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BadCatMan
Learned Scribe

Australia
347 Posts

Posted - 22 Aug 2017 :  13:54:05  Show Profile Send BadCatMan a Private Message  Reply with Quote  Delete Topic
Something odd I came across when working up Sessrendale for the wiki:

The Old Gray Box's Cyclopaedia entry for Archendale, page 26, says "Archendale is home to aggressive traders (see SESSRENDALE)..." But there's no entry for Sessrendale, and nothing about it in either book.

In fact, there'll be nothing about it for six years before the FRCS 2e and The Dalelands finally detail it – as a lost dale, utterly destroyed, erased from the land, and almost completely forgotten.

Rather appropriate, really.

Anyway, the Dusk Lord is an intriguing character. There's almost nothing known about him, and nothing definite, yet he has a lot of potential.

For my campaign, I and a PC made him out to be a Sessren Robin Hood or King Arthur character, a heroic shadow mage. "...the Sessren maintained that the Dusk Lord survived and fled south across the mountains and into the Vast Swamp, where he made his base. He became something of a folk hero to the Sessren, still fighting the good fight against the evil Arkhenfolk and striking at them in the night, responsible for any misfortune to befall the Arkhenfolk and aiding the Sessrenfolk however he could. So the legends go, he led an unnaturally long life (the Arkhenfolk would mutter necromancy and lichdom), up to at least "when I was a boy" times. He finally passed into a strange shadow-world, from which the Sessrenfolk insisted he would one day return either at the Sessrenfolk's greatest need, or to finally destroy the Arkhenfolk."

Cormyr: The Tearing of the Weave invokes the Dusk Lord, but while it remains shy on the story, it offers some possibilities. The keep that is, for no known reason, called the Lost Refuge or Cormyr's Lost Refuge, or once Last Refuge, is built beside the Vast Swamp in 1227 DR. Five years later, 1232 DR, some Sessrenfolk flee the destruction of Sessrendale into Cormyr, seeking refuge. Perhaps the Dusk Lord leads them. They could have gone to this newly founded settlement so close by.

But in 40 years, the refuge is overwhelmed by the Vast Swamp and threatened by orcs. Perhaps there's no escape. Where shall they seek refuge next? There's a portal to the Plane of Shadow, supposedly closed for the last time over a century ago, that is, before 1274 DR. The Sharrans believe by the Dusk Lord and they have a good chance of knowing this sort of thing. The keep falls to orcs nearly a hundred years ago, that is, after 1274 DR, leaving a suspicious time gap between the portal closing and the keep falling.

Perhaps the Dusk Lord led his Sessrenfolk into the Plane of Shadow, to seek refuge and peace. They won't want to stay in the Shadow Swamp on the other side though. Why not return, to the dark reflection of Sessrendale in the Plane of Shadow? Perhaps they live there still, in a land of eternal twilight.

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Gary Dallison
Great Reader

United Kingdom
4762 Posts

Posted - 22 Aug 2017 :  14:12:13  Show Profile Send Gary Dallison a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Never really thought much about sessrendale, you pose some interesting points though. I may have another look at it one day.

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George Krashos
Master of Realmslore

Australia
5614 Posts

Posted - 22 Aug 2017 :  14:55:44  Show Profile Send George Krashos a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Ed has provided quite a bit of extra information on Sessrendale:

Sessrendale was a small, vigorous, fast-growing dale community of Arkhen-folk who’d moved out of Archendale after recurring clashes and disagreements with the authoritatian rulership there. Like all Arkhen, the Sessrar were proud, independent, “Don’t tell ME what to do!” people, who swiftly established trade successes, exchanging their mined metals with traders from afar (Sembians in particular). They were guilty of being a threatening rival to Archendale far more than they were guilty of any fell evil, and although Archendale invaded and destroyed Sessrendale, doing so broke all trust any other Dalefolk, and the governments of Cormyr and Sembia, may have had in Archendale, and condemned it to being disliked, feared, and largely shunned by all, to slowly wither in isolation. So Archendale today is a shadow of what it once was, and a mere fading echo of what it might have risen to become, if it hadn’t treated Sessrendale so brutally.
For one thing, dwarves interested in the Sessren mines and in using humans as a front and buffer between them and the surface human realms were planning to ally and work with the Sessrar (and then continue on to work with strategically-located Archendale) to establish a newly-strengthened dwarven presence in the Thunder Peaks between Cormyr and Sembia (surviving by playing one realm off against the other, if necessary).

Of course, it was not to be. For the record, the Sessren were NOT evil or in league with anyone but each other; they had a few very ambitious mages, and their ruler, the Dusk Lord (about whom I don’t want to Reveal All here and now, for good and true future Realmslore reasons I can’t divulge at this time) dabbled in arcane magic.

As the hostilities with Archendale increased, and imminent war became more and more certain (Archendale sending divers hired spies, mainly outlander peddlers and merchants, but also sending assassins and using hired spellcasters to hurl damage from afar, sometimes by means of summoned monsters let loose in Sessrendale), the frightened mages started to work together closely, with their ruler, a warrior and increasingly capable arcane spellcaster, to try to develop some defenses for their dale.

They failed to get anything properly ready in time, and almost all perished fighting to protect fleeing Sessrar or to make the Arkhen invaders pay for despoiling favored spots; in many cases, they literally died on their own doorsteps, overwhelmed after their spells ran out and they’d filled their own fields and front yards with heaped-up, dead foes.

It’s Arkhen propaganda that has given us the “evil Dusk Lord” of so many tales, the black cowled sword-wielding, amorphous flying wraith whose touch withers and chills, or burns flesh like a brand if he wills.
The REAL Dusk Lord desperately dabbled in necromancy along with all of the dozen-some most powerful Sessren mages, in the month or so before the invasion began. They were guilty of animating skeletons, dread, and zombies (particularly those of beasts, since they hesitated to animate their own dead and recently-buried older relatives) to fight the invading Arkhen, and of both inadvertently and in a few cases deliberately freeing some wights and ghosts of earlier (pre-Sessrendale) burials in the area. Many of these lurk in the region to this day, adding to its fell reputation.
Several of the Sessren mages, and the Dusk Lord, died defending their dale in such a manner that their own spells, and spells hurled against them, affected them, and they became unique undead of various sorts (DMs should feel free to design their own).

In general, most of them look like curst (see LOST EMPIRES OF FAERUN), but can’t be destroyed by a remove curse [only entirely restoring Sessrendale will destroy them]; if “destroyed,” they re-form and rise again to fight on.

They tarry in Sessrendale, but do have the ability to leave it if chasing a “foe of the dale.” They will usually only strike once at such a target outside the dale, and then return to their beloved former home.
These unique Sessren undead usually look like black-robed men or women, can fly, become visible or invisible, and become tangible or intangible at will, and can see, hear, and think with all the intelligence they had in life (remembering and acquiring new knowledge constantly). They can only animate dead (corpses [including foes they’ve just slain; they love to employ such servitors against the deads’ former, still-living companions], bones, and body parts by touch, into zombies, dread, dread warriors, crawling claws, and skeletons), hurl spells (DMs should choose a roster of spells, that “return” to the undead some hours after being cast), and wield weapons when tangible; when intangible, contact with them chills and causes 1 round of confusion if touched living things fail a Con Check (DC 22), but does no other damage. A few Sessren undead have minor magic wands or rings they can employ in battle, but will drop these if they become intangible, and so rarely use them except where they can dump them in ponds or down dungeons, to serve as a lure for foes so other Sessren undead can have more opportunities to attack such foes. Most Sessren mage undead are Wizard 14s to 17s.

The Dusk Lord himself manifests as a headless (but cowl-wearing, as if he had a head, and able to see as if he had eyes, though attacks on his non-existent head do him no damage at all, as several adventurers have discovered far too late, as they thrust and hacked and fired arrows through the nothingness above the Dusk Lord’s shoulders, and dealt him no damage whatsoever) male human torso, with his arms clad in chainmail and gauntlets under the cowled cloak. He fades away into “nothingness” at his waist, and flies about with the perfect, precise control of a hummingbird, and wields a sword that can fire spells as well as hack. The sword is a part of him, not a weapon that can be seized by foes if separated from him (if he loses it in battle, it fades away and reforms back in his hand).
He should be a warrior of 12th level or higher, and a wizard (again, spells return spontaneously) of about 7th level or so.

All of these Sessren undead are now evil by nature, but hate being so; they succumbed to all temptation in their desperation to defend Sessrendale, and lost anyway, and are enraged. Non-Sessren intruding in their dale enrage them, the sight of any Arkhen enrages them, and the mere continued existence of Archendale (and lack of action of the other dales to destroy it just as utterly as Sessrendale was destroyed) enrages them. These rages aren’t “blind,” but rather a cold fuel that keeps these cunning, thinking undead going in their energetic bids to slay the living who come within their reach (though they’ll neither attack nor disturb the slumber or work of living beings whom they believe are trying to rebuild the dale).

As in life, they are proud, ruthless, and reckless of their own safety beings, but their “natural evil” is a borderline, forced-upon-them thing that they loathe. As a result, they sometimes aid lost wayfarers and others in need, kindly but unpredictably. They NEVER aid anyone they know to be Arkhen, however, and scheme to somehow bring down destruction on Archendale, so that it, too, will be destroyed and sewn with salt.

-- George Krashos

"Because only we, contrary to the barbarians, never count the enemy in battle." -- Aeschylus
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Bladewind
Master of Realmslore

Netherlands
1258 Posts

Posted - 22 Aug 2017 :  18:09:48  Show Profile Send Bladewind a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Some realy tasty lore there. I am in awe.

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Brimstone
Great Reader

USA
3061 Posts

Posted - 22 Aug 2017 :  19:33:30  Show Profile Send Brimstone a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I agree Bladewind.

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Markustay
Realms Explorer extraordinaire

USA
15712 Posts

Posted - 22 Aug 2017 :  21:01:22  Show Profile Send Markustay a Private Message  Reply with Quote
My first thought was: Have someone (Zhents?) rebuild the Dale, so its 'back' in 5e, and part of the deal the new (living) Sessrens made with the old (dead) ones was that they destroy Archendale... which was already a barely-surviving ghost of its former self. So I'm thinking a new (but secret) 'Zhent Base', and the old Sessren - even though they hated Zhentil Keep in life - traded-away what little scruples they may have had left to get their revenge, but instead of finding peace, they 'live' on, still 'protecting' New Sessrendale from 'outsiders' (basically helping the Zhents 'keep a lid on things'). Of course, now Archendale is the 'new Sessrendale' as well, in spirit (quite literally - its as haunted as Sessrendale is/was). Eventually - if someone manages to 'kite' some undead from either settlement too close to the other - all-out 'ghost war' will break out. A war that would last for eternity, since neither side can die... again.

But after thinking all that, I realized I did the one thing that got me the most peeved about what the 4e designers did - take a 'living' settlement and turn it into a ruin, and take a nearby 'ruin' and bring it back (they did this in a few places). Thus, use it if you want, but I wouldn't be comfortable posting that to, let say, the CandleKanon, because of the reasons I just gave.

And now I suddenly want to work on 5e Myth Drannor, even though I've never given a crap about Myth Drannor. I should probably read that novel series first, huh?

"I have never in my life learned anything from any man who agreed with me" --- Dudley Field Malone


Edited by - Markustay on 22 Aug 2017 21:03:12
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Markustay
Realms Explorer extraordinaire

USA
15712 Posts

Posted - 22 Aug 2017 :  21:15:38  Show Profile Send Markustay a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Oh, and what happens if the Dusk Lord runs into the Headless Zhent?

Which one do you think will come out ahead?

"I have never in my life learned anything from any man who agreed with me" --- Dudley Field Malone


Edited by - Markustay on 22 Aug 2017 21:16:08
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Zeromaru X
Master of Realmslore

Colombia
1384 Posts

Posted - 23 Aug 2017 :  00:13:07  Show Profile Send Zeromaru X a Private Message  Reply with Quote
There is a 5e Myth Drannor product scheduled for DMs Guild, so I guess it would be helpful for you.

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sfdragon
Great Reader

2219 Posts

Posted - 23 Aug 2017 :  01:46:44  Show Profile Send sfdragon a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I dont like the dms guild or consider it canon..... thats me and that is where I stand....

anyway was at the hospital when I saw this thread and thought this.

what if the headless zhent is the Dusk Lord?

why is being a wizard like being a drow? both are likely to find a dagger in the back from a rival or one looking to further his own goals, fame and power


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BadCatMan
Learned Scribe

Australia
347 Posts

Posted - 23 Aug 2017 :  01:53:34  Show Profile Send BadCatMan a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by George Krashos

Ed has provided quite a bit of extra information on Sessrendale:


Mmm. Not his best work, IMHO. A group of mages accused of being evil undead necromancers are really... evil undead necromancers who did exactly what they're accused of. They retroactively justify the Arkhen propaganda. Another unique, unstatted variety of undead that isn't particularly useful, and are too high level for most PC adventurers to deal with. Another shadowy group of morally ambiguous ex-rulers who mostly just hang around being mysterious and not doing much. It feels like stuff we've all seen before. It seems to have been retconned out by The Tearing of the Weave too.

I prefer my version.

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Edited by - BadCatMan on 23 Aug 2017 01:54:22
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sfdragon
Great Reader

2219 Posts

Posted - 23 Aug 2017 :  08:58:49  Show Profile Send sfdragon a Private Message  Reply with Quote

a: ends justify the means
or
b: means justify the ends

why is being a wizard like being a drow? both are likely to find a dagger in the back from a rival or one looking to further his own goals, fame and power


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RDS
Seeker

USA
25 Posts

Posted - 25 Aug 2017 :  14:30:29  Show Profile Send RDS a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Markustay

My first thought was: Have someone (Zhents?) rebuild the Dale, so its 'back' in 5e, and part of the deal the new (living) Sessrens made with the old (dead) ones was that they destroy Archendale... which was already a barely-surviving ghost of its former self. So I'm thinking a new (but secret) 'Zhent Base', and the old Sessren - even though they hated Zhentil Keep in life - traded-away what little scruples they may have had left to get their revenge, but instead of finding peace, they 'live' on, still 'protecting' New Sessrendale from 'outsiders' (basically helping the Zhents 'keep a lid on things'). Of course, now Archendale is the 'new Sessrendale' as well, in spirit (quite literally - its as haunted as Sessrendale is/was). Eventually - if someone manages to 'kite' some undead from either settlement too close to the other - all-out 'ghost war' will break out. A war that would last for eternity, since neither side can die... again.

But after thinking all that, I realized I did the one thing that got me the most peeved about what the 4e designers did - take a 'living' settlement and turn it into a ruin, and take a nearby 'ruin' and bring it back (they did this in a few places). Thus, use it if you want, but I wouldn't be comfortable posting that to, let say, the CandleKanon, because of the reasons I just gave.

And now I suddenly want to work on 5e Myth Drannor, even though I've never given a crap about Myth Drannor. I should probably read that novel series first, huh?



Unlike some of the other changes though this would be an organic change. It would not have to be whole cloth either. With Archendale weakened and a slew of new immigrants Sessrendale could live again.

It would not be hard to imagine young dalesmen lured to "new" land as well as Hillafar and Phlan refugees. You've got Myth Drannar refugees also that might what to stay close for future generation to rebuild that fallen city again. Perhaps they could offer a merciful hand to the normal humans of New Nethril a place to live and build again. The newer leadership of Archendale could even learn from the past and pitch in to make up for their ancestors misdeeds. If you liked the Saurials this may even provide a place for the displaced Saurials to live.

As I see it this would allow DMs to have their own build a dale.

RDS
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Markustay
Realms Explorer extraordinaire

USA
15712 Posts

Posted - 26 Aug 2017 :  02:09:21  Show Profile Send Markustay a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Yeah, it could work like that. Give DM's their own little playground (not that they couldn't do that before - we'd just be giving them a little push).

It might even be fun to have Cormyr (at first) want to sponsor the Dale, sending Warmages there to 'cleanse the soil' (should be easy to come up with a combo of spells to remove the salt). The idea would be that Cormyr would want to put a few of its own people there, to 'keep an eye on Sembia'. Of course, they have rugged volunteers - the 'adventuring types' - who would want to help with the rebuilding, to get some land of their own. Some of these 'adventurers' would actually be Zhents (but with some sort of magic that obscures scrying, alignment detection, etc). So you'd have at least two 'power groups' pumping money and manpower into the place, probably with no idea what the other was doing (well, the 'higher ups' among the Zhents should at least suspect Cormyr's motives). Besides, even if some people back in Suzail caught wind of the fact that some of their new settlers were 'Zhents', would it really deter what they were trying to accomplish? If anything, it gives them a readily-available scapegoat if something goes awry. A true 'politics make strange bed-fellows' situation (they both hate the Netherese more than they hate each other, after all). And, of course, others would trickle-in among the people who were really there to 'build a better life' (and at some point, the Cormyrians and even the Zhents may decide they just want to make the settlement work, after all). You'd have Harpers nosing about, maybe a Red Wizard or two, etc, etc. Typical Realms stuff.

I like the Myth Drannor angle as well. What if the Zhents (or Cormyrians, or both) didn't kill all the 'ebil Arkendalers'? What if some of them went 'underground'. literally? Made some sort of arrangement with the Cormanthor drow and are now hiding beneath their old dale, and are faking quite a bit of the 'ghost activity'? Then if you got people using the new Sessrendale to supply efforts to retake Myth Drannor (which I understand has twice as many ruins as before) - not a 'staging area'; that would be closer to the ruins themselves - but rather, part of a supply line out of Cormyr, and you have elves dealing with the dale, and you have those Arkens dealing with the drow... lots and lots of double-dealing and wheels-within-wheels could be going on, all under the guise of 'helping the good folk of the Dales bring back one that was lost'.

"I have never in my life learned anything from any man who agreed with me" --- Dudley Field Malone


Edited by - Markustay on 26 Aug 2017 18:39:22
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Adhriva
Learned Scribe

USA
144 Posts

Posted - 26 Aug 2017 :  03:38:37  Show Profile  Visit Adhriva's Homepage  Send Adhriva an AOL message  Send Adhriva a Yahoo! Message Send Adhriva a Private Message  Reply with Quote
If you want to do something with Myth Drannor, I'd be happy to share my very extensive notes regarding lore and any art for it I've done that you're interested in using. I have a binder full of notes pulled from every source that mentions it.

I think you're missing a good Shadovar connection though, given the Shadow thematic element at play in the story of the Dale. The Shadovar conscripted an army of about 10,000 men from Cormyr, the Dales, Sembia (mostly), and other near by places to lay siege to Myth Drannor. There is possibly a connection with the Dusk Lord - even if that connection is little more then an illusion of his return to bolster their armies with men from this Dale. That number of mercenaries in the aftermath of a battle where the Shadovar leaders perished is going to wreck havoc in the surrounding countryside for years to come from pillagers, looters, and everyone else. You're also going to have Elves taking oaths of vengeance on humans for the lost of their home, and they probably will not distinguish between them. If Cormyr is going to step in, it will largely be to try to stabilize the regions on their immediate borders first and spread their influences from there. If you are going to draw on Zhent influences as well, I would take a page from the Scourging of Shadowdale in relation to the themes at work with the various factions.

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BadCatMan
Learned Scribe

Australia
347 Posts

Posted - 26 Aug 2017 :  09:25:33  Show Profile Send BadCatMan a Private Message  Reply with Quote
The Dalelands, page 47, notes that Sessren refugees established some "powerful" families in their adopted homes, some of whom remember their Sessren heritage and the Arkhen atrocities against their ancestors. So there would be some influential or powerful people of Battledale, Mistledale, Deepingdale, and Cormyr with a desire to re-establish Sessrendale, and to get back at Arkhendale.

I favoured a heroic side to the Dusk Lord and shadow magic, partly because I wanted to balance all the doom and gloom of the Cormyr: The Tearing of the Weave module (darkness and shadow is a really sucky theme for villainy, by the way; darkness by itself is not actually dangerous, and there's no reason it can't be positive) and because I was briefly DMing for a Tome of Magic 3.5 Shadowcaster elsewhere with the aim of maybe using the Dusk Lord. Sessrendale is a good place to integrate shadow magic or similar into a campaign, especially without buying into overused subjects of Shar, the shadovar Netherese, and the Shadow Weave.

The Dusk Lord I see to be like Batman, the Phantom, or the Shadow, leaping out of the shadows to surprise villains, a dark appearance concealing a good heart. "Mages of other lands with less of a grudge did recall that the Dusk Lord practiced magic of a distinctly shadowy theme - leaping through shadows, fashioning things out of darkness and commanding shadow servants - though quite openly, without shame or any apparent wicked intent."

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Edited by - BadCatMan on 03 Sep 2017 02:41:41
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Markustay
Realms Explorer extraordinaire

USA
15712 Posts

Posted - 03 Sep 2017 :  02:07:34  Show Profile Send Markustay a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Well, I was looking for a reference (and BTW, NEVER search 'Ornstar' LMAO) to something and got the page number wrong, and I read the wrong entry in PftF. I suppose that was serendipitous, because I wound-up finding something relevant to 'fixing' Sessrendale...
quote:
From Pages from the Mages, pg.29
The Glarathra is old, so old that its origin is forgotten by living men. In the days of the dawning of human settlements in the North, Chauntean High Harvestmasters would bring the Bronze Flower with them whenever a new temple-farm dedicated to the Golden Goddess was founded and plant it at the center of the community for a season. It is possible that The Glarathra has abilities that can make the land fertile and properly irrigated, requiring long periods of contact to function. Certainly some writings preserved in Candlekeep hint that this is so.

So thats one problem solved - if we want the soil to be good again (purified), just find this doohickey (last seen in The Fallen lands, and plant it for like a year.

"I have never in my life learned anything from any man who agreed with me" --- Dudley Field Malone


Edited by - Markustay on 03 Sep 2017 02:09:16
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Gary Dallison
Great Reader

United Kingdom
4762 Posts

Posted - 03 Sep 2017 :  21:26:36  Show Profile Send Gary Dallison a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Or use the nature elemental from that adventure in the ruins of zhentil keep

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Markustay
Realms Explorer extraordinaire

USA
15712 Posts

Posted - 04 Sep 2017 :  02:01:41  Show Profile Send Markustay a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Isn't that weird... I was just looking through that product today trying to find something completely unrelated (abd it wasn't in there), and I noted all the MM sheets in the back. I had only thought there was 2-3 MM pages, but there were actually a bunch (and some critters we never saw again in anything else).

I like that Imp/Quasit crossbreed (Sacaanti), but I'd change its backstory. It needs to be 'native' (which it kinda is after the magic ritual is performed - it loses all its fiendish qualities). We could easily just say that when the Spellplague hit there were a dozen or so of those being created by the Zhents, and when magic went awry they were still created, but they are considered a native (Primer Material) species, like any other sentient creature we have on Toril (make them androgynous, and say they lay one egg every ten years or some-such). Magic (and spellplagues) are a wonderous thing.
Say a bunch of them escaped are now living in that small clump of nameless mountains NW of The Citadel of the Raven, and brave mages can go there and try to captire one for a familiar.

And sorry for the derail. To bring this back around - I am sure most druids, and just about any priest of Chauntea, could fix that soil. in fact, one wonders why no group (including the Elves) of nature-minded folk didn't try to get retribution for what the Archenfolk did. "Making it so nothing would grow" sounds like a capital offense where the Emerald Enclave is concerned.

"I have never in my life learned anything from any man who agreed with me" --- Dudley Field Malone


Edited by - Markustay on 04 Sep 2017 02:03:26
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The Arcanamach
Master of Realmslore

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Posted - 13 Jul 2019 :  01:39:49  Show Profile Send The Arcanamach a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Historically, sewing fields with salt were merely symbolic. Sewing fields which equate to hundreds of square miles with enough salt to prevent any growth would be difficult to say the least. Not to mention the cost of salt from a pre-modern era. In my version, the wizards that were hired by the Arkens used magic to access the quasi-elemental plane of salt to ruin the fields.

My current campaign focuses on Sessrendale and one of the plot hooks is to acquire either a Silver or Golden Acorn used by elves. They have two leads and it looks like they'll be going to Myth Drannor soon for a silver one. These items can restore the land fairly quickly (almost immediately if a gold one is used).

Anyway, I came to this thread while searching for information on the Dusk Lord so, please, point me to any other relevant information on him. I'm going to drop a query about him in the Sages and Mages podcast as well.

I have a dream that one day, all game worlds will exist as one.
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