The Abyssal Plague - is it a crossover link?

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The Abyssal Plague - is it a crossover link?

Post by Big Mac » Tue Apr 10, 2012 1:32 pm

After reading The Abyssal Plague: Design & Development article by James Wyatt (and realising there is a free Nentir Vale novel called The Gates of Madness) I'm wondering how the Vast Gate (and the events of The Abyssal Plague) might connect Nentir Vale to other campaign settings.

According to the above article, the Vast Gate was first mentioned in The Gates of Firestorm Peak, so that suggests that the Player's Options location from 2nd Edition may be incorporated into Nentir Vale* (or perhaps that the Vast Gate has moved from whatever setting that was to Nentir Vale). Hopefully the answer to that is in the free novel!

* = The concept of this novel series retconning the Player's Option products from 2e is a pretty big concept, as it would add a lot of new — or rather old — canon to what is known about Nentir Vale. So I would really love to know if the two settings are now one, or if The Abyssal Plague plot is linking the world of Player's Options to Nentir Vale.

But even if the free novel provides a link between Player's Options and Nentir Vale, the story of The Abyssal Plague goes on to visit both Forgotten Realms and Dark Sun. So what sort of linking mechanism are they using?

Is this a new link, that is connecting all three campaign settings to Tharizdun’s prison — in the same way that the Mists of Ravenloft can connect to any campaign setting? Or does The Abyssal Plague just have a bunch of unconnected stories that happen at the same time?
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Re: The Abyssal Plague - is it a crossover link?

Post by Havard » Tue Apr 10, 2012 2:24 pm

I think with the release of Tharizdun, lots of other evils follow, perhaps spread by these Gates and each world will have to fight on its own to defend against them. That was my gist of it anyway...

:)

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Re: The Abyssal Plague - is it a crossover link?

Post by ripvanwormer » Tue Apr 10, 2012 2:41 pm

The backstory of the Vast Gate in The Gates of Firestorm Peak is basically that this ancient group of elves ("the Elder Elves") were experimenting with planar travel and eventually created a portal ("the Vast Gate"), linked to the power of a comet (the Dragon's Tear), which allowed them access to hundreds of different worlds, even worlds far removed in space and time. Implicitly, this is how elves spread across the cosmos and ended up in all the various campaign settings. But the elven curiosity went too far, and the Vast Gate touched the Far Realm (which is beyond space and time, beyond the multiverse itself as it is commonly understood), letting untold horrors into the Prime Material Plane (gibbering mouthers, gibberlings, pseudonatural creatures, brain collectors, etc.). Ever since then, when the comet shows itself in the sky (every 27 years), the Vast Gate opens again, and more horrors leak through.

The backstory of the Living Gate in 4th edition is that three curious gods (in unthinkably ancient times, before the creation of the elves, before Tharizdun went mad, long before Dawn War with the Primordials) found a Living Gate in the Astral Sea. They peeked through, beheld the Far Realm, and swore never to open it again. Later Tharizdun would be corrupted by the shard of evil created by the obyriths. He returned to the Living Gate during the Dawn War and opened it, letting the horrors of the Far Realm pour into the known multiverse for the first time. Ioun and Pelor shattered the Living Gate, and the shards of the Gate became the shardminds. Psionic powers awoke for the first time as part of the multiverse's immune response to the Far Realm's horrors. Tharizdun was imprisoned in part so that Ioun and Pelor could hide their own responsibility for secretly opening the Living Gate in the first place - without their help, Tharizdun would never have known about it.

The fact that something called the Vast Gate exists in 4th edition doesn't imply that Firestorm Peak is in Nentir Vale (nor does it necessarily imply the 4e backstory of the Vast Gate is identical to the 2e one). The point of the Vast Gate is that it can touch any world. The cultists in Gates of Madness don't open the Vast Gate from Firestorm Peak, but from the plane of Pandemonium.
So what sort of linking mechanism are they using?
As described in that article, the Vast Gate itself is the link. The Voidharrow escaped through the Vast Gate to the various campaign settings. If Tharizdun is imprisoned in Nentir Vale's cosmology, the Vast Gate allows him to send his Voidharrow to other cosmologies, such as those of Dark Sun and the Forgotten Realms.

There may be more too it than that, since Sword of the Gods indicated that Tharizdun had attempted to establish a cult in Faerun over a hundred years before, and he apparently didn't need the Vast Gate to do that.
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Re: The Abyssal Plague - is it a crossover link?

Post by Big Mac » Tue Apr 10, 2012 2:58 pm

Thanks Havard.

Searching a bit more I found a page called The Abyssal Plague and Other Big Stories where James Wyatt says this:
James Wyatt at the WotC website wrote:Goals of the Abyssal Plague

As I said last year, the Abyssal Plague was conceived as an event that would serve two purposes: to bridge our separate novel lines, and to create a shared experience among novel readers and RPG players.

The first was primarily a business objective, though it was also an interesting creative exercise: How do we create an event that ripples across the worlds of D&D while being true to the spirit of those worlds? We didn't want to create a story that had characters flitting from one world to another, let alone one that brought famous characters from our different worlds together (Drizzt meets Tanis Half-Elven! Elminster duels Raistlin!). Such crossovers, I think, dilute the identity of both worlds and start to ruin what's special and unique about them. That's how we ended up with a story that starts in a place beyond the worlds and sends out an infectious agent of sorts, rather than having characters passing through portals to cross the worlds.

The second was primarily a creative goal. There's a lot of overlap between folks who read our novels and folks who play our games, but that overlap is not complete. We wanted to give the people who aren't in the overlapping part of the Venn diagram—people who are fans of D&D in one of its expressions—something that they could discuss with other D&D fans regardless of which expression they like. In other words, we wanted to give novel fans and RPG fans something to talk about. So in addition to the seven novels featuring the Abyssal Plague, we've featured the plague and plague demons in Monster Vault: Threats to the Nentir Vale, in two Creature Incarnations articles (one featuring paragon-tier demons and one presenting epic threats, and of course in the current season of D&D Encounters.

So whether you're a fan of D&D novels, Forgotten Realms novels, or Dark Sun novels, or a player of D&D Encounters or your own home campaign, you've got plenty of resources for learning more about the Abyssal Plague.
So it looks like there will be information in Nentir Vale, Forgotten Realms and Dark Sun products, but no planewalking adventures.

I wonder if that means that FR and DS will experience The Abyssal Plague, but that it will both start and end in Nentir Vale. :?

PRE-POST EDIT: New post by Rip…
ripvanwormer wrote:The backstory of the Vast Gate in The Gates of Firestorm Peak is basically that this ancient group of elves ("the Elder Elves") were experimenting with planar travel and eventually created a portal ("the Vast Gate"), linked to the power of a comet (the Dragon's Tear), which allowed them access to hundreds of different worlds, even worlds far removed in space and time. Implicitly, this is how elves spread across the cosmos and ended up in all the various campaign settings. But the elven curiosity went too far, and the Vast Gate touched the Far Realm (which is beyond space and time, beyond the multiverse itself as it is commonly understood), letting untold horrors into the Prime Material Plane (gibbering mouthers, gibberlings, pseudonatural creatures, brain collectors, etc.). Ever since then, when the comet shows itself in the sky (every 27 years), the Vast Gate opens again, and more horrors leak through.
Wow! Just wow!

I've always thought that comets were something that had not been utilised enough in Spelljammer. This one is pretty outstanding.
ripvanwormer wrote:The backstory of the Living Gate in 4th edition is that three curious gods (in unthinkably ancient times, before the creation of the elves, before Tharizdun went mad, long before Dawn War with the Primordials) found a Living Gate in the Astral Sea. They peeked through, beheld the Far Realm, and swore never to open it again. Later Tharizdun would be corrupted by the shard of evil created by the obyriths. He returned to the Living Gate during the Dawn War and opened it, letting the horrors of the Far Realm pour into the known multiverse for the first time. Ioun and Pelor shattered the Living Gate, and the shards of the Gate became the shardminds. Psionic powers awoke for the first time as part of the multiverse's immune response to the Far Realm's horrors. Tharizdun was imprisoned in part so that Ioun and Pelor could hide their own responsibility for secretly opening the Living Gate in the first place - without their help, Tharizdun would never have known about it.

The fact that something called the Vast Gate exists in 4th edition doesn't really necessarily imply that Firestorm Peak is in Nentir Vale (nor does it necessarily imply the 4e backstory of the Vast Gate is identical to the 2e one). The point of the Vast Gate is that it can touch any world.
Right. So once the Vast Gate comes into existence it then has always existed and can always have existed everywhere in every multiverse? That is effect coming before cause! :cool:
ripvanwormer wrote:
Big Mac wrote:So what sort of linking mechanism are they using?
As described in that article, the Vast Gate itself is the link. The Voidharrow escaped through the Vast Gate to the various campaign settings. If Tharizdun is imprisoned in Nentir Vale's cosmology, the Vast Gate allows him to send his Voidharrow to other cosmologies, such as those of Dark Sun and the Forgotten Realms.
I suppose, from Tharizdun's point of view, if he can escape to the Forgotten Realms cosmology or the Dark Sun cosmology, he would be better off than being imprisoned in the Nentir Vale cosmology.
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Re: The Abyssal Plague - is it a crossover link?

Post by ripvanwormer » Tue Apr 10, 2012 3:20 pm

Big Mac wrote:I wonder if that means that FR and DS will experience The Abyssal Plague, but that it will both start and end in Nentir Vale. :?
Yes, I think so.
Right. So once the Vast Gate comes into existence it then has always existed and can always have existed everywhere in every multiverse?
In the sense that it can open into other times, I suppose so. It's rooted beneath Firestorm Peak, which is where the Elder Elves created it. But in Gates of Madness the cultists open it from the plane of Pandemonium, not from Firestorm Peak (or even on the same world as Nentir Vale). It's only ever called the LIving Gate in Wyatt's novel, so the only reason to connect it at all with the 2nd edition Vast Gate is the "Design and Development" column you linked to.
Gates of Madness wrote:Jaeran’s voice jolted him out of his shock, and he forced his attention back to the gate. The image stabilized again, showing the gleaming streets of a celestial city. A moment later it shifted to a range of brooding mountains, then a castle with soaring spires, its walls fluttering with blue pennants.

“Tharizdun!” he muttered through his pain. “Ender and Anathema. Eater of Worlds.”

With each second, the gate revealed a new world to his eyes. The Chained God, once free, would tear through them all like a bulette scattering anthills when it burrowed up from the earth. He would consume them, and each life he extinguished would feed the furnace of his power.

“Undoer,” he grunted. “Come and wreak destruction.”

“Wreak destruction,” Jaeran echoed, shouting through his own agony.

“Destruction,” whispered a third voice. It was all around, and in Albric’s mind. It might have been his own voice. He recognized it as the voice of the Voidharrow—That’s its name, what Tharizdun called the Progenitor. Tharizdun doesn’t know. Doesn’t know? Tharizdun knows all! Jaeran screamed and staggered away from the gate, clutching his face. He dug his fingertips into his empty eye socket, trying in vain to pull the Voidharrow out.

The gate flickered again, showing him a dozen worlds in the span of his glance. A dozen worlds that would all be destroyed by the coming of the Chained God.

“Let them burn,” he growled, and he bent his will to steady the gate once more.
The deva Demascus, who is one of the main characters in Gates of Madness (which is set in the Nentir Vale cosmology), becomes the protagonist of Bruce Cordell's novel Sword of the Gods, set in the Forgotten Realms. Demascus is pushed through the Vast Gate at the end of James Wyatt's story and ends up stranded on Toril.

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Re: The Abyssal Plague - is it a crossover link?

Post by Havard » Tue Apr 10, 2012 3:29 pm

Big Mac wrote:Thanks Havard.

Searching a bit more I found a page called The Abyssal Plague and Other Big Stories where James Wyatt says this:
<snip>
Thanks for the link. Yeah, that was pretty close to what I had undertood :)

So it looks like there will be information in Nentir Vale, Forgotten Realms and Dark Sun products, but no planewalking adventures.
The way I read it those settings were simply examples. While their may not be specific info on the Abyssal Plague's effect on Planescape or Spelljammer locations, there is no reason you cannot use the Abyssal Plague with them. The Abyssal Plague will affect all settings.
I wonder if that means that FR and DS will experience The Abyssal Plague, but that it will both start and end in Nentir Vale. :?
I think the Plague starts as Wyatt says, outside of any setting, and also probably ends there, but that each world is affected by it.


Right. So once the Vast Gate comes into existence it then has always existed and can always have existed everywhere in every multiverse? That is effect coming before cause! :cool:
???
It's just a Gate that is connected to all places in tthe multiverse.
I suppose, from Tharizdun's point of view, if he can escape to the Forgotten Realms cosmology or the Dark Sun cosmology, he would be better off than being imprisoned in the Nentir Vale cosmology.
Tharzidun is trapped in the Abyss. It can exist in any cosmology, and in either of them its not a place where Tharizdun wants to be.

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Re: The Abyssal Plague - is it a crossover link?

Post by ripvanwormer » Tue Apr 10, 2012 4:00 pm

Havard wrote:I think the Plague starts as Wyatt says, outside of any setting, and also probably ends there, but that each world is affected by it.
The story starts in Nentir Vale, in a sense. The shard of the Living Gate is discovered within the ruins of Bael Turath near Nentir Vale, taken from there to Sigil and from Sigil to Pandemonium. The Vast Gate is opened from Pandemonium. The latter two planes (Sigil and Pandemonium) are the 4th edition core interpretations of those planes, which are slightly different from how they were interpreted in 2nd and 3rd edition.

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Re: The Abyssal Plague - is it a crossover link?

Post by Big Mac » Tue Apr 10, 2012 4:18 pm

ripvanwormer wrote:
Big Mac wrote:Right. So once the Vast Gate comes into existence it then has always existed and can always have existed everywhere in every multiverse?
In the sense that it can open into other times, I suppose so. It's rooted beneath Firestorm Peak, which is where the Elder Elves created it. But in Gates of Madness the cultists open it from the plane of Pandemonium, not from Firestorm Peak (or even on the same world as Nentir Vale). It's only ever called the LIving Gate in Wyatt's novel, so the only reason to connect it at all with the 2nd edition Vast Gate is the "Design and Development" column you linked to.
Hmm. So no canon link between the two "gates" (as of yet). Maybe that is to come in one of their novels.

I actually think that the link being via Pandemonium is a better theme than a direct link. I think that allows for the plot to be used with the Planescape Campaign Setting more easily.
Gates of Madness wrote: A dozen worlds that would all be destroyed by the coming of the Chained God.

“Let them burn,” he growled, and he bent his will to steady the gate once more.
I wonder if we will actually see the dozen worlds in The Abyssal Plague stories.

I'm suprised they are not doing something with Eberron. :?

It is kind of a shame that the "one setting per year" concept never really came to anything as that might have meant that The Abyssal Plague would connect to more places. Mind you, they have done Manual of the Planes (even if it is a bit different) so perhaps they will bring the plague to Sigil. :?
ripvanwormer wrote:The deva Demascus, who is one of the main characters in Gates of Madness (which is set in the Nentir Vale cosmology), becomes the protagonist of Bruce Cordell's novel Sword of the Gods, set in the Forgotten Realms. Demascus is pushed through the Vast Gate at the end of James Wyatt's story and ends up stranded on Toril.
Aha! A crossover character! I knew someone would find a tenuous link somewhere. ;)
Havard wrote:
Big Mac wrote:So it looks like there will be information in Nentir Vale, Forgotten Realms and Dark Sun products, but no planewalking adventures.
The way I read it those settings were simply examples. While their may not be specific info on the Abyssal Plague's effect on Planescape or Spelljammer locations, there is no reason you cannot use the Abyssal Plague with them. The Abyssal Plague will affect all settings.
Nothing seems to be happening to Eberron…yet. :?

Unless you used the time-travel concept, it would be hard to use the Abyssal Plague in the 3e version of Realmspace. 4e's Dark Sun seems to be closer in time to 3e's Dark Sun, but that is not within a crystal sphere that has been discovered, at the time of the 2e-era.

Adding this into Spelljammer (unless it was a 4e-era SJ game) might take a bit of thought. The same probably applies to Planescape.

It might be easier for someone playing a game set on a single campaign setting, as they don't really need to worry about cross-over implications (or connect their setting to Nentir Vale). To be honest, I'd be a bit disapointed if I was involved in a SJ or PS game that had a campaign arc based on The Abyssal Plague, but no interaction with Nentir Vale. To me it would be like eating an ice cream cone that had no ice cream on top. :lol:
Havard wrote:
Big Mac wrote:I wonder if that means that FR and DS will experience The Abyssal Plague, but that it will both start and end in Nentir Vale. :?
I think the Plague starts as Wyatt says, outside of any setting, and also probably ends there, but that each world is affected by it.
I suppose that all depends on if you think that the cosmology is part of a setting. I have always wondered where a setting ends and where Planescape begins.
Havard wrote:
Big Mac wrote:Right. So once the Vast Gate comes into existence it then has always existed and can always have existed everywhere in every multiverse? That is effect coming before cause! :cool:
???
It's just a Gate that is connected to all places in tthe multiverse.
See Ripvanwormer's post above where he said that the Vast Gate could connect to "even worlds far removed in space and time". From that I was thinking that the Vast Gate could take elves to both the Blackmoor of Mystara's past and the Mystara of the present and/or the the Spellplague era of Toril or its Arcane Age eras.

However, he is saying that the page I linked to is the only thing that connects the Vast Gate and the Living Gate, so it might turn out that The Abyssal Plague is based upon, but not directly connected to The Gates of Firestorm Peak. :?
Havard wrote:
Big Mac wrote:I suppose, from Tharizdun's point of view, if he can escape to the Forgotten Realms cosmology or the Dark Sun cosmology, he would be better off than being imprisoned in the Nentir Vale cosmology.
Tharzidun is trapped in the Abyss. It can exist in any cosmology, and in either of them its not a place where Tharizdun wants to be.
[/quote]

So this dozen-world-destroying plot is not going to get Tharzidun out of his prison? Seems a bit pointless if it is not going to help him.
ripvanwormer wrote:The latter two planes (Sigil and Pandemonium) are the 4th edition core interpretations of those planes, which are slightly different from how they were interpreted in 2nd and 3rd edition.
I really should get around to discussing the 1e-3e cosmology vs the 4e cosmology on the Planescape forum. I wonder how much of this can be explained with Ben Kenobi logic.

Maybe I'll pick up the 4e Manual of the Planes* if the rumor of early 4e books hitting the cheap bookstores is true.

* = As well as most of the Nentir Vale books.
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Re: The Abyssal Plague - is it a crossover link?

Post by ripvanwormer » Tue Apr 10, 2012 4:41 pm

Big Mac wrote:So this dozen-world-destroying plot is not going to get Tharzidun out of his prison? Seems a bit pointless if it is not going to help him.
Tharizdun hopes it will, eventually. His problem is that the Voidharrow has an agenda of its own, which doesn't necessarily have anything to do with Tharizdun's agenda of escape. The Voidharrow has convinced Tharizdun that it's the Dark God's ally, but this may not in fact be true; the Voidharrow is really only interested in spreading itself across the worlds, and Tharizdun destroying everything may be counter to its interests.
Gates of Madness wrote:What has happened?” The Chained God’s form became a dark whirlwind of fury, scattering the Progenitor into crystalline mist. “You betrayed me!”
“Betrayed,” the Progenitor whispered, its echoes surrounding him.
“They would have freed me!”
“They freed us,” the whispers replied. “Now we spread, your will and my substance. The Voidharrow.”
The Chained God began to see. “Like a plague,” he said.
“Plague . . . A plague . . .”
“Your substance and my will.”
“Our will.”
The Chained God’s fury diminished, and he reached his thoughts to his old dominion where the Voidharrow had taken root. Yes, his will was present there—the merest echo of his thoughts and desires. It was more of a foothold in the universe he’d left behind than he’d ever had, though.
“It is enough,” he said.
“Like a plague.”
In related news, apparently there will be a new crossover event in 2012, Rise of the Underdark. As part of this event, a sequel to Bruce Cordell's Sword of the Gods will be published (in ebook format only): Sword of the Gods: Spinner of Lies will continue the adventures of Demascus, the deva from the Nentir Vale cosmology now trapped in the Forgotten Realms cosmology.

More interestingly: "Marsheila Rockwell's Skein of Shadows will take place in another D&D campaign world, Eberron, but will lead up to the opening of a portal in the Underdark that connects Eberron to the Forgotten Realms."

This would give us our first canonical link between the Eberron and Forgotten Realms settings. However, the Forgotten Realms wiki says that the author has stated on Twitter that that novel only takes place in Eberron; the portal opens later.

Here's what the author said on Twitter:
Marsheila Rockwell wrote:Dear WotC product description writers: Khyber is analogous but NOT equal to the Underdark. You're gonna get me murdalized by angry FR fans.
The book is set prior to the opening of the portal so, no. Much as I'd love all the FR fans to buy the book, I don't want them picking it up thinking it's something that it's not. That way lies very pissed off readers, alas.
Even so, it sounds like a link will be made, which Paul Westermeyer may find useful (or may not, since it's all 4th editiony and therefore not so Spelljammery).

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Re: The Abyssal Plague - is it a crossover link?

Post by Big Mac » Tue Apr 10, 2012 5:19 pm

Evil stabbing evil in the back? Maybe they should take this story to Dragonlance. ;)

Seriously, thanks for all the background information. It's been very instructive.

I saw something about Rise of the Underdark. I'll be interested to see what this crossover thing does. I didn't notice a mention of Nenir Vale on the page I saw, which is kind of why I'm concerned that WotC might have dropped Nentir Vale. But it is interesting to see they are doing a Menzoberranzan Campaign Setting. That will be the second FR-based campaign setting they've done. A lot of people complained that the 3-book model was not enough for Forgotten Realms, and it looks like the listened. (I don't think I've ever seen a drow thing elevated to the concept of a campaign setting before — it is usually a "dangerous place to visit". I'll look out for that and see if I can skim through it.)

I thought the Mind Flayers of Thoon (from 3e's Monster Manual V) already gave us a canon link between Eberron and Forgotten Realms (as the Far Realm faction is in both places). (But I think that Paul would be hesitant to do anything with Eberron, as it is not available in 2e. I'm still hoping to see a retro-conversion of Eberron.)
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