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 Stonelands - Zhentarim Trade Route
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Eilserus
Master of Realmslore

USA
1446 Posts

Posted - 18 Jan 2014 :  23:33:28  Show Profile Send Eilserus a Private Message  Reply with Quote  Delete Topic
Hello scribes!

Looking for some input regarding the Zhentarim caravan route that goes through the Stonelands. I'm guessing I'm just missing something simple here, but if you can't ride a mount in the Stonelands, then how does the Black Network even use it as their caravan route? Heavy carry packs and many porters? Or they only skirt the Stonelands at the edge of the desert?

As far as I can find, the only reference to some of the features of their route is this via THO from this scroll: http://forum.candlekeep.com/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=5812&whichpage=57

"an older, slower way the Zhents had through the Stonelands: a narrow, winding subterranean caravan route that was very narrow and hence slow (only one-way travel was possible at a time)."

Main question I had was how they transport through the Stonelands. With that said, does anyone know of any other details of the Zhentarim route through the Stonelands? Features, small bases etc?

Thanks all. :)


Dalor Darden
Great Reader

USA
4175 Posts

Posted - 19 Jan 2014 :  06:57:41  Show Profile Send Dalor Darden a Private Message  Reply with Quote
You have the answer right there: subterranean.

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George Krashos
Master of Realmslore

Australia
6572 Posts

Posted - 19 Jan 2014 :  09:52:28  Show Profile Send George Krashos a Private Message  Reply with Quote
As I recall, away from my sources, the "Ruins of Zhentil Keep" had a map of Zhentarim trade routes. Can't recall if one went through the Stonelands.

-- George Krashos

"Because only we, contrary to the barbarians, never count the enemy in battle." -- Aeschylus
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Eilserus
Master of Realmslore

USA
1446 Posts

Posted - 19 Jan 2014 :  16:24:34  Show Profile Send Eilserus a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Thanks guys. That would be one long subterranean cavern, but it was referenced as a secondary path through the Stonelands. I popped out my Ruins of Zhentil Keep map and yes it does show a path going right through the middle of Stonelands. Now I find that very interesting. I wouldn't put it past the Zhentarim to blast an exclusive trail through the area for caravans, but I imagine there's more to this than we know. Unless I'm just overthinking this. hehe

Maybe I should ask Ed and THO for clarification.
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The Arcanamach
Master of Realmslore

1842 Posts

Posted - 19 Jan 2014 :  16:28:50  Show Profile Send The Arcanamach a Private Message  Reply with Quote
With all of the magic available to them I have to wonder why the Zhentarim haven't widened the subterranean pass to make it more convenient (and out of sight). Im sure there are ledges and what have you that can't be easily 'widened' but I'm sure much of it could be modified for their purposes.

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Eilserus
Master of Realmslore

USA
1446 Posts

Posted - 19 Jan 2014 :  17:08:44  Show Profile Send Eilserus a Private Message  Reply with Quote
True, but that path was referenced as a fall-back route from the "normal" Stonelands route. And the Knights did collapse portions of its entrance and exit. Maybe the stone and rock was too unstable to warrant digging around and enlarging it without risk of collapse?
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Eilserus
Master of Realmslore

USA
1446 Posts

Posted - 19 Jan 2014 :  17:14:56  Show Profile Send Eilserus a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Another thought: If there is a subterranean path through the Stonelands (the question is if it spans the entire area), that has to be sheer luck they discovered it (and is a natural formation), or perhaps it was created by dwarves or another tunneling race to traverse that area.

Edited by - Eilserus on 19 Jan 2014 17:15:55
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Gary Dallison
Great Reader

United Kingdom
6316 Posts

Posted - 19 Jan 2014 :  20:56:19  Show Profile Send Gary Dallison a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I think the dwarven realm of Oghrann existed near there (under the Tunlands)

I think Tethyamar on the other side of the Stonelands (from the Tunlands) was also created by kin from a nearby dwarven realm. Maybe the dwarves travelled under the stonelands to found Tethyamar.

Of course I haven't check any history so I have no idea when either realm collapsed or was created so no idea if this is feasible or not

The Haunted Halls of Eveningstar certainly extends for quite a way under the stonelands in an extensive labyrinth of tunnels and caverns so there is no reason why there cant be other tunnel complexes that the Zhents couldn't join together.



As to the magic solving all problems. I think personally that unless someone uses multiple teleports to get to the destination most of the caravanning will have to be done the hard way.

Changing the terrain of hundreds of thousands of miles would be a challenge for any organisation. The Zhentarim does have plenty of magical might but most of these are low level mages hungry for power with plenty of ambition, but often lacking in ability.

So a 4th level mage might be handy for some tricky work occasionally but generally the Zhents are probably going to need large numbers of slaves to hack the earth flat the hard way.

And indeed that's what Zhents do best, they hire muscle, turn locals against each other, pay them to do odd jobs, and then swoop in and enslave the remnants to do whatever work they want. There may well be a little dirt trail winding its way through the Stonelands that is guarded by the odd hidden Zhent waystop (probably in the foothills of nearby mountains). This trail would be highlighted by trail markers that are only known to Zhents (a big stone with an odd pattern on it for instance).

I always opt for things being done the hard way (i.e. muscle, and walking) rather than magic fixed it all, unless it states magic did fix it all (like in Anauroch with there decanters of endless water)

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Eilserus
Master of Realmslore

USA
1446 Posts

Posted - 19 Jan 2014 :  21:56:28  Show Profile Send Eilserus a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I was thinking the same thing. And personally, I never liked the "magic solves everything" approach myself. Though, there is a bit of a snag in this approach that I've seen.

So Ed Greenwood Presents Elminster's Forgotten Realms, on pages 70 and 72 it talks about Manshoon and beholders. What is to stop a couple of elder beholders from ordering a couple of young eye tyrants out to the Stonelands to blast paths through with their disintegrate abilities? If this hasn't happened I can only guess that no beholder on Faerun would ever willingly do glorified ditch digger work at the behest of humans. Of course I could be wrong, but that's the reasoning I'll probably use for now.

The Haunted Halls connecting to the Zhentarim Stonelands tunnels would make for an interesting smuggling/spy route into Cormyr.
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Gary Dallison
Great Reader

United Kingdom
6316 Posts

Posted - 20 Jan 2014 :  11:26:37  Show Profile Send Gary Dallison a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I knew i read it somewhere. In GHoTR

quote:
149 DR Year of Adamantine Ore: Shield dwarf prospectors discover rich veins of adamantine and iron in the Teshan Mountains (present-day Desertsmouth Mountains) in the Tethyamar Caverns and send word back to their kin of fallen Oghrann in the Storm Horns to join them.



Now this quote doesnt say how they travelled between the Storm Horns and the Desertsmouth Mountains, but there is a possibility that it was underground (after all im sure there is a series of tunnels that stretches from a little dalelands village to the Great Rift).

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Eilserus
Master of Realmslore

USA
1446 Posts

Posted - 21 Jan 2014 :  18:18:17  Show Profile Send Eilserus a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I believe travel there is possible via underdark routes at least.

The 2E Shadowdale adventure on page 5 in regards to the Twisted Tower: "It was the drow who built the original Twisted Tower fortification to protect the major underground highways leading from the Moonsea region to the Storm Horns and beyond."

Most of us are familiar with the City of the Spider Queen adventure where hordes of monsters from Tethyamar march and ultimately destroy Maerimydra. The tunnels from Maerimydra lead to Shadowdale. I would have exptected this path to be closed to marching dwarves at the time as the drow most likely were very powerful in the local Underdark.

In one of the War of the Spider Queen books we have Valas Hune and Danifae I believe, running in tunnels and caverns below Tilverton. And if I recall they took this path from the Lake of Shadows. So it is possible it is an alternate route to the area near Tethyamar and may well link up with tunnels and caverns in the Storm Horns area.

All in all, I could easily see a path, maybe even a hidden dwarven one leading from the Storm Horns to the Desertsmouth Mountains.
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