Alaundo's Library

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The work contained on this page has been given by various authors and game designers of the Forgotten Realms (past or present). This material has been collated by Kuje from the Candlekeep Forum and other sources.

Lore from the Sages - Pre-2005

Ed Greenwood, Steven Schend,
James Lowder, Eric L Boyd

Roleplaying Notes: A Glimpse of Manshoon
by Ed Greenwood

As of 1367 DR, the First Lord of Zhentil Keep was a Lawful Evil human male 19th level Wizard (2nd Edition AD&D). The head of the Zhentarim and de facto ruler of Zhentil Keep, Manshoon is a cruel, calculating man, capable of any treachery, and coldly confident of his power. His looks and manner reflect this.

Manshoon most often wears stylish, sweeping black calf-length robes with a shoulder yoke, bracer-like cuffed sleeves, and an open V-front, gathered in at the waist with a wide cummerbund belt. The back of his neck is protected by a stiff, raised semi-circular stand-up cowl-collar. The robes have magical powers, including invisibility, levitate, fly, fire shield (the 'chill' version of this spell; the robes themselves are automatically unharmed by all heat and flame), and dimension door, and Manshoon also wears magical rings (types unknown, but various witnesses attest that one can fire a profuse number of magic missiles, and the other seems to be a ring of spell storing devoted to healing and anti-poison--including poisonous gases--magics) on his slim fingers. He also bears a rod of rulership at his belt, and often carries a staff of power (thought to have been slightly customized to his spell preferences) as well. His undergarments are of soft black silk (left rough, not shining and noisy), and he favors black bucket-top boots fitted with interior sheaths for several long, needle-slim (and reputedly poisoned) daggers.

Manshoon stands 6' tall, but is fairly slim, looking youthful and vigorous. He wears his glossy black hair slightly shorter than shoulder-length, and is clean-shaven. His eyes are dark and usually gleaming with malicious amusement, and his features fine, sophisticated, and usually expressing slightly amused disdain for the world around.

Since the time of the tale "So High A Price" (published in the Realms of Infamy anthology), which occurred in 1334 DR, Manshoon's appearance has changed little. He has lost a trifle of his former reckless, arrogant youthful edge, and now possesses more polished smoothness than most men ever acquire.

Typical Manshoon utterances (always in a soft, pleasant, matter-of-fact voice):

"I can't be bothered wasting spells on them. Hang them, for the citizens to watch."

"These conclusions need bother us?"

"And the approach you prefer?"

"How deeply touching. Slay them."

"I fear so."

"A moment, good sir, of the brief time-by my command-remaining to you."

"Shall I decree it, or are you sensitive enough to heed a mere suggestion?"

"You'll understand, I trust, that as long as I am Lord here, I can allow no diabolical plans to succeed but my own."

Mailing list reply from October 2003.

Alexandra Never-Late-For-Viands, you're right. Bisexuality is common (and only frowned upon where local history or the dominance of particular clerics make it so; some faiths in the Realms have a tight universal dogma, whilst others have an "individual major temples do their own thing" character, and individual clergy may decree all sorts of things/follow all manner of whims in order to meddle in local politics [for example: the priest Thorogh wants to stop a local lord marrying his cousin because he has his own candidate for lord's wife in mind, so he invents a "holy decree" to prohibit cousin-marriage, and even cousins residing too close to each other/having much contact with each other; some deities don't care if their priests do such things, so long as the end result is to increase the influence of the church). Sexual relations in general have been a taboo subject (another example: in an early DRAGON article dealing with matters Arthurian, the explanation for the breakup of the fellowship of the Round Table was made very difficult after the editorial decision that Lancelot and Guinevere couldn't be described as "lovers"), and I see the Elversult FRCS entry as being a "let's be politically correct and give the Realms something for everyone, but VERY quietly, so the bigots won't notice" approach.

As for marriages: again, it depends on the faith and (see above) the individual church. Formal marriages (i.e. with written contracts and witnesses, as opposed to a simple private ceremony followed by a party if the couple want it/can afford it) are rare among those who don't have significant wealth or land to pass on.

Some faiths assume a marriage is forever (most of these have been amended to "until death," to prevent undead terrorizing the living by insisting on returning to the house and climbing into bed with them), but most ARE, as you speculate, based on "for as long as love lasts." In some places and faiths, this leads to a swinging lifestyle, but in most places, the public disapproves of those who abandon spouses without good moral reason (the only difference I see between most of the Heartlands of the Realms and the prevalent real-world modern Western society view is that in the Realms, short-term or seldom-consummated affairs aren't seen as sufficient "moral reason" to end a marriage). Spouse beating, however, IS. One is expected to remain with a spouse, and tend them in illness or dying. (And yes, there are a fair number of caravan merchants who have wives in various cities, usually without one knowing about the others, though a few even write back and forth, or journey with the merchant from time to time, to visit each other.)

Formal marriages always have SIMPLE clauses outlining what happens to lands and goods when a union ends, and many weddings involving nobility insist on both parties formally and in writing (with priests using magic to make sure the participants aren't being magically compelled to act in a certain way, blackmailed, or coerced by drugs or other means) ending the marriage, not just one--so spouses who hate each other can keep each other bound in marriage (unless one manages to have the other killed, a risky proceeding because in Cormyr, Sembia, Waterdeep, Silverymoon, and most other "civilized" places, the slayer of a spouse forfeits all property to the government).

Again, there are faiths (those closely tied to nature in particular) who conduct and recognize both "forever" and "short-term" marriages (usually "two summers," "three summers" or "ten summers"), which may of course be renewed. The clergy of Siamorphe from time to time conduct "overnight" marriages, allowing one-night stands to be legal and divinely approved, but always publicly renounce this practice when angry kin complain to governing authorities... only to quietly resume it again, elsewhen.

And now it's time to plunge right back into my "formal" Realms work, so there'll be other Realms products in future for you folks to pick apart. :}

As Torm says, "Fare thee well for now, and keep SOMETHING high until we meet again!"

Mailing List reply for October 2004:

Hi, Jeff! Thanks for sending me all the Cormyr postings. Here's a response for the list:

Before I weigh into this very interesting converse on Cormyr, let me say how delighted I still get, after all these years, when folks discuss my creation so passionately. It's an honour to listen in.

So please don't think I'm angry when someone posts something I disagree with, or slams this or that detail or concept of the Realms. I'm pleased that you all care enough about the Realms to form and argue opinions.

Some sort of updated coverage of Cormyr is needed, but when such a thing ultimately appears, its contents may well not match what I say hereafter. However, until then, my blatherings are, by the Realms agreement, canon by definition (I'm aware that some folks disagree with this, but, well, too bad: just as Tolkien was THE expert on Middle Earth and McCaffrey is the source for Pern, I'm the guy for the Realms, something that would be accepted without question if there were no Realms publications except my fiction writings and the Realms wasn't a shared world - - and something that's enshrined as part of the shared world agreement that brought you the published Realms, so like it or not, we're all stuck with it).

It may seem ridiculous to speak of what's "correct" and "not correct" about an imaginary land painted in colourfully imaginary details, but I'm going to try to do so. In fact, I'd better, because the sequence and scope of published Realms products thus far have, somehow, made it irritatingly difficult to convey the full 'feel' of Cormyr.

It may surprise some who read this to learn that I think the Charles Phipps interpretation of the Azuth/Elminster conversation at the beginning of Temptation is pretty close to accurate (with two important exceptions).

The problem is the next step.

Too many folks on this list aren't "thinking Realms" (considering how creatures of and in the Realms would think) when they view Realms events and situations. In this case: faith. The whole point of BELIEVING in gods (in Realms terms, passionately worshipping deities one knows to be real because they 'walk among us') is that both Azuth and Elminster would come to know this about Mystra and love and serve her ANYWAY.

This is where Charles gets it wrong (one of the exceptions I noted earlier, the other being the idea that Mystra doesn't love El): the notion that somehow Azuth and El both lack the 'dignity' to leave Mystra. Their faith IS their dignity. A modern real-world Western and essentially secular individual might have a hard time accepting this, but someone of Faerun wouldn't.

This 'unable to see the Realms except through modern eyes' viewpoint governs or influences many of the posted comments on Cormyr, too.

Before I wade into those, let me just briefly deal with the folly of equating 'Mystra as manipulator' with 'Mystra doesn't love her tools.' Of COURSE she does. Not only are they her champions, but in the case of Elminster, he's the link she desperately needs, and clings to, to retain some memory of her onetime mortality: her sense of self. To lose him is to lose her most important anchor (something even her successor realized - - hence the later Mystra's behaviour in ELMINSTER IN HELL). Azuth was her former mortal anchor, and his achievement of divinity changed him enough that she could no longer use him for that - - and discovered just how desperately she missed it.

Right, on to Cormyr (as I continue to ramble). And as usual, the chief focus of disputes are Azoun, Alusair, and the nobles.

I hope to soon show you a little more of Alusair's character (including, yes, her sexual character) in a future Realms publication, and more of all of these matters in the Knights of Myth Drannor trilogy.

Charles is right again when he says that Azoun and Alusair are/were great rulers and "stomped on the nobility." However, I disagree with his use of "but" in front of "stomped," and his generalized use of "the nobility." As Jerry Davis correctly pointed out, the nobles aren't monolithic: they hold all sorts of different degrees of loyalty and personal like and dislike of the ruler and various Obarskyrs (and for that matter, each other). Inevitably, Realms publications are concerned with adventure and therefore strife, and tend to focus on treason and 'bad' nobles and disputes: by and large, you don't get to see all that much in print of the (vast majority of) 'boring' loyal, law-abiding nobles.

Both Azoun and Alusair stomped on PARTICULAR nobles, usually for blatant treason or for defying the Crown in times when the realm was in crisis. If one looks back at the history of Cormyr, one can easily make the case for Azoun and his younger daughter being far more patient and gentle with ah, 'overly independent' nobles than many previous monarchs.

The nobles can't force any sort of Magna Carta, for two reasons: they aren't a monolithic group (their own feuds and rivalries, between this noble house and that, are far stronger than their disagreements with the Crown), and the Court (the centralized bureaucracy, supported by the War Wizards) are running affairs in Cormyr in such a way that the nobles have no real beefs except what their personal greed and grudges engender: in other words, they don't have enough common, strong discontent to ever rise up and conspire all together.

One poster views Cormyr's nobles as being on the verge of overthrowing the Obarskyrs because the "downsizing" of two noble families has brought home to them that their hereditary rights are threatened. A Sembian might well see things this way, and so think every second noble patriarch of Cormyr can be sweet-whispered into open rebellion, but that Sembian would be wrong.

All of the Mages Royal (Vangerdahast and his predecessors) have taken great pains to structure the laws of Cormyr, with full support from the heralds, to make it bluntly, explicitly clear that all nobles hold their lands and titles "at the favour of" the Crown. They have personal rights of treatment (the reason why Azoun exiled the noble relatives of actual traitors, instead of beheading them all - - which would have been wiser, for personal security reasons, and also the reason why he turned a blind eye to their hastily packing up and departing with almost all of their wealth and mobile goods, instead of sending Purple Dragons to seize it all at swordpoint), yes, but any monarch of Cormyr can disinherit them on a whim.

(Kings of Cormyr have done it before Azoun; he wasn't breaking any new ground, or law for that matter, when he 'broke' the Bleths and the Cormaerils. There's also a tradition of some disinherited noble individuals winning back their personal standing by their demonstrated loyalty to the realm or the Crown.)

Of course, that's how the War Wizards gain the support of the nobles who'd otherwise hate and fear them enough to slay them at every covert chance they got: we, the War Wizards, are YOUR defense against an angry king, or a bad king, or just an Obarskyr who happens to hate your tripes.

"I like to give credit though and view if nothing else, Faerun is actually DIFFERENT in morality and not existing in a modern times world morality like so many other fantasy worlds."

Now THIS poster has hit the nail on the proverbial head. Exactly. Judge the Realms by its own codes, noy by our own modern real-world ones (precisely because so many folks here and elsewhere hold a wide variety of different views, and end up arguing over the Realms in part because they use words to mean different things, and start speaking from their own differing world-views). I fully admit that sometimes it's hard to glean from published Realmslore precisely what those morals are, in a particular place in the Realms, and OF COURSE every DM can cast aside such things to run their own campaign version of Waterdeep or the Dales or Cormyr differently, but the published "shared" version does express, in however confused and fragmented a manner, belief and ethics systems different than our own. (Trust me: I put most of them there.) It's a subtle layer that can readily be ignored by those who want their Realms more clear-cut and simple for their home games - - but should never be ignored by sages of Realmslore (including Realms authors and game designers).

The posted comment about Alusair having more "kingly" qualities than her father is an example of this. 'Kingly' by whose standards? Father and daughter were quite alike when young, aside from obvious differences in gender and temper (Azoun has more charm and can keep his cool a trifle longer, and Alusair is more short-tempered and impatient with honeyed words), but Azoun was tempered by Filfaeril's diplomacy and Vangerdahast's dealings, whereas Alusair (as many a child does) rebelled against them. Azoun learned to win more battles with honey than with vinegar, whereas Alusair rejected all the petty, empty words of Court and noble etiquette (of the elder nobles of her father's generation) in favour of riding to hunt and fight and make love and rough-house with the young nobles of her age. She reveled in the opportunity to brawl in actual fistfights with her 'Blades,' and they reveled in their opportunities to not only bed the woman they came to regard as a friend and their rightful social and battlefield leader, but to shape her character - - and so shape the future of the realm to be 'better' than the velvet-tongued intrigues of their own parents (whom THEY were rebelling against).

For his part, Vangey approved, as did the senior War Wizards. Oh, Alusair and her Blades had to be watched carefully and constantly to make sure they didn't fall under the influences of the wrong people, but with that precaution met, they were a breath of fresh air thrusting the nobility of the realm (over the years to come) away from decadence and increasing 'unfitness' to more intelligently and energetically support order, prosperity, and good governance throughout the realm.

In short, the Blades represented a near-future nobility who wouldn't all be deterimental-to-commoners drones or veiled traitors (some of whom pursued intrigues as personal entertainment, caring nothing for the good of the realm but not caring much about the harm they might do to it, either). They'd be men who'd roughed it in the wilderlands, been wounded and rescued by their fellows, done messy and demeaning work with their hands and backs - - and so could 'walk the walk' rather than just talking about it.

Interestingly (given the converse about Alusair possibly being barren), in my original Realmslore (never touched by TSR because of the Code of Conduct, of course), Vangey told Alusair just that when she started to 'run wild with the boys,' precisely because he didn't want any awkwardness among her partners over such thoughts as: "gee, I might get her pregnant and then the King will literally slay me, only SLOWLY" or "heh-heh: if I get her with child AND get her to love me, I'm damn near 'next king of Cormyr,' aren't I?" to arise. She could sweep such problems away at any time by admitting that she couldn't have children. (Vangey was, of course, applying magical contraception to Alusair from a very young age, without her knowing it.)

Alusair does take commoners as lovers (she's no snob who only likes dashing young nobles), and prefers physically strong men, but Vangey and the other War Wizards (such as Laspeera) have been subtly steering her into building and maintaining her Blades over the years. Not eschewing dalliances with commoners, but letting her see, sometimes through planted dream-visions, how important and glorious it could be to forge a fellowship with nobles with whom she could defend the realm in years to come.

The other half of the 'kingly' comment puzzles me. Azoun seems "like a Viking ruling over Agincourt"? Now, I PRESUME this doesn't mean a 'Northman raider conquering a bloody battlefield where French knights have fallen riding vainly into the volleys of arrows sent by English yeomen archers,' and that the poster really meant to say something like 'a brawling barbarian lording it over sophisticated, cultured nobles.'

If that's the case, I must take great issue with it. The poster seems to be rooting a perception of Azoun (as some sort of barbarian) in a modern-world moral judgement about Azoun's habit of bedding good-looking females who came within reach.

Now, Azoun's appetites may have been legendary, but his BEHAVIOUR was nothing unusual for the nobles of Cormyr, many of whom, male and female, also behave like this. It's not to everyone's taste, and there are dignified and 'proper' ways of romancing and ways of flirtation and seduction that are seen as less than tasteful, but among the nobles, who have access to very reliable herbal contraception (and magical contraception, too, via the War Wizards), 'swinging' is not only tolerated but expected. What nobles have to guard against is unintended, unwanted offspring who will have a claim on the family titles and lands (i.e. children born out of wedlock as a result of dalliances with individuals from other noble families).

The royals are an exception: EVERY noble family wants more ties with the ruling Obarskyrs, because such exalt their position in the pecking order and their influence at Court. Moreover, except for those he'd made personal enemies of, Azoun IV was VERY popular among both commoners and nobles. He was a handsome, charismatic man, dashing at feasts and on the battlefield alike. He was seen as fair and just, and most importantly as understanding and CARING about every one of his subjects, high and low. He had the knack of getting gruff old men, scared young lads, and worn-ragged housewives alike to sit down and spill their innermost opinions and feelings to, without fearing royal rage or reprisals. He often helped the humble, and always dealt with the common folk fairly.

Quite simply, the realm loved him.

Nobles older than Azoun IV sniffed and grumbled about him in the usual 'look down our noses at everything' manner, of course, and certain nobles - - those he'd exiled and dispossessed, in particular - - hated or disliked him. However, throughout his reign, Azoun had a handy focus for popular dislike: Vangerdahast.

The Royal Magician was the man most folk hated and feared, if they felt ill will towards the Crown at all. Azoun was very likable, so it was easy for folk to blame unpopular things he said and did on the influence (perhaps even mind-governing spells!) of Vangerdahast.

So it was almost a matter of pride among female nobles AND their male relations to have a touch or four of "Azoun's favour" among the family babies. Those who didn't want such things, and who had any inkling of the ahem, bestowal of his seed, could call on the contraceptive means available to all nobles (the same means Filfaeril, Tanalasta, Alusair, and Azoun himself could all call upon, given proper prior opportunities). Hence the lack of any "scare" about Azoun (or Alusair, if one suspected her claims to be 'barren' to be so much diplomatic piffle) bedding one's own favoured noble son or daughter.

The posted assumption about Chauntea's blessing making Tanalasta very likely to conceive at her first bedding by Rowen (low Cormyrean slang for this is 'ploughing' and nobles call it 'riding,' by the way, for fairly obvious reasons) is correct.

Though some 'oldblood' nobles may choose to sniff at the Obarskyrs as behaving like uncultured barbarians (which usually means a particular Obarskyr has made a decree or treaty, or consorted with someone, that the looking-down-their-own-nose noble disagrees with), no Cormyrean alive today (with the possible exception of some long-lived elves who keep low public profiles) truly believes the Obarskyrs are barbarians. Rather, the Obarskyrs ARE the Realm, its founders and its central bloodline. So Azoun IV (who gave his life fighting for all Cormyr, as the War Wizards - - a VERY effective bunch of propagandists, when it suits them -- were very careful to make clear to the entire kingdom, complete with hastily-composed ballads) is an admired hero, more like a revered rock star than any sort of 'barbarian.' Note that I'm NOT saying he was perfect: Ben is quite right to remind us of that and of the legitimate grievances any 'good' character can end up having against a ruler; I'm speaking now of the public perception of Azoun IV.

In short, Azoun was very much NOT hated by every noble. Quite the reverse, in fact: he was gallant to the ladies, a good drinking buddy to some of the guys, a sympathetic ear to everyone, an admired war leader, and quietly loaned a lot of the "crusty old brigade" nobles funds or quietly forgave their debts in return for "the noble service" they'd rendered the realm. He was NOT an unsubtle bear of a man, nor stupid. He was very shrewd, though yes, I believe Alusair is a trifle smarter than her father was. Filfaeril is the smartest of them all, by a long rod.

Which brings us to the "oh my gosh, look at all of randy Azoun's bastards - - Cormyr totters on the brink of civil war!" discussion. Ascending the throne of Cormyr always involves support from the War Wizards and significant nobles if there is no clear legitimate Obarskyr heir.

The moment there is an Obarskyr heir on the scene (assuming that person is seen as healthy enough in mind and body to function as a monarch), everyone, from guilds to Purple Dragons to dungsweepers, will agree that the Obarskyr heir is "the only true King" (or Queen). They might not agree with much enthusiasm, but the alternative is far worse. Remember: no shrewd noble can contemplate a rebellion or civil war as something they'll likely win or even survive. Not with the War Wizards as an integral part of the realm, and Purple Dragons around who have personal loyalty to Alusair and to the memory of Azoun IV. And the nobles are 'on top' in the status quo: any attack on the status quo threatens them more than anyone else.

Rather than shattering your own beloved homeland in a bloody war, it's much more desirable to befriend and aid the Steel Regent, earn her respect and approval, and be as close as possible to Azoun V as he grows up, so as to win HIS respect and friendship. And everyone can see that Alusair's TRYING to become more diplomatic, and to do what's best for the realm. For one thing, she visits scores of places and directly asks the advice of everyone, nobles and commoners alike, wanting to know what angers them WITHOUT filtering everything through 'local lords' and courtiers. She makes promises and keeps them. It's taking a long time for some folks to accept the 'new Alusair,' but most of them see her as "the best thing the gods sent us, if they had to take her father away from us."

So having scores of Azoun IV's bastards running around is seen (by Vangey and others) as "strengthening the bloodlines of the Realm," not "thrusting the realm straight into civil war." If there were only one or two bastards, perhaps they'd represent a threat to the current holder of the throne (if backed by the right private armies and handlers, possibly traitor-nobles or ambitious Sembians). However, there are more than a hundred bastard sons and daughters of Azoun IV, and most noble families have at least one - - so they all offset each other by their very wealth of numbers. And yes, Vangey and all of the senior War Wizards (not just Laspeera and Caladnei) know very well who and where ALL of Azoun's bastards are. Not to mention those of Bhereu, Thomdor, Rhigaerd II, and so on and so forth. :}

What has weakened Cormyr so much in these last few years is the war against the Devil Dragon (and the ghazneths and goblins). So many able-bodied fighting men and women lost their lives that the realm lies vulnerable to poor harvests and starvation (not enough folk left to tend and harvest enough fields), to Zhent and outlaw raiders out of the Stonelands (particularly once Shade appeared and such lurkers stopped thinking of the Stonelands as their pivate, cozy little impenetrable stronghold), and from various Sembian-sponsored attempts to grab land and set up (through bribery) puppet rulers, Court officials, and nobles. Add to this the ambitions of nobles (and exiled former nobles, operating primarily out of Westgate) seeking to gain power or take control of the infant Azoun V and thereby rule of the kingdom, and you have the present tense situation. (My REALMS OF SHADOW short story should serve to illustrate potential threats, and ELMINSTER'S DAUGHTER show something of the 'business as usual, conspiracies as usual' tenor of life in Cormyr.)

The retirement of Vangerdahast has left Alusair seemingly alone to guide Cormyr (I say "seemingly" because to think thus is to seriously underestimate Laspeera, Caladnei, Filfaeril, Alaphondar, and the Highknights such as Rhauligan), and so everyone with an interest in a weakened Cormyr, or in controlling its ruler, is taking a keen look at the Forest Kingdom. Such gazers would of course include various Red Wizard and Zhent factions, trading costers, and Sembian nobles.

(It's also fair to say that Caladnei is very much "learning on the job" and a much weaker Royal Magician than Vangey was, that Alaphondar the Sage is about as far as one can get from a strong man of action, and that there are frighteningly few veteran Highknights still alive after the Dragon War. A competent War Wizard gone rogue would be a REAL problem for Cormyr, just now.)

Alusair'ss 'wanton' behaviour has earned her the disapproval of the older, more conservative nobles (NOT her Blades or the female nobles of the same age, most of whom were very glad to have Alusair take the 'randy pranksome pesterers with wandering hands' out of their bodices and from under their skirts at every revel or 'private' moment), of the city gossips who delight in disapproving of darn near EVERYTHING, and of the more conservative commoners (who DO have to worry about unwanted offspring, or may follow faiths that don't smile upon frequent and casual lovemaking), but that doesn't make her "unpopular." It's more that her abrasiveness has made her a lot of enemies, and her ways have made most people wary of her. That's a long way from all Cormyr wanting her gone and overthrown as Regent. Now, if she were to publicly butcher Azoun V and announce she was now Queen forever, that would be VERY different. Nor does the loss of Tilverton reflect badly on Alusair - - because many folk of Cormyr think of it as some foreign fort or other, occupied by the Purple Dragons "just to keep the Zhents off our backs," not as part of the realm. Unless you travel to and from the northern Dales, Tilverton is just "that rough and ragged place in Tilver's Gap," that Azoun's troops occupied as a protectorate. In the wake of the war against the Devil Dragon, with the Purple Dragons a pale shadow of their former strength, it merely makes sense to pull back from such outposts to rebuild Arabel and "guard our cabbages right outside our own doors." (Jason quite properly reminded us of its recent annexation and how folk in the heart of Cormyr would regard its loss.)

Arabel and Marsember have traditionally been centers of undercover dissent, but with some of the nobles who built such feelings into undercover 'secret societies' and the like gone, this has largely lapsed into the age-old rivalries between cities ("Ah, them as sleeps in Suzail think the sun rises and sets out o' their own backsides, an' never think we of Arabel might have two wits of our own, in all our city!"). The folk of Arabel love the staunchly loyal Myrmeen Lhal, and the fierce energy with which Dowager Queen Filfaeril oversaw the rebuilding of Arabel, "the gem of our realm," has touched and mollified Arabellans. The strong garrison has remained there, and for the time being, I'd scratch Arabel off any list of 'places that'll rebel the moment an Obarskyr back is turned.' Marsember, now, is a different matter: exiled nobles are just across the water in Westgate, and all the old smuggling and slave-running concerns that want all authority gone or swept in confusion are still lurking. With Sembian investments in their pockets, yet.

One last thing for now: one poster makes the mistaken assumption that commoners aren't trained in the arts of war or familiar with weapons. Not only are knives, scythes, and the tools of hunting (slings, javelins, bows, and boar-spears) all weapons many farm-folk are very familiar with, Purple Dragons are encouraged to train their children (both genders) and mates in how to raise the alarum, how to defend their home, where locally to run and hide and gather, and the basics of armed fighting. That's different from allowing everyone to swagger around with weapons at their belts, yes, but the original 'unfamiliar with weapons' assumption is incorrect.

I'm sure these comments will stir up many a response. Have at ye, fellow fans of the Realms.:}

On September 21, 2004, Steven Schend said:

"That's because I made them up for LANDS OF INTRIGUE. Look to the Omlarandin mountain range of Tethyr for info on omlars (including the regional variant name for displacer beasts as omlar-cats). Don't recall how much info I left therein about it, but lemme it is...

"The name Omlarandin is a pidgin Tethyrian word that means, depending on context, "sparkling," "mysterious," or "magical." It is actually a corruption of the dwarven olaramorndin, or "magical peaks." The name (in all contexts) refers to rock crystals found within the hills and mountains here. Once thought to be light-colored emeralds but proven to be too soft (closer in hardness and color to aquamarine), the "omlars" were found to be compatible with magic and easily absorbed enchantments. While few omlars have been discovered in centuries, there are still a few that are found, and these precious stones fetch incredible sums from wizards in Saradush, Duhlnarim, Llorbauth, and Zazesspur (price rising with distance)."

On December 14, 2004 Steven Schend said:

Easily enough done...

The eastern and western gates are the least impressive on the walls of Shoonach as those were the gates used by slaves and commoners. The Fedhiyajar areas are all farms and essential services you don't want near the city (offal-carters and dung sweepers carting their "wares" out to the farms for fertilizer, etc.).

Mumlukkar was the primary living area for many of the slaves and their families (born into slavery). Don't expect much there aside from mud brick huts and the crudest of conditions. The one reason any non-slave went here was that this was the main location for horse breeding and trading, cart and wheel repair, and harness making (for the Shoon, while recognizing horses as essential, sneered at this and made it slaves' work, "for all true nobles and Shoon travel on their own strength or their own magics" (and due to Shoon II's prejudices and inability to ride well, this is why flying carpets--even as small as a prayer rug to seat one person--became a normal mode of transport among the nobility).

Iltakar was the soliders' city--all the military strength of the Imperium right up front and near the Main Gate, so visitors were reminded immediately of the power of Shoon upon entry to Shoonach. This'll have the bulk of smithies and armorers and weaponsmiths, not to mention garrisons and training arenas and tracks for horse breaking or racing.

Debukkher is a necropolis. Its sole purpose is to prepare, preserve, and inter the dead. What utilitarian buildings are here are hidden among all the opulent tombs and memorials and gardens of statues (and mausoleums filled with treasures and dead). General note--no farms grow within the perimeter of those outer roads that wrap around Debukkher (on the map sheet). Those who work in the Necropolis have small villages clinging to the walls surrounding it, most collecting near its seven gates/arches. No barring entry into a City of the Dead, after all...

If you're a merchant, you can use any of the gates, but the "correct" entrance and place for you is Agis, the river entrance and the main trade area of Shoonach. while there are marketplaces on the Mount, in the city, and in Iltakar, they're mere satellites to the trade going on in Agis. Expect to find many warehouses and many open areas for trading carts to gather. Oddly enough, the bulk of the

Most dignitaries and visitors were forced to use the Main Gate to give them the long view of Shoon's power--walking through the military area, a brief view of golden fields, then the opulence and majesty of having to climb the Imperial Mount and walk through the main city--the seat of all governmental and social power in the Imperium. The main city is like most other modern Realmsian cities with a mish-mash of everything from temples to taverns to libraries. Only on the mount are the majority of the buildings given over to noble villas, major temple complexes, and the palaces of the Shoon. In fact, quite literally, the higher up you were in Shoon society, the higher up the mount you lived. Bear in mind that not even the gods have temples that raise them to the level of where the Shoons lived atop the peak.

Hope that bit of lore going from memory and looking at the map helps.

This material is all from Steven Schend and contains both official (in print) realmslore and his unofficial addenda and musings...

The Khelben Arunsun Official Timeline (as far as I'm concerned)

Dates: 414 - 464
Identity: "Arun's Son"
Notes: Goes from birth as first human in a noble elven bloodline; he has no name until his near-death at age 50 in Anauroch.

Timeline Events:

414 Year of Omen Stars

On Higharvestide, Arielimnda, a human ranger, fellow Harper, and wife of Arun Maerdrym, delivers a human son. Since he is human, the boy is not allowed to bear the Maerdrym name. Arun follows an ancient elven custom and does not name the boy, allowing him the freedom to earn a name (and perhaps a place in the clan) later.

426 Year of the Black Dawn

Arun's human son joins students of the Seven Wizards of Myth Drannor as a pupil of Mentor Wintercloak. At age 12, he remains unnamed, though he has a number of nicknames some elves gave him: Biir ("garbage," used by commoner elves) or Zenar ("Less than half," as a nobles' double insult against himself and his half-breed father). His few green elf friends call him Bhin, a word for "young human."

449 Year of the Fledglings

The son of Arun finishes his tutelage under Mentor Wintercloak and leaves Myth Drannor to learn of the world and teach it the ways and magics of the City of Song. Secretly, he also plans on proving his worth to his father's clan and becoming one of the first Harpers outside of Cormanthyr and the eastern lands. He takes the only name he has been called of which he is proud: Arun's Son. He vows to claim his place among the Maerdrym once he has earned a true name.

464 Year of the True Names

While wandering across Anauroch, Arun's Son saves a trio of Evereskan elves from a phaerimm ambush nearly at the cost of his life. Retrieved from death by Mystra, he becomes her Chosen, "as he whom magic, duty, and honor defines." As the Nameless Chosen, he becomes the first human ever to stay among Evereska's glades.

Dates: 464 - 712
Identity: The Nameless Chosen
Notes: Adopts this as his title/"name" as he does not know that Mystra gave him his truename as "he whom duty & honor defines"

Timeline Events:

Campaign #4:
The Woodsheart Wars
A.K.A. "Cormanthyr's Carnage"
Location: All over the forest; focal points around Myth Drannor and within the mythal's interior

Time: Ches - Marpenoth 712 (219 days)
Campaign Victor: Cormanthyr's Elves/Allies

The longest of the campaigns, this operation also has the most objective information to report, despite the wide fronts and constant activity. The bulk of the campaign occurred as skirmishes between small groups of scouts and perimeter patrollers. With the Army of Darkness becoming dug-in within the mythal, it took outside allies and much of the year to uproot them and drive them from the mythal. The brief incursion of the Dalesmen early in this campaign is the only outside support Cormanthyr received during the war, and this lasted only until the Army was removed from the mythal. Whether the Dalesmen allies left of their own accord or were dismissed by elves believing their aid to be unecessary is unknown. After Higharvestide 712 Dalereckoning, the Dalesmen only guarded the fringes of the forest and their own home Dales, with two exceptions: the Dalesmen forces (and those few AWOL War Wizards of Cormyr) sent to the Battle of Snowsblood Trail and Standing Stone's Blood were crucial in gaining a victory after the fall of the limited elven defenders.

Once the Army of Darkness' choke-hold on Myth Drannor is broken early on, much of the campaign concerns forcing the Army of Darkness out of the mythal and east, since south would expose Semberholme. A secondary action during this campaign involved the drive eastward to reestablish the older elven seat at the ruins of Old Elven Court. Arms-Captain Hachaam Selorn led the Fourth Legion and the Eagle Wing cavalry of the Akh`Velahr and the Dragonwing and Wyvernwing of the Akh`Faer as the primary army in charge of reclaiming the area from the drow corruption.

Dawn at Erolith's Knoll
A.K.A.: The Fight atop Erolith's Mound, Rise of the Dales
Dates: Ches 4 - 5
Victor: Cormanthyr's Elves/Allies

This battle centered on and around Erolith's Mound, the burial place of a noted sylvan elf scout and warrior. The battle at Erolith's Knoll saw the counter-invasion of the Elven Woods by a ragtag army of volunteers led by Mindal the warrior, and they stood to help the elves against their monstrous foes. The battle, coordinated by Lady Alais Dree, saw the First Legion of the Army of Darkness pincered between elves on the north and northeast, and Dalesmen on the west. While initially suprised, the Army's superior numbers still allowed them to hold the ground, and the allies faltered in their attacks. The Army decimated the elven troops, ignoring the Dalesmen as nearly ineffectual gnats until the timely arrival of the former armathor Elminster Aumar and the Nameless Mage (both Chosen of Mystra) turned the battle back to the allies' favor. By battle's end, despite losses of more than half the Dalesmen and 20% of the elven cavalry, the Allies of Cormanthyr destroy the 1st Regiment of the Battalion Grievous and the 3rd Regiments of both the Agonists and the Painful. As was their intention, they put the army on the move east and south, skirting them around the city and hopefully out of the mythal.

Battle of the Three Chosen
Dates: Ches 16 - 17
Victor: Cormanthyr's Elves/Allies
Major Deaths: The Icepikes & Ardorstaves Battalions

This battle, as a combined number of skirmishes among the Silverglades south of Myth Drannor, merely kept the First and Second Legions from entrenching themselves and kept moving them along to the east (though some were driven north to either reconnoiter with the Imperious at Oloriil or wander the northern woods. It is notable only as the first known meeting of three of Mystra's Chosen (Elminster Aumar, the Nameless Mage, and the Lady Symrustar Auglamyr) and their destruction of four regiments among the two legions!

A.K.A.: The Second Siege of Myth Drannor, the Nameless Sacrifice, the Chosen's Choice
Dates: Tarsakh 11 - 13
Victor: Cormanthyr's Elves/Allies (tactical); Army of Darkness (emotional). Cormanthyr's victory is in driving the Army of Darkness out of the city, while they claim the victory of forcing the elves to close many gates and the loss of powerful allies and leaders.
Major Deaths: The Nameless Chosen, Wollys Silvershield (high priest of Selûne); Colonel Cvor "the Whipmaster"

The battle at Silversgate is one of the most storied and heroic tales of the entire Weeping War, as one who was denied his name by Myth Drannor apparently gave his life in its cause. In short, the Army of Darkness was driven east, and its northern and southern factions merged and punched through the elven defenders on the western front as they passed, allowing them a second charge on Myth Drannor. The bulk of this battle occurs among the streets of the old city Cormanthor, and its climax centers on the Silversgate, the magical gate to Silverymoon Pass and a link to the sister cities of Ascalhorn and Silverymoon.

While the military fought bravely on all fronts, this battle was primarily one of magic and thus spearheaded by Spell-Major Josidiah Starym, Elminster, Symrustar Auglamyr, and the Nameless Chosen. With many elven forces exhausted from the previous battles, only the cavalry and two-thirds of the available Akh`Faer forces were in the city for its defense until the arrival after battle's start of the Wing cavalry, some gold, silver, and electrum dragon allies, and the Three Chosen.

The spellcasters and military worked together to isolate and destroy the reduced and tired battalions (the Cruelty, the Colossus, the Grievous, Battalion Arcane) of the Army of Darkness. In all, the Army of Darkness suffered the loss of a battalion's worth of troops, losing 11 marches and 4 complete regiments in the melee. Among them, four entire tribes of gnolls were totally destroyed as was the most powerful march in the Army, Cvor's all mezzoloth March of the 2nd Cruelty Regiment.

Cvor's March, or "the Whipmaster's March" as more commonly known among the troops, laid siege to the Silversgate in upper Cormanthor at highsun on the second day of battle, following his orders to guard the gate against any allied incursions while the Fourth Cruelty Regiment sought magical items and plunder in the surrounding buildings and ruins. The Nameless Chosen became enraged by the destruction of his native city and the abrupt slaying of a trio of young bronze dragons that had emerged through the gate to lend aid requested a tenday ago. As their overall plans were capable of moving the Army out of the city, the other mages were sadly resigned to the losses, since the Army's battalions had learned to tighten their ranks and attack and raid as an army rather than random hordes; still bereft of Gaulguth's commanding presence, the troops and attacks were tightly organized to prevent any major losses unless their formations were broken. The Nameless One lost his temper over the "insufferable waiting for them to trip hidden spelltraps with no guarantees for success-We are supposed to be the pride and glory of Faerûn, but we cower like rabbits waiting for a fox to stop stalking its warren!"

With a roar of anger and vengeance, the Nameless exploded through the roof of one of the Six Tyryl Towers, his body glowing and his hair and robes ablaze in silver flames! Similarly to the dragon Peridot's rash charge, he dove headlong into the amassed and "impenetrable" forces of the besieging Army, scattering many gnolls and ogres and orcs like chaff before a great wind. Driving a wedge through the forces, he converged on the Silversgate, where Colonel Cvor and his mezzoloths stood. Spreading his arms wide, the Nameless One scrawled one line in the shattered marble of the street before him with a beam of silver fire, and no mezzoloth crossed that line that day. On his arms, he formed massive wings of silver fire, raising them high and knocking many creatures down from high towers or parapets. As he walked slowly and steadily forward, the blazing line advanced with him, forcing all back before him. Fully aflame now, the Nameless began reaching out with his silver wings and sweeping the nycaloths into the gate, which opened at his merest word. Spelltraps lying in wait activated at his will, causing explosions that claimed more savage lives as he walked unharmed within them. Over 600 mezzoloths and goblins and other creatures fell before the fury of the Nameless, and Myth Drannor's defenders rallied once more. With a large wedge driven into the Army's forces, the Akh`Faer and the cavalry had their openings they could exploit and drive the Army before them again.

Fate of the Nameless One

The Nameless Chosen stood before the Silversgate, driving the Whipmaster Cvor before him, and he laughed at the mezzoloth's challenge. As Nameless turned to bid his comrades-at-arms good will and luck in battle, the razor-studded whip of Cvor wrapped about his throat, and the two fell into the gate, struggling. Flying to his aid, Elminster the Crafty entered the Silversgate and shut the gate behind him to isolate Cvor's March. The Nameless Chosen's full intent in his mad attack was to open up the Army's lines and isolate sectors of it to destroy more easily than the collective. Alone but undaunted, the fire-engorged form of the Nameless One towered over the battle. Back to back with the elder Chosen Elminster, he fought hundreds of mezzoloth within the rocky Silverymoon Pass, and the glow of his silvery form drew attention from Silverymoon. Still, while his successes led to victory for the Allies of Cormanthyr, the hubris of the Nameless One led to his undoing.

Trusting that his flaming form would be proof against any attacks, he was caught unawares by Colonel Cvor when it used a captured elven artifact (the Harness of the Giant-Slayer Alayris) to grow to a giant's size and seize the flaming mage by hand and foot. More swiftly than the reactions of either Chosen, Cvor pulled the Nameless Chosen nearly in half by sheer strength and brutality! The explosion of magical power and fire utterly consumed Cvor and over 200 nearby mezzoloths, but not the one who wielded it. As the fireball subsided, the Nameless One lay dying, the silver fire desperately draining away out of his laid-open torso. While Elminster later reported that Mystra herself preserved his life as he lay wounded, at least three sources (two half-elven histories and one elven song) suggest that another power such as Sehanine saved him in return for his aiding her People. Still, the High Mage of Silverymoon Ecamane Truesilver and his supporting wizard forces protected the body of the fallen Chosen from the remaining mezzoloths. Together, while the Nameless One was sent magically to Silverymoon for healing, Elminster and the elderly and frail Ecamane destroyed the gate to Myth Drannor, detonating it from within and at its exit. The explosions slew the remnants of the Fourth Regiment surrounding it at Myth Drannor as well as clearing Silverymoon Pass of its remaining brethren.

As a result of this battle, Myth Drannor's forces won the day, but unknowingly paid a high price. Elminster was lost within the planes for a time, due to his task of destroying the gate from within, while Ecamane Truesilver died due to the strain of breaking the gate from its exit point at Silverymoon Pass. The Nameless Chosen lay like one dead for more than the next year, though Mystra speaks to those who tend him, calling him "he whom magic, duty, and honor defines." His elven nurse, who hears this in her own tongue, gives him the name Akhelbhen; upon his awakening, the Nameless Chosen, once called Arun's Son is introduced him to the new High Mage Aglanthol as Khelben Arunsun. His body healed but forever scarred across his chest and back where he was nearly torn in twain, he voluntarily banishes his vanity and keeps a wedge of silver-white hair in his beard to remind him of the silver flames dancing within it and how it does not make him invincible. It also signifies his debts, as it reminds him of Silverymoon and what he owes its people as well.

Dates:712 - 714
Identity: The Nameless Sleeper
Notes: Lies in coma in Silverymoon after nearly dying at the Battle of Silversgate in the Weeping War of Myth Drannor.

Dates: 714 - c748
Identity: Akhelben Arunson
Notes: Name immediately shortened to Khelben due to hard-of-hearing elf nurse at his bedside who hears what Mystra has named him.

Timeline Events:

720 Year of the Dawn Rose

The Gathering of the Gods at the Dancing Place signals the refounding of the Harpers at the request of some elves from Elven Court. In attendance are all 15 of the Harpers at Twilight who survived the previous decade, including Lady Alais Dree, Elminster Aumar, Khelben Arunsun (once the Nameless Chosen), and Meil "Darkhunter" Araeln.

Dates: c748 - c808
Identity: Hauliyr "the Old Witch"
Notes: Helped raise some of the 7 sisters at this lifetime; primarily responsible for raising the girl Syluné after the Harper Thamator the Old could not raise her as a ranger, so Khelben as Hauliyr taught her magic from 775 until "death" in 808.

Dates: c808 - c816
Identity: Malek Aldhanek
Notes: Works anonymously in court of Laeral the Witch-Queen of the North as a Tethyrian wizard-smitten by her but unrequited as yet; cut short by assassination he has to go along with and abandon this identity, Laeral grieves for ID's death, realizing love "too late." Laeral butts heads with Syluné c.841 and abandons her realm near future Luskan (806-841) to become Chosen at age 76 (though she looks 20ish), as does Syluné.

Dates: c816 - c844
Identity: ?
Notes: Lost years...

Dates: c844 - c956
Identity: "Halver Gehrin"
Notes: Too known in Silverymoon to elves, thus he is known as Khelben (privately) & as Halver (publicly). Helps fence in Hellgate Keep in 886; never came to Waterdeep in this "lifetime"; trains Ahghairon in Silverymoon during this time & "dies" 4 years after A becomes Waterdeep's premeir mage.

Also during this lifetime, Khelben secretly studies the Prophecies of Alaundo and takes on his darker, now-familiar mien. He begins planning for the long-off future and the potential dangers of the phaerimm (pieces of plan include moving to Waterdeep, collecting many magical items, reforming the Harpers, forming the Teukiira, etc.)

Ahghairon of Waterdeep's lifespan = 920-1256; 927 - 941 is his time of tutoring in Silverymoon. Two of his many tutors are Renwick (Thornhold) and Halver aka Khelben. Khelben later helps Ahghairon create the Helms & Cloaks of Waterdeep

Dates: c956 - c1113
Identity: ?
Notes: Lost Years 2...: Has at least two lifetimes w/aliases but does not openly travel as Khelben; helps create offices of Heralds (996) and helps Elminster refound the Harpers again in 1022. Spent 3 decades in the 900s in Serôs, eradicating spelljammer wrecks & recovering from broken heart.

Dates: c.1113 - 1256
Identity: Khelben Arunson - "Khelben the Elder."
Notes: Arrives in Waterdeep & builds Arunsun Tower in 1150; Zelphar Arunsun's lifespan = c1249 - 1311.

Dates: 1256 - c1270
Identity: ?
Notes: Lost Years 3...: between aliases and setting up Ducat's background, working for Harpers?

Dates: c.1270 - 1311
Identity: Ducat Eattel
Notes: Khelben finally in Waterdeep (or perhaps returned since Lost Years) in the guise as Ducat Eattel (a secret Lord recruited by Shilarn and Baeron in 1273), who is appointed one of the first Magisters (judges) of Waterdeep

Timeline Event:

1302 Khelben the Younger born to Zelphar and Lhestyn

Dates: 1311 - 1321
Identity: Khelben the Elder
Notes: Returns to his tower, fakes death as Ducat Eattel, & trains his namesake in secret after death of his son.

Dates: 1321 - 1370
Identity: Khelben "Blackstaff" Arunsun
Notes: The elder Khelben replaces the younger, taking himself his own grandson's identity and adds honorific of the Blackstaff.

Khelben's Marriages/Loves

Dates: 714 - 748
Name: Khelben I
Marital Status: Single
Children: 1 daughter (½elf)

Dates: c.748 - c.808
Name: "Hauliyr"
Marital Status: Married
Childrne: 2 daughters (½ elves) (Saheen Silverbrow)

Dates: 844 - 956
Name: "Halver Gehrin" [Khelben II (privately only)]
Marital Status: Married (½e)
Children: 2 daughters (one ½elf, one human)

Dates: 1100 - 1256
Name: Khelben III "the Elder"
Marital Status: Married (human) Children: 1 son, 1 daughter (twin h)
Married (human) Children: 2 daughters; 1 son(Zelphar)

Dates: 1302 - now
Name: Khelben IV "the Blackstaff"
Marital Status: Single
Children: Unknown (no children? Maura?)

Marriage/Love: 750 - 774
Wife/Lover: Mariel Silverbrow
Details: Half-elf wife; as human son of half-elf, his kids can be half-elves. Raised his half-elf daughters (751, 755) until 770, and they leave. training Syluné from 775 - 808 w/death; Saheen returns to finish Syluné's training.

Marriage/Love: 808-816
Wife/Lover: (Laeral)
Details: Realizes his truelove in Laeral, though circumstances don't allow the match to happen; Khelben's identity dies, leaving Laeral to grieve.

Marriage/Love: 830s?
Wife/Lover: (Laeral)
Details: Second missed opportunity; this time, it is Khelben who holds Laeral off

Marriage/Love: 866ish
Wife/Lover: (Laeral)
Details: Third missed opportunity, since Khelben is married in his alias as Halver. Don't see each other after sealing of Hellgate Keep for more than 200 years.

Marriage/Love: 862 - 879
Wife/Lover: (half-elf)
Details: Wife dies in childbirth after years of trying for kids, bearing twin daughters nearly identical save that one is half-elf and the other human.

Marriage/Love: 1080s?
Wife/Lover: (Laeral)
Details: She's married this time and he's tied up with Harperstuff….. Go nearly 300 years apart

Marriage/Love: 1109 - 1146
Wife/Lover: ? (human)
Details: Human wife in area near Yartar? Children grown & gone by 1130 (b. 1112); wife dies & K finally goes to Waterdeep as Khelben (later known as "the Elder")

Marriage/Love: 1238 - 1251?
Wife/Lover: Cassandra ?
Details: Human wife bears three kids in 1240, 1244, and 1249; 2-yr-old daughter dies in attack by Kerrigan the Traitor Lord in 1246. Disappears in 1251 after death of wife to deal with Harper business; Zelphar raised by cousins in Neverwinter and visited intermittently by Khelben (whose official death is set c.1280). Returns later as Ducat Eattel, his family gone from Waterdeep.

Marriage/Love: 1329 - present
Wife/Lover: Laeral
Details: Khelben entrenched in Waterdeep as the Blackstaff by 1322; pursues Laeral across the North at times, though she is part of the Nine now and is reluctant to finally consummate 500 years of missed opportunities and unrequited passion. Khelben continues, saving her from the Crown of Horns in 1357. By 1360, the pair is finally together & inseparable.

- The Swordsage

Well, according to Laeral, he has a fascinating mole on, best let modesty stop us here.....

Khelben cannot stand the taste of zzar but does have a well-stocked wine cellar of his favorite full-bodied Tethyrian red wines....

who can also say Khelben and Laeral both like tiramisu when they can get it....


"Lady Cassandra Thann is the daughter of Zelphar Arunsun.....

Zelphar comes to Waterdeep with young daughter in tow; eventually meets and marries Lhestyn {whose maiden name I don't recall}.

Lhestyn & Zelphar have a child named Khelben; this child will grow up and be called Khelben the Blackstaff untill a distant ancestor shows up and takes the kid's identity. The kid then takes a hike off into the planes and eventually ends up on Greyhawk Oerth as Khelben Ravencloak.......

Despite the secret switch (known only to a select few in the Realms and the readers), most people honestly believe he's the son of Zelphar & Lhestyn (though we know he's about 800+ years older than that). Thus, Cassandra still treats him like a little brother, and any times he seems older than that she mentally chalks it up to "his mysteries and wizards' training." While Dan is astute and probably figures that his "uncle" is far more than that, he's playing along with this charade as it's how the Blackstaff wants to play it. Of all the folks on the Realms, I'd guess that only Elminster, Khelben himself, the Seven Sisters (or at least those he helped raise), and a few select elves in Silverymoon, Evermeet, and Cormanthyr might know his secret; and, of course, they've got good reasons not to tell anyone too....... Even the other Lords are not in on this secret, though Mirt & Durnan suspect, while Piergeiron merely trusts Khelben on faith.... "

On March 14, 2004 Steven Schend said:

Hail and well met. With some insistence on Ed's part (and Eric Boyd's and a few other who shall remain nameless), I'm ending my sabbatical and returning to the Realms as a fan and fellow Waterdhavian by proxy.

As for Ed's comment, I did a dig through the hard drive to find the info I had set aside long ago (circa 1996-1997ish, during the design of Cloak & Dagger). Even so, no reason to leave it buried.

Bear in mind though, folks, that none of this lore is at all official, since I'm no longer affiliated with Wizards save by old friendships and some very occasional work. With that in mind, here's what my old brain came up with for Alustriel's Sons aka the Tall Ones.
Steven Schend

Who unofficially adopted Silverymoon as a pet project for a few years before leaving WotC in 2000

Actually, I found it in the back of 7 Sisters, under Alustriel's bit in the campaign use chapter. They allegedly all use the surname Aerasume, which translates to Silverymoon, though I'm going to amend that and scatter their surnames among our three options now (though all with the same father). Their names are (alphabetically) Andelver, Boesild, Dolthauvin, Elinthalar, Ghaelryss, Inthylyn, Lilinthar, Methrammar, Naerond, Raerilarr, Tarthilmor, and Uoundeld. They seem to have connections to the Harpers (since they can contact Cylyria Dragonbreast and Sharanralee of Everlund as well as Mom....).

Tarthilmor Aerasume (CG hem F11/W12) is set as one of the two Captains of the Spellguard under Jorus Azuremantle. DRAGON ANNUAL #1, p60

Methrammar Aerasume, the Shining Guard (LG hem F14/W12) and commander of Luruar's armies. THE NORTH, Cities p55

At this point, here's my suggestions for birthdates and whatnot on these guys (of whom there are now 17, but 5 of them are either unknown to the Silverymoon folks but famous within the Moonwood and their father's people or are dead:

Alustriel Silverhand + Taerntym Tanagathor/"Taern Moonweather" (sorta married, at least as elves go...)

Dalbrant Tanagathor (1240 - 1313?) Disappeared while on quest for Taerntym

Hardorbryn Tanagathor (1242 - 1343) Twin of Alondel; died in battle with the Moonlight Men

Alondel Tanagathor (1242 - 1343) Twin of Hardorbryn; died in battle with the Moonlight Men

Boesild Aerasume (1244 - ?) Oldest known/acknowledged surviving son of Alustriel; former apprentice of Khelben the Elder just after he left Waterdeep in 1256; now part of the Teukiira/Moonstars.

Elnriyr Moonweather (1250 - 1347) Priest of Sehanine; died in the fire that destroys Everdusk Hall

Baerndar Tanagathor (1266 - ?)

Uoundeld of Silverymoon (1269 - ?) Teacher at the Lady's College (Tactical & Strategic Spellcasting)

Dolthauvin Aerasume (1295 - ?) Wanderer in the Moonwood & Coldwood

Elinthalar Tanagathor (1299 - ?) Twin of Andelver; wanderer of Lurkwood

Andelver Tressymfriend (1299 - ?) Twin of Elinthalar; wanderer of Lurkwood

Methrammar Aerasume (1304 - ?) The Shining Guard & most recognized son of Alustriel

Inthylyn of Silverymoon (1314 - ?) ?????????????????

Lilinthar Moonweather (1337 - ?) Triplet brother of Naerond & Tarthilmor; huntmaster of Moonweather clan in Moonwood? Naerond Aerasume (1337 - ?) Triplet brother of Lilinthar & Tarthilmor; crusader/mage for Mystra?

Tarthilmor Aerasume (1337 - ?) Triplet brother of Naerond & Lilinthar; Spell Captain of the Spellguard in Silverymoon

Raerilarr Aerasume (1340 - ?) Smallest of Tall Ones at 6'7" and nicknamed "Tiny" by brothers; most hot-tempered of brothers, rabid drow hunter (and prejudiced vs. dwarves for some reason)

Ghaelryss the Bold (1345 - ?) Uses no surname, raised in Silverymoon, living in Everlund?

I see the younger ones bonding more like brothers, while the older ones (especially those among the elves) are almost more like uncles or foster fathers to the others, as Alustriel got too busy to help raise the children in the 1270s and 1340s (see Silverymoon timeline). How their levels and abilities differ, and how their deific backgrounds (as grandchildren of Mystra) might be reflected along with their half-elven blood is yet unknown--I see a few with silver hair, all of them with longer lifespans than average half-elves, and enhanced abilities almost equal to full elves (due to ties to Weave, including reverie rather than sleep).

How's that? With this being the case, I've adopted Boesild as my regional contact for Khelben, and we can easily ensconce him in the Vault of the Sages or the Lady's College in Silverymoon. That work for you?

On March 15, 2004 Steven Schend said:

I'd have to agree that Halls of the High King was a lot of fun, though Ruins of Undermountain (and what it spawned) certainly maxed out the usual Greenwood "bang for your buck" ratio.

Thom, I know I'm not Ed, but this query sparked old ideas in my head and I thought I'd share.

While on staff at TSR/WOtC, I left the gods well enough alone because they were really more to Eric's & Julia's interests. Still, I had some ideas that never got into print. One of them was a disinformation and/or embarrassment campaign that took place among the Cyricist and Banite clergies.

The only good thing a Cyricist has over the average Banite is a sense of humor. Thus, numerous satires came into being to embarrass Bane and Bane's faithful in the years between Cyric's rise and the present day. Cyricists took old Banite legends and bastardized them into bawdy farces. Some even went so far as to create corrupted tomes of slightly edited/altered religious tracts (and get wizards to magically age them and/or hide them to give them some artificial gravitas) and then "reveal the falsehoods" in the faith & ritual of the current church.

My favorite of these "heretic" texts is "On the Care and Feeding of Banites," by Melthras of Semphar (allegedly written in 1285 DR with copies at Candlekeep and the Heralds' Holdfast). The date is suspect, as most attribute Cyricism as the source of most Bane-bashing, though a few historians talk of previous faiths or brave/foolish souls who sought to reduce the Black God's power by ridicule even before his first Fall. Still, the Oghma-worshiping Melthras, as a matter of record, died soon after the book's writing. He was found nailed to the ceiling beams of his rooming house, his heart and liver removed and his skin seared with multiple brands of Bane's hand.

As in all things historical for the Realms, there's as much confusion as confirmation. And Elminster simply gives up a sly smile, puffs on his pipe, and blows a smoke-shape of a grinning kobold as comment.
Steven Schend

Who thinks it's time to add a few more titles to that old book list he did years ago re: Candlekeep's shelves

On November 2, 2004 Steven Schend said:

Here I am in the "I broke `em, I bought `em" department, since I'm the one who obliterated many of the baneliches....

One of the reasons I was very distinct in CLOAK & DAGGER about where the boundaries of the Tyrantfog was just for this reason--If you need/want a banelich to survive, simply note that he/she/it was outside the range of the Tyrantfog and was not destroyed by it. Thus, any banelich that was around the Sword Coast and the North was probably safe. And I'd include any of those you noted; I'd toss a name or two for new baneliches at you, but my brain's not coughing any up right now. Sorry.
Steven Schend

On March 9, 2004 James Lowder posted:

It wasn't as sweeping as that, Hooded One. My very first job, my very first week as an editorial assistant at TSR, was to "translate" some of Ed's heavier dialects in the book into more modern English. (We were editing the books on an old line editing program at that time, so this was a brutal assignment because of those technical limitations, let me tell you.) It wasn't rewriting all his dialogue, just the dialect used for certain characters. And I got the assignment in part because I had a literature background that included classes in Chaucer in the original Middle English; I at least understood the patterns and the obscure, archaic word choice.

In the original draft of Spellfire, more characters than Elminster spoke in dialect, and Elminster's dialect use was originally much heavier. The speech patterns were indictative of rank and social status and education and the like; Ed used them consistently and properly. The problem was, the level of dialect use didn't sit well with the book's main editor--who had taken over the project when the original editor left the company. (This was only one of many problems that resulted from that transition.) She was afraid the pervasive dialect use would make the book inaccessible to the general reader.

There was also the problem of the "Official Realms" diverging from "Ed's Realms." While Ed could make an argument that the dialect was part of the world, there were already other Realms novels on the market that did not utilize the dialects. The company was interested in having the Realms fiction present a more unified front, so Ed's argument was trumped by the fact that very, very successful books by Niles and Salvatore had already set expectations, in terms of language, for both readers and other Realms authors. The audience might have problems with characters speaking in radically different ways between books--and Azure Bonds was already in the works, so the fiction was heading to areas where it would cross over with the setting for Spellfire. Certainly hiring authors for Avatar would have been nightmarish--even moreso than it was--because few people can write dialects effectively.

In the end, Ed managed to argue in favor of keeping Elminster's dialect at a low level, but fear of the book being obscure and muddling the marketing of the line meant the rest had to go.

Obscurity was indeed a concern. I didn't think it was as serious a concern as the main editor did, but I could see many spots where the language was going to cause people to scratch their heads more than a publisher would want. (I vividly recall having to translate the phrase "Think you me a cod-loose winker?" for several people in the department, and these were pretty well-read folks....) And if Spellfire was going to set the language style for subsequent books set in the Heartlands, it really would have been impossible to let the dialect level stand. That would have limited the line's options too much.

But the solution settled upon was not a constructive one. Ed was not involved in the edit of Spellfire, in terms of story edit or copyedit, anywhere near as much as he should have been. I didn't know that at the time. I came into my job assuming that the every individual author would be "in the loop" on the edits, and only learned later how the book had been contracted by someone no longer at the company and the problems that the hard-and-fast scheduled release date and various crossed expectations had caused. The company made some strides toward fixing this problem with later releases--I certainly made it a priority to work more constructively with the authors I edited. But most of the editing of Spellfire was not handled in a way with which anyone was happy in the end.

Jim Lowder

On November 24, 2004 Eric Boyd said:

The design approach I've been taking in 3e when covering a 2e Spelljammer reference is to dance around the topic without invalidating it. For an example, look at the write-up of the great swamp of Rethid (sp?) between Halruaa and Dambrath in "Serpent Kingdoms". For those who have FR15 - Gold & Glory, you know that the lizardmen in there are mercenaries flitting about Faerun in a captured Spelljammer and nothing I said contradicted that. For those that don't have the old products, you can play your game without worry / going "huh".

This section collects a few widely used terms for intelligent races of the Realms. The names in parentheses refer to those who usually use such terms. If no parentheses appear, assume that the name is in general use (certainly among surface-dwelling humans and merchant folk of all races).

Drow: the Dark Elves, The Accursed (other elves).

Dwarves: the Stout Folk.

Elves: the Fair Folk, the People (elves, of themselves, collectively).

Gnomes: the Quiet Folk.

Halflings: the Quick Folk, the Sly Folk (humans and dwarves).

Humans: the Manyhanded (halflings, elves; a.k.a "The Manyhanded Curse"), Brittle Bones (orcs), Oroosh (= "never-stopping talkers"; treants), Hurbryn (= "heavy-footed ones"; brownies, halflings, korred, satyrs).

Korred: the Dancing Folk.

Ogres: Beast-Men.

Orcs: the Mighty (orcs, of themselves), Slaugh (= "pigs" among some elves; this term literally translates as "mud-wallowing-dogs," and is beginning to be heard in use by half-elves, dryads, and some other forest-dwelling folk).

Satyrs: the Free Folk.

Svirfneblin "deep gnomes": the Deep Folk.

Collective terms most widely encountered are:

Meat = all intelligent prey (orcs).

The Proud Peoples = dwarves and elves collectively (humans).

Ugrukh ("broken bones") = wounded, defeated, slaves or those too weak to defend themselves or to be worthy of attention [used of all creatures] (orcs).

Worms = lesser goblinkin (orcs).

Greetings and farewells from "Words To The Wise":

AlaE (ah-LAY: "Fortunate meeting," a contraction of an old elven phrase of the same meaning)-a greeting (and reassurance of peaceful intentions) between travelers in the southern and eastern coastlands around The Sea of Fallen Stars.

Durgos (DUR-ghosz: "Peace")-a corruption of the orcs' durgreos (see below), used by mongrelmen and some human slavers.

Durgreos (Dur-GREE-ohzz: "No quarrel")-a responsive greeting and parting used by orcs of the north.

Hykyath (Hik-ah-YATH: "Prance!")-a parting used by satyrs. It has been picked up by some poets among the elves and half elves, and even orcs have been heard, in battle, derisively telling their foes and underlings to "look lively" in the few breaths left before they die.

Lammath Drios (Lham-math DREE-ohs: "Fortune find you")-a parting used in Essembra and in the countryside south of it as far as the seacoast, and west as far as the Thunder Peaks. It is not favored within the proud cities of Sembia, where only "bumpkins" and "country dung-carters" are thought to speak so.

Rhambukkya (Ram-BOOkh-yah: "Ride high")-used as both greeting and parting by the nomads of the Shaar.

Sabbas (Sab-BAS: "Run free")-a parting used by centaurs.

Stettar Voh (Stet-tar VOE-hh: "Gods-power [keep you] well")-formal, peaceful greeting and parting among merchants in The Shining South.

Tantam (TAN-tam: "Hello")-peaceful way-greeting among merchants of the north.

Uluvathae (Oo-loo-VAW-thay: "[May your] fortune bring you joy")-a friendly, informal greeting and parting used by elves and half-elves to others (of any race) they welcome the company of. Between close friends, its use is an insult, or a neutral "say-nothing-we're-being-listened-to" warning.

Vlandranna (Vlan-DRANNA: "Gods grant [approval, or that what is spoken of occurs by their will])-an old, corrupted dwarven word from the region that is today the Vast and Impiltur; now used by all trading races in The Sea of Fallen Stars.

Surface Rothé

Bigger than their subterranean cousins, so-called "high" or "surface" rothé have longer legs, and hence are faster runners and more nimble rock climbers (move 12). They have heavier coats and their pelts are always suitable for use as clothing.

Large herds of rothé roam near Mt. Ghaethluntar and the glaciers east and north of it (in the Moonsea North), and in the snowy wastes north of the Ice Mountains (in the Sword Coast North). When attacks from gnoll, flind, and orc bands grow too fierce, the rothé herds tend to move out onto the frozen, icy dunes of Anauroch (The Great Desert), drinking water melted with the heat of their muzzles. They eat windblown lichens and iceflowers. Iceflowers are harmless white plants of the arctic areas of Faerûn; they resemble sunflowers growing flat on the ground, with long, waxy dark green creeping arms and leaves.

The presence of frozen ponds and sunny ridges cloaked with lichens and ground pines make the verges of Anauroch just north of ruined Ascore particularly hospitable to ranging rothé. In the wide-open dunes, rothé can freely wheel to scatter or charge, and few ground-based foes can stand against them.

Ghost Rothé

These giant rothé are named for their white coats, their nocturnal gallops, and their ability to use jump and silence 15' radius once each per day as 2nd level casters; they can use both these powers in a single round. Many wayfarers in the North have been startled by a silent white rothé suddenly leaping over their campfire and galloping off into the night.

Ghost rothé dwell only on the surface-but can be found in caverns opening onto the surface, and in meltwater tunnels beneath glaciers when the weather is fierce. They inhabit cold lands, such as tundra, alpine meadows, and ice deserts, and are a favorite food of remorhaz and polar bears.

I must preface this by declaiming that I obviously speak with absolutely zero canon authority and may thus be wasting your time by writing. *I* always ran Yanseldara and Vaerana as a committed homosexual couple, though I realize that doesn't help you much. I suspect that you are looking for "official and open acknowledgement" of characters that reflect your own identity. If I recall, Ed has pretty clearly indicated somewhere on this thread that Alustriel, in her persona as "Queen of Courtly Love", is free with her affections to both sexes. I would be hard-pressed to surrender the direct reference, though. What I *do* have for you is this: one of Alustriel's apprentices has been described here by Ed as being in openly in love with her. So sayeth Ed:

Zelauma Telthornstars: CG half-e f W9, a free-spirited, always-laughing imp of a bouncy lass with large, liquid blue-green eyes, lush figure and features. She sees the safety and beauty of Silverymoon as a cradle of mirth and 'human nature' amusement, and intrigues as fascinating entertainments. The most recent of Alustriel's apprentices, Zelauma was orphaned when a disease carried off her mother (orc blades had reaped her human father years before), and found her own way overland from their wilderland steading to the only place she knew of that had an abundance of food, warmth, and folk: Silverymoon. There she indulged her love of climbing things to scale buildings and peer in windows, watching Silvaeren private life and considering it one great passing parade of entertainment. Sleeping on rooftops and occasionally hiring herself out as a roof-tile replacer and painter (thanks to her fearless and nimble climbing skills), Zelauma was noticed by a Spellguard mage long before her coins ran out and she'd have been forced to either steal or starve.

Thinking her a thief but not wanting to blast her without proof, the mage reported Zelauma to Taern -- and Alustriel happened to arrive, overhear, and take an interest. Finding Zelauma watching revel through a window from atop an ornamental spire some seventy feet above the street, the High Lady greeted her cordially, they talked, and a few minutes later descended magically together, with Zelauma now Alustriel's apprentice.

She's still an impish (but gentle, not cruel) prankster, and loves to climb (especially when restless or upset), but she's also rapidly becoming a mage of skill, and (to put it bluntly) is hopelessly in love with Alustriel. She's aware that she's third in rank among the High Lady's apprentices and quite content to remain so -- but fully intends, decades from now, to still be serving Alustriel when everyone else has departed or turned away.

Ed has also been very free with describing characters in homosexual masquerade or as transvestites of various kinds, though I fully realize that is completely different from "LesBiGay" characters. The most prominent example is the original Lhaeo, of course; who masqueraded as El's live-in scribe lover for many years. This gave us the term "man-lover" which, based on Ed's usage in Spellfire, I've always interpreted as derogatory and equivalent to "fag". I generally use it when appropriate to indicate an intolerant, ignorant or otherwise insensitive NPC to my players. The immediate assumption by my well-trained players (LOL) is that the person using the term is a "bad guy" and much surveillance and other prying into that NPC's affairs generally commences, in an effort to find out where else he is "dirty". The current Lhaeo is another obvious variation on the theme, being a young woman magically disguised as a rumored gay man who was actually straight. Hello, Blake Edwards! Yikes!

I run a game with many elven PCs. This is not official, but as a conflict mechanism I also use the term "doghead": a derogatory term used by racist (generally evil or profoundly influenced by evil) humans, especially in the Moonsea area, to describe all the demi-human races with pointed or semi-pointed ears; especially elves, half-elves, gnomes and halflings. In official canon, we have prejudice in the form of the Victorious Blade of the People, though neither of those examples are sexuality-oriented.

In Waterdeep, Ed has put the characters of Shalar Simgulphin and Coril: both female Harper agents that cross-dress as men.

I realize all this is probably very thin and unsatisfying indeed, from your point of view. I too would like to hear Ed's recounting of whatever major characters he sees as embracing different "lifestyles" or sexual identities. Being a hetero American male myself, I am quite predictably more intrigued by tales of women together. That is why I fastened myself barnacle-fashion to the intriguing references involving Yanseldara and Vaerana, and played them up prominently to my players, who are also all hetero males. ;)

The hinted-at gay men merely get noted for the potential embarrassment potential to my players in encountering them. Sure is fun making my players squirm

I think that expecting any kind of definitive position or open acknowledgement from Hasbro is still unrealistic right now. They will almost certainly keep playing "don't ask, don't tell" with all major characters for quite awhile longer. I suspect that Ed can speak more freely about it though, here in Candlekeep. I also suspect that the Hooded One might be able to speak even more freely than Ed on the subject.

What do you say, Hooded One? Now you've got at least three scribes wanting to know. Feel free to answer *without* shooing away the fetching young lady who may or may not be currently occupying your lap… ;)

Bobby Nicholls noted on the Realms-L a loooong time ago the following:

Last year, at GenCon '95, I asked Ed Greenwood about the days of the week (Ride) in Faerun. I asked if there was a standard day or day name for the days of the ride. He responded that the days of the ride differ from geographic region to region, and usually have a religious connotation. There is no standard set of day names.

Ed went on to say that the people of Faerun use the number of days to indicate when something will happen as long as the number of days does not exceed 30. For instance, if I was to see you in 10 days, I would say "See you in a ten-day," not "See you in a ride" or "See you next ride," both of which are not as determinalistic as the first statement.

If you want to indicate an event in the future of past and this event happens within 10 days of a major event, a Realmsian would say "Bessie had her calf 3 days after the Lord came into his castle." or "Bessie's calf was born 2 days before last Greengrass."

In other words, Realmsians do not use dates like we do -- my birthday in Faerun is something like "12 days after Greengrass" not "Mirtul 12th." Now IMC, I use "Firstday," "Seconday", "Thirday", etc. for my days of the week, and I use dates like Americans do. Why? Well, to be blunt, my players don't want to try to uderstand the FR method of dating. So it is usually easier just to give in on this minor point. However, if you write fiction, you might want to follow these rules.
-- George Krashos

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