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 2009

On April 6, 2009 THO said:- Hello again, all. I think I can handle this query from Asgetrion, before Ed "gets back":
Here's something I've yearned to ask Ed about for some time now... it concerns the "sundries" shops in the Realms: are they what we would call second-hand shops, and do they buy (and sell) all kinds of stuff (e.g. cutlery, tools and clothes) or just "adventuring gear" (armor, weapons, scabbards, etc.)? Also, can you trade stuff there, i.e. a farmer brings in a used shovel and trades it into, say, a knife and a belt?
How about "allgoods" shops I've seen mentioned... are they equivalent to "general stores"? Or can you really buy/order, well, *all* sorts of stuff in them?
Thanks in advance!

Right, here I go, cribbing unashamedly from Ed's notes . . .


A "sundries" shop means a shop that doesn't specialize in one thing, but carries several lines of wares (e.g. glass floats for nets, wicker baskets, some cooking oils and wines, and gloves or trinkets, all in the same place). Some of the goods MIGHT be used, in some sundries shops.

An "allgoods" shop tries to carry everything that will sell regularly, in a given locale. So it's the Faerunian equivalent of a general store. There's no guarantee of getting any particular something (the shopper in front of you may well have bought their last storm-lantern), and few of these shops will special-order anything unless Volo/Ed has noted them doing so (it's rare, not the norm).

Neither of these sorts of stores is necessarily useful to adventurers (except those seeking "everyday gear" like towels, blankets, short coils of rope or tying twine, candles, belt knives, lamp oil, and lanterns. Shops specializing in arms, armor, long lengths of continuous rope, cages, and anything specifically intended for use in disguises is always noted as such (when Ed's doing the writing, anyway).

So a "sundries" shop can be anything from the Realms equivalent of a scratch-n-dent warehouse or army surplus store, down to a boutique that sells scented candles and one other not-necessarily-related sort of goods (like pots). An "allgoods" shop tries to be the local department store, though the range of its goods is shaped by the usual local clientele, and limited by the proximity of other local shops that specialize (so if there's a locksmith across the road, don't expect to find anything much in the way of locks in an allgoods store except perhaps hasps, or [hidden under the counter, and sold only to those who ask] lockpicks).


So saith me. Except that most of those sentences are Ed's just rearranged and edited by me into a specific answer to your query, Asgetrion.
So there you are!


On April 6, 2009 THO said:- Hi. Well, obviously I'm not Ed, and he will certainly provide you with a juicy “proper” Realmslore answer to this great query, WraithCaller, but the short answer is going to be:

It depends on the family member.
Some of the younger generation have nothing to do with Yuan-ti, and a few even don't believe the "family stories" about direct connections, believing only in "some unfortunate magical curse or other, decades back, that gives some of us a few scales and fangs and limited venom immunities."
However, others work hand-in-glove with certain secretive yuan-ti, and there have even been recent romances. (Which were far more frequent one and two generations of Sultlues ago.)

This much I know as a player in Ed's "home" Realms campaign, not from seeing any notes of his (or Eric Boyd's, for that matter). We met (and fought) yuan-ti who were meeting with Sultlues, and on one occasion lovemaking with a Sultlue!
P.S. I've since found some of MY notes of play session, and can tell you where a certain magical sabre that "fires" serpents (one/3 days, venomous, never found out the strength of poison, but it was fast-acting and fatal) upon command is hidden - - or WAS hidden, by a Sultlue, in a sewer in Waterdeep.
A lady never tells, of course ... but then, I'm no lady.


On April 7, 2009 THO said:- Hello again, all.
To the Knight of the Gate, re. the query on magic items, above:

Well, magic items in Ed's game tend to be of two sorts. A FEW were items you've seen in the rules, that Ed designed for TSR/WotC, that we were "unwitting playtesters" for (TSR of course could always assemble "witting playtesters," but you need a strong, ongoing campaign with many layers of detail for the playtesters not to know right away that they're playtesting.
The vast majority of items were "Ed specials," because our experimentation with them encouraged roleplaying, and because hidden powers (later revealed) could be used to nudge us into later adventures. Most of them were of this sort:
+1 dagger (remember, needed just to hit certain sorts of creatures, in the rules editions current at the time) that can be made to glow like a lantern upon command, or ITSELF go invisible (not the wielder), or feather fall automatically, or "float in midair" upon command when released by a hand (and so can be used to "hang things in midair" or as a 'handhold" in the middle of a chasm). The dagger might have a second power, like the power to "record" and play back twelve words spoken near it after a command word, or every sound heard by the wielder in a minute, or two minutes, after activation (so the wielder could murmur "anahabra" to activate the dagger, and then "record" a villain giving orders to kill a king, for example).
There were many items like this, but that doesn't mean we adventurers had them. Most of us ended up, at around 9th level (SIX years of real-time frequent adventuring), with a magic sword, a magic dagger, and a ring or "oddball" item, each. A mayor might have one of those glow-daggers, or a noble or grizzled veteran traveling merchant trader; powerful NPCs had more magic than we ever did.
It encourages good roleplaying, and mitigates "adventurer swagger" (hey, we're the heroes here, the ONLY heroes in this game, so we can bully and dominate people and give orders like runaway cops, because we can "take" anyone who disagrees with us). Ed HATES such misbehaviour, and to indulge in it always meant getting taught a lesson by a blacksmith who MADE magic swords (". . . and one day, one day, I will find that six-fingered man, and I will say to him, Hello! My name is--") or a far more unlikely commoner, eventually.
There's a popular myth in gaming that the Realms was "high-magic gonzo," but that's how TSR wanted to position it - - not how Ed's home campaign depicts it. Ed's view is: this world is always more complicated, more many-layered, than you think. Only use the layers you want to for YOUR campaign, but don't think "that's all the Realms is." Ed even has items (like the Rod of Seven Parts, only far lower-powered) whose powers grow as you collect and fit together its component pieces (each of which has a single power of its own, but each COMBINATION of which also "awakens" other powers, in addition to the piece-powers.
Again, it's all about encouraging roleplaying.



On 8 April, 2009 THO said:-

Good points, Erik and Zandilar both.
(Oh, and Knight of the Gate: you can prod - - or even poke, ahem - - me with your double entendre ANYtime.)
As for the Arm of Valor, as I recall, the request Ed and all other designers received was for "gonzo artifacts: as blow-up-the-world as you want!" Ed wrote his up (also as requested) in the standard rules format for artifacts (which had sections for side effects and for malevolent effects/powers, both major and minor - - and it was these sections that were largely pruned away, for publication). I'm afraid I never had any more access to those than reading Ed's printout of his work when I was snooping, and of course Ed can't publish them now because it was work commissioned by TSR, paid for by them, and delivered to them: edited-out material remains their property, even if they choose never to reveal it to anyone. We'll see if Ed can recall (and give hints about) the drawbacks he built in to the Arm.
love to all,


Oh, and Sage: to make those buns into pizza, you'd have to put them on the floor and tromp on them (hopefully with CLEAN boots). Ed was definitely talking about pizza-like dressing atop rounded buns - - but yes, in the same way your countrymen have gotten quite used to ANYTHING being available baked into a "meat" pie, patrons of those establishments Ed was describing do indeed enjoy "adorned buns" that, yep, taste like plump, rounded mini-pizzas.
P.S. Erik, I'm loving DOWNSHADOW!


Markustay, you're "dead on" re. Ed and history; even if it never gets developed in our campaign for a particular item or person, place or group, he always makes us FEEL as if it's all there, waiting to be explored, if we only grab time and inclination.
That's what makes Ed's Realms come so alive, when you play in his campaign.
And (heh-heh) when it comes to singing swords, Ed's done the same to us. One sword that was like a haughty opera tenor who'd never shut up, and another who never stopped making smart comments, and talked - - and sang! - - like Jimmy Durante.
The genius of Ed is: somehow he makes these seem REAL and FITTING in a serious fantasy context, not elements that devolve into slapstick humor at every appearance.


On 8 April, 2009 THO said:-

Hi, all.
edappel, the short answer is that Ed's home group have been roleplaying together for YEARS, and like most long-term groups, we've settled into a style of play that's most comfortable for us. Which is: heavy on roleplaying, light on rules (many of us are game designers or sometime game designers, by the way). So unless a player or players (or, very rarely, Ed) insists on a "full play out of this" particular combat (akin to a "recorded vote" at a government council meeting), the "knife at the throat" situation you mention would be described by Ed as the storyteller, and the players would accept it and run with it. In short, the "players trying to get an edge in a combat over monsters, other players, and/or the DM" situations which lead to yearnings for more detailed/"realistic" combat rules just don't arise very often.
Now, adopting such a style may anger some of your players, particularly if they perceive it as a "DM versus players" situation. We don't, for two reasons: Ed has ALWAYS given the PCs the edge (we always had initiative, except against guards or monsters waiting in a "prepared attack" siutation, for example) in play, preferring to balance things by giving us tougher challenges to fight and harder puzzles to solve - - AND things have developed naturally in our group, over a long period of time, to this style (BTW, we vote on important rules adoptions, etc., because Ed's cardinal rule is: "I'm here to entertain you players, not entertain myself at your expense").
Edit: So the postscript from Ed would be something along the lines of: you should bend, adapt, and adopt rules to best suit your playing group. As long as you all remember things will be different in a tournament played at a convention with gamers not of your group, mold the roleplaying game to be what best suits you all. That's what leads to campaigns lasting decades, and richly-detailed settings like, yes, the Forgotten Realms.


And well met AGAIN, scribes. I've just read through the preceding page, before e-mailing it off to Ed for his reading (and Realmslore replies, in the fullness of time) pleasure.
And I simply must comment on plump, buns, and the speculations of my fellow scribes...
No, of COURSE it wasn't unintentional.
However, they were the best words to describe the serious Realms topic at hand, so I used them, knowing full well that even if certain minds at Candlekeep weren't corrupted before I began work here, I've been doing my level (horizontal) best to drag them down to my level for over four years, now.
I used them solemnly, however, demonstrating that I can FAKE being subtle for a few seconds at a time, even if my subtlety is of the "stampede charging through brick wall and across the china parlor, horns lowered to skewer all the shrieking little old ladies" variety.
A girl has to have SOME fun. And these days, so many things are illegal...
love to all,


On 10 April, 2009 THO said:- Hi, all.
Hmmm. I'm thinking Ed's going to have to clear what he says on this with Wizards, though I recall him mentioning, in a spell-induced vision of our characters had of "the future of Waterdeep" [or perhaps: "A future Waterdeep," meaning an alternate one, on another Prime Material Plane; the spell allows for that], a tall, darkish clock tower that struck the hours. I asked him if such a feature would be included in the reference document ((a huge long thing, BTW, that Brian James had to rewrite down to a few paragraphs for the 4e FR core book, and THAT would be a task I'd have heartily hated to do)), and Ed grinned and said, "Well, if that feature DID exist in a future Waterdeep, it would CERTAINLY be in such a document. If one existed, of course."
Such a coy NDA dancer, our Eddie.
Now I know one little tidbit more, that I shouldn't . . . (hums innocently). There's a novel in the Eddie Presents series AFTER Erik's that exists in at least first draft form, that Ed read very recently, and very much enjoyed, and I know that it mentions the Timehands.
I haven't seen the MS (I suspect Ed read it off his computer screen so snoopy players like me would have nothing to "just happen to let our eyeballs roll over, in an idle moment"), but he was deep in reading it when I called him once, and as his wife passed him the phone, I heard him murmur, "Ah, the Timehands, good, good."
Ed wants to pass on his apologies for his lengthening silence (especially to edappel, knowing that his friend is waiting for that heartening Elminster missive), but he has been STUPENDOUSLY busy this last week-and-a-bit, and probably will continue to be so for this unfolding weekend (though he says he'll try to steal some sleep time to catch up on some lore replies for you patient scribes).
love to all,


Oh, a postscript, Zandilar: I asked Ed if this clock tower chimed the quarters, or half fours, or tolled the hour-count, or marked any specific time with a carillon or motif . . . but he merely smiled coyly, struck a femme fatale pose, stuck one finger in his mouth and sucked on it in a satire of sex-kitten movie queens everywhere, and said: "That" (deep, purring breath) "would be TELLING."
So, we'll have to wait and see just how much he's able to tell us. Which I suspect will involve a swift e-chat with Susan Morris, AFTER the Easter holidays, when she's back at her desk to engage in her end of it (Ed wouldn't dream of interrupting someone at home during a family holiday, and I suspect his own family's going to keep him more than a little busy during this one).
Of course, until then, you have me to play with, fellas.
Garen, I salute you for the tea. Not just the post now, but your gallant moment at GenCon (a moment that's become immortal at WotC, by the way) wherein you providing timely succor to the Lady Mazzanoble...
love to all,


On 12 April, 2009 THO said:-

Hi again, all. I'm afraid that Waterdeep reference document is unlikely to see wider distribution unless Wizards wants it to. Perhaps when the Eddie Presents series wraps up, he can convince the good mages of WotC to make it available on their site (but I'll not hold my breath).
Sorry, avid readers!
As for Markustay, your view of the War Wizards is quite correct, and you win a date with my pepperonis.
Not that I've heard them called THAT very often, before! Better have your hot sausage ready. Ahem.
[Oh, yes, subtle like brick, that girl. I notice this before. Hard not to, really.]
love to all, and promising Ed's return as soon as he can,


On 15 April, 2009 THO said:-

Thanks for letting us, Wolfram. Ed will be back just as soon as he can. As it happens, I do have something to add to the current twins discussion: the names of two of Alustriel's daughters (no, they're not twins, and I don't even know who the father[s] were; I SUSPECT they had different fathers, but it's just a suspicion, based on the widely separated by time places they were noted down.
Alustriel has at least seven daughters I know of (or at least know of evidence for; I don't mean to imply I can name or properly 'place' seven), and the two I have names for are:

Lorondra "Lorimel" Maerel (what last name she uses, I don't know; I do know that she's even taller than her mother, is of slender build, and has been seen wearing a loooong sword scabbarded down her back on a baldric).

Sarithrele Glaendra (again, surname unknown; supposedly stunningly beautiful but very quiet, "remote" or "dreamy" in manner, often seems to drift by people without seeming to realize their presence)


(I don't even know if they're human, half-elven, or half-something else!)
Yes, this comes from Ed's campaign play support notes, snooped into by me, Lorimel's description coming from something that would have been revealed by a NPC if we'd asked him the right (or wrong, depending on your point of view) thing.

This probably just whets your curiosity, Zandilar, but at least it's SOMETHING to start with. Will pester Ed re. identical twins . . .
love to all,


That's quite all right. You can ask me ANYTHING; depending on what it is, I may not answer, but I won't feel attacked. (Avoiding the obvious innuendos for a moment...)
Your point is a good one; "breaking the fourth wall" is always fraught with the dangers of ruining enjoyment of play.
However, it doesn't in this case, thanks to something I should have explained: Ed has two categories of notes.
First, the private DM stuff (not really a lot; it's mostly in his head) that WOULD ruin play for me, if I poked through it. (Add to this: the stuff he's contractually obligated to keep secret, when writing for Wizards.) I don't snoop into these. as a point of honour and so as not to ruin things for anyone (harms roleplaying, harms trust among friends, ruins my play enjoyment and probably everyone else's, and so on).
Second, the "sorta open" notes he lets us "find" and peruse. This second sort has existed from the beginning of play in the Realms, as far as I know (certainly for as long as I've known Ed), and Ed lets players occasionally run their eyeballs over whatever they want to look at, AS A WAY OF SIMULATING THE GENERAL KNOWLEDGE (OR SUPPOSITIONS, GAINED THROUGH GOSSIP) OUR PLAYER CHARACTERS WOULD HAVE, FROM LIVING IN THE REALMS.
That's something hard to do, in most play situations, and I think Ed's come up with as good a way as any to address it (being as players asking out-of-character question after question during play sessions isn't ideal).
And I don't mind you asking, Malcolm. Really.
(Candlekeep should be a place where scribes can talk openly and freely, as much as possible.)


On 17 April, 2009 THO said:- Well, typically Wizards and Ed's agent (The Zack Company, Inc.) make a joint announcement/press release when Ed signs a contract (typically a multi-book contract). Locus is the best place to look for announcements about Ed's novels with other publishers (such as Tor and Solaris), because Quill & Quire and Publisher's Lunch both tend to ignore sf and fantasy books (let alone game-related books, which they seem to regard as hardly publishing at all). I, of course, can't legally or morally tell you anything about forthcoming books (when I know things). However, I CAN confirm that I know of the existence of three forthcoming anthologies that Ed has contributed tales to, and one forthcoming Ed novel, for which Ed's work is done, accepted, and will appear. Not to mention at least one game thing.
However, pressing me for more is just going to get you silence, for now. Rest assured that the moment I can squawk, I will!


Hi again, all.
Menelvagor, from Ed's notes:
Yes, the rumour about The Simbul's document is true. Neither Khelben nor Elminster has had it for some time; it is in the keeping of the Harpers (precise keeper and whereabouts: secret), and it does name HER choice of her successor.
The folk of Aglarond, or other powers active in the Realms, may well have other plans, of course.
And if you think asking me or Ed is going to get you a direct answer as to who is named in that document to be The Simbul's choice regarding the next ruler of Aglarond, too bad. THE SIMBUL has other plans.


And hello once more, fellow scribes!
A message just arrived from Ed. This one is in response to Dark Wizard's query (on Page 47 of this thread) for Ed's own Realms-specific answers to the Wizards template for settings (core ethos, etc.).:


Hi. Dark Wizard, I'm afraid you've asked a question I can't legally answer, because as part of the Realms retooling that went on before 4e, I formally and in detail answered those questions for Wizards of the Coast (as did many of their designers), in confidence. They own those replies of mine, and only they can publish them; I can't. I am bound by the NDAs, contracts, and other agreements I have signed, so I must remain silent on this. Sorry.


So saith Ed. Reminding us all of something often forgotten on the Net; there is a "real world" of legal agreements and professional behaviour, that Ed is part of and must abide by, regardless of how much he might want to reply (or how strongly a third party may believe "But surely that won't apply to this! What harm could there be in discussing this?" etc.).
love to all,


On 20 April, 2009 THO said:- Ah, such a handy thing 'tis, to have a 'certain' reputation!
Of COURSE I'll rub more, and lower, too . . .
To put things more boldly, Markustay is quite correct that the non-payment of taxes was indeed a tactic to draw malcontents to Sir Sabrast. Yes, it IS routine, Menelvagor, but the great majority of espionage, agent provocateur, and for that matter police work and politics is unglamorous, plodding routine.
Ed is deep in the throes of his taxes now, having charged through a LOT of work in the last week or so, and is looking forward to his chance to return to the Keep.
(I suspect he'll look forward to just about anything that isn't taxes, right about now. )
A tidbit of Realmslore for you all, from Ed's notes: no less than six aging, ramshackle warehouses in Waterdeep's Dock Ward have roofs that have been augmented (repaired, to stop leaks) with the upturned hulls of old harbour barges - - which of course means adventurers seeking such conveyances in a pinch just have to find the right warehouse, have a wizard or two powerful enough either among them or agreeable to being hired, and a warehouse can lose its roof at about the same time as adventurers gain a barge . . .
A moment of Realms goodness brought to you by everyone's favourite hooded lady, who is typing this fetchingly clad in her wristwatch and a smile.

love to all,


On 23 April, 2009 THO said:- Very well said, Blueblade.
One other facet of the entire SPELLFIRE affair that always seems to get neglected and overlooked is that Ed was asked to write the book for a specific purpose: "show us the Realms."
In other words, it was always intended to introduce LOTS of characters and locales, without necessary having a central plot that resolves. It was a specific writing assignment, not a "write us a story." That a complete change in the management of the Books Department (between Ed being given the assignment and the book being delivered) meant got viewed very differently from what it was intended to be.
And as what Ed was asked to do, even in the seriously shortened version that first got published, it succeeds admirably: it throws tons of vivid characters, places, and Realms details (of food, washing up, jargon, et al) at the reader.
Though Ed still winces, almost every time he sees a copy. Sigh.
love to all,


On 24 April, 2009 THO said:- Hi again, all.
Ed drew a very detailed map of Athalantar, at the request of TSR, and sent it in. It was, of course, never published, and remains their copyrighted property (whether or not it ended up in the dumpsters, when TSR was shut down), so Ed can't distribute it now.
However, from memory I can tell you: Hastarl occupied the site of present-day Secomber, the river effectively formed the southern border of Athalantar (and had much the same location and meanderings as it does "today"), but the High Forest hadn't been cut back nearly as much, then, and extended long fingers down almost to the river's edge in the east, and so as to almost divide the realm into segments, west of that.
Ed is still scrambling to get back atop his paid writing commitments and real-world obligations (such as his taxes), but promises a return just as soon as he can.
love to all,


On 26 April 2009 THO said:- Hi again, all.
Ashe is quite right; the Obarskyrs have doubled Ironguard and poison-quelling magics on them whenever appearing in public, and a single layer of such magics (via rings or gorgets they wear) at all other times.
The problem with an "anti-magic" spell of any sort being employed by a would-be assassin is this: the asssassin must be able to manage the casting JUST before striking (i.e. in the room with the royals, AND with a lot of watchful War Wizards and a Highknight or two). If the assassin is carrying an item capable of generating anti-magic, they'd have to be a loyal War Wizard to get that close without being challenged (what's this item you're carrying, saer? Let's go into this handy chamber over here and talk about it, shall we?), and if they are bearing an operating anti-magic effect of any sort on their person, they'd never get anywhere near a meeting with the Obarskyrs: there are so many wards and other magical effects operating in both the Royal Court building and the Royal Palace (not to mention, again, on-duty War Wizard and Highknight observers) that the presence of the anit-magic effect would be detected, and the intruder physically stopped, overpowered, or misdirected away from the royals (and the royals moved away from anywhere the intruder can get to), not far from wherever the would-be assassin entered either the Court or the Palace.
Now, as this would-be assassin is an adventurer, he would already be, by definition, suspicious to the War Wizards (adventurers mean TROUBLE, remember?), and already attracting particular attention. Even if such an adventurer poses no trouble at all, it's quite likely an adventurer seeking to meet with the royals wants to ask a boon, or share information that hasn't been "cleared" by Vangey first, or cause some other sort of long-term trouble. So don't expect that the adventurer would go unnoticed. Nor should one expect that Vangey doesn't know about the dead wife (and the potential for revenge) already; the War Wizards and Highknights keep records on all adventurers, of both facts and suspicions. It's also not customary for persons who are not also nobles of Cormyr, or envoys of other realms, or members of Cormyr's armed forces, to come armed into the presence of royalty in formal settings (i.e. feasts and revels, as opposed to encountering an Obarksyr at a hunting lodge or in the forest or riding on the road). The very charters that bind Cormyrean-resident adventurers include provisions for adventurers to be disarmed in all sorts of necessary situations (at the sole discretion of War Wizards or courtiers and Purple Dragons of particular ranks), including something so simple as arrest for a possibly spurious or honestly mistaken charge.
Now, I'm not saying that the adventurer COULDN'T get to the king or queen; I'm just saying that a fairly simple plan that doesn't happen to benefit from the aid of favourable circumstances isn't likely to succeed . . . and an adventurer who skulks about seeking to watch the Obarskyrs for either a good opportunity to strike or to learn about their routines and habits to try to plan a good attack, is NOT going to go unnoticed. War Wizards and Highknights may very well pay such an adventurer a "friendly visit" long before they approach the Palace or Court, if their preparations aren't covert enough.
All in all, this can make for a very good long-term roleplaying challenge, Menelvagor, and your suggestion about Azoun's reaction is right on: you obviously "get" the king's character very well.
Back to you . . .


On 27 April, 2009 THO said:- Hi again, all. This is fascinating, reading everyone weighing in. Great stuff!
Markustay, I can answer your Ed query: yes, the stables, nearby Royal Gardens (as far as certain statues), Royal Palace, and Royal Court, up into the air and down below the deepest cellars, most of the way down the wells, are indeed warded against undead. As a result of certain problems in the past (yes, you can guess very well, can't you?), and lasting well into the ravages of the Spellplague (I have that last bit directly from Ed rather than from his notes, which of course spurred me to ask him what happened AFTER those ravages hit, whereupon he twinkled at me and said he really WISHED he could tell me, buuutttt . . .).
You know, from my character interaction with Azoun and Fee, down the years, I'd say both of them COULD forgive an unsuccessful killer, Fee quite swiftly and Azoun only if the killer survived Azoun's initial cold rage and somehow got away long enough for Fee to talk her husband "down." However, Vangerdahast is the problem: he WOULD try to keep the would-be slayer alive long enough to thoroughly mind-ream the guy and learn all he could about the attack and its motives . . . and then he'd probably kill the PC just because it's the safest thing to do, UNLESS specifically forbidden to do so by Azoun or Fee, if they were standing right there and he couldn't pull the "he tried to escape, I had to blast him because" excuse.
Hmm. As I said earlier, chances for some interesting roleplaying abound.
You could, of course, have Laspeera or Dove show up in Fee's shape to "take the blade' for her, because the royals have somehow found out about the attack beforehand, but want to know WHY. In that case, with the PC unable to really wound the false fee and having done nothing at all to the real one, the PC might well have quite a good chance for survival, and even being made a special agent (and sent on missions far away ).


Hello again, all.
Drizztsmanchild, the answer to your FIRST question is something Ed probably won't answer, now that you've taken it off the table (because I hadn't yet sent it to him). Anyone can accept, reject, or modify anything for their own Realms campaign, but the "what is canon" argument for the Realms is very simple, and specified by the original legal agreement when TSR purchased the Realms: canon is everything Ed says or writes about the Realms, unless or until superceded in print by a later official (not licensed, but TSR, so now, WotC) product.
That's it, pure and simple. No one can alter that without Ed's agreeing to the alteration, and he hasn't ever been approached to alter it. Individual gamers may disagree with that definition, but that's beside the point: except for little fragments in DRAGON articles (and the Heralds piece in one issue of GAMEPLAY, pre-1986) they only got to see the Realms AT ALL because of this agreement, so they're stuck with its terms, whether they admit that or not.
I doubt Ed can answer your second question due to NDAs, but I've sent an e-mail off to him, and we'll see.


On 28 April, 2009 THO said:- Heh. Channeling your inner Captain Haddock, Faraer?

FOOL'S MASTER is VERY rare and hard to find, and is a youth caper novel in the mold of Phil Stong's WAY DOWN CELLAR (or for English readers, a funnier version of Pertwee's classics THE ISLANDERS and ROUGH WATER). Even Ed calls it "more forgettable than fun, but as good as Gordon Korman. I was VERY young, and the book reads that way. With a lot of Wodehousian or Charterisian - - or even Bonfigliolian - - 'arch narrator' stuff."

GAMEPLAY Magazine was the short-lived periodical started by "Jake" Jaquet when he departed the editorship of DRAGON magazine. Ed wrote an article, "Heralds All Bright And Shining," on the Heralds (High Heralds and local heralds) of the Realms. (As he had the perfect legal right to do, in those pre-TSR-buying-the-Realms days; the article has NO game stats, it's pure lore of the Realms. TSR knew about it, and a photocopy of the article was included in Ed's turnover-to-TSR "bible" of the Realms, back in 1986.) Like the Ed Realms story used in one of the computer games (wherein we Knights galloped past a character on a road, and proffered our emptied teacups, a favourite Ed-penned image of mine), it seems destined for never-to-be-republished legal limbo, but Ed covered most of the same lore in his heralds stuff included in POWER OF FAERUN).

Essential root Realmslore; there you go. Just call me the Hooded Librarian. Wearing a smile, a hood, and my everpresent wristwatch. Glows in the dark so you can find me.


Ah, well, the answer to that, Drizztsmanchild, is that Drizzt is a strong, steady fiction seller for Wizards (probably more so than the rest of the Realms, now that 4e has come about). I'd expect that Wizards would keep Drizzt even if the Realms faded away, for that reason alone.
Wooly is quite right to point at TSR for starting the "iconic characters" thing. (Drizzt for Bob, Elminster for Ed, and so on.) I suspect that they still push for that. You can see Bob writing a Wulfgar Drizzt book, an Artemis Drizzt book, and so on, among his later works, trying to get out of the box or at least expand it, and Ed only managed to take a breather from Elminster by doing the Knights books and including Old El in them anyway; if Ed does future Realms novels, I'll wager they'll have Elminster front and centre because it'll be a condition of Ed getting to write them that they "star" Elminster (notice how much of ELMINSTER'S DAUGHTER was about El, rather than his daughter?).
So don't blame Ed if it's Elminster all the way. That's the thing all the Net posters who claim Ed has this love-thing for Elminster, or the Old Mage is his male Mary Sue, and so on all misunderstand: like any freelancer, Ed gets a writing ASSIGNMENT. It's a credit to his skill and style that he can sneak so much Realmslore into his books, and so much detail about ALL the characters, not just the old bearded guy with the hawk nose and the smart mouth . . .
(Whom I, personally, love. Thanks to some incidents in play with certain of my characters [and no, they were NOT sexual in nature].)
love to all,


On 29 April, 2009 THO said:- Hi, Sparrowhawk963,
I can tell you that Blackstone Audiobooks has released all five of Ed's Tor titles (THE KINGLESS LAND, THE VACANT THRONE, A DRAGON'S ASCENSION, A DRAGON'S DOOM, and THE SILENT HOUSE) as cassette-set audiobooks.
Brilliance Audio (based in Michigan) has released the first two of Ed's Solaris titles (DARK LORD and ARCH WIZARD) as CD audio books, and ARCH WIZARD also as a MP3-CD set.
All in English; I believe there are also some foreign-language audio editions (Italian, German, Spanish, and French for sure).
That's because Ed holds the copyrights for those books, and his agent licenses the audio rights.
TSR/WotC/Hasbro owns all rights to Ed's Realms books, and as far as I know, has never bothered to make any of them available as audio editions (though I've heard rumors of the existence of MAKING OF A MAGE and SPELLFIRE audio editions). You'll have to ask them why they've never sought wider markets for titles they own; it seems a poor business decision for me (if licensed, the licensor bears the costs of the recording and distribution, so any profit is profit to the publisher; even if there's little or no profit, it expands the number of people who have been exposed to an author, and therefore may become potential book purchasers in future).
But then, I've been involved in book publishing, off and on, for more years than either TSR or Wizards of the Coast has existed - - so what do I know?


Hi again, all. Foxhelm, I don't know if Ed's been watching that show. He has very little "tube time" these days, what with the logjam of work, family stuff, library stuff, and so on. I know he tries to catch The Daily Show (Jon Stewart) when he can, and Mike Holmes and Good Eats from time to time, but . . .
One thing I DO know is that just under 30 years ago, when Ed was a journalism student covering a case, he suggested to a Toronto police forensics guy that they use a "plug" of raw pork (by firing a bullet into it) for a comparison with a body. The policeman started to brush him off with "sounds like science fiction," but another cop said of course they would (it turns out that Ed has earlier covered a story about a meat processor near the Toronto stockyards (gone now) who "deboned" hogs for delivery to meat canning plants (for the Canadian equivalent of Spam and similar "lunch meats"). Ed was also involved in the early days of the SCA up in Canada, and they did some "fire arrows into phone books" and "hack at particular-density foam with various swords" tests. So the show sounds like it would be right up Ed's alley, so to speak.
I am awaiting word from the Bearded One right now, so I'll put this to him along with the rest of the recent lore queries, scribes . . .


On 30 April, 2009 THO said:- Hello again, all. Ed is ALMOST ready to return to daily Realmslore replies (edappel, he's mindful of the timeliness of your request), but briefly e-mailed me last night, so I can now answer this query, from Longtime Lurker: "Hmmm. Dear Lady THO and Ed,
All this talk of Volo reminds me of a rumor that was making the rounds some years back. So I thought I'd ask: is there, or is there not, an unpublished Volo story (by Ed) kept under wraps all these years because of its amusing and scatalogical nature?
Or was that just the fabrication of someone wanting to inflate Ed's "dirty minded" reputation? Thanks."
Ed replies:


No, there are no unpublished Volo stories. There are about a dozen one- or two-liner "Volo jokes" (like Laurel & Hardy moments of er, witty repartee), wherein Volo makes some idiotic or inappropriate response to some "real" sitation in the Realms, dashed off for the amusement of various TSR staffers in e-mails, over the years, but no, no stories.
Not that I wouldn't mind writing one . . .


So saith Ed. Heh. About what I expected.
love to all,


Yes, Jergal is an Ed creation, but he's been fleshed out by Julia Martin, Eric Boyd, George Krashos and others from what little lore Ed provided. Off to Ed your query goes . . .


On 2 May, 2009 THO said:- Hi again, all.
I'm thinking Ed would regard it as less than professional to let slip much of anything about the new column unless Wizards gives him permission to do so. It's my strong suspicion that Gontal, whether or not it's based on Ed's writing or uses the Ed Gontal writeup trimmed from the Campaign Guide for space reasons, probably won't be part of the column. Unless the DRAGON editorship makes it so, of course.
Asgetrion, Ed will answer you properly when he can, but the short answer is this: in the Realms, except by government fiat (which always in turn creates a behind-doors "black market" in competition), it's nigh-impossible to create monopolies ecept in VERY small settlements (i.e. you open an inn and one or two people build homes nearby). In almost every established village and certainly in every town, there's more than one source for everything. Even if you're the only skilled armorer in town, someone will be selling used, salvaged armor, some smith will be making and selling crude armor pieces, and someone who isn't a smith will be punching holes in scrap pieces of metal and lacing them together with leather thongs into clanking "plate shirts" of some sort. So, no, "cornering the market" will be very rare, and very hard to do for long.
Influencing PRICES, now, a la Silk in the Eddings novels and many merchant cabals in the Realms, that's another matter . . .
love to all,


On 3 May, 2009 THO said:- Certainly I can answer that one. Herbs and scents tend to be sold in small vials (if powdered or liquid), or small pouches (if loose herbs, or if the scent permeates a cloth or natural sponge). In other words, small containers, in shops that can be set up to sell small items and so carry a wide variety.
Cosmetics and paints have tended to be controlled, in larger urban centers, by different guilds or cabals than herbs (which can often be gathered wild, locally, and so sold by non-guilded "commoners").
"Larger" dyes (garment dyes) in the Realms tend to be used in the form of vats or open half-barrels, into which clothing is immersed, stirred, and held down with a frame that in turn is held down by stones. So a dye shop will tend to be a messy place requiring a large (but roofed, to keep rain out, which will dilute the dyes) floor area.
In other words, aside from a few places where there ARE legal or guild prohibitions, there's nothing stopping anyone from selling both dyes and herbs. It's just unusual, because of the mercantile requirements.
This "take" of mine isn't based on Ed's notes, but IS based on in-character discussions with Ed (and overheard, as Ed as DM spoke to others) over years and years of play in the Realms.


On 4 May, 2009 THO said:- Hi again, all. Also, to this, from Drizztsmanchild: "How exactly did Shar prevent a new GoM from ascending. And why did Ao allow it? I thought the Overgod was all about balance of the pantheon?
(So it's 2 questions)lol ;)
If NDA's are involved I understand:)"
I shall essay a reply, before Ed weighs in:

Yes, NDAs ARE involved, but so is something else Ed tends to cleave to: that mortals can rarely know or fully understand the truths about the gods and their dealings. (After all, how would any mortal in the Realms really KNOW? If the mortal gets told directly by the god that such-and-such happened or so-and-so is the truth, can the god be trusted? After all, if they're trying to get more worshippers, they're essentially always advertising or doing PR work for themselves, not necessarily presenting unvarnished truth.)
I quite understand (being, ahem, a mortal human myself, despite what some may believe) the human nature of REALLY WANTING TO KNOW all about the gods, and dealings between them, and who's more powerful, and how their magics work, and so on. Knowing this will make any DM's job easier.
Yet it will also "handcuff" every DM to a specific world-view that, in the age of the Internet, inevitably many players will know, too ("But Odin would win, so Loki CAN'T pull that off!") - - and it also essentially reduces gods to an arms race of newer, shinier models with more features, rather than keeping things mysterious and therefore capable of inducing awe. Which is a tragic loss in anyone's roleplaying experience.

So saith me, quoting extensively from Ed's notes on the subject.


On 6 May, 2009 THO said:-

Hi again, all. Ed remains as busy as several presidents and prime ministers rolled into one (and remember, all of those gentlemen have large staffs to help them accomplish things), but I see a query I can answer with reference to Ed's notes:

lordsknight185, I can tell you that the classic (single, down the back) French braid is known in the Realms as a "tail plait" because it is a plait (even in our real world, it's sometimes called a French plait) and because it resembles the way the wealthy and/or nobility in certain long-ago kingdoms of the Realms (and much of Chessenta and Tethyr, still, in the Realms of today) braided the manes and tails of their horses.
And, no, Ed is NOT equating women with horses, though I note in the most innocent of tones that we can both be ridden
(and ridden hard, and put away wet, and I'd better stop now before we get to show jumping . . .)
love to all,


On 7 May, 2009 THO said:- Markustay, off your query goes to Ed (who is busier than ever), but I can tell you right off the top of my head that stirrups, saddlehorns, and spurs (and for that matter, reins and bridles, too) all exist in the Realms. I don't think the use of spurs is widespread in the North among horse-riders (certainly not among the Uthgardt), but everyone having any experience at riding knows what they are, how they are used, and so on, even if they don't themselves use them. (The moral stance is most properly answered by Ed.)


On 8 May, 2009 THO said:- Hi, all.
Well, nicknames proper are of course NOT derived directly from an individual's everyday name, so they don't follow any rules. "Short-names" derived from the real names are pretty much all over the map, too.
For instance (drawing on Ed's unpublished notes), "Alustriel" is "Lustra" formally, "Luse" to some of her sisters, and even "Lussa" to some now-long-dead folks who remember her as a child.
Ed has no notes on Cadderly, because that's Bob's character.
Mintiper was called "Per" by one female intimate, but he tends to have more nicknames than derivants ("Longwalker" and "Longshanks" and "Watchful" [shortened from "Watchful Wanderer"] and "Tallgrim" [a gnome once referred to him as "Tall-and-grim," and it stuck]).
Off the query goes to Ed for a proper answer, of course. He's tearingly busy this weekend, still, trying to get certain Realmslore in your collective hands in the future.
love to all,


Markustay and Sage,
I would be happy to show Ed anything he wanted to see, at any time. (Not that he hasn't already seen it, ahem.) However, to answer Blueblade, I found that e-mail, and heeeere's Ed:

For both Golarion and Zobeck, I am hesitant about plunging into extensive design, because I don't want the owners of those worlds to ever feel like I'm "horning in" and shaping their world my way (yes, of course I can only do design work if invited to do so, and I have been invited and have taken up those invitations - - but I'm still proceeding slowly and carefully). I know how it feels to get continually blindsided by design occurring that you weren't told about, that "doesn't fit" with the immediate surroundings or other plans (not just mine, but other plans afoot at the publishing company, at the time), and the damage that is done by turf battles within a company, however they happen. I just want to avoid all that, by proceeding with the utmost respect and slow pacing.
With the Realms, I "know" the setting well enough (before the Spellplague; after is far more of an "open field for everybody," at this point, though some designers are going to be very surprised by just how quickly areas get "painted over" with in-depth design) that I can design (and explain away developing inconsistencies) without much hesitation. The same goes for Castlemourn or Embersea (yes, I'm still working on both of them, in my [hah-hah] spare time).


So saith Ed.
love to all,


Well, I tend to think of it as lucky ME.
Ed and I aren't lovers; we're longtime friends. Close, informal, and uninhibited, as children of the 60s tend to be. I think of myself as lucky to have friends like Ed. He's generous, caring, relaxed . . . and one of the kindest, most understanding people I've ever met. He's also tender, gives great massages (feet and back and guys as well as gals), funny, and witty. For some years I used to attend the same sf conventions as Ed did (back when he went to a lot of them), and was repeatedly amused when some professor or world authority started to pontificate, and Ed's converse with them revealed he probably knew as much about their field of expertise as they did. And, boy, is he a fun "ham actor"!


Hmmm. Hints?
Well, Ed has by now either written it, or mostly written it.
I haven't seen it, but I HAVE seen the list of story elements provided by seminar participants, and I recall pirates, a peg leg female pirate captain, a lich with a little sister who borrowed something from a brothel, a LOT about that brothel, mention of Mirt the Moneylender getting pregnant (!), gnomes and something called Gnomeball, a blind alchemist, the demon Graz'zt, and other stuff I can't remember right now.
Which gives you some idea of the zaniness of those seminars AND what Ed will work into the story (barring the no-nos like using other writers' characters and trademarked elements not owned by Wizards of the Coast, he tries to include EVERYTHING, albeit sometimes twisted more than a bit . . . not that the original suggestions aren't - - ahem - - twisted enough). I guess we'll see . . .


On 9 May, 2009 THO said:-

I don't know. I think "Gnomeball" will turn out to be whatever Ed makes it into (as in: he was just given the name).
I know very well how to play jiggly ball, but (ahem) this is a family forum, as much as I can control myself, to make it so . . .


Hi! It did indeed go off to Ed, who will reply when he has some time to call his own (NDAs prevent full public detailing of what Ed's working on, this last week and the next one, but I, who am quite used to how quickly Ed can produce game and fiction writing, was astonished at the pace he was setting - - all this despite looming surgery and lots of real-world engagements and obligations). I CAN tell you, because Chris Perkins let it slip, that Ed will indeed be web-writing regularly for Wizards again, that you will be seeing the Spin A Yarn tale that some of you have been awaiting for a long time, that Ed will again grace the pages of Kobold Quarterly and bookstore shelves with the last book of the Falconfar trilogy, entitled, ahem, FALCONFAR, that there will be future Realms novels from Ed's pen, that he is involved with some new and still-secret game and fantasy fiction projects (yes, "projects" plural), and that he's been a busy busy BUSY boy. Er, at the keyboard.
And Menelvagor, just for you, I stripped off the jeans, bra, and panties I was wearing, but put on a festive party mask that I keep handy for such occasions...


On 14 May, 2009 THO said:- Hi, all. Off all of these queries go to Ed.
Who of course I am not (love THAT syntax), yet do remember from play more than a few "floating thrones" (many elder mages in Halruaa use them, and there are at least two hovering in the ruins of Myth Drannor, one of them being used as a nest by some raptors (and treasure storage, under their nest, by some adventurers), and the other, about seventy feet aloft, that holds the remains of a VERY-long-dead mage who was sitting in it and presumably once commanded it).
An interesting topic indeed . . .
love to all,


Hi again, all.
Dark Wizard,
Embersea is the fantasy setting Ed is (very slowly) at work on, for Studio 2 Publishing. When it will see print, I'm not sure; Ed has been very busy for a long time, and only his fiction writing really brings in enough money for him to live on.


On 16 May, 2009 THO said:- Hi again, all. Sage, you're quite right about some of the favored weapons making little sense. Fortunately, Ed thought so too, and back at the time of the 3e launch, came up with an explanation. Here are his relevant notes:

Waukeen is first and foremost the god of merchants, and the priests of Waukeen have for years carried "tally-sticks" for keeping count of goods, payment amounts, and debts, particularly when called upon to settle disputes between merchants. At first these were individual batons, often drilled with rows of holes for counting-pegs to be moved along (like a real-world cribbage board), but over time amounts customarily grew too large for single-stick counts. So priests took to carrying two separate pairs of sticks, each pair being joined together at the ends by a length of chain, so that one stick could be crossed over the fellow it was chained to in various arrays and patterns to denote different numbers, and one pair of sticks had gold painted ends, while the other was silver-ended. This allowed priests to readily keep side-by-side counts, or use on pair for "ones" and the other for "tens" or "scores" or "full wagons" or whatever. Their use as weapons developed in practical "desperation" incidents after that, but soon became a matter of training within the clergy.

There. A Realmsian explanation. Ed and I would both have preferred sharpened-edge coin shuriken, but still . . .
love to all,


On 18 May, 2009 THO said:- Hi again, all.
Dark Wizard, your Chondath/Chessenta question has gone off to Ed; I don't recall anything useful in trying to answer it in the lore-notes he's given me over the years, or in the notes I made during play. So it'll have to wait for his return, which will hopefully be by end of next week.
Yes, Ed tries to envisage the Realms as a real place, and work out details and lore explanations that make it seem more real AND create new roleplaying opportunities. I think he's become pretty good at it over the last forty-some years.
As for Embersea, I know very little about it, because Ed (following professional protocol) has said very little. I once overheard him mention something about "lots of small islands to adventure on, clustered around large ones," that MIGHT have been Embersea, or might not. That was years back, before he offered the setting to Studio 2, which is when his silence descended. I suspect Embersea was one of the many projects affected when Ed's father died and Ed missed a crop of deadlines, with everything snowballing and getting delayed. However, it's NOT a dead setting, by any means.


Hi again, fellow scribes.
Aysen, I can START to answer your just-posted questions (Ed will of course handle them "properly," in due course), by drawing on Ed's notes. Here's Ed:

The Srinshee has at least three living (younger) blood relatives, at least two of whom are completely unaware of their heritage.


I suspect (from hints during play) that the same applies for Mythanthor, but I could quite well be mistaken about this.
Ed's off to the hospital tomorrow, and doing all the "clear liquids only, no solid foods" dance right now . . .
love to all,


The 'evil twin' trope pops up in the Realms mainly in ballads and plays, in two ways: substitution of nobles' dupe for real prince or princess, and long-lost, separated-at-birth-or-childhood sibling reappears to bedevil grown-to-adult 'good twin' (often when parents die; evildoer steps onto the scene to try to seize or claim inheritance).
The concept is well-known to everyone, but not used much by "modern in the Realms" composers and performers in new tales or performances, for that reason.[Somewhat akin to everyone being familiar with "Waltzing Matilda," so very few people are going to embark on a song with similar lyrics or subject matter.]
And it does continue to happen, "for real," in the Realms, due to nobles having bastard children, factional fights within noble or wealthy families, and so on.

As far as ‘real’ evil twins in the Realms go, the best-known would probably be Harthus Draer, the evil (unrelated by blood, but almost a perfect likeness) double of Ammanthrus Boldoum, a VERY wealthy merchant of Athkatla who became known for his mercantile successes and stupendous wealth, and then for his philanthropy.
Working with a small cabal of Boldoum’s trade rivals, Draer replaced the real Boldoum in 1344 DR, and in the guise of the philanthropist visited many Amnians and Tethyrians, learning much of craft innovations and trade deals that he passed on to the ruthless cabal.
The real Boldoum was kept in hiding in the Amnian mountains and cruelly experimented on, alongside kidnapped persons of the same general build, looks, and hair color; without involving a wizard until it became necessary to replace Draer (either because of treachery or because he’d met his death or maiming through misadventure) and mind-control the replacement, Boldoum’s trade rivals wanted to create several “replacement Bouldoums.”
In late 1347 DR, a bandit raid on that mountain stronghold resulted in the ruination of all the likeness-altering surgeries and “experiments,” and in Boldoum and one of his ‘almost-doubles’ escaping.
The secret was out, but Draer swiftly hired all the mercenaries he could and tried to eliminate both the real Boldoum and the trade-rivals who’d backed him, so he could be left as the only Boldoum standing, and deny the heritage of all the others (who’d be then too dead to promote themselves).
This private war ended up almost causing the death of one of the Council of Six, and for an entire summer (of 1348 DR) was the talk of Amn, Tethyr, and traveling merchants up and down the Sword Coast, with many individuals rumored to be part of this plot or that, and no one really fully understanding the truth. As a result, Draer and Boldoum are famous, or infamous; the war ended with the mysterious backers all slaughtered by the Council, Draer fled far into the Turmish backlands as a hunted man, and Boldoum a changed, paranoid recluse thought to be an impostor by about a third of Amnians.

The second-best-known set of evil twins are a pair of elegant, sophisticated, thoroughly amoral sisters who look identical (milk-white skin, tall and sleek, raven-black hair down to their behinds), and who are ruthless in their pursuit of wealth and power. Their names are Serelke (“SAIR-elk”) and Ryngoleira (“RINN-go-leera”) Tabarcrast, and they are minor nobility in Chessenta who fully intend to end up ruling Chessentan cities some day.
They work both independently and (at times) together, as friendly rivals, and both are equally evil, scheming, brilliant actresses. They often exploit confusion among others (such as outlander merchants, arms-dealers especially) who mistake one of them for the other. They are expert poisoners, have amassed a lot of largely-hidden, cached wealth and steadily growing personal collections of magic items they use to defeat foes in private, and they are superb in the arts of lovemaking; their common approach to advancement thus far has been to “sleep their way to the top” in Chessenta, poisoning or arranging ‘accidental’ deaths for those who spurn them or grow tired of them or defy their manipulations.
The “Tabarcrast Shes” have become legendary for their bored, jaded mannerisms and fell beauty, and the whiff of more rumored than properly understood corruption that clings to them; legends spread by talkative caravan merchants throughout the Heartlands.
In 1377 DR, they are in their late twenties, and have been at their climbs upward since their mid-teens.

Among fictitious evil twins, the most famous would probably be Laevur, the villainous long-lost brother (and double) of the hero Raulaerik, who kills and impersonates his older brother in the play THE BRIGHT BLADE AND ITS SHADOW (written by an anonymous playwright, and first performed in Neverwinter in 1339 DR; an instant hit, it was put on by various troupes up and down the Sword Coast, becoming an always-running standard in Waterdeep about the same time it reached Suzail and Westgate, in 1347 DR; it’s very well-known now and its popularity has waned somewhat, but its utility to comment on local government and local liked and disliked persons cause it to be remounted often). In the play, Laevur gets all he wants (rulership, specific women in his bed, and riches), but finds them hollow - - and in the end, deadly, as he’s slain by an old foe of Raulaerik who herself impersonates one of Laevur’s bedmates.

The second most famous would be from an old ballad, THE GHOST DANCERS, wherein a good man, Althus, ends up haunted by ghosts who intend to frighten him to death because he happens to have built his farmhouse atop the buried treasure they guard - - but Althus is murdered by his unscrupulous identical twin brother Ulgram (because Ulgram has heard tales of the treasure). Ulgram proves impossible for the ghosts (who have no idea Althus has been replaced) to scare, but at the end of the ballad they manage to kill him by surrendering the treasure to him and then locking him alive, to suffocate, in the largest treasure chest.
This ballad dates from 1167 DR or so, and if there was ever any real-life truth inspiring it, it’s been forgotten. It was formerly far more famous than the play I mentioned first, but these days its melody and refrain (“The ghosts they danced, cold white flames under the moon/The ghosts they pranced; we’ll join them soon”) are better remembered than all the stanzas (and thus, the entire story).


On 19 May, 2009 THO said:- Hi, all.
rjfras, a proper answer to your question will have to come from Ed, of course, but from my playing experience in Ed's home Realms campaign, I can say that harbormasters and guildmasters would have office wall calendars, merchants who do a lot of shipping ditto, as well as courtiers, "revelmasters" (those who arrange feasts and parties), and temple clerks (the priests who book weddings and funerals and other events not part of "the daily offices" of prayer).
I don't think homesteading farmers or ranchers would have such things, though. We once spent the night in an abandoned steading, and on the wall by the kitchen was a hook with four rows of holes beneath it. On the hook was hung a whittled wooden plaque to denote the month, and a wooden peg was moved along the holes to mark the day. On "special" days (Greengrass and the other festivals), the month plaque was replaced for the day by a special plaque for that festival.
At the time, I got the impression from Ed that most other folk dwelling nearby would have consulted the now-gone dweller in that house as to what day it was. Precise dates weren't as important to farmers as other people; the "natural calendar" of weather and seasons ruled their lives, and there are other ways for a rural person to know when it's market day at the nearest "market-moot" (or market-town), such as pennants being flown, livestock being driven past to reach the market, wagons rumbling by ditto, and so on.


On 20 May, 2009 THO said:- Hello again, all!
I bring Realmslore at last from Ed, who has just returned from the hospital safe and sound (though housebound for the next few days). It wasn't how he intended to return, with a reply for edappel, nor is he free of the blinding flurry of demands on his time, but he did manage to snatch a few minutes to provide this, for Rhewtani's query: "Who was in charge of House Cormaeril in 1340? What was he like?"
Ed replies:


Three people can be said to be in charge of House Cormaeril at that time:

1. Lord Dasmer Cormaeril, a patrician, dignified, handsome "straight shooter" of a man with streaks of white hair through his darker mane, who is the eldest male of the house.
2. Lady Jlanesse Cormaeril, wife of Dasmer, a white-haired, sloe-eyed, white-skinned "brittle beauty" of a woman who is always quiet, sleek, polite - - and an utter tyrant, who gently but firmly commands her husband (and through him, all he has influence over). A master of strategy, shrewd "reading" of others, and foresight, she has few equals at manipulation among the nobles of the time (Queen Fee is one of those equals).
3. Baskorm Cormaeril, younger in years than Dasmer and Jlanesse, but Dasmer's "uncle" (by descent from a dead father), a boisterous "Squire Allworthy" character (if you know your TOM JONES) who is square of jaw, ruddy of face, prodigious of tankard-capacity, roistering, rutting, jovial, swift to brawling anger but never holds grudges . . . and, from Teziir, is the master of all exiled Cormaerils and family wealth and doings outside Cormyr. Jlanesse makes him literally shiver with fear, so he ignores her existence (and any demands sent by his brother, deeming them all to really come from her). He's not quite the "rustic simpleton" he appears, either; under his guiding hand, the Cormaerils are becoming quite wealthy outside the Forest Kingdom.
So there you have it: THREE people who are all, in different ways, "in charge of" House Cormaeril at that time.


So saith Ed. Ahhh, juicy fresh Realmslore again at last!
I just wish Wizards would give Ed about a hundred thousand dollars a year to just sit and write two novels and, say, a dozen short stories every year, to tell us all the tales of these colorful characters he whips up. (Well, a gal can dream, can't she? With the assistance of her whip and a little thing that seems to constantly need new batteries?)
love to all,


On 20 May, 2009 THO said:- Sage, I think ANYTHING can and should be discussed, so long as we steer clear of real-world connections that can at times rightly upset people (e.g. religious and lifestyle views). Yes, there are sex toys in the Realms, from whips and dildos through use of costumes and roleplaying (including cross-dressing; any amount of rough, tough armored guards secretly wearing silken feminine scanty panties under their leather cods and "unders," to "tingling creams" and wine-dissolved aphrodisiacs. Endless nipple-clamp-dangling adornments (including at high society revels and in the "official" garb of priestesses).
However, Ed has never dwelt on such things, only mentioned them as they came up in play (e.g. Torm's running joke about pulling down the pants of guards to see "what THESE bold jacks are wearing").
Ed's Realms has never been wholly for children or innocent teens, but it's not a smut-bath either; it's an attempt at portraying ALL of life, so actions have consequences, and there are trends and a meaningful unfolding history.
Which, yes, includes lovemaking.
Not that your average wayfaring adventuress has any need for batteries. Not when there are handy bedposts in so many inns.
love to all,


Hi again.
Sage, I await with (purrrrrr) anticipation.
Asgetrion, I believe I remember Ed describing a dock (as in, singular) and some very small, narrow barges (like the canal boats of England) at Thunderstone during an early convention play session - - not the home campaign - - once, but of course your query goes off to him for a proper reply.


You are remembering correctly, Blueblade.
And, scribes, BB isn't far off the mark indeed in his invented Florin description. No, indeed.
Although at least one of the male Knights had a garter belt of feather falling (no, he didn't have to wear garters with it, to make it function; it and the panties worked automatically, unless the wearer murmured a word to "turn them off" because they WANTED to plummet fast.
love to all,


On 22 May, 2009 THO said:- Hello again, fellow scribes!
Markustay, re. this: "This current conversation now has me picturing a very special, very secret room in El's tower with thousands of rear-view mirrors mounted to the walls.
With trophies... of course...
Some perhaps rather....... bizarre...."

Markustay, dahling, you have NO idea. I could tell you things about the striking nude female we Knights once found self-bound to the bedroom wall of El's Tower, but if I did, The Simbul would kill me, so I won't.
BEAST, Mithral Hall would actually be "HIMral ULdoum"
"Uldoum" means "favored dwarven settlement" (meaning favored by the speaker, which is a formal way of saying "I am of that settlement" . . . and "ul" in ultok, uldoum, uldrar and ulglath means "we people" or the dwarves)
"Uldrar" means "way of the dwarves," or literally, a route through the Underdark that is used, marked, and improved by the dwarves [steps cut into stone, bridges, some tunneling, etc.].
"Ulglath" means "dwarf-made" or "dwarven-work" or even "of the style of the dwarves" (so a dwarf could pick up a hammer he knows to have been made by a gnome, and say as a compliment: "Serth. Uglath!" meaning: 'I approve. Like dwarf-work!')
This all comes from Ed's notes, which were truncated sadly for DWARVES DEEP, and have been added to in play, since.
Ed tells me a dwarf who'd never heard of Mithral Hall (the known place, that is, as a named dwarven settlement) might say "himral ultok" to describe a hypothetical large cavern where Underdark dwellers already meet or gather to trade in mithral, or that was discovered to be full of mithral [a lost armory or ready-refined metals cache or something of the sort, not a lode or vein of the raw makings of mithral].
There. More potted dwarf-lore.
love to all,


On 24 May, 2009 THO said:- Hi again, all. I almost forgot:
Purple Dragon Knight, Ed thanks you for the kind words, but wants you to know that Elaine did most of the heavy lifting when it came to the plot of CITY OF SPLENDORS, so she deserves most of your thanks.
Yes, Ed and Elaine (who are good friends, BTW) "overwrote" each other many times, particularly when the book needed to be shortened, but the Amalgamation (Mrelder and his dad) and the Dyre daughters and their interactions with the Gemcloaks were established by Elaine from the outset.
Ed agrees with you that it's a "different" Realms book (just as ELMINSTER IN HELL was a very different sort of "different" Realms book), and he, too (however immodestly), thinks it's one of the best. "Those who want guys fighting orcs and dragons are going to be a bit disappointed, yes - - but then, those who hate such things get disappointed when they pick up Realms fiction so more often."


So saith Ed. Who is hard at work on NDA'd lore-work right now.
love to all,


On 30 May, 2009 THO said:- Hello again, all. I bring, from Ed's notes, a tentative answer to this recent query from Malcolm: "Just inside a city gate for, say, Suzail or Waterdeep or any other walled city with not too much sprawl outside the walls, there will inevitably be shops that just-arrived people will blunder past or up to. I'd imagine that a fair amount of newcomers ask "where is?" questions, and that shopkeepers would either go nuts or resign themselves to answering - - and probably shift the wares they sell to be "handy things a new arrival needs or wants to buy, right away." And perhaps provide washrooms? Water-troughs for tired mounts or pack animals?
My question is: could Ed - - or, THO, if Ed is still busy, Ed's notes - - give us any examples of one or two shops/shopkeepers (names, brief outline of what the place looks like and sells) one might encounter if entering Suzail through, say, that northeastern city gate, the one closest to the Palace? Thanks!"

Here we go . . . with an answer set JUST before the Spellplague erupts (from Ed's notes, extracted by me and given a swift edit and revision by Ed, who is seeing to a hundred household chores that he's let slide for almost a year, including clearing a path through the basement so he can finally take down the family Christmas tree and all its decorations after FOUR YEARS; yes, that's how busy he's been):

For the last two decades, three merchant families have run various shops and stalls near that gate, shifting around in terms of actual premises as rents (and their fortunes) have gone up and down.
They are:

The Landaeyrs ("Lahan-DAY-urs"), consisting of four sons, six daughters, Emra Landaeyr who keeps to the back rooms, overseeing and cooking and keeping the family accounts, and her husband - - the main public face of the family, Ansraeve ("Ann-SRAY-vvve") Landaeyr, a tall, thin, jovial and wisecracking man who cheerfully gives directions and contact information (most of it correct) and whose family-run shops are always crammed, chaotic, dimly-lit dust-heaps of sundry goods, from candles and bits of rope and wire to pots, pans, tools, and crocks ("handy household items," in other words). Whenever it's open (usually dawn to well after dusk) their shop always sells large mugs of hot beef broth-and-onion soup, mug and all, for 1 cp. They usually have "stones" (we real-worlders might call them small, slim bricks) of imported cheese and imported pressed dates for sale, too, but aside from occasional jars and vials of spices from the docks, no other food. Their shops tend to be known simply as "Landaeyr's."

Havrath Hrungoun: this short, fat, sly, fast-talking "wheeler dealer" of a man lives alone except for a man-mountain of a bodyguard, the slow-witted (but VERY observant, and a deadly accurate thrower of handy items to bring down fleeing shoplifters) Goroth Marl. Hrungoun sells broadsheets, love poems ornately written on scrolls, sweets (including chocolates, the most popular being tiny statuettes of King Azoun and Queen Filfaeril; he calls the former "bites" and the latter "lickables"), brightly-decorated bowls and decanters and ewers, and other "gift" wares.
He employs a small army of street youths to hawk the broadsheets and to "talk up" his shop everywhere in the streets, performing the only Suzailan equivalent of hard-sell, loud radio ads (of the used-car dealer "so come on down to" sort). Hrungoun is cheerfully crooked, sells booze and drugs (and purported love potions that will either "make her wild for you" or "make you a rampant bull, all night long") from under his counter, and also provides a secure short-term "lockup" service for valuables (and, it's rumored, for slaves and kidnapped persons). He's also a panderer, providing willing bedmates for visitors to the city. These latter two services he manages with the help of his three shifty sons (and their wives and children) who live in various modest homes across the city, and whom Hrungoun supports - - so although none of them trust him (no sane person trusts him), they work loyally for him.

Tarpreskur's Conveyances: Naldron Tarpreskur, his wife Tlalla, and his daughters Gontra and Marvroune run a stables (buying, selling, and boarding and tending mounts and light draft beasts), a taxi service of sorts (known as a "fastcoach carry," though it tends to be three-wheeled, two seat open conveyances with rain-hoods like some early real-world cars had), and a small-wares delivery service (same as fastcoach, but for small crates, barrels, baskets, and suchlike of goods that can be easily carried and handled). All of these operate within Suzail's walls only. The tall, laconic, battered-looking Tarpreskur is an expert horse trainer and doctor, an experienced coach and wagon repairer, and he and his family make, repair, and sell rain-hoods for everyone's coaches (that is: hood-shaped awnings, both cloth and supporting framework, that fit over coach seats, and sometimes can be folded down or back, and sometimes have added fasten-on "full weather covers" to keep the conveyance dry when it's just going to be left standing in all weather for some time.

All three of these families are consistently located just within that city gate, and habitually answer questions about the city from arrivals through the gate (doing so eagerly and well, not grudgingly or in a pranksome, deliberately-inaccurate manner).


So saith Ed, with a little help from my whip. Garen Thal and other fans of matters Cormyrean, here's another tidbit from the pen of the master!
love to all,


On 31 May, 2009 THO said:- Hi again, all.
Here's an extract from a quick e-mail from Ed, re. Dark Wizard's questions, which appear just above:

The shape of the landmass arose because I wanted two dragon-ruled kingdoms separated by a logical natural barrier (so, across the sea from each other, with harsh mountain terrain as the bridge) and because I wanted sea trade, lots of ports, and that same watery barrier (dominance of which is forever strategically important) to separate potentially-warring realms. The river serves the same purpose for the human Sword region. I was given the Dawn Titans, a wordcount, and "put in some dragon rulers; here's why," and from that tried to quickly build a continent that could function as a campaign setting all on its own (so overseas voyages or constructing/finding portals could be a campaign option, not a forced-on-the-DM necessity). Then I just imagined things, as I always do, made sure all the terrain options (jungle, subterranean, icy mountains, monster-roamed temperate forested woodlands, etc.) were included, drew the map, and sent it.
Yes, of COURSE there's material written and designed for Returned Abeir/Laerakond that didn't make it into the book. It would have to be rewritten, rounded out, and so on to make DDI articles, IF the copyright owner wants DDI articles using it (yes, I'll be suggesting it, and I see work on detailing Gontal - - my stuff had to be completely pruned to fit the FRCG space limitations - - has started).
When I get the chance (busy finishing up the 2008 Spin A Yarn tale right now), I'll answer Wooly's request for more on how I would use that landmass as part of the pre-Spellplague Realms. Promise. Sorry folks, but there's only one of me, and I have to do much more around the house these days as the passing years do their grim work and my wife's health slides.


So saith Ed. Who will, as he promises, return to"full bellow" ASAP.


On 1 June, 2009 THO said:- Hi, Markustay. I'm not sure what the precise answer is, and I know Ed's at work on something set in Golarion for the future, but the short answer - - I can't consult with Ed just now, because I know I can't get hold of him - - is: the elves. Ed was handed a handful of paragraphs (all that had been set down as "the elves of Golarion") and asked to flesh it out into a culture and "character" for the race (not stats, but what elves are like, as a people). He did that, writing more text than would fit Paizo's immediate needs, as usual.
I can't tell you more than that, because that's all I know; I never saw what he was given or what he wrote, and have deduced this from passing comments and stuff I've noticed, as a professional snoop. He may well have written a lot more - - or not.


On 3 June, 2009 THO said:- Hi again, all. Great queries, Markustay; I'm sure Ed will come through with a reply soon.
As for thrusk, Gelcur, Ed's notes serve us all once more:

Thrusk is a brewed drink made by boiling the roots and leaves of a very tough wild grass, thrusk, that grows in tufts from long underground roots (somewhat like ferns do), and can therefore survive long droughts and hot sun. Thrusk is sustenance grazing for horses, livestock, and pack animals, because its ropy, slightly-licorice-like bitterness is always strong.
As a drink, it is tan-brown, with a hot-chocolate-like "muck" sediment that precipitates out of the liquid at the bottom of every mug or tankard (and can be saved to be drenched with hot water later to produce a drink that's a weak echo of real brewed thrusk, and is sometimes called "echo"). Good thrusk is bitter but warming to the chest, and bracing, with that nutty, licorice-like undertone; it's an acquired taste, but popular among many wayfarers and caravan merchants because it warms the body (rapidly decreasing numbness in cold extremities), clears foul tastes from the mouth (and what we would call "morning breath" and the Realms knows as "tonguefoul"), and banishes headaches that don't have a severe concussion or head-wound cause (so drunkards with hangovers are still hung over, but lose any splitting headache they may have). Dipping bun-loaves (currant-studded hardbread, sometimes sliced into fingers in what our modern real world calls "biscotti") into thrusk for a sweet/bitter swift morningfeast snack ("daybreak-swallow" to folk of the Realms) is becoming increasingly popular.


So saith Ed (or rather, wrote Ed), and there you have it: thrusk, demystified.
love to all,


On 3 June, 2009 THO said:- Hi again, all.
Longtime Lurker, re. this: "Dear THO, Can you tell us if Ed is a "foodie" who eats at classy restaurants a lot, or is a chef (which I'm defining here as someone who creates their own dishes, often, and feels comfortable doing so because they're very familiar with the properties and tastes of foods), or makes wine or cheese or farms or something of the sort?
Or does he truly "make it all up" when writing as Volo the restaurant critic?
I've always been curious about this . . ."

Heh. Ed would love to eat at classy restaurants a lot, and loves eating at just plain simple ones, too (he hates crowding and noise, but also hates dress codes and overly fussy formality). He can't afford to do either much, however, and since heart troubles and onset of diabetes has to be quite careful about how he eats.
Which I suppose makes him a "foodie" of sorts, being as he's now far more interested in what he eats and can't eat and wholesome home- or local-grown food (Ed lives in the country). Ed will tell you he's always been intensely interested in food, but he means by that that he was always ravenously hungry as a kid and teen, had a hellish work and commuting schedule that kept him hungry often as an adult, too, and now has to be careful of what he eats.
Yes, Ed loves some Food Network shows (GOOD EATS with Alton Brown prominent among them), and Ed's brother is a chef who now teaches future chefs at a college in Toronto. Ed loves good wine AND cheese, and grows his own herbs, but I'd not call him a farmer. He knows his food, though, knows some restaurant critics, and did brief stints as one in Toronto when being a journalism student - - but when he's being Volo, he is indeed "making it up" (drawing on his real-world knowledge of kitchens and cookery and herbs and foodstuffs to make it seem gloriously real). When you read Ed's invented recipes, they ARE imaginary, but draw on what he knows and has heard of real-world food preparation.
You'd be surprised, though, at how lightly Ed eats. Drinks tons of tea, but his lunches are often a plate of raw vegetables.
I do know he makes soups by "cooking down" lots of raw vegetables from a stew into a seasoned soup, almost weekly (soups that last for four or five meals, that is).


Heh. Malcolm, you're going to have to wait for Ed's take on beholder matings. I mean, I'm a big girl, I can handle these things, but I doubt TSR or WotC would want to.

Hoondatha, I THINK most of those header quotes were made up on the fly at first. Increasingly, however, Ed has built up a "body" of writings for many of the fictitious sources that he's used more than once (often deliberately, to establish a mood or sense of time). Knowing Ed, he probably keeps track of those writings, writer by writer - - but I'm sure the actual content of the quotations, if not the tone, is just invented to fit the chapter (often to give it a title) as he comes to that part of the book.

Because Ed outlines his Wizards books beforehand (as part of the approvals process), and has so many projects on the go at once at doesn't want to add unnecessary confusion atop the wild confusion that's already his "normal" creative mental state, he tends to write much of them chronologically, rather than jumping around from big scene to big scene (he's already covered the highlights of what he wants scenes to accomplish, in the outline).
I will of course send your query to him, and he will add something if I've portrayed things wrongly. I think I'm on the mark, though.


On 4 June, 2009 THO said:- Hello again, all.
Baleful Avatar, a page back, said he needed some names quickly, so I plunged into Ed's notes. I'm afraid I haven't found the female given names yet, but for upland Cormyr, here are the most common male first names. If they have a popular diminutive, it's given in parentheses and quotation marks after the full formal name; if none's listed, there's no 'set' diminutive (and yes, there are a few where the diminutive doesn't match the formal name all that closely; these aren't mistakes).
I'll follow up with female names as soon as I can, but I'm afraid that will probably be late tomorrow . . .
Right. Here we go . . .

Brannon, Brennan ("Bran" or even "Bram"), Daerent ("Daer"), Garlin ("Garl"), Hargath ("Gath"), Ilmer, Jurusk ("Jusk"), Larthlan ("Larth"), Melsarl ("Sarl"), Naryk ("Nar"), Rorn, Rory, Sanraven, Sorbrar, Tellond ("Tuth"), Vornyn ("Vorn").

Note that these are rural upland names; when it comes to cities, they are common only in Arabel - - and if you start to include Purple Dragon garrisons (staffed by a mix of people from everywhere in the realm) or nobility and their households (again, from everywhere, but often of middle-class or "gentle" birth), the "common" names start to shift to some other names more popular in wealthier and more urban families.

So saith Ed (I've just done some light editing and linking up of sentences from different places in his notes, not real rewriting).
More when I can,


On 4 June, 2009 THO said:- Hi again, all.
Two things:
Elric, there are TWO Castle Crags: the "big" one in Cormyr, and the tiny ruined one in Shadowdale. There's a long behind-the-scenes story about these, but I can assure you Ed created them, and the original ("Old Gray") boxed set lore stuff (as opposed to the rules stuff like the hexes and movement/terrain details and comparison with a map of the USA, which is by Jeff Grubb) is almost entirely from Ed's pen; Jeff's main task was arranging Ed's stuff, deciding what to leave out to put into other products (such as FR1, FR4, FR5, FR6, etc. etc.), and deciding how to streamline and "shape" what was included to cover hard D&D game rules and to be in clear english without Ed's trademark digressions (because the use of "sidebars" wasn't yet common).
Ed detailed the Cormyrean fortress of Castle Crag extensively for the Avatar series of modules, and that map and description was then edited right out of the adventure to make more room for story. The result was a sort of "black hole" when it came to the Cormyrean Castle Crag (which is both a fortess and a thriving community around the fortress, but within an outer "curtain wall").
Ed can fill in this lore hole for you, I hope, in the fullness of time. It would probably take him years to find his maps, but the three-paragraph-or-so overview, the governing NPCs, and so on, should be far more readily accessible.
Re. the thrusk notes I posted recently; looking over them, Ed mentioned that his notes convey an incomplete impression re. the sustenance grazing: what he meant to say was that thrusk's strong taste makes it sustenance grazing, NOT PREFERRED GRAZING, for the listed beasts (they prefer sweeter grasses, and will avoid thrusk whenever they can get said grasses, leaving abundant thrusk for travelers to just yank up and use in brews).
love to all,


On 5 June, 2009 THO said:- Ooh, that's a fun question. Me likee.
Hi, all. As promised, here's my delving into Ed's notes for the most common upland rural Cormyrean female given names (with diminutives, if any, appearing in parentheses and quotation marks after the full, formal name). Bear in mind that these are the names borne by salt-of-the-earth farmers, carters, millers, and foresters, of the lowest incomes in the realm. As you move up the middle class, other names become more popular, and the list changes.

Argatha ("Gatha" or "Gath"), Baerla, Bremma, Claela or Claera, Dethra, Flarra ("Larra"), Haela, Hilbremma ("Bremma"), Imsra ("Issa"), Jalyth, Laritha ("Lara"), Maethe, Naneesa ("Neese"), Orarra, Orprelle ("Pel"), Parella ("Rella"), Sartranna ("Tana"), Tethyl, Umbra, Vaerl

So saith Ed, for this list is direct from his notes. And there you have it; go forth and name those goodwives!

love to all,


On 5 June, 2009 THO said:- Hi again, all.
Rhewtani, Moander has been there, behind the scenes, throughout the Knights' careers. I don't think we've ever even SEEN him directly, let alone confronted him, but he works constantly behind our backs (what Ed called "the quiet creep of rot and decay") to attack walls and keeps and bridges and even burial markers everywhere, seeming to take dead aim at shaky or undermanned governments and lawkeepers, and "let in the jungle." He's particularly dangerous to dungeon-delvers because of cave-ins (roof of the dungeon falling to entomb you). Ed is very subtle about this; he always manages to avoid making players feel as if the DM (and all of the world-setting) is against them - - but repeatedly blindsides us with things cracking or falling when we didn't expect them to.


On 6 June, 2009 THO said:- Hi, Wooly! This is a great topic, and, yes, “Returned Abeir” can function just fine as a long-unseen continent of Toril circa 1350s through 1370s with almost no “foreground” changes - - that is, alterations to what mortal adventurers see around them and experience - - at all.
Returned Abeir becomes the identical continent of Laerakond, well southwest of Evermeet, that’s been isolated from direct contact with the distant continent of Faerûn because, yes, the Dawn Titans have been imprisoned there after a long-ago Godswar, behind a mighty Weave-warping divine magic enacted by the familiar Faerûnian gods we all know agreeing and working together (under the direction of Ao, if you use Ao in your campaign).
{If for some reason you want Mystra gone or diminished in your campaign, she could have sacrificed herself to BECOME this magic, retaining power and influence in Faerûn only through her Chosen and her church, as more and more of her divine energy was sapped, as the years passed, in binding and holding the Titans, who are increasingly able to devour it; see hereafter. Or perhaps, if you want to jettison Ao or specific deities from the published pantheon, they made this sacrifice.}
Even deities - - such as Mask, Bane, and Cyric - - who customarily cheat and manipulate to get their own ways in dealings with their fellow gods have no interest in working treachery on this particular deal among the gods, because the Titans, unleashed, are a direct and malicious threat to the gods of Faerûn and all their mortal worshippers. The Titans gain power not through worship, but by devouring souls and life-essence (godhood being their first and foremost desired meal). Letting the Titans go free would eventually mean no deities, and a Toril stripped of all life - - literally bare, windblown earth, with not a plant or beast left.
The Titans entered Realmspace through a rift inadvertently caused by the elven High Magic that cloaked Evermeet, stealing in through the “back door” so to speak, so their point of entry was “behind” (farther from Faerûn than) Evermeet. By chance, it was in the northern part of Laerakond.
Where dragons were already resident, and battling each other in struggles that had long ago reduced them to few in number and forced their conflicts into contests of etiquette, influence, strict rules, and fighting through proxies (lesser beasts, right down to their dragonborn slaves) - - lest their continuing struggles result in no food left for any dragon, or their destruction at the hands of the vastly less powerful but numerically far more numerous other races of Laerakond (such as the giants, humans, et al).
{For a hint of what this dragon society might have been like, recall the evil Skeksis of the DARK CRYSTAL, and also look to a certain contest introduced in the opening pages of the forthcoming - - and great - - Erin Evans novel THE GOD CATCHER, fifth in the ED GREENWOOD PRESENTS WATERDEEP series.}
The arrival of the Titans shattered this status quo and awakened savage battle among the dragons once more - - and the arrival of the deities of Faerûn, alerted by the shockwaves sent through the Weave by Titans hurling magic at dragons who presumed to defy them, and the subsequent battle between gods and Titans, destroyed much of Tymanther. The dragonborn won free of their dragon overlords, the dragons were reduced to a mere handful, much of Laerakond north of “The Snouts” (the capes projecting into the Dragon Sea east of Marrauk and southwest of Stormhelm) was left a magic-ravaged chaos (not lifeless, but a turmoil of destruction and raging wild magic and wild growth and mutation spawned by it, of monsters wandering the land and no order but that of fang and claw) . . . and the Titans were magically bound into stasis, in deep caverns blasted out beneath Fimbrul and Relmaur.
Where they remain to this day, already awake and scheming but unable to win free of their immobility, not daring to try anything too drastic - - like crashing their spell-chains against each other violently and repeatedly - - for fear of collapsing the caverns around them and perishing under the weight of the mountains above. Yet seeking to reach out and rule all Toril from their prisons, by means insidious. They managed much during the Time of Troubles, luring many creatures to them through dream-visions sent forth while the gods were walking Faerûn, and their power is increasing, as rumors spread in Laerakond lure more and more adventurers and power-seekers to them, to this day.

So we have a longtime inability to pass from Faerûn to Laerakond and vice versa, except through a few secret gates (portals), because the elves wanted Evermeet cloaked not just from Faerûn, but also from Laerakond, and for years used lesser magics to aid and abet the magical experimentations of the great ruling dragons of Laerakond.
The dragons were alarmed by some ships arriving at their shores (from Faerûn and elsewhere), and - - after enslaving the crews, from whom many of the humans of their continent are descended - - raised magical storms in the seas around Laerakond that made sailing to and from it foolishly perilous.
Which left legends in Faerûn of a lost land somewhere across the seas, a vast land of terrible dragons and great riches, that a few sailors found long ago, but that none can find today.

Until recently, if you the DM want it to. Perhaps the Time of Troubles, or the deaths and shifting portfolios and power alliances among the gods since (if you have had any of those happen in your campaign) or any of your own tinkerings with the pantheon, have weakened or ended the “storms at sea” zones, and a few intrepid seacaptains have voyaged between one continent to the other, and back. (Or not, if you prefer; I designed both the continents of Faerûn and Laerakond to function perfectly in isolation, each as a campaign setting.)

Note that none of this (the “what happened” ideas I advanced above) invalidates what’s written in the FRCG as “Abeir’s Past.” Those published words merely become the locally-accepted version of things; what most folk of Laerakond believe happened “before the days we know now.”

The Titans become the source of Shar’s recent success, if you want them to, and of the Shadow Weave, if you want to use it, and can even be the backers of Shade (the Princes may or may not be aware of this). They can also be the source of any monsters or cults you want to add to the Realms (even “don’t fit” elements, such as the dragon kings of DARK SUN or something from RUNEQUEST or another fantasy setting or game, that you just want to experiment with as “one-offs”), or hitherto-unknown links (portals) connecting the Realms with, say, Golarion, or Eberron, or the fictional settings of A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE or the WHEEL OF TIME or the setting of the Eddings BELGARIAD and MALLOREON or whatever you’d prefer.
The point is that the Titans are bound, and although they may individually be too strong to destroy (and their destruction, akin to an atomic explosion of unprecedented proportions, may be too damaging to Toril to dare attempt), they dare not break free and act openly, because the gods will swarm them and imprison them again, in (already explicitly threatened) greater torment. So instead, they work through proxies, seeking to sew discontent and warfare and mistrust, to weaken rulers and order and increase violence and “the wild” right across the face of the Realms, by cults here and monster breedings there. Perhaps they are behind the deepspawn, or the rise of a beholder realm, or both. They are certainly behind cults, cabals, and attempted treason and usurpations everywhere, and seeking to subvert existing merchant costers, brotherhoods, and other established power groups (the Harper, from within? the War Wizards? the Red Wizards?).
And they are certainly behind expedition after expedition of adventurers, both duped “good” bands and grasping evildoers (or adventurers hired by power-seekers in Tarmalune and your choice of the cities and lands of southern Laerakond) into Relmaur and Fimbrul, seeking to find the deep cavern of this or that Titan, and physically free them. Perhaps the imprisoned Titans are aware of a way to substitute a captured dragon or wizard (or even some or all of the adventurers who are rescuing them) for themselves in the bindings, to prevent gods whose attentions are now elsewhere from knowing that a Titan has won free . . .
Ah, such delicious cans of worms, all opened up in a row before you. Your choice of which to partake of, and how much, and when.
Dig in! :}


So saith Ed. Creator of the Realms and Laerakond and lots of crazy, sneaky, fun campaign ideas like this!
GREAT question, Wooly!
love to all,


On 6 June, 2009 THO said:- Agreed.
I love the way Ed made the Titans as powerful as gods yet DIFFERENT than the gods. I told him so, and he reminded me that being as various "lost" gods (the Seven Lost Gods and others) are remembered by mortals only in (distorted) legends, that doesn't prevent the Titans from BEING those "lost gods."
Ed has also made the Titans into a version of the stock "Destroyer of Worlds" trope (they lay waste to worlds they invade, by devouring life-energies, and so must continually move on), and thereby linked them to all the fantasies where there's a quest to "close a gate" to keep some evil out of a world (just to pluck forth one at random, Lin Carter's OUTWORLDER) and, once again, to one of Ed's favorite long-standing fantasy tropes: the battle for control of gates that link worlds (Philip Jose Farmer's WORLD OF TIERS series and many, many others).
Lovely stuff. He hasn't lost his touch, to be sure.

(edappel, Ed tells me he's at work on a message for Alan; do you want it written as from Elminster, or as Ed?)



On 7 June, 2009 THO said:- Hi again, all.
I bring a reply of sorts from Ed to Rhewtani, re. this query: "I understand that the city Tsornyl was destroyed by a Moander-related creature in 75 DR. The House of Tsornyl lost most of its members in that incident.
What was the basic status of the House in the later eras (specifically, 1340s-1350s).
I know the city was reduced to a village. Did the house regain any footing or does it eventually die out?"

Rhewtani, a proper answer from Ed is still forthcoming, but he wanted you to know right away that the family line persists. Specifically:

There is indeed still a House Tsornyl, though these days they are few in number, go by another name, and are powerful in another place in the Realms.

So saith Ed. Mysteriouser and mysteriouser, as Alice might have said . . .


On 8 June, 2009 THO said:- Hi, all.
News flash from Ed: the 2008 Spin A Yarn story, which is over 20,000 words long (and incorporates, if only in small and sneaky ways in some cases, EVERY LAST STORY ELEMENT suggested here at the Keep and by the seminar audience at GenCon) has been turned in to Wizards. Its working title is: VOLO BREAKS A HOT TALE, and tells me it is set in Waterdeep and even has a plot, "once you get to it."

So, expect some forthcoming reading pleasure on the Wizards website.
love to all,


Hi again, everybody. A few swift matters . . .

althen artren, a little bird tells me we may in the fullness of time learn more about Hesperdan in published Realmslore.
That is: already-written but not-yet-published, canon Realmslore (and no, not a Spin A Yarn story).

Dark Wizard, it's a pleasure to answer the questions you and every scribe pose here at the Keep, for both Ed and myself. Ed is one of those writers who never forgets that, behind and beneath all the contracts and marketing strategies and author tours, he does this for fans, not for publishers.
To answer your questions:
The original Realms did not end at Thay, nor the Wastes beyond. "Known Faerun" ended about two mapsheets east of Thay, with "everyone" knowing that there were lands, strange and exotic and never seen except by dragons and other flying creatures, or folk with access to magic or flying steeds, beyond (east of, and south of) what the maps showed.
Of course, bards and priests and everyone else knew they were free to make up all sorts of wild stories about those Far Lands - - and did so, especially when they needed excuses to account for contraband, things gone missing, and failures of magic or grand plans.
As a longtime player in Ed's home Realms campaign, I can confirm that this was what folk "knew" and were told. From my notes I can probably dredge up half a dozen tales our PCs heard in taverns or around firesides, down the years of play - - and some persistent names and rumors I took note of.
I do know that Ed has always had some secret maps of a few realms clustered around a sea-gulf, with open sea to the east, that didn't get shared with TSR back in the day because they specifically called a halt to his sending in stacks of lore, and said (I paraphrase, of course) "Save it for some other day or other project, we've got more than enough to work with here."
I also know that Jeff Grubb took the attitude that what Ed never submitted and got paid for was still Ed's, not part of TSR's purchase of the Realms, but I have no idea how Hasbro's lawyers, all these years later, would view those unseen lands. I suspect Ed will be reluctant to share details of them here for fear of landing himself - - and Candlekeep - - in possible legal troubles.
Nor does it seem likely, unless Eberron's newest incarnation and the current WotC business models fail utterly, that the Realms will be resurrected in a form that would want new lands added to the east.
After all, we now have Laerakond/Returned Abeir to play with, to the west, and we STILL don't have half the level of detail Ed wanted, for the familiar bits of Faerun. Remember his DRAGON article on Crimmor? Ed wants about every third city as one travels along major trade-roads in the Realms (including every capital city, of course) detailed to that level, with the ones between left to individual DMs to flesh out.
Ah, so much to do, and so little time . . .


On 8 June, 2009 THO said:- The map Blueblade's referring to DWARFS the City System map. We're talking over 20 17" x 35" inch white pieces of paper, with buildings drawn on them as black outlines ("empty boxes" not "filled in boxes"). A typical rectangular two-to-three or three-to-four storey Waterdhavian building, with street-level shop and two or three floors of living quarters above, is a rectangle of about 3/4" wide by around 1" long (in other words, the base of an old Airfix model soldier figure will JUST fit inside one, which is how Ed denoted where "the PC party" was, where Watch patrols were, where "bad guys we were following" were, and so on. Trees, ponds, public pumps, fountains, and statues were all included, too.
In other words, HUGE. Two lucky gamers, out there in the world, have copies of this (aside from whoever kept it at TSR, if it didn't just go into the dumpster): it was a "door prize" at a long-ago PHANTASM convention in Peterborough, Ontario (the Guests of Honor that year were Richard and Lilly Garfield, and Ed), and it was a charity auction item at a Milwaukee-era GenCon.
Ed didn't send it to TSR on 17x35 mapsheets; he sent it to them on foolscap-length photocopies, overlapped copiously to minimize photocopier "around the edges" distortion (so buildings would line up, and all distortions, by judicious cut-and-paste surgery, could be shifted into the "white space" of streets and alleys.
When CITY SYSTEM came out, all of us original players were greatly disappointed, not just at the small size of the maps, but at the "districts get strong color hues" rather than having cobbles, dirt, and building roofs. I'm a big girl; I can tell boundaries by myself by reading street names and referring to a 1-page district boundaries guide.
Ah, well . . .
love to all,


On 9 June, 2009 THO said:- Hmmm. Well, I can tell you this much: POOLS OF RADIANCE, complete with the river and the town/city, was inserted into the Realms by TSR (I strongly suspect that some or all of it was "done" before they bought the Realms), in place of what Ed had there.
So I doubt Ed's going to be able to say much.


On 10 June, 2009 THO said:- Hi again, all.
George, your words of praise for Ed warm me, and I'm sure will make Ed smile happily.

Bakra, I got to see some of the TSR design drafts at a GenCon seminar well after the printed TSR product came out, and the concept there ("borrowed," I suspect from Zelazny's Pattern in Amber and other teleport "gates"/portals from fantasy) was that there were multiple Pools, scattered in remote sites all over the campaign world and even a few other planes, and that those who knew how could "pass" (teleport) from one Pool to another.
So that, of course, coloured my answer.


On 12 June, 2009 THO said:- Hello again, all.
Rhewtani, Bakra, and Baleful Avatar: Baleful is remembering rightly. Ed will check to see what his notes have about those two ruins (he thinks he never wrote more than a couple of paragraphs).
Blueblade, I've sent your query off to Ed, too - - but I can tell you, because my character once landed on a wheel of said cheese (after unintentionally "dropping in" to a Cormyrean noble's kitchen), that the cheese you speak of is known as Roaroke (or "Rokeheart" in the Border Kingdoms, where it's popular but hard to obtain, so many inferior versions of it are locally made).
We will, of course, hear much more in the fullness of time from Ed.
And Rhewtani, Ed wasn't jerking your shackles; he WILL give you a proper reply, as soon as he can (right now, he's attending family funerals - - yes, again! - - and finishing up the judging for the Sunbursts; it's crunch time, where the judges battle it ouXXX ahem, debate their picks in order to come up with just one winner for the adult and the YA categories (for most scribes: the Sunbursts, which have gone by other names in the past, are Canada's annual best sf/fantasy awards, for adult book and YA book).
Oh, and Ed will have family visiting this weekend, so I suppose he'll be busy cooking, too.
love to all,


On 12 June, 2009 THO said:- Hi again, all.
bradhunter, Ed will be providing some details of heroes of the "monster" races (he's named a few already earlier in this year's iteration of this thread). Ed is a Charter Life Member of the RPGA, and is quietly working behind the scenes with at least two regional groups (that is, the gents and ladies who write the adventures for an area of the Realms) that I know of. Your questions have been sent off to him, and hopefully we'll soon see answers.
Menelvagor and Markustay, it's really a function of time; Ed holds down several jobs, and could spend all his waking hours NOT writing or designing, if he let himself be lured into all the distractions. Two of the organizations he works for (or with) have strict rules re. what should be self-posted on the Net to help prevent identity theft, and as Ed will tell you (as he replied to a library director re. why he didn't blog and livejournal):

I find my life incredibly interesting, but that's because I'm living it. :}
That is, I'm learning and researching and creating and mulling over stuff. Yet the daily humdrum stuff is just that: daily and humdrum. Why should anyone else CARE? I'm just not that self-centered, I guess. I suppose I could and should self-promote, but many of the writers who do that manage to produce about a book a year. Why not use that time to do FIVE books a year - - (as I, instead, do)? Yes, I may kill more trees, but I'm also getting better as a writer - - and I might get run over by a truck tomorrow, and then it'll be a little too late to write the great books I might have gotten around to doing someday.


So saith Ed. Who also, as cribes here know well, spends a little time almost every day writing something for us, here.
love to all,


On 13 June, 2009 THO said:- Hello again, all. EdAppel, I have the pleasure to present the long-promised Elminster message to Alan, from Ed writing as Elminster:



To Alan,
From the hand of Elminster of Shadowdale,


Word hath come to me lately of thy recent sojourn in durance vile.

I set down these few words not merely to congratulate thee on thy release, nor to hearten thee down the rest of thy days, but to extend the hand of friendship and let ye know that there are other wayfarers through life who honour thee and understand thee. The one I know as EdAppel, for one. Even when companionship cannot be directly seen or touched, thou art not alone.

Now that thou hast known a cage, and seen something of the darker sides behind the faces of thy fellow men, reflect: ye still live, and breathe, and are stronger for the experience.

Trite words, those, I know. Others have said them before, and no doubt they shall be said again. Yet a truth lies in them, for we are strengthened by every experience we survive. “Enriched” is the currently-popular word, I believe. We cannot help but be enriched, for a life is no more than a collection of experiences, and what their remembered colour and lessons lend to us as we face later experiences.

Think of thy life as a pathway ye are building through an unknown, mysterious, mist-shrouded land, a forest or jungle. Ye never know what lies ahead, and may even question why ye are making the journey. More than that, every flagstone ye set down has its cost to ye. Yet ye are on the path before ye truly know ye have begun it, just as all others are on their paths. Our paths may cross, or run together for days or months or years, yet in the end our path is - - must be - - our own. We all make choices, all the time, and some of them turn out to be mistakes, or less bright than other choices we might have made, yet the time of that particular choosing lies behind us, and we cannot go back.

So, in the end, we are left with three sorts of choices: to refuse to choose, and drift aimlessly, restless and accomplishing little and tasting more and more dissatisfaction; to choose recklessly, not really caring or letting anger rule us or the excitement of the moment and hurling aside judgment, consideration, and counsel; or to choose with thought and deliberation the route of our path, its way marked by choice after choice. The last way can be hard at times, yet also holds the most satisfaction, for however unwisely we choose, we at least have chosen, have taken some hand in deciding and shaping our life.

Ye did not choose that cage, nor the time spent there. Yet having tasted it, ye can draw from those memories and call on their teachings in thy time ahead. Ye can look back and take pride in surviving that dark time, and take it up like a bloodied and battered suit of armour, and say, “I wore this.” More than that: “I wore this, and lived to look back and gaze upon this armor. If ever I must put it on again, I will know what I am putting on - - and know that I can survive through it, for I have survived before.”

Not everyone lives that deeply, ever. Not everyone is tested and tempered in flame. The old warrior who has scars can be proud of them in a way that the naïve young maiden can preen in her beauty, but any pride she takes in it is empty and foolish, for it has cost her nothing, and so she knows not its price, and is not mindful of the weights of life. The darkness that makes warming flames all the brighter.

Hold on to those flames, and do not forget your time of imprisonment. Be as the bars that confined thee: patient, enduring, uncomplaining. If ye remember fear and anger, close thy hand around it and keep it safe and stored, ready to be a weapon when needed - - but wielded well, not foolishly, wildly, and to no good end.

Let it be thy inner flame, a flame that faileth not, until the day of thy passing - - and let that day be a long way off, after the deaths of all who put thee in the cage. Endure, outlast, and be stronger.

For it is the only good way to build thy path, and the best prize of the hard work of building.

Know quiet pride, and wise peace, Alan. Ye are not alone.

And ye do NOT lack armour, nor the respect of thy friends. Walk tall.


Until next,

Elminster of Shadowdale


Whooo. So saith Ed.


On 14 June, 2009 THO said:- Hi. Well, the answer to that would be: fairly often.
Almost every non-wilderness rural place has a herbalist or two (plus "old family remedies" everyone else knows, from farmers to foresters to shopkeepers), and "some" villages have an apothecary if they're on a trade route. Almost all market towns have an apothecary (and a "hedge wizard").
If a village NOT on a trade route has a shrine (as opposed to just a priest or hermit), the priest who tends the shrine often functions as an apothecary (to earn an income). If a shrine has two or three staffers (even if only one of them is a proper priest), an apothecary is likely to be on that staff.
We Knights encountered apothecaries many, many times. Some of us even killed several apothecaries during play (always for very good reasons, of course; tried to poison us, was a known Zhent spy who attacked us, et cetera).


On 14 June, 2009 THO said:- Hi again, all.
Oooh, Markustay, there are two features of mine that need constant support, if you're needing something to do with your hands . . .
Yet I post here now not to TITillate, but to bring Ed of the Greenwood's reply to The Sage in the matter of one of the songs he's asked about (Ed will, of course, answer them all in the fullness of time).
To whit, the "well-known tavern song" of Chapter 14 of THE SWORD NEVER SLEEPS.
Here's Ed's reply:

The ballad in question, much sung in unison by melancholy tipplers all over the Western Heartlands and Sword Coast as far south as Calimshan, is:



I am haunted, truly haunted, by deep need for some more drink
Oh, I am haunted, truly haunted, and given much to think
On ways and days so long gone
When I was a hero bright
A-saving the Realms from dusk to dawn
In many a ferocious fight
And lovers came and lovers went
So many now dead and dust
Sword-brothers all their blood I spent
In many dooms, so avenge I must
And I am haunted, truly haunted, by their faces in my dreams
Yes I am haunted, truly haunted, by their whispers and their screams
The dead they ride you long and hard
They steal all peace and precious sleep
And all my terrors they nightly guard
Through all contentment coldly creep
So I am haunted, truly haunted, by the things I have not done
Haunted, truly haunted, by the battles I’ve not yet won
I cannot rest, I cannot laze; O never idle, I
Am doomed to do cold bidding under moon and sun
Seasons chasing seasons until I avenge or striving die
So I am haunted, truly haunted, by deep need for much more drink
I am haunted, truly haunted, too tired to care or think
So pour me more, and sing of hope
That’s worn by someone else
For I am haunted, truly haunted, and just want to see some joy.


(The composer is anonymous, but was probably a bard of Tethyr, in the 1200s DR)

So saith Ed. Who will dredge up the other songs (lyrics, at least) from his notes as he has time to do so. Not that he intends to neglect other scribes' requests that have languished too long unanswered!


ON 15 June, 2009 THO said:- Hi again, all.
Why, THANK you, Markustay. Such a gentleman . . .
I need one of your hands here, and the other just over here. Now squeeze. Hard.
Don't do this to most females, mind you; it HURTS. I just happen to like this particular pain (yes, you can bite them, too; just don't bite chunks out of them; high school was many years ago for me . . .).
Ahem. Now, where were we?
Oh, yes.
Ashe, Ed says he really can't comment on Kingslayer yet; 'twouldn't be professional. Though notice that "yet."
Ed is still wrapped up in family matters, but is busy with a number of writing projects, about which he'll say more when publishers give him approval to do so.


Hi again, all.
Ed just replied to me re. that last question, from Malcolm:


Yes, I have read and very much enjoyed THE GREAT BEYOND. Todd Stewart did a great job, and produced what a completist might call "a great beginning" because it's not long enough. Yet you know and I know that the writer/designer doesn't get to choose the length/wordcount of a book; he could just go into more depth here and there if he wanted to, because the pages to do that just aren't there.
VERY little tinkering is necessary to use THE GREAT BEYOND in the Realms (depending on how much you use or apply the REALMSPACE sourcebook in your campaign). For me, personally, I'd not change my original detailing of the Nine Hells because players in my home campaign have journeyed in it with their characters too much to shift anything now (a substantial "play history" has been built up), nor abandon some of the little wrinkles Jeff Grubb and I worked on, back when the first MANUAL OF THE PLANES was being designed (because, again, certain home campaign maguffins are tied to those wrinkles; no, THO, I'm not going to let slip anything more on this, so give up on trying to purringly persuade me - - or no, don't give up on it, work harder on it, ahem). Most of the planar activity in the home Realms campaign is via gates to parallel Prime Material Planes (other fantasy worlds, and our own Earth), anyway.
So all in all, I really enjoyed the book, and really recommend it. I have a soft spot for planar lore (I really liked BEYOND COUNTLESS DOORWAYS from Malhavoc, too, though it would require far more rejiggering to use it with the Realms), but that also means I've taken a look at lots of versions of "all that lies beyond our world" and done substantial "official at the time" work on the D&D planes (the Hells, Limbo, et al), and have some basis upon which to judge THE GREAT BEYOND against other planar sourcebooks. Great work, Shemmy! Thank you!


So saith Ed. Who is hard at work on to-be-published lore of his own, right now. Not to mention wrapping up the Sunburst judging today. Oh, and rummaging for more song lyrics to answer The Sage, too!
love to all,


On 15 June, 2009 THO said:- . . . And, as promised, here's what Ed has to say about another of The Sage's musical queries from THE SWORD NEVER SLEEPS:


The "currently popular ditty" we hear a short snatch of in Chapter 17 comes from Sembia, and is thought to have been composed by a local minstrel by the name of Blackaland Helveshield (though there is, inevitably, a dispute over this, in the form of other minstrels and bards claiming authorship).

Here it is (crude rhymes, yes, but songs that becoming popular as singalongs tend to have simply lyrics, and succeed thereby):


My swordarm it is restless
My anger dark and strong
I stride the floor from door to door
And brood on matters wrong
Sinking into a black, black temper . . .

The shadows they all watch me
I give them warnings grim
Skulking lurkers shift and prowl
Turning from me to him
For I’m dark, dark danger . . .

My love is gone, my love is fled
I’m left here all alone
I draw my blade and heft it
Slicing dreams of flesh and bone
Feeling wet, wet bloodlust . . .

Somewhere folk are happy
Still laughing and trading jests
They have no fear of beasts nor men
Who’ll sink blades into their chests
Can’t wait to kill, kill anyone . . .

No more I’ll suffer lass or jack
To stand in my striding way
No more accepting silence
When someone dares me gainsay
I’ll raise red, red war . . .

I’m pacing all the morning
I’ll be bloodletting all the night
In between I brood and keen
Warming for the fight
I’m building a black, black temper . . .

Come back to me, my lover fair
So I can shake this curse
Of death and so much wanting it
No god has seen me worse
I want your bright, bright love . . .

(repeat first verse, usually "slow, loud, and long")

So saith Ed. Who's off to the library now, to work, he tells me.


On 15 June, 2009 THO said:- Heh. You are giving Ed WAY too much credit for any organized state of his office. Ed outgrew his office and bookshelf space two houses ago, and despite expanding this current one of his by about half and building himself a large (and crammed) library, things are still mass chaos.
Not because Ed's disorganized, though.
It's because he's, as I've said before, about as busy as the leader of any large country you care to name, or the CEO of a LARGE corporation, but has no staff at all. It's all him, and he has to run a house, hold down a day job, deal with all the daily life stuff we all do (shopping, cooking, laundry), oh, and write books and design games at a pace any three other people just might match. Re. his papers and records: Ed's been working on the Realms for over forty years, and things long ago got boxed, misplaced, rearranged, lost, found, repackaged, and so on.
However, YES, Ed keeps lore-notes (like the songs Sage has been asking about) more or less to hand for his most recent novels for each publisher. Just not the previous 160-some books, that's all. :}
For one thing, Wizards staffers, designers, and fellow Realms authors ask about stuff all the time for other projects, and Ed likes to be able to help them in a timely manner, not months or years later.


On 16 June, 2009 THO said:- Duly noted, GoCeraf, and welcome back!

Foxhelm, Ed teasingly planned just such a scene, but it got nixed by a nervous DRAGON editor because of possible trouble from higher-ups if the wizards said anything at all that could be construed as negative about the game - - and you KNOW they would have, just because of their characters.

Sage, I'm thinking DARK TIME would have been composed about three years before the date of Chapter 17, but of course Ed will give a proper answer for you.

Hoondatha, mules or donkeys are most often put in with herds of other grazing beasts, to protect them against coyotes, wolves, wild dogs, etc. Alpacas tend to find the Dales humid and overheated, insect-infested agony in summer. My notes (drawn of course from Ed's utterances, during play) tell me that alpacas WERE kept in some of the "enclosures" in the Citadel of the Raven, as meat beasts, though. Torm briefly hid amongst them once to avoid being discovered, and had some uncomplimentary remarks to make, afterwards, about their dung.

More Realmslore later. Don't know when; busy day for Ed today!

love to all,


Oh, I almost forgot.
Yes, we Knights have met Maethlin, both as a youth and later on. No, we didn't kill him.
We don't kill EVERYONE we meet in the Realms, you know . . . just most of them.


On 17 June, 2009 THO said:- Hi again, all.
Markustay, Ed replies:


Heh. I cannot play golf. "A good walk spoiled," as they say. When I look at a beautiful golf course, I think the same thing THO does: "There are much, much better things I could be doing in or on this lovely landscape rather than bashing a tiny ball around it with an overly-expensive array of clubs. Hmm, perhaps not with a large gallery watching. Mass audience participation can be crushing."

As for a bailout: if it's a gift, sure, I need about 4 million. If it's a loan, no, I'll struggle along. Or you could give me 100 billion and I'd set up proper, civilized health care for all Americans. (If Barack wants me, he knows where to find me.)


So saith Ed. Hmmm. With 100 billion, I could do a LOT of things. And I guarantee I could do all of them better than either Wall Street or a large automaker, but perhaps that's enough of real-world politics. Sometimes, things ARE simpler in the Realms.
love to all,

Edit: Fixed some of Ed's typos. He was at the library, using one of their decaying keyboards balanced atop stacks of books. And was utterly sober, he added firmly. In such a mournful tone that I'm compelled to believe him.


Hi again, all.
Markustay, the alternate (local) name for the Sunrise Mountains (which is the Aglarondan and hence Inner Sea name for them) is the Thaedanth Range, or Thaedanths. Yes, the "Thae" is pronounced like "Thay." Sounded confusing to someone at TSR, so it was dropped.

Re. cemeteries: not a waste of green space when you're looking to stop urban developers from paving every inch of green space, though. Provides air scrubbing from the trees and slows runoff and cools the microclimate and so on. Yet making them multi-use (parkland with burials), YES.



On 18 June, 2009 THO said:- Hi again, all.
Teneck, I sent along Markustay's "world" map to Ed. He chuckled at the Land of Flying Monkeys, tells me the "Eastern Sea" is all wrong (about a quarter the width it should be), that Anchorome (there should be a circonflex accent mark over the second "o", and an accent grave over the "e" but I can't type them on this machine) is an island chain and NOT a continent (that's a Faerunian mainlander's mistake), that the northwesternmost "Unknown Lands" should be "Aurune," and that the "Utter South" should be "Umbrar" (its proper name).

Markustay, Ed tells me that little outlier of the Thaedanth Range are collectively known as "the Shraaeve" (which means "Skyfangs" in a local dialect).

Sage, Ed tells me three months is too little; almost seven months before Chapter 17 is the right reply to give you.

love to all,


On 18 June, 2009 THO said:- Hi again, all. Yes, Markustay, your assumption re Aurune being the larger isle (as you placed it on your revised map) is correct. More geographical nomenclature from Ed when he gets time; he's looking with some trepidation at the huge backlog of questions first, and not forgetting he owes some Thunderstone and some Cormyrean villainous families lore, high up in priority.
Sigh. His dread work ne'er done . . .


On 20 June, 2009 THO said:- Heh. He's done more than that; he's going to buying extra copies (beyond the one he ordered already for himself, because he didn't want to wait) at GenCon, to give out to some novice gamers who are starting campaigns, that he's "behind-the-scenes coaching." As in, they drop by the library and chat with Ed about possible subplots and "what to do nows," over coffee. Ed thinks THE GREAT BEYOND is one great way to handle the planes (the other is to minimize the role of all planes except alternate Prime Materials, do the "many gates controlled by shadowy power groups" thing, and keep things mucho mysterious).
So: good on ya, Shemmy! Write some sequels, if Paizo will let you!


On 21 June, 2009 THO said:- Hi again, all.
Menelvagor, good luck with your final!
As for history in the Realms, the common folk know a LOT about it, but each individual will have some gaps in what they do know, and know less and less about current, up-to-date everyday events in far-distant lands.
Here's why, straight from Ed's notes:


Social life in the Heartlands of the Realms is quite similar to rural England pre-Industrial Revolution; most folk never travel far from where they live, but DO go down to the local tavern (like an English pub) of evenings. Where tales are told and re-told, growing and getting distorted in the telling as tales do everywhere (including at home, within families).
However, travelling bards and minstrels, not to mention peddlers and caravan merchants, stop at local inns as they travel, and drop by local taverns, trading tales for drinks and/or food bought for them. Peddlers and merchants tend to carry rumors and current news, and minstrels and bards tend to bring songs and jokes and history (particularly if you don't know many good jokes or your singing voice is temporarily damaged by a cold, you will resort to historical tales.
Yes, bards and minstrels distort tales in the telling, just as everyone else does, but the most senior bards try to make sure their datings and namings of kings and salient facts of "big events" match what other bards are saying; no one wants to be dismissed as a "false bard" or something of the sort. Sages and priests are the counterpoints to bards, but the common folk know that doctrine and faith colour everything a priest says, and as a result take what priests say with (our saying, not a Realms saying) a pinch of salt.
Between what sages, priests, and various bards say, commoners in a particular place can figure out for themselves quite well "the general shape of past events." A commoner might not get dates right, or try to keep them as specific as a Court scribe, but locals will agree that such-and-such an event happened "before the mill burned" or "Draesrae had triplets born all with white hair" or "lightning struck the shrine of Helm" (which serves their purposes). Common folk are very good at seeing causes and effects and consequences (at least in hindsight), and so can understand why things happened the way they did in many cases more clearly than modern real-world historians who chase pet theories or modern interpretations of other cultures long ago.


So saith Ed. Writing with his usual wise reason, some thirty years ago.


On 22 June, 2009 THO said:- Hi, all.
Markustay, there's a specific NDA in place about that area. I'll have to check with Ed to see if there's any wiggle room in it yet.
I believe that the name "The Blade Kingdoms" is Ed's, though. Just going by the timing of when we first heard it mentioned (the Kidd novel came three or four years later).
BTW, Ed is REALLY busy again, but will be sending me a lore reply later today. And I will again try to weasel some of his gnome lore out of him.


On 23 June, 2009 THO said:- Hi again, all.
As promised, I bring a reply from Ed, this time to Blueblade's query: "Dear Ed and THO, BA's question spurs me to ask a somewhat related one: if I somehow magically dropped by Ed's house some night when he had leisure time (if that ever happens!) and he has family or friends over who aren't gamers, and they want to play a game (not FRP, but a board game or card game of some sort), what does Ed most often drag out? Or is likely to suggest? Thanks! BB"
Ed replies:


I'm afraid this is going to have to be one of those "it depends" answers. As in: it depends on the family or friends (age, interests, attention span, et al).
It might be some simple card games like WATER WORKS or (for young ladies) HORSE SHOW, or classics like SCRABBLE or CHESS, or fun games like ELEFANT HUNT or SNIT'S REVENGE or AWFUL GREEN THINGS FROM OUTER SPACE or LORD OF THE FRIES, or gamers' classics like DIPLOMACY or KINGMAKER or OGRE or the original release of ARKHAM HORROR...or it might be a variant like "Spy" (played with a CLUE boardgame). In short, just about anything fairly fun, simple, fast-playing, and visual (as in: the board is the centre of attention, so non-gamers can be helped to "see" what's going on. Even good old games like PIRATE & TRAVELLER, or SPI classics like WINTER WAR, have seen yeoman service; ask anyone who visits my cottage what sort of game library is sitting there, and you'll get the idea. I also like wacky games like EXPLODING COWS and THE ENEMY CHOCOLATIER, and "builder" games like RAIL BARON. I even like flawed designs like DIVINE RIGHT, because I don't care who wins; it's having fun playing that matters. Some of my friends even like to play solitaire tactical games like BATTLE OF BRITAIN (the West End Games game of this title), with the rest of us occasionally stepping in to do a "blind" German move (not looking at the player's resources and position when we make it). MILLES BORNE, even Crokinole, GLOOM, many of the Cheapass Games releases . . . oh, we might pull out almost anything.


So saith Ed. And it's true, too. Just don't expect Ed to remember all the rules or play aggressively to win. He just likes to play. At chess, I've seen him lose to young kids but beat grandmasters.
love to all,


Hello again, all.
Markustay, Ed says: Not much wiggle room at all, no. However, if you're coming to GenCon, let's find each other - - and talk.

Zandilar, great question, and off to Ed it goes. In the home Realms campaign we've met quite a few wizards who've enhanced their senses (smell, hearing, or expanded "wild talents" like detect magic or detect life in a limited range around them) so as to earn mundane (i.e. non-adventuring) livings. Wizards who can identify spices and their intensity/quality by smell, identify molds, that sort of thing; they "hire out" in large cities earning small but steady daily sums identifying and grading wares, for fees.


On 24 June, 2009 THO said:- Hi again, all.
This time I bring a swift reply from Ed to Uzzy, about being a librarian:


Hoo, boy. Uzzy, first off, I'm only superficially familiar (from touring libraries as a visitor and from some short 'shop talk' chats at cons, sometimes with people who were less than sober) with library service outside North America (I can only share HINTS re the UK, Sweden, Australia, and Germany). I'm quite familiar with libraries in Ontario, Canada (from a 34-year-and-counting career as a page, security guard, public service clerk, "unfrocked librarian" [the job title but not the degree; something that's actually quite common in small rural libraries where they can't pay for "real" librarians], library board member, and chair of a small rural library board) and somewhat familiar (as a sometime keynote speaker and guest author at the annual "big conventions" of OLA, CLA, and ALA (twice; these being, respectively: Ontario Library association annual conference, Canadian Library Association annual conference, and American Library Association a.c.).
So, here we go...
Library careers, except in upper management in large cities, are generally NOT well paid. If unionized, they can have good to decent benefits, but if you're looking to get rich, library work is probably not the field for you.
(On the other hand, it's generally indoors, and doesn't involve digging graves or ditches. Usually.)
Library work CAN be incredibly rewarding, if you genuinely love helping people (problem solving, connecting people to information they need, sharing favourite authors, mounting library programs, etc.). It can also require the patience of Job, particularly in large libraries where entrenched bureaucracies have developed; small-minded, vindictive, and even afflicted with Alzheimer's senior staffers can make your working life hell. Again, in some situations. Patience, accepting people as they are (and not as you'd like them to be, even just to qualify as "people"), and more patience are very useful job skills. One more thing: much of library work is routine, so if boredom is a problem for you - - again, another field might be preferable. For anyone creative who can mull over game design or fiction writing in the back of their head WITHOUT fellow staffers figuring out what you're doing, boredom usually won't be a problem - - but there have been more than a few library staffers who have found themselves fired or threatened or punished in various ways by vindictive superiors who discovered said staffers were also authors or game designers, and had the temerity to publish whilst employed by the library (there have even been library systems who have sued authors on the grounds that what they published while employed by the library belonged to the library - - or that the library should have creative control over what they published, to "maintain the library's image" or some such). On the other hand, some libraries are DELIGHTED to discover they have authors/creatives on staff, and regard it as a feather in their collective caps. I'm just putting the warning in your lap so you're aware of it before deciding.
Libraries differ greatly from place to place in what they do, and what their staff does. I have encountered a very high percentage of bad or incompetent managers in libraries (and in school boards and civil service jobs) because there doesn't seem to be the same pressure to improve such people or get rid of them (as compared to private corporations). On the other hand, I have encountered some of the nicest, most loyal, friendly, and intelligent and learned without being "lordly" about it people working in libraries, from student pages right up to chief librarians (or CEOs, or Directors, or whatever the local title is). Some of the nit-picking, "I don't think you put the semicolon in quite the right place in that catalogue record, dear" stuff involved in many library jobs evolves BECAUSE the rest of the job is so stable, well performed, and meeting service needs. In some inner city libraries, the "books on dusty old shelves" part of the job has almost entirely given way to an "Internet cafe with teens hanging out, drug deals going down, knives being pulled, cops being called AGAIN" atmosphere.
Again, things vary from place to place, and any job is as enjoyable as you work hard at making it - - and your co-workers work hard at making it for you and for them and for the public you serve.
There are also private, corporate, and school libraries, which are different yet again. I love library work, but it's not for everyone.
And always remember what Spider Robinson said: "Don't ever piss a librarian off: they CONTROL INFORMATION." :}


So saith Ed. Who can say more if others are interested or if you have more specific questions, Uzzy; just hurl 'em our way, okay?


On 25 June, 2009 THO said:- Hi again, all. I bring thee this time the words of Ed of the Greenwood in response to this, from Sage of Stars: ". . .Ed at that very same lunch made mention of three Realms novels he started, long ago, but never finished. Would he be willing to tell us where and when they were set, and who the protagonists were? Pleeeease?"
Ed replies:


Of course I'm willing. :} (Pause for obligatory THO double entendre.) Just so long as everyone understands these are fragmentary, unfinished, rather clumsy juvenalia; attempts at storytelling better left buried rather than "ready to go" novels that someone should rush into print, okay?

The first novel was to be a tale of Mirt getting deeper and deeper into mercantile scrapes with a hitherto-unknown-to-him cabal of sinister merchants, and Durnan finally going to his rescue. Waterdeep and Sword Coast dagger-in-alley intrigue.

The second novel was to be a Saint-style (the Leslie Charteris flippant rogue character, not a religious title) "rebel Waterdhavian noble" getting into lots of trouble amongst guilds, fellow nobles, and corrupt Palace courtiers, in Waterdeep.

The third novel was to be a young librarian lass in Neverwinter figuring out the hiding-place of long-hidden treasure by idly puzzling out what's in a particular book in the library she works in, almost getting murdered, and fleeing Neverwinter with some unlikely Mutt-and-Jeff style mercenaries (a smart-mouthed thief and a lumbering warrior, the originals of Craer and Hawkril in my Aglirta books) as opportunistic protectors. They go to Silverymoon, where the treasure is said to be hidden, and plunge headlong into some REAL intrigues (sinister elves, half-elves, and jaded/sophisticated upper crust spellcasters galore) there, becoming a truly-loyal-to-each-other team as the book progresses.

Those are tales I'll probably never write, now. On the other hand, you could bombard Wizards with demands for them, and perhaps, just perhaps . . . probably set more than a century after they were originally intended to be set . . .


So saith Ed. Who's probably kidding when he talks about bombarding Wizards. No, REALLY.
love to all,


On 26 June, 2009 THO said:- Hi again, everyone.
This time I bring the words of Ed in response to this query from gomez: "Talking about strong women: excepting some specific groups or cultures, the Realms are less gender-biased, right? Does that mean the boss of a crime syndicate, the hired mercenary, or the bully thug has equal chance of being male or female?
I am particularly interested in the gender 'demographics' of such type of groups in areas such as Cormyr, the Dragoncoast, and the Dalelands."
Ed replies:

Hi, gomez. Well, most bully thugs tend to be male just because there are more large, lumbering, upper-body-strong males than females (due to mothers feeding their children more and better food than they themselves eat, and girl children often marrying young and turning into more relatively-underfed mothers), but the boss of a gang of thugs is just as likely to be female as male (chief qualification being so smart and swift-witted that the other thugs respect you and believe your brains will net them better lives than if they operated alone), but for most other professions, there IS almost no gender bias. In my version of the Realms, anyway. Again, most female mercenaries specialize in thrown knives, hand crossbows, darts, or bows of various sorts, and javelins or spears, rather than "hack toe to toe" weapons - - but that doesn't make them any less effective as mercenaries.
There will be a few women in positions of power who ARE very beautiful, and trade on this - - just as there are handsome men who trade on their looks, too. Several crime bosses in Tethyr are beautiful and cling to a naive, innocent, "sweet" act, garb, and looks - - until the time comes for them to reveal their true selves (usually swiftly and bloodily).
And yes, if you read my Realms novels, you'll find quite a few instances of women who aren't physically stunning (though some of these know quite well how to be attractive, by force of personality or flirtatiousness or other wiles, when it suits them to be). Meaning: a DM running an adventure (or a designer crafting one) can by all means use the female foe of PCs who acts demure or weak or in need of their protection until the best moment arrives to turn on the PCs. In the Realms, women may be inexperienced or misinformed, but they are NOT stupid.
The published Realms, particularly in its art, has tended to focus on the stereotypical scantily-clad female who's either a femme fatale or a submissive "on display" female, but that's not the Realms you'll encounter in my play sessions.
As the gruff veteran Purple Dragon advice hath it: "If you're captured, lad, DON'T let them give you to the women." :}


So saith Ed. Who believes this in life as well as in the Realms, folks. He loves to flirt, but he considers it flirting with EQUALS, and not toying with a succession of easily-fooled women who will become conquests. Trust me; I've known Ed for some forty years now.


On 27 June, 2009 THO said:- Hello again, all. Ed has family visiting again, and is hampered in his online time (and Realms-attention time, too!) hereby, but has managed to produce lore in response to a promise I made in the Realms Challenge thread.
The Simbul (our scribe here at the Keep by that name, that is) posed an excellent multi-part question in challenge to fellow scribes; that of naming the apprentices of The Simbul (the in-the-Realms character of that name, Ed's creation). It was answered, largely by Fillow and George Krashos, and the challenges have moved on.
However, I promised The Simbul (the scribe) that I would provide the list of apprentices I had in my player's notes, drawn from Ed's handouts, comments, and my remembrances of play sessions, if Ed gave me permission to do so.
Well, Ed went one better, as usual. He checked his NDAs and then passed along a longer list of his own - - and here it is.

According to Ed’s notes, an incomplete list of The Simbul’s DIRECT apprentices down the years (that is, individuals she trained personally, on more than an one-incident or single task basis; she instructed many, many groups of mages on spell-work for specific battles) is as given hereafter. Note that these are the “callings” used by individuals when actually apprenticed to The Simbul, not necessary their real, entire, or best-known names.


Alaeya Summerstar
Alueeme Saryn (“The Masked One”)
Bowmyn Starbridge
Braskelo Moonweather
Brenna Graycloak
Callond Mornbright
Daerovyn Bracegaunt
Emraryl Silver
Evenyl Tharnian (Evenyl Nathtalond)
Filaerra Firehorn
Gelroar Sparpyke
Haerla Glasryn
Hondrar Silver
Indrin Melpretarr
Ismur Isyioanthan (“Isyio of Teziir”)
Jasma Palondorn
Jelarra Haelhart
Kethrae Alantrorra
Labranth Harpell
Luin Alamanther
Lyran Duskwood
“Mandrar” (Manshoon clone)
Melué Helmantle
Nalandra Ravendown
Ohland Grethgar
Omrae Manannthor
Phaeldara Mrallow
Phendelopé Dracostrond
Roryn Ostil
Soebraya Tarntarth
Thorneira Thalance
Trestar Zhelankho
Veldarra Maerynd
Vorn Halakrand
Yarrana Tambranthur


(And there are more, but some are still NDA’d and others tied to possible future projects by other creators whose hands Ed doesn’t want to tie by mentioning anything as of yet.)
Just the names thus far, but if you wheedle Ed with sufficient vigor . . .
love to all,


On 28 June, 2009 THO said:- Hi again, all.
A passing note re. the 35th Annual ORIGINS Awards: the FRCG lost out, but Devil’s Due, Jim Lowder, et al won for WORLDS OF DUNGEONS & DRAGONS 2 (which included “Elminster At the MageFair”).
George, I quite agree the conflicts and fuzzinesses re. El and The simbul’s early encounters need to be cleared up, and have forwarded your post to Ed - - but I have to stress that most of the NDAs Ed is stickhandling around directly concern The Simbul’s activities (rather than most of her apprentices), and it may take a little while for Ed to literally negotiate his way through them (he and Lynn are friends, and he doesn’t think she’ll be doing another Realms novel soon, and “elbow room” for her to do so are linked to some of the NDAs, but since the advent of Hasbro, simple “gentlemens’ agreements” [ladies included or not] are no longer so simple).
However, I can go through the list again and give a LITTLE more information, in the way of gender (aside from my speculations, not race, yet, although most of them are going to be human or half-elven):

Alaeya Summerstar: f
Alueeme Saryn (“The Masked One”): f
Bowmyn Starbridge: m
Braskelo Moonweather: m
Brenna Graycloak: f
Callond Mornbright: m
Daerovyn Bracegaunt: m
Emraryl Silver: f
Evenyl Tharnian (Evenyl Nathtalond): f
Filaerra Firehorn: f
Gelroar Sparpyke: m [this guy may be a half-orc or something exotic, because of the way he was spoken of by the NPC we Knights met, who mentioned him]
Haerla Glasryn: f [she may be exotic, too; cambion? Alu-fiend? Some sort of lower-planar/human crossbreed?]
Hondrar Silver: m
Indrin Melpretarr: m
Ismur Isyioanthan (“Isyio of Teziir”): m
Jasma Palondorn: f
Jelarra Haelhart: f [noted as “a wild one” by NPC commentator]
Kethrae Alantrorra: f
Labranth Harpell: m
Luin Alamanther: m
Lyran Duskwood: m
“Mandrar” (Manshoon clone): m
Melué Helmantle: f
Nalandra Ravendown: f
Ohland Grethgar: m
Omrae Manannthor: f
Phaeldara Mrallow: f
Phendelopé Dracostrond: f [“a noble from somewhere; Tethyr?” was the NPC comment]
Roryn Ostil: m
Soebraya Tarntarth: f
Thorneira Thalance: f
Trestar Zhelankho: m
Veldarra Maerynd: f
Vorn Halakrand: m
Yarrana Tambranthur: f


So there’s another step in this tantalizing “slow peel and reveal” we seem to be doing. (Ahem; SUCH a foreign concept for moi!)
More when I can find out more,


On 28 June, 2009 THO said:- Hi again, all!
George, this just in, from Ed:
The story dating in ELMINSTER IN HELL is indeed in error: the "memory snippet" that was published in that novel took place in 1262 DR.
The two DID meet in 1246 DR, in a scene that was edited out of EL IN HELL for length reasons (a LOT got snipped out of that book, for those same reasons). El was posing as someone else, in a magical disguise and using another name, to work against certain Thayan mages in a subtle rather than a "I'm a Chosen, my spells defy and defeat thee, hahahaha!" manner. The Simbul (I don't know if she was using that name at the time) was also in conflict with the Thayans, and the two of them ended up as brief, temporary allies in spell-battle.
Ed doesn't have time to try to retrieve that scene right now (it's on one of several hundred backup floppy discs, the computer it was written on having crashed, Zip drive first and the Zip cartridge in it dying an inglorious death in the process), but promises me he'll unearth it eventually. And either share it here at the Keep or try to get it onto the WotC website (free part only!), or something of the sort.
I never read the scene, so I can't tell you if El recognized The Simbul as the child he'd left with the Witches, or if Mystra or Azuth was keeping the Chosen informed as to the maturing and progress of the Seven all along, or . . . anything. I AM fairly certain, from the way Ed spoke of the scene, that The Simbul didn't know who her temporary ally really was.
So the "bad date" tag left in the published EL IN HELL referred to the wrong scene: the one that got taken out, rather than the one that survived (its date tag got edited out in error).
It's things like this that start wars in our real world . . .


Hi yet AGAIN.
gomez, I THINK Breeandra was another ally and sometime working-partner of The Simbul rather than an apprentice - - but I'll ask Ed. This may be another case of "not mentioned because of NDA" (which covers, I believe, almost a dozen more characters who should be on an "Apprentices of The Simbul" list).


On 28 June, 2009 THO said:- Hi again, all.
Kuje is correct: Brenna and Breeandra are two different people. Kuje, your "hint, hint" has been sent off to Ed, who responded with a "teaser" for us all: his notes entry for the first apprentice on his long list.
Here, then, is all we know of Alaeya Summerstar (enjoy!):

Alaeya Summerstar: human female, great-aunt to the Lord Summerstar (patriarch) of Cormyr seen in Ed’s KNIGHTS OF MYTH DRANNOR trilogy. Young, impish, wayward, and gentle, light blonde hair, snub nose, “plain as a boot.” Considered “strange” (perhaps even of illegitimate birth) for having a talent for the Art, Alaeya sought out The Simbul for guidance. Of middling magical skills, Alaeya parted amicably from The Simbul, went her own way, and became a bucolic wanderer, living for short periods in many villages and wilderland steads. She never returned to Cormyr or her kin, and worked with Harpers from time to time. Last heard of on the verges of the High Forest north of Secomber, circa 1344 DR.


So saith Ed. More from him later, I hope. (To The Simbul: hope you've seen these posts. Talk about starting something . . . )


. . . And hello again, all.
Here's another Simbul's apprentice writeup Ed just sent me. This one was obviously close to hand because he'd updated it recently for 4e design use of some sort. Enjoy.

Daerovyn Bracegaunt: human male, sandy-haired, brown-eyed, restless young man of nondescript appearance and “serious, quiet-voiced, dry humour” manner. The son of Laraunder Bracegaunt, a busy glover and baldric-maker of Highmoon in Deepingdale (who sold his popular wares in Ordulin, and had all of his large, three-generation family engaged in making them - - until Laraunder and many of his family died in the plague that afflicted Scardale, while on a “set up a shop here?” visit), Daerovyn had wanderlust - - and a hunger for the Art - - from a very young age. The Zhentarim tried to recruit him as a local spy when he was very young, and when he later had contact with a traveling Harper, tried to threaten him by promising violence would be done to his family. A terrified Daerovyn fled to Yhaunn, signed on as a “copper and bread” crewman on a ramshackle freight cog helmed out of Tantras, and fled the cruelty of that life at the first port of call, in Aglarond. Came on The Simbul by chance while wandering through the realm, while she was using the guise of an aging male peddler, traveled with her for some days, fought to defend her when she was attacked by brigands - - and she took him on as an apprentice after revealing her true self in routing the brigands.
Always more comfortable as a warrior and wanderer than as a mage, though he could “feel the Weave” (detect magic, acutely discerning nature and strength, in a limited range) almost as well as a Chosen, Daerovyn became a loyal traveling envoy for The Simbul, and was still in her service when the Spellplague hit. Believed to have wed and settled somewhere in rural Aglarond, and to have had descendants.


So saith Ed. Bringing us all rich Realmslore, day by day in small but satisfying ways.

love to all,


On 29 June, 2009 THO said:- Hi again, everybody.
Good question, khorne. Off it's gone to Ed, and we'll see. In my play experience, Elminster does the "stand and take it" tactic in two situations: when he wants others to see and get wiser by seeing (the "oops, better not tangle with the old guy with the beard"), and when he's giving his attacker or a bystander time to make a moral decision or see the true nature of someone ("Will I strike this bearded old man down?" or "By Chauntea, that jack just hurled a spell at that old man! Smote him in cold blood, he did!").
However, Ed will of course have his own take on the situation.

In the meantime, I bring you Ed's swift reply to Faraer's query, being as this was something Ed has "ready notes" on. Here, therefore, are given names of the Dales, ladies first, listed alphabetically. Where variants are listed in a "comma row," they are listed in order of greater popularity before lesser. The most common names, overall, are denoted with an asterisk. Ed tells me these are current as of the 1370s; there have been some shifts in favoured nomenclature since the 1350s.
So here we go . . .

Alys *
Dellora, Delorna
Glarra *
Hestra *
Larune *, Lorune
Lyla *
Malaena *
Narra *
Ressa *, Resra
Sabrelle *
Sarindra *
Tessyn *
Velna, Velorna
Wyndra, Wyndara

Bellard, Beliard
Brace *
Deln, Delyn
Dorn *
Esmer, Esmur
Hargin, Hargrim
Harl *
Loryn *
Nindan, Nindyn
Rory *, Roryn *, Rornagar
Sandryn *
Telver *
Torst *


So saith Ed. And there you have it, Faraer and all. Useful Realmslore; clip and save! (Collect [ahem] 'em all!)


On 29 June, 2009 THO said:- bradhunter, this is something I can give you a swift answer on, by quoting my notes from Ed's comments from the time of the Avatar design discussions (not the internal TSR ones, but the gaming community ones that followed publication of the Time of Troubles/Avatar affair).
So, here's Ed, from almost two decades ago:

Kelemvor is one of the most unwilling and conflicted of the "New Gods." Although he has a fierce revulsion for undead, his hatred is reserved for "undead by choice" (such as liches). He has sympathy for haunts, apparitions, and revenants that exist because someone died without being able to finish a task, mission, or achievement that dominated their lives at the time of death, or so violently and "unfairly" that revenge or at least public identification of their slayer (as a warning to others) leaves them unable to "rest." So Kelemvor will turn a blind eye to "unfinished business" undead, but stand against those who seek to cheat death and achieve undeath thereby.

Now, that's Ed's opinion, at the time (and please note that "haunts, apparitions, and revenants" in his words refer to the 2e "monsters" of the game), but it's an opinion reached and informed by many discussions with TSR designers of the time, and their bosses, too (managers). In other words, the equivalent of Wizards designers and brass of today; those in charge of the game rules and of the unfolding metastory of the published Realms.
So I'd say Kelemvor would both allow such a "return," and not stand in the way of another deity empowering such undead, so long as that other deity wasn't using it to assemble an army of undead and try to dominate undeath (i.e. wrest portfolios or influence away from Kelemvor [[BTW, adding divine portfolios, per se, to the game was another Ed innovation, though in fuzzier form they were around in the game and real-world mythology and fantasy fiction long before Ed]].
So start playing your revenant right now . . .
I'll contact Ed with your post right away, of course, to see if he reacts with a "Whoa!" . . . but I don't expect one, and if you don't see one, Ed's long-ago words still stand.


I can't answer for Ed re. archliches, but I can confirm that the Knight of the Gate is quite correct: Ed, as DM, has during play (in response to pointed in-character questions) told us that "the elves see to their own" (meaning the human deities don't have jurisdiction over elven undead, and would ignore them; unlike bestial destructive undead, they are indeed "undead with a task/mission" and therefore not "best destroyed").
Off your posts go to Ed, of course, for his eventual responses.
love to all,


Oh, forgot to respond to Markustay's post: yes, Elminster is indeed a "do no more than is needful" spellhurler (though of course he sometimes, as in the famous fire-magic hurling scene in ELMINSTER AT THE MAGEFAIR, believes that an overkill demonstration is the best "needful" response to prevent ongoing troubles). More than once Ed has included scenes in his fiction about the true wisdom of the veteran trained archwizard being knowing when NOT to use power.
And longtime Realms designers, from Jeff Grubb onwards, will confirm that the governing design principle for Elminster in adventures is that he won't aid PCs if he need not (in other words, he won't do the adventuring thing and reduce them to spectators or sidekicks; only in the not-by-Ed scene in the Avatar modules where he's spell-dueling gods does he engage in spell battle in the presence of PCs). Ed used to portray El as a befuddled, fussy old man if PCs showed up at his Tower and tried to get him to do magics for them, or tried to bully or threaten him. Then he'd hurl a titantic, Shadowdale-shaking meteor swarm out over the meadow, chuckle and say, "Aha! Remembered it! That's fun; let's do it again!" (And he'd gleefully cast a second one, usually leaving prudent players shaking in their boots and hastily revising what they were going to have their characters try to do to him.)
love to all,


On 30 June, 2009 THO said:- No, no, gomez! "PokéBall" is what * I * do to YOU.
Realms relevance? Oh, yes ...

bradhunter, Knight of the Gate, and other interested scribes: Ed has confirmed that his view still stands: Kelemvor (and by his instruction, his clergy) ignore baelnorn. That is, they do not treat them as undead to be destroyed, and deal with them only as necessary; polite avoidance and minimal contact is best (and being as Ed is the creator of baelnorn, he's by definition the go-to expert on them).
According to Ed, archliches are regarded as undead to be aided in achieving their task/mission and then cajoled to "pass on" into true death rather than hanging around; archliches who disagree, or who have established "unfulfillable" or really long-term tasks or missions for themselves, are to be dealt with on a case-by-case basis (i.e. Kelemvor, working through his servants as proxies, wants to truly understand the motivation and natures of each individual archlich before deciding on a policy towards each particular archlich).
I grinned at that and sent Ed a "weasel, weasel, weasel" tease, and he replied:


Weasel, of course. :} Yet on the other hand: why not? Herein lies the sort of roleplaying that should be at the heart and core of every long-running D&D campaign. So long as the DM arranges it so that players, through their characters, have a chance to govern/substantially influence outcomes, rather than being reduced to spectators of the DM's acting out events.

So saith Ed. Here endeth the latest word from the Greenwood.
love to all,


khorne, yes indeed!
Both Ed and I love Terry's books, and devour them all as they appear. (Attendees at the last Toronto Worldcon may remember Terry's panel, wherein he and Ed, who shared the panel podium with him, got along just fine.)
Knowing when NOT to use your magic, and the folly of forgetting that prudence, is an old, old idea in fantasy literature (as in: at least as old as the knightly romances and Celtic folklore, to say nothing of the Brothers Grimm). Ed and Terry just both happen to believe it should apply to the truly wise spellhurlers in their respective fantasy worlds, and both of them have firmly put it there, by example and by narrator's comment. More than once, each.


He does. During the climactic spell-battles near the end of SPELLFIRE, the Shadows of the Avatar trilogy, and other Ed books, Ed wrote a lot of "window cutaways" that were akin to this:
Meanwhile, somewhere in Amn, an old and mighty duskwood turned a brightly glowing pink, tore itself up out of the forest loam, and shot several hundred feet into the air. Several vastly impressed vultures, squawking on nearby branches, promptly turned into green flowers.

(I'm making that one up, paraphrasing Ed rather than quoting him, but it's fairly close to the sort of passage Ed wrote.)

Unfortunately, these are the sort of touches that editors who don't "grok the Realms" sufficiently furrow their brows at, proclaim, "Huh?" - - and edit out. So the published books contain very few of them. They're always there in Ed's original manuscripts, though. Nor is this a problem confined to Ed's Realms fiction. Copy editors at other publishers have pounced on such touches with such comments as: "Doesn't directly advance the plot" and "Seems part of another book, dropped in by your word processor, perhaps?" and so on. One wonders just how anyone writing fantasy books above the level of, say, car-chase and bang-bang gets them published these days. (As an editor, hearing - - and in Ed's case, seeing with my own eyes, written on manuscripts - - such horror stories make me sick. If the editor wants to tell a story their way, they should write their own book. Of course, they'd better make sure they get to edit it, too, or they'll know just how it feels to have someone tromp all over their prose. )
love to all,


On 30 June, 2009 THO said:- Hi again, all.
Yes, Broken Helm, Ed is a Lifetime Active Member of SFWA. I'll leave it to him to comment on those pros and cons. SFWA has done some great things, and been very useful, but has also been home to many, many vicious internal feuds and bickering, down the years. I DO know that Ed ALWAYS votes in its elections and for the Nebulas, and diligently reads every work he can find that's on the ballots and candidates' platforms, too, so as to place his vote most intelligently - - which argues that he takes that part of SFWA very seriously.

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