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Gary Dallison
Great Reader

United Kingdom
6346 Posts

Posted - 25 Jul 2022 :  18:37:52  Show Profile Send Gary Dallison a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Did you consider a simpler hypothesis? That Sosdrielle is Sosdrielle Vandree (mother of Liriel, and late mistress of Gromph).


I completely forgot about Liriel's mother, i just assumed that because Vasha the Red is from a 1000 years ago and from the surface she would never have heard of Liriel and as its relatively early on in their meeting i figure that they wouldnt have gotten to declaring parents and grandparents names.

What you are saying makes sense though, i will have to amend my notes, but Maleficent seems a poor choice for a drow name from Elaine, maybe Sosdrielle is Liriel's mother (i doubt Liriel ever knew who her grandmother was) and that did come up in conversation, but Vasha filled in the blanks regarding the rest of Liriel's lineage with a dark fey being like Maleficent from Ruathym.

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Gary Dallison
Great Reader

United Kingdom
6346 Posts

Posted - 25 Jul 2022 :  21:37:05  Show Profile Send Gary Dallison a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Reading Escape from Undermountain, not a bad book. Has some interesting bits in it, like a group called the Outcasts which should definitely be tied into Waterdeep lore, some accident involving a mental asylum would work.

We have a Council of Nobles that i've never heard before (its set in the past so chances are the council disbanded).

Then we get to Halaster's apprentices. As far as i understand it there were 7 apprentices, and when i check online i can see that 6 are accounted for with 1 left undetailed.
However, Escape from Undermountain notes Talastria and Orannon as apprentices of Halaster that made the descent into Undermountain a thousand years ago to find their master.

So we now have 8 apprentices. It could be that there were apprentices of the apprentices (when they lived in Halaster's Tower, before they descended to Undermountain), so there term "Halaster's Apprentices" becomes a much larger group that encompasses a number of people learned in the legacies of Halaster and his teachings.

Then there is Muiral, i note that originally Muiral was a great warrior and Halaster's bodyguard. The lore says he became an apprentice but it doesnt say when. It could be that Muiral was never a direct apprentice of Halaster (his transformation speaks of Arcturia's influence) and instead learned his craft from the other apprentices (they would need a warrior to help as they descended into Undermountain). If Muiral did not become an apprentice officially then we have only 5 known apprentices plus Talastria and Orannon which makes 7.

Just a thought

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ericlboyd
Forgotten Realms Designer

USA
2058 Posts

Posted - 25 Jul 2022 :  22:47:56  Show Profile  Visit ericlboyd's Homepage Send ericlboyd a Private Message  Reply with Quote
There were seven original apprentices, including Trobriand and Muiral.

There were plenty of other apprentices, but those seven were the first to follow their master into Undermountain.

See Ruins of Undermountain, City of Splendors (boxed set), and City of Splendors: Waterdeep.

--
http://www.ericlboyd.com/dnd/
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Wooly Rupert
Master of Mischief
Moderator

USA
36773 Posts

Posted - 26 Jul 2022 :  01:59:40  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Gary Dallison

Reading Escape from Undermountain, not a bad book. Has some interesting bits in it, like a group called the Outcasts which should definitely be tied into Waterdeep lore, some accident involving a mental asylum would work.

We have a Council of Nobles that i've never heard before (its set in the past so chances are the council disbanded).

Then we get to Halaster's apprentices. As far as i understand it there were 7 apprentices, and when i check online i can see that 6 are accounted for with 1 left undetailed.
However, Escape from Undermountain notes Talastria and Orannon as apprentices of Halaster that made the descent into Undermountain a thousand years ago to find their master.

So we now have 8 apprentices. It could be that there were apprentices of the apprentices (when they lived in Halaster's Tower, before they descended to Undermountain), so there term "Halaster's Apprentices" becomes a much larger group that encompasses a number of people learned in the legacies of Halaster and his teachings.

Then there is Muiral, i note that originally Muiral was a great warrior and Halaster's bodyguard. The lore says he became an apprentice but it doesnt say when. It could be that Muiral was never a direct apprentice of Halaster (his transformation speaks of Arcturia's influence) and instead learned his craft from the other apprentices (they would need a warrior to help as they descended into Undermountain). If Muiral did not become an apprentice officially then we have only 5 known apprentices plus Talastria and Orannon which makes 7.

Just a thought




We have at least nine apprentices, not including Talastria and Orannon, whom I don't believe have ever been mentioned outside of this novel. I've not read the novel in a long time, but I'm assuming these two were either would-be apprentices, or they were apprentices that didn't last very long.

There's a lot of references to the Seven, though; I believe they were the first of his apprentices, and the other two (and presumably the two in this novel) came later.

The Ruins of Undermountain names five of them (two are dead, two are alive, the fate of the last is unknown):

Arcturia
Jhesiyra Kestellharp
Muiral the Misshapen
Nester
Trobriand the Metal Mage

The Grand History of the Realms names those five, and fills out the rest of the Seven, adding these names:

Marambra Nyghtsteel
Rantantar

This source explicitly states that these last two were members of the Seven.

The 4E module Halaster's Lost Apprentice names another apprentice, who is described as being "lost to time and history." Finding her identity is part of the adventure. Assuming the PCs succeed, they learn she was a human female named Maerlyn.

Expedition to Undermountain names another "former" apprentice, Nandel Greenward, who is still around and is part of Halaster's Heirs.

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Edited by - Wooly Rupert on 26 Jul 2022 02:01:29
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Stones Finder
Acolyte

Canada
30 Posts

Posted - 26 Jul 2022 :  04:10:51  Show Profile Send Stones Finder a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Don't forget there were several named apprentices in the Deep Levels boxed set, although I don't think it was specified whether or not they were among the original seven. The Wyllowwood (sp?) was created as a love offering by one apprentice to his druid lover.

Also, I'd be very careful of using Escape from Undermountain as a source of cannon info. It was one of the 3 pre-Spellplague novels that I wrote of as "Not in MY Realms" the moment I finished it. IIRC, there's a scene where a pair of liches literally stumble on a stepped dais and smash themselves to pieces - that makes the humor in "Once Around the Realms" seem highbrow...

Those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it - Advice for the 5e design team
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Wooly Rupert
Master of Mischief
Moderator

USA
36773 Posts

Posted - 26 Jul 2022 :  05:30:34  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Stones Finder

Don't forget there were several named apprentices in the Deep Levels boxed set, although I don't think it was specified whether or not they were among the original seven. The Wyllowwood (sp?) was created as a love offering by one apprentice to his druid lover.


I'll have to look through that one again.

quote:
Originally posted by Stones Finder

Also, I'd be very careful of using Escape from Undermountain as a source of cannon info. It was one of the 3 pre-Spellplague novels that I wrote of as "Not in MY Realms" the moment I finished it. IIRC, there's a scene where a pair of liches literally stumble on a stepped dais and smash themselves to pieces - that makes the humor in "Once Around the Realms" seem highbrow...



While I'm inclined to agree, I'm also loathe to toss out a novel just because it was bad. However, the information about those two apprentices is kind of an isolated thing -- it doesn't really affect published Realmslore, one way or the other, to include (or exclude) them, so long as you don't say they were part of the Seven. It doesn't break anything to say they were only briefly apprentices or that they never were apprentices of Halaster's, but claimed otherwise for the PR, or anything else you want to do with them.

Really, the only problematic lore with any of the apprentices is, of course, from 5E, when they turned Jhesiyra Kestellharp, a former Magister, to a babysitter, in Dungeon of the Mad Mage. This can be worked around with a couple of different spins, but so far as I know, that's the only real issue with any edition's lore about Halaster's apprentices.

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Gary Dallison
Great Reader

United Kingdom
6346 Posts

Posted - 26 Jul 2022 :  07:11:55  Show Profile Send Gary Dallison a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I was fine with the liches crumbling. Ed has shown us a variety of lichnee states that are less successful than the complete, secret, and difficult to obtain true lich state.

Telastria and orannon simply were unsuccessful in becoming true liches and their bodies decayed faster than normal.

Another alternative is that we witnessed the birth of demi liches as their bodies finally gave up.

Either way I've not found anything in the novel to warrant exclusion. So far I'd only take out bits of once around the realms and all of RAS names.

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Gary Dallison
Great Reader

United Kingdom
6346 Posts

Posted - 27 Jul 2022 :  17:57:45  Show Profile Send Gary Dallison a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Escape From Undermountain (1325 DR)
By Mark Anthony

Company of the Red Wolf
Jardis, became friend with Trisa when he caught her picking his purse in Waterdeep, he was a farmboy that had just run away from home carrying his father’s sword. Warrior, strong, never bothers to wear armour anymore except for his studded bracers, leather breeches and two straps across his chest. Wields a two handed glaive in one hand, and a shield [prologue]
Trisa, emerald eyes, red hair, beautiful, rogue [prologue]
Sulbrin, wizard, became friends with Jardis and Trisa when he was just an apprentice mage and helped them in a bar fight against a hobgoblin [prologue]
They had been traveling for years now, finding adventure and a spot of coin where the road and chance took them. [prologue]
Entered Undermountain through the Well of Entry in the Yawning Portal inn [prologue]
All slain by a horde of huge rats near the exit/entrance to Undermountain (where did the rats suddenly come from????) [prologue]

Undermountain
Only in recent years that it has become fashionable to venture into Undermountain [prologue]
Temple of Savras. The giant, sacred idol of Savras the All Seeing sat upon its onyx dais in meditative repose. White stone hands rested calmly upon white stone knees, palms upward in a gesture of supplication. Blank stone eyes gazed from a placid stone face, while a single crystal shone (known as the Third Eye of Savras) like a star in the centre of the idol's smooth stone brow. 500 years old and remained undisturbed and had never been defiled. Protected by magic (what????), a beam of moonlight shines on the crystal in its forehead, if the beam is broken the doom of Savras will befall the defiler. [prologue]
The Third Eye of Savras was worth an entire chest full of gold [prologue]
Temple of Savras located within a large room with circular columns. The temple is accessed via a circular door. If the status is defiled its face changes to a grotesque mask twisted in fury, the columns begin to topple and the circular door closes like an iris. [prologue]
Circular chamber with a red stone statue of a well muscled humanoid some 40 ft tall. Its hand and fingers (some snapped off) outstretched it shoots lightning towards two doors on opposite sides of the chamber that ricochet off and crackle around the chamber. The statue is hollow and a secret button opens a hidden panel between its shoulders blades. Stairs in the statue lead down below the circular chamber [2]
A high basalt archway shaped like a gaping mouth. Marks the entrance to the territory of the Outcasts, the city's malformed, its ill, its mad. Driven underground over the years they retreated into the sewers and then into Undermountain. They welcome other broken people but hate whole and healthy people. Their hatred melded with some dark magic that lingers in these corridors even now. The very stones exude an evil enchantment like a foul odour. The Outcasts don't kill those who intrude upon their territory, instead they twist their bodies and minds, turning the intruders into Outcasts like themselves. [3]
The Outcasts tunnels walls were strangely curved and ridged. A dark, glistening mucus covered them, dripping onto the floor, which was nauseatingly soft and spongy under their feet. In all, the tunnel seemed as if it had not been hewn of stone, but was alive. Glossy shapes were embedded in the wall, livid and throbbing, like huge organs. The Outcasts embed people into the walls and tendrils appear and pump the victims full of dark fluids that transform them into Outcasts. [3]
The Emerald Fountain, kills any who drink from its waters [3]
Teleportation magic doesn’t work out of Undermountain, but gates and portals do [3]
Horned Ring of Undermountain, Halaster made many of them (they are uncommon). It allows the wearer to teleport anywhere in Undermountain below where they currently are. If the rubies of the ring are removed, then multiple people can teleport with the wearer [13]
Midnight Lake [13]
None of the apprentices found Halaster [13]
The Wish Gate, will take anyone entering it wherever they wish to go [13]


Waterdeep
Lord Darien Thal, scion of House Thal, high advisor to the Circle of Nobles, heavy lidded green eyes. Member of the Thal noble family. Missing his right hand, his stump has a device that allows him to fit different tools like a stiletto, etc. Entitled, arrogant, snobbish [prologue,1]
Halaster built a tower on the slopes of Mount Waterdeep on a rocky shoulder when Waterdeep was only a fishing village. [prologue]
Whether compelled by magic, madness, or some burning secrecy, in time Halaster began to delve into the mountain beneath his tower. As the years passed, he dug ever downward, excavating vast chambers in which to work his magical experiments. Some say that as he went he struck delvings deeper and more ancient yet—the tunnels of dark elves and dwarves. From these he drove the drow and duergar, and claimed the tunnels for his own. Eventually, Halaster abandoned his tower, and the uppermost levels of his labyrinth as well. Deeper and deeper he went, driven by his secret needs, until he passed from all knowledge. Soon, hordes of dire, nameless creatures crawled out of the cold and lightless Underdark to haunt the empty corridors and chambers that the mad wizard had left behind. In later centuries, as Waterdeep grew from lowly village to teeming City of Splendors, it pressed against the rocky shoulders of Mount Waterdeep. Eventually, those who haunted the sewers beneath the city found places where the maze of foul waterways came in contact with Halaster's delvings. Knowledge of this fact soon spread among elements of the city's underworld. Thus the upper halls of Undermountain became a refuge for bands of criminals and cults dedicated to evil and forbidden gods. When the hidden Lords of Waterdeep finally assumed control of the city a century ago, most of these sinister organizations were rooted out and destroyed. After that, Undermountain was left to brood in its own silent darkness. Durnan was the first to descend into Undermountain in recent times and return bearing tales of wonder and the riches to prove them. Seven times Durnan journeyed beneath Mount Waterdeep, and seven times he returned triumphant. At last he retired from the adventuring life and built his inn, the Yawning Portal, right over the entrance into Undermountain he had discovered. Some whispered that it was upon this very spot that the tower of Halaster once stood. All that was nearly twenty years ago. Now Durnan was a gruff innkeeper, not a hero. Yet he kept the Well of Entry ever open. Would-be heroes came from all over Faerun to pay one gold coin and take their chances in the maze below. A few of them found wealth and fame. Most of them found death. Either way, lucre changed hands in the tavern above as bets concerning the adventurers' fates were settled. [prologue]
Many nobles had constructed their own private entrances into the labyrinth, and the rest curried their favour. To the nobility of Waterdeep, venturing into Undermountain to hunt trophies of kobold or goblin was no different than the manner in which country lords rode into their greenwoods in search of hart or stag. Always the nobles went in large, well-armed parties and ventured down only well-known passageways. There was little true danger in these excursions. It was an expensive and stylish game, and that was all. [prologue]
The Magisters Prison, inside it is the Pit, a vast chamber, its floor fifty feet below—the center of the prison, five levels of cells lined the perimeter of the Pit, each bordered by a narrow catwalk. In the far wall was a massive stone slab of a door. At present, the door was raised, held up by a chain that passed through a ring in the ceiling and hooked to a large counterweight. A dozen armed guards stood before the open portal. At the bottom of the Pit a massive iron ball was tied with a rope to a ring in the wall. The ball was, in turn, attached to a long chain dangling from above—the counterweight to the door. [1]
Melthis, wizard in service to Lord Darien Thal [1]
"Three days ago, in search of sport, a hunting party consisting of several nobles and their attendants ventured into the upper levels of Undermountain. By accident, one of the nobles, Lord Corin Silvertor, was separated from the rest of the party. Lord Silvertor has not yet been found. [1]
A heart jewel, a small blue crystal with a faint light flickering inside, magical stones, each linked to the one it is created for. The light within pulses in time to his heart, the nearer the jewel is to its master, the brighter the light. [1]
Lord Darien Thal possesses Lord Corin Silvertor’s heart jewel so knows he is still alive and that he is likely in Undermountain [1]
Lord Rithilor Koll had an untimely death. He was a member of the Circle of Nobles (the seventh seat). In two days time a vote will be held to choose the seventh seat on the Circle of Nobles, Lord Corin Silvertor is the favoured candidate [1]
A back alley in Dock Ward has a hidden passage that leads to the upper halls of Undermountain, accessed by tapping a magic staff on a particular stone. The slimy passage leads west under Mount Waterdeep and slides down towards a wall of spikes, at the spiked wall is a weight sensitive pit trap with a 60 ft drop below it into a circular chamber with a huge red stone statue [2]
The Magisters had outlawed the Cult of Malar years ago in Waterdeep because theirs was a bloody and violent religion. Malar was held to be the master of all beasts, but he did not love them. Rather, he considered them tools to be used as he wished in order to further his evil machinations. And, to Malar, humans were just another kind of beast. Banished from the city above, the priests must have found their way into Undermountain and continued their worship in secret. [10]
House Silvertor is one of the oldest in the city, and there has always been a Silvertor on the Circle of Nobles [12]
Darien slew Mathis. Corin slew Darien. Artek survived. Beckla ended up with Corin [14]

Artek Ar’talen
Artek Ar'talen, known also as Artek the Knife, had once been Waterdeep's most famous and elusive criminal. He had preyed most often upon the nobility, if not those of the common folk. He was locked up by the Magisters over a year ago. A quarter orc (half orc father), the blood of the Garug-Mal runs in his veins, the orc-kindred of the Graypeak Mountains. [prologue]
Tried to give up being a thief but was arrested when he tried to rescue a countess from a robbery. [prologue]
Coal black eyes, deep olive skin, well muscled [1]
Given an enchanted sabre (cursed to keep him fighting until all enemies are dead, but deadly in combat, also enchanted so that it cannot harm Darien Thal) and a small golden box that will create a gate out of Undermountain to Waterdeep. In truth the gate will take them deeper into Undermountain (very deep, was it always set to go that deep, who made the box and how did they set the gate to such a deep level????) [1,3,4,14]
Branded by methis with a tattoo of a stylized sun and moon, with an arrow next to it. In the center of the wheel was a grinning skull. The sun and moon move, if two days pass it will trigger a shock spell that will kill him [1]
Son of Arturg, son of Arthaug, and he had been a high chief among the orcs of the Graypeak Mountains (orcs of the Graypeak Mountains known as the Garug Mal) [2]
From time to time, the orcs had raided human settlements at the foot of the mountains, capturing men and women and bringing them back to the orc warrens to work as slaves, digging and tunnelling. It was upon one of these human women that Arthaug had sired Arturg. Not long after this, Arthaug was deposed in an overthrow engineered by a rival orcish chief. Arthaug was forced to flee the warrens of the Garug-Mal, and he took young Arturg with him. Arthaug plotted for the day he would return to the Graypeak Mountains and become high chief of the Garug-Mal again. However, he died in exile—slain in a duel with highwaymen—without ever again laying eyes on the tunnels of his homeland. After his death, his half-orc son was left to fend for himself. Fully grown at the age of ten, Arturg was brutish in appearance. However, he could pass for a human man, at least in dim light. Remembering the power of the brigands who had killed his father, he made his way in the overworld as a rogue, though he never managed to rise far above petty theft. His companion was a human witch named Siraia, who died giving birth to Artek. Arturg raised Artek alone, teaching his son all that he knew of stealth and stealing. When Artek was seven, Arturg was caught robbing a rich merchant in Elturel. There he was beheaded, and with him died the dream of Arthaug. For Artek considered himself human, and he had no desire to return to the Graypeak mountains to claim rulership of the Garug-Mal [2]

Beckla Shadesar
Wizard [2]
She was tall—a good head taller than Artek was—and sleek, with close-cropped brown hair. Her too-square jaw and crooked nose precluded prettiness, but there was something warmly compelling about her deep brown eyes. Her clothes were better suited to a young prince out hunting than a wizard or a woman—worn leather breeches, a full white shirt, and a gray vest. However, the garb was dirt-smudged and threadbare, as if she had been wearing it for a long time. [2]
Artek once stole a chest full of emeralds from her old employer (Vermik????) [2]
Lives in Undermountain, has a tiny chamber with a magically locked door filled with old scavenged junk [2]
A year ago, I took a job working for a moneylender in the South Ward of Waterdeep. His name was Vermik. He was vile-tongued and foul-tempered, but he paid well. Beckla used magic to make his coins heavier while he shaved the edges off. He laundered a lot of money and got rich. Then Beckla accidentally transformed him into a green slime. Beckla fled into the sewers and ended up in Undermountain [2]
Beckla did not enter Undermountain a year ago, actually was hired by Lord Darien Thal a few hours after Artek entered to find him and help him get to Corin and then get them to use the teleport box. In return Darien promised to make her a great mage. In order to help her escape Darien gave her a horned ring (which unfortunately only takes the wearer deeper) [13]

Other Lore
Dwarven firebrandy. Rare and expensive. Its intoxicating effects vanish instantly when you want it too (cancelled by adrenaline????) [2]
Blood-wine [3]
The Dead Goblin, a type of dance [3]
"Guhr og noth!" an orcish oath (of vengeance????) [3]
"Morth al haugh nothok, Artek Ar'talen! Bettah al nothokari!" –orcish it means “Your heart is not that of an orc. It is that of a goblin.” [4]
There was no greater insult among orc kindred than to have one's heart compared to a goblin's. It was an accusation of cowardice, a brand of worthlessness. [4]
"Malth al nothilk, Artek Ar'talen!" – orcish it means “ Your ears are made of cheese, Artek Ar'talen.'
A dreamserpent, a tiny serpent with ruby eyes and emerald scales. Its bite brings long sleep that cannot be disturbed [7]
A two-masted schooner, small, sleek, and highly manoeuvrable. Such crafts were a common and much-feared sight along the Sword Coast, for they were favoured by pirates for their speed and agility. [7]
A wound tainted with the filth of a zombie will fester. Gradually, the victim's body will start to die. But he won't stop moving. Instead, the victim will become a zombie himself [9]
Vaasan thunderhooves. [10]
Lance Board, a game played on a black and white checked board. Dwarf (known as soldiers) replace pawns, tusked ogres with long arms replace rooks, knights replace knights, robed sorcerers replace bishops King and Queen replace King and Queen [10]
Ur thokkar! – a swear word in orcish [12]
Sword shark [14]
Finball, a game of sport played by mermen [14]

Lord Corin Silvertor
A young man with a pale face, golden hair, and blue eyes [3]
Lord Corin was invited by Lord Darien Thal to a hunt in Undermountain. They entered through Lord Thal’s private entrance, a dozen strong. They were to head to the Emerald Fountain so Corin could drink the waters and become wise beyond his years (in reality he would die) [3]
Lord Darien Thal was pretending to be Corin Silvertor’s friend. If Corin Silvertor dies, Darien Thal would gain the 7th seat on the Council of Nobles [3]
His father used to beat and whip him as a child [12]
His mother died in childbirth and when his father got drunk and lots at gambling he would hurt Corin [12]
Corin’s older brothers died. Corlus died of the red fever, and Cordair got a knife in the heart when he was caught cheating at dice in a tavern by the harbour. Then this winter my father finally died (1324 DR????). [12]

Muiral’s Gauntlet
A chamber with four walls and no door. Each wall covered with a frieze of tortured souls. The chamber has not been disturbed by a living thing in countless centuries. The room is trapped to have the walls crush anyone who triggers the trap by twisting the head of one of the tortured souls. Twisting an arm causes the floor to fall away leaving a 10 ft drop into a corridor [4]
A chamber filled with wraith spiders who are immune to non magical weapons, vulnerable to fire, and have webs with similar immunities and vulnerabilities. [5]
Muragh Brilstagg, in life, Muragh had been a priest of Lathander—and at least as loquacious as he was now. He relentlessly pestered an evil mage to give up his dark ways, and the mage secretly cast a magical curse on Muragh. Shortly thereafter, Muragh's loose tongue landed him in a bar fight in which he received a knife in the heart, and his body was tossed into a dark alley. Though dead, Muragh found that he could still think and talk—apparently thanks to the evil mage's curse. After decomposing for a week or so, Muragh was found by a drunken soldier who cut off Muragh's head and tossed it into Waterdeep Harbor. There the fish stripped the flesh from his skull. Eventually, he was found by the mermen. Annoyed with his constant prattling, they took the skull to Waterdeep's City Watch, where Muragh fell into the hands of the duty-wizard. When thieves broke into the wizard's tower, they stole Muragh, thinking him to be a thing of value. That was a mistake. They soon found that no one would pay good gold for a chatterbox skull, and tossed Muragh into the sewers. In time, the waters flowing beneath the city carried Muragh into Undermountain, and the skull had rattled around Halaster's labyrinth ever since. Occasionally, wandering creatures picked him up out of curiosity and carried him for a time, only to drop him before long in some new place. Eventually, he came into the possession of someone named Muiral (he got stuck into a gelatinous cube that slithered its way into Muiral’s Gauntlet. Though Muragh was extremely vague on this point, it seemed that Muiral grew weary of his incessant talking and locked him in this chamber. Muragh had been in Undermountain for at least a dozen years [5]
Nearly a thousand years ago, the wizard forsook his tower on the slopes of Mount Waterdeep and descended into the vast labyrinth he had created below. When he did not return from Undermountain, the Seven— powerful mages in their own right—boldly ventured into the dark depths in search of him. There they found magical tricks and deadly obstacles, and the deeper they went, the more difficult grew the riddles, the more perilous became the traps. The Seven soon realized that this was a test set for them by their master. Believing that whoever reached Halaster first would become his most favored—and thus heir to his most powerful magic—the Seven strove against each other. Each tried to go deeper than the rest and be the first to find their mysterious master. Whether or not the apprentices ever succeeded in finding Halaster, no one knew. Only one of the Seven ever returned from Undermountain: Jhesiyra Kestellharp, who became the Magister of Myth Drannor. The other six apprentices remained in Undermountain, and whether they still searched, granted unnaturally long life by their magic, the histories did not tell. [5]
Muiral loves spiders. He's part spider himself. I don't know how he did it, but he fused himself onto the body of a giant spider. He created the wraith spiders in Undermountain. Muiral's quite mad, of course. Searching for his master and failing addled his brain. What little sanity he still possessed after that was destroyed when he grafted himself onto that giant spider's body. His only pleasure comes from toying with the victims he gates down from the surface. He sends them into his Gauntlet and watches to see how far they can get through the maze of dangers he's created. [5]
Muiral’s Gauntlet has steps that lead to a dwarven road was part of Underhall, a city built by the Melairkyn. The Melairkyn disappeared centuries before Halaster stumbled onto their delvings in the course of his excavations. Most likely they were slain by the duergar—dark dwarves who skulked in these halls until Halaster showed up. He decided he wanted Underhall for himself. Not being keen on sharing, Halaster eradicated the duergar like so many rats. After that, Underhall became part of Undermountain proper [5]

Deeper Levels
Talastria and Orannon were two of Halaster’s apprentices, they made it to Underhall on the 56th day since they entered Undermountain. They had to descend 500 steps, a fiend was summoned by Halaster’s magic on every step. At the end of the stairs Talastria and Orannon found their own tombs and became undead lichlings (incomplete liches). Their tombs were guarded by gargoyles that protected Talastria and Orannon, but many were destroyed when Artek and co found them. Their bodies aged over time and became brittle and when they tried to move (when Artek and co disturbed them), they collapsed to dust and were no more. [5,6]
Terrathiguss the gargoyle. Made by Talastria and Orannon, as well all the other gargoyles. Terrathiguss is different though. The gargoyles guarded Talastria and Orannon for a thousand years, destroying intruders. But Terrathiguss felt sympathy for the intruders and stopped attacking. Over time the gargoyles cracked and disintegrated over the centuries until only Terrathiguss was left. Called Guss by Beckla, he leaves with Artek, Beckla, and Corin [6]
A chamber with a shimmering blue pool contains a gate to Arcturia’s abode. Many gates lead to Arcturia’s lair. Arcturia uses illusion to appear beautiful. Her skin was as green and radiant as emeralds, and long hair tumbled about her shoulders in waves of polished jet. She wore a pale, diaphanous shift that seemed to accentuate the lushness of her smooth body rather than conceal it. Blue wings—as fine as those of a dragonfly—fluttered gently behind her. Eyes as bright as the sun shone from her delicate, nymphlike face. In reality her skin was still emerald, but now it was composed of overlying scales, like those of the serpent. Wicked spurs of bone protruded from her elbows, her shoulders, and her knees. Instead of hair, a writhing mass of slimy black tentacles sprang from her head. Her wings were not a fairy's, but rather a foul insect's. Arcturia likes experimenting on people, grafting body parts and modifying them magically, she has done the same to herself. [6,7]
One of Halaster’s apprentices lairs in a room beyond a gigantic room that serves as a real life magical Lance Board (those wishing to gain entry to the room must play Lance Board with themselves as pieces, arrayed against an entire ghostly side of pieces. The apprentice died long ago deciphering a riddle left by Halaster [12]

Wyllowwood
Solthar, he had been a merchant of some sort. While Solthar was traveling, a sudden storm had come upon his caravan. Seeking shelter, he and the rest of the party had entered a cave—only to find themselves in the Wyllowwood in Undermountain [9]
The entire ceiling of the Wyllowwood is a one way gate from a desert (which is in midsummer when Waterdeep is in spring) [9]
Located next to a lake the temple of Malar was series of low buildings constructed of the same rose colored stone as the walls. The buildings were arranged symmetrically around a circular structure that dominated the center of the compound—the high crimson dome they had glimpsed earlier, supported by fluted stone columns. Evidently it was the main temple. [10]
M'tureth, M'ordil, M'kar, priests of Malar in Wyllowwood. Clad in leather armour trimmed with bronze and had crimson cloaks about their shoulders. Feral beast masks of beaten bronze covered their faces. Each wore a mace at the hip, tipped with a heavy bronze claw, and white animal skulls dangled from their belts [10]
In a cult of Malar, the penalty for desecrating a temple is death [10]
In the centre of the temple was a hideous statue wrought of black metal. The priests apparently created more than just masks and maces in their foul smithy. The statue had been crudely forged in the shape of a grotesque, gigantic wolf. Bloody light flickered in its slanted eyes, and rancid smoke poured from its gaping maw, as if some terrible fire burned in the pit of its belly. [10]
A garbage pit in the temple of Malar contains steep tunnels (chutes) that lead to Trobriand’s Graveyard) [10]


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Gary Dallison
Great Reader

United Kingdom
6346 Posts

Posted - 27 Jul 2022 :  18:25:44  Show Profile Send Gary Dallison a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Not a bad novel, not the best by a long shot.

Got some Undermountain locations i've never read about before, and a few i did know about.

A bit of history from Waterdeep 40-50 years ago.

Nothing spectacular or of special interest to point out though.


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George Krashos
Master of Realmslore

Australia
6623 Posts

Posted - 28 Jul 2022 :  02:35:30  Show Profile Send George Krashos a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Thanks for this one. I had missed a bit of the orcish and expanded my lexicon.

-- George Krashos

"Because only we, contrary to the barbarians, never count the enemy in battle." -- Aeschylus
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Gary Dallison
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United Kingdom
6346 Posts

Posted - 28 Jul 2022 :  05:37:30  Show Profile Send Gary Dallison a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I figured you would be interested in the language bits if anything.

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Athreeren
Learned Scribe

128 Posts

Posted - 28 Jul 2022 :  12:19:25  Show Profile Send Athreeren a Private Message  Reply with Quote
The backstory of Muragh in Undermountain and the place itself are expanded in the prequel The Grotto of Dreams, in Realms of the Arcane.
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Gary Dallison
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United Kingdom
6346 Posts

Posted - 29 Aug 2022 :  13:51:25  Show Profile Send Gary Dallison a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Murder in Cormyr (1366 – 1367 DR)
By Chet Williamson

Ghars
Ghars is a market town that serves a farming community near the edge of the Vast Swamp [1]
Drought, the roving agents of the Zhentarim and the Iron Throne, the ghost, or the upcoming visit of the Grand Council of Cormyr's Merchants' Guild [1]
The farms around Ghars had had no rain for weeks. Most of the wells had dried up, the crops were scanty. What water remained was diverted into a public cistern, a huge wooden tank zealously guarded by Khlerat [1]
Khlerat, the nearsighted retiree who served as Ghars's unofficial master of public works [1]
Contingent of Purple Dragons stationed in Ghars had apprehended two Zhentarim agents in as many months. The Dragons also captured one agent of the Iron Throne secret society [1]
Plagued by Fastred’s ghost [1]
Benelaius, War Wizard who retired to Ghars when Jasper was younger. Lives on the outskirts of Ghars in a cottage (a two story farm house) he built on the edge of the Vast Swamp. He lives there with nearly a hundred cats that guard his house (he can communicate with them by thought) and are able to discern the true intent (alignment) of intruders (are they special cats????). Benelaius’ cottage is protected by spells [2,3]
Cedric Buckenwig, friend of Jasper [2]
Sheaf of Wheat, inn. Run by Lukas Spoondrift. Serves butter tomato soup. Lukas is a hulk of a man who eats up much of his own profits. Married. Blames Rolf for a collapsed roof 6 months back [2,4,23]
Buttery [2]
Benelaius left the War Wizards to better appreciate the natural world and to study it until his knowledge of it equalled his knowledge of magic. Most thought him mad, but Vangerdahast approved. His job in the War Wizards was to make spells more efficacious, and to provide healing to his wounded fellows (he never saw combat) [4]
Benelaius had a great many friends, including War Wizards and Vangerdahast himself [4]
The Swamp Rat, a poor quality tavern outside Ghars recently opened, catering to the thirsty farmers who didn’t want to go all the way into Ghars for an ale, serves cheap ale. Business declined with the appearance of Fastred’s ghost. Serves only ale, beer, cider and table wine (of a quality fit for cleaning paint off tables). Run by Hesketh Pratt [5]
Mayor Tobald, mayor of Ghars. Slightly overweight, bulbous nose. Used to teach at the University of Suzail (before he retired), Grodoveth was a former student. Tobald is currently writing a book on the history of Cormyr. Unmarried, lonely suffers from gout (which Benelaius treats with pills he makes) [5,14]
Rambeltook family (farmers outside Ghars????), visited by Mayor Tobald [5]
Aunsible Durn’s smithy and stables. Durn makes horseshoes, ploughshares, etc and also makes halberds, pikes and armour for the local squires. Smithy has no name, it’s the only smithy in town. Durn is a highly skilled smith. Lives alone above the smithy. No other smith between Ghars and Hultail (the Hultail smith is no artist with an anvil) [5,13]
Dovo, Durn’s assistant smith a mighty but moronic assistant. Arrogant, womaniser, cuckolded more than a few husbands in Ghars. Married with 3 children. Looks like he was pretending to be Fastred’s ghost and was slain and dumped on the edge of the swamp road. [5,6,10,12]
The Bold Bard, tavern in the heart of Ghars surrounded by other buildings. Sells clarry and may other drinks. Run by Shortshanks, dwarven owner and proprietor who inherited from a jolly gnome who hoped it would make Shortshanks smile (it didn’t). Doesn’t like the Swamp Rat because it stole much of his business [5]
Fendrake and Magda, aunt and uncle of the tailor [5]
Barthelm Meadowbrock, richest merchant in Ghars, a mountainous man with a wavy top of red orange hair flecked with white, very demanding man. Owns the local grist mill (now ox driven in the drought) and a fleet of fast wagons to take the produce he buys from local farmers to Suzail and Marsember before it spoiled. District representative of the Grand Council of Cormyr’s Merchants’ Guild. His daughter, Mayella Meadowbrock is one of the fairest flowers in Cormyr, golden hair, blue eyes, red lips [5]
Silver Scythe, inn with a large and impressive meeting room (paid for by Barthelm Meadowbrook for the Merchants’ Guild visit). Run by Garnet Pennorth [5]
Sarp Redbeard is the local lord of Ghars. [5]
The king’s envoy for this region is Grodoveth, who keeps Azoun and Sarp Redbeard appraised of everything happening between Thunderstone and Wheloon. Grodoveth is related to Azoun by marriage, Grodoveth’s wife is Azoun’s cousin Beatrice. Quite tall, short tempered, womaniser, tactless. Rumour has it that Grodoveth was booted out of Suzail by Azoun himself for one of his casual indiscretions. Grodoveth plays chess well. Stays with Mayor Tobold when he is in Ghars. Grodoveth is a trained warrior. Murdered and dumped in the Vast Swamp [5,6,8,14,18,19]
Rolf, son of the roofer, known as Rolf the Roofer, touchy, likes Mayella. Gets in fights every week, nearly beat a man to death in Thunderstone (his father worries about his fate) [6,13]
Sunfirth, barmaid at the Bold Bard [6]
Kendra, adventuress, pretty woman, recently arrived, said to be searching the Vast Swamp for treasure [7]
Tim Butterworth [7]
Farmers live along the swamp road southwest of (the Vast Swamp presumably????)
Captain Flim, head of Purple Dragon garrison in Ghars [10]
Doctor Braum, talkative [10]
At least a hundred people in Ghars are tall (seems unusual for a small settlement????) [12]
Library, a single room added onto the town hall. Run by Phelos Marmwitz, whose personal collection of history books made up half the library’s holdings. Only residents of Ghars may borrow books [13]
Town hall [13]
Argys Krai, friend of Dovo [13]
20th Kythorn, Ghars holds a flower festival [14]
Diccon Picard, Loony Liz, Farmer Bortas and his wife, Bryn Goldtooth the halfling. All residents of Ghars, Rob and Will (friends of Farmer Bortas, maybe farmhands????) [14,15]
Farmer Snaggard, lives far down the west swamp road. Been a patron of the Swamp Rat since it opened. Grows a small plot of West Fennet Number Three pipeweed [17]
Darvik, gnome, married [18,19]
Mrs. Barnabas Hinkel, looked into the Fastred legend 8 years ago in the library. Died 7 years ago [23]
Diccon Picard owns a jewellery shop on Wattle Lane. Plays the Selaunt fiddle. Has a great bush of white hair. [23]
Elizabeth Clawthorn, known as Loony Liz, lives a mile south of Ghars in a ramshackle cottage. Her husband and son (Jamie) all dead. Lonely old crone with wandering wits [23,24]
Butcher Skedmoor, does not sell spoiled meat [23]
Bryn Goldtooth, runs a buy and sell shop (pawnshop). Not a member of the Merchants’ Guild [24]
Menchuk, old man, dry goods seller [28]
Khlerat, old man, retired dabbler in public works [28]

Cormyr
Cormyrean Merchants' Guild. The Grand Council of the Cormyrean Merchants' Guild comprising the wealthiest and most powerful merchants in the realm, always met in one of Cormyr's major cities-Suzail or Arabel or Marsember. Occasionally they would deign to gather in a smaller resort town like Gladehap. They are visiting Ghars because of the perseverance of Barthelm Meadowbrook [1,5]
Great historian Carcroft the Long, who, in his Anthropologic and Folkloric History of the Settled Lands (Volume III), states: find in those days in the land between Sembia and Cormyr, there dwelt within the Vast Swamp a reaver and a chieftain high Fastred. He lived in the swamp with his people, heedless of the monsters and beasties that also resided therein, such, as the men lyfa unto lizards, the goblins and trolls and grells. He and his band of cutthroats and murderers would sweep down upon the caravans that travelled the Way of the Manticore, looting them of gems, gold, and silver. With his great battle axe would he cleave in twain those who refused to yield to him and his reavers. Though he was pursued, even by small armies, his knowledge of the Vast Swamp was so great that he lost his pursuers always, finding solid land where others saw only muck, into which the hooves of their steeds would sink and they would quickly drown. Fastred lived as a king within the Vast Swamp for many years, protected by the treacherous sands and muck that surrounded him, until Death came upon him, from whose fell clutch was no escape. Half his treasures did he, bequeath to his warriors to share amongst them, while the other half, wealth beyond measure, was sealed with him in his tomb, an isle of rock in the swamp. It is told by those in the district how his glowing ghost, still clad in armor and bearing his great axe, guards his hoarde, threatening any who may come nigh by mischance or by purpose. Of all the terrors of the Vast Swamp, those who dwell in the Settled Lands do agree that Fastred's Ghost is the most to be feared. [2]
Burglary is a crime punishable by imprisonment [3]
Vangerdahast, Chairman Emeritus of the College of War Wizards, and Royal Mage to King Azoun [4]
Not all War Wizards are involved in battle, some are researchers or medics [4]
Vangerdahast often paid surprise visits to retired wizards, War Wizards in particular, just to let them know that he still had his eye on them should they intend to use their wizardry for evil ends. [4]
Lindavar, Benelaius’ hand-picked replacement on the College of War Wizards, lived in Suzail, liked to drink clarry. Corresponded frequently with Benelaius via letters. Lately he has been having some professional problems and so asked Benelaius for advice. Unassuming man of medium height [5,9]
King Azoun has a cousin, Beatrice. Married to Grodoveth
The Vast Swamp, also known as the Great Swamp. A rocky island in the middle of the Vast Swamp (near a peat deposit), has a trapdoor and steps leading into an underground cellar (where Grodoveth’s body was found). Local lore suggests the swamp water is poisonous and may turn anyone drinking it into a reptilian monster in days (or months depending upon the teller????) [13,19,21]
Thornslinger trees in the Vast Swamp – don’t pass to closely or talk near them – has white spidery branches with foot long thorns that putrefy any flesh they touch [20,21]
Smiths guild [15]
Fastred’s Tomb, an underground cellar on a rocky islet in the Vast Swamp with a hidden path leading from the isle to Cormyr and another leading to Sembia. A giant skeleton sits on a stone dais in a massive chair of rotted wood and rusted iron. Runes carved onto the wall above the tomb read “Bought with blood. Paid for with blood.” With the name “Fastred” underneath. [20,35]
Common hydra in the Vast Swamp (cryohydra are unknown in Cormyr) [26]
Grodoveth and Mayor Tobold were spies for the Iron Throne (both dismissed from Suzail which made them bitter and resentful), Grodoveth gathered details on trade, economy, and farming from Thunderstone to the Way of the Manticore, in all the lands between the Wyvernwater and the Vast Swamp. Tobold and Grodoveth used Dovo to send that information across the Vast Swamp using lantern code. Dovo pretended to be Fastred’s Ghost in case anyone saw what he was doing. Grodoveth slew Dovo for almost revealing the plot to Kendra. Grodoveth then tracked down Fastred’s Tomb and unfortunately triggered a trap which caused Fastred’s Axe (lodged in a spring trap in the wall) to sever his own head. Mayor Tobold planned to poison the entire Grand Council of the Cormyrean Merchants’ Guild using blackweed in the water supply of Ghars. Grodoveth’s crime was covered up by Benelaius so that the king’s cousin by marriage would not be seen as a traitor. [30,31,36]
Kendra left for Anauroch, searching for a lost city filled with jewels [33]
Well over a hundred years ago in Waterdeep, a relative of the queen was suspected of killing several wenches in a thoroughly unpleasant manner. His suspicion came out only in recent years. Fortunately, before he came into line for succession to the throne, he died in battle, fleeing. [34]

Jasper
Old Grandpaw Hurthkin was a halfling, you see, one of those little people whose primary joy in life is taking advantage of humans. He took advantage of the human Guirath Moondock by running away with and marrying his daughter, a woman so small she seemed near halfling herself. The result of that union was my mother, a petite woman herself but with qualities more human than halfling. My father was human, so I am only one quarter halfling. [2]
Indentured servant of Benelaius for a period of 1 year (because he burgled his house) where he would also receive tutoring in lieu of a salary [2,3]
Dad died when he was 7, crushed by a wagon [2]
Mum died when he came of age (20 years old????)
Worked at the Sheaf of Wheat as a slop boy and slept in the buttery. Earned 2 silver falcons a month [2,3]

Other Lore
Fiction and Non-Fiction classic tomes of Faerun - Raster's Archetymbal, the Proceedings of Magus Firewand, Kirkabey's Mediations and Meditations, Trelaphin's Thought and Its Processes, and Chelm Vandor's Seasons in the Heartlands. [4]
The Adventures of Camber Fosrick, written by Lodevin Parkar. In it were half a dozen thrilling tales of the great "consulting cogitator," Camber Fosrick, who could solve any mystery, bringing the darkest corners of crime to blazing light through his brilliant deductive reasoning. A recent series of literature novels [4,13]
Golden Sands Orange, sweetest and least bitter brew (ale????) in Ghars. Sold in the Bold Bard [5]
Westgate Ruby, wine, goes well with beef and oysters [5]
North Brew, ale, sold in the Bold Bard [6]
Old One Eye, ale, sold in the Bold Bard [7]
Glimmergrass can be used to create a luminous unguent [10]
The Internal Structure of the Brachiopod by Professor Linnaeus Gozzling of the University of Suzail [13]
A town history of Juniril, published 40 years ago [13]
Coffee beans from Durpar [15]
The Adventure of the Battledale Billhook, a Camber Fosrick novel [15]
Shadowdark ale, served in the Swamp Rat [15]
West Fennet Number Three, a pipeweed [17]
The great physician-priest Odum (historical figure????) [19]
Blackweed, an extremely potent poison but slow acting which kills within 24 hours when it is ingested. Antidotes exist and work if administered in time. Has a distinctive odour in high concentrations [22,31,36]
Selgaunt fiddle (musical instrument) [23]
“Warrior's Woe”, "Red-haired Lad" tunes played on the fiddle [23]
Suzale and Elminster’s Choice. Ales served in the Sheaf of Wheat inn [29]
Elduth Yarmmaster, the Overmaster of Sembia, has been a voice of reason in the past, but he grows old and may not live out his term [30]



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Gary Dallison
Great Reader

United Kingdom
6346 Posts

Posted - 29 Aug 2022 :  13:55:59  Show Profile Send Gary Dallison a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Really enjoyed this novel. I half expected Benelaius to be the bad guy in the end.

Lots of little bits of lore which were nice touches, plenty of book titles and sage names, lots of new ales i didnt know about.

The legend of Fastred was nice, as well as him being a giant of a man, and seemingly 100 people or more in Ghars are tall which is odd for such a small settlement.

Best lore reveal though was over 100 years ago when a relative of the queen (unsure if it is the queen then or the queen now) murdered a bunch of people in Waterdeep but was slain in battle (fleeing) before he could become in line for succession (not sure if that means succession for the throne or just succession for the head of the noble house).

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Gary Dallison
Great Reader

United Kingdom
6346 Posts

Posted - 02 Sep 2022 :  20:36:16  Show Profile Send Gary Dallison a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Tangled Webs (1361 DR)
By Elaine Cunningham

Skullport
Skullport Dungeons. Beneath Skullport were deeper realms, in one noisome labyrinth and crypts was a dungeon, once the burial place of a long-vanished tribe of dwarves, over the centuries these catacombs had become home to other, more dangerous creatures. [1]
A half lich half ghoul haunts the Skullport Dungeons. Some wizard was trying to undergo a lich transformation when he was slain by ghouls. He rose again as a ghoul, with intelligence and spellcasting ability. Turned by Liriel [1]
Wykeen, a kind of sea bat indigenous to Skullport [1]
The Keepers were hired mages who raised ships though magical locks leading from the underground port to the Sea Caves--an impassable and rock-strewn inlet south ofWaterdeep-and from there to the open seas. These magical portals had been established centuries earlier by Halaster, a mighty wizard who'd left his insane stamp on nearly every corridor of the Undermountain, and to this day the gates were the only way to move ships to and from Skullport. Without the permission of the Keepers--or the aid of a powerful wizard-the Elfmaid would never sail beyond this subterranean bay [1]

Other Lore
Rashemaar amber [1]
Moonshae linen [1]
Distilled black dragon venom, a single drop can eat through metal manacles in seconds (and leather, flesh, and bone) [1]
The ancient Northmen who'd settled the island of Ruathym had also traveled far east to Fyodor's Rashemen [1]
Most unusual gate spell, allowing a person or entity to journey piggyback through an established gate along with the rightful traveller. Liriel only hoped that a ship and its entire crew could be considered an entity. The risk of miscasting means that person and entity become conjoined in one. [1]
Gromph warned of miscasting gate spells warned her with stories of wizards who had been permanently conjoined by the unusual gate spell, only to go mad in the attempt to share one body between two minds [1]
Umberlee, The Lady of the Waves (to Northmen) [3]
Fine raspberry mead, a sweet and fiery honey wine scented with summer fruit. From the Moonshae Isles [4]
Water clocks and multicolored lamps for which Neverwinter's artisans were famed. [4]
Court etiquette holds that one changes out of travel stained clothes before seeking audience with nobility [9]
Aboleth slime smelled disgustingly like rancid lard, it was useful in making potions of water-breathing [10]
A many-tentacled purple squid, the emblem of the Kraken Society [10]
Banshees were known to hoard treasure [12]
Elves do not use the Weave; they are a part of the Weave [17]
The gods look with pity upon two sorts of people, those who don't get what they want, and those who do – A Waterdeep proverb [18]
It is forbidden for warriors of Rashemen to take their own life [18]
Spellsickness, the draining malady that comes from working too much magic [19]
In ancient times in Rashemen, there were warriors who gave pledged service as berserker knights, becoming personal champion to a powerful wychlaran. When this magic was granted, it was taken as a sign that the Witch was destined for a great task. [19]
Moondark – an illuskan way of saying dusk???? [20]
Liriel gave Fyodor control over his own berserker rages. She defeated the banshee (presumably destroyed it????). She channelled Lolth’s power into herself and opened the portal on Inthar to Ascarle. A small army of 120 sea elves and triton travelled to Ascarle to free the slaves. Venturing to Ascarle Liriel banished Shakti Hunzrin to the Abyss. Liriel then magically immobilised Vestress to stay in Ascarle and watch her army be defeated until Liriel and Lolth have need of her [23]
Water wraiths--they were flighty, capricious creatures, often acting as messengers for the gods. Shaped like a woman, the beautiful thing encased a bubbling fountain within her glossy; transparent skin. [24]

Sea of Swords
Typical Northmen distrust of the fey folk (including elves and drow). This was as true of the tundra barbarians as it was of the seafaring folk of Luskan, Ruathym, and the northern Moonshaes [1,2]
The northern seas were chill and inhospitable. Huge chunks of floating ice made navigation treacherous. Pods of whales swam northward, returning to the cold waters of their summer home and providing an additional hazard to ships. Other, more dangerous creatures were also on the move. The Northlands' brutal winters forced them to find shelter in the depths of the sea. Now, with the coming of spring, these creatures stirred from their torpor and sought the surface, and food. Some of these monsters had never been seen by a man who lived to tell of them, but they left behind evidence of their ability to crush ships and devour entire crews. [2]
The coastal waters north of Luskan, known as the Sea of Moving Ice. In spring when sea lions gave birth on the rocky islands and large ice floes. [2]
The Cutter' a sturdy merchant cog that travelled north every year during spring to harvest sea lion pups for their silky white pelts which brought a fine price from the decadent nobles of Waterdeep. Captained by Captain Farlow, a stout, black-bearded former mercenary. Rumour had it that in battle Farlow slaughtered his enemies as coldly and efficiently as he dispatched seal pups. Narth and Darlson are sailors on the Cutter. Captain and most crew slain by Hrolf and his pirates, the survivors (including Caladorn Cassalanter) were cast adrift in a small boat [2,4]
No Northman would leave a good ship adrift-they hanker after ships like most men crave cold ale and warm women [2]
It was not unusual for far-traveling ships to pick up some deadly illness along with their intended cargo, but that was a hazard peculiar to summer. [2]
A caravel, one of the fast and sturdy vessels for which Waterdeep's shipyards were justly famed [2]
Two of these ships (caravels) had recently reappeared in southern ports, flying Ruathen colours. [2]
There had been reports of recent attacks on sea-elf communities. [2]
The Northmen gloried in feats of arms-many of them venerated Tempus, god of battle-and they had been deprived of warfare for an uncomfortably long time. Several years earlier, Waterdeep and her allied cities had enforced a peace between the warring kindred of Ruathym and Luskan. Since then, piracy had risen sharply, and raids on small coastal villages had become commonplace. Life was easier, Caladorn thought grimly, when the Northmen fought among themselves and left others alone. [2]
Xzorsh and Sittl, ranger sea elves, knows Hrolf, work together to protect sea dwelling folk in the Sea of Swords. Xzorsh has dealings with the merfolk around Waterdeep and knows of Caladorn Cassalanter [3,4]
The deep dwellers are rising, forcing lesser predators into bold and desperate attacks. Did you not see the sharks [3]
Vurge, giant gulper eels, big enough to swallow a man whole and mean enough to bash small ships to driftwood with their spiked tails. No vurgen has been seen near the Sea of Swords in 300 years, yet since the last new moon there have been 3 seen. They only appear when driven out of the deep seas by something bigger [3]
Sea elves believe that drowsomething to do with their loss of magic - sea elves don't have any, to speak of [3]
A kraken attacks the Elfmaid [3]
With winter's passing, the seas are opening, and the merchant ships will soon sail [4]
Drustan, sailor from the Moonshae Isles (ffolk or northmen????) [4]
Tetris, a small island of rolling green hills and rocky, windswept coasts, the village--a cluster of stone-and-thatch huts that lined the river on its meandering way to the sea. The Ffolk here followed ways long abandoned on most of the islands, ancient rites and festivals attuned to the turning of the seasons. Their druid, a doddering old graybeard dressed in robes of an era long past, clung to the worship of ancient spirits of land and sea. Tonight the village would offer the yearly tribute, beautifully worked armbands, torques, and broaches of pure yellow gold, to the river spirit and celebrate the coming of spring. The Place Spirit in Tetris appears to have gone or died but the tradition remains. [4]
gold for Neverwinter crafts, but there was another, more practical reason for the diversion as well. Neverwinter was named for its unusually warm climate and a harbour that remained free of ice year round. This was in part due to the River, a current of warm water and air that swept eastward from Evermeet, over the island of Gundarlun, and narrowing until it touched Neverwinter's shores. So early in the spring, sailing the River was far safer than taking their chances against the ice floes that dotted the open sea. [4]
Few humans ever saw one of the Sea People, and those who were granted a sighting were usually overcome with wonder. [5]
The Sea People, sea elven name for themselves [5]
The merfolk of Waterdeep are capricious [5]
Dolphins are friends of the sea elves. [5]
In recent months there had been reports of attacks on sea elf communities. Luskan had little to do with these attacks but Rethnor used the opportunity to blame the attacks on Ruathym (kidnapping sea elves (they are from a distant city, where????), delivering them to Ventress in the Purple Rocks, picking up the bodies and leaving them on a Ruathen vessel for a Waterdeep merchant ship to find) to justify a Luskan invasion [6]
Those that destroy giant squids (or kraken) earn the special enmity of the Kraken Society [6]
Sea elves from Xzorsh’s clan are buried with honour in the coral catacombs hidden deep in the sea. Sittl claimed his lover and child were among the sea elves kidnapped by Rethnor and slain by Vestress (in truth the child belonged to another). This means Xzorsh’s clan come from a distant city (distant from the Moonshae Isles and Ruathym????) [6,23]
A Council of Law (referred to as a “Thing” in common). By Northman law any ship's officer had the right to request that such council be convened, but only to deal with matters of grave import. (presumably on land only rulers or nobles can call a Council of Law????) [6]
By Northmen laws, attacking a ship’s officer (a hit or near miss) is mutiny, and is punishable by being thrown overboard (death usually results) [6]
Most Northmen consider chess to be an effete pastime [6]
Merrow-aquatic cousins of ogres, but faster and more fierce than their land-dwelling kin. Small ivory horns protruding from their foreheads is the mark of the most powerful males. Keen black tusks curved up from their underslung jaws. They are armed not only with their black talons-the traditional weapon of the merrow-but also with human-made spears and even the silvery trident of a triton.
Triton-a creature from the elemental plane of water
Ranger outpost where Azorsh and Sittl operate out of [9]
Xzorsh and Sittl are part of the Relay (communication network of sea dwellers between Faerun and Evermeet). The Relay is rarely ever compromised [14,15]
A hidden sea elven city lies in vast water filled caverns beneath a series of islets of a tiny archipelago between Gundarlun and Ruathym (maybe west of it????). The coral catacombs where the sea elves bury their dead were in the open seas nearby [14]
Little is known of tritons (even among sea elves), they do the sea elves no harm, and occasionally come to the aid of good folk. Sea elves believe they come from the Elemental Plane of Water [15]
Sittl is a malenti, infiltrating the sea elven settlement. He willingly aids Vestress to overthrow Ruathym [15,21]
Sahuagin hate the light and are pained by it like the drow. They fear spellcasters [15]
Northmen are not religious people. They call upon some of the gods-Tempus before battle, Umberlee during a storm, and Auril when the cold weather proves a threat-but you won't find us bowing the knee and moaning out prayers. Their dealings with the gods are more honest. They name a bargain. If the god doesn't hold up his end of the deal, they call it off and go their own way [18]

Liriel
Days earlier she led a raid on a drow stronghold (presumably with help from the Promenade or adventurers????) and acquired a share of the loot, friends were lost in the raid and Fyodor was gravely wounded. She used the loot to buy the Elfmaid (Hrolf’s ship) and his crew [1]

Hrolf the Unruly
A giant of a man, deep-chested and broad of shoulder, with a face bronzed by the sun and wind, and bright blue eyes, braided hair, vast moustache, and long beard were all of the same sun-bleached hue, a colour so pale that it almost hid the streaks of grey [1]
One of the finest captains of the Sword Coast, and the only one genial enough to take a drow passenger [1]
Always causes trouble and mayhem when on shore [1]
About 20 years ago Hrolf and the Elfmaid came across a pair of Calishite vessels in the shallows herding young sea elves into nets to capture and sell them down south. Hrolf attacked the ships and scuttled them both. Xzorsh was among the sea elves rescued, along with a sea elf woman that Hrolf made his lover (her fate is unknown to the sailors). Xzorsh and his clan are forever indebted to Hrolf and the Elfmaid [3,4]
Hrolf’s woman, Moira will not leave the island of Tetris, nor Hrolf the sea [4]
Hrolf smuggles smokepowder and stores a large supply in his warehouses on Ruathym [13]
Hrolf and his cousin Ulf’s fathers were twin-born sons [16]
Died on Ruathym [16]

Elfmaid
The Elfmaid was an odd combination of old and new: her long, graceful form was reminiscent of the ancient dragonships, and she was clinker-built of strong, light wood. Yet the hull was deep enough to provide an area belowdecks for storage of goods and some cramped sleeping quarters. Castles small, raised platforms-had been added both fore and aft, and both were hung about with the brightly painted shields of the warrior-bred crew. With its enormous square sail and row of oars, the ship promised to be both fast and manoeuvrable in any number of situations. Its most remarkable feature, however, was the figurehead that rose proudly over the lancelike bowsprit: a carved, ten-foot image of an elf maid. More lavishly endowed and garishly painted than any elf who'd ever drawn breath [1]
Hrolf the Unruly is the captain [1]
Ibn the first mate, ruddy, red bearded man nearly six feet tall and heavily muscled, fair-skinned and blue-eyed [1]
Bjorn, the youngest member of Hrolf's crew. The lad had a mere tuft of yellow beard and gangly limbs too thin for strength and too long for grace. But Bjorn could read the winds and sense the coming weather with an almost magical precision. This gift earned him a solid place aboard any ship. Nor was it his only gift. When not about his work, the lad whittled wood into clever little statues and painted them in the bright colours loved by the Northmen [3]
Twenty odd crew members [3]
Harreldson, member of the crew, good sailor [3]
Olvir, crew member, main storyteller. From his boyhood Olvir had longed to be a skald, but he could not reconcile himself with the lower status that his warrior culture assigned to their bards. So he went to sea, seeking a fortune to appease his ambitions while collecting the stories that fed his spirit. Has a cottage, wife, and child on Ruathym [3,4,15]
The elfmaid has sea elf runes on its underside that identify it as a friend and tell sea elves to protect it [3]
The Elfmaid docks at Tetris 5-6 times a year [4]
Hrolf and his crew steal the yearly tribute of Tetris (thrown into the sea) when the villager sleep. They have been doing this for 10 years [4]
Have a device that produces clicks and whistles when placed in water and cranked. This sound travels far, and many creatures will repeat it until Xzorsh and Ssitl hear it [4]

Caladorn Cassalanter
Broad-shouldered and tall, Caladorn's family was among the richest of Waterdeep's nobility, but the young man had set aside name, rank, and privilege to earn his own way. [2]
Caladorn was one of the secret Lords of Waterdeep. Troubling rumours, rumbles of some pending conflict, had been filtering south for some time. Caladorn sailed north to find answers. [2]
Caladorn often held council with the mermen who tended the city’s harbour. [5]

Luskan
The council chamber. It was a simple room, constructed according to the Northmen taste with an intricate webbing of exposed wooden beams and furnished with a massive pine table and five unpadded chairs. The only concessions to comfort were the fire blazing in the fieldstone hearth that lined one full wall and the presence of a serving girl who would bring ale or mead upon command. [2]
Luskan was a strong and prosperous port, controlling much of the valuable trade of the northern lands. Silver from the mines of Mirabar, timber taken from the edges of the vast Lurkwood forest, scrimshaw from Ten Towns, dwarf-crafted weapons-all passed through the customs of Luskan and went out upon her ships. [2]
There were five High Captains, men whose task it was to rule the city and oversee its trade and its ambitions. The five of them took turns as leader of the council, conceding the role to another with the coming of the new moon and low tides. It was ancient custom, and it served well to keep five ambitious men from battling each other for ascendancy. Rethnor (best swordsman of the High Captains), Taerl (first High Captain), Suljack (distant cousin of Rethnor), Baram (oldest High Captain), Kurth (dour, suspicious, foul tempered) [2]
Waterdeep forced an end to Luskan’s last war with Ruathym? Although they were close to conquest, Luskan lost all. [2]
Rethnor has have placed spies in the seas surrounding Ruathym and on the island itself. [2]
The Calling Conch, a dockside tavern in Luskan, served strong ale and hearty chowder at bargain prices. [6]
Rethnor wears a ring with a large onyx stone (always concealed by gloves), the onyx is a scrying crystal linked to Vestress of Ascarle and the only means of receiving messages from her. Rethnor is a member of the Kraken Society but he keeps this secret from the other High Captains [6,9]
Rethnor is married [6]
Seven Sails Inn, 3 years ago Hrolf the Unruly tore the inn apart and was run out of Luskan for it [6]
Waterdeep had forced Ruathym and Luskan to form the Captains' Alliance. [6]
Luskan warships were built for speed. Two tall masts supported enormous sails that caught and held every breath of the wind, and the crews were chosen from the best the Northlands had to offer [7]
The Cutlass, Luskan warship [7]
Rethnor’s hand (right one????) was severed by Fyodor in a berserker rage [7]
Rethnor lost 2 warships in the attack of the Elfmaid, and all his warriors were slain or badly wounded. Barely enough sailors survived to crew the Cutlass
Rethnor wears a magic pendant hidden under his tunic that will relay his words to hidden outposts of the Kraken Society on the mainland and the Purple Rocks [9]
An unseen raven-the harbinger of a warrior's death. (is this an illuskan thing or a Northman thing or both????) [9]
A stylized, simple picture of five ships with single, triangular sails, this is the official symbol of the High Captains of Luskan, each wears a silver signet ring bearing this symbol [15]
The Luskan fleet was lost in the Battle of Ruathym. The failed attack on Ruathym would carry a heavy price. There would be Nine Hells to pay at home, as well as increased pressure from Waterdeep and the Lords' Alliance [24]

Menzoberranzan
In the aftermath of war, the chaos that was Menzoberranzan teetered on the edge of catastrophe. Food supplies had dwindled; trade had fallen off. Most noble families kept mushroom groves within the walls of their compounds safe from the threat of poisoning by a rival clan-but the common folk went hungry more often than not. Shakti had addressed that problem, working hard to restore the rothe herd and revive the neglected fields. She also made sure it was known whose doing this was. The common folk of Menzoberranzan didn't care which eight backsides warmed the thrones of the Ruling Council. They did care that their young ones were fed, that there was a market for their crafts. Slowly, steadily, Shakti was building a power base of a different kind, one that dealt in the everyday needs of most of the city's drow. [2]
It was no accident that Shakti's older sister, the heir to House Hunzrin, had fallen ill with a rare wasting disease. [2]
The Dragons Hoard were all worshippers of Vhaeraun. Their leader was dead but the merchant band survived [2]
The simple and forthright approach to conspiracy and intrigue often befuddled dark elves, who fully expected their plots to be met with equally convoluted counterstrategies. The response this tactic invariably elicited-a moment of veiled surprise, followed by a frantic effort to ferret out the layers of conspiracy that surely must be hidden under the seemingly simple approach [3]
Drow methods of retaliation. Artistic dismemberment was a favourite indulgence. Slow-working poisons added a piquant ambiance. Giant scorpions played a significant role. [3]
Drow had a keen appreciation for beauty-including that of the body-and had few taboos about nudity. The main reason they wore clothing at all was because it offered protection from attack and hiding places for weapons! [3]
Light stole the nuances of heat vision, masked the subtle play of emotion that dark elves were so adept at reading. To the drow, absolute darkness revealed more than it hid. Shadows were more useful for concealment. [5]
The Directives of Lloth. These so-called Directives--conquering the Underdark and obliterating all elves from the Lands of Light were pleasant fantasies, useful for massaging the pride of the drow masses and averting attention from other matters [5]
Matron Kintuere of House Hunzrin, mother of Shakti Hunzrin [5]
Priestesses of Lloth could cast their sticky webs into the thoughts of another even if that person had passed beyond the mortal realms. If they had not known the sea folk in life, they needed contact with the body in order to track down the spirit [5]
The unseen knife cuts the deepest – drow saying [7]
Lloth's priestesses possessed spells to rival those of the most powerful necromancers
Gromph Baenre, he was an exceptionally handsome male, young and vital in appearance despite his reputed seven centuries of ill-spent life. His eyes were of the same rare amber hue as his daughter's [9]
Gromph Baenre is a follower of Vhaeraun and was grooming Liriel Baenre to also be a traitor priestess of Lolth and follower of Vhaeraun [9]
Dispel Evil was a spell not taught in Menzoberranzan (considered suicide) [12]
The dead were usually interred in small, airtight stone crypts dug into the solid rock that lay north of the city cavern. This was a matter of practicality, not respect. The bodies were simply stored there until a need arose for battle fodder or slave labor, at which point a wizard would be called upon to animate the corpses. Only priestesses of Lloth were cremated. [15]
A simple spell, a boon that Lloth granted even to drow outside her clergy. In response to her summons, hundreds of arachnids would creep out of the crevices to converge on the target destination [16]
Lolth did not allow her clergy to form close attachments of any kind and was particularly offended by the idea that a priestess might become fond of a mere male. Often were the females of Menzoberranzan required to sacrifice their mates, their lovers, and even their sons to appease the Queen of Spiders. [21]
Twin births were not common among the drow, but they did occur from time to time. The link between elven twins was incredibly strong, often enabling one sibling to sense the other's thoughts and to feel the other's pain. And the rivalry between drow twins was ruthless enough to inspire the most ambitious priestess in Menzoberranzan. Rarely did both siblings live to adulthood. Those who did usually pitted themselves against each other in an endless, equally matched struggle. These miniature wars could become so destructive that many drow decided to avoid the bother by destroying such children at birth [22]
One of the most powerful and deadly spells in a priestess's arsenal. It was a prayer seldom granted, for few were the drow who were powerful enough to withstand it. It was a portal of a different sort, one that opened the priestess to the pure power of Lloth. It was the offer of her body and mind as avatar to the Queen of Chaos. [22]
A fervent prayer, pleading for some sign of the goddess's presence and favour. It was a common enough spell, one cast nightly in the temples of the great houses and the chapel of the clerical school, Arach-Tinilith. From time to time Lloth rewarded her faithful with a sign of favour, such as a skittering rush of spiders, the creation of a magic item, the appearance of an otherworldly handmaiden such as a yochlol and, rarely, a visitation by an avatar. On rare occasions, warring priestesses used the spell to face off in a duel. If Lloth ignored the contest, both priestesses were summarily put to death. But if one priestess was favoured, she was accounted the winner and could demand death, dethronement, or worse for her vanquished rival. [23]

Shakti Hunzrin
Shakti often had headaches-the result of straining her eyes to make sense of the blur that was her world. Near-sighted from birth, she had gone to great lengths to keep her affliction secret. The constant struggle to keep from squinting gave her a pop-eyed, frantic appearance. Clerical spells might have improved her vision, but no drow dared admit to physical defect. [2]
Sought the assistance of Iskor the water wraith, she deals in information. She is messenger for a god worshiped on the Elemental Plane of Water and, apparently, by many creatures of the sea. As you surmised, Iskor is not content with her role and wishes to amass power of her own. Thus she also carries information to creatures that make their homes in the surface waters. [9]

Windwalker Amulet
The amulet had been crafted long ago by magic-users who took their strength from natural sites of power and from the place spirits that once were common in the northern lands. It could store such powers, temporarily, so that a magic-wielder could leave the place of power for a time. Liriel had reasoned that the innate magic of the Underdark drow, which dissipated in the light of the sun, was a form of place magic. She had adapted spells and rituals that stored her magical drow heritage-and her darkelven wizardry-in the amulet. [3]
Stolen from one of Rashemen's Witches, the amulet was an artifact from some ancient time, its magic little understood even by the powerful Witches who had worn it over the years. The Windwalker was crafted for two things: to store "place magic" for a time, and to carve a newly learned and unique rune upon the ancient and sacred oak that stood on Ruathym

Ruathym
Alesbane the cooper, from Ruathym [5]
There had been many strange happenings on the island of late [6]
Hrolf the Unruly is considered odd, something of a rogue on Ruathym [6,11]
First Axes of Ruathym, the battle chieftains of the island, they attend meetings of the Captains’ Alliance
Much about rune lore has been forgotten, but bits and pieces of the old ways can still be found
Rugged coast and fingerlike coves, picturesque villages and rounded green hills beyond, deeply forested mountains that cast long purple shadows in the dying light. Large, barren rocks thrust upward from the sea, much like the stalagmites of her homeland, forming a lethal maze that only the best and best informed-sailors might navigate. And the harbour beyond lacked conventional docks; a rounded cove with a sweep of pebble-strewn beach served as the only landing. Shallow-keeled boats, both large and small, had been drawn up onto the beach, and a few massive piles had been driven into the sea floor to provide mooring for deeper ships [12]
The womenfolk of Ruathym tend to hearth and family [12]
Ruathym-the island's largest town. In the centre of the village, surrounded by neat wooden homes and workshops, was a cleared area large enough for all the people to gather. Here the Thing their court of law-was held, as well as many of their celebrations. [12]
Almost without exception Ruathen were tall and fair, with sky-coloured eyes. Even the women stood closer to six feet than five. These women might have made fearsome warriors, yet they carried few weapons, and they garbed themselves without any concession to combat practicalities. Long, straight tunics of brightly coloured and much embroidered cloth covered their gowns-and hampered their movements. All of the women wore soft fabric boots, crudely fashioned jewellery, and demure expressions. [12]
Dagmar, daughter of Ulf the shaman, Was betrothed to Thorfinn (who was originally engaged to Ygraine) but he was slain in his sleep. Now believed to be the heir to the prophecy to bear more hamfariggen sons. Dagmar has been an unwilling agent of the Kraken Society, forced to serve to keep her twin sister alive. Dagmar slew Thorfinn and would have slain Fyodor given the chance, she also drugged the berserkers of Holgerstead so Vestress’ forces could attack unawares. Sittl acts as a go between for Vestress and Dagmar. Dagmar is evil and wants her sister to die, she also wants Ruathym to be conquered so she could rule it herself. During the Battle of Ruathym, Dagmar committed suicide rather than reconcile with her sister, spitting in her face as she died (a curse????) [12,21,22,24]
Ulf the shaman, Hrolf’s cousin. Has a wife Sanja, twin daughters Ygraine (now dead) and Dagmar. Has at least two burly thralls in his cottage [12,18]
Ygraine, daughter of Elf, twin sister of Dagmar, heir to the prophecy to bear more hamfariggen sons, betrothed to Thorfinn. Last winter Ygraine and Dagmar were fishing and were caught by Northmen pirates (from Gundarlun most likely????) Ygraine was chosen to be captive and Dagmar was chosen to be spy for the Kraken Society. Ygraine still lives as a mind slave of Vestress, but Dagmar told everyone that she was drowned by a sudden squall [12,18,21]
Thorfinn, was next in line to the title of First Axe of Holgerstead. Was one of the last hamfariggen. Slain in his sleep by unknown means [12]
Men have drowned fisherfolk who could swim before ever they took a step: Grimhild, Brand, Drott, Fafnir. Some of our mightiest hunters have been found torn to ribbons by the claws of unknown beasts; our finest trackers go missing. Fishing boats return to shore as driftwood. Children at play simply disappear. Ancient spirits have returned to the wells and springs; fearful creatures haunt the ruins. Only the most daring youths and maids dare go near the old sites now [12]
The ruined keep known as Inthar features a lot in shipboard stories. An ancient stronghold shrouded with magic and mystery. a vast and sprawling keep, ancient beyond reckoning. An enormous curtain wall of thick stone surrounded the site, its many gaps testifying to the ravages of time and battle. Inside this first perimeter was a maze of walls and buildings, most of which had been reduced to tall, tumbled piles of rocks. Above it all soared a single round tower, as remote and forbidding as the widow at a warrior's funeral. From time to time wild beasts lair in the ruins. An aura of magic covers the ruins. A banshee lingers in the ruins of Inthar, the elders warn the youngers not to go into Inthar when the groaning spirit cries. Inside the keep was a courtyard, hints of its former splendour remaining in the carved marble of the walls and floor. Indentations where gems had been pried from the stone and the distinctive elvish design of the low wall that surrounded a mineral spring bubbling up in the centre of the yard (the banshee lairs in the mineral spring. The banshee was once drow (or dark elf????) [12]
Aumark Lithyl, First Axe of Ruathym. Nearly seven feet tall he was, in late midlife but still in prime strength. His lined face and knotted muscles. His fair hair had faded to grey, but his eyes were bright and blue and proud [12]
At the gathering (the Thing????), villagers ring the leaping fire and sat cross-legged on the ground in a well ordered circle. The groupings were apparently based upon clans. Anyone at the gathering is invited to challenge the leader. The notable members then tell tales and invite newcomers to tell their story [12]
The Green Room. We've a fine library, filled with books and scrolls from all over. Any books or treasures not of immediate use to the raiders of Ruathym are stored in the Green Room in case someone else might want to buy them [12]
Wedigar, thick braids of pale ash brown, and a bluff and cheerful face marked by keen grey eyes and a well-tended short beard. He was taller than Fyodor by a handspan and had the same stocky, thick-muscled frame. He was dressed in leathers and armed as if for battle. A broadsword was strapped to his back, and a well-loaded weapons belt encircled his waist and crossed in an X over his massive chest. A one-handed battle-axe hung on one hip, and a large iron hammer-tipped with a broad, flat disk of mithril on one side and a wicked, spiked claw on the other-bounced on the opposite side. First Axe of Holgerstead. The last hamfariggen (now that Thorfinn is dead). Wants to troth to Dagmar to have more hamfariggen sons and fulfil the prophecy. Wedigar is already married to Alflilda with daughters (he is contented though). Wedigar is under the spell of a nereid (which serves Vestress) and has been helping attack and murder the villagers, although he does not remember it [12,13,18]
Holgerstead is a village to the north. The berserkers live and train there. The mightiest among them can take on the form of beasts during a battle rage. A sight to behold, that is, though not so common now as in olden times. [12]
Berserkers of Ruathym are known as hamfariggen-the shapestrong. They can take the form of man sized beasts; hawk, boar, etc [12,13]
There are no more hamfariggen upon Ruathym. The old women who read omens believe Ygraine (and now Dagmar) are the most likely to bear hamfariggen sons [12]
The shapeshifting gift (of the hamfariggen????) is not of Ruathym, it has no part of the magic that rages within the Rashemmi. But it could be learned through rituals [12].
The unmarried men of the village sleep in the Trelleborg. Unmarried women stay in their father's houses [12]
Hrolf owns warehouses at the edge of the village and a snug cottage with an extra room [12]
Ivar, a young man with a bowl-shaped mop of yellow hair, from Ruathym town [12]
Brynwolf, a young warrior with reddish-brown braids and beard [12]
There are no elves on Ruathym, nor have there been since the days of the Rus [12]
Sigurd and Kara, young adults of Ruathym, ignored the warnings of Inthar and perished.
Those who are strong in the shapeshifting rage can sometimes take a hamfarir flight. The body stays behind; the spirit goes forth in animal shape [13]
Erig, young fisherman [14]
Valeron, fisherman [14]
Hrolf’s warehouses stand right next to the prison [14]
The history of the Northlands is a saga of slain heroes, endless warfare, and titanic sea battles [15]
Northmen (and Rashemmi) tales say that ravens visited the battlefields to guide the spirits of the slain into the afterlife [15]
Hrolf and his cousin Ulf’s fathers were twin-born sons [16]
Funerals for a ship’s captain or a warrior. Most of the villagers took part in the preparations, for there was much to be done. The ship had to be cleaned and provisioned, her planks and timbers doused with whale oil; songs needed to be written to commemorate the man and his deeds; driftwood gathered for an enormous bonfIre; food and drink readied for the feast-a lavish and lengthy affair meant to remind those left behind of the reward awaiting them in the mead halls of Tempus. By Ruathen custom, a captain's first mate was to oversee the preparations. Chanting the songs of farewell, when they are over setting the rudder and raising the sail - an enormous banner of triumphant blue, upon which is painted the holy symbol of Tempus. Then the oil soaked ship is launched and set aflame by a fired arrow. This was an ancient ceremony, seldom done in these times [17]
The apprentice stays in the house of his or her master. [17]
Yggdrassil’s Child, an enormous oak. It was ancient, far older than even a long-lived drow could hope to become, yet there was nothing about its thick truck and fresh spring leaves that set it apart from other, equally large trees. Runes were carved into the physical tree, but the magic of Yggsdrasil's Child shielded them from casual gaze. [17]
Sanja, a thick-bodied Northwoman with a usual sour expression. Ulf’s wife [18]
The daughters family pay a bride price when they marry her off [18]
A distant time when shapeshifting berserkers ruled Ruathym and terrorized the seas beyond [18]
When the day's work was done, the men joined in games of chance, bracing swims in mountain rivers made fast and icy by melting snows, and friendly contests of strength and skill [18]
A feast of celebration was the custom for a new wedding [18]
The berserkers of Ruathym, their battle rages were ruled by choice and ritual [18]
Holgerstead. The village was based in an ancient stronghold built by long-dead dwarves, and despite the passage of centuries it was still a fastness that defied attack from without. Holgerstead was the last fallback of Ruathym, a place where the people from other parts of the island might come in times of extreme danger. It would never fall, not unless it were delivered into an enemy's hands. [18]
Wedigar, First Axe of Holgerstead was defeated by Merrow, he lived but was gravely wounded. Fyodor was named First Axe of Holgerstead until Wedigar recovered [18]
The new First Axe of Holgerstead was required to pledge fealty to Aumark Lithyl, First Axe of all Ruathym. [20]
Glammad, First Axe of Hastor, a tall warrior in a scarlet tunic covered in runes [20]
Wulhof of Ruathym, travels between Ruathym and Caer Callidyrr [20]
Kelpies are not known in Ruathym (not native to the shores, why?????) [21]
Death in honourable battle earns people a place in the afterlife [21]
To the people of Ruathym, a woman's worth is measured by the rank of her husband and the sons she bears him. [22]
Only a warrior can call a Council of Law (a Thing) [22]
There were few horses on Ruathym, but a First Axe could claim any animal in the village stables [23]
During the Battle of Ruathym, Liriel collapsed the tower of Inthar, sealing the portal once and for all (did she destroy the portal or just bury it????) [24]
The Wolves of the Waves, the legendary defenders of Ruathym (the name of hamfariggen sailors in ancient times????) [24]
Ygraine’s freedom and return to Ruathym allowed the berserkers of Holgerstead to become hamfariggen once more and assume animal form [24]
In ancient times Ruathym village was led by rune casters [26]

Ascarle
The memories of elves are long indeed, but to most of them the lost city of Ascarle had faded into the fabric of lore and legend. Many generations of elves had come and gone since the day Ascarle had disappeared-swept away by the rush of melting ice, then buried beneath the waves in the age when the great glaciers gave way to the northern seas. Few suspected that the glories of Ascarle continued, hidden deep beneath the waters off the northern coast of Trisk, a small island in the remote archipelago known as the Purple Rocks. Few of those long-ago elves would recognize Ascarle now. Yes, most of the buildings remained intact-wondrous, gleaming structures magically grown from crystal and red coral. Even buried beneath the waves, the city looked as if it had been sculpted from fire and ice. Air still filled many of the buildings and the covered walkways that linked them. Treasures from ancient cultures furnished the luxurious rooms. Indeed, the only discordant notes in all of Ascarle came from its watery horizon and its current inhabitants. Around the submerged city lived some of the most feared creatures in the sea. A hundred merrow-aquatic cousins of ogres-formed the core of Ascarle's standing army. The antechambers and tunnels that led into the crystal core were lairs to kapoacinth, marine gargoyles who lived for the enjoyment of causing pain. A band of evil nereids, beautiful, shapeshifting sirens dedicated to the destruction of seagoing males-flitted about the city, awaiting opportunities for mischief. It was even whispered that a kraken made its lair in the submerged city. Of all the creatures of the sea, this gigantic and highly intelligent squid-creature was the most feared. In times past, entire cities, whole islands, had disappeared at the command of such beasts. Little was known about kraken, except that the creatures spent most of their lives in the unreachable depths of the sea, and that they at times amassed power that reached far beyond the waves. Even rumour of a kraken's presence was a formidable threat. [5]
Ascarle is the Western command centre of the Kraken Society [9]
Iskor, the water wraith, slipped into the door that led from her home on the elemental plane of water to the hidden city of Ascarle (there must be a portal between Ascarle and the Elemental Plane of Water????). The water wraith assumed corporeal form little by little as she emerged from the water. Her face and body took the form of a sylph-a beautiful water nymph-but with skin and hair as transparent as finest glass. Iskor would have been invisible, but for the tiny, effervescent bubbles that whirled through her. She looked like a fountain contained within some exquisite sculpture. She can summon enormous water elementals and move incredibly fast (as a tsunami) [9,10]
Ascarle, the inner city lay not in ruins, but a marvel crafted from crystal and coral, beautiful beyond telling. Like a diamond with a heart of flame, the city lent an eldritch glow to the surrounding water. [10]
The audience chamber. The vast room was dominated by a marble dais and a crystal throne the colour of pale amethysts. Seated upon this was a regal-if hideous-creature. A silver diadem rested on its high-domed lavender head. [10]
There is a portal between Ascarle and Ruathym. Recently discovered, it is an ancient magical path, probably conjured by the elves who once lived in both lands. Kraken Society messengers use the portal to carry orders. (it may be that only elves and fey beings can pass through the portal, Vestress needs Liriel to use her magic to allow anyone to use the portal????) [11]
Vestress is growing kelpies in vats in Ascarle and then planting them around the coast of Ruathym to lure the Ruathen to their deaths and weaken the island. She is also using Nereids to murder Ruathen and force them to murder each other [14]
Conquering Ruathym is an important goal for the Kraken Society, to gain another western outpost (and presumably distract attention from Trisk), and also reward Rethnor and strengthen Luskan [14]
Vestress commands a hundred sea ogres, twice as many human and elven slaves, gargoyles, strange water creatures from other worlds. [14]
The magical treasures of Ascarle the spells and artifacts of a mighty elven people, wonders that form the stuff of legends. [22]

Vestress
The apparent ruler of Ascarle, an illithid known as Vestress, certainly did nothing to discourage these rumours. A creature of immense magical power and shadowy background, Vestress claimed the title of Regent and ruled the undersea kingdom for the absent kraken. Or so she claimed, and so far none had dared to challenge her. For Vestress's reign was not limited to Ascarle. A far flung network of spies and assassins known as the Kraken Society extended her power throughout the Northlands. Vestress was an oddity among her kind. Illithids did not possess-or at least did not exhibit-gender, but this creature projected a mental "voice" that was decidedly feminine and a persona as regal as that of any queen. By human standards, illithids were hideous creatures that resembled some unholy pairing of squid and humanoid. Roughly manshaped in form, the creatures had bald, highdomed heads, lavender hide, and white eyes devoid of expression. Four writhing tentacles formed the lower half of an illithid's face and concealed a sharp-fanged maw. Somehow, though, Vestress projected an elegance not in keeping with her ungainly form. Pale purple amethysts decked her three fingered hands and studded the circlet of silver on her head. The full sleeves of her lavender silk robe whispered as she deftly moved the shuttle of her loom. [5]
The illithid saw all of life as a tapestry, and she could spin nearly anything into thread: precious gems, stolen dreams. [5]
Vestress has a Weaving Chamber and Scrying Room in her palace in Ascarle. An alchemy chamber [5,10]
Vestress enslaved sea elves and set them to work maintaining Ascarle’s air filled chambers. These sea elves when they died were pickled and placed in barrels bearing the mark of Alesbane the cooper. The spirits of the elves were trapped in Vestress’ tapestries. [5]
The illithid herself had left the Underdark many, many years ago, under circumstances that did not permit her to maintain ties with her homeland. [9]
Vestress knows Skullport well [9]
Regent of Ascarle [10]
Vestress was exceptionally skilled--even for an illithid-at pulling information from an unwilling mind [10]
One of Vestress’ most useful allies was an aboleth. It would consume individuals and learn all their knowledge. Vestress would then engage it in a mind battle to try and take the information from its mind. The aboleth sometimes sought out particular individuals Vestress wanted and devoured them, other times Vestress presented it with victims [10]
Vestress had lost her ties to her own ancient heritage. She was a rogue illithid, cast off from the city where she'd been spawned, denied the community of collective minds that sustained her kindred. The self-proclaimed Regent of Ascarle was desperate to establish contact with others of her kind. She had tried, many times before. Some of her efforts had failed entirely; most succeeded at least in expanding the reach and tbe power of the Kraken Society. [16]
Many years ago, Vestress had wrested the city of Ascarle from other hands. Fell creatures and evil spirits had haunted the near-ruins buried in the watery depths north oftbe purple Rocks. Most fearsome was tbe banshee who watched over the sunken treasure. The creature had been a wizard, a member of a drow army that had marched against the elven city in centuries beyond memory, only to be destroyed in turn when the rush of melting glaciers swept Ascarle away. The drow wizard had remained beyond death, transformed into a banshee, protecting the lost magical treasures of the city from any who might try to claim them. Vestress had overcome the banshee in a titanic magical battle and banished the undead drow to some unknown place. Thus had things remained for many years. Then came Iskor, the water wraith, and the influx of extraplanar creatures such as nereids to add to the strength of Ascarle. Vestress was pleased-more so when these creatures inadvertently discovered a watery portal between the subterranean city and the distant island of Ruathym. Midpoint between the Purple Rocks and the Moonshaes, due west from Waterdeep and lying on the warm river of water that ran eastward through the sea from the elves' island stronghold of Evermeet, Ruathym would be an important strategic addition to her empire. Vestress determined to add the island to the lands held in the grip of the Kraken Society. But when she tried to send her armies, she came up against an ancient and implacable enemy: the banshee, which had taken up residence in the watery portal. Mindless in its purpose after the passage of centuries, the undead creature refused to let any living creature through the portal and spent its remaining power keeping the magic gateway closed. Not one to be outdone, Vestress quickly changed tactics, employing her powerful and ambitious Luskan agent to aid in the fall of Ruathym. Only recently had Vestress discovered that the elemental creatures, such as Iskor and the nereids, were beyond the banshee's magic, and the illithid had added the efforts of these extraplanar allies to the coming conquest, sending them to the island to quietly decimate Ruathym's fighting forces. But these intrusions had made the elven spirit restive. Vestress, too, was growing restless, and the illithid was eager to see the illusive banshee overcome once and for all. And when the banshee was gone from Ruathym and the portal open, all the armies of Ascarle would pour through. Ruathym would be hers to rule. [16]
A nearly finished tapestry depicting a coastal village--as one of the creatures of the Abyss might leave it after a few days' dalliance. Dead human warriors lay in mouldering piles; sea elves were staked out beneath a blazing sun. The spirits of the sea elves were woven into the tapestry [22]

Yartar
The town of Yartar was an important crossroads of the Northlands, located as it was on the River Dessarin and the trade road between Triboar and Silverymoon. Many important goods came through this town, not the least of them information. [9]
Baron Khaufros, Lord of Yartar, was an ambitious man. He had inherited his wealth and title, but he'd earned his position as ruler of Yartar by his ability to build alliances of trade and politics. He was a steadfast member of the Lords' Alliance, that group of cities that tied their interests closely to those of Waterdeep. Khaufros was also a member of the Kraken Society, and the hidden chambers and tunnels under his mansions were frequent haunts of those spies and assassins who did the society's dark work. [9]
Late spring brought a thawing of the Dessarin and a flow of messages from many towns-and many sources. [9]
Cladence, the elderly and utterly implacable steward of Baron Khaufros [9]
Semmonemily, a doppelganger and one of the closest allies of Baron Khaufros. He imitated a Waterdeep courier and returned to Waterdeep carrying altered missives [9]
Baron Khaufros has a scribe that is able to exactly duplicated the writing of any man alive [9]

Trisk
Trisk was one of two large islands in the distant cluster known as the Purple Rocks. The islands lay west of Gundarlun, and past the warm waters of the River. Ice floes were still a hazard at this time of year, but even more fearsome were the strange and deadly sea creatures who were said to lair near the islands.
Rethnor suspected Trisk was the main base of operations for the Kraken Society
Selger, the nominal ruler of Trisk. A member of the Kraken Society [10]
The rocky hillsides of the coast and rolled through the green valley beyond. The people were cheerful and industrious, the harbour pristine and the farms well tended. But, strain lay behind peoples eyes, a frantic striving for excellence, constant watchfulness, and the emblem of the Kraken Society held somewhere on every individual.
Inhabitants speak an obscure dialect on Trisk, not all speak the Common trade tongue (not illuskan????) [10]
Along the northern coast are caves, revealed only at low tide. The Kraken Society can be reached in those caves. Thick pillars lined the walkway, and curving buttresses met overhead in graceful arcs. All surfaces were carved with intricate designs, detailed scenes, and the curving script of some long-forgotten language. Kapoacinth perch atop the pillars [10]

Liriel
In order to help the Elfmaid escape Iskor the water wraith, Liriel prayed to Lolth and accepted the Mark of Lolth as the price of Lolth’s help. [11]

Fyodor
Fyodor was apprenticed to a swordsmith from a young age. He worked at the forge for 7 years and they threw hammers for fun [12]
Fyodor changed into a bear when Wedigar was felled (is it a curse that passed into the closest berserker????) [18]

Language
dock-alfar – means dark elf in Ruathen (illuskan or Northmen language????) [12]
Hamfariggen means the shapestrong in Ruathen [12]
Trelleborg means barracks in Ruathen [12]
“Close only counts in horseshoe games and fireball spells.” – Rashemmi saying [12]

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Gary Dallison
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Posted - 02 Sep 2022 :  20:56:56  Show Profile Send Gary Dallison a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Elaine is fast becoming another of my favourite realms novelists.

Lots of lore in this one as well.

Plenty of scattered bits of history regarding Ruathym, which i'm sure will reappear soon in one of Eric Boyd's adventure paths.

A few bits on Menzoberranzan as well.

I'm intrigued to find out why sea elves (of the Great Sea) cannot use magic, and what the drow might have had to do with it.



Lots of stuff about magic in this book that i found interesting in a way. Liriel was able to keep her drow magic because she etched a rune into Yggdrassil's Child. Now there doesnt seem to be any reason why etching a rune into an old tree would grant such a power. Unless of course that tree was actually a Weave Anchor, in which case Liriel literally altered the rules of magic slightly.

Then there is Fyodor and his berserker rages. They get worse and worse until he is no longer able to control it. Then suddenly on Ruathym he changes into a bear. I can see no reason why he would suddenly gain the ability to change into an animal form. Would he have done so if he wasnt raging on Ruathym. Coincidentally, seconds before assuming animal form, Wedigar (who could assume animal form in berserk rage) was defeated in battle. I wonder if this hamfariggen is not a curse of some sort. When Wedigar was defeated, Fyodor (who is undefeated) became a vessel for this curse.

Then during the Battle of Ruathym, all the berserkers suddenly gain the ability to assume animal form (becoming hamfariggen). Now if it was a curse or boon, it could have been triggered by the arrival of Ygraine (as prophesised by the old crones of Ruathym). Perhaps the first hamfariggen were so cursed because they failed to defend a worthy woman in their charge, or as a boon for successfully rescuing a worthy woman from imprisonment by a more powerful enemy. Ygraine's reappearance couldve reactivated this boon or curse.

Or another alternative is that Fyodor became a spirit animal seconds before the berserkers assumed animal form. Wedigar had not assumed animal form since his defeat - it may be that he was no longer able to - and so Fyodor was the last Hamfariggen. When he assumed spirit form he sacrificed himself (unclear if all berserkers assuming spirit form die) and so the curse/boon then passed into the next worthy berserker but because he was amid a ship full of berserkers fighting in a rage against the odds they all gained the power.

I am also wondering more about Fyodor's black sword. It is clearly too large for Fyodor, in fact it is too large for any human (Fyodor is 6 ft tall). We are told Fyodor gained his berserker frenzy during the ToT but it strikes me as odd that Fyodor always goes berserk when he has his sword (someone correct me if i'm wrong) and he is rarely if ever is without it. What if this unusual sword is the cause of his berserker rage, it could be a cursed berserker sword of a sorts, perhaps it belonged to a giant or a demon and Fyodor found it and when he fights it possesses him.


Regardless, lots of hooks and theories to explore and ways to develop events further.

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Gary Dallison
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Posted - 02 Sep 2022 :  21:35:58  Show Profile Send Gary Dallison a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Oh and Liriel clearly didnt become an avatar of lolth (another example of the language not existing to correctly categorise divine matters).

She did channel lolths power into herself but also retained her independence. I would categorise this as becoming an aspect of lolth (she was almost like a chosen, perhaps more powerful).

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TheIriaeban
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Posted - 02 Sep 2022 :  23:29:04  Show Profile Send TheIriaeban a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Ah-hah, a new magic affecting malady! Does it give the symptoms and method of curing for Spellsickness? How does it differ from chronic incandescence, conjuritis, enchanter’s fade, or immaterialism?

"Iriaebor is a fine city. So what if you can have violence between merchant groups break out at any moment. Not every city can offer dinner AND a show."

My FR writeups - http://www.mediafire.com/folder/um3liz6tqsf5n/Documents
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Gary Dallison
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Posted - 03 Sep 2022 :  08:02:24  Show Profile Send Gary Dallison a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Its not a real illness i'm afraid. In the early realms novels (and in the Dragonlance novels) casting spells drains the caster of stamina (and life it would seem). Casting too much magic leaves the caster exhausted and can even result in death.

The symptoms of this spellsickness are in line with exhaustion, so lethargy, difficulty concentrating, general malaise.

I wouldnt view it as a disease that you can catch, more like a physical reaction to using magic. Unfortunately i dont believe the rules ever addressed it (in my own rules i dont have spell slots or spell levels, instead casting a spell drains hitpoints from the caster).

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TheIriaeban
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Posted - 03 Sep 2022 :  15:28:23  Show Profile Send TheIriaeban a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Thank you. I can do something with that:

Elsewhere it is called Weave Weariness. Any caster that utilizes the Weave who completely depletes their spells (i.e. casts everything so no spells are left) for 5 days or more in a row gains a 3% cumulative chance starting on the 6th and later days of contracting Weave Weariness. Once contracted, a caster with Weave Weariness has a 3% cumulative chance per day of spell failure any time they cast a spell (even a cantrip or orison) due to the exhaustion and difficulty with concentration the malady causes. This will continue as long as ANY spells are cast in a day. The only known cure is for the caster to for go casting any spell (even a cantrip or orison) for 10 consecutive days. DMs may want to have the same failure chance affect any research the caster is performing while suffering from Weave Weariness.

Edit: There is a rumor that the Thayans have found a cure by using their Circle spell for this purpose. The recipient wizard (who has Weave Weariness) cannot do any spell memorization but must stay in the circle for 1 turn per level. For example, a 12th level wizard would need to be in the circle for an uninterrupted 12 turns (2 hours) to be cured.

"Iriaebor is a fine city. So what if you can have violence between merchant groups break out at any moment. Not every city can offer dinner AND a show."

My FR writeups - http://www.mediafire.com/folder/um3liz6tqsf5n/Documents

Edited by - TheIriaeban on 03 Sep 2022 16:03:54
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Gary Dallison
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Posted - 04 Sep 2022 :  21:15:33  Show Profile Send Gary Dallison a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I was going to skip the Fires of Narbondel, mostly because i thought it was an RAS novel, but i was very pleasantly surprised.

I've seen a few complain that Menzoberranzan society doesnt work, but if the real world proves anything (especially in the modern era), it is that societies will sleepwalk into evil quite readily and that people are willing to indulge in absolute depravity if it is considered a social norm (or for self preservation).

So the drow are not necessarily inherently evil, a bit twisted perhaps due to some tainted demonic blood, but i suspect that is carefully husbanded within the noble houses.

The nobility are obsessed with power, as all rich and powerful people are. Most people with power will do anything for more (look at your any Tory / Republican politician. Lolth's church have made treachery and evil a requirement to gain that power. Nobles are regularly required to sacrifice their relatives, lovers, children. They must betray anyone in order to gain that power. This of course creates a society where people do not trust and where they are reluctant to love.

How do the Church of Lolth achieve this, by making the noble houses want to enrol their daughters in Arach Tinilith to gain high priestesses, or Sorcere to gain archmages, or the other one to gain weapons masters. At these schools the betrayal behaviours are encouraged with rewards and each individual is forced to perform steadily more evil and violent acts so they become normalised.


In short, after millennia, the nobility are expected to be evil, it is the societal norm, and as a result the nobles want to fit in. I can honestly say that after living in Tory britain for the past 12 years, similar behaviours are encouraged such as snitching on your neighbours for disobeying rules, media rhetoric is constant about how poor people are lazy and stupid and deserve ill treatment. Such behaviour is now normalised in a large portion of society. Fascist nations of history are of course the end result where a scapegoat is created (the elves) to focus hatred and shift blame for anything bad that happens while encouraging thoroughly evil behaviour on an unprecedented scale through brainwashing of the young and a totalitarian control of all social structures.


However, this evil drow society does not necessarily extend to the commoners. Yes many of them behave evil in order to emulate their betters in society (the nobles), but the poor and downtrodden are not going to be rewarded for betraying their family and so i suspect there are a significant proportion of drow society that are neutral at worst and just try to live their live as best they can as normally as they can, but they keep their nice emotions and activities as secret so as to keep within societal norms (the elite always determine societal norms) and avoid being betrayed by a neighbour.

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Gary Dallison
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Posted - 06 Sep 2022 :  17:37:22  Show Profile Send Gary Dallison a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Realms of the Underdark
The Fires of Narbondel (1308 DR)
By Mark Anthony
Zaknafein-weapons master of House Do'Urden, Ninth House of Menzoberranzan. [1]
The Dark. Dominion, the wild region beyond the borders of the underground city Menzoberranzan. [1]
There was nothing in all the Underdark that kobolds feared more than drow. [1]
Zaknafein had been alive for nearly four hundred years, and he had spent almost all of those years mastering the art of battle. [1]
In Menzoberranzan, all life revolved around station. Each of the noble houses in the city was caught in a never-ending game of intrigue, alliance, and treachery. All of it served one goal: to win the favor of the dark goddess Lloth. Those who gained the blessing of the Spider Queen knew great power and prosperity, while those who earned her displeasure found only destruction and death. [1]
No family stayed in Lloth's favor forever. Each was doomed to fall eventually. [1]
Pale faerie fire, conjured by the wizards of the various houses, revealed the fantastic shapes into which the cavern's gigantic stalagmites and stalactites had been hewn. Slender bridges leapt impossibly between the stone spires. In the five thousand years during which the dark elves had dwelt in this place, not a single surface had been left untouched. Every piece of stone had been carved and polished and shaped to suit the needs of the drow. Everything that was, except for Narbondel [1]
The insignia of House Do'Urden. The adamantite disk was engraved with a spider that wielded a different weapon in each of its eight appendages. [1]
The other nobles of house Do’Urden -her five living children, along with her current patron, Rizzen [2]
Several years ago, Malice had revoked Zak's position as patron and had taken Rizzen in his stead. Rizzan was handsome, yes, but so docile, so pliant, so utterly dull [2]
Briza, Malice's eldest daughter. Unlike her lithe mother, Briza was a big-boned and round-shouldered elf. Recently anointed a high priestess of Lloth, she enjoyed wielding her new authority. [2]
Zaknafein drifted to the floor before Malice, waving a hand to end the levitation spell of which all highborn drow are capable. Zak was a highborn drow (which house before joining Do’Urden????) [2]
Vierna and Maya, Briza's younger sisters. Malice’s two youngest daughters. Though both were nearly high priestesses, they were not such yet [2]
It was not a male's position to speak concerning house affairs unless directly asked. [2]
At eleven years, and by far the younger of the two, Drizzt had only recently become page prince, and was not yet a true noble. Thus, serving the matron mother was his duty. He continued to gaze at his feet, as a page prince was taught to do in the presence of nobles [2]
The Festival of the Founding approaches, the day on which we recall the founding of Menzoberranzan over five thousand years ago. On the Festival of the Founding, the Spider Queen is supposed to appear somewhere in the city, she appears in disguise. On the festival day, you have to be nice to everybody, even goblins and bugbears, because there's no telling what shape Lloth might put on. If she were to appear within a noble house that house would know great honor and would surely prosper in the coming year. [2]
Dinin, a full-grown elf, able to speak without leave. It was his role to instruct the boy in the proper manners of a page prince and deliver punishment [2]
The Dagger of Menzoberra, an ancient and holy relic once wielded by Menzoberra [2]
A small, dark stone carved in the shape of a spider. A single red ruby glistened on its abdomen. This spiderjewel will lead whoever bears it to the resting place of an ancient and holy relic, the Dagger of Menzoberra. Matron Malice summoned a Yochlol who gave the spiderjewel to her and told her how to improve the standing of House Do’Urden [2]
Malice was five centuries old. She did not always enjoy being so harsh with her children and servants, but she was matron mother, and the well-being of the house took precedence over all else, even her own feelings [2]
Never lift your gaze from the floor. That was the first lesson as page prince. Forgetting a lesson resulted in whippings, never crie out or try to dodge the blows. To do so would only win more lashes. [3]
For the first ten years of his life, before he had become page prince, Vierna's had been the only voice he had known, save for his own. Vierna had been his word-wean mother. She had been given Drizzt as an infant, and as he grew she had taught him the language of the drow-both the spoken tongue and the complex system of hand signs that the dark elves used to communicate in silence. She had also taught him how to use and control his innate magical abilities: the power to levitate by force of will, and to conjure glowing faerie fire from thin air. More than anything else, however, she had taught him his place as a male in drow society. Females were his superiors, and he was always to defer to them. She had made him repeat this doctrine so often that sometimes he still woke at night to find he had been speaking it in his sleep. Though Vierna's teachings had been anything but gentle, she had seldom used her whip on him, and when she did it was without the open relish Briza always displayed. However, in the year since he had become page prince, Vierna had resumed her studies at Arach-Tinilith, and would soon be anointed as a high priestess. As that time approached, Drizzt knew he could expect less and less kindness from his sister. High priestesses of Lloth were not known for their mercy. [3]
Most of the noble houses of Menzoberranzan, which were typically built within a stalactite-stalagmite pair, House Do'Urden was set into the western wall of the cavern. The feast hall delved deeper into the surrounding rock than did any other room in the house, and so was damp and prone to mould. [3]
The main courtyard, where Zaknafein trained the house's three-hundred soldiers [3]
Drizzt was doomed to life as a page prince for five more years (at 16 years old????), but after that-if Briza hadn't managed to kill him with all her evil chores-he would become a noble proper, and it would be time to train in skills that would benefit the house. [3]
All spiders were sacred to the goddess Lloth. To disturb one's web would have earned him a long appointment with the whip. But if he had accidentally killed the arachnid. The punishment for killing a spider was death: quick, painful, and with no chance of reprieve [3]
The wrought-adamantite gates that guarded the entrance to House Do'Urden. Right now, the gates were only half raised, so that house nobles might levitate over them easily while goblins, gnomes, and other rabble could not. But in times of crisis the gates could be raised to cover the entire opening in the cavern's wall, so that none could pass through. [4]
Drizzt?-was causing his eldest sister consternation once again. Zak would not have expected such bold character in one of Rizzen's sons. Drizzt could grow up to be a strong and willful elf one day-if all that character were not crushed out of him first [4]
Zak thought back to the years when he had been patron of House Do'Urden. For a time, he had thought that he loved Malice, and she him, until the day she had stripped him of his rank, and he had realized that all she cared about was station and the position of House Do'Urden in Lloth's Ladder. On occasion, Malice still beckoned Zak to her bedchamber, and he complied. A matron mother's orders were not to be refused. And it was not unpleasant. [4]
A gigantic spider hewn of dark green stone rested on the parapet behind Zak. A jade spider. Dozens of them scattered House Do'Urden to serve as a defence against any who might somehow pass the gates. Such was their enchantment that, in the presence of an intruder, a jade spider would animate and attack with swift and fatal force. [4]
According to the yochlol, the Dagger of Menzoberra was hidden somewhere within the city. This was difficult to believe. After all, there wasn't an inch of this cavern that had not been explored by drow eyes, shaped by drow hands, and dwelt within by drow families for centuries. The Dagger's hiding place had to be remarkable for the relic to have remained lost for over five thousand years. Of all the rock formations in the cavern, only one remained in its rough, natural state as it had for millennia, untouched by drow hands or drow magic. It was a monument to the cavern, as it had been when Menzoberra first led her people here five thousand years ago: the pillar of Narbondel. Only here might something have lain hidden so long without discovery. [4]
Qu'ellarz'orl, the plateau on which perched the city's most powerful houses, including that of Baenre, First House of Menzoberranzan. The edge of the mushroom forest that demarcated the exclusive plateau [4]
The pillar was the purview of the city's archmage, whose ceremonial duty it was to ignite the magical fires that travelled up the column once per day. Zak doubted Gromph Baenre would take kindly to meddling [4]
The Black Death of Narbondel. Midnight approached. Now would be Zak's only chance. At this moment the archmage rested in his plush chambers in Sorcere, preparing himself to cast the spell of fire with which he would begin a new day. No gazes in the city would be turned toward the pillar while it was dark. [4]
Narbondel. The surface of the pillar was irregular, crazed with cracks and crevices. A small knife could be stashed in any of them. [4]
The archmage had left his chambers in Sorcere and was even now making his way toward Narbondel with his entourage [4]
A secret staircase at the summit of Narbondel led down inside it below Narbondel to a huge chasm filled with an enormous spider web and a cocoon at its centre (containing the bones and Dagger of Menzoberra). The web was warded against magic. When the cocoon was broken the web died and fell into the chasm [4]
The Dagger of Menzoberra, an ornate silver knife with a large jewel embedded in its hilt winking like a purple eye [4]
The Cavern of the Lost, where drow are transformed into driders [4]
Daermon N'a'shezbaernon, the ancient name of House Do’Urden [5]
Even as she had uttered the terrible words, her heart had cried out for her to stop. To be transformed into a drider was a fate she would hesitate to wish upon even her worst enemy. By her order, Zak would become a monster: a tortured creature of hideous aspect, forced to live out his days in pain and madness and loathing, haunting the labyrinth of the Dark Dominion. Yet what choice had Malice had? None. What she had done was done to protect House Do'Urden. She was matron mother. The prosperity of the house came before all else. She could not forget that. Still, the awful weight of her actions pressed upon her, dragging her to her knees. A moan escaped her lips. Most days she revelled in her power as matron mother of a noble house. But sometimes power was a terrible burden [5]
The Festival of the Founding is nearly upon us," the image of Matron Baenre went on. "As you know, it is the tradition on that day for the nobles of two houses that do not customarily dine together to do so. If House Do'Urden would deign to host House Baenre on this holy occasion, I would be most grateful. Certainly this meant that Matron Baenre favoured the recent rise in station of House Do'Urden. [5]
They had strapped him to an altar of dark stone, fiat on his back, his hands and feet bound with rothe-hide thongs to the slab's four corners. Eight priestesses of Lloth gathered around an altar to which was strapped a writhing figure. At the head of the stone slab, hovering in the garish green flames rising from a copper brazier, was a nightmarish form. The thing was a mass of bubbling flesh, snaking tentacles, and bulbous eyes. A yochlol, one of the Handmaidens of Lloth, summoned from the depths of the Abyss to work its evil here. [6]
Jalynfein, the Spider Mage, rescued Zaknafein from being transformed into a drider. Jalynfein’s face is a mass of thousands of spider legs (hidden beneath a grey mask), a yochlol did that to him. Jalynfein loathed Lloth not just for what she had done to him, but for what she had done to all the drow. The dark elves had been noble creatures once, beings of enlightenment and compassion. That was before they were driven into the Underdark and became tangled in Lloth's web of deceit, depravity, and lust [6]
There are others who are . . . different. Others who believe that drow do not have to dwell in evil and infamy. Jalynfein has brought some of them here, to speak with them. By posing as a loyal disciple of Lloth, I avoid her close scrutiny. Yet even as I pretend to serve her, I work against the Spider Queen. I use the power she grants me and turn it against her. I must be subtle, yes. Cautious. Patient. It may take centuries. But slowly, surely, we can erode her hold upon the drow. In posing as a slave of the Spider Queen, an elf might one day wake to find he has actually become one. Time was their ally, but it was also their enemy. In time, all things-even a drow of good and true heart-could become corrupted [6,7]
An emerald crown and a pale sword sit in the secret treasure store of House Do’Urden. A bowl of beaten gold, the vessel was unadorned, as he touched the golden rim, clear water springing from no visible source-filled the vessel. Staring into the water, the water went dark, blacker than the deepest crevices of the Underdark. Images began to appear. They floated across the still surface of the water, quick and fleeting. He glimpsed his mother talking to his sisters, their heads bent together as they schemed some wickedness. The image changed and became his brother Dinin practicing with his swords. Then, in quick succession, came a dozen scenes scattered around the city. This was a scrying bowl, one of the greatest treasures of House Do’Urden. You can even interact through the scrying bowl (grab items and retrieve them)
There were too many stories of families who had turned away some wretched creature only to learn it had been Lloth in disguise, even as they died from food turned into poison. [10]
Mushroom wine [10]
No one was turned away on the Festival of the Founding [11]
Malice lied to Zak about Drizzt’s heritage. Drizzt was Zaknafein’s son [11]
Lolth, she was the most beautiful drow lady he had ever seen. Her skin was as dark as onyx and as radiant as faerie fire, and her bone-white hair fell over her smooth shoulders in a single lustrous wave. She was clad in a trailing gown of what seemed thick black velvet. Her deep red lips parted in a small smile, revealing pearl-white teeth. Most remarkable of all were her eyes. They were purple, just like Drizzt's own. [12]
In Menzoberranzan, if one could get away with a crime without being caught, it was as if the infraction was never committed. Such was the nature of drow justice. [Epilogue]

A Slow Day In Skullport (1358 DR)
By Ed Greenwood
Xuzoun was old even as beholders go, but to its kind there comes a time when the patience of long years and cold cunning runs out. . . and for Xuzoun, that time had come. A long, cold time ago, the Phaerimm had come, and the city of Ooltul had fallen. Beholders had been rent and hurled down its labyrinthine passages in spell-bursts until their gore-drenched husks choked the very avenues of the City of Tyrants. Ooltul had once bent purple worms and illithids alike into mind-thralled guardians, cut new passages and chambers out of solid rock with melting ease, and casually slaughtered drow war bands and whelmed dark elven armies alike, whenever they appeared. It had been the city of Xuzoun's birth. The beholder could still scarce believe it had fallen, even after a slow eternity of fleeing across the lightless Underdark from the relentless Phaerimm, to come at last to fabled Skullport, the Source of Slaves, the most famous of the places Where the World Above Met the World Below. ..
a certain passage has its birth at an archway surmounted by a smiling, reclining stone nymph. The carving lacks the unearthly and deadly beauty of the real creature it represents, but is still strikingly attractive, and word of it has spread over the years. Some folk even believe it represents a goddess-perhaps Sune, the firehaired lady of love-and bow to it or pray before it... and who is to say they're wrong? There is certainly more to the statue than its lifelike beauty. Everyone who has attempted in earnest to dislodge it and carry it away has been found dead-in small, torn pieces-in the room before the arch. The bloodstained chisel one of them let fall has now been left behind as a mute warning to enthusiasts of portable sculpture who may happen upon the chamber of the arch in the future. what lies beyond the arch. A simple, smooth-walled passage, to be sure (so much can readily be seen by someone looking at the nymph). But for some reason, few walk far along this way. Those who do will find that the passage soon narrows, descends sharply, and becomes a rough tunnel hewn through damp rock. In several places, the ceaseless murmur of echoes fill this route: fading but never silent remnants of distant cacophony that seems to involve loud speech ... in tongues not understood or identified by even the most careful listener. As the intrigued traveller moves on, the grinning bones of human adventurers and larger, snakelike things adorn the deepening way, and pits begin to occur. Above several of these deadly shafts, palely shrouded in cobwebbed bones, hang dark, ancient tree trunks that end in sharp points. Years have passed since they fell like fangs to impale victims who are now mere twisted tangles of bone and sinew, dangling silently, their lifeblood spilled long ago. Any intruder who presses on past the area of pits- and manages to avoid personally discovering new ones-will soon meet the endless gaze of a skull taller than most men. A giant's head goggles down the passage, its empty sockets eerily lit by the glowworms that dwell within. Their faint, slowly ambulating radiances show what dealt death to the giant, waiting in the dimness just beyond: a boulder almost as large as the riven skull, bristling with rusted metal spikes as long as most men stand tall. The bands that gird the stone about and clasp its massive swing chain are still strong. The many-spiked boulder hangs in the passage like a waiting beholder, almost blocking the way, swinging slightly from time to time in response to distant tremors and breezes of the depths. A bold intruder will soon come to a place where a band of glowstone crosses the ceiling of the rough-hewn way, casting faint, endless ruby light down on an old, comfortable-looking armchair and footstool. These stout, welcoming pieces stand together in an alcove, flanked by a little side table littered with old and yellowed books-lurid tales of adventure, mostly, with a few tomes of the "lusty wizard" genre-and a bookmark made of a long lock of knotted and berib-boned human hair. A fortunate intruder will find the chair empty, and wonder forever how it came to be there, and who uses it. An unlucky explorer, or one rash enough to take or damage any of the items, will soon learn that it is one of the retreats of a certain old and mad wizard known as Halaster, called by some the Lord of Undermountain. Only he can call into Faerun the ghostly ring of floating, skeletal liches that surround the chair, which hurl spells at those who offer him violence. The fortunate visitor who found the alcove empty and lived to walk on would soon find a stretch of passage where human bones drift and whirl endlessly, awaiting a living foe to rake and bludgeon. These bones circle with a slow patience that stirs into deadly hunger when an intruder comes within their reach. Beyond the bones the passage turns to the right and comes to its end in a vast emptiness-a cavern large enough to hold some cities of the world above. ... A cavern where many eyes now blinked again, as a point of light winked into sudden life in the darkness. The light pulsed, whirled about in a frenzied dance, and grew swiftly larger, blazing up into the bright, floating image of... a human woman, all long silken hair, liquid grace, fine attire, and dark, darting eyes. The deep chuckle came again, and its source drifted close to the life-sized glowing phantom, peering with many eyes at the vision. "Let us begin," a deep voice rumbled in tones of triumph, and a thing of dusty tentacles and flowing flesh rose almost wearily from the rocks of the cavern floor to approach the image. As it came, its tentacles fell back into a melting bulk that rose up, thinned, and shaped itself with frightening speed into a twin of the phantom lady. Above the glowing image and the shapeshifting thing, the many eyes watched critically as one strove to match the other .. . many eyes on restless, snakelike stalks belonging to a sphere split by a broad, jagged mouth of myriad teeth. A huge, lone central orb in the floating sphere gleamed with excitement, and a deep rumble of satisfaction rolled around the cavern.
Nythyx Thunderstaff, the daughter of Durnan's old friend Anadul, who was brother to Baerom, head of the noble House of Thunderstaff. She is one of the few that knows Durnan is Lord of Waterdeep. Nythyx is also a slaver who was working with Xuzoun. Unscrupulous nobles would go to her for slaves.
Xuzoun intends to use a doppelganger to imitate Nythyx and lure Durnan. Xuzoun wants to become Durnan and one of the Lords of Waterdeep, he intends to steal his mind and take over his body (how????)
Dantymer's Dew, 1336. Elixir of Evermeet. Wine vintages
Best Belaerd, black liquorice whiskey from far Sheirtalar, increasingly popular
Old Engult cast proper spells, enchantments to last, not fade and . . . die, he cast enchantments on the Yawning Portal. Engult died a tenday ago.
And a dozen dragons I slew there! – an old battle song
Durnan’s many trophies of his swordswinging days: that lich periapt glimmering over there, where he'd hung it up as a lamp; this pair of ore-tusks, from the only giant orc he'd ever met-well, if he'd lost that fight, it would've been the only giant orc he'd ever meet; and the swords of fallen foes, seized from lifeless, bloody hands on battlefields, or carried off as prizes from spectre-haunted tombs and dragon hoards. A score or more blades hung here, there, and everywhere about him, the pale gleams of their slowly failing enchantments marking the walls of these dusty chambers and anchoring his expensive web of spell wards
Durnan’s sword, the long, heavy broadsword that had come from a tomb in a frozen, nameless vale somewhere north of Silverymoon, one desperate day when he'd been fleeing a band of orcs. He'd hewn his way across half the northlands with it, and then from deck to pirate deck up and down the Sword Coast
Durnan’s ring, plain ring on the middle finger of his left hand. A tiny pinwheel of silver motes arose to silently circle the ring; he bent over the swiftly fading, rushing radiances and whispered, "Gone into Undermountain to rescue Nythyx Thunderstaff, old friend; I may need help”. Allows Durnan to communicate with Mirt.
Transtra's flame-red hair and beautiful, unclad upper body remained unchanged; the string of rubies she wore still winked between her breasts. Below her slim waist, however, the scales melted away, and her tail shrank into long human legs. Mirt stepped firmly forward between them, the magic that protected him from her touch flaring into life, and swept her into an amorous embrace just as a splintering crash heralded the collapse of the door. Business partner of Mirt. Lives in Skullport. Lamia noble. Transtra was apt to be cruel when his more lusty thoughts became apparent. . . and her cruelty often reached its climax in enthusiastic floggings with well-salted whips
Bindle's Blade, the newest tankard house in Skullport with private escort rooms at the top
A recent venture in Skullport were guide torches, which could be hired for an evening and were carried about wherever one willed by floating, disembodied skeletal hands.
Amberjack, an alcoholic drink
Mirt the Moneylender, fat, aging Harper and Lord of Waterdeep. the Wheezing Warrior
House of the Long Slow Kiss in Skullport, Mirt has a hidden staircase running up the side of the building leading to one of his homes. Mirt is served by Hlardas.
Herle, guardsman of Waterdeep
Xuzoun is using magic to watch Shandril Shessair. He wants to acquire spellfire for himself.
Halaster said of Elminster - "What little sanity I have I owe to him," Halaster replied, "and I respect him for his mastery of magic- and his compassion-more than any other living mage. Yet, for what he did to me . . . what he had to do to me ... I bear him no great love."
Durnan has a secret passage in the Yawning Portal that leads into a room in Undermountain.
Durnan’s bracers protect him from non-magical missiles.
The passage in front of him formed the only link between the warren of rooms around his cellars and the rest of Undermountain. It was always a place to watch warily for oozes, slimes, and other silent, hard-to-see creeping things.
Once the brazen, impudent band of adventurers he and Mirt had led together had been the toast of Waterdeep, and a common headache of honest merchants up and down the Sword Coast-the heroes of impudent tales that men roared at in half a hundred taverns. The years had passed, though, and such things had faded ... as, he supposed, they always did. All that was left of those times were some happy memories, the deep trust they yet shared, and the linked message rings all of the Four still wore. Durnan saw Mirt and Asper often, but Randal Morn was off fighting in the distant hold of Daggerdale, to keep his rightful rule over that fair land. And the ranger, Florin Falconhand, who'd stood in for Asper on a foray or three, was a Knight of Myth Drannor these days, and seldom seen on the Sword Coast. There were even whispers that he'd spent time in Evermeet recently.
Torthan, Transtra’s slave
Ulisss, a behir in service to Transtra, she has it imprisoned behind a gate and a web of spells to control it. She order Ulisss to watch Mirt
Yloebre and Iraeghlee. They are influencing Xuzoun through a brain node (what is that???) linked to Iraeghlee. The brain node was eaten by something (what, a servant of the illithids????) that was then eaten by Xuzoun and has been growing inside his brain. Xuzoun is unaware of its presence. Yloebre and Iraeghlee operate in a small chamber very well warded and defended by teleport traps located underneath the Blushing Bride’s Burial Pit.
Duiruin, a drink of black wine with luminous golden bubbles in it. Has undead worms in the bottom that endlessly writhe to keep the oily black wine from turning into syrup.
Phaerimm, known as the Merciless Ones
The Blushing Bride's Burial Pit, in southern Skullport, a gambling house.
Yloebre and Iraeghlee are slain by Halaster for meddling.
Source of Slaves, a narrow and noisome alley in Skullport
Hoelorton's Hands, a band of slayers for hire, known to be deft with slings. Ilbarth, Aldon members of the band
Mirt has a battered metal chevron that can be commanded to produce a whirlwind of a hundred swords (blade barrier????)
the blue pinwheel that marked the appearance of someone using an old catch-teleport spell
Durnan has a dagger with a gem in the pommel that is enspelled with a spellshatter (like dispel magic????)
The leap from the end of a little-known tunnel-which wound down through the heart of Mount Waterdeep to end in a sheer drop, high in the ceiling of the cavern that held most of Skullport-down to the dark roofs below was always a throat-tightening thing. (there is a tunnel going straight from Mount Waterdeep down to Skullport????)
Bloodtusks, an orc term of respect.
Skulkans, people of Skullport.
A giant among its own kind and armed with spells that they lacked, magic enough to overmatch many a human mage, Xuzoun had been contemptuously overconfident. It was always a mistake with humans, he vaguely remembered an older tyrant telling him once. (beholders can repair the loss of eye stalks????)
Xuzoun was slain by Ulisss, but at the moment of his death a crystal sphere appeared next to him and crumbled to dust (did he escape????). Nythyx Thunderstaff then appeared and tried to slay Durnan, Mirt, and Asper using netherese blast sceptres but was captured by Durnan.
Spider-silk Lane in Skullport
Asper stuck her tongue out in eloquent reply, and made the spitting-to-the-side mime that young Waterdhavian ladies use to signal disgust or emphatic disapproval.
ALDON: The strongest and most slow-witted of a trio of human thieves who style themselves the Masked Mayhem, Aldon and his comrades hold absolute rule [ over about six yards' worth of two alleys in Skullport.
ASPER: The onetime ward of Mirt the Moneylender, I who rescued her as a young child from the ruins of a burning city, Asper has become his ladylove, sword companion, and (all too often) rescuer. A deadly, acrobatic swordswoman, she was the real brains of the stalwart adventuring band known as the Four-and is now I one of the real brains among the Lords of Waterdeep. I Mirt loves her more than life itself-and several score I of city guardsmen dream of her kisses ... in vain, of J course (sigh).
DURNAN: This laconic, unruffled, weather-beaten I man is well known in Waterdeep as the master of the Yawning Portal, that famous tavern whose taproom holds the entrance to the vast and deep dungeon of Undermountain. Durnan's thews, fearless manner, and cool handling of belligerent adventurers have won him admiring glances from young ladies. Few, however, know that this burly philosopher was once an adventurer, whose blade let sunlight into the innards of more monsters of Faerun than several dozen chartered adventuring companies combined. A onetime member of the Four, Durnan is now one of the most practical and widely-respected father figures in the city-and in secret (oops), one of the most capable Lords of Waterdeep.
ELMINSTER: Known as "the Old Mage" to a generation, and the Sage of Shadowdale to the overly-formal, this white-haired, impressively bearded old rogue should need no introduction to Faerunians. One of the Chosen of Mystra, he is an archmage mighty enough to make more than one world tremble-and he paid me handsomely to say this, too.
HALASTER BLACKCLOAK: A legendary villain in Waterdeep, "the Mad Mage" is a lurking figure used to frighten children into good behavior. Not a few of them down the decades have had nightmares about the sinister Lord of Undermountain, whose very gaze can kill, who skulks the cellars and dark dungeon passages beneath the city, and hurls spells with crazed brilliance, slaughtering beholders, rending dragons . .. and sending bouquets of flowers walking up to startled young Waterdhavian ladies at their coming-out revels.
HERLE: "Best Blade" of the Black Falcon Patrol of the City Guard of Waterdeep, Herle is a tall, courteous man-deadly with a sword and with his flashing eyes and skillful tongue. Ask any noble Waterdhavian lady he's been assigned to escort-when you're out of earshot of her husband.
ILBARTH: This quick-tongued leader is the master strategist of the Masked Mayhem thieving band of Skullport. Ilbarth is one of those lovable rogues who's almost as handsome as he thinks he is, knows folk almost as well as he thinks he does, and with much luck might avoid his grave for a season or two longer. Place no bets on this.
IRAEGHLEE: This illithid (mind flayer, of that mauve-skinned, mouth-tentacled race who like to suck; out the brains of humans who have any) might have had a longer career of manipulation and multifold intrigue if his arrogance had been a trifle weaker, and' his foresight a trifle strongerflaws not unknown, I fear, to many human mages and adventurers.
LAERAL ARUNSUN SILVERHAND: The Lady Mage of Waterdeep is consort to the famous Khelben "Blackstaff" Arunsun (Lord Mage of Waterdeep), who rescued her from the fell artifact known as the Crown of Horns. Laeral is one of the Chosen of Mystra and one of the Seven Sisters watched over by Elminster. She serves as the understanding, worldly representative of the Lords of Waterdeep in Skullport (often in disguise), and was once the leader of an adventuring group known as the Nine. Her grace and beauty are outstripped only by her mastery of magic.
MIRT: It is untrue to say that Mirt the Moneylender outmasses a horse. A pony, now .. . This shrewd, grasping, sarcastic old rogue is beloved by all who don't owe him money. He is sometimes called "the Wheezing Warrior" by those too young to remember his days as Mirt the Merciless, a mercenary general feared from the quays of Calimport to the stony gates of Mirabar. Later he was the Old Wolf, canniest of all the pirate captains to plunder the Sword Coast. These days, he must content himself merely with being a senior Harper, a not-so-secret Lord of Waterdeep, and the city's busiest critic of newly opened taverns and houses of revelry.
NYTHYX THUNDERSTAFF: One of the young, pretty, and ruthless noble ladies with which Waterdeep abounds, Nythyx is a daughter of Anadul Thunder staff, an old friend of Durnan. While he lived, Anadul was brother to Baerom, head of the noble House of Thunderstaff. Nythyx has a taste for danger, feeling important, wielding power, and indulging in cruelties. She may well wind up ruling the city someday . . . if she doesn't get trampled in the rush of all the other young beauties of similar tastes and skills. Watch her; if you keep hidden, the entertainment's free.
SHANDRIL SHESSAIR: This young, heart-strong lass is pursued by half of Faerun (the evil, magic-wielding half) because she happens to possess the rare and awesome power of spellfire, with which she may someday just reshape the world ... if she survives the almost daily attacks of those who want her spellfire, that is.
TORTHAN: A human male slave of the Lady Transtra, Torthan worships his mistress almost as much as he fears her. His tale is a sad one to date, but is a long way from ended. "Torthan's lineage will surprise some, when at last 'tis revealed" (or so Elminster has said, in what I believe was an unguarded moment).
TRANSTRA: This cruel, worldly-wise lamia noble belongs to that deadly race of man-eating creatures. A slaver of some prominence in Skullport, "Lady" Transtra is a sometime business associate of Mirt. . . and of some far more unsavory folk who thankfully don't appear in this tale.
ULISSS: A behir bonded to Transtra, Ulisss is one of a race of reptilian, snakelike carnivores that have many legs, can spit lightning, and devour many unwanted warriors and adventurers. Hatred and love for Transtra war within Ulisss; they both know that hatred will win out some day ... in the form of a treachery that Ulisss fears Transtra is all too ready for.
VOUNDARRA: This young sorceress is met only briefly, on her helpless flight down an alley in Skullport to an unwanted meeting with Vulharindauloth. The spell that sent her on that journey, and the one who cast it, are secrets to be revealed elsewhere and else-when ... as is Voundarra's fate.
VULHARINDAULOTH: A gigantic elder black dragon, Vulharindauloth is peacefully asleep in a wall of the cavern that holds the corner of Skullport we visit ... or at least, is peacefully asleep until the dying moments of this tale (and I do mean dying . . . ). How Vulharindauloth came to be there, and what he'll do in his awakened rage, are matters to be explored at later time-and from a safe distance. On the far side of) Selune, a century from now, perhaps.
XUZOUN: This beholder (eye tyrant) is old enough to know better, but too impatient with skulking not to try to place several mind-controlled dopplegange slaves in the places of Durnan and other important Waterdhavians, so as to set itself up as the true ruler the city. There are graveyards full of folk who've cov eted that position . . . but Xuzoun did keep more of an; eye on things than most of them. (Sorry.)
YLOEBRE: An illithid (mind flayer) and fellow schemer of Iraeghlee, Yloebre shares his business partner's shattering fate. It's possible Yloebre might have a future career-but, knowing Halaster, not likely.
ZARISSA: The second and even more lushly beautiful sorceress we see plunging helplessly through the murky air of that alley in Skullport, Zarissa is on her unwilling way to awaken a black dragon. It's possible we'll learn about the spell that sent her along witl Voundarra, its caster, and Zarissa's fate, in some other tale. And then again-perhaps not.


Rite of Blood (1348 DR)
By Elaine Cunningham
The Twilight Traders, a coalition of merchant captains who did business with the mysterious peoples of the Underdark. There were perhaps six in this exclusive brotherhood, and all were canny, fearless souls who possessed far more ambitions than morals. Membership in this clandestine group was carefully guarded, achieved only through a long and difficult process that was monitored not only by the members, but by mysterious forces from Below. Those who survived the initiation were granted a rare window into the hidden realms: the right to enter the underground trade city known as Mantol-Derith.
An enormous cavern hidden some three miles below the surface, Mantol-Derith was shrouded with more layers of magic and might than a wizard's stronghold. Secrecy was its first line of defense: even in the Underdark, not many knew of the marketplace's existence. Its exact location was known only to a few. Even many of the merchants who regularly did business there would have been hard pressed to place the cavern on a map. So convoluted were the routes leading to Mantol-Derith that even duergar and deep gnomes could not hold their relative bearings along the way. Between the market and any nearby settlement lay labyrinths of monster-infested tunnels complicated by secret doors, portals of teleportation, and magical traps. No one "stumbled upon Mantol-Derith;" a merchant either knew the route intimately or died along the way. Nor could the marketplace be located by magical means. The strange radiations of the Underdark were strong in the thick, solid stone surrounding the cavern. No tendril of magic could pass through-all were either diffused or reflected back to the sender, sometimes dangerously mutated. Thus, any attempt at magical inquiry into the mysteries of Mantol-Derith was fated to end in frustration or tragedy.
In the nearest dark-elven settlement, the great city of Menzoberranzan, no more than eight merchant companies at any one time knew the secret paths. This knowledge was the key to immense wealth and power, and its possession the highest mark of status attainable by members of the merchant class. Accordingly, it was pursued with an avid ferocity, with complex levels of intrigue and bloody battles of weaponry and magic, all of which would probably earn nods of approval from the city's ruling matrons-if indeed the priestesses of Lloth were inclined to take notice of the doings of mere commoners.
Xandra Shobalar, third-born daughter of a noble house, was driven by the most powerful motivating forces known to the drow: hatred and revenge. At the moment, Xandra was farther from home than she had ever intended to go. The journey to Mantol-Derith was long-the midnight hour of Narbondel would come and pass perhaps as many as one hundred times from the outset of her quest until she stood once again within the walls of House Shobalar. Few noble females cared to be away for so long, for fear that they would return to find their positions usurped. Xandra had no such fears. She had ten sisters, five of whom were, like Xandra, counted among the rare female wizards of Menzoberranzan. But none of these five wanted her job.
House Shobalar were reclusive even by the standards of paranoid Menzoberranzan, and they were seldom seen outside of the family complex. The Shobalar wizards were reputed to be among the most innovative in Menzoberranzan, and all of her students were well and thoroughly taught. These included the children-both female and male-of House Shobalar, a few second- and thirdborn sons from other noble houses, which Xandra accepted as apprentices, and a number of promising common-born boy-children that she acquired by purchase, theft, or adoption-an option that usually occurred after the convenient death of an entire family, rendering the magically-gifted child an orphan.
Xandra was Mistress of Magic, charged with the wizardly training of all young Shobalars as well as the household's magically gifted fosterlings. She had a great deal of responsibility, certainly, but there was far more glory to be found in the hoarding of spell power, and in conducting the mysterious experiments that yielded new and wondrous items of magic. If one of the Shobalar wizards should ever have a change of heart and try to wrest the instructor's position away, the powerful Xandra would certainly kill her-but only as a matter of form. No drow female allowed another to take what was hers, even if she herself did not particularly want it.
Xandra's students routinely won top marks in yearly competitions meant to spur the efforts of the young drow. Such victories opened the doors of Sorcere, the mage school at the famed academy Tier Breche. So far every Shobalar-trained student who wished to become a wizard had been admitted to the academy, and most had excelled in the Art.
Almost ten years before, Xandra had acquired a new student, a female of rare wizardly promise. At first, the Shobalar Mistress had been overjoyed, for she saw in the girl-child an opportunity to raise her own reputation to new heights. After all, she had been entrusted with the magical education of Liriel Baenre, the only daughter and apparent heiress of Gromph Baenre, the powerful archmage of Menzoberranzan! If the child proved to be truly gifted-and this was almost a certainty, for why else would the mighty Gromph bother with a child born of a useless beauty such as Sosdrielle Vandree. Gromph's insistence that this arrangement be kept in confidence.
Traditionally, the study of magic began when children entered their Ascharlexten Decade-the tumultuous passage between early childhood and puberty. During these years, which usually began at the age of fifteen or so and were deemed to end either with the onset of puberty or the twenty-fifth year- whichever came first-drow children at last became physically strong enough to begin to channel the forces of wizardly magic, and well-schooled enough to read and write the complicated Drowish language.
Bythnara Shobalar, Xandra’s daughter. Bythnara was twenty-eight and in ripe early adolescence
Xandra Shobalar hated Liriel Baenre because she was so talented and so beautiful.
Mantol-Derith was set in a vast natural grotto, a cavern that had been carved in distant eons by restless waters, which were even now busily at work. Xandra was accustomed to the staid black depths of Menzoberranzan's Lake Donigarten, and the deep, silent wells that were the carefully guarded treasures of each noble household. Here in Mantol-Derith, water was a living and vital force. Indeed, the cavern's dominant sound was that of moving water: waterfalls splashed down the grotto walls and fell from chutes from the high-domed cavern ceiling, fountains played softly in the small pools that seemed to be around every turn, bubbling streams cut through the cavern. Apart from the gentle splash and gurgle that echoed ceaselessly through the grotto, the market city was strangely silent. Mantol Derith was not a bustling bazaar, but a place for clandestine deals, shrewd negotiations. Nor was it particularly crowded. By the best reckoning Xandra could get, there were fewer than two hundred individuals in the entire cavern. The soft murmur of voices and the occasional, muted click of boots upon the gem-crusted paths gave little evidence of even that many inhabitants. Light was far more plentiful than sound. A few dim lanterns were enough to set the whole cavern asparkle, for the walls were encrusted with multicolored crystals and gems. Bright stonework was everywhere: the walls containing fountain pools were wondrous mosaics fashioned from semiprecious gems, the bridges that spanned the stream were carved-or perhaps grown- from crystal, the walkways were paved with flat-cut gemstones. Groves of giant fungi ringed the central market. Beneath the enormous, fluted caps, merchants had set up small stalls offering a variety of goods. Perfumes, aromatic woods, spices, and exotic sweetly scented fruits-which had become a fashionable indulgence to the Underdark's wealthy-added piquant notes of fragrance to the damp air. To Xandra, the strangest thing about this marketplace was the apparent truce that existed among the various warring races who did business here. Mingling among the stalls and passing each other peaceably on the streets were the stone-colored deep gnomes known as svirfneblin; the deep-dwelling, dark-hearted duergar; a few unsavory merchants from the surface worlds; and, of course, the drow. At the four corners of the cavern, vast warehouses had been excavated to provide storage as well as separate housing for the four factions: svirfneblin, drow, duergar, and surface dwellers. Xandra's path took her toward the surface-dweller cavern.
Hadrogh Proh, half drow, the man was old by the measure of humankind, with white hair, a dark and weathered face, and a slow, faltering tread. He had not gone unscathed by his years- a cane aided his faltering steps, and a dark patch covered his left eye. These infirmities did not seem to have dimmed the man's pride or hampered his success; he displayed ample evidence of both. The cane was carved from lustrous wood and ornamented with gems and gilding. Over a silvered tunic of fine silk, he wore a cape embroidered with gold thread and fastened with a diamond neck clasp. Gems the size of laplizard eggs glittered on his fingers and at his throat. Provides exotic slaves from the surface.
There were no shortage of slaves to be had in the Underdark, but the statusconscious dark elves were ever eager to acquire new and unusual possessions, and there was a high demand for servants brought from the Lands of Light. Halfling females were prized as ladies' maids for their deft hands and their skill at weaving, curling, and twisting hair into elaborate works of art. Mountain dwarves, who possessed a finer touch with weapons and jewels than their duergar kin, were considered hard to manage but well worth the trouble it took to keep them. Humans were useful as beasts of burden and as sources of spells and potions unknown Below. Exotic beasts were popular, too. A few of the more ostentatious drow kept them as pets or displayed them in small private zoos. Some of these animals found their way to the arena in the Manyfolks district of Menzoberranzan. There, drow who possessed a taste for vicarious slaughter gathered to watch and wager while dangerous beasts fought each other, slaves of various races, and even drow-soldiers eager to prove their battle prowess or mercenaries who coveted the handful of coins and the fleeting fame that were the survivors' reward.
The Blooding was a uniquely drow ritual, a rite of passage in which young dark elves were required to hunt and kill an intelligent or dangerous creature, preferably one native to the Lands of Light. Surface raids were one means of accomplishing this task, but it was not unusual for these hunts to take place in the tunnels of the wild Underdark, provided suitable captives could be acquired. After returning home, not until the ceremony was she required to give formal proof of her kill, at Narbondel the darkest hour, to her Mistress and mentor, she was required to present the ritual proof.
Captured faeries could will themselves to die, and most did so long before they reached these dark caverns.
low-rent male companions who did business in the Eastmyr district of Menzoberranzan.
An amulet of containment, the collar of gold that tightly encircled the man's neck. "It is a magical shield that keeps the wizard from casting any of the spells he has learned and committed to memory. He can, however, learn and cast new spells.
Tresk Mulander, Red Wizard of Thay, purchased by Xandra Shobalar from Mantol Derith two years ago. The Red Wizard was a necromancer, a powerful member of the Researcher faction-that group of wizards who were content to leave Thay's boundaries as they were and who instead sought ever stronger and more fearsome magics. Utterly devoted to the principles of the Researchers, Mulander was still somewhat of an oddity among his peers, for he was one of a very few highranking wizards whose blood was not solely that of the ruling Mulan race. His father's father had been Rashemi, and his inheritance from his grandsire was a thick, muscled body and a luxuriant crop of facial hair. From his wizard mother had come his talent and ambition, as well as the height and the sallow complexion that were considered marks of nobility in Thay. Mulander's cold, gemlike green eyes and narrow scimitar nose lent him a terrifying aspect, and although he conformed to custom and affected baldness, he was rather vain of the thick, long gray beard that set him apart from the nearly hairless Mulan. In all, he was an imposing man, who carried his sixty winters with ease upon his broad, proud shoulders. He was strong of body and mind and magic; the passing years had only served to thin his graying hair, which he regretted not at all, for it made the daily task of shaving his pate less onerous. the tattoos that covered Mulander's head. As well she should be: each mark was a magical rune that, when activated with the appropriate spell, could transform bits of dead matter into fearsome magical servants. Provide him with a corpse, and he would produce an army. There was no welcome awaiting Mulander in Thay. Mulander had been betrayed by his young apprentice, as he himself had betrayed his own master. Pride had blinded him to treachery once before, and had lured him into a mistake that had condemned him to a sentence of death, a sentence that had been commuted into lifelong slavery.
Matron Mother Hinkutes'nat Alar Shobalar
Princess, the proper formal title for a young female of the First House
drow lineage was traced through the females.
the Darkspires, fanglike formations of black rock.
the handsome captain of the guard, who stood this watch at the gates of the Horlbar compound.
Sosdrielle-who had been a rare beauty, but who lacked both the magical talent and the deadly ambition needed to excel in Menzoberranzan-had doted upon her child and had made Liriel the beloved centre of her world.
Gromph’s home. Carved from the heart of an enormous stalactite, the archmage's private home was reputedly warded about with more magic than any other two wizards in the city could muster between them
a vial of holding. It will capture and store any creature. Capture a drop of the target’s blood within the vial and it becomes trapped inside.
Jarlaxle taught Liriel how to throw knives when she escaped from House Shobalar and visited a tavern.
Drow call a day a darkcycle
Hinkutes'nat was a high priestess of Lloth, as befitted a ruling matron, and she was typical of those who followed the ways of the drow's goddess, the Spider Queen. Her throne room was as grim and forbidding a lair as anything Liriel had ever seen. Shadows were everywhere, for the skulls of many Shobalar victims had been fashioned into faintly glowing lanterns that threw patterns of death upon every surface and cast ghastly purple highlights upon the dark faces assembled before the matron's throne. A large cage stood in the middle of the chamber, ready to receive the prey for the Blooding ceremony. It was surrounded on all four sides by the giant, magically bred spiders that formed the heart of the Shobalar guard. In fact, giant spiders stood guard everywhere- in every corner of the chamber, on each of the steps that led up to the throne dais, even suspended from the chamber's ceiling on long, glistening threads. In all, the throne room was a fit setting for the Shobalar matriarch. Cold and treacherous, the matron resembled a spider holding court in the center of her own web. She wore a black robe upon which webs had been embroidered in silver thread, and the gaze that she turned upon Liriel was as calm and pitiless as that of any arachnid that ever had lived.
a piwafwi, for that uniquely drow cloak was usually worn only by those who had proven themselves by this very ritual, the Blooding.
Mulander was a Researcher, always seeking new magic where lesser men saw only death. Moldering corpses, even the offal of the slaughterhouse, could be used to create wondrous and fearsome creatures utterly under his control. But his strangest and most secret creation was waiting to be unleased. In a bit of unliving flesh-a tiny dark mole that clung to his body by the thinnest tendril of skin, he had stored a creature of great power. To bring it into existence, he had only to make that final separation from his living body. The wizard worked his thumb and forefinger beneath the golden collar. Ironically, the enspelled mole was hidden beneath the magical fetter! Mulander twisted off the bit of flesh, reveling in the sharp stab of pain-for such was a miniature death, and death was the ultimate source of his power. He tossed the tiny mole to the cavern floor and watched with sharp anticipation as the contained monster took shape. Many of the Red Wizards could create darkenbeasts: fearsome flying creatures made by twisting the bodies of living animals into magical atrocities. Mulander had gone one better. The creature that rose up before him had been fashioned from his own flesh and his own nightmares. Mulander had begun with the most dreadful thing he knew-a replica of his long-dead wizard mother-and added to it enormous size and the deadliest features of every predator that ever had haunted his dreams. The tattered, batlike wings of an abyssal denizen sprouted from the creature's shoulders, and a raptor's talons curved from its human hands. The thing had vampiric fangs, the haunches and hind legs of a dire wolf, and a wyvern's poisoned tail. Plates of dragonlike armor-in Red Wizard crimson, of course-covered its feminine torso. Only the eyes, the same hard green as his own, had been left untouched.
Liriel hid Tresk Mulandor in the vial of holding and released him at the Blooding ceremony, choosing Xandra Shobalar to be the method by which Tresk was slain. She was declared a true drow.
a noble female of House Baenre, she was never to bow to a drow of lesser rank.
gently cupped the older drow's chin-a rare gesture that was occasionally used to comfort or caress a child, or, more often, to capture the child's attention before dictating terms.
Narbondellyn district


Sea of Ghosts (Unknown)
By Roger E Moore
The River Raurogh (deep beneath the Eastern Shaar) named by dwarves who, over long centuries, had mapped its dark twists and turns, the channel descended through layer after layer of stone at a steady pace toward an unknown end. A Deepfall lies at the known end of the River Raurogh the River Raurogh here opened into a titanic domed chamber splashed in scarlet and ocher hues. A thousand long stalactites and glittering mineral curtains hung from the dome like diamond chandeliers in an emperor's palace. The ancient silo, well over two hundred feet across, dropped away into nothingness. No sounds arose from the black depths to indicate that the cascade had found its bottom.
a hundred dwarves migrated from the crowded caverns of Glitterdelve, discontent with local taxes, and chiseled out new homes near the great shaft's dome. Coarsely woven nets strung across the river caught blind fish and crustaceans for the dwarves' food. Wastes and offal were cast into side passages where edible fungi and molds for potions were cultivated. Magical lights of golden hue soon filled the colony of Raurogh's Hall, as the cave village came to be known, though all light was carefully shielded from the silo's top to avoid alerting anything living far down the falls. The surrounding rock was solid, local predators were quickly dispatched, and the river's bounty was endless. Life was good for seventeen years and a hundred twelve days.
Wykar the svirfneblin. Enslaved by the drow, where he met Geppo. Wykar had been imprisoned with Geppo for over two hundred sleepings, not long in a deep gnome's life but long enough to become familiar with most of the derro's personal quirks. Geppo's quirks hinted that he was not a normal derro. Wykar was captured near the Sea of Ghosts by drow (is a svirfneblin community nearby????). Wykar is an orphan, the svirfneblin community is miles and miles away from the drow. Wykar created several caches of weapons and equipment before he was captured (why?????)
Geppo the derro. Skin as white and dirty as a toadstool cap, Geppo could easily pass for a true dwarfs corpse in his sleep. The orbs of his large, milky eyes each showed only a black dot for a pupil, little holes in moist white stones. His emaciated face was framed by long, matted hair of a filthy sulfur hue. An unkempt beard and mustache hid his sunken cheeks and narrow lower jaw. Long, hard-lived enslavement by the drow. Geppo seemed to enjoy fungus of any sort, though. The drow had fed him nothing else. A fun-loving young drow had tried to strangle him as a joke, using a long, thin metal wire, the wounds may not have healed. Wykar had been imprisoned with Geppo for over two hundred sleepings, not long in a deep gnome's life but long enough to become familiar with most of the derro's personal quirks. Geppo's quirks hinted that he was not a normal derro. Geppo never lied. He exaggerated a bit at times, but he never lied. Geppo was also rather talkative, even after the drow youth tried to garrote him, going on about how hungry he was, what his father would have done with these drow, or his beliefs about the personal habits of the drow priestess who owned both Wykar and Geppo. Most strangely for a derro, Geppo had never threatened Wykar with anything more than words when they grabbed at the rotting scraps tossed into their cramped stone prison by their priestess-owner. Geppo had reserved violence only until the moment their escape was within reach; even then, it was directed only at his captors. Geppo was born without magic so his clan sold him.
faint blue light from the glowfan fungi. Many species of it were poisonous.
Derro were so befouled with greed and ambition that no one expected anything good from them.
Every hero needs a fool – Underdark saying
bapda - derro word for father
gorin – derro word for oath
hooret – derro word for poison.
Seventeen years and a hundred twelve days passed under the golden lights of Raurogh's Hall, far above the gnome and derro, and peace was at an end.
The Sea of Ghosts, a small drow enclave is 3 days walk from it. The ever-present fog on the Sea of Ghosts usually clung to the surface of the black underground lake, rarely traveling inland. Wykar had heard tales that the thick mist came from a broad silo in the ceiling over the center of the sea, perhaps a mile away. A river or lake far above apparently drained into the silo, perhaps as far up as the world's true surface. The vast quantities of water turned into a heavy spray over the long fall. The kuo-toa were said to enjoy the cool fog there, and sometimes things from above fell into the sea and were swiftly taken as treasure or food.
The garden of glowing fungi, accessible only by the Old River Path, near the Sea of Ghosts.
The Old River Path. The wide hall had held a river many thousands of sleepings ago, but some race had rechannelled the water miles back to form the Sea of Ghosts. Many kingdoms, wars, and slaughters later, someone else had channelled the water away from the great sea, and the sea had slowly drained ever since then through cracks in its bed or walls. The creation of the Sea of Ghosts had brought the wicked kuo-toa, the two-legged fish-folk, and their presence had discouraged traffic along the Old River Path and its surrounding region
a hotstone from inside a thick side pouch. He held the hotstone aloft, testing it. The heat radiation from the magical stone reflected brightly from the surrounding rocks.
The eyes of derros, Wykar had heard, were poorly adapted to seeing heat; their visual range for that was as far as a child could pitch a pebble.
The ceiling of Raurogh’s Hold broke off and dropped into the Sea of Ghosts far below (Lower or Middle Dark????). The rockfall caused a tsunami. The whole event may have been caused by an earthquake.
The Red Shore, rocky shore swung inland away from the sea, perhaps two hundred yards or more, to end in a high wall marked by several vertical rifts from floor to ceiling. The red-purple glow came from a large colony of wall fungus, many yards square, that coated both sides of a broad, wet fissure large enough for a group of drow to gather inside. An underground stream leaking down from above kept the area moist.
Deriander drow wizard, Sarlaena drow priestess, Xerzanein drow. Slain by Geppo and Wykar when they escaped. They were burying a chest and a strange egg.
sometimes there was no other way out but through – svirfneblin saying
Almost half the population of Raurogh’s Hold was killed in the rock fall. The chasm is 165 seconds deep.
Derro eat the glowfan fungi because it makes them poisonous to anything that tries to eat the derro.
The egg hatched in water, inside was a tentacled monster with 3 eyes (aboleth or froghemoth have 3 eyes and are amphibious????)


Volo Does Menzo (Unknown)
By Brian M Thompson
Traitor Pick's, one of Skullport's grimier and grimmer grog-and-grub spots.
Percival Gallard Woodehous, efficient waiter and cook at the Traitor Pick’s. Commonly referred to as Pig. Initially trained in Suzail, moved to Waterdeep as a contractor. Took a job at the Shipmaster’s Hall but got fired. Is now 1.5 years through a 3 year employment with Denver Gilliam working in the Traitor Pick’s.
Shipmaster's Hall in Waterdeep, a private inn and supper club that catered to the upper crust of the sailing community.
Knytro, dwarf, in Skullport, frequents the Traitor Pick’s. Been in Skullport for 50 years.
Denver Gilliam-a former seaman and, by his own reckoning, a veteran of one shipwreck too many-had recently struck it rich and bought out a block of taverns in the dock district of the City of Splendors. After the buyout, the taverns each maintained a distinctive ambience; even the Lords of Waterdeep couldn't tell they had a single owner, despite the fact that the establishments stood side by side on both sides of the street. (The few patrons who were in the know had nicknamed the block "Gilliam's Aisle.")
Gentleman's Groggery, tavern. The niceties at the Double G (as the locals called it) were scant, true, but the food was at least digestible, the service less than threatening. Wurlitzer the orc bartender lived in Skullport his whole life.
Flagon and the Dragon, new tavern.
Malix, illithid, visits the Traitor Pick’s
Courun and Haukun of House Salato, drow exiled from Menzoberranzan for being useless males, they didn’t capture anyone on a surface raid and broken spider webs were found on their shoes (actually they were going to be enslaved or slain but fled), currently living in Skullport. Have been exiled for over 100 years (before Drizzt and the fall of House Do’Urden).
Araurikaurak – dwarven word Great Pillar Cavern
House Salato was wiped out over a century ago after an unsuccessful bid for power.
Necromancer gems are wonderful travelers' aids. Large ones act as temporary portals, such as the one I left here when our journey began, and the one I carried with me. Smaller ones, on the other hand, ; can be ground into a dust that will leave a luminescent I trail that is only visible to the eye of a trained mage.




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Gary Dallison
Great Reader

United Kingdom
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Posted - 07 Sep 2022 :  21:25:37  Show Profile Send Gary Dallison a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Reading Sword Play now. Its not the greatest, and far too real worldish or stolen from other settings (Palantir).

But it does raise some interesting points.

This novel is set around 700 DR apparently and already we have talk of phaerimm and lifedrain spells.

Crucially though the lifedrain spells appear to be causing only wheat to be nutritionally empty. This shows that life drain spells do not cause desertification, at least not immediately.

THe phaerimm says that the magic feeds itself and spreads. This implies it operates on a feedback loop with the lifedrain growing and spreading like a disease. Which means that the desertification could be an end stage effect of the lifedrain magic, something that only happens after several decades when the magic has taken all life from an area thus leaving only dust.

The phaerimm also mention magic storms. I'm not aware of any other mention of magic storms in netheril's time. I wonder if these storms are not entirely present on the material plane. The phaerimm it would seem actually lair in another plane entirely.

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Wooly Rupert
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Posted - 08 Sep 2022 :  00:01:45  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Gary Dallison


Crucially though the lifedrain spells appear to be causing only wheat to be nutritionally empty. This shows that life drain spells do not cause desertification, at least not immediately.



The spell has been described in a couple of 2E sources. You're correct, it doesn't cause desertification -- it removes liquid from an area. As pointed out in a previous discussion, the spells aren't necessarily in effect, anymore -- but once the desert conditions were created on a large enough scale, weather patterns had shifted and the desert conditions were able to persist without magic.

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George Krashos
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Posted - 08 Sep 2022 :  05:58:30  Show Profile Send George Krashos a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Gary Dallison


This novel is set around 700 DR apparently and already we have talk of phaerimm and lifedrain spells.



Is this a typo on your part?

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Gary Dallison
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Posted - 08 Sep 2022 :  07:11:13  Show Profile Send Gary Dallison a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Yes, it should read -700 dr according to the wiki, although I'm not sure why that date ay the moment.

Back to the life drain spell.

I'm afraid the information in the novel doesnt work with the spell and its effects.

Wheat is a relatively drought tolerant plant. In response to drought the plant grows less and produces less kernels. It doesnt produce empty kernels. Empty kernels are specifically caused by disease, insects, heat, and cold.

So if lifedrain specifically drained water it would not have the effect on wheat noted in the story. Moreover the story notes that all of Lady Polaros' estates are affected which is a huge land area, therefore there would be other notable effects including the death of many other less drought tolerant plants etc, changes in soil, etc.

I'm not saying the lifedrain spell doesnt drain water (badly designed as it is we are stuck with it), I'm saying that the spell has been dramatised for combat effect and has focused only on the late stages.
In early stages the spell would have to literally drain life energy, how else could it target the young and immature kernels of wheat (which would be the smallest and most vulnerable forms of life (after bacteria) and least able to cope with a drain of life energy.

After that I'm guessing larger animals get sick and begin to move away. Then once all living things are drained it starts to suck away the water. Then we have dedication and desertification.

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Edited by - Gary Dallison on 08 Sep 2022 07:13:08
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Wooly Rupert
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Posted - 08 Sep 2022 :  11:10:39  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
That's not bad spell design, that's poor novel writing.

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Gary Dallison
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Posted - 08 Sep 2022 :  11:13:27  Show Profile Send Gary Dallison a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Possibly, but the rules are not the setting, they are meant to allow for simulated play within the setting. The novels are the events within the setting and in this case the rules do not match the setting.

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Wooly Rupert
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Posted - 08 Sep 2022 :  12:20:05  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Gary Dallison

Possibly, but the rules are not the setting, they are meant to allow for simulated play within the setting. The novels are the events within the setting and in this case the rules do not match the setting.



No, it's a poorly-written novel that does not match the source material. The author failing to read, or deciding to creatively alter, a previously-published spell description does not mean there's an issue with the spell.

There are a lot of things in the fiction -- like damn near everything about Lord Ginsu -- that don't match the rules. That doesn't mean there's a problem with the rules.

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Gary Dallison
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Posted - 08 Sep 2022 :  18:35:16  Show Profile Send Gary Dallison a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Having a few issues with the geography in this novel. I wonder if the author ever looked at the Netheril Boxed Set, or perhaps the novel was written before the boxed set was finished.


So the novel starts near the Barren Mountains and the protagonist heads east from there where he is monitored by the arcanists of Delia who are hovering overhead (proved by them throwing items off the enclave and it landing next to the protagonist).

The novel talks about Delia owning vast tracts of land and a few frontier cities and villages. The frontiers of course being the very western edges of the empire. The names of these settlements are not found in the Netheril boxed set.

Buuut, it keeps having the heroes trek east towards their goals and the One-King who is creating an army of orcs and humans. East is towards the central power of Netheril and it seems very unlikely that someone would be able to create a petty kingdom within Netheril's borders at this time.

Then there is Delia, which has a location noted in the Netheril boxed set as being in the Border Forest near to Cormanthor.



The geography doesnt work. Now, my initial thoughts are that keep it set in the Barren Mountains and exchange all mentions of east for west. We know that Netheril had established settlements in the Savage Frontier, and orcs and petty kingdoms are more likely to operate on the borders of the empire (not the centre). Then there is just the problem of Delia, but that can be solved somewhat by Lady Polaris' love of adventuring which it says she did on the frontiers of Netheril. So at this time Lady Polaris flew her enclave across the empire and used it as a base for her adventuring in the Savage Frontier and Western Heartlands (which makes more sense if she truly found magic of the Creator Races - the sarrukh - as they operated out of these regions).

So in short. Geography is broken, swap east for west, and move Delia to the Rengarth Ancestral lands for a few decades.

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