Smokepowder was the Realms magical alchemical equivalent of black powder.[1]

The night breeze still smelt of burning wood and men, but at least the screams had stopped. As oily smoke bid the last stars from view, the flames dancing amid the rocks below found the precious smoke powder deep in the hold of the Kissing Shark and flared up in fresh fury, spitting spars and embers high into the air... The sea shook, and a fierce ball of flames rose up into the sky with slow, ponderous fury.
—  An excerpt from The Mercenaries[3]

Creation[edit | edit source]

It was made from a combination of saltpeter and other ingredients. The alchemist Surero claimed to use a combination of 75% sulfur, 10% saltpeter and 15% charcoal mixed together in sacks to create the substance. [4].

History[edit | edit source]

The secret to making smokepowder was given by Gond to the Lantanese for sheltering him during the Time of Troubles in 1358 DR. The church of Gond was one of the few manufacturers of smokepowder. It was banned in many cities and a source of friction as it was considered dangerous to use and a threat to the status quo.[5]

Following the destruction of Lantan during the Spellplague, many artificers considered the secrets behind smokepowder to have been lost.[6]

For much of the 14th century DR, the nation of Cormyr only allowed the importation or creation of smokepowder by those who had a license from the Crown, but these licenses came with a variety of conditions and they came with a 500 gp fee. Most often the importer wasn't permitted to take the substance into Arabel or further south than Waymoot. Their licensing fee paid for two War Wizards and two members of the Purple Dragons to watch over the substance.[7]

In addition to the license, those importing smokepowder to Cormyr were required to give a detailed report to a War Wizard or their second-in-command that explained their reasons for importing it, where and how it would be stored in the meantime, and when it would be used, among other other things. Approval was generally more lenient for those who cited a desire to conquer the Stonelands. Furthermore, any attempts to sell, gift, or hide smokepowder would result in a confiscation order that would be carried out by dozens of ruthless War Wizards and Purple Dragons.[7]

In the 1480 DR, smokepowder was largely a banned substance in the city of Waterdeep. The people who had official access to it were guardsmen. To a limited degree members of the Watchful Order also had access for the purposes of experimentation, though such experiments had to be observed and supervised by officials. Around this same time, the substance could be covertly bought in small quantities at the black markets of Luskan and Westgate, though one was liable to attract the attention of spies.[7]

Scornubel, as well as later on Downshadow and Mistshore, were some of the few places in the 14th century where one could openly and freely purchase smokepowder.[7]

Around 1372 DR, the city of Telflamm was considered a gateway for smokepowder and other eastern goods into the rest of Faerûn.[8]

Reputation[edit | edit source]

Across the Realms, many had misconceptions regarding the safety and effectiveness of this substance. It was most often viewed as being unreliable and some form of dangerous or corruptive magic.[7] Smokepowder had a similar reputation among inhabitants of the Demiplane of Dread, especially the Vistani.[9]

Notable Users of Smokepowder[edit | edit source]

  • The Red Wizards of Thay were known to have developed large siege guns that operated on smokepowder. However, these were largely inaccurate and each shot consumed over a hundred charges.[10]
  • In the land of Kara-Tur, there were known to be small rockets that were fueled by smokepowder.[10]
  • By 1372 DR, the use of smokepowder was known to be quite common among rock gnomes.[11]
  • the city-state of Innarlith on the Lake of Steam made use of smokepowder in order excavate the trench for the canal that was dug between the Lake of Steam and the Nagaflow in the mid-14th century DR[12]

Appendix[edit | edit source]

Appearances[edit | edit source]

Waterdeep: Dragon Heist
The Mercenaries
Video Games
Baldur's Gate III

External Links[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Sean K. Reynolds, Duane Maxwell, Angel McCoy (August 2001). Magic of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 165. ISBN 0-7869-1964-7.
  2. Christopher Perkins, James Haeck, James Introcaso, Adam Lee, Matthew Sernett (September 2018). Waterdeep: Dragon Heist. Edited by Jeremy Crawford. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 192. ISBN 978-0-7869-6625-7.
  3. Ed Greenwood (February 1998). The Mercenaries. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 1–2. ISBN 0-7869-0866-1.
  4. Philip Athans (September 2006). Lies of Light. (Wizards of the Coast), chap. 30. ISBN 0-7869-3237-6. - Note: the character in the book claims the formula like this - the actual recipe for gunpowder in the real world is 75% saltpeter and 10% sulfur
  5. Jeff Grubb and Ed Greenwood (1990). Forgotten Realms Adventures. (TSR, Inc), p. 12. ISBN 0-8803-8828-5.
  6. Doug Hyatt (September 2011). “Gond's Way: Artificers of the Realms”. In Steve Winter ed. Dragon #403 (Wizards of the Coast), p. 6.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 Ed Greenwood (October 2012). Ed Greenwood Presents Elminster's Forgotten Realms. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 125–126. ISBN 0786960345.
  8. Richard Baker, Matt Forbeck, Sean K. Reynolds (May 2003). Unapproachable East. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 184. ISBN 0-7869-2881-6.
  9. William W. Connors, Steve Miller, Cindi Rice, David Wise (1998). Champions of the Mists. Edited by Cindi Rice. (TSR, Inc.), pp. 29–30. ISBN 0-7869-0765-7.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Jeff Grubb and Ed Greenwood (1990). Forgotten Realms Adventures. (TSR, Inc), p. 11. ISBN 0-8803-8828-5.
  11. Ed Greenwood, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, Rob Heinsoo (June 2001). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 78, 97. ISBN 0-7869-1836-5.
  12. Philip Athans (September 2006). Lies of Light. (Wizards of the Coast), chap. 36. ISBN 0-7869-3237-6.
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