Alaundo's Library

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The work contained on this page has been penned over time by the creator of the Forgotten Realms - Ed Greenwood, and kindly provided to us here at Candlekeep by The Hooded One on the Candlekeep Forum. The collection presented here is a digest version which has been collated by Scott Kujawa, presenting all Ed's responses and omitting other posters discussions which followed.

So saith Ed

(Answers from Ed Greenwood)

Jan - Mar 2005

January 1, 2005: Why, Karth, you'll turn my head! (And perhaps other things...)


Hello, fellow scribes! Herewith, Ed slides cutlass between teeth and goes sailing with Jerryd!

Avast and heed well, ye dogs! Ed's gone beyond the call of duty once again, and thrown in a real treat: the Raetheless. He's imparted so much Realmslore, in fact, that I'll leave the individual island descriptions for other posts, to follow! Herewith, then, I give ye the words of Ed:

Jerry, those islands you asked about were detailed in original Realmslore, ready for sending to TSR in 1986 until the decision was made to concentrate on the Heartlands mainland, and provide only abbreviated coverage of offshore features. All I've done here is added map notes, changed some lore-text grammar and phrasing to be more specific and formal and to match the latest game terms, and added one updated-to-3e monster suggestion. Which gives us this:

In published Realmslore, these islands are most accurately mapped in the foldout maps found in the original (Old Gray Box) FR boxed set, specifically mapsheet 1031XXX0701.

Whereon it can be seen that there's a large offshore island situated so that its northern shore is due west of Candlekeep. Directly to the south of this island is an east-west line of three small islands, and northwest of this same large island are another three islands, curving (bulge to the west) in an arc to the northwest.

All seven of these islands are high and rocky (cracked and fissured granite), and covered with scrub temperate woodlands. With one exception, their heights are windswept rock whitecapped with guano, and they are all primarily inhabited by thousands of seabirds. There are freshwater springs on Thelve, Sklorn, Raerest, and Askalet, and rock-basin pools where abundant fresh water (mainly from winter snows and summer fogs) collects on all of the islands. Only Thelve and Raerest, the two largest islands, are large enough to have true (as opposed to 'saltwash') swamps. The origins of the names borne by these islands is largely lost to lore, but are thought to all be the given or family names of various mariners or persons who settled on them in the past. The nearness of these islands to the mainland, and the fact that all of them rise steeply out of the sea with no known shoals to endanger ships, have made them much visited down the centuries.

To be more specific, the "large offshore island" I'm referring to is called Thelve. In shape, Thelve is "rectangular with five little bumps or abbreviated capes, and a large rounded 'bullnose' headland to the north." The longest straightline distance one can travel on Thelve is fourteen miles, northeast to southwest, and in general Thelve is about ten miles 'tall' (north-south) and about eight miles across (east-west). Its northern headland is about ten miles offshore from Candlekeep, but at its southern end, it lies only about five miles away from the mainland (due to the rocky promontory that thrusts westwards out into the Sea of Swords south of Candlekeep).

West to east, the three small islands south of Thelve are Arthoum, Nairn's Tomb, and Askalet, respectively. Arthoum's easternmost cape lies almost four miles due south of the southwestern tip of Thelve. Nairn's Tomb is about a mile due east of Arthoum, and its northern shore is about two miles south of Thelve's southern shore. Four miles due east of the southern end of Nairn's Tomb is the western shore of Askalet, which lies about four-and-a-half miles southeast of Thelve and about two-and-a-half miles away from the mainland at the narrowest part of Racewind Passage (the strait between the islands and the shore; the only other named water area around the islands is Skoond's Run, the passage between Thelve and the trio of Arthoum, Nairn's Tomb, and Askalet).

The arc of islands running northwest from Thelve are (east to west this time): Sklorn, Unglur, and Raerest. Some sailors call them 'the Reach' or 'Crab Reach' (crab are abundant in the waters around them).

Sklorn is roughly triangular, with its easternmost cape ten miles west of the northwestern tip of Thelve. Two miles of open water separate its northwestern cape from the southeastern end of Unglur, and the shortest distance between Unglur's northwesternmost point and the southeastern promontory of Raerest is four-and-a-half miles. Raerest's northeasternmost point is about eighteen miles from the largely-uninhabited-by-humans cliffs of the mainland that lie southwest of Cloak Wood - - though it should be noted that there are the sparsely-inhabited ruins of a number of small fishing villages south of Cloak Wood, in what the elves call Raetheless ("RAYTH-lesss") and most humans call "Cloak Bay," nestled between the Wood and the pointing-at-Candlekeep cape called "Cape Raeth").

These villages have been largely abandoned because of monster raids out of the Cloak Wood and the murderous visits of pirates and smugglers over the years, though some hardy folk still cling to the most defensible huts among the ruins (digging for clams and going out in small boats with drag-nets for crab and the fish silverfin and the eel-like laethe), and that various costers and pirate conferacies repeatedly try to use the beaches and rotting wharves for shipping purposes.

There were six villages, each located at a good natural harbour. As one moves northwest up the cape and then southeast back along the north shore of the Bay, they were: Orthul's Notch, Calyaun ("CAL-yawn"), Eldelorr ("ELL-dell-ore"), Sumbur Rock, Borlyth ("BORE-lith"), and Ausabbason ("Aw-SAW-bass-on"). The Notch occupies the little indentation about a third of the way along the inside shore of the cape. Calyaun stands at the inside base of the cape (where the shore turns from running northwest to north-northeast). Eldelorr was located at the northwesternmost end of the Bay (where the Cloak Wood, as drawn on the map, almost touches the blue of the seawater). Large and mainly overgrown Sumbur Rock stands on the north shore of the bay just west of the small point known as the Fang. Monster-haunted Borlyth (which had a shipyard, and the most sheltered anchorage in "Borlyth Bay") is at the nothernmost end of the small bay east of the Fang, and Ausabbason (still linked to the Coast Way by a clear wagon-trail that curls southeast and then northeast around the end of Cloak Wood, to join the Way just south of midway between the Way of the Lion and Baldur's Gate) is a small, deserted cluster of cottages just south of the nameless plateau of rock that formed the eastern side of Borlyth Bay.

All of the Raetheless settlements were clusters of simple, one-storey thick-walled stone cottages with slate roofs, bolstered with tree-planted earth berms on their windward sides, and bolstered with timbers and ship-salvage. (Although the islands of the Reach are free of shoals, the shore between Ausabbason and Candlekeep has many jagged rocks a mile or less offshore, and sandbars constantly form and re-form between them and the rocky beaches of the mainland. Known as "the Jaws," these rocks have claimed many a vessel drive ashore in the sudden, fierce onshore storms that afflict this stretch of shoreline in fall and winter.)

So saith Ed.

As you can see, Jerryd, the Raetheless offer plenty of DM 'elbow room,' and so do the soon-to-follow island descriptions!


love to all,


January 1, 2005: Thank you for the kind words, Alaundo. It gives me great pleasure to charge right ahead into 2005 with...

Hello again, scribes. Herewith, Ed begins to present the islands of the Reach, for Jerryd and us all:

Arthoum is about a mile north to south and three miles long, a tortured landscape of largely-bare rock tunneled with seacaves and 'blowholes' that geyser-like plumes of water burst up out of, during onshore storms. It has the least vegetation of the seven islands, a rocky beach on its southern shore suitable for keelhauling large ships, a few tiny caves sailors have sheltered in from time to time, and not much else of note except seabirds and various lurking predatory sea creatures. It has no sheltered anchorages or proper harbours.

Nairn's Tomb is named for an adventurer entombed in an old dwarf-delve that comes to the surface at the summit of this steep-sided, rocky, heavily-forested island (which is a mile wide, east-west, at its largest point, and a trifle over two miles in length, north-south). The tomb was plundered long ago, and is said to be haunted by phantoms and worse; seabirds avoid the entire island for some reason. There's a sheltered anchorage halfway along the eastern shore of the island, but no beaches or proper harbours.

The entire heart of Nairn's Tomb is honeycombed with dwarf-high tunnels and chambers, that descend into unknown depths (many tales say tunnels connect to the mainland, or descend right into the Underdark [and Elminster confirms that both those beliefs are true, noting that if one can get past a certain guardian dragon - - see my Wyrms of the North columns - - one can travel between Nairn's Tomb and Candlekeep itself, underground]), and many of these chambers have been used by various smugglers and pirates over the years to imprison captives, store treasure and goods, and as temporary dwellings. Monsters do prowl the lower 'ways,' and from time to time wander up to the surface, seeking prey.

Askalet is roughly diamond-kite-shaped (with the 'short triangle' to the northwest, base-mated to a 'long triangle' pointing southeast), with the mainland two-and-a-half (north end of Askalet) to three-and-a-half (south end of Askalet) miles away across the Racewind Passage, an aptly-named strait through which winds blow briskly north to south during most sunlit hours (calms are common at dawn, dusk, and throughout most nights, but of course tend to be accompanied by thick [read: cold, wet, and clinging] fogs). Askalet has a snug two-vessel harbour midway along its southern shore, a tiny wooded valley around a spring-fed freshwater pond at its heart (easily reachable from the harbour), and half a dozen springs welling up to cascade down its rocky sides into the sea in various falls that freeze spectacularly in winter. The eastern side of the island is three-and-a-half miles long, its northern and western shores are both about two miles long, and a longer (curving) southern shore completes the diamond.

Aside from the valley, all of Askalet is a labyrinth of rocky, wooded ridges (home to many deer and an owlbear or two), there are fish in the lake, diligent searchers can find about a dozen small fissure-caves (used by the owlbears and in the past by more than a few smugglers and pirates), and the island holds at least three ruins: an overgrown, roofless cottage or hall nestled in a dell on the westernmost heights of the island; an overgrown stone manor house in the valley (long-abandoned and said to hide pirate treasure, guarded by traps), and a ruined castle at the southern end of its easternmost cliffs (said to be both a former pirate-baron's hold [false] and a onetime wizard's tower [true, and Elminster believes the name of the isle is a corruption of the name of this long-ago mage, Askalath]). All of these ruins have been searched and temporarily used for shelter countless times, but that doesn't necessarily mean they hold nothing in the way of treasure. Askalath's tower has a cellar carved out of solid rock that sports a well-like shaft descending down seemingly forever (well into the Underdark, and far beyond the reach of any known rope). If Askalath ever drew water up out of the shaft, he used magic rather than buckets on ropes - - and [true] tales say there are short cellar complexes opening off the inside walls of the shaft, "well down" its descent.

Thelve is home to no less than three castles: one on its eastern shore, atop the cliff facing Candlekeep, one at the western end of its southern shore, frowning straight across the waters at Nairn's Tomb, and one atop a rocky inland pinnacle, about two miles due southeast of the northwesternmost point of the island. All three of these castles are large, soaringly tall, impressive stone strongholds, built atop stony heights and possessing extensive stone cellars (those belonging to the eastern one extend into tunnels running several miles, to come out on the surface of the island in a valley at its center). All of these castles are home to liches and a variety of prowling monsters commanded or coerced by the liches. These liches (in life one human male, two human females) were the wizards who in life had the castles built for them. When alive, these wizards were once friends, and although relations between them became strained over the years (particularly as they prepared for lichdom), they never actively fought each other or sought to dominate the island they shared. (Elminster says the three are thought by many mages to now be under the sway of Larloch.) Their names are forgotten - - or rather, tales now offer so many wildly different names for the three that the true and proper names have been lost among the spurious inventions. "Thelve" is thought to be the remnant of a gnome or dwarven name, from before the coming of the three mages.

The island was once home to a tribe of gnomes, who were enslaved and finally exterminated by the three powerful human wizards through cruel overwork, as they were forced to build and endlessly expand the castles.

Though there's no evidence that a collective term for these three liches existed when they were alive, bards have since dubbed them "the Twilight Three." They are mighty in arcane spell rosters and collected magic items, and are said to be more cunning than insane, largely keeping hidden from intruders and letting their traps, spells (at least one of them is said to be a master of wards and barrier magics), and guardian monsters slay visitors. On the rare occasions when they are seen, they've reportedly worn crowns, filigreed 'show armor' and other finery, and to have swept along their passages in disdainful silence.

Their magics have proven too puissant for anyone to yet destroy them - - and their presence is obviously the reason the nameless ruins of three large gnome villages, in the interior of the island, remain abandoned and overgrown. Many sailors' tales warn that the liches "send forth" prowling undead and other beasts to attack anyone who tries to stay the night on Thelve.

Thelve has good three good harbours, and six sheltered anchorages along its southern shore. The harbours are Mresker's Hide, in the half-moon bay in the southern half of the eastern shore of the island, and nameless harbours at the southern end of Thelve's western shore and in the inlet due west of Candlekeep, just north of "the Gaunt" (the local nickname for the lich-castle that faces Candlekeep). Onshore winds and swift currents make anchoring anywhere along the northern shore of Thelve hazardous - - and the western end of the north shore is where a large freshwater swamp, Taglan's Bones (named for a pirate captain slain by his crew somewhere nigh its quicksand heart, after an argument over hiding treasure there) empties into the briny 'Cauldron of the Reach' (a cartographer's term used by sages, scribes of Candlekeep, and bards, never by sailors familiar with the area).

So saith Ed.

I'll post the second half of the island descriptions tomorrow.

Your happily Hooded One


January 2, 2005: Hello, all. Ed finishes up the last three islands for Jerryd and us all:

Sklorn is a misshapen equilateral triangle, with its west and south sides vertical and horizontal (and its roughly-nine-mile-long northeastern shore diagonal). Its south shore is approximately eight miles long, and sports two good anchorages flanking a central harbour (called "Sklorn's Rest" by some sailors, though some writings kept at Candlekeep suggest that Sklorn wasn't a sailor but rather a clan of humans or even half-orcs who once dwelt on the island). The other good harbour on Sklorn is at about the midpoint of its western shore; both harbours are washed clean by freshwater streams flowing down from the island's rocky interior.

Much as The Hooded One posted to you earlier, Sklorn is one of the two islands aptly described as follows: much used by pirates, and so littered with the wrecks of beached, scuttled, and half-burned ships. Sklorn is usually inhabited by a few monsters and castaways - - and is always home to uncounted thousands of squawking seabirds (mainly "gray coasters," large (and gray-fledged but with white underbellies) seabirds that can have eight-foot wingspans, and are something between a pelican, a cormorant, and an albatross: unpleasantly oily, but fat, stupid, and edible). Small colonies of seals lair along its the southern shore.

Unglur is the other pirate-littered island of the Reach. Like Sklorn, it has no visible ruins, and only a few seacaves for shelter. Unlike Sklorn, it has no freshwater springs (and very few seals, monsters, or castaways), and (thanks to the gray coasters and rock gulls), its trees and shrubs are visibly thinner. Otherwise, it, too, sports many wrecks of beached, scuttled, and half-burned ships. It is also said to be haunted by the long-clawed spirit of Unglur [note: if you have the MONSTER MANUAL III, use a boneclaw in place of the unique undead I crafted rather carelessly back in 1983] a bloodthirsty berserker among pirates in his day.

Unglur is the shape of a capital letter "P" with no hole in the middle, its upright 'back' running five miles northwest-southeast, its bottom stem being a mile across and running back northwest up its eastern side for about a mile before bulging out two miles north to begin the 'curve' of the 'P.' Unglur has no harbours, but does have an anchorage midway along its western shore, and a place where boats of all sizes can readily be beached where the stem and the bulge of the 'P' meet, on its eastern shore (prevalent winds make beaching easy, but getting a boat off again a matter of magic or much muscle on the part of parties of strong men on lines, or rowers on vessels offshore).

Raerest is the largest and outermost of the seven islands, being about the size of Thelve but with the addition of a three-mile-long-and-wide 'tail' jutting southeast off it (the longest straightline distance one can travel on Raerest is just under seventeen miles, north to south, and in general Raerest is about ten miles across, from east to west).

To some extent Raerest shelters the other six islands from the prevailing local winds, and is called 'the Prow' by some Sword Coast sailors for this reason. The eastern shore of this island offers almost a dozen good anchorages, but the winds and currents rake its other shores.

Raerest is dominated by 'the Shield,' a huge spine of high rock that curves along its westernmost edge. From end to end of Raerest several different sorts of rock can be seen, not just the uniform granite of the other islands, and the upthrust rocks of the Shield hold much soft, easily-gleaned copper; in many places a man with a sharp tool can carry off a basketful of very pure ore in a day, and many small embrasures and hollowed-out holes scarcely larger than the insides of coffins betray the minings of the past.

At the heart of Raerest are a line of three tiny, spring-fed lakes (paralleling the eastern flank of the Shield. At the northern end of this chain of lakes is a large, nameless freshwater swamp inhabited by lizardfolk, who regard Raerest as their own and hunt across it, hurling nets to take seabirds, setting out tidal weir-nets to reap fish from the sea, and maintaining clam beds in the swamp-mouth sands. They will hide from intruders until what they see as the right moment to attack.

At the southern end of the chain of lakes, in a bay on Raerest's southeastern shore, is a splendid natural harbour. Its shores are covered with in the overgrown ruins of Roaringcrest, a onetime pirate stronghold that was destroyed in an afternoon by one of the Twilight Three, unleashing deadly spells that left the port a place of wild and unreliable magic, where a crimson death and a darktentacles are known to lurk, and deadly automatons stalk. Sword Coast pirates tell lurid tales of the treasure that lies scattered for the taking in the collapsed and riven homes and sheds of Roaringcrest-treasure still largely unclaimed, in the face of its waiting perils.

And that's all I have on these seven islands. Not much, but certainly enough to get in the way of some campaign plans. Jerry, if it's the tabula rasa sort of terra incognito you need for your campaign, most of the Pirate Isles off the Sword Coast are entirely undetailed, and NDAs still cover the offshore islets near Baldur's Gate.

These particular so-close-offshore islands received this level of detail because I intended them as a campaign setting if the mages in the Company of Crazed Venturers relocated to Candlekeep (one of my players had expressed an interest in "conquering Candlekeep from within and becoming its defenders," so as to have what he saw as the PERFECT base for an adventuring company: access to all the spells he could think of, and a huge staff of servants/defenders. The idea never got off the ground, thankfully, though I did use the Raetheless for one of my limited-duration "library campaigns" in 1989.

I hope this lore is of help, and didn't collide with your campaign plans TOO harshly.

So saith Ed.

And there you have it; another superb little corner of the Realms for a campaign. Right on the doorstep of Candlekeep, too!

love to all,


January 3, 2005: Hello, all.

Mumadar, your question has been discussed by Ed and various Wizards staffers, but he informs me that NDAs firmly prevent him discussing this topic here at this time (which should suggest an answer of sorts to you, yes?).

However, I do bring the first part of Ed's regretful reply to Capn Charlie:

I'm sorry for both the lateness and paltry nature of this response, but I couldn't even begin to provide any exhaustive list of festivals and events. Not only do I run into NDA trouble right away, but every single day in the calendar features something or several somethings (if one includes both purely local traditions and all religious ceremonies, and covers all three of those countries).

What I will provide, though, are a handful or two of 'around the year' observances from Turmish that have hitherto not been published anywhere (to be added to the 'big holidays' noted in the Calendar of Harptos, and any temple holidays celebrated by faiths you want to make locally prominent in your campaign). I hope this will prove useful to you and all Realms DMs. If details I've given here don't fit your needs or likes, just change them: I see these sort of 'common festivals' as varying widely in local details, across the Heartlands.

Hammer 4 Wintershield
A day off work, whereon folk sip prepared, warmed ciders and broths (often laced with herbs for health and to bring on visions), stay inside and warm (huddling together or taking to a communal bed with many blankets and cloaks), and tell tales of what interested them or was important in the year just done, and what they intend to do or should deal with, or that everyone 'should keep an eye on,' in the year ahead. Such discussions inevitably lead into discussions of politics and wars and the intentions of rulers, and maps and far-farers are usually consulted. It's considered lucky to possess and examine a map on Wintershield, and sales of such things (however inaccurate, irrelevant, or sketchy) tend to be brisk in the tenday preceding this day. Some folk, particularly in Amn, Waterdeep, Sembia, and Chessenta, believe that this 'favour of the gods' comes not from hauling out old maps to consult, but by purchasing a new map every year and examining both it and older ones.

Few folk trade or try to travel on Wintershield, and those who dare to do so are often considered mad, evil, desperate, or defiant of the gods.

Alturiak 10 Sarkhuld
On this day, centuries ago, someone called Sark (or something similar) defeated many monsters (some tales say orc chieftans, others relate a varied sequence of beasts that always include a peryton, a leucrotta, and a manticore) and made his land or town or hamlet or farm safe from such perils for many years. To keep Turmish strong, monsters (ideally, an orc, peryton, and so on) must be hunted and slain on this day - - and someone, somewhere in Turmish, must cook and eat a portion of such a beast.

To guard against the downfall of the kingdom and specific locales and family fortunes in particular, folk of Turmish purchase (often from traveling peddlers, who are carefully policed by priests in the land to make absolutely certain they are selling genuine substances) vials of orc (or pertyon, or etc.) blood, and everyone in a dwelling must dab at least a drop on their tongues, another on their foreheads, and let a third fall into a flame or hot fire-hearth.

It's not known what orcs, perytons, leucrottas, and manticores do on Sarkhuld, aside from keeping very well hidden or away from Turmish - - but deaths down the years hint that orcs dwelling in the Orsraun Mountains try to slay at least one human each on this day; some "monster hunts" in Turmish are closer to pitched battles.

Ches 17 Spellfall
On this date, centuries ago, a beautiful sorceress was slain by a wizard in a duel wherein both shapechanged, much land was traversed and divers trees set afire, and the struggle ended when the dying woman (back in her own shape) fell from the sky, blazing like a bonfire.

Her name, that of her slayer, and the reason for their dispute are all forgotten, but the place where her body (that collapsed into ash, on the spot) landed (claimed by literally thousands of folk to be this or that patch of their own gardens or meadows) sprouted a rich profusion of flowers in a few days.

To keep the land strong, beautiful women with sorcerous powers volunteer to be set afire by means of a spell when aloft (taken there either by their own magic or by a spell cast by another), and fall to the ground, where local priests of ALL faiths resident in Turmish (regardless of portfolio) agree to heal (and if necessary raise to life) the women. These volunteers are known as "Sarathsa," but this name is known to be that of a sorceress who was transformed by a deity (there's sharp disagreement over which one) upon landing during a Spellfall observance some four centuries back, into a servant of that deity - - rather than being the name of the original sorceress.

It's crucial that a Sarathsa willingly put herself forward to enact this ritual, and that she suffer pain during the fall - - but there's no need for her to make the landing unprotected, or be burned without any protection, and spells are usually cast to minimize both sorts of damage. It's considered unlucky if any town, marketplace, or larger settlement in Turmish doesn't enact this ritual (and those who dwell elsewhere will send at least one representative from every hamlet to go and see a ritual enacted elsewhere, to ward off ill fortune from their own locale), and angry folk of Turmish are likely to drive out any priest who refuses to take part, or tear down their abode, shrine, or temple. (This doesn't mean that every last priest in a temple must get out and be seen casting spells to aid a Sarathsa, just that every temple or shrine should have a holy representative who does take part.)

After the ritual is done, and watchers celebrate by drinking, the Sarathsa should be whole - - that is, free of all disformities, sickness, and physical damage. The various priests must do whatever is necessary to make her that way, and so some diseased women choose to become Sarathsas so they'll get wholly healed, for free and without obligation.

So saith Ed.

I'll post the next part of his reply tomorrow, beginning with the festival of Walkskull.

love to all,


January 4, 2005: Hello, all. Ed's reply to Capn Charlie, relating festivals celebrated in Turmish (and elsewhere, too) continues through the year:

Tarsakh 24 Walkskull
The tail-end of winter always brings the hungriest days to Turmish, regardless of how bountiful the harvests of the preceding fall were. "Hungriest" is a relative term, of course: few folk in this verdant land are likely to starve, and far fewer (even in the mountains) will freeze while out on dangerous, desperate hunting forays to try to get something to eat than will perish in more northerly climes.

Nevertheless, larders tend to be rather empty, and folk sick of salted, pickled, dried, and long-cellared food. Fresh fruit may still be months away, but on this day elders in every village take skins of fruit liqueurs out on their backs, walking with escorts of their kin and fellow elders who carry human skulls in their hands in token of how near to us all death may be, and offer mouthfuls of the drink to anyone they see, to impart the hope of bounty to come.

On the night of Walkskull, most villagers gather at a tavern and get loudly, boisterously drunk together, with much dancing, laughter, tale-telling, and trysting for pleasure (out on the land, with blankets and daring) afterwards. Many shops open late or not at all, on the morning after Walkskull, and workers fail to appear - - and by custom and decree, this is tolerated without penalty or punishment. Wherefore "the morning after Walkskull" has become a Turmish expression for workers sitting around and talking rather than working, when customers are few or nonexistent.

Mirtul 6,7,8,9 The Running
Four days in which most shops are closed and markets cancelled, and apprentices and other workers visit parents, kin, or friends (they can reach, and return from, within the four day period), taking with them food or drink so informal "family feasting" can occur when they get together. This is a time for catching up on family news and local gossip, showing children to grandparents, making deals and taking home payments or gifts, and so on; temples in Turmish take part in this, allowing all novices and priests who desire to 'time off' from prayers and temple duties to go and see family; birth patterns tell all that many children are conceived each year at this time.

The roads and trails are crowded with travelers during The Running, and brigandage is always a problem, but folk in Turmish help each other along the way without payment (innkeepers, tavernmasters, and wagon-repairers excepted).

Kythorn 14 Guildhall
A day of trade fairs in all cities and towns of Turmish, in which shops are closed and usual daily work suspended. During Guildhall, traders from afar and almost all guilds and trade cabals of Turmish display new products, innovations, fashions, and the extent and quality of their services and wares. This is usually done by means of glittering displays, but sometimes also through small plays, or hired-by-the-guilds entertainments (jugglers, "magic shows" put on by hedge-wizards, and minstrelry) at which prizes or free samples are distributed.

So saith Ed.

More to come, of course, on the morrow.

love to all,


January 4, 2005 THO said: As it happens, Jerryd, I can handle this one without awakening Ed in his lair.

What follows quotes heavily from Ed's "secret notes" on Cormyr, given to his players (including me) after we investigated such things, in-game:

Vangerdahast is BOTH "Chairman Emperius of the College of War Wizards" AND "Chairman Emeritus of the College of War Wizards." The first version is the title he gave himself (after a suggestion by Elminster, with whom he was then still on friendly terms) when he re-organized the College of the War Wizards (the organization, housed in a few spell-trapped rooms of the Royal Court in Suzail, with "mirror" records hidden somewhere else rural) that confers formal membership in the War Wizards, keeps rolls of members (genealogies, truenames, identifying marks, oaths of membership, reports by them and about them, heraldry [personal sigils and runes], notes of spells they've created, and so on).

Vangey officially became "Chairman Emeritus" when he got too busy to personally direct the daily operations of this College, and turned it over to a quartet of senior (and aging) War Wizards (yes, as "reward jobs"for their declining years).

However (being the crafty power-monger that Vangey, above all, is) he never resigned his formal title, and indeed still draws pay from the Royal Treasury under it (he gets no salary as Royal Magician, though as Court Wizard he controls a very large budget that isn't supposed to be spent on himself beyond replacing his robes). This also keeps his four replacements reporting to him almost daily, as opposed to filing written reports once a month (or more often, upon demand) to the Court Wizard.

So the two titles both get used now, almost interchangeably. The mangled real-world Latin of both comes from Elminster, of course, who seems to enjoy these personal little jokes.

I'm sure Garen Thal, George Krashos, Grant Christie, Tom Costa, and other sages of things Cormyrean will want to read this, too. And yes, Jerry, the Shield on Raerest IS a set of towering cliffs on the western (seaward) side, with the beginnings of a few seacaves sl-l-o-o-wly being carved out of their VERY hard rock by the tireless Sea of Swords.

Yours in Realmslore,


January 5, 2005: Hello, all.

Krash, Ed tells me he'll be sending an "elder runes" reply for you soon.

As for the matter of who's head of the War Wizards: Caladnei certainly is (post-ELMINSTER'S DAUGHTER). Chairing "The College of" the War Wizards is a different thing than leading them. To put it in Australian (and Canadian) terms, it's like having a Governor-General and a Prime Minister. The first has the formal, heraldic, empty power, and the latter runs the country (or pretends to).

Ed's unfolding reply to Capn Charlie continues, as our march through a year reaches the hot months:

Flamerule 9 Fists
This is a day of jousting in Cormyr and Sembia and unarmed wrestling in Aglarond, Thay, Turmish and the Vilhon Reach in general, Westgate, the Dales, and among forest-dwellers across the Heartlands (yes, Wild Elves, too). In Thay, slave 'champions' are used in contests.

Much betting takes place, and there are usually some matches ('frolics') that involve unclad wrestlers of both genders, and/or oiled bodies to make everyone slippery, and/or wrestling in food (often the last mouldy 'larder jellies' [sugared fruit concoctions] left from the previous winter). Formally this was a day when real scores would be settled, sometimes to the death, under cover of these mock combats, but in almost all places this has been outlawed, and fierce punishments are enacted on those who try to harm foes or cause 'accidents' to befall rivals or enemies.

No real work takes place during Fists, except in taverns and among food-sellers at the various combat venues. In Cormyr, two days before Fists and four days after Fists are allowed 'off work' for traveling to and from events, and recovery from participation in them. A lot of games of skill (which are gambled upon enthusiastically) with cards, dice, thrown darts, and the like now take place on Fists, so the unathletic can participate by some means other than howling support and placing bets. Local wealthy merchants, officials, and rulers often 'put up' prizes for such contests, and for exhibitions of martial skill such as archery and 'down-the-horse' (wherein strongfolk strive to knock a full-sized horse off its hooves faster than rivals).

Eleasias 22 Misrule
Formerly a day when children could give their parents orders, apprentices could do the same to their masters, underpriests instruct and command their superiors, and so on, this "celebration" has been marred by much violence and repercussions down the years, and has evolved into a day when the apprentices of rival guilds clash in street brawls (in cities) for the title of "King of the Streets' (usually trying to bring an actual high-backed wooden seat or 'Throne' to a central spot, and keep it there, whilst preventing other bands of brawlers from installing their thrones).

In rural areas, rather than battling over thrones, large mobs of youths gather for violent, landscape-spanning games of 'Claim the Crown' that last until sunset (when local rulers or temples provide meals and much drink, the latter usually laced with sleep-inducing substances to quell trouble).

Claim the Crown is a sport akin to Capture the Flag, involving two teams trying to outscore each other. A point is scored by bringing the Crown (who is usually a beautiful woman clad in polished-bright chainmail who must not be harmed, and who can choose to hide, flee, or cooperate), to established 'goal' spots, one for each team. The Crown can be physically restrained (and is usually carried) by participants, but must not be rendered unconscious, bound, or confined within anything (in some local variants, the Crown is carried in an open coffin, or seeks to remove her armour and toss it away whilst the team possessing her seeks to prevent this; if she's wearing less than half the pieces when she reaches the scoring spot, no point can be scored until she's clad again).

Sometimes several Crowns take part in a Misrule match, one succeeding another as each becomes weary or overly battered. Local clergy and wizards heal participants, officiate the scoring, and magically teleport the Crown to various (usually random) spots so play can resume after each 'claim.' Claim the Crown is usually played in terrain affording cover, often rolling pastureland, woodlots, and forest - - but the scoring spots are usually hills or other easily-seen places.

Eleint 28 Brightswords
A day when guards and soldiers parade in glittering array, give demonstrations of martial skill (archery and bombardment are popular) or stage mock battles, and persons desiring to join their ranks are given chances to demonstrate their prowess (usually with wooden practise weapons, in contests against veteran soldiers). Weaponmakers and vendors sell their wares openly in the markets, experts who can hurl or juggle weapons show off their skills, and there are horse races open to all (including wagon races, and archery-from-the-saddle races). Wealthy merchants, local officials, and rulers give prizes (usually a trophy full of coins) to the winners of such contests - - and spies employed by most governments watch for promising recruits, known villains sneaking in to steal or purchase weapons, and sources of good weapons or well-trained mounts.

So saith Ed.

Yes, there'll be more to come tomorrow.

love to all,


January 6, 2005: Ed's reply to Capn Charlie about annual festivals and holidays concludes, thus:

Marpenoth 7 Stoneshar
On this day, ceremonial building is begun. It's seen as the best day of the year for the construction of a building to begin (with the digging out of cellars and the laying of at least one foundation-stone), because such an act is thought to confer the favour of all the gods not just on the place where the act of construction is commenced, but on the building that results.

However, even if no buildings are needed or will be built, prayers are offered to the gods as two stones are placed, one sited in the earth or on bedrock, and the other placed atop the first, in a ritual representing building.

Stoneshar is seen as a good day for beginning business ventures, making deals, signing contracts, and constructing small items (from pots to tools). Temples of Lathander, Gond, and Grumbar charge no fees during Stoneshar, and throw open their doors to all for priests to give advice, render aid, and demonstrate building methods, skills, and tools.

"The gods help those who help themselves" is a saying heard often during Stoneshar, an all-faiths festival in which all priesthoods refrain from punishment and destruction of any sort. There are no executions on Stoneshar, and it is not a day for idleness. Even children at play are encouraged to make things, even if their constructions are merely holes, sandcastles, or crude models: the industry is what's holy on this day, for by their exertions and the projects they begin, folk attract the favour of all the gods down upon them and where they dwell, until next Stoneshar. Conversely, sloth and laziness risks the displeasure of the gods (and all manner of misfortune, as "Beshaba dances unchained") on the individuals and their dwelling-place, for the year ahead.

Communal feasts (wherein all participants bring food, in what we modern real-world folk would call "potluck") are common in most places; in cities, these are often held at local temples or usually-private clubs (and yes, some clubs put on entertainments and 'dress the place up' in order to entice gawking visitors into joining, or to enhance their fearsome local reputations).

Uktar 20 Last Sheaf
Regardless of the actual end of harvest (usually at least a tenday or more earlier, though Turmish can be warm far later into the year than latitudes north of, say, the Lake of Dragons), this day of feasting is held in celebration of the year's bounty. Small gifts (traditionally, handkegs of ale, jars of preserves, and smoked fish and meats) are exchanged among neighbours, and "last letters" are gathered for carriage by ship captains and caravan merchants to points south (most points north are already inaccessible, thanks to coastal ice and inland snows). Many rulers send out clerks, envoys, and heralds to gather the last news, pleas, and requests from remote subjects before winter really closes in. In more mountainous parts of Turmish, hunt are held for stags and other big game; if successful, a second day of feasting follows.

Nightal 11 Howldown
Wolf hunts (and hunts of all other sorts of predators, from owlbears and trolls to brigands and orc bands) are held, with all able-bodied folk (mercenaries and adventurers are expected to take part, too, without thought of payment or gain) gathering into large hunting parties, and local spellcasters aiding in 'flushing out' prey. The intent is to eliminate predators who will endanger citizens and their livestock when food grows scarce in the worst depths of the winter.

Regardless of the success of the hunts, the night ends with large bonfires and much drinking and the telling of hunting tales. Elders who were great hunters in their day are toasted, and trophies (claws, horns, teeth, and heads of slain monsters) are distributed to be boiled clean and hung on walls and over mantels.

So saith Ed, who adds his hopes that Capn Charlie will enjoy these, as we all embark on another year of great gaming.

love to all,


January 7, 2005: Kentinal, herewith Ed of the Greenwood makes reply to your fortified manors queries:

Long before the formal idea of what has become the Silver Marches was first raised, Everlund saw the wisdom of nestling under the protection of Silverymoon, and so positioned itself in all ways as a friend and ally. Having rooted inhabitants dwelling on both sides of the Rauvin was seen as wise strategy by the rulers of both cities, and patrolling the lands between them so as to forge a (relatively) 'safe' slice of the wilderlands of the North as a welcome goal.

If folk settle in this forested region of gently rolling hills and carve out small farms or build dwellings (necessarily fortified for protection against owlbears, brigands, and wandering foraging bands of goblins, orcs, and bugbears), that's seen as highly desirable to further 'anchor' the region.

Most such landowners build in the lands between Silverymoon and Everlund so as to live in seclusion (they may be wizards wanting solitude for study, various folk who want privacy because they don't adhere to comfortable societal norms or fit into the 'sort of folk accepted by most others' [such as lycanthropes, drow, members of various cults, and so on]), but within reach of the services, goods, and customers or sources of recruits offered by the generally tolerant, 'good' folk of Everlund and Silverymoon. Few of these landowners (who are known locally as "forestholders") are stupid enough to dispute the authority of the armed patrols sent out by either Silverymoon or Everlund.

In short, yes, the forestholders are independent of the authority of either city, but they see the value of being able to rely on the patrols to 'keep down' the perils outside their walls, and when REAL trouble knocks at their gates (orc hordes, fell armies on the march; that sort of thing), the opportunity to run to the protection of walled Silverymoon, or the numbers afforded by the population of Everlund, so as to be able to reach Silverymoon alive or take barge down the Rauvin and out of the area.

As a result, it's rare indeed for any forestholder to argue with a patrol in any way, providing water, food, shelter and stabling at short notice, and for low fees - - but in return, the patrols always DO pay for what they need, treat the forestholders with polite respect, and even volunteer their muscle for timber-lifting (for fence and building repairs, extrication of mired wagons, and so on).

Most of these fortified manors are little more than a stables, a pantry/granary, a springhouse (most of them are sited where springs of drinkable water come to the surface, in this area of many such springs), a kitchen garden, a carriage house or workshed, and a dwelling [however small or large and elaborate - - and most start small, and are added to by wings and towers, as needs dictate over the passing years]. Building stone is plentiful and easily gathered, and most buildings are of stone, with roofs of wood and wood shingles, and encircling walls of a timber palisade reinforced by courses of stone blocks on the inside, and steep banks of earth on the outside (planted with creepers to hold the soil). Over the seasons, as the palisade rots, the place where it has been is "fired" [small fires built in the cavities] to bake the mud on one side, and the cement-like mortar of the stone walls on the other side, hard - - and the cavities are then filled in with stone rubble and refuse.

Most holds can't support themselves unless growing conditions can be aided with spells (they haven't the space and enough days of warmth to grow enough vegetables to feed many mouths). Few have enough long-term residents to gather enough wild food, or do enough hunting, to keep tables spread throughout an entire year (especially the long, overly harsh winters, which has led to some of the more formidable forestholders abandoning their holds every fall for warmer dwellings in Tethyr and parts south, and returning in spring to, if necessary, re-conquer their own holds from whoever's moved in during the cold months).

Though such holdings tend to cluster together along trails (especially close to Everlund), there are no hamlets: the authorities in both Everlund and Silverymoon discourage such forming, because they know such places will inevitably spring up around guardposts established by their patrols - - making the guardposts more inviting targets and endangering the patrols because potential attackers will be able to dwell in, or hide among, the buildings, paddocks, sheds, and side-alleys that are a part of every settlement.

Kentinal, I'm guessing you're seeing this region of the Realms a little too much like real-world Eruope, where no matter how "wild" the terrain is, there's always a defined border and someone claiming the lands on both sides of it.

Even in the most-heavily-settled part of the inland Sword Coast North that we're discussing, we have a frontier situation where boundaries are ill-defined and even the extent of patrolled areas change with seasons, resources, and perceived danger. True authority tends to end at about the point of your drawn sword, if you see what I mean. In real-world terms, this is SOMEWHAT like the Hollywood (i.e. endless) version of the American 'Wild West,' only a lot colder and so more dictated by sheer survival needs.

However, your question about borders elsewhere in the Realms is a good one. There are "a number of small, private fortified manor houses that serve as rather exclusive inns (often patronized by caravan companies, adventuring bands, and parties of envoys)," to use my own earlier words, in easternmost Amn and Tethyr, northernmost Sembia, in the southeasternmost Tashalar, throughout the Border Kingdoms, and around Hillsfar - - not to mention many other areas I haven't really thought about in any detail.

Prime adventuring country, in other words. Go for it! :}

So saith Ed.

Whose last few sentences remind me of the Ghost Holds nigh Battledale, wherein we Knights have spent many a hair-raising day. An isolated hold would be a great setting for a Clue-style murder mystery, too.

love to all,


January 8, 2005: Krash, greetings of the turning season back to you from Ed and from myself. It gives Ed great pleasure to spin a somewhat teasing answer to thy recent query, as follows:

Ah, yes: elder runes.

George, "elder runes" is a collective modern-day Realms term, probably coined by an unknown human sage at least a thousand years ago (because it's about that long ago that the term gradually seeps into common usage among students and workers of magic), referring to a growing (as they're "rediscovered") collection of magical symbols (probably NOT of common origins) used by long-ago workers of magic.

More specifically, we know that some Netherese (and a handful of their scattered descendants, after the fall of that realm) used them, and also that before that, dwarves of Besilmer employed some of what we now call 'elder runes, ' and may well have merely augmented and expanded upon runes in use earlier among the Stout Folk. The names now used for many of the known elder runes hint that elves also used them, and adventurers know that certain shamans among the goblinkin (orcs, goblins, and especially hobgoblins) draw them to this day.

There are tales that certain 'sensitive' beings can feel the nearby presence of any elder rune, and that runes of the same sort are somehow linked (no matter how distant one drawing of Angras may be from another, teleportation of a person, item, or just a verbal message [emitted aloud but in some cases also stored in the rune until it is next touched, or even after] between them is possible).

Although the runes have acquired 'wayfarer' meanings (noting the presence of shelter, for instance), it's clear they formerly also had other meanings and purposes.

Most of them possessed now-exhausted magical powers, a few still store these magics, and almost all of them, if whole (i.e. the drawn glyph isn't broken by damage to the drawing or the surface it's graven upon), can be 'recharged' with magic by those who know how.

And there's the rub: elder runes have magical powers only if imbued with such by many now-forgotten spells that can be cast upon them at any time. Most of the beings still 'alive' who know such magics are either dragons or undead (usually liches). It's certain that some dragons and baelnorn deliberately recharge elder runes often to bolster defenses around lairs, caches, hoards, and ruined dwellings.

In Realmsplay, I've never detailed those spells, but used the runes as (usually) harmless 'dungeon decoration,' but sometimes as waiting magical traps that unleash just about any spell effect I wanted them to, to enhance whatever unfolding adventure the Knights were currently having. (In short, they were one more of my DM's 'bag of tricks,' useful because their mere presence and numbers could help to 'steer' the Knights into or away from a particular doorway or tomb, by hinting that a place was well-guarded or important.) As I recall, THO can impart a particularly fond memory of one elder rune that, ahem, entertained her.

So saith Ed.

And yes I can (grrr): a pair of runes, on floor and (lofty, very hard to see from the floor) ceiling, that slammed me back and forth between them many times in a reverse gravity trap that we dubbed a 'wham wham' (fall up, slam hard into ceiling, activate elder rune, fall down to slam hard on the floor, reactivating the rune there to make you fall up again - - and, of course, lather, rinse, and repeat). I got plenty tired of that one, believe you me.

love to all,


January 9, 2005: Hello, all.

Ardashir, Ed used to pen lots of these little "his encounters with folk of the Realms" bits for the amusement of us Knights and various TSR folk. I'll see if I can't worm some of them out of him, to share here.

Meanwhile, Ed wades once more into matters wizardly, courtly, and Cormyrean:

Jerryd, Garen Thal has stated things precisely. To his reply to you, let me just add these tidbits:

"Court Wizard" has duties as Garen Thal has outlined, but to them add: official (daily, at the Royal Court) advisor to the realm on all matters of magic, liaison between the Crown and the War Wizards, and proclaimer of official policy on matters magical. This is the "duty to the realm" side, and is separate from "Royal Magician" (personal bodyguard mage of the Obarskyrs and personal adviser to the monarch), because of course the two offices could be held by two different people.

It should be noted that the Royal Magician serves the ruling FAMILY first ("the Crown") rather than individual monarchs, although they advise the ruling monarch. In other words, all the "-ahast" wizards have seen their primary duty as being to stable rulership of the realm (so they could conceivably dupe, murder, depose, thwart, or deliberately leave unprotected a foolish, reckless, insane, or otherwise unsuitable ruler).

Just so we're clear, the "College of War Wizards" isn't all of the War Wizards, but rather is a small inner body (as the British "College of Arms" wasn't in earlier times all heralds working and deciding things together, but rather the governing body of blazonry), with duties just as Garen Thal stated. Your "option b" is the correct one: Vangey assembled the four senior War Wizards into his replacement as 'chair' of this small administrative board. They act as 'chairman' without having any official titles, just pay raises and everyone being firmly told where they now rank in the chain of command, and what authority they now wield.

Caladnei hasn't assumed a "Chairman" title, but theoretically she could (as "the new Vangey," following in his footsteps of doing whatever she sees as necessary). Remember, she was a reluctant conscript for the role of Vangey's replacement, was initially an uncomfortable outsider not wanting to ruffle any feathers, she hates formality and matters bureaucratic, and she (correctly) sees Vangerdahast's unofficial assumption of being 'Untitled But Absolute Lord Commander of Everything' as being a mistake born of his need (as a detail man) to run EVERYTHING.

She sees matters thus (as do Laspeera, Alusair, and Filfaeril): It's morally and practically wrong to concentrate this much power in one individual (who's feared and mistrusted by the populace as a result, rather than being their accepted ruler), and it's also unsustainable: it simply wears out the one individual and makes him or her too easily susceptible to being distracted or simply lack the time to do a proper job of anything (too much 'my back is turned so the mice play' possibilities).

So as Caladeni doesn't want all of these headaches but does very much want the support of the three women just mentioned, and they see things the same way, she's allowing others to do far more than Vangey did.

Leader of the War Wizards isn't an official title for the same reason both "Chariman" titles were invented: Vangerdahast (like his predecessors, the earlier "-ahast" mages) wanted it that way. Doing things unofficially slows opposition to any increase in personal power, and Vangey was always impatient with "all of these venal, grasping, self-interested and dull-witted do-nothings" at Court who "got in his way" of running Cormyr.

I'd like to caution you firmly AGAINST writing up for the War Wizards your proposed "executive board" (the quartet) that oversees day-to-day operations, and an "administrative or advisory board" (pre-existing the Emeritus title) of senior wizards each responsible for a different function or aspect of War Wizard operations (Purple Dragon attachments, Imperial Navy attachments, investigative teams, border outpost assignments, etc.).

What you envisage is what always develops in real-world fairly stable and prosperous countries, yes (massive, ever-expanding bureaucracy), and the modern American example is a case in point. It's what Cormyr will develop over time, probably. But it's definitely not what the Forest Kingdom has now, because Vangerdahast prevented it. He found a 'strong right hand' he could trust (Laspeera) because he had to sleep sometime and couldn't effectively be in two places at once, but otherwise kept power concentrated in his own hands precisely to AVOID the turf-battles and infighting and inflexibility that develops (to use modern real-world America again, consider the decades of infighting between the CIA and the FBI, and the recent proliferation of security agencies all established for pretty much the same reason: executives in the White House at a particular time didn't want to work with or through the CIA, FBI, NSA, and all of the existing others, but preferred their own new organization under their own personal control).

Like Vangey (so she could have the same freedom to act as he did) Laspeera had no formal title, but everyone at Court (and every last War Wizard) KNEW her authority, just as they did Vangey's, and obeyed them both absolutely. Vangey spell-peered into Laspeera's mind daily, and she submitted to this mental invasion willingly, knowing he constantly HAD to be sure she wasn't getting traitorous thoughts or even wanting to do things differently from him: they had to speak as one, for the good of the realm.

Vangerdahast was firmly stamping out all tendencies among the War Wizards to form cliques (what could be worse for the Realm than a War Wizard traitor [with some War Wizard friends], perhaps acting with, or behind, the latest ambitious rebel nobles?), and worked hard to be the sort of boss who might turn up at the greenest War Wizard's elbow to work with him or stare hard and critically at what he was doing, and so 'cut out' middle managers. The fact that all of the War Wizards wield magic makes the real-world parallels of memos and office misinformation and so on very weak.

So what Cormyr actually has is a quartet of old fussies who see to the formalities of who's registered as a War Wizard and so on, NOT "day-to-day operations," and it entirely lacks any "administrative or advisory board... of senior wizards each responsible for a different function or aspect of War Wizard operations." Vangey consulted War Wizards (and sages, and just plain Cormyreans) about situations and places if he thought it was necessary, but he'd have no truck at all with an advisory board: he preferred either to gather information personally or to interrupt a War Wizard's lovemaking after midnight to tell the fellow to "put the lass aside and get to Arabel, RIGHT NOW," and talk to these dozen people and report back their views on Topic X.

There's little point in anyone crafting Realmslore that's knowingly different from 'the official line' or what's soon going to be published (ahem), so forget the advisory board. Please.

So saith Ed.

Who's saving you work, Jerry, you fortunate fellow! I can add a note from Realmsplay to this: Torm wanted to know just who did what among the War Wizards (How does the command structure of the War Wizards work? Who gives orders to whom?), probably for purposes of subversion and bribery, and he discovered (the hard way) that Vangey gave all the orders, sometimes through various other War Wizards (not always the same ones), so no one really knew where they stood. Note the collegiality of the two chess-playing War Wizards we see briefly in the Cormyr novels (Elminster introduced Vangey to chess, of course, and its popularity swiftly spread among the War Wizards as they sought to please and emulate 'the Old Man' [Vangey]); this easygoing working together resulted from most War Wizards NOT resenting their rank and superiors - - because they can't really tell what their own rank is, or their superiors are, except by rough age/experience and merit (with a FEW exceptions like the alarphons, Vangey, and Laspeera).

Ed and several of us 'original players' actually discussed this amorphous feature of the War Wizards once, and he said it, like many things in the Realms, was designed for maximum playability (maximum freedom for a DM). Of course, times of change (Azoun IV dead, Alusair as regent, and Vangey retired and Caladnei in his place) also make for maximum playability.

Cunning, cunning Ed...

love to all,


January 10, 2005: Hello, all. Here from some old e-mails, are words of Ed Greenwood's relevant to Laughing Wizard's query, reproduced here with Ed's permission:

I doubt I'll ever get the chance to publish the original version of Spellfire. Because of the cut-and-paste-and-photocopy second draft I had to do (it was written in longhand and then typed, BC = before computers), I'd have to reconstruct it anyway.

It ran to about 220,000 words, but was later, before I handed in the first draft, cut to 150,000 words (which is what the contract specified), and initially did what Jim Ward and Jeff Grubb asked me to: "show the Realms to the waiting world. Shoot the works, write whatever you like, but show us many of the most powerful characters. You'll be doing a book a year, at least, so don't bother to tell us all of their stories, just bring 'em onstage to get everyone interested in them."

When I said that last requirement sounded like it would make a book with no plot or a dogs-breakfast of a plot, Jean Black, then head of TSR Books, suggested I put some world-shaking menace into the book that would draw everyone important into being involved. Hence spellfire.

- - -

Spellfire was never supposed to be available to just anyone, and the attempts to make it into a character class or game ability for characters have been disasters, because it's a world-beater. From the first, I wanted to underscore the tragedy (hence the original fate of Shandril's mother) that it consumes anyone who has it: it's a death sentence. So Shandril was doomed from the first. And so was her unborn child: to heal Narm, she had to sacrifice the child inside her. THAT was something TSR ran a mile from!

- - -

I never wanted this to be a trilogy. As I told Mary Kirchoff when she took over Books Dept., I was against deliberate fantasy trilogies (which almost always have an 'unfinished' Book One, an 'everybody runs everywhere and nothing gets resolved' Book Two, and a 'grand parade with trumpet flourishes, impossible for the good guys to win but somehow they do' Book Three). Ongoing series yes, but trilogies no.

This meant everything was just left hanging until Mary departed, and Jim Lowder then asked me to "at last" write the sequel to Spellfire, which became Crown of Fire.

Crown is a plot disaster, and that's my fault, because I overwrote again and couldn't wrap things up properly in the wordcount given. I also very much wanted to introduce more toys for gamers to play with (like bringing in Mirt and Oprion Blackstone and the sewers of Zhentil Keep and the Hidden House), and doing so pulled the story out of shape. So did the editorial requirements to use beholders, the Zhents (especially Manshoon), the Knights of Myth Drannor, Elminster and Storm ("to make sure readers know this is a Realms book" [!]) and "a new villain, give us a good one and destroy him; an undead would be neat" (the lich lord). I wanted to kill Delg to force Shandril to be the hero by herself, and did so (knowing many readers would just HATE it), and I wanted to show Sarhthor's self-sacrifice. A lot of beholder motivation scenes, wherein they discussed what to do with human underlings, got cut by the editors (I wish we'd had web enchancements then: they could have been published but kept out of the narrative, which, yes, they really slowed down) and those would have been useful to DMs, too.

Hand of Fire was written "to finish up Shandril's story, and her with it." I had to kill her off, and didn't want to (in that manner), and decided to use the book to bring onstage Hesperdan and the Maimed Wizard and some other useful future toys, and to give readers a glimpse of Scornubel and a good look at what a Sword Coast caravan run was like. Again, it was suggested I bring in Mirt and the Seven and Sharantyr for walk-on parts, "because readers want to see them."

- - -

Many readers, because of what was done to Spellfire, just don't understand one of the sideline things I was trying to do with that book: turn fantasy cliches on their heads. The "hero" is a weakling (and stays that way), and the heroine is the strong one - - but unwilling. She wanted adventure (and be careful what you wish for...). So she's not confident, she doesn't act cool and collected, and she screws up - - a lot. Which is what most real "heroes" do, of course.

Those cliches? Well, no one ever kills off an adventuring party, because, hey, they're the heroes. So, wham, I killed off the Company of the Bright Spear. The all-wise wizard always stumbles by chance onto the scene when folks need rescuing and instantly knows EXACTLY what's going on and what to do - - so I had Elminster and Florin stroll right through a battle, with Old El oblivious. No one ever goes to the bathroom, or attacks the good guys when they're asleep, making love, or otherwise at a disadvantage (whereas the good guys can ALWAYS do that to the bad guys). So I put in a scene (cut right away, because, saith TSR, we don't have bathroom humour in our books!) wherein Shandril goes off into the bushes near the rest of the Company, as they travel overland, and the Zhents who've been stalking them and waiting for just this opportunity attack the rest of the Company, who shout to Shandril for help. Being as she's a teenaged girl with her pants around her ankles, there's NO WAY she's coming out of those bushes just then, so she keeps yelling back, "Just a moment!" and so on. In most adventure fiction, from the original Wizard of Oz movie onwards, good guys and bad guys alike 'off' guards casually to get into fortresses. I wrote several such scenes - - and added little tales for the reader about just who this guard was, his dreams, his wife and kids back home, and so on, to drive home the loss of a life, rather than just passing it off as a moment of casual bloodshed.

You name the cliche, and I took a run at it. The problem is, only a few of my 'runs' survived, all distorted, as the book was hacked apart and then a few surviving pieces of it were stitched back together again into a quite different narrative.

Sometimes clumsily. For instance, there's a reference in the original published version of Spellfire to a darkenbeast (TSR name: I originally called them "dark horrors") attack on Harper's Hill, but that entire scene was chopped out. I remember getting a puzzled call from a TSR designer working on a monster compendium, later, wondering just what the hey these 'darkenbeasts' were, as he'd read the entire novel through three times and couldn't find them!

Also, the first printing of Spellfire refers to the toppling of Ferostil's "corpse" on page 50, but Ferostil is up and fighting again two pages later! This is the result of editors writing of an entire character out of the ranks of the Company, telescoping two fighters into one (in later printings of the first version of Spellfire, "corpse" got changed to "body" to cover this up). And so on. Because TSR didn't deliver the computer to me that I was supposed to write Spellfire on (it was to be my advance payment) until well after the "final" draft of the novel was handed in, various secretaries at TSR were called on to input sections of my manuscript, and (I was told) some of them edited my quasi-medieval English phrasings into modern American business English! And so on. The point is, the whole thing became a comedy of errors, and no one came out of it looking good.

My two biggest edit regrets: 1. The removal of many, many scenes of Narm and Shandril entombed together and deciding they're going to die, and only then deciding that if they're going to die anyway, they want to at least have the pleasure and comfort of having made love to someone once, and ONLY THEN having sex (of which my only description was "They twisted and arched fiercely in the darkness."). Not only did they discuss a lot of life issues and thereby show us both their own characters and lots of Realms attitudes, the result was ludicrous lust rather than tenderness: in the published book, the moment the lights are out and they're alone, it's off clothes and have at each other!

2. The removal of the entire layer of story of El and The Simbul battling the Malaugrym, so it then seems as if they and the Knights just heartlessly abandon Narm and Shandril. I tried to put back some of these in the Spellfire rewrite, but we all know what happened there. Among other things, that's why we ended up with TWO dracoliches at the end of Spellfire, rather than just one. Grrr.

- - -

Spellfire didn't work as well (as an assignment, to introduce a lot of the important NPCs of the Realms, and "show us the Realms") as I wanted it to, because the editing trimmed a lot of characters that weren't seen as germane to the main plot, but it still works: when you read it, the Realms does "come alive." It was supposed to be the first Realms book, and do the big tour of the world (that Bob ended up doing a bit of, in Streams of Silver), but I still, warts and all, like it, in that it remains an entertaining pulp read. Which is all I was being allowed to do, with TSR trimming out the satiric elements and the original picaresque presentation and the layers of meaning.

It also works as a commercial book, with sales (If I can believe the royalty statements) of well over 500,000 copies, if one counts all the foreign editions, and still going. As far as I know, that's territory that only Bob and Margaret & Tracy reach, so SOME readers liked it. A lot of "some" readers, actually. :}

- - -

Note the "New, Expanded Edition" notation on the cover of the second version of Spellfire. Don't believe it. I was given the chance to put back all the Malaugrym stuff, so long as my rewrite wasn't a word longer. In fact, this was emphasized to me thus: "For every word you add, you have to take one out." so I did that, trimming a lot of colour text and details from the original published version to put back a minimal, stripped-down version of the "El and The Simbul and the Knights battle the Malaugrym" into the book.

After it was all done, handed in, and accepted, another 10,000 or so words were sliced out of the book, without my involvement, "to bring it down to the length of Realms books we're now doing." This was done by going through the entire book trimming words here and there from almost every sentence - - which of course inevitably destroys the writing style. I'm STILL angry about that.

- - -

Hand of Fire was written in horrible haste, and revised even faster, and I'm not very pleased with the result. However, I was prevented from telling Shandril's tale as I originally wanted to tell it, in a four-book series, which was:

Hand of Fire: Narm and Shandril use a succession of ancient gates to 'jump' in stages towards Silverymoon, pursued hotly by the Zhents (whose infighting we're shown, in detail).

Narm and Shandril attract the attention of beings who guard the gates by using them, and by slow stages, they possess Narm and turn him into something far more ruthless, wise, and formidable-in-magic than he was. He betrays Shandril, and she defeats him but tries to rescue him, and gets them both (Narm badly wounded) to Silverymoon.

Book Four ("Tomb of Fire"?): In Silverymoon, Shandril is jumped by some of the Zhent agents there, but is rescued and taken to Alustriel. She pleads with Alustriel to aid Narm and herself, and Alustriel takes Narm away to be healed (and also to be a hostage for Shandril's good behaviour and remaining in Silverymoon) and privately wrestles with the decision as to whether or not just destroying Shandril will be best for the Realms.

Mirt and Asper (along with some other Harpers) make their way to Silverymoon. Sharantyr (following the trail of gates, and also slowly being influenced by their guardians) also comes to Silverymoon.

The Zhents (including priests and beholders) attack Silverymoon in earnest, calling in various powerful wizards as allies with promises of sharing spellfire, trying to get Shandril (and promising to stop and withdraw if she's surrendered to them). At the same time, the Cult of the Dragon attacks slyly in a 'snatch and grab' attempt as the Zhent battles are raging.

Shandril talks to Alustriel, is horrified to learn that Alustriel is keeping Narm as a hostage, even more horrified to learn about the bloodshed happening over her, and resolves to give herself to the Zhents to end it. Alustriel tells her that doing so won't end it, but Shandril bursts out of the Palace and fire-flies through the wards (literally burning a hole in them) to reach the Zhents.

Who of course start to fight among themselves over her, and be attacked by Dragon Cultists. Narm learns what she's done, and bursts out of his confinement to go and rescue her. Mirt and Asper and Sharantyr all get in on the fighting, which is outside the city, south of Southbank Silverymoon, and Mirt sacrifices himself to protect Shandril.

She's devastated, and even more stricken when Narm is mortally wounded. She hurls all her spellfire into healing him once more, leaving herself vulnerable, and all the Zhent wizards pour spells into her, seeking to gain control of her mind or body and thus of spellfire, rather than to destroy her.

Alustriel then 'rides the Weave' into Shandril, to try to prevent this, but is mentally fought to a halt by all the Zhents. Fearing Shandril's mind will be burnt out like a candle in this struggle, Alustriel mentally 'calls in' Elminster and The Simbul from distant corners of Faerūn, and they, too, 'ride the Weave' into Shandril's mind, and ruthlessly take control of her spellfire, using it to blast down Zhent after Zhent until the Zhents all flee.

Whereupon they restore Narm and Shandril physically, blot out most of their memories, 'pour' the spellfire out of her (forever) into the Weave, and leave her as... a young, pregnant lass with no powers save the natural ability to wield magic, and some dreams.

For their own protection, the three Chosen then grimly alter the appearances of Narm and Shandril (letting readers know they've had to do this many times before) and take them elsewhere to start a new life, and the (last Shandril) book ends with Shandril in the humble farm-cottage she shares with Narm, telling him of her strange, vivid, recurring nightmares of blasting beholders and skeletal dragons and being chased by sinister wizards, and wondering if it's the child she carries that's upsetting her mind so (written in such a way as to make the reader wonder if the unborn child is going to have spellfire, or be some sort of Great Villain or Great Monster).

The reader, and only the reader (not Narm or Shandril) is shown the wraith-like guardian creatures of the gates gathering in the cottage shadows, silently watching Shandril as she lies abed with Narm musing about this, to underscore that THEY'RE waiting for her babe to be born.

All of which, of course, sets up future books if (and only if) TSR wants them, centered on Shandril's child.

I did submit this to TSR, and Brian Thomsen mentioned that he liked it and "wanted to get to it after we've done all the other books we want you to do first." This was NOT a 'yes, yes, delay forever' gambit on his part, in my judgement, but an honest attempt to first accommodate my desire to do a Mirt and Durnan novel, and Crazed Venturers books, and a Knights of Myth Drannor series, and a Waterdeep "mean streets" series, and all the other things I hadn't had the chance to write in that seven years after Spellfire when I was so busy churning out and helping others write a flood of Realms products, to really establish the setting. And I can't and don't blame TSR for that: above all, they wanted to avoid the "Gary bottleneck" that had so plagued Greyhawk: Gary Gygax was so busy running TSR that he couldn't find the time to write the Greyhawk products he so sorely wanted to write, and had mentioned, and the fans were so (increasingly) impatiently waiting for, as the years passed... and passed... so there was NO WAY they were going to let the same thing happen with me.

Brian of course moved on after Wizards swallowed TSR, and Shandril's Saga became a trilogy.

As with so many things I didn't want to write but did, the threat was always "you write it or we'll get someone else to write it" - - and I sure as blazes didn't want anyone else to do the killing off of Shandril.

THO here.

I asked Ed about probably the only valid criticism Winterfox made, in the Spending 50 Dollars thread, among all the other nasty things she said about Spellfire: everybody calling each other "my lord" and "my lady."

Here's Ed's reply:

Husbands and wives refer to each other that way (regardless of what real-world rank or title they have or lack), as a sign of reverence and love. Servants, sworn bondsmen, and knights speak to their lords and ladies like that, too (a usage that should already be familiar to even those who've only seen Hollywood takes on medieval feudalism). Social inferiors address their superiors that way, also (sometimes mockingly), although in my original manuscript I have whores and serving wenches saying, "Milord" and "Milady" as distinct from "My Lord" and "My Lady," so you can tell the usages apart. The editors slashed those differences out of existence right away.

As to WHY all of these folk in the Realms talk this way: that's the way I wanted it. It was after all MY fantasy world back then, and I'd just been asked to introduce a wider audience to "my Realms," this manner of speech was a detail I wanted in the world I was creating. TSR was quite right, from their point of view, to simplify my courtly and archaic language, eliminate most duplications of character names in the world, and so on. But when it was just my world, I crafted it the way I wanted it.

I suppose Winterfox might criticize Tolkien for putting elves and dwarves into Middle-Earth, too, if he was still alive to give her the chance. It puzzles me why anyone who has so much hurtful and impolite to say about a fantasy world joins and participates in a Net forum dedicated to that fantasy setting, but only she can tell us that.

I DON'T disagree with most of the things she says about the Shandril books in what you sent me, because after the editing was done, a lot of the plot IS missing, I made some mistakes when crafting it in the first place, and I wasn't particularly interested in doing a plot-driven (as opposed to character-driven) book back then anyway. However, a lot of Winterfox's posts in what you've sent me this past year seem to involve tearing apart or advising against books she says she hasn't read, or bad-mouthing books not for what they are, but because the author didn't write the book Winterfox seems to think they should have written (both cardinal sins for any reviewer, that still get people fired in the print journalism world today; the third such sin - - not something I've seen any evidence of Winterfox doing, by the way - - being "knowing" what an author is thinking because of what their characters say, or pretending to be able to see their thoughts and so "know" their motives for, or intentions in, writing this or that).

I'll be interested to watch and see, when the Waterdeep book comes out, how much she tries to blame whatever she sees as "bad" in it on me, and assign what she sees as "good" about it to Elaine (who's a very good friend of mine, and whom I loved doing the book with), whose works she says she likes.

On the other hand, Winterfox has a way with words, and so would quite possibly make a good writer herself (and no, I'm not saying that so I can pounce on her writings and rend them, though as a professional editor YOU certainly have the skills and experience to very fairly do so, Lovely Hooded). Why don't you suggest that to her?

As attentive scribes know, I did just that last year, and she was NOT pleased. Ah, well. I hope these outtakes of Ed's help to answer your query, Laughing Wizard.

love to all,

George, most of Ed's books feel rushed because they ARE rushed. For a variety of reasons and causes (and in the early days of the Realms it was primarily because TSR's games people and Books and Publicity/Marketing and Licensing people were all competing for Ed's time, in an frantic attempt to make sure Ed did NOT become a bottleneck to the unfolding presentation of the Realms), Ed often writes a novel draft in a month or so, and does rewrites in about half the time. Moreover, TSR and now WotC have developed a habit (widespread in the publishing industry, by the way - - and as an editor, I know whereof I speak) of requiring more wordcount in a contract than they ever intend to put into the final book. Ed remembers being asking, for Spellfire, why the contract said 150,000 words when the editor had told him "under 120,000" and being told if he didn't bring it in at just over 150,000, he wouldn't get paid - - so he did that and later, sure enough, it got trimmed to under 120,000. Couple this with Ed always wanting to tell a 'wider' story than will fit into any book, and you get abrupt, rushed, whirlwind endings as he frantically tries to tie everything up.

What Ed would REALLY like to do is abandon the "generate outline, get it editor-approved, then follow it strictly" system so beloved of Marketing departments anywhere (though it isn't really necessary: check out the current catalogue blurb for Ed and Elaine's Waterdeep book to see how specific contents info can be 'weaseled around' if the Marketing Department doesn't know specific contents) and get approval for just the central situation/conflict of the novel and some specific characters, and then sit down, start writing, and "let the characters tell the story."

We'll see if it ever happens.

In the meantime, Ed replies to Winterfox:

That's fine. As a longtime reader and librarian, I love the variety of fantasy books I can dip into, too. To have that, of course there have to be writers who aren't my or your cup of tea. Thank goodness, or there'd only ever be one writer in the world churning out books, and we'd ALL read that one gal or guy, and have to wait for them to die before the next writer would get a chance. I'd love to please everyone, but I know I can't, and I can live with that.

BTW, I forgot one more usage of "my lord" and "my lady" (which you'll see in the Waterdeep book unless editing wipes it away): nobles, as a matter of established etiquette, address individuals they're trying to flatter or impress in this way even when they KNOW they're not talking to someone with a title - - and so do ardent non-nobles trying to seduce or impress someone who's caught their eye. For example, a noble who jostles a maidservant and causes her to drop something, but who wants to soothe her or even bed her because she's stunningly beautiful, might well call her "my lady" as he apologizes and helps her gather up whatever fell.

Also, pre-editing, "my lady" and "my lord" meant such 'false' addresses, or mere courtesy addresses (a soldier calling a senior priest he's never met before "my lord" to be polite), whereas "my Lady" and "my Lord" meant the speaker was addressing either their mate or someone who they've sworn fealty to.

So saith Ed.

Who's now working on his 174th book, I believe...

love to all,


January 10, 2005: Kentinal, Ed makes reply to your December followup query: "Can a Chosen achieve a final death as long as their deity provides a divine spark?"

I'd say no, not if their deity doesn't WANT to them to die. However, an unwilling, insane, or turned-against-the-deity Chosen makes no sense as a continuing being unless the deity wants to torment them, either as punishment or as an example to others. (I'm speaking here of Chosen like those of Mystra, who hold a part of the deity's power within themselves, not the majority of other "Chosen," who are lesser champions given temporary powers by the deity.) Note that Mystra's Chosen have a degree of independence, and CAN choose to suicide. She can bring them back, of course, but not with the powers they held before; they'll be mere puppets, with mere echoes of their former powers. Chosen of Mystra who choose to defy her but not suicide CAN continue to exist; she can deny them her guidance and aid, and sever them from the company of their fellow Chosen, but not slay them outright, unless she wants to diminish her own divine power permanently. She can, of course, send or manipulate other creatures into slaying them, in which case the divine power they hold will find its gradual way back to her and not be lost to her.

This brings up fascinating character possibilities: the being 'cursed' never to die, who desperately wants to and tries to, only to be brought back again and again. Elric and Jack of Shadows (not to mention Terry Pratchett's Death, as depicted in certain of the Discworld novels) are examples of what sort of being such 'trapped' or 'doomed to repeat' characters might become, and the subject is something I intend to explore in future projects, both inside and outside the Realms.

So saith Ed.

Hmm, now, that last sentence of his is interesting indeed...

love to all,


January 10, 2005: Ah, Wooly dearest, you've hit on it.

Ed's reply does indeed "imply that once a being becomes a Chosen, Mystra can't reclaim from that person her own essence." You point out that "that's exactly what is described as having happened to Sammaster: thru Azuth, Mystra's essence was removed from Sammaster."

EXACTLY. Sammaster's silver fire was taken through the actions of Azuth, another deity.

Mystra can forcibly wrest her divine essence (the silver fire) directly from a mortal, but in doing so loses it forever, weakening herself (it does not 'find its way back to her' in the normal way, but is GONE). So she won't do it.

That doesn't stop Azuth, working with her, from doing it (she'd probably fight any other deity trying it on a mortal located on Toril, and win by using the Weave against them).

As you've probably guessed, we Knights discussed this very matter with Ed.

Your cozily, snuggly helpful,


January 11, 2005 THO answered: Yes, simontrinity, to answer your around-Yuletide query:

Dove, Storm, Elminster and many other Harpers did indeed manipulate the Knights of Myth Drannor into doing many things, down the years.

And, yes, we often did object to being 'used' (that's human nature, and most of us are fairly human, most of the time ).

However, most of the senior Harpers are very clever at making us WANT to do this or that, and so not care overly much when we discover (IF we discover: some of them were and are VERY subtle) we've been steered into doing this or that. The really, really slick Harpers build in personal rewards for us whenever they can (challenges as well as the sort of goodies that delight Torm [coins] and Jhessail [spell scrolls]), so we REALLY don't care.

And then there's Elminster, who often just shoved us into doing things because he could, or felt like it... but also often saved our behinds, kissed and cuddled us when we were feeling down or deprived, and greased our paths through difficult situations (from providing bail and jailbreaks to facing down foes who'd caught us good and proper). In short, we owed him so much that we could be angry, but we didn't really dare complain... to avoid feeling shame, not just because he could have blasted us from here to the next multiverse at will.

Harpers in general see it as good policy to make folk think well of the Harpers, and see the benefits of working with the Harpers, so even when manipulations are uncovered, people will play along anyway, for the common good or through their own sense of responsibility if not for love (somewhat as many of us pay our full share of taxes even while we grumble about this or that politician or political decision).

That about covers it, I think.

love to all,


January 11, 2005: Hello, all. Ed replies (with assistance!) to Jerryd and Ulrik about the War Wizards of Cormyr:

Now, Jerry, none of that beating the straw man stuff. You take my words and extend them into your own conclusion, thus:

"So, in short, the organization of the War Wizards is that Vangerdahast is in charge normally, Laspeera is in charge when Vangey's not around, and other than that there's no organization at all - it's just a bunch of wizards doing what they're told?"

That's NOT what I said. All the words after "not around" are your addition entirely. You're assuming wizards (WIZARDS, Jerry!) are timorous or even half-witted robot-like fodder, who can do nothing they haven't explicitly been told to do. More than that: you're assuming War Wizards of Cormyr, a subset of wizards who've given up the traditional fierce (in some individuals, paranoid) independence of those who work with the Art in order to serve a country in an organization where they will have to take orders, will do nothing (or can't perform) without a strict hierarchy. You obviously don't think much of their individual competence, despite saying they "may be highly competent."

However, I didn't say they lacked a hierarchy.

I said that (with the exceptions of Vangey and now Caladnei, Laspeera, the Chair of the College of War Wizards now filled [sans titles!] by the four senior War Wizards Vangey appointed as his replacements, and the alarphons) War Wizards don't have FORMAL RANKS AND THEREFORE TITLES: in short, that they're not like modern real-world militaries or bureaucracies in formally pigeonholing every member of the organization.

Which in turn means that a Purple Dragon of such-and-such a rank, or a noble of Cormyr holding a particular title, can't determine if they "outrank" a specific War Wizard, and so can't give orders to that War Wizard on such a basis: an endless source of frustration very familiar to The Hooded One, the rest of my 'home campaign' players, and dozens of gamers who've played in my charity and RPGA events at GenCons down the years.

I specifically said (to quote from my own earlier post about the four old War Wizards now chairing the College: "They act as 'chairman' without having any official titles, just pay raises and everyone" [[by which I meant every War Wizard, of course]] "being firmly told where they now rank in the chain of command, and what authority they now wield.") that the War Wizards DO have an internal hierarchy that's very well understood (by War Wizards). They just don't have a military chain of command with set pay scales (War Wizards get merit increases awarded on a personal, confidential basis) and the sort of discipline that depends on "salute the uniform," wherein any (stranger) colonel wearing the right rank insignia can give orders to any sergeant or private he meets.

I agree that large organizations can't function without some sort of internal order. As for the size of the War Wizards, I'd put membership in the War Wizards, at its height, as less than six hundred (not counting on-probation trainees). Post-Death of the Dragon, with all the battle losses, it's probably a little more than half that (with a far higher proportion of on-probation trainees or "novices").

Now, to answer your specific point about Vangerdahast stamping out all tendencies among the War Wizards to form cliques, I gave his reason for doing so, but you dismissed it by saying the alarphons exist to root out the disloyal. Quite true: I was illustrating how Vangey's distrust of almost everyone except himself, and his cynical but shrewd opinion of organizations (gleaned through dealing with the Royal Court every day) led him to try to head off the formation of cliques: because he sees the self-serving ends it leads to (courtiers habitually conceal information from superiors to make themselves look good, and Vangey wants every War Wizard to feel that they can go straight to him, and "we're all in this together," both for morale reasons to avoid misinformation and concealing things). You raise the point that I showed in Elminster's Daughter that "such problems exist anyway," which seems to advance an argument akin to: if something can't accomplish goals perfectly all the time, that something should never be attempted. (Okay, if I buy that, then no military or government bureaucracy need ever exist: why prepare for any warfare, or to run any country? Imperfections will inevitably arise, so everyone involved is wasting their time, then, right?) If your goal here was to point out that Vangey was failing to stamp out disloyalty or independent thinking merely by shattering cliques, I quite agree. Of course he was failing; to try to deny human nature is like attacking the advancing tide on a beach with a flamethrower and declaring victory (before you get submerged). :}

I was trying to point out in Elminster's Daughter (among a lot of other things :}) that Vangerdahast tries to APPEAR all-powerful, and has accomplished much by reputation alone, but is very far from absolutely ruling Cormyr. Before the events of that novel he's the true ruler of Cormyr, yes, more than anyone, but even with its established laws and social order, no one person can truly make the Forest Kingdom just (and only) what he or she wants it to be.

You cite my chess-playing scene as a clear and unambiguous statement that Kurthryn outranks Huldyl. Quite true: for that specific guardian assignment they're engaged in when we see them, Kurthryn has been put "over" Huldyl by Vangey, despite Huldyl's great skill with magic. Various guardian assignments have been their primary duty for quite some time, in fact (as THO will attest: using those two guys was something of an in-joke for my original players' benefit, as the Knights have repeatedly run into these two War Wizards barring their ways as they've tried to snoop around Court and Palace, over the years) because they're both patient men, and Vangey's seen and exploited that, so he's put them together into a unit wherein Kurthryn outranks Huldyl.

I quite understand how Jim Lowder's text from Crusade would give the wrong impression. It's not worded how I would have said it, but arises from this: Vangey has told all of the royals (and verbally revised this, many times, over the years) an 'order of precedence' for the War Wizards "in case anything should happen to him" (which, at that point in Crusade, Azoun IV believes to be the case). All of the Royal Court, not just the Obarskyrs, knows that Laspeera is "Number 2" anyway. What Azoun has is a verbal list of the next five people (in descending order) THAT VANGERDAHAST WOULD WANT AS HEAD OF THE WAR WIZARDS (for the good of the realm, remember, not Azoun's personal convenience, so it's presented to the king as a fait accompli, so his "anointing" of someone will end up with the someone of Vangey's choice, even though Vangey's not on the scene to make that choice). In other words, Vangey did NOT tell Azoun "if I fall, go to Laspeera, but if she's already dead, then your best bet is XXXX." Instead, he gave a strict hierarchy AND ALLOWED AZOUN TO BELIEVE that the War Wizards themselves all know it, and merely keep it secret from outsiders.

This is true - - and untrue. They DO have a strict hierarchy, but only Vangey and Laspeera can clearly see it all, at any given time. Everyone else sees only parts of it, and knows their own 'rank' only for specific tasks, or in specific situations, or as it applies to particular fellow War Wizards.

Ulrik (and your own Uthgardt reply will appear fairly soon, sir!) makes the very good point that War Wizard operations as portrayed in published Realmslore must equal organization "not just on a large, strategic level, but on a small tactical level as well." True. However, I disagree with Ulrik on just how precise the War Wizards really are (by reputation and appearance, yes, in actual accomplishments, often no), and I disagree with his presuming that bureaucracy must be part of it.

This is where magic trumps real-world offices and secretaries: precise information can be passed on without stacks of memos outsiders can peek at. And the secret of much of the effectiveness and precision achieved by the War Wizards is information: they KNOW who lives where, who does what on a daily basis, where a particular creek or sewer drains to, and so on (because one War Wizard can quickly pass that lore to another who's on the spot).

Ulrik himself puts his finger on the reason for the War Wizards being as precise as they manage to be: "all that spying."

Let me now quote from the secret files of Garen Thal, Candlekeep's own expert on Cormyr:

The War Wizards have no outwardly-discernable hierarchy of command. There are simply Caladnei (their commander), Laspeera (her lieutenant) and the War Wizards. The internal investigators of the War Wizards, alarphons hold the only formal rank within the war wizards. This permits them to ask questions and engage in magical interrogation of their own number in order to ferret out treachery and learn whether other members of the brotherhood have not been exactly forthcoming with information important to the protection of the realm, either for treachery or their own stupidity.

This is not to say that the War Wizards do not have their own superiors or that they answer to no one. On the contrary, nearly each War Wizard has at least two or three comrades (in addition to Caladnei or Laspeera) that are senior to themselves in authority, able to issue commands, demand information and reports, or change assignments. Such authority shifts constantly for all but the most senior and trusted War Wizards--though less so than it formerly did under Vangerdahast--with the Mage Royal personally informing War Wizards that their roles had changed, or even been reversed. Each War Wizard has only a single superior to which he must report at any given time (again, discounting Caladnei or Laspeera), so information has a path, however convoluted, to the Royal Magician's ears. War Wizards are also provided with a single senior War Wizard to whom they must report should their current "commander" go missing or fall in battle; should this alternative superior not be available, report of this lack is made directly to Caladnei.

This leaves us with the uncertainty necessary to keep the War Wizards a more secure organization, with an ever-shifting, magnets-and-iron-filings approach to authority and commanders. Because true authority is passing (except among ranked or titled War Wizards), the War Wizards, for the sake of both altruism and sheer common sense, use their authority to better the realm, the War Wizards, and one another (in that order), rather than abusing it against a comrade who might become the authority tenday next. Of course, exceptions do occur, and it is those exceptions--greedy War Wizards turning rebellious in the mode of Luthax, or abusing an "inferior" to create a future enemy of the Realm--that make the institutionalization of rank a bad idea in the first place.

(end quotation, and my thanks to Garen Thal for those timely words). As usually Garen's hit all the nails squarely on all the heads.

I'm not trying to make you think the War Wizards are disorganized, Jerry, I'm trying to stop you writing up a chain of command as you did for the Purple Dragons. It was and is appropriate for Cormyr's military, but just doesn't fit the War Wizards - - as can be seen by a careful reading of Realmslore published to date.

To let slip a little internal information for once: it was agreed between Books and Games when Jeff and I were writing Cormyr: A Novel, and reaffirmed (with different Books and Games personnel) when Troy and I were doing Death of the Dragon, that for maximum freedom in fiction writing and game design (and yes, for individual Dungeon Masters, too) that the War Wizards were going to stay as mysterious as possible - - just as they are to Cormyreans. We'll give endless internal glimpses, but we would NOT do, for instance, "a War Wizard novel."

To shift it back to a real-world analogy one more time: if you go ahead and clearly outline a hierarchy of invented rank-titles for the War Wizards (and create these "administrative and advisory boards" you speak of), it would be very much as if you, as a writer in the West during the Cold War, detailed the command structure of the KGB in print. I'm not now speaking of sinister repercussions for you, I mean that in doing so you would rob the KGB of much of their allure, capacity to awaken fear, and mystery (through being so much of 'the unknown' and so little specified, counted, and laid bare for all to see).

It's a very human need to delineate, nail down details, ferret out the truth, quantify, and so understand. I sympathize.

Yet in this case, I can't agree.

To put things another way: I'm sure if I started a thread here at Candlekeep entitled "Ed Greenwood Gives Plot Summaries Of All Realms Novels WotC Will Publish For The Next Ten Years" A LOT of scribes would click on it excitedly, but if I actually posted what the title implied, I'd be largely ruining their enjoyment of that decade-worth of books. Part of the fun is NOT knowing everything. Right?

So saith Ed.

Boy, could I tell War Wizard stories! I won't, mind you, unless Ed gives the okay, because some of them are... shocking. Yes, that's the word: shocking. Let me just drop one hint: FiXXXXXXno no I can't. Ed will slay me. Though, to think again, that might be fun...

love to all,


January 12, 2005: Hello, all. Herewith, Ed of the Greenwood responds to Ty.

A note re. Paul's e-missive on FR5: Ed didn't 'rescue' any characters, as far as I recall. Khelben rescuing Laeral was Steven Schend's idea (and execution, too). I'll ask Ed for confirmation on this.

Ty, you'll see why I handed this straight to Ed rather than trying to frame a reply of my own, when you read what follows:

Ty, I've thus far kept the Knights largely away from contact with the priesthood of Tyr. Most adventurers, being freewheeling types whose true alignments tend to be chaotic good or chaotic selfish no matter what they officially are, are going to be less than comfortable in confrontations with clergy having to do with law, order, and justice - - and I've had a personal problem with the lack of full coverage of the formal churches of Faerunian deities (creeds, covert aims and professed doctrine, daily doings of priests, and so on) that's especially acute when it comes to gods whose portfolios might lead their followers into exercising a large amount of daily peactime influence over others.

In short, I wanted the role of Tyr's clergy better defined before I used them much in play. It's been easy to avoid featuring Tyr overmuch because one can bring in priests of Helm and Torm to accomplish similar needs in adventures, and because I've been able from the outset to sweep the Knights up into neck-deep involvement in local politics, struggles between various power groups, and realm-versus-realm intrigue, without having to focus overmuch on any faith not personally represented by one of the PC Knights.

As I see it, Tyr is a god of justice rather than law, and so his clergy have an ongoing duty to bring about justice, both by working to continually improve the secular laws of various places in the Realms (even when faced by rulers and enforcers who manifestly don't want such "help"), and by bringing justice to bear on individuals whom the law doesn't touch (either because they've been granted immunity to legal punishment, or because the laws as drafted don't apply to their sly activities, even though such activities would clearly be judged "wrong" by their fellow citizens). Criminals have always been 'one step ahead of the law,' and laws are always drafted by those in power to benefit themselves and their usual activities (in other words, to support the status quo in which they are 'on top'). Just as in our real world, the laws in most parts of the Realms give preferential status to royalty or rulers over commoners, nobility over commoners, and citizens over outlanders (foreigners) or slaves or non-humans. For example, if I, Thorog the Orc, march up to a Black Robe in Waterdeep and claim that 'yonder beautiful Waterdhavian woman broke her bargain with me to let me bed her if she first seduced Merchant X to buy my wagon of boar entrails, if I then gave her three-quarters of what he paid, which I've done, only now she spurns me and denies ever agreeing to such terms' I'm going to get treated differently than if I am instead Junstal Manthar, young and handsome Waterdhavian noble, making precisely the same claim.

There will always be laws that are clearly unfair ("unjust," if you will), or that a being from another land (even a Tyrran hailing from another land) will disagree with. (I am reminded of a post currently making the rounds on the Internet that purports to be a supporter's letter to President Bush, that respectfully asks for his guidance in beheading or stoning to death or hand-severing various neighbours, in strict obedience to Leviticus and other Biblical writings, for wearing their hair incorrectly and various other offenses that will strike most modern readers as minor or nonsensical.)

This brings us to the central problem of Tyr's faith: deciding what is "just." What Tyr decides, of course, but unless the god is going to act as an instantly-available technical support line to his every priest and lay worshipper (which he obviously, from published Realmslore, doesn't), inevitably the priests must determine what is just.

I'm sure some priests are personally proud and confident enough to do just that, whereas others will wrestle with the questions of "If this particular town or realm has a legal code that implies Deed X is legitimate or even favoured, am I right in decreeing that Deed X is evil, and I should act against those who do such deeds?"

In other words, I see that there must and will be continual disagreements within the church of Tyr as to how to act. The motivation is that the greatest good is promoted through order, adherence to order, and support of order (the Lawful Good alignment of Tyr himself), but order is not the same as law or even enforcement. That some adherents of Tyr have indulged in force and in trials of beings they deem to have acted unjustly is clear from published Realmslore (the very existence of my term "Grimjaws").

TSR and now WotC have been clearly uncomfortable, down the years, dealing with such religious issues in definitive game terms (novels can explore such issues for specific characters, times, and places, but game rulebooks are necessarily wider in scope and application [and I'm sure it's often been a simple matter of "this planned product will have lower sales than if we instead used this printing time and design costs to do something else, and the something else will potentially anger fewer fans and retailers, too"]), and the result has been a great amount of silence and lack of coverage of such matters. In such products as PRAYERS FROM THE FAITHFUL I've been able to ladle out a few details of doctrine as I "dance around" the vital core topics of what various churches do (and any longtime 1st Edition D&D gamer will remember the hunger expressed for 'hard stuff' so that they could bring clerics to life as something more than "the party's fighter who can heal you if you're nice to him and what he says his god wants").

THO has transmitted to me your own very eloquent summation of this in a thread on Tyr, wherein you swiftly outlined the difference between lawful good and lawful neutral over the matter of the urchin stealing bread. I agree with your conclusion that the clergy of Tyr would see themselves as qualified to make and enact judgement on a person they view as an offender. Otherwise, why BE priests of Tyr?

I also agree with the argument you unfolded from that: evil intent plays a part in determining if a crime has been committed and justice must therefore be served by some sort of action (usually meting out punishment) on the Tyrran's part. The published D&D game, throughout three official editions and several additional iterations, now, has established that paladins don't automatically attack any creature they see whom they know or believe to be evil (in alignment). As you say, evil ACTS are to be punished, not evil natures or evil private inner thoughts never acted upon (if I daydream of making love to a beautiful woman I see in the street who is clearly wearing a wedding ring, have I committed an evil act if I immediately dismiss such thoughts angrily, never voicing or acting on them?).

In that thread, Lashan then brought up the valid point of the legal and social standing of a cleric in a given locale: will a priest be seen as having the RIGHT to "dispense justice"? As a DM running the Realms, I want something official published that tells me if a Tyrran (or any other priest or paladin) would be allowed to act against injustice in, say, the streets of Waterdeep, a tavern in Suzail, or a brothel (excuse me, festhall) somewhere in Sembia. I'd like to be able to read and consult such guidance before I made a PC conflict with priests important in play.

Maglubiyet then eloquently echoed the difference between law and justice and the problems this hands a servant of Tyr, and the hammer of Moradin widened this argument again to ask "Who is right, and who is wrong?"

All of these unsolved arguments (and the part of me that as a DM and designer wants to leave PCs and DMs maximum freedom in play, so "their" Realms doesn't start to too closely mirror real-life and cease to be enjoyable ["Geez! I dare not draw my sword and hack that dragon as he snatches the princess, because he'll sue me! And win!!"]) have led me to feature Tyrrans in the Knights' experience only within the context of senior priests in a large temple of Tyr who spent their days in prayer and in examining the laws of various locales around the Realms with an eye to how these could be improved - - which of course brought about endless debates among these priests about specific changes and desired end results, and over the matter of whether or not the Church of Tyr should try to make laws everywhere more or less identical, or whether local authority and idiosyncrasies ("It is unlawful to marry one's sister after sundown, but not before, or on days when there has been rain") should be respected.

In my judgement, the goal of common good through order would prevent sane and faithful Tyrrans from ever doing anything to openly and publicly work against a ruler (revolt or unrest, the abandonment of order, will hurt many folk and damage much property and social confidence whatever the outcome, and so must be avoided at all costs). Therefore, Tyrran attempts to get laws changed would be either direct to the ruler or the courtier who drafts laws - - or to a magistrate or equivalent to alter not the law, but a specific sentence upon an accused individual (perhaps with a view to establishing a pattern of sentences that will eventually lead to a particular law being ignored and not enforced without actually being dropped from the books, something that happens a lot in real life).

As the hammer of Moradin implied, those Tyrrans who like to actively be judge, jury, and executioner (most paladins, and - - let's face it, human nature being what it is, the sort of persons who do like to 'sit in judgement' on others are those who'll be attracted to the priesthood of Tyr, though entering the church at low ranks and dealing with superiors will teach them self-control, or they'll not advance far) will generally be found in frontier areas, "making" justice with weapons in hand. I see them as vital to promoting and maintaining trade routes and inter-species cooperation across Faerun, because elves, gnomes, halflings, and humans entering an unfamiliar realm can readily see the protection a code enforced by Tyrrans affords them. Outlaws and bandits will always be dangers in the Realms, but they are just that: outside the law.

In frontier areas, as I said earlier in my reply to Kentinal about the fortified manors, "the law" is often whatever you (or the nearest patrolling armsman) can achieve, on the spot, by swinging a sword. But "justice," and the common knowledge across Faerun that folk (the church of Tyr in particular) are striving to make laws adhere to a principle of common justice, are what make folk obey laws even when they don't want to pay taxes, or obey a rude official, or serve a hated king.

This will in turn make folk across the Realms see the church of Tyr as good and necessary, even if they don't particular like Tyrrans or personally worship Tyr. As Faiths & Avatars says, Tyrrans often become legal advisers, and compile personal books of their reasonings, deeds, and observed legal matters and disputes that they share with the clergy at the temples they visit. I would also see Tyrrans as seeking out senior clergy of Tyr at such temples for advice.

I also see a role for the clergy of Tyr not hitherto hinted at in published Realmslore: the church of Tyr are the foremost force for policing other clergy: in other words, stopping a priest of Cyric or Shar from doing something "unjust" to citizens because such deeds will advance the aims of their churches. In other words, Tyrrans are "police over other priests," or set themselves up as such, something disputed by many other clergies to the point of open spell and physical conflict.

I see a further role for the Church of Tyr, accepted in many places across the Realms: they are the folk who wade into feuds between families, guilds, and power groups and hammer out settlements, by force if need be, to end such disputes. (So folk who want feuds to go on will try to keep them secret, to avoid attracting Tyrran attention.)

I agree with your common-law system assessment of Cormyr, and as hammer of Moradin implied, I think that many Tyrrans will try to enact the simple Hammurabi's Code of "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth" and thereby enforce the wide perception of the Church of Tyr as stern and grim.

So saith Ed.

Who continues to amaze me with the breadth and depth of thinking that has gone into the Realms. Sure, he's been at it for almost forty years, but stil... impressive. Deeply impressive.

I hope that answers you, Ty. As with your own real-world career and interests, this is a neverending topic. That's why Ed spoke at such length on it, and I didn't try to chop up his reply into shorter posts.

love to all,


January 12, 2005: I poked and prodded Ed for another tease or two for this book for us all, and he said:

Well, now. Let's see. Unless it vanishes in the editing, every story in the book has a short introduction from me that includes, in every case, precise dating for the story. Ah, that lovely thudding sound of sages everywhere fainting and hitting the floor... :}

What else can I tell you? Well, I used the following words at least once in the book (again, pre-editing):

Astoundingly, cobwebbed, enthralled, indolent, labyrinthine, moonweather, radishes, rapture, shapeshifting, spasmodically, thrumming, wonderments...

All right, all right, I'll leave off being silly for just a moment, to say this much: in one of the stories in what's been dubbed "Best of Eddie" you'll see a wizard being freely offered spellfire and reacting with horror. So there. Can I go back to writing the Knights book now?

So saith Ed.

Don't worry, I shall persuade him to impart more soon. Have I mentioned I can be very persuasive?



January 13, 2005: Sanishiver, I love it too! Thank you for those kind words. I bring unto all scribes the latest response of Ed to unfolding War Wizard matters:

(Ed speaks...)

Whoa! Three other quick matters first.

Ulrik, on the matter of Paul's post: THO is correct and Paul's indeed mistaken, in that I didn't write "material that went and rescued and redeemed some high level adventurers whom I had caused to come to an unhappy end." That material was written by Steven Schend, bringing Khelben and Laeral together for his own purposes (which continue to interest me greatly).

Ty, thank YOU for your questions. I should add this to my earlier answer: for maximum play possibilities, of course, I'd want a fair amount of ('kept inside the family') debate within the church of Tyr as to the proper role of the clergy (and specific "dos and don'ts"), so as to force some moral choices (and consequences) on PC priests.

Gerath Hoan, your question as to why Caladnei is Vangerdahast's chosen successor, and not Laspeera, is a superb one - - but I'm afraid you'll have to wait some time to learn the answer. The dreaded NDA wall prevents me from saying more, other than your reply will NOT be in the forthcoming "Best of Eddie" collection, but probably WILL be in fictional form.

And an addendum for everyone: in my answers to Jerryd I quite often posted the "Vangey is" rather than "Vangey was." Post-ELMINSTER'S DAUGHTER, of course, Caladnei's in the saddle and the situation has changed.

Kentinal, your police force description is darn near EXACTLY how the War Wizards work. Thank you; very well said.

Jerry, a pleasure to converse with you. Accordingly, let me respond to your response. I expect we're going to have to agree to disagree, but let's have a go...

You posted: "Competence and initiative are two different things." and "you have portrayed Vangey as a paranoid micromanager who trusts no one unless he has no other choice and can and does show up without warning right next to any given war wizard. I have served in the military and worked in corporate environments, and I can assure you that having a senior executive (a general or senior corporate official) who acts like this toward the rank-and-file workers is one of the surest ways of undermining morale and actually CAUSING an otherwise competent rank-and-file to always look over their shoulder and quash their initiative to the point they do nothing without orders."

Quite true, but unless the American military has slipped far below the level of its British roots, the concepts of "standing orders" and "rules of engagement" still apply, and that's exactly what I've mentioned Vangey delivering personally AND relaying through other War Wizards (remember, I mentioned that he deliberately didn't always relay orders through the same ones?).

As I said before, War Wizards aren't robots. They won't stand idle waiting for Vangey's orders, they'll do as they've been ordered to do when deployed (and in almost all cases they won't "be there in the first place" without orders that sent them there, right?), stopping or changing if and only if fresh orders come that supercede what they've been told to do.

In other words: 'we War Wizards KNOW what to do if we uncover a traitor among the nobles or suspected slave-trading in Marsember or smuggling in Arabel.' Yes, Vangey was a terror to those who crossed him, and to the trainees (BTW, atop my six hundred muster, add as many as two hundred of these novices, at their peak; right now, post-DEATH OF A DRAGON, for instance).

You accept that Vangey is a "bad... distrustful control-freak" as I've portrayed him (good, that means I managed to get that across in Realmslore to date), and then conclude that I'm trying to have my cake and eat it too, because his sort of micromanagement just doesn't work with initiative. I would agree if we were speaking of modern American corporate and military situations, but we're not.

Note in my earlier post my mention of personal merit pay increases (rewards for good performance, right?), which tells us that Vangey expects and rewards good performance and conduct. Note also the complete absence of modern-American-style basic training/"boot camp" or anything of the sort (drill sergeants, controlling dress and haircut, all the yelling and obstacle courses and 'joe jobs' and silly punishments) for the War Wizards. Training, yes, 'breaking' them no. This is NOT the American military, Jerry. If you haven't traveled the world and seen things done (and working quite well) in many different ways, I'm not surprised you can't see things in any other way.

I'm puzzled as to why, exactly, you seem to feel that the War Wizards must have clear-cut ranks, even if these positions lack titles. I've already told you they don't, yet you conclude "I had to come up with a method for determining relative rank without titles."


If that's the way you DM the Realms, fine, but to write up guidelines for others that knowingly contradict Realmslore? To borrow THO's analogy, that's akin to saying, "I KNOW you thought there were orcs and hobbits in LOTR, but Tolkien got it wrong, see - - they were really baboons and cute little kitty-cats. I've written up this screed here that explains all about it."

Many longtime sages of the Realms have worked very hard for nigh twenty years now to keep inconsistencies out of Realmslore, me included, and we're none of us going to be happy if you deliberately try to introduce new contradictions.

I fully appreciate the satisfaction that you (and most of us) get from quantifying and uncovering the truth, but if you've worked in the corporate environment, surely you've run across or heard about entrepreneurial, mercurial CEOs?

Apple in the first Jobs era is just one example, out of a great many. As reported in one of the Mac magazines, if you pissed him off in the elevator on your way up in the morning, you could get fired on the spot.

In most such cases, a worker's rank in the company (except at the lowest levels) depends very much, on a daily and practical basis, on how much the CEO likes, trusts, admires, or appreciates that particular worker. (Never heard of "sleeping your way to the top?" It was around in ancient Rome as well as in post-Industrial Revolution America, you know.)

Think of a War Wizard's rank as a mutable thing, based on Kentinal's post I mentioned above, and on: what Vangey thinks of you today.

Spellcasting power is obviously a factor, but far more important to Vangey are some other factors.

Let's look at how Vangey 'ranks' a particular War Wizard (factors in descending order):

1. Demonstrated loyalty to me.
2. Demonstrated loyalty to Cormyr.
3. Demonstrated loyalty to the Obarskyrs.
4. Demonstrated loyalty to the War Wizards (i.e. working well with others and taking orders).
5. History of performance/experience/demonstrated competence in the field.

plus two other factors that 'move about' in this ladder, sometimes trumping the numbered ones, and sometimes not:

X. Specialized skills (e.g. types of spells crafted or modified, specific experience with a locale or people or type of trap, monster, or magic) relevant to a task at hand.

Y. Location and other obligations (where is the War Wizard now, how fast can I get him/her to whwre I need him, and what's he/she busy with now, and what are the repercussions of him/her dropping all the balls they're juggling?)

Z. Spellcasting power (yes, it ranks down here, least important among the three 'floating' factors, depending on the situation: if what's needed is diplomacy, a meteor-swarm-hurler probably isn't the best choice, as if THAT sort of diplomacy's necessary, Vangey probably wants to show up and deliver it himself for maximum "cow others" and 'keep your secondary weapons [= the meteor-swarm-hurling-War-Wizard] hidden until they can strike as a surprise' reasons)

Now, none of this makes me dismiss your divisions of War Wizards into trainees (don't call them apprentices, because that term already has other meanings, both in-game and in the formal rules), full, and master wizards. Myself, I'd call them novices, War Wizards, and "senior" War Wizards. However, an outsider should NEVER be able to tell them apart (except for Laspeera and Vangey or now Caladnei). We must of course add the alarphons as a sub-division of the senior wizards (there are a handful of young, brilliant alarphons, but they are very much the exception).

"Master Wizard" is a term of respectful courtesy, used by anyone in Cormyr who doesn't know the rank of the wizard (your average commoner would call Vangey "Lord Wizard" and Caladnei or Laspeera "Lady Wizard," and every other War Wizard "Master Wizard").

Some people (especially courtiers, Purple Dragons, nobles, and personal acquaintances of particular War Wizards) know that a particular War Wizard also holds a knighthood or baronetcy (the latter of course having nothing whatsoever to do with War Wizard career or status, but merely "accident of birth") and will properly address them as "Sir Wizard" because they know they should (or, in rare cases, deliberately insult them by using that title when the War Wizard is, in fact, a "Lord" by reason of post or noble blood).

By the way, as you'll learn in the last story in my forthcoming so-called "Best of" Realms short story collection (in a stable, as it happens), there ARE officers of Cormyr who can give War Wizards orders (I'll leave that revelation for the publication of the book). It should become your guideline vis-a-vis relations between Purple Dragons and War Wizards.

You post: "I took full war wizards to be those who are eligible for the War Wizard prestige class in Magic of Faerūn (whether they've actually taken levels in the class or not) and master war wizards to be those who have completed the five-level progression of the prestige class."

I think this is fine, and a very good 'shorthand' way for determining the average level of magical skills a 'walk-on' War Wizard will have, in play. Good.

You queried my number of War Wizards based on "the sheer variety of tasks that war wizards are mentioned doing," and mentioned you'd assigned 339 of them "to pre-war Purple Dragon units and Blue Dragon ships alone, not even counting all the other myriad things they do!" which again (added to the 'got to figure out ranks within the War Wizards') suggests to me that you're thinking of the War Wizards in military terms (set garrison duties and so forth). Wrong. Try thinking of them as more like a cross between James Bond and the Inquisition, and less like GI Joe and General Patton, and all of my Realmslore will start to make a lot more sense.

Then you say: "Here's another example of your trying to have your cake and eat it too. On one hand, you portray Vangey as a distrustful micromanager prone popping up next to his war wizards at any time, and on the other hand you portray Vangey as wanting to come across as an avuncular "come to me any time, we're all one big team" kind of leader. Those two are incompatible opposites, though, that work against each other. The more he acts like one, the necessarily less he comes across as the other. He can't have it both ways."

Correct, he can't. None of which means he won't try to. If you've never encountered paranoid micromanagers who try to be "buddy buddy" with their underlings, then you haven't met many corporate CEOs or military generals. I have (many of both), and believe me, it's quite a common type. They're usually incompetents, but that's neither here nor there. *I'm* not trying to have my cake and eat it too: Vangey is.

You go on to conclude that if Vangey thinks he can have it both ways, his Wisdom score should be reduced (and back that view up with how he was portrayed in the latter two Cormyr novels). Bingo! That's exactly what I was hinting at: Vangey's getting old, he's stopped "keeping up with the times" and is trying to make Cormyr conform to his thinking (rooted in how Cormyr was decades back) rather than to update his thinking to match its changes with the keen alacrity he once did. Yet lower his Wisdom? No. Why? Because he SAW this failing in himself and found a successor and stepped aside, showing incredible wisdom (and deviance from what we see in the real world, where strongmen almost always have to be killed or forced from power).

I stand by my comment that Vangey was, in his day, the true ruler of Cormyr. He trained Azoun IV, he influenced him greatly as a young man and so 'set' his thinking, he assisted him in accomplishing things Vangey saw as 'good' for the realm and even "rewarded" him by not standing in the way of any of his trysts (which Vangerdahast could have prevented, by spell and via the War Wizards), he to a very large extent controlled what information reached Azoun, and he was fully capable of, and practised in, magically dipping into Azoun's mind. In the event of a disagreement between them, this could instantly have become magical mind-control - - and remember, as I've emphasized from the first: Vangey PRETENDS to serve the monarch, but REALLY serves the realm. (In other words, he does what he sees as best for Cormyr. Not Azoun or any monarch.)

Moving on down your post, I'd like to confirm that your impression is correct: I was indeed "saying that there is no absolute criterion for saying wizard A 'outranks' (within the context of degree of authority and not any sort of title) wizard B, and that these could just as easily be reversed if the situation called for it."

This is what Garen wrote, and Kentinal posted, too. It has nothing to do with Spellcraft or being a more powerful caster: it can change from day to day, between Wizard A and Wizard B (at the pleasure of Vangerdahast), or from task to task (as Vangey assigns them to the same team for tracking down who altered Lady Truesilver's memories, and A is "over" B, but on the same day also assigns them to a team searching a "haunted" coach arrived from Sembia for covert magics cast by unknown mages for unknown reasons, and in THAT team Wizard B is "over" Wizard A).

Which brings us to your fallacy: that a "strict hierarchy" must of necessity establish a chain of command. Nope. Set aside the military and corporate thinking, and you'll see that although the presence of a strict hierarchy means a chain of command must also be present, there are other factors that mean one need not establish or fully dictate the other. Usually these factors are religious (societal belief in the role of women, or what certain castes do, and so on). For example, there are situations and places in which someone clearly is of a much greater societal rank or status than someone else - - but can't give that inferior any orders at all. Vestal virgins: VERY high rank, but no powers to order anyone around at all. Shaman of one Britanni tribe captured by another tribe: very high rank, treated with great respect for fear of offending the gods, but given no power to order anyone around at all. And so on.

You post: "What you're describing here almost sounds similar in organization to a network of resistance cells (e.g. the French Resistance during WWII) in which only one person of a cell knows one or two people in other cells. And here again you give me the impression that 'rank' is situational and freely variable." Bingo! That's the situation exactly (minus the secrecy of the French Resistance: War Wizards walk around Cormyr openly, can meet each other freely to 'talk shop' unless given specific orders not to do so, and so on).

You post: "I never thought of the War Wizards as having "offices" or "secretaries" or reams of forms to fill out and pass along." Good. We're agreed on this, then.

"I tried to have a functional high-level organization (with the "administrative board" you rejected) then a very flexible organization of teams and individual war wizards under the board in which a wizard might never be assigned two consecutive tasks of the same general function. These functions have been documented in published lore - attached to Purple Dragon units, Blue Dragon ships, border outposts, investigative teams, exploration teams, palace guards, civil works projects, etc. - but under my system no one outside the leadership would ever know exactly how many war wizards were doing many of the functions and no war wizard could be pinned down to be specializing in a specific function, thus providing the desired secrecy."

Perfect! (Sans the administrative board, that is.) You've got it! No War Wizard ends up with formalized specialized functions (so unlike the military, a particular War Wizard won't be a driver, then a loader, then a quartermaster, and stay at that until reassigned; they all get reassigned almost by the tenday, and are usually working on several tasks at once).

You then posted: "I suppose I could still do this without the board, but I though it necessary to have some "upper management" function to organize the assignments of people to tasks and make sure that all needs are being met and that tasks are properly prioritized. I really thought that this was too much to dump on one man, no matter how much of a control freak he might be."

Yes, do it without the board. :} I fully agree that it's too much to dump on one man. That was Vangey's failing, that's what was starting to unravel when the Devil Dragon battles smashed it all, and that's what's going to have to change under Caladnei - - because unlike Vangey, she doesn't ENJOY personally trying to know everything and run everything in Cormyr, every moment of every day, and cowing people into obeying her, and won't do it.

Which is why we're arguing over something that's rather a moot point: Cormyr's no longer in the Vangerdahast era, and may well end up with hierarchical War Wizards under Caladnei (though I doubt it: she HATES authority and formality, and neither Laspeera nor the Obarskyrs will want things to change much from what they're used to - - and Caladnei relies on them and will listen to them; if she came to open disagreement with them all, she'd leave Cormyr and renounce her role there).

I'm sure you'd love to read a War Wizard novel. I'd love to write one. However, until the agreement changes, all you're going to get are the glimpses I can give you while writing other things (there'll be more in the first Knights book, unless things change greatly in the editing).

You post: "Published lore already allows for the possibility to play war wizard characters - see the War Wizard prestige class in Magic of Faerūn - but it would be difficult to really get into a good immersive game with a war wizard character without knowing how the institution functioned internally."

Nonsense! Not knowing precisely where you stand is just like real life, and makes for GREAT roleplaying. It's harder on the DM, because he or she must give players enough information (as play unfolds) that they feel they can make competent decisions, and because the DM must previously have earned the trust of the players (or it's hard to relax enough to enjoy the game). If you have the sort of players who "rules-lawyer" and "try to get one up on each other," then yes, it would be difficult, but then they'd be using the very outside-game information you say good players can separate from in-game information.

You're quite correct in saying that keeping the War Wizards mysterious is hard on Dungeon Masters. They will have to wing it, yes.

What you seem to be intimating here is that *I* am choosing to hold back Realmslore. I'm not. I'm describing to you the Way Things Are: specifically, one of the many "gentlemens' agreements" (for want of a better non-sexist term) that exists in the way in which the Realms is published. You don't have to convince me. A close examination of my novels and short stories will show you that I've been sneaking little tidbits about the War Wizards into print for years (I've penned most of the published details you've seized on, to start detailing them).

And you certainly won't find me disagreeing with you here: "More detail is always better than less detail." Yup. Hence my thirty-eight or so years of work on the Realms (and, I believe, the real reason for its published success).

As I said, we're probably going to have to agree to disagree. By all means write up the War Wizards for your own campaign use. However, if you veer away from what I've posted here and earlier, Garen's posted, and so on, be aware that when (yes, I said when, hint, hint) published Realmslore gets around to dealing specifically with the War Wizards, the two screeds are going to be VERY different.

I'll never dispute the worthiness or energy of your Quest to Uncover All. Such pursuits have, after all, afforded a lot of gamers a lot of pleasure for decades now, and made me a good living in the process.

I just want you to not give my War Wizards rank insignia, salutes, and suchlike. :}


Whew. Done? Can I come out now?

Seriously, Jerryd, I think part of the problem here is how little of Cormyr (which we Knights feel we know so well, having spent so much time in it, playing in Ed's campaign) has actually made it into print. If all the divers details Ed has served up over the years were all in print, you and he would have had very little to argue over.

Now, as Creator, Ed's a very generous guy: he happily "moves over and makes room" for the additions of literally scores of creative people who've visited the Realms and painted in this or that detail of the place. Yet I doubt he's going to change the War Wizards to suit your love of formal rank and chain of command, because in our home campaign things haven't reached Azoun's death yet, and we're involved in increasing dealings with the War Wizards right now. And there's no way he'll change things in the published Realms to deliberately 'not fit' the home campaign; others may do that, but he won't. Sorry.

Think of it this way: would you change YOUR campaign just because someone online told you that it would be better if dragons were all just evolved orcs, so you'd better stop killing those orcs because you'll then get more dragons and more dragon treasure? I doubt it. Okay, how about someone online telling you that you're all wrong about the wizards in your fictional creation, the kingdom of Cormyr? You'd change everything in mid-game to his view of them?

However, neither of us are mad at you or think anything less of you for sticking to your guns. Discussing the Realms is great fun (nay, meat and drink) to us, and we value most highly those gamers who care enough about the Realms to create things for it and argue passionately about it. So consider yourself esteemed in our gaze. Truly.



January 14, 2005: Hello again, fellow scribes.

Lauzoril, Ed says thank you very much. It seems that Hasbro is finally pushing WotC into what publishers call "mining the backlist" in hitherto-neglected (sometimes WOEFULLY neglected: in many European countries, the Players Handbook and DMGs fell out of print for years, so of course the "current" game releases suffered sales dips, which puzzled WotC for reasons that, as a book editor, frankly puzzle ME) foreign markets. Great news. A pity WotC hasn't bothered to share it with Ed, but thanks to you for doing so. As Ed always asks: how good is the translation?

Lady Kazandra, SiriusBlack was quite correct in saying that echoing thunder you hear is the sound of NDAs slamming down. Let me say this much: as far as Ed knows, nothing is scheduled right now - - and as far as *I* know, 'listening between the lines' at the last GenCon Indy (senior WotC staffers have this unfortunate habit of thinking the noise that reigns in the crowded PF Chang's Chinese restaurant prevents diners at the next table from overhearing them), the "possibility" you speak of grows more probable as time passes.

Gods, I sound like a diplomat.

Dargoth, I chatted very briefly on the phone with Ed last night about your 'Tanalasta flustering Vangey' post, and he said 'flustered' Vangerdahast was in truth less than pleased by the thought of an Obarskyr royal with magical skills enough to detect just how much he was influencing Azoun IV, daily, but satisfied himself that he could, while training her (some of that training was seen briefly in a story in one of the 'Realms of' anthologies that I unfortunately can't recall or go examine at the moment; help, scribes?) as he had her father, convince her that she has utterly no aptitude for magic, whatever the truth about her abilities, and 'head off this crazy idea.'

He obviously succeeded in doing that, didn't he?

And as for your comment about Alusair: Hooo-boy! Wait until you read the last story in the Best of Eddie collection!!!

My, that tease was certainly fun. Let me end by answering Gerath Hoans's question about the Knights of Myth Drannor Hall of Heroes coverage. First, the text: done by John Nephew from Ed's extensive notes, and fairly good, but DON'T trust any of the dating.

Second, the illustration, which is very nice, but doesn't depict a single figure resembling any Knight *I* know. As we said to Ed at the time: "Who are these impostors?"

He could only shrug, having provided TSR (who most likely didn't bother to pass them on to the artist, Ned Dameron) with his own excellent illustrations of our characters. So to answer you: accurate? I've no idea; they may be almost photographic likenesses of nine SOMEBONES, but they're certainly nothing like any of us Knights.

Here's whom I'm guessing they're SUPPOSED to be, left to right:

Back Row: Torm, Mourngrym, Florin, Dove, Lanseril

Front Row: Sharantyr, Rathan, Jhessail, Merith

With Jelde, Sharantyr, Illistyl, and Doust missing from the illustration (the text details twelve Knights).

The only one I'm really sure about is Florin (because it echoes Clyde Caldwell's Spellfire cover depiction of him). My guesses are based on these elements, left to right:

BACK ROW: Figure 1 is a villainous-looking human male with moustache. Doesn't look remotely like any of us, and is wearing chain with a sword slung on a baldric down his back. Has moustache, and so could be (out of the twelve Knights covered in FR7) Torm, Lanseril, or Mourngrym. But I'm guessing Figure 2 is Mourngrym because of the crown (a lot of us have crowns, mind you thanks to this thing called "treasure"), though then again it could be Lanseril wearing the Firecrown, although Figure 2 also seems to have a jeweled collar or pendant (the pendant of Ashaba? Could then be Doust or Mourngrym), which Lanseril would never wear, and Figure 4 looks most like Lanseril in hair and features, though again chainmail's wrong for a druid. Figure 3 could be Dove, Islif, Jhessail, or even Sharantyr, but as depicted most closely resembles Dove (though she's a little short of stature, compared to Florin), Islif having short-cropped hair and a "hard" face and NEVER wearing anything but armour, Jhessail being small, slender, and having almost elven features. Illistyl ditto, and Sharantyr lacking the 'big hair' and the adornment.

FRONT ROW: Figure on the left could very well be Islif, though no she-Knight who wears armour lacks leather breeches, greaves, and so on: when a leg show's desired, just stripped off clothes, but when wearing armour, don't forget to put on the bottom half of it! Sheesh! Hair too long and build too slender for Islif, so I guessed Sharantyr, but who knows? Figure 2 looks like a drunken Irish stereotype (or perhaps an elderly hobbit standing on an unseen crate for height), but I'm guessing Ned picked up on Rathan's constant drinking and meant this to be Rathan, who should be as tall as the rest of us, and NOT white-haired. He's beefy (big shoulders, hands, and muscles), not just fat. Figure 3 is either Illistyl or Jhessail (the garb and weapons are wrong for either, though). I guessed the latter because she's shown next to Merith (yes, that horribly simpering Figure 4 HAS to be an attempt to depict a male elf, so I guess that's Merith without his moustache and dark hair), and because her face and hair most closely resemble the reference illustration Ed handed to TSR back in 1986.

But enough of all this. Gerath, I'm sorry, these people just aren't us. Perhaps the TSR editors picked up the wrong police lineup and printed it instead of our smiling faces. And no, the illo on page 121 doesn't show any of us, either. Sorry.

I paged through all of FR7 in hopes of finding you closer depictions of the Knights, but the only thing I could come up with is this: Prince Tristan on page 39 (head only) is pretty good for Doust Sulwood. Sigh.

Enough keyboard-pounding: time for a workout. Get the old sword down off the wall and start swinging; wish Ed was here to spar with. Ne'er mind: I go.

love to all,


January 15, 2005: Hello, fellow scribes. I bring Ed of the Greenwood's reply to Ulrik Wolfsbane.

Also, Kentinal, I'm afraid that old FAQ entry has a serious error: Anchorome wasn't a "joke" at all.

Well met, oldskool! I'll get Ed to reply to you, but please be aware that he has some eight or nine answers lined up to deal with (here) first.

Onward with Ed's words to Ulrik:

I had barbarians in the Sword Coast North from the first, but mine were Celtic-like or Cimmerian-like only in that they had dark hair, black or brown, brownish skins, and were not fair-skinned and fair-haired. I envisaged them as 'live off the land' proud nomadic warrior tribes who worshipped bears and rejected human civilization, which they saw as weak and decadent (but note: a rite of passage for the young males was to venture to Waterdeep, see its sights, and return alive, without advice from any other barbarian, though they could seek advice from anyone else). In other words, they weren't ignorant of civilization or unable to comprehend it; they measured it and rejected it.

Paul Jaquays gave them the Uthgardt name and the tribes we know in the published Realms today, when he wrote FR5 from my copious notes (he had to: I had just a single paragraph about the barbarians!). (Most of FR5, from ship tables to entries on geographical features, was "the North" part of FR1 that wouldn't fit, and so got chopped and made into a separate product.) Eric Boyd and later Steven Schend and George Krashos have developed the barbarians from there.

To your specific question: "Did you intend them to be friends or foes of your adventuring bands, or a more unpredictable force, likely to heal as to harm?" my reply is this: in the original, pre-TSR Realms, my barbarians of the North were in the latter, unpredictable category: if you as a non-barbarian treated them right, and didn't unfortunately blunder into the middle of something where your actions or very presence could be misinterpreted, they could be friendly.

Moreover, they were ALWAYS gentle and rescuing with women and children, because they valued their own so highly (as vital to their survival, particularly in the face of orc battles; they slipped away when orc hordes formed, but otherwise battled orcs daily, therefore saving civilized human holdings much grief by 'keeping down' orc numbers and making hordes fewer and farther between). There were many instances in my pre-D&D short stories when barbarians rode into human towns, burst into taverns, and as every man there shouted and grabbed for weapons, silently presented some women or children they'd rescued from wolves or bandit attack or an orc raid to the tavernmaster, and left. Women were NEVER raped or molested by the barbarians, but revered. In many cases observed by "civilized" folk of the Realms, husbands (or guardian uncles or fathers) who beat women were themselves beaten by barbarians, who would then take the woman and children away if (and only if) the woman desired to escape.

As for ginger beer and lamp-fuel in the North:

Ginger beer: yes, mainly in Lapaliiya, the Tashalar, and the southern Vilhon shores (where they have ginger). Considered an acquired taste in the Heartlands, but readily obtainable in Amn, Calimshan (not Tethyr), and in all important ports up and down the Sword Coast (it doesn't spoil as readily as small beer, and so is a common ship cargo; as crews often grow tired of the taste, it's usually sold off when ships call at ports, and local spirits purchased in its place).

Lamp-fuel: of old, this was either tallow (mainly rothé rather than sheep) or some tree saps in the North (pine-pitch torches are the rural alternative). Since trade has become so energetic, barrels of cheap, scented oils from Calimshan and all of the other lands around the Shining Sea (Chult is a particularly prolific source of oils derived from the wide variety of crushed and boiled jungle plants) have largely supplanted tallow. Although scented oils are preferred in the South, oils from the South gained initial popularity when certain Calishite satraps were wise enough to add edible (plant gum) preservatives to (unscented) edible oils derived from a mixture of livestock renderings and farmed food plant leaves, and so offer buyers in the Sword Coast North barrels of oil that could be used either for cooking or in lamps.

So saith Ed.

Hmm, Realmslore unfoldeth day by day in unexpected directions. Interesting.

love to all,


January 15, 2005: Hi, Faraer! Good to e-see you again here at Candlekeep...

I'll just explain about Anchorome for Kentinal and everyone: that island-hopping campaign was very much as briefly outlined in the FAQ. The misunderstanding about the "joke" arose because a TSR staffer made a joke at a long-ago GenCon panel that "anchorome" should really have been "Anchor-on-me." Not a bad witticism, but got garbled in writing the FAQ into a suggestion that the campaign itself was a joke. No offense taken, Kentinal.

Anchorome began with PC adventurers aboard a ship, driven they-knew-not-where by a furious storm. De-masted and a-drift, they wind up beached on an unknown island... with ruins (a 'dungeon') on it. In order to have time to cut down trees and rig a new mast, chink the leaks in the hull and refloat the ship, etc., they must fight the monsters inhabiting the isle (in one case, a lich in his tower). Then they set sail - - straight into ANOTHER storm that drives them onto another island (lather, rinse, repeat).

Ed made the point in a magazine article, long ago, that you could use the Judges Guild Island book (maps) of the time with any published adventures you wanted, on each island.

There you go: potted Realmslore explanation.

love to all,


January 16, 2005: Hello, all. Patience, Verghityax, patience. Ed's trying to write six projects at once and keep up with all the queries here, as well as assisting divers other Realms creators and novice authors trying to break into print outside the Realms, too. Your reply is probably going to take twelve days or more, being as it's a "big" one rather than narrow-focus.

Dargoth, I can try to handle your "what level are the Knights of Myth Drannor" query from late 2004 without pestering Ed directly, for once. He has your comment about Vangerdahast, and will reply (when he gets through some more of the older queries).

I say "try" because Ed doesn't let us know what levels the NPC Knights (such as Dove) are, or let anyone but the player who owns "Character X" know Character X's level, XP totals, current hp, and so on. Of course, if the PLAYER spills such beans to the rest of us, that's up to them - - but Ed won't.

However, as scribes here will probably have gathered by now, I can (purr) be pretty persuasive when I want to be, and so can tell you: the lowest active Knight I know of, in the 'home' Realms campaign, is 9th level, and most of us are around 14th (with one 16th, I believe).

However, this is NOT because of level-draining encounters. Ed hates such mechanisms, because he thinks they're extremely unfair to players who've really earned their XP - - and Ed makes darned sure we fall into that category. He gives XP for good roleplaying, for teamwork and slick tactics and forethought and planning attacks and diplomacies, for coming up with creative solutions to problems, and for adhering to faith-creeds, alignment, and established character (not using information we players know but our characters wouldn't, and so on).

We do intensive roleplaying, so our play sessions cover hours or a day or two rather than tendays - - and it takes us a long time to accumulate XP. So, no, we're not 20th level yet, even after two decades of fairly steady play, but by jingo, we can RUN these characters, and know them and their abilities and spells through and through.

If you get the feeling that I'm proud of us, you're right. It's not for nothing that Ed won the Best Player award in the 1984 D&D Open at GenCon, back when that tournament really meant something, leading a Best Team that included three or four of us original Realms players. We hated competitive play then and we hate it now, but still mopped the floor with the opposition - - and have never entered the D&D Open since.

Ed was an RPGA Open finalist the next year, just for fun, and then switched to running RPGA events.

As he put it about a year ago, in an explanatory e-mail to someone who asked Ed how many RPGA points he'd accumulated over the years:

Points meant nothing to me, and neither did prizes of a year's membership extension, given that I was a Lifetime Charter Member. I jokingly asked Frank Mentzer, then head of the RPGA, if he had the divine power to extend my lifetime by a year everytime I won, and when he admitted that he couldn't [no budget for that, is how he put it] and decreed that I couldn't give away membership extensions I'd won to other gamers, I decided to design and DM events instead. At various times along the line I had Service Awards and Grand Masterships thrown at me, and at one time was mailed a report that said I was a 12th level judge and a 6th level player (whatever that meant), but the RPGA's computer system kept crashing and losing all of our points. I was most amused, about a decade later I suppose, to be told by some then-novice RPGA official (Mike Selinker, perhaps, though memory fails me here) that I didn't have enough points to be allowed to Dungeon Master an event for that year's GenCon tournament... an event that, ahem, * I'd * written.

I've never officially been told that I can no longer write certs (yes, I know certs themselves have gone away), and I still have a cert given to me long ago by Jean Rabe, head of the RPGA at the time, that says, "Elminster appears and aids the bearer of this cert in any way they desire, casting any Players Handbook and Unearthed Arcana magic-user spells of the player's choice, 2 spells per round, for 2 rounds." I'm looking forward to someday using it in play - - if and only if I can see the expression that comes onto the face of Ian Richards, as I do so.

As Ed's e-mail is getting at, points and experience and levels are meaningless in an intensive roleplaying campaign run by a good DM. Players stop thinking of rules and stats and "game" terms, and, as their characters, plunge into the middle of a familiar world that seems real and offers them challenges and perils and fun - - wherever THEY choose to go.

So, Dargoth, my Knight character is 14th level, right now, after about twenty years (real time) of play. And believe me, she knows how to shake what she's got.

Wanna watch?

love to all,


January 17, 2005: Dearest Woolpert, Ed makes reply to your wild magic queries:

Please bear in mind that what follows is what *I'd* do as a DM, not an official WotC D&D rules 'ruling' (there's something called the Rules Council for that).

The Chosen of Mystra are hampered by dead and wild magic just like everyone else, with three exceptions:

1. Spending Silver Fire.

For 'brute force' magics (energy blasts, the creation of magical barriers, healing, and so on) Chosen of Mystra can expend silver fire to manage almost normal effects (and probabilities of effects, though there's almost always echoing wild-effect 'leakage' around their operating spells). Translocation spells (teleportation) are still chancy (though in a wild magic area, silver fire can be burned to create a line intersecting with a nearby 'strand of the Weave,' and the Weave then 'ridden' out of the wild magic area, in a strange 'slow teleport' that third parties see beginning as a fading and shifting of the teleporter, so that, say, Elminster briefly has three heads blended and blurred into one another before he 'snaps out of sight'), and detection and divination spells nigh-impossible.

2. Feeding Magic With Magic.

Chosen of Mystra have the inherent ability to 'feed' one magic into another, draining part of the stored energy of a held or worn item or the entire energy of a memorized spell into another spell, to 'power it up.' Because this tends to make magic 'go wild,' it's never done in normal circumstances, but often succeeds in causing a spell to have pretty much normal effect in a wild magic or dead magic area, if a more powerful spell is fed into a lesser one.

For example, Elminster casts a lightning bolt and feels it start to 'tug wild,' so he uses his ability as a Chosen to make it 'hang fire' until the next round, and during that next round feeds a flesh to stone spell he's memorized into the lightning bolt. Because of the difference in levels, the lightning bolt is highly likely to 'go off' as a lightning bolt, at the end of that second round, though its aim and discharged energy (damage done) may still vary wildly. If El instead burns a ninth-level memorized spell to feed the lightning bolt, it will probably function almost normally. Note that this does NOT appreciably alter the surroundings from being a wild or dead magic area, though doing this thirty times or more would weaken a dead magic area into something much smaller.

3. Feeling Flows, and Familiarity

Chosen of Mystra can sense movements, build-ups, and changes in nature (for example, from a build-up into a discharge) of magical force. This can give them small tactical advantages in a wild magic zone that other beings lack. Also, in a locale VERY familiar to the particular Chosen (such as their usual abode, or a spot where they've previously spent a lot of time or cast many magics), their own magical efforts will be at least slightly better than any attempts by mortal spellcasters to battle dead or wild magic because of their familiarity with the presence, precise location, and nature of existing magics, usual local flows of magic, and so on.

Of course, Chosen can call on the Weave to destroy wild and dead magic areas (and planar rifts, too), though this is a long and exhausting process involving the casting of many spells, and ideally the cooperation of several Chosen or powerful spellcasters working together (something akin to several people trying to gather, bunch up, and carry away a gigantic collapsed hot air balloon or fallen field tent or huge parachute, it's something best accomplished by people who aim their efforts accurately, know what to do, and work together well). It's not something they can expect to accomplish if lacking many memorized (or otherwise stored) magics, if under attack, or in a hurry.

So most Chosen who find themselves in a wild or dead magic zone will first attempt to get out of the zone, unless there's some compelling reason for remaining there.

Your next question was: "How do you feel about wild mages, and how would Mystra feel about such casters, who deliberately play fast and loose with the Weave?"

Wild mages have indeed returned in the new Complete Arcane. I make no apologies for introducing wild and dead magic into the Realms in the first place, but when they became a 2nd Ed character class, Jeff Grubb and I both responded with "Uh-oh."

Why? Well, in short, like spellfire, wild mages can be a campaign-wrecker. Great fun for an encounter or two, but the implications of their presence are far-reaching, so "wild mages" are usually best confined to a rare handful of NPCs - - unless the campaign is a lone wandering PC wild mage adventuring one-on-one with a DM. Consider the presence of wild mages with 'regular' arcane spellcasters or priests of any sort in the same party of adventurers. Many accidents waiting to happen. I'm not saying "don't go there," I'm saying 'consider carefully what the character of your D&D play may change into, before you embark on this.'

As for Mystra: The 'old' Mystra (LN) was less than pleased with this road of dweomercraeft because of the damage wild mages can do to fellow spellcasters, the Weave, and most importantly to the reputation of arcane spellcasters with others (and therefore, the general attitude [fear] of most intelligent beings of Faerun towards magic and its use).

The 'new' Mystra, however, was more than a bit of a rebel as a young mortal woman. Like the keeper of a china shop glumly observing an approaching bull, she's against wantonly destructive uses of magic, and her alignment gives her a distaste not just for destructive magic but also for deliberately cruel uses of magic. However, Mystra has seen much reckless use of magic by divine spellcasters serving other deities and by selfish mages of various stripes, noted that many of these uses have been both effective and have garnered much respect among the wider populace, and more or less shrugged.

She may be 'waiting and seeing,' and she (or Azuth) may well send some of their powerful servants (including Chosen) to curb individual wild mages who seem to turn wholly insane or who "throw their weight around too much." For now, however, the rare wild mages in the Realms seem free to follow the path they've chosen.

So saith Ed.

Who seems to never be anything else but busybusybusy, these days.

love to all,


January 18, 2005: Hello, all.

To the above: Ahem.

I'll never tell. Show, yes, but tell...

Ahem again. Continuing with Ed's answers...

Melfius, Ed reminds everyone that he's no "official rules authority" for D&D, but also says this:

Hi, Melfius. If I was DMing a 2nd Edition situation in which an existing Mantle was struck by either Mordenkainen's Disjunction or Eye of Mystra, I'd have their contact cause a spectacular (but essentially harmless) discharge of wild magic effects (outwards from the mantle only), and reduce that particular mantle forever (that is, that particular mantle won't last forever, but rather can never be by any means restored to its former effects) to the effects of the base (6th level) spell, plus this: the mantle would visibly (and irregularly) flicker, in a manner probably very alarming to the mantle-wearer. Consider the Disjunction or the Eye to have "used up" all nine 'lives' of the mantle, so that the next attempt to directly affect it will succeed (bringing the mantle down). The wearer of the mantle can by silent act of will 'take the mantle down' at any time, but in this 'nine lives spent' case, the magical energy of the collapsing mantle can't be used for any purpose (whereas some mantle-wearers who know how can deliberately collapse a mantle and send its energy into a magic item that uses charges, typically conferring 1d4 +1 per level of caster above 20th fresh charges).

So saith Ed.

I'd just like to say to all scribes who have the idea that adventuring in Ed's Realms is some sort of Apocalypse Now blast-and-topple spellhurling fest, in which cities are smashed, continents roll over, and flying mages hurl meteor swarms in 'fly-by' pranks every few moments is wrong. The existence of such powerful magic - - and being able to read about such spells, before ever being powerful enough to cast them - - made PC wizards (and most of the NPC wizards Ed played) VERY careful about when and how to hurl spells. Once protected by a mantle or even an ironguard and some sort of protection from missiles spell against casual attacks, an 'average wizard in the street' (if there is such a thing :} ) needn't be so paranoid as to level cottages and send chain lightining across village markets whenever anyone spits an oath in his direction. Moreover, throwing around lots of magic is a way to get noticed (and considered a peril best swiftly wiped out). So MOST wizards we Knights met were manipulators and behind-the-scenes entrepreneurs (from pimps to drug-runners to anointed suppliers of royal courts and households) rather than "gunslinger" spellcasters. They just happened to be very wary magnates who regarded new spells they could use as the very best sort of treasure, and always kept an eye out for possibilities of gaining new ones.

Ed once roleplayed a VERY interesting afternoon for us, in which we found the cottage of a hermit hedge-wizard we were trying to track down, and found him dead (of a fever, I believe, not foul play of any sort) and decomposing. As his bodily collapse released magic after magic that he'd cast months and even years previously, all sorts of mages seemed to sense his demise - - and they converged on the remote cottage from all directions, seeking to plunder the dead wizard's spellbooks and belongings for anything they could use. We kept hidden, merely casting tracing spells Elminster had given us (and re-memorizing and casting more, so we could hunt down all the other wizards later if we wanted to) and watching. They stripped the place in a day-and-a-little-bit!

Interesting, eh?

love to all,


January 19, 2005: Hello, all. Herewith, Ed replies to Dargoth's post about Vangey ("Hmm Im seriously begining to wonder about Vangerdahast, Cormyr may well be better off without him..."). Jerryd, I've sent your latest post off to Ed, but you may be very interested in what he says here (this was penned by him before seeing your comments).

Elfinblade and everyone else hoping for "instant" answers, please understand that Ed doesn't have TIME to surf the Net or "live" on boards. If he tried, none of us would get any new Realmslore from him. He does have a "day job" as well as his D&D work, after all. So please don't expect instant responses. One Realmslore request from as long ago as May 2004 is still unanswered (because Ed can't find the lore-source he needs to properly reply). Ed WILL get to you, in the fullness of time. Promise.

Scribes, I give you the words of Ed:

Dargoth, one of the most interesting and important themes in the Realms, for me, has been my (and other writers') ongoing explorations of how powerful people handle their power, what they do with it, and how it changes them. In the case of wizards, I've peered at the Simbul (and to a much lesser extent the rest of the Seven), and had a good look at Elminster and Vangerdahast. Steven Schend has taken a hard look at Khelben... and so on.

Now the Chosen are a special case (divine power running through you, outliving your kin, friends, and even countries, and so on) and have been discussed many times elsewhere. Vangerdahast I've explored most importantly with Jeff Grubb in Cormyr: A Novel, Troy Denning in Death of the Dragon, and in my novels Elminster In Hell and Elminster's Daughter.

It was important to me to NOT paint a picture of a one-dimensional villain, or a tyrant. Vangerdahast truly IS working for what he sees as the good of Cormyr: the country, not particular citizens or rulers. He isn't doing what he does because he WANTS to be ruler or wield all the power (and in fact resents the constant demands on his time, that rob him of any idleness, hobbies, vacations, or experimenting with spells): he just doesn't trust anyone else to do a better job. He grudgingly trusts Laspeera not to screw up while his back is turned (because he's measured her competence, personally made sure she has the experience, and has thoroughly mind-reamed her to be CERTAIN she's just as loyal to Cormyr as he is, and in the same way), and that's about it.

In short, the man's not evil. Authoritarian, manipulative, ruthless, scheming - - yes, all of these. He believes Cormyr is the best land in the Realms and offers its folk the best possible lives of any group of beings dwelling in Faerūn, and he wants to preserve it and cause it to flourish and remain sovereign and undivided, far into the future, at all costs.

He was quite capable of murdering royals and butchering nobles by the score to achieve his ends, promoting falsehoods and ruining reputations and all manner of lesser crimes - - in the same way (but not in the same manner or style of operation) as Khelben and Elminster do.

You wonder if he "would have been able to manipulate Alusair the same way he did Azoun." Of course not. Alusair rebelled against her father and against authority - - and "authority" was really Vangerdahast. Azoun had a personality trained, molded, and (as I pointed out in my earlier post) controlled (if need be) by Vangey.

Moreover, Filfaeril was no fool, knew exactly what was going on, and had called on Harper aid so she could (between Azoun's death and funeral, wherein SHE made Alusair Regent) privately threaten Vangey thus: do to Alusair and Azoun V what you did to my man, and the Harpers I've already called in to watch over you will act, smashing you and your rule, with Elminster's aid if need be. You have been a good friend and adviser, helped my Azoun become among the greatest kings Cormyr has ever know, and won peace and prosperity for years, so I've not acted against you - - but if you do this, I will.

And Vangerdahast responded in the one way that makes him much better than Manshoon or any other tyrant: he told her he already knew about her Harper preparations, and had done nothing against them because he thought they were a good watchdog on the War Wizards and everyone else in the realm, and that he had no intention of controlling Alusair or anyone else, ever again. That Caladnei was no figurehead or puppet of his, but the successor he'd been grooming to be the "right" match as 'Guiding Mage' for Alusair, where he could not be, and that his time in the saddle was done. For the good of Cormyr, it was time for him to pass the torch.

Filfaeril was pleased but disbelieving, so Vangey teleported them both to a Harper mage of his acquaintance (well outside Cormyr), and had that person cast a mindlink spell so that the Dowager Queen could read Vangey's thoughts without any fear of the magical means being his spell, that could distort, conceal, or fool her: that he meant what he'd said, and considered much of his work in the last two decades to have been mistaken or blundering, and that he was sorry for these failings (not for doing it all, but for not accomplishing it WELL).

This is the sort of 'root' Realmslore that would have probably have made a slow-paced, weepy short story, and so got left offstage, but which I think all scribes should know.

What lies ahead for Alusair, Azoun V, Cormyr, and even Vangerdahast is, of course, as yet unwritten. Oh, except for one little tale at the end of the forthcoming "Best of Eddie" collection...

See, THO? I haven't forgotten how to tease...

Your suspicions about Vangey and Alusair often being unable to find a common ground is quite correct, but you misread Azoun IV: Alusair isn't "far more" strongheaded and idealistic than Azoun IV, she's just younger: you've been seeing the old, mellowed Azoun rather than the way he was at her age. Thanks for your post, and I hope this answer helps.

So saith Ed.

Well said, Creator, well SAID. Essential Realmslore for all Cormyr fans, indeed!

love to all,


January 20, 2005: Hello, all. Ed replies to Kajehase about Aencar (from late Dec 04) [Ed's primitive e-mail can't transfer accent marks, but pretend they're there, okay?]:

Initially, most Dalesfolk wouldn't believe it was the real Mantled King: they've seen far too many Zhent and Sembian tricks, down the years, to win concessions from them or covertly achieve rule over them, and would regard any Aencar VERY suspiciously.

If (and only if) the Aencar could convince elders (including Chosen, elves, and others who knew Aencar of old, not just the oldest folks in every dale working from what now-dead ancestors told them, and local tales) that he was indeed the real thing, the old stories would start to take effect: nostalgic hungering for "the old glory" would make a lot of Dalesfolk feel proud and strong again, and want to be united in a realm of their own rather than ridden through by powerful neighbours who in too many cases tend to regard them as handy craftworkers and farmers and buyers, but backward rural simpletons, too.

Note that this doesn't mean a Dales kingdom would happen overnight. Archendale would never want to join such an endeavour, Shadowdale and Daggerdale would be VERY reluctant to do so, and Mistledale would 'wait and see.' Every other dale would long to have Aencar as their king - - but again, they'd do nothing to help him except give him shelter (and food, and a hiding-place if he needed it) unless he gathered a strong army and support from Cormyr or Sembia. Otherwise, the Dalesfolk would regard any bid to unite them (or any combination of dales) as all too likely to bring down an invasion of the Dales from Hillsfar, Zhentil Keep, Sembia, Cormyr, and even ambitious forces from Calaunt, Mulmaster, Tantras, Westgate, or somewhere else around the Inner Sea, landing in Scardale. The latter sorts of invaders would be trying to plunder and pillage or seize rule over the nascent realm, but all of the first four named places might invade just to prevent any of the others of the four from doing so (unopposed). On the other hand, if Aencar proclaimed a kingdom of the Dales with the open and proven (by presence of envoys and proclamations) support of one of those four places, immediate invasion wouldn't come. Instead, everyone would mount border patrols, send in envoys, and also send in spies, to see what this was about - - and if they could have Aencar murdered and replaced with their own representative during the first winter, when heavy snows make marching armies difficult to impossible.

However, an Aencar who rather than ruling openly rides about with an armed bodyguard doing the Robin Hood thing (dwelling in hiding in the forests and moving often) would enjoy a great deal of support from Dalesfolk so long as he and his band refrained from committing atrocities against them (meaning: house-burnings, raids, rape and pillage, widespread murder, NOT a few killings here and there, of folk who opposed them).

Aencar is the proudest part of the lore and legend of the Dales; Dalesfolk WANT to believe he's still alive, or will return to lead and protect them. Even a ghostly Aencar who appeared above fires to whisper directions, or who talked to individuals and then vanished into thin air on the spot, would be revered and to a large extent obeyed. (None of which means rulers currently in power in the Dales will welcome a returned Aencar, or want to step aside to let him rule. It will take a lot [personal persuasion by Storm Silverhand, for example] to make any of them accept that Aencar is anything more than an impostor sent by foes of the Dales.)

So saith Ed.

Whew; interesting times, indeed! I hear a lot of Dales-centered campaigns being shaken and stirred, about now...

love to all,


January 21, 2005: Hello, all. Herewith, Ed's reply to Elfinblade. BTW, Elfinblade, no apologies necessary. I wasn't chiding you, just putting you in the picture about how long replies from Ed will necessarily take. And this reply from Ed landed in my e-mail right now by sheer coincidence. I give you the words of Ed:

You pose questions dealing with three matters, so let's charge right in...

1. The return of Bane. As I've said before, I'd love to write a novel about the return of Bane, or see a novel written by someone else who I think can properly handle Bane himself (and yes, Jim Lowder would be my first choice, and a superb one), published. However, Wizards seems uninterested in this (yes, I've asked, several times, and so have lots of GenCon attendees, over the years), and the best time for such a novel to appear is past. It should have been a "right after the 3rd Edition FRCS" blockbuster.

So yes, I believe the FRCS entry is all you're going to get for now. I'm hoping that in the context of publishing some lore about the various priesthoods in the Realms, we can sneak in some additional coverage of this - - but of course it'll be a "possibly distorted by doctrine" version, not a "you the reader are there and so KNOW all of this to be true" viewpoint. Like the slaying of Leira, this was a topic initially 'off limits' because of the old TSR Code of Ethics (couldn't show evil succeeding, and there's no greater success for evil than godslaying, after all - - regardless of the nature of the deity), and probably makes some game company execs very uneasy because of the American Religious Right's likely reaction if they get word of such a topic.

2. Halaster after ELMINSTER IN HELL. His fate, current status and sanity, and the consequences of this have already been asked about at GenCons, here at Candlekeep, and elsewhere. All I can say about this subject right now is: sorry, NDAs forbid. Yes, I agree that this is a crucial event, and yes, I agree (hint hint) that there SHOULD be at least one novel published covering this.

3. The Waterdeep novel, CITY OF SPLENDORS, is a bit past the "supposedly" written stage. Elaine Cunningham and I are co-writing this book as equals, it's written to be a standalone book (although I've seen one cover mockup that implies it's been 'put' into the Cities series) although it could spawn sequels, the Prologue is set at the time of the Threat From The Sea and the rest of the book is current Realms time, its action geograpically leaves Waterdeep only VERY fleetingly, and it primarily concerns new characters. As for the issues it raises, I'll have to direct you to other threads here at Candlekeep, specifically the one where THO posted endless teases from me as to "what you'll see" in this forthcoming book. I won't be more specific than that, I'm afraid. Book contracts have their own NDA restraints, and if you read all the teases I've already let slip, you should have more than enough to keep you happy.

Oh, well, let me relent a little and say you'll see: fighting on the walls of Waterdeep (and more fighting in the alleys, and still more fighting a little deeper), nobles playing pranks (and paying prices), merchants getting uppity, servants getting even more uppity, a night in the City of the Dead, bits and pieces of a lot of monsters, romance, self-sacrifice, the goings-on at two large revels, Piergeiron being tender, Mirt being his usual rip-roaring self, a cult at work, deception among friends, coaches racing through the streets, the harbor aflame, someone at a club bringing down the house, someone else who usually goes by a nickname having something to do with snakes, a half-ogre swiping a drink, and... well, that should be enough for ANY novel. Oh, yes, I almost forgot to mention a brief scene or two at a place called Candlekeep.

Elaine and I had so much fun writing this that it's probably going to take us both months to recover.

So saith Ed.

Whose last line somehow makes doing a collaborative novel sound a bit like mud-wrestling... hmmm... no, let us go there NOT.

love to all,


January 22, 2005: Hello, all. Herewith, Ed's replies to a whole bunch of scribes:

Sorry, Verghityax, your Baldur's Gate query about the Knights of the Shield headquarters is RIGHT in the middle of a specific NDA prohibition. I must remain silent on this matter.

In like manner, Kentinal, NDA reasons keep me from identifying the father of Laeral's daughter Maura: this isn't my tale to tell (hint, hint). Sorry.

And to The Sage, I regret to reply that current developments concerning life in the Abbey of the Just Hammer in Tasseldale is also NDA-silenced on my part.

Gee, this is "just saying no" business is swift and easy. I wish it was a little more fun.

Kajehase, like the Lords Who Sleep used to be, in neighbouring Cormyr, Aencar will start to take on the role of a future "Faerūnian version of King Arthur (in a few hundred years FR-time that is) with legends and stories cropping up around him." Giving DMs a wonderfully evocative 'lever' to use in many ways, I hope.

Lord Rad, the Monastery of the Yellow Rose was created by Bob Salvatore for his Cleric Quintet series (the Cadderly books), and written up (by him) in game form in FR9 The Bloodstone Lands.

Dargoth, I don't believe the time is yet right to specifically identify the "doomed Chosen" Mystra intended Sammaster to replace; that's "back story" that may or may not get told, but for me to say something now would ruin things and shift the possible tale forever into the "not get told" category. So let's just say that divers scribes have pointed out to you the larger-than-we-all-think roster of Chosen (implication: there may well be MORE Chosen of Mystra that none of us have ever heard about yet), and that Mystra (being divine) can "look down the road" better and more keenly than we mortals can.

So saith Ed.

Striding through scribes' scrolls of inquiry with the same swift gusto Mirt used to enjoy the charms of willing lowcoin lasses...

Though (thankfully) exhibiting a rather different technique.

love to all,


January 23, 2005: Hello, all. Hoondatha, Ed replies to your 'trebuchets and more' questions:

Yes, the Realms has trebuchets, and ballistae and catapults and mangonels and rams and all of the other 'classic' siege engines, already outlined in the rules several times. The only "Realms-specific" siege engines are magical augmentations of the standard sorts (spell-propelled drills), and accessories (covered tunnels with shove-blades to allow soldiers to force rust monsters forward against ironbound gates, chains, and the like; ditto to allow casters to reach walls and directly apply stone to flesh spells; and so on). Most large siege engines are "built on the spot" by armies that have the numbers and expertise to use them, and sieges in the Realms are rare, because it's the act of a stupid or desperate attacker to try to starve or wait defenders in a large walled city (the only sort that require sieges) out.

Usually, sieges happen in two situations: an orc horde arrives at a city it can't storm at first go, or an army a long way from home gets caught near an enemy city in winter, and decides to force entry and use the foe's food and shelter rather than trying the long, apt-to-be-deadly trek home through hostile territory in fierce weather.

Also, armies who don't care much about losses (Thay, employing slaves, or Sembia or Amn, employing mercenaries) will try sieges with 'expendable' troops.

So this tends to mean that sieges are rare, but could be mounted by forces working for Amn, Tethyr, Cormyr, Sembia, Calimshan, Thay, Zhentil Keep, and various war-like independent cities like Calaunt, Mulmaster, and so on. Naval-bombardment sieges (against pirates, for example) are a whole different matter, of course.

So saith Ed.

Whom I don't recall visiting a siege on our Knightly experiences at all. One more thing to be grateful for.

love to all,


January 25, 2005: Hello, all. I present Ed's latest response to Jerryd's latest response ("Come out of your corners swinging, gentlemen. I want a good, clean fight, with no - -"):

Hi, Jerryd. You think you're being misinterpreted? Fair enough. I think in many places in your last reply you're misinterpreting ME, so let's get to it. As before, I'll run through your post in order.

First, you implied (because of your own views on micromanaging making "the managed" too scared to do anything) that if Vangerdahast was truly micromanaging the War Wizards, they'd have long since collapsed, and been far more ineffectual before said collapse than they've been portrayed in published Realmslore.

When I then replied that they are themselves competent wizards, and do act and accomplish quite a lot because they follow "standing orders" and "rules of engagement" set by Vangey but relayed through an ever-changing array of other War Wizards rather than an ironclad chain of command, and so can accomplish things without awaiting Vangey's personal delivery of commands, you posted: [Still, though, to me at least "standing orders" aren't the same thing as "micromanaging"]. Nor are they to me.

You then posted: [If Vangey gives a war wizard orders then sends him off to get it done and doesn't further bother him (unless the situation changes) until he comes back to report, then by definition Vangey isn't micromanaging him. What you're describing above isn't really micromanaging. Micromanaging implys frequent if not daily checking and meddling.]

Yes, agreed. But that's NOT what I said Vangey did. I said he DID engage in daily checking and meddling.

You then posted: [I suppose it's possible to try to do both, but it would be at least difficult. The more micromanaging is done, the less the standing orders are "standing" as they are modified or added to on a day-to-day or situation-to-situation basis. At some degree of micromanagement, the concept of "standing orders" pretty much becomes meaningless.]

Yes, it IS difficult, as I've said again and again. As for the next two sentences, you seem to be thinking in modern terms (wherein "standing orders" tend to "stand" for long periods of time, often an entire posting or mission), whereas I keep telling you that:

Vangey sends forth a War Wizard on Mission X with a set of orders but that all War Wizards also have 'if this situation occurs, do thus' "standing orders" to fall back on whenever they encounter gaps in their mission orders ('mission orders' being equivalent to 'rules of engagement,' though of course in Cormyr that particular term would neither be used nor understood), BUT that Vangey DOES micromanage, by 'popping up' (using an array of items and portals so he can translocate often without memorizing a lot of teleport spells, and using items worn and carried by War Wizards as spell foci so he can easily eavesdrop, both sound and vision, on their doings from afar) to surprise this or that War Wizard with additional comments and orders (which are, yes, micromanaging).

I've never said this was an attractive feature of being a War Wizard, or that it arose out of anything more than the same deep-seated mistrust of the competency of others that so bedevils Khelben Blackstaff: Vangerdahast and Khelben are both paranoid, and (with a few exceptions, such as Laspeera and Caladnei in the first case and Laeral and to a lesser extent all of the other Chosen of Mystra in the second) they don't trust anyone to do a task as well as they can, or even fully and properly at all.

You're correct in assuming that there are no standardized tests to pass to move from novice War Wizard to full acceptance. There IS one standard feature: a covert, while-asleep (or in emergencies, the brutal right-now waking equivalent) mind-ream by Vangey (Laspeera now largely handles this for Caladnei) to ensure the loyalty, essential character, and personal secrets, flaws, and schemes of every novice being tested - - but nobody forewarns a trainee about this, and as often as possible it's done while asleep, troubling or even awakening the person being tested, but leaving them not QUITE understanding what happened, and not necessarily thinking it an experience undergone by anyone else. (Ranthaerus comes awake out of a nightmare in which he vaguely remembers being pursued through his own mind, something bright and terrible right behind him purging all the cozy darkness from its familiar passages and caverns. Panting and sweating, he peers around into the silent darkness, wondering what brought THAT on. And resolves never to drink another drop of Athkatlan clarry, ever again. Or was it the cheese?)

You ask: [Is it common for there to be little difference in acutal competence or ability between a randomly-selected novice or "trainee" and a randomly-selected junior "full" war wizard?]

No. If the selection of the novice was truly random, you'd be looking at a lot of truly green mages. Except in dire emergencies (and when he got handed one such, in DotD, he didn't have time to change his established custom) Vangerdahast wouldn't dream of elevating someone to full membership in the War Wizards who hadn't at least had their trustworthiness, loyalty to the realm and to the War Wizards, and competency in a fight or when threatened, 'proved' in the field. In other words, you'd find no-one among the junior "full" war wizards who hadn't been sent on a mission or two, while being covertly watched by other War Wizards, if not Laspeera or Vangey (more recently, substitute Caladnei for Vangey).

You post: [I plainly and simply don't think it's possible for micromanangement and initiative to easily and comfortably coexist in any period.]

Agreed. Vangey was attempting tactics neither easy nor comfortable, either for him or for the War Wizards under him. Ultimately (as he grew older, slower, and with ever-more things on his plate and filling his mind) doomed to failure - - but for many years he refused to accept that. Just like a lot of real people in the real world.

You post: [Given that roughly Renaissance-equivalent with a continuous 1300 year history, I find that a 2 for Cormyr would be patently unbelievable - it would shatter my suspension of disbelief.]

I disagree with your value of 2 out of 10, but I think you're also making a great mistake here: the "continuous 1300 year history" bit. Read Cormyr: A Novel, and reflect on Luthax and other incidents in which War Wizards WERE traitors. As has been said before, Vangey completely overhauled the War Wizards, changing what they'd been before his arrival. So we're really only speaking of the War Wizards under his aegis, which is more a matter of decades than centuries. (Much later in your post you conceded this, citing Vangey's command over the War Wizards as lasting 64 years - - but you conveniently don't mention that here.)

You then post: [Oh, and while I agree about no drill sergeants, uniforms and haircuts, boot camps not being present in the War Wizards, as far as the 'joe jobs' and silly punishments, may I point out that your own published words indicate that such are present in the War Wizards? Page 283 of Cormyr: A Novel states "The war wizards were funny that way; a lot of enforced teaching and learning of humility went on..." This sounds a lot like 'joe jobs' and silly punishments to me.]

Perhaps it does, if you're seeing things from a background of modern American military practises. It doesn't, however, sound a lot like that to ME. I see it as the way every 'exclusive club' sort of organization, from belonging to a street gang to belonging to a golf course, 'trains' new members as to the pecking order, "the way things are done around here," and so on. The specific means of this training, because we're dealing in the main with brilliant, independent, and often egocentric minds (the sort of person who can cast arcane spells, and has been shaped by having some experience in doing so), often consists of 'breaking' (humiliating, so as to shatter personal notions of superiority) the new members. After all, Vangey wants loyal War Wizards, not six hundred haughty "I know better" loose cannons.

You post: [What also may be connected to the humility aspect is that in Stormlight on pp.31-32 you indicate that war wizards are prone to playing pranks on one another, and within the context of the cite Sir Broglan has to specifically tell his team "no pranks" and to concentrate on the mission.]

Correct, though the team seen in STORMLIGHT contains no true novices. Pranks are one of the ways some brilliant minds stave off boredom when forced (by loyalty to orders) to do distasteful or dull things.

You then post, regarding the 'necessity' for fixed relative ranking within the War Wizards: [the War Wizards I'm envisioning from what you've written work well together and don't have disputes about who's in charge of what. Inside the War Wizards, at least (saying nothing of outside perceptions), everyone seems to know who's in charge in any given situation. There don't seem to be any turf battles or power-struggles. In order to accomplish that, each war wizard needs to have some clear sense of who is senior to him and who is junior in any given situation - thus, they need a sense of "relative" ranking.]

True. And being intelligent people with minds trained to memorize lots of information perfectly (such as spells, on a daily basis), they have NO problem remembering "on this mission or task, Rundreth gives me orders and I'm in charge of Zethna and Darsheene, but for the matter of the stolen jewels, Zethna's in charge of us all." These aren't grunts, remember. They are trained "rememberers."

*I* have no problems remembering such things on a daily basis, in real life, when I'm working with some freelancers and staffers (WotC or other publishers) on Project X in a certain hierarchical array, and working with many of the same people on Project Y in a different hierarchical array. I often, in fact, juggle six to eight creative projects at once, AND at the same time serve on a library board and a local ratepayers' association, AND participate in SFWA and several other professional organizations and clubs, AND have a "day job" with shifting sub-hierarchies on a task-by-task basis. And if I can do it, a 'common garden' War Wizard (whom I envisage as far smarter than I am, though some may be more naive or less experienced) certainly could. Vangey far more so, of course.

Some of the early War Wizard training includes "live" versions of Kim's Game, involving spell-transmitted "movies" (animated images) rather than a table full of small inanimate objects, and practise in observing and remembering many small details in those images. THIS is part of what p283 of Cormyr: A Novel refers to (of course many a mage looks back on such exercises as boring and humiliating, just as most of us recall elements of our early schooling as silly, vindictive, boring, and so on).

Nor is it entirely true that there are no turf battles or resentments. That WOULD be unrealistic, given human nature. However, every last War Wizard knows better than to engage in disputations or rivalries while on a mission. THAT'S the effect produced by Vangey popping up unexpectedly at many, many War Wizards' elbows and snapping an order or making a sarcastic observation. (Inner thought of War Wizard X: You're a pompous ass, Lethran, and you're going to get us all killed someday. When this is over, I'm going to bit your behind so savagely you won't be able to find it, let alone sit down for a tenday! When this is over... {because Wizard X wouldn't DREAM of doing anything about Lethran now, in action, because that would bring the Old Man popping up, for sure!})

You then post: [But what happens if the leader gets killed? Is Vangey going to specify an order of succession for the entire group? Or will the one appointed leader specify one at the start of the mission?]

In general, standing orders applied: the local expert was in charge 'on the ground,' unless Vangey specified a hierarchy of command (and yes, he usually did, complete with private details like "If Jaressa takes the wand, make sure you XYZ" or "If Thammadar shows the slightest sign of wanting to turn back or delay, make very sure you ABC"). In some cases, a 'battle leader' was given the authority to specify an order of succession at the start of a mission, and did so.

You go on to post: [Or what happens if it's not mission orders but unexpected circumstances that put a group of war wizards together in a situation? How do they know who takes charge? Draw lots? Rock-paper-scissors? Arm wrestle?]

Senior-serving alarphon outranks all, and has authority to establish a chain of command. If lone alarphon, ditto. Exceptions to the "all" here: Vangey/Caladnei, Laspeera, or someone given brevet-rank-equivalent standing orders (recall the "checking in" scene in STORMLIGHT; most on-a-mission, in-the-field War Wizards have the means and the instructions to check in for orders and consultations regularly, and do so; War Wizard cloaks and other magic items aid other War Wizards in tracing and contacting War Wizards 'in the field,' and so on).

You seem to view the War Wizards as an aggressive schoolyard bunch who'll be paralyzed with "But I'M the best!"/"No, I'M the best" arguments at the drop of a hat. Loyalty to the War Wizards is a highly prized and encouraged value among War Wizards, remember? Instinctively they'll initially defer to senior-in-experience fellow War Wizards, breaking away only if they think the seniors are deranged, foolish, or dangerously wrong. Two or more seniors will consult and work together, not bicker.

You post: [What if the situation is time critical and they don't have time to select a leader or wait for orders - they just need a leader to act NOW?]

In THOSE sort of situations a group of War Wizards doesn't need a leader to act NOW, they ALL need to 'act now,' and would do so. Simply put, they don't have a mania for hierarchy. They know what they have to do (in general), and at least one of them would usually have recently had a "just checking in" visit from Vangey to fine-tune their directives.

You cry out that you're being misunderstood in not trying to portray the War Wizards as modern American military, but you keep going back to "but they HAVE to have this command structure, even if you won't let me name them" thinking that is very much like the modern American military. I suggest reading THE LAST DITCH (a study of the hastily-assembled World War II resistance in England for the German invasion that never came) for a look at alternatives (in which small fellowships of local men set aside the centuries-old English class system AND civilian/military divide AND existing military ranks, to work together). Simply put, the War Wizards DON'T have to have such a rigid relative rank command structure. They're closer to 'not-secret-to-anyone' secret police than they are military forces.

You post: [If they don't have a way for leadership to quickly transition to the next man, the entire mission is placed at risk.]

"The entire mission is placed at risk" is the sort of talk I hear from the War College and NORAD guys all the time, NATO generals, and instructors at RMC up here in Canada, Sandhurst, and at West Point: modern military thinking and phraseology.

Let me drive home the point more bluntly: the War Wizards aren't grunts, and they're not enlisted military of any sort. They are elite Cormyreans living in Cormyr (and for the most part born and raised in Cormyr). They KNOW generally what they must do, and they share a common love of country and knowledge of country (they operate 'at home,' not in other lands). They also know how to 'check in' with fellow War Wizards: I "knew" by face and first name every last student at a school I attended in my youth, that had a student population of 800, so it's no stretch at all to imagine a bewildered War Wizard recognizing a fellow War Wizard, racing over to him, and hissing, "THIS just happened! What d'you think we should do?" (Note that "we" rather than "I").

You still seem to be thinking of vast numbers of people serving in various units thrown together for operational reasons (modern "combined arms"), or at least to be trying to pigeonhole these wizards into a chain of command that's really only necessary in such situations. I've seen NATO tape of villagers fighting raiders from the next village in the Balkans, and there was NO rank or chain of command operating on either side, but strangely enough they managed to kill each other anyway, fighting with use of 'cover' and covering fire and sub-objectives and even strategic withdrawals quite effectively. Real war is never orderly, as literally hundreds of generals and survivors have said in various ways down the ages.

[THO: continues in Part II; seems there's a post size limit]

[THO: Part II of Ed's reply:]

You add: [The irrefutable truth of any sort of deadly conflict is that all other things being equal, one group that is a team led and coordinated by a leader will beat a group of leaderless and undirected individuals every time. This irrefutable truth...] ...ain't anything of the sort. Tell that to the legions wiped out by Boadicea's uprising, the British troops slaughtered in the Mutiny, many police and military units exterminated by mobs in the disintegrating Soviet Union (I've seen tapes of downtown street fighting in Russian cities wherein completely leaderless and disorganized grannies with handbags took out entire units of heavily body-armored soldiers with machine guns because they were too enraged to be afraid any longer, and outnumbered the troops about seventy to one), and so on and et cetera. Of course you'll have to raise them from the dead to do your telling. :}

MOST strategists agree that in MOST conflicts, three to one odds will prevail, unless disparities in weaponry, 'reach,' intelligence (of enemy locations and terrain) are significant. Leadership is one factor among many. I agree that superior leadership OFTEN prevails if forces are fairly equal, but just who are these "leaderless and undirected individuals" you refer to? Certainly not the War Wizards, who have standing orders and rules of engagement and VERY frequent direct orders from the Commander-in-Chief himself coming out their ears. Remember also that the War Wizards essentially police Cormyr; they don't invade other countries. They're almost always operating on familiar ground, among folk they know a lot about, and NOT in large setpiece conventional warfare situations. You make it sound as if kids at a summer camp sent on a scavenger hunt would fail if they didn't have a strict chain of command, uniforms, and orders being barked back and forth constantly.

You post: [Not having ANY way of handling continuity of leadership in the face of casualties just plainly and simply isn't believable for any group that knows it will face possibly mortal challenges.]

Oh? The vast majority of D&D adventuring groups of Player Characters DON'T establish a strict or formal chain of command. They may set up 'marching orders' of characters to determine who gets squashed by this or that trap or attack, and group dynamics or a brief "You've got the highest-level priest? Okay, then our paladins follow" discussion usually establishes "who's in charge most of the time" - - but they rarely establish a formal pecking order, from top to bottom, because they don't want to and don't need to. And task groups of War Wizards are rarely larger than PC adventuring groups.

You then post: [Having no standard measure of authority outside of Vangey's own whim for a group of 600 full war wizards is also not very believable to me; I don't think that any insititution so constituted could endure as an effective force.] and [Not having ANY method for maintaining continuity of leadership in the face of casualties in the War Wizards also exceeds my threshold of believability.]

My own conception of the War Wizards (as, ahem, the guy who created them), is that you sell them insultingly short: you're thinking of them as incompetents, whatever your claims to the contrary, if you can type the above two sentences.

You go on to post: [Whatever else I do for the War Wizards or any other institution serving Cormyr, I want to portray them as competent and successful in the long term, not set them up for a later fall or give cause for amazement that they haven't already fallen. Call me a Cormyr fanboy if you must, but I am extremely resistant to depicting any institution of Cormyr in such a way that I am sure will lead to grave danger to Cormyr in the future and surprise that it hasn't fallen already for depending on such clods.]

Fair enough, but I believe that's ignoring the counterbalancing nature of Purple Dragons; courtiers at the Royal Court tirelessly making rules, recording events, and therefore observing events; loyal nobles who fulfill their duties; and yeoman crofters who know not just their own place but everyone else's, and expect folk to behave... in the 'normal way of things' in the realm of Cormyr. You see, I'm a fan of Cormyr, too, and I happen to think the whole realm survives because those farmers, shepherds, crofters, woodcutters, and craftfolk want it to: they're the foundation on which the Forest Kingdom stands. The War Wizards are Vangey's ace up his sleeve, that "everyone knows about" and so are as effective as a deterrent as they are in operational fact.

Your words above also equate competence with having a strict chain of command, rather than placing competence on the shoulders of individual War Wizards (where I prefer to place it; these are, after all, WIZARDS).

On Vangey's ranking of a particular War Wizard, you posted: [Based on your list of factors the entire institution of the War Wizards seems to be first and foremost Vangey's own personal clique, or "personality cult" as some might call it]

Not so. POTENTIALLY so, yes, if he used them that way, but he hasn't.

Vangerdahast doesn't want to be top dog, he wants things done his way (there's a difference). Was General Patton trying to be President or thinking he really WAS president? No. He just wanted to do things his way (often disobeying direct orders from above in the process).

Simply put, Vangey doesn't want to be king and doesn't think he has the right to be king. He does, however, want Cormyr to be like this and that and the other (various details that he sees or that occur to him), and is continually fine-tuning 'the way of things' in the realm to make it better, or rather closer to what he sees as best.

A la Machiavelli, Vangey doesn't want the War Wizards to love or revere him (THAT would be a "personality cult"), he wants them to obey him without question or hesitation.

You then posted that this view of Vangey [doesn't fit with prior portrayals of Vangey and the War Wizards. What I got from past published portrayals of Vangey is that he was personally loyal to and served first Cormyr and second the Obarskyrs, and in all logic I would have expected him to have the same expectations of all his War Wizards.]

That was the outward face he presented, yes. See my answer to Dargoth for more about Vangey's character. You're correct that Vangerdahast DOES have those expectations of all of his War Wizards. He certainly doesn't want any of them thinking they're "better than" or have any business mind-controlling, any Obarskyr. He does, however, think HE must - - for the good of the realm, not for his own personal advancement.

You post: [My impression from published works was that Vangey might have had private thoughts that he would be the best ruler of Cormyr that he kept those thoughts private and served his country and king in that order.]

Correct. Only Filfaeril and Laspeera saw him as he really was, before the events of ELMINSTER'S DAUGHTER (though Alusair and Alaphondar, to name just two, had strong suspicions). Note what I'm agreeing to, here: I'm NOT saying Vangey saw himself as a rightful ruler of Cormyr in any sense. He saw himself as the man best suited to rule, and tried to make Azoun IV better and better suited to rule, and at the same time worked to ensure that Azoun made the "right" decisions and gave the "right" decrees. "Right" in this case being what Vangey saw as right, of course. Vangerdahast saw himself as the TRUE ruler but not the RIGHTFUL ruler. In other words, it was his daily job to rule Cormyr from behind the scenes, and not get caught at it.

You post: [I suppose you might say that Vangey sees himself AS Cormyr - as in "what's good for me is good for Cormyr" or to paraphrase Judge Dredd "I *AM* Cormyr!" - but that also seems to me to be self-serving in the former and near psychotic in the latter.]

Correct. This is how Vangey rationalized going about things in a ruthless, scheming way and gathering ever more power to himself: he saw himself as the realm. The bright side of his 'rule' is that he brought years of peace, stability, and prosperity to Cormyr, made Azoun loved by a majority of commoners in Cormyr, and devoted his own (Vangey's) time to making Cormyr ever better. So he never cavorted with young lasses or took gold or pursued strange hobbies: he became obsessed with the good of the realm, which he saw as 'doing things his way.' Whenever 'his way' didn't bring about the best for the realm, he changed what he did to make Cormyr better.

[THO: Part III follows]

[THO: Part III of Ed's reply:]

You then posted: [The way I had envisioned it was that a number of war wizards are generally assigned to a regiment (unless the regiment has a specific mission or on campaign, the assignment is for a period of some months and wizards rotate in and out) to provide magical support (and to spy on the regiment and report its activities to Vangey/Caladnei).]

Yes and no. Vangey sends War Wizards to accompany Purple Dragon units, individual War Wizards generally serving for a tenday or two at most, and rotating in and out as he (Vangey) sees fit, but these mages are NOT "assigned" in the modern military sense of that word: they are NOT subject to the orders of the commander of the military force UNLESS Vangey tells them they are. Note that in cases of real war (invasion from Sembia, DotD battles, any forays into the Stonelands) he WOULD usually do so, with the War Wizards themselves informing the military commander of this (and of the limitations on it). Remember, it's rare for Purple Dragons OR War Wizards to take to the field for any other reason than "defense of the realm." (Patrols into Tunland, the Stonelands, to Tilver's Gap, and so on are of course considered to be defending the realm.)

Yes, the War Wizards do 'spy' on the unit and what befalls it for Vangey. Yes, they may APPEAR or decide to take orders from almost anyone in the heat of a fray (because they are, after all, working to defend Cormyr, the same objective as held by most nobles and Purple Dragons and yeoman farmers they might be fighting alongside), but they don't have to take such orders from anyone outside the War Wizards except individuals designated in their orders from Vangey, the Obarskyrs, and the persons you'll learn about in the Best of Eddie book.

So, to your post: [If there's an army of multiple regiments in the field, the oversword or battlemaster leading the army can yank the regimental wizards up to his level. The constal leading that regiment has the power to assign them to specific subordinate units within the regiment (e.g. to accompany a patrol) or keep them all at the regimental level as the situation warrants. The constal or the officer leading the subordinate unit has the authority to give them general orders], my answer must be a flat NO. The officers you cite in your example have that authority only if the War Wizard in question (acting on instructions from Vangey) gives it to them. They have no authority whatsoever that's automatically tied to the Purple Dragon (or Blue Dragon, or Court) rank they hold.

Having made your decision that War Wizards are assigned to military units, you 'support' it by posting: [That said, though, it is still undeniable that some war wizards ARE assigned to conventional military units to provide support.]

Not so!

You post: [Numerous times in published lore war wizards are shown with an army in the field or accompanying a routine patrol.]

Correct. Accompanying and fighting alongside, yes. Often taking orders from because they've been ordered to by Vangey, yes. "Assigned" into the chain of command so military commanders can bark orders at them merely because of the rank held by that military commander, NO.

You go on to post: [Published sources also speak of a regular complement of war wizards at the High Horn fortress, and I don't see how this can be regarded as anything but garrison duty.]

War Wizards are just that: wizards. Good wizards need to practise spell-hurling, just as anyone who wants to be good at something tends to be better if they gain a little experience by yes, practising. Practising casting spells in crowded public areas can be dangerous, and it also allows the general public (which will almost certainly include visiting caravan-traders from Sembia, the Dales, and divers other foreign locales who might well be spies or who may just inoocently blab what they saw to someone in power elsewhere who is a foe of Cormyr) to see what's going on, observe War Wizards screwing up (bad for the realm-wide reputation of the War Wizards), and perhaps become over-familiar with what particular War Wizards look like (making blackmailing or impersonating them a little more possible than otherwise).

So some privacy for spellcasting practise is a good idea. It's also less upsetting to farmers, woodcutters, and the like, and so minimizes unnecessary fear and hatred of the War Wizards among the general populace of Cormyr, while at the same time retaining the awe factor by not making the hurling of meteor swarms something seen by every passerby, everyday.

No one dwells at High Horn except Purple Dragons, and the place has walls, so it "fits the bill" as a suitable training-ground free of the general public and a steady, casual stream of passersby (traffic on the road that stops over at High Horn is strictly segregated from most areas of the fortress). It also allows Purple Dragons to be trained to work with War Wizards, allows War Wizards to spy on the Purple Dragon doings there for Vangey without being overly obvious about it, and gives Vangey a legitimate 'secure' place to send War Wizards, novice trainees, captives, and people the War Wizards need to temporarily "protect" so they'll "disappear" from the public eye for a time. High Horn serves all of these functions, as well as giving Vangey a "Siberia" 'punishment-posting' to send War Wizards to if they show signs of getting too caught up in the politics or social whirl of Cormyr (talking to pro-Sembian sympathizers without remembering to report it to your War Wizard bosses, or falling in lust with a beauty of Suzail and seeking to impress her - - or him - - with your personal standing as a War Wizard... and so on).

High Horn is garrison duty for the Purple Dragons there, yes, but for the War Wizards, no. Repeatedly you say you don't want to portray the War Wizards as a military unit, and yet repeatedly you assign them to functions of a military unit, or expect them to fulfill such functions, or wave citations of published Realmslore to the effect that they are, and do.

For instance: [I can also cite published books that tell of war wizards serving at border outposts and city gates along with a small unit of Purple Dragons. In fact, it's common in published lore that whenever Purple Dragons are spoken of one or more war wizards are often also near.]

Granted. I've explained why.

However, you continue with the military thinking you protest you don't intend to use, by posting: [Published Realmslore thus incontrovertibly supports the idea that SOME war wizards (although certainly not all of them, nor the entire institution as a whole) are given military duties, thus it is reasonable to speak of that portion of war wizards in somewhat more military terms.] No, published Realmslore DOESN'T "incontrovertibly" support such a view, except to someone who chooses to only see things as supporting such a view.

Sorry, Jerry, I'm not trying to be rude here, but you seem bewildered and disbelieving that War Wizards can function at all without a strict rank hierarchy, and I'm increasingly disbelieving that you persist in seeing them only in this way.

I'm left shaking my head, which is why I said at the outset that we'll probably just have to agree to disagree.

You went on to post that you'd never met a real-life leadership type who attempted both paranoid micromanagement and 'buddy buddy' behaviour. Fair enough; I have, and as he posted here, so has Ulrik Wolfsbane. I agree that the two sorts you cite: [The paranoid micromanagers I've met have all been the "I don't care if you like me, I'm not here to be liked. I'm here to be in charge so do what I say" type, and the "buddy buddy" types have all been "you know your job and don't need me to tell you how to do every little thing, so just let me know if you need help" type.] are probably more common than the guy who tries to do both, but the guy who tries to do both is by no means rare. I sure wish he was!

You go on to post: [The point stands, that he can't succeed at both.]


However, you then post: [No one under him except the most gullible or naive are going to be fooled by the "buddy buddy" act of a known paranoid micromanager] and here I must disagree again. Vangey DOES help his War Wizards personally, act as their father confessor, praise them when he sees they need it, buy them drinks or companionship, give them introductions to people they're smitten by, and so on. Unpredictably, and from time to time, not often. So it's not just a "buddy buddy" ACT for him, and they know that.

Does this behaviour leave most War Wizards confused? You bet. Not knowing which way the Old Man will jump next? Indubitably! Thinking him crazy? Certainly. But they DON'T think him so crazy or incompetent as to be dangerous to the realm or themselves enough to force his removal. On the contrary, he's the guy they "know" carries the whole dang realm on his shoulders, who's uncovered traitors' plots and Sembian swindles time and time again, who's faced down nobles, and whisked War Wizards to the rescue of distraught farmers and to search for missing children and to pretend to be Tanalasta's smitten suitors at a revel so she can delay pushy nobles who wanted to be her suitor, and so on (duties that were fun or that they took pride in having accomplished). The War Wizards trust Vangerdahast for the same reason many nobles and courtiers grudgingly do: because he gets results.

You then turned to the matter of Vangerdahast's mind-meddling with Azoun: [Magically dipping into his mind? Even exerting mind control?!? Vangey crosses the line, for me. Using magic to mind-ream prisoners, that I can accept - but using magic to influence or possibly even control his friend and liege?!?! I don't think I like him anymore! I rather liked him as a character despite his quirks (except for how he was such a doofus in Grodd during the trilogy), but between how he 'ranks' his war wizards and now this you've spoiled my appreciation for him! As far as I'm concerned, magically influencing or controlling the mind of a royal person (even if he thinks its for the good of the realm) constitutes High Treason. If Azoun or his father Rhigaerd ever found that out, Vangey's head should have been on a pike so fast he'd only have a moment to know what hit him and just enough time to realze "I went too far".]

I agree with you here, and felt the same way. I've been trying to show the differences in the "three most-onstage crotchety old controlling wizards of the Realms" (in descending order: Elminster, Khelben, and Vangerdahast) for some years (in part because several TSR designers wanted to butcher at least two of three for no better reason than "they're too much alike!"). So they couldn't all stay "gruff old coots who always have something up their sleeves, are always right, and have hearts of gold and loins of 'ahem.'" Steven Schend took over Khelben, I was given the opportunity to deepen Elminster in novels (and told that if I didn't, someone else would be asked to write the Elminster books!), and the development of Vangey got left to the Cormyr saga and short stories if I cared to. I snuck some Vangey development into ELMINSTER IN HELL, the WotC designers sidelined Vangey anyway in the FRCS and put Caladnei (their invention) in his place, and I was given the "tell his end story, okay?" suggestion, which went into ELMINSTER'S DAUGHTER.

This meant that I had to show Realms readers the next layer of depth to Vangerdahast that I'd normally keep just for the DM (and as you said in your earlier post, you want to Reveal All and write that layer). I agreed to do this because the Knights in the 'home' Realms campaign had by this time learned all about Vangey's innermost secrets for themselves (by a process that's another l-o-o-o-n-g tale, for another time).

Hence what you're reading here at Candlekeep.

I agree with you: yes, this is where Vangey 'went over the line.' Yes, it makes him much less of a nice or heroic guy (building into him the first flaw beyond rudeness and perhaps ruthlessness). And yet, he does something heroic, or at least noble, by realizing he went over the line and is no longer fit to run things, and doing the best thing for Cormyr: finding his own successor and ensuring an orderly transition of power. For Cormyr.

Rather than clinging to power to reward himself, or deluding himself that doing so is best for Cormyr.

That's what more than counters what you posted next: [And based on your numbered list of factors Vangey uses in judging his war wizards, I think it's at least debatable whether he "REALLY" serves the realm. If Vangey values loyalty to himself higher than loyalty to Cormyr in his war wizards, that's a clear sign to me that what he "REALLY" serves is himself first and foremost.]

Again, we see things differently. Vangerdahast's life was devoted to serving Cormyr. He wanted the War Wizards to be "my boys" (this includes, of course, "my girls"), his own private force, to be the tool he needed in shaping Cormyr because he couldn't physically be everywhere at once, a lone wizard no matter how powerful could be easily eliminated by enough hired mages (hired by nobles or anyone else who didn't like what he was doing to Cormyr, or accomplishing for Cormyr), and because the War Wizards were already on the scene and he had to make use of them some way, and also make darned sure they could never act in opposition to him or to the Obarskyrs.

So he turned the War Wizards into extensions of his will, as much as possible, to give himself reinforcements in governing Cormyr - - precisely as a counter to the Purple Dragons, any agents hired or developed by traitor nobles, and so on.

You post: [then your ordered list of factors would instantly turn the entire institution of War Wizards from the realm's protector to the realm's greatest enemy as the war wizards would put loyalty to Vangey first (if they all lived up to Vangey's loyalty priorities).]

Correct, IF they all lived up to Vangey's loyalty priorities. However, they won't. THEY don't know about these priorities, remember? What I listed were Vangey's personal mental factors in judging particular War Wizards, and there's NO way he would have let anyone but Laspeera (and later Caladnei) even see a hint of them. The War Wizards DO think they're serving Cormyr the realm first and foremost, and the Obarskyrs second (but that "the Old Man always knows best"). If Vangey told them all "kill every Obarskyr!" the general reaction would be: "Vangey's gone mad at last!" NOT "Sure, boss!"

So no need to gag. All you have to do is try to see the War Wizards differently than you're seeing them. Again, this loyalty to Vangey you're seeing is misplaced: you are still thinking of a strict military rank hierarchy ("gotta obey the general!") rather than a band of wizards ("all for one and one for all!"), each of whom thinks Vangey watches over them personally as they all tackle the necessary tasks of defending Cormyr together.

Can you see what I'm getting at, finally? Or are we going to have to go through all of this again? :}

("Men, this is a stick. I'm going to hit you with it until you understand what it does...")

[THO: Part IV follows]

[THO: Part IV of Ed's reply:]

Your post then went on to deal with my description of one War Wizard outranking another for Task A, and their positions being reversed for Task B, so that they all know hierarchies for particular missions, but the force as a whole has few (beyond alarphons and Vangey/Caladnei and Laspeera) established 'relative ranks,' by posting: [This is ranking a 1 or a 2 on my 1-10 scale, and in my opinion is not believable.]

And here we're at the crux of the matter. I reject your ranking system, and I'm afraid I can't do anything about what you personally find believable (other than try to educate you with more and more details of Realmslore, in hopes that belief comes with enlightenment).

Your ranking system is based on your equating an internal order based on a hierarchy of ranks with efficiency and effectiveness. You keep saying you aren't trying to make the War Wizards a military unit, and yet you keep judging or treating them as if they are. You post: [I am convinced that organization is the time-immemorial and eternal method for people to get things done efficiently and effectively, and that while the degree of organization needed depends on the size of the institution and the number/complexity of tasks it's given the necessity of organization in principle is constant for all times.]

It might astonish you to learn that I don't disagree with the above sentence.

What I do disagree with is your unilateral decision that a hierarchy of stable-through-all-situations ranks is the only means by which any group can be effectively organized.

Let me shift analogies here to a modern sports team. As a Canadian, I'm going to choose hockey, one of our two national sports (the other, lacrosse, fits equally well here): a contest between two teams whose coaches, on the professional level, are constantly "juggling lines." That is, shifting which players are on the ice playing together into different combinations (so that Hank may play left wing on one shift, but be told to play center for the next one), AND trying to match those different combinations against specific players or combinations of players on the opposing team. NFL football and major league baseball coaches do the same thing when it comes to trying to arrange matchups against specific opposing players, but in those sports, with the skill specializations that have come to dominate the modern versions of the games ('special teams' in football), it's rarer to shift your own players from position to position (task to task) during a particular game - - though it DOES happen.

Vangerdahast is like a hockey coach, juggling his players (the War Wizards) continuously to deal with (what he sees as) the foes of Cormyr.

And if you dismiss every last hockey team as therefore necessarily "unorganized" or "chaotic" or "doomed to be ineffective," I think I'll SCREAM. :}

Just to adopt your 1-10 scale of organization for a moment, I'd rate the War Wizards as usually hovering around a 7. After all, they are among the most versatile and well-rounded people in all Faerūn, and CERTAINLY the most well-rounded group of wizards on Toril.

When (rarely, I'll admit) their communications are really "clicking," they go up to probably around 8.5. YOU may see them as down around 2, but I sure don't - - but again, I'm not measuring them against a military chain of command, or expecting them to have one.

You then posted what I see as a deliberate misunderstanding of my refutation of your insistence that a strict hierarchy must have a chain of command by dismissing my historical examples as not germane to my fictional creations. Frankly, I'd be surprised if they were. :}

You then posted: [The "network of resistance cell" organization I can deal with as a lower level of organization, just as I can deal with the police model at the lower level. The "situational and freely variable" relative authority still gives me problems. What happens if the leader of a cell gets KIA'ed? Who takes over, when there's no time to have a debate in the middle of spells flying and enemies lurking.]

At the resistance cell level, Jerry, the answer is: whoever asserts themselves under fire. They were generally only five to seven guys, who'd agreed what they'd do if this or that went wrong before they crept out to try something - - and if you served in a military where that few personnel were either shocked into immobility or plunged into a furious argument over who commands the moment their sergeant or platoon commander went down, that WOULD be a military with utter lack of training or esprit de corps. Remember, it's rare to find to a 'task group' of War Wizards of much larger size than that five to seven number.

If you're worried about what happens if Vangey goes down: well, Laspeera steps in, designating her replacement as she's doing so (and so on). It doesn't really matter, in an emergency, because any senior war wizard who bursts in bringing "orders from Vangey" is going to be believed unless everyone present knows Vangey is dead. Yes, this has great potential for treachery and abuse, but that's why Vangey did all the mind-snooping.

If you're thinking, "Ah, but the abusers would be impostors from outside, perhaps Zhents or War Wizards or Dragon Cult wizards or mages hired by Sembians!" then you're following the same fallacy that led you to post: [If this is how the War Wizards truly operate, they should have been gutted piecemeal after 64 years.]

By WHOM? Again, you seem to be thinking of them as waging war either against invaders, or against neighbours of Cormyr (in other words, fulfilling an, ahem, military role). The War Wizards police Cormyr, and most of the foes they work against are ambitious nobles, slavers, would-be crime bosses in Suzail, Marsember, and Arabel, and the like - - and these "piecemeal gutters" have no idea of this potential flaw in the War Wizard command structure.

Again, I ask you: just who do you see as a force whose efforts could cause the kept-as-mysterious-as-Vangey-can-make-them War Wizards (who have the benefit of their own extensive intelligence-gathering, one of their primary tasks, AND magical means of internal communication) to collapse? Or be "gutted piecemeal"?

I'm really curious. Yes, the Red Wizards or the Zhents MIGHT be able to accomplish this feat, if THEY ever all worked together properly - - but we haven't shown you the slightest hint in published Realmslore that they've tried.

The FBI and CIA are often portrayed as idiots, especially in fiction, but they haven't fallen apart yet. Neither has the KGB. Internal turf battles happen all the time in all three of these organizations, yet they still exist.

So just who's supposed to make the War Wizards fall apart, or "gut" them? Exasperated Cormyrean farmers? The nearest huffing-through-his-moustache, goblet-in-hand noble?

You then post: [It plainly and simply isn't possible for one man's micromanaging & meddling whim to hold together an organization of 600 people in a feared, effective, and efficient force at accomplishing a variety of tasks for almost 64 years before beginning to unravel and to posit otherwise shatters all believability for me. And magic doesn't change this in the slightest, in my opinion.]

I guess you've never heard of Tito, then, or Mao, or Queen Victoria, or Elizabeth I, or Henry Ford for that matter. I suppose you can "disbelieve" in those folks, but that won't make their names or accomplishments vanish from the history books. Funny, I still see Fords on the streets today.

You then posted some perfectly valid comments about wanting specificity in your D&D play and in lore available to DMs, and went on to post: [you did make that gentlemens' agreement to withhold any systematic or reasonably complete presentation of the War Wizards - which frankly I don't see the necessity for].

Okay, I'll be blunt. It was seen as the best way by the TSR designers and their immediate bosses at the time to avoid introducing contradictions AND hampering creativity. In other words, they wanted the freedom for Designer X or Novel Writer Y to invent this or that little detail to best suit their needs for the project at hand, so that a synthesis would develop over time, rather than 'everybody running to Ed.' I KNOW this was partly due to their experience with Gary Gygax becoming the bottleneck for Greyhawk development because he was so busy trying to run the company as well as write Greyhawk products, and I suspect (from things I've heard said, down the years) it might also have been partly due to TSR not wanting me to have the sort of influence Margaret & Tracy did over Dragonlance, for whatever reasons. I can't confirm that second bit at all, and frankly am not interested in trying to, because it's all water under the bridge now. However, you said you didn't see the necessity, so behold the explanation.

I appreciate that you can't possibly read my mind and fill in all the gaps in published lore exactly as I would, and so come up with War Wizards that precisely match my original (or modified, down the years) conception of them.

I admire your diligence in trying to find every last published detail and extrapolate fairly. And I accept that you have to personally be happy with your results, and that you'll see things differently from the way I do.

I'm trying to explain exactly how I see the War Wizards, and make certain there are NO misunderstandings between us arising out of using the same or similar words but meaning different things by them, and so on. I'm trying to show you WHY I see the War Wizards the way I do.

I'm not Vangerdahast (thank the gods!), so I can't meddle in your mind and MAKE you agree with me. I do, however, want you to be very clear on what I mean by certain words and phrases, and where I'm coming from.

You then posted this: [As a more general question beyond the War Wizards, do you design the Realms as a whole to specifically provide opportunities for such farce and comedy? If so, might that have (however inadvertantly) influenced your own design of the War Wizards and their seeming lack of organization?]

No, and no. Absolutely not. The farce and comedy arises from our deep friendships, our shared experiences (so that we can, for example, respond to a situation arising in play with a silly but appropriate Monty Python, Goon Show, Sellers solo, Hoffnung, Cook & Moore, Fry & Lawrie, Dave Allen, Billy Connolly, or Flanders & Swann comment that everyone around the room will instantly understand and react to), and from CHARACTER-based challenges. For instance, I'll give Torm a chance to verbally lambaste a pompous Sembian envoy, or get caught in bed with a lovely daughter by her parents returning home - - situations where the player can choose to have fun IF they (and the other players) want to.

The humour always arises out of human nature (check THO's revelations of Realmsplay events, early in last year's Questions to Eddie thread).

This aspect of my home campaign play never influences the design of places, governments, power groups, adversaries, trade routes, and all the rest. I do want gamers to have "bright spots" in the Realms to make it more attractive than their real-life experiences, and Cormyr ("the good King Arthur kingdom!" as one early Marketing VP of TSR called it) is one such "bright spot." Laughter is great around the gaming table, but it must arise from situations; because humour is such a personal thing, it's a mistake to put into game source material, and is tricky even in novels. (Some people love it and roll in a good humour scene like a dog rolling in something nasty, and others hate the exact same scene and fling the book down and tell the publisher and all their friends how terrible and tasteless it was. Always!)

The "Keystone Kops" nature of the early published Zhentarim was due to the TSR Code of Ethics, which was being VERY strictly applied to the Realms because Dragonlance (what with Raistlin and Takhisis and Kitiara and the draconians) was seen by some in the company as having 'broken' the Code and gotten far too 'evil-is-successful-and-attractive' - - and "We're NOT going to let that happen in the Realms!"

So, no, it's NOT [some small part of difference in our visions]. This isn't a clown face, this is the way I look all the time. :}

I could go on, but this post is long enough already. I'm not angry with you or disparaging of your intent to do a War Wizard document or the work you've put into the Realms thus far, Jerry. I just want things to be very clear between us, and I look forward to your reactions and comments to what I've posted here. I HOPE you're closer to seeing "my" version of the War Wizards by the time you've read down this far (note that I said seeing, not necessarily accepting).

Over to you, sir!

So saith Ed.

As he said, this screed is long enough already, so I'll spare everyone any clever comments. THIS time.



January 25, 2005: Hello, all. Ed answers Elf_Friend:

Regarding dead gods: mortals of Faerūn don't know the true "current body count," or where the residue of the divine essence of a dead god lies.

In part, this is because it's very hard for a god to truly die unless very carefully destroyed by another god: otherwise, if some mortal of Faerūn still worships them or discovers them and starts worshipping them, later (even centuries later), they 'rise' again, albeit as almost powerless ghostly awarenesses (at their weakest).

The arguments among churches (about what god did what to which other god) confuse the average inhabitant of the Realms (who to believe?), but I'd say that among humans, most are aware that Bhaal, Iyachtu Xvim, Leira, and Myrkul are 'dead.' Only sages and some priests and wizards have even heard of, say, Karsus, and most folk accept that there are countless 'godlings' worshipped by various 'cultists' here and there across the Realms (from Savras and other half-remembered names to the beast-cults to "those dangerous folk who worship the skeletons of DRAGONS if ye can believe it, aye?").

So some of them are dead and gone 'forever' (although one can then debate just how long 'forever' is, of course :}), but most are, as you say, "just dead, ready to be revived thru some epic act or worship."

So saith Ed, Creator and Supreme Loremaster of the Realms.

Also Champion Belcher of Colborne, I trow.

love to all,


January 26, 2005: Hello, scribes. Ed makes reply to simontrinity's earlier query about the hostility of the drow priestesses seen in Ed's novel SILVERFALL (BTW, simontrinity, he has your request about Syluné, and expressed delight in it; expect an answer in a week or less):

The drow seen worshipping in Ardeep, in SILVERFALL, also dwell in Ardeep (and other places; at the time of that book, they have only recentled settled in the forest). They are so "seemingly hostile" towards humans because human woodcutters, charcoal-burners and hunters despoil Ardeep daily, making it so swiftly smaller that the drow feel threatened. Also, hunters (and almost all other humans) who encounter these she-drow tend to attack the drow on sight (to slay outright, or to render unconscious and rape and then either slay or carry off as captives, to be sold to slavers, wealthy collectors or researchers of "monsters," or mages desiring drow blood or the like).

So their behaviour wasn't all that out of place, really - - particularly as when we first met them in SILVERFALL, they were angry because they viewed the lone intruding human female as interrupting and profaning a holy rite to the goddess. Think of them as the equivalent of a married human woman of middle years and dignity who's warmly friendly (not amorous) to a male neighbour - - but would be outraged if he entered her house uninvited and walked in on her in the shower.

So saith Ed.

I've been walked into while in my bath (I rarely shower), and quite enjoyed it: it was the guy who was embarrassed, and who got rather angry after I pulled him into the bath on top of me and he got his business suit all wet, but... that's one of those "tales for another time."

love to all,


January 27, 2005: Hello, all. Ed makes reply to kuje31 in the matter of Limbo:

kuje, Toril exists within its own physical universe (as covered in Realmspace), its own cosmology (presented in the Players Guide to Faerūn), and has also had thousands of links (some of them permanent, and known as "gates") with several parallel Prime Material Planes (hence the very name "Forgotten Realms," which is Toril seen from the viewpoint of a real-world Earth observer).

Real-world Earth (where I live, and Elminster finds me to pass on his tales of this wondrous world we all buy divers products about) is but one of these dozens of Prime Material Planes that Toril is, or has been (and in some cases, will be again, as gates re-open in predetermined cycles or conditions, or are re-opened by the deliberate acts of various beings) directly linked to. (Lest anyone think I'm just concocting this now as a retcon, consider the date on which issue 37 of The Dragon, as it was then, was published.)

The elf realm of Faerie is one such Prime Material Plane, though it's very different from, say, our real-world Earth (and yes, I'll very soon answer Melfius as to how and where Faerie and Toril connect).

Most of these Prime Material Planes (from which various of the "creator races" hail) are similar to Toril in that they are vaguely-medieval-level carbon-based and copious-water environments very like Toril, and one can breathe the air and drink the water if one is a resident of one plane, and steps (via gate/portal or spell) from one to the other. Most of them exist both within their own crystal spheres (Spelljammer again, although in the majority of cases the inhabitants of these alternate Prime Material Planes are entirely unaware of the existence of crystal spheres, spelljammers, phlogiston, et al) and in the cosmology described in the 'core' D&D rules, where Limbo very much exists.

So as SERPENT KINGDOMS states, some learned thinkers of Toril believe the batrachi fled to Limbo, where they became known as slaadi.

(I know they exist in Limbo, because circa issue 90 or so of DRAGON, a Canadian freelance designer by the name of Stephen Inniss [creator of the lillend "monster"] and I stopped work on a by-then-300-odd-pages manuscript detailing Limbo, when TSR's Creative Director told us they wouldn't be publishing any more planar products. As we all know, TSR later changed its mind.)

Not only are the cosmologies connected via the various gates linking the Prime Material Planes, they're also linked (Elminster tells me, though word of this may well not have reached those wizards who dwell on a certain coast) through their World Trees and River of Blood/River Styx (which are actually the same thing, exhibiting different properties in different places and cosmologies. I note both "places" and cosmologies because the Styx differs from place to place just within the Outer Planes of the "main D&D" or "Greyhawk" cosmology, bearing alternative names such as the River Lethe.)

Obviously, the slaadi colonized the Supreme Throne from Limbo (where, after all, the githzerai are an everpresent force that opposes them). Cyric is only very recently ascended to godhood (from a cosmic viewpoint), so it's obvious that the Supreme Throne described in the PLAYER'S GUIDE TO FAERUN is greatly changed from the features a visitor would have found on that plane not very long ago - - when the slaadi probably dominated, hunting other creatures at will.

However, let me state again (for the benefit of all Seekers After Truths with whom you'll undoubtedly be sharing this) that as with matters divine, matters cosmological are rife with speculation and things most mortals can never know or be sure about. What is "fact" when even a careful observer can't necessarily perceive things as they are, or know he or she is interpreting what they see correctly? (I recall a humorous animated film, popular in schools in my youth, wherein aliens believe that cars are the rulers of Earth, and humans are merely parasites who occasionally issue forth from them or enter them.) So there you have it: clear as mud in utter darkness when one is submerged in it and blindfolded. :}

So saith Ed.

Who in that last sentence has described the art of trying to understand, say, the D&D magic system (or life in general) as well as anyone ever has.

love to all,


January 29, 2005: Hello, fellow scribes. Hereafter, Ed of the Greenwood replies to ShayneT about wealth:

Good questions, all. I'm going to rearrange them for ease of answering.

1. Kings might have more money, but for a private individual, how much wealth makes him considered a financial power in the Realms?

A: It depends on where the individual's located and who's doing the considering. Note that there's a difference between BEING a financial power (which means you can affect things you want to affect by using your wealth or assets, or threatening to use them - - and that other individuals may conduct their own behaviour BEARING IN MIND your presence or possible reactions to what they do: in other words, that THEY consider you a financial power) and being CONSIDERED a financial power. With that out of the way, it's obvious that in Waterdeep, Amn, and Sembia, you'll need to have a lot more wealth to be considered "a player" than in Cormyr (where nobility counts for something) or, say, Triboar or a tiny rural hamlet. In Calimshan, someone who's a satrap of any rank will be judged by his peers as to wealth far differently than, say, a rural shepherd (or a slave) is judged. These variances are so wide, from region to region and country to country and social class to social class in the Realms, that I really can't provide a set financial figure in answer to your question, that can be used as a "rule" by DMs. Really.

2. Just how much money does the average noble have control of anyway? I realize that most businessmen have most of their assets invested in property and businesses rather than easily carried wealth.

A: Your second sentence is correct. Remember that not all nobles are businessmen, although much of your second sentence holds true for them, too. The best way to hang on to wealth is to buy tangible assets (land, buildings, businesses) with it, rather than to just sit on it and wait to be robbed or to die, or to spend it all on whims. Many wealthy individuals in the Realms buy titles (nobility), offices such as Lord of the Ports or War Marshal of the Uplands (with their own salaries and powers), or partners (marrying into additional wealth and/or noble status).

However, I can only really answer your question by saying: it depends on what you consider an "average noble." A younger son (not the heir) or older uncles (again, not the heirs) in glittering Waterdeep? Old-money upland farming nobles in Cormyr? A dispossessed, on-the-run former noble of Tethyr? Again, things vary widely, not just from place to place but in what "control" means. In some places, there are laws governing spending (and loans). In some families, Aunt Jaratha might be very wealthy but not given a copper of her own to spend "because she wastes it all on strong drink, and then disgraces herself and us," whereas Cousin Larkel is trusted with thousands from the family vaults "because he always invests it well, and brings back thrice what he borrows, or more!" In some families, the"head of the house" can control every last copper, disinheriting whomever he or she wants to, and in others, law and custom and family pressure restrict his or her power almost completely.

Moreover, some nobles are misers, or for reasons of prudence don't carry a single coin. Others toss handfuls of coins into crowds to impress folk. So control varies in that way, too. Again, giving a strict figure is almost impossible unless you narrow the scope to a particular time and place.

3. Is a thousand thousand coins considered a huge sum?

A: As I stated in my previous answers, it depends on who's doing the considering, and where. However, to the vast majority of folk in Faerūn ("working people" if you like, of all walks of life), a simple glance at the suggested salaries and pay scales given in various rulebooks and Realms source material over the years will tell you that, yes, "a thousand thousand coins" is a huge sum, if they're gold coins. If they're coppers, it's still a tidy sum.

4. One of the d20 modern books suggests that gold pieces are worth approximately $20. It occurs to me that the wealthiest businessman in Faerun might then be worth around 50 million gold. This would put him in the same league as a Rockefeller. I doubt it would be easy to own amounts much larger than that due to transportation and communications difficulties. Administrative costs of a business empire alone would eat up profits, along with the monsters, bandits, thieves and unscrupulous competing businesses who are out to steal your latest caravan load of silks.

Does that sound reasonable?

A: The d20 source you cite is describing the purchasing power of a gold coin rather than saying anything at all about how people LIVING IN THE SETTING judge what a gold piece is worth (the old "the Canadian dollar is worth so much, but the American dollar is worth this different amount" conversion, which only matters to tourists and other travellers, banks, and businesses importing and exporting: to a Canadian living in Canada, a dollar's a dollar, and to an American living in the United States, a dollar is, yup, a dollar). You're also not considering inflation, the effects of goods or money supply shortages (after the stock market crash in 1929, money lost great amounts of value, and there are tales of a hungry man buying an apple for fifty dollars, and the like).

However, with these oversimplifications granted (and the details of the business empire "administrative costs" and "transportation and communications difficulties" you mention similarly swept aside for a moment, I agree that there are practical limits to CONTROL of wealth in the Realms, if not to formal ownership of things. (For instance, if I as a successful merchant in Dock Ward in Waterdeep, rising from nothing and having no social reputation or standing, become wealthy enough to purchase a fleet of seven caravels that sail the Sword Coast making me wealthier, I can't control in detail what any of those ships do if I'm not on them, and in fact could have lost them all to pirates or shipwrecks and not even know it - - but my "financial power" will depend on my pocket spending money and if the people I have business dealings with know I own a fleet of seven ships, but don't know that I've lost them all.)

That's what people in the real world are getting at when they say things like: "If you can count what you're worth, you're not really rich." There's a difference between actual wealth and power, and a change in attitude that occurs when you become wealthy enough that you no longer have to worry about where your next meal is going to come from, or how to pay your bills and keep what you want to keep (like your feedom, as opposed to going to jail because of debts or illicit acts you may have engaged in to pay your bills or get more money).

Communications in the Realms is lousier than in the real world, EXCEPT for people who can afford wizards or priests to make it even better than in our real world, for them. Again, there are too many variables to draw an "upper limits" line at the equivalent of 50 million or anywhere else, but your general point about practical limits to wealth is a good one. The truly wealthy Faerūnian can buy anything he or she wants to, on a whim, and can use his or her wealth to force others to do or stop doing things.

5. How much wealth does someone have to have to impress the average Waterdhavian?

A: At last we get to specifics, and even then, I'm going to have to weasel: it depends on just who your "average Waterdhavian" is.

After all, Waterdeep contains near-slaves (Dock Ward street urchins and the 'prentices of cruel masters and lowly servants of the most ill-behaved nobles), a lot of 'short-coin' laborers (non-guild workers paid by the day or by the task), 'guilded' workers, independent shopkeepers who don't happen to be guilded, rising or successful merchants (who no longer have to work daily in their own shops, but have hired a staff, and who also usually own more than one property, and are becoming landlords and/or part-owners of other businesses than their own original one, sometimes little shops started by their sons and daughters), established merchants (born into a successful business or now a landlord or multi-business owner who's become confident and settled, rather than still desperate), then the wannabe-nobles I referred to in last year's thread, who spend coins like water and want to be socially important, and then the nobles (who can be divided into old money and new money, if you really want to split hairs).

Then we come to another matter: how does the Waterdhavian learn about the wealth, in order to be impressed?

Most Waterdhavians don't want to reveal the full details of their wealth, assets, debts, and prospects to ANYONE, and don't, often going to elaborate troubles to conceal things from the tax authorities, business partners and fellow guild members, and even close kin (using "factors" [trade agents] and go-betweens in negotiations, setting up 'dummy' companies, and so on). Folk in Waterdeep love to discuss trade PROSPECTS, and "who will probably do what, just you watch," such conversations taking the place of the weather for casual daily discourse whenever folk encounter each other (other usual topics are: "What's hot?" [again, new products, processes, fads and fashions or "who's buying what?"] and "What's the news?" [business feuds and announcements and the usual city gossip about murders, trysts, weddings, breakups, robberies, scandals, fights and insults, and so on]). Waterdhavians want to tell you all about their latest business venture (particularly if they want you to invest in it), but they usually want to limit what they say to just that, and gloss over what else they own, are doing, or how their other business concerns are performing.

Waterdhavians are always 'looking for a deal,' and love getting not just a low price but bargaining shrewdly; someone who pays high prices for things without question is either a fool (usually in love), an outlander (ignorant of what the proper 'street price' should be), or a noble or wannabe-noble with money to burn, who wants everyone to know how much coin they can afford to waste. Only the latter two categories, nobles or wannabe-nobles, impress the average Waterdhavian (in this case, meaning anyone who isn't themselves a noble or wannabe-noble), and observers put the big spender into those by judging manner, speech, dress, and company kept, not just the amount of coins spent. If so judged, you impress, without anyone knowing exactly how much your complete holdings are (which allows 'con men' to operate).

Also, Waterdhavians aren't impressed by someone with large amounts of coin but no assets (property, ships or shares in ships, or goods owned) or investments: they regard such people suspiciously, as either thieves, agents of foreign interests up to no good, or fools. So impressing a Waterdhavian always involves more than just a sum of money.

But let's assume that you somehow manage to overcome the almost paranoid secrecy most Waterdhavians have over guarding the full extent of their business affairs, and let's look at possible (generalizations, of course, and so VERY rough, to be used as a basis for individual people, not a 'hard' rule) minimum 'impress me' amounts for each of the categories of Waterdhavians I gave earlier:

1. Near-slaves: Anyone who owns their own home and has enough money to spend on fripperies (useless luxury goods such as flowers, chocolates, and pretty statuettes) on a whim (in other words, not just when in love or trying to close a business deal, and in any event more than once a year or so).
2. Short-coin laborers: Anyone in a position to employ others (in multiples); in other words, any business owner.
3. Guilded workers: Anyone who owns their own business and employs others PLUS owns something else (other business interests, rental properties, or personal residence), or is a guildmaster or higher in social rank, or orders "one of everything" or "I said blue, and I want blue, but if you say it looks much better in red, make me one in red, too, and I'll take them both" when dealing with the guild business the worker in questions belongs to.
4. Independent shopkeepers: Anyone who owns their own business but no longer needs to work daily (can afford a staff), AND owns own home plus has other business or social interests (in other words, has money to spare to invest elsewhere or spend on a sport or pastime or entertaining).
5. Rising/successful merchants: Anyone who owns multiple businesses, has a large personal home and properties elsewhere (e.g. "a place in Amn" or a 'winter refuge' down south to go to in the coldest months), and still has money to spend freely on investments or fripperies or social matters (e.g. hosting revels, regularly hiring bodyguards or escorts for pleasure, sponsoring entertainers such as minstrels, poets, and actors)
6. Established merchants: Anyone who owns multiple businesses and by wits, reputation, and money can manipulate guilds and other merchants (particularly against their will) into doing things, or force them out of business (i.e. kingpins who can "crush people" in trade).
7. Wannabe-nobles: Any noble (of Waterdeep), any old money noble (from anywhere else).
8. New Money Nobles: Any old-money noble sufficiently secure as to NOT sneer at new-money nobles.
9: Old Money Nobles: Demigodhood, rulership, anyone able to casually manipulate who's on a throne or the affairs of countries or city-states at will.

Now, if we're really talking "how large a pile of money sitting ownerless in an old chest will awe [not just excite] your average Waterdhavian?" the minimum answer for the above categories is as follows:

1. 1,000 gp
2. 5,000 gp
3. 15,000 gp
4. 40,000 gp
5. 250,000 gp
6. 1 million gp
7. a clear grant of arms of nobility that the wannabe-noble can see a way to personally use, or 4 million gp (see "gems" in the next entry)
8. a chest full of deeds giving clear property title to most of a large, wealthy city (one in Amn, Tethyr, or Sembia, for example) or 2 million gp (this would of course have to be in the form of gems; they don't make "old chests" large enough to hold such amounts in coinage)
9. no amount: no chest could hold enough of anything to awe an old money noble.

I know Eric Boyd and Rich Baker, in particular, will be interested in reading the above answer for question 5. I hope it also proves useful to others.

So saith Ed, the Walking Treasure Chest of Realmslore.

love to all,


January 29, 2005: Hello, all. Housekeeping time! Herewith, some very brief answers to divers scribes:

To Octa, Ed saith: kuje31 has directed you to my earlier Realmslore reply about the Moonshaes. As for the age of Toril and the Illuskan origins and migrations: mortals in the Realms today just can't be sure. LOST EMPIRES OF FAERUN should furnish you with something on these topics very soon now, but as with the gods: some things ARE largely lost in the mists of time.

To kuje31: "Can Ed supply some wedding rituals for Sharess and Lliira?" I, THO, as someone whose character has attended a wedding performed by priestesses of Sharess must make reply: not in a FAMILY forum. Ahem. Seriously, I passed this on to Ed and he e-chuckled and said he'd add it to the 'tackle WotC about the priesthoods lore' list, and get back to you when he had something meaningful to say on the subject.

To Faraer: you're correct in your comment about Flamsterd. In FA1 Ed was directed to "update the Moonshaes to 2nd Edition" (incorporating what Doug Niles had done) and Ed suggested he make it more a campaign base than wholly devote the pages to an adventure, a suggestion that was accepted, so although all of Ed's writing in FA1 is original, it wasn't his original conception of the Moonshaes but crafted at the time of writing FA1.

Regarding your second question ("Ed, are spell levels and spell-casting character levels in-Realms facts, or are they abstractions of a non-stepped magical reality?"), Ed saith:

Faraer, to me they're abstractions, but when writing I find I must often treat them as in-Realms elements just to 'get along' with others who do. However, I will never write Realms fiction that has someone referring to a spell level or a character level; if you ever read such with my byline on it, rest assured some editor has been at work! For one thing, it makes for terrible roleplaying, in the same way that players at GenCon tournaments playing 1st Edition D&D would try to figure out the level of NPC wizard foes by checking how many magic missile bolts their magic missile spells hurled, how many dice of damage their lightning bolts or fireballs did, and so on: shatters suspension-of-disbelief shared 'realism' completely.

I recall as a DM running a TSR event under fairly strict guidelines at a long-ago GenCon (i.e. I was supposed to stick to game rules and a company 'style' of the time) sitting listening to a party of players "quarterback huddle" and discuss for five minutes a co-ordinated PC attack for the next round, but then howl at my "unfairness" when I as DM conflabbed with other TSR employees as to how the orc warband they'd been trying to ambush would attack them during that same round. "The monsters can't do that! I mean, we're attacking them - - they don't have time to stop and plan tactics!" / "Ah, but YOU all did." / "That's different: we're the heroes! Don't you get it? And we're higher level, too, expert with our weapons: we can do things that brutish monsters can't!" / "Oh, so the orc ISN'T an expert with the tusks and fists he was born with?"... and so on. :}

Hoondatha, Garen Thal has ably answered your War Wizards question. As he said, before Vangey firmly took control over them (yes, in some cases destroying mages with his spells, and in others defeating them soundly in magical duels), the War Wizards had devolved into small independent gangs of mages, some of them quite haughty and/or corrupt, 'doing their own thing' ostensibly for the good of the Realm, but often for quite self-serving reasons.

Imagine if every guy who could find a gun, in a modern real-world country where the government has broken down, could also get a police uniform and stride around claiming to be a policeman and having the authority of the state to do exactly as he pleased. Some of them would get killed pretty quickly, and most of them would both make a lot of enemies AND become corrupt pretty quickly, too. Those were the War Wizards of the day, and some few elders of them are still serving the realm today. THAT was the vigilante background they were coming from - - and that Vangey had personally wrenched them out of - - which coloured my postings to Jerryd (who of course didn't have this full picture of the War Wizards, and was trying to get it).

So saith Ed.

Who is as horribly busy as usual crafting Realmslore, Realmslore, and more Realmslore for you all!



January 29, 2005: Sage, I couldn't agree more.

And no, I'm not winking or grinning when I type that: just as you say, a straightforward examination of nightlife across the Realms. Okay, the Heartlands so it'll fit in one book.

Now, as for your last sentence about nobles in Waterdeep: don't worry, Ed and Elaine will be giving you some lovingly-described examples of that in the forthcoming novel. That doesn't, however, do away with the pressing need for a game book that gives us:

The customs of drinking and courtship and hiring companionship, some prices for same, party games, gambling games (with full rules for all games, of course), attire and adornment and the signals they send, hand-gestures and drawn code sigils used in flirtation and in telling tourists where certain entertainments can be had, illicit and legit 'side-business' done by festhalls, some NPC contacts, a sampling of dances and bawdy ballads and 'typical' stage shows or one-on-one public performances (the equivalent of lap dances and stripteases and 'personal' comedy routines, but done for the wider audience; I'm not just talking sex acts here), the attitudes of various churches to participation in, or sanctioning or even sponsorship of, such activities... yes, I could seriously see a darned useful 200-page-plus "old format" Volo tome here, or even a standard 'slim' hardcover (format of the forthcoming Waterdeep game tome, perhaps?).

Ed is a master of hinting and sly allusion, so he could keep it useful AND adhere to any standards of decency WotC demanded.

I'd buy it, and I think a LOT of gamers would, too. Why don't you suggest it to WotC Customer Service? Whenever Ed suggests anything, it gets the "oh, sure, well of COURSE you want us to do something like that, because you just want to write it; thanks for the suggestion, but don't call us, we'll call you" treatment.

So, Sage, I implore you... I'm sitting here at this festhall table watching the urchins sweep up the empty hall, and feeling so LONELY.



January 30, 2005: Hello, all.

Lauzoril, Ed says thanks and please keep him posted. One of these days, if he ever has the time and WotC says yes (insert double bursts of maniacally disbelieving laughter here), he'd love to expand that book into four full-length novels (one dealing with El's time in each character class). Myself, I'd rather see him spend the time crafting new works (particularly if the four books would end up getting edited in the same disastrous manner as the Spellfire rewrite did).

oldskool, there's VERY little information about the "Blank Continents" of Toril. Ed's never drawn any of them; what saw "print" in the Interactive Atlas was someone else's conception, and Ed and we Knights are unanimous in thinking it resembles our real world FAR too closely. Anchorome should be an archipelago of tiny islands leading to a small C-shaped continent ('open end' facing Toril). Originally, before the 1986 negotiations with TSR, one of the players, Victor Selby, was going to detail one continent himself, but never got around to it.

I can tell you this much: Ed never wanted a Mayan-Aztec-'New World' continent or flavour anywhere in the Realms, viewing it (I believe correctly) as a huge stylistic as well as commerical mistake even before he saw the published result, just as he never wanted the Hordelands to so closely resemble real-world Mongols, or see "the Dalai Lama" inserted into the Realms, and so on.I can also say Ed envisaged prosperous trading realms and city-states with their own stable, developed cultures.

Ed doesn't want to give you any direct answer himself because he doesn't want to influence potential WotC plans in any way. I emphasize the word "potential" here, because as far as Ed knows, right now, there aren't any plans "in the works to expand on these blank places (or perhaps even just revisit in third edition the lands of Maztica, Kara-Tur, or Zakhara)."

There. Another query dealt with. Think I'll go find a Knight and engage in a little hand-to-hand combat (or should that be hand-to-gland?). A girl gets to feeling lonely every few hours or so...

love to all,


January 30, 2005: Hello, all!

I being unexpectedly swift responses from Ed of the Greenwood, to Gerath Hoan and kuje31, to whit:

Gerath Hoan, congratulations! You have stumbled onto one of the Great Untold Tales of the Realms, and are herewith made a Knight of the Order of the Keen Eye!

Your observations about dates are entirely correct. Elminster had NOT been hanging in that trap for a century, but only for about thirty years. However, at the time of his 'awakening' (when he's freed from the trap), he THINKS he's been there for a century, because he's temporarily but entirely forgotten everything that has happened recently, and confused the trap he was caught in with an earlier Netherese tomb exploration that WAS about a century earlier.

I don't want to spoil your read, and don't know how far along you are by now, but I'll say this much: Elminster's mind is still 'mazed' by the trap-magic, and that has something to do with the silence of Mystra: he's still 'invisible' to her and to the Weave. So in the scenes you're reading El's forgotten all about the founding of the Harpers. His state of mind changes rapidly as the book goes on, okay?

In other words, he remembers fast, particularly after page 27 (original WotC hardcover: it's page 33 in the paperback, and I don't know what page it is in the Science Fiction Book Club hardcover, though it most probably mirrors the original WotC hardcover pagination).

Diligent readers of my Realms fiction will notice that Elminster, Khelben, and all of the other "non-blood-of-Mystra" Chosen (in other words, all of them except the Seven Sisters) suffer much mental damage and deterioration in Mystra' service, over the passing years, especially right after incidents in which they 'lose' (bleed) silver fire. It's no accident that TSR designers have always referred to Elminster as an "unreliable narrator."

All of this should have been made more clear, but disappeared in the editing (the editors weren't being nasty; I wrote too long a book).

kuje, the Lovely Lady Hooded conveyed your distress to me, and in fact begged on bended knee (electronically rather than in person, but she DID make promises for when we're next flesh-to-flesh, so to speak :}) that I give you at least something to go on in the way of wedding rituals for Sharess and Lliira (no, you don't owe her; she loves doing that sort of thing, and the rest of us all love it when she does). So here we go, in VERY rough and skeletal form, from my private notes:

Sharess, as you might expect, doesn't mind WHO gets married (in other words, beings of the same gender, beings of different races, beings already married to others, beings very closely blood-related to each other - - all sorts of unions are okay, as well as the more traditional 'male and female of the same race' pairings). All that Sharess insists is that love and passion (demonstrated physically, through lovemaking) exist within the union, and that both partners of the union be 'unjealous' enough that both partners in the union will be free to flirt (includes at least kissing and caressing) with other beings not part of the union.

The actual ritual is as follows:

Only two beings can be wed at a time (although both can engage in later rituals, immediately after a wedding is concluded, if they desire to end up in a marriage bond of more than two individuals).

Clergy of Sharess prepare each partner, in private, for the ceremony, bathing them, anointing them with oils, applying cosmetics to them, and even (if they desire and pay for such) augmenting their natural appearance with minor illusions. As the being about to be wed is being prepared, skilled clergy talk to them of their love for the being they are about to marry, encouraging them to describe the charms and graces of their partner-to-be, and bring them to a state of excitement.

The beings about to be wed are clad only in open mesh cloaks (scraps of fishing nets are often used), and led out of doors (regardless of the weather, climate, or terrain, the wedding itself must be performed outdoors, usually in a temple garden) in some place where a feast can be held and the two partners can be led towards each other in a procession.

Each partner-to-be (who are called "the Offered" by the clergy of Sharess) cradles a trained temple cat in their arms, and they walk with clergy of Sharess (almost always priestesses) who sing and chant soft, low-voiced songs to the goddess.

At the 'right' time, while still out of sight of each other, the priestesses simultaneously command the partner they're with to kiss the cat passionately, and then let go of it.

The cats usually kiss and lick the partner, and may or may not scratch them (this is to be borne stoically if they do), and then 'climbs down' the net-like garment, and runs off through the garden in search of the other partner-to-be. The trained cats typically run straight to where the other partner-to-be is, climb up their net-like garment, and deliver the kiss from their fellow Offered (again, licks and scratches must be accepted along with it). [There have been cases where cats have been prevented from completing this ritual, or even killed my mischance; the clergy who walk with the Offered are ready to spell-transform themselves into cat form and 'step in' to perform this vital part of the ritual, if necessary.]

The moment both Offered have received the kiss, a spell cast by the presiding priestess takes effect, and the partners-to-be are momentarily mind-bonded, able to see through each other's eyes. (This 'seeing and feeling' some small part of the mind of the other sometimes causes them to fall right out of love with each other in a hurry.)

By means of this seeing, they can usually swiftly find each other (despite the 'weird' feeling of seeing through the other's eyes), and (through love and rising passion, aided by Sharessan spells) rush together, to consummate the wedding on the spot. Yes, that means the happy couple physically engage in lovemaking, side by side with their two messenger-cats, and all of the attending Sharessan clergy (plus any guests). The temple has previously prepared a feast of mead, light wines, and what we would call 'finger food,' and hedonistic lovemaking continues for some time. The favoured time for a Sharessan wedding is just before dusk, so the orgy can continue throughout the night. If it's winter or storming (NOT viewed as a bad omen, by the way), the initial consummation is 'on the spot' and usually outdoors, sometimes in a bower heated by a ring of small fires, but the ongoing frolic moves indoors.

During the fun, Sharessan clergy will insist that each Offered publicly disclose one of their personal faults to the other ("I snore loudly" or "My feet smell" or "I can't resist skirt-chasing every dark-haired Calishite I see"). This must be honest, though it can be frivolous, and the clergy forewarn and even coach the partners-to-be, beforehand (i.e. the request to disclose doesn't come as a surprise). All previous weddings and child-bearing unions (no matter how unofficial or illegal) either Offered has previously been involved in MUST be disclosed to the clergy and the other Offered, or the ritual ends right there.

The ritual isn't actually complete until the orgy ends and both of the Offered have slept (usually together, and if not, always in the physical company of Sharessan clergy) and awakened again - - at which time both are solemnly (and seperately) asked (by Sharessan clergy) if they desire to be united to the being they Offered themselves to, and whose Offer they in turn enjoyed. In other words, they are given a last chance to back out. Sharessan clergy freely offer private counsel (advice for wedded life ahead, or how to deal with specific flaws or tendencies of the partner chosen) at this time, and will even , if one Offered desires it, bring the two Offered together to continue counselling with both, face to face. If both Offered accept the other, they are henceforth known as Accepted, their names are entered in temple rolls, and they are magically translocated (by teleport spells, usually, though portals can be used) to a place of their mutual choice, if they want to go somewhere (Yes, a honeymoon! Or an escape from smothering parents, creditors, or even the authorities!), and the clergy keep the chosen destination secret from everyone for at least a year (longer unless family of the Accepted plead for disclosure because they fear something bad has befallen the Accepted).

It's customary for either the partners-to-be or their families to make donations to the hosting temple or shrine of Sharess (to cover the cost of the wedding feast), and in some cities priestesses quietly offer drugged wines (usually to induce wild passion) for those who pay extra (in other words, the father of the bride might try to stir the ardour of his long-uninterested wife by discreetly arranging with the clergy to 'add a little something' to her wine or to everyone's).

Lliiran weddings, it won't surprise you to learn, are dancing affairs. Like the clergy of Sharess, the church of Lliira will join together beings of all races, genders, and blood relationships, but NOT if any of the parents of either Joyous (as the bride and groom to be are both called) objects, and not if either Joyous is already married to another, still-living being.

The ritual unfolds thus: in a secluded bower or walled garden or inside a temple to Lliira (these three venues listed in descending order of desirability), all wedding participants gather. Anything that is, purports to be, or could reasonably be used as a weapon must not be brought to the gathering (and Joybringers will whisk such items away by magic if they are present, detecting them by means of spells if hidden). Participants are encouraged to wear the wildest costumes they want to, and join in the dancing.

The music, musicians, and refreshments are as chosen by the wedding participants, and continue until the two Joyous want the actual wedding to take place (i.e. everyone they want to be there has arrived and everyone's warmed up). Then the Lliiran clergy cast certain spells, and the Twelve Dances begin. Some of the spells enable all the people present to fly (within a very limited spherical field), others generate the soaring music of the Dances, and still others put the movements of each dance into the minds of the participants, so people who've never been to a Joyfasting (Lliiran wedding) before know the moves without thinking, FEELING the moves of the unfolding dances (note that this means the maimed, infirm, and non-dancers can enjoy being swept along in the dances, up into the air and moving freely along with everyone else). Most of the music of these dances is heard inside the heads of the participants (and in places of danger or hostility, can be rendered silent to all outsiders by choice of the presiding clergy), but the swelling tunes are stirring and uplifting, each dance of the Twelve arousing and emotionally moving everyone involved. Most dancers will sing wordlessly along to the rising tunes, and by the time the Twelfth dance ends on a peak of arousal and high notes, everyone is whirling swiftly, well aloft, around the feet of the two Joyous, who are swept together in consummation of their union above everyone's heads, shedding their costumes as they go (it's considered a mark of the favour to touch - - not keep - - any part of a costume as it falls, whirled around and around among the dancers by the magic rather than plummeting to the ground). Everyone but the Joyous then sinks gently to back to the ground, and the two Joyous make love high in the air, 'kept up there' by the Lliiran clergy.

The ritual ends with the presiding Joybringer asking the two Joyous if they're content to be Fasted together (married), and Lliiran magic brings their replies to the ears of all participants - - whereupon the two Joyous vanish in a burst of spectacular fireworks (magical illusions rather than actual fireworks), and the Joybringers put on a music and light show (again, except in hostile or dangerous surroundings) to entertain the wedding guests whilst the two Joyous are whisked magically away to a previously-selected spot (usually a bedchamber far from all the revelry, but sometimes an escape to a secret destination far across the Realms).

It's customary for the presiding Joybringers to gift a potion to each of the Joyous (usually one of Cat's Grace and one of some sort of healing, but it can be anything not directly harmful or hostile to the imbiber). The potions will be labelled, not mysterious to the Joyous receiving them.

So saith Ed.

Ah, but it's nice to know I still have the power to persuade (purr). Enjoy, kuje, enjoy. You can thank me properly if ever our paths meet.

love to all,


January 31, 2005: Hello, all. Ed of the Greenwood makes reply to Talwyn:

Oooh, a toughie. Some people do indeed see the paladin as a very narrow-focus lifestyle. In some cases, following the 'character' of the deity (if AND ONLY IF the deity's church is portrayed as mirroring a strict, no-nonsense side of the deity), they're correct.

However, I see absolutely NOTHING wrong with having a 'courtly love' romantic as a paladin, so long as the character doesn't stray from the strict precepts of what the CHURCH of Torm orders him to do.

Of course, the hosts of the server hold a lot of power here, as I support your "diversity" point of view largely because rich roleplaying should be the heart and soul of any good D&D campaign, and your paladin should be praying to Torm personally a lot as well as participating in rituals with priests of Torm when they're available - - and if the server hosts want to roleplay the visions and/or explicit directives Torm sends your paladin (in his dreams or directly during prayers), they can use (I'd say misuse, if they did, but then, I'm not running the server) this avenue to dictate to your paladin not to behave as he's doing.

However, if this is the guy's established character, then good roleplaying says that (rather then suddenly becoming an unromantic, non-singing, no-nonsense 'their-idea-of-a-good-model paladin') he renounces his holy service to Torm (ceases to be a paladin), and just serves Torm as a devout fighter - - or even, given that all non-priest, non-paladin characters in the Realms venerate an array of deities (even if only in appeasement), drift towards another deity (Sune, Milil, and so on) who look upon romantic chivalry more kindly.

So it's really up to you, and to the hosts. If you were doing this in MY campaign, I'd be beaming: THIS is what good, colourful, memorable, enjoyable roleplaying is all about. In my home campaigns, I've had kindhearted thieves who couldn't tell lies, irreverent priests who just couldn't follow rules or chant a prayer without working a joke or smartass comment into it, sorceresses who were scared of casting magic - - and lots of other misfits who were trying to fulfill roles that they didn't quite 'fit' (in the opinion of some observers). It all makes for more fun for everyone. It can also, of course, drive the DM nuts if every player wants his or her character to do it...

When Wizards finally gets around to posting my 2004 Spin A Yarn story ("The Night Tymora Sneezed"), you'll get to see a paladin behaving in a rather unconventional - - but true to her faith - - fashion. Heh-heh.

So saith Ed.

Good luck, Talwyn. Be sure to tell us what happens, okay?



Febuary 1, 2005: Hello, all. Ed of the Greenwood replies to Gerath Hoan regarding the matter of Vangerdahast (and Ed hasn't forgotten your Tunland request, either; it's waiting for Ed to see what a certain other creative person does or doesn't do in print, before he sets quill to parchment and lines up those little dancing electrons in a reply to you):

Hi, Gerath. Re. the Vangey stuff: you're welcome. I just hope Jerryd receives it in the same spirit, because I'm very interested in seeing his War Wizards writeup (I'm not trying to prevent him doing it or crush the man or his obvious enjoyment of, and enthusiasm for, the Realms). You asked: "Could we possibly draw you out some more on what you feel about his replacement with Caladnei (and how and why that came about) and what his (obviously now rather special) future holds? Will we still see him popping up from time to time meddling or is he truly retired (and perhaps in stasis)?"

To answer your second question first: I'm not sure. I'd love to use Vangey in that 'popping up meddling' manner, but I honestly don't know if I'll have the opportunity.

Caladnei is the creation of Sean Reynolds, I believe, working with Rich Baker (I think), and I really like her. My guess is that she was put into the Realms to get rid of one of the three similar 'grouchy, meddling old men' wizards I mentioned in my Vangey replies to Jerryd. One of the design problems with the Realms (exacerbated with the disappearance of most longevity magics in 3rd Edition) is that the advancing timeline has brought a lot of my favourite 'old guard' Realms characters (Mirt, Durnan, Vangerdahast, Flamsterd, and many more: just examine the Old Gray Box character roster and you'll see that there are a LOT of candidates) to the brink of death through old age without my having a chance to really tell their stories.

As you know, for me the Realms IS its characters, not real estate so much, so I'm reluctant to let these people go until they've had their moment in the spotlight and 'become real' for all Realms fans. Sometimes I have to be pushed. :}

In the case of Vangerdahast: it was time, for both him and for Azoun. I didn't want either of them to go, and if a lot of Realms fans agree with me in this, then Troy and I did DEATH OF THE DRAGON right, because just as in real life, you don't want your favourite people to die, or in some cases don't want them gone until you've had a chance to say or do this with them, or they've had the chance to finish this or that.

However, a lot of the appeal of the Realms is anticipating what will happen next, treating the place as living, breathing, and real - - and that means change. Real change, not just the illusion of change (older comics fans are familiar with the clever illusion of change: in the Spidey comics, Peter Parker took almost twenty years to graduate), must from time to time occur.

Caladnei is an enigma, far more of a blank slate than Vangey. Vangey gave us the delicious "many secrets, what's he really up to?" air of mystery, the whiff of corruption, the allure of the hidden (all these 'ahast' mages who control Cormyr: who are they, and what are their aims?), but Caladnei offers us the 'green outsider, learning on the job as everyone tries to take advantage of her, and because of Vangey and Azoun IV not being there, changes ARE going to happen' situation of all of us having ringside seats as Cormyr moves into a new era.

In ELMINSTER'S DAUGHTER I tried to usher in that new era without showing much of anything occurring in it, like the guy who introduces the show and then steps aside with a flourish as the curtain rises; in SWORDS OF EVENINGSTAR (title may change: first Knights of Myth Drannor novel) I'll take you back to Vangey firmly in the saddle and Azoun IV riding high, before any of the troubles that led to DEATH OF THE DRAGON.

If I'd been publishing the Realms all by myself, Azoun IV and Vangerdahast would still be in place and the timeline wouldn't have advanced nearly as much as it has since 1987.

However, those changes have happened, so I throw myself into enjoying and working with them as much as I can. And I really will enjoy exploring Caladnei. What makes her tick? How does she get on (in a continuing, shifting relationship, not a one-time snapshot glimpse) with Alusair? With Filfaeril? With Laspeera? With Azoun V, as he grows up?

I have utterly no intent of making Caladnei any sort of clone or echo of any of the Seven Sisters, cheerfully comfortable with casual nudity and lovemaking after nigh a thousand years of life, but I do need to know how she deals with loneliness (and whether or not she yearns for companionship as Princess Tanalasta did, and so can be exploited by someone who sees this).

I want to watch all the nobles try to take advantage of her - - NOT because they're all traitors, but just because they feared and hated Vangey so much because he stepped on so many toes, and they want their pride and power back and she's not Vangey so they're going to try to take it.

We've not yet properly explored either the Royal Court or the nobles of Cormyr in fiction (and, from all my postings with Jerryd here, obviously haven't dealt with the War Wizards properly yet, either), and it's high time for a game product update for the Forest Kingdom, too.

So I feel great about Caladnei, and I do want to provide you with more of an answer - - in Realms fiction - - to your question about Vangey's status. Stay tuned!

So saith Ed.

Ah, I'm wriggling in anticipation, just reading this! (Yes, Wooly and Sirius, you can watch.) Stay tuned, indeed!

love to all,


Febuary 1, 2005: Dear Verghityax,

Elturel was always "the Great Mystery" to we Knights, and we used to tease Ed about it. It was originally going to be used in the DC Comics set in the Realms, and in some of the earliest computer games (and, as we all know, wasn't), but was the subject of the very first "don't talk about this at all, Ed, okay?" TSR directive, way back when.

So replying to you may take Ed some time. He has to track down the ex-employees of TSR who gave him that directive, ascertain PRECISELY the extent and nature of the prohibition, and then take it to Wizards and ask the current 'keepers of the keys' there if it's okay for him to proceed.

So, be aware that this may take months.

Gerath, back in May you asked Ed for more on Tunland than just the Thaalim Torchtower note in the FRCS. Later (in November, I think), Beowulf chimed in with requests for more. Ed is in a similar situation with Tunland as he is with Elturel, only the "don't go there" request was so someone, quite long ago, could use it as a novel setting (something else that hasn't happened). So this answer, too, may take some time. Less time than Verghityax's, because there aren't as many hoops to jump through in finding out, and because it's a far older request than Elturel and so takes precedence.

Yours in the spirit of endlessly revelatory Realmslore,
love to all,


Febuary 2, 2005: Hello, all. Herewith, Ed answers simontrinity about Syluné:

Ah, what a LOVELY question. These are the sorts of things I love to answer. Thanks, simontrinity!

Okay: When the spectral, post-demise Syluné is inhabiting a body, she can eat and drink but doesn't feel hunger or thirst.

In fact, she can feel but not feel. This is her great tragedy. In other words, she can't feel pain from purely physical sources, or feel ill, or feel sexual pleasure. She can dimly feel sensations ("The fingers of this body are in contact with something hot" or "I can feel a hard surface with these fingers") but isn't 'in tune' with the body and feeling everything that happens to it. She DOES have to eat and drink to keep the body alive, though she can just 'drift out of it' to let it fall into a non-breathing torpor (which means its metabolic processes slow down greatly, and it need not eat, drink, or eliminate for long periods of time). The body can then be submerged or smothered without drowning or suffocating, and so on.

When Syluné is in a body and it's severely wounded (limbs being severed, for instance), she doesn't suffer shock. Nor is the body as quickly affected by poisonous gases or the like as a normal living woman would be: in other words, Syluné can force the body to try to accomplish things(go on functioning as best possible) in situations where a normal body would have collapsed from pain or a blow to the head or whatever.

Syluné has been in situations where "her" bodies have been tortured, burned, or even systematically dismembered, where she's gone on talking and acting as calmly and normally as possible. She can dimly feel unpleasant sensations, but not debilitating pain.

Many spells, of course, DO cause her spectral self pain, as do certain changes in the Weave, so blasting a Syluné-body with certain spells WOULD cause her to scream, shake in agony, and so on.

As for romance still interesting her: of course. Although she can see and communicate with the Chosen and many others via the Weave, she's terribly lonely and she can no longer truly be 'held' (hugged and comforted). She's forever 'a little bit detached, a little bit apart.'

To have someone care about HER, personally, and want to be near her or share experiences with her or converse with her, would mean a lot to her. Unless the particular person repelled her or she knew overtures were being made for deceitful purposes (I'm really a Zhent agent who wants this silver fire, and don't truly give an owl's hoot about this weird old witch at all), she would very much want to have a relationship.

Knowing how fragile life is, she wouldn't necessarily want to faithfully love just one person, either, for fear of having nothing when they inevitably eventually died - - though she's always been acutely sensitive to the feelings of others, and would conduct herself in such a manner as to minimize any hurt and jealousy felt by someone who wanted her to be "theirs alone."

If things progressed to actual lovemaking, Syluné can no longer enjoy full physical bodily sensations - - but that doesn't mean she can't control a body expertly, so as to give a partner great pleasure. Also, when in such intimate contact, she can reach out with her mind and give pleasure (or induce pain, or launch well-nigh-irresistable thought-probes) right into the mind of a lover. Silver fire can even be used to burn out the brain and life of someone at such close range - - but such would never happen with Syluné accidently, in 'the throes of passion,' because she can no longer feel acutely enough to be caught in such throes. This also, of course, makes her tireless in lovemaking. Her body might get weary, or raw, but she doesn't feel that strongly enough for such sensations to govern her.

She can walk or run for hours without getting winded or footsore enough to collapse (dehydration, bloodloss, hypothermia and so on will lead to eventual collapse, of course, and attempting anything the body isn't strong enough to accomplish will result in failure and perhaps even joint failure of the body).

Which brings us to my advice to a would-be suitor: yes, love her. Be aware that if your connection to the Witch of Shadowdale becomes commonly known (and word gets to, for example, Zhent ears) you will be placing yourself in great danger.

But she's worth it.

Even before her death, she was one of the most caring and perceptive people in all Faerūn, and she desperately wants someone to love and cherish her now, and will return such feelings fiercely. If you're scared, tell her so. And if you're in the sack with her and start feeling chafed or getting chest pains, TELL her so. She can call on the Weave to do much, and you'll barely notice she's not quite 'alive' as other people are. (For one thing, she can hear EVERYTHING, because she's relying on far more than the ears of her body.)

You will also earn the respect of the other Chosen of Mystra, and the deep gratitude of both Azuth and Mystra herself. Which can't hurt in an emergency, when you cry out a desperate prayer.

(If your DM wishes, this may even become the start of a different sort of campaign, in which you might be offered some limited magical powers in return for becoming a servant of Mystra; not a Chosen, but some of the other sorts of servants described in SECRETS OF THE MAGISTER.)

Properly roleplayed, a romance with Syluné would be a fascinating thing, involving at the outset some very subtle testing on her part (she's a superb actress) to learn the true depths of your character's inner character. Followed by great intimacy, as she tries to banish her loneliness by being with you.

Whew. So saith Ed.

There's not much I can add to that. (Sniff.)

love to all,


Febuary 3, 2005: Hi, George! I never thought much about how the hin got from Luiren to the Easting Reach, but via Shandaular is just fine with me, so Let It Be So.

I didn't envisage this happening for any very sinister reason, more like 'internal family bickering' among the halflings arising out of increasing overcrowding in Luiren at that time ('breadbasket' food-growing conditions coupled with a preferred rural lifestyle and a time of peace, prosperity, and unbridled breeding leading to too many kids for the surroundings to comfortably support, halfling resistance to 'leaving the land' to cluster in cities, hence wanting their own farms, hence having to go and find some new real estate to have them - - so let's go FAR away and start new lives, and not end up being 'little colonies being told what to do by those who were unkind to us' or leave overmuch temptation to just sneak back home if things get hard in the New Place).

Once the halflings got to the Easting Reach, and discovered how darned much colder a spot they'd chosen, they were forced by the climate into different crop plantings and extensive use of root cellars for dwelling as well as food storage (hence, fixed-location settlements).

Yes, some of the Narfelli were unfriendly to say the least, but the halflings' skill at growing too-rare edibles and in crafting small, useful devices (buckles, fastenings, tinder boxes, et al) made them highly prized by the Narfelli. You can capture a halfling, and you can torture and threaten him - - but mistreating him DOESN'T force him to make the goodies you want him to produce for you, so any Narfelli who did want to enslave the hin soon learned that it was futile. Nomadic Narfelli in hard winters had to depend on hin for food, and if halflings refused to yield food to raiders but gave it freely to those who come peaceably, the Narfelli learned how to treat halflings - - or died.

Work for you?

A pleasure to chat with one of THE top Lore Lords of the Realms, as always. Glad you liked the Vangey revelations; I still want to write more of his story in future Realms fiction pieces. Sorry I missed you on my Oz tour in 1984 (I got as close as a convention in Melbourne, with 'Uncle' Wes Nicholson as my host and driver and companion to wife and self for five weeks). The gods alone know when I'll ever have the time and money to get out your way again, so I'll just have to start working hard on getting WotC to bring you to GenCon Indy some year as a guest. Perhaps if you wrote a blockbuster Realms novel...

Wooo! YES! Yes! Let's see this happen!

love to all,


Febuary 4, 2005: Hello, all. Ed of the Greenwood makes reply to Wooly Rupert:

Hi, Wooly. No, there's absolutely nothing about Laeral's daughter Maura in CITY OF SPLENDORS. Last time I checked, anyway. :}

As for the Lords Who Sleep: well, now...

Thoughts among WotC designers or freelancers like moi? Possibly.

Or do you mean thoughts on the part of someone in the Realms, i.e. someone in Cormyr wanting to 'replace' the Lords Who Sleep? As protectors of the realm, Vangey and Co. (see ELMINSTER'S DAUGHTER) are a replacement of sorts... but haven't been (yet, anyway) promoted to fulfill the other function of the Lords Who Sleep: inspiring and reassuring the populace ("and in time of need, my son, the Lords Who Sleep will awaken and ride, to defend us all! D'ye see them? No? Then worry not, for no matter how dark things seem, the threatened doom of the realm is not yet at hand!").

Let me say this much: this topic has been discussed by some creative minds, but nothing has been 'set in stone' (as they say) as of this writing.

So saith Ed.

Hmmm... very interesting...

love to all,


Febuary 5, 2005: Hello, all. Jerryd, I promised you and Blueblade that I'd say a little something about we Knights of Myth Drannor, in the original Realms campaign run by Ed, learning about Vangerdahast's perfidy. Jerryd, you asked Ed: "You mean that the Knights in your home campaign discovered that Vangey dipped into the mind of Azoun, so the secret spread beyond Filfaeril and Laspeera?"

In a word: yes.

As Ed told you, it's a very long and convoluted tale, because when Ed DMs campaign play (as opposed to a one-shot session at a convention), there are always dozens of subplots unfolding at once, NPCs adventuring as energetically as we PCs, general "bustling life unfolding," and so on. We rarely engage in simple linear adventures or dungeon crawls with a clear and consecutive beginning, middle, and clean ending, so as to then turn to the next adventure, and so on.

Instead, it's very like real life; there's always a lot happening around us, and our "adventures" consist of reaching out and taking part in what we want to take part in (with occasional "this lands in your laps" enforced adventures, too).

As most of you may know, the core Knights began play in Espar, in upland Cormyr. You'll see some of this in SWORDS OF EVENINGSTAR, Ed's first Knights novel. So we knew of Vangey from our beginnings.

Much later, one Knight noticed that Azoun personally expressed an opinion on some matter (whilst making small talk at a revel, preparatory to trying to bed her) that was sharply different than the opinion he'd expressed much earlier, on the same topic, to the same Knight, at Shaerl Rowanmantle's wedding to Mourngrym. This puzzled the Knight, and when she asked him why he'd changed his mind so much, Azoun was puzzled, and said he hadn't done so, and had always held that view.

Now, we Knights had just spent a lot of time fighting a persistent gang of dopplegangers, so this aroused her suspicions, and she sought Syluné's advice (we were all at that time within Syluné's spectral reach). With the full permission and cooperation of the Knight, Syluné 'went in' to the Knight's mind and rode it that night as she made love to Azoun, keeping in mental contact with Elminster throughout (he made only two playful comments about Azoun's lovemaking, as I recall). Because Ed wanted all of us players to 'know' this firsthand, he told us that Elminster deliberately included all of us in the mental loop, so we'd all "know the true measure" of what we, as protectors of Shadowdale against suggested Cormyrean expansion, were dealing with.

So we all together discovered, as Elminster traced it, Vangerdahast's meddlings with Azoun's mind (and the Old Mage undid a few of them, as I recall).

Jerryd, you should be made aware of some things we discovered that night: that Azoun and Vangey REALLY like each other [no, not as lovers, I mean as really firm, lifelong friends] and both wanted the best for each other, and that Vangey was in the habit of 'rewarding' Azoun by giving him tiny, carefully-crafted [edited, NOT false] memories of what Vangey had observed, so Azoun would "know for sure" what certain people in Cormyr truly thought of him, or other Cormryeans, and so on. As you can imagine, these certainties were treasured by Azoun, who felt he could trust in them, and they went a long way towards building Azoun's confidence (and making sure it was properly placed) and in steering his own behaviour so as to be respected and liked, even by nobles whose daughters he'd openly pursued and enjoyed. So Azoun knew Vangey 'came into his head' (ostensibly to read what he, Azoun, had learned and seen, and to examine Azoun for covert hostile magics intended to manipulate him [! quel irony!]) and didn't mind. He was, of course, unaware of the true extent of some of the changes Vangey made (such as that altered opinion the Knight noticed). So that's how we learned what Vangey was up to.

We all sat and talked about what, if anything, we could or should do about it. Why was Vangey doing this? Was he in turn being manipulated by someone else? (Larloch, Sammaster, Szass Tam, Manshoon... the candidates are endless, yes?)

So we thought about various plans for getting into Vangey's mind. In the end, Syluné (with Elminster's help) worked a tiny fragment of one of her pebbles into Azoun's girdle (yes, the mighty-thewed, aging warrior-king had started to develop a paunch that he wasn't any too fond of, and wore a leather 'wound-healing' girdle to hold it in) so she could 'stay with' Azoun when he travelled back to Cormyr. She did, and drifted into his mind to just watch. Vangey of course came right in to see and hear all he could about what Azoun had experienced in Shadowdale, and Syluné read all she could of his mind without being detected. Later, she had Azoun put the tiny speck of pebble behind a shelf of books in Filfaeril's study, hoping she could use it to manifest there if the need ever arose, and some other means 'brought' her into the Palace (something that hasn't yet happened, and may never happen). Elminster visited Azoun VERY briefly, to 'carry' Syluné home, and she revealed to all of us what she'd learned.

As we all approved of what Vangey was trying to do, even if we disliked his methods, we did nothing.

The reason Ed mentioned this revelation was because, we Knights having learned some of Vangey's secrets that had hitherto been kept out of print, he now felt he could reveal them without ruining our enjoyment of the home campaign. As he said, what had been published up until now was very much "the public image" of Vangey (though many darker hints were there, as he pointed out). It's somewhat like conditions in the real-life United States before the enlarged reach and boldness of the media that really picked up steam in the 1960s: at one point America had a president who was confined to a wheelchair, but most Americans at the time didn't know he was because the media never showed it.

What Ed has given us in Vangerdahast is someone who usually did the right things for the wrong reasons, and sometimes did some very wrong things, too, but all for a cause that arguably gave thousands of people much better lives (relative peace, security, and public order; swift aid when hunger and cold threatened; prosperity and a standard of living much higher than would have been the case if skirmishes between nobles or even open civil war held sway).

As Garen Thal said, he's the guy with bloody hands who props up the throne. Not a shining hero, Jerryd, but a very INTERESTING character, more interesting than if he had been a shining hero. I sometimes think of Vangey as a cross between Sean Connery in THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING and Nick Fury, Agent of Shield.



Febuary 6, 2005: Hello, all. Ed makes reply to Elfinblade in the matter of gods:

Hi, Elfinblade. The Realms began as a fiction setting (circa 1967), with only a few of the gods "imagined" (mostly as names and body parts in colourful curses spouted by Mirt and various characters he was busily killing, swindling, or beating up), but by the time Dungeons & Dragons started to get published there were over two dozen gods with established names, genders, holy symbols or badges or totems, and portfolios. Yes, you read that right: before D&D existed (it started in 1974, but became widespread starting in 1975).

When 1978 came around, the first two "Advanced Dungeons & Dragons" rulebooks were published, and I was sufficiently impressed to 'adapt' the fictional Realms to the game for campaign play. I started to set to work on a proper pantheon, "filling in the gaps" around Gary Gygax's official gods. Issue 54 of the Dragon contains an article of mine summarizing my reasoning and divine development up to that time.

I was constantly creating new cults, mainly so as to have altars for player characters in the original (and still running) Realms campaign to burst in on and be horrified at, and the roster of gods quickly expanded. Right now, we have... too many. :} Yes, some gods were added by the TSR staff (the first of these being Doug Niles's Earthmother, I believe), the existing ones (e.g. Lolth) were stitched into the Realms, and the Great God Show really got going, to become the thundering locomotive it is today (and STILL no full priesthood details, with creeds and aims and practises and vestments and so on and so forth).

I don't have a favourite deity, though Mystra, Azuth, Lurue, and Selune are all 'in the running.' I have soft spots for a lot more, such as Eilistraee and Tymora. It's hard to pick (sorta like deciding which of your children is your favourite; of the list in the preceding sentence, only Tymora isn't my creation), and I don't really want to; I DON'T want my writing to ever be influenced by "this favourite deity and his/her servants or champions have to stay glowingly untouched" (I know some uncharitable folk believe I've already done just this with Mystra, but they're just plain wrong, most of them not understanding how creative decisions regarding the Realms are made and instead believing I run TSR/WotC and publish just what I please). Ah, well. We should all have publishing empires!

So saith Ed.

(Shudder) I HOPE that last line was just a joke. Believe me, as an editor: you don't want most would-be writers to have their own publishing empires. Really. Except for YOU, of course...

love to all,


Febuary 7, 2005: Hello, all. Ed replies to Kentinal's question about the flows of time:

Hi, Kentinal. Yes, there is "a general plan for how quick time will pass," and as Garen Thal pointed out, it's given in the FRCS as a rate of two Realms years for every five real-world years - - but that of necessity (and Garen covered the array of legitimate reasons), novels often don't fit the stated rate of time. I'm not all that concerned about novels 'jumping around' into the past (as I often do), for proper reasons of storytelling; the only situations that concern me are Realms publications set at any time that introduce contradictions into Realmslore, and novels or short stories set three years or more 'into the future' that tie the hands of other authors by describing overmuch "things in the Realms as they are" at that future time.

Everyone at WotC is aware of the potential problems, and they're all professionals who are swimming in the big Faerūnian pool as you read this, hence have no interest in fouling said pool. Everyone's human and mistakes do happen (gosh, I managed to cram a lot of clichés into a very few words there :}), but I think these days they largely will be mistakes, and not deeds born of "I don't care, I'm gonna write this anyway" thinking.

So if Realmsdate wanders a bit, don't worry about it. Enjoy the novels as entertainment and rest assured that scribes such as Garen Thal, Eric Boyd, George Krashos, Steven Schend, and yes, even me, are waiting to pounce on apparent inconsistencies and "explain them away."

So saith Ed.

I agree with another part of Garen Thal's post, about the futility of trying to tie down exactly what date it is in the Realms, right now. It's whatever date it is in your campaign...



Febuary 8, 2005: Hello, all. Ed replies to Dargoth's "bunch of" noble questions:

Hi, Dargoth. Here we go:

1. How much legal power does a noble have in the FR in the lands he governs?

Depends on the realm. Usually he must abide by all the country-wide laws, but in some cases HE can sit as magister, trying and sentencing folk. Almost always, he can't do this if the accused are nobles, courtiers, members of the military of the realms, priests, or foreign courtiers.

Generally the noble has control over how the land is used (who dwells where, so long as royal commands and expectations are met [no blocking roads, any quotas for food produced must be met, and so on]) and who's on his own household staff. The noble usually does NOT have any say over local officials (courtiers, heralds, military garrisons and their support staff) stationed on "his" lands, as they serve as spies upon, and counterbalances to, his potential misrule.

Nobles can always bring charges against people in their lands, and often control (if not officially command) the local police (or the noble's own bodyguard, serving as vigilante "peacekeepers").

2. Does a noble have the right to sleep with any female who dwells within his domain?

No, droit de seigneur doesn't officially exist in the Realms, for royals or nobles. Within priesthoods, between a mage and his apprentices, and between his (or her!) subjects and a tyrant robber baron or even a king, it may exist as daily fact, but never as "lawful tradition." To put it another way, King Throg may burst into young Ilandra's bedchamber by night and neither she nor her family will dare resist him - - but that's far different from King Throg having the open public right to bed Ilandra before all the court, or on her wedding night in front of her blushing groom, or at any other time.

3. Can the leader of the family put another member of the family to death for defying or disobeying the leader of the family?

Depends on the realm. In the vast majority of lands, the legal answer is no, but in practice, cruel tyrant family patriarchs will merely have "accidents" befall those who defy them, and openly warn everyone else that a similar fate awaits anyone else who wants to behave likewise. However, if clear evidence (such as an eyewitness account from a visiting courtier, priest, or other 'removed' trusted observer [meaning a non-family-member of personal standing, never an outlander]) to such murders exist, the patriarch WILL almost always suffer consequences (royal justice). The harshness of said penalty depends on the ruler; it may be death, it's often exile (and forfeiture of some or all holdings), and it may be no more than a fine or even a scolding.

4. How much hereditary land does the average noble have and how much land do they have to retain in order to remain a noble?

Re. having the land: depends on the realm; there is no meaningful "average" to tell you, considering that duchies in Tethyr can be HUGE and kingdoms in the Border Kingdoms can be tiny fields. Most nobles have a castle, sufficient farmland around it to feed everyone in the castle, a city house if the noble's territory lies outside the capital of the realm, and enough extra land to support any levies (either armed men or payments of coin or crops, or both) the noble is expected to provide.

Re. retaining the land: in almost all cases in the Realms, once a family is ennobled, they must do something treasonous and be exiled and stripped of their lands and titles (long enough to 'make it stick,' not by a monarch who dies or is murdered soon thereafter) to lose their status. Otherwise, you can lose every copper coin you own (and, of course, every bit of land) and still be noble. You usually lose all the powers and perks, but you still have the title. (Unlike our latter-day real world, in the Realms you can almost never sell your titles.) In several realms, there are penniless, landless nobles who end up living "on royal favour" or "by royal grace and favour," lodged at court or in a royal castle, and often serving the monarch as an envoy or internal-to-the-realm message-runner.

5. Who inherits? Does a noble give all his wealth to his firstborn son or does he spread it out amongst his sons? Can a female child inherit?

This varies from realm to realm and sometimes even from family to family; the Heralds keep meticulous records of the rules pertaining to every titled family (and the pertinent laws of every realm), which they (not monarchs) adjudicate. Titles are almost always conferred according to rules, not the whim of their holders, females can almost always inherit (usually in just the same way as males, but sometimes with varying-from-male titles or rights), and property inheritance is governed by realm law (sometimes a castle or particular holding [bridge, mountain pass, village] is tied to a title), but so long as this is followed, the "chattels" (rest of the loot) can be distributed as the dying noble desires. Wills are common in most realms of the Heartlands, Sword Coast, and Inner Sea regions.

6. How much power does a father have over his son or daughter? Can he force said son or daughter into an arranged marriage?

Depends on the realm (its laws and customs), the faiths followed by the individuals involved, and the personalities of the individuals, too. Arranged marriages are usual among ROYALTY; for 'mere' nobility, there's often no legal penalty for someone who refuses to go along with Daddy, but the person resisting their father often risks disinheritance, or in cases where they can't legally be disinherited, risks: exile (in some cases kidnapped and taken far away, to unfamiliar territory where their family name will mean nothing), imprisonment (daughter shut up in castle until she changes her mind or dies an old maid), possible murder (those "accidents" again), castration ("I chose the woman for you - - and if she's not good enough, NO ONE is, and I'll make sure of it!") or simply being hurled out into the world beaten and without a single copper coin (in some cases naked) and left to fend for themselves. In other words, "You're still my son, ungrateful whelp, and I can't stop you becoming Duke of Farlarran SOMEday - - if you're still alive, after fending for yourself on the Pirate Isles until I die of old age some thirty winters hence! But you'll damned well work for a living, and rue the day you ever defied me!"

As with inheritance (see the answer to 5, above), the Heralds sometimes get involved in this one, too, because certain families, particularly in Amn, Tethyr, and Calimshan, have "inside the family" laws governing arranged marriages (usually prohibiting them between brother and sister, but sometimes banning them altogether).

Similar pressures exist outside of the ranks of royalty and nobility, but arranged marriages usually only occur when keeping land or money in certain hands is important to heads of families, or for matters of faith.

I hope these replies are of help. I could do a better job, Dargoth, if your questions weren't so "wide" in scope (i.e. Realms-wide). This bunch is almost literally like asking me about real-world countries and their laws on inheritance, arranged marriage, and so on: I can give almost three hundred different correct real-world answers on each of these topics.

So saith Ed.

Please keep that last point in mind, everyone. Asking something like "What are the laws about roads everywhere in the Realms?" is a great way to be left waiting forever for a reply, but asking "What are the laws about roads in Luskan?" will get you a MUCH faster answer.

love to all,


Febuary 8, 2005: Hi, tompulsar. Ed tells me that said 3e sourcebook, THE SHINING SOUTH, should be considered the definitive source, because author Thomas Reid consulted with Ed on lore details, updating earlier descriptions.

However, my copy of that tome seems to contain very little (a quarter of page 120 and a few paragraphs at the bottom of page 123) about Veldorn (although Chapter 5 contains great MONSTER MANUAL-style entries for beasties prominent in the region, with the cyclops, mantimera, and dark tree being noted as native). So if sheckels are short...

The SAVAGE SPECIES sourcebook is a great resource for "classed" monster NPC adventurers of the sort who hail from Veldorn.

Creatures noted as being native to Veldorn: beholders, demons, "various giants," leucrotta, and (various sorts of) "werecreatures." Human slaves dwell there, and the land is really a cluster of independent city-states ruled by monsters.

Just now, the sourcebooks seem to pretty much leave you on your own. Mr. Reid had the impossible task of covering a huge chunk of continent in too small a book, and some things just had to get the "once over lightly" treatment. Veldorn was one of them.

Not that you shouldn't buy the book, if you have coin to spare: it's a lovely tome. It's just not chock-full of a lot on Veldorn. :}



Feburary 9, 2005: Hello, all. Ed replies to Sanishiver:

The Stonelands are scrub woodlands, clinging to often-bare rock, in a series of knife-edged ridges and breakneck (VERY steep-sided) ravines between between them, the ridges running roughly east-west (in someplaces, more northeast-southwest), and in modern geological terms we'd call them: layers of sedimentary rock tilted up on edge, with water (the freeze/thaw cycle and the endless precipitation of passing years) eating away the softer (limestone) layers to make ravines, and leaving the harder layers standing as ridges. Many caves have come into being through water seepage and movement through the limestone, and by boulders breaking off (again, ice-shove freeze-thaw being the main cause) and tumbling down into ravines to wedge together and over time (with the addition of washed-down earth) form 'roofs' over cavities below (more caves).

This extremely rugged topography is the reason the Stonelands is so hard to police and therefore govern: there's no tillable land, precious little flat land at all, no roads and no place to put roads (unless you start a laborious 'blast rock, pile up rubble, blast next rock' process that's unlikely ever to be adopted because there's not really much place for roads to go TO). Outlaws, hardy prospectors, smugglers, and monsters are the main inhabitants of the region, which has stood as a very effective wall against the sands of Anauroch for centuries.

You've hit upon one reason so much loose rubble (and topsoil) exists at all in the Stonelands: a brief (less than a year long, start to finish) long-ago war involving the many dragons who laired here (some dragons lingered even after the verdant lowlands that became Cormyr had been surrendered to humans, though the Cult of the Dragon has been energetically hunting them down) and a small colony of giants who came south from northern Thar as the flind and gnolls became just too numerous to withstand any longer.

The giants found goblins in plenty dwelling in the clefts and gullies of the Stonelands, and slaughtered them until the survivors were driven to the southernmost edge of the broken lands. The increasingly alarmed dragons who laired on peaks in the region (in an uneasy truce with each other) banded together to exterminate these invading giants, but found themselves hampered in purely physical battle by the broken terrain (it gave giants assaulting a dragon's lair too much cover).

The dragons turned to magic, and it's thought that either a chain of combined dragon spells went awry by mischance or miscasting, or at least one wyrm tried to subvert the magic to 'accidently' backlash through the lair of a rival.

In any event, the result was a great ricocheting series of magical explosions that brought down all of the peaks (there were a dozen at most, all of them riddled with caverns used as lairs by dragons) in shattered ruin onto the ravines below. Most of the dragons and many of the giants perished, and the goblins swarmed over the dazed, wounded giants who were left, exterminating them.

So the Stonelands were broken, rugged ravine country before the great magic felled the mountain peaks, but yes, there WAS a struggle involving dragons, giants, and goblins in the past, and "mountains" (actually just a few slender spires of rock soaring above the ridges) were hurled down.

I'm not so sure about "yet leaving space enough for the surviving armies to pass through and overrun the forested paradise so long enjoyed exclusively by the Giants and their kin." If by forested paradise you mean Cormyr, I don't recall any time when goblins completely overran it (there were these elves, and these hungry dragons raiding from the skies, to prevent any such thing) or giants exclusively enjoyed it. There are 'hanging valleys' (soil-filled large ravines between ridges) in the Stonelands that could have been described as "forested paradises" until the Zhents started energetically exploring the area, but they're awfully SMALL paradises (the largest is about six miles long, but only half a mile wide at best, and most are FAR smaller).

However, passing time and folktales can achieve wild distortions, and Mellomir of Arabel could well use such words and be entirely wrong about that but right about the dragon-giant battle. What say you?

So saith Ed.

Hmm; Sanishiver?

love to all,

Sanishiver, one element of Nemo has crept into the home Realms campaign Ed runs: when we Knights encounter officious guards, tax collectors, courtiers, and grasping merchants - -or Torm does something especially greedy - - some of us around the room will start to chirp: "Mine. Mine! Mine! Mine! MINE! MINE! MINE!" (and so on).



Febuary 10, 2005: Hello, all.

Oh, yes, Wooly. Lots. Usually classic comedies or farces, or Mae West-era vampish one-liners. As we say to visitors to our play sessions: Come prepared, or come to be scared.

Now to the business at hand. Ed answers Garen Thal about Meddling Mages:

As far as WotC is concerned, there is of course no "Meddling Mage Number Three," because the three too-similar Old Bearded Crotchety Guys are taken care of. Of COURSE wizards still enthusiastically "meddle in the affairs of rulers and adventurers." Even those mages who devote most of their time and attention to magical researches tend to want to control the surroundings immediately around their abodes, so they either erect a tower in the howling wilderness somewhere where they themselves are the ruler and defending army of their little holding, or they dictate to the nearby village and surrounding farms, usually in some sort of "I'll protect you against the next orc horde or marauding hobgoblin warband if you agree to XYZ" manner.

The mages we all hear about, of course, are those who enjoy using their power to force or manipulate those around them, often as part of secretive power groups. I don't think any one of these guys stands out as Meddling Mage Number Three in the 'Old Bearded Crotchety Guy' mold or public perception, if you discount rulers and thereby take Larloch and Szass Tam out of the running alongside those Seven Sisters who qualify. Mages like Maaril like to keep a low public profile because it keeps rulers from thinking they're so dangerous that they Really Have To Be Dealt With, Right Now, and helps them to scare everyone else by keeping mysterious, so any rumors they spread about themselves have full reign to flourish.

I have a number of candidates in mind for Number Three, but I'm going to keep them secret for now until I see what I can get the Books folks at WotC to let me publish. Otherwise, one can always fall back on Halaster, the Srinshee, Malchor Harpell... and that doesn't even look at Sembia, Silverymoon, Amn, or Tethyr's mages!

Geez, Garen, you had to start him thinking along those lines, didn't you! Let me remind you that I have a character who's trying to stay ALIVE in Ed's home campaign; this doesn't help!

love to all,


Febuary 11, 2005: Hello, all. Herewith, Ed of the Greenwood makes reply to the tireless questor Dargoth:

Sorry, Dargoth, but Valigan Thirdborn is Eric's baby. Try asking him in the Questions to Eric L Boyd thread here in the Chamber of Sages, because I'm interested in knowing, too. :}

You asked earlier about Zhentarim (and Church of Bane) ranks and details, and I delayed replying in hopes that NDA prohibitions would be lifted, but they haven't been. So, for now: No Comment, I'm afraid.

Regarding the Witch-Lords, I'm afraid I can't say a single useful word about them at the present time. No indeedy. Not without screwing up something that will hopefully turn out to be lovely. You have read CORMYR: A NOVEL, right? And gleaned the tiny bit about the Witch-Lords therein?

As for your Chaond and Zenythri question, I'd say they've entered Faerūn in far smaller numbers over a much longer period of time, are widely scattered (hence, no regions specified for them), and have either 'blended in' with (Zenythri) or avoided (Chaond) other creatures of Faerūn and kept a lower profile than have most Aasimars and Tieflings. There's no other plausible explanation as to why "no one's noticed them until now" in Realmslore.

And yes, I'd say they've had small, individual 'impacts' on unfolding events in Faerūn - - as individuals rather than as an identified, noticed group, working to either build up rulers and authority or shatter law and its enforcement, according to their natures. I'd say this has gone on for less than a century, so sages haven't yet 'noticed' them much in historical terms (as groups, that is, as opposed to individuals).

If I was looking for groups of chaonds, I'd look in the Rat Hills, in Southbank Scornubel (the former Zirta), and in the broken lands near the Far Forest. Scattered individuals can be found in many lawless, wilderland places.

If I was looking for zenythris, I'd go to Everlund and to the Dragon Coast countryside around Starmantle, as well as peering into the ranks of domestic staff in monasteries dedicated to Helm, Torm, and other lawful deities. Again, scattered individuals can be found far more widely.

So saith Ed.

It's fascinating to note that quiet, keep-to-themselves women with bluish hair have been in Ed's "background crowd descriptions" since the earliest days of the Realms. And the Company of the Crazed Venturers met a "hulking, frog-like man" in the Rat Hills back in 1979! I wonder who Ed was channeling?

Were chaond and zenythri entirely Ed Bonny creations, and if so, were they 'imagined' right at the time the MM2 was being written?


One last thing, Dargoth: nope, none of us have ever bothered to recast our characters into 3rd edition stats. For one thing, our games are increasingly about roleplaying, plain and simple, not 'rules.' After all, if all players trust the DM enough, there's really no need for a lot of dicerolling and pointing out passages in rulebooks: it just doesn't matter what edition of D&D or even what game system is being used.

love to all,


Febuary 12, 2005: Hello, all. Housekeeping time again, wherein your faithful servant the Lady Hooded tries to deal with some of the 'easier' (it saith here!) questions posted here.

First, for Athenon: Ed was a trifle disappointed that the Q&A with Elminster vanished from last year's GenCon Indy roster, too. It's too early yet to know if he'll get to do it this year, but he'll certainly be asking.

Second, to Borch: Ed is 'hung up' on trying to find a Realmslore source for Lathtarl's Lantern that's stopping him cold on this oldest of outstanding Realmslore queries. As for Cloak Wood, he'll be getting to it soon, but I direct your attention in the meantime to Page 81 of the 2004 Candlekeep Questions for Ed thread, and the Raetheless Ed described there for Jerryd (as part of a multipart reply that continued into the first few pages of the 2005 thread), which is immediately south of Cloak Wood and mentions some monsters therein.

Third: to David Lįzaro: Ed will get to your festivities question when he can (it might take as long as a tenday), but warns that he can't, for NDA reasons, answer your 'druids nigh Neverwinter' question at all. Sorry.

Fourth: Mareka, Ed makes reply to your request for an exact definition of "Creator Race" herewith:

Hi, Mareka! Please forgive me if this answer sounds both exhaustive and simple. I'm not trying to treat you like an idiot, I'm trying to cover all bases properly, because you ask about a definition that people tend to leap past a little too quickly, in their eagerness to plunge into debate.

Well, when we speak of "Creator Races," we're like sages of Faerun: we're applying our own artificial category long after the fact to creatures and their activities in the dim past, and there's room for lots of debate and dispute about what critters qualify and what they did. The lovely Lady Hooded tells me there's an entire thread here at Candlekeep devoted to discussion of this topic [[THO note: "Creator Races" in the Sages of Realmslore section]], and these days the list usually shakes down to five races: the sarrukh (detailed in SERPENT KINGDOMS), the fey, the batrachi (an ampihibious race agreed by most sages to have evolved into locathath in the sea and dopplegangers on land), the aearee (an avian race), and humans.

There's been much debate about whether dragons are a Creator Race, or 'came from elsewhere' and were modified by the sarrukh into the wyrms we know today, and so on. (For an example of how fuzzy and therefore difficult this field of discourse can be, consult the "leShay" thread here at Candlekeep [[THO note: in the General Chat]].)

Which brings us to the two major parts of what MOST people mean when they speak of Creator Races: the races of creatures who were 'around at the beginning' (i.e. native to Toril), and that dominated (affecting other races, perhaps even deliberately, as the sarrukh are depicted as doing in SERPENT KINGDOMS). All races evolve over time (or stagnate and dwindle), so the Creator Races, as others, have altered over the 'Long March' of history.

However, no mortal of Faerun, and certainly no mortal in our real world, can be certain of the events and conditions befalling on Toril long, long ago. As various faiths give wildly different descriptions of "the Beginning of All Things," including some clergies who worship deities clearly recent arrivals in the Realms, it's clear that no deity can be trusted as a source (or if one does, that trust is by definition "faith," dealing with matters that can't be proven one way or another).

So none of us are really sure who the Creator Races are, but we generally mean "those critters as held sway at the beginning of Toril's history," and we think of them as native (as opposed to creatures who definitely 'arrived' from other planes and worlds). However, we can't be sure they're native: they could just be the first races to rush through portals or rifts as the planet Toril cooled sufficiently for life to survive. We just don't know.

However, if we can win past most of the argument about who is and who isn't a Creator Race, the term becomes a useful placeholder for 'the most senior dominant life-forms,' who had societies established on Faerun as, one after another, everybody else arrived.

Just to confuse things still further, it's clear that many humans and fey, to name just two of these so-called "Creator Races," DID come to the Realms from other places far more recently than 'the rest of' the fey and humans who were here earlier.

At one end of such Creator Race and 'Dawn of Time' discussions, we reach the futility of arguing "My god was here first!" / "No, MINE was!" (a debate that really has no practical real-world application in the present-day Realms), but at the other end, it can help Dungeon Masters flesh out and understand a clear arc of history that enables them to detail dungeons, magic items, old legends, and 'lost survivors from long ago, entombed in stasis' to make a great campaign that some of them hope won't be contradicted by later revelations about "who was here first."

In the original, 'home' Realms campaign (still going today, whenever the Lady Hooded and I can drag enough of the rest of our merrie band together), I've always been as deliberately fuzzy as I can about such things, because I'm always roleplaying NPCs the PCs have to consult about such matters (and really, what does it matter if a sarrukh 'made' black dragons, or black dragons evolved on their own, or black dragons flew through a planar rift some day, if that genesis happened a thousand thousand THOUSAND years ago?).

However, in general, most people do mean 'native to Toril and here first, but more important than plankton or ants or creeping lichen' when they use the term 'Creator Race.'

Whew. Thank you, Professor Greenwood. (Actually Professor Greenwood is Ed's dad - - oops, I suppose that should be "Professor Emeritus Greenwood," these days.) I'd say that is very much THAT.

love to all,


Febuary 13, 2005: Hello, all. Ed makes reply to Gerath Hoan:

Hi, Gerath. Hesperdan and Eirhaun both appear in HAND OF FIRE, the third and last book in the Shandril's Saga trilogy, which should see print in mass market paperback form this April, I believe. Both of them also appear in my short story "How Wisdom Came To The Maimed Wizard," which was published on the WotC website and will PROBABLY appear in THE BEST OF THE REALMS BOOK II: THE STORIES OF ED GREENWOOD, a WotC mass market paperback to be published in July (if recent history is any guide, it might actually show up in bookstores during the last week of June), ISBN 0-7869-3760-2 (or if you prefer the new thirteen digit ISBNs, 978-0-7869-3760-8). Once you read that latter story, you'll be able to guess why I can't say more about their present situation just now.

And yes, I'd certainly say that one of the early Manshoons (even when there "was only one," his 'cloning around' was such that he'd died several times over, so none of those we know now are even close to the original) is still lurking, and working with certain powerful Zhentarim wizards to bring about Fzoul's eventual downfall (and most of the rest of the priests, so the wizards end up 'on top' again), only VERY subtly this time, so that once Fzoul and his fellow priests notice something is wrong, the slow process will have reached the 'inevitable' stage. We'll all just have to see if they ever succeed. :}

Mmm-hmmm. So saith Ed, indeed.

love to all,


Febuary 14, 2005: Hello, all. Settle back in your seats as Ed goes another round with Jerryd (split into parts as before, due to post size limits):

Hi, Jerryd. Okay, here we go. :}

As before, I'll go through your post in order, responding where I see need. And as before, most of my comments apply to Vangey before the events that occurred at the end of ELMINSTER'S DAUGHTER. As you read this (and by "you" I mean Jerry, Alaundo, and every scribe whose eyes fall upon these posts) PLEASE understand that I'm not angry, and I don't mean to be rude or stir up any animosity. I'm just pulling no punches so that my views will be as clear as I can make them.

You posted: "In summary, what you're trying to say is that the War Wizards operate BOTH with standing orders AND with Vangey's micromanaging."


You continue: "That's what I was trying to take issue with, because I don't think it's possible to really and truly do both: the more you have of one, the NECESSARILY less you have of the other. If you're trying to shoot for some middle ground, what you end up with is a grayish mess that is neither truly "standing orders" nor truly "micromanaging.""

Of course you can do both. All modern armies do just that: they operate on standing orders modified by micromanaging. Micromanaging is precisely what officers DO (there's no difference between Vangey barking an order or a Marine Corps sergeant barking an order: both are micromanaging, by definition).

As for 'the more of one, the less of the other,' agreed, and yes, you do end up with a grayish mess.

That grayish mess is the key to the success of the Realms over the years, what makes it seem more real than some other fantasy settings, and gives it more room for 'life' (choices for players and DMs and PCs). You grant that point, but want it only to occur in-game, and disagree that game lore intended for DMs or players should reflect it.

Here (although I understand and fully sympathize with your view; who doesn't want to get all the insider information, and be able to trust every word?) I fundamentally disagree, and the Realms has reflected my viewpoint (that things are NEVER as clear-cut, simple, and black-and-white as we would wish them to be) since before there was a D&D game. If things are absolutes, clean and clear and simple (in a fantasy roleplaying setting only, not in historical battle simulations or board games), there's very little room left for adventure and PC strivings, and less thrill of discovery for players. The example I've given many, many times over the years at GenCon and in DRAGON is the difference between "There are six orcs in the ruined keep, and their hit points are..." versus "Elminster says there're persistent local rumors of orcs lurking around the old ruined keep." The former is a useful but boringly lifeless dungeon key description that tells players precisely what they'll be facing if they get to read the adventure and the DM doesn't do a lot of revising, and the latter is an idea-sparking suggestion that players can't rely on the DM sticking to, precisely. One kills adventure and the other fosters it.

This plays into my comments to you about standing orders and rules of engagement being modern terms. You posted: "Well, the specific phrases are undeniably modern, but I truly believe the concepts underlying the phraseology goes as far back as people have organized themselves and are not strictly modern concepts."

Quite possibly true, though neither of us have any way of knowing for sure (certain Roman legion records are the ONLY reliable and fairly complete historical documents that provide real-world data for us to go on, almost everything else being clearly written by those with a stake in flattering or vilifying a war leader, ruler, or general, whilst describing military activities 'after the fact'). However, you miss my point. My point was that the very act of using those modern terms tends to channel and colour the thinking of persons using them (viz the old saw: "To a man with a hammer, every problem starts to look like a nail"). There's a danger of unconsciously using what you understand about modern (for example) Orders of the Day or debriefings and applying it to, say, the ancient Romans without keeping in mind that their situations were FAR different (most of the later Roman Empire battles were fought with 'Roman' forces largely made up of auxiliaries who didn't even share a language with any legions they may have been fighting alongside, and both the soldiers of the legions and the auxiliaries were illiterate, or had rudimentary reading and writing skills on the legion side only. So there was often lousy battlefield communications and discipline.) It's all too easy to use real-world examples and unconsciously apply modern-day mindsets. THAT was my point.

We then turn to: "I've seen next to nothing about how Vangey gets on with Khelben. Do they get along well, given they have similar outlooks? Do they dislike each other because they are too much alike? Or do they generally not have any interaction at all?"

They generally don't have much interaction at all. Khelben is too busy to put in personal appearances where he doesn't have to, and he regards Cormyr as a stable kingdom under the constant scrutiny of Harpers he trusts, most of whom report to certain of the Seven (such as Storm) whom he might not always agree with in methods and aims, but whose 'hearts he knows are in the right place.'

Yes, they are VERY much alike in operating style. To the extent that Khelben thinks about Vangey, he considers him right-headed (and to be supported, as far preferable to any alternatives for Cormyr) but foolish in that his reach far outstretches his grasp. In other words, Vangerdahast is a fool for trying to do a too-large job in a way that even a Chosen would have difficulties managing, when he has nowhere near the skills and powers of a Chosen.

That's one of the reasons various Harpers have covertly 'helped' Vangey, down the years, by frustrating treason-plotting nobles, rendering the sort of aid Storm does in STORMLIGHT, and so on. And, that, in turn, is one of the reasons Vangey's entire house of cards didn't come crashing down: too many people desperately wanted him to succeed, and go on succeeding, because they didn't want a Zhent-subverted extension of Sembia flooding through what used to be Cormyr (followed by Sembia rolling up and swallowing the Dales, one after another, and then - - after the inevitable bloody war - - serving Westgate the same way, before the inevitable collapse of Sembia into civil war between various 'merchant barons').

So saith Ed.

End of Part One, and all that. BTW, Jerryd, in Ed's example of the "six orcs in the ruined keep." above, remember that when Ed started presenting the Realms in print there was no Internet, no d20 field and VERY few regularly-published magazines that consistently dealt with fantasy roleplaying games. So darn near EVERYBODY (players and DMs alike) who could get "The Dragon" read it, every month, and there was no way to communicate lore to a DM that his or her players couldn't also get to read.


Hello again. Part Two of Ed responding to Jerryd:

You then posted, about the inevitable failure of what Vangey was trying to do: "Sure, lots of people refuse to accept reality, but for 64 years? That's a bit long for Vangey to refuse to accept it, isn't it? Reality normally starts slapping people around who evade it far sooner than that. Reality's a bitch that way. I think that is a big part of my problem, that you're portraying him as taking so long to get around to realizing that. He should have started having rude wake-up calls far sooner than 64 years. To have evaded the truth for so long speaks very negatively to both Vangey's intelligence and wisdom. Someone with a modicum of both should have realized it far sooner."

I disagree strongly. You seem here to be discarding the entire realm of Cormyr, as portrayed in print thus far (a portrayal that's very probably the very same thing that has made you a self-professed Cormyr fan). One of the more shining places to live in the Realms - - thanks in large part, in recent years, to Vangey.

The point is that Vangey was succeeding (albeit often with the covert aid I referred to earlier in my post [[note from THO: Part One, above]]) for most of that time, so reality WASN'T 'slapping him around' all that much. He was taking Cormyr to new heights, making it a strong and respected realm, and reshaping it continuously in fine detail to be closer and closer to what he wanted.

You proceed from your own conclusion that micromanagers MUST ultimately fail (which I agreed to) to a subsequent conclusion that Vangey being a micromanager should have failed faster than he did (your own personal opinion, supported by nothing so far as I can see), and therefore conclude he must have been deluding himself about his own lack of failure, and therefore conclude that his intelligence and wisdom are sadly lacking. I see this as a chain built on thin air of your own assumptions.

First: Vangey wasn't unaware of some of the meddling going on (the 'covert aid'). As previously alluded to, it's one of the reasons behind his break with Elminster. Secondly, Vangey's a VERY shrewd judge of people, one of the reasons he succeeded as long as he did (he could correctly anticipate the reactions or 'buttons' of most folk he had to deal with, and so manipulate them), and he could see how effective he was being in reshaping the realm: VERY effective. So reality was caressing him, not slapping him, for most of that time. He was getting results, so why not continue? And why not think he was the 'right man, at the right time, doing the right thing'?

You go on to post: "Cormyr has a 13 centuries of history behind it, and the War Wizards probably only a handful of centuries less than that (from no later than Draxius' reign up to Salember's regency), that should inform and affect how the War Wizards institution currently works."

It SHOULD, but as Garen Thal and I have already pointed out to you, it doesn't, because the War Wizards were (and had to be) entirely remade by Vangey. If we accept your argument here, then the 'little cabals of fiercely independent mages, all doing just what they liked in the name of defending Cormyr' that Vangey inherited are the War Wizards we should have today, NOT the organized, hierarchical War Wizards you envisage.

So even accepting your logic ("it seems you want us to consider the War Wizards under Vangey's own command as an isolated thing completely separate from the prior history of the War Wizards, as if Vangey completely wiped the slate clean and started over totally from scratch without any referece to historical precedent at all. I'm not sure that would even be possible."), we'd have a bunch of vigilantes (and, inevitably, some bad apples) rampaging around the realm until they were all slain - - and we'd probably have a Cormyr today in which public mood would be fiercely against all wizards, and nobles able to covertly hire outlander mages would have succeeded in coups or independence attempts for lack of a Vangerdahast or any War Wizards AT ALL.

Part way through this argument, you posted: "And I believe Vangey is a native Cormyrean, from statements that the Eveningstar area was his playground as a boy."

Correct. However, I disagree that "The relatively higher degree of organization/hierarchy/order as how things should and do work implied by that unbroken 1300 year history should have been nearly indelibly ingrained into Vangey's psyche and should have affected how he approached his reorganization. For him to so completely discard that culturally-ingrained sense of organization and hierarchy in his revamping of the War Wizards in 1306 would be nothing less than completely revolutionary."

Ahem. Jerry, WHAT "culturally-ingrained sense of organization?" Again, you begin with an assumption and then use it to justify subsequent conclusions. The only thing ingrained in almost all native-reared Cormyreans are the seasons, obeying Purple Dragons and royal law, and the natural and societal 'rules' of farming (I say 'almost all' because some of the urban-dwellers have local city feuds and customs in place of understanding details of farming).

You also seem to conveniently forget what Jeff and I wrote in CORMYR: A NOVEL (arguably the only reliable and comprehensive 'original source' that can be quoted in any discussion of the history of Cormyr, except for, ahem, ME), which shows us, again and again, how the role of the monarch and his royal wizard and the War Wizards have CHANGED, time and time again and usually forcibly, down the years. Do you recall my 'Cormyte Bold' ballad? The whole point of that was a defiant commoner saying 'no matter what changes go on at Court, I'm still here and I'm still the heart of Cormyr!'

You post that "Such a revolutionary out-of-the-box approach seems out of character for Vangey. He might be brilliant and innovative in his Art, but he strikes me as relatively conventional and orderly (as befitting his Lawful alignment) in his overall worldview and not a revolutionary in any sense of the word."

Darned right. Vangey wants stability and peace in the realm. He wants laws and adherence to them and confidence and prosperity. So he sets about ordering things in Cormyr the way he wants them to be, with the War Wizards deliberately as his 'ace in the hole' right-hand men and women to use in situations to quell opposition, where laws and rights and customs will get in the way of establishing the rule and order he wants to establish. There's nothing "revolutionary" in that. (One can even argue that in running the War Wizards as his own private fiefdom, Vangerdahast is merely following the tradition established by Luthax!)

Or is any real-world country that has a 'Secret Service' or any sort of intelligence-gathering organization being "revolutionary"? In what sense of the four or so meanings I know for this word are you using 'revolutionary,' here?

And with that question from Ed, I end Part Two.


Hello. Herewith, Part Three of Ed's reply to Jerryd:

I'm going to skip over your counter-arguments about breaking and loose cannons and initative, because I see continuing this particular side-debate as futile. You're stating contentions about my earlier counter-arguments that if applied to real-world modern American military, for instance, would lead to a conclusion that no American military personnel can ever exhibit any initiative at all, because of their indoctrination (boot camp, basic training, call it what you will). I'm afraid I see the state we've reached here as argument for the sake of argument more than anything else.

Your quotation about Galados (ALL SCRIBES: WARNING: SPOILER FOR CORMYR: A NOVEL IN THIS PARAGRAPH ONLY) quite properly draws and examines two very reasonable conclusions, but is the truth is indeed that it was written (Galados was reassigned to get him out of the way, matching your first conclusion [although the characters onstage obviously jumped to the second conclusion, and Machiavelli-like, Vangey didn't disabuse them of it]), and got chopped in the editing. In the original text I wrote, Galados is sent to do some snooping on the other Bleths, to see how isolated our bad guy is or if all his kin are in on the plot, and does come racing in to help in that big battle at the end; the entire 'investigating the Bleths' subplot got dropped for lack of space.

I fully agree that "as published his fate is definitely a loose end that should be tied up and the way in which it is tied up will further reveal Vangey's character."

I'll pass over your comments on pranks (most of which seem to me to be seated in your ignoring the word "some" in my passage: "Pranks are one of the ways some brilliant minds stave off boredom"), and move to this posting of yours: "Perhaps you've known more micromanaging people in positions of authority than I, but I've never met a single micromanager who wouldn't actively try to quash the independence of those under him, or try to get rid of those he cound't break. That's part of why I'm having so much trouble believing in your portrayal of a meddlesome micromanager who still allows a significant amount of independence and initiative from those under him."

I'm guessing most of your experience of micromanagers have been in military or corporate settings (where there's a hierarchy and codified authority). I've also worked with micromanagers in libraries (where accountability was less and incompetence sharply higher) and in creative situations (filmmaking, computer games, television work, et cetera) where the micromanager might fight like blazes to establish authority over his creatives, but didn't dare try to get rid of those whose independence he couldn't reign in, because unless he could isolate a lone creative as a 'troublemaker' before shoving them out, it would backfire on him eventually - - and usually backfire on him right away, because he desperately needed all of those independent creatives firing on all cylinders or the whole project would fail entirely or be done too late (and he, the micromanager, WOULD be blamed). [For "he" substitute "she" in the above few lines, in many instances.]

I see the War Wizards as closer to creative game designers or actors or brilliant camera-men than they are to office drones or enlisted military, and Vangey as closer to the micromanager in the second situation (who knows his underlings are there because of their skills [spellcasting] and are intrinsically valuable), than he is to the first sort of micromanager, who tends to think of underlings as replaceable and hence expendable if they give him any trouble.

You go on to post, about multitasking and War Wizards having task-based authority: "The highly-intelligent one-track-mind people would be good sages or academic types but not-so-good war wizards. Is that it?"


And then you add: "At any rate, this flipping-back-and-forth structure of authority (I'm his boss, then he's my boss, then I'm his boss again) is not something I'm at all comfortable with, and not something I'd associate with any "lawfully aligned" person or institution."

I'm sorry if you're not comfortable with it, because it's now the rule in many large multinational corporations, rather than the exception (it may be just a fad, but that's neither here nor there in the present context). It's an alternative method of organization to the strict hierarchy, just as the so-called "Japanese management" style and the Native American (North American Aboriginal, if you will) "consensus" governing and sentencing customs are alternatives to rank hierarchies. The point is, these alternatives work, exist in the real world, and in some cases have worked and existed for centuries; they're just as valid as a rank hierarchy.

You seem to see a rank hierarchy as the only sort of organization the War Wizards can have, not just to be effective, but to avoid collapsing, and I disagree.

The next part of your post astonished me. The 'table game' of ancient India and Persia has in most of the last century, in the Western world, been called "Kim's game" after the classic Rudyard Kipling novel KIM, wherein it's one of the training methods through which the eponymous character Kim is trained as a spy. It's been used in Sandhurst British officer training exercises (and of course in the Canadian offshoots, such as RMC) for decades, and also at West Point. I suppose the mindset that went with American independence from England caused it to be shorn of its British name. Variants of it are still used today (usually not with a table and little objects, but by officers-in-training being walked through a house, factory, night battlefield, or other setting, and debriefed afterwards on details of what they saw and heard).

The instructors obviously hold the same view as I do, in disagreeing with you: it's not a humiliating time-waster, but a way of training the mind to handle and hold more things at once. Such as my task-based varying War Wizard hierarchies (For Task A, Wizard One takes orders from Wizard Two, but in the team handling Task B, the same Wizard Two is subservient to Wizard One), as aforementioned. The very sort of thing (ahem) you say you find accepting or working with difficult.

You then post some very weak assertions that giving members of a mission team different orders inevitably leads to a "Keystone Kops situation" that I still disagree with, after we've been over this ground three times, and will continue to disagree with. (To use a real-world example, it was the prevalent custom in World War II for members of Allied commando teams to have different orders, kept secret from other members. For one thing, if one member of a team was captured and tortured, he COULDN'T give away much about what other members may have fled or headed to, and what their specific objectives might be. So your 'every mission will be a laughing-stock joke failure assertion' fails.)

I say again, Jerry: from my point of view it seems you see a rank-based hierarchy as The Only Way for any organization to be effective, and anything else is doomed to inefficiency and failure. That's your opinion, not necessarily fact.

I, as the creator of Cormyr and Vangerdahast and the War Wizards, am patiently telling you how and what the War Wizards are, and you're refusing to accept my descriptions of any of them.

This rather leaves us at an impasse. Except, of course, that WotC will be publishing some short stories this year and a novel next year, from my pen, that will continue to unfold details of the War Wizards as I see them.

Frankly, I'm baffled by your inability to see or accept the War Wizards as I've described them to you. They're a fictional organization made up of fictional characters in a setting I created, that none of us (because our real world lacks the sort of "incantation-boom" magic postulated in the game) can ever really experience. I HAVE experienced organizations akin to what I've been telling you the War Wizards under Vangey are - - real-world organizations that have quite efficiently and effectively fulfilled goals and carried out tasks, whereas you (from your posted comments) have not.

I've never lived in a totalitarian state, communist society, or theocracy, either, but I can envisage the details of real-world examples that have been described to me, and have readily managed to convince myself that they really do exist or did exist. Why is it so hard for you to do the same?

And as with Part Two, I'm going to break at a question from Ed, and end Part Three here.

love to all,

Hello, all. Continuing Ed's response to Jerryd, with (ta-dah) Part Four:

You post: "Well, you did say that the war wizards were brilliant, independent and egotistical and without some form of control that sort of aggressive schoolyard behavior is what one would generally expect from a group of such individuals."

Really? Perhaps if the individuals in question were young, immature school kids, yes. Otherwise, no, I would NOT generally expect it. Again, I've had experience with librarians, large university academe situations, and brilliant entertainment-industry creatives - - and all of them (whilst covertly fighting amongst themselves quite a bit) adhered to generally-accepted rules of their professions and situations. Haven't you been exposed to the sort of backbiting that often dominates college-level professors and instructors? They follow rules, and yet furiously and often tirelessly wage war for influence over each other (undermining authority). Moreover, they often (in, to just pluck examples out of my memories, faculty task groups, university-level task forces and focus groups, fundraising groups, and steering committees) have task-based authority that varies for each individual according to the task (fictional example: Dr. Blob is my department head, but we serve together on the Faculty Standards committee, of which I am chair and he the most junior member). This happens ALL the time and is quite widespread. It's been going on for centuries, if one includes the English universities, and on the North American continent for as long as Canada and the United States have had universities; it's not some fancy of mine.

To me, our entire debate about how the War Wizards are organized feels as if you are from a society that drives cars and I'm explaining to you that once upon a time, before widespread roads, lots of travel across this land was by canoe or raft, along rivers - - and you, because of your familiarity with cars, refuse to believe that canoes or rafts can exist or ever did exist.

This is borne out, in my view, by my contention that you're continually cleaving to a command structure akin to the modern American military, and your posted response: "Sigh. No, like *any* well-organized institution throughout history."

I guess (and yes, it's only my guess) that viewpoint goes along with your preference for no gray, only clear-cut black and white: you see history in such terms, too. You are either refusing to see that there are alternatives to a rank hierarchy among well-organized institutions throughout history, or defining "well-organized" so as to exclude any type of organization except strict rank hierarchy.

You went on to post parallels between the modern American military and the ancient Roman (military, I presume), and said this: "You could claim just as easily and validly - perhaps moreso - that I'm being anachronistic by trying to model Cormyr's defense institutions on ancient Rome rather than a medieval model."

You are? This truly astonishes me, because NOTHING in Cormyr's military as officially published anywhere thus far closely resembles the wide variety of historical Roman military structures. Not battlefield tactics, not armament, not reporting customs or provisioning, not combined arms - - nothing. I groaned my way through in-depth military studies of Roman legions in two grades of high school and again in university (and had an uncle who was a world authority on such things, and used to cheerfully pick holes in what I was taught; on one memorable visit, he even set up a sandtable wargame to show me how things went at a particular battle, in defiance of what my prof had said on the subject), and believe me, I was trying to avoid all parallels and even echoes!

You then post: "Historically speaking, though, nearly all secret police organizations have had command structures that were just as hierarchical and rigid as any military force."

Ahem, who taught you this? We have no reliable way of knowing enough details about the older historical secret police organizations to say so, one way or the other - - and of the twentieth century ones, rigid hierarchical command structures have been the on-paper exception rather than the daily reality. The dominant tendency in all of them has been for 'strong men' to set up personally-loyal internal groups and fight for influence and authority against others within the organization, so even when there's a formal hierarchy, the organization doesn't work that way 'on the ground.' This is something I've studied extensively, heard much about while growing up (my dad was a high muckety-muck in both NATO and NORAD), and have friends actively engaged in, and your sentence above just plain Ain't True.

So saith Ed.

Here I can chime in, thanks to my own professional background: Ed's right about the secret police organizations. Really. So endeth Parte Ye Fourthe.


Hello again, all. Part Five of Ed's response to Jerryd:

I'm now going to skip over a lot of rehashing of points we've argued about before, to these posted words of yours, about the War Wizards: "True, they don't normally gather to fight large set-piece battles. Leadership is just as necessary at the tactical scale as the strategic, though. To return to Kentinal's police investigation analogy, just ask any SWAT team how they'd fare without a leader or method of coordinating a plan."

I don't have to, because this is another straw man. I've never said a War Wizard task group (or a SWAT team, for that matter) have no leader nor plan. I was disputing the need for a hierarchy beyond leader and second-in-command, in such a small number of trained individuals (usually seven or less): if both the leader and the second go down, it's every man for himself and back to the standing orders, which are almost always: SOMEONE has to get out alive, to report back to Vangey what's happened.

I drew a comparison with most D&D groups (players not wanting a hierarchy beyond much more than the top two leader types), and you responded that it didn't match yours, saying: "My experience with D&D adventuring groups must be highly atypical, then, if what you say of the vast majority is true. Part of that might be that almost all of the different campaigns/settings I've played in have been with the same set of players..."

Aha. Almost assuredly so. Whereas I'm speaking of a great variety of players, all over the world at conventions from England to Sweden to Australia, over more than two decades now - - even in GenCon competitive tournament situations where establishing a strict hierarchy might have been of great benefit to the players involved.

Even then, you go on to post: "I do think a second-in-command and third-in-command should be specified, but probably not the entire group lineup all the way down to 6th-in-charge or more because once the top three people are down the entire mission is usually so irretrievably screwed anyway that the only thing left to do is to break off and get out."

EXACTLY my point (for the War Wizards). We agree here.

You then post a valid distinction between individual and institutional competence, but set up yet another straw man: "When I say that a War Wizards institution lacking any organization would be incompetent, it is just flat-out wrong and invalid to draw from that the conclusion that I'm calling any individual war wizard incompetent."

I wasn't drawing that conclusion, because we haven't been talking about the War Wizards "lacking any organization." We've been talking about the War Wizards and you've been refusing to accept anything but a strict rank hierarchy as "organization."

You continue this straw man throughout the next part of the post (stating my point about the various organizations in Cormyrean society counterbalancing each other is irrelevant) by posting these passages: "Just because one or two institutions are highly organized and hierarchized does not at all mean that a third institution can still be effective while being disorganized."

and: "Now, you may dispute my contention that any large institution of several hundred members (like the War Wizards) needs to be organized in order to be effective,"

and: "The War Wizards must either have sufficient organization of its own to be effective or fail to be effective."

Again, you are only accepting a rank hierarchy as being "organized," and calling my alternative "disorganized." I entirely agree with the your contention in the second passage I've quoted above, and also with your entire third passage - - but I DON'T agree that the War Wizards are disorganized. Nor do I disagree with this: "In the magical world of Faerūn, though, we need an effective force of wizards in addition to the conventional military to protect the metaphorical House of Cormyr from being looted or burned down, and that is the role the War Wizards play. It has been my contention all along that no institution comprising several hundred individuals can be effective *as an institution* without a reasonable degree of organization regardless of whatever the individual competencies of the members might be."

Again, I reject your judgement that if the War Wizards don't have set ranks (with clearly-defined powers, in a rigid hierarchy) they're not "organized," and can't possibly be "effective."

You went on to post: "If the War Wizards are not *institutionally* effective, then they fail to be any sort of credible deterrent."

I have to agree with Blueblade's post here. I can think of many, many real-world examples where the fearsome reputations established by, or built up around, individuals or groups (sometimes even mythical groups) have proved to be a very effective deterrent to all sorts of people. If you're speaking in the sense of "the War Wizards have to have a track record of effectiveness in order to sufficiently impress Sembia and other potential foes of Cormyr who can muster military might into not attacking Cormyr," I partially agree. Partially in that I'd amend my sentence to replace 'track record' with 'reputation.' Yet they DO have a recent-decades reputation for effectiveness, thanks to Vangerdahast's successes. Of course, you're unwilling to accept those successes, and therefore must conclude that the 'Keystone Kops War Wizards' must be a laughing-stock around the Realms - - but strangely enough, there's no trace of that in published Realmslore. Therefore the War Wizards AREN'T Keystone Kops, and therefore Vangey must have enjoyed considerable success. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

... And a good five-cent woman is a-- Ahem. Enough mangling of old sayings.

The above text was Ed, and this down here is THO, signing off Part Five (for post size limitation reasons).

love to all!

Hello, again. THO here with Part Six of Ed's response to Jerryd:

You then post an opinion about Vangerdahast ("He may not want the crown or the title, but when he is putting what his personal vision of Cormyr first (even above the vision of Azoun), he is taking kingship upon himself de facto if not de jure. Personally, I would say that he DOES think he's effectively king if he takes on that executive power, even if he doesn't want the crown or title or the notoriety that goes with them. Saying that he doesn't want to be top dog rings hollow when you say he's taken upon himself the effective power of the top dog.") that tells me your have a far different understanding of power, and of personal ethical wrestlings over it, than I do. Why does it ring so hollow, exactly? Have you never heard of the Reluctant Ruler archetype? Of the American political axiom that "The best presidents are the men who DON'T want the job"?

You went on to conclude that Vangey is a hypocrite. Correct.

However, you then seemed to ignore the essential part of my earlier reply to you: "I'm NOT saying Vangey saw himself as a rightful ruler of Cormyr in any sense. He saw himself as the man best suited to rule, and tried to make Azoun IV better and better suited to rule, and at the same time worked to ensure that Azoun made the "right" decisions and gave the "right" decrees. "Right" in this case being what Vangey saw as right, of course. Vangerdahast saw himself as the TRUE ruler but not the RIGHTFUL ruler. In other words, it was his daily job to rule Cormyr from behind the scenes, and not get caught at it." to conclude: "This is confirmation that Vangey thinks of himself as the king de facto but not de jure - he readily enough assumes the power, just eschews the title, paraphenalia and acclaim."

Read my words again. You seem to want to paint Vangey as a Great Villain because he dared to think of himself as the right man for the realm. I'm trying to point out that he saw Azoun IV as incompetent, but almost competent, and that it was his (Vangey's) job to build him into a superb king while running the realm in the meantime, and that he neither deserved nor wanted the trappings of power. Because for him it wasn't about being 'top dog,' it was about being the best dog on the spot to do the job that had to be done. I'm not saying Vangey's performance was any more noble than a gangland boss, but his motives certainly were. Thus his essential tragedy: does the end justify the means?

By your statements, clearly not. That's fine, and a perfectly valid view. For my purposes, I want to leave that judgement open to all Realms fans, to reach their personal conclusion.

In your post, having thus judged Vangey, you dismiss the matter (and my depiction of Cormyr as a fairly nice place to live) as outside the scope of your focus on the War Wizards, a contention I also disagree with. You can't have it both ways. I'm telling you how Vangey (largely through use of the War Wizards as his 'many reaching arms') made Cormyr the bright shining place we both love, and you're dismissing that whole subject because it doesn't fit your 'the War Wizards must be ineffective if portrayed your way, Ed' argument.

You then post: "It sounds to me in effect that, rather than attaching war wizards to regiments then let the regimental commander handle the details of mounting patrols and notifying the war wizards attached to the regiment (as I proposed), that Vangey himself would have to personally keep track of the patrol schedules of every garrison around the realm and personally attach war wizards to specific patrols as he desired."

Unfortunately for the argument you go on to make, you've got it wrong here (and I can't for the life of me look at my words, that you directly quoted in reference to this comment, and see how you can honestly draw the conclusion you did). Except that you seem to be refusing to allow War Wizards any initiative or judgement of their own, AND refusing to accept that they can have standing orders as well as Vangey's subsequent micromanagement, and so posit this situation where they stand like lifeless, immobile robots unless someone (Vangey or any "regimental commander") is giving them orders.

Let's look at an 'attachment' of a War Wizard. Tharantal, a senior War Wizard, comes to young Ravinthar at High Horn and says, "No spellhurling practise for you this day. Orders from the Old Man: you're to get to Immersea forthwith, find a lionar hight Ondabran Thale, and stick with him. Take no orders from any Purple Dragons, and when they ask why the gods you're there, just say 'Vangerdahast,' and smile. Watch for anyone slipping off from barracks, or trying to bury or hide anything - - and report back to me after nightfall. Pay no attention to high-ranking Dragons - - stick with Thale, no matter what. If he goes running off into the forest, so do you."

I fail to see how any of this overstresses Vangey, who's using Tharantal as his go-between. You can be sure that if Ravinthar sees a great danger to the realm (a flight of dragons, say) he'll report in just as fast as possible - - not only are there standing orders to that effect, but he's got a brain of his own, and loves Cormyr just as much as the next man.

So why, exactly, do you have such a hard time accepting this view of things?

Another question from Ed, and a good one, I think. *I* understand it quite readily, Jerry, and as someone with a considerable background in intelligence, think it rings true (or rather, as true as any imaginary fantasy kingdom can). So I'm going to echo Ed here: why can't you?

Anyway, so endeth Part Six. Stay tuned, all for Seven!

love to all,

Hello, all. Ed continues to respond to Jerryd (this being Part Seven):

You go on to comment that: "it does sound to me like they would definitely be regarded as loose cannons by any Purple Dragon officer whose patrol they happened to be tagging along with. From a viewpoint of a commanding officer in the field, I sure as hell wouldn't want anyone anywhere near me or my men who was not under my authority, because people who are right next to me but free to do what they want because they have orders or agendas different from mine are more than likely going to get my men killed needlessly. I can't imagine any such field commander being anything but resentful of such tagalongs out of his control. That resent will be reflected with the typical disdain spellcasters have for "swordbrains", of course, so the working relationship is going to be poor and any situation requiring them to support each other will have the potential for disaster."

True, if you're speaking of green Purple Dragon officers who've been parachuted in from another planet and have no background knowledge of Cormyr. Anyone else knows better, because they've been told and shown just how useful and capable War Wizards have been on many occasions in the past. Human nature will of course lead to some Purple Dragons hating, resenting, fearing, or wanting to impress War Wizards they end up serving alongside (I had great fun writing an as-yet-unpublished short story wherein some grizzled grunts had to teach some hard reality to a young, impulsive, good-looking female War Wizard who suddenly appeared at their elbows in a battle, and wouldn't leave - - but she in turn impressed them, and ultimately saved some of their butts, with her unexpected courage, earning their full acceptance), but things are by no means as bleak as you paint them. You end with this comment: "It's a hell of a way to run an army!"

Perhaps, but it IS the Cormyrean way, because (that counterbalancing thing you dismissed, again) the realm isn't being ordered and its daily life prosecuted purely from a military-efficiency point of view. Just as the size, nature, and influence of militaries in any society is governed either by brute force (military running the country) or by that society's view of what their military should be and do. I often encounter this 'everything seen through military eyes' viewpoint among real-life career military, and the individuals holding it tend to be among the poorest military, because they don't understand, and don't want to understand, all of the factors at work in society (everything from pollution to the market economy to public mood to the effects of taxation: "the interconnectedness of all things"). But then, it's easier to blow something up or shoot someone down when you don't think or care about the water supply you've just fouled for thousands of people, or the families you've just shattered forever by slaughtering their loved ones. So some militaries pursue this 'dehumanizing' process deliberately.

You post: "whenever war wizards get attached to Purple Dragon units I would expect that specific order from Vangey to be a matter of course, a given, the way things are normally done. I would expect instances in which war wizards are attached to a Purple Dragon units yet not placed under command of the commanding officer of that unit for the duration of the mission to be quite rare and exceptional."

Correct, and I'd already said so. Again, the particular War Wizard in question will USUALLY be on hand as 'handy artillery' for the Purple Dragon commander to deploy as he sees fit - - but the commander will know from the outset that the War Wizard also has other orders, secret from him, that may cause the War Wizard to depart suddenly, or disagree as to a particular order ("Kill them all!" / "No," saith the War Wizard. "The Court Wizard decrees one must be kept alive for questioning!").

Yes, until the Purple Dragon commanders adjust their mindsets, it IS "going to lead to a poor working relationship between Purple Dragons and War Wizards." My point is that almost all of them already have (the exceptions usually being noble sons on their first command, who 'know' it but haven't really experienced it yet), because they've grown up in a land in which this holds true, and risen through the ranks under those working conditions. It's what they're used to.

You go on to make the point that War Wizards would be attached to Purple Dragon forces to provide magical support: "to provide what in modern terms would be signals, engineering, and artillery support. Now, imagine how things work work on a battlefield if these functions were not under the authority of the commanding officer. What would happen if signalmen could decide on their own what messages to send, or engineers could say "I have something better to do than helping you build a quick defensive fortification" or artillerymen could say "it better suits me to pulverize this hill over here rather than the one you're taking fire from." That would be an intolerable outrage in any battlefield situation."

Yes, but you're still looking at this purely from a top-down "command and control" viewpoint ("From a tactcal point of view, it's far better for there to be a unified command - one man giving the orders for how the battle will be conducted and not having to consult with people outside his authority"). As I keep telling you, War Wizards operate not just under specific orders from superiors, but also under standing orders - - and those standing orders will of course be to "do things the Dragon commander's way" except when his doing so conflicts with, yes, as you mention, "secret orders given him by Vangey which prevent him from giving the Purple Dragons the support they want."

You immediately conclude that "This is a recipe for defeat and disaster."

Sorry, Jerry, but protest that you're not operating from a modern American military viewpoint all you want - - it's obvious to me that you're still doing so. You seem to want to expect all militaries in the Realms to unconsciously know about, and strive to follow, modern theories of tactics, even though they inhabit a world in which magic works, strange beasties abound (and many of them ARE those strange beasties), and a vastly different level of technology and 'back history' hold sway.

You've earlier tried to justify this stance, and you do it again at this point in this post, by saying that your view of hierarchy and tactics is age-old and universal, not 'modern American' at all, which tells me either you haven't absorbed much tactical-level world military history or you had teachers who operated on a very narrow focus, distorting and omitting as they went. Anyone who can argue that there's a lot in common between Roman legion practises and modern military procedures is operating on a philosophical level that hasn't much to do with reality.

Your comment that "This is a recipe for defeat and disaster." only holds true, beyond a single-case basis, if Cormyr's forces aren't working well together but every opponent they face DOES have efficient, trusting combined arms taking the field against Cormyr. As I said in my last post, there's utterly no evidence in Realmslore that that's so, or has ever been so (the Witchlords had combined arms that were neither efficient nor trusting).

You then went on to illustrate, by rhetorical questioning, the feelings of "any" Purple Dragon field commander. All of these questions I agree with; of course said commander isn't going to be overly happy. But it's all he's got to work with AND it's what he's used to.

You went on to say what your personal reaction would be, and then told me not to label it "modern American" thinking, because "Army commanders have undoutbtedly felt this way about their supporting people for as long as there have been armies. I'm sure the legate commanding a Roman legion felt exactly the way I'm describing about those attached to support his legion."

Well, I'm not, because we don't have any evidence that any Roman legate grew up in a society dominated by friendly wizards he dwelt alongside, whose magic demonstrably worked very capably, and who reported directly to the most powerful man in the Empire. You're talking here about a general quite understandably being pissed off at auxiliaries or mercenaries or local musterings who are both unreliable and insubordinate, and as I don't seem to be able to get through to you: War Wizards AREN'T subordinate in the first place, and the Purple Dragon knows the extent of his authority over them at the outset. Unless he does something very stupid or treasonous, there are going to be no "battlefield surprises," because the War Wizards in question will have already told him: "Some of us will leave at nightfall" or "Don't send your men into yon ruined mill, and make sure no arrow nor flame enters it, either!" or "Vangey says you're not to send your men up into the Storm Horns." (Remember: Vangey's to be obeyed by Purple Dragons, too.)

So saith Ed, with a good point worth remembering at the end, there.

So endeth Part Seven, but keep to your saddles, scribes, because Part Eight's galloping up hard on the heels of this one.

love to all,

Hello again, all. Part Eight of Ed's reply to Jerryd:

You then post: "All right, so High Horn is just a secluded training ground, "Siberia" banishment location, and safe house for the War Wizards. It might have been easier if you had ever given some hint of this in published lore."

No, it's NOT "just" the little list you give. It's been a training ground for the Purple Dragons, and (as given in the old print Fonstad-penned FR Atlas) the former winter quarters for half Cormyr's army at one time. However, I grant that you and every other scribe trying to fill in the details of Cormyr is operating from frustratingly patchy lore. So am I, but my frustration is born of my inability to sneak enough lore about the Forest Kingdom into print, early enough, to present a proper picture. It's my hope that what I reveal here at Candlekeep can help do that (and a big part of the reason why I keep responding to you rather than just saying, "You've got the War Wizards all wrong, but write it up however you want for your campaign, and I'll just ignore it.").

You then attack my portrayal of Vangey: "All right, you admit he can't succeed at both....but then you turn around and portray him as succeeding at both." in a manner that I view as childishly unfair, because, in my view, you're willfully ignoring the actual words I posted (and that you quoted at these points). You go on to say that his behaviour makes him, by definition, a poor leader. Strangely enough, I don't disagree. He IS (and always has been) a poor leader. He's feared or respected more than loved, he doesn't inspire anyone to risk their lives, no woman wants him to show up at their cottage and father her sons, his smile won't sell toothpaste... yes, to all of that.

However, to go back to military history again, there are capable, successful commanders and there are great leaders, and the majority of one AREN'T also the other. I've never said that Vangey was a "great leader." He didn't have to be, because Azoun was (by the time Vangey was finished building him into one).

I agree with your disappointment over "the need to differentiate the three" having to happen, but I disagree that it was "done by making Vangey just as much a villain as a "good guy"." He was that way from the first, and the hints are there in published Realmslore from the very beginning. "That he had good ends does not excuse his villainous means." confirms to me your stated preference for clear-cut black-and-white situations and settings, but the Realms has never been about that: the Realms has always been about seeming real and alive by presenting characters who, with rare exceptions, are all "gray" mixtures of folks exhibiting some evil and some good. Just as in real life. That doesn't make them unsuitable heroes; the heroism comes from their choices. If you show me a shining innocent of a paladin, I won't accept him as a hero until he's built up an impressive list of accomplishments, because he hasn't done anything heroic: he's just followed his nature. It's like praising Lassie for being a dog.

However, show me someone tempted with power or riches or a throne or the mate he or she wants, but that they can only attain by murder, and then show me them turning away from that temptation because they see the way or cost AND CONSCIOUSLY REJECT IT, and THAT'S a hero.

The Hooded One has already ably answered your next question (about the Knights), and earlier [[note from THO: see Part Two of this post] I dealt with your contention that Vangey's "moment of self-honesty" was very belated.

Then you take issue with Vangey intending the War Wizards in part as a counter to the Purple Dragons, by deeming it "dangerous for Cormyr." You go on to say "specifically pitting one against the other as some kind of "counter" is very dangerous and counterproductive, not to mention wasteful of resources." I did NOT say that either was openly pitted against the other. The War Wizards covertly watch and work against any 'might makes right' or 'we know best' tendencies in the Purple Dragons (who are, remember, studded with nobles who just might have some private schemes for one day gaining a lot more power in the realm than they may personally have now... perhaps if 'accidents' befell all of the Obarskyrs, one after another, for instance; yes, Cormyr'd be much better off with better stock on the throne), to prevent elements of the Purple Dragon from ever staging a coup. You cited real-world examples of open rivalries here, missing much better real-world examples of how every Western country has agents within the ranks of its own military who report possible treason (or "sedition," or whatever it's locally called) to head off any thoughts of military takeover before an actual coup attempt erupts. You also portray the Purple Dragons as sitting in judgement on the War Wizards from above, resenting War Wizard activities, when you should be seeing the Purple Dragons as having in large part grown up in a situation where the War Wizards have this role, and therefore should accept it as the norm.

You then move on to post: "If Vangey acted on those hidden priorities enough, say in getting rid of this war wizard or shoving that war wizard off to the "Siberia" exile of High Horn or not giving the other war wizard some task he is otherwise obviously and eminently suited for, wouldn't the brilliant war wizards you described before eventually figure it out?"

Of course they would, but as I said in my earlier reply to you, Vangey HASN'T acted only on the basis of those hidden priorities. They were, remember, how he rated individual War Wizards and so selected who would undertake what missions - - and remember also that they included "demonstrated" loyalties; demonstrated by their actions during a mission, of course, so Vangey was continually testing War Wizards in this way, always moving them about and giving them new tasks. None of them below Laspeera really has the opportunity to stand back and deduce anything sinister about Vangey's motives beyond, "He certainly loves to test us, doesn't he?"

As for your next comment: Hmm, gotta write that 600 Musketeers novel someday. :}

Oooh, *I'd* love to read it. Write it just for us Knights, Ed, and we can read it at the cottage! Lots of swordplay, witty repartee, and lovemaking on tables. Ladies in their gowns, barefoot in their bedchambers, swording startled masked assassins who came in the windows expecting easy prey! Yes, yes, yes! Drag the Pope and some hidden code and the Nazis and a secret society or three in, and it'll be a New York Times bestseller! Why - -

[Slaps self. Again. Then stops before giving in to the temptation to settle down to enjoy the slapping.]

Ahem. Sorry about that. That was Part Eight of Ed's reply to Jerryd. Await, all, for Part Nine.

Hello again, all. Part Nine of Ed's response to Jerryd:

Continuing through your post, you then justify your attempts to give the War Wizards a hierarchical rank structure by saying that I give them military roles and even call them "War" wizards, so therefore you must give them a hierarchical rank structure because it's "suited to fulfilling what is definitely in part a military (or at least paramilitary) role." Yes, it is suited, but it's not the only way.

You go on to say that it's "The best and most effective means," and I agree.

However, it Ain't The Way Things Are.

You suggest that it may evolve into that with Caladnei in charge, and I agree with you here, too. It probably will.

! Yes, you read that correctly: it probably will. ! Why don't you charge right ahead and give us all suggestions of War Wizard ranks she might adopt, instead of wrangling with me about Vangerdahast's past? Seriously! I can't speak for Wizards as to what specifics they may or may not officially adopt, but it would be useful to many DMs, and those who prefer a rank structure for the War Wizards but don't want the events of DotD to have occurred, yet or ever, can easily use it for the War Wizards under Vangey.

You see, the published game-setting Realms has always been about providing gamers with the maximum of play possibilities. Having a ringside seat as the War Wizards (after taking a huge beating in DEATH OF THE DRAGON) change into a hierarchical organization is a LOT more interesting than encountering a cut-and-dried, ironclad, in-place-for-decades hierarchy.

As for the rating system you're using, I think we'd better just cast it aside.

You say you define "1 as no organization at all and a 10 as equivalent to the modern American military or government," and in that case (with you now adding "government" since you first introduced the scale into our discussion), I'd put the War Wizards as about a 12, and several organizations I've invested in or worked with up around 16 through 18. In other words, you're ranking the "modern American military or government" as the top in organization, whereas what I've learned from NATO exercises is that the American military have in many cases been very much out-organized by smaller forces from other countries that have always had to make do with less personnel and materiel (so I'd put the modern American military in the 12 to 14 range, depending on the sort of action we're discussing; they can easily go as high as 16, but fall sharply when trying to work with allies, who've suffered so many "friendly fire" casualties from Americans for so many years that a common NATO warning about approaching American units, in use for at least three decades that I personally know of, is "Heads down! Here come the cowboys!") and the American government, if I accept it as your 10, is actually among the most bloated and disorganized governments I've seen, with departments or sub-organizations often deliberately working against each other, and far more often duplicating and impeding each other in ignorance). [Note that I DIDN'T say that either the military or government were or are ineffective: on the contrary, they have far more energy, muscle, and resources (both financial and sheer size) than most others in the world today.]

As I doubt you'll accept this opinion of mine, I think it's best we just chuck the rating system.

You then express surprise that a foe hadn't exploited the potential of an impostor claiming to bear Vangey's orders during the 64 years of Vangey's tenure, because "Vangey is neither omnipresent nor omniscient." Again, you ignore standing orders and the ongoing intercommunications between various senior War Wizards (remember, only in the hierarchical command structure you propose are various ranks generally [as opposed to being specifically ordered not to speak about specific matters], forbidden to discuss things with each other). An impostor would almost certainly be discovered quickly, as has already happened at least twice in Realmsplay, once by the Knights of Myth Drannor, who weren't even furnished with the standing orders and other accumulated information a War Wizard has, to make them suspicious and give them easy means of 'testing' someone they suspect.

You went on to post: "I don't see the Red Wizards, Dragon Cultists, Zhents, Fire Knives, Baneites, etc. as trying to attack the War Wizards as a whole to destroy them in a large action, or the War Wizards as engaging in large-scale operations against any large scale invasion of those powers."


You add: "However, I was under the impression that individuals and small cells of these organizations were constantly at work within Cormyr, pursuing this plot or that plot, and that the War Wizards were thus constantly busy trying to spoil these plots."


You post: "If my impression is correct, then that means that the War Wizards are constantly suffering losses through attrition. This situation is not primarily one cell suffering heavy losses with other cells being relatively unscathed (although that does happen on occasion, e.g. the Sevensash investigative team), but is primarily ALL the various teams being attritted over time, and what compounds this is that a wizard of any real power is not easily replaceable."

Correct, so long as you lose the concept of set 'cells,' which is what most real-world resistance movements have, but the War Wizards don't: they have ever-shifting task groups, remember?

However, you then say: "I believe that an institution without an overall organization designed to smoothly keep going in the face of such losses (i.e. a designated chain of command to allow for continuity of leadership despite losses) would eventually be gutted piecemeal - one cell or team at a time - due to the attrition degrading the leadership and coordination of the war wizards."

As I've told you more than once before, the War Wizards DO have "an overall organization designed to smoothly keep going in the face of such losses." Vangey's fluid method is actually a much better way of "smoothly" dealing with ongoing combat losses than a rigid chain of command: a rank hierarchy system requires someone of sufficiently high rank to have the opportunity to take stock of losses and issue orders redeploying the surviving elements, and if this must be filtered through a long chain of command it takes much longer, whereas what really happens with the War Wizards is this:

"Lord Vangerdahast, sir?"

[suspiciously] "Who's that? You're using Thondran's crystal but you're not Thondran. Veldyn?"

[surprised] "Y-yes, sir. Veldyn. Thondran's dead: the dopplegangers WERE ready for us, Lord, and Thondran and Reskryn and Olburn all bought it. Sarathsa's hurt, badly, and I took her to the Morninglord's shrine. So it's just me and Balask, now. Thondran told us you wanted all the facetwists dead or tracked, and they're all dead but one. That one's hiding from us in the shape of a merchant's daughter--"


"Uh, Ilyarana Boldovan, sir. Eldest d--"

"Of Uthrikh Boldovan the wine merchant, yes. Tall, three moles on her forehead, snippy."

[astonished] "YES, Lord! She's--uh, the facetwist preten--"

"Yes, yes!"

"Ahum, heh, yes, lord. Anyway, IT'S inside her bedchamber now, in the corner turret you undoubtedly know about, and Blask and I are outside. What orders, lord?"

"Good, Veldyn, VERY good. Well done. Right, here's..."

And so on. The point is, Veldyn, despite being green, timid, and junior in the task group, knew what he was supposed to do, and did it, reporting in as soon as he needed additional instructions. This is typical of the War Wizards rather than being a fortunate exception - - and if a senior War Wizard not part of the group sees Veldyn and Balask carting wounded Sarathsa or lurking outside the Boldovan house, they'd report that in, too, perhaps (via Laspeera) stirring Vangey into sending a spell-message into Veldyn's head inquiring just what, by the Dancing Dragon of the realm, he was up to?

Ah, what a splendid illustration. Realmslore to clip and save, even for scribes who weary of this back and forth war of words here. So endeth Part Nine, but Jerryd's post isn't entirely dealt with yet, so Ed's not done yet, so Part Ten approacheth!

love to all,

Hello again, fellow scribes. Part Ten of Ed's reply to Jerryd:

You then ask: "Are you saying that the War Wizards are NOT constantly beset with any number of plots by individuals or small groups of those aforementioned evil organizations trying to achieve this end or that within Cormyr? Or that the War Wizards don't bother involving themselves unless those ends directly threaten the realm?"

No and no.

You post: "I personally would have thought that the war wizards would always seek to foil any plot of these powers within the borders of Cormyr, even if the plot had nothing to do with undermining the Forest Kingdom and was nothing more than finding some lost treasure hoard, given that Red Wizards, Zhents or Dragon Cultists would hardly openly seek an adventuring charter."

Almost correct. Not necessarily "always seek to foil;" in the case of the treasure hoard, the War Wizards would be more interested in watching and learning than they would be in pouncing on the intruders and taking the hoard for themselves or even for the realm. Sometimes letting the bad guys think they've gotten away with something is better than slamming the door in their faces. Please note that I said "sometimes."

Moving on to my example of successful micromanagers: "I guess you've never heard of Tito, then, or Mao, or Queen Victoria, or Elizabeth I, or Henry Ford for that matter."

You respond: "All of those examples aren't very good analogies to the War Wizards. All of those individuals were micromanagers, yes, but every one of them ALSO had extensive and highly-organized organizations operating under them (governments, or a large corporation in the case of Ford) that allowed them to achieve the success they enjoyed. You've said that the War Wizards aren't nearly that higly organized, so there's no comparison that can be made here."

No, Jerry, I've not said anything of the kind. You persist in refusing to accept the organization I'm telling you they possess as being "organized" at all. That's your error, not mine.

And I disagree entirely that the real-life people I mentioned aren't good analogies. Henry Ford BUILT the "extensive and highly-organized organizations operating under" him, just as Vangey did. In rising to become a dictator over his country, Tito took control of a secret service he was part of, just as Vangey took control of the War Wizards. Elizabeth I built a police force (under Robert Peel) and completely transformed the spy force she inherited to make it her own. Under Victoria's direct orders, several small-scope British intelligence departments were brought together into one, and made far more effective (as well as being given the additional duty of spying on the Foreign Office, to make sure Her Majesty's government wasn't sliding too far into corruption). So they're all, in various ways, good analogies. You're obviously operating with patchy historical knowledge here.

As Garen Thal posted after your last post, the organization of the War Wizards, historically, "depends entirely on the person at the top."

I think Garen Thal's analogy of a fraternal organization is, as he says, the best one. And I do indeed echo his sentiments, because I (as he) do see the War Wizards as operating very similarly to these organizations (Rotary, the Freemasons, Kinsmen, the Legion as it is in Canada [I'm not sufficiently familiar to the American counterpart to comment]). Jerry, I direct you to Garen's post: THAT's how the War Wizards under Vangerdahast should be depicted.

I also like Garen's portrayal of Vangey: "Vangerdahast is a hypocrite. And a liar. And probably a "murderer" (in that he killed those better left alive to rot in prison or somesuch). Vangey is the dark shadow that floats behind every bright crown, with blood on his hands, grief on his shoulders, and guilt on his soul to keep his king pure and his kingdom strong. Many are the kingmakers that live such lives, in his world and in ours."

Spot on. I see Vangey as beginning his career as eager and zealous, being hardened into a grimly practical veteran of Court intrigues and nobles' traps who slowly becomes obsessed with his vision of Cormyr at all costs, convinces himself that the end justifies all means, and then in the twilight of his years begins to mellow and admit three things: that there are now some things he WON'T do in the name of The Dream; that he's been wrong about a lot of things and in his deeds made many errors, not a few little 'so what' ones; and that he's overstepped the bounds of what's best for the realm while deluding himself that he wasn't, and that it's best if he remove himself from authority, in a manner least damaging to the realm (to avoid a power struggle, being as he came to his senses just before the war with the Devil Dragon and the loss of Azoun).

Can you accept this, Jerry? Or are we going to have to agree to disagree? Or trade posts again?

I see solid progress over our exchanges thus far, in that a lot more Realmslore has been laid out on the table and a lot of fuzzy areas and misunderstandings made plain. So I'm quite happy to continue, building a clearer War Wizards for us all. :}

So saith Ed, ending Part Ten and making it the last, for now.

Hurray! Whew! (And so on.) As always, any scribe who feels moved to do so should chime right in.

love to all,


Febuary 15, 2005: Hello, all. Ed makes partial reply to Foolish Owl.

Foolish Owl, you posted three questions, and (despite their being related, a judgement Ed agrees with) Ed has decided to quickly dispose of the first one and devote goodly time to (later, sorry, though it'll mean longer, better answers!) answering the other two.

Herewith, your Question One: "You've often talked about how the Chosen, elves, and so on have to come to terms with living among humans who they will outlive. How does it affect humans to know that there are other intelligent beings, elves and dwarves in particular, that will far outlive them?" In reply, Ed saith:

Remember that humans in Faerun grow up either not knowing or caring much about non-humans (beyond the "they're different from us, and elves are the tall, graceful, singing and sneering sorts whereas dwarves are the gruff, burly, mining-and-making-things rugged sorts" stereotypes), or knowing a lot more about demi-human longevity - - with, of course, some humans moving from the ignorant category to the more knowledgeable, as they live their lives.

The ignorant can, of course, be fed all sorts of wild tales, and will react to the ones they believe. Most humans who are the most hostile towards other races are, of course, those most ignorant of the other races.

Those humans 'in the know' don't suffer the shock WE real-world folks might, because they've grown up in a setting in which longer-lived beings than humans have always been around in great numbers, often living with humans. Moreover, humans who live and work daily in close contact with elves and half-elves (in Silverymoon, for example) or with dwarves ditto, tend to see them as individuals and accept them for who they are, so that knowing your friend the dwarf Thorokh will outlive your grandchildren, barring misadventure, doesn't really affect you at all: "That's the way of dwarves; always has been, always will be."

(With one exception: humans and demi-humans who come to love each other deeply, and form couples, sometimes even having children. As Tolkien showed us in the Aragorn and Arwen romance, this can be deeply sad, but undertaken anyway because of the glorious strength of love - - and every participant in such a relationship has to make their own decisions in dealing with the implications of "Mummy will die long before either of us, dear" and so on.)

However, it HAS had a racial effect on the character of humans, not realized (or thought about, for that matter) by most humans, an effect exacerbated by orc hordes (or rather, by humans learning from sage individuals that orcs breed like bunnies and generally live short, brutish lives and are quite aggressive as a result): Humans tend to act far more quickly than elves and dwarves, ignore or dismiss long-term consequences, exhibit more impatience, and want immediate rewards. They want the power or the gold or the desired mate NOW; there's no tomorrow (or rather, someone else will have tomorrow, *I* only have TODAY, so let's get on with it, already!).

Please remember that I'm speaking in generalizations, here. Many humans, particularly clergy and philosophers (I'll get back to this, I hope, when answering your other questions, in time to come), DO readily consider long-term implications down the decades and centuries after their own deaths, and some even try to learn from elves and dwarves of their attitudes and life-philosophies. There are of course the humans who try to "cheat" death magically, through lichdom or other means, and try to learn about long life in self-preparation.

Gnomes and halflings, by the way, often live among humans, are readily accepted by their human neighbours, and are considered 'comfortable, more like us' by most humans, who don't even consider most racial differences as anything greater than the cultural differences held by humans of different faiths or from different regions.

(Speaking in generalizations warning again!) Humans tend to breed faster and adapt more quickly than elves and dwarves, but elves and dwarves are more patient, and endure more rather than abandoning a place or approach or custom to rush off and embrace 'the new.'

Just as in real life, in our world, some humans feel threatened by those who are different, some embrace and enjoy difference, and some try to change either those who are different or themselves (or both). There have been many cases of human wizards, priests, and others in the Realms who've captured, tortured, cut up, and bled dry elves and dwarves in experimentations aimed at somehow 'gaining' their longevity for the experimentors. Some of these attempts (if your DM, or you as a DM, desires it so) may even have succeeded...

Whew. And on THAT chilling note ("Brain fluid of an elder dwarf, anyone? I have a spare goblet-full here!"), the words of Ed conclude. I await his other Foolish Owl answers eagerly, though he warns they may be a while in coming.

love to all,


Febuary 16, 2005: Ah, Karth, as it happens, Ed can answer your request right away, because he VERY recently prepared some notes on this very topic for someone else. Scribes, a WARNING: EXPLICIT LANGUAGE AHEAD.

In the list that follows, "ND" means 'not derogatory,' a neutral, formal term, acceptable in polite society conversations, proclamations, etc. "M" means mild (common figure of speech, not really an insult), and "E" means derived from Elvish slang. Also, assume descriptive phrases to be Common, and unfamiliar (invented) words to be words from various other languages and local dialects, adopted into Common. Materials inside quotation marks are pronunciations.

For obvious reasons, most of these will probably never appear in published Realms products.

male homosexual ND = liyan (E: "LEE-awwn"), praed (derived from gnome slang)
effeminate male homosexual = dathna ND, simpering man-lover
bisexual man ND = tasmar
lecher M = winker
Casanova, tireless woman-chaser = cod-loose winker
masochistic man = dusk
[note: refers to a male who enjoys self-bondage and/or being bound, being whipped or pierced or otherwise hurt]
cross-dresser (either gender) ND = saece (E: "SAY-sss")
male or female who enjoys being forcibly enspelled (including shapechanging) as part of sexual play = wild one, thaethiira (E: "thAY-th-EAR-ah")
prostitute ND = coin-lass, coin-lad
[note: the above is roughly the equivalent of our phrase "neighbourhood professional;" I haven't listed less polite euphemisms because there are literally dozens]
lesbian ND = thruss
dyke = battlebud
butch (manly woman) = harnor
submissive female M = rose
masochistic female M = dusk rose
[note: the above refers to a female who enjoys self-bondage and/or being bound, being whipped or pierced or otherwise hurt]
'loose' female = wanton, slut, sreea (E: "SREE-uh")
bisexual female = shaeda (E: "SHAY-dah")

So saith Ed.

Whew. I know this has been useful in our Realmsplay because it allows for casual references rather than big, hold-everything-naughty-explanation-time moments. Realms authors, I think Ed has handed out some fairly polite euphemisms here, too, some of which you should be able to sneak into print.

love to all,
your wanton dusk rose and sometime shaeda,


Febuary 17, 2005: Hello, all. Octa recently posted queries that included these words: "Khelben and the Simbul seem like they would be much more cavalier in their attitudes to 'sending some fool to their death'

Whereas Storm would be more 'You sent my agent where, to do what, they are going to die there, how could you'" and accordingly Ed of the Greenwood makes reply:

Octa, your characterizations of the attitudes of Khelben and The Simbul and Storm are spot-on: that's exactly how they approach 'using' mortals. They might want to keep their informants totally separate, but it hasn't worked out that way: all of them have their own private spies and individuals who 'owe' them and can therefore be conscripted into little intelligence-gathering and messenger tasks, but they all more or less share the Harpers (or used to, before the Moonstars split).

The Silverfall website 'profile' tale and the two Spin A Yarn website stories you've already been directed to all show a little of the varying styles of the Seven (but do so vividly), as does a story that will be in the "Best of Eddie" anthology this June, Silverfall, and The Seven Sisters 2nd Edition sourcebook. There are also little flashes of it in much of the rest of my Realms fiction (moments only, usually between two of the Seven, at most).

I don't want to delve into this subject at great length (though I'm tempted to), because of unfolding Realms products still in the early planning stages as of this posting, but I will briefly outline a few hints of sibling rivalry between the Seven.

Their disputes were most sharp and energetic earlier in their lives; as the centuries have worn on, they've gotten tired to fighting and come to value each other (not just as fellow Chosen of Mystra, serving the same cause, but as among the handful of other beings who've lived as long as they have, and so remember places now gone and people now dust, that they valued). To look at it another way: if you're going to spend the rest of a long, long, LONG life bumping into the same people, why not be at least civil to them?

If it seems to you that I'm writing in very general terms in what follows, not specifying place-names, dates, or specific events: yes, that's exactly what I'm doing, and I won't answer anyone more specifically than I do here. That's what I meant about "hints." There's no way I want to ruin anyone's Realms project because I speak a little too freely here and now.

So, here we go...

As young, immature lasses, some of the Seven often fought over guys, of course, and over the years this sort of dispute has entirely vanished (now, in the VERY rare instances in which they want to share, they share).

By the tail end of their first centuries, many of the Seven had begun trying to rule cities, then city-states, and then small kingdoms. They competed for a time in trying to reign over larger and more powerful lands than each other.

Then most of them tired of that, and moved into starting movements or gaining personal followers (in some cases, male harems) in personality cults - - and they competed in THAT, too.

They tired of such things even faster than they'd grown weary of sitting on thrones and enduring stabbings, poisonings, arrows through their guts, squabbling, and lies. Some of them even staged their own deaths to get free of their admirers - - and of course in at least two cases discovered all they'd done was start a cult that worshipped them!

Then many of the Sisters decided that such overt activities were immature, destructive, and a poor spending of their time, and started to 'do the Elminster thing.' That is: manipulate mortals as slickly and as subtly as possible (with occasional mini-vacations from subtlety to indulge a personal whim) to see if they could both spread the use and popularity of magic (as Mystra was bidding them to) and to bring about particular events, fads, changes in customs, and altered power and prominence for specific realms and cities and individuals.

Pursuing such goals began as "Let's see what I can do" and quickly became "Sisters, SEE what *I* can do," but then inevitably those of the Seven practising it (I say "those of" because Qilué's experiences were apart from the other six Sisters for a long time) got interested in what they were doing, and drifted apart from each other's company and competitive interests for some centuries.

During this time, they largely outgrew (Elminster and Khelben might say "grew up") rivalries, so those that remain now are petty, and rooted in their different personal styles and attitudes (one is forgiving, one kind, one impatient, one loves a battle, and so on).

In part, this happened because the eldest, Syluné, died and so those 'chasing' her either won or had the need to win taken away from them, however you choose to look at it, in part it happened because both Dove and Storm turned away from being interested in becoming 'more powerful with magic than anyone else,' and in part it happened because each of the Seven had now mastered and succeeded in something none of the others had taken an interest in, and had the self-confidence that gaven them under their belts.

They've also become interested (as the passing centuries brought romances and heartbreaks, a long crushing weight of memories, and increasingly boredom) in a wide variety of experiences, from working as slaves to baking sweets to taking dolphin form and exploring seas to mastering gambling games, and have spent much time 'trying things.' They've also dabbled in influencing priesthoods and existing power groups, and some of them have turned back to ruling - - not so much for the power, any more, but to see what they can build in the way of attitudes, advancing culture, raising standards of living and extending law and order, and so on.

They will always have different personal styles, likes and dislikes, habits and hobbies, and from those differences small rivalries will constantly arise... but they all serve the same goddess, and increasingly treasure each other.

As The Simbul recently said to Alustriel, "'Tis a long dance we share - - and at least I know how to dance with you, now, for the times when I just want someone to hold me and not put their feet all over mine."

So saith Ed.

Sniff. Aww, he's done it again! Left me blinking away tears, drat him! (And love him!)

love to all,


Febuary 18, 2005: Hello, all.

Mr. Wilson, I'll fire your query off to Ed, marked urgent, and we'll see what he says.

Fiction-loving scribes should take note of THE DRAGONS RETURN, a mass market paperback just released by Malhavoc Press, of short stories set in Monte Cook's Diamond Throne fantasy setting - - including tales by such Realms luminaries as Ed Greenwood, Jeff Grubb, Kate Novak (separate stories for the lovely couple, for once!), and more!

And now to business. I bring you the words of Ed, in reply to Lord Rad, thus:

Hi, Lord Rad! You're welcome re. All Shadows Fled; glad you're enjoying it!

As for Galath's Roost, I avoided specifying builder, date of building, and so on, to avoid getting in Skip's way, and for the same reason never mapped it.

I can tell you that it's an old "fortified manor" rather than a classical "keep" or "castle," that it was built long ago by someone bold and human coming north from what's now Sembia to establish a private home in the woods, that they hired or brought with them gnomes and dwarves to build it of massive stone blocks (okay, in that way it IS like a castle :} ), and that it passed through several owners over the years before the Galath whose name it now bears. It stands atop a little hill south of the Mistledale road, and has been so overgrown over the years (with trees sprouting right up through it) that it's now entirely hidden by the forest until an observer is about sixty feet away from it, or even less. The hill has an east-west axis, and therefore so does the Roost.

I picture it as trailing away to a split and broken terrace (with overbalcony) at the west or dale end, and being broken open along its south wall by growing trees, so that some rooms on both south and west are 'open' to the forest, whereas the highest (squat turret) part of the Roost, the east end, is intact but swathed in creepers (the vines, not any sort of monster. :} )

The Roost has a central hallway, with doors down it giving into rooms on both sides, the easternmost room on the north side, before the end turret, being the huge, high-ceilinged feast hall featured in scenes in the book, which if I recall the novel correctly, was entered from a door off the central hallway at the east end, and the elevated features were high up on the 'far end' west wall of the feast hall.

Not much more detail than that exists, I'm afraid.

And there you have it. Not much but it captures the feel of the place. We Knights have been there, and I believe I left an entire change of clothing draped over some dead branches in one of the south-face rooms, when we fought some dopplegangers. One of them used a magical ring to cast a very clever illusion of a beholder, as I recall, to 'draw our fire' as they set up their ambush - - and they took on our shapes, so we had to "kill ourselves." Ghoulish, ghoulish Ed.

love to all,


Febuary 19, 2005: Hello, all. I bring Ed's swift reply to Mr. Wilson:

I'm not surprised you found nothing in TSR sources about gestation periods of halflings. Fertility, birthing details, and such were all part of the ghost-aura "we don't talk about such things" that surrounded the absolute prohibitions of the Code of Ethics (I once had a DRAGON article about matters Arthurian rejected because I was told the word "lovers" could not be used to explain the legend of Arthur falling out with Lancelot over Guinevre). I recall (on one of my annual GenCon-time visits to the TSR offices) being told the horror stories of how two particular someones had put a section on dragon courtship and mating into the (original, 2e) DRACONOMICON, and how it had been hastily ripped out ("What were they THINKING?"). I recall at the time thinking to myself, "What's all the fuss? Such details SHOULD be in such a sourcebook. Even more so in anything that purports to be a "Complete Guide" to any race.

[If I'd been writing that original DRACONOMICON, I'd have made sure to explore questions like this: How do dragons mate, physically? Do they engage in foreplay (distinctive calls, dancing, anything my PCs could recognize)? Are they VERY wary of the world around when doing so, or does lust or instinct or whatever take over and leave them barely caring about approaching PCs, or PCs carting chests of stuff from their hoards past them during the fun? If dragons lay eggs, where do they prefer to lay them, how many are in a clutch, how large and heavy are they, are they rubbery or hard-shelled, how fragile if a PC handles them, do they have to be kept warm to stay fertile, if broken can the contents at least be used by PCs to cook, on the trail, what can buyers tell about an egg (age, condition, breed) by just eyeballing it, and so on. And I'd remind any prudes that we're talking about imaginary creatures here, so there's absolutely NOTHING to be prudish about!]

So let us turn to this matter of halfling gestation periods.

Heterochrony and heterotopy are probably beyond the scope of the general D&D rules, and we're speaking of imaginary creatures that we can "do anything with" if we really want to, but the D&D rules have always been humanocentric, and included whales and sharks and other real-world beasties, complete with reptilian, mammalian, and so on descriptors.

The observed rule in real-world life, among placental mammals, is that larger body size (which is also coupled to slower heart rate and longer lifespan) means a longer gestation period. The lifespan is the only possible complicating factor here; otherwise it's pretty clear that halflings should clearly have a shorter gestation period than the human one (which averages shorter than nine months, by the way, even leaving aside what medical meddling does to that average). So I'd go for that 7 to 8 months.

However, halflings DO have a longer lifespan. On the other hand, their onset of puberty isn't more than seven years longer, at most, than for humans, and only about four years later than many human societies (because human subracial traits, diets, and customs all play a part in human puberty onset). Moreover, the "deft, quick, agile" racial traits of halflings DON'T go with lower heart rates (such as, say, elephants have). So we have one factor arguing for a longer than human gestation period (12 months at most, and more likely 11 or 10-and-a-half), and two factors arguing against it.

We can't tell if these factors are of equal strength; if they were, it'd be pretty simple to determine. If we try to weight them slightly, we could probably do something like this: 9 plus 1 is 10 (lifespan), plus a half-point (slightly later puberty, and I say "slightly" because the range of variance is only very slightly larger than the ranges found in humans due to individual genetic differences), minus 2 (great difference in size), minus a half for the heart rate difference, and we're back at 8 months (or so).

We can of course decree anything, halflings being imaginary, but as usual the D&D rules are flexible enough to give us an out, or rather to please everyone: in the Realms we (now, with the current rules edition) have Ghostwise, Lightfoot, and Strongheart halflings. This allows us to give a range of gestation periods, and I'd plump for the Lightfoots to be closest to the humans they so often dwell among, and Ghostwise (the most reclusive) to be the most different. Otherwise, gestation period differences would have been noticed by humans long ago and been a clear defining trait of the halfling race in the game rules from the outset.

We know of real-world creatures in which pregnant females (almost certainly instinctively rather than consciously) can control the development of young within their own bodies until conditions are right. Halflings might have this ability too, but it could only go so far in concealing differences in gestation from humans, It seems to me most likely that Lightfoot halflings would have gestation periods more or less the same as human (perhaps a tenday or less shorter). Ghostwise halflings could have the ten- or even eleven-month gestation period if you'd like (which goes with their strong reliance on clan; the more immature or incapable newborn young are, the more tending they need), and Stronghearts could have the shortest (seven, seven-and-a-half, or eight).

Years ago, I did the Five Shires gazetteer for the Known World (Mystara), and that conception of halflings had darkfire and other racial magics; I've always thought that elves, dwarves, gnomes and halflings could all possess fertility magics that control how young develop, when birthing becomes imminent, and so on. These, too, could become factors (although I'd also say that priests and elders of the races would control such magics, not adventuring PCs).

So saith Ed.

There you have it: not a definitive answer, but Ed's reasoning laid out for your choice. Ed and I both hope this is of help.

Also, to Mareka and Karth and others who've offered their thanks, Ed and I both say: You're welcome, 'twas our pleasure, ask anything anytime!

love to all,


Febuary 20, 2005: Hello, all. FoolishOwl, you're quite welcome, and I believe Ed has a reply almost ready for your literary question (his reply to Rinonalyrna Fathomlin will, however, arrive first, right after what follows).

And speaking of what follows, I herewith present Ed's latest reply, this time to Ty:

Hello, Ty. Impiltur is very sparsely detailed, but I quite agree that it's a "place for many rich high fantasy tales." It's 'the OTHER strong royal kingdom' of the Realms (being compared to Cormyr, of course), and just kept "falling off the table" over the years, when Realms products were being proposed. Jeff Grubb used to refer to this annual TSR process as the St. Valentine's Day massacre, because it was around this time when all of the projects that had been "greenlighted" in a preliminary sense got "lined up against a wall and shot" until things were pruned down to what press time, editors, artists, and other resources were available. I recall that Evermeet "fell off the table" five years in a row in this way, and Impiltur never made it through the process.

As a result, we've never seen anything much of Impiltur in print, as you know, and I stand behind my lovely Lady Hooded (a nice place to stand, actually, he remarked innocently) in the assertion that George Krashos is THE lore expert.

So culturally, it's different than Cormyr but at about the same level. Take Cormyr, subtract the War Wizards and the Purple Dragons (putting in a far smaller and less competent army, but more hiring of adventurers as monster-patrols and town and VIP bodyguards), and make the nobles less numerous, far less fractious towards the throne, and more interested in ruling their demesnes well. The climate is slightly harsher and the farms smaller, with more rocks and frowning evergreens (hey! Your Black Forest! The Black Forest of the early twentieth century, though, before acid rain and human encroachment thinned it out and got rid of the bears and wolves), but otherwise things (amount of wealth, social sophistication, mercantile activity levels) are about the same.

Impiltur is another of the areas I'd love to detail, in depth, but we'll just have to see...

Now, as for your more recent query about the recipes: I'm a "camp cook" (I can do about a dozen rib-sticking dishes passably well, cooking outdoors over a fire, but show me a kitchen with appliances that have knobs, or even a gas grill for outdoor use, and I'm lost), but my wife is a good cook, my brother is a professional chef, and I was raised by superb farm cooks. (My kitchen expertise is... doing dishes.)

Parts of each of those recipes are drawn from medieval sources, tempered with some modern chef-craft, and making some assumptions as to the taste of monster meats and suchlike (dragon flesh ISN'T a direct substitute for beef, for instance). So the best judgement of those recipes is that they're a basis for a good cook to start from, changing the seasoning to suit personal tastes (because the seasoning is tailored to match the purely imaginary taste of the flesh of this or that monster). You might want to make a recipe just for yourself, taste the result, and modify accordingly; you may have to alter the seasoning quite a bit.

They're not balanced meals, of course, because all the vegetable dishes (being deemed less exciting, I suppose) got chopped in the editing. However, I and many of my players (the Knights, including the lovely Lady Hooded) have made and eaten all of the recipes (substituting pork, beef, moose, kangaroo, chicken, turkey, and duck where appropriate, and various real-world wines and spirits for those of the Realms ), and we're all still alive to tell the tale.

So saith Ed.

Re. Impiltur: Sigh. So many unfinished Realms tasks, so little time. Re. the recipes: I'm afraid I can't get to my cooking notes until spring (they're snowbound up at a cottage in the Ontario wilderness), wherein I noted the alterations I found necessary to make the recipes 'just so' for my palate, but Ed's right: you can use them to make some rough, robust dishes. My advice would be to grab some good cookbooks from a library on soups or roasts (as appropriate for what you want to try), eyeball some of the recipes therein so as to compare them to Ed's published recipes, take a good hard look at his seasonings and decide what changes you think you want to make right off the bat, and then set to work - - and do as all good cooks do: taste and smell as you go along, and follow your instincts (and preferences) over what's written. Have no health fears, however (unless you happen to use tainted ingredients, or undercook drastically): Ed didn't want to include any of the recipes until he tried out a real-world equivalent on someone (ahem, us) first. And yes, we ARE all still alive. More or less, as they say.

love to all,


Febuary 21, 2005: Hello, all. Ed of the Greenwood makes reply to Rinonalyrna Fathomlin:

Well met! Thank you for the nice words about my Realms novels. I LOVE writing them, and I hope it 'shows.' Now if only they'd pay me millions so I could hire someone to take care of all my daily needs and obligations, and just write books, eat (meals being brought to me, of course) and sleep. That WOULD be the life. Lady Hooded, arrange it, will you?

Enough wishful thinking; you've presented me with a lovely question. Thank you.

Yes, Azoun is a lusty sort, and literally thousands of Cormyrean women enjoyed his royal favours at one time or another. Although Filfaeril officially ignored this, she knows about a good many of his sportings, and guessed correctly about many of the rest.

As you've probably guessed, she knew what Azoun was like when she married him - - she was, after all, one of those only-too-delighted women at one time, and Azoun's appetites, habits, and prowess were certainly no secret in the realm (among some young noblewomen, there were even games and wagers played about who would bed Azoun first, or when, or how - - and in at least two instances I know of, a noble mother and daughter compared notes about Azoun after the daughter proudly confessed to doing what her mother had done decades earlier).

Some husbands or fathers were probably angry or uncomfortable, but most of them were as proud of their kind, fairly discreet while actually 'doing it,' handsome, friendly king as his Purple Dragons and crofters were: they saw the king's virility as something to laugh over and take pride in, a mark that 'the land is strong.' They called Azoun "Our Stag," "THE Purple Dragon," "The Royal Dragon," and so on. Being cuckolded by the king didn't 'count' as a stain, where being cuckolded by any other man would.

Filfaeril was always a proud and rather publicly remote woman, and got dubbed 'the Ice Queen' for her iron self-control and wicked-sharp tongue (when mocked by female nobles, she gave better than she got). Yet your impression was correct: she truly DIDN'T mind.

Part of this was due to her upbringing (knowing Azoun for what he was before wedding him; he's just the most randy of a long line of lusty Obarskyrs; their 'rutting reputation' was part of the lore of the realm long before Azoun IV was born), part of it was due to her own character (she loves intimacy and the physical pleasure of lovemaking, and is a generous person who loves sharing, and saw no reason [given Vangerdahast's careful and oft-applied disease-prevention and -quelling spells] not to share Azoun; she even, as with Tessaril, felt it gave her a much stronger personal bond with some of the women he bedded repeatedly - - and most of them admired her for this view, instead of sneering at her or thinking her a weakling or a fool or some sort of coldhearted bitch Azoun had to escape from or couldn't get the love he wanted from).

Yes, she felt lonely, especially when Azoun was away for long periods of time (though she remained faithful). She felt VERY lonely after he died, of course, and allowed (the sage) Alaphondar's many-years-hopeless-love to succeed in comforting her. They had NOT been lovers before that time, although he often served as her 'father confessor' when she felt very lonely, or horny, or jealous, and he daily sat in private with her and just talked (the Lady Hooded will recall vividly, I'm sure, an occasion in which certain of the Knights had stolen into the royal apartments, were sneaking around, and overheard Alaphondar murmuring the equivalent of phone sex to Filfaeril, who sat near him fully clothed and increasingly aroused. He brought her to orgasm with words alone, never touching her, and then served her a cordial! Torm of the Knights imitated him mockingly for MONTHS).

Yes, Filfaeril loved Azoun deeply, and he loved her. They were BEST FRIENDS first and foremost, and she was his favourite lover, and the one he "always came home to," and she knew it and revelled in it. Yes, Azoun appreciated what he had, and yes, she was a VERY strong person, the strongest person in Cormyr after Vangerdahast.

Filfaeril's strength of character, shrewd judge of the character of others, and swift wits made her a capable ruler, if she'd ever needed to be (right now, backing up Alusair, she DOES need to be). Her beauty and self-control made many men of Cormyr wild to have her, and she kissed many a man's hand, stared deep into his eyes, and whispered, "My love for my Azoun, and my king, and Cormyr makes it absolutely and forever impossible that we should ever more than look at each other - - but if we could have more, know that I would welcome it, and enjoy it." Sometimes this was coldly-calculating acting, to win the loyalty or friendly regard of an important noble, but sometimes it was a gentle favour to a smitten stablehand or page, and Filfaeril meant those words more often than she didn't. She loved to look at men, but believed it was only Azoun's right to touch. (And often, afire from the latest smouldering glances sent her way, she'd go back to Azoun, tow him off to the nearest bedchamber, and ride him fiercely.)

I wish I'd had the chance to really tell Filfaeril's story in my Realms fiction, but such a large part of it has been romantic that the result would either be a "heaving-bosoms" Harlequin-style romance, or a torridly X-rated bedchamber-to-court-revel intrigue, and as neither of those fit what TSR or WotC publish or want to publish, I've never seen a proper opportunity. I still DO hope to show you a little more (of Filfaeril's character, not her flesh) in future novels and short stories.

Let me just say this much about Filfaeril: Alusair Nacacia is considered 'wanton' by many, and most of them view her as "a female version of her father," but the truth is she got the lusty side of both Azoun and Filfaeril, put together. (And you should see more of her in my fiction, soon.)

On other fronts: Filfaeril is one of the smartest queens Cormyr has ever had, and was much smarter and more perceptive than Azoun (and he knew that, and was proud of it rather than resenting it).

And if all of this sounds more than a little like I'm in love with Filfaeril myself, Rinonalyrna, the answer to that is: Yup. And proud to be.

Whew. A little WARM in here, isn't it? I'll just lounge back in my chair and remember Torm doing his Alaphondar imitation (snort; STILL hilarious, all these years later). Rinonalyrna Fathomlin, thank you for asking this. 'Twas a pleasure to cut-n-paste this Ed answer!

love to all,


Febuary 22, 2005: Hello, all. Ed makes reply to Foolish Owl about the literary side of Cormyr (reserving the philosophy question for later). Jerryd, there's a note in here that will probably be of interest to you, too. ATTENTION ALL SCRIBES: what follows is essential Cormyr-related Realmslore. Clip and save!

Accordingly, I give you all the words of Ed:

Foolish Owl, your impression is correct. The last two kings of Cormyr, Azoun IV operating under the persistent urgings of both Alaphondar and Vangerdahast (whose reasons include these: more literate native-born Cormyreans means a larger pool of folk from which courtiers and spies can be drawn; persons with a natural aptitude for the Art can more easily advance because they already know how to read and write spells; a more literate general populace cuts down on casual dishonesty in matters of daily trade and sales, making for better local relations and contentment; and a more literate general populace means more possibilities of a farmer or wandering youth at play being able to recognize something important or suspicious or dangerous if they happen across writings - - whereas in the past some Sembians have been able to say one thing across an upcountry Cormyrean tavern table to each other, and write something far different, knowing no one else there can read their 'true' conversation), have made certain all Purple Dragons are trained to read and write, AND get practise in it (by often filing brief written reports), and encouraged all nobility to train their ENTIRE housholds to read and write, too. The Crown has also, for years, made monetary donations to local tutors and priests of Deneir and Oghma (temples, shrines, and traveling individuals) for freely teaching anyone who asks how to read and write.

Some of the enticements to read are 'racy' chapbooks (coverless booklets of only a few pages in length, about as wide and tall as a large man's hand) sold by peddlers and caravan-merchants, that purport to tell the latest lurid gossip about social and Court life in Suzail, or are 'riders:' collections of installments of three sorts of serialized stories: one of a series of simple adventure tales for the kiddies, one of the exploits of larger-than-life adventurers (the equivalent of Paul Bunyan 'tall tales'), and one frankly pornographic (words only, not pictures) ongoing seduction saga of a devastatingly handsome and morally depraved fictional noble, wenching his way across the realm.

That's "literature" to many crofters (farmers) across Cormyr.

However, in the three cities of the realm, and among particular families and individuals scattered all across the Forest Kingdom, 'serious' literature also exists (though none of them would ever call it that, because Cormyr entirely lacks the literary snobbery of our modern real-world, except among sages sniping at each other's published works as reflecting biases or being lazy scholarship).

In a given year, probably five hundred or so books get published (mainly in Cormyr, although there are also binderies in Arabel), and of these, about 150 or so are scholarly "sagecraft" (commonly known as 'furrowbrow' writings). The average circulation of one of these would be about six hundred copies, of which a hundred or so would be exported to waiting buyers in Waterdeep, Sembia, and elsewhere outside the borders of the Forest Kingdom.

The rest of the annual 'haul' of Cormyrean publications (I'm not including here, of course, daily productions of signs, handbills, and product instruction notes or lone recipes handed out in shops) consists of about 350 more popular works. These are all bound volumes (usually parchment leaves sewn into calfskin bindings), tend to be small and easily held (though sometimes very thick), and can address almost any topic.

No Court permission is required to publish anything, with three exceptions: anything of or about magic, anything of or about a living member of the royal family, and anything specific about current (not historical) Cormyrean military dispositions. (Remember that there's no such thing as copyright or libel, though courtiers can order untruths to be publicly recanted, and nobles can and will duel over words they dislike, or arrange to have a non-noble whose words they disapprove of beat up or lose a wagon or hut to a mysterious fire, reprisals often guarded against by the use of pseudonyms.)

Print runs and sales of these volumes vary widely, depending on their popularity, which (in rough terms) is as follows, from most popular to least:

1. Riders: see above: average 18,000 copies.

2. Readers: collections of eight or so writings, one of which is usually current gossip, another one or two being polemics (colourful rants are preferred), and the rest being an array of fiction (see my first mention of riders, above, for some genres; others are endless war adventures of this or that simple lad [or lass, disguised as a man] rising from the barnyard to commanding armies, in a fanciful kingdom loosely based on Cormyr, or in Cormyr itself, and light comedies of manners in the high life of Suzail, that often include satirical references to real folk and real events of the day): average 14,500 copies.

3. Recipe collections. Always avidly devoured in kitchens across the realm, from farm huts to noble palaces, and in nigh every inn, too (in lean winter days, farm families often gather together at the abode of whoever has the warmest kitchen and the largest cauldron, and make a communal stew, reading aloud descriptions from recipe books as a sort of "food porn"). New spice and herb mixtures are always 'hot' topics: average 8,000 copies.

4. Tyankurs: how-to books about farming (especially breeding and 'new seeds from afar') and craftwork. Sometimes bought up by guilds so they can be destroyed en masse, to protect secrets. As a result, helpful hints for dyes and repairs and daily little tasks are rising in popularity, and in-depth 'how-to' tomes are declining: average 3,500 copies.

5. Wider Realms books: gossipy travel exploits, plus tall tales and recent news from distant parts of the Realms: average 1,700 copies.

6. Histories, including memoirs and legends of old Cormyr (old soldiers' campaign accounts are the most popular works here, especially if full of juicy details about daily screwups, officers wenching or making mistakes, grisly battle occurrences, and so on): average 1,200 copies.

7. Everything else (e.g. collections of only love poetry; collections of wise sayings; annual reviews of breeding stables and 'hot' horses for racing and stud; annual overviews of trade shortages, opportunities, and predicted fads and fashions in Suzail, the Dales, and around the Moonsea; stand-alone polemics): average 1,000 copies.

What I've just given here are publishers' sales figures, not including resales (most copies are loaned around and read by many, and then resold to a peddler to be taken elsewhere, for the process to be repeated).

Please note that none of these circulation figures include temple copies (except for Candlekeep itself, which treasures 'originals'). By which I mean this: a temple of Deneir or Oghma will purchase a single copy of a literary work, examine it, and if it (or extracts from it) are viewed as worthy of wider circulation, will hand-recopy it (with not a copper coin nor word to the original author) any number of times, for circulation among the temples of the same faith throughout the Realms. Traffic in the form of letters, such books, priestly decrees, and sermon texts is constant among temples, usually carried by trusted priests in sewn-shut, waterproofed parcels.

From this post, you can readily see that Cormyr, and especially Suzail, has a thriving, growing literary culture. I'm not sure if it can yet be called 'great,' but the base of readership is there for 'bestsellers' (books 'everybody in the kingdom' is reading, or wants to read) to occur, and noble houses are beginning to patronize writers for more than merely turning out self-congratulatory family histories and courtship poems, sponsoring these "dream-scribblers" to produce fiction for all to enjoy (the noble house stamps its heraldic badge onto the bindings and takes credit for making the entertainment possible, in hopes of winning friendly regard realm-wide). Nobles and just plain shopworkers and tradesmen, as well as the traditional sages, are starting to assemble personal libraries (a few shelves at most of favourite books, usually), and all of this is the right climate for works of greatness to begin to occur fairly often.

If Azoun V survives to rule in his own right, I'd say by then Cormyr will be widely literate and will have strong, broad, firmly-established literary traditions. You'll start to see writers openly and regularly criticizing governance, and writers writing sequels 'to order' as well as long-running serialized family sagas. Filfaeril might well write a 'tell-all' book, and (hoo-boy!) Alusair might try to top it. (Or 'bottom' it. Or... ahem.)

So saith Ed.

Lovely, lovely, lovely Realmslore. A pleasure to post, and: Heed all!

As for the Srinshee post kuje passed on: hooboy! I'll fling it Ed's way post-haste!

love to all,


Febuary 23, 2005: Hello, all. The insanely busy Ed rides to the rescue, with a reply (of sorts) for kuje to take to Alurvelve, and these tidbits for other scribes, too:

Melfius, it's great to see my pixie-blushing skills are unabated! :} Thanks!

Rinonalyrna, 'twas my pleasure, and I will do my utmost to sneak a little Filfaeril into my forthcoming fiction. It may take two years or even three before the opportunity arises, but I do plan ahead.

Kuje, you sure can pick 'em! Please convey this reply unto the WotC boards:

Alurvelve, I must begin with two warnings: first, I can't give you a proper reply due to a current NDA (you'll see why in about a year from now), and secondly, your DM rules. I can give suggestions, but they'll be just that: suggestions.

I agree that trying to do a "hey, babe, see my shiny teeth as I smile my very best wolf smile" pickup attempt is just going to amuse her (at best). There are some vital things about the Srinshee that I'm not at liberty to reveal right now, but your judgement of her as one who's 'seen just about everything already' isn't far off the mark.

So as you so correctly said, your problem is how to stand out from all of her previous lovers and would-be suitors. And yes, you ARE going to "bite off more than you can chew." If this proceeds at all, it's going to change your life completely (and your DM may or may not want to move the campaign in that direction). Both of you should bear in mind that becoming her consort is nigh-impossible: even if you became her lover and fast friend, she's going to want to shield you from much that she now does, and so she's going to be an absent-for-long-periods, waiting-in-your-bed unexpectedly sort (at best).

So, to the wooing:

Recovering the Warblade first is essential, to show your worth (that quest will not be easy), and that you can accomplish things you set out to do. Keeping your promises regardless of the cost, and so on.

Secondly, and the key to success: show her you're NOT out for her body or her power, and don't view the world as an endless entertainment ground for you and your friends, or yourself as important at all.

Show her (and you'd better really mean it, because she'll test you and peer into your mind to make sure) that you're a kindred spirit to her: you're looking ahead and working to bring about what's best for all elves (some accomodation with the drow, the 'working together' that the Srinshee saw missing from Myth Drannor when she vanished with the Crownblade). In other words, a fellow soldier in the same war she's fighting.

Someone she can trust, who will stand alongside her in working to bring about not just a more glorious future for elvenkind, but for all Faerūn. The ONLY compliment that will work with her is telling her you can see some of what she's been striving for, and admire her more than anyone else you can think of, for the work she'd dedicated herself to.

The Srinshee does love intimacy and lovemaking, but to thrust yourself at her would be a great mistake. Let HER decide when things will go beyond hand-kissing and bowing. This is one entity for whom becoming their best friend is your best way to more intimate things.

I can't say much more without hampering your DM and unfolding play in the campaign you're in, other than to wish you the best of luck, and bow in your direction for daring to try such a thing.

It's moments like these that make me proud to have created and shared the Realms.

PLEASE let me know how things turn out!

So saith Ed.

Whew. I agree. And boy, is Ed sitting on some Srinshee secrets he can't share right now! Hard and spiky things, NDAs! Also, a note to Jhastarr, for Jerryd's superb calculations and discussions of place-latitudes on Toril, see Page 80 of the 2004 Questions for Ed thread, elsewhere in the Chamber of Sages.

love to all,


Febuary 24, 2005: Hello, all. Ed makes swift reply to Borch in his "smaller query" about Stormkeep:

Hi, Borch. You've missed nothing, because until the earlier Candlekeep post of mine you referred to, this feature hasn't been mentioned at all in published Realmslore (so far as I can remember).

The Stormkeep is the old and massive stone fortress at the westernmist end of the city walls of Baldur's Gate (the castle of four closely-linked stone towers). Its more formal name, used by no one but heralds and fussy city clerks and sages these days, is the Keep of Storms, and it was called that purely because lightning bolts often struck it in olden days when storms swept onshore. These days, a ward conducts all lightning discharges away into the ground about a bowshot northwest of the towers.

The Stormkeep is the oldest (though many times rebuilt) and still the tallest fortification of Baldur's Gate. Its height was intended to give defenders a 'long view' out to sea (when fogs permit), allow them to fly signal banners or lights visible a long way out at sea, and to elevate the catapults and ballistae emplaced atop the four towers enough to give them a 'reach of fire' farther out to sea than a ground-level or low tower-top would afford them.

Today, the Stormkeep contains city armories, dungeons, workshops (storing, among other things, several disassembled but ready for swift use catapults and ballistae), and granaries. There are rumors of gargoyles and even stranger monsters having once been kept there, that escaped and still lurk about the tower, preying on the lone and unwary (Elminster says such rumors shouldn't be dismissed out of hand, but that defenders of Baldur's Gate should have nothing to fear, thanks to the spectral undead of former Baldurian guards haunting the tower). There are also persistent rumors of portals to distant places being hidden in the towers, and of a tunnel beneath the dungeons of one of them, that runs underneath the harbor-mouth clear across it to Arbristae's Tower, the lone, large tower at the OTHER end of the city walls (again, Elminster says these tales should be believed).

[Arbristae was a young sorceress thought to have been murdered as the tower was being built, and her blood mixed with the mortar; because she was slain with spells, the huge tower has a lingering receptivity to magic. Elminster confirms this tale to be true, as well, and notes that Arbristae is little remembered in 'the Gate' these days, and many other names have been applied to 'her' tower, down the years.]

Most Baldurians think of Stormkeep as "old, bleak, forbidding, unbowed, solid, and uncomfortable," and it would be the first place they'd think of some corrupt or deceitful city clerk or even Grand Duke of hiding something large (like a golem) from the city - - because such things have been done in the past. Elminster regarded the ceiling and told it innocently, "And may even be going on right now - - who knows?"

So saith Ed.

Sly adventure-weaver that he is.

love to all,


Febuary 25, 2005: Hello, all. Herewith, the words of Ed to Torkwaret, in reply to this: "Could you enlighten me on the topic of 'Law in the Western Heartlands'? What I specifically would like to know is how land owning and borders is worked out (also how do typical villages and hamlets look like in that area)?"

Ed saith:

Torkwaret, you've asked something that by merest mischance happens to charge right into my newest, brightest NDA, so I can only reply in the most general (and brief) manner.

First, landowning and borders...

Generally speaking, formal land-law only exists in kingdoms and other organized countries; otherwise, "might makes right" and "what the local lord or kingpin says, goes."

In reality, of course, this brute-force, "my sword is the law" approach is always tempered by custom (the habits of generations, that build up into "the way things are done" and the expectations of locals [e.g. "You can push us, self-styled 'lord,' but only so far: my grandsire built that fence and my daddy expanded it - - tear it down and on their graves I swear I'll tear YOU down!"]) and by the unwritten 'rules of the road' understood by caravan-merchants, peddlers, pilgrims, and envoys, and enforced by priests and by the Heralds. An example of this second factor would be: "If you set up an inn and then murder everyone who stops there and keep their goods, I don't care if that's morally okay to you personally, as a devout follower of Bane or of Cyric: if you do such things, expect to get wiped out by several caravans arriving at once fully intending to murder YOU, the moment word gets out, or just shunned and ignored, with no one visiting you for any reason, so I hope there's absolutely nothing you need by way of trade, ever again, from now until the end of your life."

These factors usually boil down to: you can charge fees for the use of your land, or you can fence off your land and guard it, with notices, prohibiting all or specific uses of it - - but you can't simply butcher, maim, imprison, or rob individuals you find on your land. Moreover, you can't flout local customs with regard to buying and selling land, renting land to farmers to till or stable and paddock-space and room-and-board to travellers.

Some places have written deeds (and if they do, such are often kept either at local lords' castles or at the nearest temple), some places have an overall map, and some have nothing at all beyond squatting and driving out undesirables and local crafters and shopkeepers shunning folk who "don't belong" and "aren't one of us."

Borders between neighbours might be settled with violence, or by documents and rules and solemn (church or Herald-witnessed) agreements. Borders between nobility or rulers or countries are always solemnized somehow (usually with agreements or treaties arising out of wars, and enforced by periodic border patrols or even garrisons). Often such borders follow a river (or mountain range, or road) for convenience. Miscreants fleeing across a border can't depend on its protection unless there are patrols or garrisons; otherwise, persons seeking to bring them to justice will simply follow them, ignoring the border.

As for the 'look' of typical villages and hamlets: surrounded by pastureland or farms, with fences of gathered stumps and stones (let grow wild into a tall, often impenetrable 'hedge' by encouraging thornbushes, especially [edible] berry-bushes, to grow along them), or 'split-rail' fences of zig-zag timbers. A village or hamlet usually grows up around a temple or shrine, waymoot, or mill (hence, a stream), and often has a market (open-air area for farmers to sell produce), a public well or horsepond, a tavern, and one or more local shops and services (smithy, carpenter and/or wagon-maker), an inn if the village or its temple is large enough, and so on.

The settlement usually consists of fieldstone and log buildings, with board roofs (often covered with earth to grow gardens), with a kitchen garden out back. Most buildings front along the roads or trails of the community, and there are usually steadily-dwindling woodlots, communal outdoor ovens or roasting-hearths, and the like. Clay brick, wattle-and-daub, and moss chinking can all be seen, root-cellars are everywhere, tile and steep snow-shedding roofs are rarities but can be found, and most buildings are a single storey high (temples and grand homes of lords or wizards being the exceptions). Most settlements have a lookout, either a tower or more often just a hilltop (with a signal-beacon bonfire laid ready for lighting, to worn of an approaching army or orc horde). Only the best roads have ditches, and roads are packed bare earth except in swampy areas (where logs are laid crosswise, in what our world terms a "corduroy road").

Unlike our real world, most folk of the Western Heartlands love trees, and although they harvest them heavily for daily use, they also replant and refrain from denuding everything (fences keep grazing livestock from wandering at will), the rolling, lightly-treed hill country of the Western Heartlands doesn't look all THAT different from the way it did before humans settled all across it.

So saith Ed.

More Realmslore, as usual, to come. Probably tomorrow.

Phoebus, thank you: VERY well said. I'll pass on your comments to Ed. The Old Bearded One is even more wearily busy than usual, but he WILL get to all lore requests, and is doggedly maintaining at least an answer a day schedule.

love to all,


Febuary 25, 2005: Hello, fellow scribes. Time for another omnibus of swift replies and comments from Ed (in no particular order):

Ty, you're quite welcome! Let me know what happens. I promise more recipes in the future, somewhere, with rather clearer "real-world equivalent" instructions.

Gerath Hoan, I LOVE Lost Empires of Faerun. Too short, of course, but... :}

Much of the book is based on, or was "developed" (in WotC parlance) in light of many the tidbits of 'ancient times' lore I've let drop over the years (hallowed scribes like Eric Boyd and George Krashos collect these, discuss them, come to understand them, and can therefore ride forth to apply them whenever necessary). The magelord presented in LEoF is based on the Magelords I created for Athalantar (seen previously in ELMINSTER: THE MAKING OF A MAGE and in "The Athalantan Campaign" DRAGON article; you'll get another glimpse of one in the forthcoming 'Best of Eddie' collection). A good half of the monsters detailed therein were originally my creations, years ago, and so on. So yes, I provided a lot of lore for the authors, but I did so over the years before LEoF was written, not as direct part of its creation.

In my opinion, a character could certainly be a magelord and a Harper. In fact, the rather piratical illustration of the magelord (striped pantaloons and all) aptly captures the 'young embittered Harper with attitude' elements of Those Who Harp.

Sarkile, there are no silly or inappropriate questions, just silly or inappropriate answers. Shadowdale and Mistledale are "crossroads" dales, traversed often by caravans. Their folk are used to seeing and dealing with a lot of "different" people. Therefore, overt racism or "nationalism" is very rare; their reactions will depend on the character's actions and words, whether the character is just passing through or settling, and the company the character keeps (squat on someone's farm illegally and have plenty of monstrous visitors and you'll be treated with suspicion at best; rent a room and mingle with folk without displaying attitude and you'll be accepted but always watched with benign curiosity because you're "from away" ratther than born and bred in that particular dale). The more like a "devil" or other creature of nightmarish tavern-tales you look like, the less positive folks' initial reactions will be, of course.

Wooly Rupert, re: "When two greater doppelgangers are in their assumed identities, can they each tell that the other is a doppelganger?"

I'd say no, although please always remember that I'm not an official rules answerer. However, in my Realms campaign, I'd say not. If a doppleganger WANTS to signal their true nature to 'other dopplegangers only,' there are ways of doing it subtly, that probably wouldn't be noticed by someone who's not watching for them and isn't very near and looking closely: by making the pupils of the eyes 'swim' for a moment, or small areas of skin 'ripple' like waves.

So saith Ed.

More "quickies" (ahem, no comments, boys) from Ed tomorrow.

love to all,


Febuary 27, 2005: Hello, all. Ed's swift'n'short replies continue:

kuje31, thanks for your love and your devouring. It's what keeps me going (I'm being honest here, not flippant). And yes, I think the most valuable lore I can provide here (aside from swift, timely answers for individual campaign needs) is the stuff that for whatever reason doesn't "fit" official publication needs, and so probably won't ever find its way into print.

And, yes, groupies are nice. They keep my head turning, Elaine winking, my toenails growing inward - - all of that. ;}

Are your NPCs posted or assembled here at Candlekeep? THO gave me your website link in your message, but Excel files don't work for me (primitive Net connection). I'd be quite happy to supply 'soft' (as opposed to 'crunch') lore on the NPCs, yes, if I can see what you've already assembled. Dessra is well on the way; expect her ahem, details in about a week.

As for Arbristae, I probably didn't provide enough detail in my post to make things clear. Embra in the Aglirta books was being coldbloodedly readied for a long, complicated ritual that would bind her sentience into the stones of a fortress, as a 'slave force' obedient to the wizards involved. Arbristae was killed by a suitor she spurned, who used magic both to kill her (in his rage) and then make her body "disappear" (he converted it to liquid that he stirred into the water standing ready in all of the mortar-mixing cauldrons). Embra's fate would have been premeditated and sophisticated, whereas Abristae's was unplanned, swift, violent, and had unintended consequences.

Athenon, Silverymoon's mythal is detailed in SILVER MARCHES, and it doesn't affect ALL evil creatures with an Antipathy effect. It only visits that effect on evilly-aligned demons, devils, dragons, drow, duergar, giants, goblinoids, illithids, orcs, and trolls.

So everybody else (including, yes, humans!) can be evil and can enter, depart, and function normally in the city (a sample evil resident NPC is even given in SILVER MARCHES).

I hope to provide much more detail on Silverymoon, a favourite city of mine, in time to come. In the meantime, there should still be a two-part "My Slice of Silverymoon" article I did on the WotC website, somewhere.

Skeptic, the current status of Zhentil Keep is: whatever you want it to be in your campaign. In the "official" Realms, it's been rebuilt (to match almost precisely all locations of former buildings and streets, so my old FR ADVENTURES map can be used) under the firm control of the Fzoul-led Zhentarim, and is wealthier and more influential - - as the Zhents tighten their hold over more and more of the Moonsea area - - than ever before. At the same time: the sewers work, there are no longer any press-gangs forcibly "recruiting" folk in the streets, those streets are clean and orderly, and trade (and the visitors who bring it) are coming, in increasing numbers. The city itself IS a 'police state,' with spies everywhere and chances for most sorts of adventuring very slender. The law is ruthless, very fair (except when it suits the Zhentarim to apply unfair enforcement or sentencings), prosperity is widespread, and the place is full of "craven schemers" who want to get rich by doing just as the Network wants them to: acting as servile entrepreneurs who are eager to (in terms of trade) colonize and dominate the Dales, Cormyr, Westgate, and especially wealthy Sembia. The Zhentarim encourage this, because it extends their influence without them having to do any of the leg-work; once Zhentish merchants are everywhere, they can clamp down and begin to squeeze taxes out of them while at the same time making them spies and dagger-agents abroad.

The Red Wizards of Thay, the independent merchants of Sembia, and the Royal Court of Cormyr (just to name three interested parties) have other ideas, of course.

So saith Ed.

Who promises a longer reply tomorrow, this one to Phoebus in case his chances to Net-connect become more difficult (yes, Ed's keeping track of, and working on, all of the older replies too!).

love to all,


Febuary 28, 2005: Hello, all. Ed makes reply to Phoebus:

Phoebus, well met again, and thank you for your eloquent posts. Let me try some answers:

OLD EMPIRES was ably written by Scott Bennie, who has since updated it 'for free' on the Net (scribes, please help me with where it can now be found). I had nothing directly to do with the writing of that product, although my sketchy lore-notes were provided, and of course all the place-names and geography of Chessenta, Unther, and Mulhorand (plus their general overall character and relationships to each other) were part of my original (pre-publication) Realms. You're quite right: given my druthers, I'd never have put elements so recognizably "real-world historical" into the Realms, but their inclusion was inevitable given TSR's plans for the Realms to be the "home" of 2nd Edition AD&D: it had to embrace Arabian Adventures (the working title for Al-Qadim), Oriental Adventures, Sea Adventures, Arctic Adventures, Lost World/Livingstone/Indiana Jones (Chult), Conquering the New World (Maztica), and so on. I think Scott did a superb job, and my only regret is that we've never examined Chessenta's city-states in proper detail and depth: it could have been an absolutely fascinating, maximum-freedom-to-plug-in-commerical-modules setting for Realms-based campaigns.

The DMG pay rates for mercenaries are just fine for work in Chessenta, and there's lots of it: everybody important has bodyguards, sometimes to make a show (or exaggeration) of their own importance). So the PCs should have no trouble getting work as bodyguards, envoy-escorts (or wagon-escorts, if they'd like), spies and scouts (spies try to hide, scouts look around quite openly), and even personal champions. Widespread war is less liekly, because the region is beginning to weary of it.

In this region it's customary to provide lodging (tents when 'in the field'), livery (including armor and shields, if you want your underlings to wear "matching harness"), and basic food (with water and fruit juices, but no alcohol) to your hireswords IN ADDITION TO their base pay. By the way, the Heralds of Faerūn can and do act as 'bankers' for hireswords who've nowhere secure to stash their pay - - and EVERYONE will leap to defend a Herald facing robbery or violence, as a result.

As for elves returning to Cormanthyr, in addition to what I said to you back on Page 11 (I think) of the 2004 thread: aside from the adventurer-types I mentioned then, you'd also see a mixed bag of other elves: younglings coming for the adventure and to "see all the magnificence and long-lost secrets they've heard so much about," and veterans grimly wanting to reclaim "what was lost" (and sometimes to specifically find particular buildings, tombs or spots where loved ones died, particular lost personal or family or valued magical items, and so on).

Yes, they'd come well-armed; they know from the elves who for so many years cordoned off the ruins of Myth Drannor just how dangerous conditions they'll find, and they're well aware of the "gold rush" currently going on, with drow (and worse!) also journeying to and through the ruins.

So they'd be well-armed (with magic and healing potions, not just physical weaponry), experienced-at-fighting-on-the-ground-together groups of a dozen or more. Primarily moon elves, but the "gold rush" aspect means a DM could include just about any mix of sub-races and classes. Most such groups move stealthily, sometimes with permanent fly spells on themselves so they don't have to "touch boot down" if they don't want to, spread out in a loose oval and keeping to cover, with missile weapons and spells ready to provide 'covering fire' if foes are encountered. Even when battle is joined, they keep as quiet as possible (no ringing war-cries). They do carry signal horns, but prefer to communicate with imitated verbal beast-calls.

Those who do try to settle anywhere in the region will establish constant patrols, both the 'wide' patrols I mentioned last year (about 20 miles out, once the settlement gets established) and close-in, varying routes and strengths, and magically farscrying the patrols from time to time. The intent is to know whenever large, numerous, or especially dangerous monsters are near, human incursions of all sorts, potential foes, anyone snooping with magic - - the phrase "We don't want any surprises" might be their most apt motto!

As for Vangey, I try never to model Realms characters on real-world folk, living or dead, though of course tiny bits and pieces of what I've observed of real people is what drives my imagination when creating any fictional character. So Vangerdahast truly isn't directly patterned on any one real-world personality. As you say, he represents an all-too-common personality type. I was frankly astonished that Jerryd hadn't run into many such; I was expecting him to react rather as you have, based on an experience of having met, heard of, or worked with too many micro-manager/buddy-buddy personae.

And you've hit this right on the head: "Vangey, though, couldn't afford a covenant of advisors and critics in re-structuring the WW. He felt that most everyone else in the court had their own interests closest to heart (NOT Cormyr's), and that the WW themselves couldn't necessarily be trusted. And thus, he developed things as he did." Bingo.

And thank you for this: "If nothing else, the last couple of pages have made "Vangey" make more sense as a character than he has to me in a long, long time."

When answering Jerryd, I became increasingly conscious of how little of the real Vangerdahast I'd managed to really get down on paper and out into the hands of Realms fans, down the years. So I don't blame Jerryd or anyone else for not really understanding my view of him, because until now I hadn't properly shared it.

So saith Ed.

Who's hard at work (as always!) on crafting more Realmslore for us all.



March 1, 2005: Hello, all. Ed makes reply to Dargoth (and simontrinity, too):

NDAs and of course the activities of others that lie behind them inhibit me in speaking overmuch about the Harpers, but I CAN say this much: the Harpers (what Dargoth refers to as the "Official Harpers") have never officially split, but have always varied in their approaches, with the Twilight Hall folk being most regimented, and Elminster (and before the split, Khelben) being the most 'I do my own thing, regardless,' whereas Storm is the kindly 'den mother' who welcomes all, works with all, and mediates with all.

The Moonstars are a small, secretive group, and among their lower ranks are some Harpers that most of the REST of the Harpers believe to be still 'just Harpers.' They're NOT 'based out of' Blackstaff Tower and never have been; Khelben and Laeral find things quite busy and crowded enough there with all of their apprentices. The Lord and Lady Mage of Waterdeep do frequently meet various 'go-between' Moonstars at various locales in and around Waterdeep and at the far end of handy portals (particular gardens, houses, and rented back rooms in Ardeepforest, Silverymoon, Secomber, and even Scornubel and Berdusk are frequent meeting-spots), and 'run' the Moonstars in this way. Elminster remains friendly but quasi-independent of them (and of Twilight Hall) as he has always been. As Dargoth surmised, neither he nor Storm believe a rift had to occur between Khelben and Twilight Hall, but both El and Storm are mature enough that they simply accept that the rift happened, and try to continue to get along with, and work with, every Harper (and Moonstar) regardless.

Storm and Elminster (like Khelben and Laeral and certain others) have always been ranked at the top of the hierarchy that only Lady Cylyria and her Twilight Hall cronies ever really cared about anyway: their senior, quasi-independent role has always been recognized, so (aside from Khelben and Laeral), nothing need have changed between Storm and El in Shadowdale and the Harpers based in Twilight Hall. Storm's farm has always functioned as a rest, healing, and hiding place for all Harpers, a training-ground for certain junior Harpers sent to her, and a storage cache and rallying-point (a "sub-base," if you will) and it continues to do so. To call it a base set up in opposition or rivalry to Berdusk is too strong, and misrepresents the situation. (I feel as if I'm straying into the same territory I've been arguing over with Jerryd, here. Remember my original words when describing the Harpers: "Think Sierra Club. Think the 1960s. Think: we're all part of same movement, man, but we all do our own thing." DON'T think ranks, hierarchies, discipline. It - - and the badges/pins, too - - are there, all right, but they only MATTER in Twilight Hall.)

So, yes, the ranks of the Harpers are (a bit) split by personality and therefore approach (just as they always have been, both before and after the Moonstars schism), but not at all by geography.

To answer Dargoth's specific treatment questions:

"Would a Moonstar who turned up outside Twilight Hall be driven off?"

Probably not. Watched and treated with suspicion, perhaps even spoken to sharply and prevented from entering certain places in Twilight Hall, yes. Probably brought into a meeting with Lady Cylyria or one of her circle, yes. Imprisoned or offered violence? Not unless they acted with violence first.

"Would a Twilight Hall Harper be welcome at Storm's farm in Shadowdale?"

Of course. Unreservedly. Storm welcomes Harpers all the time. Sometimes she even puts on clothes first.

"Would a Twilight hall Harper be turned into a toad if he turned up outside Blackstaff Tower in Waterdeep?"

Nope. Of course not. If he tried to break into the Tower and did the wrong things to the duty apprentice and whomever the duty apprentice called upon for aid, quite possibly yes - - but not for being a Harper of any sort. His treatment would depend entirely on his actions, and merely "turning up outside Blackstaff Tower" is about the same as saying "walk the streets of Waterdeep." And thousands of folk do that every day without so much as attracting Khelben's attention.

I hope this has been of some help. I don't want to say much more because of some projects under way that I'm aware of.

So saith Ed.

And there you have it.

Oh, and a quick additional note to Dargoth: no, Ed's Witch-Lords reference WASN'T to Bob's forthcoming novel, but rather to something else that must remain secret for now. I could tease just a little bit and say you'd be surprised at who IS connected to it - - but no, I won't do that to you.

love to all,


March 2, 2005: Hello, all. Ed speaks thus to simontrinity:

Yes, simontrinity, you've got it. Perfectly.

Ed also makes reply to FoolishOwl's philosophy questions:

Leaving aside lands outside Faerūn proper (i.e. Kara-Tur, the Al-Qadim regions, and Maztica), almost all philosophical traditions among humans are of two sorts: sages writing chapbooks and treatises (and every other ambitious merchant and malcontent crafter penning political polemic chapbooks and handbills), and formal, reasoned debate and written records of same - - this second sort of tradition being almost entirely fostered by, maintained within, and therefore coloured by, various churches. This means that very few philosophical traditions are useful to persons not of that faith (everything else is so slanted and circumscribed). The useful traditions are maintained by the churches of Oghma, Deneir, Milil, Mystra, and to a lesser extent Lathander, Chauntea, and Waukeen. The faiths of Silvanus, Eldath, Helm, Torm, Sźlune, and Tymora have interesting but verbal-only debating and philosophical traditions.

Most of the other intelligent races of Faerūn have philosophies dominated by the "our race is best, we shall overcome" viewpoint, with the most sophisticated debates taking place within the ranks of elves (of course), halflings, gnomes, illithids, and the Malaugrym.

The big philosophical debates of the day are twofold: the long-running, perennial "which god is truly the most powerful, and therefore what ultimate fate awaits Toril, and therefore which creed is 'most correct,' and therefore what should we all do?" and the newer "inheritance has been the root of rulership and land ownership for time out of mind, but we see increasingly corrupt and inept kings, nobles, and clan-chiefs; there are obviously alternatives, but are any of these better?"

So saith Ed.

Mmm-hmmm. I recall the philosophical problem Ed handed us once in Shadowdale: if a shapeshifter wearing the shape of Person X married a shapeshifter wearing the shape of Person Y, and the first shapeshifter had earlier murdered Person X, while his victim, the second shapeshifter, had earlier murdered Person Y, and both families (not knowing this) celebrated and anointed the wedding, only to discover what had happened MUCH later, should the wedding 'stand' as legal, joining the two families (and considering the fact that the two murdered persons had been in love and in the final stages of preparing for their wedding, with the approval of both families)?

I also recall the hilarious scene we Knights witnessed in a tavern in Waterdeep, where two sages were debating whether intent made an action evil, or the results of the action could be considered empirically evil. A brawl broke out, and these two old man heatedly finger-wagged at each other and ignored the mayhem (whilst men punched each other out, hurled chairs, swung broken flagons as weapons, and bled messily all over them) - - even when they both started to get hit and thrown around. "Yes, I KNOW he just slugged me, but let us assume for the sake of argument that I was NOT, in truth, his intended target..."

love to all,


March 3, 2005: Hello, all. Ed makes reply to Kentinal in the matter of those manor houses (for example, around Everlund):

Yes, Kentinal, you've got it: many of them are retreats for the wealthy (not always just for summer, but indeed the least hardy owners would vacate during the cold months). And yes, quite a few of them could be owned by drow, Zhents, Red Wizards, and other 'unsavouries,' often using portals or teleport spells or disguises to arrive and depart, and hired agents as house staff, builders, and guards. And yes, of course they can be (and in quite a few cases are) used as bases for various criminal activities (including detaining kidnapped victims to be sold into slavery or ransomed). For that reason, ownership is often concealed, and as a DM I wouldn't want to provide you or anyone with any definitive list of who owns which house, where. ;}

Around Everlund, these manor houses tend to be about a quarter mile apart (with grounds enclosed by hedges or stone walls or fences), and as one moves farther out from "Everlund proper," the houses become half a mile apart, then about a mile apart, and then about a mile and a half apart (and thereafter they peter out).

So saith Ed.

Who's busy busy busy writing must-remain-mysterious-for-now Realms fiction as I post this.

love to all,


March 5, 2005: Hello, fellow scribes. Ed makes reply to Melfius in the matter of Waterdhavian street traffic and etiquette (with a nod to Kentinal):

Rush hours occur daily in Waterdeep when the city gates open (almost always at dawn) and before they close (almost always at dusk, though sometimes they're kept open a little later when caravans are assembling outside the city, and there are lineups of wagons jammed inside the gates).

Other rush hours center on movements of goods to and from the docks when many large ships are loading or unloading, during festivals, guild parades, large contests at the Field of Triumph, and other events that tend to choke the streets, and for extraordinary events like the first warm bathing days (everyone heads to Sea Ward, to get to the beach), market fairs outside the walls (when multiple caravans arrive and the City Guard keeps them from entering due to crowding, so street vendors and eager shoppers go out to them), when the city's under attack, and so on.

As for how long the delays are, that's impossible to average out. Wagon traffic tends to disappear from Sea Ward and North Ward except during sharply-limited daylight hours, so as long as you're nimble enough to avoid nobles galloping horses and coaches whizzing about, pedestrians can get around most easily after dusk. That "easier after dark" rule also holds true (if one dares to go out) everywhere else in the city except around Caravan Court, and RIGHT on the docks (though much of Dock Ward can be slow going for someone not large, ugly, obviously well-armed, and walking with a lot of friends).

The City Guard controls access to the city (the various gates, plus a harbor patrol) but the Watch commands the streets within the city, calling on the Guard for reinforcements only when there's a riot, a pitched battle, or an attack on the city. (Watchful Order "magical reinforcements" may also be summoned by horn-call, whenever deemed necessary.)

Neither the Guard nor the Watch would ever establish a "sobriety checkpoint." As Kentinal said, they don't give a hoot how drunk someone is as long as they're not causing problems (smashing things in shops, drawing weapons and trying to kill people, blocking entry or egress or safe passage somewhere, or brawling). The Watch has wagons that trundle such 'trouble cases' off to dungeon cells under Castle Waterdeep, where their release can be obtained the next day upon payment of a fine (you should see this ALMOST happening in Realms fiction, later this year). Kentinal is quite right to observe that (by and large), "the Watch is reactive to problems, not seeking to cause problems." As he surmised, a noble would be helped home, but a commoner treated less kindly. To correct this a bit: a senior or female noble would be assisted home, whereas a rowdy drunken 'blade' or young male noble would (like a commoner) be hurled into a wagon and locked up for the night. For the commoner, the fine is punishment enough, and the blade is thus treated to humiliate (and fine) his family, in hopes that his parents would teach him a lesson.

The City Guard at the gates routinely inspects the contents of wagons (but of course, due to the sheer volume of goods, they can't do each wagon thoroughly, or every wagon - - so yes, they do random spot-checks). The Watch only does so when suspicious, or as a means of hassling someone into moving a wagon they seem unwilling to move ("All right then, Master Thorgund, I guess we'll just have to see what you consider so precious that it can't be moved one wheel-turn! Right, lads, let's have it all out and down onto the cobbles!"). Both the Guard and the Watch have the perfect right to do this. Yes, any contraband (or ANYTHING suspicious) will be seized, along with the wagon and its tenders, and 'brought along' to Castle Waterdeep for a full inspection (under the eyes of grim City Guard types with loaded crossbows, Watchful Order duty magists irritated at having their card and dice games interrupted, and so on).

However, I doubt you'd see Shou fireworks: Waterdhavian gnome-made ones, and Watchful Order concoctions, are far more popular in the city.

By the way, NO Guard or Watch officer is going to try to accept a bribe, and they WILL report all attempts to offer such. Nobles do receive more lenient inspections of wagons, but priests of Gond, for example, suffer VERY exactly everyday inspections of their wagons and carts - - and again, Kentinal is right: outlanders and known troublemakers will receive "hard eye" attention, while familiar local carters and peddlers will get a nod, a wave, and a quick glance inside the wagon. As in real-life customs inspections, if the person to be inspected holds out a sheaf of papers and eagerly says, "Here's a list of everything I'm carrying - - PLEASE check it, sir!" they'll often get waved past.

As for which festivals and holidays are the worst, that varies from year to year, though the first few days of Fleetswake are always bad.

So saith Ed.

More essential Waterdeep lore, to go alongside Eric Boyd's forthcoming treatise (and Ed and Elaine's novel, too).

Your happy fellow Realms devourer,
love to all,


On March 5, 2005 THO said: Hello, all. I'm going to try tackling a query myself, specifically this one from Melfius: "Being a 'famous' (ahem) fantasy cook myself I'd be VERY interested in a list of imaginary beasts used in Realmsian cooking. Can I get a little help here?"

Melfius, this refers to Ed's rejected DRAGON article "Dragon Soup." It was rejected, years back, because the DRAGON editors of the time thought it was immoral to have recipes that used intelligent creatures as ingredients. As Ed asked them, "Huh? So it's moral to murder them in order to steal their possessions, but immoral to cook and eat them afterwards?" (A paraphrase of their reply runs something like this: "Oh, go away. We're not going to discuss this.")

As I recall, the article included (of course) Dragon Soup, Baked Stirge on Toast, Kobold Hash, a Wyvern recipe, and a lot of other, more complicated dishes.

In short, Ed postulated that various cooks would have tried darn near every critter they could get their hands on, and have SOME recipe for it (even if it's just adventurers' trail notes on how to prepare crow or vulture for eating so one doesn't just vomit it right back up).

Like the notes mentioned in an earlier post, my copy is inaccessible up at my cottage right now, and I know Ed won't reveal the text of the article here because a TSR editor asked for it on a later occasion, so WotC now owns it and COULD publish it, in some form or other.

Ed has a quite extensive collection of "look back at medieval recipes" books, from Take a Thousand Eggs Or More to Pleyn Delit. He's tried some of them, and has commented to me in the past that many of them are delicious (if you don't care what damage you're doing to your arteries), but that he's no fan of the medieval practise of making savoury meats sweet (with sugar glazes and icings), and sweets savoury. He has enjoyed the "whole roast pig" on occasion, and various fresh-caught moose and fish dishes.

love to all,


March 6, 2005: Hello, all. Elfinblade, Ed's going to tackle your various commodities questions separately, starting with coffee:

Hi, Stig! Yes, coffee is known in the Realms (usually as "kaeth"), but (aside from in the most cosmopolitan ports, like Waterdeep, Athkatla, and Westgate) it's rare north of Calimshan and the southern Vilhon shores.

Its major sources are south and east of Durpar, about halfway up the east side of Anauroch, and overseas to the west (Maztica).

Sacks of beans from overseas are brought in to Baldur's Gate and there trans-shipped elsewhere, mainly south to Calimshan and the Tashalar. These beans are large, soft (crumbly), and reddish-brown.

The Bedine of Anauroch call coffee "qahwa" or just "qaw") and trade little in it, these days (post-reappearance of Shade; the surviving Bedine consume almost all of their qaw themselves). Through the D'Tarig, a tiny trickle of Bedine beans formerly reached Zhentil Keep, and thence Hillsfar and Sembia. This source is now EXTREMELY unreliable and paltry, though wealthy Sembian coffee-drinkers have bid the price up high. Anauran beans are small, hard, and such a dark brown that they look black.

The beans from beyond Durpar are usually known as "Thondur's" after a now-deceased trader who for a time controlled the entire trade in coffee reaching Calimshan, the Tashalar, and the Vilhon. Thondur amassed a staggering fortune, much of which has never been found (thanks to his habit of establishing literally hundreds of secret caches, all over Faerūn) after he was publicly torn apart by a "pet" dragon some sixty years ago. The beans are now more plentiful and cheaper (thanks to the shattering of his monopoly), and form the bulk of the supply enjoyed in southern lands of the Realms. Thondur's beans are large, have a pronounced cleft or depressed line running their length (making them somewhat like cowrie shells in shape), and have a bluish tint to their chestnut brown colour.

Although the coffees available in the Realms vary from place to place with the precise species of trees, they're all derived the same way: the stunted mountainside coffee trees yielding beans that are dried in the sun (usually on rocks), sewn into sacks, and shipped long distances to consumers who grind the beans just before brewing. The sacks of beans are put into coffin-like (and battered, because they're re-used over and over) crates for wagon-travel or barge trips, and the sacks are tossed loose into ship hulls, so they can be arranged evenly (as stable ballast).

It should be noted that coffee is drunk black in Calimshan and the Tashalar (its taste often altered with dried, ground nuts and roots, even "dusts" as strong as ginger), but in Sembia is usually mixed with melted chocolate and/or "cordials" (liqueurs).

Cider mugs are usually used for coffee-drinking in northerly places, but in the south small palm-sized bowls with outflaring tops and 'drinking spouts' (looking rather like a small real-life china Victorian cream jug, only one drinks coffee from the narrow shovel-spout rather than pouring the cream out of it) are favoured. These are known formally as "kavvar" or colloquially as just "cups," and coffee is usually formally called "kaeth" and colloquially known as "fireswallow." Bad coffee will be described with any handy oath in northern lands, but in the South there's a word for crappy coffee: "ortulag" ("OR-tul-lag"), which derives from a now-defunct dialect word meaning "warmed-over chamberpot rinse."

Hope this is of help. Tea next time, I think.

So saith Ed.

Essential Realmslore for many. Onward! (Keep on swimming, keep on swimming...)

love to all,


March 7, 2005: Hello, all. Housekeeping time again, as Ed makes brief replies:

To Gareth Yaztromo: our lovely Lady Hooded got everything just right in her reply to you. A Chosen isn't a Magister, though a few Chosen have in their pasts been Magister (before becoming Chosen). None of which should be confused with Magisters in Waterdeep and elsewhere who are judges, not necessarily arcane spellcasters or anything to do with Mystra at all.

To Verghityax: still hunting them down. I've made contact with one who believes Elturel is still encumbered by a contract whose duration hasn't run out yet (in other words, a company that purchased a license from TSR may still have some time to use Elturel, though they likely won't). If this is the case, I'm afraid it's NDA time for me. Regarding Baldur's Gate's legal code: I can't say anything at all (NDA), but I CAN speak about Secomber, so I'll get to work on that for you.

To koka-bold lich: I don't think anyone can be absolutely certain about Benadi's fate, but he's dropped entirely out of sight, and it's highly likely that Hoondatha is correct: he was destroyed along with almost all baneliches when Fzoul snatched their power from them.

To Dargoth: I did up (2nd Edition) all sorts of faith-specific curses. Some were handed in to TSR and thus are behind the great NDA wall, but I'll look through my notes and see what I can pass on here, okay?

To Skeptic: I hope to see something new on the Moonsea right along with you, but please bear in mind that I don't get to choose what Realms products will be released. As for the website, I can say that I haven't written anything that will satisfy you for 2006 (and I don't have a free hand to just write about any topic I want to). Live long, cultivate patience, and... you'll end up like me. Or if you're lucky, you won't end up like me. :} Seriously, your query will serve as a reminder I can toss into the WotC pot, and we'll just have to see what happens. As for your "quick info" request, I'll see what I can do, but it won't be quick. I'm booked solid up past GenCon already!

To Evro: Murray Leeder said far more than I could about Mythkar Leng and Lord Geildarr of Llorkh. (Ahem.) Don't miss SON OF THUNDER, expected in January 2006!

So saith Ed.

Whew! (Dusts off hands.) Much business dealt with; more on the morrow, fellow Realms scribes!



March 8, 2005: Hello, scribes. Ed replies to Lameth (simontrinity, this reply touches on your Uttersea question, too):

I'm sorry, Lameth, but NDA concerns prevent me from telling you much of anything about the northern island of Gundarlun right now. I can say that the fierce warriors who dwell on this cold, mountainous island (warmed only by volcanic vents, in deep rifts beneath some of the caverns that underlie the oldest human settlements) were in the original Realms the closest thing I had to Vikings: raiders who fared forth in longships they could row if need be, to prey on coastal fishing villages of Ruathym, the wharves of Luskan, and merchant ships plying the northern waters of the Sword Coast.

Originally "Gundarlun" was just the name of the largest "city" (in the Heartlands it'd be a large village) on the island, a cluster of stern, spartan stone block houses with tile roofs, around a small natural harbor on the northern side of the island, but (as the folk of that place conquered all rivals on the island) it came to mean the entire isle, with "Gun-DAR-lun" meaning the island kingdom, and "GUN-dar-lun" meaning just the city.

The folk of Gundarlun are deepsea fishers (using both vast drift-nets and drag-nets, the latter often 'run' between two ships sailing abreast, to form a great scoop), and make their roofing, waterproofing, plumbing, and even some furniture of tile, digging out local seams of clay and firing them with great skill. Their island realm is rocky and windswept, with only a few meadows in the interior (in former volcanic basins, below the level of the surrounding rocks and the full fury of the sea winds). See "The North" boxed set for additional details, largely added by other designers.

The island of Tuern had scanty information in my original Realms. Basically, I knew this much: it was also mountainous, volcanic, and having one stone-fortress-and-cave 'city' (more of a town in size) human settlement, Uttersea, that had to be formidable to withstand the attacks of dragons dwelling on Tuern. Again, "The North" expanded slightly on this.

If you need more specific information on Gundarlun and/or Tuern, I'll be happy to provide it, but you'll have to be patient (it may take months before I can get to it), and you'll have to be more specific as to exactly what you need. Otherwise, your request is a little bit like saying, "Tell me all about the world. Yes, everything."

As for the Waterdeep novel: it certainly includes dragons as in the gold coins used in Waterdeep, and in one other way, too - - but I certainly hope its pages won't also contain any of the 'big winged wyrm' sort of dragon: it's crowded enough already! :}

So saith Ed.

Who tells me the "final final" text of CITY OF SPLENDORS is now in the hands of Wizards of the Coast for editing, and that he's pretty much run out of teasing little tidbits he can tell you about the novel, now, without giving the whole darn story away and violating his contract. So we'll just have to wait... patiently (I know that's hard, but pretend you're spending the time in bed, with [fill in this space with personal preference]). There, that should make it easier.

love to all,


March 9, 2005: Hello, all. Ed's latest reply:

rjs, SiriusBlack has directed you to as much as any of us know about Castlemorn's current status. I wrote three short stories, a LONG overview of the setting (plus gobs of additional detail on particular places), and drew a map. Jim Ward and Sean Everette (perhaps with assistance from others; I'm not sure) turned my raw, no-game-rules material into a d20 sourcebook, and Fast Forward sent me a fun Castlemorn boardgame for my approval (which I gave).

John Danovich of Studio 2 has inherited all the "getting it to market" headaches, and we'll just have to see how and when it appears.

I can tell you that it is smaller in 'compass' (real estate and world-view) than the Realms, but is just as rich a setting, and could easily fit "on a neglected part of the globe of Toril" if a DM wants to add it to an established Realms campaign, or stand on its own just fine as the basis for a long-running D&D campaign.

So saith Ed.

Slipping in Realms-relevance, of course.

love to all,


March 10, 2005: Hi, fellow scribes. Ed speaks on matters Malaugrym:

zeathiel and Hoondatha, thank you for raising this always-fun topic! Let's do the names first, and the critters second, okay?

The Malaugrym do have 'family' given names, being descended from Malaug (they call themselves 'the Blood of Malaug,' and that's as close as they get to a surname). Feel free to coin new names, because the Malaugrym tend to be fertile, mate often, and often hide offspring from kin they dislike, so it's always hard to pin down their exact numbers and genealogy, and I hope to keep it that way. Hoondatha, I just make 'em up! :} For those who find it hard to invent names, make a list of the existing relevant names (in this case, Malaugrym monikers), by gender, and note the lengths and dominant sounds in those names. Combine a few, and both write and say them aloud to make sure they don't sound silly or inappropriate (unintentionally resembling something modern that 'jolts' you mentally out of the Realms, for example). There. Done. :}

Oh, ALL right, here are a few hitherto (young) unknown male Malaugrym: Aumkuel, Ithimar, Meirurr, Othlur, Rauthauk.

And here are a few ditto females: Lilaurauna, Maurmagh, Nresmue, Sesrune, Yathakla.

As for the Malaugrym themselves, THEY are (in most cases) well aware of the "true" genders of their kin, although they all assume any shapes they desire, and have no taboos against incest, physical self-love (easy for creatures who can 'grow' male and female 'bits' at will), changing gender repeatedly, and so on - - and are only wary of particular couplings or orgies in groups because of mistrust of particular kin (trying to harm, coerce, or murder them). They can be raped (with great difficulty) but can control fertilization (no unwanted pregnancies), and the males have to alter themselves with intense concentration over long periods of time to make their bodies 'grow' eggs that are fertile.

Outsiders are usually unaware of the mutable genders of Malaugrym; once they become aware, they'll probably be uncertain of the gender of whomever they're dealing with, and of course usually end up "knowing" disguises assumed by one (or more!) Malaugrym, and thinking of gender on the basis of these artificial personas. The Malaugrym have different attitudes towards gender than humans (read: it matters far less to them, socially), and don't "think" of any of their kin in gender terms except the most stable-form elders (those who seemingly 'never change gender'). With that said, most of them DO have 'favourite genders' that they 'wear' most of the time. Hoondatha, it need not be their original gender (some react strongly against being the females they were born as, because of their earliest years of hating domination of themselves and their mothers by dominant male Malaugrym, and some dominant male Malaugrym are sexually excited by submitting to weaker Malaugrym, and usually take on female forms to 'enjoy' this submission), but almost always is.

And yes, it's "Malaugrym." Certain recent human sages may have chosen to refer to them as "Malaugryms," but no one cleared that fashion-change with the House of Malaug, believe me.

Hoondatha, thank you for the kind words about my Shadows of the Avatar books. I think the first book is the best-written (I had four months to do it in, instead of four or five weeks like the latter two), and although they still suffer from "wandering plot ends due to my writing too long" problems, and of course dovetail with the Avatar trilogy and suffer a lot from the "Huh? Why is ANY of this happening?" reaction if considered in isolation from those books, I still like them. The covers don't thrill me, because I wanted to see Malaugrym in mid-shift (the sinister, beautiful human female casually sipping wine whilst her extremities reach around as tentacles to menace the human she's dallying with, or a human noble in a fancy festing-hall, in mid-sword-swing battle against a Malaugrym, with the snarling Malaugrym growing fanged mouths on stalks, and splitting tentacles into half-a-dozen mini-tentacles to snatch down a huge array of trophy weapons from the nearest wall - - that sort of thing).

And as for your Magelord question: bingo. THANK you. I love it when I slip something into a book and someone figures it out. So, yes, 'he was him.' :}

So saith Ed.

Who laughed aloud when I read him that question over the phone (before e-sending it in the usual way, of course). More lore to come in the days ahead, of course.

love to all,


March 11, 2005: Hello, fellow scribes. Ed makes reply to Mr. Wilson, in his query about Breeandra and Ambreeauta Nenthyn of the Fall of Stars in Harrowdale:

Another of the "I like" questions. Thank you. :}

(And no, as far as I know, this matter has never been answered by anyone before.) Glad you like the idea of the Fall of Stars; I think it would make a great setting for a campaign or a series of novels (hint hint hint).

Yes, I did mean to "show a different side of Loviatar" with this mother and daughter, one hitherto glossed over for TSR code of Ethics/WotC Code of Conduct reasons, but alluded to in FAITHS AND PANTHEONS: "give pain and torment to those who enjoy it."

Breeandra and Ambreeauta are this sort of Loviatar worshipper: those who like to feel pain, and out of this enjoyment, are willing to inflict pain on others who share their tastes. In short, loving masochists. (Who may be of any alignment, and usually worship Loviatar 'on the side.')

Breeandra and Ambreeauta admire adventurers (they're "fans," if you will) as folk who brave danger and the unknown (but likely unsafe and uncomfortable) out of some inner need or restlessness - - that they share. Hence the founding of the Fall of Stars.

Breeandra is an example of someone who was reared in such thinking (though her spirit of character is such that she'd certainly have repudiated it if she didn't feel this way herself) by her mother.

Ambreeauta never married, but was a fiercely independent, free-wheeling adventuress who took all manner of lovers, and retired from adventuring when the mate she'd chosen to settle down with (Breeandra's father) was killed in an adventure that went awry (Breeandra had JUST been conceived).

Breeandra and Ambreeauta do also both worship Tymora and Sune, as well as venerating Tempus and Waukeen, and aren't priestesses of Loviatar. Nevertheless, they regard her as their 'true' deity. (Ilmater they respect, but don't worship in any way; worship of the Broken One is for those who hate, fear, or are repelled or sickened by pain, but undergo it anyway - - not for those who derive any enjoyment from it. A devout follower of Ilmater often derives pride from his or her endurance of pain, but to enjoy pain is wrong to that faith.)

Ambreeauta is of course now undead and beyond character stats, and an NDA prevents me from saying too much about her, I'm afraid, but I'd place her as NG and Breeandra as CG, and see Breeandra as this: CG female human Ftr1/Sor1 (largely inexperienced, but not untrained, thanks to the clientele of the Fall of Stars). To add one last hint, I'd say she has a future ahead of her that we may all know more about in time to come.

So saith Ed.

Interesting. VERY interesting. To confirm (I asked Ed this): no, neither Ambreeauta nor Breeandra are, or ever have been, priestesses of Loviatar. They're worshippers, plain and simple. Also, I recall from Realmsplay that Breeandra is bisexual, but her mother (the floating skull, remember) is scornfully sarcastic in her disapproval of Breeandra making love to other women, openly preferring that her daughter consort just with men-and commenting as much, 'during the fun.' Whilst Torm sits there bright-eyed, drinking in every word. I still chuckle at Ed roleplaying some of their rather tart exchanges.

love to all,


March 11, 2005: Oh, dear. I'd forgotten about that little lore problem. It arose out of editing, and is an over- simplification.

Let me try to set things straight. Here are Ed's words, from a note of to me his last year:

There's a strong xenophobic streak in Luskan (that really began as an anti-dwarves, anti-elves, and of course anti-orcs) thas led to various administrations there, over the years, "banning" people who didn't look to be pure human from MOST of Luskan (the 'docks' of the port proper always excluded, because discouraging mixed-blood crews means ships stay away and Neverwinter takes over as the dominant port in the area).

This "non-humans keep out" rule has waxed and waned over the years, but has steadily lost public support. Half-bloods (even half-orcs!) have been openly tolerated for years. The Arcane Brotherhood tried to revive banning non-humans for their own purposes (allowing them to arrest, imprison, and confiscate all goods and property for their own enrichment), but this heavy-handed action, seen for what it really was by the cynical populace (increasing numbers of whom are relying on the dwarf-borne wealth coming from Mirabar), was the last straw. Non-humans are banned in Luskan no longer. In certain places and situations they may still get beaten up, mind you...

So there you have it.

love to all,


March 12, 2005: Hello, all. Ed of the Greenwood herewith makes reply to kuje31 re. this: "So what can you tell us about Dessra of the Dark Desires?"

Hi, kuje. Dessra was of course left as cryptic as possible because of TSR's Code of Ethics.

All most folk of Waterdeep know of her is that she's "A dangerous lady-of-pleasure who can work dark magics for you."

She attracts clients with her reputation for enjoying sex (with them) and willingness to use sex magic (in which they participate) to further their ends (the goals they hire her to help them accomplish).

The "dark" part of it comes from the purported danger of what's being done (Dessra pretends to clients that she's calling up "evil spirits" to help enact their aims, that this is risky to her but not to them, and that she's quite willing to do illegal and murderous things). She surrounds her 'rituals' with an air of mystery and with lots of 'stage dressing' (black cats, candles, dark cloaks, dimly-lit stone chambers, blood that she dyes and doctors with substances that will make it glow or smoke upon air contact, so she can pass it off as the blood of various monsters, her nudity, and so on)... all of which brings her a steady stream of excited, malicious clients, mainly merchants who want to "get back at" a rival whom they can't or daren't "use the law on."

Dessra's personal defenses include foot-treadle-fired hand crossbows concealed about her chambers and aimed at various doorways and chairs, and long false nails; when these sheaths slide off, they lay bare her own nails, which are cut to points and smeared with paralyzing (carrion crawler brain juice) and sleep (drow) poisons (both of which Dessra is now immune to, having successfully dosed herself with them for years, in ever-increasing dosages, in conjunction with spells cast on herself, to achieve this effect).

Dessra briefly tried a career as an adventuress, and took training with longsword and dagger, but abandoned this swiftly when she discovered that Undermountain was truly dangerous, and wasn't a-glitter with heaps of gold coins slumping out of chests in every other room. Because she enjoyed sex and happened to be beautiful, she took up prostitution as a working lass at the Purple Palace, trying to 'set herself apart' from the outset (so as to gain fame and commander higher fees) with her 'dark magic' act.

That act grew out of something she hadn't yet realized or started to develop (at the time Volo did the tour that grew into VOLO'S GUIDE TO WATERDEEP): she does have a natural talent for the Art, and may in time build herself into a powerful sorceress.

So the Volo's stat line: "CN hf F2, Dex 16, Cha 16" was current for Dessra as a fighter (she was included therein because she briefly advertised herself as a bodyguard for hire - - for fat merchants who really wanted 'show flesh' in the form of a scantily-dressed trophy on their arms at feasts and revels, rather than real protection - - and so could very easily have come into contact [ahem, so to speak] with PCs adventuring in Waterdeep).

She should now more accurately be, in v3.5 terms: CE female human Ftr2/Sor2, Dex 16, Cha 17.

This reflects her moral shift, her development as a sorceress, her magical augmentation of her beauty, and her deliberate change in her manner to be more alluring and mysterious and commanding.

Those who deal with her should bear in mind that she has the Silent Spell and Still Spell feats, and so can work magic without all of her 'show' rituals of candles lit on her breasts, floggings of her until her blood flows (and can be directed, drop by drop, into chalices), and so on. Dessra isn't interested in leaving the Purple Palace to go on adventures or for anything else (she feels, ahem, naked without her defensive traps and weapons). She has a few clients who are minor sorcerers, and pay for their pleasure with her by discussing spells (guiding her practise and development).

So saith Ed.

Who sent this to me with the note: "I KNOW you'll not be able to resist commenting on this one!"

He's right, of course. We Knights only met Dessra once, in her "I'll be your bodyguard for your friends to ogle" phase. Torm 'met' her a second time, rather more closely than the rest of us: skulking through a secret passage trying to find a way to eavesdrop on a certain 'shady business' meeting between five Waterdhavian merchants, he found a spyhole-panel, cautiously slid it open, looked up-and discovered he was right underneath a ankle-length-gowned lady who, as he put it, "Wasn't wearing anything under her gown." He later explained his long, silent staring by claiming that he "could see a lot of what was going on" from that vantage-point.

[sarcasm on]
I'm sure he could.
[sarcasm off]

Oh, yes: mindful of his previous reply, I asked Ed if Dessra took clients of both genders. He said yes, but she vastly preferred males (elves, half-elves, and humans).

love to all,


March 13, 2005: As far as I can recall, re. A Gavel's query: Steven wrote almost all of it (using Ed's very brief overall outline of the character of Amn and Tethyr, the Council of Six, and so on), and Ed was his weekly consultant (cheerleader). But I'll let the two gentlemen who know the truth speak.

And now, Ed replies to a request from Lore Lord of the Realms George Krashos, for "names/titles for the various races in respect of rulers of places/kingdoms etc." as follows:

Ah, a deliciously useful question, George. Not as delicious as my Lady Hooded, but... ahem, being happily married to a lady (who plays D&D in the Realms on rare occasions), I really wouldn't know anything about that, and must be relying entirely on my overly vivid imagination. Yes, that's it! ;}

To answer this properly would take a long time and much space, but here's a quick and incomplete summary that largely ignores local idiosyncrasies, etymologies, and suchlike (and leaves out religious ranks and offices entirely):

ELVES (additional to Coronal, etc.):
[[The following terms aren't used in every elven realm or community.]]
The mayor or 'chief of police and defense' of a community is a DESMRAR (DESMRIL if female) ("DEZZ-mrar" or "DEZZ-mrill").
A far-traveled, experienced elf who knows or remembers a lot, and can impart it (humans might use the term 'sage,' but that often implies book-learning and deduction, whereas the elves mean someone who's seen with their own eyes, and only augments their own experience with what they've learned from others) is often, regardless of gender, called an ALANTAR ("Al-LAN-tar").
A war leader (unit commander) or mission leader is sometimes called a TELEGAUNT ("TELL-eh-gont"), regardless of gender, but this term is usually used only if the individual is a veteran of proven merit.
A SHEE (in some places, "SHREE") was a wise female elder, strong in magic (in some cases, High Magic specifically; this is a corruption of the very old Elven word VELARSHEE) ("Ssh-EE" or "Shh-REE") Finally, IYILITAR ("ILL-i-tar") was a unigender equivalent to Coronal in elder days, but is nigh-forgotten today.

The hereditary ruler of a kingdom, regardless of gender, is an ARCORM (long ago corrupted into "Arcrown," a form used by some dwarves today: ARCROWN) ("ARR-corrum" or "AR-crown")
A clan-chief, regardless of gender (most clans elect chiefs, from a limited number of candidates determined by blood descent, some clans excluding or preferring individuals on gender or gender-descent grounds), is a HARAXLORL (corrupted into "Axelord," the usual form used by dwarves today: AXELORD) ("Har-AX-lore-ull" or "AX-lord")
An elder or senior officer of a community, clan, or family is a TULVADE ("Tull-VAY-dd"), regardless of gender; this term originally meant 'old veteran of wars,' and dwarven writings should be examined with that in mind.
A war-leader was of old called an IRAUNLOR in some realms and clans (this being a unigender title that could be held in addition to other titles), but this was long ago corrupted into "Iron Lord," and this latter form is the only one used by [some] dwarves today: IRON LORD) ("EYE-rawn-lorr" or "EYE-urn Lord")

The hereditary ruler of a kingdom is a DARANDAR (MARANDAR if female, and unlike most other races, most gnomes value female descent slightly more favourably than male descent ) ("Dar-AND-ar" or "Mar-AND-ar")
A chosen, elected, or co-ruler (as part of a council or DARTH-DEIR [ = ruling circle]) is a DARRATH ("DAR-rath")
A clan or family head is a STURTH (this refers to spokesgnome and daily move-and-shaker, not "the oldest gnome of the blood;" many old females decide which slightly younger male or female is going to be their Sturth) ("Ss-TURTH")
A mayor or community head is a DOAMEN ("DOE-men")
An elder or any officer of a community is an URSTDOH ("URR-st-doe")

All of the above terms are gender-neutral, though they tend to be held by males (except for "elders," wherein the politically active elders and officers tend to be more male than female, with the females concentrating on being 'wise old crones,' mothering individuals who come to them for advice, loans, or medicines)

The hereditary ruler of a kingdom is a KLAEL ("CLAY-ull"), a term little used today, except in the Border Kingdoms (where the proud hin bearing it rule a realm rarely larger than a farm)
A chosen, elected, or co-ruler (as part of a governing council) is an ARBAERN ("Arr-BARE-unn"), sometimes mistakenly called "Har-baron" by humans, and in a few cases the halflings don't bother to correct this, and even start using it themselves)
A clan or family head is an AULDOAN ("Awld-OH-nn"), corrupted in some human records to "Old Stone") and Auldoans are usually affectionately known by hin as "The Old," as a prefix, so the head of Clan Minstrelwish will be referred to, even to his face, as "The Old Minstrelwish"
A mayor or community head is a VORN ("VOARR-en")
An elder or any officer of a community is a HORUL ("HOAR-ull")

All of the above terms are gender-neutral, though they tend to be held by males (except for "elders," wherein the politically active elders and officers tend to be more female than male, with the males concentrating on being 'wise old gaffers' gruffly dispensing often-unlooked-for advice or physical assistance)

Use a huge and everchanging list of titles, far too long to explore here, but I'll give just a few "ruler and nobility" titles. All are gender-neutral unless otherwise noted:

Sceptanar (wizard-king; officially he rules all, though in practise the city-states do as they please), with noble ranks as follows:
Nornar (duke, city ruler: various city lords craft their own fanciful titles, such as Melarch, Tarlarch, and Yoevyarkh)
Marquar (marquis)
Klelandar (viscount)
Thardoun (earl)
Deltharkh (baron)
Corlar (knight, baronet)

(The above titles are echoed [minor variations] in Tashluta and in various places in the Border Kingdoms and around the Vilhon)

Mulmaster (and many small independent realms and city-states around the Sea of Fallen Stars and points north [recent maps have 'tidied up' many tiny realms by simply omitting mention of them]:
High Blade (ruler)
Blades (nobles, sometimes differentiated by colors [e.g Blue Blade, Black Blade] or honorifics [Drawn Blade, Vigilant Blade), and almost always styled "of" a place, thus: Tharcel Marlmantle, Blue Blade of Port Malivar

Veldorn: the monster-ruled cities employ a huge variety of fanciful titles, but also echo an old hierarchy of ancient human realms of the South, remnants of which can be found in hundreds of towns and villages south of the Shaar and east of Chult, especially to the east of the area shown on most published maps thus far:

Ormelarch (king or realm ruler) ("OAR-mel-ark"), almost always styled "The Ormelarch"
Voivarr (duke or city ruler) ("VOY-varr")
Nahloud (marquis or army commander/castle-lord) ("Nah-LOOD")
Dauncelpad (viscount or envoy and negotiator of king) ("DON-sell-pad") [Dauncelpara or Dauncelara if female]
Skorn (earl or territory ruler) [Skornra if female]
Ultarkh (town ruler, keep-ruler, regional forces commander) ("ULL-tark")
Lancelar (knight, baronet)

So saith Ed.

Who hinted that he'd have said more if there wasn't yet another NDA looming up to meet him. Regarding his opening comments: Ah, yes, the old cinammon on the nipples trick lures 'em, every time.

love to all,


March 14, 2005: Hello, all. Divers swift matters, and then a meaty Realmslore reply from Ed, this time:

Melfius, Ed would love to go out for dinner. He LIKES food. Unfortunately, he rarely gets to Cleveland, and when he does, it's usually driving through it at four in the morning. However, those Nobel Prizes sound inviting. And me? I might just come along as a hood ornament. (Not the first time I've ridden a vehicle in that role.)

malchor7, a Coronal is an elven ruling title (a ruler, darn close to 'Emperor,' and not the equivalent of a general).

And to Mr. Wilson: Ed says you're very welcome, and thanks for asking.

Ed makes reply to Foxhelm:

Hi, Foxhelm. Let's begin with Finder Wyvernspur.

First of all, I'll be very surprised if anything on Finder appears in the forthcoming Waterdeep sourcebook. There just isn't room in its pages to delve into even half the details one would want to about the city.

Waterdeep's chapel to Finder is largely unknown to most Waterdhavians. They've "heard of it," but know little of where it is, what happens there, and why they should care.

Unless, that is, they're struggling artists, sculptors, musicians, and especially composers (mainly young aspirers, but also older, accomplished individuals who've "lost the fire," becoming burnt-out or bored). Such folk come to the chapel seeking inspiration. They pray in solitude, sometimes meditating over their works of art or looking at offerings (other works of art, or in some cases 'touchspells' crafted by traveling priests of Finder: these are small, delicate, spiderweb-like assemblies of apparently-scrap twigs, wire, scraps of metal, and humna hair, that when touched activate a cantrip cast upon them, akin to "ghost pipes," that 'plays' a brief tune or snatch of song) left in the temple by other worshippers. Some even try to compose or craft new works of art before the altar, while praying or holding vigil, or sleep there, hoping for visions.

Many claim to have received such, or more often heard and seen nothing, but at some moment soon thereafter have suddenly been seized with inspiration (a trigger such as a particular smell, taste, or sound brings to mind a vision of the chapel, and then creative fire is ipon them and they devise a new lyric, tune, scene to draw, design, or whatever.

There's no formal relationship with Waterdeep's established bards or the college, but word is spreading of the chapel's powers, and curiosity is luring many "creatives" to come and see. It's certainly become a must-seek stop for traveling minstrels who come to Waterdeep. The Lords of Waterdeep (or more accurately, the Palace officials) have no quarrel with the chapel at all, as it seems both 'untroublesome' and possibly beneficial to new business ventures, increased prosperity, and happiness for some citizens. Its worshippers are right now few and disorganized, not an organized presence that seeks to influence governing decisions or demand changes in city customs, conditions, or laws, so they largely don't think about it (amid all their daily worries and loud-voiced citizen-headaches).

In Waterdeep, at least, almost four in five worshippers of Finder are human, and almost one in five are half-elves, but yes, I'd say there'd be more saurials as one goes out into the wilderlands and approaches the Moonsea area, and certainly tieflings, other planetouched, and all sorts of other creatures would be attracted to the faith (as would anyone agitating for change in creative processes, even at the craft-guild level). It's always important to remember that the vast majority of folk in Faerūn don't "turn from one god to another" so much as they add a new god to the selection of deities they worship most often; only priests (and monks, and paladins, and persons filling other church-related roles), fanatics, and the very young and eager tend to focus on just one god.

I'd say that even fewer folk in Cormyr are familiar with what Finder the god stands for, and his worship in the Forest Kingdoms will be at a few hidden, private shrines (the only well-appointed ones being private upper-room chapels of wealthy nobles who have artistic ambitions). Most 'avergae Cormyreans' would scoff when told 'one of their own' has ascended to godhood - - especially those who had dealings with the mortal and very arrogant Finder himself ("Didn't strike me as one who'd ascend to mighty power and stride the sky, like - - no, sir!").

The Wyvernspurs, of course, know better, but Giogi and Cat are special people, and I'll leave all comment on them to my dear friends Jeff Grubb and Kate Novak-Grubb, their creators. My opinion would be that Giogi is impressed but a little bewildered at what happened to Finder (think Hugh Lawrie as Bertie Wooster, blinking in pleased astonishment after Stephen Fry's Jeeves has saved the day once more).

In short, it's too early to say how popular Finder's faith will become. It has the character of a belief that could become very popular if calamities or decadence sour many folk of Faerūn on the faiths they cling most strongly to right now - - but that could quickly be marred if Finder does something seen as arrogant or foolish, or a Finder Wyvernspur priesthood grows too strong and too authoritarian.

Now, to your other questions. First: "Has there ever been a realms character that some one else has created that you really wished that you had created?"

No, because the characters I find most attractive I tend to like just the way they are - - and their creator (not me) made them that way. I'm not jealous of the creations of others in the Realms, I'm delighted, because these are the only elements of the Realms that can surprise as well as delight me. If you mean characters created by others that really grab me, I'm especially fond of Zaknafein, Danilo Thann, Jarlaxle, and Giogi Wyvernspur.

Second: "What do you like to do in your down time? Do you like to read, watch TV or movies, or play video games?"

Ahem, WHAT "down time"? I live, eat, and sleep the Realms, and barely have time for my other writing, the demands of real life, and my library job. Seriously, I have a house full of unwatched movies and an even larger collection of read and re-read books, I've never played a video game in my life (and I've played only a very few computer games, despite working on more than a few), and I watch only snatches of television, usually the news and when I can the UK version of the Antiques Roadshow (a GREAT source of D&D treasures, background lore, and colorful characters, by the way, but waste no time on the price-is-all-we-care-about American version), Jon Stewart's The Daily Show, Rick Mercer's Monday Report, and occasional short-run series like This Is Wonderland. I sometimes catch Mythbusters on Discovery Channel, and enjoy it. When I could still catch them, I used to enjoy (again, the UK version) Robot Wars and Red Dwarf - - but please bear in mind that my television watching is VERY sparse.

Most of my true leisure time is spent reading books. I often fall asleep in bed, VERY late (ahem, that'd really be early in the morning) re-reading favourites like the Amber books, Discworld novels, Lord Darcy tales, and so on.

So saith Ed.

Anyone who's ever been to his cottage can attest to the broad and roleplaying games, records, CDs, and wall-to-wall books that dominate his fun time. He forgot to mention the graphic novels and comics he enjoys, too, like Cerebus, Girl Genius, Buck Godot, Strangers In Paradise, Bone...

Enough. Otherwise this'll stop being leisure and turn into work!

love to all,


March 15, 2005: Hello, all. This time, Ed makes reply to Ethriel:

Well met, Ethriel. Garen Thal has done his usual superb job on answers Cormyrean. Trust every word of his replies to you. As Wooly correctly pointed out, magical means were involved in the longevity of at least Vangerdahast, and to confirm: no, they weren't Chosen of Mystra.

As for Rowen Cormaeril and Lorelei's afterlife: though we may in time say more of such matters, I consider those Troy's characters. I think he's busy crafting Star Wars novels at the moment, but I'd hope he'd be involved in any future writing about the fates of either Rowen or Lorelei.

As for Thanderahast's duel with Luthax, I'd love to see it, too. I'm not sure when I might be able to sneak it into print if I stole a few minutes to write it, but... we'll see.

As for Brantarra's son: he'd have to be very stupid and arrogant to try to push an open claim for the Dragon Throne - - because he can see the lineup of claimants already there, as Garen Thal pointed out, and because it just wouldn't be worth it. Now, he might try to see if being of blood of Azoun can get him past any wards in the Royal Palace to try to snatch some magic or wealth, but in my opinion he'd find out very swiftly that it wouldn't. Leaving him as just one more ambitious Thayan in a land full of such, disliked for his origin in Cormyr before anyone doing the disliking knows anything at all of his parentage, and with little chance of achieving anything except by brute force. And there's a lineup on THAT road to the Throne, too, what with all the greedy Sembians and ambitious exiled nobles of Cormyr. He'd do better to forget the throne of Cormyr and instead try to take over a Sembian family from within - - and so get all the wealth and most of the power without putting himself on everyone's "Slay Soonest" list.

So saith Ed, THE Lore-Sage of the Realms.

Ah, yes, the 'Slay Soonest' list. Mine's around here somewhere... possibly hidden under my rather larger 'Seduce Soonest' list.



March 16, 2005: Hello, all. To A Gavel, Jerryd, and all scribes, Ed says this:

Re. the Sir Roberts (Peel and Cecil), A Gavel has it right; that's exactly what I did. Thanks for the catch, Gavel! And to Jerryd and other scribes reading this thread, I'm sorry I led you astray. Yup, getting old, indeed. :{

Then, Ed replies to MrH about so harshly eliminating Shandril Shessair in HAND OF FIRE:

You're welcome, MrH, and I love crafting them. Shandril Shessair's demise was decided for me ("Wrap the Shandril trilogy with a final book in which you kill her off" is a very close paraphrase of what was said to me, way back when) and I agreed to do it because - - as with Azoun IV - - if anyone's going to write books in which major characters of mine die, I want to be doing the writing. I believe the design decision was that Shandril was too powerful to write other 'big event' fiction set in the Realms without accounting for why she didn't take part, or why important evil power groups that had been hell-bent on capturing or destroying her simply dropped their pursuit to go and do whatever else the author of the book at hand needed them to do (the old Marvel Comics problem of "Why don't the Fantastic Four take care of this? Or the Avengers? Or the X-Men?" - - that forced so many writers to 'explain what those supergroups are busy doing,' so your lesser-power character, like Spiderman, has to save the day).

I agree that the ending felt rotten. It was indeed supposed to be a downer, though I wrote too long a book as usual, and it ended up more abrupt than it should have been.

Mystra DID bring Shandril back, "somehow." Just not as the walking target that she'd been since the moment her spellfire manifested - - which was all the life she could ever expect. She wasn't "the suicidal type," she was overwhelmed with grief because she thought Narm had been killed, and his love (powerless, indecisive shmuck that he was - - deliberate on my part, because I didn't want a "hero with beautiful female sidekick") was all she had to cling to, in life. It wasn't easy to write, and I didn't want to write it, but even less did I want to read someone else's version of "killing off Shandril."

Nor is her tale COMPLETELY done...

Oooh. Now THAT'S a hint to clutch and keep safe, and pull out to fondle and warm you on cold nights! THO here, signing off for now!


March 17, 2005: Hello, all. Ed makes reply to Haman:

MageFairs - - what fun! Your chief sources of published Realmslore on these events are indeed the sources you're already familiar with: MAGIC OF FAERUN and my short story "Elminster At the MageFair," originally published in REALMS OF VALOR and recently reprinted in BEST OF THE REALMS Volume 1. Yes, they make wonderful roleplaying settings.

Let's delve into your questions:

First, there are "mage fairs" and there is THE annual MageFair. I'm not going to discuss the small local ones, because they vary tremendously, are indeed essentially like our real-world flea markets and gaming conventions (as your questions lead me to believe you already see them as), and you can tailor their sizes, rules, and essential nature to whatever you want them to be for your campaign needs. What's in the MAGIC OF FAERUN covers them forwards, backwards, and sideways for those who need 3e rules.

Many realms and cities ban the small local magical fairs, but I'm not aware of anyone banning MageFairs. Such bans would be meaningless fiction anyway, because the wizards who hold them pay no attention to the decrees of kings. MageFairs (the big annual sort) are never held in cities or populated areas anyway, but only in remote wilderlands (often inhospitable rock badlands, deserts, or the like), as they can be dangerous to non-magical folk - - and said folk knowing the precise time and location of a great arcane gathering might well be dangerous to the wizards and sorcerers taking part.

In general, those who ban the small local fairs do so because their rule is insecure and they fear wizards entering "their" territory, or wreaking destruction there - - or they fear someone selling magic or hiring their spellcasting services out to a foe or rival, who will then challenge their rule. In rarer cases (Rashemen and Thay are examples, and in elder days, Athalantar would have been, too), mage fairs aren't wanted because the rulers or inhabitants of a land want themselves to be the only users of magic in it; no groups or gatherings of magically-powerful outlanders are welcome.

THE MageFair moves from place to place, the locale for any given year clearly shown (with location; usually the dream is of "soaring over anything" from one's sleep location to the spot) to the everchanging Council who run them by mind-visions sent by Azuth (who also 'chooses' every year's Council, revealing the Council members to each other in dreams). No one except the Chosen, Azuth and Mystra and their servants, and the Council know the location of an annual MageFair until three mornings beforehand. All other arcane spellcasters are reminded in dreams of the impending event, and passwords (not always the same one for everyone) are 'mind-whispered' to them. To get in, one must travel to outside the wards of a MageFair (attempts to translocate past them will result in severe mind-pain, and failure of the magic), give the password to a sentinel-mage, and demonstrate magical ability to that sentinel by casting (any) spell (of the attendee's choice).

Anyone who just tries to burst through the wards should be warned that unless a sentinel lets them through - - something that happens invisibly, silently, and without apparent spellcasting - - or they happen to be a Chosen or other powerful servant of Azuth or Mystra 'attuned to the Weave' [such individuals can 'step around' the wards, and bring companions who lack such powers along with them, unharmed] the wards will act as a Prismatic Wall spell, plus several additional 'inner curtain' effects if the prismatic effects are breached. Spells sent against the wards usually encounter spell reflection. (The wards have all these fearsome effects in one direction only: from outside to inside. They don't even seem to exist, to creatures and spells moving from inside to outside.)

The Council, usually about a dozen strong and usually including at least two experienced members (who've been on previous Councils), are responsible for checking and securing the site, casting the wards (which Azuth channels through them, achieving magical defenses far stronger than they could cast unaided, and somewhat mysterious to everyone - - yes, including Council members - - in structure if not in workings; everyone knows what they do, but it's almost impossible to breach or dispel them, because Azuth changes their nature every year), and arranging the schedule, any trials or demonstrations, who will be allowed as a vendor and precisely what they'll be allowed to sell, and so on. Azuth always rewards Council members (usually with new spells placed in their spellbooks) afterwards, so very few of them worry about any costs in time or coin of these preparations.

MageFairs have conduct rules and traditions (events, such as spell-hurling duels, that are always held), but their chief value is in socialization: mastering arcane spells, like writing, is an essentially lonely occupation, and MageFairs provide a way for wizards and sorcerers to get to know each other. Many of them, despite legendary feuds and the arrogance and eccentricity exhibited by so many wizards and sorcerers, soon come to look upon MageFairs as high points of their year, where they get to see old friends (in some cases, make trades, do business, get drunk, or even make love with old friends). Hmmm, rather like GenCon, though there were no GenCons (or D&D, for that matter) when I created MageFairs. :}

Yes, most of the 'big names' make at least a brief appearance, even if heavily disguised or by 'riding the eyes' (by spell, from afar) of agents who attend for them. They simply don't want to be 'out of the loop' as much as they will be if they miss MageFair after MageFair. Yes, there are lectures and demonstrations. No, there are no autograph booths, though a certain sort of wizard (usually the short, pompous types who never go adventuring, but who make a good living selling blank spellbooks, spell inks, and potions to others) exchanges what can only be described as business cards. Most of the time they're gab-and-chatter-fests. Friends of the Council members work frantically making meals and dispensing drinkables for three days and nights, and then collapse from exhaustion, to be magically whisked back to their homes, and made much richer for their efforts.

Azuth and Mystra consider MageFairs vital in keeping magic-use healthy, strong, and ever-growing, and even the wizards who hate crowds and especially detest other wizards admit that MageFairs are the best way to hear the news, spread warnings (especially of lands that have passed laws affecting spell use, but also of wild magic, unleashed monsters, and other perils). They also gather many arcane spellcasters together for Azuth and Mystra (and their servants) to observe and judge and impart things swiftly to. Would-be troublemakers are warned that servants of those two deities, as well as the visible sentinel-mages, watch events closely. One MIGHT get away with deftly and swiftly murdering a fellow wizard, but attempts to release a spreading spell, poisonous gas or dust, germs, or other means of affecting many arcane spellcasters will be noticed and foiled - - and the perpetrators shapechanged into something helpless for a decade or so.

As for tales of colourful events at MageFairs: I have hundreds, but let me leave you with just one (now prevented by the altered wards, which govern the area within them as well as being an outer sphere of defense): a clever 'virus illusion' passed from person to person by touch or eye contact, that swapped illusory faces of everyone 'in the virus,' randomly and every third breath drawn by the caster. This led to many moments of shock and horror as wizards discovered themselves apparently in bed with someone other than their expected partner, and so on. It went on and on, most disconcertingly, and the caster then started to 'mix in' monster likenesses, which led to several spell-attacks - - and an angry Azuth personally appearing to set things right.

Oh, all right, TWO stories: an attempt to steal a wand with a snatch-from-afar spell that was twisted by a defensive spell akin to a mantle into an unintended-by-anyone effect that snatched random garments off wizards, OR teleported them straight up, from twenty to eighty feet aloft, to hover motionless and then teleport right back to their starting-points. This, too, went on and on, with progressively barer mages popping up into the sky here, there, and everywhere - - until Mystra ended it by altering the wards to deny all translocation spells but create a 'fly field,' wherein everyone could fly, and hurling several magic items into their midst, causing a wild rumble-and-chase game to occur.

Most of the other tales I could tell involve long explanations of why certain events triggered feuds, so... you'll just have to wait for books and short stories as yet unwritten, I guess.

I hope this has been of help.

So saith Ed.

I remember Torm asking Elminster if he could go to a MageFair dressed in a toad suit, just to save time.

love to all,


March 18, 2005: Hello, all. Ed replies to Jerryd's latest 2-part War Wizards post:

Well, Jerryd, I believe I've reached the "agree to disagree" stage with you.

There's simply no point in going on debating if you're going to refute every point I make by defining terms differently than I do and then triumphantly concluding that I'm wrong about this or that "by definition." It adds nothing to shared enjoyment of the Realms, and such an approach falls far short of convincing me. However, I'll reply to certain of your points, because some of your assertions shouldn't be left unchallenged in the records all scribes can peruse.

You post: "Suppose for a moment the Harpers never existed, and Vangey and his War Wizards remain as-is and faced all the same challenges. Could Vangey and the War Wizards have handled all those challenges over the years entirely on their own and made Cormyr the same kind of place it is depicted as? Or would they have failed and fallen to defeat? In my opinion, this must be judged before one can call Vangey and the War Wizards "successful"."

Sorry, Jerryd, but I disagree. There is NO group, policy, or individual in either the Realms or the real world that could ever be judged "successful" through this approach, because anyone can always ask unanswerable hypothetical "but what if" (Blucher had arrived later on the battlefield, or Mary the First hadn't died when she did, or Hitler had successfully invaded and conquered England or hadn't opened the two-front war, or the United States had failed in its War of Independence, or the Plantagenets hadn't given way to the Tudors, or Lincoln hadn't been assassinated) questions - - questions none of us can ever really know the answer to. Just as you can't learn the answer to the one you've posed, because history (imaginary, for the Realms, or "real," for our real world) didn't turn out that way. So we're really talking, when you say "judged" successful, in applying your opinions of success to the War Wizards (or various scribes applying their opinions, and debating it). I could just as easily say: "We must consider if Vangerdahast and a bunch of other guys in robes could together have handled all those challenges over the years if there was no magic in the Realms. Then and only then can we decide if we'll call them successful." By the gods, Jerry, you've created the ultimate straw man! By all means let's discuss this, but leave your "successful" (or not) judgement out of it. To start the discussion, I'll say this: as the ultimate expert on Cormyr, Vangerdahast, and the War Wizards, it's MY firm opinion that they would have handled those challenges. Far more messily, with many unintended and "we-got-there-too-late" casualties, and garnering a far more unsavoury reputation for themselves in the process, but yes, they would have. There: they're successful. In my judgement, of course. Dispute it by all means, but let's be very clear about what you're doing: pitting your opinion, not any absolute or correct judgement, against my opinion.

And I'm not going to back down in my belief that my opinions in these matters are right. By all means "organize" things however you'd like in your own campaign or homebrew world, but please don't expect me to accept them in the published Realms.

You post: "As far as I'm concerned, if a manager requires the intervention of outside agencies to get the job done and keep things going smoothly, then he ISN'T succeeding."

Again, there's success and success. Recall the football quotation about winning? "It's the ONLY thing." Well, Vangey 'won,' holding Cormyr together and shaping it to his aims and preferences, ergo he was successful. "Success" is a 'value judgement' that can differ markedly depending on who's applying it. Vangey achieved what he set out to do.

To posit a real-world example: American historians, if they mention the so-called War of 1812 at all, always deem it a "victory" for the American side. If they think about why they hold that opinion at all, they point to concessions wrung out of Britain that officially "won" them long-disputed territory (much of Wisconsin and Michigan's northern peninsula). Militarily, it was a laughable comedy of errors on both sides, but Canadians firmly consider it a "victory" for THEIR side. Why? Because the war began with the expressed intent on the part of the invading Americans to conquer the "northern British colonies on the continent" (Canada) and make them American territory. When it all ended, they hadn't done that, and the Canadians who'd fought them still had their own farms and so on that weren't part of America. By their standards, "success."

Vangerdahast set out to make Cormyr a stronger realm, make the War Wizards his personal force or tool in accomplishing that, and shaping Cormyr to be the way he wanted it to be. All of these things he accomplished, retiring on his terms when he wanted to. You can argue as to that being success or not, but (being as you cite MCI and business examples) in business, it's often said "Results matter." Vangey got results.

Which brings us back to exactly what I've been trying to explore with Vangey (NOT answer definitively, note, but leave to all readers to make their own judgements on): "Do the ends justify the means?"

You go on to post: "A "poor leader" is NOT a success! If Vangey is a poor leader, then he's a failure BY DEFINITION!"

Oh? We were discussing being a MANAGER here, not a leader. Azoun IV is the "leader."

You go on to post: "If the War Wizards institution is as a whole successful (bearing in mind the Harper discussion and my definition of success above) then it can only be DESPITE Vangey, not because of him"

Oh? Before Vangey came along, the War Wizards had become a group of leaderless individuals doing just as they (individually or in little cabals of buddies) decided, not truly controlled by, or loyal to, the realm, the Crown, or any Court official. I'd say the War Wizards who prevented a massacre in Arabel during the war against the Devil Dragon and defeated dozens of attempts on Azoun's life, solved more than one murder mystery (see my story "The Grinning Ghost of Taverton Hall" in REALMS OF MYSTERY), and so on, existed as an organization BECAUSE of Vangey, rather than despite him....

THO here, splitting Ed's reply into two posts because of the post-length limit. I decided to break at the same place Jerryd did. More immediately...

The Hooded One

And here is Ed's reply to Jerryd, Part Two:

You then posted a (very limited) dictionary definition of "organization" and use it to justify your judgement of "organization." Well, two can play that game, so I'll respond with just one passage from a Pocket Oxford (not even the Unabridged, which offers a FAR broader scope for the word "organization"): "bring into working order." That's exactly what Vangerdahast did: inherit a bunch of War Wizards who were "doing their own thing" and establish a "working order" on them: his own. "Report to me, I'll give you commands, and I'll organize, and continually re-organize, you into task groups." Being as that's what most intelligence services do in the modern world, to dismiss that TYPE of organization as not falling within the definition of organization means you're dismissing all of them as being "disorganized." You'll probably counter this by saying that no, all of those real-world organizations have a strict hierarchy, but SO DO THE WAR WIZARDS UNDER VANGEY! He's boss, and under him is Laspeera, who's designated to speak with his authority. Also under him, reporting directly, are the side-branch of 'internal police' investigators (the alarphons), the Council (who deal with the formal side of things, and interface with the courtiers and Heralds), and all of the other War Wizards. This IS organization. It's just a very 'flat' organizational structure, without a lot of levels of "middle management."

Of course, as long as you refuse to accept that, we're indeed stuck at agreeing to disagree - - because I in turn refuse to accept your narrower definition of "organization."

You post: "Organization and moment-to-moment fluidity are mutually exclusive." Only by your self-admittedly clear-cut, black-and-white preferences. Garen Thal correctly compared the War Wizards to fraternal organizations (clubs, the Rotary, the Kinsmen, the Legion, etc.), and many of them, in our modern real world, while clinging to their own internal rules, pomp and ceremony, do in fact work in ever-changing sub-groups ("task forces" and "committees" and "projects") to deal with specific local problems and concerns (raising money for wheelchairs, putting in crosswalks, settling disputes over use of a community hall, providing meals for seniors; the aims may be similar from place to place and even country to country, but the local specifics of how they are carried out vary markedly). And this very ever-changing sub-group work is just what the War Wizards do (remember, we're only talking of 800 individuals here, NOT a huge, unwieldy group).

You post: "in my opinion it's unquestionable that the War Wizards would be more effective with a hierarchical structure than without one even if Vangey didn't have the sense to realize it."

I fully agree with you. They would be. However, we're not talking "most effective" or even 'most efficient,' here. The most effective way for, say, the United States to further "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" would be to freely and equally provide FULL medical examinations and treatment to every last citizen [oh, and never go to war or allow guns in society] (life), and have no laws or police or military whatsoever (liberty). (I'll leave the happiness element out of debate because it's so personal and therefore varied.) Yet strangely enough, that's not what we find when we look at the United States. Also, the most efficient distribution of agrarian resources (by which I mean edible food, NOT money) is the communal one (communes, or what tends to get labelled "socialism" or "communism"). Yet a purely communal society doesn't exist in the world; attempts to run communes are always small in population, chaotic, and tend to be unstable or short-lived (the "human factor" twisting theoretical or even on-paper efficiency). I could go on to cite other examples for pages and pages, just off the top of my head. Clearly, then, things in the real world aren't always established as (or don't always turn out to be, as they develop and evolve) whatever's most effective or most efficient. As I said to you in a previous post, I think the War Wizards under Caladnei will BECOME hierarchically organized, because she's not the paranoid micromanager that Vangey was (and because Filfaeril and Alusair certainly don't want another Vangey arising to run the War Wizards if anything happens to Filfaeril).

You post: "These reasons are why I persist in saying that left to their own devices the Vangey and the War Wizards as you've portrayed them would collapse into an ineffective mess in relatively short order."

Only because of the way you choose to view Vangerdahast, the War Wizards, and Cormyr. I obviously believe differently, and just as obviously have published all sorts of details about these three elements of the Realms, down the years, that make it clear that the War Wizards HAVEN'T collapsed (for whatever reasons). That's "established Realms history," coming from the same source that you first learned about the War Wizards from.

This strikes me as not being very different from looking at your own hands, and saying, "Yup, these are my hands. Four fingers and - - well, I don't believe in thumbs, so that fifth digit I can clearly see there isn't a thumb. In fact, it doesn't exist at all. I'll just ignore it." Now, that's fine if you want to live under those conditions, but you've taken a step farther that I don't find acceptable: telling all the rest of us, "I don't have thumbs, and none of you do either! Those aren't thumbs! You're all wrong about this!"

You post: "I would far prefer to view the War Wizards as being truly successful"

Good, because they ARE truly successful. They have weeded out traitors and infiltrators among the populace, manipulated politics and public opinion, and undertaken many other activities with GREAT effectiveness to help create a Cormyr that is largely loyal and cohesive (Realms coverage tends to look for PC roleplaying opportunities, and hence focus on treasonous nobles, rebels in Arabel and Marsember, and agents of Sembia, Westgate, et cetera, but if the crofters and 'just plain folk' of Cormyr WEREN'T loyal to the Crown, those malcontent elements would have succeeded in tearing asunder the realm long ago).

You post: "Given the many and varied tasks charged to the War Wizards, if they are to be successful (by my definition) they MUST be organized (by my definition) and indeed even somewhat hierarchical."

Can't argue with this circular logic. If you insist on defining the terms, then (ahem, by definition) the only way those terms can be satisfied is... yes, on your terms. However, I DON'T accept your terms, or even your "right" to sit in judgement on my creations and the reasoning behind them. Judge for yourself and hold your own opinions, certainly. Try to deem me "wrong" and my views about the War Wizards and Vangerdahast mistaken, not at all.

You post: "I could accept your characterization of Vangey IF I completely change overall view I had of him before this discussion. I had thought of him as primarily a hero - a man of Good - who had in action some rough edges to him in action. Your depiction of him is definitely not heroic, though - it is of a villain who had deluded himself into thinking he was good simply because he pursued good goals, but who eventually realized he wasn't good and with that bitter self-discovery stepped down in self-disillusionment."

If you can truly hold that view after reading the words of mine ("I see Vangey as beginning his career as eager and zealous, being hardened into a grimly practical veteran of Court intrigues and nobles' traps who slowly becomes obsessed with his vision of Cormyr at all costs, convinces himself that the end justifies all means, and then in the twilight of his years begins to mellow and admit three things: that there are now some things he WON'T do in the name of The Dream; that he's been wrong about a lot of things and in his deeds made many errors, not a few little 'so what' ones; and that he's overstepped the bounds of what's best for the realm while deluding himself that he wasn't, and that it's best if he remove himself from authority, in a manner least damaging to the realm (to avoid a power struggle, being as he came to his senses just before the war with the Devil Dragon and the loss of Azoun)") you quoted just above them, Jerry, I see no point in continuing this discussion at all. Life (and roleplaying: that's why the game has levels and character advancement) postulates character DEVELOPMENT and change, not clear-cut "He is evil, was born evil, and always shall be evil" and "Yonder knight is good, can never be anything but good."

Your insistence on now calling Vangerdahast a "deluded villain" tells me we view the Realms on two entirely different levels. I'm trying to explore a good man suffering the effects of "absolute power corrupts absolutely," and in the end realizing it, and you're operating on the assumption that Vangerdahast has an immutable evil, villainous core and merely wore convenient delusional masks to further his career. That view of yours is flawed, by your own words, because the (correct) "MORAL exhaustion and disillusionment" you mention isn't something a villain would ever feel. He might say, "Ah! What a self-deluding noble fool I've been, when I could have been an out-and-out tyrant and avoided a LOT of hard work manipulating people! I've wasted so much TIME!" but he WOULDN'T feel any anguish on moral grounds. Vangerdahast clearly does (as certain scenes in ELMINSTER'S DAUGHTER show clearly, if briefly, and several scenes in DEATH OF THE DRAGON hint at).

You post: "You see, the reason I am a fan of Cormyr is because I idealized the place. Insofar as what fits within a renaissance-style world Cormyr is the "good kingdom". That contextually idealized view of Cormyr of course also applied to the institutions that defended it. If Cormyr is the "good kingdom", then the Purple Dragons and War Wizards were the "good defenders" who were successful (by MY definition) - competent, efficient, and (for the most part and to varying degrees) decent."

Well, Jerry, I created Cormyr to be the shining good kingdom (so much so that a TSR designer, years ago, wrote an internal memo saying it was TOO good "a happy shiny place" and in his opinion had to be destroyed), and I like to think of it as you do, too. But I think it shines much more brightly if it ALSO seems real, not cardboard and simplistic. That means 'human nature' foibles, screwups, tensions, and conflicts (all things very much desired by TSR and now WotC games designers and book editors for their own creative needs, not to mention players and DMs!). To accept Cormyr as "the good place" doesn't necessarily mean one has to accept all of its institutions as perfect and beyond reproach. In fact, that's static "death" to a DM, novel writer, or game designer: the only ways one can go from there are decadence/decay (from within) or destruction (by invaders).

I have said all along that the published lore about Cormyr has been insufficient, and can lead readers into assumptions about Cormyr that are entirely correct on the scanty evidence they have to go on, but incorrect when one looks at the underlying picture. That's one of the reasons I'm still around, decades after gamers first started to see published wisps and hints of the Realms, to fill in details and provide more lore - - one of the reasons I answer queries here.

You post: "Perhaps my idealization of (and cheerleading for) Cormyr is excessive in comparison to your own and has too greatly affected my perspective, but for my own part I simply cannot understand WHY when you created the War Wizards you would deliberately choose to portray them as sub-optimal and seriously less effective on their own then they really needed to be. If I were going to portray a place as the "bright shining place" then I would make the institutions of that place as optimal as I could within the context of the overall style of the world (in this case being roughly Renaissance)."

No, I don't think anybody's a wilder and more persistent cheerleader for Cormyr than I am. I have, after all, furiously defended it during two internal TSR debates about smashing it. I've explained why I chose to portray the War Wizards as "sub-optimal" several times, but I'll underscore it again: realism, Jerry. Realism. In real world situations, tensions and growth (which give the D&D game its maximum play possibilities, something built into the published Realms from the first, and nurtured ever since) arise out of lands, organizations, laws, customs, and practises NOT being optimal, and persons disagreeing on how things should be and striving to change them.

To put it as Foxhelm did recently: that may not be the green house you'd like, but it's the white house I built. The house you say you like so much.

By all means detail the War Wizards however you'd like for your own campaign. Just don't expect me to budge from my views about them when you disagree with the way I've portrayed them.

I'd still like to see how you think Caladnei's War Wizards SHOULD be organized, rather than reading post after post from you about how I've got Vangey's War Wizards 'wrong.'

I'm personally dismayed by how your own stated preference for clear-cut and black-and-white has, as you say, forced you to abandon your view of Vangey as an essentially heroic figure because of what I've revealed about him, and swing over to seeing him as a "deluded villain." There's such a lot of 'character room' between a hero who's rough around the edges and a deluded villain, and the vast majority of Realms characters, like Vangey, are sitting in that character room. It's a BIG chamber, with a LOT of people in it. If you never enter it, you're missing most of the Realms.

And on other matters:

Melfius, I wish I could attend Origins. For one thing, I hear there's a nifty Calliope trophy with my name on it (from last year) that even comes with a dinner! However, I can't afford either the time off work from the library, or the money such a trip would cost me. Coins are very short up here right now (I'm a game designer and a writer, remember, no longer a steady-salaried wage-slave). So I'm afraid not. I WILL make it to GenCon Indy, barring unforeseen disasters, but that'll probably be my only "big trip" this year. No Worldcon, no vacations, just a few local "day-drive" conventions.

thom, most tallhouses (homes, not rooming houses or shops) are several rooms 'deep.' Think: front door, opening into: full-width-of-building lobby/ 'front room,' opening into: passage down one side or other of interior, that in turn opens into a series of rooms or closets or stairs up, and usually ending in a full-width kitchen at the back (on the ground floor). So, yes, the passage flanks a series of (admittedly cramped) rooms.

So saith Ed.

Who will return with more Realmslore on the morrow.

love to all,


On March 18, 2005 THO said: Yes, I must say that when it comes to "kick backs under the table," the male players in the original Realms campaign long ago asked me to stop wearing my point-toed, stiletto-heel boots. I can't IMAGINE why.

Alaundo, I just want to add one postscript from Ed, not specifically re. Jerryd but about a viewpoint he raised during their discussions:

Ed did not mean to imply there's anything at all wrong with WANTING things to be clear-cut and/or black and white. Imposing our own will on the world and ordering things the way we want them to be is a basic human urge, and a lot of D&D players and DMs derive great satisfaction in "achieving things" in the fantasy settings they play in that they just can never hope to do in the real world. Ed wanted Jerryd to know that the 'greyness' is a deliberate design direction that he has to push towards, because his natural tendency is, yes, to tidy and sort and 'shift things' to be the way he wants them to be.

On other matters: great questions, MW Turnage: I've sent them off to Ed, and I'm sure we'll get rich replies (in time: a lot of answers are piling up).

thom, I can answer your latest myself: the tallhouses are usually touching, or have at most a four-foot-max-width dark alleyway between them. So there's no room for outside-wall windows. However, the rooms along the passage have what we would call "fanlight" windows above their 'onto the passage' doors, and many of them have windows opening into small 'light shafts' that descend from the roof (covered by gratings, up top) down to the lower floors or even into the cellars (if the latter, there'll be a 'rain roof' overhood).

Shops usually don't have a passage on the ground floor, but a separate (back, usually) entrance for the upper floors, so the shop has full-building-width rooms, opening one into another as one goes back through the building, until the inevitable 'back room' opens onto the shared stairwell going up to the upper floors. A few also have trapdoors offering emergency (escape-fire) access from above down into the shop.

Upper floors usually have a "half-passage" running from the backstair landing forward along one interior outside wall past two or three rented rooms, to end in a door into a full-tallhouse-width 'front room.'

love to all,


On March 18, 2005 THO said: Good point. That's another of the things that got edited out of the original novel (and Ed's attempted revision, a second time).

In the original spellfire game rules, users of spellfire (NOT Mystra's silver fire, which is "of the Weave") couldn't use ANY translocation spells: it "burned a hole in the Weave" and destroyed them personally in doing so. They dimension doored or teleported and simply "never arrived." Anywhere.

In the original draft of SPELLFIRE, there was a scene in the Twisted Tower wherein Elminster and The Simbul explained this VERY seriously to Shandril (who couldn't yet cast such spells, of course): she must never try to use such magic - - and shouldn't have spellfire "active" when she went through a gate (3e portal), either.

I wish the world could have seen Ed's original version of SPELLFIRE. It made a LOT more sense than either of the published ones.


Well, Winterfox, when reading this answer, bear in mind that I only glanced at the "spellfire wielder" class once, didn't personally think much of it, and it's not used in our (Ed's) Realms campaign, so this may or may not 'mesh' with it.

However, YES: someone with spellfire can't be teleported without destroying them (and yes, this does give them a HUGE Achilles heel if spellcasters find this out, although in a 'real' Realms, going on character information alone as opposed to what players can learn, there'd actually be scant opportunity for most of them to learn it except by on-the-spot accident). So, no translocation spells without BLAM! (Applies to spells cast by spellfire user AND all other beings.)

Gates (3e portals) work differently (or at least they did under 2e; I actually sat in on a GenCon TSR designers' discussion about this, years ago): rather than 'translocating' people, they 'step outside the Prime Plane dimension, with its Weave, and then step back inside at a different locale.' So following this logic, Rope Trick, Portable Hole, and other 'pocket dimension' magics also hold no harm for a user of spellfire.

Interestingly, Ed had a Blink spell cause a spellfire user pain (yes, hit point loss, and spellfire visibly raced up and down her limbs, through no intent of her own), but it didn't kill her.

Experimenting with the limits and specifics of magic is a constant sideline in the orignal Realms campaign: we often 'learn the hard way' just what spells can and can't do, and they don't always match the written rulebooks (or more often, 'go beyond' the too-short written rules).



On March 19, 2005 THO said: Winterfox, you're welcome. The "game rules intruding into fiction, and fictional devices doing things 'impossible or improbable' in game terms," are problems that have beset D&D fiction from the first (Andre Norton's QUAG KEEP, in which she included a 3-sided die that Ed promptly, for a joke, 'invented for real'). George, I THINK this was edited out of Spellfire (when more than a third of it was chopped, just before Mr. Lowder was hired) because it happened to arrive in the hands of TSR's Book Department as a new regime was establishing itself there, and for whatever reasons starting to follow a self-chosen policy of "the books won't and shouldn't follow the game."

This policy has waxed and waned over the years, because it gives game designers who have to 'clean up after' a novel writer who, as Jeff Grubb used to put it, "blows up the moon because he can," utter fits - - and TSR was, after all, a GAME company at the outset. Of course, the novels have always outsold the games, because roleplaying game players are a smaller group than fiction readers, so Books Department, in their turf battles within the company, had some strength. At the beginnings of the published Realms, TSR was deep in the throes of battling Angry Mothers From Heck (the bad 'Satanist' publicity the game was being smeared with), and didn't want things in the game - - like detailed spell ritual descriptions, even though they didn't work 'for real' - - that real-life kids might get hurt attempting ("My son cast the Fly spell in the books and jumped off the roof and now he's DEAD!"), which would lead to lawsuits and MORE bad publicity, and so on.

Gates were de-emphasized in the novel for that reason, and so that TSR wouldn't be harried by gamers whose characters had stepped through a gate, and suddenly wanted a published product on "this blank corner of the Realms over here."

Ed has said he'll never be able to reconstruct the original version of SPELLFIRE, so we'll never get to see it - - but scribes should always remember that it was more than a third longer than what was first published, and that Ed was trying for a "broad palette" tale with several threads of characters (see Julian May's THE ADVERSARY, last volume of her Pliocene Exile quartet, for exactly what Ed was thinking of doing - - and now, with the books of George Martin and Robert Jordan and Terry Goodkind, not to mention Tolkien, we can clearly see that such storytelling is commercially viable). TSR wanted a SMALL cast of characters, with a focus on a single hero, who fights any number of grunts but only ONE prime mover villain. (I know this to be truth, because Mary Kirchoff said it directly to me, at a GenCon, when I buttonholed her about it after a late-night party.) That Ed managed to get published what he did is a tribute of sorts to his dogged persistence.

Ed and we Knights have long ago agreed that the best way to think of SPELLFIRE is "it was a valuable learning experience." And why not? It got a LOT of people hooked on the Realms, and has thus far sold something in the neighbourhood of a million copies worldwide, in over two dozen languages, so... I guess he did SOMEthing right.

love to all,


On March 19, 2005 THO said: Hello, all. My turn to answer a few scribes' queries (which in this case, largely means giving you Ed's lore and replies in my own words).

First, to George Krashos: Torm is a brilliant and sarcastic man in real life (Victor Selby, a lawyer like yourself), but when he's playing Torm (like many of us), he does and says the things he'd never - - quite - - dare do in real life. In other words, he 'thinks cheeky' all the time, but he doesn't SAY what he's thinking or what he might do if there were no consequences, unless he's playing Torm.

kuje31, only moneylenders, tax collectors, and certain sages and scribes in the Realms use "the fifth day of [month] in the Year of..." dating. Of course, WotC game designers, fiction writers, and a lot of us gamers have passing need for such precision, too (recall Ms. Fonstad's "distances detective work" in the print FR Atlas?), so you'll see it a lot in recently published products.

In the Realms, MOST folk (outside of courts and the ranks of guilds and merchants) never need more than "early in Eleint, in the year the wolves came," although when dealing with courtiers, military recruiters, and tax officials, a specific year-date is always necessary. And most folk remember and record family births, deaths, and weddings like this: "the sixth day after Greengrass, in 1372" or "the seventh day into Uktar, of 1351" (with the "DR" being assumed, and all other year-numbering systems being designated, if used).

Certainly, for our real-world purposes, gamers prefer a precise day of a month of a year, but no, many Realms dates ARE as imprecise as given above. Dwarves in the Realms, mind you, seem to prefer full day-month-year (as do almost all courtiers, merchants, guilds, and anyone else entering into contracts or recorded loans).

thom, you're quite welcome. Ed tells me he was very careful NOT to overwrite reams and reams of stuff WotC would have to cut (although some of the columns have 'crept,' especially in his last nine, wherein he 'cheated' with increasingly-longer footnotes), but he'll be happy to expand on matters, here, when the Sembian 8-column run finishes, by answering specific questions scribes put to him in this thread. As you can tell, Ed's "using" Melvos to detail what current Sembian life is like.

As for renting out tallhouses: nice Sembians build a loyal group of servants by treating them well and financially rewarding them with things they can never afford on their own, and nasty ones 'bind' servants to their service by blackmail, buying up debts in order to get the slave-like service of the debtors, and by other coercive means (including keeping slaves, keeping drug addicts for which the master is the only source of drugs, literal hobbling [short chains attached to wrist-cuffs, or ankle-cuffs] plus flogging, and so on). The intent is to end up with folk you can trust to obey you, because anyone merely hired (who has no personal loyalty) tends to be corruptible in Sembia: they can be 'bought away' from perforning properly for you by someone slipping them a few more coins than you give them as salary or under contract.

The vast majority of Sembians have too little time and money to play this game, and so hire 'factors' (trade agents) or 'stansards' (who are a little bit bodyguard, a little bit property guard, a little bit bailiff, a little bit rent collector, and a little bit errand-runner). Standards are usually physically strong outlanders, often not human or pureblood human, who make good coin by offering trustworthy performance. (Priests of some faiths also offer this service.) Under Sembian law, they're required to furnish full name and contact information of their 'last twelve' current and preceding Sembian patrons to anyone they 'enter into bond' with (any new client), and give the client a tenday to contact such references and decide whether or not to 'seal the bond.' Typically, a client pays the stansard 1 cp for this list (obviously, stansards must be able to read and write, and must also pay an annual tax). Only the wealthy can afford to keep factors or stansards on staff, because an independent can command 12 gp/day for exclusive service.

Collecting rents, inspecting rental properties, evicting tenants, squatters, and undesirables, and keeping household goods secure in the absence of a client are typical stansard duties. Recent rumor: beware dopplegangers slaying stansards and taking their places, because they WON'T remain trustworthy!

SiriusBlack, hugs right back. And yes, I really have promised not to wear boots (usually not a problem; we're either in sock feet in Ed's living room or barefoot or even bare-everything up at Ed's cottage) during play sessions. Also, no more sharp jewelry. THAT came after I developed the habit of rolling around provocatively in certain laps to influence players' behaviour, and unintentionally wounded some soft spots. (In turn, the guys who still favour jeans and monster belt buckles [cowskulls, crossed axes, and so on], promised to either unbuckle or wear webbing belts for the evening. Getting a miniature metal 'longhorn' up one's natural orifices is... startling.)

Which is probably more of an additional visual than many wanted, or were expecting.

love to all,


March 20, 2005: Hello, all.

Faraer, EDITORS put hours, minutes, and seconds into Ed's prose. Ed's written several 'style guide' notes for the Realms, down the years, forbidding them. He uses 'breaths' for seconds, and in cities temple bells ring so many times between dawn and highsun, and highsun and dusk, and so these "bells" can be used in place of hours. I'll see if I can get him to send me one of his missives on this matter, for posting here.

Now, for tonight's entertainment, Ed makes reply to Phoebus about mercenaries:

Hi, Phoebus. Binding contracts for mercenaries ARE (sparingly) used in Chessenta, because if you've got coin enough to 'tie up' a good hiresword with a binding contract (registered with the Heralds, remember), you "take him off the table" so your many rivals can't use him against you (he can fight if attacked, but he can't join your rivals' forces and ride against you - - because if he does, the Heralds tell everyone and he can't get a proper contract ever again, at least in Chessenta [or anywhere, under the name he was using when he 'broke bond'], forcing him to 'go outlaw' and become a brigand rather than a paid mercenary). As no one's sitting on an endless pile of gold, it's the standout sellswords with the big reputations who usually get contracts where they get paid to sit and do nothing - - and no mercenary likes to sign really long-term contracts, so no one offers them (because said sellswords demand too much for anyone to sign). Three years is about the max, and most are "a season" or less (sword-for-hire contracts ALWAYS specify precise starting and ending dates, for obvious reasons).

In the case of a "large, standing company of mercenaries serving a city," certainly their captain (the usual catchall term, yes) would hire short-term "blades." The practise lets him rotate his men out for rest and relaxation (and perhaps healing or bed-rest against sicknesses), quelling any restlessness born of boredom regardless of the circumstances. It also lets him 'bulk up' with, ahem, fodder if hostilities are considered imminent.

By the way, there are a LOT of sicknesses among house bodyguards in the region, because poisoning their food and drink is a favourite occupation of agents hired by rivals: to disable, NOT kill. Dead staff-swords and mercenaries have to be replaced, but vomiting, hallucinating, falling-asleep and saggingly-weak ones just get bundled out of the way - - and their unaffected colleagues have to do longer shifts, in lesser numbers. The poisoning is something of a sport, for one lord to show another "Hey, just remember, I can breach your defenses whenever I want to," and also to weaken the strength of a guard or garrison so a theft or spying attempt stands a greater chance of being successful. Rules are in place to prevent mercenaries from partaking of food and drink produced outside their client's control, of course - - but being as such food is usually bland, boring, and overpriced, slip-ups occur.

In the case of the city's seneschal, warden, marshal, or whatever their commander of defenses is called, yes, he also might well short-term hire sellswords for several reasons: because he doesn't trust the long-term mercenaries, or wants someone to spy on them, or desires to 'warn them against overboldness' by the very presence of the short-term hires... or because he wants to send the short-term hires on missions that he doesn't want to risk the long-term blades on, for whatever reason (explore yonder ruin or dungeon now that it's started spewing monsters, for instance; the long-term professional mercenaries might not want to throw their lives away on "foolhead-work" when their patron can get some idiot adventurers or "short-coin short-talent" rival hireswords to go and do it). There's very seldom such a thing for mercenaries as an "exclusive" contract binding their employers as well as them; in other words, the person who hires them always reserves the right to hire others as well, without consultation to the mercenary band. Otherwise, every mercenary band could dictate the future of a city or town that hired them - - so no one would ever hire them, and they'd all have to "go rogue" and subsist as raiders and plunderers.

As far as "culturally specific" goes: you've chosen the corner of the Realms that has many small, vicious, always-active bands of mercenaries under hire at all times (to serve the small-minded, vicious, petty rulers of adjacent independent cities and wannabe-independent towns). Break a blade! :}

So saith Ed.

Must run, now: am late for my chance to read a new short story by another of Ed's players (no, won't tell; sorry).

love to all,


On March 20, 2005 THO said: Ed tells me Volo was freed almost two years ago, Realms-time, but there's "free" and there's "free," if you know what I mean. Readers of Ed's 2003 Spin A Yarn story know what he was briefly up to (and what most of the Seven Sisters think of him), and Ed tells me he also appears in the 'thus-far-unseen, but handed in months ago' 2004 Spin A Yarn story. I know some scribes will leap to tell me these stories aren't canon, but to them I reply: this is VOLO we're talking about, people! Volo!

P.S. There are several unpublished New Adventures of Volo DRAGON columns floating around in the WotC vaults, and some HORRIBLE poetry penned by Volo, too. To say nothing of a fragmentary 'heaving bosoms' broadsheet serial he started, ere one of his imprisonments...

love to all,

P.S. Dargoth: I do believer Zeboaster's fate is Ed's next upcoming answer in his Questions thread.


March 21, 2005: Hello, all. Ed makes reply to Dargoth, in the matter of the fate of Zeboaster of Ordulin:

Zeboaster narrowly escaped being murdered, twice, and went into hiding, throughly terrified. He then called on a trusted friend to contact a certain wizard to cast defensive magics on him. This friend did so, and the wizard cast two spells (all Zeboaster could gather money to pay for, without going out in public). These magics were the first of a planned series of defensive castings outlined by the greedy wizard and agreed to by the desperate Zeboaster.

Storm Silverhand heard about the attempts on Zeboaster's life - - and about certain Thayan agents offering large coin for information as to his whereabouts, and mentioned this to The Simbul. She finds Zeboaster's runaway tongue refreshingly amusing, and considers it socially useful in rush-to-get-money-at-all-costs Sembia, and (in the guise of a raven) paid Zeboaster a visit, strengthening and modifying the spells cast on him as he slept.

As a result, when the price became right the next morning, and his "trusted friend" betrayed him to the nearest Thayan, and Zeboaster got blasted with flesh-melting spells, he didn't perish on the spot, but fled as: his severed left hand (all that was left of him), with his mouth grafted onto his palm, his eyes between two fingers, and his brain spell-linked to the back of the hand, trailing behind like a cluster on a rat-like tail. He could still see, speak, and think, though he nearly went howling mad. The spells showed him The Simbul, and he flew to find her, pleading for full physical restoration.

I suspect she's given it to him, or will give it to him in time, but then again... she might PREFER Zeboaster as a smart-mouthed flying hand. He'd certainly be a servant (especially for holding lights, mirrors, and garments in precise positions), backscratcher, and bed-companion (I meant for holding her books and turning the pages, though I'm sure my Lady Hooded is already picturing OTHER activities) she could trust more than some...

So saith Ed.

And yes, dear, I was indeed daydreaming of such things; a girl can always use a helping hand, I say. Ahem. I guess Ed's decided it's his turn to tease ME. Whatever next!

love to all,


March 22, 2005: Hello, all. As promised (to Mumadar Ibn Huzal, Faraer, and all), a quotation from Ed on measuring time in the Realms:

Time in the Realms is NEVER measured in "hours" or "minutes." Short-term waits can be measured in "breaths" but in cities, temples, and monasteries, the equivalent of hours are so many "bells" (yes, a bell is rung) or "candles" (which do visibly burn down) from or to a measurable event, such as dawn/daybreak, dusk/nightfall, or noon (in the Realms, noon is "highsun"). Example: The tumult began three bells before nightfall.

"Midnight" is permissible usage, and "deepnight" is its 'more Realmsian' synonym.

When timing is important, Realms writers should work a reference to how many bells are struck in a day ("It was the task of Brother Blackhands to strike half of the twelve bells between dusk and dawn, with Sister Elphrana tolling the bells between-and another pair of the Devout handled the twelve bells of the bright hours.") into the narrative to make it clear that a "bell" IS "an hour."

In Tashluta and the Tashalar, Tharsult, and in some ports nearby, a "bell" (an hour) is called a "darmeth," with the plural (hours) being "darmar." As in: "It'll be at least three darmar before he gets back." or: "But that could take DARMAR, hrast it!" This usage seems to be spreading south.

In like manner, days in the realms are never referred to as "Monday," "Tuesday," or any real-world 'weekday' name. Most folk in the Realms refer to a particular day as thus far from "the first of Mirtul" or "the last of Eleint" or one of the annual festival days, or if they must be precise, will say something like "the first day of the first tenday of Ches." If they were writing this date or speaking of it formally, it would become "1st Ches."

Where we would say "a moment or two," most humans in the Realms say "a breath or two"-and what we would call a minute is "a goodly breath or three."

Dwarves tend to call the same span of time (actually, anything up to about three minutes) "but a little while," whereas a halfling would call the same span of time "a long song." To a halfling, a minute is "a tune," and 10 minutes is "three long songs." Most halflings tend to speak of longer time periods, within a day, in terms of how much the sun has progressed.

So saith Ed.

In guidelines obviously happily ignored by all too many writers and editors working in the Realms. (Sigh.)

love to all,


On March 23, 2005 THO said: Hello, all. My turn to reply this time, to Gareth Yaztromo.

Yes, Gareth, in the "old days of roleplaying in Ed's realm" (back when, ahem, the world was black and white, we were all faster and slimmer, and the idea of having personal, at-home computers was bright and new), the Realms WAS our "base diet" of D&D gaming, yes, though we played lots of other things (Kingmaker, Diplomacy, Empires of the Middle Ages, Mille Borne, and later Awful Green Things From Outer Space, and Arkham Horror, not to mention literally dozens of others). Please note that Jeff Grubb added the name "Toril" (actually "Abeir-Toril") later, too; it was just "Faerūn" or "the Realms" then. Victor Selby (most famous for playing Torm) tried his hand at detailing several worlds, and Andrew Dewar (most famous for playing Rathan, although both he and Victor appeared in the pages of DRAGON with articles, Victor doing a monster with Ed and Andrew doing the Oracle NPC class) ran several short-lived but vivid campaigns, in particular one in a sinister-intrigue caravan city, and another in a setting of many small islands ruled by lairds.

They were good, memorable mini-campaigns, but only Ed had the knack of getting enough subplots going that the whole thing seemed real, and took on a life of its own.

Ahh, to be young again. So many beds, so much more time to misuse more wisely...



March 24, 2005: Hello, all. Ed of the Greenwood replies to Sanishiver (Garen Thal and Jerryd, this will be of especial interest to you, too, I know):

Sanishiver, the Crown is determined to prevent the influx of Sembian coin, influence, and falsely innocent landgrab-settlers of the "What do you mean we can't just settle here? You mean when we came through the mountains we weren't in Sembia anymore?" sort into eastern Cormyr, and has rushed the majority of the surviving Purple Dragons there to encamp, patrol, and train as a show of everpresent force (rotating through garrisons in Suzail, Arabel, and Marsember; to accomplish this, High Horn has temporarily been darn near emptied for a season or two, though War Wizards still dwell and train there). Alusair is actively recruiting (see the last story in my upcoming "Best of Eddie" short story collection), and much wealth from the Crystal Grot has been spent in Amn and Tethyr to bring bulk foodstuffs into the realm so folk don't starve because so few were left alive and able-bodied to try to get the crops off, and new ones sewn the next spring.

Most small places were plundered by the goblins and orcs (emptied of handy portable tools and weapons, and stripped of everything edible), but there was only a little burning and vandalism; they were being hounded to keep on the move by their own leaders (the Devil Dragon swooped and slew divers goblinkin, several times, to drive home the belief that obedience to her commands was a WISE idea), and didn't have time for their usual fun.

Folk in overcrowded Suzail and Marsember are being offered free land if they want to resettle in eastern Cormyr (to farm, set up businesses, or just retire to cottages of their own building). Some of those from Marsember will be closely watched, of course.

Some senior merchants of Cormyr (read: undercover Highknights) have visited certain Dalesfolk in Mistledale, Shadowdale, and Deepingdale, offering them very good terms if they want to invest in eastern-Cormyr ranches and farms (with an eye not just to strengthening trade, but to luring some of these hardy farmers into moving to Cormyr).

And lastly: the Steel Regent and Dowager Queen Filfaeril have announced that any woman of Cormyr who gives birth to a child shall be paid 10 gp per year (so long as the child remains alive) by the Crown, from the birth-year until the child has seen ten-and-four summers. Purple Dragons have been told that to father a child on someone they haven't wed (or fail to marry when they learn of the pregnancy), except when the mother was a Crown-licensed prostitute (yes, such licensing is new, and involves War Wizards covertly paying ladies of the evening who pass on interesting things they see and hear from clients), is now a ten-years-of-prisoner-labour (mainly road repair, irrigation, and bridge-building) offense.

So saith Ed.

All this and another teaser for the Best of Eddie book, too!


love to all,

Wooly, don't you see?

The Crown wants Cormyr repopulated and is prepared to pick up some of the costs of feeding and rearing a child - - but wants to prevent an "unwed mother" explosion by telling randy troops (the men in the kingdom it can readily control) that they'll get punished if they get up to hanky-panky to split some coin with the lucky lass, or thinking the Crown will pay for the child so they can happily roger any willing woman without any thought of "being a father." A population explosion of unruly brats is NOT desired.



March 25, 2005: Hello, all. Wooly Rupert recently asked Ed of the Greenwood this: So does "Srinshee" have a specific meaning, then?

And Ed makes reply: Yes.

After I stopped laughing, I sent Ed back a "c'mon, dear, more!" e-mail, and received this additional lore:

"srinna" is an old, nigh-forgotten Elvish dialect word meaning: "one who tests limits/the testing of limits/the finding of new horizons and thus establishing new boundaries"

From this, obviously, "srinshee" is a wise female elder, strong in magic, who tests the limits (of magic), and THE Srinshee is an individual whom some elves, at some time, have officially confirmed or anointed in this role. The term has drifted, over the long years, to mean something more like 'keeper of the secrets' (of magic) or 'keeper of our power.'

So saith Ed.

So there you have it, Wooly dearest.

love to all,


March 26, 2005: Hello, all. Ed of the Greenwood makes reply to Taelohn:

The reactions of folk to the appearance of half-fiends or half-celestials looking drastically different than human depends on where it appears, what's going on where it appears, and its own behavior.

In general, rural farmers will attack or flee and hide, and folk in the most tolerant trading centers (such as Waterdeep and Tashluta) or the most lawless ones (Scornubel or the docks in Luskan) will have the most casual reactions: treating it as they would anyone else (after perhaps making sure weapons are to hand). Yes, a close watch would be kept on such folk, and the local watch (and perhaps handy priests) would be alerted - - and the watch would then DEFINITELY keep such beings under observation.

In general, such beings are very rare in the Realms and do tend to dwell in wilderland areas, keeping to themselves, travelling under magical guises, and adopting constant magical disguises if they choose to dwell in urban areas (such as the cities of Sembia).

Again, angelic-winged half-celestials would generally cause shock and awe in farmlands (there are the inevitable folk tales of farm lasses being wooed and even seduced by "angels" who appeared only to them, and hid from everyone else on the farm), and could well succeed in passing itself off as a divine creature. All strangers get watched in small settlements; strangers who are "different from us" get watched suspiciously. The advice of priests is sought, if they're available.

In urban areas, priests would be summoned 'on the double' to identify such a creature, but it would in general be treated politely, as an outlander worthy of respect, until priests' pronouncements or its own words and deeds evoked different reactions. Not many people would know what it truly was, but their reactions would be tempered by a wariness (in a magic-using society where "strange" outlanders can well have unknown spells and abilities) about any unfamiliar sort of being.

So saith Ed.

More Realmslore from the Master tomorrow.

love to all,


March 27, 2005: Hello, all. Skeptic, your recent query happened to coincide with some lore-work Ed was doing, so behold: some lore about the Lady Naneatha Lhaurilstar:

Skeptic, the Lady Naneatha Lhaurilstar is one of four well-established courtesans of Waterdeep - - by which I mean the four senior (out of a dozen or so) professional hostesses paid by the Palace to give house room and companionship to visiting VIPS (trade envoys, wealthy investors, important merchants and sometimes priests, rulers and courtiers). All of these senior courtesans (Larissa Neathal is another; she's detailed on page 70 of the Campaign Guide booklet in the CITY OF SPLENDORS boxed set) are styled "Lady of Waterdeep" and accorded personal arms (heraldic blazons) and status as if they were heads of noble Houses of Waterdeep. Their role often (but needn't) involves sexually pleasing their guests; they function more as guides to the city, networking facilitators (escorting their guests to the right feasts, revels, and private dinners and meetings; and performing introductions), friendly companions, and sources of food, lodgings, coaches, laundry facilities, servants' lodgings for their guests.

The intent is to foster friendships, so their guests will "think well" of Waterdeep, and confide in the courtesans, too (all of them of course being spies for the Palace, mind-protected by the Blackstaff's spells - - and monitored from afar by duty apprentices of Blackstaff Tower, when 'working' - - to prevent their being subverted by hostile magic or mental powers of guests).

Alone of the four, Naneatha Lhaurilstar (now a NG human female T5; Dex 17, Cha 16) is a member of the Red Sashes, and only one of two Red Sashes who know that their leader, "the One," is in fact Durnan of the Yawning Portal.

Loarulingates, her palatial but cozy, walled-garden-girt mansion, stands on the south side of quiet, exclusive Gem Street in Castle Ward, its tree-cloaked, ponds-and-bridges shady gardens overlooked by the grim battlements of Castle Waterdeep immediately to the south. Loarulingates, named by Naneatha for her dead mother Loarulin (herself a courtesan of Waterdeep, who raised her after the death of her father Angrel Lhaurilstar, a half-elf ranger from Silverymoon, and taught her the arts of pleasure, grace, dancing, etiquette, and acting), stands on Gem Street between the ornate stone homes of two wealthy, aging merchants, and its gardens spread out in a triangular wedge behind it.

Naneatha has superb control of her emotions, voice, and face: she might feign fear or awe or excitement, and may also feel them in truth, but one can never be sure that the emotions she exhibits match her true feelings. Nothing disgusts her, from kissing foul-breathed orcs to rolling in blood and gore to assisting in birthings; she stays cool-headed and usually shows the world a sunny disposition. She is a firm (and trusted) friend of Durnan, Piergeiron, Madeiron, Tarthus, Mirt, Asper, and Kitten - - as well as dozens of outlanders whom she's "guested" in the service of the city. She's been the lover of many of the latter, and of Durnan (briefly, long ago, before his marriage), Madeiron, Tarthus, and Kitten (who remains her closest friend).

Naneatha has a low, throaty chuckle (she can giggle when she deems it appropriate, and is a VERY good mimic of the voices and verbal mannerisms of others), long (bum-length) and wavy golden blonde-hair, a lush figure (trim waist and thighs, but ample breasts and hips), and a fine-boned face and throat that a visiting Calishite pasha once described as "the most beautiful he's ever seen: as if Sune and Sharess themselves sculpted her, and took great trouble over their work." Naneatha can improve her Charisma score temporarily by improving her appearance (with cosmetics, hairdo, and clothing) and her manner; she customarily assumes a laid-back, rather languid, 'cozy good-listener and submissive best friend' manner [hence the 16 score] rather than trying to dominate a room. She has successfully passed herself off as a queen "from far Thardelay, beyond Thay" and successfully fooled courtiers of Tethyr and wealthy folk of Amn and Neverwinter, just by acting imperious.

Usually very busy in the service of the city, Naneatha values her private time. When 'off-cloak' (her term for "off duty"), she often slips out a back gate onto one of the paths that climb the slopes of Mount Waterdeep, and passes around the Castle, to reach Dock Ward without using the main streets, and goes to taverns and festhalls with Kitten. She usually does this in old clothes, deliberately dirtying herself up (sometimes by simply rolling in the mulch-pile of her own gardens) and looking and acting down-at-heel. She loves watching bawdy entertainment and drinking when she DOESN'T have to act the perfect hostess, or appear awed or aroused or amused by some loutish guest of the city. She can deftly and VERY quickly alter her appearance by subtle use of cosmetics, changing the apparent size of her eyes and brows and shape of her face - - and she wears (and uses) an anklet (that looks like a bandage) equal in powers to a Mask of Lies (q.v., COMPLETE ADVENTURER p134) that enables her to activate a Disguise Self at will to change the hue of her hair from its striking gold to anything she wants (usually she chooses a dirty, tangled black).

Naneatha secretly loves Kitten more than she wants Kitten to know, and also longs to become the lover of Laeral (who's just recently become aware of the intensity of Naneatha's feelings, doesn't want to shatter her in any way, and is debating with herself as to what to do about it). Naneatha enjoys the company of men - - she just happens to feel most strongly for two people who happen to be of her own gender. Naneatha takes pride in her work, and intends to go on doing it for as long as her looks and health let her. She intends to use her wiles to marry a lonely noble (of either gender), and live out her failing days in luxury, hopefully retaining Kitten (or winning Laeral, or enjoying both) as her lover. Though she spends lavishly on clothing, scents, and wine (she's built up a huge cellar of drinkables, a taste for identifying them, and a tolerance for drinking that would astonsih many a sailor), the upkeep of Loarulingates and its gardens are paid for by Piergeiron. Naneatha draws a salary of nine thousand gold pieces a year, and is often given large bonuses by Piergeiron (in some years, increasing her income five-fold). She's quietly investing some of this in Mirt's shipping concerns, and most of it by purchasing property after property in Sea Ward and North Ward, as well as owning Superb Splendors, a small firm of gnome and half-elven painters and decorators (who do ornamental trim, match or complement existing decor, and so on, for the wealthy and noble).

Some years ago Naneatha purchased a burnt-out North Ward tallhouse. She put Superb Splendors to overseeing its demolition, to salvage anything useful and to determine the condition of its foundations ere builders began erecting a new building (tasteful rental suites, one to a floor), and they found something strange: a small stone in the rubble that felt like a smooth metal box when handled - - and brought on a night-time attack by skeletons and a skeletal bat.

Naneatha took custody of the stone from her frightened workers, and was soon visited by the source of the undead: a lich whose phylactery the 'stone' (actually a metal box bearing an illusion) was. They had a tense confrontation, but her utter lack of fear impressed the lich, who offered to let her hide the phylactery somewhere in Loarulingates, keeping it safe. If it's ever stolen or damaged, their deal will end - - but until then, the lich will come and defend or aid her if she handles the phylactery and calls its name, or avenge her if she's slain (it'll do this once, taking the phylactery and ending their agreement at the same time). Naneatha has kept the name, nature, and existence of the lich secret, and doesn't know where it dwells (somewhere in or under Waterdeep, she suspects) from everyone except Laeral, who happened to find out when renewing the spells cast on Naneatha's mind, did not reveal even to Naneatha what she'd learned, and cast a few additional magics of her own to hide this secret from Khelben and any Blackstaff Tower apprentice who might have mind-contact with the courtesan.

As a thief, Naneatha steals information, almost never items (and NEVER mere coins and valuables). The few items she does take are things like maps and notes (for copying and stealthy return), betraying talismans or symbols (to pass to the authorities), or perils such as poisons, gases, magic items, and weapons (to deprive a dangerous person of them before authorities come calling).

As a Red Sash, her duties are almost always these: hiding persons in one of her properties or among her household (and aiding in disguising them); spying on persons (watching and eavesdropping) at feasts and revels; reporting to the Red Sashes on the doings of her city-assigned "guests;" and using her beauty as a decoy or distraction (or, in disguise, acting a part the Sashes need her to, such as a city lady or shopkeeper's wife gossiping where someone can overhear, and passing on misinformation or a code-phrase in this manner). Sometimes she'll be sent to Dock Ward in the guise of a common trull to pick up and take a person through cellars, sewers, and Mirt's tunnels to another Waterdhavian address (usually a 'safe house' for hiding, and sometimes her own Loarulingates, which has several secret entrances and garden tunnels of its own, one of them emerging up in the heart of a still-living tree).

So saith Ed.

Wow, a wealth of information on Lady Naneatha Lhaurilstar, to be sure. Hope this is of help, Skeptic.

love to all,


March 28, 2005: Hello, all. The Hooded One here again, with more Realmslore tidbits from the Creator of our sandbox, Ed of the Greenwood himself.

malchor7, Ed tells me he knows of absolutely no Realms fiction plans featuring Castellan Scyllua Darkhope - - but that doesn't mean there aren't any, because Books Publishing at WotC doesn't tell him everything about projects he's not directly working on.

If he DID know, he adds, he'd probably be able to tell you nothing, thanks to NDAs.

George Krashos, Ed tells me a glowhammer is indeed a magic item, description owned by TSR (and so, now, WotC) but obviously shelved by them long ago. They own it, so Ed will have to find some way to sneak it into an 'official' publication, somehow, to get it into the hands of scribes. It's basically, from what little I recall from play, a war hammer that glows upon command, and can also be released and commanded to 'stay' (whereupon it floats in midair, unmoving, until touched by the one who so set it again, or by someone else (like a dwarf elder of the same clan) who knows its secret 'release' word. Ed will get to your other Dwarves Deep queries as soon as he can (which is to say, in the fullness of time). So, no, it wasn't a typo for glowstone. :}

Dargoth, on page 19 of the 2004 Questions for Ed Greenwood thread are Ed's comments (relayed through me) about this mini-dungeon. As far as I remember, this Archmage isn't Shraevyn.

And that's a grab-bag for today. Expect more Realmslore on the morrow.

love to all,


March 28, 2005: To malchor7, re:

"Should I take this to mean pronounciation's kinda up in the air?"

Nope. It just means Ed hasn't gotten to that one yet.

He's so buried under lore queries from me (you folks), WotC staffers, various freelance designers working for WotC, and librarians (about library stuff, not the Realms), to say nothing of local debates in his village re. sewage treatment (no, I'm not making this up; I wish I was!), that he can't always look at queries from the same scribe and combine them. Sometimes they just go on the pile, and get done as he comes to them. No longer in chronological order, but more often in ease of answering/finding his lore notes order. Just now, he has family visiting for Easter, and I understand he's been drawing maps recently. He'll get to Darkhope, I promise.



March 29th, 2005: Hello, all. Ed replies to a certain questioner:

Dargoth, in reply to your queries about specific mysterious map locales, let's look at the list:

Dreamers Rock: Garen Thal has dealt ably with this for you already.

Golden Ruins: NDA

Temple of Chonis: NDA

Tomb of Chonis: NDA

"Unknown Shrine:" NDA

Sorry, but I can't comment on these at the present time (hint, hint).

Dargoth, I'd be VERY cautious in relating the Witchlords of Cormyr to the WitchKing of Vaasa (which should tell you just how unlikely it is that there's a connection, right there :}), and there's NO WAY a Temple of Orcus would be sitting in Cormyr MARKED ON A MAP. (Ruins of a former temple, maybe. Just maybe.)

So saith Ed.

Emphatically enough, I might add!

And as for pegging me for Illistyl Elventree: dear, a lady never tells (and neither do wanton sluts like me!)

And neither Ed nor I have the faintest what Illistyl's "official" WotC 3.5e stats would be. Her ORIGINAL stats described her psionics as a "wild talent," and Ed and I suppose we might go that route in 3.5e (the Wild Talent feat or its Hidden Talent expanded version) - - but then again, the question is largely meaningless because Ed still runs Psionics with the original rules plus the 'Mind Wrestling' internal unpublished TSR notes from 1978 to 1979 or so (akin to the DRAGON article from - - if memory serves me correctly - - issue 25), which in 3.5e terms is an approach to psionics very close to the EXPANDED PSIONICS HANDBOOK "Psionics is Different" Variant (in Ed's Realms, of course, it's not a 'variant' at all, but the original, unchanged governing psionics rules).

Once again, we see the difference highlighted, between a rules-heavy "crunch" game sold to many, and a roleplaying-heavy campaign played by friends who agree to just let the DM 'paint the picture' rather than rules-lawyering. We really do treat the rules as "guidelines." Ah, well.

More next time, of course.

love to all,


March 30, 2005: Hello, all. Ed of the Greenwood hereafter makes reply to Taelohn's query of "Hm... when someone is named after a deity (such as Torm), does that mean that his divine nakesake (who hears his name whenever it's spoken) would have his attention drawn to this mortal again and again?

(Or in the case of a girl named Seluneshar, mentioned in one of the Elminster novels... the attention of two deities?)"

Yes and no. Or, to put that a little more clearly: yes, a deity hears whenever anyone addresses a namesake mortal by name (and, yes, both Selūne and Shar would hear when the lass named Seluneshar was named), but this babble goes on ALL the time (prayers, remember), for the vast majority of deities, in a ceaseless thunder. They learn to tune it out, or quickly go mad (Cyric, anyone?). So they're aware of all these "callings" in the background, and will notice peaks, breaks, and changes in the frequency, tone, and amount of mortal utterances of their name - - but will only 'zero in' on a particular voice when they want to.

If, say, Torm the god took an interest in Torm the smart-mouthed Knight of Myth Drannor (as entertainment, perhaps), Torm the god could 'set his feelers' to 'listen properly' to utterances of his name addressed to this mortal (or to any particular mortal not directly protected by another deity; that is, not including clergy or champions of another god, but very much including his own priests), and pay heed to those conversations only, using his other powers to "listen in" on lengthy conversations once he's detected them.

Most deities ignore mortal callings unless or until they're bored, upset, interested in learning something or regard a situation as a crisis that MUST be responded to. If someone named for them blasphemes them often, they might just send a manifestation of their power to chastise, make a public example of, or destroy the mocking mortal. Most mature deities don't bother, but merely make note of such mortals with an eye to 'using' them for a greater or more useful purpose in time to come.

So saith Ed.

Who is a god himself, of course. The God of Bearded Overweight Sex, at the moment, I believe... ahem. If I fall silent, you'll know he heard me.

love to all,


March 31, 2005: Hello, fellow scribes. This time, Ed makes reply to Haman:

You're quite welcome re. the MageFairs info; 'twas a pleasure to write. Now, as for the "Niedre" gold elf family: never heard of them. However, I know a little about the Nierdre gold elf family. :}

Here we go...

House Nierdre differed from most sun elves of Myth Drannor in eagerly embracing the 'dream' of all demi-human races dwelling together in harmony; in particular, they enjoyed the company of dwarves, and made firm friendships with many Stout Folk.

In the final fighting of Myth Drannor's fall, a dwarf named Thardrun Emmerstone saved the lives of the last two Nierdre elves (after almost two dozen had died in combat), and rushed them through a gate (3e "portal") to Evermeet.

All three were sorely wounded, in body and in mind; they remained obsessed with returning to Myth Drannor and driving forth its attackers. Yet Rhaeldilar Nierdre took a wife in Evermeet, and his sister Aluvae Nierdre, powerful in Art, used her magic to work with Thardrun to build a black stone mansion for the Nierdres in Leuthilspar. (They spell-shaped basalt into a smooth, continuous, durable [can expand and contract as a whole, rather than cracking at impact and under temperature changes] shiny jet-black mass - - rather than the notoriously-fracture-prone natural state of basalt. How they did this is - - or was - - known only to Rhaeldilar, Aluvae, and Thardrun.)

Rhaeldilar and his wife Lhaurilel (born to the small, little-known Alanthaelar sun elf family) had a dozen children, nine of them sons, and effectively refounded the family. Their eldest son, Mlarlel, perished in 994 DR (falling from a wild pegasus he was trying to tame into the sea - - via some jagged 'wash rocks' that shattered him) but the others remain alive today, and have all married and had children of their own. (Obviously, your player's character is one of these Nierdres).

Rhaeldilar, Aluvae, and Thardrun longed to return to Myth Drannor, despite what was known in Evermeet of the dark disaster that had befallen there, and in 1312 DR finally departed Evermeet, intending to cleanse the ruined city and live out their lives there, working with Alok Silverspear, Luvon Greencloak, and others to refound the City of Song.

Nothing is known of their fate, for Faerūn has known no sign of them since they 'raised the gate' that had first brought them to the Everlasting Isle and stepped back through it (its Myth Drannan terminus was thought to be a garden glade near the southwestern edge of Myth Drannor).

Today, most of the Nierdres are as haughty as most sun elves towards non-elves, though they get along well enough with moon elves and elves not of Evermeet. The head of the house, in Leuthilspar, is Lord Maiele Nierdre (LG male sun elf Wiz13), but he's a rather shy, diffident man more interested in flight and "worlds beyond the stars" and "far, unspoilt corners of this world" than in the daily politics and intrigues of mainland Faerūn or the Fair Folk in general (he believes that the more elves of Evermeet become involved on the mainland, the more they are "dragged down" by contact with non-elves into losing "all that is bright and high" about being elven - - and that it's wisest to keep to "the old ways," [even fellow Nierdres have noticed that these "old ways" seem to shift to whatever Maiele wants them to be at any given moment] and isolation in the green fastnesses, and refrain from dwelling or trading in contact with other races, humans in particular). However, Maiele is well-meaning, polite even to non-elves (a coldly correct courtesy to them), and a retiring rather than a forceful personality.

The most famous Nierdre is probably Jhalavarr Nierdre, a widely-travelled adventurer (CG male sun elf Ftr14) who spends all of his time on mainland Faerūn these days, and his younger brother Fierdel (CG male sun elf Ftr10), who trades betimes with the elves of Suldanessellar in the Wealdath, whereas most of the other Nierdres stay on Evermeet, venturing elsewhere only to Evereska and back, via portal, for brief social visits.

One recent and notable exception is Rildarra Nierdre, a young and hedonistic (CG female sun elf Ftr7/Wiz7/EldKgt1) 'free spirit' of raven-dark tresses, lush good looks, and eyes of deep emerald green ringed with gold who's fascinated with human society and ways, and has taken to exploring Waterdeep and other coastal cities, delving into all manner of intrigues and clubs and societies, both secret and otherwise. There are signs that Rildarra's travels have stirred a restlessness in Nierdre kin of her age; several have spoken (even to Lord Maiele's face) of "seeing wider Faerūn." (Your player's character could well be one of these.)

In Evermeet, the Nierdres are regarded as but a shadow of their forebearers, in both influence and wealth - - but are respected as that strangest of combinations: pragmatic (in daily in-touch-with-up-to-date events, ways, and lore) conservatives. Some honour them for wanting to cling to old ways, some respect them for their demonstrated ability to so swiftly rebuild the family wealth from nothing to more-than-nothing, some mistrust them for this same achievement (what are they REALLY up to? can they be trusted?), and some sneer at them as deluded or self-serving for promoting old ways and themselves being so modern-worldly-wise.

The truth about their trade is that the three 'immediately younger' brothers of Maiele are tireless wheeling-dealing traders on the mainland (commuting by means of secret portals) in scents, spices, and (legal) drugs. They keep prices low, though they're not above "arranging" temporary local shortages to make some prices merely SEEM low, and are making the Nierdres a great deal of money and having fun doing it. All three are swift-witted, urbane, and handsome: Telaerd (CN male elf Rog11/Ftr4); Dyarren (CN male elf Rog9/Ftr3); and Zouciphur (CN male elf Rog7/Sor4). They often use assumed names while on the mainland.

So saith Ed.

Hmm, instant family; into my lorebooks it goes.

love to all,


On March 31, 2005 THO said: Wooly: bards, sages, and scribes (court historians) go "either way" depending on personal preference - - but individuals almost always count "summers" if they were born in summer, and "winters" if they were born in winter (and folks usually consider spring and fall part of "summer" for this purpose only, unless they're trying to portray themselves as "tough" because they were born in winter).


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