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Cloak & Dagger (2e)

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More than just powerful wizards, divine temples, and wise kings comprise the Realms. For every beacon of light there exists a shadow; and shadows conceal much. Those who work in secret wield much power in Faerun: Groups as diverse as the Harpers and the Zhentarim all live and work in the shadows of the Realms.

Here, for the first time, is detailed information on these groups' areas of influence, leaders, chains of command, methods, agents, and their recent activities and plots. Read about:

  • The schism that tears apart the Harpers
  • The bizarre details of the "Manshoon Wars"
  • The rise of Fzoul Chembryl, grand tyrant of Xvim the Baneson

This book also gives information on the Night Masks, the Knights of the Shield, the Iron Throne, the Shadow Thieves, and many more secret societies. Finally, Westgate - the nexus of many power groups, interests on the Sea of Fallen Stars - is detailed as never before.

Learn what goes on in the shadows of the Realms; learn the secrets they don't want you to know!

Product History

Cloak & Dagger (2000), by Eric L. Boyd, Sean K Reynolds, and Steven E. Schend is a supplement for the Forgotten Realms. It was published in June 2000.

Origins (I): Last Setting Standing. The late '90s were a bad time to be a D&D setting. Dark Sun, Lankhmar, and Mystara fizzled out in 1996, just before TSR's bankruptcy. The Arcane Age only lasted through TSR's final publications in 1997, then Wizards cancelling Birthright's final books after publishing a few in 1997 and 1998. Ravenloft and Planescape both continued strongly for a year or two after TSR's demise, but would then be converted into generic supplements for use in all D&D settings.

And then there were three. Oerth got a big revival with Greyhawk '98, but that faded away within a year, with only "The Scarlet Brotherhood" (1999) and various Return adventures following. One of them, Return to the Keep on the Borderlands (1999), showed how tenuous the setting was becoming; though it claimed to be a "Greyhawk Adventures" scenario, there were almost no background details, and fewer than that were correct! In other words, Greyhawk had already become D&D's default setting. Dragonlance did a bit better, with publications through February 2000. But that last book, Rise of the Titans (2000), marked the fall of Krynn at Wizards.

From March 2000 onward, there wasn't material for settings other than the Realms, except for the nolstlagic Returns. When Die Vecna Die! (2000) appeared in June, to bid farewell to Greyhawk, Planescape, and Ravenloft, even it had generic branding.

So the Realms was the last setting standing. And that's the trend that would continue into the D&D 3e era (2000-2007).

Origins (II): The Power Groups. Powers groups had been a defining feature of the Realms since its earliest days. Players of Ed Greenwood's original campaign talk abut groups like the Cult of the Dragon and the Zhentarim, both of whom showed up Greenwood's debut novel, Spellfire (1987). Azure Bonds (1988), by Kate Novak and Jeff Grubb, was another early novel focused on power groups, including the followers of Moander and the Fire Knives.

By the '90s, power groups had become ubiquitous in the Realms, with the "FOR" series (1990+) often portraying them, including the drow, the pirates of the Sea of Fallen Stars, the Harpers, the elves of Evermeet, the Seven Sisters, and the Cult of the Dragon. By the late '90s, power groups had become a common feature of major Realms sourcebooks, particularly Lands of Intrigue (1997) and Empires of the Shining Sea (1998) … which finally brings us Cloak & Dagger (2000), the first of a few books dedicated entirely to Forgotten Realms power groups.

Origins (III): A Changing Time. As the last Forgotten Realms 3e book, Cloak & Dagger is clearly perched on the edge of a big change. In fact, some of the characters in the book actually seem cognizant of that. When the Realms returned in 2001 with the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting (2001), the timeline would be advanced a full two years.

As part of this change, Wizards also took the opportunity to dropkick one of their more troublesome bits of Realmslore, the nine-book Double Diamond Triangle Saga (1998), which had been put together by TSR in their waning days. It was one of the few publications to feature one of R.A. Salvatore's characters without his approval, with Artemis wandering through the novels and being maimed while TSR was at war with some of their best authors. Salvatore told the publishers that this better be resolved, but the most troublesome issue with the Double Diamond books was that they jumped the timeline forward to 1377 DR — either severely constraining the future of the Realms or setting up major continuity errors. Around the time of the transition to 3e, the Wizards website began listing the Double Diamond books as "Apocrypha / Volo's Attempts at Fiction". This decision has been attributed to Cloak & Dagger author Steven Schend, as one of his last decisions before leaving Wizards. Ironically, his two later novels, Blackstaff (2006) and Blackstaff Tower (2008) would explicitly contradict the use of that character in the Double Diamond novels.

Though some of TSR's other settings have had numerous canon problems, the Double Diamond books are the only Realms novels to be mostly decanonized — though there are issues with Once Around the Realms (1995) as well.

Metaplotting Along. The metaplot of the Forgotten Realms has usually been driven by the novels, and particular by their Realms-Shaking Events (RSEs). The Threat from the Sea (1999-2000) was the most recent RSE, though it would soon be followed by Death of the Dragon (2000) and Return of the Archwizards (2001-2002).

However amidst those metaplot events lies Cloak and Dagger; author Schend says, "we'd hoped that C&D would shake up the status quo snow globe and rearrange some long-standing (and, to our minds at that time, stagnant) plots and put a new spin on them". Major metaplot events found in Cloak & Dagger include the beginning of the Manshoon Wars, the Harpers Schism, and the foundation of the Moonstars.

Exploring the Realms: Westgate. Although most of Cloak & Dagger focuses on a variety of organizations scattered across the Realms, there's also a geographical focus on Westgate, including a keyed look at the city.

Westgate has a long history in the Realms, going back to the lore-heavy "Seven Swords" article in Dragon #74 (June 1983). It was first mapped, alongside with information on the city and the Night Mask power group, in Forgotten Realms Campaign Set (1987). That was then expanded to two pages in Forgotten Realms Adventures (1990). However, Cloak & Dagger remains the best source on the locale.

Organizations of Note. Cloak & Dagger provides details on almost twenty power groups, with the following receiving special attention:

  • Aurora's Emporium is probably the most humorous group in this book because it's all about the publishers of Aurora's Whole Realms Catalogue (1992). They'd been mentioned here and there, such as in the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting (1993), but this was their first appearance as a detailed power group.
  • The Eldreth Veluuthra are a newly revealed elven organization, though their origins go back to Myth Drannor.
  • House Dlardrageth was a relative newcomer, making their debut as the fey'ri (or the demonfey) in "Hellgate Keep" (1998); following the events of 1369 DR, they were free to cause problems in many future supplements.
  • The Iron Throne merchants' alliance originated with the Forgotten Realms Campaign Set (1987). They've been a minor presence in many RPG books, but appeared more prominently in the Baldur's Gate (1998) computer games — though those events are not reflected here.
  • The Knights of the Shield are an evil group active mostly in Waterdeep and the west. They also date back to the Forgotten Realms Campaign Set (1987). Because of their presence in Amn and Tethyr, they further appear in FR3: "Empires of the Sands" (1988), Lands of Intrigue (1997), and Empires of the Shining Sea (1998). Their northern presence additionally places them in FR5: "The Savage Frontier" (1988) and peripheral to The North: Guide to the Savage Frontier (1996).
  • The Kraken Society was introduced as a thieves' guild in FR5: "The Savage Frontier" (1988) long before anyone knew their boss was a literal kraken.
  • The Night Masks are a criminal organization in the city of Westgate that first appeared in an eponymous novel, The Night Masks (1992), the third book in the Cleric Quintet by R.A. Salvatore. Although they returned in some RPG books in the '90s, their next major appearance was another novel: Masquerades (1995), by Kate Novak and Jeff Grubb.
  • The Rundeen are slavers of the Sword Coast. They were casually mentioned as foes in FOR4: Code of the Harpers (1993) and received much more attention in Empires of the Shining Sea (1999).
  • The Shadowmasters of Telflamm is a thieves' guild in that independent city-state. They debuted in "Pages from the Mages V" in Dragon #100 (August 1985), which describes the Red Book of War, and reappeared in that same form in the Forgotten Realms Campaign Set (1987). Though they were mentioned in a few later books, they may be the most minor power groups of this supplement.
  • The Shadow Thieves, yet another Thieves' Guild, this one with Waterdeep ties showed up in the Forgotten Realms Campaign Set (1987) and reappeared in early books like FR1: "Waterdeep and the North" (1987) and FR3: "Empires of the Sands" (1988), the latter describing Athkatla, their home city in Amn. More recently, they returned in Lands of Intrigue (1997).
  • The Tel'Teukiira are the Moonstars, Khelben Blackstaff's brand-new Harper's spin-off.
  • The Zhentarim are one of the oldest and best-documented power groups in the Realms, especially in Ruins of Zhentil Keep (1995) and "The Moonsea" (1995).

About the Creators. Software engineer Eric Boyd cut his teeth on a trilogy of deity sourcebooks for the Realms, but later moved on to other projects. Sean Reynolda was Wizards' lead designer for "Team Greyhawk" starting in 1998, but moved on to the Realms in 2000. Steven Schend wrote numerous Realms supplements in the late '90s, from City of Splendors (1994) to Skullport (1999).

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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Gary D August 15, 2017 10:50 am UTC
Just to check is all the text OCR and of good quality
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1.0
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This title was added to our catalog on August 15, 2017.