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FR6 Dreams of the Red Wizards (1e)
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FR6 Dreams of the Red Wizards (1e)

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The Red Wizards of Thay, as cruel and horrible as they are powerful, they have ruled their eastern realm for as long as any sage can remember. They can be powerful allies, or deadly enemies. The Red Wizards know the darkest secrets of the strongest magic, and will sell their skills to the highest bidder. Thay is a land of slavers and tyrants, of intrigue and murder, of danger and opportunity.

In this book, the government, personalities, economy, cities, people, and wilderness of Thay are described for an AD&D campaign of any size or level. Dreams of the Red Wizards, plus a map of Thay that can be added to the previously published maps of the Forgotten Realms.

Product History

FR6: "Dreams of the Red Wizards" (1988), by Steve Perrin, is the sixth book in the "FR" series of sourcebooks for the Forgotten Realms. It was released in November 1988.

About the Cover. The cover shows a creepy image of a red wizard spying on a woman. Who's that girl? She certainly looks familiar, but that's probably because the image is by Clyde Caldwell, one of TSR's most iconic artists in the time period. A best guess might be The Simbul, though her hair has a bit too much color if so.

Origins: Divers Hands. Designer Steve Perrin was handed Ed Greenwood's notes about Thay and the Red Wizards, and then developed them in his own direction. For example, the idea that the capitol city of Eltabarr was unmapped originated with Greenwood, but Perrin transformed that into the reality that mapping the city weakened a glyph imprisoning a demon (with suggestions from George MacDonald). Much of Perrin's work has survived into later editions, showing again how TSR's Forgotten Realms was the work of divers hands.

Continuing the "FR" Sourcebooks. "Dreams of the Red Wizards" was the sixth and final "FR" Forgotten Realms sourcebook produced during the AD&D 1e era (1977-1988). Like most of its predecessors, it focuses on depicting a single region of the Realms — though this book has more crunch than most of its geographic predecessors and also includes a couple of pages of players' information, which was an innovation for the line.

Expanding D&D. The crunch in "Dreams of the Red Wizards" is a lengthy listing of spells only available to the Red Wizards of Thay, which is a nice complement to the equally lengthy listing of Realms spells found in FR4: "The Magister" (1988), coauthored a few months earlier by Steve Perrin.

Expanding the Realms. The Red Wizards were first mentioned (perhaps) in "Pages from the Mages" in Dragon #62 (June 1982). There, Ed Greenwood mentioned "the Red Wizard of Alail Thong". More obviously, the Wizards appeared a year later in "Seven Swords" in Dragon #74 (June 1983) which referenced "Lauzoril of the Red Wizards of Thay", who are said to be enemies of the Harpers.

As a new locale for Forgotten Realms gaming, Thay was a bit farflung from the Sword Coast, which was the Realms' first locus of play. It lies in the eastern lands, beyond the Sea of Fallen Stars — requiring some effort to reach, even from the Dalelands. However, "Dreams of the Red Wizards" wasn't just about describing a faraway country. As Perrin says, the book was also intended "to show how events in Thay and the surrounding countries can interact with adventures set anywhere in the Realms, from Neverwinter to Skuld." In other words, the Red Wizards make great villains who could appear elsewhere.

Thay doesn't have an obvious real-world derivation like some of the Realms. The wizards rebelled from the Egyptian-based Mulhorand, while their occupied land is somewhat reminiscent of India. However the best parallel to Thay may actually be Stygia, an evil land from Robert E. Howard's Conan stories (1932-1936). And in case you're wondering why the Red Wizards are Red, Ed Greenwood says that they adopted the color to distinguish themselves when they were a junior order of sorcery in Thay.

Besides detailing the history, society, geography, economy, politics, religion, and personality of Thay, "Dreams of the Red Wizards" also broadly touches upon nearby lands such as Aglarond, Rashemen, and Thesk.

NPCs of Note. A number of NPCs appear in the book, the two most notable of which are Szass Tam (one of the rulers of Thay) and the Simbul (one of the Seven Sisters, though that's not mentioned here, and the ruler of Aglarond).

Both characters have appeared in numerous novels and other books over the years.

Future History. "Dreams of the Red Wizards" was the first of three major supplements to detail these eastern realms. The 2e Spellbound (1995) was the next, and it covered not just Thay, but also Aglarond and Rashemen. The 3e Unapproachable East (2003) then added Thesk. More recently, the final two Encounters adventures, "Scourge of the Sword Coast" (2014) and "Dead in Thay" (2014) made one of the very few adventure-based trips to Thay (after the Red Wizards caused problems on the Sword Coast). The adventures were even subtitled "Dreams of the Red Wizards".

Thay has also appeared in many novels. The most important are Red Magic (1991), The Crimson Gold (2003) and the Haunted Lands trilogy of Unclean (2007), Undead (2008), and Unholy (2009). The last three books bridged Thay between 3e and 4e, and are set in 1375 ST, 1385 ST, and 1478 ST.

About the Creators. Perrin may be best-known for his creation of RuneQuest (1978), but he also participated in the early history of the Realms, writing N5: "Under Illefarn" (1987) and coauthoring FR4: "The Magister" (1988).

About the Product Historian

The history of this product was researched and written by Shannon Appelcline, the editor-in-chief of RPGnet and the author of Designers & Dragons - a history of the roleplaying industry told one company at a time. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to shannon.appelcline@gmail.com.

 
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June 2nd, 2006
Very nice historical aspect of Thay, I used this on my server for Neverwinter Nights... www.moonlightandshadows.com<br><br> <b>LIKED</b>: The historical information<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: The very poor [...]
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Product Information
Author(s)
Rule System(s)
Pages
64
Edition
1.0
Publisher Stock #
TSR 9235
File Size:
26.65 MB
Format
Scanned image
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File Last Updated:
February 22, 2016
This title was added to our catalog on February 23, 2016.