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Gary Dallison Posted - 25 Nov 2014 : 20:07:20
I'm looking for all things Moonshae. I've read the Moonshae book, the Halls of the High King adventure, Treasure Hunt adventure, Dragon 405, Dungeon 196, Dragon 362.

Are there any other Moonshae mentions anywhere in any other sourcebooks or magazines? Even if its only half relevant to the Moonshae such as Grond Peaksmasher, is he featured in any articles.

There doesn't seem to be a lot of concrete information about the area. I have an idea for an alternate take but would prefer it if there were a bit more info to go on.
25   L A T E S T    R E P L I E S    (Newest First)
Gary Dallison Posted - 29 May 2019 : 22:28:43
Also a good one but the ffolk lived there a long time ago and presumably built castles. The northmen were not averse to using the castles of the ffolk (norland), so I'd expect the same here. Plus wood doesn't do so well in damp conditions.

However, it's possible there are some forests on gnarhelm that are unmentioned (norland has a large forest but only mentioned once and later ignored).

It's a quandary. I shall probably put all the ideas in. Ffolk castles gradually fell into ruin. They built their own imitations that were abandoned due to maintenance costs and draughty conditions eventually taking up in the old hunting lodges. Civil unrest wrecked most of those and so the illuskan society is gradually degrading towards that of other northmen islands.
George Krashos Posted - 29 May 2019 : 22:19:55
Or perhaps it was built a long time ago when there were forests on Gnarhelm and stands as a relic and status symbol for the ruler of the isle.

-- George Krashos
Gary Dallison Posted - 29 May 2019 : 19:23:40
So the King of Gnarhelm lives in a wooden lodge.

Gnarhelm is a land of hills and cliffs, there are no large forests on Gnarhelm. Wood would not exactly be plentiful, whereas stone is everywhere in a mountainous region.

Gnarhelm has a relatively large fleet, i would imagine the wood was needed for its seafaring activities.

I understand why they said Gnarhelm had a wooden lodge as the King's house, because they wanted Gnarhelm to be another kingdom of northmen and the northmen dont use stone, but of course the people of Gnarhelm mine, so stonecutting would be a skill they should possess.

So now i need a reason why the King's lodge is made of wood. The Storm Knight article mentions that the followers of the Storm Knight attack noble castles so perhaps even the King has been affected by the Storm Knight. Also i've got a decade of bad winters at the turn of the 1300s so that would have made people hungry, especially in Gnarhelm where its population is at maximum capacity for its food production.
So perhaps the castles in Gnarhelm suffered a lot during the past few decades, moreover Gnarhelm is cold and windy and castles were really cold and draughty so perhaps they were never particularly popular and now have been replaced with small lodges (that are cosier but more vulnerable to attack).
Gary Dallison Posted - 29 May 2019 : 13:33:06
I'm definitely making them the only realm that uses horses for combat and transport (rather than for caravans, but Gwyneth hires are more like donkeys in my mind).

The original source book made no distinction between the origin of gnarhelm and the other northmen islands but I have made that distinction. I'm going for a derivative of northmen culture, so whereas the northmen only follow the strongest and best warriors, the illuskans are more civilised and recognise other strengths (knowledge, magic, politics) as important, thus allowing them to have a stable hereditary nobility (unlike northmen culture which will only follow war leaders).

I just came across the tomb of cymrych hugh in the prophet. That annoys me worse than darkwell. Cymrych hugh was buried in secret just outside of callidyrr northern border (which was all part of callidyrr then) and nobody found it. He also just happened to be buried with magic items that perfectly complemented the needs and abilities of the heroes that discovered them. Not happy. But my heralds of the high king organisation solves that problem and I have a few more royal regalia items to detail.
Barastir Posted - 29 May 2019 : 13:16:05
The entry on the northmen of Gnarhelm in the 1e Moonshaes book, telling they are not unlike other northmen in behavior but are more prone to ride, makes me think of Tolkien's Rohirrim.
Gary Dallison Posted - 29 May 2019 : 10:16:02
Gnarhelm seems to have little appetite for raising in the source books or novels, they work in the fields, mines, and fishing. So they seem to be much less aggressive than the northmen of norland, Oman, and norheim.
They also engage in trade with callidyrr, trading metal for something (presumably food as their food production is limited which in turn affects their population).
I'm thinking that gnarhelm is the trading gateway for the other northmen islands.
I figure most traders would avoid norland, norheim, and Oman for the fear of being raided or attacked. If you aren't strong enough you are liable to lose your cargo and your freedom (enslaved).
Gnarhelm however seems quite civilised so people trade with them and then they in turn trade with the northmen.

Other things are the tripartite nature of gnarhelm kingdom, it seems to be made of three major regions, each of which vie for control of the throne. I'm considering three major noble families, each related to the first king.
The nobles and their young sons are eager to prove their place in society and so engage in constant civil strife with each other for control of the throne. That's how the storm knight and his followers gain traction among the young nobility and persuade them to become guerilla fighters in their own country.
Gary Dallison Posted - 28 May 2019 : 21:20:06
That's not a bad idea, stornanter has a history of interactions with mythical creatures (the kraken that laeral had to drive away). I could have the horns actually be kraken tentacles, perhaps a former servant of the kraken that helped pass information to it before it attacked laeral (the beginning of a kraken society).

Cheers for the idea.
ericlboyd Posted - 28 May 2019 : 20:30:02
Originally posted by Gary Dallison

The novels at first glance provide a similar lack of information on Gnarhelm as elsewhere in the Moonshae Isles.

Prince Brandon wears a horned helm, the royal helm of his clan. Makes sense for it to be an item brought from stornanter, magical.

Of course vikings did not wear horns on their helmets, so i've not made the northmen have them thus far. A horned helmet would make the warriors of Gnarhelm different but i need a reason as to why it is horned.

Horned helmets can be used as weapons. (See dwarven battle ragers in Drizzt books and there were stats in one of the old splatbooks.)

Horned helmets likely represent some mythical horned beast.

Maybe the Faerunian Leviathian (see Elder Evils book) has horns?

Gary Dallison Posted - 28 May 2019 : 19:25:43
The novels at first glance provide a similar lack of information on Gnarhelm as elsewhere in the Moonshae Isles.

Prince Brandon wears a horned helm, the royal helm of his clan. Makes sense for it to be an item brought from stornanter, magical.

Of course vikings did not wear horns on their helmets, so i've not made the northmen have them thus far. A horned helmet would make the warriors of Gnarhelm different but i need a reason as to why it is horned.
Gary Dallison Posted - 25 May 2019 : 19:09:49
Read up on races of faerun to try and get an idea of illuskan society so I can flesh out gnarhelm.

I found that the illuskans detailed therein matched almost exactly to the northmen, but doesn't really match up with the populations of waterdeep, the savage frontier, etc.

Apparently illuskans respect only strength, love to fight, and don't like magic.

Now there are illuskans like that, the uthgar are part illuskan and match that perfectly, the islanders operate like that, but stornanter was ruled by a wizardess, waterdeep is filled with magic users and the illuskans aren't fighting all the time, more importantly they aren't expanding very much either despite their warlike nature.

I'm beginning to think that the islanders are the illuskans as depicted in races of faerun, but those on the sword coast have been civilised and now contain a large portion of tethyrian ancestry (which value family above all).

So perhaps mainland illuskans value power above all else (be that martial, or magic, or political) and their tethyrian mixing means they are fiercely loyal to their groups which gives rise to guild rivalries and street gangs and other group warfare (explains the guild wars in waterdeep and the gangs in luskan).

So gnarhelm being founded by stornanter refugees is mostly civilised illuskan so they have more black hair than fair. They are heavily fictionalised (so the nation keeps splitting into 3 duchies run by powerful noble families), and they are happy to farm and mine and do magic as long as it makes them powerful (in their own mind) but they don't engage in external warfare all that often, instead fighting internally for more power.
The northmen of the other islands think the people of gnarhelm are soft and weak cousins.
Gary Dallison Posted - 24 May 2019 : 21:06:46
Moving onto Gnarhelm.

I decided a while ago that the illuskans of Gnarhelm were from Stornanter.

Now Stornanter collapsed as a realm in 841 DR after Laeral disappeared. Until that time she had been largely absent, hunting those nobles that had killed Malek Aldanek (Khelben Arunsun).

The illuskans arrived in a massive fleet in 852 DR. Initial thoughts are an invasion fleet. However, the nation of Stornanter collapsed not 11 years prior. I would imagine that the collapse of nation would bring about significant upheaval and strife which would prevent the launching of an invasion fleet. Plus feudal societies tend not to have coordinated military forces (small forces being contributed by individual nobles to form a larger force), without a strong leader there is little chance of a large fleet being formed.

So an alternative is people fleeing the collapse of Stornanter. If the cities survive why would people flee?
Initial thoughts are that the nobles Laeral was hunting regrouped after her disappearance and attempted to take over Illusk and or Port Llast. The fighting caused by that could force many to leave (particularly the losers). Because i only have the names of the evil nobles (those who killed Malek) from Stornanter i'm tempted to think they attempted a takeover of Illusk and were eventually forced out and forced to flee.
That way i can use the names of some legitimate noble houses and have an explanation for why they arrived on the Moonshae Isles and why they landed in Gnarhelm (Callidyrr would have been a much better target, but if you cant go back home you have to take the easy option).
Gary Dallison Posted - 24 May 2019 : 15:07:29
Always interested. Thank you George.

I did come across that recently, decided it should probably be placed on snowdown which has almost no mention of druids to explain their absence (half their membership lost fighting the malarites) and add in a new location to snowdown (the great druids former home).

Cheers for the lookout for more moonshae stuff.
George Krashos Posted - 24 May 2019 : 14:59:24
Just remembered this:

Thought you might be interested.

-- George Krashos
Gary Dallison Posted - 21 May 2019 : 19:42:14
Reaching the leshay and Fey parts of lore now. I've decided the leshay don't have kids, they are immortal and super powerful so if they had kids that were leshay they would quickly overrun the multi verse.

So any kids they have are lesser beings, the elahdrin.

So prince araithe is not ordalfs son. The Fey misunderstood the concept of son and heir when approximating their succession to human standards (or even elves) and so described him as prince, but really he is just the next most respected leshay.

I've decided prince araithe wants to be the most respected, so he is secretly trying to hasten ordalfs demise. He also doesn't like humans. He has Fey kidnapping human children to raise them as warriors (muubsidhe meaning slave fey) to do the fighting for the leshay when they return to the material plane.

At the end of the adventure I'm planning, karador will return and these armies of muubsidhe will spread out and abduct entire villages to swell their ranks. The muubsidhe are armed with plate mail and silver or cold iron swords (to better kill kazgoroth and his twisted fey army).
Basically the humans will be caught between two alien powers that want to use them as fodder in their armies.
Gary Dallison Posted - 21 May 2019 : 11:05:16
Came to the mention of eladrin in the Moonshaes lore, still annoyed with the travesty that 4e did by altering eladrin into something else and elves into this new eladrin.

However, i've decided to mix the two together. I've come up with two branches (so far) of these humanoid fey creatures. The Selah-Drine and the Elah-Drine.

The Selah-Drine are the original, the most powerful, they are the lords of the Plane of Faeree, they are immortal and superpowerful. The LeShay belong to the Selah-Drine (so too did the beings that would become the Seldarine - hence the name similarity).

The Selah-Drine created the Elah-Drine in their own image, they are powerful and specialised in various aspects of nature (fire, ice, earth, wind, lightning, spring, summer, winter, etc). They are organised into tribes, the bralani, the ghaele, the firre, the tulani, etc.
The elves were once Elah-Drine. They escaped to Faerun and over time diminished in power as they were away from the Plane of Faeree.

So Karador will have Elahdrin but they will be of the various different groups from 2e and 3e. They look like elves (reading the 3e descriptions they say they look like elves), but they are more powerful and more fey like.

Elves are still elves, they were once eladrin many tens of thousands of years ago, but now they are just elves. The older elves are more powerful (as cormanthyr empire of elves alludes to - they can see magic, they live longer, etc) and the younger ones are more and more mixed with human blood so they are further diminished.
Gary Dallison Posted - 20 May 2019 : 08:32:47
Gradually weaving bits of the story together now. So ordalf and urphania are twins and twins is a bad omen in Fey culture.

Ordalf was the leader and urphania was loyal and supportive, or so it seemed.

Then some sylph prophesies that ordalf will die in the claws of a beast, but that beast will also die, and it will free the People of the Moonshae Isles.

Then Kazgoroth the Beast appears and ordalf figures that Kazgoroth is the Beast that will slay her, so she creates the web of moon wells to forever imprison kazgoroth in a weakened form.

Unfortunately urphania falsified the vision or exploited it. She helped kazgoroth escape in the hope he would kill ordalf.

Urphania was discovered, stripped of her leshay powers, and exiled from karador.
In her exile she began stealing the soul gems that link ordalf soul to the moon wells and so ordalf pulls karador and the leshay into the feywild.

Urphania is now subtly helping and manipulating the pieces of kazgoroth. Helping him to return and helping pollute the moon wells which further weaken ordalf and will force her to return to stop kazgoroth. When all the moon wells are corrupted ordalf is mortal and will die so she must return and imprison him once again or kill him before he kills her.

Urphania hope's kazgoroth will win. If not she will help kill kazgoroth herself to win ordalf confidence back (everyone thinks urphania is dead at the moment), then she will kill her own sister and rule the leshay
Gary Dallison Posted - 17 May 2019 : 21:11:59
Well i came across the Great Gark in 4e lore on the Dernall Forest. He is a goblin of sorts with dark fey and goblins at his disposal. So i decided to use my idea of twisted halflings (Great Gark is one of them), that made the halflings into evil, black, goblin like creatures.

These few surviving Goibhluin (sounded celtic ish) fled into the Feywild, but they are using actual goblins, that arrived from the mainland on ships, to scout and steal for them.

I also decided on making Doncastle the former abode of these halflings on Alaron, and where the Goibhluin retreated to before they fled into the Feywild. So beneath Doncastle are deep tunnels that lead to the Underdark and also have connections to the Feywild/Shadowfell.
Gary Dallison Posted - 17 May 2019 : 08:33:05
Added a page for the organisation Heralds of the High King. They are my attempt to explain how the sword of cymrych hugh came to be in the big cave just waiting for Tristan to find (the heralds left it there for him as a test of his abilities)

They are led by the ghost of high queen allisynn whose spirit is bound to the magical harp she was playing when kazgoroth shattered it and dealt her a mortal blow.

The heralds are trying to restore the high kingdom and are always looking for potential candidates and testing them.
Gary Dallison Posted - 16 May 2019 : 07:56:46
It could probably be set in star wars without much work.

Maybe I'm spoiled by G R R Martin, but its jarring when the story never has any interaction with other people outside of the main story. It's almost as though all the characters are elitist snobs and refuse to talk to guards, servants, squirrels, etc.

Worse still is this novel has about 50 pages of Tristan and lord pontswain arguing like toddlers over who would be the best king.

I cant fathom why people enjoy reading the novels myself.

Anyway back to the moonshae isles. Again found those crannogs in the myrloch. I've decided they were built around -2000 dr by the first northmen to arrive on the moonshae isles. They were essentially enslaved by the leshay and used to fight in the first war against kazgoroth (they were the cannon fodder).
After that war the few surviving northmen fled and vowed never to return (saying the islands were cursed).
George Krashos Posted - 15 May 2019 : 22:51:33
I always disliked those “could be set anywhere” novels. If they were writing a Star Wars novel, they would never have got away with that.

— George Krashos
Gary Dallison Posted - 15 May 2019 : 14:01:21
Randomly looking over Black Wizard for lore. Not a single place or person in callidyrr is named outside those used directly in events for the plot which I understand is part of d&ds focused story telling, but I hate it.

All i know from callidyrr thanks to this novel is caer callidyrr, Doncaster, oroarke, Cyndre, and the assassin. It might as well have been set on the moon

On the plus side I now know there are 31 centres in corwell, and I have a few more clans and lords to detail that kingdom.
Gary Dallison Posted - 12 May 2019 : 16:54:07
Hi Kesseril, thank you for the very kind words, the moonshae are far from finished and I mostly do this for myself but it's always nice to hear that others get some mileage from it. So if you have any questions or anything you'd like to know more about or even any ideas yourself then just say so (especially spelling or grammar mistakes as my English is terrible - like most English people).

Now onto your question. My general approach is to take canon and twist it so that it is still the same but slightly different to commonly held opinions (little point in writing everything the same as has already been written), but I also like to expand the grey areas and what is written between the lines as much as I possibly can.

So almost everything I do is based, or distantly based (for things i have expanded on and then expanded my expansions) in canon lore. I try not to create things totally new unless there is a massive gap in the lore with nothing to fill it.

So norland is pretty empty, I've been forced to add locations to make it usable. There is no mention of orcs so I haven't added and orc nation there. There are however firbolgs on the island and some frost giants so I've added in ruins from a firbolg giant empire that is alluded to in the history of the region.

In moray there are orcs but no historic mention of them so I added in a portal from the orcgates affair of the red wizards that dumped them there. The 4e lore has lycanthropes overrunning the region so I've linked moray to a place in the feywild where an ancient Grimm creature (that I made up to explain the lycanthropy in the moonshae- not wanting to use a run of the mill werewolf) that has become trapped in the feywild. Moray also has no castle but three watchtower, so I added those watchtower into every ffolk settlement and then decided why moray had no castle despite a history of repeated raids by northmen. In the end I figured the northmen burned down the castle so much they stopped repairing it, so now i have a ruined castle and a place for treasure to be lost.

In some cases I have made stuff up, like the grimmulf and the heralds of the high king, all based on what I consider good ideas from people here, and to expand blanks in the lore or explain things the lore does not.

But generally it is all based from some stray bit of lore that I have twisted to make it slightly different (I'm rather proud of making the earth mother be an enemy of the druids who think they serve her - and in the adventure I plan to do, when the druids call on the children for help, the whole humanoid population is in danger as these super powers try to eradicate all humanoid life).

I'm more than happy to talk moonshae all day if you are running a campaign and need some inspiration, or you just like talking moonshae isles. However I have departed considerably from my first version in the alternate dimensions pdf I made and now work solely on the wordpress site (which is constantly work in progress.

Thanks again for looking at it and taking the time to say hi.

Keseril Posted - 12 May 2019 : 10:34:58
Hello! First of all, Gary Dallison, you did freaking great job! Moonshae is my favorite region for now and you played a big part in this.

Want to ask you. You said that you using original story but adding something from you own. All information here about locations and other stuffs is just yours implementation of things? Or is canon?
Gary Dallison Posted - 10 May 2019 : 19:26:16
Very true about immersion. Thus far my one monster many origins model has only applied to the rarer creatures which have a low population density. It doesn't work for common creatures, which is why I left the humanoid (elf, dwarf, human etc) as they are, but the origin always begins on Toril.

I suppose goblins are crafty enough and widespread enough to make their way anywhere (like orcs). Trolls are less widespread but they do have proximity on their side with the troll mountains in the western heartlands being near where the dwarves gain entry to the moonshae underdark.

I might come up with a twisted halfling monster corrupted by kazgoroth that is one of the evil Fey creatures on the islands.

I shall have to remember to limit kne monster many origins to rare or unique creatures only, or where isolation or unique circumstances warrant it.
Demzer Posted - 10 May 2019 : 15:35:19
Originally posted by Gary Dallison

It's certainly possible for all the monsters of the moonshae to arrive via one means or another. However the feel of the moonshae is distinctly Celtic and that is all about individuality, unique monsters, special heroes, and fantastic places. Out of the box goblins and trolls is not quite so interesting as a breed of goblin or troll that is unique to the moonshae with it's own history and abilities.

Plus i use the one monster many origins model to keep things diverse.

And this is commendable but everything everywhere having it's own origin kills immersion at some point. I can understand the concept for different Prime Material Planes, differents universes and different Planes and even very very distant places. But ultimately the Moonshaes are not that isolated, their climate is not very special, the "good" demihuman races got there with ships or through the Underdark or portals and I don't see many problems with the "evil" demihuman races doing the same.

Originally posted by Gary Dallison

As for the leshay, it may be my interpretation if Fey creatures but I always think of them as a collection of individuals rather than a nation. They sometimes work together under dire circumstances but otherwise go their own mysterious way. I definitely don't think they would exterminate anything (being a bit Gandalf like for unintended consequences) and I'm not sure they have or ever had the numbers necessary to deal with goblin or troll infestations.

A single leshay (as we know it from game mechanics/canonical tales) can wipe out entire nations of goblins and trolls.
I'm not talking of going on a genocidal spree just because, I'm saying that if the pests (trolls/goblins) got out of control on their own (for example, outbreeding their surrounding) then the leshays would take a split second to annihilate any excess that was threatening the balance of the ecosystem they were living in.
The elves later would do the same, with several order of magnitudes less overpowering force but anyway probably much more than what any troll/goblin tribe could muster in the limited confines of the Moonshaes.

The orc hordes of the North and the goblinoids hordes of the south and the heartlands are much more dangerous because they live in enviroments that can sustain much much bigger populations, so when overpopulation occurs the numbers are already out of scale with respect to the "civilised nations" of man- elf- and dwarvenkind. The Moonshae cannot suffer a similar issue.

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