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Green check This page is an official policy on the Forgotten Realms Wiki. It has wide acceptance among editors and is considered a standard that all users should follow. When editing this page, please ensure that your revision reflects consensus. When in doubt, discuss first on the talk page.

The Past-Tense Policy, also known as the remove wiki from the timeline policy, addresses the use of tense, particularly past tense, in in-universe articles on the Forgotten Realms Wiki.

ReasoningEdit

The Forgotten Realms campaign setting has always been, and still is, an evolving creation. The timeline is forever advancing and with it events in the Realms move on. Campaign settings and following sourcebooks have been published over the year ranges 13561358 DR for 1st edition, 13671370 DR for 2nd edition, 13721374 DR for 3rd edition, and 14791480 DR for 4th edition, with a non-specific date of around 1490-something for 5th-edition, alongside 2nd-edition's Arcane Age supplements for campaigns set in the past, with Netheril: Empire of Magic covering the time of ancient Netheril, −3859 DR to −339 DR; Cormanthyr: Empire of the Elves set in 650 DR; and The Fall of Myth Drannor set up to 714 DR; among others. For 5th-edition, the designers no longer state a current date, so a present is moot.

As such, keeping articles in the scope of an established "present day" would be both time-consuming and mostly irrelevant. For example, a town like Zhentil Keep may be thriving in one year, then destroyed, then rebuilt, and so on, so changing from present tense to past tense and back to present tense would be very difficult. A character may be alive in a sourcebook, and written about in present tense, but then slain in a novel, so readers may find the present-tense article confusing. A long-lived character like an elf or lich can live for many centuries, but an article in present tense implies they are alive in this hypothetical present, when they could have died a century before. In novels and sourcebooks, some events are to have occurred 20 years ago or a century before, but this increasingly inaccurate as a timeline moves on. Many characters, places, and situations are introduced and never mentioned again, so their "present" status will never be known. Moreover, the wiki has tens of thousands of pages, so updating every one to reflect each new edition or sourcebook in a new year will be a massive undertaking every few years.

In addition, the Forgotten Realms Wiki intends to be edition-neutral, that is, not favoring any one edition over another. Adopting the present of one edition, even the latest, implies a rejection of another to some of its fans. The wiki also aims to be a resource for games; while most are set in the current era of the latest edition, many are still set in the eras of past editions, or in years outside those eras.

The use of past tense neatly avoids all these issues, by setting events in stone as soon as they occur. Therefore, to maintain a consistent writing style, to eliminate chronology errors, and be equally accepting of all editions and appealing to all fans, the Forgotten Realms Wiki adopted the past-tense policy. Instead, the time to which information pertains should be expressed by dates in the article, whether a year or a century, as accurately and as appropriately as possible.

It does not mean everything is dead and gone, that dwarves and gold dragons are extinct, that Eshpurta is destroyed, or Drizzt Do'Urden is deceased. Instead, this use of past tense is a form of narrative tense used for storytelling purposes, as used in most novels and every Forgotten Realms novel.

PolicyEdit

When writing in-universe articles, the people, places, creatures, items, magic, events, etc., referred to should always be written in the past tense, whether the information is taken from a newly published and up-to-date product or not.

ExceptionsEdit

Articles about real-world subjects such as authors, artists, books, games, comics, etc., should be written in present tense where appropriate. A living author should be referred to in present tense, and a deceased one in past tense. However, events that occurred in the past should be referred to in past tense, as normal.

In addition, information about general real-world subjects such as weapons, armors, gems, animals, etc., where they pertain to the real world, may be written in past tense or present tense, but there is a preference for past tense. As per the past-tense policy, however, Realms-related lore should always be in past tense.

In an in-universe article, when discussing what is known or not known to the editor, readers, or fans, present tense may be used only when pertaining to real-world knowledge. For example, "It is not known if he survived" uses present tense in the first part and past tense in the second part.

The Years pages are written in present tense to match the tone and style of The Grand History of the Realms and other timeline resources, as per convention.

TemplatesEdit

TimelineEdit

Especially with 4th edition, due to the 100-year advancement of the timeline, some statements are not accurate for all times, so a distinction should be made. You can use {{timescale}} to indicate that a more accurate date or time is required. As an example:

Azoun IV is the King of Cormyr.[as of when?]

This would be better written as:

Azoun IV was the King of Cormyr between 1336 DR and 1371 DR.

Similarly:

The village was destroyed a century ago.[as of when?]

This can be clarified to:

The village was destroyed around the 1250s DR.

Al-QadimEdit

The Al-Qadim setting has no present date or fixed chronology, but a date of 1367 DR has been estimated and adopted arbitrarily for use on the wiki. The {{AQ-time}} template is used to note this.