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.
- Ruler: Pharaoh Horustep III
- Capital: Skuld (pop. 204,538)
- Settlements: Aina, Delgora, Gheldaneth (172,430), Jhalhoran, Klondor, Maerlar, Mishtan (6459), Neldorild (40,000), Rauthil, Sampranasz (3000), Sultim, Surbroar, Ulzel
- Population: 5,339,520 (99% human, 1% misc.)
- Population Density: 17.64 people per mile², 6.81 people per km²
- Area: 302,688 miles² (783,958.321 km²)
- Military: One of the largest armies and navies in Faerûn, plus allied mercenary forces such as the Gold Swords
- Languages: Common, Muhjuri, Mulhorandi
- Religion: The Mulhorandi pantheon, Gond, Mask, Mystra, Red Knight
- Exports: Ale, beer, blank spellbooks, gold, granite, paper, precious stones
- Imports: Fine timber, incense, iron, perfum, slaves, spices
- Sources: The Old Empires (Scott Bennie, 1990), “The God-Kings of Mulhorand” (Ed Greenwood, George Krashos, 2020, on Twitter)
Mulhorand is one of the most populous and powerful nations in Faerûn, a self-declared empire which also claims to be the oldest continuously-ruled nation on the continent (a claim disputed, with varying degrees of credibility, by Calimshan and Evereska). Mulhorand is an ancient land steeped in the epic myths of the past, when gods walked Faerûn (before this was commonplace) and engaged in epic battles against the terrible Imaskari Empire.
Geographically, Mulhorand occupies the entire eastern shore of the Alamber Sea, extending from the River of the Dawn in the north to the River of Swords in the south-west, which forms the border with Mulhorand’s old rival, sometimes-enemy and occasional ally of Unther. In the far south, Mulhorand claims territory extending to Azulduth, the Lake of Salt, although in effect Mulhorand’s writ does not extend much further south than the headwaters of the River of Spears and the southern foothills of the Dragonsword Mountains.
In the east, Mulhorand’s borders are somewhat nebulous, but extend northwards in a line from the Dragonsword Mountains to the southern foothills of the Sunrise Mountains, dividing the Ganathwood and the Fields of Ganath between Mulhorand and its former vassal kingdom of Murghôm to the east (the frontier town of Mulharahold has been claimed by both nations, but in practice tends towards neutrality and playing both nations off against one another for its benefit in trade). In the far north, Mulhorand’s borders brush against those of its former province of Delhumide, now the forbidding nation of Thay. On maps and in politics, Mulhorand continues to claim dominion over all the territories of Thay, a claim robustly rejected within Thay itself.
Mulhorand’s capital city is Skuld, at the mouth of the River of Shadows. The City of Shadows is arguably the second-largest city in Faerûn, behind only Calimport, and is an impressive sight as it sits next to the river mouth with the famous pyramid-tombs of the ruling dynasty rising to the sky.
Mulhorand is divided informally into four distinct regions. The Furitep or Highlands extend along the foothills of the Sunrise Mountains in the north and the Dragonsword Mountains to the south. These lands are elevated, cooler than the lowlands and home to the nation’s mineral wealth. The Taranoth or High Plains extend from the Rauthenflow to the River of Shadows and are criss-crossed by great trade routes and smaller villages and towns. This plain is elevated and less fertile than other parts of the realm, as well as being prone to bad weather. This region extends east to the vague border with Murghôm. The Menesankh or Plain of Life extends between the River of Shadows and River of Spears, and is home to the bulk of Mulhorand’s population and major cities, as well as the borderlands with Unther. This plain is more low-lying, well-watered and very fertile. More fertile still is the area called the Asanibis, the Great Vale, a triangular region bordered by the Dragonsword Mountains, the Klondor River and the Mishtan River. This area is home to numerous, rich farmlands. In the south, just beyond the headwaters of the Mishtan, lies the Land of the Dead, where numerous Mulhorandi nobility and rulers of old have their tombs.
Mulhorand is more formally divided into sixteen preceptures, each headed by a major town or city. These are: Aina, Gheldaneth, Surbroar, Klondor, Ulzel, Mishtan, Jhalhoran, Skuld, Maerlar, Rauthil, Rauthgor, Ganath, Sultim, Thazarim, Sampranasz and Neldorild.
Mulhorand is something of a land of contradictions. It is a nation that thrives on trade, serving as a conduit between the Inner Sea nations to the west and the lands of Murghôm, Semphar and even Kara-Tur to the east, but it is also a nation that is somewhat suspicious of outsiders and their influence, especially their religious influence. It is a land that is ancient and seen by old and decrepit, but it has a new, young and vigorous ruler who is keen to see the nation rouse its long-dormant military and magical might to expand its influence.
Mulhorand’s history begins with that of its predecessor empire, Imaskar. Imaskar’s beginnings go back to the Warlord Nemrut, a tribal leader of the Durpari in the Shining Lands. Cira 8350 BDR, Nemrut and his followers travelled north over the Mountains of War and settled the fertile Raurin Plateau. In this area they mastered agriculture, settling down in permanent dwellings. They also started to master magic, with their greatest magic-users becoming known as Artificers. By 8130 BDR these had become the first cities of the region, with the largest and most grand, Inupras, founded in 7975 BDR. Lord Artificer Umyatin declared himself the first Emperor of Imaskar.
Imaskar spread rapidly across eastern Faerûn. By 6422 BDR the Empire’s borders stretched from the Great Ice Sea in the far north almost to the Golden Water and Great Sea in the south, from the Katakoro Plateau of western Kara-Tur to the Dragonsword Mountains. The Empire built Bukhara Spires, great portals to facilitate travel across the empire and even to other planes and worlds. In that year, rampaging krakentua razed Inupras, splintering the Empire into the territories of the Upper Kingdom (comprising the provinces of Taanga, Khati, Katakoro) and the Lower Kingdom (comprising Nemrut, Semphar, Raurin and Limia). The Durpari tribes along the Golden Water and Great Sea became a vassal state, never fully annexed into the Empire but also not permitted their freedom.
The Empire was rebuilt, but circa 4370 BDR a terrible plague more than decimated Imaskar, killing around 15-20% of the population and plunging the Empire into an economic crisis that seemed unsolvable. Lord Artificer Khotan resolved the crisis by building two immense portals leading to an unknown world with no knowledge of sorcery. Imaskari warriors and wizards journeyed through these portals, enslaving hundreds of thousands of humans and bringing them back to Toril as slaves. These people, the Mulan, soon became a slave underclass in Imaskar. They prayed to their gods for salvation, resulting in the eventual arrival of the Mulhorandi and Untheric pantheons on Toril in 2489 BDR. For various complex and inscrutable reasons, the gods could not form connections to Realmspace, and instead had to send powerful avatars known as manifestations directly to Toril. The gods encouraged a great rebellion, which lasted over a year and saw the slaying of the Emperor Yuvaraj by the Mulhorandi chief god, Horus. Inupras was destroyed and the magical backlash saw the formation of the Raurin Desert. The Mulan people then travelled north and west to found the kingdoms of Mulhorand (in 2135 BDR) and Unther (2087 BDR).
Mulhorand and Unther fought a brief war between 1967 and 1961 BDR. The war ended with the ruling deities of both nations agreeing to the River of Swords as the common border between their two nations. They swore an oath to uphold the agreement and not break it, apparently sealed by magic. The border between the two realms has remained continuously stable for 3,332 years (as of early 1371 DR) as a result. The two nations also agreed to zones of influence and expansion, with Unther expanding westwards and Mulhorand eastwards. Unther expanded to incorporate all the lands of modern Chessenta, Threskel and the south coast of the Aglarond Peninsula, whilst Mulhorand expanded to dominate the lands of modern Semphar, Murghôm and Thay.
In 1087 BDR, the Theurgist Adept Thayd, the Last Apprentice of Imaskar, rebelled against Mulhorand and Unther. He conquered the northern provinces of both empires (modern Thay and the free cities along the Aglarond Peninsula) before being defeated. As his enemies closed in, he opened a large gate in the Sunrise Mountains, linking Toril to the homeworld of the formidable grey orcs. Thayd was executed but, in 1081 BDR, his portal was discovered by the orcs, who assembled a vast host and invaded Faerûn. The Orcgate Wars saw Unther and Mulhorand join forces to repulse the invasion, but they were extremely hard-pressed. Eventually their gods had to join the conflict, resulting in the Battle of the Gods in 1071 BDR, when Mulhorandi, Untheric and orc deities directly engaged in combat. The Mulhorandi chief god, Re, was slain by Gruumsh, whilst the Untheric deities Inanna, Girru, Nergal, Nanna-Sin, Ki and Utu were also killed. Tiamat attempted to slay Gilgeam in a treacherous attack, but she was stopped and apparently slain by Marduk (Bahamut’s Untheric aspect) instead.
Despite Re’s fall, Mulhorand proved victorious. Horus was able to save Re, somewhat, by merging their essences into a new being, Horus-Re, who became the new chief of the Mulhorandi pantheon. Despite this, Mulhorand’s power started to wane. Over the next few centuries both Murghôm and Semphar declared independence. Mulhorand’s age-old alliance with Unther also fractured after Enlil, chief god of the Untheric pantheon, departed Realmspace in 734 BDR and his son, the brutal Gilgeam, took over Unther and began running it into the ground.
For much of the next two thousand years, Mulhorand endured in a strange form of stasis. Rituals continued day after day and history was something that happened to other, lesser countries. Occasional problems beset the nation – orc raids, dragon attacks, pirate disruption, the brief onset of magical chaos during the Fall of Netheril – but these were usually swiftly dealt with.
One exception to this stasis was the development of technology. Mulhorand pioneered several dam-building techniques to make the most of its long, wide and fast-flowing rivers, and as a by-product discovered how to develop energy from the creation of steam. Several promising technological developments in this direction were suddenly curtailed by religious opposition. The matter reached a head over a proposal to dam the River of Spears, and the Pharaoh stepped in to personally ban the development of such technology. More recently, after the Time of Troubles and with a more sympathetic Pharaoh, the priests of Thoth have begun looking into the development of such technology to gain Mulhorand an edge over its opponents.
The next major event that took place revolved around the arrival of a cult known as the Red Wizards in the Mulhorandi province of Delhumide. Their origins are obscure, although some believe they were exiles from Halruaa several hundred years earlier, others that they spontaneously arose in Delhumide. Whatever the case, in 922 DR the Red Wizards led a mass-uprising against the Mulhorandi authorities, spearheaded by a powerful tanar’ri named Eltab. The provincial capital at Delhumide was levelled, but the Red Wizards turned on Eltab and imprisoned him below a massive magical seal, which became their new capital of Eltabbar. By 932 DR the Red Wizards had seized the strategically vital port of Kensten on the Alamber Sea, which they renamed Bezantur. They also renamed Delhumide as Thay.
Mulhorand was infuriated, but the nation was slow to react, its army used outdated tactics and were lacking in morale, and its magical might was woefully inadequate to deal with that of the Red Wizards. Several probing attempts to retake Thay were defeated due to a combination of inadequate resources, inferior magical might and lack of enthusiasm. However, whilst Mulhorand was weak in attack, it proved stronger in defence and fended off a Thayan invasion in 1098 at the Battle of Sultim. A second invasion in 1280 was more successful, overrunning Sultim and proceeding through the northern heartlands of both Mulhorand and Murghôm before the two realms united and drove the invasion back.
Mulhorand did see some success during this period, notably renewed trade contacts with the east in 1099 which saw the opening of the Road to the Dawn and the Silk Route, a combined route from the Alamber Sea to the borders of the Shou Lung Empire in Kara-Tur, via Mulhorand, Murghôm, Semphar and Khazari. This route, an alternative to the northern Golden Way and Spice Road from Thesk to Shou Lung via Taan (also called the Endless Waste), proved popular due to the much smaller span of time and distance spent in the sometimes-hostile tribelands of Taan.
Prince Horustep was born in Mulhorand in 1346 and became the Pharaoh Horustep III in 1357, at just the age of 11. A year later, the Time of Troubles struck Faerûn and the gods walked the Realms, but the Untheric and Mulhorandi gods, being manifestations rather than true deities, were instead rendered insensible. Aware of this weakness in the arrangement, the Overgod Ao restored the connection between the manifestations and their original essences across the multiverse. This resulted in a confusing period during which the “original” gods of Mulhorand and Unther re-absorbed their Toril-based counterparts’ knowledge and experiences. As a by-product of these events, the Pharaoh of Mulhorand stopped being effectively an empty vessel to cart the soul of Horus-Re around in, and became his own independent being (albeit still able to summon Horus-Re’s avatar at will, to the god’s bemusement).
Horustep proved a young, vigorous, intelligent reformer, and soon set about reforming Mulhorand’s civil society and military organisation with impressive zeal. He enacted full gender equality, freeing up millions of extra workers to reinvigorate the kingdom’s faltering economy, and empowered the clergy of Anhur with the resources needed to turn Mulhorand’s army and navy from decrepit jokes into modern militaries able to stand alongside the best in Faerûn. Controversially, foreign advisors were brought in to help with these reforms, as well as the opening of new trade routes with other parts of the continent. Mulhorand’s economic expansion was interrupted in 1359 when the Tuigan invaded and briefly conquered Semphar, although Mulhorand ultimately decided not to intervene militarily, and was well-placed to benefit when trade resumed the following year.
In 1369, Mulhorand began to regard events in neighbouring Unther with growing concern. The resurrected goddess Tiamat had attacked Gilgeam’s Ziggurat of Eternal Victory in Unthalass, resulting in a raging battle that moved from Toril to the Outer Planes and back again before Gilgeam was finally killed. The few remaining fellow members of the Untheric pantheon fled, and Unther collapsed into chaos. Mulhorand sent troops to the border and its priests entered Unther to preach the greatness of their gods, gaining many eager new converts. However, the Faerûnian pantheon also sent its representatives into Unther from the north, threatening the nation with religious strife.
As part of this chaos, the volcanic island known as the Ship of the Gods exploded with tremendous force, devastating the sahuagin kingdom of Aleaxtis and sending tidal waves roaring up the coast to devastate the Alaor, Thay’s main naval base in the Alamber Sea. Mulhorand moved with unexpected speed to conquer the Alaor, landing troops and establishing a strong naval presence, taking the rest of Faerûn (let alone Thay) by surprise with the aggressiveness of the move from the infamously indolent, ancient power.
1371 opens with the “sleeping giant” of Mulhorand resurgent and active in the Realms once more, something that many see as both a possible opportunity but also a possible threat.
The supreme ruler of Mulhorand and the Mulhorandi Empire, and the ultimate sovereign of Mulhorand, Murghôm, Semphar, Raurin and Delhumide (whether they acknowledge it or not), is the Pharaoh Horustep III, the living god-king.
Traditionally, the pharaoh is a physical incarnation of Horus-Re, chief god of the Mulhorandi pantheon. Due to the complex circumstances surrounding the arrival of the Mulhorandi pantheon on Toril, the gods could not manifest avatars, instead only incarnating in physical human bodies which were effectively extensions of their will. Thus, the previous pharaohs were living puppets of the will of the gods, or at least their local manifestations in Realmspace. This abruptly changed during the Time of Troubles, when Ao reconnected the essences of the Mulhorandi gods with their true essences across the multiverse. This increased the power of the Mulhorandi gods whilst effectively severing their day-to-day involvement in the affairs of Mulhorand and giving free will to their former incarnations. This has been both a blessing, freeing Mulhorand’s rulers from their tendency towards rote tradition, decadence and ossification, but also problematic, as the people and rulers of Mulhorand are not used to sudden change, let alone the swift and daring reformer than Horustep has turned out to be.
Under Horustep’s rule, Mulhorand has enacted full gender equality, solving a long-standing economic problem, as well as undertaking a thorough reformation of the Mulhorandi army and navy, under the purview of the famed mercenary commander Kendera Steeldice and her Gold Swords mercenary company. Some rumours even suggest he is reviewing the legality of slavery in Mulhorand, addressing the long-standing philosophical conundrum of how can a nation born of a slave revolt depend so heavily on slaves? However, for the time being Horustep has refrained from any major revisions in this area.
The central government is headed by the pharaoh, although before Horustep they rarely intervened in day-to-day governance. The actual head of the government is the Vizier, who effectively functions as a prime minister, formulating and enacting policy in close consultation with the rulers of the cities and representatives of the clergy, military and magical orders. The Vizier is usually the highest-ranking priest of Horus-Re in the nation and wields tremendous power, second only to that of the pharaoh. However, the position is also noted for its tendency to corrupt. Viziers are kept honest by the overwatch of the pharaoh and the vigilance of the Justices, priests of Osiris noted for their incorruptibility.
Under the Vizier are the sixteen Precepts of Mulhorand, each of them wielding significant power over the region of Mulhorand which they control, which they effectively control as governors with military and civil responsibilities.
Mulhorand has a formidable military, with attendant arcane and divine magical support. The army is principally arranged to defend against an invasion out of Thay to the north and also any possible hostility from Unther to the west, although given Mulhorand and Unther’s long-standing peace that seems unlikely. More of a concern is Unther’s slow-motion collapse into chaos and civil war, which threatens to spill over the border. Mulhorand’s large navy is arrayed to defend against pirates, Thayan warships and sahuagin raiders from the Alamber Sea. Mulhorand’s military was infamously outdated for many centuries, performing extremely badly in the wars against Thay and only winning battles due to its huge size and short supply lines whilst on the defensive. Over the past thirteen years, the pharaoh has sponsored wholesale reform of both the army and navy, dramatically improving morale by offering better pay and conditions and also taking on board inspiration from military tactics across Faerûn, including unifying a single chain of command (usually under priests of Anhur) and integrating combined arms of melee and ranged units, cavalry, artillery and magic.
Mulhorand’s foreign relations have been complicated because of the Mulhorandi belief that they are the supreme power in Faerûn and all other nations are cursed, unenlightened barbarians. Traditionally Mulhorand regards only Unther, its great rival and sometimes-partner to the west, as an equal, and even that has disappeared after Unther’s fall into chaos. Mulhorand continues to regard Thay as a breakaway, rebellious province that will one day return to the fold, and it tends to treat Murghôm and Semphar as semi-vassal states rather than the independent powers they have become. Mulhorand has more neutral relations with other, more distant nations, although during Horustep’s reforms he has encouraged greater trade and diplomatic ties across Faerûn.
Mulhorand is unusual in being a nation firmly located within Faerûn which worships a completely unique pantheon of gods. The Mulhorandi pantheon is led by Horus-Re, Lord of the Sun, and also consists of Anhur, Bast, Bes, Geb, Hathor, Isis, Nephthys, Osiris, Sebek, Set and Thoth. The Mulhorandi pantheon originated on another world far across the Prime Material Plane, whose worshippers had been enslaved by the Imaskari. Manifestations of these gods journeyed to Toril and defeated the Imaskari Empire.
The Mulhorandi pantheon does have some adherents outside of Mulhorand, particularly in neighbouring Thay, Murghôm, Semphar and Unther (especially after the effective destruction or flight of the Untheric pantheon), but its is mostly unknown outside of this region.
Sone of the mainstream Faerûnian gods have developed followings in Mulhorand, particularly Gond, Mask, Mystra and Red Knight. Red Knight’s followers have formed a surprisingly strong alliance with the clergy of Anhur, the Mulhorandi god of war, and this alliance has propelled the reforms of Mulhorand’s military.
Pharaohs of Mulhorand
- Born 1077 BDR, reigned 1045-926 BDR: Horusret I
- b. 969 BDR, r. 926-623: Ramenhorus I
- b. 653 BDR, r. 623-339: Horustep I, the Shining
- b. 361 BDR, r. 339 BDR-4 DR: Horuseres I
- b. 30 BDR, r. 4-921 DR: Horuseres II, the Eternal
- b. 886 DR, r. 921-922: Mahorustep I
- b. 888, r. 922: Horustep II
- b. 895, r. 922: Ramenhorus II
- b. 861, r. 922-925: Thothibistep I
- b. 885, r. 925-929, abdicated 929, died 969: Thothibistep II
- b. 919, r. 929-955: Akonhorus I, the Valiant
- b. 941, r. 955-1098: Ramenhorus III
- b. 1066, r. 1098-1248: Rehorustep I
- b. 1210, r. 1248-1320: Rehorustep II, the Beastslayer
- b. 1291, r. 1320-1357: Akonhorus II
- b. 1346, r. 1357-present: Horustep III
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