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According to the setting's creators, Forgotten Realms is the name of an imaginary fantasy world that exists somewhere beyond the real world. The setting is described as a world of strange lands, dangerous creatures, and mighty deities, where magic and seemingly supernatural phenomena are quite real. The premise is that, long ago, the Earth and the world of the Forgotten Realms were more closely connected. As time passed, the inhabitants of planet Earth have mostly forgotten about the existence of that other world—hence the term Forgotten Realms.
The focus of the Forgotten Realms setting is the continent of Faerûn, part of the fictional world of Abeir-Toril, usually called simply Toril, an Earth-like planet with many real-world influences. Unlike Earth, the lands of the Forgotten Realms are not all ruled by the human race: the planet Abeir-Toril is shared by humans, dwarves, elves, goblins, orcs, and other peoples and creatures. Technologically, the world of the Forgotten Realms is not nearly as advanced as that of Earth; in this respect, it resembles the pre-industrial Earth of the 13th or 14th century. However, the presence of magic provides an additional element of power to the societies. There are several nation states and many independent cities, with loose alliances being formed for defense or conquest. Trade is performed by ship or horse-drawn vehicle, and manufacturing is based upon cottage industry.