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

Cormyrean themed toys I wish Hasbro would produce and sell.

1. Azoun IV action figure. Comes with bed.

2. Queen Fee action figure. Comes with throne.

3. Steel Regent in full armor action figure. Comes with horse.

4. Vangerdahast action figure. Comes with "invisible" chair for Vangey to sit on (made of clear plastic).

5. Huge Thauglomorious (spelling?) action figure. Bigger than the Red Dragon WotC produced for the miniatures line some years back.

6. Amarune and Arclath Delcastle action figures. Sold as a set.

7. The Throne Chamber and Swords of State room play set. Includes secret doors and detachable swords. Purple Dragon guards in ceremonial tabards sold separately.

8. Spawnhall playset. Includes Deepspawn.

9. The Goose of Doom dockside hole in the wall playset.

10. Giogioni (spelling?) and Cat Wyvernspur action figures, sold as a set. Giogioni in Wyvern form sold separately.
 
Things I want to see in future Cormyr sourcebooks/DMs Guild products

1. A map of the Wolf Woods, when Iliphar and the elves were at the peak of their power, that's on par with the Mike Schley map found in the free Backdrop: Cormyr download (article by Brian R. James) available from the WotC website. Show me where the settlements were. What were their names? What places did the elves discover that were of no interest to Old Thauglomorious, but that posed a danger to the elves? Give me a glimpseof the surrounding lands in that map too. This is how you jumpstart my imagination.

2. A noble family focused on in detail. Show me where their holdings are. Give me the names of their residences and castles and show me where they are on a regional map. Give me pictures of those locations and a couple of detailed maps for them. Tell me who is important, who is locked up in Irlingstar, who is a traitor and who is a no account waste of time. Tell me about family treasures, family secrets, moments of bravery, where they died and how they became ennobled. Tell me their titles, ranks at court, status vis-a-vis the a purple Dragons, how the Crown views them and why it's a good idea for PC nobles to come from this family and/or for a DM to use this family in a campaign. Give me lots of names and a lengthy family history from the founder to the modern era.

3. A full page portrait depicting a Deepspawn as it's birthing a creature.

4. Tell me when, and to what extent, the drow were most active on the surface of Cormyr, even if this happened before Cormyr existed.

5. Give me an honest to goodness three to four years of current clack writeups for Cormyr, set in the modern era.

6. A portrait of Iliphar on his throne, surrounded by his closest advisors and his rivals.

7. A giant list of lost treasures, who supposedly lost them, and where the loss took place.

8. A list of Cormyrean dungeons that does not include the Haunted Halls.

9. A handful of currently active adventuring companies, some with rosters.

10. A monthly series of articles, published online or in print form, that covers unique rooms in the Royal Court, and that meanders from one room to the next by describing what hallways, passages, doors, secret doors, etc., link these rooms.
 
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Multimedia: Ideas for sounds to be used in a D&D game set in Cormyr

If WotC ever expanded their offerings to include sound files a DM could call up from a laptop or tablet, here's what I'd like to see included. Not all of these are exactly PG-13, but hey, I'm sure you have your own list of sounds you'd like.

1. The sound of Storm Silverhand's voice as she sings to a newborn baby so the mother can get some rest, somewhere in Cormyr.

2. The sounds in and around Suzail's docks, at the start of a busy day.

3. Nobles conversing in any of the highcoin establishments they frequent in Suzail.

4. Vangerdahast crying.

5. Crown mages practicing with wands that hurl forth magic missiles, fireballs and lightening bolts.

6. Azoun IV making love to Queen Fee.

7. A Xraunrar beholder smacking its lips in anticipation of a meal, somewhere in the Thunder Peaks.

8. Myrmeen Lhal conducting business in Arabel.

9. A wyvern's call.

10. Any good ghost story told by Cormyrean commoners.
 
Troll variants, ghostly animal companions, spell ideas.

1. Can a ghost be an animal companion? Something that lingers near a PC, and grants the PC abilities whenever the PC calls upon the ghost to possess him/her?

2. Spell Idea: Weight of the Mountain
A spell that compliments Heal Metal in that it is used in game to target medium and heavy armor wearing foes. It basically doubles or trebles the weight of a metal item. The spell effect could scale with level, so perhaps if cast in a 9th level spot the weight is multiplied by 10. Alternatively the caster could select more targets. Might be some fun variations here.

3. Monster Idea: Ankle Biters
Troll heads that have been grafted to insect bodies. Delivers a nasty bite and always attacks in swarms.

4. Monster Idea: Throat Crushers
Individual troll arms that have been magically manipulated to grow eyes, such as in the center of the palm and along the forearm and upper arm.

5. The arms feed from a toothy maw where the upper arm would normally attach to a troll shoulder.

6. The creature's instinct has been forged by magic (divine or arcane, whichever works best for your campaign) so that it grapples humanoids with its one hand and tries to get the hand around the humanoid creature's neck.

7. It chokes out its foe while the mouth burrows into the humanoid's gut.

8. It eats out the belly and injects spores that form into newborn trolls in 5+1d10 days.

9. They eat their way out of the corpse and then the Throat Crusher dies.

10. After these newborn trolls become fully grown, if they should ever lose an arm then the limb has a 25% chance (1 on a 1d4) to form into a Throat Crusher.

Good monster idea for the adventure I'm working on in this thread (see a few pages back).

Thanks for reading!
 
Cormyrean NPCs that are unusual/playing against type

1. A heavily muscled War Wizard, shorn of all body hair, his or her skin oiled and smooth.

2. A noble bent over and digging in the dirt by hand, wearing old worn out clothes, indistinguishable from the laborers on either side of him.

3. A dwarf swimming happily in the Wyvernwater.

4. An opulent fortress mansion in the Stonelands.

5. A priest of Mystra hoarding spell scrolls and spellbooks.

6. A Chancepriest with really bad luck.

7. A group of elves digging a mine below the Stormhorns.

8. A group of nobles handing out food and coins to the impoverished and destitute in Suzail.

9. Chartered Adventurers returning all the coins, gems, and lost treasures they just recovered to the original owners of those objects (or possibly their descendants).

10. A squad of Purple Dragons all afflicted with minor magical powers.
 
Let's kill Sraece Telthorn.

First, off, lets pick out all the maneuvers that are flashy from the list created earlier in this thread:
Disarming Attack, Evasive Footwork, Feinting Attack, Lunging Attack, Parry, Riposte

Second, let's review a little bit about Sraece Telthorn (text by Ed Greenwood):
...is a smallish, agile, almost feminine man who can dance, tumble, balance, and spring with a skill and precision matched only by the greatest acrobats (once leaping off a parapet to land perfectly balanced on a sloping, protruding flagstaff far below, for instance, and often springing over the slashing swords of opponents). He teaches “swordplay” (fencing) in Yhaunn and Waterdeep, and is believed to travel between the two by means of secret portals of unknown origin and location. Telthorn lives simply, is unambitious (avoiding power and important patrons, and giving much of his coins away), and is beloved by many pleasure-lasses of Waterdeep, who regard him as a kind friend or honorary brother as well as a frequent client. (via Ed Greenwood/Candlekeep)

Third, let's figure out how Sraece' considerable talent at swordplay ended up in magic items that, if worn by a PC, allows him or her to pull off the flashy maneuvers listed at the top of this post:

1. Sraece was doomed, he just didn't know it yet. But of course we're all doomed in one fashion or another...though I wonder how many of us can say that we've earned the enmity of a dragon we skewered through the heart?

2. Sraece put his best sword through Iymrith's heart when she was riding the body of one her many gargoyles.

3. Note: Not all gargoyles are the stuff of Elemental Earth come to life. Iymrith's are of her own creation, and each successive generation is more sleek, powerful and deadly than the last.

4. Iymrith chose to travel on a lark, and to test a new magic of her own devising that allowed her to see and experience the world through the eyes of a specially prepared gargoyle.

5. She teleported herself as she would her gargoyles. She didn't expect a human to be standing where she appeared, nor did she think he would attack with bared sword.

6. Sraece's lunge was swift, his form perfect. Twelve inches of rapier emerged between the gargoyle's wings, and the exposed length of steel was withdrawn just as swiftly. Iymrith felt little pain before she died.

7. For his part, Sraece did not linger in front of the Gate that had awakened at his presence. He assumed the arrival of the gargoyle was the work of an as yet undetermined foe who'd tracked his covert movements to one of the handful of Gates that carried him between his twin homes of Yhaunn and Waterdeep.

8. For her part, Iymrith had proved a theory that has passed among sages for centuries in the Realms: Teleport spells are not random simply because the magic is difficult to control, but because the presence of powerful magical objects like Gates (Portals to you young whippersnappers) tug on the magic of teleport spells, and sometimes cut the journey short. If your journey goes awry, it's likely there's a Gate nearby.

9. Iymrith did not die. Her defenseless essence was flung brutally back into her body, where the dragon laired in the heart of the nameless city she'd claimed as her own. Her agony and spasms lasted days. It took months for her to learn how to walk again, much less fly. Her stumbling movements destroyed much of what she'd labored to create, and the captive adventurers she'd kept close to her lair fled for their lives as the ground shook around them.

10. The Dragon of the Statues made learning all she could about portals her purpose. But more important was her vengeance. Thus Sraece lived a charmed life. He never saw another gargoyle, and he found that anyone who desired his doom soon discovered others to share their enmity with. Iymrith's reach was long, and she would not allow a mortal to take what she desired most.

11. Sraece was torn apart on the day he died. The stuff of his person was slowly ripped away, one iota at a time, thanks to a trap that captured him when he stepped through a gate. His agony was a thousand times what the dragon experienced. But this was only the beginning.

12. Iymrith's Gate Trap laid bare Sraece' soul, and the dragon tore it apart. She took the essence of his personality and cast it into the silvery in-between that links any two Gates together (where it lingers still, invisibly peering through Gates at will), keeping only his battle experience and knowledge of swordplay. This she bound to his weapons and equipment, to make a servant out of it.

13. For decades after, a whirling and dancing creature composed of nothingness yet wielding rapier and wearing simple clothes terrorized Bedine nomads and anyone foolish enough to approach the Towers Unattainable.

Tomorrow let's figure out how Iymrith lost control of her new servant, and perhaps start work on the sword(s) and clothing of Sraece that have been imbued with the essence of his formidable skill.
 
Devoting our attention to what remains of Sraece

1. The mind of Sraece Telthorn is trapped between two magical Portals (Gates for us old timers). One opens in the vicinity of Waterdeep. The other near Yhaunn.

2. I figure Sraece is some sort of ghost-like creature. How about a Gate Haunt?

3. This would be a new kind of monster. Something that you can see out of the corner of your eye when the creature is not lurking in the in-between--the indefinable something that was forged when two places far part were linked together. The Gate Haunt watches both Gates, waiting to see if someone is coming.

4. I figure Sraece can implant ideas in people's heads when they pass through the Portals, or if they camp near to one of the Portals. Like visions of who or what he was, and the last thing he saw/experienced (the dragon Iymrith ripping him apart in the in-between), to try and get recipients of his visions to search for the dragon's lair, or to send messages to his loved ones, or find a way to free him.

5. I can't imagine Sraece can possess someone like a standard ghost--at least he can't yet. If a PC or NPC figured out someone was in the space between the gates and willingly tried to reach out while stepping from one side to the other, well then Sraece might be able to free himself. Developing stats for a Gate Haunt will be a Topic For Another Day.

6. As for his items: These need to be moved forward in time and separated from the direct control of Iymrith. Sraece was captured around 1375 DR, which is before the Spellplague. And the Spellplague is just what we need. Let's say that the unseen servant-like aspect of the animated swords and gloves and cloak and boots and hat that once belonged to Sraece was either washed away or consumed outright by the Blue Fire, leaving the items behind.

7. Iymrith had probably grown fond of using the servant, and may have sent it further afield over time. After all, the Dragon of the Statues was becoming known for using gargoyles as its eyes and ears in the world, so why not keep an Ace under its wing for use in matters most important to the dragon?

8. So when the Spellplague hits, the magical servant made of force wearing Sraece' gear could have been just about anywhere in the Realms. And when you advance the timeline to 1479 Dr, then there's a good century for them to have been recovered, lost again, and spread out across the continent of Faerûn.

9. There's also the fact that the dragon may well want her prized possessions back. And that's good, because any character/party trying to complete a magic item set ought to face opposition on par with an ancient blue dragon.

10. The magic items bear the essence of Sraece' swordfighting talents. In game terms these are maneuvers granted by the items plus one superiority die, even if you're not a Battle Master. So...
  • Disarming Attack - Either his secondary rapier, or possibly a long dagger. Sraece' fighting style was that of the Duelist, so he didn't fight two-handed unless he had to, and he likely kept a backup rapier in the event he was disarmed, as well as one dagger.
  • Evasive Footwork - why of course, Sraece' boots.
  • Feinting Attack - Sraece' buff coat. A good sturdy buff coat, such as one made of fine leather and quilted on the inside, can turn away daggers and blunt the attack of swords. All the better when you feint and leave yourself open in order to draw your foe in.*
  • Lunging Attack - His primary rapier. It's his signature move, man.
  • Parry - His gloves. These ran from the tips of his fingers to just below his elbows, and were threaded with steel wire. So they were sturdy, but not true gauntlets.
  • Riposte - Sraece' cloak. A cloak can ward off more than the rain. Used wisely, it can bind a foe's weapon long enough to turn their missed thrust into your successful counterattack.


And that's the first set done. I suppose a couple of these items could find their way into the Sundered Tomb. Perhaps the Mercenary Captain owned them right up until the point where she died.


* As noted in Arturo Pérez-Reverte's Captain Alatriste, page 18.
 
Turning My Attention To Turning Points

Time to think up more Turning Points (first discussed here).

On with the ideas!

1. Escapee From Irlingstar – A turning point that fits nicely with the Criminal or Noble backgrounds.

From time to time Cormyrean nobles sentenced to a term of imprisonment for violating Crown law escape their confinement. Thus, you may have recently escaped from the prison castle of Irlingstar, where male nobles who’ve committed crimes against the Crown are imprisoned and made to serve out their sentences far away from the civilized parts of the Forest Kingdom. You may have been smuggled out of the formidable fortress of High Horn or otherwise made your escape from one of the numerous remote hunting lodges owned by the Crown, as both fortress and lodges are used to house female noble prisoners. Now you have decided to make a grand life while you can, or perhaps you've sworn to prove your innocence by obtaining proof that you committed no crimes/bring those who did to justice.


2. Awakened Sword – Supposedly the Ghazneths destroyed Cormyr's mightiest heroes, aka Those Who Sleep, but I say pooh on that. This Turning Point is a good match for the Noble background. Or possibly the Courtier background. (see Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide 146-147)

You are one of the last of Cormyr’s bright young heroes to have been interred in Needlespires, in the Stonelands, alongside the bravest and boldest warriors Cormyr had yet produced. You were meant to sleep away the centuries until the day when all of the Forest Kingdom was imperiled, so that you and yours could be awakened and stand fast against a mortal threat to the Land of the Purple Dragon. You and your fellow sleepers were set upon by a gaze of beholders, and the battle that followed shook the earth. You escaped through a barely functioning portal--one of several meant to guide your fellows to wherever in Cormyr you were needed most. Now you roam a Cormyr that is far older than the land you left behind, and you watch for beholders and their spies wherever you go.


3. Adventurer in Parchment – Here’s an idea I’ve been kicking around in my head for months now. Listing it here so I have everything in one spot.

You were captured and imprisoned by a nefarious Amnian merchant. He kept you in a magical tome that served as both prison and trophy case, its metal frame pages filled with lifelike paintings depicting the startled visages of rival merchants, failed assassins, adventurers and others, all of whom ran afoul of the merchant.


4. Spawn of the Legion Tree – When you mix rebooted Cylons from Battlestar Galactica with ancient elf war magic from the Forgotten Realms, you might get a character like this.

Your understanding of who–and even what–you are is incomplete: you were not born from flesh and blood, but from roots, soil, and leaves. You eat, drink, breathe and love, but your true kin are not mortals. You were a castoff; imperfect and found wanting. The dryads of Aloushe (see THIS MAP) collected you when others of your kind dumped your body near the borders of the Dryad’s woodland realm. They warned your memories are not yours, and that somewhere in the Forest Kingdom there is at least one other person that looks, talks and walks just like you. There may be more. Before the dryads turned you out they warned you to be careful, for the Legion Tree that birthed you most likely assumed you would be seen as an abomination and slain by the dryads. If it discovers you are alive then its minions will come for you and do what the Dryads failed to.


5. Interloper Among the Stalwart – For PCs who may have stumbled their way into a club for adventurers in Suzail. I don’t want to make this a new Background, though it could be.

You found yourself walking alone in the halls of the Society of Stalwart Adventurers, in Suzail. You may have gained access by accidental magic, by a door left unlocked, or by other means. Regardless, the club’s many tomes and magnificent trophies were yours to peruse for the night. Tymora smiled on you, for none of the traps and terrors that lurk in the club snuffed out your life. The next morning you were summarily thrown out with a warning never to return. But no matter, your mind was set: One day you would become an adventurer and earn your way back into the Society, this time as a full member.


6. Victim of the Whorl – For those times when you want to port a character in from another setting or campaign world. This would put a character’s “home base” in the King’s Forest, near Mouth O’ Gargoyles.

You have no memory of who you are or where you came from. You spent the last year recuperating in a forest lodge among others with injuries to their brains and minds. You suffered no physical trauma before you were found wandering in the King's Forest, but the loss of your memories hurts all the same. The day you were declared fit to be released from the lodge was the day you were told that you came from another world.


7. Friend of the Grinning Ghost – Ghosts sometimes reveal things needing done, or that must be set right. The Grinning Ghost is one of several ghosts that linger at Taverton Hall (located at hex 32-M on this map). This puts a character’s origin at or near the ancestral home of the Paertrover noble family, so any of several backgrounds could be chosen to go along with it. Or this may have been an experience had while visiting Taverton Hall or the vicinity of it.

8. Thrall to a Ballad – What kind of ballad? Any one would do, such as the Ballad of the Troll King; aka Woodbrand’s Demise. To me it seems totally plausible that a talented bard singing a song of adventure, or of past events still fresh in the memories of the elders in a village, might entice a young mind to take up the mantle of an adventurer.


9. Spawnhall Flotsam – This Turning Point is not so much an event, as a revelation.

When you came of age, you were told why you have no memories of your childhood. You learned that you were found among the countless fish disgorged by one of the enormous Deepspawn that are housed near the docks in Hultail. No one recognized you. No one claimed you as missing. Crown officials determined you were not abandoned, therefore you were the product of the Deepspawn. The Wizards of War have carefully separated your mind from the will of the Deepspawn–-it has no control over you. You were informed that somewhere in the past the original you was fed to the creature--most likely to dispose of your dead body--and the fact that you exist at all means that body was still alive when the Deepspawn consumed it. You may be a copy but your will is your own, and you are determined to live the life denied to your progenitor. If Tymora smiles upon you then you will uncover the truth behind the death of your progenetor, and learn why the Deepspawn produced you.


10. Child of the Sad Queens – This one ties nicely into Courtier background. Possibly the Noble background too (if the character was of noble blood). Also a possible choice for the Bard class.

You were abandoned among the ghosts and undead that lurk in the Haunted Wing of the Royal Palace, in Suzail. No one claimed you and your parentage could not be determined. That you lived long enough to be found was due to the protection of the “sad queens”--ghosts of court ladies that moved as gracefully in life as they do now in undeath. They kept the other undead of the Haunted Wing at bay while ghostly minstrels put up a racket that drew forth someone made of flesh and blood to see what was the matter. You were raised as a ward of the Palace, and the subject of your parentage has long been a topic of idle converse within its walls.



EDITP Woohoo! This is the last archived thread. Thanks to everyone who rallied in the wake of the database crash by posting instructions on how to recover lost threads via Google. I appreciate it.
 
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Future Cormyr/Realms Product Ideas

1. A map book of modern day Cormyr, that divides the Forest Kingdom up by regions and features detailed maps of those regions. Cities, towns, hamlets, abandoned towns, ruins, odd terrain features, regular terrain features, wizard's towers, noble estates, merchant estates, Crown fortifications, old quarries and mines, battle sites, temples...you name it, it's on the map. And don't include explanations of what everything is. As a DM I can do that. Just give me the names to help me get started.

2. A book of castles...no, scratch that. An ongoing monthly series that focuses on castles in Cormyr. There are SO many of them. I would like to see this series focus on Azoun's Hold and Castle Nacacia to start. Layouts and cutaway artwork a must. Sidebars on the history of castle building in Cormyr would be awesome. Then move on to the castles that have been repurposed to house insane war wizards, retired Purple Dragons and noble criminals.

3. The depths below the Thunder Peaks. Show me where some (not all) of the active and inactive dragon lairs are at. What about illithids and beholders? Where do the Xraunrrar lair? What of the Giants of old? Have sky castles fallen to earth that have yet to be discovered? Where are the dwarves and the drow and the gnomes? The orcs and the hobgoblins? Then tell me how the denizens of the Thunder Peaks have influenced Cormyr down the centuries.

4. A one hundred page book of encounters, with both color and black and white drawings. Not just endless encounter lists, mind, but a concise "why things are the way they are" description of different parts of Cormyr that helps me as a DM to build my own encounters. Compare and contrast different areas to help me get the point. Then tell me about crazy things that happened in Cormyr's past so I can see examples of just how wild it can get. THEN give me the lists and I will be way more amped to use them.

5. Volo's Guide to Magic In Cormyr. And no I don't want yet another description of the magical gear war wizards and Purple Dragons use. Don't spend too much time on the wards of the palace and court, or the creations of the Sword Heralds. Give me everything else instead: all the baubles and trinkets made by mages that have gotten loose, the nature and kinds of magical cast offs that seem to litter the environs around war wizard schools (like the one at Espar), the endless variety and styles of wand crafting and spellbook making--tell me who has influenced the craft and how a PC might distinguish one style from another. Then give me a sample Council of Mages meeting by Ed Greenwood and intersperse the dry details of how such a meeting works around the story. Tell me about still lingering elf magic and what it was old Thauglomorious did to the Weave down the years. Give me mechanics, but keep it light. Tell me where awesome spell ingredients and materials to craft items for spellbooks can be found so I have a direction to send PCs in.

6. Expand Brian Cortino's "Crowns and Mantles: the Ranks and Titles of Cormry" into a full 48 page softcover sourcebook. Give me NPC names that hold various titles and/or ranks at Court. Likewise for the Purple Dragons. Show me what the difference is between a Dragonfang Lord Investigator and a Sceptre of Justice. In other words, use this book as an opportunity to bust out some of the really cool courtly titles and give me the 411 on what the duties they entail and powers they confer.

7. A book of dungeons for Pete's sake! There are enough abandoned castles in Cormyr that some of them must have cellars and tunnels below, so give me names, locations and a few maps, as well as spots sparse on details so I can fill them in myself.

8. A sourcebook featuring an unreliable narrator.

9. An article discussing the Haunted Wing of the Royal Palace, with a cutaway view and some history of this Palace wing.

10. A sourcebook that TEACHES me how to build believable dungeons in Cormyr. I.e. places that make sense, are not out of place and are not just randomly there. This is a book for Ed Greenwood.

11. Any sourcebook, adventure, article or novel set in Cormyr that is the product of a Jeff Grubb and Ed Greenwood team up. Those two make the magic happen.
 
More Encounter Ideas Set In Cormyr

1. A handful of Purple Dragons and a few war wizards battling orcs and an ogre magi. Swords paused mid-swing; spells unleashed, yet fixed in place and unmoving; blood suspended in the air; cries of agony and roars of rage stilled by a force unseen. Who among the PCs will be first to walk into the midst of a battle frozen in place?

2. Every time one of the PCs enters a settlement after a short time away, or finds him or herself in a new location teeming with humanoid NPCs, that PC is always approached within the first ten days by cutthroats and criminals, and the PC is a perpetual magnet for cats of all kinds (including Tressym; see Storm King's Thunder, page 242). These hangers on try to start a conversation (the cats are just friendly), but they don't cause trouble unless accosted, and seem genuinely disappointed if the PC leaves the location or ignores them. Offers to join in on the latest criminal activity are frequent.

3. A merchant mage hawking wares in Arabel. Among the items is a tuning fork that when struck against the metal of any weapon and then placed close to one's ear will whisper the name of the last being to be slain by that weapon. The tuning fork vibrates, but makes no discernible noise, when struck against anything else. The merchant offers to demonstrate its properties to the PCs, if they will just allow her to strike the fork against one of their weapons. The tuning fork costs a paltry 10gp. Double the price of the PCs want to know the origin story of the tuning fork. Alternately, the PCs may have the fork for free if they will trade to the merchant any item they own on which they have bled copiously. (The origin story still costs 10gp, however).

4. Felgolos the Flying Misfortune happens to the PCs. What else do you need?

5. A pair of rooms below ground that are not so much hidden away as rarely ever used, somewhere in southern Cormyr that render into infants anyone who enters the first room, and into elderly old men or women anyone who enters into the second room. The effect is instant, and cannot be prevented by any known magical means (including, Wish spells and similar, as well as antimagic effects). The strange property of the two rooms may be reversed simply by exiting either chamber. Rumor claims any being with at least one Obarskyr ancestor is immune to the effect of the chambers. Still other rumor claims the rooms are leftover remnants of early attempts (read: failures) by the legendary Sword Heralds to create extradimensional spaces. Regardless, the family living above ground have never experienced the effect, though they've all been in the pair of old rooms, and the other chambers and hallways that stretch away from them.

6. A blind young boy, scion of lesser nobility, who can only see when he touches one of the five large scrying spheres found in the cellars below Wizard's Run (see THIS sourcebook). The boy is slowly learning to command the scattered remnants of once animated objects that litter the keep and surrounding lands. He has taken to spying on the residents of nearby farms via a floating gauntlet, through which he can see and hear. Each night the boy searches for more pieces of armor, and hopes to someday have a full suit gathered together. These plans are set aside when his flying gauntlet comes upon a group of adventurers camping for the night (the PCs), whom the boy intends to spy on to learn of their exploits.

7. One thousand gnomes. Maybe they're angry, maybe not. Either way, they're all moving in the same direction and the PCs are in the way. You are the DM; take it from here.

8. Ten thousand hobgoblins march on the Stonelands under Bane's banner. The Hobgoblins make no claim on Cormyr proper, but promise to make war on any force that challenges their claim to the Stonelands in its entirety. Cormyr's ruler offers noble titles to anyone who gives battle to the host and manages to stay their advance long enough for the forces of the Purple Dragon to rally together and march north to defend Cormyr's territory.

9. A small town or village is afflicted with extreme cold, no matter the time of year. The settlement's children appear to do the lion's share of the daily work, while the adults remain indoors until nightfall, when they can be seen milling about their homes. That all the adults in the settlement were slain simultaneously by fell magic is not a secret to the Crown of Cormyr, nor is the presence of a goodly vampire archmage whose skill at Art kept the terrible spell from consuming the lives of everyone in the settlement. That same vampire buried all of the dead and placed a magical token in each of the burial plots that allows willing spirits to materialize in and near their homes, and to speak. The children are very much alive and seem immune to the cold wrought by the presence of so many spectral dead, and they are getting on as best they can. Something lingers outside the village, and it very much wants the children, but it cannot enter thanks to the Vampire's warding magic. Vampire and unknown entity wage a quiet battle while Crown War Wizards search fruitlessly for the entity. Enter PCs stage left, who are drawn in as pawns on one or both sides of the conflict.

10. Another rumored Sword Herald failure: An unassuming cellar room within a nigh-ancient farmhouse north of Marsember. Within the room gravity is reversed, and for the duration of one's stay in the room they do not age. In point of fact the Wizards of War have determined that the room makes living creatures younger; a day inside becomes a day younger, a month for a month, and so on. The farmhouse is occupied and its residents know to avoid the cellar room, but they are unprepared for the arrival of the PCs, whose most recent teleport spell sent them to the cellar room instead. Likewise for the arrival of cuthroats at the command of a nefarious Thentian slaver--the later having been given to believe that the teleport ring he just employed would send him and his force into the midst of an unsuspecting minor noble family from whom the slaver hoped to capture and ransom several of its members. More unusual arrivals will follow.

Thanks for reading.
 
Ten Things Thauglorimorgorus the Black Doom Might Have Done, Or Attempted To Do, To The Weave Of All Magic

Thauglorimorgorus was THE Purple Dragon of old. Thauglor ruled over an unbroken expanse of woods bordered on three sides by mountains, with a star-shaped lake in its center. This land would one day be known as Cormyr.

Iliphar, Lord of Scepters, defeated Thauglor in a feint of honor. This after years of the elf lord's forces stealthily moving through the dragon's demesne and slaying its lesser kin and vassal dragons.

Eventually humans settled the coastal edges of the elf lord's realm. In time the elves retreated from the Wolf Woods.

After nearly 1500 years of rule by humans, what remains of Thauglor's designs in Cormyr, aka the Land of the Purple Dragon?

More to the point, what did Thauglor do to that part of the Weave of all Magic that existed in its domain? After all, dragons and other powerful creatures have tampered with and even modified the Weave in the past, and Thauglor was truly a mighty dragon.


1. Perhaps Thauglor modified the Weave so that it would act as a shield protecting the dragon from the madness brought on by the King Killer Star.

2. Made it possible for the dragon to see and hear anywhere in the geographic region claimed by the dragon, as though it was all one enormous lair.

3. Learned to fall into the Weave and become a part of it, and perhaps become aware of and see the doings of magically gifted mortals, and sense and see/hear whatever is in the presence of magic items.

4. Inadvertently created a magical redoubt that resisted the worst of the Spellplague and so allowed Mystra to have a place to survive until her ascension a century later.

5. Maybe Thauglor searched for extradimensional pockets in the Weave, or created them outright, the better to portion out the dragon's hoard and secret it away. This would have left things ripe for mysterious groups like the Sword Heralds to get to work hunting for the dragon's treasures, and thus leaving plenty of handy extradimensional safeholds in the process (these exist in modern day Cormyr, and are the subject of much conjecture and debate).

6. Made it easier to cow the minds of lesser dragons.

7. Created pockets of raw magical might. Something that could be called upon when Thauglor faced one or more hostile dragons, or several mages of power.

8. Smoothed out the rough edges in the Weave, untied any Weave tangles, and ensured areas of dead magic were few or otherwise remote and walled off so no spy could use them to hide from the Dragon.

9. Left Weave Whispers and echoes of his commands and instructions to his spawn and to his agents, that can be heard in specific places whenever the right spell or spells are cast in that area.

10. Turned it into the ultimate phylactery, and tied it into the blood of Iliphar, and later the blood of the Obarskyrs. So long as the Weave exists (no matter how diminished) and mortals of Royal blood draw breath, Thauglor can never truly die.
 
Treating Magic Items Like Spell Variants.

Earlier in this thread I talked about spell variants. (I just can't remember exactly where in the thread, because I want to link to that post.) It occurred to me on the drive home from work tonight that the basic idea behind spell variants could also apply to magic items.

That is, it's possible to either change or add something to a magic item to make a variant. The variant needs its own name, and it need only point to the original item it mimics, plus list what is different.

To wit (example of a spell variant):

Sling Stone (Variation: Magic Missile)
1st-level conjuration
This spell functions exactly like Magic Missile except that you create hard stones instead of glowing darts of magical force. The damage is bludgeoning.

Just like Magic Missile, there are plenty of magic items in the DMG that players are already familiar with, so they won't need to look them up, and if they do then at least it's in a book they already own, as opposed to having to read text in a product that's mostly a reprint (which is a serious waste of space, in my not so humble opinion, and something a reader would have to be charged extra money for and that is not cool in my not so humble opinion).

OK then. Let's pick a base item. How about the Dancing Sword (DMG:161).

This is a pretty cool item. Flies off and chops foes for you. Keeps your bonuses. Moves around at your command (bonus action, up to 30') and falls to the ground after a quartet of rounds if you're not close enough to grab it out of the air. Oh, and it's very rare (honestly, I think it should just be rare, but no worries) and requires attunement.

So, what are some things we can tweak? We can...

1. Add a bonus. +1, +2 or +3.

2. Double the flight speed to 60'.

3. Change the weapon type to something other than swords.

4. Increase the number of rounds it can hover and attack.

5. Give it another ability, such as being able to perform one of the maneuvers from the Battle Master Archetype.

6. Subtract attunement along with other abilities to make a lesser/less fancier version of the magic item.

7. Tie a theme to the item, to help guide what changes to make to it.

8. Tie a backstory to the item, to help guide what changes to make to it.

9. Create a pair of the magic item, then note how the two items behave slightly differently when in close proximity to each other.

10. Create a version that can pass on the Dancing property to another item once per day.


That's ten ideas, and a good start. Some of these ideas do stray into "whole other magic item" territory, and that's OK too. Let's use one of the ideas to make a variant of Dancing Sword. I like idea #5, so...


Ricocheting Blade (Variation: Dancing Sword)
Weapon (any sword), legendary (requires attunement)

This sword functions exactly like a Dancing Sword. Additionally, if you expend a bonus action to cause the sword to fly up to 30' to another spot within 30 feet of you to attack one creature within 5 feet of it, then you may also apply the effect of a Sweeping Attack (PHB:74) if your attack hits. If you do so, you must choose another creature within 5 feet of the sword to attempt to damage, and you roll one d12 for the superiority die.


Cool! Powerful, but I don't think it's crazy powerful for a Legendary item.

What do you think, Dear Reader? Let me know.
 
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Modeling Rules for Minor Magic Item Properties on Blessings and Charms, Plus New Minor Properties

1. Minor Property: Bloody.
Whenever water touches this magic item, the water is transformed into blood as soon as the water falls away from the item.

2. Lore:
At least one such "bloody" cloak is locked away in the King's Tower in Marsember. Among the Wizards of War who've been tasked to look in on the cloak to confirm its continued presence in the Tower, a story is passed along about vicious street hunts in Marsember's darker days (read: before Cormyr conquered the rebellious independent city once and for all) led by followers of Malar who dwelled in the nearby woodlands.

3. These followers possessed magic capable of cursing a target's outerwear (almost always cloaks in rainy Marsember) that caused them to "bleed" in the frequent downfalls, so the target could be easily tracked on the wet streets.

4. This power was not held exclusively by followers of the Beastlord. The Queen of the Deeps (aka Umberlee) gifted this power to her most loyal followers, who in the past were charged with leading groups into the waters of the Dragonmere to test their faith. Anyone that Umberlee found wanting is said to have been "made to bleed" by her most trusted, and so were easy prey for freshwater predators who long ago learned to heed the siren call of the Queen of the Deeps.

5. Minor Property: Seeding.
Each day this item is worn, held, or its properties are activated, it produces one seed. The seed produced is always the same, and if planted will grow into a non-magical, non-monstrous plant (DM's choice). [Boots]

6. The last word in entry #5 is something I've been experimenting with for the page on magic item properties I hope to include in the next update to my Cormyr sourcebook. The DMG advises Dungeon Masters to pick a new minor property if the one rolled up doesn't make sense (DMG:141), but I think it's also a good idea to include a word in brackets for the sort of magic item that best fits the property.

7. Magical boots that produce a seed when worn makes sense to me. If you're wearing them and walking, a seed that appears under the sole of your boot or that drops from the surface of the boot (or I suppose one that materializes inside your boot, causing you to stop and take the boot off so the seed can be gotten out and tossed away) is likely to find its way into soil and grow.

8. This might make for an interesting surprise if a group of PCs return to an adventure location they had visited several levels ago. Likewise if the PC descendants of an older group of PCs come along to a place where their predecessors had adventured. In either case, the PCs could encounter one or more trees (for example) that all grew tall at or near places where the PCs camped or journeyed somewhere in their past.

9. Another idea I had about magic item Minor Properties and (possibly) for Quirks are a couple of new categories for these Special Features: Inherited and Temporary. These two sub-categories of Minor Properties are sort of like Blessings and Charms (DMG:228), but they only effect magic items.

10. An Inherited Minor Property is one that a magic item gains permanently, by virtue of powerful magic unleashed, exposure to magic that is bent or warped over time, or while in the vicinity of a highly magical place. Some examples might include:
  • A wizard breaking a Staff of Power, for which the explosion might force some of the wizard's inherent magical power into nearby objects, or even items of the wizard's that survived the blast. All the more so if the blast slays another wizard of power.
  • The long-term exposure of a magic item to a Mythal. (Sort of an enormous, invisible, permanent magical bubble that surrounds and protects an elven city, and affords the city residents certain personal magical protections and powers. The most famous was the mythal over Myth Drannor.)
  • A magic item that lay in a treasure pile while in close proximity to an artifact, or a magic item left on an altar most holy of a deity.
  • Ancient dragons may imbue items in their hoard with minor properties through sheer dint of the dragon's raw magical power (and so no item found in a dragon's hoard that is not a recent addition should ever be of the mundane, here's-the-description-in-the-DMG variety).

11. A Temporary Minor Properties are gained by magic items for a short period of time. The power may slowly fade away, or it may cycle through 1-3 different properties before disappearing altogether. A temporary property could be gained by:
  • A new spell crafted by any caster, and one that is designed to grant a Minor Property to a magic item for a limited duration. I.e., a spell that leverages the already-magical nature of a magic item to boost that power in some minor way.
  • A deity, dragon, or other supernatural being gifting the power to the magic items of PCs for acts of courage or valor that are in the range of actions that might allow PCs to receive Charms.
  • An object, magic item or hanging spell designed to aid the PCs on a quest.
  • A ghost or other spectral being that cannot rest until a wrong/misdeed is made right.
 
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Anchoring Spells With Magic Items

1. So...anchoring spells. Seems like magic items would make for good anchors to hang a spell on. Might help in games where there's a spare item that nobody is using, too.

2. What kind of spell to anchor? Hrm...I suppose a spell that targets the caster. Or perhaps one that can target objects. It'd have to be something that doesn't go off instantly (like a Fireball).

3. Magic item creation is never a simple thing (I'm thinking in-world here, and not rules-wise). It's a lot like spellcasting: i.e. highly personal, even when spell formulae are used. That, and magic is magic. It's highly unpredictable, even capricious. And despite what David Gerrold might tell you (in his immediately useful book "Worlds of Wonder: How to Write Science Fiction & Fantasy"), magic doesn't always follow a strict set of rules--especially in the Forgotten Realms, where the rules of magic get rewritten and magic from other worlds is a thing.

4. So not just any old magic item will do for anchoring a spell. The spellcaster using a spell anchor would need to target an item that they are attuned to, or that they've personally crafted themselves.

5. That last bit might unbalance casters in general, but let's leave it for now. Some DMs don't even allow item creation in their games.

6. What else? If you anchor a spell to a magic item, that magic item's properties are suppressed. Period. No getting around this.

7. How long should an anchored spell last? I'd say for as long as the caster remains attuned to the item, or until they spend an action to end the spell. If the spell anchor is an item the caster made, then I suppose the spell would last forever (even if the caster dies). This might be a fun thing to encounter in a dusty, long forgotten dungeon. One way for a rogue, say, or a spellcaster, to know that an item the party just found was made by whomever cast the spell anchored to it.

8. Which leads to another question: What if someone else besides the caster comes along and wants to attune to the item that's being used as a spell anchor? You've already emphasized in #6 above that the item loses all of its properties while a spell is anchored to it...does that include attuning?

9. Well, the DMG (page 136) says a creature must form a bond with an item before its "magical properties can be used." Seems to me like attunement falls outside the prohibition in #6 above. Thus, a creature can attune to a magic item that is being used as a spell anchor.

10. It would be cool if the spell stayed anchored to the item, but no. If a new creature attunes to an item being used as a spell anchor, the anchored spell ends.

11. And as much as I like the idea of a spellcaster being able to anchor spells to any item they have made, I think I am going to scrap that concept for now. It adds another level of complexity/exceptions, and if there's anything that's true about Fifth Edition D&D then it's this: Keep It Simple.

12. I do thing there's room to maybe steal spells that are anchored to items, though. That might be a spell all its own.

13. Anything else? How about limiting what kinds of items can act as anchors, and what level of spells can be anchored? This might add complexity, but maybe it will keep the cheese out, too.

14. Let's say that Uncommon and Rare magic items can act as spell anchors for cantrips, and spells of 1st, 2nd and 3rd level. Note: There are no Common magic items that requires attunement (I just checked the DMG). However, there are a TON of Uncommon magic items that do. Anyway, Rare items can be anchors for spells up to 6th level, Very Rare magic items can be used to anchor a spell of 1st to 8th level, and Legendary magic items can anchor a spell from 1st to 9th level. Again: this only applies to spells with a range of Self or Touch, and with a duration longer than Instantaneous.

15. You know what? Let's limit it to spells that require Concentration only. Fits the theme of this topic a lot better, too, because the spell would free up a spellcaster from always having to concentrate on a commonly used spell.

16. A Topic For Another Day will be to create spells that go outside of these limitations, and tie them to famous casters of the Realms and other worlds, such as Leomund or Agannazar or Otiluke or Presper.

17. Might be a magic item in this, too. A kind of item that readily accepts spells requiring concentration, and then powers that spell until it's either dismissed by the caster, ended by a Dispell Magic, or another spell is cast into the item. That's a Topic For Another Day.

With all this in mind, let's take a crack at writing the actual spell:

Spell Anchor
3rd-level abjuration
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: Touch
Components: V, S, M (one magic item to which you are attuned; see text)
Duration: Instantaneous

You touch a magic item to which you are attuned and cause it to become an anchor for a spell you are maintaining by concentration.
For as long as the spell is anchored you do not need to concentrate to maintain it. During this time all of the magical properties of the targeted magic item are suppressed.
You may spend one action to sever the anchor. Whenever the anchor is severed, the anchored spell ends and the magical properties of the targeted item return.
If you become unattuned to the targeted magic item, if the targeted magic item is destroyed, or if the targeted magic item and the point of origin of the anchored spell are ever separated by a distance of one mile or more, the anchor is severed and the spell ends.
Any other effect that ends the anchored spell (such as a Dispel Magic) severs the anchor.
The rarity of the magic item limits the level of the spell that you can anchor, and determines the maximun distance by which the targeted magic item and anchored spell's point of origin may be separated, as follows:
Common: Cannot be used to anchor spells.
Uncommon: 0 to 3rd level spells; 1 mile.
Rare: 0 to 6th level spells; 10 miles.
Very Rare: 0 8th level spells; 100 miles.
Legendary: 0 to 9th level spells; same plane of existence.

Spells that can be cast with a higher level spell slot require the use of rarer items in order to be anchored. Consult the table above to determine the rarity of the item required to anchor your spell.

********

If someone wouldn't mind finding ways to break this spell, as well as leaving a post here describing the ways it can be cone, I'd appreciate it.
 
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Warlock Fey Pact vis-a-vis The Dryad Queen Radanthe of Aloushe (King's Forest, Cormyr)

If the examples given for Archfey and Great Old Ones that can serve as Warlock Patrons (and as found in the Sword Coast Adventurers Guide) don't work for you, you can always go with Queen Radanthe, ruler of the Dryad Realm of Aloushe within the heart of the King's Forest, in Cormyr.

What are some of the things Radanthe would want a Warlock to do? And what secrets will she reveal to a Warlock she makes a pact with?

Read on.

1. Radanthe desires for Warlocks to do battle with all beings that hunt, capture or slay fey.

2. She wishes to see all fey set free that are currently imprisoned, being experimented on, or are enslaved--especially fey that are being magically compelled to act against their will.

3. Radanthe desires humans to know about fey in general. Because she despises tales of treachery or doom that falsely identify fey as the culprits, as well as stories that don't hew to the truth of what fey are and are not, she expects Warlocks to speak truth to such stories whenever they are overheard.

4. Because the Sundering realigned the planar cosmology of the Forgotten Realms, and because the Sundering largely shored up planar boundaries, many creatures from the Feywild have become stuck in the Realms. While any fey creature seeking to return to the Feywild can do so by traveling to Aloushe and similar fey realms, and from their cross over to the Feywild, it's also true that places like Aloushe are isolated, the journey to them is difficult, and not all fey know where the places in the Realms ruled over by fey are located.

5. Thus, Radanthe will unveil the existence of Fey Crossroads (see the Third Edition sourcebook Magic of Faerûn) to Warlocks she has come to trust, as well as the general location of fey in need, so Warlocks and their allies can accomplish two things.

6. First, they can explore the Crossroads and scour them of any dangers that occupy them, and help any beings lost in the Crossroads to find their way to safety. After all, planar realignments are good for shifting creatures against their will into the spaces between worlds.

7. Second, a Warlock and their companions can locate lost or isolated fey in the Realms, and then guide them back through the Crossroads to Aloushe or a similar fey realm, so the lost fey can either join the Dryad Realm or depart for the Feywild.

8. Because Radanthe's greatest fear is that humans will come to see **all** fey as evil, and so decide to slay fey wherever they are encountered, she will want to know the disposition and doings of fey beasts, and all other terrors associated with fey that humans believe have may have found their way into the Realms from the Feywild.

9. This includes the trolls that have come to plague the region of the King's Forest centered around Waymoot. Combat-minded Warlocks will be the first to receive news from Radanthe about trolls and other terrors that need taking care of. (See Map below)

10. Some beasts will need to be led deeper into woodlands where humans rarely go (such as the Hullack Forest, or the deepest part of Hermit's Wood in southeastern Cormyr), the better to preserve those woodlands and keep humans from despoiling them.

11. In rare cases these creatures will cross back over to the Feywild naturally, provided they are led deep enough into the woodlands. Player character Warlocks will have learned from Radanthe that they have gone far enough into the woods when their shadows no longer stand opposite any light source, but instead always point away from the deep darkness of the wood and in the direction of safety.



Tip of the hat to Aaron Dodson over at the Forgotten Realms Archives group on Facebook for nudging these ideas out of me.
 
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Yon Wizard's Tower Is Not What It Used To Be.

Many an independent mage* calls the Forest Kingdom home.

Some dwell in Cormyr's three principal cities (Arabel, Marsember and Suzail), while others have settled in any of the several villages and trading towns that dot Cormyr's countryside and forests.

Despite the stereotypical notion of wizards as tower-dwelling recluses, the actual number of tower-dwelling wizards residing in Cormyr are not as numerous as one might think. Wizards that desire to live away from Cormyr's population centers are more likely to take up residence in abandoned mansions or any of the dilapidated "foursquare" keeps that have been built, torn down, and then built again over the centuries as Cormyr's borders expanded, as opposed to selecting a site and then constructing a fortified, defended-by-magic tower from scratch.

Of these, few prefer to live like hermits. Most independent practitioners of the Art in Cormyr that have attained a residence in which to practice their Art make use of servants, errand runners, agents and apprentices, and may call upon the help of other mages as well. After all, each task performed by an assistant is one less spell cast per day.

To pay for the help, these mages provide services magical to those that can afford them, while the bulk of their coin is made by selling their expert knowledge of one or more non-magical topics to visitors in need of assistance. (Just like many a sage in Cormyr.)

True tower-dwelling loners don't last long, even in relatively peaceful Cormyr. Most believe their magic to be far more unique than it actually is; likewise their skill at Art. When they attend the monthly Council of Mages meeting in Suzail they are likely to brag above their station, and may sow the seeds of their demise if word of the power they have supposedly attained reach the ears of other rivals or anyone capable of slaying a mage and selling the caster's stolen wares quickly. Such mages have few friends, if any, and the lack of their presence is not likely to be noticed should they fall prey to accident, spell-mishap or treachery.

Wizards of War are believed to place bets on how soon the most arrogant of mages that have recently setup shop in a tower will perish.

Thus, for Dungeon Masters that would like to add a twist to the same old experience of PCs visiting a wizard's tower, I present some ideas below on how to make things interesting.

The tower the PCs are seeking is...

1. …on fire; the door blasted off; smoke erupting from windows absent any glass or shutters, and out of cracks and holes in the tower stone.

2. …falling over. The place literally falls on its side, crashing into the earth with a sound like thunder and sending a rumble through the ground that shakes the earth under the PC's feet as they round the bend.

3. …gone. It was there last time, and filled with what you’d expect to find in a wizard’s tower (at least the parts of it the wizard, her apprentices, and whomever else runs the place allowed you see on your last visit).

4. …small. Very, very, small—about as tall as a dwarf. The wizard walks out, casts a spell to amplify her voice, and proceeds to inform the PCs as to what happened.

5. …surrounded by merchant carts, laborers, factors, horses and the curious. The wizard is nowhere to be found, her servants and students are gone too, and the locals have decided to empty the place out.

6. …not where it used to be. That is, it’s no longer standing in a round clearing surrounded by low hills, just around the bend. Now it stands on the highest of the low hills.

7. …now one of two identical looking towers standing just around the bend. As the PCs turn the corner the wizard appears, waves her hands to signal the PCs to go back the way they came, and follows them. She says the second tower is a rare form of mimic—a gargantuan tower mimic—and they must approach invisibly, because the creature is hungry.

8. …the way it’s always been. However, a different wizard answers the door and he has no idea who it is the PCs are asking after.

9. …no longer there. A sign posted where the tower stood informs the reader as follows, “We’ve moved! Find us in the heart of Redspring (ten miles to the east, as the raven flies).”

10. …not taking visitors, but is hiring guards. A mage moot is taking place inside, and trouble always follows.


* The word "independent" in this case meaning any arcane spellcaster residing in Cormyr that is not a Wizard of War, or a House mage in service to any of Cormyr's noble families.

Until next time, Dear Reader!
 
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Birds of the King’s Forest: The Dwarfbeard Finch

Knowing something of the more mundane creatures and fauna to be found in places like the King's Forest, in Cormyr, is good for Dungeon Masters running campaigns where the Player Characters are low level.

Likewise for generating encounters that help to break the tedium of rest, quest, fight, rest.

Let's start with one of the more colorful--and covetous--birds to be found in Cormyr's largest woodland.

********

1. Dwarfbeard Finches are so named for the thick, colorful feathers that adorn the face and breast of male finches.

2. Dwarfbeard males are of one solid color, usually black or deep blue. Females tend to colors ranging from rock-grey to dun-brown. From beak to tail, a typical male finch is about as long as a handkeg is tall. Females are about half again as large as males.

3. The “beards” of male finches appear during mating season. Males inflate their cheeks and breast, causing the feathers over their faces to extend outward like mustachios and curl downward into the feathers of their breast, the later flowing downward past the finch's clawed toes. Beard feathers change color during mating season: vibrant reds, wholesome browns, straw-colored blonds and loamy blacks. A rare few are the color of snow.

4. Dwarfbeards have not been sighted anywhere else in Cormyr since the forested lands north of Suzail were cleared away and separated into what would one day become the King’s Forest.

5. Males build nests on sturdy branches, over the point where another strong branch grows out from the first. The nests are round and one side is built up into a sort of half-dome roof over the nest.

6. A female finch will land on one of the two branches that run out from the junction that the nest is built on. The male finch will come out from the nest and scamper, elaborately preen, dance and wiggle up and down the other branch, doing his best to coax the female towards the nest.

7. This process almost always fails if the male hasn’t placed a shiny object in the heart of the nest. If the object is suitable, the female will enter the nest, and then the male must sing for as long as it takes for the female to settle in. If she does then the birds will mate, and become a mated pair for life.

8. During the nesting season, male Dwarfbeards are notorious for landing in groups on forest travelers wearing items of clothing and jewelry that shine or flash in the sunlight. Likewise on anyone carrying gleaming magic items or richly adorned armor and weapons (a longsword with a ruby set in its pommel, for example, or armor burnished to a bright sheen). The birds will peck and poke with their long beaks, seeking to dislodge an item and to carry it off before another finch gets it. More than once this has given away the position of an adventurer ignorant of forest lore.

9. Forest goblins and hunters will sometimes lay out glimmering objects in the center of box traps, in the hopes of catching a small meal. These same individuals will climb trees and raid Dwarfbeard nests in the hopes of finding a bauble that can be sold for coin, despite the risk of falling to their deaths or of losing an eye or finger to the sharp beaks of males finches.

10. The lore of Dwarfbeards becomes unreliable as one travels further from the forest. In Suzail, innumerable tales have been printed in chapbooks that claim Dwarfbeards have a knack for finding lost treasures. In Arabel, it's common to claim that a small lost item that can't be found was stolen by a Dwarfbeard (Dwarfbeards are pure forest dwellers, mind, and the few that have been trained as pets or coerced by magic into stealing never stay long with their masters). In villages throughout Cormyr, children are told that male Dwarfbeards continue to embroider their nests with jewels, necklaces, rings and coins. Likewise that the easiest way to send an adventurer up a tree is to tell them a mated pair of Dwarfbeards lives in it.

11. One tale told throughout Cormyr claims a stubborn finch made off with the sapphire-adorned crown of an early king of Cormyr (though just who the King was varies from one telling to the next), and that the crown was used as a frame to build a nest around while the largest sapphire was plucked from its setting by the finch and placed in the center of its nest to attract a mate.
 
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"Dragon Dreams Of The Forest Kingdom"

1. Catchy title, don't you think?

2. There are more dragons sleeping in lairs in the Thunder Peaks and Stormhorns than you might imagine--far more.

3. If all of these dragons were to wake up and go gallivanting through Cormyr, raiding and eating and causing mayhem as they went, they'd all of them be breaking treaties and Draconic Law.

4. Draconic Law bound the mighty black dragon Thauglorimorgorus, when that creature lost a Feint of Honor to the elf Iliphar, known widely in Cormanthyr to the northeast as the Lord of Scepters. And so rule over the Forest Country passed from dragon to elf in the Year of Good Hunting, -205 DR.

5. 231 years later, the Fair Folk of the Forest Country bound themselves by treaty to the human settlers that lived along the southern coast of Iliphar's realm. And so rule over the Forest Country passed from elves to humans in the Year of Opening Doors, 26 DR.

6. Humans have ruled what is now called the Forest Kingdom for fourteen and a half centuries. But the dragons who were once vassals of the mighty Purple Dragon--as Thauglorimorgorus was known--remember when all the forests and mountains were called the Lands of the Purple Dragon. Likewise the dragons that came to the mountains after elves and men took over, the former quietly settling in and waiting.

7. The madness that overwhelms all dragons in the Realms bathed Cormyr--and much of the Heartlands--in destruction. No treaty or Law of Dragons could prevent what occurred in 1018 DR, Year of the Dracorage. If the rumors were true then Old Thaug himself was pulled out of his slumber only to die an unworthy death at the hands of humans of the Forest Kingdom.

8. Yet the dragons that survived saw an opportunity to raid the lairs of their less fortunate kin. Some did this immediately, while others saw first to the defense of their own lairs and the slaying of rivals sure to come knocking at the door, before searching out that rival's lair to take all that could be found. But the lair of Thauglor was never found. Or at least, it was never found in the decade or so following the Rage of Dragons.

9. As the dragons settled back into their lairs, they wondered, "Whither Thauglor?" If the Purple Dragon was truly slain, did it not follow that a grand hoard lay unguarded? The rumblings that ran scattershot through the Thunder Peaks and Stormhorns over the next decade were not earthquakes, but draconic shivers of delight at the thought of so much treasure waiting to be claimed.

10. Some dragons shivered in fear, however, knowing as they did that Thauglor was no mere trickster, but a cunning dragon that had defeated all challengers once century after the next. To hunt for Thauglor's lair was to court disaster--but even they could not resist.

11. The search for Thauglor's lair continues in modern-day Cormyr. Bold adventurers oft proclaim they are searching for it, and these are almost certainly not agents of any of the sleeping dragons that lair in the mountains that surround Cormyr on three sides.

12. Humans and members of the other lesser races who do search for the Lair Most Coveted do not realize they are doing the work of dragons. The few that do often end up dead. A rare few are given to understand just who they are working for; for some this is a thrill, for others a terror. Regardless, the work continues.

13. To be thrall to a dragon is to carry a mark. Usually a tattoo or other subtle mark not easily visible, such as the image of a dragon's head no wider than a fingertip placed behind one's ear that is the color of the dragon to whom the thrall is bound.

14. Such individuals are pieces on a grand chessboard that all the sleeping dragons can see in their mind's eye while they sleep.

15. The minds of sleeping dragons ride the ebb and flow of magic. Simply casting a spell can lure to one's self the Sleeping Eye of a dragon. The caster won't see the eye--it's something far more subtle than the invisible sensor from a Scrying spell--nor will the dragon speak or try to communicate through it. The dragon is after all sleeping, and the eye only watches.

16. Sages have speculated over how sleeping dragons can seem unaffected by centuries of slumber; how they move about as though the changing world never passed them by. The answer is simple: The mind of a dragon remembers what it sees in its sleep. Older dragons are capable of seeing many events at the same time. The eldest can ever so subtly influence these events--if they relate to magic.

17. And with all that out of the way, I think the next best question to ask is: What do the sleeping dragons that lair around modern-day (1491 DR) Cormyr see? Who do they focus on? And what do they truly dream about when the focus of their sleeping minds turns away from the world to ponder ideas or tactics, and imagine outcomes? What does Cormyr under their dreaming draconic thumb look like? And when they are awake, what moves will they make to see their vision turned into a reality?

18. This is fodder for a DMs Guild sourcebook.
 
The Hall Of Living Statues

Secrets are best kept close.

The better to guard them that way.

But dangerous secrets are best shared with trusted friends and allies, the better to share the danger, and the better to act swiftly and decisively when the secret threatens to burst its bonds and wreak havoc.

Let's take a look at one of Cormyr's oldest secrets--one that unfortunately grows with time as more unsuspecting victims are found. It lurks in the Royal Palace, and brings swift doom to anyone not prepared to face it.

********

1. Among the more mundane and rarely visited chambers to be found in the Palace is the North Hall of Storage. It is one of many such storage halls located throughout the Royal Palace, which are used to keep furniture, draperies, linens and all manner of objects, much of which is rotated back into the Palace over time as the tastes of new rulers and senior courtiers determines the appearance of the Palace proper.

2. A handful of persons know the true name of the North Hall, as well as its purpose. These including various of the Royal Family, the Mage Royal and Crown Mage, the senior duty wizard assigned to the Hall’s defense, the Purple Dragons that stand guard at the entrance to the Hall, and the blind attendants that maintain the hall day and night.

3. To these persons the North Hall is properly known as the Hall of Living Statues. This hall is not a complete mystery, and like other "legendary" rooms in the Palace it is hidden in plain sight. The stories surrounding such rooms have been for centuries used by fodder for stories told by off duty courtiers seeking free drinks, and to scare the children, doorjacks and apprentice courtiers that live and work within the Royal Court and Palace.

4. This is by design, and so the Hall of Living Statues is known by a thousand stories and rumors, and is one of many places in the Palace (and in greater Cormyr) that everyone has heard about but nobody has actually seen.

5. Within the Hall, one may find over four hundred and fifty lifelike statues of Cormyreans (and not a few outlanders), all exquisitely detailed and lifelike. They statues depict nobles and well to do merchants, their servants, along with a handful of others one might expect to find at any of the exclusive eateries along the Promenade; everyday Cormyreans in the dress of laborers and farmers, with the tools of their trade in hand.

6. The oldest pieces depict Cormyreans from over twelve hundred years in the past. The most recent additions to the collection depict Cormyreans in modern styles of dress.

7. All the statues share one trait in common, for black hoods have been placed over the heads of all the statues. The blind attendants remove the hoods every morning, and replace them in the evening.

8. The Hall is tall, its while walls undecorated, its iron barred windows spaced evenly along one side of the room and standing over twenty feet in the air. The windows are square and small, and little sunlight passes through them. Old enchantments still bathe the windows, and so they throw radiance into the Hall as though the sun were shining directly into it for as long as the sun rides the sky.

9. The attendants greet each statue by name. For the oldest statues, all are addressed as “Lady” or “Lord,” for the names belonging to these statues are unknown.

10. Of late, a woman has visited the Hall, first in the presence of the Keeper and the blind attendants, and lately on her own. She wears a blindfold and speaks in an accent archaic. Her clothing is ancient, but it echoes the styles worn by the eldest of the statues.

11. The flesh and blood eyes of the eldest statues have only started to register her presence. The eyes of the younger statues betray their keen interest in the woman.

12. Her presence is welcomed by the blind attendants, who hope she will find kin among the elder statues, and perhaps remember their names. The other guardians have fallen to gossiping over the provenance of the woman, who is properly styled a Lady, and when not in her presence they wonder aloud if the rumors of her arrival in the Palace are true.
 
Of Kelemvor and the Raven Queen

1. By the year 1491 DR (approximately the current game year in the Forgotten Realms), one may find in certain temples of Kelemvor that the deity is being depicted not strictly as male, but also female. Such places include the Vault of Restful Dead (in Cormyr), and in various lesser temples as may be found throughout the Heartlands as far west as the Sword Coast.

2. Some worshipers living near these temples have purchased special coins of oversized make (about as large as a human palm) that depict Kelemvor in profile on one side and a woman on the other. Just what boon these coins are meant to grant remains a topic of debate throughout the Heartlands.

3. A rare few of the coins—those possessed by priests of the aforementioned temples—show a panther on one side and a raven on the other.

4. These changes have not gone unnoticed; scholarly debate among sages versed in divine lore rides the merchant roads in the form of letters, broadsheets and competing books of sagely lore and thought on the topic of Kelemvor's "changing face."

5. Those same roads carry itinerant priests of the Lord of the Dead accompanied by armed and armored Doomguides, the former carrying messages in their minds that are meant only for the most holy ears of the high priests of certain Kelemvorite temples, where debate over the behavior of the priests of lesser temples has risen to the level of concern, but not quite alarm.

6. The contents of these messages vary; some decry the changed face of Kelemvor and call for any priest espousing such ideas to be rooted out and banished.

9. Others council patience, and claim that if these change be a true one then Kelemvor will reveal the truth in due time.

10. If it not be a true change, then the deity will reveal this as well, and then work can begin to cleanse the faith of the influence of whatever interloper power is at work.

11. At least two sages—one in Priapurl, the other in Baldur’s Gate—claim knowledge of a deity of death with a reach that spans many worlds, but whose influence is not yet great in Faerûn, and both sages refer to this deity in their writings as the Raven Queen.

12. This last fact is the only point of agreement between the two sages: the first is Haphstil of Priapurl, who catalogs and publishes (often without consent) the most sacred of divine rights, chants, prayers and other activities of the worshipers of several deities; the second is called Alcalebra and she is as much seer as sage, and she may be found in the disrespectfully named (in Alcelabra's opinion) community known as Little Calimshan, within the city of Baldur’s Gate.

13. Haphstil claims that Kelemvor is simply growing as a deity, and becoming more accessible by doing much the same as other, older deities have always done in the Realms by manifesting as man or woman as the situation requires--the resemblance to the Raven Queen being only superficial in nature.

14. Alcelabra claims that Kelemvor is still young by divine standards, that he yearns for companionship, and that he has found it in the Raven Queen, herself a diety Alcelabra is certain is already taking advantage of the situation, and who will someday subsume Kelemvor entirely.
 
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