PW Review: Forgotten Realms Cormyr

As promised, I will on occasion write reviews of current persistent worlds that I’m playing on. I’ll do my best to keep personal bias out of it, but I’m writing from my own experiences, so they’ll definitely flavor my report. I look for specific things in a PW which I will make sure to include with my opinions and judgements.

For my first go, I will be covering a relatively new server called Forgotten Realms Cormyr, which is currently in open beta.

Player characters congregate at the Dragon's Jaw Inn.

Player characters congregate at the Dragon’s Jaw Inn.

Setting

FRC is rather unsurprisingly set in Cormyr, with the module being built around the capital city Suzail as a hub. Cormyr is a nation just recovering from a long and costly war, and the setting definitely reflects that. The Purple Dragons, Cormyr’s guard, are chartering adventurers to help patrol the lands, while the War Wizards maintain careful watch over potentially dangerous practitioners within their boarders.

A city street in Suzail at dawn.

A city street in Suzail at dawn.

There is a delightful sense of bureaucracy about the setting. Spellcasters are required to register with the War Wizards once they reach the third circle. NPCs try to give PCs the runaround when it comes to applying for an adventuring charter, sending them into a literal maze with amazingly poor instructions just to find the right official.

While Cormyr is Lawful Good, there is also a definite sense that your character is being watched in a not entirely benevolent way. Purple Dragons have a tendency to show up in the strangest of places and demand to see adventuring charters. War Wizards ominously guard the paths in and out of Suzail, scrying the minds of those who pass. Bounties are posted for those who refuse to register or speak out against the wrong nobles.

The Purple Dragons and War Wizards guard Suzail's gates vigilantly.

The Purple Dragons and War Wizards guard Suzail’s gates vigilantly.

All of this provides a wonderful opportunity for player who want a challenge. Characters that shirk the system can enter Suzail through the sewers to avoid notice, or go to intricate lengths to hide the extent of their spellcasting ability.

The unfortunate aspect of Cormyr’s authoritarianism is that there isn’t really a place for evil-aligned characters to be themselves. The current extent of available areas does contain wilderness, but people wanting to play bandits or cultists without having to conceal themselves 95% of the time are going to have to work really hard to find a place for themselves. This might change in the near future, however, as FRC’s Underdark nears completion.

Module

The quality of FRC’s level design is simply phenomenal. The server provides a wide variety of environments, ranging from cities to small villages, rural farmland, thick forests and coastlines. I don’t find myself visually bored with monotonously themed areas.

What impresses me the most though, is the absolute attention to detail that is apparent in pretty much every area. Textures are blended beautifully to create a natural and realistic look, and placeables and grass are used not just as finishing touches, but to truly cement the atmosphere FRC’s developers were aiming for. I have yet to see anything that jarringly reminds me I’m playing a computer game, and not exploring a fantastical environment.

The rural outskirts of Suzail just before sunset.

The rural outskirts of Suzail just before sunset.

When it comes to bells and whistles, FRC doesn’t fail to live up. Utilities are condensed onto a custom toolbar, and include the usual DMFI options as well KEMO animations, PC Tools, a very pleasant player scry function, and a language chat function integrated into the game’s default chat box instead of its own clunky interface. Clothing can be customized within game to the same extent as in the toolset itself. Current shortcomings are being unable to edit your character’s bio (you can however edit your KEMO bio), lacking an option for deleting/recycling PCs, and not being able to project through summons, familiars, and companions.

FRC’s xp rate is painfully slow. Getting 12-15 xp from a single mob is a very good rate on this server, and consequently many characters seem to be stuck at the lower levels. A few avid grinders have managed to reach level seventeen, but it took them a considerable amount of time and effort. Equally poor amounts are awarded for roleplaying, with characters occasionally receiving 10-13 experience for saying something. Roleplaying also builds up a pool of bonus xp which is added to dungeon kills in fractional amounts.

The other major source of xp on FRC is repeatable quests. Some of these quests can be completed daily for 50 xp, while others have longer cooldowns but provide greater rewards. The server’s staff has indicated their intent to continue adding repeatable quests as an option for leveling up.

Annoyingly and as a consequence of the poor xp rates, death has a rather huge consequence on FRC. Characters lose 50 xp per level, which equates to hours and hours of effort once you’ve gained a few levels. This xp loss can cause you to lose levels, as well. PCs lose 10% of the gold they’re carrying on respawning, regardless of level. Personally, I despise death penalties. NWN2 is incredibly luck reliant, and the three most common causes of deaths are stumbling into a high level area you’ve never been in before, getting critically hit four times in a row due to a terrible RNG, and lagging out or otherwise succumbing to the incredibly buggy game. Death is always frustrating, and almost always only peripherally the player’s fault. Dying is punishment enough.

When it comes to character and class options, FRC provides a reasonable selection of common races and prestige classes stemming from the base game and its expansions. The staff have announced their intent to create or modify prestige that are specific to the setting at some point in the future. The server doesn’t have Kaedrin’s pack, but honestly I’m okay with that. It isn’t really necessary in order to express any character you might want to make appropriate to the setting.

If I wanted to nitpick, I would express my extreme disappointment that many conversations with NPCs force you into fullscreen cutscenes which can’t be canceled out of, but it’s a pretty minor complaint.

Staff

I haven’t had any unpleasant experiences with any of the staff, many of whom also play characters under the same name. There isn’t any obvious bias, favoritism, or abuse of power, though I’ll be the first to admit that it takes more than a month to recognize it in many cases.

Many of FRC’s dungeon masters seem to have resigned shortly before I started playing, and there has been a slightly lull in activity as a consequence thereof. They do seem to be actively recruiting new members however, and two people have joined the staff since I came here. FRC is equally short-handed when it comes to developers and scriptwriters, so expansions and improvements to module beyond bug-fixes are relatively few and far between.

Overall the staff on FRC seem like good people. Sure, they’ll remind you that they’re not being paid to do their arduous jobs just as on every other server, but they’re willing to take feedback and suggestions within reason.

Policies

FRC has all of the usual rules preventing harassment, cheating, exploiting, and everything else that’s commonly agreed to be against the spirit of good etiquette.

Prestige classes and the uncommon races don’t require applications on FRC, which is a godsend in the current day and age persistent worlds. It’s always been my experience that applications don’t actually prevent anything crazy from slipping though, and only serve to get in the way of competent roleplayers and good storytellers.The people in charge of reviewing applications often don’t know the setting material half as well as the players.

You do have to ask permission to create a character who starts off with any station or power, such as nobility or military rank. That’s perfectly reasonable and fair though, so no complaints. There is a difference between requiring applications to ensure a player’s out-of-character skill with words and requiring applications to have more power, standing and influence in-character. FRC draws the line exactly where it should be.

PvP on FRC doesn’t require consent, which prevents those terribly awkward situations in which players have to bend over backwards to accommodate characters who act unintelligently, brashly, and impolitely and expect to get away with it. The server’s policies keep PvP polite, and make sure that both players know what’s going on out-of-character before anything happens. Naturally, PvP must always be supported by good roleplay.

A tense encounter of chance in the King's Forest.

A tense encounter of chance in the King’s Forest.

A simple ‘3-levels in each class by 20’ rule prevents power-building without being overly complicated or unnecessarily restrictive. FRC also disallows class combinations that don’t make in-character sense, which I’ve also always been fine with. Their policy when it comes to character builds covers the basics without being unreasonable. I can’t complain.

Finally, FRC does allow rated-R content, but only when confined to tells between consenting adults. It’s inarguably perfect, as nobody is kept from doing what they want to do, and nobody is forced to witness it if they don’t want to.

Conclusion

In short, I recommend Forgotten Realms Cormyr. Yes it’s another boring, bland, familiar Forgotten Realms server, but it generally has a good staff, good players, and good policies. It’s worth logging on even if only to explore the scenery.

FRC is rough around the edges in places, but it’s still in open beta so that’s to be expected. The staff seem to be committed to improving on the server, and not just keeping the lights on.

While the incredibly slow xp rates might turn a few players away, character level and the time it takes to get there shouldn’t be affecting your experience and fun, because persistent worlds simply aren’t about that. Players looking to try out FRC should roll characters with a reason to be there, and a reason to get involved. You wont get swept up in the story if you don’t try.

All in all, I enjoy FRC as a fun outlet for roleplay and a good way to pass the time while waiting for another non-Forgotten Realms server to come along, so hop on through direct connect to frcormyr.no-ip.org. I hope to see you there!

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