ON THE WORLD OF TORIL, BETWEEN THE windswept Sea of Swords to the west and the mysterious lands of Kara-Tur to the east, lies the continent of Faerun. A place of varied cultures and races, Faerun is dominated by human lands, be they kingdoms, city-states, or carefully maintained alliances of rural communities. Interspersed among the lands of humans are old dwarven kingdoms and hidden elven enclaves, assimilated populations of gnomes and halflings, and more exotic folk.
A great deal of adventure is to be had in the Realms, for those willing to seek it out. The routes between cities and nations often cross into the territory of brigands or marauding humanoids. Every forest, swamp, and mountain range has its own perils, whether lurking bandits, savage ores and goblinoids, or mighty creatures such as giants and dragons. Ruins dot the landscape and the caverns that wind beneath the surface. In these places, treasures of every living race- and a number of dead ones- wait for adventurers intrepid enough to come and claim them.
Faerfin is filled with rich history and wondrous tales of adventure and magic, but the lifeblood of its common people is agriculture and trade. Most rural folk depend on farming to eat, and Faerunians who live in cities ply skilled trades or use brawn to earn their keep, so they can purchase the goods and food provided by others. News and gossip are carried between population centers by caravans and ships that bring in supplies for trade and by traveling bards and minstrels who recount (or invent) stories to inform and entertain people in taverns, inns, and castles. Adventurers also spread news- while also creating it!
The common folk of Faerun look on adventurers with a mixture of admiration, envy, and mistrust. Folk believe that any stalwarts willing to risk their lives on behalf of complete strangers should be lauded and re- warded. But such adventurers, if they become successful, amass wealth and personal status at a rate that some people find alarming. Even people who admire these adventurers for their energy and their acts of valor might have misgivings: what horrors will be unleashed if adventurers, heedless or unknowing of the danger, unlock a ruin or a tomb and release an ancient evil into the world?
Most of the people who populate the continent have little or no knowledge of lands outside Faerun. The most educated among the populace agree that Faerun is but one continent and that Toril is the whole of the world, but for the majority of people, who don’t experience intercontinental travel or extraplanar exploration, “Faerun” is more than large enough of a concept for them to comprehend.
Except in the most remote or insular places, Faerunians are accustomed to seeing people of different cultures, ethnicities, and races. Only in the most cosmopolitan areas does such casual acceptance extend to evil humanoid races-such as goblinoids, orcs, and drow- to say nothing of even more dangerous creatures. Adventurers tend to be more tolerant, accepting exiles, misfits, and redeemed folk from strange lands and with unusual shapes.