Forgotten Realms

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Forgotten Realms is a campaign setting for the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy role-playing game, created by author and game designer Ed Greenwood. Commonly referred to as simply "The Realms", it began as his own personal campaign. After making numerous appearances in articles written by Greenwood for TSR's Dragon magazine in the 1970s and 1980s, it was acquired by TSR and turned into a published campaign world; it very quickly became the most popular setting with D&D players. The primary focus of The Realms is the continent of Faerûn, part of the world of Abeir-Toril, an Earth-like planet with many real-world influences.

In the Planescape and Spelljammer settings, The Forgotten Realms is part of a larger universe that also includes Greyhawk and Dragonlance.

  • Moreover, the spheres of Toril, Oerth and Krynn are neighbours in Spelljammer space; in The Wizards Three articles. Elminster, Mordenkainen and Dalamar have parties together... in our world.
  • The Realms are also a major source for darklords and other imported NPCs of the Ravenloft setting.

According to Ed Greenwood himself, the very first FR work is a short story One Comes, Unheralded, to Zirta written back in 1967 (yup, he was 8 years old - that's good reading for you... and Conan). It shows off a few characters who later became iconic. You can read it here.

Series that are set in the Forgotten Realms include:

See also Neverwinter Nights and Baldur's Gate, the two popular computer game series which take place in this setting. The Icewind Dale series, Eye of the Beholder trilogy, the majority of the Gold Box games, and Demon Stone, all also made for the computer, also take place in the titular realm.

Has a character sheet, which is by no means near complete. Also its own wiki (not quite comprehensive either) and "official" fan site (where Word of God usually can be obtained, whether from archives or present writers and game-developers).


Tropes used in Forgotten Realms include:
  • The Alliance - Lords' Alliance on the North-West.
  • Alternative Calendar - The Calendar of Harptos, Elven Rysars...
  • And Man Grew Proud - Most famously Netheril, but also Imaskar and Jhaamdath.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking - The higher levels frequently attributed to individuals in positions of authority.
  • Balance Between Good and Evil - The reason why various evil entities haven't taken over the world, and why various good entities don't control the world.
  • Barbarian Hero: Uthgar Gardolfsson, who raised an army, destroyed a corrupt mageocracy, and united several towns and settlements under his rule. Eventually he was killed in battle against a giant, but he was such a badass that the god of battle, Tempus, raised Uthgar to godhood after his death.
  • Bastard Bastard: An absurd amount of Cormyrean young nobles look embarrassingly alike, due to the attitude and habits of Azoun IV. Some have joined coups, some are loyal to the official Obarskyr line's rule.

the nobles of Cormyr--including the royal Obarskyrs--were notorious for having many bastard offspring. Most of these turnshields, as they were called in polite company, were sent away [...] Some became skilled artisans loyal family retainers, or even "heirs in reserve". But too many became coinless wastrels wandering distant realms as forgotten kin, hating their noble connections and without the means to reap revenge.

Ed Greenwood: Part of my writing goals have been to underscore the following things: "do-gooders" often do more harm than good, for the best of motives (Elaine's also been playing with this one); 'good' to one party is not 'good' to another (the old saying, "for one man to gain freedom, another must lose it"); and the best meddlers are those who can see farthest, not the brute-force-right-now brigade (which is what most PC parties of necessity are, and therefore their punishments/reward are immediate).
One postscript I almost forgot: with Elminster in particular and all of the Chosen, Steven and I (at least) are delving into "how insane do you go from living so long with godly power and gods messing with your mind?" Everything El and the other Chosen do should be read in this light; they're NOT sane. I've been hinting at this for a long time, but you have to catch the hints (like the good/happy endings, this was a Code of Ethics thing, which is why we can't show villains poisoning, or succeeding, or telling you their detailed plans that someone in the real world might copy or claim as inspiration, etc.).

  • Blood Magic - Mostly elven, mostly forgotten, partly forbidden, sometimes suicidal, usually quite impressive. 'Blood Dragon' is a last Stand spell requiring the caster's death that sends at the target a big, nearly unstoppable, flesh-dissolving magical construct. 'Bloodstars' turns seven droplets of the caster's blood into sharp projectiles that explode if they hit and draw blood.
  • Bloodbath Villain Origin: Sammaster.
  • Bottomless Pit: The Underchasm. Which is practically a nation sized hole.
  • Call a Rabbit a Smeerp - Tressym are winged cats; Rothe are a yak-like herd animal, related (presumably) to musk oxen.
  • Cannon Fodder - Orcs, Goblin, et al.
  • Canon Foreigner - The Neverwinter Nights games.
  • Canon Immigrant - A few aspects of the Baldur's Gate and Neverwinter Nights video games becoming official canon.
  • Can't Take Anything with You - The Netheril boxed set rules for time travel placed severe restrictions on bringing items and even spells through time.
  • Captain Ersatz - Not counting pantheons ripped off straight and aside of all fantasy counterpart cultures, "Selûne" = Selene + Luna. (and a circumflex for extra flavor). The Greeks and the Romans should obviously have no complaints here, being ripped off equally.
  • Celestial Bureaucracy - Kara-Tur's Celestial Bureaucracy.
  • Church Militant - paladin orders. Large ones are also much more inclined to slip into Well-Intentioned Extremist routine than individual paladins. Danilo Thann once stated they're nightmare incarnate, though he's not too picky or easily scared, and admires paladins one by one. Several Lawful churches are rather militant themselves. Of course, in case of Tempus followers the warfare is the whole point, but they tend to participate in other people's wars rather than wage their own.
  • City of Adventure - Waterdeep, Baldur's Gate, Neverwinter...
    • As Chansrin (who accompanies the Watch when bored, hoping for a chance to hurl spells) put it, she remains in Scornubel because

All the adventure in Faerun will come to me!

    • Hill's Edge. It sits between the Zhentarim of Darkhold, the Free Traders of Westgate, Lords' Alliance and Harpers' headquarters—as a trade route / weaponsmithing town no one wants to turn it into war zone, but there's a lot of hard kicking under the table, up to High Priestesses of Lliira and Cyric (allied with Harpers and Zhents respectively) waging a cold war for the status of the town's spiritual Queen Bee. The climate is harsh and common local sport is monster-hunting. The net result is that an average guy walking down the street is at least 4th or 5-th level fighter—that's while in Death World of Dark Sun "commoners" had to be tough enough that adventurers start at 3-rd level.
  • Cloak and Dagger - See Gambit Pileup. There's even a Sourcebook named "Cloak and Dagger". Which covers only the most important handful of such groups.
  • Comet of Doom - The "King-Killer Star" (chosen as the trigger for the Dracorage Mythal).
  • Cool Airship - Those famous Halruan skyships.
    • As to the "Cool" part, skyships undoubtedly look great and raise Halruaa's reputation to the skies, but are mostly kept at home for a reason. While their levitation system is a big magocracy's state secret, its manoeuvrability is capped by a magic equivalent of ballast cisterns shown in FR comics and (as Mystara sources point out) sail skyships can't go to the wind without weather control magic, which adds its own limitations. They also are cheaper than a minor helm (which can be slapped on anything and still travel to other planets, but is less reliable in the air), though not by much, especially if you'd throw in a wind-controlling item.
  • Cool but Inefficient - Most folk's opinions on firearms in the Realms.
  • Cool Horse - Never a shortage of this. After all, there are three regions full of horse nomads or semi-nomads plus multiple horse-breeding centers famed over half of the continent.
    • Horse of a Different Color - Drow ride wall-climbing raptor-like lizards, duergar ride spiders, Far Hills dwarves ride giant bats, sea elves ride giant seahorses, some humans ride hippogriffs or griffons, Shadovar ride vaserabs (lean and mean pterosaur-worm-things). Then there are more rare variants, such as dire wolves. On the Great Glacier, one tribe has remorhaz cavalry. Unique cases cover just about everything capable of carrying a humanoid.
    • Sapient Steed - Pegasi, Asperii, Nightmares, elven Moon-horse (teu'kelytha).
  • The Commandments - It's unreasonable to expect common standards for a boiling pot of imported, adopted and emerging cultures following several pantheons. At least paladins generally agree on "Paladin's Virtues" from Quentin's Monograph, though they differ in priorities and interpretations.
  • Corpse Land: The "Battle of Bones" area, named after an event that changed it forever. Due to drought and expanding Anauroch desert, a lot of goblinoids (more than a quarter million combatants) had to migrate, humans and allies (more than half of that) were determined to stop them in a convenient pass and much slaughter ensued.
  • Corrupt Church - Selûne's church in Memnon.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive - Merchants band together all the time, openly or secretly, and as often as not don't care much whether they act decently, or even legally. So merchant cabals include mafia-like ones like Men of the Basilisk, or Rundeen who set pirates against their rivals and dabble in slave-trade.

Ed Greenwood: It has been said that most merchants die not of lawbreaking or lack of coin but of running afoul of a cabal--one they belong to, two or more they belong to that end up having conflicting aims or activities, or just one they happen to be in the way of.

    • Volo's Guide to the North mentions that the Kraken Society started as one of such cabals. Slarkrethel (the eponymous kraken) with his illithid and aboleth allies took over and expanded the organisation later, turning it into the infamous nest of knowledge brokerage, extortion and assassination it became.

75According to Elminster, one of the founding reasons for the Kraken Society was the need of the bargewrights for constant employment. For years, certain agents of the merchants of Yartar have carried on a practice of destroying barges up and down the Three Rivers. They'd do their work at night, leaving orc bodies or weapons to suggest that the deed was done by raiders.

    • Then there are groups such as Iron Throne or Knights of The Shield that outwardly (and even for their own low-ranking members) look like "yet another tough merchant cabal", but on the inside are more fiendish. Sometimes, literally.
  • The Corruption: Averted with the Spellplague. It's just Toxic Phlebotinum that can be used for good or evil.
  • Cut Lex Luthor a Check - Thay has Researcher and Imperialist parties. Imperialists prevailed and led conquests, constantly failing mainly because everyone knows this is what they're trying to do and are constantly on guard against them. After several failed campaigns, the Imperialists' charismatic leader got disillusioned and switched sides, another affiliated zulkir was slain (The Simbul's Gift), and Researchers with their notion that war's bad for business naturally won. Red Wizards of Thay started selling them magic items. Not only making scads of cash, but making the other nations dependent on them.
    • A few Red dragons more greedy than aggressive use their iconic Breath Weapon to get long contracts as living furnaces. They constantly receive quality food, trickle of gold into the hoard (which given dragons' life expectancy adds up to a decent pile) and at least some awe—and not only risk-free, but with extra protection for the lair.
  • Dark Is Not Evil - Realms has a lot of Undead, including new ones. But since "negative energy" (un-life force) is a primal force much like elements, Undead as such aren't obliged to be Stupid Evil. Lords of Darkness has a reminder:

But vampires have helped travelers and battlefield survivors. Liches have trained, advised, or chatted amiably with adventurers. Skeletons have marched out of crypts in besieged cities to snatch up children -- their descendants -- and bear them to safety. The great paladin Ralgorax, the "Sword of Tyr"...

  • Dead-Man Switch: Setting various contingency spells to one's death is such an obvious solution that there's a special kind of undead ('Blazing Bones') created when a spellcaster protected with such magics is killed by fire while casting something. Also, dragon magic includes 'Death Matrix' spell, which does nothing until the dragon is dead, then explodes in an inferno of scales, bones, flesh and dragonbreath—oh, and it's unaffected by normal dispel.
  • Death World - Some of the outer planes, especially places like the Abyss, the Barrens of Doom and Despair, and so forth. Changed in 4E.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu? - The various deicides that have happened over the settings history.
    • One can take divine rank by deicide, but it's assumed that this very act requires a help of another deity (e.g. Finder was presumably sponsored by Tymora) in normal situations. In the Time of Troubles gods presumably could be killed by mortals on their own, but the deaths of Bhaal and Myrkul involved powers of Mask and Mystra respectively, and ascension explicitly involved an affirmation by Ao after the deed.
  • Divine Ranks - Literally called that in game materials, but mortals in the world aren't really aware of them, nor does it matter much.
  • The Dreaded: The Simbul, aka Witch-Queen of Aglarond aka Scourge of Thay used to cause mindless panic in Red Wizards' ranks, due to a tendency towards killing them. Zhentarim weren't in that much of a trouble but eventually came up with curse "go hunt Elminster" after tried enough that even they learned how this usually ends.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him - The fates of multiple nations and even a continent in the transition to 4E.
  • Eldritch Abomination - A few local monsters are borderline cases. Phaerimm, parasitic "spell-grubs". Sharn - even weirder, but mostly benign ones, trying to keep Phaerimm in check (and sealed them to begin with), usually don't mess with anyone else even if invited to and repay if they think they owe to someone.
  • The End of the World as We Know It - The Spellplague, the Applied Phlebotinum excuse for the 4th Edition changes.
    • Also the Time of Troubles, which was the excuse for the AD&D 2nd edition changes back in the day.
  • Enemy Civil War - The Zhents hate the Netherese (Shade), Cyric hates Bane, The Red Wizards hate both (not to mention each other), and the Netherese hate everyone. Cult of the Dragon raids Zhents, who retaliate. Applies to most Underdark denizens as well, especially phaerimm. Who also hate Netherese. And this feeling is reciprocated.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Followers of the deity Malar, who hunt people For the Evulz, are forbidden to kill the young and pregnant.
  • Evilutionary Biologist: The Order of Blue Fire. While they claim to be a support group for the spellscarred, they actually want to send the Spellplague back into full bore, thus spellscarring everything and everyone. Interestingly, they aren't inherently evil, and in fact are often good.
  • Eyes of Gold - A rare drow feature, notable but not dominant in Baenre (first house of Menzoberranzan).
  • The Fair Folk - Distant and historical in 1st-3rd Editions. A prominent part of the planes in 4th.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture - most of them.
    • Explicitly, if very obscurely, averted for Unther and Mulhorand, who (before the Spellplague, anyway) looked like blatant counterparts to Mesopotamia and Egypt... but they are the descendants of slaves taken from another world, and buried in all the still technically canonical fluff the setting has acquired over the years is a confirmation that that world was Earth.
  • Fantastic Drug - The "cheeeese". Works only on halflings—for everyone else it looks, smells and tastes like an extremely disgusting cheese, but that's all. Appeared in a Very Special Episode of FR Comics, where Foxy who was hooked on it before thought he can afford to taste a small piece once. And passed out for most of the issue in a mix of out-of-body experience, flashbacks and horrid hallucinations, ending with a comforting sermon from their recently recovered alcoholic paladin.
    • Aurora's Whole Realms Catalogue offers (with limitations) Luiren Spring Cheese, a mild version that has effect "similar to strong wine" on halflings and is eaten as "aperitif" (no strong intoxication or side effects from doses below 0.5 lb). And apparently less repulsive to humans - at least, can be made palatable in right recipes.
  • Fantastic Racism - some humans are inclined to it; many powerful species deem everyone else inferior; but in pure xenophobia elves beat everyone around more often than not. Theirs is the "honor" of forming both the church of Shevarash dedicated mostly to hatred of the Drow and Eldreth Veluuthra—an elf supremacist group dedicated to the proposition that humans are vermin to be eradicated from Faerûn. Of course, there was also the Elite Guard—Gold Elves who deem even Moon Elves inherently unworthy... Still, the Black Archer's followers sometimes work with non-elves, Eldreth Veluuthra sometimes work with Drow (some Vhaeraunites), and the assassination of King Zaor greatly ashamed most Gold elves.
    • Shevarash himself, on the one hand, preaches hatred, but on the other, has the clear purpose of proactively defending elves from their archenemies (unless or until Shar will succeed in corrupting him, that is). He expanded the list to illithids and more; conversely, he's in peace (if uneasy) with Eilistraee. Of course, just how much this affects their followers in the field is an open question: obviously, the prime reason to become a "drow-hunter" is indiscriminate vengeance, the oath sounds simply "until the last drow is dead", and Sword Dancers tend to be converted Lolthites—even more flinchy than before and for all their good intentions not half as nice as they'd like to be (The Seven Sisters and Silverfall shows this side).
    • The Drow are just as haughty, but mostly hate everyone equally (except holy/unholy wars) starting with their kin; due to their extreme pragmatism, traders work fine with humans, illithids, duergars, deep gnomes or whatever.
    • The Golden Dwarves of the East Rift believe themselves to be superior to most races, even other dwarves, and look down particularly on creatures of an abhorrent origin. They however possess a very positive opinion of humans, impressed by the role they have carved into the world for themselves.
  • Fantastic Rank System: The Cormyrean "Purple Dragons" (standing army) have their own system.
  • Fantasy Kitchen Sink - "Everything" has a place in the Forgotten Realms.
  • Fantasy World Map - Much better than most.
  • Fictional Document - at least Volo's guides and Aurora's Whole Realms Catalogue are supposed to be actual books printed in the Realms. Some others, like Elminster's Ecologies, are based on in-world texts to a lesser degree.
    • "Quentin's Monograph" (a treatise on the nature of alignment and paladinhood by a retired paladin), known only in excerpts.
  • Floating Continent - Lots of them in the 4th Edition "reimagining", termed "earthmotes".
  • Forever War - The Blood War.
    • Until it ended.
  • Functional Magic
  • Gambit Pileup - whole organizations like the Cult of the Dragon, Zhentarim, Red Wizards and suchlike all try to snake or claw their way to top via large-scale schemes, which practically ensures they clash with each other when least expected. Word of God states that sometimes Zhents rolled their Idiot Ball due to being used as Unwitting Pawns by Thay and Malaugrim.
  • Gender Bender: There are spells for that. Also, Mystra had young Elminster walk as "Elmara" for some years and

Ed Greenwood: "One cannot truly feel the Divine Dance of Eilistraee PROPERLY except as a female, and so her (still very rare, few, and generally secretive about it) male priests must spend some time as a female (not just for the duration of a ritual, but they must do some everyday living as a female)."

  • Getting Crap Past the Radar - There sure were a lot of brothe- er, festhalls, filled with pretty prosti- er, dancing girls in the 2nd Edition Realms.
    • "Festhalls" is a catch-all category, not limited to "lowcoin lasses", but covering a wide range of entertainment. Some are called "nightclub" in the lore, but generally this would be a misnomer, if only because they're not always limited by time of day. Typically it combines "escorts" with rooms, dancing scene (not necessarily of the sort they couldn't do on the street) and restaurant, but may lack any of these and act as anything between plain brothel, love hotel[1], matchmaking service, beauty parlor (visiting a "festhall" just for barber or massage is fairly common), wannabe-high-society[2] club, and concert hall. Though rooms+meals+massage house or a "trysting place" that only rents rooms still fall under "inns". So yes, it's one of those cases when censorship makes the authors think some more:

Jeff Grubb: I contributed Festhalls to the Realms. Ed’s original city maps had a high population of brothels, which made them inadvisable to publish. Our choices were rename them or rekey all the maps. I came up with the festhall name, which by definition spread out to handle a multitude of sins (feasts of both foods and flesh, and a bit of day spa added as well).

  • God - Ao's boss makes His only appearance thus far in the Avatar Trilogy.
  • God-Emperor - The God-Kings of Mulhorand.
  • God's Hands Are Tied - Gods cannot act against their portfolio at all (Oghma in Avatars cycle stood on a razor-edge when he hid a location of the pile of misinformation and Mystril presumably was unable to prevent the casting of Karsus's Avatar), and the rules limit them even in withholding their boons.
    • Gods play by the rules, understanding that breaking them is ultimately to everyone's detriment. With a few exceptions like Cyric—which is why he's called mad, after all.
    • The original Mystryl was Chaotic Neutral, her successor Mystra was Lawful Neutral, then she was killed by another god and replaced with a Neutral Good mortal who ascended to her office and found the hard way she's bound by the same rules. So she allows everyone equal acess to the "weave" (which controls magic) she controls, including those of 'Evil' alignment.
      • Contrasting with the Shadow Weave, where people who attempt to use it without worshiping the controling goddess usually go insane.
    • Gods Need Prayer Badly - The powers of deities are partially dependent on the followers they have.
    • God Is Evil - Every god (Even the "good" ones) forced Kelemvor to return to holding the souls of every single mortal creature hostage in order to keep their power intact (see one above).
      • So, having a survival instinct makes gods evil?
      • Kelemvor tried to claim all petitioners without patron "his by default"—as Walinda noted (Finder's Bane), outside of an united pantheon it wrecks the power balance. He didn't propose other variants not involving the Wall.
  • Good Guy Bar - The World Serpent Inn mentioned in several sourcebooks was built in its own demiplane by an archmage from Toril, Arcane and Illithid as a neutral ground when Sigil turned out to be too violent and inconvenient for quiet business and rest. Not only is it connected to many worlds, but is accessible to powers, and some gods visit it to relax and chat with creatures they deem interesting. It's a Good Guy Bar since no one wants to annoy peacefully grazing deities, and some clients in a common room can turn out to be gods on a tea-break. And even if there aren't any, The Bartender is an avatar himself—if some god just likes to meet new people and thinks it's funny, why not?
  • Good Witch Versus Bad Witch - The Witches of Rashemen: The Hathran and the Durthran.
  • Gotterdammerung - Also known as "Karsus's Folly", the only incident of reaching godhood through the spellcasting. While borrowing the divine status from a deity doesn't look like a safe endeavour as it is, the guy's worst mistake was choosing the goddess of magic, which left her choice of killing them both immediately or dying together a bit later and leaving the world without useable magic at all. Thus most powerful magic became impossible or dangerous to use and The Magocracy Karsus tried to save was utterly destroyed.
  • Half-Human Hybrid - Too many to list, most prominently half-elves and half-orcs.
  • Hate Plague - Dracorage.
  • Hero Secret Service - Harpers are generic meddlers, but there are also personal hero-centric organisations, like Moonstars (Khelben "Blackstaff" Arunsun, Mystra's Chosen) and Soft Claws (Zundaerazylym "the Laughing Wyrm", ancient steel dragon).
  • Hero with Bad Publicity - Due to his killing of Mystra in the Time of Troubles—which made too many dead-magic and wild-magic areas—Helm isn't as popular as he used to be. The work of some of his followers hasn't helped his image either.
  • Hidden Elf Village - Evermeet, Evereska. Cormanthor before it became Myth Drannor.
  • High Fantasy
  • Hobbits - The Halflings of Lurien.
  • Holy City: Generally, places visited by the gods during Times of Troubles became holy sites of their followers. There are more traditional places of worship, though:
    • Skuld where residences of Mulhorandi pantheon's manifestations are located. Menzoberranzan, the sacred city of Lloth/Lolth from the start (named after her prophet and the city's founder Menzoberra the Kinless). Athkatla is a pilgrimage site for followers of Waukeen—itself being nicknamed "the City of Coin" and it's marketplace (the size of a good stadium and providing nearly anything) called "Waukeen's Promenade".
  • Honor Before Reason: Taken to a divine level in "The Trial of Cyric the Mad". Cyric is put on trial and threatened with destruction because his insanity makes him a threat to the stability of the pantheon. He makes no secret of the fact that he intends to have the Cyrinishad read into evidence. The Cyrinishad is a book of epic propaganda telling the highly-sanitized story of Cyric's mortal life, enchanted by Cyric himself to brainwash anyone who hears its words from start to finish one of his worshippers, even gods. The pantheon's greater gods serve as Cyric's jury and would have no choice but to hear the Cyrinishad if he introduces it, and so pull out all the stops to keep the book hidden from his worshippers. They fail. Thus, when Cyric's most worthy follower shows up at the trial with the book, all Heaven and Hell break loose, with half the gods ready to destroy the mortal and each other before being bound to Cyric's will. Tyr, God of Justice and the trial's judge, forbids them to interfere. To his reasoning, Cyric faces death and has the right to present any evidence he may to prove his innocence; to him, a pantheon of brainwashed deities bound in service to a Mad God is a small price to pay to avoid violating the sanctity of his trial.
  • Improbable Species Compatibility - Humans, Elves and Dragons being able to reproduce with just about anything.
  • Hybrid Monster - Fey'ri.
  • In Name Only - Many 2e sourcebooks, that had 'Forgotten Realms' on the cover, but weren't very setting-specific or relevant.
  • Irrevocable Order: Happened in Elfsong -- Elaith politely informed the would-be victim that he changed his mind on the issue, but the executing agency isn't confirmed to be called off. And then thought a little more and chose to fight the hitmen he sent. He's funny like this sometimes.
  • The Juggernaut - Tarrasque.
  • Kudzu Plot - So many plot lines that were mentioned and alluded to over the course of the years never materialize into anything. Roleplaying purpose and Shared Universe nature of setting add up to this. The same for interesting secondary characters—see also Characters As Device—whether authors want it to be this way or not.

Elminster: And now, look ye, that rascal, rogue, and jackanapes Ed of the Greenwood's been at it again--passing on precious lore (words I spoke in confidence, mind ye) to folk at TSR, who've promptly published it for all to view. Has he no shame? (Pages from the Mages, introduction)

  • Living Shadow - even aside of standard D&D undead, and transformation spells. Some (mostly shadow mages) get infused with essence of Demiplane of Shadows as a comfortable form of semi-undeath. Advanced shadow magic can be used to animate one's shadow as an independent sentient creature (and usually promptly make it less independent). Shadow is defined as "it is what you aren't" and remembers everything it could see during the life of those who cast them, so they tend to be personal Nightmare Fuel for "owners". When Melegaunt Tanthul had to do it, spell's subject wasn't happy at all, even though his shadow was rather good guy.
  • Loads and Loads of Races - Played straight, even though most of the rarer ones are geographical isolates, no one—including a sage—shows any strong reactions when the first saurial appears. Mindulgulph Mercenary Company alone recruited anything capable of working for reward from grippli and kenku to treants and beholders to thri-kreen and loxo.
    • Shaar has Loxo—humanoid elephants with two trunks. Thri-kreen live there too, supposedly also on Anchorome continent and a few colonies elsewhere, reaching near Phlan.
  • Lost Colony - Shade was an evil one of these, to the Empire of Netheril
  • Lost Technology - Mostly lost Magitek. The Imaskari Empire, the Netherese Empire, Ancient Elven Empires...
  • Luck Manipulation Mechanic: During 2nd Edition certain clerics of Tymora, the goddess of luck, have the granted power to re-roll a die once per day. Similarly some clerics of Beshaba, goddess of misfortune, have the ability to force enemies to re-roll their dice.
  • Mad God - Cyric.
  • Magic Dance - Variant magic users known as Spellsingers (AD&D2 Wizards and Rogues of the Realms) or Spelldancers (D&D3 Magic of Faerûn, toned down version) practice long elaborate dances istead of brief Magical Gestures, which allows to get around Vancian Magic limitations. Circle Dance/Circle Charm spell.
  • Magic Knight - Elven Bladesingers, Eagle Knight and Jaguar Knight of Maztica.
  • The Magocracy - Both Thay and Halruaa (until it exploded) were these. Netheril before them. Rashemen (de facto - the Iron Lord is chosen by the Witches). Athalantar, transiently (though technically they still had a Puppet King). Of city-states, Silverymoon was ruled by High Mages from the moment it became a city (except one military coup, and one regency), Sshamath, after removing the theocracy.
  • Mayincatec: Maztica. (Even the name!)
  • Medieval European Fantasy - The Sword Coast (more or less) and Impiltur; the rest of the setting is much less so.
  • Medieval Stasis - Somewhat averted, (until 4th Edition). There's a literal god of technology and invention, and the setting was really more early Renaissance than medieval. And then they blew it up, ignoring this element in favor of floating islands.
    • There was Netheril trilogy and campaign lo-o-ong ago. It has flying enclaves and Magitek; it just wasn't mixed with "modern" Realms.
    • The world might have been on the verge of discovering gunpowder, but it had been in the technological equivalent of the Middle Ages for well over several millennia already (the first elven kingdoms were established more than twelve millennia before the Age of Humanity), so Medieval Stasis still applies. Cultures changed, which is a partial aversion, but that's that about it.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters - Bhaal creating Owlbears and Perytons.
  • Moral Guardians - The Zhentarim and occasionally other evil organizations began to be portrayed as Keystone Kops, at times, because evil was not allowed to prevail.
  • Mordor - Thay (though the worst part is ruled by the nicest of them), Zhentil Keep... Played with in Netheril's case—Phaerimm reduced the entire region was an incredibly harsh magic-blighted desert. Now that the ensemble Big Bad Princes of Shade came along, it's quickly grown back to warm, temperate grasslands and forests.
  • Multilayer Facade - According to Volo’s Guide to All Things Magical,

Several well-known mages in cities up and down the Sword Coast sell complex spell disguises (for 1,000 gp per layer, with the simplest having eight layers and most running to at least double that) for use by wizards who dare not attend a Mage Fair as themselves. (Wizards of any age or accomplishment seem to acquire enemies, or at least unscrupulous rivals, as easily as most of us breathe.)

  • Musical Assassin - banshee, harpia, some monstrous cricket (in Elfsong)...
  • Music for Courage - what bards are supposed to do.
  • The Necrocracy - Skullport, named after its unusual rulers -- flying skulls. Also, Thay as of 4E after the takeover by the lich Szass Tam, its long-time Zulkir of Necromancy.
  • No Biochemical Barriers - As for diseases, sometimes played straight, but should be averted by in-depth DM's. For instance, and while there are some pandemics that affect things along the lines of "all mammals", there are plenty of specific, endemic diseases.
    • Canonically, many poisons are selective. Varrakas and orvas affects all mammals. Huld works on non-humanoids, and even then with exclusions. Some poisons don't affect dwarves, but there's "Dwarfbane". Witchweed only affects arcane casters.
    • Also, cheeeese is halflings-only.
    • From Ed Greenwood's answers: most critters are immune to rabies, but some of them still can be carriers, 'which is why human lore insists orc and goblin bites “carry poison”'.
    • In a novel, one idealistic lady tried "humans but not elves" substance on a wrong target, though by this time she could get more wise to his little quirk (Chosen of Mystra are immune to poisons)... if she'd bothered with data acquisition for merely "unwashed human beast".

Lady Laurlaethee Shaurlanglar: ...That moonwine you drained oh so elegantly was laced with enough srindym to kill a dozen overambitious human magelings.
Elminster Aumar: Well, that's certainly blunt enough. Being a thirsty beast - and one of course quite devoid of proper manners, I wonder if I might have some more of this excellent wine. I believe the srindym improves it somewhat.

Ilsensine: There are so many gods worshiped in that world it's hard to keep track of them all. We wouldn't be surprised to find they have a god there with dominion over the tableware and ale mugs. (Finder's Bane)

    • Especially since...

Ed Greenwood: ALWAYS remember that except for fanatics, clergy, or the oppressed (such as, many drow in cities dominated by Lolth-worship), all intelligent beings in the Realms worship - if only in appeasement - many deities.

  • Oh My Gods - "By Mystra's Lost Spell!". "Mask and mother-bitching Tymora, they ARE real!". Time of Troubles added "By the first Mystra and the second".
  • Older Is Better - varies: sometimes you get a Flawed Prototype. E.g. some protective magical rings from Myth Drannor were prone to explosive overloading. Netherese magic was (and what remained, is) very powerful, but mostly very crude and straightforward.
  • Only the Chosen May Wield - meets Comes Great Responsibility in blade-rite, most famously Elfblades (used as regalia of office, and as such made with powers and curses tailored for each position) and Moonblades (made to choose the future royal clan).
  • Our Orcs Are Different - In addition to the standard barbaric mountain orcs, the Realms is also home to two other subraces, the highly spiritual (but equally savage) gray orcs and the more powerful and advanced subterranean deep orcs (also known as orogs), who are basically a race of Elite Mooks.
  • Physical God - One of the most common tropes of the setting. This is literally true during the Time of Troubles.
  • Pirate - Whenever salt water is in sight. With larger-than-life Hrolf 'the Unruly' from Starlight and Shadows trilogy on top. Lots of 'em in The Threat from the Sea trilogy.
  • Portal Network - Extensive, though not open for public. There are even a series of articles each describing a group of such gates in several parts. And a stable Ethereal pathways network.
  • Portal to the Past - Three are exactly three of these, and all are closely watched by the elven Knights Paradoxical, as well as the deities of magic.
  • Power Tattoo - Mainly used by the Red Wizards of Thay.
  • Praetorian Guard - The Purple Dragons of Cormyr.
  • Precursors - The Imaskari, the Netherese, Ancient Elven Empires... The Imaskari and Netherese are back and active again come 4E.
    • Recursive Precursors - Before that, the dragons ruled Toril, and before them there were so-called Creator Races.
  • Pride Before a Fall: Netherese arcanists' arrogance was so huge they beleived deities are merely very tricky mages whose "secret" can be discovered. Most archwizards refused to receive healing by divine magic out of fear that gods may slip there something that would deprive them of their own chance at godhood. Naturally, this stupidity helped a lot of arcanists to die early, but the only one who did manage to temporarily become a god through spellcasting wasn't so optimistic.
    • As a less important noble (!) in Cormanthor described the situation in elven civilization before its fall--

Lady Evendusk: we'd better work as hard as we can to see that Eltargrim is still our Coronal, and not [...] one of the oh-so-noble sons of our three highest houses. They may consider humans and the like no better than snakes and ground-slugs, but they look upon the rest of us elven Cormanthans as no better than cattle.

  • Private Military Contractors - Oh, yes. There was a chapter on them in the old boxed set and even a separate supplement for 2nd edition, Gold and Glory.[3]
    • The biggest—1600 members, once before Time of Troubles 2000 (!)--is Flaming Fist company which doubles as Baldur's Gate's standing army. Not that there were operations big enough to force it to choose priorities. They sent 300 to Horde Wars, then some to kick pirates' asses, and there was still more than enough of them at home to not give anyone a false hope.
  • Religion of Evil - Bane, Bhaal, Cyric, Shar, Iyachtu Xvim et al.
  • Retcon - All unexplained continuity differences between editions.
  • Saintly Church - Torm, Bahamut, et al.
  • Sand Worm - Purple worms and related creatures; you probably don't want to waltz through the Raurin Desert for a weekend picnic.
  • Screw You, Elves - Realms' elves tend to be either xenophobic Noble Savages or the sad relicts of a great culture that fell past the decadence more than a thousand years ago (a lot of bitterness ensues) and mostly act on the defensive. Of course, in their time they did many great deeds - not all of which they would care to advertise—but now they have more of haughty show than any real actions or abilities (going to weave a new mythal, anyone?).
  • Shared Universe - Over the years, multiple designers and authors have come and gone, all of them leaving some kind of mark on the setting, for good or for ill.
  • Side-Story Bonus Art - "Wizards Three" articles, spin-a-yarn stories.
  • Silver Has Mystic Powers: Silver is the metal most associated with and suitable for magic. Magic items that involve moon-related magics, electricity/lightning and energy discharges (e.g. Magic Missile) will automatically make all saving throws related to item creation magic if they're 60% (or more) silver by weight.
  • Soul Jar - Liches are masters of this sort of thing.
  • Spell My Name with a "The" - "The Simbul" is sort of honorific after the name of long-forgotten goddess, but she was called that way long enough that very few living people know even the first fact, let alone who "Alassra Shentrantra" is.
    • "The Sibilant Shade" or "the Voice in the Shadows", who loves her anonimity.
  • Split At Birth - Tymora and Beshaba were "born" when Selûne sundered Tyche tainted by Moander.
  • Stairway to Heaven - The Celestial Stairs.
  • Stripperiffic - This is actually reconstructed by drow society! It's common for drow girls to expose a lot of skin due to Fan Service, but considering most females in drow society can protect themselves with magic, wearing a sexy outfit is akin to announcing your spellcasting ability and confidence. This is actually mentioned in The Drow of the Underdark.
  • Super Registration Act - "All mages of 5th or greater level who enter Cormyr must register before the next sundown with a king's herald, a local lord, or at the Court. Once on the rolls, they're welcome at meetings of the Council of Mages."
    • This being a highly magical setting, a law not applicable to all priests, adepts of the Invisible Art, people who just got a nifty magic item and so on doesn't instill order too much. But it does: a) help to compile lists of Cormyrean resident mages so that the War Wizard recruiters (or draft notices) know where to go, and b) gives an extra measure of control on adventuring parties, because any of them that didn't stop to register their wizard can be kept in town simply by arresting their arcane caster and forcing the rest to either abandon him or pay his bail.
  • The Syndicate - The Zhentarim, The Twisted Rune, The Knights of the Shield, Iron Throne et al.
  • Time Abyss - lots of people outlived everyone and everything they saw, several times. Honorary prize goes to Labelas Enoreth, elven god of time who detached from the living so much that when forced to incarnate during Time of Troubles he gone mad. Top prize goes to The Srinshee—elven guardian ex-undead who was already ancient in "reasonably ancient" times and knew a tale of every little trinket in the whole cave complex stuffed with piles of these. Consolation prize goes to Elminster, though even some living humans are older by thousand years or so—in a bad mood, time catches up with him in every other phrase:

I'll be all right. Stop soaking my robes with tears, look ye! They cost me three silver pieces, they did, in -- ... Well, in a place gone now. (Shadows of Doom)

  • Too Much for Man to Handle - Dragonmagic is said to involve channeling enough power to instantly kill several times over any little two-legged creature trying to do the same. Elven High Magic is likewise inherently inaccessible for anyone else. Karsus' inability to work as the guardian of the Weave even for few seconds proved that either it's a female-only position, one needs to ascend normally, or both.
  • Toxic Phlebotinum - the Shadow Weave magic.
  • Transplanted Humans - It's implied (the "Forgotten" part refers to from Earth's standpoint) that the Mulhorandi and Utheric peoples are descended from Egyptian and Mesopotamian people the Imaskari "forcibly" imported, umpteen-thousand years ago.
  • Truce Zone - Some trade cities. Ravens Bluff was an interplanar trade center and though most gates are closed long ago, it was shaped into current form and steered behind the scene by an archpriestess of Waukeen—the net result is that even drow (though not aarakocra, strangely) usually can walk openly without troubles. Skullport, a Wretched Hive ruled by spell-hurling flying skulls whom no one wants to annoy, not that provoking any local power group was safe. Sshamath, the city where one tavern has enchanted floors for unusual guests - such as fire-dwelling ones; knowledge that the city's choke-full of drow wizards who don't like disruptions in their trade seems to prevent most troubles.
    • Ravens Bluff was the setting of the Living City campaign (The first Living-style campaign from the RPGA) and lots of weird PC races were allowed as special characters.
  • Up to Eleven - The Arcane Age. Magic wasn't bound by Vancian rules and the maximum spell level instead of 9 was, well, 11 (there was 12-level spell cast once, but that being Karsus's Avatar, they would be better off without this one).
    • To elaborate, Karsus, with that single spell, took control of the Weave and became the new god of magic for a few minutes. If the former goddess of magic, Mystryl, hadn't sacrificed herself, the Weave would have been utterly destroyed.
  • The Virus: Special mention to The Spellplague. If you catch it, you either die, mutate horribly ("Plaguechanged"), or get a nifty little blue tatoo that lets you use special magic, known as a "Spellscar". Some even go on a trip specifically to get infected, and there's a Cult based around the tatoos.
  • Weaksauce Weakness - A horrible magic-eating monster known as a Nilshai can be utterly killed with a few large handfuls of table salt.
  • Weird Science - The laws of physics on Abeir-Toril work differently than those on Earth.
  • Wizard Duel - happens all the time. Also, via specific ritual wizards can prepare a screened arena for "Mageduel", which allows them to fight without holding back, killing each other or restructuring the landscape in process. It's introduced and protected from meddling by relevant deities, as some one-upmanship helps overall magical development, while the death of wizards obviously doesn't... and it makes an enticing show when it's safe for bystanders.
  • Word of God - Rich Baker, Ed Greenwood, and others, posting on various messageboards.
  • Wretched Hive - meets Not-So-Safe Harbor in Skullport (Truce Zone oblivious to concepts like "contraband" or "piracy", with a lot of street crime), Westgate (trade port and pirate haven nearly dominated by Night Masks thieves), Zhentil Keep and some other Moonsea cities.
  • Year Inside, Hour Outside - True on some planes and demi-planes.
  • You Kill It, You Bought It - Aside of taking minimum divine status via deicide, title and powers of defeated Magister are transferred to the winner. Safe mageduel is allowed, but usually such battles are to the death. Traditionally, ambushes without a proper challenge and even mistakes count, unacceptable candidates being simply killed off by the next claimant. Up to "The Night of Fourteen Magisters" (former Magister Almer, Zunroun and nine of dozen of his clones at once, his treacherous apprentice, tavern's emergency mage, his treacherous apprentice). Later this was amended, but Magister's life didn't become much safer.
    • Finder Wyvernspur managed to become a demigod after defeating Moander, God of Decay. Unfortunately for him, becoming a god by defeating one means taking on that god's portfolios. Since he was Chaotic Good, he dropped all of Moander's evil-based domains, which left him with dominion over...rot. Yippie. He managed to parlay this into change and renewal of art and music, an exceptionally narrow portfolio that has left him with a grand total of two clerics and maybe a hundred lay worshippers, most of whom he assisted when he was mortal and thus worship him more out of thanks than any real devotion to his principles. Along with the lack of a fanbase, his portfolio is constantly being nibbled at by other deities, even good ones like Lathander, who has dominion over rebirth in a more general sense and wants to make Finder subservient to him or downright steal his portfolio entirely. On the plus side, he managed to score Fizban as an even-more-divine mentor, so good for him.

The specific stories and accesories contain the following tropes[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: Many, many examples.
  • Affably Evil - Jarlaxle. The kind of acceptance Drizzt took several decades of good deeds and angst to accomplish, Jarlaxle can reach in about five minutes because of how much of a nice guy he comes across as. In the Sellsword Trilogy, he manages to win over a bar full of semi-xenophobic mercenaries with his wit and charm. Those who don't approve of his Exclusively Evil ancestry, he manipulates into starting a fight that gets them thrown out. Although to be fair, Drizzt had done some societal trailbreaking for Jarlaxle. Not in that area, the mercenaries say they've never heard of Drizzt before.
    • Lauzoril, Zulkir of Enchantment.
    • The city of Sshamath—they still venerate Dark Seldarine, though not exclusively, resolve personal matters via bloody vengeance and apparently still have very deadly rivalries. But their Conclave (which includes a drow vampire) works toward greater cooperation between various interests and power groups. They did half-abolish slavery and generally are trying to be as nice as they can—in the name of large-scale magical development, trade and prosperity. And are much less xenophobic than the theocratic drow... or most surface elves.
  • A God Am I - Many Netherese archwizards gone beyond Flat Earth Atheist state into belief that the whole godhood thing is a conspiracy of uber-mages who found some secret. They hoped to get the same one day, and fearing tricks that could prevent them from this, even refused to receive healing spells - with predictable results. Karsus has a more sane view on the divinity, which is why he managed to become the only man who did achieve godhood via spellcasting. For a minute or so. Not that he didn't immediately regret this very much.
  • Agony Beam - Nybor's line of pain spells (Gentle Reminder / Mild Admonishment / Stern Reproof / Wrathful Castigation).
  • Animated Tattoo - One of the splatbooks provides rules for Living Tattoos.
  • Anti-Hero - Erevis Cale.
  • Anti-Villain - Artemis Entreri
    • Obould Many-Arrows
    • Prince Rivalen and Price Brennus.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil - What noble family of Cormyr has not been portrayed in a negative light?
    • Completely, few if any, but occasionally, everyone save Obarskyr... oh, wait, Boldovar. No save, crush damage.
    • Waterdhavian nobles are just as prone to "nobility decay" and even less law-abiding: lots of them are or were smugglers at best and slave-traders at worst.
    • Doesn't really affect Dark Elves. While Drow nobles are indeed vicious and cruel, commoners are usually just as evil and only lack the power and resources to cause as much damage.
      • Still ones from the merchant clans are safer to their own and partners than ones from the noble houses. And it seems that lower-status drow are more likely to form stable teams and save each other (making a sport of it) even if they are just as eager to claw their way up. By necessity, of course—there are group survival situations, reputation bites in the ass, Better the Devil You Know, and all that. Nobles just have worse prospects of alliances and can afford to be complete jerks.
  • Artifact of Doom - The Crown of Horns, Crenshinibon (The Crystal Shard), Cyrinishad, Kezefbane...
  • Automaton Horses - Not a common aspect, but one NPC in the book Power of Faerûn has one.
  • Backstab Backfire: Subverted in "The Silent Blade" by R.A. Salvatore. Drizzt Do'Urden and Artemis Entreri have engaged in a duel to the death to determine once and for all who is the better fighter. Entreri ultimately loses, although even Drizzt acknowledges that his loss has more to do with bad luck than any lack of skill on his part. Entreri doesn't care, and tells Drizzt to finish him since he cannot live with the knowledge that he was beaten. Drizzt refuses, and begins to walk away. Entreri runs at him from behind and cries out in rage—his goal, as it turns out, is to alert Drizzt to his attack so that Drizzt will be forced to kill him. And Drizzt does defend himself by turning around and stabbing Entreri. However, a protective spell cast on Entreri without his knowledge protects him and mortally wounds Drizzt instead.
  • Badass Grandpa - Elminster and Khelben Arunsun, among others.
  • Bazaar of the Bizarre - The Dark Bazaar of Calimport.
  • Battle Couple - Most known are Sword and Sorcerer pairs. For obvious reasons we didn't see Elminster and Alassra "The Simbul" Shentrantra, or even Khelben and Laeral (save non-described killing of Sammaster) fighting together.
    • Drizzt and Catti-brie as well.
  • Becoming the Mask - Vangerdahast's brilliant scheme to blackmail noble lady Shaerl Rowanmantle with her "theft against boredom" to become a Cormyrean agent in Shadowdale. After adventures together and a romance with the Dale's lord she became a co-ruler there (and he perfectly knows how his wife met him), she didn't care much about what War Wizards may tell anyone. In Shadow of the Avatar one of Vangey's subordinates told her that he thinks it's the time for Shadowdale to "join" Cormyr—and how it ended?
  • Bizarre Alien Biology - Mind flayers, for starters. Anything with the creation type "aberration".
  • Black Sheep - Drizzt Do'Urden is the Black Sheep of House Do'Urden. Zaknafein Do'Urden as well, to a degree.
    • Liriel Baenre. And for loyal priestesses knowing that she became Zedriniset before going rogue didn't make her more endearing.
    • Giogi Wyvernspur, though eventually proper nobles, his liege, his Love Interest and even Vangerdahast think otherwise.
    • Danilo Thann, ostensibly.
  • Bloody Murder - Silver fire, old elven Blood Magic, 'Blood Lightning' spell...
  • Blow Gun: In one novel, the pirate hunter Captain Deudermont is darted by a thug who wanted to claim the black-market bounty on him. Apparently, his darts are made from cat claws (don't ask how those could be used as darts) and no other ammunition is compatible with his blowgun.
  • Brain Drain: Knights of the Golden Rooster in Ravens Bluff often complain that other knightly orders tend to "take their best". Looking from the other end, one of the Roosters' main roles is to be an "entry-level" order for common people or adventurers and a route to higher responsibilities - old Roosters are those who chose to stay for the style.
  • Brain Uploading - Nybor's Psychic Imprint (at least, in 3rd ed Nybor's Small Codex).
  • But Your Wings Are Beautiful - Quite literally in the case of Jasmine.
  • Cain and Abel - Even with deities. Tymora and Beshaba are "sisters" and enemies; according to some versions of mythology, Selûne and Shar are twin sisters. No, Selene did not have an evil twin out to destroy her and all creation. Then again, Selene was also not a schoolgirl.
  • Can Not Tell a Lie - It's one of the laws Jordaini of Halruaa must obey. Or die.
  • Can't Argue with Elves - used straight, subverted, averted and in any way possible.
  • Characters As Device - Many characters, in sourcebooks and novels, seem to only exist to further a specific plot, and then are never mentioned ever again. A Kudzu Plot reinforces this trend.
  • The Chessmaster - a lot of them, from Zhentarim to Harpers.
  • Chivalrous Pervert - Guess who? It became a running gag. Just from memory: scoring innumerable human, elven and half-elven ladies (half of whom at some time before or after either were villainesses or just tried to kill him), several avatars of a goddess, daughters of the same goddess who attacked him before; having daughter from a dragon (polymorphed into human, but he knew) who served the enemy of the abovementioned goddess; flirting with watchghost (in Elminster's Daughter), archlich (in Shadows of Doom) and lich (in Temptation of Elminster)... The Drow of the Underdark starts with narrator running into Elminster chatting with a drow lady—his ex-apprentice semi-submerged in his private pool and clearly upset by this stranger's arrival.
    • Jarlaxle.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder - Cyric, in his days as a mortal.
  • Classy Cat Burglar - Bored noble lady Shaerl Rowanmantle indulged in thievery for amusement. And even though she underestimated the guard's vigilance, an attempt to blackmail her into service just made her co-ruler of the place she was supposed to spy upon and brought Cormites some hilarity later. Narnra Shalace the "Silken Shadow" (in Elminster's Daughter).
  • Cloning Blues - The basic spell has limitations, but there are twists. The unique Manshoon's Stasis Clone spell circumvents this, and according to Only a Woman Can Take This Sort of Abuse (though it's a spin-a-yarn story, not canon), it emulated Tarrasque's life cycle.
    • The conspiracy in Azure Bonds as the most devious and overcomplicated case.
    • "The Night of Fourteen Magisters" was the nastiest straight example (dozen of Zunroun's clones, nine of whom lived to get Magister's powers at once—plus the original).
    • "Manshoon Wars", the result of Manshoon's Stasis Clone being finally broken. Lord Orgauth and Fzoul Chembryl killed Manshoon, expecting one clone with non-updated memory (thus not knowing of their treachery) to reappear. Instead, four Manshoons teleported in, trying both to get their master spellbook and avenge themselves. Soon at least 40 normal (and very desperate) clones of him were runing around. Hilarity Ensues, as well as trading spells, return of magic items squirreling away long ago and killing or bribing lots of other magic-users. The clones who were converted to any form of undeath, permanently polymorphed or simply left Realmspace weren't compelled to kill all others, but this changed little.
    • Deepspawn can create copies of whatever creature it devoured. Unlimited, as long as it got enough of food.
      • The Spawn Wars - Wars between dwarven kingdoms circa -9000 DR involved lots of deepspawn-bred troops. Which had aftereffects on dwarven spirit immediately (what with having lots of "second-class citizens") and vitality later - "the Spawned" were banned from breeding, but this obviously didn't always work, and some blame on this factor the decline in birth rates that ultimately contributed to the number of unpopulated dwarven ruins. Oh, and this also left a few still living deepspawn (with dwarven samples, obviously) here and there...
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment - What the Harpers did to Finder Wyvernspur. Also, in "Only a Woman Can Take This Sort of Abuse".
  • Cool Pet - In Groonpeck's Field Guide to Terrifying Denizens of the Air, with special appendices for Acheron, the Elemental Planes, and the Abyss the Non-Human Sidekick of Miliana da Sumbria was called "sacred, untouchable, and extremely dangerous; avoid at all cost". And when a book on critters like dragons, invisible stalkers and vrocks rates some silly bird like that, it is cool. Shopscat manages to fit it being just a normal raven.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive - Guilds (and Knights of the Shield) overthrew the monarchy in Tethyr. And then things quickly rolled downhill, for everyone. Including themselves (in the long run, smoldering civil war isn't good for business).
  • Crossover - Sometimes happens (it's a well-interwoven world), sometimes is hilariously averted with two characters from the same city:

Elaine Cunningham:[4] ...something I wrote in response to the perennial question, "What would happen if Drizzt and Liriel met?" For those who might be interested in my take on the matter, here 'tis.

    • There's even fanart of this - sadly, only the first half of their supposed "encounter" is depicted.
    • Despite this, it's alluded in the text and later confirmed that the guy who "deflowers Liriel and teaches her to throw knives, both at her request, and not necessarily in that order" was Jarlaxle.
      • Just pointing out the Squick involved, as he's her [half-]uncle.
    • Even more straightforward (with a bonus frightening insight into lady Elaine's mind) here.
  • The Dark Lord - Szass Tam, The Princes of Shade, Manshoon, Fzoul...
  • Dark-Skinned Blond - Occurs semi-regularly in the Calishite human ethnicity. And, of course, dark elves. And their descendants, Crinti.
  • Deal with the Devil- Erevis Cale's deal with Mephistopheles during the Twilight War trilogy.
  • Defeat by Modesty - It varies. Some (e.g. elves) just rarely give a damn, some (mostly humans) do. Inverted in Laeral's Disrobement spell—trap releasing another spell when its substrate is severely damaged or removed from its unwilling wearer—the most (in)famous use involved Sylune and her gown; before activation there also were some slavers who wanted to brand her, their log-built stronghold and Meteor Swarm spell charge.
  • Defeat Means Friendship - Aside from warriors resolving their issues, xenophobic elves forced Elminster to play this game with them ad nauseam. Some didn't make it through, however.
  • Disproportionate Retribution - The Cool and Unusual Punishment visited on Finder was a bit too much. And never mind collateral damage, like robbing thousands of people (including yet unborn) of mighty fun, or the inevitable result. Harpers are good guys, right?
    • The elves aren't much better. The ancient nation of Jhaamdaath once invaded the ancient elven realm of Nikerymath (present-day Chondalwood). Did the elves invade back? No, they used epic magic to drop a tidal wave on the entire country, which is why you can no longer find 'Jhaamdaath' on the map. And let's not forget princess Amnestria.
  • Doomed Hometown: Time and again. Once a dragonrider burned a village to kill one of younger sons of late king, but accidentally left alive a single shepherd boy. Who later turned out to be the son of the killed prince... name's Elminster Aumar.
  • The Dragon - Fzoul and Manshoon alternated as the Dragon to each other.
  • Drowning My Sorrows - Wulfgar, for a certain period of his life.
  • Dysfunction Junction - It seems that Magefairs tend to host a dozen of swaggering fireball-tossers seeking a duel, a hundred of gossipers and half a hundred of accomplished nuts sharing their mad theories.
  • Embarrassing Tattoo - Jherek in The Threat from the Sea ran away from his pirate father, but he has a tattoo that identified him as a crewmember of the nastiest pirate ship on the sea. Naturally, such a feature was rather career-limiting at best.
    • Also Alias's evil tattoos in Azure Bonds. She acts embarrassed by them, but it's more because they cause her to kill people she doesn't want to kill.
  • Even Evil Has Standards - sometimes, especially with Affably Evil. Also played for laughs: Hrolf 'the Unruly' managed to get imprisonment and confiscation instead of usual fine in the near-lawless Wretched Hive of Skullport not because he's a pirate (skulls don't worry about such trifles), but because he raised the concept of debauch to a whole new level. This man didn't got his nickname for nothing.
  • Evil Counterpart - The City of Shade, and the City of Opus.
  • Evil Overlord - Fzoul Chembryl, Manshoon, Sememmon, Telamont Tanthul, et al.
  • Evil Parents Want Good Kids - It was a major plot point with Lauzoril (Zulkir of Enchantment). Dag Zoreth may or may not be the case: he kept his daughter well away from his business and allowed his sister to take custody with less fuss than one could expect, though it's possible he just didn't care much.
  • Excalibur in the Rust - Fyodor in the Starlight And Shadows trilogy has a two-handed sword, clearly too heavy... and blunt. Far too many people didn't think it was serious until they learned a few little details: first, it's enchanted and works as if was sharp enough for any purpose except "friendly fire". Second, while most people can lift it with a visible effort, the owner is built like a smith (and was one) and always carries the damn thing with him, so he can use the ugly piece of metal as intended. Third, as The Berserker, in rage he swings it with enough strength to crash a minor golem and enough speed to hit a superhumanly fast drow fencer.
  • Fallen Hero - Scyllua Darkhope, a former paladin of the god of justice turned to the service of the god of tyranny. She's also a Dark Action Girl.
  • Fantastic Nuke - there are some.

Elminster: That is the direct effect of Geryon's Death Spell. Spells of this sort are directly forbidden, although it is difficult to punish transgressors as they are usually dead before the spell reaches this stage!

    • In The North, a laboratory accident during creation of "Chigliak's Hotpot" cleaned 200' diameter area devoid of snow, trees and grass around the wizard's house, with sand glazed closer to the epicenter and remaining pieces of the walls scattered up to 200 yd. The only thing found intact was one human foot still wearing a anklet of immunity from fire (obviously, slightly misenchanted) and Chigliak was too much of a jerk for anyone to care about his resurrection.
  • Finger in the Mail - In one novel in the series, the crimelord who has the halfling Regis captive has one of his men give Drizzt and friends (out to save Regis) a package when they reach his city: a halfling's severed finger. Not only is it from Regis, the crimelord does it again as they're breaking into his lair.
  • For Halloween I Am Going as Myself - Sometimes, notably drow (it's a valid "illusionary costume" because Evil Is Stylish). With mindflayers this was mostly played for laughs.
  • Forgotten Superweapon - Pandorym, Kezefbane...
  • Fourth Wall Mail Slot - In The Wizards Three, though of course not novels. Once Mordenkainen's apprentice opened it to bawl at challenged to the spell duel one fan who worded dissatisfaction with her appearance in The Wizards Three impolitely, once Elminster commented at the readers' dirty imagination.
  • Free the Frogs: "Leave Chitines Alone!" movement notion of some Ched Nasad drow, mentioned in War of the Spider Queen. That wouldn't be so utterly mind-boggling... if the main argument wasn't that they follow the same Religion of Evil which approves Chronic Backstabbing Disorder of drow so much. No wonder Pharaun just laughed at a question whether he's one of those.
  • Genre Savvy - Drizzt does not bother chasing after the crystal shard because he knows that as soon as he destroys it something else evil will pop up.
  • Ghost Shipping - The Lady of the Mists.
  • God Was My Co-Pilot - Finder's Bane
  • Grammar Nazi - Interprete this little footnote from Volo's Guide to All Things Magical as you want:

Elminster: Do not, for instance, utter the word "indubitably" when in the Hall of Floating Helms in the Palace in Suzail--unless, that is, ye enjoy being caught in the midst of swarming lightning bolt spells.

Elminster:[5] If Lord Laerlos Silmerhelve ever reads this, there won't be a fortress strong enough or distant enough in all Toril to save the skin of Volothamp Geddarm from the vengeance of the Silmerhelves. I hear Ravithara wants the father of her baby to return to her side, too.

  • The Hat Makes the Man - The Horn of Crowns makes its wearer crazed and violent.
  • Heel Faith Turn - Something like this implied to be a part of the past Shield of Innocence (orog paladin) was reluctant to talk about. Since Thamdarl "the Wizard Unseen" named his memoirs Tyrant's Throne to the Arms of a Goddess: My Road To Mystra, this seems to be his case too.
  • Hereditary Curse - The Avatar Trilogy has Kelemvor Lyonsbane, last scion of a family of cursed mercenaries. The curse began when his ancestor betrayed a powerful sorceress and was cursed to never again act purely for profit, or transform into a murderous panther. However, with the birth of his son, the curse reacted to the boys innocence and reversed itself. From then on, Lyonsbanes could ONLY act on anothers behalf out of thoughts of profit.
  • Heroic Mime - Saurials cannot speak in the audible for humans range, so Dragonbait managed to go about his missions without any verbal communication, though later learned the thieves' hand code.
  • Heroic Sociopath - Artemis Entreri, Erevis Cale
  • Horse of a Different Color - It's almost a Running Gag when applied to paladins' special mounts.
    • In Pool of Twilight one paladin's first attempt to summon a charger brought a large pig.
    • Jherek in The Threat from the Sea, as a sea warrior, has no use for horses. Eventually, he got the loyal "mount" that dwarfs most normal kinds of paladin mounts... put together. Though even this didn't stopped him from further attempts to convince himself he's not a paladin despite any painfully obvious evidence.
  • Hot Amazon - All of the Seven Sisters, but especially Storm Silverhand.
  • Human Popsicle - Or elf-demon hybrid popsicle, to be more precise. The fey'ri were imprisoned and then the imprisoning civilization fell, leaving them to wake up 5,000 years later when the magic on the fortress above was severed.
    • Elminster was a 'human dust catcher' in an old Netherese tomb for a century or so at the beginning of Temptation of Elminster. And found out that Myth Drannor became a fiend-ridden ruin, surprise (though either Mystra or Azuth cared to soften impact by sending visions).
  • I Gave My Word - Elminster swore to never kill Fzoul nor Manshoon in an agreement with one of their common foes, in favour of stopping yet another common foe. "So high a price", indeed.
  • I'm a Humanitarian - An interesting twist. Creators of one mythal instead of specifically listing a few nasty critters blocked "any being that had consumed the flesh of men", a rite of passage in nearby orc tribes. Thus ghouls, most evil dragons and fiends, and so on are straight out too. But the Nethertusk Horde did walk in—no more Myth Glaurach. It was puzzling how a mythal failed back then if it still keeps monsters out several centuries later, until a journal of one orc shaman found in the Herald’s Holdfast explained it. After the first wave of rampaging orcs was stopped and slaughtered, Gruumsh told his shamans what's up. So, the next generation of orcs was prohibited from eating their foes. Orcs aren't as brainy as illithids, but they aren't idiots either.
  • Identity Amnesia - Kheil of Sentinelspire.
  • Indian Burial Ground - Played with. Elven tombs attract thieves, but are not safe at all, even if not patrolled by armed forces (like in vicinity of Evereska). Or, Battledale farmers thought, if backed up by few mercenaries and wizards, they could fill and use a swamp even after mold men neighbours told them it's their burial ground. It turned out that both "their" and "burial" should be understood rather broadly. Less than in one year farmers who ran away quickly enough thought they were damn lucky to survive at all.[6]
  • Intercontinuity Crossover - used really well in The Wizards Three from 'neighbour' crystal spheres (see above). More canonically,

While it is suspected that Elminster has visited Oerth and Bigby has visited Toril, it is known that Mordenkainen and Vangerdahast both competed magically for the hand of a young extra-planar beauty (both lost, by the way).

    • Blackstaff had an encounter with Bigby "apparently not on the best of terms" resulting in a mention that "the old goat comes up with one good gimmick and beats it to death with a rock"—and creation of Khelben's Warding Whip.
  • Interspecies Romance - Half-Elves in most place don't even cause a lifted eyebrow, but it's not the only case. Myth Drannor was named after an elf who loved a dwarven lady (and yes, on Toril female dwarves got beards, male elves don't).
    • Here's clarification from Ed Greenwood on all those half-orcs.
  • In the Blood:
    • Zaknafein Do'Urden is a "good guy", and skilled with the blade. Thus, so is his son, Drizzt. To a lesser extent, Vierna, Drizzt's full sister, is noticeably gentler and more reasonable than their half-sisters...until she goes through the advanced brainwashing techniques of the Church of Lolth.
    • "Silken Shadow" (in Elminster's Daughter) ended up with much the same occupation as so-called "Eladar the Dark" before he cast his first cantrip. For that matter, Tanalasta Obarskyr was a bookworm and after conversion to Chauntea developed an iron determination... not unlike her grandfather.
    • Dornal Silverhand and Storm Silverhand, both being rangers and playing complete You Must Be Cold on strangers, though in different circumstances.
  • It Got Worse: In the Avatar Crisis, the forced descent of all the gods into mortal bodies caused havoc with the Weave—outside of the several-mile radius which surrounded an avatar, magic was unpredictable, either not working at all, working with a quirk, going wild, or blowing up in your face. It was spellcast at your own risk. Then Helm killed Mystra... and things went entirely insane, magically.
    • Happens all the time.
  • Jerkass - Mostly heroic incarnations are Vangerdahast (at least until retirement), Khelben (a bit less, mostly due to Morality Pet effect).
  • Jerkass Facade - sometimes Elminster (e.g. fun with slug sandwiches he remembered in Elminster in Hell), but usually Lhaeo does this for him. Liriel played this with Xzorsh up to Knife Outline level to keep him from being unguarded around any other drow he could meet.
  • Karma Houdini - Artemis Entreri. For all of the evil stuff he has done, he is still many people's favorite character.
    • He is an assassin—Or at least, he was for a good chunk of page-time. Plus, (Lawful) Evil Is Cool.
      • Most of his evil actions tend to be justified or overshadowed by the evil that the people around him do, and he has paid for a lot of it, knocked off a cliff, stuck in menzoberran and forced to ally with Jarlaxle, and then is mindscrewed somewhat by Jarlaxle
  • Killer Rabbit - Several, including literal ones (according to Elminster's Ecologies).
  • Killer Yoyo - Cadderly got "an archaic weapon used by ancient halfling tribesmen of southern Luiren". Made of rock crystal... by Salvatore, of course.
  • Lady of War - Princess Alusair of Cormyr. Storm Silverhand is as incredibly dangerous and attractive as all Seven Sisters, and her pupils Chesslyn Onaubra and Sharantyr fit the description as well.
  • Laser Blade - "Chromatic Blade" spell creates a temporary weapon - glowing needle-thin ray of Hard Light working as sword of sharpness and counteracting many spells of "Prismatic" type.
  • Lawful Stupid - Knights of Samular aren't very nice people as it is (see What the Hell, Hero?), but in Thornhold a young knight right from the monastery was given a mission requiring some understanding and diplomacy, which helped him to quickly make himself look a bigger Jerkass than Khelben and end up as a Butt Monkey for everyone including a little girl.
  • Let Me Tell You a Story: In Daughter of the Drow, a human warrior amuses a drow mage (who saved him from carnivores and tried to claim as a slave) with a folk tale about how "old favors are soon forgotten". Then managed to get away and added the same phrase to his "farewell" as he ran off.
  • Living Weapon, Attack Animal - Wyverns originally were weapons made by Aearee (a creator race) to use against Lammasu (according to The Grand History of the Realms). The stream of wizardly projects involving some or other custom-made weaponized Hybrid Monster reemerged in the human era and shows no sign of drying up. Akhlaur experimented with "cat-man warrior" idea and later created laraken. Red Wizards make "chosen ones" (these are unstable, though) from slaves and darkenbeasts (these work well... outside of direct sunlight) from any normal animals. Then there was a project of perfect assassins as "Living Construct" described in The Finder's Stone Trilogy (it messily backfired, of course).
  • Love Triangle - all variants, notably one around Galaeron Nihmedu which transformed several times, including Tenchi Solution and ended up better than one could suspect, though it was sort of foreshadowed.
  • Loveable Rogue - lots of, including Eladar the Dark a.k.a. Elminster Aumar and his daughter.
  • Magic Is a Monster Magnet - A magnet for the Phaerimm, to be exact.
  • Manchurian Agent: In addition to missing memories, Alias had a bunch of "missions", but didn't know what it was until she was in position to do it. Which inadvertently hindered her self-investigation more than being conditioned to attack anyone trying to remove this, and only slightly less than the blanket protection from divinations.
  • Master Apprentice Chain - There are several trackable chains, and lots of offhanded mentions of someone being apprenticed to Elminster (whose teachers are known from Elminster's Saga) or other Chosen (at least half of whom, including Khelben, learned from Elminster at some point or other) -- Mystran dogma is clear about spreading the arcane knowledge, after all. Given that some of these (like Malchor Harpell) grew to the top rung and in turn got their own pupils, there are traceable chains 4-5 wizards or more long.
    • A Pupil of Mine Until He Turned to Evil: Again, the Mystran dogma teaches to spread magical knowledge, so they, especially Elminster, teach a lot of people with talent and not looking terminally irresponsible. Some of whom later played in the teams any good Mystran have to cull given an opportunity, all the way down to Cult of the Dragon.
    • Merlin and Nimue: Elminster started his career with falling for one of his mentors, Myrjala "Darkeyes" Talithyn, and some of his own apprentices enjoyed not only learning magic from him -- apparently including one drow lady. His former apprentice "The Shadowsil" in the backstory of Ed Greenwood's novel Spellfire left him to take up a life of evil.
  • Meet the Meat: Some dragons like to start with talking before tasting.

Mist: You must forgive me for not knowing anything about you, but I've been so out of touch. I am Mistinarperadnacles Hai Draco. You may call me Mist. And I'll call you... supper? Yes, it's about time for a light, early supper. So nice of you to deliver yourself.

  • Memory Gambit - It's normal both for drow on high positions and high-level wizards to be Crazy Prepared. So in Extinction (War of the Spider Queen) Gromph Baenre did it. An opponent thought everything was under control... and lived just long enough to realize what's going on.
  • Million Mook March - The Tuigan Horde, King Obould's Army of Many-Arrows.
  • Misapplied Phlebotinum - The best one is the Ravenstar from Inside Ravens Bluff, the Living City. Two wizard brothers discovered most of their heirloom was turned into flying galleon. Turns out it's not a con, and merchant (Arcane, duh) delivers it, along with the user's manual. Then they dismissed "through space" part. For a vessel powered by major helm even suborbital cargo runs would be a waste of possibilities, and that not counting a non-standard device built in. They use Ravenstar to... haul a circus, around less than one continent. Ah, and sometimes for moonlight cruises.
  • Murder Is the Best Solution - Orc Problems in the North? Kill 'em all. Some drow (who fixes more problems that causes) draws a special attention from Lower Planes? Send a warship after her. Contrabandists with smokepowder? Kaboom!
  • My God, What Have I Done? - Wulfgar has this reaction after he hallucinates that Catti-Brie is a demon and hits her in The Silent Blade.
  • Myth Arc - Cormyr Saga alone gives compressed variant. The novel Cormyr is an interleave of "present day" story chapters and small flashback stories that depict Cormyrean history. The How We Got Here part forms at once necessary background for the main story, some parts of big Story Arc and also parts of epic History Arc that connects with "present" Story Arc in next books.
  • Neglectful Precursors - Dracorage is one of "best" examples. Building a magical device that periodically drives all dragons in the world Axe Claw Crazy? Well, sometimes one just have to do whatever one can. Leaving damn thing active, accessible and not adequately guarded, indefinitely after decisive victory? Great idea: not only dragons have to kill much more people than they want to, but sooner or later it may fail to turn off and someone can tamper with either comet or mythal in the way that leaves the hellish condition on. Which almost happened twice.
    • Some elven mages left a few trapped fiends with "impossible" Curse Escape Clause and apparently didn't set up safeguards other than verbal warnings, which degenerated to horror stories for children in about 1800 years. Then there were three very annoyed greater nycaloths, the whole army of their kin gated in and roaming around, the fall of Myth Drannor... Ah, and these were summoned in first place to retrieve artifacts stolen by elves to keep them out of hands of irresponsible humans. Netherese later did cause Gotterdammerung, so for once this consideration was quite valid. But early Netherese were taught by elves to begin with. It's hard to count just how many times such recursions cross the line.
  • Neuro Vault - If after all those years of examining Sealed Evil in a Can inside the can Prince Melegaunt Tanthul died and just carried all this knowledge with him, it would be... rather unfortunate, right?
  • Neutral No Longer - Lots of, notably Catlinda (Company of Catlash), who became an adventurer after her father gone insane when she exposed and slain doppleganger who killed (and replaced) her mother. Or some elves who helped Cyricists after Knights of Samular acted as classic Lawful Anal.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero - Karsus tried to become a god by using the first 12-level spell to borrow some divine power from the only deity he should have left alone. The result is: destroyed Netheril, killed goddess, no 11-level and higher spells on Toril anymore and 10 level working only when relevant gods are sure it's a good idea, Karsus being a god just long enough to understand how much he screwed up everything and then trapped for ages as almost-dead almost-god.
    • The Harpers' great idea to imprison an irresponsible and arrogant artificer off-plane where he can't do anything and remove him from the history. Quickly became less than safe when one of the few last traces of the evidence fell into hands of wrong guys who forced him to work with them.
    • The Dracorage Mythal. Free the world from the dragons' domination by disorganizing them: a good idea. Leave behind the device with nigh-unlimited service life not only making dragons aggressive every few years, but capable of making one big nightmare of the whole world just by failing to turn off: not very good idea. This one had two very close calls. First the dragons not knowing what exactly got them tried to destroy the visible comet—which gone wrong and produced Tears of Selune—so the mythal's activating key almost got stuck in either Toril's moon or one of the new satellites. Later perhaps the best metamage in the world gone batshit insane, found and "hijacked" the mythal itself. These elves are not only nice, but also very foresighted People, aren't they?
    • In "The Pirate King", Captain Deudermont leads an army to overthrow the ruler of Luskan, the evil lich archmage Arklem Greeth. Despite the best efforts of Drizzt to help him, he ultimately winds up making things worse.
  • Noble Demon - Lauzoril.
    • Some Princes of Shade: while flooding large part of the desert they found time to warn locals and offer their help with evacuation—in rather clumsy way, but they tried. Melegaunt Tanthul acted responsibly and honestly with his incidental partners, though it's not quite clean how random was the initial accident.
  • Noodle Incident: It's not known what Aerilaya (green elf druidess referenced in a few elf-related Realmslore sources) did that she had to leave the continent - except a few bizarre details .
  • Not So Harmless - Cyric in 4th edition.
  • Nude Nature Dance - The Good-aligned female Drow worshippers of Eilistraee dance nude outdoors in the moonlight.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity - As Elminster's scribe Lhaeo played little obnoxious Obstructive Bureaucrat. After he covertly turned into Haedrak III he plays less than bright lordling and dabbler in magic absent-mindedly playing with his familiar instead of listening to any Serious Business discussed before him. While his personal power isn't great, he has Seen It All, have an ideal memory, is very observant, good enough investigator to tell nosy Khelben something new about the events under Blackstaff's own nose and as deft with his spells - including a few Elminster developed personally for him - as it can be expected from a guy apprenticed to the Old Mage for two dozens years.
  • Older Than They Look - Fyodor takes some time to get accustomed to the idea of Liriel being mature enough for a relationship. For one, she's small for a drow. For two, as a drow, at the age of 39,[7] she looks more like 12.
    • In The Bargain by Elaine Cunningham the true age of Arilyn "Moonblade" rather shocked Hasheth. Calishites usually marry very young, so...

Arilyn: I'm a half-elf, remember? I'll probably outlive your grandchildren. [...] For as many years as you and your mother have lived, I've been a hired warrior.

  • Ominous Floating Castle - Netherese Enclaves, Flattery Wyvernspur's castle, Temple in the Sky.
  • Our Dark Elves Are Better: Carried out to extremely aggravating levels by R.A. Salvatore, who takes great pains to show how dark elves can effortlessly see through the most complicated plans, can get past any trap or precaution, and are overall far superior in magic, intrigue, knowledge and skill to any of the pathetic humans they come across.
    • Averted with Berg'inyon Baenre. Like most drow, he thinks himself greatly superior to humans. But he meets his end in a Curb Stomp Battle against Artemis Entreri. Also averted with Matron Baenre and her insistence on attacking Mithral Hall after the Time of Troubles. That really wasn't very smart of her, and Menzoberranzan was significantly weakened after taking great losses against Mithral Hall's defenders.
    • Elves were too, but they became mostly useless relicts long ago, which led them to The Retreat: turning Cormanthor into Myth Drannor was the last strong attempt to counter the consequences of the decadence. And it held water only as long as the Coronal lived.
  • Overused Copycat Character - Drizzt is the poster child.
  • Pepper Sneeze - Raidon Kane, in Stardeep.
  • Person of Mass Destruction - Just about any high-level spellcaster.
    • Any spellfire wielder (like Shandril Shessair) also qualifies.
  • Phlebotinum Overdose - It was mentioned many times that spells may interfere and an excessive release of strong spells, especially in the presence of massive enchantments, may rise up to the scale of Fantastic Nuke: supposedly, through this effect one drow city in a civil war turned into what is known as The Great Rift.
  • The Pollyanna - Lathander is the god of optimism in all but name ("there is always another morning") and there seems to be more of obliviousness than defeating the circumstances. Many his followers are like this too: Muragh Brilstagg, Rod of Lathander, was cursed to have his awareness stuck in his body after dying and soon reduced to a skull able only to talk and roll around using his jaw. The priest remained Talkative Loon loudly preachful about others' faults he was—which got a wizard to curse him in the first place—through it all.
  • Precursors - Before humans, Toril was dominated by elves. Who in turn broke the dragons' rule. Before dragons there were Creator races.
  • Purple Is Powerful - The Knights called the Purple Dragons.
  • Ravens and Crows - Aside from the obvious use as familiars: Ravens Bluff is named after unusual local birds (big ravens that can talk and leave a curse if killed). Kelemvor has "funny" interaction with a crow in Avatars: Waterdeep. Ravens are constant motif in the books of Elaine Cunningham, from Liriel's representation in a prophetic vision and later nickname to Shopscat, pet raven of Curious Past shop in Thornhold able to say several phrases and whose sharp beak discouraged many a thief.

Shopscat: Think about it.

  • Razor Wings: The 'Sharpwings' spell. It gives a dragon's wing buffet double the damage of a claw attack while keeping its knockdown efect. Without any visual changes.
  • Rebellious Princess - Miliana Da Sumbria (The Council of Blades). Liriel Baenre, technically, counts too. Alusair "The Steel Princess" of Cormyr had a loud dish-breaking disputes with her father just about every time she returned to the palace.

Queen Filfaeril:[8] Vangerdahast could be busily marrying both our daughters right now, and declaring himself Emperor-Wizard of all Cormyr.
King Azoun: (snorting) If he tries, he'd better lash up Tana's tongue and Luse's sword hand, first, or he'll have the shortest reign of any -
Queen Filfaeril: (giggling) Hold that thought, my lord. That's a mind-view I can savor.

  • Redemption Equals Death: Erevis Cale.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Tzigone (Counselors and Kings) is this trope incarnate (of course, it helps that she's utterly immune to magic). Also, the penchant of some drow for "authentic drow costumes". No, really. Drow - here? Not trying to cut anyone? And clothed only in... this? Did you never see illusions before?..
  • Rightful King Returns: The restoration of the monarchy in Tethyr.
  • Rich Idiot With No Day Job: Danilo Thann (Songs and Swords novels) was a very competent wizard/bard and member of the Harpers who pretended to be a stupid fop clumsily dabbling in magic to keep away unwanted attention.
  • Royal Bastard: An absurd amount of Cormyrean young nobles look embarrassingly alike, due to the attitude and habits of Azoun IV. Some joined coups, some are loyal to the official Obarskyr line's rule.
  • Screaming Warrior: Twibbledorf Pwent.
  • Screw You, Elves/What The Hell Elves: In Return of the Archwizards a little remark of an elf from Evermeet managed to seriously flip out at once Elmister (learned from elves, saved even one who died of a suicidal spell just to get at him), Khelben (not a Puppy Dog Eyes half-elf wannabe out to prove his worth anymore, but still eager to jump the blade for them) and Laeral (almost - she just doesn't, short of artifact possession), and got an Evereskan elf to at least make a point.

Evereska is being overrun by phaerimm, and your people are worried about humans?

  • Sdrawkcab Name: Pit fiend Tanetal, a servant of Bane, repeated "Latenat" at the end of at least every other phrase.
    • Snilloc - a wizard from the Covenant, inventor of some classic spells (made by Dave Collins, probably except Snilloc's Cream Pie, joke spell by Elaine Cunningham).
  • Secret Test of Character - Harpers sometimes do such things. Vangerdahast at least once used Secret Test Of Loyalty - those who answered his proposal with an attempt to kill him on the spot were deemed truly loyal to Cormyr's crown.
  • Shout-Out - A lot.
    • Volo's Guide to All Things Magical even has a mocking reference to the Anarchist Cookbook of all things.
    • The original Forgotten Realms sourcebook included the spell "Spell Engine", which was almost identical (given the differences between the two works' underlying magic rules) to the "Warlock's Wheel" from Larry Niven's The Magic Goes Away series.
  • Sinister Minister - The priest in charge of Selûne's church in Memnon.
  • Sorcerous Overlord - Many examples through the history, including Shoon Empire. Also, one Thamdarl "the Wizard Unseen" of whom in a typical Realmslore fashion we know only a single epigraph from his memoirs.
  • Spot of Tea - Raidon Kane enjoying tea, due to his Kara-Turan heritage.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers - Amnestria Moonflower, a princess of Evermeet ruling dynasty who in the end chose a human. Her nice kin were rather imaginative in screwing over these two.
  • The Starscream - See The Dragon above.
  • Star-Spangled Spandex - Ao.
  • Super Fun Happy Thing of Doom - "Nybor's Joyful Voyage" spell. That the same Nybor devised a whole line of Agony Beam spells maybe counts as a subtle hint. It unsafely teleports one victim to random place 1d100 miles away from the point of origin (including straight up and down).

The "joyful" nature of Nybor's voyage refers to the joy of the spell's caster rather than that of its target.

  • Super Registration Act: The kingdom of Cormyr requires all adventurers within their borders to register with the government.
  • Sword and Sorcerer: As Battle Couples, Fyodor with Liriel (Starlight And Shadows) and Arilyn "Moonblade" with Danilo Thann (Songs and Swords). Others include Ryld Argith with Pharaun Mizzrym (War of the Spider Queen).
  • Take That - In The Simbul's Gift: Lauzoril became Zulkir by killing his predecessor and mentor in a duel. Then he found an old guy's granddaughter locked away on the estate and soon married her. Granddaddy turned her into Cloudcuckoolander, trying to protect her and/or because later she would constitute a danger. Lauzoril later swore his magic will never touch his daughter, even to straighten her crooked tooth, and if this will be his demise, so be it. That's one of major villains. Thing is, it was printed soon after Hobgoblin 2211 story, Hasbro-to-Hasbro missile.
  • Taking You with Me: aside of specific incidents there are at least two spells that involve the caster's own death: Red Wizards' Gur's spell-lash (exploding for the wizard's own hit dice worth of damage) and Elven Blood Dragon (someone's get hounded by a near-unstoppable magical construct with flesh-dissolving touch).
  • Talking Through Technique: The Drow Hand Sign language.
    • Galaeron Nihmedu when he has a problem with magic himself and wanted another spellcaster to reveal an invisible enemy, slowly moved his fingers through the proper spell's somatic component until it was recognized as such and cast.
  • Teleport Interdiction: The spell "Proof from Teleportation".
  • There Are Two Kinds of People in the World:

Alias: Riding a wagon along protected trading routes in a guarded merchant caravan doesn't make you an adventurer. Until you've hiked more than twenty miles a day, slept in a ditch, and eaten something that tried to kill you first, you're not an adventurer. Anyone who isn't an adventurer is a greengrocer.

  • Throw It In: Where did Drizz't come from? R. A. Salvatore's editor called while he was working on The Crystal Shard and said he needed to add a sidekick. He came up with him on the spot.
  • Tome of Eldritch Lore: Lots, perhaps most (in)famously, the Nether Scrolls (though they're harmless for reader) and Cyrinishad (not a real lore, just a sheet of bullshit, but it can brainwash a deity).
  • Too Much for Man to Handle: In Elminster's Daughter Caladnei was bold enough to demand from Elminster and Simbul to talk the way everyone can hear instead of a mindlink they obviously used. It turned out that there were more than two participants and when Mystra agreed with this request, Caladnei (and everyone present) learned the hard way why exactly direct contact with deities is rarely used even by priests strong enough to do it every day. They were barely able to move after this fun—and she was nice.
  • Trapped Behind Enemy Lines - Drizzt Do'Urden in The Lone Drow.
  • Tropes for Dummies - Canonically, every Volo's Guide is a mix of brilliant investigations and silly hearsay. The most infamous was "Volo's Guide to All Things Magical", which the author sold to someone (in FR comics). Its "second edition" [9] claimed that v.1.0 contained a lot of recipes how to kill oneself in amusing way and so much sensitive information that not only Volo hesitated to introduce himself in the hearing range of any other wizard ever after, but Elminster personally hunted down and destroyed every last copy.
    • During the introduction to Neverwinter Nights 2: Storm of Zehir, Volo mentions that Elminster decided that Volo's Complete Guide to the Behavior of Nymphs was "too naughty for print."
  • Unperson - While the Harpers imprisoned Finder they also removed him from all records and suppressed his songs. Not a small task, given that the target was a noble, widely known bard and great artificer at once. They even make him forget his own name. Of course, later it backfired. In the end they "restored" him when not only the cat was out of the bag, but he ascended to the demipower status, and the story ended up rather embarrassing for both sides.
  • Unrelated Effects - according to the Menzoberranzan boxed set, in some drow traditions wizards suspecting they are watched (i.e. most of them most of the time) disguise actual working, tactical properties or even nature of their spells with "frills" - bogus rituals, spell components and special effect cantrips. If such a wizard is in serious danger, he always can drop this comedy and cast the same spell "as is", much faster than those who spied upon his experiments would expect.
  • Van Helsing Hate Crimes - it seems anyone who can be presented as an "acceptable target" dealt with this. Of protagonists, Jander Sunstar (vampire) and Liriel Baenre (drow). And let's not start on the whole Bhaalspawn problem... Flavour text of The Seven Sisters features a wizard who ran into the dell where followers of Eilistraee (including Qilué) danced - it goes "aww... how cute... firestorm! Oops.". Dark Ladies obviously have to deal with such things time and again, and most are neither protected by Mystra's daughter and her wards, nor deterred by her from answering in kind. It was limited to a mild annoyance in Ravens Bluff - in a hardy Seen It All city only local drunks made a nuisance of themselves.
  • Vestigial Empire - Unther
  • Villain Protagonist - The War of the Spider Queen series is a Story Arc-spanning adventure for the sake of Religion of Evil. Though some of them were quite decent even by non-drow standarts or "got better" later.
    • Artemis Entreri. Although he eventually turned out to be something like an Anti-Hero x 10, his stats should still read Lawful Evil.
  • Voice Changeling: Giogioni Wyvernspur was known among his peers for a good imitation of his king—until he met someone conditioned to kill the guy with this voice, anyway.
  • We Could Have Avoided All This - it happens, but when it's subverted... The rumors of Charisma being the Dump Stat in AD&D have been rather exaggerated (see What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?).
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist - Paladin orders have unfortunate tendency to go over the top. Knights of Samular (see What the Hell, Hero?) proved themselves as Lawful Anal.
    • Golden elf Kymil Nimesin formed "Elite Guard" conspiracy, they planned a coup and managed to kill the king of Evermeet - which fact most gold elves consider their collective shame. Why? Out of oblivious utopism.

Elaine Cunningham:[10] He sees himself as a revolutionary who wishes to overthrow the monarchy in favor of a republic. He is further incensed by the fact that that royal family are moon elves, who he sees as less worthy than - indeed, inferior to - the gold elf race. For much of the history of Faerûn's elves, power has resided in the hands of the gold elves. Kymil seeks a return to past glories.

I have no love for orcs, but I know what is happening, and I do not place all the blame on the monsters who attacked. What choice do the displaced orcs have when their hunting grounds are taken from them? They must raid towns and farms in order to survive, and so they do.
a woman from Gladestone, Thornhold
    • Let's not discuss Elminster's brilliant idea of letting the Tuigan Horde rampage across the Heartlands, because God forbid that Cormyr actually do anything horrible like allying with other good and neutral nations to form a temporary mutual defense pact. Fortunately, in perhaps the only example in the setting of Elminster not getting his way, everybody ignored him and went with Azoun's plan instead.
      • Tuigans attacked Thay, were let go alive on condition of joining the next war on Thay's side. Which is how they were "invading Thesk": got kicked out of Rashemen so hard that Red Wizards had to part a lake to save them. Still dangerous, but after two meatgrinders like this in a row, there was a reasonable doubt whether to panic. On the other hand, Zhents got an excellent chance to infiltrate a great area, and used it.
        • Indeed, the Zhentilar managed to infiltrate Thesk so hard that all the troops they stationed there went native and they and their children are now living happy new lives as Theskian militia, miners, and farmers.
      • Cormyr is frequently seen as a domineering and grasping state and isn't trusted much, especially in Dales and after the "inclusion" of Tilverton. For good reasons, as Shadow of the Avatar shows. Obarskyrs themselves tend to act as a redeeming feature, but still. And of course...
Never before in the history of this fair realm have so many owed so much to the coffers of the king. Never fear but that he'll come collecting in short order...and his price shall be the lives of his debtors, in some foreign war or other. He'll call it a Crusade or something equally grand: but those who die in Cormyr's colors will be just as dead as if he'd called it a Raid To Pillage, or a Head Collecting Patrol. It is the way of kings to collect in blood.
— Albaertin of Marsember, A Small But Treasonous Chapbook
        • Of course, this chapbook entirely fails to explain why the king's allegedly imperialistic adventure collected no tribute, colonized no new lands, didn't even collect any loot, and was funded almost entirely by donations and volunteers. Cormyr didn't even conscript for the Tuigan Crusade; everybody who went along was either a volunteer, a hired mercenary, or from the military forces provided by various allies. IIRC, Azoun didn't even levy a war tax.
    • Lathander seems to be a bigger meddler than all mortal wizards put together. First he causes the Dawn Cataclysm, then allows himself to be fooled into attempt to "fix" some of its consequences...
      • There was supposed to be some general chill in relations after the Dawn Cataclysm, and he got some troubles for the latter, but he's freakin' Lathander.
      • Plus, it then turns out the whole thing was actually Amaunator being "reborn" as Lathander, which changed back right after the Spellplague...
    • What a certain order of Helmites (the Companions of the One True Vision) did in Maztica not only ruined the (already tarnished) reputation of their deity, it caused the paladins themselves to have to spend a number of years making amends for their racist slaughter, create new orders dedicated to preventing such atrocities in the future as well as pass laws forbidding it - and they still are distrusted and closely watched by some Faerunians even today.
      • Ironically, they are also are busy undoing side-effects of their god doing his job right: the greatest stain on his reputation are dead-magic and wild-magic zones that appeared after Time of Troubles and were quickly nicknamed "Helmlands".
    • Torm's followers now got "the Penance of Duty" - atonement for persecution by their church's short-lived theocracy during Time of Troubles and, since the incident personally involved the second Midnight/Mystra, "Debt of Destruction" - removal of the Weave damage. The Order of the Golden Lion specifically dedicated to paying his debts.
  • When All You Have Is a Hammer - Magocracies, some old-time elves and most Drow have a bad habit of using magic instead of calling someone to fix a problem the mundane way. This tend to make consequences nastier, especially if multiple structural repairs are few centuries overdue by the time that all folds.
  • When I Was Your Age: In Cloak Of Shadows, Storm tried to inspire young Harpers complaining about having to raise early, then Elminster finished them off with a handful of tall tales:

Storm: What sort of Knights and Harpers is Faerun breeding these days? Why, when I was your age...
Sharantyr: I know, I know. [...] Then you had to run two miles to the river to bathe and draw enough water for all the horses to drink, run back with it, and get the axe to go out and chop firewood for the kitchen fires, before y--
Elminster: When I was your age, axes hadn't been invented yet. Nor horses. We walked every­where to gather our firewood.

  • White-Haired Pretty Girl - The Seven Sisters and all female Drow.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever? - There are perhaps several dozen characters in the realms who have virtual immortality.
    • Drizz't Do'Urden holds closely to this. For most of his book appearances, he hovers around the century mark, putting him equivalently in his mid-twenties. Much angst goes into his thoughts on his relationship with Catti-Brie, who throughout the books moves from her early twenties to somewhere in her late thirties. Amazingly, during the "Transitions" trilogy, Salvatore bridges the gap between 3rd and 4th edition continuity, moving the timeline up by well over a hundred years. Think of what that means for a minute: No more Catti-Brie (even if she were still alive), Regis (same deal), Wulfgar (if he were not Put on a Bus), and no Artemis Entreri, among others. And, as of the events in Gauntylgrim, Bruenor has also died. This makes one of the only times in literary history where a character who has worried about outliving all of his friends and those around him actually has. Though as of Gauntylgrim it seems that Artemis might survive as Barrabus the Grey.
  • Whole-Plot Reference - Some of the novels do this, including one trilogy that was The Fountainhead in Forgotten Realms. Not that it was bad.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes? - Lark of Suzail panically feared snakes. Guess where Elminster sent her to do research for Ecologica? Right, into Serpent Hills (the foreword is titled "That's not a stick"). Now guess whom he recommended her as a guide...
  • With Due Respect - there hardly will be any larger case than a greater god confronted by his own paladin. Of course, Lathander is rather irresponsible by nature. Labelas Enoreth—on account of acting deranged during the Time of Troubles (as the personification of Time Abyss, he lost the touch with mortals) -- was abandoned by the priest he possessed. Whom upon regaining full godhood he talked back into the fold and elevated to proxy status.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity - Elminster, Halaster, The Simbul, and others.
  • Wizard Classic: Elminster follows in this venerable tradition.
  • The Worf Effect - Time and again - even Elminster was repeatedly used for this. There's Always a Bigger Fish. Always.
By the time we reached the outskirts of the city, one bear had already bolted into the brush, scrambling in the general direction of Anauroch as fast as his paws could take him. The other bear was whining like a whipped kitten, digging his claws into the ground and refusing to move. I had my arms around his neck and was trying to drag him forward when I heard something thunder overhead. A red dragon was roaring out of Myth Drannor, wings beating furiously, its face wrenched in stark terror! I didn't wait to see what was chasing it.
Lyra Sunrose, Elminster's Ecologies

Notes

  1. according to Volo's Guide to Cormyr, one notorious place keeps a giant spider to maintain "Spiderweb Room" popular among "adventuresome couples"
  2. proper nobles usually arrange parties for peers in their own estates
  3. from Wizards' site, free
  4. on Candlekeep
  5. in Realmslore article
  6. Elminster's Ecologies, # 1111
  7. at 1361 DR, born 1322 DR
  8. in Realmslore article
  9. from Wizards' site, free
  10. on Candlekeep