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The magocracy of Netheril was one of the ancient human empires of Faerûn. Netheril was also the home of the most powerful wizard who ever walked on Faerûn, Karsus. The Netherese also created powerful artifacts known as mythallars, which allowed mundane objects to become magical, dramatically changing the face of the Netherese Empire (or better said, the face of the upper side of the empire, as Netheril eventually became twofold: the "have", High Netherese, and the "have not", the low Netherese).
The Neth was a group of small farming villages that banded together for protection and led to an empire of human wizards, cities that floated across the sky and a terrible, terrible arrogance that nearly stripped Toril of its magic forever.
It can be said that the empire of Netheril was the oldest surviving human empire, and as such it is not surprising that it passed through several different phases. The First Age was the founding and settling of the Netheril region by humans, and of their contact with elves who taught them magic. This was followed by the Nether Age, so-called for the Nether Scrolls that the Netherese people used to rapidly increase their knowledge of magic. Undoubtedly the peak of their power, this was a time when the Netherese were breaking new ground, both in advances in magical pursuits but also in exploration into other planes and even across crystal spheres. During this age lived Karsus, a wizard of immense power who sought to seize the power of the gods. Indeed, it was his folly that led to the next age, the Fall of the Empire. Broken and shattered, it took the Netherese people a while to regroup, but eventually came the most recent age, the Re-Emergence of the Empire.
The Fall of the EmpireEdit
Netheril was destroyed by Karsus's Folly: an attempt to steal the power of Mystryl, goddess of magic. She sacrificed herself in a last ditch effort to save Faerûn and was replaced by Mystra. When this happened, all magic ceased to exist for a time. Since Netherese cities floated above the surface, when magic ceased to exist there was nothing to hold the cities up. Netheril was almost completely obliterated in one fell swoop. The remnants of Netheril were then targeted by the phaerimm, who would have destroyed them and the rest of Faerûn had it not been for the intervention of the Sharn.
Re-Emergence of the EmpireEdit
Three Netherese successor states (Asram, Anauria, and Hlondath) survived for a while, but all were eventually destroyed by the encroaching desert. Some Netherese culture survived in the country of Halruaa in the Shining South, which was founded by Raumark, a Netherese wizard who led a group of refugees south after foreseeing the destruction of the empire. However, the nation of Halruaa was almost completely wiped out during the Spellplague, and the area became one of the largest remaining areas of spellplague.
Additionally, just before the time of Karsus's Folly, one of the floating Netherese cities, Thultanthar, moved to the shadow plane. During their time in the shadow plane, many of the denizens were affected by their environment and became shades. The Shade Enclave returned to Faerûn with the help of the Evereskan elf Galaeron Nihmedu shortly before the Spellplague struck.
The history of Netheril was one of great advances in the arcane arts and great hubris on behalf of the civilization's greatest archmages. Thanks to excellently preserved Netherese records, written accounts from the Netherese Diaspora, and the fact that more than a few Netherese citizens lived survived into the 14th century DR—either through undeath (e.g., Larloch and Ioulaum) or other means (e.g., the inhabitants of Thultanthar—historians gained a comprehensive knowledge of Netheril's history.
The First AgeEdit
At the beginning, Netheril was a paradise of rivers, forests, lakes, and plains. Netheril was little more than a group of villages (Fenwick, Gers, Gilan, Gustaf, Moran, Nauseef, and Janick) along one such lake. Soon after this alliance was named "Netheril" (after Nether the Elder who was assumed to be the leader), the nation proceeded to remove the threats close by. Seeking to widen the scope of both its power and land, it began expanding. This eventually lead the Eaerlanni elves to approach the humans. The elves taught the humans of this new alliance magic, and with talent unseen before (possibly because of the shorter human life span) the humans learned arcane spells with a fervor. Every denizen of Netheril was taught the very basics of spellcasting. Even average maids knew cantrips to make the broom sweep the floor. Those who excelled at the arts of magic became known as arcanists, a rapidly rising political faction that was second only to the nobility of the nation.
The Nether AgeEdit
The Nether Age began when the Nether Scrolls were discovered. The scrolls provided a huge leap forward in Netherese spellcraft. The name of the person who discovered these scrolls is unknown, and was known in modern times as only "The Finder." The scrolls were found west of the Far Horns Forest by the arcanists of Seventon and Zenith.
The Mythallar EraEdit
The Mythallar Era began with the birth of one of Netheril's greatest arcanists, Ioulaum. In -3095 DR, half of the Nether Scrolls—one complete set—were stolen by Cormanthyrian elves, and a rock gnome. The rock gnome took a peek at a Nether scroll, giving him and the gnome community knowledge of illusions.
In -3014 DR, Ioulaum proved his worth with the invention of the first mythallar. It was soon found by Ioulaum that items known as quasi-magical items could be powered by a mythallar in place of the Weave. It was in -2954 DR that Ioulaum created the first floating city, Xinlenal, kept afloat by the spell Proctiv's move mountain.[note 1]
The Silver AgeEdit
The Silver Age began with the discovery of Dekanter in -2758 DR, a mine that provided Netheril with mineral wealth for a thousand years. During the push to discover the mines, small colonies and outposts were set up in what was later known as the Savage Frontier. The Netherese created several quasi-magical items during this time.
In time, the Netherese archwizards began to feel cramped in their floating cities, leading to ideas of expansion in the Savage Frontier. The idea to expand westward was fueled by the Terraseer, a mysterious oracle who discovered the Old Owl Well in -2368 DR.
The Golden AgeEdit
The Golden Age began with the birth of Jeriah the Chronomancer (known simply as "Chronomancer" by the Netherese) in -2207 DR. During this time, Netheril began lifting one enclave into the sky per year. Soon there were dozens of enclaves riding the air currents or orbiting patterns around the loosely defined borders of Netheril. Jeriah the Chronomancer died from a wound when defending Illusk from an orc horde in -2095 DR.
The Age of DiscoveryEdit
The Netherese archwizards ventured into Realmspace using spelljammers, or flying ships. In -1064 DR, the Netherese spelljammers ran across the illithids, who attacked the Netherese spelljammers on sight, making trade impossible. The fear generated ended spelljamming about one thousand years later when it proved to be unprofitable.
The Shadowed AgeEdit
While Netheril's flying cities flourished in the sky, magical residue seeped into the earth below and became an affliction for a race of subterranean dwelling creatures called the phaerimm. Eventually, the phaerimm grew tired of their torment and began to retaliate. They cast spells that drained life and magic from the earth and the floating cities of Netheril, creating barren wastelands where there once were lush fields and areas of wild magic. As magic began to go uncontrollably awry, many of the Netherese archmages fled in search of lands where their magic would not go wrong, including Ioulaum, who fled to a lair set up in the Underdark. The disappearance of the arch-mages caused panic, and people began to flee the land.
In -339 DR, in an attempt to save his own floating city, or enclave, the young wizard prodigy named Karsus decided to cast a spell he had been researching for decades. In casting the spell, Karsus created a link between himself and the goddess of magic, Mystryl, and stole her divinity and power. At that very moment, Karsus swelled with incredible knowledge of everything, including his mistake. The war between the phaerimm and the Netherese was constantly damaging the Weave, which Mystryl was the only one capable of constantly repairing. To stop Karsus from completely destroying the Weave, Mystryl severed her connection with Karsus, and in the process destroyed herself. In the backlash from being disconnected from Mystryl, Karsus was permanently petrified and all magic around the world temporarily went null, causing the Netherese floating cities to plummet to the earth. This event would be known as Karsus's Folly.
Almost immediately after Mystryl died, she was reincarnated as Mystra, the goddess of magic who retained her position until the Time of Troubles. Fortunately, she was able to save three of the falling Netherese cities: Anauria, Asram, and Hlondath. Two other cities, Thultanthar and Opus, were saved by Shar and Selûne respectively and survived in other planes.
Almost all of the surviving Netherese forsook magic completely. The three cities saved by Mystra were later either destroyed or abandoned.
The life-draining magic of the phaerimm continued and the lands of the Empire eventually became the Anauroch Desert. Eventually all trace of the Netherese Empire was forgotten and buried under the sands.
- The lands directly south of Netheril became the home of the Anaurians, who became renowned for creating fine swords and carrying on the magical legacy of Netheril. The lack of high-level magics and mythallars' severely hampered their efforts, however, and the kingdom was finally destroyed in a bloody and costly battle against an orc horde in 450 DR.
- No sooner had Asram recovered from the Fall than it was suddenly struck by a horrendous plague sent by Talona that claimed all the Asramans in -33 DR. In the spring months that led up to what many called a repeat of the Dark Disaster, cattle were found dead in the fields and crops withered and died, sometimes overnight. During the first week of Eleasias, however, the plague struck the entire nation. Few survived.
- The longest-lived of the survivor-states, Hlondathans immediately began blaming others for the fall of Netheril‚ discounting the news that Karsus himself had caused the destruction. Their favorite target for such blame was the elves of Cormanthyr, whom they saw as "accomplices of the phaerimm". They established good relations with the dwarves of Tethyamar, but otherwise concentrated on logging the nearby forest and herding cattle across the plains.
- In 199 DR, the Hlondathans finally incited the Cormanthyr elves into a war. In what became known as the Crown Against Scepter Wars, the elves and Hlondath exchanged a series of blows back and forth. Time after time, Myth Drannor crushed Hlondathan forces, and the wars served only to weaken Hlondath.
- The approach of the Anauroch desert slowly consumed fields and fertile plains, further scattering the survivors.
The reemergence of the Shade EnclaveEdit
The flying enclave of Thultanthar had shifted in its entirety into the Plane of Shadow the day before Karsus' Folly and remained there, unable to return for several weeks. When they saw what had happened in their absence, they decided they would remain to live in the Shadow Plane in order to maintain what could be the last of the Netherese people. However, in the year 1372 DR, the enclave returned to the Prime Material Plane with the goal of reestablishing the Empire. Since returning, the enclave came to primarily float above the north-western side of the Shadow Sea in the Anauroch desert.
Created by Ioulaum in -3014 DR, these 150-ft (46-m) crystal orbs drew power directly from Mystryl's Weave. Because of Mystra's Ban, the mythallar could no longer draw upon the Weave to power quasi-magical items or the creation of floating enclaves.
- Akintaer (also called Quagmire)
- Aquessir (Shadowtop Borough)
- Eileanar (Karsus' enclave)
- Farenway (Yeoman's Loft)
- Orbedal (Sanctuary)
- Phylornel (Buoyance)
- Selûnarra (Opus)
- Thultanthar (Shade)
- Tith Tilendrothael
- Xinlenal (Ioulaum's enclave)
The Mines of Dekanter produced large quantities of gold, iron, mercury, silver, and platinum to meet the arcanists' demands. After the fall of Netheril, it became full of goblins and gargoyles, although it still contained a lot of gold, iron, mercury, and silver there.Rasilith was the capital city of Thaeravel, the Land of Alabaster Towers, before the Netherese overran the place armed with newfound knowledge from the Nether Scrolls. After the fall, it was half buried in the Quarter of Emptiness ruled by the phaerimm.
Netheril in 1479 DREdit
Sembia was virtually a vassal state for Netheril. However, trade and diplomacy from this country were important to the Empire's economy, so Netheril allowed Sembia a limited amount of autonomy.
Although the Spellplague was caused by Shar, millennia of indoctrination by Shar and her church enabled Netheril's government to rationalize the Spellplague as being the fault of the late goddess Mystra. Another former Netherese deity, Amaunator, returned less than a century before yet Netheril also reviled this deity, again due to Shar's indoctrination.
The mages of Netheril were conducting experiments with the goal of restoring the Shadow Weave and, in turn, some of Shar's previous influence over the Art.
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- ↑ This event happened in -2954 DR according to Lost Empires of Faerûn, but in 866 NY (-2993 DR) according to Netheril: Empire of Magic, though the name Xinlenal is not mentioned there. The 10th-level spell Proctiv's move mountain, considered vital for the establishment of a flying enclave, was supposedly only developed in -2113 DR. Ioulaum supposedly used an 11th-level spell when raising his enclave, but no corresponding spell is detailed in Netheril: Empire of Magic.
- ↑ Paul Jaquays (1988). The Savage Frontier. (TSR, Inc), p. 3. ISBN 0-88038-593-6.
- ↑ Brian R. James and Ed Greenwood (September, 2007). The Grand History of the Realms. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 29. ISBN 978-0-7869-4731-7.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 slade, James Butler (November 1996). Netheril: Empire of Magic (The Winds of Netheril). (TSR, Inc.), p. 5. ISBN 0-7869-0437-2.
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 slade, James Butler (November 1996). Netheril: Empire of Magic (The Winds of Netheril). (TSR, Inc.), p. 6. ISBN 0-7869-0437-2.
- ↑ slade, James Butler (November 1996). Netheril: Empire of Magic (The Winds of Netheril). (TSR, Inc.), pp. 6–7. ISBN 0-7869-0437-2.
- ↑ Richard Baker, Ed Bonny, Travis Stout (February 2005). Lost Empires of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 97. ISBN 0-7869-3654-1.
- ↑ slade, James Butler (November 1996). Netheril: Empire of Magic (The Winds of Netheril). (TSR, Inc.), p. 7. ISBN 0-7869-0437-2.
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 slade, James Butler (November 1996). Netheril: Empire of Magic (The Winds of Netheril). (TSR, Inc.), p. 8. ISBN 0-7869-0437-2.
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 9.2 slade, James Butler (November 1996). Netheril: Empire of Magic (The Winds of Netheril). (TSR, Inc.), p. 9. ISBN 0-7869-0437-2.
- ↑ 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 slade, James Butler (November 1996). Netheril: Empire of Magic (The Winds of Netheril). (TSR, Inc.), pp. 9–12. ISBN 0-7869-0437-2.
- ↑ slade, James Butler (November 1996). Netheril: Empire of Magic (The Winds of Netheril). (TSR, Inc.), p. 116. ISBN 0-7869-0437-2.
- ↑ Richard Baker, Ed Bonny, Travis Stout (February 2005). Lost Empires of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 99. ISBN 0-7869-3654-1.
- ↑ 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 slade, James Butler (November 1996). Netheril: Empire of Magic (The Winds of Netheril). (TSR, Inc.), p. 117. ISBN 0-7869-0437-2.
- Ed Greenwood, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, Rob Heinsoo (June 2001). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 0-7869-1836-5.
- Bruce R. Cordell, Ed Greenwood, Chris Sims (August 2008). Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 164–165. ISBN 978-0-7869-4924-3.
- Rob Heinsoo, Logan Bonner, Robert J. Schwalb (September 2008). Forgotten Realms Player's Guide. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 120–121. ISBN 978-0-7869-4929-8.