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Gary Dallison
Great Reader

United Kingdom
4672 Posts

Posted - 02 Aug 2019 :  15:34:20  Show Profile Send Gary Dallison a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Keep up the good work, it's most appreciated

Forgotten Realms Alternate Dimensions Candlekeep Archive
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Wooly Rupert
Master of Mischief
Moderator

USA
32289 Posts

Posted - 03 Aug 2019 :  02:56:39  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Gary Dallison

Keep up the good work, it's most appreciated



Thank you!

Candlekeep Forums Moderator

Candlekeep - The Library of Forgotten Realms Lore
http://www.candlekeep.com
-- Candlekeep Forum Code of Conduct

Editor and scribe for The Candlekeep Compendium

I am the Giant Space Hamster of Ill Omen!
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Wooly Rupert
Master of Mischief
Moderator

USA
32289 Posts

Posted - 03 Aug 2019 :  03:08:26  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
On the original Realms, diversity, and how the published Realms developed:

I'm going to preface this one with an apology... The way Twitter works (at least the web version), it's easy for conversations to split and branch in multiple directions -- and not so easy to find all of those branches and tie them all back together.

This was a series of exchanges over 3 days. I've pieced them together as well as I can, but it's entirely possible that I missed something, or that I got some of these exchanges in the wrong order.

Any mistakes/misrepresentations/omissions are unintentional; lay the blame half on me for an honest, unintentional screwup, and half on Twitter for not making this easy)



Jun 28 - 30 2019


@POCGamer
Seldom remembered #DnD factoid:
Forgotten Realms was originally created as a parallel Earth, one of many Earths in a Marvel or DC style of increasingly divergent variants. This led to some seriously problematic developments as the game aged and its identity crisis intensified.


@erikscottdebie
It’d be interesting to get @TheEdVerse’s take on this. I suspect the answer is “yes, kind of—it’s complicated.”

A lot of real-world analogs we see between the Realms and our world are more projections of our expectations than intentional. That’s part of our designer guidelines.


@TheEdVerse
Nope. Sorry. The Realms was originally created as one of many parallel worlds (the others being my {as a 5-year-old} favourite fantasy settings, like Tolkien's Middle Earth, Dunsany's Dreamlands, etc.) linked by gates (as in the Wood Between The Worlds, introduced by William Morris in his fantasy novels (which were among the very first novels ever written), to form a 'multiverse' (the name was coined to cover Michael Moorcock's linked fantasies, but the concept predates DC or Marvel by about a half century, and D&D by about a century. The Realms was NEVER intended to have too-close real-world analogues, although game designers other than me inserted many such analogues in part for ease of understanding, and mainly because TSR bought the Realms to be a "unified game world" for the 2nd Edition of D&D, which meant it had to accommodate jungle adventures, pirate adventures, glacier adventures, "Oriental Adventures," "Arabian adventures," and so on. It was certainly never meant to have continent/landmass analogues with our real world, and if you'd ever seen either my original maps or the various in-house "wider world of Toril" maps used at various times by designers, you would just not be able to find any. Every time a designer went too close to real-world history or Hollywood history (one egregious example: putting the Dalai Lama into the published Realms) I warned of the consequences. It's tiresome, as the decades pass, having to field queries or opinions from gamers about my getting the historical dating of stirrups wrong or using anachronistic terms or battlefield maneuvers when I have personally always avoided real-world analogues, but when real-world terms and concepts appeared in print, this is the boat we're stuck with bailing. And I'm fine with that, BUT I am NOT fine with inaccurate information being spread about how I 'originally created' the Realms to be this or that. The Realms predates D&D by a decade, and my original Realms had no close real-world analogues, cultural or geographic. It DID have a tech level that was "vaguely medieval" in some places, and "sputtering into Renaissance" in others, but I deliberately invented Realms words and cultural customs to AVOID real-world copies. Other cooks in the kitchen did not, and the result is what it is, but I did NOT set out to copy, slight, "improve upon," or answer real-world elements. I set out to entertain five-year-old me with stories that had swords and dragons and magic and wizards in them. D&D and real-world baggage came along later.
Got all that? I ask because those topics just may be on the exam. ;}
#Realmslore


@POCGamer
I'm having trouble formulating an response to this. On one hand, that explains a lot. On the the other, it makes almost all the problematic parts worse, because they were what someone did deliberately during the design phase.


@TheEdVerse
What is this "design phase" you speak of? ;}
The Realms was bought by TSR as a detailed world (incomplete, sure, but far more complete than any world they've had before or since), and has had over a thousand "design phases" ever since...one for each product (game or fiction).


@POCGamer
Those are it. A lot of bad choices were made during a number of those that made the setting actively hostile for POC through stereotypes, regressive or racist narratives, and so on. It's a thing that happened, and that continues to affect the setting now for lack of being considered in that multitude of design phases.


@TheEdVerse
EVERY setting must have both gaps and problematic parts, because that's where the conflict arises and gamers and readers are spurred to create, and adventure. Static perfection is...dead.


@POCGamer
I'm not talking about gaps or troubled areas; I'm talking more along the lines of whitewashing in art depicting POC, use of stereotypes for POC areas, lack of consistent and/or quality support for places not the Sword Coast, The Heartlands, or the North. That kind of problematic.


@TheEdVerse
Oh, yes, and that bugs me, too. Particularly as my original turnover described most humans (aside from the barbarians of the Sword Coast North, and the Sossrim) as "dusky-skinned" (not a bad term back then, though I understand that it has become so since).


@2ndLevelBard
Is this Word of God that Jhaamdath was meant to be coded as something other than White European, and modern Chondathans shouldn't look (exclusively) like vaguely pasty Anglo-Saxons?


@TheEdVerse
I suppose so. Jhaamdath (the name and specifics) were added to my original Realms by other hands. YES, modern Chondathans shouldn't look exclusively like vaguely pasty Anglo-Saxons. They all live in Elturel. ;}


@POCGamer
They got around that with a population migration and mixing. When I tracked it through editions, the Chondathans had a wide set complexions ranging from olive/dark tan to pasty white depending on where they were. I think my notes for them were that they were more a culture than a single recognizable ethnic group based on phenotypic expression. Also they were literally everywhere. If I remember right, as of 3e, they were Faerûn's most populous human culture and the dominant one in most places.


@TheEdVerse
And that's as it should be, because of all the migrations and breeding with whoever was wherever they went in the Realms (being as Gary and Dave handed us a D&D game with half-breeds baked in).


@POCGamer
One of the chief reasons I never contacted @TheEdVerse about stuff that flashed up problematic or bizarrely shoehorned in or bolted on. On the other hand, it makes me far more curious about the potential development trajectory of the FR had TSR not done what they did.


@TheEdVerse
Me. too. ;}
Interestingly, from the very beginning, the published Realms veered away from my 'home' Realms not just because of in-house stuff being bolted on or swapped in (Doug's Albion campaign Moonshaes replacing mine), but because the "home" Realms campaign was dominated by intrigue and roleplaying (e.g. machinations of noble houses in Cormyr, or the machinations of guilds, nobles, and everybody else in the city in Waterdeep), not dungeon crawling or hack-and-slashing...and the published Realms had to not just cater to the latter, but centre-stage them, because the game was centered on them back then. So if I'd been controlling the publication of the Realms, all the social issues and power struggles would have dominated wordcount in the products, rather than stats (and, gods help us, GOD and avatar stats!). Divine coverage would instead have focused on daily devout life (what do clerics DO?) and what priesthoods are up to in the Realms (like cornering the trade in bat guano or monk-made liqueurs). And all of the racial and gender-role baggage of the real world just wouldn't have been there, because we'd have the REALMS cultures instead, which game designers and fiction writers could use satirically to comment on real-world issues, but not HAVE real-world issues in the Realms.

So, it's very much a 'road not taken' thing, from my viewpoint. Yet I understood what would happen at the outset (Jeff Grubb explicitly warned me that "we'll make changes, and go on making changes, and here's why") and I was and am fine with that: the Realms had to be that way, to function as the "unified game world" for D&D 2e that TSR purchased it to be. The good thing was, as it came into their hands with a depth of detail and history and intrigue ready-made, these elements got included, and moved us a step beyond "this is the orc kingdom, here's their banner, and they can field X troops" into "this world is ALIVE, and these creatures get their food thus, and defecate it back into the cycle of life so," and moved gaming forward. THAT makes me smile.
#Realmslore


@POCGamer
So, a legit set of questions then. Was the Mulan addition (kidnapped/enslaved from a mythic Earth's ancient Egypt and Sumeria) an original component, and were the Creator Races and Days of Thunder original components?

I ask because in the strange and convoluted timeline of FR, they just seem odd. The former because it's just such a strange event and doesn't sync well, and the latter because it seems to have been added later.


@TheEdVerse
As depicted, none of them were original.
However, in my original Realms, elves and dwarves were losing the dominance fight with humans and orcs because the latter two races could outbreed and swamp them, there WERE creator races but the Realmsfolk of today were very fuzzy on just who (as was I, though I knew one of them was large sentient reptilian), and I did have the "dragons, giants, and elves have all dominated the Realms before humans" element, and I did have migrations of races from other worlds, and figured some migrants would be enslaved. I did NOT have anything close to ancient Egypt or any other Earth culture, but TSR had the existing Desert of Desolation modules to link into the Realms, so hello pyramids.
That was the pattern. This Ed idea/element can, with a little twisting and surgery, be repurposed to do what we need to do/add/spotlight in the developing D&D game. Which is just fine: that's what a base setting has to do, and what they'd bought FR for.



@TheEdVerse
"My" Realms has always been diverse, because I happened to grow up in a VERY wealthy neighbourhood then dominated by "Canadian branch plant headquarters" by the earliest developing multinational corporations...so they all shuttled executives (with their families) into the 'hood from literally all over the world. Some of the local farm families were still hanging on, so I got to see poverty, too, and because it was a wealthy area, there were folks with lifestyles/family relationships different from the societal norms (I was born in the 50s and grew up through the 60s and 70s) that had enough money that they could be themselves and not hide...and schooling back then was deliberately integrated (I had classmates who were wheelchair-bound and using magnifying glasses, etc. and we were expected to carry them, assist them in class, involve them in sports, etc.) and so it all made for a very diverse mix that was NORMAL for me. (But likely not for small-town Wisconsin in the 1970s and 1980s.) And although racism is certainly everywhere, I'm Canadian rather than American, so the racism "up here" was more whites vs. indigenous and English-speaking vs. French-speaking, and changing constantly as I grew up. And I had grandparents who when filling in government forms, did not check off "Caucasian," but ticked "Other" and wrote "Mongrel" in the box. ;}


@POCGamer
There's a gulf of difference between your original and ongoing FR and what the rest of us encounter and use though. For all intents and purposes, they're two separate settings.


@TheEdVerse
Indeed. And keeping the two straight in my head is often impossible, so it'll be "constantly impossible" for everyone else in the world, who can't see my original.
And I would be remiss if I didn't mention one more element that I and a lot of staff designers have followed, down the years: what state of affairs offers the most play opportunities for gaming tables all over the world? Right, we do that, then. Often conflicts/difficulties/disasters/shortages/wars are "invented" for the express purpose of giving PCs more to do, and DMs more "loose threads" to work with. And in the case of staffers, there's also the perceived audience products are being aimed at (I can recall over 30 female NPCs in various leadership/authority roles who were quietly changed to males when they went into print, because "girls don't play D&D" (an idea that was foreign indeed to me, because there were ALWAYS females at my "home" campaign table). Yet I don't think there was ever a deliberate racist policy or thinking; I believe there were lots of little individual design decisions, made over time and product by product, that "add up to" making some gamers feel unwanted/shut out/not represented.
But life is way too short for the blame game. We should all focus on the way forward, looking back only to learn from history. (Which is the point at which various of my history profs would channel Tom Lehrer and say, "So we can learn from our mistakes, so we can repeat them PERFECTLY." ;} )


@POCGamer
I filed a lot of those instances under "when research gets it wrong", a phenomena where in an effort to get a POC coded ethnic group "right", writers instead create a historical re-imagining that reinforces problematic aspects and that is generally unsuited to the setting's reality and conditions. Chult and Maztica's developments being notably bad. Then there's the awkward theme of POC being more prone to being evil/demon influenced/following evil gods that runs through a number of them.


@TheEdVerse
No disagreement with me. I should point out that, just as some staffers loved pyramids because "we can do Indiana Jones explores a pyramid in D&D"...there were staffers who liked "the crazy cannibal natives are crazy because they worship this demon god, that the PCs can come in and kill, and so win the adventure, and the mind-controlled natives, now freed, will gratefully hand the PCs their treasure" just because they wanted to roleplay a sub-genre they'd seen in movies and on TV (ethics didn't come into it, they just wanted a chance to play this).


@POCGamer
Except that's all these places became. Instead of getting the attention, nuance, and development of Cormyr, Waterdeep, Cormanthyr, the Dales or elsewhere, they were reduced to being locations for adventure tourism as opposed to being places to be from and have campaigns based out of. And the cracks have gotten worse as the setting has aged and little or no attention has been given to these areas. Or worse, there was stuff like 4e's borderline ethnic cleansing of big chunks of Faerûn; that moved me from player to critical analyst.


@TheEdVerse
Agreed on both of your points here. And one of the longest, strongest battles I've waged, over the years, has been to cover ALL of the Realms instead of going back to certain areas again and again. The counter-argument was always "Well, we're doing another Waterdeep product because we know those sell," to which I'd respond in exasperation, "But you've never DONE a Veldorn/Raurin/Sossal/Var the Golden/Durpar product, so how do you know those WON'T sell?" The response to which was often, "Well, we have to leave SOME areas for DMs to develop on their own," and the neglect would continue. Yes, the 4e depiction I am not a fan of, although I gather that the thinking there was "avoid all controversy and potential lost sales by removing all real-world conflicts/disagreement points/elements, and just say this is the way this imaginary world is, now can we all just play D&D?" (Gather, because I am not and never have been in-house and sitting in on design meetings.)


@POCGamer
I still have no idea what the thought processes were, but "wipe out the bulk of POC and mess the rest of them up" was a poor course of action at best. Some things I liked, like the Underchasm, but a lot was a mess at best.


@TheEdVerse
I agree. Oddly, one part of that was having more than one designer on staff who were former history teachers, and so went straight to "hey, we could do this historical thing as a plot driver/big event in the Realms"...and so brought in baggage.


@POCGamer
I am very much forwards oriented; but the same issues keep repeating. The only reason I'm even a blip on the D&D radar is because of my critical analysis and review of Tomb of Annihilation. A book that was made without any POC input, with predictable results.

After 2e's questionable work, 3e's skipping over it, and 4e's destruction, it was supposed to be the triumphant return of FR's most recognizable Black culture. To describe it as underwhelming is an understatement. I have hopes for something I was involved in, but its still OPSec.

That review/critical analysis ended up spanning three parts, and had over 8k words in drafts, and was my first deep dive in FR lore past what I needed to run games/make characters.


@TheEdVerse
Very well written; thumbs up!
In my original Realms, Chult was a wild jungle, with very few human inhabitants, just the handful genetically immune to local serpent venoms (like the wild dwarves), because the place was dominated by serpent races (see the 3e Serpent Kingdoms tome).

"My" Realms had no dinosaurs, but did have a lot of grown-to-jumbo-size reptilian and other monsters (the wildest land monsters from the D&D books, notably lots of gibbering mouthers and lurkers, and tentacled things that became gricks and grells when they came along/were added to the game. So treatment, good/bad/otherwise, of black humans just didn't arise, because there were none. I had dark-skinned humans dwelling beyond Ulgarth, in Raurin and points east (instead of the grafted-on-by-TSR "Oriental Adventures" locales) and on the various island chains west of Faerun, in the Sea of Swords (the "Anchorome" region). There is no Maztica (or Osse) in the original Realms, but instead: Laerakond, and SE of it/SW of Faerun, there's Thuin, a N/S-long-axis continent with dark-skinned human peoples (many squabbling city-states)


@POCGamer
Have you got a map? I'm very curious to see what this looks like.


@TheEdVerse
Heh. SOMEwhere.
Think of a "fat arrowhead pointing north" (actually, more like the spades suit on a deck of cards, only without a base). The curved sides, especially on the SE, are dagged/ragged with many inlets/bays where rivers run down into them, and the largest cities are of course ports sited on the rivermouths. There's a high rock plateau in the NE of Thuin, with towering cliffs (seacaves beneath) plunging down into the sea. NW is jungle. The Thuin (local humans) are (to, groan, borrow a real-world analogue) are about Shakespeare's depiction of the independent Italian city-states (Milan, etc.) era (tights and swords); i.e. flourishing arts and literature, NOT primitive; they garden and harvest the jungles, not clearcutting them. They DO hunt the monsters to "wild breed" them (that is, eliminate the most dangerous ones, spare the 'useful' ones, and the same with useful herbs and edible berry vines and lumber trees; this has the same screwups and pitfalls as all human meddling with the environment, but they understand natural cycles and balance far better than we real-world moderns do, and so make fewer mistakes and eliminate fewer species accidentally or without caring). Most of the civic authorities are matriarchal, there's gender equality (not just power equality, but no linking of societal/family roles to genitalia), and the disputes are generally about wealth or over the direction particular individuals are taking a city, family firm, taxation, etc. and over ownership of oyster beds, stands of valuable trees due to differences in philosophies of stewardship of those resources. Thuin understand prevailing winds and sun, and build their homes accordingly, with communal city buildings that combine shops, workshops, offices, and dwelling-spaces for at least the custodians of the shops, etc.

However, I hear you and will add a hunt for the map to my ever-growing list of "things I've gotta find for fellow fans of the Realms." ;}
This is my life.
#Realmslore

Candlekeep Forums Moderator

Candlekeep - The Library of Forgotten Realms Lore
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Wooly Rupert
Master of Mischief
Moderator

USA
32289 Posts

Posted - 03 Aug 2019 :  03:12:15  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
On Queltar Thaeloon:


Jul 26 2019

@aerothgow
Hello. I was reading some old books Volo's guide to the North and Lords of Darkness about the Arcane Brotherhood and I see a member of theirs being named but with 0 information about him. I'm talking about Queltar Thaeloon. Who is he? Is he the wizard of green flame?


@TheEdVerse
Queltar Thaeloon isn't the wizard of green flame, but is a fat, sly (Varys in GoT, but always smiling) city-dwelling investor, speculator, and "fixer" who makes sure the Brotherhood always has plenty of safe houses, warehouses, coin, and folk who unwittingly owe them.
#Realmslore

Candlekeep Forums Moderator

Candlekeep - The Library of Forgotten Realms Lore
http://www.candlekeep.com
-- Candlekeep Forum Code of Conduct

Editor and scribe for The Candlekeep Compendium

I am the Giant Space Hamster of Ill Omen!
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AJA
Learned Scribe

USA
274 Posts

Posted - 04 Aug 2019 :  21:42:17  Show Profile Send AJA a Private Message  Reply with Quote

Excellent work, Wooly. Thank you for continuing this.


AJA
YAFRP
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jamesewelch
Learned Scribe

80 Posts

Posted - 06 Aug 2019 :  19:12:10  Show Profile Send jamesewelch a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I asked this last night. Here's Ed's response:

In the original Gwaeron Windstrom holy symbol, there was an "S" behind the paw and star. Over the years, the "S" disappeared. What was the "S"? Did it represent a winding trail or something else? #Realmslore Thanks

@TheEdVerse
Yes, it represents a winding trail, but also a stream (Gwaeron could track creatures who waded along a shallow stream to try to hide their scent from trackers) and the winds (Gwaeron could catch scents on the wind). Its use faded because mortals can't do these things.
#Realmslore
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xaeyruudh
Master of Realmslore

USA
1841 Posts

Posted - 19 Aug 2019 :  23:17:15  Show Profile  Visit xaeyruudh's Homepage Send xaeyruudh a Private Message  Reply with Quote
2 August

@xaeyruudh
Regarding the Company of the Windgorgon, which perished in Undermountain in the 1350s... what is a windgorgon, in the Realms?

@TheEdVerse
1) A windgorgon is a very rare (because it was so aggressive that most were swiftly slain after coming into contact with humans), larger cousin of the gorgon that has a acid-cloud breath weapon that jets with force enough to be about equal to a Thunderwave spell.
2) (So it doesn't petrify foes.) Windgorgons are as smart as humans, capable of speech (and mimicry), cunning in battle and defense (setting traps around their wilderland lairs), and are mostly seen in heraldry (rampant and breathing), these days, not in the flesh.

@Celiac_Gamer
You say it's aggressive but also that it is as intelligent as humans. It wouldn't be wrong to have one that is sort of like xanathar would it? I was just thinking how cool it would be to have one as a crime Lord.

@TheEdVerse
Oh, sure. The survivors have learned from what happened to their fellows. Yes, one could be a crime lord. :}

@xaeyruudh
Thank you! It's similar to the Monster Manual gorgon in appearance? And in climate/habitat?

@TheEdVerse
Yes to appearance, but wider climate tolerance than the gorgon, so found in all but arctic mountains, hills and wilderland terrain everywhere (i.e. where humans are sparse).

@xaeyruudh
It seems like the sort of creature someone of nefarious or just odd nature might be producing and loosing somewhere, via deepspawn or similar means...

@TheEdVerse
It DOES, doesn't it? ;}

Long live the beard!
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AJA
Learned Scribe

USA
274 Posts

Posted - 03 Sep 2019 :  03:38:45  Show Profile Send AJA a Private Message  Reply with Quote

It's not Twitter, but for anyone who doesn't know, Ed has started a series of articles over at ENWorld.org, going over the process of how the Forgotten Realms came to be. It's pretty familiar ground for those who've been following Ed's postings here at Candlekeep and elsewhere, but it's always good to see Ed getting to explain the Realms in his own words to audiences who may not be as acquainted with them. His current offerings are;

Ed Greenwood: How The Realms Began
https://www.enworld.org/threads/ed-greenwood-how-the-realms-began.666535/

Ed Greenwood: The Origins of Mirt the Moneylender
https://www.enworld.org/threads/ed-greenwood-the-origins-of-mirt-the-moneylender.666767/

Ed Greenwood: A World of a Thousand-Thousand Stories
https://www.enworld.org/threads/ed-greenwood-a-world-of-a-thousand-thousand-stories.667085/


AJA
YAFRP
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sleyvas
Great Reader

USA
8207 Posts

Posted - 03 Sep 2019 :  13:46:07  Show Profile Send sleyvas a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I know this is wrong, but the imagery that appears in my head of a windgorgon makes me think of a gorgon that's eaten too many beans. Pictures of a gorgon turning around and lifting its tail to "assault" a party are tiptoeing through my brain.

Alavairthae, may your skill prevail

Phillip aka Sleyvas
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AJA
Learned Scribe

USA
274 Posts

Posted - 03 Sep 2019 :  15:00:59  Show Profile Send AJA a Private Message  Reply with Quote
That's not a windgorgon, that's a Windy-Gorgon. Smells almost as bad as its cousin, the Gorgon-Zola.


AJA
YAFRP
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Wooly Rupert
Master of Mischief
Moderator

USA
32289 Posts

Posted - 04 Sep 2019 :  01:32:35  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
On Neverwinter's soldiers and coins:

Aug 31


@AlexMcclay2000
Hey Ed, im having trouble figuring something out in Neverwinter. Whats the Difference or is there a Difference between the Wintershield Watchmen(SCAG 145) and the Neverwinter guard? Is the Wintershield Watchmen like the City Watch and the NW Guard like the City Guard?


@TheEdVerse
There is, and you’ve got it right.
Lord Neverember initially defended Neverwinter with the use of mercenaries, mainly from Mintarn, under General Sabine. They kept order, but tended to be harsh. Meaning the general public soon feared and hated them. So the Wintershield Watchmen were formed (“newly formed” in their mention in SCAG) as a slightly gentler boots-on-the-cobbles police force, directed to try to truly understand the neighbourhoods they patrolled, so they’d be more readily accepted and obeyed by the populace and fewer citizens or visiting merchants would end up beaten, maimed, or slain by the “Protectors of the city.” The Neverwinter Guard is the city’s military (the same mercenaries, retrained and reorganized over time), responsible for mounted patrols outside the walls, staffing the walls and gates, mastering ballistae and catapults on the battlements to defend the harbour and the land immediately around the walls, and so on. Watchmen get trained at arms by veterans of the Guard, and injured Guardsmen do “observer duty” with the Watch, and vice versa, to give everyone broader skills.
#Realmslore


@ivstinus
I've always wondered what paid these groups. Taxes? Personal adventuring funds? Good will? I mean, my Paladin would totally do it for free, but he isn't the rule.


@TheEdVerse
Taxes and docking fees: Neverwinter taxes all deposits and withdrawals to its vaults (banks), charges fees for building permits, docking ships, and warehouse space for cargoes, and an annual head tax on all city residents, as well as taxing landlords on their rents.
#Realmslore


@ivstinus
Ahhhh... is it Neverwinter or Waterdeep that you mentioned the major wizard academy funds for private activity recently? If Neverwinter, same source of money for the academy? (Private or state paid, if otherwise?) (Just a curiosity)


@AlexMcclay2000
And does Neverwinter Mint its own currency, of do they use the same currency as Waterdeep of Silverymoon.


@TheEdVerse
Like all Sword Coast cities, Neverwinter accepts the metal coinage of everywhere else, though “foreign” coins (i.e. from the Vilhon and places east and south of there) tend to be valued for their metal value (i.e. “Well, it’s a gold piece, or a silver, or a copper of some sort of funny outlander minting”) rather than what their home region would precisely value them at. And the City of Skilled Hands needs so many raw materials from elsewhere to make so many of their goods that barter plus the steady flow of coins from Waterdeep and other ports makes local minting rarely necessary. For large amounts, trade bars from Baldur’s Gate (and made by dwarves nearer at hand) are commonly used in Neverwinter. But “city mintings” do occur about every decade or dozen winters or so, mainly copper, silver, and gold coins. Names for coins tend to be whatever name the coin bears where it came from (so a glint or shield from Silverymoon or a nib or dragon of Waterdeep are called those same names in Neverwinter), but the Neverran/Neverwinteran names for coins are thus: a copper is a ‘tharn;’ a silver is a ‘bult;’ an electrum coin (rare in local minting) is a ‘sea-shee;’ a gold coin is a ‘dragon;’ and a platinum coin (very rare in local minting) is a ‘fairsail.’ Most recent coins of Neverwinter are central-hole-pierced flat metal plaques in the shape of a long keystone (or capstone, the wedge-shaped isosceles trapezoid/trapezium), with chased (graven) triskelion-like designs on their faces.
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Edited by - Wooly Rupert on 09 Sep 2019 03:19:26
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On becoming a Lord (outside of an established city-state):


Sep 1, 2019


@LouAnders
Hey @TheEdVerse how does one get the title of Lord in the Realms? My players beat those guys in Noanar’s Hold and are turning the ruined keep into a castle. Are they the lords now?


@TheEdVerse
Heh. This is one of those "it depends" situations. If they start calling themselves lords, AND live in a castle, most folk they meet will accept the titles. Because Noanar's Hold doesn't happen to be in a ruled realm with a king or other ruler who'll dispute these self-assumed ranks, there'll be no trouble about calling themselves lords. In the common mind (of civilized humans in the Sword Coast), "every lord hath his castle," and vice versa. So, short answer: yes.

However, longer answer: if I was DMing this, I'd expect pretenders (armed thugs with a hired adventuring band waving blades on their behalf) to start showing up one a month or so, snarling, "I'M the rightful Lord of Noanar's Hold! Begone or die, miscreants!" ;}

And in the interests of exhaustive topic coverage: it's really up to the High Heralds. However, barring misuse of heraldry for deceptions, heralds are ALWAYS on the side of more heraldry, so local herald will want more lords, and High Heralds very likely to agree.
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On Al-Qadim:

Aug 30, 2019


@Adnd2ndEdition
I read somewhere that you didn’t care for Kara-Tur and Maztica being a representation of historic earth. Al-Qadim wasn’t listed. If true, do you feel the same way towards Al-Qadim?


@TheEdVerse
I don’t like ANY too-close real-world analogues in the Realms. However, I knew “going in” that they would happen, so the Realms could accommodate pirate D&D, jungle D&D, and so on. I had a hand in developing Al-Qadim via my work on Anauroch (which in turn drew on Troy Denning’s excellent Ruha novels), and it is as much Arabian Nights as it is real-world desert historical Near East, so I don’t feel the same way about it.
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On music:

(This was another of those multi-part ones I had to try to piece together)


Aug 29, 2019


@ivstinus
So, I haven't poked around, but I'm kinda curious.

Of the great Sword Coast cities, which is most Parisian in its artistic expression, value, and compensation to the arts? Are musical performances still married to rhetoric as in theatre/music? Are modes associated with spiritual/divine phenomena (such as modes matching planets in Alchemical symbolism), do most theatres/venues fit the romantic art space, classical, baroque, renaissance, or medieval? Where did notation develop in the Realms? What background scale is the backbone of music
theoretical treatises?


@TheEdVerse
It varies over time, but Waterdeep has always been most tolerant/varied in style and had the most noble patrons sponsoring art of all sorts. Followed by Athkatla, Baldur’s Gate, and Neverwinter, usually in that order.

Nobles, wealthy ‘wannabe nobles,’ guildmasters, and courtiers (i.e. the Palace) have always commissioned instrumental music for “background pleasantry” during feasts (LOW volume, unlike most “bands” performing in our modern real world), and this extends to what we might call “chamber music” performed by quartets or less in passages outside bedchambers, for guests in the early evening (when “retiring” to undress and bathe, before slumber).

And beyond fanfares, many musicians hire themselves out to those willing to pay, to play “motifs” announcing their arrival at a function/revel, or even tavern or club. So, no, not exclusively married to rhetoric.

However, theatrical performances are the biggest reliable employer of musicians, day in and day out, in Waterdeep and all other Sword Coast cities. Clubs run a close second, as “house bands” and hosting visiting concerts.
#Realmslore


@ivstinus
Are modes associated with spiritual/divine phenomena (such as modes matching planets in Alchemical symbolism)?


@TheEdVerse
There are specific styles of music and instrumentation for performances during the holy festivals/observances around the calendar of particular faiths, but everyone likes to borrow and experiment (and this is accepted).
#Realmslore


@ivstinus
Do most theatres/venues fit the romantic art space, classical, baroque, renaissance, or medieval?


@TheEdVerse
This is a ‘hard to answer in our real world terms’ matter. Many taverns and most clubs and a few inn dining rooms have raised stages but also accommodate “strolling among the tables” players. In cities, there are many purpose-built playhouses. The older ones tend to have bare stages overlooked by audience balconies, and do minimal “dressing” of the stage (like real-world Shakespearean theatres). In some wealthy patrons’ abodes, a stage may be no more than a space with a few stools or tables in front of a backdrop tapestry hung on a frame and flanked by two hanging lanterns. There are also haughty theatres amply decorated with statues that get used in plays.
#Realmslore


@ivstinus
Where did notation develop in the Realms?


@TheEdVerse
So far as sentients in the Realms know today, all over the place, long, long ago. There was musical notation before the dragons, and before the arrival of elves and dwarves. Most races believe they did it first, but what Elminster describes as “sages without an axe to grind” believe the sylvans, the aearee, and the batrachi all had musical notation before the systems developed by dragons and giants. The elves created the most elaborate notation and most extensive catalogue of shared-across-their-race musical tunes, all before humans had notation. Among humans, the Jhaamdathans had psionic notation consisting of symbols that “recorded” motifs and tunes.


@ivstinus
What background scale is the backbone of music theoretical treatises?


@TheEdVerse
Heh. There is no single scale, but a plethora of them. For convenience, Jeff Grubb and I agreed back in 1986 that we’d use real-world terms like “octave” and “key” to avoid driving hundreds of future collaborators nuts.


@ivstinus
Brilliant. I'm curious what analogues draconic music carries. I'm imagining the similar ascending and descending neumes of Greek/Hebrew traditions! Thank you!


@TheEdVerse
You’re very welcome! I’ve always thought of most draconic music being bombastic, with emphatic, strident chords (a la the opening minutes of Beethoven - Symphony No.7 in A major op.92 - II, Allegretto). Grand, preening, LOUD.
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On silverfin:


Aug 30, 2019


@ivstinus
Kinda curious if Silverfin is like Tuna ...


@TheEdVerse
Silverfin taste like bass but are silver-sided, with silver fins (with black “roots,” so they visually “stand forth” from the silver main body). They are very plentiful, tolerate fresh, salt, and brackish water, and adults are about the size of trout. They’re also durable when packed in oil, so function in Sword Coast cuisine like “tinned sardines” in our modern world. They eat worms, small eels, frogs, and mainly insects, so are readily caught by even an unskilled angler (or easily netted, often just by submerging and anchoring a basket). Best when pan-fried in wine, brandy, or ale, but often rolled in mud with butterweed or wild onion or garlic, and baked in a fire.
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On half-drow:


Aug 25, 2019


@BradSmi18016971
Hi Ed, hope all is well with you. Just wondering if you recieved my question. I was just curious if you had an idea where Half-Drow would be from? I was looking for sometype of surface community that would have drow, and humans but not Dambrath. Any suggestions?


@TheEdVerse
Hi, Brad. I’ve fallen behind on Twitter answers these last few days due to trundling around hospitals getting ready for my heart surgery, and so away from Net access (I’m old school). Sorry for the delay.

There are half-drow who can pass for human (in looks) scattered all over Faerûn. Many of those who aren’t from Dambrath hail from Jhalhoran and Klondor in Mulhorand, or Nezras on the other side of the Dragonsword Mountains.

Which hints that drow may be coming to the surface for other purposes than slaughtering humans, from those peaks.
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On diversity on the Sword Coast:


Aug 22, 2019

@Tagabundok1
In my reading of various 5e Adventur books I've noticed a certain diversity in the human settlements on and near the Sword Coast where the humans there hail from other lands in Toril. I'm wondering is Faerun a sort of melting pot of human culture?

And if so what is the draw for the Turami, the Shou, the Rashemi etc. to settle in that area?


@TheEdVerse
It is a melting pot/draw, because there are so many resources being mined, cut, foraged for, etc. in the Sword Coast North, and so much food grown (and made, like cheese) and drink (wine) along the Sword Coast. It becomes a draw because folk from elsewhere in Faerûn go there to trade (their exports for these resources), and stay to "work the raw materials" themselves to make more coin (e.g. ship home finished goods their countryfolk most want). As a result, the Sword Coast cities are full of folk from "everywhere."
#Realmslore


@Tagabundok1
Okay. I get the resource angle. I'm kind of wondering if the political situation may also be a factor since it's mostly made up of city states which in turn may have a hard time monopolizing those resources.


@TheEdVerse
Sure. The city-states developed because everyone was doing their own thing/wanting to control their own costs and destinies getting at and developing those resources, and every river was a transport highway, so every rivermouth offered a potential port, and the topography encouraged watersheds to be their own political regions & discouraged anyone controlling long strips of coastline. So the geography begat the political situation. Warmer climates/longer growing seasons to the south encouraged larger realms/countries.
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Posted - 04 Sep 2019 :  01:37:03  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
On Gwaeron Windstrom's holy symbol:

Aug 5, 2019


@tatoskok
In the original Gwaeron Windstrom holy symbol, there was an "S" behind the paw and star. Over the years, the "S" disappeared. What was the "S"? Did it represent a winding trail or something else? #Realmslore Thanks


@TheEdVerse
Yes, it represents a winding trail, but also a stream (Gwaeron could track creatures who waded along a shallow stream to try to hide their scent from trackers) and the winds (Gwaeron could catch scents on the wind). Its use faded because mortals can't do these things.
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On named waystops on the Way of the Dragon between Zundle and Waymoot:


@sanishiver
Hello Ed. I hope you are healing up and feeling better.

I was curious if there are any named waystops on the way of the Dragon between Zundle and Waymoot that have room for more than one large merchant caravan for a night?


@TheEdVerse
Haven’t had the surgery yet. Prelimns tomorrow (up at 3 am for the drive: ugh!), so will fall Twitter-silent for a day.
The answer is. I’m afraid, no. The roadside camping-places are very small (room for a small caravan at best), and located where there are streams to provide water. The Crown’s intent is to discourage tarrying in the King’s Forest (and perhaps starting fires, and hunting, and getting lost, and cutting timber) between settlements, which are sited about a day’s travel apart. (One of these small camping places can be seen early in SWORDS OF EVENINGSTAR, when we see Florin encountering a certain spirited noble lady).
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On apartments in the Realms:

Sep 6, 2019


@ivstinus
So, I've been musing the big cities and their economies now - living conditions and "leisure" life. Do cities like Elturel have apartments? And I don't mean the fancy version of the word - just rentable/purchasable housing that is attached and sectioned like an apt.?


@TheEdVerse
Well, I wouldn’t move to Elturel now, for reasons that will soon become apparent. ;}
However, all large towns and all cities on the surface of Faeriun have rooms for rent (by the month or longer term, as opposed to the by-the-night rooms in inns and the “sleep off the drink” rooms available in some taverns) above or in some cases behind ground-floor shops and ground-and/or-floor-above offices. A typical Waterdhavian three- or four-floor row building that isn’t entirely occupied by one business or its owner will have a shop or eatery on the ground floor with storage cellars (and a coal cellar or wood bin) below, then offices or a suite of connected rooms (or two or three suites) rented to a single tenant on the floor above, then one or two floors above that of single rooms with chamberpots, and probably a shared kitchen and a shared garderobe, above that (usually with a low-ceilinged attic above that, given over to old broken furniture and/or pigeons kept for messengger use or more often to be made into pies, and or chickens kept to the eggs and eventually the stewpot).
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Posted - 09 Sep 2019 :  03:29:56  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
On the Zhentarim becoming less evil:

Sep 6, 2019


@SpaceIsVeryBig
I'm lost. In SKT, Tiamat, and a lot of the extended lore, the Zhentarim are described as slavers, murders, and otherwise evil. Yet I got people trying to tell me they're no worse than any other group because the narrator in SCAG says they've gotten, "less evil".


@TheEdVerse
The Zhentarim began as a cabal of mages (and others of Zhentil Keep) led by Manshoon making a grab for political power, by allying with local clergy of Bane (led by Fzoul, and obeying his orders rather than those of the High Imperceptor, head of the faith), and by allying separately with several beholders. So, a strong evil component. The Zhents got control over Zhentil Keep through murder, blackmail, threats, and financial coercion.

Again, evil. They had some allies and members who were from the lower planes (DEFINITELY evil), and after coming into control of Zhentil Keep sought to enrich themselves on an ongoing basis by establishing and/or controlling the shortest, fastest, cheapest trade routes between the Moonsea and the Sword Coast. They resorted to murder and intimidation to dominate the trade in useful metals brought along those routes, and slavery was one of the trades they participated in. So, evil again. They covertly sponsored rebels and troublesome urban gangs in many places to run interference for their own activities, and tried in many places to put ‘puppet’ local rulers in place, and/or corrupt tax collectors, local Watch officers and other lawkeepers, and so on. Not the style of a good organization. They mustered and maintained a standing army for Zhentil Keep, that invaded various Dales and other locales with the aim of conquering them, causing widespread bloodshed and suffering. Evil.

However, as membership changed, over the years, the Zhents saw the need for better Public Relations: a better image for their organization, in order to lessen the fear the very mention of their name caused (driving away potential clients/trading partners who would have nothing to do with them). So they remade their image — a process that was speeded up forcibly when the Spellplague hit and wiped out, or mind-ruined, a lot of their most powerful wizards. And while they never had any sort of formal purge of ‘bad’ members, the passage of years also removed members permanently from their ranks who had participated in many evil acts, blunting any criticism of “Well, they SAY they’re not evil, but I see faces among them who were there at this massacre and that slave-taking raid.” Recent editions of the game have regarded the Zhentarim as one faction among many, who just have a darker past — and for many Zhent members, this can be literally true: they see themselves, and are, simply a tightly-knit, hierarchical, need-to-know trading organization that’s good at intel, and is widely spread and so can compete in trade. It remains true that they place internal discipline and Zhent policy over the say of local laws and authorities (i.e. a typical Zhent would shelter a fellow Zhent on the run from the local Watch, and help that fellow Zhent ‘get away,’ as opposed to turn the fellow Zhent over to the authorities), but that is also true of many guilds, costers, and other playable AdvLeague factions in the setting. Local gossip does remember that the Zhentarim have a dark past, yes, but how evil particular current Zhent members are is up to the DM.
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Posted - 09 Sep 2019 :  03:30:25  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
On lizardfolk:

Sep 4, 2019


@FallenWyvern
Looking up lore for Firenewts and a few of us have started disagreeing. Are they what lizardfolk came from, or were lizardfolk created by sarrukh?

@vorpaldicepress, if I'm wrong I owe you an apology for being stubborn and maybe a coke.


@TheEdVerse
See the Monster Compendium: Monsters of Faerûn (published in 2001): firenewts evolved from lizardfolk.

As for where lizardfolk came from, see Races of Faerûn (2003). They have an ancient culture but no written history, and believe they’ve dwelt in the swamps “since the beginning” and that all civilized races have evolved from weaklings among lizardfolk who could not endure the harsh swamp life and so left the swamps (and so, remain “weaklings” and lesser than lizardfolk).

Most sages, including Elminster and the elf historians of Myth Drannor at its height, believe lizardfolk were an early offshoot of the sarrukh, and were flourishing in the swamps before elves, dwarves, giants, and halflings first came to Toril.

Hope this is of help. As sages are all too fond of saying, “Much truth is lost in the mists of time.”
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Edited by - Wooly Rupert on 09 Sep 2019 03:30:43
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On verbal spell components:

Sep 10, 2019


@ale_mechelli
I wish the wise Elminster could give us a short vocabulary of arcane words that practitioners of the Art often say as V components for casting spells. Like: Fire, time, Air, thunder, cloud, illusory, vines, water, protecion, harm, move...and such.


@TheEdVerse
In the Realms, incantations for the same spell vary from caster to caster. Most casters today didn’t create most of the spells they use; they learned them from a mentor/tutor, from studying a spellbook, or by reading or copying off a scroll, so they’re using the wording a predecessor devised (or got from an even earlier source). So the incantations may rhyme, or not. They may employ words from a variety of languages, or stick to one tongue.

What the incantation is trying to do is to help THAT CASTER properly visualize the spell effect and identify the target/area of effect/direction (and in some cases, intensity and duration, too), as the spell’s material component (if any) is called upon as a focus and/or consumed, and the somatic component (gestures) work to trigger/unleash the magic in proper timing with the incantation or word, to tap the power of the Weave in a specific manner to achieve a particular magical effect. So incantations can vary. There ARE some “go to” arcane words, which sound vaguely to our real-world ears like Latin or Greek, but aren’t, that function as reliable “Weave-tap doorways” for all arcane casters because they’ve been used so often, over so many years, that they’ve established ‘pathways’ (“trained the Weave,” if you will) to call up certain sorts of magical effects.

If you’re still bearing with me after all of this arcane-sage-blather, I WILL get around (probably in more than a year from now, in an ENWorld column) to presenting some of those go-to arcane words I use. A few brief snatches of incantations have appeared in some of my Realms fiction, over the years, but for much of the time the Realms has been published, there was a specific editorial policy (I’m guessing to avoid real-world problems) against publishing full descriptions of the castings of any specific spells.
#Realmslore


@ale_mechelli
Thank you so much Venerable Elminster! So, just to be clear, V component CAN be in elvish, common, dwarvish but also in “unique” tongue (with a bit of taste of Latin and Greek as you said). Can we regard to this one as an “arcane language” per se? Or there can be as many unique languages as (possibly) many magicians practicing the Art?
Thanks again.


@TheEdVerse
There can be as many unique languages as practitioners. And a typical incantation may sound like two or three sentence fragments, all studded with words in many languages, cobbled together, and slang and formal mixed, too.

So, yes, an incantation can be in Elvish, Dwarvish, Common, Draconic, Giant, or use words from those and other languages, mixed with other words from other languages, mixed with 'power words' (arcane words that to non-learned-in-the-Art sound like nonsense words).
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Edited by - Wooly Rupert on 12 Sep 2019 04:31:13
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sleyvas
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wow.... going back to that longer thread earlier... interestingly, Ed's original realms had a continent called Laerakond? It also had one that was longer north/south named "Thuin". You know, the version of the "scholar's view" of Abeir-Toril that shows the big continent as "Katashaka" and the one next to it as "tabaxiland". I think it would be a great homage to Ed to call the one that's "tabaxiland" instead "Thuin". Granted, its probably in absolutely the wrong spot, absolutely the wrong size, absolutely the wrong shape, etc... but still.... to have something that was "Ed's" returned to the realms just makes me happy. I'd been playing with expanding this darn map I've been making to include that one continent, but I hated that it would mean I'd have to include some of the more complex bits of Faerun above it and people would require it to be "accurate". Maybe if I simply put a "this direction lies Faerun" mistiness

@TheEdVerse
Very well written; thumbs up!
In my original Realms, Chult was a wild jungle, with very few human inhabitants, just the handful genetically immune to local serpent venoms (like the wild dwarves), because the place was dominated by serpent races (see the 3e Serpent Kingdoms tome).

"My" Realms had no dinosaurs, but did have a lot of grown-to-jumbo-size reptilian and other monsters (the wildest land monsters from the D&D books, notably lots of gibbering mouthers and lurkers, and tentacled things that became gricks and grells when they came along/were added to the game. So treatment, good/bad/otherwise, of black humans just didn't arise, because there were none. I had dark-skinned humans dwelling beyond Ulgarth, in Raurin and points east (instead of the grafted-on-by-TSR "Oriental Adventures" locales) and on the various island chains west of Faerun, in the Sea of Swords (the "Anchorome" region). There is no Maztica (or Osse) in the original Realms, but instead: Laerakond, and SE of it/SW of Faerun, there's Thuin, a N/S-long-axis continent with dark-skinned human peoples (many squabbling city-states)

@POCGamer
Have you got a map? I'm very curious to see what this looks like.


@TheEdVerse
Heh. SOMEwhere.
Think of a "fat arrowhead pointing north" (actually, more like the spades suit on a deck of cards, only without a base). The curved sides, especially on the SE, are dagged/ragged with many inlets/bays where rivers run down into them, and the largest cities are of course ports sited on the rivermouths. There's a high rock plateau in the NE of Thuin, with towering cliffs (seacaves beneath) plunging down into the sea. NW is jungle. The Thuin (local humans) are (to, groan, borrow a real-world analogue) are about Shakespeare's depiction of the independent Italian city-states (Milan, etc.) era (tights and swords); i.e. flourishing arts and literature, NOT primitive; they garden and harvest the jungles, not clearcutting them. They DO hunt the monsters to "wild breed" them (that is, eliminate the most dangerous ones, spare the 'useful' ones, and the same with useful herbs and edible berry vines and lumber trees; this has the same screwups and pitfalls as all human meddling with the environment, but they understand natural cycles and balance far better than we real-world moderns do, and so make fewer mistakes and eliminate fewer species accidentally or without caring). Most of the civic authorities are matriarchal, there's gender equality (not just power equality, but no linking of societal/family roles to genitalia), and the disputes are generally about wealth or over the direction particular individuals are taking a city, family firm, taxation, etc. and over ownership of oyster beds, stands of valuable trees due to differences in philosophies of stewardship of those resources. Thuin understand prevailing winds and sun, and build their homes accordingly, with communal city buildings that combine shops, workshops, offices, and dwelling-spaces for at least the custodians of the shops, etc.

However, I hear you and will add a hunt for the map to my ever-growing list of "things I've gotta find for fellow fans of the Realms." ;}
This is my life.


Alavairthae, may your skill prevail

Phillip aka Sleyvas

Edited by - sleyvas on 12 Sep 2019 11:05:17
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