of the Underdark and the Vast!
collector of bits of travel and geographical information, brings you further
details about the Underdark and the Vast areas. Rand provides these to
supplement the information found in the Forgotten Realms Campaign
City, 6,000): This strange dwarven city rests on an island in the
Underdark's Lake Thoroot. Zanhoriloch was originally built by drow,
who in the Year of the Last Hunt (722 DR) launched an attack on the
western dwarven city of Kanaglym through a portal. The dwarves
surprised the drow with the strength of their resistance and forced
the dark elves to retreat, following them back through the portal,
where the dwarves sacked the unprepared city and turned the lake red
with drow blood.
Stranded in an unknown
location by the closing portal, the dwarves settled in the city,
reworking its architecture to suit them and their faith. Though they
were slow to learn boating, the dwarves of Zanhoriloch (usually called
Mhorilot, meaning "dark surface," by its inhabitants) are
comfortable on the water and keep their city self-sufficient by fishing
and kelp farming. They have small mining expeditions on the near shore
and possess wealth of silver, gold, and iron. Having spent several centuries
avoiding the elves of Cormanthor, the dwarves recently emerged from
a small tunnel leading to Battledale, with whom they now trade weapons
and precious metals for grain, beef, and wood.
Much of the Underdark radiates a type of magical energy called faerzress
by the drow. This energy is often responsible for glowing rock formations
and is harnessed by the more astute inhabitants to enhance the magic
items they create, often supplanting conventional enchantment methods
in favor of the easier but more fragile creations possible with faerzress.
Faerzress also causes many creatures to mutate within a few generations,
explaining how land predators such as panthers, wolves, and lizards
can gain darkvision in such a short time, or how the short subterranean
cattle called rothé could adapt so quickly to the strange fungi and
often brackish water of their new habitat.
Sounds travel far
in the Underdark, as "echoes in the rock." Known trade routes,
the passages most likely to be mapped, are closely watched by predatory
creatures attuned to any sonic changes.
The Vast Locations
the oldest city in the Vast, Procampur has stood unconquered since it
was founded in 523 DR as a human city, built over an older dwarven delving.
It maintains a powerful army and navy, and it also a useful alliance
with the city of Tsurlagol. Unlike other cities of the Vast, Procampur's
citizens live under the rule of a hereditary overlord called the Thultyrl.
Life in Procampur is strictly regulated by a system of firm but not
terribly onerous laws. The city itself is divided into eight districts,
each walled off from the others and serving a different purpose. By
royal decree, each district sports a distinct color for all its roofs.
Adjoining the Castle
District on the north is the silver-roofed, luxurious Nobles District,
followed (as one goes west back to the harbor) by the yellow-roofed
Services District, home to all Procampan servants, handypeople, restaurants,
and taverns. West of that is the blue-roofed Sea District, home to sailors,
outfitters, and cargo-storage and shipping businesses. West of Sea District
is the harbor.
Moving inland along
the south side of the Great Way, one finds the gray-roofed District
of the Poor, where the Thultyrl owns all buildings. Most buildings here
are rooming houses. Long-term visitors may dwell here alongside beggars,
the unemployed, and the poorest city laborers. There's no stigma to
dwelling in "Graystreets." Next is the narrow, red-roofed
Adventurers' District, home to all who make their living by exploration
or other dangerous pursuits, and to businesses having to do with weapons
and their use. This gives way to the sea-green roofs of the Merchant
District, containing the homes and shops of all Procampan merchants
whose businesses aren't directly concerned with the sea or adventuring.
This, in turn, adjoins the Temple District, where all buildings have
shining black roofs.
A wide and slow river that flows from the Earthspur Mountains at Calaunt,
the Vesper has long been a major route for goods flowing out of the
Vast and for raiders sailing inland.
This devastated area outside the walls of Tantras was the sight of the
epic battle between the avatars of Torm and Bane. For years, the whole
area was a vast dead magic zone where no spell or item would function.
The "Zone," as it came to be called, became a haven for anyone
fearing attack or persecution at the hands of wizards or clerics. The
dead magic area began markedly shrinking around 1370 DR, probably due
to the efforts of the Tormites to repair the damage. Today, magic works
throughout the area (though rumors of small pockets of dead magic persist).
The area remains a wasteland of furrowed and blasted rock, with hints
of greenery here and there as nature heals the scars.
An arm of Earthspur Mountains named for the trolls who once stalked
their slopes and valleys, the Troll Mountains extend west along the
north bank of the River Vesper to the Sea of Fallen Stars along the
north bank of the River Vesper. The major passes here are Three Trees
Pass in the east and Viperstongue in the west.
After being sacked, the indomitable citizens simply salvaged what they
could after each disaster and rebuilt, counting on the strength of their
trade to set them back on their feet. Today, the denizens Tsurlagol
have a reputation for patience and the ability to take the long view.
Tsurlagol and Procampur have a long-standing mutual defense agreement
beneficial to both cities.
Plots and Rumors
Other Underdark communities fear that Cairnheim is preparing to expand
its already large domain beyond its current borders, at the subterranean
roots of the Giant's Run Mountains. With the size and speed of stone
giants, an expansion to the surface would mean the giants could easily
threaten Cormyr, the Dragon Coast, and parts of the Vilhon Reach.
Master of Dragons:
From time to time, as certain monks seek to be named Master of Dragons,
they engage in a deadly initiation: riding a remorhaz. Lone monks using
spurs and lassoes leap down onto the backs of passing worms and ride
them -- standing upright -- for at least a hundred yards. Other monks
may aid each rider in escaping a remorhaz after a riding attempt, but
no one helps in the initial pounce and ride itself. Many monks have
perished attempting this holy sport.