With the backstory completed (I might even pare it down), I turned my attention to mapping out the Main Quest. I was immediately struck with the “grandness” of my grand plan: would I be able to accurately portray the myriad locations I have planned? I think the short answer is: No.
OK, full-disclosure: The adventure is going to start in Waterdeep…in an Inn. Yes it’s cliched. Yes it’s been done a hundred million times. But my adventurers are new. So I want to give them the “full” experience.
I then mapped out the backstory; coming up with a baseline for travel by horseback. I then started scouting locations a suitable distance from the starting point. I thought about having the next step in their quest take place in Taoshin, of Kara-Tur. I went to the Forgotten Realms Wiki and was immediately disappointed. I expanded the region search and was presented with a map. I had hope. However, I have my self-imposed constraint to make each location/encounter “accurate” according to common lore/canon. I needed to find more information on Kara-Tur. With Wizards of the Coast not producing anything “current” (as in for 5e), I started to doubt my grand plan. I started considering paring down the scale of my adventure.
I haven’t completely given up hope on Kara-Tur. However, until I get more confidence (read: information), I’m going to select my next 2 locations within Faerûn. There is enough real estate to meet all of my encounter-related conditions.
One other thing: I’m shooting for our first session to take place in December. The adventure is going to take place in Ukatar (November); I’ll be keeping track of adventure time because it’s going to factor into the encounters.