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D&D: An Adventurer’s Guide to Volo

3 Minute Read
Feb 3 2024
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Volothamp Geddarm, best known as Volo, has written guides to just about everything under the suns. But who is he, really?

In all the forgotten realms, nobody had quite the reputation that Volothap Geddarm. Volo to his friends, or “that blasted wizard” to his foes, Geddarm had a way of involving himself in almost as many affairs as Elminster.

Depending on where you were in Faerun, he could be many things. A mediocre wizard. An entertaining gossip. But above all else, a “pompous, pretentious rogue given to exaggeration, misrepresentation, and flights of fancy.”

Volo’s “Origins”

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Volo’s origins were relatively unknown. Not that they’re shrouded in mystery, but rather, nobody who met Volo seemed to care about where he came from. Only what he was doing.

And if you ask Volo his origin stories, he’d never tell you the same thing twice. So in that regard, one could say Volo came into the world shrouded in lies, half-truths, and blatant exaggerations.

But he enters the stage of Faerunian history with a bang. In the Year of the Serpent, 1359 DR, Volo is best known for angering many of the Realm’s most powerful wizards with a new treatise: Volo’s Guide to All Things Magical. Many felt that Geddarm exposed too many of their secrets in his book.

As a result, many sought to punish the wizard. Which made Volo one of the only people able to unite the wizards of Faerun. In the race to catch him, the Simbul of Aglarond was the fastest. The Witch-Queen of Aglarond, fortunately, found the chaos he caused amusing. So she simply transformed him into a bird for a while. Sages disagree on how long, but what’s interesting is that after the Simbul restored him, she gifted him an enchanted stone etched with a sly smile, warning that if he ever angered every spellcaster on Toril again, even she couldn’t save him.

Angering Everyone Else

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Through the years, Volo released many guides. In addition to his treatise on All Things Magic, he wrote trademark Guides to various countries in the Realm, including the Serpent Kingdoms, as well as an apocryphal Complete Guide to the Behaviour of Nymphs under a pen name: Valhalaeria the Vaunted.

But with every guide came a new group of people who were… displeased with the meddling wizard. His erstwhile editor, Elminster, Chosen of Mystra, put it thusly:

“Volo’s best skill is spying and then reporting everything folk would fain keep secret for good reason.”

This tendency, combined with Volo’s penchant for wild exaggeration and outright fabrication when it would make for a more interesting story, meant that soon enough people the world over were wroth with the mediocre mage.

Whoever caught him first is unknown, but at some point in the year 1382, Geddarm was imprisoned via the spell, entombed deep beneath the earth.

The Modern Era

Fortunately for the bothersome wizard, his friends were powerful and long-lived. And after about a century, Elminster freed Volo, bringing him to a world much changed.

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But change was always exciting to Volo. He immediately set out to catalog this new world. He visited taverns in Port Nyanzaru. Traveled to the valley of Barovia. Even visited Skullport and eventually the Emerald Grove to study goblins who followed one known as “the Absolute.”

Wherever he went, tremendous fortune (good and bad) followed.

One can only wonder what Volo’s next guide will be.

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Author: J.R. Zambrano
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