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

A map of Chondath and the surrounding region. Please click for a larger version.
  • Ruler: Lord Eles Wianar
  • Capital: Arrabar (pop. 61,012)
  • Settlements: Iljak (17,432), Nun, Orbesh, Samra, Shamph (32,685),
  • Population: 1,982,880 (96% human, 2% elf, 1% dwarf, 1% misc)
  • Population Density: 44.24 people per mile², 17.08 people per km²
  • Area: 44,819 miles² (116,080.68 kilometres²)
  • Military: Mercenary companies, including the Order of the Sapphire Crescent
  • Languages: Chondathan, Common
  • Religion: Helm, Lliira, Malar, Talos, Tempus, Waukeen
  • Exports: lumber, mercenaries, salt, spices
  • Imports: metals
  • Sources: The Vilhon Reach (Jim Butler, 1997), The Grand History of the Realms (Brian R. James, Ed Greenwood, 2008)


Chondath is one of the most well-known nations in Faerûn. It was the source of a series of diasporas that made its language one of the most widely-spoken on the continent, and some of its colony-states became powerful nations in their own right, most notably Sembia. However, the modern nation of the same name is somewhat underwhelming. It is a relatively small kingdom squeezed between the vast, deep forests of the Chondalwood and the Vilhon Reach, considerably reduced in power and influence from its former heights.

Modern Chondath occupies a relatively narrow coastal plain between the Vilhon Reach and the Chondalwood, with the River Arran forming the border to the south-west and the River Nun forming the border to the north-east. The city-states of Hlath and Reth to the north-east are independent (and Reth occasionally aligns itself with Chessenta to the east) but also sometimes ally with Chondath for mutual advantage. Chondath has fewer cordial relations with Sespech to the south, which broke away from Chondathan control some decades ago. Sespech is almost three times the size of Chondath but has less than half of the population, territory the considerably more crowded Chondath covets.

Chondath is one of the most densely-populated nations of Faerûn (second only to Tashalar), with the cities of Arrabar and Shamph being large and sprawling. Villages, hamlets and towns pack the Emerald Way, the great highway that runs the length of the nation, and the countryside on either side consists mainly of the farmland needed to feed its significant population. The great forest of the Chondalwood lies to the south and some Chondathan villages extend to and sometimes under the forest canopy. In more ancient times the Chondalwood extended to the coast and, before the Vilhon was even formed, into the lowlands now lost beneath the waves. The forest’s currently reduced size is a result of severe logging, a practice that the elves of the great kingdom of Nikerymath violently ended through warfare and magic. Both the remaining elves of the forest and the druids of the region-spanning Emerald Enclave ensure that such practices do not resume, despite the growing population and territorial pressures on Chondath.

Some maps show Chondath’s control being much greater than it is in reality. This is due to Chondath’s position, not dissimilar to Chessenta, as a nation of quasi-independent city-states, with the city-states sometimes adopting such independent postures as to be no longer really part of the nation. However, control is somewhat more centralised than in Chessenta – mainly due to Arrabar’s inarguable position as the largest city of the region – and such independence bids usually fail. The recent formation of Sespech has been useful in creating a buffer between city-states like Nimpeth and Lachom which in prior centuries had sometimes found themselves under Chondathan influence.

A map of the Empire of Jhaamdath, circa 1000 BDR. Please click for a larger version.


This region of Faerûn was first settled, at least in recorded history, by the elves. The vast Satyrwood covered a colossal stretch of countryside in the south-central region of the continent and this huge area became divided between the Kingdoms of the Three Leaves: Syòrpiir, Thearnytaar and Eiellûr. Around 17,500 BDR (Before Dalereckoning), the three kingdoms met to discuss unification, planning to form an empire to rival the great western powers of Aryvandaar, Miyeritar, Shantel Othreier and Keltormir, and the southern empire of Ilythiir. The dark elves of Ilythiir, alarmed at the formation of a rival power so close to their own borders, intervened to stage an assassination of the Syòrpiiri ambassador by a Thearnytaari mage, triggering a declaration of war between the two kingdoms, with Eiellûr caught in the middle.

The War of the Three Leaves raged from 17,100 to 16,800 BDR and left the three kingdoms considerably weakened. Ilythiiri involvement was suspected, but never proven.

Around 11,700 BDR, with the northern elven kingdoms falling into bickering conflict, Ilythiir invaded and destroyed Orishaar, a rival elven kingdom on the Lake of Steam. They then marched north and east, destroying Syòrpiir in 11,600 BDR in the opening shots of the Sable Wars. Thearnytaar and Eiellûr allied together and counter-attacked, resulting in a stalemate lasting fifty years before they proved victorious, smashing the Ilythiiri armies and launching an invasion of Ilythiiri territory. This proved to be a mistake, as for the first time the dark elves unleashed the blackest magics of their gods, Lolth, Ghaunadaur and Vhaeraun. Invading elves were torn apart by the forests and jungles come to life and turned against them, or forcibly transformed into horrific driders and made to do the will of Lolth. Eiellûr was overcome and burned to the ground in 11,400 BDR, whilst Thearnytaar was destroyed by a host of extraplanar monsters, summoned by the Ilythiiri, two centuries later.

The result of this series of defeats was a massed retreat by the elves to the northern eaves of the forest. Here they founded various refuges and small settlements, but the slow birth-rate of the elves meant there was little impetus to found a new kingdom until around 6500 BDR, when it was decided to found a new, Mythal-protected city. Rucien-Xan was founded and a new elven nation, Nikerymath, was declared.

By this time, the race known as humans had become widespread in Faerûn, many of them brought to Toril as slaves by the djinni and efreeti lords Calim and Memnon several millennia earlier. A tribe of human warriors had settled on the Shining Plains, well outside the borders of Calim’s empire, and then migrated eastwards. They found an exceptionally fertile river-valley between the Deepwing Mountains and the vast Satyrwood to the south, with the Deepwing and Orsraun Mountains providing rich mineral resources. In 5750 BDR, this tribe, under the leadership of the psionic warrior-king Jhaam, founded the city of Naarkolyth on the River Vilhon. Jhaam declared the founding of the Empire of Jhaamdath.

In 5700 BDR, the psionic prophet Laszik Silvermind encouraged the adaptation of the now-forgotten deity Auppenser as the empire’s patron deity. Slavery was abandoned, which was extremely popular (especially with the slaves), but was soon replaced by a rigid caste system which, in some respects, was even more restrictive (at least slaves could theoretically buy their freedom). Jhaamdath expanded to incorporate six further great cities (Lirremar, Golmuth, Gharrent, Mirrindith, Jhouram and Inixrien), giving it access to the Sea of Fallen Stars. Jhaamdath also opened routes south and west through the Ospkur Valley and Broken Hills, giving them access to the Deepwash. It was south of the Deepwash in 5032 BDR that Jhaamdath’s borders met those of the expanding First Kingdom of Mir, resulting in a series of military clashes. Jhaamdath’s initial successes were overturned when Mir allied with the much larger kingdom of Coramshan and defeated Jhaamdath soundly. This resulted in Jhaamdath abandoning expansionist efforts in that direction and retreating to its original borders.

Jhaamdath began a second phase of expansion, to fill out the entire river valley to the edges of the Satyrwood, with Corrant established as the last of the core Twelve Cities of the Sword in 4470 BDR. The subsequent focus of expansion was northwards into the Halondar Valley and then beyond onto the plains. This northern area was eventually fully annexed as the Granite Gates Province of Jhaamdath. Some millennia later, as a result of natural forest erosion and fires clearing parts of the Satyrwood, Jhaamdath expanded to found the Thirty Anvils Province east of Inixrien.

Jhaamdath and Nikerymath were neighbours and engaged in limited trade, but there was also distrust between the two of them, the Coronal of Nikerymath aware of the destruction humans were wreaking on forests elsewhere in Faerûn. However, it appears that the peace treaties and border agreements forged in this time were respected and maintained for over two millennia. By the time Jhaamdath’s population pressures meant that the idea of logging the Satyrwood became more appealing, it had to confront a new threat: the mighty Untheric Empire which was expanded from the east at a formidable rate, eventually encompassing the entire eastern fringe of the Satyrwood. However, it appears the three powers were able to reach border agreements which were respected for centuries afterwards, with Nikerymath effectively forming a buffer state between the two powerful human empires.

In the Year of Overflowing Casks, 276 BDR, the metamind Dharien overthrew the Blade Lords of Jhaamdath and declared himself Emperor. Under his instruction, the Jhaamdathi Navy rapidly grew in size and conquered the island of Prespur to the north, before defeating the fleet of Westgate in a major naval battle. Dharien declared previous border agreements with the elves null and void and ordered the defoliation of the Satyrwood. The elves resisted, resulting in furious battles along the forest’s edge. With the superiority of the human numbers and their use of psionic powers, something the elves of Nikerymath were unfamiliar with, they soon gained the upper hand.

In the Year of Furious Waves, 255 BDR, the Coronal of Nikerymath decreed the destruction of Jhaamdath. The High Mages of the nation gathered on the Eyes of Silvanus, the islands guarding the mouth of Jhaamdath Bay, and summoned a mighty killing wave, a vast wall of water that travelled south and west, slamming into the coast between Jhirrent and Inixrien. The Twelve Cities of the Sword were destroyed. The death toll is – highly conservatively – estimated at 60,000. Many more were injured. The lowlands between the mountains and the forest uplands were filled with water, forming the vast bay that became known as the Vilhon Reach. The destruction was even greater than the elves had planned, with the forest edges also inundated in places.

The chaos accompanying the formation of the Vilhon was so great that several of the gods intervened, most notably an avatar of Tyr and his host of paladins who restored order to the new coastlines. The Faerûnian pantheon also took advantage of the chaos to ensure their primacy in the region: Auppensar became obscure and faded from widespread knowledge, whilst the lesser deity Valigan Thirdborn was destroyed.

The destruction of Jhaamdath was thorough, but not entirely complete. Jhaamdathi citizens, washing up on the shores, established new villages and towns. Iljak was founded in 20 DR, followed by Samra, Mussum and Arrabar in 50 DR. Remarkably, the elves were not opposed by the establishing of new human cities, feeling that the destruction of Jhaamdath was so incredibly recent that the humans would have learned the lessons of their forebears.

By 139 DR, the new city-states of the Vilhon Reach had begun logging the Chondalwood, as they now called the Satyrwood. The elves again resisted, but they were much-reduced from the height of Nikerymath, no longer possessing as many High Mages or as numerous an army. In 143 DR, Lord Anthony Illistine of Arrabar united the city-states under his leadership and led a military expedition to destroy Ariel-than, the Nikerymath city leader the opposition of logging efforts along the Chondalwood. In the Battle of Elven Tears, more than 2,000 elves were slain and the city destroyed. The survivors fled to Rucien-Xan. Early in 144 DR, Lord Illistine declared the founding of the nation of Chondath, with himself as its ruler. Acknowledging the nation’s status as an alliance of cities, he did not take the title King or Emperor, merely establishing himself as Lord.

Illistine renewed the war against the elves, feeling confident of further victories, but was dealt a crushing defeat that did little but clear some further outlying areas of the vast forest. Following this, Illistine and his successors were more circumspect in the use they made of the woodlands. Further examples were made in 267 DR, when the army of Chondath was defeated by the elves in the Battle of Fallen Trees and the logging towns of Timindar and Orbech were razed to the ground.

Chondath quickly grew into a powerful nation, benefiting from trade and its mercenary legions, which it soon loaned out to the highest bidder. In 380 DR, Chondath established colonies on the northern coast of the Sea of Fallen Stars, namely the cities of Chondathan and Chancelgaunt. Just twenty years later, Chondath was forced to send almost half of its army to help defend the two cities from a massive orc attack. The attack was repulsed with heavy losses.

In 389 DR, King Azoun I Obarskyr visited the Vilhon and established a strong trade alliance between Cormyr and Chondath. In 472, Mussum was devastated by a horrendous plague and the city abandoned.

Chondath reached the zenith of its power in the 9th Century, when it negotiated new trade routes wi the Lake of Steam city-states and points further south. The town of Ormpetarr rapidly become enriched by trade, until it became the second largest city in Chondath. However, the taxes it had to pay to Arrabar became ruinous. In 902 DR, the Rotting War was unleashed when Chondath attempted to retake the rebelling cities of Hlath and Reth. Hlath’s Archmage, Whinonas Ferentier, unleashed a magical plague, allegedly the result of a spell dating back to Netheril. The resulting death toll was horrific and devastated Chondath’s military.

Ormpetarr declared independence at the same time, declaring itself the capital of the new nation of Sespech. Chondathan and Chancelgaunt followed suit, establishing the nation of Sembia in 914 DR.

In 1317, Chondath was afflicted by the Plague of Dragons, along with the rest of the Vilhon Reach region. However, the druid organisation known as the Emerald Enclave successfully cured the plague before it can gain ground in the area, winning it many admirers and followers, to Chondath’s annoyance since one of the Enclave’s goals is the prevention of logging of the woodlands and further despoilation of nature.

By the mid-14th Century, Chondath had gained considerable influence over Sespech, resulting in the puppet ruler Ricjolo Tomrase becoming the ruling baron. However, Tomrase overreached when suggesting that Sespech accept Chondathan annexation. Baron Thuragar was elected by popular acclaim to replace Tomrase, who was sent packing back to Arrabar. A widely-expected Chondathan invasion followed, but Sespech’s armies defended Fort Arran and prevented the Chondathans from crossing. Baron Thuragar gained the unfortunate nickname “Foesmasher” for this feat, confirming his military and political reputation and Sespech’s independence.


Chondath remains, technically, an alliance of townships and city-states with the Lord of Arrabar serving as the overall ruler of the entire nation by the agreement of the other cities. The current lord is Eles Wianar, an ambitious man who believes that Chondath gave up too much of its lands in the Rotting War. Although retaking Sembia – now a land more populous and powerful than Chondath itself – is impossible, Wianar believes it is more realistic for Chondath to retake Hlath, Reth and Sespech. To this end he has set in motion various plots, none of which have proven effective.

Despite various setbacks, Wianar remains the ruling Lord of Chondath due to his much greater effectiveness at navigating internal politics and defeating assassins sent against him.

An important part of the rule of the nation is the annual Assembly of Representatives, when representatives from all of Chondath’s cities and townships gather in Arrabar to discuss matters of national import. Neighbouring city-states and sometimes even neighbouring kingdoms, like Turmish, were invited to send representatives.

Also important are the eight most powerful noble families of Arrabar, who also all have extensive holdings elsewhere in the country. As well as Wianar, the key families are House Cauldyl, Darowdryn, Elphaendim, Matrell, Mercatio, Mestel and Rohden.

Religion Trade is Chondath’s lifeblood, so the most important local god is Waukeen. Waukeen’s absence following the Time of Troubles caused widespread dissent in Chondath, but her recent return has seen stability restored. Other major gods include Helm, Lliira, Malar, Talos and Tempus, whilst Ilmater and Sune also have temples in the kingdom.

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