The Nether Scrolls, originally known as the Golden Skins of the World Serpent,[1][8][9] was the name given to one set of fifty scrolls that dealt with fundamental magic theory. It was paired with a second set that was transformed by the elves of Faerûn into the Quess Ar Teranthvar, or the Golden Grove of Hidden Knowledge,[10][3] the magical tree to which The People could attune. Unlike the elven tree, that was only stolen once,[11] the Nether Scrolls that always remained in their original form had been continually lost, stolen, and even partially destroyed throughout the course of five millennia.

One look at the Nether scroll and I've learned what a spell is. I've been collecting spells as if every one were different. That's illusion...spells are all the same. They're all a path through illusion to truth. One look, and I've seen the fundamental truth of magic.
— The mage Druhallen.[12]

Description[edit | edit source]

The Nether Scrolls were a set of small scrolls that described fundamental magical theory.[3] Two sets were known to exist, one set older and more tarnished than the other.[13] The contents were written over fifty scrolls divided into five chapters, each consisting of ten scrolls. Each scroll was made of a precious metal, namely gold[3] or platinum,[5] made flexible like paper[3] with silvery letters floating upon the surface. Each time a page was read, new knowledge appeared, allowing the scroll to contain more information than the small size should have allowed.[5][3]

When a reader gained sufficient understanding, re-reading the scrolls provided additional knowledge and information. There did not seem to be any limit to the amount of information one scroll could contain,[5] although the amount of knowledge contained wasn't endless, it would still require an entire month to read through.[3]

No destructive magics, even disintegration could affect the scrolls. They could be physically altered to the point of being unrecognizable, but would always reform themselves eventually.[13][5]

Influence[edit | edit source]

The Nether Scrolls were among the most influential artifacts in Faerûn.[5] In fact, in the 14th century DR, a good portion of the sum of magical knowledge on Toril was based on the theory described in these scrolls. Shreds of its knowledge were known by every mage in one fashion or the other with varying degrees of completeness.[3]

An adventurer from Netheril known only as Finder,[2][13] uncovered the scrolls among the ruins of Aryvandaar, a fallen sun elven empire. These elves, however, had not dared to use the power of the scrolls themselves.[14] After the discovery, the Netherese started to base their magic on the scrolls' theory, instead of the elves', for their magic followed inferior standards.[15]

After the discovery of the Nether Scrolls, the arcane might of Netheril increased immeasurably.[14] They learnt to craft mythallar[16] and utilized that magical technology to create the fantastic flying cities of their empire,[2] exceeding the power of their former magical mentors, the elves of Eaerlann.[15][17] This newfound power only lasted for the short duration before the empire's fall,[18] due to the catastrophe of Karsus's Folly.[19]

Numerous powerful Netherese artifacts were created using information from the Ars Factum chapter of the scrolls, including the Crown of Horns and the Scepter of the Sorcerer-Kings.[5] A number of books have been written about the scrolls, including the appropriately named tome The Nether Scrolls[20] and History of the Nether Scrolls, the latter of which was quite rare and valued at over 5,000 gp.[21]

Known Scrolls[edit | edit source]

Things are not as they seem. Seeming is illusion. Illusion is change. Things change.
— Line one of column one, Arcanum Fundare Tiersus: Of fundamental or basic magic or mystery, the third lessen or chapter.[22]

While the Nether Scrolls had no direct magical powers, they provided a vast body of supply of arcane knowledge.[5] It would take eight hours of study a day, for three tendays in order to even begin to comprehend the contents of a single scroll.[7]

The tomb of Hsssthak once contained Nether Scrolls known to the ancient elves to contain a pair of spells that could allow lizardfolk to gain much power and prestige.[23] These scrolls contained the awaken intelligence and alter beast spells.[24]

As mentioned above, every mage, knowing or not, based their magic on the theory of the Nether Scrolls. Reading the ten scrolls that made up a chapter gave a reader comprehensive and holistic knowledge that expressed itself in special permanent abilities.[25]

Chapters[edit | edit source]

The five chapters of the Nether Scrolls were:

Arcanus Fundare
The chapter "Foundations of Magic" was about fundamental magic. It gave the reader an instant boost to their spells' effectiveness and magical skill matching and/or surpassing that of true masters, but no additional base magical power.[5][3]
Magicus Creare
The chapter "Spells of Creation" was about magic item creation. Reading it provided the user with the ability to create new magic items and the ability to create any magic item with less expenditure of one's essence.[5][26]
Maior Creare
The chapter "Major Creation" dealt also with the creation of magic items but with the focus on constructs. It made the reader not only understand how to construct constructs but also how to reliably create them at top quality without any fluctuation.[5][26]
Planus Mechanus
The chapter "Studies of the Planes" dealt with the planes and allowed the reader to use plane shift and to not suffer any negative effects from other planes' environments.[5][26]
Ars Factum
The chapter "Of the Creation of Artifacts" Its contents were unknown, though naturally it was suspected to deal with making artifacts. This chapter's scrolls required some kind of key to be read, but it was never discovered.[5][26]

History[edit | edit source]

You may have heard of them before as the Nether Scrolls, from which the arcanists of that ancient nation built their power and magical tradition. But let me tell you, the scrolls were ancient before the first towns of humans were founded on the shores of the Narrow Sea.
— The Terraseer circa 1375 DR.[27]


In around −30,000 DR, the Nether Scrolls[14] or, as they were then known, the Golden Skins of the World Serpent,[1] were created in Oreme[14] by the sarrukh. They sought to gather all magical knowledge from their vast empire's borders into one location, in order to consolidate their arcane power. This effort spawned its own secret society, the Ba'etith, and lasted thousands of years after the fall of the empires of the Creator Races. Their creation included magic from the batrachi and aearee, but did not include that of the fey or humans.[5][8]

The Netherese discovered the scrolls amid the ruins of Aryvandaar in −3533 DR,[15] marking the beginning of the Nether Age of the empire.

They abandoned the forms of magic being taught to them by their elven neighbors, and refocused their search for arcane power with the newly-found scrolls.[28][29][30] The enigmatic being known as the Terraseer arrived in Netheril about a century later, aiding its people with the translation and understanding of many of the Nether Scrolls,[31][32][33] as part of a grand experiment.[27]

After over 400 years of study, the elves of Cormanthyr stole one set of the Nether Scrolls in −3095 DR and hid it away in Windsong Tower in the city of Cormanthor.[29][34][35] At an unknown date afterwards, Tyvollus Aluviirsan transformed one set of the Nether Scrolls into the Quess'Ar'Teranthvar.[36]

Several centuries later, in −2436 DR, seven of Netheril's remaining Nether Scrolls were stolen by an unknown thief and returned to several creator race ruins: three were returned to the Hall of Mists underneath the Grandfather Tree in the High Forest, two to the Crypt of Hssthak in the western stretch of what would become the Anauroch desert,[37] and two remained unaccounted for as of the 14th century DR.[38]

In −1896 DR, a band of thieves stole 24 parts of the Nether Scrolls from the chambers of Ioulaum. Frightened of being discovered, they mashed the scrolls into golden lumps and sold them.[39] All the remaining Nether Scrolls were stolen from their Netherese keepers in −664 DR, while they were being transported from Seveton to the enclave of Eileanar, enclave of the famous Karsus.[40][41]

After the fall of Netheril, during the time of the Lost Kingdom of Anauria, the of the scrolls was recovered by Prince Hamukai an interred within a crypt in the city of Azumar. After almost being stolen by the blue dragon Zikzokrishka, the prince offered to sacrifice his life in a manner to seal the vault with magic and protect the scroll from future theft.[42]

During the 14th century DR, in the Year of Moonfall, 1344 DR, the three scrolls that lay within the Hall of Mists were taken by the human bard Mintiper Moonsilver and taken to other destinations.[43]

In Year of Maidens, 1361 DR,[44] one of the scrolls was found in the ruins of Dekanter by a lone alhoon that ascended up from the Underdark. For seven years, scroll was used by the alhoon to conduct experiments on the local goblin populations,[45] before it was recovered by a hedge mage named Druhallen. The mage then gave the scroll to Lady Wyndyfarh, a mysterious agent of Mystra, who secreted away for safe-keeping.[46]

The whereabouts one of the scrolls were uncovered around the Year of the Gauntlet, 1369 DR, by the former Red Wizard Edwin Odesseiron. He tracked down the scroll to an underground crypt beneath the Graveyard District of Athkatla in western Faerûn.[47]

Six years later, in the Year of Risen Elfkin, 1375 DR, Hadrhune and Shadovar agents of Thultanthar managed to break into the reemergent city of Myth Drannor and stole the Quess'Ar'Teranthvar from beneath Windsong Tower. In response, Darcassan the Farseer conscripted a band of adventurers to ensure the tree, and thus the Weave itself, was not corrupted by the followers of Shar. The adventurers used the Chalice of Amaunator dissolve the tree into the original scrolls, and scattered them across the Realms.[48]

During the late 15th century DR, in the Year of Three Ships Sailing, 1492 DR, a group of adventurers discovered the Nether Scroll of Azumar, though its final fate was unknown.[49]

Rumors & Legends[edit | edit source]

The origin of the scrolls was know to very few beings. Some scholars could attribute their creation to one or more of the creator races, without knowledge of which were involved , while others believed they came from another crystal sphere, or were bestowed upon humanity by the goddess Mystryl.[5]

Appendix[edit | edit source]

Appearances[edit | edit source]

Adventures
Candlekeep Mysteries: "Alkazaar's Appendix"
Novels
The Nether Scroll
Video Games
Referenced only
Neverwinter NightsNeverwinter Nights 2

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Brian R. James, Ed Greenwood (September 2007). The Grand History of the Realms. Edited by Kim Mohan, Penny Williams. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 8. ISBN 978-0-7869-4731-7.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Ed Greenwood, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, Rob Heinsoo (June 2001). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 261. ISBN 0-7869-1836-5.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 3.8 3.9 Richard Baker, Ed Bonny, Travis Stout (February 2005). Lost Empires of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 156. ISBN 0-7869-3654-1.
  4. Lynn Abbey (September 2000). The Nether Scroll. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 290. ISBN 0-7869-1566-8.
  5. 5.00 5.01 5.02 5.03 5.04 5.05 5.06 5.07 5.08 5.09 5.10 5.11 5.12 5.13 5.14 slade, James Butler (November 1996). Netheril: Empire of Magic (Encyclopedia Arcana). (TSR, Inc.), p. 8. ISBN 0-7869-0437-2.
  6. slade, et al. (April 1996). “The Wilderness”. In James Butler ed. The North: Guide to the Savage Frontier (TSR, Inc.), p. 81. ISBN 0-7869-0391-0.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Adam Lee, Michele Carter, Christopher Perkins (March 2021). “Alkazaar's Appendix”. In Michele Carter ed. Candlekeep Mysteries (Wizards of the Coast), p. 210. ISBN 978-0-7869-6722-3.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Ed Greenwood, Eric L. Boyd, Darrin Drader (July 2004). Serpent Kingdoms. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 55. ISBN 0-7869-3277-5.
  9. {{Cite book/Anauroch: The Empire of Shade|100}
  10. Steven E. Schend and Kevin Melka (1998). Cormanthyr: Empire of the Elves. (TSR, Inc), p. 158. ISBN 0-7069-0761-4.
  11. Greg A. Vaughan, Skip Williams, Thomas M. Reid (November 2007). Anauroch: The Empire of Shade. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 117. ISBN 0-7869-4362-9.
  12. Lynn Abbey (September 2000). The Nether Scroll. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 292. ISBN 0-7869-1566-8.
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 slade, James Butler (November 1996). Netheril: Empire of Magic (The Winds of Netheril). (TSR, Inc.), p. 5. ISBN 0-7869-0437-2.
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 Greg A. Vaughan, Skip Williams, Thomas M. Reid (November 2007). Anauroch: The Empire of Shade. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 102. ISBN 0-7869-4362-9.
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 Brian R. James, Ed Greenwood (September 2007). The Grand History of the Realms. Edited by Kim Mohan, Penny Williams. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 28. ISBN 978-0-7869-4731-7.
  16. Jason Carl, Sean K. Reynolds (October 2001). Lords of Darkness. Edited by Michele Carter. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 80. ISBN 07-8691-989-2.
  17. Kim Mohan ed. (2015). Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 16. ISBN 978-0786965809.
  18. Reynolds, Forbeck, Jacobs, Boyd (March 2003). Races of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 40. ISBN 0-7869-2875-1.
  19. Jason Carl, Sean K. Reynolds (October 2001). Lords of Darkness. Edited by Michele Carter. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 81. ISBN 07-8691-989-2.
  20. BioWare (June 2002). Designed by Brent Knowles, James Ohlen. Neverwinter Nights. Atari.
  21. BioWare (December 1998). Designed by James Ohlen. Baldur's Gate. Black Isle Studios.
  22. Lynn Abbey (September 2000). The Nether Scroll. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 291. ISBN 0-7869-1566-8.
  23. Ed Greenwood et al. (1989). Lords of Darkness. (TSR, Inc), p. 34. ISBN 0-88038-622-3.
  24. Ed Greenwood et al. (1989). Lords of Darkness. (TSR, Inc), p. 39. ISBN 0-88038-622-3.
  25. Richard Baker, Ed Bonny, Travis Stout (February 2005). Lost Empires of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 156–157. ISBN 0-7869-3654-1.
  26. 26.0 26.1 26.2 26.3 Richard Baker, Ed Bonny, Travis Stout (February 2005). Lost Empires of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 157. ISBN 0-7869-3654-1.
  27. 27.0 27.1 Greg A. Vaughan, Skip Williams, Thomas M. Reid (November 2007). Anauroch: The Empire of Shade. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 102. ISBN 0-7869-4362-9.
  28. Steven E. Schend and Kevin Melka (1998). Cormanthyr: Empire of the Elves. (TSR, Inc), p. 11. ISBN 0-7069-0761-4.
  29. 29.0 29.1 Ed Greenwood, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, Rob Heinsoo (June 2001). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 268. ISBN 0-7869-1836-5.
  30. Steven E. Schend and Kevin Melka (1998). Cormanthyr: Empire of the Elves. (TSR, Inc), p. 33. ISBN 0-7069-0761-4.
  31. Greg A. Vaughan, Skip Williams, Thomas M. Reid (November 2007). Anauroch: The Empire of Shade. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 86. ISBN 0-7869-4362-9.
  32. Greg A. Vaughan, Skip Williams, Thomas M. Reid (November 2007). Anauroch: The Empire of Shade. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 90. ISBN 0-7869-4362-9.
  33. Brian R. James, Ed Greenwood (September 2007). The Grand History of the Realms. Edited by Kim Mohan, Penny Williams. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 27. ISBN 978-0-7869-4731-7.
  34. Steven E. Schend and Kevin Melka (1998). Cormanthyr: Empire of the Elves. (TSR, Inc), p. 34. ISBN 0-7069-0761-4.
  35. Brian R. James, Ed Greenwood (September 2007). The Grand History of the Realms. Edited by Kim Mohan, Penny Williams. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 29. ISBN 978-0-7869-4731-7.
  36. Greg A. Vaughan, Skip Williams, Thomas M. Reid (November 2007). Anauroch: The Empire of Shade. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 124. ISBN 0-7869-4362-9.
  37. Ed Greenwood, Eric L. Boyd, Darrin Drader (July 2004). Serpent Kingdoms. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 96. ISBN 0-7869-3277-5.
  38. Brian R. James, Ed Greenwood (September 2007). The Grand History of the Realms. Edited by Kim Mohan, Penny Williams. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 31. ISBN 978-0-7869-4731-7.
  39. slade, James Butler (November 1996). Netheril: Empire of Magic (The Winds of Netheril). (TSR, Inc.), pp. 8–9. ISBN 0-7869-0437-2.
  40. Brian R. James, Ed Greenwood (September 2007). The Grand History of the Realms. Edited by Kim Mohan, Penny Williams. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 41. ISBN 978-0-7869-4731-7.
  41. slade, James Butler (November 1996). Netheril: Empire of Magic (The Winds of Netheril). (TSR, Inc.), p. 10. ISBN 0-7869-0437-2.
  42. Adam Lee, Michele Carter, Christopher Perkins (March 2021). “Alkazaar's Appendix”. In Michele Carter ed. Candlekeep Mysteries (Wizards of the Coast), p. 199. ISBN 978-0-7869-6722-3.
  43. Brian R. James, Ed Greenwood (September 2007). The Grand History of the Realms. Edited by Kim Mohan, Penny Williams. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 139. ISBN 978-0-7869-4731-7.
  44. Lynn Abbey (September 2000). The Nether Scroll. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 52. ISBN 0-7869-1566-8.
  45. Lynn Abbey (September 2000). The Nether Scroll. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 185–187. ISBN 0-7869-1566-8.
  46. Lynn Abbey (September 2000). The Nether Scroll. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 300–301. ISBN 0-7869-1566-8.
  47. BioWare (September 2000). Designed by James Ohlen, Kevin Martens. Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn. Black Isle Studios.
  48. Greg A. Vaughan, Skip Williams, Thomas M. Reid (November 2007). Anauroch: The Empire of Shade. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 117. ISBN 0-7869-4362-9.
  49. Adam Lee, Michele Carter, Christopher Perkins (March 2021). “Alkazaar's Appendix”. In Michele Carter ed. Candlekeep Mysteries (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 210–211. ISBN 978-0-7869-6722-3.
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