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 showing Sespech and the surrounding region. Please click for a larger version.
  • Ruler: Baron Aldorn Thuragar
  • Capital: Ormpetarr (pop. 55,037)
  • Settlements: Elbulder (12,701), Fort Arran (1000), Mimph (27,518), Nagaford, Roaringford
  • Population: 952,560 (96% human, 2% dwarf, 1% elf, 1% misc.), large population of nagas not counted
  • Population Density: 6.98 people per mile², 2.69 people per km²
  • Area: 136,486 miles² (353,497 km²)
  • Military: Militias, a strong standing garrison at Fort Arran, cavalry companies based in the capital and mercenary companies, most notably the Band of Iron
  • Languages: Common, Chondathan, Shaaran (southern border areas)
  • Religion: Eldath, Helm, Lliira, Malar, Talos, Tempus, Waukeen
  • Exports: Horses, mercenaries, salt
  • Imports: Metal
  • Sources: The Vilhon Reach (Jim Butler, 1996)

Overview

Sespech is a country south of the Vilhon Reach, stretching almost as far south as the far eastern end of the Lake of Steam. It is bordered by the Reach and the River Arran to the north, the Chondalwood to the north-east and east, the Nagaflow river to the north-west and south, and the Nagawater lake to the west. Its capital and largest city is Ormpetarr, located on the Nagawater. Its only other large cities of note are Mimph on the Vilhon to the north, and Elbulder on the Arran to the east.

Sespech is noted for its wide plains in the south. The Golden Plains are famed for their wheat and horses, and the horses of Sespech are of very fine stock, perhaps rivalling those of Amn and Narfell. Centaurs can be found on the Golden Plains as well.

Sespech used to be part of the Chondathan Empire, but broke away over four centuries ago to become an independent state. Overcrowded Chondath continues to harbor ambitions of retaking Sespech, which is more than twice the size of its own lands but with half the population, but Sespech’s formidable natural defences and experienced military, as well as Chondath’s own internal dissent, has made this an untenable proposition.

Sespech thrives on trade, as it carries the vital Golden Road trade way from Chondath and Turmish in the north (and, eventually, Chessenta in the north-east) south to the Lake of Steam ports and beyond into the Shaar and the Shining South.

History

Sespech’s origins go back to the founding of Ormpetarr, which was established by bold settlers circa 140 DR (Dalereckoning) as part of the building of the Golden Road, a highway that was constructed from Arrabar on the Vilhon Reach in the north to the Lake of Steam in the south. Ormpetarr flourished through trade with Chondath to the north after its founding in 144 DR, but Ormpetarr’s lack of defences led to it being a popular target for raiders and bandits. After Chondath’s defeat by the elves of Nikerymath in 267, it looked to the south for further expansion opportunities and soon swallowed up Ormpetarr as its southern-most city.

Chondath’s fortunes waxed and waned, and with them, the fortunes of Ormpetarr. Sometimes the city was heavily fortified and defended by Chondath, and waves of settlers from the heartland to the north would surge south to settle on the Golden Plains. At other times, the south would be neglected and its thoughts would turn once again to independence. Whenever such movements looked like they were gathering pace, Chondath would send a friendly governor to take control of the city.

By 902, Ormpetarr was the second-largest city in the Chondathan Empire but stifled by the lack of autonomy. That year the Rotting War was unleashed on the empire by the Archmage of Hlath, resulting in a horrendous plague which devastated the heartland of Chondath.

Ormpetarr took advantage of the chaos to declare independence, as well as seizing control of the entire southern province of the empire, which it named as the independent country of Sespech. Simultaneously, the northern colonies of Chondathan and Chancelgaunt also broke away, forming the nation of Sembia in 914.

After independence, Sespech formed new trade relationships with the Lake of Steam cities to the south and the nation of Tethyr to the west (and later, after its founding in 1348, Erlkazar). Sespech established the strong frontier garrison of Fort Arran on the river, and founded the logging town of Elbulder to the east, although it only logged the Chondalwood in accordance with the agreements worked out with the elves and the druidic Emerald Enclave.

Early this century, Chondath established a supporting wing among the politicians of Ormpetarr, through bribes and favoured trading rights. This led to the rise of Ricjolo Tomrase as the ruling Baron of Sespech. Tomrase was really a puppet of the ambitious Lord Eles Wianar, Ruling Lord of Chondath. In 1364, under Wianar’s influence, Tomrase proposed that Sespech accept annexation by Chondath. Political fury and infighting followed, which Wianar hoped to capitalise on by sending an army to take Ormpetarr. However, the mercenary Band of Iron instead stormed the capital (with popular support) and its leader, the Sespechan noble Aldorn Thuragar, forcibly ejected Tomrase from power. Thuragar then marched on and reinforced Fort Arran, hurling the Chondathan forces back with considerable losses. For this feat he was named, somewhat over-exuberantly, “Foesmasher” and declared Baron of Sespech. Thuragar has reasserted Sespech’s independence, reinforcing the northern port of Mimph against naval attack and establishing more defences along the line of the Arran. He also reinforced Elbulder, which was handy when a Chondathan reconnaissance-in-force tried to take the town by surprise via the Old Road, but was defeated.

Government

Sespech is ruled by a loose coalition of merchant lords and local nobles, who elect a ruling Baron to lead the nation. Aldorn Thuragar is the current ruling Baron and is noted for his determination to maintain Sespech’s independence, his formidable combat skills and his military acumen. Sespech has flourished under Thuragar’s leadership.

The nation is defended by a strong military, which is oriented almost entirely against defending against an invasion by Chondath. It has a large fleet based at Mimph and a large cavalry formation based in Ormpetarr, from where it can quickly mobilise to defend Fort Arran to the north or Elbulder to the east, the two most likely invasion routes. Fort Arran commands the only viable crossing on the Arran west of Elbulder and is almost impossible to assault from the other side of the river. Sespech is also part of a loose anti-Chondathan coalition, also consisting of the city-states of Nimpeth and Lachom, both former holdings of Chondath which have no wish to return to the fold and now see Sespech as a useful buffer between themselves and their former rulers. Sespech also has a strategic alliance with the city-state of Hlondeth on the Vilhon Reach, one of the strongest bulwarks against Chondathan power, although Baron Thuragar is keen to keep the yuan-ti of House Extaminos out of Sespechan internal affairs. Thuragar has also pursued friendly relations with the elves of Rucien-Xan (possibly the sole remaining city of the once-great elven kingdom of Nikerymath), possibly to help stop Chondathan armies passing through the Chondalwood to assail Elbulder. However, the recent raid on the town by Chondath suggests the elves may no longer have the strength to keep Chondath out of the woods.

Sespech’s fortunes are determined mainly by its control of trade and the defence of its borders. One of the most commonly-raised threats to Sespech is that of the nagas, intelligent and cunning snake creatures who dwell along Sespech’s western borders in significant numbers. However, previous rulers of Sespech struck a deal with the creatures agreeing to peaceful coexistence, with the naga influence limited to the southern end of the Nagawater (the area called the Nagalands), the village of Nagarr on the south-western shores and the plains of Serpents’ Holding to the west of the Nagawater. Ironically, no nagas have ever been seen on the Naga Plains, the area of the Golden Plains lying west of the Golden Road.

Sespech also enjoys good relations with several centaur tribes who dwell on the Golden Plains and the neighbouring Talu-min tribe of nomadic warriors, from the Land of Lions.

Religion

As a trading nation, Sespech particularly venerates Waukeen, Goddess of Trade and Wealth. Its warriors are keen followers of Tempus and Helm, who is the patron deity of Ormpetarr’s cavalry forces. Eldath and Lliira also have strong followers, whilst Malar and Talos have low-key, underground followings within the country.

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