[Realmspace] The Star Mounts and The Sea of Night

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[Realmspace] The Star Mounts and The Sea of Night

Post by Big Mac » Sun Apr 28, 2019 11:04 am

I've just found out that something that Jennell Jaquays put into FR5 The Savage Frontier kind of foreshadowed Spelljammer (in a way).

She created a range of mountains in the North that were named after stars in the Sea of Night. It's a shame this was not followed up in SJR2 Realmspace. I'm wondering what hooks might be made of this.

Here is what Forgotten Realms Wiki has on The Star Mounts:
The Star Mounts at Forgotten Realms Wiki wrote:Star Mounts

The Star Mounts were an impressive and forbidding range of peaks, located in the center of the High Forest. They were an inspiration for many fanciful tales and wild stories created by local troubadours and woodsmen of the North.

Image

Description

The mountains were very difficult to traverse. The overland terrain was incredibly steep and no known passes extended into its interior.[citation needed] In fact, the center of the mountains contained an elevated valley that was hidden away from the surrounding world.

Snow and inhospitable weather that continued year-round made climbing hazardous, in what was an already remote location. It was impossible for creature less powerful than a dragon to approach the Star Peaks safely by air, due to incredibly high winds which were constantly whipping across the peaks.

Some rumors told that, during the peaceful nights among the Star Mounts, strange flashing lights appeared that attracted or banished dragons and other flying creatures that dared to fly nearby. According to other rumors, the elves created mysterious crystals that illuminated the mountains, while some unknown, sinister constructs emitted beams of light when they were exposed to the moonlight.
Can anyone confirm that there were no known passes into the interior of the Star Mounts?

The mysterious lights sound fun. I was wondering if they could be beacons (lighthouses?) that help spelljamming ships to land in the valley. But it sounds like the high winds would make that dangerous.

Is there anything in FR5 to expand this valley?
The Star Mounts at Forgotten Realms Wiki wrote:Inhabitants

Some lonely peaks that stood on the mountains' top had a sharp cusp shape. Many people thought that these protuberances were the dwellings of powerful wizards and formidable sorcerers. The vast mountains contained Onthrilaenthor, an abandoned Eaerlanni settlement.

Somehow, aarakocras had manged to bypass the peaks' strong winds and built their nests on them not to far from where the dragons found shelter in nearby caves.
There are supposed to be aarakocras in Wildspace. War Captain's Companion gives them their own ship type. But there isn't really much canon to back them up. They are more of a late insertion into the setting that should have gotten more background. Do you think that an aarakocra spelljamming port would be appropriate for this area?
The Star Mounts at Forgotten Realms Wiki wrote:Geography

The geography of the lands surrounding the Star Mounts were noteworthy. The land north of the range was unusually flat for the most part, while the southern reach was gnarled and extensively twisted.

Both the Unicorn Run and the Hartblood River sprang from the Star Mounts, before they snaked through the surrounding High Forest.
I've not got many thoughts from this, but it does mean that there should be water sources up in the mountains.
The Star Mounts at Forgotten Realms Wiki wrote:History

The curious nature of the surrounding terrain and the sudden abruptness of the mountain range, seemingly out of place in the middle of the High Forest, has caused some to speculate that the Star Mounts were not naturally formed. If that was the case, their creation dated back to a time before elven recorded history.[citation needed]

The earliest recorded names for these mountains have been attributed to the elves of Earlann, who named them for the stars in the northern skies. While Bard's Hill, Mount Vision and Hunterhorn possessed the rough translation of their elven names, Far Peak, Mount Journey and Shadowpeak were still occasionally referred to by their original names, respectively Y'tellarian ("The Far Star"), Y'landrothiel ("Traveller's Star") and N'landroshien ("Darkness in Light"). It was believed these names hinted at some larger mystery that lay within the range.

Despite the dangers of traversing the Star Mounts, the elves of Earlann were known to have mined nearly-pure veins of iron and nickel within the Star Mounts.

In the 14th century DR, the ancient green wyrm Elaacrimalicros awakened from within his lair and consumed most of the mountains' aarakocras.
Can anyone confirm the speculation on the Star Mounts being unnatural? What does the canon say about that? (Could that fit in with things like the creation of the Malatra: Living Jungle region?)

There are a lot of names here. It's a bit confusing when designers do that. But if I understand correctly we have:
  • Y'tellarian ("The Far Star") = Far Peak = Bard's Hill,
  • Y'landrothiel ("Traveller's Star") = Mount Journey = Mount Vision and
  • N'landroshien ("Darkness in Light") = Shadowpeak = Hunterhorn
I get the thing about archaic names being modernised, but I'm a bit confused on why Far Peak would also be called Bard's Hill, Mount Journey would be called Mount Vision and Shadowpeak would be called Hunterhorn. But I wonder if there is a chance to have a back formation on the three stars (Y'tellarian, Y'landrothiel and N'landroshien).

I'm not sure how you can get a "Far Star" in a crystal sphere (as they would all be the same distance from the centre of the crystal sphere), but a "Traveller's Star" could probably be something that would help you navigate across the land...or maybe something that could help you find a natural portal in the shell of Realmspace.

"Darkness in Light" could perhaps be a star that has a dark middle. Perhaps it could look a bit like a solar eclipse, when it is approached. If N'landroshien was a small "circular star" instead of a bright dot, it might help people navigate around the edge of the crystal sphere.

If the three stars were put together, in a line, it's possible that a line drawn through the Far Star, Darkness in Light and the Traveller's Star might lead directly to a crystal sphere portal (giving the elves a reason to namecheck the three when they name mountains on Toril).

Alternatively, maybe Darkness in Light could actually be a crystal sphere portal that is smack in the centre of a star, where you can fly into the centre and get to the Phlogiston, but if you hit the edges and touch the star stuff, that is very bad news for the ship.

Has anyone read this section of FR5 The Savage Frontier? Have you seen anything that could be raided for a Realmspace campaign?

Is there anything in the canon that clashes with my tinfoil hat theories? ;)
David "Big Mac" Shepheard
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Re: [Realmspace] The Star Mounts and The Sea of Night

Post by night_druid » Sun Apr 28, 2019 2:55 pm

I've found a post or two on Candlekeep explaining the Star Mounts by Ed himself. IIRC it involved a handful of the original gold elves (from Faerie) conducted all manner of research there, becoming insanely powerful and involved dragons. I'll see if I can hunt down the relevant posts.
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Re: [Realmspace] The Star Mounts and The Sea of Night

Post by Big Mac » Sun Apr 28, 2019 7:34 pm

night_druid wrote:
Sun Apr 28, 2019 2:55 pm
I've found a post or two on Candlekeep explaining the Star Mounts by Ed himself. IIRC it involved a handful of the original gold elves (from Faerie) conducted all manner of research there, becoming insanely powerful and involved dragons. I'll see if I can hunt down the relevant posts.
I didn't find the post by Ed Greenwood, but I did find this reply by Steven Schend in the Questions for Forgotten Realms Designers topic:
Steven Schend at Candlekeep Forum wrote:
Prince Forge of Avalon at Candlekeep Forum wrote:Steven & George, THANK YOU, every little bit of info is appreciated!!!! And those ideas are great!

OK, well if I'm lucky enough to keep you you guys thinking, my next question would be: The Star Mounts, what exactly is at the top with all those crystals and "strange" lights?

The reason I ask is because my campaign in the future will involve the HF ALOT and I see the place as one of the great mysteries of the Realms, in and of itself! With a TON of oppurtunities for some truly EPIC play[:D][}:)].
Hmmm... Star Mounts, huh?

Last I recall, I'd attempted to exterminate the aaracockra and winged elves up there with a hungry green dragon, but successive lore seems to have saved them. [}:)]

Don't recall ever having done that much with it, and my gut reaction to reading about lights atop a mountain said to go back and watch CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND. [;)] And hey, if you want to make it a beacon and landing port for spelljammers, that's entirely your call.

Lemme go grab a source and reread, then unleash ideas as they come...Aha--my original draft of the High FOrest material I wrote for THE NORTH ought to be a decent start....


Abandoned mines within the Star Mounts...did we ever say which civilization or clan used these?

Elaacrimalicros, my "eater of bird people," is the eldest of three green dragons living in the High Forest and she lairs high up in the Star Mounts; is she the mom of the others or the mate or is she sleeping away unawares of them at all? And while she does sleep for decades at a time, she can be awakened if lots of activity happens around her caves...hint, hint, and warning to adventurers poking about or climbing mountains....[}:)]

There's still that schism among the centaurs of the HF, though I doubt they'll have much to do with the mountain....though wasn't there a centaur type of dwarf or gnome crossed with mountain goats back in 1E or something? Just a stray idea....

Of course, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that the elves have lived in the HF for ages, and it'd be within reason to find remnants or hints of Aryvandaar or Siluvanede or Eaerlann all around and within the Star Mounts...

The Endless Caverns along the Unicorn Run link up with caves within the Star Mounts and the Underdark, so much can be made of this possibility...and don't forget it's the current lair of Grimnoshtrando the Riddling Dragon (from ELFSONG, if memory serves). It's also been about 15 years since anyone heard from Skimmerhorn of Secomber, the ranger who set out to eradicate encamped drow and illithid slavers within these caves....

<<Located in the heart of the High Forest, this steep-sloped cluster of mountains ascends higher than even the tallest peaks in the Spine of the World. It's possible to see the snow-capped mountain tops and the slopes which sparkle like cut diamonds from as far away as the Stone Bridge or the mountains north of Loudwater.>>

Hmmm...such a small collection of mountains yet they dominate the landscape. (For those of us in the Pacific Northwest, think of 3 Mount Rainiers...). Makes you wonder if the elves of Aryvandaar didn't use High Magic or something to push them up higher than they might normally? After all, if these were normal, you'd expect to see more foothills and a range to account for their presence, wouldn't you? [;)]

There could also be some hints and ideas in their names--Y'tellarien (the Far Star), called Far Peak, Y'landrothiel (Traveler's Star), called Mount Journey, and N'landroshien (Darkness in Light), called Shadowpeak.

Can't find my print or PDF copy of THE NORTH right now, so I'll just quote the last paragraph in the material I have at hand for one last idea/hint/adventure possibility...

<< Huge crystals dot the surface of the mountains, many as large as small houses. There are several uncharted ruins in the mountains with walls made of fractured crystal shards. When moonlight strikes the crystals, it creates webworks of reflected light across the surface of the mountain. On a small internal peak at the heart of the Star Mounts, during the full moon, the crystals cover this peak with patterns of light and this is rumored to either generate a gate to another plane or the light has the ability to resurrect anyone laid within the cairn of standing stones at its top.>>

What those crystals are made of is unknown, though I'd bet dollars to donuts that they'd be great at holding magic. Unfortunately, as we've not heard of major forays (ala a Gold Rush style flood) toward mining those crystals and they've survived there for millennia, one must assume that some power or situation keeps them well protected. [:)]

Steven
I didn't realise there were flying elves up there, as well as aaracokcra. I quite like winged elves.

The "Close Encouters" option, with spelljamming ships landing, might be a way to get avarials into the Sea of Night.
David "Big Mac" Shepheard
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Re: [Realmspace] The Star Mounts and The Sea of Night

Post by night_druid » Sun Apr 28, 2019 8:03 pm

Ack, it was the Moondark Mountains that I was remembering, not the Star Mounts. How could I get the two confused? ;)

My impression is that the Star Mounts were created by a massive meteor impact hitting at a steep slant, causing the land to buckle. I did find an Ed post that describe the mountains as reminiscent of Appalachia near Pennsylvania (Ed must really love Pennsylvania; the mountains north of Cormyr are describe in the exact same fashion). Given the history of the area, I'd say the Star Mounts might be an excellent location for a *really* ancient, and lost, citadel of Aryvandaar, likely holding all manner of devices and wards. Most likely they were dabbling in Spelljamming at the time, testing devices stolen from the Elven Fleet. Perhaps even playing into the legends of the Four Lost princes who (supposedly) escaped into wildspace. Perhaps even a few elf liches linger there still, building weapons of war for the return of Aryvandaar's lost royal house.
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Re: [Realmspace] The Star Mounts and The Sea of Night

Post by ripvanwormer » Sun Apr 28, 2019 8:12 pm

Far Peak would be an excellent place to put Firestorm Peak. "Far" could refer to the Far Realm.

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