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Alaundo
Head Moderator
Admin

United Kingdom
5562 Posts

Posted - 12 Feb 2004 :  19:23:36  Show Profile  Visit Alaundo's Homepage  Click to see Alaundo's MSN Messenger address Send Alaundo a Private Message  Delete Topic
Well met

This being a collective scroll of any questions the Scribes and visitors of Candlekeep wish to put to a master who needs no introduction, namely - Ed Greenwood, creator of the Forgotten Realms.

Ed's works include many FR sourcebooks and numerous novels, such as Cormyr: A Novel, Spellfire, Silverfall, The Shadows of the Avatar Trilogy and The Elminster Series, to name but a few.

Present your questions herein and check back to see what news may also come forth from the quill of this author.

Alaundo
Candlekeep Forums Head Moderator

Candlekeep - The Library of Forgotten Realms Lore
http://www.candlekeep.com
-- Candlekeep Forum Code of Conduct


An Introduction to Candlekeep - by Ed Greenwood
The Candlekeep Compendium - Tomes of Realmslore penned by Scribes of Candlekeep

Edited by - Alaundo on 01 Jan 2005 11:22:37

Josh Davids
Seeker

57 Posts

Posted - 16 Feb 2004 :  21:26:59  Show Profile  Visit Josh Davids's Homepage Send Josh Davids a Private Message
This will be the first comment I guess and question for Mr.Greenwood but since I know he doesn’t visit here I think hooded one will take the questions to him?

Anyways first thing, I can’t wait for the Knight of Myth Drannor trilogy to come out, in Elminster in hell the tower and the innkeeper’s wife is what stuck in my mind so vividly, just the ping pong effect down the staircase got me laughing so hard. Just wondering who will all be involved in the book, which knights will be the main focus I guess?

Second question is about world building. I have seen people who were in your earlier games talk about the rich detail in the world that you created. I was just wondering a few things. Kinda hard to ask these questions because there are so many but I guess start with the gods. How many did you start with and how much detail did you put in their history? Besides the different cultures and societies in the world the way different religions interact with one another, what region favors which god etc is one of the toughest aspects I have come across to create and make it seem real not just a plastic coating.

Also how much detail did you start with in the world. When I started mine I got up to 100 pages easily but now that I look back at it, seems lifeless as a world needs a lot more detail so started building country/empire by country/empire or even sometimes city by city, is this how you did it? monsters, races and the like it is starting to look like a world that is alive, this I have had the most fun with seeing the potential stories just blossoming in the details of the cities etc but it is also the most time consuming. Also a side question have you ever just wrote an innocuous statement or phrase and later re-read it and saw a story or intriguing plot just erupt from such an innocent sentence?

I was also wondering did you start writing in the realms before you finished creating it, or waited till you filled in the general details and then write?

Sorry for all the questions you have probably been asked countless times before, just some curiosity that will not leave me alone.

Also a hopefully little question, any more plans to write up more stories, even short stories on the Rangers Three?
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The Hooded One
Lady Herald of Realmslore

5036 Posts

Posted - 17 Feb 2004 :  16:05:49  Show Profile  Visit The Hooded One's Homepage Send The Hooded One a Private Message
Well, Ed’s been busy writing these past few days, but I managed to hail him and get a reply:


Hi, Josh. To take things in no particular order:
I have some long-term plans for the Rangers Three but nothing definite. You’ll probably see Sharantyr before the end of the Knights trilogy.
None of the Knights books are finished yet, but I can say the first one begins just before the Knights are actually formed, when Florin Falconhand agrees to undertake a certain task, and gets more than he bargained for.
You won’t have to wait that long, however, to see some comedic scenes: Elminster’s Daughter and the Waterdeep novel will both have their share (though my latest Aglirta book for TOR, The Silent House, is a little darker). I love doing them, and have to restrain myself (before editors restrain me :}) from going overboard in being arch. Realmsplay sessions in the home Realms campaign, thanks to the backgrounds, interests, and humours of my players, have never been far from an element of what the stage sometimes calls ‘British farce.’
Which brings us to world building. I’ve designed or co-designed five major settings now (from a gamer’s view, CASTLEMORN from Fast Forward Entertainment, Inc. will be the next to appear), and doing it more than once has hammered home one thing: for me, it always starts with some vividly-imagined scenes of places. Whether we’re talking crumbling ruins or soaring castles or deep forest glades lit by glowing mists, these will be places that intrigue me, that I want to know more about. So, in my mind’s eye, I walk around them, seeing and smelling and looking behind things.
And then I see people, characters that intrigue me. Why is this woman laughing, and why is there a sword sticking right through her that doesn’t seem to bother her in the slightest? Why is yonder man acting so sly, and chuckling to himself all the time as if he knows something devilishly delightful that the rest of us don’t? What are their secrets, and what are they up to? On a larger scale, what are the conflicts that dominate this land, or region, or world?
My original visions of places largely determine the overall landscape character of that part of the setting, of course (lush green forests, or seacoasts, or deserts, or mountains, or something weirder like floating, moving Roger Dean-style midair “islands” of rock). From that point, there are many ways to world-build, and the published Realms (just because areas have been bolted onto it by others besides myself, and many different folks have stirred their own characters and people into the mix) aren’t necessarily the best example of how to do it. Your questions center on how I started, however, so let’s go back there.
Picture a very young nerd (six and then seven) voraciously reading everything in his father’s den full of books. The shelves in that den hold everything from cutting-edge physics and radar science (my father’s academic pursuits) to lurid “naughty” paperbacks (or what passed for them in the 1930s and 40s). I’m the young reader, and find the fantasy stuff most to my taste. More than that, most of the authors are dead, and even those still alive at the time (such as Tolkien, Moorcock, Leiber, Zelazny, Pratchett, and Bellairs, just to name a few) either haven’t yet published the works that will really make them shine, in my eyes, or aren’t writing fast enough to feed my appetite for “What Happened Next?” to favourite characters. So I start to scribble my own sequels. Most of these, of course, are both horrible and unfinished little pastiches, but that hunger is the root from which the Realms grew.
Eventually, I hit upon the idea of doing what Fritz Leiber was doing with Fafhrd and the Mouser in the pages of FANTASTIC at the time (a magazine later merged with its sister sf publication AMAZING, which TSR acquired and published about two decades later): telling self-contained stories about his main characters that just happen to be episodes in the ongoing lives of these wandering heroes (occasionally featuring old friends or foes they’ve met before), and also just happen to be set in the same world, and add little details of that world, story by story, that a reader who knows about the other stories in the series can pounce on, and fit together with what’s already known, and build into a deeper understanding of the world.
So I start to write stories all set along the same coast (what you now know as the Sword Coast of the Realms), that share the same background. Most of them star the same main character: the fat, wheezing, sly Mirt the Moneylender (take Shakespeare’s Falstaff, and add a dash of Poul Anderson’s Nicolas van Rijn and a handful of Glencannon), who’s crafty as they come but too old and slow for great heroics. In some of the tales, he teams up with Durnan, a “thinking-man’s Conan” (strong silent type who isn’t a barbarian ignorant of the lands he’s journeying through, but who, although sensitive, believes laws and authority are usually oppressive, and to be ignored whenever they get in the way).
The first Realms tale is “One Comes, Unheralded, to Zirta” (Zirta is a city now part of Scornubel), and in it we see Elminster and a lady or two who will later become famous (or infamous, depending on your viewpoint) as members of the Seven Sisters. This tale is written in 1967, and D&D isn’t released until 1974 (1975 to me and most of the wider world), so my fiction writing in the Realms predates the game.
As a result, I was piling details up far more deeply than most published game settings ever acquire, long before there WAS a D&D game (can’t do registered trademark symbols in this primitive e-mail, but please take it as written that they’re here, okay?).
I so admired the release of AD&D (specifically the Players Handbook, which put a Vancian magic system into specific game terms, just as the Monster Manual had already quantified monster specifics) that I turned the Realms into a matching-the-game setting. Regular Realmsplay started in 1978, and longtime Realms fans will notice that the greatest detail in the published Realms is found in places (Waterdeep, Cormyr, the Dales) where longtime adventuring companies (Player Characters) were based.
My players were and are superb actors/roleplayers, and demanded a world that felt real. They always wanted to know what was inside that caravan wagon passing by, and why (which of course forces some world design decisions on the DM, because the cargoes obviously mean that Place X produces an excess of cloth, but needs metals, and Place Y needs that cloth, and so on). As a result, the Realms got literally days (uh, when I was going to school, which would be my “study time”) of me puzzling out economics, trade routes, currents, prevailing winds, floods and droughts, mineral wealth locations, and so on. Again, others have worked in the Realms, so not all of this survives in a coherent manner, and of course it’s never been set forth in a “Trading & Traders” or “Merchants & Money” product, because many gamers would avoid such a product in droves. :}
So that’s the way I did it. DRAGON issue 54 contains my work-in-progress unfolding of a pantheon of gods, and a glance at that article will show you three things at work: like all D&D gamers at the time, I was trying to stay official, matching deities with what Gary Gygax had revealed of his (the Greyhawk setting); I wanted lots of gods (one aspect of the Realms that’s thus far been neglected is the extent to which Jonthun the baker next door worships Chauntea for a good harvest, Tymora for good luck in the baking, Talos for good weather so the grain crops won’t be ruined, and so on, all in the same day); and I wanted lots of small, evil cults so PCs would have lots of evil rituals to disrupt and maidens to rescue off of sinister altars. :} (Another element we haven’t yet properly addressed in print is clergy: exactly what prayers do they prey, what do they wear, what are their taboos, aims in life, and what are the hidden agendas or personal pursuits of the controlling clergy; all of that. We know entirely too much about the gods, and not enough about their churches.)
And yes, Josh, it takes time. Oodles and oodles of time. More than 35 years for me, thus far; the Realms has become my life, taken me all over the world, and changed everything for me.
However, it doesn’t have to start with the planet cooling. Most designers will run out of gas long before they get half the canvas filled in, if they start macro and then zero in. Start small, with a place that grabs you, and build outwards. When you get as far outwards as a cluster of adjacent lands, then step back and look at trade and wars and alliances and power groups. Depending on your purposes (writing a long line of novels or just getting together one night a week to run friends through the latest adventure that’s caught your eye in the pages of DUNGEON, or something in between), that far may be as far as you need to go. Until, of course, your players start demanding all that detail; any good DM will spend about 4 hours of design time for every 1 hour of playing time.
I hope this starts to answer your questions. Just between you and me, I world-build because I love doing it. Anyone who’s tried to make a living from writing will tell you straight that it isn’t because of money, and I matured enough not to want adulation years ago. But to be in the middle of acting the part of a king and to look across the gaming table and see people excited to the point of tears by what the king is saying and doing to their characters, THAT’s wonderful.
Thanks for asking!
Ed Greenwood

…And this is the Hooded One, signing off for now. And that last bit? That’s why I love Ed, and will always try to defend him against idiots who say he copied Elminster from Gandalf or writes Elminster as his sexual-fulfillment alter ego or other such garbage. He’s given such a glorious world to us all, and done it without any of the control-freak fighting that has so often marred the gaming industry (welcoming folks like Bob Salvatore and Elaine Cunningham and so many others to play in his sandbox, and behind the scenes pitching in with guidance and help on so many Realms game products).
And if you see him at GenCon, white beard wagging as he signs this or helps a lost gamer with directions or catches up with old friends, I hope you’ll see him as I do, and think: What a man.

Your servant, the Hooded One
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Hoondatha
Great Reader

USA
2376 Posts

Posted - 17 Feb 2004 :  17:47:21  Show Profile  Visit Hoondatha's Homepage Send Hoondatha a Private Message
Wow. That was both informative and fun to read. Please send him my thanks, even though it wasn't my question he was responding to.

Doggedly converting 3e back to what D&D should be...
Sigh... And now 4e as well.
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Simon Says
Seeker

36 Posts

Posted - 17 Feb 2004 :  18:48:36  Show Profile  Visit Simon Says's Homepage Send Simon Says a Private Message


.................That was just bloody amazing.

And the trees were all kept equal - by hatchet, axe, and saw. --Peart
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SiriusBlack
Great Reader

USA
5517 Posts

Posted - 17 Feb 2004 :  21:32:31  Show Profile  Visit SiriusBlack's Homepage Send SiriusBlack a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by The Hooded One
And if you see him at GenCon, white beard wagging as he signs this or helps a lost gamer with directions or catches up with old friends, I hope you’ll see him as I do, and think: What a man.




I know someone who saw him at a past Gencon. She had nothing but positive things to say and she is not one easily impressed simply because she's a FR fan. A classy, classy person is how I summarize what she related to me about her encounter with Mr. Greenwood.

Thanks The Hooded One for a very descriptive reply.
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Bookwyrm
Great Reader

USA
4740 Posts

Posted - 18 Feb 2004 :  05:16:41  Show Profile  Visit Bookwyrm's Homepage  Click to see Bookwyrm's MSN Messenger address Send Bookwyrm a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Josh Davids

Also a side question have you ever just wrote an innocuous statement or phrase and later re-read it and saw a story or intriguing plot just erupt from such an innocent sentence?



I know this isn't a question for me, but I'd like to say something on that.

This sort of thing happens to me all the time. Mostly it has to do with a need for just "something else" to say. I'm sure this comes into play for Dungeon Masters as well: he or she describes something, feels like something's missing, then makes something up on the spot to round it all out. When you're writing and see it later, this little add-on can pop out at you later, suggestiong possiblilities that never occured to you before.

If I may, I'll quote from one of my own stories:

quote:

“Yeah,” Paul was saying distractedly. He breathed in deeply. “But just smell that air!”

“Smells . . . different.” Cas sniffed it as well.

“No pollution.” Dan breathed in as well.



At that point, I wondered what else they might be smelling. These three have just been wisked away from Earth against their will in an . . . ah, nevermind, not important. (Plus, I don't want to risk that well-travelled staff of the irritated moderator any more than I am already. ) Suffice to say, while the setting looks (and smells) a lot like a normal forest, it's still new, and I wondered if there might be anything else. So, I added:

quote:

“No pollution.” Dan breathed in as well. “And there’s a strange fragrance, too . . . .”



Interestingly, that led into two things. One happened immediately: a discussion of direction. They'd been dropped down without a compass, and as of yet they don't know if the sun's in that position because it's morning or afternoon. One of the characters immediately says the breeze, carrying that sent, is coming from the east. The other two jump on the first, saying there's only a one in four chance of that happening: not only would it depend on the time of day, they don't know where "north" and "south" are anyway, since those are terms that don't make sense without knowing which way the magnetic field is flowing. And besides, the planet might rotate in the opposite direction from Earth.

That's a small example, easily resolved in the course of the plot; based on the movement of the sun over the course of about an hour, they conclude that it's morning and call the direction it appears to be headed in "west."

But what sort of popped at me later was the "strange fragrance." Since they head eastward, they run into the plant: a colorful Hawaiian-like plant that's like a combination of a bush and creeping ivy. The fragrance is its defense, as anyone getting too close -- such as an animal looking for a salad lunch, as one of the characters states -- gets drowsy and falls asleep after a while. My three characters almost met their end like that, because they haven't learned to avoid it (like most animals) or adapted a resistance to it (like a few species, especially one type of bird).

As well, it's shown later that it produces a sap that, once treated properly though a simple distilling process, can be turned into a powerful sleeping potion. It can only be collected on days with a heavy downpour, though, to wash out the airborne version.

And all that from a casual mention of a "strange fragrance"! Thinking of the hows and whys behind even the most casual comment can yield amazing results for the writer and later the reader as well.

Hell hath no fury like all of Candlekeep rising in defense of one of its own.

Download the brickfilm masterpiece by Leftfield Studios! See this page for more.
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Blueblade
Senior Scribe

USA
804 Posts

Posted - 20 Feb 2004 :  03:59:42  Show Profile  Visit Blueblade's Homepage Send Blueblade a Private Message
Mr. Greenwood, just curious : what books are you reading right now? Do you read books for fun? I know you work in a library.
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The Hooded One
Lady Herald of Realmslore

5036 Posts

Posted - 20 Feb 2004 :  04:24:41  Show Profile  Visit The Hooded One's Homepage Send The Hooded One a Private Message
The Hooded One here, with an answer relayed from the Master himself (who just finished winching a neighbour’s tractor up an ice-covered driveway, BTW; it seems Winterkeep is in the throes of an ice storm right now):

Although I have always done some reading for work (a good librarian has a duty to sample a wide cross-section of books, in my opinion: it doesn’t matter if I don’t like Danielle Steel books, I’d better know exactly what they’re like, and the works of Nora Roberts, too, so as to be able to answer patron queries about them), I read voraciously, and always have.
The demands of my writing life have slowed me down somewhat from my carefree youth (when I was in school, three good-sized novels a day was about average, but now I’m lucky if I do a book a day), but I still read tons of stuff, and live in a house groaning under the weight of some 80,000 books. I buy a few thousand more titles a year. So, yes, I read for fun, but I do so seriously. :}
Aside from proofreading my own books and short stories so the errors are mine and not those of the publisher, some books I read in galley form because publishers ask me to “blurb” them (write those little quotes on the back covers that go something like this: “This is the best book I read this morning!”), and some I read in galleys because writer friends are asking for advice or opinions on how to fix something, or if I think they got this or that “right,” and I’m not going to betray any confidences by telling you the books I’m reading right now, because all four of them are of that sort.
However, I can say that in the past week I’ve read the following:
Carrie Bebris: Pride & Prescience (a quick re-read because I’d already enjoyed it in galleys; a superb Jane Austen pastiche mystery)
Lois McMaster Bujold: Paladin of Souls (couldn’t get to this when I received it due to workload, so it had to wait until now)
Robert Devereaux: Santa Steps Out (the only real ‘oldie,’ lent to me by a very kind friend because it’s so pervertedly twisted)
Phil & Kaja Foglio: Girl Genius Book One: Agatha Heterodyne and the Beetleburg Clank (graphic novel; a re-read just for fun)
Guy Gavriel Kay: The Last Light Of The Sun (a very quick read because I’d already gone through it in galleys, not all that long after doing a panel with Guy at Worldcon)
Julian May: Conqueror’s Moon
Patricia A. McKillip: Alphabet of Thorn
Ted Naifeh: Courtney Crumrin and the Night Things Volume 1 (graphic novel; came out a long time ago but I had some fun tracking it down)
Anne Perry: No Graves As Yet
Robert Silverberg, editor: Legends II (a re-read of the George R.R. Martin tale therein for reasons that I’m not at liberty to discuss)
Gene Wolfe: The Knight
. . . And six books I re-read after the Nebula Awards nominations were whittled down to a final ballot, for “sober consideration” voting purposes. Please note that this isn’t a typical week, being as there are NO nonfiction books on the list, no gaming products, only two non-sf and fantasy books (the Bebris and the Perry), and far more than the usual percentage of re-reads.
So know you know what my brain is full of. I don’t mind at all answering this question, but I confess I’m a little puzzled as to why you’d care. If you’re looking for recommendations, all of the books listed above have their good points, and several are superb. But then, with a few exceptions, I believe one can enjoy and glean something useful from almost any book (although I’ll admit that with limited time or funds most of us have to pass over most books we happen to see), and I do a lot of wincing when I read savage crit of this or that book (or worse, generalizations about this or that author) on the Internet or in magazines, or hear the same in libraries and bookstores. Remember to always apply Elminster’s Rule: one reader’s masterpiece is the next reader’s complete waste of trees. :}
Ed

And there you have it. More wisdom from the currently ice-covered creator of the Realms himself.
Your servant,
The Hooded One
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Shadowlord
Master of Realmslore

USA
1298 Posts

Posted - 20 Feb 2004 :  04:45:29  Show Profile  Visit Shadowlord's Homepage  Send Shadowlord an AOL message Send Shadowlord a Private Message
Alas, Mighty Old Mage Elminster (Ed Greenwood), or The Hooded One (Secret Friend of Ed Who's Identity I have yet to discover......)

I am merely curious, do you recieve special privilages from Wizards of the (Sword) Coast because you are THE Realms Creator? I mean, do you recieve FR items before they debut in stores, and do they tell you if anything new is about in the Realms?

Best Wishes,
Shadowlord

The Chosen of Vhaeraun
"Nature is governed by certain immutable rules. By virtue of claw and fang, the lion will always triumph over the goat.Given time, the pounding of the sea will wear away the stone. And when dark elves mingle with the lighter races, the offspring invariably take after the dark parent. It is all much the same. That which is greater shall prevail. Our numbers increase steadily, both through birth and conquest. The dark elves are the dominant race, so ordained by the gods." Ka'Narlist of the Ilythiiri.

Edited by - Shadowlord on 20 Feb 2004 04:48:14
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The Hooded One
Lady Herald of Realmslore

5036 Posts

Posted - 20 Feb 2004 :  17:20:21  Show Profile  Visit The Hooded One's Homepage Send The Hooded One a Private Message
I can answer this one directly, without bothering Ed (snow load tore off one of his eavestroughs last night, and sent it crashing down…so of course, being Ed, he uncovered one of the lawn chairs buried in the snow, made hot chocolate, and went out to watch and see if the NEXT trough along would fall; he didn’t want to miss the crash):

When TSR bought the Realms, the original agreement (which I know about because, as one of his players, I had to sign legal release forms for my characters) included two things that touch on your question: Ed was supposed to receive a copy of everything published about the Realms (by TSR, not necessarily those by outside licenses like computer games), and be consulted and fully informed about forthcoming Realms products (so he wouldn’t contradict or spoil surprises or anything like that by saying the wrong thing in public out of ignorance).
Over the years, this has sometimes been honoured very well . . . and sometimes not. WotC is far more secretive when dealing with non-employees, and I know that Ed buys his own copies of game products (not sure about novels), and often, because there are no local hobby shops anymore and he has to order through bookstores, waits a long time for them. I also know that a lot of WotC staffers and freelance authors working in the Realms keep in close touch with Ed, so I assume they are consulting with him about forthcoming Realms stuff.

The Hooded One
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Shadowlord
Master of Realmslore

USA
1298 Posts

Posted - 20 Feb 2004 :  18:11:18  Show Profile  Visit Shadowlord's Homepage  Send Shadowlord an AOL message Send Shadowlord a Private Message
Thank you for responding, Hooded One. I know, it seems WotC is more secretive AND less friendly to consumers lately, but I won't get started..... (If I did, the only thing that would make me stop would be a silence spell.)

The Chosen of Vhaeraun
"Nature is governed by certain immutable rules. By virtue of claw and fang, the lion will always triumph over the goat.Given time, the pounding of the sea will wear away the stone. And when dark elves mingle with the lighter races, the offspring invariably take after the dark parent. It is all much the same. That which is greater shall prevail. Our numbers increase steadily, both through birth and conquest. The dark elves are the dominant race, so ordained by the gods." Ka'Narlist of the Ilythiiri.
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Dargoth
Great Reader

Australia
4569 Posts

Posted - 21 Feb 2004 :  00:08:37  Show Profile  Visit Dargoth's Homepage Send Dargoth a Private Message
Hey Hooded One Which ones where your characters?

“I am the King of Rome, and above grammar”

Emperor Sigismund

"Its good to be the King!"

Mel Brooks
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Bookwyrm
Great Reader

USA
4740 Posts

Posted - 21 Feb 2004 :  18:51:13  Show Profile  Visit Bookwyrm's Homepage  Click to see Bookwyrm's MSN Messenger address Send Bookwyrm a Private Message
She's already said she won't answer that. And really, why people are persisting in asking her, I simply don't know.

Hell hath no fury like all of Candlekeep rising in defense of one of its own.

Download the brickfilm masterpiece by Leftfield Studios! See this page for more.
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SiriusBlack
Great Reader

USA
5517 Posts

Posted - 22 Feb 2004 :  00:14:05  Show Profile  Visit SiriusBlack's Homepage Send SiriusBlack a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Bookwyrm

She's already said she won't answer that. And really, why people are persisting in asking her, I simply don't know.



Because people love a mystery and want to solve it. Plus, many miss posts that address a subject they are interested in because they are enthusiastic.
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Bookwyrm
Great Reader

USA
4740 Posts

Posted - 22 Feb 2004 :  03:40:56  Show Profile  Visit Bookwyrm's Homepage  Click to see Bookwyrm's MSN Messenger address Send Bookwyrm a Private Message
But if she doesn't want to say, why do people keep asking?

Hell hath no fury like all of Candlekeep rising in defense of one of its own.

Download the brickfilm masterpiece by Leftfield Studios! See this page for more.
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SiriusBlack
Great Reader

USA
5517 Posts

Posted - 22 Feb 2004 :  04:21:46  Show Profile  Visit SiriusBlack's Homepage Send SiriusBlack a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Bookwyrm

But if she doesn't want to say, why do people keep asking?



I think the person asking just didn't know. I hope The Hooded One understands.
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Josh Davids
Seeker

57 Posts

Posted - 22 Feb 2004 :  06:20:43  Show Profile  Visit Josh Davids's Homepage Send Josh Davids a Private Message
Ok just now able to get online for any length of time and wow, just wow who knew those simple questions would blossom into that. One thing I take to heart you will never know the answer if you never ask the question.

Thanks in advance to you Mr.Greenwood and also my thanks mysterious one, aka The Hooded One.

Just wanted to address a few things, 5 complete settings, dear god I will be happy if I just get the one done I am working on before two years time is up that is. That is just amazing, I am surprised you haven’t burned out a few brain cells of creativity yet, just wow.

I got to agree with you on the first places should be vividly imagined. I did that in a round about way, started with just an idea of what I wanted, a setting full of magic and psionics, a dark place full of danger and deep history for the places that still exist, a place full of demons and demonic constructs and the most foul and vile beings to ever se the light or day or in the case of the undead not see the light of day. With that in mind set down some names, as odd as this might sound for some reason I type just a single name, and poof an entire story just erupts in my mind I don’t know what it is, part of my epilepsy or adhd, but I like that side effect. After the name just the scenes unfold, great towering monolithic slabs of stone covered in snaking shadow obscured runes, lit by faint ever burning simmering green fires. Though never tried walking around them in my mind, about the only thing I do I look at a blank wall and imagine the place, might try that and see what becomes of it.

Just all of the information is amazing, I am glad I asked those questions, in truth really nervous when I typed that. Can’t wait for Elminster’s daughter or the knight books.

Though onto the trading thing, in actuality that is one thing I would pick up and devour reading it all in a day I think, the book about who trades what and to whom. That is the one thing I want to get every single detail right in the world. From having wheat, rice, barely, apples etc all grow in the right environment that the cities who trade them reside in. plus it just ads so much more to the stories, I know this might sound odd but I would every so often love to see a story about a war between kingdoms and the lords puzzling over their trade, can they get kingdom A to help out by offering wheat at a cheaper price as well as high grade steel, or get help from Kingdom B if they promise to open up the ports to that city in exchange for the help. I know many readers would fall asleep during something like that, but I guess it is one of the things that intrigues me about story telling. No so much what the hero is doing but what is the guard protecting the ancient tome of ultimate doom and knowledge worrying about, or doing is he secretly dealing with a death occult to hand over the tome in order to be able to afford to feed his family through the hard winter that is quickly approaching so that his family doesn’t join the growing numbers of hungry or the dead from starvation. Besides you won’t have a huge city in the middle of a desert unless there is a good reason, I believe that you got to think about trade before you toss city A onto the map, it helps I guess in the end with building the world.

I am amazed with the gods and pantheon thing, about the prayers etc. that is exactly what I want to set up as well after I finish fleshing out the gods and the divine politics between the gods, the armies of hell and those who serve the divine. Once I know what this or that god or goddess is like and their history then I can start with what is important to them. From doing up the times when they pray, to what holidays are important to that church to the types of prayers, exact wording. What do they say to bless their morning meal, when they sin in the eyes of their god or goddess, when one of their members is hurt or dead, what words do they use to say their thanks or seek guidance or forgiveness or to pray for their spells. I got somewhere between I think 50 gods/goddesses plus angels of importance, demons/devils with cults, and a new type of being called god monsters, er until think of a better name anyways. Basically they are the first creature of a type, such as the first hydra or first dragon or first wolf ever created, to me they would be something more then just a normal creature they would be something grander, a creature of awe inspiring stature. I will be spending the most time one the prayers just to get them right I don’t want to mess up on that at all.

Last December after looking at what I had and trying to think where I was going to go with it, had a lot of time to think during jury duty, the one thing that struck me is now that I have the basic layout of mountains, deserts etc I need to start small and work out, like you said. Since then started with a series of three kingdoms that will house the majority of the stories that are adjacent to one another. Get those fleshed out and then move on to the rest of the world. This involves the trade as well, one of the big story lines in the series of novels is a war started by a trade dispute. Might seem odd of a fantasy story for that but it was started to hide up the activities of a group of beings. Kingdom A is affected by a drought, a break away province of them isn’t. the province promises cheap trade to kingdom B for protection, kingdom A attacks the break away place to try and get food to feed their starving citizens. Kingdom B defends them, meanwhile devilish arch villain is laughing in the shadows as a hundred year long war is started, he secretly does what he wants under the cover of war, no one is the wiser. From those three kingdoms the world will grow and expand as people from other kingdoms comes to make money, mercs, to try and resolve the great war, or just to try to gain land from it.

I got to agree with you on the money thing, I can just see what everyone’s reaction will be to the next statement(hopefully my wife doesn’t see this she would string me up good for saying it) but in truth I would write for free, wave my fee if it would get the books out to a wider audience, I don’t write for money I just write because it is something I like doing. The same thing I do for the weapons I draw. I have an Elfwood gallery that features weapons of all types, some really well drawn my earlier stuff not so. People are amazed when I tell them they can use the drawings as they see fit, no money needed, I do requests for free, even mail them out to people paying for it myself if I have to, just because I like drawing the weapons. I find it fun, relaxing and just a way to stretch my creative muscle. Plus two years going into the marines, that is all the money I need there. The one thing that got me was six or so months ago got an email out of no where from my writing gallery on Elfwood, where I put stories up for people to see and read, a kid who never read a fantasy book in his life happened upon my gallery and started reading the stories of one of my characters. He said I got him hooked on reading, I was blown away not published yet, in fact I still think not good enough just yet, and he liked it and was hooked. Then I proceeded to recommend some authors from you, to Salvatore, to Brooks etc. but that one statement for me was worth ten grand in the bank, that is why I draw, and why I read to draw others into it. even though I might not ever get paid for anything it doesn’t mean I don’t put my heart and soul into everything I do, I guess it is just plain pride of work.

Also Hooded One this is for you. Yeah I got to see Greenwood at GenCon 2002, my first and only time at GenCon as well. I heard rumors that he went there every year, so I decided to go that year. In june of 2002 I was set to have brain surgery to remove a slow growing tumor I had to try and lessen the amount of seizures I was having a day. It is something I wanted done for almost 6 years at that point. Two months before read Elminster in hell, the scene with Torm and Rathan the Zhents and tower stuck in my mind and in fact just before I was do to have the first of two surgeries that scene popped into my mind. Doc asked me what I was chuckling about, after all what doc sees someone laughing who is about to get their skull cut open. Helped to see me through surgery. I got out 12 days later, just three days after having the tumor removed, and I have as yet to have a single seizure since june 4th 2002(went from around 40 a day to 0). Doc warned me against pushing myself but I got to say if I wasn’t so determined to go to GenCon and just meet Ed Greenwood I wouldn’t have recovered as fast as I did, in fact the Doc was surprised I got as good as I did as fast. At GenCon caught west nile(while I was there just thought I caught a cold till I got tested and poof west nile) or from where I lived at the time, don’t know but got hit the hardest while at GenCon with it. made sure I would get to the Spin a yarn. I had two reasons for pushing my mind and body past what I should have to see Mr. Greenwood, one to meet the legend himself I didn’t know f I would ever be able to go to another GenCon in my life so I wasn’t going to waste that opportunity, the second was to see for myself if all the nasty things people say about him is true or totally wrong. I don’t take peoples word, I have to see for myself no matter what. I just wonder if he remembers Jitters the Blink Weasel?

I was not disappointed, he was everything that was good people said about him and nothing bad. In fact that was the first time I had laughed since my surgery as hard as I did. Even got him to sign a drawing of mine, he commented on a work of art, not my best piece ever but those good woods instilled in me a sense to get better. A simple phrase maybe but a kind word from a legend goes a long way. without him wouldn’t have my Elfwood gallery, wouldn’t have some of the drawings used in games, 3d animations, movies, D&D games and the like. I owe him a lot, maybe a personally designed sword or dagger specifically drawn for him if I ever get to meet him one day again in the future. That is why I defend the guy when I can, I owe him a lot and seen first hand he is nothing like the snarky people say he is.

and sorry for the long reply alot to address in this post.

sincerly, Josh
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Bookwyrm
Great Reader

USA
4740 Posts

Posted - 22 Feb 2004 :  06:59:52  Show Profile  Visit Bookwyrm's Homepage  Click to see Bookwyrm's MSN Messenger address Send Bookwyrm a Private Message
Sorry for the long reply? Mr. Davids, you are reading a post from the official Master of Verbose Replies. You've got nothing to worry about.

I agree with you on the feeling inspired by that kid, and I have to say I'm incredibly jealous. However, in a related matter, I looked your name up on Elfwood and didn't find your gallery or stories . . . .

Hell hath no fury like all of Candlekeep rising in defense of one of its own.

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Josh Davids
Seeker

57 Posts

Posted - 22 Feb 2004 :  07:56:48  Show Profile  Visit Josh Davids's Homepage Send Josh Davids a Private Message
ah that is because my full name is used for my gallery, Joshua Doten Davids but usually you can find it by typing Davids. that will pop up with everything that has the word davids in it, from my wife's gallery who is a ton better then i am in the art field. i don't know how candlekeep is about links, if it is ok i can put up a link to the art gallery, which has the link to my stories as well. though none are truely ever finished i got to re-edit them again, ug missed alot when i edit the stuff myself.

sincerly, Josh

ok edit: after checking my email you could just go to the main page, one of my stories just got picked as mod's choice Dornen Nasril chapter one. (insert jaw still hanging open ten minutes laters) this *is* unexpected...

Edited by - Josh Davids on 22 Feb 2004 08:49:27
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Bookwyrm
Great Reader

USA
4740 Posts

Posted - 23 Feb 2004 :  01:04:50  Show Profile  Visit Bookwyrm's Homepage  Click to see Bookwyrm's MSN Messenger address Send Bookwyrm a Private Message
Okay, I found them.

Davids, Joshua Doten: Art
Davids, Joshua Doten: Stories
Davids, L. Ann: Art
Davids, L. Ann: Fan Art
Davids, L. Ann: Stories

These have gone into my page of Bookwyrm's Bookmarks, a website section I hope to release sometime soon. Perhaps I'll let you know what I think of them later. This is hardly the place to do it, anyway.

Hell hath no fury like all of Candlekeep rising in defense of one of its own.

Download the brickfilm masterpiece by Leftfield Studios! See this page for more.
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SiriusBlack
Great Reader

USA
5517 Posts

Posted - 23 Feb 2004 :  03:44:01  Show Profile  Visit SiriusBlack's Homepage Send SiriusBlack a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Bookwyrm

Okay, I found them.



Thank you Bookwyrm for taking the time to find the links and post them. Additionally, thank you to Josh Davids and his wife for sharing their creations.
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Malaug
Seeker

Australia
20 Posts

Posted - 23 Feb 2004 :  13:12:40  Show Profile  Visit Malaug's Homepage Send Malaug a Private Message
I just have a really quick question for Mr. Greenwood. As you can probably tell from my username, I think that the Shadow of the Avatar series is one of the (if not THE) best series in all of the Realms books that I have read (that being all of those already published).

I would just like to know why the Malaugrymn(sp? sorry) were cut from the first editions of the Spellfire book? Surely an arch-enemy of the realms as epic as these guys would have given plenty of Hooks for other realms novel writers?
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The Hooded One
Lady Herald of Realmslore

5036 Posts

Posted - 23 Feb 2004 :  19:23:58  Show Profile  Visit The Hooded One's Homepage Send The Hooded One a Private Message
Josh, I e-sent your reply to Ed, and he remembers you and Jitters fondly. I’m sure you’ve seen the two-part result of this year’s Spin A Yarn With Ed Greenwood seminar on the WotC website.
Ed had these additional comments:

Regarding trade, it’s important to note that any game product covering trade in the Realms or any properly detailed fantasy setting would be a snapshot, out of date the moment it’s published, because a printed book is static, and (in daily detail if not in overall needs and flows) trade is constantly changing. Many fantasy fiction writers seize on the exciting “wheeling and dealing” of trade (the thirteen books by David and Leigh Eddings that include the character of Silk keep delving into his deceptions, swaps, arranged shortages, and so on).
About the gods: there IS a far more minimalist way to handle a pantheon of gods, if you don’t want to go the “force good roleplaying by bewildering the PCs with so many altars that they have think before they charge in slaying, in case this particular altar is of a good god, and the unclad lady lying on it is willingly participating in some renew-the-land fertility ritual or other, NOT being sacrificed or oppressed” route. When CASTLEMORN comes out, glance at the gods I put in there. That way you’ll have time to really detail the rituals, and you can still keep all of the other gods and angel-beings as the “forgotten” or “fallen” deities, with fanatical priests trying to revive cults whenever you need another mysterious altar in play. :}
As to the money thing: most real writers (as opposed to those folks who call grandly themselves “authors” and never seem to actually get around to publishing a book, or more than one book) have the itch to write. We’ll do it no matter what. Just don’t let the IRS ever hear you’re doing it for no money it all, unless you slap the magic phrase “for charity” on the particular writing in question. I’m not scared of the Nazgul, I’m terrified of the taxman. ;}
Yes, one thanks or comment from a reader or a fan is worth a LOT. That’s one of the reasons that unfair, hearsay, and over-personal criticism of writers should never be welcome anywhere on-line or in print. Many people seem to lack the self-control or basic reasoning that allows them to separate taking jabs from writing they don’t like from taking a poke at the person who wrote it (to those of us who write game products or novels that have been heavily edited by others, this sometimes causes bitter hilarity, when some poster is trashing you for words you didn’t even write).
And your thanks means a lot to me. I’ve been very ill (#$%@!! restaurant food) at GenCons, and done seminars when I’d much rather have been sitting on the pot in my hotel room or lying in bed groaning, and I know just how it feels to push yourself because you want to. It makes me feel humble to know you did that, just to see me, and pleased as blazes that you felt inspired. Isn’t it amazing, how we can all get so much pleasure and excitement from something we’re just imagining?
That’s why I love D&D, and I love fantasy writing, and I have have a harem of (oops, wife!) ahem, the adulation of thousands, and kind publishing companies that occasionally toss a few pennies my way, and . . . hmm. I’ll shut up now before I get myself in even MORE trouble.

And that’s my Ed.
Proud to be one of his harem (we’re JOKING folks, joking, got it?),
The Hooded One

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The Hooded One
Lady Herald of Realmslore

5036 Posts

Posted - 23 Feb 2004 :  19:31:00  Show Profile  Visit The Hooded One's Homepage Send The Hooded One a Private Message
Oh, Malaug, you touched one of our collective sore points. Mr. Lowder has summarized the whole comedy of errors surrounding SPELLFIRE very well, so I won’t go into it again here. Let’s just say that editors (not Ed) did the final cutting of both the original and the newer version of Spellfire (which despite what it says on the cover, is SHORTER than the first published version). Over a third of the original book was dropped, and the easiest way to do that quickly was to remove an entire layer of villains throughout. This had many unfortunate consequences, but the two Ed hates the most are these:
1. With the Malaugrym impersonations and manipulations gone, the actions of the Zhentarim become foolish “Keystone Kops” farce, and not the struggles of dupes being pushed into things. How many times down the years have you heard criticism of the Zhents as being bumbling cardboard figures? Not in Ed’s original.
2. With the Malaugrym impersonations and manipulations and a key Knights of Myth Drannor “war council” scene gone, the Knights (with the half-hearted exceptions of Torm and Rathan, and over the anger of Sharantyr) seem to heartlessly abandon Narm and Shandril part way through the book, and even more importantly, so do Elminster and The Simbul. In Ed’s original, El and the Witch-Bitch (sorry, our players’ name for her) ordered the Knights to get back to their neglected other tasks, knowing full well that Torm and Rathan would disobey, and El and The Simbul fought the Malaugrym continuously “over the heads of” the unwitting Narm and Shandril. This was a key part of Ed’s intended message in the book: in the Realms, things are never quite as simple as they seem, and there are plots and surveillance and subplots behind everything and always on the go. Reading many TSR Realms books over the years, it’s my personal opinion that they’re aimed at a young male audience, and there’s a deliberate editorial preference for simple, linear “lots of action” storytelling. Whether that’s “better” or not than other styles and forms of stories is another debate, but I do know that it is at odds with what Ed was originally told by TSR, which was: “Show us your Realms. We’re thinking a book a year at least, showcasing all of your main characters and power groups. Take us through those forests, down those alleys, into those magic user’s towers. You’ve got a world here that’s broader than deeper than any we’ve ever seen; show it to us!”
I KNOW those words were said, because I stood there at an early GenCon and listened to them (coming from Jim Ward and Mike Dobson). That was the GenCon where Ed and Jeff Grubb walked past each other, each wondering if the other was the other, because they’d talked on the phone for a year but never met face-to-face. :}
The ‘why’ of the SPELLFIRE debacle had a lot to do, I believe, with a change in personnel at the Book Department, and a different idea of what Ed’s book should be than the above-quoted words. Which was fine, except that nobody got around to telling Ed this until it was all too late to fix EXCEPT by drastic editing and rewriting. If I recall correctly, one of Mr. Lowder’s first tasks when hired by TSR was to rewrite Ed’s character dialogue throughout the book.
However, over the years, Ed has slowly drifted to the view that trimming the Malaugrym may have been bad for SPELLFIRE, but was good for the Realms, because they are plane-hopping powerhouses (something like the royal family of Amber, in Roger Zelazny’s classic Amber novels), and if fans had concentrated on them like they do the gods (Ed calls it “chasing the power”), we might never have had products like the Volo’s Guides, grounded in the details of everyday life in the Realms.
So, yes, I wince almost as badly as Ed when I read the published version of SPELLFIRE (I got to read the original manuscript because Ed was also told, as he started writing it and we signed our release forms, “Make sure your players are happy with it”). But we’ve all moved on. As Ed put it, “I’ve got SO many other stories I want to tell. Shandril was invented for that novel, and this mania for ‘signature characters’ means I’ve never been able to do a Mirt novel, or a Simbul novel, or an Alustriel book, or--get the idea?”
Oh, yes, and one more thing: “Mr. Greenwood” is Ed’s DAD. Ed is “Ed.” :}
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Blueblade
Senior Scribe

USA
804 Posts

Posted - 24 Feb 2004 :  15:03:56  Show Profile  Visit Blueblade's Homepage Send Blueblade a Private Message
So, Mr. Greenwood (alright, "Ed"), if I want to use your Castlemorn stuff in the Realms, how? Can I just make it another continent?
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