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The Hooded One
Lady Herald of Realmslore

5036 Posts

Posted - 13 Nov 2004 :  15:20:35  Show Profile  Visit The Hooded One's Homepage Send The Hooded One a Private Message
As it happens, Blueblade, I’ve just been e-talking to Ed about pretty much this very thing, so I can give you a swift answer.
Ed has a long, long list of ideas: stories he’d like to tell, interesting questions (“What if the Simbul and Alustriel went after the same guy to be their lover? And he was being manipulated by Shar?”), and topics about the Realms or Aglirta that he knows have been neglected thus far.
However, Ed makes his living writing, these days. Which means he has to sell what he writes. So editors, who buy writing, really make most of the decisions. Ed is in the category of bestselling writers who seldom, if ever, have to write something ‘on spec’ and then try to sell it; he’s almost always accepting an assignment from someone (who tells him length, deadline, tone [for kids/adult, humourous/serious, etc.] and content [put these characters together here, and there has to, ahem, be a cucumber in the story], and only then writing the tale.
When it comes to the Realms, Ed has a large amount of input in discussing what should go into stories, and after an editor approves an outline, is pretty much left alone to tell the story himself. If the result isn’t what the editor wanted, the editor will demand a rewrite, sometimes several, and then of course (because Realms writing is “work-for-hire”) can change literally every line after Ed turns it in. Some Realms writers get heavily line-edited, and some get off lightly. Ed’s in the latter group because he’s a good writer, has a professional attitude (if asked to change something, he usually does without argument), is the world’s reigning expert on the Realms (so it’s hard for an editor to tell him with a straight face that, just to invent some examples, he’s presented Azoun IV wrongly, or misunderstood the nature of nobles in Waterdeep), and by now knows pretty much what WotC editors are looking for, and so delivers it (self-censors, if you will).
So deciding on the plot of a novel begins with: “Hey, Ed, how’d you like to write a novel about X? With Y and Z showing up in it? We need it to . . .”
Ed then replies, “Okay, but remember that X is currently A, so do you want this to be light and humorous? Should Y and Z be . . .”
There’s brief discussion, Ed promises to whip up an outline and send it, the editor suggests changes, agreement is reached, and Ed goes to work. When the editor reads the first draft, they’ll point out plot holes and confusing passages, AND say, “I was looking for more pathos (or whatever) in Chapter Q, so could you . . .?” Out of that comes the second draft, or sometimes just a few-paragraphs e-mailed ‘tweak’ of Chapter Q, and the latest masterpiece is done.
BRW, Ed rarely has less than four novels (and/or major gaming products) on the go at once.
So there you have it. love to all,
THO
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Blueblade
Senior Scribe

USA
804 Posts

Posted - 14 Nov 2004 :  18:54:30  Show Profile  Visit Blueblade's Homepage Send Blueblade a Private Message
Thanks, Hooded Lady. Okay, here’s another quick one: if two of these mysterious editors e-mail or call and leave messages for Ed on the same day, so he comes home and reads or hears them both more or less together, and they both want him to write something now, or first, or for the same deadline, what would he pick?

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The Hooded One
Lady Herald of Realmslore

5036 Posts

Posted - 14 Nov 2004 :  19:12:11  Show Profile  Visit The Hooded One's Homepage Send The Hooded One a Private Message
A good question, Blueblade. I was on the line with Ed when you posted, so here like lightning is his reply:



Every busy person has to deal with lots of tasks and make up priorities, whether they sit down and do it consciously, or admit it, or not. Writers are no different. I usually have about a dozen projects on the go at once, in some sense or another (even if it’s just ideas jotted down that I’ll do more with ‘in an idle moment,’ whatever THAT is), so I very much have to prioritize.
For me, what I’ve promised trumps all. I’m only as good as my word, and if I’ve made a firm promise, formal contract or not, I do everything I can to fulfill it. That’s good business sense as well as my personal creed; there’s no worse pariah in publishing than an author who NEVER makes deadlines. (They call them “DEADlines” for a reason. :} )
Leaving that aside, here’s how I choose.
Realms first. My first love, my greatest creation, the baby I’ve put thirty-seven years of work into thus far, my headspace HOME.
Second, what friends ask me to do. I value my friends, and will drop everything if I can to help out a friend. Yes, it wins brownie points, but that’s not why I do it. I do it because it makes me feel good, like keeping my word, and I don’t want to do writing/designing at all if it’s not going to make me feel good.
Third, something new. A challenge. A very short deadline or a confined format or style are my least favourite challenges, but they make the list. The challenges I love are interesting topics.
Four, everything else. Drafting a constitution for a local ratepayers’ association. Crafting legal agreements and policy statements for a local library board. The necessary but unexciting donkeywork.
And that’s it for me. Pretty simple.
Now, Blueblade, if you were trying to slyly find out what I’m working on right now, halfway through November 2004, my reply must be: four novels and the planning of three more, articles for magazines, columns for websites, eight short stories, three gaming sourcebooks, and two projects that must remain mysterious as of this writing. Plus procedural rules for meetings for that ratepayers’ association, and some “here’s something interesting at your library” columns for a local newspaper. Plus my annual Christmas story to be read aloud at a library in another town, and the annual Spin A Yarn frolic for the WotC website. Oh, and some ticklish correspondence, too. Plus dust-jacket blurbs for books by other writers.
I’m also reviewing two Realms novels right now, and will be writing suggestions/don’t-forget-this notations very soon.



So saith Ed. It’s been said before just how blamed BUSY the man is, and this just demonstrates it again.
love to all,
THO

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RevJest
Learned Scribe

USA
115 Posts

Posted - 14 Nov 2004 :  19:53:32  Show Profile  Visit RevJest's Homepage Send RevJest a Private Message
I wonder what Ed finds more difficult: Remembering Realms lore, or remembering the details of all the non-disclosure agreements he's had to sign?

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."
- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
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SiriusBlack
Great Reader

USA
5517 Posts

Posted - 15 Nov 2004 :  01:25:06  Show Profile  Visit SiriusBlack's Homepage Send SiriusBlack a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by The Hooded One
I’m also reviewing two Realms novels right now, and will be writing suggestions/don’t-forget-this notations very soon.



Which two?

SB who has to try.
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The Hooded One
Lady Herald of Realmslore

5036 Posts

Posted - 15 Nov 2004 :  16:37:32  Show Profile  Visit The Hooded One's Homepage Send The Hooded One a Private Message
Nobly tried, SB.
Ed would say only this:


Well, Sirius, one of them is in your poll, and one isn’t. Both are by staffers or ex-staffers of TSR and WotC, both are largely set in the Heartlands, and both (from what I’ve seen thus far) should be very good reads.


So saith Ed. About whom * I * now know a ‘book secret’ that I’m not going to breathe a word about, yet. Heeheehee (ah, such a mature and urbane reaction; SB, tug my leash, will you? I’m sure Wooly won’t mind, as long as he gets to watch )
love to all,
THO
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SiriusBlack
Great Reader

USA
5517 Posts

Posted - 15 Nov 2004 :  20:24:25  Show Profile  Visit SiriusBlack's Homepage Send SiriusBlack a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by The Hooded One

Nobly tried, SB.
Ed would say only this:



SB bows. Simple and to the point is sometimes best. I'm pleasantly surprised to get a reply. Thank you to EG and yourself.

quote:

Well, Sirius, one of them is in your poll, and one isn’t.



What's that line, curiouser and curiouser?

quote:

Both are by staffers or ex-staffers of TSR and WotC,



Good

quote:

both are largely set in the Heartlands, and both (from what I’ve seen thus far) should be very good reads.



Oh, even better. I love the Heartlands.

quote:

So saith Ed. About whom * I * now know a ‘book secret’ that I’m not going to breathe a word about, yet.



Sigh, and here I thought I was done with teasers after dealing with certain entities for the AACR, Chapter 7.

quote:

[Heeheehee (ah, such a mature and urbane reaction; SB, tug my leash, will you? I’m sure Wooly won’t mind, as long as he gets to watch )



WR a voyeur? No, I would never have guessed.

quote:

love to all,
THO



Happiness until next met,

SB
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Blueblade
Senior Scribe

USA
804 Posts

Posted - 16 Nov 2004 :  14:52:20  Show Profile  Visit Blueblade's Homepage Send Blueblade a Private Message
Another question for Ed:
This Castlemorn setting you wrote, that still hasn't been published yet but will be.
How easy will it be for me to fit it into the Realms?
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The Hooded One
Lady Herald of Realmslore

5036 Posts

Posted - 16 Nov 2004 :  15:26:56  Show Profile  Visit The Hooded One's Homepage Send The Hooded One a Private Message
Hello, all. Blueblade, Ed doth make reply:


Yes, Castlemorn WILL be published (as at least the root sourcebook; as for the rest of the planned product line, we’ll have to see). Think of a long, lumpy potato, surrounded by so-called impenetrable mountains (where many monsters and outlaws dwell) along one side (say, the ‘north’ side). The south side of the potato is a seacoast, and the potato itself is an array of many fascinating kingdoms. The seacoast looks out onto a saltwater bay, created by an arc of breakwater islands, and enclosing a mysterious island shrouded in legends and studded with ruins. The seas outside are ‘trackless,’ and to east and west are cloaked in everpresent mists, strewn with dangerous shoals, and said to contain a city of wizards and some other perils. No sailor can reliably go there and return.
So Castlemorn would work well as part of a continent of Toril distant from Faerun and isolated from it (except by, say, portals). There are differences in the deities, but it’s not as if the Realms hasn’t seen THAT before. :}
Myself, I think the sourcebook (or ANY single tome) is too small to provide the level of detail we’ve managed to build into the published Realms over twenty-five years, so I’m hoping you’ll buy truckloads of the first book so we can do more.


So saith Ed. Who surpriseth me not.
love to all,
THO
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The Blind Ranger
Seeker

USA
15 Posts

Posted - 16 Nov 2004 :  17:36:10  Show Profile  Visit The Blind Ranger's Homepage  Send The Blind Ranger an AOL message Send The Blind Ranger a Private Message
Good Master Greenwood, would you be ever so kind as to poke a hole in the balloon of my stubbornness and let the air of understanding eek out (how's that for allegory?!)...

What sorts of fruit are grown where in Faerûn? I'm mostly interested in the Sword Coast and the North if it helps you to narrow your answer down without devoting over much attention to it (as I know there are many of us vying for your answers here).

Also, is there any significance to Elminster's sigil that you could enlighten us about?

Ever an ally of the Realms,
The Blind Ranger

I see what I need when my sight is not enough.
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Baalster
Seeker

19 Posts

Posted - 16 Nov 2004 :  20:14:04  Show Profile  Visit Baalster's Homepage Send Baalster a Private Message
As a followup to my previous question about the Knights of the North, and with reference to THO's previous response that the area is "crawling with Harpers", would it be ok to assume that the Knights would have gained followers, who also could have ended up Knights themselves?

The current (or at least that's what the books says) members are:
* 7th level cavalier Esterelve
* 12 level magic-user Ildil
* 10 level fighter Jhesentel Fyretalen, noted as having weapon specialization in long bow and bastard sword
* 9 level cleric of Tymora Heldel Thasstan
* 11 level magic-user "Zeldar" Zhuirentel Laughingwater, moon elven female
* 9 male human fighters level 4 or less.

Surely their noble cause would attract followers that can match these in both skills and abilities. Thoughts ?

As usual I am devouring the contents of this thread and enjoying every little bit of it. My thanks to the contributors to this thread. I am sure I have the highest frequency of taps on the Refresh button here ...

Baalster
of Whitehorn


The North is indeed as they say in the Vilhon Reach - a land of "hard, brutal men in leather and furs who swing overhasty swords."
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The Hooded One
Lady Herald of Realmslore

5036 Posts

Posted - 17 Nov 2004 :  14:47:00  Show Profile  Visit The Hooded One's Homepage Send The Hooded One a Private Message
I have a question for The Blind Ranger, relayed from Ed:

. . . “significance” of El’s sigil how? Magical powers? What his being a Chosen does to it? Or is this “why does it take the form it does/is shaped the way it is”?
And (the Big One :}) which sigil? Elminster has two.

BR? Thanks!
love to all,
THO
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The Blind Ranger
Seeker

USA
15 Posts

Posted - 17 Nov 2004 :  18:01:27  Show Profile  Visit The Blind Ranger's Homepage  Send The Blind Ranger an AOL message Send The Blind Ranger a Private Message
Well blow me down!

Let's start with "What being a Chosen does to it?", and "Why does it take the form it does/is shaped the way it is?" etc :)

And then so far as the "big one" is concerned -- I must be blind *snicker* -- I don't think I've been lucky enough to see anything other than the one printed on pg. 4 of the FRCS, how 'bout that one?

Once again, much obliged,
The Blind Ranger

I see what I need when my sight is not enough.
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Foxhelm
Senior Scribe

Canada
592 Posts

Posted - 18 Nov 2004 :  11:32:34  Show Profile  Click to see Foxhelm's MSN Messenger address  Send Foxhelm a Yahoo! Message Send Foxhelm a Private Message
I have a couple of quick questions.

1)Have you every added or altered things in the realms in connection to new evidence in history/legend in this world?

2)If you could travel to the realms (With instant knowledge of one realm language and writting at least, and common knowledge) and you can take only what you could gather from your house...What would you take? Also what would you do once in the realms?

Thanks and I hope I haven't taken up your time.

Ed Greenwood! The Solution... and Cause of all the Realms Problems!
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The Hooded One
Lady Herald of Realmslore

5036 Posts

Posted - 18 Nov 2004 :  15:39:17  Show Profile  Visit The Hooded One's Homepage Send The Hooded One a Private Message
Hello, all. Blind Ranger, Ed tells me the fruit answer is going to take a few days. As for the Elminster’s sigil, his words to thee are thus:



Okay, let’s forget I mentioned two sigils for now, all right? Not because I want to keep secrets, but because transmitting a drawing of ‘the other one’ isn’t going to be easy for me right now, and because it’s a LONG story. I’ll tell it, some day - - just not now.
So we’re left with the crescent moon, horns uppermost, and an oval floating in the ‘bowl’ created by those horns. This is the second sigil Elminster adopted (again, the why is very much part of that long story I referred to; the very short version is that he took this one because Mystra asked him to), he designed it himself, and he chose the crescent moon to echo the symbol of the Harpers (which he’d also designed, earlier) and because it also echoes the sigil of the Srinshee, his first teacher of magic in Myth Drannor, of whom he is very fond. The oval within the crescent symbolizes the ‘Great Watching Eye’ of Mystra, which was one of her favourite manifestations (a semi-tangible form in which she appeared to mortals: a giant floating eye that faded in and out of visibility/prime material plane “existence” and that could vary in apparent size from about nine feet across to about ninety feet across) at that time. (This is of course ‘the first’ Mystra, Elminster’s lover, not her replacement Midnight/Ariel Manx.) Elminster wanted a simple, easily-drawn sigil that pleased his eye, and that meant sweeping elven curves rather than any angular or ‘crossing strokes’ designs.
Thanks to some work Azuth did with Mystra, all of the Chosen of Mystra can use their sigils in some ways that the sigils of ‘just plain wizards’ won’t function unless their ‘owners’ find or create special spells to imbue their sigils with such powers. Such mortals would have to cast one such spell to ‘empower’ each drawn sigil with a particular ability, whereas the Chosen can automatically use the functions I outline below on any drawing THEY HAVE PERSONALLY MADE of their own sigil, no matter where it is in Toril (or rather, Realmspace: in other words, these powers only function when the sigil is in contact with the Weave). These aren’t all of the uses of a sigil, they are merely those Mystra has revealed to her Chosen thus far.
It should be noted that many of the Chosen strongly suspect that Mystra and Azuth can both use their sigils for much greater magical purposes (sending healing through them into the bodies of someone touching such a sigil, sending spells through these sigils into the minds of creatures touching them, either to affect the creature or for the creature to cast as if they had themselves memorized it, and so on). This would explain instances of devout worshippers or servants of Mystra or Azuth touching a sigil in personal emergencies and being healed, rendered invisible or gaseous, enabled to fly, teleported elsewhere, and so on. The deities (but not their Chosen) are also believed to be able to temporarily reshape sigils into writing, so as to send short (or slow, a few words at a time) messages.
As any Chosen of Mystra can, Elminster can use his sigil as a spell focus in the following ways.
Any of his sigils, no matter where the surface (page of a book, tile, or whatever) on which he drew it has been moved (even without his knowledge), are to be considered a known, familiar locale to him for the purposes of his casting clairaudience/clairvoyance ‘through’ the sigil (it becomes the magical sensor of the magic, regardless of distance from him at the time). Such a sigil is also considered a “very familiar” locale, regardless of where it may have been moved to, for the purposes of determining the success of a teleport or teleport object spell.
In the same ‘regardless of distance’ manner, any of his sigils can function as the source (as if the sigil was the caster) for the spells: arcane eye, message, and silent image (remains stationary, anchored at sigil). The arcane eye can move about in the usual manner, or (more often used by Chosen) the sigil itself can function as the sensor.
A sigil drawn directly over the arcane mark placed by another being doesn’t obliberate that mark, but causes it to completely cease functioning until the sigil is removed (this can have implications for the function of a Drawmij’s instant summons or other magics cast by the being who placed the arcane mark).
At will, without casting a spell, a Chosen can cause any of his or her personally-drawn sigils to glow (akin in all respects to a faerie fire spell, with hue and intensity of light governed by the Chosen; the light can be made to pulse or wink in silent communication - - “Two means yes? One means no?”), and this function can work simultaenously with a spell (for example, clairaudience/clairvoyance used by the Chosen). The Chosen can instead cause a sigil to emit a continual flame (cancelling it by will at any time), but this power, though it can ignite things, apparently can’t be made to change colour or pulse.



So saith Ed, who’s just explained quite a few ‘mysterious’ happenings we Knights observed down the years. Hmmm.
love to all,
THO

Edited by - The Hooded One on 18 Nov 2004 15:51:56
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The Blind Ranger
Seeker

USA
15 Posts

Posted - 18 Nov 2004 :  18:03:03  Show Profile  Visit The Blind Ranger's Homepage  Send The Blind Ranger an AOL message Send The Blind Ranger a Private Message
And a great many bows to you, Ed, and to you Lady Hooded One. 'Mysterious' happenings eh? Might you be kind enough to share, dear Hooded One?

The Blind Ranger


I see what I need when my sight is not enough.
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The Hooded One
Lady Herald of Realmslore

5036 Posts

Posted - 19 Nov 2004 :  03:29:54  Show Profile  Visit The Hooded One's Homepage Send The Hooded One a Private Message
Hello, all. Herewith, Ed's reply to Baalster of Whitehorn:



Regarding the Knights of the North, if it suits your own campaign, it would be fine to "assume that the Knights would have gained followers, who also could have ended up Knights themselves."
However, I can make no promises whatsoever that added members will be echoed in official Realmslore, and can in fact say nothing at all regarding the Knights of the North other than to hint that all fans of the Realms may fairly soon know rather more about them.
Gosh, that hint was subtle. :}



So saith Ed, wallowing in sarcasm there at the end. Ah, there's nothing quite like a good wallow in sarcasm.
love to all,
THO
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The Hooded One
Lady Herald of Realmslore

5036 Posts

Posted - 19 Nov 2004 :  15:00:22  Show Profile  Visit The Hooded One's Homepage Send The Hooded One a Private Message
Hello, all. Ed makes answer to Foxhelm:



1. Yes. Many times.
2. I’d bring to the Realms: lots and lots of candy to use in bribery, to get people to do things to aid me. My maps of the Realms. Lots of pencils and a tiny knife to sharpen them with, and notebooks to make LOTS of notes in. And at least three digital cameras with LARGE memories.
The only way I’d get there would be with the aid of Elminster or Laeral, and my “musts” would be to visit Storm in Shadowdale, Alustriel in Silverymoon, Mirt in Waterdeep, and Tessaril Winter in Eveningstar in Cormyr (in that order), to see all of those places (I need a strong escort to take me all around Waterdeep whilst I gawk, enjoying the Moon Sphere, and then get me into a nobles’ revel). (If things ‘went bad’ in Cormyr, I could hide in the Hidden House.) I’d ask El to take me to see the Srinshee, and beg her to show me some of the most beautiful places known to elves. (At least a few moments, under her protection, at the heart of the overgrown-by-forest ruins of Myth Drannor, please!) I’d want to be taken up the Unicorn Run, and - - so on, and on, and on. Believe me, I have a LONG tour list.
I can tour all of these places in my imagination, right now, but it would be good to dine in Storm’s kitchen and really taste the soup, if you know what I mean. Even if the only way to do so was to let Sylune ‘ride’ my body, using it to go and do what she wanted.
And you’re welcome. Don’t worry about taking up my time. This is what I do with my life, quite willingly. It’s like having the whole world come and play with a toy I created. I derive daily enjoyment from finding out new things about the toy, watching people add to it or debate about it, and watching it ‘grow.’ So thank YOU.


So saith Ed. I know the longing he feels, believe me! Sometimes during play sessions I just lie back in the armchair, close my eyes, and let his voice take me there, as he described this or that, and spoke as various NPCs or made noises for the wind, beasts, doors crashing open, knockings, the hooves of horses, and suchlike. That’s always been the great attraction for me: stepping through the door into the Realms, not hacking this or blasting that.
love to all,
THO
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The Hooded One
Lady Herald of Realmslore

5036 Posts

Posted - 20 Nov 2004 :  01:23:58  Show Profile  Visit The Hooded One's Homepage Send The Hooded One a Private Message
Ah, a lull. How nice; perhaps Ed will snatch the chance to get the Spin A Yarn tale done.
Ahem. Hello, all. Ed answers zeathiel:



The armies of Silverymoon have changed in name and organization many times over the years, both as a result of plagues (1150 DR) and various orc hordes, and at the whim of many early Warlords of the city. They changed again after Alustriel became High Mage of the city.
Silverymoon still has a militia, and a Sword-of-Coins (officer who hires mercenary bands for particular missions, such as “scour out that trollhold,” and “drive out any orcs you find betwixt XX and YY on this map”). The Knights in Silver are Silverymoon’s professional standing army of very well armed, trained, and armored mounted cavalry, and are the backbone of the standing military. The ‘Knights in Silver’ name was adopted circa 1349 DR, from a line in the lyrics of a popular-across-the-Sword-Coast-North ballad by the bard Mintiper Moonsilver (before that time, the heavy cavalry of Silverymoon’s paid soldiery was known as ‘the Silvershields,’ and had no formal name at all; both they and their motley fellow warriors (see below) were ‘Soldiers of Silverymoon’ in ‘the Army of Silverymoon.’
The Spellguard (founded in 1255 DR) and the High Guard (palace guards, who also serve as bodyguards for Alustriel, Taern, all city officers, and visiting VIPs) were and are separate units, and so is Silverymoon’s city watch. What has ‘melted away’ over the years (mainly due to combat losses not being replaced) are the outside-the-walls-patrol and training units known as ‘the Steelshields.’ These motley warriors (I describe them as that because of their widely varying weaponry and armor, not as any aspersion on their discipline or quality as a fighting force) dwindled in numbers, until they were quietly folded into the Knights in Silver. So the Knights now serve to patrol the lands around the city (in all directions, at least a three-day-ride out from the walls), and to escort important travellers, garrison encamped visitors and caravans, serve in the Argent Legion on Silverymoon’s behalf, and be ready to sally forth as a strike force against raiding bands of brigands, orcs, trolls, hobgoblins, and suchlike.
The Argent Legion officially came into being in 1371 DR (as reported in THE SILVER MARCHES sourcebook, which also details the Knights in Silver and the Spellguard), when the League of the Silver Marches was proclaimed.



So saith Ed. Who knows the Realms like no other, of course.
love to all,
THO
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Verghityax
Learned Scribe

131 Posts

Posted - 20 Nov 2004 :  18:29:23  Show Profile  Visit Verghityax's Homepage Send Verghityax a Private Message
Dear Ed,
As usually, I've got some questions for You:
1) Are there any chances of You describing any of the places I have listed recently? I'm sorry if it sounded rude or improper but english is not my first language, therefore sometimes I just don't sense this thin border between the way of expressing curiosity and impatience ;) So no offence, please.
2) Could You provide me with any info on recent events concerning the Blacktalons Mercenary Company? And one more thing. In "Gold & Glory" sourcebook it is said that Khosann, the leader of the company, has somehow overthrown the former leader. What was the former leader's name and what were the circumstances of this happening?
3) Could You give some more info on Bloodaxe Mercenary Comapany? Especially about their history, the names of the four living dwarfs that belonged to the company when it was formed and remain with it to this day and how are the Bloodaxes going on nowadays in Sundabar.

Thank Thee for any time sparred on this matter.
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The Hooded One
Lady Herald of Realmslore

5036 Posts

Posted - 21 Nov 2004 :  02:11:41  Show Profile  Visit The Hooded One's Homepage Send The Hooded One a Private Message
Hello, all. Ed doth make ahem, fruitful reply to The Blind Ranger:



It was a design decision from the outset of the published Realms that gamers who didn’t want to learn a world’s worth of invented fruit, vegetables, trees, and metals could stick to what they knew. So you’ll find oranges and blackberries and limes in Realms fiction and gamelore, under their own names. My various Volo’s Guides and more recent WotC website article “My Slice of Silverymoon” give glimpses of Faerunian cuisine, and earlier in this thread I mentioned food of Tantras and Turmish.
There are publishing plans, I’m afraid, that prevent me from providing any exhaustive catalogue of fruits here. Here are some highlights.

The severe climate of the North means very little fresh fruit is available in winter (after freeze-up, when ships stop sailing into Waterdeep and other ports) except in processed (jams, brandies, pickled or honeyed) form. Berries (literally hundreds of different sorts) and apples are the main fruit native to the North. There’s also a savoury (not sweet) fruit native to, and cultivated in, the North known as the sarsae. Sarsae are tough-skinned and hardy, with a mottled green skin that darkens from yellow-white as it ripens, firm yellow-white flesh similar to that of some real-world apples, and an almost cheese-like, but tart, taste. Sarsae are used as we real-world folk would use tomatoes, and vary widely in size depending on how wet the warm growing months are, and how much sun they get (edible, unshrivelled sarsae may be as small as real-world golf balls, or as large as real-world volleyballs, with most of them being about the size of a softball).
One curiosity of the North is ‘firefruit’ (sometimes called ‘amberglows’). These are small, succulent golden berries, very hard-skinned but filled with a semi-liquid as sweet as honey but fruity in flavour, that grow every three or four years on certain mosses and lichens, when these growths flower. Most mosses and lichens never bear such fruit, and only rangers and other experts on the flora of the area are usually able to tell which of the rare sorts of fungi will bear firefruit. When seen, protruding from hair-thin stalks out of the scabrous fungi, they can be eaten with surety, because there’s nothing poisonous or inedible that looks like firefruit.
Another culinary peculiarity of the North are ‘snowberries,’ which grow in profusion in the Fallen Lands and near Glister in the Moonsea North, but can be found everywhere in the Sword Coast North. Heavily grazed by birds and animals of all sorts, these aren’t a single variety of fruit but rather a rangers’ (and Uthgardt barbarians’) classification of many sorts of vines and bushes whose berries remain quite pleasant and edible when frozen - - and so can readily be eaten when found under ice and snow in the howling hearts of winter blizzards.

Many larders in the North, Sword Coast, and Heartlands hold wax-sealed jars of apple and berry jams and jellies, marmalade, pickled whole quinces and lemons (chopped up and used in cooking; almost never eaten whole, and honeyed figs.
Ships bring all of these processed foods (usually in large barrels, with the jarring being done in the ports where the ships unload) from warmer climes, and also bring fresh fruit in season.
One of the most popular such fruit - - popular because it travels so well (resisting rot and bruising, and is little loved by shipboard rats, hence only lightly nibbled), AND because it has such a long growing season, with fruits ripening for use from Flamerule through Marpenoth - - is the tammar, native to Calimshan, the hills around the Lake of Steam, and the Border Kingdoms. Tammar are small, round, hard fruit (about the size of a lacrosse or squash ball). The pink (when unripe) to crimson (when ripe; they go black when overripe) peel or rind is inedible and very hard to ‘knocks,’ but can readily be cut and then peeled (slowly, in a spiral one-layer-after-another tearing open) to reveal firm, chewy pink flesh that tastes something like real-world tangerines or clementines. This flesh is juicy when chewed, but isn’t as ‘wet’ with running juice when revealed as that of tangerines or clementines, and is split into only four segments (more like ‘buds’ of garlic in sturdiness and shape than the many smaller lobes of most real-world citrus fruit).
A lime-like fruit called a ‘quace’ is also abundant in the coastlands of the Shining Sea (in other words, in all the areas the tammar flourishes in plus Lapaliiya and the Tashalar), but is very easily bruised and very strong (acidic) in taste. Except in various bottled sauces, it’s little known in the North.
‘Ockles’ in Waterdeep are oranges from the Shining South coasts (that is, Estagund, Durpar, and thereabouts) that grow in long strings of attached globes, looking more like strands of pearls than fruit. Except for this configuration, they pretty much ARE what we real-world eaters would recognize as oranges.
All over the southern lands, pomegranates grow wild, and are sometimes shipped to the Heartlands and the Sword Coast North when a ship has extra space (they command low prices, but can be picked almost for free throughout the warm lands (the Shaar, of course, excluded); many southerners boil them to make sauces or dyes rather than eating them as fruit). In the Realms, however, the word ‘pomegranate’ is unknown; to folk of Faerun, these are ‘araed’ (as with sarsae, tammar, and quace, singular and plural the same; thus, ‘a basket of araed’ and ‘I ate an araed’ or ‘Cut up two araed’).
The other fruit imported into the Sword Coast lands and Heartlands from late summer to freeze-up (most of them can be kept for some months, if buried under earth or leaf mulch in a cool cellar to keep them from freezing) are melons of various sorts. The most popular three types of melons are ramrath, mritha-fruit, and tlarm-melons.
The ramrath is a reddish, round (volleyball-sized) melon grown in the Tashalar. Its flesh is firm and scarlet, and it can be used as we use watermelons, or sliced and fried (with the rind removed) to make a slab-of-cake-like fruit served on platters topped with desserts (confections of creams and syrups and more decorative fruit). Never say “ramraths,” by the way, unless you really mean to. ‘Ramrath’ is the plural form of the fruit, whereas ‘ramraths’ is a euphemism for human breasts (both female and the large pectorals possessed by fat men).
Many shiploads of mritha-fruit and tlarm-melons are exported from Lundeth. Mritha-fruit are very like apples, but with sweet, acidic citrus-like juices at their hearts. Their skins are pale pink, and grow many reddish streaks and mottlings as they ripen. They can be eaten at any stage from pink to when they become ‘all over red,’ and although their early edibility has nourished many hungry Northerners who eagerly buy them from the first shipcaptains to brave breakup (of the sea-ice), most folk swear by the rich, strong, almost (black) licorice taste they get, from Eleasias on, when fully reddened.
Tlarm-melons are large, oval, green with streaks of darker green (think real-world watermelons in outer size and hue) fruit that have golden-yellow flesh. They taste almost like real-world rhubarb (which, by the way, is also found growing wild in abundance, in the Heartlands), and have very thick white inedible rinds that can be boiled down to make a glue or caulking, and that keep them very well protected against bruising and rotting. Tlarm-melons ripen late (Eleint), but are so numerous then that tlarm-flesh alone could feed almost everyone in the North (though they’d soon be sick of a steady diet of only tlarm, of course) if some way could be found to ship it all. Many farmers along the Shining South coasts gorge themselves on tlarm-melons, fill their cellars with tlarm-preserves, compete with each other to make tlarm soups and stews that taste like something else - - and still have wagonloads of tlarm that they plow under as fertilizer. That’s one of the reasons that the South is where spices are big business (and a wide variety of strong spices are gleamed from local plants).



So saith Ed. Enough to go on, TBR?
love to all,
THO
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The Hooded One
Lady Herald of Realmslore

5036 Posts

Posted - 21 Nov 2004 :  14:55:53  Show Profile  Visit The Hooded One's Homepage Send The Hooded One a Private Message
A serious answer for simontrinity (who probably wasn’t expecting one): Ed’s hardest task is keeping straight details of Realmslore added by other creators, because increasingly (as he ages), such details don’t “stick” in his mind.
NDAs are easy. Err on the side of caution, always, and then when it comes to teaser time, put yourself in the position of what the company would want (easy if you’ve discussed a project with the company staff handling it) and proceed accordingly.
I usually imagine Ed, these days, as an eye winking at me through this or that chink in this ever-rising castle wall of NDAs.
love to all,
THO

Edited by - The Hooded One on 21 Nov 2004 14:58:47
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Blueblade
Senior Scribe

USA
804 Posts

Posted - 22 Nov 2004 :  03:25:29  Show Profile  Visit Blueblade's Homepage Send Blueblade a Private Message
There’s a thread here in the Novels section (up to three pages now) where scribes are gunning fairly heatedly at each other over Ed’s book El in Hell. Has Ed seen it? If not, how about showing it to him and posting his reactions here?
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RevJest
Learned Scribe

USA
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Posted - 22 Nov 2004 :  09:49:29  Show Profile  Visit RevJest's Homepage Send RevJest a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by The Hooded One

A serious answer for simontrinity (who probably wasn’t expecting one)


You're right, I wasn't. :) But the reply was welcome, all the same.

- S

P.S. The Hooded One: http://sennadar.plebian.net/ - Something you might enjoy. The Firestaff and Pyrosian Chronicles books. Excellent fantasy, written by a guy named "Fel" who is making his work available online. I've read well known published stuff that I didn't enjoy as much. Thought you might enjoy it.

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."
- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
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The Hooded One
Lady Herald of Realmslore

5036 Posts

Posted - 22 Nov 2004 :  15:00:03  Show Profile  Visit The Hooded One's Homepage Send The Hooded One a Private Message
Hello, all. Thy Hooded Lady with a response to the Hells thing.
Ed (yes, that guy, the creator of the Realms and of the Nine Hells as D&D-ers know them, as well as the writer who inflicted Elminster In Hell on a bewildered world) speaks:



The Hooded One has sent me the entire text of the thread thus far, and I must say first off that I’m pleased and impressed that scribes feel so passionately about what is, after all, a series of imaginary creations. There’s hope for us all yet! :}

Everyone has the perfect right to hold personal opinions, and I’d be astonished if everyone started to like the same things - - even alarmed: if all the readers in the world shared the same tastes, there’d likely only be one novelist getting published at a time (until burnout and replacement), and it probably wouldn’t be me! ;}

There are no definitive answers about matters planar, so I can’t give any, and in any case don’t want to squash or inhibit debate. Have no fears that ‘the displeasure of the Great God Greenwood’ is going to descend on anyone. (Uh, that’d be my dad in any case, and I doubt he reads these forums.)

I’ve no interest in getting into heated debate with anyone over what is “right” or “wrong.” After all, El in Hell is published (as amended by its editor), so it’s all, in one sense, water under the bridge (or as we longtime Realms toilers inside and outside TSR are wont to say, “we burned that bridge when we were on it, as we always do”) and not worth upsetting anyone over.

However, it’s worth reminding EVERYONE that Realms publications are all ‘work for hire.’ In other words, WotC editors can change every word of text between turnover and publication. Not that they always do, by any means, but it’s important to remember that authors of Realms novels DON’T have an entirely free hand in determining what you read on the page. El in Hell did get edited, both for length and content details, and the ‘mechanics’ of the Nine Hells, its archdevils, and Mystra (and what she could do and did) WERE discussed and agreed-upon. So in one sense, if you don’t like what was portrayed, tough fudge: you can’t change it now, and neither could I then, as I was writing. Don’t like the power level of the Lords of the Nine, as portrayed? Don’t like the absence of Bel? Too bad. I had to stick to what was official, in the same way that an engineer assigned to design a car will probably get fired if he instead designs a childrens’ wading-pool and tries to present it as the finished car. I was given the title “Elminster In Hell,” and the opening situation (Elminster having fallen through the rift, descending into Avernus), and was asked to write it (with the promise that if I didn’t, someone else would be assigned to write the book). I chose to tackle the task. You’ve read or not read the result, and like or dislike it, and I can’t do anything about that. (I must and do thank the scribes, such as Moonharp, who’ve noticed what I’ve been doing with my Realms books.)

What can be of value to everyone interested in running D&D play involving the Nine Hells or writing future Realms fiction ditto is running through some of the specific points of contention. Not to prove anyone right or wrong, but to give a glimpse of the reasoning behind the design decisions.

First, the Nine Hells as portrayed. Simply put, what you see in El in Hell matches not just PGtF, but the 3e Manual of the Planes (the official rules of the D&D game, which I’m bound by as a creator; you can do what you like in your home campaign, but *I* can’t when writing WotC products). Aside from adding the Blood War and making minor urban renewal changes to the Bronze Citadel, everything you read in the Manual of the Planes about Avernus and Nessus is as I originally put them into the D&D game, from the very names of both, to the basic concept of Avernus, unchanged through all editions of the game and game lines, that Avernus was the uppermost and most chaotic (least tightly governed and ordered) layer of Hell, where Tiamat could be found, the outcast archdevils who weren’t Lords of the Nine lurked and schemed, and all manner of non-native-to-the-Hells visiting creatures could be met with, in a tortured landscape of rivers of blood and a generally dry and rocky terrain, with few green growing plants and much dog-eat-dog hunting and battle. When I wrote El in Hell, PGtF hadn’t yet been published, but the Manual of the Planes (which Jeff Grubb had shown me the text of before publication for my suggestions [I was then a paid WotC lore consultant], as he’d done for the first Manual of the Planes) had been, and I was editorially instructed to stick to it in any details of the Nine Hells. “This and only this is official, right now,” were among the words used. I can assure all scribes that many of the details folk have wrangled over in the thread were specifically hashed out, between myself and several games designers (WotC has a revolving-membership triad called the Rules Council that determines what’s official, and again, like it or not, that’s what we creatives are stuck with) as well as fiction editors.

I do take issue with comments in the thread regarding the Nine Hells as being primarily fleshed out in Planescape products. Simply untrue, as any objective examination of my original DRAGON articles will show. In short, I was writing about a place I already “knew.” (Over the years, several editors customarily ‘ran’ all mentions of the Nine Hells that were going to be published in Planescape materials ‘by me’ for my comments, because although I was a freelancer rather than a staffer, I was considered ‘the’ expert on the place, a post grandly titled: “The Crazy Hells Guy” or just “The Crazy as Hell Guy.”) In my opinion, Planescape materials are often (because of the ‘give us funky adventure stuff, and none of the boring stuff’ design philosophy that reigned at the time, and the absence of outlets such as web enhancements for publishing the boring-but-necessary foundation stuff) inferior to some of the root materials they drew on, because when examining them I see precious few balanced ecologies in the Outer Planes. How do devils ever get enough to drink? Where do their droppings go? What causes changes in the weather in the Hells? (And so on.) I provided biological details of the effects of the Styx and the Lethe, but in Plaenescape products, such things were simply tossed aside to make room for the next cool battle encounter. I don’t mind if someone substitutes THEIR preferences for the Styx and the ‘what eats what’ food chains, but as a designer I DO mind when such things are omitted entirely. We were publishing official products, and official products should clear up more rules gaps and controversies than they create. If the excuse for everything is ‘because God X lives there and wants conditions to be that way,’ fine, but then the product should tell me WHY God X prefers those conditions. If some hardy mortals establish dwellings in the Nine Hells, as we're told in the rules they do, what’s it like to live there, day after day (rather than just invading with a band of adventurers on a military expedition)?

We discuss such things. Believe me, we discuss such things. (One of my pet amusements, when visiting the old TSR in Lake Geneva, was lunching at various restaurants in surrounding places like Elkorn, and watching the faces of nearby diners as they overheard some of the things we were saying.)

Here’s some of the reasoning that went into ELMINSTER IN HELL. I decided to use the outcast archdevil Nergal (I borrowed the name from mythological sources of devils’ names, as I did for many of the devils), which I’d created and portrayed as one of the most powerful outcast devils in my DRAGON articles, as my main villain. I’ve said elsewhere why the novel took the shape it did, with most of the battle going on inside Elminster’s head, so I’ll just recap it VERY briefly here: I didn’t think I could do a good full-length novel of devils really being themselves without repeatedly offending against the WotC Code of Conduct. In short, if it was all physical confrontations, we’d very shortly be wallowing in bestiality, rape, devourings alive, grotesque tortures involving fistfuls of gnawing maggots thrust into eyeballs and brains, and so on and on. The editors would then be forced to censor, writing the book would take a lot of extra time that none of us had to spare then, and the result would be a deeply-flawed book unsatisfying to readers who wanted all the gore as well as to everyone else.

Which brings us to plot mechanics. Elmonster began this thread by asking, “Why Mystra had to send Simbul and Halaster to rescue Elm? Why she couldn't have done it herself? Or why couldn't she just give Elminster enough power, so he could slay Nergal himself?”

Let’s dispose of the second question first. As a Chosen of Mystra, Elminster has a degree of independence from Mystra. He can WILLINGLY agree to accept augmentation of his power, IF she can reach him to give some, but he’s darn near the limits of his mortal frame right now, something I spent an entire book exploring (the 1995 Realms novel SHADOWS OF DOOM). To give him ‘enough’ to hand their horns back to archdevils and legions of lesser devils would simply have destroyed him; to give Elminster much more than he has now, in the physical twilight of his years, would render him magically near-helpless, as it did in Shadows.

That brings us back to Elmonster’s first question: why Mystra had to use proxies rather than doing the rescue herself. Which also brings on board The Simbul’s (the scribe, not my character :} ) comments on plot, and Shemmy’s dissatisfaction at not seeing Mystra “get her head handed to her.” That comment of Shemmy’s frankly puzzles me, because she DOES get her head handed to her, very swiftly: as she slaughters many, many lesser devils, the various warring devils all over the plane notice this and start to gather against her - - and she’s promptly forced to flee.

One side note on this: no, even if Bel did exist in this conception of the Hells, he could never have been “moving the plane itself to smack” anyone around: by the very nature of Avernus, it’s the most weakly-ruled of the layers, NOT under the absolute dominion of anyone. It has to be that way, or all of the outcast devils would have disappeared long ago (eliminated by any absolute planar ruler). Moreover, Bel would be the most powerful Lord of the Nine, not the least, because he would capture all visitors to Hell and be able to use them against his fellow Lords. Believe me, designers have discussed this over and over, down the years. No one wanted a static Hell, and the basic D&D game concept won’t permit it. Remember the 1st Edition Players Handbook with its full-page illo of ‘A Paladin In Hell’? Such forays would never occur if the entire resources of the plane can swfitly be mustered to flatten any intruder - - and the same rule governs all Planescape material; any plane, no matter how inhospitable, must permit adventurers to intrude and have survival time therein to do things.

Nor is there really an “infinite” number of devils, as was discussed in the thread; repeatedly designers have agreed that by that hyperbole they really mean ‘effectively infinite from the viewpoint of a single mortal entity,’ because no matter how powerful, a mortal entity can’t kill or conquer ’em fast enough to keep pace with reinforcements arriving to defy that mortal. The Blood War is endless (in the aligned planes concept; check out BEYOND COUNTLESS DOORWAYS from Monte Cook and friends for a non-aligned planar view) because new fiends are constantly being generated from souls.

We all have our own mental concepts of what particular deities can and can’t do. Shemmy thought I portrayed Mystra as far too powerful, whereas The Simbul holds the opinion that I ‘played her stupid’ to make the plot work (she had no need to enter the Nine Hells at all). Well, as the creator of Mystra, I have an opinion too. ;}

First of all, let’s dispose of the idea that a hellbound Elminster can freely contact Mystra at will. One of the established limits on Mystra’s power is that she’s ‘blind’ to her Chosen if they desire it. Another is that Mystra’s power extends only so far as the Weave does.
Within Realmspace, Mystra is the most powerful deity of all (excepting Ao), or would be if Ao hadn’t limited her power by vesting some of it in her Chosen (to prevent utter chaos ensuing if Mystra went mad, or just on a whim decided to trash things, drifted into tyranny [absolute power corrupts absolutely], or somehow [as happened in the Avatar trilogy] became the captive of another entity). On Toril, Mystra and Chauntea are the most powerful deities: Chauntea IS the land and all of its natural processes (as opposed to partial aspects of them, such as storms or the emotions and deeds of sentient inhabitants of the planet), and Mystra embodies the Weave, which can (roughly) be defined as the natural forces, and energy flows and cycles, of planetary life (the Shadow Weave being the ‘dark’ or return flows of the cycle). To use a slightly clumsy real-world analogy, Mystra is the brain observing and in small ways controlling the heart, the Weave is the heart and the arteries, and the Shadow Weave is the veins.

Mystra can certainly sense the opening of a rift between Realmspace and elsewhere. In some cases, entities close to a rift can see through it and even fire missile weapons or cast spells through it, but this is seldom reliable activity; in almost all cases, mortal or divine, one is working “into” rather than “through” the rift. So Mystra in most cases can’t “look through the rift” and determine anything at all about Elminster’s whereabouts or situation when he’s in the Nine Hells.

The rift Troy posited and that I inherited (like any planar rift) causes a violent collision between, and a roiling mixing of, the energy flows of Toril and Avernus. Wild magic will be everpresent, and so will a natural tendency for the fabrics of both planes to try to knit themselves together again, sealing the breech (usually after a lot of stuff has leaked through). This process was what Elminster was trying to aid by casting spells at the breech: he knew they would be twisted by the planar fabric and their raw energy used to aid the closure of the rift. Again, I’m speaking now of what designers have discussed and agreed upon, over the years. If you cleave to a different view, be aware that the implications of disagreeing with ‘self-sealing’ is that there will be no stable planes anywhere - - INCLUDING any Prime Material Plane setting. Everything will be like those old Doctor Strange comics where the landscape is a crazy-quilt of everchanging hues and forces, with no consistent rules of magic or physics or life cycles. Not a landscape most gamers would want to try to adventure in - - or, if it’s run properly, would their characters be able to survive it for long.

To Mystra, trying to ‘see through’ the rift and determine anything at all about Elminster after he’s been sucked through it, would be akin to (clumsy real-world analogy time again) staring into the high-beam headlights of an approaching vehicle of unfamiliar make on a rainy night and trying to identify just who is sitting in the back seat of that conveyance.

Elminster isn’t calling on the Weave of Toril to power his spells once he’s in the Nine Hells. Like every mortal spellcaster or wielder of a magic item, he’s calling on tiny amounts of borrowed power of the Weave stored within himself (or within an item) to work their specified magical effects, until they ‘run out.’ As a Chosen, Elminster DOES carry a tiny ‘cycle of the Weave’ within himself, yes, and it’s spending some of that to send it drifting back through the planes of existence to rejoin the parent Weave that carries his ‘calling to Mystra that he needs help’ message. He can’t tell her where he is or what’s happening to him, he can only alert her to his desperate need for aid. This process works far more speedily if the entity you’re trying to reach ‘thinks of you’ and thus attunes their attention to your slow, very faint call (hence the scenes of various Chosen puzzling over sudden thoughts of Elminster). Aside: if a mortal wizard studies to regain spells, or a sorcerer regains magical energies, while in Avernus or any other Outer Planes, he or she is in effect calling on the ‘Weave’ of that plane rather than that of their home plane. The spells they gain may have subtle differences, both when cast on the Outer Plane and if carried back to their home plane and cast there.

When Mystra does become aware of Elminster’s need, she tries to find him by homing in on that part of the Weave he holds (again, something well established in Realmslore that he or any other Chosen can hide from Mystra if they want to; of course, Elminster in this situation very much doesn’t want to). Mystra is aware that he’s in great danger and so is the power he holds, that could be ‘tainted’ by an archdevil and therefore permanently lost to her, or return to her bringing an insidious diabolical influence with it that she can’t eradicate (which would be a fatal weakness when archdevils detect it, and become aware that they can influence her, and thus the Weave, and thus all life in Realmspace, in this manner). She’s also aware that by entering the Hells she’s putting herself in great danger, but she believes the danger to herself will be less if the rescue is accomplished very swiftly. She believes she is the only being with enough power to accomplish that, and servitors can’t hope to do anything except fail. So she acts. (The ‘why don’t you send Azuth?’ question is answered by the old American ‘you don’t risk the President and the Vice-President by putting them on the same airplane’ thinking: if you consider the safety of magic in Realmspace first, you as Mystra CAN’T send Azuth.)

So Mystra, admittedly an inexperienced replacement in her portfolio (I’ll get to The Simbul’s arguments on that topic later), and influenced by her inherited-from-her-predecessor fierce fondness for El (that drives her to get to him FAST because he needs her) and by her own ‘I feel lost without the guidance of the old goat’ feelings, enters Hell. Mystra’s presence in Avernus, by the very nature of WHAT she is, is an attempt to bring the Weave into the Nine Hells. She has the personal power to do so, but as the Weave of Realmspace clashes with the natural cycles of Baator, the roiling causes the opening of many rifts, through which some of Toril ‘leaks’ into the Hells, and some of the Hells (read: lots and lots of unwanted devils) ‘leaks’ into Toril (Realmspace, really, but the contact point is Toril itself). The longer Mystra stays, the more this will go on, and the more the Realms are endangered. At the same time, Nergal is in Elminster’s mind and Elminster is in Nergal’s (SPOILER note: El of course defeats Nergal in the end because Nergal has seized so many of El’s memories that his force of will is weakened by the vulnerabilities and human qualities El’s memories carry), and Mystra realizes she has to be very careful what she does - - and that she lacks the experience and time to do the task properly. DDH_101 picked up on this and commented on it.

So Mystra retreats, knowing she needs The Simbul (who loves Elminster and will, yes, go through Hell for him :} and who’s one of the most clear-headed, ruthless, accomplished fighters-with-magic Mystra knows) to at least buy time for her to properly rescue Elminster. She needs to deflect the arousal and involvement of the one other Lord of the Nine who will care enough to get involved so long as Elminster and the attempt to rescue him is confined to Avernus: Asmodeus. (The other Lords of the Nine are charged to defend their own layers of Hell; watching Avernus get torn apart is little more than free entertainment for them, unless Mystra’s invading forces go deeper.) Calling on her inherited memories of what befell Elminster in SHADOWS OF DOOM and many other titanic contests of magic, she seizes upon Halaster’s insanity as the ‘subtle blade’ that might well affect Asmodeus just long enough to snatch Elminster out of the Nine Hells.

The Simbul put together a very amusing ‘short version’ of El in Hell, showing how Mystra needn’t ever have left Dweomerheart to rescue Elminster, and none of the events in ELMINSTER IN HELL needed to happen. Well, to quote two old saws: “There’s many a slip ’twixt cup and lip,” and “No battle plan ever survived engagement with the enemy.”

Mystra’s 18-mile-range sensing/remote communications hold true WITHIN THE WEAVE, not in Avernus, where the Weave is more like an aura folded tightly around her. She knows El is somewhere in Hell and goes there hoping she can then ‘see’ him readily, yes. She can ‘feel’ that he’s close, on Avernus, but can’t immediately and infallibly use her remote sensing, because not only is she under attack by clouds of devils, the Weave isn’t operating reliably except very close around her.

Certainly she can work magics to try to snatch Elminster elsewhere - - except she dare not expose herself to Nergal (who’s apparently winning the El/Nergal mental battle) in doing so, and thanks to the Weave-link between herself and her Chosen, that’s what she’ll be doing no matter how careful she is with that Miracle spell. She can’t depend on the reliability of the Weave (and therefore of her Alter Reality/Miracle), remember, and can feel this as she’s fighting. If she sat in Dweomerheart and tried to just ‘reach in’ to the Nine Hells and work all of this from afar, she’d feel that unreliability instantly, too.

Again, this is something designers have discussed many times, down the years, and come to various agreements on that share this similarity: ‘home ground’ (being on your own plane) brings an advantage. It has to be this way, or we’d have no books full of glorious planes and sizzling gods to sell you: the fastest divine gunslinger would have wiped out everyone else long ago (reaching into random planes and using their “irresistable” divine abilities on other deities before said deities could do the same to them), leaving us planes of uninhabited, desolate death for us to describe, and one absolute god, a.k.a. Last God Standing (hence, no free will, and no opportunities for adventure: we’d all just be robots carrying out our little part in a script, unable to even contemplate breaking free to do anything else).

I’m not going to discuss the ‘Halaster factor’ affecting Asmodeus in any detail due to NDA prohibitions (no, SiriusB, please don’t ask :} ), but let’s wrap up the healing of Elminster and then turn to ‘Mystra as naive dummy.’

Yes (ignoring Shar’s little bid in the interests of not putting everyone to sleep whilst I drone on and on), of COURSE Mystra could magically heal Elminster and whisk him home. What she can’t do is tinker with his mind (well-established-in-Realmslore separation between the Chosen and Mystra again, something I put there deliberately to keep the Chosen from becoming ‘angels’ or anything akin to angels), so she needs someone who loves him and will ‘guide him in healing himself’ by taking him to see the right places and people to let him self-heal. The old Mystra had that love, but the new one wants El as a friend, not a half-brain-dead hangdog wannabe lover, so she lets The Simbul do the work.

The Simbul (again, the scribe, not my character :}) disagrees with my interpretation of Mystra’s abilities. While it’s true that Mystra’s inherited portfolio has an INT of this and a WIS of that, the D&D game posits deities who aren’t all-knowing and mentally infallible (or there’d be no strife among deities at all, because all of them could foresee how everything would turn out, so again every being would be following a script or remaining static, with no free will and no room for adventure). Time and again we’ve seen D&D gods who are very like the Greek and Roman gods: supersized humans, who have exaggerated flaws as well as exaggerated powers. The Realms, as a D&D setting, must necessarily be no different. The Avatar trilogy, my Shadows of the Avatar trilogy, Prince of Lies, Crucible, and my Elminster In Hell and Elminster’s Daughter have all shown us divine fallibility. (As have many other Realms novels, with Finder and Lolth and so on and on and on.) It’s an integral part of D&D, like it or not.

The mortal Ariel Manx (Midnight) ‘put on’ that keen intelligence and that great wisdom like a cloak; stats aside and ‘going by’ just what we read in Realms fiction, it’s clear that she lacked such stature as a mortal, beforehand. The Weave and exposure to Azuth and the Chosen swiftly elevated her intelligence and made her stagger under the weight of accumulated memories, but we’ve all known brilliant, long-lived individuals who forget things, get confused, go off on mental tangents at inappropriate times, and so on. The mortal Midnight is no different - - and along with all the overwhelming power and distractions (she’s still exulting in just ‘riding the flow of the Weave,’ like a skier going down a mountain, something her predecessor got over literally ages ago), she got a huge dose (under constant reminder) of inferiority and lack of confidence. Her predecessor did all this, but she didn’t. She knows how things are supposed to be done, but she hasn’t actually done them herself. Give me three hours, and I can thoroughly explain to you how to disassemble my tractor - - but I doubt most of you, after those three brain-wearying hours, could then go ahead and take the thing apart without any confusion or breaking anything or head-scratching UNLESS you’d done such things yourself already. As Nergal found, ‘borrowed’ memories aren’t the same as actually doing something yourself. Myself, I’d say Mystra could go on learning where her own mental furniture is (and falling over a lot of it in the process) for at least twenty years of Realms time.

If Shar manages to kill off some key Chosen or Azuth erupts or something else occurs to really upset Mystra, things could get wilder, and take longer. And I’ve a few ideas in mind, believe me, but [NDA NDA BEEG NDA]. :}

If readers don’t like reading about a Mystra who’s still learning on the job and is a little hesitant, too bad. That’s the Mystra I see as allowing mortals the most freedom, so it’s the best Mystra for the game and for Realms fiction (and, hey, I created Mystra AND the Realms, so I think my judgement’s pretty good about such matters). Yes, I could write a ‘The New Mystra Gets Cheesed Off, And Whups Everyone!’ novel, and have a lot of slam-bang fun, but I don’t WANT to wreck the Realms. If I was a film director, I’d far rather do The Lord of the Rings than Godzilla - - and I think I’d be better at trying to do The Princess Bride than either.



So saith Ed. Whew, what a mind. Okay, now I’m going to have go right back and read El in Hell right through, all over again. Thanks, Elmonster and Shemmy and The Simbul. No, I’m not being sarcastic, I really mean it: thanks!
love to all,
THO
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