Some Quick Links


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

Some other useful links:

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.

Malazan Book of the Fallen Atlas.

Wheel of Time Atlas.

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.


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.


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 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 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 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 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.



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.



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 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 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 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.



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.



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.



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.


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.


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.


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.



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.


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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.


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).


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.


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


Fairies, Falloys, Goblins, Imps, Skaks.

Halflings, Giants, Ogres, Trolls.

Merrihews, Willawen, Hyslop, Quists, Darklings.



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.

Fallout Maps

Fallout is one of the biggest franchises in video games, set in both an alternate timeline (where the retrofuturistic imagery of early 20th Century sci-fi became reality) and a post-apocalyptic future where the world has been partially laid waste by a nuclear exchange between the United States of America and the People’s Republic of China. Eight video games in the Fallout series have been released, along with a number of spin-off mobiles games, a board game, a miniatures wargame and a forthcoming tabletop roleplaying game.

Fallout Commonwealth Map Complete

A map showing the Thirteen Commonwealths of the United States of America. Please click for a larger version.

The Thirteen Commonwealths

In the alternate history of the Fallout universe, history diverged from our own shortly after the end of World War II. The transistor was not adopted for widespread electronic use, with vacuum tubes instead continuing to be the primary technology used in televisions and computers, which remained far bulkier, slower and less powerful than in our world, at least until the development of AI in the mid-21st Century.

Politically, a major change was the unification of the American states into the Thirteen Commonwealths in 1969, an intermediary step between the US federal government and the individual states. The Commonwealths were organised as follows:

  • Northwest Commonwealth: Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Northern California, Alaska.
  • Southwest Commonwealth: Southern California, Nevada, Hawaii
  • Northern Commonwealth: Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota.
  • Four States Commonwealth: Utah, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico.
  • Plains Commonwealth: Nebraska, Missouri, Oklahoma, Kansas, Iowa
  • Texas Commonwealth: Texas, Arkansas
  • Great Midwest Commonwealth: Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan
  • East Central Commonwealth: Ohio, Tennessee, Kentucky
  • Gulf Commonwealth: Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Florida
  • Southeast Commonwealth: Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina
  • Columbia: Virginia, Maryland, District of Columbia
  • Eastern Commonwealth: West Virginia, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey
  • New England: Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine

There is little information available on why and how the Commonwealths were unified, their centres of administration or how they interacted with either the States below them or the federal government above them.

The flag of the United States was adjusted after 1969 to show a single, central star representing the Columbia Commonwealth as the centre of American power and twelve other stars encircling it. In 2076 the flag was adjusted to incorporate a thirteenth external star to represent the annexed territory of Canada. However, the process of changing the flags was incomplete when the Great War took place on 23 October 2077, hence flags surviving after the war are a mixture of both types.

Fallout Vault Map

A map showing the known and rumoured locations of Vault-Tec nuclear fallout vaults across the United States. Please click for a larger version

Fallout Vault Map Key

A chart showing the known information about the Vault-Tec vaults. Please click for a larger version.

The Vaults

The prospect of a global nuclear war reared its head following the detonation of the first two nuclear weapons at the end of World War II, in 1945. A lengthy cold war between the United States and the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics followed, which several times threatened to turn hot. Unlike our timeline, the USSR did not collapse in 1991 and the prospect of a nuclear war continued to threaten into the early 21st Century. By the late 2020s, Vault-Tec Corporation had been founded in the United States with a view to building large-scale nuclear bomb shelters, each one of which could house up to a thousand people for several decades.

By around 2045 the threat of a nuclear war between the United States and the USSR had receded somewhat, with both nations now cooperating and adopting a more friendly stance towards one another. However, this period was also marked by dwindling oil supplies, threatening the global economy. Tensions rose sharply first in 2051 when the United States staged a military intervention in Mexico to secure oil supplies across the border, which had been endangered by internal shortages. This was followed in April 2052 when the European Commonwealth (a strategic military alliance of European nation-states including at least the United Kingdom, France and Italy) mounted an invasion of the Middle East to secure their own oil supplies. This conflict was fiercely controversial and saw the collapse of the United Nations in July. In December 2053, Tel Aviv was destroyed in a nuclear strike, sparking a retaliatory nuclear exchange. This exchange was limited in scope, but saw several cities across the region reduced to radioactive craters.

The European Commonwealth itself collapsed in 2060, as oil supplies from the occupied territories only lasted a few years before running dry. Meanwhile, in the United States major concerns had been raised about the nuclear exchange. Vault-Tec was formally commissioned by the United States government in 2054 to build nuclear fallout shelters to protect the American civilian population. Project Safehouse was initiated to this end.

The initial findings of Project Safehouse were depressing. With each vault only capable of holding 1,000 people, 400,000 vaults would be needed to house the entire population of the United States (which was now in excess of 400 million). With each vault taking years to build and costing tens of billions of dollars, this was clearly untenable. The emphasis shifted to the vaults protecting the “best and brightest” of the American population. Aware this could cause discontent and panic, it was also decided that some vaults would be built to house more “ordinary” Americans, but these vaults would also have the purpose of running behavioural and sociological tests (many of a dubious moral nature) on the inhabitants, for the sinister purpose of engineering a “better society” after the war.

The project was initiated in 2054, but there was significant controversy between the federal, commonwealth and state governments over funding for the vaults. As a result of this, wide-scale construction of the vaults did not begin until the early 2060s and currently existing records show that the first vault was not open and ready for business until 2068. It also appears that budget cuts saw the original desired number of vaults slashed to just 122, along with several proof-of-concept prototypes and a secret “command and control” vault in Colorado. Some states and commonwealths also seem to have been far more in favour of the project than others: states like West Virginia, Massachusetts, Nevada, California and the area surrounding Washington, DC had lots of vaults, whilst vast swathes of the country seem to have had none at all.

The above map shows the location of all confirmed vaults, where known or suspected. We know that 122 vaults (it is unclear if this count includes the secret Vault 0, three prototype vaults, a VR simulation vault and a secret research facility in Texas) were completed or almost complete when the war took place. The location of 66 vaults – more than half the total – has not yet been identified, whilst we have extremely firm information on 30 of the other vaults. There are 26 vaults where we have rumoured or unconfirmed information, of varying degrees of credibility.

The layout of the vaults is interesting and shows the dramatically differing commitment levels of different regions to Project Safehouse. Here is a breakdown of confirmed vaults by commonwealth:

  • Northern Commonwealth, Plains Commonwealth, East Central Commonwealth, Gulf Commonwealth, Southeast Commonwealth: 0
  • Northwest Commonwealth, Texas Commonwealth, Great Midwest Commonwealth: 1 each
  • Four States Commonwealth: 3
  • Eastern Commonwealth: 7
  • Columbia: 9
  • New England: 10
  • Southwest Commonwealth: 12


Here is a breakdown of confirmed vaults by state:

  • Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, New York, Delaware, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire, Alaska, Hawaii: 0
  • Washington: 1 (Vault 6)
  • Utah: 1 (Vault 70)
  • Texas: 1 (Vault 39)
  • Illinois: 1 (Vault 1)
  • Maine: 1 (Vault 118)
  • Colorado: 2 (Vaults 0 & 29)
  • Maryland: 2 (Vaults 92 & 108)
  • Washington, DC: 2 (Vaults 53 & 100)
  • California: 4 (Vaults 13, 15, 44 & 17)
  • Virginia: 4 (Vaults 87, 101, 106, & 112)
  • West Virginia: 7 (Vaults 51, 63, 65, 76, 79, 94 & 96)
  • Nevada: 8 (Vaults 3, 8, 11, 19, 21, 22, 24 & 34)
  • Massachusetts: 9 (Vaults 10, 75, 81, 88, 95, 111, 114, 117 & 120)

Note that this only refers to the vaults whose locations are known; the 66 so-far unplaced vaults could be located anywhere in the former United States.


Note on other possible vault locations

At different times, Bethesda, Black Isle and Obsidian have considered making Fallout games set in New York and San Francisco, suggesting that both of those cities have vaults in their vicinity. There have been many other rumoured but never-confirmed locations for Fallout games over the years, ranging from Florida to Louisiana, where vaults could probably be located. Given the density of vaults in previously-explored areas (such as Virginia and West Virginia, Nevada, around Washington, DC and Boston), it is likely that those areas where there are only a few vaults may have more nearby. Texas, Colorado, Washington and California may therefore all have more vaults then the relatively small numbers we’ve seen so far.

The concentrated number of vaults in set locations and only around 122 vaults in total means that there are inevitably vast regions of the United States with no vaults at all. It is likely that the relatively sparsely-populated state of Wyoming has no vaults, and the same may be true of Nebraska and Montana (it is unclear if Montana housed as many nuclear launch silos as it did in real history, in which case it may have been more likely to have at least a few vaults).


Note on Sources

Remarkably, given that the Fallout franchise has been worked on by several hundred programmers, writers and developers across twenty-two years, not to mention being owned by two different companies, there has not been a major canon clash to date given the numbering or location of the vaults (i.e. we’ve never had two sources putting the same vault in different locations). The vault numbering system has remained consistent over the years.


Primary Sources: Fallout, Fallout 2, Fallout 3 (and DLC), Fallout: New Vegas (and DLC), Fallout 4 (and DLC), Fallout 76 (and updates)

These are considered fully canonical sources.


Other Sources: Fallout Tactics, Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel, Fallout BibleOne Man and a Crate of Puppets

The attitude towards these sources seems to very over time, but Bethesda has not outright contradicted any information in them and has still employed them recently; Fallout 76 has several moments when it seems to still be drawing on lore from the Fallout Bible, an internal Black Isle document designed in the late 1990s and early 2000s to maintain consistency between the various games. As such, adopting a “probably canon until Bethesda says it’s not” attitude is best.

One Man and a Crate of Puppets is a short comic created as a marketing tie-in for Fallout 3; how much it is considered canon by Bethesda is unclear.


Unmade Games: Van Buren, Fallout Extreme, Fallout Tactics 2, Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel 2, Fallout: New Vegas 2

These games were never made, so ergo are not canon, but they in turn drew from information in things like the Fallout Bible and in some cases ideas from them did resurface later on or impacted on other choices. As such, this material should not be considered remotely canon, but again nothing in them has been outright contradicted (aside from some Van Buren elements which were upgraded for New Vegas, which was based on some of the same ideas). As such their ideas can be considered interesting, but will likely be contradicted in the future.


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.

Atlas of the Imperium: Star Maps of Dune

Note: I previously published this article here. This version has been updated with clearer maps.


Overview of the Imperium

The Imperium is the name given to the cluster of worlds inhabited by humanity at the time of the Dune novels. The six novels of the Dune Chronicles cover a period of approximately five thousand years, during which time the definition of the Imperium changes dramatically. These maps show the Imperium as it is at the start of the Dune Chronicles, in the Year of the Guild 10,191, almost 22,000 years into our future.

Dune Table of Planets

A Brief History of the Imperium

The Imperium can trace its ancestry back to when humans first managed to successfully leave their homeworld and start exploring the Sol system. This took place approximately 11,000 years (one hundred and ten centuries) before the founding of the Spacing Guild (BG, Before Guild). Humanity initially left their home system in slower-than-light sleeper ships, and later developed a primitive FTL system that allowed them to traverse the stars in a reasonable timeframe, but still achingly slow. It was during this period that the stars within 50 light-years or so of Old Earth were explored and settled. Giedi Prime, Ecaz, Caladan, Harmonthep, Richese, Ix and Atar were likely colonised in this initial period of exploration and settlement.

Exploration beyond this initial cluster of worlds was difficult and slow, due to the crippling low speed of FTL travel. Scientists bent all their efforts to discovering ways of travelling faster, or of even “folding space” through artificial wormholes to travel instantaneously from one point in the universe to another. The latter was theoretically doable, but science alone could not find a way of executing it in a practical manner. Opening a wormhole was one thing, but navigating through “foldspace” to a destination point proved impossible even for the most powerful super-computers.

Despite the slow pace of colonisation and expansion, the diaspora nevertheless continued until thousands of worlds had been settled. By 2000 BG the Landsraad League had been founded, an alliance of worlds united in trade and diplomacy.

Over the next two thousand years, a schism appeared in humanity, one that gradually grew more pronounced. Many humans believed in the primacy of human spirituality and the soul (such as the Zensunni sect, founded in 1381 BG), but others had gradually supplanted themselves with technology and the pursuit of artificial intelligence, AI, the “thinking machines” of legend. Gradually the two sides grew further apart and more fearful of the other, until the only result could be war. The Great Revolt, the Butlerian Jihad of legend, erupted in 201 BG and concluded in 108 BG with the epic Battle of the Bridge of Hrethgir (where a general of House Atreides had a Harkonnen banished for cowardice, beginning ten thousand years of enmity). Billions died, entire worlds were put to the flame, but at the end of it the spiritualists and humanists stood triumphant. The machine cults were overthrown and the development of AI was halted everywhere. Only on Ix and Richese was technological development permitted to continue, and this under strict restrictions. In the wake of the victory, the 13,333 worlds then in the Landsraad League agreed to come together to create a new spiritual imperative for mankind, resulting in the writing of the controversial Orange Catholic Bible.

What happened in the succeeding century is a matter of conjecture. It is known that the Battle of Corrin, fought in 88 BG near Sigma Draconis, established a new primacy, with the noble House Corrino rising to rule over the entire Landsraad League from Salusa Secundus. It is also known that several of the companies and corporations engaged in interstellar travel suddenly and abruptly discovered a new form of space travel, the much-vaunted method of “folding space” instantly. How this was accomplished was, at the time, unknown, save that it heralded an explosion of exploration and colonisation. 88 years after the Battle of Corrin, the corporations who knew this secret amalgamated into the Spacing Guild. The coalescence of the Guild and the rise of House Corrino and the beginning of the reign of the Padishah Emperors happened near enough simultaneously for them to both be credited with establishing the founding of the Imperium.

For ten thousand years, the Imperium swept through the galaxy, colonising thousands upon thousands of worlds. Dozens and then hundreds of Houses Minor arose to join the Landsraad, but the real power remained concentrated in the Major Houses, the old houses which had survived the Great Revolt: Corrino, Atreides, Harkonnen and maybe a few dozen others. Supreme was House Corrino, from where the line of Emperors was derived. Several times, attempts were launched to unseat House Corrino, but all came to nothing. One incident reportedly rendered Salusa Secundus too hostile to comfortably inhabit (the records are vague), but the Imperial Court simply removed itself to another holding, Kaitain, and had Salusa Secundus redesignated as the Imperial Prison Planet.

At some point, it became known that the Spacing Guild had achieved its ability to fold space through the use of a drug, melange, a spice. Its origins were unclear, and jealously guarded, until the truth was revealed: the drug was native to Arrakis, a small desert planet circling Canopus. Emperor Shakkad Corrino assigned the Imperial Chemist to investigate the drug in full. Yanshup Ashkoko’s report confirmed the geriatric properties of spice, allowing those who ingested it to extend their lifespan by decades and improve their health during that longer lifespan. The mysterious sisterhood of the Bene Gesserit, who had used various poisons and chemicals to improve their bodies and gain prescient powers, also found that the spice worked far better than any of their normal chemicals, giving them tremendous powers. Thus, humanity entered a new golden age of living longer, travelling further and seeing more than it ever had before…but also faced decadence, a crushing apathy brought about by the oppressive power of the factions of the Imperium: the Emperor, the Landsraad, the Spacing Guild and the Bene Gesserit.

For thousands of years the wheel turned and humanity went about its business. House Atreides took possession of the verdant garden world Caladan and prospered for twenty-six generations, its riches and fortunes improving until it could even rival that of House Corrino. But elsewhere, there was great oppression. Old Earth became uninhabitable and was abandoned. The Zensunni people were persecuted, forced to flee from world to world. They were enslaved on Poritrin and forced to colonise and work on Bela Tegeuse and Salusa Secundus, and from there to Thurgrod, Rossak and Harmonthep. Harmonthep was destroyed for reasons still unknown, and the Zensunni thence fled to Arrakis. There they disappeared into the desert, becoming the rumoured and rare “Free Men”; the Fremen of Dune.

In 10,111 the Emperor ordered the Harkonnens to take possession of Arrakis to mine the spice. The Harkonnen way was brutal, sadistic and cruel. Under their stewardship, spice production first rose but then fell. The Fremen declared the Harkonnens their enemies and scarcely could any Harkonnen soldier leave his barracks alone without being killed. The Landsraad grew unhappy with the situation, and eighty years later, in 10,191 the Emperor, Shaddam IV, was forced to remove the Harkonnens and replace them with the Atreides. This was a dangerous move, for Duke Leto Atreides had become a great leader, a wise humanitarian, canny politician and formidable general, the darling of the Landsraad. Shaddam saw in Duke Leto an enemy that he had to crush. Thus was set in motion a chain of events that would change the fate of the galaxy.

Old Earth Star Cluster 2020

A map of the Old Earth Star Cluster. Please click for a larger version.

Map 1: The Old Earth Cluster

This map shows the old core of the Imperium. Sol, location of Old Earth, is shown near the centre, although the abandonment of Old Earth has rendered it more or less irrelevant to modern galactic affairs. The Spacing Guild’s ability to fold space and travel from any point in the universe to any other instantly has rendered the physical distances between stars moot (although some believe the difficulty of such jumps increases with range; the Guild Navigators are silent on this), but this map reflects the pre-Guild expansion of humanity through near space, using ancient sleeper ships and then a more primitive form of FTL travel which still required physical movement through space.

Shown are the ancient names for the stars, some of which were later changed. 40 Eridani A, the star of Richese (the fourth planet) and Ix (the ninth), is more colloquially known just as “Eridani A,” for example.

Imperial Space Core 2020

A map of the Core Worlds of the Imperium. Please click for a larger version.

Map 2: Core Worlds of the Imperium

This map shows many of the more familiar worlds of humanity. They represent something of the extent of known travel using pre-Guild space travel methods (although with almost thirteen and a half thousand settled planets by the time of the Guild’s founding, the majority are not shown on this map). Settled later than the Old Earth Cluster, these stars have moved even further from their original names. Gamma Waiping, the star of storied Salusa Secundus, is a corruption of Gamma Wae Ping, itself a fusion of Greek and Chinese nomenclature for the constellation of Pisces. Thus Gamma Waiping would be known to the ancients as Gamma Piscium.

Imperial Space Full 2020

A large-scale map of the Imperium. Please click for a larger version.

Map 3: A Large-Scale View of the Imperium

This map shows a large-scale view of the Imperium, including its most far-flung stars (at least during the early years of the Imperium), Alpha Leporis (the star of Bela Tegeuse) and Deneb (Al Dhanab). On this scale the longest axis of the Imperium is 3,336.58 light-years. Many, many thousands of other settled stars and planets exist in this volume as well.

During more recent millennia, Spacing Guild Navigators have carried the flag of the Imperium clears across the galaxy, and in some cases to neighbouring satellite galaxies. With absolutely no sign of intelligent life arising elsewhere in the universe, the limits of human expansion appear boundless, limited only by the Imperium’s preference for a much more limited form of expansion which ensures control of all human worlds remains with the ancient institutions.


Notes on the Maps

These maps show stars and planets directly mentioned by Frank Herbert in the six canonical volumes of the Dune Chronicles: Dune (1965), Dune Messiah (1969), Children of Dune (1976), God-Emperor of Dune (1981), Heretics of Dune (1984) and Chapterhouse: Dune (1986). Neither The Dune Encyclopedia by Willis E. McNelly nor the authorised tie-in work by Kevin J. Anderson and Brian Herbert (both of dubious canonicity) have been used in the preparation of these maps.

The Stars and Planets of Frank Herbert’s Dune: A Gazetteer (1999) by Joseph M. Daniels proved a supreme reference whilst researching these maps. However, the gazetteer does draw a lot on The Dune Encyclopedia for its information. Given Frank Herbert’s declaration that the Encyclopedia was non-canon (if fun), I had to drop several star locations that relied solely on the Encyclopedia as a primary source. However, his arguments for many other star locations and designations were often highly convincing.


Old Earth Star Cluster

All of the stars and planets on this map are drawn from Dune’s appendix. The exception is Atar, a world mentioned in Dune Messiah as being a low-gravity world visited by the Fremen jihad. The name, to me, is a clear corruption of Altair. Given Altair’s proximity to Earth and its brightness, it is a logical candidate for settlement.

Joseph Daniels’ Stars and Planets of Dune article makes a persuasive argument for “Eridani A” being actually 40 Eridani A. Ix and Richese being in the same system is an assumption based on the fact that, throughout the Chronicles, it is rare to hear one planet being mentioned without the other and the two worlds seem linked at almost all times, which would be odd without physical proximity. Epsilon Eridani may have been a preferred candidate due to being much better-known and a star commonly used in science fiction (as the location of the titular space station in Babylon 5, for example), but it is not part of a multi-star system (thus the “A” is meaningless). Recent observations have also shown that the star is in the early stages of planetary formation and doesn’t yet have any planets circling it, which also makes it a less appealing candidate (for the most part I have ignored post-1965 astronomical discoveries since Frank Herbert would, of course, have been unaware of these).


Core Worlds of the Imperium

All of the stars and planets on this map are drawn from Dune’s appendix. The naming conventions are argued for strongly by Daniels and I have in most cases agreed, although several conclusions of his were drawn from The Dune Encyclopedia alone and these stars (including Rossak and Wallach IX) have thus been omitted for a lack of hard information.


A Large-Scale View of the Imperium

This incorporates the previous map and expands outwards to include Alpha Leporis, the star of Bela Tegeuse. Daniels’ argument for placing Bela Tegeuse’s star (named “Kuentsing” in the appendix) in Lepus is strong and Arneb/Alpha Leporis is one of the more notable choices. However, at the time that Daniels wrote his article, no proper distance measurement to Alpha Leporis had been made. More recent observations have confirmed that Alpha Leporis is more than twice the distance first thought.

Some observers have suggested that Bela Tegeuse may be a corruption of “Betelgeuse” and that star might serve as a superior choice for Kuentsing. However, Betelgeuse is on the verge of going supernova (which might have in fact already happened and we have not observed the light of the event yet), which might have already taken place by 22,000 years in the future, making it a highly improbable candidate for colonisation (the equivalent of building a house inside the caldera of an active and unstable volcano).

All of the stars are mentioned in Dune and its appendix, apart from Al Dhanab, a clear corruption of “Deneb”, which is mentioned in Heretics of Dune as the site of a Bene Gesserit stronghold.


How the Maps were Made

Creating these maps was an interesting exercise. I first loaded up the commercial star map programme Celestia and located the stars identified in the Dune books one by one. I then adjusted the “constellation” function to draw distance lines between the identified stars, focusing primarily on linking them to Sol (Earth) and Alpha Piscium (Kaitain, the Emperor’s capital at the time of Dune). Once these were generated, it was a question of rotating the resulting 3D image until an aesthetically pleasing angle was found.

I then took snapshots of the starmaps and then overlaid map symbols and text over the image in my preferred map-drawing programme (currently to create the final result.


Book Timeline

10,191-10,193 – Dune

10,205 – Dune Messiah (twelve years after Dune)

10,214 – Children of Dunes (nine years after Messiah)

13,723 – God Emperor of Dune (3,509 years after Children)

c. 15,223 – Heretics of DuneChapterhouse: Dune (c. 1,500 years after God-Emperor)


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.

A New Map of the Forgotten Realms

A few months back I published a map of Toril, the planet which is the home to the Forgotten Realms campaign setting/fantasy world. Since then I’ve been working on a more detailed of Faerûn, the main continent of Toril. This has taken an immense amount of time but I have completed the base map, which I thought I would share today.


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

This map is based on the 1st and 2nd Edition Dungeons and Dragons iteration of the campaign setting. Faerûn has undergone tumultuous changes in its past, and was significantly redesigned for the 3rd and 4th editions of the game. For the current 5th Edition, Faerûn has reverted to something much closer to the 2nd Edition design, but no canon map of the entire 5th Edition Realms has been created.

The main source for this map was the Forgotten Realms Interactive Atlas (1999), a CD-ROM product which remains the single most detailed cartographic resource for the Realms. I redrew the entire map using the continental map in the atlas as a basis. In retrospect I probably leaned on original colour scheme a bit too much, but it worked in 1999 and it still works now, especially if you’re looking for an older, more “classic” style of map than contemporary versions (which tend to get very “ornate” and “busy” at the expense of legibility).

This map, thus, depicts the Realms as of the end of the 2nd Edition time period, around the year 1371 Dalereckoning.

This version is presented without roads, symbols or text markings. I’ll be adding those to the map in a future update, but given how long it took to create the map at this resolution that’ll still be several weeks or work.

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.

The Size of Essos, Sothoryos and Ulthos (revisited)

A few weeks ago I revisited the size of Westeros and was able to come up with individual figures for the distinct regions of the continent.

ASoIaF Known World New Mountains

Please click for a much larger version.

In this entry I do the same for the three continents, namely Essos, Sothoryos and Ulthos. My previous article on the same subject from four years ago can be found here.

The values for the regions are as follows. Note that these are a bit more approximate than the regions of Westeros because region borders in Essos are not as firmly delineated:


Essos: 12,193,620 miles² (mainland only)

The Free Cities: 1,507,479 miles²

The Stepstones: 9,817 miles² (all islands)

The Dothraki Sea: 2,435,820 miles²

The Red Waste: 455,528 miles²

The Isle of Cedars: 6,207 miles²

Ghaen: 8,311 miles² (all islands)

Lhazar: 218,750 miles²

Great Moraq: 236,311 miles²

The Golden Empire of Yi Ti: 1,745,162 miles²

Leng: 77,507 miles²

Plains of the Jogos Nhai: 737,957 miles²

Ib: 147,301 miles² (Ib), 16,657 miles² (Far Ib), 172,303 miles² (all islands total)

The Shadow Lands: 566,985 miles²

Naath: 8,022 miles²

The Summer Islands: 40,797 miles² (Walano), 32,085 miles² (Omboru), 112,733 miles² (Jhala), 205,038 miles² (all islands combined)

Valyra: 197,332 miles² (Lands of the Long Summer), 41,195 miles² (Valyria Island), 289,823 miles² (mainland and all islands)


Ulthos: 360,088 miles² (mapped portion only)

Sothoryos: 1,341,108 miles² (mapped portion only)


To contrast with real-world equivalents, the mapped portion of Essos is slightly larger than Africa (11,730,000 miles²) but significantly smaller than Asia (17,212,000 miles²) or Eurasia (21,000,000 miles²). George R.R. Martin has said that Essos is approximately the same size as Eurasia, suggesting the unmapped portion of Essos may be around 9 million miles² in size.

The Golden Empire of Yi Ti is just under two-thirds of the size of its inspiration, China (3,705,407 miles²).

The largest island in the Known World is Great Moraq, although it is significantly smaller than the real world’s largest island of Greenland (836,330 miles²).


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.