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Geography of the North

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The geography of The North ranges from the rugged mountains of the Spine of the World to the lush forests of Lurkwood and Moonwood, and a great deal more in between. Within these highly unique areas lie ruined towers, lost gold, and enough rumors to keep even the most active adventuring company busy.


Contents

Cities and Settlements

Calling Horns

South of the Evermoors is an area of lightly wooded, rolling hills. The exact spot is marked by a cairn of weathered and lichen-covered orc skulls commemorating the slaughter of a horde. Overlooking this point is a hogback topped by a low, massive fieldstone inn and stables. This inn bears the name Calling Horns and is run by Tosker Nightsword, a retired hunter and guide.


Everlund

Everlund is a walled city of 12,000 humans, elves, half-elves, and halflings, with a scattering of other races. The city is tolerant of peoples, races, and religions – well befitting a caravan trading center. Everlund is the home base of many caravan masters, guides, hunters, mercenaries, and Harpers. The standing army of 2,000 diligently seeks out orcs, goblins, bugbears, trolls, and other monsters of the wilderlands. Another 250 can be called upon in times of need. Everlunians are known to defend their city fiercely, and are as wise in the ways of the wilds as any Urthgardt.

Many adventurer-mages, bards, and rangers dwell here under the Council of Six Elders who rule Everlund. The Elders keep it part of the Lord’s Alliance, actively opposing both the Zhentarim and the Arcane Brotherhood. The council currently is negotiating with Silverymoon and the Lord’s Alliance to fund the construction and maintenance of a true road along the Evermoor Way between Everlund and Yartar.

The inns and taverns of Everlund are on its outskirts near the wall, and the center of the city is quiet at night – a place where lovers and plotters walk and talk. Homes and shops rise out of the greenery in pleasant little clumps. The city is rumored to deal in plunder obtained from bazaars in the orc Citadel of Many Arrows.


Llorkh

Llorkh was an important mining town of 2,000 humans and 300 dwarves. All were busy farming and taking iron and silver from shallow mines in the mountains. Those lodes were soon exhausted, and Llorkh shrank. The Zhentarim soon arrived and the last of the old lords, Phintarn Redblade, was found dead at the base of Lord’s Keep. Overnight, the Zhentarim installed their own man, Geildarr Ithym, in the Lord’s Keep.

Four hundred purple-cloaked Lord’s Men appeared, and fought several battles with the militia, easily slaughtering them under the pretext that the soldiers were troublemakers. This didn’t win Geildarr over with the townsfolk, and the dwarves left.

Zhent caravans began to arrive, needing accommodation, beasts, food, wagon repairs, and water. Townsfolk were pressed into work, and new but ugly inns and taverns were thrown up. The Ten Bells tavern was joined by the Drover’s Cup and the Wet Wizard (Geildarr is not sure if this is a pun directed at him). The Zhent arrival has been met with mixed feelings. Some view the increase in commerce as a sign of prosperity, while others see the unscrupulous elements increasing daily and feel less safe in their homes. Most inhabitants have thrown in with the regime, though they’ve no great affection for its leader, and the town is the endpoint of caravans from Darkhold.


Longsaddle

The tiny agricultural village of Longsaddle includes 130 residences, surrounded by miles of ranches and farms. It’s a quiet haven between the Crags and the Evermoors. Depending on the time of year, Longsaddle is either sleepy and nearly deserted, or dusty and crowded, crawling with livestock and folk eager to buy them. Either way, Longsaddle is little more than a farmer’s market and waystables for the 1,000 or so folk who live in the area. The buildings line both sides of the Long Road, the only street in the village. Longriders (ranch-hands) from nearby estates can be summoned to form a 100-man militia who fight with spear, bow, or lariat.


Luskan

Luskan is a seafaring merchant city, home to fierce, proud, and warlike Northmen. This important northern port city is located at the mouth of the un-navigable Mirar River, a swift, icy-cold, and rocky waterway, with the Mirar Road paralleling it to Mirabar. The perils of both the coastal High Road and the interior Long Road south from Mirabar relegate most metal trade to ships out of Luskan. Luskan’s structures are tightly packed, standing two and three stories above ground, and they extend below ground as well.

Although this city of approximately 16,000 humans seeks merchant trade, visitors are few and feel unwelcome. This has much to do with Luskan being a known harbor for northern pirates, if not an outright sponsor of their activities.


Nesme

Once a well-defended haven for honest traders and adventurers seeking fame and fortune in the abandoned Dwarven holds to the north and east, this fortified trading town is now a dying settlement of 1,500 inhabitants. On its west, the fortified bridge over the Surbrin River has fallen into ruin, and the stables, paddocks, and stock pens to the east beyond the city walls lie razed in the dust.

The Riders of Nesme have been scattered and all that remains is an exhausted militia, holed up in the last remaining quarter of the city. This sudden demise of this fortified settlement has been brought about by a horde of giants streaming out of the Evermoors to smash themselves upon its once unbreakable walls.

If First Speaker Tessarin cannot secure a position for Nesme in the Silver Marches confederation or obtain outside aid, her city and its inhabitants will likely not last the year.


Olostin’s Hold

This fortified keep was the hold of a human robber baron who raided nearby Netherese settlements. It stood vacant for years, blasted by the magic that slew Olostin. During that time, it was frequented by orcs and brigands as a temporary base for raiding parties.

About 70 years ago, a ranger named Elthond Vvarit occupied it, building it into a walled village and haven, and it remains so today. The hold is a settlement of 200, serving as a market and refuge for another 800 farmers and ranchers. The folk are alert for orcs and trolls, and most are good riders and guides. The Hold is of little interest to travellers, though merchants often stop to sell clothing and trinkets to the shops here.


Silverymoon

Silverymoon is a beautiful city that stands amid the ancient trees of the Moonwood, and straddles the River Rauvin at its bend westward toward the Evermoors. Home to over 26,000 humans, dwarves, gnomes, elves, half-elves, and halflings, it is often called the Gem of The North.

Silverymoon is considered The North’s center of learning and culture, and its close ties with the Heralds and Harpers, as well as powerful local mages (such as the Mistmaster or the mysterious Shadowcloak), only aid its reputation as The North’s major seat of knowledge. It’s a happy place where many races dwell together in peace. The city’s civilized demeanor owes much to its kindly, diplomatic ruler, the High Lady Alustriel, a silver-haired sorceress known to be at least two hundred years old.

The heart of the city, including the palace and Silverymoon’s oldest buildings, is located on the northern bank. Its half-circle shape is surrounded by defensive walls that have been breached only three times in the city’s history. The walls are pierced by three gates: Moorgate on the west, Hunter’s Gate to the north, and Sundabar Gate at the city’s eastern perimeter. A road surrounds the walls on the outside, and it connects with the three trade roads leading out the gates.

Across the Rauvin lies the newer sector of Silverymoon. This area contains many warehouses, paddocks, docks, and caravan businesses, but it also plays host to the city’s pride and joy – the Vault of the Sages. In addition, a number of magic schools are in residence, and there has been talk for years of unifying them into a mages’ university of sorts. The north bank is linked to the south by the Moonbridge, a construct of invisible magic that glows with a silver sheen in the moonlight.

Silverymoon is, outside of Waterdeep, one of the few bright spots of civilization and learning in The North. Its fortunes are dictated less by trade and war and more by knowledge and magic. Waterdeep alone boasts a greater population of settled wizards on the Savage Frontier, but many Silverymoon rulers, including Alustriel, have always made the preservation of knowledge and the magical arts a priority for the city. Many say that Silverymoon’s values toward music, education, and the arts “echo that of lost Myth Drannor,” though they are even more open to those of all races than the elves of Cormanthyr ever were.


Sundabar

Once a Dwarven city, this fortress houses 36,000 humans, most descended from refugees of Ascalhorn. Sundabar is the northeastern-most post of civilization, serving as a base for explorers, adventurers, and prospectors around the Fork. The Lord’s Alliance and temples of Helm sponsor the 2,000-man veteran army.

Sundabar is home to the Bloodaxe Mercenary Company. One member has risen to become Master of Sundabar. Helm Dwarf-Friend rules wisely and well, keeping Sundabar in the Lord’s Alliance. He allocates the money taken in by the city to patrol the roads and to ready for war. This is no small issue: the coffers are so deep that the city hired the Flaming Fist Mercenary Company to slaughter an orc horde. The Master’s take is a 5% sales tax paid by local merchants, who see it used to their benefit. Sundabar has huge, guarded granary caverns and deep wells below the city.

Sundabar trades with Adbar, Everlund, and Silverymoon. The city also trades below the surface, with dwarves from a part of the Underdark called Fardrimm. Sundabarian merchants are the exclusive dealers in the surface world for many Dwarven products.

Sundabar is a city of stone, a frowning fortress with little to delight the eye and less welcome for the sightseer. Slick ways and excessive curiosity are looked upon with disfavor. Strangers who poke about are apt to be questioned by the city soldiers.


Yartar

This town of 6,000 folk is connected to a fortified bridge and a citadel on the west bank. Yartar is always buzzing. Caravans come and go, and goods are shipped from the caravans to freight barges. The fisher folk of Yartar scour the Three Rivers for catfish, coldwater crabs, eels, silvertail, and shalass. All these can be bought fresh from stalls in Yartar’s central market.

The ruler of Yartar, the Waterbaron, is elected for life. The person who held the office for the last 20 years was Alahar Khaumfros. He was revealed to be the Kraken Society leader. Four illithids walked into the baron’s hall and calmly slaughtered Khaumfros for his treachery in Society monetary dealings.

Reaction from the Harpers and the Lord’s Alliance was swift: today, the Waterbaron is Belleethe Kheldorna, a female paladin dedicated to Tyr. She’s busy rooting out the agents of the Society who infest the Shields of Yartar (town guards) and the merchant council. She’s also grappling with the difficult business of maintaining order in this roaring trade town frequented by adventurers and maverick merchants.


Wilderness Regions

Anauroch

Anauroch, the Great Desert, is a barren wasteland that forms the eastern border of the Savage Frontier – a vast mass of steppe land, rocky wastes, and sandy desert that runs from the Uttermost North almost to the Lake of Dragons. Over the millennia, it has crept south, swallowing the Narrow Sea and destroying ancient civilizations. Desert creatures and monsters often wander into the eastern fringes of the Savage Frontier. Nomad tribes from the desert visit Sundabar and Llorkh on occasion, though such visits are few. The men of the desert often trade for goods with relics of ancient design.

The area of the Great Desert is a collection of different types of deserts and includes the hot sandy wastes similar to the Dust Desert of Rauvin, rocky badlands with very sparse scrubs and no available water, basins filled with salt flats and prickly cacti, sandstone mountains carved by wind into bizarre shapes, and polar steppes and icy wastes in the north that rival those of Vaasa. In general, it is as inhospitable a place as can be found on the surface of Toril.

Ardeep Forest

Until recently, this ancient forest, a remnant of the woods that once covered The North from the river Delimbyr to the mountains of the Utter North, was the home of the moon elves. This ancient race of elvenkind lived in harmony with men and dwarves in a kingdom that stretched to the east of the forest, in what is now rolling moorlands known as the High Moors. Even before the times of the Fallen Kingdom, this was part of the vast forest that was elven Illefarn.

The forest is forlorn and largely empty. The elves have left the forest of tail blueleaf, duskwood, and weirwood trees unattended. This region was known as Faraway Forest to the elves because, although it was near the coast of Faerun, it was still far away from what the elves considered home: the island of Evermeet.

Crags

Beset with goblins and gnolls, these hills contain the dead mines that brought men to the area.

Delimbyr Vale

Delimbyr Vale actually refers to an area of land that surrounds the Delimbyr River, also known as the Shining River and its tributaries. The Vale reaches as far south as the western-most borders of the South Wood to its headwater in the Nether Mountains.

Dungeon of the Ruins

Unlike most ancient dwarf holds, this ruin is primarily above ground. Passing barbarian hunters have noted great froglike forms dancing around huge pyres amid the ruins.

The Evermoors

Also known as the Trollmoors, this barren upland area still shows the scars of the huge bonfires set to burn the corpses of the trolls or everlasting ones that once roamed here in hordes. Trolls still lurk in the hills and bogs, but not in vast numbers as of old, as something seems to have driven them from their original homeland.

The Fallen Lands

This is the present-day name for the strip of habitable land west of Anauroch, stretching between the Far Forest and Weathercote Wood. The Fallen Lands are now home only to monsters, although rumors persist of powerful mages inhabiting the southern reaches. This was once part of Netheril, and mysterious magic still saturates the area.

The Far Forest

Once an idyllic fair wood similar to the brightest parts of the High Forest, the Far Forests suffered a like fate as Ascalhorn with its fall. Its dryad and treant population abandoned its trunks centuries ago as more fiendish creatures from Hellgate Keep invaded its tree line. The trees themselves eventually mirrored the horrific inhabitants, becoming twisted, sickly growths that provided gloom rather than shade. Aside from basic wildlife and the invading fiends, no intelligent sylvan races remained in the Far Forests.

With the fall of Hellgate Keep, the fiends within the Far Forests have begun to move south toward the Fallen Lands, seeking a safe haven from destruction. Currently, the Far Forests have once again become the home of treants and dryads, whose ministrations and care have begun to restore the woods to health. Some of the treants have marched the most corrupt or twisted of the trees to a new outer tree line closer to the Delimbyr, allowing the sunshine to help heal the melancholic nature that permeated the trees and ground.

Frost Hills

This is the rugged area south of the Spine of the World, a literal spillway for creatures that wander out from Faerun’s unexplored frontier. The southern borders of this area stretch nearly to the borders of the Evermoors, encompassing a few Urthgardt ancestor mounds but ending at the western edge of the Lurkwood.

Graypeak Mountains

This eastern mountain range separates the Fallen Lands from the Delimbyr River valley. The range is named for the tribes of gray skinned stone giants who dwell here. Its mineral wealth was removed thousands of years past during the reign of lost Netheril.

Hellgate Dell (formerly Hellgate Keep)

The former site of Hellgate Keep and lost Ascalhorn is unrecognizable today. The pile of rubble where the main citadel once stood is now an uneven, craggy hill overgrown with moss and small bushes. Surrounding that hill is a ring of 25 huge oak trees. Should any non-native of the High Forest (and definitely any tanar-ri) approach the dell, five of the trees reveal themselves to be treants keeping watch over the ruins to prevent anyone from releasing the evil that yet lurks beneath the ruins.

The High Forest

Deep, dark, and enigmatic, the High Forest is unarguably the greatest forest in Faerun, since it has resisted the woodsman’s axe for untold centuries. The sylvan wood’s expanse covers more than 500 miles from its southern edge near Secomber to its northern reaches at the foothills of the Nether Mountains. In fact, the forest accounts for nearly 20% of the total land area of what is considered the Savage Frontier.

Many rumors and mysteries abound in regards to the High Forest and the secrets it holds within the shade of its trees. Folk talk of enclaves of druids, tribes of elves, and hordes of treants, dryads, and other sylvan races alike. Legends older than Waterdeep talk of ruined elven cities from the days of Netheril within the bowers of its trees and ancient mines within the lofty Star Mounts at the forest’s center. Truth be told, no one truly knows what lurks inside the tree line of the High Forest – few in recent memory have entered the forest and returned to tell tales of it. Those who dwell near its borders respect the forest, as it seems to emanate some suggestive force that keeps them from plundering its timber or other natural resources. Whether the powers that preserve the High Forest are mortal or divine in nature, there is something about this forest that warns human civilization away. As a result, the High Forest remains a mystery to all those who do not dare enter it.

Ice Lakes

Barbarians are numerous in this chill wilderness, and their raids make the Ice Lakes region perilous places indeed. Though folk used to hunt bear and elk in these lands, the barbarians make it even more treacherous than it has to be.

Ironford

This is the site of a new bridge built across the ford. While the details regarding the fate of the last bridge are somewhat hazy, it appears that a group of adventurers emptied a wand of fireballs into a group of trolls that were charging out of the water toward them. By the time the smoke and flames had cleared, the old wooden bridge was gone.

Lurkwood

The edges of this forests are logged by men, though its dark depths are largely a mystery. Stories of bottomless pits and quicksand keep locals from treading too deeply into the forest.

Mere of Dead Men

A vast salt swamp stretches over 100 miles along the Sword Coast shore, reaching a width of 30 miles at its greatest extent. It’s a desolate, insect-ridden place seldom visited by civilized races, and home to a variety of fell creatures. The Mere has grown in recent memory, swallowing several farms and holdings along the road, and it is now avoided by all but crazed adventurers looking for battle practice.

The Mere gained its name when thousands of men were slain by orc hordes striking south from present-day Triboar and east across the Stone Bridge and Ironford. The orcs pursued the men westward between the coastal peaks and slaughtered the human army as it was forced back into the icy waves.

Mhiilamniir

Mhiilamniir is the most complete reminder of Eaerlann’s civilization outside of Tall Trees. Less than two days travel from the end of the Old Road (or three days travel east from the Lost Peaks) puts travelers among the overgrown ruins of the lost temple city. At the height of Eaerlann’s civilization, Mhiilamniir was the location of a number of major temples and seats of power for elven clergies of The North. Not one building in Mhiilamniir today is not thoroughly covered by mosses, undergrowth, shrubbery, or small trees. The largest building was the central temple, once dedicated to Corellon Larethian, that sits at the hub of the small grove-enshrouded ruins. With its central dome long shattered and fallen, its jagged edges of stone are the only easily sought suggestions that a city once stood here. Unfortunately, Mhiilamniir is no longer safe for elven pilgrims, since Corellon’s temple is now the home of some great evil.

Stone Bridge

This massive stone arch spans the River Dessarin without ceremony or accompanying settlement, rising lonely and weathered in the midst of rolling grasslands without a road or building as far as the eye can scan. Built by dwarves 5,000 years ago to link the now-ruined Halls of the Hunting Axe with forgotten dwarven holds, it’s a lonely reminder of ancient days.

Turnstone Pass

Formerly the quickest way to reach Hellgate Keep and the Upvale from Sundabar, this pass is now totally blocked by a massive avalanche initiated by Turlang’s treants and a large number of galeb duhr. Caravan traffic is now encouraged to go south to Everlund, following the River Rauvin as it winds its way to Silverymoon.