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 - 2005

Various FR Game Designers


January 11, 2005: So saith Paul Jaquays (author of The Savage Frontier) on the inspirations/origins of the Uthgardt.


It has been over 15 years since I wrote the source book, so many details may escape me (and my copies are in storage somewhere else in the house), so I'm pulling from memory here. If I remember correctly, Ed's notes specified that there were barbarians in the region, but that the Uthgardt were my own creation. I probably made them dark haired so that they wouldn't be immediately imagined as Nordic Viking types. While I am a fan of Conan, at that point I wasn't trying to emulate anybody else's barbarians ... only to make my own. And I wanted to stay away from D&D's "known world" habit of co-opting familiar cultures with a fantasy spin (I edited several of the D&D known world source books during that time period). They are intended to be a unique force of nature, not necessarily friend or foe to adventurers. The actual tribes came from some work I did for an update to Griffin Mountain in the early (I source book I co-wrote for Chaosium's Glorantha world). I had expanded upon the Balazaring tribes in Griffin Mountain and made them more varied and with special features. Chaosium chose not to use that work and I re-spun it and made it more compatible with the AD&D game system and Realms world mythos. Places like Grandfather Tree and the burial mounds were based on art that I had originally done and were not used in Griffin Island (from Avalon Hill).

The realmslore of the Savage Frontier came from seven sources: The Forgotten Realms boxed set; the Waterdeep source book; Ed Greenwood's notes, which TSR supplied as pages of photo-copied clippings that had come from many of Ed's notebooks; the unused work for Griffin Island; the as yet unreleased novel The Crystal Shard by Bob Salvatore (the original appearance of dark elf ranger Dritzz Do Urden ... for whom I created the first game stats), The Enchanted Wood (an adventure I had written for SPI's Dragon Quest game, for which TSR owned the copyright due to their acquisition of SPI in the early 80s), and my own imagination.

Much of the prehistory and lore of the place derived from the Enchanted Wood. I was very amused (and flattered) when later writers used content derived from there to flesh out the ancient history of the realms.

Characters like Amelior Amanitas and his side kick Eric were based on people I knew. Amelior was a player in one of my early FRP games and fist appeared in The Enchanted Wood as a mission sponsor. The evil Wulgreth and the demigod Karse came from the same source. If you can find a copy of The Enchanted Wood, you will have access to much of my original source material. ;)

I had a lot of freedom in what I did. Maybe too much freedom. I left the geography and most of the cities as Ed had designed them, but I took a free hand with some of the characters and places and perhaps did things with them that Ed did not like ... since I learned later that he wrote material that went and rescued and redeemed some high level adventurers whom I had caused to come to an unhappy end. If it didn't contradict something in the published world or in Ed's notes, I felt free to interpret as I chose in order to make interesting situations.

Some of my work became Realms canon. Others of it tumbled into the dust bin of history.



Ed Bonny posted on Febuary 22, 2005: Here is the write-up I did for Auppenser:


Intermediate Deity

Our Lord of Reason, the Serene One, the Master of Thought

Symbol: An eye centered within a hexagonally shaped gem

Home Plane: Dweomerheart

Realm: The Tranquil Grounds

Alignment: N

Portfolio: Psionics, serenity, personal autonomy, enlightenment

Worshippers: Blues, duergar, monks, psions, psychic warriors

Cleric Alignments: NG, N, CN, LN, NE

Domains: Balance, Mentalism, Protection, Psionics, Strength

Favored Weapon: kukri

Auppenser is a strong-minded deity given over as much to deep contemplation as he is to decisive action. The god of psionics possesses a calm demeanor, as one completely confident in his clear-thinking ways. He strives to uphold the Balance wherever psionics are involved. Worshipped by all manner of psionic beings, the fair-minded deity has long been an advocate of the magic within one's personal being. In the days when Jhaamdath was expanding, the Lord of Reason served as the empire's patron deity. He is an amicable god who took great pains to foster psionics in communities wherever his church took hold. Auppenser appears as a youthful, robust, raven-haired and purple-eyed man of lithe muscle and catlike grace. His wise face is framed by a peaceful expression of thoughtfulness. He dresses in a simple flowing robe of purest white.

History/Relationships: The deity of psionics was an aloof god who interacted little with the other deities of Faerūn. Auppenser pledged obeisance to Mystryl but in reality he was his own master who sought to free himself from the internecine politics of his godly brethren. His church was most powerful during the heady days of the Jhaamdath Empire, and it was that kingdom's destruction that spelled the deity's demise. Worship of Auppenser all but ceased in the years following the drowning of Jhaamdath, an event that would have sent the god to a certain death if not for the intervention of Mystra. Mystra, reluctant to let the mystical art of psionics such a terrible loss, placed Auppenser in a deep slumber from which he has just begun to stir.

The entire destruction of Jhaamdath coupled with the slumber of the god of psionics brought about a centuries-long decline in psionic practice. It is only recently that awareness of this forsaken area of magic has cultivated renewed interest in its study.

Dogma: Develop the latent abilities within you for that is your power alone. Psionics is the ultimate art of magic and you are its practitioner. Through lifelong dedication, strive to unite your will with your physical form to become one. Only through the unrestrained union of one's mind and body can the magic of psionics truly be mastered. Throw off the yoke of any who would impose tyranny upon you. Likewise, do not ever force another to submit to your will. Free your mind, free yourself and you have only just begun the path to true psionic mastery. Free others, open their minds to the Invisible Art, and you will show them way to Auppenser.

Church and Temple: Auppenser's clergy included clerics, monks and psionic characters of all types. Clerics of Auppenser were known as Psiarchs. Cloistered members of the church dwelled in temples and monasteries dedicating themselves to understanding the mysteries of the mind. Wayfaring psiarchs openly preached their lord's philosophy of personal strength through psionic development and promoted discourse that explored the myriad abilities of the mind.

The church of Auppenser was well established throughout the Jhaamdath Empire although its organization was loose and not hierarchically structured. Each Jhaamdathan city boasted several large temples and monasteries while towns usually had a single, small center of worship. These temples were usually domed, colonnaded rotundas of white stone. Larger temples contained numerous private chambers for individual worshippers seeking solitude to pray, to compose one's thoughts, and to seek divine guidance for greater enlightenment.

The church of Auppenser zealously opposed slavery, a pious belief that frequently brought the church faithful into conflict with slave-owning kingdoms, most notably Calimshan.

Prayers: Clerics of Auppenser prayed for spells in silent and unmoving meditation. This conservation of action allowed the mind to focus inward for greater personal introspection.

Rites: Followers of Auppenser selected a time of their own choosing for when to worship their deity. Each day at the same time, the follower was expected to pray and meditate. Failure to pray at one's chosen time was considered not only a terrible lack of devotion but was also counted as a grave offense to Auppenser who values personal discipline.

Herald and Allies: Auppenser traditionally sent an amethyst dragon as his herald. The psionic god was known to bestow udoroot seeds upon his favored faithful. His planar allies consisted of rilmani and gem dragons.

Ed Bonny posted on March 6, 2005: The Imaskari Portal Lord is a draft prestige class that did not get turned over for Lost Empires of Faerun. It was concepted early in the design phase as an arcane spellcasting class. It was not written in the enhanced format but I have added a little more background here to flesh it out.


Absolute mastery over extradimensional space and instant teleportation magic was haled as the highest achievement of an artificer in Imaskari society. Their cities and even their homes were interconnected with innumerable portals and filled with permanent extradimensional spaces that expanded even the smallest of buildings into tremendous places on the inside. The portal lord is the last practitioner of this lost and forgotten Imaskari art. Few know these esoteric secrets. Key to the underpinnings of Imaskari society, teleportation and extradimensional space were like the mythallar of Netheril and the mythals of the elves. They were instrumental to maintaining a certain magical-assisted lifestyle.

As he advances in level, a portal lord becomes more attuned to the nature of such magic, gaining greater insights on how to better manipulate and control such forces.

Hit Dice: d4

Requirements: To become a portal lord, a character must fulfill the following criteria:

Skills: Knowledge (arcane) 8 ranks, Knowledge (History - Imaskar) 8 ranks, Spellcraft 8 ranks

Feats: Craft Wondrous Items, Portal Master, any two metamagic feat

Spellcasting: Must be able to cast 3rd level arcane spells

Class Skills: Concentration (Con), Craft (Int), Decipher Script (Int), Knowledge (arcana)(Int), Knowledge (history)(Int), Knowledge (Geography)(Int), Spellcraft (Int)

Class Features

The following are features of the portal lord prestige class.

Weapons and Armor Proficiency: Portal lords gain no proficiency with any weapon or armor.

Spells per day: At each portal lord level, the character gains new spells per day (and spells known, if applicable) as if he had also gained a level in a spellcasting class level.

Class Level BAB Fort Ref Will Special Spells per day
1 +0 +0 +0 +2 Warp Shield +1 level arcane
2 +1 +0 +0 +3 Prolonged Artifice +1 level arcane
3 +1 +1 +1 +3 Spacial Fluency +1 level arcane
4 +2 +1 +1 +4 Improved Warp Shield --
5 +2 +1 +1 +4 Reject Anchoring +1 level arcane
6 +3 +2 +2 +5 Dimensional Touch +1 level arcane
7 +3 +2 +2 +5 Greater Warp Shield +1 level arcane
8 +4 +2 +2 +6 Permanent Insight +1 level arcane
9 +4 +3 +3 +6 Command Portal +1 level arcane
10 +5 +3 +3 +7 Superior Warp Shield +1 level arcane

Warp Shield (Su): 1/day call forth an invisible cocoon of teleportation magic that has a 20% of redirecting any magical, melee or ranged attacks upon the portal lord. Attacks made upon the portal lord that are affected by the warp shield instead strike an area adjacent to the portal lord (use random grenade for area that is struck). Creatures standing in the space where an attack is redirected risk being subject to that attack. A warp shield lasts for 1 round/portal lord level.

Prolonged Artifice (Su): Conjuration spells of the teleportation subschool and spells that create extradimensional spaces (roper trick, Mordekainen's magnificent mansion) are affected as if modified by the Extend Spell feat. This is automatic and does not increase the spell slot requirements when preparing a spell.

Spatial Fluency (Ex): Metamagic feats applied to any conjuration spells from the teleportation subschool use up a spell slot one less than what the feat requires. This can never reduce the spell slot requirement to less than 1.

Improved Warp Shield (Su): The portal lord's warp shield now has a 50% chance of intercepting and redirecting magical and physical attacks. Reject Anchoring (Su): The portal lord becomes immune to spells and effects such as dimensional anchor and dimensional lock.

Dimensional Touch (Su): A portal lord can use touch spells on targets up to 30 feet away. If the spell requires a melee touch attack, the portal lord must make a ranged touch attack instead.

Greater Warp Shield (Su): The portal lord's warp shield now allows the portal to redirect a spell effect where the portal lord is the target. The spell must be affected by the warp shield to be redirected. The portal lord must ready this action (as if attempting to counterspell). On a successful Spellcraft check (DC 15 + the spell's level), the portal lord as a standard action successfully teleports the spell to another target within the portal lord's sight. The spell's new target must be within the spell's original range and be an appropriate target. Permanent Insight (Ex): A portal lord can make the following spells permanent using the permanency spell. The portal lord does not have to research the use of permanency on these spells. The knowledge of how teleportation and extradimensional space magic works grants this knowledge automatically.

Rope Trick - 1,000XP
Mordekainen's magnificent mansion - 3,500XP
guards and wards - 3,000XP
maze - 4,000XP
refuge - 4,500XP

Command Portal (Su): A portal lord can force a portal to submit to his will. On a successful Spellcraft check (DC 25), the portal lord can command a portal to do one of the following:

Portal becomes transparent
Lockdown - portal is shut down preventing it from functioning.
Access - The portal grants access to anyone whom the portal lord designates.

Each commanded effect is temporary and lasts for 1 rd/portal lord level. A portal lord can attempt to command a portal a number of times per day equal to his portal lord level.

Superior Warp Shield (Su): The portal lord's warp shield now has a 75% chance to intercept and redirect attacks against the portal lord.

History of the Amethyst Sodality

In the last days of Ancient Imaskar, when it seemed all but sure that their glorious empire would fall to its rebellious slaves, some Imaskari decided to escape rather than fight against the Mulan and their deities. One group secretly fled underground never to be heard from again. Another group of artificers who created and maintained the portals and extradimensional spaces of the empire used their powers to flee south to an Imaskari outpost in Ulgarth. Using abjuration magic to thwart detection, they hid the fortress from prying eyes

Ulgarth, a coastal nation of barbarians, was not enslaved by the Imaskar but they were coerced into paying annual tribute to the empire. The barbarians of Ulgarth had no love for the Imaskari Empire but when they learned of the Mulan uprising, the barbarians grew terrified at the thought of vengeful gods walking the earth.

In the years following the fall of the Imaskari empire, the Ulgarth barbarian tribes thrived without the Imaskar yoke. They roamed throughout their ancestral coastal lands avoiding the handful of seemingly abandoned Imaskari outposts.

The artificers in Ulgarth hid in secret for years. They would teleport to distant lands to trade magic for food and other necessities. They would also follow up on rumors of Imaskar refugees hiding out in the desolate steppes east of Imaskar but these investigation would only occasionally turn up a lone survivor or two.

The artificer's spells also allowed them to spy on the new nations created by their former slaves - Unther and Mulhorand. So long as the artificers could successfully hide in the somewhat familiar territory of Ulgarth, they felt little pressure to abandon this last bit of Imaskar to join some strange "lesser" foreign peoples.

The cultural need to create a permanent record of their people was deeply ingrained in all Imaskari - as ingrained as their lust for power. The artificers were no different. More than a decade after the fall of Imaskar when it was clear that their peoples were mostly slain, the artificers planned for the return of their empire.

They formed the Amethyst Sodality - a secret society to ensure the survival of their Imaskari arcane tradition. They vowed were to work steadily and secretly to weaken their enemies, take advantage of the usurpers of their former lands, and pave the way for a glorious return to Inuprus. The Sodality demanded: that no god be worshipped ever; that the Mulhorandi and Unther were to be forever their enemies; that their portal and teleportation lore of the Imaskar was to be kept hidden for it was their greatest secret and possibly the key to their ultimate victory.

The artificers visited many of their former ruins, reclaiming arcane geode towers and using them to store recovered Imaskari magic and lore. They lived in Ulgarth though for fear of alerting the Mulhorandi of their presence. Over the centuries, Ulgarth grew more and more civilized and the Sodality chose to operate out of Kelezzan. By -1000 DR, the members of the Sodality bore little resemblance to the artificer founders. They spoke and dressed in the manner of the Ulgarth. The artificers also married the Ulgarth people becoming integrally a part of the Ulgarth people. The desire for an Imaskari empire slowly dwindled as opportunities for greater wealth and local power became more realizable.

Today the dreams of rebuilding the ancient Imaskari empire have long since gone away. The Sodality functions more as a secret society that promotes its members' financial interests. Few members of the Amethyst Sodality practice arcane magic although there are two families closely adhere to the ancient rules as set forth by the founding artificers. These two families, the Samangur and the Omprakesh, work together separate from the other members of the Sodality to foment unrest in Semphar and Murghom. Each family prides itself on having at least three Portal Lords in its ranks. The efforts of the Samangur and Omprakesh families are not respected by other members of the Sodality who see the Sodality's ancient vows as archaic directives which hold little meaning today.

Most of the Sodality's members belong to wealthy families throughout Ulgarth and Durpar. They secretly use the portals and extradimensional spaces created by their ancient ancestors to great financial and political advantage.

Penetrate Portal (Metamagic)

You can cast spells that affect targets on a portal's destination side.

Prerequisites: Transdimensional Spell (from UE)

Benefit: When you cast a spell modified with this feat, you are able to establish a line of effect through a portal to an area or target on the other side.

To cast a portal penetration spell, you must have line of sight through the portal to its destination side. If the portal does not have the transparency quality, you must provide some other means to see through it.

A portal penetrating spell uses a spell slot three levels higher than the spell's actual level.

Normal: Spells cannot cross a portal because no line of effect exists.

March 10, 2005: PSIONICS DOMAIN

Deities: Auppenser, Ilsenine. Deep Duerra

Granted Power: You gain Wild Talent as a bonus feat which provides you with a reserve of 2 power points and grants you status as a psionic character. You are now able to take psionic feats, metapsionic feats, and psionic item creation feats.

You do not, however, gain the ability to manifest powers simply by virtue of having this feat. The domain spells listed below are psionic powers from the Expanded Psionics Handbook (XPH). These powers are treated as divine spells when you cast them. You do not expend power points when casting these spells and you cannot augment them by expending power points.

1 Conceal Thoughts: You conceal your motives.
2 Thought Shield: Gain PR 13 against mind-affecting powers and SR 13 against mind-affecting spells.
3 Empathic Transfer, Hostile: Your touch transfers your hurt to another creature.
4 Mindwipe: Subject's recent experiences wiped away, bestowing negative levels.
5 Adapt Body: Your body automatically adapts to hostile environments.
6 Personal Mind Blank: You are immune to scrying and mental effects.
7 Ultrablast: Deal 13d6 damage in 15-ft. radius.
8 True Metabolism: You regenerate 10 hit points/round.
9 Timeless Body: Ignore all harmful and helpful effects for one round.


Before the coup that destroyed Jhaamdath's psiocracy, monastic servants were the priestly wayfarers of the empire, wanderers who went beyond their empire's borders to spread the message of their deity, Auppenser. Skilled in both mind and body, monastic servants set the example of how devotion to Auppenser was empowering and ennobling. Their actions promoted psionics and the worship of Auppenser - and their chosen profession was seen as but one of many possible way of merging these two areas.

Monastic servants were expected to be of sound mind and body. Personal discipline was seen as the utmost sign of respect to Auppenser. Nothing was ever done to excess be it drinking, eating, or sleeping. Self-restraint, meditation and moderation were the means to true enlightenment and perfection of self - honorable goals embraced by the god of psionics.

Tireless enemies of slavery, monastic servants worked openly and unflinchingly against those nations who traded in enslaved beings. Their actions brought the peaceable but ever expanding psiocratic empire of Jhaamdath into frequent skirmishes with the slaving nation of Calimshan.

After the coup, the new regime mercilessly persecuted those monastic servants who vocalized loudly their disapproval of the empire's new and unbalanced direction. Monastic servants were frequently imprisoned, tortured and publicly executed as traitors for speaking their mind.

The monastic servants rightly feared that the radical changes in the Jhaamdathan Empire would ultimately be its undoing. While the form of the empire's doom was unforeseen, the followers of Auppenser believed that only an equally terrible act would restore the balance to the region. Unfortunately for all past and future practitioners of the Invisible Art, that terrible act would nearly wipe out all knowledge of psionics and do dire harm to the god of psionics

The elven magic that destroyed Jhaamdath also killed most of Auppenser's monastic servants. The impact on Auppenser was just as devastating. Greatly diminished in power, the god of psionics was sent into a deep slumber by the goddess of magic. The few monastic servants who survived had neither home nor the guidance of their deity. They spent their days in isolation around the shores where Jhaamdath once stood. The servants were also watchful for retribution from Jhaamdath's enemies who took great delight in tormenting Jhaamdathan survivors.

Auppenser has only recently shown signs of stirring from his sleep. The cause of his slow awakening is unknown but it may be tied to a greater awareness of psionics in areas near to the ancient lands of Jhaamdath, particularly Hlondeth and other yuan-ti populated areas.

No monastic servant of Auppenser has existed for centuries. Detailed knowledge of the class exists in a few places most likely beneath the waves recorded in some permanent form such as a psionic stone or buried by a surviving monastic servant who sought to leave a reminder of who he was for a future generation.

A new church of Auppenser would have many obstacles to face - the most important being how to awaken their deity. It is very likely that an awakened Auppenser would reward such worshippers with an Initiate of Auppenser feat to replace the Servant of the Fallen feat.

Hit Die: d8


To qualify to become a Monastic Servant of Auppenser, a character must fulfill all the following criteria:

Alignment: Any neutral

Skills: Concentration 8 ranks

Spellcasting: Able to cast 3rd level divine spells

Feats: Wild Talent (or substitute the Psionics domain if using the domain from the beginning of this thread); Servant of the Fallen; Psionic Meditation

Domain: Balance (or Psionics if using the domain from the beginning of this thread)

Patron Deity: Auppenser

Special: Can never have cast a spell or used a magic or psionic item to dominate or control the mind of another being.

The Monastic Servant's class skills are:
Concentration (Con)
Balance (Dex)
Climb (Str)
Craft (Int)
Heal (Wis)
Jump (Str)
Listen (Wis)
Knowledge (psionics)
Knowledge (religion)
Psicraft (Int)
Spot (Wis)
Swim (Str)
Tumble (Dex)
Use Psionic Device (Int)

Skill Points at Each Level: 2 + Int modifer

Weapons and Armor Proficiency: Monastic Servants gain no proficiency with any weapon or armor.

Spells per Day: When a new monastic servant level is attained, the character gains new spells per day as if she had also attained a level in one of her divine spellcasting classes. She does not gain any other benefit from a character from that class would have gained (bonus feats, etc).

If a character has more than one divine spellcasting class, she must decide to which class she adds each level of monastic servant for purposes of determining spells per day and caster level.

Class Level BAB Fort Ref Will Special Spells per day
1 +0 +0 +0 +2 Psionic Discipline, Sublime Transference +1 level divine
2 +1 +0 +0 +3 Path of the Servant +1 level divine
3 +2 +1 +1 +3 Strength of Will +1 level divine
4 +3 +1 +1 +4 Greater Path of the Servant +1 level divine
5 +3 +1 +1 +4 Sudden Intuition +1 level divine
6 +4 +2 +2 +5 Final Path of the Servant +1 level divine
7 +5 +2 +2 +5 Quicken Focus +1 level divine

Psionic Discipline (Sp): The monastic servant chooses one of the six disciplines available to the psion class. The powers from that discipline are now on the monastic servant's cleric spell list meaning that the monastic servant can prepare and cast powers from that discipline as if they were divine spells of the same level. These powers detect as both divine and psionics although they are divinely powered. A monastic servant does not expend power points when casting these spells and cannot augment them by expending power points. If a monastic servant is or becomes a psion, she must choose the same discipline.

Sublime Transference (Ex): At 1st level, a monastic servant's class levels stack with any of her psionic class levels for purposes of determining caster level dependent variables of a manifested power (such as range, duration, etc.) and for purposes of meeting feat requirements. Additionally, a monastic servant with a psionic item creation feat can make psionic items using any psionic powers she knows (either from a psionic class or from psionic powers that she can prepare as divine spells). A monastic servant without any psionic class levels uses her monastic servant class level as her manifestor level when crafting psionic items.

Path of the Servant (Ex): At 2nd level, a monastic servant must choose one of 4 paths to follow. Each path grants a bonus feat to the monastic servant even if she does not meet the prerequisites. If the character already has the feat, she gains no benefit.

Path - Bonus Feat
Path of the Walker - Mental Leap
Path of the Warrior - Psionic Weapon
Path of the Unarmed - Psionic Fist
Path of the Certain - Ghost Attack

Strength of Will (Ex): A monastic servant applies her Wisdom bonus to Fortitude saves and to her Jump, Swim, and Climb checks.

Greater Path of the Servant (Ex): At 4th level, a monastic servant continues on her chosen path gaining an additional bonus feat.

Path - Bonus Feat
Path of the Walker - Speed of Thought
Path of the Warrior - Greater Psionic Weapon
Path of the Unarmed - Greater Psionic Fist
Path of the Certain - Aligned Attack

Sudden Intuition (Ex): A monastic servant applies her Wisdom bonus to Reflex saves and her Balance and Tumble checks.

Final Path of the Servant (Ex): At 6th level, a monastic servant gain the final bonus feat completing her path.

Path - Bonus Feat
Path of the Walker - Up the Walls
Path of the Warrior - Deep Impact
Path of the Unarmed - Unavoidable Strike
Path of the Certain - Wounding Attack

Quicken Focus (Ex): A monastic servant can attempt to become psionically focused as an immediate action. The DC to become psionically focused as a free action increases by +5. This counts towards the limit of one immediate action per round allowed to a character.

March 18, 2005: Being the first parts of psionic release 3 (a Jhaamdathan timline and a minor encyclopedic reference at the bottom)...

LEOF provides much more about the mysterious Jhaamdathan empire than ever known before. The names of the 12 cities are provided. It is learned that psionics were a key part of the empire in both religious belief and in their government. And a few Jhaamdathan legacies were left behind mainly the ghost city of Dhinnilith, the nimblestep blades, and drowned swordwraiths emerging occasionally from the depths of Vilhon Reach. This barely scratches the surface of an empire that existed for many millenia.

Simply put, Jhaamdath was an empire whose citizenry espoused on two competing forces. One force pushed for imperial expansion, the other was for a balanced society. By necessity, compromise was required on both sides to keep Jhaamdathan society going forward. Expansion occurred but at a much slower rate. For centuries, neither side truly dominated the empire until just prior to Jhaamdath's fall when the forces desiring expanion began their disastrous attempt to dominate all of Faerun.

Here is the first of what was not included in LEOF:

The Jhaamdathan Timeline

-5800 DR The Jhaamdathan Empire begins when the psychic warrior, Jhaam, unites regional human tribes under his family, the Dath Dynasty.

-5750 DR Dhinnilith is founded.

-5730 DR The great psionic mystic, Laszik Silvermind of Dhinnilith, emerges from deep meditation claiming to have received visions from Auppenser that provide a great plan for Jhaamdath along three precepts:

1) Jhaamdath shall have but six cities.
2) Each city shall be a focused center for psionic learning.
3) No Jhaamdathan shall enslave any being.

Laszik retires to Auppenser's main temple in Dhinnilith.

-5729 DR Jhaamdath emancipates its slave population despite protest from its slaveowners. The city's psiarchs (priests of Auppenser) call for Dhinnilith to become "balanced" in the name of Auppenser. City streets are now planned, and the city's white marble building share equal space with nature.

-5725 DR Laszik creates the first udoxias announcing that all and any with the power of psionics can harness the udoxias' abilities. People from throughout the region learn of the Invisible Art and flock to Dhinnilith to acquire this mysterious mind magic. The first order of monastic servants is formed.

-5710 DR Psionic learning blooms in Dhinnilith. Laszik founds the Psiondus (Udoclian in Jhaamdathan), a university promoting the Invisible Art. All udoxias for later cities are created in the Psiondus by the school's highest masters.

-5700 DR Under mounting pressure from the church of Auppenser and the psionic community, the ruling oligarchies submit to a psiocratic form of government government. The mastery over psionic power and its just use become the means to political power. Over the years, the former ruling families direct much of their vast resources into acquiring psionic power to ensure that their families remain in control of Jhaamdath.

-5690 DR An aged Laszik mysteriously vanishes and is believed to have ascended whole to serve at Auppenser's side.

The families of the empire's former oligarchy call Dhinnilith "the First City of the Sword" to honor the warrior aspect of Jhaam. As a further sign of their honor, many members of the psiocracy wear symbolic swords at their sides and call themselves "bladelords." The city's psiarchs view their actions as a defiant albeit futile effort to influence the new government.

The name "city of the sword" is then traditionally attached to all later Jhaamdathan cities.

-5600 DR Porrenath is founded. The city is a well-planned, beautiful balance of white stone buildings, wide boulevards, tree-filled plazas and parks. A temple at the center of the city houses the second udoxias. Future Jhaamdathan cities are all modeled around "the Porrenath ideal."

-5500 DR Amid much fanfare, the great port city of Jhouram is founded. It is the Third City of the Sword and the halfway mark of the 6 cities as ordered by Auppenser. The first Jhaamdathan navy is commissioned by the ruling psiocracy. The psiarchs decree in conjunction with the psiocracy that the fourth city shall be unveiled in 200 years.

-5450 DR The psiocracy unexpectedly announces bold plans to build the next two cities sooner than expected. This move is greeted with hostility and suspicion by the church of Auppenser. With much reservation and much heated discourse, the psiarchs agree to aid in this endeavor.

-5425 DR The Jhaamdathan cities of Gharrent and Golmuth are founded, each with a temple to Auppenser and a udoxias at their center.

-5330 DR The war between Coramshan and High Shanatar to Jhaamdath's east is used by the psiocracy to justify the founding of the 6th city, Lirremar. Unlike previous cities, Lirremar is layed out primarily with military defense in mind. Lirremar's udoxias is placed not in a temple but in a keep and guarded by the Imperial Army - a move which infuriates the church. Psiarchs decree that Auppenser's precepts have been fulfilled with the founding of Lirremar.

-5270 DR In alliance with Coramshan, Mir begins wars of conquest to the east.

-5250 DR Partly in response to the growing threat from the east, the twin cities of Tuoxent and Hollinth are founded in the empire's west becoming Jhaamdath's 7th and 8th Cities of the Sword. Like Lirremar, these are also military cities. The psiocracy at first calls the cities military outposts hoping to allay church concerns about the precepts of Auppenser.

Both cities receive udoxias, each one specializing in a subdiscipline of psionics (which was seen by the psiocracy and the Psiondus as a justifiable means of circumventing Auppenser's precepts).

With aggression from Mir and Coramshan looming, the psiarchs acquiese and bless the "towns." Privately, the psiarchs are dismayed, dreading divine punishment from Auppenser for the sins of Jhaamdath.

Over the coming decades, the psiocracy toutes the lack of any military conflict between Jhaamdath and Mir as a sign that the twin cities were a wise move. Powerful members of the psiocracy begin to openly disparage some church policies.

-5032 DR The armies of Mir and Jhaamdath clash for the first time in the Mir-Jhaamdath War. The Jhaamdathan general, Graim Rondhith, allows the Mir army to approach within a mile of Tuoxent's city gates, placing them well-within the psionic radius of the city's udoxian. Rondhith's legions of psychic warriors access the udoxias gaining greater combat skills (feat) that allow them to tear through the armies of Mir. Mir is dealt a crushing blow.

Emboldened by their military success at Tuoxent, the Jhaamdathan army begins to expand the empire's holdings in the west for the next 27 years.

-5007 DR Dealt successive blows by the psionic armies of Jhaamdath, Coramshan and Mir unite.

-5005 DR Truce declared between Jhaamdath and Calimshan (Coramshan and Mir), with both sides relinquishing their claims on the land surrounding the Lake of Steam.

-4850 DR The 9th City of the Sword, Jhirrent, is founded in the north of the empire. Notably, few psiarchs attend what has historically been a cause of great celebration throughout the empire. The city's udoxias is once again placed at the heart of a military keep.

Psiarchs begin for the first time to work towards positions within the psiocracy.

-4620 DR The 10th City of the Sword, Inixrien, is founded. As a result of the psiarchs greater influence in the psiocracy, Inixrien's udoxias is placed within a temple at the city's center. There is a return to the empire's original interests for balance and Inixrien adopts a city plan similar to Porrenath. The same philosophy carries through for the last two cities of the Sword.

-4470 DR The 11th City of the Sword, Corrant, is founded.

-4620 DR The 12th and Last City of the Sword, Mirrindith, is founded.

For the next 4,000 years Jhaamdath enters a golden age of peace and prosperity although the specter of imperialism brought about by Jhaamdath's old families and military must constantly be checked by the vigilant psiarchs. Minor skirmishes with neighboring states account for little of the empire's history here, most of these being brought about by the action of monastic servants of Auppenser freeing slaves in other nations.

-2381 DR Beholders plague Jhaamdathan colonies around the Alamir Mountains. Tensions rise between Jhaamdath's old families and the psiarchs over how to deal with this threat.

-670 DR For three hundred years, increasing numbers of slaves escape Calimshan and Tethyr with aid from psiarchs and monastic servants of Auppenser.

-339 DR Netheril Falls. From atop the deck of the Seamind in the Inner Sea, Jhaamdathan Admiral Jhoren Mhulth witnesses the floating Netherse city, Nhalloth, plunge into the sea. Horrified by this sight and learning later of Netheril's destruction, the admiral schemes for ways to ensure that Jhaamdath never suffers from such devastation.

-276 DR Jhoren Mhulth's grandson, the great metamind Dharien, seizes control of Jhaamdath with a bloody coup. He fulfills his grandfather's plans to secure Jhaamdath's place as the eternal empire over all of Faerun.

To begin Jhaamdath's conquest of the Inner Sea and all lands surrounding the sea, Dharien commands the building of a great armada. Jhaamdathan loggers seeking wood for this army come into conflict with the elves of the Chondalwood. Over the next twenty years, the Jhaamdathan armies hunt down and slaughter the elves.

Hundreds of fissenters among the church of Auppenser are imprisoned. Some are publicly executed for treason but most are released after being altered with mind-affecting psionics that instill loyalty to Dharien. Church protest over the new regime declines and many members go into hiding.

-273 DR Dharien orders the military to seize those udoxias still in possession of the church. Hundreds of Jhaamdathans in cities loyal to the church bar the military from entering the temples. After a short standoff, Dharien surprisingly concedes defeat ordering his troops to stand down.

-269 DR High masters at the Psiondus are secretly employed by Dhorien to develop defensive measures to prevent a disaster like the one that befell Netheril. Many ideas are put forth including the use of arcane and divine magic as alternatives to Jhaamdath's dependence on psionics. Dhorien encourages the high masters to complete their work in this area.

-264 DR The city of Gharrent, led by church members, attempts to secede from the empire. It is denounced as rebellious by Dhorien who immediately invades the city to crush the rebellion. All suspected rebels and all psiarchs and monastic servants are tried for treason and summarily executed publicly. Gharrent's udoxias is removed by Dhorien's forces and hidden.

-255 DR Jhaamdath destroyed by a tidal wave created by high elven magic. Vannin Dindriex, a high master at the Psiondus, taps into the city's udoxias to enact an epic-level psychoportive power designed to save the city. The untried power was supposed to transport both city and populace to the Astral Plane to avoid catastrophe. Instead, the ill-conceived power failed spectacularly, instantly slaughtering the entire population of Dhinnilith. The bond created by the udoxias, which was aligned to the discipline of telepathy, transformed the city's people into an undead psionic horror - a caller in the darkness. The city and a sizeable chunk of surrounding land were ripped from the surface of Faerun and shifted to the Astral Plane where they remain to this day.

Vannin, who was also slain by his psionic power, was incorporated into the caller in the darkness. At irregular intervals of years or decades, the high master's psyche rises above the undead cacophony of minds inside the caller in the darkness, where the high master's consciousness is temporarily freed. Quite mad after years of becoming a caller, Vanin instinctively uses his epic psychoportive abilities to return the city to Faerun where it silently appears and floats over the Vilhon Reach. These return visits last at most 12 hours or so before either Vannin's psychoportive power ends or his psyche is subsumed back into the caller. The city then returns to the Astral Plane.

Encyclopedia Jhaamdathan

-udo-, -udoc- Jhaamdathan (Old Chondathan) root word meaning insight. The term was commonly used throughout the empire for anything possessing psionic power or ability. It survives today in the name of a plant - the udoroot.

udoxias (sing. & pl.) (pronounced yoo-DOAKS-ee-yas) A powerful artifact of the Jhaamdathan empire. There were 12 udoxias in all - one for each city. Each udoxias was imbued with the powers of one psionic discipline or (in later years) psionic subdiscipline.

Psionic beings in mental contact with a udoxias gained access to any psionic powers or feats contained within the udoxias. Normally only one power or feat could be tapped at a time but the gained ability could be swapped out for another so long as contact was maintained by the user.

Creating a udoxias was an epic task taking years. It required the empire's greatest minds. First multiple uses of the psionic power true creation were employed to create a huge, flawless precious gemstone. Udoxias were typically 20 feet in diameter and typically a diamond, emerald, ruby or sapphire. Then using the epic psionic power, create udoxias, a psion could begin imbuing the artifact with powers and abilities. The effort was nearly always communal and required all participants to link mentally using metaconcert.

Udoxias have been wrongly compared to mythals and mythallars. For one, udoxias were not under the control of a government or a leader. Also, the powers and abilities granted by a udoxias could be tapped by anyone with psionic power and the Udoxian Contact feat. Thirdly, the range of a udoxias extended for miles beyond a city's limits.

On June 3, 2004 Ed Bonny said: Hey Octa,

Good questions!

<<1, what gods other than Auppenser did they worhsip? Same as the Chondathans? Did the Psilords all worship Auppensor or only some of them. I realize that Auppenser was kind of the official state deity.>>

1. Worship of Auppenser was most prevalent in the 12 cities, where psionics was nurtured. Out in the towns and villages, his presence was dramatically less prevalent, and other gods were more prominent. These gods (primarily Chauntea, Tyr, Oghma, and Aumanator) were more a part of the exurban Jhaamdathans daily life are the gods that are worshipped by the Chondathans today.

<<2, The Udoxias Are some of these lingering arond in the cities now water covered in the vilhon.>>

2. I would imagine a few Udoxias survived the tidal wave and lie under the rubble in the Vilhon. One exists under Hlondath, the yuan-ti city built upon the ruins of Lirremar, 6th city of the sword. That artifact could well account for the greater prevalence of psionics found in that city.

<<3, Were all of the Jhaamdathan human? were they mixed race with some psionic race as a trace of their ancestry giving them psionic powers.>>

3. The Jhaamdathans were all human. I could see some DMs allowing elan offspring (say perhaps one or both human parents were psionicists of some sort) or even spontaneous elan birth (or elan traits emerging at puberty) perhaps arising from prolonged exposure to a udoxias.

<<4, What were their relations with Netheril. Did some of the Netherese flee to Jhaamdath?>>

I would guess that Jhaamdath traded regularly with Low Netheril but they otherwise had little cause to interact with each other politically. In time and if both empires had not fallen, each one's slow expansion would have inevitably brought conflict. Imagine the super-psions vs. the super-mages mega-battle that could have been.

As for refugees, I am sure Netherese survivors would have ended up almost anywhere on Faerun depending on their resources and prior contacts (family [I married a psion], trading partners, joint arcane-psionic research, adventuring friends, etc.). I would think that some Netherese arcanists would have enjoyed visiting the pristine white Jhaamdathan cities and perhaps maintained a tower or retreat there. Jhaamdath was, after all, a stably run realm suitable and thus attractive as a place to visit. So yes, I am sure more than a handful of Netherese survivors came to Jhaamdath.

<<5. Is Jhaamdath being taken over by Unther in -1500 to -1000 still canon, or should it be ignored (from races)>>

5. I go with the retcon'd timeline, although you can explain this as a long series of border skirmishes that never went anywhere.

<<6, Mystryl or the previous Mystra (not sure which) imprisoned Auppensor? Why ? And how does the current Mystra feel about Psionics and Auppensor>>

6. Auppenser was not imprisoned. His death would have ended psionics permanently on Toril. He was sent into a long regenerative slumber from which he is only now beginning to awake from. That move saved psionics from being eradicated.

<<7. Would the chosen try and interfere with a new spread of psionics across the realms or a freeing of Auppensor.>>

7. I don't really see that happening. Psionics is not really a threat to them the same that divine magic is not a threat to the Chosen either.

<<8. What would a Jhaamdathan Paladin/Psiwar look like and who would he worship, Tyr?>>

A Jhaamdathan "psi-knight" would have worshipped Auppenser then. A modern day version could worship Tyr or Auppenser (provided he learned of the psionic god's existence). I would lean with Auppenser solely simply because of the psionic aspect of the class. Tye is really not about magic or psionics). As for what such a class might look like....hmmm, if I had to pick a prestige class off the top of my head, I would go with a psionic version of the Eldritch Knight from the DMG.


Interesting development. And very believable. What better way to reclaim your lost imperial power than by taking over another empire.


On June 17, 2005 Ed Bonny said: This last bit of psionic information has been long overdue. I wholeheartedly apologize.

Udoxian Contact[PSIONIC]
You are able to tap into a udoxian.
Benefit: You become instantly aware when you have stepped within range of a udoxias. As a full round action, you may contact a udoxian, gaining instant knowledge of all powers and feats that it contains. This contact lasts for as long as you remain within the artifact's range, or if you choose to end such contact.

When in contact with a udoxias, you have access to many of its special abilities. As a full round action, you may temporarily acquire one feat or a power of the udoxias, however, you temporarily give up one feat, or one power of the same level. This swap lasts for as long as you remain in contact with the udoxias, or if you choose to end the swap. You cannot acquire a power that is a higher level than you could normally manifest. You do not benefit from and cannot use any udoxias-acquired feats for which you do not meet the prerequisites.

(NOTE - A typical udoxias contains all the powers of a single discipline or subdiscipline in the XPH, a few new powers, all metapsionic feats, and 50% of the psionic feats in the XPH. This "formula" is what can be found in a typical Jhaamdathan udoxias. It could theoretically contain any number of feat and power combinations).

On July 7, 2005 Ed Bonny said: Hey Paul,

I had overlooked the Valigan-Exarch connection although it clearly is part of the tale of Jhaamdath's destruction (and Tyr's arrival and subsequent involvement with the empire's fragmented survivors.)

At the time of Valigan's "appearance" in Jhaamdath, Auppenser's followers were being harassed, persecuted, and shut out by the more imperial-minded militants of the empire. Valigan could certainly have seen the imperial dreams of many Jhaamdathans as an opportunity to inject future chaos.

That would bring us to Thelasand. I do not see any true Jhaamdathan worshipping a god of chaos unless that god sought out someone receptive. Persecution can open the door to many unforeseen consequences. It seems very likely that the awful treatment "Auppenser-loyalists" received would inevitably give rise to a Jhaamdathan who was sorely disenchanted with the imperialists (in this case, Thelasand, an ancient noble family whose persistent devotion to Auppenser caused the family's recent downfall). Such a person would be perfect for Valigan to use as an agent of anarchy.

Valigan approached Thelasand. The god nurtured dreams of dismantling the harsh regime that was the cause of Thelasand's personal misery. Thelasand was offered revenge against the cruel imperialists and their ways. Bloodshed would, of course, be needed to free the region of Jhaamdath's lust for empire. But to accomplish this, it would be necessary to strike from within and on high. Thelasand would need to position himself to make this happen. He would need to be emperor if he were to bring down the empire.

And so from humble beginnings and with secret aid from Valigan, Thelasand feigned to be an imperialist as he rose his way up through the military and government. His military campaigns were conducted in ways that benefitted Valigan greatly by causing great carnage and devastation.

Flush with fame and military success, Thelasand easily gained access to the emperor and was able to influence him in matters of imperial policy. The imperial-minded Jhaamdathans were certainly open to most any option that enriched or empowered the empire (and also enrich the participants). The Valigan-inspired idea for an imperial navy, when proposed to the emperor by Thelasand, seemed to be a logical step to grow the empire. As for the elves whose forests would supply the ships' wood? The wholesale slaughter of elves would be a small if not inconsequential price to pay.

And so we come to the last days of the empire. Thelasand was no doubt highly pleased with himself. In a relatively short period of time, he became a powerful player in Jhaamdathan politics. In a year or two, he would be in a position to slay the emperor and take over Jhaamdath. Then he would begin his plans to dismantle the psionic empire, disband its armies, free the 12 cities, and throw the entire region into anarchy.

As mentioned earlier, persecution can open doors to unforeseen circumstances. While the Chondalwood was being ravaged, I doubt Thelesand foresaw the fast-approaching day when his empire would destroyed by elven high magic. I imagine that Valigan was well aware (if not thrilled) that Jhaamdath's doom was nigh.

In the end, both participants in this saga lost. Thelesand never realized his dreams to take down the imperialists. And Valigan's successful plans for anarchy would ultimately lead to his death at the hands of Tyr.

- Ed


Note: These came from SKR's boards, but I believe they were requested from Ed by Garen Thal.

Hammer: HAM-mer
Alturiak: al-TUR-ee-ak
Ches: CHESS (pronounced like the game)
Tarksakh: TAR-sakh (the kh being a guttural "k" sound, similar to the clearing of the throat)
Mirtul: MIR-tul
Kythorn: kEYE-thorn
Flamerule: FLAME-rule
Eleasias: el-EE-se-ass
Eleint: eh-LYE-nt
Marpenoth: MAR-pen-oth
Uktar: OOK-tar
Nightal: NIGH-tall


Febuary 13, 2005 FR mailing list reply: Hi, Jeff. In reply to the Foilsunder request:

Realmslore is largely silent on dragons in that particular area. Steven Schend is the reigning authority, thanks to his creation of Erlkazar and writing Empires of the Shining Sea. The dragon demesnes map of mine that was mentioned doesn't cover that particular area, being as the series was supposed to be Wyrms of the NORTH. I can tell you, from my notes, that at least two blue dragons hunt over the lands on the north side of the Lake of Steam. Both are large, and they hunt very rarely, so they must sleep a lot - - and it follows from all of this that they must both be of great age. They are NOT friends, but seem to avoid each other rather than fighting, which argues that they know each other of old, and are fairly evenly matched or have some sort of offsetting holds over each other. There are at least six weredragons living in human form in the Border Kingdoms, and some steel dragons doing the same thing in the Calishite Lake of Steam port cities (use song dragons if you're only running "official" 3e stuff). All of these 'hidden dragons' enjoy human company, intrigue, and society, and a few of them seem to be hiding from someone or something, but just who or what, and why, they keep mysterious. Wyverns and other "lesser dragon" creatures (including at least one squamous spewer, in labyrinthine cellars beneath a ruined, name-now-lost village south of the Thornwood and east of the River Minta) can be found in the lands north of the Lake of Steam, but battling humans has made them far fewer than they once were.

Hope this helps. Ed


On March 12, 2005 Steven Schend said: Well, she's one of mine, so I'll chime in and give you a little on her....

Born in 1344 to Kessal Idogyr and Salayarantiir(a moon elf of unknown heritage but living in the Wealdath) down in Tethyr, she is the third of four children, her younger sister Lara arriving three years later (and who is now a priestess in the House of Wonder). At the age of three, Carolyas and her infant sister Lara (as well as three of their Gharlund cousins) flee from the Black Days of Tethyr with their aunt Trisata Idogyr, and they eventually find safety in hiding up in Silverymoon by the end of 1347.

Technically, she and her sister should have inherited the county Spellshire in Tethyr, as their father was the 6th son of Count Darud I (and Gamalon Idogyr was the 7th son). Neither girl had any interest or desire to join the Reclamation Army of Prince Haedrak, nor does either have any real memories of Tethyr. They enjoyed their youth in Silverymoon and until their aunt's death in 1361, they had rarely left its environs.

The sisters came to Waterdeep and were taken in briefly by Khelben "Blackstaff" Arunsun after his appearance at Trisata's funeral. After only a year in Blackstaff Tower, both chose different paths and left to join the Watch and the priesthood of Mystra.

When Carolyas turned 20, she and Lara jointly inherited a small rowhouse in lower Castle Ward owned but rarely occupied by Trisata. The women share it to this day when they are not kept busy or elsewhere by their individual pursuits. Otherwise, rooms are let out and rented to help with the bulding's upkeep.

Carolyas has the fiery red curls and emerald green eyes of her father, but she's a little jealous of Lara (who has the night-black straight hair of her mother and wears it halfway down her back). "Olya" is even-handed and calm with none of the expected temper to go with her shoulder-length red hair, even though she quarrels with Khelben the Blackstaff over stodgy and conservative rules about magic use at length.

That's all the info I've got in mind/at hand for her; what sorts of things did you want to know?

Steven Schend
Who's got Waterdeep on the brain now

On April 25, 2005 Steven Schend said: Was browsing the WotC boards under a pseudonym, and saw that people were querying for info on Shoonach and/or researches of the Shoon into magics. As I've a little time at lunch, I figured I'd toss a few ideas into the ether....

All of the qysars (and all of their lapdog sycophantic vizars and courts) contributed to a great library of magical knowledge that helped the Shoon Imperium maintain its control for as long as it had. The bulk of the spell knowledge now lost to the Realms (but findable by those with the daring to brave the ruins) is offensive and brutal in nature. Many of these spells make the darkenbeast spell look like a kindness.

While I've no time (or inclination) to do full stats ala 3.5, here's some spell ideas that people could possibly find in Shoonach (and perhaps they'd be lauded to the skies if they could reverse-engineer some spells to do good things):

Skeletrap--sacrifice 2+ animated skeletons to wrap around a victim as a bone-cage, anchoring him/her in place to the area of effect. The more skeletons sacrificed, the stronger the cage is (i.e. the higher the Break DC is for the pinned victim) My guess puts this around Level 4 spells.

Eyes of the Drow--victim must suddenly make saves vs. blindness as his/her eyes are replaced with eyes not accustomed to daylight. Beneficial spell at night/subterranean, but most often used (since it has a multiple target effect over an area) to disable spellcasters and give the caster a distinct advantage temporarily. L3 spell? Duration variable according to levels.

If folks want to discuss and toss around more ideas, I'll be checking in now and again.


On June 10, 2005 Steven Schend said: That's not entirely 100% correct, I'm afraid.

Anyone can use high magic, provided they learn/find the rituals and understand enough to cast it correctly.

The real trick is SURVIVING said casting.

Looking at Epic castings and all that jazz, you could actually do a High Magic ritual with no elves, if you had enough people for support, enough very high level workers of Art, and enough things to sacrifice (i.e. relics, artifacts, etc.) so they get destroyed instead of the casters, etc.... Obviously lots of what ifs and if thens, but it's possible....

The more likely scenario across Realms history:

"I have found the notes of Orjalun, and I've got everything assembled to cast this great spell!"

"I understand! By Mystra's shining eyes, it's marvelous!"

The main reason I set up High Magic the way I did in 2E was for game balance and to restrict it to NPC use; while I still believe it's better as a story element than a game element, it can be cast by anyone who can comprehend the rituals.

One of the primary reasons people still hunt for the Nether Scrolls is that they're the Aryvandarran "cheat sheets" on High Magic, as it were. A lot of what Aryvandarr wrote down and what was found by the Netherese was what they could understand and plunder from the High Magic city and libraries of Miyeritar.

Is that ALL there is to High Magic? Sheesh, no. The First and Fifth Crown Wars probably destroyed or locked away vastly more lore than the modern Realms has ever seen on High Magic. Makes you wonder what's truly behind Kraanfhaor's Door (from LOST EMPIRES), dunnit?

Yes, I'm probably contradicting myself a bit as I've not reread CORMANTHYR in an age, and it's also unofficial in the sense that I'm not a game designer for WOTC either. Still, they're my opinions and I thought I'd stick my head in and drop them off for discussion.

Who still holds that some powerful elven magics are exclusively for those of elven blood (like kiira and such)....but he also reminds folk that Khelben, while outwardly human, counts as having elven blood (as a few of his descendants), so never say never....

On June 14, 2005 Steven Schend said: I don't post on WotC's boards for personal reasons that shall remain my own.

That said, there have been a few discussions re: dukars, sea elves, etc.

For anyone who cares to cross-post this for me, you have my thanks.

"Sea of Fallen Stars breaks from the D&D core tradition in 2E that sea elves did not have access to wizardly magic. How it does so is simple--the majority of the sea elves by modern times had descended from or were still land elves transformed into aquatic elves by powerful magics when they fled either during Myth Drannor's fall or during the Crown Wars.

The sea elves of the Inner Sea have different coloration than those of the greater outer Sea of Swords, which also helps differentiate them from those who cannot wield wizards' magics.

That said, 3E may've thrown out that restriction. If it's left unsaid, it could be laid out that sea elves can only be sorcerers and automatically get the "no need for components" feat or something.

Your call, all, but I just thought I'd state for the record how/why I chose to break the core rules restriction as already stated and still produce something useful for FR Canon.

By the by, the inspiration for the Dukars (for those who hadn't caught all the hidden links/references/hints) was the Jedi. Of course, the Dukars were Jedi as I saw them long before the latest trilogy ever existed....."

Thanks, and I hope this info proves useful for some folk here as well.


On June 23, 2005 Steven Schend said: Speaking as someone who put 10 years of his life into TSR/WotC and the Realms, I'll say this:

The sourcebooks and the modules and the boxed sets and game books are all the facts and "nonfiction"/"hard info" on Abeir-Toril, Faerun, and all the lands in between.

The novels bring all that information to life (sometimes canonically, sometimes taking liberties).

If I were looking to introduce someone to the Realms, I'd toss them novels, as they're easier pills to digest, they provide a lot more "in the now" action, and they're only telling a story, not trying to teach you the history of the world/country/city.

Best suggestions for widest array of info--the short story anthologies.

Best suggestions for "truest feel for Realms"--any books by Cunningham, Greenwood, or Grubb (and Baker & Salvatore coming in close seconds)

After all, you'd not get people interested in spy thrillers or mysteries by making them read CIA factbooks and Phillip Agee's CIA DIARY, would you?

Who still thinks the best Realms supplements are those that provide 50% more lore than rules, but he's a wee bit biased there....

On June 24, 2005 Steven Schend said: I wrote that quite a while ago and have had two hard drive crashes in the interim (actually within the past 2 months alone). Thus, any notes I had left over re: Calimport are most likely dust in the wind...

That said, what I was able to cram into CALIMPORT wasn't even as much as Ed got into FR1 Waterdeep & the North on Waterdeep with less pages. So, the quick answer is "Gods no, that's hardly scratching the surface of what's at play in Calimport. It's only what's in print and or what we could glean from those sages who survived reaching us with their lore."

Off the top of my head, here are the factions that are in play across the City of Qysars....

the Syl-Pasha and his family and their retinue;

the previously ruling and powerful families;

the Church of Shar (which probably holds as much covert power as the two above groups combined);

The Twisted Rune (which, in its own arcane ways, influences as much as all three groups above);

and of course, don't forget the street level stuff that's more than likely going to distract PCs from bothering the big guns with their witless heroics....unless you're looking to join the rebellion that's smuggling halfling slaves out of the lesser cities--because most escaped slaves that try to flee via the Muzad are known as "walking sacrifices" (Can't find my arabic dictionary to muddle up a translation) and more apt to be blooded on an altar of Shar's (or one of her sham godly aliases, like Ibrandlin).

If we're going to talk more and brainstorm, do me a favor and let's move this discussion to my group, eh?

On July 2, 2005 Steven Schend said: Just remember this--the assumption on many sections of CORMANTHYR was either that this was lore of the elves about the elves or observations and writings by humans and others about elves. The idea that High Magic could ONLY be done because of elven blood is a sound one, but it's also just as likely to be elven propaganda to keep humans from repeating the same abuses the Netherese did after they learned magic from the elves and then going off on wild tears....

After all, in my mind, most elves (whether they realize it or not) have a parental sort of "we know better and are protecting you from yourselves" sort of attitude. Y'all have seen it--Khelben's got the same mindset 75% of the time....

Who knows that the truths behind the Realms (and life in general) are as slippery as an underdone eel hand-tart from Mother Tathlorn's...

On July 2, 2005 Steven Schend said: Very little was known about the sharn, as they tended to slay most everything that encountered them.

It wasn't until Sarharala of Mikaldell's Treatise on Things Mysterious and Misunderstood was penned in the Year of the Normiir (611 DR) that wizards and scholars of note actually had a definitive description of them. "Sarha" never explained why or how she both encountered a sharn and survived to tell the tale, but she also had a talent for abjurations, often building impenetrable defenses that allowed her to remain unseen and undisturbed in order to best observe creatures without being noticed. She was also among the first in the Sword Coast North to sketch and record observations on the following creatures: phaerimm, banelar, chitine, sharn, drider, and purple worm. She died in the Year of Nineteen Swords (621 DR), a victim of orc bandits, on her way back from the High Forest and headed toward Ardeep. She lies buried beneath a nigh-forgotten moss-coverd and fallen cairn a mile or so northeast of the Stone Bridge. How they caught her unawares despite her many warning spells kept her two former husbands seeking revenge against known rivals of hers for decades afterward....

Oh, sorry. Weren't we talking about sharn? Got off on a tangent there. Spent too much time around Ed, I guess....

What else do I have to say about sharn? How about---


On July 9, 2005 Steven Schend said: Well, I've worked some of them into the novel, but to talk more would ruin things. I will say the book hinges on a plot I've kept in my back pocket for far more years than the Harper/Moonstar schism...though I would love to do a book on just that myself.

In lieu of that, whaddya wanna know about the Schism?

In some folks' eyes (i.e. the Harpers fanatically loyal to the hierarchy at Berdusk), the Harpers/Moonstars split is akin to the state of American politics among its two major parties. They're two groups that share alleged goals but have vastly different attitudes and ideas about the good ways to go about them.

Among the rank and file and those in the field, it's really just a tempest in a teapot bit of semantics. If someone who's now a Moonstar was previously a trusted friend, they're not going to stop trusting that person on someone else's say-so. Most are too pragmatic for that.

On the other hand, neither side will be all 100% trusting. Think of them as "fellow intelligence agents." Each side may know things about the other side and/or situations, but neither side wants to be the one to tip their hand....

That help you out in terms of attitudes, role-playing, and such, Sage?

PS: Wooly, Kyriani still sleeps with Harpers, despite her Moonstar status. Just in case you were wondering.

On July 22, 2005 Steven Schend said: Not literally, no....

But he's the one Piergeiron looks to, and " the Open Lord goes, so goes the City of Splendors..."

Yes, there's tons of people that can do quite a lot, and no, he's probably not the highest level character in the city. This is why we sometimes hate statting up characters--it's not always in the numbers...and remember that Khelben, while he likes to answer to no one but himself, rarely if ever acts alone.

He's not the only one with the ability to help or save the city. He just acts like that.

Khelben's one of the few who could (because of personal relationships, history, and sheer force of will) rally all these forces behind him: The Guard, the Watch, the Watchful Order, every former apprentice of Blackstaff Tower (and know they number in at least dozens within the city alone), the Lords, the Lords' Agents, the Red Sashes & Force Grey, many a Moonstar and Harper (despite current political difficulties), the Thann noble family and its allies, and random others who owe him a debt. This ignores entirely his relationships with the relgions and churches, the other guilds, Laeral's contacts within Skullport and beyond, their fellow Chosen, and the Lords' Alliance.

Call me biased, but I can't see too many others (aside from Laeral or Piergeiron) who might be able to marshall that kind of support, should the City need him to do so.

That's one of the flaws of D&D--individual stats almost never fully detail what sorts of things a character can do in a realistic setting. And for all his curmudgeonry, Khelben is someone who needs people on many levels, whether he'd ever admit it or not.

And by the by, yes, Lord Maskar's chastised him publicly about things, but just as we know that Khelben puts on a public facade and demeanor, he's hardly the first or only archmage to do so. (And yes, that's a hint of sorts...)

Sure, there are many, many defenders and powerful allies of Waterdeep that don't have a blessed thing to do with Blackstaff Tower, and they're all good and hearty heroes who should have songs to praise them. Given my focus and bias for the past 15 years, though, I'll hardly give them much ground. I'm fully and unabashedly one of the biggest fans ever of the son of Arun.

Steven Schend

Who's highly curious about this discussion and wants to see more people and why they don't think Khelben's suffered enough...

PS: Yes, I have a history for Khelben in my head, and it's true he's not suffered much "on stage," but the man's had his hardships and his trials. I just pray I'll some day get the chance to tell y'all about them.

PPS: For the record, Khelben's been buried/entombed at least seven times across his 960 year lifespan, had his body nearly or totally destroyed on at least three of those occassions, and seen the deaths of more spouses and offspring than any Chosen (so far as I know, but Ed and I haven't talked much on that regard for a long time now...and Sylune's still much of a mystery to all but Ed and THO).

PPSS: Khelben's suffered, but I'll agree that he might be setting himself up for a fall, if only because we all know what goeth before one, and he's got that in spades.....

On August 6, 2005 Steven Schend said: Nope. :) Never safe to say things in game-speak, simply because the rules keep changing.

After all, if I'd actually be slavishly following the stats that WotC keeps giving to Khelben, he not only could not have gotten away with half of what he does in his novel, he would not have been able to do 1/3 of what he's already got attributed to him in past Realmslore. THAT is why I'm a big proponent of not statting up certain NPCs and Definitely never statting up godly avatars. Stats only make certain gamers want to go out and kill them just to claim they did. I mean, honestly, he's got better skill ranks in Painting than in certain Knowledge skills? Sheesh. And if anyone thinks that he doesn't have access to great magics simply because his stats don't say so, every GM should know THAT is why he keeps winning his fights--Khelben sends faulty info to WotC about what he can/can't do. I should know--he lied to me often enough over the years..."for thine own good..."

If it works for you that Sanctify the Wicked would help create Garnet as he exists, than that's canonical in your campaign. I'm not nearly as well versed in 3.5E as 2E, so I'll just stick to whatever story I'd already attributed to him and his creation.


On August 8, 2005 Steven Schend said: Try this scenario on for size--You're a mid- to high-ranking elf and you've seen your people get slaughtered all around you. You're not a coward, but you and five others are all that's left of three-score, so you quickly swap your armor for a private's and cover up your rank tattoos....allowing you to go into hiding to fight back another day.

If a few lone Japanese guys can hide out in the jungles of the Pacific for decades to fight WWII, why not a few akh'faer hiding in the northern forests?

And I'm glad others like the tattoos. I never got around to writing up some of the grislier items to result from the Weeping War--Imagine gloves/sleeves/bracers of leather made from the tattooed skin of an akh'faer officer....or leather armor almost impervious to spells due to being made from the skins of a dozen akh'faer....etc. THIS is the sort of stuff we'd always think up and it would be logical from the Army of Darkness standpoint...but TSR would never let us print it. And no, I don't have stats--just those ideas...


Who's getting more curious to see where y'all will take this campaign idea...

On August 8, 2005 Steven Schend said: If you're asking me, yes, "Hala" survived along with her dragon mount. Chances are she should be back in stasis again.

Officially, you'll have to ask Rich or someone else at WotC.


Who (to answer another query) states that anyone he intended to kill between Cormanthyr and FOMD left a body behind...and yes, the comic-book "no body=no death" rule DEFINITELY should apply to quite a few folks therein.

PS: Remember that "The Nameless Chosen" gets marked as a death in the Myth Drannan rosters, simply because they didn't see him after he got hauled through the Silversgate and it exploded....but he's still hale and hearty as the Blackstaff....

On August 8, 2005 Steven Schend said: No mistake. They knew EXACTLY who/what they were getting when they recruited her. As to whether or not she's got a history with Blackstaff Tower or not, I'll not speculate now (because I've not reread all the lore I wrote back in 1996-99 to refresh me brain...). Just be sure that if they're in the tel'Teukiira, they've been vetted and screened and triple-checked for their usefulness and loyalties at a level inconceivable to even the most ardent politicos on this world. Steven

Who will say Khelben actually enjoys having the shadier members of the Moonstars around, as it's fun for him to watch them try and outmaneuver him as he's 17 steps ahead of them....

On August 8, 2005 Steven Schend said: An easier reason is this: The Stone-cutters' guild will neither work on the building nor will they allow any non-guild workers to have anything to do with it (via veiled threats or promises of retaliation or friendship with the guild). And if only the faithful to a dark god are left, they have to build it despite discrete sabotage by opposing clergies and agents, the Red Sashes, etc.

Yup, it's vastly easier to cozy up to a down-on-his-luck noble with some farmlands within a day's ride of the City, get on his good side by covering his debts, and "kindly asking for a parcel of land on which to build a veneration to our lord..." While the Guard patrols the trade roads, they don't hold much cotton on noble-held lands and thus a temple could build strength in relative quiet/safety, provided they didn't kick up too much fuss or draw attention to themselves....


Who's now just corrupted half the farmlands with one idea, hm?

On August 10, 2005 Steven Schend said: "Perhaps," said Khelben. "Sit there and think on it awhile. I'll be back to retreive you before Harvestide..."

Bear in mind that the two entries for Ches 6 COULD be simultaneous; it's just that Orthak ties into more plots than the rest of the clones, so he got singled out. Therefore, depending on how you want to read that, it's either part of the larger event or a separate event in and of itself.

The EXACT cause of the Manshoon Wars, IMO, should remain up to GMs. I've left scattered hints aplenty on at least three or four different causes. And ALL of them are more than happy to lay claim to doing so for political reasons.

So, yes, there's a clue in the Orthak lore, you're right Wooly. Precisely what the clue points to is up to all ye individual GMs to parse out and decide for yourselves.

After all, isn't that the fun of it all?


On August 24, 2005 Steven Schend said: Haven't read the WotSQ books yet (only have the first two and they're stuck in storage 2000 miles away from me) so I can't comment on any of that. I'll trust that the authors involved treated them appropriately. I was just teasing Thomas, that's all. And yes, eventually, I'll get around to reading WotSQ one o' these days.....

I haven't given that much thought to Hellgate Dell in a few years, but since Turlang's Tree Delivery Service isn't nearly as fast as they think they are, it probably is relatively the same status I left it in back in 1996....though I could be wrong. Haven't reread the FRCS in a while....

If it were up to me (and be sure that it ain't), Turlang and a few others who learned of the surviving terrors/dangers in the keep might make some changes.

* Working with the Mistmaster and other Tel'teukiira to clear out any possible things to be gained (like reclaiming some old artifacts)

* Either collapsing more rock into the chasm and/or filling the ruins with water via some help from Eldathan priests or others to flood the chambers beneath the Keep (and yes, they'd plan this out by collapsing many tunnels found beneath the keep).

* Cover the slopes and surrounding areas with brambles, holly, and other plants more hassle and pain than are worth forging through (if not full trees and treants to slow any entrants).

* Yes, they're butting heads with Everlund, as they're thinking long-term, which rarely takes into account generations (let alone single lifespans) of humanity who happen to be in the way....

That help?

On August 30, 2005 Steven Schend said: Khelben's a "wheels within wheels" kinda guy.

Thus, there's the physical library in Blackstaff Tower, accessible to all apprentices, visitors, and general guests.

Then there's the libraries accessed only by senior staff/apprentices and archmages with "the need to know" and the proper command words to reach that library from the tower.

And then, known only to the very few, is Khelben's truly private library, which has never been seen before (or at least it won't be until next July) in print but contains his most rare secrets and tomes and is only reachable from the central stairs of Blackstaff Tower but is not physically inside of Blackstaff Tower.

After all, if we relied on the maps of the Tower that existed in the past, how in the Nine Hells could they even have 6 apprentices on hand, let along the dozens usually talked about? There's no room for them unless you assume there are extradimensional levels to the Tower unmapped and kept secret from outsiders....

Doubt the mud's any clearer now, but that's my morning take on Blackstaff Tower.

On September 2, 2005 Steven Schend said: Yes, they have to shoulder some blame, but not quite all of it....they weren't alone in being petty, opportunistic, xenophobic, or merely paranoid. There were lots of people and factors culpable. They just had more influence and ways in which to affect things.

Like many things, the dream rarely survives unless Everyone is equally invested in it...and despite centuries of trying, Myth Drannor always had its divisions.

Me, I'd rather focus on the people who GOT it and embraced Oacenth's Vow and Eltargrim's Dream, even if many of them died noble but tragic deaths. Better to dream and hope of better worlds than to hold too tightly onto the status quo and what you already know....for there lies stagnation and death. Which evidenced in the Retreat in many ways....

just as the resurgence of elves onto Faerun is accomplished by those elves who DON'T hold cotton with prejudices and traditions of old. If/when the elves reclaim Cormanthor, I suspect they may be more apt to cooperate and ally with Dalesmen than in times past, as they've learned that walling oneself off only leads to sieges....


On September 4, 2005 Steven Schend said: Well, like I've said before, we broke this mainly to acknowledge its existence (as it was written in a 2E core book, not an FR book). Its power levels were horribly unbalanced and broken, and it might've been Julia and Dale and I who wanted to make sure the godly status quo would stay put, now that all 3 books were finally done. Bluntly, I thought it was a bad idea so I found a way in-story to get rid of it and move another story along its path. End of story... or so I thought...

The Five Pieces Have Gone: Wherever you as a GM want them to go. We advised you scatter them across the planes to avoid the problems the item will engender.

If you want them to be reassembled, it should be an epic quest just to find the pieces.... and if you want them all accessible but not easy.... put one each on Faerun, Zakhara, Kara-Tur, Maztica, and three of the unknown lands (FRCS p231) never explored by TSR or WotC. If you need a way to get to other lands, check out Horizon's Sails in Waterdeep; Winter Zulth might have a ship for you, provided you do some things for him as well....

We'll see ye all in 1412 when they might have found the pieces... and now they need to find magics powerful enough to bind them back together.... like the tears of a repentent god mixed in the ashen remains of its creator the Harper King (good luck, there) and a ritual. The only other thing I can think of that'd have the power levels necessary to reforge/rebuild the Scepter might be a Grand Mage wearing the Highfire Crown (making him 14 High Mages in 1).

Seriously, this should not be a quick and simple adventure or even campaign. What it'll take to put this thing back together should be akin to trying to resurrect a god like Moander or Amaunator.

No gods fell silent when it was stabbed through Faram, as Fzoul didn't use the powers of the scepter. (You didn't think Khelben would actually give him real command words for that, did you? He set layers of spells on it so it seemed to respond to Fzoul's commands, but in the end, Fzoul simply used it in the most unsubtle but effective way and shoved the smaller end through Faram. Remember folks, you don't always have to use tools the way they're designed... as Manshoon proved when he slew one foe with a citrus spoon in 1315 DR.

On September 4, 2005 Steven Schend said: Not quite true, boyos. Quite a few gold elves across history have wielded moonblades, though far more died trying due to inner corruption and "unworthiness." They just ended up with more moon elves wielding them by the time of the Choosing came to pass and the Moonflowers ascended the throne of Evermeet.

After all, the Elfblades of Cormanthor are even more exacting in choosing their wielders, and Josidiah Starym wielded the Artblade despite his gold elf blood.

On September 5, 2005 Steven Schend said: Well, I'll accede the moonblade lore to Elaine, as she's their original creator as such. I most likely misinterpreted things from Evermeet when I was putting together Cormanthyr and made the blade rituals overbroad for all the elven races.

I have no problem with GMs who want things more open in their own games, but so far as Elaine and I are concerned, they're no non-moon elven wielders of moonblades any more (if there ever were....and consider it 90% spin by gold elves at any case).

Gods, I'm tired and I don't know why I'm posting right now. Time to pack up soon and crash....


On September 5, 2005 Steven Schend said: FYI, Symrustar Auglamyr is, alas, in the deceased column.

No, I didn't leave her body to be found, but her unique necklace (which would only come undone with her death) was found, IIRC....

Who remembers he specified in her illustration description: "She needs a tattoo on her abdomen--something elven-rune-like but really anything EXCEPT an arrow pointing downward!"

On September 10, Steven Schend said: Recently scared up some old files from LANDS OF INTRIGUE work and as I can never remember how much of my notes makes it onto the page, I figured I'd just dump a few of them here.

For those with interests in the religious houses in Amn, Tethyr, and Erlkazar (in my notes originally as Aurkazar, apparently), here's something to gnaw on for the weekend:

Temples of Lands of Intrigue noted from Faiths & Avatars (* = New)


Arbalest's House Milil Athkatla, Amn
Black Spires of the Maiden Loviatar Ishla, Amn
Dark Embrace Shar Esmeltaran, Amn
Duskwood Dell Eldath Eshpurta, Amn
Goldspires Waukeen Athkatla, Amn
Gulf of Storms Talos Eshpurta, Amn
Harvest House Chauntea Amn
Towers of Willful Suffering Ilmater Eshpurta, Amn
? (3 new temples) Cyric Amn
? (major temple) Loviatar Athkatla, Amn
? (former center of worship) Selune Myth Lharast, Amn

Barakmordin * Triad (ITT) Ithal Pass
Chevangard * Helm Survale Ford (Chevan's tomb)
Fortress Faithful Tyr Zazesspur
Gorge of the Fallen Idol ? Tethyr
Old Oak Dell Silvanus Forest of Tethir
Open Gauntlet Torm Darrommar
Shipsgrave Tower Umberlee Velen
Spires Against the Stars Beshaba Saradush
? (urban temple; WiT) Ilmater Zazesspur
(Abbey of) St. Alaric['s] * Ilmater Morninggold


Soaring Spirit Deneir Aurkazar

Barakmordin means "the Shielding Mountains" but refers to the three corner towers of the fortified abbey that rests at the Ithal Road where it splits to go to Ithal Pass or Saradush. Its individual towers each act as a temple to the individual gods, while the attendant buildings and the central keep are the collective temple for the Triad and the marshalling area for the Knights Kuldar of Barakmordin (holy warriors of all three faiths whose vows to heal the sick, help the weak, and avenge those harmed by injustice).

[[worth pulling into area stuff]] Barakmordin was founded during the reign of King Samyte the Martyr in 839 DR as a partially-fortified garrison and shrine for Torm. Seventy years later, the complex was damaged by an orc horde out of the Omlarandin Mountains to the east. With the reconstruction, the three corner towers were added for stability. In 1070, during the year-long reign of Teremir II, a shrine to Ilmater was also adopted within Barakmordin to aid the steadfast Tormish who remained loyal to the Lions' Dynasty and Alemander, brother to the slain King Coram II. The thanks of King Alemander I became royal donations to the orders, and Barakmordin gained its outer walls and a new central keep, all of which stand 300 years later. Lastly, the worship of Tyr built slowly here, but the valiant stand of a quartet of Tyr-sworn paladins during a monster attack from the Forest of Mir proved Tyr's worth to the insular orders here. By 1198 DR, Barakmordin became what it is today: a tripartite religious abbey and garrison.

Chevangard is the stone temple complex with a separate tomb for one of Velen's greatest priest-heroes, Chevan, who gave his life that King Strohm I might live to overthrow Amahl VII, last emperor of Shoon, and restore Tethyr.

[place in area text] This post was nearly destroyed by banditry and usurper lords during the Interregnum. It was temporarily held for six months by Harfourt's Raiders (a bandit gang that troubled the area from 1355-1358). By the work of the remaining Helm knights and the Order of the Silver Chalice, Chevangard was restored to the order's rule and the temple was resanctified by 1359.

Abbey of St. Alaric is nestled in the hills east of Morninggold Keep, and this abbey is a library for medical knowledge. Like all in Tethyr, its official title is "Abbey/Hospice/Convent/Priory of" and the saint's name for which it was founded. St Alaric's is the most scholarly of the ten locations founded by the order of Ilmater.

The ten cloisters of Ilmater were established over the past 400 years, and three of which came into being during the Alemandrian Interregnum. They are placed throughout the country such that a pilgrim/devotee can, with some effort, travel from one to another within a day's ride. While the commoners see no distinction among them other than their services and age, some are more prestigious within the church simply by their famous founders or associated saints.

The ten cloisters of Ilmater are, in order of age:
1) Convent of St. Rhynda: [385 yrs old; est. in 985] County Vintor; nuns' house, training area for specialty priests
2) Missionary of St. Cabram: [353 yrs old; est. in 1017] County Elemetar; facility for missionaries (w/port).
3) Monastery of St. Toramir: [320 yrs old; est. in 1050] County Monteshi; school, orphanage, paladins' garrison
4) Seminary of St. Ostus: [281 yrs old; est. in 1088] County Rivershire; general education school, scriptorium
5) Convent of St. Teresa: [244 yrs old; est. in 1126] County Alonmarch; school for midwives; one of few that also teaches nonhuman medicine.
6) Abbey of St. Alaric: [240 yrs old; est. in 1130] County Morninggold; advanced/senior school and library, training area for specialty priests.
7) Hospice of St. Corin: [128 yrs old; est. in 1242] County Surkazar; hospital & garrison vs. Forest of Mir
8) Cloister of St. Ramedar: [18 yrs old; est. in 1352] County Fyraven; cloistered place of penitence & sanitarium.
9) Monastery of St. Domin: [9 yrs old; est. in 1361] County Starspur; fortified orphanage, school, shipbuilders
10) Priory of St. Silvyr: [4 yrs old; est. in 1366] County Spellshire; elf/human allied monastic school, scriptorium

In terms of religious/interchurch hierarchy/prestige, here are the rankings of the cloisters and why:
1) Convent of St. Teresa: Named after the Queen who healed many at a pool near where the convent stands.
2) Convent of St. Rhynda: Rhynda Tornamul, first native priestess/saint of Ilmater founded this convent.
3) Abbey of St. Alaric: St. Alaric was ½ Calishite/Tethyrian and a scholar; he saved the life of the wizard-hero Bowgentle who helped him found this abbey & library.
4) Monastery of St. Toramir: named for short-lived and later sainted paladin king and a band of paladins has always supported the school/orphanage since its founding.
5) Seminary of St. Ostus: Best scriptorium outside of Candlekeep and Silverymoon.
6) Priory of St. Silvyr: First Ilmatran monastery established in the name of a nonhuman saint; noted for teaching use of rare herbs only found in Tethir forest.
7) Missionary of St. Cabram: Founded by former missionary from Suzail (Cabram) and Prince Haedrak I.
8) Hospice of St. Corin: Hospital founded by Saint Corin the Pious. Operates closely with Barakmordin.
9) Monastery of St. Domin: Apprenticed shipbuilders from this orphanage creating good ships for missionaries. St. Domin a native shipbuilder from Velen before converting.
10) Cloister of St. Ramedar: Renowned as a secure prison for despots and tyrants (to become penitent at the hands of those who protect the down-trodden); corrupt first years as prison for political prisoners of Zazesspur's council; new Warden Vicar is pious and true to crown.

Temple to Mystra in Purple Hills of Tethyr; founded during Nishan II's reign for his wife. Expanded during the Shoon Traitorum. Destroyed with the fall of the Shoon Empire, since Emperor Amahl VII hid out there in his new towers. All but original temple destroyed by Strohm I; built up during Strohm II's reign but Bhaal worshipers on holy crusade destroyed few remaining wizards and King Samyte here in 841. Worship moved away to 9 Star Towers in eastern county, rather than stay among halfling vineyards and rebuild. Now a fallen, abandoned building, with much stone used as walls and bldgs among halfling towns.

Temple to Mystra in County Spellshire; Nine Star Towers of Mystra was the main temple of a complex with a chapter house, library, monastery, scriptorium, and two schools, one of general education and one of magic. Destroyed/Burned during Interregnum.........

And a little bit more, but too much for one post....the REALLY OLD religious sites of Lands of Intrigue.


Stone circles for primitive and ancient worship; sometimes still used by travelers, druids, et al. There is only one complete stone circle within the areas of Amn, Tethyr, and Erlkazar, though there are fourteen ruined stone circles throughout the three countries.

May have been more----Shoon Emperors had many destroyed for their stone which became either palace walls or road stone.........

The 15 circles are:

4 in Amn: near Purskul, between Amnwater and Keczulla, between Keshla and Torbold, west of Ishla; 4 in Erlkazar: NE Impresk Lake, SE of Llorbauth, among east foothills of Kuldin Peaks, directly east of Saradush

Standing Stones Names

A) The Seventeen Sentries: Along South Fork between Purskul & Amnwater; huge ring atop hill with village at foot of hill.

A) Waukeen's Circle: 5 Silvers, but 7, slightly more oval, and set in high hills overlooking Imnescar

A) The Five Silvers/Five Coins: Five roundish marble slabs

A) The Giants' Dance: Along the Ridge half way between Amnwater and Keczulla, ruined: with all but two stones fallen over, three cracked asunder

T) Calimban Knoll: from Calim's Bane, or held off Calishite attack in 1st Empire.

T) The Giants' Ring: Valashar, 20 m. SE of Riatavin

T) Cairn Wheel: Noromath, within forest of tethir; still used by druids.

T) The Standing Stones of Suldell: Spellshire's standing stones....near forest line...

T) The Nanarch's Ring: Hazamarch, 10 m E of Sulduskoon's headwaters and garrison for (Knightly Order of Innocents?) ("Nine Arches Ring")

T) The Nine Ladies: Uluran; in foothills

T) The Seven Stars: Purple Hills, by Myratma; ded. to Selune, used sometimes by halflings as sacred place to Sheela Peryroyl

E) Myrjala's Circle: Ahlarkhem; five miles east of Duhlnarim, 1 m. south of road; The whole standing stones of Myrjala's Circle just southwest of Impresk Lake are still used today by the faithful of Mystra; allegedly, any priest of Mystra who dies within the circle forever attends to the circle and adds ghostly prayers. This legend is why this circle, outside of all others, remains inviolate----it is a holy place for Mystra and the ghosts keep all desecrators away, and protect any wizard who sleeps herein as if it were a druids' grove.

E) The Bluestones: Tanistan; 30 m SE of 5 Spears Hold; one fallen slab out of 14 has mysterious footprints in it---one for each race, though amidst a mass of footprints, incl. giants' and dragons' tracks. Legend: If you approach in bare feet with eyes closed and your foot fits cleanly into a footprint here, you'll have safe travel for a year.

E) Cumber's Cairn: Among foothills south of Soaring Spirit; now, with a great crystal set in a steeple of SSpt, a refracted light beam settles on the standing: of Cumber's Cairn and people say that they should be able to learn things unknown within the blessed light of Deneir. Used to be simple place marker and place safe from monsters at night.

E) Kammarthorden: Carrelath, north of Golconda; ("Kammar's Bones"---great giant slain; allegedly his bones)

I don't remember--did all of these make it through the edit stages or am I dropping old/new material in here for y'all?

Steven the Forgetful

On September 11, 2005 Steven Schend said: Was digging through old discussions and found this topic buried, so I thought I'd resurrect it for current discussion.

Mythal--an energy field tied to the Weave and to the lifeforces of all living things in and around it to sustain it. While not always attributed correctly, mythals should only refer to those things created by elven magic (High or otherwise, in the case of Myth Drannor).

Mythal-like field--If it's a massive spell-effect field but it's dependent on some focus or it was built by non-elves, you've got a powerful spell-field that's sometimes mistakenly called a mythal. This sort of things is what I dropped around the Imperial Mount of Shoonach to keep all other spells out save necromantic ones (so the emperor could stack the deck in his favor in major ways).

Now, I've not reread to see which places now claim to have mythals, but IMO, if its name isn't Myth Somethingorother, it's not a true or a wizardly mythal but a mythal-like field.

Then again, times have changed, and perhaps Silverymoon truly does have a wizardly mythal about itself and it just chooses not to advertise that fact.

Other opinions? Confusions? Questions?

Who's probably made more mistakes on mythal cities than he'd like...

PS: Has anyone ever made any adventure use out of Myth Rhynn? Just askin'....

On September 12, 2005 Steven Schend said: Answer the first--Yes, there are Myth Whattheheck cities out there NOT made by elves. What they do use is Mythanthar's spell for wizards which allows for the creation of a true non-High Magic mythal. Anything else (IMO) created without elves or High Magic is not a mythal.

Epic magic is all well and good, and it opens up lots of avenues for people to play...but I think it really is a losing game in terms of making the most amazing stuff too commonplace. Hell, if epic magic is all it takes, why doesn't every wizard vizier conjure up moonblade level swords for the king's guard? Sorry--this is one of my hot-buttons (the "do the rules trump the lore or vice-versa?" question). I'll go cool off...


Who'll drop another idea into the thought pool--maybe naming the rulers of Silverymoon as High Mages is not just an honorific....what if they have actual abilities akin to if not equal to High Mages?

On September 12, 2005 Steven Schend said: Back in TSR days, souls didn't exist, for fear of the fundies finding more reasons to try and sue D&D out of existence.

Nowadays, it's bandied about commonly. As for which clone "has the soul," I'd adjudicate that they ALL do. To explain, I see a soul as nigh-infinite energy, so it's easily shared among them all; it also explains why clones want to kill each other when they get near each other--there's a tug-of-war going over soul energies that the egos can't handle.

Resurrecting a body that's since had a clone activated? Rules aside, that's really a judgement call by the GM. I'd allow it, but here's the kicker--the resurrected one might NOT have the original soul. He'd be more of a copy than the now-active clone. OR things could get really weird and the soul that occupies that body is a reincarnate of someone else tied to that person--a former victim? Brother? Lifelong enemy?

Are there many Manshoon souls? Nope. The crafty bastard's only got one, just like the rest of us. He's just worn more "meat-suits" (AKA bodies) than the rest of us tend to in a lifetime.

On September 12, 2005 Steven Schend said: Drow as in cow.

Zhentil--the H is silent, but you can push it and make it like the difference between a normal "s" sound and the "sh" sound if you so please. I've heard it both ways, but Ed pronounces it as ZEN-tul KEEP.


And Alias is pronounced just as it's spelled. Jeff Grubb used to get amazed at how many different ways people would pronounce the name of the Azure Bonded One, when he figured it was a good simple name without confusion.

On September 13, 2005 Steven Schend said: For anyone to repost on the D&D / WOtC boards, since I scanned a discussion this morning...

The Highfire Crown's reference as The Holy Grail was not a mention of its power level, but more how the elven race sees it--It's the "Holy Grail" of things for which to quest. It's the ultimate prize/elven treasure that should be sought. It's a reminder of what elves are capable of at their best. It's not because it brings its bearer untold amounts of power (though it does, that...).

By the by, (Steven dances nimbly around the edges of an NDA standing by with a grim look, black cloak, and a scythe), don't worry about whether or not people will come to look for you for possessing the Highfire Crown. It's NOT a singular item, but 13 individuals (High Mages, no less) who choose to work cooperatively. THEY choose who finds them, and THEY choose whether or not to assemble into the Crown and grant the wearer their help/power. It's almost closer to the Crown of Horns, which also chooses its own wearer, but to the power of 13.

Bet that really puts the cat among the pigeons...

Steven Schend

A guy who knows a few things about the Fall and such

On September 14, 2005 Steven Schend said: It's less stupidity than the disconnect between what is common knowledge to gamers/us and what is common knowledge to the Realms native.

WE know he's 960 years old this Higharvestide. They know what he tells them, and he claims to be 50-odd winters and the son of Lhestyn.

WE know he's carrying Mystra's power and is effectively immortal. They only see him as a powerful archmage with powers and spells that trump many others. While many know he's got a special relationship with Mystra, knowing that he's a power-bearer for her is another matter.

And remember, part of the reason Khelben's cagey and circumspect about all this are the frailties that rear up around folk: Jealousy, Greed, and the like...


Who thinks it'd be interesting to portray magic-using types as reacting to the presence of the Chosen like greedy folk react to the One Ring in LOTR... (sense presence, start rationalizing how THEY are better suited to wield such power, little realizing the power would wield them...)

On September 21, 2005 Steven Schend said: Another note to pass along to the WotC Boards, please....

Fey'ri History and background can be found in pieces in ELMINSTER IN MYTH DRANNOR, CORMANTHYR: Empire of Elves, FALL OF MYTH DRANNOR (I think there's hints about Dlardrageth stuff in here, or at least battles around their property in Cormanthor), CLOAK & DAGGER, LORDS OF DARKNESS, LOST EMPIRES OF FAERUN.

In effect, look for elven history and you'll find some hints on them.


On September 22, 2005 Steven Schend said: On Wooly's point (thanks, man, for mentioning that), only about 9-12 people TOTAL know exactly what Khelben did re: the scepter. Only 2 might profit from letting others know about it publicly... except for the fact that they'd most likely be a pile of smoking bones in the time it takes to utter the information from various people wishing to keep this quiet.

On September 22, 2005 Steven Schend said: Gods, I don't know.....

I'm guessing this is in the Blue Alley? Let's treat that as a typo/snafu and go with this: Yes, it's a practice weapon made of wood. The dweomer on it is +1 in terms of creatures it can affect, though it adds nothing to your attack roll. The magic primarily allows you to hit undead and also it keeps the wood from chipping or wearing away (making it about as good as a normal metal dagger) under any distress less than DC 16 break? How's that sound?


On September 24, 2005 Steven Schend said: Nope--dwarves always think toward durability first and foremost.

Idea that popped up--The Shields of Arduke Koralhax are a set of 13 dwarven-made shields made of steel overlaid by dragon's scales both outside and inside. There are four made of white scales, three of black, three of red, and three of blue. The outsides of the shields are relatively standard, and the shields all provide a +3 to saves vs the appropriate dragon's breath. What makes them pertinent to this conversation is this--the shields collectively are a book by Koralhax entitled simply HOW TO HUNT DRAGONS. The insides are marked by a dwarven rune for which order to read each shield, and the 9-27 scales inside each shield (for the scales vary in size according to the age of the dragon slain to forge the shield) are each a page. Should some dwarf read/study every shield, they would gain some bonuses in fighting dragons (insert appropriate feat, skill, or simply use the ranger's ability and make the dragon a favored enemy).

Alas, two of the white shields and one each of the black and red shields reside on one of the many treasure hoards of Iryklathagra, and the other two red shields lie with Icehauptanarthax's sole hoard. Still, seven of the shields are out there, and only three are currently borne by dwarven adventurers. The rest lie lost or forgotten among dungeons and dales somewheres north of Myratma and south of Baldur's Gate and west of Riatavin but not within the confines of any of those cities.

How's that for a little new/old Realmslore for ye morning?

On September 25, 2005 Steven Schend said: Aye, and remember that up until the Black Days, it actually was part of Tethyr, so there's still quite a few generations of folks who remember this as a Tethyrian duchy, not the last two generations born under the new flag... I'd say the characters in Master of Chains (at least the primaries, not the elder characters) were all born after Erlkazar became its own country.

On September 25, 2005 Steven Schend said: If my memory serves me correctly, I think I put just that sort of library into the DUNGEON CRAWL: UNDERMOUNTAIN--THE LOST LEVEL. In fact, I know I did as there's moments with a hill giant throwing stone tablets at the PCs. Had Bill Connors (another designer at TSR) asking me if that was the Moses Giant.... So yeah, there's at least one canonical dwarven library of the lore of the Melairkyn of Undermountain....

On September 25, 2005 Steven Schend said: Not really, as I've not given them a thought in ages.

Tell me what bugs you about them and we'll collectively come up with something that works for all concerned.

As I recall, the main reason I put tunnels among the islands and the mainland was to (A) remind folks that islands don't float out there but are partially submerged mountains; (B) provide ways for folks to get out to the islands without having to get on a boat; and (C) well, every prison's got to have an escape route.

Now whether or not the tunnels are natural, carved out by an escapee, or exist from a time previous to the monks taking residence here is an open discussion. As is whether or not the monks know at all about the tunnels....

On September 25, 2005 Steven Schend said: About all I could say on Myth Iiscar is this (as I tend, like Jeff Grubb, to drop hints about Lantan's magical prowess but then scamper off, leaving Ed to explain it all, as it's his fable island of magics):

The mythal was put in place long before Netheril's rise.

It was hinted and fabled in some sources (which some scholars argue are apocryphal, while others embrace them wholeheartedly) that the Netherese patterned their sky cities and mythallar ideas upon Myth Iiscar and its flying legions.

The city fell due to the disruption of the Weave upon Karsus' Folly.

Beyond that, I've no immediate ideas. Bear in mind that often the mythal cities are little more than one sentence grace notes to accentuate far-flung pockets of the Realms and they're left for GMs to develop. As I only found notes referring me back to a clause in Cormanthyr, Myth Iiscar doesn't have more lore on it as far as I know.

So let's discuss and generate more, hm?

On September 25, 2005 Steven Schend said: Re: the tunnels...why not make it both? Could be that it is a one-man escape tunnel for at least 400 yards or so connecting to the Cloisters, and he (by utter happenstance) hooked up with the natural caverns underneath? That way you get both feels/types....

Alternately, the reason the tunnels are flooded could be due to a later escape attempt that didn't want to go out under the ocean--they tried to go inland but tapped into other submerged caverns and seacaves that then flooded the original tunnels to a degree, hiding the entrance.

Third option--this area, like one of the other cloisters/abbeys, has a brass dragon working with them in some capacity and this submerged tunnel is his/her way into the Cloister....

RE: Lhestyn....

Ed or Eric might have a better answer for this, but here's my take on it (and you can cherry-pick the answer you like best): Her corpse is beyond any reach, as she was cremated and her ashes were scattered into both the harbor and onto the mountain. Her soul, on the other hand, should also be beyond reach.

HOWEVER....there's a Nykkarran mourninglobe out there that someone made for her husband. It holds a lot of folks' memories of her in it, giving someone who touches the rose quartz globe the sense of having met her. (Yes, for those X-Men fans out there, it's the empathic crystal Jean Grey's parents got the first time she died). The Shadow Thieves have it, but what they can do with it is unknown.... For more on the mourninglobes, you'll just have to wait until next July....

On September 26, 2005 Steven Schend said: Just the one, and it's unknown what good it does them other than having something precious to keep from Lhestyn's heirs. The main reason the necroppar of Nykkar stopped making mourninglobes was a penchant by fallen Shoon courtiers after the Imperium's collapse to magically booby-trap the globes to mind-rape wizards and others trying to use them.

And no, the Shadow Thieves don't know about that kind of lore... For that matter, they may not even know more about it other than Khelben has been looking for this for 40+ years....


On September 27, 2005 Steven Schend said: Funny you should mention that.....

You will meet no less than three descendants and a half-sister of Khelben in the novel (two of whom have been mentioned in Realmslore before, though not revealed as relatives before). I've done a full workup on his family trees, but it remains to be seen if I'll ever be able to publish it.

That said, yes, you'll learn a few dribs and drabs more about the Chosen and their children in BLACKSTAFF, but no, you won't meet Khelben's and Laeral's child(ren) therein. If they were around, we'd have to name the book BLACKCLOUT.


On October 1, 2005 Steven Schend said: Only in the comic, yes, unless it's been referenced by Elaine or Thomas in their later work with Halruaa. The stats (IIRC) for the Hand of Vaprak appeared on the letters' page of the FR comic book.

As for at least one of the artifacts shouted out in Elminster's and Omen's drunken one-upsmanship, the Red Book of War (first mentioned in the grey box) was last statted/written up in Sea of Fallen Stars.

And Hoondatha, sorry about the gender mixup; it's that assumption that all names ending in -a are feminine. I blame only myself and my meager linguistic background.

On October 1, 2005 Steven Schend said: Right on that the Demiplane of Fear was a pocket dimension created (or at least discovered) by Dwalimer Omen and pretentiously named thusly. Under a dozen people know of the demiplane's existence, and only three of them can actually access it using special spells and items. (Omen's locked it off from more conventional forms of access and tied it to magically enhanced keys.)

Ahem, what vaults in Mistledale, pray tell? And why would I know anything about that? (After all, the only stuff I've ever written on the Dales touches only tangentially in Cormanthyr/Fall of MD...)

If you were referring to the Vaults of Uvaeren, they're under guard by a new Trio Nefarious--Naarlayx, Dhoarkath, and Axarark, three demons bound solely for the purposes of keeping those things secret.

On October 3, 2005 Steven Schend said: I'll go to bat for Todd as one of the best artists I ever got to work with for one reason--He reads the material and he understands it.

When he first came to TSR and read the art description for the LANDS OF INTRIGUE cover, he wasn't happy with it, as it didn't pop for him. He came to talk to me about it and asked to read the manuscript, to see if there was anything in it that he'd really make an exciting cover. After a day, he announced he'd give us a battle scene with Sythillis the ogre mage, which I heartily endorsed, as we'd never had an o-m on a cover before then.

Other great covers he did (and one of which I owned for a while): Empires of the Shining Sea, Wyrmskull Throne, Hellgate Keep, etc.

Sure I'm biased, but frankly, I think Todd was one of the best D&D artists I've ever seen and he belongs in the "pantheon" with Jeff and Larry and Clyde...

To drag this back on topic, I don't recall seeing phaerimm depicted on any covers, though I may've blocked some out of memory. Aside from the "eh" color illo in Monsters of Faerun, where have the killer cones of Cormanthyr been done in color?


On October 7, Steven Schend said: The sharn have eyes wherever they choose to, having dozens if they choose on all surfaces of their form. They just don't often get depicted with eyes on their "heads," that's all.

Well, there's all sorts of stories out there, and some may even be true. As for an "official government sanctioned alliance" between the powers of Netheril and the sharn, I'd say (as someone who knows more about sharn than Netheril) that it's highly unlikely.

Now ask me if the sharn may've helped along the exodus and escape of many gnomish slaves, and I might spin ye a tale....


On October 8, 2005 Steven Schend said: True story time:

We left Larry a lot of leeway on the cover art for THE NORTH boxed set. All we asked was "Maybe give us a giant or two and lots of snow. Just don't give us barbarians in loin cloths and fur bikinis on a glacier."

When the final art came in, Peggy Cooper (TSR's art director at the time) came in, a mischievous look on her face. "Remember what we asked Larry not to do? He did it," and she revealed the bikini-clad barbarian on a spit over a giant's fire. The collective reaction was "Yeah, it's illogical, even silly, but it's too good to not use."

THE NORTH is one of my favorite Larry pieces, especially with that story behind it.

My favorite Clyde piece for the Realms--Azure Bonds without a doubt (though the art made Kate Novak go back into the novel and write in the bit on how Alias' magical armor protects her heart, given its obvious exposure on the cover. (My favorite Clyde piece hands down is still the original module art for Ravenloft.)

And I too miss Val's artwork; she was a gem to work with and gave me exactly what I asked for on CITY OF SPLENDORS. The fact that she worked with me to make sure the angles and backgrounds of the full page art pieces on each of the wards worked with the maps (especially the shot of the arena gates) showed me how professional she could be.


On October 16, 2005 Steven Schend said: Maybe my perception/view of bards is off-kilter compared to others, but here's my two bits.

Bard colleges and bards in general are important mainly for their ability to disseminate and distribute news and lore, rather than just for their performing abilities.

Remember this is a world where news only travels by word of mouth 90% of the time, rather than by print or by wizards' spells.

The best bardic colleges should be equivalent to how we view some news organizations. Remember that we have temples to Oghma and libraries for lore of the past. Bards are better for more current events and spreading news of ongoing matters.

The best bards should be considered an intriguing mix of Walter Cronkite (as the last journalist most trusted implicitly as honest) and Bruce Springsteen (or whatever musicians y'all like).

As for why nobles might want a bard in the family, that's easy--Someone's in the know on a lot of things, and knowledge is one way to power. If you hear of things before your competitors, you've a leg up business wise.

On October 28, 2005 Steven Schend said: Suggestions--Look to LOI and groups of military forces with whom you can team up if you want to make major drives vs. the Empire.

As for Tethyr's motives, they were initially quite ready to sit and wait it out, letting the ogres and forces take it out vs. Amn (as it helped cement Riatavin in their hands and they were still weak from their own Reclamation). The situation might be different now, with either Hhune or Vajra conscripting adventurers to get in there in small ways and disrupt the unity of the monstrous army.

A good spies-eye-view of the situation might be to sneak people into Murann to get a look-see (and perhaps regain some major relic in one of the churches there, in which a resistance movement recruits the adventurers for more actions vs. the monsters).

Other ideas and options--churches on the outside could be recruiting people to go in with scalpel precision to take out the Cyricists within the mix. This could be nearly any church (as most have a grudge vs. the Mad God) or even another sect of Cyricists or Banites looking to bulwark their orthodoxies (and making strange bedfellows while doing so, thinking they can always betray their own allies as well--Josef Stalin would be a perfect model for a Banite High Priest, wouldn't he?).

Last (and easiest to implement) idea: The monsters still have supply lines into and out of the Small Teeth as well as their home grounds and young back there. Why not a surgical strike vs. their homes and such to either claim their treasures or foment dissent by making them hungry, etc. You could also try and get Umar's ghost all riled up, lead her toward the monsters' homes, and let her wreak havoc for you.

Who left things on this wide open to give GMs as wide a berth as possible, since he'd sewn up the other dissent to the south and rebuilt a feudal society (which also still has lots of things adventurers can do there)

On November 2, 2005 Steven Schend said: If y'all really need a reason as to why a Knowledge check alone isn't going to reveal the lythari crossroads to Priamon Rakesk, here's something (if you care to use it as a basic life/lore thing that can trump rules):

If he doesn't have any conception or interest in the topic, it's not going to fall within his Knowledge check.

Here's some lore on the Frostrune ("Don't call him that!" -K):
A) He knows a lot on portals and gates.
B) He doesn't know everything about gates--just what he gleaned from Halaster (who does know more about gates but managed to get away before all his secrets were stolen).
C) He's got a mad obsession with Shoon era magics and magical items.
D) He's very very knowledgeable about the civilized and settled areas of Tethyr, Amn, and basically any place the Shoon lorded over.
E) He's nearly 2 centuries old, but he's never bothered to study elves (beyond the histories of families that impacted the Shoon) or lycanthropes, so it's quite likely he might not know about those crossroads because it's never crossed his mind to contemplate their existence.

Ergo (IMO), no matter how smart someone is, they don't automatically know things they've never shown an interest in or taken the time to study. While he'd never admit it, Khelben doesn't know the first thing about glacial ecology or how to survive in the Spine of the World beyond the basics of avoiding hypothermia. In the same sense (and maybe a better example as a retcon and rules thing), even someone who studied everything about elves probably doesn't know a damn thing about star elves as they've not been in play and are relatively isolated across the pond.....

Hope this makes some sense or at least clarifies some character stuff about Priamon.

Steven Schend
Who always ignores rules if they get in the way or spoil the lore

PS: Remember this about rules--If we slavishly followed the rules, Elminster and Khelben couldn't do 1/3 of the things we've seen them do in novels and games simply because the newest person to write up their stats didn't read every reference and account for it by the newest version of rules. Case in point--Khelben knows vast amounts more lore about Waterdeep and the Sword Coast than he does about painting, but not according to his stats in the Epic Guidebook......

On November 5, 2005 Steven Schend said: 1) "Khelben's Whelps," "the Blackstaff's Hunting Pack," "those tluiners who soured our deal with [insert group here]," etc.

2) None really to speak of that I'm aware of, unless Eric's added something to the mix.

3) Keep Waterdeep safe when the Guard/Watch could be overwhelmed; help the Blackstaff when he asks; be on the lookout for like-minded folks who might fit the group.

4) That'd be something I've no idea at present; maybe ask Ed and/or Jeff Grubb on that one (or see if Eric's created their history and not told me.)

5) Jardwim is the unquestioned leader in the field; the Blackstaff's the unquestioned leader in general (not the Lords per se). Numbers are a little hazier, as it suits them to be like the Lords and not have their true size known (though 5 to 8 are perennials and oft-named like Maliantor, Carolyas, Jardwim, Harshnag, and others. Asper's a common ally but she's not a member so far as I know.

6) Covered that a little above. See the latest Waterdeep book for more on each of them.

7) Hit things until they stop moving. Or talk to them, if they're friendlier.

8) As limited as the Watch and as unlimited as whatever toys Khelben sees fit to grant them.

9) Dunno; Eric, has this ever been detailed, or do they also vaguely operate out of their own secret sub-level of Blackstaff Tower?

10) Whoever counts themself as such to the Blackstaff could loosely be counted as the same with Force Grey.

On November 10, 2005 Steven Schend said: The Quess'ar'Teranthvar is still intact and still watched over by its guardian (and maybe more). Yes, the physical shell that was Windsong Tower has long since fallen. All that means is that there's no direct physical connection to the portal that (should you prove worthy) might provide access to the extradimensional space wherein the golden tree that was once a full set of Nether Scrolls abides.....

On November 12, 2005 Steven Schend said: One of the things Ed and Eric and I have tried to slip in here and there is the idea that all spells once had someone's name attached to them, if you look far enough back. Time once was, Perigon's Pulchritudinous Pulse was the name a haughty mage of Jhaamdath named what we now call magic missile, etc. You can do this with nearly any spell, which was one of the reasons I wrote who knew the spells I wrote in City of Splendors all those years ago--the more common and widespread the spell, the more apt it would be to lose its honorific and become "uncommon" or "common" in use.


On November 12, 2005 Steven Schend said: There are yet enough folk around who can remember the misrule of the Guildmasters that help remind "ye young whelps" that they've really got it good under the Lords.

And, as I believe Uncle Ed's told us in times past, one of the reasons most folk don't kick up their heels about the Lords and/or the longevity of certain and sundry peoples is that they know how good their city is and don't want to disturb the status quo. It's only those looking for more power or money or influence who want to mess up what the Lords have built by horning their way into those circles. Elaine's DREAM SPHERES was a good example of why you don't want to upset the apple cart too much.

And Piergeiron, to bring it back on topic, is by far the most tolerant paladin on the Sword Coast, which makes him a rarity among those paragons (who tend toward the judgemental side too much).

On November 13, 2005 Steven Schend said: Exactly (though the gnome/halfling would be unlikely, as has already been pointed out).

Now, canonically, Fflar has become an elf in Rich Baker's marvelous novel trilogy. If you wanted Fflar to be another race in your campaigns, have at it. I would have rather he'd been another race as well, to point out one of the last heroes of the great city of unity was not one of its native elves. Still, Rich has done some fine things with the toys I left lying around.

On November 15, 2005 Steven Schend said: Perfect answer and just what I was going to suggest. Good job, ace.

Yes, those of the Triad either use that amalgamated symbol (and only those who've been part of this since the reunification of Tethyr--the new symbol being requested by the Crown Ecclesiastic to be used with a stained glass window in Faerntarn) or all three symbols stamped onto an item like runes.


Who would remind folks that one other mark might come onto things--the flower of whatever saint's abbey/cloister the item came from.....and then he realizes he only set up libraries and such, not forges in Ilmater's name, and thus he should fix that soon.......over in his group.

On November 18, 2005 Steven Schend said on the mailing list: Well, the Srinshee was a baelnorn until a wild magic effect and the touch of Mystra restored her to life and youth (in the novel). Baelnorn have been kind of the stealth-undead in the Realms. Always meant to do more with them but never the right time or place.

Steven Schend

Who knows of a few baelnorn in Cormanthyr & Fall of Myth Drannor....

On November 20, 2005 Steven Schend said: The concept of pre-set places to cast High Magic is a hold-over from 2E. Basically, if you cast HM in a place designed for it or prepared/blessed/whatever, you don't incur the penalties built into its casting (as noted in CORMANTHYR).

The places destroyed on Evermeet et al were simply buildings holding High Mages and their collected knowledge. It's more akin to destroying a library and a bunch of librarians--you don't destroy the knowledge so much as you destroy those who know what and where it is and what to do with it.

High Magic can be cast anywhere there's a High Mage and the will to do so.


Who wanders away now, musing aloud malevolently about random pockets of wild High Magic left over in tiny caves all across the High Moor, and wondering what effect they'd have on things......

On November 20, 2005 Steven Schend said: True.... but Halaster collects such things and paves certain hallways and tunnels in the deeper levels of Undermountain with such.

There's a certain hallway that sort of serves as a secondary spellbook, all the spells carved into the walls (as the spells are complex enough to need 20x20 feet of space to delineate their details.


Cackling over having used Halaster's Retributive Strike twice in print without ever detailing the spell.... (Hint--Material component: Caster).....

On November 21, 2005 Steven Schend said: I'll step in and correct one misunderstanding:

Fourteen High Mages survived the Fall of Myth Drannor, and perhaps more--the 14 who lived were just the most celebrated. Grand Mage Ualair the Silent disappeared and has yet to be found before the end of the Fourth Campaign, IIRC. The thirteen surviving High Mages established / restored Elven Court then became the Highfire Crown; while their bodies no longer survive, their essences/souls/intelligences do yet wander the Realms in secret.....


Who knows where all of them are but is sworn not to tell.....

On November 22, 2005 Steven Schend said: And for those who are discussing people's favorite images/depictions of their favorite characters, I'm partial to how Jan Duursema drew Khelben in the AD&D comic--despite a colorist constantly filling in the white patch in his beard to look like he shaved that out.

I just wish Clyde Caldwell had ever gotten a chance to paint him. While I enjoy certain things with Fred Fields' rendition on CITY OF SPLENDORS, it's lacking that touch of majesty and threat that comes to mind with Khelben for me.

Everyone else sees Khelben as Sean Connery; while that works to a degree, I see him a bit less thuggish and more rapier-fine in his ruthlessness. Having recently seen them in movies and gotten reminded of how good they are as both good and bad guys, I'd say either a slightly broader-of-shoulder Gary Oldman or Liam Neeson would be far closer to my view of Khelben.

And William Hurt is Piergeiron, for those wondering.

On December 10, 2005 Steven Schend said: For those on the WotC boards, I was scanning the discussion of Shoon VII and had only this to add, if someone (George? Kuje? Bueller?) could drop in this note....

As of the Time of Troubles, Shoon VII no longer qualifies as a demilich. He's fully alive in an elf-woman's body (so he's technically only male in his self-concept) and he's got all his intellectual and magical skills at whatever level I set him at.

I suppose if GMs wanted his aura/energy to come across as "male" as a tip-off / clue that something's up with Zallanora Argentresses, they could do interesting things with a True Seeing spell, especially as Shoon's focus and power is so overwhelming.

Poor Zallanora is indeed the first 3rd level demilich to exist. She's still got all the physical powers of a demilich, but only her 3 levels of experience with which to handle this. And that, ladies and germs, is why she almost instantly went insane upon the transfer.

Now, if ever there was a way (perhaps divine quest sent by the gods, like Azuth, who doesn't want his faithful to suffer) to discover exactly what went on, an interesting story/campaign might be to recover the Tome of the Unicorn, restore Zallanora's sanity, and perhaps find ways to manipulate that link between the book and Shoon in Z's body. I don't know if there's a way to restore their souls to their rightful places, but isn't that what epic spells are for? Heck, just by restoring her sanity and finding out what happened, she might suggest taking the book and her skull to any High Mages (and she's probably heard rumors there might be some in Shilmista or the High Forest, but like most, she assumes they're gone from Cormanthor) and have them perform some High Magic to restore her to her body and banish Shoon again.....which should be a quest not unlike trying to get a ring to a certain volcano, given that it's quite likely that Shoon has set up many defenses around the book, doesn't want anyone messing with it (let alone destroying it or him), and he's got a LOT of resources to throw at the heroes, even without ever revealing his hand directly....

Realize, however, there's a whole passel of "if's" in that suggestion above (on both sides of the coin). If you were to ask me, I'd tell you Shoon VII is going to be a major player/villain/sore under the saddle for many many decades to come, given that his body is barely out of elven adolesence. One thing he might possibly do (just for his own comfort level) is to scare up a girdle of gender-changing and become a male again (but couch it so it's taken as an accident that's accepted by the soon-to-be Zallan of Shoonach.... but this is all unofficial meandering on my part.

Again, just a stray thought on a Saturday morning....

On December 11, 2005 Steven Schend said: Interesting thoughts on Shoon, Arivia.

Can't say they mesh 100% with my vision/ideas for him/it/her, as he's surprisingly not arrogant. He's a chessplayer type like Khelben who plays things beneath the vest, not just close to it.

More likely, he'd do the gender change thing if/when his identity as Zallanora got compromised, if she became too noticeable, and/or if something slips and he has to change identities. Despite his longtime hatred of elves, he's very surprised to find out how useful it is to have an elf's body.

So, unless he has to blow up a large chunk of Esmeltaran to preserve his secrecy/identity (or simply kill more than 20 people to do the same), he'll probably hide out as Zallanora for a few more years yet.

All that said, he's been known to weave illusions of high level around him/herself to appear as any number of former Shoon court members--but NEVER as himself, even if the only person who'd recognize him immediately would be Iryklathagra--to manipulate and control information and magic beyond what would be normal for Zalla to know/be involved in.....

Making this clear as mud, aren't I?

On December 12, 2005 Steven Schend said: Bear in mind you're asking me questions on things I wrote nearly 10 years ago, so the memory's fuzzy....

1) Sure--as many survived as your campaign needs/wants. This is the answer I always try and give, unless I've a really good reason to shut the door on future developments (a trick I learned from Ed).

Remember that my answers here are not to be considered official canon--just my opinions and natter.

2) Absolutely. The "Most of..." gives you as the GM the wiggle-room to justify whatever plot twists you wish into your game.

I love the idea of their being linked to Moander and Finder (and perhaps even Oghma, the traditional god of bards).

Then again, why not create something new--a cult/religion of a new goddess who is allegedly the daughter of Lurue and Silvanus (or Fenmaril Mestarine) who is worshiped by bards and rangers and half-elves as a protector against the corruption of woodlands specifically? She's a protector of both health and beauty, two things that make woodlands special in her eyes.

Just stirrin' the pot a little....

On December 12, 2005 Steven Schend said: Hey--I'm just stating my opinions here, Arivia. Don't let me shut down your thoughts on Shoon, as I found them fascinating.

I've pondered a bit on Shoon and what to do with him/her/it, but my view of him and how best to use him isn't the only way. It's just what I'd like to do if ever given a chance to work him up in a novel. Granted, with the level of thought I've put to him, Zallanora would come off a bit too much like Joan Collins.....

Seriously, I just want to toss the brainstorm ball around and see what rattles loose that'll work for all of us. Just because I state an opinion doesn't mean it takes precedence over any one else's opinions here.

To keep the ball in the air, here's my question to the assembled--What do you see when you think of Shoonach? What do you expect, if a story were to be set there?

Me, I see something the size of Imperial Rome with more of a Cairo/Athens feel to it--a huge expanse of miles far more silent than it should be, yet still more active than you'd expect. I see roaming bands of gnolls fighting to control the grasslands around the edges, the curst legions of Tethyrians trying to keep the military / forge city out of the hands of other intelligent undead, and a growing number of undead starting to more openly (or at least aggressively) keep the Imperial Mount off limits to anyone save their master/mistress, whether (s)he is there or not.

Imagine, if you will, the medieval equivalent of Cheyenne Mountain with magical weapons storehouses buried away where only one living (and maybe 4 nonliving) sentient beings know what may lie there....

Getting a girdle of gender-changing is no big deal for Shoon--nearly any nonartifact (and more than a few that are that level) magical item is stored away and at his disposal under Shoonach. He's the only nondraconic being to have amassed more magical items than Khelben or Manshoon....and he's not sharing them, unllike the other two.....

Well, I hope that keeps the floodgates of discussion open (and help me conjure up some new ideas in hopes of getting another novel to write in the Realms....).


On December 13, 2005 Steven Schend said: Little of both, actually.

On Tethyr, there was more than enough material already--I just had to weave the disparate and conflicting pieces together and add touches of Scotland and Spain to accomodate a bit more feel/mood/context. For Tethyr (and Amn equally) I kept Moorish Spain in the back of my head as per an older religion/culture leaving behind its architecture and stuff but being thrown over by new ideas and independence.

On Amn, believe it or not, it's an amalgamation of what was there already plus a lot of the Godfather (in terms of family, business, loyalties, and honor debts). I also made sure there were distinct differences between the money-grubbers of Amn and the same down in Calimshan.

On Calimshan, that had much more of a mark of pre-established culture and feel as pseudo-Arabian culture. However, as by the time I was writing LOI/EoSS we had Al-Qadim and the Bedine of Troy's Harper books, I decided to retain what I had to and spin the rest of Calishite culture into a mix of whatever my head provided and ancient Turkey (hence the Mamluks/Mameluks, pashas, the Qayadin, etc.). I didn't make it a direct or straight copy but kept it mixed enough to fit the Realms yet still have a familiar touch (and provide GMs with picture books of old Turkish towns to use as a visual touchstone).

Granted, I'd prefer to not use RL stuff to drop into the Realms, but given the time constraints and what had already been established in the Realms at that time, I did what I needed to make it distinct, feasible in Faerun, and yet sensible and familiar in feel for those who are more comfortable with RL touchstones.

On December 22, 2005 Steven Schend said: One of the best things Khelben and Elminster both taught Master Harpers (as Khelben's father and mother taught those of the Harpers in Twilight) is that one Harper alone, with the right words whispered into the right ear, can stop an army. How is noted above and exampled below:

Harper Khael D'rakrell has uncovered a Zhentish plot to ambush the next four trade caravans leaving Starmantle and to frame a local group on the rise known as the Sable Knives who've been horning in on the local Zhent lord's business (or what he sees as his business).

Khael does a little more digging and finds out that at least one of the backers of all these caravans has ties to the Arcane Brotherhood (a suspicion proven in part by all the caravans heading ultimately to Luskan).

With two nights (and a disguise to be two different folk on those nights), Khael drops word to both the Sable Knives (via a rumor noted to one of their more reliable snitches) and the Brotherhood (via a "dropped" scroll with the names of two aliases of the local Zhent lord and his primary enforcer on it). The Zhent plot comes to naught, all three groups are on high alert in that area, but none of them think their covers are blown save the Zhents (and blown only by other evil groups).

See how simple it is?

On December 22, 2005 Steven Schend said: On Shoon going through the gender blender: Well, unless I'm suddenly contracted to write a Shoon novel, my thoughts on this are strictly academic and/or idea generators for y'all. You've got a highly different and distinct take on it that's fascinating and great for many, many campaign ideas. I just happen to disagree (for my own personal take on Shoon, which falls more toward the `he'll use any weapon in his arsenal, whether it's a spell or sexual allure, to get what he wants' school).

To really muddy the waters, who's to say he'd not done the gender-shift thing back in the days while alive both to try it out and as a disguise by which he could spy on his own courtiers? Come to think of it, that'd be a really cool fantasy trope to look at--a male ruler who changes into a female in order to guarantee/be 100% certain that his/her heir was his/hers. How's that for a disturbing take on that particular item in issue?

Re: illusionary courtiers.....`fraid I have no names or faces at present. Chime me on this in the new year and maybe we'll be able to generate a few building off of common names salted around Amn, Tethyr, and Calimshan. Think of this idea as a wide-open door for GMs to link their campaign NPCs to a greater plot, a wider history, and still not be stuck. In other words, torment PCs with one villain, have him killed numerous times (and Shoon keeps bringing him back or posing as him illusorally), and he's still going.....

LOVED that image you wove of the River Agis...and it's a good idea that the river itself might actually scour out smallish items from the catacombs beneath the Mount and wash them into the river. By the by, Shoon does have animated skelteons and sea zombies patrolling the river bed to prevent treasure seekers from stealing "his" stuff.... and it seems they're frantically seeking out something between the size of a dagger and a bracelet (as they ignore rings and coins and things larger than short swords).... just FYI.


On April 27, 2005 Elaine Cunningham said: Hi! I popped in to see what's been going on, and this thread caught my eye. Please be aware that this post contains spoilers for Evermeet.

I'm curious: Where did you get this information? I don't believe I ever named Azariah's mother, or described her circumstances.

Yes, several of the royal Moonflower children are dead or MIA. But if you keep in mind that the book is told from a human's point of view, with all the limitations that suggests, the phrase "nothing is known" takes on a different meaning. The ELVES know the fate of most members of their royal family, and in every case Amlaruil knows what befell her children. She would not rest until she had this knowledge, and she has the resources needed to find it. Some of the "missing" princes and princesses are dead, others quietly removed from succession because for one reason or another they are unsuited to rule, and others simply choose to live their lives away from the royal court and the public eye. The elven queen keeps her secrets, and those of her family.

I wish I could tell you that an Elaith book is on the horizon, but lacking that, I'm doing the best I can! He plays a small but significant role in the upcoming Waterdeep novel, and today I'm finishing up a story about Elaith and Azariah that, if accepted, will appear in the August or September issue of Dragon Magazine.

Must get back to it!


On July 5, 2005 Elaine Cunningham said: Hi, folks. This is a quick catch-up note. Thanks to those who answered some of the questions.

Ode, glad to hear you're enjoying Liriel's story. Thanks for the kind words. At this time there are no plans to continue the Songs & Swords series, nor is there a novel about Elaith in progress (at least, none of which I'm aware...) And as much as I'd like to take credit for Elaith's creation, he first appeared as an NPC in a game product entitled "Waterdeep and the North," by Ed Greenwood. When I wrote ELFSHADOW, my first novel, I didn't realize Elaith was a well-established character in Ed's home campaign. As far as I knew, Elaith existed only as a one-paragraph description. That paragraph appealed to me, so I took the character and ran with it. Over the years, Ed has been very gracious about this accidental literary hijacking.

Naeryndam, the return of Shade occurred just as the events of the Counselors and Kings trilogy were drawing to a close. The wizards of Halruaa will have some serious adjusting to do, but I agree that neither Matteo nor Zalathorm would willingly become allied with Shade. A game product entitled The Shining South (written by Thomas Reed) was released after the novels; perhaps it sheds some light on the matter. I haven't read it--does anyone here know if it addresses this question?

On July 13, 2005 Elaine Cunningham said: I can field this question.

First: Yes, I am deathly weary of all the talk about a novel-induced stereotype of "moon elf GOOD, gold elf BAD." This simplistic summation ignores the many noble, good-aligned gold elf characters in the FR books to focus on the few gold elf villains. It also fails to acknowledge the moon elf rogue Elaith Craulnober, who is perhaps the best known of the not-so-good moon elves. It ignores (or simply missed...) how the novel EVERMEET depicts moon elves as the authors of many of the elves' woes, often in rather ironic fashion. One example is the legend of the moon elf hero who marched into the Abyss to save her lover, thus drawing Lloth/Lolth's attention to the elves of Faerun. The popularity of moonblades amazes me, as does the fact that the brutality of the "moonblade solution" seems to be obscured by the magic swords' kewl factor. It is to ponder.

Now, on to the red vs. black question.

Third edition has brought a number of changes to the elves, including the end of Retreat, the subdivision of existing elven subraces and the addition of new subraces. 3E products describe moon elves as having black, blue, or white hair and blue or green eyes with gold flecks, "with rare exceptions" The game product Cormanthyr, with its nod to exceptions, has already been mentioned. The old gray boxed set was somewhat less restrictive, and mentioned that all hair colors found among humans could be found in the elves.

Queen Amlauril has been depicted with red-gold hair for nearly 15 years, in a variety of FR novels and products. The first such mention was in one of Douglas Nile's Moonshae novels. A more detailed physical description was later given in the 2nd ed game product The Elves of Evermeet." This predated and was a primary source for my novel Evermeet which also depicted Amlaruil with--you guessed it--red-gold hair. Amlaruil also appears with red-gold hair in a previous novel, Silver Shadows.

Unfortunately, the extensive file of notes I compiled during the research process for Evermeet was lost in a move, but at the time I put a great deal of effort into researching on Evermeet's queen. To the best of my knowledge, she was never described as dark-haired in any FR product until her 3E makeover. She is, however, described as having blue hair in a Spelljammer novel (The Radiant Dragon), and I'm to blame for that. At the time I wrote that novel (1990-1991), I could find no physical description of Amlaruil in the FR lore. Since the exotic and fey image associated with blue hair appealed to me, I went that way. Unknown to me, Doug Niles was describing her as having red-gold hair. The books were being written at roughly the same time, with two different editors, and this continuity glitch slipped in through the cracks. There was much rending of hair and gnashing of teeth when I read the first FR description of Amlaruil, which I immediately adopted. Fortunately, none of the (17) people who read the Spelljammer books picked up on this error of continuity.

Since Amlaruil's red-gold coloring was well established, clearly described in the game product most central to the 2nd edition understanding of Evermeet's elves, and contradicted in no FR lore that I could unearth, that's how I depicted her. It seemed reasonable to me that some of her moon elf ancesters would also have red or blond hair. That is why you will find red-haired elves in the novel EVERMEET.

I can understand the desire to emphasize the changes 3E is bringing to the elves, but even 3E products have admitted that "rare exceptions" to moon elf black/blue/white hair do indeed exist. Amlaruil has been well and thoroughly established as one of those expections. The elven queen is no minor NPC with an occasional throw-away mention, but rather the central character in what was previously the most elf-centric novel in the Realms. I was, quite frankly, set back on my heels by the change in Amlaruil's appearance.

Life would be much simpler if all the existing copies of FR novels scattered about the globe were magically retrofitted every time someone changed the game rules or the FR lore. Since this is not (yet) possible, what usually happens is that the older stuff is branded as "wrong." I know it's not reasonable to expect readers to check the copyright page to see when a book was written, and thus what rules it followed. It's much easier for all concerned to simply retreat to the old standby: "FR authors, particularly the ones who have been around for a while, don't follow the rules and/or respect the setting."

So, with that in mind, here'd a few things to ponder. Drizzt was created under first edition rules, and Liriel under second ed. In fact, the plot of Starlight & Shadows was heavily dependant on the 2nd ed limitations on drow magic. I was informed of 3E changes to drow magic while I was writing the third book of the trilogy, and rather than knowingly write an anachronistic book or change game-rule boats in midstream, I wrote a partial explanation for the rule changes into the plot of the story. Drow magic and their powers on the surface world have been different in all three editions, so small discrepancies in the novels, especially those series written over time, are inevitable.

Also for the record, I used the terms green, wild, forest, and wood elves interchangeably in Silver Shadows and the Counselors & Kings trilogy because at the time, those terms were interchangeable. The subdivision of the forest folk into distinct subraces was a later innovation.

One more for the record books: There are no star elves mentioned in Evemeet because the book was written in 1998 and published in 1999, five years before star elves were introduced in a 2003 game product.

In closing, here's a proactive disclaimer: Elaith Craulnober has ALWAYS been officially, canonically described as having silver hair and amber eyes, from his first introduction in the game product "Waterdeep and the North," in the six novels and half dozen short stories, the seven or eight game products, and the Neverwinter Nights video game. If someone decides that as a moon elf, Elaith should have raven black hair and blue eyes, remember, you heard it from Ed Greenwood first, circa 1997.

And now, I really DO have to go....

On July 14, 2005 Elaine Cunningham said: Hmm. I suppose it would vary, depending upon the person. Let's face it: Some people are just inherently creepy.

But there are some hard-and-fast issues. The first time a reader tracked down my phone number and called me at home, my husband freaked. Since then we've either had unlisted numbers or left my name off the listing.

I'm not a big fan of hand-kissing--not even at conventions, when the person in question is in costume and in character. I get a little creeped out when people ask for signed photos. That's just not a writer thing. I don't like people pointing a camera at me. Never have, never will. And personal comments of just about any kind make me exceedingly uncomfortable. Ditto personal questions about other writers. Or repeated requests to get them in touch with another writer. One of the blessings of the Candlekeep forum is that I now have a place to point people who simply MUST contact Ed Greenwood, and seem unable to grasp the notion that an author who declines to have a public email address does so for a reason.

Long blog comments are no problem. Ditto long emails. But frequent long emails--and by this I mean several a week--are beyond my capacity to answer.

I just don't know what to do with emails from readers who say, "I've read XX and you seem like a nice person, and I'm sure we'll become the best of friends." Ummm....

And readers who won't take no for an answer make me a little nervous. Some people will keep writing after you've declined a request, writing three or more follow-up emails to argue with your reasons for declining. Some people honestly don't get why working writers can't read their stories, or help them build with their world-building projects, or contribute to their fanfic, or write a book based on the ideas they'd like to share, or edit their work and pass it along to the publisher. When dealing with someone who is so short on empathy they're incapable of walking a single step in someone else's shoes, you sometimes wonder what OTHER wires might be short-circuiting.

I've gotten emails and letters from guys in prison, none of them troubling and some that were just lovely. But I know two writers who've gotten disturbing letters from incarcerated readers, one of whom expressed a desire to get together with the author once his debt to society was paid. Another author was complimented on his realistic description of murder, and asked whether he (the author) had personally killed anyone. Yeesh.

On September 4, 2005 Elaine Cunningham said: Moonblades were invented for the novel ELFSHADOW. Their history (or a legendary version thereof) was given in the novel EVERMEET. As far as I'm concerned, these particular swords were intended for moon elves. Hence the name.

Elven lore abounds in magical swords. The moonblades had a limited, specific function: to select a royal family from among the moon elf clans. It makes sense to me that some high elves would take exception to this and try to claim a sword, but it does not make sense that some sun elves would succeed. That's rather like bringing in a boatload of Danes and another of Greeks to Camelot so they could try to tug Excalaber out of the stone. Some of those hopefuls might have been honorable men, great warriors or philosophers, or damn fine vikings, but they wouldn't be the king the particular magic of sword and stone would recognize.

I don't want to get into a books-vs-games discussion, which profits nothing and is too reminiscent of the WotC boards for my peace of mind, but sometimes game products hijack a character or magical item from novels and run with them in directions the original author never intended. To be fair, sometimes novels do the same with info introduced in game products. It's a shared world, and everyone who works therein learns to adapt. So if Steven says gold elves have wielded moonblades, I'm not going to argue.

Of course, I'm not a moon elf.

Ask a moon elf, such as Elaith Craulnober, and he's likely to tell you that no gold elf ever wielded a moonblade. He considers the Starym moonblade approcrophal lore, a vile canard, one of Volo's more eggregious fabrications.

Speaking of the latter, that's one of the joys of Volo's writing: his every utterance is not necessarily "canon" (unless there's a footnote from Elminster saying, "Well, the truth of the matter is....), so characters in the Realms and those who write about and game in the Realms are able to make up their own minds about certain things. The Starym moonblade is one such.

On September 4, 2005 Elain Cunningham said: I see your point, of course, but there are reasons why Arilyn, a half elf of moon elf heritage, inherited a moonblade.

Throughout the Songs & Swords books, it is made very clear that Arilyn's sword is seriously FUBAR. It was dismantled after Princess Amnestria's union with a human resulted in two things: the creation of the elfgate, with disastrous results, and the conception of a half-elf child. In fact, Arilyn's conception and the creation of a new power for the moonblade were simultaneous events, and Queen Amlaruil never ceased to hold this against Arilyn. After King Zaor's assassination, a bitterly grieving Amlaruil decreed that the moonstone--a gem that acts as a conduit for magic--be removed from the sword's hilt and put into the keeping of Bran Skorlsun, Amnestria's human lover. The primary purpose of this was to weaken the gate between the mainland and Evermeet enough that it could be obscured and protected, but it was also a punishment--it effectively kept Bran away from Amnestria, who still carried the moonblade.

But tampering with an artifact is never a good idea--you can never been completely sure what the result will be. One of the unforseen results was the strengthening of the link between the sword and the child: Arilyn was linked with the moonblade long before she claimed it. Had the sword been whole, she could not have done so. This is never overtly stated, but the hints are there throughout the Songs & Swords books.

The misbehaving moonblade was a central plot point of ELFSHADOW, so it should come as no surprise that the sword was not exactly functioning as designed. The fact that Kymil Nimesin could further mess with the sword's magic makes it plain that its powers were seriously awry. Also, Arilyn relates to Danilo an incident from her youth, when she raised the moonblade against a young gold elf tormenter. The sword turned on her, which she took to be evidence that the moonblade would not allow itself to be raised against an innocent person. That gold elf's subsequent actions, however, made it plain that he was not an innocent. (Big hint to readers, there.) The moonblade was restored at the end of ELFSONG, and when we next see Arilyn, in SILVER SHADOWS, she temporarily returns the moonblade to a previous wielder. After that, (in the four-year interim between that book and the events of DREAM SPHERES) we are told that the sword became increasingly tempermental. Toward the end of DS, the sword turns on Arilyn and she was nearly fried. (Sound familiar?) She receives healing, but she's unable to wield the moonblade again during the final events of that story. It is assumed that the sword is defective--it is, after all, a tampered-with artifact--but it's also possible that the converse is true: the sword is slowly returning to its original state, and is functioning as it was designed to. What that means for Arilyn is a topic for another story, should such come about.

Now, stepping away from the overall series arc for a moment to consider the moonblade's role in ELFSHADOW. Giving Arilyn a moonblade was meant to emphasize and amplify the usual half-elf's dilemna of being neither fish nor fowl. Arilyn was daughter of moon elf royalty, the only part-blooded elf ever to wield a moonblade, yet most elves wouldn't give her the time of day. She is in a unique position, and that molded her into an extremely solitary person.

This point is undercut--nay, nearly obliterated--if every good-aligned gold elf, forest elf, drow, or half orc paladin of Sune with a heart of gold and tusks to match* is able to carry a moonblade.

Moonblades have become so popular and so common I half expect to see hand-written signs in the taverns of Waterdeep's Dock Ward to the effect of, "Good fish-scaling knife wanted. Will trade for moonblade."

But, it is what it is. Though the expansion of moonblades in game products does undercut the purpose of the moonblades as I originally envisioned them, I am keenly aware that it would be churlish to complain overmuch that ANY addition to FR lore has become "too popular." I'm just happy people want to read these stories, and incorporate some aspects of them into their home campaigns.

*Elaith's musings, taking from "Games of Chance," DRAGON #335

On September 15, 2005 Elaine Cunningham said: Not ANYONE; in fact, I have a theory about of some of those mysterious deaths among Zaor's heirs. Is it possible that the "official story"--or at least, the version the elves were willing to let Danilo Thann record in the novel EVERMEET--did not reflect what actually happened to some of those royal heirs?

I envision the King Sword, in its current state, as a final test of fitness to rule Evermeet. I think it's entirely possible that some ambitious princes or princesses desired to make a claim to the succession. I ALSO think it's possible that some siblings, having seen this occur, said, "Screw THIS--I am so out of here." In both cases, the elves are hardly likely to advertise. Better to speak of storms at sea, scorned princesses who pined away, and other mishaps. Sure, some humans might observe that Evermeet's royal family seems to be dogged by an enormous amount of misfortunate and a tendency to misplace their princes and princesses, but I suspect the elves prefer it this way.

On September 16, 2005 Elain Cunningham said: In short, I was asked to write about a drow; specifically, a young drow female of high family who goes off and has adventures on the surface. The editor chose me for this project because he considered me the person LEAST likely to create a Drizzt-like character. (What that says about me, or at least his perception of me, is a matter for another discussion... )

Consider Bob Salvatore's definition of the genre: "Fantasy = Good Wins." Perhaps the reason you see so few fantasy tales told from the perspective of a victorious villain is that such tales are, for the most part, beyond the bounds of traditional fantasy. These tales have their roots in folklore and mythology, which seek to make sense of life's questions and impose some logical form on chaos. Granted, there are sub-genres of modern fantasy that seek "realism" through sordid detail and grim conclusions. Even in S&S fantasy, audience tastes are veering more toward "dark" and "gritty"--two of the most overused descriptive terms in existence--so you can find a number of recent exceptions. But this is the exception, not the norm. Evil is usually vanquished, whether in the form of a villain, or as part of the protagonist's character growth and development. The struggle between good and evil often takes place, at least on one level, in the heart of a heart. This is a classic component of "hero tales," of which fantasy is a contemporary incarnation. Even Luke Skywalker had to enter the cave (a metaphor for "going within") to face his own dark nature before he could complete his Jedi training.

Redemption is present in much of fantasy. It's not uncommon to see "bad" or "neutral" characters come over to the side of the angels. Going back to the original Star Wars trilogy: In Episode III, it was Han Solo. Lando in Episode IV, and of course, Darth Vader in Episode VI.

It is not IMPOSSIBLE for evil to win in fantasy, or for the story to be told from the point of view of an evil character who remains evil. There are enough examples to prove that it can be done. But it is more common to find this sort of story in the horror genre.

On October 9, 2005 Elaine Cunningham said: I usually refer to the moonblades as "semi-sentient," in that they are capable of making complex decisions. But to my thinking, sentience implies an identity, a personality, and the moonblades lack this. They are influenced by former wielders, certainly, but they are not the portal to some mini-plane where the spirits of moonfighters past sip lattes, trade war stories, and hold the occasional Congressional hearing to confirm a potential wielder. To say that former wielders are "absorbed" into the moonblade is a bit too simplistic. The "essence" of the wielder remains, but this is something rather different than spirit, soul, or what-have-you.

I apologize if this is too vague for the purposes of your ongoing discussion. It seems to me that the afterlife is, and should be, more than a little mysterious.

A second apology is avoiding your next question: Did Arilyn's moonblade malfunction when she faced off against Elaith? I hope to answer this question in story form, so I'm reserving that info for the pages of a potential book.

Ever optimistic,

On October 13, 2005 Elaine Cunningham said: Waterdeep is a city of secrets, starting with the masked Lords of Waterdeep; thus, the ability to keep a secret is an important measure of leadership potential. So you might say that Beldar has before him one giant test of this ability.

Also, this decision seemed consistent with his concept of his destiny--to be the hero who defied death. He believes that his path to greatness began with "mingling with monsters," and if fact he did receive the Guardian's Gorget during the process--and with it, an important role in Waterdeep's defense. By the end of the novel, Beldar was training in earnest for an open role in governance. Where this path ends, who can say? :)

On November 2, 2005 Elaine Cunningham said: The line you quoted was speaking metaphorically, in the same manner as Christians use when they refer to themselves as "sons and daughters of God." Those dark elves who follow in the footsteps of an evil goddess or an evil necromancer are, in a spiritual sense, their descendants.

Greek mythology abounds in characters born of divine/human pairings, but this doesn't seem to be common in the Realms.

So, who won the argument? :)

On November 30, 2005 Elaine Cunningham said: The comment someone quoted about a "collection of my stories" did indeed refer to an anthology of short stories. I have no knowledge of plans to re-release the Songs & Swords series, nor am I aware of Thornhold being out of print. For all I know, it's still available.

On December 7, 2005 Elaine Cunningham said: As George observed, Attornash fell many years before the LEof Map. It's difficult to describe its location in terms of present-day Faerun; in fact, I envisoned its setting as being in the southern area that's usually "off the map" in terms of game lore.

The rule of pronunciation Ed Greenwood usually offers is that every letter in Realmsian words is pronounced; therefore, I would assume that a double r indicates a rolled r, similar to Spanish or Italian. Ignore the syllable break; mostly likely the typesetting program didn't recognize the word (and why should it?) and had a slight hiccough.

As for the Sundering and Evermeet, keep in mind tht much of the ancient lore in the book Evermeet might owe more to myth than history. This is not to say that it isn't "true"--after all, mythology is all about truth--but it might not be historical "fact," and--even more important to many Realms fans--might not be "canon." The Sundering is a Creation Myth, and should be regarded as such.


On May 18, 2005 Garen Thal said: On clerics and Cormyr, in repsonse to Zandilar:

To avoid getting long-winded about the subject, priests are viewed differently by different factes of society. Soldiers honor them for their healing, wizards (especially the War Wizards) deride them for their dependence on deities for spell power, commonfolk are thankful for their protections against widespread disease, and nobles find them entertaining diversions (sometimes). The soldiers at the end of Death of the Dragon were both insulted by the priests' presence (Azoun was dying a "good death," painful though it was, and should be with his men) and their behavior (acting like scrambling courtiers, not men of faith). Soldiers have a way of knowing when their comrade--or their king--has suffered irreperable injury.

Malar's following is fairly large and widespread in Cormyr; he is the only deity of evil alignment that's openly worshipped in the Forest Kingdom. In his aspect as god of the hunt, rangers, scouts, and members of the nobility offer him veneration at some point, if not as their patron.

Other gods, of course, have their followings as well. Murderers will always like Cyric, usurper will call on Bane or Gargauth, and nobles will always, ahem, toy with the worship of Loviatar, but (apart from Malar) no evil god is welcomed in Cormyr. This is not to say that they do not receive their tribute--Umberlee's name is whispered in ports and Talos is invoked to keep lightning from striking one's home or business--only that the clergy of such gods don't tend to walk openly in Cormyr.

On August 29, 2005 Garen Thal said: I won't presume to speak for Ed on matters Cormyrean, but I am more than willing to speak before him, leaving, of course, the appropriate room for him to correct me if necessary (for, as Peter Archer pointed out, his beard is still longer than mine ):

1) To my understanding, the Illances--particularly the youngest, now-wedding or soon-to-be-wed generation--have something of a reputation as ladies' men, womanizers, and "marry upward" gentlemen. It would be entirely unsurprising for more than one member of this youngest litter to woo as many Obarskyr princesses as were available. My own guess is that Frayault is a family name, that Martin Frayault and Frayault are cousins or the like, and that the "Martin" was added to the younger's name to avoid confusion between the two. After all, Martin Frayault wasn't just a suitor of the princesses; he stood with Aunadar at the end of C:aN.

2) I'm just going to chalk this one up as a transcription/editing/typographical error and claim that the proper birth year for Telarn should be -21DR. I'd leave the year of his death at 43DR.

3) "Can you give any lore regarding the year and circumstances of this re-ennoblement?" I'm going to very gently suggest that this best be left secret for others to examine in future works, save that it's most likely a result of Orthwood loyalty during the regency of Salember.

As a side note, it's not unprecedented for disposessed nobles to seek (and sometimes gain) restoration of their family titles. It is usually younger kin, cousins, and "country knight" types, disgraced by more "refined" relatives closer to the seats of family power, that work for and achieve such ends.

4)a) and b) The whole matter happened some time around the year 1190 DR give or take a couple of years.

d) I can't comment on which families the various Drauthglas daughters married into. I will, however, note that the Wyvernspur lineage from The Wyvern's Spur is, with the exception of the errors relating to an inadvertent swap between Dalereckoning and Cormyr Reckoning, absolutely complete. There are no members of the Wyvernspur family not listed on that genealogy.

As for the families that disappeared in 710DR, I will say three things. First, the three were intentionally unnamed. Second, their disappearances created a great mess of rumors, innuendo, and conspiracy talk among the nobility at the time. Third, and finally, to reveal any more would likely spoil a great number of plans and hidden, already-woven threads.

Except, perhaps, to add one word: Elmarask.

-Garen, who's spent quite a bit too much time around Ed learning to drop hints and make stuff up as he goes along to fill in the blanks.

On October 3, 2005 Garen Thal said: Knowing well enough that Ed will have much to add on this topic (give the time and breath to do so), I'll briefly and generally speak on matters military for Cormyr, to help answer the Sage's question:

As to how Cormyr fights large-scale battles, there is a frustratingly simple answer. They don't. At least, not on Cormyrean soil. Given the vast natural defenses of the nation (mountains on three sides, Anauroch and the Stonelands beyond that, and a well-patrolled sea to the south), the inherent advantages of defending troops, and the rather intimidating title of the nation's magical defenders (they were named the Brotherhood of Wizards of War for a reason), most enemies aren't daft enough to attempt an actual invasion of Cormyr. This is why all the major conflicts you read about for the Purple Dragons--the Dragonfall Battle, the Witch-Lords, the war against Magrath and Salember's civil war--are all cases in which someone wishing to conquer Cormyr got in and had to be forcibly removed. None of them were ever met "at the border."

The only wars where Cormyr engaged in recognizably "set-piece" battles (the sorts you see in Braveheart, for example, or in accounts of the Hundred Years' War) were during the Crusade (which took place well outside Cormyr) and against the Witch-Lords of the Wyvernwater, where the Purple Dragons and every other capable hand was whelmed against a force that needed to be wiped out with finality. In nearly all other cases, conflicts in Cormyr are fought in smaller, more managable skirmishes, with units small enough that their tactics, commanders, and abilities are all familiar to the Cormyrean participants. This is due both to the nature of the combats (Cormyreans know Cormyr better), and of the opponents--who usually make themselves a threat by infiltrating the nation separately, and are usually fairly disorganized (goblins, rebels, etc.) preventing true, unified assault that a whelmed army with formed ranks is even necessary.

That isn't to say that Cormyrean commanders don't plan for set-piece battles where the terrain is known. A favorite practice is to think up ways of overcoming Arabel's defenses. There is, of course, a practicality in this, considering how often Arabel has rebelled in the past, and it served the nation well in retaking the city following Nalavara's horde taking over.

In general, however, Cormyr's forces keep to smaller units, more guerilla-style tactics: quick, mobile strikes that exploit vulnerabilities rather than large, clunky, overwhelm-by-numbers strategies that tend to get lots of men killed. When you have a group of War Wizards, having all your men standing in one place is generally a bad idea anyway, and set-piece battles tend to allow for far more "expendable casualties" than the Crown or Cormyrean people are willing to accept.

On October 3, 2005 Garen Thal said: Well, sort of.

In the west, the only place to get a force of any size into Cormyr is through a single mountain which is (quite intentionally) dominated by High Horn. The Lake of Dragons to the south is patrolled both by the Imperial Navy and the far more numerous Freesails. In the east and north (northeast, really) the Stonelands, Thunder Gap and southern shore of the country do provide enough room for troops to come through, which is why Thunderstone is a fortified town, why Arabel has both a local garrison and the armies of the Warden of the East (and the reason for such a Warden in the first place), the motivation behind the annexation of Tilverton and so forth.

With these few locations for armies to gather, it becomes very simple for Cormyr to plan for its defense, and to discourage invaders: if you have only two or three viable spots from which to mount an assault, your enemy knows where those are, is likely to patrol them heavily, and when you do gather your forces there, may very well summon those cursed War Wizards to blow you up, assuming you ever get there in the first place. Because most of the "weak points" in Cormyr's natural defenses are to the east, the real threats they consider are Sembian invasion and a Zhent wave down from the Moonsea. Thus, they try to keep the Dales strong (both for their own sake, and as a "buffer zone" of sorts) and watch grasping Sembia very, very closely.


On June 21, 2005 Eric Boyd said: WoTC decided that Force Grey felt inappropriate as a group name in the Realms and that Gray Hands was a more appropriate.

My bias is always towards consistency (to a fault), but if I was starting from scratch I would have definitely picked "Gray Hands."


I'm not sure I understand the question, so correct me if I'm headed the wrong way here.

Ignoring 2e->3e mechanics and updates resulting from the passage of time, the change of the name from "Force Grey" to "Gray Hands" is the only deviation from canon that we made consciously (at least as far as I can remember). The feat I called "Hand of Tyr" didn't end up quite the way I envisioned (it started out as a way to explain that one-handed paladin of Tyr found in 2e CoS), but I think its a useful and well-balanced feat as written.

IMO, the name change isn't that big a deal... lots of groups (like the Moonstars, for example) have lots of variant names. I'd simply treat Force Grey and Gray Hands as variant names for the same group.


On July 1, 2005 Eric Boyd said: Blame me, not Travis or Ed. I have NO IDEA what I was thinking. I must have confused the race with that of his sidekick.

--Eric, author of the Mintiper's Chapbook series and apparently completely clueless

On July 27, 2005 Eric Boyd said: Challas and possibly Miri should be Chondathan. My mistake.

Why is the family Chondathan? 22% of Waterdeep's population is Chondathan, so it makes sense that some of the noble families are as well.

Mourngrym is still in Shadowdale. His parents are visiting Shadowdale at the present time.

Arilos is the first son of Challas and Miri. Regnet is the second son of Arilos. Mourngrym is Arilos's younger brother.

The current time is Midsummer, 1374 DR.


On July 29, 2005 Eric Boyd said: The original Crown of Narfell was shattered in 731 DR. This is the evil artifact that the Nentyarchs of Narfell employed.

Upon shattering, the original Crown of Narfell was separated into two sets of components. One set of components were the crown-wraiths. Ndulu slowly captured the crown-wraiths over the next five decades and then made the Moaning Crown of Ndulu from them. The other set of components were the physical pieces of the broken crown. Sarshel gathered these up pieces and had them forged into a redeemed (i.e. good) Crown of Narfell. This new Crown of Narfell is the crown of state for Impiltur's modern monarchs.

The reference on page 136 is to the good-aligned Crown of Narfell redeemed and reforged on Sarshel's command. This crown was nearly lost to Soneillon, but Soargar protected it during the Kingless Years, and his instructions led Imphras to it (the good-aligned crown) after his great victory. The crown has sat atop the head of Impiltur's monarchs ever since. Imbrar apparently did not wear it into battle when he vanished.

I'm hopeful you'll see a write-up of the good-aligned Crown of Narfell in a future Realms supplement. Ditto for Hadryllis.


On September 22, 2005 Eric Boyd said: I'd vote for Lathander, given that Durnan's wife, Mhaere Dryndilstann, is a priestess of Lathander. See City of Splendor: Waterdeep, page 40, or the Ruins of Undermountain boxed set.

Garen is correct; Durnan is NG, as noted in City of Splendors: Waterdeep, page 54.


On September 29, 2005 Eric Boyd said: I'm a little puzzled. I think this is 1 of 2 web enhancements.

FWIW, if you don't have the old stuff, this should give you the complete list of nobles. If you do have the old stuff and you carefully compare the changes, you can guess at a lot of plot points.


On October 5, 2005 Eric Boyd said: Thaeravel is a new plot hook based on the slender foundations of a brief reference in Ed Greenwood's Athalantan Campaign article (Dragon #227 or 228, I believe) and a mysterious city detailed in FR13 - Anauroch [2e]. I inserted it to begin to explain "what did the sevent towns of early Netheril have to conquer to grow to the size of an empire". It also sets up a "sorceror's Netheril" for those wanting an analog to Netheril's wizards. Finally, it hints at an explanation for why the phaerimm have multiple "creation dates".

Oreme is described as a port city inhabited by 60 liches in FR10 - Anauroch. The Terraseer is an important character in the history section of the Netheril boxed set, who had never been explored before Serpent Kingdoms. The Netheril boxed set completely ignored the fairly obvious hints in Anauroch that the Narrow Sea ran north south along the western edge of Netheril, at the base of the eastern slopes of the Greypeak Mountains. To reconcile the two, I explained how the sarrukh / phaerimm war resulted in the Narrow Sea being moved from its North / South access to its east-west access as shown in the Netheril boxed set. That's also an attempt to explain why there's a mountain range running through the middle of an inland sea in the Netheril boxed set. And finally, making the Terraseer and the liches into undead sarrukh tied the two discordant stories together better.


On October 19, 2005 Eric Boyd said: This is a good question, and one I didn't think through enough before using the portal drakes in the 3rd adventure.

My intent for Ahghairon's dragonward (spelled out in the epic spell that didn't make the cut) is that he created a massive dome, with sufficient radius to include all of Mount Waterdeep. This dome is centered on Ahghairon's tower and roughly level.

As Waterdeep is a slanted plateau, this means that the dome rises above the docks of Dock Ward and buries into the ground of North and Sea Ward. In other words, deep dungeons under the northern half of the city and any dungeon under the southern half of the city are NOT encompassed by the ward.

Now, given that the Fireplace Level is under North Ward, it's questionable whether or not it would fall within the dragonward or not. The answer basically depends on the slope of Waterdeep's plateau, the depth of the dungeon, and its distance from Ahghairon's Tower. That's too much math to figure out and it's probably pretty close either way. Also, there's no reason that Ahghairon's dragonward couldn't be slightly tilted as well (just not quite enough to encompass the docks of Dock Ward). Given that the portal drakes appear in the Fireplace Level, I'd say the dragonward does not descend deep enough for one of the above reasons (either just deep enough or there's a slight tilt to the dragonward).


On October 19, 2005 Eric Boyd said: We know there was a marid state just south of Calimshan (Lost Ahjuutal). There were also several marid statelets in the Sea of Fallen Stars around the same time. (See Empires of the Shining Sea and Sea of Fallen Stars histories.) Both would be good origins for a water genasi. Note that marids are neutral evil, so that would make for a good reason for a NE water genasi if there's a remnant of their former culture still around.

I think Umberlee is certainly an appropriate deity for an aquatic ranger, particularly if they are a water genasi. If you play an evil aquatic elf, I would suggest making them a worshiper of Dagon, an aquatic demon lord, and taking the Thrall to Demon feat from BoVD and Champions of Ruin. Note very little is known of Dagon other than what is written in the beginning of the section on demons in the Monster Manual II [1e].


On October 20, 2005 Eric Boyd said: While you are welcome to beef up Morlin in your campaign, for Dungeon he is supposed to be "CR appropriate". Mechanically, he works out to being a CR 21 monster, but I think CR 18 might be more appropriate. Likewise, for treasure and stats, he is balanced mechanically with what is appropriate for a CR 21 monster.

There's a general philosophical problem with "uber-bad-guys" being limited in terms of their treasure and magic. Why don't they have everything under the sun? In general, 3e has either said "they don't" or "well, it's not available in the current scenario (by hook or by crook".

Finally, IMO he is a fighter with a great strength, but his charisma is actually more important to his success and station. Ultimately, the campaign arc is about disrupting a very efficient predator who has created a situation in which he can thrive unmolested and unrestricted. The real goal is disrupt the status quo, flushing out a great evil that preys on Waterdeep's populace.


On October 21, 2005 Eric Boyd said: Whether or not this is a good role-playing rule, it is a game balance rule and Paizo prints modules that endeavor to follow the rules as written. If you look in the DMG, the table for "GP value of stuff/Treasure" for NPCs/Monsters is lower at ever level than the comparable amount of stuff for PCs.

Artor is built with an elite array, a set of classes, and has the maximum amount of "stuff". His CR is calculated according to the formula in the Rules as Written. He is using his dominate ability to maintain his position in House Gost and Waterdhavian society. He is also maxing out his number of servitor vampires (although one is offstage). One of his servitor vampires even has servitor vampires of its own.

I share your frustration that sometimes its hard to explain why an NPC has a limited amount of stuff, but I believe the solution is to come up with an in-game explanation, not just add more stuff. Otherwise, every great wyrm dragon hoard is going to be worth a billion gp and have 1,000 magic items, which is a campaign buster. In Artor's case, the explanation is that he's always had to maintain a low profile in Waterdeep. If he dominated hundreds of mages and set up a magic item factory, Khelben, the Guild, and 1,000 adventuring bands would be after him in a heartbeat. Artor is very aware how precarious his place in Waterdeep truly is. Witness how carefully he's moved to reclaim his old lair, despite the lack of a credible threat to keep him from just seizing it.


On October 21, 2005 Eric Boyd said: Good question. I'd probably say Talos, worshiped under the Calishite name "Bhaelros", although Tempus would be a reasonable candidate as well. Despite his blackguard status, I'd say Artor is not particularly religious.


On October 21, 2005 Eric Boyd said: Good point again! I like Hoar best, Myrkul second.

He was never a paladin.


On November 11, 2005 Eric Boyd said: The way I explained the game mechanical differences from role-playing differences in 3e (specifically Lost Empires, IIRC) is as follows:

Elves (and other races) had a tradition of epic magic. Elves called this magic "Elven High Magic". Note, this does NOT NECESSARILY (both those words are important) mean that Elven High Magic is equivalent to Epic Magic from a role-playing perspective.

Elves (and other races) also have a tradition of metmagicking 9th and lower level spells into 10th and higher level spell slots.

The elves tried to introduce the tradition of epic magic to the Netherese.

The Netherese eventually rejected this approach (in large part, not exclusively) and set about 10th, 11th, and 12th level spells. From the elves perspective, this had predictable results.

After the Fall of Netheril, the Netherese survivors turned back to developing epic magic because Mystra banned 10th, 11th, and 12th level spells (but not 10th, 11th, and 12th level spell slots for metamagicked 9th and lower level spells).

Note, from a mechanics standpoint (and possibly from a post-Fall of Netheril reinvention standpoint), some "Netherese" spells have been redeveloped as epic spells and some had an epic variant pre-Fall.


On November 12, 2005 Eric Boyd said: I'm not sure why this was changed, but my turnover copy says King Imphras V died in 1358 DR. I think that resolves both of the problems you mention.


On November 19, 2005 Eric Boyd said: I recently reread this passage, and I'm actually not convinced the elves necessarily came from another world. By my reading of Evermeet, the elves could have come from an archipelago far from Faerun but on Abeir-Toril.

Just a curious insight.


On November 20, 2005 Eric Boyd said: I'm aware of the other sources. My point was simply that at the time "Evermeet" was new, we all assumed that it told the story of moon and gold elves arriving on Abeir-Toril. Later works went with that assumption. I was simply pointing out that the designers could have gone another way.

Moreover, even if the elves are interloper race, it's not clear when they first arrived. (For example, the moon and gold elves might have arrived circa -50,000 DR in other parts of Abeir Toril and then moved to Faerun at the time indicated in the Evermeet book.) I'd have to check all the relevant sources to see if this explanation (assuming it was desirable) is even still possible.


On November 22, 2005 Eric Boyd said: Glad you liked it. In case it wasn't clear, all the Impiltur-related info, plus the equine templates is my contribution. Of course, the history of Impiltur owes a great deal to George Krashos, who should have gotten a credit. Likewise the equine info owes a great deal to Tom Costa.

I'm hoping that the combination of Impiltur lore in Champions of Ruin and Champions of Valor serves as a "mini-setting" for DMs interested in running an Impiltur-based campaign.


PS In my turnover, the equine templates could be applied to any equine, including hippogriffs, centaurs, etc. Although it's not mentioned in Champions of Valor, it would be reasonable for the DM to extend them to any part-equine, as desired.

On November 30, 2005 Eric Boyd said: There's a nifty little adventure in Dungeon #130 for 1st-level characters by Sam Brown.

Set in Featherdale, this can be used as the opening adventure of a new campaign, either for a group of characters already known to each other or for a new group that needs to be introduced.

The adventure has the nice twist that the NPC who hires the PCs is actually sending them on two missions, both legitimate. The first mission is well defined and can be completed during the adventure. The second mission is only the first step in unraveling a much larger plot thread. The author does a good job of using monsters and traps from the Monster Manual and Serpent Kingdoms as CR-appropriate threats.

While the second plot thread of this adventure is very open-ended and gives a good start to an enterprising DM, I am hoping that the author will write a sequel.

My only quibble with the Realmslore is that I'm not convinced anyone with the rank of "Baron" should be running around in Featherdale. I'd make him a wealthy landowner who acts not unlike a baron. Also I'm confused by references to him being in line to the throne. It's not clear if this is referring to the baronial seat he's already acquired or if there's an implication that Featherdale has king. These are just minor, minor quibbles in a great adventure.


PS Not to toot my own horn, but I think this adventure could be a great lead-in to "Adderposts", a short adventure that I wrote found in Serpent Kingdoms.

On December 1, 2005 Eric Boyd said: Actually I was taking about the "Within the Circle" module by Sam Brown in issue #130.

That's me.

I'm not sure I understand the question.

The god/organization behind the Kyuss worms (in my adaptation) is Kyuss. Rather than replace him with a Realms equivalent, I decided to add him to the Realms if you decide to run the adventure. His Realms backstory is being revealed in the conversions, although there is an unexpected Realms god behind Kyuss who I won't name here as it's not a spoiler thread. (I'm not trying to be mysterious in general either ... I've only seen a little more than you have, so I'm trying not to box myself into a corner.) This god behind Kyuss is an additional Realms-only subplot behind the main plot.


On December 15, 2005 Eric Boyd said: IIRC, I gave the strong impression that the Mulan slaves were kidnapped from Earth in Powers & Pantheons, but did not state so explicitly.


On December 17, 2005 Eric Boyd said: Without addressing all the questions posed, I would posit two key differences between the Realms and Earth:

1) In the Realms, the presence of very-long-lived races means that there is more generational overlap than among the exclusively human cultures of Earth. In other words, the number of generations concurrently alive among the Fair Folk is far higher than among humans(usually 3, sometimes 4, rarely 5).

I would argue that the degree of concurrence of generations exponetially increases cultural and technological staticism. In other words, the longer-lived the race, the more generations alive, and therefore the more resistant the culture and the technology is to change.

2) The difference between magic and technology is that the former is an elitist approach to solving technological problems, while the latter is ultimately a democratic approach that eventually spreads to the masses. For example, the magic missile spell and the pistol both solve roughly the same problem. However, the former is available only to those who study (wizards) or inherit (sorcerors) the requisite ability, while the latter can ultimately be made available to every farmer, without restriction.

I would argue that the existence of magic greatly undermines technological advancement. If I really want to do X, the easiest course if for me to create a spell to do X rather than try to invent something to do X. However, if a society wants to do X, the longer but ultimately more effective course is to invent something to do X and share it across society.

Spell-casting elites can easily add to their personal power by using magic in new ways, but ultimately such approaches remain the province of the elites, who have little incentive to share their power with others. Ultimately, this traps cultures at relatively static technological levels rather than allow them to advance technologically at Earth-like norms.


On December 30, 2005 Eric Boyd said: This is one of those instances where the changes in the rules has continually upset the explanation of what's going on.

FR10 - Old Empires laid out the idea of incarnations and aspects (if I recall the 1e terminology correctly). Incarnations were physical, largely resided in temples away from mortals, and where halfway between gods and avatars in powers. Aspects (I may have the word wrong) were descendants of the gods reborn as mortals. They had limited lifespans, superhero-like powers, slightly variant personalities, and were somewhat susceptible to corruption (deviations from the gods ideals). In some ways they were like a planetouched Chosen.

In 2e, Julia and I needed to square up the rules for gods across the Realms. (You could argue whether this made sense or not, but that was the design criterea.) The idea was that gods were "beyond the ken", but avatars were capable of being battled. We decided the Time of Troubles shattered the Godshield, making the Mulhorandi gods rejoin their multiplanar brethren in the Egyptian pantheon. Thereafter, there were avatars "permanently dwelling" in Mulhorand's great temples.

In 3e, we've kind of danced around the subject, but my guess for now (open to revision should I ever revisit the area and without doublechecking sources) is that the god-kings are very powerful aspects of the Egytptian gods capable of fathering offspring. Those offspring are usually half-celestials (or half-fiends in the case of Set's offspring) with numerous class levels. Their descendants in term may be human or may be aasimar (or tieflings). Day-to-day rulership of the country is delegated to the mortals, who may have divine blood in their veins or may not.



On June 24, 2005 Richard Lee Byers said: To be completely honest, Krafus, at this late date I don't even recall if I actually assigned Ishenalyr to a specifc age category a la the Monster Manual. All I can tell you is, he's supposed to be an old and powerful wyrm, and if you statted him out for gaming, he would also have levels in the Hidecarved dragon Prestige Class from Draconomicon.

On November 26, 2005 Richard Lee Byers said: May I point out that D&D lore already assigns essentially human emotions and attitudes (pride, greed, etc.) to dragons? So, if an author managed the difficult trick of portraying the creatures as profoundly alien, some readers might like it, but I suspect that others would be irked at the lack of consistency with the source material.

On November 26, 2005 Richard Lee Byers said: No offense taken, Inquisitor. And I trust you won't be offended if I decline to respond to your criticisms. It's nothing personal against you. I try not to respond to anybody's criticisms of my work. Arguing with readers who find fault with one's stuff is a losing game for writers, for reasons I've posted previously (although I can post them again if anybody missed the previous discussion and is curious. Let me know. Maybe in Chamber of Sages, since it would be off topic for this thread)

The answer to your question (or the non-answer) is that I honestly don't remember anymore. Please understand, I wrote the novel years ago and have written a lot of other stuff since. You don't retain every detail, or at least I don't. Sorry. I'm pretty sure it was too many dragons and not enough monks to improve your opinion of the book.


On September 13, 2005 George Krashos said: My musings on the history of the Covenant:

The Covenant was formed in 673 DR when the four most powerful (of their time) mages of the North came together in common purpose to safeguard the future of human settlement in the North. The Four Founders, as they are known, had all suffered at the hands of orcs. The mages Agannazar and Grimwald had suffered loss in the depredations of the Everhorde around Neverwinter in 611 DR. Their fellow archmage Ilyykur, had seen his holdings in the Greypeak Mountains plundered by the Horde of the Wastes in 614 DR. Similarly, the mage Presper had lost his wife and daughter to roving orc raiders in 624 DR.

When the last ruler of the Kingdom of Man died without an heir in the Year of the Triton's Horn (697 DR), the land of Delimbiyran splintered into a patchwork of small realms. These small holdings were scattered throughout the Dessarin Valley and formed around surviving nobles of Delimbiyran and other strong individuals who seized the chance to carve out a kingdom with their sword. The slaughter inflicted on the orcs of the North by their pyrrhic victories over Phalorm and the Kingdom of Man, had afforded the small realms and holdings that formed in the wake of Delimbiyran an opportunity to prepare and guard against the inevitable time when the orcs would come again. The leaders of the Covenant recognized that human civilization needed time to build its power and prosperity against the next destructive tide of goblinkin and saw its salvation in the orc-hating, Uthgardt tribes of the North.

In the Year of Watchful Eyes (705 DR), Argloar and Ultatht "Oldbones", then the chieftains of the Black Lion and Sky Pony tribes respectively, were awed by the spectacular spells of Agannazar of the Covenant. With his Art, he single-handedly destroyed an onrushing orc horde that streamed forth from the Lurkwood, although in truth he was joined in battle by over a score Covenant mages who were cloaked by invisibility. These two proud Uthgardt were cowed by the display and agreed to refrain from raiding, feuding, and skirmishing with each other as was customary amongst the Uthgardt. In the past, such conflict had drained away their best warrior blood, leaving their tribes too weak to prevent the next orc horde from flooding across the North in yet another destructive tide. With one alliance secured, the Covenant worked to forge others.

>From that time, the mages of the Covenant whispered almost continuously into the minds of the mightiest warriors and shamans of the Black Lion, Sky Pony, Red Tiger and Thunderbeast Uthgardt tribes. Through their Art they manipulated a peace and alliance between the oft-warring tribes aimed at making them, in the words of Agannazar, a "human wall against all goblinkin". Their efforts were soon to be rewarded. This alliance of Uthgardt tribes is known to have shattered and blunted a whelming horde near the headwaters of the Surbrin in 729 DR, and was responsible for the hunting down and slaying of no less than two-score orcish chieftains in the early 700s DR.

After this time, the mages of the Covenant no longer used spectacular spells to awe and cow the Uthgardt tribesmen and spoke less and less often into the minds of their leaders. Instead, they turned to towards the founding of a "school for shamans" that they hoped their apprentices would carry on, posing as ancestor spirits and guiding the Uthgardt shamans into keeping their tribes allied in common purpose against the orcs and their kin. Initially, this plan of controlling the Uthgardt through their shamans seemed to work well and freed the Covenant mages to pursue their own ends via different methods. The passing of the years however saw cracks emerge in the tribal alliances that had served so well to keep the goblinkin in check. Firstly, the role of bulwark against the humanoid hordes began to place a great strain on the manpower of the tribes. The Goblin Wars that commenced in the Year of Strife (753 DR) saw the warriors of the Red Tiger and Thunderbeast tribes almost decimated by the goblin hordes that streamed out of the Valley of Khedrun. The Black Lion and Sky Pony tribes fared better but still suffered greatly from orc bands that would raid almost continuously south from the Moonwood and Lurkwood. With its best warriors falling, and with them the future of the tribes, the Uthgardt alliance began to falter and was soon shattered by the thing it feared most: civilization.

The actions of the Covenant and its manipulation of the Uthgardt had succeeded in giving the humans who had survived the fall of Delimbiyran, the Kingdom of Man, the breathing space to consolidate their power and holdings in the North. Initially hesitant, humans began to believe that the orcs had been defeated forever and soon surged northward to settle new lands. The founding of the city of Mirabar in 626 DR by the aged and wandering Prince Ereskas of Amn attracted many settlers displaced by the fall of Phalorm and proved to all that the inhospitable North could be tamed. In time humans formed other realms, the most famous being Stornanter which was founded in 806 DR by the famed Laeral, the Witch-Queen of the North. The encroachment of human settlement began to unravel the alliance of Uthgardt tribes that the Covenant had so carefully constructed. To the Uthgardt, other humans were just as dangerous as the orcs and altogether more frightening. By the Year of the Patchworked Peace (802 DR) the Uthgardt had returned to their nomadic ways and warred on all who traversed their lands, orcs, goblins or humans, whether Uthgardt or not.

With the collapse of the Uthgardt alliance, the mages of the Covenant began to work with the burgeoning realms of the North in order to unite them against the goblinkin threat. Whilst many holdings and kingdoms paid lip service to the counsel given by Covenant mages, they sought only to use this group to gain an ascendancy over neighbors and enemies. Hamstrung by their refusal to seize power and unite the North by force, the Covenant could find no ruler who had the power, respect and personality to bring the humans of the Northlands together. This was especially so when Laeral, a charismatic and admired leader, mysteriously disappeared in 841 DR leaving her realm in chaos and leading to its swift demise as squabbling nobles and neighboring rivalry tore it apart.

The humans of the North were treated to a rude awakening however in the Year of the Sky Riders (936DR). The orcs of Uruth Ukrypt swept down from their warrens in the Sword Mountains and overran the patchwork of human-ruled lands in the western reaches of the Dessarin Valley. Scared into action, the humans of the region banded together under the leadership of Nimoar of Waterdeep and smashed the orcish armies in the Orcfastings War, helped in no small part by a cadre of battle wizards furnished by the leaders of the Covenant. This alliance led to further cooperation during the Second Troll War in 940 DR. Whereas in the First Troll War in 932 DR Nimoar and the forces of Waterdeep had faced the trolls alone, when Warlord Gharl proclaimed his intention to end the threat of the "everlasting ones" forever, his call to arms did not go unheeded. Forces from Silverymoon under War Captain Aeroth joined with armsmen from Illusk under Lord Galnorn and a host of warriors from other holdings and small realms to fight alongside Gharl on the barren Evermoors and bring fiery doom upon the trolls. It appeared that the humans of the Northlands were finally learning to cooperate and band together against a common foe.

Elated at the response of the kingdoms of the North to the threat of the trolls, the Covenant seized upon the mood of the time to whelm them against the eternal threat of the orcs. When scrying Covenant mages discovered a vast orc horde forming deep within the northern mountains, they alerted the rulers of the North to the impending threat and roused them for battle. And so it was in the Year of the Telltale Candle (955 DR) that a host of human armies joined together north of present-day Triboar at the invitation of the Covenant. Such armed might had not been arrayed since the time of fabled Phalorm and the mages of the Covenant looked on with satisfaction, confident that they were witnessing the dawn of a new age of unity and cooperation throughout the Northlands.

For over a tenday they waited, eager for battle and prepared for the impending slaughter, but the orcs did not come. At first the warriors jested that they had scared the orcs back into their mountain caves, but soon rivalries and age-long fears came to the fore. Who was protecting their homes and farms? Which realm or settlement had sent only a token force whilst planning to usurp the holdings of their rivals? As tempers flared and the orcs failed to march, the Covenant saw its dream die. Their counsel of patience was rebuffed and the Four Founders were accused of supporting some human realms in preference to others. The end came all too soon. Slowly at first, but with increasing swiftness, the humans turned and marched for home in what sages would dub "the March of Fools". As they trudged away they heaped curses and insults on the "lackspells" of the Covenant who had apparently misled and deceived them.

The events of that dark tenday almost tore the Covenant asunder. Baffled by the failure of the orcish horde to appear, the most powerful wizards of the Covenant searched for answers and their powerful divinations found them many hundreds of leagues to the south. A massive army of orcs was laying waste to half a hundred cities and realms stretching from the Shaar to the plains of Mulhorand in what sages would soon call the Great Rising of the Orcgates. How the orcs had come so far from their mountain caverns in the North was soon revealed. Thayan archmages, fearing for the security of their fledgling nation, had opened a series of portals and lured the orcs through to ravage the South in a pre-emptive strike against their rivals, both near and far. Seeing their carefully laid plans in tatters, many members of the Covenant swore vengeance against the Red Wizards.

Thus began the conflict between the mages of the Covenant and Thay. Secretly at first, but with ever-increasing boldness, the Covenant hunted and slew a host of Red Wizards. Those in power in Thay took several winters to discover who or what was culling their ranks with such singleminded persistence but with the hand of the Covenant revealed, the Red Wizards quickly marshaled all of their Art and hurled it at them. Many mages of the Covenant perished in that first, fell assault including the wizard and senior Covenant member Alamanth. He was slain in battle on a ship off Port Llast, arrogantly sporting a wand of whips he had stripped from a Red Wizard he had slain. The sorceress Phelanshalee was banished from Faerun by a curse that traps her to this day on another plane save when the moon is full. Also destroyed was the senior Covenant mage Karsosh "Steelspell" Linthorn who was vanquished by the fiery breath of the great red wyrm Ondorlathlar, the charmed steed of the powerful Red Wizard Eradis of the Scarlet Talon. Many junior Covenant members and apprentices were also slain in this first savage flurry of spellhurling but both the Covenant and the Red Wizards soon settled into a stalemate of attrition.

The years passed with each side failing to deliver a telling blow despite many spellbattles, ambuscades and even a few formal duels between Covenant mages and their counterpart Red Wizards. It is thought however that the confrontation with the Covenant served as the catalyst for the formation of the Council of Zulkirs in Thay, as this magocracy sought to consolidate and enhance its power and influence. Sages and historians alike have pondered on whether a fragmented and decentralized Thay would have survived its future confrontations with such diverse groups as the Harpers, Rashemen and the sleeping giant of Mulhorand had it not been for the Covenant and the changes they brought about.

The death of Ilyykur in the Year of the Deluded Tyrant (1063DR) saw the balance finally tilt toward the Red Wizards. The mage Ruelve, an archlich and senior Covenant member, had been driven insane after investigating some items of power left behind in his abode, the Green Tower, on a small island southwest of Ruathym. These items, believed to be artifacts from other worlds, had been collected by the planewalking wizard Thulnath, the builder and former owner of the Green Tower. The mad Ruelve began to send magical missives to other Covenant mages urging them to join him in developing spells to raise new continents and flood the current ones, "scouring fair Faerun of the contagion that the passing history of the rise of the brutish have left over the lands". When challenged by other senior Covenant wizards led by Ilyykur, Ruelve responded with a flurry of spells and the ensuing spellbattle saw the death of Ilyykur and reduced Ruelve to a twisted undead wreck bound within the Green Tower.

As the full fury of the Red Wizards of Thay was brought to bear on the Covenant, Agannazar, Presper and Grimwald were hounded into flight from their abodes and refuges whilst their apprentices and other less powerful Covenant wizards were swiftly overwhelmed. With their membership decimated and scattered, the three remaining leaders of the Covenant commanded that the surviving members go underground and cease all open involvement in the doings of the folk and realms of the North. In addition, Presper and Grimwald resolved to leave Faerun through a series of portals, drawing as many Red Wizards as possible after them into a series of magical traps and ambushes. Agannazar disagreed with this strategy believing that showing such dark mages other worlds to explore, rape the powers of and despoil only allowed them to grow in power and bedevil others. His refusal to flee or hide made him the focus of all Red Wizard assaults and they came for him armed with grim purpose and mighty Art. In the Year of the Disastrous Bauble (1081DR) Agannazar is believed to have gone down fighting in the explosive destruction of the School of Wizadry in Neverwinter. Ere he was torn apart he sent more than a dozen Red Wizards to their dooms including Pharazeen, then the Zulkir of Evocation. Presper and Grimwald departed for other worlds and planes in the Year of the Maelstrom (1101 DR), putting their plan of luring away their foes into action.

With the Four Founders slain or forced to flee, the Covenant disintegrated as many of its members denounced or foreswore their membership. Presper and Grimwald continued to communicate with the few remaining members but over time, the Covenant simply ceased to be. Today, the Covenant is the stuff of legend, however the mage Savengriff has recently returned to the City of Splendors intent upon re-establishing this ultra-secretive cabal of mages. His personal planar explorations brought him into contact with the fugitive founders of the Covenant and Presper and Grimwald tasked him with recruiting like-minded wizards to their cause. His efforts may yet see the Red Wizards of Thay confronted by their age-old enemy in the not too distant future - a conflict which may escalate into the most titanic wizardwar since the ancient days of Netheril and their battles with the sorcerers of Thaeravel.

-- George Krashos

On October 2, 2005 George Krashos said: I created Iliyanbruen to account for references in "Volo's Guide to the North" to the humans of Illusk fighting against elves and the fact that an elven city (Sharandar) existed in the Neverwinter Woods. Due to work on the Fallen Kingdom (Phalorm), Illefarn had been pretty well sorted out historically and we wanted to show a slowish disintegration of this realm rather than a swift demise. That's why the realm fragmented into the minor kingdoms as noted in LEoF. And it was located in the Neverwinter Wood and was comprised of moon and green elves (that later became wood elves).

-- George Krashos

On October 14, 2005 George Krashos said: In my recent FR travels I've also noticed two ancient, lost realms located in the general area you describe here. One is Glandara which is mentioned in the sourcebook "Pages From the Mages" (The Glandar's Grimoire) and the other is Jahorga from the sourcebook "Prayers From the Faithful" (Loviatar's Lash). I'm not sure that they are an exact fit geographically, and may overlap with territory considered to be Jhaamdathi, but as I said before, Jhaamdath's history and territorial holdings are likely a lot more convoluted and 'real life' as opposed to making a blanket statement that the realm existed as an unchanging, united 5.5 millenia entity. But again, that's my opinion. You only have to look at the history given for Calimshan in EotSS to see how history should IMO unfold in the Realms.

-- George Krashos

On November 23, 2005 George Krashos said: I could give you my thoughts re Impiltur, but space doesn't permit. Personally, I'd steer away from real-earth analogues. Impiltur is the way it is because of the lingering, evil legacy of Narfell and the effect the Fiend Wars/Triad Crusade had on its development as the realm it is today. Impiltur is a paradox. Guided by the tenets of the Triad, and embracing all 'goodly' acts, the realm is xenophobic, suspicious of all things 'strange' or 'different' (which may indicate a fiendish taint/possession) and hesitant/fearful to trust or deal with 'outlanders'. There are LOTS of undercurrents in the kingdom. Many fiend cults/cells exist, subverting nobles and commoners alike. There has been huge dynastic upheaval which has meant that Impiltur has unconsciously developed a policy of isolationism in all matters save trade. It is a realm that is threatened internally (demonic subversion, those who oppose essentially theocratic rule) and externally (the ambitions of Thay, the machinations of Soneillon, the threat of the hobgoblin hordes) and so has a martial/warlike attitude and posture - at odds with its underlying belief system founded on the Triadic faiths. Impiltur is a very complex place. Hopefully one day we'll get the vehicle to explore it in greater detail.

-- George Krashos

On December 3, 2005 George Krashos said: Gauntlgrym was not a dwarven kingdom - despite what words R A Salvatore might put into the mouth of Bruenor Battlehammer. It was an underground city built by the dwarves of Delzoun for humans. However, there were many dwarven residents in Gauntlgrym, at least in its first incarnation. Check the Timelines for the "High Forest" and "Old North" in 'Lost Empires of Faerūn' for some dates and further information.

Some of the stuff in my "North Timeline" mentioned by the Old Sage has been re-jigged in LEoF. Use that published source in preference.

-- George Krashos

On December 7, 2005 George Krashos said: He spent some time in the Empires of the Sands in the first centuries of Dalereckoning. Making magic items. For one of the Shoon qysars. Involving demons. Talk to a certain blue dragon about the results.

-- George Krashos

On December 7, 2005 George Krashos said: Nope, not the Staff of Shoon. Halaster was truly up north by the time Shoon VII came along. There are other things in Iryklathagra's hoard other than this item. No, it was an earlier qysar with no magical ability.

Note that this isn't 'official' in the sense that it's been printed in a product. But well might be in the right time and place. For now, forget that I said anything - my loose tongue always did get me into trouble.

-- George Krashos

On December 7, 2005 George Krashos said: Much of the 'cooler' realmslore appearing in 3E has its genesis in 2E material. The good 3E designers have been mining such products for realmslore tidbits and fleshing them out. The bad ones? Well, they've either changed stuff without good reason or just ignored /missed stuff. Shame really, because there are hundreds more little FR hooks waiting to be found and worked into the 3E Realms once again.

Oh, and about Halaster and the Shoon. Don't look for references to "Halaster" in any Shoonite writings or artifacts - they knew him as Hilather. As did the those who built on the ruins of his tower - until they were destroyed in turn by Calishite mages fearful of what they would unearth in the deep cellars beneath. This school wasn't the last to unearth Halaster's workings, but they paid the price also, when unleashed demons did their evil work.

Just how the Shadow Thieves of Amn are tied into all this, is the confusing part - well, confusing with the advent of changes to the Realms that came with 3E. But, we'll get around to fixing that in due course.

Good gaming to you.

-- George Krashos


On September 15, 2005 Tom Costa said: My old Speaking in Tongues article is circa 2E. Sean Reynolds said he started with it when he worked up the 3E language list, but the decision was obviously made to simplify -- which probably was a good decision. Most of the dialect references in my article are probably still fine -- in fact, many of the dropped languages could easily become dialects. All that said, the languages were changed so much, I don't know that I would reference my article for too much. That is to say, it was canon. It clearly ain't now.


On November 9, 2005 Sean K. Reynolds said: First, let me apologize for not being around for months. My life has been hellish since I moved to the east coast and I've been behind on everything... including email and message boards. I've subscribed to this topic and a few other ones about COV/MOTM so I'll be sure to keep up.

Now I know some of you guys have the book in your hands -- I don't yet, I just have the text that Thomas and I turned over, and based on some discussion on my boards it looks like some of the rulesy stuff was changed in development. So keep that in mind before you attack T or I on something you don't like. :)

{A question for those who worked on this tome... Is it going to have good shrines and good nodes, the same way that Champions of Ruin has evil shrines and evil nodes?}


{I was wondering if there would be a Helmite PrC (or other crunchy Helmite goodies)in CoV?}

Substitution levels and feats, yes, prestige classes, no.

{So we really ARE getting Paladin Deity Substitutions for Paladins? }

I'm not sure what you mean by this. If you mean paladin substitution levels for some of the paladin orders, yes.

{Now these Character Options are nifty... It's got this Regional Backgrounds section. Each one has a title, a brief blurb about the background, and then the appropriate Region, Automatic Languages, Bonus Languages, Favored Deities, Regional Feats, and Bonus Equipment.}

Yeah, they're basically new regions (like how Cormyr is a region or the Moonsea is a region), but more thematic, like "raised by good druids" or "bastard child of Azoun." It lets you customize your regional bonuses within your greater region.

{I stopped to read about a couple of the "Agents of Good". These are ready-made NPCs with full write-ups. There's several of them, and it's diverse.}

BTW the characters in that section are all new characters and are intended to be contacts, cohorts, special paladin mounts or animal companions, etc.... they're not the movers & shakers, they're there to be helpers and buddies to your valorous PCs. The focus is on the PCs and what valorous stuff they are doing, not how valorous Elminster & co are this week.

{I still don't know how I feel about the inclusion of Illumians and similar *new* ilk into Realms Resources, but I'm always challenging people here to be open to new rules, so I'll reserve judgment until later.}

Fortunately, that part of the book doesn't officially place those races in FR, it just says "IF you use those races, they're probably around here." That way there's no canon reference, so a later designer doesn't have to include them in a future book on that area, and the fans don't need to scream if that designer fails to mention them.

{But Kelemvor isn't concerned with evil... One of his primary goals is sending undead to their final rest. So it makes sense for a Kelemvorite paladin to swap his anti-evil abilities for anti-undead ones. If you want to be a paladin to fight evil, you pick a member of the Triad. If you want to be a paladin to smite undead, you pick a deity that wants to off all undead: Kelemvor.}

Exactly, WoolyRupert. :)

{And you're right Wooly, but I was comparing the two in assumption that they would fill a role in a campaign where anything can happen. In a particularly undead heavy campaign, the Kelemvorite variant would likely be the more effective. The unfortunate thing is that players will not always have the luxury of an insightful plot synopsis before character creation, so they might not consider a variant that would be much more suitable for that campaign than the original class that tends to be decent in a greater variaty of situations.}

True, but if you're the player and you choose to be a paladin of Kelemvor and choose to take the subst levels for Kelemvor's paladins and your DM fails to throw at least a somewhat higher proportion of undead encounters your way, the DM is failing at his or her job -- in the same way they'd be failing if they didn't provide appopriate favored enemies for ranger characters, put a huge number of fire-immune monsters against the fire-mage PC, never provided any trap obstacles or locked doors for the rogue with maxed-out DD and OL, and so on.

{But let me tell you, Corpsestrike is the most ridiculous ability I've seen in a while. Remember, it lasts one MINUTE PER LEVEL. You can fight undead ALL DAY. And it ignores the DR no matter what it is.}

One minute per level does not equal all day. In fact, given the typical adventure, one minute per level may mean one or two encounters at most.

{But I was really hoping that Thomas and Sean would show Helm some love... He is a key god of the Realms and, until now, he did not get any proper coverage anywhere... I know he is LN, but still, CoV was really a good place to deal with his faith and his followers.}

Except that COV goes out of its way in the beginning to point out that the book is about _valorous_ characters and explains what it means when it uses that term. You're going to have more info in such a book on the LG Tyr than the LN Helm, and also note (IIRC) that there are more paladin orders of Tyr in FR canon than Helmite orders (especially if you discount the Helmite order that's responsible for killing thousands of innocent Mazticans).

{I dunno... Helm is the god of guardians. This book is about being valorous. There's not a lot of valor in being a guard.}

Two for two, WR.

On November 9, 2005 Sean K. Reynolds said: Ahhh. See, when we were working on COV, they gave us an early copy of COR but it wasn't finished yet, and I'm not sure it mentioned nodes at that point (and I don't think they gave us the outline for COR as a reference, but I lost many of my files in my September computer crash so I can't verify that). In any case, the Valor outline didn't mention nodes, just places of magical power keyed to good.

So I can see why people would expect Z after being presented X and Y, unfortunately (for those people) that's not what they told us to do (not sure why).

On November 10, 2005 Sean K. Reynolds said: I can't really answer that until I have a final copy of the book, because what I wrote for those two issues apparently isn't what's in the final version of the book.

I _can_ tell you that a paladin's undead-turning ability is weak*, and it only becomes a strong ability when the paladin takes one of the (unfortunately too many and too strong) feats that let you swap out a turn attempt for something else, like extra damage. It's a case where Pal turn undead is a 5/10 ability, the ability I proposed is also about a 5/10, but because there's an add-on to turning that's too good (about a 9/10) the swap doesn't seem fair. The problem is the add-on feats, not the subst level swap.

* Actually, turning for clerics is weak, too, which means it's even worse for paladins. Proof?

It starts off a good ability and gets worse as the undead you face get stronger, eventually becoming almost useless because you actually can't roll high enough to turn them at all. As the paladin's turning is even weaker than the cleric's, he's even worse off. The only reason turning is still really useful in the game is that there are a ton of feats that let you swap out your many many turning attempts for other special abilities, turning something you don't or can't use on most days into something you can use all the time. It's like the Thousand Faces ability of the druid... pretty boring and weak, but if there was a feat that was easy to get and let you shoot death rays out of your eyes with that ability, suddenly people would be all over TF and would think it was powerful.

I can also tell you that the ranger animal companion is also a weak ability. As it functions as a druid of 1/2 the ranger's level, a Rgr10 is the equivalent of a Drd5, and a Drd5 is only good for a base animal with +2 HD or a slightly better animal like an ape (4 HD), cheetah (3 HD), or wolverine (3 HD); they don't yet qualify for brown bears (6 HD), dire apes (5 HD), Huge vipers (6 HD), etc. By comparison, a typical Rgr10 with the Leadership feat qualifies automatically for a 7th-level cohort (or even just a 5th-level if he's unfairly punished with the book's -2 penalty for having a (weak) animal companion instead of the full druid's animal companion). OR he could have a blink dog, pegasus, satyr, or hell hound instead of a 7th-level cohort.

So if given the choice of keeping their class-based animal companion or getting a free Leadership feat, the Leadership feat is almost always a better option (especially if the Rgr has a high Cha and can qualify for an even better creature). And as Leadership is a feat, that means it's a fair swap for any feat with similar prereqs (it's only prereq is "must be 6th+ level", so any no-prereq feat is fair game), and the Extra Spell feat from Tome & Blood gets you a bonus spell (albeit at a lower level than your max spell level), so you still come out ahead compared to having your animal companion because this swapped Rgr ability gets you a spell of your highest spell level.

Of course, that's only the argument for what I wrote, not for what appears in the book.

On November 10, 2005 Sean K. Reynolds said: They wanted us to include a couple of psionic feats, and as the only "psionic" PC race in the FRCS is the duergar, I centered the psi feats around them. Duegar can be valorous, too -- in fact, anyone can be valorous, even if they're evil.

On November 11, 2005 Sean K. Reynolds said: The Daylight Adaptation things is my fault; I was going off the text version of the book, not the errata'd version, and didn't know they turned into a regular feat (which is a good thing, there's no reason it should be limited to 1st-level characters... then again, most feats shouldn't be limited to 1st-level characters).

As for the blink dog question, if you're asking how the blink dogs could _acquire_ 100gp, they just need to attack bandits and orcs and such. If you're asking how they could carry it, you've obviously never had a smart dog. :)

On November 11, Sean K. Reynolds said: 1) Blink dogs are as intelligent as your average human, so we're talking miles ahead of the typical dog.

2) I hear they have these things called "bags" or even "belt pouches" that humanoids use to carry their wealth.

1 + 2 = 3) Thus, a blink dog would know that it could pick up another creature's bag of loot in its mouth and take it wherever it needed to.

On November 19, 2005 Sean K. Reynolds said: {Why didnt you expand on the Psionic organisations like Kaliesh'erai or Stray thoughts describe in PGTF instead of the Duegar? They would be considered to be more Valorous than the Grey Dwarves}

Because elves already get all the good stuff, and because I consider the entire population of duergar to be more important than the 40-odd people in the Stray Thoughts.

{On an initial skim through I'm wondering why anyone in their right mind would cast sanctified spells. Am I missing something here re the costs of these spells? Is the attribute loss temporary? If so, they are fine, if not, then no-one would cast them if they were going to permanently lose STR or CON. Look at "Animate with Spirit" - sure, it gives you a powerful ally, but after 10 minutes/level have passed you've just blown 1d3 STR points for a couple of encounters in game time. I'm sure I'm missing something here.}

The spells say if it's ability damage (temporary) or drain (permanent), and you can always use spells like restoration to remove the drain or damage later.

(And in the case of the animate with the spirit spell, those wacky developers went to town on it. My original writeup has it based on lesser planar ally, but one level lower because of the sanctified sacrifice of 1d3 Strength damage, whereas the printed version is the same level as LPA but has a much shorter duration and has it 1d3 Strength _drain_. In other words, why not just cast LPA? Sheesh, why do I bother to design these things if they're just going to completely redo them. Maybe next time instead of 5,000 words on various game mechanics I'll just include a list of ideas and let them develop them as they see fit, less work for me.)

On December 1, 2005 Sean K. Reynolds said: {Dancing Feint: genius.}

A-thank you. :)

{Also, does the DK gets the Perform (Dance) class skill just on the levels where he substitutes regular FTR levels? if so, I'll remember to pump the intelligence on my next female drow NPC! :)}

I believe the variant class skills only apply to the actual substitution levels, not the entire level range of the class, so you'd have to buy them at crossclass cost for fighter levels that weren't DK levels.

{Finally, I just can't let it go... I must find a way to give the Dancing Feint ability to Bladesingers (I use the CW version) without unbalancing the class. Do you think it could be added "free of charge" or do you recommend a drawback?}

I haven't looked at the CW version (it's perhaps the most-revised official PrC) and I just woke up, but sure, why not, you have to give those weak and enemic elves _something_ to explain how they've managed to survive all these years. ;)

On December 7, 2005 Sean K. Reynolds said: FYI (and mind you, I almost never read these boards, I've just been up all night with insomnia, so if you reply here I probably won't see it)....

The NPCs in COV were specifically designed to be cohorts, contacts, allies, and/or special animal companions/special paladin mounts for the PCs. Not mentors, not bosses, not masters. That's what we were told to do, so we did it. If you don't like them at the level they are, feel free to level them up, but the book is about PCs being the stars and with that in mind it's a waste of space to do game stats for the epic goodies-goodies because you never need to use them in-game to the extent that you need to know exactly what they can do compared to your much-lower-level PCs. Or, as I put it on my boards, "If you have a character that can do anything, do you really need to know exactly how much of everything they can do?" Unless you're sitting at home alone running a game for the Srinshee where she takes on the latest avatar of Bane, you don't need the Srinshee's stats except for the "LOLZ she totally ROXORZ!" factor ... and that means those pages should be put to use for something that'll be used in an actual game, not a self-indulgent yet pointless test of whether NPC X could beat NPC Y in a fight.


On November 22, 2005 Wil Upchurch said: Here's another little bonus. Here are the first generation stone giant blacktooth dire weretigers. (whew!) Sorry they're in the old stat block format, I'm not converting them. :) These were meant to be outside Deg Shanat, but for space reasons they were cut in favor of the already-statted rangers.

Creatures: First generation stone giant blacktooth dire weretiger (2): (giant form): CR 16; Large Giant (Shapechanger); HD 14d8+56+16d8+112; hp 303; Init +2; Spd 40 ft.; AC 33, touch 11, flat-footed 31; Base Atk +22; Grp +34; Atk +29 melee (2d8+12, greatclub) or +29 melee (1d4+8, slam) or +23 ranged (2d8+12, rock); Full Atk +29/+24/+19/+14 melee (2d8+12, greatclub) or +29 melee (1d4+8, 2 slams) or +23 ranged (2d8+12, rock); SA rock throwing; SQ alternate form, darkvision 60 ft., fast healing 5, low-light vision, rock catching, scent, SR 40, tiger empathy; AL CE; SV Fort +23, Ref +16, Will +16; Str 27, Dex 15, Con 19, Int 10, Wis 10, Cha 11.

Skills: Climb +16, Hide +9, Jump +16, Listen +16, Move Silently +10, Spot +20, Swim +11.

Feats: Alertness, Combat Reflexes, Improved Natural Attack (bite), Improved Natural Attack (claw), Iron Will, Point Blank Shot, Power Attack, Precise Shot, Run, Stealthy, Weapon Focus (claw).

Languages: Giant.

Possessions: greatclub, hide armor, 14 throwing rocks, giant's sack (8 random mundane items, 2 random minor magic items, and 138 pp).

Stone giant blacktooth dire weretiger, hybrid form: CR 16; Large Giant (Shapechanger); HD 14d8+56+16d8+112; hp 303; Init +4; Spd 50 ft.; AC 35, touch 13, flat-footed 31; Base Atk +22; Grp +42; Atk +38 melee (2d4+16, claw) or +37 melee (2d8+24, greatclub) or +25 ranged (2d8+24, rock); Full Atk +38 melee (2d4+16, 2 claws) and +32 melee (2d6+8, bite) or +37/+32/+27/+22 melee (2d8+24, greatclub) and +32 melee (2d6+8, bite) or +25 ranged (2d8+24, rock); SA rock throwing; SQ alternate form, damage reduction 10/magic and silver, darkvision 60 ft., fast healing 5, low-light vision, rock catching, scent, SR 40, tiger empathy; AL CE; SV Fort +26, Ref +18, Will +16; Str 43, Dex 19, Con 25, Int 10, Wis 10, Cha 11.

Skills: Climb +24, Hide +11, Jump +24, Listen +16, Move Silently +12, Spot +20, Swim +19.

Stone giant blacktooth dire weretiger, dire tiger form: CR 16; Large Giant (Shapechanger); HD 14d8+56+16d8+112; hp 303; Init +4; Spd 50 ft.; AC 30, touch 13, flat-footed 26; Base Atk +22; Grp +42; Atk +38 melee (2d4+16, claw); Full Atk +38 melee (2d4+16, 2 claws) and +32 (2d6+8, bite); SA Improved grab, pounce, rake 2d4+8; SQ alternate form, damage reduction 10/magic and silver, darkvision 60 ft., fast healing 5, low-light vision, scent, SR 40, tiger empathy; AL CE; SV Fort +26, Ref +18, Will +16; Str 43, Dex 19, Con 25, Int 10, Wis 10, Cha 11.

Skills: Climb +24, Hide +11, Jump +24, Listen +16, Move Silently +12, Spot +20, Swim +19.

Improved Grab (Ex): To use this ability, the dire tiger must hit with its bite attack. It can then attempt to start a grapple as a free action without provoking an attack of opportunity. If it wins the grapple check, it establishes a hold and can rake.

Pounce (Ex): If a dire tiger charges, it can make a full attack, including two rake attacks.

Rake (Ex): Attack bonus +36 melee, damage 2d4+8.

Tactics: The stone giants stay in hybrid form at all times now, enjoying the form's strength and savagery. They stay on the hilltop looking south, throwing boulders at anyone they spot coming up the road as soon as they get within 360 feet. Should they lose sight of their prey, they will search the area for an hour before going back up to their perch. The stone giants never go inside Deg Shanat, even if they hear or see signs of combat.


On November 30, 2005 Thomas Reid said: No, the KotN are a prominent org in their own right. As George mentioned, they have been written up a few times already (as far back as the 1E Gray Box), but I went right to Ed and scooped a bit more for CoV.

Nope. No subst. levels this time around.



On December 5, 2005 Sam Brown said: Hallo folks. Sam here. Thanks for the invite, KEjr.

As I'm chiming in from a week behind the start of this thread, forgive me for doing a Q&A style catch-up on the thread so far.

Q. Sequel?

A. I haven't spoken with Dungeon about it. A proposal for one will probably be in my next batch.

Q. What's a Baron doing in Featherdale?

A. The shortest answer is that I started writing the story before pinning down exactly which Dale it was in, and the idea of a low noble of good character was already entrenched in my thinking by the time that Featherdale dropped by and explained that it was the Dale where this story had to take place and would I notice it already please? I didn't notice the conflict at first in re-reading over the various other details of Featherdale, but when I did, I didn't feel bad about it. Huh? Let me try to explain why.

My read on Featherdale as a democracy is that it's a democracy to the same degree as ancient Greece was. That's to say that most people are self sufficient, and as such, democracy sits well there. I buy into the theory that suggests that democracy tends to arise where power is naturally spread, like pastoral Greece, where there wasn't a way to exert power over the average citizen-shepherd. Tyranny is more natural in places where there is single vital resource that has to be regulated to function, such as ancient Egypt and her irrigation network that spread water beyond the flood plain. The Forgotten Realms are not Eberron: Magic may be common, but the fabric of daily life for the average community has more in common with our own world's early cultures than one where magical signaling towers deliver messages faster than the Pony Express and the Lightning Rail carries world-weary travelers faster than any train prior to the last century of our own world. Without these mechanisms to homogenize cultures, things tend to end up more messy, and local exceptions arise in the face of regional trends.

The short conclusion to that drawn out paragraph is that I felt ok with putting a low noble in a democracy because even Greece had its tyrants. I read the people of Featherdale as pragmatic, hardworking souls who would accept governance from a noble so long as it was good rather than staging a revolution just to have the same council of elders as the cities around them. The Dales are a jumbled federation, and my read on them is that there are a few minor nobles scattered throughout Featherdale the same way as there are a handful of council-run communities in Daggerdale or Battledale, even though their one-word government description is "Lordship".

That's not to say that it couldn't have been done differently. The story might have worked out better with Wildhurst as a wealthy and respected elder rather than low nobility, and if that notion appeals to you, as always, I encourage you to make it your own and tell it that way. I still question making the elder of Thistle a 'squire' which, while not a noble title, is one with a place in a feudal hierarchy. For those of you bothered by the references to crowns and thrones, I wasn't quite happy with how that turned out myself, but decided to stick with the best-known references to feudal authority rather than go out of the way to specifically note the reduced symbols available to a low noble. In particular, I was trying to trim Wildhurst's drunken speech, which to this day is longer than I like. If you read this as implying that there was a larger feudal structure in place, I don't blame you, but it wasn't my intent.

At this point, you might be wondering "Why not make it Not Featherdale? Why not just set the adventure in Daggerdale?" Featherdale really jumped out at me as the place to set the adventure because I wanted a quiet locale where nothing ever happened. Sure, Featherdale has been invaded a handful of times, and it's had its share of meddling from the Red Wizards, but next to the other Dales that starts to sound like background noise. I wanted the most peaceful, well run location I could to set the story, so that the mystery revealed in the course of the story would be more strikingly out of place. Yuan-ti? What? Here? For how long? If a place seems peaceful and well run, it may only be that the local illuminated powers are more efficient than the ones next door. The Dales are a frontier of yuan-ti expansion, and had the atmosphere that I was looking for. Also, the Dalelands are oft-travelled by elves. The slender, angular features of yuan-ti purebloods blend in more easily in communities rich in half elves and those with smaller traces of elven blood. I want DMs who continue that plot thread to have that tool at their disposal.

Q. The names are wrong for the region!

A. Mea culpa. Are you volunteering to fact check those for future submissions? ;)

On December 6, 2005 Sam Brown said: The Baron was looking for information on who his benefactors are, and the clues he has are incomplete. The book on the altar was set to a Decipher Script DC of 30 specifically to keep all but the most unlikely min-maxed 1st level party from being able to glean the most important clues from the book without seeking assistance. (An elven wizard with Int 20, 4 ranks of Decipher Script, and Skill Focus(Decipher Script) can do it, and if one of your players actually took that character build, it would be criminal to not let him have this chance to shine.) The idea here is that the next step is to get the book deciphered by someone outside the party, which is the hook to keep the party involved if you want to, and one of the opportunities for the antagonists to start to sniff out the party.

So: The Baron's next action related to this plot thread is to locate someone who can get more than crude clues out of the book and have the book delivered to them. If the Baron manages to get a hold of an adequate and accurate translation of the book, he realizes that the conspiracy isn't one he can just ignore, nor one that he can conscience joining in truth, and takes the path of least resistance: He joins in name, but considers himself a double agent. The House has loyalty tests at each level of involvement, and as he is now deeper into their workings, he will be facing them again. Without intervention, this time he will fail.

To me, the more interesting question is how to get the party to internalize an emnity with the yuan-ti so that future episodes don't need Wildhurst acting as motivator. Some thoughts on that in a bit.

The yuan-ti agent who maintained the depot went missing, without the other Builders of The House (i.e. the other true yuan-ti members) being able to find out what befell him. The depot was (intended to be) destroyed after a cursory pillaging to bury the secrets of the presumed deceased member in the event that whatever finished him off tracked him back to his lair and discovered more there. One of the downsides of being a loose-knit, hyper-secretive conspiracy is that you aren't as likely to be on hand to witness what fells your fellow conspirators, and can't afford to assume that it was just plague, or bandits, or wild beasts. Away from the yuan-ti elders, the fledgling agents of The House didn't yet have in their membership anyone with the abilities to perform the divinations necessary to set their minds at ease, and assumed the worst to be on the safe side. This setback is one of the reasons The House's plans have taken as long to come to fruition as they have.

What actually felled the lost Pureblood? Arrogance. He attempted to negotiate the services of a band of gnollish raiders personally, and overestimated his own magnetism. Addressing the leader of the band as Rhuar'gnahh (literally: "Mouthfull") he discovered quickly and painfully that this term of endearment in gnollish culture is used only between mother and cub, never between adult males.

Now if you'll permit me to ramble a bit on how to develop the plotline from there, while reducing dependence on the Baron...

We don't want the party to be pursuing this mystery because it matters to someone else, we want it to matter to them. If it's me running this story line, at the conclusion of the adventure this plot goes out of the limelight for a bit and an unrelated module gets run. Perhaps someone else in need of adventurers hears of the rescue of Thistle and makes their suit to the PCs.

There's method to this madness. If we focus all of our story arc build-up on one plotline, it's hard to keep the pace of handing out clues satisfying to the players without giving out too much too soon. Weaving between this plot thread and another not only stretches out the period of clue-giving, it means the campaign doesn't end when this plot comes to a conclusion. For clues to keep the party wondering and worrying while on other missions, here are some scenes I'd work into other adventures in a campaign:

- One of the party members, while visiting home, finds that his good-for-nothing cousin has become the provider for the household. Revelations as to the rake's sudden employability can come sooner, when the PC sees Circlet insignia on the cousin, or later, when they encounter each other on opposite sides of a fight.

- The insignia of The House starts to appear on coinage and in family crests around the Dales. Most of the perpetrators are clueless, bottom rung members of the secret society, and can provide no clues, knowing at most that they are involved with a powerful secret organization that will enrich them with it when it rises to power. The spread of such symbols is The House's first moves at associating its own symbols with popular authority in the public mind. In particular, the symbol is associated with a growing body of powerful merchants, influential thugs, and self-proclaimed gentry. The House's motivations for creating such a power structure are twofold: First, it displays the rewards given to those who join them in a way that creates a sense of rising power and brings converts into the fold. Second, it's easier to steer a power structure made up of a few mighty power wielders than to try to steer the votes of an council or senate, as rule in the majority of the Dales.

- One PCs' sisters receives a marriage proposal from a suitor whose star has been rising rapidly. The PC is present for a conversation where the sister expresses her concerns about the character of the suitor, while an elder relative tries to convince her to accept the proposal, because he carries the symbol of The House in his crest, and "everyone knows" that the people associated with that symbol are the most important people in the Dales and rising in importance rapidly. The relative cites several cases of recent celebrities who carry the same symbol, and their rapid rise to power and respect.

- The party, in the course of their travels, is hosted by a senior member of The House. Before they (and their host) realize who they (each) are dealing with, the party gets the chance to see that their host's wealth is swollen by plentiful if listless servants, and his extensive farmlands contain fields of exotic plants that seem to grow no fruit. The agents of The House enjoy the benefits of having large stables of drugged slaves, and the more senior house members grow the very drugs that keep their and other house member's slaves docile.

- The party has several near-miss encounters with agents of The House asking after them. Innkeepers mention offhand that someone was by, asking about them. If they ignore these warnings by not being more secretive, they soon find themselves ambushed by a group of skilled rogues with all the advantage of advanced preparation, and a yuan-ti pureblood agent of The House watching from the shadows, ready to slip off never-noticed if the combat goes badly. If combat fails and the party still refuses to travel in secret, they may next find themselves drugged along with every other patron of the inn where they stay, as an agent of the yuan-ti has slipped into the kitchen and dosed the entire pot of evening stew. Perhaps one party member escapes to make a stand or slink after her fallen comrades; a scholar away from the group comes downstairs to find thugs carrying out her slumbering comrades, or the vegetarian elf notes the inn's patrons, her companions included, crashing unconscious around her as she is mysteriously unaffected, or the fighter type actually makes his fortitude saves and remains standing, if swaying.

Either way, this should be a hard encounter. (CR of party level+3 or higher.) The notion here is that a) it's fair to throw a hard encounter at the party if they've already ignored repeated warnings given to them. b) villains stop being scary if they not only don't win, but don't ever even get a leg-up on the protagonists. c) if the party loses, as they're likely to do, it's an opportunity for the players to feel the impact of their own heroism. They should be set free by someone in their debt from their prior adventures. Now mature DMs know that there's nothing more annoying to the PCs than to be helpless by DM fiat and to have the more-powerful NPCs rescue them in an entirely scripted fashion. It's another thing entirely if the players really feel like they earned the salvation, that they had a chance, however slim, at not being captured. You can have a mighty NPC and her retinue free the PCs by force, but to my way of thinking, it's more effective to have the PCs freed by the little guy. The PCs' captors might be able to fight off anyone weak enough to be in debt to the party, but their guard drops from time to time too.

The scene I have in mind is one where the caravan holding the captured PCs stops in a town where the party had a positive impact on the lives of others. The chained, drugged PCs are pained by a blinding flash of sunlight as the wind blows the covers back from their cages as the carts roll into town, and in that moment, they are seen by one of the town urchins, who decides to act out of his own gratitude and bravery, or carries the message to another villager indebted enough to the party to do so. That night, while their captors slumber, the party is painstakingly filed out of their bonds, and lead on a stumbing escape to a farmhouse on the outskirts of town. There they are delivered to one of the city's aging grandmothers, who brews strong purgative teas for them. The party spends the next day struggling back out of a dreamlike state as they puke up the drugs that kept their fighters weak and their spellcasters too muddled to channel their magic. From there the party gets to make the decision of whether to stay long enough to regain their full strength and risk exposing those who saved them to retribution, or flee the scene as quickly as possible to regather themselves elsewhere. (Depending on the party's level, priestly magic may make this decision moot.)

A few points about how I would envision running such a scene: Keep it quick; a montage of sensations muddled together in a dream like state with only moments of lucidity. You want to the players to take home the message that the enemies they have made are real, and dire, but you want to be very careful not to linger on the party's helplessness as this is likely to frustrate the players to no good end, and void the fun of the game. I'd aim to have the entire scene from the party's unconsciousness to their recovery from the drugging told in 5 minutes, in my best descriptive style to have the players wondering at what was going on around them and hanging on for any clue rather than being frustrated at the actions they can't take.

It's also important to have the party's gear rescued with them. (It's stored in a steamer trunk in the same compartment they are.) Gear is a big part of the power of any D&D character, and depriving them of it mostly forces them to immediately return to confront their captors. If you give them their gear back immediately, you have leisure to let the character of their captor ferment in their minds. Few things are as precious of a storytelling tool as an antagonist who has a history of beating the characters. When the players finally get to deliver their return stroke, it's all the more satisfying. You did remember to give their captor a distinguishing feature for the party to recognize him by, and a tactical gimmick for the party to have figured out how to foil by the next time their paths crossed, right?


The dramatic thrust of these scenes is to establish The House as a power that is coming out of hiding, and drawing respect from people who would be horrified if they knew its true nature. As with any good conspiracy plotline, there are layers to the mystery. Those who seem to benefit most from The House and steer it are not yuan-ti but their most indoctrinated servants in the Dale communities. The yuan-ti keep to the shadows, acting as advisors, messengers, fixers, mercenary captains, and any of the other masks of "the power behind the throne" for their agents. The end goal is to create a region of the Dales ruled by The House large enough to be defensible from outside powers, whose leaders are all puppets and worshippers of their scaly masters, providing wealth, pampering, and a stepping stone to further conquests.

Only a handful of the top ranking agents of The House would recognize a yuan-ti if they saw one, while those being groomed and examined for possible promotion are tested for their reaction to indoctrination suggesting that all of their wealth and prosperity is a gift from the serpentine ones and that the proper response is secret worship and servitude. The power structure of The House is largely managed and cultivated by those who will not be on top in the final scheme.

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