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The Hooded One
Lady Herald of Realmslore

5043 Posts

Posted - 08 Jan 2005 :  02:26:49  Show Profile  Visit The Hooded One's Homepage Send The Hooded One a Private Message
Krash, greetings of the turning season back to you from Ed and from myself. It gives Ed great pleasure to spin a somewhat teasing answer to thy recent query, as follows:



Ah, yes: elder runes.
George, “elder runes” is a collective modern-day Realms term, probably coined by an unknown human sage at least a thousand years ago (because it’s about that long ago that the term gradually seeps into common usage among students and workers of magic), referring to a growing (as they’re “rediscovered”) collection of magical symbols (probably NOT of common origins) used by long-ago workers of magic.
More specifically, we know that some Netherese (and a handful of their scattered descendants, after the fall of that realm) used them, and also that before that, dwarves of Besilmer employed some of what we now call ‘elder runes, ’ and may well have merely augmented and expanded upon runes in use earlier among the Stout Folk. The names now used for many of the known elder runes hint that elves also used them, and adventurers know that certain shamans among the goblinkin (orcs, goblins, and especially hobgoblins) draw them to this day.
There are tales that certain ‘sensitive’ beings can feel the nearby presence of any elder rune, and that runes of the same sort are somehow linked (no matter how distant one drawing of Angras may be from another, teleportation of a person, item, or just a verbal message [emitted aloud but in some cases also stored in the rune until it is next touched, or even after] between them is possible).
Although the runes have acquired ‘wayfarer’ meanings (noting the presence of shelter, for instance), it’s clear they formerly also had other meanings and purposes.
Most of them possessed now-exhausted magical powers, a few still store these magics, and almost all of them, if whole (i.e. the drawn glyph isn’t broken by damage to the drawing or the surface it’s graven upon), can be ‘recharged’ with magic by those who know how.
And there’s the rub: elder runes have magical powers only if imbued with such by many now-forgotten spells that can be cast upon them at any time. Most of the beings still ‘alive’ who know such magics are either dragons or undead (usually liches). It’s certain that some dragons and baelnorn deliberately recharge elder runes often to bolster defenses around lairs, caches, hoards, and ruined dwellings.
In Realmsplay, I’ve never detailed those spells, but used the runes as (usually) harmless ‘dungeon decoration,’ but sometimes as waiting magical traps that unleash just about any spell effect I wanted them to, to enhance whatever unfolding adventure the Knights were currently having. (In short, they were one more of my DM’s ‘bag of tricks,’ useful because their mere presence and numbers could help to ‘steer’ the Knights into or away from a particular doorway or tomb, by hinting that a place was well-guarded or important.) As I recall, THO can impart a particularly fond memory of one elder rune that, ahem, entertained her.



So saith Ed, and yes I can (grrr): a pair of runes, on floor and (lofty, very hard to see from the floor) ceiling, that slammed me back and forth between them many times in a reverse gravity trap that we dubbed a ‘wham wham’ (fall up, slam hard into ceiling, activate elder rune, fall down to slam hard on the floor, reactivating the rune there to make you fall up again - - and, of course, lather, rinse, and repeat). I got plenty tired of that one, believe you me.
love to all,
THO
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Kentinal
Great Reader

4298 Posts

Posted - 08 Jan 2005 :  02:43:37  Show Profile Send Kentinal a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by The Hooded One



So saith Ed, and yes I can (grrr): a pair of runes, on floor and (lofty, very hard to see from the floor) ceiling, that slammed me back and forth between them many times in a reverse gravity trap that we dubbed a ‘wham wham’ (fall up, slam hard into ceiling, activate elder rune, fall down to slam hard on the floor, reactivating the rune there to make you fall up again - - and, of course, lather, rinse, and repeat). I got plenty tired of that one, believe you me.
love to all,
THO




So how to you get out of this one?
Perhaps a party member caught you?
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The Hooded One
Lady Herald of Realmslore

5043 Posts

Posted - 08 Jan 2005 :  02:49:15  Show Profile  Visit The Hooded One's Homepage Send The Hooded One a Private Message
Yes, and how!
Spell-snatch into his arms, he copped a feel, Torm went for my carried valuables . . and THEN we all got attacked.
THO

Edited by - The Hooded One on 08 Jan 2005 02:50:42
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Dargoth
Great Reader

Australia
4569 Posts

Posted - 08 Jan 2005 :  02:56:34  Show Profile  Visit Dargoth's Homepage Send Dargoth a Private Message
"So saith Ed, and yes I can (grrr): a pair of runes, on floor and (lofty, very hard to see from the floor) ceiling, that slammed me back and forth between them many times in a reverse gravity trap that we dubbed a ‘wham wham’ (fall up, slam hard into ceiling, activate elder rune, fall down to slam hard on the floor, reactivating the rune there to make you fall up again - - and, of course, lather, rinse, and repeat). I got plenty tired of that one, believe you me. love to all,"

I do believe Ill pinch that one for some future campaign

Hmm sounds like the sort of trap Halaster might leave in Undermountain



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

Emperor Sigismund

"Its good to be the King!"

Mel Brooks
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Steven Schend
Forgotten Realms Designer & Author

USA
1631 Posts

Posted - 08 Jan 2005 :  14:00:43  Show Profile  Visit Steven Schend's Homepage  Send Steven Schend a Yahoo! Message Send Steven Schend a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Dargoth

"So saith Ed, and yes I can (grrr): a pair of runes, on floor and (lofty, very hard to see from the floor) ceiling, that slammed me back and forth between them many times in a reverse gravity trap that we dubbed a ‘wham wham’ (fall up, slam hard into ceiling, activate elder rune, fall down to slam hard on the floor, reactivating the rune there to make you fall up again - - and, of course, lather, rinse, and repeat). I got plenty tired of that one, believe you me. love to all,"

I do believe Ill pinch that one for some future campaign

Hmm sounds like the sort of trap Halaster might leave in Undermountain



If memory serves correctly (as I'm 2000 miles from my copy of Ruins of UMT), a derivation of that sort of trap does exist on the pit trap cards in that boxed set. Of course, Ed set the gravities to drag PCs across rusty blades set against the sides of the pits in which this trap exists as well, setting up an even nastier effect.....

Steven
Who likes the spectre-trapped door as one of Ed's/Halaster's most cruel traps

For current projects and general natter, see www.steveneschend.com
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The Hooded One
Lady Herald of Realmslore

5043 Posts

Posted - 08 Jan 2005 :  15:14:13  Show Profile  Visit The Hooded One's Homepage Send The Hooded One a Private Message
The odd thing is that Ed doesn't like using traps, and in the original Realms campaign we hardly ever encountered them, except as obvious, already-sprung "warnings" (usually with skeletons transfixed on them, and the like).
THO
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Ardashir
Senior Scribe

USA
544 Posts

Posted - 08 Jan 2005 :  18:19:32  Show Profile  Visit Ardashir's Homepage Send Ardashir a Private Message
quote:
[i]and a Silverfall (the novel, finally in print as a mass market paperback) “character profile,” a little bit of whimsical fun fiction by Ed that made me laugh at loud:

http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=books/fr/silverfallcp





Sounds like Ed just barely got out in one piece that time! One hopes for Ed's sake that he never has to meet with a few Zhentarim who want to discuss his revealing their plans to all and sundry. I doubt Manshoon or Fzoul would be as forgiving as the Seven Sisters.

But seriously, that was hilarious. Did Ed ever do anything else along those lines?
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George Krashos
Master of Realmslore

Australia
4907 Posts

Posted - 09 Jan 2005 :  01:46:50  Show Profile Send George Krashos a Private Message
Thanks for the "elder runes" information THO (and to Ed by proxy) and I like the fact that humanoid spellcasters use them - I've been toying for a while with writing up some more stuff for the neglected orcs and goblinkin of the Realms. More grist for the mill.

-- George Krashos

"Because only we, contrary to the barbarians, never count the enemy in battle." -- Aeschylus
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Dargoth
Great Reader

Australia
4569 Posts

Posted - 09 Jan 2005 :  03:05:23  Show Profile  Visit Dargoth's Homepage Send Dargoth a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by George Krashos

Thanks for the "elder runes" information THO (and to Ed by proxy) and I like the fact that humanoid spellcasters use them - I've been toying for a while with writing up some more stuff for the neglected orcs and goblinkin of the Realms. More grist for the mill.

-- George Krashos




You and Rich baker would seem to be on the same page

"I'm of the opinion that we haven't ever given the evil humanoids the attention they deserve in FR. Where are the goblin kingdoms, the orc-holds, the gnoll tribes? They ought to be on the map too. It's like our map of Faerun was drawn by some snobbish fellow in Candlekeep who arbitrarily decided that "orc kingdoms are hardly kingdoms at all, so I won't include them on MY map." So I'm all for efforts to look at orcs, goblins, etc., a little closer."

Rich Late last month

I found the Candlekeep comment pretty funny


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

Emperor Sigismund

"Its good to be the King!"

Mel Brooks
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The Hooded One
Lady Herald of Realmslore

5043 Posts

Posted - 09 Jan 2005 :  03:10:26  Show Profile  Visit The Hooded One's Homepage Send The Hooded One a Private Message
Hello, all.

Ardashir, Ed used to pen lots of these little “his encounters with folk of the Realms” bits for the amusement of us Knights and various TSR folk. I’ll see if I can’t worm some of them out of him, to share here.


Meanwhile, Ed wades once more into matters wizardly, courtly, and Cormyrean:



Jerryd, Garen Thal has stated things precisely. To his reply to you, let me just add these tidbits:

“Court Wizard” has duties as Garen Thal has outlined, but to them add: official (daily, at the Royal Court) advisor to the realm on all matters of magic, liaison between the Crown and the War Wizards, and proclaimer of official policy on matters magical. This is the “duty to the realm” side, and is separate from “Royal Magician” (personal bodyguard mage of the Obarskyrs and personal adviser to the monarch), because of course the two offices could be held by two different people.
It should be noted that the Royal Magician serves the ruling FAMILY first (“the Crown”) rather than individual monarchs, although they advise the ruling monarch. In other words, all the “-ahast” wizards have seen their primary duty as being to stable rulership of the realm (so they could conceivably dupe, murder, depose, thwart, or deliberately leave unprotected a foolish, reckless, insane, or otherwise unsuitable ruler).

Just so we’re clear, the “College of War Wizards” isn’t all of the War Wizards, but rather is a small inner body (as the British “College of Arms” wasn’t in earlier times all heralds working and deciding things together, but rather the governing body of blazonry), with duties just as Garen Thal stated. Your “option b” is the correct one: Vangey assembled the four senior War Wizards into his replacement as ‘chair’ of this small administrative board. They act as ‘chairman’ without having any official titles, just pay raises and everyone being firmly told where they now rank in the chain of command, and what authority they now wield.

Caladnei hasn’t assumed a “Chairman” title, but theoretically she could (as “the new Vangey,” following in his footsteps of doing whatever she sees as necessary). Remember, she was a reluctant conscript for the role of Vangey’s replacement, was initially an uncomfortable outsider not wanting to ruffle any feathers, she hates formality and matters bureaucratic, and she (correctly) sees Vangerdahast’s unofficial assumption of being ‘Untitled But Absolute Lord Commander of Everything’ as being a mistake born of his need (as a detail man) to run EVERYTHING.
She sees matters thus (as do Laspeera, Alusair, and Filfaeril): It’s morally and practically wrong to concentrate this much power in one individual (who’s feared and mistrusted by the populace as a result, rather than being their accepted ruler), and it’s also unsustainable: it simply wears out the one individual and makes him or her too easily susceptible to being distracted or simply lack the time to do a proper job of anything (too much ‘my back is turned so the mice play’ possibilities).
So as Caladeni doesn’t want all of these headaches but does very much want the support of the three women just mentioned, and they see things the same way, she’s allowing others to do far more than Vangey did.

Leader of the War Wizards isn’t an official title for the same reason both “Chariman” titles were invented: Vangerdahast (like his predecessors, the earlier “-ahast” mages) wanted it that way. Doing things unofficially slows opposition to any increase in personal power, and Vangey was always impatient with “all of these venal, grasping, self-interested and dull-witted do-nothings” at Court who “got in his way” of running Cormyr.

I’d like to caution you firmly AGAINST writing up for the War Wizards your proposed “executive board” (the quartet) that oversees day-to-day operations, and an “administrative or advisory board” (pre-existing the Emeritus title) of senior wizards each responsible for a different function or aspect of War Wizard operations (Purple Dragon attachments, Imperial Navy attachments, investigative teams, border outpost assignments, etc.).
What you envisage is what always develops in real-world fairly stable and prosperous countries, yes (massive, ever-expanding bureaucracy), and the modern American example is a case in point. It’s what Cormyr will develop over time, probably. But it’s definitely not what the Forest Kingdom has now, because Vangerdahast prevented it. He found a ‘strong right hand’ he could trust (Laspeera) because he had to sleep sometime and couldn’t effectively be in two places at once, but otherwise kept power concentrated in his own hands precisely to AVOID the turf-battles and infighting and inflexibility that develops (to use modern real-world America again, consider the decades of infighting between the CIA and the FBI, and the recent proliferation of security agencies all established for pretty much the same reason: executives in the White House at a particular time didn’t want to work with or through the CIA, FBI, NSA, and all of the existing others, but preferred their own new organization under their own personal control).
Like Vangey (so she could have the same freedom to act as he did) Laspeera had no formal title, but everyone at Court (and every last War Wizard) KNEW her authority, just as they did Vangey’s, and obeyed them both absolutely. Vangey spell-peered into Laspeera’s mind daily, and she submitted to this mental invasion willingly, knowing he constantly HAD to be sure she wasn’t getting traitorous thoughts or even wanting to do things differently from him: they had to speak as one, for the good of the realm.
Vangerdahast was firmly stamping out all tendencies among the War Wizards to form cliques (what could be worse for the Realm than a War Wizard traitor [with some War Wizard friends], perhaps acting with, or behind, the latest ambitious rebel nobles?), and worked hard to be the sort of boss who might turn up at the greenest War Wizard’s elbow to work with him or stare hard and critically at what he was doing, and so ‘cut out’ middle managers. The fact that all of the War Wizards wield magic makes the real-world parallels of memos and office misinformation and so on very weak.
So what Cormyr actually has is a quartet of old fussies who see to the formalities of who’s registered as a War Wizard and so on, NOT “day-to-day operations,” and it entirely lacks any “administrative or advisory board . . . of senior wizards each responsible for a different function or aspect of War Wizard operations.” Vangey consulted War Wizards (and sages, and just plain Cormyreans) about situations and places if he thought it was necessary, but he’d have no truck at all with an advisory board: he preferred either to gather information personally or to interrupt a War Wizard’s lovemaking after midnight to tell the fellow to “put the lass aside and get to Arabel, RIGHT NOW,” and talk to these dozen people and report back their views on Topic X.
There’s little point in anyone crafting Realmslore that’s knowingly different from ‘the official line’ or what’s soon going to be published (ahem), so forget the advisory board. Please.



So saith Ed. Who’s saving you work, Jerry, you fortunate fellow! I can add a note from Realmsplay to this: Torm wanted to know just who did what among the War Wizards (How does the command structure of the War Wizards work? Who gives orders to whom?), probably for purposes of subversion and bribery, and he discovered (the hard way) that Vangey gave all the orders, sometimes through various other War Wizards (not always the same ones), so no one really knew where they stood. Note the collegiality of the two chess-playing War Wizards we see briefly in the Cormyr novels (Elminster introduced Vangey to chess, of course, and its popularity swiftly spread among the War Wizards as they sought to please and emulate ‘the Old Man’ [Vangey]); this easygoing working together resulted from most War Wizards NOT resenting their rank and superiors - - because they can’t really tell what their own rank is, or their superiors are, except by rough age/experience and merit (with a FEW exceptions like the alarphons, Vangey, and Laspeera).
Ed and several of us ‘original players’ actually discussed this amorphous feature of the War Wizards once, and he said it, like many things in the Realms, was designed for maximum playability (maximum freedom for a DM). Of course, times of change (Azoun IV dead, Alusair as regent, and Vangey retired and Caladnei in his place) also make for maximum playability.
Cunning, cunning Ed . . .
love to all,
THO

Edited by - The Hooded One on 09 Jan 2005 16:00:04
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Lameth
Learned Scribe

Germany
196 Posts

Posted - 09 Jan 2005 :  11:42:29  Show Profile  Visit Lameth's Homepage  Send Lameth an ICQ Message Send Lameth a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Dargoth

quote:
Originally posted by George Krashos

Thanks for the "elder runes" information THO (and to Ed by proxy) and I like the fact that humanoid spellcasters use them - I've been toying for a while with writing up some more stuff for the neglected orcs and goblinkin of the Realms. More grist for the mill.

-- George Krashos




You and Rich baker would seem to be on the same page

"I'm of the opinion that we haven't ever given the evil humanoids the attention they deserve in FR. Where are the goblin kingdoms, the orc-holds, the gnoll tribes? They ought to be on the map too. It's like our map of Faerun was drawn by some snobbish fellow in Candlekeep who arbitrarily decided that "orc kingdoms are hardly kingdoms at all, so I won't include them on MY map." So I'm all for efforts to look at orcs, goblins, etc., a little closer."

Rich Late last month

I found the Candlekeep comment pretty funny



Oh yes, the "evil" races have to be on the maps too.
Please put it in a Dragon issu.
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The Hooded One
Lady Herald of Realmslore

5043 Posts

Posted - 10 Jan 2005 :  01:27:53  Show Profile  Visit The Hooded One's Homepage Send The Hooded One a Private Message
Kentinal, Ed makes reply to your December followup query: “Can a Chosen achieve a final death as long as their deity provides a divine spark?”



I’d say no, not if their deity doesn’t WANT to them to die. However, an unwilling, insane, or turned-against-the-deity Chosen makes no sense as a continuing being unless the deity wants to torment them, either as punishment or as an example to others. (I’m speaking here of Chosen like those of Mystra, who hold a part of the deity’s power within themselves, not the majority of other “Chosen,” who are lesser champions given temporary powers by the deity.) Note that Mystra’s Chosen have a degree of independence, and CAN choose to suicide. She can bring them back, of course, but not with the powers they held before; they’ll be mere puppets, with mere echoes of their former powers. Chosen of Mystra who choose to defy her but not suicide CAN continue to exist; she can deny them her guidance and aid, and sever them from the company of their fellow Chosen, but not slay them outright, unless she wants to diminish her own divine power permanently. She can, of course, send or manipulate other creatures into slaying them, in which case the divine power they hold will find its gradual way back to her and not be lost to her.
This brings up fascinating character possibilities: the being ‘cursed’ never to die, who desperately wants to and tries to, only to be brought back again and again. Elric and Jack of Shadows (not to mention Terry Pratchett’s Death, as depicted in certain of the Discworld novels) are examples of what sort of being such ‘trapped’ or ‘doomed to repeat’ characters might become, and the subject is something I intend to explore in future projects, both inside and outside the Realms.



So saith Ed. Hmm, now, that last sentence of his is interesting indeed . . .
love to all,
THO
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Kentinal
Great Reader

4298 Posts

Posted - 10 Jan 2005 :  01:46:44  Show Profile Send Kentinal a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by The Hooded One

Kentinal, Ed makes reply to your December followup query: “Can a Chosen achieve a final death as long as their deity provides a divine spark?”


...
This brings up fascinating character possibilities: the being ‘cursed’ never to die, who desperately wants to and tries to, only to be brought back again and again. Elric and Jack of Shadows (not to mention Terry Pratchett’s Death, as depicted in certain of the Discworld novels) are examples of what sort of being such ‘trapped’ or ‘doomed to repeat’ characters might become, and the subject is something I intend to explore in future projects, both inside and outside the Realms.



So saith Ed. Hmm, now, that last sentence of his is interesting indeed . . .
love to all,
THO






I thank both for reply which might aid another discussion at least in part.

Cursed to live forever certainly might be something that is worth exploring, though will add a bit of information for consideration. In online freeflow play often cursed to live forever character, just means can do anything they want without paying for crimes (oh they tend to have other powers as well to prevent other types of punishment as well). It take a good DM or deity to keep those cursed to live fowever feeling cursed. ;-)
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Wooly Rupert
Master of Mischief
Moderator

USA
30283 Posts

Posted - 10 Jan 2005 :  02:03:57  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by The Hooded One

Kentinal, Ed makes reply to your December followup query: “Can a Chosen achieve a final death as long as their deity provides a divine spark?”



I’d say no, not if their deity doesn’t WANT to them to die. However, an unwilling, insane, or turned-against-the-deity Chosen makes no sense as a continuing being unless the deity wants to torment them, either as punishment or as an example to others. (I’m speaking here of Chosen like those of Mystra, who hold a part of the deity’s power within themselves, not the majority of other “Chosen,” who are lesser champions given temporary powers by the deity.) Note that Mystra’s Chosen have a degree of independence, and CAN choose to suicide. She can bring them back, of course, but not with the powers they held before; they’ll be mere puppets, with mere echoes of their former powers. Chosen of Mystra who choose to defy her but not suicide CAN continue to exist; she can deny them her guidance and aid, and sever them from the company of their fellow Chosen, but not slay them outright, unless she wants to diminish her own divine power permanently. She can, of course, send or manipulate other creatures into slaying them, in which case the divine power they hold will find its gradual way back to her and not be lost to her.


As a follow-up...

Your reply seems to imply that once a being becomes a Chosen, Mystra can't reclaim from that person her own essence. However, that's exactly what is described as having happened to Sammaster: thru Azuth, Mystra's essence was removed from Sammaster.

So, am I reading this one wrong, or is such a reclaiming for some reason a difficult process to enact or carry-out?

quote:
Originally posted by The Hooded One

This brings up fascinating character possibilities: the being ‘cursed’ never to die, who desperately wants to and tries to, only to be brought back again and again. Elric and Jack of Shadows (not to mention Terry Pratchett’s Death, as depicted in certain of the Discworld novels) are examples of what sort of being such ‘trapped’ or ‘doomed to repeat’ characters might become, and the subject is something I intend to explore in future projects, both inside and outside the Realms.



So saith Ed. Hmm, now, that last sentence of his is interesting indeed . . .
love to all,
THO




That brings to mind Dornal Silverhand...

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The Hooded One
Lady Herald of Realmslore

5043 Posts

Posted - 10 Jan 2005 :  02:25:18  Show Profile  Visit The Hooded One's Homepage Send The Hooded One a Private Message
Ah, Wooly dearest, you’ve hit on it.
Ed’s reply does indeed “imply that once a being becomes a Chosen, Mystra can't reclaim from that person her own essence.” You point out that “that's exactly what is described as having happened to Sammaster: thru Azuth, Mystra's essence was removed from Sammaster.”
EXACTLY. Sammaster’s silver fire was taken through the actions of Azuth, another deity.
Mystra can forcibly wrest her divine essence (the silver fire) directly from a mortal, but in doing so loses it forever, weakening herself (it does not ‘find its way back to her’ in the normal way, but is GONE). So she won’t do it.
That doesn’t stop Azuth, working with her, from doing it (she’d probably fight any other deity trying it on a mortal located on Toril, and win by using the Weave against them).

As you’ve probably guessed, we Knights discussed this very matter with Ed.
Your cozily, snuggly helpful
THO
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Dargoth
Great Reader

Australia
4569 Posts

Posted - 10 Jan 2005 :  02:55:25  Show Profile  Visit Dargoth's Homepage Send Dargoth a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by The Hooded One

Ah, Wooly dearest, you’ve hit on it.
Ed’s reply does indeed “imply that once a being becomes a Chosen, Mystra can't reclaim from that person her own essence.” You point out that “that's exactly what is described as having happened to Sammaster: thru Azuth, Mystra's essence was removed from Sammaster.”
EXACTLY. Sammaster’s silver fire was taken through the actions of Azuth, another deity.
Mystra can forcibly wrest her divine essence (the silver fire) directly from a mortal, but in doing so loses it forever, weakening herself (it does not ‘find its way back to her’ in the normal way, but is GONE). So she won’t do it.
That doesn’t stop Azuth, working with her, from doing it (she’d probably fight any other deity trying it on a mortal located on Toril, and win by using the Weave against them).

As you’ve probably guessed, we Knights discussed this very matter with Ed.
Your cozily, snuggly helpful
THO




Speaking of Sammaster

In Cult of the Dragon it says that Mystra made Sammaster a chosen because she had seen that one of her current chosen was going to die.

Who was this "doomed chosen"? I believe the only chosen to have died was Sylune and that was 600 hundred odd years after Sammaster became a chosen

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

Emperor Sigismund

"Its good to be the King!"

Mel Brooks
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Wooly Rupert
Master of Mischief
Moderator

USA
30283 Posts

Posted - 10 Jan 2005 :  03:16:20  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by The Hooded One

Ah, Wooly dearest, you’ve hit on it.
Ed’s reply does indeed “imply that once a being becomes a Chosen, Mystra can't reclaim from that person her own essence.” You point out that “that's exactly what is described as having happened to Sammaster: thru Azuth, Mystra's essence was removed from Sammaster.”
EXACTLY. Sammaster’s silver fire was taken through the actions of Azuth, another deity.
Mystra can forcibly wrest her divine essence (the silver fire) directly from a mortal, but in doing so loses it forever, weakening herself (it does not ‘find its way back to her’ in the normal way, but is GONE). So she won’t do it.
That doesn’t stop Azuth, working with her, from doing it (she’d probably fight any other deity trying it on a mortal located on Toril, and win by using the Weave against them).

As you’ve probably guessed, we Knights discussed this very matter with Ed.
Your cozily, snuggly helpful
THO




Ah, thank you, snuggly Lady.

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Ulrik Wolfsbane
Seeker

New Zealand
27 Posts

Posted - 10 Jan 2005 :  03:22:35  Show Profile  Visit Ulrik Wolfsbane's Homepage  Click to see Ulrik Wolfsbane's MSN Messenger address Send Ulrik Wolfsbane a Private Message
Dargoth, there have, and continue to be, other Chosen of Mystra than the Seven Sisters, Elminster, Khelben and Sammaster of the Cult, due to the special role that the Chosen of Mystra play in keeping Mystra's own power in check. Ed alludes to this often. I seem to recall an elven lady mage of Myth Drannor being a Chosen of Mystra? Perhaps others could remember her name? And I don't doubt the names of others have been mentioned in Ed's ramblings (ahem, replies) elswewhere, possibly even in published products.

Crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentations of their women!
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George Krashos
Master of Realmslore

Australia
4907 Posts

Posted - 10 Jan 2005 :  05:40:05  Show Profile Send George Krashos a Private Message
There have been lots of other Chosen of Mystra through the ages. Read "The Temptation of Elminster" for a look at a few of them. Named ones include Symrustar of Myth Drannor, Aloevan of Ardeep, Azuth himself, the ex-Magister Noumea, and the Silent Chosen Alvaerle (sp?).

-- George Krashos

"Because only we, contrary to the barbarians, never count the enemy in battle." -- Aeschylus
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RevJest
Learned Scribe

USA
115 Posts

Posted - 10 Jan 2005 :  15:09:56  Show Profile  Visit RevJest's Homepage Send RevJest a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Dargoth
Speaking of Sammaster

In Cult of the Dragon it says that Mystra made Sammaster a chosen because she had seen that one of her current chosen was going to die.

Who was this "doomed chosen"? I believe the only chosen to have died was Sylune and that was 600 hundred odd years after Sammaster became a chosen



It takes a good deal of time and effort to temper a blade properly. And certainly, a short lived Chosen is no real replacement for one that has lived for so many years, and seen and done so much. Like Sylune.

- S

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

Edited by - RevJest on 10 Jan 2005 15:14:30
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The Hooded One
Lady Herald of Realmslore

5043 Posts

Posted - 11 Jan 2005 :  02:00:08  Show Profile  Visit The Hooded One's Homepage Send The Hooded One a Private Message
Yes, simontrinity, to answer your around-Yuletide query:
Dove, Storm, Elminster and many other Harpers did indeed manipulate the Knights of Myth Drannor into doing many things, down the years.
And, yes, we often did object to being ‘used’ (that’s human nature, and most of us are fairly human, most of the time ).
However, most of the senior Harpers are very clever at making us WANT to do this or that, and so not care overly much when we discover (IF we discover: some of them were and are VERY subtle) we’ve been steered into doing this or that. The really, really slick Harpers build in personal rewards for us whenever they can (challenges as well as the sort of goodies that delight Torm [coins] and Jhessail [spell scrolls]), so we REALLY don’t care.
And then there’s Elminster, who often just shoved us into doing things because he could, or felt like it . . . but also often saved our behinds, kissed and cuddled us when we were feeling down or deprived, and greased our paths through difficult situations (from providing bail and jailbreaks to facing down foes who’d caught us good and proper). In short, we owed him so much that we could be angry, but we didn’t really dare complain . . . to avoid feeling shame, not just because he could have blasted us from here to the next multiverse at will.
Harpers in general see it as good policy to make folk think well of the Harpers, and see the benefits of working with the Harpers, so even when manipulations are uncovered, people will play along anyway, for the common good or through their own sense of responsibility if not for love (somewhat as many of us pay our full share of taxes even while we grumble about this or that politician or political decision).
That about covers it, I think.
love to all,
THO
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Jerryd
Seeker

USA
33 Posts

Posted - 11 Jan 2005 :  07:41:58  Show Profile  Visit Jerryd's Homepage Send Jerryd a Private Message
I have to take up the unenviable and unwanted (and possibly even heretical) task of disagreeing with Ed...
quote:
Originally posted by Ed via The Hooded One

What you envisage is what always develops in real-world fairly stable and prosperous countries, yes (massive, ever-expanding bureaucracy), and the modern American example is a case in point. It’s what Cormyr will develop over time, probably. But it’s definitely not what the Forest Kingdom has now, because Vangerdahast prevented it. He found a ‘strong right hand’ he could trust (Laspeera) because he had to sleep sometime and couldn’t effectively be in two places at once, but otherwise kept power concentrated in his own hands precisely to AVOID the turf-battles and infighting and inflexibility that develops
So, in short, the organization of the War Wizards is that Vangerdahast is in charge normally, Laspeera is in charge when Vangey's not around, and other than that there's no organization at all - it's just a bunch of wizards doing what they're told?

I can understand that you want to avoid the gross overbureaucratization as demonstrated by modern real-world government agencies, and I would agree with that goal. I also agree with the goal that turf-battles, infighting, and inflexibility are also to be avoided. I would also agree (and had written up) that the internal organization is kept relatively simple and so secret for security purposes that to outsiders there would appear to be little or no organization. If I'm understanding what you're saying here, though, you're going too far to the opposite extreme. What you're proposing here just can't work as you've portrayed it in the novels.

If you've got just a handful of people in an organization, a dozen or a score at most, you can probably get away with one boss and everyone else grunts. Any institution that is composed at the very least of a couple of hundred people (based only on stated numbers in published sources) or more likely at least a thousand people (based on reasonable extrapolations from the published numbers that are almost certainly not a complete count) plainly and simply cannot function without some degree of organization and hierarchy. It is plainly and simply impossible for any institution of a thousand people that is made up of a boss, a second-in-command, and 998 grunts obeying orders without any further organization or hierarchy to function either effectively at its assigned tasks. Such an unorganized institution will quickly and inevitably become the equivalent of the Keystone Kops. Such an amorphous blob of a thousand-strong institution that is portrayed as efficient, effective and feared simply shatters all believability and smothers my suspension of disbelief underneath its amorphous mass. Perhaps my threshold of suspension of disbelief is lower than average, but there it is. If you like, you can consider it my own problem.

The fact is, each individual member of an institution may be highly competent but the only possible way to get an institution of several hundred or a thousand competent individuals to accomplish an institutional goal is through some degree of organization. It really is that simple. You have not portrayed the War Wizards as institutionally inept (and I don't want them to be inept either), therefore some degree of internal organization must exist. It certainly shouldn't be the overly-bureaucratized mess of modern reality, but it must not be the polar opposite of no organization under Vangey or Laspeera either. For believability's sake, we need to shoot for a "one-quarter ground" of a minimal organization. If you meet me 1/4th the way, I'll go the other 3/4ths! I can certainly drop the idea of the executive board and administrative board, as you suggest, if you provide a plausible alternative.

I know, you could say things about the impossibility of magic or aberrant monsters or pantheons of gods or whatever, but that's different. That's the expected "impossibility" we accept as part of fantasy. For myself, though, I expect more mundane matters - such as a group of humans belonging to an institution tasked to perform a specific mission - to meet a higher standard of realistic believability or verisimilitude.

quote:
Originally posted by Ed via The Hooded One

Vangerdahast was firmly stamping out all tendencies among the War Wizards to form cliques (what could be worse for the Realm than a War Wizard traitor [with some War Wizard friends], perhaps acting with, or behind, the latest ambitious rebel nobles?)
What could be worse is an institution of War Wizards that, due to its complete lack of organization or hierarchy, is utterly inefficient or even incompetent at its assigned function. Besides, isn't that why the alarphons exist - to investiage and root out disloyal wizards? And your novel Elminster's Daughter illustrated that such problems exist anyway, even without cliques!

quote:
Originally posted by The Hooded One

So saith Ed. Who’s saving you work, Jerry, you fortunate fellow!
He's saving me less work than you might think. I'm still going to have to rewrite a significant amount of what I've done thus far, if I can even bring myself to do so. Ed said that "there’s little point in anyone crafting Realmslore that’s knowingly different from 'the official line'," but my own view is that there's also little point in my writing a document that I can't believe in myself - that won't meet my own standards of believability. Also, as I illustrate with the cites below, I think that I have some backing in 'the official line' - i.e. published lore - for my own viewpoint.

quote:
Originally posted by The Hooded One

... and he discovered (the hard way) that Vangey gave all the orders, sometimes through various other War Wizards (not always the same ones), so no one really knew where they stood. Note the collegiality of the two chess-playing War Wizards we see briefly in the Cormyr novels (Elminster introduced Vangey to chess, of course, and its popularity swiftly spread among the War Wizards as they sought to please and emulate ‘the Old Man’ [Vangey]); this easygoing working together resulted from most War Wizards NOT resenting their rank and superiors - - because they can’t really tell what their own rank is, or their superiors are, except by rough age/experience and merit (with a FEW exceptions like the alarphons, Vangey, and Laspeera).
The problem I have with this - that for the most part individual war wizards don't even know what their own relative rank is - is that it is explictly contradicted in published lore.

I'm well aware of the cite you're speaking of from Cormyr: A Novel. It's on p.283 of the paperback, where it states that Huldyl Rauthur "was a better crafter of new spells than Kurthryn, and they both knew it. For all that, Kurthryn outranked him. The war wizards were funny that way; a lot of enforced teaching and learning of humility went on..." This is a clear and unambiguous statement that Kurthryn outranks Huldyl - there's no uncertainty in either wizard. True, they got along well and Huldyl didn't show any signs of resenting Kurthryn's rank, but there was no uncertainty about it either. Ed himself portrays a clear sense of relative ranking. I know he's said elsewhere that there are no formal titles of rank except for alarphons, but this scene clearly depicts a well-defined sense of relative ranking even without titles.

Also, there is this cite from Jim Lowder's novel Crusade, on p.227 of the paperback. "A more pressing dilemma was the command of the War Wizards, which would now have to be given to another mage. The king knew the choice would not be difficult to make, for the War Wizards had a strict hierarchy. The next ranking mage would simply take over as commander." Again, this is a direct statement that the institution has a "strict hierarchy", which necessasrily means some kind of organization, and a clearly and unambiguously defined sense of the relative ranking of war wizards even without specific rank titles.

I know that how things work in Ed's personal Realms is different from the published lore, but both published lore - some of it written by Ed himself - and my own sense of believability tell me that the War Wizards simply have to have some kind of internal organization.

Jerry Davis
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Ulrik Wolfsbane
Seeker

New Zealand
27 Posts

Posted - 11 Jan 2005 :  08:06:06  Show Profile  Visit Ulrik Wolfsbane's Homepage  Click to see Ulrik Wolfsbane's MSN Messenger address Send Ulrik Wolfsbane a Private Message
Jerryd, despite my dislike of both Cormyr and wizards in general I wanted to agree with the point(s) you have made. The War Wizards as presented in both novels and game products (Volo's Guide to Cormyr) are PRECISE. They manage more spying, prying and general evesdropping (one of the reasons I dislike Cormyr so much. I can't imagine adventurers even breathing in Cormyr prior to Nalavara's War, let alone bear arms without some wizard appearing out of thin air and placing them under arrest. More wars and rebellions please!) in more detail and over a far larger area than a modern Police force ten times it's size. This MUST equal organization and bureaucracy, not just on a large, strategic level, but on a small tactical level as well.

'There is little more satisfying in life than stuffing a wizards own severed fingers down his throat, one by one, until he chokes' (Ulrik Wolfsbane, warrior of the Red Tiger Uthgardt).

Crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentations of their women!
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The Hooded One
Lady Herald of Realmslore

5043 Posts

Posted - 11 Jan 2005 :  17:19:18  Show Profile  Visit The Hooded One's Homepage Send The Hooded One a Private Message
Hello, all. Ed replies (with assistance!) to Jerryd and Ulrik about the War Wizards of Cormyr:



Now, Jerry, none of that beating the straw man stuff. You take my words and extend them into your own conclusion, thus:

“So, in short, the organization of the War Wizards is that Vangerdahast is in charge normally, Laspeera is in charge when Vangey's not around, and other than that there's no organization at all - it's just a bunch of wizards doing what they're told?”

That’s NOT what I said. All the words after “not around” are your addition entirely. You’re assuming wizards (WIZARDS, Jerry!) are timorous or even half-witted robot-like fodder, who can do nothing they haven’t explicitly been told to do. More than that: you’re assuming War Wizards of Cormyr, a subset of wizards who’ve given up the traditional fierce (in some individuals, paranoid) independence of those who work with the Art in order to serve a country in an organization where they will have to take orders, will do nothing (or can’t perform) without a strict hierarchy. You obviously don’t think much of their individual competence, despite saying they “may be highly competent.”
However, I didn’t say they lacked a hierarchy.
I said that (with the exceptions of Vangey and now Caladnei, Laspeera, the Chair of the College of War Wizards now filled [sans titles!] by the four senior War Wizards Vangey appointed as his replacements, and the alarphons) War Wizards don’t have FORMAL RANKS AND THEREFORE TITLES: in short, that they’re not like modern real-world militaries or bureaucracies in formally pigeonholing every member of the organization.
Which in turn means that a Purple Dragon of such-and-such a rank, or a noble of Cormyr holding a particular title, can’t determine if they “outrank” a specific War Wizard, and so can’t give orders to that War Wizard on such a basis: an endless source of frustration very familiar to The Hooded One, the rest of my ‘home campaign’ players, and dozens of gamers who’ve played in my charity and RPGA events at GenCons down the years.
I specifically said (to quote from my own earlier post about the four old War Wizards now chairing the College: “They act as ‘chairman’ without having any official titles, just pay raises and everyone" [[by which I meant every War Wizard, of course]] "being firmly told where they now rank in the chain of command, and what authority they now wield.”) that the War Wizards DO have an internal hierarchy that’s very well understood (by War Wizards). They just don’t have a military chain of command with set pay scales (War Wizards get merit increases awarded on a personal, confidential basis) and the sort of discipline that depends on “salute the uniform,” wherein any (stranger) colonel wearing the right rank insignia can give orders to any sergeant or private he meets.
I agree that large organizations can’t function without some sort of internal order. As for the size of the War Wizards, I’d put membership in the War Wizards, at its height, as less than six hundred (not counting on-probation trainees). Post-Death of the Dragon, with all the battle losses, it’s probably a little more than half that (with a far higher proportion of on-probation trainees or “novices”).

Now, to answer your specific point about Vangerdahast stamping out all tendencies among the War Wizards to form cliques, I gave his reason for doing so, but you dismissed it by saying the alarphons exist to root out the disloyal. Quite true: I was illustrating how Vangey’s distrust of almost everyone except himself, and his cynical but shrewd opinion of organizations (gleaned through dealing with the Royal Court every day) led him to try to head off the formation of cliques: because he sees the self-serving ends it leads to (courtiers habitually conceal information from superiors to make themselves look good, and Vangey wants every War Wizard to feel that they can go straight to him, and “we’re all in this together,” both for morale reasons to avoid misinformation and concealing things). You raise the point that I showed in Elminster's Daughter that “such problems exist anyway,” which seems to advance an argument akin to: if something can’t accomplish goals perfectly all the time, that something should never be attempted. (Okay, if I buy that, then no military or government bureaucracy need ever exist: why prepare for any warfare, or to run any country? Imperfections will inevitably arise, so everyone involved is wasting their time, then, right?) If your goal here was to point out that Vangey was failing to stamp out disloyalty or independent thinking merely by shattering cliques, I quite agree. Of course he was failing; to try to deny human nature is like attacking the advancing tide on a beach with a flamethrower and declaring victory (before you get submerged). :}
I was trying to point out in Elminster’s Daughter (among a lot of other things :}) that Vangerdahast tries to APPEAR all-powerful, and has accomplished much by reputation alone, but is very far from absolutely ruling Cormyr. Before the events of that novel he’s the true ruler of Cormyr, yes, more than anyone, but even with its established laws and social order, no one person can truly make the Forest Kingdom just (and only) what he or she wants it to be.

You cite my chess-playing scene as a clear and unambiguous statement that Kurthryn outranks Huldyl. Quite true: for that specific guardian assignment they’re engaged in when we see them, Kurthryn has been put “over” Huldyl by Vangey, despite Huldyl’s great skill with magic. Various guardian assignments have been their primary duty for quite some time, in fact (as THO will attest: using those two guys was something of an in-joke for my original players’ benefit, as the Knights have repeatedly run into these two War Wizards barring their ways as they’ve tried to snoop around Court and Palace, over the years) because they’re both patient men, and Vangey’s seen and exploited that, so he’s put them together into a unit wherein Kurthryn outranks Huldyl.

I quite understand how Jim Lowder’s text from Crusade would give the wrong impression. It’s not worded how I would have said it, but arises from this: Vangey has told all of the royals (and verbally revised this, many times, over the years) an ‘order of precedence’ for the War Wizards “in case anything should happen to him” (which, at that point in Crusade, Azoun IV believes to be the case). All of the Royal Court, not just the Obarskyrs, knows that Laspeera is “Number 2” anyway. What Azoun has is a verbal list of the next five people (in descending order) THAT VANGERDAHAST WOULD WANT AS HEAD OF THE WAR WIZARDS (for the good of the realm, remember, not Azoun’s personal convenience, so it’s presented to the king as a fait accompli, so his “anointing” of someone will end up with the someone of Vangey’s choice, even though Vangey’s not on the scene to make that choice). In other words, Vangey did NOT tell Azoun “if I fall, go to Laspeera, but if she’s already dead, then your best bet is XXXX.” Instead, he gave a strict hierarchy AND ALLOWED AZOUN TO BELIEVE that the War Wizards themselves all know it, and merely keep it secret from outsiders.
This is true - - and untrue. They DO have a strict hierarchy, but only Vangey and Laspeera can clearly see it all, at any given time. Everyone else sees only parts of it, and knows their own ‘rank’ only for specific tasks, or in specific situations, or as it applies to particular fellow War Wizards.

Ulrik (and your own Uthgardt reply will appear fairly soon, sir!) makes the very good point that War Wizard operations as portrayed in published Realmslore must equal organization “not just on a large, strategic level, but on a small tactical level as well.” True. However, I disagree with Ulrik on just how precise the War Wizards really are (by reputation and appearance, yes, in actual accomplishments, often no), and I disagree with his presuming that bureaucracy must be part of it.
This is where magic trumps real-world offices and secretaries: precise information can be passed on without stacks of memos outsiders can peek at. And the secret of much of the effectiveness and precision achieved by the War Wizards is information: they KNOW who lives where, who does what on a daily basis, where a particular creek or sewer drains to, and so on (because one War Wizard can quickly pass that lore to another who’s on the spot).
Ulrik himself puts his finger on the reason for the War Wizards being as precise as they manage to be: “all that spying.”

Let me now quote from the secret files of Garen Thal, Candlekeep’s own expert on Cormyr:

The War Wizards have no outwardly-discernable hierarchy of command. There are simply Caladnei (their commander), Laspeera (her lieutenant) and the War Wizards. The internal investigators of the War Wizards, alarphons hold the only formal rank within the war wizards. This permits them to ask questions and engage in magical interrogation of their own number in order to ferret out treachery and learn whether other members of the brotherhood have not been exactly forthcoming with information important to the protection of the realm, either for treachery or their own stupidity.

This is not to say that the War Wizards do not have their own superiors or that they answer to no one. On the contrary, nearly each War Wizard has at least two or three comrades (in addition to Caladnei or Laspeera) that are senior to themselves in authority, able to issue commands, demand information and reports, or change assignments. Such authority shifts constantly for all but the most senior and trusted War Wizards--though less so than it formerly did under Vangerdahast--with the Mage Royal personally informing War Wizards that their roles had changed, or even been reversed. Each War Wizard has only a single superior to which he must report at any given time (again, discounting Caladnei or Laspeera), so information has a path, however convoluted, to the Royal Magician's ears. War Wizards are also provided with a single senior War Wizard to whom they must report should their current "commander" go missing or fall in battle; should this alternative superior not be available, report of this lack is made directly to Caladnei.
. . .
This leaves us with the uncertainty necessary to keep the War Wizards a more secure organization, with an ever-shifting, magnets-and-iron-filings approach to authority and commanders. Because true authority is passing (except among ranked or titled War Wizards), the War Wizards, for the sake of both altruism and sheer common sense, use their authority to better the realm, the War Wizards, and one another (in that order), rather than abusing it against a comrade who might become the authority tenday next. Of course, exceptions do occur, and it is those exceptions--greedy War Wizards turning rebellious in the mode of Luthax, or abusing an "inferior" to create a future enemy of the Realm--that make the institutionalization of rank a bad idea in the first place.

(end quotation, and my thanks to Garen Thal for those timely words). As usually Garen’s hit all the nails squarely on all the heads.
I’m not trying to make you think the War Wizards are disorganized, Jerry, I’m trying to stop you writing up a chain of command as you did for the Purple Dragons. It was and is appropriate for Cormyr’s military, but just doesn’t fit the War Wizards - - as can be seen by a careful reading of Realmslore published to date.
To let slip a little internal information for once: it was agreed between Books and Games when Jeff and I were writing Cormyr: A Novel, and reaffirmed (with different Books and Games personnel) when Troy and I were doing Death of the Dragon, that for maximum freedom in fiction writing and game design (and yes, for individual Dungeon Masters, too) that the War Wizards were going to stay as mysterious as possible - - just as they are to Cormyreans. We’ll give endless internal glimpses, but we would NOT do, for instance, “a War Wizard novel.”
To shift it back to a real-world analogy one more time: if you go ahead and clearly outline a hierarchy of invented rank-titles for the War Wizards (and create these “administrative and advisory boards” you speak of), it would be very much as if you, as a writer in the West during the Cold War, detailed the command structure of the KGB in print. I’m not now speaking of sinister repercussions for you, I mean that in doing so you would rob the KGB of much of their allure, capacity to awaken fear, and mystery (through being so much of ‘the unknown’ and so little specified, counted, and laid bare for all to see).
It’s a very human need to delineate, nail down details, ferret out the truth, quantify, and so understand. I sympathize.
Yet in this case, I can’t agree.
To put things another way: I’m sure if I started a thread here at Candlekeep entitled “Ed Greenwood Gives Plot Summaries Of All Realms Novels WotC Will Publish For The Next Ten Years” A LOT of scribes would click on it excitedly, but if I actually posted what the title implied, I’d be largely ruining their enjoyment of that decade-worth of books. Part of the fun is NOT knowing everything. Right?



So saith Ed. Boy, could I tell War Wizard stories! I won’t, mind you, unless Ed gives the okay, because some of them are . . . shocking. Yes, that’s the word: shocking. Let me just drop one hint: FiXXXXXXno no I can’t. Ed will slay me. Though, to think again, that might be fun . . .
love to all,
THO




Edited by - The Hooded One on 11 Jan 2005 17:29:18
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Gerath Hoan
Learned Scribe

United Kingdom
152 Posts

Posted - 11 Jan 2005 :  17:50:05  Show Profile Send Gerath Hoan a Private Message
Although it wasn't my question, thank you so much Ed and THO for this titbit about Cormyr... still my fave part of the Realms and this is the sort of info i very much appreciate.

Still the interesting question to me, because it took Vangy (a personal fave of mine) out of the limelight, and which was somewhat addressed in your Realms of Shadow short story and in Elminster's Daughter is; Precisely why is Caladnei Vangy's chosen successor and not Laspera? Can you shed any light on this for us?

Hope you can get on top of that huge stack of Realmslore requests you must have every day so you can get a break!

GH


Knight of the Order of the Keen Eye - Granted by Ed Greenwood, 30th January 2005

Edited by - Gerath Hoan on 11 Jan 2005 17:57:38
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