The Sword was one of the three major regions of Anauroch.[1][2][3] It was the hot, sandy region most thought of when someone mentioned the Great Desert.[1][4]


The term "the Sword" was coined by sages because of the violent Bedine tribes known to live there.[1][5][4][3]


The Sword was the southernmost and largest of the three subdivisions of Anauroch.[5][4] It stretched from below the ruins of Oreme[3] and from the Lonely Moor in the west to the Border Forest in the east. To the north was the Plain of Standing Stones. The Sword also bordered Evereska in the west and the kingdom of Cormyr in the south at the Goblin Marches. To the east were the Stonelands and the Desertsmouth Mountains.[5]

The area was covered in sand dunes,[5][2][3] which was what had given the whole desert the name the "Great Sand Sea."[5][3] Four types of sand dunes could be found in the Sword: transverse "waves", longitudinal "troughs", barchan dunes, and star dunes. It had a few "sand mountains", or draa, that were over one hundred feet (30 meters) high, but these were relatively rare. Dunes would often collapse in slides of sand with loud booms.[4]

The Sword also contained rocky pinnacles and small ridges of piled, weathered rock.[4][3] Water was sometimes found deep below these ridges.[4]

Some parts of the Sword contained flat salt plains instead of dunes.[4][3]

Oases provided water and shade to desert inhabitants and were formed from springs deep in the ground that welled up to fill depressions in rock or sand. These attracted plants along the fringes of the source. Some oases had actually been created by magical means.[3]

Occasionally, springs from a mountain would form a stream through the desert. The water would carve a gulch before drying up. Similarly, dried up ponds fed by such springs would form "dead waters", or mamlahah, flat-bottomed valleys of cracked clay.[4]

Ancient tunnels below the sands connected such places as Evereska, Tethyamar, and the Stonelands. Most merchants from the east entered the desert through the Raudilauth valley.[5] The Zhentarim had established several trade routes through the Sword.[6]

The mountains in the desert sometimes contained gold. Other desert rocks were a source of gypsum. The salt flats were harvested by the Bedine for salt.[7]

The edges of the Sword were collectively called Desertsedge and were covered with rocky foothills with scrub plants and cut with ravines. Steams flowed from Desertsedge into the desert sands and quickly dried up.[3]


The weather in the Sword varied drastically with the time of day and time of year. In the summer, during the day, it was scorching hot, but at night, the temperatures could drop to freezing chills.[5][8][3] A steady wind provided a constant droning sound during the day, and it slowed to a still breeze at night, if there was any movement of the wind at all.[9][8] It was common for a summer to see no rain at all.[10] The winters were as harsh and cold as elsewhere in the North.[5] Rain or snow were rare no matter what time of year, and when it did rain, it might rain in one spot but not in another location only a mile or so away. Such rains were short and violent, with torrential downpours and lightning that came and went, causing flash-floods.[8]

Heat shimmer and mirages were all too common on the Sands.[4] Another risk of travel in the Sword was the violent sandstorms.[8]

Flora and FaunaEdit

The Sword had much life within it, despite its harsh conditions, including many plants, insects, birds, and animals, which tended to burrow under the dunes.[5] Snakes, lizards, birds of prey that hunted at night, and desert bats made homes in the rocky ridges.[4][3]

Swarms of moths were sometimes present in the Sword,[11] and in the spring and fall, swarms of other insects were prevalent.[11][3] Desert snails were a strange creature that left their shells during the dry summers to hibernate under the sands.[11]

Camels were tended by the Bedine, being fed by hidden oasis pastures.[5] Wild camels were rare[11] but present.[3] Gazelles and onagers were two other herd animals present.[11]

In oases, hares and ostriches could be found, as well as jackals.[12] As far as other predators, lions roamed the dunes,[11][3] and many wyverns also lived in the Sword.[5]

Thorny shrubs were often able to survive on rocky ridges, and their presence hinted at water sources below the surface in such places. In gulches formed by rare streams, ghaf trees and qassis bushes would form canopies and shade for animals, such as doves and quail. Acacia trees often grew around mamlahah.[4]

Tough varieties of grass grew in many places, as did cacti and short, twisted bushes and trees.[3] Among the more numerous plant species present in the Sword were allium, boojum trees, bunch grasses, buried tubers, cereus, chenopods, creosote bushes, lichens, ocotillos, puncture vines, saltbushes, tumbleweed,[3] and windmills.[13] Some plants and trees in the Sword produced valuable commodities,[7][3] including coffee, "dragon's blood", frankincense, myrrh, sesame seeds, tanbark, and turmeric.[7]

After the rare rains, the Sword turned into a place of plenty, as flowers bloomed and set seeds.[8]


The Sword was the part of Anauroch most people thought about and cared about. It had great strategic importance as a route across the desert, and many of the ruins of the fallen empire of Netheril hid beneath its sands, making it a tempting place for adventure- and treasure-seekers.[5][4]

Few, however, survived such journeys into the desert—or under it. Some creature or creatures below the surface terrorized any making use of the tunnels and ancient paths below the sands, and on the surface, one had to contend with both the harsh environment and the savage Bedine tribes.[5]


The Bedine called this region home, as did the lesser-known D'tarig people.[5] With the exception of some oases, few places in the desert could support permanent residency, so the inhabitants had to live a nomadic life.[14]

Dragons also laired in the Sword,[5] as did lamia and laertis.[15]

Notable LocationsEdit

Addas Babar 
This was a rare example of a D'tarig village, located near the Tethyamar mountains.[16]
Alagh's Pass 
This gap allowed passage between the Saiyaddar and the Hills of Scent.[17]
This was one of the few cities to survive the Fall of Netheril, yet it was later buried by the sands of the Sword nonetheless.[18][3]
This was the site of the ruins of another of the cities surviving the Fall.[3]
At'ar's Looking Glass 
This was a large "sea" of polished stones.[17]
This was a cluster of rocky spires.[17]
This oasis was magically created by the Zhentarim, but was haunted by a daemon.[citation needed]
Colored Waters 
This oasis was a natural hot spring.[19]
El Ma'ra 
This small oasis was once favored by the Qahtan Bedine tribe.[19]
El Rahalat 
This mountain was named after a shunned Bedine sorceress.[19]
This oasis had a rare temple that was sacred to the Bedine.[20]
This oasis was magically created by the Zhentarim and guarded by a ghost.[21]
The Hills of Scent 
These sand hills were covered with frankincense trees.[21]
This was the site of the ruins of another of the cities surviving the Fall.[3]
Lion's Eye Oasis 
This was the most verdant oasis in the western half of the Sword.[22]
This was a Zhentarim village used as a base of operations.[22][3]
This was another oasis created by the Zhentarim.[22]
The Oasis of Vipers 
This oasis was infested with snakes.[23]
This was another magically created oasis.[23]
This was one of the ruined cities found within the Sword.[23][3]
Quarter of Emptiness 
This region in the center of the Sword was avoided by the Bedine.[24][2][3]
These ancient ruins were buried in the Quarter of Emptiness.[24][3]
The Saiyaddar 
These were the primary hunting lands of the Bedine.[25][3]
The Scimitar Spires 
This was a range of rocky obelisks.[25]
The Shoal of Thirst 
Before the return of Thultanthar turned it into the Shadow Sea,[citation needed] this was a massive salt flat basin.[25]
The Sister of Rains 
This hard-to-reach oasis was near the Shoal of Thirst.[26]
Tel Badir 
This was another D'tarig village, which rested atop a hill.[26][3]
This was another Zhentarim-created oasis with access to a beryl vein.[27]
The Wall of Fallen Djinn 
This mountain range nearly surrounded the Shoal of Thirst.[28]
The Well of the Chasm 
This oasis was commonly used by the Raz'hadi Bedine tribe.[29]
The Well of the Cloven Rock 
This well and oasis was located in the Hills of Scent.[29]
This was a tiny oasis that contained many Bedine graves.[29]

Rumors and LegendsEdit

There was a rumor that a magic gate existed in the north part of the Sword, linking Faerûn to Krynn.[11]



  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Ed Greenwood (1991). Anauroch. (TSR, Inc), p. 3. ISBN 1-56076-126-1.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Ed Greenwood, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, Rob Heinsoo (June 2001). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 99. ISBN 0-7869-1836-5.
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 3.13 3.14 3.15 3.16 3.17 3.18 3.19 3.20 3.21 3.22 3.23 3.24 3.25 3.26 Greg A. Vaughan, Skip Williams, Thomas M. Reid (November 2007). Anauroch: The Empire of Shade. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 130,132–134. ISBN 0-7869-4362-9.
  4. 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 4.11 Ed Greenwood (1991). Anauroch. (TSR, Inc), pp. 34–35. ISBN 1-56076-126-1.
  5. 5.00 5.01 5.02 5.03 5.04 5.05 5.06 5.07 5.08 5.09 5.10 5.11 5.12 5.13 5.14 Ed Greenwood (1991). Anauroch. (TSR, Inc), pp. 4–6. ISBN 1-56076-126-1.
  6. Ed Greenwood (1991). Anauroch. (TSR, Inc), p. 27. ISBN 1-56076-126-1.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Ed Greenwood (1991). Anauroch. (TSR, Inc), pp. 42–45. ISBN 1-56076-126-1.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 Ed Greenwood (1991). Anauroch. (TSR, Inc), pp. 37–38. ISBN 1-56076-126-1.
  9. Ed Greenwood (1991). Anauroch. (TSR, Inc), pp. 35–36. ISBN 1-56076-126-1.
  10. Ed Greenwood (1991). Anauroch. (TSR, Inc), p. 23. ISBN 1-56076-126-1.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 11.5 11.6 Ed Greenwood (1991). Anauroch. (TSR, Inc), pp. 39–40. ISBN 1-56076-126-1.
  12. Ed Greenwood (1991). Anauroch. (TSR, Inc), pp. 45–46. ISBN 1-56076-126-1.
  13. Ed Greenwood (1991). Anauroch. (TSR, Inc), pp. 39–40. ISBN 1-56076-126-1.
  14. Ed Greenwood (1991). Anauroch. (TSR, Inc), p. 13. ISBN 1-56076-126-1.
  15. Ed Greenwood (1991). Anauroch. (TSR, Inc), p. 32. ISBN 1-56076-126-1.
  16. Ed Greenwood (1991). Anauroch. (TSR, Inc), p. 46. ISBN 1-56076-126-1.
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 Ed Greenwood (1991). Anauroch. (TSR, Inc), p. 47. ISBN 1-56076-126-1.
  18. Ed Greenwood, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, Rob Heinsoo (June 2001). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 266. ISBN 0-7869-1836-5.
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 Ed Greenwood (1991). Anauroch. (TSR, Inc), p. 48. ISBN 1-56076-126-1.
  20. Ed Greenwood (1991). Anauroch. (TSR, Inc), p. 49. ISBN 1-56076-126-1.
  21. 21.0 21.1 Ed Greenwood (1991). Anauroch. (TSR, Inc), p. 50. ISBN 1-56076-126-1.
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 Ed Greenwood (1991). Anauroch. (TSR, Inc), p. 51. ISBN 1-56076-126-1.
  23. 23.0 23.1 23.2 Ed Greenwood (1991). Anauroch. (TSR, Inc), p. 52. ISBN 1-56076-126-1.
  24. 24.0 24.1 Ed Greenwood (1991). Anauroch. (TSR, Inc), p. 53. ISBN 1-56076-126-1.
  25. 25.0 25.1 25.2 Ed Greenwood (1991). Anauroch. (TSR, Inc), p. 54. ISBN 1-56076-126-1.
  26. 26.0 26.1 Ed Greenwood (1991). Anauroch. (TSR, Inc), p. 55. ISBN 1-56076-126-1.
  27. Ed Greenwood (1991). Anauroch. (TSR, Inc), p. 56. ISBN 1-56076-126-1.
  28. Ed Greenwood (1991). Anauroch. (TSR, Inc), p. 57. ISBN 1-56076-126-1.
  29. 29.0 29.1 29.2 Ed Greenwood (1991). Anauroch. (TSR, Inc), p. 58. ISBN 1-56076-126-1.