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Come one, come all, here to the Vast. All the killing's happening here, and the next handful of dooms to befall us all are a-hatching here—why wait for them to crawl to you? Come to the Vast, and join the slaughter.
  — Guldaeth Grimshield of Highbank Forest

The Vast was a region in north Faerûn that rested along the north coast of the Sea of Fallen Stars, bounded by the Dragon Reach and River Lis in the west; the Earthspur Mountains, the Gray Forest, and Impiltur in the east; and the Moonsea and Damara in the north. It lay on both sides of the Earthfast Mountains that ran through it. Over its long history, it was home to the orc nation of Vastar for which it was named; the ancient elf city of Ylraphon, an outpost of Cormanthyr; the brief dwarf kingdom of Roldilar, the Realm of Glimmering Swords; and a variety of human city-states—historic Procampur and Tsurlagol, and the newcomers Calaunt, Tantras, and Ravens Bluff, the Living City—some of which gathered into the nation of Vesperin.[5][6][7][1]

Environment & GeographyEdit

The Vast was a land of great open spaces, sparsely settled but far from empty.[5][8] Once, it was covered in dense forests, but the orcs of Vastar cut these down, leaving only grasslands and isolated woods.[1]

This left a green and temperate realm of hunting grounds and rolling farmlands, their fields used to grow all kinds of crops that suited the climate or for the grazing of herds. The farms and fields were separated by low fieldstone walls, which were often cultivated as wild hedges where they faced the roads. Amongst these farms were small woodlots and copses, which grew from scrublands left behind by the great old forests of the past.[8][1]

Beyond the farmland were real forests, though mostly these were second-growth forests from surviving saplings. Druids cultivated these forests, and encouraged woodland creatures and fey to move in from other forests further away.[8] The great forests of the Vast were Adhe Wood, Brynwood, and the Gray Forest, which was called the "Tsurlar Forest" in the Vast.[7]

The Vast held four great rivers: the Fire River, the River Vesper, the River Lis, and the River Dalton. They emptied into the bay of the Dragon Reach,[5] while the Lis and Dalton ran from the Moonsea to the Reach, the latter via the Flooded Forest, a swamp that was once part of Cormanthor.[9][10] There were many small streams and brooks, but they rarely joined the major rivers of the Fire River and the River Vesper. More often, they ended in pools and drained away into subterranean channels and finally emptied into the Inner Sea. Some even rose to the surface again, only to disappear once more. Thus the water table was described as a crazy jigsaw.[8][1]

This was due to the geology of the Vast, consisting of slanting and broken layers of rock deep beneath the soil. These left a quite a number of small-sized caves, rifts and sinkholes, that could be well concealed in apparently empty fields. Such places were a favorite spot for children to hide, for farmers to conceal their savings, or for some to build privies over.[8][1]

There were also rocky outcrops marking where the foothills met the great mountain ranges of the Vast.[8] The western shoreline of the Vast by the Dragon Reach was also high and stony, with many rocky reefs and few ports. Where the Earthfast Mountains and the Earthspur Mountains met the sea were sheer cliffs that only the most skilled climbers could ascend.[11] The southern coast against the Inner Sea was called the Tsurlagan coast.[12] In the north, Mount Wolf marked the border of the Vast in the north.[13]

On the east, the High Country was a large area of rocky moors and grassy plains and hills. It jutted east into a gap in the Earthspur Mountains. Rumors told of hidden passes through the mountains into neighboring Impiltur.[6][13] Protected from human settlement and farming, the High Country was a fertile breeding area for game animals.[14]

ClimateEdit

As with the other lands that surrounded it, the Sea of Fallen Stars produced rainfall and moderate temperatures in the Vast, warming it in winter and keeping it moist and green. Thus the Vast experienced a mild climate all year, with its summers long and cool, and its winters short and clement, though the Dragon Reach could ice over.[1][15]

FaunaEdit

Animals commonly found in the forests and mountainsides were boar, deer and black-masked bears. These were a favorite of local hunters and local inns.[8][1] There was supposedly a kind of rabbit living in the Brynwood that was capable of whistling like a canary.[16]

Geographical featuresEdit

Fang in the Forest

The Fang in the Forest in the Earthfast Mountains.

Forests
Adhe WoodBrynwoodGray Forest (Tsurlar Forest)
Mountains
Earthfast MountainsEarthspur MountainsIron Dragon MountainTroll Mountains
Rivers
Fire RiverRiver Vesper
Other locations
Beluar's HuntDragon FallsElvenblood PassFlooded ForestGlorming PassHigh CountryThree Trees PassViperstongue Ford

LocationsEdit

—aren’t exactly stable and easy-going places to dwell, now, are they?
  — Elminster of Shadowdale, on the cities of the Vast.[6]

In its history, the Vast was home to several large cities, each thriving ports. Some were incredibly old and well established, such as the fallen elven city of Ylraphon, the enduring dwarven city of Earthfast, and the human cities of Procampur and Tsurlagol, among the first settled by humans in the Heartlands. Others were veritable newcomers, such as the brief dwarven city of Sarbreen, and the later human cities of Calaunt, Tantras, and Ravens Bluff.[5][6][1]

Ylraphon

A moonlit night in Ylraphon.

Cities
CalauntEarthfastProcampurRavens BluffSarbreenTantrasTsurlagol
Towns
HlintarKing's ReachKurthMaerstarMossbridgesThindilarYlraphon
Villages and hamlets
BambrynBlanaerDark HollowDead Tree HollowDragon FallsFallentreeHighbank ForestHigh HaspurMaskyr's EyeOrlimminSarbreenarSendrinSevenechoSwords PoolTavilar
Roads and trails
Blaern's TrailCoast RoadCross RoadFeldar's TrailHelve's TrailHigh TrailHlintar RideHunt TrailLong ReachNorth RoadPass TrailStormcrest TrailTantras Trail
Sites
Arch of GoolgogMage's TowerMoonlit TowerMaster's Library

DemographicsEdit

The peoples of the Vast were diverse and mixed. It was once home to orcs, goblinoids, and dwarves, and later settled by a variety of human immigrants.[17] Represented were: Chondathan and Damaran humans; shield dwarves; elves and even avariels; halflings; gnomes; orcs, half-orcs, and gray orcs; and goblins, hobgoblins, and bugbears.[1][18][3][19][20][3]

As of 1372 DR, the Vast was home to 1,308,960 people: 78% human, 9% dwarf, 5% halfling, 3% elf, 2% gnome, 1% half-elf and 1% half-orc.[1] Of the human population, 63% were Damaran, 33% were Chondathan, and 3% were Vaasan.[21]

The human population was a blend of Damaran and Chondathan immigrants, predominantly Damaran. However, those Damarans who lived south of the Earthfast Mountains mostly resembled their Chondathan neighbors.[22] They were of the same heritage as the Cormyreans, Dalesman, and Sembians, whom they considered kin.[5]

Etymology & LanguagesEdit

The true source of the name "the Vast" was lost to history, but most sages thought it derived from "Vastar", the name of the ancient orc kingdom that once dominated the land.[6][1]

The people of the Vast spoke the Easting language, with both Procampan and Tantran dialects,[2] which was related to the Damaran language.[3][23]

GovernmentsEdit

There was no overall government or leader in the Vast, and no capital city. Instead, it was divided up by a number of city-states and feudal holdings. The cities were mostly governed by councils made up of landowners and wealthy merchants, or dominated by ex-adventurers.[5][1] These city-states were independent, and stayed that way by varying degrees of diplomacy, tolerance of their neighbors, and military power.[11][24]

Eventually, however, the formerly independent city-states of Calaunt, Ravens Bluff, and Tantras united in the nation of Vesperin, a young country by 1479 DR. Its capital was at Tantras, and it was ruled by the Golden Lords there, but gold was more influential than government. Vesperin remained neutral with regard to international politics, becoming a meeting place for agents of other powers and thick with intrigue.[25] [note 1]

Business & EconomyEdit

The peoples of the Vast produced and exported metals of copper, iron, nickel and silver, farm produce like grain and livestock, and parchment and textiles.[1] The Vast also imported much grain from Thay, so much so it was practically fed by Thay.[4]

Many travelers declared that the finest inns in the Vast were not those in the cities or in the Vast itself, but on the roads linking to the Vast to the outside. The best was said to be The Wizard's Hand in Maskyr's Eye, followed by The Worried Wyvern in Sevenecho and The Elf in Armor in High Haspur. These were among the best in Faerûn.[13]

By 1479 DR, with the decline of Impiltur and Sembia, the nation of Vesperin in the Vast had become a center for trade in the region. However, it was also rife with corruption and crime.[25]

PeopleEdit

VastRogue

A typical rogue of the Vast.

The humans of the Vast, by culture and custom, were more or less similar to those of Cormyr, Sembia, the Dalelands, with all of whom they shared a common heritage, and even those of faraway Waterdeep. Thus they considered themselves more closely related and to have more in common with their neighbors west across the Dragon Reach than those of the east over the Earthspur Mountains.[5] Though largely of Damaran roots, the culture of the Vast had less of a lawful bent and more closely followed Chondathan ways.[26]

By and large, they were characterized as adventurers, explorers, and pioneers, known for a spirit of adventure, daring and opportunity for growth and advancement, more so than anywhere else in Faerûn.[5][27][1] They were an honest and optimistic people. Here it seemed that all the monsters and enemies of the Moonsea and other neighboring lands were more easily defeated, while the heroes won out more often.[5]

Nevertheless, the people of the Vast remained diverse and wide-ranging, with the cities of Calaunt, Procampur, Ravens Bluff, Tantras, and Tsurlagol all quite different, from each other and from the rural communities.[5]

They usually preferred to keep to themselves, satisfied with their own homes and lives. Each person considered themselves as one with the land they lived on and were loyal first and foremost to their local community.[8][1] Country folk in particular just wanted to get the job done without hassle, and so they viewed cities as dangerous or dodgy or both. Procampur was thought to be dominated by status and age. Tantras was considered "god-ridden", suspicious and unfriendly. Calaunt was said to be evil, full of thieves and ruled by arrogant fools; people who acted arrogant and foolish were labeled "Calaunt-heads" or told to "go back to Calaunt". Ravens Bluff seemed to be both, full of religion and thieves, and colorful, dangerous and chaotic too.[5][8]

Their neighbors in Sembia, Cormyr, and the Dalelands were generally viewed with compassion by both country and city folk alike, both as allies and as business partners. King Azoun IV was highly regarded for his efforts during the Horde Wars. Opinions were much lower of the Moonsea lands, said to be home to misers, cheats and spies; Mulmaster in particular was the great evil in the north, as disliked and feared as Zhentil Keep was to Shadowdale. Across the Inner Sea, the Dragon Coast cities were considered lawless and the origin of the pirates that raided the Vast.[5]

Regardless, they liked to hear a bard tell news about realms outside their own, mainly for its entertainment value. They also loved to hear a ballad, whether a new or an old, oft-told one. Folk all over the the Vast made bards and minstrels welcome, treating them as honored guests and new friends. For their entertainment, they were well paid and well fed. Many who toured Cormyr, the Dalelands, Sembia, and the Vast preferred the last for these reasons.[8][1]

AdventurersEdit

VastWizard

A typical wizard of the Vast.

Adventurers were similarly welcome, for they brought gold, magic, and tales from their travels.[5] The Vast was famously a place where adventurers could earn a reputation or make something of themselves.[5][24] Tales told of poor guards becoming heroes and going on to become town council members, or of starving beggars striking it rich discovering buried treasure and becoming wealthy and respectable. Some cities of the Vast were even ruled by adventurers. No person suffered from a past reputation provided they made an effort to improve themselves. All that was needed was gold and great achievements.[5][27][17] The country folk, however, tended to be more reserved towards adventurers that trekked through their fields and risked causing trouble.[5]

Such adventurers were often folk who were quick to act and a little pushy,[28] and who often won through by pluck, determination, or dumb luck.[28] A fair number came from wealthy merchant families.[29] Adventurers tended to vary by their home city and trade, but in general shared some broad characteristics.

In keeping with the general Vast attitude, adventuring warriors of the Vast tended to be optimistic and enthusiastic, undeterred by tales of adventurers meeting sorry ends. They were daring, willing to stand up to any challenge. Many youngsters of the Vast were drawn to this kind of life. However, little distinguished them visually from adventuring warriors Faerûn-over. These warriors preferred reliable, practical, and oft-used armor and weaponry, with simple clothing and heavy cape or cloak, and a little jewelry and other decoration.[17] Spiked banded mail was a common choice of armor.[3]

Wizards of the Vast were described as grand, charismatic and even glamorous people. Whether in success or in disaster, they always planned ahead to gain or regain wealth and status. They preferred comfortable clothing that was both practical when adventuring and suitable for a visit to a palace. They did enjoy jewelry and similar accessories, but no more than was tasteful.[30]

The Vast's rogues, thieves, and scoundrels, meanwhile, were eager and willing to do anything, and almost recklessly brave—an attitude that as often as not got them into danger as well as out. They were high-spirited and good-humored even in the face of doom, and were described as masters of graveyard humor. They often dressed in dandy clothing to stand out, with flowing capes, feathered caps, fancy frills, and a range of bright colors, though they eschewed apparel that was too encumbering or weakened their defenses.[30]

The Sublime Way found one of its greatest homes in western Faerûn in the Vast, where the traditions of blade magic remained strong. The White Raven discipline was created in the Vast and the great Reshar learned it there. The discipline of the Devoted Spirit was called "Ancestral Sword" in the Vast, in respect to the great blade magicians of old. Many wandering warriors in the Vast practiced blade magic, with a few dedicated Masters of Nine. Sword temples were found in the cities of Procampur, Ravens Bluff, and Tantras, each with crusader orders, such as the Trueblades and the Knights of the White Raven.[31]

Customs & CultureEdit

For the dangers of the wilderness, the people of the Vast commonly went armed, especially outside the cities and in the rural areas. Such weapons were simple and practical, however, usually a knife, sling, or staff. As soon as a child was allowed away from their parents, they could have a sling or a knife in their belt.[8][1]

For the country folk, hunting was a way of life[1] and game was plentiful. Most hunts were carried out in the woodlands, on foot by a few archers or a handful of people equipped with clubs, daggers, and spears; the former method, though it took more skill, left the prey in better shape. On hills and wooded mountainsides, hunts were conducted by large bands with better weapons, lest the hunters find themselves the prey of orcs, bandits, or monsters. In wildernesses plagued by monsters, this form of hunting was the norm.[8]

Favorite prey animals were boar, deer, and even bear, and these were roasted and served in many inns. The Vast was famous for its roast stag, with succulent, high-quality meat of great size. A local tradition was to serve the roast stag on several large platters, including the entire rack of antlers on the first tray, accompanying the finest cuts and sweetmeats.[8]

BoneDance

The Bone Dance was an event for young and old.

There were a few local festivals unique to the Vast, celebrated across the land but with more enthusiasm in the countryside communities than in the big cities. These were:

ReligionEdit

The people of the Vast tolerated a wide number of faiths, and all of the most popular human faiths were represented there. The most important were those of Chauntea, Eldath and Torm,[8] followed by Mystra, Tempus, Tymora, Umberlee, and Waukeen.[1][3] Tymora, Tempus and Waukeen were known as the "traveler's gods" and they had shrines across the land. Other gods also had shrines across the Vast, along with a few temples, mainly in the big cities. Waukeen's temples declined following her disappearance in 1358 DR, but were expected to quickly recover when she returned in 1370 DR.[8]

Dwarves of the Vast commonly followed Clangeddin Silverbeard.[1] The fallen dwarven realm of Roldilar left behind a number of boulders along the North Road, each carved with the symbol of Clangeddin. Many human warriors of the Vast honored both Tempus and Clangeddin before going into battle in the mountains.[8]

The cities of the Vast, especially Ravens Bluff, were centers of worship for halfling followers of Brandobaris.[32]

AdventuresEdit

Treasure? Aye, lots of it in the Vast, lad; why didn't ye ask earlier? Oh… I see; ye wanted to live a while, first.
  — Buirin Thalshond of Tantras, 1357 DR

Though some of its cities were extremely old and standing on the first settled lands in modern times, much of the Vast in the mid–14th century had only been taken from the native orcs within the last few generations and was just beginning to be settled and civilized. Thus in many places it remained wild, lawless, and unexplored, and so for professional adventurers it was a hotspot for adventure.[27][17][5]

The land was once ruled by orcs and goblins, in the nation of Vastar, but they were steadily pushed out of power by the dwarves and humans. By the mid–14th century, great numbers of them still inhabited the mountains, unexplored caves, and distant corners of the land. They were confined in such places, but not defeated. Orcs and dwarves still warred for control of the mountains. Although rare, orcish raiders in the lowlands were dangerous enough and common enough, especially in the winter months, to force human settlers to stick to the coasts. However, barring catastrophes, they were unlikely to dislodge human rule from the Vast.[27][5][6][1]

There were several common lures for adventurers from all around the Realms, such as the intrigues and disputes between rival factions, or the number of dwarven ruins and their rumored treasure vaults.[1] Tales of treasure were everywhere in the Vast, small and large, old and new, safe and dangerous. Even young, powerful and wicked mages from lands like Thay and elsewhere journeyed to the Vast for inscrutable persons, perhaps seeking treasure, old magic, or to meet with dark forces.[33] The Vast acquired a reputation as a place where some secrets were better off left undisturbed, where some things were best left buried in the mountains and deep caves.[1]

Beware—there are beasts and secrets sleeping in those mountains that had best be awakened only by someone with a ready blade and fast spells, if they would live to boast of it…
  — Elminster of Shadowdale[33]

HistoryEdit

Ancient historyEdit

In ancient times, agents of the Elven Court of Cormanthor made contact with the dwarves of Sarphil in the lands later known as the Vast. Desiring to maintain control over the forests there, the Elven Court warred against the dwarves to stop them expanding to the surface. But after the elves saved the dwarves from being defeated by orcs, the two sides negotiated on the Vast's battlefields around −6400 DR. They made a tenuous alliance, but it lasted 2000 years, and each prospered from trade of goods and information.[34][35]

Some time after −5005 DR, Jhaamdath began expanding over the Inner Sea and settled colonies in the Vast, among other lands. These brought trade goods and prestige to the empire.[36]

Elves from Cormanthor went beyond the River Lis to found Yrlaphon in the northern Vast in −1535 DR.[37][38][39] After drow raiders weakened its defenses in the winter of −722 DR, Yrlaphon fell to orc hordes in the summer.[40][38][41]

The ancient minotaur kingdom of Grong-Haap (−981 to −350 DR) once encroached upon the northern highlands of the Vast.[42]

Vastar and the Jhaamdathan colonizationEdit

ElvenbloodPass

Vastar's orcs descending upon the forces of Westgate.

The orc kingdom of Vastar rose circa −700 DR.[40][43][41] It was in place across the land in −626 DR.[44] The history of Vastar was a turbulent one, with frequent coups, bloody civil wars, constant strife, and regular attacks and counter-attacks against their neighbors and other creatures who lived in their land. Every dozen years, a horde would form in the summer, steal or build ships, and sail south over the Inner Sea to raid. Their survivors rarely returned, instead spreading south. For their shipbuilding efforts, the orcs cut down the great forests of the land. When they ran out of timber, they went over the Dragon Reach and over the River Lis to take what they wanted from Cormanthor, but were more often slaughtered by the elves.[8][5] They made several such invasions by sea and land.[1]

During the reign of King Glaurath the Great of Westgate (−301−291 DR),[45] thieves stole the royal treasury of Westgate and fled by ship to the Vast. They anchored at the spot where the city of Procampur would later lie, and went up into the Earthfast Mountains, pursued by Westgate's forces, until both sides were annihilated by a thousand local orcs in a mountain pass.[46]

On the southern side of the Inner Sea, the empire of Jhaamdath fell beneath a great wave in the Year of Furious Waves, −255 DR. A wave of refugees—later known as the Chondathan people—crossed the Inner Sea to colonize the lands of Impiltur, Thesk and the Vast south of the Earthfast Mountains, becoming among the first lands on the north coast to be settled by humans. After occupying these lands, circa −200 DR, their descendants migrated westward from Impiltur and the Vast to cross the Dragon Reach and settle Sembia, Cormyr and the Dalelands, in time giving rise to those realms.[5][47][48][49][50][51]

Dwarves from Earthfast founded the underground town of Proeskampalar in the Year of the Starry Shroud, −153 DR.[1][52] That same year, it was joined by descendants of the Jhaamdathan refugees, who also settled there. It later became known as Procampur.[22][50][52] More founded the city of Chessagol, later known as Tsurlagol, in the Year of Enchanted Hearts, −72 DR.[22]

When humans first dominated the Vast, Sendrin was settled in the remote Vast, along with a temple to Savras. With Savras then commonly seen as a wise user of magic rather than just a diviner, Sendrin became a mecca for wizards, despite its remoteness. However, when Azuth defeated Savras and supplanted him as god of magic before or after the Dawn Cataclysm, Azuth's followers sacked and destroyed the Savran temple of Sendrin. The wizards stopped coming, and those who'd serviced them—scribes, component sellers, tailors, healers, escorts—gradually left. The community they'd made went mobile, becoming the travelling Magefair.[53] [note 2]

In the Year of Cold Clashes, 331 DR, the orcs of Vastar launched a surprise attack on Cormanthyr, and occupied a portion of the lands east of the Old Elven Court. They solidified their forces in the area over the next few years. It wasn't until the Year of the Vanished Foe, 339 DR, that the occupying orcs were routed by combined elvish and human forces.[54][55][56]

In the early 5th century DR, King Meldath I of Impiltur led a conquest of the Vast and other nearby lands, turning Proeskampalar and Chessagol into vassal city-states.[57] [note 3]

In the Year of the Wyvernfall, 512 DR, Vastar was on the rampage again, with orc hordes from here and other strongholds emerging and threatening Cormanthyr and many other lands with war.[58][59] The orc chieftain Ulbror marched his horde through many small passes in the Earthspur Mountains and invaded Impiltur. The orcs slew King Sharaun Mirandor, his three heirs and their army, killing off the Mirandor dynasty. Ulbror and the orcs were defeated later that year in the Battle of Bloody Reeds.[60]

Ologh the Overking of Vastar was killed by the black dragon Iyrauroth in the Year of Writhing Darkness, 572 DR, leaving his throne at the Hollow Mountain vacant. Vastar descended into civil war as orcish factions battled for control across the land.[61][6] Meanwhile, underground, dwarves from the north and east expanded their mines into the mountains of Vastar, making silent war upon the orcs.[6] After eight bloody years, the orc Grimmerfang won the civil war and seized the Hollow Mountain—now called Mount Grimmerfang—in the Year of the Loose Coins, 580 DR, ending warfare amongst the orcs of Vastar, at least for a short time.[6][61] However, the dwarves continued to encroach from the west, spreading underground and applying increasing pressure on the orcs. Vastar also suffered repeated defeats to the elves.[1] Working with humans and elves, the dwarves developed orcslayer blades and then surged out of the mountains to slaughter the orcs and defeat Grimmerfang. Vastar fell in the Year of the Spellfire, 610 DR, while the survivors were driven north and south into the mountain peaks.[62][5][6][1][59][63]

Roldilar, the Realm of Glimmering SwordsEdit

The victorious dwarves claimed the surface lands for themselves and that same year they founded Roldilar, the Realm of Glimmering Swords, under Deep King Tuir Stonebeard, who ruled from Mount Grimmerfang.[62][5][6][1][59][63] They began construction of a secure trading center, Sarbreen, around the Year of the Normiir, 611 DR.[64] The Roldilarren dwarves set to work trading with other nations and developing their new land, by building stone towers and importing livestock.[6] Their logging industry cleared forests for miles and they attempted large-scale agriculture.[64]

Tuir and Maskyr

Maskyr paid a high price for his vale.

Roldilarren dwarves ruled the Vast while the orcs and goblinoids were driven out and subdued, but others soon immigrated to the developing land.[6] Gnomes and halflings seeking opportunity joined the dwarves in their farming efforts.[64] At that time, humans were few in number north of the Sea of Fallen Stars, but a few bold and cautious folk came to explore and settle.[65][6] In the Year of the Costly Gift, 645 DR, the human archmage Maskyr paid his right eye to King Tuir for the vale called Maskyr's Eye. Others followed, and this marked the beginning of permanent human settlement in the Vast beyond the southern coast.[65][6][66][62] Their arrival prompted King Tuir to declare that humans would be allowed to come only so far into the mountains and no further, at a point marked by the town of King's Reach.[65][67] Ironically, in some parts, humans and elves lived in the mountains alongside orcs and worse neighbors, as the dwarves controlled the lowlands. There they built their tombs and strongholds.[68]

Among these settlers, two Sembian merchants explored the dwarven-held lands, seeking a trade-route from the dwarven mines down to the River Vesper.[13] To that end, the North Road was laid through Three Trees Pass, linking Kurth and King's Reach. Humans waged costly battles against the orcs of the mountains to control the pass, but were successful.[69]

Roldilar enjoyed only forty years of peace before its power waned. In that time, the orcs had replenished their numbers and recovered their strength. Above and below ground, vast hordes of orcs engulfed Roldilar in the the Year of the Bloody Crown, 649 DR.[5][6][1] Drow also struck from the subterranean ways.[64] Deep King Tuir led the dwarven armies against those of the orcs and goblins, but they were defeated at Viperstongue Ford over the River Vesper. Roldilar's defenses were broken, and the dwarves retreated to Mount Grimmerfang.[70][6] After the Battle of Deepfires beneath the mountain, Roldilar fell in 649 DR.[70][6][59][71]

The Roldilarren dwarves, however, were saved from total extinction by their human and elven allies.[5] The elven warrior Beluar and his forces won a great victory against the orcs, routing them at Viperstongue Ford.[65][70][72] This delayed the end of Roldilar.[70]

Dwarven refugees of Roldilar retreated, many going to other lands. Roldilar was the last dwarven realm to claim the surface lands of the Vast or dominate there, as of 1370 DR.[5][6]

The Time of Glorious FoolsEdit

The humans settlers, however, stayed to fight the orcs and hold onto the land they now called home.[71] Others moved quickly to exploit the power vacuum.[5][6] The Impilturan royalty had a long-standing policy of encouraging its lesser nobles—those not set to inherit any land—to settle new lands beyond their borders. Before the year 649 DR was out, these Impilturan nobles led a wave of immigration west into the Vast.[73] Many more, however, left overcrowding in the Vilhon Reach to cross the Inner Sea and settle the Vast south of the Fire River. Here, they made a foothold from which they could expand, growing populous with high immigration and birthrates. They quickly absorbed the former, settled inhabitants, the dwarves, gnomes, and halflings.[6][1]

They advanced swiftly over the Vast, finding a war-torn land where orcs ruled, and trolls, leucrotta, and other creatures had left the mountains and flourished by preying upon dead and dying dwarves and orcs. They fought them frequently, and steadily pushed them all out of the lowlands and into the hills and mountains once more. Many adventurers rose out of these conflicts, folk who sought impossible odds and made desperate assaults, and miraculously won as often as they were slaughtered.[6][1] Thus local bards named this "the Time of Glorious Fools", a period that some said continued well on into the 14th century.[5][6]

The most successful adventurers were those who won both gold and fame for their great deeds.[5] Such adventuring bands set themselves up in keeps, with mounted warriors, minor battle-mages, and priests of Helm or Tempus, and promised to protect local farmers from raids in exchange for a "shield tax", though they were often too late to help.[6]

As they expanded, the human settlers cleared land for their farms, erected low fieldstone walls to divide their fields, and built good roads. These eventually linked Procampur and Tsurlagol on the Inner Sea to Mulmaster by the Moonsea. Farmers then enjoyed bountiful harvests for several years. The settlers went on to open up the more accessible mines, and grew more prosperous. Seeking agricultural produce, trading vessels came from Aglarond, Impiltur, Sembia, and Westgate, and they sold goods like quality cloth and ironwork, locks, and weapons. The harbors of the Vast, Calaunt, Sarbreen, and Tantras—once landing spots for immigrants and rest stops for pirates—were developed as trade ports. This all cemented human habitation of the Vast.[6] As they settled the coastline, the ruins of Sarbreen remained dangerous but the Fire River was useful as a waterway into the interior. Local farmers and merchants gathered instead at the Fire River Bridge, later the settlement of Mossbridges.[74]

Thus, there were two paths to lordship for the folk of the Vast. On the one hand were big farmers who'd earned their fortunes, bought up surrounding land and their fellows, and called themselves lords and ladies. On the other were retired adventurers who'd won wealth and power, built strongholds and gathered their own followers, and could call themselves what they liked. Some of the farmer lords were themselves retired adventurers, while others were deposed by adventurers looking to retire.[6]

Ravens Bluff was established as a city over the remains of Sarbreen, in the Year of the Horn, 1222 DR.[1][74]

The mid–13th century saw the Vast once again suffer rampaging hordes of orcs, goblins, hobgoblins, and bugbears, supplemented by some human brigands and half-breed rogues. In the Year of Burning Steel, 1246 DR, the orc warlord Fottergrim and the magelord Archlis led a mixed horde of them in an invasion and take-over of Tsurlagol. Procampur sent an army to besiege and liberate the city. Fottergrim and Archlis were slain, Procampur's armies were victorious, and Tsurlagol was liberated. Fottergrim's silver-plated skull was mounted on a pillar halfway between the two cities with a warning against threatening Procampur's allies.[75] [note 4]

In the mid-13th century (i.e., over a century before the 1360s DR), a hobgoblin horde marched near Procampur. It was defeated with the aid of the mage Snilloc, who earned some fame for his actions here.[76]

Also sometime around the mid–13th century DR, the forests in the northern Vast began sinking into swampland, becoming the Flooded Forest.[9][77]

In the Year of Beckoning Death, 1253 DR, plague struck the Vast, as well Cormyr and Sembia.[47]

The terrifying red dragon Halarglautha Firewings had rampaged across the lands of the Vast south of the River Vesper, particularly along the Fire River. The flaming destruction she inflicted on dwarf, human, and orc settlements here apparently gave the Fire River its name. Her reign of terror ended when she was slain by a band of human adventurers in the late 13th century.[78][46] [note 5]

By 1294 DR, much of the Vast was again wilderness, lawless, and plagued by monsters. The Magister of the time, Inhil "Hurler-of-Stars" Lauthdryn, went into the Vast wilderness to find, defeat, and bring to justice rogue archmages of Calaunt and Ravens Bluff. Inhil's remains were later found, slain but apparently successful in his quest.[79][80]

Modern HistoryEdit

In the Year of the Wandering Wyrm, 1317 DR, the Plague of Dragons quickly spread around the Inner Sea from the Vilhon Reach to Impiltur and Tsurlagol. The priests of Procampur feared that their city would be the next to suffer the diseases and the dragon that spread them.[81]

The Time of TroublesEdit

During the Time of Troubles, in the Year of Shadows, 1358 DR,[82] skeletons rose from their graves to take over the town of Hlintar. Refugees from Hlintar and other chaos-stricken areas fled to Calaunt, Ravens Bluff, and Tantras.[83]

The god Torm the True manifested in the city of Tantras and took up residence there, while his faithful persecuted those of other gods. Torm eventually discovered their crimes and punished them for it. Then the god Bane the Black Lord arrived to take one of Tablets of Fate, which he'd hidden in the city. In a titanic battle in the harbor, Torm fought Bane, and absorbed the souls of thousands of his willing faithful there to strengthen himself. In the end, both gods slew one another, and left parts of the city destroyed, depopulated, and in a massive dead-magic zone.[84] Torm did not take the children of the faithful, however, leaving a generation of orphans known as the Martyr's Progeny.[85][86]

The god Talos the Destroyer visited Tsurlagol, and was there at the conclusion of the crisis on the 15th Marpenoth.[87]

Calaunt suffered great strife of its own, producing its own displaced peoples. Looting mobs of refugees from Calaunt, together with those from Tantras and Mulmaster, wandered the Vast. Meanwhile, in the southern Vast, many wealthy merchants of Procampur and Tsurlagol fled to their country houses in the town of Maerstar. However, they were harassed by the mobs, who'd also come through Maerstar, and some were killed.[88]

Recent HistoryEdit

HC-Hubadai

An Earthfast dwarf standing against Prince Hubadai of the Tuigan.

With the Horde Wars in east and northeastern Faerûn over 13591360 DR, a wave of refugees and immigrants fled west into Impiltur and the Vast and over the Inner Sea.[89] The Tuigan Horde was expected to overrun Thesk and Impiltur and then the Vast, before continuing east.[90] King Azoun IV of Cormyr called for a crusade against the Tuigan Horde in the Year of the Turret, 1360 DR. The dwarf city of Earthfast was the first to join and this helped sway other allies to the cause.[91][92] Tantras and Ravens Bluff sent envoys to Azoun's council on Tarsakh 10, and between them contributed 4,000 volunteer soldiers, as well as wizards, to the crusade.[92][91] Meanwhile, the nobles of Procampur, such as Duke Jozul Piniago, contributed to, and profiteered off, the crusade by selling supplies to the army.[93]

Although sahaugin raids increased all around the Inner Sea in the Year of the Gauntlet, 1369 DR, the ports of the Vast on the eastern Dragon Reach were inexplicably spared, leaving only the usual activity.[94]

One night in the Year of the Tankard, 1370 DR, pirates launched a surprise attack on the harbor of Ravens Bluff. Crippled by the assault, the city's navy was annihilated by subsequent setbacks. On that same night, in the backlands of the Vast, the Warlord Myrkyssa Jelan arose at the head of an army of orcs, ogres, giants, drow and human mercenaries, mages, and even demons. They marched against Ravens Bluff, demanded the city's surrender, then assaulted and lay siege to the city and surrounding estates, demolishing buildings and ruining the land. This war dragged on for half the year and Ravens Bluff came close to defeat.[95][1]

The Vast was among those lands covered by the Tyrantfog of 9–11 Mirtul of 1370 DR, stretching as far east as Tsurlagol. Under the fog, Cyric worshippers were afflicted with terrible diseases, while followers of Iyachtu Xvim were strengthened. Finally, items and beings filled with Bane's power were destroyed, and baneliches hidden in Tantras exploded. The Tyrantfog then burned away in green flame.[96][97]

In the summer of 1370 DR, the forces of Ravens Bluff rallied and confronted those of Myrkyssa Jelan, and her war ended in the six-day-long Battle of Fire River. By its end, Myrkyssa Jelan's army had been defeated, its combatants slain or routed, but the Warlord herself had escaped. Ravens Bluff survived, but with a quarter of its army killed or injured, its fleet gone, and no means of support, but the Ravenians pulled through and rebuilt.[95][1]

Later that year, Myrkyssa Jelan reappeared with another army, likely the remnants or reserves of her first, and this time marched on Tantras. She demanded the city's surrender, else she'd raze it to the ground. The Tantran High Council met with the Warlord, and they came to some agreement. The terms of this were unknown, but Jelan's army withdrew without attacking. Tantras had requested aid from Procampur and Ravens Bluff, but by the time this arrived, Jelan's army had faded into the mountains.[95][98]

Later in 1370 DR, Ravens Bluff proposed the formation of a regional government in the Vast. They started by taking neighboring settlements under its control, such as Mossbridges and New Hope, and thus turned Ravens Bluff into a city-state. Procampur remained neutral on the plan, preferring to wait-and-see, while Tantras strongly rejected the proposal. Local lords were unwilling to place themselves under civic authority, while others disliked being annexed, but merchants and many ordinary folk felt it would only improve prosperity of the Vast.[95]

Through 1370 DR, there was strange news of dark goings-on in the Vast. Some unknown being, organization, or power had paid regular visits to the tombs of powerful undead creatures—and cleaned them. Another had deposited horrifying deepspawn in several old ruins to dwell there. Though adventurers and local folk kept a lookout, these bizarre practices continued and remained unexplained. Furthermore, some adventurers had found and explored old tunnel networks once used by dwarves and orcs. They disturbed orcs and more dangerous creatures, which ventured out of the mountains to hunt adventurers themselves. These made the Vast a more dangerous land for heroes.[88] Strange monsters also began lurking in numbers around the Flooded Forest's southern marshes, including owlbears, stirges, and strange unknown creatures, threatening hunters from Ylraphon.[8]

By Midsummer of 1372 DR, rumors spread that a powerful mercenary commander in the Vast was gathering an army of hired soldiers and adventurers. Their plan was, apparently, to capture the town of Scardale over the Dragon Reach, which would be a valuable holding for any Vast city. It was unknown who was behind this venture; some thought merchants in Calaunt or Tantras.[1]

During the Dracorage of the Year of Rogue Dragons, 1373, on Hammer 23rd a flight of dragons destroyed Ylraphon.[99][100]

Post-SpellplagueEdit

A regional government was eventually formed in the Vast, as the formerly independent city-states of Calaunt, Ravens Bluff, and Tantras united in the nation of Vesperin. It was still a young nation by 1479 DR. Tantras was named its capital.[101][25] [note 6]

When the second Netheril took over Sembia around 1400 DR, many Sembian merchants migrated to Vesperin. The majority of them settled in Ravens Bluff, making it the largest city in the nation. The Netherese rulers eventually cracked down on Sembian migration, killing would-be refugees who tried to cross to the Vast. With Sembia dominated, Impiltur in decline, and the influx of migrants, Vesperin flourished as a neutral center of trade and intrigue.[25][102]

AppendixEdit

GalleryEdit

NotesEdit

  1. Only Calaunt, Ravens Bluff, and Tantras are mentioned as being a part of Vesperin in Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide, with the status of the other cities (Procampur and Tsurlagol), towns, and settlements in the Vast unknown. Therefore, it is uncertain to what extent Vesperin overlaps the Vast.
  2. The founding and decline of Sendrin is difficult to date. The City of Ravens Bluff page 155 states "When human rule had just come to the Vast". This could be after the Jhaamdathans settled Procampur and Tsurlagol in the second and first centuries before Dalereckoning. However, this would be deep in orc territory in the kingdom of Vastar, and the The City of Ravens Bluff never refers to this earlier founding time. Instead, it focuses on human settlement from the 7th century DR onward. As for Sendrin's decline, according to Faiths & Avatars page 47, Azuth defeated Savras sometime during or shortly after the Dawn Cataclysm, a difficult-to-date divine event. Finally, Secrets of the Magister places the first true Magefair in the 3rd century. This supports a much earlier date for Sendrin's rise and fall, between −153 DR (the settling of Procampur) and circa 253 DR (the date of the first Magefair). This agrees with estimates of the Dawn Cataclysm.
  3. "Impiltur: The Forgotten Kingdom" names this warrior king Meldath the Magnificent. However, The Grand History of the Realms lists only Meldath I "the Mighty" (411 DR445 DR) and Meldath II (445 DR448 DR). The name and details would suggest that this is in fact Meldath I. Both Proeskampalar/Procampur and Chessagol/Tsurlagol are later stated to be independent, but how they attained their freedom has not been detailed.
  4. The date of 1246 DR was not included in the novel Crypt of the Moaning Diamond due to editing error. It was mentioned by author Rosemary Jones, here.
  5. The duration of Halarglautha's rampage is unknown, and the date of her fall is estimated based on the number of generations of her slayers' descendants at the village of Dragon Falls.
  6. It is unknown exactly when the unification into Vesperin occurred between 1372 DR and 1479 DR.

Further readingEdit

ReferencesEdit

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  2. 2.0 2.1 Thomas M. Costa (1999). “Speaking in Tongues”. In Dave Gross ed. Dragon Annual #4 (TSR, Inc), pp. 26,28.
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