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Nations of the Forgotten Realms 21: Mintarn & Orlumbor

In this series I will be looking at each of the individual nations of Faerûn in turn, in alphabetical order. This series is based around the status of each nation as of 1371-72 Dalereckoning (at the end of D&D 2nd Edition and the start of 3rd Edition). The maps are drawn from The Forgotten Realms Interactive Atlas CD-ROM and their respective 1st and 2nd Edition sources. They are not necessarily current for the 5th Edition of the setting (which is set c. 1496 DR), as borders have changed and some towns and cities have fallen, whilst newer ones have risen.

A map of Mintarn and Orlumbor. Please click for a larger version.

Mintarn

  • Ruler: Dictator Tarnheel Embuirhan
  • Capital: Mintarn
  • Population: Unknown but mostly human with a small number of dwarves and merfolk
  • Area: 617 miles² (1598.02 km²)
  • Languages: Common, Illuskan
  • Religion: Umberlee
  • Exports: Ships, mercenaries, food
  • Imports: Moonshae wood, Mabadann oysters
  • Sources: Treasures of the Savage Frontier (video game, 1992), Passage to Dawn (R.A. Salvatore, 1996)

Orlumbor

  • Ruler: Tulgar Wrightsson
  • Capital: Orlumbor (pop. 1600)
  • Settlements: Farr Windward
  • Population: Unknown but mostly human
  • Area: approx. 310 miles² (802.89 km²)
  • Languages: Common, Illuskan
  • Religion: Talos
  • Exports: Ships
  • Imports: Wood
  • Sources: Treasures of the Savage Frontier (video game, 1992)

Overview

Mintarn and Orlumbor are two small island kingdoms located in the Sea of Swords, between the Moonshae Islands to the west and the Sword Coast to the east.

Mintarn is the larger of the two nations and is also part of a wider archipelago also consisting of Ammargal, Rorn Rock, Skadaurak and Windstorm Isle, among several others. It has the larger capital and port, and greater facilities.

However, Orlumbor lies much closer to the coast itself. Due to the Sword Coast’s towering cliffs, there is no good, large portage on the coast at all between Waterdeep in the north and Baldur’s Gate over 500 miles to the south, a gap which Orlumbor eagerly fulfils. Being within sight of the coast also allows it to pick up trade from passing smaller ships. As it is closer to the mainland, it is also easier for Orlumbor to import wood, meaning it has more impressive shipbuilding facilities than Mintarn, who have to import their wood from the Moonshae Islands. However, the closest woodland area to Orlumbor is the forbidding Trollbark Forest, with the ill-omened Warlock’s Crypt to the south, dissuading all but the hardiest loggers.

Both nations are independent kingdoms, although Orlumbor is a member of the Lords’ Alliance, meaning that it has the friendship of powers like Baldur’s Gate and Waterdeep should it be threatened. Mintarn is more independently minded and sometimes a base for pirates, but caught between several members of the Alliance and the larger kingdom of Moonshae to the west, they generally tread lightly in local waters.

Mintarn Island is notable for the single mountain rising from its shores, where a small community of Ironstar dwarves have made their home and stronghold in secret caves under the mountain. The Cove of the Queen, a temple to Umberlee, can also be found on the coast. The inhabitants live in wary respect of the active volcano lying on Skaudarak Island just to the north, which occasionally threatens to erupt, and the red dragon Hoondarrh who dwells there, who often does erupt in fury.

Orlumbor has less geographic features of interest, though several smaller settlements dot the island, the best-known of which is Farr Windward, a former “insane asylum” turned into a free settlement. Stormhaven House, a temple to Talos, can also be found on the island.

History

The islands of Orlumbor and Mintarn may have been formed at the same time as Evermeet and the Moonshaes, during the Sundering of 17,600 BDR, when the Sword Coast was formed (and its unnaturally sharp, straight coastline in this area may be the most obvious sign of the cataclysm). Although the elven empires of Miyeritar and Aryvandaar controlled the mainland nearby, and later the kingdom of Synnoria arose on the Moonshaes, there is no evidence of the elves ever settling the islands.

Exactly when the islands were settled is conjecture, although it appears likely to have been somewhere in the middle of the first millennium of Dalereckoning, around the time that human settlement of the Sword Coast, the Moonshaes and other islands like Ruathym started to expand.

Mintarn enters history in 884 DR, when the great red dragon Skadaurak, the Red Terror, awoke from a long slumber and began terrorising the region. He encountered the younger red dragon Hoondarrh in the skies over Mintarn and challenged him to battle. Hoondarrh’s greater cunning won out over the elder wyrm’s experience and Hoondarrh triumphed, taking Skadaurak’s lair as his own. Hoondarrh expanded Skadaurak’s lair and initially terrorised the area in his stead, becoming known as the Red Rage, before boring of the effort. In 896 he offered Mintarn his protection in return for their tribute, to which they agreed and the dragon found far less effort.

This arrangement has remained in place ever since, and a key reason why Mintarn has retained its independence despite its proximity to Moonshae and Waterdeep.

Orlumbor’s history is believed to be similar (sans the dragons), with settlements on the island developing into a modern town and port by several centuries ago. Orlumbor is noted for its greater focus on diplomacy and alliances, hence its membership of the Lords’ Alliance and its close economic ties with Waterdeep, particularly taking outsourced shipbuilding contracts whenever Waterdeep’s own harbour grows too busy.

In 1358 DR, warships flying the flag of Waterdeep unexpected surrounded Orlumbor. The island’s ruler, Tulgar Wrightsson, sent an adventuring band, the Heroes of Ascore, to investigate. The Heroes discovered the ships were actually Luskar pirates flying the flag of Waterdeep in an attempt to sew confusion and possibly annex the island. Once the deception was discovered, Luskan withdrew from the area.

Later that year, the Heroes of Ascore were contacted by Ougo of Farr Windward, a small village which was serving as allegedly an asylum for the insane. However, Ougo indicated that some or most of the inhabitants were not insane and had been sent there from other lands more for political or nefarious reasons, or not conforming to certain societal or religious ideals. The Heroes assisted Ougo in making his case to Tulgar, somewhat forcefully. Tulgar agreed to rescind the guards around the village and allow it to become a free settlement and ally of Orlumbor.

In 1364 the Sea Sprite under Captain Deudermont arrived on Mintarn during an attempt by the Companions of the Hall to find the mythical island of Caerwich. Learning that the infamous drow ranger Drizzt Do’Urden was on board, Dictator Tarnheel Embuirhan, accounted by some as the greatest swordsman of the Sword Coast, was eager to fight a duel with Drizzt to prove who was greater. Drizzt refused, not wanting to contributed to Embuirhan’s legend and vanity. However, Embuirhan persuaded him by confirming the duel would be fought in private between just the two of them. Drizzt proved victorious, but Embuirhan made a good accounting of himself, which contributed almost as much to his fighting reputation.

Government

Mintarn is, somewhat paradoxically, a society that has declared itself free and unencumbered by rules, but is ruled somewhat strictly by a single ruler, whose official title is even “Dictator.” The current Dictator is Tarnheel Embuirhan, who rose to power through cunning and strength. Unexpectedly, after becoming Dictator in 1357, Embuirhan took a more conciliatory view, improving relations with Orlumbor and the Lords’ Alliance and allowing other parts of the island to rule themselves autonomously if they kept up their payments to the capital and their contributions to the tribute for the dragon Hoondarrh. In 1364 Embuirhan fought a duel against Drizzt Do’Urden to test his sword skills and, although defeated, still dined out on the story for many years afterwards.

The post of Dictator on Mintarn traditionally changes every five to six years, but Embuirhan’s even-handed rule has kept him in place for fourteen years and counting, so far.

Orlumbor’s government is hereditary, with the island’s current ruler being Tulgar Wrighttson, the son of a simple shipwright who rose to authority over the island through means unknown. Tulgar appears to be a stubborn but ultimately fair-minded ruler.

Religion

As islands in a sometimes-stormy sea, both islands pay homage to the darker gods: Umberlee has a large temple on Mintarn and Talos one on Orlumbor. However, such worship is driven by fear and respect rather than love. As with most homes to sailors, Valkur has a following on the islands and some of the other Faerûnian gods are also worshipped.

The sea elven god Deep Sashelas has an interest in the region, with his martial order, the Knights of the Killer Whale, operating from a fortress known as the Citadel of the Seven Seas, built into an undersea volcanic plug north of Mintarn.

Thank you for reading The Atlas of Ice and Fire. To help me provide better content, please consider contributing to my Patreon page and other funding methods, which will also get you exclusive content before it goes live on my blogs.

Nations of the Forgotten Realms 20: The Silver Marches of Luruar

In this series I will be looking at each of the individual nations of Faerûn in turn, in alphabetical order. This series is based around the status of each nation as of 1371-72 Dalereckoning (at the end of D&D 2nd Edition and the start of 3rd Edition). The maps are drawn from The Forgotten Realms Interactive Atlas CD-ROM and their respective 1st and 2nd Edition sources. They are not necessarily current for the 5th Edition of the setting (which is set c. 1496 DR).

A map of Luruar. Please click for a larger version.
  • Ruler: High Lady Alustriel Silverhand
  • Capital: Silverymoon (pop. 37,073)
  • Settlements: Auvandell (524), Blumberg, Citadel Adbar (19,962), Citadel Felbarr (6987), Deadsnows (830), Everlund (21,388), Hilltop (100), Jalanthar (226), Khelb, Lhuvenhead, Mithral Hall (4991), Newfort (138), Quaervaar (952), Rauvincross, Rivermoot, Sundabar (14,259), Winter’s Edge
  • Population: 1,090,800 (40% human, 20% dwarf, 20% elf, 10% half-elf, 5% halfling, 2% gnome, 2% half-orc, 1% misc.)
  • Population Density: 6.77 people per mile², 2.61 people per km²
  • Area: 161,206 miles² (417,521.623 km²)
  • Military: The Argent Legion, local militias
  • Languages: Common, Chondathan, Illuskan,
  • Religion: Corellon Larethian, Helm, Lathander, Lurue, Mielikki, Moradin, Mystra, Oghma, Selûne, Sune, Tymora
  • Exports: Elven craftwork, dwarven craftwork, furs, precious metals
  • Imports: Armour, books, manufactured goods, pottery, spices, wine
  • Sources: The North (slade, Ed Greenwood, Jeff Grubb, Julia Martin, Steven Schend, Jennell Jaquays, Steve Perrin, 1996), Silver Marches (Ed Greenwood, Jason Carl, 2002)

Overview

Luruar, also known as the Alliance of the Silver Marches, is the youngest of Faerûn’s nations at barely a year old. It is located in the north-eastern part of the greater region known as the North, or the Savage Frontier. Luruar’s borders extend south to the northern eaves of the High Forest, east to the edge of the Great Desert of Anauroch, west to the Evermoors and the banks of the Gaurlynlur River and north to the Ice Mountains and the Spine of the World.

The nation is unusual in that it was brought together by several founding cities and settlements which had independently existed for centuries, but had found the gradually escalating series of threats in the region too great to be faced independently. Banding together to face these threats united seemed like a wise move. It is also unusual in that it is an alliance of townships and cities divided by still-hostile wilderness, meaning that within the borders of Luruar there are still a lot of wild monsters, autonomous tribes (human but also orc and goblin) and even isolated hamlets that are not technically part of the realm despite apparently lying within its domain.

The founding settlements of the Silver Marches are Silverymoon, Everlund, Sundabar, Deadsnows and Jalanthar, along with the dwarven fortress-cities of Citadel Adbar, Citadel Felbarr and Mithral Hall, plus all of their attendant villages and vassals. By unanimous agreement, the city of Silverymoon was adopted as the capital of the new realm. A plethora of smaller towns, villages and hamlets in the region have also joined the alliance, and various nearby settlements have, if not joined, indicated a friendliness towards the new nation. Unsurprisingly, the rise of the new nation has not particularly impressed the wandering tribes or nearby powers such as the Many-Arrows orcs or the drow of Menzoberranzan.

History

The area today called the North was once the domain of the northern great elven empires: Illefarn and Aryvandaar. During the Crown Wars, Aryvandaar was destroyed by its own hubris, leading to a period when the region was shared between the elves of Eaerlann (a considerably less aggressive successor-state to Aryvandaar) and Illefarn on the surface and the dwarves of Delzoun in the depths below.

In 3859 BDR (Before Dalereckoning) they were joined by a new, powerful kingdom. Nether’s Land, also known as the Seventon Alliance and finally Netheril, took shape along the shores of the Narrow Sea to the east of Delzoun. Not long after its founding, Netheril entered into an alliance with the elves of Eaerlann (3845 BDR) and the dwarves of Delzoun (3455 BDR). The dwarves established the port of Ascore on the Narrow Sea to trade with Netheril. Netheril also established tentative ties with Cormanthyr along their eastern border.

Relations between the four empires were initially strong, heralding the so-called Arcane Age of Faerûn, but the elves became uneasy about the extent of Netheril’s magic. The rise of the first of the floating cities of Netheril in 2993 BDR both impressed and concerned the elves. Netheril then expanded west into the areas today known as the Savage Frontier and the Sword Coast North, establishing outposts and watering holes in the Dessarin and Delimbiyr River Valleys, careful not to infringe on the territories of Eaerlann (east of the Dessarin) and Illefarn (west of the river). The elves braced themselves for possible territorial disputes, but these never arose; the Netherese chose to remain mostly within their original borders and only resource-gathers were sent to the Frontier lands to the west. Relations between the great empires remained strong, but also strained.

In 1200 BDR, the rogue Netherese arcanist Aldlas Sodhese unleashed three powerful nycaloths – the accursed Trio Nefarious famed in song and saga – against Cormanthyr. He believed (correctly, as it later emerged) that the Cormanthyrans had stolen the Nether Scrolls from Netheril and hidden them somewhere within their borders. The nycaloths unleashed a three-month reign of terror before they attacked the city of Cormanthor itself and were defeated, imprisoned in an invisible stasis cage high above the city. Sodhese was slain by the Grand Mage of Cormanthyr in a ferocious spell battle. Although accepting that Sodhese acted without official sanction, Cormanthyr and its allies wound down their alliance with Netheril, especially after Netheril’s ill-fated experiments with spelljamming in c. 1114-1014 BDR, which saw them clash several times with the Imperial Elven Navy.

In 339 BDR, Netheril was destroyed. The archarcanist Karsus attempted to supplant the power of the Goddess of Magic, Mystryl, and only succeded in killing both. All magic in Realmspace ceased to function, resulting in utter chaos until a new Goddess of Magic, Mystra, could arise and repair the damage. This was much too late for the floating cities of Netheril, which had crashed to the ground. Their great spells repelling the advance of the High Ice in the north failed, resulting in the monstrous glaciers surging south. The Netherese battles against the evil phaerimm now turned against them, and the phaerimm’s magic and life-draining spells saw all the territory of Netheril being consumed by the Great Desert of Anauroch. The Netherese colonies in the west were abandoned or broke away to become independent.

The Fall of Netheril did see some of the survivors flee into the Rauvin and Surbrin river valleys, at that time mostly contested between orc and goblin tribes, as well as isolated human tribal groups. This resulted in a 700-year period when human and monster tribes contested the region, with the human gradually becoming more numerous and building more permanent settlements. A notable event happened in 384 DR when a rope-and-wood bridge was built spanning the River Rauvin near the Silverwoods. By 403 traffic across the bridge had led to it being replaced by a stone bridge, blessed by priests of Mielikki and Lurue the Unicorn. In 447 the bridge was joined by the fortified Moonsilver Inn. Twelve years later a logging camp took shape around the inn, becoming known as Silver Village. Initially home to loggers, fishermen, trappers, and fur traders began to settle in the village as well. Its isolation also made it popular with hermits, recluses, and wizards. Tellshyll the Aged became the first wizard to settle nearby, raising a tower north of the town in 539. In 574, Bynan “Two-Axes” Oakfeller became the first elected Mayor of Silver Village, which he promptly renamed Silverymoon.

Silverymoon expanded into the first true city of the Savage Frontier. In 627 Ecamane Truesilver arrived with a dozen apprentices from far Myth Drannor. Truesilver founded the Silver Lady’s Library in Silverymoon in 629, making the city a popular destination for magical researchers from across Faerûn. In 637 Truesilver helped defeat the nearby Granitefang orc tribe and was elected High Mage of the city. In 659 fifty more wizards from Myth Drannor arrived to h

elp grow the city further, and it entered into a productive alliance with Ascalhorn across the Nether Mountains. By 711 Silverymoon had become a sister-city of Myth Drannor in Cormanthyr, linked to it by a magical gate.

In 711 the Army of Darkness, led by the infamous Trio Nefarious, began its assault against Cormanthyr, commencing the Weeping War. Silverymoon despatched aid via its gate, but as the war raged on, it eventually became clear that the elves could not hold. Silverymoon instead used its gate to receive exiles and refugees. During a particularly brutal assault on Myth Drannor, the mezzoloth Colonel Cvor penetrated the Silversgate and nearly reached Silverymoon, but was delayed by the Archmage Elminster. Ecamane Truesilver led the mages of Silverymoon in killing Cvor and sealing the Silversgate, albeit at the cost of his own life.

Using more traditional teleportation magic, Silverymoon continued providing aid to Myth Drannor and receiving refugees up until the city’s final fall in 714 DR.

Silverymoon grew larger and more powerful, which made it both a strong beacon of light in the otherwise fractious North and a target for those determined to destroy such signs of civilisation. The city survived the First Trollwar of 932, when hordes of trolls spilled out of the Evermoors to infest the entire North. Nimoar of Nimoar’s Hold allied with other forces, including some from Silverymoon, to burn out the troll threat. The Second Trollwar of 940-952 was more serious, but the trolls were eventually defeated. The powerful wizard Ahghairon of Silverymoon had worked with the forces of Nimoar’s Hold – now increasingly becoming known by its nickname, Waterdeep – to help defeat the trolls and was invited to become the first Archmage of that city. By 1010 Waterdeep already exceeded Silverymoon in size, its faster growth propelled by its formidable port, and the two cities established a long-lasting alliance, stretched as it was by the 550 miles between them.

In 1018 Silverymoon was attacked during the Rage of Dragons, but repulsed the onslaught with minimal losses.

An orc horde, a splinter of the vast “Black Horde” of orcs, besieged the city in 1235, also causing internal political chaos within the city, but the siege was relieved by the famed archmage Alustriel Silverhand, second-eldest of the Seven Sisters. Working with fellow agents of the group known as the Harpers, Alustriel stabilised the city and helped drive off the horde with her powerful magic. Alustriel was proclaimed High Mage of the city, a position Alustriel then accepted.

Silverymoon’s rise has been mirrored by others. The city of Everlund to the south had started life in 515 as a colony of human settlers from Ascalhorn and grown into a strong city, almost a sister-city to Silverymoon further downriver. In 882 Ascalhorn was destroyed by balors (becoming the notorious Hellgate Keep), but one of the High Captains of the city managed to assemble a refugee column and made it to the dwarven stronghold of Sundbarr, a rare surface settlement of dwarves on the Rauvin some 116 miles east of Silverymoon. Sundbarr was a strong city, but nearly an empty one, centuries of repeated orc raids having encouraged the population to retreat to Citadel Adbar or other dwarf-holds. The arrival of the human settlers, with the dwarves’ permission, saw the city undergo a renaissance and become a powerful ally of both Silverymoon and Everlund, under the name Sundabar.

As well as the human cities, the dwarf-holds of the region experienced renewed fortunes. The empire of Delzoun had fallen in 100 BDR, but many of its outposts and satellites nearer the surface Realms survived, including Mithral Hall, Citadel Adbar and Citadel Felbarr. In the latter part of the 12th Century Mithral Hall, held by Clan Battlehammer, awoke the shadow dragon Shimmergloom in the mines and was promptly evacuated, the clan coming to rest in distant Icewind Dale.

In 1054, the dwarves abandoned Citadel Felbarr, lacking the strength to hold it against the surrounding orc tribes. Silverymoon took possession of the fortress with the dwarves’ permission and settled over 3,000 troops there. In 1104 the orcs of the Many-Arrows tribe captured the fortress in a pitched battle, driving the humans out and renaming it the Citadel of Many Arrows.

The loss of two of the three great dwarf-holds of the Frontier was a bitter blow to the fortunes of dwarfkind in the region, although the largest and most powerful, Citadel Adbar, held firm. But in 1356, the Companions of the Hall blazed a trail of adventure across the entirety of the North. Bruenor Battlehammer, heir to the lost throne of Mithral Hall, set out to reclaim the fortress with the aid of his four famed companions: Regis, the halfling thief; Wulfgar, the honourable barbarian warrior who had slain a dragon whilst still a teenager; Catti-Brie the archer; and Drizzt Do’Urden, the famed “renegade dark elf” of Menzoberranzan. The Companions of the Hall found Mithral Hall but only barely escaped from it with their lives, and Bruenor was believed dead for some time before he was found alive, having slain Shimmergloom in the process. After a side-trip to Calimport, the Companions reunited and, allied with the dwarves of Citadel Adbar, mercenaries from across the regions and the dwarves and barbarians of Icewind Dale, retook the hall from Shimmergloom’s duergar minions.

Holding the Hall proved difficult, as its resettling and the presence of Drizzt provoked the ire of the drow city of Menzoberranzan. The drow assaulted the hall in the Battle of Keeper’s Dale in 1358 but were defeated.

Inspired by this victory, the dwarves under Emerus Warcrown began making plans to retake Citadel Felbarr. Lacking the numbers for a frontal assault, they cannily waited until the orc horde-leader Greneire of the Wall approached the fortress. Greneire led the largest orc horde in almost two centuries, over 150,000 orcs, and wished to ally with Obould’s 40,000 to scour the North. However, Obould had been told by a shaman he would lose his throne due to another orc. He sealed his gates and ordered Greneire to leave his lands. The resulting exchange of insults resulted in Greneire assaulting the Citadel. Greneire won the field engagement but lost the assault on the citadel walls, being slain by Obould. However, Obould was heavily wounded and tens of thousands of orcs on both sides had been slain during the battle. When Clan Warcrown and its allies launched their attack, the exhausted orcs had no choice but to flee. Obould spent the next few years regrouping before declaring the forming of the Kingdom of Many-Arrows along the foothills of the Spine of the World.

In 1369, two Harper agents and the enigmatic mage known as the Mistmaster successfully destroyed Hellgate Keep, obliterating its buildings. A follow-up adventuring party sealed off any lingering access between the fortress and the outer planes, and the ancient treant Turlang and the Druids of Tall Trees joined forces to purge the area and turn into a lush new woodland, nicknamed Hellgate Dell.

In 1370, this series of victories had led to a huge lessening of the evils of the North. Alustriel summoned the rulers of the region to a meeting and proposed that they capitalised on these successes by unifying the area into the Alliance of the Silver Marches, a mutual defence, cooperation, and trade coalition. Originally the plan was for a somewhat looser confederation, but the reception was so much better than expected that it was expended into a more ambitious idea, a whole new country called Luruar, named for its patron deity Lurue. By unanimous proclamation, Alustriel Silverhand was named High Lady of the Realm. Taern “Thunderspell” Hornblade succeeded Alustriel as High Mage of Silverymoon.

The founding of Luruar has been greeted warmly by other civilised powers in the region, such as Waterdeep, Neverwinter and the elves of Evereska, but has been less warmly-received by orc tribes, drow cities in the Underdark and groups such as the Zhentarim.

Government

The individual cities and holds of Luruar mostly rule themselves autonomously. However, they are represented on the Council of the Marches, a governmental body headed by High Lady Alustriel Silverhand. The rulers (or their representatives) of Citadel Adbar, Citadel Felbarr, Mithral Hall, Sundabar, Everlund and Silverymoon sat on the council, sometimes with representatives from Jalanthar, Deadsnows and Quaervarr. The council also hosted the commander of the Ardent Legion, the Lady Protector and a rotating Member-at-Large appointed by the High Lady.

The governance of the Silver Marches is relatively light, with the High Lady mostly assuming command and issuing proclamations in times of emergency, such as moving troops quickly to deal with an orc incursion or a monster attack, and during the rest of the time dealing only with matters such as trade deals with foreign powers, as well as mediating internal disputes between members. As Luruar is such a younger power, the full framework for these issues is still being worked out.

Luruar has established a common army, the Argent Legion, headquartered in Rauvinwatch Keep with detachments in Citadel Adbar and Sundabar. The Legion still only numbers in the hundreds and is not yet strong enough to fight major actions without backup from the Alliance members’ own individual armies and militias. The Silver Marches have not yet formed their own intelligence network, so are reliant on allies like the Harpers for providing information of interest to the realm.

Luruar is also a member of the Lords’ Alliance, a broader coalition of powers in the North, Western Heartlands and along the Sword Coast, which gives the nation access to additional resources in the advent of danger.

Religion The nation is named for Lurue the Unicorn, a notable nature goddess of the North and sometimes-steed of Mielikki, the Lady of the Forest. Lurue and Mielikki are, to some extent, the patrons of the new nation. Corellon Larethian and Moradin Soulforger are the most popular elven and dwarven gods in Luruar, whilst Helm, Lathander, Oghma, Selûne, Sune and Tymora are also popular.

Thank you for reading The Atlas of Ice and Fire. To help me provide better content, please consider contributing to my Patreon page and other funding methods, which will also get you exclusive content before it goes live on my blogs.

Nations of the Forgotten Realms 19: Luiren

In this series I will be looking at each of the individual nations of Faerûn in turn, in alphabetical order. This series is based around the status of each nation as of 1371-72 Dalereckoning (at the end of D&D 2nd Edition and the start of 3rd Edition). The maps are drawn from The Forgotten Realms Interactive Atlas CD-ROM and their respective 1st and 2nd Edition sources. They are not necessarily current for the 5th Edition of the setting (which is set c. 1496 DR).

A map of Luiren. Please click for a larger version.
  • Ruler: Devout Voice Faran Ferromar
  • Capital: Beluir (pop. 27,210)
  • Settlements: Ammathluir (10,000), Chethel (15,512), Crimel (1000), Djannath, Fasruil (3000), Krenadir, Lluirvale, Otennath, Shoun
  • Population: 838,080 (92% halfling, 4% human, 2% elf, 1% half-elf, 1% misc.)
  • Area: 175,783 miles² (455,275.88 km²)
  • Military: Town militias, a small navy, the marchwardens (frontier guards)
  • Languages: Common, Dambrathan, Durpari, Halfling (Luiric/Lurienal)
  • Religion: Brandobaris, Tymora, Yondalla, the halfling pantheon
  • Exports: Ale, beer, grain, fruit, produce
  • Imports: Metalwork items, livestock
  • Sources: The Shining South (Tom Prusa, 1993), Demihuman Deities (Eric L. Boyd, 1998), Shining South (Todd Gamble, 2004)

Overview

Luiren, the Realm of Halflings, is located on the south coast of Faerûn. It lies south of the Eastern Shaar and the Toadsquat Mountains, which form its northern boundary, and consists of the lands in, around and between the Lluirwood and the Granuin Forest. To the south it is bordered by the Great Sea and the Luirenstrand. The realm is bordered to the west by Dambrath and to the east by Estagund.

Luiren is a hot, humid land sweltering on the shores of the Great Sea, although during the winter it becomes more pleasant. The nation mostly consists of a coastal plain immediately surrounding the Luirenstrand. These plains are dotted with villages, towns, hamlets and some old-fashioned halfling burrows, as well as the capital city of Beluir. Most buildings in Luiren are built to halfling standards, meaning average-sized humanoids may struggle to even enter some buildings. Only the larger cities have buildings suitable for average-sized humanoids, as well as grandiose halfling buildings (usually temples, town halls and palaces) that others can fit inside comfortably.

The Lluirwood covers much of Luiren and is said to be the ancestral homeland of all halflings in Faerûn (although some sages are sceptical of the claim, pointing to halfling slaves of the djinni lords of Calim existing more than three millennia before the earliest signs of settlement in the Lluirwood). The forest originally thickly covered the entire region, but it was partially cleared in the Ghostwar and subsequent settlement, eventually dividing the forest into two sections. The Lluirwood or Long Forest proper lies to the north and the Granuin or Southern Lluirwood to the south-west. The eastern Lluirwood is more hazardous and is home to various monstrous creatures, some of which have come down from the Toadsquat Mountains. The western Lluirwood is much safer, thanks to the efforts of clerics of Sheela Peryroyl, led by the cleric Nola Treestump. The Southern Lluirwood is patrolled by militia, rangers and druids keen to defend the western border with Dambrath, although isolated beholders and yuan-ti are rumoured are live in the forest depths.

The Mortik Swamp is the largest area of marshland in Luiren, lying at the southern end of Hambone Bay. The swamp is forbidding and harsh, and the Luirenese mostly avoid it, although occasional militia expeditions to pacify its denizens are necessary. The greatest dangers in the swamps are merrows and scrags. In recent years these creatures are reported to have been organised by an ogre shaman known as the Bog King, for purposes unknown.

Luiren also maintains the Great Trader’s Way, which runs from east to west across the length of Luiren’s northern border in the foothills of the Toadsquat Mountains, but the distance to the heart of Luiren around the Lluirwood has precluded heavy settlement of the area. There seems to be little or no enthusiasm for cutting through the Lluirwood directly to link the heartland with this area.

Luiren also includes several offshore islands, most notably the long, thin Island of Passion, Quelthiir. The islands are uninhabited, with Quelthiir effectively forming the longest offshore sandbar on the continent, with limited resources.

History

In the most ancient of times, the Lluirwood was part of an extensive area of forest and jungle spreading across much of Faerûn’s south coast. This area also included the Forest of Amtar. This region became the home of the jungle elves, who founded the realm of Ilythiir here almost 28,000 years ago.

As recounted in the epic sagas of the Crown Wars, Ilythiir fell into shadow and evil, and in 10,000 BDR (Before Dalereckoning) the Seldarine cast out the Ilythiiri, transforming them into the accursed drow. Cursed with an intolerance of sunlight, they were forced into the darkness of the Underdark.

For millennia afterwards, the region was unsettled. Wild elves moved into the Forest of Amtar, but left the (now separate) Lluirwood alone. What is known is that by around 6000 BDR, the Lluirwood had become home to the halflings.

The origins of the halfling race on Toril are obscure, with the earliest records indicating halflings existed in Calimshan many thousands of years Before Dalereckoning. Some have suggested that halflings are a derivation or subrace of humans (a notion that the halflings regard with scorn), possibly created by one of the Creator Races in the dawn of days. Others have indicated that halflings are of dwarven or gnomish origin, although apart from their shared short stature, they do not have much in common. Others have suggested they are their own race, but not native to Toril and came via gates from some other world. The halflings themselves are not particularly bothered by such musings.

One early legend has it that, at the time the hin settled the Lluirwood, the area was home to ogres. A halfling adventurer named Kaldair Swiftfoot confronted an avatar of the ogre god Vaprak the Destroyer and run him ragged with a chase around Hambone Bay for ten days and ten nights. Finally, the exhausted god agreed to a trial of strength: whomever could pull a tree intact from the ground intact would win dominion over the lands. Vaprak uprooted several trees but had to tear and destroy the roots in the process. Kaldair proceeded to a pull a sapling from the ground with its stem intact. Vaprak was incensed but was bound by his word, and the ogres abandoned the Lluirwood. According to some variations of the legend, Kaldair was actually an avatar of Brandobaris.

The halflings of the Lluirwood, or the hin as they called themselves, were mostly content to keep to themselves and other time divided into three kindreds: the curious, quick-footed lightfoots; the martial, disciplined stronghearts; and the reclusive, mysterious ghostwise. The three kindreds existed in peace for centuries or millennia, but around 102 BDR a ghostwise cleric named Desva was won over to the worship of Malar, the Beastlord. Her followers became more savage and violent, and started hunting peaceful creatures for sport. When their violence turned against the other halflings, around 68 BDR, the stronghearts and lightfoots allied together and fought the Hin Ghostwar. The conflict lasted for three years, until the strongheart hero Chand slew Desva in combat in 65 DR.

The remaining ghostwise left Luiren for the Chondalwood, vowing to atone for their savagery. The lightfoots, horrified by the conflict and taken with a desire to explore the world, underwent a diaspora and spread across Faerûn, settling in many lands alongside other races. Most halflings encountered outside of Luiren are lightfoots.

The stronghearts remained and began clearing the forest and building the first major towns and then cities of the region. The city of Beluir was built on Hambone Bay in 14 DR, and was followed by Chethel (47), Shoun (116), Krenadir (218) and Ammathluir (383).

The history of Luiren is remarkably free of incident. In 148 DR merrow from Mortik Swamp attacked Chethel and burned half the city to the ground before they were repulsed. In 328 the halflings embarked on a logging and road-building spree that saw the Lluirwood split in two at the Ammathvale and Luiren connected by road with the Arkaiun tribelands to the west and the Eastern Shaar to the north.

In 447, Luiren was invaded by a tribe of ogres down from the Toadsqauts. They rampaged through the Lluirwood before being halted at the Battle of Three Stumps in 450.

 In 461, the Arkaiun and hin jointly founded the town of Ammathtar to facilitate trade between their two realms. The town was destroyed by a beholder in 636, but eventually rebuilt.

In 545, Warchief Reinhar unified the tribes and towns of the Arkaiun into the Kingdom of Dambrath and almost immediately invaded Luiren, overrunning and conquering the nation by the end of 546. Luiren was under occupation for eight years before Reinhar was slain by Mycontil, the Wizard-King of Halruaa. Dambrath withdrew from Luiren and the other invaded lands in 554. In response to the war, Luiren reluctantly decided it was necessary to create a better defence, founding the order of marchwardens in 572. The marchwardens proved their worth in 922 by turning back a large-scale raid by Dambrath at Ammathluir.

In 1105, Luiren was ravaged from the sea by a monstrous storm. Beluir was partially destroyed and Chethel and Krenadir suffered heavy damage, although all was eventually repaired.

In 1264, the evil druid Voolad Espiral attacked and destroyed Thruldar, an Estagundan border town on the north-eastern edge of the Lluirwood. Luirenese marchwardens relieved the town by slaying Voolad, but were unable to kill him, only imprison his spirit within the ruins. Estagund abandoned the town.

Luiren’s recent history remains as much of it has: peaceful, relaxed, with moderate trade with the surrounding lands.

Government

Luiren has a very relaxed hierarchy, with each town and city electing its own mayor which has responsibility for the city and the surrounding area, and the mayors of other settlements communicate with one another to resolve wider problems. There are guilds to regulate working practices.

Luiren’s national government, as much as it has one, is represented by the Devout Voice of Yondalla, currently Faran Ferromar. Ferromar adjudicates wider problems and deals with foreign dignitaries when required. Some outsiders believe this means that Luiren is a theocracy, but whilst the gods and their clergies are respected in Luiren, they do not have day-to-day control of the nation.

Each town or village in Luiren has a small militia, usually used to defend against bandits or monsters out of the forest or mountains. The closest thing Luiren has to a standing army is the order of marchwardens, independent fighters, druids and rangers who patrol the frontier to look out for trouble. They are highly capable, and often underestimated by outsiders.

Luiren maintains friendly relations with its neighbours, especially Estagund to the east. They regard Dambrath warily, as the nation has a poor reputation and once occupied Luiren for close to a decade (albeit eight centuries ago). Luiren’s western town of Ammathluir is resultingly heavily fortified against a possible Dambrathan invasion, with the Abbey of the Bountiful Horn (an abbey dedicated to Yondalla) serving as a frontier fortress and the surrounding Ammathvale dotted with supply caches and secret redoubts. However, Dambrath seems to have little or no interest in Luiren bar as a trade partner, possibly out of concern of the much greater power of Halruaa to its west.

Religion

Fairly obviously, the halfling pantheon is the most popular form of worship in Luiren. Brandobaris and Yondalla are particularly warmly worshipped across the entire nation.

The human deity Tymora, Lady Luck, is also very popular in Luiren and is worshipped in the aspect of a halfling. According to the halflings, Tymora is a halfling goddess who has hoodwinked her way into the wider Faerûnian pantheon. This is treated with scepticism by most, although Tymora’s capricious nature does make discerning the absolute truth difficult.

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Nations of the Forgotten Realms 18: Lapaliiya & Tharsult

In this series I will be looking at each of the individual nations of Faerûn in turn, in alphabetical order. This series is based around the status of each nation as of 1371-72 Dalereckoning (at the end of D&D 2nd Edition and the start of 3rd Edition). The maps are drawn from The Forgotten Realms Interactive Atlas CD-ROM and their respective 1st and 2nd Edition sources. They are not necessarily current for the 5th Edition of the setting (which is set c. 1496 DR).

A map of Lapaliiya and Tharsult. Please click for a larger version.

Lapaliiya

  • Ruler: Shaliim Wyrmslayer, Overking of Sheirtalar
  • Capital: Sheirtalar (pop. 52,135)
  • Settlements: Abreon (4680), Dungar (931), Ilyaport (1923), Ithmong (46,729), Lapalgard (3701), Lhazantal (925), Lushpool (17,265), Malaxer (4103), Mierskar (1617), Ormpur (24,612), Sammaresh (21,912), Sheirlantar (7306), Uzurr (10,305), Zashuma (1399)
  • Population: 1,217,642 (94% human [50% Shaaran, 36% Calishite, 12% Tashalan, 1% Chulant, 1% Halruaan], 2% yuan-ti, 2% rock gnome, 1% wild dwarf, 1% misc.)
  • Population Density: 8.13 people per mile², 3.14 people per km²
  • Area: 149,820 miles² (388,032.019 km²)
  • Military: Local militias, mercenary companies
  • Languages: Common, Shaaran, Tashalan, Alzhedo, Halruaan
  • Religion: Bhaelros (Talos), Chauntea, Deneir, Eldath, Garl Glittergold, Gond, Ilmater, Kelemvor, Lliira, Selûne, Silvanus, Tempus, Tiamat, Umberlee, Waukeen
  • Exports: Olives, pearls, roe, seafood, spices, wine, wood
  • Imports: Armour, beef, gems, fruit, iron, jewellery, pottery, weapons
  • Sources: Serpent Kingdoms (Ed Greenwood, Eric L. Boyd, Darrin Drader, 2004)

Tharsult

  • Ruler: Merchant oligarchy
  • Capital: Urbeth
  • Settlements: Aunthurr, Chastel, Funearil, Nlintar
  • Population: Unknown
  • Area: 7069 miles² (18,308.63 km²)
  • Languages: Common, Shaaran, Tashalan, Alzhedo, Halruaan
  • Religion: Waukeen, various
  • Exports: Food, mercantile services
  • Imports: Everything
  • Sources: Perilous Gateways: Portals in Ruins (Robert Wiese, 2002), Ed Greenwood’s comments (link)

Overview

Lapaliiya, also known formally as the Lapal League and colloquially as the Cities of the Seabreeze, is a coalition of city-states and townships located along the south-eastern coast of the Shining Sea, at the eastern end of the Chultan Peninsula where it joins the mainland of southern Faerûn. The nation extends from the south-western edge of the Shaar to the bay known as the Dolphingulph (Dolphin Gulf) and inland as far as the Mhair Jungle and the Bandit Wastes to the south; the Dun Hills, Misty Vale and the hills known as the Wormbones in the east; and the Delphin Mountains to the west. The nation is a loose coalition effectively chaired by the Overking of Sheirtalar, the largest city in the realm and nominally its capital.

The Lapal League is made up of the large cities of Sheirtalar (the Shining City), Ithmong (the Stormwracked City), Lushpool (the City of Shimmering Pools), Sammaresh (the City of Dancing Dolphins) and Uzurr (the City of Toiling Monks); the smaller settlements of Malaxer, Abreon, Lhaztanal (the City of Smiths), Zashuma, Dungar, Ilyaport and Sheirlantar; and the frontier fortress of Lapalgard, which guards the trade route across the Bandit Wastes towards Halruaa. Each city contributes to the defence of Lapaliiya in different ways, and each city has an appointed civic deity, a patron god whom is worshipped in that city over all others. The city-state of Ormpur, located just to the north of Sheirtalar, is nominally completely independent, but in recent years has come increasingly under the influence of its neighbour and is often now counted part of its domain, complete with its own appointed civic deity.

Nearby Tharsult is an island kingdom located in the Shining Sea. It lies south of Calimshan, west and north-west of Lapaliiya and north-east of Thindol and Tashalar, making it a perfect centre for trade and commerce. The kingdom consists of the main island of Tharsult and the smaller island of Umbarra just off its eastern coast. The geography of the island is made up coastlines where chalk cliffs are commonplace, and lots of farms producing foodstuffs. The larger towns and the capital city of Urbeth are noted for being immense storage sites, where goods from across southern Faerûn await further transit. These cargo yards, in some cases, dwarf the nearby settlements. The Tharsen are noted for scrupulously believing in the sanctity of trade, no matter the point of origin, and ensuring the security of their customers’ goods. Much of Tharsult’s defence is expended on ships to protect the trade routes to nearby cities. The amount of wealth that passes through Tharsult is remarkable, and the Tharsen have had to employ a new method of counting money in the form of statuettes, each of which is worth a substantial amount of gold.

History

The region of modern Lapaliiya was once the domain of the Sarrukh, the legendary Creator Race who ruled the empire of Mhairshaulk which extended along the southern shores of the inland sea known as the Pourounkorokale (now the Shining Sea) some 36,000 years ago. The Sarrukh declined and their civilisation eventually collapsed, with the species either dying off or departing Toril for another plane. They left behind the species they had created, the most notable of which were the yuan-ti, who inherited their realm around 33,500 BDR (Before Dalereckoning). The yuan-ti mostly kept to themselves in the jungles and did not care about the doings of outsiders.

Around 17,600 BDR, the elves enacted the Sundering, splintering the continents apart. The parts of Mhairshaulk which extended into what are now the continents of Maztica and Katashaka were destroyed, and the yuan-ti suffered grievously. They reconstituted their power on the newly-formed Chultan Peninsula, particularly the Black Jungles and Mhair Jungles, and enslaved the human tribesfolk who had been trapped on the peninsula during the Sundering. These people, who made their homes in villages around the inland Lapal Sea, became known as the Lapal people. Some sources suggest that the Lapal, or their ancestors, had been blended with Sarrukh stock to create the yuan-ti in the first place, but the truth of the matter remains unclear.

The Lapal people were so long under the yoke of the yuan-ti that the very idea of rebellion may have seemed alien to them. But in 2809 BDR, several new human tribes arrived in the west of Chult, having been led to Faerûn by couatls out of Katashaka. The Eshowe, Tabaxi and Thinguth were proud and free peoples who fought off yuan-ti attacks on their newly-settled lands, to the amazement of the Lapal. This inspired the Lapal to start their own rebellions. Finally, in 1732 BDR, the Lapal won their freedom in a great uprising and migrated west, north and east out of the jungle altogether. The Lapal people soon established new settlements stretching from the south coast of the Chultan Peninsula into the western edge of the Shaar.

Despite moving clear of the jungles and establishing towns and even cities, the yuan-ti didn’t entirely let them go, and especially in areas close to the jungle homes of the yuan-ti, raids and skirmishes continued. Lapal raiders settling in the north-western part of the Shaar, near what are now the Border Kingdoms, had also started striking across Talagath’s Gauntlet, into what are now the eastern parts of Calimshan, bringing the two powers into conflict for a time.

In 690 BDR, the continuing threat of the yuan-ti convinced the Lapal tribes and townships to ally together as the realm of Lapaliiya. They adopted Sheirtalar as their capital. Conflict with Calimshan was replaced by trade, commencing in earnest around 569 BDR and resulting in the young kingdom becoming enriched. Soon, the western Lapal tribes who had not joined the new nation established a kingdom of their own, Tashalar, in 553 BDR. This resulted in a golden period when all three nations flourished and trade across the Shining Sea peaked. This period ended in the Empire Plague of 375-370 BDR, when almost a third of Lapaliiya’s population was killed by disease.

The yuan-ti established their new empire of Serpentes in the Mhair and Black Jungles in 304 BDR and invaded Lapaliiya and Tashalar, which were both still broken by the aftereffects of the plague, which had reduced the population of both nations. By 189 BDR both nations had been conquered. They remained under yuan-ti occupation until 10 DR, when the yuan-ti emperor Sseth disappeared without trace, sparking panic and then rebellion. The uprising began in Tashalar and spread eastwards. By 34 DR all the cities eastwards to Sheirtalar had been liberated and the Confederation of Tashtan founded, which incorporated both Tashalar and Lapaliiya into a single polity.

Tashtan endured for some two and a half centuries until the rogue Magister, Ergith “Kingslayer” Klavulgrun, slew a dozen Tashalaran merchant-lords who set on the nation’s ruling council in 276. The resulting leadership crisis left the realm in a state of civil unrest and unable to resist the advance of the Qysara Shoon V of the Shoon Imperium, who ordered the annexation of the region in 285. The town of Untisczer launched a failed rebellion and Shoon V used the event as an excuse to conquer the entire region as far west as Tashalar.

Lapaliiya began to reassert its independence during the reign of Qysara Shaani, who was more interested in events closer to home, and in 436 Sheirtalar rebelled. For a time it appeared successful, but in 438-440 General Hakam yn Sarak el Sallah unleashed the Seven Burnings campaign against the region, brutally sacking six Lapaliiyan cities before fighting their way into the Shaar and crushing tribal rebellions in that area.

Lapaliiya again became a Shoon possession, but only for a decade; in 450 Amahl Shon VII was killed by Tethyrian rebels and Shoonach destroyed, heralding the collapse of the Shoon Imperium. Lapaliiya officially regained its independence in 451. However, the nation endured as a loose coalition of independent townships rather than a close-knit nation. This changed in 656 when the threat of the gnoll tribes of the Shaar encouraged the founding of the Lapal League, again with Sheirtalar as its capital. The Lapal League mounted several punitive expeditions to destroy the gnolls before they could become a serious threat. Over the next few centuries Lapaliiya’s main threat came from the Shaar, as bands of Shaaran nomads would form and invade the kingdom, usually not getting very far or being absorbed into the general population.

In 1142, a group of yuan-ti mages, the Coiled Cabal, led an invasion of Lapaliiya and Tashalar. Lapaliiya and Tashalar sent a large number of archmages to fight off the invasion, but for unclear reasons (possibly yuan-ti intrigue) the two groups ended up fighting one another as well as the yuan-ti. At the end of three months of furious spell-combat, several cities along the coast had been destroyed and the three sides fought to a standstill in the war known as the Rage of Wizards. The yuan-ti retreated and in 1147 the rulers of Sheirtalar and Lushpool formed a new alliance. Haliim, the leader of the new alliance, gained the title of Overking. Within a few decades most of the traditional lands of Lapaliiya had been reunified under the Overking, but not by violence. Instead, distrust of magery following the Rage of Wizards saw the cities each appoint a “civic deity.” Worshippers of that deity would pray for protection and aid, effectively replacing the power of the mages with that of clerics. However, by making each city dedicated to a different god, no one clergy would gain dominance or power of any others, avoiding creating a theocracy.

In 1260, an overeager Overking launched an invasion of Halruaa to try to seize its magic. He formed an alliance with the inhabitants of the Bandit Wastes and marched down the Talath Pass. However, the Halruaans effortlessly defeated them with their superior magic, skyships and more formidable military. Lapaliiya subsequently agreed to pursue trade rather than warfare with Halruaa.

The history of Tharsult is considerably less well-known, but it is known that the island was at one time dominated by the yuan-ti before they were forced to retreat. It is believed that the Lapal colonised the island and founded the earliest trade ports on the city, and by the time that the triangle of trade between Tashalar, Lapaliiya and Calimshan began, the island had already become a major centre for trade. In recent centuries the island kingdom has consolidated its power as the major “sorting centre” for trade goods in southern Faerûn, with goods flowing into the island and back out again at an impressive rate. The island kingdom maintains a strict policy of neutrality and non-interference in business transactions, whilst also cracking down hard on corruption and piracy.

Government

Lapaliiya is a somewhat loose-knit nation where the cities share a common history and religious and cultural ties, and have a very long history of cooperation against outside threats, be they yuan-ti, Calishites and Shaaran raiders. Each city has a large degree of autonomy, but are also united under the rule of the Overking of Sheirtalar. The Overking usually rules with a light touch, only calling on the other cities for aid when needed. The opinions of the other rulers are consulted in the Grand Council, where the rulers of Sammaresh, Ithmong, Lushpool, Sheirtalar and Uzurr can meet to debate policy.

The current Overking is elderly and failing, but his eldest son, Prince Shaliim, is vigorous and proven as a warrior and adventurer with the group known as the Wildblades. Shaliim spent many years wandering Faerûn and even other worlds, doing battle with various forces, until he settled down in 1357 to rule the city of Lushpool as Prince Royal. Lapaliiya’s future seems to be in safe hands.

Lapaliiya has good relations with Tashalar to the west, with which it shares a common history, and cooler but cordial relations with Calimshan to the north and Halruaa to the south-east. Lapaliiya has a complex relationship with the yuan-ti of the nearby Mhair Jungles. Officially, yuan-ti and related species are barred from Lapaliiyan soil and an endemic hatred, if not paranoia, about yuan-ti infiltration has spread through the general population. However, it is an open secret that some yuan-ti operate behind the scenes in various cities, most notably in Lushpool, where the Hazim’tar clan have considerable influence. Various Overkings have judged that it may be better to involve the yuan-ti in Lapaliiyan affairs as a way of integrating them and avoiding open warfare as in the past, especially as Lapaliiya is now probably too large and powerful to be militarily conquered by them.

Tharsult’s governance is considerably less well-known, but it is believed that the island is dominated by powerful mercantile interests.

Religion

Following the Rage of Wizards in 1142 DR, the popularity of mages in Lapaliiya took a severe hit and wizards were effectively barred from the nation for some years. Even today, almost 230 years later, mages are unpopular and looked upon askance in the streets. To ensure Lapaliiya’s magical protection, the nation instead adopted the civic deities, with each city choosing a patron god. That god is worshipped above all else in that city, a mighty temple was raised in their name and their clergy given special favours and appointments. In return, the clergy are expected to provide magical defences and support to each city. This unusually transactional take on faith has proven exceptionally successful.

As a major centre for trade for southern Faerûn, Waukeen is believed to be the most popular deity in Tharsult.

Civic Deities of Lapaliiya

  • Abreon: Lliira
  • Dungar: Chauntea
  • Ilyaport: Umberlee
  • Ithmong: Bhaelros (Talos)
  • Lapalgard: Tempus
  • Lhazantal: Gond
  • Lushpool: Eldath
  • Malaxer: Silvanus
  • Mierskar: Deneir
  • Ormpur: Tiamat
  • Sammaresh: Selûne
  • Sheirlantar: Kelemvor
  • Sheirtalar: Waukeen
  • Uzurr: Ilmater
  • Zashuma: Garl Glittergold

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Nations of the Forgotten Realms 17: Lantan

In this series I will be looking at each of the individual nations of Faerûn in turn, in alphabetical order. This series is based around the status of each nation as of 1371-72 Dalereckoning (at the end of D&D 2nd Edition and the start of 3rd Edition). The maps are drawn from The Forgotten Realms Interactive Atlas CD-ROM and their respective 1st and 2nd Edition sources. They are not necessarily current for the 5th Edition of the setting (which is set c. 1496 DR).

A map of the nation of Lantan. Please click for a larger version.
  • Ruler: Ayrar Thagr, chairperson of the Ayrorch
  • Capital: Sambar
  • Settlements: Anchoril, Baelrah, Darluj, Dtakkar, Illul, Lethtar, Sundrah, Sujjar, Tsan 
  • Population: Unknown but split between humans and rock gnomes, with a small population of sentient wombats and platypuses, plus 1 vengeance-obsessed cat (Silky)
  • Area: 35,538 miles² (92,042.997km²)
  • Military: A powerful, technologically-advanced navy, a strong militia, illusionists.
  • Languages: Common, Gnomish, Lantanese, Alzhedo, Chondathan, Dwarvish, Ignan, Illuskan, Shaaran
  • Religion: Gond, Azuth, gnomish pantheon
  • Exports: Technology (mostly things that explode, or encourage explosions in others)
  • Imports: Copper, gemstones, tin, wood
  • Sources: Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting (Jeff Grubb, Ed Greenwood, Karen S. Martin, 1987), The Ring of Winter (James Lowder, 1992), Perilous Gateways: Portals of Lantan (Jeff Quick, 2004 web enhancement)

Overview

Lantan is an island nation in the Trackless Sea, located north-west of Chult and south-west of Calimshan, not far west of the Shining Sea. The kingdom consists of three islands: Lantan itself, Orlil to the east and Suj to the south.  Lantan is famed as the home of most technological innovation in Faerûn, as it is the home of both human and gnomish worshippers of Gond Wonderbringer. Lantan’s innovations include the printing press, firethrowers, smokepowder, arquebuses, firesticks and armoured worms.

The islands of Lantan are all heavily forested, with a relatively thick jungle cover broken up by mountains and stone pinnacles. Inland, Lantanese settlements are built on stilts to be elevated above the jungle cover, with only the coastal settlements and ports being more traditionally-constructed. There are breaks in the forest cover where farming settlements can be found, as well as extensive fishing fleets that provide the island with the bulk of its food. Lantan also engages in trade with other nations of the Trackless Sea, Sea of Swords and the Shining Sea, although it regulates how much of its advanced technology can be traded away to outsiders.

Lantan itself is the largest island, although Suj has more favourable ports and thus more coastal towns. Orlil, a mountainous island with few good natural ports, is largely uninhabited apart from the bardic College of the Bards of Orlil and the Order of Fabulists. Located just off the coast is a small island home to the sentient species known as “wombats,” who are otherwise unknown on Toril. Some of the wombats have attended the College and even travelled more widely in Faerûn, where they are seen as a curiosity. The wombats claim to share their island with a “weirder” sentient species known as platypuses. Both species are believed to have originated on another world and come to Toril by means unknown.

Lantan used to be somewhat isolated, but since the discovery of Maztica, the island has found itself athwart the fastest shipping lanes to the western continent. As a result, Lantan’s ports have become busier and richer, and Lantan itself has sent colonists to Maztica, securing St. Ippen Island as a base of operations and building the Great Lighthouse to make the shipping routes safer.

As is typical, once they opened themselves more up to international trade, it was not long until the Lantanna decided that ocean travel was both inefficient and slow and set out to find a more efficient alternative. After much work and investment, the Lantanna have created stable portals leading from the vicinity to Lantan to other locations on Toril: the middle of the Raurin Desert near Mulhorand (the first prototype, meant to open somewhere uninhabited); the Lantan Embassy in Waterdeep; the north-eastern border of Samarach; and the vicinity of the Pirate Isles of the Sea of Fallen Stars. Using these portals and others, the Lantanna hope to make trade more efficient and speedier. It is believed they are considering opening a portal to the vicinity of St. Ippen Island off Maztica to allow for the speedy import of resources from the True World.

Lantan’s capital city is Sambar, located on the south coast of Lantan Island on the strait known as the Sambar Run. The other major cities of Lantan Island are Lethtar, Illul and Sundrah. The southern island of Suj is home to the city of Anchoril and the smaller port towns of Darluj, Dtakkar, Tsan, Sujjar and Baelrah.

Anchoril is Lantan’s open port for the use of outsiders, and Lantan’s wondrous technology is restricted in the city. Visitors are vetted carefully and spoken to at length before being allowed access to the rest of the nation.

An oddity in the middle of Lantan Island is the ruined settlement of Myth Iiscar. Since no elven presence on the island has ever been discerned, it appears that the city was an attempt by a non-elven civilisation to create a mythal (as the Netherese once did), which appears to have failed. Exactly when this occurred is unknown.

History

The history of Lantan is somewhat obscure; the island was likely formed in the Sundering, the great magical cataclysm in 17,600 BDR when the supercontinent of Merrouroboros was split apart into the modern-day landmasses. The continent of Katashaka was torn westwards and southwards, leaving the lands of Chult and Lantan behind.

The island is not mentioned at all in the histories of the ancient elven empires, suggesting it was never colonised. The island may not have been visited by humans at all until the days of the ancient Calimshan empires. It was during this period that Calimshan held many gnomes as slaves, and it may well be that escaped gnomish slaves fled to Lantan and began its colonisation. The gnomes’ mastery of powerful illusion magic may have simply made Lantan too hard to locate and the Calishites were never a particularly strong seafaring people. However, all of this is supposition.

It is known that Lantan remained isolated and aloof from the affairs of the rest of Faerûn, rarely being mentioned in histories until less than a thousand years ago, when in the years after the fall of the Shoon Imperium, limited trade between Lantan and the mainland (and other, relatively nearby islands like Tharsult and Nimbral) began in earnest.

It is known that in the 8th Century DR (Dalereckoning), Captain Imbryn Ultal of Lantan forged a trade route from the island kingdom to the port of Haunvaerune, which was said to lie on the continent of Arandron to the far south-east of Faerûn, across the Trackless Sea. Whether Arandron is an alternate name for Katashaka or one of the very large islands off its east coast, or an as-yet unknown landmass beyond Katashaka, is unclear. This enriched both realms.

Around 1246 DR, Lantan first tested bombards as part of their early experiments to find more efficient weapons.

In 1358 the Time of Troubles struck Faerûn, and the gods were exiled from the heavens to live as mortal avatars. The avatar of Gond Wonderbringer washed up on the shores of Lantan. The locals rescued him and tended him back to health, and gave him a safe refuge on the island far from the chaos and infighting between the gods afflicting the mainland. After the end of the crisis and the restoration of the gods, Gond bestowed great gifts on Lantan in return for their fealty, including the secrets of smokepowder, leading to the invention of the arquebus.

In 1360, the Golden Legion of Amn, led by Captain Cordell, discovered the continent of Maztica across the Trackless Sea, opening the way for trade and (limited) settlement. The most favourable currents and winds for travel from Faerûn to Maztica lay close to Lantan, allowing the island to capitalise on passing traffic. Several years later, the Lantanna settled on the island of St. Ippen off the north-eastern coast of New Amn and built the Great Lighthouse to guide ships through the treacherous rocks infesting the waters between the islands known as the Green Sisters.

Government

Lantan is ruled by a twelve-member council known as the Ayrorch. The head of the council is the Ayrar, who acts as chairperson and spokesperson. Another senior member is the Lantar, who travels to other realms as an ambassador with extraordinary powers of negotiation. The remaining ten members are known as the Santar and represent various interests in the nation, such as the High Artificer of the Church of Gond and various mercantile and military interests. The council is notable for its mixed-race composition, with both humans and gnomes represented.

Lantan enjoys mercantile trade with many of the Trackless Sea, Shining Sea and Sea of Swords powers, and even with nations in the Great Sea. As noted elsewhere, Lantan has been pioneering the use of freestanding gates to conduct trade at great distance with tremendous speed, although the long-term viability of the plan has yet to be confirmed.

Lantan has good relations with most nations, although they have been accused of stealing the secrets of the printing press from Halruaa, leading to strained relations between the two powers.

Although more interested in the practical and peaceful applications of technology, Lantan has not been idle in arming itself with new inventions to ensure its security. Lantanna warships patrol the waters around Lantan and, it is whispered, below it through some means not yet known. Lantanna ships are equipped with firethrowers and bombards, and Lantanna sailors are equipped with arquebuses, a technology not yet widely replicated elsewhere in the Realms. Lantanna mages specialising in illusion magic stand ready to assist, if needed, and a small but devastatingly-equipped militia is ready to repulse any invasion if required.

Religion

Lantan is the centre of Gond-worship on Toril. The largest and most significant temple to Gond Wonderbringer, the High Holy Crafthouse of Inspiration, is located on Lantan outside the city of Illul. The head of the temple, the High Artificer (currently Danactar), is nominally the head of the Church of Gond for the entire planet, although in practice his word outside Lantan carries only nominal weight. The High Artificer also sits on the Ayrorch council.

Unusually, Gond is worshipped in Lantan by both humans and gnomes. The gnomes worship him both in his human aspect and a gnomish form known as Nebelun, in which shape Gond took refuge on Lantan during the Time of Troubles.

Although Gond is, by far, the most popular god in Lantan, he is not the only one. Leira, as the goddess of illusions, the most favoured school of gnomish magic, also had a following on the island until her demise at the hands of Cyric a few months after the Time of Troubles. Cyric absorbed her portfolios. The Lantanna showed little enthusiasm for worshipping Cyric, and turned their affections to Mystra and Azuth. As on Nimbral, a few diehards insisted that Leira was still alive and had faked her death as part of some elaborate and needlessly obscure (and thus very Leiran) stratagem, and found their prayers were still answered.

After Gond, Azuth is the most respected and popular deity on the island, although it is a distant second place. The gods of knowledge, particularly Oghma, are also revered in small numbers, and Lantanna farmers also offer prayers to the gods of nature and the harvest. Shrines to many of the Faerûnian pantheon can be found in the Visitors’ Vale surrounding the city of Anchoril on Suj Island.

The rest of the gnomish pantheon also have small followings among the island’s gnomish population.

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Nations of the Forgotten Realms 16: Impiltur

In this series I will be looking at each of the individual nations of Faerûn in turn, in alphabetical order. This series is based around the status of each nation as of 1371-72 Dalereckoning (at the end of D&D 2nd Edition and the start of 3rd Edition). The maps are drawn from The Forgotten Realms Interactive Atlas CD-ROM and their respective 1st and 2nd Edition sources. They are not necessarily current for the 5th Edition of the setting (which is set c. 1496 DR).

A map of the kingdom of Impiltur. Please click for a larger version.

  • Ruler: King Imbrar II (heir), Queen Regent Sambryl (regent), the Lords of Imphras II (Council of Lords)
  • Capital: Lyrabar (pop. 52,305)
  • Settlements: Arn’s Cove, Bay Town (1750), Borgar’s Mill, Cairnpur, Dilpur (15,000),Filur, Guidodale,Hlammach (36,386), Ilmwatch (560), Kielbast, Laviguer, Lenchford, Maracrath, Mulltown (250), New Moranay (1356), New Sarshel (1500), Outentown, Pick ‘n’ Axe, Red Bluffs, Relgar’s Ford, Sarshel (6000), Songhal, Thelnam, Three Horns, Timbertown, Vordric Dun
  • Population: 1,205,280 (90% human, 5% dwarf, 4% halfling, 1% misc.)
  • Population Density: 10.37 people per mile², 4.00 people per km²
  • Area: 116,266 miles² (301,127.6 km²)
  • Military: The Warswords (militia army), the Most Holy Order of the Sacred Shrike (aka the Knights of Imphras II, a religious order dedicated to destroying demonic influences), the Triadic Knights (a religious order serving the Triad), the Swordpoints (crown-authorised mercenary and adventuring bands)
  • Languages: Common, Damaran
  • Religion: Ilmater, Selûne, Torm, Tymora, Tyr, Valkur, Waukeen
  • Exports: Gems, bloodstone, gold, iron, silver, trade goods from Damara and Earthfast
  • Imports: Exotic goods, fruit, shipbuilders, tea, vegetables, wood products
  • Sources: The Bloodstone Lands (Bob Salvatore, 1989), Impiltur: The Forgotten Kingdom (George Krashos, Dragon #346, August 2006), The Grand History of the Realms (Brian R. James, Ed Greenwood, George Krashos, Eric L. Boyd, Thomas Costa, 2007)

Overview

Impiltur is a nation located on the north-eastern shores of the Sea of Fallen Stars, along the west coast of Easting Reach. Impiltur is sometimes called “the Forgotten Kingdom,” as it was once more active in international affairs but in recent centuries has kept to itself. It is in a relatively secure area of Faerûn far from the threat of invasion, the various monstrous threats on its doorstep are relatively under control and the nation has strong allies in the area to call on for aid, particularly the kingdom of Damara to the north and the dwarven nation of Earthfast along its western border.

Impiltur’s far western border is the Grey Forest, sometimes called the Tsurlar Forest, which marks the boundary with the city-states of the southern Vast, most notably Tsurlagol. The border extends east along the southern face of the Earthfast Mountains, and then moves north through the Earthfasts and the neighbouring Earthspur range to Lake Icemelt, then moves north and east through the mountains to the Merchant’s Run Pass, then east to the River Lench. The far north-eastern border is formed by the western eaves of the Rawlinswood and the course of the River Soleine from the forest boundary to Even’s Gulf. The sea then forms the remainder of Impiltur’s border to the east and south. There is one curiosity in the region, the colony of New Sarshel which was founded on the eastern shores of Easting Reach some years ago by Impilturan merchants chafing at the restrictions of Sarshel. Their plan was to attract traffic away from Sarshel. However, founding the town considerably further north along the coast than Sarshel and the lack of decent overland trade routes leading from the settlement have stymied its growth, and its long-term prospects appear doubtful.

Impiltur is divided into three general geographic regions: the Easting Coast runs from the Grey Forest to Sarshel and is the oldest and most heavily-settled part of the country. The capital at Lyrabar lies in the south-west of this region, with Hlammach, Dilpur and Sarshel to the east, along the coast. Lyrabar and Hlammach are the only two large cities in the realm and enjoy a mild rivalry (reminiscent of, but not as strong as, that between Suzail and Marsember in Cormyr). To the north-east, along the Earthspur Mountains, lies the Uplands region, home to many mining communities. In the far north-east, beyond Trader’s Bay, lies the Farwater Region, Impiltur’s wild and lightly-settled frontier with both Damara and the region known as the Great Dale. The fotress of Ilmwatch and its neighbouring town are the only large settlements of note in this region, but caravan stops and villages dot the Merchant’s Run as it runs north into Damara. The village of Lenchford marks the border with Damara.

Impiltur is a land divided between the mountains and the sea. Villages, mining towns and temples dot the mountainsides and foothills, the source of much of Impiltur’s wealth.  Smaller ports, trading sites and fishing communities are located along the coastline of the Inner Sea, the Easting Reach (and its lesser inlets, Buzzard Beak Harbor and Even’s Gulf) and Trader’s Bay. Trader’s Bay, mistranslated (or not) as Traitor’s Bay, is an extensive waterway former by the mouth of the Great Imphras River, which runs out of Damara to the north carrying immense amounts of meltwater from the Great Glacier and the wildlands of Vaasa. The Great Imphras widens into Bluefang Water before widening again into the Oldwater (or Old Water Bay) before finally reaching the sea. The Bluefang and the Oldwater collectively form Trader’s Bay. This area is known as a haven for corsairs, pirates, and other undesirables, but they are allowed to use Trader’s Bay and the village of Bay Town as a refuge in return for not targeting Impilturan shipping or that of its allies.

History

For a nation often described as “forgotten” by the rest of Faerûn, the kingdom has a surprisingly long history. The area may have formed part of the giant realm of Ostoria in the most ancient of days, but after the long wars between the giants and dragons it seems to have been abandoned for a considerable number of millennia. After 1000 BDR (Before Dalereckoning) the area became a frontier area for the burgeoning kingdom of Narfell, which established a presence on the north-eastern shores of the Easting Reach. The Nars did not settle the lands to the south-west, however, leaving them either empty or the province of independent settlers. However, after the rise of the orc kingdom of Vastar in 700 BDR, the area may have become increasingly settled and fought between different orc tribes, although the histories are vague on the subject and the presence of the powerful dwarven kingdom of Earthfast seems to have halted Vastar’s expansion further eastwards. The prospect of bloody clashes between Narfell and Vastar seems to have led both nations to accepting the territory of modern Impiltur as, perhaps, a buffer ground of sorts.

Both empires were also drawn in different directions, Vastar westwards into increasingly bold strikes against the elven empire of Cormanthyr and Narfell north and east in increasingly devastating wars with Raumathar. Eventually the Nar demonbinders embarked on a bold plan to destroy Raumathar by summoning the tanar’ri lord Eltab to Toril. They built the Citadel of Conjurers in the foothills of the Earthfast Mountains, near Moaning Gorge, to help them to this end.

Eltab was summoned in 160 BDR and, despite his reluctance, joined the battle. However, Eltab was able to escape his binds, leaving Narfell and Raumathar to completely destroy one another in the Great Conflagration of c. 150 BDR, a result of an ill-advised attempt to enlist the aid of the fire god Kossuth. Both empires were obliterated.

With Vastar distracted by its wars with Cormanthyr and civil strife, the way was open for the coastlands along Easting Reach to be settled. Impil Mirandor, a survivor of the Fall of Jhaamdath (which had been destroyed in 255 BDR by the tidal wave that formed the Vilhon Reach), founded the settlement of Impil’s Tor in 135 BDR, atop the ancient, abandoned dwarven city of Felimar. The city was renamed Lyrabar by his son and heir Ornrath, who established trade agreements with the nearby dwarven kingdom of Earthfast in 118 BDR and began to expand the boundaries of the kingdom. In 74 BDR Lyrabar and the other towns and villages of the region were formally allied as the Kingdom of Impiltur, with Inrath (son of Ornrath, grandson of Impil) declared the first king.

However, the nascent nation was still located in the shadow of the greatest orc kingdom to have ever existed in northern Faerûn, and more than once the orcs of Vastar attempted to sack Lyrabar. Stout magic and the alliance with the dwarves allowed the city to survive, although sometimes only by the skin of its teeth, and some of its vassal settlements were not so lucky. The stress of the constant threat of such raids led the Obarskyr family and several hundred settlers to flee the city in 6 DR. They made their way across the Inner Sea and founded the city of Suzail more than 800 miles to the west. In 27 DR Suzail consolidated the surrounding lands to become the kingdom of Cormyr.

However, the threat from Vastar gradually receded, especially after a brutal defeat to the armies of Cormanthyr and its allied Dalelands in 339 DR. For more than a century afterwards, the orcs were quiet and some believed defeated for good, but in 512 they returned in force to invade Cormanthyr to the west and Impiltur to the east. King Sharaun Mirandor and his three heirs were slain in battle, but Duke Harandil Durlaven rallied the nation’s forces and defeated the orcs at the Battle of Bloody Reeds, securing the western border with Vastar. The orcs never returned and Vastar was finally destroyed by the dwarves in 610.

Impiltur enjoyed a further century of peace, but in 726 north-eastern Impiltur was abruptly invaded by the Scaled Horde, an army of demons, out of the Rawlinswood and Forest of Lethyr, beginning the period known as the Fiend Wars. King Forvar II was slain in the battle and chaos gripped the nation. Sarshel Elethlim, a great paladin, declared a crusade against the demons, winning the support of the churches of Tyr, Torm and Ilmater, and assembled a larger army. In 729 the army landed by sea and engaged the horde in battle. In 731 the Triad Crusade defeated the Scaled Horde’s last lord, the balor Ndulu, at the Citadel of Conjurers, ending the threat. A year later, Sarshel was declared King of Impiltur by popular acclaim. Ndulu returned to the Prime Material Plane in 786 to take his revenge, but was defeated by Crown Princes Essys, Araln and Nord in battle (though at the cost of the first two’s lives). Nord became king in 788 and led a campaign to root out and destroy all demons, cultists and other evil-doers in the kingdom who might bring about a return of the Scaled Horde. In 850 King Beldred led a scouring of the Rawlinswood to eliminate more remnants of the Horde.

In 893 Narfell invaded Impiltur under the chieftain Galush. However, Impiltur gained early intelligence of the invasion and ambushed the army on the banks of the Soleine. The Battle of Twelvepikes saw Duke Lantigar Deepstar prove victorious and drive the Nars back from the border.

In 924 King Peverel and his two heirs were all killed in a plague. His surviving daughter, Princess Aliia, was deemed too young to rule. The lords of Impiltur spent two years in fierce debate over selecting a new king, and in 926 hit on the idea of betrothing the princess to Prince Rhiigard of Cormyr. The marriage was deemed acceptable due to Cormyr’s origins as a colony of Impiltur (or, at least, that was how the Impilturans saw it) and it would improve trade and military ties with the powerful western kingdom. However, the princess was killed in a shipwreck whilst on her way to Suzail. ending hopes in that direction. Impiltur instead fractured into several independent city-states and townships.

By 1038, the retreat of the Great Glacier had left the lands of Narfell, Damara and Vaasa fully free of ice and large-scale settlement of those lands began. It also opened up new routes of attack from Narfell and the northern regions into the areas surrounding the Inner Sea. This was exemplified in 1095 when a large horde of hobgoblins arose in the Giantspire Mountains and moved south into Impiltur. War Captain Imphras Heltharn of Lyrabar unified the city-states into a single cohesive army and defeated the hobgoblins in several pitched battles. In 1097 Imphras was declared King of Impiltur, ending the period known as the Kingless Years after three centuries.

In 1110, the fell land of Thay invaded the neighbouring kingdom of Thesk. Thesk begged for aid from the surrounding nations and, surprisingly, Impiltur agreed. King Imphras the Great led a sizeable army and defeated the Red Wizards in battle outside Phent. This victory against a formidable foe did much to solidify Impiltur’s renewed reputation and led to a close trade alliance between Impiltur and Thesk, to both nations’ mutual gain.

In 1127, the hobgoblin menace in the Giantspire Mountains became pressing once more. King Imphras led an army into the mountains, but never returned. His forces were destroyed and the succubus Soneillon corrupted the king into an evil death knight. Imphras’s sister Ilmara was crowned queen in his stead.

Ilmara ruled Impiltur as its first queen for forty years, retaining her youth, vigour and power with magical aid. However, her noble advisors were bereft with worry at the lack of an heir. Ilmara agreed to finally marry in 1167, when she took the young Rilaun of Sarshel as her husband. Their son Imphras II was born in 1169 and Ilmara immediately named him heir, but Rilaun became furious, as he believed he should become king in accordance with old customs. Rilaun’s claim was rejected and his attempt to seize the throne defeated. Ilmara continued as regent until Imphras II took the throne in 1185.

Imphras II’s reign started with great promise, but within twenty years it became clear that the king was losing his wits. His eldest son and heir, Talryn, attempted to depose his father for the good of the realm, but his younger brother Lashilmbrar framed him as a usurper and Talryn was driven into exile among the pirates of the Inner Sea. Due to a quirk of Impilturan law, Lashilmbrar could not claim the throne whilst Talryn lived, so Lashilmbrar declared himself regent for his sick father and led a fleet into the Inner Sea to slay his brother. He failed, but in 1212 successfully lured his brother in a trap in Lyrabar and had him executed. In 1225, when Imphras II died, Lashilmbrar became king and ruled until 1294, when he was killed in a bandit attack along with his wife and son.

In 1295, Prince Thaum of Telflamm raised a mercenary army and sailed across Easting Reach to sack Sarshel and seize Filur, the summer palace of Impiltur and de facto capital of the realm at this time. They then defeated the Impilturan army at the Battle of Five Heads. Prince Regent Kuskur and the young King Rilimbrar successfully escaped to Aglarond to seek refuge with Queen Ilione. Ilione dispatched her apprentice and heir, the Simbul, to resolve the situation, resulting in the death of Thaum in 1296. Rilimbrar was restored to the throne, defeating an attempt by nobles to have Thaum’s son Imphras IV declared king instead.

By 1336, Rilimbrar had produced no male heir so reluctantly arranged the marriage of his daughter Sambryl to Imphras IV. Rilimbrar also founded the council known as the Lords of Imphras II, a body to advise the ruler of Impiltur and take measures for the good of the realm.

In 1338, Rilimbrar and Crown Prince Imphras IV were both killed in a fire at the Summer Palace in Filur. Sambryl became Queen Regent of Impiltur, ruling in the stead of Prince Soarimbrar, a descendant of Imphras II. Soarimbrar was killed by assassins in 1351, with his infant nephew Imphras V becoming King in his stead. In 1363, Imphras V died of wasting disease and his brother Imbrar II becoming King at the age of five. As before, Sambryl remained Queen Regent.

In late 1359, the Tuigan armies of Yamun Khahan invaded Faerûn via Thay, Rashemen and Ashanath, before being forced to halt by the onset of winter. King Azoun IV of Cormyr formed an international coalition to sail to Thesk and face the Tuigan in battle. Although Impiltur did not formally commit troops, individual Impilturan nobles and mercenaries joined the cause, and King Torg mac Cei of Earthfast led an army of 2,000 dwarves to join the Crusade. Torg was slain in the Second Battle of the Golden Way in Thesk on 5 Flamerule, 1360 DR, but his troops had performed admirably in both engagements. Shortly after the war, the dwarven Clam Hammerhand of Ravens Bluff relocated to Earthfast, bolstering the defences of the dwarven kingdom.

Impiltur remains a reasonably strong nation in north-eastern Faerûn, although some political instability in the realm will remain until Prince Imbrar’s accession, due in 1374.

Government

Impiltur is ruled by a hereditary ruler, although its rough history has led to a high frequency of rule by regents. Impiltur is currently ruled by Queen Regent Sambryl, who has served in that role for over thirty years. The actual king in waiting is Imbrar II, currently thirteen years of age, who is expected to come of age and become ruler in 1374.

The ruler is advised by the Lords of Imphras II, a slightly unwieldy name which is often referred to as the Council of Lords. Made up of the highest-ranking paladins and clerics of the land, as well as senior generals, admirals and merchants, the Council ensures the succession, keeps the internal peace, and advises the monarch on matters of import. The Lords keep in contact with one another and the common folk via a network of riders known as the Heralds of Imphras II.

Impiltur is one of the few nations of Faerûn to enjoy a codified book of laws, known as the King’s Code. This code was drawn up by King Bellodar III c. 660 DR and outlines the responsibilities of both the governors and governed. It is partly based on ancient Nar practices of mutual responsibility. Impiltur has a much-feared, dedicated prison complex, Greycliffs (located on an island near Hlammach), where enemies of the crown are incarcerated.

The nobility of Impiltur is not as dominant as in other realms, but are fairly influential, especially on a local level. The most notable noble families are the Forgecrowns and Relindars, although their influence is being challenged by several “new blood” nobles, most notably the Starsunders, Wellhavens and Dintersans.

Impiltur commands a relatively strong military force, made up of local militias and guards (known as the Royal Constabulary), and a nationwide militia force known as the Warswords. The nation is well-served by holy orders as well, with the Triadic Knights and the Most Holy Order of the Sacred Shrike both commanding large numbers which can march to the aid of Impiltur if required (although the latter order is primarily concerned with destroying demonic influences in the kingdom).

Unusually, Impiltur has a system for employing mercenary and adventuring bands to investigate and defeat threats without risk to Impiltur’s own citizens. These agents are known as “Swordpoints” during the time of their service to the crown and are well-rewarded for successful missions. However, anything that embarrasses or threatens the crown is frowned upon, and can lead to swift and unpleasant sanctions.

Impiltur also has a formidable intelligence operation, the Royal Intelligence, apparently founded to conduct clandestine operations and forewarn the crown of threats both foreign and domestic.

Impiltur enjoys the presence of two wizard schools of note, the Towers of the Wind in Lyrabar and the Moonstone Manse in Hlammach. The nation also sponsors an organised military order of wizards known as the Warwands. Although not as large and formidable an organisation as the War Wizards of Cormyr, they are a valuable resource. They are commanded by the Mage Royal, Lady Selarbrin, who also advises the crown on arcane matters.

Impiltur’s foreign relations are mostly good. It has a strong mercantile relationship with Damara to the north, although relations were somewhat strained by Impiltur’s failure to decisively come to Damara’s aid during the Bloodstone Wars. However, many individual Impilturans did join the struggle for freedom, and Impiltur has played a key role in rebuilding Damara’s economy by permitting use of its ports to export bloodstone. Impiltur has a close relationship with the dwarven kingdom of Earthfast, aiding the dwarves in their wars with the orcs in return for aid in fighting their own enemies. Impiltur has excellent trade relations across the Inner Sea with Cormyr, Sembia, Aglarond and Thesk. Impiltur also has good relations with the civilised settlements of the Great Dale, but regards the forests warily, as these were the source of interplanar gates which allowed demons to invade Impiltur several times in its past. Impiltur has a hatred of demons bordering on the paranoid and fanatical, and the merest hint of a demonic threat to Impiltur can see it muster its armies, wizards and holy orders with startling speed.

Impiltur has traditionally had cool relations with both Telflamm and Thay, both of whom it has won wars against in the not-too-distant past. However, Impiltur has cultivated stronger trade relations with Telflamm in recent years, and has opened dialogue with Thay on establishing trading enclaves within its cities, to the disquiet of some citizens and some of their allies.

Religion

Impiltur embraces the full scope of the Faerûnian pantheon, but the gods of the Triad – Tyr, Torm and Ilmater – are worshipped in the kingdom with fervour. The Triad and its holy orders have worked had to help protect Impiltur from demonic and mundane threats, and in return the people of Impiltur worship them with an impressive degree of intensity. Selûne, Tymora, Valkur and Waukeen are also very popular, and Oghma has a strong following in and around the town of Songhal. The largest temples in Faerûn to Deneir, the Reading Room and the Master’s Library, can also be found in the Earthfast Mountains, not far from Impiltur’s far western border. Shaundakul, has also seen a recent rise in popularity as Impiltur’s overland trade routes with Damara reopen.

Nearby Earthfast is home to a stunning temple complex to Clangeddin Silverbeard, the Alagh Rorncaurak (the Battlecavern of Unquenched Valor), which dwarves from across Faerûn visit.

The Lords of Imphras II in 1371 DR

The Council of Lords currently consists of:

  • Lord Engarth, a Triadic Knight with responsibility for helping in the education of the young king.
  • Lord Delimbrar, a Triadic Knight and another lord with responsibilities in tutoring the king.
  • War-Captain Haelimbrar, a famed military commander who fought in the Bloodstone Wars of neighbouring Damara.
  • Lord Helimbraun, a former moderate who has become more strident in his desire to destroy all evil in the realm in recent years.
  • Lady Idriane, a knight of Ilmater and a temperate voice on the council.
  • Lord Limbrar, a respected monk of Ilmater who often provides the voice of the poor and the downtrodden.
  • Lord Oriseus, a paladin of Helm and close ally of Helimbraun.
  • Lord Rangrim, a paladin of Ilmater.
  • Lady Rilaunyr, a paladin of Sune and a moderate voice on the council.
  • Lord Rilimbraun, a cleric of Tyr and commander of the Most Holy Order of the Sacred Shrike.
  • Lord Silaunbrar, a young paladin of Torm, given responsibility for helping tutor the young king in the ways of battle and responsibility.
  • Lord Simgar, commander of the Warswords.
  • Lord Solarium, a cleric and paladin of Ilmater.

The Rulers of Impiltur

(Unless otherwise noted, all reigned until their death, ruling queens are noted*)

The Mirandor Dynasty

  1. born 106 BDR, reigned 74-47 BDR: Inrath I, The First King
  2. b. 76, r. 47-18: Inrath II
  3. b. 52, r. 18-3: Varanth I
  4. b. 26 BDR, r. 3 BDR-1 DR: Tamarth, the Tyrant
  5. b. 24 BDR, r. 1-3 DR: Loaraven, the Poxed,
  6. b. 20 BDR, r. 3-8 DR: Belrath
  7. b. 22 BDR, r. 8-43 DR: Fendarn
  8. b. 2 DR, r. 43 DR: Delrath
  9. b. 2, r. 43-47: Delrorn
  10. b. 17, r. 47-68: Torlorn
  11. b. 40, r. 68-72: Varanth II
  12. b. 19, r. 72-77: Morlorn, the Usurper
  13. b. 60, r. 77-124: Baranth I
  14. b. 87, r. 124-157: Inrath III
  15. b. 112, r. 157-159: Inrath IV, Lackcrown
  16. b. 132, r. 159-162: Doraven, the Bloody
  17. b. 114, r. 162-178: Pendarn
  18. b. 136, r. 178-196: Ellarath, the Faerie King
  19. b. 160, r. 196-198: Baranth II
  20. b. 164, r. 198: Imindarth
  21. b. 163, r. 198-269: Tharaun I, the Venerable
  22. b. 195, r. 269-271: Darthorn I
  23. b. 222, r. 271-311: Toaven
  24. b. 268, r. 311-343: Tarth, the Prince of Swords
  25. b. 305, r. 343-369: Darthorn II
  26. b. 335, r. 360-375: Darthorn III
  27. b. 338, r. 375-397: Auminath I, the Scholar
  28. b. 360, r. 397-406: Auminath II
  29. b. 368, r. 406-411: Forlath, the Bawd
  30. b. 387, r. 411-445: Meldath I, the Mighty
  31. b. 419, r. 445-448: Meldath II
  32. b. 422, r. 448-471: Tharaun II
  33. b. 454, r. 471-512: Sharaun

The Durlaven Dynasty

  • b. 469, r. 512-537: Harandil I, the Strong
  • b. 501, r. 537-562: Harandil II
  • b. 524, r. 562-588: Thorodil, the Fierce
  • b. 560, r. 588-624: Bellodar I, the Conqueror
  • b. 583, r. 624-642: Bellodar II
  • b. 609, r. 642-673: Bellodar III, the Sage King
  • b. 630, r. 673-675: Morus, the Crazed
  • b. 633, r. 675-685: Amarkos I
  • b. 655, r. 685-697: Forvar I
  • b. 660, r. 697-718: Amarkos II, Dragonslayer
  • b. 699, r. 718-726: Forvar II

Tarrik Dynasty, the Demon Dynasty

  • b. 688, r. 726-279: Agrosh, the Scaled

Elethlim Dynasty, the Paladin Dynasty

  • b. 656, r. 732-734: Sarshel, the True
  • b. 711, r. 734-765: Halanter I
  • b. 739, r. 765-788: Erynd I, the Penitent
  • b. 764, r. 788-811: Nord, Demonbane
  • b. 787, r. 811-844: Halanter II
  • b. 816, r. 844-863: Beldred I, Fiendslayer
  • b. 845, r. 863-886: Beldred II
  • b. 875, r. 886-887: Erynd II
  • b. 849, regent 886-887, 891-907, r. 887-891: Shaneesa*, the Old Dowager, regent for Erynd II and Peverel, ruled in her own right in 887-891
  • b. 891, r. 891-924: Peverel, came of age and ruled in his own right in 907, died along with all his heirs in 924, marking the beginning of the Kingless Years

Heltharn Dynasty

  • b. 1063, r. 1094-1122: Imphras I, the Great
  • b. 1098, r. 1122-1127: Imbrar, the Lost
  • b. 1104, r. 1127-1169, regent 1169-1185: Ilmara*
  • b. 1169, r. 1169-1225: Imphras II
  • b. 1190, r. 1225-1294 (effective regent c. 1206-1225): Lashilmbrar, the Sly
  • b. 1198, regent 1294-1296: Kuskur, regent for Crown Prince Rilimbrar
  • b. 1280, r. 1294-1338: Rilimbrar
  • b. 1299, regent 1338-present: Sambryl*, the Queen Regent
  • b. 1335, r. 1335-1351: Soarimbrar, the Younger
  • b. 1530, r. 1351-1363: Imphras V
  • b. 1358, r. 1363-present: Imbrar II, due to come of age and rule in 1374

(Unless otherwise noted, all reigned until their death, ruling queens are noted*)

The Mirandor Dynasty

  1. born 106 BDR, reigned 74-47 BDR: Inrath I, The First King
  2. b. 76, r. 47-18: Inrath II
  3. b. 52, r. 18-3: Varanth I
  4. b. 26 BDR, r. 3 BDR-1 DR: Tamarth, the Tyrant
  5. b. 24 BDR, r. 1-3 DR: Loaraven, the Poxed,
  6. b. 20 BDR, r. 3-8 DR: Belrath
  7. b. 22 BDR, r. 8-43 DR: Fendarn
  8. b. 2 DR, r. 43 DR: Delrath
  9. b. 2, r. 43-47: Delrorn
  10. b. 17, r. 47-68: Torlorn
  11. b. 40, r. 68-72: Varanth II
  12. b. 19, r. 72-77: Morlorn, the Usurper
  13. b. 60, r. 77-124: Baranth I
  14. b. 87, r. 124-157: Inrath III
  15. b. 112, r. 157-159: Inrath IV, Lackcrown
  16. b. 132, r. 159-162: Doraven, the Bloody
  17. b. 114, r. 162-178: Pendarn
  18. b. 136, r. 178-196: Ellarath, the Faerie King
  19. b. 160, r. 196-198: Baranth II
  20. b. 164, r. 198: Imindarth
  21. b. 163, r. 198-269: Tharaun I, the Venerable
  22. b. 195, r. 269-271: Darthorn I
  23. b. 222, r. 271-311: Toaven
  24. b. 268, r. 311-343: Tarth, the Prince of Swords
  25. b. 305, r. 343-369: Darthorn II
  26. b. 335, r. 360-375: Darthorn III
  27. b. 338, r. 375-397: Auminath I, the Scholar
  28. b. 360, r. 397-406: Auminath II
  29. b. 368, r. 406-411: Forlath, the Bawd
  30. b. 387, r. 411-445: Meldath I, the Mighty
  31. b. 419, r. 445-448: Meldath II
  32. b. 422, r. 448-471: Tharaun II
  33. b. 454, r. 471-512: Sharaun

The Durlaven Dynasty

  • b. 469, r. 512-537: Harandil I, the Strong
  • b. 501, r. 537-562: Harandil II
  • b. 524, r. 562-588: Thorodil, the Fierce
  • b. 560, r. 588-624: Bellodar I, the Conqueror
  • b. 583, r. 624-642: Bellodar II
  • b. 609, r. 642-673: Bellodar III, the Sage King
  • b. 630, r. 673-675: Morus, the Crazed
  • b. 633, r. 675-685: Amarkos I
  • b. 655, r. 685-697: Forvar I
  • b. 660, r. 697-718: Amarkos II, Dragonslayer
  • b. 699, r. 718-726: Forvar II

Tarrik Dynasty, the Demon Dynasty

  • b. 688, r. 726-279: Agrosh, the Scaled

Elethlim Dynasty, the Paladin Dynasty

  • b. 656, r. 732-734: Sarshel, the True
  • b. 711, r. 734-765: Halanter I
  • b. 739, r. 765-788: Erynd I, the Penitent
  • b. 764, r. 788-811: Nord, Demonbane
  • b. 787, r. 811-844: Halanter II
  • b. 816, r. 844-863: Beldred I, Fiendslayer
  • b. 845, r. 863-886: Beldred II
  • b. 875, r. 886-887: Erynd II
  • b. 849, regent 886-887, 891-907, r. 887-891: Shaneesa*, the Old Dowager, regent for Erynd II and Peverel, ruled in her own right in 887-891
  • b. 891, r. 891-924: Peverel, came of age and ruled in his own right in 907, died along with all his heirs in 924, marking the beginning of the Kingless Years

Heltharn Dynasty

  • b. 1063, r. 1094-1122: Imphras I, the Great
  • b. 1098, r. 1122-1127: Imbrar, the Lost
  • b. 1104, r. 1127-1169, regent 1169-1185: Ilmara*
  • b. 1169, r. 1169-1225: Imphras II
  • b. 1190, r. 1225-1294 (effective regent c. 1206-1225): Lashilmbrar, the Sly
  • b. 1198, regent 1294-1296: Kuskur, regent for Crown Prince Rilimbrar
  • b. 1280, r. 1294-1338: Rilimbrar
  • b. 1299, regent 1338-present: Sambryl*, the Queen Regent
  • b. 1335, r. 1335-1351: Soarimbrar, the Younger
  • b. 1530, r. 1351-1363: Imphras V
  • b. 1358, r. 1363-present: Imbrar II, due to come of age and rule in 1374

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Nations of the Forgotten Realms 15: Hartsvale

In this series I will be looking at each of the individual nations of Faerûn in turn, in alphabetical order. This series is based around the status of each nation as of 1371-72 Dalereckoning (at the end of D&D 2nd Edition and the start of 3rd Edition). The maps are drawn from The Forgotten Realms Interactive Atlas CD-ROM and their respective 1st and 2nd Edition sources. They are not necessarily current for the 5th Edition of the setting (which is set c. 1496 DR).

A map of the kingdom of Hartsvale. Please click for a larger version.
  • Ruler: Queen Brianna Burdun
  • Capital: Hartwick
  • Settlements: Cuthbert Castle, Stagwick, Wendel Manor, Windward Town, Wynn Castle,
  • Population: Unknown but estimated at 96% human, 2% firbolg, 1% giant (more in the surrounding mountains), 1% misc.
  • Area: 57,696 miles² (149,431.95 km²)
  • Military:
  • Languages: Common, Bothii (Illuskan dialect)
  • Religion: Iallanis,
  • Sources: The Twilight Giants trilogy (Troy Denning, 1994-95), Giantcraft (Ray Winninger, 1995), Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide (Steven Kenson et al, 2015)

Overview

Hartsvale is the one of the most remote and little-known nations in Faerûn. The kingdom is located north and east of the Ice Mountains, also known as the Ice Spires, and is squeezed hard between the mountains on two sides, the Endless Ice Sea to the north, and the northernmost reaches of the Great Desert of Anauroch to the east (and the towering mass of the High Ice beyond).

The kingdom is primarily based around the valley of the Clearwhirl River, which flows out the mountains and Lake Woe and winds its way north and west, passing through the Storming Gorge before disappearing into the frozen wastes of the uttermost north. The lower reaches of the river freeze over in the winter – which in this part of the world lasts at least a third of the year and sometimes closer to half – but the upper reaches are warmed by the volcanic Firecap Mountains.

The kingdom itself is ruled from Castle Hartwick, which sits on a large island in the midst of the Clearwhirl River. The town of Hartwick lies just to the east and the small village of Stagwick just to its east. The road known as Coggin’s Rise then winds its way up into the mountains.

Hartsvale is divided between several administrative regions. The High Duchies lie to the west of Hartwick and consist of the foothills of the Ice Spires West. The Cold Marches lie to the north of Hartwick and lie in the shadow of the Ice Spires North. Cuthbert Fief controls the Ice Spires North, where the peaks are broken up by a series of valleys, icefields, rivers and lakes. The Baronies of Wind control the relatively open fields east of Hartwick, where the bulk of the nation’s farming is done. The Lake Fiefs control the lands to the south, in the northern foothills of the Ice Spires South and Firecap Mountains, and along the Clearwhirl’s lake tributaries.

These names are perhaps over-grand: many of the nobles of Hartsvale are freeholders, successful farmers and warriors who perhaps command a small tower and a few servants. Hartwick, the largest settlement, is a small town or large village by the standards of most in Faerûn, and most other settlements rarely rise the size of a hamlet.

Hartsvale is also notable for the giant tribes that inhabit the immediately surrounding areas: frost giants dwell on the Bleak Plain to the north; stone giants on the Frozen Moors and the northern parts of the Great Desert to the east; fire giants in the Firecap Mountains to the south; and hill giants hold the Ice Spires to the west. The giants and humans have an uneasy relationship at the best of times. Firbolgs move between the various communities, sometimes engaging in trade and maintaining an uneasy peace. Menhirs delineate the boundaries of the human and giant lands.

History

For such a small and remote kingdom, Hartsvale’s history is surprisingly ancient. It harks back to the great giant kingdom of Ostoria, founded in tradition by Annam All-Father between 30,000 and 31,000 BDR (Before Dalereckoning), long before even the first elven empires arose. Ostoria rose to greatness in the aftermath of the Tearfall, the calamity which saw falling stars strike the world and shatter much of it, forming the Sea of Fallen Stars and ending batrachi civilisation, although also marking the rise to greatness of the dragons.

Ostoria originally dominated much of the north of Merrouroboros, the great supercontinent of which Faerûn was once just a single part. It stretched from the far west coast to the Great Ice Sea and as far south as the newly-formed Inner Sea. Its capital was Voninheim, located on what is now called the Bleak Plain of northern Hartsvale, on the edge of the Endless Ice Sea. Lanaxis, the eldest son of Annam All-Father, inherited control of the empire

Ostoria’s prosperity lasted for almost four thousand years. The civilisation peaked around 28,000 BDR, by which time great cities and works of art had been created, such as the legendary cloud cities of the giants. In 26,000 BDR the draconic god Garyx inspired his worshippers to attack a cloud giant city, in search of great treasures. Furious, Ostoria responded by going to war.

This proved to be a mistake, and by 25,000 BDR Ostoria had been much-reduced in size, losing all its lands around the Inner Sea and falling back into the far north. However, the war had been calamitous for dragonkind as well, whose numbers had been devastated. Exactly how the war ended is disputed. One myth suggests that Annam and Garyx played a game of wah-ree to determine which species would prevail, but the game ended in a draw, resulting in peace. Some suggest that the dragons had been consumed by their own civil war (which would lead to the splintering of the chromatic and metallic kindreds), and others that the war just petered out as both species found themselves competing with the newly-arrived elves and dwarves.

 After the end of the war, the giantkin gradually dwindled and Ostoria fell back. It lost territory in the First Sundering of 17,600 BDR, when the modern continents formed, eventually becoming a series of semi-isolated kingdoms and statelets stretching across the north of Faerûn.

Particularly notable during this period was the ill-advised affair between the demigod Ulutiu and Othea, wife of Annam All-Father. The affair was discovered around 2550 BDR and Ulutiu was either killed or agreed to voluntarily depart Toril. His body was placed on a barge that was sailed into the midst of the Cold Ocean (an inland sea in north-eastern Faerûn) and sank. Ulutiu’s body and his magical amulet together froze the ocean, creating the Great Glacier of Pelvuria and, according to some, also the Endless Ice Sea, resulting in Toril’s abnormally huge northern polar ice cap. Much of Ostoria was swallowed up by the ice and destroyed. The surviving giants fell into a state of primitivism. Ostoria’s final fall is traced to the abandonment of Voninheim in 2475 BDR. Lanaxis disappeared around this time.

According to local myth, only a few weeks after the destruction of Voninheim, the Hartkiller was born, the youngest and last child of Annam and Othea. Hartkiller strove to unite the giants under his rule but he was rejected, due to his small size (he was only twelve feet tall). Annoyed, he instead strove to bring leadership to the scattered tribes of primitive humans living in the mountains and the nearby areas (although not in the huge and powerful empire of Netheril, located not far to the south-east). Having united them, he led them in battle against the giants. Hartkiller and the Lord Paramount of the storm giants were both killed in an epic duel to the death, leading to the proclamation of a peace between both sides, with carefully delineated borders. Hartkiller’s son, Brun, was proclaimed the first King of Hartsvale.

The giants were visited by a vision telling them that in rejecting Hartkiller, they had also rejected the will of Annam. Annam All-Father would abandon them and not return until they had made up for their hubris.

How much of this is myth and how much is history is unclear; a literal reading of the story would suggest the destruction of Ostoria in 2475 BDR and the founding of Hartsvale was only decades apart at best, but other, more reliable histories and traditions place the founding of Hartsvale at no more than a thousand years in the past (c. 370 DR). Some have suggested that the valley of Hartsvale, warmed by the presence of the volcanoes known as the Three Sisters, has made the area a natural site for settlement and perhaps several predecessor kingdoms existed in the same area for thousands of years earlier, to which Hartsvale is but a modern successor. The truth is unclear.

Much more recently, Hartsvale was thrown into disorder c. 1346 DR when King Blod died. His twin sons, Camden and Dunstan, disputed the throne and began a bloody civil war. In the third year of the war, Camden made an alliance with an Ice Spire ogre tribe led by the shaman Goboka. Camden pledged to give his firstborn daughter to the ogres in return for their alliance. Camden was childless and girls were rare in his family, making him think the deal would be moot. With Goboka’s help, Camden took the throne.

However, Camden and his wife soon produced a daughter, Brianna, born c. 1350 DR. Despite their best efforts, no further children and no son followed. Camden, infuriated, divorced his wife and took other wives, but no sons followed. Camden’s actions alienated much of his support, leading to a rebellious kingdom.

In 1366 DR, Brianna came of age and Goboka came to collect on his deal. Camden reluctantly complied and Brianna was sent to the ogres. The “gift” was disguised as a kidnapping to spare what was left of Camden’s honour. However, a local warrior, Tavis Burden, and his companions interrupted the kidnapping and freed Brianna. Learning of her father’s actions, Brianna deposed her father and took the throne, leaving Camden as a penniless exile. This breaking of the pact resulted in a series of assaults on Hartsvale by the giants and a bitter war lasting three years. By the end of the conflict, in 1369, Brianna had wed Tavis Burden, given birth to a son and heir, Kaedlaw, and defeated the Twilight Spirit of the vale, the spiritual form of Lanaxis who planned to re-forge the empire of Ostoria through blood and violence. re-secured peace with the giant tribes.

Government

Hartsvale is a hereditary monarchy, currently ruled by Queen Brianna Burdun and her husband, the Prince-Consort Tavis Burdun. All of the rulers of Hartsvale have descended from House Hartwick, which (according to tradition) was founded by the Hartkiller himself, and rule from the Alabaster Throne in Castle Hartwick. Brianna and Tavis have a son, Kaedlaw, who is now the heir.

Brianna is human and her husband is firbolg, whilst her son has human, firbolg and ettin blood. This symbolises the complex interrelationships between humans and giantkin in Hartsvale, although it is also the source of some discontent.

As Queen of Hartsvale, Brianna commands the loyalty of the High Dukes, the Wind Barons and the lords of the Cold Marches, Lake Fiefs and Ice Spires, and listens to their counsel and advice, although there is no formal body for running the kingdom. Bad weather and harsh winters often cut parts of the kingdom off from one another for weeks or even months at a time, resulting in a kingdom which is halfway between a loose confederation and a more tight-knit nation. As a result, each of the regions has a degree of autonomy under its ruling earl.

Hartsvale has no standing army as such, but in times of war it can muster a reasonable force.

In terms of its economy, there is limited trade and contact between the people of Hartsvale and the giants. Trade routes across the Ice Spires and Ice Mountains are also rough and sometimes impassable, but in recent years there have been some attempts to forge closer relations with the lands to the south, particularly the recently-founded nation of Luruar.  The Hartsvalers are wary of outsiders but also open to the idea of enriching themselves through greater trade. Hartsvale’s internal economy is based around hunting, trapping, herding and mining. The largest mine is the in the Gorge of the Silver Wyrm, located under the Ice Spires South and the source of House Wynn’s wealth.

Religion

The traditional pantheon of Faerûn is only sporadically worshipped in Hartsvale. Instead, most of the giants and giantkin instead revere the giant pantheon. Annam All-Father is respected but his forsaking of the giants is well-known, so instead Iallanis, the giant goddess of peace and mercy, is probably the most respected god amongst all the giants, as well as the firbolgs and even some of the humans of the vale. Baphomet, an evil tanar’ri pit lord, has made some inroads amongst the ogres in trying to increase his own powers to that of a god.

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Nations of the Forgotten Realms 14: Halruaa

In this series I will be looking at each of the individual nations of Faerûn in turn, in alphabetical order. This series is based around the status of each nation as of 1371-72 Dalereckoning (at the end of D&D 2nd Edition and the start of 3rd Edition). The maps are drawn from The Forgotten Realms Interactive Atlas CD-ROM and their respective 1st and 2nd Edition sources. They are not necessarily current for the 5th Edition of the setting (which is set c. 1496 DR).

A map of Halruaa. Please click for a larger version.
  • Ruler: Netyarch Zalathorm Kirkson
  • Capital: Halarahh (pop. 8000)
  • Settlements: Achelar, Alathil, Alu, Aluarim, Assundath, Bathmé, Borah, Edouura, Elchul, Eru, Galdel, Githim, Halabar, Halagard (7500), Halazé, Hamphal, Khaerbaal (7000), Kithyym, Lath, Letharr, Lhaddas, Lhair, Maerass, Maeruhal, Maerzalar, Maezoun, Mairb, Martass, Mithel, Mithtar, Nishtul, Nuulatha, Orbedal, Rulasuu, Rwamphaler, Salhantar, Ssorsil, Sulaziir, Talathgard (200), Thilzoun, Thom, Yaulazna (400), Zalazuu (5000), Zhal, Zoundar, Zzuntal
  • Population: 1,676,160 (90% human, 5% dwarf, 2% halfling, 1% elf, 1% half-elf, 1% misc.)
  • Population Density: 2.65 people per mile², 1.02 people per km²
  • Area: 631,615 miles² (1,635,875.34 km²)
  • Military: Magical defences, small standing militia and fleet, skyships
  • Languages: Common, Halruaan, Dambrathan (border regions only)
  • Religion: Azuth, Mystra, Savras, Shar, Velsharoon
  • Exports: Electrum, gold, Haerlu wine
  • Imports: Exotic magic items, jewellery, precious metals, musical instruments, silk
  • Sources: The Shining South (Tom Prusa, 1993), Shining South (Todd Gamble, 2004)

Overview

Halruaa is the southernmost mainland nation of Faerûn, located on the Great Sea west of Dambrath, east of the Mhair Jungle and south of the Bandit Wastes. It is the famed Land of Magic, where (it is said) the meanest commoner knows a cantrip or two and whose most powerful mages command sorcery that could reshape the continent if they wished. Unlike Thay, Halruaa is a lawful-aligned nation where magic is used in the service of good. However, the Halruaans are often wary of outsiders and guard their nation carefully from those who would do it harm or try to steal their secrets.

Halruaa has the most formidable natural borders on the continent, with three mountain ranges intersecting in a way that almost completely walls off the nation from its surroundings. These mountain ranges are known as the Lhairghal (the West Wall) in the west, the Nathaghal (the North Wall) in the north and the Muaraghal (the East Wall) in the east. The mountains reach almost 20,000 feet in height. The mountains have the pleasing side-effect of acting as a windtrap, keeping the interior of Halruaa notably cooler and breezier than neighbouring lands.

There are few passes through the mountains. The best-known one is the Talath Pass between the Lhairghal and Nathaghal in the north-west, which acts as the main entrance to Halruaa for traffic; an isolated pass leading from the High Alaur towards the Bandit Wastes; the Nath Pass between the Nathaghal and the Muaraghal in the east; and the Azhal Pass in the south-east, leading from Halruaa to the Great Swamp of Rethild on the western border of Dambrath. All the passes are kept under both magical and mundane observation to protect Halruaa’s security.

The bulk of Halruaa lies on a large plain extending between the mountains and down to the sea, well-watered by several major rivers: the Aluar, the Halar, the Ghalagar and the Maeru. The Swamp of Akhlaur lies in the south-west along the Ghalagar River, whilst the Kilmaruu Swamp lies in the south-east. The Swamp of Akhlaur is not natural, instead being formed as the result of a battle between the archmage Akhlaur and a laraken some two centuries ago. Following Akhlaur’s disappearance and presumed death, a permanent portal was opened to the Elemental Plane of Water, resulting in a torrent of water gushing forth and flooding the surrounding lands. Attempts to close the portal have so far failed, to the quiet alarm of some on the Council of Elders. Attempts continue.

Halruaa is quite fertile, especially the rolling countryside north of Lake Halruaa and extending to the Nathaghal, which is covered in thousands of small farmsteads and smallholdings. In the north-east, in the high-lying valley known as the Nath, herds of aurochs and wild rothe are bred for food. Vineyards dot the landscape, producing various vintages including the famed Haerlu, which is much in demand across the whole continent.

Taken purely by area (including the massive mountain ranges), Halruaa is the largest nation in Faerûn, but it is relatively sparsely populated. The most surprising thing to visitors is how small the cities are. The capital, Halarahh, is home to barely 8,000 people and the second and third cities, Halagard and Khaerbaal, are only slightly smaller. Towns in Halruaa barely scrape a thousand people, and villages may be smaller than hamlets in some other lands. The small size of the settlements is made up for by their beauty and their unique natures: most Halruaan cities and towns are constructed partially or mostly through magic, resulting in floating mansions, inverted clocktowers, taverns whose interiors are larger than their exteriors (with a back door leading to a completely different plane) and shops only accessible to those who can fly or teleport. They also make up for their small size with their sheer quantity: Halruaa’s central plain and south coast are dotted with hundreds of villages and thousands of homesteads and hamlets.

Several notable islands lie off Halruaa’s south coast. Rulasuu is claimed by Halruaa and home to part of its fleet. The Shipgrave Islands are mostly uninhabited and notable with the wrecked ships around their shores, most of them undisturbed. The reason for this is clear: the sea elven kingdom of Mlossae surrounds the islands and the sea elves are responsible for most of the wrecks and also keeping interlopers away. Halruaa has no formal contact with the sea elves, but finds their presence useful in dissuading unwanted visitors away from the coast. Other nearby islands include the Stormtails, the Red Giant and Ward’s Islands, none of which are claimed by Halruaa.

Particularly notable is Yaulazna, the name given to a south-eastern bay on Halruaa’s coast (also called the Bay of Pirates), a large island in that bay and a settlement on that island. Yaulazna is a pirate base whose existence in Haluraan waters is tolerated through a very simple arrangement: the pirates direct their depredations towards nearby Dambrath and do not even think of touching Halruaan shipping. The pirates consist primarily of lizardfolk from the Rethild Swamp and various allied humans.

History

In the most ancient times, Halruaa’s territory lay close to that of the jungle elven nation of Ilythiir. Whether Halruaa was colonised or settled by Ilythiir remains unknown; the lack of ancient elven ruins suggests not.

For many millennia, the area was left mostly uninhabited, whilst the yuan-ti of the neighbouring Mhair Jungles expanded their own power across the Chultan Peninsula to the west, enslaving the then-primitive human tribes of the jungles. In 2809 BDR (Before Dalereckoning), the Eshowe, Tabaxi and Thinguth tribes arrived from the continent of Katashaka far to the south-east. These tribes were unintimidated by the yuan-ti and in several wars threw back their influence from Chult to the Black and Mhair jungles. The yuan-ti’s slaves took advantage of the situation to escape. After a huge rebellion in 1732 BDR, they fled north and east along the Chultan Peninsula into the Shaar, but also south into what is now Halruaa. These tribes became known as the Lapal. They settled the Halruaa basin.

Some fourteen centuries later, in 339 BDR, the great northern empire of Netheril was destroyed. Although many Netherese were killed, many more survived, fleeing to all corners of Faerûn in an attempt to escape the spreading desert and also the evil of the phaerimm. One group of Netherese led by the arcanist Raumark fled all the way to the Halruaa basin, more than 2,000 miles to the south, and sought refuge there. The Netherese refugees, mindful of the arrogance and hubris of their forebears, peacefully allied with the native Lapal tribes and Arkaiun settlers from neighbouring Dambrath and established a new nation built around magic, but, unlike Netheril, rejected the notions of slavery and imperialism.

Early Halruaa suffered several schisms. In 125 BDR the archmage Hetel Hastalhorn attempted to secure backing to ransack the Mhair Jungles for hidden treasure. After meeting lukewarm enthusiasm from his fellows, he struck out on his own, founding the settlement of Mhairhetel as a base for his investigations. Although Hastalhorn vanished a year later, his settlement proved viable and became a free port on the coast, still extant today. In 147 DR, there was a schism between worshippers of Mystra and Azuth, leading to the founding of the House of the High One Ascendant in the mountains overlooking Lhair. Finally, in 173 DR, a large number of followers of Leira, annoyed with the dominance of Azuth and Mystra-worshippers over the Council of Elders, departed Halruaa for the island of Nimbral to the south-west, establishing a mighty kingdom there.

Halruaa was slow to build up its magical might. In 553 DR, King Reinhar I of Dambrath invaded Halruaa and occupied the south-eastern part of the country. He was finally defeated by the archmage Mycontil in 585 DR. Over the next few centuries, the magical arts were advanced significantly in Halruaa. When the King of Lapaliiya launched an invasion of Halruaa in 1260, allied with bandits from the wastes just to the north. The invasion was easily defeated by Halruaa’s magic and skyships.

In 827, the Halruaan wizard Omm Hlandrar engaged the Red Wizard Velsharoon in a mighty spell battle in the skies over the Shaar. Due to the formidable power of both archmages, the contest ended in a draw.

In 1263, the capital was moved from the port of Halagard to the new city of Halarahh on Lake Halruaa. The new city is larger, more impressive and more secure, being located more towards the centre of the nation rather than on the very edge.

According to Halruaan tradition, a group of wizards rebelled against the rulers of Halruaa circa 800 DR after trying to seize control of the nation and were defeated and exiled. They made their way to the Delhumide province of the Mulhorandi Empire and formed the sect known as the Red Wizards, eventually leading to their conquest of Delhumide and the founding of the nation of Thay in 922 DR. However, a Halruaan connection to Thay has notably gone unmentioned in any other sources (aside from Omm Hlandrar and Velsharoon’s enmity), and the story may be apocryphal, although there is certainly little love lost between Halruaa and Thay, who hold diametrically opposed views on the use and morality of magic. The 2,000 miles between the two nations has, fortunately for the rest of the Realms, precluded open conflict between them.

Government

Halruaa is ruled by the Council of Elders, which is made-up of senior mages and wizards from all over the nation. Thanks to magic, almost every council member can attend a meeting within minutes despite their location. Only arcane spellcasters are permitted on the council, after proving their mettle in displays of spellcraft. There are more than 400 wizards on the Council and the overwhelming majority view their membership of the Council as a formality and honour that can otherwise be ignored in favour of magical research or travelling elsewhere on Toril, or in the planes. Council meetings only require 39 mages to be present to be held, less than 10% of the total number.

The Council of Elders is led by the Netyarch, which roughly translates as “Wizard-King,” although the role is perhaps more analogous to that of a chairperson rather than an absolute ruler. The Netyarch chairs meets of the Council, but in times of emergency can make decisions for the good of the nation alone. As mages live a long time due to their magic, Netyarchs may spend several centuries in their position before dying. When this happens, a new Netyarch is voted on by the Council, with usually the most experienced mage in the country elected to the role. The current Netyarch is Zalathorm Kirkson, one of the most powerful archmages on all Toril, a peer of the likes of Khelben Arunsun, Elminster and the Simbul of Aglarond. He has served in the role since 1262.

The Council meets in the Ilysium, a vast pink marble building in Halarahh that also serves as the centre of Halruaa’s civil service and bureaucracy.

Two notable orders are responsible for the smooth operation of the nation. The Jordain Viziers are taught immense amounts of arcane lore but are not permitted to use magic themselves, and indeed those with no ability with magic at all (rare in Halruaa) are encouraged to take up this role. This gives the mages advisors with no way of challenging them but who can serve them faithfully.

More formidable are the secretive Magehounds. These are specially-trained individuals with one responsibility only: to eliminate Halruaan mages who go rogue. Utterly loyal to Halruaa, they answer only to the Netyarch and the Council of Elders, but even council members and Netyarchs are not immune to their investigations. Magehounds are very rarely seen in public and their identities are not widely known.

Halruaa’s military forces are small but elite and formidable, and can usually, easily be backed up by large numbers of wizards in a matter of moments. Talathgard, on the northern border, is Halruaa’s most significant fortress and guards the main entrance to the nation. Halruaa maintains a powerful naval fleet and, its fleet of skyships and spelljammers is the most formidable in the known Realms bar only that of Evermeet.

Halruaa is secretive and self-supporting, but does engage in trade across the Bandit Wastes with Lapaliiya and points further north, and limited trade with Dambrath to the east. Both Dambrath and Lapaliiya have invaded Halruaa in the past and Halruaa treats both with suspicion, despite its now formidable sorcerous might rendering both threats remote. Halruaa also engages in magical trade and limited seaborne trade along the Great Sea.

In terms of diplomacy, Halruaa regards both its neighbours with suspicion, but enjoys friendlier relations with the island kingdom of Nimbral to the south-west, which was founded by Halruaan colonists, and with the halfling land of Luiren further east, with which Halruaa engages in trade for its foodstuffs. Halruaa’s remoteness from the rest of Faerûn leaves it uninterested in the goings on of most other nations, but it observes the activities of Thay from afar with wary concern.

Religion

As a nation of spellcasters and mages, Halruaa is unsurprisingly dedicated to the worship of Mystra, the Goddess of Magic. Worship of Azuth, Mystra’s subordinate, is also extremely popular and their worship drowns out almost all others in the nation. Very small numbers of worshippers of Savras, God of Diviners, exist. Shar and Velsharoon also have followers among Halruaa’s more unsavoury wizards, though they keep their religion to themselves. The most impressive house of worship in Halruaa is the High Temple of Mystra, built around the peak of Mouth Talath and extending inside and below the mountain as well. The centre of Azuth’s faith is the House of the High One Ascendant, located in the mountains of the East Wall, near Lhair.

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Nations of the Forgotten Reams 13: The Island Kingdoms of the Northern Trackless Sea

In this series I will be looking at each of the individual nations of Faerûn in turn, in alphabetical order. This series is based around the status of each nation as of 1371-72 Dalereckoning (at the end of D&D 2nd Edition and the start of 3rd Edition). The maps are drawn from The Forgotten Realms Interactive Atlas CD-ROM and their respective 1st and 2nd Edition sources. They are not necessarily current for the 5th Edition of the setting (which is set c. 1496 DR).

The island kingdoms of the northern Trackless Sea: Gundarlun, Ruathym, Trisk (the Purple Rocks) and Tuern. Pleace click for a larger version.

Gundarlun

  • Ruler: King Olgar Redaxe
  • Capital: Gundbarg (pop. 12,000)
  • Population:  Unknown
  • Area: 1829 miles² (4737.088 km)
  • Military: A standing army of 300 warriors, a navy of ~30 longships
  • Languages: Common, Illuskan
  • Religion: Tempus, Umberlee
  • Sources: The Savage Frontier (Jennell Jaquays, 1988), The North (slade, et all, 1996)

Ruathym

  • Ruler: King Aumark Lithyl
  • Capital: Ruathym (pop. 5000)
  • Settlements: Hastor, Holgerstead, Rethgaard
  • Population: Unknown
  • Area: 9039 miles² (23,410.9 km)
  • Military: Four tribes of warriors and occasional shamans and magic-users
  • Languages: Common, Ruathen (Illuskan dialect)
  • Religion: Tempus, Umberlee
  • Sources: The Savage Frontier (Jennell Jaquays, 1988), The North (slade, et all, 1996)

Trisk (Kingdom of the Purple Rocks)

  • Ruler: King Selger
  • Capital: Ulf of Thuger
  • Settlements: Vilkstead
  • Population: Unknown
  • Area: 397.5 miles² (1029.5 km²)
  • Languages: Common, Illuskan
  • Religion: Auril, Tempus, Umberlee
  • Exports: Fish, Vilksmaarg (herbal goat cheese)
  • Imports:
  • Sources: The Savage Frontier (Jennell Jaquays, 1988)

Tuern

  • Ruler: High King Threlked Ironfist, five vassal kings
  • Capital: Uttersea (pop. 2000)
  • Settlements: Throne Rock
  • Population: Unknown
  • Area: 8648 miles² (22,398.22 kilometres²)
  • Military:
  • Languages: Common, Illuskan
  • Religion: None, three local red dragons are instead worshipped as gods
  • Exports: Adamantite ore
  • Imports:
  • Sources: The Savage Frontier (Jennell Jaquays, 1988), The North (slade, et all, 1996), Neverwinter: Tyranny of Dragons (Cryptic Studios, 2014), Storm Kings Thunder (Christopher Perkins, 2016)

Overview

The northern Trackless Sea is home to several large islands and small archipelagos, divided into several kingdoms. These nations are small, remote and of relatively little interest to the doings of the mainland unless they engage in war, or disrupt trade through raids. The islands share something of a common cultural heritage, all being ruled by Northmen, but they can also vary dramatically from isle to isle in terms of governance.

The most remote of the islands, and indeed one of the most remote islands of Faerûn, is Tuern, located roughly 500 miles due west of the Cold Run and the Icepeak. The island is subarctic in climate, but benefits from a warm coastal current emanating from the west, which leaves the island free of icebergs in all but the worst winters. The island also warmed by vulcanism, with two active volcanoes located off the west coast and the immense volcanic reservoir known as the Flame Fault located in the north-west of the island, home to three powerful red dragons whom the Tuernish worship as gods. The Tuernish despise magic, and wizards and sorcerers are put to death on sight, and even other Northmen shamans are barely tolerated. Efforts to bring various religions to Tuern have always ended in violent failure. The Tuernish are regarded as strange and dangerous by their fellow Northmen and the island is largely shunned. If it wasn’t for the valuable adamantite ore, there would be next to no trade and contact between Tuern and the outside world at all.

The northernmost island in this region is Umukek, located at the boundary of the Sea of Moving Ice. The island was once colonised by the Northmen, but the poor climate eventually encouraged them to leave, leaving the island uninhabited.

The smallest of the northern kingdoms is Trisk, which controls the small island grouping known as the Purple Rocks. The Purple Rocks were colonised by settlers from Gundarlun several centuries ago. The Rocklanders, as they became known, secured independence and became two sovereign kingdoms, Trisk, ruled from the town known as Ulf of Thuger, and Utheraal, ruled from the township of Vilkstead. In 1368 Trisk invaded Utheraal and conquered the island very quickly, sacking Vilkstead and killing the king. At the moment, Utheraal appears to have been forced into vassalage as part of the kingdom of Trisk, but it remains to be seen if this situation endures.

Also notable, although debatably part of the region, is the Icepeak, or Icepeak Island. This large island lies just off the mainland coast, near the Cold Run and located at the southern edge of the Sea of Moving Sea. The island was settled by Northmen many centuries ago, but also fell under the influence of the nearby city of Illusk, and its modern-day successor, Luskan. This has resulted in the island being split; the south coast, including the largest town of Aurilssbarg, is held by Luskan, whilst the northern and eastern coasts, including the small villages of Icewolf and Bjorn’s Hold, remain under control of independent Northmen.

Gundarlun is a relatively small island, but enjoys a central location between Ruathym and the Moonshaes to the south, the Purple Rocks and Tuern to the north-west and the Sword Coast North and the city of Waterdeep to the east. This has allowed Gundarlun to take advantage of its location for trade, which has led to its capital city of Gundbarg swelling to become the largest city in the northern Trackless Sea and also the island into joining the Lords’ Alliance. Gundarlun, arguably, is the “friendliest” of the islands to outsiders.

Ruathym is the largest island in the northern Trackless Sea. The island is heavily mountainous, with a central mountain chain all but dropping straight into the sea. Tiny forests and high grazing lands dot the mountains. The lack of a decent growing land means the island is dependent on the sea for food. A significant magical location on the island is the grove of Yggdrasil’s Child, grown from a seed of the World Tree. The tree has various but ambiguous magical properties.

Government

Each of the island nations of the Trackless Sea have their own form of governance.

Tuern is ruled by the High King of Uttersea, currently Threlked Ironfist. The island is divided into five holds, with the rulers of the other four holds being subservient to Ironfist. However, Ironfist himself is also subservient to the three red dragons who dwell in the Flame Fault in the north-west of the island. The dragons are content to leave the day-to-day rule of the island to the humans, as long as they are kept fed and safe.

Trisk is ruled by a hereditary ruler, currently King Selger, who rules by the sword. His recent conquest of neighbouring Utheraal has won him respect from his captains and subordinate warlords.

Gundarlun is regarded as one of the more civilised nations of the Trackless Sea, and is the only island member of the Lord’s Alliance. It is ruled by King Olgar Redaxe, who favours trade and diplomacy over war, but is not afraid to resort to the sword if required. Gundarlun is divided into fifteen holds ruled by jarls.

Ruathym is ruled by King Aumark Lithyl a former Knight of Myth Drannor. Aumark spent a lot of time adventuring with the infamous group in the Heartlands before learning of the death of his father in a war with Luskan in 1356. Aumark took the throne, united the four dominant tribes of Ruathym under his command and has ruled with a strong fist ever since. Despite its hardy reputation, Ruathym is also home to the largest centre of learning in the islands, the magical library known as the Green Rooms.

History

The ancient history of the northern Trackless Sea is mostly a mystery. It is known that elven naval explorers from Aryvandaar and Illefarn once plied these waves, and many of the islands may have been formed in the event known as the Sundering, which took place in 17,600 BDR (Before Dalereckoning) and also saw the creation the island of Evermeet. After the settling of Evermeet, some sea lanes led from north-western Faerûn to the new elvenhome across the Trackless Sea, but it does not appear that the elves ever settled these islands in large numbers.

The earliest settlements may have been by the dwarves. The dwarven realm of Haunghdannar was founded along the Sword Coast circa 4974 BDR and was unusually interested in the sea, with large ports founded along the coast. There are some indications that they visited the Moonshaes and may have settled on or near Tuern and Ruathym. The so-called “Madbeard” berserker dwarves whose longships sometimes raid shipping in the Trackless Sea may be descended from this realm.

Circa 4000 BDR, primitive human tribesfolk crossed the sea and settled the largest island in the region, Ruathym. They developed a distinctive culture, the Ruathen. Around a thousand years later, Ruathen settlers colonised the mouth of the River Mirar and founded the city of Illusk. Illusk evolved into a distinct city and then culture, the ancestors of many of the humans of the Sword Coast and Savage Frontier today. Meanwhile, Ruathen civilisation evolved into that of the Northmen, or Northlanders. From Ruathym they spread to the mainland of the Sword Coast, to Tuern, to the Icepeak and to the northern islands of Moonshae, which the native Ffolk surrendered to them in 256 DR. Settlers from the Northmen outposts along the Sword Coast then colonised Gundarlun, who in turn settled the Purple Rocks.

The subsequent history of the region was dominated by the hostility between Illusk and Ruathym, which was later transferred to Illusk’s successor, Luskan. Ruathym and Luskan clashed in warfare many times over the succeeding centuries, Ruathym never gathering enough strength to decisively destroy Luskan but the distance between the two powers and Ruathym’s hostile, defender-favouring terrain, preventing Luskan from likewise seizing victory. Ruathym’s tendency to sponsor or harbour raiders from the Sword Coast also prevented it from joining any alliance against Luskan, such as with Waterdeep, Neverwinter or the Lords’ Alliance.

In 1358, Ruathym was unexpectedly dragged into the Time of Troubles when avatars of the elven god Labelas Enoreth and the dwarven deity Clangeddin Silverbeard did battle on the island. Vicious plantmen, possibly created as a side-effect of the battle, manifested on the island and caused tremendous damage before they were also defeated.

King Aumark Lithyl united Ruathym under his leadership and forged a short-lived alliance between Ruathym, Luskan, the Whale Bones and Tuern. This organisation, the Captain’s Confederation or Captains’ Alliance, raided up and down the Sword Coast with great success for three years or so. However, Luskan betrayed the alliance by attempting to invade Ruathym in 1361, having first tried to trick Waterdeep and the Lords’ Alliance into attacking them. The conspiracy was unmasked and Luksan withdraw its forces after Waterdeep threatened to take military action against them.

In 1368, Trisk invaded and conquered its neighbouring island of Utheraal, uniting the Purple Rocks under King Selger’s banner. It remains to be seen if this is a permanent arrangement or if Utheraal will regain its independence.

Religion

Like most of the Northmen cultures, the Northmen of the Trackless Sea mostly venerate the Gods of Battle, led by Tempus. They also have great respect and reverence for Valkur, the God of Sailors. They fear Auril, the Frostmaiden; Talos, the God of Storms; and Umberlee, Goddess of the Seas, and leave offerings so they might not curse their voyages with misfortune.

A notable exception is on the island of Tuern, where the inhabitants refuge the existence of any god and instead worship the three great red dragons that dwell in the Flame Fault.

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Nations of the Forgotten Realms 12: Evermeet

In this series I will be looking at each of the individual nations of Faerûn in turn, in alphabetical order. This series is based around the status of each nation as of 1371-72 Dalereckoning (at the end of D&D 2nd Edition and the start of 3rd Edition). The maps are drawn from The Forgotten Realms Interactive Atlas CD-ROM and their respective 1st and 2nd Edition sources. They are not necessarily current for the 5th Edition of the setting (which is set c. 1496 DR).

A map of Evermeet. Please click for a larger version.
  • Ruler: Queen Amlaruil Moonflower, the Council of Matrons, the Queen’s High Council
  • Capital: Leuthilspar (pop. 50,269)
  • Settlements: Drelagara, Elion (1500), Erial, Iumathiashae, Nimlith (1000), Ruith (10,000), Sumbrar, Taltempla
  • Population: 1,658,880 (50% sun elf, 30% moon elf, 10% sea elf, 9% wood elf, 1% misc.)
  • Population Density: 18.43 people per mile², 7.12 people per km²
  • Area: 89,006 miles² (230,524 km²)
  • Military: The Pegasus Cavalry, Eagle Riders, Dragon Riders, Aerial Navy, the Evermeet Navy, thousands of magic-users
  • Languages: Elven
  • Religion: The Seldarine
  • Exports: Jewellery, exotic and magical items
  • Imports: Officially, none
  • Sources: Elves of Evermeet (Anne Gray McCready, 1994), Evermeet: Island of Elves (Elaine Cunningham, 1999)

Overview

Evermeet is the home of the elven race upon Toril and represents the greatest concentration of elven civilisation on the planet.

Evermeet is a large island in the midst of the Trackless Sea. The island is located over 1,100 miles due west of the Moonshae Islands, just over 1,000 miles south-west of Tuern, 500 miles due south of the mysterious islands of Anchorome, and approximately 450 miles east of the continent of Maztica, specifically the Bay of Balduran. This is relatively remote, although not quite as remote as perhaps the elves might wish, especially as sailing technology has improved and cross-ocean travel and commerce between Maztica and Faerûn is becoming more normal. However, Evermeet has both magical defences, such as magical fields that confuse and disorientate non-elven mariners, and mundane ones, such as one of the most powerful fleets of warships on the Trackless Sea.

Evermeet is known as the Green Isle for its remarkable degree of tree cover. Almost the entire island of 90,000 square miles is covered by forest. Roads are almost non-existent, with each elven community carefully self-sufficient as much as possible to avoid unnecessary commerce and despoiling nature. Most of the island’s major towns are located on the coast, with travel from one end of the island to the other best-accomplished by ship.

The major exception to the tree cover is the central spine of the island, along the River Ardulith, with the Eagle Hills rising to the east and the Silver Hills to the west. Between the hills, along the river, lies, a lengthy chain of elven farms, hamlets and even mines, known as Ty’athalael. The Ardulith joins the River Shaelyn at the southern end of this region, from whence it flows into the sea at Leuthilspar, the largest elven city believed to be extant on Toril. Leuthilspar is a large city of graceful buildings, tree-lined streets and is where nature and urbanisation, to an extent, work in harmony.

There several notable other areas in the forest, such as the plains in the south where the town of Drelagara sits and the sandy beaches of Siiluth in the south-east. Off the coast of Evermeet to the east lies Sumbrar, home to Evermeet’s formidable navy of both water-borne vessels and also spelljammers.

Evermeet is a beautiful land with an immense history which is said to be impregnable.

A map showing the lands around Evermeet. Please click for a larger version.

History

Starting around 27,000 years Before Dalereckoning (BDR), the elves forged their first great empires on the world of Toril: Ilythiir (c. 27,000 BDR), Aryvandaar (23,900 BDR), Shantel Othreier (23,600 BDR), Illefarn (22,900 BDR), Miyeritar (18,800 BDR) and Keltormir (17,800 BDR). Ilythiir, the realm of the jungle elves, first welcomed and worked with the other elven kingdoms, largely founded by refugees from the elven homeworld of Tintageer, but relations between the realms became poisoned by Ilythiiri paranoia and jealousy (the influence of the evil goddess Arushnee, later known as Lolth).

Around 17,600 BDR, the High Mages of the other elven empires, inspired by prophecies and dreams, began working to summon a piece of Arvandor, the holy plane of the Seldarine (the elven pantheon), onto Toril and use it as a special place of refuge. The ritual, the Ever’Sakkatien, took centuries of planning. It was cast from a tower of white granite located at the very heart of the main continent of the world and involved twelve High Mages working in concert. The ritual was successful, but it killed eleven of the twelve mages involved and resulted in a cataclysm. The supercontinent of Merrouroboros was torn apart, its western portions broken off dragged thousands of miles across the sea (to become Maztica, Katashaka and the islands of Anchôromé). The coastlands of the remaining landmasses were inundated. Although all of Toril was impacted and the northern elven empires lost vast reams of territory and lives, Ilythiir was almost completely destroyed and its first capital, Atorrnash, was lost beneath the waves of the Great Blue (the predecessor ocean to the Great Sea). The empire was many centuries in recovering.

However, in the midst of the newly-formed Trackless Sea there was a new island, Evermeet, a place where Arvandor and the Prime Material Plane intersected, a holy place of retreat for the elves. Evermeet’s location and even its existence was known to a very few, as the elven empires recovered from the event now known as the Sundering and began the slow build-up to what would become the Crown Wars, which began in 12,000 BDR. In 9800 BDR, whilst the wars were still raging, sailors from Aryvandaar finally located Evermeet and established a colony there. However, the newcomers quickly realised in this holy place that Aryvandaar had become corrupted and decadent, a warmongering nation as culpable as Ilythiir, if not moreso, for the wars. In 9200 BDR, when Elven Court proclaimed the ruling Vyshaan clan of Aryvandaar as outcasts and criminals, Evermeet joined the rebellion and sent forces to help in the overthrow of Aryvandaar.

After this, Evermeet remained aloof from affairs in Faerûn. Ruler after ruler followed in control of Evermeet, and the island acquired powerful defences to ward off would-be invaders. The rise of powerful human nations like Imaskar and Netheril caused consternation among the elves, but these nations never turned their gaze across the ocean. Sometimes disasters and problems in Faerûn saw the elves call for aid from the Island Kingdom, but Evermeet was loathe to intervene and risk its own security. Nevertheless, some events were so major that they did send aid: troops and mages from Evermeet journeyed to Cormanthyr to fight in the Wailing War against the Army of Darkness, and aided in the evacuation of thousands of elves from Myth Drannor and the wider empire as it collapsed two years later. During the final stand on the steps of Cormanthor Castle, many of the last defenders were allowed to flee through gates to Evermeet, including the famed Zaor Moonflower. In later years Zaor Moonflower became King of Evermeet.

For the next few centuries, Evermeet took little to no role in events in Faerûn. However, it did play a major role in the development of the elves of Toril in spelljamming. The Imperial Elven Navy, a multi-world fleet of ships from different elven races on various worlds, made its base in Realmspace and forged a strong alliance with Evermeet. For a time, the rulers of Evermeet were distracted by events far off in the heavens. Most notable of these was the First Unhuman War, which began with a massive assault by elven spelljammers on hostile forces in Greyspace in 965 DR and peaked with the destruction of the planet Borka in 981. The Scro – a spacefaring orcish civilisation – took revenge for the war by launching an assault on the Imperial Elven Fleet in 1357, beginning the Second Unhuman War. The war spread to Realmspace in 1360 but the Scro fleets were defeated within the sphere within two years. The war itself dragged on until 1369, when the war ended with the Scro fleets apparently mostly destroyed, but the elven fleets exhausted and no longer the dominant force they were before the wars began. As usual with events in the heavens, most of this went completely unnoticed on the actual worlds within those spheres.

In 1321, King Zaor was slain by an assassin. His wife Amlaruil Moonflower succeeded him as High Queen of Evermeet.

In 1344, the rulers of Elven Court declared the Great Retreat, a withdrawal of elvenkind from Cormanthor, but also wider Faerûn. Although many elves chose to linger, a vast number (estimates range from thousands to hundreds of thousands) travelled by means magical and mundane to Evermeet, and more would follow in dribs and drabs in the following years. Evereska became the last remaining nation of elves on the mainland of Faerûn.

In 1365, the Coral Kingdom, a sahuagin empire located on the seabed between Evermeet and Moonshae, began to threaten both realms. However, the sahuagin were defeated thanks to the heroism of King Tristan Kendrick of Moonshae and his daughter, Princess Alicia.

In 1370, the elves of the Savage Frontier region pledged allegiance to the Alliance of the Silver Marches, marking the founding of Luruar, a new kingdom. The kingdom is unique in the history of Faerûn, if not Toril, for being equally welcoming to all races whilst not being dominated by any, and elves make up a greater proportion of the population than any nation other than Evereska and Evermeet. Some sages have suggested this marks the end of the Elven Retreat, with the elves clearly willing to engage more closely in the affairs of Faerûn once more, but others are dubious.

Government

High Queen Amlaruil Moonflower rules Evermeet as its absolute ruler. She is known as the Sad Queen, as she became queen upon the death of her husband, Zaor, a noted heroic warrior who fought in the Weeping War and only barely survived the Fall of Myth Drannor. He was assassinated in 1321.

Queen Amlaruil is advised by the Council of Matrons, made up the Matrons of the main noble families, and the Queen’s High Council, which consists of Evermeet’s military commanders, city governors and the head of its magical orders and religious orders.

Evermeet is heavily defended, possibly more heavily defended than any other location on Toril. The island is surrounded by freestanding magical fields that serve to confuse and distract sailors, who often try to find Evermeet only to end up sailing in circles or directly away from it. Sea elves patrol the seas out to a considerable distance from the island and can spot an approach ship or fleet long before it sights land. Magical sea creatures also stand ready to defend the island.

Evermeet also employs a mundane navy, consisting of hundreds of swanships, dozens of dragonships and four massive wardragons, capable of unleashing arcane fire. These are augmented by aerial forces, including the 1,000-strong Pegasus Cavalry, the Eagle Riders, the Dragon Riders (consisting of a dozen ancient dragons) and six Ruathimaer-class spelljammers. Evermeet can also call upon elements from the Imperial Elven Fleet of spelljammers to defend the island, potentially dozens more warships that are usually patrolling close to Toril.

Evermeet’s standing army is small, consisting of hundreds of warriors. The sun elf heavy cavalry, riding into battle on moon-horse steeds, is particularly feared. Evermeet is also home to almost every single elven High Mage left on the planet, apart from the small number in Evereska, whose combined magical Art could possibly crack the planet like an egg if they wished.

Evermeet’s economy is mostly self-sufficient, but elven craftsmen export exquisite items to the mainland for sale, either to Evereska, Elven Court or the tiny number of non-elven cities and nations which have Evermeet’s favour, such as Waterdeep, Luruar and (on a very good day) Cormyr. Evermeet trades with other worlds by spelljamming.

Religion

Evermeet is dedicated to the worship of the Seldarine, the elven pantheon, and the island is the centre of worship for almost all the elven gods on the planet. Corellon Larethian, the head of the Seldarine, is the most revered, but Hanali Celanil also enjoys widespread worship.

The only non-elven god particularly revered on Evermeet is Eilistraee, who chose to willingly forsake the light of the Seldarine to try to redeem the drow as their goddess of hope and light. That sacrifice has not been forgotten.

The Faerûnian pantheon has no effective power in Evermeet, despite the concerns of Mystra over the sheer magical might present on the island and what it could perhaps do reshape the rest of the world in the future.

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