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), as borders have changed and some towns and cities have fallen, whilst newer ones have risen.

A map of the Moonshae Isles. Please click for a larger version.


  • Ruler: High Queen Alicia Kendrick
  • Capital: Caer Callidyrr
  • Settlements: Aithelar, Blackstone, Blythe, Borth, Bounty, Brannoch, Bray, Cambro, Caer Corwell, Caer Moray, Caer Westphal, Caervu, Cobh, Codfin, Codscove, Doncastle, Dorset, Dultann, Dynnatt, Dynnegall, Elyssyrr, Farview, Fenton, Grady, Graystone, Grimstad, Harloch, Hickorydale, Horsa, Horst, Highhome, Highrock, Holyhead, Horstall, Hyoclaatl, Kingsbay, Koart, Kork, Kythyss, Lehigh, Llandrain, Llewellyn, Lowhill, MacSheehan, Manger, Myrrdale, Ogden, O’Malley, Pembroke, Pengram, Pontswain, Regents Field, Storaad, Tetauctaa, Thorndyke, White Rock, Wyngate
  • Population: 680,400 (89% human, 4% halfling, 3% elf, 2% dwarf, 1% half-elf, 1% misc.)
  • Population Density: 9.17 people per mile², 3.54 people per km²
  • Area: 74,169 miles² (192,097 km²)
  • Military: Various local militias
  • Languages: Aquan, Chondathan, Common, Dwarven, Elven, Giant, Illuskan, Sylvan
  • Religion: The Earthmother, Chauntea, Tempus
  • Exports: Armour, rose-gold, timber, weapons
  • Imports: Coal, horses, minor magical items, ore, parchment, silk
  • Sources: Moonshae (Douglas Niles, 1987), Halls of the High King (Ed Greenwood, 1990), Backdrop: The Moonshae Isles (Shawn Merwin, Dungeon #196, 2011)


  • Ruler: Unknown
  • Capital: Rogarsheim
  • Settlements: Arfinnsheim, Arndtbergom, Follebu, Iron Keep, Gudbrandstad, Ramshorn, Skien, Sommersdal, Sordal, Trondheim
  • Population: Unknown
  • Area: 21,250 miles² (55,037 km²)
  • Military: Local militias, warbands, raiding parties
  • Languages: Common, Rashemi
  • Religion: Auril, Talos, Tempus, Umberlee, Valkur
  • Sources: Moonshae (Douglas Niles, 1987), Halls of the High King (Ed Greenwood, 1990), Backdrop: The Moonshae Isles (Shawn Merwin, Dungeon #196, 2011)


  • Ruler: King Hammerstaad
  • Capital: Hammerstaad
  • Settlements: Dalheim, Daryn’s Rest, Graystaad, Rottesheim, Seawolf, Threlloch
  • Population: Unknown
  • Area: 2,750 miles² (7,122 km²)
  • Military: Local militias, warbands, raiding parties
  • Languages: Common, Rashemi
  • Religion: Auril, Talos, Tempus, Umberlee, Valkur
  • Sources: Moonshae (Douglas Niles, 1987), Halls of the High King (Ed Greenwood, 1990), Backdrop: The Moonshae Isles (Shawn Merwin, Dungeon #196, 2011)


  • Ruler: King Brandon Olafsson
  • Capital: Gnarhelm
  • Settlements: Olafstaad, Otta, Sunderstaad, Warlsbry
  • Population: Unknown
  • Area: 15,876 miles² (41,119 km²)
  • Military: Local militias, warbands, raiding parties
  • Languages: Common, Rashemi
  • Religion: Auril, Talos, Tempus, Umberlee, Valkur
  • Exports: Minerals, metals, slaves, weapons
  • Imports: Alcohol, food, gold
  • Sources: Moonshae (Douglas Niles, 1987), Halls of the High King (Ed Greenwood, 1990), Backdrop: The Moonshae Isles (Shawn Merwin, Dungeon #196, 2011)


  • Ruler: Unknown
  • Capital: Chrysalis
  • Population: Unknown, but more than 99% Llewyrr elves
  • Area: 90 miles² (233 km²)
  • Military: The Sisters of Synnoria (cavalry company)
  • Languages: Common, Rashemi
  • Religion: Earthmother
  • Exports: None
  • Imports: None
  • Sources: Moonshae (Douglas Niles, 1987), Halls of the High King (Ed Greenwood, 1990), Backdrop: The Moonshae Isles (Shawn Merwin, Dungeon #196, 2011)


The kingdoms of Moonshae – which are often mistaken for one single polity by those who do not know better – occupy a large archipelago off the west coast of Faerûn, known as the Moonshae Isles. These islands divide the Trackless Sea to the west from the Sea of Swords to the east, with the Sea of Moonshae lying at their centre. They lie approximately 370 miles due west of the mainland, along the Sword Coast, and about 1,150 miles due east of Evermeet.

The Moonshae Isles consist (in descending order of size) of the islands of Gwynneth, Alaron, Norland, Moray, Oman, Snowdown, Flamsterd and Sunset. These form the core “Moonshae Isles.” However, the Norheim Isles just to the north-west (of which Jotunspine is the largest) and the Korinn Archipelago to the north (of which Ventris is the largest) are considered part of the same cluster of islands, and have significant cultural and economic ties with the other islands. Overall, the Moonshae archipelago is the largest and most extensive chain of islands off the entire coast of Faerûn.

In terms of polities, the Moonshaes are dominated by the High Kingdom of Moonshae, which is split into several sub-kingdoms, each controlling one island in the chain: Alaron, Gwynneth, Moray and Snowdown (the part-submerged Flamsterd Isle is often counted among the Moonshaes, although it is currently officially uninhabited). The High Kingdom is bordered by the Northman kingdoms of Norland, Norheim and Gnarhelm. Norland is also sub-divided into several smaller sub-kingdoms (including Oman), as is Norheim (which also includes Canthrell, Llorgh and Graygrunn). Gnarhelm dominates the northern half or so of Alaron, whilst the High Kingdom of Moonshae controls the southern half.

The Moonshaes are divided between the Ffolk (a mixture of ancient human tribes and more recent immigrants from Tethyr in the last millennium or so) and the Northmen or Northlanders, kin to the inhabitants of Ruathym, Gundarlun and Tuern. Some hold this dividing line to be more simplistic than it is: there are some Ffolk living under Northlander rule and many Northlanders living under Ffolk rule. Although there has been much animosity between the Northlander kingdoms and the Moonshae kingdom in the past, they have also joined forces to work together against mutual threats. The Northlanders in the Moonshaes, with larger amounts of land and better harbours than their northern kin, are also finding it often easier and more rewarding to engage in farming and trade than in constant raiding and warfare.

Non-humans are also present. There is a significant halfling minority, mostly settlers from Calimshan and Tethyr in past centuries, and a small number of dwarves, mostly dwelling in Highhome far up in the Cambro Mountains. There is also a highly secretive and extremely ancient elven kingdom named Synnoria that can be found in south-eastern Myrloch Vale, surprisingly close to several human towns. Synnoria has kept itself almost completely secluded from the rest of the world for millennia until it was forced to reveal itself during the Darkwalker Wars and allied with the Ffolk against the forces of the Beast, Kazgaroth. Giants and firbolgs can also be found in small numbers, along with small numbers of orcs and goblins. Traditional dragons are in relatively short supply, apart from the bronze philosopher-dragon Nymmurh who lairs on Alaron, but song dragons are surprisingly commonplace.


The Moonshae Isles were formed in the Sundering, the great splitting of the single supercontinent of Merrouroboros circa 17,600 BDR (Before Dalereckoning) into the smaller continents of the modern era. When the coast broke away to form the island of Evermeet, the other islands of the Trackless Sea and Sea of Swords formed in its wake.

Despite its close proximity to the mainland, the archipelago was not settled until 9800 BDR, when the Llewyrr elves of the Llewyrrwood (the modern Neverwinter Wood) fled the invasion of their homeland by Aryvandaar during the Crown Wars. They established the hidden refuge of Synnoria and remained in hiding even after Aryvandaar’s fall at the end of the Crown Wars. The Llewyrr maintained their reverence of the Seldarine, but also came to worship a local nature god, the Earthmother.

Around 7000 BDR, the dwarves first arrived on the islands, settling the remote mountain fastness of Highhome.

Around 6000 BDR, the firbolg demigod Grond Peaksmasher and his followers arrived on the island of Norland, settling the Jotunhammer Mountains. Around a thousand years later, Grond disappeared for reasons that remain unclear. He was imprisoned under the glacier on the flanks of the mountain known as Ice Peak on Oman’s Isle, and remained there for millennia.

Around 2000 BDR, Malar released his aspect Kazgaroth to attack the Moonshaes in the form of a raging beast. The elves of Synnoria allied with the dwarves of Highhome to repulse the attack.

In 140 DR, the dreaded Shadowking, Verraketh Talembar, arose to conquer the Talfir people of the Western Heartlands. Many thousands of Talfir fled across the sea to Moonshae, becoming the ancestors of the Ffolk. Over the next few centuries, they were joined by many other exiles from Faerûn.

The incoming humans united in 149 DR to found the kingdom of Corwell on the island of Gwynneth. Five years later, the elves of Synnoria signed a peace treaty Corwell.

The nascent kingdom almost collapsed in a civil war, but in 177 King Callidyrr Hugh unified the kingdom again and began spreading it to the other islands of the chain.

In 201, the dwarves of Highhome forged a mighty blade to help defeat the returned Kazgaroth, which in later centuries became known as the Sword of Cymrych Hugh (the sword was lost after his death in 250). After Hugh’s death in 250, the kingdom splintered into several sub-kingdoms divided between the various islands. However, from time to time one king would become powerful enough to rule over the others as High King.

In 256, Illuskan sailors from Tuern and Gundarlun began raiding the Ffolk kingdoms, eventually setting up their own permanent holdings on northern islands in the chain. In 289, the feared Ffolk High King Gwylloch began counter-aiding the Northmen, taking prisoners in chains back to his Castle of Skulls to put to death in various bizarre ways that frightened even the traditionally stoic Northmen.

In 467, many refugees arrived from Tethyr and settled in the islands. They eventually joined the culture of the Ffolk, sharing knowledge of improved engineering and helping build better castles and strongholds.

In 852, an Illuskan fleet invaded the Moonshaes and slew High King Dolan Cymrych in the Battle of Whitefish Bay. By 944 the Northman had seized Norland and Norheim and forged the kingdom of Gnarhelm out of northern Alaron.

In 1356, the Beast Kazgaroth returned and slew King Thelgaar Ironhand of Oman’s Isle, taking his form and inciting the Northmen to attack Gwynneth and Alaron in force. Kazgaroth was halted by Tristan Kendrick, heir to the throne of Gwynneth, and apparently slain. However, Kazgaroth’s plans were continued by Bhaal, God of Murder, who sent a cabal of dark sorcerers to take control of the High King. This plot was also defeated and Tristan Kendrick was proclaimed High King of Moonshae. A final attempt to use the Moonwells of the islands as a way of destroying them was also defeated. Bhaal may have continued his attempts to destroy the Moonshaes, but he himself was slain in 1358 during the Time of Troubles, ending his plotting. This period became known as “the Darkwalker Wars”

The victory of the Kendricks was only achieved through all the peoples of the Moonshaes – Ffolk, Northman, elf, dwarf and more – working together. High King Tristan made improving relations with the Northmen a cornerstone of his rule, particularly overland trade between Moonshae and Gnarhelm which soon proved far more lucrative than raiding. However, during the war the Earthmother had been forced to withdraw from Toril, which proved damaging to the Ffolk’s morale.

In 1365, the Earthmother returned, angering Talos, God of Storms. Talos assembled an army of pirates, sahuagin and giants to devastate the islands (although an attempt to corrupt Grond Peaksmasher after releasing him from his prison on Oman’s Isle was unsuccessful), and also succeeded in corrupting Princess Deirdre Kendrick. Her own sister, Princess Alicia, killed her and proved instrumental in winning the war. Alicia’s impressive fortitude and charisma encouraged her father to abdicate to be with his wife, Robyn, a druid of Myrloch Vale.

High Queen Alicia Kendrick has ruled Moonshae for the past six years and worked hard to build on her father’s diplomatic successes. She has also recognised the newly-reunified realm of Tethyr and worked to build new trade relationships there and along the Sword Coast, as well as opening ties with the elven island of Evermeet to the west. Most impressively, the Northlander kingdoms have entered into discussions over recognising Alicia as High Queen of the entire archipelago in return for getting a share in the nation’s burgeoning wealth and trade deals.


The Kingdom of Moonshae nominally controls most of the archipelago, in particular the large islands of Gwynneth and Alaron and the smaller isles of Moray, Snowdown and remote Sunset. It also nominally oversees Flamsterd, a larger island that was once ruled over by a wizard before his feuding apprentices reduced the island to a desolate wilderness. Flamsterd, his tower and most of the southern half of the island vanished in a thunderous explosion and nobody has been minded to settle it since.

This polity is ruled by High Queen Alicia Kendrick from Caer Callidyrr on the island of Alaron, with Corwell on Gwynneth, Westphal on Snowdown and Moray on Moray serving as sub-capitals, each with their own king or queen who rules that island.

The exceptions are the northern part of Alaron, controlled by the kingdom of Gnarhelm, and the south-eastern part of Myrloch Vale on Gwynneth, which is controlled by the small elven kingdom of Synnoria.

The Northmen control three distinct kingdoms: Norland, based on the island of the same name and sometimes extending to Oman’s Isle (which also often claims to be independent itself); Norheim, which controls the islands of Canthrell, Jotunspine, Llorgh, Graygruun and Rottesheim; and Gnarhelm, which controls the northern part of Alaron. These three kingdoms are each independent, each with their own overking or high king and vassal kings controlling islands or even just valleys or towns, in a confusing web of lordship and vassalage.

In recent years, the Ffolk and Northmen have struck up closer ties, to the point where the Northmen have considered strongly forming a closer alliance and maybe even fealty to Callidyrr to partake of Moonshae’s growing economic clout along the Sword Coast. For the time being, however, they remain wary but amicable.


The dominant religion of the isles is that of the Earthmother, a powerful nature spirit. Priests of Chauntea claim that the Earthmother is an aspect of their goddess (and either always has been, or Chauntea absorbed the Earthmother’s essence after her apparent death during the Darkwalker Wars), but this is not really accepted in the Moonshae Isles themselves and priests of Chauntea get short shrift in Ffolk circles.

The Northmen worship their traditional set of gods, but worship of the Earthmother is also growing amongst their number.

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