In this series I will be looking at each of the individual nations of Faerûn in turn, in alphabetical order. This series is based around the status of each nation as of 1371-72 Dalereckoning (at the end of D&D 2nd Edition and the start of 3rd Edition). The maps are drawn from The Forgotten Realms Interactive Atlas CD-ROM and their respective 1st and 2nd Edition sources. They are not necessarily current for the 5th Edition of the setting (which is set c. 1496 DR).
- Ruler: The Council of Six
- Capital: Athkatla (pop. 118,304)
- Settlements: Amnwater (7500), Citadel Amnur (700), Citadel Rashturl (700), Coryllvol, Crimmor (35,491), Dark Redoubt (300), Edive (200), Esford, Eshpurta (24,252), Esmeltaran (21,000), Gambiton, Goldspires (1200), Hillfort Ishla (316), Hillfort Keshla (435), Hillfort Torbold (316), Ideepton (200), Imnescar (6000), Keczulla (47,322), Minsor Vale (200), Murann (43,773, under ogre occupation), Nashkel (3000), Purskul (27,210), Quarrelshigh (500), Riatavin (125,000, in rebellion), Scimitar, Shatar (200), Shepherdston, Trademeet (6000, under ogre occupation) Trailstone (700, in rebellion), Zinner
- Population: 2,963,520 (83% humans, 15% halflings, 1% half-orcs, 1% misc.)
- Population Density: 10.93 people per mile², 4.22 people per km²
- Area: 271,111 miles² (702,174.27 kilometres²)
- Military: Varies (largely dependent on mercenary companies)
- Languages: Chondathan, Common
- Religion: Bane, Chauntea, Cyric, Selûne, Sune, Waukeen
- Exports: Ale, amour, beer, caravan items (wagons, wheels), gems, gold, grain, horses, iron, jewellery, weapons
- Imports: Exotic goods (from Maztica), magic items, mercenaries, pearls, siege weapons
- Sources: Empires of the Sands (Scott Haring, 1988), Lands of Intrigue (Steven E. Schend, 1997)
Amn is a rich, powerful and relatively large nation located at the southern end of the Sword Coast. The mercantile nation extends between the mountain ranges of the Cloud Peaks in the north and the Small Teeth in the south, although it does claim some settlements and territories beyond these natural boundaries. To the east it extends to the great forest of Shilmista, whilst the Sea of Swords forms its western boundary.
Amn is mainly located on a series of flood plains, formed by the passage of the large and heavy Alandor and Esmel rivers into the Sea of Swords. These plains are both excellent for irrigation and prone to flooding after particularly heavy winters. Further in the interior are Lake Weng and Lake Esmel, both home to plenty of settlements. Traditionally Amn is divided into several ancestral counties, although these have no modern formal functions and are purely descriptive: Zehoarastria is the name of the main flood plain region between the mountain chains; the Swordbelt is the name of the territories between the Small Teeth and the Forest of Tethir; Meiritin is located south-east of Lake Esmel and contains the Tejarn Hills and the bulk of Amn’s halfling population; and Cortryn lies in the far east of the country and is relatively sparsely-settled.
Amn projects its power across the Cloud Peaks to claim the town of Nashkel at the northern end of Fang Pass. Nashkel is an important mining settlement, from where hardy miners set out to work in mines along the northern faces of the Cloud Peaks. Nashkel, infamously, was the source of an iron contamination in 1369 DR and played a role in the conflict between the Bhaalspawn. In the distant past, raiders and monsters made use of hidden trails over the eastern mountains to threaten Amn when it was a vassal of the Shoon Imperium; the great fortresses of Citadel Amnur and Rashturl were built to defend against these threats. Further east lies the Snakewood, home to druids and other followers of the god Eldath, who do now acknowledge being under the rule of Amn. The Troll Mountains form Amn’s far north-eastern boundary. The Heralds of Faerûn are believed to be based somewhat in the remote mountainous peaks.
To the south, Amn likewise claims territory running from Tarseth Bay to the Snowflake Mountains, territory it has often disputed with its fractious neighbour of Tethyr. This area is heavily contested at the moment, between Amn, the recently-reunified Kingdom of Tethyr and the so-called Sythillisian Empire, a self-declared nation of goblinoids and orcs led by two powerful ogre-magi. Further east, the Tejarn Hills form Amn’s frontier with Tethyr and are defended by several significant hillforts, namely Ishla, Torbold and Keshla. Until recently Amn also claimed the city of Riatavin to the south-east, but this has defected to Tethyrian control. With Amn bogged down in fighting to the west, it is unlikely to be in a position to contest this any time soon.
Amn is home to several significant dragon lairs, the most infamous of which is that of Iryklathagra “Sharpfangs,” nemesis of the Shoon Imperium and one of the most feared blue dragons in Faerûn. Amn regularly pays tribute to the dragon, the continuation of an arrangement with the Qysara Shaani of the Shoon Imperium, since the task of destroying the dragon is generally considered too risky given the incredibly powerful enemies she has defeated in the past.
Amn is a relatively heavily urbanised nation compared to most in Faerûn. The capital, Athkatla, is almost as large and populous as Waterdeep by itself, and is almost three times the size of Baldur’s Gate to the north. The City of Coin is one of Faerûn’s main trade ports and a major waystop on the Sea of Swords. Murann, to the south below the Small Teeth, is only moderately less important, which made its recent capture by the Sythillisians all the more galling. In the interior, Crimmor, Purskul, Keczulla and Eshpurta are all large, wealthy cities, whilst Esmeltaran is a rich port on Lake Esmel, accessible from the sea via the wide River Esmel. Nashkel, Trademeet, Imnescar and Amnwater are not-inconsiderable towns as well.
Amn also holds lands on the continent of Maztica, to the far west across the Trackless Sea. It was an Amn-sponsored expedition, led by Captain Cordell of the Golden Legion, which discovered Maztica whilst searching for a sea route to distant Kara-Tur, around the wide globe of Toril. Amn conquered the city of Ulatos, renaming it Helmsport, and secured an area around it which they call New Amn. Relations between the colonisers and the natives are fraught, with the Golden Legion aiding the indigenous people in defeating a threat to their land by an evil god ten years ago, but the native kingdoms are understandably wary of the Amnian intrusion, especially as Waterdeep and Baldur’s Gate have also seized territory along the coast. Amn has grown even wealthier from spices, dyes and foodstuffs that only originate in Maztica.
The lands between the Small Teeth and Cloud Peaks were once “the Bowl of the Gods,” a land dominated by a huge forest known as the Wyrmwood (of which only a small remnant survives today as the Snakewood). According to some histories, the Wyrmwood was part of the southern domain of the vast elven empire of Shantel Othreier, but by around 12,000 BDR (Before Dalereckoning) the Wyrmwood had become separated from the rest of Shantel Othreier by dragonfire and raids, and instead fell under the influence of the great southern the great elven empire of Keltormir, which flourished from around 17,800 BDR (Before Dalereckoning) with its centre in the vast Forest of Tethir (which in those ancient times extended northwards into what is now southern Amn). Keltormir survived the Crown Wars thanks to astute military strategy, ensuring the armies of Aryvandaar to the north and Ilythiir to the south met in battle to the east of Keltormir rather than getting directly wedged between them. In subsequent millennia, the forest edges retreated south of the Small Teeth and the fertile lands between were settled by primitive humans, although no unified large nation emerged, only small townships and pocket kingdoms, where the ruler’s writ extended no further than a day’s ride.
In 27 DR, Amahl Shoon III became King of Tethyr and Pasha of Calimshan simultaneously. He named himself the first Qysar (Emperor) of the Shoon Imperium. The Shoon Imperium began to expand in all directions, beginning a northern expansion from the Forest of Tethir in 100 DR. The Imperium easily conquered the Bowl of the Gods, founding in succession the cities of Athkatla (100), Crimmor (163) and Murann (212). In 215 DR the Shoon Imperium formally consolidated the Emirate of Amin, the northern-most of the Calishar Emirates, vassal-states of the Imperium. In 227, halfling refugees from the Purple Hills in Tethyr came north to found the Kingdom of Meiritin on the eastern shores of Amin’s largest lake. This kingdom lasted just four years until Ilhundyl the Mad Mage conquered it, declaring himself the supreme ruler of the Calishar Emirates, to the concern of the Emir of Amin in Athkatla. War between the Mad Mage and the Emirates threatened, until Ilhundyl earned the enmity of the wanderer-mages Elminster Aumar and Myrkala Darkeyes and was slain.
Between 361 and 375, Prince Ashar Tornamn of Tethyr had expanded the Shoon Imperium’s borders significantly, establishing the new vassal of Valashar between the Forest of Tethir, Tejarn Hills and Snowflake Mountains. He then led a Shoon army north, briefly besieging Candlekeep and pinning the Shoon flag on the banks of the Chionthar. He then marched north, pushing the Imperium’s borders to the High Moor in the north and the Sunset Mountains in the east, on the very borders of Cormyr, and demanded tribute for those trying to use the trade routes through the Western Heartlands. Unimpressed, Crown Prince Azoun I Obarskyr of Cormyr made alliance with several of the smaller kingdoms of the North (including Illusk and Athalantar) and invaded the Shoon Imperium from two directions, taking the Shoon armies by surprise. The thinly-spread Shoon forces were defeated in dozens of small skirmishes and rapidly fell back to regroup on the Fields of the Dead. Here Azoun I led his allied troops to a great victory, defeating the larger Shoon armies in an impressive display of strategic acumen. He then invaded Amin, sacked several cities, destroyed Valashar and sacked Ithmong in Tethyr. Azoun I turned for home upon receiving news of an orc horde threatening Cormyr.
In 449 DR, Silvyr Ithal was proclaimed King of Tethyr, and immediately declared independence from the Shoon Imperium. Ithal launched a pre-emptive assault on Shoonach and in 450 DR the Shoon Imperium collapsed with the death of last Qysar. The Emirate of Amin declared its independence in 460 DR, forming the nation of Amn with its capital at Athkatla under the leadership of General Esmel Torlath.
Amn quickly established familiar borders in the north and south, with Athkatla as its northern port and Murann as its southern, but in the east, it respected the sovereignty of the halfling kingdom of Meiritin, instead taking Lake Esmel (named after General Torlath) as its eastern border. In the north it also respected the sovereignty of Minsorran, a small realm located around Lake Weng.
In 491 DR the Kingdom of Cortryn was founded east of Lake Esmel, between the lake and Forest of Shadows. Cortryn quickly developed border disputes with Meiritin and by 523 had effectively annexed the halfling kingdom, most of its people fleeing far to the north. Cortryn established its capital at Eshpurta, whilst Amn founded a new capital, Esmeltaran, on the lake. In 600 DR Minsorran collapsed due to economic and political troubles and Amn claimed its territories, expanding to encompass the Cloud Peaks, Snakewood and the Green Fields. In 692 King Brinnaq of Amn purchased all the lands of Tethyr between the headwaters of the Sulduskoon and the Forest of Tethir, effectively enveloping Cortryn on three sides. Cortryn prepared for war, but the kingdom was suddenly plunged into civil war, when a powerful beholder cult wiped out the royal house and seized control of the kingdom. The elves of Shilmista and the Kingdom of Amn found themselves at war with the beholder kingdom, finally destroying it in 757 after the Chessentan mage Tashara of the Seven Skulls destroyed their rulers. Amn finally expanded to its current borders at this time, plus a large stretch of what is now north-eastern Tethyr. It was in this region that the city of Riatavin was founded in 1000 DR, allowing Amn to grow rich on trade eastwards to the Vilhon Reach. However, in 1090, the shrewd King Alemander I of Tethyr bought back the lands it had lost four centuries earlier to help Amn recover from its own economic crisis.
In 1276, the last King of Amn was assassinated and the merchant lords squabbled for power, only barely avoiding civil war. This period lasted until 1333, when tensions exploded in the Great Amnian Trade War. The six largest cities (Athkatla, Murann, Crimmor, Esmeltaran, Espurta and Riatavin) fell into bloody conflict with one another. Thayze Selemchant, an influential merchant lord, ended the war by founding the Council of Six, with each city’s oligarch ruler granted a seat at the table. Thayze was hailed as a visionary, although in reality he had merely borrowed the idea from Waterdeep to the north.
In 1347, after the Ten Black Days of Eleint, Tethyr to the south collapsed into civil war and chaos, which would last for the next twenty years. Amn took advantage of the chaos to seize some choice lands along Tethyr’s northern border and found gainful employment for its mercenaries.
In 1356, Amn, in a highly uncharacteristic move, agreed to ally with the city-states of Baldur’s Gate, Soubar and Scornubel against fiends attacking the Western Heartlands out of Dragonspear Castle. This move angered the fiends and soon massive battles were raging across the Western Heartlands, from the Small Teeth to the High Moor. At its height, armies, mercenaries and mages from Baldur’s Gate, Soubar, Scornubel, Beregost, Iriaebor and Elturel were fighting alongside Amnian forces. Eventually, this army proved successful in destroying the otherplanar forces and driving the survivors back through the gate in Dragonspear Castle by the end of the year. The Dragonspear Wars improved Amn’s reputation, but only temporarily.
Amn was surprisingly untouched by the Time of Troubles in 1358, although the disappearance of its patron goddess Waukeen and the destruction of the popular deity Bane in far-off Tantras did cause some disquiet, in the latter case soon remedied by the rise of Cyric to replace him.
In 1359, the Tuigan forcibly united most of the warrior-clans of Taan and conquered parts of Semphar, Khazari and even the Shou Lung Empire, effectively cutting Faerûn off from the trade routes to Kara-Tur. Although located on the other side of the continent, Amnian merchant houses working with Inner Sea nations to trade Kara-Turan goods took a painful hit from this interruption. Amn was vexed enough to authorise the departure of several mercenary forces to join the so-called Crusade against the Tuigan (who invaded Thay, Rashemen and Thesk at the end of the year), organised by King Azoun IV of Cormyr. With Amn under-defended, the pirates of the Nelanther Isles launched a series of bold raids along the coast in late 1359 and early 1360. A warrior from Calimshan named Akbet-Khrul had unified the pirate factions and now planned to carve out a kingdom from the islands and parts of Amnian mainland. Furious, the Council of Six spent a spectacular amount of gold to hire Captain Cordell and the infamous Golden Legion, one of the most expensive but skilled mercenary armies in all Faerûn. Cordell proved victorious, slaying Akbet-Khrul in battle.
Cordell proposed a bold plan to the Council of Six: he wanted to take a fleet of ships westwards into the Trackless Sea and then right around the globe to the eastern coast of Kara-Tur. He believed that he could establish a sea-borne trade route with nations like Shou Lung and Wa, and negate the need to dislodge the Tuigan from their blockade of the intercontinental trade routes (as it happened, the Tuigan would be defeated by King Azoun in the Second Battle of the Golden Way shortly afterwards, but it would be some years before cross-Taan trade returned to normal), thus enriching Amn. The Council agreed.
Cordell’s fleet of seven ships sailed into the Trackless Sea in the summer of 1361 DR. After forty days without sighting land, the fleet stumbled across a group of islands and then a vast mainland, a new and hitherto unknown continent. After making landfall they learned that this land was called Maztica. The Golden Legion conquered the city of Ulatos, renaming it Helmsport in honour of the Legion’s patron god, and quickly established a colony-kingdom called New Amn. However, the Legion’s penetration of the continent interior saw it raise the ire of the Empire of Nexal. The Legion allied with several smaller kingdoms, such as Kultaka, to take the battle to the Nexalan capital. Through a series of highly complex events (involving machinations of the drow goddess Lolth, the return of the missing Maztican deity Qotal and the destruction of the Maztican deity Zaltec, or at least one of his avatars), the Nexalan Empire was destroyed, but the influence of the Faerûnian colonists was limited by Qotal and his followers. Still, New Amn’s foothold on the continent was enough to ensure tremendous riches flooded back eastwards to Amn.
In 1369 the Tethyrian Civil War came to an abrupt end with the Reclamation Wars, a series of battles which ended with Queen Zaranda Star of the Rhindaun family and King Haedrak III of the Lion’s Dynasty taking full control of the kingdom. A new capital was established at Ithmong, now renamed Darromar, and a great source of instability on Amn’s southern frontier was removed, to Amn’s relief. However, this relief was short-lived. Furious at the riches of Maztica being distributed to the western cities of Amn whilst the east received nothing, the city of Riatavin and the town of Trailstone declared independence in early 1370. They petitioned to join Tethyr and the Queen agreed to receive their petition. Amn began marshalling a large army to retake Riatavin and a full-scale war between Amn and Tethyr now threatened.
This war was averted by two other factions who now made their moves. Lord Imperceptor Teldorn Darkhope and his Knights of the Black Gauntlet, who already controlled the city of Mintar on the Lake of Steam, attacked and seized the Tethyrian border town of Kzelter. The garrison was taken by surprise and suffered heavy casualties before retreating to Ithal Pass. The city of Saradush moved to reinforce Ithal Pass whilst Mintar’s forces secured Kzelter and prepared to move on.
Meanwhile, the ogre-magi Sythillis and Cyrvisnea had spent the prior fifteen years uniting the orc, ogre, gnoll, goblin, hobgoblin and kobold clans and tribes of the Small Teeth and Tejarn Hills into two massive armies. On the seventh day of Eleasias in 1370, one of these armies destroyed Hillfort Ishla and the town of Gambiton before sacking Esmeltaran itself. The army assembling to deal with Riatavin suddenly found itself redeploying to meet this threat in the west and quickly found itself besieging Esmeltaran.
The Sythillisian Empire, as it had declared itself, now despatched a second army to seize Imnescar, Trademeet and Murann itself, succeeding thanks to an alliance with the Nelanther pirates, who blockaded Murann by sea. The Cyricists of the Twin Towers of the Eternal Eclipse also joined the fray, lending magical aid for the assault on Murann. Murann fell after a two-month siege. Amn, in full-scale panic at the scale of the disaster, reclaimed Esmeltaran by launching a bloody assault on the city by both mundane and magical means. Although successful, the battle bloodied the attackers so much they were unable to do much more than hold the city afterwards.
In positive news (for Amn), the Cyricists of the Mountain of Skulls declared their fellows apostate, and retook the Twin Towers in a bloody battle of their own. Tethyr’s northern towns also offered aid to the Amnian army forming to retake Murann, and Tethyr and Amn agreed to a negotiated truce to postpone the fate of Riatavin until such time as the Sythillisians are defeated. When that might be, is unknown.
Amn is a merchant oligarchy ruled by the Council of Six, traditionally the six most powerful merchant-lords of the nation. Their identities are kept secret, as their fortunes rise and fall rapidly and to untrained eyes, the Council would appear to be locked in an almost perpetual internal war for power and influence.
Below the Council in influence are several dozen merchant families, from whose ranks the council members rise and fall. These families own estates, some absolutely immense (like the Alibakkar estates which dominate the lands between the Small Teeth and Tethir Road, and between Tarseth Bay and the Coast Way), which they essentially rule as their own feudal domains. The Cowled Wizards, the only officially-sanctioned organisation of mages in the nation, also wield immense power, although they are also locked in warfare with a rival, underground organisation known as the Emerald Cabal. The Shadow Thieves control Amn’s criminal underworld, which is immense and influential.
As a result of Amn’s almost incessant corruption, the country lacks a strong military, instead preferring to contract mercenary companies to undertake its military adventures. This weakness has hurt Amn tremendously with the Sythillisian invasion, with its traditional mercenary companies reluctant to go up against an army of ogres, giants and orcs numbering in the tens of thousands. Indeed, some of Amn’s mercenary companies have taken coin from the ogre-magi to either not fight or to even join their ranks. Similarly, the pirates of the Nelanther Isles off the coast of Tethyr have been bought off by the ogre-magi to help keep the sea-lanes to Murann open.
Amn’s foreign relations are mixed. Its mercantile focus means it like to keep trade routes open with other nations, but its corruption, sleaze and generally-perceived untrustworthiness makes it a difficult country to do business with. Calimshan is counted as both a possible ally and a rival, Waterdeep and Cormyr are seen as bitterer rivals (Amnians have long memories and recall from history the military campaign by King Azoun I against the Shoon Imperium, which saw much of Amn laid waste) and Amn has a complex history with its neighbour to the south, Tethyr. During Tethyr’s long civil war, Amn frequently intervened to try to steal land, cities or trade routes, and sometimes aligned with one faction or another. Since Tethyr’s reunification, relations have grown tenser and the defection of Riatavin to Tethyr’s orbit briefly threatened war. The Sythillisian War, which has also spilled over into Tethyrian territory, may yet reunite the two neighbours against a common foe.
Amn’s patron goddess is Waukeen, the goddess of wealth and trade. Waukeen disappeared during the Time of Troubles, after which time the worship of Cyric grew in Amn (supplanting the worship of Bane, who was slain during the Avatar Crisis). However, in 1370 Waukeen returned to her former position (having spent the intervening dozen years as a prisoner of the demon prince Graz’zt. This proved fortuitous for Amn, as relations with the Church of Cyric had grown more strained over the years due to Cyric’s own madness and his priesthood’s unpredictability. The Twin Towers of the Eternal Eclipse, a fortress-temple complex in the Small Teeth, had declared allegiance to the Sythillisian Empire during its advance on Murann, not helping with these relations. For this reason, the rumoured and much-prophecised return of Bane would be warmly welcomed in Amn.
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Great resources and fun read as well. Thank you for your efforts.
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X Y said:
Great fan of your works, truly an inspiration!