Behold the newest, brightest, and perhaps best travel guide by the world-walking, all-seeing Volo!
Fresh from recounting the splendors of Cormyr, the Forest Kingdom, and circumnavigating all of Toril in a bold and wondrous adventure that none have equaled for its haste and humor, the tireless Volo has come at last to the beautiful Dales of the Dragonreach in the Heartlands of the Realms and set forth his florid account of things to see, things to do... and things to avoid. Many of the finest establishments and most striking sights and landmarks of the Dales are featured here, ranked with the handy coin, dagger, pipe, and tankard ratings system. Volo has identified the best and the worst, so you need waste no precious time nor coins of your own discovering just which attraction best suits your taste.
Discover, for instance:
- where to find caverns whose walls sparkle with gems;
- the way into the tombs of the Twelve Dancing Wizards - and why they dance;
- the curse that lies on several barrow tombs and why it was laid;
- where one might find the Talking Bone and what it does;
- why it is best not to move any of the Chessmen of Valsprendar; and
- where to find a door that opens into a room halfway across Faerûn - and why it should be used only with extreme caution.
Suitable for all levels of play.
Special Note. This edition of Volo's Guide to the Dalelands, intended for travelers from beyond the borders of Faerûn, contains notes, commentary, and substantial revisions by the famous sage and archmage Elminster of Shadowdale.
Volo's Guide to the Dalelands, by Ed Greenwood, is the fifth book in the Volo's Guide series. It was published in July 1996.
Ending the Volo’s Guides. Volo's Guide to the Dalelands concludes the initial run of the Volo’s Guides. Like its predecessors, it offers an in-character description of part of the Realms, all in the voice of Volothamp Geddarm, edited and commented upon by Elminster the Sage, and published as a digest-sized book.
It's unknown why the Volo’s Guides ended. It may have been due to high production costs resulting from the many maps and illustrations; to the digest size, which retailers apparently were not fond of; or to the general chaos of the time, when TSR was spiraling toward bankruptcy. It certainly wasn't due to Ed Greenwood, who says he'd still be writing them if he could.
Whatever the reason, TSR didn't publish any more Volo’s Guides before they stopped publishing, nor did they have any scheduled for 1997. They did, however, try to vary the format before the end, with Volo's Guide to All Things Magical (1996), a full-sized book with much more crunch (and much less commentary) than the standard guides.
There was also one more Volo’s Guide published many years later: Volo's Guide to Baldur's Gate II (2000). It was released by Wizards of the Coast in coordination with Bioware to support the release of the Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn (2000) video game. Fans have commented that the last Volo’s Guide should probably have been called Volo's Guide to Amn… but it was all about the cross-marketing.
Expanding the Realms. The Dalelands had been one of the focuses for Ed Greenwood's own Realms campaigns, alongside Waterdeep and Cormyr. However, whereas Waterdeep and the Cormyrean city of Suzail provided urban adventures, the Dalelands was instead the rural heart of adventuring in the Realms.
The Dalelands were first mentioned publicly in "Law of the Land" in Dragon #65 (September 1982), where Greenwood notes "the imperial city of Waterdeep [is] different from the serene, rustic beauty of Deepingdale, far inland." He also comments on a disagreement over the ownership of Shadowdale.
Over the years, more mentions appeared here and there in Dragon and Dungeon. The Dalelands as a whole are named for the first time in Ed Greenwood's "Seven Swords" article in Dungeon #74 (June 1983), where Greenwood notes that the sword Albruin was at one time brought into the Dalelands; Archendale and Battledale premiered in that article as well. Teshendale is namechecked in Dragon #94 (February 1984), but the next issue of the magazine would be much more notable: Featherdale, Harrowdale, Mistledale, Scardale, and Tasseldale are all introduced in "Into the Forgotten Realms," a Greenwood adventure for Dragon #95 (March 1985). A few other Dalelands, most notably Daggerdale, wouldn't be mentioned until the publication of the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting (1987).
Once TSR began releasing Forgotten Realms books, the Dalelands slowly began to cohere as a setting for play. Surprisingly, they got their first good attention in the SSI computer games Pool of Radiance (1988) and Curse of the Azure Bonds (1989), along with the associated "FRC" modules (1988-89) published by TSR. By also using material in FRE1: "Shadowdale" (1989) and Forgotten Realms Adventures (1990), a GM could cobble together a Dalelands campaign by the start of the 90s. Of course by the time Volo's Guide to the Dalelands was published, FRS1: "The Dalelands" (1993), by Rich Baker, had revealed even more details of the area.
Volo's Guide to the Dalelands details Archendale, Battledale, Daggerdale, Deepingdale, Feartherdale, Harrowdale, the High Dale, Mistledale, and Tasseldale. Scardale gets only one page because Volo thought it was dangerous, while Shadowdale only gets one page because Elminster gives Volo a stern warning: "Turn back, Volothamp Geddarm, and write not of Shadowdale or be feebleminded forever!" Greenwood has said that's one of the reasons he likes using an unreliable in-character narrator: he can decide not to write about a location if he doesn't have enough room and then offer this sort of explanation.
About the Creators. Ed Greenwood is the creator of the Forgotten Realms and the alter-ego of both Volothamp Geddarm and Elminster the Sage. His Volo's Guide series ran five books from 1992-96. It got a magical supplement that last year, and then returned a few years later for an encore with Volo's Guide to Baldur's Gate II.
About the Product Historian
The history of this product was researched and written by Shannon Appelcline, the editor-in-chief of RPGnet and the author of Designers & Dragons - a history of the roleplaying industry told one company at a time. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to firstname.lastname@example.org.