Safeholds (Part Two)
By Ed Greenwood
"What will happen if you trigger Vangey's ring while we're in here?" Filfaeril murmured.
Azoun shrugged. "There's one way to find --"
Filfaeril's snake-swift slap stung his fingers.
"First, let's look around," she snapped. "If I have to die, I'd like it to be in a rather more interesting manner than standing watching someone trifle with magic like a fool."
"'Look around'?" The king's voice was incredulous. "Look around where?"
"In the wardrobe, under the bed, the undersides of the chairs, move a knight or dragon on yon board and see what happens -- really, Az! How you lived this long without falling into the habit of checking such places for angry husbands, I don't know!"
The Purple Dragon of Cormyr considered possible responses to his wife's heated words for a moment or two, and found none of them very satisfactory. After a moment he announced decisively, "I'll check under the bed!"
A true safehold is a permanent extradimensional space or "pocket," linked by opaque (and usually invisible) portals to specific points in the Realms. Some points include atop a rock deep in a forest, or between two close-standing forest trees, or even a closet or back corner of a room (perhaps now ruined, or entirely collapsed, to leave the portal in midair) in Myth Drannor or another old elven settlement or structure. The Knights of Myth Drannor adventuring band found several safeholds while exploring ruined Myth Drannor, and they were told (by Elminster and several elves familiar with Myth Drannor in its heyday) that the city hosted hundreds of small, hidden, secret safeholds, private to a family, a business, or an individual -- so many, in fact, that they started to intersect, collapse, cause wild magic in tiny, immobile areas, and cause unintended planar interpenetrations that allowed marauding outsiders to creep into the city and prowl.
Like the temporary extradimensional space created by a rope trick spell, a safehold is a finite, rather small "hidden space." Creatures in a safehold can't be detected or reached by spells (including divinations), unless those magics work across planes. Safeholds have identical planar traits to the Material Plane (the Realms they connect with), and they can be furnished with materials and filled by items (both mundane and magical) brought from the Material Plane.
Most safeholds appear as single rooms, often lit by a continual flame effect (or similar silent, heatless, fuel-less magic), having a solid, opaque, continuous surface (a wall, akin to that created by a wall of force spell, and usually having the same characteristics and weaknesses) that forms walls, ceiling, and floor. This surface is usually covered by carpeting, paneling (to which lamps, tapestries, and other furnishings may have been affixed), and paint or stucco; some even have interior walls of dressed stone built along the inside of the magical "walls."
The majority of safeholds have just one creature-sized portal for entry and exit, though a few have portalkeys (usually command items, command words, or situations involving the moon or spellcastings) that can "lock" the main portal, and reveal or open otherwise-hidden alternate exits and entrances.
Sounds, missiles, and spells don't pass between a safehold and its immediate Material Plane surroundings. However, unlike the extradimensional space associated with a portable hole, air passes through a safehold continuously, providing endless fresh air to its interior, from and to invisible links with the Material Plane that are places where the creator of the safehold has earlier cast particular spells, and then hurled an enspelled stone into midair.
When these recovered stones are later brought to the safehold location by its creator and a series of spells is cast on them, invisible airflow portals the size of the stones come into existence elsewhere in Faerûn, at the highest points in the arcs the thrown stones traced when hurled, and they connect with the interior of the safehold. The wall of the safehold influences temperature and humidity in the safehold interior, creating convection currents and imbalances that encourage airflow. (A safehold created without airflow portals will soon twist out of shape, and ultimately collapse.)
A safehold can usually hold up to a dozen creatures, but it is constructed for the comfortable use of four at most. Many safeholds began as refuges for tending crying babies, lovemaking away from prying eyes, or study areas (casting experimental or battle spells in a safehold can be disastrous), but soon turned into storage: throw-closets for anything broken, presents or contraband to be hidden away until later, or bric-a-brac for which no better "stash space" could be found.
It will take at least until our next column for King Azoun to search the safehold well enough to satisfy Filfaeril. In that installment, we'll wrap up our look at these hideaways -- and see what next befalls our royal couple, too.
© 2004 Wizards of the Coast, Inc. All rights reserved.