The World of
Paerun is no more than a small territory hugging a larger world, which in turn is only the third world of eight orbiting a central sun, which is entirely encapsulated in a crystal sphere within a swirling chaos, which in turn is only one in myriad alternate dimensions. But for the races of Toril, for the elves and dwarves and gnomes and halflings and humans, Faer-6n has a very important name: It is home.
and its Continents
Abeir-toril (AH-BEER Tor-RILL), more commonly called Toril, is the name of the orb that Faerun and the Forgotten Realms are set upon, just as Earth is the orb that Eurasia is set upon. The name is archaic, meaning cradle of life, and is rarely used in everyday speech.
Abeir-Toril is an Earth-sized planet dominated by a large continent in its northern hemisphere as well as a number of other large landmasses scattered about its surface. This northern continent is called FaerCin in the west, Kara-Tur in the east, and Zakhara in the south. It is the primary purpose of this tome to deal with the western portion of this huge landmass, in particular the region in Faerfin between the Sword Coast and the Inner Sea.
Abeir-Toril has a single satellite, Selone (also the name of the goddess of the night sky and navigation). This luminous, heavenly body is followed in its path across the sky by a collection of shining shards, called the Tears of Sel6ne. These tears are said to be nothing more than a cluster of ordinary asteroids and debris that trail the moon in its path, yet the Tears remain reflective and bright even when the moon is new in the sky.
In addition to the moon, there are seven visible planets that wander against the star-inisted sky. They are dusky Anadia, green Coliar, blue Karpri and Chandos, ringed Glyth, odd-appearing Garden, and disk-shaped H'Catha. All follow regular paths around the sun. The stars are distant and eternal, and form themselves into patterns and constellations that each culture names according to its own desires.
A Torillian year is 365 days of 24 hours each. An orbit of Selrine is roughly 30 days. For further information on the calendar, refer to the Time in the Realms section in the "Faerrin" chapter.
Faerun (Fay-ROON) is the cradle of the Realms, the heart of the FORGOTTEN REALMS' campaign setting. In discussion, Faerun and the Realms are used interchangeably. Faerun consists of the northwest quarter of the dominant continent on Toril. It is bounded on the west by the Trackless Sea, on the east by the Great Sea, on the east by the wide expanses of the Hordelands, and on the north by the ice of the uttermost north. The continent includes a number of large off-shore islands, including Lantan, Nimbrall the Moonshaes, fabled Anchorome, and Evermeet.
Beyond the lands of Thay and Rashemen is a land of endless emptiness, paling with its vast openness even the Shaar to the south or the Fields of the Dead in the Western Heartlands. It is a treeless land occupied by barbarian herdsmen and raiders, the hollow link between Faerun and Kara-Tur. It is called the Endless Waste in old texts. Its people call it Taan and themselves the Tuigan. The modern natives of Faerun call it the Hordelands, for out of this land came the engine of destruction known as the Horde.
Two years after the Time of Troubles, the barbarian tribes of this land united and like a swarm of ants surged westward into the lands of Faerun. They conquered all that stood in their way, and even the Red Wizards of Thay paid kind words and hard tribute to their majesty. Under the leadership of Yamun Khahan, they boiled into the civilized lands of the Unapproachable East.
The Horde was turned back by the combined efforts of an alliance of western nations under the leadership of King Azoun IV of Cormyr. Yamun Khahan was slain and the Horde disbanded, some of its elements returning to their barren land, others settling on the lands of their newfound conquests.
The Horde has left its mark on the Realms, with a new flood of refugees and immigrants moving westward into Impiltur and the Vast. The Sea of Fallen Stars has carried these newcomers to all of its ports and beyond, and new heroes and legends have erupted in their wake.
And still the Hordelands sit like a watchful beast eying both Faerun and Kara-Tur, and none know when they will erupt again in another Horde, and who can turn it back if they do.
Beyond the emptiness of the Hordelands lies a mystical and magical land known as Kara-Tur (Kah-rah-TOUR). It is a region very different from the lands of the Realms, and in the past only the hints of whispers of legends have come across that land to this. With the coming of the Horde and the wave of refugees pressed before it, more facts, legends, and tales of this land have passed from talespinner to talespinner. Many stories that cannot be placed elsewhere are said to come "from Kara-Tur when the world was still new."
The more amazing of the tales, of mortals passing through walls without magic, steam-breathing dragons, or warriors with hidden powers, are easily discounted or explained. However, it remains that the lands of Kara-Tur are very much unlike the native Realms.
Kara-Tur is known for two of its great nations, Shou Lung and Kozakura. Shou Lung may be the mightiest empire in the world, overshadowing the early days of Mulhorand, and the entire empire is ruled from a central city by an sage king advised by the spirits of his predecessors. Kozakura is equally famous as an island of warriors where duty and honor mean all to the loyal samurai and wandering ronin.
Kara-Tur's influence on Faerun is only distantly felt, and then mostly in the form of some tavern tale of great riches and wise dragons, or in some mysterious artifact which appears in the court of a distant king. However, there are occasional travelers, both merchants and adventurers, from west to east and vice-versa, and care must be taken before challenging one of Kara-Tur's legendary warriors in combat.
Beyond Evermeet in the Trackless Sea is a continent until recently unrevealed, known to its inhabitants as Maztica (Mahz-TEEka), the True World. Its existence has been hinted at in various tales over the millennia, but only with the voyage of Captain Cordell in 1361 DR was the drape of isolation ripped aside and the True World revealed.
Maztica is a wild and almost untouched land, dominated by great jungles and thick forests. Its peoples live simply in small communities or religion-based city-states. Their magics derive not from conventional (read "elder kingdoms") forces, but through focii of feathers and claws. The entire scope of these abilities, and the True World's new gods, is unknown.
The revelation of Maztica has had little effect on the bulk of the Realms, as there are more than enough new places to go and new monsters to vanquish without making a long sea voyage. The greatest effects have taken place in the Empires of the Sands and the island kingdom of Lantan, all of whom have laid claims to wide swaths of the new land (without consulting those who were living on it before the revelation). New riches have poured into these lands, making their rulers more powerful, but sending costs skyrocketing for commoners.
Six years after the revelation, much is still unknown about this far land. Maztican individuals and artifacts have been drifting into the Realms, a subject of comment and curiosity. The strange feather magic (pluma) and claw magic (hishna) have daunted sages, new vegetables have appeared in Faerfin, brought from Maztica, and the warriors of Maztica, like warriors throughout the world, are judged by the strength of their arms and the spirit in their hearts.
Far to the south, beyond the fabled lands of Halruaa and Luiren, of Durpar and Var the Golden, is a very different world, as alien as Maztica and as powerful as Kara-Tur. Located on the far side of the Great Sea, it is a hot, dry land of deserts and rocky mountains, its great cities hugging the coastlines for trade and water. It is a land of magic unknown in the north, of powerful monsters and more-powerful rulers. It is known as Zakhara (Zah-KARRah), the Burning World, the Land of Fate.
Zakharan culture at first blush seems to be related to that of the Empires of the Sands, or the desert tribes of Anauroch, and indeed there may be a long-distant connection, magical or otherwise. But the Land of Fate is a solid, unified culture unsullied by what the inhabitants laughingly call the Barbarian North. Its gods are unified into a single pantheon, and its leaders call heavily upon genies to solve every problem that confronts them. Items such as diinn rings and flying carpets that are infrequently encountered in the Realms are rumored to be sold on the open market in Zakhara, and every person bom to that land is said to be royalty. The truth of such claims may be distorted by the distance the tales have traveled.
Zakhara, like Kara-Tur, is separated from Faer6n by a great empty expanse, such that those who brave the Great Sea are most often adventurers and merchants who seek the new, the novel, and the profitable. The traveler should be warned, however, that Zakharans are firm in their belief that they are much, much more advanced and civilized than any other people, and treat others accordingly.
Races in the
The Realms are home to a myriad number of sentient races, Tmost of which are in direct competition with each other for land, food, and survival. Humankind is the most successful of the major races in FaerCin, but the race's supreme position is by no means a sure and secure one. Humans share their position with other older, generally benevolent races: dwarves, elves (and human-elf hybrids), halflings, and gnomes. Yet humans and the other elder races are regularly threatened by goblins of all descriptions, underwater and underground races, and most importantly, the powerful and dangerous dragons.
The most populous and strongest of the major races of the Forgotten Realms, humans are considered the dominant race in Faerun. Humankind in Faerun comes in all shapes, sizes, and colors. Individuals sometimes show the height of the halflings, the stockiness of the dwarf, or the slenderness of the elf, yet remain completely human. Human skin color ranges from the pale, almost translucent Lantanese to the dusky, dark-eyed natives of Unther, with all shades in between.
The concept of subraces, common in other races such as halflings and elves, does not exist in humankind. Alt nationalities and races of humans can interbreed without difficulty, and their children, unlike the elves, will have traits of either or both parents. After a time, any isolated group of humans tends to establish its own traits, which may change in a few generations with the introduction of new settlers or invaders. This easy assimilation may account for the success of the race over others.
Humankind is also one of the most aggressive of the major races, approaching the goblins in ferocity and the dwarves in its single-minded drive when aroused to battle. At any time in the North, some group of humans, often with nonhuman allies, is fighting some other group (usually of humans and nonhuman allies). The dwarves think that humans battle indiscriminately among themselves because their lives are so short and therefore meaningless. The elves think they are aggressive because humanity has not yet figured out how to communicate properly.
Humankind has a spoken and written language that is accepted as Realmspeak and Tradetongue even between nonhumans as a form of common language (and is known casually as common) Humans have developed the idea of money beyond the dwarven conception of raw ore accumulated into a maze of different systems and coinage. They have generated art and literature and commentary by the ton-load, as well as raised the practice of slaughtering a foe to an art form and a science.
Humanity's greatest advantage is its persistence and potential. No other race has as many special opportunities to increase in power and ability and sees them through. Most of the powerful and wise in the Realms are humans (as are most of the pettyminded and cruel). Within their own race, humans seem to provide equal chances to both males and females. While the tendency in many societies is for women to occupy a domestic role, there is little resistance to a powerful female leader or proficient wizardess, should a woman choose such a position as her goal in life.
Humankind's attitudes range from the beatific to the diabolic, and its numbers include clerics of good faiths, pirates, traders, kings, beggars, slaves, mages, heroes, cowards, fishermen, and mercenaries. Humanity's abilities are limitless, and the question has been asked by some that when this race finally gets all the quirks out of its system and gets moving, will there be any room left for the other races of the Realms?
Considered as individuals, dragons are the most dangerous creatures of the Realms. A dragon in full fury may level an entire city, and one at play may even destroy a party of brave knights. These creatures vary in size and capabilities, but are generally huge winged reptiles that can spit fire, acid, cold, or other fell creations.
Dragons come in two main types. The chromatic dragons are those whose scales resemble enamelled armor-usually red, green, black, white, or blue. The chromatic dragons are usually darkhearted wretches devoted in equal parts to their own feeding, wealth, and the suffering of others. The metallic dragons have scales that shimmer like coins, and are generally classified as gold, Silver, copper, bronze, and brass. These creatures tend toward good and neutral alignments, or at least seem more disposed to talk to humans than to devour them straightaway (though if threatened, they will do so quickly and without remorse). Such a listing is not all-inclusive, and there are reports from a number of sages of yellow, brown, purple, gemstone, and steel-colored dragons found along with more common types.
Dragons in the earliest days were the rulers of Faerun between the Inner Sea and Sword Coast, and though they are now few (well, fewer), their individual power remains great. With the coming of elves and humans, the dragons retreated to the North. Though it is rare, some elder wyrm of the race still occasionally comes down from the North or arouses itself from its decades-long sleep in some forgotten dale and terrorizes those it encounters.
Rarer still is one of the most deadly occurrences in the Realms, a flight of dragons. At such a time, great numbers of chromatic wyrms of all ages descend from the North to rain destruction down on all they encounter. The last such fiight was over I 1 years ago, in the Year of the Worm. Dragons of all shapes and sizes came down from the lands beyond Thar into the area of the Moonsea, the Dales, and Cormyr. The destruction was extensive, almost ruining Phlan, damaging Zhentil Keep and the Citadel of the Raven, and causing the death of Sylune, the Witch of Shadowdate. The most destructive of the wyrms were killed by powerful wizards and brave warriors, but a great many more took refuge in the mountain fastnesses of the Storm Horns, the Thunder Peaks, and the Desertsmouth Mountains, and continue to this day to raid outlying villages and travelers.
Finally, there seems to be a 300-year cycle called the Rage of Dragons, at the peak of which all dragonkind is affected. The ancient kingdoms of Anauria and Hlondath may have been victims of this form of attack. Not enough information is available on the Rage of Dragons, and no one looks forward to collecting more.
This most recent flight of dragons is widely held to be the work of the Cult of the Dragon, a mysterious group of people said to have devised strange magical arts that give them mastery over evil dragonkind. Other sages believe it to be some sort of ritual or cyclic behavior on the part of evil dragons, rather than a concerted attack.
Among both good and evil dragons, there is a code of honor that allows dragon combat without resulting in death. Such combat involves ritual battle with feints and pulled blows, each side demonstrating the damage it could have inflicted. This is the source of the legendary subdual of dragons, where the brave hero gives the dragon a hard swat on the snout and the beast rolls over and surrenders. In reality, such subdual combat is the product of a stated challenge (in auld wyrmish, an archaic dragon tongue), with the proper forms and appearances observed. Individual dragons may agree to such combat with humans, though they do not pull their attacks when fighting nondragons in this fashion. It should also be noted that since the Time of Troubles a decade ago, there is no recorded instance of a dragon agreeing to such combat or surrendering in this fashion to a mortal creature.
As a general rule for dealing with dragons, intelligence and good manners are the best weapons. Being able to identify the creature and its tendencies are half the battle, as this information is the foundation for good preparation (after all, that ring of fire resistance is of little value if the dragon turns out to have green scales instead of red). Dragons are also very aware of their long-standing prestige and great wisdom and are thus easily flattered. A glib-tongued warrior may be able to make a deadly attack (or better yet make a clever escape) when fighting a proud and vain dragon. In summary, dragons are intelligent, deadly, powerful, and wise. Many have spellcasting abilities in addition to their other attacks. Once they ruled this land, and only through the determined actions and increasing numbers of the other races were they driven north. Treat them with caution.
The dwarves of Faerun are a short, stocky people who seem to be a part of the earth itself, ranging in shade and hue from a rich earth-red to a granite-stone gray. Dour and with a strong distrust towards magic beyond that which a magical axe can lend, they appear to others as a withdrawn, moody people.
Dwarves come in a wide variety of hair, skin, and eye colors, regardless of their origin. The designations of mountain, hill, and jungle dwarves are fairly artificial, and more a matter of taste, closer to those humans who like the sea and those who prefer the high country. Both dwarven males and females have beards, though the females usually (but not always) shave.
Dwarven Life: Dwarves remain deeply tied to their roots and their sense of family and nobility. Dwarven nobles have declined in number with their race, and so are treated with respect by all, despite any long-running feuds that may develop between the dwarven kings. Loyalty and perseverance are considered dwarven virtues, and very common among the wanderers (see below). For this reason dwarven adventurers are often welcomed into adventure companies as a source of stability, solid reason, and battle prowess.
Shield Dwarves: The dwarves are a people whose numbers in the North have dwindled with the passing years. Their overall population has been declining since the days when the dragons controlled the lands of Cormyr and the Sunrise Mountains still spouted flames and steam. Among the dwarves, these northern dwarves are known as mountain dwarves to show their home terrain, or shield dwarves to reflect their battle prowess and history.
The reason for the numeric decline of these dwarves is twofold: For ages the dwarves have engaged in interspecies wars that bordered on genocide. Their primary foes were orcs and goblins, who sought out the same caverns and mines the dwarves considered their homes. In ancient days a live orc was competition both for treasure and for living space, and dwarven armies fought and died to protect and expand their realms. Unlike the goblin races, however, the dwarves were slow to recover their losses, and in time their numbers have diminished so that in another millennium the dwarf may join the duergahydra and the mornhound in extinction in the Realms.
This sense of racial loss hits all dwarves, and particularly shield dwarves, deeply, and they tend be melancholy and defeatist. They often throw themselves into their work, be it crafting blades or seeking adventure. The last vocation is extremely popular with the few younger dwarves of the Realms, as the thinking is that if their dotir dwarven gods have dealt @i poor hand to the race, the best one can do is perform great deeds, so that the race is remembered in wondrous tales if not in descendents.
The Hidden: The northern, mountain-dwelling dwarves also tend to divide themselves by behavior into two categories: the hidden and wanderers. The hidden are a reflection of the shield dwarven sense of their loss and danger as a race. A majority of shield dwarves (and of dwarves in general) can be classified as part (-)f the hidden. The hidden are reclusive and remain secretive about their homelands. Because of this, the small kingdoms of the dwarves are known about only in a general fashion. For example, the dwarves of the Far Hills travel to E@isting for trade, yet no one knows if they are one community or several, and how they are ruled. More common are those dwarves who identify their home as some long-abandoned or enemy-occupied hold, such as the dwarves that were of Hammer Hall, or those of the Iron House, who had been (]riven out of the mines of Tethyamar.
Wanderers: Another type of shield dwarf that has been on the increase is the dwarf that seeks the company of humans in their towns and cities. Most adventuring dwarves come from this background, and are conversant in human styles and customs without abandoning their own heritage. It has been hazarded (but not
voiced around dwarves) that they enjoy being around other creatures more sh(@rt-lived than they. From such roving shield dwarves come tales of adventuring dwarves, who enjoy the company of humans and even settle in their cities. Such dwarves are known among their peoples as the wanderers.
Gold Dwarves: As the race of dwarves dwindles in the North, one great dwarven kingdom still thrives to the far South. There the earth is rent in a great chasm that could swallow the nation of Cormyr. Located on the rim of that chasm are the towers of the city of Eartheart, and within the walls of that chasm is carved the huge dwarven nation of Underhome, These southern dwarves are said to be very different from their northern cousins-prouder, more haughty, and more energetic. These dwarves are called gold dwarves or hill dwarves, the former name showing their wealth, the latter the terrain they are more comfortable with.
Wild Dwarves: Shield dwarves (both wanderers and the hidden) and gold dwarves dominate the dwarven population of the Realms. There are stories, though, of a savage dwarven offshoot in the jungles of Chult, known as wild dwarves or jungle dwarves, but they have been little seen beyond the borders of that great wood. Wild dwarves are said to be tattooed, bloodthirsty savages, but this may be an exaggeration.
Duergar: Finally, deep beneath the surface of the earth dwells a race of twisted dwarf-like creatures called the duergar. Surface
world dwarves view these creatures with a hatred that exceeds that of the elves for the drow. The dwarves deny any true kinship with this race, despite evidence to the contrary.
ELE)es ar2c-) ti2e ELuey2 Natfor2s
The elves are one of the major races of the Realms, and once ruled large sections of the Realms after the time of the dragons and before the coming of humankind. Now the majority of these long-lived beings have retreated from the onslaught of humankind, seeking quieter forests, and their numbers in the Realms are a faction of those even a thousand years ago.
The elves of the Forgotten Realms are of human height, but much more slender. Their fingers and hands are half-again as long as a human's, and delicately tapered, and their bones are light and surprisingly sturdy. Elven faces are thinner and more serene, and elven ears, as are ears in half a hundred known worlds, are pointed.
There are five known elven subraces in the Forgotten Realms, and four of them live in relative harmony. Cross-breeding is possible between the subraces, but in the case of the elves, the child will either take after the male or female parent's race (there are no drow-moon elf mongrels, and the child of such an unlikely union would have either all the traits of a dark elf or of a moon elf). The subraces are:
Gold Elves: Gold elves are also called sunrise elves or high elves, and have bronze skin and hair of copper, black, or golden blond. Their eyes are golden, silver, or black. Gold elves tend to be recognized as the most civilized of the elven subraces and the most aloof from humankind and the other races. The majority of the native elves of Evermeet are gold elves, though the royal family are moon elves.
Moon Elves: Moon elves are also called silver or gray elves, and are much paler than gold elves, with faces of bleached white tinged with blue. Moon elves usually have hair of silver-white, black, or blue, though all reported colors normally found in humans and elves may be found in this race. Their eyes are blue or green, and have gold flecks. They tend to tolerate humankind the most of the elven subraces, and the majority of adventuring elves and half-elves are of moon elf descent.
Wild Elves: Wild elves are called g-reen elves, forest elves, and wood elves, and are reclusive and distrusting of noneives, in particular humankind. Wild elves of the Forgotten Realms tend to be copperish in hue with tinctures of green. Their hair tends toward browns and blacks, with occasional blonds and copper-colored natives. Their eyes green, brown, or hazel. They tend to be the least organized of the elven peoples, and while there is no eiven nation made up entirely of wild elves, there are wild elves in every other elven nation and on Evermeet.
Sea Elves: Sea elves, also called aquatic or water elves, are divided into two further divisions: those of the Great Sea (includ-
ing all its salt-water domains such as the Shining Sea and Sea of Swords), and those of the Sea of Fallen Stars. Great Sea elves are radiant in different shades of deep greens, with irregular patches of brown striped through their bodies. Fallen Star sea elves are various shades of blue, with white patches and stripes. Both have the full variety of eye and hair color found in all the elven peoples and have webbed feet and hands and the ability to breathe water.
Dark Elves: Dark elves, also called drow (pronounced to rhyme with now or how) or night elves, comprise the most sinister and evil segment of the elven race, as if this subrace seems to balance the tranquility and goodness of their cousins with unrepentant maliciousness and evil. Drow have black skin that resembles nothing so much as polished obsidian, pale eyes (often mistaken for solid white), and hair of stark white. The variations in coloration present in the other elven subraces is missing here. Most of this fell race has been driven underground, and it members are shunned by the other elven subraces. (See also the Underdark Races section.)
Elven Life: The elves call their own race Tel'Quessir, which translates as the people. Strangers, in particular nonelven Strangers, are generally placed under the category N'Tel'Quess, or not-people. Most elves treat the not-people with respect and politeness, as a host would a stumbling child, though the drow fiercely enslave any who are not of their race and consider the other elven subraces N'Tel'Quess.
The elves are generally ruled by hereditary noble houses that have held control of their nations for generations (and given the nature and long life of elves, the rule of a wise king may exceed the history of a human nation). Elven rule is autocratic and absolute, and it is the theology and philosophy of the elves which prevents abuse of such complete power. The coronals (monarchs of the Elven Court) make their pronouncements rarely, preferring to remain outside the normal course of their subjects' lives. However, once a decision is made and pronounced by a coronalwhether to declare war or retreat to Evermeet-it is followed by the bulk of the population.
The Retreat: The oddest phenomenon of elven life (to human observers) is the Retreat, which is viewed as a lemminglike drive to sail to the farthest west, beyond the sea. In the case of the elves of the Forgotten Realms, the reason is not some biological drive, but rather the decision of the leaders of the elven nations to withdraw to less hostile lands. Such a decision was made after years (human generations) of thought, discussion, and meditation. Once made, it is irrevocable.
In the case of the recently voided Elven Court, the decision to retreat was made some 500 years after deliberation began. In the Year of Moonfall (1344 DR), the Pronouncement of Retreat passed from elf to elf, and they began to quietly evacuate their homelands along the Inner Sea. While for humans the disappearance of the Elven Court is regarded as a sudden vacuum in the
heart of the Realms, for the Elven Court itself it was as inevitable (and as important) as a merchant moving his shop farther down the street to increase the distance from a competitor.
The elves in Retreat usually make for Evermeet across the sea or Evereska on the edge of the Great Sand Sea of Anauroch. Those who reach Evermeet swear their fealty to Queen Amtaruil, who is that domain's monarch. Lot-ig ago the etven nation of Ever-meet made the decision to fight those humans (and members of other races) who came to her shores, and as a result Evermeet is both the strongest sea power in the Realms, and a haven for the other elves in Retreat. Those who choose not to abandon the Realms entirely join the community at Evereska and seek to help defend Evereska's new colony in the Greycloak Hills.
Those elves on the Sword Coast and with easy access to the sea make the passage to Evermeet by boat, protected by the Navy of the Queen. How those farther inland cross is not known, for none see their passage out of the world of humankind. Great magics and extradimensionat gates are assumed to be used, though there have been tales of great butterflies carrying some elven nobles westward.
The Former Elven Nations: The former elven nations of the Realms include Illefarn, where Waterdeep now rises from the seacoast; Askavar, which is now called the W(.)od of Sharp Teeth, and the Elven Court, which once ruled Cormanthor, the forest country that ran from Cormyr to the Moonsea. Current elven
nations include Evermeet in its seaward seclusion and Evereska (located in a mountain valley), with its colony in the Greycloak Hills. In addition, there are scattered groups of elves found throughout the realms, including wild elves, groups without noble rulers, and those who are comfortable with the human population (usually younger elves). The drow are not welcome among the elven nations and so have their own lairs in the Underdark..
Adventuring Elves: Adventuring elves are usually moon elves, though there are wild and gold elves as well found among humankind's adventuring companies. Sea elves and drow are much rarer in the surface world, but there are notable exceptions.
T)2e Goblfr2 Races
The goblin races include all creatures such as kobolds, goblins, orcs, and hobgoblins. Some sages extend the definition to ogres, bugbears, trolls, and half-orcs. Regardless of their defined content, the goblin races are by and large uncivilized bands of sentient creatures that prey on other beings, raiding and pillaging when they can, stealing quietly when they can't. There has never been a great goblin nation or orcish empire, though all the goblin races have been used as servants, lackeys, and dragon-fodder for other more powerful individuals.
The goblin races have existed in the Realms as long as the elves, for elven histories have mention of the various creatures as
brutish invaders harassing the borders of their realms. The goblin races have been involved in genocidal wars with dwarves over their mountain peaks and with humans over the lowlands. Usually the goblin races have been repulsed or crushed, but there are still many ancient dwai-ven halls in orcish hands.
The goblin races are generally underorganized and underequipped, and would have been wiped out several times over were it not for their rapid breeding cycle and high self-preservation instinct. Faced with overwhelming odds, most members of a goblin race waver and retreat, and for this the tag cowardly is usually added to the collection of epithets that are used to decribe them.
The goblin races tend to be cruel, evil, and malicious, aping humankind in dress and title, but with a slant towards harm as opposed to help. The greatest orcish citadels of the Desertsmouth Mountains are governed by a king and royal court in a rough travesty of Cormyr. Similarly, those goblins living beyond the range of the Lords of Waterdeep tend to have lords who rule in disguise in the manner of the Lords of Waterdeep. Such kingdoms are pale shadows of human empires in that they are little more than a handful of encampments or castles ruled by brute force.
Some members of these races, particularly among the half-orcs and ogres, brave the well-deserved hostile attitude of the rest of the world toward their ancestry in order to seek to make an honest or good living, but these are exceptions to the general character of these savage creatures. Caution is urged when encountering them in the wild.
The gnomes of Faei-Cin are a small, friendly race of humanoid creatures common in most regions of the Realms. They are smaller and less stocky than dwarves, and are thought to be distant relatives of dwarves (though only gnomish men have beards).
The faces of gnomes, regardless of age, are lined as if with centuries of smiles and frowns, making these people appear to be carved from wood. Their natural coloring, from a light ash color to maple to the color of varnished and buffed Oak, increases the tendency to think of gnomes as a woods folk-when they are thought of at all.
The gnomes are called the forgotten folk of the Forgotten Realms, for despite the fact they are an everyday sight in major cities and have good-sized communities of their own, they seem unbothered by the world and similarly only rarely become involved with it. Gnomes have no history beyond the memory of the eldest clan member and the songs of legend. They have never developed their own written tongue, acquiring the written language of those they live among for everyday use. Unlike the elves, they have no millennial heritage, and unlike the dwarves, no death-knell tomorrow. As a result, they tend to take life as it comes, one day at a time.
Gnomes are among the most common-sense beings of a world filled with all manner of magical things. Their natural tendency towards illusioncraft has given them a wisdom to look beyond the
fancy trappings of speech and appearance to find out what is really there instead of making them more crafty and cunning. Gnomes value their families first, then whatever other relatives they encounter, then other gnomes, then the world, in that order.
Gnomes have no subraces, but since the Time of Troubles a different sort of gnome has appeared in the Realms, coming primarily from the South. These gnomes are particularly interested in craft and artifice, including all manner of sciences and invention. This new breed of gnome is relatively rare, but counts among its numbers primarily younger gnomes who venerate the god Gond Wonderbringer (who resembles a gnome in their version of the faith). Such gnomes are currently found as apprentices to smiths, craftsmen, and wizards, and are eager to learn as much about the world around them as possible. What they will do with this knowledge is as yet undetermined, but given the legendary wisdom of the gnomes, everyday humans have little to fear.
The Half--Elver2 Peoples
Half-elves are a mixture of human and elf, and occupy the middle ground between the two. They are stockier than elves, but thinner than humans, and may or may not show the distinctive, eiven pointed ears. They still have the slender and finely chiseled facial features of the elven faces. It is possible for a half-elf to pass as human or elf for brief periods, but usually such duplicity is discovered.
Half-elves ,ire not a true race, but rather the product of the union of human and elf, and as such they have no national or racial heritage other than that of the area and family they have been brought up in. A half-elf that has been raised in the Elven Court thinks like an elf., while one from Aglarond thinks like a human, for the elven people have been long bred into the general population there.
As a result of their hybrid heritage, half-clves tend to be individualistic and their outlook and behavior varies greatly from person to person. Many are adventurers by nature, in that they Ire seeking their own niche in a world where (to their eyes) they belong truly to neither major culture.
Half-elves take on soi-ne of the features of their elven subrace:
• Moon half-elt,es tend to be pale with just a touch of blue around the ears and at the chin.
• GoLi half-elves tend to have bronzed skin.
• Wild half-elves are very rare and tend to have copperish skin tinged with green.
• Sea half-elves tend to be a blend of the fleshtones of their human and elven parents. For instance, the child of a Lant,,in merchant and a Great Sea elf is likely to be a light green.
• Drow half-elves are very rare and tend to be dusky-colored with silver or white hair and the eye colors found in humans.
Regardless of origin, half-elves have a universal set of common abilities (as detailed in the Player's HancUx)ok). A drc)w half-elf does
not gain additional drow powers, or a sea half-elf water-breathing ability (save at the decision of the DM).
Half-elves may mate and breed, but will always produce the offspring of the other parent (a half-elf-elf pairing will produce elven children, while a half-elf-human pairing will result in human children). Second generation half-elves only result if two half-elves marry.
Halfling,s are the smallest of the major races, and to observe their communities outside cities, the most numerous (and growing). They tend to resemble small street urchins, wise beyond their years. The halflings of the Forgotten Realms have a light covering of hairy down over most of their bodies that is most noticeable on the backs of their hands and the tops of their bare feet. Often their faces are bare, though there are more than a few full-bearded halflings as well.
The halfling people have a saying: "First there were dragons, then dwarves, then elves, then humans. Then it's Our Tom!" This attitude that all things will turn out to their benefit (and be served up to them on a silver platter) is typical of the hatfling mindset--cocksure, confident, and with more than a streak of larceny to it.
A halfling's appearance, similar to that of a small human child, belies the fact that this is a race with the same basic needs as any other. Halflings live in many of the same areas as humankind and may be considered a competitor. Yet rather than being overtly hostile, halflings have a smug, farsighted -attitude that these lumbering giants (human beings) will eventually leave, destroy themselves, or give themselves up, and that which remains will be theirs.
This is not to say that halflings as a race or as individuals are evil, for they would do nothing to harm another unless harm had been inflicted on them first. But the tendency for them to take advantage is strong. Many a human thieves' guild has as its master thief a small, child-like creature who can sneak into and out of areas that larger folk cannot manage.
Halflings are delighted by the concept of money, which they consider a human invention that redeems the race. They enjoy gathering bunches of it, but unlike the dwarves with their ancient hordes, they see no point in keeping it, and fritter it away on gifts, parties, and purchases. Money is a way of keeping score on how well one is doing against the world and all its clumsy, lumbering races.
Hatflings come in all the same skin colors and with the same variety of hair and eye color as humans. They tend to respect their families as groups not to steal from (though borrowing is permitted), and they show a strong loyalty to friends and those who have stood up for them. There seem to be only minor differences between the three major subraces of halfling: hairfeet, tallfellow, and stout. (Their differences are as noted in the Player's Handbook.) The subraces mix easily with each other and with other races.
Halflings excel at roguish tasks, and those who apply themselves in this area find their talents welcome among adventuring companies and thieves' guilds. As a result, hatflings are as well-traveled and
knowledgeable about the world as humankind, if not moreso. The crux of their knowledge is centered on immediate goals and gratificatim, for it is not as important for a hatfling to know who the local lord is as much as to Scope Out the bill of fare at the local tavem.
T(-) the far South there is said to be a nation of halflings called Luiren, whose inhabitants have pointy ears. Considering the fact that most of the other dominant races of the Inner Sea came originally from the South, and the stated (if joking) halfling intentions to eventually dominate all other races, the idea of a halfling nation is somewhat disturbing.
The giants of the Realms have always been a secondary race, involved in battling whoever is on top. Their earliest appearances are in tales in which they contended with dragons for the control of the North, a battle that they usually lost, though their weakening of the dragons may have eased the influx of elves and dwarves. In battling with the dwarves for their mountain homes, they again came off a poor second, as dwarven size and fighting techniques were of great benefit in fighting giants, and are to this day. Then came the arrival of humankind in the North, pushing those giant communities that survived further back.
At present the giants are a collection of broken nations and shattered dreams, their long history overshadowed by modern events and newcomer races. They still are their strongest in the mountains of FaerCin, particularly in the North and the Cold Lands, thriving in those territories that others have shunned.
The occasional giant may be found in Waterdeep or Cormyr, but the bulk are still viewed as savage, brutal, and not particularly bright. This is untrue, since they are battlewise, lore-filled, and capable with both weapons and craft. Their power is often shown through their leadership capabilities, as giants are increasingly becoming leaders of groups of other less developed races, such as goblin tribes or orc holts.
T12e Ur26enc-)aizk Races
Not all of the Realms is above ground. Beneath its surface, labyrinthine tunnels snake and coil through natural caverns and tunnels made by races long dead, and nations long toppled. This is the Underdark, a region as deadly as any Surface swamp or mountain fastness.
In this land of eternal night i- number of races thrive. Some have been driven to these lands by outside forces, some have a dislike of light, and some simply prefer the security which the surrounding walls hold. Their variety is tegion, and their influence is felt throughout the Realms, as they often boil out of their hidey holes to raid the surface lands. They include, but are not limited to:
The Drow: The dark elves are by and large the best-known, most organized, and most powerful race beneath the surface of the earth. Communities of drow rule the lands beneath the North and the Moonsea, and smaller nations may be found throughout
the Realms. Their best-known nation is the underground citystate of Menzoberranzan, home to a variety of scheming, evil families and their spawn and slaves. Drow in the past have even dominated the surface lands around their lairs, most recently holding the lands around and now comprising Shadowdale in the years following the fall of Myth Drannor.
The Duergar: The outcast subrace of the dwarves seeks to burrow deeper than their cousins, and unlock the greater evils that lie within the earth. Unlike the drow and goblins, duergar are not comfortable on the surface and never venture forth. It is assumed that much of the deepest construction of the Underdark is done by these gray dwarves. Like their surf-@ice cousins, the duergar are dying out from competition and low birth rate. They often sell their services and loyalty to more powerful creatures in exchange for wealth and a form of protection.
The Goblin Races: The goblin races are not a major factor in the Underdark, save as servitors ,ind slaves of more powerful races. Instead, they occupy those regions of the caverns closest to the surface, where they serve as a first level of defense beneath the land.
The Illithids: These creatures, whose heads resemble a cephalopod, are also known as mind flayers. They have deadly powers of the mind, and live in great fortresses carved out of the living rock. Independent and scheming, the illithids rarely enter into long-standing alliances with others of their race, let alone other races, and such alliances are broken when it suits them.
The Beholders: Individually these creatures are as deadly as any dragon, and they often carve out large territories in the caverns of the Underdark and in desolate areas of the surface. They are uncomfortable with others of their race, and usually establish themselves as the chieftain of a disparate group of races (having removed any previous chieftains with their disintegrator rays). Beholders have integrated well with evil humans, Stich that they can be found beneath major human cities and in the service of such groups as the Black Network of the Zhentarim.
The Realms is filled with sentient creatures of all descriptions, and the above listing is not exclusive. There are lizard men prowling the swamps, myconids patrolling haunted caverns, and centaurs and satyrs deep within the woods where even the elves go not. Deep beneath the seas mermen, tritons, and sahuagin clash, and in the Mountains aarakocra challenge the dwarves for their halls and dragons for their lairs.
All of these races (and more) provide an example of the diversity of life in the Realms, and the great variety of threats they hold for the traveler, the merchant, and the explorer. While humankind is the most visibly successful of the races, that perch is by no means secure, and many races, old and new, may have a say in whether humans survive or pass from greatness like the elves, dwarves, and dragons before them.
In the Realms
-@@X dventurers are known by their many skills. Warriors, wizards, 1--i priests, rogues, and all the Subclasses, kits, and varieties found within each of these major classifications allow adventurers a wide array of choices in their career and differing ways to increase their power. The Realms holds promise for each of these breeds of adventurer, as well as dangers and challenges.
The services of trained warriors are in constant demand in the Forgotten Realms, owing to the large number of hostile creatures (including other humans) to be found in the world.
Fighters and their subgroupings tend to gravitate to certain positions and responsibilities, including:
Local militias, including police patro@, sentries, palace guards, and watchmen. In times of hostilities, such women and men as these serve as foot troops in battle. Such positions are usually low-paying and hold little status, as in the battlefield such troops are often used to soften enemy attacks with "acceptable losses." However, it is here that most heroic warriors make their start, serving with these groups to protect their homes, with the survivors moving on to greater things. • Mercenary companies engage in fighting for a price. These pay better than militias, but have the disadvantage that local rulers/employers usually give mercenary companies the most difficult positions or tasks, as they are professionals paid for their experience.
• Trail guards have the advantage of good benefits and travel with the disadvantage that such fighters must fight not only to protect their own lives but the property of others. Some of the smaller traders offer high wages but deduct any losses they incur from those wages.
• Raiders are fighters who perform acts of banditry and piracy. The disadvantage of this lifestyle is that these fighters do not normally operate in civilized areas and may be hunted down by more law-abiding groups.
• Bodyguards and other protection opportunities offer low pay at relatively little risk.
• Leadership possibilities are available at high level for fighter types, as their abilities (as opposed to those of wizards and priests) are generally understood by the populace, allowing a measure of trust.
• Gladiators and professional fighters are a rare occurrence in the North, though some debauched regions do set up such matches, usually between slaves or prisoners and monsters. The older realms to the south, including Amn, Calimshan,
and Unther, have established gladiatorial guilds.
Adventuring companies offer the highest return in advancement and money, as well as allowing warriors a great degree of independence. The disadvantages of these operations are the great deal of personal risk fighters are placed in and the essential need for cooperation with others.
Rangers are specialized breed of warrior, suited to a wilderness existence while still retaining more of the trappings and station of society. Individuals who become rangers are normally from the civilized agricultural areas of the Realms, as opposed to its wilderness areas.
Rangers are a phenomenon primarily confined to the North, in particular that region north and west of the Sea of Fallen Stars called the Heartlands. Occasionally rangers hail from Amn or Chondath, but a ranger farther south is as rare as sympathy from a beholder. This may be due to the fact that rangers function best in those regions that are still being developed and explored by civilized humankind, and as such have little to do in those regions that have been settled and ruled (at least in name) for centuries.
Due to their low numbers, regional restrictions, and tendency to perform along the lines of moral good, rangers are both very individualistic and clannish. A ranger can often be found on his or her own, or in a company of druids or adventurers, where wilderness skills are useful. At the same time, when rangers meet, they often exchange names and gossip on the latest doings of others of their type. While not a political or social force, rangers comprise a finely wrought network of information, and it is this network that makes them a natural part of the group known as the Harpers. Not all rangers are Harpers, but many are, and the Harpers recruit further from the ranks of rangers only on the recommendation of rangers within the Harpers.
Paladins are fighters of a higher calling than most common warriors. They fight for a strongly held moral and ethical code, and are held to exacting standards in all their actions. Failure to live up to their moral and ethical alignment results in their downfall, and the stripping of all special abilities granted by the paladin class.
There is no specific paladin's code, no set of do's and don'ts by which paladins are graded on a pass/fail basis. The closest thing to such a code is "Quentin's Monograph," a short treatise on the nature of alignment and paladinhood by a retired paladin. In addition to flowery descriptions of early endeavors and practical advice on the care of weapons and animals, the monograph summarizes what it calls the Paladin's Virtues.
The listing is not all-inclusive, and every paladin grades and emphasizes these virtues based on his or her own personal ethos and religious background. Paladins may obey all these virtues to the letter and still lose their special status, or flout one virtue in the name of
another and still retain paladinhood. In this fashion, ,i paladin may exist outside an organized hierarchy or even lead rebellions and wars against unjust or evil causes. It is possible under these virtues that one paladin may even fight another, both seeking to defend a different paladin's virtue or interpretation of all of them.
Paladins in the Realms, like priests, are devoted to a particular deity. The most common paladin deities are those which embody action, decision, watchfulness, and wisdom. Torm and Tyr are both popular deities for paladins, as is Ilmater, who stresses the need to suffer to attain one's goals. All these gods are good and lawful in their basic alignment.
Paladins also serve deities who present themselves as being good but not necessarily lawful, and lawful but not necessarily good. These include Azuth and Helm, who ire lawful and neutral in their outlook, and Mystra, Deneir, Lathander, and Milil, who are good and neutral. Chauntea and Mielikki are @ilso neutral and good, but tend to attract more druids and Fingers than paladins, though there are exceptions. No gods who claim true neutrality, evil, or chaos in their ethos and morals have paladins operating in their name.
In many races, certain individuals have the ability to channel the ambient magical energies of the world to produce a desired effect. In the Forgotten Realms, this ability is called magic, or the Art, and the Realms are home to large number of the Art's practitioners.
All manner of spellcasters people the Forgotten Realms, and though universities and magical schools exist, the great majority of spellcasters still learn their skills in the time-honored fashion: by apprenticeship to a higher-level mage. After years of what seem to the student to be arduous and unpleasant chores, the tutoring mage will begin instruction in the easiest cantrips, later moving on to the first spells, and presenting the apprentice with his or her first spell book. Upon leaming the basics, the Young wizard usually journeys out to gain some real-life experience in his or her craft. Some go no further in their development, seeking other safer pursuits, and some perish in their adventures. Those that survive return to their former masters or to others of greater skill to team greater magics and to share what they have discovered.
The magic universities function using this same principle on a larger scale; they house many wizards and sages with various specialties. They are not large operations, including maybe a dozen students at most and three or four sages with any true magical ability, but they are a change from the previous one-on-one relationship of mage and apprentice. These schools are almost nonexistent in the North, appearing only in the past 20 winters, and their first students are just now making their name in the Realms at large. Such colleges are said to be more common (and much larger) in the South, particularly in such magical lands as Nimbral and Halruaa. In the North, the failed experiment of a large university is recorded in the toppled stones of a ruined magi-
The Palabfr2's Vfliztries
The paladin's virtues are:
Oi-i organized approach brings the most good for all.
Laws exist to bring prosperity to those under them.
(@njust laws must be overturned or changed in a reasonable and positive fashion.
t'l@eople rule; laws help.
Cause the most -ood through the least harm.
'filotect the weak.
6s@oodness is not a natural state, but must be fought for to be attained and maintained.
Lead by example.
Let your deeds speak your intentions.
(ioodness radiates from the heart.
Giive others your mercy, but keep your wits about you.
cal college outside Beregost. Magic colleges in the North tend to be low key where they exist at all.
Practitioners of the Art are found in most walks of life, and there are former mages among the merchant class and courtiers. Many make their living at magic, either as court wizards, adventurers, or sages (the last being the least well-paid or recognized). Often they devote long periods of time to producing magical items. When they adventure, they are looking both for money to fund their researches, for magical items to understand and comprehend, and for books to expand the scope of their leaming.
Wizards develop a signature rune that they use to identify their belongings, sign as their name, and warn others. As a mage gains in power, more individuals recognize the rune and connect it with a mighty individual, not to be trifled with. Since some runes are connected with magical spells, the use of signature runes reinforces the tendency of ordinary people to shy away from such magically marked items.
A mage may develop a signature rune at any time, though it should not be altered once created, to avoid confusion. This rune is used in all spells that require writing, including symbol-type spells, and nonmagically to indicate property or for messages. In a world where the majority of the people speak but do not read a common language, such runes are important to instruct the unknowing and to warn the cautious.
Mages relearn their spells daily from spell books, and usually maintain two sets of the text-,-a traveling set for use in the wilderness, and a larger, more complete set at or near their home. Such books are very important; many specialized books that were once wizard's tomes are highly valued for the original spells therein.
The Cuizse of-
the Mage Rur2es
powerful (level 10+) mage's sigil is protected by the Trifold f7LCurse of Mystra, a curse which afflicts those (magician or not) who willfully copy the sigil of a known mage in order to deceive. The offender must make three ability checks--one against Strength, one against Intelligence, and one against Charisma.
If the Strength check is failed, the offender loses one point of Strength permanently, and 1-4 hit points permanently.
If the Intelligence check is failed, the offender loses one point of Intelligence permanently, and is feebleminded (as per the spell, no saving throw).
If the Charisma check is failed, the offender loses one point of Charisma permanently, and a glowing apparition (thought to be Azuth in his mortal form) follows the offender around, pointing and shouting, "Falsely done!" This apparition stays with the offender from anywhere from several days to two months, and can cast a real cloud over formal dinner parties (as Zeboaster the Blunt discovered when pulling a prank in the presence of Vangerdahast of Cormyr), not to mention alerting all beings encountered as to the offender's perfidy.
Some mages are specialist wizards, concentrating their work in a particular direction and devoting themselves to a particular school of magic. A school differs from a college and university in that it is a particular type of study as opposed to a physical location. Wizards specializing in illusion/phantasm magic are said to belong the school of illusion, whether they operate in the lands of Thay or in the jungles of Chult.
Specialist mages have always existed in the Realms, but their numbers (save for the illusionists) were never great previous to the Time of Troubles. Most of the old guard wizards like Khelben and Elminster are nonspecialized mages. Since the Time of Troubles, the number of specialist wizards has increased, and these wizards have differing attitudes from their elders. The result of this magical gap in ages has yet to be resolved.
Abjurers: These wizards specialize in abjuration spells, and are concerned with wards and protection spells. Their general attitude is that in a danger(-.)us world, the first order of business is to stay alive and whole. Abjurers prefer green and brown in their clothing. Only humans can be abj'urers.
Conjurers: Conjurers are specialists in conjuration/summoning magics, and believe that to be a successful mage, all you need is to be able to call into being allies, lackeys, or powerful servants to work your will. Conjurers tend to be flashy in both dress and attitude. Humans and half-elves can be conjurers.
Diviners: These cautious wizards specialize in the divination school, particularly those spells of higher than 3rd level (known as the greater divinations). They are careful, cautious planners, bookish and
literal in their outlook, as they are directed toward the gathering and verification of information. Their dress and manners are conservative and modest. Humans, elves, and half-elves can be diviners.
Enchanters: Enchanter specialist wizards hold a dual role. They imbue their magics into static objects, but also use their enchantmen@charm spells to influence and control others. As a result, they are as a class very self-confident and tend to think of themselves as superior, even to other mages. Enchanters are social creatures and tend to dress stylishly. They are most comfortable in cities, which provide a wide circle of admirers (and subjects for their charms). Humans, elves, and half-elves can be enchanters.
Musionists: Illusionists are devoted to one of the eldest specialty wizard schools, concentrating on the powers of illusion and phantasm. As a group they tend to be secretive, even to the point of having their own written language, Ruad@ek, derived from their magical writings. They dress in simple grays and browns, perhaps with an accent of color or a gemstone. Only humans and gnomes can be illusionists; of the two, the gnomish illusionists are the more civil and friendly.
Invokers: Invokers are those mages who specialize in the invocation and evocation schools of magic. Capable of calling matter and effects such as lightning and fire out of thin air, they are used to possessing power and commanding the respect (or at least fear) of those around them. Self-confident to the point of cockiness, invokers prefer bright primary colors in their dress. Only humans can be invokers.
?@ecromancers: Necromancers are a two-sided coin. Some are interested in necromancy from its healing and restorative aspect in relation to the human body, while others (the better-known half) concentrate their work on the dead and undead. As a result, the school is separated into two camps, one white, the other black. White necromancers are healers, work with local churches, and are in general good-aligned. Black necromancers -are secretive to the point of obsession, vengeful, and often black-hearted. Their dress tends to match their outlook. Only humans can be necromancers.
Transmuters: Transmuter, the masters of the alteration school of magic are, as a rule, creatives, experimenters, and explorers who are never happy with the way things are, but rather intensely intrigued by the way things could yet be. Their garb is cut for comfort, as opposed to fashion or camouflage. Humans and half-elves may be transmuters.
Priests are those individuals capable of directing energies derived from particular entities known properly in the Realms as powers, though often referred to as deities or gods. All priests belong to faiths that venerate these powers and advocate their aims and goals.
The peoples of the Realms tend to be generally tolerant of all faiths, such that in larger cities there are temple districts of various faiths of dissimilar alignments and goals existing side by side. Faiths and temples maintain varying levels of influence in the local government, and only in a few cases is there a state religion. One such example is the island nation of Lantan, whose strange inhabitants are
almost all worshippers of Gond. Even so, there are shrines to other deities on Lantan, though they exist primarily to serve foreign visitors.
Priests in the Forgotten Realms are divided into two types: the standard, generalist cleric, who has set abilities common to all churches regardless of faith, and the specialty priest, who has special abilities granted by the power in question. Many of the major faiths of the Realms have specialty priests, but the most common such priest encountered is the druid (see next section).
Priests can also be divided into two groups within their faith's organization, though met-nbers of one group easily and often cross into the other group. Hierarchy-bound priests are those who are usually tied down to a specific location, such as a temple, shrine, or monastery, and work primarily to the good of that location, the church, and the community, though not necessarily in that order. Mission priests are at-large agents entrusted to wander the length and breadth of the Realms spreading the basic tenets and beliefs of their faith.
Many of the priests found in adventuring parties, working alongside merchants, or in mercenary companies are mission priests. However, the line is a fuzzy one, such that a specialty priest who has spent his life in the hierarchy may suddenly decide, for the good of his order, to engage in a quest for an artifact, gather a group of like-minded adventurers, and set off as a mission priest. Similarly, a cleric who has spent tier life in adventuring companies, tithing a large part of her earnings to setting up shrines for the power she follows, may determine to retire to a temple to use the experience she has gained to teach others, and enter the church hierarchy in that fashion.
Most faiths are fairly loose with such restrictions, only requiring that a priest get the approval of a superior (or of the power being venerated, if the priest is of matriarch/patriarch level) before joining or leaving the hierarchy. In a similar fashion, priests have no required dress code or raiment outside of the garb required for ceremonies. In general, priests dress in the colors of their order (usually those of their holy symbol) and wear some obvious symbol of their faith on their person. Priests of Tymora will tend towards grays and wear a silver disk either on a neckchain or affixed to a circlet, while priests of Tempus will wear helms (or metal skullcaps) and display Tempus's symbol (the fiery sword on the crimson field) on their shields.
Druids, the most common type of specialty priest, tend to worship outside of standard temple complexes, and instead wander the land, collecting into loosely affiliated circles throughout the Realms. The term circle serves to illustrate the unending cycles of natural processes, and to emphasize that no one creature is intrinsically superior to another. These druid circles fill the same requirements as church hierarchies do within the clerical faiths, but are much smaller. Among druids the distinction between the hierarchy-bound priest and the mission priest becomes almost meaningless because of the loose nature of circles and the roving tendencies of druids who are the caretakers of large regions.
In the northern Realms from the Sword Coast to impiltur, druids in lightly settled areas have tended to gather in small groups, often with rangers and other allies, for mutual protection, defense of key areas or resources, and in order to accomplish their common goals more easily. These groups, usually consisting of a dozen or fewer druids and 20 or fewer others, vary widely in prominence and working relationships. In some, the druids live together in a woodland grove, and in others, they are widely scattered, with other group members serving as go-betweens. In some groups the druids and rangers deal with each other as equals, and in others the druids are revered by those who work with them.
In the Realms at large, these circles make up a network of communication and aid among those who venerate Chauntea and similar powers, such as Mielikki and Eldath. In general, the druids of the Realms seek balance between the needs of people (especially civilized peoples) and the needs of the natural world at the expense of neither.
While druids are relatively weak in the Dalelands at the moment, they have several major areas of power, including the Border Forest, the Gulthmere Forest, and, in particular, the Moonshaes. In the latter, the druids are worshippers of a good uncommon in the rest of the Realms, the Earthmother, and this faith is both native and unique to the area.
Druids of the same circle may worship different deities, though in general, druids of the same circle tend to worship the same god. Common powers venerated by druids are Eldath, Silvanus, Chauntea (in places), and the elemental lords, in particular Grumbar and Kossuth (earth and flame, respectively). Player character druids do not begin the game as members of a circle, but may form such circles if they find other druids and either accept them or are accepted into their ranks.
Great and grand druids are singular beings, and there is only one such individual for a 500@mile area about the abode of a great or grand druid. Each is entrusted with the organization and protection of the circles and other druidic shrines within that domain. The precise borders of a great druid's domain are nebulous at best, but there are three major regions within Faet-an. The first and eldest is on the southern shores of the Sea of Fallen Stars, and includes the Gulthmere Forest and the Chondalwood. The second is located in the scattered remains of ancient Connanthor, ranging from Connyr to the Moonsea, and includes the ancient territories of the Elven Court. The third is located in the North. It is based in the High Forest but includes all other forests and woods in the area. Druids are also active in the Moonshaes and the forests surrounding the Great Dale, but it is unknown at this time if their organization includes great and grand druids.
When a druid reaches sufficient level to advance in rank, she or he is expected to seek and and challenge another druid of his or her position. A sign will be sent by the power the druid wor, ships indicating the location of the druid sought, unless the first druid knows the second druid's location already. At high levels, this is the only method of advancement for these specialty priests.
ol: the Realms
or bards to be effective, they must be conversant with their Ftools. The Realms have a number of alternative names for many common instruments, and also feature instruments that are unique.
Birdpipe: A set of pan pipes.
Glaur: A short, flared, and curved horn which resembles a cornucopia, and is fitted with valves (those without valves are known as gloons).
Hand Drum: A dOLible,headed drum.
Longhorn: A Faerfin flute.
Shawm: A double-reed instrument, the ancestor of the oboe and bassoon.
Songhorn: A recorder.
Tantan: A tambourine.
Thelarr: Also called the wbistlecane, this is a simple reed instrument.
Tocken: A set of carved, oval, open-ended bells, played like a
Wargong. Also called a shieldgong, the wargong is often made of the shields of one's vanquished foes. It is played with mallets.
Yarting: A guitar.
Zulkoon: A complex and semiportable PLIMP-organ.
In addition, such devices as the trlit-npet, the signal horn, the harp, the dulcimer, the lyre, and the mandolin are commonly found in the Realms. Players who wish to introduce the bagpipe do -,(7, at their own risk.
As more people gather in large cities, i-nore individuals who prey on large collections of humankind gather as well. Chief of those are human scavengers who seek their profession by stealing from others. These are the rogues of the Realms. Their allegiance is to themselves and a handful of allies (at best), and their intentions are not always for the good of their prey. In the wilds, their behavior is often useful and beneficial to the group, but in the larger cities, their acts usually spell trouble, and most lawful towns have laws against such activities.
Despite such laws, thieves and thievery are common. Most major cities have a number of thieves' dens competing with each other in stealing and theft. A few cities (such as Zhentil Keep) have an organized group of rogues (a guild) controlling all such activity, and some can even operate from a building in broad daylight. Most thieves' dens are secret gathering spots, often located beneath a city, and they change as guards and lawful groups discover them.
-Me city of Waterdeep once was home to the most powerful guild of thieves in the North. The Lords of Waterdeep smashed that guild, forcing its leaders to flee the city. Those leaders are now the Shadow Thieves of Amn). Rogues of all types still operate in Waterdeep, but they are broken into innumerable small groups or operate alone. The
most recent attempt at organization, headed by a beholder named Xanathar, has been smashed by the Lords and their agents.
The most common respite for rogues is what they call the "honest trade"-adventuring. V,7hile adventuring, roguish abilities may be used and indeed lionized in song ind legend, when what a rogue is doing is almost the same as his or her in-town activities. The only difference is that instead of stealing from a lord's manor, she or he is butglarizing a lich's tomb. Many thieves take to this life, -,idhering to a code that keeps them out of trouble in civilized areas but keeps them in gold. Some leaders of important organizations are of this type. Their fellow guild mei-nbers trust the cash box with such individuals in the city, but keep an eye on them in the wild for pocketed gern,-, and magical items that find their way into their high-topped boots.
Bards have been called rogues with a better biographer, and indeed, they have many of the abilities and tendencies of their itt,reptited cousins, yet are in the main more welcome throughout the Realms than their ro&@Liish fellows. That level of tnist operates mainly on the social level, though, for while a landed lord may invite a bard into his home for dinner, he will inevitably count his silverware afterward.
Bards have a number of skills which make them singularly valuable in the Realms. They are wanderers by nature, and carry new items, information, gossip, rates, warnings, and other bits of knowledge from place to place. Further, it is the bard's nature to share this information, as opposed to hoarding it for his or her own good (something wizards are regularly accused of doing). The arrival of a famous bard is the subject of everything from mild discussion in larger cities to celebra, tion in isolated villages. Bards are often rewarded with both food and shelter, and also pick up new tales and legends to relate elsewhere.
Bards can be of any alignment, though some part of their morality or ethos must be neutral. There are evil bards in the Realms, though their nature is not always apparent--garden,variety rogues are usually assumed to be of evil (or at least greedy) intent, but bards are generally presumed to be beneficent (or at least neutral). Many evil bards
profit under this assumption.
Contributing to the reputation of bards as forces for good is the existence of a primarily good-aligned secret organization-the Harpers. The Harpers include druids, mages, priests, and rangers in addition to bards, but the group's musical background and the predominance of bards in such numbers among its ranks account for its appearance as a bardic society. Membership in the Harpers is limited and by invitation only, so that not every bard is a member of this group, though to the forces of evil it often seems so.
Most bards are independent by choice and by nature, owing nothing to any except their traveling companions. Not all bards are musicians (some are rumormongers or poets), and not all i-atisicians are bards, though musical background is definitely useful in bardic society. Of old there were bardic colleges in the Realms, but they have been long since been abandoned, save for a few names and ancient stories.