Sayings of the Races


Waterdeep and the North:
That hound won’t hunt.
—Of an ill-conceived plan or scheme, a mild insult.

Counting Coin.
—Thieve’s cant expression meaning to size up or case a particular potential victim, particularly for a cut-purse job.

To sell slaves in Silverymoon.
—To do something that violates local law/custom in a particularly outrageous and obvious way and then say: >I didn’t know any better.

When the walls fall down.
—In Waterdeep, to mean When Hell freezes over.

To miss the tide.
—In Waterdeep, to miss out on a wonderful opportunity because of bad planning.

Auril’s Kiss.
—A sudden realization of something terrible; a cold slap in the face.

Beshaba’s Bad Breath!
—Oath/Curse meaning that things just couldn’t get any worse. Also sometimes as It stinks of Beshaba’s Breath, meaning that a given course of action seems unlucky.

Between the Dragon and the Desert.
—As in Between the Devil and the Deep; to be caught between two equally unattractive possibilities.

*Cyric’s Sword!"
—A curse and a double entendre. It is generally frowned upon and considered bad luck to mention the Dark Sun’s name.

(Note: History/Literature are replete with examples of curses and oath’s by the genitals of various deities. The best example is the common shakespearism: ’od’s Bodkin, that is: God’s Dagger.)

Gond’s Gears!
—A curse, something unnecessarily complicated and unlikely to work.

Helm’s Hemorrhoids.
—A jest, irreverent, to deride a necessary but unappealing task.

By the light of Lathander.
—An oath or blessing by priest’s thereof.

Leira’s Lamentation(s).
—Something that is not what it seems, particularly feigned grief, a double entendre when spoken because Lliira (Our Lady of Joy) is pronounced the same way as Leira (Lady of the Mists).

Loviatar’s Caress.
—Something that hurts, also Loviatar’s Lash, for those less given to subtlety.

Mystra’s Miracles!
—An exclamation of surprise, as when something happens by unexpected magic, also note that >Miracles Fool’s Gold, or To take Fool’s Gold.
—An adventurer’s watchword meaning to take on an adventure so dangerous that only the god Torm (The True, the Foolish) would attempt.

Great Stinking Balls of Tempus!
—A battle cry, shouted with much gusto.

Tymora’s Smile, als The Lady’s Smile.
—A blessing or fond farewell. Good luck.

Bane’s Black Blood.
—An oath/curse, actually more common these days that the Black Lord is considered dead.

Many of the oath’s and curses found in Waterdeep and the North are also found here with the following additions:
By the Dragon!
—>By the King, When the Throne Topples.
When Hell freezes over.

Keep your Peace Knot tied.
—Don’t go getting all upset over nothing.

The difference between an adventurer and an idiot is difficult to determine, sometimes it is added: until you draw weapons. Also: The difference between and adventurer and an idiot can be tested by time: idiots live longer.

Before Selune began to cry.
—In the beginning; a damn long time ago.

Shardae (SHAR-day), “Winds blow.”
—A neutral elven greeting indicating that chance has brought you together.

To walk familiar paths.
—A metaphor, to remember, to dwell in the domain of elven memory.

The way of sword and bow.
—The warrior’s code; it is said of an elf who does something dishonorable: His bow is broken, his sword grown dull.

The way of harp and song.
—The minstrel’s code; it is said of a minstrel who has done something dishonorable: His harp is unstrung, his song’s forgotten.

To see the wind, also To hear the starshine.
—Euphemisms of this sort (sensory contradictions) are used when speaking of the recently dead. When I heard the stars shine on my Father’s house, I wept bitter tears, for he was a blessing to the People. (When my father died….)

Est eionivan ei tie Myotha. (Until the stones forget.)
—A green elven curse, pronounced in all seriousness on those who have done some great harm to the People. Based on the idea that all things have an anima or spirit which the People can speak with and that the stones have the longest memories.

Note: elves are not given, as a rule, to casual cursing or oathmaking. One of the worst things in elven society is to be an oath-breaker, therefore such things are not done in jest or exasperation, but only in earnest. Adventuring elves sometimes pick-up human expressions which shock other elves; if such expressions are translated back into elvish it is considered vulgar in the extreme.

By my beard!
—I’m being VERY serious.

His beard is long. or …longer than his years.
—He is wise/wiser than his youth would make him.

His axe is sharp.
—Said of a good strategic thinker.

Under the Mountain.
—Safe, well protected.

Open to the sky.
—Unsafe, unprotected.

That’s why archmages are at the top of the food chain.
—Annoying comment, pointing out the obvious after the fact.

Bring extra bowstrings.
—Come early and bring help.

You check with the sage, I’ll check with the barmaids.
—Warrior’s watchword.

As luck would have it.
—Annoying comment, especially by priests and followers of Tymora.

No more Firewine for the barbarian (wizard, dwarf, etc.).
—Said of someone going too far with a jest or scheme.

—Nick-name often given to green recruits.

“If you happen upon the skull of a dragon, leave that place quickly. For whatever killed it, may still be around." Thieves Proverb

The Wit and Wisdom of the Realms

“Curious happenstance abound and all burning hell breaks loose.”

Cyric, Shadowdale

- “Portions of your anatomy will be flaming if you do not cease this instant!”

Midnight, Shadowdale

- Finally she looked back and said to Kelemvor, “May I kill this man?”
Midnight, Shadowdale
- “I sent Adon back to convert Cyric to the ways of Sune.”
Kelemvor, Shadowdale
- “Being a woman!?” Midnight said biting back the spell that would turn the pompous ass into a species more suitable for his attitude.
Midnight, Shadowdale
- Cyric was prepared to assault the Twisted Tower. He was armed with a pair of daggers, a hand ax, several lengths of rope, a small black cylinder, and the skills of the Thieves’ Guild in Zhentil Keep.
Cyric, Tantras
- “Ah, of course!” Kelemvor snapped. “It will be better if we try to escape. Then they can have the pleasure of hunting us down again before they kill all three of us!”
Kelemvor, Tantras
- “Can you describe Elminster’s mood at the time.” Storm asked. The priest swallowed, " He was a bit cranky but he was Elminster after all."
Rhaymon, priest of Lathander, Tantras
- “A word great sage?” Hawksgaurd said. “Is it one that comes immediately to mind or shall I guess it?” Elminster muttered.
- Of course, Elminster had not survived more than five hundred winters in the Realms by being either a fool or a madman, though many claimed he was both.
- “I just hope one of those oaks knocks Bane’s avatar on the skull,” Elminster said. Then he threw the spell and headed back to his work.
Elminster, Shadowdale
- “She must have some of Mystra’s power in that little trinket. I must have it for my final assault on Helm and Ao.”
Bane, Shadowdale
- Midnight gasped unable to believe the avatar still lived. “What does it take to kill you?” Adon cried.
- “Mad?… perhaps. But with this, I wounded Bhaal. Imagine I injured a god!”
Cyric, Waterdeep
- “At least I killed a god before I died,” Cyric said triumphantly.
Cyric, Waterdeep
- “A strange lot are wizards. Human wizards even more than any others, so I’ve heard tell. Drow wizards practice for power. Svirfneblin practice to better know the stone. But human wizards,- Magga Cammara, dark elf, human wizards are a different lot altogether.”
- “The Sage of Shadowdale. He has seen some five hundred winters, and he is one of the most powerful mages in Faerun. Mind your manners to his face, Narm, if you would see the next morning as a man and not a toad or worse.”
Illistyl Elventree, Spellfire
- “This Elminster-is he in need of an apprentice?” Illistyl chuckled. “He enjoys having a ’prentice as much as coming down with a plague, as he has often put it. But you may ask.”
- “A man who fights bone devils with a stick of wood, afraid to ask a question of Elminster? He’d be most flattered to hear of your trepidation.”
Illistyl, Spellfire
- Illistyl nodded, winking at Mourngrym. “Adventurers and fools walk together, eh?” “Yes,” Mourngrym agreed. Only Illistyl saw a sparkle glimmering in his eye. “But which is which?”
- “Philosophers think and do nothing. Adventurers rush to be killed without a thought. A single thought as to what they’re facing would no doubt have them fleeing just as quickly!”
Torm, Spellfire
- “Just the two of you,” the ex-apprentice said, “and Rathan bellowing war cries. . . . and three breaths later you come back and tell me they’re dead.” Torm nodded. “It’s what usually happens,” he said, deadpan.
- “No, no,” he said. “Mistake me not . . . How can you just ride forward like that, knowing you face six foes, and at least one a master of art?”
“The war cries and all? Well, if you’re risking death, why not have fun?” Torm replied. "If I wanted to risk death without having fun, I’d be a tax collector, not a thief.
- “May Tymora smile upon thee, then,” Rathan grunted. “With being such a fool and all ye’ll need the full favor of the Lady’s luck to see even this day out. Don’t forget how to run for thy very life, now. The devils are the one’s with wings.” " Most of them," Torm agreed with a smile. “though they can be hard to see if blood is pouring into your eyes.”
- On facing magic: Run, or pray, or throw stones
Guldoum Tchar, Sayings of a wise and fat merchant
- “Is it dangerous?” Narm asked, feeling his anger rise. “Your lives both bid to be filled with danger,” Florin replied gently, “whether you kill this creature or not. Striving for something worthwhile and going to your graves is better than drifting in cowardice to you graves, is it not?”
- “Seventy cultists you said?” the cleric grunted. “And a dracolich. Let us not forget the dracolich,” Merith added dryly.
Merith Strongbow, Spellfire
- “Elminster!” the ranger said in clam, pleased greeting. “I know, I know . . . ye’re all delighted to see me, or will be if ye ever manage to make a light to see anything by.”
Elminster, Spellfire
- “Well met, indeed,” Elminster said dryly, “O releaser of balhiirs. We may as well get to know each other before the dying starts,”
Elminster, Spellfire
- “Now lie there, damn ye. It is hard enough convincing the Lady that healing an unrepentant servant of Silvanus like thyself is a devout act, without ye squirming around.”
Rathan, Spellfire
- “Are you finished, Torm?” Jhessail asked sweetly. “Or have you something else upon your tongue that needs spewing forth?”
Jhessail Silvertree, Spellfire
- The worst trouble with most mages is that they think they can change the world. The worst mistake the gods make is to let a few of them get away with it.
Nelve Harsaad, My Journeys Around the Sea of Fallen Stars
- “This is not a good time for us to fight a dragon,” Narm said in helpless frustration. “Lad,” Florin told him with rare humor, “it’s never a good time to fight a dragon.”
- If discomfort and danger be always at hand, why then adventure? There is something in mankind that leads some always to such foolishness, and the rest of us benefit by the riches and knowledge and dreams they bring us. Why else tolerate such dangerous idiots?
Helsuntiir, Musings
-The bards soon forget a warrior falling without a great feat of arms. Would you be forgotten? Face each battle, each foe, as though it is you last. One day it will be.
Dathlance, An Old Warriors Way

- “The simple solution to ill tidings,” Elminster informed the ceiling. “Have more to drink.”
Cloak of Shadows
- “A fine useful pair the two of ye are! Puffing up here just a breath or six too late, as usual.” Belkram and Itharr plunged to a halt, breathing hard, and exchanged an exasperated look. “That’s. . . our job,” Itharr gasped. “Rushing in . . . we’re Harpers, remember?”
Cloak of Shadows
- “Gods seem to feel the need to impress.”
Elminster, Cloak of Shadows
- “Be more worried about attacks when relieving thyself is of paramount importance, or when you’re hungry and downing weapons and wariness to eat.”
“The monster who disturbs my meal,” Belkram said darkly, “is liable to become my desert.”
Cloak of Shadows
- “Why not take the battle to this mysterious castle hideaway of the Malaugrym? If we’re dead anyway, what’s to be lost? Why not take some of them with us?”
“Spoken like a true Harper,” Belkram agreed.
“Spoken like a true idiot,” Sharantyr retorted
“There is often great similarity, yes?” Sylune said.
Cloak of Shadows
- “Just behave as if you know what your about and have every right to be doing it, and most folk will accept you,” Itharr said. “A fairly simple deception at heart, I suppose that’s why so many kings have managed it down the years.”
Cloak of Shadows
- “Friends, be very careful.”
Belkram sighed. “Everyone tells me that. . .aunts, mothers, tutors, passing merchants. . . even you and you and you. Doesn’t anyone want me to have any fun?”
“During your execution, or after?” Itharr inquired.
Cloak of Shadows
- “Heroes never do as they’re told,” Belkram informed her proudly.
Shar looked at him. “Has it ever occurred to you,” she asked dryly, “that such stone-headed habits might be why the term ‘dead’ usually goes in front of the title ‘hero’?”
Cloak of Shadows
- The lady Knight sighed. “Belt up,” she said calmly, “and put that sword away. You might hit someone with it.”
“Well, that is the general idea.”
Belkram, Cloak of Shadows
It is the doom of men that they not know enough wisdom until it is too late
Elminster, Shadows of Doom
- “You sound like one of the younger priests. What mage doesn’t walk towards death where’er he goes?”
Kalassyn of Zhentil Keep, Shadows of Doom
- “Those are Zhents or I’m a Calishite.” Belkram peered at him through the darkness.
“No,” he said, “you haven’t turned into a Calishite, and I can’t say I’ve noticed you oiling your hide and perfuming your gold coins these last few summers.” Itharr sighed theatrically.
“No? I try to be subtle.”
Shadows of Doom
- “Mages who walk in darkness cloak themselves in it and think themselves strong—until the day it swallows them, and they come not out again.”
Elminster, Shadows of Doom
- “Ever wonder why there are more evil mages than good ones?” he asked. “It’s because power like that makes it hideously easy to rule all about ye. Remember always, there is no such thing as a mage that is not dangerous.”
Elminster, Shadows of Doom
- “Priests and mages both are deadly to ye, boy. Deadly to us all. Mind ye keep ‘em busy for they’re most apt to get into trouble and do ye ill with underhanded work when they’ve time to plot and scheme and skulk. Keep ’em too busy to dig ye a grave.”
a drunk Zhent warrior, Shadows of Doom
- Even the best blade can grow dull, if it has to lop of too many reaching fingers.
Shadows of Doom
- “We’ll ask folk there if anyone’s seen Elminster of Shadowdale wandering about.”
“Aye,” Itharr grunted, reaching out of long habit for his blade. “And we’ll leap to our feet and try to carve a way out of the place, through seven or so handcounts of black-armored hireswords all howling for our blood.”
Belkram shrugged. “Right, so we’ll buy some dawnfry first and ask questions later.”
Shadows of Doom
- “If I’m to be fighting for my life,” he said, hefting his blade experimentally, “I’d prefer to do it knowing that I’ve at least had one last good meal.”
Itharr, Shadows of Doom
- “Let’s put on our best Harper smiles as we rush to certain death, hewing and slaying with the best of them.” he chirped brightly and mockingly, and skipped down out of the rocky hollow where they’d slept, whistling a merry tune.
Belkram sighed. “Why is it always my lot to share trail the lunatics?” he asked the gods above as he followed. As usual, the gods did not bother to answer.
Shadows of Doom
- “Harpers rush in”—he quoted an odd saying Elminster of Shadowdale had uttered just last summer, but which was already well known across the North— “where even fools fear to tread.”
Itharr, Shadows of Doom
- The man showed his teeth. “Smart tongues and ragged clothes usually mean Harpers,” he said, and turned to address the tables of armed men. “Take them!”
a Zhent soldier, Shadows of Doom
- “Some like to roll dice for coins, or trade goods, or even horses. Harpers and adventurers are the only folk who like to do it with their own lives.”
an old dalesman, Shadows of Doom
- “I didn’t think just catching up with a hundreds-of-years-old wizard would be this exciting,” Belkram replied, “Well, I’ve been wrong before.”
Shadows of Doom
- “Worried? Now why should you be worried? Not so long ago, you were attacking this castle alone!”
“Alone? I had a horse,” Elminster reminded her dryly.
Shadows of Doom
- “Friend,” he called out, “which way is this great hall?”
After a startled moment, the first voice answered laconically, " ‘Twould be most foolish treason to tell you that it is through here, turn right, and behind the double doors at the end of the straight passage—so I won’t tell you that."
a Zhent soldier, Shadows of Doom
- “Consider this: We are warriors of Zhentil Keep. We know much of killing.”
“You certainly know much of dying, after this day,” Itharr told him, “if this is all of you there are left.”
Shadows of Doom
- “Had enough, Old Mage?” she asked, challenging him.
“There’s no such thing as enough, lass,” Elminster told her severely. “After ye’ve seen a few hundred winters, ye’ll know that. There’s no such thing as too much, either. Only too little time to enjoy it in.” He winked again and added with apparent innocence, “That’s true for drinks, too.”
Shadows of Doom
- The slim maiden shook her head. “Against gods, I cannot act. Against runaway mages, I must act.”
Noumea (The Magister), Shadows of Doom

The Wit and Wisdom of the Realms

“But that’s the problem with Undermountain. It’s a whole lot easier to get in than it is to get out, as you’re bound to discover yourself.”

Escape from Undermountain, Beckla Shadesar

On reflection, Jehan Wands realized why most adventures begin in taverns. It takes a combination of noise, bustle, the late hour, wrong-headed opinions, and ale, all in specific amounts, to convince otherwise rational people to stupid things like go on quests and slay dragons. And only a tavern could bring all this together in one spot.

Realms of Magic—Smoke Powder and Mirrors

One thing Sunbright knew about heroes: they were simple. Leaving mysteries to others, they made decisions, then acted on them. They never waffled or backed down
Of course, often they died.

Sunbright the Barbarian

- There is something in us all that admires those who stand tall and bold in the bright light of day—even when they pay for this boldness with their lives.
Azlundar, One Warriors Life
- It’s usually around bath time that the tithe collectors come to call. Besieging warriors, on the other hand—now they generally have consideration enough to come early so you know how to best plan your day.
Estimyra of High Horn, Twenty Winters a War Wizard
- Time is the thief that knows no locks.
Faeranduil, Sayings of the North
- The Realms hold many a hard and stony place—and the worst of it is, some of them come well furnished with wizards.
Glarthyln, Shadows in the Firelight
- Raise not thy voice in anger, lest the sleeping dragon wake.
set down by Glarthyln, Shadows in the Firelight
- “One day,” Elminster replied calmly, “ye’ll anger me overmuch, Lord High and Mighty—and I’ll make time to hunt down and blast into nothingness every last crawling clone of thine, thy every last hiding-hole—and wipe ye from the Realms entire; aye, and all the other worlds, too. So take care, Manshoon, ne’er grow too powerful or too persistent in angering me—or I’ll lose my temper, and it will be too late for thee.”
Crown of Fire
- When death comes un-looked for, it finds a way into the strongest fortress. It does no good to set extra gaurds at the gate.
Asargrym, A Master Merchant’s Life
- There is no greater glory in the Realms than winning—or defending—a crown. Never forget that. . . . . . Even wizards can surprise ye.
Mirt the Moneylender, Wanderings with a Quill and a sword
- Life has no meaning save what we give it. I wish a few more of ye would give it a little.
Elminster, The Making of a Mage
- Dragons? Splendid things, lad—so long as you look upon them in tapestries, or in masks worn at revels, or from about three realms off. . . .
Astragarl Hornwood, said to an apprentice
- Thieves? Ah, such an ugly word. . . think of them instead as kings-in-training. Ye seem upset, even disputatious. Well, then, look upon them as the most honest sort of merchant.
Oglar the Thieflord, from the play Shards and Swords
- There is one sort of city that’s worse than one where thieves rule the night streets: the sort where thieves form the government, and rule the night and day.
Urkitbaeran, The Book of Black Tidings
- Did I ever tell thee how I first came to serve Mystra? No? You won’t believe a word of it naetheless. The way of the Lady seems strange to most men—but then, most men are sane. Well, more or less.
Sundral Morthyn, The Way of a Wizard
- Great adventure? Hah! Frantic fear scrabbling about in tombs or worse, spilling blood or trying to strike down things that can no longer bleed. If ye’re a mage, it lasts only until some other wizard hurls a spell faster than thee. Speak to me not of “great adventure.”
Theldaun Ieirson, Teachings of an Angry Old Mage
- Choosing what road to walk in life is a luxary given to few in faerun. Perhaps lack of practice is why so many who do have that choice make such a gods-cursed mess of it.
Galgarr Thormspur, A Warrior’s View
(begining of 2nd ed. ::Not from TSR Novels, mine own creations::)
- “Ah, ye want to be an adventurer do ye lad? Aye, I’m sure ye’ve heard tales of magnificent riches and glory to be had. Have ye heard the tales of sleeping in the mud, days of riding, vicious monsters, road bandits, and gaping painful wounds. Of course, ye haven’t heard those! If everyone heard tell of those stories there’d be a hell of a lot less adventurers.”
From: Words of a wise old adventurer
by: Lezardan of Cormyr
- “Ever look into the eye of a dragon? Nay, of course you haven’t. You’re still breathin’”
From: The lost art of Sarcasm
by: Finnedaerus the Mage
- Have you ever asked a halfling a question only to be answered with one? Welcome to the Question Game!
From: Understanding Halflings
by: Leslye Burrfoot
- There is a place worse than the Nine Hells. There is a more horrible place than staring down three beholders armed with only with a dagger. That place is called Luiren, land of the halflings
From: My many travels
by: Garan Farmapp, a Stalwart adventurer
- “Death comes for us all. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go down without kicking, biting, scratching, and fighting.”
The words of Shelindra before she escaped from the gallows
- Does anyone know how to shut a halfling up without cutting out his tongue? No? I didn’t think so.
From: On the Races of Faerun
by: Derik Longarm
- I knew a man who once whispered ill tidings towards our Lord Manshoon. He’s dead now.
From: The journal of a Zhent soldier
by: Unknown author
- A cautious adventurer is a dead adventurer.
From: Treatise on Adventuring
by: Heladin Stoneforge
- I have lived many millennia and I have not seen anything more devastating than time.
From: Observations of a dead man
- How do humans get anything done in such short lives? They are able to wage war, destroy everything, repair it, and multiply like rabbits. Such strange beings they are!
From: Musings of an Elven Prince
- “You obey your king because he is your god!”
from: a speech said by: Gilgeam, god-king of Unther
- Magic: a dangerous and unpredictable force. Called Art by those who serve it. Called Power by there who try to bend it to their will.
From: On the Art
by: the Magister
- Ware Beshaba’s gaze—for it is horrible
Seek Tymora’s smile—for it is blissful
Avoid Cyric’s name—-for it means death
From: Wise words of an Old swordswinger
by: Bergastion Dirkwood
- They call me a murderer because I kill people—Fine!—But why do they call paladin’s, who also kill people, heroes and holymen?
From: Journal
by: Laryn Zzallar, baroness of Teshwave
- Soldiers fight, thieves steal, bards sing, wizards cast, sages think, assassins kill. Good or Evil we all have a job. So tell me this. What the hell are nobles and merchants for?
From: Thoughts of an Old Sage
by: An Old Sage (anonymous)
- Silvanus must truly hate mankind. Why else would he create such nuisances as nymphs, pixies, sprites, brownies, and other woodland fairies?
From: Lost in Thought
by: Kayla Brightbow
- You can almost always tell how a dwarf or an elf might react. Hell, you can even tell with goblins. But, Talos’ teeth! With humans you can never tell what they might do!
From: Letters to Adbar
by: Blake Stonebrow, minister of Citadel Adbar
Wizards are a cowardly lot. Always hiding behind swords throwing there magics this way and that. But you just have to respect someone who could fry you where you stand.
From: Opinions of an Old Sword
by: Syth Blueblade
- I have heard the saying, “Seek and ye shall find.” Whoever said that was a liar.
From: My hopeless Life
by: Shurin Stienil, self-admitted pick-pocket
- Saughin, Sea Trolls, Sharks, Giant Squid. All Umberlee’s children. No wonder they call her the Bitch Queen.
From: Lost in thought
by: Kayla Brightbow
- I am lost. Humans scorn me. They throw rocks at me and chase me away. Even my own fellows disdain me and attack me on sight. I am an outcast. I am lost.
From: An Outcasts Life
by: Grunwald Blackjaw, reformed hobgoblin
-Ever ask a halfling to watch over your stuff while you visit the privy? Was it there when you returned?
From: Anecdotes of an Aging Priest

Sayings of the Races

Guardians of the Past Samira