Search The Forgotten Realms Lyceum

Saturday, January 30, 2021

Faerûn and Immersion Through Rechristening

High Librarian Hemvar Crostiful, of the Master's Library, sent from the Reading Room, Earthfast Mountains, thirtieth of Hammer, Midwinter's Eve, The Year of the Wrathful Eye (or 30 January 2021 CE/AD on Earth)

Just as New York was once New Amsterdam, and Istanbul was known as Constantinople once upon a time, there is a long timeline of history to Faerûn of the Forgotten Realms. Today I just want to briefly touch on some of the people, places, and things that once had a different moniker than we might be presently used to. This is important because rechristening gives a sense of depth and reality to this constructed world of the imagination. Just as someone can be a Middle-earth scholar (as opposed to a Tolkien scholar), there are students and disciples that study the ancient lore of the Forgotten Realms.

I would like to especially thank the scholars and sages of Candlekeep for some of the information brought to light when I was compiling this treatise.

Since the creation of Abeir-Toril many things have changed. The Days of Thunder are gone and the world sundered. The Cradle of life, the translation of Abeir-Toril from the language that is an archaic predecessor to Aragrakh. That world created so long ago is split and we now live in just Toril, "cradle, home, dwelling-place, welcoming arms, cauldron"; a fitting name as it is.The Dawn Age is past and almost lost to antiquity. Many things have changed, beyond just words and names, but the land itself. I will not bore you with how Merrouroboros was the land that now constitutes Faerûn, Zakhara, Kara-tur, Maztica, Laerekond and all the lands of Abeir and Toril in their present shapes. Long has time ran since the Crown Wars and the tel-quessir split from one body.

To things more obviously relevant in our day, things more easily comprehensible and not so distant in the annals of weird are some certain rechristenings. Let me touch on a few:

House Do'Urden of the execrable, Araumycosian city of the Northdark, Menzoberranzan is a primary example. My information, presumably holding true, has this house being destroyed in the savage wars among the drow in the Year of the Weeping Moon, 1339 DR. Before their destruction, centuries of history exist. As this house was likely founded almost four thousand years prior to our current reckoning systems instatement, shortly after the cities founding. Do'Urden's ancient name is Daermon N'a'shezbaernon.

Erevis Cale, Chosen of Mask, keeping with the same relative theme, once was known by a different name, say sources from the Dragon Coast. Vasen Coriver was an assassin and member of the Night Masks guild of cutpurses and cutthroats. I also hear, interestingly, that he is also a learned linguist, trained by one Theevis. Regardless, when he fled his position and role in Westgate, he made way to Sembia and changed his name before working for the underworld Night Knives and the noble House Uskevren.

While on Sembia, the current protectorate of Netheril, there are some similarly intriguing renamings. 

Selgaunt, a city administrated by the Hulorn and his Proxy, is a metropolitan merchant city ran by the wealthy houses of the Old Chauncel. This group is what gave the city it's former name of Chauncelgaunt. Selgar was a wise merchant-leader of Sembia. He helped the country grow in its infancy and prosper with trade. Upon Selgar's death, he was buried in Chauncelguant and the city was renamed in his honor.

Saerloon has a similar tale to Selgaunt's. The city was once Chondathan, named for the first humans who came from Chondath of the Vilhon Reach to displace the elven inhabitants. Saer was another sagacious merchant-king, and Saerloon was renamed in his honor, just as the smaller settlement Saerb was named for him as well.

Ordulin is as old as the Dalelands, and this is because it was once part of the Dales known as Moondale. Rauthauvy’s Road’s southern terminus was Moondale at its construction in the Year of the Watching Raven, 913 DR. By the Year of the Minotaur Paladin, 1067 DR, it was annexed by Sembia and renamed Ordulin.

Staying near the Sea of Fallen Stars we continue with-

-The Moonsea, of which great cities such as Zhentil Keep, Hillsfar, Phlan, Mulmaster, and Melvaunt find their home was once known as The Dragon Sea. This is little written on this particular older name for the Moonsea, though it may have likely been named so for the Dragonspine Mountains to the north and west of the body of water. It may have been renamed sometime after 112 so as not to be confused with the Dragonmere.

Daggerdale was formed in 569 DR, the Year of Tumbled Bones from Hlontar, itself from the ruins of the nation of Teshar which had been a refuge of the surviving Netherese states of Anauria, Asram, and Hlondath and was called Merrydale. With the rise of the Morn family, In 796 DR, the Year of Grey Mists, the family renamed the land Daggerdale, after its traditional dwarven name. 

Zhentil Keep was founded as an impermanent encampment around the Year of the Fanged Beast, 640 DR, to facilitate trade with the dwarves of Tethyamar at a reasonable distance away from Thar (where Zhentil Keep received its moniker Thargate). In the Year of Stagnant Water, 747 DR, a permanent settlement was established by Orlephar Flostren out of the previously discussed Chauncelgaunt. The site became known as Flostren's Hold. A scant few years later, in the Year of Strife, 753 DR, after the death of the supposed hero, the banite Zhentar, the hold was renamed to Zhentil Keep.

Inner Sea map from Cormyrean cartographers by commission of House Mindosel of Teshar

Helgabal, capital of Damara, until the Year of the Serpent, 1359 DR, was once known as Heliogabalus.

Lyrabar, the de jure capital of Impiltur, was founded in the Year of Old Beginnings, -135 DR, by Impil Mirandor, atop the ancient dwarven hold of Felimar. At its founding it was named Impil's Tor, until in the Year of Elven Delights, 118 DR, Impil's son Ornrath renamed it Lyrabar.

New Sarshel was known as Sarshel until a few years ago when the Spellplague changed our world.

Procampur, city-state of the Vast was founded as Proeskampalar, but by the Year of Trials Arcane, 523 DR, was known by Procampur.

Tsurlagol has been sacked, burned, and utterly destroyed on many occasions, though the original settlement was almost as old as Procampur. At its founding it was known as Chessagol.

Calaunt, Vastar city-state at the mouth of the River Vesper was known as Vespermouth when it was still a village.

Veltalar, port of Aglarond, was founded in the Year of the Leaning Post, 756 DR, and at the time it was known as Velprin. During the reign of King Brindor Olósynne, the founder of his dynasty, renamed the city Velprintalar. In recent years it became known as Veltalar.

Undumor was originally an Aglarondan fortress found at the mouth of the River Umber, and was primarily a deterrent to Theskan raiders. While in the hands of Aglarond it was hight Emmech, thought it has recently been conquered by Thay and gained its current designation.

Bezantur was originally a bustling Raumviran port known as Kensten. It was taking over by the Red Wizards of Thay in the 900s DR and renamed.

Chavyondat, capital of Estagund, was known as Klionna in older annals.

The Snakewood of eastern Amn has many names. Sometimes referred by the once elven kingdom of Arundath, or the Quiet Wood. At Arundath's founding the forest was known as the Wyrmwood since its separation by dragon fire from the greater Shantel Othreier.

Cairnheim was renamed as such after the giant Dodkong re-founded Nedeheim.

West toward the Sword Coast we have

Luskan, the City of Sails, has a complicated history, but suffice it to say it was originally founded by Ruathen sailors, but was for a large amount of its history it was an orcish city named Illusk. For a brief time around the Year of the Kraken, 151 DR, it was known as Argrock when another orc horde held the city for a brief period. 

Neverwinter was settled by the people of Ruathym of the Moonshaes around Castle Never in the Year of Hoar Frost, 87 DR. Eigersstor was its name, an Illuskan word, and a century later in the Year of the Twisted Tree it was renamed with its Chondathan translation, Neverwinter. 

Waterdeep, the City of Splendors is in the precise spot of Illefarn capital of Aelinthaldaar. It is also over the netherese Sargauth Enclave, presently known as Skullport. In the Year of of Scattered Stars, 168 DR, Halastar Blackcloak established Halaster's Hold northwest of an unamed Illuskan farming community, though it was later abandoned by his apprentices flight into Undermountain. In the Year of the Blighted Vine, 482 a Tethyrian warlord established Bloodhand Hold. The Bloodhand tribe was eventually conquered by Nimoar the Reaver in the Year of the Moonbar Crest, 872 DR, who renamed the settlement to Nimoar's Hold. In 940 DR the settlement was commonly called Waterdeep, and after Ahghairon's victory in the Trollwars in 952 DR he later would become the first Open Lord of the Free City of Waterdeep, as opposed to the War Lords who once ruled.

Amphail, now known for its cattle was once known as Rowan Hold. It was established as an outlying settlement to Bloodhand Hold by Raulbaera Bloodhand in the Year of the Splendid Stag, 734 DR, after poor harvests and fierce summer fires.

Sword Coast circa -626 DR

Baldur's Gate was originally a haven for scavengers and pirates, and may still be depending on who you ask. It was called Gray Harbor by those first settlers. Later it was renamed after the famous explorer of Anchorome, Balduran, whom after returning to Gray Harbor with great riches left again never to return. Because of this, his treasure was used to build the walls around "Old Town". The harbor at Baldur's Gate is to this day still called Gray Harbor, and it spans all six districts of the Lower City.

Darromar, the sprawling capital of Tethyr, was originally a Calishite frontier town named Calimaronn. It was eventually sacked and Chieftain Mong Ithal who had the settlement renamed to Ithmong. This was later changed to Darromar, mayhap to avoid confusion with the city Ithmong of the Lapal League (itself being destroyed approximately six years past during the Blue Breath of Change).

Now onto some famous Elven instances of rechristening.

Myth Adofhaer, a Siluvanedenn city with the curious situation of being stuck in stasis rather than being run to ruin with time. Before the sun elves established a mythal in the city, it was simply known as Adofhaeranede.

Myth Drannor, the City of Song, of many a famous ballad, was once simply known as Cormanthor before its mythal was established. This helped in some ways seeing as the empire was named Cormanthyr and the forest for which it resided was Cormanthor.

Myth Ondath, the once known City of Peace is now in ruins on the edge of Tortured Lands, The Ride, the Border Forest, and the White Peaks. At its founding by the sylvan elves it was known as Yrlaancel. In the Year of the Dancing Deer, 351 DR it became Ondathel. With the erection of its mythal in the Year of the Dances Perilous, 555 DR, it was finally named Myth Ondath.

Cormanthor, the forest in which Myth Drannor is found, was once connected to the Border Forest and known as Arcorar or the Great King Forest.

The Border Forest itself was called Rystall Wood when Myth Ondath stood. With the rise of Netheril, it became known as the Eastern Forest until later becoming the Border Forest of today.

Glaurachyndaar was an Eaerlanni city in the Nether Mountains built over the ruins of an Aryvandaaran city. Unlike previous entries, this city was once known as Myth Glaurach, the City of Scrolls, until the loss of its mythal resulted in its changed name.

These surely are not all the examples that could be called forth, but this should be a sufficient exercise to show the level of history present in the Forgotten Realms. Just as Tolkien crafted Middle-earth and put stories into it, we can put our stories into this world of magic, evil, elves, gods, and a long timeline of history that was created originally by Ed Greenwood and many others hence.

Yours under Deneir,
High Librarian Hemvar Crostiful,
Master's Library


You can track my current progress here.

Friday, January 29, 2021

Review: Lord of the Darkways by Ed Greenwood

 Lord of the Darkways is a short story from the digital Dragon Magazine issue 390 from August 2010; it can be found on pages 55-77. It can also be found in the anthology Untold Adventures from 2011, but for your pleasure you can read it from the Internet Archive here.

the cover for issue 390

The tale is about Manshoon, vampire of Greenwood fame. He often appears in Elminster novels, and this is  a sequel of sorts to the story "So High A Price" from 1994's Realms of Infamy but also a prequel to Elminster Must Die. It takes place in 1334 DR, the Year of the Blazing Brand. Manshoon moves to block control of the Darkways, portals in Zhentil Keep in the hands of wealthy merchants that allow quick movement of people and goods to mansions in Sembia.

After the prelude of Manshoon's master plan is enacted we are then brought to Elminster who is in Innarlith on the Lake of Steam. He is in a funny situation that actually had me chuckling. 

story art by Kekai Kotaki

This short story is not all of over the place and hard to follow like some of Greenwood's writing. The Yavarla thread was a nice addition, and from it we get to see Storm Silverhand for a moment. The story is about double the length of most short stories I've read so far, and that gives it a good sense of round completeness.

Not surprsingly, Greenwood's story is full of tiny bits of Realms Lore you won't really find any information on; are Darklash and Painclaw official positions in the Church of Loviatar? Who is Tanthar of Selgaunt? Does this painting of the Spaerenza and Lord Wizard Uldimar Bronneth still exist? What happened to the Sembian cabal, the Vigilant Ravens, who opposed Manshoon's rise to power?

Overall this is a fine tale with good meat and lore. It is Good.


You can track my current progress here.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Review: And All the Sinners, Saints by Paul Kemp

From Dragon Magazine issue 297 from July 2002 we have another Erevis Cale story from Paul Kemp: And All the Sinners, Saints. This story takes place after Shadow's Witness, of the Sembia series, and before The Erevis Cale Trilogy. If you have read the latter you may remember references to this short tale in the trilogy. It can be found on pages 68-77.

Erevis Cale is the butler at the Halls of Stormweather, the home of the noble house Uskevren of Selgaunt, Sembia. He was a former assassin of the Night Masks who escaped (the story of which is told in Another Name for Dawn) and later worked for the Night Knives. He is awoken in the night after receiving dreams from the god Mask.

Riven is an assassin who was an associate of Cale's in the Night Knives. He also is getting unsettling dreams from Mask.

Cale attend's with his master, Thamalon Uskevren, to the Hulorn's Palace with a meeting with the Hulorn, the ruler of Selgaunt whom plans to announce a new Proxy. We learn of a handy Sembian word: wolmoner, literally "vigil man" and over time a term that denoted a bodyguard, advisor, spy, or servant. I'll probably add it to my Sembian word usage article.

story art by Greg Staples

An unlikely partnership is stuck temporarily has Mask has need of a certain servant of the rival god, Cyric, out of the picture. In the story political intrigue intersects with street toughs, and evil gods and magical items: ideal Dungeons & Dragons.  This story is peak Kemp writing, it is Exceptional.

"We work well together, Cale."


You can track my current progress here.

Monday, January 25, 2021

Review: Dreaming of Waterdeep by Rosemary Jones

 Dreaming of Waterdeep is a short story from Dragon Magazine issue 393 published digitally in November of 2010 and acts as a prequel for the character Gustin Bone of Jone's 2009 novel, City of the Dead, book 4 of the Ed Greenwood Presents Waterdeep series (my thoughts on the whole series can be found here). The tale can be found on pages 49-56. The story can also be found in Untold Adventures, an anthology with short stories from multiple settings from 2011.

the cover of issue 393

We are introduced to ten year old Gustin Bone who is an orphan and living with his Uncle in a small village. When trio of adventurers stop in the village looking for respite, Gustin asks a litany of questions but his hopes of adventuring and seeing Waterdeep are quashed by his uncle. 

story art by Warren Mahy

Gustin has a little bit of illusory magic, not very effective in combat. This small adventure involves searching ruins for treasure and a magical monster that has made the ruins its lair.

Likely this story takes place in Cormyr, as that is where Gustin grew up, but the village and area remain unnamed. It is an exciting story, and I plan to get Untold Adventures soon so I can have a physical copy. There is something oddly realistic (in a magical world) that 4e era books have that many earlier works are lacking, and Jones writes phenomenally, displaying such life. This story is Exceptional, and I recommend you read it; it can be found here.


You can track my current progress here.

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Review: Shamur's Wager by Richard Lee Byers

 Shamur's Wager is a short story by Richard Lee Byers from Dragon Magazine issue 273 published in July 2000. The story follows Shamur Uskevren lady and rogue of Sembia fame and protagonist of The Shattered Mask published June of the following year (my review of the whole series can be found here). The story can be found from pages 56 to 63.

The story is not given a proper place on the timeline but it likely takes place before the Sembia book series. Shamur has a fierce competition with Chenna Talendar, a lady of a rival house, to gain a brooch that belonged to Shamur's old trainer in the roguish arts, Errendar Spillwine; it also may include an exhilarating griffon race over Selgaunt.

story art by Therese Nielsen

It's a fun read with a surprising outcome. There is something special about this story I found common among the tales from Sembia that bring out the joyful magic present in the Forgotten Realms. This story is somehow Amazing as Byers is able to squeeze in meat and juice into this exciting short tale.


You can track my current progress here.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Review: Another Name for Dawn by Paul Kemp

Another Name for Dawn is the origin story for Erevis Cale, and a good read for fans after reading The Erevis Cale Trilogy. The story can be found on pages 72-80 of Dragon Magazine issue #277 from November 2000, the same time that Shadow's Witness, the book of  Sembia series starring Cale was released.

The story follows Vasen Coriver as he seeks to escape Westgate, a city on the Sea of Fallen Stars coast, and the Night Masks guild of cut-throats, assassins, and thieves. This is a great read for those who are fans of Westgate, Sembia, the Dragon Coast region, or anyone reading the novel Night Masks (book 3 of the Cleric Quintet by Salvatore) which is me on all accounts.

story art by Carlo Arellano

The story takes place in The Year of the Serpent, 1359 DR. It's a quick read that gives a good glimpse of the character of Vasen as he makes his swift escape during the night. Though it is short it's Exceptional glimpse into the world of the Forgotten Realms and I recommend it for those who can't get enough of the premier setting for the worlds greatest role-playing game.

You can track my current progress here.