Tuesday, July 31, 2007

What it's all about . . .

Adventure School was designed primarily to teach people how to roleplay and to teach roleplayers to play GURPS, but experienced gamers will enjoy it as well.

Rules will be laid out in the most simple of terms, and newbies will learn right along with their characters. Experienced players can choose to be mentors or professors, or they can form a group with other players of their ilk.

The art of conversing in character, and roleplaying a situation will be learned in the classroom settings. Exams, vacations, and various jobs assigned to students will provide quests and combat situations.

The setting is Dungeons and Dragons' Forgotten Realms - a richly detailed fantasy setting, where elves mingle with dwarves and halflings, gods fight among themselves, and ferocious monsters battle for control.

The forum for play is called Play by Post (PBP for short), using a forum board

The rules we will use are Steve Jackson's GURPS Generic Universal Role Playing System, one of the easiest and most fun systems to learn.

The forum for play is called Play by Post (PBP for short), our Forum Board.

The articles in this blog have been posted in no particular order, and are meant to be read through the links on the Forum Board and through the word links in the articles themselves. This will take you through the process of learning the rules and creating a character in the proper order.

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Sunday, August 13, 2006

Forgotten Realms Glossary

Abeir-Toril is the name of the fictional planet on which the Forgotten Realms is set. The name is archaic, meaning "cradle of life." It consists of various continents and islands, including Faerûn, Kara-Tur, Zakhara, Maztica, and Anchorome. (an unknown sub-Saharan-like continent is located south of Maztica). Toril was the name of Jeff Grubb’s campaign world, and it was adopted as the name of the planet with the continent Faerûn when he and Ed Greenwood were designing the original Forgotten Realms Boxed Set in 1987. Abeir- was added as a prefix so that the world's name was placed at the beginning of an alphabetical encyclopedia.

Al-Qadim is an Arabian Nights-themed campaign setting for the Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game. The setting was developed by Jeff Grubb for TSR, Inc., and was first released in 1992. Al-Qadim is set in the land of Zakhara, called the Land of Fate.

Lord Ao: the overgod of Toril, responsible for the creation of the first deities, and for maintaining the cosmic balance. He is the god of all deities and will respond to no mortals. He can create new deities and banish old, has supreme power over all deities, and can be defeated by none or all together.

Chauntea: (The Great Mother, The Grain Goddess, Earthmother). A greater goddess, Chauntea is of neutral good alignment whose portfolio includes agriculture, plants, farmers, gardeners, and summer. Her domains are Animal, Earth, Good, Plant, Protection and Renewal. Her church is divided into two divisions – clerics who work in more populated areas, and others (mostly druids) who watch over outlying areas and the wildernesses. Chauntea allies with other nature deities and opposes those of destruction and death. She is considered to be the precursor of all the natural races of Toril.

Chult: Chult is the name of the jungle that entirely covers the Chultan Peninsula. It is inhabited by dinosaurs and was at the dawn of time one of the most powerful empires, ruled by the sarrukh. There are 440,000 people, of many different species, living in Chult. Mainly humans, there are sizable numbers of goblins and lizardfolk, as well as wild dwarves and pterafolk.

Ed Greenwood (born 1959) is a Canadian library clerk who created the Forgotten Realms Dungeons & Dragons campaign setting. Ed Greenwood and Jeff Grubb together penned the Forgotten Realms Campaign Boxed Set in 1987, for TSR—though Greenwood had used the Forgotten Realms for his home Dungeons & Dragons campaign since 1975. The spawned campaign world was a success, and he has been involved with all subsequent incarnations of the Forgotten Realms in D&D. Greenwood's most lasting character from the setting is the wizard Elminster, who he portrayed (at TSR's request) for a number of years at conventions and as a participant in the RPGA's Living City campaign. Since the release of the Forgotten Realms, Greenwood has published many Forgotten Realms novels, as listed below. He retains certain rights of his setting, but is essentially a freelance author.

Faerûn ">Faerûn: a fictional continent, the primary setting of the Dungeons & Dragons world of Forgotten Realms. It is the western part of an unnamed supercontinent, set on the planet Toril (more formally, "Abeir-Toril"). Other parts of this supercontinenent include Kara-Tur (original setting of the D&D Oriental Adventures campaign setting), and Zakhara, home to the Arabian Nights setting Al-Qadim. Maztica, home of a tribal, Aztec-like civilization is far to the west, across the Trackless Sea. The subterranean regions underneath Faerûn are the Underdark.

Forgotten Realms ">Forgotten Realms is a fictional setting for the Dungeons & Dragons (DnD) fantasy roleplaying game, created by Canadian Author and game designer, Ed Greenwood. Commonly referred to as simply The Realms, it became the most popular setting with D&D gamers in the 1990s.

Jeff Grubb ">Jeff Grubb is a fantasy author of such books as The Brothers' War and Liberty's Crusade. He writes for several fantasy series, such as Magic: The Gathering, StarCraft, WarCraft, and Dungeons and Dragons. Grubb is also one of the co-founders of both the Dragonlance campaign setting, under Tracy Hickman, and the Forgotten Realms setting, with Ed Greenwood. He is the author of several Forgotten Realms novels with his wife Kate Novak, including the Finder's Stone Trilogy which features the character Alias. He was also one of the designers of D20 Modern and Urban Arcana, and was the principal architect of TSR's Marvel Super Heroes (role-playing game).

Kara-Tur">Kara-Tur is a fantasy world created by Gary Gygax, David Cook and François Marcela-Froideval detailed in 1985's Oriental Adventures for the First Edition Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game. It was later placed on the planet Toril, the planet of the Forgotten Realms campaign setting, and lies east of Faerûn.

Moradin">Moradin: The Father or Creator of Dwarves. Moradin leads the Morndinsimman, the dwarven pantheon of gods.

Morndinsimman">Morndinsimman: (shield brothers on high or high dwarves) the Dwarven pantheon of gods. Moradin, called the father of all dwarves, is the leader of the Mordinsimman. Others gods in the pantheon include: Abbbathor, Berronar Truesilver, Clangeddon Silverbeard, Deep Duerra, Dugmaren Brightmantle, Dumathoin, Gorm Gulthyn, Haela Brightaxe, Laduguer, Marthammor Duin, Sharindlar, Thard Harr, and Vergadain.

Mystryl">Mystryl: The original goddess of magic, Mystryl

Nether Scrolls">Nether Scrolls: These scrolls containing magical information were found by an unknown adventurer and eventually lost. They taught spellcasting, creation of items and constructs, the relations and structure of the planes and artifact making. These scrolls changed Netheril forever.

Netherill">Netheril: Begun as seven fishing villages who formed an alliance for protection, Netheril went on to become one of the most magically powerful of all empires. The Netherese were taught magic by elven neighbors, and eventually they acquired the now lost Nether Scrolls. Magic which had never been heard of in Toril was now theirs to command. Netheril was eventually destroyed mainly by an overly ambitious wizard named Karsus.

Oriental Adventures">Oriental Adventures: the title shared by two hardback rulebooks published for different versions of the Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) fantasy roleplaying game. Each version of Oriental Adventures provides rules for adapting its respective version of D&D for use in campaign settings based on the Far East, rather the medieval Europe-setting assumed by most D&D books. Both versions of Oriental Adventures include example campaign settings.

Selune">Selune: (Our lady of Silver, The Moon Maiden) An intermediate goddess, Selune is of chaotic good alignment whose portfolio includes the moon, stars, navigation, navigators, wanderers, questers, good and neutral lycanthropes. Her domains are Chaos, Good, The Moon, Protection and Travel. Her worshippers include sailors, mystics, female spellcasters and adventurers. She is allied with deities of fortune, light, magic, beauty, weather and joy, while her enemies are Umberlee and Mask. Her nemesis is her sister, Shar.

Shar">Shar: (Mistress of the Night, Lady of Loss, Dark Godess) A greater godess, Shar is of neutral evil alignment whose portfolio includes dark, night, loss, forgetfulness, unrevealed secrets, caverns, dungeons and the Underdark. Her domains are Caverns, Darkness, Evil and Knowledge. Her worshippers are members of individual cells, led by strong priests, tied together by dark secrets. Her only ally is Talona and she opposes Shaundakul and deities of light. Her main nemesis is her sister, Selune.

Weave">Weave: the Weave is many things – It is the embodiment of Mystra, the goddess of Magic, it is a conduit by which mortals can use magic

Zakhara ">Zakhara is a fictional realm styled after the themes and setting depicted in the Arabian Nights. The land is the setting of the Al-Qadim campaign setting for the Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game. Zakhara is a giant peninsula of the same supercontinent that hosts Faerûn and Kara-Tur on the planet Abeir-Toril. Zakhara is located east of Faerûn, and the closest Faerûnian lands to Zakhara are the Dambrath (by sea) and Var the Golden or arguably Konigheim (by land). Zakhara is mostly isolated from the rest of the world, as the peninsula is separated from the main mass by the World Pillar Mountains (also known as Wu Pi Te Shao in Kara-Tur).


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Sunday, August 06, 2006

Dwarves

Dwarves ruled vast kingdoms beneath hill and mountain long before humans wandered into Faerun. Many sages suspect that the first dwarves came to Faerun millennia ago in a great migration from another plane. However, it occurred so long ago that evidence of it is almost nonexistent, and meanwhile the dwarves are now as natural a part of Faerun as the mountains themselves. The two main dwarven subraces are the shield dwarves of northern Faerun and the gold dwarves of the far south. The gray dwarves, or duergar, are an Underdark race less common than their surface kindred. The gray dwarves are generally evil, although a few exiles defy this rule.


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Gnomes

Physical: Gnomes are one of the “small folk” races. Depending on subrace they range from 2 to 3 ½ feet in height. The size of a gnomes head in proportion to her body height is the same as in a human. However, the face is proportionally larger, especially the ears. Gnomes have strong bones, a wiry muscle build and a good immunity – they are tough. However as they are so much smaller than a human, they tend to be less strong.

Gnomes have excellent hearing, possibly as a result of their large ears. They spend a considerable amount of their time underground (svirfneblins spend all their time underground) and they enjoy the light of the moon and stars as much as the sun. It is not surprising that they see well in low light conditions. Gnomes have somewhat prominent noses, and find very large noses attractive. Their sense of smell is as keen as their hearing, and they frequently use this in their practice of the alchemical arts.

By preference, gnomes defend themselves by keeping out of trouble. Their small size means they are adept at dodging the larger races, and young gnomes are trained in this skill. Rock gnomes especially train their young to dodge giants as well as the goblinoids and kobolds that are their usual enemies.

A gnome has hands that are strong, nimble and dextrous. These hands are well suited to intricate and delicate tasks, and also to the less delicate task of extracting gems and ore from the rocks.


Psychology : All gnomes have a great love of gem stones. The stones are not prized as signs of wealth, but for their own beauty. Gnomes love to display precious stones in the best possible settings, and love to mine precious metals for this use. They are arguably Faerun’s best gem cutters, and are excellent gold and silver smiths as well.

They are a somewhat reclusive folk, forest and deep gnomes much more so than rock gnomes. However in their own cities and villages they are warm-hearted and affectionate. Gnomish miners often sing while they work, and frequently laugh as they tell jokes or play small pranks 0n each other. As well as openly expressing humour and joy, gnomes will freely express grief and sorrow. An outpouring of grief can be very healing, and gnomes funerals have been known to move from weeping to a joyous celebration of the lost ones life – much like the wakes of the Northern Moonshae Islanders. Rock gnomes are louder and more exuberant than the other two races of gnomes as they feel much less threatened. Svirfneblin and forest gnomes are more restrained, but they still have great love for home, hearth and family.

All gnomes love a good party, and have many festivals. Surface gnomes celebrate special birthdays, and festival days. Deep gnomes do not count days or use calendars. They call for a festival when ever their leaders feel the time is right.

Gnomes have inquisitive and enquiring minds. This combined with their skills at intricate hand work means they are superb makers of clockwork and other machinery. Their mind set leads them into alchemy as well. They are the finest gunsmiths on Faerun.

All gnomes are very fond of playing practical jokes. There are two things you must realise to understand the nature of these pranks. Firstly gnomes love intricacy and complexity. The more involved the set up and joke are the more kudos go to the prankster. Secondly there is no malice involved. The pranks are usually harmless, and if any hurt comes to the victim the prankster will be very upset and remorseful.


Relations With Other Races: Svirfneblin are slow to trust any individual members of other races, and view other races as a whole with distrust and fear. Bitter experience has taught them that this is the safest way. They seldom let a member of another race know where their homes are, let alone allowing them to enter the communities. When they do they are greeted with silence and reserve. The warmth and caring of svirfneblin communities are saved for other deep gnomes. Their belief that the hands of all the other Underdark races are lifted against them is essentially true. Drow in particular hate the deep gnomes, finding them to be dangerous enemies and rebellious, useless slaves. Mind Flayers value deep gnome slaves for their skills in mining and shaping stone. Although both grey dwarves and svirfneblin are enemies of mind flayers and the drow, they never form alliances and regard each other with hostile suspicion.

Rock gnomes have an excellent relationship with dwarves. They share the love of precious metals and stones, and the love of working in stone. Both races also share the love of a good party! Dwarves and gnomes are also both intrigued by gadgets and machines. Rock gnomes also get on very well with the merry halflings, who have a similar sense of humour, and admire a good practical joke. Villages and towns that are exclusively gnomish tend to stay isolated and hidden from the taller races, and view them with caution. However there are many communities of gnomes in the larger, multiracial towns and they have shown no difficulty in adapting. They are willing to work and trade alongside members of other races, sharing skills and ideas as well as friendship.


Life Cycle

Childhood and Adolescence: Rock gnome youngsters have a carefree and happy childhood. Their homes are warm, safe and friendly, and gnome children are guided with praise and example rather than through punishment. A rock gnome adult will rarely say a harsh word to a child. Adolescent rock gnomes still have a very relaxed life. They have few responsibilities but spend time experimenting and observing; finding out which occupation best suits their talents and personality.

Svirfneblin children have lives that are much more controlled – an inevitable consequence of living surrounded by enemies. They have a disciplined adolescence, during which they are taught the skills they will need to mine the Underdark and to survive as they do so.

Adulthood: Rock gnomes are deemed as being adult from the age of 40 onwards. A gnome’s 40th birthday is a great celebration, and the party can go on for a tenday or even longer. Svirfneblin may reach adulthood at a slightly younger age. It is difficult to tell as deep gnomes do not count years, and there is no special festival to mark coming of age.

When gnomes reach adulthood they are expected to become a contributing member of their communities. The majority of Svrirfneblin will work as miners, or in mining related fields. All miners are also warriors – any gnome who ventures into the Underground needs to be able to defend themselves. Rock gnomes have a wider choice of occupations.


Late Adulthood and Old Age: A rock Gnome reaches her middle years at around her 100th birthday. This is the time when a gnome tends to look for a quieter and more settled life, and by then they are usually raising their own families. Rock gnomes have a markedly extended period of later life. They are considered old when they reach the age of 150 and venerable at over 200, but the average life expectancy is 350. Individual gnomes have been known to live well into their late 400s.

Deep gnomes may also reach very advanced ages, but the records are not clear on this.


Occupations: The majority of gnomes in the smaller towns and villages work either as miners, or as craftsmen working with the precious metals and gems produced by the mines. Rock gnomes lend a hand at all aspects of the mining. Deep gnomes are more specialist miners – each individual works the seam, collects the stones and ore or wheels the heavy carts. As a result they are extremely efficient miners, perhaps more so than the dwarves. All those who regularly leave the town and interact with outsiders are trained warriors as well as miners, craftsmen or traders.

Metal workers and woodworkers are common in gnome communities. Gnome craftsmen produce delicate and intricate works of great beauty that rival the famed works of the elves. Each town or village will have a blacksmith, although gnomes do not smelt their own steel.

Many gnomes are traders, ensuring the communities have a sufficient supply of salt and other foodstuffs, weapons, clothing and other necessities. As a rule, gnomes are not farmers or weavers, and are gold and silver smiths, not black smiths. They are not suited to heavy haulage, and are served by haulers and carters of other races. Gnomes do make their own ale and spirits, and are known to be excellent innkeepers.

In larger towns and cities gnomes often find work that suit their inventive minds and dextrous hands. They may work with wood as they are skilled carvers. Gnomish furniture is highly valued, and often contains cunningly hidden compartments. Some may make musical instruments; others ingenious objects such as telescopes, magnifying glasses and puzzle boxes. It goes without saying gnomes make excellent and effective traps!


Magic: Gnomes have a kind of innate magic. It is not like that of the elves – gnomes are not part of the weave, yet this magic does not involve them actually learning to manipulate the weave like the other races. Gnomes have innate spells. These spells do not have to be learned in the same way wizards learn spells, like sorcerers young gnomes discover them through experimentation. The spells use chanting, hand movements and sometimes a spell focus much the same as the same spells cast by a wizard or sorcerer. However, gnomes do not have to prepare these spells – they are always there every day.

Most rock gnomes can cast some simple cantrips; very low level spells, to perform simple tricks and illusions with sound and light. As well as this special ability rock gnomes can learn spells in the normal manner. In fact rock gnomes make very good illusionists.

This special relationship with magic shows itself in a different manner in the svirfneblin. Not surprisingly their innate magic is less to do with fun and entertainment, and more about defence and safety. Deep gnomes can cause blindness in an enemy, or cause their bodies to appear blurred or altered in shape. These are not simple cantrips – as a svirfneblin matures and becomes more experienced her innate spells become more powerful. Svirfneblin also have an innate resistance to magic, and can protect them from being seen by magical means.


History: All the races of gnomes have kept themselves apart from the kinds of deeds and events where history is made, whether it is the halflings or the big folks involved. They are a hidden folk, who have almost always remained hidden from those who write the histories of Faerun.

The one time when the Svirfneblin broke this unwritten rule and did become involved in wider affairs proved to be a fatal disaster. The deep gnomes of Blingdenstone came to the aid of the dwarves of Mithral Hall, and helped them drive off the drow invasion. They paid a high price. The drow of Menzoberranzan did not forgive them for this, and destroyed the Svirfneblin city killing most of the inhabitants.


Festivals, Food and Drink: All the gnomes of the realms enjoy a good festival. They like nothing better than to eat, drink, dance and laugh with their family and friends. Though halflings and dwarves have reputations for partying hard, nobody parties like a gnome. Even the simplest festivals last for two days, and a good party can last well over a tenday – if not two tendays!

The surface gnomes celebrate the usual seasonal events such as harvest time, solstice and equinox. They also have a strong tradition of celebrating anniversaries – even anniversaries of events that we would see as tragedies. They may party just as hard on the date of a volcanic eruption as on the anniversary of the founding of their town. Birthdays are another subject for a party – most especially a coming of age, as are the various religious festivals of the Gnome pantheon. Rare events such as a solar or lunar eclipse are occasions for especially prolonged celebrations.

Svirfneblin do not use calendars, but church or community leaders will call for a festival if they feel the time is right.

Gnomes are fond of their food, but prefer large quantities of simply cooked food to more interesting and exotic meals. They can use their innate spells to add flavour and spice to a stew, but would prefer a simple roasted side of rothé to a gourmet meal. Gnomes are skilled brewers, but their ale is somewhat of an acquired taste. They prefer the heavier ales and meads.


Common Gnomish Sayings

· I wouldn't touch that if I were you.

· If it doesn’t work on the first try, it certainly will on the 99th.

· The only thing better than working, is making plans to work.

· Well, all it needs is a bigger hammer.

· If it works well with two wheels, just think how well it will work with eighty-four.

· More steam! It worked for uncle Gnuckle, before he blew up, so it should work now!

· When the going gets tough, the tough get ten more feet of steam pipe.

· What do you mean it isn’t working? It worked four decades ago! If a machine has only one lever, and if that lever breaks down, the machine is out of use. If a machine has twenty-one levers, and if one lever breaks down, the machine still has twenty levers to be used. If it’s not broken, it must have not enough features.


Combat and Warfare: Gnomes may be brave and tenacious fighters but they are by no means foolish. They realise their diminutive size gives their enemies a great advantage in hand to hand combat. The small folk need to battle with brains, not brawn. Where ever possible gnomes avoid direct confrontation and mêlée. Instead they rely on ranged weapon attacks, camouflage, diversion and illusion.

Gnomes like to fight a battle in the terrain of their choice. When setting up a mining camp or an above ground camp gnomes will always choose an area with good cover and good escape routes. A gnome member of a party is a real asset when setting up a defensible camp. When a battle is unavoidable gnome warriors will try to ensure it takes place in rough or broken ground with plenty of cover for smaller bodies. If caught in the open a gnome party will head for tall grass, or wooded or rocky ground

These small folk like to use ranged weapons to inflict as much damage as possible on the enemy without letting them close enough to make use of their superior size. They use small but sturdy crossbows, and shortbows. As well as these gnomes have a wide variety of alchemical products that can be tossed grenade style, resulting a wide variety of damaging effects. The ultimate “gnomish grenade” is one that combines damage with humiliation, such as Sneezing Powder. Gnomes may not have the discipline and expertise with missile weapons the halflings show, but they do have a murderous enthusiasm.

When forced to fight in a melee, gnomes show skill and courage. The preferred weapon is often a spear, used for stabbing not for throwing. They make use of their small size to dodge between the legs of very large opponents, or even underneath the mounts of an average sized enemy to cut the saddle straps. They will use spells of concealment, hidden trenches and any other technique they can find to maximise the surprise factor when they enter hand to hand combat. A gnome likes to charge while invisible; attack a foe caught off their guard then disappear before the enemy can get a decent hit in.

Gnomes incorporate elaborate defences into their homes and their mines. They will build tunnels too small for anyone but a gnome, ingenious and well hidden traps, mazes, illusionary walls, and secret doors as routine features in even a small village. Svirfneblin excel in creating illusions in stone, and even a relatively short term mining camp will have well thought out defences.

Magic and alchemy are as important in gnome combat as firing a bolt or arrow, or wielding a spear. A gnome battle mage will have prepared as many spells of concealment and illusion as those spells that cause direct damage. They will hide troop movements, create illusionary bogs and marshes to funnel and divert enemy to areas that suit the gnomish plans, send them into traps and deadfalls and even fool enemy into running off cliffs and trying to cross nonexistent bridges. The effect this confusion has on morale and the disruption to the enemy’s tactics is almost as important as the actual damage caused. Svirfneblin frequently carry a gem or similar object to summon a stone elemental if they are attacked.

All gnomes are taught these tactics and strategies from an early age. They practice fighting traditional enemies such as kobolds and goblinkin, and are well versed in the village escape routes. They are also taught the value of staying alive. Gnomes are never too proud to retreat when it is the most sensible move. The maxim “he who fights and runs away lives to fight another day” could have been written for these small warriors.

A gnome adventurer or warrior will always carry a ranged weapon (even if it is only a sling), and a melee weapon. They like to use stabbing spears as the long reach of these weapons helps counter the gnome’s small stature.


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Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Haflings (Hin)

Introduction

The name halfling is a term used by other races and considered a misnomer by halflings. They refer to others as “big folk” and to themselves as the Hin, or “small folk.”

There are two other key things you need to know before you can begin to understand halflings.

Just like their notoriously large appetites for food, Halflings have a huge appetite for life. They fling themselves into everything they do to experience it to the full. They are joyful optimists, full of curiosity and ingenuity; life is full of new experiences and pleasure. Halflings love to poke fun at “the big folk” when they take themselves too seriously. They seldom grieve, and never for the loss of material things. However when they do grieve, they do so with all their heart. When a member of the family dies halflings are overwhelmed by grief for weeks if not months. When it is a spouse this intense grief can dominate the rest of their lives.

The heart of halfling life, the centre of all that they do is home. However to a halfling home is not a place, home is people. The extended family or commonwealth of several clans is home – no matter where they happen to be. Whole clans can migrate from one village to another, and the big folk can mistakenly think halflings are rootless and unsettled. However the truth of it is when the families move the take their roots and their “home” with them.

Appearance : At around 3 foot tall halflings definitely live up to the name “small folk”. They have much the same proportions as the big folk, but based on their weights and heights they aren’t quite as slender as the elves. They have ruddy skin and usually have straight dark hair. Men often have sideburns but you hardly ever see hin with beards or moustaches. Their clothing is comfortable and practical. In the past elven-like pointy ears were only seen in Luiren hin, but recently they have become much more common all over Faerun.

Attributes: The Hin are an agile and nimble race. They are excellent climbers, and sure footed on the ground. Their small fingers are particularly adept at manipulating objects. Halfling hands make for excellent lock picking.

Their agility and small size mean halflings can move silently and remain hidden more than the larger races. This fits well with their tendency to avoid open conflict where possible. However if combat cannot be avoided, a halfling will fling themselves into the fray with the same enthusiasm and gusto they apply to most of their pursuits.

The Hin are optimists by nature, always looking at the blessings they do have rather than mourning losses. Their cheerful nature and buoyant good humour are infectious. Not only will a halfling adventurer have a high morale, but also her colleagues will also feel inspired with confidence and courage. However a halfling is likely to be devastated by the death of a close friend.

The favourite games of Hin children involve throwing, especially throwing stones. Not surprisingly adult halflings are particularly skilled with thrown weapons.

Halflings grow up being taught to be courageous and brave, and Yondalla has blessed halflings by making them particularly lucky. As a result of this halflings frequently take risks that can appal their big folk friends.

Attitudes, Psychology and Culture:

General: A halfling is considered to be a well balanced and admirable person if they are cheerful, creative and honest with other halflings. Big folk often learn the hard way that halflings can be remarkably stubborn, and yet halflings see stubbornness as a character flaw. Lying or tricking the big folk is perfectly acceptable, and even admired, but lying to fellow halflings is very much frowned on. Gloomy, stubborn, self important or just plain boring halflings are “taken down a peg” by becoming the butt of an insult game or a practical joke.

Halflings try for perfection in whatever they do – but the values they place on different achievements can seem odd to the non Hin. They can put as much dedication into making a perfect batch of honey cakes as into hunting down monsters who intrude into their lands.

Halflings avoid conflict and aggression within their families and communities. This is only common sense when so many people live under one roof. They often use humour to defuse potential problems. If there is an ongoing disagreement it takes the form of occasional snipes and digs rather than an out and out row. This type of battle may go on for years.

The Hin value comfort and happiness above wealth. A halfling would be much happier in a plain but highly comfortable tunic and breeches than he would be in a loose fitting brocaded silk coat, no matter how fine the tailoring.

Food and Drink: Halflings have prodigious appetites; and really value fine food and drink. Their diet consists of six meals a day - breakfast, brunch, lunch, teatime, supper, and bedtime snack. They are excellent cooks. A superb baker may receive as much fame and respect as a general-at-arms. Halflings are also good at making ale, wine and cheeses, as well as being skilled at tending gardens and orchards. This is just as well considering the amount of food a halfling can consume.

At festival times, such as Great Choice or Joining Festival, the host family are not expected to provide more than a modest amount of food and drink. Those attending all bring contributions to make the feast.

Relationships with Other Races: The Hin get on very well with all the other races. Their good humoured friendly attitude to others means they are accepted as part of many mixed communities. This means that you will find halfling communities in most large towns and cities. Halflings are ingenious and inventive, adapt quickly and thus can make the most of changes in a community. They tend to prefer the more changeable societies found in human lands to the more static towns and cities of the longer lived races. They adapt to the rules and mores of this larger society, but still keep a strong identity as halflings. Halflings have even been known to adopt members of other races into their families, and have even accepted intelligent creatures such as pseudo dragons as equal members of the community.

Halfling Families: A Hin only considers his birth family (in Earth terms - nuclear family) to be a small part of his true family. Family means a large group of people related to each other and intermarried. This extended (or perhaps even over extended) family can run to a hundred or more people across many generations. Relationships within the family are largely very informal, but age brings respect. Younger siblings are taught to respect their elder siblings, and the oldest members of the family are held in great esteem. Disobeying an elder is severely frowned on. The family is ruled in a benign but firm manner by a matriarch or a patriarch – usually one of the senior generation.

Children are not just cared for by their mothers – all the older members of the family will be involved. The other members of the commonwealth or community will also frequently lend a hand.

Halfling marriages are loving and close partnerships. Unfaithfulness is very rare, and divorce so rare as to be almost unheard of. The only grounds for divorce are repeated adultery, and the break up of a marriage leads to deep rifts between the families involved.

Gifts: Halflings have a great tradition of giving presents – not just on birthdays but on other important occasions as well. Young halflings who have travelled are expected to bring home little gifts for all of their family; couples who are newly wed are given gifts; a farmer who has just reclaimed a new field from the wilderness may give gifts to those who helped him; expectant mothers are showered with gifts throughout their pregnancies.

It is not the actual value of the gift that is prized, but how well the gift fits the recipient. Usefulness and practicality outweigh price, and the gift must be appropriate for the relationship between giver and receiver.

Attitudes to Property: Halflings have acquired a reputation among the other races for being thieves and rogues. This has arisen in two ways. Firstly halfling communities or commonwealths hold all wealth and belongings in common. If one farmer snaps his pruning shears he will go take his neighbour’s shears in order to finish the orchard. If his neighbour was not actually using the shears, neither will see any problem with this. The shears do not belong to any one person – they belong to the entire community. Halflings who have lived for some time in a Hin enclave within a city presumably have learned that this does not apply to objects owned by other races – or they would have long since been driven out. However newcomers may mistakenly “borrow” things from big folk.

Yondalla frowns on halflings stealing from each other as does Brandobaris. However stealing from the big folk is an entirely different matter. Playing a trick on the big folk is an admirable thing to do, and stealing from them is a natural extension of this. The Hin are sure footed and nimble fingered – it is not surprising many of them become light-fingered as well.

Collections: Almost all halflings have a collection of some kind or another. The nature of these collections range from the expected (dried flowers, insects and butterflies, small coins) to the more exotic. A halfling on world walk may collect small stones from every land he visits or a small piece of exotic wood; a town dweller may collect mugs from every potter in town – anything that can be collected will be collected! Collections of two to three hundred objects are standard, and they can get considerably larger.

Those who collect similar objects usually have a friendly rivalry, but sometimes this degenerates into a more sinister jealousy. Most of the burglaries in halfling communities are related to collections.

World Walk: Some young adult halflings choose to spend a decade or so wandering the world, collecting experiences, knowledge and mementos. This is not a planned tour, but they wander where ever the fancy takes them. World walk is distinctly different to those halflings who have decided to make a long term career away from their families. World walkers fully intend to return home and still consider themselves to be very much a part of their families.

Language: Halflings have their own language which is rich and complex as you would expect from a culture that relies far more on oral tradition than written records. However all halflings speak Common as well, though it may be a dialect that is difficult for an outsider to understand. If their names are botanical (as so many are) – they will usually give you the Common translation.


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Elves

There are several known elven subraces in the Forgotten Realms, and most of them live in relative harmony. Crossbreeding 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).

Gold elves, Silver elves, and Green elves all live in relative harmony. In Semberholme and presumably in other area sea elves and land elves live side by side. Wild elves are somewhat separate but there is no conflict or animosity with the other land elves. Avariel are rarely seen, but are beginning to establish contacts with the world outside their secret homes.

The dark elves are almost all banished to the Underdark as drow, but a few followers of Eilestraee are good aligned and dwell on the surface. Sadly the drow attack their surface dwelling brethren and communities are frequently wiped out.


Sun Elves

Also called Ar’Tel’Quessir, sunrise elves, gold elves

Typifying Quote: The elven ideals are the only thing we need; the elves are the only company worth seeking. All else is fleeting.

Appearance: They are an exotic and beautiful race with skin: of bronze or amber; and hair of copper, golden blond or black; and rarely red. Their eyes are usually gold or green and very occasionally copper, silver, black, or hazel. They are also taller than non Toril elves, closer in height to humans, but as they value study over combat they are a little less robust than moon elves.

Gold elves dress in garments that are of simple, flowing lines in cool greens and blues, but of exotic and magnificent cut richly decorated with subtle but intricate embroidery. Likewise their jewelry is deceptively simple, but intricately and exquisitely crafted.

History: Sun elves arrived in the second wave of elven migration, but in smaller numbers that the moon and dark elves. Ever since then they have always been a smaller population. Prior to the Crown Wars gold elves founded several great nations, all of which were deeply involved in these turbulent and lengthy wars.

In the post Crown War era gold elves undertook to build a realm based on compassion, knowledge and subtle, learned magic - the empire of Cormanthyr with its wondrous city of Myth Drannor. This became a mighty empire with great influence over the rest of Faerun and a rich storehouse for the arts. However it was the sun elves own arrogance and contempt of the other races that was the biggest stumbling block to the full realization of Eltargrim's dream - a city where all goodly races were welcome and all art and lore valued no matter the source.

More than any other race sun elves have embraced the Retreat to Evermeet, and the majority of gold elves live on the Island of the Elves. Gold elves from Aryvander were the first to inhabit Evermeet. It is the great tragedy of the elves that even here antipathy and rivalry arose between the elven races - fuelled (so say many) by the arrogance and superiority of the sun elves.

Cculture and Outlook: The key to understanding sun elven culture is their belief that Corellon chose them to be the keepers and defenders of all that is the finest in elven lore, art and magic; and their belief in their " special relationship" with Corellon. Many sun elves believe they were created to be more noble and more intrinsically worthy than the other elves. They thus look down on other elves races, and view the other races of Faerun with contempt.

Gold elves are a solemn and dignified people, who place great value on bloodlines and tradition. Their society is based on the rule of noble families, and the honour of a family name. While they do not rule a majority of the elven colonies across the Realms, gold elves often take it upon themselves to act as the conservative arbiters of elven civilization, firm in their beliefs that they know what “true elven culture" is. Many gold elves still resent the fact that the Elven Royal family is moon elven - however the majority hold the Moonflowers to be above racial divisions and truly honor their Queen.

Sun elves are isolative and aloof, preferring to keep themselves apart from the other inhabitants of Faerun. They disdain the arts and knowledge of other races, and therefore have a much narrower range of artistry and lore. However it can be truly said that in those areas the sun elves choose to work, they are consummate masters. Those who gather wizardly knowledge are held in great esteem, and sun elven wizards purse their craft with single minded intensity. The fine arts such as music, metal work and sculpture are dear to the heart of Corellon and "his" sun elves. Combat and the arts of war hold lesser value - and it may be true that in their assurance of their superiority sun elves are not truly aware of the danger posed top them by the other races and creatures living in Faerun.

Sun elves are common in Evermeet, and can also be found in the woodlands of the North, in the cities of Silverymoon and Everska, and in the western heartlands. Sun elves seldom interact with other races, and confine their search for knowledge to elven tradition. They very rarely take the path of an adventurer.

Moon Elves

Teu’Tel’Quessir, silver elves

Typifying Quote: Life is for the living and is best spent among the lively. Revel in variety and laughter, for all living things can learn and laugh with each other.

Appearance: Moon elves are tall and elegant and often extremely beautiful. Their skin is ivory-white, often with blue tints, with white, silver-white, sapphire blue, or black hair. Very rarely, they can be blond. Their eyes are blue or green with gold flecks; and occasionally gray. Both males and females wear their hair long - often plaited in intricate or simple braids, or pulled back into a ponytail. Moon elves prefer garb that may be simple and even rustic in style, but is exquisitely made and adorned with embroidery, bead work and other decoration. They also deck their bodies and their hair with adornment, and often use body paint and tattoos. When feasting or living in a place of comfort and safety their clothes are bright and cheerful - like the moon elves themselves.

History: The moon elves came to Toril with the second wave of elven migration, and came in the greatest numbers of any elven race. From the very start they tended to be explorers and wanderers, and only one moon elven realm was founded before the time of the Crown Wars. Orishaar fell to the Ilythiiri. Following the Wars, silver elves helped raise many of the new realms, especially those of Evereska and Cormanthyr.

Many lived in Myth Drannor. At the height of this great city the silver elves were among the only nobles outside of the Coronal’s circle who accepted N’Tel’Quess at parties. Though the Coronal was a gold elf, the moon elves were the ones doing the most to make Eltargrim’s dream of racial equality come true.

The moon elves were the slowest to answer the call, and retreat to Evermeet, and they left in smaller numbers than the other elves. Despite this, and despite the fact moon elves are often considered less noble than gold elves (a view especially common among the gold elves), the royal family of Evermeet come from the Moonflower clan - an ancient Moon elf family.

Culture and Outlook: They are both the most common of elves on this world, and the variety most often seen by non-elves. Silver elves remain a race whose inquisitive nature, curiosity and hunger to see and to know has led them to be wanderers and explorers, and also to be the elves most in contact with the other races. Many silver elves lives in nomadic groups made up of ten or more extended families that wander Faerun and seldom settle in one place for long. However this is measured in elven terms and many a town or city may see moon elves living there for much of a human’s short life span.

Moon elves thrive on change and on passions, often seeming like young elves throughout their lives. They enjoy laughter and revelry and tend to be more light hearted than the other elves. Though on the surface it may seem they live for the thrills of the moment, these elves see the future of all the races grimly: they must all learn to get along, or they will all be overcome. They are keen practitioners of the arts of battle, and a moon elven warrior is a truly dangerous foe.

Silver elves love of beautiful handiwork, music and tales and their thirst for knowledge has led them to admire and adopt much of the learning, skills and music of the other races. It is this and their love of friendship and feasting that has made them closest of all the elves to the other races. They are especially close to halflings, humans and gnomes; sometimes living alongside them. Their relationship with the dwarves is a little less close but they still admire these consummate workers in metal and stone. However they have a great enmity for the evil races such the goblinkin, and they reserve a deep and abiding hatred for the drow.

Moon elves have the affinity for wizardly magic seen in the other elves, but they often lack the single minded pursuit of these arts. Moon elves often combine their wizardy with the art of the blade or the more secretive arts and knowledge of a rogue.

Silver elves can be found in almost every region of the realms. Due to their higher tolerance for other races, the moon elves are more likely to become adventurers than are the other elves. Likewise, most half-elves in the Realms are descended from moon elves.

Wood Elves

Sy’Tel’Quessir, copper elves

Typifying Quote: Life beyond the green is hostile and harsh. Only under the shade of the Life trees, in harmony with nature, is life of any value. Only those who understand that are true elf-friends.

Appearances: Like other Toril elves, Wood elves are tall. The rough dangerous world of the deep forest has bred a race that is more heavily built than other elven races. Their skin is copper often with green tints, and brown or black hair; rarely copper or blond. Their eyes are green, brown, hazel; and rarely blue.

Wood elven garb is of simple cut, in the natural shades of earth, wood and leaf. These are decorated with understated embroidery in natural designs. Copper elves often wear their leather armor, even if there is no apparent threat. These suits of armor are beautifully made, and the leather may be lovingly tooled.

History The ancestors of the wood elves were among the first to travel to Faerun from the Realms of Faerie. These early races built great cities and powerful realms. The turmoil and devastation of the Crown Wars utterly destroyed these nations. In their wake several of the early races roamed Faerun, homeless and hunted in the Wandering Years. Gradually these disparate races coalesced to form the wood elves - the only race of elves to have been truly formed on Faerun.

Following the Years of Wandering wood elves raised the nation of Earlann as a great realm in the eastern High Forest. They watched the growth of Netheril with trepidation, and tried to curb the excesses of the Netherese. Following the spectacular and devastating fall of Netheril, the wood elves welcomed survivors and refugees into the city of Ascalorn, within the borders of Earlann. This city also fell as a result of prideful meddling in magic, and this time the catastrophe also destroyed Earlann as Ascalorn became Hellgate Keep.

Since then copper elves have turned away from the dubious safety of walls and fortification, preferring to rely upon stealth and the secret, hidden refuge of the deep forest

Culture: The story of the wood elves is one of repeated devastation, loss and destruction. Tales and songs of woe have passed down through the generations, leaving the wood elves wary of other elves and distrustful of the other races. Copper elves are fervently committed to preventing war among the elves, and have also come to realize that their fate and their safety are bound up with the attitudes and the actions of the other races. In order to preserve their safety they deal almost exclusively with other elves, keeping any contact with other races to a minimum especially the humans with their history of disastrous magic, and their destruction of the forest. Since they try to live far from humankind, they are one of the least-seen races of the elves. Copper elves tolerate their rare contact with the N’Tel’Quess simply to lessen the enemies against which they must guard. They keep to themselves, only allowing contact with N’Tel’Quess rangers or druids.

Copper elves have built up a powerful affinity with the deep forest - seeing the life of the trees as more permanent that that of brick and stone buildings. Towns and cities are transitory places that will inevitably fall into ruin, but the great forests endure. Many are nomadic, eschewing all possessions they cannot carry with them. However, the majority live in small but permanent villages, deep within the forest. These are built of wood, fieldstone and even the living trees themselves. They are so skillfully blended in to their surroundings even a highly skilled human hunter can pass right through a village without ever seeing it.

Wood elves value skills in combat and hunting above study. They have a great deal of knowledge about the ways of the forest, but have little book learning and little knowledge of the behaviour and culture of other races. Very few wood elves delve into arcane magic, and there are also very few clerics - which is not surprising in a culture that does not value study and learning.

Wood elves are common in the ancient forests of Faerun - especially Cormanthor. They can also be found in the other forests of the Dalelands, Tethyr, the north and the Great Dale.

Wild Elves

Green elves

Appearance: Wild (or green) elves have skin of dark brown, and their hair is also brown - ranging from light brown through to nearly black. In extreme age their hair turns silver or white. They are graceful in their movements, and like Wood elves they are stockier and hardier than other elves. However as they place more value on physical fitness and prowess than learning they have less knowledge and tend to be less cerebral.

Green elves wear a minimum of clothing, especially those that live in the sweltering south. These are of simple fibers or animal skins. Unlike the other elven races they do not decorate their clothing, rather they decorate their hair and their actual skin with tattoos, body paint, beads and feathers worked into intricate and beautiful patterns.

History: The wild elves were the first of the elves to arrive on Toril. They loved this beautiful new world and spread widely, building great cities and mighty realms where they lived in a peaceful and cultured existence. The Crown Wars shattered this way of life. Miyeritar, the greatest of the green elven realms, was utterly destroyed and the other realms were broken - their survivors left scattered and homeless.

During The Wandering wild elves saw many of the other elven races built new nations and cities, but they preferred the sanctuary and safety of the isolated wilderness. In time wild elves neglected their traditional learning for the lore of the wilderness and of survival. They became increasingly distrustful of other races and even other elves. Their clans splintered into smaller and smaller groups who led increasingly isolated lives. In short the once learned and skilful green elves became the feral and barbaric wild elves.

Culture and Outlook: Green elves are by far the most isolative and reclusive of the elves. They avoid contact with all outsiders - even other elves, and are seldom seen. The skills and lore of their past are long since gone, but they still retain much magic. Some enables them to remain hidden. Those who stumble into a wild elven enclave are mazed and enchanted - returned back where they came from with no dangerous memories and usually without even seeing a wild elf. Other magic is present in the form of druid spells and sorcery rather than the clerical and wizardly magics of scholarship and learning.

The hunt is the lynch pin of wild elven society, and is surrounded with ritual and festivity. The inherent joy and creativity of the elves is expressed in music and dance, which often reflects the theme of the hunt. They disdain permanent art other than tattoos, and have only simple crafts. Great value is placed in hunting skills, and green elves are adept at moving unseen through the forest while tracking their prey and are fierce fighters. Many of the tribes are nomadic, but others live in simple permanent homes - whichever is best suited to survival in their particular wilderness.

They favor the warmer woodlands of the south - the Chondalwood, the Methwood, the Forest of Amtar and the Misty Vale. There have also been reports of wild elves in the forest of Tethir but their numbers are small. However as they are so seldom seen it is difficult to know for certain where they really are. They are almost never seen as adventurers.

Aquatic Elves

Sea elves

Typifying Quote: The mere community of the elves and races above is camaraderie and convenience against loneliness. Beneath the waters’ edge, community is survival, and individuality is death.

Appearance: Although they are of the same subrace, aquatic elves from the Great Sea have a different appearance to those from the Sea of Fallen Stars. The former have deep green skin, mottled and striped with brown. The latter have blue skin with white strips and patches. Both groups are robust and tall with long limbs, and long, thickly webbed digits. Their hair is usually thick and somewhat stringy, and can be blue, black silver or even occasionally red. The most unusual feature is the gills visible in their necks and over their ribs.

Sea elves are either lightly clad or wear no clothes at all. Their clothes are formed from underwater plants, in blacks, browns and greens. Warriors clip their hair, but other sea elves wear it long and flowing.

History: Aquatic elves were the last of the elven races to reach Faerun, and have always kept themselves somewhat apart from their land bound kin.

At first they were nomadic wanderers but gradually they began to form separate communities. Sea elves have had a somewhat warlike history. They attempted to stay aloof from the Crown Wars, but this failed and the destruction and turbulence spread to their homes, driving some of the Great Sea elves north into the Sea of Fallen Stars. They have repeatedly battled with the evil underwater races, especially the sahuagin, but at times they have also fought against merfolk, and other goodly races. One such war led to a group of refugees forming the colony in Lake Sember.

Culture and Outlook Aquatic: Elves are isolationist by their physical nature, and by choice – though they are not quite as reclusive as the wild elves. They trust only themselves, their clan, and no others. They cannot understand why the surface elves cannot see the simple truth all water elves know: alliance and community means survival, while factionalism means death. Their alliances with other elves are not based on racial affinity but on gain. A clear example of this is the alliance between the sea elves of Lake Sember and the land elves of Semberhome. The aquatic elves merely want to maintain their colony in Lake Sember and protect Semberholme as part of the deal. However this caution is tempered with curiosity and sea elves can spend much time secretly observing the land bound races.

Sea elves are the least magical of the elven races, although they still have as many mages as human realms. Those who are spellcasters devote their long life spans to study and become extremely skilled. They have developed a range of waterproof magical items, and a system of writing underwater.

Aquatic elven society is based on family and clan – and alth0ugh females can and do wield power they are patriarchal. Noble families rule, but in a benign and loose fashion rather than with an iron fist. Families or individuals may own their dwelling but most other property is held in common. Such communal ownership means theft is almost unknown.

The special acoustics of a watery environment lend themselves to music, and sea elves are exposed to the eerie and beautiful songs of the whales and other denizens of the deep. It is not surprising that aquatic elven bards have a range of powerful and evocative songs.

The majority of aquatic elves live in the Sea of Fallen Stars, and the Great Sea. However smaller communities can be found along the western coast and in Lake Sember.



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