Every reference to Ed Greenwood's spell Nulathoe's ninemen makes sure to note that "ninemen" is pronounced "nin-em-en" rather than "nine men," making it a unique word of some sort.

I'm just curious whether this is some archaic word I've never run into, or whether any canonical source (even just Ed Greenwood's say-so) defines this term. Is there any dictionary or official source that explains the meaning of "ninemen" in this context?

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    \$\begingroup\$ For reference, the spell Nullathoe's ninemen first appears in Dragon's Bestiary, Dragon #32 p.39 (Dec 1979), in the description of the crawling claw, a creature created by Greenwood; the pronunciation first appears somewhat later, in Pages from the Mages, Dragon #62 p.17 (June 1982). However, no definition of "ninemen" is given in any source I can find. Ed Greenwood appears to be active on Twitter, so someone might tweet him. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 30, 2020 at 1:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; the conversation speculating on the origin has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$
    – Someone_Evil
    Dec 3, 2020 at 13:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ What sort of answer would answer this other than a direct statement from the designer? My concern is that asking for designer intent was made off-topic because of the answers they tended to draw, namely highly speculative/unsupported answers which weren't resolved properly. This inquiry might be better suited to a different forum and/or twitter (as suggested above). \$\endgroup\$
    – Someone_Evil
    Dec 3, 2020 at 15:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ Reasonable, but in this case there exists the possibility that a printed source contains an explanation of "ninemen," especially considering how often it is specified that it's not "nine men." I'm asking to find out if it was ever stated anywhere, which may have included in-setting fluff, not simply designer intent. Apologies if you don't feel this is a sufficient distinction in this circumstance. \$\endgroup\$
    – afroakuma
    Dec 3, 2020 at 16:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ Nowhere does the question ask for designer intent. It asks for the definition/origin of a word. The designer may be--MAY be--uniquely positioned to speak to the origin of the word if it's one that he just made up. But designers would be very well positioned to answer most questions on this site--so that's a poor criteria for closing the question. We should ease back on the tendency toward hair-trigger closing of questions. We shouldn't close valid questions because we're afraid they may draw invalid answers. \$\endgroup\$
    – ruffdove
    Dec 4, 2020 at 18:05

1 Answer 1


According to Ed, he completely made it up out of whole cloth when he was 6, and later used it for the spell - From twitter:

Nope. I made it up. ;} I'd penned a short story in which a wizard used a spell to fix the broken joints of 9 men after a battle; it became "ninemen" and (alliteration's artful aid) got hitched to the spell. I was 6 at the time, and D&D was still a decade away.

Obligatory twitter link

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    \$\begingroup\$ Well hot darn. Good to know... though I would still love to understand why the pronunciation changed - especially given that it got so specific. Resolves something that has been bugging me for a long time, though. Much obliged! \$\endgroup\$
    – afroakuma
    Feb 26, 2021 at 18:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ed replied to the tweet the next day saying, " I didn't want "nine-men," I wanted a 'new word' that sounded like a form of spell or magic ritual, so it could be used again for related magics." \$\endgroup\$ Mar 19, 2021 at 5:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ Then that's what I'm gonna do. \$\endgroup\$
    – afroakuma
    Jul 21, 2021 at 15:31

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