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Lord Karsus
Great Reader

USA
2877 Posts

Posted - 01 Jan 2007 :  23:27:26  Show Profile  Send Lord Karsus an AOL message Send Lord Karsus a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Steven Schend
Well, I've not posted the elven glossary as it's a mess and it only makes sense to me and Eric and Ed, most often. If I find the time to clean it up and make it pretty, I'll see what I can do about making it available.



-Hey, you don't have to clean it up and make it all nice to me. I'll be able to figure it out...Hell, I have plenty of spare time- I'll clean it up for you! That's one of the perks of being a Park Ranger in the winter!

-And a Happy New Year to you, Sage Schend.

(A Tri-Partite Arcanist Who Has Forgotten More Than Most Will Ever Know)

Elves of Faerūn
Vol I- The Elves of Faerūn
Vol. III- Spells of the Elves
Vol. VI- Mechanical Compendium
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Wandering_mage
Senior Scribe

688 Posts

Posted - 02 Jan 2007 :  00:52:36  Show Profile  Visit Wandering_mage's Homepage Send Wandering_mage a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Dagnirion, I envy your job. You are the real life ranger level 1.

Happy New Year Steve!

Illum
The Wandering Mage
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Lord Karsus
Great Reader

USA
2877 Posts

Posted - 02 Jan 2007 :  01:50:15  Show Profile  Send Lord Karsus an AOL message Send Lord Karsus a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Wandering_mage

Dagnirion, I envy your job. You are the real life ranger level 1.




(A Tri-Partite Arcanist Who Has Forgotten More Than Most Will Ever Know)

Elves of Faerūn
Vol I- The Elves of Faerūn
Vol. III- Spells of the Elves
Vol. VI- Mechanical Compendium
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Penknight
Senior Scribe

USA
536 Posts

Posted - 10 Jan 2007 :  04:56:53  Show Profile Send Penknight a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Hello again, Mr. Schend. I have a 2nd Edition question for you, if it's all right. Braerindra, the Watchnorn of Castle Cormanthor has a spell she created called mithrilskin, and I was just wondering if you could give me (and all of us) some information on the spell in 2nd Edition terms. And also, in 3e, would the spell be considered an epic spell, or just high level? Thank you very much for your time, sir.

Telethian Phoenix
Pathfinder Reference Document
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Steven Schend
Forgotten Realms Designer & Author

USA
1631 Posts

Posted - 11 Jan 2007 :  20:25:02  Show Profile  Visit Steven Schend's Homepage  Send Steven Schend a Yahoo! Message Send Steven Schend a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Lemernis

Thanks, feel better.

quote:
"Surpise" is an ancient Amnian greeting shared among friends to signal the need for the host to provide food and sustenance immediately upon the arrival of said friends.

"Beer is proof that God loves us and wishes us to be happy." Benjamin Franklin


This reminds me--I think I have compiled descriptions of just about every wine, ale, beer, cider, and liquor in the entire Realms.


It's been a while since I opened my Aurora's Guide, wherein I wrote the beers section (and Julia Martin and Ed conspired on the wines, IIRC). Wish I could remember what I said was available where....

quote:

Any thoughts about what sorts of foods and drink the good folk of Amn like to indluge in, given their great wealth and expensive tastes? I know their prurient appetites are sated at such places as the Scrimitar (or were before the war anyway).


In public settings, they'd always go for the most expensive imports, just to show they have rarified tastes and the ability to buy the most expensive stuff on the menu (even if it's the equivalent of Impiltran haggis or something).

The Scimitar probably has foods and drinks available from nearly anywhere across the Realms that could reach them. I'd say nearly anything you'd want from Faerun and/or Maztica would be findable there, and perhaps in smaller amounts, foodstuffs from Kara-Tur (via the Sea of Fallen Stars) or Zakhara (a longer trip than even from Maztica).

Suggestion--One of the newest crazes to sweep the upper classes of Amnian society just before the wars began was "hot foods" i.e. putting as much hot pepper as one could into a dish. With the recent acquisition of Maztican chiles and arharlen peppers (think our world's habaneros) in large agricultural concerns, these dried spices are increasing the heat of many old standard Amnian dishes.

Taklamth loosely translates as "spiced bread" and is a baked pita-bread like concoction covered with peppers and scattered with local garlic and onions (all finely diced). The vegetables are cooked stew-like in watered-down red wine until reduced to a paste-like substance, which is then spread on hot, fresh bread. Younger, more foolish Amnians like to spread this thickly, add an extra sprinkle of dried arharlenna, and chomp merrily. The first to reach for the wine or water loses the bets or is stuck with the bill.

How's that for something new for the Realms?

quote:

But otherwise, at Amnian parties for example, what sorts of things do Amnians enjoy for entertainment? I assume they have music and dancing, food, drink, etc. Gift-giving, I would think. But anything else novel, i.e., distinctly Amnian?



Party entertainment in Amn? All of what you've said above rings true, especially the gift-giving (which is either done as people enter the party or as an elaborate ceremony between initial entertainments and the main course of a dinner--Gifts are never given as people are leaving, since that would rob the giver/host the chance to be thanked copiously during the fete.).

Something distinctly Amnian.....hmmm......Well, if you were rich enough and wanted to risk the scandal, hiring wizards to cast richly detailed illusions of Amnian legends and histories would make you the talk of any town. And you'd have to be rich enough to buy off everyone's silence in violating Council rules in not reporting magical activities.

More likely, Amnians might be importing people from Maztica to perform native dances and/or mock combats with people dressed as jaguar or eagle knights. Whether or not there's any truth in what is dressed up as "authentic native dances and rituals from the New World" is irrelevant--so little is known or understood about Maztica, other than its economic benefits and its exports in food or gold. Amnians and most Faerunians who have not gone west will swallow nearly any rumors or skits played up as real until they learn otherwise. And the number of sages around who might argue against these things are few (and getting fewer, as those who speak out against some of the more popular/richer troupes performing these skits are found dead soon after).

In other words, these dances and entertainments from the West are about as real and realistic as Buffalo Bill's Wild West shows. They're meant to be entertainment far more than history or information or truth.

Hope that helps, Lemernis.

Steven

PS: On the matter of those sages or people knowledgeable on Maztica, there is not yet any big market in learning or understanding much about the native cultures, but there are sages and worshipers of Deneir and Oghma in New Waterdeep, Waterdeep, and Tethyr hard at work freeing Maztican slaves and getting them to share their stories. They're writing down and recording much of what has always been an oral tradition, so there will (i.e. by the late 1370s) some books holding the real information both about the peoples of the western continent but also what really went on regarding the Amnian invasion and conquering. Of course there will be accounts and "historical tomes" cosponsored by the Council or the Church of Helm that whitewash the bad and make them look to be people bringing civilization to savages....and these are the people who control Amn, so the real accounts will most likely languish in libraries far away from where the church of Helm or the Council can demand "such foul lies be burned."

And thus we'll have conflicting stories on the history of the past 20 years...and depending on who you are, what books you can afford, or who you listen to, your view of the west and the southlands will be wholly colored different. Fun, huh?

For current projects and general natter, see www.steveneschend.com

Edited by - Steven Schend on 11 Jan 2007 20:41:33
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Steven Schend
Forgotten Realms Designer & Author

USA
1631 Posts

Posted - 11 Jan 2007 :  20:31:05  Show Profile  Visit Steven Schend's Homepage  Send Steven Schend a Yahoo! Message Send Steven Schend a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Penknight

Hello again, Mr. Schend. I have a 2nd Edition question for you, if it's all right. Braerindra, the Watchnorn of Castle Cormanthor has a spell she created called mithrilskin, and I was just wondering if you could give me (and all of us) some information on the spell in 2nd Edition terms. And also, in 3e, would the spell be considered an epic spell, or just high level? Thank you very much for your time, sir.



Um....did I write her up/create her in Cormanthyr or did Ed in his Elminster novel? In either case, I'd never developed the spell other than to hint it was a more advanced spell beyond (but very similar in use to) stoneskin. In either 2nd or 3rd or 3.5 edition, I'd venture to guess it's at least two levels higher than stoneskin, but logic dictates it's probably 8th or 9th level, rather than an epic spell. In terms of how it protects, compare the hardness DCs of Stone vs Mithril and then apply those differences into the spell.

Don't know if that helps, but it's the sort of logic I'd use were I having to actually develop the spell into a supplement.

Steven

For current projects and general natter, see www.steveneschend.com
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Penknight
Senior Scribe

USA
536 Posts

Posted - 12 Jan 2007 :  00:41:39  Show Profile Send Penknight a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Steven Schend

quote:
Originally posted by Penknight

Hello again, Mr. Schend. I have a 2nd Edition question for you, if it's all right. Braerindra, the Watchnorn of Castle Cormanthor has a spell she created called mithrilskin, and I was just wondering if you could give me (and all of us) some information on the spell in 2nd Edition terms. And also, in 3e, would the spell be considered an epic spell, or just high level? Thank you very much for your time, sir.



Um....did I write her up/create her in Cormanthyr or did Ed in his Elminster novel? In either case, I'd never developed the spell other than to hint it was a more advanced spell beyond (but very similar in use to) stoneskin. In either 2nd or 3rd or 3.5 edition, I'd venture to guess it's at least two levels higher than stoneskin, but logic dictates it's probably 8th or 9th level, rather than an epic spell. In terms of how it protects, compare the hardness DCs of Stone vs Mithril and then apply those differences into the spell.

Don't know if that helps, but it's the sort of logic I'd use were I having to actually develop the spell into a supplement.

Steven

I'm pretty sure that Mr. Greenwood came up with her, as she was in Elminster in Myth Drannor, but since you helped to write Cormanthyr Empire of Elves, I thought that you might have some info on it. I was really surprised that that book as well as The Fall of Myth Drannor didn't have that spell in it. I am getting ready to run a 2nd Edition campaign that will also include The Ruins of Myth Drannor, and I am wanting to use that spell as part of a hoard of treasure that is found if/when the PCs defeat the female red dragon.

Telethian Phoenix
Pathfinder Reference Document
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Marc
Senior Scribe

618 Posts

Posted - 18 Jan 2007 :  07:53:44  Show Profile Send Marc a Private Message  Reply with Quote
If you haven't noticed I've statted her here (it's not perfect but ...) http://boards1.wizards.com/showpost.php?p=10638021&postcount=4

.
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Steven Schend
Forgotten Realms Designer & Author

USA
1631 Posts

Posted - 19 Jan 2007 :  10:32:56  Show Profile  Visit Steven Schend's Homepage  Send Steven Schend a Yahoo! Message Send Steven Schend a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Maruluthu Mistrivvin

If you haven't noticed I've statted her here (it's not perfect but ...) http://boards1.wizards.com/showpost.php?p=10638021&postcount=4



Oh sure..... Bounce this in here so I find it when I'm not sleeping....but WotC disables its boards at night.... Grr, argh....

Steven

For current projects and general natter, see www.steveneschend.com
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Lemernis
Senior Scribe

378 Posts

Posted - 19 Jan 2007 :  14:07:20  Show Profile  Visit Lemernis's Homepage Send Lemernis a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Steven, the details on the Amnian party scene are great. The taklamth/arharlenn eating contests is an especially fun touch (especially when the rarest and most expensive drink is involved). The Maztican ceremonial performances sounds like the sort of thing that could end up soon replaced by some new fad, but it serves to bring Maztican characters into the gameworld. My sense is that bardic performances in general would be in high demand for parties. I.e., there'd be a lot of work (and competition) for performers of all types. Musicians, dancers, storytellers, singers, acrobats, exotic beasts trained to perform, jugglers, etc.

And I like the idea of gift-giving punctuating the party at intervals throughout the evening. One of the things I've been working on for the Exodus gameworld is compiling 100 exotic, unique gift items from around the globe which are imported mostly into Athkatla and distributed throughout the nation. (100 items to start, with more to be added over time.) Given Amnian culture's mode of 'conspiscuous consumption', status elevating gift items should be one of the pillars of the Amnian economy. So gift giving is something we intend to feature very prominently. A lot of player-generated quest material can arise simply from trying to obtain a gift item that someone covets.

You mentioned sages in Amn, and the whole subject of what constitutes a sage in Amn strikes me as fun material.

Regarding scholarship in Amn, I noticed the following detail from Empires of the Sands:

quote:
Amn has been a center of trade and commerce for as long as anyone can remember. Oral traditions handed down from father to son tend to support the theory that Amn has been a trade center for at least 800 years. Unfortunately, written records are difficult to find and incomplete. It seems the typical Amn citizen was too busy trying to make money to write down what was going on. Amn has always been more interested in the present and the future than the past, and this makes an accurate history difficult to nail down. The best records, the business papers of the oldest trading companies, are jealously guarded. It seems the fear of revealing "trade secrets" is stronger than the call of history; as a result, the average citizen knows very little about Amn history.


Which seems very consistent with what you have in Lands of Intrigue, eg,

quote:
"Ask an Amnian to recite his country's history, and you'll get a stare as blank as the mind of a zombie. In their relentless pursuit of all things monetary, Amnians have forgotten their past to live for the present. The only history that mutters to them are the family annals telling how each merchant house got where it is today. Instead of honoring its war heroes or great mages of the past, Amn celebrates deal-makers, accountants, and those Waukeen favors. Pity them."

--King Haedrak III of Tethyr



and

quote:
Education and knowledge, physical prowess, artistic talent, and other signs of success known elsewhere in the Realms are unimportant here, unless they serve to gain monetary wealth. If a person with such skills does not use them to gain money and power, an Amnian considers that person a failure or a fool. Even the idea of performing hard work and constant labor to gain wealth is met with a touch of contempt, since the pursuit of money is seen primarily as a task of negotiation and strategy rather than a chore of exertion and dedication.


And since Amnian culture is also given to gossip, inuendo, and intrigue, one can only imagine the sort of misinformation that circulates about the world beyond its borders. (And within its border for that matter.)

With the lack of written records in Amn, "scholarship" must amount to a sort of self-styled expertise in the "lore" of various subjects that is handed down orally, and probably has little to no basis in fact. I would think that in order to be taken seriously, such "sages" need high Charisma and relatively high Intelligence (verbal skills), i.e., they at least need to give the appearance that they know what they're talking about. It could offer an interesting and really fun way for a character to be 'connected' to the powerful merchant families and/or Council officials in every town.

I can also imagine the exasperation of serious scholars from other lands who happen to be visiting or passing through.

I see Amn being attractive to serious historians from abroad precisely because of the challenges of actually uncovering its actual history (and with ruins to explore like the lost dwarven kingdom of Xothaerin, Lost Xandar, and the Minsorann ruins). But I would think any bonfide scholarship from a foriegner is met with very stern opposition from Amn's resident "scholars," who will typically be well respected and highly connected in the community. Even to the point that visiting scholars are harrassed by authorities for the tiniest infractions of the law, or "accidents" happen to them.

Any ideas or suggestions on the subject of scholarship (or at least 'sage' status) in Amn?

Also, I have a further question about the monster races in Amn. I noticed that ogres outnumber hill giants in Sythillis' army by a whopping 100:1 ratio (4800:45). There's no indication in the description of the Sythillisian invasion of 1370 that Sythillis would have been keeping a large contingent of hill giants in reserve in the Small Teeth. Sythillis assembled and trained his army within the caverns and tunnels of the Small Teeth within a 14 year period. Even had the ogres been attempting to destroy their larger cousins in the Small Teeth region prior to Sythillis coming along, 14 years seems sufficient time enough for the hill giant population to have recovered at least a little. (And if the ogres had been at war with hill giants that would be very atypical to begin with--Giantcraft and the Slayer's Guides note that ogres are typically subservient to giants.) Sythillis used the Skullgnasher tribe of hill giant to wage periodic attacks on Hillfort Torbold as a diversion in the years preceding the invasion. So Sythillis seems clearly to have a place for hill giants in his army.

45 soliders in Sythillis' army means a total community of what? about 100? With numbers that low they would be almost on the verge of dying out in the region. I was thinking of trying to explain the strikingly low number of hill giants by writing a backstory wherein the hill giants had, about two or three generation in the past, done something to severely anger the giant god of fertility, Annam.

Although Annam remains uninvolved in mortal affairs he does reveal himself to his clerics at least once in their lives through a dream or vision. So I think this history could work. Though it's a bit of a challenge to think of a transgression so egregious that it would gotten Annam's attention and incurred his wrath. But I do like that this explanation sets up quest material for the hill giants to regain their fertility. And it should also provide an unsual dynamic between the hill giants and the other monsters races, Cyricists, and Amnian slaves, in Sythillisian/Cyricist occupied Esmeltaran. There's a lot of cruelty among those various factions. But who in their right mind would want to set off (an already explosive) hill giant about a touchy subject like that?

One of the things I really appreciate about your writing approach in Lands of Intrigue is that you at times deliberately leave blanks for the DM to fill in, to add his or her own creative touches. And that is one of the funnest parts about DMing for me. But anyway, any other suggestions about what might account for the low hill giant numbers in the region?
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Rinonalyrna Fathomlin
Great Reader

USA
7106 Posts

Posted - 20 Jan 2007 :  00:26:29  Show Profile  Visit Rinonalyrna Fathomlin's Homepage Send Rinonalyrna Fathomlin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Lemernis

Which seems very consistent with what you have in Lands of Intrigue, eg,

quote:
"Ask an Amnian to recite his country's history, and you'll get a stare as blank as the mind of a zombie. In their relentless pursuit of all things monetary, Amnians have forgotten their past to live for the present. The only history that mutters to them are the family annals telling how each merchant house got where it is today. Instead of honoring its war heroes or great mages of the past, Amn celebrates deal-makers, accountants, and those Waukeen favors. Pity them."

--King Haedrak III of Tethyr





That's not a neutral statement of fact, though, it's editorializing. It's a bit ironic that you are talking about the weaknesses of Amnian scholarship, but this quote from King Haedrak (the "Scholar King") on that very subject is not scholarly at all, but rather his opinion--something scholars and historians aren't supposed to inject into their work. It's a troubling and hypocritical quote from a character I otherwise like.

Besides, I see nothing inherently wrong with celebrating those who create financial prosperity over "war heroes" (people who killed other people in political disputes--"might makes right" on the battlefield). Again, this is where there is a "culture clash" and Haedrak is assuming people of a different culture are ignorant and backward because they have different values than he does.

"Instead of asking why we sleep, it might make sense to ask why we wake. Perchance we live to dream. From that perspective, the sea of troubles we navigate in the workaday world might be the price we pay for admission to another night in the world of dreams."
--Richard Greene (letter to Time)

Edited by - Rinonalyrna Fathomlin on 20 Jan 2007 00:37:31
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Lemernis
Senior Scribe

378 Posts

Posted - 20 Jan 2007 :  04:42:56  Show Profile  Visit Lemernis's Homepage Send Lemernis a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Yeah, I'm sure Haedrak's comment is biased. My guess is that it happens to be more or less on the money, though. And I say that because it does closely mirror what's stated in Empires of the Sands. Steven's inclusion of the quote by Haedrak felt to me like nod toward the Empires of the Sands' statements about the subject. (To be taken with a grain of salt because it's by a Tethyrian, but ironically accurate.)

From all indications that I can see, it doesn't really seem like Amnian culture would value true scholarship. Everything I've suggested beyond that is just my musings, or extrapolations, though, no question. I'm certainly not trying to posit it as Realms "fact," I hope I'm not giving the wrong impression about that.

For me it would be fun if the "sages" of the land were something less that genuine authorities on the anything but the histories of the machinations of Amn's merchant houses. And even that material would be questionable. I'd enjoy it if they were prone to misinformation about just about everything else. I can see them rising to the position of sage because they stroke the egos of Amn's wealthy upper crust who hire them. I..e., gaining credibility as suckups who tell their patrons the stories they wish to hear--it certainly wouldn't hurt to make their patrons' family histories sound impressive. And to declare Amnian culture the pinnacle of civilization, with only barbarians inhabiting the rest of the world. Etc.

It's not to say that Amn doesn't have accomplishments to be legitmately proud of. In the span of less than a millenium they established arguably the most thriving, civilized, wealthy, and peaceful land in Faerun. (At least until Sythillis came along.)

Edited by - Lemernis on 20 Jan 2007 12:22:11
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Jorkens
Great Reader

Norway
2949 Posts

Posted - 20 Jan 2007 :  08:14:40  Show Profile Send Jorkens a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Yes, but there will a great difference between a lands ideals and the reality for most people. Even though a person would not be respected for feats of arms, knowledge etc. there would still be great variations outside of the leading circles. A quick look at the "chivalric" age and the Victorian times would show this. True, the sage that catered to the tastes of the rulers would get economic compensations, but further down the ladder you would find sages that had to depend on their reputations for more or less truths. As one would find plenty of fighters who had not had the possibility of being merchants and traders.

Life would be harder for anyone outside of the moneymaking circles, but the road of sage, scribe, warrior etc is still better than being a sailor or peasant.
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Lemernis
Senior Scribe

378 Posts

Posted - 20 Jan 2007 :  13:08:37  Show Profile  Visit Lemernis's Homepage Send Lemernis a Private Message  Reply with Quote
There's a bit of subtle irony to my posts on this subject actually, if anyone is catching it. (And it wasn't intended which makes it more amusing.)

Anyway, the guess I've made about what Amnian scholarship might tend to be like (i.e., in most cases, not all) is based on what we know of the culture, and its values. There is a superficiality and amorality to the culture that runs through it like a red thread. Almost everything in life is seen simply a means to an end toward greater wealth and social status. Traits crucial to good scholarship, i.e., objectivity, truthfulness, personal integrity, hard work, etc., aren't intrinsically valued.

Where I do see a sage feeling the strongest need to be accurate is regarding anything related to espionage. Near as I can tell, Amn has quite a number of spies running around, what with all of its various factions, and competition between rival houses and Council offices, and so forth. So when the lord of a merchant house needs accurate info on a foreign land he's in negotations with, for example, the pressure is going to be on the poor 'sage' who all too often has no access to any writings and has never ventured beyond Amn. The homegrown Amnian sage has learned tales of foreign lands and peoples via an oral tradition, and in Amn the truth is so easily corrupted. And Amn contemptuously regards all lands outside its borders (with the exception of Calimshan, the home of Amn's forebears) as 'barbarian'--so the garden variety Amnian "sage" probably would not be inclined to travel abroad to broaden his or her knowledge.

I could however envision some sages in Amn understanding all this all too well. Under the guise of buisness trips, they'd regularly embark on trips abroad with the actual intent to study at the great libraries abroad, etc. They would likely be in the minority, and they would still have to season the truth with the standard distortions of reality to their socially elite patrons, even though they themselves know differently. I can also see the smartest patrons in Amn (mainly the merchant family lords) recognizing the need for accurate information about a foreign culture in their trade negotiations. So scholars who are the real deal might be worth their weight in gold.

Edited by - Lemernis on 20 Jan 2007 13:13:09
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Rinonalyrna Fathomlin
Great Reader

USA
7106 Posts

Posted - 20 Jan 2007 :  22:25:53  Show Profile  Visit Rinonalyrna Fathomlin's Homepage Send Rinonalyrna Fathomlin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Lemernis
Yeah, I'm sure Haedrak's comment is biased. My guess is that it happens to be more or less on the money, though. And I say that because it does closely mirror what's stated in Empires of the Sands. Steven's inclusion of the quote by Haedrak felt to me like nod toward the Empires of the Sands' statements about the subject. (To be taken with a grain of salt because it's by a Tethyrian, but ironically accurate.)




Well, it could be accurate if one was to take out all the editorializing--otherwise it comes off as though Haedrak (a.k.a. Lhaeo) has an agenda of some sort. The use of the word "zombie" is to drive home the point that Amnians are unenlightened/uneducated and can't really think for themselves, and therefore are to be "pitied" for being the backwards people that they are. As I said, to me this is culture clash/xenophobia, pure and simple. Like I said, I really see nothing inherently wrong about a culture placing more value on merchantile pursuits instead of the arts of war (that is, cutting people/sentient beings up with weapons--that's really what these beloved "war heroes" do) or mastery of magic. It's not inherently "backward" to follow Waukeen rather than Mystra. Yet, that is more or less what Haedrak is implying. And so, while I can concede that Amn as a nation (though not broken down to individuals) may not place much value on the study of history, I wouldn't agree that it's because "they don't honor the old war heroes and mages like the good, educated Tethyrians do". Your first quote, I would say, was much more neutral and could be considered "scholarly".

I also find that quote smug and hypocritical on several other, unrelated levels too, but I won't go into that right now because I don't want to drive us off-topic. :) Also, thank you for not taking my somewhat contrarian post personally.

Also, before you mentioned the subject of gossip and how it applies to Amn. Let's face it though--that can be found everywhere and it's pretty much human nature to dish dirt on other people (we want to know as much as possible about those people we are like to associate with, or effect our lives, or simply those we think about often). I'm not really sure that has too much to do with scholarship as a whole. My own country, the USA, has plenty of high-minded, erudite scholarship and rampant, primal acts of dishing dirt (especially about politicians and celebrities--and I hear other countries such as Britian are very similiar in this respect). Gossip, scholarship, and editorializing can all co-exist with each other in the same place. Also, upon further thought Amn doesn't seem all that different from my own country--it is highly capitalistic (and I don't see anything inherently wrong with that), and unfortunately many people won't consider you to be successful unless you've attained financial and social success regardless of what your true talent may be. So if such a culture is "bad", I guess my culture is "bad" too.


"Instead of asking why we sleep, it might make sense to ask why we wake. Perchance we live to dream. From that perspective, the sea of troubles we navigate in the workaday world might be the price we pay for admission to another night in the world of dreams."
--Richard Greene (letter to Time)

Edited by - Rinonalyrna Fathomlin on 20 Jan 2007 22:29:31
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Lemernis
Senior Scribe

378 Posts

Posted - 21 Jan 2007 :  00:36:17  Show Profile  Visit Lemernis's Homepage Send Lemernis a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Hmm, I can see Tethyrians disliking Amnians because they are similar to their Calishite ancestors. Given the problems Tethyr has had with Calimshan.

I know it is stated in canon that Amn definitely regards itself as superior to other lands, regarding other peoples as barbaric. And Steven has commented recently that Amn is humanocentric and rather bigoted. As far as I know, it is actually Amnian culture that is overtly xenophobic. I'm not saying Tethry isn't also in it's own right, I'm just not clearly finding that info...

Admittedly, I'm not very knowledgeable about Tethyr, though. I just skimmed through Lands of Intrigue and Empire of the Sands, looking for specifically any mention of bitter attitudes towards Amn, and I'm not finding it...

There's clearly a dig in the quote by Haedrak, you're right. I wonder, though, if it may not be due so much to a culture clash as a longstanding economic rivarly between the two lands. Unless I'm missing something major, the two nations have maintained peaceful relations since each was founded (except for a minor naval incident in 1361). A war may well have resulted from Riatavin's and Trailstone's secession from Amn to Tethyr, but that was averted by the crisis of the Sythillisian invasion. I'm looking specifically at late 1370, btw.

Edited by - Lemernis on 21 Jan 2007 12:40:32
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Penknight
Senior Scribe

USA
536 Posts

Posted - 21 Jan 2007 :  09:08:02  Show Profile Send Penknight a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Maruluthu Mistrivvin

If you haven't noticed I've statted her here (it's not perfect but ...) http://boards1.wizards.com/showpost.php?p=10638021&postcount=4

Yes, and I really like the way you statted her out (the Penknight from the Wizard's boards is me). It's just that I am going to be running a 2nd Edition campaign soon and thought about using the mithrilskin spell, and had never seen it written out in the 2nd Edition sourcebooks. I really suck at translating over information from one edition to the next.

Telethian Phoenix
Pathfinder Reference Document
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Steven Schend
Forgotten Realms Designer & Author

USA
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Posted - 21 Jan 2007 :  19:28:03  Show Profile  Visit Steven Schend's Homepage  Send Steven Schend a Yahoo! Message Send Steven Schend a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Lemernis

Yeah, I'm sure Haedrak's comment is biased. My guess is that it happens to be more or less on the money, though. And I say that because it does closely mirror what's stated in Empires of the Sands. Steven's inclusion of the quote by Haedrak felt to me like nod toward the Empires of the Sands' statements about the subject. (To be taken with a grain of salt because it's by a Tethyrian, but ironically accurate.)

From all indications that I can see, it doesn't really seem like Amnian culture would value true scholarship. Everything I've suggested beyond that is just my musings, or extrapolations, though, no question. I'm certainly not trying to posit it as Realms "fact," I hope I'm not giving the wrong impression about that.

For me it would be fun if the "sages" of the land were something less that genuine authorities on the anything but the histories of the machinations of Amn's merchant houses. And even that material would be questionable. I'd enjoy it if they were prone to misinformation about just about everything else. I can see them rising to the position of sage because they stroke the egos of Amn's wealthy upper crust who hire them. I..e., gaining credibility as suckups who tell their patrons the stories they wish to hear--it certainly wouldn't hurt to make their patrons' family histories sound impressive. And to declare Amnian culture the pinnacle of civilization, with only barbarians inhabiting the rest of the world. Etc.

It's not to say that Amn doesn't have accomplishments to be legitmately proud of. In the span of less than a millenium they established arguably the most thriving, civilized, wealthy, and peaceful land in Faerun. (At least until Sythillis came along.)



Lem,

That's EXACTLY what I was going to respond to you re: how "sages" operate in Amn....at least the natives. There are those actually and truly interested in the truth and the history of things, but they're either hobbyist sages or they're priests of Deneir/Oghma....or they're members of the hidden wizards' guild and taking care to track history as well as magic.

Think of this as an analogue to historians of the Dark Ages up through the Enlightenment. You did better if you wrote exactly what your patron wanted (i.e. give me the history of the Tudors the way I want to see it, Shakespeare....). Thus, there may be many conflicting accounts as to what happened when, where, with whom, and whose at fault. The last true historians worked for Amn's royalty, and no one knows what happened to the annals written for the king's library. They may have been destroyed; they may have been smuggled to safety elsewhere; they may yet be deep beneath the castle in Esmeltaran.

In any case, there's little money or drive in Amnian society to be a scholar or historian. Thus, it's a skill that's skuttled (or held to be a hobby) over improving one's penmanship to be a scribe or to work on writing in flattering ways to suck up to one's patrons. And yes, a library of many books is a status symbol, so having someone pen long-winded and many-volumed histories of your family and its business successes is a good thing. Just don't expect to learn much.

Steven
who asserts the only true histories in Amn over the past few years might be diaries, journals, or travelers' accounts of what happened there, rather than any official documentation by the Council or the families that hold most of the power...

I'll chime in on the other discussions later; too swamped other than to just drop in with this quick note...

Steven

For current projects and general natter, see www.steveneschend.com
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Steven Schend
Forgotten Realms Designer & Author

USA
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Posted - 21 Jan 2007 :  19:40:58  Show Profile  Visit Steven Schend's Homepage  Send Steven Schend a Yahoo! Message Send Steven Schend a Private Message  Reply with Quote
One more thing (on which I may speak more later, when time allows):

Lyrna,

Haedrak's comment was meant to do two things: show distinct differences between how Tethyrians think and Amnians think; and to show his biases. Part of the reason he comes off rather snarky (and the use of zombie was specific) was this--he'd spent decades under El's tutelage and honored/respected lore and history as truth-seeking. He himself is an amateur historian and seeking to bulk up Tethyr's histories et al. He's seen what happens when accounts and history gets touched up to suit a patron or colored by politics and it's one of the few things that makes Haedrak lose his temper. Thus, the bitchiness and snide comments about Amnian historians--he's seen too many report what the rich people want to hear (or have heard) rather than report the truth.

He's also commenting on the fact that the ONLY thing that they habitually record are the doings of the rich and how they affect the country to the exclusion of all else. You never hear what happens in the big picture--just lots of little pictures. That's part of what's at the heart of his rancor.

And that quote was in personal letters to El and Khelben (like the footnotes in the Tethyr histories), not anything for public dissemniation. While the court and the people might guess their king might hold similar prejudices to their own, in public, he's as diplomatic as any politician.

Steven
who doesn't excuse Haedrak's prejudices...he just didn't want him to be perfect as much as human...

For current projects and general natter, see www.steveneschend.com
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Rinonalyrna Fathomlin
Great Reader

USA
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Posted - 21 Jan 2007 :  22:51:24  Show Profile  Visit Rinonalyrna Fathomlin's Homepage Send Rinonalyrna Fathomlin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Lemernis

I know it is stated in canon that Amn definitely regards itself as superior to other lands, regarding other peoples as barbaric. And Steven has commented recently that Amn is humanocentric and rather bigoted. As far as I know, it is actually Amnian culture that is overtly xenophobic. I'm not saying Tethry isn't also in it's own right, I'm just not clearly finding that info...


I've found that many lands (especially the more southerly lands--even Halruaa, which has a totally different culture than what is in Amn) tend to be somewhat "xenophobic", so it's not as if Amn is unique in this respect. And let's not forget that there was racism against demihumans in Tethyr right before the civil war there started. I would find it hard to believe if some of that racism did not linger, even if it is no longer supported by the government. Tethyr wasn't the "multicultural utopia" it might appear to be now (and even then I'd argue it's not so much "multicultural" in the sense that the races are all living fully integrated with each other, so much as being allied with each other).

quote:
There's clearly a dig in the quote by Haedrak, you're right. I wonder, though, if it may not be due so much to a culture clash as a longstanding economic rivarly between the two lands.


Well, my first question would be, "Does it really make a huge difference?" The statement is exactly what it is. But my personal opinion is that it has more to do with cultural values (and looking down on others for their values) than it does with economics.

"Instead of asking why we sleep, it might make sense to ask why we wake. Perchance we live to dream. From that perspective, the sea of troubles we navigate in the workaday world might be the price we pay for admission to another night in the world of dreams."
--Richard Greene (letter to Time)

Edited by - Rinonalyrna Fathomlin on 21 Jan 2007 23:11:08
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Rinonalyrna Fathomlin
Great Reader

USA
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Posted - 21 Jan 2007 :  23:07:00  Show Profile  Visit Rinonalyrna Fathomlin's Homepage Send Rinonalyrna Fathomlin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Steven Schend

One more thing (on which I may speak more later, when time allows):

Lyrna,

Haedrak's comment was meant to do two things: show distinct differences between how Tethyrians think and Amnians think; and to show his biases. Part of the reason he comes off rather snarky (and the use of zombie was specific) was this--he'd spent decades under El's tutelage and honored/respected lore and history as truth-seeking. He himself is an amateur historian and seeking to bulk up Tethyr's histories et al. He's seen what happens when accounts and history gets touched up to suit a patron or colored by politics and it's one of the few things that makes Haedrak lose his temper. Thus, the bitchiness and snide comments about Amnian historians--he's seen too many report what the rich people want to hear (or have heard) rather than report the truth.

He's also commenting on the fact that the ONLY thing that they habitually record are the doings of the rich and how they affect the country to the exclusion of all else. You never hear what happens in the big picture--just lots of little pictures. That's part of what's at the heart of his rancor.

And that quote was in personal letters to El and Khelben (like the footnotes in the Tethyr histories), not anything for public dissemniation. While the court and the people might guess their king might hold similar prejudices to their own, in public, he's as diplomatic as any politician.

Steven
who doesn't excuse Haedrak's prejudices...he just didn't want him to be perfect as much as human...



OK, that's a fair enough point. As I said to Lemernis, thanks for not taking my contrarian posts personally. Here's hoping that Haedrak/Lhaeo makes an effort to stay neutral and keep his opinions out of his actual historical writings, lest he become exactly what he has so much dislike for. Lhaeo's quote was at the beginning of the Amnian part of the Lands of Intrigue sourcebook...but I think it says more about him than it does about the Amnian people (as is the case with most editorialized accounts).

I also found that quote hypocritical in the sense that it was basically a rich king living in luxury, yet arrogantly scorning other people for creating and enjoying their own wealth, as well as strangely deeming makers of violence (the bit about "war heroes"--and every side has their own war hero, too) to be more worthy of celebration than the creation of financial prosperity. And therefore, it can also be read as a belief that inherited wealth (that royalty and nobility have) is somehow "better" than wealth earned through being a shrewd business-person. But hey, perhaps I read too much into that quote and assumed the worst--don't hesitate to tell me if I did.

"Instead of asking why we sleep, it might make sense to ask why we wake. Perchance we live to dream. From that perspective, the sea of troubles we navigate in the workaday world might be the price we pay for admission to another night in the world of dreams."
--Richard Greene (letter to Time)
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Wandering_mage
Senior Scribe

688 Posts

Posted - 21 Jan 2007 :  23:37:06  Show Profile  Visit Wandering_mage's Homepage Send Wandering_mage a Private Message  Reply with Quote
This info is interesting. I am running a campaign in Tethyr (Mosstone region) and should the PCs go North it would be neat to put some lore they find in a context that favors the wealthy outlook more than the commoner, etc. It could confuse the PCs just enough to make them second guess the location of a battlefield (due to the wealthy outlook saying that those nasty wizards were run down in one charge at this field instead of acknowledging that the battle lasted a few days and covered lots of ground). And the key is that there is a special item at on of the true battlefield locations. What do you think?

Illum
The Wandering Mage
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Lemernis
Senior Scribe

378 Posts

Posted - 22 Jan 2007 :  01:37:03  Show Profile  Visit Lemernis's Homepage Send Lemernis a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Steven Schend

The last true historians worked for Amn's royalty, and no one knows what happened to the annals written for the king's library. They may have been destroyed; they may have been smuggled to safety elsewhere; they may yet be deep beneath the castle in Esmeltaran...

Steven
who asserts the only true histories in Amn over the past few years might be diaries, journals, or travelers' accounts of what happened there, rather than any official documentation by the Council or the families that hold most of the power...



Love this! It's fun to salt this sort of stuff. I'm already thinking of some quests that are based on history, and where such writings may be found.

Also, a follow-up thought occured to me about the possible low hill giant population explanation I suggested. If hill giants were having troubles reproducing, that in itself could easily account for the proliferation of ogres in the region. Hill giants have voracious appetities, they use up a lot of the food sources wherever they live. As their numbers dwindled it would have created new territory and more game for the ogres to exploit.

For some reason I want to see the ogres remaining stangely respectful of their larger cousins throughout this. I like that dynamic, anyway, whatever the reason behind it.

Edited by - Lemernis on 22 Jan 2007 01:50:53
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MaxKaladin
Seeker

71 Posts

Posted - 24 Jan 2007 :  21:44:19  Show Profile  Visit MaxKaladin's Homepage Send MaxKaladin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Steven Schend

Just off hand, have there been questions dropped in here that I've forgotten to address? (And no, I can't change any answers that were stated as NDAs, I'm afraid.) Just wanting to make sure that I'm not leaving folk in the lurch, waiting with bated breath for answers to queries.
Back on 1 May 2005 (on Page 3) someone asked:

quote:
Originally posted by Gray Richardson

I have a question for you Steven. Rich Baker over on the ask the Realms Authors thread politely demurred when asked what could be found on the various other continents of Toril seen on the "scholar's view of Abeir-Toril" map. He said it was basically space for DM's to imagine and fill in the blanks. He also mentioned that you might have some notes about what might go where.

I was wondering if you might have some "unofficial musings" that you would care to share about what could be found on those Terra Incognitas located around the globe beyond Faerun and Kara-Tur.


and you replied:

quote:
Originally posted by Steven Schend

I have some old, old notes that were a pitch for a subline like Al-Qadim for those areas, but they're all apocryphal, they're all old, and they're all buried somewhere. Gimme a week or so to dig the notes up and I'll see what's worth posting herein, unofficially, of course.
I don't think you ever said anything about if you'd found those notes or not or if there was anything worth posting there. I may have missed it if I did though.

Anyway, I'm curious myself so I thought I'd bring it up....

Sorry if that's too old.
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Steven Schend
Forgotten Realms Designer & Author

USA
1631 Posts

Posted - 25 Jan 2007 :  02:45:53  Show Profile  Visit Steven Schend's Homepage  Send Steven Schend a Yahoo! Message Send Steven Schend a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Lemernis

Also, I have a further question about the monster races in Amn. I noticed that ogres outnumber hill giants in Sythillis' army by a whopping 100:1 ratio (4800:45). There's no indication in the description of the Sythillisian invasion of 1370 that Sythillis would have been keeping a large contingent of hill giants in reserve in the Small Teeth. Sythillis assembled and trained his army within the caverns and tunnels of the Small Teeth within a 14 year period. Even had the ogres been attempting to destroy their larger cousins in the Small Teeth region prior to Sythillis coming along, 14 years seems sufficient time enough for the hill giant population to have recovered at least a little. (And if the ogres had been at war with hill giants that would be very atypical to begin with--Giantcraft and the Slayer's Guides note that ogres are typically subservient to giants.) Sythillis used the Skullgnasher tribe of hill giant to wage periodic attacks on Hillfort Torbold as a diversion in the years preceding the invasion. So Sythillis seems clearly to have a place for hill giants in his army.

45 soliders in Sythillis' army means a total community of what? about 100? With numbers that low they would be almost on the verge of dying out in the region. I was thinking of trying to explain the strikingly low number of hill giants by writing a backstory wherein the hill giants had, about two or three generation in the past, done something to severely anger the giant god of fertility, Annam.

Although Annam remains uninvolved in mortal affairs he does reveal himself to his clerics at least once in their lives through a dream or vision. So I think this history could work. Though it's a bit of a challenge to think of a transgression so egregious that it would gotten Annam's attention and incurred his wrath. But I do like that this explanation sets up quest material for the hill giants to regain their fertility. And it should also provide an unsual dynamic between the hill giants and the other monsters races, Cyricists, and Amnian slaves, in Sythillisian/Cyricist occupied Esmeltaran. There's a lot of cruelty among those various factions. But who in their right mind would want to set off (an already explosive) hill giant about a touchy subject like that?

One of the things I really appreciate about your writing approach in Lands of Intrigue is that you at times deliberately leave blanks for the DM to fill in, to add his or her own creative touches. And that is one of the funnest parts about DMing for me. But anyway, any other suggestions about what might account for the low hill giant numbers in the region?



Well, everything you say above is certainly a way you could go with the hill giants. I'd not have gone the godly route, but it's a nifty idea and one well worth pursuing.

Frankly, my raitonale was two-fold: A) There's not enough territory to support giants and the rest of those monsters; and B) Many of the hill giants left that area during the 40-year-Interregnum in Tethyr to go wreak havoc down south.

In fact, hill giants could easily be a major problem in the Omlarandins or the Snowflakes, if you so chose. Whether they were mentioned specifically or not, it's irrelevant.

In fact, he chuckles evilly, imagine Dannihyr (acting either as a Council member (in secret) or as the guildmaster of the Shadow Thieves) paying the hill giant chieftain (or chieftains of multiple tribes) to leave Amn and go elsewhere--specifically south. I can see an Amnian making a deal like that. The Not in My Backyard syndrome...

Other options--Sythillis had to kill more than 8 of the strongest giants himself before the Hill giants fell in line with him (and thus bringing in other forces as well). There's also nothing saying that there aren't more forces they can tap--the numbers noted were those of the active armies, so there might be more pregnant hill giants at home, etc.

It's wide open as to what you want to do. Or at least it was 10 years ago when I wrote all that.... Eek. I'm old.

Steven

For current projects and general natter, see www.steveneschend.com
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