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Scenario One: War of the Avatars -- Set-up Rules

In the misty dawn a long column of men-at-arms marched forth from a dusky castle. Viewed from the parapets, their snaking lines were quickly swallowed up by fog and the foreboding darkness of the neighboring woods. Despite the chill and the morning gloom, Ulvane Firehand watched the company's departure with a mixture of excitement and anticipation. From this small beginning he would carve out a mighty empire. The wilderness of the Savage Frontier would yield its bounty to a strong Lord; those beings unwilling to join his banner of their own accord would do so at the point of a sword, or die.

As the last of the silver-mailed expedition exited the gates, Ulvane reflected upon the Time of Troubles now at hand. It was a time when the gods themselves would be cast down and their avatars would walk the face of Faerun. It was said that when gods made war, men would tremble--but while they did, the Firehand would conquer! Prepared to take every advantage of uncertain times, Ulvane's scouts had been scouring nearby lands to locate targets.

There would be red war, a conflict encompassing men and elves, dwarves and orcs, mortals and gods. "Where swords fail, our magic will carry the day!" Ulvane spoke aloud to hearten those warriors who stood near to him. The die was cast; in the months ahead, the Firehand would ascend to the ultimate pinnacle of power or fall into the gaping jaws of defeat.

"Let neither men nor gods impede us! To victory!" Ulvane's voice rang from the castle courtyard as he jumped down from the parapet, mounted his charger and accepted a lance from his waiting squire. He spurred his horse and raced forward to join his men in the snowy field. He turned his horse to look once more towards the past. Then the mists closed in, obscuring his departing form as well as the future...

Set-up Rules

Welcome to the Forgotten Realms play-by-mail game. These rules contain all you need to know to fill out a first turn order sheet (you can be able to order a first turn setup here or below). More detailed rules will be sent to you with your first turn results.

What's it All About?

Play-by-mail allows you to participate in a vast game with dozens of other people from across the country. Each player fills out an order sheet and sends it in. About two weeks later, each player receives a package that describes the results of his orders. This process repeats until victory is declared. In War of the Avatars, each player controls a realm that consists of units, communities, leaders and items. Each realm is just a small part of the Savage Frontier of the Forgotten Realms setting. Up to 50 players participate in each War of the Avatars campaign (game). In addition to these 50 realms, there are also roaming bands of monsters and humanoids and neutral city-states spread across a 5,000 hexagon map. Not only are multitudes of creatures swarming across the land, but the very gods themselves are soon to enter the fray. Twenty turns after each campaign starts, the gods begin to choose sides. You must make your kingdom powerful enough to summon a god's avatar to join your realm.

The Ultimate Goal

Your ultimate goal is to become Lord of the Savage Frontier. To do this, you have to conquer territory and communities. Of course, everyone else in the game is trying to do the same, so there's bound to be lots of conflict and diplomacy during the campaign.

Your Realm

Each realm consists of units, communities, leaders and items. Each of these is briefly described below.

Units: Your military forces consist of armies and garrisons. Armies are your attack force. They can move around the map at your command, exploring and conquering new territory. Units may also be used to defend your territory and communities. Garrisons can't move; they remain at the community in which they are built. They serve solely as a defensive force.

Leaders: These are individual characters which may lead units. The leader adds bonuses to all units in its group and in the same hexagon. Realms begin with only one leader, called the realm character. You will be able to choose the class of this character (see Customizing Your Realm).

Items: Items, both magic and mundane, may be assigned to your units and leaders. Once attached, items adds bonuses to that unit and all other units and leaders in the same hexagon. Realms begin with a pair of items assigned to the realm character; the items will depend on the realm character's class (see Customizing Your Realm).

Communities: There are over 600 communities scattered across the Savage Frontier -- settlements, villages, towns, cities and Waterdeep, the region's one metropolis. Only a few communities belong to your realm at the start of the campaign. These are described in the Set-up Report you have received and are shown on the map in the report. Communities provide both wealth and new units. Each community contributes to your treasury at the end of every turn; how much depends on its size and what you've done with it recently. You may invest in it to bolster its economy, or conscript units from it, which weakens its economy. For now, all you really need to know is that communities are Good Things, and you want as many of them as you can get.

Customizing Your Realm

You can add your own personal touch to your realm on your Turn 1 Order Sheet by changing the realm's name and banner in the space provided at the bottom. You may also change your realm character's name and class.

If you decide to change your realm's name, banner, or both, certain choices aren't acceptable. Socially unacceptable names and banners will, of course, be edited or ignored. The names and banners you choose must have a fantasy flavor. If you try to rename your realm Mutants from Pluto and change your banner to a green mushroom cloud on a pink background, you'll be stuck with the original name and banner. Fantasy-oriented names, such as The Creeping Doom or The Northern Hordes, are much more acceptable.

Each realm starts with a human lord with enchanted chainmail and mithral weapons as its realm character. You may change the character for your realm, but only on your Turn 1 Order Sheet. You can change the realm character to a human high priest with enchanted platemail and enchanted weapons, a human master thief with boots of speed and enchanted bows, or a human arch-mage with cloaks of protection and javelins of lightning. You may also change your realm character's name. As with your realm's name, certain character names may be deemed inappropriate.

You must also decide if your realm will be secluded or not. If you seclude your realm, other players will not be given your address if they request it. If you proclaim your realm, however, other players will be given your address on request.

Initial Strategies

We have worked out some general strategies which we feel will help you at the beginning of the game. You are free to develop your own plan of action, but you should at least glance at the following suggestions. Keep in mind that it's always a good idea to thoroughly explore the area around your initial communities before heading off for distant parts. Don't attack a community until you have scouted its defenses, and don't attack without superior numbers on your side (2 to 1 or more). You might also want to form borders with your friendly neighbors so that you can all concentrate on defeating the hostile computer forces first. Finally, when in doubt, use Strategy A.

Strategy A--Explore to the Max: A player pursuing this strategy sends out most or all of his available units as individual scouts. All units operate with the Explore mission, which has them retreat when they encounter hostile forces. This player will quickly learn a great deal about the regions surround his realm. He will capture unoccupied hexagons, befriend uncommitted forces, find out the location and strength of hostile forces, and discover other player realms. While the scouting reports are filtering back, the player can build up one or two strong armies, to be sent after the juiciest targets discovered by his scouts. This can lead to rapid growth when uncommitted forces and communities decide to join your realm.

Strategy B--Combine and Conquer: This strategy calls for the player to combine all his available units into one large army. Pick your initial target (such as a town or village that you don't own but would like to) from those communities listed on your turn report. Choose your targets carefully, going after the most valuable ones first; but keep in mind that you are not big enough yet to take a city. This strategy lends itself to slow but reasonably sure growth, as all the might of the realm is packed into one knockout punch.

Strategy C--Divide and Conquer: The player who uses this strategy places all his available units into two or three armies, which then head for different targets. This strategy could lead to a much more rapid expansion than strategy B, but it has risks. Some armies might fail to capture their targets due to the strength of the realm being spread thinly.

Can Friends Play?

Can friends play in the same game of Forgotten Realms? Yes, if they play realms which are "friendly" to each other. A list of "friendly" realms appears at the bottom of the Turn 1 Order Sheet and at the bottom of the Realm information in the Set-up Report. All realms in a group must be mutually "friendly". If you are not sure your group qualifies, contact us for help. Once all friends in the group have filled out their Turn 1 Order Sheets, submit all these order sheets to us in the same envelope. On the top of each Order Sheet, write "FRIENDS GAME" and the names of each member in the group of friends. (For example, if Bob Smith, Mark Jones, Gary White wanted to play in a game together, they would each write "FRIENDS GAME: Bob Smith, Mark Jones, Gary White" on the top of their Order Sheet.) Finally, these sheets should be either paper-clipped or stapled together to further insure that they get into the same game.


The orders listed here are the ones most useful for your Turn 1 Order Sheet. More orders will appear in the complete rules which you will receive with your first turn's output.

If you want an order repeated on all subsequent turns, mark the Standing Order box in front of that particular order on the order sheet. This can be very useful for Invest, Craft, Muster, and Conscript orders. You need only issue one Standing Muster order at a community and the community will muster a new unit each turn.


Movement is the key to getting your units from here to there (Garrison units may not be ordered to move). When one of your units moves into an unoccupied hexagon, the hexagon falls under your control. If the hexagon is occupied, you must defeat the occupying army in order to gain control of the hexagon. A movement order is canceled if the moving unit retreats from battle, dies in combat, or is given new movement orders.

Each hexagon a unit moves into costs movement points (MPs). The number of movement points depends on the terrain of the hexagon, modified by the presence of roadways and waterways (see the Terrain Movement Cost Chart).

An additional 1 MP will be added if the hexagon entered is unowned. An additional 10 MPs will be charged if an unallied force is encountered. If a unit doesn't have enough MPs to enter a hexagon, the unit stops moving BEFORE entering that hexagon and any remaining MPs are lost.

The base number of movement points available to a unit each turn is given in the unit's MP statistic. If a unit is followed by other units, the base MPs of the group comes from the unit with the fewest MPs. To the base MPs, we add all bonus MPs found in the group.

This order enables you to choose the exact path for a unit, by indicating the direction in which you wish the unit to move from each new hexagon it enters. The unit can be given up to 16 directions in which to move. The directions are as follows:

Hexagon Example

Movement continues over as many turns as it takes to reach all the hexagons you specify. If you use either direction 0 or 9 as the last direction in a Move order, then the unit continues the appropriate movement until the order is canceled. Directions 7 and 8 enable you to delay a unit's move.

Example:  U2001 MOVE 6464 5154 6451 6220
(Move Unit U2001 in the given directions, then continue east)

Hexagon Example

Example:  U2002 MOVE 1239
(Move Unit U2002 in the given directions, then repeat)

Hexagon Example


This commands one of your units to follow another unit (Garrison units may not be ordered to follow). After this order is executed, you need to give movement orders only to the lead unit.

A following unit obeys the Conflict or Explore setting of its lead unit, ignoring its own setting. In the reports, a following unit is shown indented under the lead unit. Note that several units already follow your realm character.

Any number of units can follow the same unit. A unit with followers can itself be ordered to follow another unit. A unit that is not in the same hexagon as the unit it is to follow will move along an intercept path until it reaches the destination unit.

Example:  U2001 FOLLOW U2002
(Unit U2001 follows Unit U2002)


This commands one of your items to be assigned to another unit. In the reports, an assigned item is shown indented under the lead unit. Note that both of your items are already assigned to your realm character.

Any number of items can be assigned to the same unit. An item that is not in the same hexagon as the unit it is assigned to will wait in its hexagon until the destination unit arrives to claim it.

Example:  I1001 ASSIGN U2002
(Item I1001 is assigned to Unit U2002)


All player units start each campaign operating under the Explore mission. This means your units will retreat if they encounter another unit in a hexagon (though they continue any additional movement from their new hexagon). If you plan to attack a unit or community, your unit (or lead unit in a stack of units) has to be set to Conflict. This order can be used to tell up to four of your units to automatically attack any units they meet.

Example:  CONFLICT U2001 U2002 U2005 U2009
(These four units will attack)


This order commands one of your communities to produce an army or leader. The community must be of the appropriate race and must be large enough to conscript the unit. Your treasury must also have the required gold. The race, community size, and gold required for each unit you can conscript are listed in your turn report. You may issue orders to the new unit next turn.

Conscripting a unit lowers the gold production of the conscripting community by at least 1.

Example:  C100 CONSCRIPT UT92
(Waterdeep [C100] conscripts a Human Militia [UT92])


You can use this order to increase the gold production at one of your communities. It costs 5 gold to increase gold production by 1.

Example:  C100 INVEST 10
(Invest 10 gold to increase Waterdeep's [C100] gold production by 2)


Muster is a combination of the conscript and invest orders. This order commands one of your communities to produce an army or leader. It also commands the community to invest enough gold so that no gold production will be lost because of the muster. Thus, the muster will cost at least 5 gold more than the cost of the unit alone.

Example:  C100 MUSTER UT92
(Waterdeep [C100] musters a Human Militia [UT92])


This order commands one of your communities to produce an item. The community must be of the appropriate race and must be large enough to craft the item. Your treasury must also have the required gold. The race, community size, and gold required for each item you can craft is listed in your turn report. You may use the new item next turn.

Example:  C100 CRAFT IT1
(Waterdeep [C100] crafts Armor of Quality [IT1])

Terrain Movement Cost

The following chart lists the movement point (MP) costs of the terrain you'll encounter in War of the Avatars.

Terrain MP Cost*
Clear (CLR) 4
Desert (DES) 6
Forest, Light (LTF) 5
Forest, Normal (FOR) 6
Forest, Heavy (HVF) 7
Glacier (GLA) 8
Hills (HIL) 6
Moor (MOR) 6
Mountain, Low (LMT) 8
Mountain, Med (MMT) 10
Mountain, High (HMT) 12
Snow (SNO) 7
Swamp (SWA) 8
Tundra (TUN) 6
Volcano (VOL) 15

* Add 1 MP if you do not own the hexagon. Movement costs x 2 crossing rivers, x 1.25 crossing streams. Movement cost x 0.50 traveling on a road, x 0.75 traveling on a trail. Add 10 MPs for an unallied encounter.

Description Amount
First turn fee Free for new players*
US$ 7.50 for repeat players*
Additional turn fees US$ 1.50 + 0.50 per available order**
Missed turn Free
First set-up Free
Additional set-ups US$ 7.50

* A person who has never played the Forgotten Realms PBM will not be charged for his first turn of play. A person who has played before will be charged US$7.50 for the first turn.

** Turn 1 fee is US$7.50, Minimum turn fee is US$6.50, Maximum turn fee is US$15.00.

NOTE: The turn fees are based on the number of orders available to the realm, not the number submitted. As a realm conquers communities, the number of available orders increases.

NOTE: We cannot accept a fax or a photocopy of the Turn 1 Order sheet, we need the original. If you send us a fax or photocopy, your placement into a campaign will be delayed until we receive the original.

NOTE: Setups are processed in the order of receipt. It will take about 2 to 6 weeks to be placed in a campaign and to receive the turn 1 output. It takes about twice as long for slow campaigns.

ADVANCED DUNGEONS & DRAGONS, AD&D, FORGOTTEN REALMS, and the FORGOTTEN REALMS Logo are trademarks of TSR, Inc. (c) 1995 TSR, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by Reality Simulations, Inc. under license from TSR, Inc. PBM game design (c) 1995 Reality Simulations, Inc.

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