What is your favorite game world?
Well, with the limited playing time my group has, it's interesting to note that we've had several home-brewed campaigns interspersed with our published worlds. I had a DM try and play us in the Amber universe. That failed miserably: all the players agreed with that assessment. We've had some interesting planar adventures and a jaunt to Pathfinder's Golarion setting. All in all, though, I'd have to say I enjoy the Realms the most.
Mind you, it's an "edited" Realms. This ain't your daddy's Forgotten Realms, in other words.
I found a kindred spirit in this respect this morning, perusing the other participants in this month's blogging challenge. I happened across The Tower of the Archmage and was interested to see that he plays in a similar Realms that we do.
All of the major figures/players are absent. If they DO exist, they are elsewhere, putting out fires. Elminster is the only one that really has been named as existing. Drizzt and his companions? Nowhere to be found, happily, although we HAVE had one player dabble with a Drow character. He did it well, and different enough from Drizzt to be palatable.
The events of the novels and the campaign settings do not effect our Realms, unless we are actually playing through one of the campaigns. Largely, we are in a Realms sandbox, and take bits and pieces from published settings as it suits us.
My experience with the Forgotten Realms in this way is one reason I do not understand people who say that they can't play in this-or-that Published Setting because they don't like the major characters, don't want to worry about canon, don't want to be stuck following the guidelines of the novels, don't want to blah-blah-blah.
Make it your own. That's all it takes. Just like complaining about a rule set--take what you want and leave what you don't. Just because it's in a book--campaign setting or rule book--doesn't mean you HAVE to use it, unless the DM and/or entire party decides to use it.
We've journeyed through Our Realms since 2000. We've gone through 2E, 3E, 3.5E, and now Pathfinder as we've traveled. We care nothing for Salvatore or Greenwood's opinions on the matter, and we certainly didn't bother with any 4E Spellplague drivel. It's our Realms. And it's going to stay that way.