the negative effects of getting it wrong far outweigh the positive effects of getting it right. Even if we consider that stuff non-canonical, what elements or effects of an industrial revolution aren't already available in a better form in FR?

"Hey guys, I invented a thing I call an 'engine.' It will drive a cart without a horse, and all it needs is lantern oil!"
"That's cool. We've got a wizard-in-training over here who can summon a phantom steed to pull the cart. He doesn't even need a spell component for that."