Despite settlements and civilizations that have endured for a thousand years, the constant orc invasions, harsh weather, and unyielding wilderness prove that the North is still a frontier. "The North" is a term Cormyrians and Dalesfolk use to refer to the lands west of Anauroch and north of the High Moor.
The North can he divided into five separate areas: the High Forest, the greatest existing forest in all Faerûn; the Savage Frontier, which encompasses the lands outside the High Forest and Silverymoon; the Silver Marches, a new confederation of cities, towns, and fortresses centered around the shining city of Silverymoon; the Sword Coast North, the lands west of the Dessarin River; and Waterdeep, the City of Splendors, virtually a nation unto itself.
The High Forest
Population: 29,088 (elves 52%, gnolls 12%, centaurs 10%, orcs 10%, half-elves 5%, half-orcs 5%, humans 3%, halflings 2%)
Government: Many competing forces
Religions: Corellon Larethian, Eilistraee, Malar, Mielikki, Silvanus, Vhaeraun
Imports: Adventurers, armor, food, weapons
Exports: Ancient artifacts
Alignment: All neutral and chaotic
The High Forest is a holdover from the early days of the world, when elves, giants, and dragons ruled a continent covered in green. The forest is home to all the woodlands races, including aarakocras, centaurs, drow (including Vhaeraun- and Eilistraee-worshiping surface-dwellers and Lolth-worshiping Underdark marauders), gnolls, gnomes, hybsils, moon elves, pixies, satyrs, treants, and wild elves.
The few humans who live or travel within the forest are usually druids, rangers, members of the Harpers, or adventurers used to surviving in environments in which they are not entirely welcome. Druids say that the forest is under the protection of the deities Eldath and Mielikki. If true, that explains how the High Forest has survived the woodcutter's axe unscathed.
The forest is too large for any one group to rule completely. At present, the greatest powers within the forest are the treants, the wood elves, and the centaurs.
Sidebar: Where Gods Walk.
Life and Society
The non-humans, druids, rangers, and adventurers of the High Forest live in a self-contained and self-sufficient world. Merchant caravans from Waterdeep or the Moonsea travel to Loudwater or Secomber or Everlund, human cities on the edge of the great wood, but the forest itself needs nothing that the outside world has to offer.
The denizens of the High Forest live by hunting. Some cultivate herbs, mushrooms, and other plants that can be grown under the trees or in natural clearings. The various races hunt different animals and harvest different plants - slow nomadic shuffling of the various clans and tribes keeps the forest's resources from being exhausted in the same manner that crop rotation keeps farmers lands healthy.
Many races and factions of opposed alignment and interests occupy the forest. Small-scale skirmishes between them are frequent. Large-scale conflicts only occur when one side or the other cares enough to track its enemy through difficult terrain and expend valuable magic and lives pursuing battle. The different races have zones of influence within the forest, but few attempt to exert complete control over a given territory for long.
At the moment, the most combative groups active in the forest are the wood elves who seek to exterminate the orcs who flow in steadily from the Spine of the World and know no other way than violence, the treants who dominate the north tip of the forest, and the tieflings and half-fiend elves of House Dlardrageth who still lair in underground ruins near the Nether Mountains.
Major Geographic Features
The High Forest covers a span of nearly three hundred miles from east to west and almost four hundred from north to south.
Dire Wood: A ring of completely albino oak trees surrounds these mysterious hills in the eastern High Forest. Inside the outer ring of pile oaks stands a thicker ring of blackened and petrified trees. Within the rings, normal trees and heavy undergrowth are mixed with petrified trees, all sprouting from reddish soil.
Those who pace around the outside of the Dire Wood find that it measures only four miles in circumference. Those who enter the Wood find that it expands as they travel deeper inside the rings, seemingly going on for miles of broken hills. The only break in the wild terrain occurs at the very center, where the remains of the ancient deity Karsus endure as a single red stone butte at the base of a high cliff.
A circle of magical chaos emanates from the butte, contained within the ring of sentinel trees. Aberrations that have been eradicated throughout the rest of Faerûn seem to find refuge in the Dire Wood, haunting its tortured terrain but incapable of passing beyond the outer ring.
"Wizard weather," the Dire Wood's major supernatural effect, occasionally soars out of the Wood and into the rest of the forest, blasting the forest and its inhabitants with weird magical phenomena ranging from red snow that smells like blood to rains of fireballs.
Grandfather Tree: The Uthgardt barbarians, druids, wood elves, and other non-evil denizens of the High Forest hold this stupendous oak tree sacred. Members of the Tree Ghost Uthgardt tribe guard the tree, though the Grandfather is defended by its own powerful magic. An effect similar to a permanent consecrate spell encompasses the two-square-mile area within the shadow of Grandfather Tree's branches. Worshipers of Mielikki, Silvanus, Lurue, and other nature deities are affected as if by a bless spell when in Grandfather Tree's shadow.
Lost Peaks: These two small mountains at the northwest corner of the forest are home to centaurs, satyrs, and other fey. The Fountains of Memory located on the high plateaus reflect views of the past instead of their normal surroundings. As far as anyone can tell, beings who enter the pools in an attempt to return to those past times instead teleport to random destinations.
The Star Mounts: These soaring mountains at the heart of the High Forest have been landmarks and mysterious places of legend to humans of the North for centuries. They rise high above the trees, their heights usually cloaked in clouds, and minstrels and woodsfolk have been spinning wild tales about the mountains for as long as humans have stared at their distant slopes and wondered who - or what - lairs there.
The Star Mounts were named for stars in the northern heavens by the elves of fallen Eaerlann. The names Y'tellarien, or "Far Peak" to humans; Y'landrothiel, or "Mount Journey"; and N'landorshien, or "Shadowpeak," survive today, accompanied by later human names for the other outer peaks: Bard's Hilt - Hunterhorn, and Mount Vision. These names hint at some lost and forgotten elven understanding of the peaks.
The thickly forested lands north of the Star Mounts are flat and smooth, whereas the lands to the south are gnarled, broken by ridges and gullies. The Unicorn Run and the Hartblood River both spring from these peaks, and high valleys hide in the heart of the Star Mounts. The fierce winds prevent all creatures less powerful than dragons from flying to the peaks, except that aarakocras seem to do so with ease.
In recent years, the ancient green wyrm Elaacrimalicros awakened in his lair among the highest Star Mounts and devoured most of the aarakocras. He also delights in raking intruding adventurers off mountainsides, protecting his privacy as if great treasure lies at the heart of the Star Mounts.
It well may. Elven adventurers report that huge crystals (some the size of human cottages) sprout on the Star Mount slopes. These could be dwellings or fortresses, though none look inhabited. All of these crystals create webworks of reflected light when moonlight strikes them. When the moon is full, a certain small central peak (hidden from observers outside the Star Mounts) is covered by patterns of light. These full-moon radiances are said to either open a portal to another plane, or to have the power to resurrect any creature laid within the spire-shaped ring of standing stones at the top of this hidden peak.
Unicorn Run: Flowing down from the Star Mounts in the High Forest to the valley of the River Delimbiyr, the Unicorn Run is known for its hundreds of waterfalls, its whitewater rapids, the fey communities that migrate along its banks, and occasional sightings of the creatures that gave the river its name.
Humans unacquainted with the High Forest could easily wander for weeks in its shaded ways, perishing of starvation or thirst before they find any particular site within its borders.
Hellgate Keep: In the days of Eaerlann, the city of Ascalhorn was a moon elf citadel. Human refugees occupied it after the fall of Netheril. Later the baatezu infiltrated Ascalhorn, secretly gaining control over ruling figures and the populace until 882 DR, when a number of wizards realized what had happened and summoned demons to destroy the baatezu. The warring fiends tore the city apart, and the victorious demons turned the city into the dreaded Hellgate Keep. For nearly five hundred years, Hellgate Keep gave the north end of the High Forest a bad name.
In 1368 DR, after attacks by elves had weakened the baatezu, members of the Harpers used powerful magic to destroy Hellgate Keep, killing most of the baatezu. The great treant leader Turlang moved in to seal off the area and keep the remaining fiends from causing more damage. At the present time, after several expeditions by adventurers who evaded Turlang or bargained for passage, the smoking crater that was Hellgate Keep seems pacified.
Olostin's Hold (Village, 800): This fortified keep between Everlund and Yartar shelters some two hundred permanent inhabitants and extends protection to another six hundred human farmers and ranchers. The only permanent human settlement of significant size in the High Forest, it survives thanks to the inhabitants' properly respectful attitude for the deities of the wood.
Long ago, when the elves truly ruled Faerûn, the kingdom of Eaerlann held sway in the High Forest. Eaerlann fell in 882 DR when Ascalhorn became Hellgate Keep. Soon after the elves began to slip away from the High Forest, embarking on their Retreat.
As the elves slowly vanished, the great treant Turlang carefully gathered his strength and took control of much of the northern High Forest, the area most threatened both by orcs and by the demons and devils that once resided in Hellgate Keep. Turlang's treants have gradually pushed the boundaries of the wood, moving the tall trees up the side of the Hellgate crater, miles past the former boundaries of the High Forest proper. Simultaneously, the High Forest near Everlund has crept several miles to k the north, coming within a hero's bowshot of the walls of Everlund. a In recent years, many wood elves who moved to Evermeet in the Retreat returned to Faerûn through portals into Evereska, then slipped northwest to join the wild elves of the High Forest. They seek nothing less than the reestablishment of the kingdom of Eaerlann. Thus far, the effort to retake their forest consists of a determination to handle problems with elven skills and elven magic, and to drive the orcs and gnolls from the woods.
Other elves within the great forest have actively evil intent. In ancient Eaerlann, the sun elf mages of House Dlardrageth made pacts with demons. For their crimes they were imprisoned deep beneath what would later become Hellgate Keep. The. destruction of the Keep freed them. While seeking to piece together their former magical arsenal, they rescued other sun elf tieflings who had been imprisoned for centuries by the moon elves. The various demon-spawned sun elves have joined forces under the orders of Countess Sarya Dlardrageth (CE female half-fiend Wiz17} They may never become organized enough to pose a serious threat to the settlements of the North, but anyone who discovers their lairs in buried elven ruins outside the High Forest finds them dangerous foes indeed.
Plots and Rumors
The High Forest is not to be traveled lightly. The treant Turlang is not necessarily hostile to humanoid races, but he's not predisposed to be friendly. Adventurers traveling through Turlang's lands need to use extreme caution, excessive speed, or unusual powers of persuasion.
The Memory of Steel: A sage notes that a magic weapon newly acquired (or perhaps long held) by a character was at one point a much more powerful item. It lost many of its powers in a magical battle could be restored if dipped into one of the Fountains of Memory atop the Lost Peaks.
The Savage Frontier
Population: 564,480 (humans 55%, orcs 20%, dwarves 5%, half-elves 5%, elves 4%, half-orcs 4%, halflings 4%, gnomes 2%)
Government: Free cities, tribes, clans
Religions: Nearly all
Imports: Books, manufactured items, magic items, miners, pottery, spices
Exports: Furs, gems, leather goods, mercenaries, precious metals, timber
The Savage Frontier includes the lands north of the Delimbiyr that are not strictly part of the High Forest, the Silver Marches, the Sword Coast North, or Waterdeep.
Compared to the well-cleared lands of the south, much of the Savage Frontier is either rugged mountains or virgin forest. Non-human races still hold sway here, and vast regions are virtually untraveled by humans. The elves and dwarves who occupied this land before the humans still make their presence felt - in songs, in attitudes, in place names... and in deeds. Many elves and half-elves remained in the North instead of retreating to Evermeet, and the dwarves are reclaiming their ancient kingdoms.
And the orcs? As the folk of the North say, "The orcs are always with us." Centuries of assaults from the Spine of the World do not appear likely to end any time soon.
Life and Society
The Savage Frontier is home to rough-and-tumble free cities, armed mining camps, trading outposts, fiercely independent freesteads, and wandering tribes of barbarians. This is a wilderness only lightly touched by human settlement, home to bloodthirsty marauders and terrible beasts that can descend on a settlement with no warning whatsoever. All able-bodied folk go armed here, even in sight their stockades and city walls.
The folk of the frontier are alert, serious, and self-reliant. Most owe fealty to no lord and prize their hard lifestyle. The lands of the North temper folk to steel. The comforts, vanities, and decadence the southern cities have no place in this cold, hard realm.
While some settlers come to these lands in search of territory to call their own, most are drawn by the great wealth of the frontier: valuable furs, vast forests, and rich ores in the snowy mountains. Ore and timber flow down the vast rivers of this land to the cities of the Sword Coast, or over the Black Road of the Zhents and across Anauroch to the Moonsea and the Dales.
Sidebar: The Uthgardt Barbarians.
Major Geographic Features
Some of Faerûn's most rugged and difficult terrain lies in the region west of Anauroch. The broad river valleys give way to range upon range of snow-covered mountains and seemingly endless forests. In winter, blizzards lasting weeks halt travel for hundreds of miles about, and the spring melts transform the great highways of this land - its broad rivers - into torrents of icy destruction impassable to anything without wings or magic.
The Evermoors: A region of bog-pocked hills, long rolling vistas, rocky ridges, and small peaks hiding deposits of valuable ores, the Evermoors are notorious for their numerous troll bands. Few humans have ever tried to tame this region, though it might be good, land for sheep herding or prospecting.
In recent years, giants from the frigid lands to the north of the Spine of the World have taken up residence in these wild lands. Most are savage hill giants little better than overgrown ogres. The citizens of Nesme, and as many adventurers as they can recruit, are too busy fending off the trolls displaced by the new arrivals to deal with giant trouble.
The Fallen Lands: A strip of rugged terrain on the west border of Anauroch, the Fallen Lands still bristle with magic energy left over from Netheril's fall. No doubt Anauroch will swallow the area if the Great Desert continues to expand for another hundred years.
The Fallen Lands serve as a refuge for monstrous beings who do not wish to be disturbed, including a gigantic beholder performing breeding experiments on captured enemies and its own kin. Rogue phaerimms lurk here as well.
Graypeak Mountains: This mountain range separates the Fallen Lands from the Delimbiyr River valley beside the High Forest. The range is named for its ubiquitous gray-skinned stone giants, some of whom are smart enough not to attack all travelers on sight. Graypeaks also offer bad weather, goblin keeps, numerous young dragons, and large packs of worgs led by barghest chieftains allied with the goblins.
River Dessarin: This great river carves the rough hills of the central North into a broad, gentle valley. It is the principal route for trade and commerce in this region, linking Waterdeep near its mouth, with Yartar and Silverymoon hundreds of miles upstream.
The Spine Of the World: To Faerûnians, the Spine of the World is simply an endless, nigh impassable wall of tall, frozen mountains that marks the end of the world. Beyond it lies the Endless Ice Sea, a howling, frigid waste where nothing can live, which eventually stretches through deadly white mists to divine realms. Citizens of Scornubel refer to this mountain range simply as the Wall. The propensity of the monstrous inhabitants of these peaks to raid the lands below keeps the conifer-cloaked, stag-roamed rolling foothills of the Wall relatively uninhabited, though fierce and hostile barbarian human tribes wander here.
Icewind Dale and other sites of interest to miners, collectively known as the Frozenfar, lie beyond the western Wall. Few of the ways across involve climbing or flying: Hill giants roam the mountain slopes, and the peaks and frozen high valleys are home to frost giants, white dragons, and yeti. Instead, those determined to reach the Frozenfar endure perilous underground scrambles through abandoned dwarfholds, some of which lead into mines that pierce through the massive range. Countless tribes of orcs, hobgoblins, bugbears, goblins, and giants call the dwarfholds and mountain caverns home, and darker things lurk in the lightless levels of the mines.
The wilderness itself is the most important feature of this region. Its weather and terrain are more dangerous than monsters, and its vast distances serve to isolate remote towns and settlements from all but the most determined travelers.
Griffon's Nest (Small City, 6,713): Kralgar Bonesnapper (NE male human Bbn5/Ftr6), the ruler of the Uthgardt settlement of Griffon's Nest dreams of crushing a walled city beneath the weapons of his barbarian horde and ruling as its master. He is not particular which city falls to him: Everlund, Neverwinter, or Waterdeep would suit his plans.
While preparing for his war of conquest Kralgar has created the most prosperous and well-organized settlement of Uthgardt barbarians in the North. Unlike other Uthgardt tribes, the Griffon tribe welcomes contact with outsiders, particularly adventurers who can teach them tricks to use against civilized fighters. Kralgar may eventually realize his dream by building a mighty wall around his holdings and proclaiming himself lord, since Griffon's Nest is already the equal of most of the small cities of the North.
Llorkh (Large Town, 3,051): Situated at the west end of the Black Road across Anauroch, Llorkh is a major caravan stop for the Zhents. In addition to the Zhent soldiery, the Lord Mayor Geildarr (CE male human Wiz7/Dev3 of Cyric) commands an army of three hundred purple-cloaked Lord's Men who protect the city against orcs, adventurers, and townspeople who do not appreciate the overt rule of the Zhents.
Loudwater, (Small City, 8,137): Originally built by a master dwarven artisan for his elven friends, this pleasant and prosperous city of humans and half-elves offers a well-defended rest stop for caravans and riverboats. Merchants and travelers who pass through twice eventually come back to stay. Zhent trade passing to and from Llorkh is enriching the leading merchants of the town, and Zhentarim agents based in Llorkh are scheming to subvert this city as well.
Out of the mists of ages long forgotten arose three great elven kingdoms - Illefarn, where Waterdeep now stands; Miyeritar, where the High Moor now lies; and Eaerlann, which lay along the valley of the River Delimbiyr. Under the Nether, Rauvin, Ruathym, and Ice Mountains and the valleys in between, the mighty dwarven kingdom of Delzoun stood. For thousands of years these realms held fast against the hordes of goblins, orcs, and worse that roamed the cold wilds and bitter mountains unclaimed by dwarf or elf.
Thousands of years before the beginning of Dalereckoning, bands of barbaric humans began to migrate north along the Sword Coast and establish kingdoms of their own. While this new threat to the elven realms grew stronger, the elves themselves turned on each other in the legendary Crown Wars. Miyeritar was destroyed by a terrible magic that slew every elf of the kingdom, leaving only the open, blasted High Moor behind, and the Ilythiki elves were cursed by Corellon Larethian and banished to the Underdark, becoming the ebon-hued drow.
East of these elven realms, along the shores of what was then the Narrow Sea, the human empire of Netheril arose and grew mighty. The archwizards of Netheril dominated northern Faerûn until the catastrophic fall of their kingdom, roughly three hundred years before the raising of the Standing Stone in the Dales. Netherese fleeing the deserts growing in their once fair land and the magical dooms sweeping across it fled to all corners of Faerûn, and many came to the North. Their settlements became the progenitors of cities such as Everlund, Loudwater, and Sundabar.
The dwarven realm of Delzoun fell soon after Netheril, inundated in the greatest outpouring of orcs ever seen in the North. And the elves of the North began to withdraw to Evermeet, abandoning their graceful cities and magical holds. To complete the fall of the great realms of the North, demons invaded Ascalhorn and transformed that place to the infamous Hellgate Keep, precipitating the final fall of Eaerlann.
Meanwhile, the steady trickle of human settlers north along the Sword Coast led to the founding of Nimoar's Hold, the settlement that would eventually grow into Waterdeep. The folk of Nimoar's Hold and other young human settlements battled the monstrous denizens of the region in the Trollwars of old. Cities and farmlands grew where stockades and forests had once stood, as year by year the new human cities tamed the great wilderness.
In the last ten years, the city of Silverymoon has become the capital of a new kingdom of humans, elves, and dwarves known as the Silver Marches (see the next entry). Dwarves have reclaimed Mithral Hall, one of the great dwarf-realms of old, and driven the orcs out of the Citadel of Many Arrows, renaming it Citadel Felbarr. The wood elves of the High Forest have set about driving the orcs from their lands as well. The North is changing, and the dark forces and powerful monsters of the Savage Frontier don't like what they see. A great storm is brewing in these lands.
Plots and Rumors
In addition to the constant threat posed by the numerous monsters of the Savage Frontier, more insidious perils are manifesting. The Zhentarim seek to extend their influence westward from Llorkh. The Kraken Society, an organization of spies, assassins, and sinister dealers in lore and knowledge, is well ensconced in Luskan and other coastal cities and dreams of subverting inland towns such as Yartar along the Dessarin valley. And the Arcane Brotherhood of Luskan contests the influence of Waterdeep's Lords over the region.
Barbaric Justice: An Uthgardt barbarian of the Black Lion tribe flees into the arms of an adventuring company on the road, pursued by a small party of warriors determined to hunt him down. The fugitive, a young hunter named Thurvald, claims that he is accused of a crime he did not commit, the murder of the shaman Bogohardt at Beorunna's WelL The pursuers, of course, say he's guilty.
If the heroes choose to protect Thurvald, the hunters are out matched by the party and can be driven off with a hard fight. They return in greater force later and trail Thuvald and the heroes wherever they go, even into the city of Silverymoon.
The heroes can simply turn over Thurvald to his pursuers ... but he really is innocent. Thurvald is a shapechanger (a snow leopard), a secret suspected by his tribe and known to the People of the Black Blood. Malar's cultists tried and failed to recruit Thurvald of his own free will, so they murdered the tribal shaman and framed Thurvald. They plan to let the Black Lion tribe inflict its harsh justice on Thurvald and then rescue him before he is killed.
Thurvald knows he was framed and knows the two Malar worshipers are responsible. To prove Thurvald's innocence, the heroes must track down the real murderers and expose their guilt.
Giant Opportunities: Taern Horn blade, the new High Mage of Silverymoon, perceives the arrival of the giants in the Evermoors as a chance to pacify the Silver Marches' western border. Silverymoon seeks agents to enter the Moors, identify and contact the most lawful and powerful giants of the area, and attempt to form an alliance to reduce the giants' threat to Silverymoon and Nesme to the west.
Population: 1,090,800 (humans 40%, dwarves 20%, elves 20%, half-elves 10%, halflings 5%, gnomes 2%, half-orcs 2%)
Government: Confederation of lords headed by Alustriel of Silverymoon
Religions: Corellon Larethian, Helm, Lathander, Mielikki, Moradin, Mystra, Oghma, Selûne, Sune, Tymora
Import: Armor, books, manufactured goods, pottery, spices, wine
Export: Dwarven and elven craftwork, furs, heroes, precious metals
Alignment: LG, NG, CG
Silverymoon is the Gem of the North, a city built as a center of learning and a symbol of the greatness that once shone out of the elven capital of Myth Drannor. Three years ago, the ruler of Silverymoon, High Lady Alustriel reached out to the rulers of other human, elven, and dwarven strongholds north of the High Forest, west of the Evermoors, and south of the great mountains. After much debate, the diverse dwarfholds, human and half-elven settlements, and human cities decided to ally in a mutual defense pact headed by Alustriel, who stepped down as ruler of Silverymoon in order to oversee the new confederacy of the Silver Marches. More on Silverymoon.
The present member settlements of the Silver Marches include Citadel Adbar, Citadel Felbarr, Deadsnows, Everlund, Jalanthar, Mithral Hall, Quaervarr, Silverymoon, and Sundabar.
Life and Society
The folk of the Silver Marches are confident, hopeful, and content. All around stands a wide and beautiful land, a promise of growth and prosperity for generations to come. Acting with care and respect, the humans hope to reap the riches of the forests and mountains without destroying what they touch, learning from elves and dwarves how to live with the land instead of bending the land to human whim. All people are free, all people may own land, and no one is guaranteed rights and privileges that are denied to others under the law. The Silver Marches represent the unfolding of a dream, a chance to forge a better Faerûn, and everyone from the poorest woodcutter to the richest city merchant senses the beginning of something extraordinary.
That said, the new confederation is not perfect. Just because humans, elves, and dwarves have set aside their differences in a few small cities in the North doesn't mean that the barbarians, orcs, gnolls, giants, and dragons of this forbidding landscape feel constrained to join them. Deadly enemies surround Alustriel's league and plot its downfall. The orc hordes of the high mountains grow strong again and arm for war; The drow of Menzoberranzan threaten the fledgling realm from the depths of the earth. And, as in most other places of Faerûn, the wreckage of ancient realms and the remnants of magical disasters wait under the forests and snows of the realm. Plagues and evils untold await those foolish enough to disturb them.
Sidebar: New Settlers.
Major Geographic Features
The Silver Marches generally includes the lands west of Anauroch, east of the River Surhrin, and north of the River Rauvin. Vast stretches of the forests and mountains within these borders are unsettled wilds.
The Cold Wood: A pine, birch, and spruce forest unmarked by civilized settlers or foresters, the Cold Wood is home to some Uthgardt tribes, who never cut down living trees. Snow tigers, orcs, and ettins roam the wood.
The Moonwood: The large forest north of Silverymoon is blessedly free of orcs and other goblinoids. Unfortunately, this state of affairs has little to do with the efforts of Silverymoon's rangers and much to do with the fearsome reputation of the lycanthropes who inhabit the forest's northern quarter. Many of these evil lycanthropes are members of the People of the Black Blood, a sect of Malar-worshipping werebeasts who resent the civilizing influence of Silverymoon.
Nether Mountains: Silverymoon may be civilized, but its people will never grow soft as long as they have to contend with the yearly tides of monsters that tire of the hard life in the mountain snows and look to the lowlands for plunder. The pass between Silverymoon and Sundabar is closed about six months of the year by heavy snows.
Rauvin Mountains: Goblin kingdoms and orc warrens infest these mountains. The River Rauvin passes through the peaks in a steep-sided, mist-filled gorge of roaring white water. A perilous trail climbs along the shoulder of the gorge through Dead Orc Pass to the north side of the Rauvins, but most travelers choose to pass around the mountains to the east, since the pass is the home of a particularly strong and aggressive orc tribe.
The heart of the Silver Marches is the upper and lower valley of the River Rauvin. Winding for hundreds of miles in the shadow of the Nether Mountains and the Evermoors, the Rauvin marks a narrow ribbon of civilization and security in an otherwise inhospitable land. Along the Rauvin lie the farmsteads and settlements that feed Silverymoon and Everlund, and its swift cold waters carry trade from Sundabar all the way to Waterdeep.
Beorunna's Well (Large Town, 2,139): The ancestral home of the Uthgardt Black Lion tribe, this is a huge pit containing their ancestor mound. The rough village of the Black Lions lies nearby. The Black Lions have abandoned their traditional ways and settled to farm, herd, and hunt the nearby forests.
Citadel Adbar (Large City, 19,962): The dwarves who populate this militarily powerful fortress live underground in miles of twisting, dwarf-sized corridors. Adbar's aboveground citadel may be the mightiest fortress north of Amn, having withstood nearly a hundred major orc attacks over the centuries. Reaching Adbar is difficult: Merchant caravans generally travel through the Underdark from Mithral Hall or Mirabar. And caravans do come, to supply the dwarves with fruits and surface-grown vegetables and return with metals or fine dwarven craftworks. Humans and elves find Citadel Adbar a difficult place to relax in: It's too cramped and too cold, and the stench of the metalworks (placed aboveground instead of below, where the dwarves live) reminds the elves, at least, of nothing less than an orc siegeworks.
Citadel Felbur (Small City, 6,987): A former dwarven citadel given over to humans when the dwarves retreated into deeperholds, Felbarr fell to orcs three hundred years ago. Renamed the Citadel of Many Arrows by its new masters, it stood as an example of how orcs could conquer the weaker folk of the south.
Centuries later, in 1367 DR, a huge orc. horde moving south against the settled cities paused in front of the orc citadel, held by a chief calling himself King Obould. Instead of pressing on to the human lands, the horde besieged their fellows inside. After a four- month siege, the invaders broke down the gates and entered the main keep, but a strong dwarven force fell on both tribes and seized the citadel out from under the orcs' tusks.
King Emerus Warcrown (LG male shield dwarf Ftr16), took control of the citadel, hanging on through the first bitter winter until six hundred shield dwarf reinforcements could march up from the south to join his forces. Warcrown's people are now well established and determined not to lose their citadel again.
Meanwhile, north in the Spine of the World, Obould, who escaped the fall of his citadel, is gathering forces for another assault upon the lands he once mastered. He is aware of the Silver Marches defense pact and is attempting to determine how best to strike through the alliance's weak spots.
Everlund (Large City, 21,388): A walled city of humans, elves, half-elves, and halflings, Everlund is a caravan trading city and a solid ally of Silverymoon: Its Council of Six Elders is part of the Lords' Alliance.
Everlund faces threats from all sides. The trolls who used to occupy the Evermoors could be counted on to be stupid and predictable. Not so the giants who have replaced them. To the city's south, the huge trees of the High Forest are growing closer and closer to Everlund's walls. The great treant Turlang is expanding the High Forest to the north, ostensibly in order to bury the remains of Hellgate Keep off to the east. No one thinks that taking an axe to the trees is a good idea, but urban human pursuits are substantially less relaxed in the shadow of the great trees.
Jalanthar (Hamlet, 314): Jalanthar is a collection of two hundred or so human trappers, hunters, and rangers who inhabit both the ruins of their former village and a network of caves in the hills. At first glance, visitors assume that Jalanthar is a dying community, crushed by its wars with the orcs. Nothing could be further from the truth. By both necessity and aptitude, the locals have become expert orc fighters, trackers, and guides. instead of sticking to their original clan ties, all the humans of the region cooperate in defense, hunting, and magic. Jalanthar rangers are proud to be in demand throughout the rest of the Silver Marches.
Mithral Hall (Large Town, 4,991): Mithral Hall was once the greatest of the northern shield dwarf holds. Around 180 years ago, it fell to a shadow dragon named Shimmergloom, let loose from the Shadow Plane into Faerûn when members of Clan Battlehammer dug too deeply in search of mithril. Shimmergloom slew most of the dwarves and took possession of the hall along with his entourage of shadow monsters and duergar. Things were not set right until 1356 DR, when Bruenor Battlehammer (NG male shield dwarf Ftr13) returned from Icewind Dale to slay Shimmergloom.
Bruenor drove out the duergar and retook the hall, proclaiming himself the Eighth King of Mithral Hall. Shield dwarves from all over the north, particularly children of the Thunder Blessing generation, have marched to Bruenor's side to mine mithril and finish cleaning out the Underdark beneath the hold. Mithral Hall's resurgence has strengthened the Silver Marches by providing Silverymoon with an energetic sister city and a staunch ally in war.
Quaervarr (Small Town, 1,212): A junior partner in the Silver Marches, Quaervarr is a woodland town of humans and half-elves. Wits in Silverymoon joke that Quaervarr is worth having in the alliance simply to preserve its fine inn, The Whistling Stag.
Silverymoon (Metropolis, 37,073): The city of Silverymoon is a beautiful place of ancient trees and soaring towers, with curving lines in its stonework and garden plantings adorning every nook and balcony. Aerial steeds carry riders on high, magic and learning is revered, music and laughter are heard often in the streets, and the city contains fascinating shops brim-full of maps, books, minor magic items, and beautiful things.
Even more so than Waterdeep, Silverymoon is built on the spirit of cooperation between the races. Humans, elves, and dwarves all maintain dwellings in the same areas of the city instead of dividing into separate wards. A human home might be built around the base of a tree, with elves using the tree above as part of the walkway to their central tree home, and dwarves caverns beneath the surface. - Silverymoon is considered the foremost center of learning and culture in the North. It is noted for its musicians, its cobblers, its sculptors, and its stonemasons - as well as the mages, who are gathered here in greater numbers than in any other city of the Sword Coast lands except Waterdeep. Their might alone keeps the Arcane Brotherhood of Luskan and other evils of the North at bay - were these mages to vanish tomorrow, the civilized North might well be swept away in blood and ruin.
Silverymoon boasts a conservatory of music, a great library, parks, castle-like residences of many noble folk, and temples and shrines to such deities as Helm, Lathander, Mielikki, Milil, Mystra, Oghma, Selûne, Silvanus, Suno, Tymora, and the dwarven and elven deities. Perhaps the most famous structure is the University of Silverymoon; a school of magic composed of several formerly separate colleges. Member schools include The Lady's college (serving both sorcerers and bards), Miresk's School of Thaumaturgy, and Foclucan, a legendary bard's college that has reopened (having taken a century off after being overrun by orcs).
The city's army, the Knights in Silver, numbers over five hundred and patrols the city constantly. Harper scouts and mages assist them, and when they must turn back orc hordes, awesome mage-might gathers to fight with them, Silverymoon is also protected by a number of wards that detect the presence of evil beings and the use of magic in certain areas. Even long-time Silveraen know little about the properties of the permanent magical field that augments some magic, turns other spells wild, and negates still others, protecting the city east of its great open market. Certain areas in the palace (a place heavily guarded at all times by mages of the elite Spellguard) have an Inner Ward that requires possession of a token to allow entry at all.
The city's peace and goodwill is due to the influence of powerful local mages and the Harpers. Silverymoon's folk feel safe and that's due to the vigilance of the mages and agents trained and established by Alustriel.
In 1369 DR, the Lady Alustriel stepped down as High Mage, yielding up the Silver Throne to Taern "Thunderspell" Hornblade (LG male human Wiz18). Alustriel is the High Lady, or Speaker, of the Silver Marches and leads the league councils.
More on Everlund and Sundabar.
Sundabar (Large City, 14,259): The area around Sundabar is occupied only by obsessed miners, howling orcs, and citizens of Sundabar who should know better. The double-walled city was built for war. Sundabar's ruler, Helm Dwarf-friend (NG male human Ftr1O/Rgr5 of Mielikki) started his career as a member of the Bloodaxe Mercenary Company, rising to command both the mercenaries and his chosen city. He has turned out to be a wise ruler, taxing his people fairly and using the proceeds to ensure his city's defense against orc invasions, which flood in every two or three years and break on Sundabar's sturdy walls. The Everfire, a zealously guarded volcanic rift beneath Sundabar, is the source of some of the finest magic weapons of Faerûn.
Like the rest of Faerûn, the Silver Marches is built over the ruins of lands that existed long before. In this instance, the old kingdoms are the elven realm of Eaerlann formerly based in the High Forest, the dwarf realm of Delzoun underneath Ascore, and the human empire of NeyheriL None of these three occupied all the land now accounted part of the Silver Marches, but their settlements and borders overlapped in this region in various eras.
The city of Silverymoon is the heart of the Silver Marches and the bright hope of the North. Founded on a place sacred to the nature deities Mielikki and Lurue the Unicorn, Silverymoon developed around the Moonsilver Inn. The holy groves at Silverymoon Ford lay near where the River Rauvin was shallow, and could be forded in high summer and easily bridged to allow crossings year-round.
Silver Village grew slowly into Silverymoon Town, and Silverymoon became a city in 637 DR, when its first set of walls was completed. The first of twelve High Mages to rule the city thus far was elected. Ecamane Truesilver and his nine apprentices established a school and a library and set about educating the local warriors, trappers, loggers, and fisherfolk. From that day forth, successive High Mages have pursued the goal of making Silverymoon the Myth Drannor of the North, a beacon of culture, learning, sophistication, and racial harmony.
Alustriel became the first High Mage of Silverymoon unanimously chosen by the people, and ruled long and well until 1369 DR. She stepped down, appointed Taern Homblade as High Mage, and set about creating a new realm in the Sword Coast North with Silverymoon at its heart. Today, Silverymoon is a rich, sophisticated, and exciting place to live, truly the Gem of the North.
Plots and Rumors
Adventurers come to the Silver Marches to advance the cause of civilization by scouring the land for monster lairs, cleansing dangerous ruins, and driving orc raiders back to their mountain dens. Silverymoon's growth and prosperity have brought new enemies though - the merchants and proud lords of cities such as Luskan and Yartar who grow jealous of the riches that flow through the Silver Marches.
Dark Deeds in Ascore: The ruined dwarven city of Ascore on the border of Anauroch was once the gateway to the realm of Deizoun, a rich seaport on the long-vanished Narrow Sea. An expedition from the City of Shade has set up a temporary camp in the ruins, driving off any adventurers who come to explore the old dwarven city. A survivor from one of these adventuring companies reports that a mighty archmage leads the shade effort, which seems to be centered around a strange pool of liquid shadow surrounded by thirteen odd, pyramid-like structures. What are the shades up to? What might they unleash in their efforts to achieve their objective?
Missing Emissary: Two tendays ago, a wizard escorted by four Everlund rangers went into the High Forest to speak with Turlang about the trees' advance upon Everlund's walls. All contact with the wizard has been lost, though divination spells indicate that the wizard, at least, is still alive. Did the wizard pay the price for delivering bad news to Turlang, or did she fall prey to one of the forest's other perils?
The Sword Coast North
Population: 660,960 (humans 65%, dwarves 10%, orcs 5%, half orcs 5%, elves 4%, halflings 4%, gnomes 2%, half-elves 1%)
Government: Diverse city-states
Religions: Nearly all
Imports: Books, manufactured items, magic items, miners, pottery, spices
Exports: Gems, leather goods, mercenaries, Neverwinter's crafts, precious metals, timber
A region of coastal mountains, forests, and cities of smoke-wreathed ironworks, the Sword Coast North is dominated by Waterdeep at its southernmost end. The City of Splendors is detailed separately in the Waterdeep entry, below.) The Lords' Alliance, a loose league of like-minded rulers led by Waterdeep, allies the good cities and small settlements of the Dessarin valley in this region. The Arcane Brotherhood of Luskan and the insidious Kraken Society oppose their efforts, seeking to rule this region by spell, sword, and trade.
Major Geographic Features
Between Waterdeep and the Spine of the World lies a wedge-shaped land along the coast of the Sea of Swords, roughly seven hundred miles north to south and almost two hundred miles east to west at its uppermost extent. Around the westernmost end of the Spine of the World is Icewind Dale, the northernmost settled land in this part of Faerûn, which lies between the Sea of Moving Ice and the Reghed Glacier. The Long Road stretching from Waterdeep to Mirabar defines the eastern extent of the Sword Coast North.
Ardeep Forest: A short day's ride outside the walls of Waterdeep, Ardeep was the home of moon elves who could remember when their forest had stretched all the way to the High Forest and beyond. Some echo of elven power still remains in the woods, and evil creatures do not feel comfortable among its tall blueleaf, duskwood, and weirwood trees.
Mere of Dead Men: Centuries ago, thousands of human, dwarven, and elven warriors died in this salt marsh beneath the swords of an invading orc army. Between infestations of bullywugs, sivs, lizardfolk, and the black dragon twins Voaraghamanthar and Waervaerendor, the mere has gone from bad to terrifying. Drawn by tales of treasures sunk in half-submerged castles, adventuring parties continue to trickle into the area, emerging somewhat reduced in number.
Neverwinter Wood: This charmed forest to the east of the city of Neverwinter is perpetually warmed by the Neverwinter River that flows from beneath the dormant volcano Mount Hotenow. Humans, and even orcs, fear the wood and tend to avoid it.
Unlike other forests with dangerous reputations, the Neverwinter seldom disgorges great monsters or evil forces - the unease felt by those who know they do not belong in Neverwinter Wood stems partly from a terrible anticipation that the wood could do them damage it if chose.
The Sea of Moving Ice: Arctic ice floes pivot around permanent rocky outcroppings in the Trackless Sea. The floes are home to orc tribes, animals, and other creatures who can or must survive in the cold.
Roads and trails crisscross this corner of Faerûn. Few of them are entirely safe. Banditry and brigandage threaten travelers, especially on the wilder stretches of the road.
Goldenfields (Small City, 7,988): Tolgar Anuvien of Waterdeep (NG male human Clr16/Dis3 of Chauntea) founded this city thirteen tears ago as an abbey to his deity. Under his careful administration, Goldenfields has grown into a fortified farmland covering more than thirty square miles, making it by far the North's largest city in terms of area.
Unlike the great fields of Amn and Sembia that seek only profit, Goldenfields is an ongoing act of devotion to Chauntea. Waterdeep and other cities of the North depend on Goldenfields for grain and produce. Tolgar relies on adventurers and alliances with powerful wizards for defense against frequent barbarian raids, orc attacks, and worse.
Icewind Dale (Confederation, 10,436): The northernmost human land below the great glaciers and the sea of ice, Icewind Dale is a collection of ten towns and villages populated. by former nomads, tundra barbarians, rangers, hardy craftspeople, ice fishers, dwarves who live beneath the ice, and merchants willing to brave its harsh climate to purchase ivory and gems unavailable in the south. Reindeer, polar bears, elk, and yeti are more numerous than people. White dragons are thankfully not as numerous, but any number of dragons counts as a lot.
Luskan (Large City, 14,173): Also known as the City of Sails, Luskan is one of the dominant cities of the northern Sea of Swords. It is populated by Northlanders from Ruathym, most of whom sailed as pirates in the past. A council of five High Captains, all former pirate lords, rules the city, but the true power lies in the hands of the evil mage society called the Arcane Brotherhood. The Brotherhood generally avoids conflicts with Waterdeep and Amn, preferring to pick on smaller cities and merchants who cannot defend themselves.
In 1361 DR, folk of Luskan conquered the native isle of the Northlanders, Ruathym. They were forced to withdraw by the Lords' Alliance, and are so bitter about their 1055 of face that they now turn a blind eye when pirates who dock in their waters attempt to prey on Waterdeep's shipping.
Mirabar (Small City, 10,307): Mirabar is the mining center for the Sword Coast. The city's shield dwarves live underground to over see their workshops. The humans above cooperate with the dwarves to handle the mining, move the ore to market, and defend the city against magical threats. The nominal ruler of Mirabar is a hereditary marchion, but the true power is an assembly called the Council of Sparkling Stones, a dwarven and human group that meets once a year to determine target production quotas and whether or not to threaten current clients with reduced output.
Neverwinter (Large City, 23,192): A walled city of humans and half-elves, Neverwinter is cultured without being arrogant, bustling without being greedy, and charming without being quaint. The city is best known for the products of its master craftsfolk: lamps of multicolored glass, precision water clocks, and exquisite jewelry. It is also famous for its gardens, heated by the supernaturally warm waters of the Neverwinter River. The gardens fill the markets with fruit in the summer and enliven winter with flowers.
The city's three architectural marvels are its bridges: the Dolphin, the Winged Wyvern, and the Sleeping Dragon. Each bridge is intricately carved into a likeness of the creature it is named after. Neverwinter and its ruler, Lord Nasher Alagondar (LG male human Ftr1/Chm4 of Tyr) nearly always side with Waterdeep against Luskan and the orcs.
Stone Bridge: This massive stone arch, a mile long and one hundred feet wide, reaches a height of one hundred fifty feet as it arches over the River Dessarir. The massive stone statues of four dwarves, two at either end, stand fifty feet tall. Dwarves built the bridge five thousand years ago to give themselves a walkway over the river no matter how high it flooded. Something in the magic of the bridge pinned the Dessarin in place: No matter how the river has snaked and changed its course, it always runs under the Stone Bridge at exactly the same point. The dwarves say the Stone Bridge has survived thousands of years of earthquakes, floods, and battles because it is sacred to Moradin.
The story of the Sword Coast North is the story of the vanishing of old, nonhuman realms and the establishment of Waterdeep and the Northlander cities. (Waterdeep's story is discussed in detail in the next entry.) The first great realm to rise in this part of the world was Illefarn, a kingdom of elves and dwarves that existed thousands Of years ago. The first dungeons under Mount Waterdeep were delved by these folk.
Illefarn was a contemporary of Netheril and survived its fall, lasting until its elven rulers abandoned Faerûn for Evermeet a few hundred years before the beginning of Dalereckoning. After the fall of the great realms, humans migrated into these lands and built freeholds, towns, and keeps along the river valleys and at the harbors. The first Northlander longships arrived in the region during the last centuries of the Illefarn empire. The Northlanders colonized the island of Ruathym and spread to all the islands in the northern seas. Others migrated north, past the Spine of the World, and became the founders of Icewind Dale.
In the wake of Eaerlann's fall in the 9th century DR, elves, dwarves, Northlanders, and Netherese descendants from Ascalhorn formed Phalorm, the Realm of Three Crowns, which attempted to mirror the accomplishments of Myth Drannor to the east. It lasted only a century before orc hordes swept it away. Its successor, the Kingdom of Man, had an even briefer existence. Civilization lost its grip on these lands until Wateideep grew strong enough to drive the orcs back to the Spine of the World. The city of Luskan was founded on the wreckage of the orc realm of Illuskan, and the towns of the Dessarin valley - Trihoar, Longsaddle, Secomber, and others -were settled.
With prosperity and civilization come new threats. No orc horde a can sweep away the well-established cities of this region, but powerful forces conspire to rule this land in other ways.
Plots and Rumors
Luskan's Arcane Brotherhood grows more and more aggressive each year, overtly threatening Mirabar and Neverwinter. Ten years ago, the Lords' Alliance threatened war to avert Luskan's conquest of Ruathym; but few of the leaders in this area wish to embark on a bloody and expensive crusade on behalf of the pirate chiefs of Ruathym.
Fire Rescue: Something is killing the fire elementals that live beneath Mount Hotenow in Neverwinter Wood. Ordinarily, humans and elves don't care about the life and death of outsiders from the Elemental Plane of Fire, but Neverwinter relies on the supernatural warmth that flows out of the Neverwinter River as it bubbles up through the fire elementals' home beneath Mount Hotenow. If the fire elementals all leave, the river will freeze over, and winter will finally come to Neverwinter.
The Kraken's Tentacles: Semmonemily (NE doppelganger Sor12) is busily subverting the city of Yartar by uniting two disparate organizations - the Hands of Yartar, the city's fractious thieves' guild, and a powerful wererat clan lead by Nalynaul the Shriveled, a cunning illithilich. Semmonemily plots to murder the Waterbaron Bellee the Kheldorna and assume her place, making the Hands the secret rulers of the town while the Kraken Society rules the Hands.
Population: 1,347,840 (humans 64%, dwarves 10%, elves 10%, halflings 5%, half-elves 5%, gnomes 3%, half-orcs 2%) (City Waterdeep, Metropolis, 132,661)
Government: Oligarchy (the Lords of Waterdeep, anonymous autocratic rulers)
Religions: All, especially Deneir, Mystra, and Oghma
Imports: Grain, livestock, leather, ore, timber, and exotic goods from all lands
Exports: Ale, arms, cloth, furnishings, leather goods, pottery, refined metals, and all other sorts of finished goods
Waterdeep is the major cosmopolitan power of Faerûn. It benefits from an excellent harbor, wise rule, a tolerant spirit, and a powerful magical tradition that generally produces stronger good wizards than evil wizards. Waterdeep contains at least one of nearly everything, but it's not a melting pot - instead, it's like a gem grinder, smoothing individuals' rough edges so that their talents shine brighter.
The city's nickname, the City of Splendors, is never said sarcastically; People know that Waterdeep is a marvel and that life is better, or at least more bizarre, there. If Waterdhavians have one notable fault, it's a tendency to think that there is nothing new under the sun and they treat the entire sum of human and nonhuman experience as their potential cultural heritage. This fault is not always a bad thing.
Life and Society
The City of Splendors is undeniably a place where things happen, an important center of trade and change. Waterdhavians merely accept this as a fact and never think on why, or how it became so. The astute see that Waterdeep is a city of wealth where the rich gather to trade, and in trading with others generate wealth with a swiftness unknown in backcountry Faerûn. The coins are the fire under the cauldron.
The cauldron itself, and the spoons that stir it, are the local powers locked in an endless struggle for supremacy, striving against each other in ways large and small. These are the guilds, nobles, trading costers, mercenary bands, city authorities, criminal organizations, individual citizens seeking daily sustenance, and newcomers seeking fortunes.
Some folk find life in Waterdeep to be a wine they can't stop drinking. Powers of all sorts, from cults and trade cabals to wizards' organizations and foreign rulers, find it expedient to have spies and even assassins active in Waterdeep at all times. Although the City of Splendors has plenty of room for anyone with coin to spend, it is also the place where every private moment may be seen or over-heard by someone else. Many Waterdhavians rent secret rooms or establish false identities to avoid their enemies' ears.
Without some attention to the organizations that hold Waterdeep together, discussion of its various geographical features and land marks misses the forest for all the trees.
City Watch: One of two armed bodies maintained by the city from Castle Waterdeep, the Watch functions as a police force. Watchfolk dress in green, black, and gold uniforms. They are well trained and well equipped with leather armor, clubs, and short swords. They would rather talk problems over than use force of arms, but if fighting is required, they use horns to summon reinforcements.
City Guard: Like the City Watch, the Guard is headquartered in Castle Waterdeep. Unlike the Watch, the Guard is made up of professional soldiers responsible for defending the city, protecting the gates, and guarding important citizens and locations. Guards wear scale or chain shirts and carry short swords and shortbows.
Guilds: Once upon a time, the merchants' and craftsfolks' guilds ruled the city. Waterdeep barely survived the strife. These days, the guilds focus on the commercial and professional enterprises they handle best and (usually) leave the politicking to the Lords. Waterdeep's thieves' guild, the Xanathar's Guild, has been driven into Skullport, far beneath the city.
Lords' Alliance: The Lords of Waterdeep oversee a council composed of themselves and the lords of other merchant powers of the Sword Coast, as well as those inland cities whose interests closely match Waterdeep's.
Lords of Waterdeep: A council of sixteen members who keep their identities secret rules Waterdeep. The Lords appear in public only when masked and magically protected from divinations and other forms of magic. Piergeiron the Paladinson (LG male human Pal15 of Tyr), Warden of Waterdeep and Commander of the Watch, is the only Open Lord (unmasked), and his palace in the center of Castle Ward is the seat of government. Speculation on the identity of the other lords is a sporting pastime in Waterdeep. All that is certain is that they are competent and fair rulers, which is more than most cities could hope for, much less other cities whose rulers wear masks.
Watchful Order of Magists and Protectors: All wizards and sorcerers must join this semiguild in order to practice magic in Waterdeep. Membership costs 40 gp, with no yearly dues. Members can purchase rare magical components and some magic items at the Tower of the Order, the headquarters of the guild.
Major Geographic Features
Waterdeep commands the countryside for thirty or forty miles about, but the city itself is the chief feature. Waterdeep is divided into several major sections known as "wards," each of which contains innumerable businesses, residences, or other buildings.
Castle Ward: Castle Ward, at the center of the city, includes Mount Waterdeep, its castle, the Palace of Waterdeep (occupied by Piergeiron), and the homes of some prosperous Waterdhavians.
Dock Ward: Compared to the rest of the city, Dock Ward is dirty, smelly, clumsily built, and dangerous. In the words of Elminster himself, Dock Ward is a "riotous, nigh-perpetual brawl that covers entire acres, interrupted only by small buildings, intermittent trade businesses, an errant dog or two, and a few brave watchguards (who manage to keep the chaos from spreading beyond the docks), the whole lot wallowing in the stench of rotting fish."
North Ward: North Ward is primarily the home of the wealthy middle class, lesser nobles, and well-to-do merchants.
Sea Ward: the wealthiest ward of the city, Sea Ward is home to noble families. It features broad streets, wondrous statues, bright and expensive shops, and its own arena, the Field of Triumph.
Southern Ward: Also known as Caravan City, the Southern Ward serves as the staging, loading, and unloading zone for caravans passing through the southern gates into the city. "South," as it is known to locals, is well patrolled by the City Watch and accustomed to providing newcomers to the city with lodging, information, food, and entertainment.
Trades Ward: Waterdeep's commercial section never truly closes, and work stops only during festivals. - By night, candles, lanterns, oil lamps, and continual flames keep Trades Ward's streets and shops glowing, with staff who sleep by day to sell to those who shop by night The city's major guilds have their headquarters in Trades Ward, near the businesses they work for or own.
Adventure awaits around every corner in Waterdeep's streets, or a short ride away in the Ardeep Forest or Sword Mountains.
Castle Waterdeep: High on Mount Waterdeep, this great fortress bristles with mighty catapults that repel invaders who attack through the harbor. The most recent victims of the castle's bombardment were the sahuagin that attacked in 1369 DR. Both the City Guard and the City Watch are headquartered in Castle Waterdeep.
City of the Dead: A huge cemetery, the City of the Dead is open to the public during the day and sealed off and patrolled at night. Citizens and strangers who want their deeds to go unobserved operate in the shadows of the tombs. The graves themselves benefit from various levels of magical protection - some tombs are actually doorways into magical planes, pocket dimensions that cannot support life but serve as burial zones for unlimited numbers of honored nobles and fondly remembered commoners.
New Olamn: One of Faerûn's few bardic colleges, New Olamn occupies the site of former mountaintop villas on Mount Waterdeep. With luck, this newly reopened incarnation of the college will rival the schools in Silverymoon.
Undermountain: Before the founding of Waterdeep, a wizard settled on the slopes of Mount Waterdeep with seven apprentices. None know the origins of Halaster Blackcloak, the Mad Wizard, but he's said to have devised many spells now widely known. Halaster summoned and bound creatures from other planes to build his tower.
Halaster's creatures - some of whom hunted humans by night - dug extensive storage tunnels beneath his abode. At length, their tunnels broke into the large, grand Underhalls, old dwarven delvings of the long-vanished Melairkyn clan. Halaster eradicated the drow infesting the halls and moved entirely into the subterranean ways, leaving behind his tower. His curious apprentices, abandoned on the surface, explored the underground lair but found only traps baited with powerful magic (and enigmatic messages hinting that "true power" awaited them below). One by one, as their courage and capabilities allowed, the seven descended in search of their master. They found a strange, dangerous labyrinth where Halaster stored his treasures, experiments, victuals and necessities, magic items, and servants - kept safe (he thought) from spying, theft, and attack.
As time passed and Waterdeep grew around the mountain's base, expeditions of armed adventurers into Halaster's stronghold grew numerous. He roamed planes to collect monsters and moved his operations deeper into the endless Underdark. Undermountain became known as a place of horrors, the lair of terrible monsters. Halaster himself grew old, mighty, and insane.
The warrior Durnan (NG male human Ftr18) and others who explored Undermountain spoke of its riches, hazards, and vast passages. Many who were desperate for wealth, bored, or escaping pursuit went down the shafts in Durnan's inn, the Yawning Portal. Some returned, now rich for life, and greed kept the adventurous coming. Some in Waterdeep whisper that the Lords still sentence defiant criminals to Undermountain, to die or find their own ways free.
Halaster, it is said, still roams the dozen levels and twice that many sublevels of Undermountain, watching from the walls. The Lords of Waterdeep turn a deaf ear to reports of entire temples below them (notably the promenade of Eilistraee) and even an entire lawless trading community in the depths, Skullport. Sea caves are connected via great sling-hoists to the waters of Undermountain, allowing sea captains to smuggle cargoes to and from the drow and darker beings who dwell in wicked Skullport The Lords forbid slavery in Waterdeep, but do not interfere when unsavory folk are smuggled out or down by this route.
Elminster described Undermountain best "The most famous battlefield in which to earn a reputation as a veteran adventurer - and the largest known grave of heroes in Faerûn."
Skullport (Large Town, 2,123): The dark twin to Waterdeep's light soul, Skullport is a subterranean city connected to both Undermountain and a great sea in the Underdark. Skullport is tolerated, barely, by the Lords of Waterdeep, because the madness and chaos it houses might otherwise rise to the surface and destroy the City of Splendors. Agents of Waterdeep monitor the city's buried twin and sometimes carry out missions here, but they generally refrain from acting unless Skullport's denizens plot against the city above.
The sprawling, bustling City of Splendors, the most energetic and eclectic trading center of modern Faerûn, began as a good harbor along the storm-clawed Sword Coast, where ports for ships are sparse. An arm of Mount Waterdeep sheltered a bay where deep water came almost right up to shore.
Of the long history of this place, much has been lost. It is known the that by -1088 DR, annual spring and fall trade had begun at the site. Tribes slowly settled and farmed the cleared land, and inevitably fought over it. The wizard Halaster arrived, built his tower, and abandoned it for Undermountain. The local tribes were conquered and united by Ulbaerag Bloodhand, who was in turn defeated by Nimoar the Reaver in 882 DR. Nimoar built a permanent hold inside a wooden palisade, where the north end of present-day Waterdeep stands, and the hold withstood both pirate and tribal raids. Before his death in 936 DR, Nimoar led his warriors in the First Trollwar, scouring the lands east and north the of the growing city of trolls and orcs. Later "War Lords of the Hold" fought and fell in the decade-long Second Trollwar.
In 952 DR, the wizard Ahghairon became special advisor to the War Lord of Waterdeep. His magic led to the decisive defeat of the trolls. The Free City of Waterdeep grew in size and wealth, and under the wise guidance of Ahghairon, Castle Waterdeep (then just a simple keep) was built. Over decades, the wealth and growth of Waterdeep made its rulers proud. Such a one was Raurlor, who dreamed of founding an "Empire of the North," with Waterdeep as its capital and himself on its throne.
In 1032 DR, Raurlor raised an army to conquer anyone who dared stand in his path. Ahghairon defied him in public assembly. The enraged Raurlor attacked the wizard with his sword but Ahghairon transformed Raurlor's blade into a serpent, which bit and slew the Warlord of Waterdeep. Ahghairon then took the throne and proclaimed himself first Lord of Waterdeep. Ahghairon decreed that he would rule as an equal with masked Lords of unknown identity, gathered from Waterdhavians of all walks of life.
Ahghairon brought order to Waterdeep, founding the City Guard and City Watch. He ruled for two hundred years, during which time the city grew in size and prosperity. The city wards were established in 1035 DR, and the city's guilds in 1248 DR. The city expanded its walls several times, and the flow of wealth never ceased nor shrank, year by year.
In 1256 DR, Ahghairon's longevity magic failed, and he died. A ruling Council of Guildmasters governed until the Guildwars of 1262, in which all but two Guildmasters perished. Those two nobles proclaimed themselves the Two Lords Magister: During their rule, the Shadow Thieves established themselves in the city. Graft and corruption were rife, and public safety could only be purchased in the form of combative bodyguards.
Two long-hidden Lords, Baeron and Shilarn, emerged in 1273 DR and slew the Two Lords Magister. They established the present system of justice, with magisters who serve as judges. The Shadow Thieves were outlawed, Baeron proclaimed himself the Open Lord of Waterdeep, and Waterdeep's official permanent taxed population reached one hundred thousand.
Three years later, Baeron and Shilarn had a daughter, Lhestyn, who was to become one of the greatest Lords of Waterdeep. In that same year, the city reached its present boundaries, and the ranks of the Lords were increased to sixteen. Operating as the Masked Lady, Lhestyn later infiltrated and exposed the Shadow Thieves still operating in the city, breaking their power.
In 1302 Dk, the adventurers Mirt and Durnan emerged from Undermountain as rich men. Tales of their adventures spread, luring others who followed their trail down to riches or death. Six years later, Baeron and Shilarn died. Lhestyn became Open Lord in her father's place, and the Palace of Waterdeep was built.
Upon Lhestyn's death in 1314 DR, her chosen successor, Piergeiron, became Open Lord. His rule continues to the present day, though he has been grooming his daughter, Aleena Paladinstar (LG female human Ftr3/Wiz12) to succeed him. Khelben Arunsun and his lady Laeral Silverhand of the Seven Sisters are local heroes. Waterdeep has survived deities battling in the streets, the destruction of Myrkul, and the ascension of Cyric and the new Mystra.
Through it all, the city has rolled on; ever busy and ever a source of excitement, vigor, new adventures, gossip, and adventure.
Plots and Rumors
Waterdeep is the beginning and end of a thousand plots and schemes across the North.
Missing: The heroes are retained by an elven noble named Saeval Baelythin to find his nephew Nuvruil, an ambitious young mage. Lord Saeval has heard that his nephew was last known to be in Waterdeep, and he wants the heroes to deliver a vital message to him. On arriving in Waterdeep, though, the heroes learn that Nuvruil and his company of adventurers descended into the Undermountain a tenday past and have not been seen or heard of since. Finding Nuvruil in the Undermountain is a daunting task, to say the least, but if the young elven lord is injured or trapped, the heroes may be his only hope.
Return from Exile: For almost a century the Shadow Thieves have been banished from Waterdeep, but rumors persist of a new guild rising in the Trades Ward.
Clever and resourceful rogues with potent magical assistance are pilfering the city's shops, terrifying the merchant princes, and assassinating city officials who prove too inquisitive. The city folk whisper that the Shadow Thieves are back, that the Xanathar's Guild has returned from the Undermountain, or that some new guild altogether is rising to take their place. The City Watch seems compromised by the new guild, so agents of the Open Lord are quietly arranging for adventurers to run the guild to ground and expose their operations.