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For many years, I thought that the Anauroch desert was a dead magic zone. But I haven't found any indication that this is correct. Oddly enough, my players are under that impression too (though I might be the source of that confusion).

So now I need to come up with ideas as to why the players have been fed with such false information.

Why would the general consensus be that the Anauroch is a dead-magic zone?

My only starting point would be that adventurers are not all that common. And most NPCs aren't all that informed.

Why else might such misinformation happen?

We're currently playing the 3.5 edition, which means Spellplague hasn't happened yet. However, a specific year hasn't been specified, so that opens up some opportunity for improvising.

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If your players have misinformation, you could blame it on misinformation spread by someone(s) or -thing(s) that lives there and doesn't want wizards visiting the Anauroch… –  SevenSidedDie Oct 27 '12 at 2:03
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I've seen a bit of the opposite - part of the Neverwinter Nights expansion Shadows of Undrentide (published 2003) takes place in Anauroch, with quite a bit of magic involved. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neverwinter_Nights:_Shadows_of_Undrentide –  lisardggY Oct 27 '12 at 7:32
    
There's too much evidence that my dead-magic information was just way off, so I edited the question to focus on the main topic. –  Roflo Oct 28 '12 at 23:31
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2 Answers 2

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You could simply use the Fall of Netheril itself as reason enough, since during that time even magic itself stopped working. Personally, I would find that a convincing reason for people to believe it to be a magical dead zone.

However, any disaster, mundane or otherwise could keep people from attempting casting in the area/region. Fear can be a powerful thing.

As an alternate to Netheril you could use something like the Tomb of the Astronomer as the center of some failed (or believed failed) magical experiment, although you'd need to change the region for your own setting.

Some of Faerûn's most appalling battles occurred during the Era of Skyfire. Battle accounts ink crumbling tomes with names such as the Blood March, the Fall of Agis, and the Battle of Ruin.

In Calimshan, tales speak of a lost reliquary contemporary with the famous djinn Calim. This ancient place, called the Tomb of the Astronomer, remains lost in the midst of the Calim Desert, and some say it contains an ancient secret.

Finally, why would any wizard be out there in the first place? Maybe it is thought of as a dead zone simply because so few casters are interested in it.

Sundry other and/or related reasons:

  • The area is simply too forbidding for most mages to deal with.
  • Those who do cast there keep it secret because they do not want competition for the lucrative services they provide to caravans along the Black Road.
  • Those who know that magic works there want no competition from others seeking the secrets of Netheril. (Or whatever secrets you choose to bury there.)
  • Those who know that magic works there live in fear of those who fear a repeat of whichever great disaster occurred (or believed to have occurred) above.
  • Those who fear a disaster (or a repeat of an earlier one) spread rumors to discourage anyone else experimenting in the area.
  • The locals are superstitious against magic users, for either real or imagined, possibly historical, reasons. May or may not be related to the groups above.
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A bunch of good ideas! The kind of stuff I was looking for. It led me to remember (btw) the Phaerim, which are no longer imprisoned around this time and might come in handy. And I'll read the Tomb of the Astronomer, of course. –  Roflo Oct 30 '12 at 2:58
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At the risk of stating the obvious, you can still say that it is a dead magic zone in your campaign.

Also, all kinds of rumors and misinformation spread, especially amoungst the lower classes with limited communications. Magic and psionics obviously gives D&D more communications than the real-world middle ages, but not by all that much. If the players are a decent distance from the Anauroch, then it could just be a rumor based on almost nothing. Perhaps one mage travelled there and had a spell fail due to his own problems.

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I did think about just going ahead and making it a dead-magic zone. But I have the feeling that there are many opportunities to make this relevant for the plot. –  Roflo Oct 30 '12 at 2:36
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