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 What If: Larloch succeeded?
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Markustay
Realms Explorer extraordinaire

USA
15675 Posts

Posted - 25 Feb 2018 :  18:43:06  Show Profile Send Markustay a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I have one question - where is this wonderful Imaskar sourcebook people love to reference?

An empire that lasted thousands of years, that we've got maybe a dozen, very generic pages on (and most of that covers their 'ruins', relics, and survivor-states), and that we even have much conflicting material about... and everyone seems to be an expert on the place. As far as I am concerned, every single version of Imaskar is 'homebrew', because we just don't really know what imaskar was like. We have the 'big picture' general idea, but that doesn't really tell us at all about the individual people.

Take Netheril for example - everyone thinks of them as the 'old Ebil Empire' that fell because of its hubris. That's just how folks remember it (and the return of Shade did nothing to help that reputation). In fact, I would say Thultanthar was an exception, not the rule. There were plenty of 'good' Netherese, but all we have left are the ghosts, liches, and damn Shades, so of course people are going to get the completely wrong impression. But at least for Netheril, we have a box, and know that like just about every other civilization, its people (and cities) ran the gamut of alignments and attitudes about stuff.

So who's the most famous living Imaskari? Halaster. We know Mystra respects him - he probably was a chosen of Mystryl just as Larloch was, and we know he had dealings with Shar as well. Now, that doesn't sound like much of an 'atheist' to me. Quite the contrary. Also, the lore of DoD (and YES, I realize that wasn't originally written for FR, but get over it) suggests that the Imaskari were HIGHLY interested in religions - in fact, it doesn't seem they 'picked just one'. They were fully aware of 'The Gods' (hence, the Godwall), and seemed to be studying these beings, in depth (extrapolation from the DoD material through the filter of 5 editions and 'new information'). And I am only saying 'studying' to get things more in-line with the canon of Imaskar, because those 'temples' seemed to have been fully functional (rather than just 'mock-ups', which is how I spin them now... more homebrew). Later, after imaskar fell, some of the survivor-states used those mock-temples and actually started worshiping some of those gods (more DoD), but that was in the aftermath, so it all makes sense (because wouldn't you want to appease gods after snubbing them worked out so poorly?)

Sorry, but I just don't see the Imaskari as 'sacrilegious'. Quite the opposite - I get a whole different vibe from them, and their 'religion' would probably be unrecognizable today (something combining neo-druidism with High magic) If you look at two of their most successful survivor-states - Narfel and Raumathar - their magic seemed to have a very nature-based tinge to it (at least Raumathar's did - you see a LOT of evidence of that in the Frostfell novel, and also in the culture of Rashemen).

I have some theories as to what their religion may have been like, based upon their interaction with the Fey, which makes perfect sense, because the Fey would not look at gods as GODS. They know what gods actually are, and what they are capable of, and what they are not capable of. That means they may have shared that wisdom with the Imaskari - that Gods are NOT omnipotent (or omni-anything else) - they are flawed, have weaknesses, and can be overcome... something you DON'T find in anyone else's religious teachings (good, bad, or otherwise).

So don't confuse Higher Awareness with atheism. The Imaskari - masters of magic and rulers of all they sought to take (on their world and others) - felt non-confident enough about 'The Gods' to actually build a wall... something someone who is 'afraid' would do. They didn't want the Mulan gods showing up, because they KNEW what would happen (and DID). That's not disregard - thats fear & respect. Don't kid yourself, the Imaskari had hubris to spare, just like the Netherese, but they weren't stupid. They never tried to steal Mystryl's 'crown' from her. Just like they didn't bother with Spelljamming, and kept their mass-abductions as 'low-key' (hid their tracks) as best they could - you don't go picking fights you may not be able to win. That's a lesson the Netherese seemed to have never learned. I'm fairly certain the Imaskari would have had temples to Mystryl, because it would have been dumb of them to have not at least 'paid her lip-service'.

To not pay her any respect at all, would be akin to wanting a promotion and raise at work, but then going into work everyday and spitting on your boss. The Imaskari just weren't that damn stupid. They were masters of summoning magic - they summoned Elder Evils! 'Arse-kissing' is Demonology 101 at the college of summoning.

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

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The Masked Mage
Master of Realmslore

USA
1952 Posts

Posted - 25 Feb 2018 :  23:32:49  Show Profile  Send The Masked Mage an AOL message  Click to see The Masked Mage's MSN Messenger address Send The Masked Mage a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I'd argue that knowing a god exists and has power and being aware and fearful of the results of crossing that power - especially in a world where those gods openly use those powers - is not the same as being religious. Its not exactly Atheism, but similar to a pantheistic agnosticism (over-complicated term but I stand by it :P)

As far as I know there is no real Imaskar sourcebook, so I'm guessing you were being facetious on that.

Most of my own conclusions about the Imaskari come from their roles in those late 2nd early 3rd E novels. Purple rocks and doomsday weapons and such. The rest pretty much all seems speculation, including Halaster; frankly if he had been alive since ancient Imaskar, even if he was only earning like 10 XP a year he'd be level 50 or so... I know there are ways to spend XP but still - the math doesn't work very well. PS - I don't think he ever died - I think his soul bits and pieces were a new kind of projected image he invented that allowed him to separate all the voices in his head. So now there is a not crazy Halaster down there with hundreds of Halaster ghost eyes and ears all over :D MY speculation :).
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Markustay
Realms Explorer extraordinaire

USA
15675 Posts

Posted - 25 Feb 2018 :  23:57:33  Show Profile Send Markustay a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I WAS being facetious. I just meant that so many 'lorelords' (myself included) all seem to 'know' Imaskar, when we really know almost nothing. Its all guesswork (which is a shame, because as much as I hated 4e bringing them back, it was a missed opportunity to get a glimpse of their actual culture).

'Pantheistic Agnoticism' - I LIKE it! Our views aren't as far apart as I thought.

As for Halaster - I think he 'split' himself at some point. Figured-out how to make a clone at the same time as he was around. In canon, he supposedly slept right through Netheril (he was in suspended animation or some-such), but I HATE that. Why would an archmage do something like that to themselves on purpose? No, I think that was his clone put back 'in storage' (and may still be, or it might have awoken after his soul was Shattered). Anyhow, my idea for Halaster is that back in old Imaskar, there were really two of him, and the Exp. was 'split', so if he didn't recombine with his second half, he'd only have half the levels, so it all works out.

Which means, in 5e, we could have an even more powerful version of Halaster, if he managed to recombine. And with my little McGuffin of half of him being 'put on ice' elsewhere, this means some of that Shar-crazy may have gotten back in (and it may have even gotten worse - more like a duel personality now). One minute he's baking you cookies, the next he's pulling the wings off of Pegasi.

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


Edited by - Markustay on 25 Feb 2018 23:58:59
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George Krashos
Master of Realmslore

Australia
5235 Posts

Posted - 26 Feb 2018 :  02:02:21  Show Profile Send George Krashos a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Imaskar has been greatly muddied by the fiction line. It's redeemable, but needs a ton of work.

-- George Krashos

"Because only we, contrary to the barbarians, never count the enemy in battle." -- Aeschylus
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Wooly Rupert
Master of Mischief
Moderator

USA
31382 Posts

Posted - 26 Feb 2018 :  03:49:33  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Markustay


Which means, in 5e, we could have an even more powerful version of Halaster, if he managed to recombine. And with my little McGuffin of half of him being 'put on ice' elsewhere, this means some of that Shar-crazy may have gotten back in (and it may have even gotten worse - more like a duel personality now). One minute he's baking you cookies, the next he's pulling the wings off of Pegasi.



The flipside is that Halaster-on-ice may be 100% sane. That Halaster didn't anchor himself to 10,000 spells in Undermountain *and* have dealings with Shar.

And there could be more than one clone. In fact, maybe Manshoon's development of the stasis clone spell wasn't as innovative as it's been described... Keep in mind, one of the Manshoon clones did take refuge in Undermountain.

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Balmar Foghaven
Learned Scribe

Canada
95 Posts

Posted - 26 Feb 2018 :  16:27:41  Show Profile Send Balmar Foghaven a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I'm liking where this train of thought is going. It also just reminded me that despite it not technically being considered "canon", in the video games Halaster was explicitly seen having a clone of himself in Undermountain serving as a decoy during a drow invasion of Waterdeep while the 'real' Halaster was waiting to spring a trap on their leadership.

"Despair not, for in the end all things shall work out for the best - in at least one timeline."
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Markustay
Realms Explorer extraordinaire

USA
15675 Posts

Posted - 26 Feb 2018 :  18:55:26  Show Profile Send Markustay a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I had several reasons for coming up with this plot-device, with the original one being that I wanted him around, while canon said he was in suspended animation. I felt this was a really cheap way of shoving him off-camera for a few thousand years, because no-one wanted to try and back-fill all that history for him (and like Masked Mage pointed out - his EP level is way too low). Whether you like my idea of having him founding Thaeravel - and keep in mind the folk would have been at least 95% Talfir - only a few dozen 'retainers' (apprentices & staff) would have gone with him - its not such a bad idea having him 'muck about' in the background all that time, and even having him interact with the Netherese (there was that one odd sourcebook entry that refer to the Netherese as Halaster's 'contemporaries', or some-such).

Which brings us full-circle to Larloch - they have a 'thing' going on, and I would say it goes all the way back to Netheril, which is why I would want to keep him around. Maybe they were rivals of a sort, for Mystryl's 'affection'... who knows? (so, like maybe it was like Larloch is to Khelben what Halaster is to Elminster?)

I also love the idea of Halaster and Arthindol (The Terraseer) having their own 'thing' going on - both of them aware that the other was 'not what he seems', but keeping each other's secret, and just giving each other that knowing 'appraising eye' across the room, whenever the archmages of Netheril had to get together for something. Almost like 'secret friends', because both of them would look at the Netherese like 'children playing at magic' (so you can picture the looks they would exchange when the exuberant Karsus - or anyone else - was discussing 'magical breakthroughs'; a heavy-sigh expression of, "oh... so they finally figured that one out, did they?" I think that could make for an AMAZING novel... or just a scene in a novel about Halaster 'getting back together' with himself).

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


Edited by - Markustay on 27 Feb 2018 03:08:44
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Wooly Rupert
Master of Mischief
Moderator

USA
31382 Posts

Posted - 26 Feb 2018 :  19:36:07  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
What if Halaster of Undermountain is himself the clone of someone else? Maybe some mage that we've not previously identified cloned himself, and went off to do something else, leaving the clone with his memories, while the more powerful original is somewhere else?

The original could be someone we've seen tiny little amounts about, but never the whole picture... Someone like Hesperdan, for example.

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Markustay
Realms Explorer extraordinaire

USA
15675 Posts

Posted - 27 Feb 2018 :  03:22:44  Show Profile Send Markustay a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Well, we DO have two names. What if Halaster IS the clone, as you say, and IS the one that was in suspended animation? That would explain his abnormally low level.

Then the real Hilathar went traveling the planes, or whatever, stopping back at home from time to time. He may have even been one of the 'known' Netherese Arcansists (a few 'disappeared', whereabouts unknown, post-Fall).

Still, it feels 'weird' for ours (The Undermountain one) to be the false one. I suppose we could say he popped-in every so often, checking up on things, so sometimes it WAS the real Halaster/Hilathar. I could still have the real one found Thaeravel, and then 'go off somewhere', so he was either not there at all when the attack came, or the clone was there, and he's the one who hid or fled the Netherese (which actually makes more sense, since I don't think an Imaskari Artificer would have been caught that easily unawares - the clone just wasn't 'as good' as the original).

Which brings me right back to Halaster being one of Mystryl's Chosen, and perhaps being able to create an avatar of himself - something demipowers (Exarchs) aren't normally able to do. Perhaps he split himself just as he was about to ascend to lesser godhood? And by doing the split, he adverted the forced ascension? (his power level was halved when split). Something along those lines, maybe. Also, it may have made his mind 'weaker', which was how he ended up going mad - half his mind stayed with Arcane Magic and The Weave, while the other half studied Umbral Magic and the Shadoweave. And, of course, easily explains how he could be so friendly to adventurers at one meeting, then so bat-crap crazy and murderous the next. I actually recall Doctor Manhattan (or as I like to call him, "the big, naked blue guy") doing this, and it pissed his GF off no end.

The 'two sides of Halaster Blackcloak'.

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


Edited by - Markustay on 27 Feb 2018 05:25:31
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Nicolai Withander
Master of Realmslore

Denmark
1084 Posts

Posted - 05 Mar 2018 :  12:40:03  Show Profile Send Nicolai Withander a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Wooly Rupert

So I just had a thought... Keep in mind that I've not read that novel, so I don't know how in line this would be, with that book...

But what if Mystra 1.0 was never intended to be a permanent replacement?

Karsus targets Mystryl for his spell. To break the spell, Mystryl casts away her divinity -- if she's not a goddess, Karsus's spell won't work. So she promotes one of her Chosen, who becomes Mystra 1.0.

Mystra 1.0 had two jobs: fix the Weave, and resurrect Mystryl. However, Mystra 1.0 either opted against that -- perhaps she considered her predecessor a failure, because of Karsus's spell, --- or perhaps she didn't understand her purpose. Either way, she stayed around instead of bringing back Mystryl.

The bit of Mystryl that was in Larloch was not down with this, but couldn't do anything about it. Millennia later, she finally saw a chance to act, and possibly even took over Larloch, pushing him to try to become a deity so that she could return (she would have taken the divinity for herself, not allowing Larloch to have it; if he survived, Larloch would have been a discarded shell). Thus, it wasn't a power play by Larloch; he was just a vessel for Mystryl to try to complete her intended resurrection.

Going this route, you could even spin it that she was somehow influencing Cyric, and had a part in his attack on Mystra 2.0.

Of course, none of this is canon, aside from Larloch being a Chosen of Mystryl and the many flavors of magic goddess. It just occurs to me as a fun alternate spin on things.



Not so much forcing Larloch, I could see some contingency was put in place. Either as a baseline objective of the Chosen of Mystryl or simple a personal agreement with him...

Makes you wonder what Ioulaum is waiting for!
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