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Richard Lee Byers
Forgotten Realms Author

USA
1814 Posts

Posted - 24 Aug 2006 :  14:15:20  Show Profile  Visit Richard Lee Byers's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Winterfox: I respond to earthisms the same way you do, and try hard to avoid them. Sometimes it's a real nuisance to do so, since to my mind, earthisms include words derived from people names as well as place names. So, not only am I unable to write "Spartan," I'm unable to write words like "sadist" or "masochist," either.
I also try to avoid real-world figures of speech. I wouldn't, for example, have a FR character say that something was "clear as mud." I'd try to come up with what is supposed to be a uniquely FR figure of speech. An example is when Will, in Year of Rogue Dragons, says another character is dumb as a rock in a ditch (or something close to that; I'm too lazy to go look it up.)
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Steven Schend
Forgotten Realms Designer & Author

USA
1705 Posts

Posted - 24 Aug 2006 :  14:58:34  Show Profile  Visit Steven Schend's Homepage Send Steven Schend a Private Message  Reply with Quote
The ones that drive me nuts (as an editor and writer) were the following: "Radiation," which people love to write in as a way of describing magic and which totally derails me from a story or adventure; and "ozone," which the denizens of the Realms would not know or use, even though it's the easiest way to describe the smell after a lightning strike. I think I made it all the way through BLACKSTAFF (with a lot of lightning) and not one use of the word ozone left my fingers.

For current projects and general natter, see www.steveneschend.com
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Mace Hammerhand
Great Reader

Germany
2296 Posts

Posted - 24 Aug 2006 :  15:14:01  Show Profile  Visit Mace Hammerhand's Homepage Send Mace Hammerhand a Private Message  Reply with Quote
The one I *REALLY* hate is "china", makes me gag everytime I read it in a fantasy novel. If it was "shou" instead of "china" that would be ok, I guess.

A friend of mine recently pointed out to me that "amazed" is too modern, since mazes as they were didn't come into being until the rennaisance.

BTW, Steven, I like your new quote!

Mace's not so gentle gamer's journal My rants were harmless compared to this, beware!
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Chosen of Moradin
Master of Realmslore

Brazil
1120 Posts

Posted - 24 Aug 2006 :  15:33:07  Show Profile  Visit Chosen of Moradin's Homepage Send Chosen of Moradin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Everytime that I hear Until it Sleeps (Mettalica song), I remember of Taen (Bladesinger protagonist.

Dwarf, DM, husband, and proud of this! :P

twitter: @yuripeixoto
Facebook: yuri.peixoto
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Erik Scott de Bie
Forgotten Realms Author

USA
4598 Posts

Posted - 24 Aug 2006 :  15:45:13  Show Profile  Visit Erik Scott de Bie's Homepage Send Erik Scott de Bie a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I like what Salyn says on the subject:

quote:
Originally posted by Kiaransalyn

As regards the use of Earth-based descriptions, it really does depend on the context, for me. If an Earth-based narrator uses an 'earthism' for an Earth-based readership then I'm fine with it since it helps me picture the setting better. As an adjective, 'spartan' does work rather effectively in describing efficient sparseness.


That's about how I feel about it too. A LOT of our words come from earth's history -- words like "spartan" (from Sparta) and "romantic" (tales that are like Roman drama) are the most obvious, "gaudy" (Antonin Gaudi, Catalan artist) and "sadistic" (Marquis de Sade) slightly less obvious but definitely there, and a whole host of others besides. Fencing is RIFE with real world terms and difficult to describe with accuracy without jarring readers. Etymology is a fascinating and really wide study. I think it's a line you have to walk, to maintain the feel you want and use only as many "earthism" terms as necessary.

And some phrases/terms are more obvious to some people than others. "Begs the question" always jars me, for two reasons: 1) because it's such a modern philosophical phrase, and 2) because people use it WRONG WRONG WRONG all the time. (For those who are curious, "begs the question" is a philosophical argument/objection which means "assumes as a premise the very thing it is trying to prove.")

quote:
Far more jarring to me - certainly in the War of the Spider Queen series - is when masked characters smile. Or when an animal smiles. Last night, I was reading a DragonLance novel and a unicorn was described as smiling. (There's no need for us to mention Philip from the Narnia movie, is there? )



Oh indeed.

Eyeless creatures squinting/winking. Monsters sneering/pursing their lips. Spiders hissing (ok -- is that even possible? I mean, maybe it is, but I've certainly never heard a spider hiss. If it is possible, by all means correct me!). Characters who can somehow see each other's faces/body language through darkness/invisibility/blindness/etc. I think these are just editing blips, mostly, on the part of the writer or anywhere along the editing process.

quote:
Speaking of such things, I think it would be a good idea to create some sort of "look-alike" catalogue for all things Faerūnian.


I like that idea.

Cheers

Erik Scott de Bie

'Tis easier to destroy than to create.

Author of a number of Realms novels (GHOSTWALKER, DEPTHS OF MADNESS, and the SHADOWBANE series), contributor to the NEVERWINTER CAMPAIGN GUIDE and SHADOWFELL: GLOOMWROUGHT AND BEYOND, Twitch DM of the Dungeon Scrawlers, currently playing "The Westgate Irregulars"
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Kiaransalyn
Senior Scribe

United Kingdom
762 Posts

Posted - 24 Aug 2006 :  15:52:13  Show Profile Send Kiaransalyn a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Erik Scott de Bie

Characters who can somehow see each other's faces/body language through darkness/invisibility/blindness/etc.




I once asked the question, 'A party of duergar and a patrol of drow meet in a pitch black, lightless cavern with no light source what-so-ever in the underdark, is it acceptable for the drow to wear shocking pink?'

It surprised me how many people said that drow would never wear pink in such a situation.

Death is Life
Love is Hate
Revenge is Forgiveness


Ken: You from the States?
Jimmy: Yeah. But don't hold it against me.
Ken: I'll try not to... Just try not to say anything too loud or crass.
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Richard Lee Byers
Forgotten Realms Author

USA
1814 Posts

Posted - 24 Aug 2006 :  16:57:53  Show Profile  Visit Richard Lee Byers's Homepage  Reply with Quote
You're right, Erik. One can't avoid all words that derive from real-world names. I probably won't assiduously avoid "gaudy,"even now that you've told me there was a guy named Gaudi (I'm not real strong on art history.) But there are certain ones that. for whatever reason, just rear up and smack me in the face. "sadist" being a case in point, and those are the ones I try to stay away from.
The potential problem being that what irks me may not be what irks the particular reader. He might have been fine with it if I'd used "sadist," but I completely blow the mood for him when I say "gaudy." But obviously, you've got little choice but to go with your own sense of which stylistic choices support the mood of the piece, and which ones trash it.
Steve: Guilty! I've referred to the smell of ozone when some wizard tosses a lightning bolt. Guess I'll try not to do that anymore.
The thing I absolutely hate with every fiber of my being is when archers "fire" arrows. You can shoot or loose an arrow. You can't fire it.
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Winterfox
Senior Scribe

895 Posts

Posted - 24 Aug 2006 :  17:11:36  Show Profile  Visit Winterfox's Homepage Send Winterfox a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Richard Lee Byers

Winterfox: I respond to earthisms the same way you do, and try hard to avoid them. Sometimes it's a real nuisance to do so, since to my mind, earthisms include words derived from people names as well as place names. So, not only am I unable to write "Spartan," I'm unable to write words like "sadist" or "masochist," either.


I'm fine with some words, to a point, when their origins aren't so obvious (though "firing" arrows drives me batty also), so I don't mind "sadist" or "masochist" all that much. ("Schadenfreud", now...)

As for ozone: that jars me, too. And I've just seen it not too far away from the stupid, stupid "Spartan" at that. I'm liking Annihilation less and less (well, largely because it's plodding along only because it's supported on the stilts of the Idiot Plot, but the little things only add to the annoyance), but that's neither here nor there.
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Mace Hammerhand
Great Reader

Germany
2296 Posts

Posted - 24 Aug 2006 :  17:19:39  Show Profile  Visit Mace Hammerhand's Homepage Send Mace Hammerhand a Private Message  Reply with Quote
'tis "Schadenfreude", dear lady. Trust me, 'tis me native language.

Mace's not so gentle gamer's journal My rants were harmless compared to this, beware!
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Winterfox
Senior Scribe

895 Posts

Posted - 24 Aug 2006 :  17:28:59  Show Profile  Visit Winterfox's Homepage Send Winterfox a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Typo. :P

And "me" is not a possessive noun, dear. Oh, and "rennaissance" isn't a word.

Edited by - Winterfox on 24 Aug 2006 17:31:05
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Faraer
Great Reader

3308 Posts

Posted - 24 Aug 2006 :  17:48:14  Show Profile  Visit Faraer's Homepage Send Faraer a Private Message  Reply with Quote
A lot of Latinate, technical and modern words are best replaced with Realmsian portmanteaus: an Ilmatari might be a pain-prayer rather than a masochist. Better to use 'hiresword' then 'mercenary'. Etc.

Yes, I think best to avoid 'firing' bows and crossbows.

Erik, you're pulling me leg about 'gaudy' coming from Gaudi! Checking the Shorter Oxford, it's late-fifteenth-century, ultimately from Latin gaudere 'rejoice'.

Edited by - Faraer on 24 Aug 2006 17:49:27
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Richard Lee Byers
Forgotten Realms Author

USA
1814 Posts

Posted - 24 Aug 2006 :  18:10:22  Show Profile  Visit Richard Lee Byers's Homepage  Reply with Quote
The potential problem with portmanteaus is that they may draw too much attention to themselves and may need to be decoded. They can knock the reader out of the story just like an anachronism or earthism, to use Winterfox's term.
As a reader, I'd breeze right by "hiresword" or "sellsword." But I suspect I'd stumble over "pain-prayer," and be uncertain, at least momentarily, of what the author was trying to tell me.
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Mace Hammerhand
Great Reader

Germany
2296 Posts

Posted - 24 Aug 2006 :  18:17:37  Show Profile  Visit Mace Hammerhand's Homepage Send Mace Hammerhand a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Winterfox

Typo. :P

And "me" is not a possessive noun, dear. Oh, and "rennaissance" isn't a word.



It's renaissance, sorry...which is a word...typo also

Mace's not so gentle gamer's journal My rants were harmless compared to this, beware!
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Winterfox
Senior Scribe

895 Posts

Posted - 24 Aug 2006 :  18:24:49  Show Profile  Visit Winterfox's Homepage Send Winterfox a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Richard Lee Byers

But I suspect I'd stumble over "pain-prayer," and be uncertain, at least momentarily, of what the author was trying to tell me.


I don't think I'd even link it with "masochist," since "pray" and "desire" doesn't exactly lead to the same thing. Besides, what'd one call a masochist who isn't a cleric of Ilmater?
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Erik Scott de Bie
Forgotten Realms Author

USA
4598 Posts

Posted - 24 Aug 2006 :  20:04:43  Show Profile  Visit Erik Scott de Bie's Homepage Send Erik Scott de Bie a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Faraer

Erik, you're pulling me leg about 'gaudy' coming from Gaudi! Checking the Shorter Oxford, it's late-fifteenth-century, ultimately from Latin gaudere 'rejoice'.



I wasn't claiming that it's *originally* from his name. That's just the association it sparks in me. It's also possible that there's where his name comes from.

I think you hit a certain point, where you're comparing Latinate terms and talking about historical context, and you come to see that you're really just hashing out language, you know? The story's got to be conveyed somehow, and we can't just restrict ourselves to "See Spot Run."

I think, though, that words that are jarring should be avoided, just as *anything* like that should be avoided. WF, the "Spartan" is a great example. Modern turns of phrase are distracting. I can think of a few others, but I'll keep the names in my head to protect the innocent/guilty.

Cheers

Erik Scott de Bie

'Tis easier to destroy than to create.

Author of a number of Realms novels (GHOSTWALKER, DEPTHS OF MADNESS, and the SHADOWBANE series), contributor to the NEVERWINTER CAMPAIGN GUIDE and SHADOWFELL: GLOOMWROUGHT AND BEYOND, Twitch DM of the Dungeon Scrawlers, currently playing "The Westgate Irregulars"
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Faraer
Great Reader

3308 Posts

Posted - 24 Aug 2006 :  20:10:59  Show Profile  Visit Faraer's Homepage Send Faraer a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I wish you guys would make greater use of the Realmsian vocabulary Ed G. has built up: I think you'd find it solves many of these problems, as well as making for more consistency.
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Winterfox
Senior Scribe

895 Posts

Posted - 24 Aug 2006 :  20:59:28  Show Profile  Visit Winterfox's Homepage Send Winterfox a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Has that list ever been compiled properly, in an easily accessible, organized (into categories according to regions and topics and so forth) page, anywhere? By someone who can actually code HTML (or better yet, Java)?
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Kiaransalyn
Senior Scribe

United Kingdom
762 Posts

Posted - 24 Aug 2006 :  21:08:21  Show Profile Send Kiaransalyn a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Mace Hammerhand

The one I *REALLY* hate is "china", makes me gag everytime I read it in a fantasy novel. If it was "shou" instead of "china" that would be ok, I guess.


If a Realms author wrote about objects made out of china in one of their novels that wouldn't jar with me. I wouldn't think of Zhongguo unless the author used China or Cathay. Instead, I would picture the object and have a good idea of the substance that it was made out of. Now if an author called fine white porcelain or translucent ceramic ware, Shou I would probably applaud their cleverness but I might also wonder why they avoided the natural tendency of most languages to use a short-cut.

To my mind the author is telling me a story and because they aren't sitting in a fire-lit tavern whilst you and I sip beer and listen raptly I am unable to interrupt and ask them to elaborate or to clarify. To attempt to explain that better, the author is doing their best to describe their story in terms that are most appropriate, efficient and dramatic. If I know what a china cup is and the author does then we are agreed that the scene the author is describing involves a ceramic object derived from kaolin.

I think we're geting into rather dangerous territory when we preclude certain words from the vocabularly of an author's narrative voice because there are real world associations for a certain percentage of the readership. Granted if a Realms-based character speaks about 'China ware' then that is jarring. However, if the author tells me that the character is examining some china, then I form a very good picture what the character is doing.

The author has as much right to vocabularly as I do so long as it doesn't destroy the story's verisimilitude. If the author chooses to call two of his characters Yipper and Quipper Fishsquisher then my sense of the story's 'reality' is lost because these names sound stupid to both my Anglo-Saxon culture based education, and also to my personal preference. Similarly, if the narrator uses pipeweed then that erks me because of the strong resonation it has to Tolkien's trilogy for me. A narrator using tobacco wouldn't throw me because I wouldn't immediately associate it with tabaco.

I think the human mind is trained to subconsciously identify patterns. If we start asking authors to limit their vocabulary then clench racing may well become a new sport of the Realms. (Here be clench-racing.) If we ask authors to limit their choice of words then their readers will begin to notice the repeated use of certain words.

Although, (I think) there is a place for portmanteaus they may exclude new readers. They may also lead towards Planescape and its slang - colourful could be a description for the etymology of berk. (You're going to have to look that one up yourselves.)

Some of these 'earthisms' could simply be the English that we're used to. When an american author talks about bangs I have to pause and connect that to what I understand as a fringe. Although this and other words from Noah Webster's rather excellent dictionary make me pause for thought they do not destroy the story's verisimilitude if it is narrator using them.

However, if a character uses them then it jarrs with me. Much like when a character uses 'thee' when they should use 'ye' since 'thee' is the (now abandoned for most English speakers)) informal singular and 'ye' is the informal plural.

For the record, I always thought lightning strikes smelt like burning metal.

I've rabbited on a bit here, sorry.

Death is Life
Love is Hate
Revenge is Forgiveness


Ken: You from the States?
Jimmy: Yeah. But don't hold it against me.
Ken: I'll try not to... Just try not to say anything too loud or crass.

Edited by - Kiaransalyn on 24 Aug 2006 21:11:35
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Winterfox
Senior Scribe

895 Posts

Posted - 24 Aug 2006 :  21:35:30  Show Profile  Visit Winterfox's Homepage Send Winterfox a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Kiaransalyn
To my mind the author is telling me a story and because they aren't sitting in a fire-lit tavern whilst you and I sip beer and listen raptly I am unable to interrupt and ask them to elaborate or to clarify. To attempt to explain that better, the author is doing their best to describe their story in terms that are most appropriate, efficient and dramatic. If I know what a china cup is and the author does then we are agreed that the scene the author is describing involves a ceramic object derived from kaolin.


Call me unromantic, but I don't see it like that, especially when the prose's style obviously doesn't bend to fit such a view. The "Spartan" example I used? From a third-person limited scene (third-person limited is used for the rest of the book, anyway, and in most Realms novels). Thus, the viewpoint belongs to the character. Not the author.
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Richard Lee Byers
Forgotten Realms Author

USA
1814 Posts

Posted - 24 Aug 2006 :  21:49:08  Show Profile  Visit Richard Lee Byers's Homepage  Reply with Quote
I agree that if you're getting the narrative via the point of view of a particular character (pretty much the way I always write), it's desirable for the vocabulary you use to reflect that POV.
I also agree that the extensive use of portmanteaus has the potential to put off new readers, and some of us have the crazy dream of attracting them. Given that some fans will inevitably die, lose interest, or depart for some other reason. it's necessary to at least offset the attrition if the FR is to remain a viable franchise that we'll all have to enjoy for a long while to come.
I also have another concern about the extensive use of portmanteaus. Ed's special vocabulary works great when married to Ed's prose style and general approach to storytelling. It might not have the same music if another writer tried to work it the way he does. We each have to find our own voice.
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Faraer
Great Reader

3308 Posts

Posted - 24 Aug 2006 :  22:36:31  Show Profile  Visit Faraer's Homepage Send Faraer a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Certainly, you have to write how you're comfortable with. But while really dense Realmsism (as I believe the pre-copyedit Spellfire had) could be opaque, an armsman here and a lackwit there are not; you want a balance, of course, of distinctive and familiar.

Sadly, no thorough Realms glossary exists, though at least a couple of us are working on it, and O Steven! those are physical files, aye?
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Mace Hammerhand
Great Reader

Germany
2296 Posts

Posted - 24 Aug 2006 :  22:42:47  Show Profile  Visit Mace Hammerhand's Homepage Send Mace Hammerhand a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Could we possibly see what Ed has created in that regard ... terminology...*drool*

Mace's not so gentle gamer's journal My rants were harmless compared to this, beware!
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KnightErrantJR
Great Reader

USA
5402 Posts

Posted - 24 Aug 2006 :  22:45:03  Show Profile  Visit KnightErrantJR's Homepage Send KnightErrantJR a Private Message  Reply with Quote
The thing that gets me is when I see Realms terminology pop up elsewhere in D&D and fantasy literature in general. I'm pretty sure I never saw festhalls and sellswords before I started reading Forgotten Realms products.
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Steven Schend
Forgotten Realms Designer & Author

USA
1705 Posts

Posted - 24 Aug 2006 :  23:27:56  Show Profile  Visit Steven Schend's Homepage Send Steven Schend a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by KnightErrantJR

The thing that gets me is when I see Realms terminology pop up elsewhere in D&D and fantasy literature in general. I'm pretty sure I never saw festhalls and sellswords before I started reading Forgotten Realms products.





I'm still highly amused that we were in a meeting in 1997 with Roger Moore (of DRAGON magazine, not Bond films, fame) and the following was uttered by him: "What do you mean festhalls are houses of ill repute? I thought they were just nightclubs or bathouses and such!" Honestly, he'd worked with FR material since before the Grey Box and the replacement word of festhall slipped right by him, even in context.

When I asked what he thought my euphemism of "hard-currency girls" was, he assumed they were like the old cigarette sellers with change makers on their belts.

Ah, the fun of misdirection and euphemisms in the Realms! And it makes me miss Roger Moore all the more, too. (Haven't seen him in years, and I assume he's still hale and hearty...)

For current projects and general natter, see www.steveneschend.com
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George Krashos
Master of Realmslore

Australia
6629 Posts

Posted - 25 Aug 2006 :  01:47:37  Show Profile Send George Krashos a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Winterfox

Has that list ever been compiled properly, in an easily accessible, organized (into categories according to regions and topics and so forth) page, anywhere? By someone who can actually code HTML (or better yet, Java)?



I'm getting there. As far as I can see, there isn't a huge amount of regionality in the extant realmsian terms. Maybe 1 in 20 solely have a regional context. The majority are real-world equivalents (such as foodstuffs) which are easily transferable. You might not need to know anything more about a "yhaumarind" other than that it is edible and likely a fruit.

Would FR authors be looking to use such an FR glossary? I suppose it depends on the individual. I agree with RLB that they might not flow as smoothly off their pens as they do off Ed's (although even there, I had some difficulty with the "tluins" scattered throughout 'City of Splendor'). IMO, FR portmanteaus work best when the context is obvious (food, drink, illnesses, poisons, etc.), when they are easily recognisable (hiresword) or when the writer can sneak in an explanation of the term without disrupting the narrative. Obviously, the third option is the most difficult.

However, I do enjoy reading FR books that include terms unique to the Realms. Used judiciously, they enhance the narrative and feel of the book - at least from my point of view.

-- George Krashos

"Because only we, contrary to the barbarians, never count the enemy in battle." -- Aeschylus
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Faraer
Great Reader

3308 Posts

Posted - 25 Aug 2006 :  02:03:11  Show Profile  Visit Faraer's Homepage Send Faraer a Private Message  Reply with Quote
In terms of pure comprehensibility, I think you're overestimating the difficulty -- more are easily recognizable than not, even out of context.

We should pool resources.
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George Krashos
Master of Realmslore

Australia
6629 Posts

Posted - 25 Aug 2006 :  03:01:05  Show Profile Send George Krashos a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Yep, we'll do that Faraer. Never fear. Problem is, I've been a bit old-fashioned and been listing them freehand - not on a computer file. I'll get my act together soonish and we can see what we've each got.

-- George Krashos

"Because only we, contrary to the barbarians, never count the enemy in battle." -- Aeschylus
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Winterfox
Senior Scribe

895 Posts

Posted - 25 Aug 2006 :  06:48:09  Show Profile  Visit Winterfox's Homepage Send Winterfox a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Faraer: well, given the fact that no such list exists, I don't think you should be surprised that authors haven't been using Ed's terminology, even if they wanted to. Chasing down bits and pieces in Kuje's archive of Ed's answers (sorry, Kuje, but that thing really could use a bit of tidiness) and asking random Candlekeep users if they've got any -- that's probably asking a bit much.

Edited by - Winterfox on 25 Aug 2006 06:52:06
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GothicDan
Master of Realmslore

USA
1103 Posts

Posted - 26 Aug 2006 :  07:08:00  Show Profile  Visit GothicDan's Homepage Send GothicDan a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
- that's probably asking a bit much.


Not for the authors who know about Candlekeep. ;)

Planescape Fanatic

"Fiends and Undead are the peanut butter and jelly of evil." - Me
"That attitude should be stomped on, whenever and wherever it's encountered, because it makes people holding such views bad citizens, not just bad roleplayers (considering D&D was structured as a 'forced cooperation' game, and although successive editions are pointing it more and more towards a me-first, min-max game, the drift away from 'we all need each other to succeed' will at some point make it 'no longer' D&D)." - ED GREENWOOD
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Paj
Seeker

United Kingdom
56 Posts

Posted - 19 Oct 2006 :  09:19:17  Show Profile  Visit Paj's Homepage Send Paj a Private Message  Reply with Quote
So, I was reading Lost Empires of Faerun and noticed how many little bits and pieces from older 2nd edition Lore were put in here and there and how many bits were updated for 3.5 edition(such as the Terraseer being made a Sarrukh) and it got me to wondering:

When you are asked to write a new novel/sourcebook/adventure module, how much research goes into what you are writing about before pen hits the paper? I mean, do you sit down beside a mound of older Forgotten Realms books (like the 2nd edition Netheril Boxed Set) and novels and go through them for bits and pieces of lore about what you are planning? Or is it more a face-to-face meeting with other Authors/designers with Pizza and pop :P ?
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