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T O P I C    R E V I E W
VikingLegion Posted - 24 May 2015 : 07:34:09
Greetings fellow Realms enthusiasts,

Several years ago I made a goal to read *every* novel from the major D&D worlds/settings. After blasting through the smaller libraries of Darksun, Ravenloft, and Planescape, I decided to tackle Dragonlance. Just recently I finished my 166th and final Dragonlance book. And now I have my sights set on the Forgotten Realms, a no-doubt Herculean task that will make DL easy by comparison.

As I finish each book I plan make a post in this thread. Some may be quite lengthy, others only a sentence or three, all depending on how deeply the story resonated with me and/or its greater importance in Realms lore. This is not a "book club" attempt, in that I won't be holding to any set schedule or waiting for others to finish a particular book. My pace is roughly one 300 page book per week, though occasionally I go on a torrid streak and can sometimes double that. So I won't limit my reading so others can read along with. That being said, I heartily encourage fellow Candlekeepers to jump right in with their own commentary. This can be a fun, nostalgic for some, trip through the history of the novel line. My only rules are thus:

1. I will make no attempt to hide spoilers for books as I finish them, so reader beware. This shouldn't pose much of a problem, as the material (in the early going specifically) is close to 30 years old.
2. Please, please, please, when discussing a book I've read, do NOT divulge spoilers that may occur further down the line as a result of said book.
3. Keep it civil. There are some author's writing styles that turn me off a bit, and I won't be shy about saying so, but it will be done in a manner that isn't toxic bashing.

My order of reading is going to loosely follow publishing date. I say loosely, because I will (early and often) deviate from this order when it makes sense, such as finishing up a series, or staying within a certain theme/region/etc. With that said, I began this endeavor with 1987's Darkwalker on Moonshae.
25   L A T E S T    R E P L I E S    (Newest First)
Irennan Posted - 15 Jul 2018 : 17:55:10
quote:
Originally posted by VikingLegion
with a new faction called The Risen Sun. Wait, how could Lathander allow his own church to fracture in this manner? Wouldn't he simply appear and set them straight, or at the very least send visions/omens to whichever side is interpreting his message incorrectly? I guess sometimes the gods do let mortals figure it out on their own, eh?




In hindsight, knowing what WotC knew, Lathander doing nothing for that heresy makes sense, because that "heresy" is actually the truth. He did indeed turn into Amaunator, and would go back to Lathander one century later (5e)--he changes face depending on what the Realms need: stability (Amaunator) or hope&renewal (Lathander). I guess it was a preparation for 4e, like many of the end 3e novels were.

The matter is even more subtle, because the heresy didn't require people to go around and commit heinous actions in the name of Lathander. if we set aside doing evil crap, Lathander is pretty laid back when it comes to belief held by mortals, as he has tolerated a similar belief for a long time.

That said, as of Post-Sundering/5e, WotC had Amaunator and Lathander take an existence of their own (possibly consolidated by Ao--he reshaped the pantheon as he saw fit for 5e--seeing all the people who actually believed so), rather than being 2 faces of the same deity.
VikingLegion Posted - 15 Jul 2018 : 16:01:55
I finished Shadowstorm last night. I love how Mephistopheles was portrayed. Now THAT is how an immortal being of great power should be written. We've been talking a bit recently of gods and such, and while not a true deity, Mephisto is pretty high up the food chain. His power, majesty, and authority really jump off the page, unlike the bumbling buffoon Iyachtu Xvim, or that silly little strumpet Mystra. There's also an interesting schism within the church of Lathander, with a new faction called The Risen Sun. Wait, how could Lathander allow his own church to fracture in this manner? Wouldn't he simply appear and set them straight, or at the very least send visions/omens to whichever side is interpreting his message incorrectly? I guess sometimes the gods do let mortals figure it out on their own, eh?

The battle scene where Abelar's forces charged the mercenaries that outnumbered them 2:1 was absolutely stirring. I think Kemp perfectly utilizes the D&D rules and spellset so that if you are familiar with the line you know exactly what the paladins, priests, and mages are casting and what effect they are having. Yet he doesn't pile it on so thick as to make it overbearing or inaccessible to readers without encyclopedic knowledge of the game rules. We talked a while back in this thread about how the hybrid casters (rangers, paladins) rarely are portrayed in the novels as casting any spells, but here we see Abelar use his divine powers quite a bit and is much more than just a "holy fighter". The way he inspired his fellow troops with both prayer and his inherent charisma was awesome.

The abduction of his son, Elden, was heartbreaking. Even though you could feel it was inevitable, I still held out a shred of hope that he was going to get away with the servant girl into the nearby woods. Another fine example of Kemp's ability to build tension. Poor "Bowney"...

I'm not sure how I feel about Abelar's apparent fall from grace. On the one hand, Elden is Abelar's one great weakness, so I totally understand him falling apart like that. On the other, he just witnessed a major miracle in the form of Lathander's sunrise cleansing the entire plague village. He also asked for a sign of his son and witnessed his shield being fully restored and then was even pointed in Elden's direction. He lacked only the army strength to physically take him back. For him to turn on his god for "allowing" this to happen to his son seems pretty petulant and entitled of him. I'm eager to see the outcome of him throwing the shield into a lake and grudge-dueling Malkur Forrin in the pre-dawn: "This is nothing to be done under the light of the sun." The light and dark metaphors were laid on pretty thick but they worked really well. I'm eager to see where this leaves Abelar and Lathander. Has he fully fallen or can he atone? As Riven said, once you start down that path....

Up next I will read the anthology Realms of War on the advise of Mr. Kemp before coming back to finish up this series.

VikingLegion Posted - 13 Jul 2018 : 15:58:32
quote:
Originally posted by PaulSKemp
For anyone who comes to the series late: It was typical at the time the Twilight War came out for WotC to also release a related anthology. In this case, the Antho was called "Realms of War." Alas, that book is long out of print and the is not available in e-format.

I mention this because my short story in that anthology, "Continuum," takes place (in part) after the end of SHADOWSTORM but before the beginning of SHADOWREALM and depicts an event that's important to the evolving relationship between Brennus and Rivalen.

So, for those interested, I've published Continuum on my website and you can read it here if you're so inclined: http://paulskemp.net/blog/continuum-a-short-story/



My goodness, I typed the wrong name for book 2, calling it "Born" instead of "Storm". Thanks for the correction as well as the heads-up on the anthology. I'm about 2 (or 1 long) session(s) away from finishing ShadowSTORM, and probably would've went right on into Shadowrealm without even checking. I do have a physical copy of Realms of War, so I'll definitely sandwich that in.

Also, thanks for checking out the thread. I can't speak for everyone but I know I always get a little jolt of excitement when I see one of the authors shares some insight with us.
PaulSKemp Posted - 13 Jul 2018 : 14:22:07
quote:
Originally posted by VikingLegion


Currently reading book 2, Shadowborn and am tearing through it at an alarming rate!




For anyone who comes to the series late: It was typical at the time the Twilight War came out for WotC to also release a related anthology. In this case, the Antho was called "Realms of War." Alas, that book is long out of print and the is not available in e-format.

I mention this because my short story in that anthology, "Continuum," takes place (in part) after the end of SHADOWSTORM but before the beginning of SHADOWREALM and depicts an event that's important to the evolving relationship between Brennus and Rivalen.

So, for those interested, I've published Continuum on my website and you can read it here if you're so inclined: http://paulskemp.net/blog/continuum-a-short-story/
Seravin Posted - 13 Jul 2018 : 08:26:56
Yep - 5e undoes the changes and Sembia is back to Sembia - so I'm okay there. A huge pity they can't just make Thay back to how it was pre-Haunted Lands. As I've stated a huge number of times, Vassa would've have made a much better place for Szass to rule as undead lich king; and keep Thay the Mageocracy.

As for Sembia - I did have a huge love for the gothic cities, the Sembia series, and the detailed write ups the cities got in the 2nd Edition material. It was blank in 1st Edition because it was meant to the the DMs playground, but they reverted quickly in 2nd edition to have it detailed out. A Merchantocracy to me *is* interesting, and sort of akin to a Meritocracy and advanced capitalism ruling which would have been ahead of its time.

Why couldn't the Shade just rule their flying cities and park them over Anauroch or the Stonelands? Would have added them to the world, they could still be a threat and fly anywhere, but Sembia wuld have stayed where it is? Oh right..we need RSE to DESTROY what was there and remove things people like so we can add "the cool"! It was typical thinking of the time and has all been undone now at least.
Irennan Posted - 13 Jul 2018 : 03:14:10
What was done to Sembia has been undone during the transition to the 5e era Forgotten Realms anyway. Personally, I enjoyed this series despite its impact, but there's one change (no spoilers) that I didn't like--at all. Then again, that change too has been undone, and unlike many other changes that received a well deserved "rollback" this particular one also got to be undone through a novel, rather than a few lines in tangentially related novels, or in a sourcebook.

The 2 series that I hated from the bottom of my heart were Empyrean Odyessey and Lady Penitent, because of their changes, wild mistakes (in the latter), and because they weren't even good IMO (LP also had many real WTF moments--not of the good kind). You could really tell that it was just WotC pressing their hands to have stuff happen for 4e (and they admitted as much). The Haunted Lands trilogy (Thay) was a very good series, written under a misguided editorial mandate. Too bad, really.

Then again, the transition to the 5e era undid EO and LP, while Thay has undergone some changes towards its previous version, but it's pretty much what it was after the Haunted Lands.
VikingLegion Posted - 13 Jul 2018 : 02:57:52
I finished Shadowbred a couple days ago. Meant to write a review yesterday but got sidetracked. Anyway, all I can say is Damn it's good to read Kemp's work again! I had forgotten how intense and tension-filled his writing can be. Apologies to all the other writers, but it sometimes seems like this guy is on another plane of existence.

I also really like how well he tied in recent events from other series into this one. The Rain of Fire (which was his own, so not much research necessary there), the Rage of Dragons, the Elven Return to Cormanthyr. All this extra detail really validates those other storylines and makes them feel like they made a difference rather than being the next disposable RSE that doesn't shake or shatter anything. One of my biggest and oft' voiced complaints of Greenwood's works is how a nation or organization can have droves and droves of its best soldiers, mages, priests, etc. get slaughtered off and then 2 months later they are absolutely no worse for wear. But here we see Kemp illustrate the cumulative effects on Sembia - her farmlands, her economy, even her morale and self-confidence - making the nation ripe for insidious propaganda and a civil war. It's almost like certain types of leaders thrive when their nation is struggling, as a fearful populace is one that more readily gives up its own civil liberties in order to "Keep those barbarians from our gates!" Reminds me of the excellent Harvey Dent quote in The Dark Knight where he describes exactly this phenomenon when the Romans appoint a "temporary" dictator and then said leader decides he doesn't want to give up the reins.

Moving on, I was really surprised when the Selkirk brothers got offed, particularly Miklos, as he was pretty well established in the Last Mythal trilogy. I figured he'd be a fixture in Sembian politics for quite some time. Apparently not.

Has Erevis Cale perhaps grown a little too strong? His shadowstep ability seems to have tremendous range and no limit to how frequently he can use it, not even a mention of it tiring or straining him in the slightest. That alone would make him an infuriating and extremely difficult to beat opponent. But then the healing factor! What is it about regeneration we find so appealing in our heroes? Because it allows them to take incredible amounts of punishment, but yet they still have to suffer through the pain, making their actions all the more noble? Throw in well-above average swordwork, a very powerful magical blade (Weaveshear), several other magical trinkets, and powerful clerical spells, and Cale is becoming nigh unbeatable. But unlike other Chosen, I really dig how conflicted he is, which allows the character to still be compelling even as his personal power levels continue to rise.

Elyril stole the show. Her insanity/addiction to minddust is so well written. Half the time I don't know if what she's seeing is a sign from her goddess or just her being bat-poop crazy. Magadon's arc is also heating up in a good way. I liked him in the earlier trilogy but now he's getting really interesting.

@Seravin - I know you don't care for this trilogy because it's going to transform Sembia. All I can say to that is: I don't think it's going to affect me as much, simply because I never had much of a feel for Sembia. They've always just been that rich, greedy, mercantile country that tries to buy everyone out and is a thorn in Cormyr's side. Meh, not enough to really resonate with me. True, it did start to flesh out a bit more in the earlier Uskevren books, but even still all I really learned was they have a deep, shared racism against elves. So... if the whole nation gets turned into spooky "shadowland", that's not going to bother me as much as what I know will be happening to Thay, for example.

Currently reading book 2, Shadowstorm and am tearing through it at an alarming rate!
Seravin Posted - 13 Jul 2018 : 00:11:02
quote:
Originally posted by VikingLegion

DISCLAIMER: I'm tired and cranky as I write this

As I've already explained I see the gods as more remote, almost elemental forces - geniuses within their own spheres of interest, but noncommittal to most anything outside of them. Anything more than that and I find the stories become boring, with the mortal characters being led around like so much livestock. But that's just my personal interpretation, and as Arannis stated, it's not likely any of us are going to change anyone else's mind. I'll be happy to keep this discussion going, as I think it's been a lively and fun debate, but otherwise I will proceed with the reviews:





To me, Gods in the Realms should not be directly intervening, but would grant spells and visions to their priests and paladins (and occassionally their Chosen in DIRE situatons) to help them carry out the God's tasks in their portfolio.

The only time a God in FR should get directly involved is when an opposing God chooses to intervene directly.

This is why I hated Evermeet - (sorry love Elaine) - Lloth was allowed to intervene to start a majorr war against Evermeet but the Good Elf Gods did nothing to stop it or help, and the consequences to their priests were massive. If Lloth hadn't gotten involved, okay, mortals do their thing, but if only the Evil gods intervene directly, what are the God goods there for?

Just my sense. I DO agree with you about Jeff Grubb's portrayal of Gods...Finder is the only one he should write as a character since Finder is a newly made God and very low power. The other Gods should only be written as concepts and not really be understood by mortals unless in Avatar form on Toril...that's my thinking!
Seravin Posted - 13 Jul 2018 : 00:03:57
Good discussion all, and thanks for the shout out Viking and Denzar :) Unfortunatley I tend to find the writer's inconsistencies as an avid reader and re-reader of the novels and sourcebooks. I'd have made a good editor for consistency in any case I believe. Apparently (a Facebook thread going on now) Richard Lee Byers didn't read Red Magic OR the Simbul's Gift before he wrote the Undead/UnHoly/UnClean trilogy in Thay..which..explains a heck of a lot to me with how the Zulkirs are portrayed so differently to the Simbul's Gift in particular. Is it too much for these writers to read other novelists work that is SET in the area they are writing about and with the characters they are writing about? Especially when it is only 2 books? I guess so. Sigh. The inconsistencies can kind of ruin otherwise great books for me if I let them.

And to clarify - I never said Selune should show up in Avatar form and blast them...just that a huge heresy over a long period of time should have had a response from her or her followers to stop that, and yes, anytime a mortal speaks a dieties name they are able to hear it and act on it if they wish. That was mentioned in Finder's Bane and Tymora's Luck.

Ahh Shadowborn. Hope you enjoyed. I just couldn't get into the Shade craze of the late 3rd edition.
VikingLegion Posted - 11 Jul 2018 : 01:52:44
Before moving on to the next book I actually read an online short story called Bold as Brass by Clayton Emery (author of the Netheril Trilogy). If anyone is wondering, yes he did use the word "spanked" in this story (that only makes sense if you've read the Netheril reviews). The story behind this story was intriguing, as it was originally to be part of an anthology called NEVERWINTER NIGHTS, in which each of the 7 stories focused on a different artifact, dropping Easter Eggs as to their locations so that players could track them down in the video game of that name. But then the software company ended up simply putting all the artifacts for sale in the game from easy to find vendors, negating the purpose of the book and ultimately getting it cancelled. This thread has had a few authors peek in from time to time, I'd LOVE to hear from any others that may have been involved in this project and whether or not they have access to their own stories and have hosted them somewhere.

The story itself was a fairly entertaining yarn about two blacksmiths - one in Neverwinter and the other an efreeti in the City of Brass on the Elemental Plane of Fire. Both run into some serious problems, with the human getting booted from his guild and the efreeti being forced to flee on pain of execution. They meet up and end up sort of solving each other's problems. Nothing earth-shattering, but I enjoyed it for what it was.

Up next: just tonight I finished Paul S. Kemp's Shadowborn. Review will come tomorrow.
VikingLegion Posted - 11 Jul 2018 : 01:47:44
DISCLAIMER: I'm tired and cranky as I write this

I agree with Hyperion that every writer and designer has a more-than-slightly different handle on what the gods are and how vigorously they intervene/participate in the world of their followers. Are they omniscient and omnipotent beings so far beyond our ken we have no hope of ever understanding them? Or, like the ancient Greek Gods, are they (despite their immense power levels) full of very human character flaws like anger, pride, lust, etc.? Or are they utter buffoons that literally trip over housecats and fall on their arses like Iyachtu Xvim did in Tymora's Luck? I guess it's fine to pile on RAS for going out on a limb and using a goodly aligned church in a nefarious manner (which is 100x more interesting than Banites or Cyricists being bad *yawn*) but Jeff Grubb can portray the gods with about as much solemnity and dignity as a Jar-Jar Binks scene. To make it worse, he's not just writing about errant followers of the gods, but rather the gods themselves while going full-fledged Three Stooges. But since Grubb is a quasi-deity himself on this forum, he apparently has his own set of rules...

As I've already explained I see the gods as more remote, almost elemental forces - geniuses within their own spheres of interest, but noncommittal to most anything outside of them. Anything more than that and I find the stories become boring, with the mortal characters being led around like so much livestock. But that's just my personal interpretation, and as Arannis stated, it's not likely any of us are going to change anyone else's mind. I'll be happy to keep this discussion going, as I think it's been a lively and fun debate, but otherwise I will proceed with the reviews:

Hyperion Posted - 09 Jul 2018 : 12:53:01
Interesting, thanks for the citation. This indeed could explain all the Selunite thing with a plot by Shar (admitting the equal rank thing) and makes in general all godly things much more messy (and interesting) with some gods playing dirty tricks on others.
Mirtek Posted - 09 Jul 2018 : 12:09:38
quote:
Originally posted by Hyperion

or at least their omniscience can be limited by other Gods, which was never stated in any Forgotten Realms rpg product, but often appears to be so only in the novels.
Actually it does. Faiths&Pantheons state that deities can block the remote sensing of deities of lesser divine rank (or maybe it was even against deities of equal divine rank)
Hyperion Posted - 09 Jul 2018 : 10:26:00
The problem with Gods is the same not only in the Realms but in all other D&D worlds. Simply different designers and writers had different ideas on them and no clear line was ever given either by TSR or Wizards. Salvatore obviously has some bad feelings with the Catholic Church and likes to draw a paralel with its worst moments in his novels, as he did the same also in The (non-FR) DemonWars Saga.
We can only assume there is no clear rule, and Gods make big mistakes as humans do. In this particular case, probably the best explanation is a hidden plot by the Church of Shar which succeeded in smearing Selune's name in the city and also hid all what was happened, as Demzer supposed.
This implies the Gods have not omniscience, or at least their omniscience can be limited by other Gods, which was never stated in any Forgotten Realms rpg product, but often appears to be so only in the novels.
Arannis Posted - 09 Jul 2018 : 00:35:32
Personally I lean more towards Dazzlerdal's view of the gods, even though I will agree it is not entirely canonical. Beyond certain extreme instances and with their chosen, I feel Gods should keep to themselves. Like I said this is more my view on the Gods then I think is canon. I feel if the God's are too present and active it starts to feel like things are "fated by the Gods" and less player driven choice.

Not sure I articulated that as well as I could have, but I do think that this current banter is a bit circular in that neither side is going to convince the other. My 2 cents is let it go back to VikingLegion's reviews.
Demzer Posted - 07 Jul 2018 : 19:11:11
quote:
Originally posted by VikingLegion

In Elaine Cunningham's novel Thornhold we see a [fallen] paladin of Tyr (a Lawful Good deity) remain in control of his order for years. I just went back and checked on that discussion (starts on page 11 of this thread) and I have to congratulate Seravin on being consistent. You said "Foul!" back then for many of the same reasons as what you list for Selune being complacent in this scandal.



Good job Seravin!

quote:
Originally posted by VikingLegion

Tempus is practically war incarnate, that's what he wants to promote above all else. How would he do if he had to attend a basic economics class taught by Waterdhavian merchants? Sure, sure, I know someone will counter with the stats for avatars and how he probably has a 25 Intelligence or something, but I don't buy it. I think within minutes into the lecture his mind would wander to thoughts of smashing his desk, handing out the 4 legs to 4 different students, and watching them battle it out for the "A" that can be given out to one and only one student.



Probably, because in his mind basic economics is not important and the best is whoever can win in a fight so if there is a judgement to be done is a contest of might and not one of wits.
But why would the god of war attend a basic economics class taught by Waterdhavian merchants again? Not to be antagonistic but if to prove a point you have to make up unbelievable circumstances than maybe the point is wrong.
The gods are more than their portfolio, even if in a couple of novels they were portrayed as idiotic monomaniacs.


quote:
Originally posted by VikingLegion

So, that being said, Selune's portfolio is light, the moon, stars, navigation, navigators, wanderers, questers, and goodly lycanthropes. Perhaps the plight of the girls doesn't even ping her radar - not because she is callous and indifferent to suffering, but simply because it is so far from what is foremost in her mind/essence, it simply does not register or resonate in her attention. Now if this church was one of Tyr (justice) or Ilmater (suffering), I think that would be such a grievous outrage it would have to be addressed immediately, but not so much for Selune, despite her "goodly" nature.



The problem here is not only that she is not intervening to save some poor girls from rape somewhere, the problem is that rape is perpetrated in her temple by her followers in her name. Now you get why she should've been involved?

quote:
Originally posted by VikingLegion

Lastly, and I hesitate even to bring this up, but my feelings while reading the book were that the girls were probably somewhere in the 14-18 year old range. And while the thought of a considerably older man engaging in sex with a 14 year old girl is repellent to our modern standards, in medieval times this was undoubtedly more common. Of course I know FR isn't 800AD Europe, but it would appear, access to healing magic notwithstanding, that the life expectancy of all but the very rich is similar. A girl is considered ready (physically and emotionally) for intercourse as soon as she "flowers", thus becoming a woman.



The problem is in the consent, obtained through lies and cohercion.

quote:
Originally posted by VikingLegion

Hmm... since menstruation is tied to the lunar cycle, could it not be postulated that these Selunites might even think, in their own twisted way, they are performing some kind of religious ceremony? Gross, I know.



Would've been a "nice touch", with which I mean that at least the author would've showed some tailoring of the heinous act for the specific church. The trouble is that in the Selunite clergy the whole menstruation/lunar cycle connection is already played out in the fact that the clergy is female dominated, the highest ranking clergy are female and the extraplanar servants (the Shards) are all elevated female priests.
While in this temple the head priest is male, there are no female priests, the title of the head priest is weird (Blessed Voice Proper? The 2E godbooks give plenty of inspiration for the name of ranking priests for all clergies of the Realms) and the names don't sound Calishite ... but I digress.


quote:
Originally posted by VikingLegion

Sorry if I offended anyone. But my fantasy sensibilities have always steered towards GoT type fare, as I think a certain level of grittiness and "people are awful and generally do awful, or at least extremely selfish things" make novels more immersive and believable for me.



Not offended, but when I want GoT I get GoT, when I read the Realms I want the Realms.

quote:
Originally posted by VikingLegion

As for the sale of indulgences thing - I just think it goes to show that any person and/or organization can become corrupted by money. Again, coin and commerce is miles away from anything in Selune's portfolio so is she really going to invest a whole lot of time and energy into how her churches manage their finances? Gold = status and more beautiful displays in every temple (it was mentioned several times how grand the artwork and statuary was in this particular edifice), which raises the "majesty" of the order, which in turn may draw in more followers and a more devout level of faith "energy". Again I don't think Selune would be totally aligned with how they are doing it, I think maybe she's blissfully unaware as she undoubtedly has thousands of other concerns on her plate.



I have no problem with greed in the church, the idea of the sale of indulgences in the Realms is stupid, that's not how it works and there are faiths dedicated to explain how it works and care that everything works according to plans. Selune may have turned a blind eye on the sales of indulgences alone (not the rape in her name), maybe sending dream visions to try and get the priests involved to reconsider such a whacky idea to rise money, but the appointed god of death and his church would've taken issues with the encroachment. And before the ToT the god of death was the evil Myrkul, so one possible way in which it should've gone is that after some time of selling of indulgences and raping girls the temple would've been attacked by a horde of undeads herded by followers of Myrkul and the "Selunite" would've found out the hard way that Selune was not granting them spells nor the power to repel the undeads, with messy results. Note that Calimshan's history (Calimshan is the nation in which the city of Memnon lies) has plenty of examples of these kind of crusades, there were yet ongoing bloody fights between the faith of Shar and Sharess in the 1370s.

PS: sent you a Private Message, VikingLegion

EDIT: ... did I? Can't find the message in my outbox, anyway, as soon as you want me to drop the conversation I will, just shut me up in whatever way you prefer, it's your thread!
Mirtek Posted - 07 Jul 2018 : 18:47:48
quote:
Originally posted by VikingLegion

In Elaine Cunningham's novel Thornhold we see a [fallen] paladin of Tyr (a Lawful Good deity) remain in control of his order for years. I just went back and checked on that discussion (starts on page 11 of this thread) and I have to congratulate Seravin on being consistent. You said "Foul!" back then for many of the same reasons as what you list for Selune being complacent in this scandal.

Note that his guy was backed by Cyric
Demzer Posted - 07 Jul 2018 : 18:41:17
quote:
Originally posted by dazzlerdal

Unfortunately it has long been the opinion on the boards that the gods are in constant communication with their followers, know everything that happens, and will always intervene in anything to do with or opposing their portfolio. And that opinion is usually voiced by saying "the gods wouldn't allow that" followed by lots of shouting down of anyone who disagrees.

Your inexperience is not a hindrance in discussions like this because it's theoretical and questioning which is always helped by a bit of independence from the subject.

By all means discuss it but you will get shouted down a lot by people who quote ad nauseam until the discussion fails.



You have the right to voice your opinion, I have the right to disagree with it and explain why it is wrong. It's called a discussion, you're not freely granted your point in a discussion, you have to prove it.


quote:
Originally posted by dazzlerdal

You only have to look at almost any event in FR history to note a lack of deific interference which means they cannot or do not interfere directly. Look at the number of times a clergy was infiltrated or attacked or even wiped out which points to a god not being omniscient either and goes against the arguments people are making here. Harper's infiltrate evil churches, agents infiltrate good churches and that would not be possible if a god knows about it and interferes (even indirectly) with guaranteed success which is what people are implying by saying evil cannot operate within a good church for very long. Heresies are the perfect example of gods being unable to interfere.



Every major event in the Realms has priests and followers of multiple faiths intervening left, right and center. Every war, every plague, every dragon flight, every big political manuevering, everything. The gods intervene through their agents, their churches, their favored creatures and even random mortals "chosen" for one reason or another.

Stop lying.

Churches are inflitrated and attacked and wiped out because they're made of mortals and mortals make mistakes and the deities suffer (up to extinction) if the bulk of their followers makes mistakes. That's why the deities police their own, that's why they have a tight grip on their faithful, especially since the ToT when they quite literally depend on the number and fervor of their followers.

Show us these Harpers posing as clerics of Bane, or Shar, or Bhaal or random evil faith #34 for more than a single scene, show us how they go about their daily cover-identity lives for years, you can quote sources too.

Heresies are handled differently than hostile take overs for the simple reasons that until something big happens (murder, war, acting against the ethos and not just preaching a slightly different dogma) the heretics may be re-admitted into the main body of the church.

If you've got any specific incident or heresy in mind, feel free to open another thread (I'm feeling really guilty about this derailing of VikingLegion's thread) and I'll chime in.
Demzer Posted - 07 Jul 2018 : 18:16:34
quote:
Originally posted by Taleras

I guess I just don't have an issue with drawing parallels from RW churches. Drawing paraellels makes stories more relatable to readers and therefore the autrocities committed are more meaningful in the context of the story. To me, and my Realms INexperience this was totally okay, and not deeply inconsistent with canonical sources.



To draw paralleles, two things must be very similar in the first place or two events must occur in the same way. The church of Selune and the catholic church at the time of the sale of indulgences are not even remotely the same (and all faiths in the Realms were created different from RW monotheistic faiths on purpose). The afterlife of the Realms works in a different way than that portrayed in Dante's Divina Commedia and there is no reason why anyone in the Realms, be he/she priest or peasant, would think things may go any other way (ie. the Fugue is the same as the christian's Purgatory), mainly because there are multiple churches whose only mission is governing death and explaining it to the masses (remember Kelemvor making his Spire crystalline to let anyone see through its walls?).
[A little aside, but the churches of Myrkul before ToT and Kelemvor after ToT should've been the first to move when the "Selunites" started publicly telling people that they could influence things on the Fugue, that's an encroachment on their domain and the portfolio of their divine patron that, especially the Myrkulites, would not have let go unopposed]

quote:
Originally posted by Taleras

I didn't think that the lesser clerics had casted spells, however, and I'm just asking, if Selune isn't that "instantly know everything, teleport to the place and splatter the evil doers" is it possible that she didn't know that the lesser clerics were involved?



When the transgressions are few and far between maybe, when the same thing is repeated publicly, over and over again daily, by all involved for an extended period of time it's just unbelievable.

quote:
Originally posted by Taleras

Does she know the location and associations of every of her followers?



Not if they don't pray and don't say her name, but these guys just kept going on shouting her name to everyone. Also when the gods give you spells to use they want to know how you use it, it's why they're gods and you are not.


quote:
Originally posted by Taleras

Maybe the lesser clerics were good other than their association with the priests committing the atrocities?



Nope, they were abusers too.

quote:
Originally posted by Taleras

It seems to me that the Gods in the Realms are not infallible, if even just from reading Shadowdale where they are confused about what's happening. I totally get that the length of time seems insanely long to let something like this happen, but they are fallible, yes? Could it be that Selune was busy with other issues across Faerun?



Using the Realm Shattering Event in which the Overgod of Toril cast the gods down on the Prime Material Plane as a measure of their fallibility seems a bit biased. They're fallible in the sense that they can be thwarted by other powers, mortals, fate, whatever. But gods in the Realms have omniscience and final say when it comes to dispensing their divine power to their followers. Selune is not a mortal, she isn't limited in the amount of actions she can take in any given amount of time, by the rules of D&D and the canon of the Realms she had to know and had to intervene.

quote:
Originally posted by Taleras

I guess I meant all of the above here. Mostly visions, portents, etc. I don't have concrete examples, but it feels like there are precedents for priests using the commonality of these occurrences to lie to their followers, the main one that sticks out in my mind is that Sapphire Crescent one where the Oghman priests cover up a murder and try to capture some of their own followers who are trying to solve the crime. But maybe I'm mixing up other settings and thinking of that as a general rule across fantasy settings.



Ah, so now some followers of Oghma are already involved in solving the murder? Seems a pretty big difference from an entire temple devoted to abusing women and nobody doing anything about it for 30+ years, don't you think?

quote:
Originally posted by Taleras

That totally makes sense, where the Gods of Good and Evil don't have shades of grey, and that's where the mortals hang.

I'm not trying to be difficult, I'm just trying to understand and discuss. I also hate finding canonical inconsistencies in my reading, and if there are gaps that the author leaves that could explain how/why something happens in their story, I would prefer that there is a reason that would happen. The Selune thing never once crossed my mind as unbelievable within this setting until this thread came up. Especially since authors are only mere mortals and whatever sort of editing/fact checking system FR has used obviously isn't up to snuff for the amount of novels that were published.



No problem. I don't sense animosity in our exchange, and I apologize if you perceive some in my replies. To my partial justification, it's been tiring these last few months with the same discussion popping over and over again. You are only asking questions and trying to reply to those is what these forums are set up for.

I agree that it's not big deal for RAS, he slipped on something, the story proceeds smoothly, the reader gets vivid images, everyone is happy. But if someone comes in here asking if what happens in the story is the standard for the church of Selune I feel compelled to say that it's not and that's inconsistent with the rest of Realms canon.
Again, everyone is free to do whatever they want in their own games/narratives/fanfics/whatever, I myself as a DM have changed an awful lot of things about the Realms (still stuck in the 1370s). But those are "my" Realms not the canon, published Realms.

To "salvage" this story, if you want to keep it mostly intact (bear in mind the author doesn't imply any of the following), all I can offer is the following.
The temple of Selune in Memnon is in truth a temple in common with 3 other deities (as stated in Empires of the Shining Sea, the 2E gaming sourcebook by Steven E. Schend and Dale Donovan that covers the city of Memnon), one of which is the chaotic neutral deity Ibrandul, which in the ToT was killed and impersonated by the evil Shar, mortal enemy of Selune. The head priest, main abuser and would-be father of Entreri passingly mentions the fact that they're studying the tomes of the faithful of Ibrandul starting after the ToT.
So, twisting the timeline a lot and assuming that either the followers of Ibrandul where nuts on their own or that they were already corrupted by Shar (that was homing in on substituting their deity), you can say that these heinous Selunites practices were inspired by the faith of Ibrandul (Shar) and that it was Shar that was giving her blessing to the endeavors of these priests, feeding off the desperation, false hopes and doomed existence of the abused and frauded. This would not solve the issue that they were openly acting as "Selunites" for a lot of time and no real Selunite showed up to confront them but would avoid implying that a good deity just stood by and let people be abused by her church in her name.
Irennan Posted - 07 Jul 2018 : 16:56:49
@VikingLegion What you list might be Selune's spheres of influence, but her ethos and teachings are all about tolerance, hope, and helping each other. I'm pretty sure that if she were to--say--receive prayers by the victims (and remember that Faerunians pray to all deities as a general rule, Selune included), she would surely do something (which, like Demzer says isn't the same as showing up in avatar form and kicking the bad guy's ass, but an escalation of signs, warnings, and then prompting others of her faith to action). A god's portfolio isn't always all that they are about, as proven by more deities than just Selune.

@dazzlerdal GoT is a different genre from FR. This doesn't mean that the gods should swoop in and solve everything, but no one is advocating for that. The thing is that corruption within a FR goodly faith, while possible, should not follow the same course as, or be handled like, corruption in a RL church, for clear reasons (also, it has become a trope, and even to those of us who are not religious and tired of the kind of sh*t that plagues RL religions, at this point it just stinks to constantly see paragons of good being treated like a******s in disguise because they are clerics, gods, or stuff tied to religion). Realism isn't just copying RL, it's writing logical consequences of the premises of your world.
dazzlerdal Posted - 07 Jul 2018 : 16:30:08
Well put. GoT did set the bar for realism in a fantasy setting and all other settings now have catching up to do.
VikingLegion Posted - 07 Jul 2018 : 16:00:34
In Elaine Cunningham's novel Thornhold we see a [fallen] paladin of Tyr (a Lawful Good deity) remain in control of his order for years. I just went back and checked on that discussion (starts on page 11 of this thread) and I have to congratulate Seravin on being consistent. You said "Foul!" back then for many of the same reasons as what you list for Selune being complacent in this scandal.

As for the rest, it feels like there have been good points made on both sides and I'm fine with keeping it going in a respectful manner. For my part, I contend that the gods are actually *less* than mortals, because they are so hamstrung by their own portfolios they have little ability (or desire) to consider anything else. Tempus is practically war incarnate, that's what he wants to promote above all else. How would he do if he had to attend a basic economics class taught by Waterdhavian merchants? Sure, sure, I know someone will counter with the stats for avatars and how he probably has a 25 Intelligence or something, but I don't buy it. I think within minutes into the lecture his mind would wander to thoughts of smashing his desk, handing out the 4 legs to 4 different students, and watching them battle it out for the "A" that can be given out to one and only one student. So, that being said, Selune's portfolio is light, the moon, stars, navigation, navigators, wanderers, questers, and goodly lycanthropes. Perhaps the plight of the girls doesn't even ping her radar - not because she is callous and indifferent to suffering, but simply because it is so far from what is foremost in her mind/essence, it simply does not register or resonate in her attention. Now if this church was one of Tyr (justice) or Ilmater (suffering), I think that would be such a grievous outrage it would have to be addressed immediately, but not so much for Selune, despite her "goodly" nature.

Lastly, and I hesitate even to bring this up, but my feelings while reading the book were that the girls were probably somewhere in the 14-18 year old range. And while the thought of a considerably older man engaging in sex with a 14 year old girl is repellent to our modern standards, in medieval times this was undoubtedly more common. Of course I know FR isn't 800AD Europe, but it would appear, access to healing magic notwithstanding, that the life expectancy of all but the very rich is similar. A girl is considered ready (physically and emotionally) for intercourse as soon as she "flowers", thus becoming a woman. Hmm... since menstruation is tied to the lunar cycle, could it not be postulated that these Selunites might even think, in their own twisted way, they are performing some kind of religious ceremony? Gross, I know. Sorry if I offended anyone. But my fantasy sensibilities have always steered towards GoT type fare, as I think a certain level of grittiness and "people are awful and generally do awful, or at least extremely selfish things" make novels more immersive and believable for me.

As for the sale of indulgences thing - I just think it goes to show that any person and/or organization can become corrupted by money. Again, coin and commerce is miles away from anything in Selune's portfolio so is she really going to invest a whole lot of time and energy into how her churches manage their finances? Gold = status and more beautiful displays in every temple (it was mentioned several times how grand the artwork and statuary was in this particular edifice), which raises the "majesty" of the order, which in turn may draw in more followers and a more devout level of faith "energy". Again I don't think Selune would be totally aligned with how they are doing it, I think maybe she's blissfully unaware as she undoubtedly has thousands of other concerns on her plate.
dazzlerdal Posted - 07 Jul 2018 : 15:24:50
Your thoughts taleras exactly mirror my own. To me a setting and it's stories have to be believable from a human viewpoint or the immersion is broken.

Unfortunately it has long been the opinion on the boards that the gods are in constant communication with their followers, know everything that happens, and will always intervene in anything to do with or opposing their portfolio. And that opinion is usually voiced by saying "the gods wouldn't allow that" followed by lots of shouting down of anyone who disagrees.

Your inexperience is not a hindrance in discussions like this because it's theoretical and questioning which is always helped by a bit of independence from the subject.

By all means discuss it but you will get shouted down a lot by people who quote ad nauseam until the discussion fails.

You only have to look at almost any event in FR history to note a lack of deific interference which means they cannot or do not interfere directly. Look at the number of times a clergy was infiltrated or attacked or even wiped out which points to a god not being omniscient either and goes against the arguments people are making here. Harper's infiltrate evil churches, agents infiltrate good churches and that would not be possible if a god knows about it and interferes (even indirectly) with guaranteed success which is what people are implying by saying evil cannot operate within a good church for very long. Heresies are the perfect example of gods being unable to interfere.

Keep questioning everything and form your own opinions. Just because something is written as so in the realms doesn't mean you should accept it. Quite a lot is poorly considered and implemented (especially recently) and if you question it and propose alternatives then one day the canon may change in your favour.
Taleras Posted - 07 Jul 2018 : 14:32:49
quote:
Originally posted by Demzer
And it's all good, the problem is that the author should not have picked Selune's church, probably no church at all. He could have gone with any kind of organization pretending to help the poor while abusing them without messing with Faerunian faiths, instead he wanted to draw a parallelism with RW churches and in doing so portrayed a situation deeply inconsistent with the rest of the canonical sources.


I guess I just don't have an issue with drawing parallels from RW churches. Drawing paraellels makes stories more relatable to readers and therefore the autrocities committed are more meaningful in the context of the story. To me, and my Realms INexperience this was totally okay, and not deeply inconsistent with canonical sources.

quote:

We are back to square one here: you don't have to think as gods intervening as some kind of deux-ex-machina that instantly know everything, teleport to the place and splatter the evil doers. That's what Mystra's Chosen and herself do and it's a stinging anomaly in the Realms and one that has caused the rise of a lot of misconceptions. The rest of the faith go through all the list I made above and this takes time. For the true followers of the god to understand what is happening, what the visions and dreams mean, who are the evil doers, it takes time. How much? I don't know, weeks? Months? It depends on how the evil doers are disguising their actions. In the case at hand we have people saying they're clerics of Selune giving public sermons in a big city daily, preaching a dogma that's completely outside that of Selune (and of the Faerunian pantheon in general, I suspect the author was to eager to show he liked Dante's Purgatorio without checking how afterlife in the Realms worked) kind of easy to spot. Also some of the lesser clerics cast spells in the book and this is just laughable 'cause it implies that Selune was still giving them spells, after 30+ years of abuses (and no, I would have loved for some big reveal that there is another deity behind it but no mention is done in the novel).

I didn't think that the lesser clerics had casted spells, however, and I'm just asking, if Selune isn't that "instantly know everything, teleport to the place and splatter the evil doers" is it possible that she didn't know that the lesser clerics were involved? Does she know the location and associations of every of her followers? Maybe the lesser clerics were good other than their association with the priests committing the atrocities? It seems to me that the Gods in the Realms are not infallible, if even just from reading Shadowdale where they are confused about what's happening. I totally get that the length of time seems insanely long to let something like this happen, but they are fallible, yes? Could it be that Selune was busy with other issues across Faerun?


quote:

Again, if by "intervening" you mean taking avatar form then no god of the Realms does that in everyday life. If you mean sending visions, portents and their churches, yes they do and that's an integral part of the setting.

I guess I meant all of the above here. Mostly visions, portents, etc. I don't have concrete examples, but it feels like there are precedents for priests using the commonality of these occurrences to lie to their followers, the main one that sticks out in my mind is that Sapphire Crescent one where the Oghman priests cover up a murder and try to capture some of their own followers who are trying to solve the crime. But maybe I'm mixing up other settings and thinking of that as a general rule across fantasy settings.


quote:

"The gods are mysterious" goes only so far without being ridicolous, no good deity would allow for 30+ years of abuses in it's name, heck not even a neutral one (look at Helm and at it's handful of followers in Matzica). This is a fantasy setting where true evil and true good both exist and the deities that embody the good principles of human ethos do so without shades of gray or other shenanigans, that's the business of mortals. If you in your home games and narratives want it to be different by all means go for it but the canonical Realms do not host this kind of shallow copycat of RW monotheistic religions.


That totally makes sense, where the Gods of Good and Evil don't have shades of grey, and that's where the mortals hang.

I'm not trying to be difficult, I'm just trying to understand and discuss. I also hate finding canonical inconsistencies in my reading, and if there are gaps that the author leaves that could explain how/why something happens in their story, I would prefer that there is a reason that would happen. The Selune thing never once crossed my mind as unbelievable within this setting until this thread came up. Especially since authors are only mere mortals and whatever sort of editing/fact checking system FR has used obviously isn't up to snuff for the amount of novels that were published.
Demzer Posted - 07 Jul 2018 : 10:45:29
quote:
Originally posted by Taleras

I kind of thought the whole point of the story is how Entreri isn't inherently evil, but twisted because of his childhood experiences. I honestly don't remember the details of his "redemption", but dealing with the church could have been just that.



And it's all good, the problem is that the author should not have picked Selune's church, probably no church at all. He could have gone with any kind of organization pretending to help the poor while abusing them without messing with Faerunian faiths, instead he wanted to draw a parallelism with RW churches and in doing so portrayed a situation deeply inconsistent with the rest of the canonical sources.

quote:
Originally posted by Taleras

I'm far from a Realms expert, but I'm just saying how I saw it. I totally get the 30 years of evil doings in a good church (I didn't think it was quite that long, but certainly long enough to justify a quicker intervention) vs. a short period of time for the Oghma incident, but if you're a God and able to intervene, why would you let any of it happen? Regardless of the time period? Or rather, if you're a God, why would time matter?



We are back to square one here: you don't have to think as gods intervening as some kind of deux-ex-machina that instantly know everything, teleport to the place and splatter the evil doers. That's what Mystra's Chosen and herself do and it's a stinging anomaly in the Realms and one that has caused the rise of a lot of misconceptions. The rest of the faith go through all the list I made above and this takes time. For the true followers of the god to understand what is happening, what the visions and dreams mean, who are the evil doers, it takes time. How much? I don't know, weeks? Months? It depends on how the evil doers are disguising their actions. In the case at hand we have people saying they're clerics of Selune giving public sermons in a big city daily, preaching a dogma that's completely outside that of Selune (and of the Faerunian pantheon in general, I suspect the author was too eager to show he liked Dante's Purgatorio without checking how afterlife in the Realms worked) kind of easy to spot. Also some of the lesser clerics cast spells in the book and this is just laughable 'cause it implies that Selune was still giving them spells, after 30+ years of abuses (and no, I would have loved for some big reveal that there is another deity behind it but no mention is done in the novel).


quote:
Originally posted by Taleras

The Gods of the Realms definitely intervene in everyday life more than any other setting I've ever read, but I always thought of Gods in any setting as beyond intervening in most matters, if only because drawing the line on where to intervene and where not too becomes too blurry.



Again, if by "intervening" you mean taking avatar form then no god of the Realms does that in everyday life. If you mean sending visions, portents and their churches, yes they do and that's an integral part of the setting.


quote:
Originally posted by Taleras

Of course, if you're a God nothing should be blurry...but that's the whole point of Gods, we're just mere mortals, how could we understand how they think and why they do what they do?



"The gods are mysterious" goes only so far without being ridicolous, no good deity would allow for 30+ years of abuses in it's name, heck not even a neutral one (look at Helm and at it's handful of followers in Maztica). This is a fantasy setting where true evil and true good both exist and the deities that embody the good principles of human ethos do so without shades of gray or other shenanigans, that's the business of mortals. If you in your home games and narratives want it to be different by all means go for it but the canonical Realms do not host this kind of shallow copycat of RW monotheistic religions.

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