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5th Edition and Cormyr: Flexing My Idea Muscle and Thinking Out Loud

A redux of my Ideas thread. It was lost in the September 2016 database failure here at EN World and I am slowly rebuilding it.

This thread is about getting 10 ideas down per day (or as time allows me).


EDIT: It helps to have a good map of Cormyr. While Wizards of the Coast maintains their download archives the best up to date map of Cormyr can be had for free in the article Backdrop: Cormyr by Brian R. James (map by Mike Schley). This is a direct download link for the pdf file.
 
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Iron Pond

From "Seven Swords" by Ed Greenwood (Dragon #74, June 1983), there is mention of a sword that floats in just about any liquid you place it into: Namara, aka "The Sword that Never Sleeps". How to make this an encounter location?

1. Transfer the property of the sword to a body of water. Maybe the sword (and its bearer) drowned in a lake--or better, fell to her death in a deep pond.

2. The sword bearer was an adventurer. She possessed a magical ring that could push water away out to fifteen feet, and create a pocket of everlasting air in its place.

3. Her companions drowned along with her after she went over the muddy edge of a deep shaft at one end of the pond, taking her sword and the adventurer's means of breathing underwater with her.

4. Absent any water to slow her fall, down she went to a bone-shattering landing at the bottom. She managed a painful crawl partly into one of the six or so tunnels that led away from what was once a landing from which dark elves levitated upwards to the surface world, before she succumbed to her injuries.

5. So the adventurers found the ruin they were looking for--it just killed them quickly, all thanks to a little bad luck. The body of the sword bearer is still encased in a bubble of air, and has rotted oddly in the wet muck where she died.

6. Forty years or so later, the Spellplague struck. In the case of the sword bearer, the magic of her sword was swept away in the magical chaos, and dispersed into the natural rock shaft that had served well as a tomb for bold adventurers.

7. One of her fellow adventurers wore magical chain armor that was stripped of all its enchantments by the Spellplague, save for its ability to not rust, and in time what was left of his soggy corpse floated the 20 or so feet to the surface from where it lay.

8. Some years later his body was discovered and the armor looted. Word of the find slowly spread through the woods where the pond was located (let's say the King's Forest, in Cormyr, several miles west of Dhedluk).

9. Today the pond remains a curiosity. Experienced foresters hire out to lead adventurers and anyone with time on their hands and a desire to explore the safer parts of the King's Forest to the pond.

10. Visitors find that the rumors are true: The murky pond water will not admit anything made of iron or iron alloy below its surface without some effort made to push such objects under water, and when those objects are released they float straight up to the surface. A warrior in full plate can lay on the water and sink only an inch or so in, as this is the equivalent of wearing a body-suit made out of life jackets.

11. Water removed from the pond does not retain the quality of keeping iron objects afloat.

12. Efforts to dredge the pond with stone implements tied to ropes turned up bone and decayed clothing and items from two other corpses (other comrades of the sword bearer), and led to the discovery that one end of the pond is quite deep--longer than the 50' of rope used to dredge. This much is common knowledge to those who've visited the pond or talked to others about it.
 
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pontinyc

Villager
Ugh, awfully sorry to see that all of this work was lost. Was loving this thread. Will be an avid follower in the future. Good luck and have fun.
 
Yeah it felt like getting kicked in the digital balls.

Speaking of digital: I am trying to work some of the magic that Morrus laid out for everyone vis-a-vis thread recovery. We'll see how it goes.
 
The Adventurers In Parchment

In my Cormyr sourcebook I introduce a concept called Turning Points.

Turning Points take the concept of the "Defining Event" (from the Folk Hero background, PHB 131) and expand it into full on write ups that describe THE major event in a Character's life that put her on the path of adventure.

One such Turning Point that will be made available in my next sourcebook update is called "Adventurer In Parchment". It describes how several enemies of, and thieves preying on, a merchant of Amn were trapped one by one in a magical book--one that the merchant gloated over every chance he got, by turning the parchment pages and having one sided conversations with the victims depicted therein, one to a page, where he describes how he lured them to their doom. Time eventually caught up with the merchant, and his death by old age set the trap book free in the wider Realms.

Eventually it was scooped up by a mage in Cormyr, who's been patiently freeing the prisoners of the tome for the last several years (and thus a Player Character at some point) and turning them back out into the world.

Thinking about the trap tome...

1. Perhaps it's truly a big book, like the ubiquitous reference dictionary found in any decent library, or one of those atlases whose covers are as wide and long as a suitcase or trunk.

2. Maybe it has the power to form itself (via illusion magic) into other objects; immaculate chests, small coffers, shipping crates, keepsake boxes, etc.

3. The trap tome can be set to go off by whomever is attuned to it.

4. He or she need only open it to the next blank page, and then imagine something like a chest or box, and will the trap tome to take on the look of what is being imagined.

5. I think the trap tome's pages should all be mirrors in frames, with a piece of parchment paper between each mirror page. When you open the trap tome up, you get a mirror on the left and a piece of parchment on the right. Turn the parchment page and you see the back of the next mirror frame, which is covered over in a thin sheet of copper.

6. The frame of each mirror is very thin, and is made of hard metal. The corners are reinforced and covered by metal caps. On each cap is a loop and hook so that one mirror page can be attached to its neighbor.

7. The binding for the book includes two pairs of small L-shaped metal legs that run down each side, and whose "feet" touch in the middle of the binding.

8. These can be folded out to stabilize the book when the trap is set, and its owner looks into the exposed mirror with a shape for the book to take on in the forefront of his or her thoughts.

9. When a victim touches the trap tome, the illusion drops and the mirror immediately captures whomever is closest to it, provided that person is looking into the mirror/sees their reflection in it (note to self: check rules for gaze attacks in the 5E Monster Manual). Once this happens the trap tome closes shut.

10. So maybe the trap tome is really like a rectangular shaped box that's designed to be opened like a chest, its "lid" consisting of all the empty frames whose magical mirrors have captured an unwary victim and transferred the victim's likeness onto the extra parchment page that can be found between each frame.

11. This process consumes the mirror and "burns" the edge of each loose page into the frame that formerly held the mirror, so each page displaying a victim appears as an extremely lifelike painting on parchment of someone in the throes of surprise (and probably despair), set in a durable metal frame backed by shiny copper.

12. I figure the trap's maker designed into the trap tome the option to manually remove each page from the binding, so that trapped victims could be put on display all about one's residence--this is quite the power statement, and warning, to anyone visiting such a home--but the Amnian preferred to hoard his collection and share it with no one but himself.

That works.
 
Playing With A Volo's Guide Index

One of my favorite ways to generate names for places is to take the names listed in various of the entries in any Volo's Guide Index and mix them together.

I use the Volo's Guides this way because their indexes are broken down by categories: Bands & Organizations, Temples & Sacred Sites, Shops, Settlements, Homes, Inns & Rooming Houses, etc., which makes it easy to combine words and parts of names to form something new.

I try to come up with ten interesting sounding names as quick as I can and jot them down. Then I pick the two or three that sound the best and develop them further.

Tonight I'll be using Volo's Guide to the Dalelands.

1. Blackwater's Provisions.

2. Felsharp's Bonepile.

3. The Thirsty Death Knight.

4. The Abbey of Dancing Fire.

5. The Tower of the High Leaves.

6. Stonebow, Stump and Redmark -- Ferrymen.

7. The Lion Bell.

8. The Witch Barracks.

9. Galath's Bellowing Werebat.

10. Spindral's Hand In The Moon.
 
Minor Properties For Magic Items

Brainstorming additional minor properties for magic items (DMG 143).

1. Winking. The surface of this item gleams or flashes momentarily whenever a spell is cast in its vicinity. Range: 120 feet. Intervening barriers of all kinds (Wall of Force, stone, soil, rock) do not prevent this property from functioning, and its range extends in all directions.

2. Levitating. This item does not fall to the ground when let go. This property ceases to function whenever the item is touched, grasped or otherwise manipulated by a creature of any type. If fired or thrown, the item stops moving when its momentum is expended or after it strikes an object, and then remains at its current elevation. This property remains in effect if the item is pushed, towed or otherwise made to move by a tool (such as a rope, stick, or other means).

3. Candlelight. The bearer can use a bonus action to cause the item to shed light equivalent to a candle flame (5' radius bright light and additional 5' dim light) or to shed light equal to the dying embers of a fire (dim light 5' radius), or to extinguish the light.

4. Sunrise/Sunset. The item's appearance changes drastically at sunrise and sunset. The item's basic form does not change (a longsword remains a longsword, a robe a robe, etc.), nor does its magical properties.

5. Flamequench. This item can put out a non-magical fire that it is placed into or made to touch (up to 5' square of flame per turn).

6. Flamespark. This item can ignite a fire, provided sufficient kindling or flammable material is available.

7. Short Term Memory. The bearer can use a bonus action to cause the item to emit the words of any one person that has spoken in the vicinity of the item in the last hour. Once used, the bearer must wait an hour before she can utilize this property again.

8. Written In Steel. The surface of this item crawls with words that appear and disappear as quickly as they are spoken within earshot of its bearer, whenever the bearer holds the item. The language that appears on the item is left to the DM to determine, and the bearer may always read that language as long as she grasps the item.

9. Spellspark. Whenever this item comes into physical contact with another magic item, it emits sparks for up to one round.

10. Moonslave. Under the light of a full moon, this item's appearance transforms considerably. The item's basic form does not change (a longsword remains a longsword, a robe a robe, etc.), nor does its magical properties. While so transformed, the item emits bright light out to 10' and dim light for an additional 10', until the bearer spends a bonus action to command the item to extinguish the light. Once extinguished, the light does not return until the next full moon.
 
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OK, that's page 1 of the old thread recovered.

Try as I might I can't find anything beyond page 5, post #41 via Google searches and cached link searches.

I'll try to get one full page of posts re-posted per day.

Thankee for your patience, and for your continued interest.
 
The 2-4 Line Treatment

Might as well sneak something new in here.

So, three posts above this one I played with a Volo's Guide Index and generated some place names. Let's see if they can't be fleshed out a little.

How? We'll use the 2-4 line treatment: You generate at least two descriptive sentences about the place, but no more than 4. Just bang 'em out. It's like you're running sprints: you run, you rest, you run again.

The fun part about this method is that if you lay out like 20-30 index-generated place names and then apply the method, at some point you're not going to want to stop at four sentences--and I mean you're really not going to want to stop.

When that happens, just keep running. You can get back to the rest of the list later and see if it happens again.

As always, everything that follows is assumed to be in or very near to Cormyr, in the year 1479 DR (The Year of the Ageless One).

And here's a link to the best map of Cormyr ever made. Enjoy!


1. Blackwater's Provisions.
Blackwater's is a provider of miscellaneous goods and services. It's also a moving target. Blackwater's consists of no less than three enormous wagons (sometimes as many as six) that roam up and down the Thunder Way from the prison city of Wheloon to the nominally independent village of Highcastle. Traders and travelers alike on the Way know to look for the Blackwater wagons (their wagon canvas all painted black), as they are sure to find good deals and a safe encampment to rest at overnight.

2. Felsharp's Bonepile.
For all the work done by Suzail's Dung-and-Bone Wagoneers to cart human waste, refuse and animal carcasses out of the city, there remains a substantial amount of bone to be had from Wormpits to the west. Felsharp built his business by finding and selling the bones that even the dung collectors refused to keep for themselves (to be sold off to necromancers, or boiled to produce grease for wagon wheels), and it has steadily grown to the point that the dung collectors are finding better pay in selling bones to Felsharp. Felsharp's Bonepile is located one gently rolling hill before Wormpits, and mercifully upwind from the stench. Felsharp possesses an encyclopedic knowledge of his collection, and is rarely mistaken when it comes to a particular bone's provenance.

3. The Thirsty Death Knight.
In its current form The Thirsty Death Knight serves as a roofless, three-walled structure little taller than its occupants and with its back to the Dragonmere. The entrance consists of a total lack of wall on one side, and its interior walls are painted over in metallic colors with flowing scenes from a play about an undead knight from Monksblade that found peace at last by slaying the descendant of the knight's arch rival living in Marsember, that was once enacted regularly over a five year period by a succession of bored Marsembans, starting around 1450 DR. (At that time the noble slain at the end was always the least popular among the nobility in the City of Spices.) Now the "Thirsty Knight" (as the locals call it) is a gathering place where Marsembans of high and low birth come to mingle day or night, but mostly in the daytime whenever the sun peeks through the clouds to shine of the walls and warm the structure.

4. The Abbey of Dancing Fire.
An unusual collection of squat stone structures comprise this abbey dedicated to the worship of Kossuth; no two are alike, and the occupants come from all over the continent of Faerûn. The abbey's location along the eastern coast of the Wyvernwater (roughly equidistant from Junirill and Hultail) has not spared it the attention of the Crown: Led by Swordcaptain Hannifae Rowanmantle, and based out of Junirill, a ride of forty mounted Purple Dragons visits the abbey once every tenday. For their part, the followers of the Lord of Flames cooperate with the Dragons, and otherwise go about their business venerating their deity. New followers from beyond Cormyr that seek the Abbey are oft escorted by the Dragons to the location, and are given a pointed lesson on Cormyr's laws and customs during the ride.

5. The Tower of High Leaves.
The Tower of High Leaves was fashioned out of an enormous dead Ironwood tree that stands between the southern border of the Hullack Forest and the northeastern coast of the Wyvernwater. The tower was not constructed so much as formed of the hollowed out trunk of the dead tree. Established less than a decade after the onset of the Spellplague, the Tower remains an important school of arcane learning and forest lore. In the decades since the Tower was established the bottom portion of the tree has been slowly hollowed out and reinforced to allow for additional rooms for students, as well as the completion of an inn for the exclusive use of trusted friends and former students of the Tower.


Going to pause here. That's some good work for the night. See you tomorrow.
 
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D&D Products I Wish WotC Would Make

Some of these may already exist...

1. A D&D coloring book for adults.

2. An old school spelling and numbers book that teaches you how to write the alphabet and number systems of various D&D languages.

3. A technical manual/historical reference that details (and includes examples of) all the fonts, typesetting information, inks, paper type, and other information for various D&D products from down the years.

4. Elminster themed pajamas. Also Drizzt, Lord Soth, etc.

5. A spellbook with real parchment pages, wooden covers, etc.

6. A proper dictionary of Realms languages, including words and phrases from monster languages too.

7. Authentic broadsheets and chapbooks of the Realms, like Horkle's Gossip Cauldron or the Waterdeep Wartrumpet.

8. A book detailing carts, wagons and conveyances of the Realms, as well as the different kinds of pack animals that pull them and what's found on the carts.

9. Comforters or whole sheet sets that are D&D themed, or reprint classic artwork on them. For Example, a Waterdeep sheet set where:
  • The fitted sheet has a print of the first level of Undermountain on it from the Undermountain Boxed Set.
  • The top sheet reprints the entirety of the page-sized mega map of Waterdeep (as seen HERE).
  • The comforter features the view of Waterdeep from over the harbor and looking north (as seen HERE).
  • The pillow cases are his and hers; one features a print of Khelben Blackstaff's portrait (head and shoulders), the other Laeral Silverhand.

    10. A CD or audio file featuring music from different D&D worlds produced by one or more professional orchestras, and using as many in-world instruments as possible.

    11. Actual musical instruments from different D&D worlds. They function as instruments and so can be played.
 
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Lets try brainstorming special features for magic items. I like the idea of creating quirks and minor properties that are specific to certain kinds of magic items.

1. [Quirk - Tome] This magical tome must be fed at least once per day, or it does not open. Magical tomes like these can be more finicky than cats, and although they usually eat food, such tomes can consume just about anything. (Note: I once asked Ed Greenwood if there were tomes in Candlekeep that needed to be fed each day, to which he answered "Yes." That would be an interesting job.)

2. [Quirk - Mirror] This magical mirror is punctilious as a majordomo. It requires the bearer (or owner) to observe the niceties of courtly etiquette when speaking to it, and to behave in a manner indicative of the bearer's awe at the wisdom and sagely knowledge the mirror possesses. (Hat tip to Theodora Goss and her poem Sorceress in the Tower.)

3. [Quirk] Opinionated. This item speaks in single word sentences whenever its bearer does something particularly smart, dumb, impressive or lucky. The item is not intelligent, and when it speaks it is voiced by the DM, who determines the item's base mood (friendly, taciturn, etc.) and tone of voice.

4. [Quirk] Unseen. Whenever this item is not worn or wielded, it blends in with its background. The last bearer of this item (or whomever is currently attuned to it) always feels a strong urge to look for the item and pick it up whenever they are not carrying or wielding the item--sort of like Frodo's desire to keep possession of the One Ring, where that desire is on its lowest setting.

5. [Quirk - Weapon] Tuning Fork. Whenever this item strikes something solid, all other objects of the same type at the item within 120' give off an audible note for one round..

6. [Quirk] Bibliophile. This magical tome will not open unless its bearer reads out loud to the tome at least one whole page from a book that the tome has never heard before. The magical tome will accept material from chapbooks and broadsheets (such as The Hunting Horn of the Forest Kingdom from Cormyr, and The Coincradle Life from Amn).

7. [Quirk] Forge Compass. If carefully placed on the surface of a liquid, this item will orient itself in the direction of the place where it was crafted, and will float on the surface of the liquid for one round before sinking.

8. [Minor Property - Weapon] Dead Reckoning. When this item is made to touch any other weapon, this item will speak the name of the last 1d10 beings to have been slain by the touched weapon, at the rate of one name per round. This item does not reveal True Names. If a victim used more than one name, the item reveals only last name the victim used/was called by before they were slain.

9. [Minor Property] Brawler. Whenever the bearer is presented with an opportunity to start a brawl (i.e., not fight-to-the-death combat, though a brawl may well escalate in that direction), the item heightens the bearer's urge to do so by drawing his or her attention to the closest person that looks like they could use a hard punch to the nose.

10. (Not sure if this should be a quirk or a property. Also need a better name.)
Substance Thief. This item's texture and appearance changes to match the texture of the last substance it was made to come into contact with by its bearer. This does not effect the shape or magical properties or qualities of the item. The item does not change to match the substance of whatever is wielding the item (such as turning into calloused flesh to match the rough hands of a fighter, or becoming brown and smooth like the leather gloves worn by a rogue).
 
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More Magic Item Special Features (DMG 142-143)

1. [Minor Property - Deity] Mourning. Whenever a high priest or the head of a major temple passes away, this item emits a loud sound in keeping with the traditions of the faith the item is dedicated to. For example, if the magic item is a serrated longsword bearing the mark of Malar the Beastlord, then the item will emit a long, loud, keening howl. This property functions whether or not the bearer is holding the item.

2. [Minor Property - Temple] Altar Sworn. If the bearer of this item stands before the altar of a deity and swears to undertake a mission on behalf of the temple (such as delivering an important message or object from that temple to another temple of the same faith), then this item will urge its bearer to keep on task, and will provide its bearer with a general sense of the direction they should be going. This lasts until the task is complete or the bearer dies. (Altar Sworn priests transporting parcels that belong to third parties are a not uncommon sight on the major trade routes of the Forgotten Realms.)

3. [Minor Property - Temple] Temple Beacon. The bearer of this item always knows the direction of the holy shrine, altar, temple or holy place that the item was last linked to. Any cleric of the faith may link an item with the Temple Beacon minor property to a holy location of the faith, simply by casting Thaumaturgy in the presence of the item while at the location. Such a casting absorbs the power of the cast spell immediately, ending its duration.

4. [Minor Property - Deity] Broken Oath. Whenever a member of the priesthood (any member, and not just Paladins or spellcasting clerics) commits a major act of heresy, or severely damages some part of the faith as part of an act of apostasy or betrayal, the surface of this item crawls with arcing bolts of lightening for one round (like a Tesla coil). The lightening causes no damage, but it feels like being hit by a taser; during the shock the bearer is gifted with the briefest of visions of the event.

5. [Historical Detail] One Of A Set. The item is one part of a set of magic items created by a particular spellcaster. Former apprentices of the spellcaster, anyone who considers themselves to be the rightful inheritor of all the pieces of the set, collectors of magic items (up to and including dragons) and rival adventurers that own other parts of the set, may all be willing to pay above market rates to buy the item from the PC, or to pay less for cutthroats and bullyblades to slay the PC and take the item on their behalf.

6. [Creator/Intended Use] Unicorn. The item was intended for use by anyone who could tame one of the many black unicorns that once ran in bands through the Wolf Woods.

7. [Minor Property] Vengeance. This item gives its bearer a general sense of the direction of a person or being on whom vengeance must be taken.

8. [Creator/Intended Use] Thrall To A Dragon. This item was crafted by a dragon, and was meant for use by its most valued or trusted followers/servants. Such persons can be identified by a small brand in the hollow between their jaw and skull, just behind one of their ears.

9. [Minor Property] Miniature. At unpredictable times--but no more than once per day--this item conjures up one miniature, mundane replica of itself. The replica appears within line of sight of the item, to a maximum of 120' away.

10. [Minor Property] Crawling. Whenever this item is separated from the being it is attuned to, numerous tiny appendages (read: tiny arms and hands, or tiny legs with feet) extend from its surface and propel the item along at a modest speed. The appendages don't do well on steep inclines, can't reliably be expected to climb anything (DMs call), and disappear as soon as the item finds itself at a point where it can't go any further.

Can you imagine the sight of a magic item trundling along down a road on the way to its owner? I can.
 
Magic Item Special Features (DMG 142-143) and Item Examples Using These Special Features

1. [Minor Property] Dreaming Recall. Grasping this item after you have slept for at least 8 hours causes you to recall in vivid detail, and at random, one memory from any of the dreams you experienced during your long rest. This effect lasts for one round.

2. Example of Dreaming Recall:
Holy Symbol of Tymora
Wondrous Item, rare

This holy symbol possesses the Dreaming Recall minor property. Certain priests of Tymora utilize holy symbols with this property to align their thoughts as part of their morning ritual.

3. Realmslore for the Holy Symbol of Tymora
This holy symbol was forged for priests of Tymora hailing from The Sheltering Hand temple, in Waymoot. Unlike priests trained in the more well known temples of Cormyr (The Lady's House and the Towers of Good Fortune, in Arabel and Suzail, respectively), the Chancepriests of the Sheltering Hand spend a great deal of time analyzing their dreams, believing as they do that the goddess teaches and guides her followers while they sleep. Most of their holy symbols are magically enchanted to reveal a portion of their dreams; that which is revealed is assumed to be of importance to the goddess, and it is believed she selects what is revealed.

4. Example of Dreaming Recall:
Handrazzur's Helpful Pillow
Wondrous Item, uncommon

This pillow possesses the Dreaming Recall minor property. This pillow is all of one piece, and decorated in flourishes and swaths of color. It is amenable to the head of a human-sized or smaller sleeper, and rarely needs to be fluffed, adjusted or washed.

5. Realmslore for Handrazzur's Helpful Pillow:
The merchant wizard Handrazzur, of Arabel, found a ready market for his Helpful Pillows among the numerous elderly sages that live in Cormyr and the Heartlands, for whom the power of recall had deteriorated in their old age, and for which sleep had become a fleeting thing. Not only did Handrazzur's creation help them to sleep better (not by magic; more of a placebo), it allowed them to better recall important ideas and realizations they experienced while dreaming. The sages found competition in Cormyr's nobility, for whom it became the fad of one generation of the highborn to journal their dreams each morning and then to compare them when gathered together, and for a time no fair flower or budding young stag of the realm would allow any peer to see his or her bedchamber without being sure to arrange their Helpful Pillow in a prominent place at the head of their bed.

6. [Minor Property] Magnetic With A Twist. This item is capable of attracting one type of material to itself, in the manner of a magnet. The material can be of any kind, except for iron. The power of the attractive force is about the same as a refrigerator magnet (so not terribly strong, even if the item is itself happens to be quite large).

7. Example of Magnetic With A Twist:
Gloves of Gold Snaring
Wondrous Item, very rare

These gloves possesses the Magnetic With A Twist minor property. While wearing these gloves, your hands are attracted to objects made of gold, or that include significant additions of gold (such as gold inlay and the like). Gold coins readily adhere to your gloves, as do small objects made mostly of gold (like necklaces or earrings). You gain advantage on Sleight of Hand checks made to palm or steal gold objects. Any gold object larger in volume than your closed fist must be grasped by you to be held. The inside of these leather gloves is covered over in a sheen of gold, but they are supple and fit comfortably over your hands--like a second skin.

8. Realmslore for Gloves of Gold Snaring:
The legend of the Merendil Gold is known by most Cormyreans, but far fewer of them bother to look for it than in centuries past. The Merendils were exiled from the Forest Kingdom for their misdeeds, but not before they are said to have secreted away vast sums of wealth throughout Cormyr, most of it hidden behind false walls, in attics and just under the slate tiles of many a roof in the Forest Kingdom, and the rest hidden in plain sight but concealed by mundane or magical means. If the stories are to be believed, spies of the surviving Merendils still haunt the homes of Cormyreans high and low, where the pose as servants or guards or factors, and they possess special leather gloves that allow them to identify gold objects by touch.

9. Example of Altar Sworn (see previous post):
Holy Symbol of the Altar Sworn
Wondrous Item, rare

This holy symbol possesses the Altar Sworn Minor Property. Some priests in the Forgotten Realms utilize this kind of holy symbol to assist them in the task of delivering an important parcel or message from one community to another.

10. Realmslore for Holy Symbol of the Altar Sworn
Temples in the Realms are far more than places to worship, seek blessings and divine guidance, and purchase healing magic. They offer other services, such as moneylending, the safekeeping of important objects--including, but not limited to, piles of coins, gems and trade bars--and delivery services. The later can span larges swaths of terrain, and the service does not come cheap. Priests that perform the deliveries take an oath before the altar of their deity to deliver the item no matter what (seriously, taking this kind of oath is a big deal). Such priests often make use this type of holy symbol to help guide them on their journey.
 
Finding the Middle Between the 5th Edition Dungeon Master's Guide and Volo's Guide to Cormyr For My Cormyr Sourcebook

1. For Kingdom Scale maps (DMG 14), why go with 6 miles per hex? Doesn't 5 miles work better in terms of adding up hexes and computing distances during play at the gaming table? Adding by fives seems easier than adding by sixes, but sixes work better for figuring time of travel, so I'm going to ditch my plan to use 5-mile hexes and go with 6-mile hexes on all Kingdom Scale maps for my Cormyr sourcebook--the first of which is being produced as I write this, somewhere in Australia.

2. If you read Volo's Guide to Cormyr, you get details and lots of it. VGtC doesn't cover every settlement in Cormyr, but the ones it does cover are explained pretty thoroughly. Contrast this with the Dungeon Master's Guide, which is all about the K.I.S.S. method of campaign design (i.e., Keep It Simple, Stupid), and which straight up tells the DM to not include colorful, fluffy details about settlements unless the players start spending more time there--and even then only "as the need arises."

3. If you're me and you are writing a new Cormyr sourcebook, how do you service the needs of players and DMs while also maintaining fidelity to the DMG and to the heaping mountain of Realmslore that has to do with the Cormyr (aka the Forest Kingdom)?

4. The answer is to do what the DMG says. Provide readers with a capsule summary for each town, so that DMs can quickly decide whether or not a given place will make a good starting point for a campaign (that is, decide if the town has what the DM needs to facilitate the campaign story and keep things moving), and so DMs can review the few important details for a settlement that players will need to know whey they stop there to rest and buy supplies. Use some sort of sidebar formatting so DMs can easily find what they need on the page.

5. The answer is also to not do what the DM says. In other words, after the sidebar capsule summary (which naturally should be at the start of every settlement entry) there ought to be a full write-up for the settlement.

6. From a writing and publishing standpoint, it would be easier to write all the capsule summaries first before going back and fleshing them out.

7. Any settlement that serves as a Home Base (DMG 15) needs a roster of NPCs. The DMG seems to assume all the players will be from the same town, so a DM can start building NPCs based off of the player's backgrounds and conveniently place the NPCs in the settlement. But you're not assuming that for your sourcebook. Your core idea is that player characters should originate from all over Cormyr, so their mentors, family, important friends and contacts can be anywhere in the Forest Kingdom. Not sure how I can help a DM here, besides doing what VGtC does: include a whole bunch of NPCs and hope for the best.

8. The DMG advises that the atmosphere of a settlement (DMG 17) should be determined straight away, so it can be used as a guide to figure out everything else. VGtC does a good job of telling readers what a place looks, feels and smells like, and what the place is all about. In fact, the way-markers on Cormyr's roads (little symbols on wooden posts near the road that let you know what town you're about to come upon) also do this; Dhedluk's way-marker is an anvil, Arabel's a six-spoked wagon wheel, so you can expect the sounds of ringing hammers and the smell of forge fires from the former, and endless wagons, haggling merchants and the manure of draft animals and beasts of burden.

9. For Factions and Organizations (DMG 21), VGtC doesn't explain much about the endless number of factions, cabals and trading costers that exist in Cormyr, many of which overlap Cormyr and Sembia, as well as Cormyr and other places in the region. In my not so humble opinion, these lesser knowns are way more important to detail for readers than the latest news on the Harpers and the Zhentarim (two factions that were grossly overused in previous editions of D&D, and both of which are in sidebars as example factions in the DMG). Find other Realmslore for factions (mostly in the latest novels, and in some of the Eye on the Realms articles) and make them as interesting as possible.

10. For concepts like Renown (and Piety), adventurers in Cormyr can find themselves in a position not unlike rising stars (read: celebrities) in Hollywood. This needs a name. Let's call it Prestige. Prestige measures the standing of an adventuring party (not individual adventurers, unless all but one member are dead) vis-a-vis Cormyr's populace. This standing is heavily influenced by whether the Crown of Cormyr has shown favor to the party (like King Azoun of old did after the members of a young band of no name adventurers defended Azoun from Zhentarim assassins; they were dubbed the Swords of Eveningstar and treated with respect by their King before all the people of the village of Espar), and by their deeds and actions outside of adventuring (such as how they treat the locals).

11. What sort of benefits does Prestige grant? Well, from a practical standpoint having a high Prestige score can mean the difference between life and death when the PCs ares staying at an inn and the tonwspeole note the presence of several strangers arriving by night (identifying strangers is any easy thing for locals in a low population area to do). High Prestige means you get a warning from a villager. Low Prestige or possibly negative Prestige means you get no warning, or that the locals tell the strangers where you can be found and what rooms you're sleeping in.

12. This would differ from the rule in the DMG about a character's Renown score never dropping below zero, and that's fine. Players should learn to treat that score as more important than any other reputation metric used in the campaign.

That's it for now. I think the concept of Prestige could easily be adapted by a DM for their own homebrew world.
 
Spell Mantles Then And Now (also Spell Baldrics, sort of)

Spellmantles.

Love them or hate them all you want, Spellmantles are iconic-to-the-Realms elements of magic that are totally awesome to read about in novels, and almost never work in play at the gaming table.

Here's something that deflected spells, blocked spells, drank spell energy, consumed the power of worn magic items, modified cast spells, carried and unleashed hanging spells in a fusillade of arcane power, and did a whole host of other things--again, real cool to read about, but a devil of a thing to make work during play.

2nd Edition tried hard--really hard--to simultaneously portray Spellmantles in the rubric of the AD&D rules while getting them right vis-a-vis the novel descriptions, and (in my not so humble opinion) what we got were overpowered mechanics that were very complicated.

3rd Edition took a step in the right direction. Spellmantles were far less complicated, but not as flavorful. You had one spell that did something spellmantle-ish, and it worked as well as it was intended to (at least in my Realms campaign).

4th Edition...what?

As for 5th Edition, well I guess it's all up to me. And just to keep things interesting, my Cormyr sourcebook is set in 1479 DR--firmly in the time frame of 4th Edition D&D, but my book is written with the 5th Edition D&D rules.

Confused? Good, let's get started.


1. The K.I.S.S. rule applies (see the post above this one): All the properties of the classic Spellmantle should be broken down into their own unique pieces. Regardless of the form those pieces take, they will allbe explained clearly and with as few words as possible.

2. The "pieces" should be both spells and magic items.

3. There should be no one single Spellmantle, as in no single spell called "Spellmantle". Ditto for magic items that create Spellmantle-type effects.

4. Each spell version should be filed under its own name in the spells section of your sourcebook. Ditto magic items. But you should also include a sidebar titled "Where is Spellmantle?" that goes on to list all the spell and item versions you've come up with, and then explains that practitioners of the Art have made numerous versions of the classic Spellmantle down the centuries--and lately have had to rebuild their Spellmantles from the ground up, thanks to the Spellplague severely damaging the Weave. Then go on to say that functioning examples of both are listed in the sourcebook.

5. All spell versions of Spellmantle should be more powerful if cast as a ritual, provided the caster uses certain extra material components (that are of course expensive and hard to find; see Volo's Guide to All Things Magical for examples), or if the caster is aided by other casters in some form of cooperative spellcasting (and cooperative spellcasting is itself a topic for another day). You'll have to go back through each spell version and think of how cooperative casting might change/alter its effects.

6. A basic spell version of Spellmantle should do something like the following:

Laspeera's Simple Spellmantle
3rd-level evocation

Casting Time: 1 action
Range: Self
Components: V, S, F (any single item worn or held by the caster which must be at least 300
gp in value; for every spell slot above 3rd used to cast this spell, the value of the item material
component is increased by 100 gp)
Duration: 1 day, or until just before the end of your next long rest (whichever comes first)

A brilliant blue field of magical energy appears just above your skin and clothing, and then becomes invisible. This field remains for the duration.
Any spell of 1st level or lower cast from outside the field can't affect you or any worn or held item on your person, even if the spell is cast using a higher level spell slot. You are excluded from the areas affected by such spells.
Whenever a spell is prevented from affecting you in this way, fill in one spell slot on your character sheet of equal or higher level to the spell that was prevented. If you do not have an available spell slot, the incoming spell affects you as normal.
This spell ends if all of your spell slots become full; if you drop the material component; if the material component is destroyed; if the material component is removed from your person.
At Higher Levels. When you cast this spell using a 4th level spell slot, it protects you from spells of 2nd level or lower. A 5th level spell slot protects from 3rd level spells, and so on up to the use of a 9th level spell slot, which protects you from spells of 7th level or lower.

7. A basic magic item version would be something like this:

Wendieria's Wand Shield

Ring, uncommon (requires attunement)

This ring is made to fit over any wand; it automatically resizes and stays firmly in place until it is removed by whomever is attuned to the ring. Placing the ring on a wand in this manner suppresses the wand's normal magical properties.
Whenever you hold the wand this ring is placed on, you have advantage on saving throws against spells. Additionally, the hand that is holding the wand is considered to be "free" for the purposes of making Somatic gestures while spellcasting.
This ring may be worn on a finger like any other ring, but it confers no helpful magic to your person.

8. Cycling up the power level, another magic item version might be:

Crown of Arcane Defense
Wondrous item, legendary (requires attunement)

This ornate crown is studded with rare gems, and covered over in fine etchings of arcane runes and depictions of legendary wands, staves and rods.
While wearing this crown you have advantage on saving throws against spells.
Whenever you wear this crown while holding a wand, staff or rod that allows you to cast spells, you may use your Reaction to draw power from the held magic item to prevent a spell from affecting you.
Preventing a spell in this way requires you to use enough charges from the held item to power one of its spells that is of equal level or higher than the incoming spell. There must be sufficient charges in the item, or this property of the crown may not be utilized.
The Crown automatically alerts you to an incoming spell, even if you are not yourself aware that a spell has been cast, and informs you of the name of the incoming spell.
If you succeed in preventing an incoming spell, then if there are any other targets they are not affected by the spell either.
For example: While you are wearing this crown and are holding a Staff of Fire, a foe uses a 6th level spell slot to cast Lightning Bolt at you. The crown alerts you to the incoming spell and identifies it by the spell's name. Because the incoming spell is 3rd level, you choose to react by utilizing the Crown to draw sufficient charges from your staff to power one of its 3rd Level spells (Fireball), and the crown takes those charges and uses them to prevent the incoming Lightening Bolt from harming you.

9. Here's another spell version:

Handrazzur's Spellhate
5th-level evocation

Casting Time: 1 action
Range: Self
Components: V, S, F (any one gemstone worth at least 1,000 gp)
Duration: 1 day, or until just before the end of your next long rest (whichever comes first)

When you cast this spell, select one school of magic from the Player's Handbook (sidebar; PHB 203). For the duration of this spell, no spell of that school may affect you. Likewise, for the duration of the spell you may not cast any spell belonging to the school you selected, nor may you cast spells belonging to the selected school from a magic item.
If you drop the material component, if the material component is destroyed, or if the material component is removed from your person in some way, the spell ends immediately.
At Higher Levels. If you use a 7th level spell slot to cast this spell, you may select two schools of magic. If you use a 9th level spell slot, you may select three schools of magic. In either case, you must have one additional gemstone of at least 1,000 gp per school selected.

10. And finally, another magic item:

Wand of Spell Parrying
Wondrous item, uncommon (requires attunement)

This wand has 7 charges. While you hold this wand, you may use your Reaction and expend a certain number of charges to prevent a spell from affecting you, whenever you see a creature within 60 feet attempt to cast a spell at you.
Make an ability check using your spellcasting ability. The DC equals 10 + the spell's level. On a success, the creature's spell has no effect on you (though it affects any other targets normally).
Preventing a spell in this way requires one charge per level of prevented spell.
Your hand that holds this wand is considered "free" for the purposes of making Somatic gestures.
This wand regains 1d6 + 1 expended charges daily at dawn. If you expend the wand's last charge, roll a d20. On a 1, the wand crumbles into ashes and is destroyed.

********

Alright then. That's a start.

Reminder: I'm no 5th Edition spell expert. These are all off the top of my head. Just like everything else I come up with, I'll refine and revise this material until it's ready for publication.

If you decide to take some of these spells or magic items for a test drive, please let me know in this thread what worked, what didn't, and what failed spectacularly.

Take care and thanks for reading.
 
Continuing With The 2-4 Line Treatment

Alright, alright, alright...that's Page 2 reposted from the trusty Google cache! :cool:

Well then, in keeping with what I did on the new Page 1, here's a brand new post for Page 2.

********

Let's continue on with the 2-4 line treatment for the remaining five location names created in this post.

The first five of those location names were detailed here.


6. Stonebow, Stump and Redmark -- Bargemasters.
The Thunderflow's name conjures up images of impossible rapids and precipitous waterfalls--not the sort of river one would expect to navigate on a barge. However, a great deal of barge traffic flows along the Thunderflow from well up into the Thunder Peaks (where the Thunderflow originates) all the way down to Hultail where the river empties into the eastern arm of the Wyvernwater. A trio of barge owners (Haverndask Stonebow, Rorbar Stump and Doust Redmark) have formed a trading cabal by pooling their resources to purchase two more barges, the better to extend their collective reach past the Thunderflow and into the Wyvernwater as far as Sunset Hill to the west and Junirill to the south. Business may be conducted with any one of the three bargemasters, who are collectively known for charging fair rates, and for their no-questions-asked freight policy.


7. The Lion Bell.
One of a handful of new ale houses to have sprung up in the last century in Thunderstone (itself one of the fastest growing "fortress towns" on Cormyr's long border with Sembia), The Lion Bell consists of a squat lower level that appears far too serious to be a drinking house, with a tower attached to one side. The owner of the Bell (Varimbra Sparrantar) had the tower walled off and its windows sealed shut from the outside, and is quick to point out to anyone who thinks to ask that the ghosts of the tower "are content to remain where they lurk." The tower existed long before the barracks that are now occupied by Varimbra and her guests, and rumor claims the tower is all that remains of a castle keep that stood on one of the many hills that comprise Thunderstone. Still more rumors claim the castle was once the southern bastion of a realm that existed independently of Cormyr many centuries in the past, possibly Espar or even fallen Orva.


8. The Witch Barracks.
The other name given to the ale house knows as the Lion Bell. The Witch Barracks was the less than affectionate name given to the garrison that housed Purple Dragons stationed in Thunderstone. The Dragons never occupied the tower, though there stood a pair of closed doors in the wall shared by the garrison and the tower, that led to the tower's ground floor. The Dragons constructed a ladder on the face of the tower, and used it to climb to the roof where they kept watch (and dispatched Wizards of War that the Dragons grew tired of, alongside any Dragon who drew the short straw for watch duty).

(Ooh, I could keep going with this one!)


9. Galath's Bellowing Werebat.
Located south of the Way of the Manticore between Dreamer's Rock and Monkslblade, Galath's Bellowing Werebat is not a place so much as an attraction--one of many sprinkled along Galath's steading, itself situated on the rolling countryside that separates the Way from the northern shores of the Dragonmere. Galath's "werebat" is as long as a wagon, and its wings fully extended could each shade a fully grown horse. As it happens Galath built his mechanical werebat on a wagon chasis (the better to conceal the bladders of air that feed the horns which sound off when the wings move), and he can attach wheels to the chasis to allow his contraption to be towed wherever Galath desires. The werebat is the latest addition to Galath's collection of "road signs" (as he calls them), which are used to warn trespassers away and to remind travelers where the trail edge ends and his ancestral family lands begin.


10. Spindral's Hand In The Moon.
The ranger Spindral established this minor altar to Selûne in the lee of a pair of run down towers that stand side by side to the west of the village of Monksblade and south of the Way of the Manticore. The towers date back to the days when knights and priests of several deities banded together to scour the region of roaming beasts and other fell threats. This era saw the rise of Cormyr's reputation as a land filled with valiant knights and bold warriors, as well as the construction of fortified temples, towers, and small "foursquare" keeps, several of which linger on in Monksblade and the vicinity. Spindral is long dead, and though adventurers have long sought her corpse in the towers that shade the small altar that stands between them, none have ever found it.


If you don't have a map of Cormyr, you can get one from WotC via their archives HERE (this is a direct download link to the PDF file).
 
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Playing With Wands; Wandlace

First off, I'd like to thank the person who picked up a copy of my Cormyr sourcebook within the last 24 hours. Every time I sell a copy, it feels pretty damn good.

That, and it motivates me to work twice as hard to come up with new content for the next update to my sourcebook (scheduled for November 1st), which you, oh buyer of my book, will receive for free.

Thanks again.

***********

Now, on to the idea generation.

1. A word has been banging around in my head the last couple of days: Wandlace. I wrote it down as soon as I thought of it, figuring my brain was using spare thought cycles to come up with a new kind of magic item linked to wands, like something you'd apply to a wand, or drape over it, for some kind of extra effect.

2. Then it occurred to me this word would make a cool surname. The Wandlaces could be one of the countless interesting families that have long lived in places like Cormyr and the Heartlands of Faerûn, and that see almost no attention from Realms writers because they aren't nobles or royals or adventurers. I figure the Wandlaces have avoided the gilded target (i.e., strived to serve Cormyr with loyalty and honor down the centuries, but refused offers of a noble title from the Crown of Cormyr), and in return the Crown has elevated members of the family to positions of importance at court, and members have stood in high regard among their peers in the War Wizards. Thus, they could be a line of wizards, or at least one of the founding members of the family could have birthed or sired a line of mages, while the other founders may live in other parts of the Realms, and have found success in other things.

3. I think Wandlace should be best known for in the Realms is as some kind of exotic and rare material that is hard to find, expensive to buy, and useful enough to fight over and kill for (at least to some, like certain Red Wizards, or mercenaries tired of hiring ineffective magelings that die too easily and cost too much to replace).

4. I don't think it's too much of a stretch to say the Wandlace family of Cormyr makes the stuff--or are at least rumored to make it; perhaps they don't sell it openly, and like anything else that is highly prized and rare and believed to be crafted somewhere in Cormyr, it's assumed the Crown long ago made a deal whereby it has first and sole access to Wandlace, and that the Court Mage, a member of the Blood Royal, or anyone they designate must approve any sale of Wandlace to others besides the Crown of Cormyr. It's probably also true to say the Wandlaces aren't the only ones who can make the material, and there are likely other individuals in the Realms who weave better/more potent material, and produce it faster.

5. So what is it? Wandlace is a kind of intricate, patterned lace made of fabric produced on something called a Wand Spindle. Wandlace is magical, and when it is sewn into cloth objects it confers certain magical benefits having to do with wands in general.

6. A Wand Spindle is a kind of magical drop spindle that is made of three parts: 1) A magical wand; 2. A whorl made of rune inscribed stone or some exotic, magical metal with a hole in it, which the wand fits through (wands of odd shape are made to resize by the whorl); 3. A hook of mithril that is screwed into the base of the wand. The Wand Spindle may be paired with a distaff--and if the distaff is itself magical then that's a topic for another day. Using the Wand Spindle slowly extracts the magic from the wand and layers it into whatever fibers are being spun into yarn (mundane fibers work just as well as exotic ones). You know the process is done when the wand disintegrates, leaving behind a bundle of yarn, while the hook slowly descends into the hole in the whorl where it remains. The hook can only be removed when the butt of a new wand is pressed into the hole and the hook magically turns and drills itself into the wand.

7. The yarn is carefully woven into lace patterns that are ornate and pleasing to the eye, but that also mimic arcane patterns, runes, glyphs and magical formulae, and that hide in plane sight diagrams that one might find in spellbooks depicting the somatic motions relating to spells belonging to certain schools of magic, as well as phrases that (if properly read) spell out arcane words in tongues older than dragons. What's cool is that the formula for the patterns is so time tested and reliable that a non-spellcaster who's an expert lace pattern maker can produce Wandlace.

8. The product of such intricate work can be found adorning sheathes, gloves, cloaks, other forms of clothing, and even tapestries and curtains, several of which are worn by important courtiers, venerable Wizards of War, Overswords and Battlemasters commanding the ranks of Purple Dragons, the Royals, and adorning certain private rooms in the Royal Palace; all provide magical benefits related to wands and wand magic. Some examples follow.

9. Wand Sheath
Wondrous item; uncommon (possibly rare)

If a wand that you are attuned to is stored in this sheath during the time of day when you would roll to determine the number of charges regained by the wand, this sheath maximizes the die roll. For example, if you stored a Wand of Magic Detection in this sheath, it would regain back 3 charges at dawn, and not 1d3 charges. A Wand of Lightening Bolt would gain back 7 charges, and not 1d6 + 1.

10. Cloak of the Wand Duelist
Wondrous item; uncommon (rare? ...not sure either)

This cloak has 7 charges. While you are wearing this stylish half cloak you may use your Reaction to expend charges from the cloak to prevent the effect of a spell cast by a wand from affecting you, whenever you see a creature withing 60 feet of you casting a spell with a wand. If there are other targets for the spell, or other creatures are present in the area of the spell, they are affected as normal even if your cloak protects you. The number of charges you expend must be equal to the number of expended charges used to cast the spell from the wand. You must announce your intention to React before the DM tells you how many charges you must expend. If you do not have sufficient charges, then the spell's effect occurs as normal and your reaction is used up.


...there's value in letting an idea percolate over a few days, and in waiting until it feels ready to percolate to the surface of your thoughts before sitting down to flesh the idea out.

As always, thank you for reading. Take care.
 
Testing Purple Dragons. Also how the blind/visually impaired are reared in Cormyr.

1. Purple Dragons in modern day Cormyr (1479 DR, the Year of the Ageless One) are tested prior to being assigned to training. These tests run the gamut, and look for traits that might surprise you.

2. The tests attempt to determine magical aptitude. This seems like a no-brainer, but it wasn't until recently (I'd say the last 25-50 years) that part of the recruitment process included a standardized test any Wizard of War could administer to determine if a Dragon-to-be had aptitude for the Art (i.e. spellcasting ability).

3. The tests also look for recruits that suffer from face blindness (prosopagnosia for those of us here on Earth), as well as super-recognizers, i.e., people who never forget faces like you and I never forget how to ride a bike.[1]

4. Recruits that are bonafide super-recognizers may find themselves destined for jobs within the Royal Court or the Royal Palace, there to become courtiers of midling authority whose real job is to note who comes and goes from a particular area. Others will be kept by the Purple Dragons, and trained to stand watch at any important gate in one of Cormyr's major cities, there to keep watch for known thieves, miscreants, criminals and spies. Such are recognized thanks to simple wood and board paintings from descriptions of their likenesses (and in some cases by faces conjured up by spell, whenever a War Wizard talented enough to this sort of thing is around), or from past encounters between the Purple Dragon super recognizer and the criminal. Super-recognizers are given tours of the dungeons where prisoners are kept, and are sometimes given the duty of seeing soon-to-be-freed prisoners off, the better to recognize them in the future if they should return to a life of crime.

5. Recruits that are face blind are not turned away. After all, a face blind Purple Dragon can tell the difference between an orc and a human as easily as the next Dragon, and the only thing one needs to swing a sword is a sturdy arm. That, and a face blind Purple Dragon can still hear voices and follow orders, and is just the sort of person you need guarding you when you meet with others in secret and don't want to worry about your own guard's tongue waggling loose with descriptions of the participants in the latest secret meeting in the Royal Palace, after the Dragon has downed one too many drinks.

6. When it comes to blindness in Cormyr, any child born blind is expected to make their way in the world. They are neither coddled nor given extra care (beyond the training required to learn to navigate on their own). The major temples to the gods in Cormyr do much of this work--not just in the temple, but outside of it thanks to wandering priests and clerics. Note that it is considered socially unacceptable for a family that is flourishing (read: not dirt poor and starving) to abandon a child of theirs that is blind, or to deliberately give a child up to a temple because of the child's blindness. This is not technically against Crown law, but a King's Lord may object to it if he learns such has happened, as will some of the bigger-hearted nobles, and also the fellow Cormyrean citizens that have befriended the family. Social pressure is a real thing in Cormyr.

7. While most temple priests claim their teaching techniques are passed down from the first priest to receive divine inspiration and compelled to aid the blind, most any blind person will tell you they have the dwarves under the mountains to thank because sighted dwarves use the same techniques that blind Cormyreans are taught. The dwarves do this to sound out and "see" tunnels beyond their 60' darkvision limit, and to survive in regions of magical darkness or while under attack by drow. That, and dwarves blinded in combat are not about to stop improving their homes and working for their clans in the tunnels and mines. And they sure as hell will pick up their hammer and go fight when the halls are under attack. Dwarven instructors are the best teachers of the blind.

8. The training blind children receive, regardless of where it is taught or who does the teaching, usually revolves around learning to make loud, sharp sounds with one's mouth that reliably echo off of things like stone walls, cobblestone streets, tree trunks, and to a lesser degree people and draft animals. Secondary training involves learning the most common loud sounds to be found where one lives, and learning how to listen to those sounds to see the world. Children born blind are capable of navigating the streets (or trails) beyond their homes by the age of four or five years of age, and are put to work as soon as they are able. [2]

9. The blind in Cormyr fill a variety of roles. For example, in Arabel there are messenger services that have become part message keeping and retrieving services. These have risen in popularity because they utilize staff members who display prodigious memory skllls and have no ability to see faces. These workers sit in a room joined to an identical room by a common wall, in which a square hole covered by a sliding panel has been built on one side of the wall, and a fine mesh curtain covers the other side of the wall. Customers enter their room, open the panel, and speak clearly and crisply up to 1,000 words in any language they are told the worker knows. The worker memorizes the message and keeps it secret until the day a new customer comes along and speaks the pass phrase that is part of the original 1,000 word message. Then the worker repeats to the new customer all the words in the original message.

10. For a considerable upcharge, the message keeper (aka the worker) will journey with an escort (read: trusted mercenaries or even adventurers looking for work on their downtime or in the Wintertime, when adventuring hits a lull all across the Realms) to meet a specific person at a specific location on a specific date (as spelled out in the original message) and repeat aloud the up to 1,000 words message.

11. Finally, certain forms of spellcasting are dangerous to the sighted, as well as certain spellbooks, magic items, and scrying orbs whose visible emanations ride visible light right through the open eyes of the sighted to cook their brains and burn their memories away. In Cormyr, blind spellcasters are rare, and blind spellcasting assistants are uncommon, but their services are sometimes necessary. (This last is a topic for another day.)


[1] There is a great article in the New Yorker about the topic of face blindness and the discovery of the opposite condition, and of a team of real-life super recognizers working out of Scotland Yard in Great Britain: The Detectives Who Never Forget A Face.

[2] This is a real thing, I kid you not. A podcast called Invisibilia featured an episode titled "How to Become Batman" (January 22nd, 2015), where a blind man walks on the sidewalk and navigates hiking trails alone, clucking loudly to see as he walks and climbs.
 
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Monsters With Extra Lives. Where do the followers of the Beastlord and the Moonmaiden clash?

A fresh entry. That's what's needed here.

Bit of a break from the pattern established in this, the Ideas thread resurrected. After all, I'm not done with filling this page (page 3) up with old posts, at which point I'd cap it with a new post if I were to keep to the pattern.

No matter. Perhaps someone will pass over this post now, only to discover it a few months or even years later, and be delightfully surprised.

It's settled, then. We're writing for a good cause.

********

1. If there really is to be a Huntsman creature included in my Cormyr sourcebook (in a future appendix detailing new monsters, that also includes entries on what the monsters listed in the Monster Manual are up to in Cormyr), then said creature ought to do something interesting, and not just be interesting.

2. What should the Huntsman do? Grant an extra life, of course. (Thanks, Beauty and the Beast).

3. If a Huntsman is a humanoid paired with a four legged animal (typically a human paired with a hound or a wolf), and if the human was once a werewolf and the animal is the essence of lycanthropy that infected the human, then why not make it so that if either the human or animal is slain then both of them die on the spot.

4. 24 hours later the human revives, regardless of what shape the human was in when they were slain. The revivification (say that ten times fast) is the result of the spirit of the lycanthropy returning to the mortal and renewing them one last time.

5. So any Huntsman (which could be a man or woman--it's a tough word to keep gender neutral) that is encountered as a creature (and not as a PC, for which you have plans, or an NPC, since there are plenty of foresters and rangers that fulfill the role of a Huntsman in everyday Cormyr) would have undergone a ritual of purification--even against their will.

6. How? In a manner similar to what I describe here (this is a Discovery via the Hermit Background that will find its way into my sourcebook eventually):
You know that Huntsmen have been a part of the Forest Kingdom for as long as anyone can remember. Before the lands of Cormyr, Orva and Esparin were joined under one banner and the strife in the Wolf Woods was ended, Huntsmen served the rulers of all three rival lands ably. You have seen the men and women in leather armor, each accompanied by a faithful hound or wolf, as they returned from a hunt for criminals and outlaws, and they never failed to catch their prey. During your hermitage you stayed still as a rock whenever you thought a huntsman was nearby--you were no criminal, but you'd angered enough people back home to be banished to the deep heart of the wood, and better safe than sorry. When you saw several huntsmen and their hounds moving through the woods with a captive bound not by ropes, but by chains, your curiosity was piqued. That night, under the full moon, you saw their captive freed in a glade. You didn't expect her to transform into a werewolf, nor did you expect priests of the moon goddess Selûne to be present. The roar of the werewolf was answered by the priests, who let forth a great howl made louder by the Huntsmen and their hounds, and as the howl died away the werewolf fell apart, becoming woman and wolf under the light of the moon. You learned the secret of the Huntsmen that night, and count yourself lucky to have departed before anyone noticed you.
7. The thing I like about this is that it ties forest-based NPCs--especially rangers--to the goddess of the moon (Selûne), as opposed to the typical deities one would associate with foresters, huntsmen, rangers, etc., namely Mielikki, Silvanus, Eldath or even Chauntea.

8. Malar the Beastlord is the other side of this coin. Malar is worshipped openly in Cormyr, and I just can't help but think there's a history between Malar and Selûne that played out for centuries in Cormyr's past, and that is still being played out in the year 1479 DR when the deities are gambling their futures on the actions of mortals, all in preparation for the Sundering taking place 10 years later.

9. That, and human settlers called the forested lands the Wolf Woods well before Faerlthann Obarskyr assumed the throne of the nascent human kingdom called Cormyr.

10. Arabel seems like the perfect place to serve as a backdrop on which the covert--sometimes overt--activities of the followers of both deities are played out. Probably been going on for centuries, if not a millennium.
 
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