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Spellbound (2e)

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The treasures and excitement of the Unapproachable East invite the courageous, yet strangers are never welcomed!

This campaign expansion for Forgotten Realms explores the eastern regions of Thay, Aglarond, and Rashemen.

Product History

Spellbound (1995), by Anthony Pryor, is a boxed supplement for the Forgotten Realms. It was published in June 1995.

About the Title. Though you'd never guess it from the name, Spellbound is a geographical sourcebook. TSR was clearly aware of the issue because they added a teeny subtitle: "Featuring the Realms of Thay, Aglarond, and Rashemen".

About the Cover. So what do you put on the cover of a boxed supplement covering three different countries? How about an iconic person from each. That appears to be Szass Tam, the Thay Zulkir of Necromancy, to the left and perhaps a masked witch of Rashemen (possibly Lady Yhelbruna) to the right. By the process of elimination, that puts the Simbul in the middle, though she looks different from her other depictions. The issue may be cover artist Fred Fields' use of models for some of his characters. In fact, you'll notice that the Simbul of Spellbound looks similar to the Alias of the novel Masquerades (1995). It's likely that his wife was the model for both.

Origins: The Newest Realms Box. Following the release of the Revised Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting (1993), TSR began publishing chunky geographical sourcebooks covering more material and more acreage than ever before. FRS1: The Dalelands (1993) was the first of this new breed of sourcebook.

Spellbound (1995) upped the stakes even more, because it was the first boxed supplement to cover several different realms, here Aglarond, Rashemen, and Thay. It would be followed by three similar releases, covering a huge swath of forgotten realms between them: The North: Guide to the Savage Frontier (1996), Lands of Intrigue (1997), and Empires of the Shining Sea (1998).

Adventure Styles: Encounters. The first adventure in Spellbound, "Throne of Deceit", is largely an episodic encounter adventure, with the players faced with one challenge after another.

Adventure Tropes: On the Road. Journeys along roads are a common methodology for creating episodic encounters. Such a journey can be found in the early parts of "Throne of Deceit", along "The Road to Rashemen". The adventure then repeats the trope with "The Road to Tharfenhal".

Adventure Styles: Locales. The second adventure, "The Runes of Chaos", is more locale based, with open maps for a farm and then for a couple of underground delves.

Expanding D&D. What a difference five years makes. Early 2e Realms boxes like The Horde Barbarian Campaign Setting (1990) had nary a rule in them. Spellbound instead adds (a little) crunch to the setting with a trio of character kits for Thay and Rashemaar. New spells and new magic items fill out the crunch (but were much more common for the Realms, thanks to Greenwood's long-standing interesting in them).

Eras of the Realms: 1368 DR. The Year of the Banner.

Exploring the Realms: Agalarond. Aglarond was first explored in about two pages of the one and only Forgotten Realms Newsletter (Summer 1988), including a hand-drawn map by Ed Greenwood. A page on the land then made its way into FR6: "Dreams of the Red Wizards" (1988). The one other major source on Aglarond was FOR6: The Seven Sisters (1995), which of course featured its ruler, The Simbul. Now, Spellbound offers considerable detail on the land, with particular attention on its largest city, Velprintalar.

Exploring the Realms: Rashemen. The realm of Rashemen had gotten even less attention prior to Spellbound. There was about a page for it in FR6: "Dreams of the Red Wizards" too. Again, there's considerable detail in Spellbound, particularly for the capital city of Immilmar.

Exploring the Realms: Thay. Thay was the one country that had previously received an entire sourcebook, which was of course FR6: "Dreams of the Red Wizards". Here, Thay's largest city, Bezantur, gets the longest description of any city, including over 60 keyed locations.

Exploring the Realms: Thesk. Thesk is another country of the Unapproachable East. It doesn't receive any source material here, but the "Throne of Deceit" adventure includes a trip across the realm.

Artifacts of Note. A magic sword named Hadryllis is rather casually handed over as loot at the end of "Throne of Deceit". It's an actual artifact that gets a more comprehensive description in Champions of Valor (2005).

NPCs of Note. Spellbound is full of notable NPCs from these countries. Thay details many of its Zulkirs, including of course Szass Tam. The Simbul isn't statted up for Aglarond, presumably because she was in The Seven Sisters, but you will find The Masked One and others. Finally, Rashemen features a number of witches, including Lady Yhelbruna.

About the Creators. Author Anthony Pryor wrote extensively for TSR from 1991-1996. 1994 was Pryor's major year of Forgotten Realms work. He contributed to five different Realms projects, most notably including the entire Marco Volo trilogy of adventures (1994). Then, his work continued into 1995, with Spellbound.

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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File Last Updated:
July 19, 2017
This title was added to our catalog on July 18, 2017.