Alaundo's Library

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

So saith Ed

(Answers from Ed Greenwood)

Jul - Sep 2005

July 1, 2005: Hello, all. As promised, Ed's back in the Realmslore chair.

This time, Ed replies to Zandilar, in the matter of the apparent dislike of clerics in Realms fiction:

Zandilar, your impression about authors not liking clerics is well-founded but mistaken. By which I mean: it's the most likely impression to gain from reading the published Realms fiction canon to date, but I don't believe it's authors disliking clerics so much as being uneasy about using clerics because of a paucity of published lore on (yes, my hobby-horse again) the daily lives of clergy within their priesthoods (creeds, taboos, rituals, dress and customs). Couple this to the fictional basic need for conflict, and one has a situation where clerics (outside of "member of the adventuring band" or "handy healer the party goes to" roles) almost always appear only in scenes of fights, confrontations, or arguments. For the same reasons of drama and accentuating heroism, fiction writers often avoid having healing on the scene when it could help matters.

Specifically about Cormyr: I wrote most of the DotD scenes you refer to, and Garen Thal has (as usual) hit the nail squarely on its head in his reply to you: the Purple Dragons and the War Wizards have long-standing resentments regarding the most powerful clergy of Cormyr "showing up grandly at the last minute to do the bare minimum, with a lot of public show" rather than toiling daily to help the faithful. Note that this anger and contempt is NOT held towards low-ranking priests who dwell as part of the community in villages and towns, and DO work long, hard, dedicated hours; it just seems that in recent times Cormyr, with its freedoms and (relatively) "easy" life (in urban areas, during peacetime) has developed or attracted a crop of lazy, vain, self-aggrandizing and too-often-useless or out of touch exalted-ranks clergy.

Troy plotted DotD (I was waiting for heart surgery at the time, and rushing to complete some outstanding Realms game product projects), and to make the plot as he wrote it (with all the royal family heroics) work, Cormyr's powerful clerics had to NOT step in and meddle (or mobilize their clergy to do so) as the Obarskyrs rush to their various dooms - - and to have that inaction happen, I had to portray the highest priests of the realm as I did.

To put it another way: to give just one of the heads of the major local priesthoods a personality as heroic as Azoun would inevitably have led to at least that one church mobilizing for all-out war on the ghazneths, about as soon as it was realized that more than one existed. Considering the powers of the ghazneths, the clergy of Mystra and Azuth would almost have to consider them prime dangers to be obliberated at all costs, regardless of what happened to the Obarskyrs or to Cormyr. Yet there's no sign of such a reaction in BEYOND THE HIGH ROAD, so my job, swinging into the saddle to ride with Troy in DEATH OF THE DRAGON, is to make sure there's a plausible "in the Realms" reason for that.

Garen Thal's reply is also spot-on concerning the worship of Malar and other "evil" gods in Cormyr. I'll leave your questions about Darmos Lauthyr and Eilistraee for another time, but regarding souls: Yes, souls (for those races having them) ARE "made when the child is first conceived with no divine 'intervention/interference' at all." It can't be otherwise, in a situation where divine power is related to number of worshippers, or the deity with the assigning-souls portfolio would be the ONLY deity.

Kuje is right: TSR has never stated this, for the very reasons espoused by The Sage in his post: that most people prefer this be left mysterious (for personal religious reasons or otherwise; TSR of course wanted to avoid low sales/social backlash from established churches, invited for something that in most campaigns really has very little gameplay importance).

So saith Ed.

Thus renewed, we can all face his next Realmslore reply.

love to all,


On July 1, 2005 THO said: Krash, Ed wrote that tale to 'nail down' Lhaeo's character. He did this for all important Realms NPCs ("important" really meaning those we Knights had lots of contact with, not necessarily rulers or heads of priesthoods), usually with a "coming of age" story. I guess he chose this encounter instead because it's when he brought Lhaeo onstage, in his own mind. However, I shouldn't presume to speak for him in this, and will ask him (as soon as he's handed in the late project he and a certain aficionado of castles are currently toiling away on).

In the meantime, have this hug and kiss from me.

VEDSICA, glad you liked it, and I'll send your reactions along to Ed right away.



July 2, 2005: Hello again, scribes of Realmslore! I present Ed's answer to RevJest: "what did El say to Storm to get her to calm down?" in the matter of the Harper Schism ("Sources in Twilight Hall confirm that Storm, formerly screaming in outrage over Khelben's actions, seems calmer after a brief chat with Elminster."), which is as follows:

I'll have to be vague on this, thanks to [NDA], but in general, Storm was furious that Khelben was AGAIN behaving so autocratically, after he'd previously and privately personally promised (whoa: entirely accidental alliteration, I assure you) his fellow Chosen not to (over a matter that's DEFINITELY NDA-cloaked).

El calmed her down in three ways: he first took on Khelben's shape and appeared to her in that guise, letting her blow off steam by verbally and physically assaulting him, taking the punishment she dished out until she "wound down;" then he revealed his ruse and calmed her anger at HIM for doing it by saying that both he and Khelben were in some part acting as Azuth and Mystra had counseled them to (long-term mysterious Grand Plan maneuverings); and then he mollified her by saying that this was going to backfire in Khelben's face, this time, and he was going to "get his" in fairly short order, earning himself far more frustration than he'd have suffered if he'd continued to play ball with the Harpers rather than insisting on assuming the Lone Brilliant Tyrant Beset By Fools role once more time.

And of course the most irritating thing about Elminster is that he's so often right.

So saith Ed.

And there you have it. As revealed as it's going to be, for now.

love to all,


On July 2, 2005 THO said: Hello, all scribes! I've just noticed that WotC has FINALLY posted Ed's 2004 Spin A Yarn story, "The Night Tymora Sneezed," on their website, in two parts. Don't miss it - - it's GOOD. Also, Ed tells me "Far Too Many Thieves" isn't the only other fiction snippet they'll be presenting!



On July 2, 2005 THO said: Well said, Wanderer - - VERY well said! That's exactly what the book feels like (and it's also the sort of cover that should have been on the book: a warmly candlelit tavern-table scene, with Elminster, Storm, and the Simbul animatedly telling tales amid an entranced crowd of weird-looking drinkers of the Realms!

I'll send your comment and thanks on to Ed.



July 3, 2005: Hello, fellow scribes. I bring you Ed of the Greenwood's reasoned Realmslore reply to KnightErrantJR, in the matter of: "Facial hair... how is it regarded in the Heartlands. Do nobles tend to shave, or do they have moustaches only, or is there no particular preferance. My question would apply mainly to Waterdeep, the Heartland Independant Cities, Cormyr, Sembia, and the Dalelands, as I realize that other regions are more influenced, in the current Realms, but similarities to more familiar cultures."

Ed speaks:

In all of the places you specifically list, there's no particular societal preference. Nobles are more likely to have styled, perfumed, and complicated-cut hair (razorpoint sideburns for the men) than commoners because they can afford the time and someone else's trouble to get their hair that way, and there's a general prejudice against food preparers being unkempt (long hair, facial stubble), as well as a view by many elder nobles that younger nobles look foolish with stubble or hairstyles that don't suit them. Most noblemen have at least moustaches, and often what we would call a Van Dyke (a "chinblade" in the Realms), or a neat, close-cropped fringe beard running along the line of the chin and jaw. Most women, yes, would be embarrassed by heavy facial or nipple hair, and would shave it off or (preferably) pluck it. Commoners tend to clip when things get caught or in the way, but generally use their time for other things. Male hair tends to be shoulder-length when young, shorter when older, but modified by practicality (the need to wear a helm, for example) - - but seldom by order (a file of uniformed Purple Dragons will sport all varieties of hair length and facial hair, not anything "regimented" except that long, wispy beards will soon be burned or cut off by their fellows, in pranks, and will therefore be absent).

Sembia and Amn are the only places where fashions take strong root, and "everyone" adopts (or, in a defiant minority, refuses to adopt) a hairstyle of the day. As the frequent travel within these two lands hasn't yet conquered the individuality that prosperity brings, fashions DON'T mean that you won't see a wide variety of hairdos and facial hair in a street. Being out of fashion might lead to scorn among friends or a small closed social circle of rivals - - but not general scorn, because fashion doesn't carry that weight (yet).

So saith Ed.

Hmm, think I'll have my nipples styled right away...

love to all,


July 4, 2005: Hi, all. David, I'll try to rattle Ed's cage re. Shieldmeet.

Back on May 16th of this year, Kajehase commented: "Was it just me who got a sudden "I-want-to-read-a-lot-more-about-young-Alusair" feeling after that post?"

A response from Ed has just popped into my inbox:

Hi, Kajehase! You shouldn't miss a few short but crucial scenes in my first Knights of Myth Drannor novel (tentatively titled SWORDS OF EVENINGSTAR), then. It's due out next year.

If they don't go away in the editing, that is. Ah, I'm having fun with these Knights books!

So saith Ed.

His last comment leaves me wriggling in glee (imparting a juicy mental picture to some loyal scribes here, I'm sure).

love to all,

P.S. For a VERY insightful look at the Alusair of right now, check out "The Long Road Home," the last story in THE BEST OF THE REALMS II: THE STORIES OF ED GREENWOOD, just released as a mass market paperback by WotC. Yes, this is an unabashed plug. And yes, it's that essential as Realmslore.


July 5, 2005: Hello again, fellow scribes. Right you are, David: I shall plug shamelessly away, when the time comes. Ed tells me there was a full-size poster of the CofS cover in the WotC booth at ALA, and for his signings he was seated across from it (so when he wasn't staring at pretty girls, he was drinking it in). Ahem. Now, Ed makes reply to Si and to Zandilar:

Hi. Zandilar, Si is quite right in posting: "On the matter of there being no doubt a child was Alusair's, in a world that contains powerful shapeshifters and similar magic I'd say that anyone who wants to rabble rouse can always cast doubt, provided they're willing to risk Alusair finding out about their calumny."

Si, in response to your question about blood tracing magic: old time TSR staffers can tell you just how many of my draft version spells, spell ink formulae, and magical rituals and processes used blood. They had to edit almost all of those mentions out of existence (Beltyn's Burning Blood being a notable exception) because someone in TSR senior management decided - - probably rightly - - that this was precisely the sort of stuff that would get the company and the game in real lawsuit trouble, especially in the Bible Belt. (Most of my writings specified the caster's own blood, which might have cut down on murders, mutilations other than self-mutliations, and pets being butchered, but someone who harmed themselves still has kin who can sue.)

Specifically to address blood tracing: years and years ago, I 'sat in on' a TSR design meeting where it was decided that the Realms in general wasn't going to yet "know about" DNA or genetics beyond the barnyard breeding level. Game and fiction products since then can advance the timeline and progress with it, but many of the Books Department staffers of the time (now no longer with the company) were very leery of having crime-solving DNA techniques coupled with the existing magic system; most of them were of the opinion that it really left "nowhere to hide" and would ruin most murder-mystery novel plots, making that genre unusable not just for the Realms, but inevitably (with 'idea creep') all the other D&D world-settings (at that time, of course, only available from TSR) as well.

So we turned away from such ideas, and ran. :}

As for the inability of Highknights to do skulk-and-dagger: for the real spying, stalking, impersonating, acting so as to mislead enemy spies, and eavesdropping: all of the Obarskyrs except the infant Azoun V (AND Vangey - - and THERE's a tale that'll have to be told someday!) have or had small private networks of personal spies, from old men to small boys and girls to accomplished sneak-thieves, to do the REAL spying. Some of them are also Harpers (and their Obarskyr patrons may be unaware of this), but not all of them.

One topic not yet explored in Realms fiction or lore (I'm getting to it, one way or another) is what's now become of the spy networks of Azoun IV, Tanalasta, and Vangey. Are any of them freelancing for new patrons? Trying to take service with Caladnei???

Which brings me to your last question. Alusair has two intelligence services: the bumbling, overt group she's recruited from the ranks of "her blades" (to make these young nobles feel important, please their families, and provide an unwitting distraction and screen for nobles and others trying to see what the spies they know she has are really up to), and the spies who've worked for her for years, from lovers who serve only her to trusted 'loyal to the realm' Highknights like Glarasteer Rhauligan. I know she's trying to subvert some alarphons to reporting to her, and trying to become a close friend to Laspeera, to both better run the realm as Regent, and to "get some sort of handle" on the War Wizards.

I'd love to say more, but (as you surmised) that rising thunder is the sound of a swiftly-rolling-down-upon-me NDA! :}

So saith Ed.

Interesting. (Drawls:) Very interesting.



July 6, 2005: Hello, all. A little bit of a "catch table" (the Realms term for buffet or smorgasbord) of replies and comments this time around.

Asgetrion, you're very welcome. Me as Lhaeo: hmmm, kinky.

Ed also says you're welcome, and is glad you liked HAND OF FIRE. (So many readers rushed to tell Ed how terrible it was because they wanted a happy ending, that a lot of them seem to have missed the caravan lore.) I know you'll love ELMINSTER'S DAUGHTER. Don't miss the BEST OF THE REALMS II: THE STORIES OF ED GREENWOOD collection (it has its own thread in the Novels room, here at Candlekeep)!

Rocheval, there's no way Ed COULD reveal the "next great evil" to be "visited upon the Realms," even if he wanted to. There are such things as NDAs, and also ruining the anticipation (I hesitate to use the word "fun" here) of most Realms fans. It's like watching a soap opera and knowing beforehand in detail what's going to happen to everyone. (Yes, I know people go to see the same Shakespeare plays over and over, and ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW, too, but they do so for different reasons.)

Ed's name is: "Ed Greenwood" (check out the Walk of Fame and you'll see that many of the stars thereon appear under their everyday [abbreviated] names or even their false [stage] names). Not that Ed seeks, wants, or thinks he deserves any such acclaim.

As for your Sudbury question, to answer it Ed needs to know this: when you say "equivalent," do you mean a hard-rock mining town surrounded by generations of slag-heap devastation but becoming a rejuvenated city? Or do you mean the hard-drinking small-town flavour evoked by Stompin' Tom in that classic song?

Dargoth and Ty, Ed would love to say more about "issues of trial, innocence, and the various court systems" across the Realms, but lacks all time and opportunity for the moment. He does, however, tell me that his forthcoming Crimmor city article in DRAGON will provide another (brief) example of local jurisprudence, and that he and another well-known Realms scholar are hard at work on a future publication that will deal with such matters in somewhat greater detail, but that he can't identify said publication or say any more about it because of the usual proudly-fluttering NDA banner firmly affixed to it.

And so the Bearded Creator waves farewell for another day, and turns back to the eerily-flickering light of the faithful Mac (one of five that nestle closely around him in the dark cellar where Realmslore is hatched; another six or seven rest in its nether darknesses) to spin more Realmslore for us all.

Speaking of whom: love to all,


On July 6, 2005 THO said: Ah, I understand. "The thinking man's" is a late 1950s, early 1960s phrase that meant "thoughtful, thinks ahead, considers consequences." It never meant that someone or something that WASN'T "the thinking man's" was stupid or idiotic. It didn't mean that they didn't think, only that they didn't habitually think several steps ahead AND FOLLOW the results of that thinking.

There are some people who play chess for fun, never thinking many moves ahead. Others try to "work through" thirty or forty moves into the future (the "thinking man's" approach). So Ed wasn't saying Conan was a slow-witted brute.


On July 6, 2005 THO said: Hello, all. SirUrza, THE FARTHEST REACH hasn't (ahem) yet "reached" the beknighted backwaters that Ed or I currently inhabit, and Ed has only read the book as a giant Word .doc file (as he and Rich Baker discussed its lore), so we're not entirely certain which paragraph you're referring to.

If the text you cite has a Sister speaking of the Knights and a Sister or two being 'absent' on some mysterious mission, it gives us all a little hint as to what Ed's REALMS OF THE ELVES novella will be about, not the Knights trilogy (which begins a few decades back, Realms time, when the Knights are about to first become a band of adventurers, the "Swords of Eveningstar").

However, well spotted, sir!

Ed originally suggested that passage to Rich Baker as a way of conveniently keeping certain Realms-fixture characters out of the wonderful story Rich is telling, and Ed and Realms fiction Managing Editor Phil Athans hit upon the idea of using it as the setup for Ed's story in the ELVES anthology. Just another example of the way Realms creators scheme, and scuttle from one subtle touch to the next, to weave a richer unfolding tapestry for us all...

love to all,


July 7, 2005: Hello, all. Lots this time.

First: Melfius, help with your Waterdeep questions. As some posters have mentioned, Virgin's Square is the place to "hang out to be hired" for mercenaries (One-Eye is the man to see if you want to communicate specific skills or wants).

Now, here's Ed:

Waterdeep as a city only hires adventures in specific wartime situations (usually to operate far from the city in an "ependable spoiler" role, not inside Waterdeep where they could do damage if they proved to be traitors or double agents). Individual lords (notably Mirt) tend to charter or hire adventuring companies "on their own"(pretending to do it for personal reasons rather than representing the city). Mirt can often do this to settle moneylending debts, not hinting at his widely-"known" status as a Lord at all.

Various Dock Ward taverns and dives are 'the' places to get hired for shady adventuring tasks rather than just escort and bodyguard work, although many nobles don't dare go there, and instead visit certain South Ward and Castle Ward establishments in hopes of hiring agents (be warned: nobles like to be ready to frame and therefore remove or discredit those who work for them, if things go REALLY wrong, and may hire backup groups to "watch their dupes at work"). Certain Dock Ward brothels (you'll see one in CITY OF SPLENDORS, when it's released in August) are 'good' spots to meet and make such arrangements, because they tend to have better security (safety for the noble) and privacy than taverns.

Many taverns and inns like to claim they welcome adventurers (for the 'publicity spice'), but most are in Dock Ward. The Inn of the Dripping Dagger in Castle Ward is one exception. As for want-ad listings: postings in Virgin's Square, and otherwise it's "buy a broadsheet on the street" time (see my archived Realmslore columns on the WotC website: the Broadcryers of Waterdeep series). The main source should be tavern chatter (news and rumors travel Waterdeep south of the Castle like gale-force winds), but of course a good DM should make sure that this is full of exaggerations, wild inaccuracies, and 'old leads' that other rival adventuring bands have already taken up.

So saith Ed.

Who at the moment is deep in planning the future of the Realms for us all, he tells me. He promises to swiftly get to Shieldmeet details, notes that horse breeds have already been covered here at Candlekeep (but will get back to you re. stirrups, etc - - and yes, the Uthgardt don't use them), and appends this re. Scytax Killbane's slaving query:

There has always been a thriving slaving business in Sembia, Westgate, and Marsember (I've personally worked at least a dozen references to it into various FR releases, down the years; whenever you read about noble "kidnappings," that's what's going on), but by the very nature of the business as practiced in that part of the Realms, there aren't named, high-profile "slaving groups."

Instead, it's always a few individuals doing snatch-and-grab jobs and fetching captives (often drugged to keep them silent, eating and drinking little, and not trying to escape) to a hiding-place they control, from which they can readily be transferred aboard the ship of a captain who's covertly dealing in slaves (an important source of income for some Sea of Fallen Stars pirates). There aren't a lot of shipcaptains involved, per se, but there ARE a lot of little slaving cabals (of a dozen people at most, and half of those are usually guards and "heave the drugged bodies" muscle, with six at most being the active snatchers and thinkers). Many of them can (if someone starts to hunt or hound them) call on the occasional assistance of evil wizards and priests in return for bodies to experiment on or use in rituals. So that's why you "haven't heard mention" of power groups operating: they're very small, secretive, informal gangs. And yes, they are hated and feared. Folk in Marsember tend to be blasé about them, and Sembians even know and accept that hiring someone to have a rival or fellow heir or creditor "removed" is a daily business option, if one dares to go asking and hiring - - but Dalefolk will attack suspected slavers on sight.

So saith Ed.

A bumper crop of replies from a VERY overloaded (at the moment) but still cheerful Realms Creator. Who will return to give more as soon as he can - - and adds:

Yes, I've read my Conan, and still enjoy the tales. As BB and THO have explained, I wasn't disparaging the Cimmerian; I was contrasting his "go into the fray regardless" character with Durnan's "think three times about long term consequences" approach.

Oh, and an unrelated matter: in the Spin A Yarn tale currently being posted on the WotC website, there are a number of tiny editing glitches that make me once again fervently wish that certain WotC staffers would refrain from just turning on their spellcheck features and turning off their editorial brains. Most of these are just passing annoyances, but I DO want all readers to know that Tymora's sneeze didn't cause Waterdhavian matrons to run screaming from their "robbing" chambers, but rather from their "robing" chambers.

One more matter: SirUrza, the matter referenced in FARTHEST REACH has nothing to do with the Knights trilogy, which is set in the past. However, rest assured that although Elminster WILL appear in those books, I have no intention of letting him dominate; it's not his story.

So there.

love to all,


On July 7, 2005 THO said: Ed did comment to me that he kept the Lures VERY basic and simple. In the "home" Realms campaign, of course, any such touches would be layered several subplots deep, so the illusion of "real life busily unfolding" will be very good and so we PCs literally have a dozen ready choices of things to pursue (or ignore) at any time. Then the DM can combine, shift, and twist these to respond to any the PCs DO chase after. Great fun.



July 8, 2005: Hello, all. Jamallo, well said: Ed agrees.

And he does something else, too: he quickly answers Alisttair's rainbows query:

Yes, rainbows in the Realms do differ from those of our real world, but only VERY slightly. Essentially you can think of them as the same (same spectra bands, same conditions for their appearance, et cetera). The presence of the Shards and the slightly different Torilian lunar situation make rainbows in the Realms shine much more brightly and persist in visibility longer than they do in our real world, with a longer "pink and purple" fadeout as they do dwindle.

So saith Ed.

Short but sweet, and more Realmslore on the morrow!



July 9, 2005: Hello, all. Kuje, Ed wants you to know that although most of the "newer" TSR employees (and Rich was one of those) and of course all later WotC employees aren't privy to the precise details of the Realms purchase agreement, and operate on the basis of whatever they've been told it is, everything has since been quietly and privately cleared up on this front. Er. Ed hopes.

However, Rich's words, that you quoted in your post, are an accurate description of how things really do generally work, on a day-to-day basis. Which is fairly practical, and of course explains why inconsistencies sometimes creep in. Back around 1990 this sort thing made Ed tear his hair out. Now everyone's more mellow, and tries to work together, and when Realmslore glitches occur, everyone tries to smooth it over.

Now, to Si and Bendal, Ed makes reply:

No, there's no general salvage law in the Realms. (The word "salvage" exists, as "gleanings from wrecks," but in general, if you find and pick up something, it's yours. If you can hold it against someone trying to take it away from you, of course.)

In most Underdark, tomb, and dungeon areas, of course, "finders keepers" prevails.

As roleplaying, Abbathor's reaction in the Yawning Portal is just fine (particularly if he wasn't Waterdhavian born and bred). All of three arguments are particularly valid, his "B" point (rightful battle spoils) being particularly strong (as in: widely accepted custom across the Sword Coast North, would cause many drinkers there to nod their heads regardless of how they felt about nobles or adventurers).

However, Bendal raises a relevant issue: the strong clan (family) ties of the dwarves, analogous to the Waterdhavian noble family claim. His description of what happened feels "right" (Realmswise) to me.

Legalities aside, in both cases (nobles and dwarves) a group of individuals believe (and feel strongly) that they have a "right" to a "family" item. Disputing with them might not be wise.

In Waterdeep, the nobles DO enjoy a special status, and have legal weight on their side (though in the heart of Dock Ward, exercising that status is a bit dicey for them: they could easily get jumped by a Portal-full of angered drinkers who might well demand they go down into Undermountain and fight some monster or other to bring back to Abbathor a treasure of like or greater value, if they want the sword they didn't lift a finger to find, so much).

Lorelord George Krashos, as usual, has suggested the Realmslore-perfect response (the intermediaries, hiring of forceful agents, the Red Sashes' "enforced sale"). I'd go with that. (George's lost wallet modern real-world legal example, however, holds true in Waterdeep, Silverymoon, Cormyr, the Dales, and not many other places in the Realms: unless the owner of the wallet is a friend or relative of the local ruler, or an important local official, influential merchant, or religious leader.) I echo George's sage opinion: "You can have lots of fun here."

As the madam said to the blind man entering her brothel. (Ahem.)

So saith Ed, I should have said.

Oh, I'm SO bad! Spank me, someone!

(No need to knock over chairs in the rush, there, Wooly.)

More Realmslore filled in; onward!

love to all,


On July 9, 2005 THO said: Understood, Kuje.

Please pass on to those posters you and Faraer have been jousting with, this from me:

It's my firm belief that Ed understands his contract quite well. It's a short, simple document, as legal contracts go (and Ed has had legal training, and in his time has signed literally hundreds of publishing-related contracts; there aren't all that many writers alive and active today who have been involved in more publications than Ed has), and I have also read it and its amendments, and understood them quite well. They just aren't that complicated, folks. (Moreover, I know Ed has seen the exact same pages I have, because he passed them on to me.)

He passed them on not just to me, but to all of his original players, at the request of TSR, because all of us were required to "sign off" on having read and understood them. All of us were telephoned by TSR legal representatives (who told us they were taping the calls) to make sure we fully understood what we were signing.

We also each had to sign legal release forms for our Knights characters, formally recognizing that TSR now owned the characters we played (which Ed had created, named, and crafted back histories for, anyway), and could be published without any obligation to us. (Interestingly, those forms made mention of "payment of one (1) U.S. dollar" per character, to give the release legal force, and TSR never paid us those dollars. Ed did, but I don't think they ever paid him.) Another bit of trivia: if action or "bendable/poseable" figurines, or tabletop or collectible miniatures, of the Knights of Myth Drannor characters are ever released, John Hunter (who played Florin) is entitled to one free Florin figure, "delivered free into his hands."

No offense to Rich Baker, whom I'm sure is a nice person and a smart man, but he wasn't yet a TSR employee when all of this occurred, and so couldn't have been privy to any of it.

love to all,


July 10, 2005: Hello, all. David, that story hit me just as hard. I'll pass your message along to Ed. I'm not sure about him writing an autobiography; he tends to tell the world he's just a normal guy who watches and pays attention to all the interesting things the world throws at him. But we'll see. And I know he's at work on your Shieldmeet needs.

However, the reply he sent me just now is to Si, in the matter of Silver Morn's bloodlines, specifically the query: "since she must have been in some horribly stressful situations by now, I would have expected it to have manifested in self defence?"

Ed speaks:

Some beings in the Realms do get the benefits of 'handy manifestation of hitherto-latent personal superpowers,' but a lot more don't (or Realms novels would have settled into a predictable formula long, long ago). Silver Morn's affinity for the Weave will soon, as I said, begin to give her "both dream and 'waking' visions, in areas of strong lingering (or not-yet-triggered) magic: brief animated scenes [sans sound] of beings and events befalling on that particular spot, that are or were magic-related." However, it may never manifest any farther, for her. Or it may spur into becoming a full-fledged sorceress, either soon or sometime before she dies.

Childbirth would be a logical trigger, being as it combines changes in a mother's internal body chemistry as well as stress, but stress alone may not (for a particular being) trigger a manifestation. Or it may; we'll just have to see. :}

So saith Ed.

I can just HEAR that smile of his, at the end, there.

love to all,


July 11, 2005: Hello, all. Why Si, what a GREAT description of Cormyr's intelligence operatives! I passed it on to Ed, who e-chortled.

Now, Ed makes reply to David Lįzaro in the matter of festivities of Silverymoon. Heads up, all who love Silverymoon and are on the lookout for essential Silvaeren lore, because what follows definitely falls into that category! Ed begins by apologizing for the brevity of his replies, but we know what THAT means, don't we?

Yes, I've had to split his reply into two, for fear of bumping into the post size limit. So here's Part 1.

Ed speaks:

Hi, David. I'm afraid you've asked a question that is both way too big to answer properly AND runs into NDA troubles for me, but I'm going to sneak in a reply here that deals just with Midsummer, Shieldmeet, and the days leading up and immediately following them. I'm afraid (for NDA reasons) these entries are going to have to be very brief and "sketchy," rather than properly detailed. In addition to these, many faiths hold various celebrations and rites (but only Moondown, listed hereafter, is observed city-wide). In the entries, "shops closed" never includes inns, taverns, festhalls, clubs, or dining-houses.

During the tenday preceding Midsummer, one festival is celebrated each day. Here are those ten, followed by Midsummer and Shieldmeet:

OLDCASKS: a day during which private individuals and businesses all across the city find and dust off, or make, and sell (from their doors and tables set up by their front doors, or in their front gardens) various vintages from their cellars, in preparation for the festivities to come. Wineries and "flagon shops" often offer special sales or import hard-to-find or novelty vintages ("Dwarfbeard Ale! Contains the ashes of genuine dwarf beards!" or "Elfmaidblood Ruby, a fine red guaranteed to contain drops of blood from gold elf maidens of the eldest, proudest lineages!"), and all of the city temples cast neutralize poison spells for free, on all liquids brought to them, from dawn to dusk (stockpiling scrolls and "calling in" faithful clergy from outside the city for this purpose; such visitors usually remain for some days, as a reward).

CLOAKSWIRL: a day-long crafters' festival during which various costumes, garments, and fashion accessories are sold (for use in the festivities ahead). No masks, cosmetics, or headgear are sold on this day (it's not unlawful, just considered VERY unlucky; in most shops, such things are hidden away for the day). Street vending by anyone is freely allowed on this day, and most shops move tables out onto the street. These must all be cleared away by highsun of the next day (Moondown). By tradition, inns and taverns put on, or hire actors to present, brief plays or dramatic readings after dusk.

MOONDOWN: a normal working day, until highsun. Thereafter, everyone in the city by tradition bathes (in the river, if they've nowhere else to go), and (again by tradition) puts on new garments they've never worn before (poor folk trade clothes for the night). A solemn ceremony of worship to Sźlune is held, starting at dusk. A Moondance (slow, quiet, sweeping movements of many dancers of both genders clad in palely-glowing "moonrime" [white to very light green] garments, led by priests) winds its way along city streets until dawn. Moonwine (squirted the nozzles of from shoulder-carried skins) and platters of small round cakes are offered freely by the dancers to everyone they pass, wishes are whispered to the moon, and loved ones who perished during the preceding year are softly named. Temples of Shar are closed during this day, and her worshippers by tradition pray only in private, not wearing any ceremonial garb, vestments, or symbols of that goddess.

MASKS: a crafters' festival during which elaborate (and often very expensive or spectacular) masks, cosmetics, and headgear are sold, for the revelry that begins at nightfall of this day, and continues on, invarious observances, night and day through Midsummer Night. On this day Alustriel typically pays every musician (NOT singer) who desires to play in the streets a "flourish" of 25 gp, and many minstrels wander, making music alone or in groups (instrumentals rather than songs).

ELSKELTER: a normal working day, until highsun, when all the city and temple bells are rung, and the Skull Run begins.

The Skull Run is a giant game of hide and seek, wherein a swift, agile, person wearing a skullhead-mask tries to get from any gate of the city to the Moonbridge without being prevented from doing so by a mob of persons who MUST, in order to participate, down a potent drink to the dregs (making them literally tipsy - - that is, staggering on their feet). The Run is administered by the Spellgard, who prepare the drinks and give drinkers one-eyed hoods to wear (no one not wearing one over their head is allowed to take any part in the fun).

Typically one Skull Runner will start from every gate of the city. They cannot use any translocation magic (such as Teleport or Dimension Door), but can use Spider Climb, Feather Fall, and Freedom of Movement. They can (and usually do) strip naked and grease themselves, they must wear their skull mask at all times (so tearing it off is one way to delay them; their chasers are forbidden to hide, throw, or carry the mask, but may snatch it off as many times as they feel like, and can manage), and the Spellgard typically teleports a Skull Runner away from harm if they're injured, get into a fight, or are attacked in earnest by anyone. It's understood that they'll be healed or even brought back to life if they come to harm during the Run.

Every year, Alustriel announces prizes for "catching the Skull," and prizes for any Skull Runners if they successfully reach the Moonbridge. These are typically monetary, but may involve a Runner choosing any single spell be cast upon themselves (that Alustriel can manage), or another service or boon.

The Skull Run began in the days when Silverymoon was first founded, but was banned; Alustriel revived it about three decades ago.

From dusk onwards, this night is traditionally when old friends gather to catch up on events of the past year, begin to negotiate deals or plan the year ahead, and "absent friends" are remembered (and toasted).

CLAWS: On this day, elaborate costumes worn by citizens (or several citizens at once) to resemble various monsters (dragons and owlbears are perennial favourites) are donned, and the "marauding monsters" parade through the streets, heading for particular taverns. Older citizens watch the monsters process along, but younger ones "fall in behind them" and repair to the taverns, where the costume-wearers "unhood" to receive free drinks and meals.

While dining, they are entertained by bards, minstrels, and old retired adventurers telling wild and dramatic tales of monster-slayings, battles against beasts that "got away," and horrific ghost stories of revenant monsters, creatures of the Underdark lurking under all our feet right now, and so on.

These tales go on into the wee hours, with the taverns serving free drinks to all (traditionally these are very watered-down, so it's hard to get drunk before one feels bloated, but taverns vie with each other in doctoring the beverages to achieve unusual but very enjoyable tastes). [So everyone gets free drinkables unless they want full-strength ales and spirits, but only those who wore the monster costumes get free food.] Children traditionally attend the tale-tellings, and usually fall asleep before morning (only to awake shrieking from nightmares).

So saith Ed.

I've chopped his reply here, and accordingly will present Part Two on the morrow. Ed himself remains frantically busy with hush-hush Realms-related work, and can probably best be described as "happily exhausted."

love to all,

July 12, 2005: Hello again, all. I present Part Two of Ed's reply to David Lįzaro about Shieldmeet-related festivities of Silverymoon. I ended Part One with the entry for Claws, and we rejoin Ed's words with the festival held the next day, Glarth:

GLARTH: Colloquially known as "Fullbelly," this is a day of widespread at-home feasting. Floral-decorated wagons are sent out from the Palace in the morning, piled high with smoked hams, loaves of bread, sausages, smoked fish, tiny drawstring-bags of spices, and fruit. The wagons head for the poorest streets of the city first, but circulate until emptied; anyone can reach down any food they want from the passing wagons (that they can personally carry, without benefit of a cart or wagon of their own) to augment whatever food they already have, so that none may know hunger on this day. Visitors to the city and those who live alone are invited to dine with families, or at inns and taverns with other loners, but no loud entertainment or organized revelry takes place (typically everyone eats too much and drowses in chairs and on beds and couches into the evening, talking lazily of divers matters).

OAMAURAE ("OH-more-ay"): After all the eating and drinking of the preceding day, few folk rise until after highsun on Oamaurae. Traditionally, this is a day when everyone goes out to a playhouse, acting-ground outside the walls, inn or tavern or private home where hired performances are being presented, or simply to a street performance, to see theater.

On Omaurae, new plays are presented for the first time, new ballads-with-dance-and-mime tales performed, and new drinks (fortified, doctored-with-herbs-and-spices wines and sherries) are sold to see what'll catch on.

Returning home after enjoying performances, households take time during the evening to read aloud stirring passages of prose, or recite ballads and heroic tales from memory. Much rich dessert food is then consumed, and everyone goes to bed.

CLEARSIGHT: A half-day of work (shops open only until highsun). The rest of the day is devoted to planning ahead, on personal, household, and professional levels.

Everyone discusses politics and (if they're involved in any) the wording of new agreements to be solemnized, or pacts to be renewed, on Shieldmeet. Business owners talk to their employees about the direction and aim of the business, commoners hoist tankards at taverns and discuss the latest news and the "way the world is sailing," and everyone from adventurers to fashion-setting clothiers plots their planned doings in the seasons ahead. The shop closures make possible much "meeting with investors and merchants to plan future undertakings" (and to persuade would-be business partners by wining, dining, or even wenching them) - - if, of course, you can find the people you want to make contact with, among all the to-ing and fro-ing and gladhanding going on.

AMALREE'S PLEASURE: Amalree was a spectacular, affectionate, and much-loved dancer of Silverymoon, who died almost a century ago. In her honour, this day is devoted to lighthearted dancing and flirtation. Older folk (and those too injured or infirm to take part) gather to sip wine, watch the fun unfold around them, and play various elaborate board games. In recent years, wagering on these games has become very popular, and vast sums are won and lost by the evening of 'the Pleasure.'

MIDSUMMER: The Feast of Love. No shops are open past highsun on this day. At highsun, small feasts (private meals) begin, and open public lovemaking begins. Many folk don't take part, and stay home in their shuttered rooms, but the majority of citizens wander, watching or fondling or diving right in and participating in sex acts with those who beckon. Open doors are invitations to all, priests cast curative spells against diseases for free, orgies and public nudity and dalliance are commonplace, and even staid old Silvaeren tell off-colour jokes or make frank, lewd remarks or praisings they'd never dream of daring to utter on any other day (and to which those they are made to are supposed not to react, "forgetting" everything that happened on Midsummer after the next dawn). Traditionally, Alustriel makes love to all sorts of strangers of both genders and many races, and leads a "Hunt of Maidens" (which of course is nothing of the sort, but rather a hunt for a specific mask - - or rather, the person wearing it - - through various gardens) after the moon rises. Clergy of Loviatar and Ilmater give demonstrations involving lovemaking, and various wealthy folk with large homes host parties at which naughty games are held (eating various sweet desserts off the bared bodies of fellow revellers is a favourite tradition).

SHIELDMEET: Celebrated as it is everywhere in the Realms, this special day is devoted to open council between rulers and ruled, which really means: commoners can sit down and speak frankly with monarchs (who are typically protected against attack with ironguard, and various protective magics that mitigate the effects of missiles, particular sorts of spells, and so on) without being overheard by courtiers and without fear of reprisal. Commoners can communicate complaints, warnings, answer royal questions, pass on gossip, and so on; most rulers consider it the most valuable and informative day of their year, and often arrange to meet again soon with particular informants.

For rulers, guild members, merchants, masters and apprentices, and others engaged in renting or in transacting business, it's a day of renewing agreements (often reviewed or drawn up earlier, during Clearsight).

It's also a day of many contests, trials-of-arms, duels, contests-of-spells, and full-blown tournaments of horse-and-lance, with attendant wagering. These events are rarely undertaken in anger or to settle scores or legal disputes (though they can be, if Taern or Alustriel agree and the proceedings are overseen by Spellguard members), but serve as popular entertainment, with local merchants and wealthy notables sponsoring prizes for victorious contestants. Taking part in such trials has also become a very good way for adventurers and hedge-wizards seeking employment to attract the notice of potential patrons.

Silvaeren temples and visiting priests provide free healing magics and care to injured contestants, and the day ends with a "last revel" of theatrical performances and bardic and minstrel performances in various inns, taverns, clubs, and guild headquarters, at which mead and other sweetened wines are sipped and honey-cakes and other pastries and candies are consumed. (Because it's "back to the everyday trudge and drudge on the morrow.") Wise celebrants take to bed early and sober; foolish ones sing and carouse late into the night, and take surly hangovers to the shop the next day.

So saith Ed.

Who hopes he's been of some help, David, and apologizes again for the brevity of his reply. He also added this:

I'm pleased and honoured that you liked THE LONG ROAD HOME so much. I hope to have opportunities to tell many more such tales of the Realms in the years ahead. As for an autobiography: maybe. I'm really not that special a person. I have for years followed a personal philosophy of "try to forgive, try to understand, try to be kind - - and try to experience almost everything life offers, at least once," but I can't say that I've yet reached any deep philosophical insights by doing so, or made myself into a better person. However, I'm not going to stop trying.

And with that, Ed and I both bid you all adieu for another day. There are Realmslore promises in plenty to keep, and pages to pound out before Ed sleeps...

so love to all!


On July 11, THO said: Well spotted! No, worship of Shar in Silverymoon is done in cellars and behind the closed doors of private homes only. The notation was there because this is a Realms-wide rite of Selune, Ed tells me.



July 13, 2005: Hello again, fellow scribes.

Kuje, Ed hasn't forgotten your Purple Lady queries, and will reply soon. In the meantime, however, he answers your divine spells question:

In 2nd Edition, 1st and 2nd level spells could be gained or renewed without direct connection to any deity (and so were obtainable during a Godswar, as I suggested in DRAGON #54, and we later all saw in the Time of Troubles). As a general rule, divine spells should be granted by deities (or their servant creatures) only as a result of direct prayer: in other words, yes, divine casters must worship a specific deity and not a cause or broad aspect.

However (weasel time), there will be exceptions, because in the endless game of one-up-god-ship that Faerūnian deities play, subtly struggling for supremacy over each other, dominance over intelligent races and events that affect their societies, and defense of personal portfolios, gods (and their loyal servant creatures) will often grant spells to mortals "out of the blue," or under false pretenses, or whatever - - just to try to influence those events and achieve some unknown-to-mortals aim or temporary victory in the ongoing godly struggle. As I've said before, there are secrets about the gods I can't yet reveal, but all of this boils down to: MOST divine casters get their spells by praying directly to a deity and serving that deity adequately (serve poorly, and your prayers may not be answered at all; serve superbly, and you may even receive extra magic), but A FEW divine casters may, for indefinite periods, receive spells when venerating only a cause, broad aspect, or even a dead or "the wrong" god.

So saith Ed.

Exhibiting his usual love for compromise and all-inclusive attempts to please.

love to all,


July 13, 2005: Ed of the Greenwood saith:

Mystra sacrificed some of her power forever (losing Sammaster's portion of her essence) when she acted against Sammaster.

It's against Bane's essential nature to relinquish anything, and the sacrifice is not a choice available to him: he CAN'T "seize" the portions of Mystra's essence within each Chosen, or strip them of their Chosen status.

He can destroy them, in direct combat, if he manages to catch them in the right situation.

However, note that "right situation" phrase. All of the present Chosen are well-versed in the Weave, and can "flee through it." If Bane tries to hunt them down and destroy them through the Weave, he'll do so much damage to it and to his own control over magic that it will rapidly become apparent to him just how much "not worth it" destroying any of the Chosen is.

And as Melfius has quite properly pointed out, neither Ao nor any of the other gods of Faerūn would allow any "Tyrant of the Weave" to exist. Bane can't stand for long against any two greater deities, let alone any more numerous combination of them.

Asgetrion is correct in saying that Bane would try to become a Tyrant over the Weave, controlling it absolutely; his essential nature forces him to do so.

Shadovar, Bane cannot succeed in becoming Tyrant of the Weave. The Chosen won't accept him, and he can't remove their powers. He can destroy them, if he attempts their destructions in the right manner. Azuth will resist him utterly (he's god of spellcasters who achieve mastery over magic through their experimentations and research, and can't accept a tyrant who would end or attempt to control that process) but "rebel" is the wrong word, because Bane won't be "the new god of magic."

Dargoth, the Chosen are linked to the Weave. They can die as mortal bodies, and they can be destroyed, but if they have the opportunity to "sink into the Weave," they can all become as Syluné and now Shandril are: "spirits" of the Weave.

So saith Ed.

Not that Bane eliminating Mystra tomorrow is likely. He's been burned with the previous Mystra, and prefers to dominate daily life in human societies in the Realms, where he can exult in being a tyrant.

However, when I put this to Ed, he e-twinkled and replied: "Remember how I keep reminding you there are secrets about the gods I haven't divulged yet, and can't just yet? Let's just say most of these discussions about what god could or would do what to which other god are just what they tend to be in the real world: so many futile words exchanged between mortals who can never know the truth. Now, back to home sweet mud hut and let's all have dinner."

So there you have it: Ed's take on the matter.

love to all,


July 14, 2005: Hello, fellow scribes. Ed of the Greenwood makes reply to two scribes in the matter of the daily disposal of the dead:

Borch and Asgetrion,

Things vary so much across the Realms that it's difficult to give any valid overall answer to your questions. However, in general, burial matters in cities and large towns across Faerūn "work like this:"

Only noble or very wealthy or very old (long-established) families (or guilds) in an urban area have, and are allowed to keep, crypts within the city walls - - usually beneath the city proper. Everyone else must inter their dead (after allowing beasts to gnaw the bones clean, in some faiths, or after cremation in some faiths or in cases of disease, fungal growths, mummy rot, lycanthropy, suspected undeath, and so on) outside the city walls.

This is the case in Baldur's Gate. Or to put it more correctly: aside from a few old, well-hidden old-family crypts in that city, the dead are disposed of in two ways: shipped out to an offshore isle for burning (a formerly-popular custom, now used only for sailors or shipowners), or far more often corpses are carted well inland, to a monastic community. Homeless and penniless folk make the journey in a common "dead cart" known as "the Vulture Run," and most citizens have a simple walk-with-the-cart funeral.

In the case of Baldur's Gate, the graveyard is about five miles northeast of the city walls, and (again to try to bring something of a "general rule across the Realms" into this answer) is consecrated ground surrounded by the claimed and farmed fields of a monastery, in an attempt to guard against undeath (or at least armies of shuffling undead rising out of graves unnoticed, until they pose a deadly threat to isolated steads and wayfarers). The Gate's graveyard is called "the Field of Rest," and consists of a vast burial hill surmounted by a simple chapel, in the heart of the mixed monastic community of Darfleet (named for its long-ago founding monk), temple-farms dedicated to the veneration of Chauntea. The monks bury all dead, using spells and fire-sticks to fight any undead who rise, and eventually till sections of the burial fields with plows, sewing edible crops that are harvested only for their seeds (sold and sent widely across the Realms). Other Darfleet fields do yield food that's sold directly to folk in Baldur's Gate and elsewhere, via city carters and passing caravan-merchants.

So that's why you'll find no graveyards on the FR ADVENTURES maps: the dead are either taken well outside a city, or are interred in underground crypts (guild members under a guild headquarters, for example, or members of a noble family under their own family mansion). After the Threat from the Sea, the mounded corpses of attacking sea-creatures were piled up on damaging, sinking vessels, towed out to sea, and incinerated with spells - - so the dryland defenders, to avoid any insult to their families, were all taken to a height (to the north) overlooking Baldur's Gate, there burned, and carts full of the wetted-down ashes were taken to Darfleet for "tilling in."

Borch, your earlier and longstanding questions haven't been forgotten, and I WILL get to them in the fullness of time.

So saith Ed.

Who is wearied with the weight of Realmslore work at the moment, yet loves crafting it as much as ever, after more than thirty-seven years of imagineering. What a guy.

love to all,


July 15, 2005: Hi again, all. khorne, Wooly's reply to you is well said. Ed can't say more on this for NDA reasons, but I'll spill a LITTLE of the beans by saying: Interested in the dead not sleeping in the City of the Dead? Then you MUST read CITY OF SPLENDORS, a novel by Elaine Cunningham and Ed Greenwood!

This time Ed tackles Jamallo Kreen's queries: "Is there a Torilian deity who has diplomacy as a portfolio? Do the gods have any divinity who travels amongst them as neutral messenger and herald, as Hermes served the Olympians, Hades, and Poseidon?

Does much diplomacy occur among the sentient races on Toril? It seems to me that every little squabble and disagreement quickly turns to guerilla warfare, assassination, terrorism, or full-scale invasion... I suppose that a lot of diplomacy occurs within the Lords' Alliance, but I rarely see overt evidence of it in the novels or sourcebooks. Does it take place via portal travel? Do diplomats otherwise travel with trade caravans or do they travel only with their own entourages?"

Ed replies:

No deity has diplomacy as a portfolio, because diplomacy is a large part of what all priesthoods do (if you're trying to influence matters in Faerūn involving other intelligent beings, without using weapons, you're practising diplomacy whether you call it that or not). In other words, no deity will be allowed by the others to "own" a portfolio of diplomacy, even if certain divine beings are very eloquent, persuasive, or successfully manipulative.

The gods aren't monolithic, but rather a number of pantheons. Among the human deities worshipped most widely across the Realms (in other words, those not grouped in FAITHS & PANTHEONS under a "Pantheon" heading in the "Other Deities" section), Helm once did a lot of shuttling "amongst them as neutral messenger and herald" before the Time of Troubles, but his actions during that time of crisis earned him such dislike that he's abandoned that role after being so often spurned, since. In most of the other pantheons, deities employed their servants (archons, et al) as emissaries more often than one of their number performed heraldic duties.

Your impression that "every little squabble and disagreement quickly turns to guerilla warfare, assassination, terrorism, or full-scale invasion" is a function of the D&D game and commercial fiction demands, I'm afraid: a LOT of diplomacy (successful and otherwise) goes on daily among and between settlements of sentient races on Toril. If it did not, no stable, widespread trade would occur. You just don't get shown it all that much in game adventures, novels, or Realms sourcebooks (although there's an upcoming [NDA] that may help in a small way to change that) - - certainly not as much as such publications address open armed conflict. Remember that all the tense argument and confrontation scenes in royal courts (as seen in the various Cormyr novels, among the elves on Evermeet in Rich Baker's current Last Mythal series, and so on) ARE diplomacy, even if they often end disastrously. You'll see a lot of informal, one-on-one diplomacy in CITY OF SPLENDORS. The Zhentarim and the Red Wizard enclaves make daily coin through the sort of diplomacy known as trade negotiations - - it's just that printed Realmslore rarely focuses on that.

(As to why the Zhentarim are widely feared or disliked: it's due to most peoples' aversion to suffering violence at the hands of powerful wizards who are known to be allied with priests of Cyric [murder, lies, intrigue, deception, illusion] or Bane [strife, hatred, tyranny, fear] AND beholders - - and the Zhents have so often struck at anyone who disagreed with them that others now expect them to do so. "From whom one buys one's pots and pans shouldn't be a matter of cosmic significance, in my opinion, but the people of Faerūn make it so," you post, but I've never seen that as true in any of my writings: folk mistrust the Zhents and the Red Wizards for their violent tendencies and out of mistrust of their magic, not for the goods they trade - - and in general DON'T refuse to trade with them, or buy goods from caravan wagons that have travelled under Zhent protection, so I see no attachment of "cosmic significance" occurring, on the part of most folk of Faerūn.)

In general, diplomacy across the Realms is done daily by the Heralds (as revealed in the 2nd Edition CODE OF THE HARPERS and in the upcoming [NDA]), but also by "factors" (trade agents) and by the envoys (diplomats) of kingdoms and city-states treating directly with each other. Such delegations always travel with scribes and bodyguards (and usually trained spies, too). In very dangerous wilderland areas, when overland travel is extended, they may travel as part of a large caravan for safety, yes, but up and down the Sword Coast or within the Dragonreach lands they generally travel as a large, well-armed band flying the banners of the realm they represent and "peace and parley" banners depicting open hands. Such groups can expect to be stopped and searched by local authorities, but not imprisoned, attacked, harrassed, or to suffer confiscations unless they've openly done violence or thefts or arson, or are suspected of being something other than envoys (transporting slaves or poisons is not 'legitimate' behaviour for any trade envoy, for example).

Within the Lords' Alliance, a lot of key diplomacy does occur via portal travel, yes, generally involving Silverymoon (or certain secluded Everlund mansions) as "common meeting-grounds." Alustriel is so widely beloved that grumblings about her dominating affairs in the North are generally seen as just that: grumblings emitted as bargaining ploys. She's the key counterweight to the natural dominance of Waterdeep within the Alliance - - yet there are also the "quiet voices" heard by few outside the Alliance, notably Tolgar Anuvien of Goldenfields, whose ability to feed (or starve) many Alliance members carries great weight.

And yes, international diplomacy has grown since the "Crusade" against the Tuigan Horde, because it brought many rulers together in common cause for the first time. Some have "lapsed back into their old ways," yes, but most are more aware of, and place more value in, knowing what's going on farther and farther away from their own patrol-outposts or borders.

So the diplomacy happens constantly, Jamallo Kreen, and can easily dominate your campaign if you want it to; don't be misled by the natural tendency of Realms fiction and game offerings to concentrate on open combat.

So saith Ed.

Whom I can back up on this, as one of his longtime players: most "home" Realmsplay sessions, with Ed as DM, are intrigue (diplomacy) and not combat at all (on many nights, we never draw weapons). Ed's Realms are a proverbial hotbed of intrigue.



A July 15, 2005 Mailing List reply: Hi, Jeff! Thanks for the questions. Here we go:

I don't want to say too much about Waterdeep and harm any of the surprises Eric has included in his superb (but woefully shortened) Waterdeep book, but yes, most Waterdhavians know the Red Sashes exist, and credit them for keeping Dock Ward from becoming a constant lawless brawl. Durnan is their creator (he founded them in 1311 DR), and Piergeiron "doesn't want to know" the exact membership of the Red Sashes, because although he mistrusts vigilantes, he's assured by many of his fellow Lords (and by his trusted bodyguard mage, Tarthus, whom you'll see briefly in the CITY OF SPLENDORS novel Elaine and I wrote) that they do act "for good" in Waterdeep, employing methods that the Watch and Guard cannot, but that "they'll certainly be curbed sharply if ever they go too far." Piergeiron long ago had to accept and tolerate the huge variety of value systems, beliefs, alignments, approaches to life, and morals that everyone crowding into the walls of bustling Waterdeep holds, and make his personal peace with "living and working with" individuals he might personally find abhorrent, for the greater good of Waterdeep. The Red Sashes get results, often delivering into the hands of authority criminals his uniformed, disciplined lawkeepers can't find. Moreover, they don't seem to cause any great problems in doing so - - so he's content to not hunt them down and root them out, but rather accept the help they provide, from time to time asking certain Lords (Mirt and Durnan) for reassurance that "You're keeping an eye on those Red Sash fellows, aren't you? We don't need any new thieves' guilds in the Deep, know you!" Whereupon they always gruffly and solemnly assure him they watch the Red Sashers "like hawks, not that they need it," and Piergeiron nods and passes on to other matters. The Red Sash is regarded as exciting entertainment by most law-abiding Waterdhavians, and very much a Good Thing; they're not feared or despised. They do spend more time gathering intelligence and (through off-duty Watch members they pass such information to, in taverns - - posing as Waterdhavians in their cups and making sure the Watch stalwart overhears, NOT parading about as as masked and muttering Red Sash agents) making sure the Watch gets tipped off about "the daily sort" of criminal plans, rumors and facts about who did what theft or is planning which other swindle, than they do pouncing on anyone. The Red Sashers save their pouncings for "big stuff" (slavers; attempts on the part of thieves to act in large gangs; the regrettable tendency for evil-aligned priesthoods to not only hold worship services in hidden temples established in cellars and buildings purporting to have other purposes all over the city, but also to form gangs of worshippers to do evil or illicit things in Waterdeep; those who like to smuggle in monsters to sell or stage beast-fights for betting purposes, or as "hit-beasts" to threaten targets or slay foes... and so on). So, yes, they might pounce in you in a dark alley, but not if you're avoiding participation in these "bigger" bad things. Otherwise, they'll just watch you, and whisper some things about your deeds (where you go, whom you meet, and what you're carrying or doing) to the Watch. Only if you arouse their suspicions, that is: remember that literally thousands of Waterdhavians scuttle down dark alleys every night, some of them hurrying just because they're afraid of what might happen to them there.

Now, as for Skullport: I doubt Waterdhavians would ever go into unrest over the mere existence of Skullport; I can only see unrest occurring if nightly raids on the city that clearly came from Skullport (such as by bands of drow or other "known to be of the Underdark" creatures, coupled with the inevitable lurid rumors) began and went on for days without any response from the authorities. The existence of Skullport is common knowledge in Waterdeep, and has been for years. So have the publicly-given reasons for the Lords of Waterdeep tolerating its presence: it enriches Waterdeep greatly, making possible all the wealth and great selection of wares and bustling progress that "advances us all," and it neatly provides a place for dangerous beings (wizards and drow and illithids and the like) to trade in valuable and sometimes dangerous goods, and "keep all that away from all of us who never have any reason to venture down there." In other words, you as a citizen or resident of Waterdeep enjoy great prosperity and safety that you would not, if Skullport didn't exist. Among all the lurid legends and tall tales of goings-on in Skullport are tales "planted" as reassurance, such as: "And if anything ever gets out of hand in Skullport, the Blackstaff has all sorts of spells 'hanging ready' to take care of it all: invaders from there will get blasted to dust! In the meantime, he and Laeral take their apprentices down there for training, and Watchful Order magists, too, so they can blast a few monsters and remind everyone not to try anything with Waterdeep, or - - blam!" So if adventurers did "tell everyone else about it" they'd probably get responses of: "Uh-huh. 'Sware the bad folk trade, and go, and they deserve whatever befalls them. Glad the Lords keep it all out of OUR hair, anyroads!"



July 16, 2005: Hello again, all. Ed replies to Si in the matter of Realms terms for a troubleshooter:

Si, in Faerūn such a person is usually called a "ready hand" (meaning someone who can deal with, or will try to deal with [with a fair amount of competence or success], a wide variety of problems and tasks without a lot of fuss). The closest real-world translation would probably be "jack-of-all-trades."

Someone who's skilled at several sorts of craftwork (such as a person who can function well as a carpenter, locksmith, blacksmith, woodcarver, and tool-maker and -maintainer) is usually referred to a "guildscrafter" (meaning they could probably qualify for membership in multiple goods, not that they're necessarily a member of any guild at all).

Someone trained and assigned (by the local governing authority) to "deal with problems" in any area, particularly if this involves occasional violence or "taking the law into their own hands" is sometimes called a "watchsword" even if they don't carry a sword at all (as distinct from "guard" or "sentinel;" the possible confusion between the three terms is why the term is only employed "sometimes" and isn't more widely popular).

So saith Ed, tirelessly revealing Realmslore wherever he goes.

(And yes, Si, he agrees that "adventurer" is a pretty good answer, too.)

love to all,


July 17, 2005: Hello, all. Ed makes swift reply to Smyther about those inverted floating Netherese mountaintops:

Smyther, very few of the floating cities of Netheril were severed mountaintops. I know of only four, out of almost two score floating cities and castles (some floating constructs were little more than a single fortress).

Mountaintops are rarely "solid" rock, but rather the exposed and weathered "pointy ends" of fissured and cracked rock that's either volcanic (and therefore of different consistencies, from the former outer cone ash to the onetime magma shaft), folded layers of rock thrust up "on end," or even different tectonic plates. They don't "hang together," and thus there's no benefit to lopping off mountaintops except impressing the observer. Most of the mountains (edge of Anauroch, in Thar, and areas now under the High Ice) that were mined or quarried or sculpted by various Netherese were consumed down to a rocky plain or plateau, and so have "left no trace" to modern mappers and explorers.

Many Netherese archwizards experimented with melting stone and sculpting it (to form honeycombed-with-passages "bases" that they then built up into soaring-spired palaces somewhat as a modern master confectioner "builds" an ornate wedding-cake), and they usually found it easiest to quarry boulders (cottage-sized and smaller) and magically bind them to other boulders of the same size, slowly building the result into a platform of about the size they wanted (constructed lying atop bare rock plateaus on the ground, not in the air).

Most Netherese cities looked like a series of palaces set among terraced gardens, with a few "viewing rooms" or griffon-steed landing ports visible around the "lower curve" edges. The creative competition turned in the direction of changing gravity, "sky" hue, and other local physical conditions by means of layers upon layers of spells.

So saith Ed.

Ever onward into Realmslore!

love to all,


July 18, 2005: Kuje, your Purple Lady lore arrives at last!

First, to Si: yes, please repost Ed's Red Sashes and Waterdeep replies in this thread. Ed informs me that the already-posted Prologue of CITY OF SPLENDORS is set back at the time of the Threat From The Sea, but the rest of the book is current Realms time, jumping from group of characters to group of characters, but never "back and forth" in time.

Second, Ed deals with Kuje's paladins keeping slaves query:

In theory, a paladin born, raised, and temple-trained in a slave-keeping culture (like the Mulhorandi example already mentioned) could keep slaves if the paladin's deity saw nothing wrong in that (if they did, the dream-vision commandments to "do something" about it would be pretty firm). Otherwise, no. The more familiar Faerūnian cultures already presented in print don't equate slavekeeping with enough "this is the just and right way of doing things" for a paladin to stomach it. If a paladin ventures into slave-keeping lands and cities, the individual character of the paladin and the views of his or her deity, divine servitors, and priests the paladin has contact with will determine how the paladin reacts to other individuals keeping slaves. In the already-published CITY OF SPLENDORS prologue, Elaine and I show you a paladin of Waterdeep's reaction to indenture-bondage (slavery by any other name) practised in Luskan.

So saith Ed.

Who then passes on gleefully to speak at far more length with your desired festhall details:

Ah, the Purple Lady...

Picture a steep-slate-shingled, many-gabled four-storey wooden, whitewashed house whose upper two floors cantilever out (not only with ornate balconies, side-screened and solid-roofed against pigeons, where aromatic flowers are grown and intimate laundry is hung to dry, but also with floors that are larger than the floors below, the fourth jutting even more than the third) over the street. It descends for two cellars below street level, the lowest being damp and moldly and used for storage of things intended to be forgotten, and the "close cellar" (uppermost) being entered from the house above and from the street (via a locked-metal doors-covered delivery ramp) and used for storage: firewood storage, beer in casks, potatoes, turnips, and apples in bins, old furniture, and, yes, a "dungeon" for holding drunkards, unruly guests, and those who like to give and receive pain or stage "mock sacrifices on altars" as part of their sex play.

Above the cellar is the ground floor, having two open-only-from-inside, double-barred alley doors, and one public entrance: a double-width, massive door with an ornate brass-barrel handle like a steward's rod of office. It bears a faintly-glowing (magic paint) image of a cowl-cloaked (in purple, of course) lady, seen side-on, facing to the right (the shape of the figure bespeaks the femininity).

Inside the door is a thick-carpeted forehall, apparently walled in tapestries. At least four armed bodyguards stand ready behind them at all times, ready to be summoned by the visible hostess and doorlar (doorman). Firequench magics govern this room: NOTHING will burn or ignite. Light comes down through three circular glass 'portholes' in the ceiling, from lamps in a room above.

To the visitor's left, the tapestries will part to reveal a magnificent stair ascending to "the Rest." The hostess awaits a visitor's request; those desiring sex with one of the twelve ladies of the house know to ask for "purple for coin." Some guests really just want a room for the night, either to sleep or for shady business or party revelry of their own, and require nothing more than the discretion of the house (soundproofing is magically augmented, and very good).

The topmost or fourth floor (which has nothing above it but a few rooftop rainwater-cisterns for gathering wash-water) is where the staff sleep; the floor below it has six to eight bedchambers that can be rented out to guests who desire nothing more than a place to sleep (though the Lady entirely lacks stabling facilities), as well as three "pleasure chambers" (lushly-furnished bedchambers for sex fun), the floor beneath that is given over to ten pleasure chambers, and the lowest of the upper floors has two private meeting-rooms (one with a kitchen antechamber connected to the main kitchens below via a dumbwaiter), an office, a bathing-chamber with a large, deep multi-person "sit in" bath, and a suite of three joined bedchambers with their own garderobes and robing-rooms, that can be rented for private parties. These floors are linked by the main stair (curving from landing to landing; there's a guard sitting on a chair at each landing, with alarm-gongs) and by a back stair; the latter goes down via the kitchen pantries into the cellars.

The ground floor of the Purple Lady is devoted to the kitchen and its pantries, along the back, and (through the tapestries on a visitor's right, from the forehall) a dimly-lit dining-hall (we moderns would call it a restaurant), called The Lady's Pleasure.

So saith Ed.

I know you'll snarl at this, Kuje, but I've split up Ed's reply to avoid running into the post-size-limit. I'll send along the second part tomorrow (because, she breathed, tortured anticipation is good for any man).


July 19, 2005: Hello, all! Thank you, able scribes, for so swiftly answering Rain's Realmspace questions. I'll forward everything to Ed, but Rain, please be patient: poor Ed is starting to fall behind on his replies again, overwhelmed by real-world, real-life demands (and WotC deadlines!).

Now, hearken all to the second part of Ed's Purple Lady festhalls reply to Kuje:

The Lady's Pleasure is a large, labyrinthine room of tables and booths separated by trees growing in pots, and ornate wooden zigzag folding screens over which vines have been trained. The floor is tight-stretched carpet over tile, and the furniture is all heavy, dark, solid wood.

Sculptures of copper chutes and vessels hung with copper dangle-chimes, through which water endlessly falls (pumped [via seated peddles, like a modern bicycle] in a loop from cellar to top of sculpture, by boys hired for three coppers a night, plus some table leavings to eat, and "a peek at the naked ladies" when they come up from the cellars to get paid), provide background noise to give diners some privacy for their conversations from the next table. Seatings are arranged so the dim, shaded hanging lamps and the various view-blocks provide maximum privacy, from one table to the next.

The dining-hall caters to well-to-do couples and diners desiring to talk quietly or do business. Flirtation and even some sex play is allowed, but must be quiet and discreet (those desiring to "go further" will be invited up a side-stair that only reaches as far as the floor above). Its overall "look" is old money sophistication, cloaked in darkness. Platters are of copper and of wood, with brass cutlery. Tankards are of silver, tallglasses (wine glasses) of crystal, and tables are draped in crimson fineweave linens.

The cuisine consists of generous-helping dishes of fowl, smoked fish, and roasts (boar and beef). All are diced and drenched in various rich cream sauces. The taste is wonderful, the sauces rich and fat-laden, and folk in Westgate generally consider this food both "wonderful" and "as sophisticated as can be had at any great city, anywhere in Faerūn." It indeed tastes wonderful, is far too heavy for healthy eating - - and is about as sophisticated as the nearest road-tavern (only with nicer sauces).

Vegetables tend to be side-bowls of "long beans" and potatoes, diced with apples and fried in flavoured oils.

Meals are accompanied with as many wines as diners care to accept from the gliding servers (deft, quiet, always-dignified and stonefaced men in black jackcoats and hose), and topped off with fresh fruits served with under drizzled melted chocolate sauces, in crystal goblets. The kitchen is staffed by three cooks and five "runners and dicers," and is notable for shared expertise in crafting strongly-flavoured sauces (including the masterful touch of being able to make fish not taste all that "fishy," if desired). There are normally two shifts, from dusk to midnight, and midnight until dawn (the open hours of the Pleasure) of eight servers each. This is normally ample, but when all sixteen tables and six booths are occupied by diners, the place hops (quietly).

The overall appearance of the Purple Lady as a building is old, well-maintained but no longer as elegant as it once was. Its city-wide reputation is for "elegant sensuality," and diners in the Pleasure are certainly aware of what goes on "above." It has its share of matrons who choose to ignore that "regrettable" side of things, but its clientele is dominated by swingers (think Oscar Wilde or P.G. Wodehouse flapper-era [but without the twits] sophistication, only almost entirely sexually "straight") who enjoy flirtation over a light meal where they won't be rushed, and then "some fun upstairs."

A few pimps and spymasters regularly pose as this sort of client in order to meet with "their girls," to talk over assignments and exchange pay.

The Purple Lady is not a dance-house or a venue for brawls or gambling; the staff firmly usher out anyone openly trying to engage in any of the three. The Lady is no longer a tavern per se, although its diners and occupants of the rooms above consume prodigious amounts of drink.

So saith Ed.

Third bit next time, Kuje: Ed tells you about the founding and current staff of the Lady. We're both awaiting your story, by the way.


P.S. Ed says there's movement on the Castlemorn front (but he can add NOTHING more, yet).

July 20, 2005: Hello again, all! Thanks, Si! (You make a very nice "me".) Nynshari, Wooly hath steered you rightly: Ed did write the Candlekeep intro specifically for this site, but it does answer your questions about fees, who can enter, and so on. Read it through, and if it falls short of answering any of your queries, rush right back and post the unaddressed ones, and I'll send them on to Ed.

Who continues his Purple Lady reply to Kuje:

The Purple Lady was founded by Anhala Dreith ("Ann-HAL-ah DREE-thhh") a short, fat, dumpy, wrinkled, wart-covered Tashalan woman of middling years who painstakingly saved the coppers she made from cleaning grand houses in Westgate, starving herself and living in the most squalid (cheapest) rental rooms, until she had enough for a grand house. She "knew" the way to riches was to sell strong drink and sex, and was a good-natured, hardworking, stubborn sort who figured she could get pleasure-girls by paying them fairly and giving them good food and a good place to stay. She was right, and by the time she died (about a dozen years ago) had built the Purple Lady into a mainstay local fixture.

The key to that was getting Onstable Tarth and Ilimar Jathakh, two wanting-to-retire-from-crime "entrepreneurs" of the city to be her first two cooks. They're both dead (of old age, like Anhala) now, too, but they gave the Lady its name, its gimmick (the purple robes worn by the hostess and all the "ladies of the House"), and protection from other criminals of Westgate who would otherwise undoubtedly have squeezed Anhala for protection-coin. The story around the Lady is that Onstable lusted after a tavern dancer in his pimply youth who was tall, long-legged, elegant, and wore vivid purple cowled cloaks and gowns - - and was "bringing his dreams to life" with the name and look he established for the festhall.

Today, the Purple Lady is owned jointly by the chief cook and the senior "Lady of the House."

The chief cook is the mountainously fat and strong "Boar" (Undral) Lauram, a hairy, amiable man who's usually covered in food and sweat. He's a superb seasoner and a kindly master, so his staff is loyal. They view him as their best friend, and his co-proprietor (whom he refers to as "THE Lady" or "the "proprietress") with reverent respect.

The Lady of the House is Ambra Indreth, formerly a personal chambermaid to a Cormaeril aunt. Trained in full etiquette and inured to most pain thanks to her (now dead, of a winterchill fever) former employer's cruelties (jabbing with hatpins and floggings with her walking-sticks), this tall, slender, long-legged, tawny-skinned Damaran is blessed with strikingly vivid emerald eyes and dark lashes, long jet-black hair, and a mouth that's been described as "kissable." She enjoys sex and doesn't mind being bound or whipped, though she's starting to scar and stiffen now, and prefers to take a less and less active role in the pleasures of the house, instead cultivating friendships and spending increasing amounts of time with older men who just want attention, backrubs, the chance to idly caress bared flesh, and a good listener while they ramble. She serves them tea or cordials or whatever they like to drink, and obliges them.

Ambra is utterly fearless, and so CAN'T be intimidated. She's fatalistic (we all die someday, perhaps this is my day) and won't give in to threats. She now has such a wide network of "men who owe her something" that she can swiftly assemble protection for the Purple Lady or herself or any of her staff, and even strike forces to eliminate foes.

Ambra and the Boar have been lovers, and when she wants comforting, or he wants sex, they still meet in the cellars.

So saith Ed.

Last bit tomorrow, Kuje!


July 21, 2005: Hello again, fellow scribes. Herewith, Ed concludes his reply to Kuje:

The Boar presides over the kitchen staff (stolid middle-aged women with names like Reldra and Immra, and darting-fast, ratlike young men rescued from the streets, with names like Orlarrin and Jelst) and the servers (mainly retired bodyguards and hireswords, with names like "Red" and Lorgel, Juth and Morryk, and a surprising range of talents for plumbing and painting and carpentry).

The two hostesses and two doorlars (if illness or injury reduces their numbers, an upstairs lady helps out as hostess, and a server steps in as doorlar) report to Ambra.

The hostesses are tall, dark, exotic-looking Jemlarra (from Nimbral), who's a superb mimic and actress and likes to wear gowns side-leg-slit all the way up to her waist; and Dautha (of Westgate, a honey-huksy-voiced "bright young thing" with blonde hair, ample curves, and a false but superbly-done "innocent" manner; she often "inadvertently" shows flesh, with a completely straight, earnest face).

The senior doorlar is Jharak ("Old Jhaer"), a long-nosed, narrow-chinned, bearded man who chuckles a lot and looks rather piratical. He's a grumbler, but loves jokes and making people laugh, and is very popular among the "family" of staff at the Lady. The junior doorlar is the glib-tongued, smoothly self-controlled, young and handsome Vreldur, from Sembia, who's continually chided by Ambra for his willingness to kiss and grope matronly diners who express an interest in him (Old Jhaer they joke with, but Vreldur they WANT). He may yet be dismissed - - or may become the only upstairs "Lord of the House" in the Purple Lady.

The sixteen Ladies of the House are a wide mixture of human (with one half-elf) women of all shapes and sizes. All enjoy sex, all have wardrobes and training that allow them to act with elegance in formal situations, and all of them love Ambra and try to get along like sisters with each other, regarding her more or less as their mother. Four of them are relatively inexperienced, and Ambra is "gentling" them into full roles.

The most beautiful among the Ladies is the tall, sleek, demure Nathelle, but the most popular is the wildest and most acrobatic, a muscular, young-looking, nipple-pierced and buttock-branded (left cheek, with a leaping dolphin) "nimble nymph" by the name of Lalurra (nickname among the staff only: "Lure-lass"). The sharp-tongued Narauntha can take the most abuse (pain, restraint, and endurance-testing activities) of all the Ladies, and is the busiest. Sharmra looks like a high-class lady, and can act the part, and has two loyal followings of clients: those who want to treat her as a high-class lady, and those who want to play at humiliating her as one.

Two of the Ladies look very much alike, and are sometimes requested by clients as "the Twins." Both are lush-figured (and the same clothing size), short, bouncy brunettes who can adopt a "oh yes" eager manner in an instant, or plead for mercy "because they've been bad." Their names are Maleira and Harbrenla.

So saith Ed, who figures he's given you enough to spin a series of short stories.




July 22, 2005: Hellow, fellow scribes of Realmslore.

To Mumadar Ibn Huzal, Ed makes reply:

Regarding your questions as to what's hidden beneath the roots of the Wealdath AND how Cylyria Dragonbreast rose to rule Berdusk: NDA to both for now, I'm afraid (possible future fiction). Hopefully at GenCon I'll have a chance to remind Phil Athans of something first discussed years back, to see if it's still on the table. There are a lot of new writers getting chances to tell Realms tales, and although most of these will be set in current Realms time, some of them may well reference past history such as these two matters. We'll have to see.

So saith Ed.

I share your sigh.



July 23, 2005: Ahem, dahling, I resemble that remark.

Hi, all.

By the ever-lengthening arm of coincidence, Ed replies to, yes, Blueblade about that long-ago GenCon adventure BB mentioned in an earlier post:

No, sorry, that adventure has never been published, and probably will never be (remember all the NPC roleplaying? that's death to plans of publishing an adventure, always). It wasn't one of those I handed to the RPGA for that reason (in those days, RPGA adventures had to be linear and "the same" from table to table and DM to DM as much as possible, for competition purposes, so Team A and Team B had the same chances of winning points).

Yes, there are indeed tombstones that "open" to allow access to undead-haunted, partially-flooded smugglers' tunnels under parts of Luskan, and there is a local priestess of Loviatar who likes to use a small part of these tunnels as a place for initiations of those attracted to her rituals - - and has definitely bitten off more than she can chew (ahem). Yes, there are "unseen others" involved. And yes, I'll probably resurrect this adventure someday to torment new players (probably two decades after I entertained my first lot of victims). Heh-heh; thanks for the reminder.

So saith Ed.

Oh, BB, you've done it now!



On July 23, 2005 THO said: Hi, Raelan. Well met!

Re Netheril's floating cities, I'm guessing you've misread Ed's reply. Here's the relevant part of it: "Smyther, very few of the floating cities of Netheril were severed mountaintops. I know of only two, out of almost two score floating cities and castles (some floating constructs were little more than a single fortress)."

So, Ed's saying there are almost forty floating cities, but only TWO were "for certain" (and Ed is THE Ultimate Realms Authority) made by severing mountaintops and using those mountaintops as the city base, as opposed to shattering it into rock rubble and fashioning it into building blocks.

Also, it's important to remember that the Netherese archwizards were extremely competitive. There's NO WAY that Proctiv's Move Mountain would have been a spell "shared around" at the time the enclaves were being created. So every enclave creator would have had to "reinvent the wheel" and craft an enclave in their own way.

What Ed was saying was that very few of them were made from intact severed mountaintops (don't be misled by the inclusion of that spell in the PG). Here's a snippet from Ed's notes on the matter, pre-TSR-publication:

"The most popular form of enclave creation was to create a rigid flying base out of something (permanent wall of forces were popular) and bond the archwizard's existing tower, castle, or garden-surrounded mansion onto it."

Always remember, Ed's lore came first, and everyone else embroiders it, sometimes without even having access to the original writings.

love to all,


July 24, 2005: Hello again, fellow lovers of the Realms. Ed of the Greenwood here tackles Reefy's latest questions (with a hearty "You're welcome," Reefy, from us both):

Hi, Reefy. In the Dales, upland Turmish, upland Cormyr, and around Secomber folk tend to live more "in harmony with" the land than in most other places in Faerūn, so what I say here holds true (in general) for all three regions.

The average commoner views clergy of Eldath as helpful and useful: they "clean up" after everyone else, they know the edible berries and the dangerous ones (and all other woodlore, including how to best transplant or seed-harvest and then farm "wild" plants in a tended garden, and how to get along with wild forest beasts) better than almost any other handy source - - and give such information freely, without demanding service or coin or any measure of obedience in return.

As THO said: "Eldathyn (like clergy of Chauntea) are valued and revered as builders and nurturers by most folk." In general, Faerūnians accept people for what they are: if clergy of Eldath withdraw from combat, that's just "what they do." Those who believe in battle and aggression may become exasperated with them in a given situation, but folk in the Realms "believe in" ALL the gods, and so understand their chosen role even if they strongly cleave to other ways and primarily follow other gods. A priest of Talos or Talona might want to destroy the same tree an Eldathyn wants to protect and nurture, and might do violence to both the Eldathyn and the tree-but if relatively sane, that priest wouldn't despise the Eldathyn (who'd be seen more as a respected competitor or opponent than as naive).

I see little conflict between being a Harper and being an Eldathyn, because other Harpers would KNOW that an Eldathyn Harper will readily tear down walls, break doors, spring prisoners out of captivity, hide people, frustrate woodcutters and road-builders (and therefore rulers seeking to strengthen their grip on a territory), help things grow, and things of that sort, but NOT lead armies, burn down trees, poison wells or streams, and so on - - and wouldn't expect or ask the Eldathyn Harper to do something so against their nature. Eldathyn understand natural balances (within what we might call "microsystems," such as the life around a single small forest pond) better than almost any other clergy (clerics of Chauntea understand the same forces and factors just as well, but see a different approach - - less natural, more interventionist - - to using them, whereas an Eldathyn is a "restorative or leave alone").

However, to answer your question directly: if asked to do something as a Harper, by a Harper, that breaks the tenets of faith, almost all Eldathyn would refuse (and the few who would agree are "stepping away from their faith" and will suffer consequences).

An Eldathyn often "fights" by opening a dam and unleashing a downstream flood, luring foes into the jaws and claws of a known predatory monster or into quicksand, and so on. Eldathyn in the Dales don't seek to eradicate farms, but they do want farms not to expand much farther (instead, they'll work with farmers to companion-plant and restore hedgerows and enrich farm yields in return for the farmer avoiding the use of fire in clearing land, and allowing nature to reclaim small areas). In like manner, Eldathyn want woodcutters to fell select trees, with regard for the continued healthy life cycle of the forest, and never clear-cut.

In terms of holy days, Eldathyn venerate the natural happenings of the annual cycle (at different days in different places, of course, when they actually occur): Thaw, Firstflowering, Firstfall (of snow), Lakefreeze, and the solstices. In the Dales, their most holy places are the Handtree (in the carefully-kept-trackless forest southeast of Mistledale, a huge old shadowtop tree split in its youth so that it has five spread-out trunks, cupped as if around a bowl, like huge fingers - - and in its "palm" grow many other smaller trees); Moonfire (a pool in the forest northwest of Shadowdale, where the rays of the moon lance down in a shaft on certain nights, and cause phosphorescent mosses at the bottom of the pool to glow; if harvested and kept damp, these retain a faerie fire for years); and Sweetwater (a spring that rises out of a cleft rock in the forest not far east of The Standing Stone, whose waters purge or neutralize all known poisons, diseases, and rots (including gangrene, mummy rot, and the various fungi that alter living flesh). Eldathyn also pray in every place where they find "Gifts of the Goddess" (useful herbs growing in profusion), and try to keep such locales secret so beings who understand or respect natural balances less than they do won't overharvest and ruin such bounty.

I wish I had more time now to do a proper job of describing and detailing the rituals, holy days, and shrines of this faith (and, hey, all of the others!), but I just don't. Sorry.

I hope these few notes have been of some help.

So saith Ed.

Who is a truly nice man, as you can probably tell from that answer.

love to all,


On July 25, 2005 THO said: Hello all.

To The Sage: your music question is great. Ed is deeply interested in music. His parents were both professional choristers who first met in a choir; years ago, after Ed's mother died, his father later married another chorister, and they're at Balliol College in Oxford right now, starting a summer "guest cathedral choir" tour, Ed's grandmother was a radio opera singer, and Ed and his sisters sang in their youths [the usual: G & S, Bach, Handel, Respighi, and the classical religious standards - - oh, and as I recall, Ed sang Anais the High Priest in a high school production of Jesus Christ, Superstar]. Ed's voice has risen a bit since then (he was hitting Low As, but like most basses, he's losing his lower register and rising into baritone-hood). BTW, he tells me he was a lousy piano player.

However, before I unleash your query on him, have you read his extensive "music in the Realms" reply to The Blind Ranger on page 64 of the 04 Questions for Eddie thread?



July 26, 2005: Hello, all scribes. Elfinblade, Ed will get to your marinating question as soon as he can, but as to your query about the sorts of trees found in the Cormanthor forest:

Hi, Stig! The forest of Cormanthor includes pines, spruces, and cedars, but is primarily deciduous hardwoods. Oak, ash, chestnut, elm, beech, maple, birch, and the Realms trees known as shadowtops, blueleafs, and duskwoods are common. Almost all other varieties of temperate wet climate trees, from ironwood to weeping willows, can be found somewhere in those vast woodlands - - which of course vary from mountain foothills to marsh in topography.

So saith Ed, whose woodchopping scenes are legendary.



July 27, 2005: Hi again, fellow scribes of Candlekeep. Re. that Amazon listing: I agree with George. NDAs lash and scourge me.

I like it, and so doth Ed, but at times 'TIS frustrating. Let me say this much: I'll be surprised if it has that exact title when published (so don't go weighting any content guesses too heavily on that title).

Now, Ed makes brief reply to The Sage:

NDAs (of course) hamper me in speaking too freely about the state of the Church of Cyric in and around Darkhold in 1373 DR, but in general, Cyricists are riven by the same internal strife that afflicts the Dark Sun himself - - but also goaded into a restless, burning desire to DO great things, lashing out against rivals and foes (the church of Bane in particular, but also clergy of Shar, Talos, and to a lesser extent just about anyone else that catches their attention).

In Darkhold in particular, there is a simmering tension and constant vicious petty intrigue (maneuvering but no open bloodshed, thanks to a pact between the Pereghost and the mysterious [and VERY seldom-seen] senior Zhentarim mage known as Hesperdan, who act together to physically hurl anyone who does give in to open violence far from the fortress: actually teleporting them to high above a rocky ridge well west of the fortress, and letting them fall). So Baneites and Cyricists within the Zhentarim still work together, albeit with silken hatred, within the walls of Darkhold and while participating in its defenses (sentinels, wall- and gate-garrisons, and patrols).

Outside the garrison and immediately-patrolled perimeter of that fortress, however, Cyricists and Baneites ARE engaged in open warfare. Not with armies (yet), but in the form of small guerilla-style strike forces (adventuring band size), who vie for control of the wells and camps and caravan stops. Certain local Harpers, meddling Chosen, rangers, and faithful of other deities (such as Malar) delight in performing small, covert acts that set the Cyricists and Baneites once more into open, bloody battle upon each other - - because the two evil faiths are lacerating each other and the Zhentarim, and turning the attention of the Black Network more and more to this internal struggle, and less and less to oppressing the lands around.

This state of affairs can't continue, of course. Everything's escalating. The leader of the Cyricist faction the Pereghost is part of remains mysterious (it's not Dag Zoreth, but rather someone "behind and above" him. It's clear to Elminster that Hesperdan and Manshoon (the one "subservient" to Fzoul) intend to exploit the holy war for their own gain, when it erupts - - and Elminster's coins are on the Baneites, not the Cyricists, whom he decries as "vicious first, far-sighted planners second, whereas the senior Zhent faithful of Bane are schemers first, and vicious second."

So saith Ed.

Who as you can see, couldn't say much.

love to all,


July 27, 2005: Hello, all. Ed gives swift reply to Dargoth's questions:

1)Ed is Power of Faerun a book on psionics in the realms?

2)Ed is Power of Faerun a book on FR religion?

Let me state this, categorically and upon oath: I'm not aware of ever having written, or being about to write, a book entitled "Power of Faerun." I cannot speculate as to what a tome would contain with any more insight than any of you reasonable citizens.

It is within the bounds of possibility - - nay, reasonable probability - - m'luds, that someone who bears a passing resemblance to an upstanding bough of the family tree of Logan, together with your good and voluble servant, have collaborated our divers talents (such as they are) in the production of Realmslore intended for the printed page, to whit public circulation of same. By now all of you should be heartily familiar with Non-Disclosure Agreements and all that they entail, and I must warn you that I shall not entertain an endless series of ever-more-pointed questions designed to lay bear that which should now remain mysterious.

However, to answer thy specific questions, questor Dargoth:

1. No.

2. No.

With the usual caveat that any screed bearing the names Boyd and Greenwood tends to cover many topics in passing, and may include mentions of both of the above. M'luds, I'll try thy indulgences no farther. If I may? Yes, same again, thanks. Don't bother with the glass, just the bottle, thanks...

So saith Ed.

So let the wild speculation veer from this book being "all about" either psionics or religion.

love to all,


July 28, 2005: Hello, all. (Good point, Dargoth; I'll have to remember to type my own "primitive" versions back in.)

Ed makes reply this time to the VERY patient scribe Borch:

Hi, Borch. Shavinar time at last. There is very little extant lore in my private notes, I'm afraid, and you already have the only two published Realmslore sources I'm aware of.

Here then, is "everything" on Shavinar:

The realm of Shavinar was founded in the Year of the Raised Banner (227 DR) by a local adventurer, Orluth Tshahvur (possibly-exaggerated bards' ballads describe him as a "swift sword" who "won many blood victories" and was smart as well as deadly in battle), in an attempt to unite human steadings (ranches and farms) for common defense against marauding monsters, frequent troll raids, and outlaws cast out of more southerly Sword Coast cities.

Tshahvur built a crude keep near what is now Baldur's Gate (and was then a nameless cluster of fisherfolk huts), lured a shipwright fleeing from Calishite persecution to settle, and established what was really a pirate port: he was ruthless with anyone who used violence against anyone else there, but otherwise "welcomed all and let anything pass."

The place became known as Gaeth (the Thorass local word for "rivermouth" or "inlet"), the obvious derivation of the "gate" part of the name "Baldur's Gate" today. Gaeth was home to perhaps 120 people (dwelling in fieldstone-and-thatch or wood-and-thatch huts, situated on three wandering dirt streets) when "Lord Tshahvur of Shavinar" died (in 242 DR), an iron-hard man worn out by almost countless hard riding and harder sword-swinging, as he fought trolls, trolls, and more trolls to keep Shavinar from being overrun.

Orluth's son, the proud and pompous King Arlsar (chiefly remembered for his indefatigable wenching ways and his mirror-bright, gem-studded, ornate "show" suit of plate armour) inherited a kingdom that stretched from the sea-mouth of the northbank River Chionthar along the coast as far north as the Troll Hills, and "four days' ride" east (probably 80 to 100 miles, as we moderns would reckon it). Arlsar abandoned most of his father's hilltop forts (little more than ring-ditches around summits that sported barrow-like "weather shelter" chambers) as too expensive (along with the warriors who defended them; as they fell in fighting, they weren't replaced), and during his short reign Shavinar shrunk - - under persistent troll and outlaw raids - - to less than forty miles across.

Arlsar was murdered by ambitious merchants (who'd begun to settle in Gaeth in some numbers, to carry on all manner of business too unsavoury or too highly taxed to be profitable "back home" in Calimshan and the Tashalar) in 256 DR, and the realm almost disintegrated in the struggle for power that followed.

A cabal of local families viciously poisoned and stabbed various outlander merchants to put forward one of Arlsar's many sons to be king. The glib-tongued, handsome, promise-all Raulovan reigned for four months before one of the Calishite factions ended his pretty words forever - - but a wizard who'd settled on the coastal headlands had grown weary of all the strife, and started spellslaying claimants to the throne and the outlanders promoting them, clearing the way for Arlsar's youngest son, sometimes called "Stonehead" for his terse manner and slow speech: Kondarar.

No one disputes that Kondarar was King in every sense of the manner: just, firm, and a tireless mountain of a man whose strength could overmatch most monsters in blade-to-blade battle, he almost single-handedly kept Shavinar in existence (just as his grandsire had done, by spending his days in the saddle, hewing trolls wherever he found them) from his ascension in late 256 DR to when it all ended in 277 DR, and Shavinar was swept away (Gaeth and all) by trolls and "monsters beyond numbering, all wandering in their own snarling bands."

In short, Shavinar was typical of hundreds of short-lived realms in Faerūn, that have risen and fallen again down the years: they founder if the successors to those who establish them are not stronger - - or far luckier - - than their predecessors.

So saith Ed.

Who's still doggedly forging Realmslore replies.

love to all,


July 29, 2005: Hello, all.

Zandilar, this time Ed replies to this query of yours: "Why is Darmos Lauthyr still in power? He comes across like a madman in the stories I've read that have included cameos by him... And his idea to "unite the church of Tymora" doesn't really seem... well Tymoran to me. Though, perhaps, it is a rather bold idea. Perhaps there's something about him I've missed?"

Ed speaks:

Yes, Darmos IS a zealot, close to frothing madness at times and just intense (a steamroller or bulldozer trundling through the world) most of the rest of the time. Even fellow faithful of Tymora fear him a little, and think him... unsuitable.

However, they also view him as "Touched By Tymora" and hence, in a sense, holy: he shouldn't be gainsaid or prevented in his words and deeds. Like a weapon wielded by the goddess, he may do much damage but also achieve much that more prudent, tolerant, mindful-of-consequences folk could not. The general consensus among other senior clergy of Tymora is that he will be a brief flame that ultimately consumes itself.

HOWEVER, both they and lowlier clergy of Tymora are quite prepared to cooperate with Darmos (even if they do so rolling their eyes behind his back and muttering under their breaths when they're sure he can't hear), because the man visibly radiates the Favor of the Goddess: if he drops something, it will never break. His errors turn into triumphs, he need only casually toss dice or a dart to win the best result - - the man EXUDES luck. For now.

(Note that I said he exudes luck, not tact or prudence, understanding, common sense, regard for laws or rules or customs or courtesies or the needs of others.) He's a walking disaster waiting to happen - - that just doesn't happen. Yet.

If it sounds like I'm hinting like fury that he has a destiny to play that may soon be fulfilled, whether or not you get to see it specifically dealt with in print: bingo. He does. NDAs prevent, and all that.

So saith Ed.

VERY interestingly, too...



On July 30, 2005 THO said: The Srinshee was first seen in the pages of ELMINSTER IN MYTH DRANNOR by Ed Greenwood, most explicitly detailed in the CORMANTHYR sourcebook by Steven Schend, and most recently appeared in two different Realms fiction sources. Your "where is she now?" query should see part of an answer when REALMS OF THE ELVES appears, early next year.



July 30, 2005: Hello, all. My, Faraer, that description looks like it might bear some passing resemblance to a few things my snooping has uncovered, in Ed's scribbled pencil notes on his desk. He's writing SOMETHING with Eric Boyd, I believe. However, he stands by his "that title is news to me" stance, and I haven't yet tried your message on him. There's this strong smell of incipient NDA in the air...

As for the Crimmor character ethnicities: good point, warlockco, and Ed thinks so too.

[Attention all scribes interested in more lore on Crimmor!]

Wherefore here are "expanded with ethnic derivations" character entries for most of the individuals specifically named in Ed's recent Crimmor article:

Aumra Sorntalar: LN female Tashalan human Com3 (hard-working, no-nonsense, "respectable" innkeeper)

Bustran Telbanner: NG male Chondathan human Exp5 (Str 16, a genial, burly carpenter who does a bustling trade making containers for caravan use; he drinks like two dwarves but doesn't show the effects, and secretly hires Jalantha and other escorts to paint them in the nude [becoming an accomplished portrait-painter, of full-length, life-sized depictions, is his secret passion, and he's getting pretty good])

Corlyn ("Corl") Braen, Alandor-Lord and Thaele of Crimmon (mayor): NG male Tethyrian human Rgr4 (pleasant, fair-minded, and well-meaning; burly, florid, swiftly getting both fatter and shrewder)

Darvo "the Dwarf" Lhoadren (sometimes called "Clan Lodestar" by bards, and now some clan members): LG male Great Rift gold dwarf Ftr6/Exp14 (Str 18, Dex 17, a gruff, swift-working smith who loves smithywork challenges, can identify metals at a glance or taste, and takes great pride in his work; secretly loves romantic books, ballads, plays - - and spying on real-life lovers [not sex, but flirtation, courtship, and quarrels]; has much hidden wealth)

Ethram Woazgoaz ("Woazgoaz the Weaver"): NG male Mulan human Exp10 (Dex 15, a wheezing, shuffling, usually humming man, now stooped and bespectacled with age [wears a headband with projecting arrays of curved and layered glass lenses], possessed of a very long, beaklike nose and a constant tic or habit of blinking; tends to be cynical but soft-spoken and forgiving, and is beloved by older female patrons, who feel safe and comfortable in his friendly presence; he serves teas and little nutcakes of his own making to his regulars, who often spend several hours a day in his shop, where he primarily sells little mats, shawls, and bed-curtains)

Imaego Invarr: LN male Calishite human Exp6 (well-respected, loves-his-work, tireless "always scuttling" butcher who also slaughters and prepares bulk meats by smoking and marinating; a practised hurler of knives and cleavers, with which he dispatches rats and meat-stealing dogs and thieves; so successful that he's quietly buying up Crimman and Athkatlan warehouses and rooming houses)

Jalantha Truard: CG female Tethyrian human Exp2 (good-looking, lushly-proportioned, vivacious "hostess," who makes a good living organizing revels - - and providing escorts and dancers thereat, including herself - - for hard-working Crimmans who lack the time or skills to arrange such entertainments themselves; on the side, concocts cheap scents and sells them cheaply in secondhand bottles)

Lady Lamia Crytrapper: NG female Tethyrian human Rgr6 (Int 17, a kindly, aging, shrewd and worldly country-loving lady of a prominent Amnian family; weathered and hearty, who loves Crimmor and has a long history in the city, sponsoring many minstrels and start-up businesses [particularly women-only, and concerns run by widows]; knows where many "skeletons are buried" and can wield great influence when she wants to)

Mandivvur Taeruld: LN male Tethyrian human Exp12 (sage, now deceased)

Melgor Darsander: NE male Vaasan human Rog3/Exp11 (Str 16, Dex 16, a sly, smiling crafter of expensive, cunning locks and fastenings; never lets slip any trade secrets or information about clients, but enjoys flamboyant revelry and hired lasses)

Mikaal Krimmevol: NG male Tethyrian human Wiz9/Rog2 (Dex 17, Int 17, Wis 17, Cha 18, consummate actor; is the lover of Tehrinna and best friend of the mayor, is also (secretly) the herald Sable; handsome and merry, plays the role of a wealthy idle hedonist; of a prominent Amnian family)

Rhieldra Zoldaftel: LG female Tashalan human Sor2 (unmarried daughter of Zan, and capable business manager of his wagonmaking business; quiet, "sees all," has glossy long black hair and pale good looks; dreams of rising to respectable prominence, and being like Lady Crytrapper in her "graying years")

Tehrinna "the Towering" Shuldar: NG female Illuskan human Ftr5 (Str18, red-haired, 7' tall; an adventuress growing restless in Crimmor, but unwilling to part from her lover Mikaal; alert, forceful, beautiful, and usually well-armed, even if apparently weaponless; forgets nothing, and "gets even" though she tries not to ever visibly lose her temper; loves an occasional dockside brawl)

Yauncel Darth: NG male Damaran human Exp7 (Int 18, Wis 17; tall and scrawny, near-sighted and murmuring; a sage whose library is small but whose learning is fairly close to this: Knowledge (arcana) +16; Knowledge (architecture and engineering) +18; Knowledge (geography) +18; Knowledge (history) +16; Knowledge (local) +18; Knowledge (nature) +16)

Lady Zharnn Ophal: CE female Tethyrian human Rog7 (Int 16, Wis 16, Cha 16, ruthless, icy-tempered, scheming, and oh-so-refined; a middle-aged woman possessed of all the good looks money can buy; delights in subtly exercising her influence [reassuring herself it remains strong and far-reaching]; seeks to eliminate the mayor and install her own puppet; of a prominent Amnian family)

Zan Zoldaftel: LG male Tashalan human Ftr2/Exp6 (Str 18, Con 17, aging but still-tireless and matchless famous wagonmaker; gruff, has many-times-broken fingers, seems to never sleep but always to be striding around his noisy wagonworks)

Zorn Selvyn: LG male Durpari human Ftr2/Exp7 (Str 18, Dex 16, Con 16, respected and always-busy finesmith; terse and devoted to his work, paying little attention to events in, and gossip of, the wider Realms)

Ed apologizes for not stuffing this level of detail into all of the NPCs presented in that article; the wordcount restriction necessitated lots of "mouse type" footnotes and lore omissions and skimping, to make room for the graphic elements DRAGON wanted. Watch the WotC website, later this year, for a longer (but still what Ed considers "light introductory") treatment of a different Faerūnian locale.

love to all,


July 30, 2005: Dearest Sage,

Apropos of your comments re. "crunch," I queried Ed, and his reply appears hereafter:

Aimed at players as much as DMs, techniques and considerations for character advancement in the setting, not in stats, mechanics put in a short Appendix at the end, and the biggest caution of all: I say again, trust neither the title nor the blurb.

In other words, look at the published work, and then decide. I know that I've been writing lore (and fiction) these last few months, not game mechanics (so yes, there will certainly be "substantial Realmslore" [do Boyd & Greenwood deliver anything else?]. Techniques and considerations, remember, work at 1st level, not just 21st. For epic-level mechanics, the game already has the EPIC LEVEL HANDBOOK.

So saith Ed.

So, Sage, what say?



On July 30, 2005 THO said: Ioulaum, I'm sure the various war-leaders want to see organized, effective battle tactics, too. However, if you look at the example you cited, it was a deliberate example of "fog of war," and far more realistic. (Believe me, I've been in a real war zone; generals who use pretty maps and "look down from above" are generally living in an even greater fantasy world than the Realms is!)

Specifically, that force was fighting a ground war against goblins and orcs, not expecting to face the Devil Dragon there and then. If you want to see a novel that deals with long, detailed battle scenes from a tactical level, be aware that most WotC editors think these will sell far less well (smaller audience appeal) than doing narrow-focus scenes on individual heroes and villains. Traditional sales figures bear this out.



July 31, 2005: Hello, all. Ed makes reply to Elfinblade's Calimport-based query: "... about methods and ingredients for marinating meat and/or fish. Have you got any local (realmsian) herbs and oils used in marinating?"

Ed speaks:

Hi, Stig! Most meat in the Realms is marinated simply and cheaply, in stale beer (with sugar, garlic, salt, and mustard, or the cook's preferred handful of herbs, to taste) or fruit juices (most often the wet "mash" of grapeskins left over after grapes have been pressed and the fluid poured off for winemaking). Meat that's been salted to preserve it is soaked overnight, and the water then poured off, to "cut" its saltiness. Lamb and boar are often scored, and cloves or garlic buds thrust into the slits, before cooking. The outsides of most meats are "painted" with a mix of powdered spices (sages, rosemary, et al) before being spit-roasted, and Calishite cooks even add certain (secrets of the cook; most are tinctures or "tissanes" [teas] made from rose petals or the leaves and petals of other flowers) substances to the hearth-coals so the aromatic smoke will permeate the meat as it's roasting. Blood from slaughtered animals is always saved to be cooked as "drippings" or used in making gravies (sometimes with a few drops of vinegar added to prevent congealing).

In other words, all read-world stuff.

In Calimshan, the word "asarth" (almost always shortened to just "sarth") means what modern real-world cooks use the word "sauté" for: cooking in oil or butter to which seasonings have been added. Diced onions, leeks, garlic, chives, and ginger, and the leaves of limes, basil, and bay are familiar staples among those seasonings, and the liquid they and the meat are introduced into is often local butter added to oil (often olive or sesame) into which a little wine (red) or sugary liqueur is stirred. It's a great way to use up "ends at the bottom of bottles."

Herbcraft and cookery in the Realms is as complex and far-reaching as real-world herblore and cuisine (I could write a long bookshelf of tomes, but WotC wouldn't want me to and life is, yes, too short), but to give you a swift answer specific to Calimshan:

Three other oils are locally popular in cooking: asaev (a strong-smelling, translucent amber oil derived from crushing fish, just as real-world pilchards were harvested for their oil), darsreed (a VERY greasy, water-repellent oil derived from boiling down certain small offshore squids (taken in deck-filling heaps by Calishite fisherfolk in drag-nets), and subbru, gleaned from some very bitter nuts about the size and hue of real-world macadamias (in the same way as peanut oil is gleaned in the real world).

Two additional Faerūnian seasonings are very popular in Calimshan: orthin and talbud. Orthin is an okra-like vegetable (cheap and grown in great abundance in northern Calimshan, where it flourishes in ditches and along the verges of cart-tracks, or the walls of buildings, as a "wild weed" spreading vine. Plucked from the vine, the "daggers" of orthin are dried to yield a smoky-flavored but scorching hot "flame" like a jalapeno pepper. Diced fine or powdered for more subtlety, these flames are stirred into most marinades and sarths.

Talbud is the mashed result of certain (otherwise bitter, fibrous, and inedible) river-reeds that freshwater inland turtles in Calimshan instinctively eat to "keep themselves regular." In other words, they chew the greens into shreds that pass through them as slimy little balls that have a very pleasant, flavourful taste. How someone first thought to try to eat them, only the Watching Gods know. Talbud thickens water or wine into a rich broth, bringing out the tastes of everything else in the broth. Radishes soak up this rich taste when (and only when) talbud is present, and can be ladled out of a hearth-simmer broth and sold by themselves as an inexpensive, satisfying, very popular street snack (a heaping handful for 1 cp is a daily "full meal" for many servants).

Talbud is expensive and used sparingly, because Calishites also love to eat turtles (usually in a thick stew), so there's never enough talbud to go around, even with turtles being reared in controlled ponds.

So there's a quick answer. Palm oil is also known in Calimshan but used more for waterproofing and preserving (by keeping air away from something it's applied, in an unbroken coating) more than for cookery. I'd better stop now, because more and more things keep crowding into my memory, and I don't know precisely where in my huge, dark basement the lore-notes that go with them are!

So saith Ed.

And there you have it (tummy rumbling sigh).

love to all,


August 1, 2005: Hello again, fellow scribes of Realmslore. To Jamallo Kreen, Ed makes reply to this query of thine: Is there an overlap between the ranks of the watchlords "and the Hidden Lords, or are they kept separate? I'm curious to know if Waterdeep, a merchant state with a strong military, deliberately excludes Watchlords from the Hidden Lords, or tries to have a representative one among them, since they are appointed by the Open Lord?... The Hidden Lords are supposed to be a representative cross-section of the City, but some may want to exclude that particular section for fear of a coup or corruption."

Ed speaks:

There's no prohibition on personnel of the Watch or the Guard being Hidden Lords (the Open Lord is of course ceremonial head of both, and in the time of Piergeiron, a capable "real" head of both, too), but in practise no actively serving members of either the Watch or the Guard tend to be made Masked Lords. Elaine Cunningham and I have written an about-to-be-released novel, CITY OF SPLENDORS, that touches on some discussion of who may be, or should be, a Lord of Waterdeep (NDAs forbid more specific information from my quill here and now), but the thinking is that the Hidden Lords should be a counterbalance against those who wield daily authority in the streets, and should represent most strongly those who don't get a strong voice in Waterdhavian society (courtesans and housemaids and other workers who don't have guilds, housewives, independent merchants and moneylenders, widows of the wealthy, shunned members of the nobility (the "drones" who may have wealth enough to live in idleness, but who are shut out of running or speaking for their families) - - and so on.

Perhaps it's most accurate to say it's frowned upon, among the Lords, to admit to their ranks members of the military or police, high-ranking officers in particular. To put it in real-world terms, if a club open only to janitors who clean large bank buildings was looking for a president, they'd be very unlikely to choose the president or vice-president of any bank (and very uneasy if such a personage was somehow installed in their presidency). Waterdeep views lawkeepers as necessary evils, and money (and the freewheeling acquisition of same) as "lord of all," rather than glorifying its military strength or preparedness, or thinking thoughts of empire. The flag-waving, proud-of-our-strong-military stuff that, say, the modern real-world USA indulges in would puzzle a Waterdhavian (to them, that's what Tethyr and Luskan and Calimshan do, not "we sensible coin-chasers").

So saith Ed.

Another little piece of Realmslore slides deftly into place. (*CLICK*)



August 2, 2005: Hello, all scribes!

Asgetrion, Ed and I both say: glad you liked ELMINSTER'S DAUGHTER! Hope you've found the Best of Eddie book, and don't miss "The Night Tymora Sneezed" on the WotC website, to keep you going until CITY OF SPLENDORS comes out. And I guess I already am our Lhaera, though there's no way I'm adopting the mincing lisp and flouncing... (I would, however, climb into Elminster's bed any time he so much as hinted!)

I, too, love Ed's habit of pouring "Realmslore colour" into his fiction, to make it truly seem real. As for your questions about hamlets and villages and the like, Ed's reply to Torkwaret on page 16 of this 2005 thread should give you a general picture: every settlement has a well, but not necessarily a mill. However, folk seldom have to travel more than half a day to mill things (or they'd not get back before dark).

Here's Ed's reply about mills:

Most of the settled Realms is well-watered, but where there are no water-driven mills, windmills are one method, but far more common is a horsepower mill: a grinding capstan of stone wheels on a circular stone track, moved by pushing on the spoke-timbers of a rotating upright axle (or, in the case of some very old surviving ones in larger southern cities, huge stone wheels that a mule actually "walks inside" like a circular treadmill).

One example of a capstan or horsepower mill can be seen early in the first Conan movie: the affair Conan is chained to, trudging around and around, as we see him go from boy to young man. In the Realms, these are usually worked not by human-power (except in slave-owning areas of the Shining South, such as monster-ruled Veldorn), but rather by mules, donkeys, horses, or oxen: you bring your own team (pulling your cart of grainsacks), unhitch them, hitch them to the capstan-beams (the "spokes"), and set them to work.

A few Realms cities and towns (those on rivers near seacoasts, where a regular tide pushes water temporarily upriver) also have tidal mills. These inefficient affairs are prone to storm-pounding water damage to sluices, "pond" sides, and wheels, also tend to silt up and have to be "dug out again" regularly, and of course are limited to working when the tides dictate. A tidal mill is simply some sort of pond or water enclosure, sometimes dug right out of the river mud, in which rising tidal waters are collected, trapped behind a barrier (just as a drainplug prevents water running out of a bathtub), and after the tide recedes and everything is left "high and muddy," the water is let out through a sluice channel to turn the millwheels - - which are often connected via long axle-spars to shore (or rather stone quay ) -based grinding wheels.

So saith Ed.

He'll be back with your "who rules the little bits?" reply tomorrow.



August 3, 2005: Well met again, scribes of Realmslore. I bring you Ed's second reply to Asgetrion's question: "Who is "the local authority" in all those small settlements in Cormyr? Most of them do not have a local lord given in any accessory, so are there any 'mayors' or 'village elders' who hold power in the Crown's name? Or, in case there are no significant central figures, maybe the purple dragon patrols deal with any major issues?"

Ed speaks:

Yes, small settlements in Cormyr are policed by regularly-rotated Purple Dragon patrols (at the beginning of CROWN OF FIRE, we see the barracks in one such border settlement). A "full strength" Purple Dragon posting in a border or dangerous area is two shifts of twelve Purple Dragons each; this is sometimes reduced to eight per shift in "downland" or "safe" postings.

However, the Purple Dragons don't "rule" the settlement per se (though they hold the real authority to arrest, apply Crown law, and otherwise order folk around). There are always village elders, and these are either termed "Speakers" (if recognized as the leader of the place by acclamation) or "Mayors" (if elected by all landowners, in a competition; the norm in any place of over 100 people or so). Their duties include informing all citizens of changes in laws and suspected local transgressions against the laws, post all Crown proclamations, and maintaining stabling and shelter for visiting heralds, royal envoys (and envoys from the nearest local lord), War Wizards, and Purple Dragon commanders - - as well as reporting regularly to all of the people they must provide shelter for. To do their jobs properly, most Speakers or Mayors employ mounted message-riders of their own, so they can send news out in a timely manner instead of just waiting for the next "official" to stop by and demand lodging.

Both mayors and speakers tend to be the heads (or the most outgoing and respected members) of locally-prominent families. They may have bodyguards who act as sheriffs (arresting and jailing, escorting and warning) "in town" when Purple Dragons are absent or otherwise occupied.

All of the sorts of people (listed above) that mayors and speakers must provide shelter for can serve as temporary judges and/or prisoner escorts if THEY (not the mayor or speaker) desire to - - and yes, they may convey, or in their absence Purple Dragons or escorts arranged by the mayor or speaker may, convey miscreants or requests for tricky legal rulings to the nearest local lord (so yes, villagers of the hamlet of Gorthin DO turn to the lord of Wheloon for "Crown law").

Nobles seldom act as mayors or speakers, but often try to influence such officials (and when lawkeepers come calling on them, said nobles almost always demand special treatment because of their noble status; remember from my discussions with Jerryd in this thread that most noble households have a resident War Wizard, keeping watch over the nobles). Most nobles prefer to avoid the disputes and time-wasting duties of local rule, and the local disfavour anyone trying to do such jobs inevitably earns in the eyes of some - - and it's very handy to have someone else do all of that, and just invite him up to the mansion for a friendly meal and chat whenever you want to sway him to do something in your favour.

So saith Ed.

Spinning Realmslore wherever he goes. Apropos of which, here's ANOTHER swift reply (this time to The Sage), in the matter of the Witch Lords:

I would love to say more about the Witch Lords, but I'm afraid there's a firm, hard, still-shiny NDA forbidding me to utter a syllable. Which in itself should, of course, tell you something. :}

Let me be tauntingly mysterious for a moment and say that at least four scribes of Candlekeep (not counting my lovely Lady Hooded, of course) know more. I'm not going to identify them to you, of course. :}

Ah, that's my naughty Ed!

More Realmslore tomorrow!

love to all,


August 4, 2005: Hi again, scribes. Well said, Asgetrion. To quote Spider Robinson: "Never piss off a librarian. They are the Secret Masters of the universe: they CONTROL INFORMATION!!!!"


This time around, Ed undertakes to answer Elfinblade and now Jamallo Kreen on Faerūnian tea and coffee matters:

Unlike coffee, few teas in the Realms are shipped far, or sold for high prices (though there are "clubs" of tea-fanciers in Athkatla, Calimport, and other rich cities, of wealthy connoisseurs who'll pay much for favourite blends).

This isn't because tea isn't popular or well thought of. It's because the majority of teas in the Realms are what we modern real-world sorts call "tissanes" or "infusions" or (for the bulk of them) "herbal teas." In other words, boilings of the leaves of various plants other than 'tea.' Moreover, the vast majority of teas are made from local wild plants, and travelers in the Realms expect teas to vary in taste from place to place - - so not a lot of long-distance shipping goes on. Within a realm, yes, and from hinterlands into a city, but most crofters and other country folk view tea as something they glean themselves, from wild bushes they (or their children) can "pluck leaves from" as opportunity and need arises. The leaves are usually kept in metal coffers with "sticky-rim" inner lips of the lids, to keep air out (and unlike our real world in past times, the container is worth a lot more than the tea!).

Most teas are made by pouring boiling water onto a container full of leaves, and then straining the leaves out (often for re-use, after "drying on a shield in the sun," in the poorest households, though no one brews entirely with re-used leaves; instead, they add a little to fresh leaves). The tea is ALWAYS drunk clear, never with milk. However, Jamallo's "Murky brew made from powdered leaves whisked in a bowl" is the norm in the Shining South, and in ports where travelers from many places mix, all sorts of tea-making habits and techniques are used and copied. Tea in most dining-houses (restaurants) replaces the real-world "dusty glass of water on the table."

Jamallo, coffee is consumed in a great variety of ways in Faerūn, from a thick black near-syrup stirred into sweet liqueurs in Sembia and Chessenta, to roasted beans eaten whole, to the more familiar brew (drunk black, sometimes with medicines or mint leaves sprinkled over the surface, and "stewed in a pot over a fire or hearth," and hence much stronger than what most of we real-world moderns are used to). The brew is the most popular method in Calimshan, the Tashalar, the Heartlands and the North, but peddlers, explorers, and adventurers often chew the beans as they travel.

I answered Elfinblade earlier about the coffee trade [THO note: see Page 18 of this 05 thread], but let it be said that except for places that have docking or gate-entry fees levied by the conveyance (a wagon, or a ship), no one levies import or export duties on tea ("Tea? TEA? Pass, merchant, and may you know better fortune within than to have to trade in tea!"). Even if you showed up with a caravan-full, you'd not be charged duty (though you might thereafter be watched, as a madman or a liar actually "up to something else"). And yes, Stig, I've not forgotten the other trade-goods in your initial question, and WILL get to them. Sometime. I promise.

So saith Ed.

Weary but unbowed, as he labours mightily to bring forth Realmslore galore from too many and too secret projects to share with you now.

love to all,


August 5, 2005: Hello, all. Ed makes reply to Jamallo Kreen on the topic of tomb-entering and tomb-robbing:

Your DM, of course, may disagree, but my take on this topic is that the gods of Mulhorand would NOT bring down undead or curses upon an intruder into a tomb who merely copied inscriptions and took nothing, UNLESS said intruder engaged in much deliberate vandalism. If things were broken accidentally, the result would probably be terrifying nightmares until offerings were made, or another act of atonement undertaken (by obeying a priest of the right faith, consulted on the matter). Said nightmares would depict the "guilty intruder" making atonement as a way out of being stalked by implacable, unstoppable undead, and depict the intruder resealing or at least re-warding the tomb. Favorable dream-visions (perhaps even directing the way to a hidden treasure) might be sent to someone who recovered a lost relic and took it straight to a priest or temple rather than seeking to sell it or bargain with it, IF AND ONLY IF a deity wanted that relic "back in circulation."

In like manner, Thoth and Isis (and Mystra and Azuth) may be pleased if a tomb intruder brings forth their own copies of inscriptions, scrolls, and spellbooks - - but Nephthys (as Protector of the Dead) would NOT be, and most interred wizards and priests are protected by curses, wards, or triggered-by-intrusion spells that don't care a whit about the motives of intruders, only about the act of their intrusion, and will lash out with whatever effectiveness they still possess. If the intruder survives, they should expext lectures, demands for offerings, and perhaps floggings from clergy of Nephthys (minimized if they repent, come bearing offerings before priests see them and demand such, and agree very politely or abjectly to perform acts of atonement). Intruders who don't worship Nephthys needn't go to such lengths, but had better take care to keep themselves out of situations where they need the aid or assistance (e.g. healing) of clergy of that goddess; their reception will be stony (and yes, Nephthys does communicate the faces and names of tomb intruders to priests as they pray before altars, or in their dreams); the clergy don't have to discover that a tomb has been entered, and by whom, for themselves.

So saith Ed, Master of Realmslore.



August 6, 2005: Hi, all! It's housekeeping time again, in which Ed will quickly deal with (or defer) a number of queries, in no particular order:

To Jamallo Kreen, re. Jergal: He certainly "has assured his continued survival by being flexible enough to let would-be usurpers have his portfolio and then stepping in when they "die,"" as you quite correctly observe, but as to what he is, and his motives: woops, bright, shiny new NDA.

To Borch, yes, I'm afraid your Cloak Wood query has run into NDA troubles, and Lathtarl's Lantern has run into new ones!!

However, I WON'T forget them, and live under the eternal flappingbanner of hope (as they say). I beg your patience some while longer. At least you got Shavinar. (sigh)

To Gareth Yaztromo: I doubt I'll ever have time to write an autobiography, the way my writing life is racing along these past two decades! And yes, certainly I'll watch Narnia (again, if I have time!). I feel like the Red Queen, only without a crown and wearing a worse dress! :}

To Asgetrion: I, too, fervently wish to be involved in a Cormyr regional sourcebook, if such a thing ever comes to pass. I hope my previous postings covered your heralds queries, because they're now NDA-ed, which is a cute way of saying something is forthcoming, sometime, in some form, that covers them. I'll answer you about Cormyrean guilds, and local lords versus the nobility, as soon as I can.

To Melfius: you asked about Dolblunde. You have UNDERDARK, and have read the entry on page 143 therein, right?

So saith Ed.

Who'll return next time with more meaty Realmslore.



August 7, 2005: Hello, all. I bring Ed of the Greenwood's reply to Asgetrion in the matter of drainpipes:

Well met again! There's a huge variety of rainwater-channeling architecture from place to place in the Realms. For instance, in the Sword Coast and Moonsea North areas, log buildings with roofs made of log, moss-chink, slather-mud, and wood shingle or shake (or combinations of same), tend to have nothing more than "corner tongues," (projecting wooden logs carved with snallow channels down the length of their upper surfaces) which "shoot" water away from the house to (try to) prevent flooding inside.

Grander buildings, of stone (the ones with the corner gargoyles made of stone you mention), tend to have tile, tar-sealed slate or even metal-plate-over-log roofs, descending to metal gutters ("eavestroughs," some modern real-worlders would say) that channel water to the corners, and those gargoyles do the same "spit out the water from the corner" job that the corner tongues mentioned above do.

Many buildings in Waterdeep and more southerly cities have rainwater cisterns on the roof, to collect water and use it for washing. City buildings also have the "downspout" gutters you refer to, and it's very rare, except in the most elaborate temple/abbey architecture, to find buildings outside cities that have such features.

Most downspouts are of tile sections, sealed with a cement of sorts (mud and lime mix), if in the warm South, where hard feezes are infrequent. In castles everywhere, they tend to be large stone-lined shafts, made waterproof with cement. In cities from Tethyr to Luskan, you'll find iron downspouts and gutters, and also downspouts and gutters made of hollowed-out stone sections (sealed with cement), and on poorer buildings, you'll find logs, or bound-together log sections (again, sealed with cement) serving as downspouts and gutters (these of course seldom last more than a season without preservative spells, no matter how thickly they're tarred).

Nobles and the wealthy may use sculpted stone, but are especially fond of ornately-cast, fanciful metal pipes (sections that bolt together, are sealed with pitch or cement inside by means of long daubing-paddles), and on the outside are shaped to resemble giant scaled serpents, dragons, and the like.

Despite tavern-tales, few external downpipes are strong enough to take the weight of climbing thieves, lovers, eloping or fleeing folk, servants bearing secret messages, or eavesdropping kings. :}

So saith Ed.

Who hopes to return with more Realmslore soon.

love to all,


August 8, 2005: Hello again, all. I bring Ed's reply to webmanus in some matters of Daggerdale:

Hi, Manuel. Daggerdale has been fought over so much in recent years, and so depopulated in the process, that there's plenty of good farmland to go around, and right now land is owned more or less by occupying it. There's no central taxation service (though there are, for example, copper-piece-per-transaction taxes levied in Dagger Falls), nor any surviving, coherent Book of Laws. Indeed, no taxes are payable just for owning farmland, and the Morns do indeed live off the eggs, poultry, livestock, and food crops their own lands yield.

And yes, a family that is farming land would indeed own it. Randal Morn has never been a feudal lord, and neither were his predecessors (some tried to ASSUME rights they did not in law or tradition have, but their rules didn't last long, and can be viewed more or less as a "might makes right" approach). So neither the lord nor a local officer of the lord "owns" or "controls" anyone's land but their own (if they need to put a road through an area, they'll use their might-of-arms to force the landowner to agree, and pay that landowner compensation - - though a Zhentarim "lord," of course, would never pay compensation, and would probably just kill anyone who disagreed with the road-building, or defied his will in any other way).

Of course a family could rent out land to tenant farmers, and your safety (due to location) argument is, as you say, the only reason for tenants to accept rather than just taking possession of a vacant farm and clearing the overgrowth.

I don't see any roving tax collectors yet (though there certainly were in the past, and the Zhents DID levy monthly taxes, mainly paid in food), but I do see Randal's men riding in patrols around Daggerdale, and the locals being obligated to feed, water, and shelter them and their mounts (with no coins changing hands at all, and Randal's men pitching in to help with tasks beyond the farmers, like bending their backs to lift a wagon while a new axle is fitted to it).

Feel free to change these details to suit your own campaign, of course. I hope this helps.

So saith Ed.

Who's charging ahead on creating still more Realmslore for us all.



On August 8, THO said: In the "home" Realms campaign, Ed has always used three terms: "the North" (collective everywhere in Faerun north of the Inner Sea and north of Waterdeep, respectively); "the Sword Coast North," and "the Moonsea North."

TSR and WotC, over the years, have gone all over the place on their usage, but Ed has always stuck to the above.



On August 8, 2005 THO said: A Deepspawn duplicates a particular orc (or human, or whatever) it has devoured: endless copies of exactly the same creature. They "come alive" knowing their bodies and how to use them (a human trained with a longsword could use it just as before death), but without prior memories (wizards don't have memorized spells, and human copy A meeting human copy B might say: "You look a lot like my reflection in yon pool," but WOULDN'T immediately say: "Hey, you're me!"

If that helps. That's the way Ed (who created Deepspawn) has always run them, anyway. We Knights ran into quite a few of them.


On August 10, 2005 THO said: And so does Ed. He had a beholder colony (in a human castle) that had done just that, and kept deepspawn close-guarded in some of the lower chambers, spewing out endless weak young beholders to serve as guards, scouts ("want food? go hunt for it!") and ultimately as food for the more powerful senior beholders. The deepspawn had also eaten adventurers, and spewed THEM out as food (and the beholders used them as decoys, when later adventurers came exploring). Deadly.



August 9,2005: Hello again, all. Wooly: I understand. Sigh. How politically correct we've all become.

Now, Ed seeks to kill two birds with one stone, as the old saying goes, by tackling Erik Scott de Bie's questions {"What's been your experience adapting an actual campaign -- or characters from an actual campaign -- into fiction? I ask this in the context of the KoMD trilogy, of course, which I was under the impression involves some actual PCs and (perhaps) actual gameplay. Can you tell us which of the characters in said trilogy were PCs? Perhaps a few cautious (or flagrant, as well) remarks on the personality / quirks of the players vs. their characters?"} and Arlenion's question "Could you share a glimpse of the sort of intrigues that were in your campaign at one specific instant or another? I am more curious about the number of such plots and the organizations involved in them rather than the details of the plots."

Erik, quickly: yes this has all been asked before, but that's fine, and yes I was involved in some of the adventures Ed will be fictionally covering in the Knights trilogy, HOWEVER: see his reply below.

Ed speaks:

I've leaped on these questions because answering them requires no research or Realmslore creation, because they are interesting topics, and because I don't want to leave them unaddressed as I fall silent for a few days (travelling).

First, the simplest to answer questions: the Knight trilogy involves, yes, actual PCs (all of the "core" Knights were PCs except Islif, Illistyl, and Mourngrym, and all of my players "borrowed" those three from time to time, to roleplay while their own characters were elsewhere, or recovering, and so on). All of my players are superb roleplayers and adequate to great actors, so although they tended to craft characters they liked, and that therefore shared some of their real-life personality traits, Rathan wasn't and isn't a copy or caricature of Andrew Dewar (for example). In some cases (Torm), the character is perhaps what the player would LOVE to be, in a world with no consequences, but doesn't quite really dare to be. But it's always a mistake to equate the Knights characters with the personalities of those who play them (they're related, but not identical).

However, the Knights trilogy doesn't fictionalize actual gameplay. The reasons for this have to do with the sort of players I have, and therefore the nature of play in the "home" Realms campaign, versus the needs of fiction (to have a book small enough you can lift it, that tells a coherent narrative that arrives at some sort of resolution, involving few enough characters that the editor won't go foaming mad even before readers start to groan).

Arlenion's question hits at the heart of why I can't just take almost thirty years of roleplaying with the same characters (or even just selected highlights) and boil it down into three books: the subplots. By my deliberate design and my players' preferences, play in the Realms has always featured three things:

1. Characters having the freedom to "do their own things." That's why I put together this large and very detailed setting: so I really could allow them the freedom to choose to stroll north today, instead of returning to that mystery in the alley off south that they stumbled onto yesterday. My players (of different character classes, remember, with different interests and obligations - - MY priests are under constant pressure from their bosses in the church hierarchy to do this, that, and the other) were continuously pursuing their own little "pet" side-projects (notably investments and trade negotiations) as well as adventuring as the Knights.

2. The Realms Unfolding: I kept a constant flow of "current events" (and rumors) flowing past my players' ears, to make the Realms seem alive, to hand the players a rich selection of adventuring and roleplaying opportunities,.and to continually introduce new NPCs (that "cast of thousands" so many of my editors loved to hate).

3. Subplots and intrigues. I love them, and so do my players. Mysteries large and small, little secrets and big ones, clever and sinister behind-the-scenes villains (if * I * was writing Sherlock Holmes, his landlady would eventually turn out to be a sweetly manipulative crime-boss, hiding behind his notoriety and proximity), power groups galore... I tried to keep my players so busy that their characters would have a hard time finding enough time to go off adventuring, and there were seldom less than a dozen subplots "in play" on their platters at any one time.

For example...

So saith Ed.

I've cut him off here so as not to run into the post-size-limit, and I'll provide his example tomorrow. Erik, as a Realms writer, you can see the tough time you'd have trying to sneak a story past Phil with more than, say, three subplots at most. Realmsplay involving we Knights doesn't form a straight-ahead, linear "and then this happened, and then this, so we" narrative, but rather goes "all over the place," simultaneously. I love it; I've never encountered a campaign setting half as rich. That's why experiencing Ed as a DM at a convention, running a single session, is nothing like Ed as our DM: as a player at a con, usually sharing the table with strangers, you just can't enjoy the "real life" feeling we enjoy.

love to all,

August 10, 2005: Hi again, fellow scribes. Here's the second half of Ed's reply (the subplots examples), and words from him to Asgetrion, too.

As the Bearded Creator mentioned in his last post, he's going to fall silent for a few days (though I'm guessing he'll sneak one more reply to me, on the proverbial way out the door), travelling, and then of course promptly fall silent again for GenCon Indy (followed swiftly by the Canadian National Gaming Expo in Toronto). Ah, well, we can't have him ALL to ourselves!

Here's Ed:

Asgetrion, I'm glad you liked SILVERFALL. It was great to read your post and "hear" your sheer delight. That book was another of my "Eddie runs out of room to wind things up properly" learning process experiments, and I fretted at the editorial "baton-passing" restriction, too, that kept me having to hand the narrative on to the next Sister and not let the earlier ones stay in the picture - - but boy, did I have FUN writing it, and it sounds like you had fun reading it, too! (Lady Shar notwithstanding! Which reminds me: I was once invited to a convention in Hannover, and there met a local prostitute who wore black ankle-length cloaks, called herself "Lady Shar," and was a big Realms fan who wanted to, ahem, "thank" me; too bad the tattered remnants of gentlemanship yet cling to me).

Ahem again.

[THO note: Aren't you going to tell them all about the Ladies of Loviatar, at GenCon? THAT raised even my eyebrows, and when two of them kissed each other while whipping each other I thought that cop was going to, um, have a moment of extreme personal release! No? You're not? Well, then, I'll just have to go ahead and post the second bit of your answer from yesterday, that I so cruelly chopped off. ]

For example, to select a time at random, let's pick a particular play session not long after the Knights are settled in Shadowdale, and the senior Knights have foisted the lordship onto Mourngrym. (Cormyr hasn't yet sent Shaerl Rowanmantle to Shadowdale.) A quick glance at my notes tells me the following subplots were unfolding at the beginning of that play session (which began with my players roleplaying a Knights' council-of-war, in which they sat down together to decide what they wanted to do):

Three envoys to the Tower of Ashaba:

1. Merchant coster from Hillsfar wants free land to establish waystables with warehousing (walled compound), pointing out employment and tax income Shadowdale will get; Maalthiir intends to use it for spying, of course, subverting local youths and oldsters with drugs (but doesn't know one of his envoys is a Zhent agent).

2. Envoy from the Church of Torm (sent from the temple in Tantras), asking for free dale land and perpetual immunity from taxes, in return for establishing a large temple on the granted land, and agreeing to provide therein shelter (with granaries), arms, and training in vigilance and war to all folk of Shadowdale, and establishing temple patrols to watch for attacking forces approaching Shadowdale. Will further offer to provide caravans with armed escorts from Shadowdale to next settlement on every route, if Mourngrym seems unwilling.

3. Envoy from the Crown of Cormyr to Mourngrym, asking permission to establish an official trade factor (agent) of Cormyr in the dale (office and residence), entirely at Cormyr's own expense (staffed in part by War Wizards; envoys also War Wizards). Legitimate offer, but trading office would also become local spying base for Cormyr; envoys making same offer to Mistledale at same time.

Lanseril seeking senior druid dwelling somewhere nigh Semberholme, for guidance, training, and to share information about spreading monsters.

Individual merchants coming to town to buy some of the empty cottages of folk killed in the last Zhent attack, and establish themselves away from the feuds and expense of Sembia; are really sponsored spies of ambitious Sembian merchants seeking to establish way-caches for drugs, stolen goods, and kidnapped rivals well outside Sembia yet within reach of Sembia.

One of these (Imbur Taerazalan) works for the Gemfingers merchant cabal of Ordulin, who intend to covertly conquer the Dales one by one, establishing their own "shadow territories" that can be "sold off" to Sembia (surrendered to become officially part of Sembia, in return for large cash payments).

Jhessail trying to decipher the coded pages of the Dark Tome without Elminster discovering she has it (assisted by Islif and the Harper mage Aundas [a War Wizard spy], who are trying to keep her alive; some of the runes are magical traps, others are gates to strongholds all across the Realms, now disused and dangerous monster- and undead-roamed "dungeons").

The cabal of local Shadowdale merchants running the mill (since the Knights uncovered and slew the Zhent agents who formerly ran it) have begun to die, one after another, under mysterious circumstances. The Knights are trying to protect them and discover who's doing the killings. The Zhents, of course, but: by means of magic from afar? Agents hidden in Shadowdale or [planted years ago] among the folk of Shadowdale, attacking the merchants by stealth, when they can catch one alone? Or is one of the cabal of merchants doing the killings? [yes!] If so, just to gain control of the mill himself, or become the senior and dominant member if Mounrgrym "appoints" replacement merchants? [no] Or is the killer an undercover Zhent agent? [yes]

The mysterious "noble lady of Tethyr" who's just arrived in town with large entourage and tried to rent the disused farm north of Fox Ridge for "a tenday of relaxation" (and came to Mourngrym's attention because of her steward's attempts to arrange this accommodation, and so got invited to evenfeast at the Tower so he could give her the once-over) isn't a noble lady of Tethyr at all, but rather a noblewoman of Waterdeep AND a former flame of Mourngrym's, sent here by her parents to learn if Mourngrym is the Amcathra who knows where the best friend of his youth [this lady's oldest brother] hid the family magic before he died (he died in Mourngrym's arms, while off on an "adventure"). She'll try to seduce Mourngrym, and if she likes it in Shadowdale, ride the situation for all she's worth, sending the information she gains back to her kin via her steward.

The visiting dancer Florin sought to seduce so as to get alone to (with Jhessail's help) mind-ream, thinking her a Zhent agent, who turned out instead to be a doppelganger or some other sort of tentacled shapechanger (ere she got away), has openly returned to the dale with her troupe. But is this the "real" dancer, having nothing to do with the shapechanger? [yes] Or the shapechanger back again, for a rematch? [no: the shapechanger has already returned to Shadowdale as short-coin farmworker, and is watching the Knights from afar, awaiting the right chance to slay and impersonate a Tower guard. Shapechanger is an agent for Tharltan, the wizard of Saerloon who wants to take over Shadowdale, and has orders to slay and impersonate Mourngrym, and then begin manipulating the Knights, singly, into situations where they can be killed]. This "real" dancer is a spy for a Witch of Rashemen, and will flee the Knights in a suspicious manner (fearing they'll discover her secret), perhaps leading them into the clutches of the Fang.

The Fang [band of six assassins who always work together] are lurking in Shadowdale, posing as painters and roofers (slate shingles; they do good work, are pricing themselves very cheaply, and so are winning work up and down the dale roads, fixing too-long-neglected cottages) as they await a good chance to fulfill their commission from Rauthur of the Cult of the Dragon to kill Florin Falconhand. [Remember: all magically protected against farscrying and thought-reading.] One of them will ask audience with Mourngrym, boldly trying to get a commission to work on the Tower of Ashaba - - really to see as much as he can of its layout, even if work offer rejected. Will try to befriend chambermaids, just to try to get an eventual 'in' at the Tower.

Jonczer of Scardale will make another appeal to Shadowdale to use the Knights to establish regular 'swift and silent' trade runs between the two dales. He wants to have a way to spirit his wealth out of the dale without trying to carry it himself, to have a reason for entry into the Tower of Ashaba, and (eventually) to frame the Knights for the murders he's going to try to accomplish, to weaken all outlander agents in Scardale except the Zhents.

Phaerlarra [fat old Tower maidservant, suggested by Jhaele when the Knights first arrived] will make another play for Doust, hinting that she's of noble birth (the Troehands are actually descended from two bastard royal heirs who married commoners, though a female Huntsilver did marry into the family much later) and her "family secrets" could enrich all of the Knights, if they learn everything. She knows she really has nothing to offer, but the royal connection (though not its precise nature) has always been a deep family secret, and she'd love to somehow get the Knights to track down the truth. Why can't they see her true worth?

Merith's investments in Sembia are turning sour - - and someone is trying to trace him through them! He'll get the second "bad news" note this week, from a Harper telling him it was found after Dathjathra was found murdered, and her murderer was interrupted (but managed to escape) while busily copying out all of her missives! Who's trying to track down elves investing in Sembian trade, and why?

Jhessail's tracing spell will find just one thing out of all that was stolen from Jhaele's office: stashed in a hollow tree at the east end of Fox Ridge is a single sheet of her parchment, rolled into a bone tube and with fresh writing on it (Jhaele's stolen ink, but very recent writing - - and the ink and quills are gone, along with everything else, carried far beyond the range of Jhessail's spell, well out of the dale), listing sixteen villagers ["the Mirrorman list"]. Why are these Dalefolk listed (what's the link between them)? Who wrote the list, and why was it stashed in the tree? Who was intended to find and presumably act on it, and why? Questions for the Knights to ponder...

So saith Ed.

Looking at this, I'd say he's chosen a "quiet time" (in terms of subplots): relatively quiet probably because we Knights weren't yet generating much in the way of subplots of our own, by pursuing our own interests and agendas. Once we started doing that, life became a whirlwind of "not enough time" and "let's DO it!" and "Now - - strike now, before they - -" and Ed sitting there grinning while we took over and truly became the heroes, imposing our wills on the Realms rather than reacting to what he threw at us.

Ed probably chose this quiet moment purely for reasons of brevity.

Erik, can you see why this would make fascinating episodic soap opera but an "impossible" FR novel? Arlenion, these are rather simple subplots, so they should be readily adaptable for any campaign. I noticed none of them is one of Ed's trademark "big, ongoing mysteries," so be sure to concoct one of those, too.

love to all,


August 11, 2005: Hello all. I bring Ed's last reply for a couple of days (probably until Saturday night), this one only the beginnings of a reply to Jamallo Kreen about "the classics" of Torilian literature:

Ah, a truly wonderful question. And one that will take me some time to answer properly. I'll begin with a proverbial "librarian's answer."

What's considered "classic" literature varies widely from time to time (once Bulwer-Lytton and Kipling were both considered towering writers in the English canon; both have faded, poor old B-L to laughingstock status) and place to place (sf fans revere writers "mainstream" critics have never even heard of, or dismiss as genre hacks churning out that "spaceship robot raygun stuff," and conversely, an sf fan who tackles a "serious," critically-acclaimed mainstream book is often incredulous at the self-indulgent, largely plotless "writing about nothing" that the latter tome contains).

So remember, as my father used to triple pun: "One man's Mede is another man's poisson." :}

This holds true in the Realms as in real life.

There are "popular" books of lasting appeal, popular books that are fads that fade, and books and writers esteemed on the Sword Coast north of the Calimshan - Tethyr border that are unknown around the Shining Sea, and vice versa.

With that said, it's important to remember that sages' histories are revered as journals of record, and witty or poetic prose is highly valued in fiction books, because "the power of the plain tale" (the good snappy story told in a real-world bar or at a party or around a campfire) is practised and polished daily (or rather nightly) by minstrels and bards in taverns and clubs and inns across Faerūn.

Yes, yes, Ed, get on with it (I hear you snarl :}).

Right. So bearing in mind that what I say here is dated the moment I say it, and that this is an incomplete answer largely valid only for the Heartlands, among "the wide weal" (i.e. I'm not restricting myself to readers of a particular faith, or class such as the nobility), I'll begin by listing just a few of the most highly-regarded tomes:

SEVENTY STIRRING STORIES by Russtur Malivar (many editions, often retold and abridged; a compilation of tavern-tales of romance, monster-fighting, high adventure, and revenge from the Sword Coast North).

THE TARGE by Lady Sarandra Shaelewinter (several editions; the author's name is a pseudonym for a now-dead noblewoman of Waterdeep; romantic, uplifting tales - - mainly intended for a female audience, but beloved by those who love romance and lovingly-described dalliance - - that all drive home moral points: good always gets its just reward, wickedness and folly are aptly "rewarded," and so on; "improving" literature for young ladies, but rescued from being pedantic and dull by the romantic writing).

TAL TESSORAN, Or: A LIFE WELL LIVED by Roadrante Haltivur (scandalously explicit [yes, we would call it pornographic] and considered far too "naughty" for polite discussion and being read in public, either aloud or to oneself but where others can identify its title; female author now living in hiding under an assumed name after being badgered with offers of marriage and love affairs and priests offering to "redeem" her, to say nothing of men wanting to "properly chastise" her; a stirring epic of a devastatingly handsome, well-meaning swordsman-hero who wenches his way across Faerūn while defeating evil wizards and growling monsters; powerfully written and VERY popular, although most folk keep their copies hidden under their pillows for private reading; even if the sexual passages are skipped, the writing is colourful and the adventures dashing).

SHIELDS AFLAME: A HISTORY OF KINGS AND BATTLES OF THE NORTH by Murtrosz Ondibran (small, thick, often split in its bindings and put into a box or tied together with cord, to keep it all together; often reprinted in identical format to its original edition, by one printer in Athkatla who claims (on the flyleaf) to bring down a "dark curse" on anyone else who makes copies of it; the most authoritative and interestingly-written of many sagely histories of the Sword Coast North, much consulted in the way we would consult a "dictionary of royalty and battles." Its brief entries are entertainingly written, and the book can serve in the way many religious texts are: as "dip into" reading, one or two entries per evening, for discussion or reflection or just day-dreaming.

ARAUNTRIL: LADY DEATH, LADY FLAME by Sarkoarvhan Dhurr (a tremendously-popular epic of a sword-wielding sorceress, telling the fictional career of a beautiful, wanton, evil-hearted, sharp-tongued wily lass who sleeps and tricks and boldly fights and acrobatically tumbles her way from lover to lover and fortune to fortune; neither explicit nor particularly leering, mentioning sex in a matter-of-fact or humorous way; very popular because Arauntril's dupes and victims are caricatures of mankind everywhere, and she exploits their foibles in amusing ways that can win fresh guffaws when read aloud in kitchens to folk who've heard all the scenes before. Arauntril has a caustic wit - - which she uses on herself when she makes mistakes or does stupid things - - and the author, a mild-mannered and shy clerk of Tethyr, poured out all his frustrations at cruel and pompous masters and clients when depicting the men Arauntril bests. Someone else [anonymous] wrote a hard-to-find (and so very expensive) sequel, ARAUNTRIL SCOURGED, which does delve into the pornographic. On every page. Although Dhurr was very upset by its publication, he's said to have loved it when he read it, and most folk who've managed to do so are unwilling to part with their copies: not only are its sex scenes highly memorable, it makes sharp and explicit comment on real rulers, realms, customs, and other writers, in ways dubbed "wincingly accurate" by Alaphondar of Cormyr).

These are by no means all of the "classics," nor is my answer complete. I'll try to return to this topic before GenCon, but if not, will revisit it later (no new hours are being poured into any given day of my life, I'm afraid).

Oh, and Arlenion: you're very welcome. My pleasure. I forgot to mention one thing: all ambitious and / or adventurer NPCs should be generating subplots of their own, so you know what they're up to while the PCs are busy (inevitably the PCs will find out about some of these, sometimes misinterpreting them and jumping in, with wild results).

So saith Ed.

Who will return when he can; he's one exhausted puppy right now, believe me.

love to all,

August 15, 2005: Hello again, all. Ed continues his reply to Jamallo Kreen in the matter of "classic books" of the Realms:

Behold: more "classic" tomes of human Faerūnian literature:

DUNSTABLE'S DREAMS by Osmer Dunstable (thick, hand-sized but very thick; many editions, the most recent ones sold with leather slipcovers with four thong catches, to help protect the spine of the book from splitting swiftly; a sort of "Bartlett's Quotations" for the Realms: collected witty sayings and retorts, phrases, mottoes, and coined words from all over Faerūn, and from all times since the Common Tongue became, well, common; this much-consulted collection is politely called "Dreams" but casually referred to just as "Dunstable").

ARDOSO: A ROMANCE OF MAGIC by Marmoth Ellerth (a slender volume, always bound in nonsense "mystical symbols" that in some cases have concealed coded messages having nothing to do with the book's contents; this flowery, purple-prose tale of a young wizard, Ardoso, and his rapid rise to ruling his own fictitious realm as an archwizard of matchless might-in-Art is complete tripe in terms of factual magic lore, but is widely admired for its poetic prose - - which in most places is wildly overblown and ridiculous, but which has yielded to popular speech and other writers some useful phrases such as "all eye-fingered" to describe someone who's warily "looking in all directions" or is extremely, restlessly nervous; "dusk-eyed and soft-shouldered" to denote a beautiful female dressed and acting so as to mutely request the attentions of someone, but NOT flirting or forwardly demanding their advances; "gods-kissed" to denote someone who is struck with brilliant ideas or endowed with a natural talent that enables them to excel astonishingly without training; "storm-browed" to describe someone glowering in anger).

THE CASTLE OF FOREVER by Hildark Marblesard (a fanciful "history" of Dragonspear Castle, in which the ghosts of various fictitious lords of the fortress who were interred in the walls at their deaths, emerge to top each others' tales of their times in Dragonspear, and dispute as to what really happened [and whether this or that outland visitor was really a foe of Dragonspear or an ally, and so on]; as history, it's almost entirely nonsense [beyond a few small snippets here and there about particular people, events, or architectural details of the castle], but the ghosts are thinly-disguised parodies of real rulers, and the timid, scholarly Marblesard puts into their mouths the speeches, views, and attitudes of the real people [hence the lively debates between them], lampooning the womanizing of Azoun IV of Cormyr, the hauteur of Calishite pashas and the Council of Amn, the bombast of Harbromm of Citadel Adbar, and so on; this recently-published tome has soared in popularity to join the ranks of classics because word of mouth across Faerūn attributes to it not the mere entertainment of parody, but veracity in capturing the essential characters of the real rulers, so that it has practical use in understanding how to anticipate what they'll do next, and how to treat with them if one desires friendship or approval).

SWORDSTAR by Myndrarra Tresstyl (a slim, pocket-sized book of cryptic verses of guidance, e.g.: "This night holds importance dark/Seek stone, calm thought, and fire's spark/Much coin, hunted scorn, and wounding all await/Choose the way that's right and straight" with one such verse per page, and each page being bordered by random numbers; with dice or cast pebbles a reader can derive numbers, and so 'choose' the right verse whenever consulting the tome; penned by a tavern dancer/prostitute, this book gained popularity when various priesthoods [most of whom give similar guidance by means of hidden clergy chanting or whispering cryptic verses to faithful who pray and give offerings at altars, so they see this book as competition] attempted to suppress it. Consulted by many folk in Faerūn today, and read as riddle-entertainment or a spur for thoughtful thinking by many more; its author, now wrinkled with age, is still much sought-after as a bed-partner, because she gasps cryptic words, phrases, and verses to those who pay to bed her, that they believe apply personally to them, and what they should do in their lives ahead).

MASTERS OF THIS HALL by Awntar Halondaeth (a very old book, printed and reprinted many times, sometimes with amendments by anonymous "authors" who thought they could "improve" upon the original; a narrative wherein an aged king dies and his six sons - - bitter rivals and warrior princes of accomplishment, all - - hasten to seize the throne, arriving in the king's throne chamber to discover it full of the senior priests of the realm, who have cast mighty spells that prevent arrows flying, swords from being drawn, and so on: they force the princes to try to win the throne with words, convincing the majority of priests present who should make the best king [princes who try to storm out without pledging loyalty to the next king will be slain by spells]; the book consists of debates between the brothers, and colourful tales - - both parables and accounts of their own past deeds, however embellished - - told by them, as they dispute with each other and with various priests who question them keenly; contains the much-quoted exchange between the priest Erlatho and the prince Daereth: [D: "Enough! I'll no more of this wordspew and idiocy! Better to stride into death than endure more of your waspsting queries and insinuations! I'm a busy man, with many roads to ride and quarries to pursue! I must and shall begone from this place NOW!" E: "Oh? You've something more important to rush off to this morn, I take it, than your own life?"] and many more witty oaths and word-fencing much quoted by readers, in their daily doings with each other.

Enough books for now, as my lovely Lady Hooded has piled high my platter of questions. Accordingly:

Yes, Erik, snippets of all of these exist in my notes (and of course all the pseudobiblia quoted in chapter headings and divers other places in my Realms publications down the years). No, Wizards hasn't shown any interest in publishing these; TSR once did, briefly, at about the time they published LEAVES FROM THE INN OF LAST HOME (hope I'm remembering the title correctly; my copy is buried in a box several rooms away from me right now). There was a plan to publish the lyrics of the songs I'd handed them for performance at GenCon that year (a few later found their ways into a Volo's Guide), some "sample" pages from various "famous books" of the Realms, a "sample" spell scroll, complete with runes and incantations and instructions for casting [you can probably guess that the Marketing folks flinched away from THAT one, retreating about a mile, to the Next Door Pub, with wails that could only be quelled with much beer, as I recall], a lot of my original maps, et cetera. And no, I don't have time now to pull all of this material together again, or any legal means of publishing it except through Wizards. Sorry.

No, Lord Rad, the backlog of questions remains as long (groan!) as ever. :} What's happened is that scribes have asked about matters I'm currently at work on, or can otherwise lay hands on the lore I need to reply very swiftly, or can answer off the top of my head - - and knowing I'm soon going to be falling silent for a week (and then again, shortly after) spurs me to provide scribes with all the answers I can.

Jeff and I remain close friends, although we don't chat as much as we used to (we're both too busy for those three-hour phone calls). I still hope to see new Jeff & Kate novels set in the Realms for us all to enjoy, but just now Jeff's probably too busy with a new job and a platter-full of freelance work to visit Candlekeep. Kisses of Mystra, I'M too busy to stop by Candlekeep! :}

SiriusBlack, I'm glad you liked the dedication; I only hope you find the narrative itself as pleasing. I bled from both soul and fingertips, slashing so many words from CITY OF SPLENDORS, and part of me really hated doing so. However, the amount of rewriting the book received did make for a better-flowing, more pointed story than you'd have seen if Elaine and I had been allowed all the wordcount we wanted to just mention this, add that, and fully explain the other. Peter Archer was very supportive, and is a superb editor and consummate professional to begin with, and I needed no spell - - just the promise to buy him lots of drinks at GenCon this year. :}

Please let me know, candidly, what you think of the result. I feel we didn't give enough "face time" to all the characters we wanted to, had to trim some detail throughout, and didn't fully carry out our intention to take the reader along Waterdeep's streets and alleys for a real "taste, see, and smell" tour, but we did manage to pack a lot in and tell a coherent story that includes at least some memorable scenes. It's also a book that I believe a complete newcomer to the Realms (like, say, your neighbour's grandmother, or the businessman beside you at the bus stop) could read and enjoy without having to learn all about the Realms or D&D, or read any other Realms book. Now if the buying public will only agree, and shove us onto the bestseller lists and make us millions...

So saith Ed.

Who's already itching to write a sequel, even though there's no space in the WotC books lineup until at least 2009, now. Ed tells me he'll probably be able to send one more reply tomorrow, as he goes out the door to begin the long drive down to GenCon.

love to all,


On August 14, THO said: Well, SB, having read the novel, I can't tell you which precise scene it is, myself.

Neither can Ed, although he guesses it's an "offstage" scene involving one of the Gemcloaks (the color of the cloak will hint at whom) and someone else whose identity we can all guess at, but not know for certain.

I'll tease WotC and see what explanation they come up with, okay?


You're very welcome, SB, and I suspect you're right about the artistic license.

One of these days, I should nudge Ed to pass me one of his old "art orders" for cover suggestions that TSR and now WotC always request (and then cheerfully ignore). I'm sure they'd be fascinating reading for Candlekeep scribes - - though for obvious reasons, Ed would have to yield up one of the old TSR art orders (before the days of tight NDAs and tightly-worded contracts, when these things weren't covered by any legal restrictions because, ahem, [if my understanding is correct, and it may not be] Ed wasn't supposed to be asked to write them in the first place).



August 14, 2005: Hello again, fellow scribes. Ed returns (briefly, before trundling off to GenCon and so falling temporarily e-silent again) with a reply to Lord Rad:

Sorry, but I'm afraid Elemental Empires is Jeff Grubb's creation, and only he and his bride and co-writer Kate Novak know its details. I can say more about other games of the Realms, and indeed have, both in Volo's Guides (for example, pages 161 and 162 of the Cormyr guide outline detail Toss The Dagger, Traitors' Heads, and Swords and Shields), divers works of fiction, and here at Candlekeep (Old Wizard is described on page 37 of the 04 Questions for Eddie thread, and Strikedragon, aka Battles, on page 38).

Other writers have also detailed games in the Realms (Talis, also found in DRAGONLANCE, is discussed on page 25 of the 04 Questions for Eddie thread, and the dice game "Thabort" is detailed on page 38 of the Shadowdale booklet of the 1993 Realms Campaign Setting box, just to name two), and we know of chess and several similar abstract battle-strategy board games being played in the Realms from my Cormyr co-written novels and other Realms fiction sources. The problem is that many games (such as Shirestone, the halfling game I created) were submitted to, and accepted by, TSR or Wizards, and are owned by them: if they don't choose to publish them (yet or ever), I'm not free to publish them myself anywhere. However, the games already in print should provide you with enough to waste the time of bored guards and warriors. :}

So saith Ed.

Whom I notice didn't even mention some of the more salacious games we Knights used to play (myself, I think the male Knights were just looking for excuses to get female Knights to doff garments; not that we minded).

Re. the dedication, Kuje: I hope you'll be pleased when you read it. I know I was. I can quote it if you really want me to, but I wanted to leave it for scribes to discover for themselves. However: your call on this, scribes assembled.

Jamallo, Ed's sending me more "classic books" descriptions before he leaves for GenCon. Watch this thread.

SiriusBlack, I've sent your post to Ed for his reply. I do know the contract asked for a very large wordcount (probably 150,000) but that it was unofficially agreed that it would end up much shorter. I've heard that Ed and Elaine between them probably cut 60,000 words or more as they were writing it (chopping entire subplots and characters) - - but then, if they hadn't, I can envisage us all sitting here waiting, a year or more hence, for something that had grown to six 500-page volumes, with indexes in each.

And no, that wouldn't be a Bad Thing. However, the heart conditions of WotC editors by then would be.

love to all,


August 16, 2005: Hello again, fellow scribes. I bring a reply from Ed to Nighthawk08:

Hi. My take on this is that lycanthropy has varied so much in the game rules, from edition to edition (depending on who was writing at the time: it's a disease! No, it's a magic curse! No, it's both! No, it's neither, but something else entirely! It's inherited! No, it can't be inherited!), that all is confusion and you can do just as you like.

In other words, the understanding of lycanthropy (and for that matter, genetics) in the Realms is fuzzy enough that you have a free hand as DM to have the child of two lycanthropes be "normal" (no lycanthropy at all), or able to assume the wereshape of only one parent, or both, or some other wereshape entirely, or have some other beast-related or personal shapechanging powers. This should be unpredictable (by which I mean not uncontrollable for the child, but that no one in the setting could know beforehand that the child of a werebear father and a weretiger mother will predictably have these particular powers), and there should be no "freak" attitude (remember, it's highly unlikely that other lycanthropes will quickly learn anything about the child's abilities unless the parents are living in a lycanthrope-only community; if they're living among "normals," they're probably going to try to conceal everything they can about their lycanthopy).

If lycanthropy can be genetically inherited (and I would have it so, just because of the increased play possibilities), the probability of a child acquiring a particular form (the "50% chance" you mention) is, I believe, entirely up to you. In other words, a statistical survey would probably reveal "real" probabilities across the Faerūnian lycanthrope population, but no such survey has ever been done, and therefore "no one knows" the probabilities; you have a free hand.

As for your measurements questions: many different local systems are in use (though "miles" is NOT one of them!), but common trading and therefore widespread measurements are: fingerwidths; "hands" (handwidths, of a mature human male); "arlshanks" (formerly the length of the Uthgardt barbarian hero Ar's thigh, now a standard measurement exactly equivalent to the real-world "yard" or three feet; Ar was a big guy; a Waterdeep merchant made flat metal plate replicas [stamped with his complicated proof-mark] of Ar's thighbone after the hero's death, and these now see wide use up and down the Sword coast and east along the Heartlands trade routes); wagonlengths; bowshots; halfday-rides, day-rides, tenday rides and halfday-hauls ("haul" refers to one horse and laden wagon, as opposed to "ride," which is one rider on a fast riding-horse), day-hauls, and tenday-hauls.

As you can see, any of these measurements except the arlshank can vary widely, and be the source of much disagreement ("YOUR fat finger, merchant? Or mine?"), and new "better" measurements are constantly being introduced. Nothing thus far has widely and firmly caught on.

So saith Ed.

Who will return again after GenCon. As will I.

love to all,


On August 15 THO said: And bad FR novels ignore or contradict established Realmslore. I'm sure all longtime Realms readers can think of their own "favourite" examples; I'm not interested in naming names and digging up corpses.

But I well remember Ed's exasperated reply to a certain senior TSR designer at a long-ago GenCon, about a real-world name being used "as is" for something in the Realms: "Evoke, man, evoke! Don't jarringly copy real-world stuff! REMIND us of historical stuff, don't COPY it! You're getting PAID to be a designer, remember! I know history teachers generally make more than game designers, but..."

This got a roar of applause. I just wish Ed's words had been heeded. Then I wouldn't have had to sit through TSR designers arguing about whether or not Purple Dragon cavalry should have stirrups or not (because of real-world history) or Waterdeep's population should only be this much (because of their grade school history assumptions about real-world medieval population), and so on and on and on.

Stallions named Avalon? Burrrr. The Dalai Lama (the DALAI LAMA?) in the Realms as an NPC player characters can kill, in an FR module?



August 26, 2005: Hello once again, fellow scribes. Ed is (briefly) back on the job, with this response to The Sage:

Well, 'tis hard for me to give a report of my adventures at GenCon. There are NDAs, and then there's the privacy of my friends whom I hang out with, drink with, eat with, and even plot and scheme with. Most of the juicy stuff I must perforce omit. Leaving me with a Swiss-cheese-hole-riddled remnant that isn't much use to anybody.

However, let me try. I did a podcast with Calye Calhoun and Mike Stackpole. I gave away loads of El...

Hmm. I can see this is going to be utter chaos. Let me start again. Adult gamers: I did not seduce your daughters at the con. Any of them. Yes, I kissed a lot of people (Ed Stark and I even kissed, on a dare from Mary-Elizabeth Allen, and were rewarded with her helpless, delighted mirth). I received the adulation of thousands, including a RCA Dome security guard (!) and a U.S. Army recruiter (!!). Kidding aside, I'd like to thank everybody who attended my "roast" (Peter Archer, who served as Master of Ceremonies, termed it a tribute because "it's impossible to roast someone who can't be embarrassed"). To Will Maranto and many other scribes from Candlekeep who said hello and gave me their thanks and good wishes: thank YOU. None of it (the Realms, all this fun here at Candlekeep and there at GenCon) happens without you. I love meeting fellow gamers at GenCon (my first GenCon was Number Eight, then I didn't go again until Thirteen, then Seventeen and every year thereafter - - so I've met a lot of you, some of you for years upon years now). Seeing your smiles and hearing your stories and praise and even brickbats recharges my batteries and keeps me going.

For those who missed the roast: there was free food. The "original" TSR-photocopied Realms map, tattered and annotated, was trotted out for display by its loving keeper, Julia Martin. Julia cried (I love you, Lady Unicorn). I was lauded in absentia by my longtime friends Steven Schend (whose BLACKSTAFF, I say again, is going to be a Do Not Miss BLOCKBUSTER of a Realms novel: tell your friends, and buy often and buy early) and by Jeff Grubb (you can read the text of Jeff's remarks at his always-superb blog, Thomas Reid, Rich Baker, Peter Archer, and Phil Athans all said nice things about me. Mary-Elizabeth Allen provided a list of warnings for gamers when encountering me (so the gloves are off, now: you Have Been Warned). Bob Salvatore said nice things about me, on the verge of tears. I enjoyed it all very much, and want to publicly thank everyone for making me feel very wanted. I saw a lot of good friends in the audience (The Hooded One even glanced in for a moment or two, suitably disguised), and felt like everyone was my friend. No, I didn't get any of the chocolate-dipped strawberries. I was too busy signing Elminster mini stat cards.

Which brings me to the Elminster mini.

The Underdark set is going to include an Elminster figure, but as a surprise to us all, Wizards gave away three minis at the show: the Dark Naga (hey, a critter I invented!), Guenhwyvar, and a "Greenwood paint" version of Elminster: a 1,500-figure limited edition just for GenCon, with El repainted to match the costume I've worn to many GenCons as Elminster. I personally signed and gave away 500 of these, and I'm told a signed Elminster was going for $150 US on eBay on the Monday after the con. Sigh; if I'd known that, I could have kept ten to sell myself and covered the cost of my hotel room! :}

It's a nice mini, and it was a nice gesture, and I got mobbed during my signing session largely because of the figs. Congratulations to the librarian who sleuthed out one of my written-under-another-and-very-fanciful-name romances and brought it to me to sign. You and you alone, it seems, know My Secret (well, that one at least :}).

Which brings me to secrets, and indeed, a semniar full of them.

To those who missed me at the Secrets of the FR Seminar, I'd like to thank Eric Boyd for "being me," and to explain to everyone that I was double-booked, and the "other" booking involved a brief meeting with Hasbro and Hollywood brass hats (NOTHING to report, move along, move along, no speculations or questions, please!) and a lunch with my other publisher, Mr. Tom Doherty (who IS Tor Books), along with fellow Tor authors and good friends Margaret Weis and Jean Rabe. I'm sorry everything happened at once and that I couldn't do both.

To those who participated in Spin A Yarn: thanks a lot. Or is that thanks a heap? Boy, what an impressive pile of steamingXXX er, adventuresome and frankly lewd plot elements (plus a sprinkling of nice and useful ones). Expect another near-novella, late in 2006. Mary-Liz drew the line at a character farting bubbles of chocolate, as I recall. Everyone laughed, I threatened to sing AND burlesque strip - - and some audience members actually cheered... which means I've said enough. More than enough. I have promised not to fellate that particular microphone again, but hey: all of the others in the world are still fair game!

I'm participating in several future projects that I can say nothing about, one quite possibly involving a scribe here at Candlekeep, but I can say: Castlemorn should FINALLY be published around November. I hope. I have seen much of the art, and it is GORGEOUS. Bastion Press is developing it for Studio 2, and I retain high hopes for it. I'm not expecting huge sales (no one aside from Wizards and White Wolf is selling great numbers of printed paper RPG products, these days, though I'm salivating for Monte Cook's huge fantasy city, due out next year), but I do hope it will be useful to some of you as a setting (or add-on expansion kingdoms) for your campaigns.

I had lunch or dinner or drinks with many friends, as usual only had a few snatched half-hours to shop the exhibit hall (and so missed a lot), was happy to see several friends advancing in their efforts to break into publishing fantasy fiction, and as usual enjoyed my share of costume moments (notably Star Wars stormtroopers teasing the Army recruiters, and a very young lass in the Circle Centre Mall glowing with teary happiness when she saw three tall, handsome gamers in full Warrior of Gondor costumes and turned around to triumphantly tell her mother: "You said it was just a movie! It was REAL! See? REAL!").

To the LOVELY (and, ahem, very real) young lady in the boots and feathers and basque and not much else who sat in my lap and asked me to get to "know her deeply," I want to let her know that she is VERY beautiful, I was flattered, and if I didn't happen to be happily married (to a formidable lady indeed, who was present at the show, cleverly disguised with my 4-day badge), I just might have said yes.

To the other lovely lady who served as a luncheon table for several sour-cream-dip-devouring gamers (including, yes, me): thank you, you taste nice and are very pleasing to the eye (what a costume!).

To the three young ladies who ran out of money: I hope you got home safely. It's okay to spend your food money if you know you're going to run into me at GenCon (I'll see you get fed), but please don't dip into your "trip home" money. The exhibit hall is why credit cards were invented.

To the Indianapolis policeman who stupidly drew his gun on a group of young gamers: no, I don't happen to work for Homeland Security or the FBI or CIA. Good thing for you. If you're angry to read this and discover I fooled you, consider: everyone's still alive, no one got any bullets fired into them, and those "dangerous young terrorists" turned out to be harmless kids after all. Who may just grow up to pay your pension, if you live long enough to retire. Consider this, too: I only needed that snap of command in my voice to stop you, not a gun. It's an approach you might want to try.

To the other policeman who helped me give directions to the young lady in the harem costume without straying from friendly politeness or letting your eyes rove from her face: superbly done, sir. Class act. I hope the first policeman learns from you. Fast.

To the servers (waiters and waitresses) at the Marriott who so enthusiastically and professionally put up with us gamers year after year: thanks. To Yvette, for remembering my name and my wife's needs for an entire year: awed thanks.

To The Sage, who asked for all this: I'm sorry I can't give descriptions of tournaments, because I never have time to play in any, this last decade or so. I shouldn't mention my chatter and greetings to all the friends and gaming colleague acquaintances I see once a year at GenCon, without their permission (though I will say it was a pleasure to really get to properly meet Keith Baker and his wife Ellen for the first time), and I certainly can't divulge all the business that goes on at a GenCon (more than an entire day was consumed with such fun, this year), so I'm afraid any "report" I give is going to be a little stunted. I urge you to check out the many sites on the Net where folks have posted pics of GenCon (the Best in Show costume this year was awesome; those wings really flapped), not just for the costumes (and there were some doozies, especially for male viewers whose retinae don't easily become detached), but for the "feel" of the crowds and the exhibit hall. The GenCon staff is really starting to click, with many of the little glitches and problems gone or swiftly smoothed over this year.

Oh, yes: and to the member of the Indianapolis Colts who came looking for Bob Salvatore's autograph on Saturday: get in line, bud, get in line. You may get the big bucks and the TV coverage, but yonder's a REAL star.

One last thing: some of you may soon be pleasantly surprised at the quality of the second D&D movie. I have it on good authority that the third one (yes, there will be a third one, and not all that far into the future, either) will be even better.

Right now, I have to pack, and get to the Canadian Gaming Expo. As my deadlines slip still farther. Mary-Liz said she was going to spank me for that, but decided I'd enjoy it too much, so now she's NOT going to spank me, as punishment. Oh, life is hard. :}

So saith Ed.

Who is indubitably Ed, and like so many folks said at the roast: a kind, generous, honest FRIEND to so many. Who neglected to mention that he did his usual "rescue crying gamers who've lost money or event tickets or game stuff they can't afford to buy a second time" act several times this year, that I saw. I also saw him calmly autographing body parts. He's getting very good at signing his name neatly around nipples.

(Must be all that practice on me.)

love to all,


August 27, 2005: Hello again, fellow scribes. Ed and I are back for tonight (silence tomorrow, I'm afraid).

This time, Ed replies to Myssa Rei's question: "While a lot of mortals had risen to divinity -- and ignoring the ascension of people like Cyric, Midnight, and Kelemvor, since they took over major portfolios -- do they immediately become 'true' demigods? Or do start out as 'hero-deities', much like as all those quasideities wandering around in Greyhawk, and gained power only later as their worship grew?"

Ed speaks:

The plain truth is: mortals (and therefore all Player Characters) don't know and can never know for certain the exact details of anything pertaining to the gods. Even if a supreme priest or even a god tells you something personally, they may not be telling the truth. They may believe they're imparting the truth, or may be lying, but either way their answer can't be trusted.

With this said, worship determines the power of a deity, and yes, a deity without sufficient worship is a demigod, and the Realms has always had its own wandering "hero-deities" like those of Greyhawk.

If a mortal steps into an established portfolio (like Midnight "donning the mask of Mystra"), they immediately acquire godly power - - though not necessarily either the knowledge or the wisdom of how to use it properly, or the consequences of their portfolios, existing relationships, and actions - - and will rise and fall depending on what they do and how this affects the amount of worship they receive. If no mortals know about the Mystra "switch," there's unlikely to be much change in worship of Mystra until godly events or statements (either by Mystra or her rivals) change how she's viewed by worshippers.

Please always bear in mind that everyone sane on Faerūn believes in the existence of all the gods, "knowing" them ALL to be real. Worship is the sum total of the prayers, offerings, deeds, and behaviour mortals exhibit when venerating one god over others (and a particular mortal may well daily pray to several gods for different reasons: human sailors, for example, pray to Umberlee, Talos, Beshaba, Silvanus, and Shar for appeasement (Umberlee that currents, waves, and sea winds drown no one and sink not the ship, Talos that no storms wreck, damage, or drive astray the ship, Beshaba that no accidents nor ill luck befall on the voyage, Silvanus that the forces of nature such as gales, tides, and whirlpools be "not wild" during their voyage, Shar that no one be lost at sea), Valkur for success for the ship, all hands, and the voyage, Tymora for good luck, Selūne for unerring navigation, Shaundakul for navigation and safe voyaging, Gond to keep their ship strong and true, Gwaeron Windstrom if they're going to be trying to find another vessel or hunt down pirates, Helm if they're going to be doing any exploring, Kossuth to keep away fires aboard while at sea, Oghma that the charts be true (and to guide their hands and measurements if they'll be drawing new charts of their own at any point during the voyage), Akadi that the ship make good speed and the airs be not foul or becalmed, Auril that cold and ice harm no sailor nor the ship, Istishia that the water not eat away the timbers of the ship nor poison sailors or cargo, Waukeen that the voyage be prosperous (or Garagos if the voyage is a raid, that plunder be plentiful, or destruction visited upon the foe be devastating), Ulutiu that icebergs not bedevil the ship, and even Grumbar (that whatever happens to the ship, sailors may come safe again to land). [BTW, this subject is touched on briefly in the just-published WotC D&D sourcebook STORMWRACK. Page 48, for example, displays the symbols of sea deities.]

So there's constant worship going on for almost every divine being, rumored-to-be-divine being, half-forgotten and misremembered godlings... and even slain divine beings linger on as demigods or divine sparks that can "come back" if the right conditions occur. It's hard to fall from the ranks of demigodhood, once attained: one simply becomes a weaker demigod. Mortals in the Realms are always whispering prayers to "forgotten" gods, in hopes that the grateful deity will give them a lot of aid, swiftly, either out of eagerness to have a new mortal worshipper to command, or simply because they hear and heed the prayer (where a more popular deity may miss or have scant regard for that one prayer, amid the deafening chorus of so many).

If a mortal comes suddenly to the attention of other mortals as someone "divine" (miracles happen at their behest; of course, sometimes this is just a very powerful wizard or sorcerer trying to fool people), and very swiftly receives a LOT of worship from many beings, they'll soar in divine rank and power accordingly. So, yes, an individual could conceivably go from mortal adventurer, say, to godhood overnight. It's just EXTREMELY unlikely to happen - - communications (so that a lot of people hear of an event or a "special" person quickly) are poor, and unless very unhappy with their current lot, people tend to dislike and resist change (and so cling to the gods they know, trusting in established, familiar faiths who have priests they see at work around them every day).

In most cases it's impossible to tell if an encountered NPC is a demigod or a quasideity, and in a good "heavy roleplaying" campaign it can be difficult even for the player of a PC to know if their PC is just a powerful mortal, quasideity, or demigod. After all, if you can do something miraculous, momentarily and unpredictably or even at will, is it really you? Or an unseen deity helping you? The usual "test" for onlookers is: does a slain and badly butchered, burned to ashes, or otherwise "really gone" creature "come back from the dead" by itself, repeatedly? If so, they'll probably regard that creature as "divine" (unless they can clearly see that it's a troll, undead of a particular sort, or other known-to-regenerate creature) - - even though the coming back to life may again be the work of a watching deity, or something as simple as a ring of regeneration.

In most cases, however, creatures slowly win power as their worship slowly grows, changing as their faith "catches on" in particular cities or regions, or among particular groups, according to their own deeds (or reputed deeds) or aid (or reputed aid) they've rendered mortals. So, yes, the norm is probably a lot of quasideities, and demigods, with "instant lesser gods" being a great rarity. If you've read Realmslore from the beginning, however, you can see that the Realms has been caught up in a time of great change, and deities have appeared, altered greatly, and disappeared from the 1st edition "old gray box" until the recent FAITHS & PANTHEONS.

So saith Ed, Master of the Gods.

(Not something everyone can put on their resumé.)

love to all,


August 27, 2005: Hi, all. Ed was sending - - oops, no, can't tell you that. Anyway, on the way out the door to the Canadian Gaming Expo, he was online, caught my e-mail of scribes' postings, and sent back this answer to Zandilar:

Yes, the Seven Sisters are indeed the daughters of Mystra.

Some of her divine essence ("divine spark" if you prefer; it's now publicly seen only as the silver fire) passed into all of the Seven at their conception, because Mystra personally possessed the mothers - - so, yes, they DO carry her blood in them, and are therefore her daughters. Mystra's blood IS the Weave (silver fire energy).

Remember, human standards and definitions don't precisely apply to the gods. A rock or a potted plant can be the divine "son" or "daughter" of a god. :} The various game rules regarding gods are at best a vague way to describe what mortals have observed of their behaviour. They are NOT complete, clear, and absolute. Or as too many priests I've overheard are too fond of saying: "It's a mystery, my son. A mystery."

So saith Ed.

Who will return on Sunday.

love to all,


August 29, 2005: Hi, all. Ed has just returned home from the Canadian Gaming Expo. Scribes who didn't attend missed two dandy panels (on DMing, and on creating good, memorable villains) by Ed, Gary Gygax, and Robin Laws.

Scribes who DID attend may have seen me: among the many revealingly-costumed females attending, I was the one who hung her con pass from her exposed right nipple. Okay, ONE of the ones who did that. Ahem, probably the oldest of the several who did that.

Melfius, that "mothers" wasn't a typo.

Uno, Ed created Turmish as part of his original Realms, and described it extensively in several Elminster's Everwinking Eye articles in the POLYHEDRON Newszine.

This time, Ed makes reply to Wooly Rupert:

Yes, the Commer were, so far as I know, created by the computer game designers, to be "set up" as a background foe for future games. Despite Volo's name appearing on that manual, I didn't write it (though a lot of it was, of course, drawn from both my published lore and unpublished notes) and in fact have never seen it, despite the Realms agreement.

We must assume that the Commer are still "out there," lurking, perhaps close than one might thUUURK

And that's just how Ed's message ended, when I received it.!!

Comfort me, softest of noble hamsters...



August 29, 2005: Wooly, yes, please! I'll find a suitable "front" e-account for you to send that to, and then flip it to Ed.

Melfius, Zandilar has surmised the "when" and "who" of Mystra's mother-possessions perfectly. That's what Ed was referring to.

Faraer, Ed and Gary get along fine (despite what some posters on various boards would have you believe). Several times during the second panel, they made each other laugh, and once Ed's suggested way of dealing with a campaign problem made Gary say delightedly, "I've gotta try that! I'd LOVE to run something like that!" Ed's been invited to Gary's small annual Lake Geneva gaming con (next June), but doesn't yet know if he can attend. He very much wants to, just to have the chance to see Steven Schend in person again.

Jerry, great questions - - and Garen Thal's answers are well-nigh perfect. Ed will add a LITTLE to them, after careful examination of his NDAs, but expect nothing major: when Garen speaks of leaving the Unnamed as they are, he's right to do so.

Ed tells me another reply, on unrelated matters, is coming tomorrow. He has to trundle off to the library first, and ply the ladies with chocolates and kisses (er, do a work shift).

love to all,


August 30, 2005: Hello again, all. Ed makes reply to the Chosen of Moradin:

Hi, Yuri. I'd say the degree of control exercised by zulkirs over the Thayan wizards of "their" schools is up to you as a DM, varies from zulkir to zulkir (ignoring a polite request from Szass Tam is suicide, but a weak zulkir can snarl orders and be "not heard" or receive only "lip service" compliance), and isn't strong at all far from Thay UNLESS the zulkir has prepared beforehand (with spells that can change an order from a mere message to a life-and-death threat).

In general, Red Wizards of Thay know that defiance against "the rules" of their harshly-regimented society is a threat to the entire society: however irksome the controls and commandments laid upon them may be, those rules are what stops the entire land of wizards from erupting in one deadly "demolition derby" of duels, magical sneak attacks and traps, and summoned monsters or mass-controlled slaves galore being unleashed on everyone... a struggle that could only end in the fall of Thay and death for all but a fortunate few.

Therefore, reprisals against disobedience are sanctioned by Thayan society (who also don't want their slaves, who vastly outnumber them, to gain any inkling of anyone disobeying anything and surviving), and competent zulkirs wield almost absolute control over lesser Red Wizards of the same specialties (but not over non-Red-Wizards, who'll be rare intruders in Thay rather than citizens, or over Red Wizards of other specialty schools, who are both the "property" and the strength of a rival zulkir, who will react with furious hostility against a zulkir who attacks or deliberately harms wizards not of their own specialities.

There's nothing (except pre-prepared hostile spells on the part of one's zulkir or superiors, and the threat of loss of standing in Thay) to compel a Red Wizard far from home who wants to stop being a Red Wizard, never return to Thay, or even to change specialities. (This is best done by staging one's own faked death, not by turning to snarl defiance at all other Thayans - - who will probably be sent to hunt down and slay the renegade.) Red Wizards often covertly plot and scheme to bring down zulkirs, but the key word here is "covertly." Open defiance is never welcomed.

Red Wizards of lowly rank will seldom BE "far away from home" except on missions they've been sent on (to trade, or slay someone, or seize some magic, or spy on someone or something). They will have their orders. They remain subject to the communicated whims of their own zulkirs, but not those of other zulkirs. Sometimes excuses for long-range disobedience or even defiance can be faked to avoid being slain ("I was being mind-controlled by an illithid!"), but usually such excuses are little or no help ("You were? Then you're a threat to us all! I'll spell-imprison you whilst we mind-ream you to learn all your treacheries and secrets, and what controls or compulsions the mind flayer left behind, and then you'll perish, and be consumed utterly in flame, that your taint touch none of us!").

Some zulkirs adopt a more collegial style, but this is usually a "front," masking a ruthless (and scheming, already-prepared-for-treacheries) true character - - or someone who's become a puppet of Szass Tam, who likes to control other zulkirs whenever he can, both for purposes of tyranny and seemingly for his own personal entertainment.

So saith Ed.

Creator of Szass Tam, Red Wizards, and slaving Thay. He wants to remind us that he's not, however, responsible for illithids (illithiliches or Alhoon, yes, but mind flayers, no).



August 31, 2005: Hello, fellow scribes. My, what busy questors you've become! Let me plunge right in (so to speak) to aid in the overall elucidation.

First off, to Slime Lord (elsewhere here at Candlekeep): no, I'm not Ed; yes, my name is going to remain mysterious (sorry); and yes, I'm female (I just checked; cue mental images for Wooly and for Steven).

Secondly, to Melfius: yes, Ed was referring to Mystra possessing Elué Shundar and Iliryztara Veladorn, and yes, Zandilar has the point at which the latter happened spot-on correct.

Thirdly, to Will (sorry: Athenon): Garen Thal is-as always-correct: the saga of the Great Sembian Peace Wall is a tale probably best told by Jeff Grubb.

Which brings me to Ed's responses to Jerry:

Hi, Jerry! Great questions, already ably answered by Garen Thal, but let me have a go:

1. Martin Freyault Illance is a still-very-much-alive, darkly handsome young womanizer of charm, wit, and the ability to become a self-effacing "listener in the background." His uncle, Freyault Illance, who was assassinated in DEATH OF THE DRAGON, was a far more arrogant, flamboyant, non-stop womanizer, of the "There's not a wench in the realm as can withstand my matchless charm! Behold, as I conquer anew!" sort. So, no, they're not the same guy.

Garen is quite correct that Freyault is a family name (first borne by a famous and heroic Illance great-grandsire, who served the Crown well in battles in the Stonelands and what were then termed "the Hullack wilds," or lawless rolling country, now tamed and patrolled farmlands, around the Hullack Forest), and that Martin (a name derived from Delamartina, his exquisitely-beautiful grandmother, reputed to have given birth to no less than four royal bastards whom Vangey "vanished" as newborns; he's thought to have spirited them away, NOT slain them) was bestowed on the younger Illance to distinguish the two of them.

Garen is also quite correct in saying most of the Illance men are womanizers. Let me amplify that: most of the Illance men possess good looks and a womanizing streak that makes the Obarskyrs look timid. This, plus their glib tongues, business successes, and aggressive traits (dueling, intimidating, manipulating) has made the family widely disliked.

2. The published Rayburton lifespans have fallen victim to typos, and should be, as Garen Thal surmised: Onkyl Drethan Rayburton (-40 DR -- 41 DR) being the father of Telarn Erren Rayburton (-21 DR -- 43 DR). An old but still active NDA is threaded through this, and prevents me from giving more details.

3. As you say, it's obvious that House Orthwood regained its noble status sometime between 1227 DR and 1371 DR. As Garen suggests, I'm not going to say why (and yes, as he conjectures, it's most likely the result of Orthwood loyalty during the regency of Salember).

However, I will say this much: restoration of nobility to those who've lost it isn't unprecedented in Cormyr at all! (It IS rare for the "guilty parties," the heads or elders of the house at the time of the loss of nobility, to regain their personal standing within the reign of the same Obarskyr monarch, yes. Nobility is usually restored by a later monarch, in return for demonstrated personal loyalty, aid, or support by members of the "darkshield" [= stripped of nobility] family.) As Garen says: "It is usually younger kin, cousins, and "country knight" types, disgraced by more "refined" relatives closer to the seats of family power, that work for and achieve" restoration of personal or family titles. His point about certain individuals retaining personal military or Court ranks even as their kin are disgraced and even exiled, stands.

Given time, I could go back through the various reigns (notably those of Duar, Iltharl, and post-Salember), and generate a list of well over a dozen such families. However, considering that WotC is waiting for me to turn in three late projects right now, that's time I dare not take.

4. Bam! We run full-tilt into Dreaded NDA Territory. (When you feel the quicksand quaking under your feet, don't slow down, but rather circle quickly to your right and try to go back in the direction you came from...)

Let's see what can be said...

a) Yup, hostilities commenced er, "close to" 1190 DR. I'll have to check with certain other parties to see how specific I can be here.

b) Same again, thanks.

c) Slightly west of the midpoint of the forest, east-west, a bare mile or so in from the north edge. The forest was larger then, but most of its shrinkage (due to woodcutting AND farm clearances rather than just periodic woodcutting) has been on the southern and western edges. Again, to say more about the Hall, I'll have to get clearance.

d) Again, I have to be very careful what I now say about House Drauthglas (read: must get clearance to say more), but Garen Thal is quite correct: unless or until Jeff Grubb and Kate Novak (good friends of mine, and both very busy at present with non-Realms work) make any changes, the published Wyvernspur genealogy is both complete and correct.

Well, let me give a hint more: the Wyvernspurs have enjoyed (earned) great royal favour from time to time, and bestowing territory is one reward monarchs can give. Drauthglas daughters almost certainly married into families who either owed the Obarskyrs debts (which they paid in part by certain land transfers), or who earned enough royal disfavour at some point (or points) to be dispossessed of their Cormyrean holdings.

As for the three "vanished in 710 DR" families: yes, this is an NDA matter, names and all. I agree that "in-game" their names would be known and remembered to this day. However, I can continue to converse here at Candlekeep (at all) only by respecting NDAs - - and sometimes doing so is like walking a tightrope that has a serpentine mind of its own, believe me - - and this is one of those times where we're all just going to have to wait.

With that said, Jerry, please understand that I've really only "answered" your Question 1: I hope to answer everything else some time in the future, in one manner or another (perhaps surprisingly). We may have literally years to wait, I'm afraid, but I WILL keep these questions on my "as soon as I can" list, and, indeed, answer them as soon as I can.

So saith Ed.

Steven, darling, I'd love to meet you "in the flesh" (in all senses of the word; if Ed respects you that much, than you're a man for me), but I have to run and do some clearances for crews rushing south to mop up (restore power and drinking water) after Hurricane Katrina, so my paltry Harpell and Nain revelations will have to wait until tomorrow. Sorry!



On September 1, 2005 THO said: Hello again, fellow scribes. My turn to jaw this time, whilst Ed buckles down and worksworksworks, and my words are a reply of sorts to Steven Schend:

Hi, Steven! Drawing on my memories and notes (the latter are direct dictation of Ed's descriptions during play), here's what I can tell you of Malchor Harpell and Nain Keenwhistler:

Malchor: in facial features, looks like Doctor Strange (only with a "chin fringe" VERY neatly-cropped beard, a la Bruce Heard, and no shock of white hair). Forbidding glossy black eyebrows, eyes so very dark blue as to seem black. Sardonic, intellect instantly apparent when he speaks. Capable of very dry humour, tends to be calm and patient (though he may emit small sighs of resignation) in the face of danger, idiocy on the part of companions, and so on. Now an "elder statesman" of his family due to his intelligence, worldly experience, and skill at getting various wacky Harpells to work together and to reach agreements. He has this status despite the fact that there are plenty of eccentric, take-guff-from-no-one elder Harpells dwelling in Longsaddle.

Malchor isn't "fearless in battle," but seems so to many fellow adventurers because he can and does maintain an outward calm no matter what's happening. He's pragmatic, not overly proud, and like most mages only seems to lust after new magic (spells he hasn't seen before in particular). However, he won't do foolish or reckless things to acquire magic, because "Every day Mystra sends forth more magic than I can ever master in all my life; if I gain not yon spell or tome, another will happen along in my days ahead. My duty is to fully know and fully use the spells I do have."

Although Malchor isn't arrogant, he regards courtiers, military officers, nobility, and even rulers as "no better than the rest of us," and calmly treats them as equals.

He prefers dark, simple (monochrome, no adornments and NEVER any patterns in the fabric) robes and cloaks (black and gray are favoured).

Nain I know a lot less about, because in most of the play I was involved in he was "Malchor's nigh-silent second fiddle." He was tall, laconic, young (younger than Malchor, that is), more cautious than Savengriff and "one for following orders." He obeyed Malchor and looked to him for direction, adhering to the orders he'd been given (and he always asked for orders) if ever he had to operate on his own or be in charge of anything. He said little, but watched and listened and remembered (and so could report events, words said, and descriptions in devastating detail later). A "team player" who'd go into a situation where he knew he was going to get hurt or look bad, because it would benefit the party as a whole, or the aims they were pursuing.

That's pretty much all the useful lore I have. Poor Ed is struggling to finish something for the WotC website and work at the library and shop to replace the depleted household larder after trips to two conventions and do a flood of radio interviews for CITY OF SPLENDORS (though Elaine has done yeoman service handling most of them) and deal with a flood of lore requests from Wizards. However, he'll return with more Realmslore ASAP.



September 2, 2005: Hello again, fellow scribes. Melfius, that "communing" stopped when "the old" Mystra was replaced by Midnight. Despite his reputation in the eyes of some, El isn't automatically the lover of whoever is wearing Mystra's mantle.)

I bring Ed of the Greenwood's reply to Jamallo Kreen's music queries:

Hi. I've covered your queries about best real-world music as examples of Realms "Top 40" already, on Page 64 of the 2004 Questions for Eddie thread (now lurking alone on Page 2 of the Chamber of Sages), and will amplify and augment what I said there (and what's seen print in issue 123 of DRAGON, in "Music of the Forgotten Realms") by saying that "up to the minute pop music" in human Faerūn is advancing on two fronts: the light, piping romantic ballads (akin to Shakespeare's "O Mistris Mine" from Twelfth Night, as performed in a cut "published" most recently on the Dorian CD collection "Elizabeth's Music"), and the emphatic, short-rhyming-couplets, pointed and often saucy or defiant/insolent declamations not requiring much singing voice style exemplified by Steeleye Span's "The King" on (their) PLEASE TO SEE THE KING classic LP (now of course CD), which in the Realms is used for social comment (bitching about rulers and conditions) songs and tavern "rutting songs," bawdy ballads that everyone joins in on the choruses of. Instrumentation isn't yet strongly moving in the direction of bowed strings as it did in the real-world, so much as it's remaining with flute-like woodwinds and carefully-timed [to slow or stop-measure dance cadence, as heard in "O Mistris Mine," referred to above] plucked strings, as in the beautiful "Elspeth of Nottingham" found on both the original LP and the much-truncated Red Bullet CD issue of FOCUS III by the group Focus (yes, they of "Hocus Pocus" fame).

As for lost songs: sheet music is a rarity in the Realms, where most songs "exist" in the heads of minstrels and bards, sometimes "recorded" and preserved in ghost pipes spells and similar magics. Songs get corrupted and deliberately changed by everyone who performs them, to update or make more pleasing the lyrics and to deal with personal vocal and instrument-mastery limitations - - so there are LOTS of "lost" songs, or songs surviving only as brief riffs, refrains, or a saucy or spicy line of lyric, now stitched into other, quite different songs. It's generally accepted that songs are living, everchanging things, and only bards and sages take any care about preserving old versions (except in cases of unpopular rulers, where folk may defiantly and secretly sing "old versions" of songs that praise the previous monarch but have now officially been altered).

All that is remembered (by mortals, anyway) of the lost battle-song of Tempus is that it was a slow march, performed with hand-drum, sword-hilts rapped on belt-buckles or scabbards, and voice, in grim cadence rather like the real-world "Brian Boru's March" and that it remembered the battle-dead, told them they'd not be forgotten, and that their causes would be fought on by the living. It concluded with the desire - - and the promise to foes - - that when the time and occasion were right, Tempus would let the unseen spirits of the dead be there to witness and guide swordarms when the living struck to settle the old score which they'd died fighting for. This fighting of the living, at the end of each verse, was marked by a shouted "Zelzing!"

All that remains of the song in popular memory is a few fragments, thus:

Blood not forgotten
Staring skull faces see all
Fear to spur us, anger to goad us, cold promise to stalk us
Tattered banners taken up, swords swung in the names of those now gone
When their foes come within our reach, up steel and ZELZING!


Tempus guide us, Tempus provide us
Chances to smite foe and win fray and ZELZING!

As for "other celebrated lost songs," the best-known are "Down Dragon," a long and stirring dragonslaying ballad, and "My Lady Lost Today," a lament for a dead lover that was said to have left raucous taprooms in stunned and muffled weeping when performed by the best bards - - taprooms full of folk who through their tears pleaded to hear it again.

All that we have of Down Dragon is the snippet "armor so bright tumbling," and all we have of "My Lady Lost Today" is: "Let bird choke silent and bright sun turn away/The wide Realms all ended: my lady's lost today."

So saith Ed.

Who before his throat operation had a stunning deep voice (Paul Robeson, anyone?) and can still sound impressive.



September 3, 2005: Hello, all. Ed provides a reply to Hoondatha's early April request: "... I couldn't find any signs of any of the realms of elves (unlike the dwarven realms in Dwarves Deep). Which makes it hard to create rally flags, et al. So my question is: what were the signs of the various big elven realms? (Specifically, Myth Drannor, Aryvandaar, Miyeritar, and Ilythiir) Also, did Myth Drannor change its pennant (for lack of a better term) when the mythal was raised, or did they keep the old Cormanthyr sign?"

Ed speaks:

Elf families have banners and badges (the former trailed behind airships or borne on lancetips to denote the head or heir or important member of a house being conveyed, and also flown from tower-tops to denote such a personage being "in residence"), but their realms did NOT have "battle-banners." Such heraldry came into use when elves dwelt with other races, so (for instance), Cormanthyr had no battle-banners, but Myth Drannor did: a horizontal-long-axis oval of twelve twinkling white-haloed-in-purple manypointed stars, floating on a field (vertical-long-axis-oval) of deep forest green.

The banners usually took the form of a triangular cloth mounted on a cross-spar affixed to a spear just behind its head, said triangle's lower point trailing off into a long, long straight-sided tail, ending in a chevron-dag like many pennants, with the Ring of Stars "arms" of Myth Drannor displayed on the triangle, and (much smaller) at the "mouth" end of the pennant tail, where it separated into the two points of the dag.

Mythal cities where several races dwelt in harmony adopted arms; all-elf cities that raised mythals did not.

At first, of course. In the end, many decaying elf cities did all sorts of strange things, heraldic and otherwise, as their societies splintered into conservatives, "reformers" and liberals trying all sorts of new ways, ideas, and customs, and so on.

So saith Ed.

Who's no longer thin enough to properly playact an elf, and was never haughty enough.



September 4, 2005: Hello again, fellow scribes. I come bearing Ed's replies to Rain's questions: "I often get the impression from various sources that the Chosen of Mystra are a bunch of high level good characters who run around killing evil (and I can imagine people in the realms thinking that as well), but what they are really doing is furthering the use of magic and stopping the ones who would restrict it, so regarding that: Has Mystra (apart from Sammaster) had any Chosen who were clearly evil? Have The Chosen ever had to perform 'evil' tasks to help further Mystra's cause? And (this may be a weird question) do the Chosen or their allies (for example The Harpers) know what Mystras overall point with the Chosen are?"

Ed speaks:

First of all, thanks for your kind words, and I hope the various swift and timely scribes' replies to you about Realmspace have taken care of your lore needs for The Dawn Heralds, the Wanderers, and the Tears of Selune.

Now as for the Chosen: Mystra has indeed had evil Chosen (NDAs prevent me from saying much about who, when, why, and so on), but learned that evil beings, whatever their promises to her or initial intent, always drifted into "control" of magic (heavy restrictions), rather than just strategically letting this person but not that person have a particular spell or lore-knowledge. In other words, they always moved towards a situation in which a chosen few (beholden to them or under their overt control) had access to powerful magic, and worked against others enjoying that same access. Even when their intended end result was, say, an empire run by wizards (Thay, for example), the means to creating that empire would be control of magic - - and this control would inevitably corrupt, leading them to value control over dissemination of magic ("Nay, Holy Mystra, the people aren't ready to be handed that magic yet. Let me just prepare them properly first!"/"YOU SAID THE SAME WORDS TO ME SIX SEASONS AGO! WHEN *WILL* THEY BE 'READY'? EVER?").

Yes, all of the Chosen have performed evil tasks (killing wizards, sorcerers, priests, and warriors who sought to control magic, deny magic to others, or use magic to enslave or terrorize others, for instance: even if a "bad guy" was being removed, the murder was still murder) to advance Mystra's aims. Magic has been stolen by Chosen, copied or duplicated against the wishes of (or laws crafted by) its owners by the Chosen, some of the Chosen have tricked, killed, and betrayed (into death-traps) particular rulers, and so on.

Of course the Chosen understand their cardinal role (helping Mystra spread the use of magic throughout Faerūn, by undertaking specific tasks she orders - - some of which they may not understand or see the point of, at all). Most allies of the Chosen know Mystra's creed, too (note that it's incorrect to view the Harpers as staunch allies of the Chosen; what they are is personal friends in many cases, and power groups whose interests [opposing overly-strong rulers] often coincide, leading them to often work together or at least not oppose or expose each other.

Chosen often go temporarily insane or forget things (Elminster's mind-battle in ELMINSTER IN HELL is an example), but if you encounter Chosen portrayed in game play or Realms publications as not knowing or agreeing with this role, either you're seeing other creatures masquerading as Chosen, or encountering the work of a player or DM who doesn't understand the Chosen, and DOES see them as "Ed's meddling old goat wizards and superbabes serving Miss Goody Two-Boots Magic to defeat evil and spread overly-sweet goodness across the Realms."

So saith Ed, who is Storm and Mystra and Halaster and Khelben and Mirt and Alusair just as much as he is Elminster.

A sad announcement, now: Ed must finally fall silent for a week (until next Monday, at least), and I scheduled one of my location assignments to coincide with it so scribes wouldn't be deprived of Ed for TWO weeks (mine and his). So see you all next Monday, I hope. Don't stop posting those questions and comments, now. The unanswered pile is pushing Ed towards immortality fast.

love to all,


September 12, 2005: Hello again, fellow scribes of Candlekeep. Herewith, Ed's reply to Pipers Youth:

Hi, Jason. You're welcome, and thanks for the nice words about my true goodness (is THAT what it is? I just thought this mirror made me look weird...).

Waterdhavian justice is a matter of meticulous recordkeeping, with "backup" written records of every sentence (and pardon, and retrial, and magister's comments) kept at the Palace, in vault-caverns inside Mount Waterdeep, at a secret location outside Waterdeep, and at the Heralds' Holdfast (where they provide something of a social record to the Heralds). So yes, all identities are uncovered (by mind-exploring magic if need be) and recorded.

As for the little fun piece for SILVERFALL, I simply sat down and did the sort of humour piece that I love to write, but which so seldom "fits" any of my Realms writing opportunities these days. It wasn't a dream, but I did make it up as I went along. I didn't want to do a boring character profile, or try to work up stats for anyone, and if I settle on one of the Seven, I inevitably slight the other six - - so I decided to do something that would be a fun read for anyone visiting the website and show everyone something of the banter and interaction between the Seven (which they'll get much more of in SILVERFALL, making the piece a "fair" companion to the book). In other words, something useful to roleplaying but also just good fun for non-gamers.

I'd love to do it again, but I have a castle-full of contracted paying gigs to do and hand in first (before they get much more overdue!).

So saith Ed.

Who often leaves me chortling with the stuff he writes to me, that the wider world never sees. No, I probably shouldn't share. Let's just say that Ed's worked hard over the years making it almost impossible for other individuals to make me blush. HE still can, though.

Oh, and a postscript from Ed, re. halfling orgies: to The Sage, it's not the exotic foods so much as it's how far they can SLIDE in exotic foods.

Also a postscript from Ed to Mkhaiwati: yes, Rhauligan is a Harper but not a Moonstar. His allegiance to Cormyr precludes joining the Moonstars.

And yet another postscript, this one to Gareth Yaztromo from me: Ed created all of the Knights, with names, stats, and backgrounds. We took them over from there, "bringing them alive" if you will, from the character traits and sayings Ed had outlined ("growing" their aims in life from the starter ones Ed provided, for example). When TSR wanted the Realms, we all had to sign release forms, or our characters would just "vanish" from the published Realms. We all did sign those forms, of course.

Another postscript from Ed to Erik Scott de Bie: yes, I made those elven erogenous zones up (plus the backs of the knees, and the throat), tips of the ears being THE most sensitive (when one is in the mood: having part of an ear sliced or bitten away wouldn't send an elf into orgasmic glee).

Oh, yes, and Ed promises to get to a Larloch reply soon; seems this is also blowing up on the Realms list. Let this much be said right now: Ed's REALMS OF THE ELVES tale will include some very brief lore enlightenment re. Larloch.



On September 12, 2005 THO said: Ahhh, as it happens, I can help a little here.

Yes, Ed invented Thorass, and although our characters weren't THAT interested in matters linguistic, we did talk to several sages (including Mellomir, as I recall) about the origins of several tongues. Thorass began, according to HIM (Ed roleplaying him, of course), "for trade purposes, as merchants moved back and forth between the Tashalar and other Shining Sea coastal areas, and the Vilhon, via the Lake of Steam region (specifically, what is now the Border Kingdoms), and needed commonly-intelligible written records." TSR's avoidance of the BK in print has led a lot of Realms fans and users to overlook the area down the years, but it's a vitally important crossroads, and always has been (it's where outlaws have fled to for centuries, from the Calishite struggles right up until yestereve).



September 13, 2005: Hello, all. As promised, Ed attempts a reply about Larloch to Elf_Friend and the various posters who've been sparring on the Realms-list about this same character:

Ah, yes, Larloch. You'll get to see him (briefly) in my story in REALMS OF THE ELVES, and that appearance will show that as Faraer asked, he can be whimsical, and he knows both boredom and a personal code of honour.

It was never my intention to use Larloch to humble PCs (brute force doesn't humble anyone - - only the ability to awe players does), but - - as with the gods - - he can of course be used that way.

It was my intention, as I was turning the Realms from a purely fictional setting to a 1978-version AD&D game setting, to make it as realistic as possible. One of the necessities in doing that, and in giving PCs challenges, is to have entities around (gods, demigods and divine servants, heads of churches, temporal rulers, established high-level adventurers, and so on) who are stronger than the PCs. This not only gives them future foes and "standards" to measure themselves against and aspire to surpassing, it makes the world seem ongoing rather than newly-created around the PCs as an artificial obstacle course.

Larloch is one of those VERY powerful NPCs. An undead who's been chasing and accumulating power for so long that he's beyond possibly being challenged by most (for example) human kings or even archmages. An entity who's conquered and ruled kingdoms, both openly and through dupes, so often and for so long that he's quite bored with doing so, and has moved on to manipulating and steering events for his own entertainment (somewhat in the same way that Elminster manipulates and steers, though for different ends). A being so powerful in magic must inevitably "come to an agreement" with at least Mystra and Azuth, and so his doings and ultimate fate are in some manner bound up with theirs: to destroy Mystra may be to doom or destroy Larloch.

As a storytelling and roleplaying DM, I've always been rather puzzled by players who see EVERYthing powerful as a target they MUST destroy (hence the constant demand for avatar statistics, and the constant cries of, "I MUST kill Elminster! I've gotta smash Larloch!" or gloating boasts of, "I did it! I tore Elminster apart in my campaign!"

Fine, if that turns your crank. But if that's ALL that turns your crank, what are you going to do for kicks tomorrow?

You've just killed Elminster, and Larloch the day before, and you tore apart Szass Tam and Manshoon before that, and laid waste to Shade and Thay and personally ate the last Phaerimm the tenday previous... now what? Is that the only way you can enjoy D&D?

My players are living proof of how much satisfaction one can get by sparring with foes for (literally) years, and ending up in grudging mutual respect (with the PCs inwardly gleeful because they've manipulated the foe into doing something they wanted him to do without him realizing it... and so have demonstrated for themselves that they've moved beyond "my blade swung faster, and I drew more blood and so beat you" adventuring, into being truly worthy of significance in Faerūn, because they have now managed to accomplish things WITHOUT brute force.

To quote from my November 2004 reply on this same topic:

In the same way as too many PC dragonslayings depend upon the dragon being played as a dumb brute, it's highly unlikely that any PC party will have the sheer power to take down Larloch - - and in any war of attrition against his many, many liches and modified powerful undead minions (forty blazing bones over here, a demi-lich over there, various hulking gigantic undead concoted of many battle dead yonder,deceptions galore ("That wasn't Larloch, that was your KING enspelled to look like Larloch! NOW you're in trouble!"), traps that release disease, poisoned this, poisoned that [like, ahem, the PCs' drinking water] etc. etc.), a party of PCs would have to be stupid indeed not to figure out that destroying Larloch just isn't worth the effort.

Like most gods in most situations, Larloch doesn't NEED to stand and fight when it's not to his advantage. Like gods, he doesn't need to sleep, and most PCs do. So he'll just have his minions harry them until they're stumbling-exhausted, and then throw MORE minions at them. Larloch isn't insane or stupid enough to need to show up in person to gloat; subtly controlling things from afar is what he DOES, and enjoys. So PCs can expect to find themselves attacked by civil authorities in whatever realm they're in, and then brigands, and then a few guilds, never being allowed to sleep without yet another undead attack - - and even zombies and skeletons can wear you down when they come in waves, dozens daily, for day after night after month.

And if the PCs DO win their ways through all the liches to Larloch, "he" will almost certainly be just another lich (loaded with explosive spells) set up as a decoy, with dozens of hidden liches waiting to pounce on any surviving PCs who 'celebrate' after they take Larloch down. As the REAL Larloch watches (magical scrying) from afar.

Myself, as DM, I'd be wondering: "Such a glorious game, so many opportunities laid out before your PCs to devote your time to, and THIS fixation is the best you can come up with? Are you SURE you're adventurers?"

And as my lovely Lady Hooded added at that time:

I take the view that if a DM tells you that a city your PCs are visiting is surrounded by a ring of hills, it requires a lot of PC insanity to try to destroy the hills "just because they're there." Consider Larloch a hill, part of the furniture of the Realms Ed has presented to you, not a target. Sounds like the very worst sort of power-gaming to me, and although we all need an outlet to just SMASH something once in a while, I'd hesitate to call this approach "roleplaying."

However, to deal specifically with some of the queries raised about Larloch here and on the Realms-list (and if a Candlekeep scribe would be kind enough to repost this entire reply over there, I'd be grateful): I have NEVER postulated Larloch as a being who "cannot be destroyed." I have suggested that PC attempts to down him reveal stooge-lich after stooge-lich (so that a PC who wants to talk to Larloch and manages to pique his curiosity enough to get an audience could indeed chat, and if they entertained Larloch enough could gain courteous, useful answers from him - - though to a good DM this would be a great chance to roleplay a "difficult" conversation that leaves the PCs involved quaking in their boots, throughout - - but a PC who thought they could dupe Larloch into a party ambush by trying to talk with him would discover that they'd destroyed not the real Larloch, but merely one of his many, many servitor liches, whom he was speaking through).

Of course any DM can do anything he or she wants in their own Realms campaign. If taking out Larloch entertains your players and they attempt it, fine. I've created an undead that should (like the old Rod of Seven Parts) give them several stages of victories and hard fights before they truly emerge victorious.

What I HAVE done from the beginning is strongly suggest that any DM trying to be "true to the Realms" show PCs the consequences of everything they do. If you try to take out Larloch, this is what else will happen: here's whom (and what) he keeps in check, or how many liches have now been freed to race all over Faerūn trying to do what they for so long have been prevented from doing... and so on. "The interconnectedness of all things" holds sway in the Realms as it does in our real world. If you want to take out Larloch, do you really understand what you're setting in motion? Are all the unfolding consequences what you really want to have happen?

Any DM is free to alter the Realms as they see fit before players unleash their characters into it, and is also free to let the players topple as many powerful Realms NPCs as they want to. The farther you get from the published Realms, the more ongoing adaptation work a DM is letting himself in for, but doing so isn't going to upset me. If someone gloatingly tells me at a convention that their character killed Elminster and ate him or bedded all of the Seven Sisters at once and then killed them it's not going to upset me. (Thought it is, as several gamers have discovered, going to make me puzzled enough to ask them WHY they did such things.)

As Faraer correctly pointed out here (back in November 2004): "The Realms has always worked on the principle that NPCs can do whatever the DM needs them to do, not what the books say, this being a storytelling game rather than a referencing game." So DMs should feel free to change NPCs to their hearts' content.

As for Elf_Friend's question about Larloch's rivals, this just makes me sigh. The problem with gamers wanting to take down powerful NPCs (and published Realms sourcebooks providing ultra-detailed stats for said NPCs) is that too often the Hammer Problem arises (the old saying: "To a man with a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail."). We all rush past trying to understand the aims, motives, and essential character of an NPC to get to the crunch details of how we can best him in combat.

Let's look at Elf_Friend's multipart question in detail (and please note, Elf_Friend, that these are perfectly legitimate queries that don't upset me in the slightest; glad you asked):

"I'm wanting your thoughts regarding who his rivals are that might still be alive, or undead."

Answer: I'm not sure Larloch has any direct rivals. For centuries he's worked at "fading away behind the scenes," so only legend tells us he's still around, or what he might be up to. Is he trying to attain godhood? Immortality? Freedom from the machinations of gods? Some mysterious magical goal or goals?

A DM must decide such things in order to conclude whether or not Larloch has any rivals. If you mean: beings of roughly the same power, who COULD be worthy opponents if they came into conflict with Larloch, then all sorts of possibilities arise, from Hesperdan and Iyraclea to Shaaan and dozens more not yet given prominence in the published Realms, to say nothing of the more obvious Khelben, The Simbul, and so on. The DM had better decide what all of them want, and are striving for, too.

Back to Elf_Friend: "To what expense would he spare to get rid of them [the rivals] and/or get them under his control?"

Again, this presupposes that Larloch is a sort of gunslinger with spells, ready to blast or control any adversary that challenges him. He isn't. Neither are Szass Tam, Manshoon, or Elminster. Proof? Well, if any of them were, most of Faerūn would be hill after plateau after mountain range of blackened, blasted, smouldering ash, not bustling, vigorous kingdoms.

Larloch delights in gaining new magic, developing or creating new magic, and in manipulating mortals (on whims, for his own entertainment and occasionally to reassure himself that he CAN still manipulate them with such skill) without them noticing, without any onlooker seeing his hand at work, and so on. So like Elminster, he doesn't want to "get them under his control," but he DOES want to be able to manipulate them at will, into doing the things he wants, without all the bother of ruling them or showing up to give them orders and threaten or bribe or cajole them: that's the sort of crass stuff he did centuries ago, and has outgrown. Why get rid of a potential rival when the rival's very power makes him useful to you? As a weapon or tool you can use to shape someone else? Or have that someone else destroy for you, while you sit and watch the fun (a la the Addams Family, and their model trains sent into headlong trainwrecks) you've brought about by your own deft manipulations? ("So she hates him, and he hates her? Let's see if I can have them bedding each other within a tenday, and married before month-end, in a union that will last for decades!")

Back to Elf_Friend again: "What could a high level character do for him to sit up and take notice?"

Ahem: any adventurer who's reached "high level" has ALREADY come to Larloch's notice, and is being watched (from time to time) by Larloch's spies (most of whom, if they're not undead, are unwitting spies). Any expressed desire to contact Larloch, best or destroy Larloch, or work with Larloch will cause him to notice. Please note, from all I've said above: "notice" does NOT mean send legions of undead to destroy the 'impudent' PC, or show up personally in a rage to destroy said PC and thereby step into the players' elaborately-arranged trap. It means Larloch watches the PC more closely, and tries to manipulate them in small, subtle ways to see what happens.

And THAT preceding sentence of mine should give a good DM gleeful fun to fill years of rich Realms-campaign roleplaying.

So saith Ed.

Who wants to reiterate that none of this online discussion upsets him, but does want some things set straight before readers entirely get the wrong ideas about Ed's own intentions and views.

Always remember, folks, that Ed created the Realms first and foremost for himself, before there even was a D&D game.

As he told Gary Gygax once: "Well, it seemed a lot more fun than relabelling the squares around the board on a MONOPOLY game, and even more fun than drawing a fantasy map for DIPLOMACY that had more fords and inland seas and fiddly bits."

So there you have it (she said, bracing herself for the flood of responses). Guess this torpedoes my "Larloch In Love" novel proposal...

love to all,


September 14, 2005: Hello, all. Ed wants everyone to know that he's struggling not to fall TOO far behind on his replies - - wherefore some recent queries, that can be swiftly and easily answered because of the directions of his own ongoing Realms-work, are being quickly answered, and others are taking much longer.

Which is why he's herewith tackling this question by Sanishiver (J. Grenemyer), which came with thanks that Ed begins his reply by responding to: "On average, is the typical reaction of the City Watch of Waterdeep consistent throughout the various Wards of the City whenever young noblemen engage in 'harmless' destruction while play-battling on someone else's property and are confronted by the Watch, such that said nobles can offer up the promise of compensation with the expectation that they'll not be arrested, be given back their weapons and be allowed to go on their merry way?"

Ed speaks:

You're very welcome. Elaine and I had great fun breathing life into the Gemcloaks, and as you point out, painting divers details of Waterdeep and Waterdhavian life into the prose throughout the novel, to give 'borrowing' DMs some rich nuggets.

The Watch (see also THE NIGHT TYMORA SNEEZED, my 2004 Spin A Yarn tale posted on the Wizards website, and my tale in REALMS OF THE DRAGONS) have a primary duty to keep the peace. Which means this: tolerate individual fights unless there's a strong possibility of large brawls or general riots or death occurring, authority being defied, or a panic or fire starting (which is why they move so swiftly and in such numbers when tavern brawls erupt), but VERY quickly and firmly confine violence and lawlessness, and remove belligerents (both hotheads and drunks) to the dungeons, to sleep the night away and be released upon payment of a fine [this also allows the Watch and the Guard to mind-probe or interrogate suspicious individuals, in the privacy of the lockup]. The Watch is primarily a 'swing fists to keep order' force, not fighting soldiery (they call in the Guard for that), but the safety of the city is paramount, and they can be quite brutal with visiting outlanders who behave dangerously.

The real answer to your question is: it depends on who's involved. In a rough 'worst to best treatment' that the Watch renders, folk go from visiting laborers (and beggars, and folk seeking work) at the bottom, through visiting sailors, visiting peddlers and poor pilgrims, visiting 'small merchants,' Waterdhavian beggars, children, unemployed, and 'day-laborers,' visiting wealthy and successful merchants, guilded Waterdhavians, outlander wizards and important priests, wealthy and successful Waterdhavian widows and 'idle gentry,' wealthy and successful Waterdhavian active merchants, Waterdhavian wizards, Waterdhavian high-ranking priests, Waterdhavian young or wastrel or elderly 'sideblood' nobles, Waterdhavian officials of all sorts (according to rank, with magisters at the top), Waterdhavian noble heirs, and Waterdhavian senior nobles, with the heads of Waterdhavian noble houses and the Lords highest of all.

In other words, if young wastrel nobles are playfighting in the courtyard of a noble villa, they can expect to get arrested if the owner of said villa demands it; if they are playfighting in Dock Ward, they can expect to go free. If they harm a noble heir, and the patriarchs of the heir demand justice, they'll face justice (though usually noble families meet in private to settle things, unless the families involved are already feuding).

Drunkards and murderous hotheads (a young noble who tries to stab or hack someone as a Watch officer observes him, when said target isn't already attacking him) WILL be arrested.

Nobles usually get released upon payment of fines, or (depending on their character, behaviour, testimony about why they acted as they did, and the character of the ranking Watch officer on duty) given a lecture and then released in the dead of night. Sometimes their weapons are confiscated, or kept and returned to their elder kin by the Watch so as to embarrass them into not behaving so badly again (to some older nobles, family reputation is EVERYTHING).

It's also important to note that nobles don't play pranks and get off "Scot-free" (to use an old real-world expression rooted in escaping English justice by getting over the border into Scotland): they pay for everything they break, plus a bit extra to mollify angry merchants, the next day, via their stewards (or sometimes, family factors [= trade agents] or seneschals), who visit the aggrieved merchants to "settle up." Money is everything in Waterdeep; nobles who don't pay for what they break lose prestige and tend to be harshly treated by kin, peers, and the Watch (not believed or trusted if involved in future troubles, not seen as good investment risks or marriage material, and so on). Of course, FEMALE nobles who indulge in wild behaviour are considered scandalous by the city - - but admired and even avidly chased and courted by 'wild' male nobles, and by the lowlives in Dock Ward, who admire and understand such "kicking over the traces" conduct.

So nobles may be arrested if they start battles in Sea Ward or North Ward and damage the property and peace of wealthy, noble, or successful folk (and visitors staying in expensive inns); they'll certainly be quickly 'run off.' They may also be arrested anywhere for their own safety (if the Watch judges hustling them out in a jailbound Watch lock-wagon is the best way to extricate them alive), or if their pranks bid fair to start a large fire or a huge brawl. Otherwise, they can "cut up fair" with impunity in Dock Ward, South Ward, and Trades Ward (impunity meaning they face merchants defending property, and the Watch moving in as soon as things get out of hand). They'll have to be "quick and sharp" to play pranks involving swordplay and destruction in most places in Castle Ward, will be arrested promptly if they try anything more than individual duels in the City of the Dead, and ditto in Sea Ward and North Ward. Please note that this DOESN'T mean the Watch will stand by and watch duellists proceed to the death; it means they won't charge in with weapons drawn if they see only two combatants, but stop to ask what's going on first.

So saith Ed, who's hard at work trying to finish up several projects for Wizards, because he's deep in planning future works for 2009 and beyond!

(And no, he won't even breathe hints about them, even to me, so don't ask.)



September 15, 2005: Hi, everyone. In yet another bound-to-be-controversial gods and divine spellcasters reply, Ed deals with Jamallo Kreen's question: "If a caster of "divine" spells comes from outside 3E Realmspace with a class or prestige class other than "cleric" which very specifically allows access to "divine" spells without prayer to a deity ("Favored Soul," for instance), are they... ah... stuff outta luck without a Torilian patron (as they were in 2E) unless one of the above-suggested flukes occurs? What of spellcasters who rely on spirits for their spells but who come from outside Realmspace? Are there local spirits anxious to grant spells in order to add another worshipper/friend/whatever to their collection (not least because said mobile spellcaster can be a useful defender for them)? Or do the spirits of Toril arch their eyebrows at such types with an attitude of, "Why should we give spells to someone who would associate with Mount Watchmacallit on Planet Xyz?""

Ed replies:

Hear now my usual caveat: I'm not (and have never been) a WotC staff designer, and am not the best source for game rules "rulings," official or otherwise. However...

To gain divine spells in Realmspace, one MUST have a patron deity to grant them (one cannot worship an alignment, idea, concept, or principle and receive spells in answer to prayers). However, as Asgetrion suggested, "perhaps one of the Toril's deities would actually grant this divine spellcaster his spells, while trying to subtly convert/manipulate this priest to worship him/her in the long run?" I'll go Asgetrion one further: I'd say that it's very likely that a god of the Realms would almost always grant the 'wandering' divine spellcaster spells, in hopes of gaining a temporary tool or agent to further their aims, if not a new worshipper in the long run.

So, to borrow Wooly Rupert's phrasing, "a local deity with a similar portfolio or alignment" WILL usually "grant your spells - - either out of a similarity to your deity, or an agreement with that deity," or in hopes of their own gain. It's like paying a nickel to buy the contents of an entire house: likely to reap something worth more than the magical expenditure, no matter what turns up. And yes, to echo Wooly's point about 1st and 2nd level spells "coming back" just generally, if you want to maintain that in 3.5e Realms (and I as a DM would), just assume that granting such low-level spells is done automatically by greater gods to anyone of the right alignment (it's one of the things that makes and keeps them "greater").

So saith Ed.

Doing the stealthy, gentle Canadian compromise thing, as usual.

love to all,


September 16, 2005: Hello, all. Ed just sent me a "business of the moment" multi-reply, and here 'tis:

To Brom Greenstar, Mystery_Man, and Sanishiver: you're all very welcome! A pleasure!

Dargoth: WotC has said a firm "No!" to that Bane novel many times now, the latest time being at GenCon Indy 2005, whereat I asked several times, with well-prepared arguments. Sorry.

I CAN'T just write about whatever I want to write about: novels must be fully outlined and approved. I have a lot of freedom at the first draft stage, but that doesn't mean, if I veer off from writing something about, say, the Knights of Myth Drannor into "Return of Bane, Told At Last" territory, that it would survive the editor's scalpel. Remember, that scalpel always comes last. On many of my books, for various reasons, I've never seen galleys: things have jumped from my turning in a "final" draft to seeing the published book in the stores.

Sanishiver: a City Watch campaign set in Waterdeep could be GREAT fun. Have a glance at Terry Pratchett's Night Watch in the Discworld novels - - not for the misfit members taken to extremes, or the humour (though Terry's novels are both screamingly funny and superb satire), but for how interesting the lives and unfolding adventures of a Watch patrol can become when its membership does exhibit a lot of gender and racial variety. How about a Watch patrol where one member is disgraced nobility; another secretly in the pay of an outlander merchant trying to learn all he can about "business opportunities" in Waterdeep (i.e. who the moneylenders are, how much they'll usually loan, what loans they like and what pitches they'll nix - - and who the guildmasters are and what directions they're aiming their guilds in), where the Watch member somehow discovers, a year or more into the secret relationship, is really trying to learn all of Waterdeep's important NPCs for a secret Amnian financial takeover attempt; another is being blackmailed by Waterdhavians; still another came to Waterdeep to escape a past somewhere else, that inevitably catches up with him when someone ELSE comes to Waterdeep... and so on.

Jamallo Kreen, your two Sept. 14th questions happen to touch on matters I've been thinking or working on just now, so here are some swift replies:

1. "Does becoming the Chosen of a deity confer agelessness and (near) immortality regardless of whether the deity lives or dies, or do the body clocks of the Chosen start ticking when their deity dies?"

The body clocks of the Chosen start ticking the moment their deity dies, accepts their renunciation of Chosen status, or strips them of Chosen status (losing the portion of divine essence they hold; mortals who don't hold some spark or mote of divine essence aren't truly "Chosen," regardless of what titles they may use or be given).

2. "I note that hurting a Lord of Waterdeep merits immediate punishment and that the punishment is more severe than for hurting a non-Lord. If only one Lord is "open," is the punishment for harming a "hidden" Lord equal to or worse than that for harming anyone else? If worse, how is the punishment justified without revealing the Lord's identity?"

The city would never reveal the identity of a Masked Lord by bringing such a charge unless the Lord was murdered, beyond reasonable likelihood of resurrection. The legal charge exists for instances when one or more Lords wearing their masks are attacked in public (e.g. at a Council meeting).

What 'really happens' in most cases of Masked Lords being murdered or severely wounded, is that the killers are either slain on the spot or after a hunt, or captured, disabled (usually painfully), and thoroughly mind-reamed by Khelben (or sometimes Tarthus, Laeral, or a senior Watchful Order magist) to learn what they know, their fate thereafter depending on precisely what is learned of their motives, mental state at the time of the attack (were they being controlled by someone else?), and capabilities (how dangerous are they?). In other words, some Lord-attackers down the years have quietly "disappeared" rather than facing proper public justice.

And no, the Magisters don't officially know who any of the Masked Lords are, though some of them may make some pretty shrewd personal guesses, and "everyone" seems to "know" that Mirt the Moneylender is a Lord.

So saith Ed.

Who will return with more replies on the morrow.

love to all,


September 16, 2005: Hello, all. I forwarded the WotC board thread and the posts here to Ed, on the topic of races presented in the Realms, and here's his reply:

Sigh. I suppose this is what inevitably happens when almost two decades have elapsed since the launch of the published Realms.

For the record, folks, "my" (original) Realms has always been inhabited by humans of all sorts of skin hues. With different cuisines (Volo's Guides, anyone?), fashions, dialects, and architecture, too. As far as racism, conscious or unconscious, goes, I fail to see how a calmly-reasoning person can detect any such thing in the design of the Realms (note: as opposed to the attitudes of particular Faerūnian characters) when the setting features different races (elves, dwarves, halflings, humans, orcs) dwelling together, marrying, and interbreeding (half-orcs and half-elves have been in the D&D game from the beginning, and in the Realms before D&D existed). The Savage North (where much early Realmsplay occurred) tends to be dominated by Nordic-hued humans, but from the outset I furnished TSR with descriptions of the folk of Turmish, Calimshan, et al that were very "eclectic" - - and Waterdeep was stressed as a veritable 'United Nations' of different folk, in my first turnover packages. I'm a Canadian, remember, who grew up in the most multicultural city in the world (Toronto), so a skin-colour-mix is 'normal' for me, not unusual.

However, what the posters on the WotC list are obviously forgetting, or are too young to realize when they make statements about my design, is that the published Realms has a 'look and feel' dominated by TSR artists and editors of the time, and their determination that Tolkienesque fantasy sold, so Tolkienesque (and King Arthur, and Merrie Olde Englande of Robin Hood fame) was what was going to be emphasized. And so it was.

I had several TSR fiction editors change characters to white "because that's what the majority of our audience will identify with," and that, after all, is one of the root goals of a publisher.

I'd appreciate it if a kindly scribe (Kuje?) will post this to the WotC boards; my antiquated computer system prevents me from doing so.

And Zandilar, there's nothing wrong with "colour blindness." THAT's true non-racism; it's only folks caught up in racist attitudes, disputes, and controversies who repeatedly pay attention to skin colour. I deal with people as individuals; I may be interested in their personal backgrounds, but I don't see them as members of a monolithic "people" (because these days, with the exception of a few isolated tribes, no one truly is).

To GothicDan on the WotC boards: Chult was indeed part of my original Realms. It didn't have Ubtao or the "Lost World" elements (those were added by TSR), but it did have the jungles with their fearsome monsters (and LOTS of serpentfolk), and black-skinned (I use the word "black" here because I really mean coal-black hued) human tribes inhabiting them. Nor did I not detail the cosmology until the publisher asked me to; the Realms had a detailed cosmology before there was a D&D game. It's hard for people to reach proper conclusions in any discussion dominated by inaccurate statements (assumptions, I assume) about what I did or thought or now believe. Please remember that I handed TSR a detailed continent that they chose (necessarily at first due to limited time and resources, but later deliberately) to spotlight only tiny portions of: Waterdeep and the North, the Dales and the Heartlands). Even after nigh-twenty years of Realms products, Sembia and the Border Kingdoms and many other areas (not just cities) are relatively undetailed, in print. They are not all so undetailed in my basement full of boxed notes, nor even in the various lore packages I turned over to TSR and WotC over the years. Just last week I was asked to "create" a map of a place that I'd actually handed to TSR in 1986, and which they'd never published and subsequently lost.

I say again: the focus on the "bright white" area of the Realms is the result of publishing decisions, not of the underlying design.

However, there's nothing at all wrong with this debate, so long as it stays calm and people pay attention to exactly what other posters post, and try to keep things reasoned and factual as possible.

One of my fiercest ongoing battles with TSR and later WotC, down the years, has been my desire to geographically cover the entire surface of the globe, Faerūn first, and their desire to feature just a few areas over and over again.

So saith Ed, who's hard at work on a non-Realms project (!) for WotC.

And no, neither he nor I will say more.

love to all,


September 16, 2005: According to some private discussions Ed of the Greenwood had at GenCon Indy this year, the second movie will be much better than the first (I realize that's not saying a lot), and the third movie will be better yet.

With that said, we all know that true fans of the game will always be disappointed at SOMEthing (probably several somethings) in any D&D movie.

However, the studio was sufficiently impressed with this second movie for a plan to arise (that fell through) to fly Ed and Gary Gygax to see a screening of the movie so their reactions could be recorded for a commentary track on the DVD. As I said, this didn't happen - - but if the movie was bad, the execs would hardly want to invite a trashing.

And there are some good reasons why the first movie ended up so not-good, involving money running out and some scenes not being filmed at all.

Oh, well, there's always Jackson's LOTR...



September 17, 2005: Hello again, all. Ed's reply to Pipers Youth reminded him that he'd never answered Ardashir's query from back in January about that same amusing little SILVERFALL web piece. Wherefore:

Yes, Ardashir, I've written about twenty short stories of that sort, and countless little snippets. I often used to entertain my players (in the days before TSR bought the Realms) with little "Ed (gulp) meets Storm while she's strolling around unclad, and struggles to keep his gaze away from certain vistas, to her vast and teasing amusement" or suchlike tales, often only about a page long. My players loved them, and used to "re-use" them by substituting the names of real people for the characters' names (a trick anyone can use to temporarily turn, say, a Harlequin romance into a laugh riot). I'll have to figure out ways to sneak more of them into places where Realms fans can see them. Plying Peter Archer with strong drink at GenCon was my "classic" plan, but he stands tall, unresponsive to such blandishments. On the other hand, it was he who championed "Edtime Stories" as a "someday" WotC book. :}

So saith Ed.

Who I can just see putting the salacious finishing touches on such a tome. I'd buy it, but then... you all know what I'm like.



September 18, 2005: Hello again, scribes. I present Ed's reply to Asgetrion's late May questions about local lords in Cormyr (Ed will deal with the guilds questions posed in the same post, at some later time): "The local lords and heralds seem to leave few duties for the nobility, so I would like to know if the local nobility has any authority over commoners in rural communities in Cormyr, and what are their duties to the Crown? What is the difference between nobility and the local lords? Is there any rivalry between the noble families and the Heralds? I am also curious about the fact that none of the local lords in Cormyr seem to come from the Realm's many prominent noble families - why? Are these posts seen by nobility as only fit for "upstarts" who wish to "get their hands dirty with commoner trash", or perhaps the King has always wished to fill these posts with people he can trust (such as ex-Purple Dragons or ex-adventurers)?"

Ed speaks:

First of all, a reminder to all scribes again that Heralds (and heralds; and yes, there IS a difference) are NDA'd right now, so I'll say nothing about them.

The nobility in Cormyr typically, down the centuries, tried to behave like absolute tyrants (killing "commoners," raping or forcibly marrying them, seizing their land and property at will, and so on). As a result, the nobles have seen more and more of their real power stripped from them by ever-stronger laws protecting the rights of "citizens" (commoners) passed by the Crown and enforced by Purple Dragons (loyal to the Crown, not nobles) and the War Wizards (loyal to the realm, not the Crown nor the nobles). This has resulted in Cormyr becoming one of the strongest, most resilient, "loyal" kingdoms in Faerūn, and having a steady stream of rebellious nobles.

Nobles are also, by definition, "entitled" to their powers, by birth. They may or may not be incompetent or corrupt, but they certainly have a higher chance of being so than persons appointed into office by a monarch on merit, who feel personal loyalty to that monarch for elevating them.

All of which is why Azoun IV appointed his own local administrators, giving them the title of "Lord" to make it clear that they held his royal authority, and were just as "good" as any noble (Myrmeen Lhal in Arabel, a female, is "Lady Lord of Arabel," not "Lady of Arabel"). His local lords are his judges, eyes, and military commanders locally (although in all of these roles they can be overruled by specialists "sent in" by the Crown: War Wizards to act as judges, as seen in my story "The Grinning Ghost of Taverton Hall;" War Wizards, Highknights, and others to act as spies; and Purple Dragon officers of sufficient rank to act as military commanders), fulfilling such roles so that the neighbourhood nobles don't have to - - or try to. So you're quite right: "the King has always wished to fill these posts with people he can trust (such as ex-Purple Dragons or ex-adventurers)." The occasional local lord (Ildool) has 'gone bad,' but on the whole Azoun knows he can trust his local lords far more than he can any collection of nobles.

Nobles may now sneer at local lords and their work (and some of them may secretly be quite relieved not to have to try to carry out those duties), but the truth is, Azoun barred them all from such service. Not explicitly, but for the few exceptional individuals among the nobility he could trust as local lords, he doesn't want to make them hated or endangered by other nobles because they are singled out as trusted exceptions.

Cormyrean nobles do have roles and duties to the Crown: they sit as juries in local justice (along with commoners), can dispense temporary justice or military leadership in the absence of local lords, magisters, and Purple Dragon officers of rank. They have duties to report to Crown officers irregularities they perceive in the behaviour of local lords, outlander visitors, commoners, and everyone else in "their lands," and all "information, rumors, and sightings that may of interest to the security of the realm" (War Wizards investigate these reports, not trusting in them at all until corroborated by their own findings).

Nobles also have the duties of serving on road-patrols when commanded to by the Crown, and furnishing food, drink, shelter, remounts, and even reinforcements (in the form of themselves or trained-to-arms servants and bodyguards) to Crown military forces when the Crown deems it needful (a Purple Dragon force can ride up to the gates of a noble and demand - - not request - - shelter).

Many nobles are proud to serve their country, and rise high in rank among courtiers at the Royal Court or within the ranks of the Purple Dragons. Azoun just didn't trust enough nobles to let them do it without his own hand-picked, competent personnel (the "local lords") in place to make sure the needs of the realm were served well.

So saith Ed.

Creator of Cormyr, Azoun, the War Wizards and Purple Dragons, and almost all of those pesky nobles, too.

love to all,


September 19, 2005: Hello, fellow scribes. Ed of the Greenwood replies to Skeptic's request for information on the laws and enforcement of drug use, sale, and production in Waterdeep:

The drug trade in Waterdeep is largely confined to Skullport (dealing, storage of large amounts): "topside" or in the city proper there is no drug production and only runner-to-client selling, face to face (some nobles send their stewards, bodyguards, or trade agents to buy). Aside from the Serpent and certain individuals detailed in Eric Boyd's superb CITY OF SPLENDORS: WATERDEEP sourcebook, runners tend to be lone individuals or gangs of no more than three (a runner and two "lookouts," often young children, such as girls, who serve the runner as eyes and as places to stash drugs if the Watch approaches; Watch officers will be far more reluctant to search a young girl's crotch than the body of a hard-bitten, known-to-them Dock Ward tough).

A Lords' Edict was long ago issued banning the making and selling of drugs in Waterdeep - - so the "crime" involved is Willful disobedience of Any Edict (exile for 5 years or a 1,000-gp fine, the former enacted on all outlanders and non-property owners, the latter against all Waterdhavian landowning citizens - - who will find themselves VERY closely watched for a month, then again in the third month, because the Watch wants to catch and fine them again). It's not a crime to use drugs, nor (strictly speaking) to possess them. In practice, nobles and wealthy merchants will receive nothing but a stern "we're watching you" warning if caught with either small or large amounts of drugs, but a "commoner" merchant or labourer will be assumed to have the drugs to sell, and will be sentenced accordingly (unless members of the Guild of Apothecaries & Physicians).

Aside from those guild members, drugs that can readily be used to kill (even just with overdoses) can, if the Watch or magisters involved desire it, be treated as poisons, and arrested beings are charged with "Murder" even though no killing has yet occurred. (Waterdhavian justice has no "attempted murder" or "intended murder" charges, so what happens is a murder trial, usually resulting in a sentencing for "Murder With Justification" (5-year exile or 3 years of enforced hard labour).

Please bear in mind that Waterdeep has no "war on drugs" real-world attitude, because alchemy, doctoring, and the like all approve of using herbal and created substances to help the sick or injured, and most clergy use mind-altering or pain-numbing herbs and "drugs" as part of their rituals. Drugs are only seen as bad when they are clearly intended to be used to incapacitate someone so they can be taken advantage of (killed, robbed, raped, kidnapped, made to sign or say things they otherwise wouldn't, and so on). Poisons are always seen as bad except when used with state sanction in war, or by physicians as part of medical treatment (and this latter use is VERY closely watched).

So saith Ed.

Who will return with more Realmslore soon.

love to all,


September 20, 2005: Hello once more, fellow scribes. I bring to you this time three informational notes, and Ed's latest replies to The Sage.

First the notes:

All scribes who enjoy Ed's fiction should make sure not to miss the fourth "outtake" from ELMINSTER; THE MAKING OF A MAGE, entitled "Revenge Among Thieves." It can be found in the Wizards Book archives page, and was actually posted back in August. I missed seeing it, despite knowing it was going to appear, and I haven't found any mention of it here at Candlekeep, so... at your service, gentles.

The non-Realms project I mentioned has begun to appear on the WotC Legendology page: it's a novelette entitled "Oroon Rising."

Ed will "fall silent" here at Candlekeep this coming Saturday (September 24th), and perhaps the Sunday as well, as he'll be Guest of Honour (again) at Phantasm in Peterborough, Ontario (it's at the Market Hall Theatre in the downtown, at 336 George Street North: look for the obviously historic-age clock/bell tower). Ed will be running a workshop on getting published on Saturday, from 10am-2pm, then running a (2nd Edition, with the usual Baron's Blades characters as PCs) Realms roleplaying session from 3-7pm, answering questions during the 7-8 dinner break, and then on Sunday running the same Realms roleplaying session again, from 10am-2pm. Phantasm is a long-established, small, informal local con, so if you really want a chance to talk to Ed at length, this is it!

And now, Ed's words to The Sage:

Hi. Regarding the non-Realms project: it's finished and turned in. How soon it will appear is up to certain web folk at WotC, but I believe I'll be able to enlighten you further soon.

Regarding this query of yours: "What can you tell us about other previous "Gemcloak"-like organisations (and I use the term loosely) who may have decided to ply their "trade" in Waterdeep? Certainly, every noble or wealthy family in the City of Splendors has the potential to "breed" such individuals, but I'd like to know more about specific groups that may exist (or perhaps existed in the past) that we have never even heard about."

There are and have been constant cabals and cliques of young nobles; some of them even survive as the nobles age to become "old fat nasty uncles" (that's the stereotype, regarding lechers who delight in shocking and scandalizing at feasts; you saw passing glimpses of a few of them in the revel Elaith held, in CITY OF SPLENDORS). Like the 'gangs' (and I'm using this term very loosely, to apply to groups who "hang out together" as opposed to armed and possibly criminal street bands of youths who have initiations and gain wealth and power through the reputations they build by doing illicit and daring things) most real-world youth form in high school, the nobles of Waterdeep are constantly forming (and shifting, and re-forming) groups who "go on social prowls" together.

Female nobles seldom gather in groups to do adventurous or even 'on the street' expeditions, unless said groups are two or at most three friends, who may go shopping together (along with many servants to handle their money, carry their purchases, and protect them). Female groups tend to be 'gossip circles' who gather at each other's villas, or 'go off together' to talk at revels and feasts. VERY occasionally the most daring female nobles will "put on mens' clothing" and go to visit a tavern (or even a higher-class festhall), or get in a coach together for a daring (with much squealingin excitement and peering about) "rumble through Dock Ward."

However, the prankplaying, sword-swinging, mischief-in-the-streets behaviour you saw the Gemcloaks exhibit (complete with the "ultimate in naughtiness" hideout in DOCK Ward!) in CITY OF SPLENDORS is almost exclusively male noble behaviour (and occasionally adopted by the sons of very rich non-noble merchants, aspiring to be noble, or guildmembers' sons, "pretending" at being both for a lark and so they can damage someone's shop or goods or person and have it blamed on "idiot wastrel nobles."

As you can guess, these groupings are far too numerous, short-lived, and mutable to even attempt to list. Few of them both to give themselves names or uniforms, though they tend to delight in using passwords and writing cryptic coded notes to each other signed only with (adopted, not heraldic) symbols. So there have been thousands of Gemcloak-like organizations, but only about a dozen recent or still active "named" cabals that I can recall. Most of them begin as ways to enhance reputation and so be able to bed more lasses (on the one hand) and (on another) to justify to disapproving elders and parents group activities (such as tavern-crawls and festhall "wild wenching expeditions") in Dock Ward or other "disreputable" parts of the city, by passing them off as investments and business-related, conducted through the group.

Here are a few of the named cabals:

So saith Ed.

I've sweetly chopped him off in mid-speech so as not to run up against the post-length-limit, but I promise those groups he speaks of will appear here tomorrow.

Furious, Sage? Chase me and chastise me (I implore you). Get your whip, and I'll giggle and wait right here until you return, before fleeing...

(And the usual rules apply: if I ever get out of your sight, ahead of you, I'll remove and drop an item of clothing, so you can follow the trail.)


September 20, 2005: Hello again, all. Here, as promised, are the Waterdhavian noble groups Ed's briefly listed, for The Sage and for us all:

THE BRIGHT BLADES OF NORTH WARD: now (since the unfortunate death of young and handsome Asmurar Kormallis, "the Golden God") led by the thuggish younger Phull sons Dundelmer and Trioth, these eight or so noble sons include no direct house heirs. They love fighting (not fair fights or fisticuffs, but running their blades through people) and dislike outlanders - - and as a result, tend to visit Dock Ward taverns and festhalls often, where they target drunken, disorderly, or violence-loving visiting sailors and drovers. Rumored (correctly) to be involved in slayings, shop-pillagings, and "masked rapes of guildmasters' wives," as a result of debts incurred to Waterdhavian criminals who take such services as "partial payments" of such debts. As one Watch officer put it gloomily: "The Brights? Cruelty excites them - - worse luck for everyone else in the Deep."

THE BLACKLEGS: led by the fat, food-loving debaucher (and aging uncle of his house) Roarthoes Margaster, this is the oldest of the infamous nobles' cabals. Many of its members have seen forty winters, and are now overweight and much plagued by gout and other illnesses associated with high living. Known to be involved in providing drink, drugs (and it's rumored, poisons), and lowborn bedmate lasses to various nobles, the Blacklegs have largely retired from their infamous "brawl with all comers" swordfights down various Dock Ward alleys (wherein they trusted to personal magic items to keep themselves alive, and didn't consider themselves "fullbloods" [= real members] unless they'd been badly wounded at least once), to meeting in North Ward and Sea Ward taverns to scheme over investment opportunities, shady and otherwise, and the right times to import casks of drinkables so as to command the highest prices. The Blacklegs are some fourteen strong, but only about five of them are really active. They collectively sneer at "young thickheaded bucks" (younger nobles who gather in groups to "cut up wild"), and collectively leer at "young lasses these days," often arranging largescale pandering parties as alternative sneakaway entertainments at particularly boring noble social gatherings (so that noble-born men - - and occasionally women, too - - can sneak away from boring speeches and stilted dances to another part of the estate for daring and fun sex, and then slip back into the "proper" goings-on). Prominent Blacklegs include the mincing, monacled Korlgan Lathkule, and the monstrously fat, scented-bearded dandy Relligo Ilvastarr.

THE TALONS: Sponsored by the crippled and aging "noble uncle" Laeroth Hothemer to be his entertainment and his agents (so he can still influence events in Waterdeep), these young, desperate-to-prove-themselves lads are contemptuously known as "Laeroth's Lads" by other noble cabals, who tend to regard them as foolish, meddling, reckless young boys who must be under the sexual dominance of Laeroth. This is very far from the truth: Laeroth prefers ladies (and lots of them!), and the only matters sexual he involves the Talons in is to occasionally spy on the doings of (merchant-class and lowborn) ladies he has his eye on, to learn their allegiances, hobbies, likes and dislikes so as to be able to both lure and entertain them best. (Laeroth likes to have many lovers, befriend them, and keep them as friends; he can walk only short distances on his many-times-broken, weak and spindly legs, wheezing and supporting himself on sticks, and is no physical threat to anyone, nor much of a social catch. Most of his lovers like him very much, and keep in touch. For one thing, he expects his ladies to want to be fed and wined well, and given new dresses of their choosing, almost every time he sees them.)

On the streets, the Talons are led (right now; as they age, youths tend to leave the group to gain more independence, or to show their parents they're distancing themselves from "that debauched old toad Hothemer") by the handsome, glib-tongued Branthos Husteem, his sidekick the tall and pompous Elmrose Hunabar, and his rising rival Martrym Eltorchul.

THE WHAELWHIRL BUCKLERS: Started by the (now middle-aged) Omnsur Jardeth as a way of impressing ladies and his noble elders with his bravery, the Bucklers have from the first claimed to be a fellowship of well-armed adventurers who regularly scour out the upper levels of Undermountain, paying particular attention to "perils that might soon erupt up into our fair city if not dealt with." They hint darkly about involvement with various Masked Lords, and being used as secret agents by "the Castle."

This is all so much hoo-hah, and always has been. The Bucklers like to tell stories of their adventurers (this monster fought, that fell wizard forced to flee for his life; see this scar?), but in truth spend most of their time swaggering in "show" armor into Castle Ward and Trades Ward taverns and clubs, giving everyone "lean and darkly dangerous" looks, and drinking with whatever ladies such behaviour attracts (yes, they often drug the drinks of those who don't seem willing enough to share beds). Omnsur and the older Bucklers never do more than this, because they don't regard the Bucklers as having any other use - - but increasingly, younger Bucklers are growing restless and wanting to have REAL adventures. Not so much down in Undermountain or anything really dangerous, but how about cutting a few of these increasingly cocky guildsmen down to size? And curbing some of the petty criminals, by hunting down the bolder ones and maiming them really thoroughly? (One Buckler chased a sneak-thief whom he saw departing an upper window of his family's mansion, and took great delight in running the man's biceps and thighs through with his sword, leaving the man unable to even crawl away; the Buckler retrieved the stolen jewelry, left the man for the Watch to find, and hasn't stopped telling his story to fellow Bucklers, ever since.)

THE SUNSADDLES: Perhaps closest to the early Gemcloaks in outlook and behaviour, these ten young noblemen (formally "the Sunset Saddles," though no one at all uses that name anymore) are bored and seek entertainment in playing pranks, playing "chase and find" games across the city, and duelling (not to the death, but to some silly achievement like cutting off an opponent's codpiece and then hurling it through a certain window). Members include Zorn Agundar, Halark Dezlentyr, Delzil Crommor, and the youngest, quietest Eagleshield daughter, Murelle (a small, dark-haired, lithe lass who wears mens' clothing when "out with the Saddles," and speaks in obscenity-laced growls to try to sound male). Zorn, Halark, and Delzil are the real leaders of the group.

The Saddles were responsible for the precipitous closing of the Sword and Spur gambling club in Castle Ward (when they revealed in striking fashion - - involving couples caught in flagrante being run through the streets in their beds, enspelled to maintain their embraces as said beds were loaded onto coaches, and sent on a tour of Sea Ward, North Ward, and Castle Ward - - that it was a front for guildmasters' wives and other bored wealthy non-quite-noble wives to prostitute themselves to nobles in return for business favours). They were also involved in the trashing of a hunting lodge outside Red Larch where the notorious Maesmur "Millioncoin" Brokengulf was meeting Luskanite merchants to arrange various shady business dealings, and are often in the thick of Dock Ward tavern brawls, where they delight in humiliating drunkards by "spanking with swords," tripping, hurling through furniture or into chamberpots, and then departing as the REAL violence erupts.

So saith Ed.

Who comes through again with juicy Realmslore for Waterdeep campaigns. Couple this with his Waterdeep News web snippets (and relevant "Realmslore" web columns), CITY OF SPLENDORS (both the novel and the 2nd Edition boxed game set), the relevant chapters of ELFSHADOW, ELFSONG, and SILVERFALL and Ed's relevant "Realms of" stories, VOLO'S GUIDE TO WATERDEEP, and Eric Boyd's recent superb sourcebook, and any DM has more than enough to bring "the Deep" to vivid life for a decade or so of game play.

Go for it!



September 22, 2005: Hello again, fellow scribes. I bring divers little replies from Ed this time:

To Wooly Rupert: thanks for the VolosBG pdf. Much appreciated. Yes, aside from the purely game-mechanics-related material, almost all my own lore, but rewritten by someone else. Good to have as reference material.

Kajehase, Faraer has answered you prefectly: "incantatrixes aren't well enough understood to say why they're almost all women, though doubtless some sages have theories." The Realms collectively just doesn't know yet, and certainly no mortal character within it can have anything more than pet theories (though priests and sages may pretend otherwise).

Elrond Half Elven, you're very welcome. I hope you continue to enjoy the Realms in the years ahead. The idea of the spheres wasn't mine; it came from TSR, not just as a way to link their game settings, but also as a way to turn the focus of D&D at the time away from demons and devils (who would reappear as "baatezu" and "tanar'ri") and the planes (that was the secret of the Arcane: to distract races into spelljaming whilst they tried to dominate the planes). As far as I (as an outsider, who talked with the two successive Marketing VPs of the time) understand it, the reasons for this were twofold: to be able to deny the "holy roller" evangelists of the time who liked to wave MONSTER MANUALS at television cameras and thunder: "The word 'devil' is in this book 87 times! The word 'demon' is in here 38 times!" (take them out, and then bring them back with different names, and you can simply respond that said evangelist is lying); and to give the R&D folks time to redesign the planes for the Planescape line.

And yes, Spelljammer certainly is fun-kooky. :}

Dargoth, the ease with which a character can track down a being in Faerūn who owns a copy of a "named" FR spell (e.g. Laeral's Rapturous Caress or The Simbul's Tonguelash) depends of course on the character and how they conduct their attempts to track folk down. Walking up to strangers who happen to be wizards and asking if they have a specific spell in their spellbooks usually enjoys about the same success rate as nerds achieve when they walk up to beautiful female strangers on busy streets and ask to sleep with them. :}

Ahem. However, to answer you another way: most of these spells would, in CCG terms, be "Uncommon" to "Rare" unless they are of very low level and non-harmful (i.e. can be used to enhance a 'helpful' reputation of those who use the Art, rather than being used as weapons). Such magics are usually distributed primarily through apprentices of the famous mages who crafted them, and then slowly spread through sales, thefts, and trades of magic. Joining the Watchful Order of Magists in Waterdeep would get you ready access to most of the non-combat ones, as would becoming a trusted Harper who 'runs with' the right NPC Harpers.

I'll have more to say to you about Larloch, anon.

So saith Ed, the busiest man I know.



September 23, 2005: Hello, all. Another collection of mini-replies from Ed:

To Asgetrion: thanks very much for the rave review of SILVERFALL. I'm very glad you liked it, because although it's flawed by the "pass the baton" format my editor insisted on and by my own inability to tell the story without running over my wordcount (leading to abrupt endings), I'm very pleased with it yet a lot of Realms fans seemed to overlook it or hate it. The "Ed loves his Mary-Sues" brigade really rode it hard, betraying their utter lack of understanding of the Realms many times (the ladies are darn near gods, folks, and portrayed that way, NOT characters I'm hopelessly in love with).

Hope you've enjoyed "Best of Eddie" and CITY OF SPLENDORS. As to how I find the time to write them all: no sleep. Work myself to near-heart-attacks and spreading obesity. Love doing so. Next. :}

To EvilKnight: I have recorded some play sessions, long ago (cassette tape recorder era), and yes a video probably WOULD be adult-only fare. Although the lore-preservation idea allures, I've simply (see my comments to Asgetrion, above) no time to do podcasts. Revenue stream? Oooh, that'd be nice. Preferably one that didn't flow straight from my pocket to the nice tax people, this time. :}

Mkhaiwati, if I had more time and money I'd build a mansion with my own airport, stuff it full of food and hot tubs and gamers, and run week-long Realms sessions constantly - - so anyone who wanted to could join the "home" Realms campaign. Unfortunately, game design and novel writing doesn't really bring in all that much money, and I've no time to do anything like that. Sorry. THO just gave you a taste of the subplots: we keep things far more complex than, say, Joss Whedon televison scripts. The 'good campaign' principles aren't secrets, of course; I'm not surprised you and I crafted similar ones after thinking about what we wanted in our campaigns for more than a few minutes. If I ever find a spell for spinning myself more time, however, I'll let scribes here know when the Realmsplay starts!

SiriusBlack, I don't think you can go wrong with good, full-bodied dry red wines when entertaining a certain Mr. Archer. However, being named in a dedication doesn't get you even one copper piece. Hey, I wrote half the thing, and I probably won't be seeing many of them, either! :}

So saith Ed, who's still hard at work writing Realms masterpieces.

Oh, the secrets up his sleeves! (When he runs out of sleeve space, he reaches under my blouse and stuffs some secrets up here and there. Ooooh, and THERE, too.)



September 26, 2005: Hello, all. Ed has just returned from a lovely time at the 15th anniversary Phantasm, a nice, very small local con that he highly recommends; it usually features a workshop from Ed and/or another guest gaming professional, a SCA fighting demonstration, a handful of vendors (this year notably including the startup gaming firm Hybrid, debuting the EQUAT10N game) and games from Magic to Warhammer to (of course) D&D. Want to spend four hours gaming in the Realms with Ed as DM? Or talk to him for as long about how to get published, or how to create your own fantasy world setting? Phantasm is one of the best places to do that.

Thus recharged, Ed makes reply to Reldra:

Hi, Reldra. When I wrote: "The Boar presides over the kitchen staff (stolid middle-aged women with names like Reldra and Immra" I did indeed mean that two of the staff really are called "Reldra" and "Immra."

However, in the Realms, both Reldra and Immra are everyday contractions of longer, more formal, rarely used (except by disapproving parents, aunts, and grandparents, of course!) names: Ahmarreldra and Darimmra. These names echo the names of once-famous local adventurers, the sorcerer Ahmarreld and the "swordsman" (probably fighter) Darimm, and were very popular only when those now long-dead men were well remembered. Hence, women who are now middle-aged are the last generation likely to often be given them - - just as Victorian feminine names in our real world like "Bertha" and "Ernestine" were once very popular but are rare today.

So saith Ed.

Who also slipped in a swift reply for Gareth Yaztromo:

Gareth, Wooly Rupert and The Sage have already ably answered you as to the already-published appearances of Hesperdan. As for the first part of your question: NDA must be the main thrust of my reply to you, but I'll also add this much: neglect not Page 63 of this thread (this year), wherein Realms Lorelord George Krashos makes an insightful comment on this very topic. Nay, I'll add a touch more: the inference you might most easily draw from reading Krash's words is not the WHOLE tale.

So saith Ed, who loves being mysterious.

He'll return on the morrow, even as he plunges once more into his "official" writing.

And a note to Skeptic: your latest post makes me think you missed Ed's lengthy reply to your "drugs in Waterdeep" question. It appears on page 64 of this thread. Re. Ascore rater than Llorkh: understood, but Ed tells me that Ascore is now NDA.

love to all,


September 27, 2005: Hello again, all. Ed replies to Kuje's plea for a debate-ending response to this: "What would happen to Realmspace/Toril/Faerun if the Weave was completely destroyed or Mystra was and no deity replaced the Weave or her? You've hinted in the past but some posters need more then hints to get the clear picture. And is Chauntea more powerful then Mystra because Chauntea has a higher divine rank according to Faiths & Pantheons even though you've repeatedly said Mystra is more powerful."

Ed speaks:

First and foremost, all gamers should remember that none of the information about the gods of the Realms can truly be trusted: it's a collection of what mortals imperfectly understand and can visualize (muddied by the 'pet theories' of many sages and priests, both current and down the centuries) about divine beings who may or may not impart accurate information to their worshippers (as the power of deities is related to the number and strength of their worshippers, it's best to think of deities as somewhat akin to used-car salesmen in the real world, presenting everything to make themselves look good or at least vitally necessary and as important as possible). So arguments about specifics of the gods (as opposed to their mortal churches and faithful) are essentially futile, because none of the data those arguing use can be trusted.

With that said, the Weave can most precisely be defined as a system of "seeing" (identifying, understanding, and influencing or "calling on") the natural flows of energy in Realmspace/Toril/Faerūn.

Some folk say the Weave IS magic, and that magic is natural energy harnessed. Priests of Mystra often say that "Mystra IS the Weave."

The priests are correct: Mystra is the Weave, and if there was another deity controlling magic, whatever precise system of harnessing natural energies (whether it was called the Weave or not) would be (at the least) subtly different from the Weave as Faerūnians know it today.

The "some folk" in my sentence above are for all practical daily purposes correct, but not precisely accurate: the Weave is the predominant and "most correct" (and thus, most powerful) means of harnessing natural energies: in other words, it is magic but it's not the ONLY magic (as evidenced by the Shadow Weave and other, less-powerful alternatives to the Weave: table magic, pluma magic, etc.).

It seems likely that to destroy Mystra would be to destroy the Weave, and vice versa (I say likely because a lot would depend on the deeds and dispositions of other "deities of magic" like Azuth, Savras, Velsharoon, and the nonhuman deities concerned with governance over magic, at the time of the fall of Mystra and/or the Weave). This would NOT mean that Realmspace/Toril/Faerūn would necessarily be destroyed, nor that magic would 'go away.' It probably would mean a lot of widespread magical chaos, and magic that thereafter 'worked differently' (either wholly or subtly) from the system of spells described in the current game rulebooks - - because they deal with magic in Faerūn "under the Weave." So a DM who wants to change magic in his or her Realms campaign to a spell-points system, or back to the spell levels and descriptions of earlier D&D editions, or substitute magic systems from other games, or just "tinker" with the published spells, could readily use a "destruction of the Weave" catacalysm as an in-game reason for such alterations.

As for the differing ranks of Chauntea and Mystra: two factors apply here. The first is that divine "rankings" are part of the game rules, a way of expressing relative power relationships AS MORTALS SEE THEM. In other words, Lolth doesn't turn to Malar and say, "Nyah nyah! I'm an Intermediate Deity and you're only a Lesser Deity!" (Why? Because neither of them even knows the terms, let alone clearly understands or accepts the power differences between them.)

The gods carry on endless struggles for supremacy and influence, tempered by their natures (which are in large part governed by their portfolios: in other words, Tempus is a warlike, competitive god, but Eldath isn't, and never will be; Tempus may do aggressive things but any violence Eldath engages in will essentially be defensive or retributive), but they don't get little gold stars or anything else that tells them their divine rank today.

They can often sense their relative level of power versus another deity, but may well be wrong: Realms fiction is full of scenes wherein gods obviously have different views over who's most powerful, and who should prevail.

Moreover, the importance of a deity in the eyes of mortals has to do with how important they are, and how liked (or rather welcomed) they are, versus how feared they may be.

Humans have to eat, so agriculture and the bounty of nature are more important than magic (remember, game adventures and fiction tend to concentrate on power, and therefore on magic and its users and on adventurers and royalty more than the majority of "folk really living in the Realms" would) and fear abundantly-growing vegetables (remember, blights, diseases, poisonings, and natural crop-destroying disasters like storms, early winter weather, mudslides, and volcanic eruptions are all blamed on other deities) a lot less than they do magic (which is important, but not quite as important as food). Advantage Chauntea.

The second factor is the deliberate distribution of Mystra's power amongst other deities (Azuth, et al) and among mortals (her Chosen), lessening her "true total" of power. Again, advantage Chauntea.

So Chauntea is more essential to the lives of more humans in Faerūn, and thus more powerful - - but by her natural-cycles, nuturing nature a lot more passive and slow-moving. Chauntea can't and doesn't lash out with her power. Mystra can, and (sometimes, especially in Realms-shaking times or when her portfolio is held by a green recent-mortal who's still "learning the ropes") does. Mystra can call up and wield far more power than Chauntea (so is "more powerful" by THAT measure) and is more important among the gods, because all gods use (and dispense to mortals) magic, and Mystra has successfully gained control over magic through the Weave (gods can bypass her to call on natural forces directly only in limited ways, simulated in 2nd Edition by the ability of priests to gain 1st and 2nd level spells without contact with the gods). So Mystra can influence the relative powers of gods in their struggles with each other, by how she limits or augments the specific amount of natural energies specific gods can source, and precisely how they can do so (magic).

It's like the difference between a jackhammer and a tree: if you're defending a perfectly flat, flawless asphalt surface, a man with a jackhammer is an immediate threat whom you'll run to prevent first - - even though the roots of the tree, if not severed and the tree prevented from vigorously replacing them, will destroy the asphalt just as thoroughly.

I've blathered long enough; I hope this helps.

(Saith Ed, creator of Mystra, most of the other deities of Faerūn, Faerūn itself, and divine portfolios.)

Kuje, I added that last line in parentheses to Ed's words, but I suggest you include it when reposting to the Boards That Are Not Named, just to underscore the expertise Ed's arguing from, especially for younger gamers who tend to mentally separate "old gaming farts" from any understanding of game concepts and details they may currently be arguing about. :}

Ah, well. Back to true Realmslore next time.

love to all,


September 28, 2005: Well met again, fellow scribes of Candlekeep. I bring you the first part of Ed's reply to these queries from true fan Asgetrion: "I would like to ask about how guilds operate in Cormyr. As far as I can remember, this subject has been touched only very lightly in Realmslore. How are the guilds organized - is there a local guildmaster in every city? Is there possibly a grandmaster in Suzail for each guild? Do they only operate in cities or also in smaller towns? How many professions have guilds, and which ones? Can they be compared to the guilds of Waterdeep? Then, how about guild uniforms?"

Ed speaks:

Great questions! Okay, here we go:

The guilds in Cormyr have far less power and wealth than in Waterdeep, and are far "friendlier" to authority. They operate only in Suzail and the lands immediately around it (on the southern or Suzail side of the Starwater River, plus Hilp but minus Marsember), thanks to the rebellious histories of Arabel and Marsember (most of the guilds have "factors" [= trade agents and observers] in those cities, but no real power or organization) and the traditional resistance of nobles to anyone (even the Crown) "meddling unnecessarily" in life, customs, and matters befalling on "their" lands.

Guilds in Cormyr do the following things:

* Publicize a roster of members in good standing, intimating that all do work of the best standard, and agreeing that one member shall not hesitate to repair or maintain any item that is the work of another member (i.e. never telling a would-be customer: "Pooh! I can't fix THAT! Utter trash; hurl it away and buy one of mine!"). (Most guilds also secretly try to fix prices, by at least agreeing on a 'going rate' for certain goods or services that members aren't bound to, but will refer to when negotiating with clients. They do NOT have the legal right to set prices or even standards.)

* Agreeing on "approved" glues, finishes, and other materials, and (when members desire) precuring such things in bulk so as to get discounted prices to members (non-members will be charged a markup over "standard street prices").

* Providing warehousing or materials storage facilities to members (most charters provide for immediate emergency storage for members who have been "burned out" of their own facilities, or otherwise prevented from using them - - and most guilds secretly provide one or more "secret locations" [accommodations not officially owned by or linked to the guild] for members to stash goods or themselves or apprentices wanted by the law for short periods, or being hunted by personal foes).

* Maintain, with the agreement of the Royal Court, precise and public definitions of objects, sizes, and amounts used by guild members in their trade (so one man's "ferkin" or "ell" is the same as another's).

* Support indigent former (retired) guild members, usually by a monthly measure of grain and ale and meat or fish, or a few coins in lieu (12 gp is the "monthly munificence" of The Guild of Coachlars, Carriers, Waymen and Locksters, but the Seafarers Guild doles out only 8 gp), or even by maintaining an "old bones lodge" (nursing home) for guild members (sometimes taking in non-members for stiff fees, to support the care of guild members who are charged little or nothing).

* Providing moneychanging and moneylending services to members in need, at set (always lower than "stranger in the market") rates agreed-upon at guild meetings; most guilds also provide "secure" money storage for members, who often prefer such "silent" storage to banking coins with the Royal Court, where tax collectors can take note of amounts of funds specific individuals are handling.

* Providing (and insisting on the presence of) guild members as observers when caravans arrive for fairs at Jester's Green or elsewhere around Hilp or "south of the Starwater," or ships unload at the docks in Suzail, to see what cargoes are arriving, in which containers, and intended for sale where and to whom. This allows them to see if Court-approved guild measures are being adhered to, have a day or so of warning about price fluctuations due to oversupplies "flooding the market" or shortages developing because expected cargoes didn't arrive, and so on.

Guilds in Cormyr may also unofficially do a lot of other things, from investing members' profits to engaging in (or hiring others to perform) arson, vandalism, or theft against guild competitors or rivals. All guilds lobby against outlander peddlers or shipcaptains competing directly against a guild without adhering to the aforementioned Court-approved guild measures (amounts and sizes), and quite openly gather information as to who is trading in what goods, and argue before the Royal Court as to what guild shall have a say ("purview") over a newly-introduced good or service (e.g. are harnesses for additional draft animals that are designed to be easily hitched into, or linked with, the harnesses worn by other animals already hitched to a coach or wagon properly to be administered by The Guild of Coachlars, Carriers, Waymen and Locksters, or by The Tanners and Leatherers?). Almost every guild charges its members fees, and its apprentices or would-be members higher fees than members are charged. The Royal Court must be kept fully informed of changes in these fees and of requirements for full membership, and Court officers aggressively investigate all complaints of apprentices or trial members being prevented from (or facing unusual difficulties in) acquiring full membership. The Crown prohibits non-Cormyreans, and Cormyreans of noble or royal blood, from being guildmasters; most guilds prohibit persons who don't own land in Cormyr from being guild members. Crown law prevents race or gender from having any part in guild membership rules.

Almost every guild tries to control the professional behaviour of its members in some way, either through formal rules or through informal secret edicts and temporary boycotts (e.g. "No member of The Vintners and Falconers Guild is to trade with any member of The Brewers and Cheesemakers Guild until further notice from the Grand Hooded Vintner [guildmaster]").

Guilds are formed by successful petition to the Crown: a royal charter is granted that sets forth membership requirements, founding roster of members, rota of officers, and guild rules. It includes the grant of a badge or "device" to be used by the guild (not a heraldic grant of arms, though the Heralds do keep records of these badges, and may also separately grant arms to guilds who desire and pay for a grant). All guilds are required to keep up-to-date formal rolls at Court and in their HQ, recording all changes in membership, rules and fees, and in this case "up to date" means "must reflect all changes fully and accurately within a tenday, or face stiff fines and a mark of censure."

Two marks of censure against any guild means an automatic War Wizard investigation of all guild activities, taxes, and finances; six marks means the guild charter is forfeit. Marks are officially rescinded after investigation, never automatically removed after passage of time.

So saith Ed.

I'll bring you the second half of his reply (the list of current guilds) next time.



September 29, 2005: Hello, all. I bring you the second part of Ed's reply to Asgetrion, in the matter of guilds of the Forest Kingdom:

The Illegal "Guilds"

I'm going to omit discussion of the Fire Knives and other nascent thieves' "guilds" here; such illicit organizations have traditionally held little power in Cormyr (outside of Marsember and small but frequent amounts of Dragon Coast smuggling).

Craft Guilds

I'm also distinguishing between "The Guilds" dealt with here and the low-profile local "craft guilds" found in every town and city in Cormyr (some villages have fledgling craft guilds, and those in cities tend to be little more than powerless bitching-societies).

Craft guilds (a real-world historian might call them "merchants' guilds") are collectives of most crafters or shopkeepers in a particular place (rather than just those engaged in a specific profession) who try to buy materials in bulk to arrange lower prices and shipping costs, argue taxes down to a minimum, and seek to establish common working conditions (and thus eliminate "unfair advantages" gained by merchants who work family members, children they've taken in, and debtors they have holds over to near-slavery).

Craft guilds tend to have names like the Benevolent Muster of Merchants of Eveningstar, and the Loyal Council of Coinfellows of Espar.

The chief benefits of both craft guilds and "The Guilds" are social: members can swiftly spread word among their fellow guild members of prices, practises, swindles, and other news (cutting down on impostures, false rumors of shortages designed to drive up prices of materials, and confidence tricks), hear which journeymen are seeking new employment and which masters seeking new hires, and learn which apprentices have acquired real skills (preventing unscrupulous masters from never granting them recognition, by providing them chances to get hired away as a journeyman by someone else). In turn, novices can learn who's best at this or that specialty of guildcraft (the best knife polisher, the best toolmaker, the crafter whose work is most fashionable among lavishly-spending nobles, and so on).

The Guilds

These true craft fraternities (that is, organizations of workers engaged in the same specific profession or a small group of related professions) have been somewhat curbed in powers, hauteur, and fripperies (uniforms, secret handshakes, arcane festivals and rituals, and suchlike pomp) since their excesses during the time of the Tuigan Horde (said excesses including starting to pass their own internal laws and advise their members on which Crown laws to obey and which to ignore or openly flout, and closely allying with certain noble families who had their own treasonous agendas, in which some guilds participated for agreed-upon financial gain).

The Bricklayers Guild, flourishing at this time, now no longer exists because it became a front for several noble families who enriched themselves (while they planned a coup to seize the Dragon Throne) through smuggling stolen goods and small valuables about the country, evading taxes, by hiding such items inside hollow bricks made by the guild.

The Guilds have traditionally held little power, but were "feeling their brawn" (as the Cormyrean expression has it) just before the arrival of the Tuigan Horde, led by the aforementioned Bricklayers, The Sculptors and Masons Guild, and The Guild of Carpenters and Joiners. These construction guilds are now carefully law-abiding, but have learned the value of their work (from urban dwellers to wealthy nobles aspiring to live in ever-grander residences and erect ever-fancier follies, folk who want grand structures built must pay handsomely), and continue to be locally politically active, pursuing and guarding their own interests with passion and manipulative skill.

"The Guilds" currently recognized in Cormyr, listed in rough descending order of influence, are:

* The Sculptors and Masons Guild
* The Guild of Carpenters and Joiners
* The Armorers Guild
* The Guild of Coachlars, Carriers, Waymen and Locksters
* The Truebreeds Guild
* The Seafarers Guild
* The Vintners and Falconers Guild
* The Brewers and Cheesemakers Guild
* The Roofers, Thatchers, and Glaziers Guild
* The Tanners and Leatherers Guild
* The Guild of Weavers and Coopers
* The Guild of Naturalists

Ed will send me short entries for each guild tomorrow, and I will of course send them on to all of you as soon as I receive them. Ed also added these swift postscripts:

Lady Zandilar, Alustriel's daughters are indeed under NDA restrictions right now (which of course POSSIBLY means someone MAY have plans to use or mention one of them in Realms fiction being written as we speak: more I Cannot Say, other than to look innocent and say that I personally am not writing anything at this time involving any character I know to be a daughter of Alustriel).

Kuje, re. the Weave debate: You're correct in saying the Weave is "in" everything living, dead, undead, inanimate, sky, soil, liquid, gas, solid, water, and so on. What the FRCS says is that raw magic (that is, the stuff that powers spells and magic items as folk in the Realms know them now) wouldn't exist without the Weave.

As George Krashos so rightly points out, that DOESN'T mean those things (and their usual natural processes and energy flows) would cease to exist if the Weave ceased to: it means "the magic" AS FAERUNIANS KNOW IT would erupt into chaos and then "cease to exist." The natural flows would still happen, after a brief chaos, but beings desiring to use magic would have to find new ways of accessing those flows (either new systems of magic, or tinkering with existing spells to make them work again: in other words, the "raw magic" of before would no longer exist.

The distinction here is between the flows of energy and the system of accessing and manipulating (harnessing) them. To say that magic is the flows of energy is oversimplification, but "works" and therefore is right when everything's functioning normally under the Weave. To say that magic is the system of harnessing those energies is (more) truly correct.

I agree that the canon passages you've referenced MAKE IT SOUND AS IF there could be a planet (or Realmspace)-destroying cataclysm; that IS an inference one can easily draw.

However, as Nighthawk08 correctly pointed out, Mystryl/Mystra has perished before, and the Realms is "still here."

Kuje, you posted: "If the Weave has no effect on the things that it is present in, then why bother telling us that the Weave is present in those things because otherwise there's no point to print that if it has no effect on anything." Ah, but the point of printing it is to establish (like a bylaw telling drivers that "wherever no speed limit signs are posted, the speed limit is X") that unless you're told specifically otherwise (e.g. dead magic zones), the Weave reaches everywhere, and thus magic functions everywhere in Realmspace. It may function wildly or weakly in some places, and may be VERY powerful in others (earth nodes, divine magic around altars, etc.) but it does "reach everywhere." It's the designers' way of telling you that the magic system (of spells your characters can learn) is an inherent part of all the Realms, not something that functions by whim or divine fiat in certain lands only. Gods can restrict or work against certain magic functions in a specific area, but the default is "magic everywhere."

Kuje, you and Dargoth are correct in saying that certain races (notably elves and dragons) have been written of as "of the Weave," but you're both incorrect in assuming that in a Realms without the Weave, elves and dragons would cease to exist. In a Realms without MAGIC elves and dragons (as we know them) would cease to exist, yes (which of course means that some elves and dragons probably would survive, but with very different powers and natures than the elves and dragons we know - - think dragons without spells or breath weapons or great longevity, elves without longevity and magical aptitude and most immunities or resistances). Again, it's the difference between the Weave (our concept for the great web of magical flows, but actually strictly speaking our system of incantations and material similarities and rituals and mental states for accessing the natural flows that we call "magic") and magic.

To those who respond that this sounds like splitting hairs: yup. All of magic in D&D IS splitting hairs. It's why most spells won't work (or will have unintended results) if you screw up the verbal, somatic, or material components of the casting.

And remember (to split some hairs myself) when I wrote (in postings on this thread last year) of the forces and flows making up Toril, I carefully said that I was "roughly" describing things, and providing analogies so that 'one could think of things in this way' rather than saying "things ARE this way."

Kuje, re. Slime Lord's demonhandling debate:

What's wrong in this entire discussion is that posters are using their own real-world views and understandings of alignments and "correct" alignment behaviour to decide what a character in the Realms would or should rightly do.

The correct way to decide on this is to decide the doctrine of the church of the character's principal faith on this matter.

After all, if the character wasn't sure what was right, they would turn to the nearest priest for advice. Veteran adventurers "generally already know" the general tenor of each faith's creed on adventuring-related matters, either from hearing such advice over the years, or from overhearing it, retold secondhand in taverns (even if inaccurately) as "what befell others."

In this case, the SPELL is deemed "good" in the rules. Therefore, if the spell is used and accepted by the primary faith to which Slime Lord's character belongs, then casting the spell is a good act in that faith, and therefore to that character. If the character isn't a priest or close worshipper of any one faith, but "caught between several," than the character must make a moral decision based on the moral codes (Faerūnian faiths, not real-world "absolutes" that gamers can obviously disagree over) he or she is familiar with.

Slime Lord's character is really facing the age-old "does the end justify the means?" question: can you morally do something evil or questionable to achieve a good result? Turning evil to good is good, in the clear-cut alignment system of the game. So whether or not the casting is an evil or questionable act, and whether or not its results outweigh whatever evil it may be deemed to have, is up to the tenets of the faith the character follows (read: direct advice of priests, who can consult with senior priests, who can consult with the god personally or with divine servant creatures who communicate directly with the god).

So saith Ed.

Whew. Not an unfamiliar argument to those in one of my professions. I'll leave you to it. Myself, I just offer my body in friendship, and those who react in an unfriendly manner earn my hostile responses. Simple. So send me your well-endowed demons. I've a heap of saving to do.

I do, of course, wish that things could be that flippantly simple in the real world.

love to all,

September 30, 2005: Hello again, fellow scribes. Herewith, the third part of Ed's reply to Asgetrion about the guilds of Cormyr:


Guildmaster: Thaerevho Londurmaskur (LN male human Exp8; tall, bearded, grandly-spoken, impressive; grudge-holding, thirsts for power and respect, but hates unrest and perils to a prosperous Cormyr).

Headquarters: Highstone Hall (Suzail, south side Promenade).

Portfolios: stone work, statuary, quarrying, and all plastering, mud-daub, and waterproofing.

Badge: inverted shield (arched top, flat bottom, curved sides) of gray stone-block border, field of maroon, gray stone fist (clenched human right hand, thumb and fingers towards viewer, wrist rising from bottom of border.

Notes: Polite and no-nonsense, dislike arrogant nobles even more than Crown laws and nosy Crown officials (will work ever-more-slowly and VERY carefully for clients who annoy them), the guild that knows its true power more than any other, but is steadfastly loyal to the Obarskyrs for their striving to maintain a fair, prosperous Cormyr; contains many former Purple Dragons.


Guildmaster: Ryze Halonder (NG male human Exp8; weatherbeaten, laconic, acts like a yokel but is a very shrewd judge of character and situation, and has grown vastly wealthy through astute investments and cultivating contacts among adventurers who can 'police' all who swindle guild members; seeks a just, well-governed, ever-more-prosperous Cormyr.

Headquarters: Longbeam Hall (Suzail, south side Promenade).

Portfolios: wood cutting, curing, staining, furniture-making and fitted carpentry and joinery.

Badge: long-axis-horizontal scarlet diamond, on it a horizontal silver axe with blade down at right end, and clenched human fist (fingers and thumb towards viewer) clutching a thick iron bar that projects just a little from both ends of the hand, to form a hammer shape.

Notes: Wealthy, energetic, "into everything" (like new styles of coffers, chairs, and stools) guild that's fractious; Halonder faces almost constant challenges to his authority from various "pompous fat little trumpet-mouths" (five or six very similar guild members who're always quarrelling among themselves, including Rarvor Telbrae, Haldon Mornhand, and Yaskel Daroun) who think they can do a better job, and see the guild as their road to nobility; most guild members just see it as their road to riches and a waited-upon old age.


Guildmaster: Darronder Firebrow (LN male human Ftr8/Exp12; a tall, wide-shouldered, immensely-strong bull of a man of bristling white brows, growl-gravel voice, piercing eyes, and worldly wisdom, who always does what's best for Cormyr and has little use for prancing nobles or prancing anyone else, for that matter; a quiet preparer-for-disasters-ahead who keeps hidden caches of weapons and armor in many places about Suzail, guarded by Helmed Horrors that obey him thanks to a magic ring Vangerdahast gave him decades ago; Firebrow can tell at a glance where the weakest part of any armor SHOULD be, by design and normal wear (but not, of course, from hidden flaws or specific battle damage that's not outwardly obvious).

Headquarters: Helmfast House (Suzail, north side Promenade west of the Court)

Portfolios: armor and weapon-making, plus the making of tempered tools (from sewing needles to bell-strikers and tiny gears and cogs).

Badge: a gray "scorn" helm (the local name for a bucket-shaped full-face helm that's bolted into one piece (no visor), but covers the wearer's head completely except a horizontal eyeslit connected in a "T" with a single central vertical slit from eyeslit down to the "chin" of the helm), face-on to the viewer ("staring" impassively at the viewer), on an shield-shaped, gray-bordered field of crimson.

Notes: this guild is VERY closely watched by the War Wizards to prevent any noble from managing to equip a private army without the Crown knowing; members resent the scrutiny even as they accept the necessity for it: as one armorer grumbled, "Iff'n I take my wife to bed, it's more likely than not that some longnose wizard is spell-watching our every gasp'n'grunt. Just once, I'd like old Vangey to drop by, hand me a tankard of Proper Dark, and promise me no one'd be watching for the night. Just once, n'I could die a happy man!" members of this guild are VERY well paid by the Crown to make them loyal and to keep their rates high enough that every second merchant of Cormyr WON'T order personal suits of armor so as to gain the benefits of this guild's especial pride: building concealed weapons into armor.

That's all that Ed's sent me thus far. He apologizes, explaining that today he had to tour the local sewage plant (don't ask), shop for a month's worth of groceries plus furniture and top soil (again, don't ask), learn to play an organ (no, don't ask, REALLY), clear up fallen tree limbs after a vicious storm, look after his very sick wife, and undergo a battery of "are you diabetic yet?" tests.

I told him dealing with reality was no excuse when millions were waiting for essential Realmslore. He agreed, and promised to let me flog him when I see him next (hmmm, at a large wedding; THAT will provoke some intense interest among the bystanders there, I'm sure). Anyway, we WILL get the rest of the guilds in the days ahead.

Gerath Hoan, your only question in the queue is a request from March 28th of this year, wherein you asked: "... So who is the Realms' Lucifer and what happened to him?" (And khorne promptly and correctly answered you, at that time.) Feel free to add new questions, so long as you can live with Ed taking months to answer them. He is truly snowed under, despite it being only September. Sigh.

love to all,

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