Some Quick Links

Featured

If you want to go to the very first post on the Atlas of Ice and Fire, click here.

Some other useful links:

Malazan Book of the Fallen Atlas.

Wheel of Time Atlas.

Forgotten Realms Atlas.

How big is the world anyway?

The Size and Extent of Westeros (revised) and The Size and Extent of Essos, Sothoryos and Ulthos (revised).

A Political Map of the Known World.

Terra Incognita: Beyond the Known World.

The Population of the Seven Kingdoms and The Population of the Free Cities.

Unreliable Timelines and Confused Dates.

A Song of Lines and Latitude.

Wonders Made by Man and The Seven Natural Wonders of the Known World.

Historical Map 1: The Dawn of Days and other Historical Maps.

Geographic Map 1: The Known World and other Geographic Maps.

A Distance Map of Westeros

Tags

, ,

A while ago, I received a request for an interesting idea: isochronic maps of fantasy worlds.

A distance map of Westeros. Please click for a larger version.

Isochronic maps show time over distance, and are very useful if the specific distance is less useful than knowing how quickly you can get somewhere. The scale might tell you that a location is 300 miles away in a straight line, but an isochronic map can tell you how long it will take to travel that distance given various factors (time of year, weather conditions, mounted or on foot, on good roads or across country, terrain etc).

I started looking at doing an isochronic map of Westeros but ran into problems that sorting through the morass of geographical factors would take a considerable amount of time, requiring a huge number of judgement calls on how good quality the Kingsroad is versus the Ocean Road, how impassable the Mountains of the Moon are in autumn and so on. For the time being I switched to doing a much more simple distance map which does not take account of geographical obstacles at this stage. The distance map is centred on King’s Landing, the capital city of the Seven Kingdoms.

The distance map is based on the idea of someone being able to travel 25 miles in one day. This would typically be someone travelling on horseback with moderate baggage and able to swap horses maybe once a week or fortnight (otherwise you could assume 2 days of rest for every 5-7 days travelled and extend the days required to travel accordingly). The journeys would be slightly faster on an excellent highway like the Kingsroad, and a lot slower in bad weather.

A full isochronic map would take account of such features. Historically they were more useful for ocean travel, given the more dependable regularity of ship speeds as technology improved, but land-based ones exist as well.

An isochronic map of the world in 1914, centred on London.

A fully accurate isochronic map is impossible, due to the number of variables being very high (pleasingly, for an author who hasn’t necessarily put this amount of thought into things), but it’s something to definitely consider for a future entry.

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.

An updated map of THE DRAGON PRINCE

Following on from my previous map of Xadia and the Five Kingdoms (from the Netflix animated series, The Dragon Prince), I’ve now prepared an updated version which takes into account new information from the book, The Art of the Dragon Prince.

Dragon Prince Updated Map

A map of the Dragon Prince world. Please click for a larger version.

This book includes a brand-new, more detailed map of the continent shared by the Five Kingdoms and Xadia, presumably with locations that will play a larger role in forthcoming seasons (Netflix recently renewed the show for four more seasons to complete the saga), as well as the capitals of the other human kingdoms (apart from Evenere).

Season 4 of The Dragon Prince is expected to air on Netflix in 2021, and I suspect we’ll have a bunch more new locations to explore at that point.

A Revised Map of the First Law

I previously posted a map of Joe Abercrombie’s Circle of the World – the setting for his First Law books – a couple of years back. I decided to revisit it ahead of the publication of the next book in the setting, The Trouble with Peace, next month.

First Law Map Colour

A map of the Circle of the World. Please click for a larger version.

This isn’t a major revamp, being the previous map colourised. A more thorough reworking of the map is possible in the future (incorporating the expanded maps of Styria and the Far Country from Best Served Cold and Red Country, for example), but that’s a way off at the moment.

Joe Abercrombie’s First Law world is divided into three continents and numerous large islands.

The North is a land of frozen rivers, towering mountains and ferocious creatures called Shanka. The Northmen are hardy warriors, living in a land of war, raiding and a rough kind of honour.

The western continent is land of prairies and plains, reminiscent of the American West. This continent is the location of the Far Country, where rumours of riches and gold have drawn settlers, and the Old Empire, a formerly great nation that has collapsed into civil war.

The southern continent, Kanta, is a vast land of deserts and arid plains with civilisation clustered around the great rivers. Kanta is the home of the massive Gurkish Empire, the largest and most populous nation in the Circle of the World.

Located between these continents are several islands, the most notable of which are Midderland, Styria, Suljuk and Thond. Midderland is the homeland of the Union, a large empire which includes possessions on all three continental landmasses: Angland in the North, Dagoska in Kanta and Starikland on the western continent. Adua, the capital of the Union, is located in Midderland. Styria is a collection of feuding city-states, the most powerful of which is Talins.

 

Note on the Map

This map is based closely on the map created by Dave Senior for Sharp Ends, the 2016 Joe Abercrombie collection of short stories set in the same world. I have added some additional locations and included a scale (based on the discussion of the distance from Aostum to Darmium given in the text).

 

The Circle of the World is the setting for the following novels:

The First Law Trilogy

  1. The Blade Itself (2006)
  2. Before They Are Hanged (2007)
  3. Last Argument of Kings (2008)

Semi-Stand-Alone Books

  • Best Served Cold (2009)
  • The Heroes (2011)
  • Red Country (2012)
  • Sharp Ends: Stories from the World of the First Law (2016)

The Age of Madness Trilogy

  1. A Little Hatred (2019)
  2. The Trouble with Peace (2020)
  3. The Beautiful Machine (2021)

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 weeks before it goes live on my blogs.

Stellar Cartography: The Maps of Freespace

This is a series of maps based on the Freespace video game franchise. This series consists of three space combat games widely regarded as the best in their genre: Conflict Freespace: The Great War (1998), Conflict Freespace: The Silent Threat (1998) and Freespace 2 (1999).

FS2 Nodemap 2335

A map depicting known space shortly before the events of Conflict Freespace: The Great War. Please click for a larger version.

A Brief History of the Freespace Universe

Early History

More then ten thousand years ago, a powerful alien race, known colloquially if lazily as “the Ancients,” arose in our region of the galaxy and established a large, powerful empire spanning many systems, utilising the power of subspace to jump between distant stars. This empire flourished for several millennia before it encountered an extremely powerful, tenacious and relentless foe, the “Destroyers.” The Destroyers pushed the Ancients back to their home star system and eradicated them approximately eight thousand years ago.

Peace fell on this corner of the galaxy for a long period of time until two species in relatively neighbouring parts of the galaxy (at least neighbouring via the subspace node network, if not in physical space) reached the stars almost simultaneously: the Vasudans, based on Vasuda Prime, and the Terrans, based on Earth in the Sol system. The two species colonised multiple systems before running headlong into one another. First contact took place early in the 24th Century and it appears that this may have been relatively peaceful. However, the flames of xenophobia were fanned in both civilisations, propelled by a joint fear that each other race was going to seize resources urgently desired by the other. When a Terran diplomatic party made a minor mistake during a ritual Vasudan greeting in 2321, extremists seized on it as an excuse for war.

The war, fought between the Vasudan Parliamentary Empire (PVE) and the Galactic Terran Alliance (GTA), raged for fourteen years. At several key moments it appeared that one power gained the upper hand over the other, only for their advantage to be checked. The conflict was expensive and wasteful, and peace initiatives several times came close to ending the war, but each time old fears and hatreds were reignited and the conflict gained new momentum. Still, after fourteen years it became clear that both races had lost the appetite for a prolonged battle to the death.

FS2 Nodemap The Great War

A map depicting the Great War of AD 2335. Please click for a larger version.

The Great War

In 2335, both species were taken by surprise by the arrival of an unknown alien race. Flying distinctive black ships and using energy shields (a technology unknown to either the Vasudans or Terrans), this race gained the name “Shivans.” The Shivans relentlessly attacked both Terran and Vasudan worlds and ships, devastating GTA holdings in the Ross 128 system and mounting a systematic assault through the Ribos sector. Faced with a mutual foe desiring nothing less than the annihilation of all other sentient life, the Terrans and Vasudans called a ceasefire, formed an ad hoc alliance and established a common front against the invading Shivans, drawing a line between Vega, Antares and Ribos.

Unfortunately, the Shivans deployed a superior flagship vessel, codenamed Lucifer. Equipped with a shield which regenerated almost instantly to any attack, the vessel appeared unbeatable. It jumped past the allied blockade to strike at Deneb. After massacring all forces in its path, it jumped into orbit around Vasuda Prime and bombarded the planet from orbit for half a day, killing more than four billion Vasudans.

As the war grew more desperate, Vasudan scientists reluctantly confirmed the existence of alien ruins on Altair IV that long predated their own civilisation. Examination of records from these ruins suggested that the Shivans were the “Great Destroyers” who had obliterated the Ancient civilisation. The Ancient records suggested that although Shivan shield technology was superior, it possessed a significant weakness: it could not function in subspace. The Terran and Vasudan forces augmented their best fighter and bomber wings with intersystem subspace drives and tracked the Lucifer from Vasuda to Delta Serpenis. From there, the Lucifer made the jump to Sol. The fighter and bomber wings pursued the Lucifer into subspace and confirmed that the shields on the Lucifer were no longer operating. They were able to hit the Lucifer’s reactor core with heavy torpedoes and crippled the ship; when it emerged from subspace, it exploded with such force that it created a subspace feedback loop that enveloped the entire Sol system. Although the system was unharmed, it did collapse every jump node leading to Sol, effectively cutting it off from the rest of the galaxy.

FS2 Nodemap After the Great War

A map showing the explored galaxy after the Great War, but before the Beta Aquilae Convention.

Aftermath

The aftermath of the Great War was a chaotic time. The Vasudan Empire relocated its capital to Aldebaran and began a rebuilding process, whilst the GTA established a new base of operations in Delta Serpentis and attempted to find a way of reopening the jump node to Sol. All of these efforts proved futile. Several months after the war, the GTA’s intelligence and special operations division attempted to launch a coup against the GTA government and reignite the war against the Vasudans using an experimental warship, the Hades. This rebellion was halted in its tracks and the Hades was destroyed.

The GTA fragmented over the following few years, with regional governments including the Regulus Syndicate, the Adhara Coalition, the Antares Federation and the Luyten New Alliance forming. However, in 2345 the Vasudan Emperor proposed unifying Terran and Vasudan military holdings into a single alliance with the intent of propelling technological development forward so that they would be much better prepared should the Shivans return. After considerable dissent, argument and negotiation, this resulted in the signing in 2358 of the Beta Aquilae Convention (BETAC), which dissolved the regional governments and formally established the Galactic Terran-Vasudan Alliance (GTVA).

By this time, attempts to contact Earth by sublight communications from systems close to Sol in physical space (most notably Alpha Centauri, Wolf 359 and Sirius) had also curiously failed, resulting in growing concerns about the fate of the home system.

In 2365 the GTVA was suddenly rocked by the unexpected outbreak of civil war. Although the new alliance had restored political peace and economic security to all Terran and Vasudan worlds, some Terrans and Vasudans bristled at the integration of their two species into one union. The Vasudan rebels, known as the Hammer of the Light, had largely been defeated after the Great War, but underlying tensions in the Terran systems reached boiling point. Admiral Bosch of the GTVA military staged a coup in Polaris and announced the founding of the Neo-Terran Front, a human-first organisation which called for the dissolution of BETAC and the imposition of a hardline, fascistic form of governance (including summary execution for officers who failed to achieve military objectives). The NTF failed to recognised the BETAC’s rules on war crimes, particularly not recognising the execution of Vasudan military officers or civilians as a crime at all. Shockingly, the rebellion spread and both Regulus and Sirius declared for the NTF within weeks.

The GTVA and the NTF clashed for control of their three home systems, but the NTF had caused a substantial minority of the GTVA fleet to defect. The GTVA was on the back foot in the opening months of the war as the NTF fortified their three home systems and then went on the offensive in Epsilon Pegasi, Deneb and Alpha Centauri. The GTVA barely held them back, but was then able to launch a successful counter-offensive. Eighteen months into the war, with the GTVA political council on the brink of suing for peace, the GTVA military unleashed its most secret project: the GTVA Colossus, a ship considerably larger and more powerful even than the Lucifer. The Colossus tore a swathe through the NTF fleet, shrugging off even an attempted kamikaze ram from an Orion-class destroyer with only minimal damage.

FS2 Nodemap NTF Rebellion

A map depicting the civil war with the Neo-Terran Front in 2365-66. Please click for a larger version.

During this conflict, it was determined that the NTF had seized technology related to the Ancients and had been using it for unknown purposes. One of the NTF experiments activated an Ancient device of tremendous power in the Gamma Draconis system, a system believed to have been deserted after initial surveys turned up nothing of interest. GTVA investigations revealed that the device was a subspace portal, capable of stabilising jump nodes too unstable for regular use. The Gamma Draconis portal, known as the Knossos, appeared to lead to Shivan space, as Shivan forces began pouring through Gamma Draconis into the Capella system. The GTVA fleet at Capella annihilated the Shivan force and then drove them back to the Knossos portal. The GTVA seized control of the portal and debated on destroying it to halt the possibility of any further Shivan invasion. However, the portal hinted at a way of reopening the jump nodes to Earth. This prospect was too tantalising to resist and it was decided to fortify the Knossos whilst securing the space on the far side. A precautionary evacuation of the 250 million inhabitants of Capella began, whilst the GTVA fleet redeployed to meet the possible challenges of fighting both the Shivans and NTF simultaneously. As it turned out, the latter was unnecessary; not only did the Colossus make short work of the NTF fleets, Admiral Bosch and his flagship, the Iceni, abandoned their worlds and fled through the Knossos, taking the GTVA fleets defending it by surprise.

The far side of the Knossos portal was revealed to be a dense nebula. With no stars visible through the thick clouds, it was impossible to determine the nebula’s location. However, the nebula was determined to be the site of a vast Shivan resource-gathering operation. The GTVA engaged Shivan forces throughout the nebula, destroying all of them with impressive ease thanks to their new weapons and technology, but were unable to locate the Iceni. They did locate the new Shivan flagship, the Sathanas, a warship rivalling the Colossus in size and exceeding it in firepower. With the Sathanas bearing down on the subspace the portal, the order was given to destroy the Knossos.

The attempt to destroy the portal appeared successful, but the Sathanas was able to jump into Gamma Draconis anyway: the portal had held the node open for long enough for it to become fully stabilised, even without the portal’s help. The GTVA scrambled its best bomber squadrons to knock out the Sathanas’ main weapons array. The Colossus was then able to destroy the Sathanas with its main guns, although only by almost overheating them into oblivion.

A GTVA taskforce returned to the nebula and discovered the Iceni, having somehow communicated with the Shivans. Admiral Bosch and his command crew were taken off the vessel by the Shivans, who then attempted to butcher the crew but were stopped by the GTVA taskforce. The Iceni was scuttled, but the experimental ETAK device Bosch used to communicate with the Shivans was recovered intact.

Further exploration of the nebula revealed the presence of a second Knossos portal, but attempts to secure it were defeated when a second Sathanas-class warship arrived, forcing the GTVA to once again evacuate the nebula. Before they left, a single scout party using captured Shivan fighters was sent through the second portal. They found themselves in a binary star system with a sky configuration that was not recognised by GTVA astronomers. A third Knossos portal was detected a vast distance away and no less than nine Sathanas-class warships were detected converging on the nebula portal, presenting a level of threat that even the Colossus could not deal with. Eventually the threat level became insurmountable when it was revealed that the full strength of the Shivan fleet topped out at eighty Sathanas-class vessels.

The GTVA concentrated almost its entire military force in Capella. The evacuation of Capella had now been proceeding for months, with the majority of its 250 million people pulled back (an exercise which had easily become the single most logistically challenging task in the history of both the Vasudan and human races). Aware they could not hope to defeat the Sathanas fleet, they instead focused on getting the last few civilian ships out of the system and using powerful meson bombs to destroy the jump nodes leading out of Capella to Vega and Epsilon Pegasi. The Epsilon Pegasi node was successfully collapsed.

The GTVA fleet began withdrawing to Vega, but the expected battle with the Sathanas fleet did not take place: instead, seventy-nine of the Sathanas-class ships surrounded the Capella star and began manipulating it with energy emissions of unknown origin. The remaining Sathanas broke off to engage and destroy the Colossus, which disobeyed orders to hold back the Shivans long enough for several civilian ships to escape.

After three days, just as the last Capellan refugees fled to Vega, the Shivan fleet triggered an energy pulse which destroyed the Capella star, making it go supernova. The resulting explosion destroyed the entire system and everything in it, and also collapsed the Vega node without the need for a meson bomb.

The destruction of Capella and its jump nodes effectively ended the Shivan threat from that quarter. The GTVA had survived what appeared to be an outright apocalypse, but the motivations for the Shivans to destroy Capella were unknown. It was theorised that the nebula system may have also been a star destroyed before its time by the Shivans, allowing the Shivans to harvest the gases and resources left behind. The truth of the matter remained unknown.

What was known was that the Shivan threat was far greater than could have been previously imagined. The GTVA began rearming and rebuilding, and also researching, for the data gleaned from the Knossos was enough for them to construct their own such devices and re-establish contact with the mysteriously silent Sol system. The threat of the Shivans remains overwhelming.

FS2 Nodemap Capella

A map showing the state of play after the second war with the Shivans and the Capella supernova. Please click for a larger version.

Subspace Nodes

To circumvent the speed of light limitation, all known spacefaring races used the subspace node network. This consists of tunnels or wormholes through subspace which link disparate systems together. Scientists are divided over whether nodes are naturally-occurring artifacts or are of artificial origin, or a mix. There is some evidence that it was the Ancients who created the current subspace node network, by using Knossos-class portals to stabilise natural but unstable nodes and then open them up to travel. The fact that the nodes tend to link together the brightest stars as seen from this sector of space or those most likely to harbour lifebearing planets does suggest an artificial origin.

The node network is not dependent on physical proximity in realspace. For example, Alpha Centauri is the closest star system to Sol at 4.4 light-years, but it is not the closest in subspace: Deneb (1,412 light-years distant), Beta Aquilae (44.7 light-years) and Delta Serpentis (228.1 light-years) are all a single subspace jump from Sol, whilst Alpha Centauri are is two jumps away (via Deneb). Wolf 359 is only 7.8 light-years distant from Sol but it is five jumps distant, via Delta Serpentis (228.1 light-years), Ross 128 (10.94 light-years), Laramis (unknown) and Luyten 726-8 (8.73 light-years) and so forth.

It is possible to collapse jump nodes with a large enough explosion. The shockwaves triggers the collapse of the node tunnel into a state only detectable at the quantum level; reopening the jump node can only be done with exotic matter and energy as generated via a Knossos-class subspace portal. Robust jump engines can also traverse nodes that other races cannot use: for example, the Shivans were able to use several unstable jump nodes to circumvent Vasudan and GTA lines of defence during the Great War. By the time of the second conflict, Vasudan and GTA technology had improved and the Shivans were unable to use this tactic as effectively.

The jump nodes from Sol to its connecting systems (Deneb, Beta Aquilae and Delta Serpentis) were severed during the Lucifer’s destruction at the conclusion of the Great War. The jump nodes linking Capella to Epsilon Pegasi and Vega (and presumably Gamma Draconis) were collapsed when the Shivans turned the Capellan star supernova at the conclusion of the Second Great War.

 

Note on the Maps

The links marked in blue are confirmed to exist via the game’s own accompanying maps or are canonically proven to exist by in-game events (most notably the Altair-Deneb jump node, which is not on the official maps but features in no less than three missions during the original game). Lines in orange are not shown on the maps but are referred to in dialogue.

 

Sources

The FreeSpace Wiki was an invaluable reference point in assembling this guide, particularly the high-res logos created by MjnMixael.

 

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.

A Map of Kara-Tur

Following on from my maps of Faerûn, Maztica and Zakhara, here is a new map of the continent of Kara-Tur in the Forgotten Realms fantasy setting.

Kara-Tur

A map of the continent of Kara-Tur. Please click for a (much) larger version.

Kara-Tur is part of the same landmass as Faerûn and Zakhara, but is considered a continent in its own right, separated from those two landmasses by the towering Yehimal mountain range. It is located due east of Faerûn, across the obviously-misnamed Endless Waste, and east and north-east of Zakhara, across the Segara Sea. Overland travel and trade between Faerûn and Kara-Tur is lengthy but frequent; trade with Zakhara is complicated by distance and geography.

Kara-Tur measures some 5,500 miles from the Land of the Snow Spirits – believed to be the local name for the Endless Ice Sea – in the north to the Southern Ocean. It is around 3,500 miles wide at its widest extent in the south. These dimensions comfortably make Kara-Tur the largest of Toril’s continents, especially when the extensive Wa and Kozakura island chains (among others) are added to the landmass. Kara-Tur is bordered by the Great Ice Sea, the Endless Waste and the Yehimal to the west and by the Yellow Sea, Celestial Sea and Eastern Sea in the east.

Faerun - Kara-Tur Trade Routes

A map showing the three principle trade routes between Faerûn and Kara-Tur. Please click for a larger version.

Trade Links with Faerûn

Faerûn and Kara-Tur enjoy regular travel and trade, and three great overland trade routes link the two continents.

The northern-most route is known as the Golden Way in Faerûn and the Spice Road in Kara-Tur. It extends from the port of Telflamm on Faerûn’s Inner Sea all the way to the Shou city of Chao Yang, from which further highways extend to Kuo Te’ Lung, the capital city of Shou Lung. It is roughly 3,400 miles from Telflamm to Chao Yang by road, with a further 1,600 miles required to reach the Shou capital. This route is obviously the longest of the three, but also the most convenient for nations of Faerûn’s Heartlands. This route was shut down by the Tuigan war of 1359-60 DR, but since the end of the war the Tuigan have reopened the trade route in return for (so far) relatively modest tribute for crossing their lands.

The central road is known as the Silk Route and extends from Dhaztanar, the port capital of Semphar on Brightstar Lake, to the Shou city of Yenching. This route is considerably shorter than the northern at just under 2,000 miles (with another 1,300 miles required to reach the Shou capital) and minimises the time spent in the Hordelands, with only a relatively modest distance to be covered between Howling Gap and the Alashan Pass into Khazari. However, this route tends to be the most expensive. Both Semphar and Khazari tax trade goods passing through their territories to the point that the northern route may appear preferable, despite being longer. There is also the issue of getting to Dhaztanar, which is already so far east – to the east of Mulhorand and even Murghôm – that it doesn’t even appear on many maps of Faerûn. To put this in context, the distance from Waterdeep to Dhaztanar is significantly greater than the distance from Dhaztanar to the Shou capital.

The southern-most route, and the least-known, is the winding pass between the Katakoro Plateau of Kara-Tur and the kingdom of Ulgarth in the Utter East of Faerûn. This route begins at the port of Suormpar on the Golden Water and extends north and east through the towering Katakoro Mountains (a north-western arm of the Yehimal) onto the plateau. The road then winds eastwards along the Upper Hungste to the Shou port of Mishan. This route is a relatively modest 1,600 miles in length and, since Mishan on the wide and fast-flowing Hungste, one of the great rivers of Kara-Tur, provides much speedier access to the Shou interior. However, the same problem applies here on much greater scale: Ulgarth is in the far south-eastern corner of Faerûn and the time spent travelling to Ulgarth could be better spent just traversing one of the other routes. Ulgarth does have the benefit of being located on the external ocean (the Great Sea, via the Golden Water), which means for traders travelling from Estagund, Halruaa, Samarach, Nimbral, Lantan or even Calimshan, there are arguments for travelling by sea to Suormpar and then overland. A counter-argument is that the pass through the Katakoro Mountains can be unreliable, closed by bad weather or avalanches, and the stretch of road along the Hungste west of Mishan is in unclaimed territory, with a dramatically increased risk of bandit attack.

Another option is by sea, although this is both lengthy and costly. Experiments to open a northern sea route to Kara-Tur via the Endless Ice Sea have ended so far in failure. Although routes around Faerûn’s northern coast do open in the summer, they tend to be fleeting and a ship will do well to get from the Trackless Sea to the Great Ice Sea before the routes close. There are no viable ports on the Great Ice Sea, and Kara-Tur’s northern coast extends for a vast distance to the east, more than can easily be covered by a single voyage.

The southern route is more doable, but is somewhat hazardous, requiring as does a skilled navigator to pass through the maze of islands to the west of Zakhara (most of them uncharted, with corsairs and pirates a common problem), then turning east through the well-named Crowded Sea, then across the only-partially charted Segara Sea and then around Kara-Tur’s vast, inhospitable southern coast before finally making landfall in T’u Lung. Faerûnian traders generally prefer the intermediary trade, of visiting only Zakhara and then buying Kara-Tur goods or selling their own wares there, which depending on demand and the goods in question can be more cost-effective.

A more direct route has been proposed, by circumnavigating the globe and travelling west to reach Kara-Tur from the east. It was during a very attempt to do this by Captain Cordell and the Golden Legion of Amn in 1361 that led to the discovery of the western continent of Maztica. Faerûnian explorers and traders have gotten caught up in the exploration of Maztica instead, but the original plan remains valid, especially since a sea route from the Trackless Sea into the Eastern Sea via the Straits of Lopango is known to exist. However, travelling to Kara-Tur by this method would entail a sea voyage of more than 20,000 miles across vast stretches of open, featureless ocean, which so far has daunted even the bravest sea captain. There are also logistical issues, with no safe port known to exist between south-eastern Maztica and Kara-Tur for resupply.

For the time being, adventurers and traders alike stick to one of the most trusted routes.

Kara-Tur

Political entities of Kara-Tur. Please click for a larger version.

Major Polities of Kara-Tur

If Faerûn is the land of kingdoms and city-states, Kara-Tur is the land of empires. Colossal nation-states stretch across Kara-Tur, several of them so vast that they have provinces and even districts that could swallow the largest Faerûn nations whole. Shou Lung’s Chukei Province, by itself, is far larger than Faerûn’s entire Western Heartlands, whilst noble Cormyr is still smaller than Shou Lung’s smallest province.

 

Shou Lung

The Shou Lung Empire lays claim to being the largest, most populous and most powerful nation on Faerûn. The first two claims are indisputable. More than 2,500 miles fall between the empire’s northern-most and southern-most borders, and some 2,200 miles between the east and rest. The entire continent of Zakhara could fit into the empire with plenty of room left over.

In terms of population, the sheer number of people living inside Shou Lung is staggering. It is said that Shou Lung’s human population may exceed 100 million, which is more than the combined numbers of humans and non-humans living on the entire continent of Faerûn (currently estimated at just under 80 million). A colossal amount of Shou Lung’s land has been turned over to feeding this vast population, with immense rice valleys stretching for hundreds of miles along the major river-valleys, and fields cut out of the side of mountains through engineering and magical feats unlike anything seen in the west. Gigantic highways criss-cross the empire, which is defended by an army said to number more than a million strong, although it is also scattered across a vast swathe of territory, having to defend the southern border with T’u Lung and the Warring States, the Dragonwall against the Endless Waste, the western border with the lawless Katakoro Plateau and the eastern coast against naval adventurers from Wa and Kozakura.

Shou Lung is divided into fourteen provinces: Chukei, Mai Yuan, Ching Tung, Sheng Ti, Wa K’an, Ti Erte, Hungste, Kao Shan, Wang Kuo, Hai Yuan, Yu’ I, Arakin, Chu Yuan and Tien Lun. Its capital city is Kuo Te’ Lung and its largest port is Karatin, both on the Hungste River. Its current ruler (as of 1371 DR) is Kai Tsao Shou Chin, Lord of the Jade Throne.

 

T’u Lung

T’u Lung is Shou Lung’s more fractious neighbour to the south. It was originally part of Shou Lung, but broke away 300 years ago when the empire was divided between two rival emperors. Shou Lung has tried several times to invade and reclaim T’u Lung, but failed to do so; devoting the manpower required to fully subdue the breakaway kingdom would endanger the empire’s other frontiers. T’u Lung has also faced a bitter and bloody internal civil war, which only recently ended.

Despite these struggles, T’u Lung may well be the second-largest and second-most populous nation on Toril, although it is more divided and fractious than Shou Lung. It also has more border challenges than Shou Lung, having to hold its frontiers against Petan, the Warring States, the Kuong Kingdom, the hill-tribes of the Purang and the jungle kingdom of Laothan to the south-east.

It consists of six provinces as follows: Joi Chang, Ausa, West Wai, East Wai, Bashan Do and vast Fengnao. Its capital city is Wai (formerly Chia Wan Ch’uan) and its largest port is Ausa. Its current ruler is Wai Yong, tenth Emperor of the Lui Dynasty.

 

Khazari

Khazari is an intermediary kingdom on the Silk Route, located east of Semphar and west of Shou Lung, high up in the Katakoro Mountains. It is sometimes counted as part of the Hordelands, rather than Kara-Tur. Khazari is a land of trade and religious piety, but is divided by corruption and internal politics.

Khazari’s capital city is Skarou, with the town of Alashan guarding the Silk Route west to Semphar. The fortress-town of Manass watches over the Hordelands to the north. The nation’s ruler is Prince Ogandi, a canny ruler who took advantage of a threatened Tuigan invasion in 1359 to consolidate power and authority under his banner.

 

Ra-Khati

Ra-Khati is a secretive and almost unknown country located south and west of Khazari, deep in the heart of the Katakoro Shan. Unlike Khazari, which lays in a vast bowl of open land between the mountain peaks, Ra-Khati winds between the mountains and lakes. Towns and villages are built around the rivers, streams and lakes of the country.

Ra-Khati’s capital city is Saikhoi. Its ruler is the Dalai Lama (high priest) Tsenya Garbo. The kingdom was invaded and conquered by Ambuchar Devayam, the Necromancer Emperor of Solon, in 1360; the nation was liberated in 1362 when Devayam was slain in Khazari and the rule of the Dalai Lama restored.

 

Tabot

Tabot is a large kingdom located on the eastern flanks of the Yehimal, the tallest peaks on all of Toril. The mountains tower a staggering 35,000 feet or more above sea level and few who have tried to climb them have ever returned.

Tabot consists of two immense valleys separated by the Peerless Mountains but joined by the Lokar Pass. The kingdom is decentralised, with authority shared between the great monastery-fortresses and local rulers.

Tabot’s cultural and trading capital is U’Chan Gompa (formerly Koko Nur).

 

Petan

Petan is a small country located south-west of T’u Lung, along the lower Fenghsintzu River (T’u Lung’s greatest river network) and the Rendah, north of the Intan Mountains.

Relatively little is known of Petan, save it seems to be relatively peaceable but fierce in its independence. Its capital city is Penting.

 

The Warring States

The Warring States are a small number of petty-kingdoms, bandit principalities and tribelands located east of Petan and south of T’u Lung, in the jungles north of the Malatran Plateau. Little is known of the States beyond their unrelenting hostility.

 

Kuong

The vast but secretive Kuong Kingdom is located in the jungles of south-eastern Kara-Tur, south of T’u Lung and Purang, east of the Warring States and south-west of Laothan. The Himasla Mountains form the southern border of the kingdom and the vast Malatran Plateau forms the western.

Kuong is a strongly unified country whose people obey their rulers unquestioningly. The nation has a strong army and a strong economy, thanks to a well-developed system of internal markets and trade with surrounding nations. Kuong’s remoteness and its apparent primitivism hides its true strength. The T’u like to think of the Kuong as a primitive and barbarian people, although their generals are less relaxed about the network of strong Kuong fortresses located along their mutual river border.

Kuong is ruled by the Priest-King Vishnan VII from the city of Ranguri, located on the Kunong River, deep in the jungle. The kingdom’s largest port is Marabaya on the Eastern Sea.

 

Purang

The Purang Hills form a complex highland landscape extending almost from Bukai Lake to the Laothan and Kuong jungles, around the headwaters of the Henai. The tribes of the hills are a mixture of friendly and the decidedly militant.

The Purang do not recognise a single capital, although Kumok is their largest settlement and the White Monkey Tribe who control it are the friendliest and most open to external trade. The unrelentingly hostile Twisted Palm tribe, which controls the southern hills near the jungle, is best avoided.

 

Laothan

Laothan is a large kingdom stretching along the south-eastern coast of Kara-Tur, south and east of T’u Lung, east of Purang and north-east of the Kuong Kingdom. The Laothan nation is actually an alliance of tribes known as the Seng; the Thok are the largest and currently most dominant tribe of the Seng. The Seng people settled down some centuries ago and are currently transitioning to farming and trade as their main sources of income rather than migratory wanderings.

Laothan’s capital is Cheinang. Its current ruler is Thok Lian.

 

Malatra

Malatra is not a political entity, but a geographic one. The term “Malatra” is used in Shou and T’u Lung to refer to all the jungle lands to the south, although this is inaccurate. Malatra proper is the name of a vast plateau in southern Kara-Tur. Almost a thousand miles across, the plateau towers a thousand feet or more above the surrounding lands. Access to Malatra is extremely difficult, with some believing it is protected by magical and religious forces as well as simple geographic inaccessibility.

Those who have managed to enter Malatra report a land dominated by the so-called “Living Jungle” and divided into regions by savannahs, rivers, volcanoes and mountains. Remote and mysterious, Malatra daunts even the most dedicated explorers.

 

The Tribes of Ama Basin

Ama Basin is located north of Shou Lung, beyond the Koryaz Mountains. The basin is colossal, stretching for two thousand miles from east to west and almost eight hundred from north to south. The central part of the basin is dominated by a marshy swamp, easily the largest on Toril, with extensive forests surrounding it.

The forests are home to powerful tribal groupings, at least three of which are strong enough to be called nations: the Pazruki in the west, the Issacortae in the central region and the Wu-haltai in the east. These three tribal nations are secretive and keep to themselves, but are somewhat open to external trade; the Wu-haltai have permitted the building of the great coast road linking Shou Lung to Koyro.

 

Koryo

Koryo is located on the peninsula of the same name. The peninsula is slow to reach by land, as the only existing road goes right around the far northern coast of the Yellow Sea and requires negotiating passage across Wu-haltai lands and various tribes who control the northern part of the peninsula. Most travellers visit the country by ship instead.

As the north-eastern-most nation on the main landmass (an impressive seven and a half thousand miles due east of Waterdeep), Koryo is remote and relatively little-known. It is an alliance of three formerly independent kingdoms: the island nation of Saishu, the Koguryo Peninsula and Silla, the heartland of the kingdom. The three nations were forcibly united by the King of Silla, but subsequent rulers have tried to integrate the three kingdoms more peaceably.

Koryo is a heavily defended nation due to the twin threats of barbarian invaders from the north of the peninsula and the constant threat of invasion from Kozakura. Koryo has thrown back multiple invasions from Kozakura but has also launched assaults itself, once invading the northern island of Shinkoku before being driven back into the sea. The enmity between the two kingdoms is such that no Kozakuran citizen is permitted to set foot in Koryo and Kozakuran currency is not accepted. Koryo does enjoy strong relations with Wa and distant but cordial trading relations with Shou Lung.

Koryo’s capital city is Xi Hulang. It is currently ruled by King Wanang Sun.

 

Wa

Off the southern tip of Koyro lies a huge archipelago of sizeable islands. The archipelago is divided between two powerful empires, Wa in the west and Kozakura in the east.

Wa consists of the islands of Tsukishima, Shidekima, Paikai and Machukara. Wa also claims the Outer Isles located to its south-west, not for territory but to protect outsiders from them. Hidden amongst these islands is the Isle of Gargantuas, home to beasts of titanic size, each capable of comfortably destroying entire cities by itself.

Wa is a peaceful nation under the rule of law. Wa has enjoyed a longer period of peace than any other nation in Kara-Tur and has pursued a path of mercantile trade in recent centuries, with its ships trading from Koryo to Zakhara. Aside from occasional border naval clashes with Kozakura, Wa has not engaged in warfare for centuries and its policies are around continuing the current status quo. How long this is practical, especially as there is some evidence of growing internal dissent by the peasantry, is unclear.

Wa is ruled from the city of Uwaji by Shogun Matasuuri Nagahide. On paper, the Shogun is merely the military governor of the nation and rules at the pleasure of the Emperor; in reality, the Shogun (the most powerful of the daimyo or warlords) holds the true power in Wa and the Emperor rules merely as a figurehead.

 

Kozakura

Like Wa, Kozakura is a sprawling island empire. Unlike Wa, Kozakura is a land of constant, bitter struggle which has been in a state of constant political intrigue, occasionally spilling into open civil war, for decades. Kozakura has unified several times for attempted invasions of Koryo, the failures of which have sparked further internal dissent.

Kozakura sprawls across the islands of Shinkoku, Tenmai, Mikedono and Hinomoto. Shinkoku is the largest island and the site of the imperial capital.

Kozakura is ruled from the city of Dojyu by Emperor Gonijo, who took the throne at a young age. As is his tradition this did not happen upon his father’s death, but upon his “retirement.” Retired Emperor Gokammu still lives and provides advice and assistant to his former heir. As in Wa, the Emperor’s power and influence is less than it was, although the Kozakuran Emperor is perhaps not quite as powerless as his western counterpart. The Kozakuran Shogun, currently Hojo Kawakubo, commands the empire’s armies and wields considerable authority, but he also has to work harder to maintain the loyalty of his daimyos.

 

Note

As with my other maps, this one started with the base map from the Forgotten Realms Interactive Atlas (1999). However, in this case there was an error in the base map, as the Malatran Plateau had been placed in the wrong place based on misinformation. As a result, Malatra as depicted in the original map was far, far too small compared to the original maps (from the Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition “Living Jungle” campaign) and the text descriptions.

As a result, I deviated to follow the solution proposed by mapmaker Markustay a decade ago, of moving Malatra to the south-west and expanding its size to compensate, which worked very well.

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.

A Map of Zakhara

Following on from my maps of the Forgotten Realms continents of Faerûn and Maztica, here is a map of the continent of Zakhara.

Zakhara

A map of the continent of Zakhara. Please click for a larger version.

Zakhara, also known as the Land of Fate, is part of the same supercontinent or landmass as Faerûn and Kara-Tur. It is located south and south-east of Faerûn across the Great Sea, and south-west of Kara-Turn across the Segara Sea. Of the other major continental landmasses, it is the easiest to travel to, as it is located a relatively mild 1,000 miles south of Var the Golden across the north-eastern most gulf of the Great Sea, and well-established trade routes link ports in Dambrath, Luiren, Estagund, Var, Durpar and Ulgarth to northern Zakhara.

The mainland of Zakhara extends for approximately 1,800 miles from north to south and around the same from east to west at the continent’s widest point. These dimensions make Zakhara comfortably the smallest of Toril’s known continents. There are, however, extensive island chains located to the west and south of Zakhara which are generally held to be within the Zakharan sphere of influence, and including these were increase the size of Zakhara considerably (especially the islands of the Crowded Sea, which resemble a partially-submerged continuation of the mainland).

 

Politics in Zakhara

Technically, Zakhara is unified as a single grand nation under the rule of the Grand Caliph of Golden Huzuz, the City of Delights. However, this is less true in reality, where the cities of Zakhara pay lip service (if even that) to the Grand Caliph but otherwise go their own way. Local maps of Zakhara thus show the continent as a single nation with Huzuz as its capital, but realistically most cities in Zakhara are independent city-states.

 

Geographic Regions of Zakhara

Zakhara consists of several key geographic regions, as follows.

  • The Yikarian Empire in the north, also known as the Land of the Yak-Men. The Yikarian Empire sprawls across the World Pillar Mountains and the surrounding regions, extending north to the borders of Konigheim (the extreme south-easternmost nation of Faerûn) and west to the Great Sea at the port of Lipo. The Empire cuts off all mainland travel from Zakhara to Faerûn, although it is centred in the great city of Nathong, high in the mountains. The Yikarians are a hostile race who believe all other species are fit only to be enslaved. The Yikarians of Lipo are somewhat more enlightened and are more open to trade.
  • The Cities of the North, also called the Free Cities, are located along the north-western coast of Zakhara and stretch for some 880 miles from Mina to Hafayah. These cities are built around mercantile trade with one another along the coast and with Faerûn across the Great Sea. The largest and most powerful of their number is Qudra, one of the Three Great Cities of Zakhara, but all are relatively rich and prosperous.
  • The Corsair Domains, a cluster of islands located off the north-western coast. The Corsair Domains are, as the name suggests, a haven for pirates, brigands and escaped slaves. The corsairs profess loyalty to the Grand Caliph and for this reason direct most of their piracy north to the coasts of Dambrath, Luiren, Estagun and Var (although generally not, after several pointed lessons by the native mage-lords, Halruaa). However, the corsair princes do have an unrelenting hatred of the mamluks of Qudra, among the richest slave-owners in Zakhara, and have been known to all on Qudrese shipping with abandon on occasion.
  • The Haunted Lands are located within and dominate the continent interior of Zakhara. They stretch from the World Pillar Mountains south and west to Suq Bay and the Sea of Caravans, and from the Furrowed Mountains in the north-west to the ruined kingdoms of Nog and Kadar in the south-east. The Haunted Lands form the larger of Zakhara’s two major deserts. As the name suggests, they are filled with the ruins from ancient civilisations. The desert itself is divided between different landforms, such as the Weeping Desert and the baking hot wastelands known as the Burning Lands and the Great Anvil, as well as the Sea of Salt and the isolated valley known as the Genie’s Garden.
  • The High Desert is located south-west of the Sea of Caravans and Suq Bay, and is the smaller and less hostile of Zakhara’s two major deserts. Several roads crisscross the High Desert and oases and small towns are more commonplace. At the south-western fringe of the desert lies the city of Akota, most isolated of Zakhara’s cities, which monopolises trade with the large island archipelago to the west (which some hold is also called Akota).
  • The Cities of the Pearl are a group of city-states located along the edges of the High Desert, stretching from Tajar in the north to Ajayib in the south. These cities were fixated mainly on mercantile trade, especially in luxury goods and rarities such as precious metals and pearls.
  • The Cities of the Heart are the part of Zakhara which lies at its geographic centre, most notably the relatively fertile and clement lands around Suq Bay and the Sea of Caravans, the two internal waterways which almost cut the continent in half. Zakhara’s two largest cities are located in this region, Hiyal at the northern end of Suq Bay and Huzuz at the far south, near where it opens into the Golden Gulf. Several other notable cities are to be found in this region, including Halwa and Wasat.
  • Huzuz, often called Golden Huzuz or the City of Delights, is the largest city in Zakhara and considered the continent’s cultural, religious and sometimes political capital. It sprawls for many miles along the Al-Sarif River, from near its mouth to some distance inland. Huzuz proclaims itself the grandest city in the world, with its dizzying array of golden temples, the Grand Caliph’s daunting palace and its vast markets, all surrounding by merchants and residents’ districts unfolding further than the eye can sea. The city’s claim to be the largest on Toril is debatable – Calimport in Faerûn and Karatin in Kara-Tur are both notable challengers – but it is certainly one of the most impressive.
  • The League of the Pantheon lies to the south-east of Huzuz (to which it is closely allied) and consists of several cities unified in the strict belief of the Zakharan pantheon and no other gods. The cities are noted for their conservatism.
  • The Ruined Kingdoms are located south and east of the Haunted Lands, along Zakhara’s much wetter eastern coast. The two kingdoms were Kadar in the south-west and Nog in the north-east. Many of the towns and settlements in this region used to be part of these ancient kingdoms ere their fall and have come late to the cultural beliefs of the rest of Zakhara. The most notable city in this region is Kadarasto, believed to be the ancient capital of Kadar but now a much more modest trading settlement on the Nogaro. The northern part of this region is uncomfortably close to the Yikarian Empire, so is generally avoided. Further north, the overland route to Tabot and the other south-western kingdoms of Kara-Tur is blocked by the vast Sempadan Jungle, which is infested with hostile creatures. The entire region is ill-omened, leading to its relatively low population despite it being more hospitable than the desert interior. The Ruined Kingdoms extend to the nearby islands of Sahu and Afyal as well.
  • The Crowded Sea is well-named, for its refers to both the waterways and the many hundreds of islands south of mainland Zakhara, stretching from the Isles of the Crab in the west to the Wild Isle of Bariya some 1,700 miles to the east and for around a thousand miles from the Golden Gulf in the north to the fringes of the cool Southern Ocean. Notable islands include Harab (the Isle of War), the Steaming Isles, the Djinni’s Claws, the Nada al-Hazan, the Al-Zulm and Al-Qirmiza chains and the distant Islands of the Utter South. Some of the islands are heavily settled and trade with the mainland, some are wild and untouched by civilisation and some are home to ancient ruins of unknown origin.

Al-Qadim

Behind the Scenes

Zakhara is the setting of the Al-Qadim campaign setting, developed by Jeff Grubb and Andria Hayday for the Dungeons and Dragons game. It was part of the big wave of campaign settings developed for the 2nd Edition of D&D, being the fourth released (after SpelljammerRavenloft and Dark Sun). Unlike those settings, Al-Qadim was designed to be a short-run product line, but the early releases were much more successful than expected, leading it to be being expanded before a sharp drop-off in sales led to it being cancelled.

Part of Al-Qadim‘s success may have been down to its canonical location being part of the same planet as the Forgotten Realms product line, although the Al-Qadim line carried its own logo and distinct visual art style and identity. The idea of a “fantasy Arabia” fit in with a line of products TSR had developed for non-European settings, which had also resulted in “fantasy Asia” (with Kara-Tur and the Oriental Adventures sub-line of products), “fantasy Mesoamerica” (Maztica) and “fantasy Mongolia” (the Horde line of products). Forgotten Realms creator Ed Greenwood had envisaged his world as not being so distinctly comparable to real-world cultures, so was somewhat cool on this approach (especially the “fantasy Egypt and Babylon” nations of Mulhorand and Unther). It’s notable that Zakhara is the only one of these lands to be marketed separately from the rest of the Realms, with an emphasis on adding Zakhara to an already-existing DM’s campaign world.

Al-Qadim did have one benefit on the core Forgotten Realms product line, as it made the earlier, slightly more cartoonish “fantasy Arabia” vibe of Calimshan rather redundant, so when it was fleshed out in later products (particularly Steven Schend’s superb Empires of the Shining Sea boxed set) it moved away from that influence and more towards a kind-of fantasy Ottoman Empire vibe, which was much more appropriate and interesting.

Al-Qadim, by the way, was supposed to be an Arab translation of “The Ancient,” but it was later discovered that, depending on context, it was more literally translated as “The Old” or even “The Stale.”

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.

A Map of Maztica

After my well-received map of Faerûn, I received some requests to map some of the other continents of Toril in the Forgotten Realms campaign setting. Although a map of Kara-Tur is likely some way off – it would require almost as much work as Faerûn – and there isn’t enough information on Katashaka or Ossë to make mapping them viable,  I have decided to add maps of Maztica and Zakhara. Zakhara will follow at some point, but the Maztica map is completed.

Maztica

A map of Maztica. Please click for a larger version.

Maztica, referred to by its natives as “the True World” and by the colonialist Faerûnians who “discovered” it as “the New World”, lies to the west of Faerûn across the Trackless Sea. It was only officially “discovered” ten years ago, in 1361 DR, by Captain Cordell of the Golden Company of Amn, who landed a fleet on the east coast. However, it is believed that the elves of nearby Evermeet had much greater knowledge of the continent extending back millennia, and the Northmen of the Trackless Sea may have explored some of its north-eastern fringes some time ago without realising it was part of a much greater landmass.

The explored region of Maztica lies towards the southern end of the continent and runs from roughly due west of Amn to due west of Chult and Halruaa. This region extends for about 1,800 miles from north to south is about 800 miles wide. Magical divinations have revealed that the entire landmass extends for 4,500 miles from north to south and is around 2,000 miles wide at its widest extent in the north, and incorporates several offshore islands.

 

Nomenclature

One of the most fiercely-debated topics in Faerûnian cartographic circles – to the point where blows have been exchanged and curses sought – is to what extent “Maztica” should be said to incorporate the entire landmass or if it should only be said to include the southern explored region. This point is debate most fiercely between the merchant lords of Amn, who “discovered” the continent and gave it its name (actually adapting the local name), and the Dukes of Baldur’s Gate, who hold that Maztica is in actuality the fabled  and over-accented continent of Anchôromé, discovered by great Balduran himself, and the entire landmass should be known by that name. A compromise, that “Maztica” applies to the southern region and Anchôromé to the north, has achieved some popularity in recent years.

However, this compromise has been rejected by some learned mages of note, who instead contend that Anchôromé is more properly the name given to a vast archipelago of hundreds of islands located off the north-eastern coast of Maztica and extending to within 300 miles of the island kingdom of Tuern, far to the north-east of Evermeet, and Balduran’s explorations were actually in this region and he never set foot on the continent beyond. The matter remains fiercely debated.

 

Faerûnian Colonies in the True World

Several nations and powers of Faerûn have established holdings on the continent of Maztica but a full-scale colonisation effort has been prevented due to the events following Captain Cordell’s arrival. Cordell’s small army, with its heavy armour, stronger weapons and offensive magic, proved superior to the natives of Payit and Pezelac, the regions where they landed (and which are now loosely grouped as “New Amn,” a grandiose name that suggests more authority than the Amnians actually have), but was less effective against the professional, well-trained army of Kultaka to the west and to the extremely hostile depredations of the Nexalese Empire to the south-west. After a series of brutal battles, a series of events was set in motion that saw the restoration of the exiled Maztican god Qotal, the utter destruction of Nexal by volcanic eruption and the formation of a loose alliance between the Amnian forces and several native powers.

In the resulting chaos, the Maztican pantheon, represented by the god Qotal, permitted the establishment of Faerûnian colonies in Maztica without contest in a limited manner, as recompense for the Faerûnian help (particularly of those followers of Helm among the Amnian mercenaries) in destroying Nexal and restoring balance to Maztica. Any large-scale invasion of Maztica by Faerûnian powers would be extremely ill-advised, as it would also require both a magical and religious incursion into areas controlled by a different pantheon, and only achievable by endangering the Balance of the planet (maintained by Ao).

The current colonies in Maztica are therefore limited, consisting solely of Helmsport (which is essentially a district of the native port of Ulatos given over to the Amnians), New Waterdeep on the Gulf of Kultaka, Trythosford (a sub-colony of New Waterdeep) to the far north and Fort Flame (a colony of Baldur’s Gate) even further north, on the Bay of Balduran. Another outpost established by Fort Flame to the north was destroyed some years ago. Worshippers of Gond in Lantan have also built the Great Lighthouse on the island of St. Ippen, but have not yet established holdings on the mainland.

 

Geographic Regions of Maztica

Explored Maztica consists of several key geographic regions.

  • The Pasocada Basin (consisting of badlands, mesas, buttes and river valleys) in the north-west, dominated by Mihaca, the fabled City of Gold.
  • The Borderlands, dominated by the Faerûnian colonies of New Waterdeep and Trythosford.
  • Huacli, a nation of city-states conquered by Nexal but which recently regained its freedom.
  • Nexal, formerly the greatest empire in the True World until its destruction ten years ago.
  • Kultaka, a fierce nation of (mostly) honourable warriors who defend its independence with ferocity, but are happy to trade with friendly outlanders.
  • Pezelac and Payit, more temperate lands which are united (somewhat uneasily) with Faerûnian colonists as the nation of New Amn (a name which suggests a much firmer outlander control of the region that perhaps is the case).
  • Far Payit, consisting of a massive peninsula, dominated by the Narabatun and Ocostun jungles and the Palankal mountain range that forms its spine.
  • Kolan, a nation on the west coast which blended several Maztican cultures, including the Nexalese of the north and the Green Folk of the south. Kolan paid tribute to Nexal, but has recently regained full autonomy.
  • The House of Tezca, a vast desert extending far to the south.
  • The Chapultelel Jungle, which extends across the entire southern end of the landmass and is the home of the Green Folk, a private people.
  • Lopango, the Land of Fire, which consists of a large mountain range (with some active volcanoes) rising up beyond Chapultelel and dominating a large body of land beyond (which rivals the rest of explored Maztica in size). Attempts to explore this region have met with fierce resistance by the natives. Beyond Lopango lies the unexplored continent of Katashaka.

 

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.

A New Map of Faerûn

Here it is, after an unprecedented amount of work (easily far more than any of my previous fantasy maps to date) this is my new, fully-labelled map of Faerûn, the principle continent of the Forgotten Realms fantasy world.

FAERUN 2020

A detailed map of the Forgotten Realms, circa 1371 Dalereckoning. Please click for a (much, much) larger version, but please don’t blame me if your device crashes or, indeed, explodes in the attempt.

This map reflects the status of Faerûn in approximately the year 1371 Dalereckoning, at the end of the 2nd Edition of Dungeons & Dragons (1989-2000) and the setting and just before the launch of 3rd Edition. This period is thirteen years after the Time of Troubles, at a moment in time when Luruar, the Kingdom of the Silver Marches, has just been founded in the North and the long-running Tethyrian Civil War has ended with the restoration of the kingdom, and just before the long-feared return of the Netherese Shades to Anauroch and the outbreak of war between the elves of Evereska and the phaerimm of the Underdark.

I chose this time period because the subsequent period of history, covered in the 3rd Edition of Forgotten Realms products (2001-07), utilised significantly altered maps of Faerûn which shrank the continent for “gameplay reasons” but resulted in an extremely cramped landmass. Where possible I have brought 3rd Edition locations and lore into these maps where it chronologically made sense to do so, but in some cases the changes (such as the swapping of two rivers in the Great Dale) made it impossible to reconcile them. The 4th Edition of the setting (2008-13) moved the timeline much further into the future and destroyed much of the prior setting in a cataclysmic event known as the Spellplague, which to be frank I was not a fan of. 5th Edition (2014-present) has reversed many of these changes but, so far, no new map fully depicting the continent has been published revealing the state of Faerûn in 5th Edition. What is clear from the partial maps published so far that 5th Edition has reversed not just the changes of 4th, but also 3rd Edition, meaning that the maps of Faerûn dating from 1st and 2nd Edition are once again useful.

This map attempts to be exhaustive, and those regions outside the Heartlands of the Realms have had as much detail added as pretty much exists in canonical sources. With the Heartlands area, however, it was simply impossible to add every single named hamlet, dungeon, mountain peak and road at this scale and have the result be anything legible. Some other areas of the continent had the same problem (most notably the North). I may revisit these areas in a future, much larger-scaled map.

(Note: the Heartlands is the area extending from Waterdeep in the north-west to the Cloud Peaks in the south, and from the islands of Orlumbor and Mintarn in the west to the Earthfast Mountains and the Pirate Isles in the east, incorporating Cormyr, Sembia, the Dalelands, the Moonsea Region, the Western Heartlands and the High Moor).

This map is a monster, weighing in at 10,000 pixels wide and about 20MB in size. Some people may find it doesn’t load correctly on some mobile devices. Those using computers may find it easier to save the entire map and load off a hard drive for fast scrolling and detail.

Creating the map required the use of many dozens of reference sources spanning all 33 years of the Realms in print as D&D campaign setting. The most prominent resource was The Forgotten Realms Interactive Atlas (1999) by ProFantasy and Wizards of the Coast, the most extensive mapping project ever undertaken for the Forgotten Realms (and probably any fantasy world, ever), utilising over 800 maps to cover the entire planet of Toril in exacting detail. Alas, this product is long out of print and I was very lucky to still have a copy that worked after 21 years in service.

Any errors in locations are altogether my own.

 

Further Maps

You can find the blank version of the map here, a map of the entire planet of Toril here and a map of the nations of Faerûn here.

Toril Final

A map of the entire planet of Toril. Please click for a larger version. Note that some of the smaller names have not been 100% verified by Ed Greenwood (Tabaxiland, Aurune, Myrmidune and Braaklosia are still in some debate).

Errata

Whilst completing the map, a few known errors crept in that I was aware of, but correcting them would be a huge effort. The big one is that I used a large-scale map of Faerûn as as the base of the map, but when checking in close-in maps of the same area, some differences crept in. These were not major, but in a few cases were noticeable (a small peninsula present on the big maps but not the small ones, an area listed as forest on one scale but bog on another).

The Uthangols are depicted as low-lying hills on the 1E and early 2E maps, but as a mountain range on late 2E and into 3E maps. I left them as hills, pending further investigation.

Some locations were named from Ed Greenwood’s extensive discussion with fans on Candlekeep and other forums. They have never been named on the “official” maps of the setting, but given Greenwood’s contract with Wizards of the Coast, they form part of the official Realms canon.

FR Collection

Some of my home Forgotten Realms collection used in the researching of this article.

Reference sources

  • Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms (1988) by Mike Pondsmith, Jay Batista, Rick Swan, John Nephew & Deborah Christian
  • The Bloodstone Lands (1989) by R.A. Salvatore
  • Old Empires (1990) by Scott Bennie
  • The Forgotten Realms Atlas (1990) by Karen Wynn Fonstad
  • The Horde (1990) by David Cook
  • Anauroch (1991) by Ed Greenwood
  • Pirates of the Fallen Stars (1992) by Curtis Scott
  • The Great Glacier (1992) by Rick Swan
  • The Shining South (1993) by Tom Prusa
  • Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting, 2nd Edition (1993) by Ed Greenwood & Jeff Grubb
  • The Dalelands (1993) by L. Richard Baker III
  • Elves of Evermeet (1994) by Anthony Pryor
  • The Moonsea (1995) by John Terra
  • Spellbound (1995) by Anthony Pryor
  • Giantcraft (1995) by Ray Winninger
  • The Vilhon Reach (1996) by Jim Butler
  • Blood and Magic (1996) by Interplay
  • The North: Guide to the Savage Frontier (1996) by slade, Ed Greenwood, Jeff Grub, Julia Martin, Steven Schend, Jennell Jaquays & Steve Perrin
  • Lands of Intrigue (1997) by Steven E. Schend
  • Empires of the Shining Sea (1998) by Steven E. Schend & Dale Donovan
  • Baldur’s Gate (1998) by BioWare & Interplay
  • Sea of Fallen Stars (1999) by Steven E. Schend
  • Forgotten Realms Interactive Atlas (1999) by ProFantasy Software Ltd.
  • Baldur’s Gate II: Shadows of Amn (2000) by BioWare and Interplay
  • Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting, 3rd Edition (2001) by Ed Greenwood, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams & Rob Heinsoo
  • Silver Marches (2002) by Ed Greenwood & Jason Carl
  • Unapproachable East (2003) by Richard Baker, Matt Forbeck & Sean K. Reynolds
  • Underdark (2003) by Bruce R. Cordell, Gwendolyn F.M. Kestrel & Jeff Quick
  • Serpent Kingdoms (2004) by Ed Greenwood, Eric L. Boyd & Darrin Drader
  • Shining South (2004) by Thomas M. Reid
  • The Grand History of the Realms (2007) by Brian R. James & Ed Greenwood

A large number of fan maps were useful in the creation of this map, including extensive mapping work on the 3E version of the Realms by “Markus Tay” and “Handsome Rob” via the Candlekeep forum.

My friend Michael Klarfield, who is working on his own, considerably more impressive, map of the Realms (and beyond) for 5th Edition, provided some useful inspiration and feedback during development.

 

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

As part of my Forgotten Realms mapping project, I’ve created a map showing the disposition and borders of the surface kingdoms and nations of Faerûn circa the year 1371 Dalereckoning.

Underdark and other subterranean kingdoms are not shown.

NATIONS OF FAERUN 2nd Edition Outline

A map showing the nations and kingdoms of Faerûn in 1371 DR. Please click for a larger version.

  • Tuern: island kingdom in the Trackless Sea, culturally Northmen. Capital: Uttersea. Ruler: High King Threlked Ironfist.
  • Gundarlun: island kingdom in the Trackless Sea, culturally Northmen. Capital: Gundbarg. Ruler: King Olger Redaxe.
  • Ruathym: island kingdom in the Trackless Sea, culturally Northmen. Capital: Ruathym.
  • Norheim: nominal Northmen realm spanning multiple islands in the northern Moonshae archipelago and western Korinn islands. Capital: Rogarsheim on the island of Norland.
  • Moonshae: large kingdom spanning most of the Moonshae Isles. Culturally a blending of the native Ffolk, Northmen and elves. Capital: Caer Callidyrr on the island of Alaron. Ruler: High Queen Alicia Kendrick.
  • Mintarn: notorious “pirate kingdom” located east of the Moonshaes, in the Sea of Swords. Culturally a blending of people from all over Faerûn, although Northmen  Capital: Mintarn. Ruler: Tyrant Tarnheel Embuirhan.
  • Orlumbor: a tiny kingdom located on a small island off the Sword Coast of Faerûn. Highly influential due to its excellent dockyards and shipbuilding facilities, and natural defences which make raids difficult. Capital: Orlumbor. Ruler: Tulgar Wrightsson.
  • Waterdeep: the largest city-state of Faerûn north of Calimshan, wielding immense and near-unmatched political power over a vast swathe of the continent. In recent years Waterdeep’s power has expanded to encompass most of the lands within a hundred miles of the city, and its political power (via the Lords’ Alliance, which extends as far as Neverwinter, Luruar and Baldur’s Gate) is much greater. Capital: Waterdeep. Ruler: Open Lord Piergeiron Paladinson (representing the Council of the Lords of Waterdeep).
  • Luruar: also called the Realm of the Silver Marches, Luruar is the newest kingdom of Faerûn, founded in the past two years as an alliance of several major human, elven and dwarven petty-kingdoms, city-states and townships in the region known as the North. Capital: Silverymoon. Ruler: Lady Alustriel Silverhand (representing the Council of Luruar).
  • Hartsvale: an isolated and relatively little-known human kingdom, located on the far side of the Ice Spires and Ice Mountains from Luruar, with the Endless Ice Sea to the north and the High Ice to the east. Cold and inhospitable, frequently ravaged by hostile giant and ogre raids, it nevertheless endures. Capital: Hartwick Castle. Ruler: King Tavis Burdun and Queen Brianna Burdun.
  • Evereska: the most powerful elven nation still extant in Faerûn, located on the western fringes of the Great Desert Anauroch in a series of valleys and hill chains far from civilisation. More than 21,000 elves live in Evereska. Capital: Evereska. Ruler: the High Elders.
  • Evermeet: the most powerful elven nation on all Toril, located on a large island in the Trackless Sea over a thousand miles to the west of Moonshae. Over a million and a half elves live in Evermeet, representing the overwhelming majority of the elven race still alive on the planet. Evermeet is the destination of those elves seeking to leave the mainland and find a peaceful home elsewhere. Capital: Leuthilspar. Ruler: Queen Amlaruil Moonflower.
  • Cormyr: a powerful human kingdom under the rule of law, located at the far western end of the Sea of Fallen Stars (on the Lake of Dragons) and extending north to the Great Desert of Anauroch. The Storm Horn and Thunder Peak mountain ranges protect Cormyr’s borders. Cormyr is both militarily and economically powerful. It has uneasy relations with Sembia to the east. Capital: Suzail. Ruler: King Azoun Obarskyr IV.
  • Sembia: a large and rich trading nation to the east of Cormyr, stretching along much of the north-western coast of the Sea of Fallen Stars. Sembia is less of a single kingdom and more of an alliance of several semi-independent city-states. Its fractiousness has so far prevented Sembia from exerting greater influence over the region. Capital: Ordulin. Ruler: Overmaster Elduth Yarmmaster and the Sembian Merchants’ Council.
  • Impiltur: a feudal kingdom located on the north-eastern coast of the Sea of Fallen Stars. Capital: Lyrabar. Ruler: King Imbrar II of the Heltharn Dynasty.
  • Damara: a fractious feudal kingdom located north of Impiltur, at the feet of the Great Glacier. The kingdom was divided into baronies and duchies constantly feuding with one another. During the Bloodstone Wars, when the kingdom was invaded by Zhengyi the Witch-King and his army out of Vaasa, the nation was saved by the paladin Gareth Dragonsbane, who subsequently unified the country. Capital: Heliogabalus. Ruler: King Gareth Dragonsbane.
  • Vaasa: a region of bandits and hostile human and goblin tribes at the feet of the Great Glacier. Unified by the Witch-King Zhengyi ere his defeat in the Bloodstone Wars. Only debateably still a nation, although the rulers of the town of Telos have made some efforts to keep the unity of Zhengyi going to encourage trade. Capital: Telos (formerly Castle Perilous). Ruler: none acknowledged.
  • Narfell: home to the Nars, a nomadic race of herders and warriors, who range over vast lands along the Great Glacier and extending as far as the Lake of Tears. Capital: Bildoobaris. Ruler: Thalaman Harthgroth, spokesman for the Tribal Council of Narfell.
  • Sossal: a large but extremely remote kingdom, located on the far side of the Great Glacier along the Great Ice Sea. Extremely enigmatic. Capital: unknown, although Naupau is the only known trading settlement. The inland city of Sundice may be the capital. Ruler: unknown, although it is known that the last King of Sossal died some sixty years ago. How the nation has been ruled since then is unknown.
  • Thesk: a loosely-allied trading confederation (consisting of the towns and cities of Culmaster, Phent, Inkra, Phsant, Tammar and Two-Stars, but strongly influenced by the nearby city-state of Telflamm) stretching from the Sea of Fallen Stars eastwards to Ashane, the Lake of Tears. Noted as being the battleground for the Tuigan Invasion and the subsequent Great Crusade in response to it. Much of eastern Thesk has still not yet been repopulated. Capital: none. Government: merchant oligarchy.
  • Rashemen: a formidable kingdom located between the Lake of Tears, Lake Musantir and the High Country, on what some consider to be the eastern edge of Faerûn. The nation consists of “barbarian” warriors of formidable repute allied to the Witches of Rashemen, magic-users of impressive power. They are united in their opposition to Thay to the south. Capital: Immilmar. Ruler: Iron Lord Hyarmon Hussilthar.
  • Thay: arguably the most ill-omened nation of Faerûn, the homeland of the “Red Wizards” and their hordes of goblinoid and undead minions. Thay’s power is kept in check only by the combined antagonism of its neighbours, particularly Rashemen, Aglarond and Mulhorand. Capital: Eltabbar. Ruler: the Council of Zulkirs (of whom the most powerful is Szass Tam, Zulkir of Necromancy).
  • Aglarond: a peaceful, relatively tranquil nation of farmers, elves and half-elves located between the Yuirwood and the Sea of Fallen Stars. Ruled by the Simbul, possibly the most powerful sorceress in the Realms. A sworn enemy of Thay to the east. Capital: Velprintalar. Ruler: the Simbul.
  • Mulhorand: the most ancient, still-extant human kingdom of Faerûn, a kingdom of pyramids, undead and strange gods, located along the Alamber Sea and extending inland to Raurin, the Great Dust Desert. Still powerful but often quiet, Mulhorand is described as a sleeping giant whose power even the Red Wizards hesitate to provoke. Capital: Skuld, the City of Shadows. Ruler: Pharaoh Horustep III.
  • Murghôm: a former vassal of Mulhorand, located to the east of the Ganathwood and north of the Rauthenflow. Murghôm is a powerful and populous kingdom, frequently clashing with Semphar to the east. Capital: Murghyr. Ruler: King Tharmakkas IV.
  •  Semphar: another former vassal of Mulhorand’s, located to the east of Murghôm and Brightstar Lake. Semphar is one of the eastern-most kingdoms of Faerûn, located hard against the borders of the continent of Kara-Tur (which lie to the east, beyond the vast Yehimal mountain chains) and the Raurin Desert to the south. It is a nation primarily concerned with trade, taking advantage of its position at the junction of two continents. Capital: Dhaztanar. Ruler: Caliph Abu Bakr.
  • Unther: an ancient empire, rival to Mulhorand, located across the Alamber Sea to the west and north of the vast plains of the Shaar. For many centuries Unther was a tyrannical empire under the rule of the God-King Gilgeam. Gilgeam was recently destroyed by the draconic goddess Tiamat, but she was badly wounded in the process and unable to conquer the realm. Capital: Unthalass. Ruler: none, each city is fending for itself until a new ruler can unite the nation.
  • Threskel: a small kingdom located along the south-eastern arm of the Sea of Fallen Stars. A former vassal of Unther, Threskel was wrested from its control by a powerful blue dragon, now a dracolich and still nominally the realm’s ruler. Capital: Mourktar. Ruler: Alasklerbanbastos the Blue, a dracolich of impressive power. An appointed county deals with the mundanities of ruling the nation.
  • Chessenta: a former vassal of Unther, now arguably more powerful than its parent kingdom. Chessenta is located along the southern coast of the Sea of Fallen Stars and is more of a union of extremely rich city-states than a single kingdom The cities feud with one another as much as they do outsiders. Capital: nominally Luthcheq. Ruler: nominally Tchazzar, Father of Chessenta, although he has been missing for many years. In practice each city has its own ruler.
  • Chondath: a formerly extremely powerful empire located along the Vilhon Reach, much reduced in recent years to a trading nation following centuries of civil conflict and war with the elves of the neighbouring Chondalwood. Capital: Arrabar. Ruler: Lord Eles Wianar.
  • Sespech: formerly a vassal of Chondath’s, now broken away. Capital: Ormpetarr. Ruler: Baron Aldorn Thuragar.
  • Turmish: a powerful and influential kingdom on the southern coast of the Sea of Fallen Stars, heavily defended thanks to being surrounded on all landward sides by mountains. Famed for its mercantile power. Capital: Alaghôn. Ruler: Lord Herengar, representing the Assembly of Stars.
  • Amn: one of the richest kingdoms of Faerûn, thanks to its discovery and colonisation of the continent of Maztica across the Trackless Sea some ten years ago. Currently engaged in a protracted and bitter war with ogres and giants to the south-west, who are besieging the port of Murann. Capital: Athkatla. Ruler: the Council of Six.
  • Tethyr: a large feudal kingdom in the south-west of Faerûn. Recovering from a lengthy civil war. Capital: Darromar. Ruler: Queen Zaranda Star Rhindaun and King Haedrak III Rhindaun.
  • Calimshan: a mercantile and trading nation, at times the most populous nation of Faerûn and one of the most powerful and ancient, with a history extending back some 7,000 years. Its capital Calimport, is the most populous city in Faerûn. Capital: Calimport. Ruler: Syl-Pasha Ralan el Pesarkhal.
  • Lantan: an island kingdom in the Trackless Sea, just off the coast of Chult. Noted for its industry and high technology compared to the rest of Faerûn. Inhabited primarily by humans and gnomes. Capital: Sambar. Ruler: the Ayrorch (a ruling council of twelve members).
  • Tharsult: an island kingdom in the Shining Sea, located between Calimshan and the city-states of the Chultan Peninsula. It has a reputation for shady dealings. Capital: Urbeth.
  • Nimbral: an island kingdom located on the border between the Trackless Sea (to the north and west) and the Great Sea (to the south and east). Extremely remote and mystery, jealously guarding its independence and security. Capital: Selpiir. Rulers: the Nimbral Lords.
  • Lapaliiya: also called the Lapal League, a confederation of city-states on the south-eastern shores of the Shining Sea, joined together for mutual trade and defence. Capital: Sheirtalar. Rulers: the Grand Council, made up of representatives of each city. The Overking of Sheirtalar (currently Shaliim Wyrmslayer) is by tradition the most powerful of the Council, but only as a first among equals.
  • Tashalar: a rich mercantile nation famed for its wine, located on the southern coast of the Shining Sea on the edge of the Mhair Jungle. Capital: Tashluta. Government: merchant oligarchy.
  • Thindol: a mercantile kingdom dominating the middle of the Chultan Peninsula, between the Mhair Jungle to the east and the Jungles of Chult to the north-west, enriched by having good harbours on both the Shining Sea to the north and the Great Sea to the south. Capital: Thindar. Government: merchant council.
  • Samarach: a highly paranoid and reclusive nation located on the south coast of the Chultan Peninsula. The kingdom has virtually no contact with the outside world, aside from very limited trade with neighbouring Thindol. Samarach is believed to be a mainland vassal of Nimbral which now has strained relations with the motherland. Capital: Samargol. Ruler: monarchy, current ruler unknown.
  • Halruaa: one of the most fabled lands in all Faerûn, a kingdom of wizards and airships where magic and sorcery is practised on a scale unmatched elsewhere in Faerûn and probably the world. Sealed behind towering mountain ranges, Halruaa is a land of wonders and riches beyond compare. Capital: Halarahh. Government: the Council of Elders.
  • Dambrath: a large and notable kingdom of the Shining South, stretching from the Forest of Amtar in the north to the Bay of Dancing Dolphins. Its people are a curious mix of human and drow blood, and its religion a strange blend worshipping both drow and human gods, particularly Lolth and Loviatar. The nation has a fell reputation, but is also disciplined and lawful. The kingdom has a strong trade relationship with surrounding kingdoms and even the continent of Zakhara to the south-east, across the Shining Sea. Population: Cathyr. Ruler: Queen Hasafir Hazm’cri.
  • Luiren: the famed kingdom of halflings, located between the Toadsquat Mountains and the Luirenstrand, an inlet of the Great Sea. Capital: Beluir. Ruler: Autocrat Faran Ferromar.
  • Estagund: one of the Shining Lands, a powerful trading nation on the Great Sea, formerly allied with its neighbours Var to the east and Durpar to the north-east. Capital: Chavyondat. Ruler: hereditary monarch
  • Var: also called Var the Golden, for its golden beaches and the small deserts located in the interior. A trading nation on the Great Sea, guarding the entrance to the Golden Water. Sometimes accounted the south-easternmost nation of Faerûn, due to the debatable nature of the Utter East kingdoms beyond. Capital: Pyratar. Government: hereditary monarchy.
  • Durpar: the most powerful of the Shining Lands and the most powerful kingdom south of the Raurin Desert and east of Halruaa. It is located on and around the Golden Water. Capital: Heldapan. Government: The Council of Merchants.
  • Veldorn: not so much a nation as the absence of a nation, Veldorn is often called the Beastlands. An accumulation of dead cities and ruins dating from the time of the Imaskari Empire, as well as more recent territory seized from Durpar and Estagund. Occasionally the region is united by a particularly powerful entity, but only with great difficulty.
  • Ulgarth: the most well-known kingdom of the “Utter East,” the lands located south and east of the Golden Water and Raurin Desert which are only really counted as part of Faerûn because the continent of Kara-Tur lies further east, beyond the Yehimal, and Zakhara much further to the south, beyond the World Pillar Mountains. Capital: Orvyltar. Ruler: King Drasna Bluemantle.
  • Parsanic: an alliance of five city-states on the Great Sea, south of Ulgarth. Little is known of them.
  • Edenvale: a mysterious kingdom east of Ulgarth and Parsanic, in the foothills of the towering Yehimal. The kingdom appears to have been settled by Ffolk and Northmen of the Moonshae Isles; how they travelled so far from their homeland remains unclear. Capital: Edenvale Castle. Ruler: Queen Rosalind.
  • Doegan:  mysterious kingdom south of Parsanic and Edenvale, on the Great Sea. Capital: Eldrinpar. Ruler: hereditary monarch.
  • Konigheim: the south-eastern most kingdom of the Faerûn continent. Inhabited by descendants of the Northmen, apparently transported from the Trackless Sea centuries ago. Capital: Konigheim. Ruler: warlord.

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.

A Map of Jack Vance’s Elder Isles

In ancient days, ere they sank beneath the waves, the Elder Isles were the last remaining source of magic in the world and the home of the ancestors of Uther Pendragon, long before his son created the great kingdom of Camelot in the south-west of Britain.

Lyonesse

A map of the Elder Isles and surrounding lands. Please click for a larger version.

The archipelago lay north of Galicia; west of Armorica and Aquitaine; south-west of Kernow, Ennor (that flooded island now called Scilly) and Britain; and south of Ireland. The largest island was Hybras, recorded in some histories as Hybrasil or Hy-Brasil, larger than Ireland but smaller than Britain. To the north lay small Achlach; to the west Skaghane and the other islands claimed by the Ska (Frehane, Hoar, Noar, Bregma and Maushelda); the Isles of Terns to the south; and to the south-east lay the great islands of Troicinet and Dascinet (and small Scola between).

Hybras was chief of the Elder Isles in size and the most divided in political power. To the west, along the coastal plain, lay North Ulfland and South Ulfland. These kingdoms were much-ravaged by the Ska, especially in the north. The tall Teach Tac Teach Mountains divided the coastal plain from the interior, which was dominated by the vast and forbidding Forest of Tantrevalles, where for centuries uncounted dwelt the fairy folk and other creatures of magic.

The southern half of the forest was claimed by Lyonesse, the most militarily powerful and populous of the all the kingdoms of the archipelago. Lyonesse extended to the south coast, along the sea known as the Lir, and far up the east coast to north of Balt Bay. North-east of Lyonesse lay the small kingdoms surrounding the Gulf of Caduz: Blaloc, Pomperol and Caduz itself. North of these kingdoms lay the great nation of Dahaut, rival to Lyonesse, with its capital at storied Avallon. North of Dahaut lay Godelia, a large and powerful kingdom whose ambitions were oriented to the north, where constant raids by the Ska and the Celts concerned them.

Troicinet was the chief naval power of the Elder Isles, much concerned with trade. Dascinet was its great rival, but both nations combined were no match for the land might of Lyonesse. However, as long as their navies ruled the Lir, Lyonesse (whose own naval power was modest) was no threat.

The rise of King Casmir to the throne of Lyonesse, and his well-known intentions to unite the kingdoms under his rule, sparked a major period of unrest, of which more is related in Jack Vance’s excellent historical chronicle, The Lyonesse Trilogy (Suldrun’s Garden, The Green Pearl, Madouc).

 

The Kings and Their Courts

King Oriante of South Ulfland, ruling (nominally) from the castle Sfan Sfeg near the city of Oäldes.

King Casmir of Lyonesse, ruling from the castle Haidion in Lyonesse Town.

King Milo of Blaloc.

King Deuel of Pomperol, ruling from his summer palace at Alcantade and the city of Gargano.

King Audry of Dahaut, ruling from the castle Falu Ffail outside the city of Avallon.

King Dartweg of Godelia, ruling from the city of Cluggach.

King Gax, former ruler of North Ulfland from the castle Jehaundel in the city of Xounges, but now in hiding from the Ska.

 

Orders of Fairies, in levels of power and influence

Sandestins.

Fairies, Falloys, Goblins, Imps, Skaks.

Halflings, Giants, Ogres, Trolls.

Merrihews, Willawen, Hyslop, Quists, Darklings.

 

Sources

The Lyonesse Trilogy omnibus published by Gollancz and the 1994 paperback editions from HarperCollins, which have their own maps.

Daniel Hasenbos’s fine map of the Elder Isles for the Design Mechanism’s Lyonesse Roleplaying Game.

Spatterlight Press’s great, if more stylised, colour map of the setting.

I am currently rereading the trilogy and will update the map once I’m done with new locations.

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