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 Ulgarth and the surrounding lands. Please click for a larger version.

  • Ruler: King Drasna Bluemantle
  • Capital: Orvyltar (pop. 21,000)
  • Settlements: Dralpur (8000), Esbresh, Halahanyl, Kaspar (10,000), Kelazzan (5000), Kellesar, Ravvan, Suntar, Suormpar, Surbar (15,000)
  • Population: Unknown, but mostly human with small numbers of dwarves and halflings
  • Area: 275,434 miles², 713,371 km²
  • Military: A strong standing army and fleet
  • Languages: Common, Devic, Durpari
  • Religion: Lathander, Torm, Tymora, Tyr
  • Exports: Mingari, foodstuffs
  • Imports: Exotic goods, horses, spices, foodstuffs, textiles
  • Sources: The Shining South (Tom Prusa, 1993), Blood & Magic (video game, Tachyon Studios/Interplay, 1996), Faces of Deception (Troy Denning, 1998), the Double Diamond Triangle Saga (J. Robert King, James M. Ward, David Wise, Ed Greenwood, Roger E. Moore, Dave Gross, David Cook, Peter Archer, Richard Baker, 1998), “Darkly, Through a Glass of Ale” (Peter Archer in Realms of Mystery, 1998)

Overview

Ulgarth is a large kingdom located east of the Golden Water, beyond Durpar and Var the Golden. For this reason, it is sometimes counted as part of the Shining Lands region. However, the nation has a notably different character to the three nations of the Shining Lands, leading to it being counted apart.

The realm’s precise boundaries are the Great Sea and the Golden Water to the west, Xonthuil Bay and the Xon River to the north-west, the Ice Peaks to the north, the A-Ling Shan to the north-east, and open plains to the east (beyond which lies the towering mass of the Yehimal). The border to the south is ill-defined, with Ulgarth’s influence petering out short of the towns of Kellesar, Esbresh and the Stony Waste. Beyond the Stony Waste lie the Free Cities of the Parsanic, most notably Tharkar and Whitevale (Esbresh and Kellesar may also be part of this loose league).

The plains to the east of Ulgarth are the home of nomadic warriors, known in Ulgarth as “the Horde” for their ferocity in battle. However, in recent years Ulgarth has moved to trade and treat with the nomads on more equal terms, lessening tensions and encouraging more intermingling. The Ulgarthans may hope to pacify and domesticate the tribes so they can expand their borders all the way to the Yehimal proper.

Ulgarth is remote and, beyond the borders of the Shining Lands, almost unknown. Its capital city of Orvyltar is just over 4,000 miles from Waterdeep.

It lies in the shadow of the A-Ling Shan, a north-western arm of the mighty Yehimal which links the main mass of the range to its northernmost range, the Katakoro Mountains. The A-Ling Shan is, individually, one of the most impressive mountain ranges on the entire planet, with peaks of 17,000 feet counted as mere foothills to the central range, where the peaks touch 24,000 feet. However, the main mass of the Yehimal itself, which rises directly to the east of Ulgarth, is even more impressive, with several peaks exceeding 30,000 feet lying on the continental divide between Faerûn and Kara-Tur. These peaks include the tallest on the planet, and are so high that they are virtually impossible to summit without magical aid, since the air is so thin at the peaks that it is unbreathable.

Ulgarth is internally divided into six administrative regions. These include the king’s lands surrounding the capital city of Orvyltar and the five baronies, which are each centred on a major city of the realm: Dralpur, Kaspar, Kelazzan, Suormpar and Surbar.

Ulgarth is primarily a human nation, with a small number of dwarves in the Galuil Mountains working in the gold mines. There are small numbers of halflings in the realm. Elves are uncomfortable with Ulgarth’s feudal system and are almost unknown there; drow and half-drow exiles from Dambrath are a more common sight.

History

Some believe that the area of the Utter East and the Yehimal was originally the home of the dwarven race on Toril. They either were first created here by their gods, or arrived on Toril from some other world, possibly long prior to 35,000 BDR (Before Dalereckoning). According to legend, the dwarves established vast, gigantic cities under the Yehimal before moving (or being displaced) westwards into Faerûn proper. The truth of the matter remains unknown, as human settlement of the region is so sparse that not much exploration has taken place.

The lands around the Golden Water became the home of the Durpari tribes, who settled the lands south, west and north of the bay by c. 8500 BDR. In 8350 BDR, the Warlord Nemrut led his people over the Mountains of War to settle the fertile Raurin Plateau. In 7975 BDR, Lord Artificer Umyatin declared himself the first Emperor of Imaskar. Around this time the Ulgarian people first appeared in the lands east of the Golden Water. Whether they were a native tribe, or an offshoot of the Durpari, is unknown.

In the following centuries, the Imaskar Empire expanded north to Brightstar Lake, east to the Katakoro Plateau and west to the Dragonsword Mountains. Beyond this core area, the Empire established outposts and colonies in what are now Mulhorand, Taan, parts of Shou Lung, the Shaar, Durpar and Ulgarth. These outer colonies were not considered part of Imaskar proper but were ruthlessly exploited to fuel the empire’s economy, and the very first incarnations of Durpar and Ulgarth may have existed as vassals of the empire. Around 2700 BDR the eastern Durpari tribes allied with the Ulgarian tribes and local dwarven clans to build the Gate of Iron in the Mountains of War, a huge magical barrier to inhibit Imaskari conquests to the south-east, possibly as part of a greater rebellion against the Imaskari.

In 2488 BDR, Imaskar was destroyed and its lands were consumed by the Great Dust Desert, Raurin. The Durpari and Ulgarians reverted to a more nomadic existence.

By around 1700 BDR, the Ulgarian people had been unified under the rule of the enlightened Prince Surtava. Surtava abandoned his crown, power and wealth to become a beggar and left his kingdom to seek wisdom. After many years he achieved his quest and became the Padhra, founding the Padhran religion which became popular in parts of Taan and Kara-Tur.

At some point in the next thousand years, it appears that Ulgarth again fell into decline, with its people again become nomadic barbarians. By 83 BDR the Ulgarians, now referred to as Ulgarthans, had commenced raiding the cities of the Golden Water to the west. In 202 DR, the armies of Mulhorand swept into the Shining Lands in an attempted annexation. A Mulhorandi army invaded Ulgarth and almost wiped out the barbarian tribes, but withdrew due to problems maintaining supply lies over such vast distances.

In 348, outlaws fleeing from Mulhorand made their way to Ulgarth and allied with the native people. They encouraged the Ulgarthans to abandon their nomadic lifestyles and instead founded the first cities of Ulgarth. Ulgarth grew quickly, but continued border clashes with Durpar to the west. In 1002 the two nations finally signed a peace treaty.

King Caladorn the Wise reduced the power of clerics in Ulgarth by barring them from serving as justices of the law. Later, Ulgarth was fiercely raided by the bandit Maelin Rascalin until Rascalin was captured and convicted. Rascalin offered to serve in the army as part of his prison sentence, and remained in the military even after his sentence was completed. Rascalin then rose from the ranks to become commander of the entire eastern frontier, retraining and rebuilding the army into a more modern force. He repelled a barbarian invasion and was ennobled by the king, eventually becoming Baron of Suormpar.

In the early part of the 14th Century, Ulgarth opened a trade route to Kara-Tur over the A-Ling Shan. The path was hazardous and dangerous, frequently closed by snow, but provided an alternative route to the far northern routes over Taan or between Semphar and Khazari.

In 1359 this route was closed when Ambuchar Devayam, the infamous necromancer-emperor of Solon, began assembling an army to overwhelm the region. The advent of the Tuigan Wars played into his hands, weakening the realms of Khazari and Ra-Khati, so in 1360 he could overwhelm and conquer both realms. However, in 1362, bold adventurers struck into Solon and slew Devayam with the famed Stone Sceptre of Shih. The trade routes to Ulgarth reopened.

In 1367, word came that the grey orcs of the Dustwall were gathering a horde for a major assault on Durpar or Ulgarth, or both. In response, the barons of Kaspar and Suormpar hugely reinforced the border worked alongside the Durpari city of Flyndagol to assemble an army capable of resisting the attack. The attack never came, possibly due to internal conflicts within the orc tribes.

Government

Ulgarth is a hereditary monarchy, currently ruled by King Drasna Bluemantle, the Fortunate. Drasna, a paladin of Torm who travelled the region for many years before becoming king, is a popular ruler. He is noted for his charity, even-handedness and his preference for diplomatic solutions to problems but being resolved to fight if pushed to it.

Below the king in authority are the five barons: Kevin Olwynson of Dralpur, Montar Kaspar of Kaspar, Larid Herokimal of Kelazzan, Redinald Rascalin of Surompar and Kasnchil of Surbar. They each have wide, discretionary powers to rule their baronies effectively, but the king and his agents keep a careful eye on them to make sure there is no misuse of power.

Ulgarth practices a feudal system comprising nobles, freemen and serfs. However, the lines between the groups are not strict and people can move from one tier to another through hard work or leal service.

Ulgarth has traditionally been a militant nation, but in the present it has prioritised diplomatic relations with its neighbours. Its old foe of Durpar is now a key ally as they work together against the orc tribes of the Dustwall. Ulgarth has also instigated strong trade relations with Durpar, Var the Golden, Estagund, Luiren and Halruaa. Ulgarth’s fortunes have boomed since its made spice export, mingari, has become hugely popular in the rest of Faerûn. The spice is only sourced in Ulgarth and through some limited Durpari merchants, resulting in huge profits for these kingdoms. The Halruaans, in particular, have taken to the spice with a relish and have provided Ulgarth with magical aid and trade in return for large supplies of mingari. Ulgarth is also one of the few Faerûnian sources of coffee.

Ulgarth has six standing militias, each based in one of the baronial seats. Baron Montar of Kaspar leads his troops directly, but the rest delegate military command to a trusted subordinate. The King, despite being a fine warrior in his own right, employs General Sinveri Trollkin as the commander of Ulgarth’s armies. A renegade half-drow from Dambrath, Trollkin’s skill at war is impressive.

Ulgarth has an impressive navy, based at the Panglassest, the main shipyard in the city of Kelazzan. Twenty warships are permanently assigned to defend the coast and more protect the sea lanes leading from Ulgarth to other realms. Orvyltar’s harbour is defended by three ballistae from Durpar, which have been magically enchanted by a Halruaan mage.

Religion

Torm is the most popular deity in Ulgarth, although Tymora, Lathander and Tyr also have strong followings. Ulgarth is a secular state, however, and has laws ensuring the separation of church and state. Even the current king, a paladin of Torm, follows these laws.

A map of the entire Utter East region. Please click for a larger version.

The Lands of the Utter East

South and east of Ulgarth lie lands that virtually nobody has heard of, and would not even be counted as part of Faerûn if it were not by simple default geography: the vast Yehimal forms the continental divide with Kara-Tur, so these kingdoms lying to the west of the mountains are not part of that continent, and Zakhara does not truly begin until the coast swings westwards out to Pearl Bay and the borders of the hostile Yikarian Empire, and these kingdoms lie north of that divide.

Immediately south of Ulgarth lie the Free Cities of the Parsanic. The cities of Tharkar and Whitevale, both ports on the Great Sea, are known to be part of this loose confederation; Kellesar and Esbresh may also be part of this region. The Free Cities are completely independent, although they are reliant on trade with Ulgarth, Durpar, Var and Estagund for their income.

South and east of the Parsanic lie the three linked kingdoms of Doegan, Edenvale and Konigheim.

Doegan is descended from the Ffolk, settlers from the Moonshae Isles who came to the region by magical means in 621 DR. The realm is relatively peaceful, with its capital at the pleasant city of Eldrinpar. The realm lies along the coast, a region known as the Doegan Shores.

Edenvale lies higher up in the mountains, with a river linking it to Doegan. Edenvale is also a Ffolk-descended realm. Its current ruler is Queen Rosalind.

Konigheim is the most militant of the three kingdoms and has the strongest Northman influence. The realm remains militant, most likely due to its proximity to the far northern border of the Yikarian Empire, the hostile yak-men who effectively bar overland travel between Faerûn and Zakhara. Konigheim has anomalous borders, including what appears to be lands in the far north-western corner of Sempadan Forest, despite its distance to the south-east, beyond the World Pillar Mountains. It is possible magical gateways link locations with Konigheim (and possibly Edenvale) with that region, as otherwise the distances and geographical obstacles would seem to complicate, if not prohibit, easy access and travel.

Beyond Konigheim lies the goblin Kingdom of Nix, which lies close to a glacier in the Wu Pi Te Shao Mountains.

The history of the region is obscure, mainly due to its utter remoteness. It is known that the Mar people were the original inhabitants of the region and dwelt in peace in the Utter East for millennia. That peace abruptly ended in 621 DR when ships of both the Ffolk and Northmen passed through a portal in the northern Trackless Sea and arrived in this region. The Ffolk established the kingdoms of Doegan and Edenvale, whilst the Northmen established the nation of Konigheim further south. The Northmen brutally enslaved the Mar. The Ffolk initially treated the Mar with greater respect, but after centuries of continuous border wars with the Northmen, they came to treat the Mar almost as badly.

In 648, the newcomers discovered the bloodforges, powerful magical items which could create golems. Able to summon entire armies into being which did not tire and did not need food or supplies, the result was the Bloodforge Wars, a series of massive conflicts in which golems battled one another. In 657 the wars had weakened the magical prisons of ancient fiends located under the Utter East, resulting in a rampage of demonic entities. The natives held their ground but the situation appeared to be getting out of control, eventually alarming diviners in the court of the Grand Caliph of Huzuz himself, far to the south in Zakhara.

Grand Caliph Arash bint Sanjar was unusually proactive and determined this was a long-term threat to his realm. He sent a massive armada and army to the region to remove the problem. The Zakharan army destroyed the bloodforges and used magic to banish the fiends, but also burned every city they found to remove what they saw as corruption.

The Zakharans departed and the battered kingdoms rebuilt themselves. The Ffolk granted the Mar their freedom and they became equals in their kingdoms. The Mar also launched a rebellion to take their freedom by force in Konigheim, earning the respect of the Northmen.

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