Sid Meier’s Civilization V: Gods and Kings

Mod of the Week: Faerun, for Civilization V

Christopher Livingston at

If you filled a sock with Dungeons & Dragons dice and knocked Sid Meier unconscious with it, what do you think he'd dream of? Possibly something like Faerun, a mod that brings Forgotten Realms to life inside Civilization V: Gods & Kings. Lead civilizations of elves, dwarves, and orcs, recruit druids and wizards, battle dragons and ogres, and learn powerful spells. (Also, please don't knock Sid Meier unconscious with a sock full of dice. Or with anything else.)

There's a ton of civilizations to choose from in the Faerun mod, all straight out of the Forgotten Realms universe. Play as Cormyr, Land of the Purple Dragon, led by Princess Alusair Nacacia Obarskyr. Or choose the dwarf Bruenor Battlehammer of Mithral Hall. Sarevok Anchev of Baldur's Gate fame? Hells yeah. And about two dozen more, representing most of the major nations you've encountered in Forgotten Realms D&D or video games.

Naturally, when forced to choose from a list of civilizations, I went with the least civilized civilization I could imagine: the orcs. The Hordes of the North, lead by King Obould Many-Arrows. I founded my city, started clearing forests and creating mines (seems more orc-y than building farms), and began churning out warriors, raiders, and archers while looking around for human civilizations to go to war with.

Look, it's Neverwinter in Civ V! Weird but cool.

One of the cooler changes in the mod is that instead of adopting policies, you now adopt schools of magic. Choose from Conjuration, Illusion, Enchantment, Transmutation, Necromancy, and others, and unlock D&D spells like Clairvoyance, Fireball, Silence, Unseen Servant, Color Spray, Raise Dead, Disintegrate, and even Mordenkainen’s Magnificent Mansion. As an orc civilization, magic doesn't really feel like a natural choice, but I went with offensive spells like Fireball, defensive spells like Stoneskin, and anything that seemed like it would help in combat.

As an orc civilization, I prefer sabers to spells. But I'll take a fireball or two.

I discover some nearby City-States ripe for raiding and pillaging, but before I've fully built up my armies, something happens: a dragon is spotted to the south. A flippin’ dragon!

Could use a hobbit with a ring right about now.

Sure, it’s a little weird, sending a bunch of orcs after a dragon. Fighting dragons is more a job for heroes, or at least humans. I can’t resist checking out the dragon, though, so I send two squads of archers down to find him. The dragon’s name is Thauglorimorglorus, and he's actually there, in the game, flapping his wings and everything. Cool!

It’s not particularly easy killing Thaug. It takes ages to whittle down his health and I have to send an additional two squads to finish the job. Worth it, though, as destroying the dragon nets me more than 3,000 gold from the big pile of treasure he's been hoarding.

Even for an ogre, he's big for an ogre.

Another awesome event: an ogre is spotted near my city! And he’s massive. He fills almost a whole hex by himself. This doesn't particularly fit my memory of D&D ogres, which were definitely big, but not giant-sized. But hey, I’m fine with ogres being giant, because I’m currently producing my own ogres in my own city. And they should be done right about... now.

My ogres are big, but they're not big-big. I feel cheated.

My ogres are ogre-sized, and the barbarian ogres are giant-sized? That seems unfair. My three ogres would have to stand on each other’s shoulders wearing a giant trench coat to pass themselves off as one of the wild ogres. Ah, well, who cares. The important thing is, I've got orcs and giant ogres and regular ogres on my screen and they’re fighting each other, in Civ V. Can't really complain.

Not long after the ogre is dispensed with, another event pops up: a necromancer has appeared to the north of Many-Arrows, and trailing him is a horde of zombie soldiers. My orges get their butts kicked by the necromancer, but my orc archers don’t have much trouble, and defeating the sorcerer gives us a buttload of weave points to spend unlocking new magic spells.

Now I'm starting to feel a bit more orc-y.

Fighting dragons, ogres, and necromancers is cool, but I’m not really gonna feel like I’m running an orc civilization until I start sacking and pillaging some human cities. I dispatch my archery units to the port City-State of Luskan, and soon the port and surrounding countryside are engulfed in black smoke and I'm feeling more like a huge band of marauding orcs. Luskan is mine without much trouble.

Next, I turn my eyes on the city of Surkh, but as soon as I begin the siege, about eight different things all go wrong at once. A giant ogre appears right between my Many-Arrows and Surkh, which is a problem because I’m moving another bunch of archers through that pass to bolster my siege. Another necromancer appears, preventing my group of ogres from joining the siege. I try bringing up some pikesman I have to the south, but they run into some barbarians. And my party of orc raiders who have been auto-exploring suddenly finds itself facing off with a bunch of Chultan knights on horseback.

Most of these fights go quite poorly. The giant ogre easily hacks through my wimpy archers, cutting two entire squads down. The raiders fighting the knights hang on for a bit, but the knights are assisted by Chultan pikemen, who make short work of them. The Necromancer destroys all but one of my ogre-sized ogres, and though another band of archers manage to kill him, they’re cut off by the four squads of zombie soldiers that the necromancer brought with him. And Surkh repels the rest of my attackers, forcing me to limp away with hardly any units left.

Fun, though! This is a really neat mod. The modder, framedarchitecture, clearly knows his Forgotten Realms lore and history. You can check out the rest of his Civ mods in the workshop here, and definitely try Faerun if you're a fan of D&D or Forgotten Realms material.

Installation: The mod is in the Steam workshop, so you can just subscribe. There's also a handy guide for anyone having installation issues here. And, for Mac users, this thread will get you started.