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 2008

On January 1, 2008 THO said:  Good question, Neriandal Freit! Off to Ed it goes.
I do know, from some discussions we players had with Ed over the years, that "the gnome way" has been to dwell in human cities, as the plumbers, launderers, roof-shinglers, whittlers, packers, and makers of greases and ointments (among other things) so darned well that they literally fall beneath notice.
Meaning that they are just accepted as part of the neighbourhood, and always go for the shy, quiet smiling public persona rather than the cheerful "bouncy" or cocky persona of many halflings. As a result, they live with humans happily unregarded, whereas the halflings live with humans happily noticed.
(I am, of course, handing out a generalisation here, and it should be treated as such.)


On January 3, 2008 THO said: Hello again, all. Ed remains chained to his keyboard, trying to get overdue stuff done and in to the good and very patient folks at Wizards, but we did chat briefly, and I can offer my usual partial answer to some recent queries (pending his "proper" replies, sometime in the future).

To The Sage: the constant influx of traders, adventurers, and fugitives from justice into the Border Kingdoms has always made the Common Tongue THE vital and paramount language there. Rural areas develop their own "special meaning" words and expressions (so, dialects in the linguistic sense), but Common remains the (forgive me) lingua franca. That's not to say that a score or so of other languages don't flourish as a means of personal communications between certain Borderers, but Common is the primary tongue of trade, because in most market-moots in the Borders, you never know who will be listening to, and understanding, your asides in "your own tongue."

Asgetrion, the dead are buried in Eveningstar as follows: all Lathanderites and good-aligned folk whose families don't express wishes to the contrary are interred, yes, on the Temple Grounds (crypts for the wealthy who donate, and in a ground plot to the north of the tilled temple fields, hard by the temple buildings, for the less wealthy). "Unknowns," the homeless, and outlaws tend to get buried in the Gorge, anywhere well away from the stream and not too much of a hike away from Eveningstar. There are also separate burial grounds for some other faiths (small boulder-walled rectangles of ground with lots of mature trees growing in them, shading all) on the north side of the main trade-road, west of the temple lands (so, just off the map). A few eccentrics have been buried in their own cellars or in various odd places, at their written-before-death requests. The diseased or poisoned or "tainted by necromancy" are usually burned in an outdoor pyre, and then their ashes buried in a regular grave.

As for Elminster, the answer depends on what you mean by "featured." It also depends on whether certain future plans come to fruition.

Pillar Rock is a tall rock "chimney" or "stack" with a cave-mouth in its eastern face, leading into a natural rock cavity that was chipped out a little to give it a more level floor, and to turn the rock at its heart into a massive, still-joined-to-the-floor stone coffin (with massive lid). Various bodies were stashed temporarily in there in recent times, and there are many, many conflicting tales about who was first buried in there, when, and by whom.

So saith me.

More as soon as I can.


On January 3, 2008 THO said: It would indeed. Complete with fake "ghost" to keep the locals away. It was The Swordyard, the burial yard for followers of Torm, Helm, and Tempus, which is the most easterly of the five north-side cemeteries (the one closest to the temple-farm of Lathander). The Zhents had simply lifted up a headstone and hollowed out a small storage cavity beneath it. Torm of the Knights left two severed hands behind in that space, severed during the fight (a Zhent brandished what he thought - - and the Zhent wanted him to think - - was a powerful evil magic item, and Islif swung around and sliced into the man's wrists, her steel biting through them when her swing drove him back against a tree trunk that was right behind him).

Ah, grand old adventuring moments...



On January 6, 2008 THO said: Hello again, all. Ed is thundering along on new Realmslore and e-hurling it to the good designers at Wizards just as fast as he can, leaving me to handle the Realmslore (consulting with him, of course) for a little while longer yet.

First, re. gnomes: the Gnome Talk article that was supposed to be one of "The New Adventures of Volo" column in DRAGON never did get published. Ed will see (when he as the time, of course) if it can't be put up on the Wizards website. The free area, hopefully. (And yes, he knows he owes everyone the 2007 Spin A Yarn story.)

Second, Garen Thal is quite correct in his reply re. the cleaning of Suzail's streets and sewers. More from Ed on the other lore queries asked at the same time, as soon as he can.

Third, the Berdusk questions from Asgetrion: the map is correct, and the text should be amended (in editing, it got shortened and rewritten, catty Volo comments being removed, until the rejoined ends of sentence fragments ended up not matching the map). No big matter; just assume Volo was less than sober when penning those few paragraphs.

As for the mysterious compound you speak of: it's a caravan "corral" or walled campground, for mustering outgoing caravans, disassembling arriving caravans, and for the wagons to be stored guarded against theft for a few days. These are shared by several costers or caravan companies.

The compound to the east of it is a stockyards, with sorting paddocks joined to a "throat" enclosure, for driven oxen, sheep, horses, cattle (and sometimes hogs and goats) to be confined separately, auctioned or bought and separated out for buyers (such as butchers or grand-house-cooks from the city, or drovers seeking to take a few animals elsewhere).

This lore comes directly from Ed's notes. When I spoke to him, he added that no manor house would for choice be sited between a busy, noisy city gate and road approach, and a smelly, busy stockyards. A manor house would have trees, its own pond (for water storage for beasts), a separate pond for human drinking, a gardens with an ornamental pond (bridge to island folly, if coins stretch that far), an orchard, and a site along its own winding (and probably gated) lane, far from major roads. Ed says there are about a dozen walled mansions around Berdusk, but they're far from the walls, "just within sight of the city, no closer."



On January 8, 2008 THO said: Great questions, tauster!
I suspect Ed will want to take a good look at the 4e version of aboleths (note: I am making an assumption that there is one, here, NOT operating on any "inside knowledge") before replying to you in full, but we'll see what comes back from Winterkeep . . .


On January 10, 2008 THO said: Hi, thom! A proper answer will have to wait for Ed, of course, but the quick one is: Ed has always used a wide variety of variant beholders in the Realms, many of which have made it into the official rules over the years, and yes, we faced a LOT of eye tyrants (particularly lesser controlled beholderkin and various forms of guardian undead beholders) that were missing some of the more formidable eyes or had different eyestalk powers. We even had a tiny "floating eyeball" beholder pet for a time, and were served plates of stewed miniature beholders at a particular club in Calimport. Not to mention the stripper whose three naughtiest bared features were covered by attached miniature beholders who had quite formidable eye-powers indeed, and enabled her to be quite safe and unmolested no matter where she was performing . . .
Ah, the tales I could tell . . .


On January 12, 2008 THO said: Hello, all! I bring a brief message from Ed:

Damian and Craig, you're GOOD. Here's the truth: Elminster is not Klauth. Klauth is . . . Klauth. A nasty and very cunning red dragon of much age and experience.
Who is starting to sleep for longer and longer periods. Whenever he does, it alerts a certain person that Klauth is dreaming again. Said person then casts a subtle spell to keep Klauth "deeper asleep" for a time, and then impersonates him. Taking dragon shape and doing things that some might term "having fun," others call "righting some wrongs," and still others would call "irresponsible meddling."
Said person is indeed a Talonmist.
Daerendar Talonmist, to be precise ("Daern" in daily parlance). Who spends most of the rest of his time in seclusion, devising new spells and tinkering with old ones. His specialties are draconic magic and "trigger magic items from afar" spells.
Until, of course, the Spellplague hits...


So saith Ed. Who is hard at work "putting the icing on the cake" of Realmslore you may all be VERY interested in, even if you don't adopt the "new" Realms (geographically, Ed tells me, this will be relatively easy to do). Hmmm . . .
love to all,


On January 12, 2008 THO said: As it happens, Wooly dearest, I asked Ed about that very thing, and he told me:
For the short term, yes (as in, until he gets some of the big - - and late - - projects done). For the longer term, he very much wants to finish covering the BKs (pre-timeshift), somehow and somewhere (perhaps an all-in-one download on the Wizards site). There will be coverage of that same geographical area in future Realms publications, he assures me, if current plans come to fruition.


On January 13, 2008 THO said: PDK, Ed has of course no say at all in where and how website Realmslore will appear, but he told me he expects it to be a freebie for gamers, being as the series started that way.

Rinonalyrna Fathomlin, Ed says yes, it should be readily usable in the old Realms if you ignore references here and there and "devise your own trade arrangements."

Stonwulfe, Ed says this is a different Talonmist. Same family, of course, but different (and far more aggressive) guy. Daern likes to "hide inside" Klauth for all his lashing out and daring stuff, and be the stay-at-home scholar in his family's eyes, as well as everyone else's.


On January 13, 2008 THO said: Hello, all. coastiemike, I sent your query off to Ed, who must have been camped on his computer, because he sent a reply back right away. Here 'tis:

Hi, coastiemike. There's no such thing as an "official flower" for Silverymoon, BUT there's only one flower that anyone in Silverymoon would consider using or wearing in such a ceremony. It's called either "blueshine" or "moonflower," and is a tiny white tulip-shaped flower surrounded by six triangular green leaves. The green leaves glow a vivid blue when touched by moonlight, and the white flower glows a pearly white - - and long, long ago, Silvaeren spellcasters devised a simple cantrip that duplicates moonlight closely enough to make these flowers glow under all lighting conditions, when it's applied to them.

So saith Ed. And there you have it . . .

Edit: Ed neglected to mention that this flower grows wild all over the Dessarin valley, among what's called "snowdrift" (a ground-hugging flower that looks like white clover). This comes from my own notes, jotted down during play over the years.


On January 14, 2008 THO said:  You're very welcome, coastiemike.
I bring yet another swift, brief reply from Ed, this time to Mace Hammerhand:


The concept is attractive, and although it's theoretically possible under the original Realms agreement, it's not under my current consulting contract, which has some time still to run. Not to mention the fact that I just don't have TIME to regularly provide quality Realmslore now or for the foreseeable future. I'm getting tired of being late on projects and disappointing people; it's not the way I want to go through life. :{
With that said, I can and do still write Realmslore for free when I can (largely here at the Keep, these days, or privately to scribes here who ask me privately, so as to keep their players from seeing what they ask and what replies I make).
So, for now at least, sorry but no.
Keep asking me, though. :}

So saith Ed. Who is still struggling to finish two major Realms-related projects, before he tackles the REST of the stuff piling up on his plate. He's not an idle lad, our Ed . . .
love to all,


On January 14, 2008 THO said:  Hello again, all!
I just received ANOTHER Ed e-mail, hot on the heels of the first! This one is in reference to this recent post, from Ergdusch: "I have just finished reading Crown of Fire!And I have to say: Wonderful! Magnificent! All this detail, the thought that seems to be put into every word to make every character andevery place come to life! I am truely impressed! And all the little tidbits of lore esp. about Cormyr.
And when reading about Myrintara I had to think about you THO. Any chance Ed did the same when creating that pleasure-queen?
Please pass on my thanks to Ed for a truely remarkable read.
I do have a question, however, regarding the entrance to the Hidden House: Is Shandril already in the Hidden House after Tessaril shoves her through the portal? Or does she reach the House after passing through the many rooms? Thanks in advance."
Ed replies:


Glad you liked it! I had a lot of fun writing that one, though I was still learning to squeeze stories into TSR wordcounts, and had to wind up the tale a trifle abruptly.
The portal is one way into the Hidden House, so Shandril is in it the moment Tessaril shoves her through. Note that sometimes doors within the House open into one place, and at other times (or when traversed in other directions) to other places. There are many ways into and out of the House, but they tend to "hide" or disappear for periods. In short, next time someone plunges through that portal, it might not take them to the same place it took Shandril, if they don't go through it at just the right time, or in just the right manner, or carrying the right "trigger token." Heh-heh, and so on.


So saith Ed. The house was a favourite refuge for us, more than once, though quite a few Cormyreans seem to be getting to know about it . . .
love to all,

Edit: Whoops, I left off the last paragraph of Ed's e-mail. Here 'tis:

As for the pleasure-queens, they are based on several adventuresome ladies I knew in my youth. Our Lovely Lady Hooded didn't happen to be one of them, but I can quite see how some might think she was. There are two Realms characters inspired by, but not based on, her, but no prizes for guessing which ones; they haven't ever been given prominence in published Realmslore. Yet. Heh-heh again.


So saith Ed (again). Really done this time; sorry about that.


On January 16, 2008 THO said:  Hello again, all. I bring Ed's latest Realmslore, this one a swift reply to tauster's question about dwarven voices:


Hi. You're quite right to say that on an individual basis, any stereotype of dwarven voices breaks down. However, there IS an accurate stereotype, which is as follows:
Dwarves DO tend to have deeper voices than humans. And more "gravelly" (rough) ones. So Barry White isn't all that far off the mark. :}
They also tend to be terse, and sound grim. That is, when speaking Common and when not in the company of only dwarves (or only dwarves and gnomes), they tend to say the words they need to say - - and no more. (Therefore: terse.) In short, flatly declarative sentences. In those deep voices, and NEVER letting their voices rise in pitch at the end of a sentence, even when asking a question. To human ears, this comes across as "being grim."
Dwarven females tend to have voices just as deep, but far smoother and more "liquid" rather than raw or rough or gravelly.
Here's the kicker, though: many dwarves are darned good mimics. Even of high, light voices. Moreover, if they're traveling traders or adventurers, or dwell in a multi-racial city, they know how the voices of other races sound when asking questions, sharpening into anger, sounding astonished or purring provocatively, and so on. They can feign (both subtly, to deceive) and very broadly (for sarcastic or comic effect) an elf of either gender trying to seduce someone, or a human trying to wheedle, or a halfling fast-talking his way out of a tight situation.
Among their own kind or in front of gnomes, dwarves aren't terse; they joke far more (most dwarves NEVER sing - - except when drunk - - in front of non-dwarves and gnomes, and only make sarcastic jests), delight in aptly describing the characters of persons in a few words (e.g. "He's so rich that the gods owe HIM money, and he sneers at their altars every morning to wag his finger and not let them forget it" or "He's as hungry for her as a frog with its tongue just too short to reach a fly"), and speak in a lovely, rolling rhythm, not in clipped, terse sentences. When they do speak that way to another dwarf, it means they're very upset. As in angry, afraid, grieving, or despairing.
In general, though, your dwarf adventurer is going to "growl" his words, or perhaps "grunt" or "snarl" them, even "rumble" them if he's a large-chested or large-bellied dwarf. most dwarves say "aye" and "look ye" and end questions with "yes?" or "no?" (E.g. "Hard trail ahead, no?" or "You've had better days, yes?").
Again, this is all a generalization. Some dwarves have high, fluting voices, and almost avoid speaking at all (except when with other dwarves, or gnomes) because of it.
Hope this helps.


So saith Ed. Creator of the Realms, and so also its linguist extraordinaire.


On January 16, 2008 THO said:  Hello again, all.
Malcolm, the key part of your question is "That he can tell us about, at this time."
As it happens, I asked Ed about coverage of future Cormyr, and so can give you the same reply he gave me:

At this time, nothing at all has been agreed-upon. I can confirm that I certainly have INTENTIONS of writing, at least in passing, about Cormyr's future, in our future. :} Somewhere, somehow.

So saith Ed. Saying all he can, even if it 'tisn't much.


On January 17, 2008 THO said:  Hello, all. Mandras, let me try to provide what little information I can on the Mirrormanes.
Here we go:
Xeno was not created by Ed, but Maskul and the Mirrormane family were.
There is family background lore on the Mirrormanes, created by Ed and abandoned when other designers started working on Zhentil Keep (Ed wanted them to have a "free hand" rather than being bound by his unpublished and fragmentary lore).
The Mirrormanes were and are "nobility" in the sense that all Zhent nobles are: wealthy, successful local merchant families who give themselves the titles of lords and special privileges. Many of the Mirrormanes entered various clergies and rose through their ranks, shielding themselves a trifle from the cut-and-thrust of secular nobility feuding with each other. Yes, Maskul was a member of the High Imperceptor's trusted advisors and envoys among the clergy of Bane (Xeno of course I can't speak for, but I would assume he was also a high-ranking priest of the faith, for his later status [the "right place" he was in] to make any logical sense) before the Time of Troubles.
No one in Zhentil Keep knew or had any connection with Cyric the mortal before the Godsfall (and Cyric's rise).
I hope these "quickie" answers help. Ed was looking for his Mirrormane family lore to share with you, and probably hasn't found it yet. No surprise to anyone who's seen his study or his basement.
Otherwise (I ran these replies past him) this is pretty much what he would have told you.
Edit: Just to add this, to Blueblade:
Ed says this about Marsember: there are sewers, but nothing much that will provide secret routes around the city unless you can breathe water, don't mind stinking of rotting dung and dead fish, and aren't carrying anything that can be damaged by water. There ARE a few "tunnel from this cellar into the next one" linkages, though. Ed will send a proper reply when he can.


On January 18, 2008 THO said:  Uh, oh. Busted.
Seriously, Ed is in NDA territory here, and can't, I'm afraid, say anything much about the Great Spire now. Myself, I wonder if Eric Boyd can elaborate slightly, drawing on his map-augmenting for the Interactive Atlas...


On January 18, 2008 THO said:  Hello again, all. Sorry, coastiemike, re. this: "Then could he possibly advise what it was from 2nd edition ? :)"
I'm afraid NDAs don't work that way. Now if lore on the Spire that Ed had worked on had been published, he could point the way to it or discuss it, but otherwise the NDA in effect works as "Don't publicly talk about X at all."
Nice try, though.
Damian, thanks for stepping in to give Malcolm an answer! Ed will add stuff about Thessalon in the future, I'm sure.
Teamwork. I love that. It's all around us here at the Keep, too . . .


On January 18, 2008 THO said:  Hello again, all. Hawkins, I doubt I have time!!!
Mace, message received. Ed’s at work at the library for the rest of today, so it may take some time before he replies.
I did, however, receive a Realmslore reply from him before he departed for work, to this thread’s first question of 2008, from The Sage. That question was: “Ed, this is a follow-up to something we discussed back in '05 about languages and such. I'm curious about what type of languages and/or dialects you think may exist throughout the Border Kingdoms region? Which of those do you think have the most impact/influence? How have they developed and evolved over time? Do they regularly change to reflect the political and economic chaos that often grips the region?
Also, with the near-constant shifting tides of power and "occasional" influence from greater surrounding political entities in the region, I'd like to hear your thoughts on any potential clashes that could develop [or perhaps have developed] between foreign and indigenous languages. What about those indigenous languages that struggle to compete with the more widespread tongues from the North? How are they affected by those foreign languages that may be slowly reaching into the Border Kingdoms via cultural exchanges established through trade caravans and increased contact with locales north of the Lake of Steam? Are they affected?”
Ed replies:


Sage, Common is spoken by darn near everyone in the Border Kingdoms, and used automatically when speaking with strangers and travelers. This has been constant practice for the last few centuries. However, it has also been the usual daily state of affairs during the same time for every hamlet, village, thorp, and way-stop to have its own dialect, based on the language of whoever founded and settled it, modified by the tongue of whoever ruled it longest and “borrowed” words from Common to fill in the gaps (wherever the local language lacks a word or phrase for something). These dialects abound (there are probably two hundred or so in at least fragmentary daily use), are based on everything from the tongue of giants to korred dialect words, and are used as a sort of shorthand between locals, and to speak in front of an “outlander” without him or her knowing precisely what’s being said (nor is such speaking considered rude by Borderers, though it may well be by said outlander).
Calimshan and the Tashalar have long had their own dialects (I use that word rather than “languages” because they now share so much with Common that they would probably be seen by a non-scholar viewing them in the Realms of “now” [my reply is using the beginning of the last year, of detailed event entries, in A GRAND HISTORY OF THE REALMS as “now”] as dialects of Common rather than separate languages; think of Calishites as speaking with the structure of Common and a sprinkling of Common words plus a LOT of Common verbs, but using “funny alternate words” for a vast array of other such things as: chair, table, gown, barrel, family, fashionable, expected, and gate.
The prevalence of Common means this sort of thing now happens darn near everywhere that has trade with wider Faerûn and any sort of human dominance or 30 percent or more population representation (i.e. not Veldorn, Chult, or in the Underdark but just about everywhere else in western continental Faerûn). Yes, trade and travel is having that much influence, regardless of local likes or dislikes.


So saith Ed. Who will return with more Realmslore replies in the fullness of time.
love to all,


On January 18, 2008 THO said:  Paul, your query has gone off to Ed.
HawkinstheDM, when it comes to my non-work life and hobbies, I have no secrets from Ed - - and darned few from any scribes here, either. You can ask me anything (and I mean ANYthing ) here, right in front of Ed, and he won't mind . . . and neither (purrrr) will I.


On January 19, 2008 THO said: Hello again, all. I bring Ed’s response to Zandilar’s recent e-mail. As it’s not far above this post, in the thread, I’ll quote just one part of it:

Warning, possible spoilers for Swords of Dragonfire follow!

There. Herewith, Ed’s reply:


Hi, Zandilar. Re. your request, first: I, too, have noticed that. I have written some strong female characters into certain new [and still NDA] source material, have no idea how much or how little influence I have, and will certainly (at least in the novels I write) continue to feature strong female characters. (For one thing, weak female characters bore me utterly.) Please watch, but have patience; we’ll have to see how long these things take to flower.

As for your Swords scene comments, here’s the truth of the matter:

X (the kissing character) is ogled but nothing more that that by most of the assembled Cormyreans because of her status (Court etiquette pertaining to visiting envoys; strictly hands off unless the visiting VIP initiates something, in the same real-world way Brits up on their court etiquette know the “Don’t speak to the Queen unless she speaks to you!” rule) and in a few cases because of personal prejudice (dirty outlander, “weird elf-touched woman; might catch something - - they all use magic! One can’t be too careful!”) or embarrassment (she’s tall and very beautiful, and has just kissed two women with enthusiasm - - that might well stop shorter, older, more shy men or women from wanting to greet her).
Whereas the male character the Cormyrean women were flinging themselves at is a young, known-to-be-unattached “local hero” of the moment (“If I dare not have the King, I can at least have the dreamily-hunky man who RESCUED him!”), one of their countrymen, whom they know to have a status that won’t get them in legal or social trouble merely for making approaches.

X bestows her first two kisses as she does for these reasons: to show EVERYONE that a certain well-deserved royal reputation is going to be useless in swaying her; that as an envoy she’s not going to be quiet, deferential to royalty, and diplomatic to the point of submerging her personality; that no one should take her for granted; that she finds the two women she kissed personally attractive (as a senior courtier in the city she’s representing, she is an active participant in what others might deem “orgies,” and regularly enjoys partners of both genders and several races, in the company of many others also participating in lovemaking) and even preferable to the person she passed by to deliver the first kiss; and (following the secret orders given her by the ruler of her city) she wants to establish firm friendships with both of the women she kissed, to act as some measure of influence on Cormyr (where her ruler has in the past failed to easily sway either Vangerdahast or the wearer of the crown through friendly overtures).
X delivers her third kiss, to the male this time (let’s call him “Y” in deference to a certain chromosome :} ) , in a surprised and delighted meeting with him: a firm friend and lover from her past, seen again after many years apart (akin to meeting your high-school sweetheart whom you lost touch with, and fate has suddenly swept right back into your arms). X is excited and delighted, and enthusiastically showing it. So, as we readers well know from our shared viewpoint closer to Y, is Y himself. A LITTLE more about their shared past will be revealed in a brief scene near the beginning of A SWORD NEVER SLEEPS (if it survives the editing process).
Not to want to give offense here, but I’m going to fling your own “tunnel vision” words back at you.
My intention here was to firmly and vividly establish X as her own person in a very few words, and to hammer home my point: relationships (and the people involved in them) are rarely as simple and clear-cut as observers may think (at first look). Real people - - and realistic characters - - have a habit of resisting, defying, or just “not fitting” labels, even sexual preferences labels. I’m not writing books featuring characters that have “straight,” “gay” or “bi” (or, I suppose: “?” or “in training”) labels on their foreheads (or, heh-heh, cheap joke, anywhere else on their bodies, either). It’s the character that matters (and my characters hopefully grow and change as fictional time passes), not her sexual category. Which, after all, should be a desirable end-goal for everyone except misogynists and those whose faiths lead them to accept only one sort of sexual expression and role.
X loves the city she serves and the ways of its ruler (and thus, the court she’s a part of), and is quite comfortable with those free-spirited ways (she relates to persons as PERSONS, not handy genitalia of this or that gender or persuasion), but Y is “unfinished business” from her past.
Note also what happens to Y’s son upon sight of X, and have a look at that scene in the upcoming third book for how THAT progresses.
I quite understand your disappointment at how you interpreted that scene (or rather, the message you believe many others will take from it). You’re right, and I’m sorry about that.
Yet that’s not the only way to interpret that scene. One game editor who’d just read SWORDS turned to me at a convention and said she loved the scene, because it made her stop and say, “Whoa! Who’s THIS? No stereotype here! What’s SHE about? Thought she was a ‘sister,’ but - - is she, now?” (Said editor is lesbian, but I suppose that’s neither here nor there.)
That’s just our first glimpse of X, remember; we will see more of her (no, no, not THAT way :} Or, well, perhaps that way too . . .).
With X, I wasn’t trying to deliver a slap to any sapphic faces. I WAS trying to tell readers the message the game editor got: this isn’t going to be the fairy tale ending you’re expecting. “Your mother’s fairytale ending,” if you will, though it would be more accurate to term it a “Father and all his drinking buddies’ expected fairytale ending.” Step past the stereotypes and labels and pay attention to the characters. Of course, it then behooves me to make the characters interesting, or the reader will ask, “Pay attention why, exactly?”
I was also trying to show the difference between the professional envoy in full control of herself and using her beauty and charm as a weapon, and the real person under that veneer, startled out into the open by a delightful apparition from her past. It’s obvious from what she says that her ruler also remembered Y, and the ruler and X discussed the possibility that X might encounter him, given the country he hailed from - - but there was alos the possibility that Y would avoid appearing at court so as NOT to see X. Instead, he’s calling her name in obvious longing, which so moves her that she lets her diplomatic mask drop.
It would be wrong to assume that X is going to do this for every man, or every handsome man, or every noble, or anyone else but this particular man from her past. Again, I can see how some might interpret the scene that way, but I am not going to write books in which every darned scene is blunt and simple and clear and overstated; I WANT the lives of my characters to be complex and nuanced and everchanging. I WANTED this scene to be capable of a variety of interpretations, because then it “works” (albeit in a variety of ways) for more readers as a “happy surprise ending” element.
Yet please don’t think I’m angered with you for bringing your reaction forward, or taking the view that you did. You raise a very valid point.
Yet I want it understood that my ambiguity was deliberate, not carelessness or a mistake or the result of editorial meddling. So was the titillation in the scene; a little winking dig at fantasy books that end with the sex scene payoff, where the “guy gets the girl.” No real sex scene, and not either of the guys everyone expected might get it.
I have included several gay characters of both genders in past Realms books, but not advertised their natures because it just wasn’t part of the story (not surprising, given the formal codes TSR and Wizards use, and the sort of stories we’re telling). Nor am I likely to be doing wild female-on-female sex scenes in a published Wizards book in the future (even if I wrote said scenes, the editors would pounce - - perhaps after enjoying the read, but they’d still pounce) that will enable me to be crystal-clear and crudely blunt about telling readers, “Hey, these two are lesbians - - see?”
I HAVE drawn criticism for including overly flowery effeminate gale male speech in scenes, yet I’ve continued to do it (usually as something to be ridiculed by another character (Torm, for instance, or Semoor of the current roster of the Knights).
Yet I don’t intend that this reply be the final word on this; feel free to respond without any fear that I’m going to be irked. As I used to say back when my knees would still allow me to fence:
Have at you, Lady fair. ;}


So saith Ed. That’s be fencing as in swords, not as in enclosing his farm fields. And he means it, Zandilar: he’s not angry or exasperated in the slightest. By all means respond.


On January 20, 2008 THO said: Hello, all. I bring the latest words of Ed, this time a Realmslore reply to this query from PaulBestwick: “Hello first time posting a queation to Ed. In a thread in the Running the Realms section of these esteemed hall I posted a question about Uthmere and the Western End of the Great Dale. The most gracious THO was able to recall a series of articles penned by your good self on Uthmere and posted on the WOTC website. I have a few questions relating to the area. What is the approximate size of the three nearby settlements, Solin, Eastwatch and Lethgate? Do these places mark the furthest extent of Lord Uthlains direct influence? Is there a minor nobility in the area that owe fealty to Lord Uthlain and as such are the rulers of these small settlements?”
Ed replies:


The three settlements, plus a patrolled area of a quarter days’ ride outwards from them (mounted patrols of seven to nine “Hawk Guards,” so-named for the beak-nose, swept sallet back neckcovering shape of the helms they wear; their official title, which no one but Uth courtiers ever use, is “Trusted Lawblade”), do indeed roughly mark the extent of Lord Uthlain’s direct influence, though individuals living nearby but outside this unofficial territory can and do on occasion bring disputes and complaints to Uthmere, to see if “something can be done.” (Most “calls upon the Uth Lord” are to deal with neighbours’ feuds over boundary lines, and marauding monsters or raiding packs of beasts.)
Solin is a market town (and fishing and clam-digging port) of around 2,200 folk; Eastwatch and Lethgate are smaller, at about 1,300 each (all have recently grown greatly in population, as local peace and strengthening temples and the health care they bring, combined with an influx of persons fleeing strife elsewhere, have swelled local ranks).

Solin is ruled by its “elders,” a council of the foremost (wealthiest) dozen or so merchants, who are very much an “old boys’ network,” tempered by some local priests who head the small local temples and function as a sort of unofficial opposition. Uthmere long ago established (and continues to sponsor) a local herald, Staghorns, in Solin to serve as an observer for Lord Uthlain as well as performing the usual duties of heralds (genealogies, witnesses and retaining copies of contracts, heraldry, etc.).
Staghorns is a tall, quiet, careful retired adventurer (fighter) who is an avid (backyard) gardener and whose weekly written reports to Lord Uthlain very much resemble a broadsheet (newspaper), except that they are private (that is, read only by Uthlain and his courtiers, not “secret hush-hush”). He is supported by, and has a good working relationship with, Shieldmaster Orn Ghallow, a middling-level fighter installed by Uthmere to head the Solin garrison of sixteen Hawk Guards (they do more road patrols than policing, but Ghallow will use them as in-town lawkeepers if he sees the need).
There are constant local rumors of smuggling and “evil from Telflamm and afar” and suchlike being active in town, but neither Ghallow nor Staghorns has uncovered anything definite.

Eastwatch is ruled by Shieldlord Eskyn Raker, who is a middling-level fighter installed by Uthmere to head the Eastwatch garrison of sixteen Hawk Guards. Raker prefers to rule lightly, concentrating on patrols outside the walls and conferring behind closed doors with the local blacksmith, tavernmaster, and innkeeper (who is also the local moneylender) on all local disputes and decisions. He is married to a well-educated Uth lass of some wealth named Jalarra Preskrol, are starting a family, and COULD be considered local nobility if they ever behaved as such; they do host the grandest feasts, in the most ornate “great rooms” of their modest mansion, in Eastwatch. Yet they lack the sense of entitlement, of being “different/better” than the folk of Eastwatch, and of course lack the “generations of our ancestors have dwelt in this house on this land” thinking and self-righteousness. Eastwatch is dominated by herb-farming, mixed farming, and small-herd ranching.

Lethgate, a lumbering and mixed farming center, has a similar ruling arrangement to Eastwatch: an Uthmere-installed Shieldlord who tries to defer to prominent locals (in this case, the tavernmaster and three aging widows who own the three local sawmills and carpentry shops, which are run by their numerous and vigorous, hard-living sons) in matters of local governance. Shieldlord Eskultar Ramekhorn is an elderly retired fighter who commands the local garrison of eighteen Hawk Guards, trains a local militia of Foresters (primarily against raiding forest beasts, but also with an eye out for trouble coming north from Telflamm, whose less savoury elements have a habit of trying to hide persons kidnapped for ransom in outlying local steadings and forest huts). Ramekhorn has no wife nor children, and behaves more like (and is locally regarded as more akin to) a Black Robe (judge) than nobility.


So saith Ed, master of Realmslore, returning at last to the sort of lore reply we all enjoy. Not that he’s out of the proverbial woods yet with his official Realms writing, nor that he’s forgotten Zandilar!
love to all,


On January 20, 2008 THO said:  This just in!

Addendum from Ed: Staghorns uses a triangular banner (point downwards) of midnight black, with a pair of white antlers on it. Instead of a skull or head where they meet, there's a descending, straight vertical line of four (different from each other, of course) snowflakes.

love to all,


On January 21, 2008 THO said: Well met again, fellow scribes! I bring Ed’s latest response to Zandilar, in the matter of that contentious scene at the end of Swords of Dragonfire.
Which means, first, that I should warn once more:

Possible spoilers for Swords of Dragonfire!


Rather than quoting Zandilar’s entire last post, I shall present Ed’s post, complete with HIS quotings of Zandilar, and replies. So without further ado, heeeeere’s Ed:


Hi, Zandilar. Always a pleasure to talk Realms with you. So here I am. :}
I understand and respect your decision about buying future Realms products. I AM glad you will at least be flipping through the FRCG, having a look. NDAs prevent me from saying much about its contents, but I will venture this much: a big chunk of what I wrote would be useful to anyone playing a Realms campaign set at any time, using any rules system. Said chunk could be plucked up and plunked down into play, whenever but not wherever. (I so much want to say more, but I can’t). So please give the new stuff that flip through and look, at least.

I also quite understand and agree with you about expecting poor betrayals of lesbian and bisexual female characters because that’s what you usually see.
Pennae is bisexual, but has sex with men more than with women because she often uses sex as a weapon or tool for getting what she wants, and more men than women have things she wants to steal or exploit - - whereas she tends to have sex with women for sheer pleasure and companionship. I’m not saying she hates men, it’s just that she knows she can gain power over men with sex, and uses that. I won’t give away her fate, although it was mentioned in published Realmslore (long ago), and unless things change drastically she won’t meet it in THE SWORD NEVER SLEEPS. As the Knights are during these three books, she’s the most experienced, street-smart, and capable adventurer among them, and nothing is going to erode that strength. What I chafe over is the lack of good opportunities, given the fast action and fighting inherent in these sorts of books, of showing more sides of her character; she tends to come across as the defiant veteran with the sharp tongue, and too often, not much more.
I’m glad you like X, too, because the whole key to her career (in the profession we see her in) is her very real charisma and sunny nature. Yes, she can control her face, voice, and words as skillfully as any really top-notch diplomat, but she’s so good at being charming and at ease and er, unbuttoned because she really IS all of those things. So that “brilliant first impression” you speak of is what she excels at providing. :}
During my recent visit to Oz, I learned of the so-called “free trade” pact signed with the U.S. (up here in Canada, we foolishly got one too) and of its effect on discontinuing the old “simultaneous release or you have no Australian copyright protection” practice that was in effect back when I was doing my ELMINSTER: THE MAKING OF A MAGE publicity tour. I am as disgusted as all Australians must be at your having to wait for novels and game releases; it should still be simultaneous!
As for the “homosexual women are only gay until a man comes along and sets them straight” notion; yep, very strong in some quarters in North America, too, and even those who don’t personally believe that view often play that stance in scripting television shows and the like because they are afraid of hurting sales by arousing a puritanical backlash amongst more right-wing religious people if they don’t do so. As you say, they can titillate with the gal-on-gal kiss and then have Mr. Right (or just Mr. Sufficiently Hunky) step into the room and “rescue” the gals by having them “come to their senses now that they’ve seen a REAL man.” (I know you see things from a lesbian female vantage point, but consider for just a moment how cruel that message is to most GUYS, too: “So, Mr. Couch Potato Nerd, Watching This Show, Just Remember That You’re Not Mr. Right And Never Will Be, Or Women Would Be Throwing Themselves At You All The Time, Just Like This Character - - And They’re Not, Are They? Hmm, Loser?”
As for Myrmeen Lhal, there’s ANOTHER character I haven’t ever had the time to properly get under the skin of (er, tell an in-depth story about). And probably won’t get the chance to, now. (Online slash fiction, here I come. Oops, no time to write THAT, either.)
When writing Realms fiction and game material, we have to get things past editors, and editors are always concerned with producing the best possible product that time, wordcount, and so on will allow. “Best” as in selling, too, and that means not pissing off any segment of the buying public without darned good reasons. So if we have a lesbian couple, like Yanseldara and Vaerana, we’ll use words like “consort” to inform readers but to avoid rubbing anyone’s noses in it. (So someone who is deeply offended by anything other than traditional heterosexual roles could rationalize that away by saying, “It’s nothing sexual. It’s gotta just be part of the way that place is governed; they have two women, who rule in shifts, one sleeps while the other’s decreeing. And they’re married to the throne, really, both of them, and so they’re ‘consorts.’ Yeah, that’s it!” Works for them, doesn’t matter to the rest of us, and we can all go on using the published Realms offerings to play in our own versions of the Realms, as happily as before.)
As I said recently, in an interview in Wolf’s excellent KOBOLD QUARTERLY, we should by and large delve into the sexuality of characters only as it relates to plot, and as we’re not publishing porn, that means a lot of ignoring or glossing over sexuality: it’s not directly germane to the tales we’re telling.
I quite understand when you take the view that “as a feminist and a lesbian, I feel that you can do so without appearing to play into the stereotypes (note, I said appearing).” My point is that I can play into the stereotypes for the camouflage necessary to get it through editing and out into print in a form that we can explain away if someone REALLY takes offense (and remember, I’m talking banning an offending book from some states or store chains altogether; YES, it still happens), but that allows the rest of us to see what’s REALLY being said. I understand your irritation that such games still have to be played, in this day and age. Yet (unfortunately) they do.
However, I can directly refute this: “I can't help but wonder whether or not X's kissing the women would have been published without her kissing Y the way she did...”
My editor on the book was DELIGHTED with X, and made a point of telling me so right off the top, upon reading the first draft (which then lacked the Epilogue because the tale was unfinished, and so wasn’t ready for a wrap-up, and thus didn’t have that kiss with Y at all). She LOVED the surprise of X’s kissing the women rather than the royal personage everyone was expecting to get the first and best attention of her ardent lips (er, so to speak :}).
And that’s it from me, this time around.
I WILL discuss being more explicit with same-sex characters in future Realms fiction with the Books folks, and see if the lines have shifted. However, the answer may be “no,” or the shift may not be in a direction that pleases you. We’ll see.
I can say that a certain Book person winced visibly when a marketing person from another company, at a Book Expo American event, asked teasingly if they were ready to publish “Ed unbuttoned,” yet. :}


So saith Ed. Who assures me he’s buttoned up, as I type this.
Shocking, simply shocking, the things we discuss at Candlekeep! I’m getting so hot and bothered, I may just have to take some things off!
love to all,


On January 21, 2008 THO said: Actually, it's not really off-topic. Ed voted for PRIVILEGE when judging the World Fantasy Awards, last year, as it happens. So there is a strange roundabout, back door Ed Greenwood link.
Some great posts here, folks, and all of them have been whisked off to Ed. Who is still frantically pounding that keyboard, but starting to smile from time to time. When I asked him why, he said, "Light at end of tunnel visible again - - and I have more up my sleeves than just my arms."
Ho HO. Must personally check . . .
love to all,


On January 22, 2008 THO said: Hello again, all! This time I bring a Realmslore reply from Ed to crazedventurers, specifically this query: “Good Lady - could you explain how the Knights met Neiroon? He who lived in the Hut near the river Lis - from the Realms Atlas, (the proper one I mean, the paper one [:)).
And is this the same Neiron 'the schemer' from the OGBS who is listed as a Ranger who is not a harper and wanders the stonelands?
I am guessing not given Ed'd like of similar names to confuse us all (Astoroth etc )
Thanks, Damian”
Ed replies:


No, they’re two different people, and you’re quite correct to think I named them thus to give my players more than a moment of “Hmmm” and sending their characters to do a little more delving. Makes it all seem more real, I find.
(Oh, BTW: one of the things they discovered is that the schemer has pretended to be the hut-dweller, more than once. Why this deception, they’re not quite sure. Yet.)
As for how the Knights met Neiroon, that befell only a year or so after they first arrived in Shadowdale, when they had occasion to go to Elventree (a long story, adventure-related), and heard of him and some other interesting NPCs from interesting NPCs they met in Elventree. They decided he sounded interesting enough to meet, and did something about that. :}
That’s the short version, anyway. The in-depth recounting unfortunately involves far too many campaign subplots to properly explain here; if I got started, that’d be the end of all the writing Wizards and others are impatiently waiting for, that they’re PAYING me to do. :} Suffice it to say that the “home” Realms campaign is far more intrigue and plots upon plots and roleplaying daily life and commerce and politics and the like than it is drawing swords and hacking monsters.


So saith Ed. THE master of the Realms. As more than this particular purring temptress have remarked, down the years.


On January 22, 2008 THO said:  Hi again, all.
Damian, I can answer your maps question: Karen Wynn Fonstad (RIP) had Ed's original and very detailed maps to work with (the man could make a living as a professional cartographer; his maps are that good) to work with, so the overall maps (as opposed to the locale maps she "built" from novels written by others) are VERY close to Ed's originals. The difference is more a matter of "projection," in map parlance, than any shifting of things around (except for, as you say, the Bloodstone Lands glacier rollback shift).
As for our playing habits: we all use clipboards and make notes. Brief, occasional notes, because we all value the roleplaying (acting) over mentally "stepping out of the game" to keep records. All of us recall things from memory (more realistic, yes? In the middle of a dungeon, our characters would have to rely on their memories and perhaps a hand-drawn map, and not a failing cabinet full of notes, after all), but Andrew Dewar and Ian Hunter were the best at actually putting names, times, and other specifics onto everyone else's "We've seen this guy before, I KNOW we have" recollections. For fun, Ed wrote several trivia quizzes (to make up a hypothetical question: "You were once told who owned Tharn's Keep before the Baron. Three owners, in fact. Who was the second one, who followed the builder and first owner, and how did he gain control of the Keep? How did he lose it?") for we players to have fun with. Ian "won" all of those, hence his Lorelord title.
So saith me.

A postscript to the above: my hypothetical question was labelled as such because it wasn't part of any of those quizzes; I drafted it to illustrate the style and depth of Ed's quiz questions.
Tharn's Keep is, however, a real place (as far as any location in the wholly imaginary Realms can be said to be real, of course). It's a tiny "protect a sheep-ranching valley" keep in the foothills of the mountains that form the northern border of Amn. One of dozens of such keeps.


On January 23, 2008 THO said:  Hello again, all.
Red Walker, Steven is perhaps the staff designer most practiced in and suited for knowing or asking What Would Ed Do: of them all, he's the only one (I believe) to have visited Ed's home (and cottage, where the nudity is contagious ) , and stayed over to plan Realmslore and novels. Three times, I believe!
In other news, I just received this, from Ed:


I'm rushing to plow snow right now (bad winter storm), and don't have time for a proper reply to Zandilar, yet, but I'd just like to pass on this much, for now:
I would LOVE to read your Myrmeen Lhal writing, even if unfinished.

And re. this:

Zandilar quote:
"The novel, by the way, is by no means pornographic. There's about as much romance as you'd find in a fantasy novel series, and the sexualities of these characters come up because they have partners. This is why I'm always confused when people (as you have in your post) say things like this:

Ed quote:
As I said recently, in an interview in Wolf’s excellent KOBOLD QUARTERLY, we should by and large delve into the sexuality of characters only as it relates to plot, and as we’re not publishing porn, that means a lot of ignoring or glossing over sexuality: it’s not directly germane to the tales we’re telling.


Character A and Character B are involved with each other. The outward signs you see in the story are the fact that sometimes they exchange a kiss, or they might hold hands, or they may even refer to the other with an affectionate nick name. That's what I mean by showing a character's sexuality. You don't need to get into blow by blow sex scenes to show a character's sexuality. If A and B were opposite sex partners, the kinds of things I've mentioned wouldn't even attract a raised eyebrow! But if A and B are the same sex, then all bets are off! A and B holding hands as they walk down the street may as well be as "dirty" as a full on pornographic description of them in bed together! This hand holding and kissing could even be incidental to the story, just something that occurs naturally in the scene - a way of giving extra depth to the characters. If A were in the novel on their own, and was queer, then we'd have no way to know what their sexuality is... But not every character in every novel need be single!"

Full agreement with you here, and of course that's the extent of how I usually show sexual behaviour in my Realms books. When I said "should" in the bit you quoted, I meant WITHIN THE GUIDELINES AND CONTEXT OF WOTC-PUBLISHED REALMS BOOKS (which are aimed at a hypothetical 12-year-old American male; whether they should be or not is quite another matter), not as writers of fantasy fiction in general. In short: when writing FR books under the current editorial direction, we're here to write fantasy adventure, not porn and not dwelling on romantic elements. Or as one editor once put it to me: "Ed, cut the kissing and all the TALKING. Geez, it's been 8 pages and nobody's been killed yet! Draw those swords and carve up some monsters!"
Now, that doesn't mean anyone follows that overall guideline that narrowly. Obviously, we DO delve into romance and (gingerly, fleetingly) into sex, and the books get published. Sex and lust and longing and jealousy are basic human motivators (and, in the fantasy world, motivators for intelligent characters of other races, too), and we all use them. It's just that so as not to borrow trouble (from editors as well as readers), we don't go out of our way to including anything sexual (including the little touches you mention) unless those touches have a story purpose (to show a loving relationship, or trust, or a tender side of an otherwise Rambo-like or stoic character). My "we" was FR writers, and the "should" was to deliver what is asked of us, as writers for hire.
As for your own writing, outside the Realms, "you go, girl." If it fits YOUR story, do it. Include it. Push those horizons.
In North America there's an odd double standard: people who "misbehave" with outrageous behaviour and writing and art get roundly condemned, and banned in places
- - but they also (Paris Hilton, anyone? Britney? Michael Jackson?) get all the attention.
Hmm. Perhaps if I wore skirts and no underwear . . .
Nah. Wipe THAT mental image. :}

So saith Ed. Whee!
love to all,


On January 23, 2008 THO said:  Hello, all.
Zandilar, re. this: "It's fascinating to see the differences between what is written in the old source material, and the backgrounds as presented in the Knight of Myth Drannor series thus far."
Yes. The FR7 entries were written by an freelancer (John Nephew) using Ed's extensive notes, and have a few wrong assumptions (where John was extrapolating across "gaps" in those notes) and dating errors. More importantly, they leave a lot out because the source notes did. (Imaginary example: two countries go to war over a border, there's much bloodshed and destruction, and history books a century later describe what happened as "a small disagreement over territorial boundaries.") One of the reasons Ed wrote the trilogy was to "properly bring to life" the CHARACTERS of the Knights.
Not, I should add, an accurate blow-by-blow account of our play sessions. That would be impossible unless Wizards was willing to let Ed publish (and Ed had time to write) about a hundred full-sized hardcovers. If you think George R.R. Martin's Westara saga is complex, you've only just started to appreciate what it's like to play in Ed's campaign; it's ALL interwoven subplots, wherein we chose our own paths, not the simple linear plot of even an Ed novel (and I know many readers find Ed novels confusing, with many characters and a narrative that jumps around between them).
In short, "our" Realms was very much like real life.


On January 24, 2008 THO said: Hi again, fellow scribes. Dearest Wooly Rupert posted this, in response to a comment made by Zandilar: “Tanalasta wasn't sidestepped in the transition... She was already dead, long before the Sellplague. And while I wonder why Alusair was no longer ruling when he turned 13, we don't know why she wasn't. She did rule for 13 years, after all... Maybe she stepped aside; she certainly seems like the type that would be itching to get her backside out of the throne and into a saddle.”
That evoked a response from Ed, and here it is:


Alusair was indeed itching to get her backside out of the throne and into a saddle; VERY well put. One of the reasons I wrote “The Long Road Home” tale (that appeared at the end of THE BEST OF THE REALMS, VOLUME 2 etc. etc.) was to show that while she made a very good Steel Regent, she was restless and chafing in the role almost from the outset.
However, I cannot comment directly on the length or details of Alusair’s regency, or say much of anything about the royal ascension that followed, due to a current NDA. Read into that, of course, what you will (and I know you all will :} ).


So saith Ed. Yes, reading away enthusiastically here!


On January 24, 2008 THO said:  Hello again, everyone. I just received this message from Ed:

Zandilar, whatever you prefer. I have found your livejournal on my surfing, and can readily read it there if you’d like, or we can use the long-suffering Ham’s e-mail route, via THO. If you’re not quite ready to let my eyeballs roll over it, that’s okay. No worries; let it be at your convenience, please, so you don’t feel any pressure to rush and “get it ready” or feel you’re plunging into some sort of royal command performance. Whenever, really.

And to GoCeraf:
When I actually write Realmslore or fiction, I now prefer quiet.
Various radios (tuned to CBC 1 or 2) are on almost all the time in various rooms of the house, so my wife misses nothing as she moves around the house working, cooking, puttering, etc. We both listen to a very eclectic variety of music (though Jen prefers opera, early British jazz and skiffle a lot more than I do; she was briefly secretary of the British Jazz Federation decades ago, in the heydays of Mick Mulligan, et al, whereas I like prog rock [Genesis, ELO, Pink Floyd, Bowie] a LOT more than she does, and harder or more modern rock much, much more than she does (example: I will listen to an Arcade Fire song to hear where it goes and what they’ll do, where she will lunge to turn off “that noise”).
Late, late at night we tend to read to harp music or Gregorian chants. When sorting or bill paying or cleaning, I like to listen to Loreena McKennitt, Blackmore’s Night, and other medieval-pop, or Bonzo Dog Band or Jethro Tull or the McGarrigle Sisters or Steeleye Span or even Enya or various classical pieces (Pictures At An Exhibition, etc.)
However, when writing, I now find that I dare not listen to much of anything (in the old days, I just tried to find instrumentals so I didn’t stop writing and start listening to the lyrics), because if the music is sad, or triumphant, or melancholy, or exciting, I find my writing is hollow because my mind starts to think those emotions are pouring out onto the page . . . but when the music’s off and I read over those pages, afterwards, the feeling isn’t there and the prose feels empty.
So, no music for this writer whilst actually writing.
When I’m drawing or mapping, however, I prefer music. And I really meant it when I said “eclectic.” Today, for instance, I listened to cuts from Feist, Barenaked Ladies, the Shakespeare In Love movie soundtrack, the Kipper Family, the Doctor Who Series One and Two Soundtrack (latest BBC TV incarnation, that is), Cirque Du Soleil, Tom Waits, Paul Robeson, Garrison Keillor, Bellowhead, The Baltimore Consort, Stanley Holloway, Spamalot, Jorane, Sarah Harmer, the Lord of the Rings Return of the King movie soundtrack (anyone know if the symphony that Howard Shore condensed out of all of his soundtracks has been released on CD yet?), the Joel Plaskett Emergency, and Anonymous 4.
And while I stood in line in the bank, I heard the Brewer & Shipley song One Toke Over The Line and quite a bit of Ravel’s Bolero, too. :}


So saith Ed. Hmm, quite the audio journey, there. What Ed failed to mention is how often he sings around the house (and sings very well, too!). G & S, mostly, these days.
love to all,


On January 24, 2008 THO said: Purple Dragon Knight, I believe in this case Ed is trying to say that he can't say anything about Alusair's regency or how it ended, using the phrase "royal ascension" to coyly mention "who ascended the throne next" without actually saying anything about that "who" or the circumstances.
As for your vision of Alusair endlessly riding the realm: NDA. Oh, boy, NDA. Ed has thought along such lines more than once already.


On January 24, 2008 THO said:  Zandilar, I agree. I doubt the ranks of the godly are going up much, these days. Down, yes.
createvmind, re. this: "Hello All, Ed I was rereading 'Blackstaff' and I noticed that Khelben saves Lareal's life before she is aware she has spellfire, that made me recall a story where Elminster is babysitting them as young lasses and they battle a shadow weave user in some wild magic ruin or such, I thought they used spellfire then. Did Mystra alter her memory after that fight as a teen or am I not recalling correctly?"

I can answer this one myself. The story you refer to, "Dark Talons Forbear Thee," appeared (for the first and thus far only time) in THE BEST OF THE REALMS Volume II: The Stories of Ed Greenwood. I'm going to avoid spoilers as much as I can, but suffice it to say that Laeral used "magefire" (Ed's word) poured through her by Mystra BECAUSE SHE WAS STANDING IN "THE PLACE" (a power node) and could tap the Weave directly. She didn't know how to do it; Mystra "did it for her." So she was using the raw energy of the Weave (like spellfire), but just as "the silver fire" is just a tad different from spellfire though they're both ways of harnessing and unleashing similar raw energy flows from the Weave, this "magefire" is a LITTLE different than spellfire - - and Laeral was overwhelmed by doing so and lost consciousness, remember?
To illustrate what I mean: lightning is different from a static electricity shock, which is different yet again from touching a live electrical wire (DON'T try this, anyone!). Yet they are all the same thing: a flow of electricity. Yet their properties, how much you can control or do with them, etc. are very different.
So, no, Laeral didn't know she could use spellfire after the events of Ed's story. She "knew" that she had a hand in getting her two sisters and Uncle El in trouble, they were attacked, everyone got hurt, and Mystra acted through her. Her memories were confused (and yes, they were limited by what Mystra wanted her to remember; she was deliberately tempering and training her Chosen by this and many other incidents).
Ed and I discussed this matter months ago. I'm sending this post of mine off to him to make sure I haven't misremembered or omitted anything; he'll certainly correct me if I have and I'll post that correction here . . . but I don't THINK I've messed up this response.


On January 24, 2008 THO said: PDK, Ed can't accept any Realms movie offer, because he doesn't own or control the Realms, and I believe TSR sold off the movie rights (sold, not licensed or optioned) years ago! (Again, I'll ping him on this and post any correction here.) Yet I'm sure your offer will make him smile, and thanks for making it!
As for your young one: nursery prepared? Flashlights? Breakables away from all corners, ledges, etc. you may grab in the dark or sweep a baby that's under your arm "through"? Are you in Ontario? If so, look into starting an RESP (you put money in a fund annually, that will grow tax deductible for an eventual university education for Young Prince/Princess, and the government will match your contribution, each year, up to $400 I think [there's a cap, anyway], until they change their minds about the whole program). Cloth diapers or disposables? Blankets that can be easily washed, for warmth and covering possibly dirty surfaces to put baby down on, etc.
Oh, I could go on and on, getting farther away from the Realms all the time.
So, Realms relevance time here: babies in the Realms, once weaned off the breast, are often fed sops (torn-up bread pieces soaked in goat or sheep or cow milk so they go to mush, and then "real" sops, which is the same thing only using wine or beer, which often serves as a cold morningfeast for adult and youthful commoners, too. Only in port cities are smoked fish a prominent morning meal choice.
(Note: this Realmslore comes straight from an Ed lore-note.)
Which reminds me: Charles, Ed is ALWAYS engaged in drafting reams and reams of new Realmslore. As for the 4e Realms being "too divorced" from the setting we've been seeing up until now, I don't know and Ed (NDAs, you know) can't say. Not that it wasn't worth the try, fishing, mind you.
love to all,


On January 25, 2008 THO said: Hi again, everyone! I bring yet another Realmslore reply from Ed, this one to Question 4 of Asgetrion’s recent list of unrelated Realms queries: “Is it more typical for urban inns to have a stable and/or coach house than not? Or do they just tell you that "Ol' Tharrask's stables lie yonder, just two blocks away along the Mistride"? And, are inns typically/usually built within a "compound" (i.e. with walls surrounding the inn grounds)?”
Ed replies:


Urban inns do have stable AND coach house facilities of their own, most of the time. What they may not have is stables and a coach house directly adjacent to the inn proper; they may have staff who take mounts, coaches, wagons, and beasts of burden “around the block” to this other site, and bring them back again when guests are departing (just as some real-world urban hotels do, for example in downtown Chicago).
Directly onsite stables and coach houses (with a “yard” for loading, unloading, hitching up, and getting “parties” in order before departing) are preferred, of course, and managed whenever possible. Sometimes, however, it’s just not possible. That same comment applies to compounds: in urban areas, no matter how desirable it may be to have walls and cut down on thefts, it’s sometimes not possible. Rural inns of course avoid this expense whenever it’s not deemed necessary, but very much take refuge in at least a stout timber “stockade” of walls where it is (e.g. most of the North).
In urban Amn, Tethyr, and Calimshan, the fashion is to have the outer walls of an inn compound be composed of inn accommodations (of three to six floors), facing onto an inner courtyard, rather than just walls surrounding buildings. There are seldom ground-floor outmost-side windows or doors in such structures, and almost never any balconies on the floor above, either. Which is why the most expensive inns relegate kitchens, pantries, granaries, servants’ quarters, stables, hay-pens, coach-houses, brewhouses, laundries, tenant shops, and workshops to the outer “ring” of buildings, put in an inner ring of greenery (trees or gardens, depending on space available), and then build mansions with balconies facing the greenery for actual guest accommodations. Or, lacking space for all that, go for a soaring “castle” construction with the guests lodged above all the “stinking, working” parts of inn life.
Across the Realms, travelers will find many variations on mixing the two styles (walls around buildings, or buildings built so as to form an unbroken wall around a courtyard accessed through a gate or tunnel through a building).


So saith Ed, who (as has been said before, a time or two) thinks of everything. Really.


On January 25, 2008 THO said:  Hello again, all.
One answer from me, and one from Ed, to share with everyone:

Sage, re. your G&S query, I recall Ed most often warbling “We Sail The Ocean Blue” and “Things Are Seldom What They Seem” and “He Is An Englishman!” and even (yes!) “I’m Called Little Buttercup” from Pinafore, “A More Humane Mikado Never Did Exist” (aka “The Punishment Fit The Crime”) and “Titwillow” from Mikado, “For The Merriest Fellows Are We” from Gondoliers, “When I First Put This Uniform On” from Patience, and especially “When A Felon’s Not Engaged” and “For I Am A Pirate King” from Pirates of Penzance.

And Wooly, Ed wants you to know that “-ahast” matters are firmly under a big, bold, hearty NDA just now. And possibly for some time to come.

(Sorry. Still, take heart in speculating about just what the very existence of that NDA might mean.)


On January 25, 2008 THO said:  Hi again, all.
Zandilar, Ed just sent me this, for you:


Thank you.
A VERY enjoyable story. It's a little stark in places (converse but not enough description of faces, rooms, colours, etc.) but my only crit can be boiled down to grammar nitpicks:

“to raiseow” should be: to raise his crossbow

“too forward” rather than “out of line”

“glamored” rather than “glammered”

in the passage “wizard she had worked when” the word “with” is missing

“Nice try, my lord,” is wrong speech for educated Cormyreans (Semoor might use it). “Nicely attempted” would be better.

“So deal with it.” is also too modern in tone. “Pray embrace it.” is the sardonic Cormyrean equivalent.

“Ash had had a chance to add dimensional anchoring to the audience chamber”
This passage is WAY too “game mechanical” (as well as awkward). Why not just: “Ash had done her anchoring by then” ?
(Or: done her work by then
or: done her casting by then)

...That's it. Literally just these few tiny touches. The mysterious assailant with the crossbow, and the identity of the mage who did the dog thing, would be elements that should be explained more deeply if the tales were longer, but I like this tale very much.


And there you have it!


On January 25, 2008 THO said: Ah, but for this reader (and I'm sure for Ed, given his comments), you mastered the important thing: you made the characters come alive, they "felt right" to me (as someone who has interacted in-character with Myrmeen Lhal), and it "felt like" the Realms.
When you pull that off, everything else is just little details.


On January 28, 2008 THO said:  Hello, all!
To Charles Phipps, PDK, and createvmind, this:

Similar discussions have arisen in-character among the Knights in the past. I should mention that we customarily broke for a recess in mid playsession for green tea, potato chips, and Ed's artery-hardening chip dip (take 2 tubs of sour cream, 2 bricks of Philly cream cheese, beat together with a trace of ketchup and hot sauce and worcestershire sauce and a LOT of ground dried leeks or Knorr leek soup mix, plus Ed's secret ingredients, and . . . have a coronary, soon after. ).
Ahem. The important thing is: we talk over all sorts of things, including metagame matters. Ed has always reminded us: it doesn't matter what WE think, or our modern real-world society thinks. It matters what our characters (or various rulers, or various churches [remember, we had both PC and NPC priests to readily consult] or NPC races) IN THE REALMS think. Forget modern real-world "politically correct philosophies" and try to settle into Reams-think.
Then, from that starting point, if you want your character to strive for a take on a situation, morals of slaying intelligent critters or a specific race or creature, and so on, have your character articulate it . . . and bear the consequences.
As Henry puts it in Henry V: "Oh, Kate, Kate, we are not the slaves of fashion. We MAKE fashion" etc. etc. (I'm slightly paraphrasing the Bard here, but NOT changing his meaning, and Henry was speaking of royalty, but in the Realms it applies to royalty and adventurers. You CAN act differently and sometimes even change prevailing opinion (slowly: that is, as Ed once put it, "Opening one closed mind at a time."), but the campaign should "begin" from the tolerances and viewpoints held in the Realms. As a rule, these are broader and more tolerant in large, cosmopolitan trading centers (e.g. Waterdeep) and where rulers encourage such tolerance (e.g. Silverymoon) and narrower and less tolerant in rural areas, particularly where there's a history of strife (e.g. folk of rural eastern Aglarond won't be at all disposed to be kindly towards Thayans).

So saith me. (But echoing Ed.)
love to all,


On January 28, 2008 THO said: Hello, all. This time I bring you a brief Realmslore reply from Ed of the Greenwood to wakaman’s query: “I have not been able to buy the Shining South, and so I apologize if the answer to the following question is contained within it.
I would like to know if floating structures/ buildings exist on Toril - not on a large scale as with the Netherese mythallars, but with individual buildings. While the mythallars naturally don't exist anymore, surely there are magics that can suspend individual buildings/structures in the air? I was looking through some online information about Halruaa, and saw allusions to the existence of such magics (a picture was most convincing, as well), but have not been able to confirm this.
If they exist, where do they exist and how is this executed? without a mythallar, my theory is that one could use the Reverse Gravity/levitation/fly spells combined with a Permanency variant and some powerful transmuters. But I'm much more rooting for your expert opinions! Thanks up front, wakaman”
Ed replies:


There are many, many floating buildings on Toril, most of them ancient and ruinous, and the majority are now disguised in some way (even if it’s only inadvertent, such as overgrown in jungle growth, as in Chult) so their levitating nature may not be immediately apparent. Future magical cataclysms, either localized or wide-ranging in area of effect, may cause a given floating building to fall and crash.
In magic (even a single way of using magic such as arcane spells that draw on the Weave) there are usually multiple ways to a particular desired result. The various ways will lead to subtly different achievements, in the same way that a refusal, spoken in English, can be phrased in many different ways for differing impacts (from “Sorry, but I’m afraid not” to “X$%#$@! What $%$%&*!! What part of ‘No’ don’t you understand?”).
Most of these ways do involve, as you say, some sort of Permanency effect and some means of staying aloft in midair, such as Tenser’s floating disc, reverse gravity, levitate, or fly. Spellcasters tend to “build” their own methods according to what magics are available to them, and which spells they can successfully adapt and experiment with.
In the case of floating buildings, the spell “Trustan’s skyhand” (portions of which were later “reversed” and altered into the well-known dimensional anchor spell) is one means of fixing an object or assembly of objects at a precise location in the air. Combined with a modified reverse gravity incantation (that provides a stable set-distancing effect from the ground below) and Ortaun’s steadfast (a permanency-like effect that isn’t permanent at all, but greatly prolongs other magics, failing - - typically centuries after its casting - - when its fuel runs out, in the same manner as Phezult’s Sleep of Ages melts away gems to power itself), this was used to keep many structures aloft.
Structures treated with this combination of magics will descend a bit if the ground surface below them sinks or is dug away from some reason, and rise if the topography is built up, but the structures will “float” until their fuel is used up. It should be noted that in many instances, limited wish spells were worded so as to make most magical effects (read: most spells that try to affect the floating structure, as opposed to spells that just send a pre-existing physical missile, such as a huge boulder, crashing into the structure) be twisted by an invisible magical aura around the structure into fuel for the steadfast spell, to prolong the structure staying aloft.
In some cases, this has resulted in buildings (even fortresses) being reduced to a few planks or a door (or even doorknob!) floating upright and alone in midair, with the rest of the structure now entirely gone. Such orphaned “floaters” usually become nest sites for various birds, and have in some desperate situations been used by falling persons to save themselves from death.
Centuries ago, in the days of Ortaun and Trustan. it became very popular for wizards to dwell in floating towers of their own making, but rumors that both of those mages could somehow at will either tracelessly enter or move and control buildings to which their spells had been applied ended that popularity. The passage of much time since then has left most of the towers empty of their builders, and forgotten by most of the wider Realms; remote vales in the Sword Coast North, all around the fringes of the High Forest, are claimed by some adventurers to hide scores of such floating abodes, most of them crumbling and well hidden by trees that have grown up around them to overtop them or even thrust through them.


So saith Ed. Spinning essential Realmslore wherever he goes.
love to all,


On January 30, 2008 THO said:  Hello, all. I bring a Realmslore reply from Ed to Ergdush, as follows:

Your reading has led you to identify the right "room," all right. :}
The door is concealed and trapped thus: if Tessaril doesn't make the right gesture (dig-stroking her left palm with one of the fingers of that same hand) whilst treading on the correct step on the stair or spot on the floor when approaching that landing, the door can't be found at all. Spellcasters seeking to force or destroy it (when it's in this hidden state) by tracing its magic will discover that it reflects their spells right back at them (this is a Weave "slapback" effect, not a ward spell that can be easily undone or dispelled).
If the door is properly approached, it's still invisible unless or until Tessaril (or certain other persons who know how, or who can "see" the Weave with the right keeness, such as all Chosen of Mystra) touches its area and wills it to appear. It can be opened and used while invisible, though its presence will be readily revealed as observers "see beyond" it to areas it is accessing.
Note I said areas, plural. This is a weightless magical door, and can be opened either on its right side, or its left side, by pulling or pushing (as it if had hinges on either side); it has handles. Depending on how it is opened, one can reach any of four destinations. One is: the Hidden House (works in both directions). Another is: the back of a deep walk-in closet in a certain other structure in Eveningstar (outbound only, and I'll leave that building secret so you as a DM can have it be anywhere you want it to be). A third is: outbound only, to a particular small glade in the King's Forest, JUST west of The Way of the Dragon, about a bowshot south of Waymoot (there's a game-trail from the glade to the road, but the glade is almost always deserted, because it's very small and surrounded by boggy ground that's usually home to lots of stinging insects except in winter; literally only the game-trail itself is solid ground). A fourth is: outbound only, to somewhere on a rooftop of an old multi-storey, rental-apartments building in western Suzail (now a rather seedy district). Again, just which one I'll leave to you.
The War Wizards know of the three non-Hidden-House destinations, but only a few senior ones know of that last destination (everyone else is told the fourth way through the door is a deadly trap). The Hidden House itself has always been little-known local lore in Eveningstar, that spreads from time to time across Cormyr in the form of various wild rumors (the War Wizards spread the wildest of these so as to make Cormyreans think all talk of the House was wild fancy; they have succeeded in making your average Cormyrean distrust every detail of what's said about the House, but also in believing one of many dark conspiracy theories, and being darned sure there's SOMETHING behind all of them.


So saith Ed. Essential lore of Cormyr, laid bare at long last. Ed stresses that this is by no means "all" about even just this one way into the Hidden House.
Heh-heh, and so forth.
love to all,


On January 30, 2008 THO said:  Now, now - - if you did, they wouldn't be SECRET, now would they, silly?
Seriously: we're talking a few pinches of off-the-shelf, "normal" spices from your average North American kitchen spice rack, not anything weird or illicit. I think I espied Ed reaching for celery salt or garlic powder a time or two.
The aim is to make sure the "twist" of the ketchup can be tasted WITHOUT its sweetness being too strong.


On January 31, 2008 THO said: Hello, all. I had a chance to chat briefly on the phone with Ed last night (horrible ice storm and windstorm pounding his neck of the woods), and he indicated his responses to this, from Charles Phipps: "Hey Ed, are the Triad worshiped more like their own separate pantheon and/or as a single religion or do people tend to worship the gods separately but allied?
Also, just as a purely fun question, are Tyrites and the like more conservative regarding the bedroom than average Faeruners?"
Here's my paraphrase of Ed's reply:
Most people tend to worship the deities separately, but consider them (and their priests) as allies, and turn to such allies when in need. Some priests (of these deities) point to the common beliefs and tenets among the Triad as proof that these faiths are "right" or "more correct than others," but worship is always considered to be best done on a personal, specific basis; unless you are desperate and calling out to "whatever gods there be!" for aid, worship "counts" most when it's directed at a specific deity.
As for your purely fun question: any answer will of course be a gross generalization. Ed believes a desire for privacy (as opposed to exhibitionism or public displays of affection) will be strong, as will a tendency towards discipline (though this may in individual cases manifest as self-control of one's body rather than necessarily binding, flogging, or physically dominating others). Ed wouldn't go farther than that, saying: Human nature responds to restrictions by flouting them, so what goes on in bedchambers of rule-followers may surprise others.

So saith Ed, filtered through me.
love to all,


On February 1, 2008 THO said: Hello, all. I bring you Ed’s latest Realmslore replies, this time to two recent queries from crazedventurers: “I have been reading through the OGBS after Krash posted the answer to the ‘Spellplague Riddle’ and I have a couple of questions.
It is stated that that the Cormyte and Sembian ports as well as the Dragon Reach are frozen in during the winter; I would assume that the River Lis does the same? If so I am wondering if the ice is thick enough to allow passage from the North-western Vast to the Eastern Dales/Moonsea central via the Lis? If so has any entrepreneurial types tried to ski/sledge/walk across in order to be the first trade caravan of the new year etc? or are the conditions that bad to make travel almost impossible?
Temmi Dharimm a well known bandit has an interesting collection of monsters with him (3 dire wolves, 2 disenchanters and 6 bloodhawks). Can Ed shed some light on how he keeps them loyal? Wild talent/psionic power, or has he raised them from young and they follow him about believing him to be their mother/father? I am guessing that he must exercise some mental control over them to get them to work and be effective? Just curious, Thanks, Damian”
Ed replies:


Yes, the River Lis is frozen over, for the greater part of most winters. It’s a series of shallow brackish channels, sandbars, and marsh plants for much of its run, and can easily be traversed by lone humans (and smaller humanoids) afoot, dragging sledges or just packs behind them on lines so as to distribute the weight (mules with “snowshoes” fitted and some magical means of calming them to keep them from kicking wildly, falling, and breaking legs at the sensation of having big dinnerplate-things strapped to their feet, and slipping constantly, can also be used, kept on long reins or “lead lines” to keep them from wandering, but horses and suchlike are usually too heavy; plate armor should be doffed and dragged, not worn).
However, this works for intrepid peddlers and small bands of adventurers, NOT for caravans. The problem is that the eastern bank of the Lis is treacherous brackish (to freshwater, as one moves farther east) swamp with lots of decay and therefore “marsh gas” bubbling up (heat due to vegetative rotting), and there are many places in that swamp that either don’t freeze over, or that freeze over with very thin “crackle ice” that won’t support anything heavier than a bunny or large carrion bird).
So a caravan would get bogged down in that trackless swampland, and swooped upon by hungry winter predators of all sorts (wyverns and peryton, for example). A walker controlling a Tenser’s Floating Disc would have no problem, but assembling and persuading a group of wizards to do anything so dangerous as a caravan stroll in severe winter weather is harder than it sounds. Some winters they could make big coin carrying the right goods, yes, so it might be worth doing.

Yes, Temmi does indeed have a “wild talent” that allows for ongoing mental communication (and domination, akin in force to “suggestion” spells) with other creatures. He has reared (and nursed, when injured) most of the creatures who “stick with him,” and deep trust and friendships have developed, so they form a team with mutual loyalty. It’s probably best to view Temmi as the “leader of the pack.”

Great questions, Damian! Perfect in scope for this thread.


So saith Ed, and I echo him re. the scope of the queries. Sometimes Ed gets asked stuff that is so broad that it really requires a official written and designed WotC FR product to answer properly; these are “just right.”


On February 2, 2008 THO said: Hello again, all. This time I bring a brief Ed Realmslore response to scribe Asgetrion, who queried back at the beginning of January: “Can you give any details about heraldry in Sunset Vale? I was mainly thinking of Berdusk and Hill's Edge, but this prompts me also to ask whether small villages in the Realms use any sort of "badges" or "runes" or actual heraldry (i.e. Volo's Guide to the Sword Coast includes a drawing two swords on a shield, which seems to indicate that it is the Arms of Drawn Swords)?. What about the "First Folk" ("nobility") in Berdusk -- do they have family Coats-of-Arms and would they prefer more "eloquent" heraldry or badges to more practical ones?
Are the Coats-of-Arms presented in 'Power of Faerûn' just meant to be "flavour art" or are they "actual" heraldic devices in the Realms?”
Ed replies:


Both Berdusk and Hill’s Edge have their own coats of arms AND simplified badges derived from them; the former can be seen in the stone arches above city gates, and the latter on the breasts of surcoats worn by the gate guards and soldiery over their armor, and by envoys sent abroad by those cities.
I can’t readily find my heraldry file right now (it got moved months ago when I had to hastily find some of my drawings and send them off to certain designers), so I’m afraid I’ll have to provide details of the actual arms later.
Villages only tend to have blazons if they have a local “lord” (self-styled nobility or part of the nobles of a larger country); his or her arms are often simplified into a badge for use on gates, guards’ uniforms, the livery of his own servants, and way-markers. However, many inns have simplified badges (used on signposts and hung out over the street as a “beckoning board”), and these can be confused for heraldry of the village they happen to be situated in (that’s the Drawn Swords situation). Sometimes, long after the inn has burned down or otherwise disappeared, locals “adopt” such symbols and go right on using them, yes.
Berdusk’s nobility do indeed have both full, elaborate blazons and simplified badges (details to follow - - including Caunter, Kuje and Rinonalyrna Fathomlin! - - when I can track down my file), and yes, the blazons in POWER OF FAERUN are indeed “actual Faerûnian heraldry.”
To whit:

p63 depicts a badge (simplified blazon) used by the city of Iriaebor (and by certain folk elsewhere who claim descent from a former lord of that city, and thus “rightful” rule over the city, though most of them have never been near the place).

P67 is a badge recently used by the Forgehard trading coster (a dwarf-owned and dominantly staffed organization), based in Citadel Adbar, but it was formerly (and is far better known as) the badge of the city of Mirabar. It is sometimes confused with the rather similar “new” badge of the Iron Throne merchant consortium (which adds a face-on throne, cupping the flame, in place of the anvil, but is otherwise essentially the same).

P69 is the badge of the city of Zazesspur in Tethyr (it actually depicts Stormdagger Keep, the fortified in-city home of the ruling Hhune ducal family, but is NOT used by the Duke of Kamlann or his family).

P70 is the badge of Anstel Reddragon, a self-styled merchant prince and former adventurer. It was once the badge of the now-defunct adventuring band of whom he was a part, the Red Dragons of Elturel, but they are all dead except Reddragon (some say he was responsible for the deaths of his last five fellow Red Dragons), and is now being used as the badge of the RedSerpent House trading coster, owned and run by Reddragon, and based in Iriaebor (with branch offices in Athkatla, Baldur’s Gate, and Ilipur. Reddragon is a keen-witted, energetic and forceful, utterly unscrupulous man who’s (correctly) rumored to be involved in any amount of deadly and illegal dealings.
The scroll at the bottom, by the way, displays the motto: “No Fear No Failure” when used by Reddragon personally (and when it was owned by the Red Dragons, too), but RedSerpent House replaced those words with: “Coins Our Swords.”

P73 is the badge AND personal family arms of the “merchant princess” Elpharanla Evenstag of Silverymoon, a dealer in fitted clothes, textiles, and fine undergarments (lingerie) whose network of buyers and sellers works on a personal basis rather than trading in bulk as most costers and priakos traders do (and so reach out across most of the Sword Coast North and Western Heartlands). The Evenstags are a half-elven family into which both humans and elves have married, frequently, and are known for musical talents and tastes, being “fashionable” in dress, and for making a LOT of money in urban property investments (we would call them “land flips”) in Waterdeep, Neverwinter, Silverymoon, and Mirabar. Elpharanla is a friend of Alustriel, attends most of her revels, and is always interested in sponsoring new ventures, investing in innovations and new styles, and in aiding fellow Harpers.

P75 is the “new” badge of the Seven Suns trading coster (described on p76 of POWER OF FAERUN), replacing a rather confusing “cluster of seven suns” badge.

P76 is the badge of the Trail Lords trading coster (described on the same page).

P79 is a former badge of the city of Calimport in Calimshan, which reflects the former dominance of the faith of Bhaelros (Talos) in that city. It appears on that page of POWER OF FAERUN because temples in Calimport minted thousands upon thousands of gold and silver trading coins in times past, so the badge can be found stamped on the obverse of many coins still in circulation, particularly in western and southern Faerûn. This badge has often been “borrowed” by various temples of Talos and adventuring bands hired by priests of Talos to act as “the fury of the Divine Storm” upon foes of the faith.

P87 is the badge (simplified arms) of the Hawklin noble family of Cormyr.They were ennobled relatively recently, and their arms reflect the most important founding bloodlines of the family: the Greenshaws and Telwinter clans of Immersea and Wheloon (the green and white colors); the Hawklar (the hawk in flight); the Nelyn (whose badge was the vulture, wherefore the hooked beak of the hawk), both of Suzail; and the Arntrees of Arabel (the bough).

P110 depicts Court Herald Touchstar of Cormyr, based in Suzail (and shows her badge, worn as a literal shield [buckler] oversized cloak-pin). The “ancient enemy of the crown” she’s pointing at is a skeletal warrior who was in life Teldeth Turcassan, a noble of Cormyr. Teldeth bears the manslayer badge of the Turcassans on his surcoat. The “manslayer” is, or was, an evil, many-snake-headed, man-eating, griffon-bodied breed of beast that an early Turcassan claims to have slain the largest of, while adventuring in the wilderlands east of Tethyr, centuries ago. (It is a real monster, but is now very rare; so much so that many sages believe it to be extinct.)

There! Back to frantically scribbling new Realmslore!


So saith Ed. Whooo, meaty new Realmslore here for everyone! Ed warns that the Heralds exist precisely because so much “borrowing” of heraldic devices goes on, and some of these badges may appear elsewhere, used by others to represent other things. (So a different identification given elsewhere by someone else might not really be a contradiction.) Enjoy!
love to all,


on February 4, 2008 THO said:-  Hello again, all.
I bring Realmslore replies from Ed of the Greenwood yet again, this time to Asgetrion’s questions: “Does 'farrier' -- as a profession -- exist in the Realms? Or do blacksmiths take care of shoeing your horse? Also, is it possible to buy tack/saddlery/harness/supplies and have your horse shoed at a stable, rather than buy these services/stuff from a leatherworker, blacksmith or tack-and-harness shop?
Is it typical to build houses/buildings on bridges in the Realms? This question was prompted by the computer game 'Baldur's Gate 2' (which featured Athkatla) and I've also seen pictures of (the 17th Century?) Paris with bridges being crammed with tall houses.”
Ed replies:


Yes, there are farriers, in most large cities, though most of them tend to call themselves something along the lines of “mount and hoof smith” rather than actually using the term “farrier.” They usually do special horseshoes and horse armor (barding) and leg-splints as well as just horseshoes.
In most villages and smaller centers, blacksmiths shoe your horse, and modify the shoes they’ve made as best they can for any “special” work. A busy market town will have two or three smiths, most of them specializing (locks or hinges and hasps, cooper-work and basic armor, or decorative plates with chased or graven lettering - - with all of them doing basic ironmongery and shoeing as daily “stew and loaf coin” (we would say “bread and butter money”).
Small stables for visitors to cities will only sell tack and harness left with them in trade or to pay debts, and will arrange to “call in” a smith to shoe a mount too injured to be taken to the smith. Large inns in cities will have a smith on staff (expect to pay dearly for his services, with the inn taking most of the cut), as will large “common stables” serving most city folk.
Small stables in backwater places may have nothing but horse, tack, and wagon storage - - but if the place is on a trade-road, there will be a smith (and wagon repair man, and tack-and-harness sellers) locally available, and they will be either near the stables or working with the stables or used to being called to the stables. So, yes, one way or another, you can purchase equipage, and get shoeing done, at most stables.
As for houses and other buildings on bridges: except for guard-huts, tollbooths, and other civic structures, it’s rare in the Realms to have bridges lined with buildings, not “typical.” That’s merely custom, that’s arisen from congestion and fire concerns (and in some locales, from smuggling problems and the habit of some residents of disposing of bodies out the “privy chutes” into the water below - - to say nothing of pollution; downstream stink within the same city isn’t ALWAYS ignored or just “put up with” in the Realms. Bridges in the Realms (except tiny, within-a-palace ones) are NEVER completely built-over, so that passage over the bridge means going from one building to the next, without any “public outside area” to travel in.
However, particularly in Calimshan, the Tashalar, and certain Sword Coast ports, there are indeed buildings on bridges. Not always an unbroken line of private dwellings, but more often a festhall, grand inn, or place of revelry and gambling (where locals drink and make business deals, and everyone else comes to enjoy the fun).
So buildings on bridges are by no means unknown, but they’re NOT typical. For one thing, it forces the bridge builders to erect a much stronger structure, adds to drainage problems, and often creates difficulties over access and civic control of a bridge, if one tenant is difficult or keeps dangerous pets or just locks everything up regularly or tries to conduct a business that involves a lot of goods arriving, departing, and being stacked up all over the place.


So saith Ed, Everliving Master of Realmslore. Not to mention a man who has worked on fixing rustic Ontario bridges AND on adjusting harness in his time.
love to all,


On February 6, 2008 THO said:- Hi, all. A very brief answer from Ed this time, re. this from Blueblade: "Hi. Ed, will The Sword Never Sleeps tell us anything more about the Chosen? Or are they "out of the story"?
Ed replies:


Yes, and: Largely. Respectively.
I'd love to be more specific, but dare not be, else my long-suffering editrix would be perfectly justified (er, make that MORE perfectly justified) in rushing up to my farmhouse in Canada and killing me. Painfully.


So saith Ed. Well, that seems clear enough.
love to all,


On February 7, 2008 THO said:-  Hi again, all. I bring Ed's latest replies, this time to Baleful Avatar:


Oh, yes, I remember that GenCon adventure very well. Her "jumping up out of the apples" move was a masterwork, although I'm sure she didn't intend that all of the villains would trip and fall on all the rolling apples for the instant she needed to get across the room and plunge her knife in. Well played, anyway.
And yes, I DID put on a dress and sing falsetto. I'm afraid those days are over (except up at my cottage), because buying and packing dresses my size is just too much of a hassle. :}
As for Mirt: as of right now, his fate remains unknown. Sorry.
Re. the Fireworks option: yes, it existed, and has lapsed (Fireworks was then owned by Canwest Global, a large Canadian television network, but was sold in the midst of their option-holding period, so [I believe] Plans Changed). As for the current existence or condition of any Realms TV projects or licences, I honestly have no idea. SOMEONE still holds the rights, but I have no idea if it's just Hasbro in the wake of the reversion, or if an IP-shopping-firm has "parked" them in its stable to see if any interest arises.
BTW: I have heard there is talk "out there" among gamers that Wizards have paid me some huge amount of money or other to "say nice things about the 4e Realms."
This is NOT true (though, if WotC brass read this and WANT to bury me in huge amounts of money, they should by all means feel free to do so. I LIKE being buried in huge amounts of money!). I have said nice things about the 4e Realms when I have been impressed by what I've seen of the future, not-yet-published design work. Truth.


So saith Ed. Who is busily writing future Realms stuff himself, I suspect.
love to all,


On February 10, 2008 THO said:-  Hello again, all. Re. A Publishing Lackey's question: "Dear Ed and THO,
I'm trying to settle a question from a foreign book rep who is quite possibly confused because of transliteration (re. foreign-language translations of Ed's books).
Have any of Ed's Realms novels ever had "official" alternate/variant titles? (Not subtitles.)
Thank you."
Ed replies:


So far as I know, the answer to that is: no. Not enough to confuse anything or have one title mistaken for another. Again, so far as I know. (My books have been translated into well over two dozen languages down the years, and I can't even begin to read most of them.) One of my players, Andrew Dewar, once reported to me (from Japan, where he was living) that the Japanese ads for the launch of the Realms, way back when, translated as: "Forgotten Realms: Naked Women With Swords!"
So the problem you allude to is QUITE possible.


So saith Ed. Who could probably say much more.
love to all,


On February 10, 2008 THO said:- Hi again, all. This just arrived from Ed, in response to Hoondatha’s query: “Got a sort of open-ended query (sorry) for Ed. Partially inspired by Mark Sehenstedt's Vil Adanrath (with some Black Wolf thrown in for good measure), my group's thinking of doing an all-lycanthrope campaign, with the idea being that an infected werewolf learned control from the lythari and returned to Faerun to find other lycanthropes and help them the way he was.
We tossed around the "how" for awhile, and finally came up with a travelling circus/minstrel group like you talked about last year, where everyone is secretly a lycanthrope. That would give them an excuse to wander, and it would be easier to talk new lycanthropes into joining the circus than, "Yes, come join this ragged pack that runs along the borders of civilisation."
My question is two-fold. First, how big, on average, are medium and large-sized troops of performers? We're thinking of making it a mixed troop, but at this point we're open to other ideas. The campaign will be starting somewhere along the northern shore of the Sea of Fallen Stars in the mid-1360's, if that makes a difference, though we may well be travelling all over the map.
Second, we were also thinking about adding the Harpers to this (because it wasn't complicated enough already). So, what use would they have for a travelling troop of performers of middling and increasing popularity that's already wandering all over? Obviously, carrying messages and smuggling things/people into/out of hot zones both come to mind, but I'm curious for more. Also, how would it differ if they were just Harper friends, as opposed to most of them being actual members?
Many thanks for everything you've done here at the Keep.”
Ed replies:


Well met again, Hoondatha! You’re very welcome, and the campaign idea sounds dandy. I’d say a medium-sized troupe of performers would be some sixty to eighty people (some of them bouncers and coin-takers and makeup folk, who go onstage only fleetingly, to provide “costumed crowds” for “allbeholdings” [=tableau] and other spectacles), and a large troupe would be more than eighty on up, topping out at around 140 max. The “low ends” of these numbers would be far more numerous (with most troupes in the mid-40s in total strength, with larger ones in the mid-60s).
Aside from the obvious acrobatic, acting, and allbeholding “acts,” attractions usually include nude wrestling (both genders, but against those of same gender), monster-taming acts, jesters, jugglers, fortune tellers, and sellers of confections and “luck pieces” who tell amusing or scary tales, and the like).
As for Harper uses in addition to those you’ve already thought of: everyday advice as to who and what to watch out for (fortune teller passes this on as part of her spiel), dispensing medicines, poison antidotes, daggers, help in disguises and providing “doubles,” teams of “take care of your nasty little troubles for you” if you are poor or weak or alone and are facing a wealthier or more numerous foe who has advantages over you (your guildmaster, perhaps, or the head of the local Watch); the team “set things to rights.” This will make it popular with local downtrodden everywhere. (Also: the troupe checks coins for value and authenticity, does a sort of “Antiques Roadshow” service for owned items, tells questioners who is the expert on this matter or the best priest for that (and where to find them, sometimes even furnishing letters of invitation or passwords), and examines contracts and agreements to explain them fully to the illiterate or just bewildered.) Obviously, Harper friends will tend to stick to the less adventurous and more legal services, whilst “real” Harpers will tend to be more active or violent or actually striking out against corrupt authority.
I hope this bare start is some help to you.


So saith Ed. Who smilingly remembers you from the con in Ann Arbor, and hopes you can find SOMETHING that excites and inspires in the 4e Realms (even if you just peek at new tomes owned by others).
On February 11, 2008 THO said:-  Hello, all. I bring a variety of Ed answers this time, to several queries from as many scribes.
First, to this from Purple Dragon Knight: “When you mention poor, overworked Ed chained to his keyboard....What is said keyboard attached to? As in what does he currently do his writing on? Typewriter, Word Processor, PC? Thank you Milady!”
Ed replies:


I write on a variety of Mac computers, thanks to TSR sending me a Mac II way back when (it was my “advance” for writing SPELLFIRE, though it arrived too late for me toactually write that novel on).
I vastly prefer writing in Word 5.1a for the Mac, but that program won’t run on Mac OS versions newer than a certain flavour of OS 9, and Wizards is using far more modern versions of Word that I sometimes sigh and surrender to, for certain projects (it’s hard to edit when you can’t even tell editorial comments or tracking is there, let alone READ what’s been done).


That leads rather logically into this query, from maransreth: “When the Grey Box was released communication and technology is a LOT different to what it is today. How has the changes in technology and communication affected the way you work? For example in the "olden days" letters and long communique was the norm. Now virtually nothing is sent by snail mail unless required.
Do you still send information to Wizards and other publishers by paper, or do you send them through email? Just curious.”
Ed replies:


Maps, illustrations, and diagrams usually still get sent as hard copy, usually via FedEx (and some of my other book publishers still deal in physical copies only, couriered back and forth because mail just takes too long or gets lost too often), because faxes are usually far too poor in quality to be used. However, sometimes I can send scans [though I recently encountered some horrible photo scanning software for my wife’s all-in-one scanner/coper/printer that warned me that if tried to scan an 8.5 x 11 –inch piece of paper at the highest resolution, in colour, the file would be 42 TERABYTES in size; my old Agfa Mac scanner can do the same thing and just touch 1 MB!]. All text files now shoot back and forth via e-mail attachments, though sometimes galley proofs still show up in physical form.
And on one memorable occasion, I hand delivered a MS to a publisher, and got kisses and lunch with my editrix as a reward. :}


So saith Ed. Who has also sent along an answer to this question from Sage of Stars: “Hello. I was wondering if Ed was ready yet to give us the slightest hint as to what Realms novels he might be writing (or thinking of writing) after the Knights trilogy is finished. If it's premature, I quite understand, but am more than willing to accept hints, broad or otherwise . . .”
Ed replies:


I’m sorry, but NOTHING has yet been firmly decided, so professional ethics and NDAs prevent me from saying anything. As I know, being in the field, you’ll understand. Hint: I would love to write many, many more Realms stories, and have a lot of untold tales I’d love to tell, but am intensely interested in the future, not just the past. There; cryptic enough for you? :}


So saith Ed. Who still has energy enough to respond to this, from GoCeraf: “Mr. Greenwood, I hear a lot about the games that you run, but I've been wondering if you also enjoy rolling up a PC and letting someone else provide expository. If so, what sort of character do you like to play? In addition, do you enjoy games that take place in settings other than Forgotten Realms, and if you do, which ones?
Oh, and THO, same question if you have the time.”
Ed replies:


I do indeed enjoy playing PCs rather than just DMing. Character class doesn’t matter much to me (other than cases where I haven’t mastered details of character powers or prestige class details, particularly where I think a DM will key an adventure to my use of them; I hate “not knowing my character”). What does matter to me is opportunities to roleplay; that is, meaty acting details and the chance to use them. Winning has never mattered to me in any game play, but I heartily dislike DMs who enjoy killing off PCs, particularly for no good reason. As for settings, my favourites include Call of Cthulhu, Metamorphosis Alpha, and Paranoia. I am not a fan of other “grim” settings, like Shadowrun, unless the GM crafts a scenario that allows PC hope and achievement.


And here’s MY reply to the same question:
I enjoy all settings except urban grit, and all character classes, especially bards and wizards (in a use-copious-magic scenario). The flirtatiousness I display here at the Keep is something I like to put into my PCs, too (unless I’m playing with folks it will upset). So, purr, the lady in your lap at the gaming table is apt to be me . . .


Ahem. That’s all for now, folks!
love to all,


On February 11, 2008 THO said:-  Hello, all.
Wooly, Ed has come through; there's an e-mail wending its way to you now.

lordhobie, there are LOTS of local "bugaboos," plus faith-related ones. Ed will furnish you with a proper lore reply in the fullness of time, but I can recall The Haunted Helm (empty, floating/flying helm) in Cormyr, and the ghost of a dead local ruler, the Baron of Blacksaddle, in the Border Kingdoms (see p 134 and 135 of POWER OF FAERUN).

love to all,


On February 14, 2008 THO said:-  Hello again, all. This time I bring a lightning-swift Realmslore reply from Ed to crazedventurers.
I would like to remind all scribes, particularly the newcomers here, that Ed DOESN’T play favourites when he’s answering queries; how long it takes him to answer is usually governed by the topic being asked about (some of the questions still outstanding from 2004 are still under NDAs from back then, and others are on topics that Ed knows someone else will cover in novels that still haven’t been released yet, just to name two factors). Sometimes, as is the case here, a question will be asked about something Ed has just worked on or looked up for himself or our “home” campaign or someone asking privately (such as another gamer or a Wizards staff designer or even someone preparing a present for a friend or lover).
Damian asked this: “Hello Ed and THO, I have another Cormyr question:
Where would a well heeled young officer of the Purple Dragons get his uniform from? Are there tailors that provide bespoke regulation army uniform for 'work' and also dress uniforms for social occasions? (similar to Gieves and Hawkes etc).

Would dress uniforms differ markedly from the standard 'every day' uniform? Also any conventions or etiquette on what to wear and how at social functions when attending as a military officer? (i.e. would a 'dress sword' be acceptable? full uniform of just a small insignia?)

As an aside, do Dragon Officers have much of a social life? either publically or internally within the unit/garrison? Am wondering if they are 'out on show at all' to the general public and important Nobles/Merchants to show the positive side of the Dragons/recruitment/networking etc, in other words do the Court encourage this? Thanks, Damian”

Ed replies:


After several regrettable incidents in the past century involving mischief spells cast on uniforms and even impostors, the Royal Court (in practice, an office in the Royal Court building known as “the Royal Robes” run by the Master of Vestments) issues “Crown badges” (what a real-world British person would call a “Royal Warrant”) to approved royal tailors. There are some twenty-six “badged” “robers" (which really means six busy firms that make uniforms, and fourteen individual tailors, often semi-retired but very skilled elderly men and women). They know exactly how to make all uniforms (approved cloth and dyes, the “proper” methods of altering a uniform garment, what they are allowed to do and not to do, and so on). Both Arabel and Marsember have a firm and two tailors, there’s a tailor in Waymoot and another in Immersea, and everyone else is in Suzail.
Aside from the badged robers, every large military base (that is, High Horn and the bases in the three cities) have tailors who store, clean, alter, and repair uniforms [and keep a stock of “emergency” uniforms in various sizes], and the Royal Palace (please note that the Palace is a building separate from, and to the north of, the Royal Court) has its own staff tailors, who work with the staff herald, and maintain uniforms for the royal family and courtiers (including, stored in a vault, the uniforms of past royalty). Anyone joining the service and attaining a higher rank within it is given one fitted-to-them uniform by the Crown, free. Maintaining it, replacing it if damaged, or augmenting it with duplicates so cleaning and repairs can be delayed is the financial responsibility of the wearer. (Note: it is the established custom in Azoun IV’s reign and the Steel Regency for Obarskyrs to personally pay for uniform replacements, repairs, and alterations for loyal warriors who suffered fashion damage in battle, or while defending the realm in any way. This has included artificial limbs, canes, and crutches.)
It should be noted that robers aren’t responsible for determining if clients are allowed to wear any uniforms they order made, though they customarily report to the nearest War Wizard or passing courtier anything suspicious (such as uniforms made without anyone ever appearing for a fitting, or large numbers of uniforms made for private clients). Robers will check with heralds to make sure “household uniforms” (livery worn by the servants and bodyguards of nobles) are of approved design; nobles are limited by the heralds in what colors and tailoring they can inflict on their people (just as the Crown restricts them from assembling private armies).
Someone entering the Palace or a Court function will of necessity pass scrutiny by War Wizards, Highknights, and some senior Purple Dragons (whose onlooking may not be open or obvious); if they become suspicious, the person will be gently drawn aside and examined to make sure he or she is wearing a uniform they are entitled to (including rank insignia, decorations, weapons, heraldic badges and honours, etc.).
In Suzail, the tailors rarely advertise, because they are all overworked anyway. However, the two most prominent firms (who both have shops on the south side of the Promenade, facing the sprawling Royal Court, with large display windows crammed with displayed finished uniforms on mannequins, and keep substantial “rack ready” stores of uniforms in most popular sizes) are Harleer’s and Baerennim’s. Hrasto Harleer is a small, long-nosed, sarcastic little man whose tongue is sharp to everyone and who hates dirty and torn uniforms and those who let them become that way; his shop is east of Baerennim’s. Rusklan Baerennim is a jovial, burly retired Purple Dragon who employs long-limbed, beautiful “highcoin lasses” as fitters and shop help because HE likes them (and wants them to make customers feel very, very wanted, too). His aging sisters do most of the tailoring, and are apt to be slower than Harleer’s no-nonsense staff of skilled but frumpy middle-aged tailors. Baerennim likes to tell war stories and hear them, and wants you to feel like a friend; Harleer wants you in and out and to feel inferior to his skill and the standards of his busy, busy establishment.

Purple Dragons have armor, “warcoats” (which we real-world folk would call both “battledress” and “everyday fatigues” depending on where we saw it worn), and “fancycoats” (full-dress uniform). In general, fancycoats is just a clean version of warcoats, with shiny black boots and a colorful sash (denoting unit and service, and displaying decorations) plus a half-cloak (for evening or outdoor wear). Half-cloaks, by the way, are of shimreen or silk or similar “shiny” fabric, and are raked from a baldric-like base band of fabric, so that their scalloped, draped trailing edge forms a diagonal down the back of the wearer, from shoulder to hip (so as not to get in the way of a sword scabbarded at the hip).
At Court functions and “official” revels, uniform wear is expected (though officers hosting an event, or who have ANOTHER job or task, may instead choose to dress for that other “hat”). At private revels, merely a sash or cloak-pin with the Purple Dragon of Cormyr badge is expected (not required). Dress swords are worn at Court functions and official revels, but not at private revels except by permission of the Crown (the rule is intended to be this: if any Obarskyr is attending an event “unofficially,” just to have fun, you should not wear a sword into their presence [daggers and belt knives are usually okay for everyone] unless you are their bodyguard, BUT you can seek, and they can give you, permission to come armed, particularly if you might be in danger travelling to or from the event [Highknights, War Wizards, and other undercover agents would also be armed, but their arms would be hidden]).

Officers among the Dragons do indeed have social lives, though it varies with the person, of course. Friendships within garrisons are encouraged, romances DIScouraged (and with War Wizards mind-reading without warning, often, this is something that can be effectively policed). If a friendship seems likely to lead to corruption, or a romance blossom, one or both of the persons involved is simply reassigned to another location. They are indeed put 'out on show' (sometimes as sly information-gatherers, but more often to bolster public support for the troops, especially in Arabel and Marsember, by letting everyone see they are “decent sorts” and to foster friendships between Dragons and civilians) if their personalities won’t make doing so PR disasters. Often officers doing so get covertly watched from afar by War Wizards using spells, Highknights, and so on to see what they can learn about local intrigues and fads and opinions, and to make sure their officers aren’t getting corrupted (note: I don’t mean they will stop an officer hopping into bed with a citizen, even if it’s someone married to someone else, or having a shady past, or being a professional “bedchamber worker,” or even a known agent for a crime cabal or foreign interest; rather, I’m speaking of corruption not in the moral sense, but in the “betraying your country” sense). In short, the Court (Azoun and Filfaeril, and now Filfaeril and Alusair, and throughout on a daily, effective basis, moreso Vangerdahast and Laspeera and now Caladnei and Laspeera) do know of, and quietly encourage, this practice.

And Damian, you’re very welcome. This is something I should have been far more specific about in print, long ago. As you can tell, my notes were near at hand when your question was relayed to me by the lovely THO (I’m afraid I’m not at liberty to explain just why, yet).


So saith Ed. More essential Realmslore! Wheee!
love to all,


On February 16, 2008 THO said:- Hello again, all. I come bearing another Realmslore reply from Ed, this one a response to Asgetrion’s query: “Another "city" question: why do some cities have suspiciously lot of "empty" space in the center of the city blocks? In comparison to Waterdeep (especially the Dock Ward) there seems to be a lot of "wasted" building space in some cities. Is there a purpose to it, or is it due to TSR/WoTC cartographers "leaving" buildings out? Or are there "smaller" buildings that are just not shown on the map (e.g. wellhouses, outhouses) or left for parks/gardens? Or are they meant as "courtyards" or "inner yards"?”
Ed replies:


A very good question, this. Here’s what’s in those “empty” spaces in the center of city blocks:
1. Muddy ground, reached by alleyways and used for tying up horses, keeping chickens, growing vegetables (especially the sort that have vines that can be trained up the backs of buildings on poles and pipes), parking coaches, dumping garbage, and assembling and loading or unloading coaches, carts, and other conveyances.
2. Trees and sometimes “proper gardens” (some cartographers have shown them, others have not).
3. Midden piles, cesspits, and outhouses (typically, tiny sheds aren’t shown on maps, to reduce visual confusion).
4. Wells and wellhouses (see above).
5. Formal courtyards (these are rare, except in Calimshan and the Tashalar).
6. Wrecked or “permanently parked” coaches and the like, often used for storage or inhabited by the poorest folk who dodge paying taxes. These haven’t been shown on maps because they are (nominally) mobile, and so, not “buildings.” Most cities don’t tax parked conveyances, and it’s typically very hard to tell if a particular coach is in use for hauling or not; some that are, are in terrible shape, and to avoid “haulaway” thefts, most coach owners remove one or more wheels from parked conveyances (substituting hard-to-remove-without-getting-crushed props), and take them indoors (so anyone wanting to steal a coach is going to have to take the time necessaru to fit it with wheels of the right size).
Elements 1 and 6 are very common, and most open areas inside city blocks will have also have 3 or 4 (or both!). In wealthy neighborhoods, 2 and 5 replace 1,3, and 6, and shared paddocks for the horses of guests may also be found.
Dock Ward is a long-used, often very overcrowded, “working” neighbourhood of poor folk, so all of its open ground has been built on (except open ground that’s forcibly defended by a guild or business owner, such as a shipyard) over the years.


So saith Ed. Whom I recall explaining all this to a TSR mapper (Dave Sutherland, now unfortunately deceased) at an early GenCon. Yet it’s a very good question, because I don’t think the explanation every properly made it into print in any official Realms product, anywhere.
love to all,


On February 16, 2008 THO said:- Aureus, I've forwarded your query to Ed (along with all other recent scribes' questions), but I can venture a LITTLE lore on this: most of the easily-obtainable gem wealth of Cormyr comes from the Crystal Grot (controlled by the royal family), which is covered in VOLO'S GUIDE TO CORMYR, and there are gold mines under High Horn and under certain names-kept-officially-secret western peaks (with panning in a few surface streams in those same peaks), as well as iron and copper mines in many places about the realm. (This lore comes from playing in Ed's "home" campaign.)


On February 17, 2008 THO said:-  Hmm. I sent these last few posts to Ed, and he replied:

Wow, some scribes have magically-enhanced antennae. Please advise all that the Crystal Grot just disappeared behind a bright, shiny new NDA. "Just" as in: last week.
[dramatic organ chords] They're everywhere! They're everywhere!


Heh. So saith Ed. VERY interesting, yes?
love to all,


On February 18, 2008 THO said:- Hello, all. A brief Realmslore snippet from Ed this time, in response to this brief query from arry: “A quick question for Ed. Do roads in 'civilised' areas have route markers/distance stones. (Not milestones as miles aren't used in the Realms.)”
Ed replies:


Route markers, yes, especially in swamp, forest, or “rolling open field” areas, where travelers in the dark, driving rain, fog, or deep snow could well blunder off the proper route. These usually take the form of stone cairns, often with a distinctive shape so they can be given names that even someone unfamiliar to the route can recognize: “Just past the Wolfhead, ’tis; the first little stream. If you can look up from the streambed and see Two Horns Cairn, you’re in the SECOND stream, and have overshot the first by a good quarter-day’s rumble.”
They may have directional arrows or information (“’Ware Bog Ahead” or “Inn, Third Hill On”) scorched onto them with a burning firebrand, but rarely have any formal distance markings.
On most caravan roads or pilgrimage routes, there will of course be inns a day’s travel apart. When traveling overland in much of the Realms, distances to nearest water, refuge, or good campsite in terms of portions of an average day’s travel (for a slow-moving wagon, pulled by oxen or mules) are what matters, not any numerical measure of distance.


So saith Ed, who has traveled farther in the Realms than any of the rest of us.
Love to all,
P.S.: Rino, heh-heh re. Volo.


On February 24, 2008 THO said:-  Hello, all. I have only a fragmentary, teasing "first flippant answer" from Ed re. Volo's birthplace:


Volothamp Geddarm was born in a humble cottage on a tiny islet in the middle of a fog-shrouded bog.


So saith Ed. Who has not yet revealed a date, specific location of said bog, or other particulars, but will (I swear!) when I next get my hands on him.
love to all,


On March 3, 2008 THO said:-  Hello, all!
Ed just arrived back home from D&D Experience, and in addition to confirming that he has indeed played 4e (and very much enjoyed it; he described the RPGA DM who ran things at his table “superb!”), he read the Keep posts I’d sent him, and in response sent me this to share with you:


Hi everyone. A few swift responses, and then I have to hit the sack. I’m not as young as I once was, and keeping up with all the eating, gaming, drinking, and flirting with long-suffering WotC ladies (you know who you are) has exhausted me.

To Wooly Rupert: when you post sentences like this one: “And though I can't think of any evidence to support it, it's not impossible that part of what Larloch is doing is containing something...” be aware that you are (ahem) VERY perceptive.

To althen artren: “I was under the impression that the lichnee were pretty well culled out by the Knights and the Simbul in Tears So White. But I guess there could still be a dozen or so that were held back.”
Larloch held back many, many more.

“Would anybody like to guess how much of his exchange with the Knights was "acting" on his part?”
Aye, there’s the rub. A hint: he INTENDED to mislead them, but ended up being far more sincere than he’d intended to be.

“Does anybody else have the opinion that in all of his appearances, we have never seen the REAL Manshoon? I get the impression that all of his appearances have been made by active statis clones, and that he is in some extra-dimensional space laughing at the show on Faerun and manipulating events on his whim.”
Bingo. Perceptive indeed. However, the Manshoon we see onstage in the Knights trilogy, in SPELLFIRE, and in the “So high A Price” short story is the ‘original.’

Asgetrion: I’ll do you a proper reply later; I am still frightfully busy/late on things. Yes, there are training halls within the majority of urban temples of martial faiths. When you ask “And do these temples usually have curtain walls and gatehouses, even if they're not shown on the city maps?”
The answer is: no, not if they’re not on the maps. Temples out in the countryside almost always do.

And I’m afraid that’s all for right now. I’m yawning at the keyboard. As for all the gamers I met at D&D Experience: Thank you. Boy, we have a great hobby.


So saith Ed. Who is probably snoring as I post this, poor dear thing. Sleeping back with his lovely wife in their own bed should rest him up a little, though.
love to all,


On March 5, 2008 THO said:- Hello, all. Ed and I have been e-mailing back and forth since we heard the news, and when I sent him your post, ddporter, he responded with:


I have many, many happy personal memories of Gary, who was not just the father of our hobby, but (thanks to the nature of our hobby), the Emperor of Our Dreams.
Most of my memories are of the “you had to be there” variety rather than the “darned good anecdote” sort, but I do recall, at one of the first Parkside GenCons (for you youngsters, those are the GenCons that were held in the beautiful countryside campus of the University of Wisconsin - Parkside), meeting Gary (right after my first Pages From The Mages article had been published, if I recall rightly; he’d read it and been mightily impressed). He shook my hand, said to the gaggle of gamers and staffers surrounding him, “Back in ten, guys, maybe a little longer,” shoved open one of the glass doors that let right out into the rolling lawns of the “park” surrounding all the linked buildings, and said to me, “C’mon!”
We set off for a meandering walk around the parkland, talking fantasy books, and because I read voraciously and had grown up with a family library of accumulated classics of all sorts that was truly awesome in breadth, I had read about as widely in fantasy (from the ancient epics up through the latest generic sword-and-sorcery efforts) as Gary had. We chatted back and forth like two kids, eager to share our common love for fantasy with each other, and I promised to try to get him a copy of a Gardner Fox title he’d lost his copy of (duly gifted to him at the NEXT GenCon, by the way), and we parted with him hugging me and grinning like a kid.
THAT’S how I’ll always remember Gary: the kid just reveling in fantasy. A kid who just happened to have a beard and belly and glasses (and later, a mullet and hair that changed hue with age, and stronger glasses . . . and at the end, a motor scooter to help him with his walking). We did quite a few panels together at cons, down the years, and I recall one in Toronto with Robin Laws, Gary, and yours truly (at which Gary looked unwell and sounded very tired), where he brightened up at seeing me, and asked, “Still have the dress?”
This referred to an early GenCon panel about “What Dungeon Masters Do?” in which the moderator asked the six (all male, Gary and me being two of them) panelists how far we’d go as far as acting went, in-character, as a DM, including: “If you were in a full-costume murder mystery, even though most of you are hairy, overweight males with beards and/or moustaches, would you put on makeup, jewelry, and a dress, and try to ‘seriously’ act like an alluring female, instead of overacting or being full-on Monty Python ridiculous, despite how ludricrous you might appear?”
Gary replied: “Hell, yeah, just for a laugh. I’m afraid it would be a laugh, though.”
I can’t recall most of the other panelists’ replies (most were of the “Hell, no!” variety, I think), but I replied: “Certainly. Up to and including enthusiastic flirtation - - unless I knew doing so would upset my players! I’m there to ENTERTAIN my players, first and foremost, so their preferences rule.”
Gary looked down the table at me, and asked: “Would you really?”
I assured him I would, and to prove it, if he wanted proof, would borrow or buy high-fashion feminine garb in Lake Geneva and he could take me out to The Red Geranium (among what then passed for highbrow dineries in the town) for dinner, and we could play happy married couple for the evening. He cringed (after all, he lived there, and was married, and I did have a full beard and moustache, and was hairy and getting fat and was very obviously male), and said that doing so REALLY wouldn’t be necessary.
So the next year, when I was attending GenCon, I found Gary’s hotel room, bought a really snazzy dress in a secondhand shop in Milwaukee, put it on, knocked on his door, and bid him a sultry, “Hello, sailor!” Inevitably, I did so just as some of the hotel staff passed us, traversing the corridor. Gary stared at me with his mouth open for what seemed a very long time, and then whooped with laughter, laughing so hard he was banging on the door with his fist, all doubled over. Making my way to the elevator, I joined two of the staff who’d seen me at Gary’s door, collected the expected funny looks from them, and told them breathlessly, “That was Gary Gygax, a man so virile that manly men swoon over him!” I don’t know how they treated him for the rest of his stay, but when I passed him in the exhibit hall on Sunday, he asked me, “WHAT did you tell the hotel staff? They keep looking at me like I’m going to pounce on them!”
I put on an innocent look, and asked, “You mean you’re not?”
And he chortled again.
In short, though we rarely saw each other, we had fun (like two young, immature, carefree kids) on most of those few occasions, and I don’t regret one moment of it.
I DO regret that there won’t be any more of those moments.
Until of course, the day comes where I join Gary in whatever place old Dungeon Masters go when they pass on. I sure hope it’ll have crumbling castles and wicked wizards and dragons swooping low, and beautiful princesses needing to be rescued - - and even more gorgeous babes in full armor galloping up to us.
And being as Gary got there first, I’ll expect him to have my dress ready.


So saith Ed. Who regrets that just attending D&D Experience will probably mean he won’t be able to get time off work again so soon, to go and attend Gary’s funeral. Sigh. Rest in peace, Lord of Greyhawk.
love to all,


On March 10, 2008 THO said:- Hello again, all. I bring another Realmslore reply from the snowbound Ed of the Greenwood, who this time tackles this query from thom: “And my first question for 2008 is for you and your fellow Knights. I'm (re)starting my campaign using 2nd edition rules (after a TPK and my burning out with 3.X rules and the 4th edition debacle). I've been looking over the stats for beholders and their eye rays (kill, fry, disintegrate ) and I'm wondering just how in the Nine Hells did the Knights manage to whack as many beholders as they did!
Did Ed modify his beholder's eye rays to make them less deadly, or did the Knights have some special tactics or magic going for them? I'm asking because I want to have some answers when my PCs decide to ask sages and other experts in my campaign for any advice before they go up against my eye tyrants. Thanks for any help!”
I furnished my reply back on page 2 of this year’s thread, and promised a “proper answer” from Ed, to which thom replied: “Thanks milady! That's basically what I needed to know. But yes, please add to my question for Ed: could he list some of the alternate powers he substituted for his beholders' eye rays?”
Ed replies:


Certainly. Second edition rules applied at the time, and I used all of the following, plus (less often) many more:

Animate Dead (used on corpses of adventurers and handy skeletons of earlier beholder victims)
Cause Serious Wounds
Hold Monster
Reverse Gravity
Flying Fist (see the FR Adventures hardcover sourcebook)
Paralyze (see the FR Adventures hardcover sourcebook; eye ray equals “touch”)
Missile Mastery (see the FR Adventures hardcover sourcebook)
Shroud of Flame (see the FR Adventures hardcover sourcebook)
Dismind (see the FR Adventures hardcover sourcebook; eye ray equals “touch”)


I was aiming to make beholders into formidable “duke it out” foes for mid-level adventurers (which is what the Knights were, at the time), but not instantly fatal encounters. Of course, I had already taught my players the value of having their characters flee like heck to survive to fight another day, so in cases where they COULD readily flee, I often had "straight" Monster Manual beholders guarding a spot, door, or item they wouldn’t budge from (meaning: once the adventurers realized they were facing a REAL beholder, they could flee for their lives and make it away, but if they got too cocky [“Oh, Ed’s beholders aren’t so hot”], they were in for a nasty surprise).


So saith Ed. He tells truth, and I have the psychic scars to prove it.
I have some real ones, too, but that’s another story . . .
love to all,


On March 11, 2008 THO said:-  Hi again, all.
This time I bring some brief words of Ed in response to Wooly Rupert’s Helmed Horror queries: “That of course got me wondering (especially since I've always loved helmed horrors). Is Aragus still around? What are its goals? How is it treated by the folk of Waterdeep? What is its legal status (as in, is it considered a citizen, and if not, what rights does it have?)? Can helmed horrors gain levels or class abilities? And lastly, are there other noteworthy independent helmed horrors out there?”
“And as an addendum to my previous helmed horror questions... Can they be created without the use of a corpse and/or the Doom of Bane spell?”
Ed replies:


Hi, Wooly! Yes, Aragus is still around, but has “faked” its own destruction and is now keeping a low profile, with rooms it can hide out in, in both Dock Ward and North Ward, and using a hargaunt (see my current Knights trilogy of novels) to give it various lifelike “human face” masks.
Its goals remain mysterious (as in, both NDAs and my own unfolding campaign needs to remain silent apply). Most folk in Waterdeep consider Aragus to be “no more” (some Lords know better, but are keeping silent for their own reasons.
No, helmed horrors can’t gain levels or class abilities in the same way that PCs can. They CAN be augmented by wizards (and if playing 3e, insert applicable prestige classes here) of sufficient power and learning, so as to gain hit points, better attacks, particular abilities, etc.
Yes, there are other noteworthy Helmed Horrors active in the Realms right now (I have to check with certain mysterious WotC personages to see if some current NDAs prevent me from discussing two of the most famous/infamous, so I’ll return at some later date with more . . . or not).
And yes, there are several other methods of creating helmed horrors besides using a corpse or a Doom of Bane spell. Magic armor can be mated with a wraith (by means of the right sequence of spells), for one (and other undead can serve, to be “bound into” armor; even simple animated skeletons can be put into armor and spells used to create a crude facsimile of a helmed horror. Augmented battle horrors (the feather fall, dimension door, and magic missile-hurling variants, only “powered up” to do worse things) can be made by a variety of magical processes, and at least one priesthood (Gond’s) has been seeking to craft its own guardian helmed horrors through rituals and prayers (that is, divine magic only, with nary an arcane spell involved; BTW, they have done this thus far unsuccessfully).


So saith Ed.
And I’d like to add a personal postscript to dalor: certainly you can ask me things, and I’ll be quite happy to answer. I’ll probably post an answer to your question that Sage redirected here, tomorrow, but I must run now. The phone we nicknamed “the Bat Phone” years back is ringing, and that means urgent work . . .
love to all,


On March 12, 2008 THO said:-  Hello, all. I promised dalor_darden a response to his question, shifted to this thread by the esteemed Sage: “THO
In the very many years you have been playing D&D with Ed Greenwood, I'm sure you have come to know so much about HIS Forgotten Realms. You have also gathered quite a bit of influence on just what Ed's Forgotten Realms really is like...after all, it is the player(s) who make a world truly come alive at the gaming table...just as much as the DM. I'm not sure what all there may be that would prohibit you from answering questions about the "Real" Forgotten Realms, but I thought it would be nice to at least chat about and be able to ask questions about it all.
I guess I'll start!
When playing with a DM that is very detailed in his world, what for you was the most challenging aspect of continuous play in Ed's campaign?
Also, what was the first thing about Ed's campaign world that made you take a step back and say "Hey! That is AWESOME!"
Just a couple for right now...I don't want to spend time for an essay or anything because this might not even be the right place to do this...or may not be something that should be done at all!
Thanks for your time!”

So, here we go . . .

The most challenging aspect of playing in Ed’s campaign was that it was a big step closer to “real life” than most D&D play, in that EVERY deed done or word spoken has consequences. Just as in a real-world situation, if you happen to dislike a co-worker, you have to be mindful of how you behave toward them, because it isn’t “just a game where the NPCs are brainless, do-nothing cardboard cutouts.” Self-discipline trumps “Yahoo! Let’s KILL, baby!” self-indulgence, every time.
The first thing that made me think Ed’s Realms were awesome were the feeling that it was all really REAL, that hit me right away. All of Ed’s players roleplay (act, in character), there are multiple subplots going on constantly, Ed’s very good at describing the wind, weather, and what your character can see around him- or herself, all the time, taking care of what you smell, taste, feel . . . Ed’s world feels REAL, so your doings and triumphs do, too. You can drive home smiling like an idiot in satisfaction over finally holding a crooked tax official to justice, or tracking down a long-sought fragment of lore . . .
. . . and I have, countless times.




On March 16, 2008 THO said:- Hello again, all. Ed returns from some days of silence due to being tearingly busy again, to impart a response to Thangorn’s query: “Well met once again Ed and THO, I have question that is really bugging me.
My 2nd Ed Faerun campaign set in 1362DR in the Dales and Moonsea, seems to have my PCs ending up in the Village of Glen in Mistledale quite alot.
I wonder whether you can reveal anything about the Dragon Egg trade mentioned there. I've come up with a reasonably plausible reason and ethical rationale why Dwarves trade in evil dragon eggs but it still bugs me.
Can you reveal how a peaceful and friendly community of dwarves can ethically sell evil dragons eggs to whoever has the coin? What reason would a good person have for buying an evil dragon egg?
Doesn't anyone with that kind of coin have half a brain and know that their expensive new pet is not just going to be grateful and become their best mate.. reminds of the story about the snake that the Indian told in Natural Born Killers.
It would be really great if you could help me out with this Ed but obviously I'll understand if you cant.
If you are reading this, thanks anyway.
Oh and I played some of your suggested music for Storm to my players a couple of times when they were in the Old Skull and they were most appreciative. Thanks for that.”
Ed replies:


You’re very welcome. I love using mood music (motif themes to wordlessly cue players, in particular; for anyone reading this who isn’t sure what I mean, consider the few bars from O Fortuna played in the foggy battle scene at the end of the movie Excalibur, just before the knights start to shout, “Lancelot! Lancelot is with us!”) during play, even though I seldom have the “setup” with me, these days.
As for the Dale trade: the primary reason is alchemy; to whit, the use of dragon egg components in spell ink formulae, potions (vitality and longevity in particular), spell castings, and even the preparations of enspelled food (think giant “dragon egg omelettes” and soups).
Sembia is bursting with money thanks to its mercantile successes, and like all “awash in new money everywhere” societies, folk who have the coin to pursue means (however crackpot) of becoming younger, stronger, more beautiful, or even cheating death itself, or of boasting of their exclusivity (“I dined on red dragon eggs this even, Fhaeruld; can you top THAT? Hmm?”) are doing so, energetically.
Moreover, all this money attracts wizards seriously seeking patronage to pursue their mastery of the Art (“certainly I’ll be your pet wizard and cast all of these daily spells for you and your household, so long as you fund my private researches, in the workshop you build for me, inside your walled mansion grounds”), and some of them are using dragon eggs in researches bent on attaining lichdom while keeping the lich’s body vigorous and seemingly alive, rather than the usual gruesome decay.
Many dwarves, coming from a so-long-dwindling culture that lamented their battle losses and low fertility, have a revulsion toward destroying probably-fertile eggs of any sort; yet they certainly don’t want evil dragons (a traditional foe, competing for the gold and gems they mine and prepare) to become more numerous. So, let someone else do the destroying, and profit thereby (and earning coin and “putting coin by” are also strong dwarven traits).
You might compare it to real-world people who eat supermarket meat but who would be revolted by doing their own beast-slaughtering, or (a better analogy) pay someone else to carry away their garbage and dispose of it, rather than sorting and processing their own garbage (very few of us grind down, melt, and resell our plastics or glass).
And yes, there ARE some Sembians who want dragons as pets: that is, gate-guardians (again, a status symbol) or as tamed aerial steeds. They anecdotally know such beasts rarely “work out” in such roles, but believe that (as they themselves are so special, and have money enough to hire the best trainers), such failures won’t happen to THEM.


So saith Ed. Who showed all of us Knights many, many instances of Sembian “fall over self in headlong rush of greed” excesses, down the years. Just when we’d start to think all Sembians were mad buffoons, he’d show us some of the really cunning, clearly-reasoning ones.
(Causing us to REALLY shiver.)
love to all,


On March 20, 2008 THO said:- Hello again, everybody. Ed apologizes for the paucity of his replies recently (family stuff plus frantic Realms-related work, as usual), and asked me to step in with a reply. So, fresh back from a busy little mission of my own, herewith my reply to a query from arry, to whit: “I was wondering, Dear Hooded Lady, what word or words to describe the 'death' of undead creatures were/are used in Ed's games?”

A lot of terms, depending on who’s doing the describing. “Destruction/destroying” was common, “disruption” decidedly less so. “Laying to rest” and “sending down” were colloquial clerics’ phrases, and “sending to dust” or “taking to dust” more formal, flowery (bardic or priestly sermonizing).
Looking over my notes, I find that Ed, playing The Simbul (NPC), uttered the words “unrest to rest” after she blasted a lich to glowing dust (the glow being her spell that “returned it to the Weave,” meaning removed all undeath from the dust-motes).
[BTW, re. createvmind’s recent truenames query, I recall Ed, in-character as Laeral, mentioning that truenames were Weave foci for a being - - that is, a way of causing the Weave to focus magic upon a particular creature.]
“Driving down” (Ed speaking both as an anonymous War Wizard and as a Sembian Lathanderite priest) was another means of referring to destroying undead in battle.
I’ll pass this on to Ed, and see if he can add anything more, when he surfaces from his long months of toil. I can assure you the man isn’t taking a holiday from Candlekeep, but rather pounding the keyboard frantically to try to catch up on all the design work and fiction writing he needs to get done.
love to all,


On March 21, 2008 THO said:- It would indeed (you naughty, naughty lads; why, if this goes on, I'll have to be commanding some of you to whip me), but to answer the question seriously: Ed ran healing thus: tissue and skin completely restored, old air expelled as ash, new hair (in condition just as before, so if it was graying or going white, it still is) starts to grow immediately. The hair grows about an inch an hour, until it reaches the length it was before affected by the fire, with two exceptions: it stops growing immediately, ending the effects of the healing magic, if any other magic is cast directly on it or the body part it's growing from, or it is cut (sheared, trimmed) with "cold iron" (iron, steel, ferrous alloys). so much I can remember quite vividly. I think I'll leave the "quite vivid" part private until some scribe happens to ask a question that would 'legitimately' reveal it.
love to all,


On March 21, 2008 THO said:-  Hello again, all!
A surprise reply from Ed just arrived in my inbox, referencing a question recently (page 12 of this year's thread) asked by Longtime Lurker:


Yes, Mirt has fathered almost a dozen children, most of whom he's aware of, and some of whom he has cordial relationships with (I don't mean that the others hate him, I mean that they are in distant countries and know little or nothing about him). At the moment, I shouldn't say more, future fiction planning being what it is.
Or to put it another way, the only Realms-related creator I should by tying down is the lovely THO. Ahem.


So saith Ed. Whom I'll answer: any time, dear. ANY time. Purrrrrrr....
love to all,


On March 22, 2008 THO said:-  Hello again, all. I bring this swift reply from Ed:


Hi to all scribes. I'm sorry for my recent e-silences; I have family visiting at the moment, which today meant watching rainbow trout the size of small children being hauled out of an icy rivermouth in bright but arctic-frigid conditions with a fly rod (I was watching from the warmth of the car, not fishing) by, yes, a small child (and several dozen dressed-up-for-arctic-exploration adult fishermen who were NOT family).
This reply is for createvmind. Yes, humor is essential for me, in Realms and other writing; it's what humans balance against stress and rage and horror, and not including it makes my writing, in my opinion, not worth reading. thankfully, I can't seem to write, these days, without including it. :}
My favorite Donaldson work is DAUGHTER OF REGALS, which I re-read often for sheer pleasure, and highly recommend. I have, at various times, voted for it, the two Mordant's Need novels, and some of the Gap titles for various sf and fantasy awards (such as the World Fantasy Awards and the Nebulas), and Donaldson is a writer I always watch.
Right now, I must rush back to read something else, and write yet another project, neither of which I can speak publicly about, yet.
Let me just say this much: I am involved with something that you have just seen the first hints of (cough Blackstaff Tower cough), and boy, are Realms fiction fans in for some treats (yes, plural) in the future.
Must run, now; big family dinner (gathering of the farflung, some members meeting others for the first time ever) tomorrow.


So saith Ed, who will of necessity fall e-silent on that morrow. As for the rest of the weekend, he's not sure yet. It's packed, but if some spring lambs aren't born, one trip won't happen, and that may buy him a few moments to get online.
love to all,

And to althen artren:
It depends on my mood - - and the fruit. I have, at various times in my life, been entirely unclad and covered in honey, melted chocolate, and crushed red wine grapes. The latter was the messiest and least sweet, the honey was a slippery disaster and TOO sweet (or so others who tried to, ah, lick me clean testified), and the chocolate sure got the sheets and the tub messy. However, a certain person involved in the latter cleanup said he very much preferred me "semi-sweet."
Take that as you will. HE did.
For the record, the honey bath was unintentional and work-related, the red wine was to help a friend make wine the traditional way (tramping), and the chocolate was for intimate fun (not my initial idea, but I was an enthusiastic participant). BTW, only those able to withstand pain should dabble in ice cream at from-the-freezer temperatures.
I hope this reply suffices . . . I can see a rather sticky road ahead, if it does not.
love to all,


On March 23, 2008, THO said:-  Ahem. Hello, all.
Not wanting to distract further from Ed's Realmslore, let me just add the following, by way of explanation.
No, I am not a stripper, exotic dancer, or for that matter prostitute. Yes, I have (happily) POSED as all of those at various times, as part of my job, which is indeed, as althen speculated, "some sort of law enforcement."
The honey situation involved getting a small but vitally necessary item out of several cramped and unfamiliar rooms that had been doused in honey leaking from a tank. Nudity doesn't bother me, but I saw no need to ruin clothes, weaponry, expensive tools, perfectly good lingerie, etc., so I stripped and did the search. The lickers were colleagues whom I invited to help me clean up enough to get dressed again, afterwards; their enthusiastic and wholly professional assistance I greatly appreciated (no, none of them was Gene Simmons, but in my impartial and partially uninformed judgement, some of them could give him er, stiff competition in certain oral activities).
One of them did blush for months afterwards, every time he saw honey. :}
But oh, it took a lot of shampoo to get my hair clean, even after sacrificing a cheap hair pick to just physically stripping away as much honey as possible.

Now, to keep this Realms related: dalor's query as to Ed someday releasing a book re. his home Realms campaign: he would love to, doesn't know if he'd ever have the time to do so, can't legally do so without permission from Wizards of the Coast (and they would probably have to be the publishers), and in the days before they bought the Realms, Ed released several such "Player Packs," which were given out free to participants in his library campaigns, forming the basis of "what they knew" about Cormyr or the Dales or Waterdeep or the Sword coast North, when play began. All were Ed-illustrated, maps-included photocopied 8.5"x11" pages stapled together, and tended to run some 60 pages in length, typed single-spaced with an old Underwood typewrite that had quite a small typeface. Ah, those were the days . . . (I've seen samples of each of them.)

love to all,


On March 24, 2008 THO said:- Hello, all. This time I bring a lightning-swift response from Ed to the above “26-year-old PC jongleur marrying 14-year-old NPC” query by Lord of Bones.
Ed replies:


To begin, my praises for the roleplaying that landed everyone in this situation in the first place. And for the opinions being held by EVERYONE involved. :}
Let me go through the relevant points in the order your post raised them. The NPC is devoted to service to Ilmater; the NPC in charge of the temple in Westgate she belongs to may have established a local temple policy (faith interpretation; there is no church-wide dogma on this), one way or the other. That’s your “DM lever,” waiting in the wings, if you need it. And yes, to support the elf’s argument, in the service of Ilmater, the 14-year-old WOULD have seen things that would mature her enough to know precisely what she’s getting into; this would not be a seduction of the innocent or even merely naïve.

The desire to marry before going into danger (as expressed by the PC) is right on target and fitting as an attitude for someone dwelling in the Heartlands of the Realms.

The age-gap means NOTHING in the Realms, and precious little in most of our real-world cultures. (My own wife of almost thirty years happens to be 25 years older than I am, for instance. Anyone who disapproves of that is expressing their own opinion, which in the context of our relationship pales beside her opinion and mine.)

The age of the younger part of the partnership, the 14-year-old NPC, is another matter. The Realms, as I have said so many times before, is NOT our real world, and real-world attitudes and arguments should have no bearing. With that said, obviously the players in our D&D games ARE part of the real world, and have views shaped and informed by that, and so real-world attitudes and arguments DO have bearing. However, they have thus far been expressed perfectly, in-game: argument/debate among the PC adventurers, just as would indeed happen in the Realms IF the characters held varying attitudes; as you say, kudos to the players. The arguments you briefly identified for the paladin and the dwarf seem fine and valid to me - - assuming the paladin’s faith has been sufficiently detailed in-game already, and it’s not just “well, my opinion is that she isn’t old enough, and as a paladin I’m a good guy, and therefore right.” Remember, the faiths of the Realms, even for paladins, are NOT the same as modern Christianity.

The argument you cite for marrying off at young ages still holds true in many real-world societies today - - just not in “the West.” Children of both genders may be married off in infancy by families desiring to cement an alliance, land or property ownership, to establish a bond that ends a blood-feud, or for reasons of state/lineage. Juliet, in Shakespeare's play, was 13, yes, 13. In medieval times, many mothers were carrying their first children, or were even beyond that, at age 13 (facts borne out by many, many records, [BTW, in societies far more dominated by Christianity than our lives are today] so for those who’d like to disagree with this on some sort of moral grounds, don’t bother). So for those who base their idea of the Realms on our real-world “Middle Ages,” this wouldn't even be a debate at all. EXCEPT in situations where individuals who are personally involved (as all the PCs are, here) have conflicting opinions. The PCs who oppose this union on a “it’ll break up our team, or weaken you the male half of the pairing, and therefore wound us” have a perfectly valid viewpoint, Realms-wise. Any PC who objects on individual reasoning is merely roleplaying, and the setting allows the full range of views, so they can’t be said to be roleplaying badly.

However, what is “morally right” in Faerûn depends on various faiths (remember, unlike the monotheistic “worship God” setting most real-world players come from, in the Realms everyone “believes in” multiple gods, worships many at least in terms of appeasement, and only for clerics and paladins devotes themselves to just one deity, something many other people in the Realms deem “zealotry”); the “community standards” argument cited in many Western modern real-world legal cases would be: do whatever you want, it’s no one else’s business - - unless you happen to be flouting the wishes of one of our most powerful families, in which case we’ll find some other pretext for, or way of, stopping it (such as making the jongleur “vanish”). Corrupt, trade-before-all Westgate has no laws at all, or attitudes backing up such laws, prohibiting this union. Some cities and countries in the Realms DO have age-of-consent laws (hence the current Regency in Cormyr, for example) but Westgate isn’t one of them.

As I said earlier, the church of Ilmater does NOT have a faith-wide prohibition or even attitude against marriages (or, for that matter, unofficial sexual unions) involving young individuals; to appreciate and aid against human suffering, one must fully experience and understand all aspects of human life, not declare any parts of it “out of bounds.” However, the local high priest in Westgate MAY have formulated a local temple policy against such unions, for a specific historical reason, in your campaign (there isn’t one in the “official” Realms, or in my campaign, where Westgate is a morally rapacious, react-against-Cormyr, slavetrading and drug running and smuggling center; a marriage is essentially a trade and property agreement in Westgate, and therefore intrinsically good and desirable [as a pact mitigating against some of the daggerwork-in-alleys nightly violence]).

In short, you have a classic “roleplay it through” situation. Good luck, and I’d very much like to know how things turn out. This is one of those “no easy answer, and no Right way except the way you collectively hammer out” matters. No, there are no laws or attitudes in the official Realms denying this union. However, it obviously upset at least one player, so it’s something that all the players are going to have to come to some agreement on - - or suffer the damage to their collective relationship that will result.

There IS a “weasel way” route: the church of Ilmater could offer a “bonding” or “pairing” ceremony (equivalent to an “engagement”), wherein the couple publicly affirm their commitment (fidelity) to each other, but (in light of the peril the jongleur is about to face) don’t fully marry yet (i.e. so the 14-year-old isn’t soon married to a dead jongleur). You could have a priest of Ilmater NPC offer this to the PCs, and see what happens.

Again, fair fortune!


So saith Ed, creator of the Realms, Westgate, and the veneer of Ilmater (atop Fritz Leiber’s Issek). DO let us know how it turns out, won‘t you?
Thanks, and love to all,

Ed tells me that the Thronestrife is still largely under NDA, but that a LITTLE more about Cormyr will soon be revealed in "an official manner and place," and that he will carefully check and see what he can and can't post here, in response to you. "Very early May" is his suspected timeframe for knowing that, unfortunately.
However, in my experience, the problem often lies in the broad "what can you tell me about" format of your query. Not with Ed, mind you; like all creatives, he loves having as free a hand as possible in answering you. Rather, the problem is with getting WotC permission/avoiding NDAs. Are there, perhaps, half a dozen or so very tightly focussed questions about the Thronestrife you could pose to Ed, here? "Yes/no" and "confirm/deny" and "am I right about this specific fact?" varieties, perhaps? This will really help Ed in seeing if he can skate around the NDAs, and give you a few specific answers and perhaps some strong hints. (The idea of NDAs is not to ruin the impact of forthcoming products, not to maliciously stonewall gamers wanting to fully enjoy the Realms they already play in.)


On March 26, 2008 THO said:- Hello again, all. I bring a followup response from Ed to the followup post from Lord of Bones requesting marriage lore according to the faiths of Helm, Oghma, and Myrkul/Kelemvor. Ed replies:


No problem re. both barrels, Matt; happy to be of help. :}
You’re quite correct that there’s not much marriage lore for these faiths in print, so I’ve gone to my notes (augmented thanks to ongoing play in the home campaign since my time of hurling great screeds of them Julia Martin’s way, when F&A was in preparation), touched them up a bit in terms of rounding out arguments, and come up with the following:

The Church of Helm presumes to say nothing about who a faithful Helmite takes in marriage (being silent on matters of race, gender, age, and even blood relationship when partners are more distantly related than immediate birth-blood siblings - - so the wife of a dead brother could marry the husband of that brother’s sister, or even the dead brother’s father, without Church disapproval), but is VERY firm on fidelity and obligation to a living partner.
If a devout Helmite marries someone, they are expected to be faithful to that partner (kissing, hugging, caressing, and flirting with others is fine, but any adulterous acts of sexual intercourse are to be fully confessed to the partner sinned against, and clergy of a consecrated altar of the faith, as soon as possible, and any penance demanded performed).
There are no grounds for divorce in the Helmite faith, but any instance of adultery is grounds for withholding of sexual access by a partner for a year, and longer if penance is not fulfilled and the offender does not seek forgiveness from their partner. If such “transgressions” are frequent or numerous, any Helmite priest can choose to dissolve the union and pronounce a punishment upon the offender. In other words, the aggrieved partner can never successfully request divorce before any altar of Helm, but Helmite clergy can choose to end a marriage for “just cause.” In practice, this is only done when the aggrieved partner agrees to it.
If a devout Helmite marries someone, they are also expected to “guard” that partner. In other words, a couple who venerate Helm are to protect and defend each other, diligently watching over each other’s persons, goods, safety, and prospects, not merely rushing to aid when immediate danger threatens. This must be done regardless of personal feelings or other loyalties, but is not to be performed in such a way as to restrict the freedom to make life decisions of the protected partner (under the Helmite creed, a guarding spouse can’t lock their partner inside a home to prevent them “going outside into danger,” or dictate where they’ll go and who they’ll associate with under the guise of “keeping them safest”).
Marriage involves the exchanging of secret personal names (they may, but need not be, “truenames”) upon an altar of Helm. Thereafter, whenever one of those names is uttered by one of the partners, it will be heard by priests attending any altar of Helm (on the same plane), and with it will be imparted the approximate distance and direction of the utterer, plus an image of their face (current looks and condition); this alerts the Helmite clergy that one of the partners of a Helmite union is in dire need.

Beyond dictating that “true partners” should not keep lore-secrets from each other (in other words, anything important learned or deduced by either partner is to be shared with the other), and stressing the idea that the shared seeking after knowledge is one of the most holy and fulfilling strivings in a life, the Church of Oghma has little to say on the suitability or treatment of partners.
This paucity of dogma is due both to the nature of the deity’s portfolio and interests, and the fact that clergy of Oghma who dwell in an abbey or other Oghmanite religious community meet often with senior clergy, one-on-one, to discuss “seekings after knowledge” (in other words, senior clergy guide and advise junior clergy in an ongoing manner).
However, according to the Church of Oghma, only death can end a marriage (there’s a reason Oghma is known as “the Binder”). Many senior clergy of Oghma take the view that a resurrected person, of any faith, must “take up” any union that existed at the time of their death (they are alive again, so their marriage is, too). If they have remarried, they are lawfully now bound in two (or more!) unions, with all of the obligations that pertain to supporting partners. Infidelity is a sin, as is any deceit toward, or mistreatment of, one’s partner, but they are not to be used as a pretext for dissolution of a partnership. Rather, they are to be atoned for, and repetitions of such mistreatments dealt with through increasingly harsh punishments and Oghmanite oversight (to prevent increasing tyranny, deceit, and thefts within a marriage, and therefore any increase in the influence of Bane, Cyric, and Mask, Oghma’s chief foes).

Kelemvorite belief has nothing to say on the suitability or wooing of partners, or on marriages (other than that death DOES end any union, freeing both the living and the dead to move on, perhaps to new partners - - so a resurrected being has no obligation to return to a former partner, though many older clergy, raised in the Church of Myrkul, do advocate the undead or resurrected once-dead returning to the living, to awe or even slay them, and so extend Myrkul’s embrace to more souls). Church of Kelemvor doctrine would lead a priestess of Kelemvor to be sympathetic to any desire to be wed, especially if danger lurks for one or both partners, because death is seen as natural and inevitable, and that life should be full and rich for everyone before they die; if there’s a desire someone strives for, why not fulfill it, if possible, before death comes? The Church of Myrkul would be more neutral, for emphasis was placed on the influence and prominence of the dead (and undead) among the living, and both a marriage and a love affair shattered before marriage by death can serve as strong ties upon the living, to give the dead more power.

As of right now, that’s all I have relating to marriage for these faiths. I hope this is of some help.


So saith Ed. Creator of the Realms and Shaper of its deities. Who is probably doing battle with yet another snowstorm that’s raging through his neck of the woods right now. In between stints at the keyboard or behind the library desk.
love to all,

Hello again, all. I bring this from Ed, in response to AlorinDawn:


Yes, I really enjoyed that era of writing sourcebooks. On-staff editors WERE watching to make sure a product didn't go really wild, but there was plenty of freedom to delve into lore that, strangely enough, gets mined over and over again by later designers, to hang new products on. :}
I honestly haven't seen enough formatted, "final sort of" 4e material to tell you the crunch/fluff tradeoff. I do know that there is a formal format for monster stats (a "stat block," if you will), but that's hardly news, being as examples of them have appeared on the Wizards website already. I'm not ducking the question here, or raising my handy NDA shield, I honestly can't judge.
As for other cons: yes, there is a strong possibility that I'll be attending something late this spring, but I can't confirm yet, because the convention folks haven't made any announcement yet. If it does happen, I can add this much: it shouldn't be a long trip for you to attend.


So saith Ed. Being far more mysterious than usual. He has a library board meeting tonight, but will try to send a lore response to one of the outstanding queries posted here, as soon as he can.
love to all,


On March 27, 2008 THO said:- Hello, all. A Realmslore reply from yours purringly truly this time, in response to Hoondatha’s query: “THO - since you've admitted to having some first-hand knowledge of the process, I figure now's the time to ask a question I've been wondering about ever since I ran Cleric's Challenge years ago about the making of wine:
Did the grape juice stain your skin? If so, how long did it take to wash out? Also, how high did the stains go? (just feet/calves, most of the body, etc) How much would be visible on a regularly-clad person? (boots/shoes, long pants/skirt, shirt with arms mostly bare)
In other words, if a party rides into a village known for its grapes, would they be able to look around and go, "Aha! I know what YOU were doing yesterday!"”


Yes, the juice stained my skin. Red grapes stains maroon, fades to mauve, takes at least a week and a half to pass beyond casual notice (on a fair-skinned person). Washing doesn’t affect this, because it permeates the skin, and we’re really waiting for layers of skin to flake off rather than the stain to “wash away.” White-wine grapes stain a yellowish, much fainter tint to start with; though a close side-by-side examination of stained and unstained skin will show up the stain as obvious, it would pass casual “glance at me” notice much faster. Most real-world grape-trampers are covered from crotch upwards, and that of course limits the extent of stains. Aside from binding and covering long hair, I’d see no good reason, if modesty were abandoned (as in much of the Realms), for trampers not to work naked, as I did; it saves nigh-permanent staining on clothing. In that case, small droplet marks (actually more often the marks left by the flung-up skins of individual grapes, hitting and perhaps sticking to the skin) can get all over the body. In most situations, the hands and forearms DO get stained, either by holding onto the vat climbing in or out, or reaching down to “unclump” grapes or claw them away from sticking to the sides of the vat. Then, of course, if there’s any “hurl grapes at the naked lady” horseplay (there was, in my case), wherever the stuff hits will leave a mark. So a regularly-clad person MIGHT have a few “pocks” or “spots” anywhere, but would probably have thoroughly-stained hands and perhaps forearms - - and a party who’s seen wine-tramping before would indeed recognize what this was, at a glance.
If instead of treading grapes, the person observed had been treading leather in human urine to make it soft and supple, it’d be the smell that would tip you off.


Hi again, all. I bring a further response from Ed to queries regarding his earlier marriage-related lore, provided to Lord of Bones on the previous page of this thread. To whit, these posts:
from Zandilar: “Very interesting indeed (all of it, that is, not just the bit I've quoted!)... However, I just want to clarify something...
From what you wrote, it seems Oghma supports the idea of polygamy (formal marriage to more than one partner), but infidelity is a sin. Is that right? So I assume, second or even third partners would have to be agreed upon by both parties (the first pairing - provided it didn't begin as a polygamous arrangement of course), otherwise an argument could be made that the other partners (outside the first binding) would count as infidelity to the first.
I hope that's clear what I mean there, I'm getting confused just by re-reading it...”

from Thangorn: “oo these marriage replies are very interesting.. a whole aspect of faerunian faith I've never really dealt in.
Am I to understand that marrying people have their unions blessed by whatever faiths the two partners are most supportive of? How does this translate if the marrying people are both rogues who venerate Mask or pirates who mainly placate/worship Umberlee?
I'm interested in other faiths that bless unions and marriages.
Can you offer some of your more interesting "rules" regarding marriages?
Are there any other evil faiths that have a view on the bindings of marriage? I can certainly imagine Bane having an interest, especially in some of the more political marriages or marriages of convenience.
Thanks Ed and THO..”

and from Rinonalyrna Fathomlin: “Ed, thank you so much for the information on marriages, especially regarding the faith of Helm.
However, much like someone else above, I would like some clarification regarding marriages where the partners aren't necessarily of the same faith (or don't feel as strongly about one god as the other does). For example, you used the term "Helmite union." Does that apply to a marriage where one partner is a strong devotee of Helm but the other isn't? I don't mean a case where they hate Helm--they may venerate him, but not with the devotion that their partner does.
Ed replies:


Hi, Zandilar. Yes, an argument could indeed be made regarding infidelity, but in the Realms it would fall on deaf ears, as the saying goes. If the spouse of a dead individual remarried, and that dead individual was later raised, the priests of Oghma regard both of the unions entered into as legitimate, so there’s no “infidelity.” In cases of several remarriages, ALL of the unions are simultaneously legitimate (once dead partners are alive again, that is; Oghmanites do not include reincarnations in other animal forms as conferring legitimacy, BTW. Your stated assumption regarding the earlier partner “agreeing upon” any later ones is, I’m afraid, erroneous; the priests are expressing what they see as Oghma’s will, and not thinking of the feelings or “rights” of the earlier partners in the way some real-world modern societies might.
Yes, this can get hard on a remarrier, who’s expected to support and “be there” for more people than most have to deal with, in life, but the Church of Oghma doesn’t care about that. The clergy are primarily interested in increasing adherence to, and therefore the influence of, the Binder.
Nor does Oghma support (or deny!) polygamy as a concept, or for that matter unions that involve more than two persons. The clergy of Oghma are simply concerned that pacts and agreements be maintained, and not broken, defied, or ignored. BTW, clear cases of murder of a spouse ARE regarded as both a sin and a willful breaking of a marriage pact; if the slain individual is raised, they are regarded as entirely free of the union. Although there is no explicit church dogma on this point, Oghmanite priests typically regard spouse-murderers as unworthy of remarrying (incapable of adhering to such a pact), and will not conduct a marriage involving such a person without a long process of atonement, service to the god, soul-searching of the offender by Oghmanite clergy, and so on.
That doesn’t mean the person denied a marriage by the Church of Oghma can’t just go to priests of another faith, of course . . .

Which brings me to Thangorn’s questions. (Hi, Thangorn! :}) Just as in our real world, individuals in the Realms, unless constrained by geography (no other clergy within reach), are free to marry “before any altar.” They TEND, if devout, to be married by one of the faiths they most venerate, or married twice (by the “closest to the heart” faiths of both of the partners), or by a “third party” faith that is connected, in a friendly manner or alliance, to the “closest” faiths of both partners). However, it is important to remember that the Realms is not monotheistic; most individuals in the Realms both “believe in” and actively worship a pantheon of deities, and may not have a “closest to the heart” faith. Most faiths “bless” marriages as well as conduct them, in the interests of getting new worshippers (the offspring of any such “blessed” union). Even faiths that deal in deceit, killing, and destruction have rituals of pairing within the faith. (Among ordained clergy of a faith, it’s understood that marriages, if allowed, will be conducted within the faith.) So, yes, there’s no reason at all that two individuals who fervently worship Mask or Umberlee wouldn’t be married within the faith. The portfolios of the deity and practices of the faith shape such rituals, but don’t preclude them. And yes, most faiths, evil and otherwise, have at least some views on marriage, regardless of the nature of the deity or church (it’s important for real-world gamers not to unconsciously “buy” the notion that only good faiths can be interested in marriages, and that bad faiths would want to destroy unions; is the act of building a car inherently evil, just because so many people get killed in cars or by cars?).
I would LOVE to delve into all the marriage details thus far neglected in official Realmslore, for all faiths. However, doing so would take about a year and a half of my writing time to do properly (much more if the project expanded, as I know it would, into other rituals and practices of each church), and in the real world I have to eat, I sign writing and design contracts that I’m expected to fulfill, and I haven’t the time to really attend to a quarter of the things I try to do in life. My health has been suffering for years due to too much time spent behind the keyboard, to say nothing of family obligations and the too-rare time I get to spend with friends, and I just CAN’T embark on doing any thorough job on this topic (which some scribes here know all too well have been requested, and outstanding, since THO first persuaded me to answer lore queries here, back in 2004). Right now I’m scrambling to get yet another overdue novel done, so I’m afraid marriage details will just have to wait until I can outline a few here and a few there, in the proverbial fullness of time.
Scribes who want to see my take on any specific Realmslore topic should seek to somehow get Wizards of the Coast to contract me to write something on the topic, and so “block out” a chunk of my time. A chunk that doesn’t gnaw away at the four or five hours of sleep a night I try to get. :}
Sigh. I wish there were about six of me . . . though that would probably make for some interesting moments when all of me tried to climb into bed with my wife . . .
Ahem, which is hardly an appropriate segue to say hello to Rinonalyrna Fathomlin, but hi, regardless (please pay no attention to the hairy bearded man behind the curtain, okay?).
In my previous reply, I used “Helmite union” simply to mean a marriage performed by priests of Helm. The Church of Helm regards any such union as “theirs” to watch over, regardless of the religious allegiances of the partners involved (which are almost always to a variety of gods, and that naturally shift over time, with greater veneration of this deity and then that, as life brings new changes and challenges). Of course, with the exception of remote areas where a choice of clergy may be severely limited, the “reach” of the Church of Helm is effectively very limited. If both members of a “Helmite union” don’t happen to be clergy of Helm or zealots worshipping only Helm, and DO happen to be from somewhere in the rural Heartlands but travel to Waterdeep to work and live, the Church of Helm will almost always lose contact with them UNLESS they choose to visit shrines or temples of Helm handy to them in Waterdeep, and participate in formal worship. If they merely pray to Helm in the privacy of their own dwelling (or handy alley), local priests of Helm will probably be entirely unaware of it; the deity or divine servitors would only point out their presence, and demand some action on their part, if the deity became interested in the specific partners (which might seem to happen a lot, if one reads Realms fiction, but in daily life in the Realms simply doesn’t occur often).
So the amount of influence any faith has over a union, once it exists, is really up to the married couple, and which clergy they go to for comfort, guidance, or aid. Unless the couple happen to be very wealthy, noble, politically prominent, or involved in some potential dramatic event (for instance, leading a large mercenary army or carrying a deadly plague or mighty artifact), most clergy are usually simply too busy administering to faithful who DO come to them, daily, to go out and seek anyone.
And, yes, married partners customarily do go to clergy of this deity about this matter (having a child, for instance) and that deity for another (success in business, or good crop yields). Just as a real-world sick person who has access and the resources to do so can and will consult more than one doctor. There’s nothing morally wrong with this, in general (though it might anger or exasperate some priests), because the simultaneous belief in, and existence and influence of, multiple deities is the Realms norm. The only time of strong influence over a union that most clergy have, with most unions, is when they are being formed (“If you desire to be wed before Tempus, and enjoy his holy blessing, he expects this and that and thus”).
Yet I blather overmuch. Back to the novel!


So saith Ed. Who DOES think about all of this stuff, folks. Really.
love to all,

You're very welcome, both of you. Here's a swift reply from Ed, to this from Blueblade: "
Hi, THO, another quick question for Ed: I've heard you were mightily impressed by the Eye of Flame mini from the forthcoming Dungeons of Dread set, at D&D Exp. Anything more you can say about this, Ed? As in, impressed how? BB"
Ed replies:


It was large, nicely sculpted, and a pleasure to hold and handle.
Which are words, come to think of it, that I could easily apply to certain features of the lovely THO and . . . other things. I'll say no more on THAT topic, though, because of course she could start applying those words to yet other things, too.
THO has sent me a large collection of your Realmslore requests, and I'll get to them, at least one of them quite soon.


So saith Ed. Who is deep in ARCH WIZARD (the sequel to DARK LORD, his first Falconfar book). I don't know what his next Realms-related work is, as of right now.
love to all,


On March 28, 2008 THO said:- Hello, all. Naeryndam recently posted this: “THO-I just have a quick question thats been bugging me for awhile. What did the Netherese accent sound like and is it comparable to any languages or dialects in our own world?
Thank you for your time, Naeryndam”
Now, I hadn’t the faintest re. the right answer to this one, since we Knights very seldom ran into anyone speaking ancient Netherese that wasn’t a lich intoning a spell (and spell incantations need not sound much like everyday speech), so I handed it straight on to Ed, and here’s his reply:


No, Netherese is not directly comparable to any real-world language or dialect. However, it’s hard to describe it meaningfully except in terms of real-world languages. It sounded lilting and smooth-flowing (lots of liquid sounds but few hisses and no glottal stops or tongue-clicks), so a slight touch of Irish and Spanish in sound, and it had the “gwuh” sound heard in Cree and the Ojibway tongues and the rolled “r” sound heard in French. Individual words could be uttered, or long strings of phrases (the “sentence” was far less emphasized than in English of the last two centuries). A soft (not hissing) “s” sound was part of ancient Netherese, but a hard “k” sound was not. And so on.


So saith Ed. Whose ancient Netherese is a bit rusty.
(Though he DID create Netheril.)
love to all,

 Hello, all. I flipped the last few posts to Ed, and got back this lightning-swift reply for Markustay:


"Goblin Mountain" is Troy Denning's creation. When we were writing that book, Troy plotted and divvied up the chapters, we wrote separately, and then put everything together and lightly over-wrote. At the time, I worked out all to to-ing and fro-ing "after the fact," and concluded that Goblin Mountain (which is the name of the fortress thanks to its shape, NOT a pre-existing mountain) is, yes, on the southern edge of the Stonelands.
I should mention that most of the published maps of Cormyr screw up the northern reaches of the realm. Those who've examined the Haunted Halls of Eveningstar know that JUST north of the east-west road in that village is a cliff that's broken by a gorge bringing the stream down into the village. Atop those cliffs are stone-walled pasturelands, that soon peter out into rolling wilderland scrub forest/moors, that soon give way to breakneck ravines and bare rock shoulders, like Canadian Shield country in the real-world. That's where the Stonelands begin. In what most of the foldout maps show as miles upon miles of apparently bare empty space.


So saith Ed. Who I know from years of playing in the Realms means that the Stonelands begin right at those cliffs, pastures and all. The goblin fortress was quite a small mountain-shaped spire, up on top of the cliffs, about half a mile back from the southern edge (but NOT due north of Eveningstar).
Hope this helps!


On March 29, 2008 THO said:- Hello again, all. Dalor, Ed's a little puzzled re. your question about "African type cultures," being as that continent has, over the centuries, be home to darned near EVERY sort of culture. Do you mean the sort of jungle or savannah "hunter-gatherer tribal" that most European explorers of the colonial era encountered, or . . . ?
This is, of course, completely distinct from asking "where dark or dusky-skinned peoples can be found, in the Realms." The answer to THAT (quickly consulting all of my Ed-generated notes) is: almost everywhere, thanks to trade, flee-strife migrations, and the numerous regions where such human racial tendencies were strong through environment and breeding, such as Chult, the Tashalar, Turmish, parts of the Shaar, and much of the Old Empires.
Also, I bring a response from Ed to Markustay:


There's no real pass through the Stormhorns anywhere north of "settled Cormyr." The Stonelands stand as an unbroken barrier to north-south travel, except by air or clambering. There ARE east-west routes through the Stonelands, used by the Zhentarim (Yellow Snake Pass, et al). There are, however, many narrow, winding ravines and a handful of larger "gorges" that carry watercourses down out of the Stonelands into Cormyr, below, and these form routes up into the heart of the Stonelands . . . but not THROUGH the Stonelands.
If you're familiar with the Appalachian Mountains in the American state of Pennsylvania, where mountains form a series of parallel ridges with deep valleys between, and the bare-rock-covered-by-scrub-pine-forests Canadian Shield country, then you have a fair mental picture of the Stonelands. Agile climbers, and aerial creatures, can readily pass through it, but no large armed force can journey through it in any sort of formation, and NO horse-mounted travelers (even drow pack lizards, if one got them to the surface and somehow used to the light, would have a tough time on the precipitous, loose-gravel slopes).
In DOTD, the goblins dwell IN the Stonelands and swarm down out of them, and no forces that can't fly (no one except the ghazneths and the Devil Dragon) pass through the Stonelands . . . unless some drastic editing happened to that book that I don't recall. What in the text led you to believe there was a pass through the Stormhorns? (If a griffon-rider above Suzail looked north, he might think there was a pass, but only because he couldn't see the hundreds of knife-sharp, east-west ridges of the Stonelands filling the gaps between the higher peaks.)


So comments and asks Ed (who LOVES your maps, BTW, Markustay; please don't take this as criticism on his part). Over to you . . .

More than a month back, tauster asked some aboleth questions in this thread. Despite tauster’s subsequent assurances that 4e would play no part in his campaign plans, Ed retreated behind his NDAs to try to see how much he could answer (no doubt in light of the Abolethic Sovereignty matter that has since come to light), but has obviously decided he can now answer at least the first two questions (additional answers to follow at some later date, he assures me): “Here are my questions (and sorry for them to be so drawn-out!):
1) When an aboleth consumes someone, he gains all (!) the knowledge of that individual, and when aboleth spawn, their offspring inherits all (!) of their parents’ knowledge. I cannot begin to imagine how vast their intellect must be and how quickly this mechanism might lead to intellects that unbalance these creatures, making them far too clever to be used as villains. At least this feature was countered in 3rd editions “Lords of Madness” by stating that their ancestral knowledge is not readily accessible and has to be searched for specific facts in protracted mind-wanderings. Still, when a whole city of aboleth comes up with a plan for world domination, I expect it to be quite bullet-proof.
...and now finally comes my question: What kind of spellcasters would they have kidnapped, and where? My take was that they would spread the kidnappings all over Faerun to avoid “spikes” that can be too easily detected, and I had them concentrate on “common” reasons for disappearance to cover their actions: adventuring bands or lone travelling individuals or wandering small groups like bands of priests travelling from one temple to another. Anything you could add? What native groups would they blame?

2) Would the gods of the realms get upset when their priests get kidnapped, and how would they react? I know it depends on the size of their followers as well as how much each individual god involves himself in mortal affairs, so the question can’t be answered in general. How is your take on Shaundakul (very small following, around 400 realms-wide according to Faiths and Avatars), Tempus, Chauntea, Tymora, Bane, Cyric, Xvim? I know that’s a lot, but a small note for each is enough. Apart from the gods themselves, how do the churches react, both on an intra- and interreligious level? Form joint search and rescue teams or hire adventuring bands (like they do so often)?”
Ed replies:

In everything I say hereafter, please bear in mind that I am speaking in generalities and stereotypes; my replies might well “break down” when applied to specific individuals.
Aboleths have minds that are broad in scope; they can “keep track of” many more things at once than the average human mind, and retain clear “photographic scenes” memories, including smells and tastes. They can also count and manipulate volumes and numeric amounts with great accuracy. They recall their own previous experiences and pay attention to foes, potential rivals, and potentially useful creatures. That does NOT mean they are any better at intuition, hunches, and creative leaps than, say, humans, elves, or Halflings. They may SEEM to be better, because of the greater mind-powers I have already outlined; certainly they can “multi-task” far better than most humans, especially under stress, without being overwhelmed or forgetting/overlooking something vital.
The great weight of accumulated “acquired” memories CAN overwhelm, which is why they get mentally shielded away from the aboleth’s own thinking and personal memories. Moreover, only the strongest emotions and judgments get retained along with ‘acquired’ memories; the vast majority of ‘acquired’ memories are like a large, unsorted pile of someone else’s unlabelled family photographs: each can be examined, and some sense made of them when they are arranged and considered, but the aboleth needs TIME to do that sorting, and otherwise just gets a humble of unidentified, out-of-context images.
Moreover, aboleths get very upset (mentally agitated) when bombarded with too many conflicting and varied emotions at once, and seek to avoid situations where this will occur (I do NOT mean they get upset by a large band of humans all hating and fearing them at once; I mean they would get upset if that same large band was loudly and fervently experiencing a large range of emotions [joy, jeering, sadness, awe, etc. as well as hatred and fear]).
So aboleths aren’t quite the unfettered geniuses one might think. They have the power to be, yes, but they also have an inherent personal vanity and jealousness that keeps them working together only superficially, not deeply trusting each other and wholeheartedly brainstorming together for the common good.
With all of that said, you are quite correct to posit that aboleths would kidnap isolated spellcasters all across the Realms to avoid being identified as the cause of the disappearances (“avoid the spike”). They would also concentrate on arcane spellcasters because they are quite wise enough to know that deities would get upset if many priests were lost (so the only priests targeted would be a few aging hermits and priests who were part of adventuring bands). The aboleths would seek to have the Zhentarim and “rival adventurers” or brigands framed for such disappearances, but prefer to just have the disappearances remain as mysterious as possible, leaving it to humans and others to concoct their own explanations through prejudice and rumor.
If choices of priests arose, aboleths are quite perceptive enough to know that the faith of Tymora (with its emphasis on luck) is a fairly “safe” target, if not too many priests are taken, and Bane and Cyric are also safe because they care little for the fate of individual priests (who are constantly doing each other in, anyway). However, to reiterate: the aboleths would prefer not to take divine spellcasters at all, concentrating instead on arcane spellcasters. If they “plant” scrolls and items seized from these to lure additional spellcasters and some such “lures” don’t result in more spellcasters coming within their reach, they can even expect this “spread of magic” to keep Azuth and Mystra off their scaly backs for a time.
And yes, the loss of priests in remote areas and while adventuring would indeed bring a response from the mortal clergy of hiring adventurers to go and investigate (and magically scrying on said “investigators” from afar, to see what happens to them and ascertain how diligently they fulfill their hired-for mission).


So saith Ed. Who is happily busy with more new “future Realms goodness,” but can see the dark cloud of his annual income taxes looming, like a sinister monster that cannot be avoided . . .
love to all,

Okay, MY turn, fellas. Off these all go to Ed. In the interim, here's what I recall from play in the "home" Realms campaign: fogs are surprisingly rare in Suzail; the breezes tend to blow from the shore out to sea, as far as I can best recall.
I also remember lots of steeply-pitched roofs, and a lot of slate and tile roofs. Spires, not so much.
And I ALSO recall more than one rooftop chase, and a lot of falling off roofs. Damp, slippery roofs. One chase in a wild lightning storm, with blinding rain. I fell through a skylight and dropped in uninvited on a supper revel during that one (Ed does hilarious pratfall DMing VERY well )

Hello again. Kentinal, from playing in the "home" Realms campaign (and scrambling around the Canadian Shield country myself, at Ed's cottage and elsewhere) I know what he meant: lizards large enough for humans to use as steeds, or as pack animals, would suffer slips and tumble-falls until a trail was cleared, because the sparse soil clinging to the rocks, and loose gravel filling many of the thousands upon thousands of clefts in the rocks, would "slip" (and take them with it) as they climbed across it.
So how long it would take to clear a trail would depend on how many lizards and cargoes (or riders) you wanted to sacrifice. Once cleared, a trail would remain clear until major avalanches or windstorms brought a lot more gravel, but would become treacherous every fall (ice) and remain that way throughout every winter.

Also, to Dalor: I don't think Ed was pointing out the diversity in Realms cultures/civilizations, I think he was pointing out that real-world Africa has hosted all sorts of cultures and civilizations, so what did you mean by "Africa type" (or "African-like")? Almost every sort of human society has existed in Africa at one time or another, from nomadic hunting societies to full-scale communal agriculture to marsh and lake subsistence fishing to slave-labor-based theocracies and even warlord empires. I suspect Ed was asking what sort, out of all of these, you were looking for.

Kentinal, I'll hand the blindfolded lizards question on to Ed for a proper reply. The Canadian Shield country Ed refers to is rolling, scoured-smooth by glaciers "roots of ancient mountains" rock, but broken, since, by annual freeze-thaw cycles (rainwater and spring meltwater seeps into cracks, freezes in winter, expands and widens those cracks, breaking off many small rock particles to form an endlessly-renewed supply of gravel, the cracks become crevasses and caves, and some of the rocks above collapse into them, there are eventual rocksides and even collapses of cliff-faces, crashing down to reveal a new cliff-face, behind . . . in short, there will always be "loose rock" that can cause lizards to lose their grip.
Great monster-lurking and outlaw country, but not good for any caravan or army to try to travel through, in any sort of order or keeping to any sort of straight (ish) route.


On March 30, 2008 THO said:-  Hello again, all. I bring replies from Ed to Michael Lum of Skyhaven Games, and to dravenloft:
First, to Michael:

Thanks very much for the invite, Michael, but it’s highly unlikely I’ll ever again attend conventions in December, January, or February. Winters in my part of the world have simply become too harsh to risk leaving my wife (who’s over seventy) alone in a farmhouse that frequently gets snowed in and loses power (and without me around to chop wood or smash the woodpile free of ice and carry logs in, she’d freeze to death), to drive on impassable roads some 120 miles to one of the world’s worst airports (Pearson, in Toronto). It’s all just no longer worth it. In 2008, I’ll probably end up attending only four conventions, total; I’m just too busy these days to break off work. Sorry!

And to dravenloft’s query: Lady THO -- I must say, it sounds as though it is a pleasure for anyone with the honour to know you. (take that as ye will ).
I have a question for Ed, or yourself if it ever came up in the games.
What do the children of the Heartlands favour for toys? Especially Cormyr and the Dales, but any of that entire region is likely to come up.
I mean I'm picturing little clockwork dragons and cuddly stuffed cutsified owlbears and that's where my brain starts to break. Just generally what're the little folk of the lands fond of playing with and likely to be given for gifts (this last part especially, I'm fond of Lliiran clerics and have a habit of getting St Nick whims).”
Ed replies:


For common folk everywhere, the most common toys by far are small whittled wooden warriors, wizards, and dragons (followed by divers other monsters) and larger whittled dolls, often princes and princesses, dressed in clothes sewn from scraps of old rag. These are followed in popularity by “marbles” made of rounded stones, whittled-down nuts, frozen berries in winter, and, yes, blown glass, and by carved wooden toy swords.
Going a “step up” in terms of expense: elaborately-sewn, stuffed with scented herbs and ward-sick charms “hearth faeries” for cuddle-in-bed toys (these are often retained into adulthood, and for using as pillows, hugging, etc.); cast metal “little warriors” (what we would call model soldiers), dragon and other monster figurines that are large, well-painted, cast from metal, and assembled with articulated joints so they can be “posed.” Then there are knight-and-horse large figurines that are even more realistically modeled and painted, with real hair inserted, etc. Temples of Gond sell very expensive little clockwork toys, such as “revolving egg” jewelboxes that play tunes (metallic mechanical musical boxes with jewelry drawers, topped by upright ovoid “castle” or “cavern” that have several layers that rotate within each other by clockwork, so that “doors” in their sides slide open to reveal elaborately-detailed sculpted and painted scenes inside, such as feasts in castles, men fighting each other with swords, skeletons escaping manacles in a dungeon, etc.) and “marching warriors” (the familiar “walking soldier with windup key in his back”). In some large cities, a few crafters make large stuffed lions, cute dragons, and other “cuddle toys” that children can use as pillows, sleeping bags, play-steeds, and “friends.”
Next most popular among common folk are, I’m afraid, slingshots. :}


So saith Ed. Who is still very busy with novel writing, but is trying to get back to some of the neglected recent questions, ere he turns back into the archives and REALLY rolls up his sleeves .

On March 31, 2008 THO said:-  Hello again, all. Lovely questions, Zandilar; off to Ed they go!
This time I bring to the assembled scribes Ed’s response to this query from maransreth: “I couldn't find anything about this when searching, so thought to ask here. Question came about when doing parts of the house that needed work, especially the nursery.
What deities do the average craftsperson venerate? For example painters, carpenters, bricklayers, etc. Does it depend upon region, vocation, etc?”

Ed replies:

Almost all intelligent, civilized creatures across the Realms actively venerate a variety of deities. Only priests, paladins, would-be priests, and a few lay worshippers cleave to only one deity; the great majority of folk in the Realms, during their day, pray to and make offerings to a dozen or more deities.
For example, if your painter was starting a new project, he might pray to Lathander as the sun came up, then pray to Tymora for good fortune during the working day before tackling any important task (like blending pigments to match a hue exactly). If he had to devise anything (like a hoist to lift a bucket of paint into a high corner, or scaffolding to keep himself or another painter up in that corner, too), he might stop and pray to Gond. When the working day was done and he was about to purchase food on the way home for the next day’s meals (or his own evening meal if he lived alone and wasn’t going home to someone else who had an evening meal ready for him), he’d pray to Chauntea that “good” vegetables, cheeses, and breads be available to him. And so on.
It’s important NOT to think of the Realms in terms of real-world monotheism. Everyone in the Realms “believes in” ALL the gods.


So saith Ed. Patiently explaining the Realms everywhere, as the years pass.
love to all,

 Oh, no, you don't, Blueblade!
He's adopting ME, first! And, I believe, most of the ladies who work with him at the library, who plaintively ask him to do so whenever he brings in his latest goodies for them to eat, and they're peeved at their husbands or kin.
Plus more than a few beautiful young things at conventions, who've sat in his lap and asked him that same question you just did.
So I hope you're a lot more young, female, and beautiful than I know you are, or you're outta luck, buddy . . .

love (no, really!),

Faraer, I'm not sure about exactly like D&D leather armour (I'll wait for Ed to reply on that), but I can confirm that "leathers" is indeed Realms colloquial for leather armour (more specifically, one's own, form-fitted armour).
And believe me, Ed wants to visit the Sceptered Isle again, as soon as he has time. (For one thing, his wife was born and grew up in Surrey.) It's the time and money that are the inevitable rubs, these days.

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