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A pool of radiance was a naturally occurring magical phenomenon that manifested as a liquid that resembled water notable for its shimmer, glow, and magical radiance. They were one of the most potent sources of arcane energy in the Realms.[3]

Pool belongs to the Lord of the Ruins. He says to kill, we kill. Pool glows brighter. The Lord of the Ruins grows stronger. We grow stronger. We kill more. Nobody stops us… Power to the pool!!
— A kobold, indoctrinated by Tyranthraxus.[4]

Description[]

The waters of pools of radiance were a form of raw magic. This was because the Weave of Faerûn, on occasion, amassed its energies in one place and the raw arcane energy always manifested as a glowing, radiant liquid. Sages described the pools as like exposed nerve clusters or lymph nodes of the body, serving the same role for the magical Weave. These pools of radiance could manifest in any place, be it in the middle of a scorching desert, a populated city, or a shaded grove of a secluded forest.[3]

The water from pools of radiance could not be bottled or separated from the main body of water. When attempted, the powers of the water dissipated within less than a minute.[5]

Effects[]

A mage attempting to tap into a pool of radiance to bolster his power is like lighting a candle with dragonbreath….
— Rephrased words of Elminster Aumar, the sage of Shadowdale.[3]

The phenomenon of the pools had a tumultuous history as it was both a blessing and a curse, carrying potent raw magical energy and its connection to the Weave. The pools had no agenda and no human morality and could potentially be misused to a dangerous degree.[3]

An arcane spellcaster could use a pool of radiance as a source of power, bolstering their own abilities to an incredibly high level. This fact made the pools highly sought after by wizards of all alignments and specializations. These pursuits, however, were incredibly perilous as the raw power of a pool was always much stronger than a wizard's will. Most spellcasters who found one of these magical nodes and attempted to manipulate them failed and faced magical backlashes and side effects. Yet many ambitious adventurers searched for pools to bathe in, drink, or just touch the magical waters trying to gain uncanny powers.[3]

The sheer unpredictability of the pools was their main danger. A living creature that came into direct contact with one could be completely unaffected by the exposed raw power if they lacked arcane skill or the innate ability to access the Weave. But when a creature of arcane talents or abilities touched the waters of a pool, they were almost certainly changed forever. These effects were truly random, with some beneficial and some horrible, and an overwhelming number of them resulted in death.[3] Sages were torn on the mechanics of the pools and their effects. Some theorized that creatures of pure heart could be given abilities to overcome their shortcomings after physically contacting a pool. This theory was backed only by an old story about a young boy from Waterdeep.[3]

An extension of the corrupted pool of radiance in Myth Drannor, a spawn pool.

Another danger of the pools of radiance was their vulnerability to corruption. Throughout history, the forces of evil and ambition discovered ways of tapping into the arcane energies of the pools and corrupting them via magic rituals or with the power of powerful creatures of the planes. When pools were corrupted, they often harnessed powers of death and destruction. These pools were sometimes referred to as pools of darkness.[5] The corruption was not exclusive to evil beings. Good powers were known to "corrupt" pools too, though these cases were mostly accidental. The pools reflected the natures of creatures that successfully tapped into their powers.[5]

Some of the effects on creatures touching a pool of radiance included:[5]

  • Growth of black snake scales all over their body while going blind and gaining extraordinary boons to other senses;
  • Instant death, returning to existence as an undead;
  • Instant aging;
  • Transformation into a gilled aquatic being that could only survive in salt water;
  • Change of size;
  • Instant death with the creature's life force becoming one with the pool;
  • An energy drain spell-like effect;
  • Transformation into an invisible form of themselves that only revealed their bones;
  • Constant emission of carrion stench;
  • Gaining the innate ability to telepathically communicate with dragons but be vulnerable to their fear effect;
  • Transformation into an undead being by all rules and definitions but remaining in the same form, shape, and skills as when alive;

And many others. All of the effects gained from the pools were permanent.[5]

Notable Powers[]

I coiled to strike, but a pool of ichor bubbled up out of the ground before me. Its scent is pure evil. Hungry. Unslakable. It drew my strength from me like water from a well. The pool basks in orcs' foulness. While it thrives there, I am helpless to destroy them.
— Odelinde, the guardian naga of Shaundakul's temple.[3]

The pools of radiance could be used to create many powerful magical effects. The pool in Myth Drannor was used to create a dome of force around Myth Drannor that was virtually impregnable.[6] The same pool, when it was located in Phlan, could corrupt weaker-minded creatures into worship of Tyranthraxus and was powered by the life energy and bodies of slain creatures.[7] The corruption of that pool was achieved by assembling the arcane figure of power, a hexagon that held ioun stones in its corners. When completed, the figure of power empowered the corrupted pool of radiance to not only enslave minds of orcs, kobolds, ogres, and such, but also humans, elves, and dwarves.[8]

The reawakened pool of darkness in Phlan and other cities of the Mooonsea region allowed their corrupter to transport entire cities.[9]

The pool of darkness underneath the tower of Marcus the Red Wizard was powerful enough that, if fueled with the souls of residents of Phlan, it could transform the corrupter into a demigod.[10]

The pool of radiance in Myth Drannor connected to other active and dormant pools and used them to consume life energies of creatures that surrounded them. The same pool was able to spawn undead out of lifeless husks of creatures it devoured. And lastly, the corrupted pool spread tendrils of itself, known as spawn pools across Myth Drannor, through which it dominated the minds of creatures that resided nearby, including dark nagas, orcs, orogs, and ormyrr.[11]

Notable Locations of Pools[]

  • Hillsfar: One of the cities that had a corrupted pool and was sent to Limbo by Bane.[12] The pool in Hillsfar was later reactivated by the Cult of the Dragon.[11]
  • Kranun's Crater: This pool was formed by the debris of a shooting star that fell to Toril on the Moonsea North.[13]
  • Mulmaster: The city became infested with one of the life-draining spawn pools originating from the Cult of the Dragon-corrupted pool in Myth Drannor.[14]
  • Myth Drannor: Within the depths of Castle Cormanthor's sub-levels and Elven Catacombs laid a pool of radiance chamber. The pool was corrupted by the Cult of the Dragon in 1369 DR and later dispersed by the Veiled Ones.[11] Another pool was created by Tyranthraxus in the temple of Labelas Enoreth, later destroyed.[6]
  • Phlan: the pool taken over by Tyranthraxus and corrupted into a boiling-hot golden-hued[7] pool of darkness.[9] The pool made numerous returns through the Moonsea region's history.[11]
  • Shadowdale: One of the cities where the corrupted pool spread under the control of the Cult of the Dragon.[15]
  • Shadowfell: pools of radiance could form outside of the Prime Material plane. One such pool could be found in Evernight's Temple of Filth, where it formed around a powerful artifact harmful to the local undead. The ghouls called it the pool of daylight.[2]
  • Thay: The infamous Red Wizard Marcus's tower was built on top of a spacious cavern that housed a powerful pool of darkness. It was later transformed into the pool of twilight.[10]
  • Waterdeep: The nearby countryside on the outskirts of the City of Splendors had a small pool of radiance, if the stories were to be believed.[3]

History[]

The pool of radiance cavern underneath Castle Cormanthor.

In the mid–14th century DR, a pool of radiance was discovered in Phlan, in the caves underneath Valjevo Castle. An ancient being called Tyranthraxus slumbered within its magical waters.[16] He possessed the body of a bronze dragon who'd decided to take a bath in the ethereal glowing waters.[9] The parasitic creature used dark arcane rituals to corrupt the pool, turning it into the pool of darkness. Tyranthraxus used the pool's power to take over Valjevo Castle and rule over the monsters who resided in the ruined part of Phlan. A group of heroes including Ren o' the Blade, Shal Bal, and Tarl Desanea rose against the possessing spirit and broke his control of the pool. As Tyranthraxus lost his body, and the pool was defeated, the spirit leaped into the receding waters of raw magical energy, allowing him to escape.[9]

Tyranthraxus possessed the pool, transporting part of it to the ruins of Myth Drannor. The possessing spirit took residence in the ruined temple of Labelas Enoreth and created the new pool of radiance on the second floor of the temple in the form of a majestic fountain. The possessing spirit forged an alliance with powerful beings and organizations and used their knowledge to tap into the power of the pool once again. Tyranthraxus used the pool to place a magical dome of force around the ruins of Myth Drannor, claiming it as his domain.[6] The heroes of Phlan, aided by hero Alias and her companions, eventually defeated Tyranthraxus and used the Gauntlets of Moander to "devour" the corrupted pool.[17]

A decade later, the god Bane assembled an alliance of dark powers, helmed by a Red Wizard of Thay named Marcus to reawaken the pools of radiance in Phlan and other cities across the Moonsea region. He used the pools' power to corrupt them and power his divine magics, transporting the cities into the nether realms. Phlan was sent to a gargantuan underground cavern while other affected cities were swept away to the plane of Limbo.[18] The Heroes of Phlan were within the city when it was abducted, and with the help of new allies, Evaine, Gamaliel, and Miltiades, the heroes prevailed, returning the cities and draining the pools once again.[9]

Following the Time of Troubles in 1358 DR, the pool in Phlan was nothing but ordinary fresh water.[19] Nevertheless, the city placed guards around the pool chamber, as well as in front of Kuto's Well, its entrance.[20]

In the Year of the Gauntlet, 1369 DR, the Cult of the Dragon seized a newly formed pool of radiance in the caverns underneath Castle Cormanthor. Led by the powerful sorceress and Wearer of the Purple Kya Mordrayn, and advised by her general, the dracolich Pelendralaar, the cultists used their dark arcane knowledge to corrupt the pool, turning its silvery clear waters sickeningly green.[11] Through the corrupted pool, Kya was able to reach other active and dormant pools across Faerûn, corrupting them and, in turn, draining magic and life forces across the Moonsea region. Mordrayn was able to tap into Myth Drannor's mythal using the pools to turn it into her weapon.[21] The ritual required the dracolich to be completely submerged in the pool, allowing the cultist full control of raw corrupted magic.[11] The Cult of the Dragon was able to use corrupted pools to turn creatures fallen to the life-stealing magics of the pools into undead, relentlessly assaulting the same cities that were taken by Bane years ago.[11]

Two groups of heroes stopped the Cult of the Dragon's plans: the Veiled Ones sent by Elminster Aumar and accidental heroes who were searching for villagers abducted by the cult. Working independently, both groups stopped the cult by destroying the dracolich's phylactery and the undead wyrm. Kya Mordrayn was dragged into the Abyss by her dark benefactors for failing in her mission. And the Veiled Ones repaired the mythal and used the Gauntlets of Moander to "devour" the corrupted pool.[11]

Circa the Year of the Ageless One, 1479 DR, a pool formed in the Shadowfell's twisted echo of Neverwinter, Evernight. The local ghoul population was willing to tell anyone who listened about the pool of daylight, bright as the sun, radiating energy harmful to the undead, burning any such creature that entered its chamber. A mysterious magical device at the bottom of the pool affected the raw magic, turned it into a weapon of sorts. The ghoul of the Temple of Filth guarded the pool mostly to keep it from falling into some do-gooder's hands and being used against them. It was unclear if the pool of radiance formed around the item or if someone threw it into the pool of raw magic.[2]

In the Year of Dwarvenkind Reborn, 1488 DR, during the Cult of the Dragon's seizure of power in the Moonsea region, the Red Wizard Rorreth Monforoth allied himself with the cult and was set on a quest to find the inert pool of radiance in Phlan and reconnect it with the Weave. The cult was planning to corrupt the pool of radiance and make it supply them with an army of the dead.[22]

In the Year of the Warrior Princess, 1489 DR, a meteor formed Kraunun's Crater and spawned a pool of radiance at its bottom. One of the stone giants of the area touched the magical waters and was possessed by Tyranthraxus, who at some point in the past had retreated into the pools. The possessor took over the green dragon Vorgansharax of the Cult of the Dragon as the cultists arrived to claim the powerful raw magics of the pool. The Cult was able to connect the newly formed pool to the old waning pool in Phlan.[23]

Deactivation[]

I performed the requested research for you, and you are wrong. It is only the gauntlets, not the appearance of Moander himself, which can devour the Pool of Radiance. This further weakens your argument to bring "old moldy" back onto this plane.

There were very few methods of closing, dispersing, or destroying a pool of radiance. If left uncorrupted, a pool of radiance eventually disappeared back into the Weave. Some rare and powerful artifacts could affect the pools, usually items that carried divine magic.[17] Using spells akin to dispel magic rendered a pool inert for one minute only.[25]

  • Gauntlets of Moander: The unique set of enchanted gauntlets that were created to destroy and "devour" pools of radiance. The gauntlets were inherently tied to the pools to such a level that when there were no active pools of radiance, the gauntlets were dormant, losing even the most basic of enchantments.[26]
  • Hammer of Tyr: The holy relic of the god of justice Tyr was instrumental in countering the raw power of the pool of darkness corrupted by Bane. The relic needed to be simply submerged into the waters of the pool with a prayer to the deity.[27]

Certain enchanted items could also detect the pools of radiance. For example, the Helm of Dragons could sense them from as far as 500 mi (800 km).[28]

Mythals, notably the one that was placed around the ruins of Myth Drannor, were known to protect against and stop spreading of the corruption of pools of darkness via its spawn pools.[29]

Rumors & Legends[]

  • The legendary status of the pools of radiance came not only from historical accords but also from countless stories and legends of creatures encountering the "magical pools of water" and gaining remarkable powers and abilities. The sages confirmed some of these stories as being truthful, while others were greatly exaggerated over time.[3]
  • A popular tale spoke of a Waterdhavian child who was blinded by a sickness early in life. One day he came across a small pool of magical, radiant water while playing outside. The pool had not been there before and disappeared soon after. Parched, the blind boy drank from the pool. Minutes later, he was clutching his eyes, screaming of the bright light hurting his eyes. As the evening fell, the boy realized he could see in total darkness as if it were daylight.[3]
  • Many old stories that talked about the pools also mentioned the ancient creature of possession, somehow intricately tied to the magics of the pools. Tyranthraxus was one of the very few creatures who could control, move, and even reside within the pools of radiance.[30]

Appendix[]

See Also[]

Appearances[]

Adventures
Ruins of AdventureCurse of the Azure BondsPool of Radiance: Attack on Myth Drannor
Novels
Pool of RadiancePool of DarknessPool of TwilightPool of Radiance: Ruins of Myth Drannor
Video Games
Pool of RadianceCurse of the Azure BondsPools of DarknessPool of Radiance: Ruins of Myth Drannor
Licensed Adventures
Dues for the DeadTyranny in PhlanPool of Radiance Resurgent

References[]

  1. James Ward, Anne K. Brown (November 1993). Pool of Twilight. (TSR, Inc), p. 27. ISBN 1-5607-6582-8.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Matt Sernett, Erik Scott de Bie, Ari Marmell (August 2011). Neverwinter Campaign Setting. Edited by Tanis O'Connor. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 205. ISBN 0-7869-5814-6.
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 Sean K. Reynolds (2000). Pool of Radiance: Attack on Myth Drannor. Edited by Michele Carter. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 73. ISBN 0-7869-1710-5.
  4. James Ward, Jane Cooper Hong (November 1989). Pool of Radiance. (TSR, Inc), chap. 5, p. 122. ISBN 0-8803-8735-1.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 Sean K. Reynolds (2000). Pool of Radiance: Attack on Myth Drannor. Edited by Michele Carter. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 74. ISBN 0-7869-1710-5.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Jeff Grubb and George MacDonald (April 1989). Curse of the Azure Bonds. (TSR, Inc.), p. 71. ISBN 978-0880386067.
  7. 7.0 7.1 James Ward, Jane Cooper Hong (November 1989). Pool of Radiance. (TSR, Inc), chap. 6, p. 132. ISBN 0-8803-8735-1.
  8. James Ward, Jane Cooper Hong (November 1989). Pool of Radiance. (TSR, Inc), p. 208. ISBN 0-8803-8735-1.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 John Terra (January 1995). “Player's Guide”. In Allison Lassieur ed. The Moonsea (TSR, Inc.), p. 32. ISBN 978-0786900923.
  10. 10.0 10.1 James Ward, Anne K. Brown (November 1993). Pool of Twilight. (TSR, Inc), p. 47. ISBN 1-5607-6582-8.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 11.5 11.6 11.7 Stormfront Studios (2001). Designed by Mark Buchignani, Ken Eklund, Sarah W. Stocker. Pool of Radiance: Ruins of Myth Drannor. Ubisoft Entertainment.
  12. James M. Ward and Anne K. Brown (1992). Pools of Darkness. (Wizards of the Coast), p. ?. ISBN 978-1560763185.
  13. Chris Tulach (2015/03/01). Pool of Radiance Resurgent (DDEX1-13) (PDF). D&D Adventurers League: Tyranny of Dragons (Wizards of the Coast), p. 5.
  14. Carrie Bebris (2001). Pool of Radiance: Ruins of Myth Drannor. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 111–112. ISBN 0-7869-1387-8.
  15. Carrie Bebris (2001). Pool of Radiance: Ruins of Myth Drannor. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 112. ISBN 0-7869-1387-8.
  16. Mike Breault, David "Zeb" Cook, Jim Ward, Steve Winter (August 1988). Ruins of Adventure. (TSR, Inc.), p. 3. ISBN 978-0880385886.
  17. 17.0 17.1 Jeff Grubb and George MacDonald (April 1989). Curse of the Azure Bonds. (TSR, Inc.), p. 79. ISBN 978-0880386067.
  18. James M. Ward and Anne K. Brown (1992). Pools of Darkness. (Wizards of the Coast), p. ?. ISBN 978-1560763185.
  19. John Terra (January 1995). “Player's Guide”. In Allison Lassieur ed. The Moonsea (TSR, Inc.), p. 34. ISBN 978-0786900923.
  20. John Terra (January 1995). “Player's Guide”. In Allison Lassieur ed. The Moonsea (TSR, Inc.), p. 37. ISBN 978-0786900923.
  21. Sean K. Reynolds (2000). Pool of Radiance: Attack on Myth Drannor. Edited by Michele Carter. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 3. ISBN 0-7869-1710-5.
  22. Steve Winter (2014-08-28). Dues for the Dead (DDEX1-4) (PDF). D&D Adventurers League: Tyranny of Dragons (Wizards of the Coast), p. 5.
  23. Chris Tulach (2015/03/01). Pool of Radiance Resurgent (DDEX1-13) (PDF). D&D Adventurers League: Tyranny of Dragons (Wizards of the Coast), p. 10.
  24. Jeff Grubb and George MacDonald (April 1989). Curse of the Azure Bonds. (TSR, Inc.), p. 48. ISBN 978-0880386067.
  25. Chris Tulach (2015/03/01). Pool of Radiance Resurgent (DDEX1-13) (PDF). D&D Adventurers League: Tyranny of Dragons (Wizards of the Coast), p. 18.
  26. Jeff Grubb and George MacDonald (April 1989). Curse of the Azure Bonds. (TSR, Inc.), p. 90. ISBN 978-0880386067.
  27. James M. Ward and Anne K. Brown (1992). Pools of Darkness. (Wizards of the Coast), p. ?. ISBN 978-1560763185.
  28. Jeff Grubb and George MacDonald (April 1989). Curse of the Azure Bonds. (TSR, Inc.), p. 89. ISBN 978-0880386067.
  29. Stormfront Studios (2001). Designed by Mark Buchignani, Ken Eklund, Sarah W. Stocker. Pool of Radiance: Ruins of Myth Drannor. Ubisoft Entertainment.
  30. Jeff Grubb and George MacDonald (April 1989). Curse of the Azure Bonds. (TSR, Inc.), p. 91. ISBN 978-0880386067.