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 and Bradley Russo, presenting all Ed's responses and omitting other posters discussions which followed.

So saith Ed

(Answers from Ed Greenwood)

Apr - Jun 2008

On April 1, 2008 THO said:- Hi again, all. Now, now, Jamallo, Ed does not think it is necessarily "safe" to discuss aboleths. Note that he only answered PART of tauster's question, thus far; he is VERY carefully dancing around the still-in-force NDAs (and yes, your mention of Bruce shows me you can guess why they exist). However, Ed DOES have those questions of yours (he e-showed them to me two days back), so rest assured you're not forgotten!
This time, however, I bring Ed of the Greenwood’s Realmslore reply to this question, from Uzzy: “Do the War Wizards and other groups who defend the Obarskyrs rely upon clerical divinations such as Commune to ask various gods if an attempt is going to be made on the monarch's life? If so, which gods would they contact, what exactly would they ask, who would they have asking it and how often would it occur?
Thanks in advance Ed.”
Ed replies:


At first blush, many an observer would reason that they would make heavy use of divinations, and Purple Dragon Knight quite rightly pointed out that the Wizards of War do rely heavily on “mind-reaming” (my colloquial term for a variety of thought-reading spells that require the direct presence of the person whose mind is being peeked into, or the establishment of a prior link with that person, such as getting them to wear enspelled earrings or something of the sort against their skin).
However, the War Wizards do NOT use clerical divinations to try to anticipate any events, because it’s been actively discouraged for centuries. The elves who had to deal with Baerauble subtly hinted to him again and again that it was unlucky to call on the gods for such reasons, and even dangerous, because it would “let the dragons back in” (i.e. that the Purple Dragon and other elder, very powerful dragons would seize upon the spells to mentally influence the casters, to the point of mentally enslaving them - - though the casters WOULDN’T EVEN NOTICE). This was all hogwash (the elves just didn’t want the human interlopers to fall into the habit of using divine aid in consolidating any hold on Cormyr, or making divinations easy and routine enough to become used for regular spying on elven doings), but Baerauble had no safe way of making certain of that.
This discouragement was actively supported by Azuth and Mystra (the only entities Baerauble dared pray to for guidance), because they want to promote the use of arcane magic by everyone, NOT increase the reliance of any segment of the population - - least of all arcane spellcasters - - on thinking of “turning to the gods” any more than they all do, already, on a daily basis. In other words, rely more on the gods, and priests will always find a reason why you shouldn’t yourself pursue arcane magical studies or use, and instead turn to (and pay) them to handle all your magical needs.
So long before Vangerdahast (who doesn’t want to share power with, or trust, anyone, least of all Cormyr’s current crop of all too corrupt and self-serving high priests [note: I don’t mean they all are, I mean too many of that sort of person dominates the loftier ranks of clergy in the Forest Kingdom, as we saw at the end of DEATH OF THE DRAGON]) got into the saddle and started running the War Wizards his way, we had a situation where any War Wizard would instinctively shun using Commune or other “check in with the gods” magics to guide them in anything.
If they’re truly stumped, you might well see a local War Wizard using an intermediary to make an offering at a temple for a casting, to report back what befell, but it would be a great rarity - - and usually employed only when the War Wizard in question has reason not to trust fellow War Wizards (for example, investigating possible corruption within the Wizards of War).


So saith Ed. Creator of Cormyr, the War Wizards, Vangerdahast, and oh, yes, Azuth and Mystra, too.
love to all,

althen artren, *I* fell in love with the Srinshee long ago. I just queried Ed, who told me the Srinshee is under NDA at the moment . . . which in itself should tell you something. I promise that I will pester him often so that the very MOMENT he can share something about her, here, he will.
And I can be VERY persuasive when I want to be. (She said innocently.)

 Hello, all.
dravenloft, I consulted with Ed, and gathered this:
Ed didn't mention enchanted toys because you asked what children were "likely" to be given, and so Ed rattled off the most popular toys. Only the children of the wealthy and a few not-quite-wealthy-enough-but-status-conscious (impoverished nobles, wannabe nobles, courtiers) are likely to get enchanted toys.
Yes, they CAN be dangerous (and the target of thefts, because kids tend to boast about their toys, and word spreads), but not usually. Most toy enchantments are feeble and carefully limited; some are even crafted so as to "wear out" after a time.
In Realms fiction, we tend to focus on royalty, nobility, officials, and other wealthy and important folk, so you, the reader, see more magic than many common folk ever do.

 Helloa agin, all.
This time I speak unto Marusktay, re. matters cartographic and Cormyrean:
Worg Pass is indeed the way through the Stormhorns via High Horn, and the High Heath is the region around Huthduth. The "unreliable pass" is a climb for much of its way, passable only by skilled climbers, not even by pack mules (the origin of the name "Mule Ears" being where the mules laid their ears flat and refused to proceed; a very clever naming on Troy Denning's part). Again, you have the location right.
However, the Forgotten Keep is NOT Ironguard. Ironguard is a tomb complex with almost nothing aboveground to gain any sort of name. The "Forgotten Keep" is a ruined shell of a long-abandoned (except by monsters, heh-heh) castle from the days when Cormyr's rule in the northern lands was tenuous, at best.
As for getting your hands on Ed's original Cormyr map: you and me both! It's somewhere in some of the many boxes in Ed's basement, from his long-ago, exhausting move (one man, a rented cube van, some 40,000 books plus comics plus papers, a bent axle on the van from all the weight of said cargo . . . then Ed collapsed :} ).
And as for the praise for your maps: merely credit where 'tis due, Ed says. You do great work, and good service unto us all (Realms scribes).

Oh, Markustay, one more thing from me: aboleths interest me very little as a "roll up and fight 'em" monster, but if run as Ed does, wherein they lurk unseen behind the scenes and work through manipulated, unwitting mind-influenced (not controlled; that'd be far too unsubtle) agents, whilst also mentally eavesdropping on PCs or anyone else delving too closely into their operations . . . THEN they become fun indeed. Especially if they tangle with illithids or alhoon trying to do the same thing. A campaign can become conspiracy-theory-hell for PCs!


On April 2, 2008 THO said:-  Hi again, everyone.
Markustay, the Forgotten Keep and Ironguard ARE very close to each other, but there’s a good quarter-day of hard travel in between them, unless you know PRECISELY the best route, because there are so many of the trademark knife-edged ridges-with-breakneck-ravines between, separating the two. In other words, to travel horizontally a quite short distance, you have to travel a long way up and down (in many stages, all of them uncomfortable climbing or slithering/falling).
As for sneaking in “The Greenwood,” sure, why not? Ed has always avoided naming anything in the Realms after himself, but when the City System boxed set came out, almost all of the TSR staffers whose names hadn’t already been added to the FR1 maps got immortalized in the city maps that came in that box, so Ed, who created the whole shooting match, should get SOMETHING. I’ll ping him, and if he strongly objects, I’ll let you know RIGHT away; if you hear no swift missive from me to the contrary, take it as a “yes.”
In Realmslore, this time, I bring you Ed’s response to Charles Phipps, specifically a question from back in January: “Ed, how common are Deities mating with mortals? Furthermore, how common are the offspring of such unions? Are they, in your opinion, 0-Level Deities or more like Half-Fiends/Celestials or Aasimarr and Tieflings?”
Ed replies:


In the Realms, deities mate with mortals for fun and to produce specific offspring. They do the former (often in magical disguise) often, and the latter very rarely. So the offspring of such unions are rare indeed, in part because producing such offspring always “bleeds” a little divine power away from the divine parent, and deities instinctively want to avoid this. Also, any deity who cares to investigate the past histories of such unions will discover that the offspring are always rebelliously self-willed, as in: defy the divine parent if they know about that parent, rarely become friends or allies of the divine parent, and all too often become active foes of the divine parent. If the deity takes care during the mating, they can often control the nature of the offspring (so a DM can have it be just about anything, including all the possibilities you list). If the deity does not, offsprings tend to be “deity material” in starting power.
Of course, some deities would want to destroy any mortal who knew or openly conjectured even the paltry few words I’ve set down here. Be warned . . . :}


So saith Ed. The Great God Santa Claus of the Realms . . .
(Oops, I blaspheme again. Whip me, someone. Please?)
love to all,

Oh, and while I'm waiting for said punishment, a thought occurreth to me, Markustay: in the two novels you mention (the first penned by Troy, the second by Troy and Ed), reflect on all the Stonelands trips mentioned, implied, and described, and think of how many were small groups of individuals who could use magic (teleports due to being a War Wizard or using a War Wizard cloak or ring enabling teleports to known destinations within and without the Stonelands (note that all Highknights and Obarskyrs will normally have both the cloaks and the rings, and many nobles have their own versions of the rings). Mounted forces or larger military forces of any sort can't use these "swift shortcuts," and have to struggle through the Stonelands, which is hard going east-west, and VERY hard and slow going, north-south.

Hi again, all. tauster and Hoondatha, Ed and I discussed THE NIGHT BELOW extensively when it came out, as it happens (a friend of mine, whom Ed had never met, was trying to launch a game designing career and wanted to hear Ed's take on Carl Sargent's adventure), and at the time Ed said the aboleth would stay hidden from the PCs for as long as possible (as in: years, if they could swing it), and in the meantime goad and lure the PCs by means of unwitting intermediaries, arranged events, etc. to "aim" the PC party at all aboleth foes and other rulers/trading networks/power groups/etc. the aboleths wanted destroyed or weakened. In other words, treat the adventuring party as a tool, then dispose of them (by sending other adventuring parties or handy Underdark foes) when they became superfluous or too dangerous or had Learned Too Much. Aboleth really work best as long-term Prime Mover Villains, Ed and I agree . . .


On April 3, 2008 THO said:- Hello again, everyone. This time I bring Ed’s response to this sizzling query from Charles Phipps: “Who’s the most depraved and villainous noble family in Cormyr and/or Waterdeep? Who and how?”
Upon a query from me, Charles refined this to: “To narrow the group a bit; let's keep it to currently in existence, entitled, and still maintaining power families. Though I welcome any particular infamous or exiled extras that Ed wants to point in. If you can describe the nature of the crimes for the living empowered ones, it'd be a treat too.”
Rinonalyrna Fathomlin then quite rightly assumed this: “I'd assume there aren't many human families where every single member is evil.”
Ed agrees, and replies to Charles as follows:


To begin with, everyone’s campaign may vary from this, due to differing unfolding events, and let me place a further caveat: different moral codes judge “amount” or “degrees” of evil differently, so we can end up with: more numerous evil acts, more family members engaged in evildoing, “worse” evil versus milder evils, and reputation; as in, what the wider world knows of villainies, and therefore judges evildoing (the not-yet-caught seeming better or even good and innocent, as opposed to the widely-known-to-be-dastardly).
So this time I’m going to wear my omniscient Realms Creator hat, balance all of these value judgements and so on in my own way (for instance, I happen to think deliberately-begun open war is more villainous than treason with an intended coup, because more folk are likely to, or can be expected to, suffer), and tell you what I KNOW to be the truth (various folk in the Realms may not agree with what I say here because they know less than I do).
So with all of that said, here we go:

The most depraved and villainous still existing, still titled, and still in power noble family in Cormyr are the Illances.
Although a large number of Illances are fine, upstanding citizens guilty of no more than a certain sneering pride, a belief that most laws should apply rather lightly to them, and frequent drawling observances that the Obarskyrs are hopeless at ruling Cormyr and really should step aside, or at least rethink their crazed tax system and do away with the tiresome War Wizards (which, BTW, makes them no different than most of the long-established noble families), there are some REAL darkhearts in the Illance family, who have managed to keep most of their villainies secret even from their own kin.
Foremost among these is Faerndol, an aging, grossly fat uncle of the clan who delights in the rape and torture of young boys and girls, but is careful to undertake his elaborate journeys of kidnappings and “pleasures” in Sembia, Turmish, and Chessenta rather than at home (he owns and rents numerous properties in all three lands, for these and other nefarious purposes). His particular delight, however, centers on kidnapping the newborn babes of other Cormyrean nobles (other kidnapped babies are substituted), so he can rear them in secret, in a trio of small backland keeps near Starmantle, for his eventual “enjoyment.”
Faerndol keeps his lusty side very secret, but involves some of his evil Illance kin in his other pursuits, which include land and city property procurements through usury and foreclosures, after arranging “accidents” to befall his debtors so they can’t pay him back in a timely manner (to hamper War Wizard scrutiny, he always works through layers of intermediaries, along with his kin Orthil, Klarndarl, and Maethmar). All of them regularly use poison, drugs, and disease-inducing potions purchased in the Old Empires as weapons in these latter pursuits - - and in “silencing” the various evil mages they secretly hire to work for them, for short periods (removing such persons before the War Wizards can track them down and learn too much from them, and before any of them can get ideas about manipulating or blackmailing any Illances).
So energetic are the villainies of these relatively few aging but still magically-made-handsome Illance males that they win their family the “most depraved and villainous.” Matters aren’t helped by the young Illance aunts Naobrae and Zarele indulging rich sadistic urges by founding a secret temple to Loviatar, and using acid, fingernail-splints, and whippings of salted bare flesh daily on “willing supplicants,” most of whom are unwilling, gagged and bound kidnapped Sembians. They hire Sembian “snatch gangs” to take street orphans, young errand lads, and other not-likely-to-be-missed younglings for these pursuits, but aren’t above kidnapping the entire female staff of a Selgauntan bakery after setting it afire, caring nothing for damage to the neighborhood but merely pleased that they can spirit away all of the bakers as “burned to nothing in the raging flames.” Naobrae and Zarele are beginning to investigate necromancy, using these secret slaves to experiment upon, and with an eye to eventually augmenting and renewing their own bodies.
Most Illances think Naobrae and Zarele are “weird” and that Uncle Faerndol is a hard man who can “fix” problems (or knows who to contact to take care of shady little problems), and have no idea just what is going on behind their backs. Before the events of ELMINSTER’S DAUGHTER, Vangerdahast had an increasingly good idea of the true villainy of certain Illances, and was beginning to dare to occasionally have War Wizards “just blast things” by “accident” to see if he could provoke Faerndol into too open a response. Faerndol was too cunning for that, and Vangey warned Caladnei (and Azoun and Filfaeril) just what certain Illances were capable of, and warned them to back off and just watch the Illances “like hungry hawks.” Which is what they’re doing right now. (Cue sinister organ chords as this is handed over to DMs everywhere.)

The most depraved and villainous still existing, still titled, and still in power noble family in Waterdeep are the Sultlues.
Long ago (and, secretly, still!) among the largest Waterdhavian slavers, they regularly dabble in cannibalism (eating cooked slaves secretly prepared in various ways, and delighting in serving cuts of roast slave to unwitting dinner guests, such as other nobles and Lords of the city) and in magical transformations of slaves into all manner of beasts, including beasts of burden that they use or sell, food and breeding stock animals that they sell to others, “body doubles” of hated rivals or lusted-after persons that they torture or make love to, beings with exaggerated physical body parts that they use for sexual purposes or as objects of fun, for private feast-time “entertainment,” and as “spare parts” for their own aging or wounded bodies. They experiment with drugs, poisons, and scents on slaves so as to refine ever-stronger concoctions for sale up and down the Sword Coast, and (through intermediaries) sell “body double” slaves to others who want to frame particular persons for crimes, accomplish kidnappings without getting caught (by substituting the slave for the snatched person), and have recently dabbled in sending slaves to foes that they can cause to explode (and in the blast emit deadly bags of nails that have earlier been sewn into the slaves’ bodies, etc.).
In short, they are thoroughly depraved, consider themselves above all laws, and take great care to amass all manner of magic items, hired wizards, and caged monsters so that they can escape if the Lords’ justice ever “comes for them.”
The most energetic of these darkhearts are the elder Sultlue uncles Darrambur and Pelmaer, and their sister Jaszmaeril.
It should be noted that certain family members (including the patriarch Asbrior, his wife Pera, and their young daughter, Taszeana, plus two of their five sons) are largely ignorant of the activities of their kin. These “innocents” also consider themselves above all laws, but know they shouldn’t get caught, and are themselves guilty only of small cruelties and swindles (and the secret keeping of personal bed-pleasure slaves). They know that some of their kin are up to “wildnesses” and “shady little pursuits,” and take care never to find out much about such matters - - which suits the darkhearts just fine.

Of course, ultimately, the published “official” Realms may vary from this. (Obviously, the 4e Realms, with nearly a century elapsing from “now,” will have brought changes, too.) Yet as of right now, seeing things with the keen eye of the man behind the curtain, here are your two “winning” families. :}


So saith Ed. Who has met truly evil people a time or two, and knows whereof he speaks.
love to all,


On April 4, 2008 THO said:- Hi again, fellow scribes. This time I bring you the words of Ed in response to Kajehase’s late January (08) query: “In one of the "deity-books" (can't remember which one, but I think Faiths & Pantheons) it says that dancing is a common artform among the clergy of Sune. Would it, based on that statement, be wrong to assume that, in at least some of the Sunite congregations, dancing have become part of some or maybe even all religious ceremonies? (For anyone interested in what I'm getting at, the thing that got me thinking about this was a TV-program about Balinese temple-dancers.)”
Ed replies:


It would indeed.
Joyous, swift-beat dancing (done barefoot, in warm surroundings or around a fire or brazier and within a ring of fires or braziers) involving non-raucous music (often a hand-drum and a female singer keening a rather erotic wordless melody) and hip-on-hip body contact between passing dancers, is a feature of most formal rituals to Sune. It often culminates in a joined-hands line dance, where the line snakes out of the ring and circles the interior wall of the worship chamber, before everyone flings themselves down to lie on their backs and regain their breath, and priests begin a prayer-chant.
And, yes, most temples have dancers who are beautiful, graceful, and accomplished mimes, so as to wordlessly tell stories or take the parts of beasts and monsters, as priests narrate holy tales of Sune.


So saith Ed. Who is still (very slowly) adding more and more detail to the churches of the Realms.
love to all,


On April 5, 2008 THO said:-  Hi again, scribes. This time I come bearing the words of Ed in answer to this interesting exchange:
Blueblade recently posted: “A fairly simple question from me this time, Ed and THO: if I get up high in Cormyr and look across the city, what are most of the "common buildings" that make up the city roofed with? The material, please, and configuration: steep pitched roofs? Lots of dormers? Lots of chimneys? Any spires and turrets on modest buildings? Downspouts? Thanks! BB”
Baleful Avatar then added: “Okay, I'd like to augment Blueblade's question!
Looking across "downtown" Suzail (I'm assuming Blueblade meant to say "Suzail" instead of Cormyr), at all of these roofs you're going to describe for him, my question is this: how easily can an agile, fit human, who's done this before but is in a bit of a hurry (*cough* perhaps being chased *cough*), travel from roof to roof? How easy is it to find and use long "chains" of roofs to cross large parts of the city? And when you run out of roof, how easy is it to climb down a typical building? Are there lots of wagons or stables one can leap partway down, onto? Thanks!”
Blueblade then responded: “Heh. Sorry. I did mean Suzail, yes.
An addendum? How well lit are the city roofs, at night? And how often are things hidden by shore fogs, rolling in from the harbor? Both from people staring up from below, and people running around on the rooftops?
Hmm. For that matter, how many people in Suzail use their rooftops for sleeping on really hot summer nights, roof gardens, laundry, etc.? Are there many level areas on roofs, even if small, for such purposes? Trapdoors? BB”
Whereupon yours truly (The Hooded One) posted: “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 ) love, THO”
Well, after all of this, Ed now replies:


THO’s recollections are indeed correct: fogs are rarer in Suzail than in many port cities, because of the prevailing breezes (strong winds are rare locally, except during out-and-out lashing storms), though they DO occur - - particularly if DMs see a plot need for them. ;}
Most of the buildings in the central city of Suzail (so I’m excluding the docks with their warehouses, the military bases, the closet-to-slum-like westernmost buildings, and everything north of the Promenade) now rise three to four floors above the street, are of stone or brick (or older stone patched and expanded with newer brick), and have steeply pitched roofs to shed snow and rain. (Rain IS frequent in Suzail, though local weather tends to brief, vigorous downpours followed by clearing, not “gray day after gray day” weather. In winter, wet snowfalls are frequent.) Balconies are found on upper floors, not within easy reach of thieves’ ladders from the street, spires are relatively rare, and there’s a new fashion for installing glass skylights (of three-overlapping-pane thickness, for strength). Most buildings have tile or slate roofs (wooden shingles are still found, but rot swiftly and tend to leak and offer rooftop clamberers very “spongy” footing), an along-the-roofpeak decoration (repeating ironwork pattern) of stout iron that can be used to anchor safety ropes while doing roof repairs, and corner downspouts. Climbers should NOT depend on the latter to support much weight as climbing ladders, nor swing from them (unless they want to come crashing down with the spout tearing away and coming down with them). In a storm, beware this, too: lightning rods are increasingly popular, and are found at both ends of a peaked roof - - connected directly to the downspouts!
Dormers are increasingly common, and rooftop window-box gardens for herbs and “pipeleaf” with them. Dormers with the windows open are used for hot-weather sleeping, not “lying out on the open roof” (just because level areas on roofs are too rare and too small for this practice to be safe or popular). Trapdoors are found on almost all roofs, but these are sealed from below with gums or pitch to prevent leaking, and securedly barred shut; rooftop clamberers should not expect to easily (and NEVER stealthily) force entrance into the building below by means of them. Laundry does often get strung from balconies or high-windowsill spars to adjacent balconies or high-windowsill spars, but is rarely “above” roofs (except in the aforementioned westernmost hovels), and very few roofs are well lit at night, or overlooked by higher lights that provide any rooftop illumination.
And finally: yes, a daring and agile being can use long sequences of rooftops as a “highway” of sorts; as the Suzail map shows, the distances between buildings allows for such travel in many routes across the city.
Climbing down buildings when you “run out of roof” can be deadly difficult in wet weather; in hot weather, open window-shutters and the like often aid in breaking a fall or jump into stages, or slowing it down by “snatch-grabs” (snatch on way past, then let go before dislocating arm, but the grab still slows the fall somewhat). Leaping down into wagontops is all too popular a practice, but usually ends in severe injury for the jumper (and, of course, damages the wagon and/or its contents, too). Handy stable roofs are not common in Suzail, but many buildings that back onto alleys have sloping roofs on their additions or to cover exterior doorways from the rain, that can (again, suffering damage in the process) lessen a fall or leap from above by providing a “partway down” surface to slam into, and bounce off of.
The “classical” descent method used by thieves in Suzail was to carry coils of oiled cord; one end went around a chimney (yes, chimneys ARE abundant) or the roofpeak decoration, the thief used a “body belay” (around their own body) to unwind the coil as slowly as possible to break the rate of fall, and then the cord either broke under the thief’s weight so as to result in a fall from far less a height than just leaping off the top of the building, or the thief touched down, cut the cord, and vanished into the night with the remainder of the cord (so it could be used in the NEXT descent).
BTW: don’t try any of this stuff in real life (and I’ll not be responsible for the broken necks or pelvises of those who do). There’s a reason we call the Realms “fantasy,” folks.


So saith Ed. Builder of Suzail. And its weather, too.
(By the way, when he warns all scribes not to try any of this: HE did, when much younger and slimmer. In his cave-exploring phase, he also did a lot of roof climbing on the mansions of Don Mills. He used to retreat from the noise of his sisters (when they were very young things) by quietly going up onto the roof, with a good book.
love to all,

 Heh-heh. True enough, Wooly dearest.
However, Rhauligan made most of his sales north of the Promenade, where rich nobles live, and particularly northwest of it, where it hooks northwards, and the rich but non-noble "wannabe nobles" dwell. To quote Ed's notes:

There he has been kept quite busy, over the years, festooning already ostentatious mansions with new turrets, new tops for existing turrets, and soaring little outlying towers linked to the original fabric by flying buttresses galore.

So saith Ed. Architect of the Realms, creator of Suzail and Rhauligan and the Promenade, and, in the "real" world, the owner of the most magnificent beard in his village.
love to all,


On April 6, 2008 THO said:- Hi again, everybody! This time I set before you the wisdom of Ed on a query posed by A Gavel back in February of this year: “In Cormyr, to what extent do the War Wizards (or Highknights, or for that matter local Watch officers) actively keep a watch on known or suspected criminals?
Or to put it more clearly, is someone who was charged with a crime but not convicted ("suspected") or convicted, served sentence, and then was released ("known") subsequently spied upon by "the authorities"? I'm not speaking of traitors to the Crown (nobles plotting coups) here, but petty criminals (thieves, swindlers who replace goods with inferior copies or "doctor" wine or other valuables to increase volume and therefore sales, and fraudsters). Thank you for any answer you may furnish.”
Ed replies:


You’re very welcome. The answer is: local Watch officers and individual War Wizards keep as much of a watch as they can on known criminals, but their scrutiny is rarely heavy or frequent. These “authorities” are just too busy, and they have too many “waries” (the current Cormyrean civil authority term for ‘suspicious characters’) to watch. Just as in real life, the system is overloaded - - so unless Vangerdahast/Caladnei, Laspeera, or another senior War Wizard takes a notion to watch Character X like the proverbial hungry hawk, Character X is probably NOT going to get watched unless personally recognized by a Watch officer, courtier, or War Wizard at the scene of a crime or doing something suspicious (like openly exchanging a weapon or vial of something in return for coin, in a dark corner of a tavern, in a secretive manner). Of course, for campaign purposes, YMMV.


So saith Ed. Whose smile REALLY makes Vangerdahast tremble.
(And Filfaeril purr, but that’s a matter for another day. )
love to all,

Hello again, all. Soon after posting Ed’s most recent Realmslore reply, I received ANOTHER reply from him, this one less “lore” and more “real world Realms news.” Specifically, he’s addressing this very recent query from Malcolm: “Ed, I have heard a rumor (several times in the last few days) that you're hard at work on scripts for a Realms TV series. One of my sources said "like BATTLESTAR GALACTICA - - the current one, not the crappy old one."
Care to comment? Able to comment? My own suspicion, that I have voiced to said rumor-carriers, is that this is JUST a rumor, but I'd love to be proven wrong. ?”
and this one, even more recent, from sfdragon: “Does Mr. Greenwood have plans to free Elminster's mind from whatever in 4E??” (About which Kuje quite rightly commented: “You know that Ed won't be able to answer this except with a large NDA!” and The Sage added, also correctly: “And there's also the possibility that it may not even be up to Ed to decide whether Elminster's current state in 4e FR, will be resolved.”)
Ed replies:


Malcolm, your question is easy: No. I am not hard at work on scripts for a Realms TV series, one shot, or film. Nor, so far as I know, is anyone else. This is, as far as I know, JUST a rumour.

sfdragon, I have all sorts of plans for Elminster’s future, including both his mind and his body, but they are just that: plans. Kuje is right to say 4e matters like this are covered by NDAs, and The Sage is right to say that Elminster’s fate may well not be up to me. What I can tell everyone, honestly, is this: as of right now, with me busy with taxes, a non-Wizards project, and three non-Elminster-related Wizards projects that should really all be completed before I can ethically turn to any discussion of Elminster, NOTHING has been decided. There have been lots of suggestions, notions, ideas, and even plans advanced, tossed back and forth, mulled over, chuckled at, and so forth . . . but nothing has been formally agreed-upon. Nada. Zip. And if I know Elminster, HE’LL have something to say about things before anything GETS decided.


So saith Ed. Who is, one must remember, the Realms - - not Elminster.
love to all,


On April 6, 2008 THO said:-  To PDK and to The Sage and Lady K,
Ed and I raise glasses (yes, of milk!) to you all. May your progeny prosper and flourish, and delight and impress not just you, but all the world.

(Ahhh, that milk was good! Same again, please; set 'em up!)

P.S. To all: Ed's days of being asked by Realms fans to father babies (or at least practice ) are probably over, but his days of being asked to name babies and perform marriages are still going strong. Heavy Responsibility Time [cue organ chords of impending doom], Old Bearded One.

 Ah, sfdragon, I see you're one of the reasonable people.
However, some others (notably certain WotC personages) interpret NDAs more widely: as in, just confirming that there ARE plans, in this case, offends against the NDA.
As for your questions regarding Khelben the Younger: that is also under current NDA. Which of course, all by itself, should tell you something.


On April 7, 2008 THO said:- Hello again, all. This time I bring a brief, delightful smidgen of Realmslore from Ed, in response to this early-February (08) query from Penknight: “If I may, I was wondering how people (elves specifically) of the Realms would say the phrase 'artistic license' when speaking about how bards like to change certain aspects of songs. Thanks so very much!”
Ed replies:


The elven equivalent of ‘artistic license’ is ‘moonbreeze’ (as in: “Moonbreezed through it, I noticed” or “A fair amount of moonbreezing, there”). This term arose from the crescent moon of Corellon Larethian, and from the elven notion that breezes herald (bring the scent of) change. More formal or pedantic elves may instead say “touched by Corellon” or refer to “the touch or Corellon” or even “Erevan riding Corellon” (referring to the elven deity of change trumping the elven deity of music and bards).


So saith Ed. Who was pleased by the question, BTW.
love to all,


On April 8, 2008 THO said:- As always, a post from Zandilar brings a smile to Ed’s face. Wherefore here is his response to this recent post from Zandilar: “Heya, The mention of names for Cormyrian royalty above brought to mind a question...
How do you come up with all those wonderful names, Ed? Do you have some kind of system for doing so? Do you think about consistency of sound for each language, or do you just jumble up some letters or do you have some other method? I know you mentioned that the word "lust" in Alustriel's name was a deliberate/conscious choice, but I'm pretty sure you also mentioned that it was kind of an exception rather than a rule...

About my favorite non-Chosen character's name - is the name Myrmeen inspired by the word "Myrmidon" at all? And how common a name is it? Are there other Myrmeens of note from history? Which language does the name come from (Scott Ciencen's novel "The Night Parade" has us learning that Myrmeen was raised in Calimshan - or strongly implied that was the case, but Myrmeen herself doesn't seem to be Calshite in apperance, so my guess is (most likely) Tethyrian (though I suppose she could be Chondathan or Illuskan, since people do immigrate/migrate from time to time - and, oh dear I've gone off on a tangent!))?

Back to my names query though - what names are "currently" (1375 to 1385 DR) popular in Cormyr (particularly Arabel, but I'd be interested in knowing about Suzail, Marsember, and smaller towns like Eveningstar as well)... What kinds of things to people take into consideration when naming their children - is it common to name a child after parents and grandparents, or are parents more likely to name a child based on their own whims without regard to ancestors... Nobles, I assume are more likely to follow the former, but how about common people? Are god names common for children? (Are there many Arabelans named after Tymora, for example, given Tymora appeared there during the Time of Troubles? Would such a name be considered good luck? )

I'm sure some of the answers to these questions have appeared in this forum before, and if so I humbly apologize for not going through the archives to find the answers myself... But my time is short these days.

Lastly, and I really have to slip this in knowing we're not likely to get answers, what do we know about Myrmeen Lhal's child, aside from who the father is, if anything? Gender and/or name would be nice. (This does mean I'm considering a sequel to my Blood and Snow fanfic - so it would be useful information to know.) (Jumping 100 years into the future would make it seem like some NDAs might get lifted, but I suspect we won't see that until after the new FRCG is published...)”
Ed replies:


Hi, Zandilar! First of all, Garen Thal was quite right to identify Myrmeen as Tethyrian. Let me go through your post in order so I don’t forget anything.
Thanks for your nice comments. Names are easy for me, for some inexplicable reason.
I coin names by picturing the character, physically, plus what I know of their behaviour, and then try to think of the “sort of sound” I want their name to have. Usually six or seven possible names pop into my mind immediately; I jot them all down, zero in on those that seem most right, then tinker with the spelling so it doesn’t seem too “modern” to the eye, but also not too cryptic when eyeballed (I don’t want people mispronouncing it or even worse, giving up on pronunciation and just sliding past it, whenever they read it; the “Mr. Mxyzptlk problem” [referencing the old DC Comics alien character with the unpronounceable name]; this is the old “why do fantasy names always have to have lots of instances of x, q, and z - - or start with s?”). Then I “try out” the character, in my mind’s eye, just WEARING the name for a bit. If it “works,” I’m done.
That’s the formal way. More often, these days, especially for minor characters, names just pop into my head as I need them, I use them, and then re-read the text afterwards to make sure the name isn’t unintentionally humorous or insulting or otherwise unsuitable, before the text becomes “final.”
Of course, over the years, for the characters I’ve named in the Realms, I always keep in mind “prevalent sounds and styles” of racial names, and the sounds of racial languages (hard “gaa” and “k” sounds in orc-talk, short and heavily emphatic cadences in dwarven speech, and fluid, flowing sounds in elven speech, for instance).
And yes, Alustriel (along with the VERY few other “hide a word in a name” instances) was indeed an exception to the rule.
Of course, I can’t take any responsibility for Realms characters named by others, other than to admit that I’ve screamed and yelled in private to make sure proposed names like “Spike” and “Lucky Strike” (both for adventurers; the first one was supposed to be secretly a prince, too) and “Abracadabra” (for a dragon) didn’t get used in print. (No, I’m not kidding!)
[Of course, there are many instances where I don’t find out about an unfortunate name until I read it, in print, at about the same time as any other customer who buys a new book or game product does. Sigh.]

When I created Myrmeen the character, and coined her name, no, I wasn’t inspired by the word “Myrmidon” at all. Though the level titles were fun, I never wanted them reflected in any Realmsian “person” names; it just seemed (and seems) a mistake in style. I was trying for some sounds in her name that evoked a friend, a vigorous person, someone passionate and warm when she wanted to be, and someone exciting (hope I squeezed all of that in there!).
In “my” Realms, Myrmeen is an uncommon name in the Tethyrian duchy of Cape Velen, and rare elsewhere. History records some Myrmeens as sorceresses and a few as wives of nobles and courtiers, but none are “of note” except the character of Cormyr we both know and love.
As for her child: I’m truly sorry, but there’s a nicely-crafted, massive NDA sitting squarely on that, frowning on all questors in that heavy-browed “the Eagle Watches You” manner. If it makes you feel any better to know this, it was created quite recently, to replace an older, smaller-in-scope NDA.

Yes, nobles are very likely to use family names (those of parents AND ancestors; most Cormyrean noble children actually have four or five given names), as are wannabe-noble rising in wealth merchant families (because they’re trying to act like nobles).
God names, on the other hand, are increasingly UNpopular for children because parents think it’s unlucky (dangerous to the child) and because the popularity and “reliability” of many gods, in mortal eyes, was shaken in the Time of Troubles (and will be shaken again, in the Spellplague). Yes, there are local exceptions due to divine deeds and appearances, but local clergy often have an influence in such matters. For example, in Arabel’s case, the “Luckpriests” prominent in the city at that time discouraged parents from naming children as “Tymora” (or any male echo) by saying the goddess regarded it as near-blasphemy and so the child might well be unlucky throughout life. Instead, they should use “lucky” names favored by the goddess (and revealed in secret by the priests, for a fee, of course); these included Ardusk, Brace, and Faern for boys, and Calatha, Deira, and Raele for girls (see the name lists later in this post).
Parents who travel widely (peddlers, caravan merchants, pilgrims, other wayfarers) tend to be the most likely to “name a child based on their own whims without regard to ancestors,” just because they’ve seen and heard more of alternative names, and had the chance to settle on one or two as “pretty” or “that sounds RIGHT to me; if we ever have a boy/girl, let’s call it that!”

The current fashion in Cormyr is to give a child one ancestral given name, but its own “new” everyday, “always-known-as” name, and although a few ‘old standards’ have been retained, new namings are rising in popularity. These largely reflect immigration from Turmish, Sembia, Tethyr, and the Vilhon, and popular individuals who have arrived in said migrations. So, the given names “currently” (1375 to 1385 DR) popular in Cormyr are as follows:

Recently popular Cormyrean male names: Andel, Ardusk, Beliard, Brace, Dannon, Eldorn, Faern, Griskor, Hrandur, Jeth, Lharak, Morlan, Roth, Wynter
(So, daily diminutives: Del, Dusk, [Beliard], [Brace], Dan, Dorn, Faer, Grisk, Ran, [Jeth], Rak, Morl, [Roth], Wyn)

Recently popular Cormyrean female names: Asmura, Baera, Calatha, Dalorna, Deira, Estele, Flornele, Iltara, Jakkara, Marantha, Raele, Sarelle, Tamphara, Thorn
(So, daily diminutives: Asmur or Mur, Baer, Cath, Lorna or Lor, Deir, Stel, Flor, Tara, Kara, Ranth or Ran, [Raele], Rel, Fara, [Thorn])

In these lists, Griskor, Hrandur, Jeth, and Lharak (of the male names) and Iltara, Jakkara, Marantha, and Tamphara (of the female names) have been brought in through immigration, and are more popular in Marsember and Suzail than in “upcountry” places such as Espar, Eveningstar, and Arabel (roughly: Waymoot and Immersea and anywhere north of those locales).
Conversely, in the upcountry areas, “old,” long-established Cormyrean names are more popular; in these lists, those names are Beliard, Brace, Dannon, Morlan, and Roth (male names) and Baera, Dalorna, Raele, and Thorn (female names).
“Thorn” has traditionally been given to farm lasses born when the parents were hoping for a strong male child (in other words, the new Thorn is going to have to take on the “grunt” tasks of working a farm), and as a result has been borne by a lot of what we real-world folks would call “tomboys.”
Andel, Ardusk, Edlorn, and Wynter (of the male names), and Asmura, Calatha, Estele, and Flornele (of the female names) are from the previous two generations of immigration, and come from Sembia.
To zero in on Arabel in particular, as per your request, the most popular names right now are:
(boys) Beliard, Brace, Brorn, Dannon, Danrask, Jeth [and its local variant “Juth”], Morland [not a typo for “Morlan,” but the local variant on “Morlan”], Roth, and Wendur
(diminutives: [Beliard], Race, Rorn, Dan, Dan, [Jeth], Morl, [Roth], Wen)

(girls) Baera, Calatha, Dalorna, Delendra, Labrelle, Marra, Raele, Sulue [or Tassulue], and Thorn
(diminutives: Baer, Cath, Lorn, Len, Bel, Mar, Rae, Su [or Tass], [Thorn]) Note that some local favourites appear here that aren’t in the “more widely popular” lists. Sulue is pronounced “Soo-LOO,” by the way, so “Su” is “Soo” (this name came from Aglarond to Scardale, then through the northern Dales to Arabel).

A design note: it’s important, when designing names for a population, not to succumb to the temptation to craft a list of “cool for adventurers plus dastardly villains plus beautiful princesses” names, and leave out more earthy, humdrum, ugly, and awkward monikers. Realism comes through variety that includes strands of “fit together” or “sound related.” A list that was all dashing heroes names like Amberjack and Raerel might initially strike the eye and ear as more catchy, but is ultimately less useful (except to the DM or fiction writer who names only major characters, and has a lot of “Unnamed And Soon to Be Dead Guard Thirty-Six” minor characters).

I hope this has been helpful, Zandilar. For me, strolling back through my lore-notes and updating everything, it’s been fun.


So saith Ed. Master Linguist of Faerûn, along with everything else he does.
love to all,


On April 10, 2008 THO said:-  Hello, all.
I should just like to point out that Ed didn't include "lust" in "Alustriel" as some sort of joke or 'put one over on Realms fans.' It was an experiment to see if subconsciously, having the word in the name would reinforce a perception of the character, even if her "up close and personal" fiction portrayals (as opposed to what was said of her in the third person, by game designers writing in sourcebook material) was more straight-laced.
love to all,


On April 12, 2008 THO said:-  Hello again, all.
Ed has been quiet this last day or so because he's doing taxes and two novel galley-proofings (not to mention some novels he's supposed to finish!!!), but he found time to send this brief Realmslore reply to AlorinDawn:


Loxo music is slow and deep, with "rolling" drums (think Led Zeppelin, Bonham's cave-echo drumming on D'Yer Maker) behind a low, liquid bassoon or low-register oboe melodic line. Always SLOW. Loxo who can prevail upon elves or humans who have "ghost pipes" or similar spells that can produce ongoing, sustained notes love to hear music that sounds like real-world, Hollywood, "deep menace/approaching storm" melody lines.


So saith Ed. Hope this is of help,


On April 13, 2008 THO said:- Hello again, all. I bring this brief Realmslore response from Ed, to Faraer's query: "Ed, what's the relationship between the new level maps in Expedition to Undermountain and your originals?"
Ed replies:


The level maps in the book are tiny, slightly modified snippets of my originals for the upper levels, and new creations for most of the lower levels. My map notes for The Yawning Portal unfortunately got ignored or lost for some reason (yes, I did provide map originals for my bits, as did the other designers, but I stress that they were "for my bits," rather than an attempt to print the very extensive original maps; what did see print had to fit the too-restrictive encounter format that I sure hope is going away as we move into 4e). So they're "fragmentary echoes" of my originals, plus (deeper down) new creations. We of course simply passed over the thirteen or so fully-mapped sublevels, sixteen partly-mapped sublevels, and so on.


So saith Ed. Who is still busy busy busy on gaming fiction and game lore for us all!!


On April 14, 2008 THO said:-  Thank you, Alaundo.
I wish I (purrrr) saw more of you. Perhaps (bats eyelashes) if I'm bad? Very very bad? I hear tell you have an ermm, staff that is occasionally used in ahem, discipline . . .
(purrs again, sashays)

I hope Seahen sees this, or it can be conveyed to him:
If by this Thursday or Friday you mean April the 17th or 18th, Ed will be rushing about doing errands (medical and dental visits, car tuneup, banking, library board work) on the 17th. On the morning of the 18th, between 10 am and 1 pm, he will be manning the circulation desk at the Port Hope Public Library (situated on Queen Street in downtown Port Hope, in a park with its back to the Ganaraska River, just north of the two railway trestles), but he must dash away promptly at 1 pm to rush some 30 miles, pick up a family member, and drive said family member some 400 miles to visit OTHER family for the weekend. Ed must of course check books in and out, register patrons for library cards, answer phones, and all the usual library work they're paying him to do, but he'd certainly be happy to see you, shake hands, sign things, and chat very briefly, if you do appear during that brief window.
Good gaming always!


 Hello again, all. THANK you, GoCeraf (dimples). Your sweet fondness is appreciated and returned.
Jorkens, your request goes off to Ed, but from play in the 'home' Realms campaign, I can say that the beast cults are just that: cults. Worshipped in secret, in modest cellar shrines or back room impromptu ceremonies, often centered around a 'totem' piece or relic of the animal in question (a horn, a claw, a fang, a tentacle preserved in a sealed glass jar full of oil). Members work together like a trade cabal or secret society, helping each other in daily business troubles (discounts to fellow members, rushing to be bodyguard aid if a fellow cultist is attacked by rivals, etc.), and usually carry a tiny recognition token (carved bat wing or horse hoof or whatever) to show to fellow cultists they don't know personally.
What we Knights discovered was that some of the larger, more powerful, and wealthy cults (in larger cities) had been covertly taken over by beholders (working through the minds of cult leaders), either for their own benefit or to extend the reach of the Zhentarim.
So cults, and clashing rival cults with PCs caught in the middle, are great foes and "background action movers" for low-level PCs. In short, so far as I know, the beast cults are still flourishing (albeit with very low profiles, so some non-members might think otherwise).

Hmmm. I recall we Knights once meeting a travelling tax collector (in the 'home' Realms campaign, with Ed as our DM). He had some undercover War Wizards watching him, not to oversee his honesty but to see who avoided him, robbed him, deceived him, and tried to get a look at his ledger. Which had some War Wizard spells cast on it, to "seal" it and wizard mark anyone who tampered with it excvept War Wizards, the collector, and his superiors who knew a secret sigil to trace.
Off this goes to Ed . . .


On April 17, 2008 THO said:-  Ho ho!
Ed is racing around the Ontario countryside at the moment, but this question from Vangelor is one I can handle (from experience playing in the Realms with Ed as DM)! Fireflies in the Dales (Deepingdale, Shadowdale, and Mistledale in particular) mean Lurue is active and manifesting and aware of what's unfolding ....
love to all,


On April 18, 2008 THO said:- Hello, all. Ed is still rushing about, etc., but I can make a tiny start on answering Jamallo Kreen: yes, Pyaray is drawn from Moorcock. Specifically, from the D&D writeup of Pyaray in the first edition of DEITIES & DEMIGODS, which included mythoi from Lankhmar (with Leiber's permission, a la Vance), Lovecraft's Cthulhu, and Moorcock's Melnibone (sorry, can't do the proper accent marks in this primitive e-mail program). The latter two were included without legal permission - - hence the book's hasty second edition without them. It's important to remember that in this pre-Internet age, a lot of just plain DMs (including Ed, who has always been an isolated-up-in-Canada freelancer, NOT a company staffer) were unaware of this illicit situation, and therefore assumed these official TSR writeups were now part of the game, and fully usable. (In those days, staying true to canon was what most gamers automatically tried to do, because there WAS only one official source that greatly dominated roleplaying games.)
A close reading of Ed's DRAGON #54 article will turn up the fact that Ed states he's using a lot of deities as "placeholders" until further "official" (i.e. Gygaxian, TSR-published) deities appear and are detailed; the entire thrust of the article was not to present the gods of the Realms, but to show how one DM strolled through the published lore, "official" TSR and otherwise, to pick and choose this and that and structure a pantheon of deities for a long-running campaign. Specifically, in Ed's case, how deity portfolios (not a new concept, but one Ed "pushed" into the D&D game) 'work,' and how a pantheon is shaped (in Ed's case, in a rough balance of deities of various power levels, along alignment lines).
It's important to always bear one thing in mind: what of necessity is discussed fairly clearly in articles intended for DMs has always been far more mysterious/shifting/a matter of disagreements between competing churches in the Realms when one is experiencing Realmsplay.
Ed saw the Beast Cults as a way of including interesting "little secretive local worship" in such play (often as the stereotypical "evil guys about to do unspeakable things to unclad female chained to altar, as heroic PCs burst in") without putting certain deities into positions of frontline dominance in Faerunian lives.
Of course, I'll hand your post on to Ed for his own, proper reply, in the fullness of time. I can say that he's always regretted the focus on godly powers, avatars, et al at the expense of detailing what the churches do (daily prayers, do's and don'ts, festivals and other 'big' rituals, creeds, secret priesthood aims, etc.).
love to all,

Hello again, all. For the record (and to save time and upset for the fairly steady flood of scribes asking me anxiously), barring some terrible future problem at WotC, the third Knights of Myth Drannor novel, THE SWORD NEVER SLEEPS, will indeed be published (though I understand it's now set for a November 2008 release rather than August).
It has been finished, submitted to Wizards, edited, and the editor and Ed have then gone over the MS to polish here, embellish there, and pat the new baby on its behind and pronounce it ready to toddle out into the world.
I asked Ed to comment on its contents, and he said:

Readers seeking RSEs will probably be disappointed.
Readers who want to see glimpses of Khelben, Torm, and Rathan, and a lot more of the Knights and the Obarskyrs and Dauntless interacting (often rather testily) should be pleased.
Readers seeking one way to whisk PCs and NPCs from the 3e Realms times up into the 4e dating should discover one handy new element . . . and at least one NPC becomes fascinating and steps forward to take far more of a hand in the proceedings than we saw of the character in SWORDS OF DRAGONFIRE.


So saith Ed.
Getting hungry to read this? I am!!
love to all,


On April 22, 2008 THO said:-  Hello, all!
Ergdusch, Pillar Rock is indeed on the west side of the pool (it's a "tower" of rock the same height as the plateau/clifftop adjacent to it, left behind by erosion, with the tomb cavern inside.
The map location erroneously marked on the east side of the Pool is another, far more recent tomb, that NPC adventurers made for their fallen and tried to guard against beast despoilings by lining (walls and ceiling) with huge, heavy stone slabs.


On April 23, 2008 THO said:- Hello again, all. I bring more words from Ed of the Greenwood, this time in reply to Zandilar’s response of April 11th, which I’ve edited and numbered for clarity purposes (to better link Ed’s words with Zandilar’s):

[[regarding Ed’s comment on names]]
1. “What is "too modern"? I have my own ideas on what that is, but I'd be interested to see what you have to write on the matter. (ie: Is it the way the name sounds? The use of letters? Placement of vowels?)
Do the people of the Realms name their children after beloved rulers and others (whether currently active or historical figures) they might admire? From what you wrote there, I gather there aren't too many children in Arabel named after Myrmeen then?”

[[regarding Ed mentioning an NDA covering Myrmeen’s child]]
2. “If Myrmeen's child is going to be a factor in 4th Edition, she's going to be a very old lady (of the dead and buried variety old) by then (or he, I suppose, I'm still hoping it'll be a daughter - too many powerful females in Cormyr have gone and have either been replaced by male characters or not at all)... Unless, for some reason, Myrmeen's child has innate longevity, of course, or access magical items/potions that extend life...”

[[regarding Ed’s mention of Luckpriests in Arabel advocating the bestowal of ‘lucky’ names on newborns]]
3. “These "lucky" names, are they actually names Tymora has revealed to her priests, or is it some kind of scam to part people with their money? I normally wouldn't ask, but given the apparent flavour/nature of the Arabelan Church (in particular), I wouldn't put it past Daramos to come up with such a plan.”

[[regarding this, from Ed: “Thorn” has traditionally been given to farm lasses born when the parents were hoping for a strong male child (in other words, the new Thorn is going to have to take on the “grunt” tasks of working a farm), and as a result has been borne by a lot of what we real-world folks would call “tomboys.”]]
4. “Interesting. I am sure more than one "Thorn" hasn't lived up to it though... they can't all just magically become tomboys. But I may be a touch biased here, since, to me, tomboy is more than just appearance - it's attitude as well - as much nature as it is nurture.”

Ed replies:

1. In this context, for me, “too modern” is a vague ‘trips my wince-radar’ matter. If the spelling, sound of the name, or the actual wording (the name itself, or its meaning in any real-world language I happen to know of) causes me to pause or shudder, my radar has been tripped and the name needs fixing. I avoid real-world proper names wherever possible, but not real-world terms that happen to work (e.g. “florin” and “falcon” and “hand” all sounded ‘good’ together, as did “Tamper Tencoin” - - but I wouldn’t want to fill my tales with too many such names). The gate [portal] travel between “real-world Earth” and the Realms (plus the peregrinations of a select few NPCs such as Elminster) give us JUST enough wiggle room to sneak in SOME real-world words (again, “florin” is an example), but I did NOT want Galahads and Lancelots running around Faerûn.
Erik Scott de Bie’s recent fictional use of Fox and Twilight are just fine. I have in the past read (and spoken against) Realms book proposals that featured “Aragorn” and “Dirk McGrim” and these of course are decidedly NOT fine. One can evoke a mood with a name without copying a well-known fictional name (Howard’s “Thulsa Doom” is obviously off limits; I did not coin my Szass Tam as a deliberate copy, and the closest I came in meaning to “Doom” would be my Arbane, but I could readily imagine someone crafting a Realms name that evoked the sinister ‘sound’ of the name “Doom”).
The time jump allows the use of different naming styles, yet avoiding something too jarringly close to the real world is still desirable.
Some folk in the Realms do indeed name their children after beloved rulers and others they admire (both currently active and historical figures - - and if you include family ancestors as “historical figures” then that “Some folk” should be altered to read “Many folk”).
However, as you surmised, at the time my reply was set (pre-Spellplague), there weren’t many children in Arabel named after Myrmeen. She was personally admired, but still regarded as the highest officer of an oppressive “rule from down South.” A parent of Arabel might be wary of fellow locals thinking a child named Myrmeen signalled parentage involving illicit sexual relations with either Myrmeen herself, or one of her staff (note: I don’t mean that local citizens would think Myrmeen birthed a child named after her and gave her to childless parents of Arabel, but that parents might think they named the child to commemorate or celebrate a love affair with Myrmeen or a fellow Dragon officer “from Suzail or thereabouts”). Silly, yes, but I’m describing things as I see them being, not as they ought to be.


2. I can’t comment much here (that’s what NDAs mean), other than to say there’s been no confirmation that Myrmeen stopped at one child, that all of your speculations [[THO note: Zandilar’s words quoted earlier in this reply]] remain in play, and that this doesn’t mean 4e material will soon (or ever) mention Myrmeen or any progeny; sometimes NDAs safeguard possibilities that don’t get followed through on.


3. Yes, the church DID come up with this as a fundraising plan, but not out of any innate religious dishonesty or larceny; they hit upon the idea AFTER several names on that list were revealed to various priests during their prayers and dreams (the clergy of a particular local church of most non-oppressive faiths habitually discuss their prayer- and dream-visions and messages with each other, seeking to understand and reveal as much as possible of the will of the deity). One can be sure that if their notion had displeased Tymora, She would have made that abundantly - - and very swiftly - - clear. If necessary, to folk in Arabel outside the ranks of her clergy, so that the wayward deceit of her priests would soon be clear to all.


4. I quite agree that not all girls named Thorn automatically become tomboys. I meant that, given which children the name is bestowed upon, any such child who has the personal character to become what we would deem a “tomboy” is certainly going to get the chance to do so (experience in all the dirty, close-to-nature daily tasks of farm work, so no shielding from dirty, sweaty-work, blood and death, and no insistence on dainty clothing and the keeping of same clean).
When young, I had grandparents who lived in a small farming village, and while visiting them was delighted (too young for real sexual feelings here, just admiration) to meet and play with a young lass from a neighboring farm who was sent out in her best clothing and told to keep clean for Sunday school, but found a litter of newborn kittens in a dirty crawlspace under a garden shed - - so she calmly shucked all her clothes, hung them over bushes, crawled in to play with the kittens (and show them to the rest of the kids, including me, before leading us all in a tree-climbing “run”), washed the dirt off afterwards in a creek, put her clothes back on, and went off to the church.
Now, not all kids in that situation would doff the clothing and go and play, whether named Thorn or not. But of those who would, a lot of them were named Thorn. :}


So saith Ed. Who is, yes, as wildly busy as always, but still trying to furnish scribes with Realmslore whenever he can.
love to all,


On April 24, 2008 THO said:- Hello again, all. I bring you yet more words of Realmslore from Ed of the Greenwood himself, this time to several scribes [all of your queries have been sent to Ed, and he'll answer some of the others at greater individual length]:


To Charles Phipps, Ed says:

You’re quite welcome, enjoy, and I’d love to hear (eventually, as play unfolds) if anything fun or unusual arose out of using these two darkhearted families in your campaign, that you don’t mind sharing more widely (don’t want to ruin things for your players).


To crazedventurers, Ed says:

Hi, Duncan! Yes, trail marks ARE (generally) consistent across Faerun (so a Ranger of the Hullack who found herself in the Border Forest could indeed able to read MOST of the runes).
I say “most” because some of the marks have changed a bit over time (centuries) and, yes, as you surmised, some faiths and local mark-makers who realize that foes have learned what their marks mean have added subtle variants, false marks, special new marks, and so on. “Secret Supply Cache” would indeed be one of those new marks.
Peddlers and other experienced traveller/adventurer/merchants would indeed know the more useful marks (water/food/shelter etc).


And to Zandilar, Ed says:

As far as names go, I too wish I had a bit more say. Sometimes just changing the spelling of a name so it isn’t so obviously real-world is enough. However, complaining about the agreement after I made it is hardly fair or honest, and ’tis what it is.

To the nobles and “old money yet now impoverished or shopkeeping” families of Arabel, who set the social tone for the city, it IS “simply that anyone ruling Arabel other than Arabel is going to be thought of as oppressive even if it's the most liberal and enlightened ruler in the history of Faerun.” It should be noted that in the past when folk of Arabel became courtiers and returned to their city to assist in Crown rule, they were dismissed as “traitors,” so some suspect that this local attitude is self-serving (they’d complain about oppressors even if they came to be ruled by a king born and bred in Arabel).
Not all folk in Arabel feel this way, but those less prosperous (and the few wealthy and bluebloods who disagree) don’t really dare to say so openly, for fear of being shunned (so, no trade and income, and eventual forced departure from the community, or starve) or (among the haughtier) socially cast out.

As for Arabel succeeding on its own, apart from Cormyr, that depends. :}
I’m not trying to weasel out of answering you, I’m honestly stating that there are too many variables to answer this definitively without also deciding all of them.
For instance: if war or the spread of Shade stops overland trade through the northern mountain passes from the Moonsea and the northern Dales, Arabel would become just a base for mining, foraging, and ranching (assuming Shade didn’t conquer). Then it would end up fighting constant skirmishes with bandits and creatures of the Stonelands (and again, the Zhent presence in the Stonelands becomes a variable here, as does the strength of goblinkin forces and the various “desert” tribes of Anauroch, and whether or not anyone in the Dales or Sembia wants to try to conquer Arabel).
If Cormyr ever simply turned its back on Arabel and withdrew without violence, and no one else tried to conquer it (Sembia, Shade, and everyone else “ignoring” it), Arabel could certainly survive as a trade-moot and way-stop on trade routes . . . but it would be a very different Arabel, inside the walls, from the Arabel we know.
Marsember is very similar: the nobles “set” local attitudes, and gain much local support from those under them from the many petty grievances that arise when an “occupying garrison” is permanently in town. The nobles certainly believe they “have actual legitimate reasons to deride the government of Cormyr,” (although some of them conveniently overlook the intertwined early history and bloodlines they share with “those oppressors from Suzail”), but for most citizens of Marsember, it IS simply a vague desire to go back "to the way things were when they were independent.” (Those “ways” being largely romanticized and improved through nostalgia and believing the outright lies of certain nobles.)

On the topic of NDAs: sometimes NDAs that no longer serve a purpose just never get lifted, but more often they are prolonged “just in case.” It’s possible that when the 4e Realms are out, we may never find out what became of Myrmeen and her child - - or we may have to wait some years while, say, someone crafting an RPGA module works up this lore as a back story, or a novelist ponders using it for a book (the Books Department having kept it “cloaked” so that it can serve this purpose).
Please note that I’m NOT saying this is what specifically will happen or that this is planned for Myrmeen and her child. I’m just trying to be clear WHY silences sometimes fall regarding specific bits of lore. We all like to learn all we can about the Realms, even though doing so can sometimes strip away delicious mystery and the sense of wonder, but leaving background lore vague gives writers, designers, editors, and even outside licensors more freedom to develop new things. [This is probably one of the reasons behind the way the 4e Realms is being handled.]

Regarding your question: “Just how common is it for a person to adopt a new name later in life - whether because they simply didn't like their birth name, or because they somehow "earned" a new one? Are there any cultures in Faerun that have a ceremony (or something) when the person comes of age where they get to choose a new name to replace their birth name?”
Yes, many folk in the Realms who leave their home community (often as traders or apprentices) simply take whatever new name they want to (only a few places have really organized tax rolls and the means to maintain them [Cormyr’s War Wizards being the strongest of such means]).
Mercenaries and adventurers customarily take new names when they rise to fame, if they don’t like the sound of their original name or are trying to evade creditors, angry parents, et al - - or they have nicknames thrust upon them by others.
ALL newcomers to a specific locale in the Realms will suffer pressure to alter or at least augment their name if someone in the same trade is already known locally by the same or a similar name (in some guild-prominent cities and towns, this is actually law). So if you’re a swordsmith named Telver and you set up shop in a place that already has a Telver who’s a swordsmith or a general weaponsmith or even a trainer-of-the-blade, you’ll have to use some other name, or at least become “Telver the New” or “Telver the Tall” or “Telver O’ The Beard” or “Telver the Tethyrian” or some other variant of Telver.
There are also both faiths in the Realms where priests take new names when attaining a certain temple rank (Semoor Wolftooth of the Knights of Myth Drannor became “Jelde Asturien”), and communities and lands (most of the Dales, Turmish, the Starmantle area, Elturel, Neverwinter, Silverymoon) where anyone coming of age can officially take a new name of their choosing (so long as it doesn’t cause local confusion, as above with Telver, AND to avoid scoundrels from pretending to be of a prominent local family [or worse yet, nobility] by taking the same surname.
As for the young disrobing-for-kittens lass: I’ve seen her only twice after that (a few years elapsing between each glimpse), but the last I heard, she’d moved to the USA as a rising young executive, and married and later shed a husband, so I’d have to judge that, yes, she must have become or remained “confident and assertive.”


So saith Ed. Oh, and Markustay: you don’t need a box of kittens. Just walk up to me, smile, and say, “Take your clothes off, please,” and I probably will. So long as it doesn’t endanger (dangerously distract) others, I don’t mind in the slightest. (It’s probably better to first say, “THO? I’ve so much to ask you; mind if we stroll over into yonder park?” and then spring the disrobing request on me the moment we’re apart from others. Not that I mind admiring audiences, or need the park to be particularly private. I may hand you my garments to carry, though, which may hamper whatever you planned to do next.

love to all,


On April 25, 2008 THO said:- Hello again, all. Great question, Jamallo Kreen. Off to Ed it goes. I'm awaiting a Realmslore reply from him, but in the meantime have a question that GoCeraf posed directly to me, to deal with: "THO, do YOU ever attend conventions in the disguise of anonymity? I doubt it's just me, but I've got no clue what you look like, your ethnicity, what have you. I mean, I've seen pictures of Mr. Greenwood, so I'd spot him in a crowd, but I'd imagine that aside from the few who know you as [insert your name here] AND the Lady Herald, no one would actually recognize you if you went. Just curious"

Yes, you imagine correctly. Yes, I occasionally do attend conventions (especially GenCon [now "GenCon Indy"] when I can (as in, when my day job allows me the chance to)). That security-related day job is what keeps me anonymous. Ed spots and recognizes me immediately, of course, though I seldom "make myself known" to him. So, for the record, I am female, sorta white skinned, and older than you might think from my flirtations, but not older than I obviously have to be, considering my shared experience with Ed as DM. Of course, I AM a master of clever disguises.
So if you see someone female, purring and wrapping themselves around Ed whilst revealingly clad, it's probably not me. Sorry.


On April 27, 2008 THO said:- Hello, all. I have another Realmslore reply to share with all scribes from Ed of the Greenwood, this one a response to GoCeraf’s query: “Compared to ordinary cats, how do Tressym behave? Are they inclined to be playful or more withdrawn? Additionally, given their intelligence, how well do those found near civilization get along with their neighbors? Do they have the same tendencies as normal cats (painstakingly cleaning themselves, sleeping a lot, etc.)? Anything else you could say would be appreciated.
All the best.”
Ed replies:


Hi! Tressym tend to be more inquisitive, more whimsical, and yet more reasoning than ordinary cats (when I say “yet more reasoning,” I mean that they will study situations, spot most traps or creatures likely to be luring them into something, and avoid being drawn in; their curiosity or whimsy won’t overrule their judgement and wariness). Tressym will go off by themselves to think hard about complicated situations, plan rescues or forays into known danger, and will stalk and skulk with absolute silence when they have to, or when they don’t want to be seen by neighbours (e.g. when doing something they know will be seen as suspicious, such as carrying a distinctive magic item or weapon).
They tend to avoid conflict with neighbours or intruders rather than staying to defend a lair or area, but will strike fiercely if such behaviour is misinterpreted as weakness and therefore carte blanche for bullying or aggressiveness. They tend to be sly winkers rather than “difficult,” standoffish, or “superior” in their dealings with other creatures. And yes, they do clean themselves and sleep a lot, especially when they can bake in the sun. However, being dirty or wet doesn’t bother tressym as much as it does most ordinary cats.
Tressym are intelligent enough to see the needs, wants, and habits of intruders settling in to become neighbours, and shift their own locations or habits to avoid conflict (for instance, if a human arrives and cuts down the favourite tree of a tressym, it will either move to find another or if it wants to remain in the spot, will simply adopt the roof of the human’s newbuilt homestead as its new perch).
Tressym hate the smell of boiled or burnt cabbage, and the squawking of many birds, and will remove themselves from the former and seek to drive off the latter (they are quite intelligent enough to lure or lead a flock of persistent or dangerous birds into the reach of predators who will devour or destroy such a flock).
Tressym understand using streams for navigation, and the habits of most woodland creatures, and so can anticipate where predators will roam, food prey can be found, and so on.
Tressym can become as entranced with particular beings just as strongly as “lovelorn” humans can, and will often follow and spy on such individuals for months or even years, forming friendships and pet-master-like attachments if the individual responds to them with friendliness.


So saith Ed, creator of the tressym. (None of his real-life cats or dogs had wings that I ever saw, but . . .)
love to all,

 Hello again, everyone.
wakaman, Ed's reply to you can't be "official" for the game, and can only be "official" for the Realms until contradicted in print by a WotC product (that's how the Realms purchase agreement reads). What he'll essentially be doing is what he would do as a DM (a DM who understands the Realms, and all of its checks and balances and still-secret lore, better than anyone else, mind you).
gomez, I conveniently wrap my arms around a lot of people. Smile at all the women you see at a con, because you never know . . .
Which is a coy way of saying that, yes, I do get to the OCCASIONAL European convention. As does Ed, who has been to Stockholm, Hanover, and London to appear at cons (just the few I can recall off the top of my head).
More Realmslore from Ed soon.
love to all,

 Hello again. Jamallo Kreen, a quick reply to your question about Ed writing for other game systems.
As I understand it, there are some non-compete clauses in Ed's consulting contracts, but Ed has negotiated exceptions, including:
GEANAVUE, a city sourcebook for the Kalamar setting (which was nominated for an ENNIE award, which should give you some idea of its quality) plus work on two other Kalamar products;
CASTLEMOURN and the thus-far-unseen EMBERSEA (both fantasy settings);
two zombie fiction tales for "Books of All Flesh" anthologies edited by Jim Lowder, one of which received an Honorable Mention in the relevant edition of the annual Year's Best Fantasy & Science Fiction that was then edited by Datlow & windling;
two Diamond Throne-world stories for Monte and Sue Cook, one of which was noted by The Sage (a story in "The Dragons' Return" anthology is the other);
work on all of the various old TSR roleplaying games and game lines, from Gamma World to Star Frontiers;
. . . and lots of Diplomacy variants (for GAMEPLAY magazine, among others) and other game scenarios, down the years.
Up in Canada, libraries have a Summer Reading Club whose theme, booklet, and handouts are all commonly designed. Now sponsored by one of the banks, it is used widely across the country. Years ago, it began as a project done annually by the North York Public library, designed by staff committees (different staffers) every year. The year Ed was on the committee, he devised half a dozen simple games for youngsters, each played as that week's one-sheet-of-paper handout.
And so on. Ed often insists he's a worldbuilder rather than a game designer, but it's not true; he has designed or hand a hand in designing many, many games. And continues to do so.

Yes, Ed created the Zethra, an alien race, for Star Frontiers. In an article in one of the "Ares" sections of DRAGON, if I recall correctly. (It was in DRAGON, regardless.)
As far as I know, Studio 2 Publishing and Pinnacle are going to publish Embersea whenever Ed can get them more material (the moved-ahead advent of 4e, Ed's father's death, and the writing logjam for Ed that resulted has delayed him getting much of anything more done on it since last fall).
I've always thought it ironic, how most writers can't think of story ideas or struggle with writing blocks or finish books and can't get them published . . . whereas Ed struggles to find more time in every day to spend at the keyboard to get a tenth of the stuff he thinks up ready and done and handed in, to publishers who are impatiently waiting . . .
(His "dream" project, I know, is to get to do another Volo's-style book for the Realms. A sassy female descendant of Volo spitting out catty restaurant reviews after touring parts of the 4e Realms, perhaps.)
love to all,


On April 28, 2008 THO said:-  Hello again, all.
Rinonalyrna Fathomlin, Ed says this:


You’re very welcome. I hope you continue to enjoy the Realms for years ahead, come what may.
I think my neighbour’s cat reads Candlekeep postings, too, because she meowed at me when I was out inspecting winterkilled plants in the garden this sunny afternoon, and then gently stepped down off the low tree branch she’d perched on, onto my shoulder, for a little ride-and-purr (a different sort of ride-and-purr than THO indulges in, I must add hastily). No sign of wings on her yet, though.


So saith Ed. Awww.
Yes, I DO enjoy ride-and-purr, whenever I can. Ahem. Now I bring unto all scribes more words of Ed, this time a response to Jamallo Kreen’s question: “Well met, and be ye all hale! I've really written (or DMed) myself into a rather unpleasant corner. One of my favorite characters is an NPC wizard who has been with the Army of the Alliance fighting the Tuigan. Outside of Telflamm (the Tuigan won the Battles of the Golden Way in my campaign and besieiged Telflamm), at night he regularly attacked the Tuigan / Shou / Semphari camp while riding upon a hideous abomination (Bloodstone's Spectral Steed) and, using a permanent tongues spell, he declared himself to be "The Black God of Death," because he habitually wears black.
Having finally received all three of the FRA 1-3 adventures, his rarely removed, self-cleaning, self-mending,black cote hardie, with its high deflection bonus and armored collar, is going to cause more than a wee bit of trouble when he meets His Mightiness Hubadai Khahan, who will -- undoubtedly! -- have heard all about "The Black God of Death" and his nighttime atrocities. This will make sitting down with him for a nice cup of kumiss to undertake the negotiations which are an essential part of the adventures ... ah ... awkward, ... to say the least. ("Your Mightiness, approaching us from ten miles to the north, riding a black horse which leaves no trail, is 'The Black God of Death' who thrice tried to kill your father, the Omnipotent Yamun Khahan, Illustrious Emperor of All Peoples!")
That being the situation, Ed, how common is it to have a contingency spell upon oneself to alter (or change or whatever they call it now) one's self-appearance automatically if one is recognized by a stranger? Is such a use of contingency even possible? Can the 3E Contingent Magic feat accomplish the same thing? Changing one's name when meeting the son of a man you've repeatedly tried to kill, hundreds of whose followers have seen you (and probably still have nightmares of you and your entourage on a hideous, winged abomination) isn't exactly an efficient way to avoid crucifixion, or being feathered by a thousand arrows from hidden snipers!
Because the FRA 103 trilogy apparently takes place before the Battles of the Golden Way (whoever wins, by the time the PCs reach the edge of Ra-Khati, Hubadai should know of his father's death), it would be conceivable that Hubadai has ridden off weeks earlier to a kuriltai to assert his right to rulership, and left a tumen behind to conquer Ra-Khati and the south of Shou Lung (and anything else they can find), but I rather fancy putting the PCs at risk because of how easy it was for them to become "angels of The Black God of Death" and slaughter dozens of Tuigan each night, so your comments on contingency are eagerly sought by me, Master of the Green Wood!
Besides all of that, just how would Cyric react to a mortal claiming to be "The Black God of Death" before his (Cyric's) competency hearing? It's entirely possible that some Tuigan and Shou and Semphari are actively worshipping my character already (praying for him to stay away and go kill someone else!). Pre-insanity, how much would that cheese off Cyric since the newly worshipped "god" is "merely" human? Inquiring DMs with complex campaigns want to know!”
Ed replies:


Contingency spells don’t and can’t work the way you allude to, in your first question. A contingency CAN’T recognize (be triggered) by the reactions or realizations of a third party that the spell hasn’t been cast on. It can only react to (awaken) a change in state of, or achievement of a particular situation of, the being (or, in certain special cases, item) it has been cast on. So a stranger recognizing the bearer of a contingency can have no effect on the contingency at all. A stranger doing something to said bearer, on the basis of recognizing them, can indeed trigger the contingency.
So if the stranger (His Mightiness Hubadai Khahan, for instance) sees and recognizes someone (such as, ahem, a mortal claiming to be "The Black God of Death"), any contingency on said mortal NPC wizard wouldn’t be affected at all. If the Khahan screamed orders to a thousand archers to pincushion the self-styled “Black God,” the contingency would still not awaken. If the archers did so, and the resulting death or harmful arrival of arrows was a condition of the contingency taking effect, then, yes, it would. A contingency is not sentient. It cannot anticipate the future, even obvious immediate consequences. If the Khahan pushes the Black God off a cliff, no contingency awakening (unless being pushed off a cliff was a specific condition of its operating). If the Black god’s every bone shatters upon his landing at the bottom of the cliff, and that (or the messy result) was a stated trigger for the contingency, THEN it would awaken. (To heal the body and teleport it away, for instance.)
As a DM, I have always adjudicated contingency spells with the same hawk-keen attentiveness to their precise wording as I have wish spells.
If I happened to be a player running the Black God character, I’d get rid of the steed and the trademark black garment before meeting with Hubadai Khahan, use magics to alter my appearance, and speak and act in a very different manner than I’d used while mounting my night attacks. (And encourage the same persona shift for any PC “angels of the Black God” accompanying me.) Instead, I’d pose as the “nice cop” (Hi, there! Better deal with us before night comes, and the Black God of Death shows up! Even we, who ride in the same army as him, are terrified of him! Now, I’m a reasonable man, and I’m hoping we can reach some sort of understanding before he loses patience and rides a-butchering again!) and leave the Black God as the “bad cop” threat, somewhere in hiding but beyond my control if we take too long conferring; he’s sure to burst forth marauding again . . .
Pre-insanity, Cyric would be enraged by a mortal claiming to be "The Black God of Death" for about a minute - - and then coldly amused, and delighted. He would do nothing to hamper the Black God character, and even send servants to aid and save the “Black God’s” butt, if need be . . . and reap all the benefits himself, whispering ideas to the character in dreams to guide him to do certain deeds. Only if the NPC “Black God” failed publicly, in a ridiculous manner, would Cyric abandon him and send servitors to slay him and disown him as “an impostor, laid low because of his defiance of Cyric, the TRUE and Only God of Death!”
In other words, the character would be placed in the horrible situation of having to succeed impressively (or get away clean) every time, to avoid an unpleasant death. Bwoohahahaha, and so on.
Sounds like an interesting campaign. :}


So saith Ed. Master of the Realms, but not the creator of Cyric (myself, I’m guessing Jim Lowder was).
P.S. Rino, I don't know of anything on the Net re. Embersea yet, though I can tell you it's a medieval/Renaissance-era fantasy setting involving a cluster of islands/continents (and I'm afraid that's about all). Ed built SOME stories into Castlemourn and there are others that are or were available on the Net (one was serialized in GAME TRADE magazine, and the links provided here at the Keep by Faraer, I believe, though I don't know if they still work). Ed plans to talk to the folks at MWP about doing more Castlemourn, even as free online fiction only, the moment he has the time.
Aye, there's the rub . . . we need more Eds. ("Isn't it rich, aren't we a pair? . . . Send in the clones, there have to be clones . . .")
love to all,

 Hi, all.
Sage, Ed has indeed given much thought, over the years, to possible Volo descendants. None of which has ever seen print, as editions change, the Realms timeline jumps, and TSR and WotC staffers blow hot and cold on the status of Volo (destroy him utterly! sorta like him as useful, y'know? No, make it as if he never existed! etc.).
We'll just have to see . . .

Ah, but CRYSTAL SPHERES can collide - - and I recall Ed and Jeff Grubb discussing this very cataclysm at a GenCon seminar, back in the day . . .
Hmmm, off to Ed this one goes (and Hoondatha's, and . . .).
Ed who has been cackling these last few days, as he imagines and schemes new Realmslore for publication somewhere, somewhen.
(I'm expecting an answer in about three hours, to pass along to all scribes.)
love to all,


On April 29, 2008 THO said:- Hello again, all. This time I bring you Ed’s Realmslore reply to this query, from createvmind: “Ed, conjoined twins, can you give a regional take on such children, are they considered abberations, allowed to live?
Regions, the North
Western Heartlands
Any elf region above or below ground
Any dwarf region
Border Kingdoms
Thanks and hope for any tidbit.”
Ed replies:


It depends. On the individuals involved in the birthing, in the faiths prevalent in the community and at the birth, and on the region.
By individuals I mean the world-views of the parents and immediate family, and the general outlook of their races, which are as follows: dwarves, so desperate for offspring, are (as Dalor surmised) accepting of all “not-sturdies” (deviations from the norm, or ‘deformities’). As are gnomes and all goblinkin (goblinkin such as orcs, goblins, hobgoblins, ettins, etc. will cruelly tease all fellow goblinkin for every pretext, but not shun, mistrust, or cast out deformed racial kin). Halflings, elves, and humans vary, having no race-wide attitude - - except for gold elves and drow, who DO place a premium on ‘normality’ and even beauty, and will cast out or kill “abominations” such as conjoined twins.
Moving from individuals to faiths: those faiths linked to the land and fertility (such as Chauntea, Silvanus, Eldath, and most of the elven, gnome, and halfling gods) are generally accepting of not-normal babies: all conception and growth is good and most be tolerated, accepted, and “best used” (so, how can these conjoined twins best serve the community? what can/should they be trained for, and given to do?). Cyric’s (and Bane’s) priests are taught by the god that “misfits” offer perfect sacrifices for ritual murder, to demonstrate dedication to the god and the desire to strive for obedience, purity, and through them, progress [improvement of self] as individuals. Most other faiths are somewhere in between these two viewpoints (priests tend to cleave closely to any doctrine from on high in such matters, and to pray for guidance if they’re uncertain of the deity’s views; on matters of life, conception, and acceptance, most clergy (unless sane, or under intense pressure that plunges them into fear or hatred) know that they dare not “make their own rules” on such matters.
Lastly, the region, which tends to have “community norms” built up through years of laws and decrees of rulers and wide-reaching events (such as wars, pacts, diseases, famines, and the like).
The North tends to be a harsh, frontier, ‘everyone for themselves’ land. If the birth is in howling wintertime and circumstances (parents on the move due to prowling monsters, lack of food or warmth, etc., conjoined twins are sickly) it might be necessary to just leave them to perish, and move on. This decision would be left to the parents and any community leader (elder, warrior leading the traveling band, etc.) and everyone else would accept it, without remorse, second-guessing, or dissent. Otherwise (parents sheltering in one place for the winter, community support exists, etc.), the very harshness of the North would demand that the twins be given all possible aid and chances to live and flourish. Many misfits dwell in the North, tolerated far more than in warmer cities in more southerly lands.
The Western Heartlands consist of rural and urban areas. In rural areas, tolerance is the norm. In cities with different classes of society, prejudice is more common, and quietly killing and hiding such offspring might well occur. (Athkatla, for example.) Waterdeep is more tolerant (due to its crossroads nature) than most cities, but upper-crust parents would almost certainly have the baby disowned and quietly “vanished,” either sold to someone in Dock Ward to ‘dispose of,’ or to “someone they know” to take down into Skullport. Noble parents would NOT do this, for fear of someone getting hold of an heir and rearing them in secret to use as a weapon against the family in future (after, all, if you control THE family heir, especially one who is possibly helpless-without-you, you can slaughter all of the rest of the family in arranged “accidents,” and then install your heir, gaining control of the family wealth and properties in one fell swoop). Instead, noble families will use all means they can hire to do away with ugliness or deformities, and if that’s not possible, they’ll hide away the “offending failure of their blood” behind closed doors in one of their largest and most secure homes (city mansion or country estate), where that unfortunate will live out their lives closely-guarded and watched over by attentive servants, hidden from the rest of the Realms.
Commoner parents who can’t bear to look at deformed or “ruined” offspring often hired them out as apprentices to a craftworker elsewhere, or who travels, to “live new lives” in the company of others. That’s why many troupes of traveling entertainers are dominated by tolerant-of-each-other misfits of “freakish” looks.
In Calimshan, rural areas are home to many misfits, as are the “dirty” jobs in cities (sewers, dung-wagons and garbage carts, animal handling). Elsewhere, anyone so “disgusting before the gods” as conjoined twins would be shunned and driven away (with violence in the form of swung sticks and flung stones if they persisted) unless they hooded themselves and sat down to act as mumblingly inoffensive (not threatening) beggars (their only acceptable urban role). The exceptions here are the “personal beasts” kept as champions and entertainment fighters (wrestlers) by the wealthy and high-ranking; many of these are mongrel folk or half-orcs, but they can include all manner of “not-normal” humans, so long as they’re strong.
As I’ve mentioned, gold elves and drow tend to be intolerant of deformed individuals. Other elves may quietly avoid such beings out of personal discomfort, and might well choose them last as dining or living companions, but won’t mistrust them or think them ‘not-elves,’ merely because of their deformity. Sylvan-dwelling elves of all sorts tend to not care about “deviances from the norm” at all, because they see such a variety of life among forest creatures; to them, it’s far more likely to be seen as all just the natural way of things.
Old dwarves may harbor strong inner prejudices against any “different” dwarf, thanks to memories of past plagues, and magical monster attacks that possessed or dominated dwarves, that caused deformities. This, added to the everpresent tales of greedy human wizards using shapechanging magic to adopt dwarf-shape to find just where dwarves keep their gold and gems, will make them watchful and suspicious of all dwarves who seem “different.” However, dwarves are used to keeping themselves under iron-hard discipline, and were so hungry for so long to have young dwarves to replenish their dwindling numbers that they are willing to accept any dwarf, in any condition. “We still stand in the shadow of the doom of oblivion,” as one elder put it. As a result, they will be “ever-watchfully acceptive” of conjoined twins or any deformed dwarf.
In Rashemen, the matriarchal, nature-bound society leads births that are different of the norm to be VERY closely examined by various Witches, using their spells to make sure there is no fell creature hiding within, or influencing, the babe. If that’s determined not to be the case, the infant is fully accepted, and reared and trained for a role that will make use of, and be well suited to, its particular skills and disabilities. Conjoined twins who might become witches would be separated, if possible (that is, if there was a good chance of survival for both of the twins), due to fear that their dual nature would make them “unbalanced” when handling the most powerful magics (that is, more easily swayed by all human emotions, and therefore more susceptible to doing evil out of swelling rage and hatred, or plunging into insanity, as the emotions of one twin fed on and bolstered the emotions of the other). (I’m not saying they are correct in this belief; I’m reporting that it is the belief that exists and would be held with each new “Touched One” [or “ones” in the case of conjoined twins; the phrase refers to “touched by the gods”].) The underlying belief is that not-normal births are humans touched by SOMETHING, so they are examined to make sure it’s the gods and not some fell demon, devil, or other malicious creature; if it’s the gods, then the gods touched the person for some purpose, and they must live and be accepted until that purpose can be revealed and fulfilled.
The Border Kingdoms are a rough-and-ready frontier area, but have been settled (and are constantly being re-settled) by all manner of outlanders from elsewhere. Most of them can appreciate what it is to be outcast or at least a misfit, and are used to encountering and dealing with a wide variety of creatures and backgrounds among fellow Borderers - - but they ARE from a wide variety of “origins elsewhere” in the Realms, and therefore reflect the full variety of views and reactions; there’s no regional norm.
I hope all of this helps to answer your question, createvmind.
To anyone who finds the language and ideas expressed in this answer a trifle harsh, I’m sorry, but I value honest answers above all else, and don’t think modern euphemisms used for real-world “political correctness” purposes either apply to the Realms, or should ever stand in the way of clarity.


So saith Ed. Who, by the way, volunteered at Bloorview Childrens’ Hospital during his youth (back when it was still on Bloor Street, although he has visited its newer North York location), a Toronto institution that houses terminally ill and what were then called “handicapped” children and youth.
love to all,


On April 30, 2008 THO said:-  Not at all oddball, createvmind, not at all. We both enjoy them!
And hello again, all. This time, scribe Jamallo Kreen will hopefully be delighted to learn that his persistence has borne fruit at last. Ed can now provide a partial answer to all of this: “As a result of my previous rants and whining, Ed said:


January 27, 2006: Hi, all. This time, Ed replies to Jamallo Kreen's post: "Thank ye kindly for the answers thus far, and rest assured that I shall continue to poke, prod, and otherwise disequilibrate the applecart in the future.
There was one tripartite question of mine which may have been answered and the answer lost in the shuffle of my cyberdesk, and which I therefore repeat: What the heck was that magic black curtain across Yellow Snake Pass during the Time of Troubles; what happened to things that passed through it; is it still there?
I await your answers on tenterhooks. (Or at least on osteophytes.)"

Ed speaks:
Oooh, tenterhooks. This's going to hurt, because I'm going to have to leave you hanging. However, feel free to disequilibrate away... :}
Seriously: I hadn't forgotten your query, but was sitting on it in hopes the NDA would end when the project that was going to pick up on this "loose end" was published. However, it hasn't yet, and so the NDA continues. For now. Sorry.
So saith Ed.


Just to be on the safe side and not miss something which has left me curious for years, I think I'll re-post my query every 18 months or so, in the (perhaps vain) hope that WotC will finally provide the gist of the answer and the NDA will go away, so that Ed may give us the details. So there it is ... again. :)

(I do recall reading recently -- where my vacuous memory cannot recall -- that the Zhents had sent one or more expeditions into Yellow Snake Pass, so is it safe to say that the black whatever-it-was isn't there any more?)

(By the way: many, many thanks to kuje for codifying "So saith Ed" into pdf files; I was able to retrieve Ed's answer to my question within a few seconds.)


And thanks to the aforesaid pdf file number 14, I now know that, on April 15, 2007, The Lady Hooded One posted:



'Forgotten Realms Adventures, page 121: 'Zhent "Long Road to Riches:" a controlled caravan route from Zhentil Keep to the Sword Coast, via the Tesh valley, Daggerdale, the Stonelands, the Desertsedge and Goblin Marches, Yellow Snake Pass (guarded by the great Zhentarim fortress of Darkhold), Skull Gorge, Dawn Pass, Llorkh, Loudwater, and the River Delimbiyr.

The FRCS, page 225 says about the Zhents in Yellow Snake Pass; 'until early in 1372 DR., when Thayan wizards and mercenaries from Hill's Edge drove the patrols into cavern shelters in the Underdark. For the moment, Yellow Snake Pass is free.'


Well, as I previously warned, I'm going to keep asking about Yellow Snake Pass and that black thing and what was on the ... other ... side of it at least once a year in hopes that Otiluke's Impregnable NDA Screen finally comes down. With the Realms about to leap a century into the future in a few months, apparently, now seems as good a time as any to ask again. It can't still be NDA in the 15th century, can it?”
Ed now replies:


Right, here we go. The curtain was a gigantic, special-strength, anchored by Zhent beholders “curtain of blackness” or “curtain of darkness” (D&D® players from the original Greyhawk booklet of the 1970s will remember those), designed to conceal all scrying and spying (so, yes, it blocked most magics seeking to see into it). It concealed an area large enough to hold two large caravans at the same time, one inbound and one outbound, and also concealed what those caravans would be passing through: one of the largest “gates” [3e: portals] ever constructed in Faerûn. A glowing, restlessly unstable maw of light that could swallow and disgorge a caravan fourteen outriders in front of six wagons, abreast. The Zhents struggled to keep the gate “up” and operating (maintaining it proved nigh-fatally exhausting to human spellcasters, and hard going on the beholders, too) for some time, before finally giving up. The gate was intended to whisk caravans across Faerûn between the gate location and the Sword Coast cities, and allow the Zhents to make killings on high-priced, vital goods in the confusion and disarray of the Time of Troubles. The human Zhents hoped it could be used to move armies and bring in some least devils to fight with them as allies, whereas the beholders were secretly trying to bring in many, many “beholderkin” (eye tyrant-like creatures of lesser powers, under THEIR control) through the gate. These competing desires meant that the “other end” of the gate was always shifting, making it a conduit for all sorts of unintended monsters, including at least one full-sized and mightily annoyed dragon.
I say “partial answer” because NDAs remain over just what passed through the gate, and what places (yes, plural) its “other end” reached.
So there you have it. For your campaign purposes, of course, it can reach any other fantasy world setting, continent, or Underdark locale you want it to. Have fun. ;}


So saith Ed. Revealing vital, eye-opening Realmslore wherever he goes. (Well, I open MY eyes, anyway. Safer, and all that.)
love to all,


On May 1, 2008 THO said:- Hello again, all. Back in February, lordhobie asked: “Well met, Ed and THO! Regarding the topic of 'childhood bugaboos:' given that the Realms is chock full of 'real' monsters who would scare the wits if not the life out of many adults, what 'night-time monsters' do parents of the Realms cajole or threaten with? I seem to recall that the Night Serpent was known to be invoked for such purposes, but wondered if there were others...”
At the time, I made reply with this: “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).”
Ed now replies:


Hello, lordhobie! Thanks for the fun question.
THO is quite correct about Cormyrean parents using the Haunted Helm (in Arabel it is said to come flying out of the Stonelands, and in Marsember and Suzail it purportedly rises, dripping, out of the murky harbor waters), and Borderers telling tales of the Baron of Blacksaddle.
In Waterdeep, Crawling Claws (usually said to be the rotting hands of “bad sailors” who drowned in the harbor, or the severed hands of adventurers eaten by monsters in the depths of Undermountain, whose hands survived because they were encased in metal gauntlets, that have “only now” rusted away) are used as a night scare (as in “They come to snatch and pluck naughty children, dragging them away, never to be seen again!” and if any child asks how they’ll get me out of the locked room or that tiny space under the door, parents generally say the Claws will tear the child apart so as to have only tiny scraps to slide through such narrow spaces).
Throughout the Heartlands, parents retell “scare-tales” of the Crawling Claws, and also of “The Curst who watches you forever.”
Up and down the Sword Coast and across the Sword Coast North, the bogeyman role is usually filled instead by “kobolds and goblins who watch for bad children, to come and snatch and eat them, RAW!” (Interestingly, kobold and goblin parents change the rapacious snatchers to “halflings.” :} )
Of course, individual parents (and the neighbours of unruly children in towns and villages everywhere) invent many, many different bogeymen. The faith-based ones tend to be “wriggling worms from the Nine Hells” or “flying blind little biting jaws from the Abyss,” but warrior families who most strongly venerate Tempus often speak of “hacked and severed pieces of dead warriors, that rise from a fresh battlefield somewhere in the Realms and come flying to get you, terribly fast, low over the ground . . .”
Interestingly, orc parents speak of “shining, terrible-eyed elves who burn you with their silver touch.”
And so on. Er, happy scaring! I think. :}


So saith Ed. Who thinks scaring kids is a bad idea, but who delighted in scaring teenagers at camp, when he was a councillor, telling campfire stories under the stars late, late at night . . .
[delicious shiver]
* I * recall him whispering Cthulhoid stories to us up at the cottage, and caressing us in the dark with handfuls of cold, wet, limp spaghetti iiiiiiii!
love to all,


On May 2, 2008 THO said:-  Hello again, all. A reply from Ed just landed in my inbox, and astonishly, it’s to the message I most recently sent him!
To whit, this from Hoondatha: “Hello again, Ed. I have more of a scholarly question this time. I've lately been reading Professor Lynn White's book Medieval Technology and Social Change, which describes how the invention of the stirrup and the heavy eight ox wheeled plow were driving influences in the formation of feudalism and the open field system of the Middle Ages. Since the Realms is loosely based on that time period, I was wondering if you had read the book, and, if so, what implications you think it has on conceptualizations of the Realms.
And while we're on the subject of agriculture, I have a question about Goldenfields. It's called a massively productive farm that helps keep Waterdeep from starving, and I'm curious how they do it. What innovations, magical or mundane, have they come up with that makes it a better farm than elsewhere in the north, and what about that area made them decide to build the farm where they did? Since a former PC in your campaign is currently running the place, I was hoping you could share some wisdom on the area.”
Ed replies:


Hi, Hoondatha!
I’m afraid I haven’t read that particular book, but I have studied history both academically and casually for about forty years, and have become very familiar with “what had implications when” regarding the stirrup, various forms of water pumps and ploughs, paper, local understanding of crop rotation and fertilization, etc. in the Dark Ages/medieval/Renaissance times in Europe. That sort of knowledge has shaped my ongoing creation of the Realms NOT as a “must ape real-world history here, and thus,” but as a deepening aid to understanding causes and effects and spreading implications (the ripples spreading out across the pool from where the flung stone plunges in). This in turn allows me to judge the wide social effects of particular magics, and so on.
Goldenfields is a vast walled temple-farm where hundreds of acres of fields are tended with zeal, full irrigation, and expertise matched nowhere else among humans regarding “companion planting” (carrots love tomatoes, et al). Tolgar Anuvien is the character you mention, and he trains and coordinates the priests under him in using spells he has crafted or perfected to banish blights, kill insect pests, and drive off such damaging predators as flocks of hungry birds, hungry bunnies, and burrowing voles - - and most importantly to affect temperature and moisture to avoid the killing frosts that afflict much of the moisture-abundant North, so crops inside Goldenfield’s walls don’t suffer nearly as much “kill off” as those outside. In addition, Goldenfields practices enthusiastic experimentation in pickling, warehousing, fermentation (into medicines, cordials, and wines) and drying of edible fruits and vegetables.
All of which has made for maximum yields, and the temple-farm’s famous role as the “granary of the North.” Built where it is to be within irrigation reach of the great river Dessarin, and easy market reach of Waterdeep (which is both an important port and a huge food market that can’t possibly feed itself due to building on darn near all the tillable soil within its walls), as well as “on the road to” Silverymoon and the heart of the Sword Coast North, Goldenfields has expanded often; its generous gifts of food and seeds to those in need have given it a “kind, nice” reputation. That, coupled with its holy nature, make it more of an “attraction” in the minds of all than a target.


So saith Ed. Creator of Goldenfields and Waterdeep and the Realms all around them. Afet, I know Ed has read “Guns, Germs, and Steel” as well as “Rats, Lice, and History” and for that matter many books, from long-ago L. Sprague deCamp titles to far more recent releases, on what inventions and innovations occurred when, and what effects they had. (I’m away from my own books right now, and am trying to recall the title of one Ed mentioned to me a year-and-some ago; something about “Windmills, Waterwheels, and - -” something or other . . . Anyway, his shelves bristle with such tomes [Salt, A World History, a similar book about rice, all sorts of books on medieval engineers and how they must or could have built Stonehenge, Roman aqueducts, roads, et al.]
love to all,


On May 4 2008, THO said:- Charles, Ed is tied up with family matters and frantic paid writing (vastly overdue) too, right now, but * I * certainly enjoyed your Illance-related adventure writeup. Nice (nasty, but nicely done, I should say). I've sent this new page of postings off to Ed, and he'll no doubt check out your descriptive thread of the adventure and get back to me some time in the next few days.
(He may also, judging by past Ed performance, surprise me out of the blue with an answer to an older lore query, from any page of any of these Questions for Eddie threads since they were established in 2004, before then.)
P.S. To the scribes who were wondering as to the fates of Sharess in the "new" Realms, I believe, from the MANNER of Ed's verbal response to me during our last phone call (rather than any specific words of his), that Sharess is still around in some form or another in the 4e version of the Realms. Again, this is an inference on my part rather than a definitive confirmation on his.

createvmind, I'm away from home at the moment (work-related trip) and so have no access to my rulebooks. I honestly can't recall if "surrendering" to animal forms a human has shapechanged into is covered in any D&D or Realms sourcebooks or rules as a specific risk, but I CAN say that it is a recurring theme in fantasy fiction, from Tolkien (Radagast and the two "blue" Istari becoming "lost" for a time in the life of Middle-Earth, straying from their tasks; the ents who "turn tree") through McKillip (the shapechanging lord in Hed who "forgets himself" and remains the tree he's turned into) and Eddings and many, many other writers before and after . . . including Ed, though again I can't remember if he's explored this extensively in his Realms writing or only in his Aglirta, Falconfar, and unrelated fantasy short story writings.
It does make for great roleplaying opportunities and adds a "possible price" to magic use that can make it at once more interesting and more momentous. As a DM, it should be something that afflicts Player Characters very rarely (and gives them saving throws to "snap out of," if they succumb to it), to be used more for great storytelling purposes rather than anything players come to view as a "Dm's weapon, used against us."


On May 5, 2008 THO said:- Hello again, all. I bring another pinch of Realmslore for all scribes from Ed of the Greenwood, this time in response to GoCeraf’s question: “Mr. Greenwood, If someone were unable to think of a word, or lost his train of thought in the middle of the sentence, what vocalizations would he say? For instance, I say "Erm," or "Ah" (I try to avoid "Uh," because it does not sound particularly intelligent).
Would this also vary by language? I know that the Japanese equivalent is "amo," but I think that's just "um" with the syllabic completion.
Or is it that people in the Realms are notably more articulate than I? It worries me, as I find myself trailing off a bit these days. All the best.”
Ed replies:


Several times I’ve tried to introduce this into published Realms fiction, but editors have swooped in and removed anything more than “Ah” or “uh” or “ahem.”
The truth is, of course, that everyone has their own patterns of speech (for instance, one Waterdhavian noble always says “Stop me vitals!” and Rathan of the Knights usually said "Aha, aha," whereas Vangerdahast [thanks to someone in the playing group seeing the movie MOZART] aways declaimed, "So there you are!" . . . I can add that many Cormyreans and Dalefolk of the generation now starting to grow old add “look you” to the end of most utterances).
“Latulatul!” is the halfling equivalent, literally being the vocalization of a tongue stuck out, drawn in, then stuck out and drawn in again.
“Durgdurg” is the orc, half-orc (and now Luskanite, too) variant of this; it means “no quarrel, no quarrel,” and is derived from “durgreos” (a long-standing, formal responsive greeting among orcs of the Sword Coast North, that means the same thing).
And so on. “Feddleah!” is a recent Calishite and Tashalar nonsense word used in place of “um” by traders, and it’s spreading rapidly (already heard in trade-route communities in Tethyr, the Vilhon, and Amn). “Garn it” or just “garn” is surfacing around the Sea of Fallen Stars and along the Heartlands trade routes (through Berdusk and Iriaebor), and “sah-haul” is Chessentan equivalent (now heard in Turmish, the Vilhon, and Mulhorand, too). So far as is known, these last two examples are also nonsense words or phrases.
As in the real world, this is an aspect of language that’s very individual, specific from place to place, and changes constantly, so feel free to devise your own.


So saith Ed. Who has always enjoyed linguistics in the “interesting old corners of English” sense, both academically and casually.
love to all,
Yes, Wooly, he was. Ed drops his presence (and that vocal line) into descriptions of background chatter in Waterdhavian clubs, festhalls, and upper-crust eateries and taverns all the time.
I believe Ed got the line from one of the School For Scandal-era plays he saw at Stratford (the actor Brian Bedford using it constantly as the "zounds!" -style interjection of his major character). [By "Stratford" I mean the fifty-odd-year-old Shakespearean Festival held annually in Straford, Ontario.)

'Twas Lord Roaringhorn, I think. I may be misremembering, though; it could have been one of the other two "roaring old" noble lords who were Roaringhorn's drinking chums. Ed played them all like the classic Fielding character Squire Alworthy: salt of the earth roistering, burly, hard-quaffing and harder eating old rips. Blunt, leering, gusto-for-life sorts.
The Company of Crazed Venturers bumped into them more than we Knights did (probably because the senior players, common to both groups, had learned quite well what they were like and saw good reasons to often avoid them ).


On May 8, 2008 THO said:- Hello again, all. I bring once more gems of Realmslore from the pen of Ed of the Greenwood, in response to query from scribes of the Keep. To whit, this time, Blueblade, Wooly Rupert, GoCeraf, Verghityax, and Mkhaiwati!
First, to Blueblade’s question: “As I recall, Ed detailed the city of Teziir for DRAGON, must be two years ago now (it was supposed to follow Crimmor into print). I seem to recall mention of Chris Perkins being given copies of this, after Paizo's license expired.
Do we know the fate of this lore? Any chance of it appearing anywhere, that you've heard? Thanks, BB”
Ed makes reply:


Blueblade, I honestly don’t know right now. Yes, Chris was given a copy of that, but it’s not as if he’s had nothing else to do, since. :} I’ll have to ask, now that you’ve piqued my curiosity, but I may of course not end up being at liberty to share my answer with you (NDAs, you understand). The possibilities include, of course: DDI or other website appearance, use in a Realms sourcebook of some sort, RPGA use (in the right geographical “region”), use as a novel setting . . . and so on. I guess we’ll just have to see. :} (No, I’m not being mysterious or teasing, I’m being philosophical. 4e has plunged spanners into the hearts of SO much ongoing work that not all the dust has settled yet, by any means.)


Then, to Verghityax’s query: “Dear Ed of Greenwood and lovely Lady Hooded One,
A long time ago (half of a year or so) I asked Ed about mapping of certain places in Elturel and Iriaebor but they were under NDA due to some legal troubles and license that TSR sold to some company. With Ed's kind permission I'm back to pester him with my query again. Has anything gotten clearer in this matter or NDAs still prevents Ed from passing any lore? Thanks in advance for your answer”
Ed replies thus:


Sorry, Verghityax, but Elturel and Iriaebor are still under NDA. I suspect the need for these NDAs may soon fade away, but NDAs are ironclad until specifically removed; if I were to just assume they’ll go away, I’d be in the same situation as a race car driver who drives his car at full speed towards a stone wall, assuming it will crumble away before he reaches it. So the answer, for now, must still be: I can provide you with nothing more at this time. However, please keep asking; one never knows.


Moving on to Mkhaiwati’s post (in response to a comment of mine about a book Ed had been reading): “Probably Cathedral, Forge, and Waterwheel by the de Gies. They also did Life in Medieval city, Village, etc.”
Ed responds:


Yes, that’s the book, all right. One of about seventy loosely-related-by-subject tomes I often re-read for pleasure (I’m especially fond of an obscure tome, THE COMMON STREAM, that follows a hamlet in England from prehistory up to the time of writing [1950s]) to ground myself in “WHY things are thus and so, in vaguely medieval times.”


. . . Which brings us to GoCeraf’s linguistic question, Ed’s reply, and Wooly’s query about the identity of the Waterdhavian noble Ed mentioned, whose verbal habit it is to often (as an “um” equivalent) exclaim, “Stop me vitals!”
Ed now adds this:


The noble in question is indeed Lord Vastarr Roaringhorn (his twin brother Kuldos is far more dignified, stay-at-home, and restrained in word and manner). THO is quite correct in saying “Old Lord Roar” (Vastarr) was present in the Inn of the Dripping Dagger the day when it was first visited by the impressionable young Princess Alusair, and she undoubtedly acquired the habit of using that same phrase on that day, from hearing (and probably being impressed by) him.
Lord Roaringhorn is big, burly, loud and deep of voice, and much given to hearty, dirty chuckles, winks, leers, jests. He has huge, hairy fists (his fingers adorned with rings), is strong enough to crush metal flagons easily in his hand, pick up tavern chairs with persons sitting in them and hurl them, or pluck up entire massive timber tavern tables and fling them some distance down a room. He’s very slow to lose his temper, though, and never rages for long - - and he is capable of eating and drinking prodigious amounts with no more ill effects than hearty belching and farting.
He often strolls around Waterdeep of evenings with two similar-of-appearance-and-manner old friends who also happen to be noble patriarchs: Royus Adarbrent (a spry, spike-chin-bearded old salt and widower with a large nose, many gold teeth, a handsome amiability, and a hunger to get hitched again) and Baerom Thunderstaff II (a gravel-deep-voiced, huge-nosed and red faced old rip who can still break skulls or hands or jaws with a single solid punch, as many a sneering younger man has discovered to his dismayed and painful cost). The three love to flirt with anyone who wants to, and to watch romancing and dancing and everything from duels and brawls (small ones that they need not get involved in or take any official notice of) to prostitutes pleasing customers or putting on salacious stage shows, and love to hear minstrels, bards, and amateurs tell colourful stories, good jests, and sing sentimental or funny songs.
Think of them as out-of-shape, overweight, somewhat slow of gait “young rakes out on the town, and up for a bit of fun or gallantly helping strangers or a new cause,” and you’ll have them down right.
I have indeed, as THO says, played Lord Roaringhorn and his two gruff, loud, unabashed contemporary “elder patriarch noble lords” as Squire Allworthy types (the classic “salt of the earth” character from Henry Fielding’s TOM JONES, and yes, I know I’m shortening the proper title of that novel). Those not familiar with that particular branch of the cultural tree can think of these three lords as equivalents of Statler and Waldorf, the two opinionated old geezers in the balcony from “The Muppet Show” television series (their jesting, not their constant complaining).
I make a practice of putting him (and that “stop me vitals!” line of his, which was indeed drawn from a Brian Bedford performance in a Restoration comedy at the Stratford Shakespearean Festival) into the background chatter of many clubs, revels, Palace feasts, and upper-crust eateries and taverns featured in Waterdhavian Realmsplay.


So saith Ed. Who is battling much adversity at the moment, but still loves the Realms and those who adventure in it or just read about it (so keep those questions coming, scribes!).
love to all,


On May 9, 2008 THO said:- Hello again, all! I bring another Ed Realmslore reply for us all, this time to a question posed by crazedventurers: “As a follow up to the Goldenfields answer, do communities keep extensive warrens and fish ponds to supplement food production. If so would there be similar advancements in creating the right type of environment for the rabbits and fish to flourish? (either 'natural' or magical)
Also do other faiths use similar 'bountyful prayers' a la Chauntea to increase crop yields, animal husbandry, growth of trees etc to 'speed up/ensure productivity.
Do wizards get involved in this work, for instance would the Crown of Cormyr encourage Wizards of War to develop spells that banish pests or create 'instant fertiliser' etc?
Ed replies:


A handful of communities keep warrens and fish ponds to “farm” meat and fish for the table (and most steadings across the Realms are mixed-crop farms where game is kept penned for food, from lizards in some of the hot lands to the familiar chickens in temperate Dalelands). Many coastal communities construct weirs as “live pens” for shellfish and other fish collected in tidal shore nets and traps . . . and so on.
Yes, clergy of Umberlee in the case of said coastal communities, and many other deities in places where temples of that god exist in a community, have developed small spells that keep eggs (and plants) warm but not too warm (and wet but not too wet) regardless of outside weather. So other faiths do work to increase crop yields, tend livestock, renew and shape natural growth, etc. to help feed local mouths. However, this is small-scale, often “unofficial” as opposed to being part of the doctrine of the faith, and “sideline” (whereas for Chauntea, it’s the main thrust of worship and religious service).
Wizards get involved in such work rarely. In Cormyr, War Wizards were called in to work hard alongside every other spellcaster in the realm to help repair things (prevent famine, and banish the blight) in the wake of the Devil Dragon war, but in general it would not be part of their work to do so. Across the Realms, a wizard MIGHT develop a pest-banishing or crop fertilizing magic if commissioned to do so, but it isn’t the sort of magic that most arcane spell users and creators would think of trying to create, or be comfortable developing. They would have to “work up to it” by crafting, handling, and mastering spells that brought them closer, step by step, to this sort of nurturing (as opposed to what they are more used to: spells of short or instantaneous duration that cause damage or an effect that is often violent and usually a single-step transformation as opposed to initiating or boosting natural growth or development.


So saith Ed. Who has been creating official spells for the game since 1979 or so, and has built up quite a roster of them (and if one uses the "component" spells he put into Volo's Guide To all Things Magical, it's possible to roleplay a one-player-one-DM campaign, or a more conventional campaign using several PC wizards, focused on continuously devising and using new spells).
love to all,


On May 11, 2008 THO said:- Hello, all. I bring more Realmslore from Ed, this time in answer to Broken Helm’s question: “In the pre-Spellplague Realms, if a Harper was killed by a Malaugrym and was seen by someone trusted by the Harpers (or another Harper) who managed to report the Malaugrym to a Harper right away, how quickly would this word spread among Harpers? How quickly would they tell a Chosen of Mystra, and again, how quickly would other Chosen know?
I'm thinking: Malaugrym revealed, witness speaks of it to a senior Harper or Master Harper within an hour or so, is believed instantly . . . so how swiftly does word get around, after that? Thanks!”
Ed replies:


The best answer, of course, is: it depends. :}
On WHICH senior or Master Harper, where they happen to be and what they’re doing at the time, what magic they have that can be used to communicate with others, etc. In general, they will attempt to inform a Chosen of Mystra or Harpers in Berdusk or any heavyweight Harper they know how to contact right away, without any delay.
That could easily take 1d4 days, and another 1d6 for word to be relayed “back out to the troops,” with most “humble Harpers operating on the ground” being at the high end of that time (so, 8 to 10 days).
However, if powerful Harpers are already working together in the vicinity of the ‘Malaugrym who was seen to be a Malaugrym,’ they could all know about it by the far end of the same day as the report, or even sooner.
The guiding principle here is: everyone involved in the communication chain will strive not to delay spreading the word. The ‘top’ Harpers and the Chosen, who can use magic to speak into the minds of many Harpers, will get details (including mental images of the shape(s) the Malaugrym was using as a disguise) spread around VERY quickly. Yes, Malaugrym have ended up being recognized by their disguise-shape and chased “hard and fast” by Harpers who intend them never to have a moment of peace to shift shape without being seen, until they can be cornered and magically blasted. At least one Malaugrym was recently killed in this way, chased into a wooden hut and hit therein by two blade barriers, as the hut was fireballed and burned down around them.


So saith Ed. Who does not recommend “scorched Malaugrym” as good dining fare.
Love to all,
P.S. Thanks for your lore replies, George. Superb! Off they go to Ed, who I know will agree with my assessment of them.


On May 15, 2008 THO:- Hello again, all. This time I bring more words of Ed, this time in response to Jamallo Kreen’s very recent query: “Seeing George's reference to "The Great Conflagration" made me recall "The Rain of Colorless Fire" on Oerth, which prompts a question for Ed: Do you think that the repeated occurrence of two empires engaging in "mutually assured destruction" in RPG settings is an echo of the Cold War? I've seen the movie Matinee, set during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and I've just realized that you, Gygax, Arnesen, M.A.R. Barker and other "founding parents" of role-playing were pretty much of an age with the kids in Matinee (Omri Katz, et al, John Goodman not included).”
Ed replies:


Well, Gary had twenty years on me, Dave’s age I can’t recall (but he's Gary’s contemporary), and Professor Barker is older than Gary.
Moreover, I can’t speak for others. I can only tell you what went on in my head. :}
With those caveats stated, I believe (especially considering the use of phrases like “the Invoked Devastation” and the explicit ‘brought it upon themselves’ story that went with it) that you may indeed be on to something.
I use the word “may” deliberately, however, because although Gary and other game designers may very well have been using fantasy settings and characters to comment on our real world (as Terry Pratchett does, I do, and so on), any fantasy writer or game designer who is familiar with the root classics of fantasy (the god-king epics and ballads and eddas, not just the later chivalrous epics (of Arthur, Amadis of Gaul, Palmerin of England, etc. etc.) and the William Morris and Lord Dunsany tales that led into “modern fantasy” well before Tolkien ignited a literary fantasy genre, is necessarily familiar with many, many instances of “decadent high-flying societies bringing doom upon themselves.”
Atlantis and the downfall of King Arthur are just two examples of this.
I looked to those sort of magnificent tragedies, rather than “Ban the Bomb” or “Dr. Strangelove” or the endless spy thrillers (Le Carré and Fleming anchoring opposite extremes of that genre), as my inspirations when crafting details of the Realms. For instance, in ELMINSTER IN MYTH DRANNOR we see some decadent elves, and the disaster their behaviour is rushing them towards. Some readers have criticized that depiction as showing them “too-human” elves, but I disagree. I deliberately intended to show that what we think of as “human nature” is “universal nature” when it comes to decadence and folly, and we can see elves and dwarves and dragons making the same doon-laden mistakes in the Realms before human empires did. Netheril was an echo of tragedy, not ground-breaking in its scope.
My father was a NORAD radar expert, back in the day, and despite reading and enjoying E.E. “Doc” Smith’s Operation Bullfinch doom scenario in TRIPLANETARY, I never felt all that terrorized by the Cold War. I DID feel enthralled by all the fantasy classics I was discovering, and for me, they certainly had the greater impact.


So saith Ed. Who has been to the Diefenbunker and the old underground command center in North Bay, but has only seen Cheyenne Mountain on television.
love to all,


On May 18, 2008 THO said:- Hello again, all. Ed has been very busy these last few weeks dealing with family matters and trying to catch up on his long-overdue writing (for Solaris, in particular). Yet it’s past time he provided us with new Realmslore, and here he is again.
To althen artren: as with most people my age, I have some ongoing or recurring aches and pains. I don’t think the gunshot wound is contributing to them right now, but . . .
Thanks for asking. The important thing is, I’m still alive, and still happily heralding Realmslore, to whit this from Ed:


I would also like to echo Elaine’s call for Wizards to hire George Krashos, though I know better than to expect any such hiring to take place. George’s work is outstanding and has been so for many years, during which he has enriched the Realms greatly (this latest lore post is just one shining example). He deserves much wealth, praise, and chances to craft official published Realmslore to his heart’s content. Meeting George for the first time at GenCon Indy ’07 was a real highlight for me. George, the welcome mat is always out for you!


Hear, hear! Hearty echoings from me. Ed will provide lore to supplement George’s recent and superb Realmslore reply in this thread, but has some other replies to provide this time around, to an array of questions from a “novice Brazilian DM” named “Cad” (I believe) passed on to us all by Chosen of Moradin: “I´m creating an adventure based near Espar, in Cormyr, and need of some help to start with my players.
The place will be like a base for the group, the players give their character choices: a paladin of Tyr, son of a baron; a human barbarian; a sorcerer with draconic heritage that want to be a war wizard; a dwarf, priest of Moradin; a warrior of the cormyrean army; and a black earth genasi from Mulhorand(???).
1. How can a player character enter to the War Wizards and to the Purple Dragon? (to the organizations, to the PrC is well documented).
2. There is the possibility of exist a Cormyrean barbarian? And what will be the more plausible option?
3. About the nobles, how is the organization of the Cormyrean nobility (titles, hierarchies, etc.)
4. How could I handle the "ordainment" of a paladin of Tyr
5. How could I handle a presence of a Mulhorand genasi, how the Cormyreans will interact with him?”
Ed replies:


For joining the War Wizards: the sorcerer will be required to register (give his name, place of origin, intended place of dwelling or route of travel within the realm, blood sample, and sigil if any) with the War Wizards, just as any arcane spellcaster is. If he expressly asks to join the Wizards of War, he’ll be told (by any War Wizard NPC) the polite equivalent of “Don’t call us; we’ll call you.” However, he will also be watched covertly and closely from that moment on (including by War Wizards using spells to spy on him and listen to his utterances, from afar). The War Wizards want all adventurer-wizards active in Cormyr to be bound by adventuring charter, or to leave the realm, or to serve the Crown, or to join their ranks, so unless the sorcerer is a “bad apple” (flouts the laws and behavioural norms of the kingdom often and casually), he will eventually be asked to join. Which will mean he ends up serving as a spy or open reporter on the deeds of his adventuring companions, and can be ordered (usually by a testy Vangerdahast or another senior gruff old Wizard of War, if your Realms campaign has the War Wizards run by someone else, such as Caladnei) to undertake all sorts of dangerous tasks (read: ways you the DM can drag the PCs into adventures) at any time. The actual joining will involve mind-reaming (an exhausting mind-meld spell in which a senior War Wizard who can easily mentally overpower the PC sorts through all of the PC’s memories and sees EVERYTHING, so let’s hope the PC doesn’t have too shady a past) and then the swearing of an oath. An example of a mind-reaming can be seen in my novel ELMINSTER’S DAUGHTER; the oath appears in my 2004 questions thread here at the Keep, I believe (Sage? Kuje? Wooly? Alaundo? where is it, exactly, please? :}).
For joining the Purple Dragons: the soldiery of Cormyr is always short of strength, these days, and simply volunteering at any garrison location is enough to get a PC “halfway in.” There’s an oath of loyalty (simplify it from the War Wizard one, with loyalty sworn to the ruling monarch; if your campaign is during the Steel Regency, the oath will specify serving Azoun V directly or “through the Regent, and none other”), the signing of a “bond” (simple contract, with pay specified; the PC will start as an “armsman” or trainee soldier, at 1 cp/day plus room and board; pay will increase to 1 sp/day for any sort of “combat duty,” and mounts and all gear are provided free of charge; pay will also increase as more training is mastered, and of course increases with rank; there are various notations over the three-and-ongoing years of this thread as to pay, rank, et al, plus the rank table given in POWER OF FAERUN), mind-reaming again (by a middling-level War Wizard), and then assignment to a trainee “patrol” at a garrison.
Please note: whereas PC adventurer War Wizards are typically “fairly free” to go adventuring, PC Purple Dragons are NOT. Being a soldier of the Crown means military duty, darned near all your waking hours, not racing off to delve into dungeons or pick fights with monsters or anyone else. Trainees are not going to be sent into danger or anywhere near any royalty or sensitive areas, unless the realm gets plunged suddenly into war.

No, there are no Cormyrean barbarians. Which doesn’t mean there can’t be a “barbarian” IN Cormyr. This would most likely be an unlettered, untutored “backwilds” human who’s wandered south from a subsistence-level family in the northernmost reaches of Thar or the Sword Coast North (Ice Mountains vicinity, or fled from a more westerly Uthgardt tribe thanks to a blood feud, oathbreaking, or other trouble; any human from the Sword Coast North is likely to have been displaced by strengthening orc activity). There’s also the slim possibility of having come from subsistence-level Nar or other human family from somewhere between the Great Dale and Sossal, but you’ll have to come up with “how the character got to Cormyr.” Myself, I’d use a gate/portal, but then you’ll have to decide if the character can find or use that gate again, or (preferably) if it’s been lost or destroyed.

The nobility of Cormyr are a large and complicated topic that I haven’t even begun to address properly in print. Pre-Spellplague, there may be as many as 120 noble families, if you count all of the exile, banished, possibly-extinct ones. There are generally about forty wealthy and influential noble families in Cormyr, with a dozen or so really powerful ones that a PC “son of a baron” can’t possibly be from. Most of them are called “lord” or “lady” in general daily parlance; there aren’t enough “barons” in Cormyr for a PC to easily be from a Cormyrean family and still be the “son of a baron.” I’d suggest that the PC either be from the Cormaeril family (recently lost noble status and most wealth and lands, though individuals are still allowed to serve the Crown as soldiers, earn ranks and titles, and remain as citizens, perhaps becoming ennobled in the future in their own right rather than because of their blood) or an exiled family (again, is the son of a baron but that now means nothing except suspicion in Cormyr), or hales from the nobility of Chessenta or perhaps Tethyr. As a DM, consider carefully what advantages you are handing the PC if they can call on noble privileges, wealth, and connections whenever they feel the need.

As for the ordainment of a paladin of Tyr, there are two elements here: the “Trueing” (the official ceremony or ritual in which a paladin is “sanctified” to “ride forth as an arm of Tyr,” dispensing justice, fighting injustice, and generally being a paladin in the name of the god, able to call upon and even command the support of His church), and the “Testing” that leads up to this ceremony: the Great Task that anyone desiring to become a paladin must successfully complete in order to be granted paladinhood.
I would suggest that a PC paladin begin play by having to carry out this Task with the aid of a “band of companions” (the rest of the PCs) so as to force him or her to become part of a team rather than being the loner he/she has hitherto been, and that this Task be some sort of dangerous adventuring mission in Cormyr, perhaps recovering a holy relic stolen from a temple of Tyr by someone wealthy and powerful in Cormyr (a senior courtier, a noble, or a wealthy and powerful merchant in one of the three cities; in other words, a major and tricky task). If the PC fails, there may be severe social consequences for all of the PCs in Cormyr, but the Church of Tyr understands that daring and danger holds forth the possibility of failure, and will merely assign another Task. HOW the PC paladin carries out the task is of utmost importance: he/she must try their utmost not to break any laws, and not to create any injustice by their deeds and words or through what they failed to say or do. Simple for me to outline, but can be VERY hard for a player to guide their character through, without missteps, in the hands of a good DM.

Cormyr is a tolerant, “crossroads” trading land; citizens of all of its three cities and all waystop communities along its central and eastern roads are used to seeing all manner of “strange outlanders.” Unless they look very like a known or legendary “dangerous monster” (for most Cormyreans, known monsters include carrion crawlers, doppelgangers in their “native” form or seen during shapeshifting, and goblins; legendary perils include drow, illithids, and dragons), the treatment a particular “outlander” receives depends on how he or she behaves. A black earth genasi from Mulhorand would be ridiculed if trying to make a living as, say, a lap dancer in a high-end city festhall or club, an attendant arranging tiny fragile ceramics or jewelry pieces in a crowded shop, or perhaps a fashion model, but would otherwise generally be treated as “just another trader” or laborer (“Ho, touch of giant blood in that one, I’d say!”). On the other hand, a black earth genasi from Mulhorand who set up a bone altar and prayed to orc gods would get attacked, pronto. If the player handles the PC according to what RACES OF FAERUN says about the attitude and demeanor of most earth genasi, the character should be accepted readily by Cormyreans (though they may glance at him or her twice, or stare with interest, just because the character is a tad “different” and therefore interesting).


So saith Ed, who remains frantically busy, and begs your patience as he continues to make Realmslore replies when he can. Keep those questions (and rants and hellos and everything else, too) coming.
love to all,


On May 19, 2008 THO said:- Thank you both, Wooly and Sage. I'm sure I posted that somewhere here at the Keep in answer to a query, but it might not have been in any Questions for Eddie thread. Sigh.
Markustay, I can tell you that many bits of Ed lore chopped out of Realms products by TSR and WotC editors have shown up later in subsequent FR products. Neither Ed nor the publishers want to waste any of that chocolaty Ed Realmslore goodness. However, by contract and by professional practice, Ed NEVER applies writing done for one company or setting to another. He may parody or take an opposing angle on a fantasy archetype (like dark elves), or re-use a well-established trope (idea) of fantasy, but applying, say, gnome lore from the Realms to Greyhawk just doesn't work, and mars both settings, so . . . no, Ed doesn't.
Now, as for joining the War Wizards: nice idea, but you're overlooking the fact that both Elminster and Khelben have been around for centuries, and have worked in and with Cormyr in many matters. Both were made War Wizards before Vangerdahast took over the organization (El even tutored Vangey), and though they won't submit to the authority of any latter-day Mage Royal, they're not above showing up and playing along, or even giving orders to War Wizards (Laspeera and Caladnei are both a little afraid of El and Khel, but welcome such interventions, because they've always been to the benefit of the Forest Kingdom, whereas Vangey resents the challenge to his authority, even when he grudgingly gives thanks or requests such aid).
This all comes from many conversations with Ed, down the years, not off the top of my head.
So, yes, Ed IS the insanely creative machine pumping out stuff you envisage . . .

love to all,

Ah. Ed tells me he was speaking of the incongruity of a large-featured (massive muscles, large hands and fingers, "heavy" appearance) genasi trying to work in crowded, gleaming, ornate surroundings full of breakables. (The "bull in a china shop" image.)
Ed wasn't saying genasi are clumsy or wouldn't be able to perform the necessary tasks for such employment, Ed was pointing at the unlikelihood of anyone in, say, Suzail HIRING a "brutish-looking" genasi when they can select "shop help" from among dozens of tall, curvaceous, beautiful female human applicants. Who are 'traditionally' the sort of attendants found in such shops (as opposed to the owners or jewellers themselves, who may be dwarves, gnomes, or humans of any appearance; many are bespectacled [thanks to years of peering exactingly at tiny things] and frankly "dumpy" persons).
There. One potted explanation, served up fresh'n'hot . . .


On May 22, 2008 THO said:-  Hello again, all.
Markustay, what SORT (wink, giggle) of comment were you looking for, re. “Raw Ed”? After all these years, I can make SO many . . .
And yes, Ed did create archliches for LOST SHIPS (after obtaining design approval from the TSR designers of the day to include a “good lich” in the game, to support some good or at least benign to PCs liches that had appeared in fiction and game products).
As for this comment, from Wooly Rupert: “I've always thought the deliberate embrace of undeath was a bit of an odd option for cheating death. One idea I've always preferred was for a mage to transfer his consciousness into a specially-prepared automaton. The end result (no longer worrying about death, aging, and other physical frailities) is the same, plus the automaton body would be more durable, nicer to look at, and wouldn't be physically rotting away. I know if I wanted to last a few more centuries, I'd choose an option where my fingers falling off wouldn't be a concern...”
. . . Ed has a response, as follows:


I see nothing at all wrong with your reasoning, Wooly, and although Newt Ewell specifically asked me to add a brief “drow biomech” section to the original (2nd Ed) DROW OF THE UNDERDARK, the “official but secret” design directives of the time were to avoid all “android and robot” flavouring in AD&D® because TSR was planning a robot roleplaying game, PROTON FIRE. Longtime DRAGON® readers may recall that it was featured in the back pages of just one issue of the magazine, as a preview; the game was “killed” on the very brink of its release by TSR’s upper management. So, just like de-emphasizing psionics in the Realms because they were to be a cornerstone of Dark Sun®, we were told to avoid mechanical/robotic/android/bionic elements for the AD&D® game. THAT’S why the embrace of undeath rather than the “build your own new body.”
As for the alternative “clone or birth your own new body and then move into it” approach, THAT ran afoul of the internal Code of Ethics, TSR wanting to avoid further trouble with the religious Moral Majority stances of the day. For years - - as various Realms NPCs have aged - - I have flirted and toyed in my Realms fiction with exploring the ethical choices they make about how to prolong life (for those who wish to do so). I plan, editors willing, to do more of that in future fiction.


So saith Ed. Illuminating the design backrooms of the Realms and D&D® for us all.


On May 28, 2008 THO said:-  Hello again, all.
I must apologize to all scribes; I got called away on an urgent work assignment and had no leisure Net access for a few days.
When I returned, I found that Ed has been wildly busy, too, but did find time to pen replies to TWO outstanding questions from this thread (and mention he’ll get to Melvaunt as soon as he can).
First, to Longtime Lurker’s query: “Quick campaign question for Ed or THO: if I need to build a sturdy, year-round-habitable but modest home in the Dales VERY QUICKLY, and can't call on magic, how should I do it? Type of construction, whom to call on, how much expect to pay? Thanks!”
Ed replies:


I’m going to assume a cave you can defend against bears, etc. isn’t handy, okay?
Here’s the fast way. Find unclaimed land (enough for a small vegetable garden plus a one-room home, with a spring or access to running water).
Find two trees of good size (trunks as thick as your thigh), with one of them splitting into a crotch/”Y”/fork about twenty feet up. Fell them, arrange them on the ground in an arrowhead shape with one fitting into the crotch of the other at the “point” of the arrow, notch the straight forkless one so it’ll “stay” in the crotch and not slip, tie a good stout rope around that joint to hold it in place and to provide “haulage,” then cut a third good stout tree about sixty feet tall or more (so there’s at least fifty feet of stout trunk).
Haul (with some friends or hirelings) on the rope to raise the arrowhead of two trunks upright, and peg the rope to the ground to keep it that way. That’s your front wall frame. Run a small wagon in under the upright arrow and raise the third, long tree-trunk on it, using wooden props, rope, hauling (and the usual swearing!), to reach the arrowhead. Then notch it as necessary to fit one end of it OVER (on top of, without slipping) the arrowhead, and that becomes the ridgepole of your roof. Pull the wagon out, and fell and saw lesser trees (flat side in, leave bark on and put bark side out) to overlap each other along the ridgepole, both sides. Cover with earth, moss, and so on, and you have a rough earth wigwam, requiring posts and boards only to fill in that front wall frame and make a door. Find flat stones to line as much of the floor as possible to prevent it ALL becoming mud in wet weather, and start hunting furry things to make sleeping furs before winter.
Wealthier folks who have or who can buy a wagon can use it as the “backbone” of the house. Just park it where you want to the house, cut wood to make stout props under the axles to take all weight off the wheels, and start sheathing its walls until you have posts enough to support a roof. Again, seal with mud, encourage plants to grow all over it to anchor it, and you’re done.
It’ll be neither comfortable nor stylish, but it’s fast, cheap, and if you can build a cooking oven facing its front wall and heat stones to sleep with, of nights, it’ll keep you alive through most winters.
So you’ll need some friends with tools and strength enough to cut and haul wood, and/or a wagon, and/or enough coin to hire some woodcutters (who will have their own horses, and will easily have skill enough for this sort of “rough raising” of buildings). Expect to pay a copper/man/day (he’ll have his own tools, and will be able to build a simple one-long-room lodging like this in three days at most; a gang of five or six should be able to do it in one day, barring blizzard or goblin attacks.


So saith Ed. Who also tackled this query, from A Gavel: “Hello Ed and Lady THO, I am intrigued by the possibility that Ed's "home" Realms campaign includes not just plane-hopping, but world hopping. Have the Knights or other Realms-based PCs ever visited Aglirta/Darsar, Castlemourn, Embersea, or any other fictional settings (Ed's or those of other writers)? Thank you.”
Ed replies:


Yes, I have run PCs through the Wood Between The Worlds (as envisaged by William Morris) to (briefly) reach the alternate “Otherwhen” Earth of H. Beam Piper’s Lord Kalvan. They have also met some mysterious gate-hopping travelers who may or may not have been Amberites (as in: Roger Zelazny). I have never plunged them into any fictional worlds belonging to a living fantasy author except me (Darsar, far from Aglirta), and because of the subtle way some gates have operated, they have actually been in these “other worlds” more than they ever realized.
Once, in a winter wood, the Knights THOUGHT I was showing them the lamp-post of Lewis’s Narnia, in the distance, but when they got there, it was actually the leaning marker that features at the end of the classic John Bellairs novel THE FACE IN THE FROST (for those who haven’t read it - - and everyone should!!! - - I won’t ruin the book by explaining more about what that marker is).
When they tumbled to what they were seeing, their faces were a picture. It was a wonderful moment (THO, for instance, actually shivered).


I did indeed, and it WAS a great moment. Not, for scribes who might misinterpret this, a “DM gets the players” moment, because Ed doesn’t run games like that, ever. It was a shared “oooh” moment of quiet, hushed awe.
love to all,

You assume correctly, LL. That's exactly what Ed was describing (because he's described several nigh-identical Shadowdale dwellings over the years). He also left out the "dig the latrine far from the stream, with tree-roots between" bit, but I can assure you it should be in there. He must be VERY busy and distracted right now, poor thing.
love to all,


On June 1, 2008 THO said:- Hi, all! Ed and I have both been a bit busy (Ed's busy-ness relates to a visit by an esteemed scribe, but I'll leave it to that Realms lorelord to spill the beans, if he desires, and not take it upon myself to violate his privacy).
Dreamer, I PM'd you some answers. Too late, I'm afraid, but as it happens Ed has already dealt with many of your questions in previous years of this thread; hope you found them.
Afetbinttuzani, Ed structured "The Cormyte's Boast" after a famous (and very old) English folksong known as "The Vicar of Braye," and its tune can therefore be used to sing the Boast to.
More from Ed himself in a day or so, I hope!
love to all,


On June 4, 2008 THO said:-  Hello again, all. This time, I bring Ed's response to Blueblade's recent query, above:


Certainly I've been THINKING of lots of Realms tales to tell, pre- , during, and post-Spellplague. However, I'm so behind on projects for other publishers that I've only been WRITING those other things. Whilst my agent negotiates with Wizards about my future writing for them. I'd love to charge ahead with some lovely ideas that have been rampaging around my forebrain for months, now (spurred by re-reading my early Elminster books, collected in THE ANNOTATED ELMINSTER, and while finishing THE SWORD NEVER SLEEPS, the third Knights of Myth Drannor book), but there's only one of me . . .


So saith Ed. Who has been chained to the keyboard for what seems like years now, folks. Sorry. that should read: What IS years now.
love to all,


On June 6, 2008 THO said:-  Hello again, all! I bring some brief words of Realmslore from a still-frantically-busy Ed, to whit:
sfdragon just asked: “will mielikki still be around post plague?”
and Ed replies:


Although this would definitely come under the heading of things I can’t talk about until the FRCS is officially out and about, let me hint thus far: I haven’t heard any specific news of her demise or destruction. Hope that helps.


. . . And scribe dravenloft inquired: “Ed, Lady THO, I've two somewhat related questions about the way ordinary people perceive certain character types.
Wizards and warriors seem to be pretty well covered, as well as certain clergy -- namely Tymora, Tempus, Helm, and the other more traditional adventuring lot, or the evil ones they tend to wind up fighting. I'm curious how Joe Farmer, Willena Tavernmistress, Billy Butcher, etc... see the likes of the clerics of Lliira, Sharess, Mielikki, Selûne, and Azuth. What do they tend to expect of them, how are the likely to feel about being anywhere near them, and so fourth? Particularly in the Heartlands areas and Sword Coast regions in 1368.
Same question but this time regarding a dwarven bard inspired by the notion of swashbuckling with an axe. 'Bard' in the sense of being a travelling/adventuring minstrel and storyteller -- his magical ability is absolutely nil and unlikely to ever improve. He's as flamboyant and fashionable as a classic Errol Flynn character. Thanks in advance.”
Ed replies:


Given the time and place you specify, I’d say these “average folk” you list regard such clergy as follows:
To be respected if met (remember: everyone “believes in” all the gods) but generally avoided or “not sought out” unless you need the services of their deity, or advice or aid in matters pertaining to the portfolio of their deity.
Said common folk all know the general attitudes and interests of the deities and therefore how such clergy are LIKELY to behave, and will be wary of specific clerics if they have “heard things” that dismay them about a specific church, or priest, and to a lesser extent if the holy person is a stranger from afar (not so much if the holy person is a stranger but from the same land, and less wary still if the priest is a person they know, or knew before the person “went away and joined the church”).
In general, one “watches oneself” around clergy, avoids blundering into holy rituals or “private church matters” (if you are an average commoner not alert for war or with a “bee in your bonnet,” and you see two priests talking in the woods, you draw back out of earshot rather than creeping closer to eavesdrop, whereas an adventurer - - such as your dwarven bard - - might instinctively try to overhear), but doesn’t hate or act in a hostile manner towards clergy.
Realms fiction has often featured corrupt or aggressive or just plain evil clergy, even of non-evil gods, but that isn’t necessary the general perception. Commoners in the Realms can be just as cynical as modern-day real world North American citizens, but that doesn’t mean that all priests are automatically assumed to be lying crooks.
Your dwarven bard is likely going to welcome contact with clergy of Lliira and Sharess (“Hey, now! When does the party begin, holyhips? I’m HERE for it, mind!”), be cordial with those of Selûne (Don’t want to get lost, have bad things happen by night, so may the moon shine bright on us all, hey?”) and want to avoid servants of Mielikki or Azuth, or at least be anxious to let them know he means no trouble (“Heh-heh! I use this axe for war, not on trees!” and “Magic, eh? Useful, useful, no good at it meself, but got no quarrel with those as do!”). However, I speak in likely generalizations, here, not certainties for every individual.


So saith Ed. Who is still in the saddle, riding hard along the Realmslore trail, scribes!
love to all,


On June 8, 2008 THO said:-  Hello again, everybody!
I bring another snippet of Realmslore from Ed, this time in response to this early 2008 (Page 1 of this year’s thread) question from Asgetrion: “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?”
This was echoed by Kuje, desiring to know the specific heraldry of the Caunter family, a request which was in turn echoed by Rinonalyrna Fathomlin.
Ed now replies:


The First Folk are constantly trying to set themselves apart from, and “above,” other Berduskans (despite the general sneer from those citizens that these strivings or “silly airs” provoke). Heraldry and the associated use of ‘colours’ are one such way the First Folk do this (catchphrases, everchanging fashions and etiquette, and an everchanging array of specific accessories, such as decorated metallic glove-cases, or sculpted metal boot slip-on toe-caps, and scepter-like “personal batons” are some of the other ways).
‘Colours’ are uniform hues worn among a family and its servants and hirelings for “outergarments.” Meaning: the ankle-length weathercloaks favoured by all Berduskans for winter warmth and to keep off the rain (most people have a light summer cloak and a heavy woolen winter one), except for hirelings, who wear a pull-on “greatsleeve” (a shoulder-to-wrist armband of the same family “colour” that’s simply pulled on over the hireling’s usual garments). A hireling is anyone temporarily hired, or an apprentice, as opposed to someone who’s considered lifelong household staff.
Typically, to distinguish them from the garments of other Beruskans who may happen to own and wear clothing of a similar shade, First Folk ‘colours’ have “edge trim” along all edges of a garment (bottom, collar, and along every opening; most greatcloaks button up with an overlap, down the left front side or the right front side) of a straight, single line of contrasting stitched-on cloth (until recently, only of gold, silver, green, or amethyst purple); its only deviation from the straight edge shape and position is that it loops (over itself, once, in a elliptical loop like the “bow” of a modern real-world “tying your shoes” knot, said loop thrusting “into” the rest of the garment, away from the edge) whenever it turns a corner (i.e. at a collar).
Yes, First Folk families do have and use both elaborate blazons (“coats-of-arms”) and simple badges. A few have mottoes, but these aren’t universally used or recognized, and some of the families who do use them change them as whims dictate, or “splinter” so that one generation or faction within a family uses one, whilst another cleaves to another. The First Folk aren’t “officially” nobles, and tend to ignore all Heralds and laws of heraldry.
Badges are worn on the breast (as a pin) and as a belt buckle for servants and hirelings; First Folk family members wear them as belt buckles, pendants, earrings, and on wristlets. When wearing cloaks, they may have small shoulder or throat badge-pins, but NEVER large breast-pins [so they won’t be mistaken for a servant or hireling].


Colour: sky blue with scarlet trim
Badge: the knot (intricate knot - - which knot varies, without denoting anything - -of white rope)
Blazon: the three-toothed turret (single, squat golden castle tower topped with three merlons, surrounded by a pentagon-shaped loop of rope that “encoils” [loops around] sheafs of wheat, sacks of coins, swords, warhorns, chalices, and glowing wands [the number and arrangement of these adornments varies almost every time this blazon is painted, drawn, graven or stitched)


Colour: orange with amethyst purple trim
Badge: A curving boar’s tusk, crossed diagonally over a dagger (tusk is oriented upper right/lower left)
Blazon: a symmetrically-curved-bottom-point, flat-top shield of copper with the boar’s tusk crossed over the dagger charge large and central, plus a small green frog, facing to the left, centered underneath the crossed tusk and dagger, and a smoothed round, glowing ruby centered above it


Colour: white with leaf green trim
Badge: a white silhouette of a horse’s head, facing to the left, on a leaf green oval
Blazon: a crimson archway, standing on a leaf green bar, so as to enclose a white field in which are centered a leaf green horse’s head, facing left, above a steel gray war gauntlet (left hand, balled into a fist, horizontal and with fingers towards the viewer and to the right)


Colour: emerald green with white trim
Badge: white warhorn, diagonal on an upper right/lower left orientation, mouthpiece low and trumpet opening high, on an emerald green oval field
Blazon: same as badge, but surrounded by an oval of alternating silver stars, many-rayed and with the longest rays being the up-and-down vertical ones, and silver swords [though recently, many family members have begun to use blazons with all sorts of weapons rather than just swords, though these weapons, no matter what their nature, are always depicted as all of silver]


. . . So saith Ed, and he’s not done.
I’ve split Ed’s reply up so as not to run into any post length limits and stop the Candlekeep server from accepting this post (like many scribes, my ability to even connect with the site has been rather rocky, lately), and will send the next part tomorrow, hopefully with another swift, simple reply or two from Ed stitched onto it.
love to all,

 Heh. It's not a matter of needing to persuade him, it's his ever-more-pressing time constraints and busy-ness.
Rest assured that not counting what's appeared already, Ed will be published this year in the form of three new novels, at least four new short stories in as many mass market paperback anthologies, at least two game products and probably more, some web articles and fiction . . . AND hold down a day job and attend conventions and lead his daily life. The Father of the Realms isn't exactly sitting around with his feet up, enjoying retirement.
However, since you ask (and I love doing it, she murmured naughtily) I will have a go (or two) at "better persuading" him.



On June 9, 2008 THO said:-  Hello again, all! I’m presenting more of Ed’s heraldry of Berdusk answer this time, plus this:
Alisttair asked: “My question for Ed is, in what month (and maybe even, what day) did the fall of Netheril occur in -339 DR?? If this information is available (and I cannot find it in How the Mighty are Fallen or the Netheril boxed set or any other source so far). Thanks!” and later added: “Would it be safe to assume it occured in Kythorn perhaps??”
To these, Ed replies:


The ‘proper’ answer is, of course, that the fall of Netheril happened not just on one day, but over much of that year, with the immediately resulting diaspora and the rising and falling of realms spreading out over several years after that. However, I believe we can date the Folly of Karsus (the “trigger event”) to the first three days of Kythorn or the last two days of Mirtul. (Today’s Faerûnian sages disagree over just when.) George? Eric? Help!


So, now, to the second part of Ed’s heraldry details (he hopes this isn’t screwing up your email campaign too much, Kuje):


Colour: orange with silver trim
Badge: the flagon (copper flaring chalice, oriented diagonally upper right/lower left)
Blazon: the flagon, on an oval white field that has a border of alternating gold coins (featureless, circular golden discs) and logs (short, horizontal pieces of bark-on treetrunk roughly hewn at both ends)


Colour: emerald green with copper trim
Badge: stooping hawk (diagonal gray teardrop, oriented upper right/lower left, with open beak and golden eye at bottom left, no other body details)
Blazon: stooping hawk on an oval field of copper, surrounded by an emerald green border adorned with random clusters of copper coins [featureless circular discs] and drops of blood [crimson vertical teardrops]


Colour: deep purple with gold trim
Badge: the gage of war (vertical left-hand wargauntlet, clenched thumb-in fist uppermost and fingers towards viewer)
Blazon: the gage of war, upon a diamond-shaped, dagged-edges field of orange “leaping flame” [every family member devises their own personal symbol or rune, and displays it upon a random number and arrangement of these tongues]


Colour: slate gray with gold trim
Badge: the “sentinel eyes,” a portcullis of thick gray iron bars, surrounded by a garter (belt-like oval, with a buckle and a curving-downwards “tongue” at the bottom) of black leather upon which float a random number of single, staring human eyes [forming a “ring of eyes” around the portcullis, with at least one eye on the tongue]
Blazon: the sentinel eyes on a symmetrically-curved-bottom-point, flat-top shield of gold that has its own border of scarlet blood: a thick red line along the top of the shield, but dripping not-yet-fallen-away teardrops of blood along the two curving lower edges [it’s the custom of Halabart family members to write various “slights” or conflicts or perceived dangers along the bars of the portcullis, but all of them tend to so record different things, some of them naming rivals within the family and within-the-family conflicts, and others exclusively naming external foes]


Colour: light purple with silver trim
Badge: the silver spear (a diagonal silver-hued spear, oriented upper right/lower left, on a light purple oval field bordered in an unbroken string of tiny, overlapping white diamonds)
Blazon: the silver spear badge, used as the central charge on a large, metallic-golden diamond-shaped field that also displays various smaller charges, always in metallic purple [every family member uses - - and changes - - their own, at personal whim; most blazons have at least three but some have had as many as nine], including kegs, wagon wheels, miners’ pickaxes, swords, fingers-spread human right hands with stars floating just off the tip of each finger and the thumb, six-strand whips, and pairs of flying arrows [always depicted as flying side-by-side in the same direction, with the upper arrow just the length of its own head ahead of the lower arrow]


. . . So saith Ed, and there’ll be another part to follow, too; he WILL cover all of the First Folk families. Our Realms-Father is, as usual, very busy (the unfinished Falconfar trilogy for Solaris books looms largest on his desk at the moment).
However, he doesn’t want “the Big Change” in the Realms or the technical difficulties of the Candlekeep site or anything else to stop scribes posting lore-queries here. Ed has every intention of just going right on rolling out Realmslore for as long as it’s wanted. (So keep those cards and letters coming in, scribes!)
Speaking of which: great post, Zanan! Off to Ed it goes!
love to all,


On June 10, 2008 THO said:-  Hello again, all! As promised, here’s the last instalment of Ed’s Berduskan heraldry of the First Folk lore.
First, though, Ed responds to this, from Zanan: “Vendui, Malla Hooded One! Reading Swords of Dragonfire right now, I double checked on the "game info" of the Knights of Myth Drannor and so far only found some notes in the Heroes' Lorebook. The latter though refers to a later generation of the Knights it seems, as half or more of the companions in there do not feature in said novel. Will there be more "game info" released on say Pennae, Islif and Semoor? The Heroes' Lorebook also spoke about fatalities amongst them ... can I humbly ask Elminster to watch over Pennae every now now and then? She - alongside with the other females - makes it such an enjoyable read!
Aluve, Zanan!”
Ed replies:

Hi, Zanan! When writing the Knights trilogy, I am in effect writing a condensed version of “Realms history.” It wouldn’t be right to change things that “happened” in the Realms just for the sake of a better story (or to keep characters alive).
I can tell you that the most extensive game information released about the Knights (though said lore contains some dating errors) is in FR7 HALL OF HEROES, the predecessor of the HEROES’ LOREBOOK, and that there probably won’t be any more “game info” released about the Knights (except perhaps informally, here at the Keep).
The Knights books all follow directly after each other without much passage of time “skipped over,” and they all take place in the past of the Realms, even from the point of view of “where we got to before the Spellplague hit.”
I can go so far as to reassure you that Pennae seemed healthy enough while I was writing the last book of the trilogy, THE SWORD NEVER SLEEPS, which should be released in late November or early December of this year (it’s written, edited, and “done”).
It looks like (aside from short stories, and my secret devious plan is to pound out enough of those to fill another book and then get Wizards to release that collection in a decade or so) we may have to leave the Knights behind when their trilogy wraps up.
For me, the Realms is a treasure chest crammed with several million untold stories, that I’ll never have time to even properly sort through (let alone tell), so (regretfully) I will turn to some others. For one thing, despite the nasty comments many Net-active gamers seem to make about Elminster, the silent majority of gamers who buy books can’t seem to get enough of him . . .
I quite agree with you that Pennae and the other female characters seem to provide much of the “bite” and “spark” in Knightly life and interactions - - just as they do in the actual play sessions, and I don’t ever want to lose a single one of them. On the other hand, there are far safer lives to pursue than those of adventurers . . .


So saith Ed. Who sent along the last instalment of the Berduskan First Folk heraldry; enjoy! Heeeeeere’s Ed!


Colour: crimson with white trim
Badge: a white key (round handle, long barrel with two side-by-side, identical flanges at the unlocking end), displayed in a diagonal [upper left/lower right orientation) on a crimson triangle [equilateral, positioned point-down and flat-top]
Blazon: entire badge surrounded by a corona of leaping orange flames (drawn differently every time the blazon is painted or stitched, but always having various weapons, mainly swords and daggers, depicted as floating in these flame-tongues, one to a tongue and looking brandished and active [various diagonal positionings] rather than stationary or peaceful [vertical or horizontal]


Colour: blood red with gold trim
Badge: “our honour,” two crossed, curve-bladed daggers [miniature, shortened scimitars] of gold, on a blood-red diamond-shaped field, the long axis of the diamond horizontal, and the daggers crossed in a shallow or flattened diagonal, the right-most-hilt dagger crossing over [in front of] the left-most-hilt dagger
Blazon: the crossed daggers of the badge surrounded by an oval of eight smaller pairs of crossed daggers, on a slightly larger oval of blood red surrounded by a band [outer border] of gold
[this is one of the most numerous and wealthy of the First Folk families, and down the years has been riven by many internal feuds and disagreements with other First Folk and “common” Berduskans, acquiring a reputation for deceit, cruelty, and decadence in the process]


Colour: brown with silver trim
Badge: silver unicorn’s horn (spiral-twisted straight but tapering horn, smooth-cut base at lower left, point at upper right) on a pentagon [oriented so “bottom” is horizontal] of brown
Blazon: triangle (horizontal top, point to center of bottom) of bright scarlet bordered with silver, upon which is displayed the silver unicorn’s horn, as in the badge, only with an “aura” or surrounding outline of brown, not on a pentagon-shaped brown field
[in the past, this has been one of the most artistic, sophisticated, and “affected” of the First Folk families, largely withdrawn (or pretending to be) from “common” activities and strivings; many Oyindles have been patrons of artists, sculptors, and dancers (and taken lovers from among them)]


Colour: yellow with green trim
Badge: “the trinity of splendor,” a row of three spindle-shaped cut emeralds (long axis vertical); two identical gems flanking a larger central gem, on an oval, long-axis-horizontal straw-yellow field
Blazon: badge, centered on a shield [a symmetrically-curved-bottom-point, flat-top shield, but elongated vertically so that it’s very “thin and tall”] of emerald green


Colour: yellow with amethyst purple trim
Badge: “the glory,” a many-sided (20-sided or more) cut gem of yellow-white, on a smaller circular field of amethyst purple
Blazon: no fixed blazon (every family member seems to make up their own, the only common element being a golden bird, beak uppermost and wings spread wide)
[one of the “newest” or “youngest” of the First Folk, sometimes derided behind their backs by certain other First Folkers as “not really one of us” and “upstarts, desperately trying to pretend they’re as exalted as we are”]


So saith Ed. Who is well aware that he still has some questions about gates and Roseportal House and suchlike to very soon deal with, but wonders if there is more Berduskan lore that would help in Kuje’s campaign? Or would new lore at this time hinder?
love to all,


On June 12, 2008 THO said:- Hello again, all. This time I bring you Ed’s Realmslore response to a post from createvmind, from back in late January of this year: “Hello All, Ed I assume that sentient magic items fall into select categories, items that know they were once living creatures, items that don't know they were once living beings and items that are coded to believe they are alive. Could you elaborate on this and if any of these groups can go insane from boredom, confinement in tomb or bottom of ocean or having disruptive magics cast on it to alter it's original purpose. Do they actually have the capacity for emotions or is this a false imprint given to help create a personality. What about the passage of time, does an item view times in hours and days or some other type of cycle to help stave off the possible long years of inactivity? Any bit of knowledge on this matter would be greatly appreciated.”
Ed replies:


Hi, createvmind! There are indeed sentient magic items of all three categories you identify, the first category being by far the most numerous (because the most popular magical methods of creating sentient items incorporate the minds of living beings, fused into items either by force, or willingly as their bodies begin to die or are so badly shattered that they agree to anything to be delivered from the pain.
All sentient magic items can indeed go insane. Boredom, however, is rarely the cause, because most items are constrained by spells (directly attempting to guard against insanity through this means) from easily marking the passage of time, often being enspelled to “turn off” (go into torpor or even unwitting stasis) when certain conditions are met (such as darkness plus immobility, continuing for a certain length of time). Disruptive magics strong enough to succeed in altering a magic item’s powers, trigger conditions, or original purposes certainly could cause insanity, but note that successfully altering such things is very tricky; low-power spells are simply going to fail, and sufficiently powerful ones must be very precisely and carefully worded and cast, or they’ll cause unintended effects (such as the explosive destruction of the item).
Sentient minds do indeed have the capacity for real emotions, and due to their essential frustration at being unaware to easily affect the world around them, tend to be obsessive. They can easily exhibit fervent, undying love or hatred, brooding and scheming on ways to bind love ones to them or betray detested beings. (On the other hand, the majority of sentient magic items exhibit a cynical detachment rooted in that same inability to affect the world: “Oh, dear. Another prince who ignored me, and paid the consequences. Throw me down and fall on me, you fool, then roll aside to finish your dying. Anything to get as much of your blood as possible off me before you start feeding the flies. My, my, so easily are dreams of conquest throw aside; you should have listened to me when I warned you to be more cautious out in the woods at night . . . but do they ever listen? Really?”)


So saith Ed. Well, that was fun. Remind me to contemplate a second career as an enchanted item. One that doesn’t need batteries (yes, spare me the comments; I’ve already wallowed in all of those possibilities, thank you).
love to all,


On June 18, 2008 THO said:- Hello, all. Great questions, Thom and everyone, and I’ve been obediently shunting them Ed’s way. He is (as usual) insanely busy, but has broken e-silence long enough to send me some replies for Keep scribes.
To this from createvmind: “Hello all, What beings prevent those who hunt sea creatures from bringing about the extinction of the whales and such? Is it Umberlee herself or sea-druids of various pantheons or both?”
Ed replies:


GoCeraf has it exactly right. The current numbers of whalers and “reach” of their technology is very far from threatening extinction. Simply put: as things presently stand, they CAN’T overfish any stocks (that and pollution/poisoning/habitat destruction are the key causes of rapid population decline, and in the Realms such rapid declines just aren’t happening; moderate population declines can be offset by increased breeding, keeping the numbers of whales and all other edible aquatic life more or less stable (with the gauge far over in the “plentiful” range).


So saith Ed. And to this, from IceTroll: “Hello, Mr. Greenwood. I think Castlemourn is a great setting, and I'm into 4th Edition right now, so I've started converting Castlemourn into 4th Edition.
As it looks like you are insanely busy, I won't expect a reply. However, if you feel like it, I'd like to hear your thoughts and advice on the best way to handle a Castlemourn 4th Edition conversion, as well as tell me if I'm going in the right direction or not with what I have so far; the Blogger containing my backup is in the website info on my profile. I had finished the golaunt and thaele, a list of gnome feats, and was almost done with the buccaneer when my word processor crashed - causing me to lose it all. I should be able to have that rewritten and more before you get around to checking it out.”
Ed replies:


Hmm. I’m not sure how best to answer this, other than to hint that Castlemourn isn’t “done with,” as far as Margaret Weis Productions is concerned (meaning: don’t be surprised if they’re busy with the same sort of work you’re contemplating, and might release it officially in time to come). Being as they’ve bought the exclusive right to do this, I’m left not being able to legally encourage you or look over what you’ve done. It’s out of my hands right now, and in the capable grasp of Jamie Chambers. Sorry.


So saith Ed. Who will return soon with more words of wise Ed-ness.
love to all,

Thank you for those words of praise, Zanan. I loved DRAGONFIRE too! Your post has been forwarded to Ed for his (hopefully quick) response.
IceTroll, Ed literally doesn't know re. Castlemourn. He isn't sure if Margaret Weis Productions will "officially be at" Origins (does any scribe here know?), but suspects someone from MWP will be attending, and he'll try to find out specifics re. what he can tell you then. So . . . by July 2nd or so, you should get a response here from him. He doesn't want your work to be wasted, and admires you for doing it all over again after your computer troubles. So hang in there, and we'll see . . .


On June 19, 2008 THO said:-  Hello again, all. I bring another Realmslore reply from Ed, this time to this query, from the1eyedking: “Hello Ed
Before I get to my question I wanted to thank you for taking the time to answer our questions and to provide us with a living breathing view into the realms.
Ed is the reason I started playing D&D, the PHB taught me the rules, but Ed's stories taught me how to have an adventure.
Anyway enough rambling, my questions is: How are the contracts to supply (with weapons/armor and general supplies) the Purple Dragons and other armed forces/local militas handled?
In my campaign Cormyr and the city of Shade are at war, with the war going poorly for Cormyr. The characters (who are Epic Level) are willing to aid Cormyr in exchange for becoming part of the landed nobility and securing their wealth through Government contracts.
Thanks in advance.”
Ed replies:


Hi! You’re very welcome! If my stories have done that [happy dance] then they worked!
[Roar of pleasure]
As for military contracts in Cormyr, they are officially awarded at the pleasure of the monarch (or regent), but in the past have in practice been handled by Vangerdahast. Since the Steel Regent came to power, she has increasingly been taking a personal interest into all Crown contracts (cutting through some minor but long-standing corruption among lower-level courtiers, and Vangey’s style of wheeling and dealing alike). Caladnei was morally uncomfortable with such practices, and as an outsider knew she was very likely to create problems by mishandling things anyway, through not “knowing” situations and the history behind them, so she urged Alaphondar and Alusair to step in.
Yes, Alusair is quite capable of making the sort of agreements your characters are interested in; she doesn’t mind at all having newcomers in the nobility who are actually going to do something to directly benefit the realm.
However, she will make it VERY clear (personally, in private) that any attempts to swindle the Crown of Cormyr, or any behaviour that makes it clear that the characters aren’t willing to become loyal nobles of Cormyr, but merely “self-interested nobles of convenience who want the status and the money, but not the obedience to the Crown or putting Cormyr first” will be richly rewarded in a negative way: Alusair will personally see the characters suffer or be slain, and will arrange to have others take care of this if she is killed or incapacitated (remember, she can call on Harpers, various adventuring bands, and Vangey’s dragon guardians to act for her - - or she could just call in some lesser or exiled nobles, and offer them a chance to gain exalted status if they “take care of” the disloyal characters.
In other words, if your PCs are willing to become passionate defenders of Cormyr, Alusair is perfectly happy to have them become nobles and earn her trust and with it the status of exalted senior nobles, confidants, and even friends (lovers?). However, betray her or the realm (and Caladnei’s War Wizards will be snooping constantly, to see what the PCs REALLY think and are up to), and she will turn on them like the proverbial enraged biting snake.


So saith Ed. Pointing the way towards a VERY interesting Cormyr-based campaign. He’ll soon be back with more, promise.
love to all,


On June 20, 2008 THO said:-  Hi again, scribes. This time I bring Ed’s answer to a query from Jamallo Kreen, in reference to this quotation:

May 27, 2006: Hi again, all. This time, the Sage of the Greenwood looks at RevJest's recent query: "In the supplement "The North", on page 12, it states that a stone plaque was found on the Star Mounts with the inscription: "iqebaest Vhalraetaerl". Can you shed some light on what this means, and what it's all about?"
At that time, Ed replied: I'm afraid not. That NDA still firmly applies. Sorry.

Jamallo Kreen recently asked: “Has this NDA not since disappeared? Can you expound further now?”
Ed replies:


Hi, Jamallo. I’m afraid not, sorry. The NDA is fiction-related (obviously, pertaining to fiction being written or planned for future writing by another author), and even if plans have changed and the NDA is no longer really necessary, I haven’t been told anything to that effect . . . which of course means the NDA is still in full force.
Now, down the years, there have been quite a few “orphaned” NDAs that have never been rescinded, even though events have made them clearly obsolete. Like silly outdated laws still on the books in real-world countries, however, they are “still there,” and I must get specific permission to ignore them (or formal assurances that they no longer exist). I will ask about this one (many people worked on The North box behind the scenes, Paul Jaquays had some plans for the Star Mounts when he first worked on them in FR5, and I recall Murray Leeder wrote a novel featuring this area; as you can see, things get complicated fast when checking old NDAs), and let you know when I can speak freely. If you hear nothing, assume I still can’t . . .


So saith Ed. Explaining one of the sadder details of working creatively on the Realms. Things were SO much simpler when it was just Ed’s world, and a query from any of us launched him into several days of wild creativity, and a whole new little pocket or topic or aspect of the Realms was suddenly glowing on a platter in front of us . . .
Ah, those were the days. I’ll just adjust my false teeth and squeak away into the corner with my walker to examine my original three little D&D booklets . . . [ahem, I’m JOKING here, scribes. Joking, okay? Please take it not amiss.]
love to all,


On June 24, 2008 THO said:-  Hello again, everyone! Ed tells me this will be his last lore reply until he returns from Origins.
Re. createvmind and althen artren, he has just this to say:

Hose job, eh? Can’t say as I’m surprised. When the lovely Lady Hooded gets up to her tricks, hoses are usually required eventually.
Gotta add this: if you sold that form of dice bag, I’m sure it’d be popular. Ahem.

. . . And with that off his er, chest, the Creator of the Realms applies himself to a Berdusk query by Kuje:
“I can't think of anything else at the moment that I need unless Ed wants to supply some fare/drinks that are typical to some of the ale houses?”
(Sage, don’t worry, he’ll get to your additional question re. the alehouses; he just ran out of time because he had to sort the recycling, do the garbage, pack the car, and do the dishes.)
Ed replies:


I’ll have to make this brief, and leave the food until next time. Okay, here we go:
“Small beer” is generally sneered at in Berdusk, because so much good beer is made locally.
The alehouses serve “red” (orange-red, fiery [peppery] hard cider), a fiery, black, almost licorice-tasting smoky stout known as “Old Dark,” and a lot of light ales.
These ales, known as “goldens,” are wheat beers sweetened with honey and flavored with all manner of local berries. They include:

* Annasker: named for the family who first made it, a sparkling, pinkish pale ale that tastes sweet but tart (like lemonade mixed with several berry juices)

* Belbuck: yes, a halfling-brewed beer, and by far the most popular: sweet, translucent green [yes!] because it’s full of fermented herbs that make it very strong [alcoholic] and yet minty [like spearmint, it clears other tastes, and chills the throat like menthol]; deceptive, so that many a traveler has drunk deeply before feeling the effects, and being unable to rise and walk across a taproom unaided

* Darndarr: a “sandy” or “nutty” flavoured beer, that goes silkily well with both seared meats and fish. Usually served by the jug (small earthenware jugs that collapse into powder if flung ot swung against something hard, making these preferred “drench people” missiles in pranks), this ale keeps very well, even out in the sun, and so many locals have crocks and kegs of it around the house for casual drinking and for use as a marinade or to “jug” perishables in, for longer keeping

* Helmatoss: a sweet, oily, clear pale ale that sits heavily on the stomach. Some say it was named for the long-dead tavernkeeper Alanra Helmatoss, others say its name comes from the violent vomiting it causes in many who over-imbibe. It is known (Harpers have tested and proved this true) to neutralize many poisons and settle many raging acidic stomachs, and is definitely an acquired taste. Those who have acquired it often drink great amounts (where one large tankard will leave a first-timer spewing) and swear by it. Warning: highly flammable!

* Zeskorr: a dark brown pale ale that tastes of salt (and, some say, fish; others just say it tastes “strange”). Again, an acquired taste apt to upset the stomachs of the unwary, but deeply enjoyed by those who do like it


The alehouses also serve a lot of wine, and many beers brought by caravan from all over Faerûn. More when I get back from my travels.
Faerûn Forever!


So saith Ed. Whom I hope to see in Columbus, though my superiors will probably try to keep me too busy elsewhere to swing by. However, if you should happen to see althen artren striding past with a bag of dice and a gleam in his eye, follow him . . .


Aha! As it happens, I can answer this one. The membership of the Seven Burghers changed somewhat down the years, but Garlin Reindorf Sandbeard (family name corrupted from "Sarandbeard") was not a Burgher. Rather, he was their hired spokesman, because he has a mellifluous voice, quick wits, and is a great orator and effective negotiator. He was also a worldly-wise traveling merchant who knew the ins and outs of places outside the dale better than the Burghers (who are pragmatic above all, and thus don't mind at all admitting someone else is more capable, and hiring him).
[This is paraphrased from Ed's notes.]
love to all,

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