The Vilhon Reach: Chondath, Sespech, Turmish Dec 27, 2010 23:48:15 GMT -5
Post by ancientempathy on Dec 27, 2010 23:48:15 GMT -5
The Vilhon Reach
Population: 5,505,840 (humans 95%, dwarves 2%, elves 1%, lizardfolk 1%)
Government: Various kingdoms and independent city-states
Religions: Eldath, Helm, Lliira, Malar, Nobanion, Silvanus, Talos, Tempus, Tyr
Exports: Fish, horses, slaves, stone, wine
Alignments: N, LN, LG
This region shares its name with the body of water called the Vilhon Reach, a long southern arm of the Sea of Fallen Stars. The region encompasses much of the southern shore of the Sea of Fallen Stars, from the mouth of the Reach west and north to the mouth of the Wet River, and south to the Golden Plains. It is a fertile, rich land divided up into quarreling city-states and petty nations. For all its unrest, the Vilhon remains vital to the whole of Faerun: It forms the trade link between the Lake of Steam, the Shaar, and the rest of the world through its ports on the Sea of Fallen Stars.
With the subtropical and humid weather of the Vilhon Reach, winter temperatures rarely reach the freezing point, snowfalls are rare, and heavy winter rains are common. Spring arrives early, and summer comes hard on its heels with scorching temperatures and oppressive humidity. Autumn brings cooler weather and lower humidity, but an autumn day in the Vilhon can be as warm as high summer in more northerly regions.
The three important nations of the Reach are Chondath, Sespech, and Turmish. In addition, a large number of independent city-states and minor local authorities occupy the region.
Life and Society
Most sages recognize the Vilhon Reach as the cradle from which waves of humans spread forth to conquer and inhabit Faerun. Something of this adventuresome spirit is still present in the Reach; many of the locals leave their homeland to seek their fortunes as mercenaries. The folk of the Vilhon Reach tend to welcome visitors as bearers of news or potential trading partners.
Spellcasters are well advised to keep a low profile in the Reach, where mages have a reputation for capricious use of power. The folk of the Reach have no patience for displays of flashy magic, nor any tolerance for those who use their spells carelessly.
For such a civilized and sophisticated populace, the folk of the Vilhon Reach show a remarkable respect for nature. This is partly due to the history of the area, which is marked by plagues and volcanic eruptions, and partially due to the influence of the Emerald Enclave. This druidic organization, founded in 374 DR and headquartered on the island of Ilighon at the mouth of the Vilhon Reach, strives to hold human civilized development to a pace that nature can endure.
The geographical features and sites noted below include only those not within the territories of Chondath, Sespech, or Turmish.
Major Geographical Features
The Vilhon Reach itself is the dominant feature in the region, along with the surrounding islands and mountains. This deep arm of the Sea of Fallen Stars extends southwest from the Eyes of Silvanus to the Deepwing and Cloven Mountains. Its two major tributaries are the Nagaflow and Nun rivers.
Cloven Mountains: These mountains rise from the southern shore of the Deepwash. They earned their name from the broad gap where the Wintercloak River flows out of the Deepwash. Several tribes of goblinoid inhabit the wild and desolate range, but they spend most of their time fighting each other. A great catlike beast stalks the Cloven’s peaks and highest valleys, preying on unwary goblinoid and the occasional hunter foolish enough to come seeking it.
Deepwash: This freshwater lake is the largest in the Vilhon. Tributaries from the Cloven and Deepwing mountains fill it with clear, cold water. The Wintercloak River is its main outlet. The lake teems with fish and also harbors a massive dragon turtle that lairs near Surkh.
Eyes of Silvanus: This pair of islands guards the entry to the Vilhon Reach. The western island, Ilighon, is home to the Emerald Enclave organization. The eastern island, Wavecrest, is an uninhabited jungle teeming with wild animals and monsters.
The islands play havoc with ship’s compasses, forcing navigation by lead line and by eye. This magnetic anomaly appears to be entirely natural. Dangerous reefs surround both islands. The only safe passage between the islands is at the Strait of Silvanus, which passes between Ixinos and Wavecrest to the east and Ilighon to the west.
Shining Plains: This vast, dry grassland gets its name from the shimmering heat waves that rise from it most of the year. It holds the human cities of Assam, Lheshayl, and Ormath. It is also home to many tribes of centaurs and wemics, of which the Tenpaw wemic tribe is the best known. The territory’s total population is roughly 423,000 inhabitants.
Wetwoods: This extensive bog is often sheathed in mist and occasionally hosts bandits who harass the trade routes leading north from Assam. The mist also hides small villages of lizardfolk, halflings, and other humanoids, none of which wish to become involved in the affairs of the Vilhon.
These cities are presently independent, though that status is subject to change.
Assam (Small City, 6,513): Assam is the northernmost city on the Shining Plains, yet still several leagues south of the plains’ northern edge. It lies on the south bank of the Wet River, where the road from Ormath crosses over a wide ford. It is an open city in more ways than one: Assam has no walls, and it is ruled jointly by the city-states of Lheshayl and Ormath. Assam is a merchant’s town, dedicated to trade. Caravans, wagons, and herds of animals encircle the city like a waiting army.
Delegates from Lheshayl and Ormath make up the ruling council. The current mayor is Honlinar Tempest (LN male human Ftr7), a master politician who keeps things running smoothly. Honlinar serves at the pleasure of Lheshayl and Ormath, and he keeps his masters happy by dealing swiftly with any business interruptions.
Hlondeth (Metropolis, 45,360; total territory population 453,600): An independent walled city-state that commands the main road (the Holondar) west out of Turmish, Hlondeth also serves as a port conveniently located directly across from Arrabar, Chondath’s capital. Hlondeth is a stunning, ancient metropolis whose architecture is dominated by serpent designs and shiny green marble brought out of the Orsraun Mountains. This beautiful stone is the city’s most famous product, sold both carved into statues and in uncut blocks.
Hlondeth has been known as the City of Serpents since 527 DR. The city had been all but overrun by kobolds from the Orsraun Mountains. After a tenday, the defenders of Hlondeth faltered, and all seemed lost until a noble of the city, Shevron Extaminos, emerged from his walled residence at the head of a vast mass of snakes. Shevron’s counterattack broke the siege and sent the kobolds fleeing. Shevron was killed in the fighting and given a hero’s burial.
The Extaminos family has ruled Hlondeth ever since. Even mixing yuan-ti blood into the line did not shake the family’s power. Hlondeth is currently ruled by a yuan-ti halfblood, Dediana Extaminos (LE female halfblood yuan-ti Sor10). Dediana has a snake’s tail and no legs.
Dediana apparently rules with a light hand, for the city remains profitable and has good relationships with both Chondath and Turmish, though Hlondeth jealously guards its independence.
Lheshayl (Small City, 7,165): This westernmost city of the Shining Plains produces more and finer horses than Ormath and Assam put together. Lheshayl is ruled by Chief Entawanata (CN male human Ftr5), the latest of a long line of chiefs.
Nimpeth (Large City, 12,375; total territory population 25,700): Nimpeth is best known for its wine (its vineyards are among the best in Faerun), its mercenaries, and its slave trade. River traffic coming dwon the Nagaflow stops at Nimpeth before venturing out into the Sea of Fallen Stars or moving on to other cities of the Vilhon.
Ormath (Small City, 6,513): Of the three cities of the Shining Plains, Ormath is the one most likely to go to war over the slightest insult. The city keeps pace with the traffic on the Pikemen’s Folly (the road leading west from Hlondeth) and controls the junction between the Pikemen’s Folly and the road leading north. Ormath shares control of Assam with Lheshayl, and it would like nothing better than to have sole control. However, it is unlikely that Lheshayl would tolerate such a move.
The current ruler of Ormath is Lord Quwen (LN male human Ftr11), a mountain of a man and a true warrior at heart. He frequently leads patrols outside the city, keeping the roads clear of bandits. Lord Quwen has become concerned about reports of hostile lizardfolk in the Wetwoods.
Sapra (Large Town, 3,226): Located on the isle of Ilighon, Sapra has become a haven for beings who seek refuge from wizards. The druids of the Emerald Enclave granted the city a fixed amount of land and will not allow it to expand even an inch, so conditions are crowded. A part-time council of six elders rules the city, meeting twice a month or as needed. The current head of the council is Mayor Thomas Flagcairn (NG male human Exp4), the town blacksmith.
Surkh (Small City, 9,770): All the citizens of this city on the north shore of the Deepwash are lizardfolk. The lizardfolk keep to themselves, though they have cordial relations with the Emerald Enclave, Nimpeth, and Lheshayl. They fish in the Deepwash and rarely venture into the nearby human territories. Nothing threatens them in their isolation, except for an ancient dragon turtle living in the depths of the lake. Many here regard death in the creature’s jaws as an honor, though not one they actively seek.
In spite of Surkh’s isolationism, people of the Vilhon fear it, for it is well known than any humanoid convicted of a serious crime here is put to death, then served up as food to King Grosseto (CN male lizardfolk Bbn9), who rules the city. He seldom receives visitors, for he speaks only Draconic. Gladiatorial combat is quite popular in Surkh, and gladiators willing to risk being eaten if they lose can make even more money here than in Reth.
The earliest recorded settlement in the Vilhon was the city of Alaghon, now the capital of Turmish. By -37 DR, Alaghon was a thriving port. The success of Alaghon marked the rise of trade and wealth throughout the Vilhon, which gave rise to a collection of warring city-states, each striving to command as much trade and territory as possible.
Waves of settlers from the Vilhon founded the modern nation of Sembia and reclaimed the Vast after the fall of the dwarven kingdom there. Trade rivalries and expansionism within the Vilhon also brought about numerous wars as the powerful states of Chondath and Turmish struggled against each other and against the smaller city-states that popped up around them. Shifting alliances and internecine conflicts kept the two giants locked in a stalemate. Independent cities of the Vilhon fell under the control of Turmish or Chondath, but they often managed to break free with time.
The Vilhon has suffered numerous outbreaks of plague through the centuries, thanks to its warm climate, active trade, and crowded cities. Misused magic has started plagues as well. The first great plague swept the region in 75 DR, the Year of the Clinging Death. Half the human population of the Vilhon died as the disease ravaged the cities. An even more infamous plague struck in 902 DR, when the then-powerful nation of Chondath was in its fifth year of civil war. Wizards in the cities of Arrabar and Hlath, seeking to end the war, loosed ancient necromantic magic that slew two-thirds of the population of the Nun River valley and sent a wave of panic throughout the Vilhon. The Rotting War reinforced a loathing for wizards throughout the Vilhon and gave rise to the independence of Sespech, until then part of Chondath.
The Vilhon today is a land of commerce and intrigue. The independent city-states keep a wary eye on their larger, more powerful neighbors; the large countries keep a wary eye on each other; and everyone keeps a wary eye on the elves and on the Emerald Enclave.
((This information was taken from the Dungeons & Dragons Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting Manual