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 Understanding why Myth Drannor fell
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Asjo
Acolyte

Denmark
2 Posts

Posted - 24 Mar 2024 :  16:22:55  Show Profile Send Asjo a Private Message  Reply with Quote  Delete Topic
The questions of why the elves lost and which circumstances allowed the event

I was listening to the audiobook for "The Lost Library of Cormanthyr", and came to think about the events of the The Weeping War, which brought about the original fall of Myth Drannor. One of the other books of the Forgotten Realms - possibly the one where Elminster goes to Myth Drannor - describes a scene from the end of The Weeping War, where the elves were trying to escape as all hope was lost. In that scene, I understood why the elves were losing, since they were facing endless hordes and many powerful fiends, and were simply being overrun. However, it was a long process to get to that point, and given how well others have dealt with yugoloths, I am surprised that the extremely powerful elves, with their potent magic, weren't able to stop events from getting to that point.

Furthermore, I'm trying to understand if these events couldn't easily repeat themselves. We've seen, most clearly in the Menzoberranzan conflicts, how quickly big armies of demons from the Abyss can be summoned to fight for a cause. The ranks of fiends from the lower planes (Abyss/Nine Hells/outer planes) seem endless, and I would guess that, theoretically, there are millions of fiends that could be summoned to fight for a cause on Faerun. Even if they are defeated, they are simply banished for a hundred years (at least as far as demons go), and thus any depleted ranks could be replenished over time. The main factor that seem to be stopping this are the conflicts always going on in these other realms/planes and the interests of the fiend lords that might not involve any big conflicts in Faerun, despite however much they enjoy rampaging and killing.

The details of the events – The Weeping War

Three greater necaloths (the lesser among of the leaders of yugoloths) are summoned by a netherese archwizard as a distraction for the elves in his hunt for the nether scrolls in Cormanthor. They raze several elven villages, seeming unstoppably, but end up imprisoned in Cormanthor, after being defeated by the elves, who lay a trap for them. After 1800 years of imprisonment, they happen to be released in 708 DR. They seek vengeance against the elves, and spend until 711 DR gathering an army (known as "Army of Darkness"), which at its pinnacle holds 60.000 members, a mix of goblinkin and yugoloths (powerful fiends from the outer planes, who acts as mercenaries in the conflict between demons and devils). No exact numbers are given, but given the army composition, as many as 5.000 yugoloths could have been part of the army, although my guess would be that it was 2.000 – 3.000 at most.

This "Army of Darkness" faces the elves of Myth Drannor as well as a smaller number of allies (Harpers, War Wizards of Cormyr and men of the Dales). I cannot find any numbers regarding the inhabitants of Myth Drannor at this time. I would venture that it's likely as many 10.000. In the event where Elminster and a lot of other mages recreated Myth Drannor and its citizens as it was before the weeping war, I think it only have 4.000 - 5.000 inhabitants. I'm not sure that event is canon, though. In history of The Weeping War, it is detailed during the final siege of Myth Drannor, shortly before its fall, it only had 3.000 defenders left, both elves and their allies. Before that siege happened, most of the powerful wizards of Myth Drannor had already been defeated. By 714 DR, the city was overrun and The Weeping War was over. Many thousands of the attackers were destroyed, including their three nycaloth commanders, but the attacking forces still ran rampant, transforming from a disciplined army into a rampaging horde.

Possible reasons for why it won't happen again and why the elves were defeated

As I understand it, at the point where Myth Drannor was overrun, it was not at its absolute peak. It was in a slight decline, pressured by the growing human kingdoms around it and it experienced internal turmoil (disagreements about how to deal with the humans), which probably caused some elves seeking other homes. It didn’t house as many great mages as in the past, although those that lived there likely still possessed the strongest magic present in Faerun at the time.

My impression is that the powerful mages in Faerun could quite comfortably defeat three greater nycaloths. Even if these are powerful opponents, the 150 books in Forgotten Realms that I’ve read/listened to so far have shown me that the greatest of mages always have a way to defeat powerful fiends. The most powerful ones, generals like balors, seem to be a big challenge, but anything lesser seems doable. It was clear that without the three intelligent leaders, the army would practically be headless, and at the point where they started confronting the elves, the host was only 3.000 strong (after gathering its forces for 18 months). Therefore, my only conclusion for why the elves couldn’t stop this threat in its tracks is that their isolationist mindset caused them to not react before it was too late. With hundreds of intelligent and powerful fiends at their door, I can see how even the most powerful mages could not turn them away. If it was only the goblinkin, they might have been able to. They could raise insurmountable barriers that they enemies cannot pass, summon rivers of lava and rain meteors from the heavens to kill thousands and scare the rest away. But I imagine that the fiends would be able to overcome most of these challenges and keep the army intact.

So, even if I accept how the elves were defeated, in part due to their own folly, I still cannot understand why the events of The Weeping War could not easily repeat themselves. Why don’t we see other large armies of thousands of fiends destroying civilizations across Faerun? My only explanation in this case would be the self-interested nature of the yugoloths. Normally, anyone who summoned them wouldn’t be able to control them for long and wouldn’t be able turn them to their own purposes in such numbers. So, it was only the very specific circumstances, which made three greater necaloths extremely motivated to seek vengeance on the elves, which allowed this event to take place. I seem to recall that the magic of the mythal of Myth Drannor ended up binding the fiends to that area, but I don’t know if any specific magic played a part in allowing them fiends to stay throughout the three years that The Weeping War lasted (maybe there were just continually being summoned when battle was joined).

It just seems to me, even with this explanation, that it wouldn’t take much for events to repeat themselves. Some powerful mage gains completely control of some greater fiends, they summon a huge army, and this army can outmatch anything in Faerun, particularly since these fiends should easily be able to gather, at the very least, tens of thousands of goblinkin to their cause, since they quite easily control evil aligned creatures of less intelligence. Sometimes we have even heard of lords of the lower planes with designs on conquests in Faerun, but so far it seems to have been limited to a handful of large events.

TBeholder
Great Reader

2394 Posts

Posted - 25 Mar 2024 :  20:20:02  Show Profile Send TBeholder a Private Message  Reply with Quote
See Cormanthyr and The Fall of Myth Drannor. And Elminster In Myth Drannor.
Basically, Eltargrim decided to invite non-elves (and even then, only after Mythantar volunteered to make a wizardly mythal) because he figured (after centuries of deliberation) that without such drastic measures Cormanthor is doomed: either whittled down by goblinoids or slide a little further into decadence and squabbles and then will pick a fight with too many humans.
For a while this mostly worked.
Eventually, Eltargrim died, the heir apparent (Aravae) was assassinated, then the Claiming Ceremony turned into a rather indecent scene, and Srinshee just left in disgust.
The elves were chastised, but without an unquestioned ruler (supported by everyone outside first tier Houses) the usual squabbles and tug-o-war were not subdued.
Then there was a slow exodus, in particular (but not limited to) the best human and gnome wizards.
By the time those nycaloths attacked, Myth Drannor was noticeably past its prime and already barely holding together.
And even after the Weeping War started, enough of the elves and on high enough positions continued to let resentment of each other and their nominal allies undermine their performance that this led to losses and failures and required court martial to stop.
The ruin was something that starts in people's heads, as usual.
quote:

Possible reasons for why it won't happen again

1. Executive fiat.
2. There are no #2.
quote:
It just seems to me, even with this explanation, that it wouldn't take much for events to repeat themselves. Some powerful mage gains completely control of some greater fiends,

Unnecessary. The specific mechanisms of collapse may vary, but the underlying problem remains.
Cormanthor held longer than most, but it won't remain an anomaly for much longer, seeing how its ruler eventually based policy on deep conviction that the place is doomed unless it can be changed almost beyond recognition.
This time around, the results (according to previously observations of faction dynamics in particular, and how the things work and interact in general) are pretty much inevitable too.
Ultimately, the barbarian elves (using an Al-Qadim term) had to go in Retreat because they were barbarian elves.
The Retreat did allow them elves to somewhat recover from various losses. But it could not and did not make them any less barbarian.
The elves have a history of failures at being good neighbours or close cooperation, unless assimilated by the humans (Zakhara, Ravens Bluff). When things work, it's as long as the other side is trying and conditions are favorable. For example, Eaerlann-Seventon relations superficially went great, but once the wind changed proved ephemeral.
Thus, the outcome of any Return that isn't "elves save the day!!1" contrivance (and in the long run even that) is predictable.
The others will hear about "Elves taking their old lands" and ask "but what wasn't?..".
Then the returning elves are going to do their level best to deepen this distrust, cheese off absolutely everyone with a shred of dignity, and embarrass the less-barbaric and non-barbaric elves.
Consider the ambASSador who irritated Khelben and Laeral in Shadow Bo Badow Looming Return of the Archwizards. Half the time it will be like this, and the other half merely passable.
If they somehow will not fail utterly at first, Eldreth Veluuthra will be happy to step in and "help".
We already had some musings on this. Without plot armor, it's far too easy for things to go pear-shaped, and there will be far too many interested parties (from gods to independent actors nobody notices) who would rather have the elves at least not be a major force, and at best go back whence they came. And with Myth Drannor in the middle of the continent, of all places. Expect all sorts of direct actions, indirect actions and provocations.
Thus, no matter the start, both sides will soon drag the elven relations with everyone around to "barely tolerated" level at best, and there they will stay.
This returns the elves to square one: they have many enemies, few (and often reluctant, at that) allies and cannot afford losses. Which was the situation that gradually forced them into Retreat to begin with.

People never wonder How the world goes round -Helloween
And even I make no pretense Of having more than common sense -R.W.Wood
It's not good, Eric. It's a gazebo. -Ed Whitchurch

Edited by - TBeholder on 25 Mar 2024 20:40:29
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Zeromaru X
Great Reader

Colombia
2450 Posts

Posted - 25 Mar 2024 :  22:12:26  Show Profile Send Zeromaru X a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Wasn't because a good red dragon was flying above the city, destroying the defensive spells (whose condition to be undone was specifically "it cannot be touched by a good red dragon").

Instead of seeking change, you prefer a void, merciless abyss of a world...
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bloodtide_the_red
Learned Scribe

USA
299 Posts

Posted - 26 Mar 2024 :  01:42:19  Show Profile  Visit bloodtide_the_red's Homepage Send bloodtide_the_red a Private Message  Reply with Quote
If you are really interested, the 2E Game Book: The Fall of Myth Drannor, gives you the full detailed history of the Fall....battle by battle...with lots of detail.

The Army of Good was out numbered 5 to 1. Also the Army of Evil had plenty of powerful magic too. It's even stated "most" of the Army of Evil had magic weapons "plundered from across the North".

And fiend summoning....so yugoloths are mercenaries: you have to pay them. So that is a factor...

And just to note......Toril gets invaded by fiends often enough. The Fall of Myth Drannor is not unique. Fiends destroyed the elen city of Ascelhorn(making it Hellgate Keep)...and raved whole elven kingdoms. During he Time of Troubles a horde of demons attacked Waterdeep.
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sleyvas
Skilled Spell Strategist

USA
11724 Posts

Posted - 27 Mar 2024 :  15:08:17  Show Profile Send sleyvas a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by bloodtide_the_red



And just to note......Toril gets invaded by fiends often enough. The Fall of Myth Drannor is not unique. Fiends destroyed the elen city of Ascelhorn(making it Hellgate Keep)...and raved whole elven kingdoms. During he Time of Troubles a horde of demons attacked Waterdeep.



Not a slight, but just felt I'd share... this typo so made me smile for a minute. Picture demons with glowy bracelets dancing around to some fiendish music while using smiting spells to obliterate elves (picture elf there one second, next demon pointing their direction and they explode and all their flesh melting off the skeleton). Maybe even a coordinated "dance off" by devils against chaotically dancing elves.

Alavairthae, may your skill prevail

Phillip aka Sleyvas
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Delnyn
Senior Scribe

USA
891 Posts

Posted - 28 Mar 2024 :  01:34:14  Show Profile Send Delnyn a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Zeromaru X

Wasn't because a good red dragon was flying above the city, destroying the defensive spells (whose condition to be undone was specifically "it cannot be touched by a good red dragon").


You're on the right track. It was not the mythal or other defensive wards that were brought down by Garnet's flight. It specifically was the extradimensional prison holding the nycaloths that eventually led the Army of Darkness. The elves created the prison millennia before the mythal was raised.
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Steven Schend
Forgotten Realms Designer & Author

USA
1707 Posts

Posted - 29 Mar 2024 :  16:22:06  Show Profile  Visit Steven Schend's Homepage Send Steven Schend a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Delnyn

quote:
Originally posted by Zeromaru X

Wasn't because a good red dragon was flying above the city, destroying the defensive spells (whose condition to be undone was specifically "it cannot be touched by a good red dragon").


You're on the right track. It was not the mythal or other defensive wards that were brought down by Garnet's flight. It specifically was the extradimensional prison holding the nycaloths that eventually led the Army of Darkness. The elves created the prison millennia before the mythal was raised.



Also, this is one of the ways I hid some lessons in plain sight: MD might not have fallen had the elves been less precious with their secrets. Had they bothered to remind folk of the existence of that prison and/or the prophecy tied to it, all might have been avoided.

As it was, politics and pride and short-sightedness on some elves' parts (and with their lifespans, short-sightedness has a longer tail than usual) was among the primary reasons why the alliance and the city fell the way it did.

Steven
not the guy who wrecked it but the guy who got to rebuild the city then knock it over in the sandbox…

For current projects and general natter, see www.steveneschend.com
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Giant Snake
Seeker

59 Posts

Posted - 02 Apr 2024 :  07:24:46  Show Profile Send Giant Snake a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by bloodtide_the_red

If you are really interested, the 2E Game Book: The Fall of Myth Drannor, gives you the full detailed history of the Fall....battle by battle...with lots of detail.

The Army of Good was out numbered 5 to 1. Also the Army of Evil had plenty of powerful magic too. It's even stated "most" of the Army of Evil had magic weapons "plundered from across the North".

And fiend summoning....so yugoloths are mercenaries: you have to pay them. So that is a factor...

And just to note......Toril gets invaded by fiends often enough. The Fall of Myth Drannor is not unique. Fiends destroyed the elen city of Ascelhorn(making it Hellgate Keep)...and raved whole elven kingdoms. During he Time of Troubles a horde of demons attacked Waterdeep.



I like this poetic retelling. It is something I wish we had more of. Less clinical and dry over-explained recounting sand more with the references to the nature of opposing forces and how heroism or ironic reversals of fortune took place. Good info
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