The Lords' Alliance on the western coast, a group of city-states including Waterdeep and Neverwinter that have banded together for mutual defense.
The Ten Towns of Icewind Dale as well, though until roughly the 1360s they fought among themselves for fishing rights as often as they fought their local enemies. The scrimshaw trade with points south eventually enriched them to the point where they stopped feuding for the most part.
The Heralds are not as much "secret" as "low profile" organization dedicated to tracking bloodlines and register and police coats of arms. Harpers for a time were a branch of Heralds before split due to different agenda, but retained good relations. Other than that, Heralds are backed up by lots of strong magic, and obviously there are a lot of very powerful people interested in their work, and a few deities whose portfolio align with this so closely (especially Oghma and Siamorphe) their followers are always eager to help such an inherently blessed work... "which is why nobles or brigands have to be shrieking mad before they will even consider using someone else's badge or full coat of arms on their armor, to deceive witnesses as to who's doing nasty things whilst wearing that armor".
And Man Grew Proud - Most famously Netheril, but also Imaskar and Jhaamdath. As a subnote, some of the humans who survived the fall of Netheril fled to the nearby Elven city of Ascalhorn...where they proceeded to show they hadn't learned their lesson one bit by daring to consort with demons and devils. End result, creation of fey'ri, corruption of Ascalhorn into Hellgate Keep, and fall of Eaerlann.
Animated Armor - FR is the home of a construct known as "helmed horror". There are variants, of course. Unlike a golem, it needs to be possessed by a mortal, so methods of procuring the "pilot" vary, e.g. War Wizards in Cormyr give some criminals an option to get some hands-on action (with the body in a high-security prison, some magical conditioning and removal of possible "sensitive" memories), less law-abiding artificiers may kill and compel, and it's not like a badly crippled warrior can't occasionally volunteer for this.
Balance Between Good and Evil - The reason why various evil entities haven't taken over the world, and why various good entities don't control the world.
Barbarian Hero: Uthgar Gardolfsson, who raised an army, destroyed a corrupt mageocracy, and united several towns and settlements under his rule. Eventually he was killed in battle against a giant, but he was such a badass that the god of battle, Tempus, raised Uthgar to godhood after his death.
the nobles of Cormyr—including the royal Obarskyrs—were notorious for having many bastard offspring. Most of these turnshields, as they were called in polite company, were sent away [...] Some became skilled artisans loyal family retainers, or even "heirs in reserve". But too many became coinless wastrels wandering distant realms as forgotten kin, hating their noble connections and without the means to reap revenge.
King Gareth Dragonsbane of Damara is an epic-level paladin and cleric of Ilmater. His magics are divinely given and tied to him remaining Lawful Good, and in the course of gaining the throne he helped drive out an occupying army from neighboring Vaasa's Sorcerous Overlord.
Also, three of the Seven Sisters, all of whom are Chosen of Mystra and powerful sorceresses, ruled realms as these. Alustriel Silverhand (Chaotic Good) spent 134 years as the High Lady of Silverymoon before stepping down, then was chosen as ruler of the Confederation of the Silver Marches two years later, and in both cases her rule proved a boon to the whole region. Meanwhile her sister Alassra is Chaotic Neutral but ruled as the Witch-Queen of Aglarond for decades, fighting hard to keep the country from being conquered by neighboring Thay. Meanwhile Laeral Silverhand is the wife of Khelben "Blackstaff" Arunsun of Waterdeep and though she doesn't actually rule the town (it has a council of lords rather than a single ruler), she is heavily involved in its running.
Big Bad: The Rage of the Dragons, The Time of Troubles, The Shadovar, et al.
Ed Greenwood: Part of my writing goals have been to underscore the following things: "do-gooders" often do more harm than good, for the best of motives (Elaine's also been playing with this one); 'good' to one party is not 'good' to another (the old saying, "for one man to gain freedom, another must lose it"); and the best meddlers are those who can see farthest, not the brute-force-right-now brigade (which is what most PC parties of necessity are, and therefore their punishments/reward are immediate). One postscript I almost forgot: with Elminster in particular and all of the Chosen, Steven and I (at least) are delving into "how insane do you go from living so long with godly power and gods messing with your mind?" Everything El and the other Chosen do should be read in this light; they're NOT sane. I've been hinting at this for a long time, but you have to catch the hints (like the good/happy endings, this was a Code of Ethics thing, which is why we can't show villains poisoning, or succeeding, or telling you their detailed plans that someone in the real world might copy or claim as inspiration, etc.).
Blood Magic - Mostly elven, mostly forgotten, partly forbidden, sometimes suicidal, usually quite impressive. 'Blood Dragon' is a vengeance/last stand spell requiringthe caster's death that sends at the target a big, nearly unstoppable, flesh-dissolving magical construct. 'Bloodstars' turns seven droplets of the caster's blood into sharp projectiles that explode if they hit and draw blood.
Cartesian Karma: The game had a lot of this, including Laeral Silverhand donning a relic of the local evil death-god and catching a bad case of artifact possession. Of course, as a semidivine being herself, she recovered after the crown was destroyed, but people threw suspicious glances for some time. Eventually this died down to lame taunts about bad luck with headgear from a political opponent, though.
Elminster Ecologiesappendix II is narrated by a rather grumpy druid, so the approach is rather simple, and not quite unreasonable:
Bara: More than once have I come upon some mess caused by adventurers only to have them tell me that they couldnt prevent an incident's occurrence because their mage was "under the control of an ancient and malevolent artifact of evil". If you must come to the High Moor and you must hunt treasure there, be careful. Check things for curses before you pick them up and play with them. Being mind-controlled doesnt give you free reign to come in and muck up the region I protect.
Chest Burster: Phaerimms reproduce like some wasps. They paralyze the subject with a sting, then inject an egg; the larva consumes the victim from the inside out.
Church Militant - paladin orders. Large ones are also much more inclined to slip into Well-Intentioned Extremist routine than individual paladins. Danilo Thann once stated they're nightmare incarnate, though he's not too picky or easily scared, and admires paladins one by one. Several Lawful churches are rather militant themselves. Of course, in case of Tempus followers the warfare is the whole point, but they tend to participate in other people's wars rather than wage their own.
As Chansrin (who accompanies the Watch when bored, hoping for a chance to hurl spells) put it, she remains in Scornubel because
All the adventure in Faerun will come to me!
Hill's Edge. It sits between the Zhentarim of Darkhold, the Free Traders of Westgate, Lords' Alliance and Harpers' headquarters — as a trade route / weaponsmithing town no one wants to turn it into war zone, but there's a lot of hard kicking under the table, up to High Priestesses of Lliira and Cyric (allied with Harpers and Zhents respectively) waging a cold war for the status of the town's spiritual Queen Bee. The climate is harsh and common local sport is monster-hunting. The net result is that an average guy walking down the street is at least 4th or 5-th level fighter — that's while in Death World of Dark Sun "commoners" had to be tough enough that adventurers start at 3-rd level.
As to the "Cool" part, skyships undoubtedly look great and raise Halruaa's reputation to the skies, but are mostly kept at home for a reason. While their levitation system is a big magocracy's state secret, its maneuverability is capped by a magic equivalent of ballast cisterns shown in FR comics and (as Mystara sources point out) sail skyships can't go to the wind without weather control magic, which adds its own limitations. They also aren't much cheaper than a minor helm which is less reliable in the air, but can be slapped on anything and still travel to other planets.
Cool Horse - Never a shortage of this. After all, there are three regions full of horse nomads or semi-nomads plus multiple horse-breeding centers famed over half of the continent.
Horse of a Different Color - Drow ride wall-climbing lizards, duergar ride spiders, Far Hills dwarves ride giant bats, sea elves ride giant seahorses, some humans ride hippogriffs or griffons, Shadovar ride vaserabs (lean and mean pterosaurs). Then there are more rare variants, such as dire volwes. On the Great Glacier, one tribe has remorhaz cavalry. Unique cases cover just about everything capable of carrying a humanoid.
The Commandments - It's unreasonable to expect standards in a boiling pot of imported, adopted and emerging cultures following several pantheons. But at least paladins generally agree on "Paladin's Virtues" from Quentin's Monograph — though differ in priorities and interpretations.
Corpse Land: The "Battle of Bones" area, named after an event that changed it forever. Due to drought and expanding Anauroch desert, a lot of goblinoids (more than a quarter million combatants) had to migrate, humans and allies (more than half of that) were determined to stop them in a convenient pass and much slaughter ensued.
Corrupt Corporate Executive - Merchants band together all the time, openly or secretly, and as often as not don't care much whether they act decently, or even legally. So merchant cabals include mafia-like ones like Men of the Basilisk, or Rundeen who set pirates against their rivals and dabble in slave-trade.
Ed Greenwood: It has been said that most merchants die not of lawbreaking or lack of coin but of running afoul of a cabal—one they belong to, two or more they belong to that end up having conflicting aims or activities, or just one they happen to be in the way of.
There are groups such as Iron Throne or Knights of The Shield that outwardly (even for their own low-ranking members) look like "yet another strong merchant group", but on the inside are more fiendish. Sometimes, literally.
Cut Lex Luthor a Check - Thay has Researcher and Imperialist parties. Imperialists prevailed and led conquests, constantly failing mainly because everyone knows this is what they're trying to do and are constantly on guard against them. After several failed campaigns, the Imperialists' charismatic leader got disillusioned and switched sides, another affiliated zulkir was slain (The Simbul's Gift), and Researchers with their notion that war's bad for business naturally won. Red Wizards of Thay started selling them magic items. Not only making scads of cash, but making the other nations dependent on them.
A few red dragons more greedy than agressive use their iconic Breath Weapon to get long contracts as living furnaces. They constantly receive quality food, trickle of gold into the hoard (which given dragons' life expectancy adds up to a decent pile) and at least some awe — and not only risk-free, but with extra protection for the lair.
But vampires have helped travelers and battlefield survivors. Liches have trained, advised, or chatted amiably with adventurers. Skeletons have marched out of crypts in besieged cities to snatch up children — their descendants — and bear them to safety. The great paladin Ralgorax, the "Sword of Tyr"...
There's a Faerūnian proverb black as a black opal", meaning sort of darkish, but not really black (or in figurative sense, evil) at all.
Dead Man Switch: Setting various contingency spells to one's death is such an obvious solution that there's a special kind of undead ('Blazing Bones') created when a spellcaster protected with such magics is killed by fire while casting something. Also, dragon magic includes 'Death Matrix' spell, which does nothing until the dragon is dead, then explodes in an inferno of scales, bones, flesh and dragonbreath — oh, and it's unaffected by normal dispel.
One can take divine rank by deicide, but it's assumed that this very act requires a help of another deity (e.g. Finder was presumably sponsored by Tymora) in normal situations. In the Time of Troubles gods presumably could be killed by mortals on their own, but the deaths of Bhaal and Myrkul involved powers of Mask and Mystra respectively, and ascension explicitly involved an affirmation by Ao after the deed.
In general, the many groupings of gods in the setting are interminably at war with each other and/or with the denizens of the fiendish planes. The gods of knowledge battle the gods of destruction, the gods of justice battle the gods of tyranny and corruption, everybody hates the orcish pantheon, etc.
The conflict between Selune, goddess of the moon, and Shar, goddess of darkness, goes all the way back to the creation of Toril. Among other things it resulted in the creation of Mystryl, the original goddess of magic.
1358 DR, the Year of Shadows, is best known as the year of the Time of Troubles or the Godswar. After Bane, Bhaal, and Myrkul stole the Tablets of Fate from Ao the Overgod, Ao banished every god in the whole pantheon to the surface of Toril until the Tablets were recovered. The various avatars continued to battle each other both in person and through intermediaries, and several were killed.
Tempus, the god of war, and his proteges Valkur and the Red Knight are all arrayed against Garagos, the six-armed incarnation of savage bloodlust (and former god of war in the Netherese pantheon before he was displaced by Tempus and went really crazy with the bloodlust). This one's interesting because Tempus, being one of the most powerful deities in the Realms, could explicitly stomp Garagos flat fairly easily if he wanted to, but for a War God he's a fairly decent guy and isn't interested in absorbing bloodlust into his portfolio (he only views war as worthwhile when there is peace to contrast it with).
The Seldarine, the elven pantheon, all battle the Dark Seldarine, the drow pantheon.
Divine Ranks - Literally called that in game materials, but mortals in the world aren't really aware of them, nor does it matter much.
The Dreaded: The Simbul, aka Witch-Queen of Aglarond aka Scourge of Thay used to cause mindless panic in Red Wizards' ranks, due to a tendency towards killing them. Zhentarim weren't in that much of a trouble but eventually came up with curse "go hunt Elminster" after tried enough that even they learned how this usually ends.
Eldritch Abomination - A few local monsters are borderline cases. Phaerimm, parasitic "spell-grubs". Sharn - even weirder, but mostly benign ones, trying to keep Phaerimm in check (and sealed them to begin with), usually don't mess with anyone else even if invited to and repay if they think they owe to someone.
Also the Time of Troubles, which was the excuse for the AD&D 2nd edition changes back in the day.
Enemy Civil War - The Zhents hate the Netherese (Shade), Cyric hates Bane, The Red Wizards hate both (not to mention each other), and the Netherese hate everyone. Cult of the Dragon raids Zhents, who retaliate. Applies to most Underdark denizens as well, especially phaerimm. Who also hate Netherese. And this feeling is reciprocated.
Even Evil Has Standards: Followers of the deity Malar, who hunt people For the Evulz, are forbidden to kill the young and pregnant. They also have a holiday where they pledge to provide for widows and orphans and such over the winter, and if someone actually wins the High Hunt they usually get a boon or other prize of some kind.
Everyone Calls Him Barkeep / Only Known by Their Nickname: The goddess Red Knight deliberately keeps her pre-ascension name a secret. The same goes for the second Mystra even while she was human; "Midnight" was her nickname and few besides Cyric and Kelemvor know her birth name was Ariel Manx (she gave it to Kelemvor to pay for his services, and Cyric overheard).
Evil Redhead: Some depictions of Fzoul Chembryl. In Shadowdale, a pre-ascension Cyric calls him out right before shooting him by yelling "Red hair!"
The Fair Folk - Distant and historical in 1st-3rd Editions. A prominent part of the planes in 4th.
False Flag Operation - In the Dales, for a time Lolthite drow raided locals just to provoke retaliation against local Vhaeraunites. With human factions, it's rather hindered on a large scale by the Heralds. Also, if a living wizard chose a personal sigil, an attempt to misuse it provokes a whole bundle of curses from Mystra and Azuth (unpleasantness ranging from minor mental damage to apparition of a hand shacking its finger at the offender and exclaiming "falsely done!" at random intervals).
Fantastic Drug - The "cheeeese". Works only on halflings — for everyone else it looks, smells and tastes like an extremely disgusting cheese, but that's all. Appeared in a Very Special Episode of FR Comics, where Foxy who was hooked on it before thought he can afford to taste a small piece once. And passed most of the issue in a mix of out-of-body experience, flashbacks and horrid hallucinations, ending with a comforting sermon from their recently recovered alcoholic paladin.
Aurora's Whole Realms Catalogue offers (with limitations) Luiren Spring Cheese, a mild version that has effect "similar to strong wine" on halflings and is eaten as "aperitif" (no strong intoxication or side effects from doses less than 1/2 lb). And apparently less repulsive to humans — at least, can be made palatable in right recipes.
Some humans are inclined to it; many powerful species deem everyone else inferior; but in pure xenophobia elves beat everyone around more often than not. Theirs is the "honor" of forming both the church of Shevarash dedicated mostly to hatred of the Drow and Eldreth Veluuthra — an elf supremacist group dedicated to the proposition that humans are vermin to be eradicated from Faerūn. Of course, there was also the Elite Guard — Gold Elves who deem even Moon Elves inherently unworthy... Still, the Black Archer's followers sometimes work with non-elves, Eldreth Veluuthra sometimes work with Drow (some Vhaeraunites), and the assassination of King Zaor greatly ashamed most Gold elves.
Shevarash himself, on the one hand, preaches hatred, but on the other, has the clear purpose of proactively defending elves from their archenemies (unless or until Shar will succeed in corrupting him, that is). He expanded the list to illithids and more; conversely, he's in peace (if uneasy) with Eilistraee. Of course, just how much this affects their followers in the field is an open question: obviously, the prime reason to become a "drow-hunter" is indiscriminate vengeance, the oath sounds simply "until the last drow is dead", and Sword Dancers tend to be converted Lolthites — even more flinchy than before and for all their good intentions not half as nice as they'd like to be (The Seven Sisters and Silverfall shows this side).
The Drow are just as haughty, but mostly hate everyone equally (except holy/unholy wars) starting with their kin; due to their extreme pragmatism, traders work fine with humans, illithids, duergars, deep gnomes or whatever.
The Golden Dwarves of the East Rift believe themselves to be superior to most races, even other dwarves, and look down particularly on creatures of an abhorrent origin. They however possess a very positive opinion of humans, impressed by the role they have carved into the world for themselves.
Explicitly, if very obscurely, averted for Unther and Mulhorand, who (before the Spellplague, anyway) looked like blatant counterparts to Mesopotamia and Egypt... but they are the descendants of slaves taken from another world, and buried in all the still technically canonical fluff the setting has acquired over the years is a confirmation that that world was Earth.
Fantasy Gun Control: By decree of Gond, god of craftsmen, gunpowder physically doesn't work. He does allow limited amounts of smokepowder, an alchemical substitute, to exist in the hands of his church. The Thayans also have some very clumsy cannons that use liquid propellant and aren't scalable to man-portable size.
Fictional Document - at least Volo's guides and Aurora's Whole Realms Catalogue are supposed to be actual books printed in the Realms. Some others, like Elminster's Ecologies, are based on in-world texts to a lesser degree.
"Quentin's Monograph" (a treatise on the nature of alignment and paladinhood by a retired paladin), known only in excerpts.
Friend to All Children: The god Helm was usually known as an impassive stickler for the rules, but he had a soft spot for children. There's been in-universe speculation that he lost a loved one—who might have been his child or young sibling—which served as his Cynicism Catalyst (it's canon that he lost a lover in the Dawn Cataclysm, but there's nothing confirmed about a child).
Gambit Pileup - whole organizations like the Cult of the Dragon, Zhentarim, Red Wizards and suchlike all try to snake or claw their way to top via large-scale schemes, which practically ensures they clash with each other when least expected. Word of God states that sometimes Zhents rolled their Idiot Ball due to being used as Unwitting Pawns by Thay and Malaugrim.
Ed's player: aboleths [...] if run as Ed does, wherein they lurk unseen behind the scenes and work through manipulated, unwitting mind-influenced (not controlled; that'd be far too unsubtle) agents, whilst also mentally eavesdropping on PCs or anyone else delving too closely into their operations... THEN they become fun indeed. Especially if they tangle with illithids or alhoon trying to do the same thing. A campaign can become conspiracy-theory-hell for PCs!
Ed Greenwood: "One cannot truly feel the Divine Dance of Eilistraee PROPERLY except as a female, and so her (still very rare, few, and generally secretive about it) male priests must spend some time as a female (not just for the duration of a ritual, but they must do some everyday living as a female)."
Getting Crap Past the Radar - There sure were a lot of brothe—er, festhalls, filled with pretty prosti—er, dancing girls in the 2nd Edition Realms.
"Festhalls" is a catch-all category covering a wide range of entertainment. Typical ones combine "escorts" with dancing scene and restaurant, i.e. more like a "night club", but variations range up to "somewhat decadent high-ish society club", The Matchmaker agency and/or the main concert hall.
God - Ao's boss makes His only appearance thus far in the Avatar Trilogy.
God's Hands Are Tied - Gods cannot act against their portfolio at all (Oghmanote god of knowledge in Avatars cycle stood on a razor-edge when he hid a location of the pile of misinformation, and Mystrilnote god of magic presumably was unable to prevent the casting of Karsus's Avatarnote a spell used by a mortal to become the god of magic, with disastrous results), and the rules limit them even in withholding their boons.
Gods play by the rules, understanding that breaking them is ultimately to everyone's detriment. With a few exceptions like Cyric — which is why he's called mad, after all.
invoked The original Mystryl was Chaotic Neutral, her successor Mystra was Lawful Neutral, then she was killed by another god and replaced with a Neutral Good mortal who ascended to her office and found the hard way she's bound by the same rules. So she allows everyone equal acess to the "weave" (which controls magic) she controls, including those of 'Evil' alignment.
Contrasting with the Shadow Weave, where people who attempt to use it without worshiping the controling goddess usually go insane.
God Is Evil - Every god (even the "good" ones) forced Kelemvor to return to holding the souls of every single mortal creature hostage in order to keep their power intact (see one above).
Kelemvor tried to claim all petitioners without patron "his by default" — as Walinda noted (Finder's Bane), outside of an united pantheon it wrecks the power balance. He didn't propose other variants not involving the Wall.
Go Mad from the Revelation: Played with—priests of Leira, former goddess of deception and illusion (before Cyric killed her with Godsbane, Mask's sword avatar), were forbidden from using the spell true seeing or any magic item which produced a similar truth-telling effect. If they did, they would be driven irrevocably mad.
Good Guy Bar - The World Serpent Inn mentioned in several sourcebooks was built in its own demiplane by an archmage from Toril, Arcane and Illithid as a neutral ground when Sigil turned out to be too violent and inconvenient for quiet business and rest. Not only is it connected to many worlds, but is accessible to powers, and some gods visit it to relax and chat with creatures they deem interesting. It's a Good Guy Bar since no one wants to annoy peacefully grazing deities, and some clients in a common room can turn out to be gods on a tea-break. And even if there aren't any, The Bartender is an avatar himself — if some god just likes to meet new people and thinks it's funny, why not?
Götterdämmerung - Also known as "Karsus's Folly", the only incident of reaching godhood through the spellcasting. While borrowing the divine status from a deity doesn't look like a safe endeavour as it is, the guy's worst mistake was choosing the goddess of magic, which left her choice of killing them both immediately or dying together a bit later and leaving the world without useable magic at all. Thus most powerful magic became impossible or dangerous to use and The Magocracy Karsus tried to save was utterly destroyed.
Great Big Library of Everything - Candlekeep, a repository of all human knowledge. It has at least one backup in a pocket dimension that's closer to this trope.
The Hecate Sisters - The drow pantheon's three goddesses are Eilistraee (called the Dark Maiden), Lolth (called the Dark Mother), and Kiaransalee (a goddess of the undead whose priestesses are called Crones).
Hero Secret Service - Harpers are generic meddlers, but there are also personal hero-centric organisations, like Moonstars (Khelben "Blackstaff" Arunsun, Mystra's Chosen) and Soft Claws (Zundaerazylym "the Laughing Wyrm", ancient steel dragon).
Hidden Elf Village - Evermeet, Evereska. Cormanthor before it became Myth Drannor. Also, Teuveamanthaar in the High Forest, although it was hidden out of self-preservation (from the demons of Hellgate Keep) rather than any sort of moral judgment or rejection of the rest of the world.
Skuld where residences of Mulhorandi pantheon's manifestations are located. Menzoberranzan, the sacred city of Lloth/Lolth from the start (named after her prophet and the city's founder Menzoberra the Kinless). Athkatla is a pilgrimage site for followers of Waukeen — itself being nicknamed "the City of Coin" and it's marketplace (the size of a good stadium and providing nearly anything) called "Waukeen's Promenade".
Honor Before Reason: Taken to a divine level in "The Trial of Cyric the Mad". Cyric is put on trial and threatened with destruction because his insanity makes him a threat to the stability of the pantheon. He makes no secret of the fact that he intends to have the Cyrinishad read into evidence. The Cyrinishad is a book of epic propaganda telling the highly-sanitized story of Cyric's mortal life, enchanted by Cyric himself to brainwash anyone who hears its words from start to finish one of his worshippers, even gods. The pantheon's greater gods serve as Cyric's jury and would have no choice but to hear the Cyrinishad if he introduces it, and so pull out all the stops to keep the book hidden from his worshippers. They fail. Thus, when Cyric's most worthy follower shows up at the trial with the book, all Heaven and Hell break loose, with half the gods ready to destroy the mortal and each other before being bound to Cyric's will. Tyr, God of Justice and the trial's judge, forbids them to interfere. To his reasoning, Cyric faces death and has the right to present any evidence he may to prove his innocence; to him, a pantheon of brainwashed deities bound in service to a Mad God is a small price to pay to avoid violating the sanctity of his trial.
Hybrid Monster - Fey'ri and Tanarukk, hell-touched Elves and Orcs, respectively.
Illegal Religion: Several countries in Faerun outlaw the worship of Talos (not to be confused with the deity from The Elder Scrolls series), the god of storms, destruction and natural disasters.
In Name Only - Many 2e sourcebooks, that had 'Forgotten Realms' on the cover, but weren't very setting-specific or relevant.
Irrevocable Order: Happened in Elfsong — Elaith politely informed the would-be victim that he changed his mind on the issue, but the executing agency isn't confirmed to be called off. And then thought a little more and chose to fight the hitmen he sent.He's funny like this sometimes.
Kudzu Plot - So many plot lines that were mentioned and alluded to over the course of the years never materialize into anything. Roleplaying purpose and Shared Universe nature of setting add up to this. The same for interesting secondary characters — see also Characters as Device — whether authors want it to be this way or not.
Elminster: And now, look ye, that rascal, rogue, and jackanapes Ed of the Greenwood's been at it again—passing on precious lore (words I spoke in confidence, mind ye) to folk at TSR, who've promptly published it for all to view. Has he no shame? (Pages from the Mages, introduction)
Living Shadow - even aside of standard D&D undead, and transformation spells. Some (mostly shadow mages) get infused with essence of Demiplane of Shadows as a comfortable form of semi-undeath. Advanced shadow magic can be used to animate one's shadow as an independent sentient creature (and usually promptly make it less independent). Shadow is defined as "it is what you aren't" and remembers everything it could see during the life of those who cast them, so they tend to be personal terror for "owners". When Melegaunt Tanthul had to do it, spell's subject wasn't happy at all, even though his shadow was rather good guy.
Lost Colony - Shade was an evil one of these, to the Empire of Netheril
Luck Manipulation Mechanic: During 2nd Edition certain clerics of Tymora, the goddess of luck, have the granted power to re-roll a die once per day. Similarly some clerics of Beshaba, goddess of misfortune, have the ability to force enemies to re-roll their dice.
Massive Race Selection: Played straight, even though most of the rarer ones are geographical isolates, no one — including a sage — shows any strong reactions when the first saurial appears. Mindulgulph Mercenary Company alone recruited anything capable of working for reward from grippli and kenku to treants and beholders to thri-kreen and loxo.
Shaar has Loxo — humanoid elephants with two trunks. Thri-kreen live there too, supposedly also on Anchorome continent and a few colonies elsewhere, reaching near Phlan.
Modified by the sheer extent of the Fantasy Counterpart Culture aspect of it: Maztica is not, as the Mayincatec trope would have it, generic ancient South American culture — the various cultures found on the continent are far too close to the actual cultures of Central and South America for that (even the Faerūnians start acting more like European counterparts the moment they show up!).
There was Netheril trilogy and campaign lo-o-ong ago. It has flying enclaves and Magitek; it just wasn't mixed with "modern" Realms.
The world might have been on the verge of discovering gunpowder, but it had been in the technological equivalent of the Middle Ages for well over several millennia already (the first elven kingdoms were established more than twelve millennia before the Age of Humanity), so Medieval Stasis still applies. Cultures changed, which is a partial aversion, but that's that about it.
Mind Probe - Generally varies from "uncommon, but well-known" to "not as uncommon as locals would like to believe"; the common term for less subtle techniques is "mind-reaming". Of coursem there's enough of other methods, whether more invasive or more sneaky (such as use of induced dreams to steal memories).
Moral Guardians - The Zhentarim and occasionally other evil organizations began to be portrayed as Keystone Kops, at times, because evil was not allowed to prevail.
Mordor - Thay (though the worst part is ruled by the nicest of them), Zhentil Keep... Played with in Netheril's case—Phaerimm reduced the entire region was an incredibly harsh magic-blighted desert. Now that the ensemble Big Bad Princes of Shade came along, it's quickly grown back to warm, temperate grasslands and forests.
Several well-known mages in cities up and down the Sword Coast sell complex spell disguises (for 1,000 gp per layer, with the simplest having eight layers and most running to at least double that) for use by wizards who dare not attend a Mage Fair as themselves. (Wizards of any age or accomplishment seem to acquire enemies, or at least unscrupulous rivals, as easily as most of us breathe.)
The Necrocracy - Skullport, named after its unusual rulers — flying skulls. Also, Thay as of 4E after the takeover by the lich Szass Tam, its long-time Zulkir of Necromancy.
No Biochemical Barriers - As for diseases, sometimes played straight, but should be averted by in-depth DM's. For instance, some poisons don't affect dwarves, and while there are some pandemics that affect things along the lines of "all mammals", there are plenty of specific, endemic diseases.
Canonically, many poisons are selective. Varrakas and orvas affects all mammals. Huld works on non-humanoids, and even then with exclusions. "Dwarfbane" is self-explanatory. Witchweed only affects arcane casters.
From Ed Greenwood's answers: most critters are immune to rabies, but some of them still can be carriers, 'which is why human lore insists orc and goblin bites carry poison'.
In a novel, one idealistic lady tried "humans but not elves" substance on a wrong target, though by this time she could get more wise to his little quirk (Chosen of Mystra are immune to poisons)... if she'd bothered with data acquisition for merely "unwashed human beast".
Lady Laurlaethee Shaurlanglar: ...That moonwine you drained oh so elegantly was laced with enough srindym to kill a dozen overambitious human magelings.
Elminster Aumar: Well, that's certainly blunt enough. Being a thirsty beast — and one of course quite devoid of proper manners, I wonder if I might have some more of this excellent wine. I believe the srindym improves it somewhat.
As of the 4e transition, Dragonborn. They're even functional, apparently.
Odd Job Gods - as one of the greatest minds in the Multiverse put it,
Ilsensine: There are so many gods worshiped in that world it's hard to keep track of them all. We wouldn't be surprised to find they have a god there with dominion over the tableware and ale mugs. (Finder's Bane)
Ed Greenwood via THO: ALWAYS remember that except for fanatics, clergy, or the oppressed (such as, many drow in cities dominated by Lolth-worship), all intelligent beings in the Realms worship — if only in appeasement — many deities.
Ed Greenwood via THO: in the Realms, everyone (with rare exceptions who are seen as less than sane) "believes in" (and worships) ALL the gods. A small handful of the populace (less than five percent) dedicates themselves to one god above all others. (Because the game has clerics/priests and paladins as character classes, and healing is a power of such individuals and is incredibly useful, and because organized faiths have wide social effects in the Realms, we pay more attention to zealots/one-deity-above-all persons than we otherwise would.)
Ed Greenwood via THO: ...go to clergy of this deity about this matter (having a child, for instance) and that deity for another (success in business, or good crop yields). Just as a real-world sick person who has access and the resources to do so can and will consult more than one doctor. Theres nothing morally wrong with this, in general (though it might anger or exasperate some priests), because the simultaneous belief in, and existence and influence of, multiple deities is the Realms norm.
Also, it was said that gods barely notice anything that doesn't help or hinder their portfolio. And the specific faith's view on things certainly is colored by what they consider "really important". See, e.g. Helmite and Oghmite views on marriage.
Oh My Gods! - "By Mystra's Lost Spell!". "Mask and mother-bitching Tymora, they ARE real!". Time of Troubles added "By the first Mystra and the second".
Our Orcs Are Different - In addition to the standard barbaric mountain orcs, the Realms is also home to two other subraces, the highly spiritual (but equally savage) gray orcs and the more powerful and advanced subterranean deep orcs (also known as orogs), who are basically a race of Elite Mooks.
Physical God - One of the most common tropes of the setting. This is literally true during the Time of Troubles.
Pirate - Whenever salt water is in sight, with larger-than-life Hrolf 'the Unruly' on top. Lots of 'em in The Threat from the Sea trilogy.
Precursors - The Imaskari, the Netherese, Ancient Elven Empires... The Imaskari and Netherese are back and active again come 4E.
Recursive Precursors - Before that, the dragons ruled Toril, and before them there were so-called Creator Races.
Pride Before a Fall: Netherese arcanists' arrogance was so huge they beleived deities are merely very tricky mages whose "secret" can be discovered. Most archwizards refused to receive healing by divine magic out of fear that gods may slip there something that would deprive them of their own chance at godhood. Naturally, this stupidity helped a lot of arcanists to die early, but the only one who did manage to temporarily become a god through spellcasting wasn't so optimistic.
As a less important noble (!) in Cormanthor described the situation in elven civilization before its fall—
Lady Evendusk: we'd better work as hard as we can to see that Eltargrim is still our Coronal, and not [...] one of the oh-so-noble sons of our three highest houses. They may consider humans and the like no better than snakes and ground-slugs, but they look upon the rest of us elven Cormanthans as no better than cattle.
The biggest—1600 members, once before Time of Troubles 2000 (!)—is the Flaming Fist company which doubles as Baldur's Gate's standing army. Not that there were operations big enough to force it to choose priorities. They sent 300 to Horde Wars, then some to kick pirates' asses, and there was still more than enough of them at home to not give anyone a false hope.
Rerouted From Heaven: Souls that end up in the Fugue Plane (those that were religious but didn't devote themselves to a specific patron deity, those who betrayed their creed, and atheists) can have this happen to them. The baatezu (a.k.a. devils, Lawful Evil fiends) have an agreement with the Fugue Plane's administration that they can try to talk unclaimed souls into going with them, while the tanar'ri (a.k.a. demons, Chaotic Evil fiends) simply resort to mass kidnapping.
Retcon - All unexplained continuity differences between editions.
Revolving Door Revolution: The Border Kingdoms near the Lake of Steam are composed of a slew of small baronies ruled by powerful adventurers, each seeking to carve out a scrap of land and rule it as they see fit. Then another adventurer comes along, bumps them off, and sets himself up as the new baron, et cetera. A fluff piece titled "Master Tactician" has a cleric of the Red Knightnote Lawful Neutral minor goddess of military strategy working on conquering the baronies to stabilize the region, but we never find out if she succeeded.
Sand Worm - Purple worms and related creatures; you probably don't want to waltz through the Raurin Desert for a weekend picnic.
Screw You, Elves! - The Realms' elves tend to be either xenophobic Noble Savages or the sad relicts of a great culture that fell past the point of decadence more than a thousand years ago (a lot of bitterness ensues) and mostly act on the defensive. Of course, in their time they did many great deeds — not all of which they would care to advertise — but now they put up more of a haughty show than any real actions or abilities (going to weave a new mythal, anyone?).
Shared Universe - Over the years, multiple designers and authors have come and gone, all of them leaving some kind of mark on the setting, for good or for ill.
Schizo Tech - There's some very advanced stuff, but it's built case-by-case, not meant for mass production or even compatibility. Many of Underdark races have rather advanced mechanics (pumps, hoists, etc), Gondsmen (especially gnomes) sometimes go all-out Mad Scientist, elven (including drow) artificiers occasionally make very advanced prosthetics. Naturally, magic opens extra possibilities, too. Drow artisans are known to routinely stash stuff like adamantine wire saws or pneumatic needle guns — unlike crossbows these are effectively single-shot, but far more concealable and thus useful for situations when one good shot is all it takes to get away alive.
Of course, there's a lot on the path of herbalism and alchemy, from poisons to dyes to rust protection coating to stranger odds and ends.
Not even starting on exotic metals available from ores, metallurgy is quite advanced, thanks mostly to the dwarves, who try to make strange alloys all the time — though elves had steel very good even without enchantments. Stainless steel is routinely used for potion containers and more unique accomplishments include steel poisonous specifically to orcs (by dwarves with some human and elven help), though this one caused some alarm as to whether further development may end in "bringing ruin to all", and eventually the secret was lost with the kingdom where this was done.
Part of the problem is, the Gondsmen like to keep their advanced tech to themselves, particularly smokepowder weapons. They're kinda the closest thing in the Realms to Warhammer 40,000's Machine Cult: they see tech as religious secrets rather than mundane items to make money off of. Meanwhile the drow are, of course, Always Chaotic Evil.
Silver Has Mystic Powers: Silver is the metal most associated with and suitable for magic. Magic items that involve moon-related magics, electricity/lightning and energy discharges (e.g. Magic Missile) will automatically make all saving throws related to item creation magic if they're 60% (or more) silver by weight.
Soul Jar - Liches are masters of this sort of thing. Also, being locked in a magical item (whether voluntarily or as a Fate Worse than Death), while exotic, is a rather well-known possibility.
Spell My Name with a "The" - "The Simbul" is sort of honorific after the name of a long-forgotten goddess, but she was called that way long enough that very few living people know even the first fact, let alone who "Alassra Shentrantra" is.
"The Sibilant Shade" or "the Voice in the Shadows", who loves her anonimity.
Split at Birth - Tymora and Beshaba were "born" when Selūne sundered Tyche tainted by Moander.
State Sec - War Wizards of Cormyr. Obarskyrsmostly manage to hold this bunch within the bounds of decency, but they jump "for the good of the realm!" so high that even legitimate monarchs and crown heirs had good reasons to distrust them a lot. Generally, the balance of power is — War Wizards vs. Nobles vs. Crown. E.g.:
War Wizards would be interested, BUT (and heres the last point) they cant just go mind-reaming everyone. For one thing, doing so is illegal in most circumstances, unless royal permission is received (and Azoun wasn't in the habit of freely giving it).
For another, many nobles have acquired mind-protecting magic, some of which slaps back at anyone trying a probe (the War Wizard) and some of which either foils probings or so damages the mind of the protected person that they are driven (permanently or temporarily) raving mad. As in, so actively mad that it cant be concealed from the public. Again, other nobles will collectively take a VERY dim view of this, and there are many nobles who dislike the Obarskyrs or the powers of the Crown already, and wont miss an opportunity to hamper them. To say nothing of nobility in Marsember and Arabel, with a goodly part of the commoners in those places backing them to the proverbial hilt, who are watching for excuses to rebel or protest or demand War Wizard or Crown powers be stripped away.
Stripperiffic - This is actually reconstructed by drow society! It's common for drow girls to expose a lot of skin due to Fanservice, but considering most females in drow society can protect themselves with magic, wearing a sexy outfit is akin to announcing your spellcasting ability and confidence. This is actually mentioned in The Drow of the Underdark.
Super Registration Act - "All mages of 5th or greater level who enter Cormyr must register before the next sundown with a king's herald, a local lord, or at the Court. Once on the rolls, they're welcome at meetings of the Council of Mages."
This being a highly magical setting, a law not applicable to all priests, adepts of the Invisible Art, people who just got a nifty magic item and so on doesn't instill order too much. But it does: a) help to compile lists of Cormyrean resident mages so that the War Wizard recruiters (or draft notices) know where to go, and b) gives an extra measure of control on adventuring parties, because any of them that didn't stop to register their wizard can be kept in town simply by arresting their arcane caster and forcing the rest to either abandon him or pay his bail.
The Syndicate - The Zhentarim, The Twisted Rune, The Knights of the Shield, Iron Throne et al.
Time Abyss - Lots of people outlived everyone and everything they saw, several times. Honorary prize goes to Labelas Enoreth, elven god of time who detached from the living so much that, when forced to incarnate during the Time of Troubles, he went mad. Top prize goes to The Srinshee — elven guardian ex-undead who was already ancient in "reasonably ancient" times and knew a tale of every little trinket in the whole cave complex stuffed with piles of these. Consolation prize goes to Elminster, though even some living humans are older by a thousand years or so — when he's in a bad mood, time catches up with him every other phrase:
I'll be all right. Stop soaking my robes with tears, look ye! They cost me three silver pieces, they did, in — ... Well, in a place gone now. (Shadows of Doom)
Oh, and Halaster Blackcloak "the Mad Mage"? Even before Netherese found those scrolls, Lord Hilather defeated a wannabe usurper in Imaskar. He's one of the few Imaskari artificiers who survived after Horus and company stomped The Empire — entered the stasis in -2488 DR, left in 128 and gone on exploring the brave new world. Made some items for one of Shoons, built a tower around there, then popped up building a tower near modern Waterdeep in 168, and got a little caught up in exploration of local caverns.
Too Much For Man To Handle - Dragonmagic is said to involve channeling enough power to instantly kill several times over any little two-legged creature trying to do the same. Elven High Magic is likewise inherently inaccessible for anyone else. Karsus' inability to work as the guardian of the Weave even for a few seconds proved that either it's a female-only position, one needs to ascend normally, or both.
Transplanted Humans - It's implied (the "Forgotten" part refers to them from Earth's standpoint) that the Mulhorandi and Utheric peoples are descended from Egyptian and Mesopotamian people the Imaskari "forcibly" imported, umpteen-thousand years ago.
Truce Zone - Some trade cities. Ravens Bluff was an interplanar trade center and, though most gates were closed long ago, it was shaped into its current form and steered behind the scenes by an archpriestess of Waukeen — the net result is that even drow (though not aarakocra, strangely) can usually walk out in the open without trouble. Skullport, a Wretched Hiveruled by spell-hurling flying skulls whom no one wants to annoy, not that provoking any local power group is safe. Sshamath, the city where one tavern has enchanted floors for unusual guests - such as fire-dwelling ones; knowledge that the city's chock-full of drow wizards who don't like disruptions in their trade seems to prevent most trouble.
Ravens Bluff was the setting of the Living City campaign (the first Living-style campaign from the RPGA) and lots of weird PC races were allowed as special characters.
There was a two-part article named simply "Trusting in Lore".
...yet somehow many fans still take for established "facts" anything anyone says in novels. Even in Evermeet — which is explicitly framed as a collection of stories retold by several generations of elves — and some on the subjects mere mentions of which caused pain or shouting matches after more than ten millenia, such as Crown Wars — to a human, who gathered them as a gift to his half-elven lover. It's not like there could possibly be any amount of what Faerunian elves themselves politely call moonbreeze, right?
To elaborate, Karsus, with that single spell, took control of the Weave and became the new god of magic for a few minutes. If the former goddess of magic, Mystryl, hadn't sacrificed herself, the Weave would have been utterly destroyed.
The Virus: Special mention to The Spellplague. If you catch it, you either die, mutate horribly ("Plaguechanged"), or get a nifty little blue tattoo that lets you use special magic, known as a "Spellscar". Some even go on a trip specifically to get infected, and there's a Cult based around the tattoos.
Weaksauce Weakness - A horrible magic-eating monster known as a Nilshai can be utterly killed with a few large handfuls of table salt.
Weird Science - The laws of physics on Abeir-Toril work differently than those on Earth.
Wizard Duel - Happens all the time. Also, via specific ritual, wizards can prepare a screened arena for "Mageduel", which allows them to fight without holding back, killing each other or restructuring the landscape in process. It's introduced and protected from meddling by relevant deities, as some one-upmanship helps overall magical development, while the death of wizards obviously doesn't... and it makes an enticing show when it's safe for bystanders.
Wretched Hive - meetsNot-So-Safe Harbor in Skullport (Truce Zone oblivious to concepts like "contraband" or "piracy", with a lot of street crime), Westgate (trade port and pirate haven nearly dominated by Night Masks thieves), Zhentil Keep and some other Moonsea cities.
You Kill It, You Bought It - Aside of taking minimum divine status via deicide, title and powers of a defeated Magister are transferred to the winner. Safe mageduel is allowed, but usually such battles are to the death. Traditionally, ambushes without a proper challenge and even mistakes count, unacceptable candidates being simply killed off by the next claimant. Up to "The Night of Fourteen Magisters" (former Magister Almer, Zunroun and nine of dozen of his clonesat once, his treacherous apprentice, the tavern's emergency mage, his treacherous apprentice). Later this was amended, but Magister's life didn't become much safer.
Finder Wyvernspur managed to become a demigod after defeating Moander, God of Decay. Unfortunately for him, becoming a god by defeating one means taking on that god's portfolios. Since he was Chaotic Good, he dropped all of Moander's evil-based domains, which left him with dominion over...rot. Yippie. He managed to parlay this into change and renewal of art and music, an exceptionally narrow portfolio that has left him with a grand total of two clerics and maybe a hundred lay worshippers, most of whom he assisted when he was mortal and thus worship him more out of thanks than any real devotion to his principles. Along with the lack of a fanbase, his portfolio is constantly being nibbled at by other deities, even good ones like Lathander, who has dominion over rebirth in a more general sense and wants to make Finder subservient to him or downright steal his portfolio entirely. On the plus side, he managed to scoreFizban as an even-more-divine mentor, so good for him.
Also happens on a mental level in the backstory of the drow demigod Selvetarm. Selvetarm was originally neutral, but slew a quasi-divine spider demon to impress Eilistraee. He wasn't expecting to be smacked in the face with its overwhelming evil essence. It went From Bad to Worse.
Zombify The Living: The curst creature template from the 3.5E supplement Lost Empires of Faerūn, created by casting bestow curse on a dying subject followed by create undead or create greater undead.
The specific stories and accesories contain the following tropes:
Affably Evil: Jarlaxle. The kind of acceptance Drizzt took several decades of good deeds and angst to accomplish, Jarlaxle can reach in about five minutes because of how much of a nice guy he comes across as. In the Sellsword Trilogy, he manages to win over a bar full of semi-xenophobic mercenaries with his wit and charm. Those who don't approve of his Always Chaotic Evil ancestry, he manipulates into starting a fight that gets them thrown out. (While Drizzt had done some societal trailbreaking for Jarlaxle, those specific mercenaries say they've never heard of Drizzt before.)
Lauzoril, Zulkir of Enchantment, an infernally charismatic bastard, whether dealing with weaker ("people he has ordered slain in their presence have gone to the executioner smiling") or stronger (his encounter with The Simbul was awesome, as normally she kills Red Wizards on sight). He also essentially first entered a separate peace treaty, extolling oncoming trade competition on the same breath.
The city of Sshamath — they still venerate Dark Seldarine, though not exclusively, and still have very deadly rivalries. But their Conclave (which includes a drow vampire) works toward greater cooperation between various interests and power groups. They did half-abolish slavery (in regard to races who are considered capable of magic, as well as individuals who can demonstrate it) and generally are trying to be as nice as they can — in the name of large-scale magical development, trade and prosperity. And are much less xenophobic than the theocratic drow... or most surface elves.
A plot hook in the third edition campaign setting called "I'd Like to Get My Things Back" involves the Zhentarim wizard Sememmon hiring the player characters to retrieve some of the possessions he left behind in Darkhold and leaving them with "as many gold pieces as it takes to make the PCs gasp" even if they turn him down, in hopes that they might be inclined to accept another job from him in the future.
A God Am I - Many Netherese archwizards gone beyond Flat Earth Atheist state and believe the whole godhood thing is a conspiracy of uber-mages who found some secret. They hoped to get the same one day, and fearing tricks that could prevent them from this, even refused to receive healing spells — with predictable results. Karsus has a more sane view on the divinity, which is why he managed to become the only man who did achieve godhood via spellcasting. For a minute or so. Not that he didn't immediately regret this very much.
Agony Beam - Nybor's line of pain spells (Gentle Reminder / Mild Admonishment / Stern Reproof / Wrathful Castigation).
What noble family of Cormyr has not been portrayed in a negative light? Completely, few, but occasionally, everyone — even Obarskyrs had Boldovar.
Oh, and when a fan asked for Cormyrean nobles who could murder one of their own family members and kick out his childhood friend and betrothed in nothing more than what was on her or in her possession immediately after his death, Ed answered there's about twenty out-of-published lore, but he will write four. And gave three, but at this point no one asked for more. Each was a Big Screwed-Up Family, and in case you missed the point about mature campaign style, the Elizabeth Bathoryexpy was not even the worst one. As most "shining" examples of depraved nobles he wrote one Cormyrean and one Waterdhavian families here — in the same spirit of The Aristocrats "in all their tainted glory".
Waterdhavian nobles are just as prone to "nobility decay" and even less law-abiding: lots of them are or were smugglers at best and slave-traders at worst.
Doesn't really affect Dark Elves. While Drow nobles are indeed vicious and cruel, commoners are usually just as evil and only lack the power and resources to cause as much damage.
Still ones from the merchant clans are safer to their own and partners than ones from the noble houses. And it seems that lower-status drow are more likely to form stable teams and save each other (making a sport of it) even if they are just as eager to claw their way up. By necessity, of course — there are group survival situations, reputation bites in the ass, Better The Devil You Know, and all that. Nobles just have worse prospects of alliances and can afford to be complete jerks.
Artifact of Doom - The Crown of Horns, Crenshinibon (The Crystal Shard), Cyrinishad, Kezefbane...
Attack Animal - Wyverns originally were weapons made by Aearee (a creator race) to use against Lammasu (according to The Grand History of the Realms). The stream of wizardly projects involving some or other custom-made weaponized Hybrid Monster reemerged in the human era and shows no sign of drying up. Akhlaur experimented with "cat-man warrior" idea and later created laraken. Red Wizards make "chosen ones" (these are unstable, though) from slaves and darkenbeasts (these work well... outside of direct sunlight) from any normal animals. Then there was a project of perfect assassins as "Living Construct" described in The Finder's Stone Trilogy (it messily backfired, of course).
Automaton Horses - Not a common aspect, but one NPC in the book Power of Faerūn has one.
Backstab Backfire: Subverted in "The Silent Blade" by R.A. Salvatore. Drizzt Do'Urden and Artemis Entreri have engaged in a duel to the death to determine once and for all who is the better fighter. Entreri ultimately loses, although even Drizzt acknowledges that his loss has more to do with bad luck than any lack of skill on his part. Entreri doesn't care, and tells Drizzt to finish him since he cannot live with the knowledge that he was beaten. Drizzt refuses, and begins to walk away. Entreri runs at him from behind and cries out in ragehis goal, as it turns out, is to alert Drizzt to his attack so that Drizzt will be forced to kill him. And Drizzt does defend himself by turning around and stabbing Entreri. However, a protective spell cast on Entreri without his knowledge protects him and mortally wounds Drizzt instead.
Bad Boss: Elaith Craulnober, at least in "Games of Chance." He finds a man called the Gondblessed who can use technology to simulate and affect magic and strongarms him into his employment. He then gives him a project: use the technology to modify the requirements of the Craulnober moonblade so that his daughter Azariah, a sun elf, can wield it without getting fried. Once he realizes that this technology also means he can wield the moonblade, when he already knows he's unworthy of it, he accuses the Gondblessed of desecrating it and promptly kills him. On the side, he also smashes the life's work of generations of the guy's ancestors.
Becoming the Mask - Vangerdahast's brilliant scheme to blackmail noble lady Shaerl Rowanmantle with her "theft against boredom" to become a Cormyrean agent in Shadowdale. After adventures together and a romance with the Dale's lord she became a co-ruler there (and he perfectly knows how his wife met him), she didn't care much about what War Wizards may tell anyone. In Shadow of the Avatar one of Vangey's subordinates told her that he thinks it's the time for Shadowdale to "join" Cormyr — and how it ended?
Blow Gun: In one novel, the pirate hunter Captain Deudermont is darted by a thug who wanted to claim the black-market bounty on him. Apparently, his darts are made from cat claws (don't ask how those could be used as darts) and no other ammunition is compatible with his blowgun.
Brain Drain: Knights of the Golden Rooster in Ravens Bluff often complain that other knightly orders tend to "take their best". Looking from the other end, one of the Roosters' main roles is to be an "entry-level" order for common people or adventurers and a route to higher responsibilities — old Roosters are those who chose to stay for the style.
Chivalrous Pervert - Guess who? It became a running gag. Just from memory: scoring innumerable human, elven and half-elven ladies (half of whom at some time before or after either were villainesses or just tried to kill him), several avatars of a goddess, daughters of the same goddess who attacked him before; having daughter from a dragon (polymorphed into human, but he knew) who served the enemy of the abovementioned goddess; flirting with watchghost (in Elminster's Daughter), archlich (in Shadows of Doom) and lich (in Temptation of Elminster)... The Drow of the Underdark starts with narrator finding him chatting with a drow lady — his ex-apprentice semi-submerged in his private pool and clearly upset by this stranger's arrival.
Classy Cat-Burglar - Bored noble lady Shaerl Rowanmantle indulged in thievery for amusement. And even though she underestimated the guard's vigilance, an attempt to blackmail her into service just made her co-ruler of the place she was supposed to spy upon and brought Cormites some hilarity later. Narnra Shalace the "Silken Shadow" (in Elminster's Daughter).
The conspiracy in Azure Bonds as the most devious and overcomplicated case.
"The Night of Fourteen Magisters" was the nastiest straight example (dozen of Zunroun's clones, nine of whom lived to get Magister's powers at once — plus the original).
"Manshoon Wars", the result of Manshoon's Stasis Clone being finally broken. Lord Orgauth and Fzoul Chembryl killed Manshoon, expecting one clone with non-updated memory (thus not knowing of their treachery) to reappear. Instead, four Manshoons teleported in, trying both to get their master spellbook and avenge themselves. Soon at least 40 normal (and very desperate) clones of him were runing around. Hilarity Ensues, as well as trading spells, un-squirreling magic item and killing or bribing lots of other magic-users. The clones who were converted to any form of undeath, permanently polymorphed or simply left Realmspace weren't compelled to kill all others, but this changed little.
Deepspawn can create copies of whatever creature it devoured. Unlimited, as long as it got enough of food.
The Spawn Wars - Wars between dwarven kingdoms circa -9000 DR involved lots of deepspawn-bred troops. Which had aftereffects on dwarven spirit immediately (what with having lots of "second-class citizens") and vitality later — "the Spawned" were banned from breeding, but this obviously didn't always work, and some blame on this factor the decline in birth rates that ultimately contributed to the number of unpopulated dwarven ruins. Oh, and this also left a few still living deepspawn (with dwarven samples, obviously) here and there...
Corrupt Corporate Executive - Guilds (and Knights of the Shield) overthrew the monarchy in Tethyr. And then things quickly rolled downhill, for everyone. Including themselves (in the long run, smoldering civil war isn't good for business).
Creepy Crows - Aside from the obvious use as familiars: Ravens Bluff is named after unusual local birds (big ravens that leave a curse if killed). Ravens are constant motif in the books of Elaine Cunningham, from Liriel's representation in a prophetic vision and later nickname to Shopscat, pet raven of Curious Past shop in Thornhold, able to say several phrases and whose sharp beak discouraged many a thief.
Defeat by Modesty - It varies. Some (e.g. elves) just rarely give a damn, some (mostly humans) do. Inverted in Laeral's Disrobement spell — trap releasing another spell when its substrate is severely damaged or removed from its unwilling wearer—the most (in)famous use involved Sylune and her gown; before activation there also were some slavers who wanted to brand her, their log-built stronghold and Meteor Swarm spell charge.
Defeat Means Friendship - Aside from warriors resolving their issues, xenophobic elves forced Elminster to play this game with them ad nauseam. Some didn't make it through, however.
The elves aren't much better. The ancient nation of Jhaamdaath once invaded the ancient elven realm of Nikerymath (present-day Chondalwood). Did the elves invade back? No, they used epic magic to drop a tidal wave on the entire country, which is why you can no longer find 'Jhaamdath' on the map. This also caused comparable destruction to the other side of the shore, that is, Aryselmalyr Empire of sea elves. Who, if their cousins remembered about their presence, in a few days could hold already mutinous Jhaamdath by the... ports. Then again, everyone else in Seros evidently saw this as a good thing, or at very least political independency, as other locals were persecuting sea elves the next 15 years, between attempts to fill the power vacuum. Of course, if they paid attention as much as to Jhaamdath itself, they'd notice it's already in the state of near-rebellion occasionally breaking into an open mutiny, so it couldn't need all that much pushing to fall over.
The Dog Bites Back: Walinda of Bane at the end of Finder's Bane, once the banelich makes it clear that he only tolerated a female priestess as a means to his end, without realizing that he still needs her to complete the ritual that will revive Bane in his body.
Doomed Hometown: Time and again. Once a dragonrider burned a village to kill one of younger sons of late king, but accidentally left alive a single shepherd boy. Who later turned out to be the son of the killed prince... name's Elminster Aumar.
The Dragon - Fzoul and Manshoon alternated as the Dragon to each other.
Dropped a Bridge on Him - Gwydion the Quick and Rinda the scribe are two of the main characters of Prince of Lies, and are killed by Malik in the opening chapters of The Trial of Cyric the Mad.
Dysfunction Junction - It seems that Magefairs tend to host a dozen of swaggering fireball-tossers seeking a duel, a hundred of gossipers and half a hundred of accomplished nuts sharing their mad theories.
Embarrassing Tattoo - Jherek in The Threat from the Sea ran away from his pirate father, but he has a tattoo that identified him as a crewmember of the nastiest pirate ship on the sea. Naturally, such a feature was rather career-limiting at best.
Also Alias's evil tattoos in Azure Bonds. She acts embarrassed by them, but it's more because they cause her to kill people she doesn't want to kill.
Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas - Cyric's father murdered his mother when he was a baby. The Cyrinishad is mostly about how wonderful he is, but he takes the time and page space to describe her as beautiful and talented. There also seems to be a bit of Madonna-Whore Complex going on; she's exalted as the literal mother of a god, while he constantly refers to Mystra as "The Harlot."
Even Evil Has Loved Ones - Cara's foster mother in Thornhold is a Cyricist who pings strongly on a Detect Evil, but she appears to be genuinely protective of her charge and forbids her to pray to Cyric or even wear his sacred color.
Even Evil Has Standards - sometimes, especially with Affably Evil. Also played for laughs: Hrolf 'the Unruly' managed to get imprisonment and confiscation instead of usual fine in the near-lawless Wretched Hive of Skullport not because he's a pirate (skulls don't worry about such trifles), but because he raised the concept of debauch to a whole new level. This man didn't got his nickname for nothing.
It was a major plot point with Lazouril (Zulkir of Enchantment).
Dag Zoreth may or may not be the case: he kept his daughter well away from his business and allowed his sister to take custody with less fuss than one could expect, though it's possible he just didn't care much. He takes advantage of the former when he needs an innocent descendant of Samular to use an ancestral artifact, but is still perturbed when her mother only views her as a tool.
Excalibur in the Rust - Fyodor in the Starlight And Shadows trilogy has a two-handed sword, clearly too heavy... and blunt. Far too many people didn't think it was serious until they learned a few little details: first, it's enchanted and works as if was sharp enough for any purpose except "friendly fire". Second, while most people can lift it with a visible effort, the owner is built like a smith (and was one) and always carries the damn thing with him, so he can use the ugly piece of metal as intended. Third, as The Berserker, in rage he swings it with enough strength to crash a minor golem and enough speed to hit a superhumanly fast drow fencer.
Fallen Hero - Scyllua Darkhope, a former paladin of the god of justice turned to the service of the god of tyranny. She's also a Dark Action Girl.
Elminster: That is the direct effect of Geryon's Death Spell. Spells of this sort are directly forbidden, although it is difficult to punish transgressors as they are usually dead before the spell reaches this stage!
In The North, a laboratory accident during the creation of "Chigliak's Hotpot" left a 200' diameter area devoid of snow, trees and grass around the wizard's house, with sand glazed closer to the epicenter and remaining pieces of the walls scattered up to 200 yd. The only thing found intact was one human foot still wearing an anklet of immunity from fire (obviously, slightly misenchanted). Chigliak, in addition to being a Pyromaniac, was too much of a jerk for anyone to care about his resurrection.
During the elven Crown Wars, High Mages of Aryvandaar turned Miyeritar into blasted plains with "Killing Storm" spell. Rather thoroughly, as the place is most known as "High Moor" — there's not a lot of things that could grow in this area even over 11 millenia later.
Finger in the Mail - In one novel in the series, the crimelord who has the halfling Regis captive has one of his men give Drizzt and friends (out to save Regis) a package when they reach his city: a halfling's severed finger. Not only is it from Regis, the crimelord does it again as they're breaking into his lair.
Fourth Wall Mail Slot - In The Wizards Three, though of course not novels. Once Mordenkainen's apprentice challenged to the spell duel one fan who worded dissatisfaction with her appearance in The Wizards Three impolitely, and once Elminster commented at the readers' dirty imagination.
Free the Frogs - "Leave Chitines Alone!" notion of some Ched Nasad drow, mentioned in War of the Spider Queen. That wouldn't be so utterly mind-boggling... if the main argument wasn't that they follow the same Religion of Evil which approvesChronic Backstabbing Disorder of drow so much. No wonder Pharaun just laughed at a question whether he's one of those.
From Bad to Worse: In the Avatar Crisis, the forced descent of all the gods into mortal bodies caused havoc with the Weave — outside of the several-mile radius which surrounded an avatar, magic was unpredictable, either not working at all, working with a quirk, going wild, or blowing up in your face. It was spellcast at your own risk. Then Helm killed Mystra... and things went entirely insane, magically.
Then there's the recent Spellplague...
Genre Savvy - Drizzt does not bother chasing after the crystal shard because he knows that as soon as he destroys it something else evil will pop up.
Good Adultery, Bad Adultery: In the Evermeet novel, King Zaor is pressured into making a political marriage; he keeps going with his lover, Amlaruil. The queen ends up drugging and raping another elf in order to conceive a heir—who is then fried on the spot when he tries to draw his "father's" moonblade.
Grammar Nazi - Interpret this little footnote from Volo's Guide to All Things Magical as you want:
Elminster: Do not, for instance, utter the word "indubitably" when in the Hall of Floating Helms in the Palace in Suzail—unless, that is, ye enjoy being caught in the midst of swarming lightning bolt spells.
Handy Feet: One of the drow characters from novels has such dexterous toes that he's able, when Bound and Gagged, to perform the necessary gestures to cast a spell with his feet.
Handsome Lech - Obarskyrs tend to be very charismatic and a bit too... passionate. Azoun IV was quite outstanding in both regards, so Cormyr got lots of Royal Bastards—there's even a feat for it. His daughter Alusair is a well-known heart reaper too, though in her case consequences are prevented by magic.
Volo's indiscretions are not limited to gathering and dispensing information. For one:
Elminster: If Lord Laerlos Silmerhelve ever reads this, there won't be a fortress strong enough or distant enough in all Toril to save the skin of Volothamp Geddarm from the vengeance of the Silmerhelves. I hear Ravithara wants the father of her baby to return to her side, too.
Heel-Faith Turn - Something like this implied to be a part of the past Shield of Innocence (orog paladin) was reluctant to talk about. Since Thamdarl "the Wizard Unseen" named his memoirs Tyrant's Throne to the Arms of a Goddess: My Road To Mystra, this seems to be his case too.
Hereditary Curse - The Avatar Trilogy has Kelemvor Lyonsbane, last scion of a family of cursed mercenaries. The curse began when his ancestor betrayed a powerful sorceress and was cursed to never again act purely for profit, or transform into a murderous panther. However, with the birth of his son, the curse reacted to the boys innocence and reversed itself. From then on, Lyonsbanes could ONLY act on anothers behalf out of thoughts of profit.
Heroic Mime - Saurials cannot speak in the audible for humans range, so Dragonbait managed to go about his missions without any verbal communication, though later learned the thieves' hand code.
In Pool of Twilight one paladin's first attempt to summon a charger brought a large pig.
Jherek in The Threat from the Sea, as a sea warrior, has no use for horses. Eventually, he got the loyal "mount" that dwarfs most normal kinds of paladin mounts... put together. Though even this didn't stopped him from further attempts to convince himself he's not a paladin despite any painfully obvious evidence.
Hot Skitty-on-Wailord Action: In Swords of Dragonfire, Elminster threatens Manshoon of the Zhentarim into standing down by mentioning some of the secrets he knows. One of the things he mentions is the full wording of the various pacts with the Beholders, and that they involved mating with... somethingsquickish. Possibly one or more Beholders.
Human Popsicle - Or elf-demon hybrid popsicle, to be more precise. The fey'ri were imprisoned and then the imprisoning civilization fell, leaving them to wake up 5,000 years later when the magic on the fortress above was severed.
Elminster was a 'human dust catcher' in an old Netherese tomb for a century or so at the beginning of Temptation of Elminster. And found out that Myth Drannor became a fiend-ridden ruin, surprise (though either Mystra or Azuth cared to soften impact by sending visions).
I'm a Humanitarian - An interesting twist. Creators of one mythal instead of specifically listing a few nasty critters blocked "any being that had consumed the flesh of men", a rite of passage in nearby orc tribes. Thus ghouls, most evil dragons and fiends, and so on are straight out too. But the Nethertusk Horde did walk in—no more Myth Glaurach. It was puzzling how a mythal failed back then if it still keeps monsters out several centuries later, until a journal of one orc shaman found in the Heralds Holdfast explained it. After the first wave of rampaging orcs was stopped and slaughtered, Gruumsh told his shamans what's up. So, the next generation of orcs was prohibited from eating their foes. Orcs aren't as brainy as illithids, but they aren't idiots either.
Immunity Disability: In the Pools of Radiance trilogy, Kern was born immune to magic. Unfortunately, this makes him immune to magic healing and teleportation. With concentration, Kern can sometimes suppress this immune.
Indian Burial Ground - Played with. Elven tombs attract thieves, but are not safe at all, even if not patrolled by armed forces (like in vicinity of Evereska). Or, Battledale farmers thought, if backed up by few mercenaries and wizards, they could fill and use a swamp even after mold men neighbours told them it's their burial ground. It turned out that both "their" and "burial" should be understood rather broadly. Less than in one year farmers who ran away quickly enough thought they were damn lucky to survive at all. note Elminster's Ecologies, # 1111
Intercontinuity Cross Over - used really well in The Wizards Three from 'neighbour' crystal spheres (see above). More canonically,
While it is suspected that Elminster has visited Oerth and Bigby has visited Toril, it is known that Mordenkainen and Vangerdahast both competed magically for the hand of a young extra-planar beauty (both lost, by the way).
Blackstaff had an encounter with Bigby "apparently not on the best of terms" resulting in a mention that "the old goat comes up with one good gimmick and beats it to death with a rock" — and creation of Khelben's Warding Whip.
Interspecies Romance - Half-Elves in most place don't even cause a lifted eyebrow, but it's not the only case. Myth Drannor was named after an elf who loved a dwarven lady (and yes, on Toril female dwarves got beards, male elves don't).
Here's clarification from Ed Greenwood on all those half-orcs.
Zaknafein Do'Urden is a "good guy", and skilled with the blade. Thus, so is his son, Drizzt. To a lesser extent, Vierna, Drizzt's full sister, is noticeably gentler and more reasonable than their half-sisters...until she goes through the advanced brainwashing techniques of the Church of Lolth.
"Silken Shadow" (in Elminster's Daughter) ended up with much the same occupation as so-called "Eladar the Dark" before he cast his first cantrip. For that matter, Tanalasta Obarskyr was a bookworm and after conversion to Chauntea developed an iron determination... not unlike her grandfather.
According to the Lady Penitent Trilogy, most of the drow have demon blood through the balor Wendonai, and those with the best chance for redemption are descended from the "good" dark elf kingdom of Miyeritar.
Jerk Ass - Mostly heroic incarnations are Vangerdahast (at least until retirement), Khelben (a bit less, mostly due to Morality Pet effect).
Kangaroo Court: At the beginning of the second book of the Avatar Trilogy, Midnight stands trial in Shadowdale, accused of killing Elminster at the end of the last book. Not only is she gagged throughout the proceedings out of fear that she'll use magic, the court freaks out when her "public defender" tells them that he ungagged her before the trial so he could get her side of the story. Not only did notables like Lord Mourngrym and one of the Seven Sisters participate in this farce, she ended up being rescued by Cyric.
Karma Houdini - Artemis Entreri. For all of the evil stuff he has done, he is still many people's favorite character.
Most of his evil actions tend to be justified or overshadowed by the evil that the people around him do, and he has paid for a lot of it, knocked off a cliff, stuck in menzoberran and forced to ally with Jarlaxle, and then is mindscrewed somewhat by Jarlaxle.
Killer Rabbit - Several, including literal ones (according to Elminster's Ecologies).
King Incognito: During the Time of Troubles, Torm left his initial avatar pretending to be him while he wandered Tantras in secret, investigating the actions of his priests.
Lady of War - Princess Alusair of Cormyr. Storm Silverhand is as incredibly dangerous and attractive as all Seven Sisters, and her pupils Chesslyn Onaubra and Sharantyr fit the description as well.
Lampshade Hanging: In Sacrifice of the Widow, a priest of Vhaeraun presents a plan to send their god through an interplanar gate to Arvandor to assassinate Corellon Larethian. Jezz the Lame asks if he's trying to get Vhaeraun killed. He isn't, but the result is the same.
For a specific example: he had no clue why said little girl didn't want to come with him after he killed her foster mother in front of her, right after killing her foster father. After all, the woman he killed was a Cyricist.
Let Me Tell You a Story: In Daughter of the Drow, a human warrior amuses a drow mage (who saved him from carnivores and tried to claim as a slave) with a folk tale about how "old favors are soon forgotten". Then managed to get away and added the phrase to his "farewell" as he ran off.
Love Triangle - all variants, notably one around Galaeron Nihmedu which transformed several times, including Polyamory and ended up better than one could suspect, though it was sort of foreshadowed.
Loveable Rogue - lots of, including Eladar the Dark a.k.a. Elminster Aumar and his daughter.
Magpies as Portents - Ravens are constant motif in the books of Elaine Cunningham, including Liriel's representation in a prophetic vision and later nickname.
Mainlining the Monster: Dwarven settlements sometimes keep captive deepspawn as a food source, feeding them livestock so the aberrations will make numerous copies of meat animals. This can easily backfire on the deepspawn-keepers, if one of their captive monsters ever manages to sink its teeth into something more dangerous than cattle.
Manchurian Agent: In addition to missing memories, Alias had a bunch of "missions", but didn't know what it was until she was in position to do it. Which inadvertently hindered her self-investigation more than being conditioned to attack anyone trying to remove this, and only slightly less than the blanket protection from divinations.
Master-Apprentice Chain - There are traceable chains of 4-5 wizards or longer, and lots of offhanded mentions of someone being apprenticed to Elminster (whose teachers are known from Elminster's Saga) or other Chosen (at least half of whom, including Khelben and Sammaster, also learned from Elminster at some point or other). Back in Myth Drannor "Arun's Son" (not named Khelben yet) was a pupil of Mentor Wintercloak (secretly allowed in the city before it was opened to non-elves). They all had apprentices — Mystran dogma is clear about spreading the use of arcane magic, after all. Some of these (like Malchor Harpell) grew to the top rung and in turn got their own pupils...
A Pupil of Mine Until He Turned to Evil: Again, the Mystran dogma teaches to spread magical knowledge, so they, especially Elminster, train a lot of people with talent and not looking terminally irresponsible. Some of whom later played in the teams any good Mystran have to cull given an opportunity, all the way down to Cult of the Dragon. Sammaster in particular stands out here.
Merlin and Nimue: Elminster started his career with falling for one of his mentors, Myrjala "Darkeyes" Talithyn, and some of his own apprentices enjoyed not only learning magic from him — apparently including one drow lady enjoying Two-Person Pool Party with him in one sourcebook. His former apprentice "The Shadowsil" in the backstory of Ed Greenwood's novel Spellfire left to take up a life of evil.
Meet The Meat: Some dragons like to start with talking before tasting. Like in Azure Bonds:
Mist: You must forgive me for not knowing anything about you, but I've been so out of touch. I am Mistinarperadnacles Hai Draco. You may call me Mist. And I'll call you... supper? Yes, it's about time for a light, early supper. So nice of you to deliver yourself.
Memory Gambit - It's normal both for drow on high positions and high-level wizards to be Crazy-Prepared. So in Extinction (War of the Spider Queen) Gromph Baenre did it. An opponent thought everything was under control... and lived just long enough to realize what's going on.
Merchant Prince - The country of Amn is ruled by the Council of Six, each a merchant-king with more money than they can spend. In descending order of seniority they are the Meisarch, Tessarch, Namarch, Iltarch, Pommarch and Dahaunarch.
Misapplied Phlebotinum - The best one is the Ravenstar from Inside Ravens Bluff, the Living City. Two wizard brothers discovered most of their heirloom was turned into flying galleon. Turns out it's not a con, and merchant (Arcane, duh) delivers it, along with the user's manual. Then they dismissed "through space" part. For a vessel powered by major helm even suborbital cargo runs would be a waste of possibilities, and that not counting a non-standard device built in. They use Ravenstar to... haul a circus, around less than one continent. Ah, and sometimes for moonlight cruises.
Murder Is the Best Solution - Orc Problems in the North? Kill 'em all. Some drow (who fixes more problems that causes) draws a special attention from Lower Planes? Send a warship after her. Contrabandists with smokepowder? Kaboom!
My God, What Have I Done? - Wulfgar has this reaction after he hallucinates that Catti-Brie is a demon and hits her in The Silent Blade.
Myth Arc - Cormyr Saga alone gives compressed variant. The novel Cormyr is an interleave of "present day" story chapters and small flashback stories that depict Cormyrean history. The How We Got Here part forms at once necessary background for the main story, some parts of big Story Arc and also parts of epic History Arc that connects with "present" Story Arc in next books.
The Napoleon - Triel Baenre has the already-unenviable task of measuring up to her formidable mother's long reign. Given this, she's especially sensitive about being short even for a drow.
Neglectful Precursors - Dracorage is one of "best" examples. Building a magical device that periodically drives all dragons in the world Claw Crazy? Well, sometimes one just have to do whatever one can. Leaving damn thing active, accessible and not adequately guarded, indefinitely after decisive victory? Great idea: not only dragons have to kill much more people than they want to, but sooner or later it may fail to turn off and someone can tamper with either comet or mythal in the way that leaves the hellish condition on. Which almost happened twice.
Some elven mages left a few trapped fiends with an "impossible" Curse Escape Clause and apparently didn't set up safeguards other than verbal warnings, which degenerated to horror stories for children in about 1800 years. Then there were three very annoyed greater nycaloths, the whole army of their kin gated in and roaming around, the fall of Myth Drannor... Ah, and these were summoned in first place to retrieve artifacts stolen by elves to keep them out of hands of irresponsible humans. Netherese later did cause Götterdämmerung, so for once this consideration was quite valid. But early Netherese were taught by elves to begin with. It's hard to count just how many times such recursions cross the line.
Neuro-Vault - If after all those years of examining Sealed Evil in a Can inside the can Prince Melegaunt Tanthul died and just carried all this knowledge with him, it would be... rather unfortunate, right?
Neutral No Longer - Lots of, notably Catlinda (Company of Catlash), who became an adventurer after her father gone insane when she exposed and slain doppleganger who killed (and replaced) her mother. Or some elves who helped Cyricists after Knights of Samular acted as classic Lawful Anal.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero - Karsus tried to become a god by using the first 12-level spell to borrow some divine power from the only deity he should have left alone. The result is: destroyed Netheril, killed goddess, no 11-level and higher spells on Toril anymore and 10 level working only when relevant gods are sure it's a good idea, Karsus being a god just long enough to understand how much he screwed up everything and then trapped for ages as almost-dead almost-god.
The Harpers' great idea to imprison an irresponsible and arrogant artificer off-plane where he can't do anything and remove him from the history. Quickly became less than safe when one of the few last traces of the evidence fell into hands of wrong guys who forced him to work with them.
The Dracorage Mythal. Free the world from the dragons' domination by disorganizing them: a good idea. Leave behind the device with nigh-unlimited service life not only making dragons aggressive every few years, but capable of making one big nightmare of the whole world just by failing to turn off: not very good idea. This one had two very close calls. First the dragons not knowing what exactly got them tried to destroy the visible comet — which gone wrong and produced Tears of Selune — so the mythal's activating key almost got stuck in either Toril's moon or one of the new satellites. Later perhaps the best metamage in the world gone batshit insane, found and "hijacked" the mythal itself. These elves are not only nice, but also very foresighted People, aren't they?
In their defense, a while after they created the mythal the elves fought a several-thousand-year long string of world wars among themselves that resulted in a lot of stuff getting lost and forgotten.
In "The Pirate King", Captain Deudermont leads an army to overthrow the ruler of Luskan, the evil lich archmage Arklem Greeth. Despite the best efforts of Drizzt to help him, he ultimately winds up making things worse.
No Man of Woman Born: Three yugoloths were once trapped in Myth Drannor, in a magical prison that required a flawlessly virtuous red dragon to open. Centuries later, an unwitting mage decided to tinker with a red dragon egg to, among other things, make the hatchling Lawful Good.
Noble Demon - Lauzoril: he really cares about his kid, renounced undeath and is a bit too honest for zulkir or master of Charm school.
Some Princes of Shade: while flooding large part of the desert they found time to warn locals and offer their help with evacuation—in rather clumsy way, but they tried. Melegaunt Tanthul acted responsibly and honestly with his incidental partners, though it's not quite clean how random was the initial accident.
Noodle Incident: It's not known—except a few bizarre details—what Aerilaya (green elf druidess referenced in a few elf-related Realmslore sources) did that she had to leave the continent.
Nude Nature Dance - The Good-aligned female Drow worshippers of Eilistraee dance nude outdoors in the moonlight.
Obfuscating Stupidity - As Elminster's scribe Lhaeo played little obnoxious Obstructive Bureaucrat. After he covertly turned into Haedrak III he plays less than bright lordling and dabbler in magic absent-mindedly playing with his familiar instead of listening to any Serious Business discussed before him. While his personal power isn't great, he has Seen It All, have an ideal memory, is very observant, good enough investigator to tell nosy Khelben something new about the events under Blackstaff's own nose and as deft with his spells—including a few Elminster developed personally for him—as it can be expected from a guy apprenticed to the Old Mage for two dozens years.
Offing the Offspring: In novels that built up to the transition to 4E, Lolth killed her grandson Selvetarm (on at least one level of reality) and was indirectly responsible for the death of her daughter Eilistraee, and Shar reabsorbed the divine essence her son Mask. In the latter case, this doubled as The Reveal.
Older Than They Look - Fyodor takes some time to get accustomed to the idea of Liriel being mature enough for a relationship. For one, she's small for a drow. For two, as a drow, at the age of 39 1361 DR, born 1322 DR, she looks more like 12.
In The Bargain by Elaine Cunningham the true age of Arilyn "Moonblade" rather shocked Hasheth. Calishites usually marry very young, so...
Arilyn: I'm a half-elf, remember? I'll probably outlive your grandchildren. [...] For as many years as you and your mother have lived, I've been a hired warrior.
Our Dark Elves Are Better: Carried out to extremely aggravating levels by R.A. Salvatore, who takes great pains to show how dark elves can effortlessly see through the most complicated plans can get past any trap or precaution, and are overall far superior in magic, intrigue, knowledge and skill to any of the pathetic humans they come across.
Averted with Berg'inyon Baenre. Like most drow, he thinks himself greatly superior to humans. But he meets his end in a Curb-Stomp Battle against Artemis Entreri. Also averted with Matron Baenre and her insistence on attacking Mithral Hall after the Time of Troubles. That really wasn't very smart of her, and Menzoberranzan was significantly weakened after taking great losses against Mithral Hall's defenders.
Elves were too, but they became mostly useless relicts long ago, which led them to The Retreat: turning Cormanthor into Myth Drannor was the last strong attempt to counter the consequences of the decadence. And it held water only as long as the Coronal who started this was alive.
Any spellfire wielder (like Shandril Shessair) also qualifies.
Phlebotinum Overdose - It was mentioned many times that spells may interfere and an excessive release of strong spells, especially in the presence of massive enchantments, may rise up to the scale of Fantastic Nuke: supposedly, through this effect one drow city in a civil war turned into what is known as The Great Rift.
The Pollyanna - Lathander is the god of optimism in all but name ("there is always another morning") and there seems to be more of obliviousness than defeating the circumstances. Many his followers are like this too: Muragh Brilstagg, Rod of Lathander, was cursed to have his awareness stuck in his body after dying and soon reduced to a skull able only to talk and roll around using his jaw. The priest remained Talkative Loon loudly preachful about others' faults he was — which got a wizard to curse him in the first place — through it all.
Razor Wings: The 'Sharpwings' spell. It gives a dragon's wing buffet double the damage of a claw attack while keeping its knockdown efect. Without any visual changes.
Rebellious Princess - Miliana Da Sumbria (The Council of Blades). Liriel Baenre, technically, counts too. Alusair "The Steel Princess" of Cormyr had a loud dish-breaking disputes with her father just about every time she returned to the palace.
Right Behind Me: At the end of The Two Swords a drow priestess curses out and generally derides the orcs she's been working with; her companion is horrified to see that King Obould is behind her and not taking it well.
Rich Idiot with No Day Job: Danilo Thann (Songs and Swords novels) was a very competent wizard/bard and member of the Harpers who pretended to be a stupid fop clumsily dabbling in magic to keep away unwanted attention.
Screw You, Elves!/What The Hell Elves: In Return of the Archwizards a little remark of an elf from Evermeet managed to seriously flip out at once Elmister (learned from elves, saved even one who died of a suicidal spell just to get at him), Khelben (not a Puppy-Dog Eyes half-elf wannabe out to prove his worth anymore, but still eager to jump the blade for them) and Laeral (almost—she just doesn't, short of artifact possession), and got an Evereskan elf to at least make a point.
Evereska is being overrun by phaerimm, and your people are worried about humans?
Sdrawkcab Name: The pit fiend Tanetal, a servant of Bane in the Phlan trilogy, repeated "Latenat" at the end of at least every other phrase.
Snilloc — a wizard from the Covenant, inventor of some classic spells (made by Dave Collins, possibly except Snilloc's Cream Pie, joke spell by Elaine Cunningham).
Secret Test of Character - Harpers sometimes do such things. Vangerdahast at least once used Secret Test Of Loyalty—those who answered his proposal with an attempt to kill him on the spot were deemed truly loyal to Cormyr's crown.
Volo's Guide to All Things Magical even has a mocking reference to the Anarchist Cookbook of all things.
The original Forgotten Realms sourcebook included the spell "Spell Engine", which was almost identical (given the differences between the two works' underlying magic rules) to the "Warlock's Wheel" from Larry Niven's The Magic Goes Away series.
Sorcerous Overlord - Many examples through history, including the Shoon Empire. Also, one Thamdarl "the Wizard Unseen" of whom, in a typical Realmslore fashion, we know only a single epigraph from his memoirs.
Spot of Tea - Raidon Kane enjoying tea, due to his Kara-Turan heritage.
Standard Powerup Pose: The cover of Ed Greenwood's novel Crown of Fire shows the main character Shandril Shessair using the title ability. See it here◊.
In Cormanthor, a pair of elves from feuding families once secretly asked their ruler to help. All he could do was assist in staging their "deaths" and make them both baelnorn. Of course, Guardian Paramours, while together, still were kind of liches, but even this was seen as an improvement.
Stay in the Kitchen: Kelemvor's initial attitude toward Midnight in the Avatar Trilogy. He initially refuses to take her into the group despite her magical skills because she's a woman. After she does join, he assumes that she's going to be doing the cooking even though she's a Lethal Chef.
The "joyful" nature of Nybor's voyage refers to the joy of the spell's caster rather than that of its target.
Supernatural Gold Eyes - A rare drow feature, notable but not dominant in Baenre (first house of Menzoberranzan).
Supernormal Bindings: The gods bet Kezef the Chaos Hound, an expy of Fenrir, that they could forge a chain that would hold him. Gond, god of craftsmen, forged the chain and buried its anchor miles deep in the rock of Pandemonium, and Mystra, goddess of magic, wrapped him in a self-repairing magical curtain. The two traps successfully held Kezef for millennia until he was freed by one of Cyric's plots.
Super Registration Act: The kingdom of Cormyr requires all adventurers within their borders to register with the government.
Sword and Sorcerer: As Battle Couples, Fyodor with Liriel (Starlight And Shadows) and Arilyn "Moonblade" with Danilo Thann (Songs and Swords). Others include Ryld Argith with Pharaun Mizzrym (War of the Spider Queen).
Take That - In The Simbul's Gift: Lauzoril became Zulkir by killing his predecessor and mentor in a duel. Then he found an old guy's granddaughter locked away on the estate and soon married her. Granddaddy turned her into a Cloud Cuckoolander, trying to protect her and/or because later she would constitute a danger. Lauzoril later swore his magic will never touch his daughter, even to straighten her crooked tooth, and if this will be his demise, so be it. That's one of the major villains. Thing is, it was printed soon after the Hobgoblin 2211 story, Hasbro-to-Hasbro missile.
Maalthiir, the ruler of the city of Hillsfar (which, among other things, bans nonhumans), was previously classified as Neutral. Mysteries of the Moonsea, which lists him as Neutral Evil, takes issue:
Though many argue that he is neutral because of his devotion to trade, Maalthiir is a greedy, selfish, evil man; no person could endorse arbitrary executions or torture and not be evil.
Taking You with Me: Aside from specific incidents there are at least two spells that involve the caster's own death: Red Wizards' Gur's spell-lash (exploding for the wizard's own hit dice worth of damage) and Elven Blood Dragon (someone gets hounded by a near-unstoppable magical construct with a flesh-dissolving touch).
Galaeron Nihmedu when he had a problem with magic himself, and wanted another spellcaster to reveal an invisible enemy, slowly moved his fingers through the proper spell's somatic component until it was recognized as such and cast.
Alias: Riding a wagon along protected trading routes in a guarded merchant caravan doesn't make you an adventurer. Until you've hiked more than twenty miles a day, slept in a ditch, and eaten something that tried to kill you first, you're not an adventurer. Anyone who isn't an adventurer is a greengrocer.
Token Good Teammate: The drow shadowdancer Hamadh the Unseen in City of the Spider Queen is one of the few characters who both worships Vhaeraun and is explicitly nonevil (as opposed to the cleric of Vhaeraun in the same group, who is). He may be used for a Player Punch.
Tome of Eldritch Lore: Lots, perhaps most (in)famously the Nether Scrolls (though they're harmless to the reader) and Cyrinishad (not real lore, just a sheet of bullshit, but it can brainwash a deity).
Too Much For Man To Handle: In Elminster's Daughter Caladnei was bold enough to demand from Elminster and Simbul to talk in a way everyone could hear instead of with the mindlink they obviously used. It turned out that there were more than two participants and when Mystra agreed with this request, Caladnei (and everyone present) learned the hard way why exactly direct contact with deities is rarely used even by priests strong enough to do it every day. They were barely able to move after this bit of fun — and she was nice.
Tropes For Dummies - Canonically, every Volo's Guide is a mix of brilliant investigations and silly hearsay. The most infamous was "Volo's Guide to All Things Magical", which the author sold to someone (in FR comics). Its "second edition" note from Wizards' site, free claimed that v.1.0 contained a lot of recipes on how to kill oneself in amusing ways and so much sensitive information that not only did Volo hesitate to introduce himself within hearing range of any other wizard ever after, but Elminster personally hunted down and destroyed every last copy.
During the introduction to Neverwinter Nights 2: Storm of Zehir, Volo mentions that Elminster decided that Volo's Complete Guide to the Behavior of Nymphs was "too naughty for print."
Truce Zone: In the 1st Edition supplement Forgotten Realms Adventures, temples of the deity Mask are neutral meeting sites for all thieves guilds in a town.
Turned Against Their Masters: Derro and clan Duergar vs. illithids, drow vs. shadow dragons at Chaulssin, chitines vs. drow at Ched Nasad. Alias the living construct vs. her creators (at least, they got the "perfect death machine" part mostly right).
Undead Author: In Shadowdale, a still-human Cyric "entertains" his traveling companions with stories of adventuring parties dying horribly in Myth Drannor. Midnight points out that there's no way to know what happened to them if nobody survived; one possibility suggested is that Cyric was with them and fled before the dying part.
Unicorns Are Sacred: In order to create the Tome of the Unicorn (which was made of metal plates), a wizard named Shoon killed 12 unicorns and bathed the plates in their blood. This was considered an especially evil act in a world where evil deeds are quite common.
Unperson - While the Harpers imprisoned Finder they also removed him from all records and suppressed his songs. Not a small task, given that the target was a noble, widely known bard and great artificer at once. They even make him forget his own name. Of course, later it backfired. In the end they "restored" him when not only the cat was out of the bag, but he ascended to the demipower status, and the story ended up rather embarrassing for both sides.
Unrelated Effects - According to the Menzoberranzanboxed set, in some drow traditions wizards suspecting they are being watched (most of them most of the time) disguise actual working, tactical properties or even natures of their spells with "frills" — bogus rituals, spell components and special effect cantrips. If such a wizard is in serious danger, he can always drop this charade and cast the same spell "as is", much faster than those who spied upon his experiments would expect.
Van Helsing Hate Crimes - It seems anyone who can be presented as an "acceptable target" dealt with this. Of protagonists, Jander Sunstar (vampire) and Liriel Baenre (drow). And let's not start on the whole Bhaalspawn problem... Flavour text of The Seven Sisters features a wizard who ran into the dell where followers of Eilistraee (including Qilué) danced—"aww... how cute... firestorm! Oops.". Dark Ladies obviously have to deal with such things time and again, and most are neither protected by Mystra's daughter and her wards, nor deterred by her from answering in kind. It was limited to a mild annoyance in Ravens Bluff — in a hardy Seen It All city only local drunks made a nuisance of themselves.
Golden elf Kymil Nimesin formed the "Elite Guard" conspiracy: they planned a coup and managed to kill the king of Evermeet — which is a fact most gold elves consider their collective shame. Why? Out of oblivious utopism.
Elaine Cunningham: He sees himself as a revolutionary who wishes to overthrow the monarchy in favor of a republic. He is further incensed by the fact that that royal family are moon elves, who he sees as less worthy than—indeed, inferior to—the gold elf race. For much of the history of Faerūn's elves, power has resided in the hands of the gold elves. Kymil seeks a return to past glories.
Khelben Arunsun is a great and mighty hero when there's some or other immense threat. When there are none, he will find something anyway. Blackstaff shows signs of this in most novels by Elaine Cunningham, but it's not a disagreement on board: according to Ed Greenwood, seeing a polymorphed steel dragon on a revel is enough for him to "casually toss a wyrmbane spell her way". Or his old obsession with smoke powder. He usually balances on the border of this, slipping back and forth, with Laeral holding him back.
Vangerdahast sincerely wants to protect and champion Cormyr. On the other hand, it's given him, among other things, a very real problem with paranoia, a tendency to "mind ream" or otherwise secretly test anyone who catches his attention at unpredictable moments, and led him to both reform the War Wizards of Cormyr to a more aggressive shape and instigate the various restrictions placed on wizards. His nature as the power behind the throne means even the king (who considers him an old friend) and queen (who is a Harper agent and runs her personal spying network) tend to trust him only as far as they can throw him (good thing that Azoun was a strong man). Ultimately, in Elminster's Daughter, this leads him to first create a spell that will bind dragons to forever serve as Cormyr's defenders, then turn himself into a dragon and cast that same spell on himself.
What the Hell, Hero? - Knights of Samular, while hunting for the demon Vladjick, attacked an elven community that denied them passage, all because of the paladins' "With Us or Against Us" thinking. Now, for some inexplicable reason many elves have a very, very dim view of some paladins. Strange people, aren't they? The same paladin order on a lesser scale:
woman in Gladestone: I have no love for orcs, but I know what is happening, and I do not place all the blame on the monsters who attacked. What choice do the displaced orcs have when their hunting grounds are taken from them? They must raid towns and farms in order to survive, and so they do.
Let's not discuss Elminster's brilliant idea of letting the Tuigan Horde rampage across the Heartlands, because God forbid that Cormyr actually do anything horrible like allying with other good and neutral nations to form a temporary mutual defense pact. Fortunately, in perhaps the only example in the setting of Elminster not getting his way, everybody ignored him and went with Azoun's plan instead.
Tuigans attacked Thay, were let go alive on condition of joining the next war on Thay's side. Which is how they were "invading Thesk": got kicked out of Rashemen so hard that Red Wizards had to part a lake to save them. Still dangerous, but after two meatgrinders like this in a row, there was a reasonable doubt whether to panic. On the other hand, Zhents got an excellent chance to infiltrate a great area, and used it.
Cormyr is frequently seen as a domineering and grasping state and isn't trusted much, especially in Dales and after the "inclusion" of Tilverton. For good reasons, as Shadow of the Avatar shows. Obarskyrs themselves tend to act as a redeeming feature, but still. And of course...
Never before in the history of this fair realm have so many owed so much to the coffers of the king. Never fear but that he'll come collecting in short order...and his price shall be the lives of his debtors, in some foreign war or other. He'll call it a Crusade or something equally grand: but those who die in Cormyr's colors will be just as dead as if he'd called it a Raid To Pillage, or a Head Collecting Patrol. It is the way of kings to collect in blood. (Albaertin of Marsember, A Small But Treasonous Chapbook)
Lathander seems to be a bigger meddler than all mortal wizards put together. First he causes the Dawn Cataclysm, then allows himself to be fooled into attempt to "fix" some of its consequences...
There was supposed to be some general chill in relations after the Dawn Cataclysm, and he got some troubles for the latter, but he's freakin' Lathander.
Plus, it then turns out the whole thing was actually Amaunator being "reborn" as Lathander, which changed back right after the Spellplague...
Ironically, they are also are busy undoing side-effects of their god doing his job right: the greatest stain on his reputation are dead-magic and wild-magic zones that appeared after Time of Troubles and were quickly nicknamed "Helmlands".
Torm's followers now have the "Penance of Duty" — atonement for persecution by their church's short-lived theocracy during the Time of Troubles and, since the incident personally involved the second Midnight/Mystra, the "Debt of Destruction" — removal of the Weave damage. The Order of the Golden Lion specifically is dedicated to paying these debts. All of this exists, in fact, because once Torm found out what his corrupt clergy were doing in his name, he himself called them out.
When All You Have Is a Hammer - Magocracies, some old-time elves and most Drow have a bad habit of using magic instead of calling someone to fix a problem the mundane way. This tend to make consequences nastier, especially if multiple structural repairs are few centuries overdue by the time that all folds.
When I Was Your Age: In Cloak Of Shadows, Storm tried to inspire young Harpers complaining about having to raise early, then Elminster finished them off with a handful of tall tales:
Storm: What sort of Knights and Harpers is Faerun breeding these days? Why, when I was your age...
Sharantyr: I know, I know. [...] Then you had to run two miles to the river to bathe and draw enough water for all the horses to drink, run back with it, and get the axe to go out and chop firewood for the kitchen fires, before y—
Elminster: When I was your age, axes hadn't been invented yet. Nor horses. We walked everywhere to gather our firewood.
Drizz't Do'Urden holds closely to this. For most of his book appearances, he hovers around the century mark, putting him equivalently in his mid-twenties. Much angst goes into his thoughts on his relationship with Catti-Brie, who throughout the books moves from her early twenties to somewhere in her late thirties. Amazingly, during the "Transitions" trilogy, Salvatore bridges the gap between 3rd and 4th edition continuity, moving the timeline up by well over a hundred years. Think of what that means for a minute: No more Catti-Brie (even if she were still alive), Regis (same deal), Wulfgar (if he were not Put on a Bus), and no Artemis Entreri, among others. And, as of the events in Gauntylgrim, Bruenor has also died. This makes one of the only times in literary history where a character who has worried about outliving all of his friends and those around him actually has. Though as of Gauntylgrim it seems that Artemis might survive as Barrabus the Grey.
Why Did It Have to Be Snakes? - Lark of Suzail panically feared snakes. Guess where Elminster sent her to do research for Ecologica? Right, into Serpent Hills (the foreword is titled "That's not a stick"). Now guess whom he recommended her as a guide...
With Due Respect - there hardly will be any larger case than a greater god confronted by his own paladin. Of course, Lathander is rather irresponsible by nature. Labelas Enoreth — on account of acting deranged during the Time of Troubles (as the personification of Time Abyss, he lost touch with mortals) — was abandoned by the priest he possessed. Whom upon regaining full godhood he talked back into the fold and elevated to proxy status.
Enoreth specifically gets this to great effect in the issue of the FR comic in which he returns to offer to grant the former crew of the Realms Master one wish each by way of apology, free of charge, no strings attached...and everyone he makes the offer to in turn turns him down. It ends on a positive note — it's once he finally understands that no, he can't simply wave his divine hands and just make up for everything like that that Vartan (the priest in question) declares his willingness to start mending fences in turn.
Lyra Sunrose: By the time we reached the outskirts of the city, one bear had already bolted into the brush, scrambling in the general direction of Anauroch as fast as his paws could take him. The other bear was whining like a whipped kitten, digging his claws into the ground and refusing to move. I had my arms around his neck and was trying to drag him forward when I heard something thunder overhead. A red dragon was roaring out of Myth Drannor, wings beating furiously, its face wrenched in stark terror! I didn't wait to see what was chasing it. (Elminster's Ecologies)
Would Hurt a Child: In the Realms of the Elves story "Necessary Sacrifices," a group of followers of Shevarash demonstrate their belief that their god's command to kill drow is not limited to adults.
Yank the Dog's Chain: As a mortal human, Kelemvor Lyonsbane dreamed of becoming a hero but was prevented by an ancestral curse that forbade him to perform good deeds without getting paid. Then he replaced ex-friend Cyric (who'd previously killed him) as the god of the dead in a revolt and promised to bring justice; he also reunited with his lover, who'd become the new Mystra. Then, when he tried to implement reforms (like getting rid of the Wall of the Faithless, giving the virtuous False a pleasant afterlife, and telling Mask "No, you can't have the dead man who left your faith because you disguised yourself as the nicer goddess he converted to"), the other gods pressured him into rescinding them. And as a result he ended up breaking it off with Mystra, whereupon Cyric drank their tears and laughed, as he not only pulled this scheme off but was able to use it to justify staying a god himself.
"Who are you?" he demanded. "I paid top coin for this guise, and Malagar guaranteed that they'd rent no other 'Crowned Purple Dragon of Cormyr' costume to anyone else! Took me forever to get the beard glued on right, too! So get yours off, this instant!"
Zerg Rush - Basically how King Obould "won" his war in the North.