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FOR8 Pages from the Mages (2e)
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FOR8 Pages from the Mages (2e)

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Any rogue can craft a spell—but it takes a really reckless fool to write one down.

Thus, the wizard Elminster introduces the latest collection of wizardly lore from the Forgotten Realms campaign setting, includingthe following:

  • New spells from mages such as Daltim, Darsson, and Myrl
  • Fell creatures: the Tome Guardian, the Disenchanter, and the Scalamagdrion
  • Details of more than 40 spellbooks—appearance, history, the magic they contain, and what is known of the fates of their makers
  • And just for fun, Elminster's very own traveling spellbook!

"All this could have been avoided, of course. If the handful of heedful folk in the worlds would listen to me but a few moments more, much trouble could be averted—and, I suppose, much high adventure. Hmmm. Perhaps 'tis the doom of humans to always rush in heedless of the costs—and to open and read every old, crumbling book they find."

*****

Product History

FOR8: Pages from the Mages, by Ed Greenwood and Tim Beach, is a prestige-format Forgotten Realms book. It was released in November 1995.

Continuing the FORs (Sort of). From 1990-95, TSR published seven prestige-format "FOR" (Forgotten Realms) sourcebooks with black-bordered gloss-on-matte covers; each detailed elements of the world beyond what had been seen in the primarily geographic "FR"-series supplements. The first of these new supplements was FOR1: Draconomicon (1990). Though TSR discontinued the use of their module codes in 1994, it was easy to see that later books were part of the series, up through FOR7: Giantcraft (1995), because they matched the previous books in the series in both in cover design and content.

Starting in 1995, TSR also began publishing prestige-format Forgotten Realms books that didn’t have the traditional black-bordered gloss-on-matte covers. FOR8: Pages from the Mages (1995) was the first of these. You wouldn’t have thought it part of the FOR series; instead, it feels closer in content and style to later prestige books like Faiths & Avatars (1996). Nonetheless, TSR later denoted Pages from the Mages as the eighth book in the FOR series. Like its predecessors, Pages from the Mages went into considerable depth on a non-geographic element of the Realms—the spell books of the Realms, and the spells they contain.

Draconic Origins. The story of Pages from the Mages begins in Dragon magazine. Ed Greenwood first contributed to The Dragon #30 (October 1979); three years later, he was considering writing about spells. He'd always been intrigued by spells like "Melf's Acid Arrow" and "Tenser's Floating Disc" because, he has stated, they made him wonder about their origins: why they'd been created, who their creator was, and how they'd gained their name. He knew the meta-game reason, of course: They matched Jack Vance's naming convention for spells. However, he wanted to know more about their in-game history.

This led Greenwood to write "Pages from the Mages" for Dragon #62 (June 1982). It described four spellbooks, including notes on their appearance and their history. Greenwood purposefully revealed mysterious lore within these histories that would lead players to glimpse a larger world. Some of the books also contained new spells, with names like "Nchaser’s Eiyromancia." All told, everything about the books was detailed, so that a GM could pick one up and drop it straight into a dungeon.

"Pages from the Mages" was popular, and it soon became an occasional feature in Dragon, with a total of five articles running through Dragon #100 (August 1985). A few years later, it returned for some encores in Dragon #164 (December 1990) and Dragon #181 (May 1992). Bruce Heard even referenced Greenwood's articles in his own "Spells between the Covers" for Dragon #82 (February 1984)—an article about gathering libraries of arcane tomes.

The "Pages from the Mages" articles were important for another reason too, though: They brought Ed Greenwood's Forgotten Realms into the limelight. Greenwood sometimes referenced his campaign world in his Dragon articles, but the "Pages from the Mages" articles took that tendency to the next level. They were introduced by a never-before-seen wizard named Elminster, and the histories of the spell books gave more details of Realms history than ever before. When TSR was looking for a new campaign world in the mid-80s, Jeff Grubb remembered Greenwood's "Pages from the Mages" articles, and that's how the Forgotten Realms came to TSR.

From Articles to Book. In the 90s, TSR decided to turn the spellbooks Greenwood had created for his "Pages from the Mages" articles, plus more that he'd written for FR4: "The Magister" (1988), into a book. Tim Beach took on the project; he updated Greenwood's spells to AD&D 2e and then created some new books that incorporated other Dragon magazine spells and other new spells written by Beach.

Greenwood wasn't aware of the Pages from the Mages book until shortly before it was published, at which time he was asked to write the introduction.

Expanding the Realms. Pages from the Mages contains lots of Realms history, though most of it had previously appeared in Dragon magazine. "Just for fun," Elminster's Traveling Spellbook provides a detailed look at the spells of Fâerun's chief mage.

Future History. Two years later, Greenwood wrote Prayers from the Faithful (1997), a companion book that contains "holy books" for clerics. It was never officially listed by TSR as a "FOR" book, though, showing how arbitrary that category became post-1994.

About the Creators. Greenwood is, of course, the inventor of the Realms. While Tim Beach was putting together Pages from the Mages, Greenwood was probably busy with his "Shadow of the Avatar" trilogy of novels (1995), as well as assorted other Realms projects.

By 1995, Beach was best known as the author of Red Steel (1994), though he'd also written assorted Realms books over the years. Pages from the Mages was Beach's last major work published by TSR.

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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Product Information
Author(s)
Rules Edition(s)
Pages
128
Edition
1.0
ISBN
0-7869-0183-7
Publisher Stock #
TSR 9491
File Size:
53.08 MB
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File Last Updated:
December 03, 2013
This title was added to our catalog on December 03, 2013.