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Wooly Rupert Posted - 09 Jan 2019 : 16:19:25
It occurs to me that Ed has been posting Realmslore on the Twitter, and not everyone has the Twitter.

So I thought a single place where such lore could be collected would be a good thing.

Ed is a frequent poster there, adding all sorts of Stormtalons and Epic Fantasy stuff, but for the purposes of this thread, I'd like to keep it focused on his Realmslore.

(I'm also stickying this thread, to make it easier to find)

Ed Greenwood (@TheEdVerse) on Twitter

The #Realmslore hashtag on Twitter
25   L A T E S T    R E P L I E S    (Newest First)
Wooly Rupert Posted - 08 May 2020 : 21:07:04
On worshiping non-deities, and the Wall of the Faithless:

Apr 25, 2020


Quick question, is there a non-theistic religion in the Realms that doesn't automatically result in being slapped on the Wall of the Faithless?


Sure. The Cult of Entropy (popular in Chessenta).

And there's a cult of The Cosmic Balance (worshipping the concept and not a deity), too.
There's even a Cult of Ao, who believe that the gods are all posers and frauds, as Ao holds all true power.

One can also take the view that the worship of Siamorphe, in form, is "non-theistic."

Then there are beholder cults, and cults that venerate enchanted speaking swords, and...


So true worship exempts you from the Wall, even if the object of your worship isn't a deity?


That's right. It's what the entity did in life that matters (belief and intent).


Where do the souls of these mortals go upon death? They don't have a patron deity to pick them up on the Fugue Plane after all.


It differs for every soul, depending on what worship they did in life. Remember, aside from insane folk, EVERYONE in the Realms "believes in" ALL of the gods, and many worship most of them, even if it's "Dear Umberlee, please don't sink this ship I'm buying passage on."

Many gamers seem to struggle with the notion of "many gods" as opposed to everyone believing in one god. Most folk in the Realms don't have this struggle. Their souls will go to the deity they venerated most, or even get sent back (reincarnation) by a deity to fulfill some purpose, or diverted into undeath (a revenant) to take care of "unfinished-in-life" business. It's a unique journey for each soul. Best roleplayed through, if a player wants to stick with a character rather than starting a new one.


Wait, I thought Ao didn't need faithful, explicitly ignored his cultists, and that they ended up in the Wall of the Faithless.


That's right. That doesn't mean he doesn't have worshippers.

Be wary of pronouncements about the fates of souls. Where do they come from? Likely from clergy. How do THEY know? A god or god's servitor told them. Was that speaker telling truth? Or serving propaganda?


I love this q&a! I have a non-theist divination wizard who transformed himself into a lich but views gods as more of self made deal makers and I feel like he would really relate to The Cosmic Balance’s ideals.


There are even some wizards and sages who worship the Weave but NOT Mystra. (Mystra answers their prayers nonetheless. Gods who refuse veneration sooner or later fall from godhood.)

And there are liches who worship older, famous liches (as role models.)


This is perfect because although my lich studied in his first life as an elf in Neverwinter Academy he believed in magic solely as a tool. Although undead he has grounded most of his actions in trying to bring balance to the land & if he can make a council of liches.

If he doesn’t go mad by then that is.


I also remember reading that true atheists go to Asmodeus (Ahriman) to be food. So if you're worshipping a concept, like cosmic balance, and not a deity; do you count as a true atheist? Will your soul be food for Ahriman?


No, a true atheist is a non-believer (not just a non-worshipper). No divinity, no divine magic, can't and doesn't happen.

Which in the Realms would most likely be an insane person. Being as the evidence to the contrary is overwhelming and everywhere.


... what's the definition of "faith" then, given that knowledge and witnessings and clerical miracles are daily happenings in the Realms? Is that "faith" or "observation"?
Or is it just sacrifices and worship that prevents the Wall of Faithless?


Just as in our real world, many use "faith" to mean whatever they want it to.
In the Realms, it's almost never "believing without evidence" but is used in the "belief in a being" or collective religious sense.
Yes, the Wall is avoided by actively worshipping.
Wooly Rupert Posted - 08 May 2020 : 21:05:15
On worshipers of dwarven deities:

May 1, 2020


I have a question regarding non-Dwarf adopted children and the Dwarven pantheon.
I have a Tiefling who was adopted as an infant by Dwarves. In the eyes of the pantheon, particularly Berronar Truesilver, would an adopted Tiefling be welcomed as one of their own?


Yes. Gods take worship wherever they can get it.

And more than a few of them take the position of "keep your potential enemies close" (it's best to have influence over a mortal who could be trouble/disloyal, even more so if they could become an adventurer/prominent).


Great. But that does lead me to another question, what happens to the souls of non dwarves who worship the dwarven pantheon, or are adopted members of a dwarven family?
From what I understand non dwarves are forbidden to enter the dwarf afterlife, yes?


Just as in our real world, “after death” is a mystery to the living.

Priests, deities, and the servitors of deities (“angels” and the like) make various claims, and a lot of these contradict each other.

Dwarves valiant in battle often believe their souls wind up in a hall of heroes where they feast and brawl and practise until the gods have need of them to do battle, or to be “reforged” (by Moradin, at his forge) into new dwarves and sent back to live again.

Dwarf smiths and crafters believe the afterlife that awaits them is a series of spacious, wonderfully-equipped workshops where they can fulfillingly create ever-better items, knowing true satisfaction and becoming ever better at creating items that are innovative as well as ever-better-made.

Dwarf clerics believe they are the “true servants” of the (dwarven) gods, and will be first to be chosen to serve anew, as a new dwarf living a new life.

Many mortals, of various races, have sages and learned priests who hold that the souls of the dead gravitate to the plane that is the home of the deity the living mortal most worshipped or best served in life, and there they dwell with their ‘chosen’ deity as petitioners, until they merge with the plane (their sentience dissolving), ascend to a planar form (an “angel” or some other sort of creature native to their god’s plane), or are reborn on the Prime Material Plane at the behest of their deity, either as themselves to fulfill some unfinished mission, or to live a new life.

All prohibitions and other details (such as “non-dwarves are forbidden to enter the dwarf afterlife”) are pronouncements made by mortal clergy. They may be right, or wrong, mistaken or out-of-date, or there may be exceptions to what the clergy believe is an inflexible rule. Gods often do and say things that perplex mortals; that’s why “just plain folk” tolerate the existence of clergy, as experts who intercede and interpret.

So here’s the thing: according to Realmslore (tavern tales, legends, various books and other records) many adopted dwarves (i.e. non-dwarves) have seen the dwarf afterlife. Which would mean: non-dwarves are NOT forbidden to enter the dwarf afterlife.
Wooly Rupert Posted - 08 May 2020 : 21:04:23
On words for whip or lash:


Hi Ed, having a play for Eric. As usual. What would be the elven word for whip/lash (noun), please? What about for the drow? If you are feeling generous, the Alzhedo (Calishite) term would be nice too. You know, slavers and all that...


Whip or lash (the item): elven: nyrhlas; drow: neirt; Alzhedo: dazar
Whipping or lashing (the deed): elven: nyrtlassa; drow: neirtarr; Alzhedo: tuldazrim
Wooly Rupert Posted - 08 May 2020 : 21:01:01
On why Mystryl didn't prevent Karsus from casting that spell:


Why didn't Mystryl prevent Karsus's Folly? Did she not see it coming, or would it have been against her own doctrine to stop magical advancement, even when it affected her directly?


Mystryl did not foresee all the details of the consequences, but she did watch Karsus working and striving, and did nothing to stop him because, yes, to do so would have been to act against her very nature and purpose, the primary aim she was dedicated to, and because part of that mortal striving to master arcane magic was the “lesson to all” of the follies and pitfalls of overreaching.
Wooly Rupert Posted - 08 May 2020 : 21:00:10
On Waterdhavian taxes:

Apr 29, 2020


Hi there! So I am slowly coming to grips with how taxes and fees work in Waterdeep. However, my question is: What services are provided in return? Obviously roads and the Watch, but what about schools, free medical help, homeless shelters, men's/women's refuges, children's dentists, free legal aid, etc. Are any of these or similar things provided by the state?


Matters have varied over time in Waterdeep, but in general: temples provide medical aid (including dentistry), food and shelter for the homeless, and refuges from domestic violence. The city provides a subsidy in the form of a per-head daily “credit” against temple taxes (temples are buildings, and attract a realty tax like all other city properties) that in almost all cases wipes out annual taxes and leaves most temples in the black (yes, in such situations they do receive coins or more often trade-bars from the Palace coffers). In times of trouble (war, widespread sickness, fierce winter weather) the city throws open its buildings to bolster shelter space.

Yes to roads and the Watch, but the city also pays the relevant guilds to keep sewers, water systems (pumps and rooftop cisterns, and all, even if privately owned), and the docks maintained, and to make sure regular nightsoil wagon service (garbage pickup, very much including human waste; BTW, the wagonloads are inspected at the Rat Hills, looking for human bodies and body parts and valuables, and wouldn’t you love to have THAT job) is provided, at levels necessary to keep up with the disposal problem.

The city also licenses (approves of) construction work, wines and other consumables, and the operating fitnesses of coaches, wagons, and carriages (not handcarts) to maintain public safety. It also steps in to pay for emergency repairs when roof deterioration or some other cause threatens to result in the collapse of a private building (seizing the property if the owner won’t pay or can’t be found, and working out a slow-repayment-over-time deal, otherwise).

And of course the Lords provide not just arcane magic protection and discipline (the Blackstaff, hiring of the Watchful Order) but justice; not just courts and trials, but a Palace-hosted tribunal system for working out civil disputes between private citizens, guilds, visitors, and so on. The city provides legal aid (practical, not coin) in such matters.


Is there a sword tax when passing through the gates, or did I imagine that?


There's a gate-passage tax for all wagons, and there are special taxes on the bulk shipping of bladed weapons, helms, and breastplates (to keep track of who's amassing armaments), but not a tax on the arms and armor worn, carried, or in the personal baggage of persons passing through a city gate.
Wooly Rupert Posted - 08 May 2020 : 20:59:36
On Waterdavian tavern income:


ballpark average, late 1300 DR - how much could a moderate successful Inn & Tavern in Trades Ward Waterdeep make net per month if it takes good care of its staff and serves higher end food and drink, in your opinion?


So many variables would affect takings, but the 1330s DR are boom times, both before and after the Spellplague hits (in the wake of its initial chaos, inns/taverns became refuges for many, who craved good food, good company, and chances of casual employment), so the amount made depends largely on the size of the place (how many drinkers and diners it can seat, how many beds it can hire out for the night). If it can cram, say, 60 folk into its taproom, with 40 having table space to dine, and rent out 24 beds a night, and serves good food and pays its staff well, the net per month should be in the vicinity of 180 gp (60 gp/night). A typical inn and tavern, that waters its ale and serves a lot of small beer, and pays its staff more poorly in return for giving them room and board, would likely net 240 gp/month or so. (Grosses would be more than double those figures, but running expenses are always high.)
Wooly Rupert Posted - 08 May 2020 : 20:59:09
On Waterdhavian noble families:


Hello! Sorry if this has been answered somewhere already but a player asked during a session once and I couldn't find an exact number on the # of Waterdeep noble families?

Here's what I found; I'm assuming the 78 is correct since it lines up closer to SCAG too, but:
Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide p.55: More than 75 noble families
Waterdeep Dragon Heist p 13: Well over a hundred noble families
Waterdeep Dragon Heist p. 172: 78 noble families


Sure, happy to help. Throughout most of the 1300s, there were 78 recognized noble families in Waterdeep. (Some additional houses had been previously been exiled and stripped of their nobility, and some had gone extinct.)

Then, as we saw in CITY OF THE DEAD, a great Realms novel by Rosemary Jones, there came a time wherein hard-up noble families sold their titles, there were assassinations and some noble families fled Waterdeep, only to return (or in some cases, ‘pretenders’ CLAIMING to be missing noble families popped up in the city), various commoners claimed ‘extinct’ noble titles they may or may not have been entitled to, and the Masked Lords made some rulings about individuals that boiled down to this: Joe Blow here gave us a lot of money, so we’re going to let him call himself a noble Lord of Waterdeep for the rest of his life, but that’s a life title; it DOESN’T extend to his family or not-yet-born descendants. Except, human nature being what is, in the chaos following the Spellplague but before the Second Sundering, the families of said Joe Blows DID use and claim noble titles, and a few of them got away with it. (There are also nobles descended from someone who sold their title, who claim to be Lord and Lady Assumbar—and who reside in their ancestral mansion, only a few streets away from the Lord and Lady Assumbar who are descended from the buyer of the Assumbar title. In this particular case, this mess is complicated by the existence of a longtime Waterdeep-resident commoner family of shopkeepers who claims to be the “REAL House Assumbrar” [note the difference in spelling] and have an ancient document to prove it that may just be an early 1300s DR forgery. And similar difficulties abound.)

Which all boils down to this, as of 1492 DR (the time of Waterdeep: Dragon Heist): there are officially 78 noble families recognized as rightful nobility in Waterdeep. AND at the same time, there are upwards of 130 families living in Waterdeep who claim to be noble, and are treated as such by all commoners in the city (because if you want to do business with someone, and not earn their enmity, it’s safest to politely treat them as what they claim to be).

Happy social adventuring!
Wooly Rupert Posted - 08 May 2020 : 20:58:26
On spellscared after the Sundering:

Apr 17, 2020


@TheEdVerse, O sagacious one, apologies in advance if this has been answered elsewhere but I wanted to inquire about the Spellplague. What happened to those affected by it, such as the Spellscarred, after the Second Sundering? Thanks!


It varies. In a few individuals, the changes wrought in them by the Spellplague faded in intensity after the Second Sundering was over; in a VERY few cases, they faded away altogether. Most people were permanently plaguechanged; whatever the Spellplague did to them continued to hold sway for the rest of their lives, so if they acquired spellscars, they were spellscarred lifelong. In a few, these changes progressed over time, so they gained more magical powers (and/or disfigurements). Quite a few people had their lifespans extended by a decade or two over their bloodline norms (that is, if their parents and grandparents died in the sixth decades of natural causes, not accidents or violence, they lasted into their seventh or eight decade). And early evidence seems to indicate that in some—not all—cases, this longevity has been inherited by offspring born after the Second Sundering (i.e. their children are also living a decade longer if not killed prematurely). Why? No one knows, though sages and clergy have advanced many claims or theories.
Wooly Rupert Posted - 08 May 2020 : 20:57:50
On the Netherese ruling class:


Do the Netherese (looking more at the modern folk, not the ancient ones of Karsus' day) have a concept of noble bloodlines and houses? I'm curious what their internal hierarchy looks like.


Oh, yes, though in the case of some Netherese cities they may dismiss the concept of nobility (inherited rank) in favour of a meritocracy (we’re on top because we’re mighty in magic and/or psionics and/or achievements), though this is horse-dung, because all surviving Netherese cities are ruled by those who INHERITED their position. In the case of Thultanthar (“Shade”), the ruling family styled themselves “Princes” of their city.

Everyone dwelling in a flying city is of High Netheril; the cities were supplied by folk of Low Netheril (who in some cases were literally enslaved by the High Netherese, and whose descendants survive today in peoples of Faerûn who don’t identify themselves as being descended from Netheril, usually because their ancestors long ago forgot their origins). So the concept of a ruling class (nobility) is baked into Netheril.
Wooly Rupert Posted - 08 May 2020 : 20:56:59
On the Haunted Halls of Eveningstar:

Apr 22, 2020


Questions about the Haunted Halls of Eveningstar for @TheEdVerse referring to the key from FRQ1 and some other sources):

1) There's a lot of empty rooms on the map. While empty rooms are important for dungeon design, it feels like there's too many. Would/did/do you have more rooms with notable content beyond what's in the final key? Are DMs meant to add their own to flesh it out?

2) I can place most of the action from Swords of Eveningstar on the FRQ map, but I'm not sure where the hidden portal to Arabel is. Do you have any direct notes as to where it is on this map?

3) My players attempted to overload the infamous bronze statues by putting spare metal weapons between the pair so they'd conduct. The text for Room 8 mentions they can't be shattered or moved, so I ruled they exploded, then reformed. (This lead to lots of groaning.)

Are the statues supposed to be beatable or are they ancient magics/similarily invulnerable guardians (at least to novice adventurers) and in play need to be worked around, not overcome?

4) Finally, the obligatory question about the lower levels and what lurks therein. Past comments you've made suggest that's Whisper's Crypt, but wasn't that placed elsewhere, up towards the Stonelands? There's also extraplanar/planetary dwarf portals down there, (from the notes on Candlekeep about the Haunted Halls hinting at the Spellplague, the black star, Mellomir, etc); the 3e FRCS suggests it's a group named the Mages Regal. George Krashos suggests on Candlekeep the Mages Regal were new for the 3e FRCS, and likely should be the Sword Heralds. What exactly is going on down there, and what can you share?

5) An OWLBEAR? As the first fight to the death or flee for brand new players? You are one sly, mean DM Ed.


Hoo boy. Elsewhere and elsewhen I’ve told the tale of The Haunted Halls of Eveningstar, and how it was cut down from the campaign-setting 96-page product I’d told TSR it was suitable for (with the entire village of Eveningstar and the temple all detailed, and a STARTER side adventure in a cliff-face crevice, The Caverns of the Claws (lair of three trolls) that PCs were supposed to reach before they got to the entrance to the Halls, and so get blooded/warmed up with something more manageable than an owlbear. (The Gorge also had several no-monsters-at-all exploratory ‘find old treasure, or is it junk?’ adventures, that also hit the cutting room floor.) I was trying to hand DMs a starter CAMPAIGN. The same wordcount problems (compounded by a new format rule that new monsters had to have a full page each) led to three levels of the dungeon being cut, and a LOT of room descriptions; that’s why so many rooms are empty (the same thing happened when Undermountain got published). Yes, DMs are meant to have five or six empty rooms to flesh out their own “hook to take a campign in this direction” additions, to cater to the character class mix of the PCs, for one thing…but not DOZENS of empty rooms. All of that hit the cutting room floor.

The hidden portal isn’t on the published version of the Haunted Halls map. See the natural rock rift that has “26” in/above it? It’s supposed to have areas that soar up above the main dungeon level, up to the (map missing) upper citadel (now used by the kobolds as a lair). The kobolds defecate down this rift, using it as a gigantic latrine. Down in its bottom were originally not just piles of reeking kobold dung (and an otyugh, of course), but eerie glows that respond to spells cast down at them. One of them actually outlines an invisible “standing in midair” door…a dead giveaway that there’s a gate/portal there. (I’m not saying where it leads to; I put several gates in the module, so players could take their characters to adventure in farflung locations all over the Realms…and of COURSE they all got taken out, because TSR wanted to publish a module, not a linked series of rising-in-character-level “sandboxes.”)

Yes, the zapping statues need to be circumvented, not destroyed or ‘beaten,’ but the way around them got edited out of the published module, too.

You’re right, Whisper’s Crypt was far off the map to the north, along a long, long straight corridor. Reached from the (edited out of the module) lower level that had a few rooms with formidable monsters (PCs were supposed to level up dealing with things on “the ground floor” AND the kobolds, ere they dared to go down), one of them with a simple but nasty trap: huge (as in, 40 feet tall), impressive bronze double doors that weren’t attached to anything, so trying to pull one open would bring it crashing down to crush anyone within 40 feet of it. So, yes, mean DM, as labelled.

Though there was ample room to just stand to one side and avoid the doors, and a floor design intended to tell the DM where PCs were standing without alerting the players to the fact that where their characters was standing was important.

And George is right: it was the Sword Heralds. All of the edited-out stuff, including what’s going on down there, was duly delivered to TSR in my turnover, and I was paid for it at the time, so it’s NDA and TSR (now WotC) owns it, so unless they release me from the NDA, I can’t share, beyond brief casual summaries. The Mages Regal WERE a thing, ALSO NDA, but not in the Haunted Halls. They represent yet another loose end that never got followed up on. Building in new loose ends was a design principle of the Realms, but when TSR did it in-house, they had a distressing tendency to change direction and leave their shiny new loose ends hanging. Forever.


Thanks Ed! That’s plenty to go with - but I think you have your portals mixed up! I meant the one at the end of Chapter 17 of Knights of Eveningstar- which I can now place at room 12, looking at it! But I’ll take another for plenty of fun. And I am going to do the Halls justice


Heh. I'm not saying where any of the portals edited out of the module led to. ;}
Wooly Rupert Posted - 08 May 2020 : 20:56:23
On the Fellowship of the Purple Staff and their hamlets:

Apr 15, 2020


Hello Ed, I have a question about The Fellowship of the Purple Staff. An organization founded by a few clergymen of Chauntea, Helm and Selûne in 1368 DR & bolstered by faithful of Lathander and Sune.What has happening with them since 1372, what are their hamlets?


The Fellowship was almost wiped out fighting beasts, brigands, and followers of Malar in the chaos following the Spellplague. Although it rebounded in the 1450s DR, today the Fellowship consists of over sixty adventuring members (and their families) who dwell in a handful of subsistence hamlets in an E-W line deep in the northern Gulthmere Forest, having lost all reach into more southerly stretches of forest (near the Orsraun Mountains).

The Fellowship now include Mielikki, Silvanus, and Corellon in their worship, and try to live in harmony with sylvan creatures and the life-cycles of the forest, using trails rather than clearing wagon-roads, and establishing ‘forest farms’ of vines and tree-clinging plants rather than clearing fields. They trade with Cedarsproke and Gurnth, but don’t live there, and those settlements aren’t Fellowship-run.

Important Fellowship members include the warband leaders Klarenna Arthtree (CG hf P14, Moonsash-Preceptress of Selûne), Raelmren Harthtanvil (NG hm P8, Prelate of Lathander), and Waeldren Stauntor (LN hm P9, Vigilant Shield of Lathander). The warbands are traveling fighting forces that rush to deal with threats to any Fellowship hamlet or members (and ar summoned by messenger or distinctive lown-note warhorns carried by Fellowship members); they’re similar to many woodland-dwelling adventuring bands, and tend to be about eight stalwarts strong, with at least five being veterans.

Senior clergy of all faiths in the Fellowship vote on major policy decisions, with the warband leaders and the aged Havaunth Taervorren (LN hm P17, Patriarch of Helm), making daily operating decisions.

The Fellowship hamlets, west to east, are Corolanth, Baelen, Favvaranth, Ellord, Qrael’s Ford, Grammath, and Haelmorr.


Thanks so much, are there any write-ups any where on the Hamlets that you have mentioned aka Forgotten Realms Wiki and maybe maps?


I’m afraid not. And if you’re looking for maps, you’re thinking of these hamlets in the wrong way: these are NOT settlements with cleared fields, roads, and so on. They have some clearings, wandering trails overhung by the forest canopy instead of roads (no wagons, just barrows and mule-drag carts), and they have homes that are part caves, part artificial caves (build up a hill of loam and tree stumps, roof it with stones and growing plants so roots will anchor it all), part tree-houses (think untidy childrens’ tree forts, reached by rope-ladders and climb-tree ladders, and joined by rope-and-board catwalks), and part tents, with outhouses that get moved when their dungpiles are rich and rotted-down enough to serve as gardens for edible forest plants, and so on. In other words, very little that would show up on a map beyond a general location for the hamlet.

BTW, a mule-drag cart is a narrow wheelbarrow with long projecting handles, turned backwards and with a mule harnessed between those handles, so the whole thing slopes down to a single wheel at the back.

(If the wheel breaks, the mule “drags” the thing like a travois, hence the name ‘mule-drag’).
Wooly Rupert Posted - 08 May 2020 : 20:55:41
On sign languages:


Aside from drow sign language, are there any sign languages that are commonly known across many regions of Faerun?


Yes. As per official D&D, illusionists share a silent sign language, as do thieves. Alignment tongues include a few gestures.

The Harpers also have ‘silent signs,’ as do the Zhentarim. And the Red Wizards. And the Lords Alliance. And quite a few cabals and guilds.


Wait——alignment tongues? I thought they are from the "basic" D&D rules and not included in the Realms, which is a AD&D setting?


The Realms predates D&D, but yes, became an AD&D setting.

AD&D Players Handbook p.34: "In addition to the common tongue, all intelligent creatures able to converse in speech use special languages particular to their alignment. These alignment languages are..." etc.
Wooly Rupert Posted - 08 May 2020 : 20:55:14
On Shaundakul before and after the Spellplague:


I've been unable to dig up any information on where Shaundakul scampered off to after his disappearance in 1385, during the Spellplague. Is there any canon lore concerning this? If not, could you tell me if his clerics are still receiving their powers from him? :)


Just checking in again. A little bump to see if this gets noticed :)


Sorry, I've been busy recently ferrying my wife back from hospital, and similar real-world health fusses.

I answered this very query here on Twitter a month back:
Shaundakul stepped through a portal and went worldwalking during the onset of the Spellplague, to avoid the worst of its ravages, and to find and gather scattered sentients of Toril and lead them back to the world as the spell-chaos subsided.

Thereafter, Shaundakul appeared frequently, all over Faerûn, in various mortal guises, to guide lost travelers to safety, revealing his true nature only to his clergy and the most devoted of his lay worshippers.

He is answering the prayers of the faithful, granting spells to clergy, and in fact did so with far shorter an interruption during the Spellplague than most other deities. He's very attentive to his clergy.
Wooly Rupert Posted - 08 May 2020 : 20:52:55
On sea elf burials:


My player's cleric committed the ultimate sin of having a living family member. Now that I've fixed that, she wants to know: How would sea elves/ followers of Deep Sashelas bury or honor their dead? We are currently in Waterdeep.


A sea elf would dedicate beloved dead (kin, partner, lover, battle-companion, close friend) to Deep Sashelas with a specific ‘calling’ prayer that when performed underwater, in the presence of the corpse and including the shedding of a drop of the praying sea elf’s blood, shed into the water, attract the attention of Deep Sashelas, who would manifest in a twinkle of light in the water that becomes a rift issuing bubbles of air.

The praying elf gives the body to the rift, which sucks it in and closes, disappearing and taking the body with it.
sleyvas Posted - 08 May 2020 : 20:52:54
Originally posted by Wooly Rupert

On rubber duckies:

Apr 25, 2020


My DM does not believe that rubber ducks exist in Faerun. Is he wrong, or is he very wrong?


He's very wrong. Mirt and Elminster both betimes share soaking tubs with floating rubber toys, some of them duck-shaped. Elminster's sometimes floats his pipe. I shall draw the veil of decency over how Storm and The Simbul treat those duckies, when they're bathing.

Lol... he did say d..U..cks, right? Do I want to know about Storm and the Simbul?
Wooly Rupert Posted - 08 May 2020 : 20:52:26
On Rucien-Xan:


Oh wise sage, what is known of the elven realm of rucien-xan?


Rucien-Xan is a hidden elven city-state that, according to tavern tales, has never been found by anyone searching for it, though it supposedly lies in the depths of the Chondalwood, and long ago ruled the nearby elven realm of Nikerymath, ere the elves of that kingdom destroyed Jhaamdath.

Rucien-Xan is said to still exist today, though few elves still dwell in its “magnificent halls” (of smooth tunnels, rooms, sculptures, and elaborate pierced screens all fashioned of the same magically-fused white stone, that hosts growing mosses that form carpets and the cushioning of built-in couches, seats, and beds).

This is all true, though “Rucien-Xan” and even “Nikerymath” are human versions of nicknames, not the full and proper elven names of the city and the realm, respectively.

The reason Rucien-Xan (more properly, “Ruucienandrar-founded-by-Arlxandnaea”) has never been found is that it exists on its own demiplane (precise whereabouts cosmologically unknown to Elminster), with only the gates (portals) to enter and depart it being found in the Chondalwood: high in the air just above the growing boughs of massive trees (so to enter, you climb the tree, and walk out on a huge limb guarded by an elf sentinel to pass through an invisible ‘door in the air’ above the limb, employing the right password—and into a challenge issued by several waiting guards in the city). So if the lone sentinel withdraws, there’s literally no sign of the
city, on the Prime Material Plane (the elves deliberately cast “driftspells” in the Chondalwood that moderate and redistribute moisture and control local temperature for optimum tree-leaf growth, so detect magic spells will find magic everywhere, and not spotlight invisible portals as beacons).


So what's the relationship between Rucien-Xan and Iryandrar, since they're both in/adjacent to the Chondalwood?


Pretty much non-existent. The xenophobic gold elves of Iryandrar largely want nothing to do with the wider world; the elves of Rucien-Xan want nothing to do with THEM (they see the Iryandrans as "arrogant half-wits").


Interesting! Thanks for the reply! So does that mean that the elves of Rucien-Xan aren't xenophobic the way the Iyryandrar elves are? Or only that there's enough of a difference of culture/temprament between the two that they don't get along with each other OR the outside world?


The Rucien elves aren't xenophobic; they're not interested in being wiped out. Having seen humans reshape Faerûn (a LOT of deforestation, and what they see as the "failure" of Myth Drannor) they try to attract as little human attention (to their city) as possible.


So that begs the question of course: who or what was/is Arlxandnaea?


Arlxandnaea was a female elf adventurer (a sorceress) who explored several planes of existence and mastered quite a bit of planar magic. She founded the city just as a hidden-refuge home for herself (and cache for her stuff), but it grew into a haven for her friends and extended family (she took several male partners, down her long, long years). When she finally died, they ‘gave her to the trees’ (buried her under the entwined roots of several forest giants in the Chondalwood). Her birth and death fates? Lost in the mists of time, but LONG ago.
Wooly Rupert Posted - 08 May 2020 : 20:43:35
On rubber duckies:

Apr 25, 2020


My DM does not believe that rubber ducks exist in Faerun. Is he wrong, or is he very wrong?


He's very wrong. Mirt and Elminster both betimes share soaking tubs with floating rubber toys, some of them duck-shaped. Elminster's sometimes floats his pipe. I shall draw the veil of decency over how Storm and The Simbul treat those duckies, when they're bathing.
Wooly Rupert Posted - 08 May 2020 : 20:42:33
On magical roads:


Now would be a good time to ask, any roads that are fantastical in nature? e.g. a road made of multiple Wall of Force spells or living vines that are horse length thick?


There’s the Moonbridge, that spans the River Rauvin to join Northbank Silverymoon and Southbank Silverymoon, and there are several other elven extra-dimensional “moon magic” roads that appear wholly in the Prime Material Plane only under moonlit conditions, scattered across Faerûn. Many Wall of Force roads have been used for castle drawbridges (i.e. short, straight spans).


Question(s) then: How much moonlight (do clouds block these bridges from forming)? Or are these bridges dependent upon the phases of the moon?


It varies by the bridge (or rather, the precise enchantments used to create it). Very few are subject to lunar phases, but some will ‘melt away’ or not form at all in overcast or other no-moonlight conditions.

Most, however, absorb moonlight (like a real-world solar battery taking in sunlight) to empower their continued existence, so they still exist when there’s no moonlight. Most of this latter sort give off a moonlight glow when they’re solid.
Wooly Rupert Posted - 08 May 2020 : 20:42:11
On roads:


What are major roads in the Realms made of? I'm thinking of the Trade Way specifically, but it is just one of the major highways. Cobblestone?


As it happens, I answered a very similar query two weeks back. Here you go:

Some major roads in places like Waterdeep are wider than 50 feet; the idea being that you can easily turn a large wagon drawn by three pairs of oxen yoked in harness one in front of the other. (See real-world American brewery wagons, back in horse-drawn days.)

Dotted-line-on-maps roads/wagon trails have at least 30 feet of ‘crown’ (traveled area), with a grassy verge of about another three or more feet per side before pitching down into grass-lined drainage ditches, on either side. The idea here being that wagons can easily pass each other without danger of wheels catching, or projecting-to-the-side loads snagging on each other. So, 30-foot minimum, except when cutting through rock (mountain passes/prime ambush areas!), and wherever the road comes out onto exposed bedrock, the cleared area widens into a layby/stopping area/turning area.


Follow up question: In town (in Amphail) would the Long Road be dirt, cobblestones, or Roman road?

In Amphail, it would be a combination of crushed-rock gravel, crushed-old-pottery-roof-tiles gravel, and flagstones. (So, yes, Roman roads. ;} ) Dirt is to be avoided, as it turns into mud and potholes too readily.

For this mud-and-potholes reason (which in turn causes subsidences and eventually building collapses), cities that have sewers/gutters/catchbasins and other ‘guided drainage’ will have a layer of cobblestones over top of the gravel. Cobblestones are heavy and expensive, so will be used elsewhere only if necessary.

(Cities have residents who can be taxed annually, or by special levies, to pay for paving work.)

Swampy areas tend to have ‘log roads’ (VERY bumpy), with gravel and dirt laid over them and relaid every spring (winter frost and frost heave logs up, and the rest of the time they slowly sink into the swamp, so many such roads are several log-layers deep), or more often if need be.
Wooly Rupert Posted - 08 May 2020 : 20:41:44
On Lord Bron of Iriaebor:


...Now onto my question, with all the research that I have done in Iriaebor I realized that in every source that Lord Bron is mentioned that we do not get a description on how he looks like. So, how do Lord Bron look like?

Thanks in advance!


Lord Bron is a human of mixed heritage, but has Calishite blood in his past, and so has dusky brown skin, dark brown eyes, and light brown hair that’s going grizzled gray. He customarily goes clean-shaven, except for “daggerboard” sideburns, and keeps his hair helmet-cropped (what in a real-world modern female is sometimes called a “pixie cut”).

He’s of burly build, stands a shade under six feet tall and is a shade less than two feet across at the shoulders (so, “heroic-looking” build), has rugged, weatherbeaten, “leathery” skin that makes him look to be in his fifth decade, has a hook nose that got broken long ago and healed “twisted to his left, in the middle,” and is a soft-spoken, firm man of few words, who usually dresses in leather armor with a metal back-and-breast and bracers (reputed—correctly—to be magical; they have at least the protections of a brooch of shielding, and likely more). Lord Bron has an air of authority that has nothing of bluster or arrogance in it, but a calm confidence; he can effortlessly dominate a room, without uttering a sound or doing anything dramatic.
Wooly Rupert Posted - 08 May 2020 : 20:41:04
On Hawkhill and the Baron's Blades:

May 4, 2020


Hi, I've been looking for information about Hawkhill and the Baron's Blades band stationed there. Do the barony and band persist into the post-Second Sundering era? And who were the band's members? (I've only found out about Lashantar from her Thaldigar's Tower sheet)


Hawkhill is a remote barony in the northernmost foothills at the northeastern end of the Cloud Peaks that form the northern border of Amn. It consists mainly of dirt lanes and sheep farms: rolling pastures fenced with gathered-together boulders-and-rubble fieldstone walls.

The Baron of Hawkhill, a retired adventurer (a blustering, monocle-sporting, moustachioed fighter who discovered his Gift late in life, and is now dabbling in the Art, though he’s but a novice wizard; a widower, he dwells in a small keep, and has a tall, muscular paladin of a daughter) hired an adventuring band to be his personal bodyguard and enforcers: the dozen-strong Baron’s Blades.

These are 2e D&D characters I used in playtests for TSR from 1993 to 1997 (and in many GenCon charity events and other convention Realmsplay sessions, down the years), and consist of:

Bralagar CN hm P7 of Tempus
Lashantar CG hf P7 of Tymora
Tashram CG hm P7 of Tymora
Elthreene CG hf W8
Maskar CG hm W8
Zhond NG hm W4
Brella Ilfrost NG hf F8
Chandlara Flamestar CG hf F9
Thorm Dunsheld NG hm F9
Delthrar Dawnstorm NG hm R9
Ildrem Thaln CN hm T9
Symbril Cragar CN hf T10

(For more recent adopters of D&D, a “Rogue” was once a “Thief” and that’s what the Ts are.)

And they (and the Baron, his daughter, and all the folk of his keep) survived the Spellplague and the Sundering, and are still alive today, thanks to a Phezult's Sleep of Ages trap accidentally triggered by the Blades ("treasure" they brought back to the keep).


Actually, is this placement right? Dragon 268's The New Adventures of Volo article puts Hawkhill in the foothills of the Troll Mountains, further to the east, which seems easier to reconcile with the consistent description of the barony being in "northeasternmost Amn"


Hawkhill is indeed in the foothills of the Troll Mountains, but if you're Amnian, there's no such thing: the Troll Mountains don't exist, it's all "the Cloud Peaks." And being as the Baron is very much of Amn...
Wooly Rupert Posted - 08 May 2020 : 20:40:35
On firearms:

Apr 13, 2020


What were your thoughts on rumors on guns being added into the norm of Forgotten realms novels? I like the medieval flavor and dependence of magic.

When I play as a DM I just tweak the lore to make sure gunpowder is harder to maintain hehe


I wrote a Firearms article, and a sequel, for Dragon magazine back in the day to nudge the idea of guns in the Realms into the “very impractical” category (as an editorial assignment, as they were already in the game; a wizard …of Greyhawk had a ‘boom wand’ in the Gary Gygax/Jim Ward/Rob Kuntz play sessions, way back when). Gunpowder doesn’t work in the Realms (doesn’t explosively ignite, so can’t propel bullets). Instead, the Realms has something called “smoke powder” (which many gamers over the years have confused with sorts of gunpowder called “smokeless powder” or “smokepowder”). This was an idea borrowed, with Roger’s permission, from Roger Zelazny: in his Chronicles of Amber, gunpowder doesn’t work in Amber. Instead, what in the shadow known as Earth is known as jewelers’ rouge can be used in firearms. And yes, it is hard to obtain, making any firearm a “rare and preciously firing” weapon. ALL firearms in the Realms are single-shots, not automatic or semi-automatic. And every time they’re fired, there’s a chance the weapon will explode, endangering the being firing it more than any target. This keeps the focus on magic and medieval-flavour weapons.

Not that any of this is a new notion in fantasy. H. Beam Piper’s classic LORD KALVAN OF OTHERWHEN focuses on a gunpowder theocracy on an alternate-timeline Earth, and what happens when a modern-times Pennsylvania state trooper who knows how to make gunpowder winds up in that ‘otherwhen.’
Wooly Rupert Posted - 08 May 2020 : 20:40:11
On Cult of the Dragon failures, Ebondeath, and Strongor Bonebag:


We know that the potion that the Cult uses to make dracoliches sometimes results in true death for the dragon... Can you tell us about any times the Cult tried to make a dracolich and things went awry in some other fashion?


Heh. The Cult of course tries to keep all such mishaps deep secrets, but bards, minstrels, and even some local gossips can tell you about several times such potions caused a dragon to abruptly start to grow (with accompanying terrible raging hunger, and devouring “hunts” to assuage that necessary intake), many times wyrms just went mad, and more than a few times the potions augmented the power (area of effect, duration, and/or damage done) of the imbibing dragon’s magic, or even twisted the effects of those spells, permanently. And then there are the dragons who exploded messily, the dragons that no longer need to sleep at all, but are restless and VERY awake all the time, and the dragon that was plunged hopelessly in lust with the Cultist who proffered the potion. And Elminster strongly suspects that are far more colourful tales to be heard, too, if you’re not careful…


On a related note can you tell us a little about Ebondeath and Strongor Bonebag?


Chardansearavitriol or “Ebondeath” was a male black dragon who ruled a demesne from his lair in Uthtower. He became a dracolich in 922 DR under the urging of, and with the magical assistance of, Cult of the Dragon member, and priest of Myrkul, Strongor Bonebag. Ebondeath agreed to seek lichdom because he was elderly and keenly felt the aches and lessened strength of his aging.

The Cult built the Mausoleum of Ebondeath at Uthtower, and came there to worship him (becoming known as “the Ebondeath Sect”). It was led by Strongor until he was murdered in 969 DR by a younger, ambitious rival Cult member, who hoped not just to eliminate him, but capture his soul and sentience in the weapon that slew him, a specially-enchanted obsidian-bladed dagger. It’s not known if the ritual succeeded in doing so; Strongor’s murderer (whose name Elminster knows not) disappeared—and may himself have perished thanks to magical traps prepared by Strongor.

Ebondeath’s dracolich form disintegrated into dust in 1202 DR, when caught in the gaze of the Eye of Myrkul, but his spirit still clung to this dust, and the Cult continued to worship him, in increasing numbers (inspired by the persistence of the spectral Ebondeath beyond the destruction of his dracolich skeleton).

When Myrkul was destroyed in 1358 DR, a “great howling wind of darkness” swept into the Mausoleum, and scoured it bare—and the ghostly Ebondeath was seen no more. The Ebondeath Sect faded away, though Harper spies have heard Cultists fearfully telling each other that they’ve “heard the rage-filled whispers of Ebondeath in the night,” hissing into their ears that “they betrayed and abandoned” Chardansearavitriol. So something of the bodiless dracolich survives yet.

Elminster, Azuth, and certain senior Cult of the Dragon members all deem a handful of such dracoliches, whose bodies have decayed, “demidracoliches.” The Cult reveres them, the Wearers of Purple inner circle hunt them in hopes of gaining some hold over them and making use of their powers, and Elminster wants to study them.
Wooly Rupert Posted - 08 May 2020 : 20:39:23
On Cormyrean court attire:

Apr 16, 2020


@TheEdVerse if you might indulge my perverse sociological fascination:

As I’m sure you’re familiar, in our own world that at times one’s station might provide rights/privileges to actually wear certain clothes, adornments, colours … even to this day one of high enough rank within British nobility get those special robes and tiaras during a coronation.

Does any such thing exist within the context of Cormyrian high society circa grey boxes? Anything the friends (or lovers) of a high born attending, say, a palace function along with her

It’s scandalous for them to carry/wear if she brought them along as +1s? Would they be seated among the nobs with her, or would she be seated in lower tiers with them … generally in my own addled way, a cliffsnotes version of Emily Post’s Suzailean works?

On the subject … I don’t suppose anything extant, novel or game product, actually amounts to an basically an Emily Post, or Ms Manners of the Realms? I mean I know Volo, but a master of etiquette, one could argue, he is not.

Thank You
Keep well & safe.


Published Realmslore touches on this a time or three in CORMYR: A NOVEL and ELMINSTER’S DAUGHTER and the Sage of Shadowdale trilogy, Volo’s Cormyr, and in my long-running series of web columns (wherein we saw glimpses of the private lives of Azoun and Filfaeril, as setups for the topic of each column). You can also glean a fair bit of Cormyrean social mores and etiquette while reading the superb Brimstone Angels novels By Erin M. Evans.

However, there’s no comprehensive published ‘Cormyrean Court Etiquette’ guide.
But here’s the short version pertaining to the in-game situation you describe: except at coronations, royal funerals, investitures (giving courtiers, nobles, or royalty new titles/formal new duties, like a wardenship), and weddings of nobility and royalty (even to commoners), nobles don’t wear their coronets/tiaras. Which, along with the robes, is what you’re seeing when real-world British peers ‘dress up’ thus.

There are many royal feasts, revels, and balls, including the seasonal ‘presentations’ (wherein young nobility are presented to the court as marriageable and available, like the ‘coming out’ parties for real-world bluestocking debutantes) at which coronets and tiaras need not be worn (although some conservative or especially haughty nobles do wear them), and guests brought by a highborn would be seated with them if seating is a concern (at revels, it isn’t, and at many feasts since the ascension of Azoun IV the precedence problem is avoided by having many small, round tables where ‘converse and eat’ groups can form of their own accord, among friends and cliques and family, or folk who want to discuss business or sports or pastimes or just gossip together, not by rank). At such events, there’s very little in the way of garments that would be considered scandalous (though dirty unclad nudity would come close), because so many attendees use such occasions, like modern real-world ‘Hollywood red carpet’ occasions, for wearing daring fashions.

However, you will see a wide variety of garments on display, from uniforms for courtiers and serving military to frilly and revealing gowns, and everything in between.
Wooly Rupert Posted - 08 May 2020 : 20:38:54
Ob burial practices in Saerloon:


I hope you have had a good weekend. A quick question if I may, what are the burial practices in Saerloon? The map in FRA has no obvious cemetery area within the city itself.


In Saerloon, most burials are cremations, and then the urn is either kept in the family home or at their country ‘getaway,’ or interred behind a little door, inside in a large downtown building, in the same way that Waterdeep’s City of the Dead (and many other cities in the Realms, such as Athkatla and Marsember) has mausoleum buildings where hundreds or thousands of remains are kept.

The wealthiest Sembians have family crypts (usually buildings, these days, rather than cellars of their hunting-lodge-rebuilt-into-their-country-mansion) on their country estates, where they go to breed horses, hunt, hold revels, or read and relax. Wealthy Sembians tend to go for embalming the dead (the cheap way is to soak the body in a pool of spirits), and coffins, not cremations. (This means undead who rise can often be readily destroyed with fire.)

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