By definition, I am not a canon-loving guy. My games in Greyhawk blend a number of timelines together, and might best be described as being a “bastardized” form of Greyhawk.
So it stands to reason that over the years, I have gone through no small amount of suffering attempting to run a non-canon Forgotten Realms campaign.
Look, the 1st edition Forgotten Realms was fantastic. I’m not really down with later editions or the 4e aberration (aka “Oh Shit! Dragonbornz Is Here!”), but the first edition of the setting really nailed an epic, massive, GM-friendly world with plenty of puttering about to be done.
Sadly, due perhaps to years of popular paperbacks and the innate tendencies of any fandom, Forgotten Realms seems to inspire a particularly virulent strain of canon fiend. I’m talking about the player that interrupts you five times during your initial (and, as it will turn out, final) campaign exposition to inform you the denizens of Silverymoon actually would never do that, or ally with those dwarves, or visit that inn. I actually had one guy cite a book and chapter as to why I was depicting the area around Waterdeep improperly (no mention was given to the fact he was playing a Rune Mage in Rolemaster in the Realms, but I guess that didn't violate any unspoken rules).
I’ve tried being upfront, explaining that everything I do won’t match the exhaustive detailed compiled by hundreds of Realms products. They seem to nod eagerly, ready to forget about this month’s novel and actually do some damn, you know, gaming, in the setting. Yet the first session invariably turns to grief, as they become enraged at my misrepresentation of the true history of Myth Drannor. We aren't talking about me giving Elminster a jetpack here, folks. We are talking about minutiae.
It probably all comes down to what we want out of things; I want a cool setting I can use as an outline or framework for a campaign, they want to use those years accumulating knowledge about a pretend place in a social setting. Or, to be more charitable, they want the EXACT SETTING from their novels. We are at cross-purposes.
Of course, even my beloved Greyhawk has its zealots, but for my money, they cannot compete in numbers or fanaticism to the Realms fans. Which is why if I ever try to run in the Realms again, I’ll have to try it with people who have never even heard of Waterdeep, Bob Salvatore, or a certain emo drow.