Moonwells are pools of pearlescent water that hold great magical powers to those who know how to use them (and who can get past the Guardians). Moonwells come in two varieties; Lesser and Greater, and are dotted all over the Moonshae Isles.
The ffolk revere the Moonwells and see them as a manifestation of the power of the Earthmother. The druids protect and maintains the Moonwells, promoting their belief that the Earthmother provided the Moonwells to help the druids maintain the Balance. The northmen however care nothing for the Moonwells and some even despoil them with decaying corpses, disrupting their magic.
Moonwells are regarded as sacred relics by the druids of the Moonshae Isles. The druids understand (from the Llewyrr, the previous caretakers of the elves) that the Moonwells are part of the Earthmother, and that they are needed to preserve the Balance of life and death, law and chaos, in the natural world.
The Earthmother was greatly injured long ago in a battle with the creature known as Kazgoroth. Kazgoroth is the very manifestation of corruption and seeks only to disrupt the Balance and destroy the Earthmother, the Moonwells are her weapons; bestowed upon the lesser races, to help them maintain the Balance and prevent his return.
That is the history told by the druids of the Moonshae Isles and it is a history told to them by the Llewyrr elves as they passed on the role of caretakers to the humans and retreated into Synnoria. Both know the history to be true because the power of the Earthmother can be felt in the Moonwells and whenever the Balance is disrupted the Children arrive to remove the problem and restore the Balance. Yet this history is false, a mis-remembered corruption of a whole truth that even the elves were not privy to.
The True History
The Greater Moonwells are indeed parts of the Earthmother, who is the Moonshae Isles themselves. The Earthmother was not always a scattered collection of islands, she was at one time whole and healthy until a cataclysmic event tore her body asunder and cast it out into the Trackless Sea.
In this shattered form the Earthmother has survived in a deep slumber attempting to repair the damage wrought by the arrogance and short-sightedness of lesser beings. The Greater Moonwells are openings; canals into the Earthmother, through which her body produces powerful creatures to defend and rid her from the infestations that crawl over her surface. These powerful creatures are known as “The Children” to the Llewyrr and the druids of the Moonshae Isles.
Such legendary creatures as Leviathan, Kamerynn, the Pack, Dagfvirr the Bear, the Shadowhunt, and many others, have appeared through these wells to battle races now long lost to time, and other more recent newcomers such as the elves, the dwarves and giants with their wars, the humans, etc. The most widely known creature to emerge from a Moonwell and yet not be considered (by the druids and elves) to be one of the Earthmother’s Children is Kazgoroth the Beast.
Kazgoroth immediately set about trying to destroy every humanoid creature on the Moonshae Isles, and in so doing united them against him and his growing army of twisted ffomoreans. The greatest of his foes were the LeShay, a collection of Faeree Lords that has sworn to preserve the Balance that he was now threatening.
The LeShay and their allies (the dwarves, elves, giants, halflings) battled Kazgoroth and his army across the Moonshae Isles, gradually forcing him back to the central island (Modern: Oman). Through the war, High Lady Karador “Amamsaelb” Ordalf (Amamsaelb means Soul Shard) and her LeShay enchanted the Greater Moonwells to form a web of powerful artefacts that imprisoned and weakened Kazgoroth and ultimately prevented him from escaping.
High Lady Ordalf linked the Moonwells to her own soul and once the rituals were complete, the LeShay vanished entirely from the Moonshae Isles, leaving Kazgoroth imprisoned on Oman and the elves as caretakers of the Moonwells, the Balance, and the Moonshae Isles.
Under the influence of Kamerynn the Unicorn, the Llewyrr elves gradually neglected everything but the Moonwells, and so when the humans arrived on the Moonshae Isles the Llewyrr gladly passed on their role of caretaker to the first worthy individuals they could be sure would fulfil their duty properly (although it took another war with Kazgoroth to make them realise the potential of the ffolk).
The Llewyrr and later the druids of the Moonshae Isles have established many Lesser Moonwells throughout the island chain, helping strengthen and spread the power of the Greater Moonwells and provide a backup in case a Moonwell is corrupted.
Unfortunately the magic of the Moonwells was weakened when the Weave was disrupted by the actions of ambitious humans seeking godhood in a land far away. The Weave was restored only by draining much of the ambient magic that saturates Toril, and in so doing it drained some of the Moonwells as well.
With the Moonwells weakened, Kazgoroth was freed from some of the powers that bound him. His body began to swell with power, and he escaped Oman on a vessel piloted by foolish humans. Once free he waged another war to expunge the humanoid presence on the Moonshae Isles, this time using undead monsters.
Kazgoroth was defeated again, and the Llewyrr handed over their duty as caretakers to the humans. Many believed the Beast was defeated for his body had been destroyed, but some fell intelligence still drives his former slaves to seek out and corrupt the Moonwells away from the purpose High Lady Ordalf crafted.
Moonwells are opaque pools of water that vary in size an shape. Some of these pools are very large; like the Darkwell or the Sacred Grove of the Earthmother which can be anything up to a hundred feet wide, while some of the Lesser Moonwells are barely more than 10 feet wide.
The Moonwells can be separate isolated pools of water within a wider geographical topography, such as a pool in a mountain vale or in a forested grove. Some Moonwells are also sectioned regions of larger water features, such as a dammed area of a lake or river.
Most Moonwells are surrounded by liths (large square stones of various rock types) arranged in a ring. The Lesser Moonwells are usually surrounded by singly placed liths called Menhir, or more occasionally for liths place atop one another to form an arch, known as a Trilithon. Greater Moonwells are also surrounded by Trilithons but the largest and most important are surrounded by a stone chamber made of three or more liths supporting a flat capstone, known as a Dolmen.
It is thought by many that these liths focus leylines through them and enhance the magical nature of these Moonwells. The Menhir focus leylines, while the Trilithon allow a one way portal to form under certain circumstances that allow fey to travel from the Plane of Faeree to the Material Plane.
The Dolmen form a Fey Crossroad that allows two way travel between the Plane of Faeree and the Material Plane, such a gateway is often guarded by the Trohw and other creatures that like to linger between the world of the Fey and the Material Plane. Those that know how to find the Crossroads or call the Trohw may bargain for passage between the two Planes.
The Moonwells in their current form have one purpose; to inhibit Kazgoroth and keep him confined to the Moonshae Isles.
The Greater Moonwells all contain a shard of High Lady Ordalf’s soul, encased within a resonating crystal that grows naturally within the Faeree Plane. These crystals augment the ambient powers of High Lady Ordalf’s soul and grant the Moonwells advanced magical powers as well as emitting a calming aura that blankets a region around the Moonwells.
This calming aura can be sensed (by those serene enough to perceive it), as an almost inaudible but beautiful music. This music causes great pain to the rage inflicted followers of Kazgoroth (and Kazgoroth himself), as well as removing much of their power (by making it excruciatingly painful to invoke that power). Furthermore while the web of Moonwells is even partially active (while High Lady Ordalf is alive), Kazgoroth and his minions must remain within the area of effect of a Moonwell.
To the Llewyrr, the druids, and the ffolk, the Moonwells are sacred relics that allow those worthy few to access the power of the Earthmother. To Kazgoroth they are a prison that must be destroyed to restore the Earthmother to her natural form. The druids maintain the Moonwells in accordance with their beliefs, while Kazgoroth seeks to corrupt the Moonwells to sever their connection to High Lady Ordalf’s soul and restore them to their original form.
Should Kazgoroth succeed in corrupting all the Moonwells, then High Lady Ordalf will become mortal, Kazgoroth will be able to call upon the full powers of the Earthmother to destroy the humanoid infestation and take his vengeance upon Ordalf, and more importantly Kazgoroth will be able to escape to other lands and cleanse them of the humanoid infestation as well.
Moonwells have a variety of powers, some derived from the Earthmother, others derived from the magic of High Lady Ordalf. Moonwells can roughly be categorised into Greater, Lesser, and Corrupted, each category of which has different powers associated with it.
Healing: The waters of a Greater Moonwell are possessed of potent healing powers, able to restore energy and vitality, and even regenerate wounds. Those imbibing the waters of a Greater Moonwell gain the benefits of a greater potion of healing. The waters can be bottled and remain potent as long as they remain within the area of effect of an active Moonwell (not a Corrupted Moonwell), thus limiting the range of the potion to within the Moonshae Isles (currently the isles of Moray, Gwynneth, Alaron, and Snowdown).
Spellpool: A Greater Moonwell allows those attuned to it (attunement requires several hours meditation at the pool and is lost once they venture outside the pool’s area of effect – 50 miles) to cast spells by using the energy of the Moonwell. The Moonwell may donate up to 50 levels of spells to any attuned spellcasters within range every day (50 levels in total, not per spellcaster).
Recharge: A Greater Moonwell may recharge any magic items immersed into the pool by up to 50 charges (50 charges in total, not per magic item).
Enchantment: A Greater Moonwell may act as the magical energy for enchanting magical items, thus removing the need for spellcasting to enchant the item. An attuned individual wishing to enchant an item must provide material components that represent the magical energies to be imbued into the item, for example the blood of a galeb duhr to imbue stoneskin, the hair of a fire giant to imbue fire resistance.
Immortality: Those immersing themselves in the waters of a Greater Moonwell cease to age physically whilst within the confines of the pool. Once the being emerges from the Moonwell they continue to age at the normal rate. Gaining this benefit requires a full 24 hours immersed in the pool before ageing ceases.
Teleport: A Greater Moonwell allows an attuned individual to teleport themselves to another Moonwell (Greater or Lesser, but not Corrupted) that they know the location or name of.
Communication: A Greater Moonwell allows an attuned individual to speak and to hear anyone within audible and aural range of another Moonwell that they know the location or name of.
Planeshift: A Greater Moonwell allows those diving into the pool on a full moon, to shift to the Plane of Faeree, to the region known as the Feywild where a Faeree analogue of the Moonshae Isles exists. This ability is not well known by those on the Material Plane and is most often triggered by accident.
Petrification: One of the greatest powers of the Moonwell involves attempting to call directly upon the power of the Earthmother, in a process that usually focuses her drifting consciousness upon those invoking her power. Being ill disposed towards the lesser beings that inhabit her surface, the Earthmother usually lashes out against those calling upon her, this backlash usually takes the form of an eruption of water from the Moonwell that turns everyone coming into contact with it to stone, the Children are also brought out of their slumber and focused towards the region.
Healing: The waters of a Lesser Moonwell are possessed of potent healing powers, able to restore energy and vitality, and even regenerate wounds. Those imbibing the waters of a Lesser Moonwell gain the benefits of a potion of healing. The waters can be bottled and remain potent as long as they remain within the area of effect of an active Moonwell (not a Corrupted Moonwell), thus limiting the range of the potion to within the Moonshae Isles (currently the isles of Moray, Gwynneth, Alaron, and Snowdown).
Spellpool: A Lesser Moonwell allows those attuned to it (attunement requires several hours meditation at the pool and is lost once they venture outside the pool’s area of effect – 10 miles) to cast spells by using the energy of the Moonwell. The Moonwell may donate up to 10 levels of spells to any attuned spellcasters within range every day (10 levels in total, not per spellcaster).
Recharge: A Lesser Moonwell may recharge any magic items immersed into the pool by up to 10 charges (10 charges in total, not per magic item).
Teleport: A Lesser Moonwell may be used as the target of a teleportation effect from a Greater Moonwell. A Lesser Moonwell cannot be used to teleport to another Moonwell.
Communication: A Lesser Moonwell allows anyone within audible range of the pool to hear those speaking into a Greater Moonwell and desiring to communicate to those at the Lesser Moonwell in question. A Lesser Moonwell cannot be used to communicate with another Moonwell.
Many believe Corrupted Moonwells are those tainted by the corruption of Kazgoroth, but in reality Kazgoroth is merely returning the Moonwells to their original state by destroying the link between the Moonwell and High Lady Ordalf’s soul.
The damaged and possibly dying state of the Earthmother means that the natural Moonwells are unable to provide the healing they once did without magical aid and so any restorative powers are only partially successful. Instead the Moonwells are much more likely to drain life and magic from creatures foolish enough to enter the pools in order to feed the Earthmother and help restore her own vitality.
Reanimation: Any dead creature submerged within the pool is reanimated as a form of undying continued existence. This undying existence continues as long as the being remains within the area of effect of a Corrupted Moonwell.
While most confuse this state as undeath which is supported by negative energy, the Moonwells merely impart enough positive energy to restore a semblance of life to the creature (but not enough to regenerate its wounds or reform its soul and give it life once more). The creature continues to exist with some memory of its former life, but cannot leave the boundaries of a corrupted Moonwell without losing the life energy the Moonwell bestowed upon it.
This effect is not guaranteed, it functions rarely, apparently at the whims of nature, and thus far only Kazgoroth has managed to control its effects with any degree of success.
Draining: Any living being, or magical creature placed within the pool will be drained of vitality and energy at a steady rate (1 hp per hour) until it is completely drained.
Planeshift: A Corrupted Moonwell allows those who understand and are practised in using Fey Crossroads to shift between the Faeree Plane and the Material Plane and vice versa. This ability is normally only functional between Greater Moonwells that have been Corrupted, but really all it requires is a pool of water at the same location on the co-existent Material and Faeree Planes. If someone were able to create a pool of water in the same location on the Faeree Plane as a Corrupted Lesser Moonwell on the Material Plane, then Crossroad users could pass freely between the two Planes without impediment.
The Moonwells are part of the Earthmother. The Earthmother is a titanic being that is part of the land that forms Toril itself.
Long ago the Earthmother was critically damaged, torn apart by the Sundering; a great magic that spread backwards and forwards in time, created an isolated homeland for the elven races, and wiped out many other races, nations, and knowledge before they ever existed.
The Earthmother is slowly dying, unable to rouse herself from her slumber, unable to gather energy enough to heal her broken body. The magics that High Lady Ordalf worked long ago to preserve the last vestiges of her people have continued to starve the Earthmother of energy and their use by the Llewyrr and druids have drained even more energy from the Earthmother.
Eventually the Earthmother will perish from her wounds, the Moonwells will become mundane pools of water, the Moonshae Isles will slowly crumble away, the swamps will dry, the forests and grass will wither and die, and the animals will starve.
To accelerate this destruction of the Moonwells, all that needs to occur is for High Lady Ordalf’s life and magic to continue, and for people to use the magical powers of the Moonwells as often as possible. If Kazgoroth continues to corrupt the Moonwells and enough magic and living creatures are submerged into the waters, then perhaps the Earthmother will be able to heal herself and draw all the Moonshae Isles together into a single whole.