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

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


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


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

Trisk (Kingdom of the Purple Rocks)

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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