The past has left its mark on the present of Faerûn, and now you can get a glimpse of what went before in Lost Empires of Faerûn, the latest sourcebook for the Forgotten Realms setting. Information for both players and Dungeon Masters includes prestige classes, feats, and spells commonly employed by characters who delve into the secrets of the past or keep alive the ancient traditions of realms now vanished into history. The bulk of the rest of the book delves into the Crown Wars, the Old Empires of Mulhorand and Unther, the empire of Netheril, the powerful states of Coramshan and Jhaamdath, the fabled realm of Myth Drannor, various artifacts and monsters of the past, and several other topics that Dungeon Masters can find useful when creating Forgotten Realms campaigns. Our sneak peek includes a look at ancient feats, a prestige class, ancient spells, some artifacts, plus several tidbits of past lore.
Artifacts of the Past
Many of Faerûn's lost empires boasted magic of world-shaking power. Many of the more dangerous artifacts from this period were destroyed or buried long ago. Occasionally, however, one of these ancient relics resurfaces in the treasure hoard of some fearsome monster or in the hands of a powerful NPC with links to the ancient past.
Though less powerful than the grand artifacts created by the mages of old, many of these ancient magic items are potent tools in their own right. Some were quite common at the height of the empires that spawned them, but others were rare or unique even then. All are quite rare now, and many historians and sages would pay dearly to examine them.
Many ancient empires, such as Netheril and Cormanthyr, were famed for the variety and inventiveness of their magic items. Many of their more fragile or expendable magic items crumbled to dust after a few decades, but others have proven quite durable. Here are a few sample items from Lost Empires of Faerûn.
Aoxar's Helm: Aoxar, the great dwarf hero of Ammarindar, crafted this open-faced, metal helmet to identify compatriots in dire need on the battlefield so that he could come to their aid. It also enabled him to pass along the dying wishes of the fallen to their families.
The wearer of Aoxar's helm can use deathwatch at will and speak with dead once per day.
Faint necromancy; CL 5th; Craft Wondrous Item; deathwatch,speak with dead; Price 15,400 gp; Weight 3 lb.
Chylnoth's Coronet: Created in the early days of Cormanthyr by an aquatic elf wizard as a gift for his moon elf lover, this narrow circlet of silver is studded with small aquamarines. Mounted at the center is a tiny platinum sea cat with a mane of pure gold.
Chylnoth's coronet functions as a helm of underwater action and allows the wearer to use freedom of movement for up to 1 hour per day, though this time need not be used consecutively. In addition, the sea cat figurine animates on command as though it were a figurine of wondrous power. The sea cat (page 220 of the Monster Manual) can be summoned twice a week and remains for up to 6 hours per use.
Moderate transmutation; CL 11; Craft Wondrous Item, animate object, freedom of movement, water breathing; Price 100,000 gp; Weight 1 lb.
Giiraegisir: These ivory cameos were popular among the wealthy citizens of Myth Drannor at the city's height. Giiraegisirs vary considerably in appearance based on the house of the original owner and the aesthetics of the creator. Each is basically an oval, ivory cameo with a metal pin on the back to secure it to the wearer's clothing. The ivory surface is engraved with some sign or glyph (a house insignia, a portrait of a loved one, or the like), and hidden within the setting (Search DC 20) is a small compartment that can hold an item of up to 2 cubic inches in size.
The cameo is affixed to the setting via a small, sliding track. Pulling the ivory cameo down on its track (a free action) grants the wearer a +5 deflection bonus to AC for 1 minute. This ability can be used once per day for the typical giiraegisir, but a few have a superior version of the effect that allows three uses per day of this function.
Moderate abjuration; CL 10; Craft Wondrous Item, shield of faith; Price 10,800 gp (1/day) or 21,600 gp (3/day).
Faerûn's ancient cultures were filled with magic of great power, so artifacts were much more common than they are in the current day. Here are some sample artifacts from the book:
Elfblades of Cormanthyr: These three legendary swords were forged thousands of years ago when the great empire of Cormanthyr was founded. One of them was forged for the coronal (ruler) of Cormanthyr, one for the arms-major (the chief warrior of the empire), and the third for the spell-major (the empire's chief wizard). All three swords have since been lost -- two around the time of Myth Drannor's fall, and the third many centuries before. Restoring even one of the elfblades to the elves, let alone all three, would earn an adventurer the everlasting friendship and thanks of the residents of the Elven Court -- particularly now that the drow have invaded the very heart of Cormanthor.
All three elfblades insist upon choosing their own wielders. Each has its own criteria for making the choice and punishes unworthy candidates in its own way, but to wield any elfblade, a character must be of good alignment and at least 15th level.
A character wishing to become the wielder of an elfblade must grasp the hilt with the firm intent of bonding with the weapon and draw it from its sheath. Whether successful or not, the attempt costs 2,500 XP. Each weapon's description suggests some guidelines on which it bases its acceptance or rejection of a candidate, but the final decision belongs to the DM. A character deemed unworthy to wield an elfblade is subjected to that weapon's unique form of punishment, as given in its description below.
Upon acceptance by an elfblade,the character becomes attuned to it and can summon it to his hand as a free action, as long as it is somewhere on the same plane. Once an elfblade has bonded with a character, it remains bound until the character's death, or until he commits some grievous sin against either his alignment or the elf people. In such a case, the blade punishes him as though he had failed to bond with it in the first place unless he makes an immediate effort to atone for his sin.
Each of the elfblades shares several properties in common with the others and also has its own set of unique abilities usable only by its chosen wielder. All are +4 holy keen longswords, and all retard the aging process so that the wielder ages only 1 year for every 2 years that pass while he possesses the elfblade.
|The elfblades of Cormanthyr:
the Crownblade, the Warblade,
and the Artblade
The abilities of the Crownblade are described below. The abilities of all three blades are presented in Lost Empires of Faerûn.
Arcor Kerym, the Crownblade: Also called the Ruler's Blade, this sword appears to be made of raw iron and has a pitted and craggy surface. From afar, it looks like a longsword carved from stone. An ancient Elven crown rune is stamped in gold at the seat of the blade, just above the quillions. Arcor Kerym glows with golden light that crackles along its surface like an arc of lightning.
The Crownblade was last seen in 666 DR, when the Srinshee vanished with it after using its potent magic to rebuild the Rule Tower. Scholars believe that the Crownblade was aware of the city's impending fall, so it removed itself and the Srinshee from Faerûn to ensure that it would not fall into the hands of the Army of Darkness. If this theory is correct, Arvandor seems a likely resting place for Arcor Kerym.
In addition to the standard powers of an elfblade, the Crownblade allows its wielder to access the mystical knowledge of three elven high mages, as stored in the three gems that decorate its crossguards and pommel. This influx of knowledge grants the wielder a +10 bonus on all Knowledge (arcana) and Spellcraft checks and a +5 bonus on all other Knowledge checks. In addition, by speaking a command word, the wielder of Arcor Kerym can use heal as the spell three times per day, or discern lies as the spell at will.
Arcor Kerym is the strictest of the elfblades when it comes to evaluating a prospective wielder. The candidate must be of lawful good alignment and must have the good of Cormanthyr and the elf people as his highest priority. In addition, a character who seeks to wield the Crownblade should have high ranks in Diplomacy, Sense Motive, and other social interaction skills.
The penalty for an unworthy character who attempts to bond with Arcor Kerym is as straightforward as it is final -- he is consumed by golden fire, which burns him away to nothingness in 1 round (Fort DC 23 partial; success means the subject takes 40d6 points of damage instead). A character found unworthy and subsequently brought back from the dead still loses the 2,500 XP for attempting the attuning ritual.
Overwhelming evocation; CL 25th; Weight 4 lb.
The Imaskarcana: The seven diverse artifacts collectively known as the Imaskarcana were the mightiest of the magic weapons and devices created by the ancient Imaskari. Two of these items -- the first and the fifth -- reportedly lie buried in the ruins of Inupras, the capital city of the Imaskari Empire. Only the first is described here; the fifth is described in Lost Empires of Faerûn.
|The First and Fifth Imaskarcana
First Imaskarcana: Crafted by an ancient Lord Artificer of Inupras more than nine thousand years ago, the First Imaskarcana is a crudely wrought, crenellated crown forged from a strange, lavender-tinted metal. Though it was created for humans to wear, it also fits snugly when placed on the heads of other Medium humanoids. A blue-black star sapphire about 3 inches in diameter rests squarely at the front of the crown.
The First Imaskarcana quickly became a symbol of the supreme authority wielded by the Imaskari emperors. Lord Artificer Yuvaraj was wearing it when he perished in battle against the manifested god Horus. The artifact is believed to lie deep under the sands in the ruins of Inupras, not far from the imperial palace.
Anyone who wears the First Imaskarcana gains spell resistance 30 and is protected by a spell turning effect that can turn 10 levels of divine magic in a 24-hour period. Once it has reached its capacity, the First Imaskarcana cannot turn spells again for 24 hours.
The First Imaskarcana also holds the collected knowledge of the empire's lord artificers and can answer many questions concerning Imaskari customs, politics, and magic. It does not engage in conversation, however, and offers only the briefest answers to direct questions (+20 bonus on Knowledge [history] checks regarding Imaskar only).
In addition, any wearer of the crown can use the following spell-like abilities: 3/day -- antimagic aura[Mag], improved blink[Una], legend lore (Imaskari items only), greater teleport, true seeing; 1/day -- gate. Caster level 18th.
The crown's spell resistance and spell turning abilities are always active, except as noted above. Any other power must be commanded to function as a standard action. The crown responds only to commands spoken in Roushoum, the ancient language of Imaskar. If a command is issued in any other language, the wearer instantly becomes the target of a feeblemind effect (Will DC 20 negates).
Overwhelming varies; CL 18th; Weight 3 lb.