Coastal Aquatic Lands: The Sea of Falling Stars

Design: Eric Haddock
Editing: Jean Rabe
Proofreading: Karen S. Boomgarden, Janis Wells
Interior Art: Daniel Frazier
Cartography: Dennis Kauth
Typography: Nancy J. Kerkstra
Production: Paul Hanchette


The coast of the Sea of Fallen Stars along Cormyr and Sembia has been my home for over 30 years now. I am Lucas Surin, captain of a unit of Purple Dragons currently stationed in Suzail. I was born a loyal subject of the king of Cormyr in the tiny village of Kallamarn, a day's ride from Suzail. As soon as I was old enough, I left the farm my family cared for and headed to Sembia, for I had heard that they were hiring able-bodied folk as mercenaries, and my heart longed for the life of the sword.

I traveled to Yhaunn, learning what I could about sword play and street fighting along the way. By the time

My new life began on the coast. I escorted caravans and cleared monsters from the land, but always I was drawn to the sea. I began to think my life would become that of a sailor, but I could never shake the need to fight on dry ground (versus bobbing on the sea in a wooden ship far from home).

After my journeymanship in life and in battle, I returned home to visit my family. While in Cormyr, I learned that the crown was soliciting for positions within the Purple Dragons, Cormyr's standing army.

The thought of enlisting intrigued me. Bearing steel in the name of the crown was appealing, and it I got there, I was able to handle myself well with steel. rested better upon my conscience to use my sword for a cause that would benefit Cormyr, rather than simply using it to better my employer, which was the situation I had just left as a sword for hire.

I signed on with the Dragons.

Fate locked its grip upon me, and I found my assignments kept me close to coastal areas. I was also given tasks that took me into Sembia, where I met with old friends who had enlisted in the Sembian army.

Over the following two decades, I lived a life of adventure all along the coast, outwitting wily creatures native to both land and sea, all in the name of King Azoun IV. During that time, I learned a great deal about the people who live along the coast and the astounding number of creatures that dwell just below the surface of the water, coming ashore at times for reasons both benevolent and malign.

One autumn day I paid a visit to the best place to find rare shells on the coast of Cormyr, an isolated and small stretch of sand about an hour's ride off Dragoneye Way between Suzail and Marsember. It was a place I thought only I knew of.

When I arrived I spotted a man who had long white hair and a long beard. He was dressed in robes and a peculiar hat. He was collecting shells with one hand while he puffed distractedly on a curved pipe he held in the other. From his trappings I took him for a mage. I realized he must be familiar with shells and the sea to know to come to that particular stretch of beach. I was impressed, for I had believed I was the only one aware of this precious wealth of shells.

I struck up a conversation with the old man about shells. He had been collecting them for many more years than I had, and he knew much about them. Whereas I would pick shells based on their beauty alone, he was trying to assemble perfect representatives of every species. This mage, who called himself Elminster, showed me more about my own shells than I ever would have discovered left to my own devices.

When he asked me if I knew of any other good shell beaches, I told him of a few secluded stretches of sand I had discovered. As I did, I related some of the adventures I had had while looking for these beaches. Impressed with the amount of time I.d spent along the coast, he asked me to write down the things I.d observed over the years.

What follows are some of the experiences he asked me to record. The Sea of Fallen Stars is truly vast, and describing the coasts around it would require many pages. Instead, this work concerns itself only with the coast of Sembia and Cormyr, a very long stretch of land with a coastline boasting many natural inhabitants.

The Sea of Fallen Stars

The coast of the Sea of Fallen Stars, from the edge of Scardale in the Dales to south of the Storm Horns in Cormyr, can be broken down into different regions. Note that the following regions are generalized and that features of a particular region can also be found elsewhere throughout the coast.

Scardale to Yhaunn

This coastline is as harsh as the cold winds that blow across it. The winds have turned the coast into a most inhospitable stretch of land.

The most distinguishing characteristic about the coastline is the jagged rocks that bite like fangs into the water below them. Black and dark brown rocks, cliff faces, and assorted small islands extend between Scardale and Yhaunn. Cliff faces are scattered along the coast. These black walls of rock are an imposing sight.

Not a great deal of plant life exists here compared to other sections of the coastline. The rocky surface and the violent waves upon the seashore prevent most things from making a home out of it. But unusual and mundane creatures and plants do make their homes amid this terrain.

What plant life there is collects along the tops of the jagged faces where the soil is. Still, most of the plants are bashed and swept away by the tides and do not have a chance to take deep root.

Very little sandy beach is found between these two towns, and likewise not a great deal of gently sloping terrain either. This makes building a dock or any port facility difficult along the great majority of the coast.

The lack of hospitable coastline also prevents a great number of people from living there. A few of the individuals who build homes near the coast stay because of the view; they make their livings farther inland. Fewer still are hobbyist sailors who like to fish. But given the time, expense, and danger required to build along the coast, most of the coast residents are either rich or desperate.or pirates.

Weather along the coast between these two cities is very cold and unforgiving. Winds blow almost constantly from the sea-cold winds that spare no one from their bite. This has discouraged many people from living there. In rare locations, especially during winter, the tide pools have been known to freeze in shallow parts of the coastline. This has had the noticeable effect of breaking up the rocky coastline and making traveling along such places very hazardous, for the shards of rock left behind impede walking.

Yhaunn to Selgaunt

This stretch of land is similar to the previously described coast. The shoreline is almost as rocky, and the shape of everything on the beach is determined by the harsh surf. But some differences are worth noting. The primary difference is that as one travels southwest down the coast, the terrain begins to even out and become less jagged and austere.

Just near Yhaunn, plant life is sparse. The waves and the barren rocks harbor little in the way of plants other than mosses and various clinging vines that can withstand the action of the waves.

Toward Selgaunt, though, the plants become more prolific as the shore becomes more hospitable. The tides are gentle and the rocks and beaches are more able to accept plants, affording them a real chance to take hold and grow. It is here that one finds very colorful plants and flowers, as well as the most diverse kinds of flora, as land plants have taken root in the soil near the sand. And only feet away, strangely colored mosses drape themselves over small, smooth rocks.

The beaches of Selgaunt begin just a few miles east of the city, and they are not the luxurious long beach fronts that crop up in sections of Cormyr. Instead, these are scraggly, small stretches of sand that don't have much to offer in the way of scenery. In fact, they are just plain ugly and unproductive. The soil is too poor to support farming. However, the land is strong enough to support buildings, and for this purpose the area provides excellent places for docks and ports. Selgaunt is built on just such ground.

People along this stretch fish for a living, a lucrative profession. Surd and Tulbegh both support fishing communities that are active in the area. The large amount of flat, easy-to-build-on land in this area has made the construction of villages and fishermen's houses along the coast easy. While the terrain leaves much to be desired in the way of scenery, life there is easy when compared to parts north. The weather along this coastline is temperate to cool. The winds blowing off the sea bring all manner of weather to the shore, but it is often cloudy and rainy in some parts. This makes for gloomy, dismal days (at least, it was so during my visits to the area).

Selgaunt to Urmlaspyr

This coast is filled with rocky terrain similar to that found north along the coast. An almost equal distribution of rocky shorelines, small beaches, and smooth, not-so-rocky surfaces is found.

Areas of this coast closely resemble the land near Scardale, as well as beaches that are warm and resemble places much farther south. It is difficult to pin down a predominant feature of the shoreline, other than to say that diversity rules.

For this reason, I would recommend this coast as the place to go to see the greatest collection of plant life and wildlife. With all of these differing habitats, one is sure to find whatever one is seeking. Many species of migratory birds, for example, take advantage of the pockets of terrain they favor. And, although it is out of my area of expertise, I am told that the plants and berries along this stretch are rich, and that there is a lot to be discovered in the way of new fruits, roots, and the like. The weather becomes more temperate and stable the farther southwest one travels. The winters and summers become less harsh, and the coast just begins to even out around Urmlaspyr.

Urmlaspyr to the Tun River

This coastline, which represents the entire coastline of the Kingdom of Cormyr, is largely dominated by beaches and spotted with rocky shores. Also along this stretch are a few nonsandy beaches. These are places where the plains and relatively even terrain of the land meets the sea. These areas are being eroded by the sea and present a problem for those who live and farm along the coastline.

During storms, in particular, the vulnerability of these locations becomes apparent. The area surrounding the river leading from the Vast Swamp is a good example of this type of terrain.

Two types of weather predominate on the Cormyte coast. From Urmlaspyr to about Hermit's Wood, things are even and temperate, though harsh storms and harsh winters come every few years. From Hermit's Wood to the Tun River, terrible storms rumble out of the Storm Horns mountains that influence the weather in Marsember and Suzail. They bring heavy rains and blinding snowstorms in months that are otherwise calm. Generally, though, the location is livable and pleasant.

Elminster's Ecologies