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The Moonsea was a region in north Faerûn, dominated by the large titular sea that was connected to the Sea of Fallen Stars to the south by the River Lis.[1] The shoreline was a wild, frontier area that was home to several city states dominated by despots, with no central capital. The Moonsea was not necessarily a safe place to live and its settlers were driven and independent as a result.[2] Its central location between Thar to the north, and the Dalelands and Sembia to the south fostered conflict and turbulence between its varied people.[3]

The most notable of the city-states were: Zhentil Keep at the western end, the greatest base of operations of the once-secret society of the Zhentarim;[4] Hillsfar lay in the southwest, a merchant-state that grew to dominate trade in the 15th century;[5] Mulmaster in the southeast, a cesspool of crime, mercantile intrigue and Bane-worship;[6] and lastly Melvaunt, which rested on the northern side, its metalworkers producing clouds of smoke over docks rife with slave trade.[1]

EcologyEdit

The area of the Moonsea was a veritable treasure-trove of resources, its southern and western coast lands were rich in raw resources and game,[7] its mountains full of ore and minerals,[8] and seas teemed with fish and crustaceans.[9]

WeatherEdit

The Moonsea climate could be described as harsh and cold. While not as cold as the Silver Marches, the weather was significantly foul, enough to cause the seas to freeze over during the winter. People of the Moonsea were used to wearing cold-weather and other bulky clothes year-round.[10] The bitter, eastern shores around Mulmaster and the Earthspur Mountains were particularly harsh, as they were constantly battered by piercing winds and heavy snowfall.[11]

The sea itself featured turbulent waters and was wracked with constant storms.[3] As unpleasant as the skies were over the waters, they were not nearly as foul as the black cloud of smoke that hung over the north shores above Melvaunt.[12]

InhabitantsEdit

The Moonsea region was a particularly dangerous one. Considering the sea itself was once referred to as the "Sea of Dragons", the remnants of dragon lairs littering the wilderness, a byproduct of the land being their former mating grounds, came as little surprise.[2] Green dragons were still active along the northern coast near Thar, and that region featured other strange beasts and monstrous humanoids including hordes of ogres,[13] orcs and goblins. [12]

The actual lake contained an abundance of species of sea life including giant pike, lamprey and a great number of schools of more common fish. The more dangerous denizens under the waves included aquatic trolls and ogres, known respectively as scrags and merrow,[14] and at least one gargantuan dragon turtle.[9]

The humanoid inhabitants living within the Moonsea included dangerous bands of pirates, raiders and bandits.[2]

PoliticsEdit

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HistoryEdit

In the era when the Moonsea was still rife with ogres and giants, barbarians from the Ride settled along the coasts of the Sea of Dragons. By 348 DR they eventually formed a burgeoning civilization within the citadel of Northkeep, a departure point of sorts for adventures into the lands of the north. The popularity of the settlement drew the attention of the Dark Alliance of Thar, which aimed to put an end to their excursions into their lands. In 400 DR, on a night that came to be known as the First Turnabout, the Dark Alliance assaulted, and destroyed, Northkeep from black-sailed ships in the Sea of Dragons, as well as mounted upon the backs of black dragons. After the attack, tens of thousands priests, mages and shamans chanted along the coastlines of the sea and sunk the city beneath its waves.[7]

As humans built more cities within the region, they were destroyed by the Alliance. In time, civilization succeeded, although with no help from the Elven Court who were concerned with defense of their forests from skirmishers and evil raiders.[15] The city of Phlan was founded just a decade after Northkeep, and like settlements in the region, had been raised and rebuilt throughout a number of cycles over the centuries;[16] Thentia came to be founded several hundred years later, in 800 DR, by the actions of a few united families;[17] and Hulburg just over a hundred years later, in 940 DR, as a base for those who fought the giants and evil humanoids of That.[18]

GeographyEdit

The western slopes of the Moonsea, which stretched as far as the Border Forest, were the most populated in the region in civilization and settlements of influence. Major trading roads created a triangle of commerce between Zhentil Keep, Voonlar and Teshwave. The latter of these cities rested on the mighty Tesh river, a major route for trade and travel in the west.[19] The Dragonspine Mountains rested in the northwest of the Moonsea, bisecting it from the southwest, and housed the infamous Citadel of the Raven on its western slopes.[1] These mountains were rugged and bitterly cold, but rich in raw, natural resources. This was in stark contrast to the bleak flatlands and moors dotted with only scattered ruins and sporadic farms, home to ravaging humanoids and monstrous beasts.[19]

The northern coast was even more harsh, filled largely with barren lands, cold weather and overall bleak atmosphere. Most of the landscape lacked any vegetation or notable landmarks like hills, and was by-and-large undevelopable. Attempts to construct buildings and lay roads outside the major cities were futile, with stones sinking into the marshlands, and as such, all major trade or travel was done by sea.[13] To add to the despair that permeated the land, the sky itself was black from pollution, a by-product of the industry of Melvaunt.[12]

Most of the southern shores of the Moonsea were lands of peace and natural beauty in comparison to the north. While the northern borders of Cormanthor lacked the raw, valuable riches of the Dragonspines, they were plentiful in lumber, which complemented the wealth of fish and sea life within the rivers that fed into the Moonsea itself.[20] Along the southern coast, on the eastern side of the River Lis, were the cold, cruel lands around the city of Mulmaster.[11]

Geographical featuresEdit

  • Dragonspine Mountains: This range was home to numerous bands of goblins, orcs and giants and held the lairs of numerous dragons. Within its depths were a wealth of valuable minerals, the mining of which were split between Zhentil Keep, Melvaunt and Hillsfar.[8]

IslesEdit

Bodies of waterEdit

Points of InterestEdit

  • Bell in the Depths: This landmark was found in a citadel within the submerged city of Northkeep, deep beneath the waves of the Moonsea proper. At times, nearby ships could hear the ghostly bell ring.[9]

RuinsEdit

  • Northkeep: Home to the first human settlers of the Moonsea, it served as a jumping-off-point to settlers in the area.[4]
  • Hulburg: By the mid 14th century DR, this ruined city was little more than a lone keep protected by the Hulmaster family.[29]

SettlementsEdit

West branchEdit

The most populated region of the Moonsea was also most rife with Zhentarim influence and Zhentilar occupation.[31]

  • Hillsfar: This large trading city, located on Tailings Bay on the southern coast of the Moonsea, was an important hub of commerce and home to merchant-nobles and guild masters.[5]
  • Zhentil Keep: A widely influential city-state that was home to the infamous network of spies and manipulators known as the Zhentarim.[4] Before its destruction by the Shadovar,[5] it was the oldest standing settlement within the region.[32]
  • Citadel of the Raven: This series of interconnected fortresses served as a temporary headquarters, and symbolic haven for the power of the Black Network.[33]
  • Yûlash: The city-upon-a-plateau was a former-fortified city that had slid in decline throughout the centuries.[4]
  • Voonlar: This town, the chief rival to Shadowdale,[34] was an independent barony upon the surface, but was in fact under Zhentarim control.[4]
  • Teshwave: While officially, this city was under the jurisdiction of Teshendale, by the late 1300's it too fell under sway of Zhent influence.[34]

North coastEdit

These barren and deadly lands on the Moonsea's north shore were rampant goblinoid hordes, and polluted with the endless clouds of smoke of industry.[12]

  • Phlan: This small city at the mouth of the Stojanow River,[34] had been destroyed countless times by war and monsters, only to have been continuously rebuilt.[16]
  • Thentia: A small, militarily weak city that retained fierce independence and strong trade[17] in what was a harsh climate, both geographically, and politically.[12]

South coastEdit

  • Elmwood: This small, farming community was one of the few locations within the Moonsea that could bring its inhabitants some peace and serenity.[37]
  • Mulmaster: The crime-ravaged metropolis on the southern shore of the Moonsea was a decidedly evil location on Toril.[6] After decades of influence from the Zhentarim,[34] it had, in 15th century DR, become the home for worship for the god Bane.[38]

AppendixEdit

GalleryEdit

Further readingEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Ed Greenwood, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, Rob Heinsoo (June 2001). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 159. ISBN 0-7869-1836-5.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Thomas M. Reid, Sean K. Reynolds, Darrin Drader, Wil Upchurch (June 2006). Mysteries of the Moonsea. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 6. ISBN 0-7869-3915-X.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 John Terra (February 1995). The Moonsea (Reference Guide). (TSR, Inc), p. 2. ISBN 978-0786900923.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Ed Greenwood, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, Rob Heinsoo (June 2001). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 162. ISBN 0-7869-1836-5.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Bruce R. Cordell, Ed Greenwood, Chris Sims (August 2008). Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 150. ISBN 978-0-7869-4924-3.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Thomas M. Reid, Sean K. Reynolds, Darrin Drader, Wil Upchurch (June 2006). Mysteries of the Moonsea. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 89. ISBN 0-7869-3915-X.
  7. 7.0 7.1 John Terra (February 1995). The Moonsea (Reference Guide). (TSR, Inc), p. 3. ISBN 978-0786900923.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 Ed Greenwood, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, Rob Heinsoo (June 2001). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 159. ISBN 0-7869-1836-5.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 John Terra (February 1995). The Moonsea (Reference Guide). (TSR, Inc), p. 63. ISBN 978-0786900923.
  10. Thomas M. Reid, Sean K. Reynolds, Darrin Drader, Wil Upchurch (June 2006). Mysteries of the Moonsea. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 5. ISBN 0-7869-3915-X.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Thomas M. Reid, Sean K. Reynolds, Darrin Drader, Wil Upchurch (June 2006). Mysteries of the Moonsea. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 88. ISBN 0-7869-3915-X.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 John Terra (February 1995). The Moonsea (Reference Guide). (TSR, Inc), p. 27. ISBN 978-0786900923.
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 13.4 Thomas M. Reid, Sean K. Reynolds, Darrin Drader, Wil Upchurch (June 2006). Mysteries of the Moonsea. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 8. ISBN 0-7869-3915-X.
  14. 14.0 14.1 John Terra (February 1995). The Moonsea (Reference Guide). (TSR, Inc), p. 64. ISBN 978-0786900923.
  15. John Terra (February 1995). The Moonsea (Reference Guide). (TSR, Inc), p. 4. ISBN 978-0786900923.
  16. 16.0 16.1 John Terra (February 1995). The Moonsea (Reference Guide). (TSR, Inc), p. 32. ISBN 978-0786900923.
  17. 17.0 17.1 John Terra (February 1995). The Moonsea (Reference Guide). (TSR, Inc), p. 37. ISBN 978-0786900923.
  18. John Terra (February 1995). The Moonsea (Reference Guide). (TSR, Inc), p. 42. ISBN 978-0786900923.
  19. 19.0 19.1 Thomas M. Reid, Sean K. Reynolds, Darrin Drader, Wil Upchurch (June 2006). Mysteries of the Moonsea. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 122. ISBN 0-7869-3915-X.
  20. Thomas M. Reid, Sean K. Reynolds, Darrin Drader, Wil Upchurch (June 2006). Mysteries of the Moonsea. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 45. ISBN 0-7869-3915-X.
  21. 21.0 21.1 John Terra (February 1995). The Moonsea (Reference Guide). (TSR, Inc), p. 61. ISBN 978-0786900923.
  22. John Terra (February 1995). The Moonsea (Reference Guide). (TSR, Inc), p. 48. ISBN 978-0786900923.
  23. Ed Greenwood, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, Rob Heinsoo (June 2001). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 162. ISBN 0-7869-1836-5.
  24. 24.0 24.1 Rand Sharpsword (2001-09-12). More Moonsea!. Rand's Travelogue. Wizards of the Coast. Retrieved on 2010-10-31.
  25. James Butler, Elizabeth T. Danforth, Jean Rabe (September 1994). “Cormanthor”. In Karen S. Boomgarden ed. Elminster's Ecologies (TSR, Inc), p. 6. ISBN 1-5607-6917-3.
  26. R.A. Salvatore (1989). The Bloodstone Lands. (TSR, Inc), pp. Fold–out map. ISBN 0-88038-771-8.
  27. Bruce R. Cordell, Ed Greenwood, Chris Sims (August 2008). Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 50. ISBN 978-0-7869-4924-3.
  28. Richard Baker (Nov 2009). Corsair. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 0786953071.
  29. John Terra (February 1995). The Moonsea (Reference Guide). (TSR, Inc), p. 43. ISBN 978-0786900923.
  30. John Terra (February 1995). The Moonsea (Reference Guide). (TSR, Inc), p. 46. ISBN 978-0786900923.
  31. John Terra (February 1995). The Moonsea (Reference Guide). (TSR, Inc), p. 5. ISBN 978-0786900923.
  32. John Terra (February 1995). The Moonsea (Reference Guide). (TSR, Inc), p. 10. ISBN 978-0786900923.
  33. Thomas M. Reid, Sean K. Reynolds, Darrin Drader, Wil Upchurch (June 2006). Mysteries of the Moonsea. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 154. ISBN 0-7869-3915-X.
  34. 34.0 34.1 34.2 34.3 Ed Greenwood, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, Rob Heinsoo (June 2001). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 161. ISBN 0-7869-1836-5.
  35. John Terra (February 1995). The Moonsea (Reference Guide). (TSR, Inc), p. 23. ISBN 978-0786900923.
  36. Thomas M. Reid, Sean K. Reynolds, Darrin Drader, Wil Upchurch (June 2006). Mysteries of the Moonsea. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 9. ISBN 0-7869-3915-X.
  37. John Terra (February 1995). The Moonsea (Reference Guide). (TSR, Inc), p. 49. ISBN 978-0786900923.
  38. Bruce R. Cordell, Ed Greenwood, Chris Sims (August 2008). Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 151. ISBN 978-0-7869-4924-3.
  39. John Terra (February 1995). The Moonsea (Reference Guide). (TSR, Inc), p. 59. ISBN 978-0786900923.
  40. Ed Greenwood, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, Rob Heinsoo (June 2001). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 160. ISBN 0-7869-1836-5.