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)

Oct - Dec 2005

October 1, 2005: Hi, all. Gerath Hoan, of course I'll add your queries to Ed's mountain (well put). He's still digging where whim takes him, yonder on its slopes, continuing his Cormyrean guilds reply to Asgetrion:


Guildmaster: Lady Guildmaster Sarissa Lathtyll (CG female human Exp3; the strikingly tall, beautiful, graceful, and soft-spoken widow of the guild's recently-deceased and greatly loved guildmaster, Tethaero Lathtyll, allowed to run the guild by the majority of elder members who didn't want any of three squabblingly ambitious junior members [Thael Maerynn, a coldly shrewd and grasping Sembian-sponsored coachlar; Malagar Tolluth, a fat, greedy Suzailan who wants to establish a hierarchy within the guild, with coach owners - - of whom he is one - - at the top; and Eskurr Valanth, a smilingly sly trader from Westgate widely {and correctly} thought to be a thief in the employ of certain criminals of that city] to wear the Master's cloak, but now recognized as the hitherto-unacknowledged brains that guided Tethaero, and firmly supported by all except the cliques of the ambitious three; Sarissa has been wooed by Maerynn, but rebuffed him, defending herself with a coachwhip, in tales that are still making the rounds in Suzail, growing swiftly more lurid in the retellings.

Headquarters: Tallgates House (Suzail, south side Promenade).

Portfolios: locksmiths, wagon-makers and owners, coachlars (coach-drovers), carters (those who operate local delivery wagons), and draymen (deliverers and loaders, of ships at the docks, wagons everywhere, and Suzailan warehouses; "locksters" are the owners and guardians of warehouses).

Badge: A white wagon-wheel (with eight spokes), displayed side-on, on a copper lone-point-uppermost triangle.

Notes: Traditionally a guild of corruption (some members once regularly charged "surety" fees to make sure a client's shipment arrived unbroken, to the right place, and uninspected by business rivals) and ambitions to weaken the power of the Crown (so as to lessen both laws and taxes), the "Coachcowls" (as most of Cormyr refers to this guild) were sharply curbed by the War Wizards and certain Highknights in the wake of the battles against the Tuigan Horde - - whereafter Tethaero Lathtyll was installed by the members as Master, and set about trying to make this guild the most daily-essential and respected among Suzailans, building trust and purging corruption, a task he largely completed (with the covert aid of the War Wizards); the Lady Guildmaster's personal steward (and lover) is a War Wizard, though only she, of all the Coachcowls, knows this.


Guildmaster: Askalho Theer (NE male human Exp6; a fat, snarling glutton of a man given to scowling bombast, who dislikes anyone who disagrees with him, but is too lazy to pursue any purges of members or ways of making his own views more palatable and thus accepted, within "the Breeders" (as Cormyreans call this guild); rich food and drink, and comfortable surroundings to enjoy them in, matter more to Theer than anything else in the world, and he fears engaging in any real conspiracies or even overhauls of his own guild because unfolding events might then somehow threaten his comforts; nevertheless, he's only too willing to be bribed and 'used' by ambitious nobles seeking to weaken the Crown if not overthrow it.

Headquarters: The House of the Bull (Suzail, south side Promenade).

Portfolios: horses, oxen, sheep, cattle, guard-dogs, sheep-dogs: the breeding, care and sale of, and maintenance of the pedigrees of, all "kept beasts".

Badge: A green triangle, horizontal across the top and with an elongated point at the bottom, on which is displayed a gray beast-leg (ending in a black cloven hoof, pointing to the outside) "standing" with the leg rising diagonally from the hoof at lower left towards the upper right, that "vanishes" as it passes through a gray "spiked collar" oval, slanted from upper left to lower right, and with the arc closest to the viewer at the bottom, that arc (only) displaying three blunted spikes.

Notes: An often-fractious association of ranchers who breed, train, and sell livestock, this guild has bought Crown favour over the years by providing splendid royal mounts (to all Obarskyrs, and to important Court officials) as gifts, and by undertaking to keep "guarded in seclusion" (at various remote farms across the realm) breeding stock to regularly replenish Purple Dragon cavalry mounts and draft animals (which are ordered and paid for by the Crown, and are not gifts), on a "the needs of the realm come first" basis (which really means: don't sell any large numbers of animals to buyers in Sembia or anywhere else outside Cormyr without obtaining prior Crown permission); well-regarded by most Cormyreans, who see the splendid animals guild members provide, never the surly Guildmaster (who's privately considering breaking the guild rule Vangerdahast forced on his now-dead predecessor Belivaerus Daethul: that members of the guild would never attempt to crossbreed species nor make any use of magic enabling features of one beast to be added to another - - in short, to try to 'make monsters')


Guildmaster: Orthan Staramuranter (LN male human Ftr5/Exp12, a white-haired, white-bearded, gauntly impressive retired seacaptain who tolerates no "nonsense" [by which he means dissension, even slightly treasonous grumbling about conditions in the Realm, and any innovation]: "Old Orthan" retains his legendarily keen eyesight, and can see not only for great distances over water, but also that the status quo enriches members of his guild, and shouldn't be shifted or unsettled in any way.

Headquarters: Starsails House (Suzail, north-front Silverscales Street, across from [but "a few doors along east"]) the Black Rate tavern (feature 51 on the 2nd Edition Realms boxed set Suzail map).

Portfolios: sailors, captains, fleet owners, navigators, mapmakers, ropers (the local name for ropemakers), sail-makers, shipwrights (boat builders) and ship repairers.

Badge: A vertically-elongated oval of light blue, with a tall, tip-curving-to-the-viewer's-right central wave rearing up - - and a single eye staring straight-on (and calmly, this emotion suggested by the flattened top and bottom curves of the eye) out of the heart of the upper curl of the wave, at the viewer.

Notes: Under Staramuranter's firm, diligent hand (the Guildmaster employs street youths and "eyes and ears," to confirm any information he doesn't trust, and is constantly trying to learn EVERYTHING members of his guild are up to - - not out of any maliciousness, but to protect his members and anticipate coming trouble whenever possible), this guild is courteous, guildrule- and Crown law-abiding, and cultivates a "trustworthy, stolid, reliable, no changes please" image that has led Suzailans to rely on it, and shippers in Arabel and even Marsember to send their wares to Suzail's docks for shipping, rather than through any other port; the only violence the guild condones is fighting pirates and salvagers (those who pick over shipwrecks): salvagers have been angrily, repeatedly, and often savagely (with alleyway and high seas slaughters) excluded from the guild over the years, despite their frequent attempts to join.

So saith Ed, who's obviously doling out the guild descriptions in trios as he struggles to get back up to speed on his writing schedule. He hasn't said anything about "falling silent" for a bit to me, yet, but I'm afraid I wouldn't be surprised if he does. Sigh.


October 3, 2005: Hi again, fellow scribes. I bring you the fifth part of Ed's reply to Asgetrion about the guilds of Cormyr:


Guildmaster: High Taster and First Gauntlet Lyonar Sorander (LN male human Ftr5/Exp9, a tall, white-haired, patrician man of sophisticated tastes, good manners, a splendid wardrobe, a neatly-trimmed white beard - - and a mind like the proverbial steel trap, shrewd and always alert and usually three steps ahead of everyone else in Faerūn; a consummate actor with a magnificent, mellifluous voice who seeks to persuade others to adopt his views, and wants to slowly, smoothly make his guild the most wealthy - - and most influential and trusted, by rulers and all who hold true ruling power - - guild in Cormyr).

Headquarters: The Mastery (Suzail, south side Promenade).

Portfolios: falconry, raptor breeding and trading, winemaking, vineyard-owning and -tending, wine blendings and sales.

Badge: a triangle of gold, lone point down, with two joined scarlet spread (but curved in flight) wings inset "across its top".

Notes: Traditionally the guild whose clients were almost all royalty, courtiers of exalted rank, and nobles, the "Winewings" (as Suzailans generally all them) are now making "great stacks of coins" (as one member put it) providing falcons and drink to swift-rising, wealthy merchants who want either to be noble, or to act as if they are; because the falconers and the vintners aspired to serve the same noble clientele, they were the first to join ranks and form a guild; their successes led to the other "anvil-and-flower" (we real-world types would say "chalk-and-cheese") combined disparate-trades guilds.


Guildmaster: Oldvruk "Old Buck" Faerahowe (CG male human Ftr2/Exp12, a fat, jovial mountain of a man with a witty tongue and a love of revelry that extends to holding guild meetings with a scantily-clad lass on either knee or entwined around him; is never seen without a huge tankard of ale in his hand or within easy reach; is a semi-retired brewmaster who makes VERY good coin each year providing Cormyrean royalty and nobility with what we real-world types would call "designer brews" for their largets revels: ales with special flavours [involving apples, or cranberries, or woodsmoke sugar-sauce, or any of a score of odder ingredients] obtainable nowhere else); views his guild as an essential service whose members can only prosper when Suzailans are happy and growing more numerous - - so if the Obarskyrs can keep the peace and the harvests are good, we all benefit.

Headquarters: The Caskhouse (occupies a floor above a guild-owned tavern, The High Tankard [the center Promenade-front building in the block that contains Danain's hardware shop] that serves only ales and cheeses).

Portfolios: brewers and spirits blenders and importers, cheesemakers.

Badge: A gray tankard (no handle visible, inward-sloping-to-top sides, capped with white foam) atop a wedge of golden cheese with a red rind, on an oval brown field.

Notes: The Caskhouse often hosts drinking-revels (for members and one guest per member) that last several days and involve hired highcoin girls, much retching into buckets, exotic desserts, and unclad surfing tables (and down stairs) atop huge platters of cheese; the Old Buck has been shrewd enough to endear himself to all Suzailans by irregular, unannounced "processions" through several blocks of a Suzail street, handing out free samples of exotic cheeses and ales to everyone he sees (and by arranging with the Watch that anyone found starving in the streets during the hard months of winter is to be quietly brought to the Caskhouse for a "warm-up" meal of ale and cheese; and given a cloak and a sack of small cheese-ends to take away with them); so of all the guilds in Suzail, this is the one citizens will fiercely defend, no matter what mischief its members may do or trouble drunken guild clients may cause.


Guildmaster: Ullvor Mharivven (NE male human Rog2/Exp11; a thin, darkly handsome, prissy fop of a man much given to wearing maroon cloaks over high-booted finery [that's more fashionable than most nobles], making sarcastic or cutting comments, and sighing theatrically when clients complain or members dare to disagree with him); he sees his guild as not having enough respect, and is planning exhibits (we real-world types might call them "open houses") to display spectacular stained glass windows and roofing trim ("gingerbread"), in an attempt to start new fashions (he's also busily spreading rumors that ghosts accumulate in old houses in Suzail, and can be banished by periodically renovating or tearing down and building anew).

Headquarters: Hardshutters House (Suzail, north-front Market).

Portfolios: roofers, slate-masons, shingle-cutters, thatchers and thatch-cutters, glaziers, "sandglass" makers, glass stainers.

Badge: three disembodied (ending at the wrist) pink human hands, on a diamond-shaped field of crimson: a right hand at the bottom, situated vertically reaching for the center of the diamond, where it's curling its finger and thumb to outline (most of) an oval; while just above this oval, two hands (a matching left and right pair) reach vertically down from the top of the diamond, touch 'heels' together, and angle their fingers out diagonally downwards, to form a 'roof' over the oval.

Notes: this guild is perhaps the most easygoing of all Cormyrean guilds, which means "often late for a job, or prone to vanish for half a day or even several days on end without warning or explanation," and also means that guild members are the most ready to work alone or with just one trained assistant, and readily "day hire" interested youths, oldsters, and layabouts (for roofing-work, NEVER glazier-tasks); Mharivven long ago hired a wizard to craft a spell that he can activate (by means of a finger-ring) to animate glass shards (from the inevitable window breakages of guildwork; useful shards and pieces are brought back to Hardshutters for attic storage, and salvage by members doing "crazyshards" leaded glass skylights and transoms): he can readily open an attic hatch when anyone breaks into Hardshutters, and unleash a whirlwind of glass shards equal in effects to a BLADE BARRIER spell.

Oooh. Wince at that last one.

Ahem, so saith Ed, who will return (he promises) with more Realmslore tomorrow. Busy, busy man.


October 7, 2005: Hello again. As promised, Ed details the last three current guilds of Cormyr:


Guildmaster: Samvaert Holoathyn (NE male human Rog3/Exp10; a nasal-voice, stooped, slender "rat-like" man, soft-spoken and sidling, who dreams of rising to true power in Cormyr - - say, Vangerdahast's level - - by becoming the "all-powerful right hand" of a noble usurper, or of the infant Azoun V if no other Obarskyr or senior courtier is left standing; failing that, he wants to make himself and his guild rich and behind-the-scenes influential and investors in everything, through cultivating close ties with many powerful, energetic, scheming nobles) Headquarters: The Old House (Suzail, south-side Promenade; mansion that's an office only, not an active tannery!).

Portfolios: tanners, leather-dyers, glovers, corvisers (boot- and shoe-makers), cobblers, harness-makers, battle leatherers (makers of leather armor and under-armor), trimmers (who sew leather "trim" to garments), weatherdarrs (makers of leather caps, hats, "deep-snows" leggings, and weather-cloaks), leatherwork repairers and alterers.

Badge: brown barrel-mouth (black interior) out of which is pouring, in a widening trapezoid, a ribbon of glossy brown (leather) to fill the entire bottom edge of the white, long-vertical rectangular background.

Notes: most members of this guild are hard-working, no-nonsense men and women who are far too busy to be mindful of anything more than their own (great) daily importance and worth to the realm; they make (and repair) many of the "daily essential" items, from smiths' aprons to footware to belts to hold breeches up and weapon-scabbards attached to their warriors - - but a few of the more successful ones are being encouraged by "Guildmaster Samvaert" (as everyone invariably calls him) to cultivate close personal relationships with various dissaffected nobles (which gives the guildmembers "airs" of importance beyond their station and wealth, and also involves them doing little shady deeds for the nobles, to curry favour, and so becoming "useful agents" of said nobles); it remains to be seen how soon these practises will take to end in disaster.


Guildmaster: Ahltoebur Maravillus (LN male human Exp14; a very smart, superbly controlled in face, voice, and reactions actor of a man who looks like a retired warrior, is actually both a cooper AND a weaver by trade, and is one of the most farsighted and shrewd-judge-of-folk people in all Cormyr; he prides himself on correctly anticipating what all of his fellow guilds, important Court and Crown personages, and prominent merchants and nobles will do, are striving for, and what's most likely to befall their plans; he expertly maneuvers his guild to be low-profile, "always there and always dependable," making as few enemies and as many coins as possible, useful to everyone but in no-one's way; he sees dark times ahead for Cormyr, from the direction of Sembia, and is quietly investing in properties and businesses elsewhere in the Heartlands).

Headquarters: Wondercloak House (Suzail, south-side Promenade).

Portfolios: coopers (barrel-makers), weavers, textile-dyers, garment-cutters, embroiderers, clothiers (sellers of garments), drapers (sellers of draperies and tapestries).

Badge: a horizontal sky blue oval, and centered on it a side-on brown barrel with three black iron bands around it; protruding from both ends of the barrel (which are apparently open, though they aren't shown) is a wavy strip of mauve cloth, flaring at both ends and with elaborate tri-flower-pattern embroidery visible on its four corners.

Notes: one of the busiest and wealthiest of the guilds, "the Weavers" are seen as fussy, timorous, short-sighted scuttling men totally devoted to their work; many of them really are (and a lot of the others are over-the-top flamboyant "artistes" of fluting language and effeminate tantrums) - - which is why they tend to send the large-handed, burly, grim-eyed, worldly-wise coopers to do a lot of their hard negotiating (for instance, with shipcaptains selling coffers of snails for use in making dyes), while the brilliant Maravillus remains in the background, keeping a "retiring" reputation and hiding his intellect as much as possible; he often volunteers information to the War Wizards and is regarded by them as one of the most loyal and useful men in all Cormyr, in precisely the same way as the War Wizards themselves are: he serves the good of the realm first, and the monarch second.


Guildmaster: Elmdaerle (NG male human Wiz4, sage: zoology, botany; a friendly, charismatic leader who is currently Cormyr's foremost expert on forest life of all kinds in the realm, and looks like everybody's idea of a kindly tall, gaunt, bearded and robed wizard of mature years but not yet aged and white-haired; Elmdaerle isn't quite as "soft" as he looks or acts, but does want to like people and think the best of everyone he meets; he's genuinely consumed by his hunt for knowledge, and hasn't a malicious or an ambitious bone in his body).

Headquarters: Oldoaks Stair (upstairs in Elmdaerle's house: Arabel, encircled by a city block, directly between the rear wings of Vondor's Shoes & Boots [feature 127 on the Arabel map on pages 46 and 47 of the Grand Tour booklet of the 2nd Edition FR boxed set] and the various House Hiloar Warehouses [all marked 129 on the same map]).

Portfolios: medicinal, edible, lubricant, dye-source, and craft-worthy uses for plant and animal matter, either as distillates or solids (and all who work with such substances and associated research and vending).

Badge: a staring white eye with a three-taloned yellow claw protruding out of it below, two brown wings (mirror-images of each other) projecting out of either side of it, and a light blue fish tail projecting out of the top of it, all on a shield-shaped purple background.

Notes: more of a sages' debating society than anything else, this guild is being watched carefully (and infiltrated) by the War Wizards, to make sure its members don't develop handy murder weapons (poisons) that could be used against the realm (unless the War Wizards get them, and their antidotes, first), or take it into their heads to breed new hybrid monsters or "designer beasts" for wealthy nobles or any other such lunacy; thus far, its members tend to be dabblers and sages more than anything else, and to be working most actively on salves, lubricants, scents, and dyes for sale to merchants everywhere - - those who aren't really arguers and collectors of monster trophies (and hiring adventuring bands to bring back more of same); Elhazir (CN male human Wiz15, the semi-retired, urbane and handsome dragonhunting mage and owner of Elhazir's Exotica [a shop that's feature 122 on the Arabel map]) and Adolphus (handsome, distinguished, aging LN male human Exp6 [calligrapher and drafter-of-laws-and-contracts], high-fees sage: astronomy and physical sciences [expert at identifying metals, base minerals, woods, and plants], likes to be contacted at The Dancing Dragon tavern, feature 112 on the Arabel map) are both members, and have aided Elmdaerle in hiring adventurers to aid guild members in mounting materials-gathering (hunting) expeditions into the Stonelands and the Hullack Forest.

So saith Ed, at last completing his survey of the guilds of Cormyr for Asgetrion and us all. No rest for the Wicked old Weirdbeard, however: he'll be back with another Realmslore reply tomorrow.

love to all,

P.S. to Kuje re. my previous post: if anyone on those other boards wants to know just how it is * I * know so much about Hasbro following sales figures, tell them: I'm a Hasbro shareholder.


October 2, 2005: Hi again, fellow scribes. Ed has interrupted his guilds of Cormyr descriptions to briefly reply to another scribe:

Well met to The Simbul. Great questions about your namesake, and I'll answer them all in time, but for now, I'm just going to deal with your queries about that infamous tattered black gown.

Briefly put, The Simbul (not you, the character :}) doesn't give a fig for her appearance, but does "like what she likes," which is why she's usually barefoot, with wild hair and wearing only (yes, no undergarments) a plain black gown.

And it's not so much one gown as it is a wardrobe of twenty-some such gowns.

Those gowns take a lot of beating, because Alassra's shapechanging ways place her up in trees, perched on sharp rocks, and in other dirty or overgrown places from time to time, when she changes back to human form.

She pulls free without any care for her clothing, because she just doesn't care, and doesn't mind mild pain (thorn-pricks and scratches from sharp branches, etc.). Yet she prefers the familiar comfort of her "little black gowns," and therefore rarely reaches for any other garment (though she owns rooms full of clothing, some of it stunning - - in part because some folk of Aglarond think she looks terrible in those tattered gowns, and often gift her with fine clothing).

The Simbul is genuinely delighted to receive such gifts, if the clothing is flattering and isn't some sort of poisonous or magical trap, but tends to hang them up unworn. She is, after all, a queen and can wear whatever she pleases.

So she strides to her wardrobes and puts on any tattered black gown that isn't absolutely falling apart - - not because she cares if folk see her skin or not, but because she uses the particular weave of the cloth in her gowns to 'root' a lot of her spell triggers (and thus, her "hanging" spells). So they have magical uses, and one or two innate magical powers, like [NDA] and [NDA] and [oooh, a BIG NDA], too.

The Simbul mends her gowns by hand (needles and thread, personally, never employing magic) when she has time and sees the need. Often, her mending job will make sure the garment won't fall apart, but will still leave some holes (and, yes, she's been known to tease unwanted envoys and ambassadors by wearing too-revealing gowns and watching them struggle not to look).

Usually, she just lets a truly shredded gown fall to the floor of her wardrobe, shrugs, and reaches for the next (already slightly tattered from previous wearings) one.

Her servants know very well never to throw away the slightest scrap of thread of any of her gowns, nor let it fall into the hands of lurking Thayan wizards or anyone else.

The gowns can get filthy, but The Simbul does wash them between wearings. Sometimes, she dives into a soap-filled laundry vat still wearing a gown, and washes it and her hair and self all at once; she once cheerfully told a scandalized laundry maid that she did this "when the lice really get going, and I can FEEL them eating each other, all over me." (She MAY have been joking.)

Perhaps there is some sort of sentimental attachment to "the look," if not to a particular one of her many identical-except-for-where-the-holes-are gowns. It WAS how she dressed centuries ago, and has been her usual clothing ever since.

So saith Ed.

Who will return with more guild details tomorrow.

love to all,


October 4, 2005: Hi again, all.

Ed takes another brief break before finishing up his Cormyrean guilds descriptions, to deal with a few more questions about The Simbul from... The Simbul.

Ed speaks:

The Girdle of Rods has magical powers of its own, but they are [NDA]'d except for this one: it can cause up to four rods that have been carried within it for more than a day at a time (anytime in the past) to levitate in a ring around the girdle-wearer, and "fire" simultaneously, under the girdle-wearer's mental command (i.e. he or she need not hold them, can aim them mentally, at a seen target or a known location, and can do other activities while using them, such as running, leaping, or even spellcasting.

The Girdle has nothing to do with The Simbul's power of taking certain sorts of magic items 'inside herself;' that's her personal power, and I plan to say more about how she got that power someday, if I get the chance (for now, consider it NDA'd). And yes, she can store many sorts of magic rods (and certain other sorts of magic items) inside her AND call on their powers, without taking harm from their discharges or altering their effects (i.e. you read the novel correctly), but I'm going to keep the precise details of what, how, and limitations secret for now. After all, it's not as if SHE'S going to tell you (and if she shows you, it's usually the last thing you ever see :}).

Regarding the Spell Trigger scrolls and written spellbook inscriptions spread by Magister Lawkland: The Simbul did nothing to recover them, because she was specifically forbidden to do so by Mystra. Which is indeed why they are now, as per the 3e Realms sourcebooks you cite, "available to anyone" (er, who can find them, of course). The main task Mystra sets her Chosen is spreading magic more widely among intelligent beings of Faerūn, and working to make access to magic possible for more of them (in other words, acting against tyrant-wizards who try to restrict magic use or keep copies of spells only for themselves, denying them to others).

And yes, The Simbul learned how to wear (and use) a large number of rings at once (one per toe and thumb, and two per finger; they still won't function if worn as earrings or piercings, though they can be "carried inert" in such a way), though not from that now-deceased Magister (again, NDA time). The Chosen are reluctant to just "let fire" with lots of magic items and spells simultaneously, by the way (although The Simbul, enraged and spell-battling Red Wizards, is perhaps the most reckless of them all in this regard), because they know (and can "feel") the potential damage to the Weave this can cause (wild magic echoes, instability and even Shadow Weave tears or small dead-magic zones).

So saith Ed.

Who knows your spellstoring gems query is still outstanding, The Simbul, and will get back to it after he's answered a few more pending queries.

love to all,


October 5, 2005: Hi again, all. Ed replies to Gareth Yaztromo's question: "are there any subcultures in Toril?" hereafter:

Yes, of course there are. Wealthy youths (we might call them "teenagers") who because of their family prosperity have time (freedom from working to feed themselves) and coin enough to pursue fashions and interests that disgust or unsettle their parents often do so, as a form of rebellion. This happens all the time in Waterdeep, Athkatla, Suzail, the cities of Sembia, and so on. Some young nobles go through a "play at being a street beggar" or "gang member" or even worse "prostitute" phase, or join weird cults (or even CREATE weird cults, complete with "shocking" clothing, secret passwords and catch-phrases, and preoccupations with drugs, arcane sagecraft or herblore or desires to "go wild" and live with packs of wild animals in forests, adopt the bygone fashions, manners, and mores of ancestors from several centuries back, and so on. For many individuals, these are just "passing fads," but because so many of them try it, there is always a group of people sharing such an interest in existence (thus, a "subculture").

For instance, in both Athkatla and Waterdeep, nobles and the youth of wannabe-noble rising merchant houses play at "Farforevermore," which is wearing the fashions popular among nobles of their cities more than a century ago, courting in the old ways, playing at keeping (and flogging) slaves as the nobles once did... and so on. "Forevers" adopt persona names while playacting, often maintain hidden or private garret rooms where they can change clothing from their everyday selves to their personas, and pool funds to host revels or even rent mansions where they can play at Farforevermore (though of course most of them would hotly deny that they're "playing" at anything, insisting instead that they're improving themselves, and ultimately their cities, by cleaving to the "better" ways of yesteryear.

This is just one subculture, out of many others (consider doppelgangers and dragons who dwell shapechanged among humans not to hide or to blend in, but to try to shift human attitudes towards accepting doppelgangers or dragons - - not just as social neighbours, but as sexual and family mates). We just haven't dwelt much on these in print because the nature of the game sourcebooks, adventure "modules," and novels TSR and now WotC publish just haven't (beyond the "here's an evil or deluded cult" facet) had the right opportunities to delve into them.

So saith Ed.

Who'll return with a quick reply to KnightErrantJR tomorrow, and then get to the last trio of guilds.



On October 5, 2005 THO said: I strongly echo Wooly's comment.

Have no fears for the workers, RF: though they're shown to have their warts, too, it's obvious that Ed and Elaine feel the same way about honest toil as you do. You'll see.

I think this book is their strongest TSR/WotC work thus far, for both of them. Not as dramatic as scenes they've separately written elsewhere, but... easily told, entertains, moves along: all in all, superior.



October 6, 2005: Hello again, fellow scribes. Ed replies to KnightErrantJR about the ORIGINAL gaming group of mainly-PC adventurers to explore the Realms: the Company of Crazed Venturers.

Ed speaks:

I would LOVE to feature or explore the Crazed Venturers (nearest and dearest to my heart) in a fiction trilogy. However, right now, it just doesn't seem likely that I'll have the chance. The Knights books are coming out one a year, from 2006 through 2008, and then the Books Department guys'n'gals and I already have more than one "hot project" (no, of course I can't say more, for obvious reasons) agreed-upon. Sales figures tend to indicate that for all the moaning and kvetching about Elminster as Ed's Ego-Fulfillment Perfectly Tireless Lover And All-Powerful Fix-The-World-While-Being-A-Jackass Wizard, you folks love to buy Elminster books. So I'm sure there will be pressure for me to return to Elminster... and the Crazed Venturers haven't had nearly as much contact with the Old Mage as the Knights have.

However: yes, the Crazed Venturers are important, and yes, I have a very soft spot for them. I guess we'll just have to see...

So saith Ed, who REALLY WILL return with the last trio of Cormyrean guilds tomorrow. (Or else.)



On October 6, 2005 THO said: Kuje, I'll add just one informational bit to this topic before we let it rest. I have always found Ed to be scrupulously honest, and all writers receive royalty reports that either specify copies sold or can be deciphered to do so.

Moreover, anyone who pays the VERY steep fees can get access to the BookScan numbers that tell accurate sales and returns figures for all of North America. Through his library, Ed can occasionally glance at these. He's been a librarian (book buyer), writer, editor, publisher, and occasionally a book sponsor in publishing for over thirty years. So, yes, he DOES know how to read sales figures.

The "ridiculous" response posted above for the contention that WotC doesn't pay attention to sales figures for making publishing decisions is, I think, the best possible comment. Whatever anyone said on the WotC boards, I can attest that Hasbro DOES pay close attention to sales figures - - and expects its subsidiaries, divisions, brands, and imprints to do so, too.

And lastly, Ed and the Books Department people are friends as well as colleagues in the publishing of the Realms. Even if WotC wasn't legally obligated to keep Ed informed (and yes, like everyone human, occasional slip-ups in communications occur), they want to do so because Ed can provide lore about the Realms, suggest and co-ordinate things (his new city articles in DRAGON provide settings for Realms novel writers, for example), and so on.



October 8, 2005: Hello again, fellow scribes. Hang in there, Baalster. Ed has many, many demands on his time, and a lot of factors we scribes either don't know (or can't make public yet) as to why this or that query gets answered or delayed... like someone else writing a novel that uses locations or people you or someone else asks about. However, Ed has NOT forgotten you, I promise (because he said so, in an e-mail to me about an hour ago).

Herewith, however, Ed replies to nagitive D's question: "i was just wondering if Ed was planning on restoring sylune of the silver fall novel to full life instead of having her to use those magicaly created bodies ,and what spells does Elminster use to create said bodies."

Ed speaks:

Elminster doesn't use spells to create those bodies. Syluné can "ride" willing hosts (living beings), but her mental presence will swiftly "burn out" (drive to mindless insanity) most mortals, who don't have the mental resilience of the Chosen (or other intelligent beings who've existed for centuries). However, she prefers to inhabit a body that's already gone mindless due to other causes, or 'spin her own' by calling on the Weave. Just how she creates said bodies is still (and for now, will remain) a secret (sorry), but it's something she can readily (though not quickly) do, in her spectral state, but that's far more difficult for still-living, still-corporeal Chosen to accomplish. It is VERY mentally tiring for her.

I'm not planning on restoring Syluné to "full life" because that wouldn't be in keeping with Mystra's Chosen, Syluné's own character, or leaving some dramatic impact to her death in the first place. If everything can be magically undone with no cost, then there's no lasting weight of meaning to any achievement or event.

So saith Ed.

Who adds a postscript to The Sage:

If Lady K joins you in chasing and whipping lovely THO, don't worry about knowing where to begin. I'll be right there doing the "beginning" for you. :}

Ahem. You can begin on me any time, dear, but can you finish me off?

love to all,


October 9, 2005: Well met again, scribes of Candlekeep. I lay before you Ed of the Greenwood's reply to Lauzoril about Ed's intentions regarding shedding "some light on Khelben's past like he's done with Elminster. It would be nice to see how Khelben started out and how he came to be Mystra's servant. And also when and why Elminster decided to settle in Shadowdale?"

Ed speaks:

I'll go farther than Wooly Rupert: I'll say we DEFINITELY WILL see more of Khelben's past in Steven Schend's forthcoming novel BLACKSTAFF (which I promise will be more of a blockbuster, mass market paperback format notwithstanding, than most of you can hope to expect). Yes, I created Khelben, but Steven has really made the character his own over the years, elaborate invented history and fascinating origin and deep psychological examination of Khelben and all - - and I'm delighted to have read BLACKSTAFF, and can tell you true: Steven's the man to do it. He got Khelben "right," and will answer for you those things you mention it would be "nice to see." He'll do a lot more than that, too. I'm happy to leave the illumination of Khelben in Steven's more-than-capable hands.

As for when and why Elminster decided to settle in Shadowdale, that's been covered briefly in existing Realmslore, but not in depth (yet). However, I Have Plans...

Insert diabolical laugh. And that's all Ed sent me in the way of an answer. More Realmlore (on another topic) next time.



October 10, 2005: Hello again, fellow scribes. Kajehase, I hope this reaches you in time. Ed replies to your Chondathan map words question:

Hi, Kajehase. I made much of this up on the spot, because the Chondathan written language in my notes consists of only a few fragments (so there isn't a lot more than what's here to reveal to you). However, here we go:

River: Raeth
Stream: Arraeth
Lake: Halgond
Swamp or Bog or Marsh: Raethgond
Sea: Morro

Forest: Lhar
Mountain: Arkhor (Mount: Arkh)
Hill: Mahan
Tor or Crag (lone hill with at least one steep, rocky "cliff" side): Arkul
Gorge (large): Loroth (literally "Great Wound," from "lorr" [battle-cut], and "oth" [great])
Ravine (small): Lornal (literally "Lasting Wound," from "lorr" [battle-cut], and "nal" [lasting or longtime])
Valley: Cauldoth (literally "Great Bowl," from "caulda" [bowl or basin], and "oth" [great])
Ford: Lann
Bridge: Lantor
Trail: Ontahl
Road: Tahl
Cairn or Marker: obold

Some mapping notes: in any writing, expect to see "River Ashaba" rather than "Ashaba River" (so: "Raeth Ashaba" not "Ashaba Raeth"). Usages of Mount and Road usually follow the same construction.

So saith Ed, Sage Most Mighty of Realmslore.

Who's hard at work on glorious new projects to entertain Realms fans in the years just ahead.

love to all,


On October 11, 2005 THO said: Yes, 'twas a sacrifice as much as an escape. That's one matter I wish Ed and Elaine had spent more time on; it DOES come across as awfully abrupt (which is fine), and would have benefited by a followup explorative scene later.



On October 11, 2005 THO said: Hi, Beirnadri. I would love to say more about the Mages Regal, but they are thoroughly and completed NDA'd right now. Sorry.

I will go so far as to hint that the third possibility you raise for their nature is more likely to be correct than the first two.

Oh, and I'm a "she."



October 11, 2005: Well met as always, gentles. This time, Ed makes reply to Asgetrion in the matter of "... are kitchen sinks (that flush into drains) common in the Realms, then? You also answered my query about tallhouses, and described that there may be even flushable toilets (with water coming from rooftop water cisterns). Maybe these sinks only available in large cities, and only among the wealthy? I had always assumed that washbasins are what people use for cleaning dishes..."

Ed replies:

Sinks (small ones in bathchambers and large ones in kitchens and sculleries) are increasingly common in the Realms, but they do tend to be in larger, grander buildings. What they very rarely are is running-water sinks as we modern real-world types think of them.

Instead, they're filled with carry-pitchers (tall, narrow, very sturdy cylindrical vessels with over-the-top leather 'splash flaps' (really anti-splash-and-spill flaps, and really good handles; the equivalents of buckets with pour-spouts) by servants or family members in middle-class or lower-class households, brought from rooftop cisterns or cellar springs or pumps in cellars or in the street or yard outside. A cork or whittled plug keeps the water in the sink until its use is done (and many households keep a "graywater" sink full of water for hand-washing, not drained until it's really filthy), and then it drains away through plumbing.

Only wealthy households have plumbed clean water (from rooftop cisterns, filled either with rainwater or by pumping) coming down into the sinks.

You are quite correct to assume that most people, especially in rural areas, use washbasins for washing. However, specifically for cleaning dishes, there's yet another method: if there's a handy stream nearby, the dishes (mainly platters, skillets, tankards, eating-forks and cooking knives, remember) are usually loaded into a carry-basket, taken to a sandy or gritty-mud spot on the bank, and scoured clean there, only to be rinsed properly clean in the stream-water, and brought back inside. Only when firewood permits, the stream is known to be "unclean," AND the material the dishes are made of will stand up to boiling or warmed water, will the rinsed dishes also be washed or left to stand in hot or boiling water.

So saith Ed.

Who does all the dishes in his household, following the old Boy Scout camping rule (and yes, Ed was a Boy Scout) of "the cook never does the dishes." His wife craftily never lets him cook, so she never has to do the dishes.

And yes, Asgetrion, I know you asked a lot more in that same post. Ed will answer your other queries tomorrow.

P.S. Kajehase, the river is named for a mage, and so does not directly have anything to do with Arkhor.

love to all,


October 12, 2005: Hi again, all. Ed deals with Asgetrion's multi-part query: "I was curious about how "specialized" craftsmen are in the Realms? Are there any ropemakers, for example, who only make and sell ropes, or do most craftsmen (experts) try to make several products within their skill. Another example might also be a carpenter, who specializes in crafting fine pieces of furniture (such as chairs, tables, wooden statues, etc). If he lived in a remote village, would he also work occasionally as a roofer (or repair wooden things) for the other villagers (these tasks apparently fall within the Carpentry skill)?

On the same issue, I know that you have previously described "typical" villages in the Heartlands, but do these villagers usually buy their "everyday" items from peddlers or try to make them themselves (even without proper skills)? Such as barrels, pots, ropes, etc.

If there is no resident craftsman in the village (potter, craftsman, ropemaker, saddler, etc.), do they try to make these items themselves? I mean like "you make the barrels, since you have some experince in carpentry, and I will try to make us rope... Dornar know something about leather, so he'd probably be the best leatherworker among us"?

I know that there is usually a blacksmith, but how common (and profitable) would it be for a potter/cooper/ropemaker live in a small (farming) hamlet/village?

I also wish to ask the same about butchers - do most communitites with livestock have a resident butcher/slaughterer, or do they take the animals to the nearest town/city? Or do they slaughter the animals themselves when they need meat for cooking? If there is a butcher in a village, would he be paid for every animal, and would he also then prepare the meat to be sold elsewhere? Or is it more common to slaughter animals in the nearest town/city?

Then I'd like to ask how often (usually) travelling merchants/peddlers would visit small villages/hamlets?"

Ed replies:

The short answer to all of this is: it depends. Or rather, it varies widely from place to place. Yes, there are many, many specialized craftworkers (to borrow your example, ropemakers who only make and sell ropes). The truly single-task workers tend to be in larger cities or at least market-moot towns or ports and waystops along busy trade routes, because such places can support them (for instance, a painter of gilded blazons of arms is more likely to dwell in a city containing a royal court than in a rural village).

However, it's also true that "most craftsmen (experts) try to make several products within their skill." For one thing, it's practical (helps them with sideline income not restricted by guild rules or limitations of law or material or popularity on their 'main skill'), and for another thing it can serve as a hobby or recreational outlet for daily stress and frustration. It can also save them coin, by doing more for themselves and by yielding items they can barter with other merchants to avoid having to go and buy something.

The more rural a person is, the more they are forced to be well-rounded in skills, or at least to try to do every necessary task (bartering with truly skilled neighbours for things they can't do, and co-operating with neighbours in all tasks [e.g. roundups and branding of herds, barn-raisings] beyond the strength or reach of a single individual). So, yes, your furniture-maker WOULD work as a roofer and repairer of wooden items.

Villagers need those "everyday items" you refer to, well... everyday. They will 'make do' with whatever they have (which is why rural folk never really throw anything away, but instead toss broken things 'out back' or into a barn corner until another use for them arises) until they have time to make a new item. If it's cheaper to buy one, or they can wait until the next passing merchant passes, or the merchant can bring something better than they can make, they'll buy from that caravan wagon or peddler - - IF they have coin enough (many rural folk lack coins, so if the peddler won't "barter fair," his goods are simply unobtainable to them). Which is why a peddler who dies out in the open is typically found without his pack-beasts or any of their gear: locals descend and swiftly take away and hide everything of value.

So, yes, villagers will try to make things for themselves if their ranks don't include the right sort of crafter (cooper to make barrels, ropemaker, etc.) - - or if they owe the local cooper too much. When you post "I know that there is usually a blacksmith, but how common (and profitable) would it be for a potter/cooper/ropemaker live in a small (farming) hamlet/village?" you're 'thinking too modern.' It's nothing to do with profitability, it has to do with where you the Realms lad or lass were born, who you could get training with, how you can feed yourself where you live (i.e. do you live on a large family farm with food enough for all, or are you starving and MUST travel elsewhere or die?), and how much call there is for your skills where you are (if you learned to make a sound barrel from old Raldivur who's been in your hamlet of Oldbucket for sixty years, with every smart wagon-merchant stopping to buy a few new, sound barrels from him, and you too can now make a sound barrel even after Raldivur's died, then the merchants will buy your barrels). After all, if you have a roof over your head and food in your belly and your contentment overrides your daily gripes and dissatisfactions, you don't really need to earn a single actual coin, do you?

Butchering isn't usually considered the specialized skill in the Realms that it's deemed to be in our modern-day real world of health inspectors and sanitized supermarket styrofoam trays of shrink-wrapped meat: people hunt and kill their own meals, or rear and slaughter them. There ARE butchers in cities, where folk dwell who don't have access to animals, and carvers (who can cut meat elegantly for feasts) are considered to have specialized skills Faerun-wide, but nigh every farmer can slaughter, skin, hang, smoke, and cut up everything from rabbits and fish to rothe.

Most livestock are still driven (herded by drovers, not put into a conveyance) from countryside ranch to paddocks outside large cities, and there purchased by local butchers who bring them inside the walls, to their own compounds, and slaughter them there. Some carcasses are salted or smoked and then packed (or in winter, allowed to freeze in the open, in an enclosure guarded from wolves and leucrotta, and other predators and scavengers), and then transported by ship or sledge to hungry cities, but the majority of eaten-for-meat critters "arrive alive, on the hoof."

Elderly or infirm folk usually make an arrangement with a neighbour they trust to kill and hang their animals for them, paying the slaughterer with some of the meat from the carcasses. It's most common to butcher animals in the community where they're going to be eaten.

However, rich ranching areas that have a handy port or riverbarge-accessible market town usually do have butchers with smoking-sheds, who buy many animals, butcher several daily, prepare them for shipping elsewhere, and have business dealings with shipcaptains or caravan-masters who do that shipping, to buy the readied meat.

As for how often (usually) travelling merchants/peddlers visit small villages/hamlets, the answer again is: it depends. On how isolated those communities are (and how dangerous the local citizenry, raiding orcs, monsters, avalanches, jungle diseases, general climate, or swooping dragons). How much coin the merchant can expect to make (not so much from the villagers, but reselling the items they barter to him, when he gets to other settlements), and how difficult his journey is (does he have to make or hire a raft? Portage? Climb mountain passes?). In pleasant rural farming countryside in fairly law-abiding territory, however, the answer would be: frequently. In summer, at least two or three a tenday in some places, one a tenday in others. On caravan routes: in the spring and fall "rushes," the roads (and all camping-place settlements along them) can be jammed.

So saith Ed.

More next time.

love to all,


October 13, 2005: Hello again, fellow scribes. I pass on Ed's reply to khorne's question: "Well, now that we have seen plenty of examples of noble bands with the cranial capacity of an undead goblin, are there any young nobles who form bands that "mean business" as in trying to be serious adventurers, and(preferably) surviving? As in: a young noble has been gone for over a year from home, when he comes home his father is pissed of and asks him what he`s been doing, and as a means of reply he hauls up the skull of some horrible monster and/or precious jewelry from his backpack."

Ed replies:

Yes, there are plenty of nobles who truly want to be successful adventurers. Some crave the fame (as in: cool reputation sure to impress certain young ladies), some want the fortune (as in: independence from the family and freedom from their criticisms of "young do-nothing, lazy wastrels"), and some want to prove to themselves and/or a respected family member (usually father or crusty old grandsire) that they can achieve things through their own skills (in particular: daughters proving to fathers that they can be "just as manly a son" as their dead or never-born brothers would have been).

Many nobles will, of course, be far MORE impressed by offspring who achieve mercantile trading success elsewhere and just arrive back home as incredibly rich, worldly, sophisticated folk who've picked up valuable and exotic trophies of a 'grand tour' of wider Faerūn.

Most noble wannabe-adventurers either swiftly perish in Undermountain or parts unknown in the Savage North (usually exploring heard-of-all-their-lives beast lairs near outlying family landholdings), or cleave to darker morals and establish short-lived careers in Skullport. A few depart Waterdeep for good (or until parents die or sicken and their own standing re. becoming head of the house improves, or until family members with whom they decidedly Don't Get Along perish), and a VERY few combine investment success in Waterdeep with adventuring forays that win them a daring, dangerously competent reputation.

The sort of scene you allude to, wherein young noble astonishes a parent with a battle-trophy produced as a surprise, has happened more often than one might think. More than one mounted dragon-head (or slightly less splendid monster equivalent) wall-adornment appeared on proud display as a result of such revelations.

Down the years, there have been scores of successful adventuring bands whose founding members were entirely or almost all "younger sons and daughters of the city, seeking their fortunes." Most often, these are struggling middle-class merchant stock, seeking to improve their standing and make a living, but there are at least a dozen noble-led adventuring companies that have achieved legitimate success over the years (though I can think of none that shine just at the present; those who've read CITY OF SPLENDORS [SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! SKIP TO END OF PARAGRAPH NOW TO AVOID SPOILER!] should take note that the public, Waterdeep-wide perception of the events therein would NOT "crown" the Gemcloaks as heroes or even successful adventurers; their actions are simply too little known and too misunderstood).

Among them are The Silver Swords (now semi-retired, this masked brotherhood was known for their "silver" [chromed] rapiers and half-masks, and reached their height of fame twenty summers ago), the Men of the Sabre (a large group of noble-led outlaws and wanderers active around eighty winters ago, who became hireswords and met various fates all over the Sword Coast North), and The Amalraes (this last one being an all-female group of revel-loving young lasses, described by a scribe of the time as "gowned beauties all," led by Amalrae Brokengulf and Amalrae Eirontalar, that flourished almost a century ago).

So saith Ed, tireless spinner of Realmslore.

love to all,


October 13, 2005: Hi, Rinonalyrna Fathomlin. I sent your post to Ed, and he just sent me an e-reply back for you, as follows:

Thank you VERY much for telling me you liked CoS. For me, that crowns the fun I had with Elaine writing it. I don't write Realms novels to win awards or to make millions; I write them to entertain people, and it brightens my week when someone whose judgement and taste I respect tells me they liked something I created or shared in the creation of. Elaine and I tucked a lot of moral dilemmas and 'important' moments for characters into CoS that we didn't stop the light, fun and fast-moving narrative tone to highlight, and I've been very interested to see which ones various readers pick up on and comment on. (I.e. do most readers care that we gave villains this treatment as well as heroes, or do they focus on the heroes' wrestlings?)

Thanks again for sending your enjoyment via the Lady Hooded. THIS is what keeps me writing.


And there you have it. The man himself is deep in writing another Realms novel right now (you can probably guess which one), and is humming contentedly along.



October 14, 2005: Hello, all. Ed thinks it's time to answer that last question from The Simbul (the scribe) about The Simbul (the character), to whit: "in regards to the spell-storing gems carried in Phaeldara's hair, embedded in the Simbul's bedposts, and that she carried under her breasts in hopes of using them to heal Elminster (in ELMINSTER IN HELL), which of the following would you consider them to be closest to in terms of actual game features:

1. Attuned Gems, as described in MAGIC OF FAERUN

2. The focus component gems for a particularly long duration casting of one of her Simbul's Spell Matrix line of spells

3) Spell-storing gems that are the result perhaps of a variant of the Focal Stone spell used by Valamaradace or the Shalantha's Delicate Disk spell found in LOST EMPIRES OF FAERUN

4) Spellstars, or their 3E equivalents, as decribed in THE SEVEN SISTERS

5) something else entirely"
Accordingly, Ed speaks:

The answer lies between your choices 3 and 5. Or to put things a little more clearly: the gems ARE spell-storing devices, that work differently from all of the first four options. They store multiple spells (cast into them), and the user can choose to convert all or some of these into healing energy (akin to silver fire), spellfire (ravening "burn magic and/or organic things readily, melt inorganic things less readily" energy), or to 'power up' stored spells (or spells cast normally by the gem-user while holding the gem or carrying it in direct contact with their skin) to do additional damage OR have a longer range OR have a greater duration OR have a larger area of effect. The gems are sentient (containing the life-essence of a creature serving Mystra 'beyond death' by adopting this existence by choice), and can speak aloud, see, hear, reason, speak mentally (at about a forty-foot range), and so advise the wearer (either to help them, or to further Mystra's "spread magic to all" aims).

A Chosen of Mystra can command such a gem perfectly (in other words, the life-essence in them will obey them with adoring alacrity), and can even (mentally or verbally, within that 40-foot range) instruct it to emit ("cast" or discharge) its spells without their direct contact. So a Chosen could, for instance, employ a gem in this way to suddenly gain a spell-hurling ally that foes might not expect (so as to hurl spells at foes "from both sides"). The gems are, of course, very rare, and I want to keep some of their other powers under my hat for now.

Well, I'll let slip just one more: the gems can watch events transpiring in their presence and "record" them, as three-dimensional holographs to be played back any number of times later, for other beings to observe.

So saith Ed.

Ah, yes. I know a bit more about these gems, but respect Ed's "keep it mysterious" wishes. Cool, eh?



October 15, 2005: Hi again, fellow scribes. Ed makes reply to Dargoth re. "What's going on in Darkhold these days and who's calling the shots?"

Sorry, Dargoth, there's an NDA firmly in place over this topic. You'll learn a little more eventually, and all I can say regarding the NDA is that it involves one of your fellow Candlekeep scribes. (!)

So saith Ed.

Sorry, Dargoth. This reply also applies to several other scribes who've asked about Darkhold earlier, this year and last.

And to Gareth: Ed e-mails me his replies, and I cut-and-paste. Just like my editing day job.

love to all,


October 16, 2005: Hello again, all. I bring you Ed's reponse to scribe Alva, about Triel:

Hi, Alva. You're welcome, and I hope the Realms continues to bring you years of fun.

As seen briefly in HAND OF FIRE (I say "briefly" because an entire chapter about Triel had to be tossed out to make the book fit in its pagecount, thanks to my overwriting), the Zhentarim had infiltrated the fortified way-town of Triel, as part of their "control all the trade routes" scheme.

Elvar the Grainlord did not survive the events of that novel, and had gone mad before the caravan Shandril was with ever got there, helped along by the mind-reading and -controlling spells of the resident Zhent wizards. Most of them didn't live to the end of HAND OF FIRE, either, leaving Triel a battleground between Zhent underlings, ambitious wannabe-lord merchants, Harpers, and the first few agents of the Red Wizards, sent to "spy out the Sword Coast North" before the establishment of Thayan trading enclaves. Even Alustriel got in on the fun, sending a few agents of her own to find out "what was up" in Triel, and make sure neither Zhents nor Red Wizards came to control it.

It's pretty clear that the anti-Zhent and anti-Thay forces succeeded in preventing control by either of those power groups, but just who did win? That's up to you. (It's also clear that agents of both the Zhents and the Red Wizards are still resident in Triel. I'd say the Thayans are represented only by spies, not by Red Wizards with spells up their sleeves and power-hunger in their eyes, but if the Zhents aren't close to the reins of power, they'll be hatching plots and intrigues to bring locally-prominent-merchant after merchant "under their thumbs." Local Harpers and nervous local merchants could well try to hire or just manipulate visiting PCs into coming into conflict with the Zhents.)

There have been good harvests in recent years, and more 'open' trading (allowing more caravans to camp outside the walls and easily access the town), and as a result, the population has grown to just over 2,000 people. There are now clergy of most major faiths of the Realms in town, tending small shrines in private homes and in certain shop cellars, but the citizenry have had their fill of religious fanaticism, and no faith has been allowed to build a temple or rise to dominance (the faiths of Chauntea, Waukeen, and Tymora are all strong).

Triel is a place dominated by smiths, millers, those who breed and doctor mules and horses and pack animals, traders (those who procure specific goods "in want" in the North, and ship them to where they'll sell for the highest coin), and crafters (who make things, in particular: tents, cloaks, everyday furniture, waychests, and small ironmongery such as buckles, pots, and pans), and outlying sheep ranchers. Guides and caravan "riders" (mounted guards and drovers) are always on hand for hire, and peddlers and small-wagon merchants (vendors who own one to three wagons full of mixed goods, that they sell the same way as peddlers do).

As you can see, there are always a good number of transients, and the place can be a ready "cauldron" for a nice rough-and-ready frontier campaign (a mini-Scornubel, if you will). Have fun with it!

So saith Ed, who may fall silent for a few days in the week ahead, I'm afraid, as he rushes to get some top-secret stuff finished.

love to all,


October 16, 2005: Hello again, fellow scribes. Ed makes reply to Asgetrion's questions: "I would like to ask you about what sort of trees grow in upcountry/rural Sembia, such as near the Cormyrean border? Would a skilled carpenter, specialized in making beautifully carved furniture (tables, chairs, signs, stairposts etc.), find enough "quality resources" in this area? Or would he import all his wood from the Dales, or Cormyr? Is it possible for rare trees to exist in rural Sembia, such as Weirwood? What would be "the Dream Material" (=tree) for such a carpenter to work on? Is there water/brooks/streams (either flowing to the sea or the Darkflow river) in this area for water-wheel mills? One more question about the walled compounds... are fields/farms also surrounded by the compound walls? Or are the fields surrounded by walls at all?"

Ed speaks:

Okay, last first: except for exercise paddocks for highly valued horses, Sembian farms VERY rarely have the sort of "walls" that enclose most of the hunting estates of the wealthy. Instead, Sembian farm fields tend to have low, rambling boundary walls made up of stones tilled out of the fields they enclose, mixed with tangled stumps dragged from the same source. Over the years, wild shrubs, saplings, vines, and flowering plants sewn by birds tend to grow along such walls, sometimes becoming high, overgrown hedges if not prevented from doing so by a zealous farmer (most farmers want the shade, shelter, and privacy such hedges create, and leave them be).

Now, as for your carpenter and wood queries:

Upcountry Sembia is home to all manner of "cold-winters, hot-summers" temperate trees, from duskwoods and shadowtops (trees found only in the Realms, detailed in several tomes of Realmslore down the years; VOLO'S GUIDE TO ALL THINGS MAGICAL. pgs 60-63, is one of the best sources) to pines and maples. Near the Sembian border with Cormyr "down south," trees tend to be few because of swamps and farm clearances; farther north along that border, the mountains (rock outcrops and thin soil even in the foothills) tend to inhibit all but the conifers. And woodcutting, both for firewood and for building timbers, goes on constantly, thinning out the "best specimens" (from a carpenter's point of view). However, thanks to elves and some forest predators making "deep forays" into the Cormanthor woods perilous for all but birds, new trees of all species (rare and otherwise) are always being seeded, although large, mature specimens of the rare sorts are almost all confined to the upcountry estates of wealthy Sembians who consider such trees their very own valued investments, and not for anyone else to wander along and cut.

The region we're talking about is both vast, and not all controlled by attentive, on-site owners (e.g. the Ghost Holds of western Battledale), so SOME wood of almost any temperate species can always be found. There are tiny creeks and larger streams wandering all over the entire forested area (it's very well-watered, which made possible the growth of the forest in the first place), so yes, waterwheels could be sited in many places in upcountry Sembia.

Deepingdale is home to several skilled woodcarvers and joiners, so a "skilled carpenter" who specializes in "making beautifully carved furniture" would definitely find enough raw material locally for everyday use. "Show wood" for veneers or trim might very well be imported from the Dales or even from or Cormyr, but not "all" wood: most farms and walled estates have their own woodlots. As for the identity of the 'dream material' for such a carpenter, that depends on just what his preferences and work demands are: if he makes magical items (the masterwork "raw materials" to be enspelled), shadowtop and chime oak might well top his list, with blueleaf and weirwood following. If he makes musical instruments or supplies wood to spellcasters, weirwood moves to the top. Duskwood is preferred for masts, structural beams, and in much furniture work (as are oak, chestnut, and other real-world 'carpenter-favourite' woods also found in the Realms). If your carpenter wants to make book covers or shields or anything else of great hardness and durability, he'll probably want to import suth from more southerly climes. If fire resistance is what he prizes most highly, it's duskwood again. And so on...

So saith Ed, expert hugger (of trees and other things - - me, for instance).

And yes, Wooly and Sage, the secrets next to my skin are very fluffy and quite comfortable.

Kuje, here's an "instant reply" from Ed about Chessenta:

"Nope, the name of Chessenta was NOT derived from chess, and that claimed derivation is wrong. Chess isn't even called "chess" in the Realms; we real-world writers just render it (sometimes) into that word when describing it.

love to all,


October 18, 2005: Hi again, all. Ed makes reply to Mournblade's query: "Is there any area of the realms specifically Faerun, that would suit the Geology of the American Southwest? (other than of course Maztica)... I am trying to find an area of the realms that represents the Geology of the American Southwest, Like Arizona, New Mexico and Nevada. I do not mean wild west lifestyle, I mean more of the rocky desert terrain, complete with Cactus, Cougars, and the FEEL of those western environments.

Most of the deserts in the realms seem to be Sandy dune deserts like those of the middle east and africa."

Ed replies:

If you've access to my original FR13 ANAUROCH sourcebook, that huge desert has three distinct regions; the southern one is hot sandy, the middle one is rocky (and fairly close to what you're looking for), and the most northerly one is frozen.

The uplands northeast of Ulgarth are EXACTLY (frigid nights, hot days, mesas and buttes and petrified forests and waterless rock-rubble gulches) the sort of terrain you're seeking, as are the lands northwest of Fuirgar (bounded by the Dragonsword Mountains, Raurin, and the salt flats around Azulduth).

There are also some small areas of the eastern Bandit Wastes (in the foothills to the north of the mountains that form the natural boundaries of Halruaa) of that sort of terrain, although most of that area is too well-watered to have the real desert "feel."

Voila: two sizable areas and two smaller ones. Have fun!

So saith Ed, creator of Furigar, Raurin, Halruaa, and the whole works.

love to all,


On October 18, 2005 THO said: Dargoth, I've talked to a must-be-remain nameless WotC source, to a Wizards publicist at GenCon, and to Ed about Power of Faerun, and I'd say your one-line capsule of it at the head of this poll is a trifle misleading.

It's going to be a lot closer to something like this:

How to "get ahead" at court, within a priesthood, as a merchant trader, as a leader of soldiers, in a frontier area... and so on. With sample court and palace, fortress, et al.

In some cases that COULD be building a power base, yes.



October 19, 2005: Hello, fellow scribes. I interrupt the regularly-scheduled Ed answer for tonight to deal with two urgent requests.

First, for Kuje, I bring you these words from Ed on the coinage used in Westgate:

Hi, Kuje! Westgate no longer regularly mints its own coins, but coinage of many lands is accepted there - - and valued as currency is in most places: by condition, metal (purity), size (amount of metal), and origin.

"Origin" refers to where a coin comes from, and the respect such a place commands (for consistent quality of coins and freedom from counterfeiting, or at least counterfeits of less metal value than originals, nothing more). Coins of Amn, Cormyr, Luskan, Mirabar, Sembia, Silverymoon, Tethyr, and Waterdeep are considered the best-made in Faerūn, and are most highly valued in trade everywhere in known Faerūn. Cormyr's coins are very pure metal and of heavy weight, and age well; Sembian coins are slightly inferior (see p91 of the FRCS, of course, for details of these two denominations).

In Westgate (as in the Dales, Moonsea, Vilhon, Dragonreach, Vast, and Dragon Coast), the coins of Cormyr and Sembia are common, everyday 'standard' coinage. Westgate also accepts the authokh and belbolt (see Page 40 of the 2004 Questions for Eddie thread), whereas all the other places I listed above do not.

So saith Ed.

Secondly, I make personal reply to thom's question: "When a typical adventuring group goes tavern crawling in a town anywhere besides Cormyr, do they just waltz in fully armed & armored? All Plate mailed up, halbards and greatswords piled on their backs, wizards with their wands in their wand golf bag? This assumes the group is not trying to hide out or be inconspicuous, they're just wanting to spend their hard-earned gold.

Or do they "dress down" when going to your typical wharf dive; say only leathers, & smaller weapons? I'm asking because my group is heading into the main town of the campaign & they're asking what to expect... so what did the Knights typically do when going tavern crawling?? I can't image a typical tavern having a "dress code" for patrons - but I thought I'd check with you."

Sorry, dear, I've been travelling on assignment this week, and just cut-and-pasting Ed's replies before I hit the sack every night, so I shelved this query until I could get home and get off the adrenalin high that always results from people shooting at me. However, I quite see the urgency of your request, so here's my reply:

It depends. (Ha ha.)

No, really, it does. On the place and situation, I mean. In all backland or frontier areas, "fully armed and armoured" is the norm. It impresses folk (particularly the local bullies, drunks, and gangs) that these visitors aren't to be messed with, for one thing. To avoid getting a crossbow bolt in the face (fired from a ready bow scooped up from behind the bar), it's traditional to avoid entering in a rush, or with a war-cry or shouted threat, or with a weapon drawn UNLESS it's a sword offered hilt-first, like a cross, to signify peaceful intent.

Daggers don't count unless you're trying to gain access to royalty or a holy sanctum, because most everybody wears one (a belt knife, at least), and no regard is given them.

Some cities and towns have a "surrender weapons" rule, at the door (with armed "cloakroom" guards to accept and safe-store such items), but this is again almost always a "peaceful intent" signal: everyone hands over their largest, most awkward weapon, and openly goes on carrying other weaponry. Wizards NEVER surrender their stuff (at a temple or court, yes, tavern or inn no), but that means rings, strange sparkling gewgaws, wands and staves: a glowing sword would be demanded to "set aside." Those who refuse are refused entrance, NOT attacked to force them to hand anything over (if they force their way in, they might get jumped by everyone, but more likely will be silently ignored - - and NOT served - - by everyone, whilst the kitchen lad runs like blazes out the back door to get the Watch or local equivalent.

However, when it's wartime, everyone will usually be armed and armoured - - unless recent brawls or invasions have caused a "no steel" law to be decreed, in which case ANY weapon will be cause for alarm.

There's also another factor, pointed at by your asking if adventurers would "dress down" into leathers and smaller weapons when doing into a "wharf dive." If wading into "tough guy" territory, prudent adventurers may well leave expensive, top-quality armour, weapons, and gear "at home" or at least conceal it in canvas covers, to look less well-heeled. Otherwise, they could get jumped and knocked cold or slain just so drinkers can strip them for their stuff. Most seasoned adventurers don't rub the noses of hard-working men or the desperate or drunken sailors (or any other sort of drunks) in their own success, but try to blend in. For one thing, if you stride in all shining, you'll hear no gossip; if you slink in with tousled hair and street-dirtied face and grim expression, dressed no better than anyone else and challenging no-one, you'll be more readily accepted and are less likely to have fights picked with you, or the local louts trying to pick up female party members or those of locally-unusual races, skin colours, or "looks."

In general, yes, go armed and armored, but act peaceful. If you go in a door and immediately collect a hard glare from the tavernmaster across the bar, and the room goes silent, spread your empty hands, slowly, and say, "peace be upon this house."

You can also add: "I thirst, my blade does not."

Do NOT try any PRINCESS BRIDE stuff (e.g. "There's a shortage of perfect breasts in this kingdom; it'd be a pity to damage yours.") unless your DM is Ed Greenwood; even joking threats aren't taken well.

That covers things, I hope?

love to all,


On October 19, 2005 THO said: Ed has already provided lore about Silverymoon's bardic college, I believe. I recall an long-ago GenCon seminar in which Ed and Gary Gygax were answering questions about college income (selling sheet music, repairing instruments for fees and selling new instruments, providing music for feasts, weddings, funerals, and revels, etc.), and Ed reminded everyone that Gary's original ranking of colleges (in the 1st Edition bard class writeup) MUST mean that different colleges do different things (Gary agreed). So we have built-in variance, from the outset.



October 20, 2005: Hello again, fellow scribes. Ed makes reply to Bendal's query:

"... there are some hills to the SW of the Evermoors that are not described in any of the published books for the area. It's a sizable area, bounded by the Evermoors and the Surbrin River to the east and west, and north of Yartar. Is there anything of interest in these hills, and what may be their names? I've assumed that they are sparsely forested, with less and less trees as you approach the moors to the north, but is there anything else? Flora, fauna, organized humanoid bands, etc?"

Ed replies:

Bendal, only on the most recent maps of the Realms has the artwork simplified representation of the topography enough to suggest hills separate from the Evermoors. The area you refer to is most accurately depicted on pages 62 and 63 of the original print (Fonstad) FR Atlas, and most clearly mapped in the close-up "mini-maps" on pages 39, 64 (in particular), 75 and 84 of VOLO'S GUIDE TO THE NORTH. Please note the presence of the features of Flint Rock (the Uthgardt ancestral mound), Horn Stream, and the settlement of Mornbryn's Shield (described beginning on page 63 of that particular TSR collection of Volo's writings), as well as the fact that the Surbrin IS the western border of the Evermoors. So there aren't any distinct, separate hills to be named.

You're correct in assuming that the hills on this western edge of the Surbrin are windswept, with sparse soil or bare rock tops and flanks, with only scrub conifers on the heights and with the real trees crowding in steep-sided, long ravines sheltered from the worst of the winds by the higher rock all around.

Like the Stonelands north of Cormyr, it's "breakleg, breakneck" country, roadless and with very little flat terrain. Travel is an exhausting sequence of climbing loose moss-and-scree slopes, crossing or walking along knife-edge bare rock ridges, and then plunging down steep, rock-strewn ravine sides to the bottom, to pick a route along amid the water and the boulders, or to climb its steep far side (and repeat the sequence). Great terrain for leucrotta, ettins, trolls, bears, mink and marten, foxes and hares, outlaws, small raiding bands of orcs, goblins, bugbears, and gnolls, and (rarely) galeb duhr.

As one travels north or east or northeast, deeper into the Evermoors, the "plateau" or ridgetop areas grow larger, forming the moor (still riddled with the winding trenches of ravines, looking somewhat like the "seams" between the lobes of a human brain), but aside from some of the ravines being larger, too, the terrain stays more or less the same for miles, until we get into the heart of the moors and something a lot more like the Scottish highlands. As one travels inward, the trolls grow more numerous, crowding out most of the other species I've just listed.

Now, the hills WEST of the Surbrin, that the Horn Stream flows out of, are known (imaginatively enough) as the Horn Hills. They are much less rugged than the Evermoors, consisting of a thick layer of soil over the same sort of rock ridges, and so are cloaked in scrub "wilderland" woods (lots of dead pine trees and smaller, wind-bowed living trees). Many deer (in at least three herds, led by fearsome stags) roam these hills, and there are some old cave-tombs of unknown origin (often used as lairs by bears and outlaws). Tiny streams (and thus, abundant drinking-water) can be found everywhere, some of the ravines are filled with small bog, marshes, or tarns (lakes), and all of the above-listed fauna of the Surbrin, plus the folk of Yartar and Mornbryn's Shield, venture into the Horn Hills often (for all but the smallest critters I listed, they go there to hunt deer).

So saith Ed.

Bendal, I know the sources Ed references look a bit different from the large-scale 3rd Edition map of the Realms; do you have access to these older sources?



October 21, 2005: Hello again, all. Ed replies to Kajehase's question: "How widespread is the use of skis, skates, snowshoes, sleighs, and similar implements and vehicles in the Realms?"

Ed speaks:

Very. The cover of FR5 THE SAVAGE FRONTIER shows (left rear, if I recall correctly) a typical goods-sledge, and much use is made of such conveyances in the North. In country not heavily imperiled by raiding orcs or other such dangers, "winter lulls" (times free of storms, where it's bitter cold but the sun blazes down on the snow) are the best times for moving goods, because a sledge can traverse frozen rivers, lakes, and streams as readily as snow, without all that swearing and struggling in mud and stinging insects, to load and unload or portage or lighten loads or to get a conveyance "unstuck."

Actually, to be more specific, the use of "bearpaw" snowshoes and sleighs is widespread, as is tumpline- or waist-harness-dragged toboggan-style personal gear "darras" pulled by someone walking on snowshoes, but true skis or skates are less well-known (dwarves have toe-blade boots made for climbing icefalls that can be used as skates if one bends one's ankles so as to run along on the shaped sides of the blades, and know all about using pointed javelins (double-ended spears) for traction on ice and for balance.

The Rashemi use snowshoes, sleighs, toboggans, and slit-eye carved wooden "ice goggles," too, but rarely use skates. Many remote wilderland Rashemi use a single-ski and poles when the snow is deep enough, and tow goods along behind them on an upturned shield at the end of a long rope (in a "snow saucer").

So saith Ed.

Who was once a daredevil snow-saucer tumbler (down cliff, head over snowy heels, bouncing several times with force enough to split the metal saucer)... but that was long, long ago, when the world was young and still cooling, and everything was black and white, and - -

Heh, heh. Ed hath responded to those last few words of mine with some VERY rude words.

Wooly, you're VERY welcome. Ed loves discovering fantasy classics (hey, who doesn't?) and wanted everyone to know about this one.

Verghityax, I can't tell you. I have, however, passed your query on to Ed, to see what he'll say.

Dargoth, we never visited Phlan, because we ran into hostile Zhents before we ever got that far around the Moonsea. I've passed your request along to Ed, but please be aware that he has a long "set" list of approved-by-WotC cities that he's working from.

love to all,


On October 21, 2005 THO said: A rather large bearded bird hath told me the war in Amn WILL be updated in an upcoming Realms product.

Ask me no more on this.



October 22, 2005: To Finglas Leaflock, Ed of the Greenwood makes long-awaited reply about the moon elven clan Ammath:

House Ammath was a family numerous in Myth Drannor, but never socially powerful or highly regarded by the sun elves of that city. In fact, some senior, haughtier "goldskins" sneered at the Ammath elves for being "little better than the humans they so freely couple and drudge in the dirt with."

Those same Ammath elves merely laughed at such insults, because they DID enjoy the company of humans, and dwarves, and their new ways of doing things and restless energy to DO things NOW, and stride ahead hurriedly into a brighter life. So House Ammath elves dabbled in dozens of trades and different relationships, with varying degrees of success. Some became nigh-coinless vagabonds, others bareskinned "wild" deep woods dwellers who hunted alone and shunned all society, still others became bright-vested traders as often seen in the Dragonreach ports as the human merchants they dealt with, and yet others strove to become as haughty and highspire-towered as the sun elves who mocked them.

Most House Ammath elves were practical and worldly, and became more so as Myth Drannor flourished. So many of them were guides and spies and skirmishers in the battles leading up to the Fall, and ended up scattered far and wide as they watched the foes of Myth Drannor and took messages to far-flung elves and shifted precious younglings and family treasures and pregnant mothers of many Houses far across the face of Faerūn, to keep them safe from the dark storm to come.

Come it did, and House Ammath elves fell in scores and dozens in the fighting, for the most part valiant, swift and fearless to the last - - yet avoiding the vainglorious follies of haughtier elves, perishing instead on practical missions.

Yet their very farflung scattering meant that many Ammath elves survived the Fall. Some were so shattered by the loss of the City of Song that they changed their names and shunned the company of other elves, settling in Waterdeep and a dozen other human cities, and seeking to forget their heritage in new lives as procurers, vintners, decorators, composers, and (sometimes-shady) investors. Others sought to reach Evermeet, or went to Evereska and there schemed with like-minded Fair Folk to refound elven realms by the sword. Some became adventurers, and a few hid in safeholds for centuries, emerging to roam the Cormanthan woods as brooding, deadly slayers.

Most (but not all) House Ammath elves today use the colors of silver on blue, and the device of a silver six-stringed hand harp encircled by an oval of silver flames, all blazing upwards.

Among the best-known wandering family members are Raerivel Ammath (CG male moon elf Bard12/Shadowdancer5), a merry prankster and seducer of rich human women in Sembia and Amn; the drawling, deadly duelist Sualammitor Ammath (CN male moon elf Rog11/Duelist6), whose manner isn't much different than that of the notorious Elaith (though he's a loner, not a crime lord like Elaith is); and the fat, thoroughly "humanized" merchant trader Elaunduth 'Ears' Ammath (CN male moon elf Ftr3/Rog5/Exp4: painter and forger), whose wagons trundle around Sembia selling superior goods (such as masterwork weapons, everyday items with hidden storage compartments, erotic paintings and sculptures, lockpicks that don't look like lockpicks, decanters with concealed "second compartments" for the storage of a different drink than the main body of the item) discreetly to those willing to pay fair coin for them, and who lives and works with six beautiful human women who act the roles of giggling emptyheads in public but are accomplished spies and negotiators.

House Ammath remains so scattered and its members so varied in lifestyles and philosophies that the family can't really be said to have a "head," but it does have members who behave more or less as matriarchs and patriarchs do.

Nurlavelle Ammath (NG female moon elf Sor4/Exp5: weaver and dyer) is a crusty, disapproving-of-much-of-Faerūn-today crone, ancient even among elves. She dwells in Evereska, where she's grimly rebuilding - - and lamenting the passing of times "when folk knew their places and roles, and behaved themselves."

Aumaethe Ammath (CG female moon elf Sor6/Rog5/Shadowdancer3) is a long-retired adventuress who now plays kindly den mother to many of her kin, keeping 'open bower' (we real-world humans would say "open house," or "my door's always open") to any Ammath elf (and companions) in her forest glade (a clearing in the middle of what some elves would call "a large woodlot") home southwest of Highmoon. About a dozen Ammath elves dwell permanently in Aumaethe's house, doting on her (and her cooking), and guarding her from unfriendly visitors with their swiftly hurled daggers and faster, deadlier arrows.

Rosezelle Ammath (CN female moon elf Sor7) is a fiery, venom-tongued landlord and patron of artists in Saerloon, who keeps to her high-gated mansion and hosts small, exclusive feasts when painters or sculptors she's sponsored (humans, elves, half-elves, and halflings) want to exhibit new works to the buying public. Rosezelle is almost as beautiful as she thinks she is, and that's beautiful indeed, her high-piled hair exquisitely styled and her gowns and "skinstars" glow enchantments perfectly suited to showing off her ivory-skinned curves.

Raurdren Ammath (CG male moon elf Ftr7/Rog6) is a one-eyed, eyepatch-wearing, roaring roisterer of an old rip who looks and sounds like he saw a ham actor badly overplaying the part of an old pirate, fell in love with the result, and has modeled himself enthusiastically after it ever since. His tanned skin is striped with an impressive bone-white scar that runs fron temple to jaw, bisecting his missing eye, and he affects long, sweeping white moustaches as impressive as any human or dwarf can manage. Raurdren likes to drink (out of truly oversized metal goblets), sing, dance, belch, pass wind, make lewd comments, and hire young elf and half-elf lasses to decorate his lap and listen to him. He dwells in Ordulin, and crashes every revel he can there (almost always to the delight of the hosts, who regard him as the most colourful local ornament; his boar-like behaviour is even welcomed at most weddings). He owns modest upper-floor apartments in Ordulin, Selgaunt, Saerloon, and Daerlun, and wanders from one such base to another, as the spirit takes him. In his former careers as a grim, deadly, close-lipped mercenary and a daring adventurer, he obviously made a LOT of coin, because he sees to have no shortage of it now, and also to own city properties everywhere in Sembia, and to have sponsored scores of small shopkeepers. Many young adventurers come to him for advice, which he dispenses freely, and he's been known to stage a flamboyant rescue or two when such "young blades" run into trouble.

And there you have it. Hope having such kin doesn't distress your character TOO much.

So saith Ed.

Who's left me wanting to see Raurdren and Mirt in the same room. With lasses and the usual small forest of decanters, of course.

love to all,


On October 22, 2005 THO said: Sage, I know one of the answers Ed is about to send me is about the laws of Secomber, for Verghityax. It was delayed because Ed had to do the laws of Crimmor for his recent DRAGON article. Comparing those two with the laws of Waterdeep (that Ed expanded for the 2nd Edition City of Splendors boxed set) should give a DM something to work with. For now. And that's all I can say. For now (hint hint).

Thysl, Ed invented the abbreviated 2nd Ed stats line when he started passing chunks of draft text to Jeff Grubb for the FR Adventures hardcover. Without those abbreviations, he explained, we would have lost about three cities, just form the extra space writing everything out in full would have taken. Ed is, after all, a game designer who's co-written at least four 3e sourceworks that I can think of, plus DRAGON articles, so he's quite used to writing 3e "simple rules." He HATES spending half a day or more doing a "full" stat block for a non-human character with, say, three classes plus modifications due to psionics or magic, because he's always afraid he'll miss something, and get one modifier wrong by a point. (But then, that just means the editors are needed for the first time.)

Zanan, I can confirm that Susprina and Calimar are related, but I'll leave a proper reply to Ed. Who is busier than I've ever seen him right now.



October 23, 2005: Hello, all. Ed makes reply to Verghityax in the matter of written legal codes for Baldur's Gate and Secomber:

Yes, both have written legal codes. No, I can't tell you a single thing about the one used in Baldur's Gate (as I've said several times, NDAs apply here), but I'm quite free to talk about Secomber, so here we go:

The laws of Secomber are modeled on Waterdeep's Code Legal (which can be found on pages 77 through 81 of the Campaign Guide booklet in the 2nd Edition City of Splendors boxed set), with the following modifications:

There are no "crimes against Lords" in Secomber.

All references to the "City" should of course change to Secomber. All references to "Magisters" change to "Rods of Justice" ("Rods" for short).

The 'A through J' sentences survive, with the following modifications: "light work in Castle compound" should be changed to "manual work at the direction of the presiding Rod of Justice" (this usually means repairing walls or bridges, filling in potholes and washouts on roads, mending roofs or chimneys of private citizens, shovelling or ploughing snow in winter, or - - the old fallback - - cutting, splitting, and stacking firewood) and the addition of another sentence: K: public flogging and then shackling (miscreant is stripped, chained in public, flogged, and then left chained until the next sunrise; citizens can ridicule miscreant, but face justice if they strike or cast hostile magic him or her in any way, and citizens are free to feed, tend, comfort, give medical aid, and try to warm miscreant with fires, cloaks, et cetera, but may not unchain him or her or entirely clothe him or her)

Rather than black-robed Magisters, Secomber has Rods of Justice as its judges. These are respected elders, nominated and voted into office for four-summer terms by the populace, and their numbers vary from six to nine (as illness and crime-load necessitate). A Rod can be dismissed by a majority vote of the other Rods, can resign freely, and can recuse themselves from specific cases if they have a personal interest in the outcome (though they can't be COMPELLED to recuse themselves, even when a conflict of interest or bias is obvious). All cases are heard by juries of nine land-owners of Secomber, chosen randomly by a blindfolded local child (randomly chosen by any priest who's handy, or failing that by the Rod) choosing name-bearing chits out of a cauldron (chits are discarded if they bear the name of someone who's served on a jury within the previous year, and other chits drawn as replacements). All trials are public, and often serve as 'turn out the idle folk in town' entertainments. Accused parties are allowed to speak freely, though Rods can and do order them gagged if they spit obscenities or offer tirades or threats. Spellcasting in court (without express permission of the presiding Rod) is a severe crime; if done by an accused, they'll be struck unconscious, bound and gagged, and justice will proceed with them left thus confined (with sentencing for their spellcasting added to whatever sentence they may be given for their crime). Attacking a Rod at any time is treated as both Aiding An Attack Upon Secomber AND Assault upon a Citizen, and the sentences for both will apply.

Trials are immediate (usually held within half a day), though Rods can order a stay of proceedings if there's a wait to gain witnesses or evidence. Like Waterdeep's Code Legal, these laws aren't absolute rules, but guidelines; Rods and juries are completely free to determine guilt or innocence, or set any sentence they want if guilt is determined. Inability to pay fines or damages is mitigated by seizure of property and then E until work value satisfies court debt.

Here, then, is Secomber's Code of Justice (which is VERY typical of local legal codes throughout the Heartlands, by the way):

GODSFROWNS (Crimes Against The Gods)

Aiding An Attack Upon Secomber (knowingly providing information or assistance to outlander parties desiring to damage or steal property from Secomber, foul any well or pond in Secomber, or attack or kidnap or mutilate or maim any citizen of Secomber): I and E, then H and C

Attacking Secomber (invading Secomber with intent to do murder, pillage, or set fires, and the act of deliberately poisoning or fouling any food, water or drinkable in Secomber, casting spells to cause building collapses or effects reasonably expected to cause multiple deaths, damage to city gates): A if observed in the act by a Rod or Watch member, otherwise B

Arson: B or E, then D (branding), then C

Defiling Holy Places or Temple Theft: I and E and J, often followed by C

Public Blasphemy: F (half a day, or overnight if trial held in the evening)

Rape: I then K, D, and F

Spellcasting In Court (except with express prior permission of a Rod): K and then F (a tenday) and H

Theft: H and I, then K

Tomb-Robbing: D, H, and I

Violation of any Edict: G and H (plus new trial if violation involves new offenses against Code)

DEATHSEEKINGS (Crimes That Seek Or Make Likely Death)

Assault upon a Citizen (citizens must own land, pay rent, or have resided in Secomber or within view of its walls for at least a season) Resulting In Injury: I and E or K

Assault upon an Outlander Resulting In Injury: I and/or G or H

Harmful Public Spellcasting (includes unleashing of magic items, damage to persons or property, or through fear or removal of support [chain holding sign up, bridge under mule's hooves, etc.] causes immediate accident [e.g. spooked horse runs down street, spilling wagon or damaging wares on it, and perhaps runs into or tramples something or someone] or suicide [of a person who for example believes themselves afflicted with something they can't undo, or a painful and inescapable condition, as a result of the magic; if all the magic does is reveal or cause them to reveal their own wrongdoing, a charge is usually brought but no conviction occurs]): H and I, plus G (tenday maximum) and then C (one full year)

Murder: B or K and C (if judged unintentional) or D (branding) if judged "justified" (defense of self, spouse, children) [note that killings done in attempts to prevent any crime in the code receive lesser sentences, typically H, or none at all - - and adventurers or mercenaries hired to defend Secomber or keep the peace cannot receive sentences higher than H; acquittals usual in cases of murder done to a someone who has just themselves publicly done murder, and then attacks person charged with a weapon]


Bribery (includes Attempted Bribery): G, H, and J

Dealing In Stolen Goods: H and I (Rod's estimation of value of stolen goods, in both cases)

Forgery of Currency or any Legal Document or Posted Notice: E or F and I

Fraud: D (branding), H, and I

Hampering Justice (refusing to testify, hiding from Watch, preventing Watch from entry or hampering their chasing someone or seizure of something): H and E

Impersonating a Rod of Justice, member of the Watch, or any Ordained Priest: C and H

Intimidation (includes what we would call blackmail): H and I, then K

Obstruction (parking a wagon or conveyance against any doorway or across any alley or route, so that it can't easily be traversed): H and J, plus F (one full day and night) if city gate was blocked

Resisting Arrest: F (usually 1 day), then K or H (depending on physical condition of accused)

Vandalism: H and I, then K (usually only I if damage is to garden or is merely cosmetic)

So saith Ed.

As for Scornubel and Iriaebor, he added: "I'll get to them. When I can. Swords of Eveningstar is the priority right now."

love to all,


October 24, 2005: Well met again, all. Ed of the Greenwood replies to Jindael's question about specific churches of Faerūn and their use (or not) of crypts for the dead (Kuje, this touches on some of your long-awaited rituals "wants," too), and here's Ed's reply:

Hi. Lack of time and not wanting to tread on the toes of Realms fiction writers describing burials (as Elaine and I did in CITY OF SPLENDORS recently) keep me from delving into detailed burial or death-commemoration rituals, but let's run down your list:

Chauntea: no crypts. Bodies aren't cremated, but rather ploughed into fallow fields, to enrich the soil (some temples so treat bodies of the faithful only; and for priests, sites are marked and skulls retrieved later, for veneration; other temples don't do this), such fields being left fallow for at least the same growing season as the burial takes place in, and preferably three seasons; in cities, the dead taken out to countryside; where fields can't be spared, burials are done in orchards, woodlots, or forest.

Helm: Embalming, buried in full, sealed (with pitch and other substances) stone casket, buried with weapons and holy symbols to prevent becoming undead spontaneously, but to preserve them for use as "guardians" if a priest of Helm needs to animate them "for a holy purpose" (this almost never occurs, as the animation is frowned upon, but would be done to create temple defenders if a mad ruler or breakdown of all law and order or arrival of an orc horde endangered the consecrated ground).

Kelemvor: no crypts, but in-ground burial, in simple muslin or "found cloth" (used clothing, such as deceased's own cloak, tunic, and breeches, sewn together) shroud (with holy symbols to prevent spontaneous rising as undead) of faithful and of all "common dead" not brought to other clergy, or refused by other clergy. If disease, mummy rot, or other dnger to the living exists, bodies are sewn into a shroud (temples keep some "large bag" shrouds ready for this purpose) and burned in a pyre without delay. Intent is to "keep the dead dead" and return their bodies to the earth for "the Endless Cycle".

Lathander: no crypts. In solemn temple ritual, with loved ones present if they want to be, bodies are transformed into other organic substances at random (Will of Lathander ritual akin to the "wild" effects of a wand of wonder), for use (as compost or material components or raw building materials or whatever) in "new beginnings".

Lliira: no crypts. Dance of Death spell cast in a consecrated (bare-earth and private place shielded from public view, deep in temple grounds [often ringed by gardens] or in the cellar of an in-city temple) bower, that animates corpse to dance endlessly until it collapses, the various pieces continuing to try to move until all joints fail and what's left is allowed to rot on site; many corpses may be dancing in the same bower at the same time; rotted remains cremated and the ashes cast into the air by dancing clergy of the goddess, while participating in certain festivals (most of the major ones, throughout the year).

Selune: no crypts or embalming. Naked skyburial (on high platform, to be picked clean and scattered by scavengers and storms) if far from sea, otherwise laid naked on a raft and set out to sea (released when well out from shore; land should be "just visible" on the horizon) in moonlit conditions, to "voyage at the Lady's bidding".

Sharess: no crypts or embalming. Priests embrace the dead in a 'last intimacy' (that need not be more intimate than a kiss while the living cleric's arms are wrapped around the corpse), and the corpses are then animated in a Firedance spell, to cavort in air above a pyre, which is then lit to consume them (so they dance as they crumble into ash, "dancing on air" no matter how much they've crumbled, rather than collapsing as a Dance of Death spell allows).

Tempus: Embalming, with blood and fluids being drawn off for use (with transforming spells) into oil for armor worn by others into battle; prepared corpses are borne into shared crypts on a "bed of swords" (swordblades held flat, between priests on either side of corpse, to form a horizontal latticework), and laid to rest on stone shelves, holding weapons (their own, whenever possible) if the body is intact enough to allow such holding, and with a stone graven with their name, death date, and abbreviated deeds ("Murtar, died 1273 DR. Warrior of skill, fought at Eskryn, 1211; Horn's Call, 1214; Mornar's Bridge, 1216; much armed service guarding Secomber; fell fighting orcs valiantly"); fragmentary bodies are placed with tablet and any salvaged weapons or relics (piece of helm or armor); crypts typically hold hundreds, and are guarded by armed priests day and night to "honour the Valiant Fallen".

Tymora: crypts for some, embalming for some, resurrection for some, cremation for some, dicing and rotting for some: "Last Gamble" ritual involves dice (cast by loved ones if they want to be part of this, otherwise by the Lady's clergy) that determine fate of the deceased; in above list, "crypts" means full magical preservation spells and sealing in luxurious but small crypt (like a canopied bed made of stone); embalming means body is preserved by physical means rather than magic, and placed reverently in a shared crypt; resurrection means clergy (for free) use all the magic they can muster to restore the corpse to whole and hale life, under no obligation whatsoever to the church of Tymora; cremation means burning on a shared pyre; and "dicing and rotting" means bodies are chopped up and scattered in a charnel (compost) heap to rot down, and eventually be spread on farm fields.

And there you have it. Individual temples vary, especially in the amount of time they keep bodies in "cold crypt" storage (deep in stone-lined or solid stone chambers, to slow decay and prevent rats or other scavengers getting at bodies) for possible resurrections (if requested by family, adventuring colleagues, or civil authorities investigating crimes.

So saith Ed.

There you have it indeed. I knew about three of these from our Realmsplay, but the others are very interesting.

love to all,


October 25, 2005: Hi again, scribes. Ed replies to KnightErrantJR's question: "In Elminster's Daughter you mentioned Noumea Cardellith's husband as needing to get an annulment to get remarried in his new faith, and in one of your recent answers you mention celibate priests. I was wondering what churches might have these particular rules in place, and if those strictures are faith wide, or only in place for the church in certain regions. For example, I have always thought that some monasteries of Ilmater might have oaths of celibacy, but not necessarily every cleric or monk of Ilmater would be celibate."

Ed speaks about celibacy this time (and annulments tomorrow):

KnightErrantJR, you're quite correct in thinking that celibacy and annulments are only required by certain high priests (or sects), and in no case that I'm aware of, are strict, Realms-wide requirements of any human faith.

The reverse, BTW, IS true: clergy of Sharess and Sune must have some sort of sexual contact with other clergy AND with lay worshippers (which double requirement almost certainly means that the sex will be with beings they aren't married to, in at least one of those two cases).

Celibacy is practised (on the orders of high clergy) for two reasons: to increase dedication to the deity and do away with worldly obligations and distractions (Helm, Oghma, and Torm), and as a means of punishment through deprivation (Ilmater, Loviatar). Most faiths require celibacy only of clergy, though they may "decree" (as punishment or for initiation) periods of celibacy (a tenday, a month, a season, or even a full year) for specific lay worshippers. Clerical celibacy is also usually limited to specific time periods (as punishment, or while preparing oneself - - often with fasting - - or a task or visions from the god, or as part of a specific ritual) or place (while assigned to a hermitage or on a quest or journey, or while at a particular monastery). Individual priests may privately and personally dedicate themselves to the deity through celibacy (and hair shirts, and self-scourging, and other sacrifices), and this is usually respected by superiors when discovered, so long as it doesn't impair their holy duties. Certain faiths (Loviatar, Malar) even invite self-wounding or mutilation by beasts that one offers onself to, and heal the priests who willingly undergo it (sometimes so they can undergo it again, soon) as part of worship.

What you WON'T find in the Realms (among sane clergy) is an attitude that speaks of the persons the priest is avoiding sexual contact with as "unclean" or "evil" or "unworthy." A Faerūnian male priest never refrains from sex with women because "women are unclean," or sex with other males because that's "unnatural." He refrains from sex because "the god wants it," or "to make himself more worthy to receive the blessing of the god," NOT because of the status of anyone else.

So saith Ed, who'll return to discuss annulments next time.

love to all,


On October 25, 2005 THO said: Lemernis, I think it's important to differentiate between real-world cultures that later writers drew on to detail various parts of the Realms, and whatever "inspired" Ed Greenwood to create and name those areas in the first place.

I KNOW (as one of Ed's longtime players) that Ed was NOT inspired by any real-world cultures. Cities and farming regions he'd visited, yes, and the "flavours" of them he wanted to evoke, but real-world countries or peoples or cultures no. Those overt references came from TSR's "historical" period, and were stitched on top of Ed's realms.

Looking at what you've listed from the 3rd Ed Net Compendium, I say many of the suggestions about the Heartlands miss the mark entirely. Moving outside the Heartlands to the "grafted on" areas (from the Moonshaes to Chult, which borrowed Ed's original names and chameleoned under them) to Zakhara and Kara-Tur (wholesale additions), I do agree that real-world influences and parallels can plainly be seen. But not about the Heartlands * I * adventured in, for (ye gods!) some 25 years.



October 26, 2005: Hi again. Ed returns, as promised, to answer KnightErrantJR about annulments:

As for divorce, witnessed and recorded marriage, and annulments, I've posted here before, long ago, that in the Realms divorces and annulments are primarily important to nobles and land-heirs, to avoid messy battles over inheritances of property. So in Waterdeep, Amn, and Sembia, things are very "legal" and kept track of no matter what the faith of the persons involved. The faith of Waukeen fervently insists on such clear record-keeping, and in charging handsome temple fees for witnessing and recording everything. Note that they do NOT place any moral disapproval whatsoever on divorce or annulment, just a heavy financial price.

This is the general attitude towards such matters, across most faiths, although priesthoods tend to attract gossips and moral judgers, and specific high priests have from time to time (and continue to do so) spoken disapprovingly and put in place discouraging rules around such matters, to keep divorces and annulments to a minimum. Please remember that aside from clerics themselves, the Realms is largely free of monotheism; most individuals "believe in" all the gods and worship an array of "daily useful" gods, so churches don't have much power to put behind forbidding a particular divorce or refusing a particular annulment (the parties involved can just go to another church, or to the Heralds if they want to avoid priests altogether; the actual legal force of a divorce or an annulment is a state rather than a religious one, vested in local bureaucrats or courtiers rather than in any priest - - except, of course, in the few communities where the church IS the state, such as monasteries situated outside any realm).

In general, persons seeking no-contest divorces or annulments can go to any faith or appropriate civic official, and the latter are usually cheaper and spread the news more widely.

The churches of Waukeen, Oghma, and Tyr are swift and efficient about such matters, and those of Torm (because it's abandoning the stance of "being true" to one's promises and pacts) and Bane (because it's a chance to treat worshippers with some tyranny) are the most reluctant - - and will usually impose "holy tasks" in order to win their approval. The church of Sar welcomes divorce and annulment as "marks of loss," and grants them freely and speedily.

Those of Sune and Sharess treat divorce and annulments as part of romantic nature to be dwelt with quietly and quickly so as to get back to the fun, and many faiths (Lliira, Loviatar, Milil) treat it as an excuse to make participants undergo some sort of penance that's really just another offering of worship to the god (dance to collapse in a revel for Lliira, be chased and whipped by a priest while bare-backed for Loviatar, and compose a lament for the lost love or the parting itself for Milil).

So saith Ed.

Great stuff, although I can quite understand his sighed comment to me: "Gods. They always want to know about the gods. Writing about the gods and faiths is an endless pit into which every last remaining second of my life could be tossed - - and still not answer half the questions, or settle many of the disputes, either."

Hmmm. Sorta like life. Or the endless debates about the relative merits of Realms novels or their writers...

love to all,


On October 27, 2005 THO said: Hi again, fellow scribes.

Skeptic, Ed has run into some NDA trouble re. your Lhestyn question, but may be able to answer it in the fullness of time (so, stay tuned). As for your query: "Some months ago, I asked for updated info about the Moonsea and Ed responded that "I could only hope about".. with the Mysteries of Moonsea confirmed by R. Baker... I ask myself if Ed knew at that time or not ?"

Okay, so what does yourself answer? Inquiring minds would like to know... ;}

Seriously, Ed knew the Moonsea was one of the regions being considered for 3e coverage, but NOT that it was a scheduled product back then... because it may not have been a scheduled product back then. NDAs mean that Ed can't reply directly to this, and won't, until said product is published or he gets explicit permission to say more (not something he'll ask for, or that's likely to be granted). Skeptic, we don't mean to tease or taunt by mentioning NDAs.

At any point in time, there are always secrets that both staffers and freelancers can't legally reveal or discuss. I know that Ed's sitting on some right now, just as you do, by the number of times he invokes the "NDA" acronym. I don't know what they are, because Ed won't tell me - - and I won't ask. Leaking some secrets ruins careers or individual products, others cause financial or legal trouble, and some ruin the fun for all of us. Sigh.

Oh, yes, and another sigh: as I warned earlier, Ed will be offline and incommunicado for the next three days or more. He'll return as soon as he can.



November 24, 2005: Hello again, fellow scribes. My apologies for the silence. Which may continue for some time after this message, I'm afraid (I gave the medical staff here the slip, picked a lock - - let me tell you about hospital locks, some day - - and got into an office I wasn't supposed to reach; after I waded through all the Internet porn jpegs that I can only conclude the surgeon was doing some extensive research on, I found his browser, managed to hail my own computer, and dug out one more reply from Ed, which follows.

I'll be back with you as soon as I can. One of the bullets is a little deep, and it's still in there for now, while they argue about when to do more surgery...

Back in August, webmanus asked, on behalf of "many fellows," about the precise day and month King Azoun IV of Cormyr died. Ed replies:

Hi. As stated in "The Long Road Home," the last story in my (ahem) Best of Eddie collection (oh, ALL right: THE BEST OF THE REALMS Book 2: The Stories of Ed Greenwood, Wizards of the Coast, July 2005, ISBN-10 is 0-7869-3760-2, ISBN-13 is 978-0-7869-3760-8, and there's also this product number: 620-96711000-001-EN), Azoun's funeral, glimpsed briefly at the end of DEATH OF THE DRAGON, befell on Kythorn 11, 1371 DR. Azoun fell in the battle of Dragonfall a tenday earlier, dying on Mirtul 11th, 1371.

So saith Ed.

So there's THAT little bit of Realmslore cleared up.

In support of that death-date, despite some obliquely-conflicting Realmslore written by others, note that Alusair is wearing brand-new armor at the funeral, and even the best of armorers, working at a mad scramble, can hardly craft a full suit of armor, even if it's "show armor," in much less than ten days. Note also that a grieving widow in "The Long Road Home," speaking on Flamerule 2, 1371 DR, spoke of her husband's death (a man who died fighting at Azoun's side, just before Azoun himself was dealt his mortal wound) as "two months gone." The bodies of the dead royals were magically preserved for a one-month mourning period... and adding all of this Realmslore up gives us Mirtul 11th. Ed and Troy did work out a timeline for DotD, albeit after writing and trimming the text, so Ed's not plucking a date from thin air here.

love to all,


November 24, 2005: Florin is a central character in SWORDS OF EVENINGSTAR, Ed tells me. He also added that "you'll be surprised" at what we see of Florin, before the end of the trilogy.

I'm sure that'll help answer your question fully.




November 24, 2005: Ed tells me there will be something on Heralds (and heralds) in Rule the Realms, now apparently renamed Power of Faerun.

Must get off this computer before I'm caught...



On November 28, 2005 THO said: The attack on Waterdeep that penetrated as far as the city streets, by way of the sewers, occurred in 1370 DR (the WotC Book Department checked all dates in the novel).

It was not the first attack from the sea in what has become known as "the Threat from the Sea," nor the last. It was, however, the only one in which the attackers conquered the harbor and were able to assault the docks at will.

The Threat from the Sea was not a tidy, occurred-on-this-day event, but more than a season of raids on shores, estuaries, and islands.



December 18, 2005 Hello again at long last, fellow scribes. I'm back, hopefully to stay (there may of course be the odd day around Christmas when I can't get to a computer, but otherwise...). Thank you for all of the good wishes; I'm almost back to normal (for now: I suspect arthritis will creep up on me through my wounds, in later years) now.

Whew; such a heap of Realmslore queries have piled up at the castle gates whilst I was away from my post. The last one (let's call it The Great WotC Abandonment of the Realms) seems to be upsetting to some scribes, so I handed it to Ed first. The creator of the Realms was "doing the Dance of Doneness" (as TSR designers used to call it) regarding the first Knights book... which of course means he's got another six major writing projects (by my count) to tackle by the end of the year.

However, he's also eager to get back to answering Realmslore queries, so here we go:

Hi! Well met. Here I am, happy and eager to resume Realmslore replies, and THO hands me THIS. Sheesh. :}

It may well be a troll, but I'm going to treat it as a post made seriously by someone who cares about the Realms as a fan - - if only to produce a reply that will be of benefit to people who are Realms fans.

Here we go:

I have the impression that legal encumbrances to the Realms brand may keep future movies as "D&D," yes. The rest of the post can best be described as a grand and impressive castle built on... empty air.

For NDA and "not ruining the fun for all of you" reasons, I won't discuss future plans for the Realms in any detail. Nor will I speak for other writers and designers and their projects - - and I am not and never have been a TSR or a WotC employee, and so can't speak for Wizards.

However, I can comment on what I'm supposed to have said, and a (very) little about what I'm doing.

In many GenCon panels I have answered questions about THE NATURE of Realms characters (as opposed to their fates) that can be construed, by those who desire to "twist" my words out of context, to be forecasting character deaths.

For instance, I have said, in replies to "questions from the floor" in GenCon seminars, that both The Simbul and Cyric CAN be killed, and that the behaviour of both often leads them into situations of survival-risk for them both (The Simbul's personal recklessness and habit of full-fireballs-ahead attacks on Red Wizards, Cyric's habit of doublecrossing every deity he can reach and the imprudent actions his insanity leads him into). That's not the same as hinting that they're going to die soon.

In like manner, I have confirmed at GenCon seminars that not only can Manshoon and Fzoul be killed, they have both been killed already (Manshoon many times), and raised. I have also observed that Fzoul, having risen to the top of the Zhentarim, in part by switching deities whenever it will benefit him personally, is now a target for many, and probably overdue for energetic assassination attempts. Again, that's not the same thing as "directly stating" Fzoul's going down soon.

If it makes the WotC-boards poster happy, I'll say it again: Fzoul and Manshoon WILL both die. Eventually. Happens to all of us if we're mortal, remember?

As for the rest of the post: I hinted about "a mass invasion of Toril by the Nine Hells" in ELMINSTER IN HELL? Really?

Wow, I'm GOOD. I mean: really good. So good that I can sneak things past myself, evidently. I must look into fully exploiting this power, as I seem to be a few million bucks short at the moment.

"Elminster finally ascends to godhood"? I doubt it. For one thing, his sanity wouldn't take it. For another, anyone who reads THE TEMPTATION OF ELMINSTER closely should realize Elminster doesn't want, and would renounce, such power (godly power is the "temptation" he faces in that book, despite what some commentators have said). If divine power was forced on him, he just might suicide to avoid existence as a god. (And I say this as the world's greatest living expert on Elminster. So there.)

As for this: "WotC actually doesn't want to officially comment on the end of Faerun series at all yet, though a lot of others like Greenwood and Salvatore have already started talking about it." and this: "Greenwood is by far the main mind behind the end of the realms."

These are flat-out untrue. I have "started talking" about no such thing, and am certainly not the "main mind" behind any such plan, being as it's news to me. :}

As for my placing "vague hints" about future Realms events ("Greenwood however is also annoyingly elusive about any details, and has only placed vague hints as to what might happen."): yup, guilty as charged. I've been doing so in print since 1979, and plan to continue to do so. It's one of the little things I can do to help keep the Realms feeling "alive." It's also a way to keep all Realms fans playing the favourite "What If?" game: considering what MIGHT happen in the Realms - - and of course, really can happen in your Realms campaign, if you want them to.

I did as the poster suggested: Googling myself to try to find myself "officially" saying Manshoon and Fzoul will both die. Weird feeling, that.

Searching to see if a cyber self (or someone masquerading online as you) said something you KNOW you haven't said. Unfortunately for the poster, I couldn't find myself saying any such thing. Bummer. So much for the scheme of robbing the bank while I give myself a perfect alibi by speaking in pyblic somewhere. Guess I'll just have to earn money the old-fashioned way.

As for Realms products not being published after 2007: let's see, three Knights novels, one a year, from 2006 through 2008, and then - - whups, can't tell you about that yet, or that, or THOSE. Let me just say this: I CAN confirm that I have been involved in discussions about future Realms projects that will be released after 2007, and that "the end of Faerūn itself" has NOT been one of them.

The poster thereafter mentioned a truism of all series publishing: that unless a series is on a sharp upswing in popularity (which usually means it's either one of those rare word-of-mouth bandwagons, a la Harry Potter or DaVinci Code, or massive publicity campaigns are being mounted, like most Hollywood blockbusters, e.g. the current Narnia), it's declining. The norm is that sequels of sequels of sequels sell less than the initial burst (comics speculators used to call it the "first-issue bump"). However, note that the poster jumped from this valid truism to an "I believe" (and therefore) conclusion.

Well, * I * believe that I'm the most handsome and desirable man in the world. Therefore, women will start hurling themselves at me, on sight. Now, it hasn't happened yet, but perhaps I just live in a village populated by women with poor eyesight. Yeah, that's it! (Nothing wrong with my belief, just because there's as yet no evidence to support it...)

And in closing, I must say I agree with the poster that the plan he's outlined IS financially "a great one." I should remind him that the release of a "new core book" and starting all over again tactic he mentions has in fact been the often-stated policy over the entire life of the published Realms: release a new "baseline" Realms product (the first two were boxed sets, the third the FRCS) about every ten years, in a cycle that updates the setting for new generations of buyers AND to reflect the "in-setting" changes passing Realms-time has wrought (plus restate things in terms of the latest game mechanics of whatever rules iteration is current).

It's very likely that someday there will be a 4th edition of D&D, and when that day comes, that there will indeed shortly thereafter be a 4th edition Realms baseline product. I hope to be a part of it... but then again, if all those women do throw themselves at me, I may get crushed to death long before that day comes. :}

Okay, THO, hand me a REAL Realmslore question...

And there you have it: so emphatically saith Ed.

Hope that helps, Kuje.



December 19, 2005: Hello again, all. Yes, 'tis good to be back. Thanks for all the good wishes, and the new Realmslore queries, too!

Herr Doktor, Ed finally replies to your March Calimshan queries: "Most of the existing Realms resources on Calimshan seem to present it as an adventure locale for foreigners rather than an adventure locale for locals. Are Calishite adventurers adventuring in Calimshan an uncommon occurence? Where do they fit in the social scheme of Calimshan? How does their being adventurers effect their social standing (i.e. Calishites must be married by 20 and be running/involved in a successful business venture [does adventuring qualify?]). Also, if you could perhaps provide and adventure hook or two (or LOTS) for local adventurers in the area I'd be very much thankful."

Ed speaks:

I'm speaking in gross generalizations here, but adventuring within Calimshan, by Calishites, is frowned upon by the pashas and rulers, because adventurers represent an armed challenge to social order (and the authority of the pashas and rulers!). So unless adventuring can be passed off as "scouring monsters and brigands out of remote hills," "tracking down and dealing with outlaws," or "caravan guarding," adventurers are often treated as little better than brigands.

However, Calishite merchants have a long tradition of finding things, settling scores, and protecting their goods with armed guards - - and Calishite temples have always had "holy " or "anointed" guardians who do more than patrol temple grounds against thieves and vandals; they sally forth on expeditions ordered (or even led) by priests to find things, make diplomatic visits, provide escorts, and (yes) settle scores.

In addition, every pasha, yshah, ynamalik, sultan, and caleph (and frontier bandit lord; such individuals almost always style themselves "satraps") has their own adventurers, usually three distinct groups (which their master plays off against each other as rivals, each spying on the others): a personal bodyguard, a publicly-known "razra" or strike force, and a little-known "saress" or 'Silent Hand' (dirty-work group).

Adventurers who personally serve a ruler enjoy high status (linked to that of the ruler), those of temples just a shade less so, and those of pashas are generally regarded as "solid and respectable" if their master is. Unattached adventurers are seen as little better than brigands (but also as dashing heroes by many women and some men among tavern-drinkers), and those who serve private merchants are lowly everyday working swords, apt to be brutal and given to trickery, but serving causes that have enriched the realm for centuries.

Many Calishites of higher status and urban wealth allow themselves to indulge inner xenophobic tendencies by looking down upon (from sneering and spitting to street violence or legal persecution) all who are visibly "outlanders" (less politely: "outlander dogs" or "less" [short for "less-than-human"]). Therefore, adventurers who aren't (at a casual glance) Calishite will have a lesser status (in the ranges described in the preceding paragraph) than those who are seen as Calishite. Interestingly, rural Calishites are usually wary of all strangers (Calishite and otherwise), but have little of this hatred and racism. It should be noted that urban racism is tempered by the laws and strict enforcement of same practised by most rulers, against all acts that might discourage trade (i.e. stop foreign merchants from coming, out of fears for personal safety or beliefs that trade will be nigh-impossible due to local hostility). So merchants may be looked down-upon, but won't be treated badly (whereas adventurers and mercenaries may well be shown open contempt). I say again: I'm expressing gross generalizations; on a person-to-person level, behaviour may be far different.

So saith Ed.

Yes, we're back in the saddle, folks; more Realmslore replies in the days to come.

BTW, Ed thinks Blueblade's idea of scribes identifying Realms NPCs you'd like to see a little more of, in future novels and short stories, is a great one: please post your choices here!

love to all,


December 20, 2005 Hello again, fellow scribes. Ed makes partial reply to a May query from crazedventurers about Helmite festivals (dates, names, and natures):

Hi, Damian! I hope this isn't entirely too late for Liz. My notes on the church of Helm are (like those of most of the clergies, because events in the published Realms keep changing the priesthoods, and I've been just too busy with other lorework to completely keep up) incomplete, but in addition to the holy day and ceremonies noted on page 28 of FAITHS AND PANTHEONS, there are more than seven annual "Laudays" (festivals).

I say "more than seven" because some local temples celebrate an additional Lauday or two, to commemorate local guardians and protectors of note (almost always individuals who gave their lives to protect others). None of these additional festivals are observed in Cormyr. Laudays are open to all, not just devout followers of Helm.

The seven widely-celebrated ones are:

THREEAN (Tarsakh 4): Durendar Threean was a long-ago blacksmith of Secomber. He learned of the existence of a fell mage-led army (not a horde, but an organized warband) of orcs and hobgoblins moving down the western verge of the High Forest with the intention of storming Daggerford just as caravans were gathering there for a trade-fair. Seeking to have the army stopped before it could destroy Daggerford or harm Secomber, he walked and rode day and night through deep snow and howling blizzards, on a succession of mounts hastily purchased along the way, to Waterdeep, and forced his way into the Palace to be heard, being wounded by guards there and then slain by a Watchful Order magist on duty to defend the Palace.

When Khelben learned what had befallen, he farscried the army, teleported his apprentices to nearby vantage-points with battle-spells, and the force was routed before it could reach any settlements.

The day of Threean's death is now marked with feasting (platters of food delivered by hard-riding or running priests, in remembrance of Threean's wild ride), at which stirring sermons are preached about always spreading warnings of fell deeds and suspicious occurrences one may have witnessed, even if others disbelieve.

JORRIST (Mirtul 9): Althan Jorrist was malformed from birth, and much mocked. His bandy, uneven-length legs could never support him to walk, and his head was far too large for his body and had one large eye set lower than his smaller, higher other eye. Yet despite folk shunning or hurling stones at him, he chose to serve his neighbours in his home city of Elturel by spending his days magically standing watch over the lands around, making it easy for Elturel's riders of the time (sone seventy years ago, now) to track down brigands, fleeing fugitives from justice, and prowling monsters).

Once Jorrist's aptitude for arcane magic was evident, he was taken in by the sorceress Tartella Wyndsar of Elturel (a plain, dumpy, no-nonsense woman who served a succession of city rulers as advisor, eyes and ears, and magical muscle), but taught only detection and scrying spells, for fear he'd try to take vengeance on all who'd mistreated him. He did nothing of the kind, and in the end perished at Wyndsar's side, on the night of Mirtul 9th in 1304 DR, when the Calishite mage Arash Ildroun teleported into her tower to remove her from the local scene (she'd been thwarting attempts to menace and so control local merchants by a cabal of Calishite wizards, of whom Ildroun was a member).

Jorrist's lauday is marked by a musical processional (which interested passersby and members of the community can join or follow) of Helmite clergy to a chosen place (often their temple, but where possible a local hilltop or other vantage point, natural or man-made), where clerics (and sorcerers and wizards friendly to Helm or to this observance) will for free farscry, either by spell or item (usually crystal balls), persons and places chosen by folk who joined in the processional. The intent is to give members of the general public (with preference to devout Helmites, and secondly to those who joined in the processional) direct view of what is seen in the scrying, so they can "see for themselves" and even direct movement of the scrying.

If demand and resources permit, this process will continue until dusk, when persons who make monetary offerings to Helm (however small) by throwing them into upturned helms placed on stands and guarded by priests, are feasted in a generous meal (with wine and ale) at the priests' expense. (In small villages, Jorrist may consist only of one priest with a crystal ball, and the feast a meal at the local inn or tavern for which he pays for the wine and ale, and the diners contribute food (what we modern real-world folk usually call "potluck").

So saith Ed, who will return with the other five Laudays tomorrow.

love to all,

December 21, 2005: Hello again, all. Ed's reply to crazedventurers about Helmite festivals concludes, forthwith:

Hi again. Here we go...

STORMGUARD (Kythorn 6): Kulthan Stormguard was a Purple Dragon knight who was killed on this day in 1322 DR while single-handedly fighting outlaws in the King's Forest, to defend woodcutters the outlaws had been terrorizing, robbing, and murdering. He had spent the last three years of his life riding hard from forest camp to cutters' glade to hunting lodge to steading, trying to be everywhere at once in his attempts to make the King's Forest safer. His death spurred the Dragons of the day to "scour out" the forest, markedly lessening brigand and monster attacks for more than a decade.

Today, the lauday of Stormguard is celebrated by martial demonstrations, contests, and tournaments throughout Cormyr, hosted, administered, and largely participated in by Purple Dragons (though anyone is welcome to participate, so long as they wear or use nothing magical, relying entirely on "prowess of arms"). It is a day when "all ranks are equal" in etiquette (and repercussions afterwards!) and policing, both overt and farscrying, is performed by the War Wizards.

The events of Stormguard, from endurance races in full armor to naked wrestling to swordfighting atop logs to lance-jousting in full armor on horseback, are performed in marketplaces and other venues where the public can gather to watch, cheer, and wager, and are accompanied by recruiting drives conducted by retired ex-Dragon veterans (who are handsomely paid for the day).

Drinking is forbidden and frowned-upon by Dragons taking part in Stormguard, but the Crown sponsors HUGE public feasts that begin at dusk. These are often enlivened locally by dancers on tables (sometimes local coinlasses looking to attract business for the wee hours) or by hedge-wizards performing spell-spectacles.

MAELRA (Flamerule 4): Maelra Hallowhand was a tall, strong farmer's daughter who rose to fame as a horse-archer in the reign of Duar; she led a small local band of local youths (both hes and shes) in rides about the countryside northeastern Cormyr, keeping the peace and hunting prowling monsters (far more numerous in those days). Maelra was slain on this day in 471 DR by a villainous local baron who paid for his deed with his life, once the King discovered what had befallen.

Maelra's lauday is celebrated with archery contests (in Cormyr, cash prizes for winners are provided by the Crown, via local lords, Purple Dragon commanders, and even tax collectors sent to smaller communities for this purpose), followed by evening feasts at which women famous for having guarded, defended, or watched over others are lauded with numerous toasts, pageants, and tale-telling.

SCORTRYN (Eleint 14): Elkar Scortryn was a mage of Neverwinter whose vigilance saved that city from a sneak attack that would otherwise probably have overwhelmed and destroyed it. Most orc hordes stream over the surface, in a vast moving mob of often-fractious tribes and factions whose leaders send out side-parties as much to keep them from fighting with each other as they are to seek out foes and plunder.

One that arose in 1339 DR came at the city through caverns and underground granaries, storage-chambers, and tunnels, moving on the surface only by night or under the cover of thick forest. By chance Scortryn noticed some orcs while farscrying a trail for a merchant client worried about a shipment that hadn't shown up - - but on his own initiative the wizard started spell-searching known caverns between Neverwinter and the orcs he'd seen, and so discovered the horde.

On his own he gathered hedge-wizards, novice magelings, and adventurers in need of his coins into a defensive force that collapsed several caverns onto the heads of most of the horde, forcing the remnant to the surface where the hitherto-disbelieving folk of Neverwinter hurriedly mustered to arms and destroyed them in a series of bloody skirmishes that reached almost to the gates of Neverwinter itself.

The lauday of Scortryn is celebrated by priests and devout followers of Helm all across Faerūn feasting wixards, sorcerers, and especially novices, apprentices, untrained-in-Art talents, and would-be magelings, giving them gifts as well as food and drink, and proclaiming their names in local speeches (often bringing them to the attention of potential clients or tutors). Tales are told of vigilant mages who aid those around them benevolently (as opposed to the more common stories of local mages being either recluses or tyrants).

ANNTARRAVIN (Marpenoth 21): Torntyn Anntarravin was a weaponsmaster of Tethyr centuries ago, who served in several duchies of that realm training the soldiery - - not in battlefield tactics or war per se, but in personal vigilance while guarding places, valuables, or people (being properly equipped, remembering faces and names, varying where and when places are searched or looked at, working together properly so a guardian can never be caught alone, and so on). He's credited for much of the effectiveness of bodyguards and gateguards in that realm, and by extension (as others observed and copied) other lands, too.

The lauday of Anntarravin is marked by local feasts of thanks for guardians (who have the day off, their duties typically being performed by priests of Helm, War Wizards or equivalent organizations, local guilds, and so on), whereat guardians can eat and drink for free. In recent decades, Anntarravin has also become a day when weapon makers and vendors, and especially makers and sellers of armor, helms, and shields, gather in trade fairs or set up their own "open tables" to sell their wares. (In Cormyr, the prohibition on carrying weapons is lifted for the day, so folk can shop without hindrance.)

BORDROS (Uktar 10): Bordros was a "robber baron" (self-styled lord, who ruled a band of raiders from his own mountain castle) active centuries ago in the mountains that now gird northern Amn. A large, brawling bear of a man, given to butchery, he had one redeeming quality: all priests, from hermits to those who dwelt in abbeys, were strictly "off limits" when it came to plunder and ill-treatment - - even those who took up arms against him! Moreover, he often came riding like nightwind [nomenclature note: "run like nightwind" or "ride like nightwind" is the Faerūnian equivalent of "pell-mell" or "hell for leather"] to the aid of temples, abbeys, and even individual priests if he heard they were threatened by others. Bordros gave his own offerings most heavily at the altars of Helm, but defended the religious of all faiths.

The lauday of Bordros is observed by local races, either afoot in full armor or mounted in full armor and gear (or both). These contests often have prizes, and are usually for long distances across country, with steeplechase-like walls, streams, and ditches to jump (as opposed to short dashes in confined areas), though in some cities they are great circuits through the city. The races have a history of violent spills and collisions. When the races are done, Helmite-sponsored feasting takes place until the next dawn, often accompanied by hard drinking and debauchery (it's a no-consequences, let-one's-hair-down time, even for the most devoute Helmites).

So saith Ed.

And there you have it, Helmites everywhere (and Liz in her first foray as DM). Enjoy!

love to all,


On December 20, 2005 THO said: I'm sure Ed explained this somewhere already: in most places (Waterdeep and Cormyr definitely among them), laws prevent nobles (sometimes royalty are exempt) from being raised. This stops all sorts of power struggles, conflicting claims for lands and money from "back from the dead" claimants or pretenders purporting to be someone dead centuries ago (whom nobody alive today would be able to swear is an impostor), pretenders "rewriting history" by writing diaries, accounts, false wills, documents purporting to be old agreements, and so on.

Over time, the laws are backed up by social custom: if you break it by raising someone, you threaten the social order, and are apt to be shunned, exiled, or no longer treated as noble by anyone. So folk grow up thinking it's simply not a possibility.



December 22, 2005: Hi again, all. In answer to some private queries from concerned scribes: no, I wasn't joking about bullets. And no, I can't say any more (a gal's gotta keep SOME secrets, and I'm afraid I signed a paper some years back that said I would). Herewith, a reply from Ed to The Sage, regarding the current status of Castlemorn:

Hi, Sage! I, too, am eager to see this puppy published. If I can claw the necessary time away from family and chores before the end of the year, I want to go over its text to restore a consistent "voice" (I wrote it as a non-D&D-specific setting, and Fast Forward turned it into a d20 setting for commercial reasons; this is fine with me, but in the process a lot of text was generated by other pens than mine, and I just want to polish some of the prose. Studio 2 is indeed the new home of the book, and the art is GORGEOUS. Scribes who don't give two hoots about one more fantasy setting might want to snap up the book just for the eye candy!

P.S. Glad you liked the Crimmor DRAGON article. There are more in the works, plus (thanks to the great Erik Mona) a surprise coming up, too. Can't say more yet. :}

So saith Ed.

So that's the "fix" Krash referred to.

BTW: to David Lįzaro: Ed thanks you for the congrats (he had to sweat blood to even try to squeeze in half of the events, characters, and "fun scenes" he wanted to put in this book, and promises one thing to every reader: it will be PACKED), and your request to drop the equine lore request is duly noted.



December 22, 2005: Hi again, Sage. An e-mail from Ed arrived JUST after I posted, to tell me (among other things), that he submitted "Oroon Rising" with 17 chapters, and that thus far the web postings have followed those chapters exactly. So expect ten more instalments of "pulpy" old-time D&D goodness.



On December 22, 2005 THO said: Oooh, Kuje, dear: you tread into darkly perilous ground, approaching (gasp) a secret of the Realms that has been sitting in plain sight for lo these many years, just waiting for a brilliant scribe to pounce upon.

Heh-heh. Which is a grand way of saying Ed won't answer you directly. You'll have to wait (for some time) for a rather more public answer.

Heh heh heh.



On December 22, 2005 THO said: Scarabeus, KnightErrantJR is indeed correct.

Ed was saying he didn't detail the additional laudays because they weren't observed (yes, celebrated) in Cormyr, which is where the questor's campaign is based. All of the laudays Ed did detail are celebrated almost everywhere in the known Realms, among faithful of Helm. This includes Cormyr.



On December 23, 2005 THO said: Hello again, all. Thank you, Jamallo Kreen. 'Tis good to be back, and Happy Yule to you, too!

And Hel - LO, there, Wooly (she breathed). Long time no tease...

Ahem. I can answer your question ("Where does the nickname "Weirdbeard" come from?") all by myself.

The Weirdbeard name comes from Ed's niece, who when riding around on him like a horse (when she was seven or eight), dubbed him "Uncle Weirdbeard." Ed loved the name, and it stuck. No less than three female players (myself included) have been known to stroke him and coo, "Ohhh, darling Weirdbeard" in blatant attempts to sway the DM into being merciful to our characters. (As Ed is inherently merciful, it usually works.)

So there. (wink)



December 23, 2005: Kuje, please tell Daimyotx that Ed makes reply to his query thus:

I'm afraid you've stumbled across an as-yet-untold tale of the Realms (so no novel or sourcebook exists that will help you). I certainly plan to share it with all Realms fans someday, yet I can now let slip these very paltry tidbits:

Halaster respects Elminster's (demonstrated, in magic done to him or in his presence, and I'm going to reveal here and now that it was the former) mastery of Art and his compassion (towards Halaster, of course), yet Halaster was not pleased by something El did to him, and "had to" do to him, almost certainly to carry out Mystra's orders, and almost certainly because of Halaster's insanity (insane behaviour).

So saith Ed, and there you have all that can be told at the present time. Just wallowing in 'almost certainties,' here...


P.S. Now, KnightErrantJR, don't get me started. 'Tis already warm in here, and I'm starting to purr...

In the words of Queen Filfaeril : "Ah, my lord, but when stroke becomes pull, THEN the Dragon will roar."



December 25, 2005: Hello again, fellow scribes. This time, Ed makes reply to MW Turnage, about this query: "I recently reread 'Elminster at the Magefair' in Realms of Valor. Roughly when was this supposed to have occurred? It doesn't sound as if Storm had travelled all that much with Elminster, nor does it sound like many of those at the Magefair knew who he was? Was this after his return from one of his lengthy off-Toril absences?"

Ed makes reply:

Hi, Mark. "Elminster at the Magefair" is set in the Year of the Dark Dragon, 1336 DR. At the time of this tale, Storm HADN'T travelled all that much with Elminster (certainly not in recent years, or overland by foot and on horseback, as opposed to teleporting here and there).

You're quite correct: many of the mages attending the Magefair didn't know who Elminster was, and here's why: he seldom attends Magefairs in his own guise, the majority of regular attendees at Magefairs tend to be young, rising, ambitious wizards (in this, it's somewhat akin to real-world writers and gamers, vis-a-vis conventions), and to most wizards across Faerūn, "Elminster" is a semi-mythic name, of some probably-long-dead mage who's infamous for doing this, that, and the other, and may or may not really be one of Mystra's Chosen, but in any case isn't real (or at least "around," to be met with) today.

This is one of the unfortunate distortions caused by Realms fiction (the result of TSR and later WotC editors wanting me to write Elminster, Elminster, and more Elminster): many observers of the Realms tend to think Elminster and the Seven have something of the widely-accepted social status in the Realms of rock stars or Hollywood celebs, known and constantly talked about by all. The truth is, for the majority of arcane spellcasters, they're names out of legend or tall tavern tales, who may or may not really have done this or that. Most wizards in the Realms certainly don't live their lives ever expecting to meet Elminster. And, yes, El had been keeping a low public profile for some years prior to the story, living and working (on behind-the-scenes stuff, not coercing rulers and having public confrontations with VIPs) in various disguises or personas while in Faerūn and travelling often to other planes and continents.

So saith Ed.

Who'll return with more Realmslore tomorrow. Promise.



December 25, 2005: Hi, all. This time around, Ed tackles Ladejarl's July query: "Pray ask the Bearded One if he is free to share any lore on which faiths are represented among the druids of the Misty Forest. Also the names of some the druids of importance in the forest would be much appreciated."

Ed replies:

Ladejarl, the presence of the wood elves has kept the Misty Forest a little light on human druids, but my notes record a handful:

the elderly Loregrim Thandaron (high-level human male druid of Silvanus, formerly of Neverwinter), who has at least two young, very low-level assistants plus rangers he habitually works with.

the reclusive, quiet, sometimes-mistaken-for-a-dryad Alaelyss ("Al-LAEL-lice") Ombarton (formerly of Tethyr), a tall, plain-featured, careless-of-clothing, usually barefoot, wild-haired druid of Eldath who spends much of her time planting, tending, and propogating mosses, ferns, lichens, and tree seedlings, and improving both drainage and water sources; she definitely works and dwells alone, having as friends a few elves, dryads, and other forest creatures.

the sleek, leather-clad, impish-humoured Talantra Malalkin (born in Waterdeep, but hailing from many places since), a worldly, much-travelled druid of Mielikki who has settled in the Misty Forest as "perfect for her," but is eager to hear news of the wider world and to guide or host adventurers and other intruders; she maintains a cave in the Misty Forest where travellers can shelter - - and forest denizens can know where such intruders are, and need not worry about them cutting firewood or trying to hack out campsites; Talantra works with many rangers, not just of her own faith, and (like some sort of military officer) likes to know what's befalling on the High Moor at all times, so as to be prepared for trouble.

I'm afraid I don't have levels or stats for these characters. My lore notes say that all of them co-exist peacefully with the elves, and work with them unhesitatingly to repel strong threats from the High Moors (such as orcs with lit torches who want to do a little "forest clearance"). I hope this scanty lore is of some help.

So saith Ed.

Who will be back with more Realmslore replies, the next one tomorrow.

In the meantime, Merry Yule, Happy Solstice Afterdance, Merry Christmas, and Grand Hannukah and Kwanzaa and High Reindeer Feast to all!

love to all,


On December 25, 2005 THO said: Hi, Dhomal. A quick "helper" reply until Ed can do a proper one. Victor Selby, the player who portrayed Jelde Asturien and later Torm of the Knights, among many other characters, started to detail one of the continents. Maztica was not in Ed's original Realms, but flying ships (elven defenses of Evermeet, plus a 'flying Dutchman' style ever-sailing-the-air-haunted-vessel) were, so when Jeff Grubb started to create the SPELLJAMMER line, it was only natural that Ed be brought in to do the first supplement (Lost Ships) and "Realmsify" the concept.

So, yes, we've talked and imagined what things were like on other continents, visited one (via gate [3e "portal']) once, very briefly, and (ahem) NDA on future development [that particular NDA has been there since 1986, folks, so please don't read too much into it and start rumors of a new line, or anything, okay?).

love to all,


December 26, 2005: Hi again, fellow scribes. This time Ed replies to Goldforge's September query: "concerning Druids and why every Druid other than Mielikki Druids can't wear metal armour. My argument was that Druids of Talos, because they venerate storms and natural disasters, should not be subject to this rule. Talos himself hates nature (the plant and animal kind of Nature, I'm guessing) so why would he sanction his Druids from using Metal if it is considered an affront to Nature? Why would Talos not allow his Druids to use a material that other, more goodly and nice, Deities of Nature label as an affront? We debated for a while, and we couldn't even come up with half a reason why Druids of Mielikki are allowed to use Metal. It's especially odd that Talassan Druids can't when they have more of a reason to wear Metal then their Mielikki Druid counterparts. Were certain Nature Dieties such as Auril and Talos left forgotten when it came to listing diety specific class rule exceptions? Could someone tell me, with facts or an authoritative voice, why Talassan Druids can't wear Metal armour?"

Ed speaks:

Ahem. (Assumes authoritative voice.)

Because they'd fry thanks to lightning in storms, that's why. :}

Just as those of Auril would sear their skins off, in intense cold, and die of hypothermia. Metal interferes with most "natural cycles" of body heat, moisture transfer, and so on, and therefore the presence of too much of it is like poison to druids. Feels wrong ("itchy" to nauseous), shatters their attunement with nature, grounds any lightning spells they try to cast (with, yes, disastrous results for the caster), and so on.

Mielikki, however, is especially attuned to minerals (including minerals in solution, such as iron in blood and nutrients in plant saps), and so (through prayer, training, and by following her teachings) her druids are, too.

I grant you this exceptional status seems very weird, when applying dispassionate real-world logic to the situation. However, please step back and consider just what you're doing: trying to objectively apply real-world logic to a fictitious fantasy-setting magic-related situation. Sometimes the best answer is: "Because that's just the way things are - - that's why." This is one of those moments.

Personally, I'm puzzled as to why you so strongly want a druid of Talos to have metal armour. For cool fashion reasons? Game min-maxing? (In other words, to a roleplayer, it really shouldn't matter. Like all faith-related things that those who follow other beliefs may find strange [specific rituals, taboos, dietary requirements, etc.]: if the deity or a more senior druid says thus-and-so, then you do thus-and-so.)

However, if it really upsets you, allow Talassan druids to wear metal armour in your Realms campaign. It doesn't stretch game balance that much; it's more a matter of making nature deities distinctive from each other.

So saith Ed.

In the 'home' Realms campaign, Florin follows Mielikki, and fathered a child on her orders (unlike most of her faithful, he had several face-to-face meetings with the Lady of the Forest, during one of which she kissed him!). If she told him, or gave him a dream-vision showing him [the way she directly communicates with most of her druids], to go into battle stark naked, or wearing fishnets stockings over his head, or blindfolded, he'd do just that.

Hmm. Hope Ed doesn't read this, or Florin might be in for some interesting play sessions.

love to all,


December 27, 2005: Hi, scribes. This time, Ed makes reply to sillaric_culdanin's most recent query (no, he hasn't forgotten your Earlann questions, but his answer is unavoidably delayed, for NDA reasons relating to someone else's not-yet-written project), thus:

Hi. Coins are universally minted in the Realms by hammering metal into flat sheets and after these have cooled, cutting out coins individually by the hold-punch-in-one-hand, whack-it-with-a-hammer method. So each coin is minted by hand, and struck twice: the first punch cuts it out and puts a simple device or mark on one side (often the denomination), and the coin is later placed, already-stamped face down, with many other coins, in a wooden form: a block of wood with a row of cylindrical recesses ("holes," but not all the way through the wood) drilled in it. A second punch is then placed on each 'blank' coin and struck with a hammer, to put a second face (usually a more complex design) on the coins, which are then removed from the rack, the edges buffed and the faces polished by hand, and given to the mintmaster for inspection ("rejects" are melted down immediately, as in the Realms there are no coin-collectors clamouring for rare imperfections - - instead, there are angry merchants and common folk who will report or dagger you for trying to cheat them with a "forgery" (counterfeit coin), if you hand them an imperfect coin).

This question is related to one Jamallo Kreen posted just before yours, and I'll deal with it next time. Oh, and sillaric_culdanin: you're very welcome. We both enjoy answering questions and hanging out with fellow gamers; long may it continue.

So saith Ed.

As advertised, that answer for Jamallo next time.



December 28, 2005: Hi again, all. Jamallo Kreen posted a many-faceted question for Ed about coinage, and for clarity Ed has elected to answer it point-by-point, thus:

JK:... what (in Earth Prime terms) are the prevailing artistic styles of the different regions of Faerun, especially on coinage?

Ed: There are many styles, as I've posted here and elsewhere. There are triangular coins, square coins, circular coins, and oval coins (most Faerūnian coins are actually oval), of several different metals, some pierced when minted (for stringing on rings or cords), and many pierced by merchants in practice (very few are cut in half by merchants, because only a few will be honoured as having any value when this is done). In terms of the artistic styles of what's stamped on their faces: you can find everything in the Realms, from crude scratched numerals to detailed illustrations (though particular countries tend to cling to a consistent style, or at least "artistic level" of style, Calimshan, Sembia, Amn, Cormyr, Silverymoon, and Waterdeep having coins generally considered the artistically finest).

JK: Technologically Waterdeep seems to be comparable to mid-15th century Italy, but that doesn't imply that its artistic style is the same.

Ed: Comparable, yes, not closely identical, and your conclusion as to artistic style is correct.

JK: Is the numismatic art of the Realms stylized, like Medieval Earth portraiture, or does it attempt to accurately render the image of each person and thing portrayed?

Ed: Some coins have simple devices on them (usually simplified heraldic badges, of the same sort emblazoned on the tunics of soldiers), some have stylized crowns with a name of a ruler under them, and a few (mainly of the realms name above, and of more valuable denominations) have sophisticated "life-like" heads, usually side profiles, like modern real-world coins.

JK: Is perspective known in Faerūnian painting, and if so, is it used throughout the Realms, or only in certain "advanced" areas?

Ed: Perspective is widely known and used across Faerūn (thanks to its long history of vigorously-travelling trading merchants), but there are more primitive artists in many villages and "backland" (aka "upcountry") areas. Interestingly, in sophisticated locales (Aglarond, Impiltur, Unther, Mulhorand, and all of the realms and cities listed in my answers above), caricature flourishes among more naive artists (the oversized head, exaggerated physical features and facial expressions, et al). More realistic styles are appreciated, but haven't "pushed out" more primitive ones in popularity; except among the most fashion-conscious (rich and close to power), styles in the Realms tend to co-exist right now, rather than supplanting each other.

JK: Do the various churches have rigid artistic traditions which have gone unchanged for centuries as Byzantine art was (and as Orthodox icon painting still is)?

Ed: No. The churches have holy symbols and "habits" that are valued and clung to as traditions, yes, but their art isn't by any means rigid. Even deities that value hierarchy and control allow new expressions (so long as the actual content isn't blasphemous: i.e. challenging holy teachings). A temple artist will usually include a motif (favourite symbol of the faith) in a painting to tell other faithful of their faith "Yes, this is indeed a painting to the glory of Tempus, painted by one who worships Tempus above all others, and meant this painting as a humble, loyal offering." However, no temple or high priest says anything akin to: "One can only use these following symbols, or subjects, in acceptable holy paintings of the god, and can only depict them in these colours, or these situations or manners, or must submit all paintings to me or to a specific highly-ranked worshipper of the faith before they can be deemed acceptable."

A priest who hated a painting you, a loyal worshipper, did, might say very disapprovingly, "We'll leave this on the altar tonight to see if the god finds it pleasing; on your head be the results." However, the priest would NEVER dare to smash, burn, or 'vanish' the painting (on their own) and claim the god caused that fate to befall it - - because to do so WOULD be blasphemous, and gods in the Realms are very real, apt-to-be-attentive-at-awkward-mortal-moments beings.

So saith Ed.

A lovely answer, and there are more to come in the days ahead, as we charge towards 2006.

love to all!


December 29, 2005: Hi again, scribes. This time Ed replies to Si's "aside" query (yes, he'll get to your other queries, Si: promise!) from May: "As an aside, why is the Cormyrean Navy referred to in some products as the Imperial Navy, whither the Empire?

Ed speaks:

There isn't one. Yet, or perhaps ever (though the navy has been how Cormyr has temporarily occupied various islands in the Sea of Fallen Stars, and even temporarily occupied or dominated supposedly-independent ports such as Teziir).

The name of Cormyr's navy doesn't mean Cormyr considers itself to have an empire. This title refers to the oft-mentioned-at-Court (that is, the Royal Court in Suzail) view that possessing a navy gives Cormyr the reach to acquire an empire, if ever it wants one. Thus, it's an instrument of empire, and therefore "in and of itself" imperial.

So saith Ed.

Splitting hairs with his razor-sharp wit and tongue. Which must (ahem) please his wife very much. Which must be the first off-colour remark I've made here in a day or two. Gods, I'm slipping (in what, I'd better not discuss).


love to all,


December 30, 2005: Hi, everyone. This time around, Ed responds to this August 13th question from Jamallo Kreen: "Are there any works of "natural philosophy" or of "geography" (Torilography?) of the Aristotelian, Ptolemic, or Mandevillian variety which are considered essential reading for educated persons?

Please reveal more of Toril's literature, Ed."

And Ed replies:

A proper answer to this question would consume pages and pages in this thread, even if I restricted myself to human writings only, just brief summaries, and omitted all the unfolding literary history and debates and merely gave a 'snapshot' of what things are like right now.

So instead, I think I'll meander at length. :}

First off: geography. Maps are expensive things (being rare, easily damaged or destroyed, and more often inaccurate than not). Large, detailed, "good" ones are usually owned by rulers (from mayors of cities who have sewer and street maps, up to kings who own large and varied collections of maps from everywhere, often largely old and fanciful), temples, and the families of mapmakers, explorers, and adventurers.

In many cases, limners (painters or portrait drawers), heralds (not "Heralds," just 'heralds;' the difference should be outlined in the forthcoming POWER OF FAERUN), and scribes make a good living copying simplified portions of maps from such collections, as follows: royal scribes and temple scribes are on staff, so to speak, at the court or temple, and make copies for (stiff) fees. Independent scribes access the aforementioned private family collections, and in some cases the temple and court collections, too, by paying fees. An independent scribe usually pays a set fee for access, per map (which covers the time of a junior courtier or novice priest who brings the map to a work area within the court or temple, and watches over the scribe while he/she works, to guard against theft, mutilation of maps, and substitutions of false maps), AND pays a proportion (usually a third or a half, rounding up) of the price the scribe charges the client for the finished map. This means "maps for sale" are usually found or stolen items; most independent scribes don't create a specific map until hired to do so.

It follows that books of maps are very rare and precious things, sometimes part of the most secret treasure of a guild or temple, and usually part of royal collections and kept in closely-guarded inner vaults.

The most famous one (known to most bards and minstrels by reputation only) is A MANYREALMS GALLIMAUFRY by the cartographer Trammeth Anstrelgor. Candlekeep owns a fragmentary copy (most books of maps suffer the vandalism of having one or more maps torn out), and the complete original, according to legend, was buried circa 1114 DR with Anstrelgor in his tomb, somewhere in Tethyr (precise whereabouts unknown). The most infamous one is RELVOR'S PORTALS, a slender grimoire of spells, portal locations and instructions, and portal vicinity maps; a dozen heavily-vandalized copies are known to exist; a few have been bought and sold at MageFairs, transfers that have involved the murder of owners and worse. Many realms have "official" mapbooks for the use of garrison commanders and other public officials, usually containing maps restricted to the realm only: one of the best of these is the constantly-updated CROWN BOOK OF THE REALM for Cormyr, a slim collection of Cormyrean palace, castle, and city, town, and village street maps.

The best collections of maps in the Heartlands, in descending order, are probably (please keep in mind the use of the word "probably"): The Herald's Holdfast; Candlekeep; Piergeiron's Palace in Waterdeep, The Star Court in Silverymoon; various hidden vaults beneath the High Palace in Silverymoon; The Hallowed House of Higher Achievement temple to Deneir in Selgaunt; the Royal Court in Suzail; the Society of Stalwart Adventurers club in Suzail; The Leaves of Learning temple to Oghma in Highmoon, in Deepingdale; The Halls of Inspiration temple to Oghma in Silverymoon; Twilight Hall temple to Deneir in Berdusk; and The Sanctum of the Seven Scribes (a book and map-copying library) in Athkatla.

What DOES prevail in the human literature of Toril are personal accounts of travels so popular in real-world Europe during the times of exploration, discovery, and colonialization or empire-building (whichever term you prefer), the sort of books parodied by such mock titles as "A Gentlelady's Adventures In Darkest Murkaria" or "Down The River of Doom With Gun and Camera." There are so many of these that no one tome has risen to prominence, nor can even a "short list" be assembled that any two sages could agree on more than one or two titles of.

This is due to the same reason modern real-world fiction varies widely in genre and style: the books are read primarily for enjoyment rather than for useful facts (although it's essential for the success of a given book that it purport to contain some useful lore or 'inside information,' if not essential secrets), so the style of writing (humour, "you are there" rich description, "good yarn" fanciful tavern-tale-telling, and so on) is more important than up-to-date factual content. Some peculiar local habits and customs are imparted, stereotypes about the folk of a particular land or town are passed on, and some good fireside yarns (always embellished and sometimes entirely fictitious) are thrown in.

So, yes, some of these wayfarers' histories ARE "considered essential reading for educated persons," but no one agrees on just which titles, which has prevented any of them rising to famous, truly essential status. Lasting popularity is the only way a dispassionate observer can identify the best candidates to be placed on any "core" reading list.

A few titles of this sort that have enjoyed some lasting popularity include:

MY SWORD POINTS THE WAY (by Tarrondur Maerinspyke, first published 1246 DR): a handsome, dashing Tethyrian adventurer made rich by his many marriages to wealthy widows but ultimately obliged to travel by the fury of cuckolded husbands tours the wilder backlands of countries around the Sea of Fallen Stars, ending up in contented service, in his declining years, in Darandra's House, a small, now-vanished temple to Sharess in Deepingdale. His descriptions are dated but very colourful, and provide a handy collection of local jokes, legends, tall tales that have served more than one adventurer trying to pretend to be 'a long-lost local, returned home at last.'

LANCEGROVE'S TRAVELS (1277-1296 DR diaries by Tal Lancegrove, posthumously edited into book form by his daughter Tarteera Lancegrove, and published in 1306 DR): the exploits of a tireless merchant-explorer of Iriaebor who fared far into the Moonsea North and the lands east of the Great Dale, seeking trade-goods, gems, and gold. Packed with useful descriptions of trails, mountain passes, wayfarers' landmarks, local weather and perils, and now-dated analyses of local politics and mercantile power struggles.

LORNRA AMONG THE LOXO (by Sharmra Lornra, published in 1322 DR): the bold pirate and lusty adventuress Lorna the Reaver, facing certain death as several foes closed in on her, abruptly abandoned her life of Inner Sea piracy to journey overland, laden with the rich spoils of her piracy (chests of gold and gems she needed to hide well, somewhere remote) - - a journey that ultimately took her to the depths of the Shaar, where she joined and dwelt among certain tribes of the elephantine Loxo, making a life for herself that culminated in her defeating adventurers sent to find her, romancing a mage among them, and convincing him to magically transform himself and her into loxo form. They led their tribe to successfully defeat several other tribes, but were ultimately cast out by loxo increasingly revolted by their warlike nature and aggressive pursuit of power, and retired to an ancient, hidden tomb-labyrinth in the heart of the Shaar, where they dwelt, crafting portals and pursuing covert lives of magical thefts and trading in poisons, weapons, potions, drugs, and spells until the mage (Brentaen) was killed. Lornra wound her business down, spending much of her time writing this book and sneaking through portals to murder folk who displeased her, and has not now been heard from for some decades. In addition to containing detailed accounts of amorous dalliances and some portal-finding and -operating instructions, the book hints at where in the Shaar she buried various chests of her gold and gems, and to this day enjoys brisk sales and resales among coin-hungry adventurers.

NO REALM LARGE ENOUGH TO HOLD ME (by Daerinth Orlormandor, first published 1342 DR): the shy, awkward and homely - - but very wealthy - - sole heir of a rich Calishite merchant father and an even richer Sembian merchant mother, "Daer" Orlormandor was pursued by assassins hired by business rivals, and by gold-digging would-be wives, until he sickened of being hounded. Leaving The Splendid Sails (a Sembian merchant syndicate founded by his mother) to administer his rental properties and carry on his business concerns, Daer took to a life of adventure under a series of disguises and false names, exploring the criminal world of several Sembian cities as well as "dungeons" (subterranean tomb-complexes and abandoned dwarf-holds) around the Dragonreach. His humorous accounts of his mistake- and pratfall-filled escapades make for very entertaining reading, but impart little useful lore for adventurers seeking to follow in his bootprints. Daer eventually came to terms with his looks and at ease in public, and discovered that the syndicate was robbing him blind - - so he slew them, one by one, and took their wealth to add to his, ultimately retiring to the luxuries of Highspires Hall, a sprawling walled mansion just outside Saerloon he had built for him. To this day Orlormandor pursues alchemical and magical means of retaining his youth and vigor, apparently with some success - - and has acquired a harem of mysterious, magically-gifted consorts who dwell with him and protect him against the occasional hostile spells of wizards he hired to make him live longer (magics intended to control him or coerce him into parting with funds or properties). These consorts may be spectral or wraith-like, or perhaps only betimes appear so to Daer through their use of certain spells.

All of the above works, and all of the dozen or so almost-as-popular contenders, exist in hundreds or thousands of copies, scattered across Faerūn, most of them in several editions (if a merchant notices a title selling briskly, one copy will be held back to serve as the 'master' for a new printing, usually by being copied out by hand in multiples, often using children [who don't have to read to be able to precisely copy an original] or the elderly who can be paid little, or by being re-cut onto new wooden blocks, again by someone who need not be able to read what they're copying). The original author rarely gets paid anything for these later editions, and may never even know of their existence.

So saith Ed.

I'm going to break his reply here so as not to run into the post-size-limit, but will try to post the second part immediately (my ISP is a little rocky at the moment).

love to all,

Hello again, all. Herewith, the second part of Ed's reply to Jamallo Kreen:

Secondly: philosophy. Written philosophy in the Realms is dominated by religious dogma and thought, of course, tempered by semi-secret "here are the tricks of the trade" writings about rulership (kept in private royal libraries, with "out among the public" copies outlawed or snapped up by Crown agents, to keep them in the hands of royalty - - and those nobility who can afford to acquire and hide them) and business success (which tend to be gathered in guild libraries but are hawked across the Realms by every peddler and caravan-merchant, and can't successfully be suppressed by anyone, particularly as new titles are published almost every month: like modern real world "self-help" books, these new releases endlessly rehash or even directly copy the ideas and prose of older writers, often without any acknowledgment [please bear in mind that aside from directly copying or counterfeiting the words of royalty or nobility, or the decrees of magisters or guildmasters, nothing really approaching modern real-world copyright law exists in the Realms; I said a little more about this back on page 16 of this 2005 thread]). I'm going to ignore this second sort of business success writing, vigorous in popularity though it undeniably is, and by and large ignore the rulership and religious writings.

I say "by and large" because any exploration of human philosophical writings should at least note the five sorts of religious writings and the major names in the Machiavellian advice-to-rulers vein. There are also cosmological writings that in the main brush past religious views, to treat Realmspace (even if none of them call it that) as a region to be explored rather than "the home of the gods" or "regions associated with divine reward or punishment or an afterlife."

Those five sorts of religious writings are:

* temple histories: straightforward accounts of the founding, development, events and achievements of a particular shrine, temple, holy site, abbey, monastery, or other "holy place" of a faith.

* sermons: collections of messages, holy thoughts and prayers, and other writings intended to be read aloud as part of rituals, to the faithful.

* religious dogma: the official creed of the church, any divine pronouncements and holy laws, and the specific conduct and instructions for holy rituals.

* inspirational texts: writings about deities, interpreting their actions, words, manifestations, and signs; also writings debating dogma, and known events in Toril in light of belief and dogma.

* personal holy histories: an account by a mortal individual of how he or she came to primarily worship one deity over others, or converted from one primary faith to another, or how divine contacts and holy experiences changed the individual (personal thoughts and an account of a personal religious journey).

Books of sermons are by far the most numerous tomes to be bought, found, hurled onto fires as fuel, or found in both temples and in the homes of the devout. Many faiths deliberately leave copies of them in shrines and at holy sites for pilgrims or faithful passersby to take, read, and be inspired.

Personal holy histories are the most popular books bought and sold - - but only, of course, among those of the "right" faith.

Every temple will have copies of all five sorts of books, with inspirational texts being the most poorly represented (or even hidden away and disapproved of). Those same inspirational texts are of course where (among religious books) the very sorts of writings you're seeking, Jamallo Kreen, will be found, and thanks to all the gods being considered real and important, there are no 'big names' here rising above the rest (as most writers are confined to a single faith, and no faith predominates).

Perhaps the most famous are the warring sages Rondarro of Selgaunt and Askral of Calimport, whose learned disagreements over what importance this or that deity placed on the monetary value of offerings versus diligent prayer and belief escalated, over the years, into a personal feud that ended up with their taking caustically sarcastic opposite viewpoints in chapbook after rebutting chapbook dealing with almost every faith. Rondarro's most famous work is FROM THE DAWN CATACLYSM TO THE END OF ALL (1316 DR) though most people have heard of it and never read a word of it, and Askral's most popular work is HOW WRONG CAN ONE SEMBIAN BE? (1324 DR), valued more for its viciously eloquent attacks on Rondarro than for the views it espouses. It is believed that both men are still alive, but trapped in a spell cast on them by the exasperated Queen of Aglarond after they attacked at each other at a conclave she was attending in Baldur's Gate, that placed their bodies in a stasis while their minds wandered a maze, debating with various spectral servants of Mystra. Some other sages believe that both must have gone mad long ago - - but still others insist they were mad long before The Simbul's spell was cast on them.

The most infamous advisor to rulers is the Calishite courtier Erlo Elraedan, who in 1212 DR published his only known work: THE BLOOD-DRENCHED THRONE, an often-mocking, generally ruthless "how to" book of how to reward, scare, awe, or earn the love of subjects, written for rulers who have armed men to do their bidding. Elraedan advocates promoting just laws, but establishing a not-so-secret personal strike force of the monarch who are clearly "above the law," and can with impunity do anything to any citizen. He also considers holding onto rule at all costs is the duty of every ruler, because every handover of rulership weakens a realm - - and that ruling firmly and consistently, showing ruthlessness rather than mercy, is also a ruler's duty, because uncertainty, change, and vacillation all leave a realm weaker (even if only in reputation) and more vulnerable. However, Elraedan has harsh words for rulers who become so wrapped up in holding power that they surround themselves with sycophants rather than honest advisors and reporters, and who never properly prepare a successor and "an orderly succession." Elraedan lauds a minor "robber baron" lordling of the Border Kingdoms, an otherwise-forgotten warrior hight Skalandro Sarlawge, who chose Harlar Dawnstrake a strong warrior (and rebel rival) as his successor, built up Dawnstrake's reputation by spreading false rumors of his prowess, invited Dawnstrake to a feast, and there arranged his own death by a fiery spell cast by a concealed mage, in a staged moment that made it seem like "the gods" had struck down Sarlawge and chosen Dawnstrake as his successor.

As for cosmological books exploring Realmspace without overmuch religious slant or through "the eyes of faith," the most important works are THE GREAT REALMS IN THE STARS by Jhevven Dree of Tharsult (1332 DR) and REALMS BEYOND THOSE WE KNOW by Armlarra Stormcloak (1338 DR).

Dree writes of elven skyships and realms where the skies are different, that they can sail to, and envisages "other worlds than this one" without specifying what they are. He suggests that gods are divine because they can call on the "energies" of these "other worlds" where we mortals can't, and that they achieve their own immortality (unless slain by other gods) by being able to put some of their "vital essences" on these other worlds, out of reach of any mortal foe. Dree speculates that mortals could become gods if they developed the Art (magecraft) sufficiently to be able to understand and reliably manipulate the energies of these other worlds, reach and come to understand them, and leave vital parts of themselves there "as all gods do." Dree's scanty and fragmentary descriptions of these "other worlds" suggest he did visit places very different from Toril (perhaps other planes of existence).

Stormcloak takes a very different approach. She believes the nature and specifics of the gods and godhood are "beyond mortals" and speculations on such matters "are, and can only ever be, a waste of time, spittle, and ink." The realms beyond Toril are merely places "where different skies are seen, different conditions pertain, and different strange beasts roam," that folk of Faerūn should explore and exploit as they dare. She devotes herself to describing as much as she has "been able to learn, from divers sources, many of them men deemed mad," but the vivid descriptions in her book lack named, identified places, or clear and coherent ways to reach them.

Both Dree and Stormcloak are still alive, though fraily and elderly, and both are said to be working on new books (eagerly awaited by many sages, adventurers, and merchants across Faerūn).

So there you go. A start, at least, on covering a HUGE topic that, yes, has been overly neglected in Realmslore until now. Thanks for the question, Jamallo Kreen. I hope I'll have more occasions to delve deeper into answers, in the (sigh) already-busy year ahead!

So saith Ed. And there, indeed, you have it: weighty Realmslore at this tail-end of 2005!


love to all,


December 30, 2005: Hello, all. Ed's "on the job" at the moment, as it were, so hearken to some "instant" replies to scribes:

Hi, Dargoth. Well, Erik Mona already has the text of the next city in his hands, and has had for the last month. However, I've been so busy with contracted WotC projects (plus a mystery one for him) that I haven't had time to do the map and graphics, so he's stuck at that point, despite quite rightly reminding me from time to time. Oh, for a week of solid "free time" to get all of this stuff done!

Scarabeus, the oval shape of coins comes from the ease of setting coins "lined up right" in those wooden molds for striking the second side when they're oval; when they're round, doing so is much harder and takes longer. The striking itself creates distortion, causing far more "round" coins to be rejected because they've ended up oval. So, long ago, most realms just adopted oval as the standard they were aiming for.

Your assumption that drilled or lighter or less pure coins are worth less is indeed correct for realms that are long-gone (not for mintings in the reigns of much earlier kings in a realm that still exists, note). However, for currently-existing realms, the collective will of gar-travelling merchants (the reason for outland coins being present and accepted at all, without being melted down for their precious metal content and refashioned into something else) firmly prevails: the merchants (mainly caravan traders) want a gold piece from Amn to be equal to a gold piece from Sembia - - or every single merchant is subject to being cheated in every last transaction.

"Slighting" coins (shaving them, cutting bits off, etc.) does reduce their acceptability, but not necessarily their value (i.e. a merchant says, "I'm not taking THAT coin, friend - - find a REAL gold piece in your purse, or the deal's off!" but if the merchant accepts the coin at all, it's still worth its stated face value, except in transactions where both parties privately agree otherwise [contracts sometimes specify "to be paid in lawful coin of Cormyr" or another realm or city]), but alterations to coins don't affect acceptability at all when we're discussing hole-punching or even bisecting that's done officially by the realm or by a regional ruler.

In effect, you're seeing merchants acting collectively to establish the equivalent of a "gold standard."

My comments that you've quoted allude to the acceptability of coins to an individual for his or her lasting hoard or treasure cache - - in other words, taking into account what will PROBABLY be most acceptable for the longest time, or yield the most return if melted down. Yes, if you drill a hole in a modern coin, you'll probably affect its value and acceptability, because such alterations aren't generally considered acceptable in the marketplace. Not so in the Realms.

And bonne année to you, from the wilds of eastern Ontario! :} Ah, the bistros of your city; I remember them fondly...

So saith Ed.

So there you have it: two lightning-swift answers for scribes! Enjoy!

love to all,


December 31, 2005: Hi, scribes! This time Ed replies to Dargoth's observations about Larloch: "I got the impression from Ed that Larloch is suffering from "Jergal" syndrome: i.e. nothing's a challenge anymore. Ed's response also seems to suggest that Larloch's main defence (outside of his spells and hordes of undead) is to not "offend" anybody. Off the top of my head I can think of a few people or groups who might want him gone. Church of Kelemvor: Larloch is probably the oldest undead that has cheated death (incidently how come Larloch never turned into a Demi-Lich he has to be old enough by now).

Warlock's Crypt contains a veritable army of undead, and while liches don't need to eat, vampires and ghouls, wights, etc. do. How is Larloch feeding them all? If his undead army is preying on the Settlements around Warlock's Crypt for food, then it's likely to make the locals think that Ravensloft might be a better place to live then settlements around the Troll Hills!"

Ed speaks:

Dargoth, George Krashos is quite correct in his postulation that "Larloch has many if not most of his undead minions in some sort of stasis to be used when needed. In other words, Warlock's Crypt might have Larloch and a dozen monster skeletons moving around to do the heavy lifting in a 'normal day. Of course, when the Larloch Slayers adventuring band turns up on his doorstep that's when a whole heap of tons of scads of lots of undead 'wake up' and move in."

So, no, there aren't constant foraging bands of marauding undead fanning out from Warlock's Crypt and then shuttling back again.

How does he achieve mass stasis for his servitor undead? New spells of his own devising, plus some magics seized or stolen from others.

You're quite correct in thinking Larloch feels few challenges, these days, but you're misreading him and Jergal, both of whom (as will soon be revealed) are playing quite separate but deeper games. Think of my constant comments about Elminster manipulating people. Now, if you were incredibly powerful and had been around for centuries, what sort of entertainment would you seek?

I also think that your comment "Larlochs main defence (outside of his spells and hordes of Undead) is to not "offend" anybody" is looking at matters from quite the wrong way. Larloch truly DOESN'T CARE about offending or not offending others. He believes that, in most situations, unsubtle uses of power are beneath him, and are in fact signs of weakness and immaturity. He's almost (note that "almost") past caring at all about defending himself, and certainly doesn't avoid doing certain things for fears it might goad some mortal or mortals into taking actions against him.

We impose our D&D games on the Realms, but should not think of the Realms purely in game terms: having attained and become bored with great magical personal power, successful long-term lichdom [why hasn't he started to crumble, or become a demi-lich? he has his own unique and "better" lichdom spells and processes, as well as many other necromantic spells, such as the mass undead stasis spells that keep his armies offstage, and the spells that give him such perfect control over other liches], and ruling power, Larloch is no longer particularly interested in them - - gamers who think of him as power-hungry, or as a foe who should be attacked just because he exists and is powerful, are thinking of their own PC adventurers as bullies who must conquer anyone who stands up to them, or anyone they notice and deem powerful. It's the old "he's a potential threat who might wake up at any time and become a real problem, so he must be eliminated now, on our terms" vs. "Don't poke the sleeping tiger; better and far more responsible to let him lie" argument.

It's not so much that he's avoiding a high public profile to avoid trouble, as it is that he now sees brute-force actions that impose his will on local lands and politics (and thus earn him that high profile) as distastefully unsubtle. He's not defending himself by avoiding offending others so much as he's not interested in doing the sorts of things that offend others (except those who deliberately intrude on his privacy, like bands of adventurers).

When REALMS OF ELVES comes out, you'll get a few glimpses of Larloch that may broaden your view of him. (I'll be interested to see how many gamers on various boards will be so simple-minded that they'll construe "he's a weakling" or "he obviously wants to die for good" or even "he's portrayed as stupid because of how he uses his liches in battle" from what they read in that tale of mine, "Tears So White"). Please have a read when that book's released, and then ask me about Larloch again. I will still, of course, avoid discussing his future fate directly, but hopefully we can hammer out a clearer picture for all of what his essential character is, these days, and "what makes him tick."

So saith Ed.

Interesting. VERY interesting. BTW, one of my characters met Larloch, in the 'home' Realms campaign... and lived.

love to all,


December 31, 2005: Hello, all. Ed is right-ready with the swift answers again (guess his family isn't letting him sleep in at all!), so here we go:

To Steven, old friend: may 2006 be the best yet for you! Here's to New York Times bestseller stardom, new digs, that overdue harem, and classy new wheels: may they all descend upon you in spades (or just in nice fluffy gift-wrapped boxes, or even wearing nothing but a smile and a bow around their necks). Come up and see us sometime!

Blueblade, yes, you have been very good, waiting until the agreed-upon deadline and all. :} So here for all tender ears is the explanation: it was the result of a charity auction, won by the lovely lass in question. She'd agreed to attend a function dressed thus, and to bring "a famous author," too, but was getting cold feet and unable to find said scribe. I agreed to feign fame and stardom, and (if she could get the duds, which I'd pay for) go with her dressed just as she was, if that would make her feel better. She accepted, and it worked: she got such a hoot out of watching folks react to me that she was no longer self-conscious about her own appearance. And, no, beyond a kiss and hug, we did not celebrate amorously, being both married. Her husband's face was worth seeing, though.

Actually, we're both married (to other partners than each other) NOW. She only just got married, right after Christmas (the only church booking time she could manage, I gather), so that was the reason for the deadline. So her husband of "now" was just her betrothed, then.

Jamallo Kreen, there are indeed coin-collectors among the wealthy; nobility (and wealthy merchants aspiring to become nobility, in particular), collect and display all sorts of things as trophies of their wealth and wide interests and influence. And sages consider EVERYTHING valid fields of study, but no one else does. :}

So saith Ed.

Who will return with proper Realmslore replies in 2006, if not sooner.

love to all!


December 31, 2005: Ed has e-sent me a reply to Scarabeus, so here it is:

Scarabeus, my pleasure. Keep asking, and I'll keep answering (sometimes a particular answer takes months or even years, but I fully intend, if I live long enough, to get around to answering them all).

I'm afraid I haven't that many juicy stories re. the bistros. My wife and I spent a lovely tenday there, one winter years ago, staying in a bed & breakfast that fronts (or fronted; I assume it's still there) on the square that has the Chateau on the east, the American embassy on the west, a row of nice old houses (including where we stayed) on the north, and the cliff that drops down to the lower Old Town to the south. We did the usual touristy things, gawking at lovely cathedrals (though we don't happen to be Catholic), shopping, eating, strolling the steep streets, more shopping, and (ahem) more eating. Oh, and we loved the museum where Montcalm's skull is kept and a lot of pioneer-era beds, etc. I taught the lovely old nun who looked after the upstairs a new way of playing solitaire, which delighted her, and we played until after closing time (when her superiors had to shoo us out; they tried to scold her but she insisted on starting to show them the solitaire I'd shown her).

I grew up and was taught French up through high school in Ontario, which means my vocabulary stinks, my grammar is non-existent, and I can follow speech only slowly. However, I'm afraid my face betrayed my mirth when I stood beside an American tourist struggling with a phrase-book, who painstakingly and haltingly announced to one of the tour guides: "Thank you. You have very beautiful tits." So did hers, as she sweetly thanked him in flawless English, and added in rapid-fire French, "And I'm sure your balls are also exquisite to behold, monsieur."

He nodded and grinned in triumphant non-comprehension, leaving the tour guide and myself grinning at each other, and my wife (whose [Parisian] French is very good, the result of having been taught it at a good English girls' school during the Second World War) biting my coat to keep from shrieking with laughter.

Nothing more salacious or interesting than that, I'm afraid, aside from the observation that some bistros have VERY good wine cellars but that some of them serve (shudder) spruce beer, that the university students are even more unbuttoned than their Ontario counterparts, and that I put my TSR education to very good use showing one stripper how to burlesque with a feather boa (as opposed to merely flinging it off), demonstrating the smooth techniques I learned from Karen Boomgaarden.

And I'll be spending New Year's Eve at home, surrounded by family, who will be snoring, drinking cider, or watching hockey games as I try to get some game writing done for the first time in days. I sympathize with you, having to work, but drunken binges are very overrated. Tipsy nude ballroom dancing to a Guy Lombardo-style band, now, THAT would be worth seeing. :}

So saith Ed.

Ahem. Proper Realmslore forthcoming soon.

love and a special (purr) thanks to our host, Alaundo,

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