The Vast (1372)
Population: 1,308,960 (humans 78%, dwarves 9%, halflings 5%, elves 3%, gnomes 2%, half-elves 1%, half-orcs 1%)
Government: City-states and feudal holdings; most cities are ruled by councils of merchants and landowners
Religions: Chauntea, Clangeddin, Eldath, Mystra, Tempus, Torm, Tymora, Waukeen
Imports: Glass, luxury goods, salt
Exports: Copper, grain, iron, livestock, nickel, parchment, silver, textiles
Alignment: LN, N, NG
The Vast is a verdant farming and hunting area on the eastern shore of the Dragon Reach, best known for its thriving ports: evil Calaunt, ever-changing Tantras, the adventurers' haven Ravens Bluff, and regimented Procampur. Orcs and dwarves vie for supremacy over the nearby mountains. Orc raids on the lowlands are rare, but troublesome enough to keep the human population concentrated along the coast. Intrigues between rival factions and a wealth of dwarven ruins beckon to adventurers.
Thanks to the Sea of Fallen Stars, the Vast enjoys a mild climate year round, with long, cool summers and short, mild winters. Most of the Vast is rolling farmland with fields divided by low walls made from rubble. Small wooded lots appear among the farms. Dozens of brooks and streams crisscross the land, but they seldom join the major rivers. Instead, they end in pools that drain into subterranean rivulets flowing toward the Inner Sea. The jigsaw water table owes its existence to broken and tilted layers of rock that lie under the deep soil of the vast. Small sinkholes, caves, and rifts are plentiful.
Life and Society
Folk in the Vast have a pioneering spirit and see themselves as one with the land they inhabit. Their loyalties lie with their local communities. They always go armed (albeit usually with simple weapons such as slings, knives, and quarterstaffs), especially outside the cities. They tend to keep to themselves, but minstrels and bards are welcomed everywhere - the Vast folk delight in a well-sung ballad arid news of other lands.
Boar, deer, and black-masked bears roam the forests and mountainsides of the Vast. Hunting is a way of life in the countryside, especially in the high country.
Major Geographic Features
The Sea of Fallen Stars borders the Vast to the west and south. The Earthspur Mountains mark the area's east and north boundaries.
Earthfast Mountains: This arm of the Earthspur Mountains runs west to the Dragon Reach. Its steep slopes make mining difficult, but recent discoveries of copper, silver, and iron veins have convinced many to brave the hardships in hopes of wealth. Giant eagles and other avian creatures claim the highest peaks as their territory, while great numbers of orcs and ogres lair in the deep reaches of the mountain.
Two major passes allow land traffic to move north and south: Elvenblood Pass in the west, and Glorming Pass in the east.
Fire River: This wide and generally placid river descends from the high country and flows west to empty into the Sea of Fallen Stars at Ravens Bluff. It has one major cataract at Dragon Falls, some hundred miles upstream from Ravens Bluff.
The Vast has a reputation as a place of secrets best left undisturbed, especially in the mountains and subterranean ways. Of course, the most notable places in the Vast are not secret at all.
Calaunt (Metropolis, 38,706): Currently the largest and most influential city in the Vast, Calaunt has an iron grip on legitimate traffic entering or leaving the River Vesper. Unfortunately for the rest of the Vast, the city is not as vigilant about pirates or raiders using the river, as long as they do not threaten Calaunt. Though many visit the city on business, few are fond of the place. Its major industry is tanning, and the stench of its tanneries is often noticeable for miles. (Inner Sea sailors say that Calaunt can be found by smell even in the thickest of fogs.)
Calaunt is ruled by a band of evil adventurers who call themselves the Merchant Dukes, led by one who calls himself the Supreme Scepter. These rapacious brutes think nothing of confiscating property for their own gain. Visitors to Calaunt tread softly and avoid displays of wealth or magic.
Procampur (Large City, 24,631): An old, wealthy, independent trading port at the eastern mouth of the Dragon Reach, Procampur is famous across Faerûn for its walled districts, whose buildings all have slate roofs of a particular color. Reputed to be the single richest city along the northern Inner Sea, Procampur is known for its goldsmiths, gemcutters, gem trade, paucity of thieves, and strict local government. Built on the site of Proeskampalar, a dwarven underground town built about -153 DR, the human city of Procampur dates back to 523 DR.
A hereditary overlord, the Thultyrl, rules Procampur. The current Thultyrl is Rendeth of the Royal Blood (CG male human Ari3/Ftr6), a young, level-headed warrior whose family has distinctive copper-hued hair and gray-green eyes. A loyal wizard-advisor called the flamayarch traditionally assists the Thultyrl. Some suspect that the current advisor, Alamondh (NE male human Sor10), is less than honest and just
Tall fortified walls protect Procampur. The walls are pierced only by pairs of coast-road gates on each side of the harbor. The bustling harbor does not operate under the city's strict rules, and its buildings are the usual chaos of different styles, sizes, and roof hues. The harbor is home to fisherfolk, shipbuilders, and foreign traders. It holds all livestock and mounts (including training facilities, equipment, and stables) not belonging to the Procampan authorities.
A single huge guarded gate opens from the harbor onto the Great Way, an avenue that joins all city districts. The Great Way runs straight east to the Castle District, which holds the gold-roofed Palace of the Thultyri and the High Court and the white-roofed stables and barracks of the city guards.
Gate guards patiently explain the city's rules to all who enter. In Procampur, each activity is confined to a particular district (or the harbor), and the authorities are strict, watchful; and competent The government has smashed countless attempts to found thieves' guilds in the city, and its forces have decisively defeated both Mulmaster and Sembia in naval battles.
Ravens Bluff (Metropolis, 28,119): Second only to Calaunt in wealth, power, and importance, Ravens Bluff's position at the mouth of the Fire River makes it the port of departure for over a third of the Vast's agricultural exports. In addition, the city has long attracted adventurers of all stripes, thanks to an indulgent local government and plenty of mysteries and intrigues to unravel (most of which arise from the city's freewheeling atmosphere or its seedier underside). Ravens Bluff is also a center for the exchange and sale of magic items.
Ravens Bluff was nearly destroyed in the summer of 1370 DR, when an adventurer called Myrkyssa Jelan descended on the city at the head of an army composed of mercenaries and fell monsters. The short war left the city without a navy and very nearly without an army or means to support itself. The tenacious and resourceful citizens of Ravens Bluff, led by their new mayor, Lady Amber Thoden, rebuilt their fortunes with outstanding speed.
Myrkyssa Jelan's reasons for attacking the city became clear when, in the early days of 1372 DR, adventurers discovered that Amber Thoden was really Jelan, and she vanished during the resultant conflict. The former mayor and adventurers' friend, Charles O'Kane (LN male human Ftr17), once again presides over the tumultuous city.
Tantras (Large City, 21,816): Famous (or infamous) as the residence of the deity Torm during the Time of Troubles, Tantras is now among the leading cities of the Vast. A major portion of Tantras was ruined in 1318 DR when the avatars of Torm and Bane destroyed each other on the outskirts of the city. (The damage has long since been repaired.) Torm, always popular in the city, is now venerated as the savior of Tantras.
Tsurlagol (Large City, 17,194): Known as the Gateway to the Unapproachable East, this busy port is the southernmost city of the Vast. It serves as a crossroads for traders from the Vast, Impiltur, the Old Empires, and the Vilhon Reach. The city also plays host to a considerable number of dwarves who pass through on errands involving their scattered kin. Tsurlagol's location has some draw-backs, and the city has the dubious distinction of having been sacked and burned more times than any other city in the region. The current city rests on a hill composed of the foundations of at least twenty previous cities.
The origin of the name "the Vast" is lost in antiquity, but sages agree the name is derived from the orc kingdom of Vastar, which once controlled the entire eastern shore of the Dragon Reach. The orcs of Vastar fought the elves of Myth Drannor, launching several invasions against the western shore of the Reach in crude wooden ships and by land across the northern end of the Reach. In time, the orcs reduced the dense forests of the Vast to the grasslands and isolated stands of timber that remain today.
Vastar eventually fell after a series of defeats at the hands of the elves, though mounting pressure from dwarves pushing in from the west contributed to the orcs' downfall. Most of the dwarven expansion took place underground, and the Vast boasts a wealth of abandoned dwarven delvings to this day.
After the fall of the orcs, the dwarves established Roldilar, the Realm of Glimmering Swords (610-649 DR), when the resurgent orcs prevailed above and below ground. Humans were quick to exploit the power vacuum left by the collapse of the dwarven kingdom. They came from the crowded Vilhon Reach and established a foothold south of the Fire River. From there, they expanded and pushed the orcs back from the lowlands. The city of Ravens Bluff was established over the ruins of Roldilar in 1222 DR and has grown steadily ever since.
Plots and Rumors
Most adventurers passing through the Vast wind up in Ravens Bluff at one time or another. The exploration of old dwarven ruins and rumors of great vaults never uncovered draw adventurers from all corners of Faerûn.
Shadow over Scardale: The PCs hear that a powerful mercenary captain is organizing an expeditionary force of hired soldiers and adventurers to invade and seize the town of Scardale. No one knows for sure who is sponsoring the captain - merchants in Tantras or Calaunt are most likely. Scardale would be a great asset to any city on the Vast, since it would provide a toehold on the western shore of the Dragon Reach. The PCs may be hired to prevent the under taking, or perhaps to join it.