Volos' Guide

Myth Drannor, City of Song

By Eric L. Boyd (Dragon #357) (cartography by Rob Lazzaretti)

Well met again, wise readers!

Yes, 'tis Volothamp Geddarm, famous wayfarer of the Realms, "Volo" to all, at thy service. You are most wise to consult me in all matters of life in the Realms - in particular the 'little dark secrets' rulers, guilds, and other folk of power least want you to know.

Wherefore, 'tis high time to unfold some juicy lore about the fabled City of Songs. Not the Myth Drannor of old that so many tales tell of, nor yet the fiend-haunted ruin of cracked and riven buildings spilling out treasures so magical that their blue glow could be seen for miles by night... but the reoccupied ruin of today, the refounded city.

What follows may seem tantalizingly incomplete, but I assure you that even assembling this much was both difficult and dangerous, yet I am ever willing to brave such perils for you; place your deep trust in Volo!


Locations in Myth Drannor

  1. Throne of Thought
  2. Army Barracks
  3. Shaundakul's Throne
  4. Cormyrean Embassy (formerly House of Dahast)
  5. House of Song
  6. Castle Cormanthor
  7. Windsong Tower (ruin, detailed in Anauroch)
  8. House of Orangyl
  9. Glyrryl's Pool
  10. Alicorn Inn
  11. House Dlardrageth
  12. House of Antiquities

Spoiler Warning!

This article updates the current situation in Myth Drannor to the month of Marpenoth in the Year of the Risen Elfki (1375 DR). It contains a great many spoilers for game products such as City of the Spider Queen, Shadowdale: Scouring of the Land, Anauroch: The Sundering of the World, and novels such as Blackstaff, the Last Mythal series, and the War of the Spider Queen series. Players and readers beware!

For millennia, the great forest of Cormanthor has been known as the Elven Woods, home to the Fair Folk of Cormanthyr (see the FORGOTTEN REALMS Campaign Setting and DRAGON #355). For nearly five centuries the mythal-clad capitol city of Cormanthyr was known as Myth Drannor, the fabled City of Song. The history of the city, from its founding as Cormanthor in -3893 DR with the summoning of the Rule Tower, to the establishment of its mythal in the Year of Soaring Stars (261 DR), to its fall in the Year of Doom (714 DR) is well established and not repeated here. (See Lost Empires of Faerûn for the fullest accounting.)

In the wake of the Weeping War (712-714 DR), Myth Drannor, also known as the City of Bards, the City of Beauty, the City of Love, the City of Might, and the City of Spells, became a fabled ruin, whose mighty magics perpetually tempted power-hungry individuals and sinister organizations to explore its depths. The Fair Folk of the Elven Woods did their best to guard against interlopers, particularly adventuring companies who sought only to plunder the ruins. The elven sentinels allowed only dragons seeking lairs (whom they deemed fitting guardians) to enter the city. The elves themselves stayed outside of the ruins, holding them sacred to the memory of the time they dwelt together in peace. Nonetheless, the monstrous population of Myth Drannor slowly grew, as beasts left behind sired offspring and creatures from elsewhere in the Realms reached the city via long-forgotten portals exiting into the ruins. The few bold adventurers who used magic to elude the elven guard and reach the city rarely emerged. In the Year of the Moonfall (1344 DR), the elders of the Elven Court ordered the Retreat. Most moon elves and sun elves of Cormanthor departed for Evermeet, leaving the Elven Woods largely unguarded for the first time in centuries.

In spring of the Year of the Bloodbird (1346 DR), after two years of careful exploration of the ruined city by Banite agents, the Eighth High Imperceptor of Bane, Szchulan Darkoon, ordered the creation of a portal from the Warrior's Gate to Avernus, first layer of the Nine Hells m of Baator. The Dark Lord's followers intended to call forth a limited number of devils to deal with the demons and yugoloths still lurking in the ruins, dating back to the end of the Weeping War. Their plan went awry when Malkizid, the Branded King, intervened, causing the portal to remain open and allowing hordes of devils to enter the Realms. Myth Drannor was quickly overrun with devils, but the Banites erected a second sphere of magic encircling the mythal, keeping the legions of the Nine Hells bound within the city's ruins.

Over the next decade, agents of the Church of Bane spread tales throughout the Dragonreach and surrounding lands that Myth Drannor's treasures were ripe for the taking, hoping to unleash a horde of adventurers who would deal with the fiends inhabiting the ruins. The rape of the ruined city that followed is known as the Time of the Seizing. Beginning in the Year of the Worm (1356 DR), adventuring bands such as the Company of the Worm, the Company of the Black Buckler, the Men of the Scarlet Scimitar, the Women of the Wind, the Blue Fist, the Company of the Purple Cloak, the Glass Goblet, the Vengeful Blade, and the Company of the Cathlander poured into the ruined City of Song, only to be set upon by growing numbers of devils in the city.

The Year of the Prince (1357 DR) saw two attempts by powerful outsiders to seize the ruins. During the Time of Troubles, an avatar of the Rotting God made a concerted push to reach the city, creating Moander's Road from the ruins of Yulash to roughly the midway point between the two ruined cities. Later that same year, in the month of Marpenoth, a possessing spirit known as Tyranthraxus briefly seized control of the entire City of Song, wrapping the ruins in a dome of force and establishing a pool of radiance (effectively a pool of raw magic, manifested as water) in the old Temple of Labelas Enoreth. Both entities were driven off by adventurers, leaving the ruins once again open for exploration.

In Uktar of the Year of the Prince, one heretofore nameless band, who later took to calling themselves the Knights of Myth Drannor, shattered the portal to Avernus and then took to guarding the ruins against interlopers, with modest success. In the decade that followed, adventurers who made it past the Knights' gauntlet confronted devils, dragons, alhoon (illithiliches), nagas, phaerimm, other adventuring companies, and countless greater perils. Many died horrible deaths, but a few escaped with ancient coins, works of art, or items of precious magic, encouraging others to follow in their wake.

In the Year of the Gauntlet (1369 DR), the Cult of the Dragon discovered a recently formed pool of radiance in the depths of Castle Cormanthor. After corrupting the pool's magic, the Followers of the Scaly Way planned to immerse Pelendralaar, an allied dracolich, into the pool and thereby give the undead horror additional powers, but brave adventurers brought the Sacred One low and destroyed the pool of radiance.

In the Year of Wild Magic (1372 DR), the Shadovar of Thultanthar, City of Shade, covered the ruined city with a shadowshell, trapping a small colony of phaerimm inside the mythal. They began a campaign to eradicate the thornbacks, but an attack by the Chosen of Mystra on Thultanthar above the sands of Anauroch forced the Shadovar to withdraw from Myth Drannor. The shades are thought to have destroyed all the phaerimm that lurked beneath the ruins, but one or two might have survived.

In the Year of Rogue Dragons (1373 DR), Narlgathra, a red wyrm, emerged from the ruins of Myth Drannor and flew south to attack Tangled Trees. She slaughtered the summertime residents, leaving only a handful of survivors to be discovered by far wandering inhabitants upon their return.

In the Year of Lightning Storms (1374 DR), in the wake of a failed assault on Evereska, the half-fiend gold elves of House Dlardrageth returned to Myth Drannor, accompanied by a legion of fey'ri liberated from the Nameless Dungeon. The Abyss-tainted elves destroyed the Morninglord's temple in the Westfields, claimed Castle Cormanthor as their seat of power, and summoned the exiled arch-devil Malkizid. These efforts came to naught when Seiveril Miritar and the elven Crusade overran the City of Song, at the cost of the commander's life. Under the leadership of Ilsevele Miritar, the elves refounded Myth Drannor, only to find themselves under attack by an alliance of Zhentarim legions and the Masked Brigades (Vhaeraun-worshiping drow of House Jaelre and Clan Auzkovyn).

Myth Drannor

The refounded City of Song is more armed camp under siege than thriving city. The populace is dominated by warriors, not commoners, almost all of whom fought in the Crusade and now populate the ranks of the Army of Myth Drannor. Most visitors to the city come under armed guard as members of a merchant caravan. The city's primary exports are antiquities looted from the ruins - broken statuary, old coins, gems, jewelry, and magic. While Myth Drannor's forges produce a steady stream of arms and armaments, nearly all such items are purchased by the Army of Myth Drannor to supplement its troops.

The city's elven population is growing slowly, as small bands of wandering wood elves native to Cormanthor and a handful of immigrants from Evermeet settle in the city. The half-elf and human populations are growing by leaps and bounds. The former group is composed of Deepingdale emigrants who desire to settle in the city of their ancestors, while the latter group is driven largely by the economic hardship afflicting Hillsfar and Sembia. Other goodly races are slowly trickling into the city as well, drawn by a sense of adventure or a strong need for their skills. Simultaneously, the population of fiends, humanoids, alhoons, nagas, and phaerimm is melting away, as the monstrous legions that long dominated the city flee for parts more welcoming to their kind.

Given the current hostilities that enmesh the City of Song and the fact that the Crusade/Army of Myth Drannor never really stopped fighting even after the city was won, Myth Drannor currently does not differentiate between military and law enforcement tasks. Therefore, crime generally falls into three categories: looting, espionage, and sabotage. While the looting of antiquities is officially banned, in practice it is widely tolerated as it forms the backbone of the wartime economy. Most residents denounce the wholesale stripping of ruins, but none can afford not to at least supplement their income with a few discrete sales of choice artifacts at irregular intervals. Infiltration is largely the province of the Masked Brigades and Zhentarim spies, who excel at espionage and acts of sabotage. While rare, random acts of violence and outright theft are largely the province of power groups driven from the ruins, including dark nagas, fey'ri, and alhoons, either directly or through their minions.

The city itself is a mix of conventional buildings and tree structures favored by the Fair Folk. Centuries of neglect and abuse left the city in ruins, with wide swaths of the city given over completely to rubble and other sections reduced to buildings that are a pale shadow of their former glory. Since the Crusade reclaimed the City of Song, the new inhabitants have knocked down many buildings and cleared the rubble from much of the city. The minority of buildings that could be saved are being rebuilt, but progress is hampered by the ongoing war.

In the vanguard of those seeking to refound Myth Drannor, numerous churches have established shrines or refurbished existing temples. Shrines dedicated to members of the Seldarine are scattered through the city, and the church of Labelas Enoreth is busy restoring the Throne of Thought. The most popular elven faiths include the churches of Corellon Larethian, Shevarash, and Solonor Thelandira. Among the N'Tel'Quess (non-elves), the most prominent faiths include Lathander, Oghma, and Shaundakul, and all three churches are rebuilding their respective temples. Shrines to Mielikki, Red Knight, Tempus, and Waukeen are also scattered through the city.

Myth Drannor (Small City): Conventional (military); AL CG; 15,000 gp limit; Assets 5,587,500 gp; Population 7,450; Mixed (79% elf; 9% half-elf; 5% human, 3% halfling, 2% gnome, 2% other).

Myth Drannor's Mythal

Myth Drannor's mythal was raised in the Year of Soaring Stars (261 DR) by Mythanthor and many others, it spanned a far wider range than the actual city, centered on Castle Cormanthor. The mythal became corrupted in the centuries following the Weeping War (712 DR-714 DR). Under Malkizid's tutelage, Lady Sarya Dlardrageth reshaped the mythal's properties, only to have them "undone by Araevin Teshurr, Grand Mage of the newly refounded City of Song, who has reshaped the mythal in his own image. The current properties of the mythal include the ability to sustain those within against hunger and age, taming of violent weather effects, and a bevy of other protective abilities to defend the city's buildings and populace. See Lost Empires of Faerûn for more on mythals and how to create them.

Daily Life in Myth Drannor

Although the City of Song is enmeshed in an ongoing war with Zhentil Keep and the Masked Brigades, open combat within the city limits is rare, as most of the fighting takes place in the surrounding woodlands. Daily life is a mix of armed military exercises, salvaging, debris clearing, rebuilding, and aiding in unloading and distributing the much-needed wears of merchant caravans bringing arms, armaments, and supplies. Violence, although rare, typically takes the form of an unexpected explosion due to sabotage or a monster unexpectedly erupting from an unsecured ruin.

A group of adventurers walking through the city encounter regular checkpoints at major intersections staffed by soldiers in the Army of Myth Drannor. Traffic on the main roads is light, but regular. For safety reasons, most individuals travel in groups of two or more, so solitary passersby are unusual (and draw attention). Open shops are rare, as most store owners sell their wares by appointment or during the few hours each day they are not otherwise engaged in supporting the war effort or defending the city.

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