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 - 2006

Various FR Game Designers

On January 8, 2006 Steven Schend said: Funny--I would say Khelben is arrogant.

And The Sage wins the poorly-stuffed Otyugh doll!

Remember that this is a guy who's personally very committed to the Harpers and its cause--his parents were among the Harpers in Twilight and it's partially a need to see their works continue. He's also helped refound the order at least twice. The fact that he seems to be working at odds with the Harpers should

A) tell you something about how he feels about the current Harper leadership;
B) tell you that he may be manipulating them into reacting in particular ways to get them into positions they might not normally take (even without realizing that Khelben's manipulating them); and
C) reveal that a 910-year-old wizard has many irons in the fire at once and if he stopped to explain himself, it might upset 8 other plans and intrigues he has going at once.

And despite all that above, it doesn't tell you anything more about what's to come in BLACKSTAFF, as the Harper Schism doesn't play a role in the story, save as background detail of a minor sort.

who has to better learn how to keep his mouth shut like Eddie...

On January 9, 2006 Steven Schend said: Y'all have to bear in mind one simple thing--Khelben may have an alignment by D&D rules, but it's not what I keep in mind when writing him. He's Khelben, and he's a whole complicated ball of issues and motivations, not just two little letters to define his morality and ethics. Yes, he's lawful, and yes, he's more middle-of-the-road than Elminster, but don't doubt that he's a good man with a hard row to hoe.

The assumption that Khelben's straying from his moral center because he works with "evil beings" is not quite right. His morals and ethics are what drive him to work with them--he's not afraid, like Piergeiron or even Malchor Harpell, to get his hands dirty and to play both sides against each other to achieve his goals. And no, that's not betraying his lawful nature either--he's just not playing with mortal laws, being 900 years old (and thus older than most laws in place currently) and hardwired to a goddess (who sets her and his moral compass in many ways).

That said, my frustration with the alignment system comes down to this: Evil (or good, for that matter) is many, many things that can't be quantified but it makes many biases when oversimplified (like in D&D). Evil, to some, is the cheap bastard who swipes some tips off the table; to others, he's someone who runs from a fight rather than help defend his friends. I could go on and on, but here's my benchmark: If you think of yourself first and foremost over the the welfare of others, that's the hallmark of evil ("me first in all things"). Thus, LE could simply mean someone is law-abiding or at least in possession of a code of ethics, but he's out for himself first and foremost.

I've got an entirely different take on some characters than most because I refuse to take the alignments as holy gospel and let them limit me in seeing a whole character. Sure, I understand what the system is there for, and I can work with it and around it, but it gets frustrating when discussing characters with people and they lock onto alignments only. It's a limitation of the game system, and it shouldn't prevent us from telling the best stories we can.

Boy, this is a long way around the bend just to say the vampires with whom Khelben works in the Silverstars are not the moustache-twirling, baby-eating, serial-killing monsters one might think. They're both actually quite cultured, polite, erudite, and sane people who have a different dietary need and an aversion to sunlight. No, they're not nice people by a long stretch, but you can work with them. (Just like so many of us go to work each day in Cubeland and put up with those we'd rather not but can for the sake of a cause or paycheck.).

Steven the Longwinded Insomniac

And no, my flippant comment at the end of my post was neither a shot at middle managers as vampires nor should it negate anyone's opinion about the evils of corporate America.

Feel free to disagree with me on this and many topics; I'm enjoying the heck out of this thread as so many of you are very much in synch with how I'm seeing Khelben's gambit with the tel'Teukiira play out. Not that I'm not open to new ways of looking at it all, but I've got a few ideas that I've not even hinted at in print that'll remain in my back pocket until I get the green light to do a trilogy on the tel'Teukiira (unrequested and unlikely for many years yet).

And re: Laeral and Khelben's roles with each other, HE is the only Chosen to put it all on the line to save her from the Crown of Horns. She keeps him from teetering over the edge because he leapt over the edge to drag her (and himself) back when she fell over it herself. One point I do make with the novel and these characters is this: For all their political, social, and magical power, the strongest thing they share is their love. (Yes, I'm a romantic. Sue me.)

Okay. Time for me to shower and get to the day job. See you insomniacs later.

I can never remember the vampire's first name, but by Calishite nomenclature, Manshaka is simply the place he calls home.

And yes, he's not the only deep-cover Harper agent who worked directly for Khelben over the long years. There's one who gets a brief scene in BLACKSTAFF, along with her lover, and they've both long been considered villains in the game world. I see them as victims of circumstance, magic, and moral weakness who're striving toward the light in their own ways. Doesn't excuse what they've done, but knowing that she's worked with Khelben for more than 90 years despite the past 30 years or so as a rogue agent may change how you look at the lovely [NDA Police finally break down the door to Steven's office and drag him off in leather straps and straight-jacket....]

On January 13, 2006 Steven Schend said: Still haven't had time to scare up or create names for Shoonite nobles, alas. Perhaps toward the end of the month...

As for the baroness... the only one I could find/remember was:

Hints & History: The Baroness Tanistan is High Watcher Laxaella Bronshield (LG hef P8#151;Helm), who still mourns the loss of her elven husband Rysodyl Boughstrong at the hands of the Goblin King Ertyk Uhl. She buries herself in her duties, protecting the south and maintaining the garrisons.

There is some overlap/intended confusion in that the Tanistan lands were once part of the county of Correlath:

Praskallest is the surviving manor house and estate of the former Count of Correlath. Now it is a staging area and primary garrison for the southern armies, and also the official keep of the baroness. It is located west of Five Spears Hold, between the hold and Mount Noblesse in Tethyr.

As for the unknown/unstated baron/baroness of Carrelath: It's a dwarf, as always. "Since the days of Shanatar, this area has been ruled by a shield dwarf warrior or priest, regardless of its overlord."

So if, for some reason, you want the leader to definitely be a woman, she's a dwarf. Perhaps she's even been blessed with thunder twins and sorcerers at that, as they might by now be ready to help defend those territories.

If I've bungled up some reference, it's my bad, but this is all the info I can scrapple up for now.

Take care, Arivia et al.

On January 15, 2006 Steven Schend said: I'm going to have to guess here, as I don't have a copy of SOFS on hand at present. If the path allows shapeshifters the full abilities and powers of the form they adopt, it's possible that this could occur. However, as a GM, I'd posit that you only gain the collective memory for a limited time (DC 30 save/check to retain 100%, lose 10% for each number off from this check; max retention in days equal to your Wis or Con, whichever is lower) and absolutely lose all that knowledge once you drop the aboleth shape.

That answer the question?

And thanks, by the by, for picking up Sea of Fallen Stars, my one design contribution for the Realms that was 85% new design, not just reweaving older content and making it consistent. Glad you're enjoying it.

On January 15, 2006 Steven Schend said:


Just as Khelben's close to the vest with many a secret, the Twisted Rune members (aside from Kartak and Priamon, "the younglings among us") have never been those who crow about their achievements. It tends to run counter to their main focus--being so secretive and behind the scenes so as to be left alone to their researches and works.

Khelben has spent some time looking into it and is satisfied that those among the Shadow Thieves behind Zelphar's death had justice meted out to them.

Of course, it might be in Mystra's interests to keep Khelben from finding out the final truth re: the Rune's link to Z's death. After all, if he DID know they were involved, his focus would be pulled away from other works she needs him to do more and he'd be spending more time down south kicking bones and taking names. Lastly, Mystra's playing a longer game than Khelben plays and she seems to have a use for the Rune in some ways. What those are, are open to speculation.

On January 16, 2006 Steven Schend said: Foxhelm's answer is a good one, at least from an official standpoint, Astegrion.

As their original intent was to strengthen their power and bloodlines, I'd have gone the opposite way with them and allowed the Dlardrageths (at least the three cambions I put in Hellgate Keep) a lifespan more than twice the gold elf standard, due to the immortal nature of most fiends. Now, granted, the fey'ri are lesser than direct descendants of extraplanar parents, so the above works. Even so, aside from some resistances and wings (to which I'm bothered by EVERYONE having them), seems the demon/elf tradeoff wasn't as good as they'd hoped.

All that said, I'd direct you to ask more of Eric Boyd or Rich Baker, as they're more the fey'ri expert than I am. All I can do (as I did above) was give you comments on what I'd intended/planned when I started. As it was, someone took the ball and ran in different ways with it than I would have.

'tis all good. I just wonder why some holy/clerical groups of elves haven't specifically made it their charge to rid the world of the fey'ri--including turning abilities that affect the half-breeds.

On January 18, 2006 Steven Schend said: Only the Tower itself flew away. The remainder of the rest fell to ruin during the Fall or afterward.

Note that the destruction of the extradimensional spaces and rooms and whatnot is unlikely--only their easiest and known physical access points.

Thus, if you know exactly how things were set up in days of yore, you could have the possible chance of accessing those hidden rooms and the treasures within them.

And yes, I was being purposefully vague (as well as rushed on that deadline in time and cramped for space in words).


On January 18, 2006 Steven Schend said: Short answer: "Because they are miracles and answered prayers to the gods."

In other words, if the cleric / caster has to answer to a hierarchy and/or deity, there's controls on it, and said church can be called upon to censure or smack down anyone who's getting a little spell-happy within Amnian lands (highly personal judgement call for GMs and NPCs alike)

Longer answers can't be done on my lunch hour now, alas. Still, good question and one to discuss further.


On January 28, 2006 Steven Schend said: I was of the mind that the Arn Rock was always an overwarm to hot island volcano that, while its only on-the-record eruption was noted during the Threat from the Sea storyline, was uninhabitable by all save perhaps those who thrive in volcanic gases and heat and the like. I would be loathe to put in a whole civilization and/or race there during any time already recorded into history, simply because their presence would have thrown off the balances of powers among the beholders, the genies, the humans, etc.

That said, if you want it inhabitable et al during the Age of Dragons, why not? You could even make it such that that area was much higher and the sea/bay was only a few rivers leading to the Shining Sea. Then something huge happened that sparked a huge Krakatoa like eruption that caused the whole area to explode and sink and the sea comes rushing in to fill the void....

Whose mind already linked it to one possibility like the High Magic wave that scoured out Jhaamdath, but he doesn't want to repeat the same trick each time.... but if it were part and parcel of the Crown Wars and perhaps one of the most heinous things done before the Illythiiri went dhaerow......

On February 9, 2006 Steven Schend said: There's as much or more info on the Twisted Rune in LANDS OF INTRIGUE, which is a free WotC download IIRC. (Bear in mind that the Runelords mentioned in LOI have more to do with Tethyr and the group as a whole, and those mentioned in EoSS have more to do with Calimshan et al.) That source also has good cross-over historical info that ties into Calimshan quite heavily, so it might be of use to you.

On djinni in Calimshan--they're about as liked as witches were in 17th century Salem. Genies are considered a WMD down Calimshan-way, as they've no wish to even give the tiniest potential toehold to the genies who might try and free Calim or Memnon to give rise to their power again. Thus, even djinni bottles or rings are scarce and frowned upon at best.

And the Calim Desert is more dangerous than Anauroch only because it has the potential to be sentient and rather ticked-off at times. I'll leave you with that snippet and let you read up on your own. Hope you enjoy the trip among the southlands....


On February 13th, 2006 Steven Schend said: I picture him with an entirely unique familiar AND an "animal companion" of sorts. Since the familiar, by nature, is smaller, I'd probably make it handle things he can't at all times, so it's a flier with night vision and a way to communicate with him that cannot be intercepted by others.

His animal companion I'm imagining as a sort of massive metallic boa constrictor/massive version of the Alien Head-Sucker that wraps around his torso and protects his torso and/or limbs from grievous harm...and lies in wait as an especially nasty and unexpected attack that he unleashes like a whip (and successful strikes either create a smaller version that tries to suffocate or crush your head or it simply latches onto the target and crushes the life out of you).

How's that for nasty? May not work as you requests, as I've not read the referenced article but had a little do with the creation of the Metal Mage.....

On February 16th, 2006 Steven Schend said: Just my opinion, now, but I'd say two things about Sememmon within this context:

a) Sememmon has never been a devout worshiper of Anything beyond power. b) Were he to still ascribe to any sort of faith, he'd only put his faith behind a god older than him. As he neither trusts nor has reason to embrace the young Mystra or the new Bane, I think he'd throw in with Azuth and twist it to worshiping his own skills of wizardry. (If you want to get really odd, have him "go native/elf" with Ashemmi and both start worshiping Fenmaril Mestarine to be wild cards.....)

Who knows that Sememmon's dad makes his son look like a piker in terms of self-centeredness and mindless lust for power (whereas Sememmon's always had a mindful lust for power)

On March 23th, 2006 Steven schend said: One thing for certain about the Vyshaan (in my mind and opinion): They're as close to a cursed bloodline as I'd care to write about, given just how many of them became totally power-mad etc. Think of them as being alcoholics with magic and power--one taste is never enough, they can't stop themselves, and there may actually be some actual curses laid upon that bloodline because of all the strife they cause all elvenkind.

Thus, your secret Vyshaan is sure to believe that he deserves an awful lot more than might normally be considered a sane response to matters. And if he were raised as a Vyshaan (even secretly), he'd not be unlike many of those with ties to thrones--they mutter and gripe in the dark and plot to take the status/throne/power that is rightfully theirs, and they resent/hate/fight anyone who they see as in their way.

This could be manifest as any level of things from bias and hatred against certain churches because "that witch Sehanine Moonbow corrupted Corellon and had her way so that Evermeet is ruled by those weakblooded moon elves" or they could hate certain families that trace lineage back to Miyeritar--the first and greatest symbol vs. Vyshaan corruption and power and a cautionary tale....

Well, enough blither from me. Time I got to work on my real job.....hope this helps spark some ideas....


On May 14, 2006 Steven Schend said: It's more than possible that the guild may've spread itself out and founded franchises and similar-thinking individuals in the sister cities of Myth Drannor. In fact, it's easily surmised that there could be a branch in Silverymoon easily.

Tis one of the reasons I added notes in the FALL OF MYTH DRANNOR about the exodus of the learned and the magical....they took their ideas and wanted to make other places as cool as MD. Biggest problem with the guild in Myth Drannor (which seemed to fit the adventure from the 1E grey box (or, if you're a dinosaur like me who remembers when it was in DRAGON magazine) was that they poached monsters from Halaster so he stole wizards and dropped them in Undermountain or left monsters in Cormanthor.

Come to think of it, you could have a really odd variant of them down in Undermountain after all these years too.....

Just tossin' out ideas....

On May 21, 2006 Steven Schend said: James Bond works for lack of a better model, though I kind of like the model that the spies on ALIAS used to operate a few years back--spies behind the official spies, doing work on the wheels within the wheels that various powers and agencies don't let people see....and just the sort of thing Khelben roots out for his personal agents to foul up....

Another analogy I've used before that might help is Khelben as the Batman, being arrogant and smart and paranoid enough to want to work behind everyone's backs and he only truly trusts those he's personally trained/recruited to do his work, even when it seems he works against his own outside allies.

In short, the Moonstars can operate however you need and want them to operate--very brazenly and boldy, as Kyriani Agrivar no doubt can be, or very subtly and politically minded like Malchor Harpell or Phaerl Hawksong or even very ruthlessly as some of the darker figures in the group do. All you need to remember is that the Moonstars are a secret within a secret, as you're not even supposed to admit to being a Harper, let alone a member of a splinter cell of former/current Harpers.

Who's neither confirming nor denying his membership in any such group, nor will he testify or name names to the Harpers' Committe on UnHarperlike Activities.

On June 4, 2006 Steven Schend said: My thoughts are not as pressing as Khelben's thoughts on the matter.

I'd have to say No, his intention was not to create mage/rogues of any stripe. His thinking was more along the lines of Mission:Impossible--I'll pull together exactly the type of people I need for this specific job/mission/issue, make sure they're people I trust or at least can anticipate how they'll work, wind them up, and send them out for this piece of the puzzle.

In other words, he and other senior Moonstars have the freedom (within reasonable limits to not suddenly explode the tel'Teukiira ranks, but only to handle attrition due to death or mential/physical instability) to recruit whomever they need/wish at the time. Bear in mind that most if not all seniors do consult with Khelben before opening the secret to another, and he'll either know already or research that person and anyone with connections to him/her within two generations before assenting. If he rejects someone for membership, he's always got three other suggested options for agents to replace the rejected person for that senior.

Remember that you only have the top ranks noted of the Silverstars in C&D; it's up to all y'all to fill out the ranks with active agents, and they should be of all stripes, from barbarians to former Zhents.

As always, though, remember that this is all speculation and opinion on my part, as I no longer have any official say-so over how and why the Moonstars exist and operate. I can tell you what my intentions were and my thoughts are, but don't confuse them with canonical rulings from WotC.


On June 24, 2006 Steven Schend said: Try this on for size, then, as a way to have one's cake and eat it too.

The Tree of Life was planted somewheres by Lamruil. It did its job and established a powerful mythal and magic-enhanced place just for elves. After its initial rush of power and use as an artifact, the Tree of Souls acts (for the most part) as the heart of that realm but also like a normal tree.

Saplings could potentially be taken from that central tree (now a living thing and less an artifact after its initial use of power) with far lesser effects.

I suggest keeping it limited to perhaps one sapling per 50 years or 100 years, and all the sapling can do is help repair an aging or corrupted mythal, rather than establish one itself.

How does that work as a potential way to not undermine the specialness of the Tree of Souls while allowing for what later writers have done?

who's done this sort of thing before to make everything work well together

On July 1, 2006 Steven Schend said: Ah, the lascivious adventures of Kyriani "Love 'em and Leave 'em" Agrivar.....

Yeah, that'd be a lot of fun....and I could wrap a Moonstars plot around it, as she's one of Khelben's direct agents. Perhaps a reunion book by sending her down Tethyr way to reunite with her old pals not seen since the AD&D comic folded (or LOI saw print).

`twould be a whole lot of fun....but I suspect WotC might rather have other characters highlighted... Still, if the drumbeats demand the mistress of Selune's Smile in a novel, I'd love to work with ol' Purple Eyes...

Who can't remember if he mentioned Kyri gets a few short cameos in BLACKSTAFF...but guesses he's done so now if not before....

On July 7, 2006 Steven Schend said: The book's main plot spans the 28th of Uktar through the Feast of the Moon in the Year of Lightning Storms (1374 DR). There are various flashbacks that go as far back as the 5th century Dalereckoning and in various time frames up to the present 14th century.


On July 21, 2006 Steven Schend said: All agreements remain in force, both out of the letter of the agreements and due to the fact that Khelben's been reported dead in the past and he's come back. That's enough to keep the fear of him in Fzoul and others in the mix and thus check them.

Besides, since we've already seen that Tsarra can alter her self visually to appear as Khelben, only those in the ritual know he's actually and truly dead. How long she could maintain the illusions that Khelben is alive is....

Hm. An applause of crawling claws just appeared to scratch out NDA into the hardwood floors of the home office. Guess I'd better be quiet now.


Sorry about that dropped plot thread. I'd planned a scene at the end where Tsarra visits the Dreamer in her new state, but as I already was running long, it never got developed. My bad.

Danthra still exists in a new state in Rhymanthiin. Think of it as a combination of visiting Sylune in Shadowdale, the Oracle at Delphi, and the Mouth of Truth in Rome (think Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday). She's a whisper in the ear of penitents seeking oracular advice, and she's able to manifest visually when the moon is more than half full (but only as a wispy ghostlike figure).

That help? Again, apologies for leaving her hanging there....


Cormanthyr was the greatest elven civilization in LIVING ELF MEMORY and thus restoring it would be important as a symbol.

Khelben & Co. simply restored one city of the greatest magical realm of the elves, but one long dropped away from easy memory. Faertelmiir, the city that became Rhymanthiin in its new incarnation, was the Library City of Miyeritar and thus the repository of much of the knowledge of High Magic and other magic that realm knew.

Both acts are important for different reasons. Myth Drannor is a more potent symbol for most, including the elves, because it's always been there. Rhymanthiin/Faertelmiir is important to historians and wizards in the access to lore long lost millennia ago.

And while many can find out about Myth Drannor easily, learning about Rhymanthiin beyond vague whispers and hints (like books written to hide the truth but lead the cogent to it) will be tougher. It's an open secret only to those who were there and you readers. It'll take a while for the Realms as a whole to know about the Hidden City of Hope, and even longer to get there. Think of it as Avalon/Xanadu/Brigadoon--it's a mythical city that only appears briefly to worthies and never for very long.

I'm hoping to write up more on Rhymanthiin soon, but other things loom to eat up my time right now. Maybe by year's end....


Yes, the staff acts as a spelljamming helm (and a tip of the hat in my using my oldest D&D character as a Spelljammer mouthpiece way back in Dragon 1990). Yes it drained spells; he flew by use of an item.

Don't have an easy answer for you on Raegar; perhaps he's read some theories that he filched from wizards over the years?

Exactly what I was shooting for, so thanks. Glad the scenes worked.

I regret we didn't get to work Piergeiron or other Lords into the story. Even so, it may be some time before Piergeiron learns that the Blackstaff is no longer Khelben.....

Khelben's enemies will be kept in the dark as long as possible, as will his friends (beyond those at the end of the book). As for the return of Khelben "Ravencloak"? It's not for me to say or speculate, really.


The only person close to being "a Blackstaff" before Khelben was his paternal uncle, Sarael Maerdrymm, from whose Duskstaff was born the true Blackstaff (in the Prologue and such). Nothing is known about him other than he's an elder half brother to Arun and a full elf. And he was a great and powerful wizard of Myth Drannor, but not one among the military or magical powers of the city (i.e. he worked for himself and his clan, no one else).

However, Khelben held him with enough regard that his first son was named Sarael after him. This suggests that perhaps not all Maerdrymms regarded their human born kin with total disdain.

Dropping more hints and ideas after himself

PS: If and when I get another book contract and am cleared to talk about it, I'll let y'all know.

On July 24, 2006 Steven Schend said: It's very specific--they only managed to cleanse the area between all the 9 sentinel tors and the city. Thus, there's now a clean patch along the shores of the lake about 50 miles in diameter and it'll continue to grow about an inch a month until all is restored a few centuries from now unless circumstances change. SES Thanks for the kind words, Wooly. Now what about your reactions to Kyri's presence in the book?

And no, it's unlikely she'll be a Lord of Waterdeep. One of her first duties will be to reveal to Piergeiron (and no one else in the Lords) that Khelben is dead but for Waterdeep's sake, she'll continue to appear as him. She has to turn the Lords' Effects back over to him....

....though she, with Khelben's memories, knows how to avoid the backlashes et al, since he created them with Ahghairon and she has his knowledge.


Right on both counts, though the PCs would have needed a relationship with Khelben aforehand to be involved.

As for not tripping over it, you could walk the shores of that lake and, aside from seeing the tower in the lake now and eight others miles off, there's no clue that there's a city there at all. It's invisible and shielded and ephemeral UNLESS you're invited in via the towers. But that's info for another day....

As for not tripping over it, it'd be like finding a small village in the middle of Colorado or France that you didn't know was there. There's a LOT of territory on the High Moor and a very small section of it was restored for the sake of the ritual.


On July 25, 2006 Steven Schend said: This should be "Manth'elh'nar Ascalhorn" but I forgot to tinker with it at 2nd draft. Manth'elh'nar means "place of pride's fall" and is associated with places that fell out of their own hubris (like Netheril, Ascalhorn, Malavar's Fall, etc.)

I deleted the rest of the list as most of them can be figured out with what's already out there for the elven glossary. (Yes, that's a challenge to ye Realms fans.) Still, there's enough new things that I'll toss these notes your way:

Lore crystals of Uvaeren = Kiiratel'Uvaeranni
Elven name for sharn = fhaorn'quessir
ol ahnvae Sehanine."("on Sehanine's Night.") This is what the elves call the Feast of the Moon, after their own moon goddess.
Osu Father (parent O, male su) OH-soo
Osi Mother (parent O, female si) OH-see
U'osu Father of father, grandfather OO-oh-soo
I'osu Mother of father, grandmother EE-oh-soo
U'osi Father of mother, grandfather OO-oh-see
I'osi Mother of mother, grandmother EE-oh-see
Tan brother TANN
Nys sister NISS
Os'nys Aunt OHSSS-niss
osu'nys Aunt (sister of father) OH-SOO-niss
osi'nys Aunt (sister of mother) OH-SEE-niss)
Os'tan Uncle OHSS-tann
osu'tan Uncle (brother of father) OH-SOO-tann
osi'tan Uncle (brother of mother) OH-SEE-tann
Tyss(ir) cousin (either gender) TEES/TEESur
a'su'tan Niece (from brother) ah-SOO-tann,
a'su'nys Niece (from sister) ah-SOO-niss
e'su'tan Nephew (from brother) eh-SOO-tann,
e'su'nys Nephew (from sister) eh-SOO-niss
Sum Child SOOM
e'sum Son EH-soom
a'sum Daughter AH-soom
e'e'sum Grandson, "son of son" EH-EH-soom
e'a'sum Grandson, "son of daughter" EH-AH-soom
a'e'sum Granddaughter, "dtr of son" AH-EH-soom
a'a'sum Grandaughter, "dtr of dtr" AH-AH-soom
Lemme know if I've missed any other phrases you want translated. There are a few that don't have translations, and to do so would ruin some mysteries, but you won't know which ones until you ask.

PS: Apologies if the tab fields don't translate over for easier reading

No--it's not permission of a Hopeblade (which is not sentient, by the by), though permission by its wielder might get you in.

No mythal was immediately established around the city, though it does have some aspects like a mythal (similar to what was originally done around Silverymoon before they changed it to a mythal in 3E). However, the fact that there's a bunch of High Mages in Rhymanthiin makes it highly likely that a mythal may eventually go up.

Right now, all I'll say is that the city is unreachable and unfindable unless you're brought there by a native (i.e. any of the risen/former sharn or any of those in the ritual). And the only way in at present is by teleporting and other magical means.


Can't say anything as yet about the leadership et al nor about the makeup of the city. What I will tell is that all 90-odd participants in that ritual are capable of revealing the city's existence to those they deem trustworthy and worthy of knowing about it. Thus, Alustriel may take a few councillors of Luruar into her confidence (but perhaps not the whole council right away); Maskar will probably take Olanhar there soon; Tsarra will reveal its existence to Piergeiron, Mirt, and Asper, inviting them straightaway; the mostly unnamed elves will pick and choose who among their families they might reveal this secret to. Bear in mind that no one wants a flood of people there right away, and being wizards and such, they'll want to mine the depths of knowledge there themselves before knowing what's safe to share with others. Capice?


Well, if I told you all about those things, there'd be no mysteries left to plumb, would there?

This was my touch of the hat brim to old faerie tales in how there were many more mysteries than ever defined or talked about. I wanted to lend an air of mystery there....and also one should never know everything about what wizards discuss. `tis not safe.

Just like Oacenth, I figured I could easily slide in a dwarven leader's name who'd vowed to find ways to work together with the other races as well. Only thing else we know about Dragmar is that he was a high priest of Dumathoin and probably a leader in a long dead dwarven civilization between the times of Miyeritar and -300 DR.

Rinornalyrna answered that last one for you already; it was simply a grandiose way of saying "May the gods that are watching us now bless our work ahead." (and yes, many in that room knew that at least Mystra and Corellon and Sehanine were watching, if not Oghma and Dumathoin)


My dear Rinonalyrna (may I call you Lyrna for short), what wouldst thou prefer?

There are bachelors of the dwarven, centaur, gnomish, human, hin, and elvish (wood elf, moon elf, AND gold elf, but no star or dark elf) varieties wandering the streets. Thou hast a plethora of choices.


Who never got a chance to explain that centaurs made up the bulk of the scouts and sentinels and couriers of Miyeritar and they did have many herds that far north in those days....and there are at least three tribes/herds restored by the ritual

On July 27, 2006 Steven Schend said: No, actually. The SHARN called themselves collectively the fhaorn'quessir, as did a few elven researchers like Oacenth in hidden lore. This wasn't anything openly known beyond a few handfuls of people until the ritual.


On July 31, 2006 Steven Schend said: Well, not to put too fine a point on it, but BLACKSTAFF is all about a number of plot threads that have been dangling in the breezes since 1991ish or so. That's when Ed & I first discussed the sharn and what they really were behind the scenes. The novel also handles followups to at least five other, older products and plotlines I'd left behind more than ten years back.

There's quite a few grace notes in the novel that were put in specifically to reward the older fans from 1987 on (and hopefully they weren't enough to trip up newer readers).

I just don't know if that's the sort of thing that'll be good in the long run, other than to show that we're paying attention to the nuggets we left to lie fallow for ourselves or other designers. (After all, look at what Eric & Ed did to my monstrous invasion in Amn--a very good job indeed.)


On August 1, 2006 Steven Schend said: Sharn still exist, but how they'll act is unknown; they're now all one unified mind again but they're aware that they're one people--the former dark elves (not drow) of Miyeritar. They're also aware that they can serve a good purpose in the Realms to prevent abusive magics from destroying things. Where this goes next is probably up to the RPG folks, as it's not that much of a thread for a novel. At least I doubt I'd want to write a novel about the sharn (any more than I already did).

As for that cryptic comment on Sememmon and Ashemmi, Khelben meant the couple is due for more work with the good guys (or at least the shadier good guys like the tel'teukiira) in the future. As for a future novel, I've got no control over that, but I'd love to write it.


On August 17, 2006 Steven Schend said: Good golly gosh.....haven't thought about him in years....

Okay...lessee....Vamar the Cold may (or may not) have been an apprentice of Priamon Rakesk after his exile from Waterdeep; it's a rumor, and Vamar neither confirms nor denies the truth of the matter. Suffice it to say that both of them have unique (or seemingly unique) cold-based spells.

Specifics of his tower--Bear with me as I did this in my own campaign and put a tower beneath the Deepwash as well, so I might get the info scrambled after all these years. The tower's windows are gone, but magical fields keep the water out (or at least keep things that would be damaged by salt water from being so damaged).

His researches, interestingly enough, bridge the gaps between alchemy, natural sciences, and magic--he's trying to understand how best to manipulate temperature and liquids with magic or without. He wants to figure out how to trap spells in snowflakes, plant potions inside glaciers, or even how to make a spell snow down without detection upon a village.

His primary reason for submerging the tower, IIRC, was so he would be relatively left alone and undisturbed. Therefore, one should expect a series of defenses and fields that keep people from approaching the tower grounds from any angle.

His motivations, similar to the Twisted Rune, is to learn as much as he wishes without interruption. He's as close as you get to a neutral lich--his "evil" is simply selfishness and a self-absorbed nature, rather than "I want to take over the world" evil.

What books are in his library? Whew. Good question. There's at least three major prayer books of both Auril's and Lathander's faith each; a wide variety of books on agriculture, crops, and weather; and a number of books that only have additional copies at Candlekeep, Elminster's Tower, and Blackstaff Tower:

On the Matter of Stormclouds, by Arhatal of Elversult
Ice Speaks to Me: An Account of my Meeting with Iracleya the Ice Queen by Tareak of Mulmaster
And All Shall Tremble in Fear and Cold, by "Rakar the Ice-Wizard" (the overly grandiose autobiography of Priamon Rakesk written just before he underwent his changes to lichdom; obviously, he wrote under an alias and thus became far more fawning about his own accomplishments than might be normally proper....)
Weather and What I've Seen of It, by Dagult the Wanderer
Alchymicala: On the Nature of Potions, by Maskar Wands
Magics of the South and Their Superiorities, by Suarahk, Syl-Vizar of Zazzesspur (ascribed to His Greatness the Qysar Shoon II)
Emboldening Materials for the Storage of Magics, by Demron of Myth Drannor
Hope all that helps (and I hope that my memory hasn't had me forget something I wrote in SoFS and now I'm making huge continuity gaffes).

Steven Schend

On August 20, 2006 Steven Schend said: Well, I queried The Greenwood about this and here's his response to me:

"As for Mentor Wintercloak, I've purposefully kept him as mysterious as possible - - but in my mind he's always been the incredibly charismatic (think Doctor Strange in looks, with those dark, dominating eyes) Svengali figure who attracted scores of magically-talented women as lovers and apprentices. In other words, he's the guy Elminster learned the technique from. :}

Now, I DON'T see Mentor as an exploitive lecher, cold-bloodedly trading magical training for sex and service. I see him as someone who made his wants and desires clear, who dealt honestly, and who was attracted to growing, learning minds whose talent for the Art was blossoming. His personal charisma just made a LOT of people fall for him, male and female, as friends and as lovers."

Now why do I suddenly see Timothy Dalton's face when thinking about Mentor?

Hope that helps, Lyrna.

Today's Ed-Greenwood avatar

On August 21, 2006 Steven Schend said: Okay....tough to answer this and bear in mind there's still lots I can't discuss due to NDAs and all that......

It will take years before there's any apparent changes or problems at Blackstaff Tower. Most apprentices below the elder/senior level don't have much contact with Khelben or Laeral on a daily basis. Even so, Tsarra will maintain illusory covers for BOTH Khelben and Laeral to disguise the fact that they're not there. Even if she didn't they're often off doing things for Mystra at times so few will question their activities unless they're not seen in more than a year.

Tsarra has access to ALL of Khelben's knowledge and memory, so she's most definitely understands everything about the office of the Blackstaff she needs to--including the most effective ways to manipulate Mirt or Piergeiron into doing what she needs them to do (but she'd only do this in Khelben's guise).

Tsarra is in charge at the tower AS Khelben; for the most part, the senior apprentices run the school at the tower, and unless there's a problem among them, the eight or nine seniors act in council to keep things moving. (And no, Tsarra won't tell them K's gone--she'll maintain his guise to teach them what Khelben wanted to teach them or usher them to graduate beyond the tower.). Tsarra maintains her own classes and persona as normal. Malchor, Kyriani, and a few others help out in maintaining the illusions that K&L are very busy right now, by popping in and helping herd apprentices and teach et al. If asked, students are reminded that apprentices only are owed answers from archmages when they themselves become archmages ("...and often not even then, so stop asking and focus on your studies!")

In my opinion, it will be YEARS to DECADES before anyone cracks the secret that Khelben's no longer in the tower. Even those potential enemies that are in the know (from the end of the novel) will NOT reveal the secret. If they do, they'll live in fear of reprisals from others in the ritual (if not the sharn themselves). So, no, Sememmon or Maaril are not going to trade off that information--that secret is very obviously worth far more than their lives, and they're both just wary enough to not want to push their luck too far.

Does that help clarify things for you, Crust?


On August 21, 2006 Steven Schend said: Well, assuming she finds it, I don't think she'd mind. The only things immediately visible as per having changed are the nine sentinel towers and the cleansed land among them (i.e. they're laid out in a 50-ish mile diameter circle with Rhymanthiin at the center--invisible and immaterial unless you know how to get in). Any druid or person attuned to nature would feel incredible energies and power in that cleansed area and most likely wouldn't want to disturb that, as they can tell it's slowly expanding and will eventually cleanse the whole moor (in a few centuries....).

I don't recognize the character; one of your own?


On August 22, 2006 Steven Schend said: Realized I'd never answered this comment/ bad.

The sharn were made of composite survivors and/or willing entrants who sacrificed their lives and knowledge to join the collective sharn. (Strange that a few years AFTER Ed, Eric, and I had discussed the sharn as one big collective underdark LAKE of sharnstuff that splintered off pieces to make individual sharn, Star Trek DS9 had the same idea for the Founders/shapeshifters.)

No, not all the sharn came from the events in Chapter 20, though every living being in that Pentad enclave became sharn. The original sharn were the lorelords and such of Miyeritar--the 3 High Mages and the 80 that entered the storms as noted in a few places in the timelines. They took in a few other survivors who didn't get mentioned in elven histories, like the guards and scouts of Miyeritar--the centaurs.

Over time, I figure there's been a few who've been offered salvation from certain death by joining the sharn, and a few folk of Uvaeren, Eaerlann, Ascalhorn, and many many other realms joined the collective.

Thus, Rhymanthiin is going to be a hotbed of historical knowledge as there are now living denizens of many lost realms who can correct or compile information on places that have little (or perhaps have even been forgotten) detail.

Does this help clarify things, Knight? Or just add more questions, as any good designer does?

Who highly recommends the very odd movie LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE to anyone who can attend R-rated movies

On August 22, 2006 Steven Schend said: Answer you don't want to read if you've not finished Blackstaff:

Correct--it'll be a great secret for some time to come, if I get my way. Reasons for it: A--Khelben liked his secrets; B--Mayhem and anarchy in Waterdeep is only the beginning; C--Even his former allies in the Harpers would descend on Blackstaff Tower if they could to try and claim its secrets (especially if he had stuff on them with which he might've blackmailed them...not that I'm saying he did, mind you...

As this isn't quite a spoiler, I'll leave this unbeiged (and no, that's not a word I ever expected to type).

Halaster didn't take part in the High Moor ritual for two reasons:

A. He already had his part to play, as shown in the novel.
B. The module Stardock showed what happens when Halaster is away from Undermountain for too long. The ritual took more than 16-24 hours to complete, and that would have meant far too many troubles for the Sword Coast.
Alvaerele's first (and only, IIRC) appearance is in SECRETS OF THE MAGISTER. She's a former Magister and current Chosen. If there are other scrolls on her, I suspect Eric & George might best guide thee there (and let us know as well). I just penned her in there as I wanted a Chosen we'd not seen onscreen before, and Aloevan of Ardeep was too problematic to use.

Who wonders if he should continue to worry about spoilers at this point, but then just enjoys playing with new toys like beiging out words

On August 22, 2006 Steven Schend said: To quote Howard Carter (finder of Tut's tomb), "Wondrous things...." The Vault of Ages has lots and lots of secrets, tomes, tombs, and other things I've not thought about in years. I think it's more a catch-all of lore and stuff to hide than Candlekeep, though. That's just been my impression.

No floorplans or lists of things therein, I'm afraid. I'd have to reread what we'd said in the past before I could get any new ideas mayhaps I'll do so soon....

Wherever you want it to be, and no details on that either. I'd forgotten, honestly, that any of them survived the Fall of Myth Drannor.

If I remember correctly, didn't Josidiah Starym bring that back with him from the Underdark? He traded Gwenwhyfar for it, but arrived back in Myth Drannor after the death of his beloved.

I don't know if I'd be the best help on that one, especially since I don't quite follow what you're up to. The Highfire Crown (as seen in Blackstaff) chooses its own bearer and whether or not to call each other together so the intelligent kiira become the Crown. Are you planning on creating 6 more baneblades--is that why you're looking at such trials? Any and all should chime in with ideas on this (though whether we do so here or on a separate folder is up to the moderators).

HE is still alive, yes, but as to his whereabouts, no one knows. Or if they do, they're not talking for various reasons. (I briefly thought about making him one of the dragons in the Blackstaff ritual, but nixed the idea as too important to cameo without explanation or details (for which there was no room).) In other words, do with him what you will. Heck--he could be trying to assuage his guilt by helping to recreate what he helped destroy inadvertantly, and thus HE is the one trying to find the Highfire Crown and make new baneblades.

Personally, I think he's been busy far away from Faerun, as he's fled the scene of his shame and been occupied for a few centuries fighting and killing enemies of The People either south of Chult or far to the west (maybe even Maztica?). But that's one person's opinion.

Nope, and I've not statted them either. I liked naming lots and lots of items and leaving them for others to detail; when they weren't, I got to pick them up and use them later.

Hope that helps rather than hinders.


On August 25, 2006 Steven Schend said: Actually, that's a misunderstanding. Ed wrote everything canonical re: Qilue's history et al in SEVEN SISTERS. All I ever did was toss ideas around with Ed over beer and say, "Hey, what if that Dark Sister were ACTUALLY a drow?" That'll teach me to open my mouth.

Who tries never to claim creation for things that sprang from others' brains...

On August 26, 2006 Steven Schend said: Thanks very much; I'm glad you enjoyed the book. I hope there's many more to come as well.

Dunno why you chose to secret out that response, but I'll follow suit, just for fun.

I retconned in centaurs as part of the military side of Miyeritar and postulated that at least three to five full herds/tribes of centaurs are part of the scouts and standing armies among the nine Sentinel Tors of Rhymanthiin now. It was less that they were strong in magic as they were among the folks that were among the Sharn and shared in that power a while. I'd say one special thing about these newly risen centaurs is they have a higher incidence of sorcery now than any other centaur population on Faerun. But that's my lone opinion as a freelance author--take it as an option, not a canonical thing.

Hope that info helps, and cups high, friends. We toast the Blackstaff tonight--just because.

On August 29, 2006 Steven Schend said: As the guy who used to be the liaison and approvals guy for TSR and the AD&D comic with Kim Yale (may she rest in peace) at DC, I can say unequivocally that the events and characters are all canonical.

who also led the charge to move the characters into the game material as well...

On Semptember 8, 2006 Steven Schend said: I'd love to answer Joe's question here, but there's such a thing as leaving a door open to walk through later...

I'll at least give you this:

All of the nine hopeblades are, like the moonblades before them, long hilted broadswords that can be wielded with one or two hands, depending on the size and strength of the wielder.

The hopeblades appear, feel, and sound like a diamond-hard crystal but ring like a crystal wine goblet when they hit things.

They may or may not have runes along the blade, and they may or may not have individual powers (NDA). They all do have the ability to pierce the veil that hides Rhymanthiin from normal eyes and allow someone into the hidden city of hope.

Beyond that, I'll not say due to NDAs and not wanting to get in the way of later development by myself or others.


On October 6, 2006 Steven Schend said: It was definitely intended to be a DM's choice item, but it's also supposed to fill the need of "questing items"--things for which heroes can go a-hunting centuries after they've been lost.

After all, how many movies were borne of one guy looking for one artifact out of the Bible?

In any case, it's up to you individual DMs to determine both the powers and the location of many of the items noted in ... well, nearly anything I've written. Most of them are just tossed out there to give you all something to go look for (i.e. all those items in HELLGATE KEEP that could either be in the ruins, in the hands of the things therein, or they could have been scattered across the general vicinity and the High Forest by the explosion that took out the Keep itself.

who has some ideas of his own and wonders if he should play with the Bandolier and the hidden histories of Tethyr and the Forest of Mir, its hidden circle of druids, and their ties to Tethyrian nobility and a certain archmage of note....

On November 6, 2006 Steven Schend said: Dart, the short answers are these:

The Swords of Shoon are more historical and regionally important than magically powerful. It's more a prestige thing to claim something like this (akin to "this is Ulysses S. Grant's personal sidearm!")

They're more well known the closer you get to Shoonach and Calimport.

The Silver Scimitar is definitely one of them and could be used as a basic primer on the rest.

Khelben hid away anything he could either for broad reasons or simply "to keep bright shiny things out of reach of children who'll hurt themselves or others with them carelessly." Yes, Khelben's spent many a decade as a control freak. Show of hands as to who's surprised?

And Laeral would have you know three out of the seven clash with her skin tone, so she gave up just that fashion accessory you mentioned.

Would Shoon VII like to get his hands on them? Yes, if only for the prestige or for the arming of lieutenants; no, as he's more a behind-the-scenes kinda worker and that'd draw too much attention to him.

If the elves had links (some blood ties) to the Strohm dynasty (which is easily possible), they might recognize them. Otherwise, unless the sword was specifically used to slay a lot of elves, they probably wouldn't know it from any other gizmo.

More later, perhaps, if I get possessed and decide to scribble up a sword or two...

On November 21, 2006 Steven Schend said: Amn is heavily humanocentric and biased so, as you've stated. They tolerate the halflings only out of familiarity (and their longtime presence in both Tethyr, their former realm which is now part of Amn, and the fact that they have trade goods (wine, etc.) that Amnians want. They tolerate the half-orcs because they want the labor/slaves. In no way does this mean they'll actually consider them equals as living beings.

Dwarves and elves and gnomes aren't necessarily known (at least in this area since the fall of the surface dwarf realms around there) to be all that organized in large numbers for trading. And the gnomes aren't either.

It may seem a stretch to declare that most Amnians see anyone who isn't human as thoroughly alien, but even with all the trade, that's no guarantee that they'll see other races. Humans tend to dominate the sea trades and caravan costers that bring and remove trade to/from Amn. The occassional elf, dwarf, gnome, or other is just that--rare and considered dangerous.

One other reason behind Amn's distrust of demihumans is simple--those they do see via land or sea are rarely peaceful traders or adventurers. They're more often the pirates (over which I regrettably glossed over some in LOI and EoSS) or the wandering monsters of the plains.

Don't know if this helps clarify or further confuse. If you want to continue discussing this, great; let's just talk about specific situations, which always change the broad generalizations a tad.


On November 21, 2006 Steven Schend said: It's certainly possible for there to be Eilistraee worshipers among the risen of Rhymanthiin, though there'd be distinct differences:

A) They would be moon elf worshipers from Miyeritar at best or perhaps a rare drow worshiper of later eras who became a sharn willingly.
B) There would be no dark elf worshipers of Eilistraee from Miyeritar, as I'm not sure she was an actively worshiped power back before the Descent.
C) Even if (B) weren't true, none of the former dark elves of Miyeritar have relinquished their collective sharn forms, which would make their worshiping a dancer a tad tricky at best. To not be sharn would have them suddenly become subject to Corellon's Judgement and become drow (Yes, there's a difference, in this context, between dark elf and drow. Honest.).
D) The majority of those who rose were either citizens and mages of Miyeritar who might worship the other elven gods or the five gods of the Pentad (Dumathoin, Corellon, Sehanine, Oghma, Mystra). Those are the major cathedrals/biggest temples in Rhymanthiin. There's probably one major collective temple for each of the elven, dwarven, and centaur pantheons (assuming the latter, which Eric may correct me on or not).
E) While there were hundreds to thousands over the millennia who became sharn in singular or collective numbers, the sharn were never exclusively transformed worshipers of the Dark Maiden.

Again, there's nothing stopping people from having an influx of people worshiping Eilistraee out of the events of Blackstaff, but her worship would be entirely different.

Eric, help me on this, as I can't check the details of her worship, but in my head, Eilistraee was almost more like a goddess of joy and dance before the Descent. She had to Fall with Araushnee/Lolth and her brother Vhaeraun, which is when her worship became like it is today. Exactly how it all worked, I can't say without more research, so this is my gut-reaciton response this morning. The gods and their history isn't my forte, so feel free to correct me.

This is another discussion to continue, but we'll need to focus the questions a bit, starting with whether or not there was worship of Eilistraee before the Descent or if she was even a known factor at all (or just a daughter of the gods without any mortal worshipers).

Well, hope this nattering helped. Bounce more questions around as needed until you're satisfied. I apologize for the spoilers herein, but it sounds like people have already spoiled the novel a bit for you anyways.


On November 24, 2006 Steven Schend said: Think of things like people and personalities and how they interact. If you're traveling toward a land filled with rich bigots who prefer (almost to exception) the company only of their own race and also fear magic, you're hardly apt to want to set up trade in magical things with them if you're a demihuman. Being made to feel unwelcome at every tavern, inn, or marketplace is only the beginning; imagine made-up "road taxes" or "bridge taxes" to cross the merest streams, etc.

The only place outsiders (i.e. any non-Amnian humans or nonhumans) would be welcome at all are in the slightly more egalitarian military (and not to mention horrifically desperate for people). Bear in mind that any nonhumans in the ranks will suffer prejudice and problems with the rank and file (as well as their superiors who may want to send them on more than their share of suicidal missions) for being what they are....and that's not even touching on anyone with magic....

Thanks for making me think about this stuff after a long time away from Amn. Yes, the land has its good points, but it's stuff like this that makes it more real to many. It's like Sembia, but warmer and slightly more moral. Just slightly, though.


On November 24, 2006 Steven Schend said: Okay, I stand corrected. Let's say for the sake of argument, then, that there is a Dark Maiden's Dancehall somewhere in Rhymanthiin; there are worshipers of Eilistraee (as she appeared as a dark elf, not as the drow version of the Dark Dancer); and there's at least 1d8 priests of the old style of worship who could teach any current worshipers of Eilistraee many things long since lost in her worship since the Descent (or because of it). I'm not Ed, so I can't immediately spin out new powers or prayers or rituals, but I'd say she probably has more moon-based powers of old, but whether or not she can still grant things in accord with her old form or not is up to Corellon and individual GMs.

I think most of my other statements on this still hold true, but feel free to discuss.


On November 24, 2006 Steven Schend said: As always, bear in mind that these are just my musings--not anything to be construed as canonical in any way. Unless I draw a paycheck from Wizards or am Ed Greenwood, this is all just opinion and tavern talk. [Okay, obligatory disclaimer out of the way. ]

I'm one of the old-school designers who's fought to make sure there was a distinction historically if not colloquially between drow and dark elves. As I was told back when I worked on Cormanthyr that I couldn't allow any dark elves to NOT be drow, I couldn't leave a loophole for those good dark elves of Miyeritar, alas.

Also remember one thing--Rhymanthiin is a NEW thing. It's NOT just the restored and altered city of Faertelmiir--it's far more than that. Be that as it may, it's also only one city of Miyeritar, and as such, it was the least religious of any of its cities. Thus, my concession of a Dark Maiden's temple there is a conceit to the fans rather than anything rooted in hidden plans or what little logic I bring to my plottings.

For those curious about Miyeritar, I saw it as 8-12 major city-states working semi-independently with a roving seat of power for a central government. There were also a wide band of around 25 towers similar to those among the 4th Circles (in the Blackstaff ritual), around which small villages or towns might also congregate. In all, Miyeritar only consisted of no more than 40 focused settlements and a lot of widespread independent towers or treeholds or burrows or whatnot for its population of elves, centaurs, and various others.

Once every 20 years or so (short for elves), the power would shift among the military, the mages, or the religious, and thus the center of power would shift to the city-state controlled or most influenced by said power group. Faertelmiir was the Library City of Miyeritar, so it was always one of the strongholds for magic more than anything else. Yes, it has temples NOW as Rhymanthiin, and that's the result of those involved in the ritual as well as the races and peoples who became sharn long after Miyeritar's fall and influenced the rebuilding to their wishes and dreams.

And for fans of Lost Empires of Faerun, Kraanfhaor's Door was simply part of one of those tower-settlements which was a major school for wizardry and sorcery. It was not a city-state.

Clear as mud now, right? I'm thinking more and more that I should write more of this up before it flies out of my head.....


On November 24, 2006 Steven Schend said: Because gods don't always focus in on individuals unless they're high priests in their religions? Okay, that's one answer, but it's hardly satisfying.

Yes, Lyrna, it's horribly unfair, but the decision was partly due to demands by my bosses at the time (writing Cormanthyr and elvish history) that I erase the distinction between dark elves and drow and could not leave a loophole through which some could survive.

Now, in my mind, part of the unfairness stems from mortals not knowing all of what went into the decisions of the gods, so there may be more backstory behind Corellon's decision. We know he was torn about forcing the punishment on Eilistraee but he could not avoid it for some reason. Exactly what's involved is unknown by this man behind the curtain....and it may never be known, as I doubt there's much demand for yet another edition of the god-books (but I've been wrong before).


On November 29, 2006 Steven Schend said: It's inherently possible that some of the sharn could have been Netherese, just as they could have been refugees or survivors of any civilization that had a precipitous or sudden fall (i.e. Uvaeren, Ammarindar, villages stomped by the Black Hordes, etc.).

As for why they fought the phaerimm, one of the sharns' hidden purposes at all times (and even now with those left) was to prevent abuses of magic and fight against corruptions on the Weave. As much of what the Phaerimm have done fall under those descriptions, they made themselves the sharns' enemies. (Case in point--we don't necessarily always hear all the news of what goes on in Thay, but I'd suspect that there are always sharn working against some of the worst abuses of magic therein...)

Because they were either approached by the sharn themselves or inspired by Miyeritar or Uvaeren and their studies drew them to that conclusion/secret.

I'm loathe to say more, as I've got some stories and articles in mind to flesh all this out, some of which must remain NDA. Suffice it to say that the five faiths of the Pentad did not come together without reason or purpose... so what their faithful did has meaning. I just can't discuss what that meaning is at present.

Didn't I translate that over in my folder somewheres? I'll have to double-check my notes on that and get back to you. One thing to note--This is NOT a common name for the sharn, but it's one ONLY known among the Pentad's elven worshipers. If memory serves correctly, it's loosely transltated as "changed/altered Person" and acknowledges that there are elves within the sharn.

Yes, I'm afraid so. He's earned his peace after 960 years, don't you think?

Then Ed's and my work is done here. I've enjoyed scattering hints and nibbles about Halaster into everything I've done in the Realms. It's one of the biggest scavenger hunts of lore out there--just ask George, and he'll confirm the only thing worse is sussing out the true history of The North.

A scavenging garbage- and offal-eater that's been a D&D staple monster for decades. Look to your Monster Manual.

Hope these answers helped, Galaeron.

On December 8, 2006 Steven Schend said: Actually, I'm not so much the creator there--it's Ed, as always.

What I did was take an aside he had in ELMINSTER IN MYTH DRANNOR about the ruined and sealed manor of the Dlardrageths, who allegedly held congress with demons. I ran with that idea in HELLGATE KEEP, and reintroduced the three surviving members of that family. They were sun elves because that's what Ed told me they were.

Eric Boyd then picked up the ball and ran crazily with it in CLOAK & DAGGER, and this is the true birthplace of the current fey'ri.

3rd Edition and Rich's LAST MYTHAL trilogy has genericized them somewhat, giving them all wings and such (which is not something I agree with, but I understand it, as it's too complex to use traits from all the individual demonic types). Even so, they're not something that is close to my heart, and the only thing that bothers me is that they're vastly more numerous than I'd be comfortable with, were I steering the ship.

Thus, the fey'ri are definitely a team construction, and we're all glad you're enjoying them in your Realms.

who's still annoyed that Ryvvik got killed off-screen and for little reason other than they didn't have psionics rules for him at the time the other Dlardrageths were statted up....

On December 10, 2006 Steven Schend said: Interesting, yes, but not from Amn's point of view. You might be able to find individuals or perhaps even whole families who might embrace demihumans, but rarely would you find that many willing to fight the standards set by the Council and their trading partners. (After all, those in Amnwater might see dips in trade if they started bucking the system.)

(Bear in mind, though, that if one family controls or influences the city (like the Medici did in Florence in their day), they set the stage for what's acceptable or not in town. And that can work on a small scale--perhaps not for Amnwater, but an unmentioned supporting village of farmers or a barracks town for military personnel nearby....)

Every time Amn's people have opened their borders to others in the past, it's bitten them hard. They still blame elves for many more sins than they should, because it's easy.

Most of Amn is quite comfortable with its internal attitudes and don't care one whit what others may think of them. Just as you can't get Turks or many Arabs collectively to accept the idea that Kurds deserve recognition as people and perhaps as a nation (a problem straddling more than 3 centuries in our world), you can't get too many Amnians to see the point that "those not like us" are not out to destroy their (as they see it) gods-given rights to earn profits. And that's part of how they rationalize their prejudices against other races--"they only bring demons or chaos or goods that humans can't fairly compete against and thus we don't want them here."

If you want cosmopolitan communities and a fair shake for demihumans AND still have some semblance of what life is like in Amn, I'd say use the two "traitor cities" of Riatavin and Trailstone. They're technically Tethyr now politically and economically, but most everyone in those settlements was an Amnian of long standing.

who may regret not rereading this off-the-cuff response for clarity, but he's trusting his headbones to not lead him (or you kind readers) too far astray

On December 10, 2006 Steven Schend said: Okay, finally found that elven glossary....

-athil translates as "bane/nemesis"
mhaor- translates as "corruption, disease, plague"
mor- translates as "absence of life, true death"
Mormhaor translates as "corrupted death, undeath"
the "n" negates the suffix or shifts the meaning somewhat to be something other than the literal word/root.

Maornathil is Tsarra's scimitar, a Rilifane-blessed undead fighting blade. It was originally Mormhaorathil, which would have literally been "Undead's Bane." However, the name, as it became in final draft (for reasons that I can't discuss right now), loosely translates as "Corruption's Foe/Ally" (depending on where you place the stresses).

In scenes that never quite got written, I'd planned on Syndra Wands having to pick up Mhaornathil to wield against Frostrune (which would do her a great bit of damage simply by touching it, but she'd do it for revenge.). Simply put, I never got around to using the sword as much as I'd have liked, as the shifting story focused more on the magic and wizardry, not bladeplay. Syndra also became an undead entity more in line with something from SECRETS OF THE MAGISTER rather than just the garden variety ghost, so she became a weapon in her own right and had no need to wield Tsarra's blade.

Mhaornathil is an undead bane scimitar that has the ability to touch/affect ghosts and other ephemeral undead (and strangely, to be touched/wielded by the same). That's the one aspect I didn't get to highlight, but it may come into play with future stories, I hope.

And I apologize if we slipped and introduced odd spellings of the blade. Thought I'd done the triple-check in galleys to make sure the first spelling (p22) remained consistent throughout the novel.


On December 30, 2006 Steven Schend said: Sharn always have the same identical look as they've always had--3 heads, the arms with the tri-trunk hands, etc. The number of original souls within them matters little, as they are each and all the same (at least until WotC decides to redefine how the sharn are statted up). This is the sort of question Eric Boyd's much better at answering than I am, if you want a straight answer that makes sense in game terms.


Correct; these are the three grand mages who disappeared into the Dark Disaster as noted in Cormanthyr's timeline. And this novel is the first time they'd been named.

Yes, something like that; I don't have Cormanthyr at hand to check the exact wording of his vow, but it's noted in the history of Jhyrennstar and Oacenth's death.

Yes--any dark elves would have become drow had they relinquished their sharnforms.

Not quite, no. Akhelben directly translates (as per Cormanthyr, again) into "He who defines duty and honor," if memory serves me correctly.

That was answered (and repeated) earlier. She's the Oracle of Rhymanthiin, for lack of a better title at present.

Thanks for all your interest.



On January 13, 2006 Paul S. Kemp said: Zanan,

I'm pleased you enjoyed MM.

As for Lolth's appearance, I think she can take any of several forms. It just so happens that she choose the eight-spiders form for WotSQ. Thinking of gods as having a multiple consciousness strikes me as a good way to conceptualize it, though. After all, most gods have several aspects, multiple avatars, possible some Chosen, and, AND, despite the canon of recent years, I remain convinced that the Lolth of Oerth, the Lolth of Faerun, the Lolth of wherever, are each some aspect of the same Lolth.

I see the Lady Penitent as having a dessicated drow form, taller than average, with limbs somewhat elongated and suggestive in form of a merging with something arachnoid (not a drider-like form, though, but something still bipedal). Facial features stil suggest Halisstra's original beauty, but also include fangs and six small vestigial eyes in the brow. Arachnoid hair pops here and there from the skin of her body, though it is not black but bleach white.

I did share much of this with one designer (Eric Boyd) when he queried me after finishing Resurrection.

On January 18, 2006 Paul S. Kemp said: George,

I intended the temple moved by Kesson Rel to the Plane of Shadows to be from another world/plane. It is also a temple to the god known in Faerun as Mask (not Shar).

I realize my extra-planar origin story runs afoul of the whole "multiple astral/multiple god" concept that is currently part of FR cosmology, but I'll be candid and tell you that I dislike that whole concept. It strikes me as something invented to "save" the Lolth of Faerun when the Lolth of Oerth was "killed." In the end, it's a bit too Kang the Conquerer for me (though his problem was more a multiple timestreams issue). I prefer to think that the idea of multiple astrals/multiple gods is an attempt by Faerunian sages to put a conceptual framework around something they don't and can't fully understand -- namely, the nature of divine entities. The upshot (in my own mind) is that the multiple god/multiple astral framework is a partial truth, but misses the more fundamental underlying nature of the Gods, which actually allows for the same, singular divine entity to exist across planes/worlds, with full knowledge of his or her multiple existences. Or so sez I.

On January 19, 2006 Paul S. Kemp said: VonRaventheDaring,

Indeed the "awakening" of the Sakkors mythallar is a plot thread that will be picked up in my next Cale series, called, "The Twilight War." The first book of that series, "Shadowbred," will be released in late 2006.

Magadon the mindmage (psion) will feature in "Shadowbred," as will Riven, Cale, and (cue the Imperial March from Star Wars) the Shadovar.

I would not say that I wrestled with including a psion, but I did give it a fair amount of thought. Psionics are not common in the Realms (excepting certain commonly psionic races), and I have too much regard for the integrity of the setting to simply throw in a psionicist without some explanation. So what is my explanation? Magadon's fiendish origin. His command of psionics is primarily attributable to his unique bloodline, being the spawn of an Archdevil. He is, in many ways, one of a kind, or at least a rare breed.

Hope that answers your question.


On January 26, 2006 Paul S. Kemp said: Elfinblade,

Thank you very much.

1. Magadon is in the next trilogy and yes, I will explore his heritage a bit more.
2. It didn't upset me, exactly. But it is hard to let a central character go. I had decided on Jak's fate more or less at the beginning of the trilogy. In fact, if you re-read the Skullport sections of Dawn of Night, you'll see that Jak spots a halfling there who reminds him of a dead uncle. That was actually a vision of Brandobaris.
3. I'll have to use a speak with dead spell and ask her.
4. Yes, because it features the Shadovar, which means the Twelve Princes and Telamont.
5. On this one, you'll have to wait and see. Sorry about that.

Thanks again, Elfinblade.


On February 10, 2006 Paul S. Kemp said: George,

I believe the deva captured by Vhostym in Dawn of Night mentions that Vhostym is "like the githyanki," but different. I may also have dropped a line at one point where Vhostym thinks something like: "When his people fought their way free of Illithid dominance" or something along those lines. Those were meant to suggest his origin. They are widely spaced, though, so connecting the dots might be tough.

Believe me when I tell you that I wasn't trying to be particularly obscure, but perhaps it came across that way. I write in tight-third person, so "self-descriptions" don't really have any place in the narrative. It would be like my writing a scene from George Krashos's point of view and writing something like: "George set down the novel and pondered. The human had never read anything quite like it."

See what I mean? Unless you ordinarily think of yourself during self-reflection as "the human," that's a bit jarring. Accordingly, Vhostym never thinks of himself as "the gith." Instead, I tried to suggest his history indirectly. Not well enough, it would appear.

As for dates: I have to check back on my notes and an email exchange with Eric Boyd. I believe MM takes place in the early fall of 1374 DR. On the subject of chapters with dates: It now appears to be WotC's practice to date the chapters of RSE trilogies, which is why RotAW, RLB's Rogue Dragon Trilogy, and Rich's Last Mythal trilogy all have chapter dates. I don't know if that will be extended to all books or just be a requirement for RSE's. Rest assured, "The Twiligt War" will have chapter by chapter dates.


On March 1, 2006 Paul S. Kemp said: Jindael,

That's right. "Another Name for Dawn" is an origin story, showing how Cale came to Sembia (and also how he came by the name 'Erevis Cale', which is not his given name). It is set earlier in time than the story in "Halls of Stormweather," though it was published later (contemporaneously with the release of "Shadow's Witness").

"All the Sinners Saints" is set in the time between the end of "Shadow's Witness" and the beginning of "Twilight Falling," and could be read between those two books.

Of course, neither short story is necessary reading. But hopefully they're fun.

Incidentally (and to complicate things further), my short story in "Realms of the Dragons," entitled, "Soulbound," is also related to the Cale storyline. While it does not feature Cale or his companions, it does tell the story of two beings who are important to the overall Cale story arc. If you decide to read this, it fits in after "Dawn of Night," but before "Midnight's Mask."



On January 18, 2006 Eric Boyd said: It's an interesting idea, but I'm not sure why they'd be there.

Thinking out loud ... ( Note, I don't have access to my sources a the moment, so I could be missing something important. Need to check The North, FR5 - The Savage Frontier, FR11 - Dwarves Deep, Lords of Darkness, Silver Marches, and Lost Empires of Faerun)

Ascore is a dwarven settlement, the eastern part of Delzoun.

Trade between the Netherese and the dwarves of Delzoun goes over the Narrow Sea, from Runlatha to Ascore (see Lost Empires of Faerun for info on Runlatha) and via the Low Road (mentioned in FR11 and discussed as well in DDGttU and LEoF).

Netheril falls in -339 DR.
Delzoun falls circa -100 DR.

We don't know when Ascore was abandoned, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was between -339 DR and -100 DR. I imagine the collapse of Netheril would have quickly undermined the raison d'etre of Ascore. Initially there would have been a rush of refugees, and then the city would have dwindled.

The pyramids could have appeared in one of five time periods:

pre-Ascore: If this happens, the site is fairly random and it's also unclear why the dwarves would build their city around them and not five miles away.

during-Ascore/during Netheril: If this happens, the dwarves are presumably the builders. It's a dwarven city with Netherese expatriats, not the other way around. Given that pyramids are not generally associated with the dwarves, I don't think this makes much sense.

during-Ascore/post Fall: If this happens, we might postulate that the dwarves are being overwhelmed by an influx of Netherese refugees, similar to what happened to the Eaerlanni elves of Ascalhorn. Worse, the Netherese refugees might have brought all sorts of "bad stuff" with them that keeps getting out of control. Finally, the city might be regularly attacked by the phaerimm. The dwarves might decide that the city is doomed anyway, so they start building containment facilities (i.e. the pyramids) as the population dwindles. Alternately, the pyramids might be designed to defend Delzoun's eastern frontier against the phaerimm.

post-Ascore: If this happens, the city has already been abandoned. Someone (could be anyone) decides the ruins make a nice place to build the pyramids. If this is the case, we don't have much to go on, as there is no contemporaneous culture (aside from Mulhorand) from this era that is known to build pyramids.

Absent a review of the above sources, I'd probably go with the "post-Fall of Netheril as Netheril dwindles" idea. I think I like a "contain Netherese legacies" explanation better than "defend against the phaerimm", but it could be a mixture.


On January 19, 2006 Eric Boyd said: That sounds right.

One could argue that was meant to suggest a bound demon lord or the like (or a shadevari as the original question suggested), but it could also be an army of Netherese demon-warriors, etc. That would be the "Netherese legacies" I mentioned above, being deliberately vague.


On January 21, 2006 Eric Boyd said: As written, paladins of Ilmater and Torm can qualify, but not paladins of Tyr. This was an oversight on the part of the designer (me). I would recommend opening the Initiate of Tyr feat to 7th level paladins as a fix.


On January 23, 2006 Eric Boyd said: While I have no idea whether WoTC will decide to do such books again, I can mention the general tenor of remarks at Realms forums in years past from WoTC staff and the audience...

1) Books like the Heroes' Lorebook tend to be of limited utility since they are filled with "good guys" / "alternates to your PCs". Other than to satisfy the curiosity of "gamers who read novels", there don't add a lot of value to individual campaigns.
2) Books like the Villain's Lorebook tend to be of limited utility since many novels end with the bad guy dead, disarmed, or redeemed. In other words, their story has already been told.

My personal opinion:

If there was going to be a book of NPCs, I'd much prefer it to be filled with mid-level NPCs who are generally villains and interesting "role NPCs".

Why mid-level villains? Low-level is very easy for the DM to stat out, so focus on stuff that takes time. High level requires huge stat blocks and I believe high level villain should generally be custom designed by the DM as the "master villain of the campaign."

What are "role NPCs"? These are the innkeepers, stableboys, city guard commanders, etc. that your PCs are likely to meet during an adventure and the DM usually needs on the fly. I'd actually prefer that they be non-exotic (i.e. humans, not disguised tieflings or half-fiend doppelgangers) so that their stat blocks can be reused repeatedly. I'd like their "hook" to be a role-playing one, not a magic item, class combo, or weird race hook.


On January 25, 2006 Eric Boyd said: You think it's an easy answer ;-), but for the life of me, I can't remember.

I don't have the sources handy, but check Skullport, pages 86-87, Ruins of Undermountain: Campaign Guide, page 128, and Ruins of Undermountain II: Campaign Guide, pages 46-63. If there's a reference in there to Ilzimmer, then you know why, but I suspect there is not.

I think my intent was to show the shoddy dealings supposedly upright Waterdhavian nobles do behind the scenes to maintain their economic power. Assume most, if not all, noble families of Waterdeep have similar secrets.


On January 25, 2006 Eric Boyd said: Nope. I'd say he's a minor noble of one of the families ... probably one with land-based trading interests. I think it's good to keep this open ... gives the DM more flexibility.

No objection, just reference Paizo and give the URL for the conversions. Have fun!


On February 2, 2006 Eric Boyd said: Champions of Ruin and City of Splendors: Waterdeep were developed concurrently. The Initiate of Shar feat was developed separately in both. The editor changed the feat in CoS:W to match the one in CoR. The editor forgot to update the table.

In general, you always go by the feat description, not the feat summary.


On February 2, 2006 Eric Boyd said: I wrote this a LONG time ago, so it's 3e and probably error-ridden, but here's what I came up with for the denizens of Southkrypt...

Morg: male vampire hill giant Clr6; Large Undead; HD 18d12; hp 117; Init +5 (+1 Dex, Improved Initiative); Spd 40 ft., Fly 20 ft. (perfect); AC 28 (-1 size, +1 Dex, +9 natural, +3 hide, +6 vampire); Atk +24/+19/+14 (-1 size, +10 Str, +1 magic, +1 weapon focus) melee (2d6+10/19-20/x2, +1 impact unholy huge greatclub) or +14/+9/+4 ranged (-1 size, +1 Dex, +1 racial) (2d6+10, rock) or +22/+17/+12 slam (-1 size, +10 Str) (2d6+10); SA Rock throwing, domination (DC 24), energy drain, blood drain, children of the night, create spawn; SQ Rock catching, darkvision 60 ft., DR 15/+1, +4 turn resistance, cold resistance 20, electricity resistance 20, gaseous form, spider climb, alternate form, fast healing (5 points/round), recoils from garlic, cannot cross running water, susceptible to direct sunlight, wooden stake through heart kills it, command undead (8/day); AL CE; SV Fort +13, Ref +9, Will +10; Str 31, Dex 13, Con -, Int 8, Wis 12, Cha 21, CR 15.

Skills: Bluff +13 (+5 Cha, +8 racial), Climb +12 (+5 +10 Str -3 armor check penalty), Concentration +13 (+8 +5 Cha), Hide +5 (+1 Dex, +8 racial -4 size), Jump +12 (+5 +10 Str -3 armor check penalty), Listen +11 (+1 Wis +8 racial +2 Alertness), Move Silently +9 (+1 Dex, +8 racial), Search +7 (-1 Int, +8 racial), Sense Motive +9 (+1 Wis +8 racial), Speak Language (Common) (2), Spot +15 (+4 +1 Wis +8 racial +2 Alertness). (Total: 6 - 1 (giant base) + 1 * (12 - 2) (large giant bonus) + (2 - 1) * 9 (cleric) = 24)

Feats: Alertness, Cleave, Combat Reflexes, Dodge, Improved Initiative, Lightning Reflexes, Mobility, Power Attack, Spring Attack, Weapon focus (greatclub).

Languages: Common, Giant.

Spells per day: (5/4+1/3+1/2+1; base DC 11 + spell level). Typical spell selection includes: detect magic x2, guidance, resistance x2; bane, cause fear, comprehend languages, obscuring mist, protection from good; bull's strength, death knell, desecrate x2; animate dead, dispel magic, magic circle against good.

Deity: Grolantor; Domains: Death (touch attack 1/day, roll 6d6 (cleric level), if greater than or equal to target's current hit points, target dies), Evil (cast evil spells at +1 caster level). According to Defenders of the Faith, page 94, Grolantor's available domains are Chaos, Death, Earth, and Evil.

Gear: bag of holding (bag 3) (7,400 gp), hand of the mage (1,000 gp), hide armor, +1 impact unholy huge greatclub (32,305 gp). (A 15th level monster is supposed to have 22,000 gp worth of treasure. A 15th level NPC is supposed to have 59,000 gp worth of gear. A 6th level NPC is supposed to have 5,600 gp. Absent a ruling from WoTC, I went with 40,720 gp worth of gear and 18,280 gp worth of treasure. This is calculated as (59,000 + 22,000)/2 = 40,500 and 59,000 - 40,500 = 18,500 gp.)

Wealth: 18,280 gp worth of treasure.

Description: Like most hill giants, Morg has an oddly simian appearance, with overlong arms, stooped shoulders, a low forehead, and thick, overlong limbs. At 11 feet, he stands slightly taller than most adults, but he is somewhat more emaciated than most. Although Morg retains the black eyes and black hair he had in life, the hue of his skin has faded from deep ruddy brown to pale, lifeless white. He still favors layers of crudely prepared hides as garments, although in Morg's case they are fashioned from the hides of gibberlings, norkers, and other humanoids he has dined on.

History and Personality: In his youth, Morg roamed the Sword Mountains as part of a small tribe of hill giants, serving as their shaman. He was driven from the clan by the chieftain's son, who saw him as a potential rival. In exile, he established a lair in the mouth of a great cave over looking the Kryptgarden Forest, which, unbeknownst to Morg, was the entrance hall to the long-abandoned dwarven stronghold of Southkrypt. He eventually fell victim to a vampire who laired within the dwarven halls and sought a powerful servitor. Morg won his freedom, ironically, after his old rival ascended to the position of chieftain and, with two followers, tracked the exile down in order to make an example of him. The trio ended up killing Morg's master, but not Morg himself. Morg turned the tables on them by turning them into vampire spawn under his control. The vampire hill giant shaman and his three undead followers then retreated into the depths of Southkrypt where they have dwelt ever since, largely in gaseous form.

As a vampire, Morg's cunning and penchant for cruelty have grown far beyond his mortal kin. He brooks no rivals to his power, viewing all of Southkrypt as his lair and Kryptgarden Forest as his private hunting preserve. Morg enjoys inspiring terror and fearful obeisance in lesser creatures and thus has enslaved a large tribe of norkers (subterranean hobgoblins) to serve his every whim. Morg views Claugiyliamatar, an ancient green dragon who lairs in depths of the Kryptgarden Forest, as the greatest threat to his power. A long-simmering war between the two has pitted the hobgoblin followers of Old Gnawbones against hordes of gibberlings Morg has bred from transformed forest gnome stock and then unleashed into the forest.

Note that Morg was detailed in Dragon #236, pp. 80-82, but I chose to largely ignore that reference.

Impact: Any bludgeoning weapon enhanced by this ability has its threat range doubled. For example, a quarterstaff thus enhanced scores a threat on a 19-20, and a heavy flail scores a threat on a 17-20. This enhancement does not affect piercing or slashing weapons. (If you roll this property for an inappropriate weapon, reroll.)

Caster Level: 10th; Prerequisites: Craft Magic Arms and Armor, weapon of impact; Market Price: +1 bonus.

Excerpted from Magic of Faerûn, page 140.

Unholy: An unholy weapon is evilly aligned and blessed with unholy power. It deals +2d6 points of bonus unholy (evil) damage against all of good alignment. It bestows one negative level on any good creature attempting to wield it. The negative level remains as long as the weapon is in hand and disapears when the weapon is no longer wielded. This negative level never results in actual level loss, but it cannot be covercome in any way (including restoration spells) while the weapon is wielded. Bows, crossbows, and slings so enchanted bestow the unholy power upon their ammunition.

Caster Level: 7th; Prerequisites: Craft Magic Arms and Armor, unholy blight, creator must be evil; Market Price: +2 bonus.

Excerpted from Dungeon Master's Guide, page 187.

Vampire hill giant spawn (3): CR 8; Large Undead; HD 12d12; hp 78; Init +5 (+1 Dex, Improved Initiative); Spd 40 ft., Fly 20 ft. (perfect); AC 25 (-1 size, +1 Dex, +9 natural, +3 hide, +3 vampire spawn); Atk +19/+14 (-1 size, +10 Str, +1 weapon focus) melee (2d6+10/x2, huge greatclub) or +10/+5 ranged (-1 size, +1 Dex, +1 racial) (2d6+10, rock) or +18/+13 slam (-1 size, +10 Str) (2d6+10); SA Rock throwing, charm (DC 14), energy drain (DC 14), blood drain; SQ Rock catching, darkvision 60 ft., DR 10/silver, +2 turn resistance, cold resistance 10, electricity resistance 10, gaseous form, spider climb, fast healing (2 points/round), recoils from garlic, cannot cross running water, susceptible to direct sunlight, wooden stake through heart kills it, undead; AL CE; SV Fort +8, Ref +7, Will +5; Str 31, Dex 12, Con -, Int 8, Wis 12, Cha 21.

Skills: Bluff +9 (+5 Cha, +4 racial), Climb +12 (+5 +10 Str -3 armor check penalty), Hide +5 (+1 Dex, +4 racial), Jump +12 (+5 +10 Str -3 armor check penalty), Listen +7 (+1 Wis +4 racial +2 Alertness), Move Silently +5 (+1 Dex, +4 racial), Search +3 (-1 Int, +4 racial), Sense Motive +5 (+1 Wis +4 racial), Spot +12 (+5 +1 Wis +4 racial +2 Alertness). (Total: 6 - 1 (giant base) + 1 * (12 - 2) (large giant bonus) = 15)

Feats: Alertness, Cleave, Improved Initiative, Lightning Reflexes, Power Attack, Weapon focus (greatclub).

Languages: Giant.

Gear: hide armor, huge greatclub. (A 8th level monster is supposed to have 3,400 gp worth of treasure.)

Wealth: 3,380 gp worth of treasure.

Note: Vampire hill giant spawn are created by applying the implicit vampire spawn template to hill giants. The implicit vampire spawn template was derived by comparing vampire spawn to a 1st level human commoner and cross-checking it with the vampire template.

On February 8, 2006 Eric Boyd said: Not to disagree, with the lovely Elaine, but in my opinion, as the creator of said Starym Moonblade, I would characterize it as a "former moonblade." It was a moonblade. Then it was corrupted by a god (Moander). Therefore, it's not really a moonblade any more, but obviously it is still referred to as such (and thinks of itself as such).


PS FWIW, if I recall correctly, I developed the Starym Moonblade after Elaine created the concept of a moonblade in Elfshadow / Elfsong, but before she published Evermeet: A Novel. In fact, I may have created it while she was writing Evermeet. In any event, if I had seen her later most excellent Realmslore on moonblades in Evermeet, I might not have created it. Water under the bridge.

On February 11, 2006 Eric Boyd said: My notes have the following information (some is canon, some is speculation, some may have been invalidated by more recent products):

Fochlucan: The college of Fochlucan once stood on the northeastern edge of Silverymoon. After it closed, the college stood empty for many years before being reopened as Utrumm's Music Conservatory. Utrumm's Music Conservatory has since been moved to Southbank, and Fochlucan has been reborn as the House of the Harp. (See Elfsong, pages 10, 171.)

MacFuirmidh: The college of MacFuirmidh once stood on the isle of Alaorn in the Moonshae Isles, south and east of Caer Callidyrr. (See Elfsong, pages 170-171.)

Doss: The college of Doss once stood in the shadow of the High Lady's Castle in the city of Berdusk where Twilight Hall, the base of the western branch of the Harpers, now stands.

Canaith: The college of Canaith now lies in ruins along the northern stretch of the Hillstrail about 70 miles south of Zazesspur, its long-abandoned buildings put to the torch during the Black Days of Eleint in 1347 DR. (See Elfsong, pages 175.)

Cli: The college of Cli once lay within the eastern reaches of Baldur's Gate, but its buildings have long since been torn down and replaced. The only remnant of this school is Elfsong Tavern, an adventurers' drinking-place and hiring house notable for the ghostly elven female voice (once a student at the college) that can be heard from time to time. (See Volo's Guide to the Sword Coast, pages 17-18.)

Anstruth: The college of Anstruth once stood in the heart of Sundabar's trade ward. As recently as 1364 DR, only one building remained, a once-beautiful structure converted into a warehouse. The founding of the Silver Marches confederation and the refounding of Fochlucan in Silverymoon has given renewed energy to efforts by a handful of bards to refound Anstruth. (See Elfsong, pages 154-156.)

Ollamh: The college of Ollamh once stood on Rivon Street in Waterdeep's Trade Ward, where the House of Song, guildhall of the Council of Musicians, Instrument-Makers, and Choristers, now stands, although many mistakenly believe it lay in Castle Ward, where Halambar Lutes & Harps now stands. In 1366 DR, Danilo Thann and members of the above-mentioned guild refounded the college as New Ollamh, located in Waterdeep's Castle Ward in the old Cliffride villas of Heroes' Rest and Stormwatch. (See Elfsong, pages 217, 243, City of Splendors: Campaign Guide, pages 40-41, 46-47, and City of Splendors: Waterdeep, pages __.)


On March 10, 2006 Eric Boyd said: I agree, it's pretty unclear at the moment, and I'm not sure I'd want to be definitive about it until some future project (I have nothing in mind) called for it. (In other words, leave room for further development.)

That said, as an unofficial suggestion for campaigns that need to know immediately, I have a vague recollection that it might have ended up in the hands of Labelas Enoreth, depending on whether you see the human kingdom of Orva being a Netherese survivor state. I also see longevity and "the moment" being mirrors of each other, so this impacts who acquired the portfolio of the original Simbul in the Yuir pantheon.


On May 17, 2006 Eric Boyd said: It's been so long I don't remember what I meant. However, the absence of listed NPCs who are dark elven divine casters of Corellon does not imply one way or the other as to whether he has them or not.

My general rule is that are always exceptions. I try hard never to state absolutes, for fear of constraining future designers (including me!) or creating continuity errors when a future designer is unaware of the statement.


On May 17, 2006 Eric Boyd said: Some of these questions are answered in Dragons of Faerun. I'd rather not trump that source and direct you to it. If you really can't wait, please let me know. DoF should give you new inspiration as to how to run a song dragon or half-song dragon.

Kuje, regarding the 2e->3e continuity of weredragons-> song dragons. I realize that this was probably the intent of the designers of the early 3e Realms. However, it doesn't work very well given all the rules changes introduced. I prefer to think of song dragons as song dragons and not really worry about whether they serve as a good "rules instantiation" for 2e characters described as weredragons. If and when we need to talk about a specific character from 2e who is described as a weredragon, we'll worry about it then.

In other words, there are half-song dragons in DoF. Apologies in advance if this bothers folks, but it's the best compromise I can reach between primacy of 3e rules and continuity of Realmslore.


On May 17, 2006 Eric Boyd said: And just to be clear, I'm not contradicting that association.

I'm simply saying that while song dragons play the same role as weredragons did in 2e, 3e song dragons have significantly different abilities than 2e weredragons that impact the roleplaying of such creatures (e.g. reproduction, descendants, gender, etc.) and not just the rules.

Therefore, I'd suggest that the best way forward is to assume that most 2e weredragons are now song dragons in 3e, but that there are exceptions. (Some 2e weredragons might be represented in 3e as something else. Some 3e song dragons might not have been weredragons in 2e.) In the case of specific weredragons, I'd rather not say until circumstances dictate a decision must be made.

Look at the discussion of Essembra in DoF when it comes out.


On July 5, 2006 Eric Boyd said: I went back and reread Baldur's Gate (the novel) while writing Power of Faerun to make sure I kept consistent. I had both Scar and Eltan resurrected after the events of the novels to account for 3e sources that had them both alive (probably by mistake, but easily rectified as done in PoF).

FWIW, I've always done game design that keeps consistent with the novels and ignores the computer games. Even the novels I don't particularly like.


On July 6, 2006 Eric Boyd said: The Rage is detailed sufficiently for the DM to run a "regular dracorage", the "Year of Rogue Dragons", and a post-Year of Rogue Dragons campaign.

I talked to RLB while working on this book, and I had access to his novel outlines as well.

The book does NOT focus on the events in the Year of Rogue Dragons trilogy, but it certainly covers those events. It very definitely deals with the aftereffects of that trilogy.


On July 6, 2006 Eric Boyd said: We endeavored to remain fully consistent Realmslore-wise, but it's not FR-Draconomicon v3.5e. It's also not the 3e Draconomicon set in the Realms. I like to think of it as a book about the role of dragons (true dragons and their various descendants) and their "supporters" in the Realms. --Eric

On July 25, 2006 Eric Boyd said: The isolationism is a cultural response to the recurring internal threat of infiltration by demons. Although Impiltur's rulers are generally good and noble (worshiping the Triad), they must constantly guard against internal threats to the kingdom's peace and security. As such, the nation has no time for "foreign adventures".

To put it another way, Impiltur views its ongoing situation as equivalent to a large hostile army massed on its borders. (Although there is a significant threat from the Giantspires, the "hostile army" is actually massed within the country's borders in fiendcysts buried throughout the land.) As such, the rulers think first and foremost about protecting their own people against invasion, forcing their isolationist pose.


On August 3, 2006 Eric Boyd said: As Tom mentioned in another thread and I've said repeatedly with respect to the Dawn Cataclysm, the ways (and timeline) of the gods is not linear. All we know is when mortals have interacted with the gods, but even a linear progression of such mortal events does not imply an order among deific events.

I've always considered the events in Dead Gods (Kiaransalee's abduction of the Wand of Orcus and the numerous deaths and rebirths of Orcus) and the events in the Bloodstone Lands (Gareth and company's destruction of the Wand of Orcus) to BOTH be true.

There are many ways to explain the apparent inconsistencies, from timeline manipulation (did the theft occur in the future or the distant path?), to deception (did the visages convince Gareth and company that something happened when it did not unfold in the way they perceived it?), to multiple wands (is one wand an "aspect" of the other?), to interaction (did the actions of Gareth and company weaken Orcus at one of the many points of the demon lord's interaction with Kiaransalee and thereby precipitate one of his defeats?).

Pick one or all or none that works for you in your campaign. I think published Realmslore should continue to be ambiguous as to which is true, if either.


I agree.

H4 is correct. Dead Gods is correct. DD is correct. DoF is correct. IMO, there is not a contradiction.

In other words, Gareth did destroy the Wand. Kiaransalee's agents did seize and hide the Wand. There are several possible explanations for how this is possible (including, but not limited to, the fact that the gods do not necessarily act temporally) and (at least for now) the correct explanation is ambiguous. (At this time, I have no intention of picking an explanation, even assuming there is just one, but plans do change, so I won't promise.) Sometimes, leaving things ambiguous is important to give DMs the most flexibility and to preserve future design space.


On August 3, 2006 Eric Boy said: However, novels or game products that incorporate part of a computer game ARE canon, but only so far as the novel or game product discusses the events in the computer game. In other words, the Baldur's Gate novels are canon, references to such events in Power of Faerun are canon, but the games themselves are not.


On September 27, 2006 Eric Boyd said: Also note that they didn't put Maerimydra where I intended it to be in CotSQ, although the placement is reasonable. Drawing on a my conversation with Ed, I intended it to be under the Moonsea (or nearly so), as you can guess from a close reading of DDGttU.

Basically the only real changes would be to make the connection via Haptooth Hill far less important and to make the infamous "sea drow" of "The Moonsea" part of this settlement (but in a radically different way than the rumors posited in "The Moonsea"). I had this weird idea at the time that the drow might have clear domes in the roof of their cavern popping up into the sea floor. So you could levitate up and stand in air on the floor of the Moonsea.

More on the aftermath of Maerimydra's implosion another day...



On January 21, 2006 Richard Lee Byers said: I came onto this particular project kind of at the last minute, after the artist had already painted the cover painting. Perhaps because the painting was already done, I was told that the book had to focus on a shalarin priestess of Umberlee, so no, I didn't have any input on that essential detail (everything else, however, was my idea), nor do I know why the Priests series dealt with priestesses as well as priests. But hey, why not?

The Rage hit all of Faerûn at the same time. I just didn't have the extra words to include throwaway scenes of dragons tearing the crap out of the southlands, west coast, etc., but trust me, they're doing it.

On July 9, 2006 Richard Lee Byers said: When I write a trilogy, I try to give a sense of closure or at least movement at the end of the first two books. On a certain level, I want you to feel that I told you a complete story, or, failing that, I at least want you to come away feeling that the plot of the overall saga advanced significantly.

At the same time, of course, I want you to be eager to know what happens next, so paradoxically, I'm also going for a sense of non-closure. There's a balance I'm trying to strike between satisfaction and suspense.

I'm not sure I'm being clear here, but maybe an example will make things clearer. In The Year of Rogue Dragons



Book One asks and answers the questions, why is the Rage happening and why is it so bad this time around? Book Two asks and answers the question, how do we stop the Rage? Book Three asks and answers the questions, where do the characters need to go to try the remedy they've devised, can they get there, and will the fix work if they do? So you see, each book resolves elements of the plot and (I hope) makes you feel you got closer to the finish line, but still, you need to finish the whole trilogy to see the big, fundmanetal issues resolved.

I guess that if I'd done the story as a single jumbo volume, maybe I wouldn't have been so intent on structuring it this way (in discrete thirds.) But still, it might not have been so very different, because I still would have plotted it the way most long-ish adventure stories are plotted: the characters overcome obstacles to progress toward their goal, but there are always even more daunting obstacles waiting and the stakes are always going up until you get to the climax.

I think that in a way, knowing you're telling your long story in three volumes can help you pace and structure it. With YoRD, because of the three-book format, I made up my mind early on that each novel would cover four months and each would have its particular questions to raise and resolve. Deciding just that much was a big step forward in terms of shaping the plot.

On July 9, 2006 Richard Lee Byers said: river: WotC does do stand-alone FR novels, as well as series that run longer than three volumes, so it's not like everything's a trilogy.

You're unquestionably correct that most fantasy epics. FR or otherwise, could be condensed. They're gemerally somewhat episodic in structure, and they've got subplots. Lose some of the obstacles the characters need to overcome, dump a subplot or two, and presto: shorter epic. But is this automatically a good thing? If you're trimming stuff that's boring or redundant, then obviously, it's the correct choice. But if you're hacking out stuff that's entertaining, that doesn't necessarily improve the work.

And the tricky part of making this evaluation is, what strikes one reader as repetiive or pointless may please another. The point is often made that you can cut Tom Bombadil from Lord of the Rings (as Peter Jackson did) and the overall plot of the story works just fine without him. But there are plenty of readers who enjoy this part of the novel.


On January 23, 2006 Ed Bonny said: In keeping with the sound philosophy that no stray questions should go unanswered, here are some answers...

The udoxias of the 6th city, Lirremar, was aligned to psychometabolism. It should be noted that Lirremar did not actually survive the tidal wave that destroyed Jhaamdath. Much of the city was scoured by the wave, and its population wiped-out. The little that did survive (a few stone plazas, underground vaults, paved streets) served as the foundation for Hlondath. The udoxias in its vault in the keep also survived. It is unknown whether the yuan-ti have recovered the psionic artifact or even know of its existence. Given the wide area of a udoxias, it seems likely that someone psionic at some time in the history of Hlondath sensed its presence and/or investigated why their psionic abilities were boosted while they were in the city.

Given its militant origins, it is likely that Lirremar was the least religious of Jhaamdathan cities. The fact that Lirremar was the only city at the time whose temple did not have a udoxias could only be taken as a terrible "blow" to the church's prestige. No doubt most of Auppenser's faithful saw it the as a terrible sign of greater imbalances to come and the beginning of Jhaamdath's doom.

The church of Auppenser would not have given up Lirremar because of this. Determined to keep Auppenser in all parts of Jhaamdathan life, they would have dedicated a goodly number of highly devoted, wise, and capable followers there to ensure that Auppenser's message was properly and consistently delivered. To abandon Lirremar would have been an act that created further imbalance, something untenable to most of Auppenser's faithful of the day.

I am sure the more pragmatically minded followers of Auppenser considered Lirremar a mostly lost cause. Such men and woman in positions of power within the church prefered to direct their worthwhile / favored people into the other 5 cities, while dispatching those who showed little promise or those who had fallen out of favor to Lirremar.

In any event, Lirremar would have been a mix of Auppenser's fervent with Auppenser's trouble-makers (rabid abolitionists and anti-expansionists). There would have been very few of those with middle-of-the-road attitudes --- making Lirremar an excellent enviroment for a vibrant church community albeit one with few success stories.

As the centuries passed up until Dharien's coup, I imagine the church Lirremar waned more than it waxed. By the time the tidal wave struck, the church likely maintained a minimal presence in the city.

- Ed

On February 1, 2006 Ed Bonny said: Hi VonRaven,

Here are a few more answers...

Dhinnilith's udoxias was aligned to telepathy. The others were left deliberately ambiguous to allow for DM play in their own campaigns. Perhaps if there is a call for it an updated article about each udoxias will be necessary?

As far as the expanding Jhaamdathan empire, I imagine that regions outside of the realm's borders were always being looked at for settlement if not actually settled. Expansion was a powerful force within Jhaamdath, sort of an evil twin to the balanced psionic side. The psiocracy would likely not have considered these "voluntary relocations" as colonies. Likewise, the psiarchs would probably not have offered the emigrants much protection nor would they have demanded loyalty from the emigrants.

Auppenser's closest divine friend would have been the deity of magic at the time (Mystryl and then Mystra). Outwardly it appeared to be a subserviant relationship with Auppenser being the follower of the deity of magic (much like Azuth to Mystra). I imagine Auppenser to be a pleasant even jovial deity, friendly with those who have given him no reason to think otherwise, but a committed enemy once his friendship (or his ideals) were trampled upon.

Other deities he was most friendly with were Chauntea and Silvanus. His enemies were the foes of freedom, destroyers of peace, and all those who opposed a life lived openly and harmoniously - namely Bane, Shar, Bhaal and Myrkul whose portfolios sought to undermine everything Auppenser stood for. He opposed shadow magic then, and still would oppose it today seeing such magic as an imbalanced, corrupting force forever rooted in evil.

Were Auppenser to awaken in the Realms of today, I imagine he would bristle upon learning of Tyr's appearance after Jhaamdath's fall, and the order Tyr attempted to impose following the chaos of Jhaamdath's undoing. Auppenser was not a rash god, and so would carefully reclaim his place in the "heavens" and on "earth" only after he assessed the world Faerun has become since his sleeping. Cyric would be one of the first Auppenser would identify as a new enemy.

- Ed

On February 3, 2006 Ed Bonny said: Hey Asgetrion!

Thanks for the kind words. Here's my take on the Realms mysteries you bring up:

1) I was wondering if you could share your thoughts and possible ideas on the ancient "ruins of glass" (perhaps "ruins of glassteel"?) in the Farsea Marshes?

Glassteel for those ruins is very much a possibility although you'd need one dedicated high level wizard to churn out that much glassteel! There is also the possibility of the transparent blue tinted stone known as skystone which is mined by the Siremun dwarves of the Firepeaks (the Horde boxset). The Semphari city of Dhazantar has many such glassy spires made of this stone. It is not a stretch that skystone exists in mountains near the Farsea Marshes.

2) There was an ancient kingdom of Orva in the Vast Swamp (detailed in the 'Four from Cormyr'-module). Apparently the residents tampered with portals, and managed to open one into Minauros - flooding their kingdom and thus creating the Vast Swamp. Where did they originally come from? Perhaps they were Jhaamdathan exiles/settlers who managed to find (and misinterpret ;) some lost Imaskari (Portal Lord-related?) lore? Or were they originally Netherese? Maybe they were survivors/descendants of Thaeraevel - the land of sorcerers? What do you think?

As for who settled the area (or more precisely who were the Orvans), it could be Jhaamdathan survivors. I would be more inclined to think it was Netherese survivors as they were more magically apt than the psionic-oriented Jhaamdathans. Among the Netherese survivors was a large number arcane spellcasters who would have been better equipped to build the portal. 4 from Cormyr tells us to go back 2,000 years which is close to the time Netheril fell. It was a possibility that the design for the portal may have been stolen from distant Imaskari ruins.

3) Is it possible, in your opinion, that there were other (maybe elven) kingdoms in the area of the Vast Swamp, prior to Orva, and Thauglor's reign?

Given all the published lore on elves in that part of Faerun, I'd be inclined to say there were no other elven kingdoms. That is not to say an enclave or two did not dwell there for a time.

Hey, why wouldn't you suggest that WoTC would publish all those "Lost Empires Chapter-related" adventures as a collection? I would be more than willing to spend my hard-earned money on some quality Forgotten Realms adventures.

They may show up on the Wizards website one day. Other than that, who knows. Of the ones I wrote up that were not published, there was a fey'ri occupied keep in the ruined elf city of Sunspires in the western High Forest. There was also a Shoon Age underground lab where necromantic experiments were performed on good fey, celestials, and metallic dragons. Adventurers uncovering the site would come across potions of healing and other beneficial potions -- all of which were created by Shoon wizards experimenting on beings of pure good (i.e. removing a unicorn horn for a potion, skinning a gold wyrmling for another potion, etc.). Travis wrote up a Netherese outpost filled with arcane secrets on the Astral Plane.

- Ed

On February 6, 2006 Ed Bonny said: Hey Octa,

I looked up Ankhapur in Empires of the Shining Seas. I see one reference to the city's founding on page 148 where it says "...former colony of ancient Chondath..." Such a vague reference could mean during the time of Jhaamdath or later during the time of Chondath. Dale Donovan was the original designer of that section of Empires of the Shining Seas. Does anyone know if he has he said anything further on the matter?

Jhaamdathan survivors of the tidal wave would have reached out to many gods after the disaster. Auppenser, their own patron deity, was for all intents and purposes dead to them (they had no way of knowing that he was in a Mystra-induced sleep). The Jhaamdathans would have been ripe for picking for almost any deity interested in expanding his/her sphere of influence. Depending on an individual's personal outlook on life, I imagine that many of the gods were first sought out and worshipped in the years following the tidal wave. Tyr, of course, took center stage with his unexpected arrival in the area, and the visible presence of his avatar would have likely steered many Jhaamdathan worshippers to his church.

As for the Emerald Enclave, it should be noted that this druidic group was founded in 374 DR, centuries (and many generations) after the fall of Jhaamdath. A valid Jhaamdathan connection to the Emerald Enclave would be extremely hard to make. Jhaamdathan descendents would be in the Enclave, but even in 374 DR, I imagine they would have little to no historical or cultural ties to their ancestral past.

I had not thought of immigration to Jhaamdath but it must have definitely happened. Jhaamdath was very likely a choice spot for slaves to flee, as the realm had a reputation for fighting slavery. Jhaamdath would never return slaves to any master or country, a fact which might have made it a legendary place for slaves to flee too. I am sure Netherese refugees also fled there or at least passed through.

- Ed

On February 6, 2006 Ed Bonny said: Hey VonRaven,

I imagine the Jhaamdathans to be most akin to ancient Greece prior to any Roman influence. As time went on, the empire would have grown an early Byzantine-like culture in law, worship, education, and archtecture.

As for writing a novel, who knows. I have no plans on it but there is a lot of material here (especially one heralding the return of a certain psionic god)

- Ed

On February 6, 2006 Ed Bonny said: Hi VonRaven,

I would imagine for Auppenser's return, there would need to be enough worshippers to sustain him. At this point, there is not. While a growing awareness of psionics appears to be spreading across the Realms, that does not necessarily mean people will suddenly realize that a psionic god exists. Mystra would not allow Shar to take the psionics portfolio, but that doesn't mean the shadow weave is not already involved. Shadow psionics, with rules directly lifted from the Realms, are discussed in one of the psionic handbooks.

I don't believe the Jhaamdathans openly gave much worship to other gods. They had their patron deity, Auppenser, and he served them well up until the tidal wave. (A situation similar to Netheril and Amaunator)... Chauntea might have been worshipped in outlying farms and villages far from the city, but such worship would have been personal and probably not formalized. There was likely an ever-present cultural pressure to support the patron deity over any other, something which would have also kept other gods from gaining a foothold.

- Ed

On February 21, 2006 Ed Bonny said: Hey VonRaven!

I don't see many (if any) Ghostwise halflings worshipping Auppenser in the same way that derro, mind flayers, and other beings with innate psionic powers wouldn't worship him. It would be similar to any being with innate magical powers. Creatures with innate magic abilities (drow, genasi, beholders, etc.) do not automatically worship Mystra nor are they drawn to her simply for having magical abilities.

Given the expansive drives of the Jhaamdathan people, I could definitely see adventurous types seeking out planar places to expand the realm. That is a great idea of yours! The Astral Plane would be one of them. I imagine centuries of Jhaamdathans living there might "astralize" them into another race (elan or something more Faerunian flavored - think Shadovar?).

The Time of Troubles would be a great catalyst for the return of Auppenser. If, after that unsteady time, people turned away from the current gods, they might have come across long forgotten gods to worship and in time build up a church or a following strong enough to stir the god of psionics to waken.

- Ed

On February 21, 2006 Ed Bonny said: Hey Again VRtD,

The Dream portfolio is a cool possibility. It begs the question, can a sleeping god add to his portfolio? Can someone give a sleeping god a portfolio? To tie into your Time of Troubles idea, Ao could have had plans for a slow return of Auppenser by giving him that portfolio, perhaps forseeing that Auppenser would rise again in a decade or two.

Your ideas are really good. As a god of dreams, Auppenser would have a means to peep in the minds of every sleeping people and learn the events of the Realms. He could even communicate with his followers via dream and set into motion a series of events that would herald his return. That would be a much more dignified return than just waking up. Of course, there would be those who would try to stop that (Shar coming to mind first). And that would make for an exciting story!

- Ed

On February 22, 2006 Ed Bonny said: Auppenser's Realm, eh? I imagine an expansive city scape, tranquil in mood and idyllic in appearance -- filled with gleaming white stone towers, rotundas and paved streets -- all perfectly balanced with an equal amount of woodland "patches," lush gardens and tended lawns. Its residents include peaceful psionic beings such as gem dragons.

I have to get take a look at the Complete Psionic book before I answer the rest of your questions.

- Ed

On March 6, 2006 Ed Bonny said: Hey VRtD!

I have thought a bit about Auppenser and the dreaming/sleep/nightmare additions to his portfolio. It works well for a god of psionics, the art of the mind (mindweave?). It's a very good concept... and if it should happen, who knows where it may lead.

I see a few roadblocks that would be interesting to navigate. What happens if Auppenser wakes up? Does he lose the sleeping part of his portfolio? What is his justification for keeping it? Would he want it once he became conscious?

Unbodied Jhaamdathans: Anything is possible and in the event of Jhaamdath's destruction. Not common with unbodied but probable that it happened at least once.

As for putting a Jhaamdathan outpost on the dream realm, that might be premature as Auppenser was not a god of dreams during the empire. Keep in mind that most surviving Jhaamdathans forsook Auppenser after the empire's fall (the newly comatose god could grant no spells). If Auppenser was to ever get the dreams portfolio, it would likely be centuries after he first went into his coma and had a chance to recover from the crippling blow that placed him in a coma. I could see one or two Jhaamdathan-era monasteries dedicated to Auppenser on the Astral Plane but the dream realm might be a stretch.

If Wizards should ever contact me for some Auppenser or Jhaamdathan work, you will be first on my list to consult!

- Ed

On March 29, 2006 Ed Bonny said: Hey VRtD,

I apologize for not responding more quickly. The past few weeks have been a whirlwind lately - just turned 40 and took a celebratory trip to Vegas being the beginning of that whirlwind. Now to your questions...

Time is an iffy issue for the Realms (or most any setting really) as it inevitably brings along questions of time travel and the potential can of worms that offers. There was that 2e Netheril boxset (Age of Empires?) which had strict limitations on what spells could be used depending on how far one travelled back. And because of that, the Time portfolio can also be also a dicey proposition --- which is probably why it doesn't see much current use in the Realms. I'd prefer to let sleeping dogs lie on this one and not see any god actively take that portfolio. Perhaps Ao does not want anyone to have it?

As far as new portfolios/spheres for Auppenser, I would first use his yardstick for measuring such things -- are they balanced (i.e. nature, magic, psionic)? Or do they, in and of themselves, have imbalance built-in or contribute to imbalance (tyranny, alignment such as good or law, etc.). He tends toward cerebral areas that open one's mind to the possibility of balance (and in terms of spheres/portfolios this could be philosophy, reason, enlightenment). I don't think that he would immediately seek out new spheres (or create them) although he would investigate if anyone took his old ones.

As for Jhaamdathan portals, there is little evidence of widespread use of such. They had them to be sure, psionic portals, but they were probably created and used only by the wealthy and powerful. We've talked about the possibility of an outpost on the Astral Plane here. After that, planar interests would likely have been reigned in by the psiocracy as an undesirable direction to take the realm.

Since Jhaamdath's destruction was sudden and unexpected, I don't see the rise of any one group to plan for preserving its lore during the empire's existence. After all, it had endured for thousands of years, there was no reason to think of that ever ending. With the realm's fall, the rejection of Auppenser, and the widespread chaos that ensued, I don't think any one group could have come come together to preserve much of anything. I could see various isolated Jhaamdathans, perhaps a monastic servant or other devoteee, hiding lore and psionic items for a future generation to discover (sowing the seeds of Auppenser's return?).

Unique psionic items, eh? That sounds like a Dragon article in the making. I'll have to think on that one.

- Ed

On March 31, 2006 Ed Bonny said: Hi Swordsage,

I understand where you are coming from but I'd like to explain my reasoning on this.

As far as the originality of the udoxias: Whether one lives in the real world or plays in a fantasy world, each world will have numerous cultures that interact with each other sharing their culture, technology and magic. I feel this is the same for the Realms where the Netherese mythallar was derived or perhaps inspired in some part by elven mythals. The udoxias are a continuation of that theme.

To make an example of the above, let's look at architecture in the western world. Certain building styles originating in ancient Greece, adopted and transformed by the Romans flourish throughout the world in our modern world in many ways. I don't think anyone who walks the Mall at Washington DC would say the capital city of the US is "unoriginal" because the Washington Monument is an Egyptian obelisk and the Congress building is of stark Greco-Roman origin.

I feel the same way about the udoxias. The Jhaamdathan build upon established notions of "city magic" in Faerun, taking the best that the elves showed the world - and making it their own. In one way, udoxias made for better "city magic" as they serve more along the lines of a personal resource and not a magical defense/power up.

As far as the powering up of the Jhaamdathan Empire with udoxias, this is not really the case. The udoxias are far less powerful than mythals or mythallar. They do not power psionic items for example. Nor do they grant powers free of charge. In keeping with the 3.x rules of DnD, a udoxias allow a character who has taken the requisite feat to contact the udoxias and, once having contacted it, allows the user access to a feat or power provided they swap a comparable one of their own out. Very different power structure than mythals and mythallars.

- Ed

On May 5, 2006 Ed Bonny said: Here's one imagining of classes from the psionic books as they relate to Jhaamdath.

Psionic classes

The classes below speak to the frequency that they were encountered in Jhaamdathan. The overwhelming majority of psionically trained individuals were psions and psychic warriors. The frequency of a class is not an indicator of how popular or respected that class was in society.

Most Common Classes
CORE: Psion, Psychic Warrior, Erudite
PRESTIGE: Elocater, Metamind, War Mind

Uncommon Classes
CORE: Ardent, Soul Knife
PRESTIGE: Divine Mind of Auppenser, Fist of Zuoken (Fist of Auppenser), Monastic Servant of Auppenser, Soul Bow

Rare Classes
CORE: Lurk, Wilder
PRESTIGE: Cerebremancer, Psion Uncarnate, Pyrokineticist, Illithid Slayer, Illumine Soul, Storm Disciple

Shunned/Outlawed or Unknown Classes
PRESTIGE: Thrallherd (outlawed), Anarchic Initiate (Shunned for lack of Balance), Ebon Saint (Unknown), Ectopic Adept (Unknown), Flayerspawn Psychic (outlawed), Zerth Cenobite (Unknown)

On May 16, 2006 Ed Bonny said: Hey VRtD,

I imagine Auppenser would have been on extremely good terms with Mystral, especially since the god of magic valued Auppenser so much as to preserve him with "coma" rather than let him die. As for them being lovers, anything is possible. although they probably kept it on the down low. I imagine Auppenser would have been on friendly terms with Selune and other gods with a similar mindset.

I do not think Auppenser would have had any Chosen. His role as a subordinate was very much like Azuth's. Therefore as a subordinate and a follower of the balance, he would not have upset the balance between himself and Mystryl by putting forth specialized champions.

Auppenser's origins were never fleshed out as much as you would want to hear. I think you'd agree that he merits a good article in Dragon or a few pages in a FR book.

- Ed

On May 22, 2006 Ed Bonny said: Hey VRtD,

Auppenser has always been part of the Faerunian pantheon, and was a greater deity in the service of Mystryl. He was subservient to the goddess of magic, but he was not a servant. More like Mystryl was first among equals. There is nothing written that speaks of any gods in his employ but that doesn't mean there wasn't any... although there would need to be an explanation for what happened to this deity after Auppenser went into his slumber.

I didn't submit anything to Dragon about LEoF. Dragon was not really soliciting campaign specific material that directly applied newly published books. That has since changed with Dragon and we are back to the good old days! :) I did submit some Imaskari artifacts to Wizards for use on their online site but they never got published. I don't see why not as far as a Jhaamdathan great library goes. The astral ruins of Dhinnilith would house the only surviving one, and its contents would theoretically be in pristine condition.

I currently have a Realms article under review with Dragon. It is loosely linked with Lost Empires, but has no connection to Jhaamdath. As soon as I hear about that one, I'll inquire about an Auppenser-Jhaamdathan piece.

- Ed

On May 22, 2006 Ed Bonny said: Hey Pystian,

Nice idea. I could see a few halfling hidden communities secreted away by monastic servants around the Jhaamdathan kingdom, surviving and thriving. Later on in the empire's existence there might have been trouble with the Jhaamdathan expansionists. A community of psionic halflings would be cool, especially if their legacy came from Jhaamdath.

If the Dragon article I reference above sees print, I would put a fair number of those ghostwise halflings in the little known far eastern halfling kingdom of Delmyr (obscure Dragon magazine reference, issue 269, The Hin Nobody Knows, Ed Greenwood). We shall see.

- Ed


On January 25, 2006 George Krashos said: No doubt Ed could furnish you with information on Hunnabar but he (as I) would be ... ahem ... making it up. Eric Boyd and I created Hunnabar during our Fallen Kingdom project. Here are a few of my musings - I trust Mr Greenwood won't mind me playing in his sandbox.

Dominated by the Dragonsteel and Arlspar clans, the dwarven duchy of Hunnabar was formally created witn the establishment of Phalorm, the Realms of Three Crowns (more popularly known today as the Fallen Kingdom, although many other lost realms through the ages have had this moniker attached to them also) in 523 DR and encompassed the south-western section of the High Moor near present-day Dragonspear Castle. Dwarves first settled the underground cavern networks of the southern High Moor region around two thousand years after the establishment of the dwarven realm of Ammarindar, to the east and north. Prior to that many wandering dwarves, most of them clanless, had prospected and mined the region since the time of the Shanataran diaspora, moving northwards to found such realms as Delzoun, Gharraghaur, Besilmer and others lost in legend.

What drew the Ammarindan dwarves to settle the area for the first time were the rare but rich seams of mithral ore that lay deep beneath the High Moor, metal that had been coveted by the Fair Folk of Miyeritar millenia before. Fighting the drow of Eryndlyn, the dwarves of Hunnabar (named for the axe of Hunn "Smokebraids" Dragonsteel, a long-dead champion of that clan ['Hunnabar' is literally translated as Hunn's keen cutter]) took advantage of the chaos caused by a derro "Uniting War", to build the underground fortress of Kanaglym (some details on which can be found in the old paperback FR Atlas), thereby cementing their presence in the area and giving them a defensible base against attacks from other Underdark races and predators. The dwarves of Hunnabar did not have any surface settlements of note until the time of Phalorm, building the sea tower of Ilynth (see FR11 Dwarves Deep - The Fallen Kingdom) and another fortified tower known as Borgan's Hold a day's ride north of present-day Dragonspear Castle. Both were completed by 540 DR. Both are now ruined, the duergar totally obliterating the latter after it had been abandoned (see Lost Kingdoms of Faerûn - High Forest and Old North timelines) - although loremasters say that a forgotten armory of the dwarves survived the onslaught, accessed as it was only by means of a keyed portal. Tomes of lore to be found in the ruins of Ammarindar may hold the secrets to this armory, believed to contain, amongst other things, the hammershield of Dorn "Blackcloak", Faerin's forgegauntlet and a construct known as the stone kuldjhargh. The Sea Tower of Ilynth was destroyed by "fell sorcery" (rumored to be a cabal of Shoonite wizards known as the Mask of Darkness who had fled the fall of that realm in the previous century and established a stronghold somewhere in the lands north of Amn), but its deeper levels remain, many of them accessing the sea of the Sword Coast and believed to be inhabited by kuo-toa, aboleth and worse.

The dwarves of Hunnabar fared badly against aboveground concerted humanoid and troll attacks in the century of Phalorm's existence coupled with increasing underground assaults from duergar. Kanaglym was sacked by duergar in 557 DR whilst much of Hunnabar's battle-strength was fighting alongside other armies of Phalorm against a hobgoblin horde. Weakened, Hunnabar continued as a separate entity of the Fallen Kingdom until 592 DR when troll attacks made their holdings and position in the area untenable. The surviving dwarves travelled north to their kin in Dardath over the next decade, the other dwarven duchy of Phalorm, and lived there until the fall of the realm in 615 DR. Many dwarves of Hunnabar settled in Ammarindar following the fall of the Realm of Three Crowns, but the once-proud Dragonsteel and Arlspar clans were but pale shadows of their former strength and glory. With the eventual fall of Ammarindar in the Year of the Curse 882 DR, it is thought that these clans are both now extinct.

Hope this has been helpful.

-- George Krashos

On March 11, 2006 George Krashos said: I did this list for the Realms-L would you believe nearly 8 years ago ... man, I feel old. Anyway, enjoy.

Ale (VGW/113)
Archenwood Stout (VGD/22)
Ashaben Ale (VGD/182)
Stout (VGW/113)
Bitter Black (ARC/127)(VGD/63)
Bitterroot Beer (VGS/38)
Black Boot Stout (VGD/182)
Black Grog Ale (VGW/39)
Blackwater Stout (VGD/120)
Butternut Beer (VGN/168)
Dragon's Breath Beer (ARC/127)(VGD/63)
Elder Root Stout (VGS/171)
Elminster's Choice (ARC/127)
Flounder Beer (VGW/201)
Golden Sands Basic (ARC/127)
Golden Sands Gold (ARC/127)
Golden Sands Orange (ARC/127)
Highmoon Dark Beer (VGD/108)
Highwater Ale (VGD/108)
Iriaeboran North Brew (ARC/128)
Luiren's Best (ARC/128)
Luskan Black Ale (VGN/127)
Old Dark Ale (VGS/171)
Old One Eye (ARC/128)
Old Smoke Ale (VGD/138)
Purple Dragon Ale ("Suzale") (ARC/128)(VGD/63)
Shadowdark Ale (ARC/128)(VGD/63)
Slaker (VGN/18)
Tanagyr's Stout (ARC/129)
Tantul's Dark (VGD/58)

Exotic Drinkables
Al & Tal's Slurp Syrup (VGW/157)
Elverquisst (VGW/113)
Evereskan Clearwater (VGW/157)
Fool's Thirst Quencher (VGW/157)
Guldathen Nectar (VGW/24)
Rollrum (VGS/18)
Tashlutan Amberthroat (VGW/24)
Thorl Beldarakul (VGW/157)

Spirits & Fortifieds
Almond Brandy - Mintarn (VGW/113)
Almond Brandy - Moonshae (VGW/113)
Best Old Mintarn Whiskey (VGW/153)
Firebelly Whiskey (VGW/57)
Fires of Mirabar Whiskey (VGW/30)
Fruit Liqueurs (VGW/113)
Lantan Blackthroat (VGW/152)
Maiden's Kiss Brandy (VGC/86)
Mead (VGW/113)
Peach Smoothwater Liqueur (VGD/206)
Rubyfire Liqueur (VGD/206)
Sherry (VGW/113)
Whiskey (VGW/113)
Wyvern Whiskey (VGW/153)
Zzar (VGW/113)(VGW/152)

Wines and Ciders
Alurlyath (ARC/130)(VGC/150)
Arabellan Dry (ARC/129)
Berduskan Dark Wine (ARC/129)(VGS/153)
Blood Wine (ARC/129)
Clarry (ARC/130)
Evermead (ARC/130)
Evershimmer (VGN/68)
Fighting Cock Wine (VGN/127)
Firewine (ARC/130)(VGW/113)
Halurskan Wine (VGS/165)
Jalanthar Amber (VGN/206)
Knee-Cracker Cider (ARC/129)
Maerlathen Bluewine (VGW/24)
Moonwine (VGW/24)
Mintarn Wine (VGN/34)
Mushroom Wine (VGN/18)
Neverwinter Black Icewine (VGW/153)
Neverwinter Nectar (VGW/126)
Pearls of the Moon Wine (VGD/182)
Purple Hills Cider (ARC/129)
Saerloonian Special Vat (ARC/130)
Saerloonian Glowfire (ARC/130)(VGN/68)(VGS/46)
Saerloonian Topaz (ARC/130)
Shondath Icewine (VGW/157)
Sluth (VGW/152)
Tashlutan Dragonstongue (VGW/96)
Tethyrian Distilled Dragonsblood (VGW/153)
Utterdark (VGC/87)
Vilhon Cider (ARC/129)(VGC/193)
Westgate Ruby (ARC/131)
Winter Wine (ARC/131)

Key Code Sourcebook
ARC: Aurora's Whole Realms Catalogue
VGC: Volo's Guide to Cormyr
VGD: Volo's Guide to the Dalelands
VGN: Volo's Guide to the North
VGS: Volo's Guide to the Sword Coast
VGW: Volo's Guide to Waterdeep

-- George Krashos

On March 15, 2006 George Krashos said: I can't believe I missed this thread! The original write-up had Imphras V dying at age 12. Somehow, somewhere in Eric's turnover that changed to 4.

Okay, your solution to the problem (twins) is actually a very neat one that I like very, very much. Nice work!

As for your second conundrum, the answer is open to many of the possibilities you outline. Or of course, we can just say that the sages/chroniclers got mixed up and that Imphras V didn't die aged 4, he died 4 years short of attaining the throne (matching the age 12 given in the original write-up and ditching the need for the twins fix). Silly sages!

Dang, can't believe I missed that but we were right on deadline, making last minute changes all the way to final submission. The good thing is that nothing is un-fixable - at least not in the Realms.

Oh, and kudos to you for reading the section so closely. I was beginning to wonder whether anyone cared about minutiae of realmslore anymore...

-- George Krashos

On March 16, 1006 George Krashos said: Actually, the answer is a lot simpler than that - and it comes down to females. Imphras V and Imbrar II are sons of Soarimbrar's elder sister Ilmara. However, Ilmara is the first female born of Imphras II's fourth son Velimbrar's male line (through his son Soarimbrar the Elder). Of all the sons of Imphras II, it is Velimbrar's line that ranks as the 'royal line of succession' simply because up until Ilmara, there is an unbroken line of male heirs. All the other sons of Imphras II (Talryn [died without issue], Lashilmbrar [line culminated with Sambryl], Kuskur [line died with Imphras IV], Elphras [died without issue] and Fylraun [line is found amidst some of the present-day Council of Lords - who are all descended from the Dowager Aunts, the daughters of Fylraun's son Elphras the Younger] had females in their lines before that of Velimbrar. Hence, even though Imbrar II is descended from a female, he is the titular monarch because all of his distant cousins are descended from royal females earlier in the chain than he is. Should he die without issue, then the line of succession would revert to the oldest male in the line of Fylraun, currently Lord Helimbraun of the Council (who also happens to be a half-elf and older brother to Lord Silaunbrar [see "Unapproachable East, p.191]). Nice and simple, eh?

-- George Krashos

On July 26, 2006 George Krashos said: In addition to Eric's cogent observations I can only add that prior to the break-up of Impiltur in 926 DR, when the Paladin-Kings of the Elethlim Dynasty ruled, Impiltur was much more pro-active in the region being a bastion of civilization (remember, no Vaasa and Damara at this time) and having a strong leadership prepared to "lead the way" in the fight against the fiends. That's why we get events like "The Scouring" and "The Harrowing of Nord".

With the re-establishment of the realm in 1097 DR, King Imphras "the Great" continues this theme, evidenced by his participation in the Theskian battles against Thay. It's only when Imbrar is lost that Impiltur begins to move toward insularity. Their rulers from this time are plagued by problems (Imphras II's madness, Lashilmbrar's paranoia, Rilimbrar's self-doubt and Sambryl's hamstrung ruling system) so Impiltur can't project itself as a regional power because such direction and leadership is lacking.

With the coronation of Imbrar II however, this is all likely to change. On the Paizo boards I described him as something of an "Alexander the Great" figure, poised for many things, and I definitely see him bringing the kingdom out of its isolationism - if given the chance.

As for Uthmere, it was originally founded as a feifdom of Impiltur and has been claimed as part of that kingdom's territory for centuries. After the Kingless Years, it retained its independence, despite the overtures of Imphras "the Great", and values its independent status highly. Whilst they would welcome alliances and treaties with realms such as Impiltur, they would be unlikely to request direct aid - fearing that this would be the first step in their absorption and annexation by the "big boys".

-- George Krashos

On July 27, 2006 George Krashos said: As someone who's studied the Classics, I sometimes forget that Alexander is looked at in terms of his achievements at their zenith. No, I'm talking more about the eager, confident, war-hardened Alexander about a day before he marched off for Persia. So yes, I'm talking about an Alexander-type attitude, not in terms of achievements. Imbrar II is not only a warrior, but a keen student of history. He knows just how big Impiltur got in its glory days and the major military expeditions undertaken by previous monarchs. All I can say is that he's likely to glance west to Tsurlagol pretty swiftly and possibly assert Impiltur's ancient claims on Procampur also. The Great Dale beckons also, especially with the recent defeat of the Rotting Man and the weakening of the Circle of Leth. Uthmere is definitely in his sights.

But first, there is the pesky matter of those hobgoblins. Good thing he's on good terms with Gareth Dragonsbane of Damara.

-- George Krashos

On July 28, 2006 George Krashos said: You have to understand that in its heyday, Impiltur did control the lands west and east. In the time of King Meldath "the Mighty" of the Mirandor Dynasty they controlled all of the Dragonshoulder (the area west of the Gray Forest and south of the Earthfasts) and even made some incursions into the Vast.

Later in Impiltur's history, during the time of King Bellodar I, "the Conqueror", of the Durlarven Dynasty, Uthmere (founded and settled by Impiltur some 40 years earlier) organised the "Great March" east into the woodlands of Lethyr, demading the fealty of the human settlers there and ending up on the plains of Ashanath, claiming this territory also. The expedition he sent across Lake Ashane was never seen again. Of course, Impiltur didn't hold onto this territory for that long - later, weaker kings coupled with the fact that these lands were real frontier territory meant that they drifted out of Impilturian influence within a generation or two.

But the bottomline is that Imbrar II has seen the old maps of his predecessors and seen how powerful and 'great' Impiltur was. Is he wrong to exercise his ambitions? Maybe, maybe not. Only time will tell.

-- George Krashos

On September 16, 2006 George Krashos said: The text takes precedence over the map. Cartographers in the Realms are notorious for their mistakes.

Now, as to the 1097 DR date, yes that whole paragraph is a blunder. Not just for that date, but the one preceding it also. Consider this chagrined official errata:

Impiltur was founded in the Year of Splendor which happens to be -74 DR, not -72 DR.

Modern-day Impiltur was founded in the Year of the Gleaming Crown (1097 DR) as you noted, not the Year of the Dawndance. The Year of the Dawndance is when Imphras defeated the hobgoblins.

I'll go slink off into a corner with my tail between my legs now.

-- George Krashos

On November 28, 2006 George Krashos said: Ahh, our seminal Fallen Kingdom work. Still so elegant and all-encompassing. Of course, to acknowledge all of the Illefarn references we had to blow up and rebuild the place a couple of times.

The first Illefarn is the major elven realm given most detail in "Cormanthyr". The notation you attribute to an 'Illefarn 2' operates from a false premise. Illefarn as a cohesive elven nation did indeed fragment into smaller kingdoms in -1100 DR, but there was no Illefarn 2 formed during this period. Simply, the former ruler hung around in the area (he did spend some time in Evermeet but pined for his home woodlands) and continued to live on with a group of loyal vassals and retainers until slain as noted. He would flit from Iliyanbruen to Ardeep etc. as a revered elder and roving arbiter of conflicts but with no ruling authority. Given that the coronals of Illefarn were selected and not hereditary, this isn't surprising.

The 'real' Illefarn 2 was the alliance of moon elven Ardeep and dwarven Dardath in 342 DR following their common alliance to destroy the orc horde that overwhelmed Athalantar. It was this 'Illefarn' that joined Phalorm, the Fallen Kingdom.

There actually was an Illefarn 3 but it existed for an eye blink in the handful of years after the fall of Eaerlann and the transformation of Ascalhorn into Hellgate Keep. Following the fall of Eaerlann, groups of elves joined their kin in the Ardeep forest (originally having intended to keep heading west to Evermeet). There they took pause and decided to re-found Ardeep as an elven nation that they linked to ancient Illefarn - hence Illefarn 3 (no elven 'realm' having existed there since the fall of Phalorm in 614 DR).

This 'kingdom' lasted only a few short years as it couldn't exist without significant contact with humans. Given the events of Hellgate Keep, there was (understandably) significant anti-human sentiment among the elves and after an uneasy period most of the Eaerlanni elves left for Evermeet, reducing Illefarn 3 once more to a few groupings of moon elves who identifed more with Ardeep than ancient Illefarn.

There you have it. Hope this has been useful.

-- George Krashos

On November 28, 2006 George Krashos said: Umm, there was no Illefarn in -339 DR. Only its scattered vassal kingdoms. However, to outsiders and arrogant Netherese, Illefarn would still be considered to exist in its -1100 DR incarnation. They wouldn't know about the inner political workings of the now defunct realm. Note that term Illefarn we are using here is in terms of kingdoms. Illefarn was also very widely used as a regional descriptor. Certainly so by the Netherese.

-- George Krashos

On November 28, 2006 George Krashos said: I assume you mean 342 DR. Umm, why does this entry make you think that there was an Illefarn with some sort of organisation before that time and after -1100 DR? If it's the use of the term "Council of Illefarn", don't be misled by the seemingly obvious connotations of that term. The Council of Illefarn was a gathering of the elves and dwarves and some trusted humans to address the question of the burgeoning human population of the Sword Coast North, trade, what it meant for the dwarven and elven settlements in the region and how they could best co-exist without resorting to open conflict. Like I said, whilst humans as far away as Netheril may have thought that Illefarn continued to exist past -1100 DR (and likely it suited the elves to have them continue thinking that or else the area became too attractive for large-scale Netherese immigration), as a cohesive, unified realm it did not.

-- George Krashos

On November 28, 2006 George Krashos said: Hmm, considering I wrote that entry I can tell you that 'long fragmented' refers to the Illefarn that was dissolved in -1100 DR. You are right about the sub-kingdoms existing after that but they were independent, albeit allied generally through familial and racial ties. A realm of Illefarn after -1100 DR? Nope. Not until 342 DR. But hey, go with whatever suits you.

-- George Krashos

On December 23, 2006 George Krashos said: My 'promotion' may not be so straightforward, Wooly dearest.

As for some snippets of realmslore, here are some thumbnail sketches of monarchs of Impiltur from the Mirandor, Durlarven and Elethlim dynasty respectively. Enjoy.

Mirandor: Forlath, "the Bawd"
Reigned: 406/411 Lived: 368/411

Younger brother of Auminath II, Forlath had none of his brother's troubles nor unfortunately his father's wisdom and good sense. Never more comfortable than at a feast or a revel, he indulged his sybaritic fancies with the host of "hangers on" that a prince attracts and cared little for any serious thoughts or deeds. On the death of his brother, the power brokers at court crowned him reluctantly. They hoped that the responsibility of rule would temper his brash personality and weakness for "base urges". Their hopes were quickly disappointed as Forlath's coronation feast lasted for a tenday and his days were passed in idle pursuits such as feasting, wenching and hunting. Married early in life to the rather plain Princess Besmra, daughter of King Anglond of Cormyr, Forlath evinced no affection for his wife and it is doubtful that he visited his wife's bedchamber after their wedding night. It is known that he fathered some three daughters and two sons to no less than four different women, ranging from a festhall girl to a powerful noblewoman and head of her house, but these offspring were never acknowledged during Forlath's lifetime. Forlath was slain by the four younger sons of the Thorndaer minor noble family whilst out on a hunting trip. After learning how their sister had been seduced and dishonoured by the king they sought revenge, culminating in them filling the royal person with arrows one warm, summer morn.

Durlarven: Bellodar II
Reigned: 626/642 Lived: 583/642

Not as ambitious as his father, or as warlike, Bellodar II was a petty, vindictive monarch with a sense of paranoia. This trait was exacerbated by the manner in which he came to the throne, and his actions against House Orbil were ruthless in their simplicity and cruelty. Throughout his reign he kept a close eye on the local populace and ambitious nobles through an organization of spies known as the Eyes in Shadow that he created and put into place for his personal security. Regal in manner, Bellodar II maintained the status quo during his reign and the kingdom made no real mark on the lands around the Easting Reach. He did rouse himself for one military campaign against the independent-again Chessagol but was bought off by a royal marriage and the huge dowry of Princess Elthia who wed his son the Crown Prince. As he grew older his paranoia increased to the point that everyone, including his family, feared his stony regard. When he executed his youngest son Hathdar in 640 DR for supposedly plotting against the throne, despite the young man's protestations of innocence, it is said that his wife never spoke to him again, praying nightly to Beshaba to honor him with her (ill) favor. He died soon after in his middle years, the victim of a "brainbolt" (stroke), feared and unloved by all. It is said that his family and courtiers were too scared to enter his bedchamber on the day he died, fearing that if he recovered, he would visit horrors upon them for having seen him in that weakened, dying state. He died alone and few if any mourned his passing.

Elethlim: Beldred I, "Fiendslayer"
Reigned: 844/865 Lived: 816/865

Young when he came to the throne, as were all the Elethlim monarchs, Beldred I was a firebrand in his youth, leaving the kingdom and travelling to distant lands, including the realms of Tethyr, Calimshan and Cormyr. He made a vibrant impression on all of them and forged strong ties with the rulers of Cormyr and Tethyr. It is said that the future Queen Sybille the Great of Tethyr fell in love with him as only a ten-year old can, when he visited the court at Faerntarn and gave her a pet kitten as a gift. Called back to the realm with the death of his father, Beldred I found that the wanderlust of his youth did not sit well with the responsibilities of rule and the role of king. He chafed at having to sit through tedious court functions, meetings with his Council of Advisers and other tasks requiring the king's personal attention and sought every opportunity to depart his realm, whether to ride to war or engage in diplomacy at foreign courts. Ambitious and wishing to leave a stronger Impiltur behind after his reign, Beldred I staked a claim to his uncle Samar's throne when Velprin's monarch died childless, leaving the throne to his nephew Tholeam in 846 DR. Tholeam was Samar's dead brother's son, while Beldred was his sister's. The senior members of Velprin's court considered the claim of the male line the stronger and so Tholeam's claim was upheld, much to Beldred's chagrin. He had spent several months in Velprintalar, lavishing gifts on nobles and other important personages (who quite liked the king but found his companions straitlaced, stuffy and altogether too religious for their liking). Over the course of the rest of his reign, it is doubtful whether Beldred I spent more than four years in total in the realm proper. He fought a three-year war against Chessagol for alleged assistance to pirate and bandit raids on Impiltur, led "the Scouring", a year-long campaign to eradicate pockets of fiends in the Rawlinswood, undertook numerous visits to the courts of distant Cormyr and Tethyr and even traveled to far-off Silverymoon and Ascalhorn ere its fall. It was in Ascalhorn that Beldred met and befriended the mage Soargar and offered him the long-vacant post of Mage Royal, which had lapsed with the death of King Forvar II in 726 DR. Soargar accepted the offer and proved a wise councilor and loyal servant of the realm. Beldred died suddenly in Tethyr after celebrating the marriage of his son and namesake to Princess Andreane of Tethyr, eldest daughter of Queen Sybille the Great. His son and daughter-in-law took the magically preserved body of the king back to Impiltur for the royal funeral.

-- George Krashos


On January 27, 2006 Lisa Smedman said: On to your questions...

Lady Penitent trilogy

Halisstra's going to look very different from her original (drow) appearance. After her transformation by Lolth, she's no longer able to do many of the things she was before, but the transformation has given her some really scary abilities. (At least, as currently envisioned by this author; remember, I'm still in the first-draft stages of his novel.) Watch for Halisstra's new appearance on the cover of book 1 of the trilogy. I haven't seen any cover art yet, but I've talked over a concept with my editor. I think the end result is going to look really cool.

House of Serpents trilogy

Yup, Arvin and Karrell were definitely planned as a continuing item. The inspiration for the dynamic between them came from a science fiction novel I read years ago (I'd give you the title, but it's still in a box somewhere, since I recently moved) that has a great "guy meets girl, girl irritates guy to no end, guy eventually falls in love with girl" sequence in it. I was trying for a similar feel with Arvin and Karrell. Arvin starts off as such a lonely guy, I figured he needed someone to care about (and to care about him).

As for psionics, I deliberately went with a different "feel" than has been seen in previous AD&D products. I wanted to put my own stamp on the psionics system and make it more mystical yet at the same time grounded in the body. My take is basically a riff that blends chakras, and yoga, and tai chi, and meditation as its starting points. I rationalized this mix, in the trilogy, as an "eastern" variant of psionics. I think I came up with something that's quite a contrast to the more "traditional" way psionics portrayed-which always struck me as a surreal experience with a feel much like immersion in a computer-generated virtual reality. Gamers can choose whichever flavor they like best; the game mechanics remain the same, in either case. (Although the mechanics did change, midway through my writing of the trilogy, so I'll blame any mechanics "glitches" in my novels on that.)

Smaragd (please don't ask me to pronounce it since I don't have the requisite forked tongue!) was a place I had fun fleshing out. It's also got the variant spelling Smargard. I used, as my starting point, the description on page 103 of the Manual of the Planes. For those who don't have that book, the sum total of that description is as follows:

"The 74th layer is home to Merrshaulk, the yuan-ti deity. It is a realm of ever-shifting colors, moist jungles, acid rain and fermenting poisons. There may be no jungle floor at all, just layer after layer of darker and dimmer forest canopies."


On February 2, 2006 Elaine Cunningham said: Yikes. That dilemna is a bit thornier than it appears at first glance. Forgotten Realms elves do not have 21st century, pc sensibilities, nor do moonblades. The Drizzts, Liriels, and Eilistraees of the world have given us outsiders a rather skewed view of the drow, and we're far more willing to give an individual drow the benefit of the doubt than folk who have reason to know that 99,999 times out of 100,000, you can't go wrong assuming the worse about a drow.

Each moonblade has a distinct, unique history. How this sword responds would have a lot to do with the previous wielders and the powers they lent the sword. I think you could make a case for going either way.

Another sticky issue involves FR elven genetics. According to the game rules, elves are not half this, half that. They take after one parent or another, so if your follower of Eilistraees looks like a drow, by FR rules he or she IS a drow. Of course, you can choose not to follow this convention in your own campaign, and however you choose to handle it, it wouldn't make much impact on the sword's response.

I'm not sure how I'd approach a story of this nature, other than knowing that I'd have to add some sort of ironic twist. :) I'd probably be inclined to go for a difficult ending rather than a feel good, can't-we-all-just-get-along resolution. Too easy. Not enough dramatic tension. An important aspect of tragedy is the sense of inevitability, and the situation you set up suggests a tragedy in the making.


On February 2nd, 2006 Elaine Cunningham said: Another thorny issue. The swords possess a sentient, gods-given, that allows them to approve worthy wielders. Doing this requires a deep insight into the heart, mind, and even the future of the elf in question. Does this same process extend to every opponent the wielder faces, to the same extent? I'd have to say no.

"Innocence" is a relative term. The people a warrior faces in battle are not all evil, just because they're on another side or an issue--or more to the point, are obliged to follow a particular leader. A sword that would pick and choose where it would allow you to strike would be worse than useless in a melee. But try to follow stragglers back to their cottages and slaughter them, their families, and their cattle, and you could expect to get zapped.

Moonblades don't translate very well to game terms. My fault entirely--ELFSHADOW was my first book, and I had no idea these things would catch on as they did. I'll say it: They are too powerful. The notion that the gods watch and judge every time a wielder unsheathes a moonblade would make them far more than they were ever intended to be.

Each sword is unique, a product of its wielders. While they cannot be turned to evil purposes, there is room for the wielders to make judgement calls and hard decisions. Moral dilemnas come to all who hold themselves to a high standard of morality. This is the nature of existance, and I believe it is true for the Realms, as well--magic swords and paladins notwithstanding.

On February 8, 2006 Elaine Cunningham said: You don't HAVE to change your story idea at all. If you want moonblades to behave this way in your campaign (or story), then there's no reason why they can't. People do variations on the Realms all the time.

I consider this a fairly complicated metaphysical question. What is soul, what is spirit, what is the nature of the afterlife? Are the "souls" of former moonfighters sitting around in some tiny parallel dimension created by an individual moonblade, playing cards and waiting for the last person in their line to die so they can go to Arvandor? Absolutely not. To my way of thinking, something of a former wielder lingers in the moonblade--an energy, a bit of magic--that is deeply personal and powerful enough to add a new ability to the moonblade's magic. In some cases, the moonblade's magic can provide a Gate through which a manifestation of the spirit of former moonfighter can pass. This manifestation is most likely to take the form of dreams or visions, but in a few cases, a ghostlike entity that can interact with the physical world.

I can't answer this, as I haven't read this particular game supplement and had no idea it dealt with moonblades. I'm very, VERY glad you mentioned it. The moonblades, a concept created for my novel Elfshadow, form a pivotal theme in an ongoing series of novels. Note the term "ongoing." I planned to develop moonblade lore in the next Songs & Swords book. If I have to rework my story, it's better to find out now, rather than lose months of work because the rug of moonblade lore has been pulled out from under the plot.

You don't have to follow the published lore in your campaign, but I DO. So trust me, I feel your pain.

On February 8, 2006 Elaine Cunningham said: I couldn't agree more. A magical sword is a compelling fantasy trope, and creating a unique history for a sword can be a particularly enjoyable bit of worldbuilding.

Moonblades are a complicated and admittedly brutal version of King Arthur's Excaliber. They were intended to choose a king or queen. That is their intended function, period. No one who is NOT capable of ruling, no matter what their alignment or character might be, can wield a moonblade. There are very few active swords, and every wielder is considered a possible heir to Evermeet's throne, in the event that the Moonflower family should die out. Trust me, the elves keep track of the moonblades and their wielders. These swords have a very specific purpose, and the elves do not take kindly to the notion that they can be shoehorned into other uses.

It's an interesting theory.

A story that establishes the Starym Moonblade as a myth... Hmmm....

This is an intriguing notion. How about a cross-genre story, one that brings Jack Bauer to the Realms to "question" Volo about his sources?

On February 9, 2006 Elaine Cunningham said: Hi, Von Raven. Thanks for the kind words.

Yes, the Halruaa trilogy was an interesting departure. I'd never written a trilogy before, so a big part of the challenge was figuring out how to write self-contained stories that would nonetheless fit into a larger story arc. It was definitely a learning experience, and one of the most important insights it yielded was how much I have yet to learn! I enjoyed writing Matteo's story. He was, to all intents and purposes, a paladin, but he had to muddle through the way the rest of us do: dealing with moral dilemmas and difficult choices.

You asked about future writing plans. There are no plans at this time to pick up the story told in EVERMEET. As for gnomes, I'm probably too tall to get into the right frame of mind, and since the last four books I wrote focused on elven characters (Windwalker; the two Changeling books: Shadows in the Darkness and Shadows in the Starlight; and The Blood-Red Harp, the EverQuest book), it may be that a break from elves is in order. I'd have to say that I'm more in a werewolf place these days.

What I DO plan to write is at least one new short story for inclusion in a collection of my Forgotten Realms short stories, and the sixth and final book in the Songs & Swords series. That's it. I'm not saying I WON'T write another FR story, just that there's nothing else under contract or discussion.

At present, I have several ongoing projects. Shadows in the Starlight, a contemporary mystery with dark fantasy elements and the second in a series by Tor books, was released in January, and I'm waiting to hear about plans for the third book. I finished revisions to the EverQuest novel, which is scheduled for a September release. This week I'm finishing up a 30,000-word novella for a four-author anthology of "paranormal romance." My story is a mystery with a romance subplot, featuring a woman who worked in the discontinued "Star Gate" program--a real-world government attempt at psychic spying. Once the first draft for that goes in, I'll be turning my full attention back to the historical novel I've been researching and writing for several years. I plan to get that wrapped up this month, then I'll get to work on FR stuff: the short stories and the Songs & Swords novel. The stories are due in late spring, the first draft is due in early 2007. I plan to do a writing blitz and turn it in several months early.

And that's pretty much my life between now and June. I have several projects in mind, but I'm not sure what I'll be working on next.

On February 15, 2006 Elaine Cunningham said: To qualify, Arilyn's sword has been acting up for some time. In this book, this issue will come to resolution. That's something that has been in the planning stages for a long, long time. I don't plan to abandon this.

But the moonblade lore has developed a life of its own, and some of the things I'd planned to do with it are no longer possible. I will definitely have to delete an intended subplot. While I'm not going to change Arilyn's relationship with her sword from the path I'd intended to take, I'm going to downplay the lore of moonblades in the overall story.

I'd also intended to do an extensive history of the moonblade page for my website, a reference for folks who are interested in the topic. Not sure this is a good plan.

::sigh:: But let me think this over. Right now my head's too deeply into other projects to think this issue through. It might be possible to adjust to the game lore. I've definitely made larger adaptations, such as when the 3E changes to rules on drow magic completely blew away the underlying premise of my first two Liriel books: her determination to bring her drow magic to the surface. The only reasonable way I could think of to deal with this was to write the rule changes into the plot. Maybe something could be done with the moonblade lore. At this point, my gut feeling is no.

A question: If the swords are so easy to subvert, why hasn't the entire elven nation risen in revolt against a royal family chosen by so fragile and corruptible a method?

Heh. Maybe there's a story hook in there.

On February 16, 2006 Elaine Cunningham said: Was the Craulnober moonblade subverted, or did Elaith simply make that assumption? He felt a sensation of gathering power and heat from the sword, but did he misinterpret what was happening? He never did try to claim the moonblade after its restoration, because he assumed the outcome. Is it possible that he was wrong?

Just before Elaith drew the sword, he and the Lantanner were discussing the problems of testing the effect of the mechanical device. It was established that they really had no way of knowing whether or not the device would worked as intended. It is quite possible that it did not.

At the end of the story, Elaith was temporarily overcome by despair, and he welcomed the thought of death. But when reminded of his responsibilities, he took action that indicated an intention to honor these responsibilities.

Makes you wonder, doesn't it?

On February 16, 2006 Elaine Cunningham said: My final word on moonblade lore:

The original concept of moonblades, the defining motif in the life of one of my primary characters and the focal point of an ongoing series of novels, has been adapted by game designers and other writers to the point where my original intent (not to mention future plans) are no longer relevant.

According to the game lore and Richard Baker's short story in Realms of the Elves, moonblades can be wielded by gold elves. They can be turned to evil purposes. They have little or nothing to do with issues of royal succession. They are no longer hereditary. The only criteria is "worthiness," which is a vague, catch-all term that could arguably include any good-aligned character. They can be wielded by non-elves. They don't develop a unique character that reflects a family's talents, values, and challenges: they have random and possibly contradictory powers that can be rolled up from tables.

Well, okay. None of this is "wrong," it's just very different from the concept I've been developing over the past fifteen years in a series of books and short stories. But it is what it is. Adapting to changing situations is one of realities of writing in a shared world. Let's move on.

On February 17, 2006 Elaine Cunningham said: Again, the "perfection" of Zaor and Amlaruil is very much a matter of perception. I certainly didn't view either character in that light; indeed, their complicated relationship was intended, in part, to portray them as being (for lack of a better word) more "human."

I didn't mean to blow off your comments, and I hope you didn't read my response as such, but long experience has taught me that it's usually best to let the books speak for themselves. Also, I did read the other EVERMEET thread, and most of the issues raised seemed to be a matter of personal viewpoint. If a someone feels that a character who has a sexual relationship outside of marriage is tarnished beyond redemption, there's not much room for discussion. I'm a former history teacher, so I could name enough royal (and papal) mistresses and illegitimate offspring to challenge the notion that adultery carried a death sentence in medieval Europe--at least, where kings were concerned. But this argument, too, speaks to a particular viewpoint. Obviously you feel strongly about this matter; in such cases, there is little point in discussion. I grew up in a conservative fundamentalist environment, and I understand that certain issues can become a very powerful lens.

While I respect your viewpoint and have no desire to change it, perhaps a bit of backstory might add another facet to the characterizations. EVERMEET is, at heart, an Arthurian novel. The ordeal by sword, the otherwise great king whose personal life is, shall we say, less than straightforward, the legendary queen. Amlaruil reflects elements of both Gwenevere and Morgan le Fey. She is the magic-wielding kinswoman who owns the king's first love and bears his child, but she is also the true queen, and she was recognized as such at her first meeting with Zaor.

So when Zaor was confronted by Amarillis demands, his conflict was based on a series of moral dilemnas, not simply upon the love he and Amlaruil shared. She'd already been acknowledged by his moonblade. They were already joined in a very deep sense--the moral and spiritual equivalent of marriage. Ceding to Amarillis demands and marrying Lydi'aleera was not only a violation of this union--moral bigamy--but also a repudiation of the moonblade's acknowledgement of Amlaruil. The moonblades' purpose was to recognize a royal family, and it was abandantly clear that this purpose had been achieved. The Amarillis demands subverted the process. But no canny politician would make such a demand unless he could back it with powerful support and a legal loophole that lent a certain legitimacy to his demands. Zaor felt that no matter what he decided, he would be betraying Evermeet in one sense or another. It was a difficult decision for many reasons, not just because he loved Amlaruil.

So it was Amlaruil who made the decision, and it is my opinion that she made a mistake--an opinion that was tacitly reinforced throughout the rest of the book. She was Evermeet's queen, but she turned away from her duty and destiny in a tragic, impulsive decision. Amlaruil was pregnant at the time, and any woman who's ever dealt with the first-trimester emotional roller coaster was probably nodding in recognition when she read that passage. But this goes beyond hormones: Amlaruil was proud. She wanted Zaor to choose her for herself, not for the child she carried, and her pride caused her to overreact. I think Amlaruil is a great queen, but she is far from perfect. She went a little nuts in her grief over Zaor's assassination: she exiled her own daughter, ordered that the moonblade Amnestria carried be dismantled (tampering with an artifact is a HUGE no-no...), and carried a potentially lethal grudge against her half-elven granddaughter, Arilyn Moonblade.

Zaor had reason to be wary of Lydi-aleera, first from the first. She and her brother declined to undergo the test of the moonblade; instead, they used blackmail to achieve royalty. It's LEGAL to decline a moonblade, but it's very much like "taking the fifth:" there's a presumption of guilt involved. If someone doesn't attempt to claim a family moonblade, the assumption is that he (or she) is pretty sure he won't live to brag about it. Big strike against her right there. Lydi-aleera was hardly a shy, demure elfmaiden. Her conversation with her brother showed that she was hardly under his thumb, and was every bit as manipulative and ambitious as he. She cared so little for Zaor that she was willing to let him die rather than warn him of danger. She blackmailed Zaor into marrying her and blackmailed Amlaruil into providing a love potion. She committed rape through magical means, and in the process, caused a noble elf to act so greatly against his conscience that he took his own life in remorse. She was willing to risk the almost certain death of her son against the very slight chance of covering her own ass and concealing her lies. Zaor never spoke of his life with Lydi-aleera, but his silence indicated that her private conduct was more of the same. Zaor quickly realized that a mistake had been made; he didn't "withhold affection" from Lydi-aleera so much as try to ensure that the offspring of such an elfwoman would not inherit Evermeet's throne.

As for the quote about "Amlaruil IS Evermeet," this was not intended to be a statement of fact. It's the sort of hyperbolic compliment commonly used in talking about royalty. Read some of the courtly verse dedicated to Elizabeth I, and you'll have a better idea of the context.

On February 28, 2006 Elaine Cunningham said: This does seem to be a favorite strategy. When we were writing CITY OF SPLENDORS, Ed suggested (tongue in cheek) that tucking a rousing elven orgy among the pages of the ms was just the thing to make the editors a) expel coffee through their noses and b) give them something to cut, thus enabling them to feel that they'd done their jobs.

And as I mention in Ed's thread one time, during a discussion of editorial cuts, I mentioned an exchange from THE MAGEHOUND that ended up on the cutting room floor. Tzigone, who was training as a mage, was supposed to be copying a spell onto sheets of parchments. Instead of doing it by hand, she tried a cantrip. Things didn't go well, much ink was spilled on parchment and elsewhere. Matteo came in and inquired about the damage. No loss of life, Tzigone responded, unless you include parchment, in which case she'd "buggered more sheep than a Calishite shepherd." This phrase was cut. No large surprise there. But Ed advised me that I should have made an issue of this, and insisted that I "felt very strongly about sheep buggering." It would have been cut regardless, but he argued that the editors would have been so appalled they'd be less inclined to cut elsewhere.

The things authors do to amuse themselves. :)

Moving on. Since we're all bard-lovers here, perhaps you'll permit me to speak to a bardic issue that frequently crops up in fantasy. For the record, "strum" is probably not the best verb to apply to harping. It means to sweep your fingers or a plectrum (aka "pick") over the strings. Guitars (yartings, in the Realms) are frequently strummed. I suppose this term could also be applied to lutes, though real-world lute technique doesn't include the sort of rhythmic "strumming" common to certain styles of guitar playing. When you "strum" a harp, you end up with a glissando, which is certainly done in harp music, but as an occasional ornament and not an all-purpose technique. In general, harp strings are plucked, not strummed. (Harpers frequently "roll" a chord, which means to play notes one at a time in rapid succession. The SOUND is very similar to a chord strummed on a fretted instrument, but the technique is quite different.) There are exceptions, of course; for example, the surmandal is strummed to add a sort of drone effect in Indian classical music. This instrument looks a bit like the zither or autoharp, with strings strung over a flat soundboard.

On April 6, 2006 Elaine Cunningham said: You've touched on a pet peeve of mine. Telling the reader what a character "knows" has always struck me as a shortcut. I've seen good writers do it from time to time, but it never ceases to make me want to shriek and frisbe the book across the room.

It's my opinion that if fantasy writers are going to write romances, they ought to READ a few good ones. Nora Roberts is usually a pretty safe bet. She has an amazing knack of pulling in the reader in the first couple of pages, making a wide variety of characters interesting and sympathetic, and making you understand why these two particular people are attracted to each other. Mind you, I've read more than a few romances that mistake bitching for banter, and have the characters nastily sniping at each other until the moment they fall into bed and take each other in a ravenous frenzy. And then go back to sniping, until some sort of silly misunderstanding is set straight and suddenly they're cooing like a pair of doves. I've closed many a book and concluded, "I give those two three months, tops." It's pretty easy to find a reason for two characters to want to hook up, but depicted two people who have a genuine reason to STAY together? Not easy.

If fantasy writers are willing to read books on military strategy and watch films with good battle choreography, why not spend the time and effort to figure out how to write a convincing romance?

The effort to write more convincing romance subplots doesn't necessarily have to take you into the romance genre. I consider the romantic elements to be part of the characterization process. If you figure out who a character is on a more than superficial level, you'll have a fairly good idea how they'll response in an intimate relationship.

On April 7, 2006 Elaine Cunningham said: Yes, I'd planned to write a story entitled "The Tree of Souls," about Prince Lamruil's venture into the inhospitable northlands to search for a location for a new elven outpost. This was supposed to be a novella--about 15,000 words, or twice the length of the usual Realms of XX short story. Opportunities to publish something of that length are fairly rare, and I'd have a tough time telling this tale in a shorter format, so I don't anticipate publication any time soon.

That was a scary time. I'd been having severe headaches that made writing for any length of time impossible. I had my eyes checked and was told I had macular degeneration, a condition that can lead to severely diminished vision. Then I went to a retinal specialist, who assured me that I did not have MD, but I DID have a "sub-clinical detached retina," a condition that can lead to blindness. Yikes. Surgery isn't indicated at this time, but they're keeping an eye on changes and developments. That was a over a year ago. I went in just last week, and things are still looking okay. But at the time, I simply wasn't able to spend enough time at the computer to get everything done. Something had to give, and the novella was it.

On April 7, 2006 Elaine Cunningham said: It can be difficult to define why a man falls in love with one woman and not another, and it's seldom a matter of one woman being "better" than another. Timing is important. I've heard arguments that it's quite literally a matter of chemistry--a subliminal pheremone attraction--but I'm not quite ready to go there. Danilo is very fond of all things elven, so in many ways Arilyn fits his concept of the feminine ideal. He admires her strength of character and her straight-forward, no-bullshit approach--quite refreshing after the petty games of Waterdhavian nobility.

I don't think it's quite accurate to speak of a "Church of Eilistraee," any more than we can address IRL "The United Church of Wicce." Like modern-day Wiccans, the Dark Maiden's followers are not exactly a highly organized group. There are enclaves here and there, as well as solitary practitioners. I think it's fair to assume that many of the drow from the Prominade Temple are pissed with Liriel. Qilue lost a lover in the final battle in Daughter of the Drow, and a daughter in the final battle of Windwalker. It may well be that she will want nothing do to with Liriel for a very long time. But it doesn't necessarily follow that Liriel will be considered anathema by ALL followers of Eilistraee, or by the goddess herself.

On May 8, 2006 Elaine Cunningham said: Lolth never had a foothold in Drizzt's mind, heart, and soul. Liriel once held an affection for the drow goddess and willingly opened herself to Lolth's power. I don't think the sort of mark from an experience like that fades easily or quickly.

There are no Liriel books in the pipeline. Alas.

I do get some choice on what books I write in the Realms; for example, the S&S#6 book came about after I expressed a desire to revisit these characters and wrap up the series. That said, I've been talking to various editors about this book for several years now. I guess the planets just weren't properly aligned before now. Same with WINDWALKER, the third Liriel book. I submitted several written proposals and many hints in the years between the second and third book, but the book came about when WotC decided the time was right.

In a shared world, it's really not possible to let writers do whatever stories they want to write, whenever they feel like writing them. WotC has to balance their publishing schedule (can't have four pirate books and three books about gnomes all in the same year), and there are a lot of story lines, continuing characters, and established authors--not to mention the need to bring new people and perspectives into the Realms.

On May 15, 2006 Elaine Cunningham said: Hi, Darkflame.

Actually, the REAL me is a raven-haired gypsy seductress with a PhD in genetic engineering. Or, alternately, a hurdy gurdy player in a medieval fusion band who moonlights in international corporate espionage. This mild-mannered, middle-aged suburban soccer mom thing is a clever facade, nothing more.

Moving on to your Realms questions. When you say "now," I assume you're talking about DR 1375, the current time in the Realms. My stories about Arilyn and Dan, however, have only gone up to 1368. At that time, Arilyn was in her early forties, which is very young for a half-elf--the equivalent of a human woman in her early to mid twenties. No, she was not pregnant. There was a mention of a "little one" in the paperback edition of Evermeet, but I didn't intend for this comment to see print. Apparently the book was reprinted from an old file--most likely, from a file that did not reflect changes made in the galley pages. I removed this reference because the explanation would have been too cumbersome for that particular book, and I've resisted explaining the situation because I hoped to address this issue "on stage" in a new book. So bear with me a while longer, and all will be known.

Azariah was about five years old in DR 1364, the date of Elfsong, so that would make her about fifteen in current time. There was a short story in issue #335 of Dragon Magazine about Azariah, set in DR 1371. I believe this will be reprinted in the upcoming "Best of ec" anthology. There are no plans at this time to write about either of Elaith's children.

On May 22, 2006 Elaine Cunningham said: Honestly? Your guess is as good as mine. The guy with the red cloak might be Beldar Roaringhorn, but the other person? No clue.

It's not a bad cover, though. I do like the color scheme.

On October 9, 2006 Elaine Cunningham said: Regarding Elaith and his business concerns: The original question listed "criminal activies." Some of them are, admittedly, quite legal in Waterdeep and thereabouts. Elaith owns a festhall or two, as well as a couple of gambling dens. There is a substantial above-board profit to be made in such establishments, but Elaith also finds ways to supplement his income.

For example, the short story "Games of Chance," originally published in Dragon Magazine and soon to be reprinted in "the best of ec" anthology, describes a gambling den that's aggressively magic-free. No magic items of any kind are permitted in the establishment, and if anyone tries to bring one in, it is "dissolved" by powerful wards on the entrances. Of course, these items (which people insist upon carrying, either because they assume rules really don't apply to them, or as a sort of "let's put one over on the Serpent" game) aren't really destroyed, but transferred into a locked box in Elaith's back office. Also, the illithid Elaith employs to scan for use of psionics can also pull other information from the minds of the gamers, to the house's advantage.

Some gambling dens are legal, some might not be. Waterdeep would probably not look favorably upon certain blood sports, such as gladatorial games, cock fights, and monster baiting. Yet there are many in Waterdeep who would pay good coin to watch such games--or to participate in them.

Festhalls are seldom just bawdy houses. The courtesans, healers, and dancers who work there are schooled in the art of conversation (among others) and are skilled at drawing people out. While all of this is perfectly legal, the use to which Elaith puts some of this legally obtained pillow talk might be anything but.

On December 8, 2006 Elaine Cunningham said: Hello again.

Kazzaroth, you should probably address your question to Ed Greenwood. I try not to speculate about Realms lore, because no matter how many disclaimers a writer adds, disseminating non-canon lore carries an assortment of perils and pitfalls.

Uzzy, there were several reasons why Evermeet skipped over the Crown Wars. First, it seemed likely to me that very little information about that era would be available to humans. There weren't very many humans around at the time, relatively speaking, and since it wasn't exactly the elves' most shining hour, they're not likely to brag about it thousands of years after the fact. I surmised that the most Danilo would be likely to come across would be obscure references, hints, bits of legend. Also, Danilo was not attempting a comprehensive history of the elves on Faerun, but rather a collection of stories that shed light on the history of the royal Moonflower clad, Arilyn's family.

The Crown War era is not covered later in the novel. It's mentioned, nothing more. It seemed to me that this topic was simply too big to be treated in single-chapter format. I would much rather see this story told in an epic series, something with a huge cast of characters and a complex political scenario. A story like that would need to be the Realms equivalent of A Song of Fire and Ice.

On December 9, 2006 Elaine Cunningham said: Envision this scenario: conservative Republicans are suddenly imbued with the power to sense the political leanings of any American. They need only bring to mind an image of Ann Coulter and murmur a few lines from the Federalist Papers.

With me so far?

Imagine that several of these Republicans were granted a brief audience with former President Reagan, in a context well outside of the political arena--his ranch, maybe--and after Alzeimers had taken a considerable toll on his mind. These Republicans would be respectful and perhaps a little awed. They would carefully avoid looking too closely at anything that seemed to connect with his illness. Their impulse would probably be to avert their eyes from anything that might be perceived as a weakness on the part of one of their heroes. What they would NOT do is invoke Ann Coulter and cast the FP spell to make sure that Mr. Reagan remained free of liberal leanings.

That's essentially the situation that Sir Gareth was in for many years. His interactions with other paladins were infrequent and brief. He was revered for his past heroics, and respected for his continued service at his "desk job." And since the financial affairs of the Knight of Samular seemed to be in very good order (Sir Gareth was pulling down enough fees from his illicit activities to easily make up anything he might be skimming or using for payoffs) the paladins had no reason to scrutinize him.

Also consider that paladins tend to die young. (According to the old, second edition Complete Book of Paladins, few lived to the age of thirty.) There aren't many people around who knew Gareth back in his righteous youth, so people who might perceive subtle changes are few and far between. To most living paladins, Sir Gareth is something of a legend. People tend to see what they expect to see.

On December 10, 2006 Elaine Cunningham said: It was a lot different. For one thing, it was a shared-author series, with a single central character. For another, there wasn't a formal story bible, or even much of a story arc in place when I came on board. The story direction given was, "We like the title Radiant Dragon, so you should probably have one of those in the story." Not knowing the parameters of the story was difficult--this was only my second published book--so I'll admit to pushing the edges of the envelope, like a misbehaving toddler trying to get a sense of what the boundaries were. This was not a particularly successful strategy. I suggested a number of outrageous possibilities to the editor, including the possibility of destroying an entire world. Only when I gave a secondary character--an aparusa or "space gypsy"--the name "Rosleigh" did he object. No freaking way he was letting a "gypsy Rosleigh" reference into the book. Frankly, I was impressed that he picked up on a rather obscure pun.

A lot of details in the story just sort of developed. That cape of Telden Moore's, for example, kept changing color and shape and so on. I was certain they had to have some significance, so I built a spreadsheet listing these changes, what was happening at the time, and the probable significance. When I mentioned this to the project editor, his response was, "Cool! Send me a copy--I was wondering about that, myself."

One of the things that made the story tough to write was the time frame. Someone--don't know who--backed out of the project, and the folks at TSR called to ask me if I'd like to write a Spelljammer novel. The only catch was, they needed a proposal in thirteen (13) days. So in that time, I had to read book one, the manuscript of book two, the outline of book 3, ALL of the Spelljammer game materials, and put together a chapter-by-chapter outline, a ten-page writing sample, and one-page character sketches of all the new major and secondary characters. I made it, even though Sean, who was about 18 months old at the time, got sick of Mom's attention being elsewhere for so much of the day and decided to put a stop to this foolishness. He snuck up behind me, turned off the computer, and ran like hell. This was before automotic backup, and I lost the entire ten-day writing sample. I'm sure that on dark nights, my wail of anguish still echoes through that neighborhood... Fortunately, I was able to rewrite it in time.

I must apologize in advance for the color of Queen Amlaruil's hair in this book. At the time, there were no references to her coloring in any of the Forgotten Realms lore (there wasn't much lore at the time except the gray boxed set and the Waterdeep module), so I picked blue (which was listed as a common color for moon elves' hair), not knowing that one of Doug Nile's Moonshae books, which was being written at the same time, was establishing her hair as red-gold, a color it was to remain throughout many FR game products and novels. That was an inadvertent oops, but I take some comfort in the fact that my Spelljammer book only sold about 37 copies.


On February 13, 2006 Sean K. Reynolds said: Well, MotM is set up to let you start at 1st level in one part of the Moonsea and eventually transition through other parts of the Moonsea and end up doing high-level adventures on the Moonsea. We provide many hooks connecting the various parts, as well as red herrings and unrelated tangents that you should have an easy time lifting some of those and inserting them into an ongoing campaign to help make the transition into a Moonsea campaign.

On April 7, 2006 Sean K. Reynolds said: Basic breakdown (off the top of my head)

Divides the region into 4 quadrants (N S E W).

Divides each quadrants into two parts: a major city, and its outlying areas.

Major city section has history, general description, some key NPCs that are easy to use as PC enemies, and 5 encounter sites (with maps and keyed descriptions) within the city, designed to be quested sequentially (frex one is for levels 5-6, the next is for 6-7, the next for 7-8, and so on).

Outlying area section has 5 encounter sites (with maps and keyed descriptions) outside the city, same design considerations as the in-city ones.

There are links all over the place allowing the PCs to move about anywhere in the chains, so if the five city encounters are A B C D E and the outlying ones are 1 2 3 4 5 you could run your PCs through as ABCDE, 12345, A23DE5, and so on.

One quadrant is low-level, with transitions to the next-higher-level quadrant, which likewise has links to the next, etc.

We wrote it so it's entirely possible to play through an entire Moonsea campaign (level 1-18 or so) and only use half the encounter sites in the book; you could then run ANOTHER Moonsea campaign with the other half. Or use the other half for flavor & references to fill out the background of what other groups are doing in the area. Or if your PCs are efficient and fight-crazy, maybe they go through all of them. Anyway the point is that you get _40_ keyed/mapped/described encounter locations in this book, all linked to at least one other in the book in some way. For the price of the book it's a pretty good deal, and as they're pretty self-contained you could also transplant them outside the Moonsea if your campaign is elsewhere (or use some of them as an excuse for your non-Moonsea PCs to take a quick trip to deal with something in the Moonsea and then go back to their normal questing places).

On April 8, 2006 Sean K. Reynolds said: As for length, typically each "quest" (as we called them) runs 2-3 pages of text with a 1/4- or 1/2-page map.

I wrote the Hillsfar section, and (not counting the quests, rumors table, and villainous NPCs who get a full writeup) it's 5500 words, which is 5-8 pages of text. Each of the four major cities covered gets a comparable treatment.

As for why this isn't a regular sourcebook, the goal is that you could pick up this book and use it that very night, regardless of your party level. It's a book to be used rather than read-and-shelved.


On February 16, 2006 Richard Baker said: Glad you liked the story!

RE: moonblades... according to Magic of Faerun, moonblades will accept elves or half-elves who are scions of the proper family. Normally the scion needs to perform a special ritual to awaken the moonblade, but moonblades are intelligent weapons, so it seemed to me that a moonblade might recognize a scion (even if the scion doesn't know she is one) and bestow its powers on her if she's wielding it in a moment of mortal peril. To be honest, I'm not even sure if the character in question is an actual descendant of the moonblade's family (although she certainly could be); when I wrote the story, I was thinking that the moonblade might have recognized such worthiness that it chose to bestow its powers on her, knowing that its own family had died out.

(In general, the current edition of D&D says that being a half-elf means you have "elven blood," so things that are keyed to elves--say, an elf-slaying arrow--affect you like you were a full-blooded elf. Where possible, I try to conform very closely to the game, because plenty of you folks out there both read the books and play the game.)

On June 30, 2006 Richard Baker said: Well, I'll own up to a modest goof: I sure thought that the Tree was planted in Evermeet and that Lamruil had taken a sapling off to his new hidden realm. However, I don't think this really messes up my story or continuity all that badly. The important thing in Last Mythal is that Seiveril is given a sapling; the question of where the parent tree is located and how many other saplings it has produced is secondary to the story. A minor "patch" to one line of dialogue in Final Gate would fix things up nicely.

On June 30, 2006 Richard Baker said: The story doesn't say, so I don't know how "official" this answer is, but yes, I think Sarya had the thing knocked down. I suppose it's possible that the fey'ri just didn't get to it as fast as she might have liked, but I think Sarya's minions understood that she wanted it pulled down and pronto.

The refounding of Cormanthyr and the new understanding with Sembia certainly seem to demand a new Dales Compact in any event. In fact, the original epilogue I wrote for the book depicted the ceremony at the Standing Stone (new or old, I didn't say) where the new Compact was sworn to by all.

On July 1, 2006 Richard Baker said: First and foremost, the new Compact has to take into account not just the Dalesfolk, but the surrounding powers as well. Cormanthyr needs to come to some understanding with Cormyr, Sembia, and even the Moonsea cities about how Myth Drannor will exist in the middle of otherwise human lands. Conflict with Sembia is inevitable in the absence of some lasting agreement about just how far Sembia can grow to the north and just how forestry ought to be managed in southern Cormanthor. Reestablishing an elven kingdom in the heart of the Dales gets a lot tougher if the big powers surrounding the Dales don't really recognize its borders. That cuts two ways--Myth Drannor also needs to reassure Sembia, Cormyr, etc., that it won't expand out of the Dales and subvert/marginalize human nations nearby. It's a smaller, more crowded, less wild Cormanthor than it used to be, and the old agreements need to be reexamined.

On July 11, 2006 Richard Baker said: Remember, the elves Retreated from the Elven Court only in 1344 DR. So it's only been sitting around "unattended" for 30 years or so, and in that time, who's really had a good oppportunity and motive to go and knock it down? I'd think most enemies of the elves would have regarded the Stone as no longer important after the Retreat in any event, so I'm not sure why some villain (other than Sarya, who certainly had some personal feelings about what it symbolized) would go to the trouble.

On August 15, 2006 Richard Baker said: Sorry for the late answer; I've been on vacation for the last 3+ weeks.

I imagined the ship as an enchanted seagoing vessel, not a spelljammer. I didn't really have any particular magical properties in mind, other than the idea that the ship could travel great distances in a short time by sailing on moonlit water. I don't think it was really a "teleport ship" effect as much as it would be a sort of "shadow walk" effect based on sailing in moonlight... someone aboard the ship would perceive dimly the lands/seas they were passing over/through, and it wouldn't be instantaneous.

Hope that helps!

On August 15, 2006 Richard Baker said: I created the Pale Sybil for the story; she isn't mentioned anywhere else. However, a couple of the key components behind the Sybil appear in the FR sourcebook "Underdark," which I worked on extensively. For example, the abyss known as Lorosfyr is a place I created for that book. Bruce Cordell invented the Deep Imaskari, and I riffed on that by positing that a Deep Imaskari "sister city" might have been the cause of the mysterious ruins and terrible stairs found in the abyss.

When working on that part of Final Gate, I decided to put on my "A. Merritt" hat. Merritt wrote a number of stories about people going into fantastic hidden lands and worlds and confronting horrendous, inhuman evil; for example, "The Moon Pool," "The Metal Monster," "Dwellers in the Mirage," or "The People of the Pit." I like to pay homage to the Golden Age masters when I can. Lorosfyr and the Pale Sybil didn't fall far from the tree.

On August 15, 2006 Richard Baker said: Remember, some years pass between the end of the novel "Evermeet" and the beginning of "The Last Mythal." It's not a lot of time, but it's enough for the previous Grand Mage to head off for Arvandor and a new guy to step in. I don't know how tough Olithir is off the top of my head; for my purposes it was sufficient for him to be a relatively new and untried Grand Mage, so I suppose he's got to be in the mid-20's or they wouldn't have given him the job.

I don't have any plans to write up character stats for the Last Mythal folks anytime soon; I have other things on my plate for now.

On August 16, 2006 Richard Baker said: If I'm thinking of the right character, she first appeared in Troy Denning's "Return of the Archwizards" series. She was Galaeron's mother, and an important wood elf leader. I picked her up to be the leader of the High Forest wood elves in "Forsaken House." I assumed she was reasonably competent, but she's no Grand Mage. (It was never really important in my story to know exactly what she could or couldn't do, so I didn't make any assumptions about her game stats.) Maybe she's about a 10th-level wizard with a level or two of druid thrown in?

On August 17, 2006 Richard Baker said: Hmmm... well, to start, I'd suggest typed rather than handwritten correspondence. (Of course, word processor and printer are just as good as a typewriter, 'cause who the heck has a typewriter anymore?)

If you're asking a rules question, we'd prefer it if you tried our Customer Service folks first. You can call or email them (see the title page of any FR sourcebook) and you'll get an answer fast. I will field CS-type questions when people send them my way, but the CS folks keep records of the questions they're asked and the answers provided. That gives us a company-wide history of which questions are asked about which products, whereas if you just post a question on the message boards or email a random game designer at WotC that information isn't preserved.

If you would like to offer a suggestion or make a complaint, you have three good choices. You can post it in a public forum we keep an eye on (the appropriate message board), you can email someone at WotC, or you can send snail mail. If you want to be sure that we see it, I recommend sending your suggestion straight to *someone* rather than just posting on a board -- it's hard to sort out the signal-from-noise in a message board, after all. If you contact us via snail mail, just add "Attn: Rich Baker" in the address line, and the letter will be delivered to me. Good people to talk to here at Wotc include me; Chris Perkins, the design manager; Bill Slavicsek, director of RPG R&D; or Liz Schuh, who heads up our RPG business team.

Email sent straight to one of the above folks is OK, too -- but I'd ask that you save it for serious correspondence. We like to hear from you, but I know in my own case that I wouldn't want to feel like I ought to reply to a dozen customer emails a day.

Finally, regardless of the format you choose, I'd ask that you try to be concise, polite, and direct. Short, well-organized messages are much easier to digest than long, indirect, rambling ones. Stay on message, and seriously, try to be civil even when you're angry about something. Nothing puts my hackles up faster like folks telling me I'm a talentless hack or that I'm an evil money-grubbing soulless corporate drone. (For that matter, I'm not particularly pleased by people who go out of their way to explain how So-and-So did my job better years ago and really cared about the work, as compared to the way I approach the job.) If you're complaining about something you don't like, state the problem clearly without making it into a personal attack. Don't get shrill, don't use hyperbole, and don't shout. We carefully consider reasonable, well-thought-out criticism expressed simply and politely; we ignore people acting like jerks. There it is.

Hope that helps!

On August 22, 2006 Richard Baker said: She sticks with the Crusade, serving with the various healers that accompany the elven army. As it turned out I never really got back into the "hospital" again (there is one scene in Forsaken House where I did), so she never happened to cross paths with the protagonists again.

I intended for some characters to move into and out of the story, sometimes a little abruptly. Filsaelene first appeared in Forsaken House to illustrate the point that the fey'ri had sinister intentions in mind for any sun elf prisoners who fell into their hands. Having put her in the story to be rescued, I decided to have her road wind alongside Araevin's for a time before letting her go her own way. I suppose I was striving for a sense of verisimilitude; in a big, chaotic, hectic time of battles and adventures you might find different people around you at different times, and not always because someone had gotten killed and replaced.

On August 22, 2006 Richard Baker said: Merritt is an acquired taste, no doubt. I have a soft spot for 1940s and 1950s SF; I can't tell you how many times I've read Doc Smith's Lensman books. To each his own.

The action in the Cormyr adventure mostly takes place in Wheloon and the Vast Swamp.

I will soon be starting a new FR trilogy, but I really can't say much about it yet. I have only the sketchiest plans so far.

On September 22, 2006 Richard Baker said: She sticks with the Crusade, serving with the various healers that accompany the elven army. As it turned out I never really got back into the "hospital" again (there is one scene in Forsaken House where I did), so she never happened to cross paths with the protagonists again.

I intended for some characters to move into and out of the story, sometimes a little abruptly. Filsaelene first appeared in Forsaken House to illustrate the point that the fey'ri had sinister intentions in mind for any sun elf prisoners who fell into their hands. Having put her in the story to be rescued, I decided to have her road wind alongside Araevin's for a time before letting her go her own way. I suppose I was striving for a sense of verisimilitude; in a big, chaotic, hectic time of battles and adventures you might find different people around you at different times, and not always because someone had gotten killed and replaced.

On October 4, 2006 Richard Baker said: Thanks! Glad you liked the books.

I don't know if I ever really decided exactly what Maalthiir's creepy swordsmen were, other than some sort of extraplanar undead or constructs. Clearly they were much less bothered by being hacked to bits than they should have been, and they seemed to have a sort of collective mind or consciousness so that they acted in perfect unison without speaking. Beyond that, heck, I sorta just made them up. There's an old Planescape monster called a "keeper" that might just barely describe Maalthiir's guard, but I think I was really after something else, something new.

On October 4, 2006 Richard Baker said: My pleasure!

As for your questions...

1) Campaign Journal. Nothing planned for the moment. I don't know what game product on the current schedule we would put it in.

2) Hillsfar is pretty much a tributary state to Zhentil Keep at the end of the series. It's wealthy and strong enough that the Zhents can't completely subsume it, but for years to come you can assume that Hillsfar won't do much without Fzoul's say-so. I would expect a lot of scheming, plotting, conniving, and backstabbing for quite some time. I see Hillsfar being governed by an ineffectual council of its wealthy merchant lords. Some collaborate with the Zhents, others resist Zhentish influence. There's a Zhent military legate who oversees "law and order" in the city, but I expect he's crooked, and I can see the high priest of the new temple of Bane scheming to make himself tyrant of the city. But overall the Zhents are trying to swallow a prize that might be a bit too big to digest.

3) Zhentil Keep has every reason to be highly suspicious of elven meddling in Hillsfar, and there are probably more than a few Red Plume holdouts still occupying influential positions in the city. On the other hand, I imagine that some of the "better" merchant lords--people who weren't all that happy under Maalthiir and likely disapproved of his humanocentric ways--might turn to Coronal Miritar and her people for help in wriggling out of Zhentish control. So, no arenas for now, but elves ought to expect to be harassed and spied upon every moment they're in the city.

On October 27, 2006 Richard Baker said: Thanks for the kind words! I'm just now starting to seriously tinker around with outlines for my next trilogy, but it won't really touch on any of the Last Mythal characters; I'm heading off for different parts of Faerun to tell a "smaller" story.

As for your questions...

RE: Araevin. Yes, the rite he performed at the end of "Farthest Reach" made him celestial. The darkest portions of the Aryvandaaran high magic tradition required the practitioner to replace the frailty of his mortal soul with the inflexible "outsider" soul. In game terms, many of those High Magic epic spells have mitigating factors to the effect of "take horrible soul damage if you're not an outsider."

RE: The Evereskans. I think you're right, they're archers and medium infantry. I think just about every elf in a elf army carries a bow. That said, the Vale Guard are probably the heaviest footsoldiers you'll see in an elf army. They're definitely swordsmen first and archers second. And they are also highly, highly experienced after the gruesome struggle against the phaerimm. I think that well-organized elven armies are probably the best "combined arms" forces in the world, using magic, archery, cavalry, and infantry quite skillfully to cut enemy armies to ribbons. Sort of like the early Byzantines that way, I guess.

On October 31, 2006 Richard Baker said: Thanks, Thangorn, I'm glad you liked the story!

Regarding Glen... I should've used another name for the village I had in mind. I'll explain how I made the goof: Back in 1992 I wrote the 2nd Edition FR supplement "Dalelands." In that book I described a number of small hamlets and villages throughout the Dales that hadn't ever been discussed before. (The Dales needed more villages and small towns, given the population and "feel" they were supposed to have.) So I came up with places like Glen and Peldan's Helm in Mistledale. When I wrote the Bladesinger's Lesson, I relied on my memory of "Dalelands" and a quick look at that sourcebook, not realizing that later products had come along and added even more detail to Glen. (Little description about Glen appears in "Dalelands", but I recall I wrote a paragraph or two for it that wound up not going into the sourcebook. That's the Glen I remembered.)

So, there you go--I was using an older source for Mistledale and forgot to check more recent material. For what it's worth, I think the story still "works" if you assume it's "random small Mistledale village we never named before" rather than Glen. But I am sorry for making the mistake in the first place. I should have gotten it right.


On April 7, 2006 Thomas M. Reid said: Now that the cat is out of the bag a little bit, I can say that it was something of a misnomer to refer to it as a regional sourcebook. I think that appellation stuck around because this was originally going to be a RS, and they decided to change it, to try something new.

I know the lack of a true RS is going to disappoint some of you, and there is certainly something to be said for the, "if it isn't broke, don't fix it" mentality, but I have to say, from personal experience, that I was excited about this different approach. It was a chance to detail out some of the region without all the crunchy bits -- PrCs, spells, magic items, etc. I know people crave more and more of those things, and this isn't a commentary on you at all, but for myself, coming up with new and interesting crunchy bits is just getting old. I'm probably in the minority, but the game to me isn't getting better by adding more corner cases and exotic abilities; it's just getting more difficult to manage.

It's like a collectible card game with a ton of expansion packs -- how can you possibly choose which cards to put in your deck? There are ten times as many as you will ever need/use. By the same token, how can you possibly figure out which spells to take/PrC to strive for/feat to include? It stops being a roleplaying experience and becomes an exercise in effective deck construction. But that's just my attitiude; your mileage may vary.

Regardless, the book is really something of a hybrid -- it's not JUST an adventure (or collection of mini-adventures, to be precise), and it's not JUST the locale details inherent in an RS. It's got a little of both. We'll see how it flies, but writing it was refreshing.


On December 15, 2006 Thomas M. Reid said: This question gets posed to me from time to time, so I've come to realize that my reasoning was a bit too subtle in the prose, and that I made one mistake. So here goes:

Essentially, when Xaphira initially flees the scene to draw attention away from Vambran, she doesn't know she won't be able to come back -- if she can disappear into the night, she can slip back to the Matrell estate unseen. But once she is shot, and it turns out to be one of Vambran's own crossbow bolts, she deduces that someone else actually shot the victim and is trying to frame Vambran for it. Knowing that, she also deduces that the shooter knows who she is, too. At that point, she knows remaining in Arrabar puts the family in danger, so she has to disappear and figure out who the actual killer is without revealing herself -- thus, she vanishes. Of course, the reader doesn't learn all that until the end, but I knew it going in. I probably should have made that part of it clearer.

My error was in presenting her departure from the palace grounds as a sure, permanent thing. They should have been worried about her getting out alive, but hoping that she would see them later that night or the next morning. She didn't make the decision to vanish for several years until she had already gotten away from them all. The problem was, I was writing with the foreknowledge that she would vanish, and I slipped up and made the parting of ways more definite than it should have been. There would still have been plenty of angst -- "be careful, Xaphira. Get back to the house. Come back to us alive." -- but it came out more "final" because I got caught up in what I knew vs. what the reader knew. That is the danger of writing a mystery -- sometimes you forget what the reader knows and doesn't know.



On July 6, 2006 Eytan Bernstein said: Both. I'd say it's about 60% lore/40% crunch. In terms of crunch, there are plenty new spells, magic items, monsters, traps, and lair hazards. The book is quite low on other types of crunch.

In terms of lore, there are 19 dragons/dracoliches in painstaking detail, a bunch of dragon-related organizations, a huge section on the Rage, and large sections devoted to the Cult of the Dragon and the worship of Tiamat. Even in certain crunch sections, there is significant lore.

On July 6, 2006 Eytan Bernstein said: The book is a fairly even split between Eric Boyd and I. I did more of the crunchy stuff (though still plenty of the lore) and he wrote more history. Eric has a vast knowledge of FR history, so he did more work on the history of the rage and dragons in general, as well as organizations and other detailed accounts. I wrote most of the monsters, all of the traps/hazards, and both adventures (in chapter 2 and 3). Other than that, both of us worked to some greater or lesser degree on all the chapters - including spells, items, etc... In terms of the preview, pretty much that whole text in the big box was done by Eric. I did the Nartheling writeup (hopefully the link will be corrected soon.)

On July 7, 2006 Eytan Bernstein said: To add to what Eric said, the 1E and 2E sources were always checked and researched to see what had occurred before. Often, the information needed to be updated to account for changes in subsequent novels and game products, but it was always consulted. That said, the book has a focus all its own and is not just a 3.5 update of previous Dragon information.

On July 7, 2006 Eytan Berstein said: Eric already answered most of your questions, but I will add that the Cult gets an entire chapter devoted to it, including a rather nifty adventure. I can't say precisely what's included (not only because of NDAs, but because I haven't seen the final version yet), but I think it will cover most of your Cult needs.

I spoke to Richard Lee Byers a few times (mostly during revision), but he gave his full blessing to use our creative faculties. I believe Eric has spoken with him more than I have. I did read the Rage and the Rite before working on the book (as well as a synopsis of the ruin). It certainly informed our decisions and gave excellent inspiration and vision for the feel of the dragons of FR.

On July 7, 2006 Eytan Bernstein said: More than a page. I haven't seen the final version, so I couldn't give you percentage yet.

I don't really think about things in terms of older or newer material. When I write about a specific region or NPC, I look up what has been done before, use that as a base, and supplement based on the needs of the book, the influence of events since the previous material was published, and my own vision of how things could go. Most material grows organically out of existing material, threads, and hooks, expanding where things are vague or when little is written. Sometimes I combine two seeds from different books, or even different editions, to get something new, but with firmly planted roots. The seeds are often something as small as one line.

I'll use an example that is definitely not blocked by NDA. Nartheling was first described in Unapproachable East in a one paragraph entry. That entry and one on Umbergoth about 10 pages later gave me more than enough to flesh out the creature and add some detail. I expanded from the territorial dispute seed and the mention of Umbergoth as a vast mountain. I never know what's going to spark in my head, but the process for me is organic. I didn't set out to have a dragon/beholder war. It just happenned when things came together in my head based on a combination of the project's needs and existing source material.

I can't give you a more detailed answer on percentages until I actually see the product. I'd feel really sheepish if I said that something was in the book, then it was cut for whatever reasons. I can say that even material that seems like an update most often contains significant new ideas and developments.

On August 21, 2006 Eytan Bernstein said: Unfortunately, stat blocks are incredibly time consuming and most people have poor reactions to a book filled with page after page of them. We thought about doing a lot more, but there are so many dragons, we just picked ones for which we had interesting ideas. As for the references to other books, I guess that's possible. For future reference, which particular other books did you find this to be a problem?

The thing about a book like this (as opposed to a regional book) is that it is dealing with a huge amount of material that has been written about in 1-3.5 edition books. For this reason, we have to reference that material. If you're referring to spell requirements for items (like a heroes of battle spell for a magic item), it's something I like to avoid, but sometimes a spell written in another book is so appropriate that it's hard not to use it. Fortunately, you don't need to have those books to use the items as pretty much all of them describe the abilities rather than quoting the books. We have to reference the draconomicon because we can't give stats to all of the hundreds of dragons in Faerun. We also can't select the top hundred because than you'd only have a book filled with dragon stats.

On August 26, 2006 Eytan Bertstein said: Whenever it is even slightly unclear what happens to a dragon in a book or story specifically taking place during the rage, we leave it open that s/he might be alive. In someone's campaign, they may wish to play out what happens with a certain NPC. We try not to tread on novel NPCs whenever possible, especially brand new ones. While writing the book, we only had a summary of the third book in the Year of Rogue Dragons trilogy. We had to ask Richard Lee Byers what happened to Zethrindor (and I won't spoil it here) to determine how to list him in the book.

The same notion goes for dragons (and other NPCs) in adventures. Just because the adventure is in a book, it doesn't mean that the dragon boss at the end is dead. Adventures are not chronological. You could adapt an adventure written 18 years ago and have PCs meet the dragon at the end in the same manner that they could meet Slavin'Krath'Magaal 18 years from now. I know some people assume that these villains are dead, but their appearance in an adventure just means that they could be killed (like any other monster), not that they will be. After all, PCs don't always succeed.

It's interesting that you mention that this is the first time that your writing as affected a sourcebook. I'd love for people to pick up some of the threads we did in this book. I hope to expand on the Nartheling Beholder war (though it would still be a cool part of a novel), but there are loads of other interesting threads. Because this book was so thorough on dragons, there aren't likely to be many books focusing on the threads anywhere near as much in the future. That means NPCs and plots are there for the picking. This is especially true of the young dragons :) in the book, but also old ones like Protanther and his personal crusade against the creatures of the ice or Claugiyliamatar and her passionate desire to be like the powerful women of Faerun (I hope I spelled that right - I don't have the book in front of me), or of course, the unstoppable Tchazzar.


Secrets of the Sages info about Aglarond: A small realm that keeps to itself, Aglarond exerts little influence in affairs of state beyond its borders. It is important in the overall strategic balance of the Inner Sea lands, however, simply because its continued existence prevents Thay from overwhelming the northern "East." Aglarond's strength and danger, because she stands in magical opposition to the Red Wizards of Thay, who do not kindly suffer rivals, is its current ruler, a female archmage of fabled powers, known only as The Simbul.

Aglarond lies on the northern side of a peninsula jutting out into the eastern end of the Inner Sea; a sparsely inhabited, heavily-wooded realm of few farms and no large cities. Jagged pinnacles of rock stand at its tip and run along the spine of its lands. To the east, these fall away into vast and treacherous marshes that largely isolate The Simbul's realm from the mainland. Travel in Aglarond is by griffon, ship, or forest trails. It trades lumber, gems, and some copper for glass, iron, cloth goods, and food when freetrading vessels come to port, but sends out no trading ships of its own.

Aglarond cannot boast a field army of any size, nor a navy, but within its woods The Simbul's foresters are expert and deadly troops, adept at firefighting and at using "coastboats" (long, canoe-like open boats handled with lateen sails, oars, and poles) to raid by night as well as traveling in the treetops and fighting among them. The foresters are alert and grim; the menacing might of Thay is uncomfortably near, and Aglarond's blades are all too few. At the battles of Singing Sands (1194 DR [Dalerecking]) and Brokenheads (1197 DR), Aglarond's forces turned back invading hosts from Thay, but the cost was great. Skirmishes with raiders hoping to win glory in Thay, or mercenaries hired by Thay, are common.

Little is known of The Simbul's aims and true strength, but she is seen to constantly roam the northern Realms, working to influence all manner of events. This is presumably to better Aglarond's safety, although she is said to be a member or at least an ally of the Harpers, whose aims are more widespread.

Initially a wilderland inhabited only by a few sylvan elves, satyrs, and the fell forest denizens known more to men in fable than in fact (owlbears, stirges, and the like), Aglarond was little disturbed by men as settlement spread east across the Inner Sea lands an age ago. Often visited by pirates and others seeking a temporary refuge or to cut timber, Aglarond remained unsettled for many long winters. A few adventurers ceased their explorations to colonize the land, mostly those too old, notorious, or badly maimed to continue faring. At length fishermen seeking untouched seas moved to Aglarond's shores, and slowly small settlements of fisher-folk took hold on the rocky coasts. These villagers faced the sea, and although the woods at their backs seldom erupted to endanger them, they did not explore inland nor boldly cut and fell in the manner of the settlers of Cormyr, Sembia, and the Dalelands. The far-off pinnacles and the endless woods remained hostile places for a generation or more; those who ventured too far in did not return. As the woodcutting slowly ate away at the forest edge, skirmishes with owlbears and satyrs became more common, and were-creatures began to appear. Adventurers on the run or seeking hire also began to arrive in Aglarond, and for a brief, bloody decade still vivid in songs and travelers'-tales, men slaughtered the most dangerous of Aglarond's monsters. As the dangers of the woods grew fewer, hunters and fur-trappers ventured further inland-and eventually discovered that the elves of Aglarond had grown few and humble, weakened by disease and continual warfare with the mountain trolls and the dark elves of the mountain deeps. Most of the fisher-folk remained ignorant (and fearful) of the forest depths, and did not venture far into the trees. But the hunters and adventurers fought the trolls and (rarely) the drow, knowing the elves first as wary allies and then as friends, and within another generation a proud (if few in number) half-elven folk had come into being in the depths of the woods, the elves being completely absorbed into the half-elven stock. Over the next decade, the drow "went under"(ground) and came to Aglarond no more, the trolls were nearly eradicated, and the satyrs all left Aglarond or perished in the forest wars, until the half-elves came to rule all of Aglarond's wooded interior. Indiscriminate woodcutting continued around the villages of Oskur and Dlusk in particular and at length the half-elves grew angry enough to move down into the fishing villages and take over. This led to several armed skirmishes, notably a pitched battle at the remote anchorage of Ingdal's Arm (in which the "pure" humans perished to a man), but at length the half-elves prevailed.

For a time there was ill feeling, but the just rule of the half-elven (and their undeniable and ever-increasing blood ties to the fisher-folk) soon welded the people into a loyal fellowship under the rule of a king. The first king, the senior war-leader of the elves, was the aged Brindor. He established a fighting corps of veterans and youths, named an heir, as he had no surviving mate or offspring of his blood, and began a tradition of government by monarchy and council. Each village chose a representative or elder to be a part of the council, to advise and debate with the king. Those who would not accept the rule of the King moved west, into Altumbel, or north and east into Thesk. Theskan raiders (and later, the growing threat of Thay) were encountered by Brindor's only great engineering works: the fortress of Emmech at the mouth of the Umber, and the "Wall of Giants," constructed by giants in return for some mysterious magical service Brindor gave them. These works prevented any army that crossed the Umber marshes from sweeping into Aglarond's growing farms.

Brindor's heir, Althon, began a great program of irrigation, road-building, and careful husbandry of the muchshrunken woods of Aglarond. Eventually to become known as Althon "The Old," he lived nearly a hundred winters. In Althon's time Aglarond grew into a strong and happy realm, despite the growing power of Thay and the many cities along the coast to the south of the Yuirwood. The wood gained its name from the "Yuir," as the elven folk now absorbed into Aglarond's half-elven populace had called themselves. Althon had two sons, Elthond and Philaspur. Elthond perished in the first great battle gainst the forces of Thay at Singing Sands (so-called for the lamenting women of Aglarond, who cried and sang all night as they took up the bodies of their slain men from the sands around Emmech). Philaspur reigned thereafter, himself perishing at the fortress of Glarondar in the battle of Brokenheads.

Philaspur's daughters, Thara and Ulae', ruled long and well together after his death. Known as "the Grey Sisters" for their raiment, they developed their magical arts to awesome heights and were believed to have used shrewd dweomercraft to thwart many forces from Thay ere these reached Aglarond's borders. In their later years, both took husbands. Thara wed Elthar of Milvarune, gaining thereby the friendship of Thesk (which survives to this day). Ulae' bore a son Halacar and a daughter Ilione.

Halacar reigned from the death of his mother (1257 DR) through a disastrous campaign against Thay and died-of poison, it is thought-in the winter of 1260 DR without wife or offspring. His sister Ilione came to the throne inexperienced but she was wiser than Halacar and carefully built Aglarond's strength. Ilione immediately named as heir her apprentice, the young and mysterious sorceress known only as The Simbul. She ruled long and wisely as Aglarond prospered. Ilione died of plague in 1320 DR.

Since that time The Simbul has ruled the realm with magery greater than any known in the Inner Sea lands since the fall of Myth Drannor. She is thought to still live, and Aglarond still survives, because she personally overmatches even the infamous Red Wizards of Thay. If The Simbul herself has apprentices or a chosen heir, she has not publicly identified any such to the Council. Her style as Queen of Aglarond, a title she never uses, preferring to be known only as "The Simbul," is her own, different from her predecessors and counterparts in other realms. As Mirt of Waterdeep once said, "Ah, that lady-she goes her own way." That way must be a narrow and often treacherous one; Aglarond's future may well be in the balance.


Cormyr/thumb/falcon/blue eye/lion/tricrown//
Sembia/steelpense/hawk/electrum/…/-//FRA p. 129
-Selgaunt/penny/raven/ring/fivestar/sun//Sembia novel series
-Memnon//red worm/////FRA p. 129
…/rada, niften, spanner/espedrille/tazo, zonth////FRA p. 129
Amn/fandar /taran/decime (centaur)/danter/roldon (pearl)//Lands of Intrigue: Amn p. 13
Silverymoon///electrum moon (2/1 ep)////FRA p. 129
Tethyr (new)/donsar (lash)/paxar (blade)/corlar (king)/aenar (queen), brakar (star) (2 gp)/daublar (cup)//Lands of Intrigue: Tethyr p. 15
Waterdeep/nib/shard/moon/dragon/sun/toal (2/- gp), harbor moon (50/2 gp)/GTR p. 26
-Ravens Bluff////raven///The City of Ravens Bluff p. 66, 79
Western Heartlands///////
Chessenta//talent//drake///FR10 Old Empires p. 56
Unther/wedge (¼ cp)/egora//sheka///The Alabaster Staff
Serôs (pearls)/white (seyar)/yellow (hayar)//green (tayar)/blue (nuyar)//Sea of Fallen Stars p. 55
?////highcrown (HoF p. 64)/plat//

;copper;silver;electrum;gold;platinum;ot her
Cormyr;thumb;falcon;blue eye;lion;tricrown;
Calimport;unarch;decarch;centarch;bicent a;kilarch;
Memnon;;red worm;;;;
…;rada, niften, spanner;espedrille;tazo, zonth;;;
Amn;fandar ;taran;decime (centaur);danter;roldon (pearl);
Silverymoon;;;electrum moon (2/1 ep);;;
Tethyr (new);donsar (lash);paxar (blade);corlar (king);aenar (queen), brakar (star) (2 gp);daublar (cup);
Waterdeep;nib;shard;moon;dragon;sun;toal (2/- gp), harbor moon (50/2 gp)
Ravens Bluff;;;;raven;;
Western Heartlands;;;;;;
Unther;wedge (¼ cp);egora;;sheka;;
Cormanthyr;thalver;bedoar;thammarch;shil maer;ruendil;yulthaari
Myth Drannor;;tsargan;;lionar;sheelba;
Waterdeep (ancient);;;;toal (3 gp);;
Serôs (pearls);white (seyar);yellow (hayar);;green (tayar);blue (nuyar);

Sembian copper pennies
silver Sembian ravens
gold coins stamped with circled dragons -- in Waterdeep
Sembian gold fivestars

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