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T O P I C    R E V I E W
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)
questing gm Posted - 16 Sep 2021 : 02:42:49
On the use of treacle in the Realms

https://twitter.com/TheEdVerse/status/1438240442391408641

Sep 16 2021

Artie_Pavlov
Hi @TheEdVerse! is there anything you can share about the use of treacle in the realms? In cooking, magic, or what it's made of? Thanks in advance!

@TheEdVerse

Sure. In our world, treacle is unrefined sugar syrup, commonly called “molasses” if it’s dark (opaque brown), and “golden syrup” or some variant of that if it’s light (translucent and golden).

In the Realms, “treacle” means just the dark stuff, as the lighter variety is called various things including, yep, “golden syrup.” In the Realms as in our world, this light syrup finds its way into tarts and sponge puddings (treacle tart and treacle sponge pudding are classic British desserts).

In our real world, molasses finds its way into oatmeal for those who can’t get maple syrup, into pies like pecan pie, into bread like pumpernickel, and into sauces (BBQ sauce), into meat marinades, into rum, into gingerbread cookies, and into baked beans.

If I was writing that same sentence about the Realms, I’d say: treacle finds its way into oatmeal for those who can’t get maple syrup, into pies like nutbrown tarts, into bread like darkloaf, and into firefruit meat sauces and marinades, into rum and darkfire slake, into ginger biscuits, and bean-barrel-sauce (some eat it with the beans, and some wash it off, treating it like a disposable preservative or to make “sweetwater,” a cheap dessert drink or baking/cooking sweetener).
questing gm Posted - 15 Sep 2021 : 01:37:59
On pronouncing Obarskyr

https://twitter.com/TheEdVerse/status/1437797074922319874

Sep 14 2021

@seanodaniels

All my research is for naught, so I now desperately appeal to the authorities: How does one pronounce Obarskyr?
@TheEdVerse @erinmevans

@TheEdVerse

"Oh-BAR-skeer."
Little used at Court, however, in favour of "Cormyr," as in: "Azoun of Cormyr."
questing gm Posted - 15 Sep 2021 : 01:35:39
On poems/songs in The Code of the Harpers

https://twitter.com/TheEdVerse/status/1437798062483726341

Sep 14 2021

@GMRaphi
Ok #adnd veterans!
Who wrote the Harper songs / poems in this book? @TheEdVerse was it you?
<image of The Code of the Harpers: https://twitter.com/GMRaphi/status/1437760059983945733/photo/1>


@TheEdVerse

Of course. ;}
sleyvas Posted - 14 Sep 2021 : 13:31:44
quote:
Originally posted by questing gm

On annual property taxes and prices in Waterdeep and why Volo gave up Trollskull Manor

https://twitter.com/TheEdVerse/status/1437251124378185734
https://twitter.com/TheEdVerse/status/1437279686061699078
https://twitter.com/TheEdVerse/status/1437285368278265857

Sep 13 2021

@frank_oni_oni

I just wrote an epic Reddit post on Waterdeep real estate prices and why Volo gave away Trollskull Manor away in Dragonheist.

I'd love to hear your thoughts, especially if your name is @ChrisPerkinsDnD or @TheEdVerse

https://www.reddit.com/r/WaterdeepDragonHeist/comments/pn1xyw/waterdeep_real_estate_prices_why_volo_gave/


@TheEdVerse

Great thread!

Yes, Waterdeep has annual realty taxes.

See my Twitter answers for Feb 20/20: “The nobles ignored that, so the Lords paid out of city coffers, and added it to the taxes of the two noble houses (which is, sadly, standard procedure in the city; nobles, like anyone else, who don't pay taxes in full get property seized in lieu).”

And for Apr 25/20, re. 1375 DR: “Buildings in Waterdeep didn't have numerical addresses then. (They did have "roll numbers" in the Palace tax records and floorplan registry.)”

And for Apr 29/90: “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).”

And (same reply thread, Apr 29/20): “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 on May 8/20: “a selection of scribes to quickly copy something, draw up a contract or trade agreement in quadruplicate (a copy to each party, plus a temple copy for the temple holding the money, plus a tax-record-remittance copy for the Palace).”

And on August 9/20, re. privileges of noble houses of Waterdeep: “certain tax deferrals in return for specific investments in civic works programs.”

Your construction costs for Waterdhavian buildings (twice the average base of most other places) are spot-on. Plus building permit costs, which rise substantially if a street has to be blocked off for any length of time (you’re inconveniencing not just neighbours, but traffic flow and therefore commerce in the city).

(The same inflated prices also apply in cities where space is at a premium due to lack of room for expansion [or expansion within the city walls], or where guilds are strong and therefore rates are high, and in cities that have always been expensive, like Athkatla.)

Your taxes for North Ward are too low: it’s equal to Castle Ward, not 5 percent less, and rises above that “equal” in the first two rows of city blocks (heading east) immediately adjacent to Sea Ward.

And back taxes owed is EXACTLY why Volo gave Trollskull Manor away.

@RpgMatch

Can you confirm that the property tax rate in Waterdeep is ~1% of the property price per year? It's .88% in NYC, but 2.5% in the Flemish region of Brussels.

@TheEdVerse

Nope. You're applying a flat formula across a city that, like all real-world cities, has grown over the years. Most real-world cities have the same disparities that exist in Waterdeep: taxes vary from place to place within a city, and rates also vary with social class (political clout); i.e. the nobles, AND temples, AND guilds get themselves tax breaks, and wheeler-dealer wealthy individuals broker deals with the Palace (just as in real life): I give you this land for civic purposes if you'll give me a low rate on yon property over there. In Waterdeep, the annual realty tax ("property tax") rate tends to be lower than 1 percent of the property price; Waterdeep doesn't have "mill rates," it has set taxes per property that get reviewed by the Palace (and always raised) on about a twenty-year cycle. (And the above brokering comes into play to win yourself delays in reassessment.) Waterdeep has always had a "flee south to warmer climes for the winter" problem that it has attempted to soften by keeping realty taxes low (as it has other sources of revenue like the gate taxes, docking fees, permit fees, etc.).

You can use a percentage of purchase price rate as a VERY rough guide to estimating probable taxes, but don't make the mistake of thinking the city calculates taxes that way.

It's always perilous to apply modern real-world ways of doing things to the Realms. And just a brief glance at real-world cities of any longevity (London, Paris, Rome) will reveal that as years pass, their taxation systems change radically (and are inconsistent).

For years, I've worked in public libraries, and run D&D mini-campaigns as library programs. Once I ran for five middle-aged, conservative female librarians who wanted NO bloodshed, no monsters, and no magic.

So I gave them a Waterdeep campaign that was Jane Austen-like "social whirl" on one level (daughters of ambitious guildmasters trying to break into the nobility, or at least become social equals with the weakest, poorest nobles), and on the other: turn Daddy's guild money, not quite keeping pace with his ambitions, into large fortunes by shrewd property investments (buy, sell, flip, reno, rent out, etc.), and impress Daddy so much that he lets you behave like a full guild member or more, because you understand finance and social nuance better than he does. They loved it, and as a result, we delved into (and I detailed) the byzantine property valuations, tax system, and tax dodges of Waterdeep.

And I inspired two of them to try becoming real estate magnates in real life. One had a disastrous time, but the other left her library job behind for wealth and a big mansion in Woodbridge and a trophy husband.

Ah, they grow up so fast... ;}

@VentureSatchel

Truly inspiring! I love a good bit of socioeconomics in my RPGs. Perhaps why I'm looking to play the Spreadsheet Simulator that is Traveller5.

@TheEdVerse

Just as it's possible to play LORDS OF WATERDEEP as an entirely "builder" game, outcompeting each other without open conflict (just don't use the mandatory quests cards), playing merchants competing in a law-and-order environment that prevents knifings can make for a fascinating game without PC combat. That has just as much tension and competition, and far more CHARACTER acting and bluffing, and players using their wits, than rolling of dice to decide one's fate. :}



Well, I didn't read through his whole extrapolation, but its interesting to see someone trying to figure out expenses for buildings in Waterdeep. I give the guy props.
questing gm Posted - 14 Sep 2021 : 01:48:39
On annual property taxes and prices in Waterdeep and why Volo gave up Trollskull Manor

https://twitter.com/TheEdVerse/status/1437251124378185734
https://twitter.com/TheEdVerse/status/1437279686061699078
https://twitter.com/TheEdVerse/status/1437285368278265857
https://twitter.com/TheEdVerse/status/1437610283158097924

Sep 13 2021

@frank_oni_oni

I just wrote an epic Reddit post on Waterdeep real estate prices and why Volo gave away Trollskull Manor away in Dragonheist.

I'd love to hear your thoughts, especially if your name is @ChrisPerkinsDnD or @TheEdVerse

https://www.reddit.com/r/WaterdeepDragonHeist/comments/pn1xyw/waterdeep_real_estate_prices_why_volo_gave/


@TheEdVerse

Great thread!

Yes, Waterdeep has annual realty taxes.

See my Twitter answers for Feb 20/20: “The nobles ignored that, so the Lords paid out of city coffers, and added it to the taxes of the two noble houses (which is, sadly, standard procedure in the city; nobles, like anyone else, who don't pay taxes in full get property seized in lieu).”

And for Apr 25/20, re. 1375 DR: “Buildings in Waterdeep didn't have numerical addresses then. (They did have "roll numbers" in the Palace tax records and floorplan registry.)”

And for Apr 29/90: “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).”

And (same reply thread, Apr 29/20): “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 on May 8/20: “a selection of scribes to quickly copy something, draw up a contract or trade agreement in quadruplicate (a copy to each party, plus a temple copy for the temple holding the money, plus a tax-record-remittance copy for the Palace).”

And on August 9/20, re. privileges of noble houses of Waterdeep: “certain tax deferrals in return for specific investments in civic works programs.”

Your construction costs for Waterdhavian buildings (twice the average base of most other places) are spot-on. Plus building permit costs, which rise substantially if a street has to be blocked off for any length of time (you’re inconveniencing not just neighbours, but traffic flow and therefore commerce in the city).

(The same inflated prices also apply in cities where space is at a premium due to lack of room for expansion [or expansion within the city walls], or where guilds are strong and therefore rates are high, and in cities that have always been expensive, like Athkatla.)

Your taxes for North Ward are too low: it’s equal to Castle Ward, not 5 percent less, and rises above that “equal” in the first two rows of city blocks (heading east) immediately adjacent to Sea Ward.

And back taxes owed is EXACTLY why Volo gave Trollskull Manor away.

@RpgMatch

Can you confirm that the property tax rate in Waterdeep is ~1% of the property price per year? It's .88% in NYC, but 2.5% in the Flemish region of Brussels.

@TheEdVerse

Nope. You're applying a flat formula across a city that, like all real-world cities, has grown over the years. Most real-world cities have the same disparities that exist in Waterdeep: taxes vary from place to place within a city, and rates also vary with social class (political clout); i.e. the nobles, AND temples, AND guilds get themselves tax breaks, and wheeler-dealer wealthy individuals broker deals with the Palace (just as in real life): I give you this land for civic purposes if you'll give me a low rate on yon property over there. In Waterdeep, the annual realty tax ("property tax") rate tends to be lower than 1 percent of the property price; Waterdeep doesn't have "mill rates," it has set taxes per property that get reviewed by the Palace (and always raised) on about a twenty-year cycle. (And the above brokering comes into play to win yourself delays in reassessment.) Waterdeep has always had a "flee south to warmer climes for the winter" problem that it has attempted to soften by keeping realty taxes low (as it has other sources of revenue like the gate taxes, docking fees, permit fees, etc.).

You can use a percentage of purchase price rate as a VERY rough guide to estimating probable taxes, but don't make the mistake of thinking the city calculates taxes that way.

It's always perilous to apply modern real-world ways of doing things to the Realms. And just a brief glance at real-world cities of any longevity (London, Paris, Rome) will reveal that as years pass, their taxation systems change radically (and are inconsistent).

For years, I've worked in public libraries, and run D&D mini-campaigns as library programs. Once I ran for five middle-aged, conservative female librarians who wanted NO bloodshed, no monsters, and no magic.

So I gave them a Waterdeep campaign that was Jane Austen-like "social whirl" on one level (daughters of ambitious guildmasters trying to break into the nobility, or at least become social equals with the weakest, poorest nobles), and on the other: turn Daddy's guild money, not quite keeping pace with his ambitions, into large fortunes by shrewd property investments (buy, sell, flip, reno, rent out, etc.), and impress Daddy so much that he lets you behave like a full guild member or more, because you understand finance and social nuance better than he does. They loved it, and as a result, we delved into (and I detailed) the byzantine property valuations, tax system, and tax dodges of Waterdeep.

And I inspired two of them to try becoming real estate magnates in real life. One had a disastrous time, but the other left her library job behind for wealth and a big mansion in Woodbridge and a trophy husband.

Ah, they grow up so fast... ;}

@VentureSatchel

Truly inspiring! I love a good bit of socioeconomics in my RPGs. Perhaps why I'm looking to play the Spreadsheet Simulator that is Traveller5.

@TheEdVerse

Just as it's possible to play LORDS OF WATERDEEP as an entirely "builder" game, outcompeting each other without open conflict (just don't use the mandatory quests cards), playing merchants competing in a law-and-order environment that prevents knifings can make for a fascinating game without PC combat. That has just as much tension and competition, and far more CHARACTER acting and bluffing, and players using their wits, than rolling of dice to decide one's fate. :}

@DFW_DM_Monty

Yep that’s being printed out and added to my City of Splendors Box Set. Very well done! One question, does Waterdeep have an Assessment Review Board that I can protest the Assessor’s value of my property?

@TheEdVerse

It has an Office of the Civic Treasury in the Palace with a seen-it-all desk clerk (lady in her 60s, face like a basset hound: Thraea) out front, tax collectors with bodyguards coming and going, and 3 overworked assessors in offices piled high with ledgers and notes.

-Edited on 15/9/21 to add another question and tweet
questing gm Posted - 11 Sep 2021 : 02:10:02
On tallglasses

https://twitter.com/TheEdVerse/status/1436346493384986625

Sep 10 2021

@RpgMatch
Is a tallglass in Faerun what we would refer to as a wine glass?


@TheEdVerse

A tallglass fulfills the same FUNCTION on a menu as a wine glass, but is closer to what we call a "tumbler." I.e. the big cylindrical glass in "a glass of water" or "a glass of milk."
Most tallglasses look like champagne flutes with deep bowls and short stems.

@RpgMatch
Like anyone of these?

<Image of flutes: https://twitter.com/RpgMatch/status/1436452800469209090/photo/1>


@TheEdVerse

Those are all indeed flutes, but a tallglass in the Realms looks more like this: <Image: https://twitter.com/TheEdVerse/status/1436474209018990594/photo/1>

Or like this: <Image: https://twitter.com/TheEdVerse/status/1436474212072529922/photo/1>

Or this: <Image: https://twitter.com/TheEdVerse/status/1436474337096306708/photo/1>
questing gm Posted - 11 Sep 2021 : 02:01:46
On spells with expiry

https://twitter.com/TheEdVerse/status/1436476413281017856

Sep 11 2021

@frank_oni_oni

HI. Did arcane and divine casters create spells that told them how much time was going by? A fly spell or waterbreathing spell last a certain duration does the spell impart when time is expiring to user in some manner? Or is it guesstamation?

@TheEdVerse

Depends on the incantation (everyone who experiments with spells, as opposed to just copying and using them, tinkers).

Some expire without warning, some create a rising whistle in the caster's inner ear, and some begin to tint vision a warning rose-red near expiry.
questing gm Posted - 07 Sep 2021 : 00:58:32
On Mintiper Moonsilver in home Realms

https://twitter.com/TheEdVerse/status/1434941742407720966

Sep 7 2021

@smparlin

Ed, was Mintiper Moonsilver primarily a lore piece or did he actually interact much with the PCs in your home Realms, and if so, in what role?

@TheEdVerse

Mintiper was an active NPC in home Realmsplay. Although the PCs rarely saw him, as he was tirelessly traveling (adventuring), he left word (usually tips and warnings) for them with many Harpers and innkeepers across the Sword Coast North, and their paths did cross a few memorable times (he saved their behinds at least twice with timely interventions in battles they were losing). The irrepressible Torm (the thief, not the god) even fell into the habit of calling out a greeting to him in the thick of a hard fray, in hopes he'd appear and aid the Knights. Yet Mintiper was primarily a provider of subplots for the buffet in front of the PCs, for them to choose from. Like most major NPCs, I charted his life-path (in general, not in detail) so I knew what he was up to and striving for, as the years passed.

And then, of course, the master Realms scholar Eric L. Boyd adopted him for a series of Wizards website columns that enriched us all!
questing gm Posted - 07 Sep 2021 : 00:55:20
On pirate NPCs in the Realms

https://twitter.com/TheEdVerse/status/1434945954323501056

Sep 7 2021

@Michael75535436

I am looking to add a pirate NPC in my adventure. Do you have any recommendations from the Forgotten Realms that would make an interesting NPC for the players to interact with? They are a group of 4-6 5th level characters.

@TheEdVerse

Are you familiar with the 2e Realms sourcebook PIRATES OF THE FALLEN STARS by Curtis Scott? A tome full of them!

It's available on the DM's Guild. Read its writeup there (on the "here's the product to buy" page; just scroll down) for info on a lot of related and followup Realms and other D&D releases.

And I've stuffed other pirates (and brigands) into a lot of Realmslore in the years since.
questing gm Posted - 07 Sep 2021 : 00:49:28
On training servants (and spies) in wealthy Waterdeep households

https://twitter.com/TheEdVerse/status/1434955209550274562

Sep 7 2021

@Greysil_Tassyr

In Waterdeep, how are servants for wealthy households trained and hired? I'm thinking of an agency that trains servants for nobles to be able to hire... and maybe a few of these servants are actually spies.

@TheEdVerse

Most servants are trained in a household, to the particular standards and idiosyncracies of particular employers (wealth allows folks to indulge their hobbies and eccentricities), but there are indeed retired veteran retainers living in various rented upper rooms around the Deep who train servants, and folks wanting to move in more refined circles, how to conduct themselves, and the tricks of good clothing and keeping it and the wearer looking good, plus full-on etiquette. There have been larger agencies, yes, most of them located in North Ward, but these have seldom lasted long. (By all means try to run anew one, but don’t be surprised if the Xanathar or another crime kingpin sends agents by for a “friendly visit,” or just quietly infiltrates you with spies of their own among your clients).

And finally, many, many individuals in Waterdeep supplement their incomes by spying for someone or other. Usually as eyes and ears that discreetly report in a gambling house or tavern back room, NOT “James Bond”-style agents who fight, kill, run around, or break into locked caches or private meetings to covertly eavesdrop. Some of them are VERY good at seeing and hearing things while seeming not to do so. There are even old noble aunts and uncles who for fees train you to act like a noble, but these are rarer.

questing gm Posted - 07 Sep 2021 : 00:45:30
On war crimes in the Realms

https://twitter.com/TheEdVerse/status/1435010998394568709

Sep 7 2021

@walkequi

I didn't think I'd ever have to look into this, but does the concept of war crimes exist in the Realms?

@TheEdVerse

Yes, but not because of any universally-accepted legal code. In the Realms, the concept is entertained and applied within faiths (and treated differently from church to church; clerics of Ilmater see things differently from clerics of Tempus, for example).
Wooly Rupert Posted - 06 Sep 2021 : 21:20:16
That's about half of my backlog. I'll likely do the rest next week.

Questing GM, please, feel free to continue what you're doing, as well. The assistance is quite appreciated!
Wooly Rupert Posted - 06 Sep 2021 : 21:18:50
On the Moonstone Mask in 1490s DR:

@MarcoVolo9

Hi @TheEdVerse! In the Realms, do temples have their own laws? And if so, do their laws prevail over that of the realm? (If needed: someone broke in a temple-owned granary. We are in Cormyr, and the church is Lathander). Is justice dispensed by the church or the town? Thanks

@TheEdVerse

It depends. ;} On where and when in the Realms you’re speaking of. The short answer is: all temples have their own internal rules/regs, and all faiths have their secular principles and precedents. Whatever the temple elders and/or temple patriarch/matriarch may think, the local secular ruler (if there is one; this may not apply to an isolated monastery) will believe THEIR laws and enforcement of same MUST prevail.

So, it depends.

Sometimes, BOTH temple and then (punished miscreants handed over) secular justice will apply, and in other cases the temple will quietly circumvent local secular authority by either “making a deal” with said miscreants (usually along the lines of “do this trifling but dangerous service for us, and we’ll forget about what you were just caught doing”), or exacting punishment (e.g. executions and “shoot, shovel, shut up” temple-grounds burials) that make local secular justice moot.

In the particular situation you cite, if the someone broke into a Lathanderite granary and vandalized or set fire, it will be a temple penance (fine plus a service, like highly dangerous and involving travel and delivery) PLUS handed over to Crown (of Cormyr) justice.

If the someone broke in to look around, or just to steal grain, Lathanderites might be very lenient, depending on motives (is this a “new beginning” the break-in artist is trying to support or bring about?), and might cast a geas or similar magic compelling an immediate service on said artist, and not mention what happened to the authorities at all. If they can gain a servant of the temple (however reluctant/unwilling) out of this, it’s a benefit that far outstrips just delivering someone unto secular punishment and perhaps making them an ongoing local problem for everyone.
#Realmslore
Wooly Rupert Posted - 06 Sep 2021 : 21:17:40
On temple justice:


@MarcoVolo9

Hi @TheEdVerse! In the Realms, do temples have their own laws? And if so, do their laws prevail over that of the realm? (If needed: someone broke in a temple-owned granary. We are in Cormyr, and the church is Lathander). Is justice dispensed by the church or the town? Thanks

@TheEdVerse

It depends. ;} On where and when in the Realms you’re speaking of. The short answer is: all temples have their own internal rules/regs, and all faiths have their secular principles and precedents. Whatever the temple elders and/or temple patriarch/matriarch may think, the local secular ruler (if there is one; this may not apply to an isolated monastery) will believe THEIR laws and enforcement of same MUST prevail.

So, it depends.

Sometimes, BOTH temple and then (punished miscreants handed over) secular justice will apply, and in other cases the temple will quietly circumvent local secular authority by either “making a deal” with said miscreants (usually along the lines of “do this trifling but dangerous service for us, and we’ll forget about what you were just caught doing”), or exacting punishment (e.g. executions and “shoot, shovel, shut up” temple-grounds burials) that make local secular justice moot.

In the particular situation you cite, if the someone broke into a Lathanderite granary and vandalized or set fire, it will be a temple penance (fine plus a service, like highly dangerous and involving travel and delivery) PLUS handed over to Crown (of Cormyr) justice.

If the someone broke in to look around, or just to steal grain, Lathanderites might be very lenient, depending on motives (is this a “new beginning” the break-in artist is trying to support or bring about?), and might cast a geas or similar magic compelling an immediate service on said artist, and not mention what happened to the authorities at all. If they can gain a servant of the temple (however reluctant/unwilling) out of this, it’s a benefit that far outstrips just delivering someone unto secular punishment and perhaps making them an ongoing local problem for everyone.
#Realmslore
Wooly Rupert Posted - 06 Sep 2021 : 21:17:09
On table magic:

Feb 12, 2021


@Pataphor1

Master @TheEdVerse, if wizards work Art and clerics channel Power, what would be the names, please, of the workings of Alchemists, Artificers and Engineers? "Force"? "Form"? ...?


@TheEdVerse

All of those are "Craft." They aren't considered "weird"/touched by the gods, but rather the work of human skill and at-the-bench innovation. Whereas the Gift to handle magic is considered given by the gods, not something that can be learned or gained by repetition.
#Realmslore


@Pataphor1

Thank you, Master Greenwood.

Um... even studied learned Wizardry, as opposed to the new sorcerers, warlocks, otherwise touched ones? Wizardry is Mystra's (& Azuth's) gift too?

I'd read alchemists (not chemists) & artificers were part arcane, cf. pure mechanical Engineers...?


@TheEdVerse

In the Realms, the Art is arcane magic. Not everyone can learn it, no matter how much access to written spells, material components, and training they have.

Like being born with perfect pitch (for music) or not, some individuals have the Gift (ability to wield magic), and some don't.

Some priests will tell you (and they may or may not be right) that the gods reward sufficiently devout persons by giving them the Gift to wield divine magic. We know that gods sometimes imbue a non-magic-wielding person with some magic, or even a single spell, usually in a moment of need, but don't confer the Gift permanently.

Some folks, priests and lay persons, believe the inspiration for inventions and mastery of craftwork comes from the gods. They may be right. But the Art means arcane magic, and the Gift means the ability to work magic.
#Realmslore


@ValetheHowl

Is there a form of magic that anyone could potentially learn without help from any divinity and without forming contracts with other entities?


@TheEdVerse

In the Realms, sure. Table Magic (never detailed in the published Realms) and, if you have the Gift, arcane magic (wizardry/sorcery). Again, some folk believe you only get the Gift because of deities, but others don't believe this.
#Realmslore


@ValetheHowl

What is exactly Table Magic? And can people without the Gift use it?


@TheEdVerse

Yes, folk without the Gift can use Table Magic.

It consists of placing particular substances (of specific sizes and shapes) in the proper relationship to each other, on a prepared surface upon which glyphs and lines are chalked. This calls on the Weave to work magic.
#Realmslore


@ValetheHowl

I find this Table Magic really interesting. Would you mind telling me more about it? Is there a limit to the spells it can cast?


@TheEdVerse

To work Table Magic, you need a particular sort of flat, smooth stone surface to be the table (it can be bedrock in the landscape, or a cut slab). You need cones, pillars, and other geometric shapes of specific substances acquired in particular circumstances and then shaped in exacting ways (this is the hardest part; getting some of these can involve dangerous quests/adventures).

You must use natural chalk (or the caster’s own blood) to draw the right glyphs in the right places on the table, circling each one and then joining the circles with lines along which words (silent incantations) are written.

When the pattern is complete, a rune of activation is drawn, the final stroke of which severs one of the lines (of the pattern) drawn earlier.

If any of these preparations has been done wrong, nothing at all happens.

If everything’s been done right, the severing of the line calls on the Weave for energy, which ignites the chalk lines at the severing-point. Then blue flame rushes along all of the written chalk marks (burning with an acrid smell, and very little smoke) and leaping to the shapes of substances (e.g. pillar of salt, cone of ebonwood, piece of ivory or an entire dragon or whale tooth) upon reaching the circle around each shape. As this is happening, a spell forms, as a glowing, roiling smoke above the table, and the caster can feel the energy building (it builds in the smoke, which will resist all winds or other intrusions, and they can feel it resonating through their body/tingling to thrumming), and can also feel when it’s ready to be unleashed; they direct/hurl/aim the spell from themselves just as a wizard or sorcerer does.

Regardless of its success or failure, and regardless of the usual flammability or inflammability of the chalk and the substances, they are all consumed.

So, one spell per table “setting.”

If the table is washed clean and more chalk and ingredient-shapes are set on it, another spell can be cast.

Yes, this is slow and static, not suited to mobile or battle use. Hence its rarity in the Realms today.
#Realmslore
Wooly Rupert Posted - 06 Sep 2021 : 21:16:16
On superstitions in the Dalelands:


Apr 6, 2021


@mineirodabahia

and could you list some awkward Dalelands superstitions, anything


@TheEdVerse

Sure. I happen to have a small lore-bucket of these. ;}

If you make love when a full moon is rising over the Old Skull, visible to you during your intimacy, conception is guaranteed.

Never go within sight or sound of Harpers’ Hill after the sun goes down, or you will be haunted all your life by what you hear.

Children who make Storm or Syluné Silverhand laugh will enjoy good fortune for a year.

If a wolf’s howl is heard in sunlight in Shadowdale during Marpenoth, someone of the Dale will become a lycanthrope before the year is out.

Old Arthrudd the Miser-Miller will rise from his grave to knock on your door in the dead of a moonless night if you dig near the mill, as he’ll be certain you’re seeking the gold he buried and is now too dead to recover.

Lune Lyrohair was revealed as a lycanthrope and slain, but she slept with so many men of the village before then that lycanthropy is sure to show up in many Dale families in the generations ahead. Beware a golden-eyed child.

The drow hid gold and silver coins and trade-bars all over the dale, shallow-buried—but if you find any, disturb it not, lest the curses they cast on their caches awaken and bring them up from the Realms Below to hunt you.

A tentacled eye flies the forest trails by night, awaiting young Dalesfolk abroad at such times. It feeds on memories and blood, you never get either back—and it uses every memory to make future hunts more deadly.

Rich drow treasure is hidden in the Twisted Tower, but for every gem of it that someone finds, a man of the dale will die. And their bodies will be found on the roof of the Old Skull.

If the Zhents ever invade Shadowdale with an army again, the Six Old Men who died trying to hold the crossroads against them will rise for revenge, and won’t rest until each of them has beheaded a dozen Zhents.

The lich that legend insists dwells under Fox Ridge isn’t the only lich in the dale.
The other one lives in plain sight, but no one recognizes its true nature through the human guise it wears.

Dwarves dug a tunnel centuries ago that runs under the dale, to cry warning of a drow advance. Enchanted double-headed axes fly tirelessly along it, awaiting drow heads to split—and magical alarm-gongs to ring.
#Realmslore
Wooly Rupert Posted - 06 Sep 2021 : 21:15:15
On stirges:


Jul 4, 2021

@icequeenerika

another thought! A lot of your FR adventures have had a lot of stirges historically. Are these publishing stand-ins for your collection of monstrous flies (blow/sting/horse/horn) - maybe a bit more accessible for Americans?

For people not familiar with Ed's fly monsters, see page 85 of Elminster's Forgotten Realms.


@TheEdVerse

Heh. Americans annually raise the best crop of horseflies in the world. Seriously and not pejoratively; the USA has LOTS of the right habitat.

No, stirges (as small flying critters that swarm and give low-level adventurers a chance for a FIGHT instead of a very short roll-fest) are just very deployable at low levels. The old Fiend Folio added the Volt as an alternative. And I had other small nasties, like the Lock Lurker (see The Haunted Halls).
Wooly Rupert Posted - 06 Sep 2021 : 21:14:32
On angering one of the ruling families in Melvaunt:


@bbarlach

hi Master. If a party of well regarded heroes subtlety displease one of the ruling families of Melvaunt, what would be the consequence?


@TheEdVerse

If the party is in Melvaunt, they'll suddenly find themselves watched...everywhere, by both obvious "tails" and far more skilled and covert thieves. The local Watch will "drop by" to inspect their abode/rented rooms, and what they're up to at that moment. Any permits they need to obtain will now be issued more slowly, perhaps with higher fees attached, or more "splitting hairs" over qualifications (red tape), or both. And of course, if they retaliate in any way against an obvious or covert spy, or the Watch, arrests will swiftly follow. (And if there was any chance of their being hired by Melvaunt for anything, that chance has just faded to no chance at all.)
#Realmslore
Wooly Rupert Posted - 06 Sep 2021 : 21:13:49
On snow elves:


May 18, 2021


@velho_mestre

Greetings great sage! Thanks for granting us countless hrs of fun. My brother is starting a PC who is a Snow Elf, from the High Ice, 1380DR. Could you give us some information about the elven name for the Snow Elves would be? Maybe some info on the Snow E. society?


@TheEdVerse

Snow elves are called “snow elves” by non-elves, “Noroth” (cold-lovers) by other elves, and call themselves “Raetha” (Clear-Bright-Cold).

In the Realms, they’ve never been numerous, in part because of the harsh climate they live in, and in part because of strife with orcs (and even drow) whenever they venture too deeply into the fissures and caverns in the mountains they live on—and in. Raetha long ago mastered ice magic (arcane spells that can reshape ice, turn it into water and vice versa, use it as a weapon, and even “lock” other spells into it so that if a spelltrapped area of ice is shattered, the trapped magic is unleashed). It’s by use of ice magic that Raetha fashion castle-cities to guard the entrances to their cavern homes: watchposts, approach-trails (and slides) and fortress walls and platforms. This has given rise to the belief that snow elves live in cities of ice, but they don’t (because this has proven impractical; to prevent icemelt from sun, magic had to be used to create permanent fogs, to protect elaborate cities, whereas the fortresses they do build are smaller and can be protected against sunlight with smaller, more practical spells). Many Raetha abodes are caves that open out of mountainsides, that have permanent window-walls not of glass, but of spellguarded ice.

It’s very rare for Raetha to venture down into the warmer rest of the world; they find it intolerably hot and humid, and have little interest in what they see as crowded, chaotic, violent regions. So they have little contact with the wider world; the few Raetha who do are considered mad by some, but bold adventurers by others, and tend to return (if they survive to return at all) with new items, new substances, and new ideas that the Raetha study eagerly, and so benefit and change.

Largely through uninterrupted study and experimentation, Raetha have achieved superb mastery of magic, and usually defeat the drow they do encounter (one deadly thing they can do in battle is hurl bursts of water, and follow them with ice spells that turn the water that’s drenched a foe into clouds of ice spears and daggers that the casters can move, from afar—so they can readily pincushion foes.

Raetha hunt remorhaz for sport, accomplishment, and food (the “sport” part of it is that they only use magic when desperately hungry, otherwise taking down the beasts with hand weapons; they take pride in besting such mighty creatures in this manner). Most Raetha food is fungi they farm and harvest in their deeper caves, beetles that feed on that fungi that they also harvest and cook, and fruit grown in caverns touched by sunlight, through focal lenses of spellshaped ice.

A few Raetha cities wield “sunbeams” as defenses, that they can magically call up, then aim and use to cook enemies approaching from either inner cavern depths, or mountain slopes.
#Realmslore
Wooly Rupert Posted - 06 Sep 2021 : 21:12:57
On smokepowder:

Jul 8, 2021


@Sundered_Ant

Hey @TheEdVerse, I wanted to ask you something about the Celtic gods today, but this peculiarity from "Grand History of the Realms" caught my eye.

The Lantanese wouldn't learn the secrets of smokepowder from Gond for another hundred years, so this seems impossible to me...

<screenshot showing timeline entry:
1246 DR Year of Burning Steel
First recorded use of bombards by Lantan>

A case of wrong date, interaction with a Spelljammer, or just something similar to a bombard?

And while we are on the topic of smokepowder, could Shou Lung have developed something like the Ming dynasty's San Yan Chong? It is a Renaissance-era firearm after all.


@TheEdVerse

Those bombards weren't smokepowder, they were gunpowder (before Gond magically banned it, with Mystra's agreement, so before smokepowder was discovered/perfected).

And Shou Lung COULD have, but didn't. Their attention/effort then was on better agricultural yields.
#Realmslore


@Sundered_Ant

Oh wow! Thanks for the response Ed.

I knew about Gond rendering gunpowder inert to protect his worshipers, but nowhere has it ever been said "when" he did it. I wouldn't have guessed it occurred so late in the setting's history


@TheEdVerse

It occurred after Gond decided too many unfortunate explosions had obliterated important dedicated mortal followers of Gond. Explosions before then, particularly befalling others NOT part of Gond's clergy, were just buildups to Gond's act. A LOT of buildup! :{
#Realmslore


@Razzelmire

Is smokepowder a magic item or solely alchemical? I’m under a 3e ruling where alchemical items are not subject to antimagic/dead magic etc. did that change in 5e? Or is it a magic item, meaning only spellcasters can Craft it? Seems odd for non-caster inventors, if so.


@TheEdVerse

Smokepowder is solely alchemical. Meaning: a secret formula (secret to the priests of Gond, a "temple secret"). Which means quite a few people outside the clergy have figured out most of the ingredients, but the precise proportions and how to mix them is a matter of DANGEROUS experimentation (explosions are very common).

There are two "tricks" involved (processes that Gondites use spells to expedite, but the magic isn't truly necessary). One is a way of getting three dry ingredients to mix (bond), and another is how the final mix is kept mixed (to keep it from separating, which renders it scorching if ignited, but not explosive).

If you're not a priest of Gond, his clergy won't make smokepowder in front of you or discuss its making with you.
#Realmslore
Wooly Rupert Posted - 06 Sep 2021 : 21:12:06
On Slut Street, in Waterdeep:

Note: this one wasn't in response to a specific question; Ed was pinged on a tweet on the new state of canon for the Realms, and offered this response.



@TheEdVerse

Heh.

Canon.

One historical note re. Chris's column: streets in cities appear, disappear, and get renamed all the time, so changing a street name is realistic; it makes a city feel alive.

If 5-year-old me hadn't been raised by an elderly aunt familiar only with older British usage, "Slut Street" would never have been named as such.

To us, nowadays, it's a pejorative with a sexual connotation. Back then, in that place, it was a less polite way of saying "slattern." That is, a dirty person with slovenly habits. Meaning: working poor.

...and no more than that (there were all sorts of names, nasty and otherwise, for prostitutes). What I MEANT was that many of the working drudges of Waterdeep (who cooked and cleaned homes and privies, and did laundry, and carried away garbage, all belonging to other folks who'd pay them, lived in small rented upper rooms along Slut Street, and over time the street had acquired a fitting name ("Anathae lives where all the other sluts do, along Slut Street. She's southfront, two floors above Uldro's Smoked Fish").

Interestingly, a woman only three years younger than I am, born in Canada, ONLY knew "slut" with a sexual connotation, so the widespread change in meaning hadn't caught up to my elderly aunt, and therefore me. I should have changed it when turning over the Waterdeep lore to TSR back in 1986, but was too busy finding all the papers and photocopying them and getting them couriered or mailed and keeping up with specific lore requests, at the time.

Perfect example of a change that should have been made. Not out of prudery, but because it conveys the wrong impression, and can offend, but for no good story reason.
#Realmslore
Wooly Rupert Posted - 06 Sep 2021 : 21:10:11
On Shar:


Jul 3, 2021

@icequeenerika

did Shar have a child that was lost in prehistory like Selune has her tears? It would explain Shar’s grief and depression a LOT.


@TheEdVerse

Yes. You've stumbled on an untold secret of the Realms. Which is still NDA, a little bit because it offends against the Code of Conduct, but a lot because a certain Event hasn't happened yet.

I've only been working on the Realms for 56 years. Some secrets remain. ;}
#Realmslore


@icequeenerika

I was thinking this might be one of those big secrets you've been hinting at since THO was carrying posts from you to Candlekeep, and it looks like I was right!


@TheEdVerse

You are. ;}
Wooly Rupert Posted - 06 Sep 2021 : 21:09:34
On Shandalar:

@TiborBolha

Hey Ed, you rock. I have a question - is Shandalar your creation? That wizard fella


@TheEdVerse

The human mage Shandalar is my creation, as is the spellsinger Shandalara Nightsong.

The moon elf Shandalar Moonflower was created by Elaine Cunningham.
#Realmslore
Wooly Rupert Posted - 06 Sep 2021 : 21:09:03
On rewards from deities:

Jul 20, 2021

@AlexMcclay2000

Hi Ed, I was looking at the piety system in the Mythic Odessis of Theros book and I was thinking of implementing something like that into my Realms campaign.

If you don't know what it is, it gives the players rewards for advancing their deity's goals. there are 4 Tiers of rewards, ranging from abilities that are, or are similar to 1st level spells, 2-3rd level spells, 3-4th level spells, and an Ability Score improvement at the final tier. You can usually use each ability once or as several times a day depending on the power of the ability.

Now with the mechanics out of the way, ignoring game mechanics and game editions, would deities grant abilities to their most devout followers (I'm assuming yes), and if so, what type of rewards? Are 3rd level spells too much of a reward?

I'd like to make it as close to the Realms as possible, so that might mean decreasing or increasing the power of the rewards.

Thanks in Advance!


@TheEdVerse

Deities in the Realms have always rewarded devout followers. Usually by getting their clergy to do something (practical) for them, or rescuing them from disasters, but also through manifestations (of the god's presence, attention, and power) and bestowed spells.

This made it into an earlier edition of D&D as the "Imbue With Spell Ability" spell.
In the 'home' Realms campaign, non-clerics, characters of any class, and even non-classed NPCs, could have a spell bestowed upon them, for their immediate use in time of need.

This happens in at least two adventures I designed for TSR to run at GenCons at the time FR debuted as a setting. Third-level spells are fine as rewards, and so are much more powerful spells if they're one-shots and what the character needs at that moment.

Even sufficiently fervent prayers could receive a response, though bestowals of spells are usually in return for a heroic service.

In short, this has always been in the Realms, for non-clerics. Clergy, often including paladins, don't get this sort of reward as they have their own established (through the church) paths of rewards/ascension in priestly ranks and offices and character class powers.

Deities in the Realms have always been about aims. Because I formalized portfolios for D&D, gamers have concentrated on what god is "responsible" for what field or genre or topic, and has dominion over it, but the game is predicated on free will over destiny (or adventurers aren't heroes, simply pawns following a divine script), so the deities are "overblown-mortals" or "super-mortals" (flawed and fallible), so the best way to roleplay divine influences and interventions is to look at what the deities, AS PEOPLE, are striving for, or want...and what they allow their mortal followers to strive for, and accomplish (not just taboos for the faithful, but secular activities of priesthoods, like investing and sideline industries and politicking). This lets campaign play focus on priesthoods and devout lay worshippers (who receive dream-visions, or orders from priests in temples, when the lay worshippers show up to pray or give offerings) trying to do specific mundane things in the world, to further what the deity wants to see happen, so instead of passively or reactively "standing for all things to do with cows, or anvils, or sea voyages," a deity is pushing mortals and a webwork of caused or exploited events to achieve certain things, usually in conflict with the interests of other deities...so the Church of Shar or of Ilmater or of Moander is an active, complex force working on many fronts, doing things great and small, in an ongoing, dynamic way.

If that's your jam, of course.

As D&D was born in time when the real-world beliefs of consumers had to be respected from a distance, gingerly, this was one aspect of the original Realms that got downplayed or omitted.

So it's great to go this route, if a particular gaming group is comfortable doing so. In short, if the piety rules work for you, great! Third level spells grants are by no means too high. :}
#Realmslore
Wooly Rupert Posted - 06 Sep 2021 : 21:08:22
On Raven Rock:


@one_veevers

I can't begin to tell you how much I love your work.

I'm drafting a side quest for my players & looking for a for a new mine for Mirabar (perhaps a new type of ore?) & stumbled upon Ravens Rock. Is there anything interesting you can tell me about the Uthgardt site?


@TheEdVerse

Well met!

I hope these words will be useful…

Out of a narrow cleft in a frowning wall of peaks not far from the seacoast, and well west of Mirabar, part way along the southern face of the Spine of the World range, plunges the icy-cold Black Raven River. If you win past that torrent into the higher space beyond, you’ll find the cleft forks around a high plateau, with a small, intermittent meltwater stream descending the narrower western cleft, and the Black Raven River thundering down the broader cleft. The western cleft can readily be ascended (and the eastern cleft climbed with more difficulty, farther north) to reach the top of that plateau.

Where you’ll find Raven Rock, a hundred-foot-tall black rock that resembles a lifelike statue of a perched black raven, its beak overhanging a wolf-shaped depression in the ground.

There’s some debate among sages about how much sentient hands have shaped the stone raven, and how much it’s natural (or the work of the gods), and the top of the plateau is a mixture of odd-looking nature and human (Uthgardt or perhaps even older) tampering.

The top of the plateau has four higher, smaller plateaus atop it. Three of them are to the sides and rear of the plateau, and are topped by standing stones (menhirs). The fourth has two steps (a smaller plateau above a larger, that rises from the main plateau all of these features stand on), and the stone raven stands on this highest, smallest plateau.

The local microclimate is cold, and direct sun rarely reaches any part of this cleft in the Spine for long, so all of this area is customarily covered by snow, and there are frequent snowfalls, particularly in spring and fall, but very few howling storms, as the surrounding peaks break most winds, and the only prevalent breeze is along the river (past and below the plateau).

In the heart of the depression in front of the stone raven stands a stone altar: a huge hump of bedrock, not a stone block. It’s engraved, around its sloping sides, with the phases of the moon, and its top is flat, with a very slight oval depression large enough for six adult humans to lie down in, side by side and touching, and about as deep as the thickness of a large, burly human body.

All of the Uthgardt tribes have ancestral mounds, sacred to them, where they bury their most revered tribal dead, and to which they return to speak with their ancestors and to make important tribal decisions “under the regard of” their ancestors.

Raven Rock is (uneasily) shared by two tribes: the Black Raven tribe and the Gray Wolf tribe. The Black Ravens guard those two smaller, higher “step” plateaus, and let no non-Black Ravens set foot on them, nor touch the stone raven (even with something flung or shot, like an arrow). This very much includes the Gray Wolves, who gather around their altar but approach the brooding stone raven no closer than that. They bury their dead and battle trophies (notably, an enchanted red dragon femur) “in front of” (south of) the depression, between it and the southern edge of the main plateau. The Black Ravens bury their dead and battle trophies (notably, a giant rock ring; hardened volcanic flow) on the three menhir-adorned plateaus.

The main plateau does have several natural caverns within it, that can be accessed from crevices in the north (the “back” of the plateau).

There are veins of adamantite (the ore that yields adamant, the hard but brittle metal that can be made into the tremendously tough, durable alloy of adamantine) running through the plateau, but any attempt to mine them are going to bring down repeated and fierce Uthgardt attacks on the miners.

There’s also a very large and pure vein of silver farther up the Black Raven River, within sight of the plateau and revealed by its gleam through the river’s rushing waters.

The Black Ravens and Gray Wolves would attack anyone trying to mine it, too; so far as they’re concerned, anyone entering the cleft is too close to the place they hold sacred—and where one group of intruders come, more (in their experience) inevitably follow.

(And dwarves and duergar of old likely delved out subterranean dwellings in the surrounding mountains, to use the river headwaters as a handy water source.)
#Realmslore

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