History of Faerûn
Faerûn is an old land, full of long-lost empires and wonders. One after another, the great ancient races rose and fell, finally giving rise to the Time of Humans - the last three to four thousand years of Faerûn's history. Even within this epoch, great empires and shining kingdoms have risen and fallen, passing into the dust of centuries past, leaving only their cryptic ruins and fell lore behind.
The current date is Midsummer, 1372 DR, the Year of Wild Magic. Flamerule is past, and Eleasias - Highsun - is yet to come. If the DM chooses, the Shieldmeet festival to occur the day after Midsummer night provides a good starting point for a FORGOTTEN REALMS campaign.
- Old North
- Great Dale
- The Crown Wars
- The High Forest
- Imperial South
- The God-Kings
Creation of the World
While mythology and religion rarely hold much sway for historians, certain legends are echoed in so many Faerûnian religions that they have become accepted as fact. Thus, the history of Faerûn began when Lord Ao created the universe that now holds the world of Toril. After this creation came a period of timeless nothingness, a misty realm of shadows that existed before light and darkness were separate things. Eventually this shadowy essence coalesced to form beautiful twin goddesses, polar opposites of each other, one dark and one light. The twin goddesses created the bodies of the heavens, giving life to Chauntea, the embodiment of the world Toril. Toril was lit by the cool radiance of the goddess Selûne and darkened by the welcoming embrace of the goddess Shar, but no heat yet existed in this place.
The War of Light and Darkness
Chauntea begged for warmth so that she might nurture life and living creatures upon her form, and the twin goddesses disagreed over whether this should be done. The two fought, and from their divine conflict the deities of war, disease, murder, death, and other fell forces were created.
Selûne reached beyond the universe to a plane of fire, using pure flame to ignite one of the heavenly bodies so that Chauntea would be warmed. Shar became enraged and began to snuff out all light and warmth in the universe. Desperate and greatly weakened, Selûne tore the divine essence of magic from her body and hurled it at her sister, tearing through Shar's form and pulling with it similar energy from the dark twin. This energy formed Mystryl, the goddess of magic. Composed of light and dark magic but favoring her first mother, Mystryl balanced the battle and established an uneasy truce between the two sisters.
Shar, who remained powerful, nursed a bitter loneliness in the darkness and plotted her revenge. Selûne waxed and waned with the light, but drew strength from her allied daughters and sons, and even interloper deities from other planes. Their battle continues to this day.
The Creator Races
While the deities battled, many intelligent beings arose on Toril. Modern scholars call the five greatest the creator races. The first of these was a saurian race that built an extensive if short-lived civilization. Its survivors eventually became the nagas, lizardfolk, troglodytes, and similar creatures.
Supreme among the creator races were the dragons, powerful enough to raid large cities of the other races with impunity. Dragons dominated the surface world, claiming vast areas of territory and battling each other for land, mates, and status. The great drakes suffered setbacks only when lesser races mastered magic, and they remain influential today despite the advances of such rabble.
An aquatic race of shapechangers that became amphibious developed late during the saurian civilization and crept onto the land, building proud cities. These creatures contributed to the downfall of the saurians, but they themselves eventually fell into barbarism under pressure from sahuagin, merfolk, and tritons. The survivors of this race are the locathah in the sea and doppelgangers on land.
Least known of the creator races are the sylvan people that populated the forests and other wooded areas, living in harmony with nature and leaving few traces. It is believed that their civilization fragmented after a great plague created by a draconic or demonic power. Their descendants are the sprites and other small woodfolk that populate secret parts of Toril today.
The last creator race, and the one that spent the longest time in a primitive state, is the humans. Always adaptable and ingenious, humans made advances with incredible speed and efficiency when circumstances allowed for their rise to prominence. Of the five creator races, only the humans truly survive as a cohesive civilization form today. The individual dragons war with each other, and the others have vanished from the world or splintered among their subraces.
The First Flowering
With the discovery of magic by the creator races, talented individuals began experimenting with planar travel, contacting and visiting other worlds. Through these early portals came natives of these other worlds - dwarves, treants, elites, and mind flayers, in that order. Other races appeared, either through crossbreeding, planar immigration, or transformation by magic. Shams and phaerimms are believed to have appeared during this time, and may have been birthed by the primal energies of the Weave.
Halflings, gnomes, and giants arose on Toril. The mighty giants built great kingdoms and battled the dragons, although the giant civilization was never great enough to merit inclusion as one of the creator races. Goblinoids migrated to Toril in small waves when they discovered portals, and humans from other worlds migrated to places such as Kara-Tur, Maztica, and Zakhara. Nonhumanoid creatures such as beholders, wemics, and centaurs established territories, while pegasi and winged creatures such as aarakocras filled the skies while the dragons slept.
Of these arrivals, elves and dwarves proved the most resourceful. Each race began to acquire cultural, technological, and commercial power, establishing strong kingdoms across the face of Faerûn add other continents. This event, known as the First Flowering, heralds the ascension to civilization by races that still exist in great numbers today.
The friendly gnomes worked as go-betweens for the dwarven and elven stations, trading rare goods and exotic weaponry for magic and lore. During this time, the kingdoms of the benevolent humanoids developed a social structure of clans, houses, or families, each focusing on certain arts and ideals. These factions would eventually develop rivalries that would result in the downfall of their great kingdoms.
The Crown Wars
The elves colonized the islands of Evermeet and parts of the future Moonshaes, taking the first steps toward what would someday be known as elven high magic. This powerful arcane knowledge allowed the elves to contest with and finally drive back the dragons for the first time in history. With strong magic and many allies, the elves built great cities and mighty kingdoms. Little did they know their greatest threat was to come from within their own race.
The actual spark that set elven tempers ablaze is unknown. The conflict known today as the Crown Wars involved all the existing elven nations and lasted three thousand years. Entire kingdoms fell, and countless elven lives wert wasted in battle. Punished for their loyalty to the corrupt elven goddess Araushnee (now Lolth), the dark elven nation of Ilythiir fell with her, banished to the Underdark to become known as the drow.
At the end of the Crown Wars, only two elven realms emerged with their civilizations intact. The Keltormir elves, inhabiting their namesake forest (which used to cover what is now Amn, Tethyr, and Calimshan), wearily settled into a much-needed peace. Unfortunately, they would soon come into conflict with a new human nation to the south. Illefarn, an elven nation near the Sea of Swords, made peaceful contact with nomadic tribes of elves and human settlements. The elves traded the knowledge of magic to the humans for food and trade goods. This event signaled the beginning of the age of humans, for these simple folk would found the magical empire of Netheril.
Originating as seven fishing villages that came together for mutual protection, Netheril was destined to become incredibly powerful and doomed to overwhelming arrogance. Taught the basics of magic by their elven neighbors, the Netherese made moderate progress in the Art, bolstered by frequent contact with the elves of Illefarn and the much younger elven settlement of Eaerlann. The four peoples engaged in trade and fought against the orcs that swarmed from the Spine of the World every few years. Netheril weathered the war that erupted between its elven neighbors, and through one fortuitous discovery was launched onto a path of greatness and ruin.
The Nether Scrolls
An unknown adventurer discovered a set of magical writings that held vast secrets of the Art. These Nether Scrolls gave insight to spellcasting, the creation of magic items and constructs, the relations and structure of the planes, and even the making of artifacts. Although all of the Nether Scrolls were lost or stolen over the next two thousand years, the information changed the entirety of Netherese society.
The fledgling spellcasters of Netheril studied the scrolls and invented types of magic never before seen in Toril. The Netherese wizard Ioulaum created the mythallar that gave power to nearby items, negating the need for expenditure of a spellcaster's energy to create magic items. The mythallar also allowed the creation of flying cities, formed by slicing off and inverting the top of a mountain. Netheril's people took to the, skies in these flying enclaves of magic, safe from human barbarians and hordes of evil humanoids. Every citizen wielded minor magic, and the Netherese traded with nearby elven and dwarven nations, expanding the reach of their empire greatly.
The Phaerimm Onslaught
The first check to the power of Netheril was the phaerimms, a race of magical creatures living under the surface of the earth. This evil race suffered from the extensive use of magic by the Netherese. In retaliation, the phaerimms began to cast magic- and life-draining spells upon the lands of Netheril, turning lush fields and forest into barren desert. The humans eventually realized the intelligence behind the strange attrition, and a protracted magical war resulted. Eventually the drain on magic began to affect the functioning spells in the cities. Slowly at first, the archmages left in search of places where magic did not go awry, and the common folk whose fields had been turned to desert began to flee the land.
Karsus, an incredibly talented archmage responsible for bizarre advances in magic, felt it was his duty to hold the nation together in its time of need: Casting a spell he had been researching for a decade, Karsus created a link to Mystryl so that he could steal her power and become a deity. Upon completing the spell, his body swelled with divine power and his mind expanded with unimaginable knowledge - including the knowledge of the horrible mistake he had just made. Having stolen the divinity from the one being capable of constantly repairing the damage to the Weave the magic-gluttonous Netherese and phaerimms caused, Karsus threatened the existence of magic on Faerûn, since he was not prepared for such a task.
Mystryl sacrificed herself to save the Weave before the damage was irreparable. This severed her link to Karsus, petrifying him and temporarily negating all magic in the world. The Netherese flying cities plummeted, and Karsus's stony form, still containing a fading omniscience, watched as all he knew and cared about was destroyed because of his folly. Despite this catastrophe, sages know Karsus as the one being who attained godhood with a single spell.
The goddess of magic was reincarnated as Mystra, and in recreating the Weave was able to safely bring to earth three of the flying cities - Anauria, Asram, and Hlondath - that were high above the ground at the time of Karsus' act. This new Weave had stricter requirements for spellcasting, preventing the heights of power and potential for destruction the Netherese had attained. Clerics of Mystra were told the truth of the fall of Netheril as a warning so that such a thing might never happen again.
Meanwhile, the survivors of the now-grounded cities fled the phaerimms; humanoid hordes, and encroachment of the desert, founding the daughter states of Netheril to the south. The greatest empire of humans was dead, leaving a legacy of broken artifacts and a magically created wasteland now called Anauroch.
Meanwhile, far to the east, other kingdoms had formed beyond the immediate reach of Netheril. The greatest and oldest of these was Imaskar, a nation ruled by sorcerers known as the Imaskari or the Artificers, founded where the Raurin Desert now stands. Heady with power and hubris, the Imaskari refused to bow down before any divine entity. They worked mighty magic and researched strange technologies, fending off the predation of humanoids, dragons, and strange creatures native to their homeland. When their population was decimated in a terrible plague, the Imaskari created a pair of portals to another plane and raided that place to acquire countless slaves. When the raids were finished, they closed the portals. and worked a great spell to forever close the physical connections between the two planes. The slaves eventually contacted their deities, who found a way to send physical manifestations to Toril through the Astral Plane, bypassing the Artificers' barrier and even- eventually destroying the empire of Raurin. The fallout from their battle became the Raurin Desert. The freed slaves traveled westward to found Mulhorand and Unther.
Six centuries before the fall of Netheril, two empires of magic rose east of the Sea of Fallen Stars. Narfell, great and cruel, was greatly feared, for its leaders made pacts with demons that marched into battle with the Nar soldiers. Raumathar, its neighbor, was similarly mighty, and famous for its battle-wizards. The two clashed often, and Narfell even attempted an invasion of Mulhorand and Unther but was repelled. Eventually Narfell and Raumathar destroyed each other in a great battle involving demons, dragons, and magic that burned entire cities, creating the Endless Waste. To this day, the former lands claimed by Narfell remain known to some as the Demonlands.
The surviving cities of Netheril - Anauria, Asram, and Hlondath - formed settlements on the borders, of Anauroch, poor shadows of their parent's glory. Asram, known for its City of Magicians, preserved the spirit of Netheril if not its wisdom, and was devastated by plague a mere three hundred years after its founding. Anauria, known for its magic and swordmaking ability, was destroyed less than five hundred years after Netheril's fall. Hlondath, which survived the longest, largely abandoned magic and became a nation of loggers and shepherds. The advance of Anauroch eventually swallowed all three. Other refugees from Netheril fled farther south and founded Halruaa, which still exists today.
Other ill-remembered and little-known empires included the dwarven nation of Delzoun that traded with Netheril, and the elves of Illefarn. Many communities of elves have vanished over time as they retreated to the sanctuary-home of Evermeet, but these are not true fallen empires in the same sense as the others mentioned here, because the elves left voluntarily rather than being beset by war and catastrophes.
The Old Empires
The freed slaves of the Imaskari moved west after the destruction of their oppressors, led by their manifested deities. They settled on the southeastern portion of the Sea of Fallen~ Stars, forming two nations separated by the River of Swords. These kingdoms, Mulhorand and Unther, grew at a prolific pace and conquered or colonized the nearby lands. Unther's expansion stopped when the elves of the Yuirwood and the gold dwarves of the Great Rift held the empire at bay. A mages' rebellion halted Mulhorand's growth and caused the realm to look inward for centuries
The orcgate wars
One portal opened by Mulhorand's rebellious wizards led to a world populated by savage orcs. These orcs used the portal to invade Faerûn, overrunning settlements and slaying thousands. The manifestations of the god-kings of both Mulhorand and Unther battled the orcs, and the orcs retaliated by summoning divine avatars of their own deities. During these conflicts, known as the Orcgate Wars, the orc god Gruumsh slew the Mulhorandi sun god Re, the first known deicide in the Realms. Many of the Untheric deities were slain as well. The human deities eventually prevailed and the orcs were slain or driven northward or westward.
The deities Set and Osiris battled to succeed Re, and Set murdered his rival. Horus absorbed the divine power of Re and became Horus-Re, defeated Set, and cast the evil god into the desert. Isis resurrected Osiris. All of the Mulhorandi pantheon but Set united in support of Horus-Re. The two old nations paused to rebuild their power and lick their wounds. In Unther, the chief god Enlil abdicated in favor of his son Gilgeam and vanished. Ishtar, the only other surviving Untheric deity, gave the power of her manifestation to Isis and vanished as well. Gilgeam began his two-thousand-year deterioration into despotic tyranny as the ruler of Unther.
The Long Decline
Settled in their ways and careless toward their distant conquests, Mulhorand and Unther were ripe for internal conflict and resentment from their daughter states. Over the next thousand years, Unther's northern cities seceded, and the country shrunk by half when its western cities declared themselves the free nation of Chessenta. Mulhorand suffered another mages' revolt that resulted in the loss of the province of Thay, and, despite a later invasion attempt to reclaim it, Mulhorand was eventually forced to accept Thay as an independent nation. Semphar and Murghôm won their relative independence, and Mulhorand and Unther became known to many as the two "living" fallen empires.
Calimshan has a long history that predates even mighty Netheril. While never achieving the heights of magical power as Netheril did, Calimshan was a driving force in the history of the south of Faerûn because of its great population and military power.
Calim, a noble djinni, founded his empire when he, his retinue of djinn nobles and servants, and thousands of human slaves arrived from another plane. They repelled attacks from dragons and established border agreements with the nearby nations of elves and dwarves. A thousand years after Calim's arrival, an efreet mercenary named Memnon created a portal to Toril and founded his own realm to the north of the Calim empire.
After three centuries of coexistence, the two nations went to war and begin the Era of Skyfire, battling over the next four hundred years. Their war was brought to an end by the actions of their elven neighbors, who used elven high magic to fuse the two genie lords and most of their genie servitors into a large gem thereafter known as the Calimemnon Crystal. Eventually, the humans of the twin empires managed to drive out or bind the remaining djinn and efreet with the help of their dwarven neighbors. The humans called their united nation Coramshan.
Over the next four thousand years, under many different names and governments, Coramshan expanded to cover modern-day Amn and Tethyr, the entire Lake of Steam region, and as far south as the Chultan peninsula and the Landrise in the Shaar. Their expansions kept them busy battling Jhaamdath (now known as Chondath), the dwarven nation of Shanatar, and small elven kingdom. Although intrigue, rebellions, monsters, and conquest caused the borders of Calimshan to collapse and expand several times (eventually resulting in the territory it holds today), Calimshan always maintained its status as a mercantile power, moving goods from the Chultan peninsula to the North and back again.
Rise of Chondath
Founded shortly after the liberation of Coramshan by humans, the nation of Jhaamdath began as a collection of fishing and logging villages north of what is now called the Chondalwood. Jhaamdath and its central Twelve Cities of Swords grew quickly along the land and sea, and soon came into conflict with Coramshan when its borders approached the Lake of Steam. The two nations finally reached a peaceful settlement when they both agreed to abandon the contested lake. With Coramshan to the west and Unther to the east, Jhaamdath had nowhere to go but across the Sea of Fallen Stars, and so it focused its attention on trade, fortification of its borders, and northern expansion across the Inner Sea. Jhaamdath settled what is now Impiltur, Thesk, Sespech, Turmish, and the Vast, establishing colonies that enriched Jhaamdath with trade goods and prestige gained from large land holdings.
In time, the logging of the Chondalwood greatly angered the elves of that forest, and war between the races began. Within twenty years, all the elven cities in the forest except one had been destroyed, and nine out of ten elves in the wood had been slain. In retaliation, the surviving elven wizards used elven high magic to summon, a great wave that scoured all of Jhaamdath from the face of the world and reshaped that area into the current coastline of the Vilhon Reach.
The few survivors fled to the colonies along the northern coast of the Sea of Fallen Stars. In time, other scattered survivors and folk from its old colonies returned and formed the country of Chondath, which rose to become a mercantile power but was broken again by wars and plague. The Chondath of today is only the palest shadow of its former greatness, but its legacy lives on in its colonial descendants, who eventually expanded west and founded the powerful nations of Sembia and Cormyr.
Ages of Unity
Dalereckoning began with compacts between the human settlers of what became the Dalelands and the elves of Cormanthor, who raised the Standing Stone as a symbol of the vows to respect each other's ways of life. That stone still stands, despite the chaos and pain of more than thirteen centuries. Below are discussed only a few of the more relevant events from the time of the early empires to the modern day.
Faerûnian history records numerous attempts by all the races to live together peaceably. Two of the most prominent were at the elven capital of Myth Drannor in the Cormanthor forest and on the Sword Coast in the country known as Phalorm, the realm of Three Crowns (for its elven, human, and dwarven co-rulers). While both grand realms had their internal pressures, their demises came from without - invasion by orcs and humanoids (and, in Myth Drannor's case, extradimensional creatures). Despite their falls, these kingdoms stand as a testimony to the ideal that the varying races can live and thrive together.
A divine event now known as the Dawn Cataclysm resulted in numerous transformations among the deities, though the only known impacts on Toril came from a schism in Tyche's church that led to her demise and the rise of the goddesses Beshaba and Tymora. The schisms took place during the 8th century DR.
Some centuries before the Dawn Cataclysm (mortals have difficulty dating events involving the deities), the first Magister, Azuth the High One, battled his rival Savras the All-Seeing for supremacy in service to Mystra. The battle lasted years, ending when Azuth finally imprisoned Savras in a magic staff.
Other events in this time period may be tied to the Dawn Cataclysm, such as the ending of the second empire of Unther, the formation of the Harpers, the arrival of demon-king Iyachtu Xvim the Baneson in Westgate, and the imprisonment of Moander.
The Time of Troubles
Seeking power over other deities, Bane (in his previous incarnation) and Myrkul (the former god of the dead) stole from Lord Ao the Tablets of Fate, divine records that state the responsibilities of all the deities of Faerûn. This act convinced Ao that the gods were unconcerned with their worshipers and more concerned with their battles against each other. To punish them and force them to attend their followers, Ao forced the deities out of their extraplanar realms and into mortal bodies called avatars.
The divine avatars walked the earth, interacted with mortals (some more ruthlessly than others), and scrambled to find a way to return to their extraplanar homes, for the normal paths were barred. Known variously as the Time of Troubles, the Godswar, and the Avatar Crisis, this period in the history of Faerûn is the most chaotic in recent memory.
Sudden mortality wreaked havoc on the deities. Helm alone retained his divine power and was commanded by Ao to guard the path to the Outer Planes. Because Helm was successful, much of the destruction caused by the Avatar Crisis is laid at his feet. Mystra was destroyed and her essence merged with the land, causing magic to function erratically and creating many wild magic and dead magic areas.
Gond the Wonderbringer fell to earth as a gnome on the shores of Lantan. In gratitude for the sanctuary, he taught the Lantanese the secrets of smoke powder. Tymora appeared at her temple in Arabel, and it is thought that her presence there spared the city much destruction. Ibrandul, god of caverns, was slain by Shar in secret and his portfolio stolen.
Malar battled Nobanion and was hunted by Gwaeron Windstrom. Shaundakul battled and destroyed the avatar of a minor orc deity. Sharess took the form of the favorite concubine of the pasha of Calimport and was liberated from the growing influence of Shar by Sune. The Red Knight appeared in Tethyr, helping that nation defeat monsters raiding from the Wealdath. Hoar slew Ramman, Untheric god of war, but lost his foe's portfolio to Anhur. Clangeddin Silverbeard battled Labelas Enoreth on the isle of Ruathym over a misunderstanding. Shar and Selûne fought another round of their age-old battle as mortals in Waterdeep. Waukeen vanished, and her ally Lliira claimed custody of her portfolio for safekeeping. The avatar of the godling Iyachtu Xvim, half-demon offspring of Bane, was imprisoned under Zhentil Keep. Gilgeam, the god-king of Unther, was slain by his rival Tiamat, ending his two-millennia rule of that nation.
Bhaal, the god of murder, was greatly weakened during the Godswar and existed only as a murderous force that could possess living beings. When Bane challenged Torm, the Black Lord slew all of the Bhaal-worshiping assassins in Faerûn and absorbed their essence, further weakening Bhaal.
Forging an alliance with Myrkul, Bhaal kidnapped the mortal wizard Midnight and discovered one of the Tablets of Fate. But at the Boareskyr Bridge the mortal Cyric killed Bhaal with the sword Godsbane (the avatar of Mask). Cyric absorbed some of Bhaal's power, while the rest went into the Winding Water, poisoning the river.
Cyric then slew Leira, goddess of deception and illusions, with Godsbane and absorbed her portfolio. He later broke Godsbane, greatly weakening Mask.
Torm destroyed Bane during a battle in Tantras, and Ao later gave the Black Lord's portfolio to Cyric. Torm himself was slain in the conflict with Bane, but since his realm at the time was actually Toril and because he died in service to his ethos (obedience and duty), Lord Ao restored him to life and reinstated him as a deity.
Myrkul's avatar battled Midnight, who destroyed him. Midnight became the new incarnation of Mystra, absorbing the essence of the previous goddess from the land. Cyric became the new deity of strife, tyranny, murder, and death, holding the portfolios of the slain Bane, Bhaal, and Myrkul. (Years later, Cyric lost the portfolio of death to the mortal Kelemvor when he was temporarily driven mad by an artifact he created.)
The close of the Avatar Crisis brought a change to the way the deities of Faerûn relate to their followers. By Ao's decree, a deity's power is in part derived from the number and fervor of his worshipers, and so deities can no longer afford to ignore their faithful. While the Time of Troubles reshaped the land and altered the Faerûnian pantheon dramatically, the new accountability of divinity remains its most powerful legacy.
The Tuigan Horde
For centuries the Endless Waste was believed an empty land lightly populated by skilled horsemen, until a great leader arose who would change the perception of that isolated land forever. The son of his tribe's khan (leader), Yamun was a charismatic young man with drive and ambition. After slaying his father to attain control of his tribe, Yamun made alliances with other tribes and eventually united almost all the Tuigan natives into a powerful military force, earning the title of khahan, or "great khan." With over three hundred thousand horsemen under his command, Yainun's army rode east, easily defeated the armies of the Shou, then broached the Dragonwall. Soon turning his eyes westward, Yamun Khahan swept toward Thay. Surprised by the aggression of their normally undisciplined eastern neighbors, the Thayans suffered tremendous losses. Eventually Szass Tam, Thay's zulkir of necromancy, bargained with the Tuigan, arranging to teleport the khahan's forces to Rashemen in exchange for no further attacks against Thay. The horde battled the berserkers of Rashemen and was eventually pushed back by the Witches, but avoided a devastating defeat with the aid of more magic from the Thayan wizards.
Only temporarily halted by the Rashemaar, the horde progressed toward Thesk. News of the horde eventually reached western ears. Given its size, it seemed likely to easily overrun Thesk and Impiltur and move through the Vast and into the Dales, Sembia, and Cormyr. This great threat temporarily unified the people of the Heartlands, and they formed an army to combat the Tuigan. King Azoun IV of Cormyr led a force composed of the Purple Dragons and War Wizards of Cormyr, skilled mercenaries from Sembia and the Sword Coast, Dales militiafolk, dwarves of Earthfast, and even a division of Zhentarim orcs. This patchwork army reached Thesk while the horde was besieging its northern cities. The two armies met, and the allied army carried the day in the greatest battle of the last hundred years. Under Azoun's leadership, the allied force broke the Tuigan horsemen, and the king slew Yamun Khahan in the conflict.
Demoralized at the loss of their leader and reduced to less than a fourth of their original numbers, the Tuigan retreated from the battle field and began the long retreat back to their homeland. The people of Cormyr, Sembia, and the Dalelands returned to their homes. The orcs, however, had orders from their Zhentarim masters to remain in Thesk, and did so despite protests from Azoun. Not wishing to overextend his resources any further, the king left the small contingent of orcs in place, although he never forgot this tarnished spot on the Heartlands' otherwise bright victory.
The last few years have seen numerous upheavals. The followers of dead gods had to contend with worshipers of the new holders of those portfolios. The greatest among these battles were between Cyric and the "heretic" followers of Bane, Bhaal, and Myrkul. These internal conflicts slowed the expansion of the church of Cyric for some time and resulted in secret purges and crusades. When Iyachtu Xvim was released during the destruction of Zhentil Keep, another holy war began between his followers and those of the "usurper" Cyric. The return of Waukeen caused some confusion among her following, although Lliira gratefully returned her portfolio and the two faiths sorted things out quickly.
The peaceful kingdom of Cormyr suffered a series of tragedies, destabilizing a healthy, benevolent nation and affecting its ties to other countries. The Red Wizards of Thay greatly expanded their mercantile efforts into other lands, extending their reach into the Heartlands. Mulhorand, sensing weakness in its old neighbor and rival, invaded Unther and took the first step toward becoming a great empire again. The elves ended their retreat just in time to combat the arrival of drow in their abandoned forests. These events pale in comparison to the return of Bane. For many years, Iyachtu Xvim was known as the Baneson, said to be the offspring of Bane and a greater demon. Xvim acquired Bane's portfolio of tyranny and hatred and touted his church as the true church for those who once worshiped the Black Hand. Led by Fzoul Chembryl, Chosen of Xvim, the church of the Baneson gained many converts from the temple of Cyric, and the two faiths battled mercilessly.
On Midwinter night of 1372 DR, the priests of Xvim dreamt of their god, his demonic form glowing with hellish green light. The flame burned and split Xvim's skin, and from this shell burst forth a black armored figure - the traditional image of Bane - with an upraised right band. The green flames collected in that hand, which clenched suddenly, forcing the light outward from between the fingers. "Serve no one but Bane," the figure intoned, at which point the clerics woke, their right hands surrounded by cold green flames that persisted for nearly an hour.
The highest members of the church speculate that the creation of Xvim had always been part of Bane's plan to thwart his own death. Xvim thought himself an independent being but was actually nothing more than a seed of Bane's power, which finally ripened so that the Black Hand could return. Conversion of Xvimlar faithful to the worship of Bane was complete within a matter of days. The reborn god acquired the unclaimed portfolio of fear and returned to his status as a greater god. With the church of Bane full of zeal and guided by an experienced and intelligent deity, the forces of good fear a shift in the balance of power in the world.
What the Future Holds
Faerûn is a land of constant change. Wars are fought, bright kingdoms fall, and dead gods are reborn to work their evil. Individuals of skill, power, and determination will write the next page of history - if they dare to take up the challenge.
The city-states and kingdoms of Faerûn stand on the wreckage of older, lands. Ruined cities, ancient plagues, and slumbering evils still wait for those foolish enough to disturb them. Some of the most famous of these realms include the following.
Anauria: One of the few cities of Netheril to survive the failure of magic caused by Karsus in his mad bid for godhood. Anauria was swallowed by the desert Anauroch more than twelve hundred years ago. Its towers and citadels still lie under the sands of the Sword in southern Anauroch.
Askavar: An elven community in what is now the Wood of Sharp Teeth, Askavar was abandoned in the Retreat about eight hundred years ago.
Asram: Another survivor of Netheril. Its capital, Orolin, was known as the City of Magicians. Like Anauria; it fell to the relentless encroachment of Anauroch.
Athalantar: Athalantar, also known as the Kingdom of the Stag, was the long-ago birthplace of Elminster, the Old Mage, the last true prince of the realm. It stood in the Western Heartlands in the lands south of the High Forest. It fell under the cruel dominion of usurping Mage Kings but had a brief restoration after their fall. The realm fell to orc hordes a few scant generations later.
Cormanthyr: The great elven kingdom of the Forest of Cormanthor, Cormanthyr grew from the ashes of the Crown Wars and later survived the loss of its capital city, Myth Drannor, for hundreds of years. The Elven Court was abandoned in the Retreat, but some of Cormanthyr's elves stayed on in the settlements of Semberholme and Tangled Trees. In recent months numerous drow from several clans have invaded the ruins of Cormanthyr, seeking to reestablish their surface realms.
Delzoun: A powerful dwarven kingdom in the North, Delzoun lay beneath the Ice Mountains and the Rauvin Mountains. Ascore, its most important trading city, is a sand-swept ruin at the western border of Anauroch. Some of Delzoun's other cities, including Mithral Hall, Citadel Adbar, and Citadel Felbarr, are in dwarven hands again, or never fell. Other strongholds of Delzoun have been held by orc tribes for centuries.
Eaerlann: A powerful elven kingdom that sprawled across the eastern High Forest and the Delimbiyr Vale, Eaerlann survived for many thousands of years. Many of its folk left for Evermeet or helped form various elven and allied realms along the Sword Coast. The weakened kingdom was swept away by the orc hordes and demons of Hellgate Keep when the city of Ascalhorn fell to the fiends in 882 DR.
Hlondath: Third - and longest-lasting of Netheril's surviving cities Hlondath was a realm of loggers and shepherds that lay on the northwest verge of Anauroch, in the vicinity of the Fallen Lands. Like Asram and Anauria, it fell to the desert's growth.
Illefarn: A very old kingdom of elves that welcomed human tribes and dwarven miners in its territory, Illefarn stretched along the northern Sword Coast, including the territory that would become Waterdeep. It fell under repeated orc attacks from the North as well as the pressures of increasing encroachment by human settlements.
Imaskar: One of the earliest human empires, Imaskar rose in the region that is now Raurin, the Dust Desert, and the Plains of Purple Dust. The Imaskari, also known as the Artificers, were extremely powerful and haughty wizards who worked great wonders with magic and created portals to many worlds. Slaves they abducted from other worlds eventually rose up and overthrew them, becoming the folk of Mulhorand and Unther.
Jhaamdath: Later known as Chondath, this kingdom gave rise to the human settlers who migrated into much of the northern Inner Sea and the Dragon Coast in the centuries before Dalereckoning. Most of Jhaamdath was swept away by elven high magic worked to defend the Chondalwood from its aggressive incursions.
Kingdom of Man: After the fall of Phalorm, the Kingdom of Man arose in its wake; unifying the humans and few surviving elves and dwarves of the Sword Coast North under human rule. The realm lasted only two human generations. Like its predecessor, the Kingdom of Man was swept away by goblinoid hordes - but in dying, it dealt such a blow to the non-human populations that humanity gained the opportunity to expand without serious challenge and came to dominate the Sword Coast as it does to this day.
Miyeritar: An elven realm that stood where the High Moor now exists, Miyeritar was destroyed during the Crown Wars by terrible elven high magic that blanketed the entire realm for months in a killing storm (only a remnant of that magic survives today as the spell storm of vengeance). When at last the curse ended, nothing was left of the elven kingdom but a few subterranean ruins.
Mulhorand: Mulhorand, of course, is not a dead empire. But it is lost in the sense that it once was a mighty realm that spanned thousands of miles in the lands east of the Sea of Fallen Stars. Thay, Semphar, Murghôm, and the Plains of Purple Dust were under Mulhorandi dominion a thousand years ago, and are independent (or independent in all but name) now.
Narfell: The barbarians who roam this cold, hard land remember the days of their forefathers' glory only in tales and songs. Narfell was a warlike, cruel nation whose leaders were evil priests allied with demons. The Nars fought in the Orcgate Wars as mercenaries and contended with Mulhorand and Unther for rule over these lands for centuries, but their great enemy was the realm of Raumathar. Narfell and Raumathar destroyed each other in a great magical battle roughly one hundred fifty years before the raising of the Standing Stone. Nar ruins litter the northern lands.
Netheril: The most renowned of human empires, Netheril was a nation of great archwizards that arose along the Narrow Sea in the fair and verdant plains between the Icewall Mountains and the Desertsmouth Mountains, where Anauroch now lies. Netheril's mages crafted works of magic whose like has not been seen since, but they fell to the power of the phaerimms and the act of a single archmage whose pride and power doomed his people.
Oghrann: A dwarven nation that once surrounded the vale of the River Tim, Oghrann lay beneath the Sunset Mountains and the Storm Horns of Cormyr. Like many dwarven realms, Ogrhann fell to an onslaught of orcs, ogres, and other such creatures.
Phalorm: This kingdom is most often referred to as the Fallen Kingdom and is also known as the Realm of Three Crowns. Its formation in the early 6th century DR united native humans, elves from abandoned Illefarn, fallen dwarven realms, and scattered communities of gnomes and halflings for the first time along the Sword Coast. At its height Phalorm echoed what had already been achieved in Myth Drannor to the east, but the kingdom lasted a bare century before it was torn apart by concerted humanoid invasions. The realm's survivors became the founders of the Kingdom of Man.
Raumathar: The rival and enemy of ancient Narfell, Raumathar lay between the lands of the Nars and the Old Empires. At first mercenaries in the armies of Mulhorand and Unther, the Raumathars gained a reputation as skilled sorcerers and battle-wizards. They destroyed (and were destroyed by) Narfell more than a thousand years ago.
Shanatar: A mighty realm of shield dwarves that lay in the Underdark below Calimshan, Tethyr, and the Deepwash, Shanatar consisted of eight smaller kingdoms united by the Wyrmskull Throne. Only one of the kingdoms (Iltkazar, under Tethyr) still stands; evil Underdark races have destroyed or plundered the rest. Most of the dwarven realms of the Sword Coast sprang up as colonies from this realm, which outlived nearly all of them.
Shandaular: A strange mystery envelops this long-lost city. Reputed as a site of great magic and fantastic wealth, it is said to lie somewhere in the Shaar ... or perhaps in Narfell. No one knows if there was one Shandaular or two, or if both are somehow the same city.
Shoon: The Shoon Empire arose in Calimshan and carried that ancient land to the zenith of its power under human rule. It dates back to the first four centuries DR and at its height subdued a vast portion of southwestern Faerûn.
Tethyamar: The Mines of Tethyamar were a rich dwarven realm beneath the Desertsmouth Mountains. They fell to an assault of bloodthirsty demons at the end of a great horde of goblins, ogres, and giants. The fall of Tethyamar is relatively recent, having happened only a few hundred years ago (two or three dwarven lifetimes): Many of Tethyamar's folk still wander rootless, dreaming of the day when they reclaim their home.
Unther: Like Mulhorand, Unther is not strictly a lost empire - but it seems to be undergoing its final disintegration at the hands of its ages-old rival. At its height, Unther ruled most of the lands south of the Sea of Fallen Stars and the city-states on the south side of the Aglarondan peninsula. Its conquests included Chessenta, the Shaar, and portions of Dambrath and Estagund: None of these lands remain under Untheric rule, although the zigguratlike Untheric temples still can be seen in some of the cities of these regions. The death of the god-emperor Gilgeam in the Time of Troubles heralded the final collapse of a realm that had been in decline for a dozen centuries.