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Brian R. James
Forgotten Realms Game Designer

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Posted - 28 Feb 2008 :  01:45:51  Show Profile  Visit Brian R. James's Homepage Send Brian R. James a Private Message  Reply with Quote  Delete Topic
A new Countdown to the Realms article has been posted on D&D Insider.

Spellplague: The Wailing Years.

Update 08/21/2011: Apparently this article has been lost due to a content shuffle at the WotC website. As such I have included the original text of the article below.




Countdown to the Realms
Spellplague: The Wailing Years
by Brian R. James
Dragon 362
02/27/2008

Excerpt from the journal of Arleenaya Kithmaer, First Magistrati of the House of the High One Ascendant, Year of Blue Fire
(1385 DR)


"Reaching out northwest from beyond the horizon's rim, I beheld a sight which was at once horrifying as it was beautiful; a stormlike
catastrophe rolling across the sky, which seemed to be ablaze with blue fire. Frozen in stupefying awe, I witnessed the cerulean
thunderhead crash into the mighty Lhairghal, throwing pillars of azure fire skyward to snatch at Selûne's calming light. Selûne, my
gods! The surface of the moon, long presented to us mortals as a barren landscape of craters and lifeless valleys, now revealed to me
majestic mountains and sprawling seas; itself alight with similar cobalt radiance. A nearby exclamation from the Magehound returned
my attention earthward to witness a shimmering wall of sapphire flame racing down Mhair Pass. Five breaths longer and the storm
would crash into the battlement upon which I stood with a handful of loomwardens. I recall hastily whispered prayers to Azuth, a
moment of unqualified stillness, and then nothing."


As dusk fell over the Shining South on the 29th day of Tarsakh in the Year of Blue Fire (1385 DR), a menacing storm began forming over the Mhair Jungles west of Halruaa. Beyond its massive size, the storm was particularly notable for the ribbons of blue flame that seemed to writhe and flow among its formations. In the mountains near Lhair in western Halruaa, dumbfounded priests watched in absolute silence, unable to comprehend the terrible events unfolding on the horizon. What the clerics of Azuth could not possibly fathom was that three score or more similar storms sprang up all across Toril; born instantly upon the assassination of Mystra in her heavenly dominion. Arleenaya Kithmaer and four nearby priests were teleported to safety by a quick-thinking magehound. The nation of Halruaa, however, would suffer horribly that ill-fated night. The three great mountain ranges that oft protected the nation from external invasion actually made it difficult for many Halruaans to escape the uncontrolled wild magic unleashed across the countryside. Halruaa today is best known as a magical wasteland; it is also the birthplace of the roving mercenary bands known as the Five Companies.

The cerulean storm and its aftereffects would become known in later days as the Spellplague. Despite its name, the Spellplague was no mere magical affliction. The Spellplague burned fiercest in its first year, but flareups and indirect repercussions continued for decades, irrevocably altering whole regions while leaving others completely unscathed. Whole countries vanished in earthquakes, fires, and windstorms, inexplicably replaced with peoples and lands from a world beyond our own. Even the starry constellations in the Sea of Night seemingly rearranged themselves in the heavens above. Scholars in later years would name this decade of chaos and upheaval the Wailing Years, or simply the Plague Years. For more details on the Spellplague and the secondary catastrophes that followed in its wake, check out the Countdown to the Realms preview article <u>Magic in the Forgotten Realms</u>.

The Wailing Years
In game terms, the Spellplague represents the definitive event for transitioning the setting from one rules system to the next, and the loss of the Weave will have a profound effect on arcane spellcasters in your campaign. Though a small percentage of mages are driven to madness at the outset of the Spellplague, it's recommended you spare your players from this ignoble fate. Instead, wizards and other arcane spellcasters find that their magic has gone wild or departed altogether. In effect, all of Abeir-Toril is blanketed by a massive zone of wild magic. Refer to the 3rd Edition Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting (page 55) for Table 2 - 1 of Wild Magic Effects. As the Weave unravels throughout the month of Nightal in the Year of Blue Fire, these wild magic zones are quickly replaced with dead magic zones until one day arcane magic ceases to function altogether.

DMs might wish to take advantage of the Wailing Years to run a low magic/melee-centric campaign using rules or concepts from sourcebooks such as Tome of Battle: Book of Nine Swords or Iron Heroes. Otherwise it might be wise to simply move your campaign forward to the Year of Silent Death (1395 DR) or beyond, where direct effects of the Spellplague have largely subsided and most spellcasters have once again gained mastery of their magic. See the section below on the Vilhon Reach for a description of a functioning time portal you might wish to use for this purpose.

Included below is a timeline of key events that occurred during the Wailing Years, which can be useful to a transitional campaign set in the kingdom of Cormyr or the Vilhon Reach. Following the timeline is a brief update of these two regions, including sample adventure hooks.

Timeline

1385 DR (Year of Blue Fire)
The Spellplague: An unthinkable catastrophe ensues when Cyric, aided and abetted by Shar, murders Mystra in Dweomerheart. The plane itself disintegrates at once, destroying Savras and sending the gods Azuth and Velsharoon reeling into the endless Astral Sea. Without Mystra to govern the Weave, magic bursts its bonds all across Toril and the surrounding planes and runs wild. In Faerûn, this event is known as the Spellplague. Thousands of mages are driven insane or destroyed, and the very substance of the world becomes mutable beneath veils of azure fire that dance across the skies by night or by day.
— Where once stood the realm of Sespech, the Golden Plains, and the Nagalands, the Spellplague reveals a surreal landscape breathtaking in its beauty, grandeur, and changeability. For the next century, active Spellplague cavorts on this territory called the Plaguewrought Lands, contorting terrain, natural law, and the flesh of any creature that dares enter.
— Cormyr is struck hard, but not so violently as many other nations. Roughly one third of all Wizards of War are slain, driven mad, or simply have gone missing in the year following Mystra's death.

1386 DR (Year of the Halfling's Lament)
A portion of Toril's sibling world Abeir violently exchanges places with large sections of Chondath and western Chessenta. Displaced genasi from the Abeiran land of Shyr quickly set about creating a kingdom of their own.
— The former expanse of the Sea of Fallen Stars is altered when wide portions of the landscape collapse into the Underdark. When the sea level reaches its new equilibrium, the average drop in water level measured nearly 50 feet. The waters of the Vilhon Reach were similarly drained, uncovering several drowned ruins from ancient Jhaamdath.

1387 DR (Year of the Emerald Ermine)
The Emerald Enclave begins sending agents throughout the Vilhon Wilds to counter the effects of the Spellplague. As years became decades, their original mission is slowly perverted from one of respect for and guardianship of nature to a vain struggle against forces far beyond their control.

1388 DR (Year of the Tanarukka)
Bullywugs tribes from the Farsea Marshes begin harrying Zhentarim forces operating throughout the Tunlands, diminishing Black Network activities in the region.
— Some members of Cormyr's remaining War Wizards, having lost access to the Art, begin cross-training with the Purple Dragons in swordplay and martial defense. In years to come these swordmages will prove invaluable against neighboring aggression in the region.

1389 DR (Year of the Forgiven Foes)
A strangely angular black monolith is sometimes visible breaking above the waves along Cormyr's coast, never in the same place twice.

1390 DR (Year of the Walking Man)
Dowager Dragon Queen, Filfaeril Selazair Obarskyr, dies. Alusair attends the state funeral, argues briefly and privately with her nephew the king, and disappears altogether from Court. Rumors persist of her riding through the frontiers and borderlands, but no confirmed reports of her appearance exist following the burial of Filfaeril.

1391 DR (Year of the Wrathful Eye)
The human druid Zalaznar Crinios, transformed into a mighty treant for his service to nature, takes hold of the druid circle in
Cedarspoke. A lesser druid, able to take lion form and calling himself Firemane, rises to prominence in the same circle.

1392 DR (Year of the Scroll)
The Dragon Coast city of Pros petitions the Crown to become a vassal-state of Cormyr in order to protect it from the ravages of the Spellplague. Azoun V reluctantly accepts. By year's end, Pros' sister-town of Ilipur joins the Forest Kingdom as well. Unfortunately the receding waters of the Sea of Fallen Stars have spelled ruin for these small trading towns.

1393 DR (Year of the Ring)
Sembian investors begin buying up land in the southern Dales. Concerned, Azoun V issues a formal objection to the Dale's Council in Archendale but the King's emissary is rebuffed.
— Spellscarred beings and pilgrims hoping to obtain a spellscar begin journeying to the Plaguewrought Lands in large numbers. They are welcomed in Ormpetarr by the Order of Blue Fire.

1394 DR (Year of Deaths Unmourned)
The Grand Cabal of the Emerald Enclave begins attempting to stem the tide of spellscarred pilgrims that pass through Turmish.
— Years of straining with their conflicted Sembian and Cormyrean identities, and struggling against the rule of Netheril, culminates in the annexation of the border city of Daerlun into the Forest Kingdom.

1395 DR (Year of Silent Death)
Sakkors, the Netherese floating enclave not seen since the days before the Spellplague, makes a reappearance over Daerlun in the dead of night. The following morning civil unrest breaks out throughout the city. Azoun V sends elite swordmages to restore order in the city.

Tone and Feel
One part of creating a new edition of the
Forgotten Realms is re-envisioning the look
of Faerûn and creating a new interpretation of
this classic fantasy setting. We've decided to
shift the visuals of the setting toward a slightly
more fantastic look, drawing inspiration from
many sources ... for example, the exquisite
visuals of artists such as Roger Dean or
Frank Frazetta (without the nudity, it's a PG
game). We sometimes think of this as playing
D&D in a world that looks just a little bit like
the cover of a Yes album. High fantasy
doesn't mean that the Realms are turning into
a magical steampunk setting. Eberron
already has elemental-powered airships and
trains, and that is not the direction set for the
Realms.

Instead, the landscape itself is often
spectacular, striking, and magical. Of course
each region maintains its own distinctive
flavor; Waterdeep isn't adrift on a floating
earthmote, and the Dalelands still have plenty
of farmland and forest - with just a little touch
of the fantastic here and there.


Vilhon Reach
The lands of the Vilhon Reach were affected greatly by the merging of Abeir with Toril. The waters of the Reach itself were partially drained during the Spellplague, revealing several drowned Cities of the Sword from ancient Jhaamdath. The once welcoming and cosmopolitan folk of Turmish have grown increasingly xenophobic throughout the Wailing Years. Akanûl, formerly the lands of Chondath, are now populated by genasi from the Abeiran land of Shyr, a region that will barely survive its first contact with the Abolethic Sovereignty some years later. Since the Year of Blue Fire, civilization has been slow to return to the wilder Spellplague-morphed regions. The notorious Plaguewrought Lands lie close by, contorting terrain, natural law, and the flesh of any creature that dares enter.

The Vilhon Reach is a great example of the new "Tone and Feel" of the setting in action, making it a great region to explore some of the more fantastic locales on Faerûn.

ANDRIO'S GATE: The Reach happens to contain one of Toril's few functioning time gates; a useful tool for bringing characters forward beyond the Wailing Years (1385 DR to 1395 DR) to a more stable time period for campaign play. The time gate is located within Mount Andrus, a volcanic peak within the Orsraun Mountains on Turmish's western frontier. There the time gate has survived millennia despite several volcanic eruptions, shielded from the monstrous heat and the effects of the Spellplague by powerful, and some would say divine, wards. Adrio's Gate is activated by speaking the name of a year as given in the Roll of Years then stepping through the gate's event horizon.

Turmish
Turmish suffered much less than Chondath, but the partial draining of the Sea of Fallen Stars did leave its busy port at Alaghôn high and dry. Today, this realm of increasingly competitive and desperate merchant costers is also a through-route for fanatics on spellscar pilgrimages to the Plaguewrought Lands. The once welcoming and cosmopolitan Turmishans have grown increasingly xenophobic, and they are guarded and suspicious of strangers, even though they remain dependent on outside trade.

North and west of Turmish beyond the Orsraun and Alaoreum Mountains stretches the forested realm of Gulthandor. Gulthandor has no ties with the largely disbanded organization once known as the Emerald Enclave. Ilighôn, once the island home of the Enclave, became part of mainland Turmish when the seas retreated in 1386 DR.

YURGRIM'S DELVE: Alaghôn remains the capital of Turmish; the city's curious architecture is the result of the Chondathan humans building over existing structures left by a previous dwarven civilization. The dwarves also left an abandoned mine -- a maze of subterranean tunnels, vaults, and catacombs that have never been fully explored, or fully rid of monsters -- beneath the city streets. Few entrances to the Undercity remain, but adventurers continue to brave their dark reaches in search of plunder. A few ancient tomes make reference to a lich queen from Unther residing below the palace, yet most discount these accounts as wild tales of fiction.

PRIDE OF FIREMANE: Zalaznar Crinios (NE treant druid 12), has secretly turned away from the teachings of Mielikki to embrace Malar, who "rewarded" the High Druid by transforming him into a treant. Crinios used this transformation as proof he is meant to lead in Gulthandor. Dark creatures now threaten the forest, as well as nearby settlements. Unaware of Crinios's duplicity, a druid who prefers lion form and calls himself Firemane has put out the call for those willing to purge the forest of whatever blight grows at its heart.

Chondath
A portion of Toril's sibling world Abeir violently exchanged places with large sections of Chondath and western Chessenta during the Spellplague. The shattered ruins of cities lie broken at the bottom of ravines or thrust high atop stone spires, a constant draw to adventurers seeking troves of lost gold. The land today is characterized by crazed stone spires, cavernous ravines, and cliffs like petrified waves. Freefloating earthmotes host miniature forests, grasslands, lakes, and ever-replenishing waterfalls that mist the land below in draperies of mist. The wild landscape is perfectly suited to the tempestuous population of genasi that now claim the land as their own. Akanûl is the name of this genasi-ruled realm, and the capital city of Airspur holds the bulk of the nation's population. The waters of the Vilhon Reach were partially drained during the Spellplague, revealing several ruined Cities of the Sword, lost since the last days of Jhaamdath. Travelers to the region are few and far between. The few who travel through this treacherous floodplain return with madness or not at all.

The Chondalwood is a confusion of ravines and floating junglemotes, some sailing free, others webbed to lower jungle regions by thick
vines and vegetation. The Chondalwood's vigor is impressive -- it grew in the Spellplague's wake instead of being diminished or being
erased by it; witness its colonizing junglemotes spreading like airborne seeds north, south, and east, and west. The halflings and
centaurs that once roamed these woods are now gone; replaced with spellscarred satyrs and feral elves who declare blood feud on any
outsider entering the jungle's heartwood.

LESSER OF TWO EVILS: During a violent spring thunderstorm, a strange angular black monolith is spotted in the shallow waters off the Nun Coast near Reth. The following morning, kuo-toa harpooners flying strange winged morkoth attack the port city. The invaders are repelled by High Lady Glorganna and a detachment of Banite guerrillas. It remains unclear what the Abolethic Sovereignty was seeking in the city -- half of which lies in shattered ruin at the bottom of the Bay of Silvanus.

MAGEDOOM: At the center of the Chondalwood is a ruin of ancient, toppled stone towers whose cellars are packed with lost treasures. The elves of Wildhome steer well clear of it, citing terrible bodiless guardian creatures that ravage flesh, inspire madness, and target spellcasters in particular, igniting them like torches.

Plaguewrought Lands
Where once stood the realm of Sespech, the Golden Plains, and the Nagalands, now stands a surreal landscape breathtaking in its beauty, grandeur, and changeability. Active Spellplague still cavorts on this territory, contorting terrain, natural law, and the flesh of any creature that dares enter. Earthmotes aplenty break up the sky in a strange parity with the fractured terrain below. Swaths of moving earth change with mercurial speed, and great ravines empty directly into the Underdark. Artist renditions that capture true glimpses of the place's exquisite loveliness and horrific strangeness can command large sums back in civilized lands.

SCAR PILGRIMAGE: Plaguechanged and pilgrims hoping to obtain a spellscar sometimes journey here because it's the most prominent plagueland in Faerûn, as well as a great hold of the Order of Blue Fire. The stability of the plagueland's border provides an environment where the clever, ambitious, or insane can experiment with the Spellplague and its effects. As with most who brave plaguelands, few pilgrims who enter the Plaguewrought Lands are ever seen again, but those who do return sometimes claim newfound power.

Motes
After the plague of change, some elements of
the physical world have gained a supernatural
independence from certain natural laws. The
most striking of these (to those unfamiliar with
them) are motes. Motes are free-floating bits
of landscape that defy gravity to hover in
place over certain locales (usually, those
locales most affected by the Spellplague).
These motes are usually small in size, but
whole ecosystems cling to them, apparently
sustained by the more natural landscape over
or through which a particular mote floats.

Motes are often referred to according to the
type of landscape each sports. Thus, there
are junglemotes, fungusmotes, cavemotes,
grassmotes, pinemotes, and so on. Larger
motes might support animal life, including
humanoids.


Cormyr
Unlike the lands of the Vilhon Reach, the nation of Cormyr suffered little geological upheaval during the Spellplague Years. Instead the upheaval in the Forest Kingdom was largely political. Famine, economic hardship, and unrest among the peerage would be difficult for any ruling monarch, yet these challenges perhaps weighed more heavily upon the shoulders of young King Azoun V. Claiming the Dragon Throne in the Year of Three Streams Blooded (1384 DR), Azoun had merely thirteen winters behind him at his coronation and only sixteen months on the throne before the Spellplague sent the world spinning into chaos. Thankfully, the king surrounded himself with men and women of wise counsel, including the Caladnei, Mage Royal of Cormyr. Under his rule, the Forest Kingdom quickly recovered from the anarchy of the Wailing Years, and the young king went on to become a just, wise, and long-lived ruler.

The Helmlands
Formed during the Time of Troubles, this desolate land of howling winds and jagged rock was the site of Mystra's destruction at the hands of Helm in the Year of Shadows (1358 DR). In the months following its creation, locals named the site the Pits of Mystra, for the land was nothing but bubbling tar pits as far as the eye could see. Priests dedicated to the new Goddess of Magic cleansed the land of the fetid pits in later years, but the tear in the fabric of the Weave remained. Today a forest of towering redwoods has returned; the original was lost when Mystra's dying energy blasted the land like a million Shou cannons. In the wake of the Spellplague, the Helmlands have grown, spreading along the northern wall of the Stormhorns, stretching as far west as the foothills above Eveningstar. Wild magic still pervades the entire region, but unlike the Plaguewrought Lands, visitors can enter the Helmslands without fear of becoming spellscarred.

TEMPLE ACHERON: Once the blasted ruin of Castle Kilgrave, the imposing stronghold was rebuilt by priests of Bane
following his apparent resurrection in the Year of Wild Magic (1372 DR). As the Lord of Strife himself had done during the Time of Troubles, the strifelords reshaped the ruins into an echo of Bane's Temple of the Suffering in the Barrens of Doom and Despair. Thirty-foot-high walls constructed of a seamless other-worldly material of black laced with green connect the windowless towers on four corners, and on the west side a towering 60-foot obelisk encloses a drawbridge set against the wall. Purple Dragon Knights stationed at Castle Crag patrol the eastern perimeter of the Helmslands daily, keeping a vigilant eye for any threats coming from Temple Acheron.

Farsea Swamp
This slowly growing swamp consists of two formerly separate marshes, Farsea and Tun. The swamp has mile after mile of muddy terrain swept with golden-green tall grasses broken by channels of bronze water. Most citizens of Cormyr see the wetlands as dark, forbidding places, where evil festers and foul creatures lurk in murky water to devour the unwary. While this image is largely true of the deadly Vast Swamp in eastern Cormyr, it is an incomplete and misleading portrayal of the Farsea Swamp.

LEGACY OF THE BATRACHI: Amid the vast, fog-laced expanse of the Farsea Swamp rests the scattered ruins of a vanished civilization, not Netherese as many have speculated. Thick with poisonous insects and plague, few enough have glimpsed these ruins. Ornate buildings made of glass as strong as steel hint at a magical technology lost to the present day. Rumors have it that the bold can claim gold and strange secrets from the half-drowned basements, if they can but survive the swamp's pestilence and withstand the might of strange creatures set as guardians within the interior of the glassteel towers.

Hullack Forest
Dark and foreboding best describes the thick dense woods of the Hullack Forest. The Hullack is almost a primeval forest, with dark valleys and hidden vales that have gone unseen for decades. Ghostly creatures and odd monsters pepper the local folklore, and orcs and goblins are frequent visitors from the Thunder Peaks. In the years immediately preceding the Spellplague, large numbers of adventurers entered the forest seeking to clear it of monsters and explore its deeper regions. Thunderstone, a small town on the southern edge of Hullack Forest, was often used as a base of operations for such expeditions.

These crown-sanctioned activities came to an abrupt end in the Year of the Wrathful Eye (1391 DR) when the Eldreth Veluuthra, a militant group of human-despising elves, claimed the forest as their own. A brief conflict with the elves ensued in the Year of Deaths Unmourned (1394 DR), but young King Azoun V later turned his full attention to more pressing threats from neighboring Netheril and Sembia.

REALM OF WAILING FOG: Sandwiched between the Hullack Forest and the Thunder Peaks, the Realm of Wailing Fog remains a land of desolate fens, ever-present mist, and eerie echoing calls. Even the Eldreth Veluuthra dare not explore the realm's long-ruined towers. Travelers to the region speak of a heavy feeling of "watchfulness" hanging over everything. Rumors persist that a coven of hags lives in the area, but these claims have never been substantiated.

About the Author
A software engineering manager by day and Forgotten Realms aficionado by night, Brian R. James authored the Grand History of the Realms and continues to serve up new Realmslore through D&D Insider and the Candlekeep Compendium. Brian also contributed to the forthcoming 4E Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide to be released later this year. In his spare time he enjoys exploring EverQuest II with his fae shadowknight Iakhovas and pretending he's a good drummer on Rock Band. Brian lives in Montana with his high school sweetheart Toni and their four children.

Brian R. James - Freelance Game Designer

Follow me on Twitter @brianrjames, and please be sure to check out the RED AEGIS Roleplaying Game

Edited by - Brian R. James on 21 Aug 2011 19:31:05

Daviot
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Posted - 28 Feb 2008 :  02:26:04  Show Profile  Visit Daviot's Homepage  Send Daviot an AOL message Send Daviot a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Read it, saved a copy of it to my computer, but am still decidedly mixed about it. Old ruins pop out (and up), the Spellplague does its thing...and Alusair has a disagreement with her nephew/charge and walks off? Huh? 0_o; The first makes sense, the second I can begrudgingly live with (or subvert to my own ends), but the third seems odd to me. However, I will point out that the sectioned and bulleted article has a more eye-friendly format than the last article on the topic—but that's probably the engineer/writer in me talking.

One usually has far more to fear from the soft-spoken wizard with a blade and well-worn boots than from the boisterous one in the ivory tower.
Want more adventure? Into the Dark (PF Beginner Box 2nd level) | The Red Leaves Enigma (3.x/PF 3rd/4th level) | In Iron Clad (3.x/PF 14th lvl)
My Tabletop Writing CV.

Edited by - Daviot on 28 Feb 2008 02:28:59
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imis999
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Posted - 28 Feb 2008 :  04:12:15  Show Profile  Visit imis999's Homepage Send imis999 a Private Message  Reply with Quote
First bit of hope I've felt about all this. The motes still don't make sense, but the rest of it was interesting and made me want more.
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Wooly Rupert
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Posted - 28 Feb 2008 :  05:36:22  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Whimper, they nerfed Nobanion.

I am glad to see that the Sea of Fallen Stars remains, though. Their earlier blurbs made it sound like it was totally drained away.

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Edited by - Wooly Rupert on 28 Feb 2008 05:37:17
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Ranak
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Posted - 28 Feb 2008 :  08:29:41  Show Profile  Visit Ranak's Homepage Send Ranak a Private Message  Reply with Quote
The article was very informative, I liked the bits about the tone of the realms changing from Medieval-Renaissance fantasy to something more contemporary and fantastic in scope. Now that they have spelled this out, their changes seem to make more sense.

I never liked the name Emerald Enclave (it doesn't help that Ebberon has the Emerald Claws, or that the Emerald Enclave is a guild in World of Warcraft).

There was also an interesting reference to a "human turned Eladrin," which implies that Eladrin in the Realms may not fit where people expect them too.

One thing that makes no sense: a time portal? On the upside, it presents an avenue for enterprising parties to go back in time and warn Mystra, creating a parallel universe where she survives.

Edited by - Ranak on 28 Feb 2008 08:30:39
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Chosen of Moradin
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Posted - 28 Feb 2008 :  10:22:57  Show Profile  Visit Chosen of Moradin's Homepage  Click to see Chosen of Moradin's MSN Messenger address Send Chosen of Moradin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Brian...

Now I finally have my heart in the new edition! Your great article catch me, really. Ok, there are things that I like and there are things that I dislike ("shhh, don´t speak this very loud, but you want to know something: There are things that I dislike in all editions of FR, too").

Ahem.

Things that I dislike: the problems with the Vilhon. I´m DMing a good campaign in the Reach right now, and it´s sad to see that one part of the that I love too much will suffer that way.

Things that I like: the evil twist in the Emerald Enclave (well done); the mythical role given to Nobanion (he appears like Aslam, of Narnia Chronicles now - and this is´nt a negative thing to me, in no way ).

Well, the feeling of your article ring something inside me. I will take a careful look in 4th edition Realms, after this.

Ranak, the "human turned eladrin" is not a new thing: Lady Shadowmoon is one of the leaders of the Emerald Enclave (Vilhon Reach sourcebook), and always was a woman turned elf.

And I don´t mind of a time portal. We always have many portals in Faerûn...

Dwarf, DM, husband, and proud of this! :P

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Wooly Rupert
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Posted - 28 Feb 2008 :  14:28:49  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Oh, hey, I just noted that the About the Author blurb refers to -- and links to! -- the Candlekeep Compendium.

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freyar
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Posted - 28 Feb 2008 :  15:22:45  Show Profile  Visit freyar's Homepage Send freyar a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Brian, I have to say that this is very well done, but I still can't shake the feeling that you're really trying to make the best of a bad situation. I guess what really brings it home to me is the "Tone and Feel" sidebar (incidentally, I'm guessing that that was inserted by an editor). It seems to me that what has kept FR the same through the editions is the "tone and feel." While we've had plenty of hints that these were changing for 4e, that sidebar really explicitly confirms that 4e FR aren't really going to be the Realms many of us care about any more.

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Wooly Rupert
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Posted - 28 Feb 2008 :  15:24:11  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Okay, now I've read the article in full, and can comment on it.

Mother of Lurue, the illusion on Selûne is fallen! I never really liked that idea... I'm a Spelljammer fanboy, but there are a lot of problems with the entries for Selûne and Toril in the Realmspace book. In particular, I disliked the whole xenophobic followers of Leira thing. It just didn't really make sense to me, and the question of what happened to the illusion after Leira's death was a major one. Now that Selûne looks inhabitable, it's interesting to wonder what will happen there.

So Halruaa didn't blow up? But one of the previous entries said it detonated... . Quote: "What was once called Halruaa detonated and was destroyed when every inscribed and prepared spell in the nation went off simultaneously. This explosion was partly to blame for destroying the land bridge between Chult and the Shining South—only a scattered archipelago remains." Now that, to me, pretty much states that Halruaa was literally wiped off the map -- not just seriously trashed.

Whoa, the constellations changed, too? This of course brings up one of my original issues with the whole Sellplague: the selectivity of what was affected. We get effects even the gods couldn't pull off, but these effects are in many cases blocked by mortal magic.

I'm a little leery of the idea of a whole nation of genasi... I love the genasi races, but they were really rare before -- now there's a whole nation of them?

Abolethic Sovereignty? The hey?

Tone and feel? Why the hey did they feel the need to change something that was successful for 20+ years?

With the revealing of lost Jhaamdathi cities, I wonder if any udoxias will be found to be still functioning.

The Order of Blue Fire... Sounds interesting. I'd like to see more on these folks.

"Bane following his apparent resurrection" Ooh, so my "Hey, look, I'm Bane!" theory isn't officially ruled out!

I like the runs of the Farsea Swamp being Batrachi (I'm beginning to think Brian has a fondness for those frogfolk! ).

I'm not sure that I like the Hullack Forest being Eldreth Veluuthra territory. Don't get me wrong, I love the Victorious Blade -- I just don't like them annexing part of Cormyr and getting away with it.

Overall, this article has gone a long way towards reassuring me that the 4E Realms won't be a total abomination. This is in no way a statement that I accept such wholesale changes; I still dislike just about everything associated with the Sellplague. But I'm now a little more ready to give the Shattered Realms a shot. It's still not going to replace my Forgotten Realms, but this article does make it somewhat less non-appealing.

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StarBog
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Posted - 28 Feb 2008 :  15:40:28  Show Profile  Visit StarBog's Homepage Send StarBog a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Wooly Rupert


Tone and feel? Why the hey did they feel the need to change something that was successful for 20+ years?



I think they wanted to MMO-ify it. MMO players are their new target market, it seems. The whole new look and feel and the artwork from the Preview books just screams MMOism to me*.

I agree with Rupert however, I am encouraged, but I'm still skeptical.

Best,
Starbog.

*Yes, this is a scientific measurement - you can judge how MMOesque something is by the amount of extraneous, unnecessary and unwieldy spikes on the weapons and armour.
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Hawkins
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Posted - 28 Feb 2008 :  16:23:51  Show Profile  Visit Hawkins's Homepage Send Hawkins a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Thank you for taking a softer approach to presenting the "new" Realms to us Brian, unlike the heavy-handed presentations of others (who will not be named). Damn it! You make it so seductive! Anyways, I enjoyed the article, but will continue in my stance not to make a decision on the 4e Realms until I have a copy of it in my hands in Borders to read through. However, if your and Ed's work is of the caliber that I have come to expect from you, I very well may be swayed.

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Rinonalyrna Fathomlin
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Posted - 28 Feb 2008 :  16:52:16  Show Profile  Visit Rinonalyrna Fathomlin's Homepage Send Rinonalyrna Fathomlin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Here we go again...

No disrespect to the author, but I hate these changes.

I will say, though that the article is information and well-written--useful for those who do like the changes and want to use them (except for the fact that things are mentioned but are as yet unexplained, such as the plot behind the Abolethic Sovereignty). So, it's not a bad article, but there's no way I can say I truly like it.

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Edited by - Rinonalyrna Fathomlin on 28 Feb 2008 16:53:11
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Rinonalyrna Fathomlin
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Posted - 28 Feb 2008 :  16:54:13  Show Profile  Visit Rinonalyrna Fathomlin's Homepage Send Rinonalyrna Fathomlin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Wooly Rupert

Whimper, they nerfed Nobanion.



I don't like how he's "unaligned" now. I always saw him as a force for good.

"Instead of asking why we sleep, it might make sense to ask why we wake. Perchance we live to dream. From that perspective, the sea of troubles we navigate in the workaday world might be the price we pay for admission to another night in the world of dreams."
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Rinonalyrna Fathomlin
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Posted - 28 Feb 2008 :  16:56:30  Show Profile  Visit Rinonalyrna Fathomlin's Homepage Send Rinonalyrna Fathomlin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Ranak

There was also an interesting reference to a "human turned Eladrin," which implies that Eladrin in the Realms may not fit where people expect them too.



I could be wrong, but I had thought Shadowmoon Crystalembers was already an elf (eladrin, by the way, are going to be gold and moon elves in the Realms, based on what Rich has said)?

EDIT: OK, someone above mentioned this was not a new thing. :)

"Instead of asking why we sleep, it might make sense to ask why we wake. Perchance we live to dream. From that perspective, the sea of troubles we navigate in the workaday world might be the price we pay for admission to another night in the world of dreams."
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Edited by - Rinonalyrna Fathomlin on 28 Feb 2008 16:58:35
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Rinonalyrna Fathomlin
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Posted - 28 Feb 2008 :  17:01:13  Show Profile  Visit Rinonalyrna Fathomlin's Homepage Send Rinonalyrna Fathomlin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by freyar
While we've had plenty of hints that these were changing for 4e, that sidebar really explicitly confirms that 4e FR aren't really going to be the Realms many of us care about any more.



Having read the design principles for 4E in Worlds in Monsters, I was not shocked at all by that sidebar--I've realized a while ago (since getting details about the changes) that this is all about conforming the setting to a new design directive (ie. "Make the world fantastic, not mundane"--although I never thought the FR setting was "too mundane").

"Instead of asking why we sleep, it might make sense to ask why we wake. Perchance we live to dream. From that perspective, the sea of troubles we navigate in the workaday world might be the price we pay for admission to another night in the world of dreams."
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ShadezofDis
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Posted - 28 Feb 2008 :  17:05:55  Show Profile  Visit ShadezofDis's Homepage  Send ShadezofDis an AOL message Send ShadezofDis a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Well, first off, on the subject of the time portal, it's been there since at least 2nd ed. You can find it in the Vilhon Reach boxed set, not sure where exactly but under the Turmish section (I think, been a little while)

Overall, well, I can't say I like the changes since I've been running a game in the Reach for a couple of years now so the upheaval isn't something that I can dig on. It sounds like an interesting new take on the region and if I look at it as a new setting, rather than the future of the my games current setting, then I can dig on it.

As for the Emerald Enclave, I've never looked at them as a "good" group, they're firmly in the camp of nature over civilization and most forces of "good" in the Realms are civilization-centric (ie. In other words, most of the protagonists in Realms lore are more pro-civilization than anti-civilization) and the Emerald Enclave has been around since before Ebberon and before WoW, heck, even before the original warcraft, so I've never had a negative association with the name.

I like the idea of Demi-gods in the roll of servitor, but that's mainly because I don't like people writing about gods first hand. With the exarch system it seems easier to distance the game from the gods game, and I'll support anything that makes the gods a bit more mysterious. ;)

Overall, seems like some nifty stuff, not useful for my games but not bad either. :)
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Rinonalyrna Fathomlin
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Posted - 28 Feb 2008 :  17:10:11  Show Profile  Visit Rinonalyrna Fathomlin's Homepage Send Rinonalyrna Fathomlin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Yes, the Emerald Enclave (and the aforementioned Shadowmoon Crystalembers) is nothing new!

All "new" ideas for 4E that I like (motes flying in the air--and again, these were mentioned in Worlds in Monsters, so it's not really a surprise) I could just use in a different setting. Heck, I would say that stuff like motes have always been in the Realms, it's just that now there are lots more of them to make the feel of fantasy more pervasive.

However, as I said before I was already satifised with the tone of the Realms, I didn't need for it to be changed like this.

"Instead of asking why we sleep, it might make sense to ask why we wake. Perchance we live to dream. From that perspective, the sea of troubles we navigate in the workaday world might be the price we pay for admission to another night in the world of dreams."
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ShadezofDis
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Posted - 28 Feb 2008 :  17:14:45  Show Profile  Visit ShadezofDis's Homepage  Send ShadezofDis an AOL message Send ShadezofDis a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Rinonalyrna Fathomlin

quote:
Originally posted by Wooly Rupert

Whimper, they nerfed Nobanion.



I don't like how he's "unaligned" now. I always saw him as a force for good.



I can't find reference to the "unaligned" bit. . . is that lore from elsewhere?

Also, I never really saw Nobanion as a "good" god but then my view on good vs evil in the Realms depends on perspective. I've always had Nobanion as a nature first god and in a lot of cases that means he sanctions "evil" acts (acts designed to keep civilization penned in).
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Rinonalyrna Fathomlin
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Posted - 28 Feb 2008 :  17:27:27  Show Profile  Visit Rinonalyrna Fathomlin's Homepage Send Rinonalyrna Fathomlin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by ShadezofDis


I can't find reference to the "unaligned" bit. . . is that lore from elsewhere?


No,it's right there in the blurb about Nobanion. "Unaligned" in the 4E version of "Neutral", as far as I can tell.

quote:


Lord Firemane, Lord of Gulthandor
Unaligned Exarch of Silvanus

"Instead of asking why we sleep, it might make sense to ask why we wake. Perchance we live to dream. From that perspective, the sea of troubles we navigate in the workaday world might be the price we pay for admission to another night in the world of dreams."
--Richard Greene (letter to Time)

Edited by - Rinonalyrna Fathomlin on 28 Feb 2008 17:28:34
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ShadezofDis
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Posted - 28 Feb 2008 :  17:29:43  Show Profile  Visit ShadezofDis's Homepage  Send ShadezofDis an AOL message Send ShadezofDis a Private Message  Reply with Quote
hahahaha

Damn, I'm good. ;)

Thanks for pointin that out. :)
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Wooly Rupert
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Posted - 28 Feb 2008 :  17:43:09  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by ShadezofDis

quote:
Originally posted by Rinonalyrna Fathomlin

quote:
Originally posted by Wooly Rupert

Whimper, they nerfed Nobanion.



I don't like how he's "unaligned" now. I always saw him as a force for good.



I can't find reference to the "unaligned" bit. . . is that lore from elsewhere?

Also, I never really saw Nobanion as a "good" god but then my view on good vs evil in the Realms depends on perspective. I've always had Nobanion as a nature first god and in a lot of cases that means he sanctions "evil" acts (acts designed to keep civilization penned in).



It's in the sidebar -- "Unaligned Exarch of Silvanus".

Nobanion is a LG deity, and while he does protect his woods, he also strives for nobility among beasts and such. There's nothing that really indicates he would work against civilization, though it must be noted that civilization hasn't really tried to intrude into the Gulthmere Forest. He prolly would oppose civilization if it didn't respect nature, but he wouldn't be evil about it -- this is a guy that emulates Torm and Tyr.

He was also an independent operator, before. He had allies, but no superiors.

My complaint about his nerfing is that the Exarch sidebar specifies that Exarchs are able to be fought by the PCs, and that they're not really deities. Nobanion was a true deity before, and now he's just a powerful, near-deific druid serving Silvanus. So they've chucked established Realmslore out the window -- the new Nobanion has some similarities, but doesn't seem to be much like the original Nobanion.

And if they're nerfing this animal demipower from a true deity to a powerful druid, they'll likely do the same to my fave Realms deity, Lurue.

I actually don't mind him serving Silvanus, but I think that was unnecessary and only happened because of the nerfing.

I don't like the use of the word Exarch, either. I realize it's a viable word, and not a bad usage of it, but it too much reminds me of the Eldar Aspect Warriors of Warhammer 40k. But that's just a minor quibble, compared to this major nerfing.

And I want to make it clear I'm not blaming Brian, too. I'm thinking freyar is right -- this is a skillful spin on some serious drek. That's one of the few reasons I'm going to give the Shattered Realms* a shot -- the whole thing may be an abomination, but Ed and Brian can turn parts of it into something worthwhile.

*My new name for 4E FR, coined when we started getting these previews. It may be a viable setting, but it's not the Forgotten Realms anymore.

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Zanan
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Posted - 28 Feb 2008 :  17:52:23  Show Profile  Visit Zanan's Homepage Send Zanan a Private Message  Reply with Quote
The more articles like this come out on the New Realms, the fiercer the debate becomes. I for one cannot see much (if anything) that endears me to this new gaming world. And the remark that it now looks more like a "Yes cover" than what we know is essentially another nail in the coffin, a nail about the size of a barge-pole.

(BTW, the above has nothing to do with the article's quality as such.)

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ShadezofDis
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Posted - 28 Feb 2008 :  18:38:24  Show Profile  Visit ShadezofDis's Homepage  Send ShadezofDis an AOL message Send ShadezofDis a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Wooly Rupert
Nobanion is a LG deity, and while he does protect his woods, he also strives for nobility among beasts and such. There's nothing that ...



Cut some of that to try and keep things less cluttered. :)

And you're right, Nobanion was a LG deity, though I never really liked that. Seemed far too much "Lions are cool! Since people like them it should be a good guy!", much like, IMO, Malar gets the "Malar is evil! He must do stupid, destructive things against nature because he's evil!". But that's a different story all together, so I'll stop there with that line of thought. ;)

As for the Exarch deal, well, I don't mind it. I think it helps if they take on writing such a character from the first person perspective because, honestly, I don't think I've read a first person perspective of a god that didn't make me vomit a little (though, to be honest, the immaturity and incompetence displayed by Midnight/Mystra, Kelemvor and Cyric in the aftermath of the ToT was, IMO, appropriate but I'm not sure it was intended to be quite so immature and incompetent *g*). Further, I like that there seems to be some hope that the Gods will work through agents, rather than just sending in an avatar anytime they feel like getting something done.

Ok, so that's a lot to hope for and I can't say I have much faith that such is the direction things will go but that's some of the silver that I imagine might be on that big ol cloud. ;)

And I'd also like to throw in my kudos to Brian, it's a good article and looks like it seeks to capture as much Realmslore as possible in the changes (ie. the time portal, Jamdathan ruins, etc). I can't say I like the changes, other then my thoughts that I've already posted, but I think that it'd be a good place to have a game.

Oh, and the whole . . . well. .. umm. . . looks like some of the sidebars are gone. I was gonna comment on the "tone and feel" one but I guess I'll keep that to myself. ;)
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Wooly Rupert
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Posted - 28 Feb 2008 :  19:25:20  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by ShadezofDis

quote:
Originally posted by Wooly Rupert
Nobanion is a LG deity, and while he does protect his woods, he also strives for nobility among beasts and such. There's nothing that ...



Cut some of that to try and keep things less cluttered. :)

And you're right, Nobanion was a LG deity, though I never really liked that. Seemed far too much "Lions are cool! Since people like them it should be a good guy!", much like, IMO, Malar gets the "Malar is evil! He must do stupid, destructive things against nature because he's evil!". But that's a different story all together, so I'll stop there with that line of thought. ;)


That was never the intent of Nobanion; if it was, there would also be wolf, hawk, and tiger gods in the Realms -- because those critters also have a coolness factor that finds its way into a lot of fantasy. Nobanion was more about the nobility of beasts, while Malar (who isn't anti-nature; I'm not sure where that perception came from) embodies the merciless, savage aspect of nature. They are, essentially, flip sides of the same coin.

Nobanion was, in fact, one of Ed's creations:

quote:
Well met again, all. Your Lady Hooded One returns (thank you for that naming, Wooly Rupert!), with Ed’s latest:

Hi, Wooly Rupert. Well, now: Nobanion and Lurue are, of course, the Lion and the Unicorn of British nursery rhyme fame (with all the meanings that go with that, too; they are among other things the supporters of the royal coat of arms for that country, and in many other coats of arms associated with England).

Yet they’re also MUCH more than that. For me, I have to be able to imagine a deity with some awe, and I often do it by attaching to them emotions evoked by other fiction. So, the Lion is also Aslan the Lion in The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis (Christian allegorical fantasy classics soon to appear in a Disney movie that * might * turn out to be okay, and already on film in any number of BBC adaptations down the years, some of them superb). The Narnia books are hated by some, loved by others, but chock-full of little heart-wrenching scenes regardless, and are among the top-selling English-language fiction books of all time.

I didn’t mean my lion-god to BE Aslan, of course; as you saw in that DRAGON article, a lot of names were placeholders at the time, waiting for Mr. Gygax to round out the “official” (Greyhawk) pantheon. Aslan has that name because he has evoke that “awe” for me. The name “Aslan” is Indian in origin (India, not native North American), and the lion is of course a Christian symbol for ‘the King’ from way back, hence its lavish use in royal heraldry.

So “Aslan” went away the moment TSR decided to publish the Realms (mustn’t lift central characters from other authors, even in homage, though I did unwittingly [i.e. I’d forgotten] sneak one direct homage into the Realms [Aglarond, for Tolkien], and beat another well-known fantasy author to a name by coincidence, coining the name “Ashaba” for the river that runs through Shadowdale years before David Eddings used it in his Malloreon books).

Lurue is my own invented name, but it started almost as the deity’s ‘private’ name, with “Silverymoon” being her popular one (and, yes, the city of the same name was originally envisaged as the root and center of her faith). Not only is Lurue the Unicorn of “the Lion and the Unicorn,” she’s also the mysterious, eponymous unicorn from the children’s book THE LITTLE WHITE HORSE by Elizabeth Goudge, AND she’s also meant to evoke the Unicorn of Amber, in Roger Zelazny’s classic Amber books (where the Unicorn inspires awe even among the jaded royal family who use her as their badge). She was always meant to be mysterious, and there’s very little about her that didn’t go into POWERS & PANTHEONS that doesn’t now contradict the published Realms.

Originally, Lurue WAS magic—before Julia Martin added the name “Weave” to my GenCon explanations of ‘the great web of magic that’s everywhere in Toril, binds Toril together, and IS Toril,’ Lurue was the embodiment of the Weave. As such, she could teleport without error or limit, through all barriers and spells, was immune to all known magical [and psionic] effects, could raise dead, heal, regenerate and restore with the touch of her horn—and also spew silver fire from it—and so on. Her very proximity dispels illusions and curses, purifies and neutralizes poisons and taints, and purges diseases. And on and on. [To the usual chorus of “Look, yet another all-powerful Greenwood munchkin!” I reply: Yes. Of course. This is THE all-powerful goddess, and she’s also whimsical. We can’t understand why she does what she does, so she can’t be controlled, or act like any sort of tyrannical munchkin, any more than a mountain range or an ocean can be.] She tended to be as curious as a newborn babe, utterly fearless, and kind to injured creatures. And yes, I tucked in the “patron of virgins, but can also make barren wombs bear” folklore, too. Only virgins could ride her, and those who did got that silver hair the Chosen who are Mystra’s daughters all share, and ‘wild talent’ innate magical abilities, and were marked for special tasks and achievements all their lives.

The TSR designers quite rightly (given the humanocentric core of that version of AD&D, with its level and power limits on non-humans) wanted human gods to be front and center and of the greatest power and importance, so Mystra (most important to intelligent creatures trying to USE magic) became also the Guardian or Mother of the Weave, and Lurue sort of . . . danced sideways. To become the awe-inspiring mystery she is now.

Now, as for the Knights of the Unicorn, I do have more, but dare not pass it on right now for fear of trampling on something another creative person is already working on, in the Realms. That’s one rule I’m going to be very careful not to break, no matter how much we all want to delve into lore and secrets of the Realms. So: sorry, and I hope you’ll understand.



quote:
Originally posted by ShadezofDis

Oh, and the whole . . . well. .. umm. . . looks like some of the sidebars are gone. I was gonna comment on the "tone and feel" one but I guess I'll keep that to myself. ;)



That's odd... They removed the Exarch sidebar. Well, I copied that page for myself, so I still have it.

The tone and feel one remains, though -- at least, for the moment.

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ShadezofDis
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Posted - 28 Feb 2008 :  19:51:22  Show Profile  Visit ShadezofDis's Homepage  Send ShadezofDis an AOL message Send ShadezofDis a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Wooly Rupert
That was never the intent of Nobanion; if it was, there would also be wolf, hawk, and tiger gods in the Realms -- because those critters also have a coolness factor that finds its way into a lot of fantasy. Nobanion was more about the nobility of beasts, while Malar (who isn't anti-nature; I'm not sure where that perception came from) embodies the merciless, savage aspect of nature. They are, essentially, flip sides of the same coin.


The anti-nature aspect is my opinion, based on the Jewel of Turmish novel, where an undead servant of Malar is trying to turn Turmish into a wasteland. It's also partially due to his feud with other nature gods and that he seems more like Yeenoghu than a nature deity. His hatred of elves also sticks in my maw, I could easily see wild elves worshiping the hunter. But that's just my opinion on what I've read about him.

Thanks for Ed's comments on Nobanion, though they are a bit sparse, especially since I haven't read Lewis in . . . I don't even know how long. But I don't really like Ed's vision of him. I mean, if he was an ascendant human then I can dig it, though that causes some problems for me since he's a patron of Wemics, not much though and it could be easily explained in his history.... I guess I'm getting a bit far afield here. ;)

The tone and feel one is back for me, I swear it was gone for a bit, so I'm gonna read that and...

Well. . . yeah . . . that'd make it a bit more difficult to try and envision the economic flow of the Realms and that'd just break my heart. So. . . I dunno. . . I guess it's cool that things will be "striking" or something...


quote:
Originally posted by ShadezofDis

Oh, and the whole . . . well. .. umm. . . looks like some of the sidebars are gone. I was gonna comment on the "tone and feel" one but I guess I'll keep that to myself. ;)



That's odd... They removed the Exarch sidebar. Well, I copied that page for myself, so I still have it.

The tone and feel one remains, though -- at least, for the moment.

Edited by - ShadezofDis on 28 Feb 2008 19:51:48
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Stonwulfe
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Posted - 28 Feb 2008 :  20:50:55  Show Profile  Visit Stonwulfe's Homepage Send Stonwulfe a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Craig takes a long, slow breath. He imagines himself standing outside in an ice fog, at about -45 Farenheit, and watching the heat of his breath turn to snow. For a moment, the imagined sound of burch trees exploding as their sap freezes makes him smile. Then, he tries to imagine this cold extreme cooling the heat radiating away from his forehead and the throbbing vein there exposed.

Before I respond, I would like to repost a sidebar from the aforementioned article. This sidebar created the greatest sense of frustration for me, and therefore I would like to dispense with this first. I have colour-coded the key words which I wish to touch on so that I do not run tangential. I will then follow with my lesser observations.

quote:
The 4th Edition Realms are shifting away from a "Renaissance" feel to a more contemporary higher fantasy environment. If you can imagine playing D&D in a world that looks like the cover of a Yes album, you're getting close. Yeah, I needed to Google it, too. For visuals, go visit www.rogerdean.com.

High fantasy doesn't mean that the Realms are turning into a magical steampunk setting. Eberron already has elemental-powered airships and trains, and that is not the direction set for the Realms. Instead, the landscape itself shall be spectacular, indescribable, striking, and magical.

Of course each region will maintain its own distinctive flavor. We don't think that Waterdeep belongs on a floating earthmote or that the Dalelands needs all its farmland replaced with spiky stone towers, but we want some of that element of the incredible to be a part of almost every piece of the Realms your characters visit.


I have been an avid fan of the Forgotten Realms most of my life. I have been blessed to know the realms as I have, through countless authors and a steadfast central hand. Through all of this, the "Renaissance" feel of the Forgotten Realms has been one of the qualitative features which has drawn me to the setting. There is the romanticism of a commonly imagined 'age gone by', which Ed has succeeded in creating where Greyhawk failed to appeal to me. (Greyhawk reminds me too much of a 'Dark Ages' period - with magic.)

Further, it is the sense of the renaissance that added to the Machiavellian air of villains such as Larloch, Szass Tam, and the in the courts of Cormyr. I have never enjoyed a Machiavel, in the form of the brooding, hand-wringing, evil-doer. The plot, courtly intrigues, and economy of early commodity helped to create a world which is inherently, as you say, "Renaissance".


Contemporary is a very subjective word. Historians, literary experts, and other academics in the general arts frequently consider contemporary as being equivocal with the last four-hundred years, or more specifically post-Renaissance. Political studies specifically considers contemporary to be measured by the rise of modern political philosophy and changing perspectives on nationalism, individuality, law, and ethics. The works of Hobbes, Hegel, Marx, Locke, and Smith come to mind. Do not forget Machiavelli.

Pardon my saying so, but the works of
Roger Dean are not 'contemporary' unless the bar by which you measure is set by your own middle-aged recollections of movies such as Xanadu and, as you so eloquently put it, the cover of a Yes album. This is by no means what many people consider 'contemporary' or even having any correlation where the Realms could have (some may argue should have) headed. Even the Shanarra books by Terry Brooks, as fantastic as they are, are based on a 'plausible future' scenario where great spans of time are explained. Herein, the feel of the Realms is being remoulded from the "Renaissance" to The Never Ending Story in the space of a hundred years.

You use the word indescribable to describe a known quantity that has been, for over twenty years, painfully constructed by dozens of brilliant people under the watchful eye of a common mediating thread (Ed); a setting which has been in part so successful because it is so very describable. It is a complex and incredibly detailed world in which there existed many undeveloped spaces. It is exactly what Ed has called it, a known quantity, in which there have been 'unknown factors' and elements of suspense and into the very fabric of which you are trying to insert the unknown. I would argue that this is akin to taking the American flag, making a maple leaf cut-out in the middle of the stars & stripes, and sewing a Salvador Dali print into the space. (This is what I'm choosing to relate to you; not how I really feel - but a highly censored version of my thoughts.)

As to the 'Element of the Incredible', I find it incredible that no one here has made these observations. Shame.
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