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: The Nimbral Lords
- Capital: Selpir
- Settlements: Arevar, Bromtor, Curstallyon, Esdul, Nimith, Nimsur, Ormen, Rauthaven, Sombor, Suthaven, Tethmor, Vindal
- Population: Unknown, but divided between 90% human and 10% half-elven
- Area: 42,424 miles² (109,877.66 km²)
- Military: The Knights of the Flying Hunt (airborne cavalry)
- Languages: Common, Halruaan
- Religion: Deneir, Lurue
- Sources: The Realm of Nimbral (Ed Greenwood, Wizards of the Coast website, archived here, 2004)
Nimbral, the Sea Haven, is an island kingdom located in the Great Sea, south-west of Chult. It is the southern-most land recognised as part of Faerûn, although it is so remote that it is almost unknown to the rest of the Realms.
The island is located just 300 miles north of Toril’s equator, giving it a balmy, all-year round summery climate. This is why the island is sometimes called the Summer Land. The island is also located between three continents, with the southern-most part of Maztica, the volcanic land of Lopango, located around 860 miles to the west; the Chultan Peninsula, in south-west Faerûn, located 670 miles to the north-east; and the mysterious southern continent of Katashaka lies around 1,000 miles to the south and south-west.
Nimbral is noted for its forests and jungles, which cover most of the lowlands, apart from the Plains of Ormen in the central-eastern part of the island. These plains are the most fertile part of the island and act as the kingdom’s breadbasket. Several significant hill chains form Nimbral’s peninsulas, with the more substantial mountainous mass of the Seirsardar rising to the west. The Vaerael Mountains form the northern-most spine of the island.
Nimbral’s capital city, Selpir, can be found on the island’s south-western coast, near Salpir Island. The island is home to several other port cities of note, including Suthaven, Bromtor, Nimith, Sombor, Arevar, Vindal, Nimsur, Ormen, Curstallyon, Esdul and Tethmor. Most intriguing is Rauthaven, a port city in the south-east which also serves as a base for spelljammers. The Resort, a major spelljamming port and rest and relaxation hub for interstellar travellers, neighbours the traditional port and is home to some of the strangest beings on the entire planet as they enjoy some time away from their ships. Nimbral’s isolation makes it a more attractive waystop for ships seeking to avoid too much attention, although the Nimbrese are also a mostly law-abiding people, and do not tolerate criminality in their land.
As well as the towns, Nimbral is home to numerous castles. These castles take a bewildering variety of shapes, sizes and forms, but most are graceful, betraying elven influences. The castles serve as homes to the Knights of the Flying Hunt and the Elders of the Council of Lords.
The island is home to several mines, where copper and gems are excavated by prison gangs. The mines are the main means of punishment for criminals on the island.
Nimbral was formed in the Sundering, the great cataclysm that took place in 17,600 BDR (Before Dalereckoning) when the single supercontinent of Merrouroboros was split asunder by elven High Magic to create the island of Evermeet. The Sundering inadvertently tore the continent apart, dragging the continents of Maztica and Katashaka to the west, leaving Nimbral as part of the trailing debris behind them.
In later years – it is unknown when – a colony of moon elves from one of the mainland elven empires settled the island, possibly attempting to flee the Crown Wars as they ravaged the mainland. Even after the conflict ended, the moon elves remained on Nimbral, perhaps enjoying its remoteness from the concerns of the mainland.
Thousands of years passed before the island became important again to history. Following the collapse of Netheril in 339 BDR, a group of refugees fled all the way to the far southern coast of the continent and there established the kingdom of Halruaa, allying with the local Lapal tribes and Arkaiun settlers from the east. Halruaa became the famed Kingdom of Magic, for its dedication to the magical arts and to the veneration of Mystra, Goddess of Magic, and Azuth, God of Spellcasters. The kingdom was also home to a devoted, but small, sect dedicated to the worship of Leira, Goddess of Illusion.
In 147 DR, Halruaa was rocked by a schism between worshippers of Mystra and Azuth which saw the establishment of separate, if cordial, churches. The Leira-worshippers did not take sides, remaining dedicated to their goddess, but found that their attempts at neutrality and mediation backfiring, and they became persecuted by both sides. Tiring of this, the Leira-worshippers left Halruaa altogether, heading south and west to the island of Nimbral. They settled and colonised Nimbral in 173 DR.
The Nimbrese colonists soon encountered the elves living in the forested heartlands and ill feeling arose between the two groups. However, the Nimbrese and elven leaders met to discuss possible terms. It was agreed that the elves would retain the interior forest lands whilst the Nimbrese would settle the coasts, with strict agreements on what forests could be felled. Such agreements elsewhere in Faerûn had fallen apart due to an explosion in human population numbers, but in Nimbral this does not appear to have taken place. Instead, the agreements held firm for centuries. The elves and Nimbrese soon began to adopt a closer relationship, with elves living in the human cities and humans in the elven settlements, and the two groups working together for mutual protection and economic benefit. Many half-elven children resulted from these alliances and unions.
As the centuries passed, many of the pureblood elves followed the call to Retreat to Evermeet, leaving their half-elven descendants to carry on their lifestyle on the island.
A few decades after the human settlement of Nimbral, the elves and humans agreed to work together to create a military force capable of defending the island at speed or even travelling to other parts of Faerûn to head off threats long before they could reach the island itself. The Knights of the Flying Hunt were founded, an organisation of pegasus-riding warriors. The Knights soon became infamous across all Faerûn, although some doubted their very existence.
Nimbral kept tabs on events on mainland Faerûn, and the constant stories of wars, famines and magical cataclysms seemed to justify Nimbral’s decision to remain as secluded from the world as possible. However, the Nimbrese ironically soon established excellent relations with their former homeland of Halruaa and regular trade between the two nations began, much of it undertaken by skyship. Stories of Halruaan skyships and Nimbrese flying knights joining forces to destroy a pirate’s nest along the Chultan coast soon abounded.
In 605 DR, the kingdom of Thindol on the Chultan Peninsula erupted into civil war, the War of Unmasking, in which yuan-ti infiltrators into the kingdom were exposed and neighbour turned on neighbour in a paranoid outbreak of violence. Several thousand citizens from western Thindol fled out to see on hundreds of ships, seeking a safe haven. The Nimbrese, alarmed at the size of the fleet approaching, dispatched the Knights of the Flying Hunt to intercept and return them to the mainland. However, they found many of the ships had run aground on the Beacon Rocks, forcing the Nimbrese into relief operations. Not wanting to harbour the thousands of refugees on Nimbral, the Nimbrese decided to secure a haven for them back in their own land. Lord Samar led a large contingent of Nimbrese illusionists, priests of Leira, mages and warriors in first cloaking the entire western part of Thindol from the rest of the kingdom through illusionary magic, and then exposing and eliminating every yuan-ti within the region. By the end of 606 DR the refugees had settled in this land, which they now declared a sovereign kingdom named Samarach in honour of Lord Samar.
As the centuries have passed, and especially as the more suspicious elven influence on the kingdom has dissipated, Nimbral has opened itself a bit more to the outside world. As well as its alliance with Halruaa, it has maintained contact with Samarach and opened itself up to trade with that land. It has also tentatively explored trade contacts with its fellow island nation of Lantan to the north, and opened profitable trade routes to Zakhara to the south-east (from Nimbral a bold captain can swing far south into the Great Sea and thus come to Zakhara’s eastern or south-eastern shores, far away from the Corsair Domains of pirates along the north and north-western coasts).
However, Nimbral’s growing, if slight, openness to the outside world had been matched by internal repression. Leira’s priesthood had grown so powerful it had subjugated the mages of the island into being their minions, toiling in spell-workshops. When the Time of Troubles struck the Realms in 1358 and the gods were banished to wander the world as mortals, the wizards of Nimbral rebelled, slew many of the Priests of the Deceiver and re-established their independence. When the Time of Troubles ended, the priesthood of Leira agreed to work with the mages rather than repressing them, restoring equality to the island. In addition, the Nimbrese underwent a philosophical revolution, turning their predilection for lies and confusion (a result of Leira’s influence) into a more productive competition in tale-spinning.
In 1367 the Nimbrese demonstrated their formidable intelligence and resolve once more. Learning that the pirates of the Nelanther Isles had planned to amass a large fleet and ravage the coasts of Faerûn, potentially including Nimbral, the Nimbrese dispatched the Knights of the Flying Hunt under Commander Baltir Merivolst to destroy the pirate fleet at anchor.
Nimbral is ruled by a council known as the Nimbral Lords, or Lords of Nimbral. The council is made up of at least half a dozen senior leaders from different areas of the island, several of them very powerful illusionists, and all referred to as “Elders.” The Commander-Knight of the Flying Hunt is either a member of the council or reports directly to them.
The Knights of the Flying Hunt form the island’s primary means of defence, consisting of at least dozens of pegasus-mounted warriors and illusionists. The island has a small militia and only a small conventional navy, since the Knights can usually contain all threats long before they reach the island itself or even its vicinity.
The Heralds of Nimbral are an order with sixteen members, who communicate with the Nimbrese on behalf of the Lords. They have magical, mental links with the Lords and their word is law on the island.
Nimbral’s patron god is Leira, the Mistress of Illusions and Lady of Mists, and she is by far the most commonly-worshipped god on the island. However, the Knights of the Flying Hunt have adopted Lurue as their patron deity. Very small numbers of worshippers of Mystra, Azuth and the Seldarine (among the half-elven population) are also found on Nimbral.
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