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D&D Burgoo (4.0): Remaking the Realms III: Transforming the North

The collapse of the famed Moonbridge marks the fall of the goddess Mystra — and woe befalls the High Lady of Silverymoon (as it does all the Seven Sisters) — as the unweaving of magic brings disaster and an onslaught of monsters to the outposts of civilization in the North.

Thus begins the Transformation of the North, the third in a series of posts describing how I’d remake the Forgotten Realms before the official Fourth Edition release of the campaign setting. 

Previous posts were suggestions for DMs on how to rework the Realms for the new edition of D&D on their own terms [1] and on fitting the DMG-provided homebase of Fallcrest [2] into the North by placing it along the River Rauvin downriver of the Moon Pass. 

This time we’ll explore locales in the region and events after the spellplague that will set the stage for future adventures.

Important Sites

Silverymoon: After the weave was undone and the Moonbridge fell into the Rauvin, so likewise did the magical wards around the city fail. The city was beset by ancient foes on all sides, as orcs and giants descended from their homes in the Nether Mountains, lycanthropes were no longer constrained to the Moonwoods and trolls poured forth from the Evermoors.  As the skill to weave magic faded, so too did Lady Alustriel from her position of leadership. The strong swords of the Silver Knights supplanted mages as the city’s champions, and it was they who repulsed the attacks on the city walls. Quickly, the Silver Knights were in command of the city, and political power was soon wielded by the chief members of the order. One family of knights have ruled the city in name and in fact for the last three generations. The city is now a fortress, and the military life is pre-eminent in the attitude and culture of the city’s society. Alustriel’s dream of Silverymoon being a center of artistic and magical learning disappeared along with her. 

Jalanthar: The hamlet of rangers and trappers was overrun by orcs and was never repopulated after the massacre. The caves and remains of huts and hunting lodges are all abandoned. Neighborning farms and villages have been established by the remnants of Jalanthar, but all goodly folk avoid the place, naming it haunted and a place of death. Every so often there will be rumors of bandits using the ruins as a base. In short order, the bandit problem seems to go away. 

Narrows Bridge: The entrance to the Moon Pass is guarded by a great stone bridge. The Silver Knights ordered its construction to protect tow-traffic through the pass and to serve as the first line of defense should a horde of monsters ever attack in force.. The stone bridge spans the Rauvin at a place called the narrows. Two great guard towers, built into the living rock, buttress the construction on the north and south shores. Rival barons are tasked with manning the opposing towers. During a common defense of the bridge, the senior baron commands. This is the farthest reach east of Silverymoon’s influence.

Plots and Rumors

The High King: The ambitious baron of Silverymoon is Crattius Arcarlomahn, who desires above all things to be named High King of the Silver Marches. As things stand, attaining that title seems unlikely, as it requires the support of a majority (or at least the strongest) of the barons. Short of gaining their loyalty by conquest, none of the barons to the north to the Spine of the World or west to the Sword Coast will swear fealty to him. Even if he could achieve that, the high priests of Waterdeep’s temples devoted to Deneir, Lathander and Oghma still would have to validate his claim. 

The Shadowed Mage: This mysterious figure — ever cloaked in a shroud of gray robes — first emerged during the rule of Arcolomahn’s father. The Shadowed Mage now advises Arcolomahn, but is seen only rarely, often whispering in the king’s ear during court. The true aims  and nature of this person have yet to be revealed.

Foclucan’s Revival: Arcarlomahn, who fancies himself a man of letters, desires that the legendary bardic college re-open. He had offered a stipend of 100 gold per month to any bard of moderate skill who wishes to devote three years toward re-establishing the Foclucan College. The offer has been extended as far south as to the bards of Waterdeep. So far, there have been no serious applicants. 

Rauvin’s Rearing Lions: The rivals occupying the Narrows Bridge fortresses are the forces of Baron Vilhelm duShay on the north and the Baronness Taleria d’Vinter on the south. DuShay is the senior baron and his crest is a rearing white lion on a field of black; d’Vinter’s is a rearing red lion on a field of white. DuShay openly supports Arcolomahn, but his support was gained when Silverymoon pledged to supply his men-at-arms with supplies and weapons for a period of five years. D’Vinter has mixed loyalties (it is whispered she has won the favor of a green dragon of The High Forest.) But she is popular with the leaders of most of the small communities along the river, from whom she buys supplies.

4 Comments (Open | Close)

4 Comments To "D&D Burgoo (4.0): Remaking the Realms III: Transforming the North"

#1 Comment By Scott Martin On August 4, 2008 @ 10:09 am

I like this– that’s just about exactly the amount of background information I’d want as a pitch or as a background document to read as a player when making my character. It’d be fun to make a party consciously loyal to the high king and his rivals. Friendship and putting their lives on the line for each other makes them stick together through anything, but some see only the good of the Arcarlomahn while others are always wondering at his ulterior motives.

#2 Comment By tman On August 4, 2008 @ 10:18 am

Interesting! As my last campaign was based in the Silver Marches, I’ve been reading along with interest.

A) Where is Alustriel now? Does anyone know?

B) Why would anyone in Waterdeep or any of the Sword Coast have anything to do with validating the ruler of the Silver Marches? They are far, far away. More likely the Dwarven Kings of Citadels Adbar & Felbarr along with Mithral Hall would be the power structure Arcarlomahn would have to sway. And the various little barons he hopes will support him would have little reason to do so if those three Dwarven Kings decline to do so.

#3 Comment By Kurt “Telas” Schneider On August 4, 2008 @ 3:25 pm

Yay!! Fighters actually DID SOMETHING in D&D!!!


#4 Comment By Troy E. Taylor On August 5, 2008 @ 3:17 am

Tman: Good questions.

Does anyone know where Alustriel is? Well, for my game, I do. But shhhhhh, it’s a secret I’m not willing to share, just right now. Sorry. 😉

Why require a Waterdeep authority and not the dwarves?
I thought about this part a lot actually, because my first impulse was to recognize the Dwarven strongholds as the conventional military power of the North. Two things made me shift gears.

1) I think a cataclysm of the scale of the spellplague would force the dwarves underground, literally. Certainly, the dwarves’ instinct would be isolationist, again. Let the humans solve their own problems, cuz dwarves have enough of their own. That sort of thing.

2) I wanted a human agency to recognize the right to rule. Being high king is a human thing, not an elfen or dwarven thing, but a human thing. And really, the only “being(s)” with the authority to crown a high king would be the god(s) themselves. So their agents, the high priests, would be the determining factor.

My model for this is history. As the 9th century dawned, the pope crowned Charlemagne protector of Rome, defender of the church and the emperor of the west. Now, in truth, whether the pope crowned Charlemagne or not, the FACT was that he was the only man in western Christendom whose rule was absolute, who could ensure the west could withstand attacks from Islamic and barbarian invaders and who was actually a Christian. The pope’s action didn’t change history. But it did LEGITIMATIZE everything Charlemagne did after that.

By the same token, in this fantasy world of the Realms, I wanted some human authority to play the same role, if only from dramatic reasons. (Maybe the adventures could take a turn towards Waterdeep for a time).

One thing I would disagree with you on, though, is the influence of Waterdeep on the North. I think it’s actually quite profound, both in the Realms fiction and from a reading of the supplements mentioning both. The North is well within Waterdeep’s orbit. Just as Rome called Charlemagne from Aix la Chapelle, so too will Waterdeep call the High King from Silverymoon when the time comes.

That said, I think you could make a strong argument for having the Dwarves play that role, and really, for any campaign, the might of the dwarves would have to be reckoned with. So, thanks for pointing that out, Tman.