Bael Nerath

PLEASE NOTE: All text in white boxes is from Christopher Perkins' blog posts on the Wizards of the Coast website. Archive link.

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In today's time, this region is more commonly called ‘The Baronies” or just Nerath.

The human empire of Bael Nerath crumbled when the continents of Iomandra sank into the Dragon Sea. The survivors lingered on the few remaining bits of land until the dragonborn dynasties swept in, “rescued” them, and took them as slaves. The descendants of Bael Nerath, freed from slavery, made a half-hearted attempt to rebuild their empire. They raised colonies on nine islands, which necessitated a pooling of resources.

These nine islands form the basis for the nine baronies that exist today.

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COMMON KNOWLEDGE

To ensure a fair exchange of goods, the islands formed the Trade Council, with one representative from each island. Unfortunately, human greed reared its ugly head, and the Trade Council became mired in corruption as its members took to calling themselves barons and formed secret alliances. Accusations of foul play and favouritism shattered all attempts to unite Bael Nerath, and today the islands are ruled by nine selfish barons who simultaneously oppose and rely on one another.

Most people of Nerath have sworn allegiance to one of these barons.

Two of the baronies—Ravan and Vhessek—have dragon overlords and are thus named after them. Dragons periodically accost the other seven islands of Bael Nerath, but to date the baronies have managed to drive them off or slay them (often with the help of adventurers).

These dragons rule over some of the smaller islands plotting their claims to the larger ones.

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REGIONAL FEATURES

Ruling baron names, Barony names and populations all created by Christopher Perkins on the Wizards of the Coast website.

Although made up of nine major islands, the region includes many minor islands. Generally, islands are covered in steppe and thick grasslands, though there are drier areas in the east, forests on the western isles, and even some marshes in the south west.


Baelcrest

Baelcrest

Baelcrest is named after the peak that juts out into the sea along the north coast of this isle. This mountain was once the home of the ruling red dragon, Xiphor, that supposedly fled some 60 years ago. Lord Skalvard, a knight in a local order of dragon-slayers named himself baron.

His son, the aging baron Elidyr Xandros VI (human), has ruled for the past 40 years from the capital Nerathor (pop. 12,200), located centrally in the hills that cover the northern half of the island

Monster-infested marsh covers the south, with farming settlements dotting the plains of the east.

A sea-kin community trades readily with the people in the southeast.


Clovencrag

Clovencrag

Rugged hills form a spine on this large island in the north east

A dvati compound is found at the foot of the small mountain split in two that gives the island its name. Kreen roam over much of the interior of Clovencrag and several surrounding islands. Farmers must be forever weary of these insectoids. Whilst no eladrin houses have been established in Clovencrag there are many nautolans amongst the populace and trade is conducted with a sea-kin community in the south.

Steven Blacksword, a half-elf, has ruled the island for the last 10 years from his keep along the southeastern coast across the Stormpoint Peninsula from the capital Rockshoal (pop. 5,900).

Clovencrag has not had a dragon overlord for over 90 years.


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Grekkenhar

Located north of the Gates to Arkhosia, this island has the most contact with the dragonborn empire (and is also considered the first target). As such, many dragonborn live in ghettos throughout the barony. The strange verrik also live in the northern badlands and are clients of the barony, thanks to the negotiations of new baron, Mariekus Corrynar.

Mariekus is a large earth genasi from Serran and is often called the ‘Stonechild’ by the populace.

The previous baron chose Mariekus as his heir after Mariekus served as an honourable guard for years. Mariekus resides in the baron's keep in the central hills overlooking the High Lake, whose waters flow down to the capital of Shallowreef (pop. 7,500).

The people of Grekkenhar has always opposed the rule of dragons and have not had a dragon overlord in almost 800 years.


Hullroost

Hullroost was the last of the baronies formed. The northern coasts of this island are treacherous. Forested hills form a barrier along the east coast for the many inland settlements that make a livelihood from farming and herding.

The capital, Nerath’s Hope (pop. 4,000), is located on the north shore where the Eel River meets the sea. The reefs and rocky islands protect the city from sea attacks. Although the baroness, Elythea von Aress (human), has her palace there, she spends most of her time at sea. She is responsible for establishing friendly relations with the sea-kin on the south of the island. She has ruled for 25 years, surviving many challenges and intrigues, including an assassination attempt by a trusted wizard advisor.

The ancient sea dragon that laid claim to this island has not been seen in 94 years. The name of the island was changed five barons ago, so the sea dragon goes mostly forgotten. Is he still in a nearby lair at the bottom of the ocean? Who knows?


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Marckwild

The jewel of Nerath in the eyes of the residents, Marckwild has plenty of fertile soil and therefore exports food to most other baronies. The fertile plains are scattered with light forest and scrublands.

Dragonfall, the capital (pop. 6,100) straddles the mouth of the Cardinal River. The lord's keep was built upon the bluff where the first baron led his group of adventurers to victory over the black dragon overlord that ruled the island from an underwater cavern beneath the bluff. That was some 500 years ago and the island has had no dragon overlord since.

The current baron (of the past eight years), Yorgen Krell (human), is a renowned bard and admires the elven culture of his realm. Dragonborn are permitted to live on the island, but must remain in selected ghettos, or under the care of an important personage. A compound of dvati is also found within Dragonfall.

Waves of Destiny Campaign

  • This is where the campaign began, starting in the city of Dragonfall.

Ravan

Baron Karl Mystrum III (human) welcomed the iron dragon overlord Ravan with open arms, and the two have struck an accord.

Ravan lives somewhere in the badlands that cover the central part of the island named after her. In her 18 years as overlord, she has caused quite a bit of strife. She has used force against the islands to the south to bring them into the barony, and is alleged to have attacked Grekkenhar settlements. Prior to Ravan's arrival, the barony then known as Estovar, had been free of dragon overlords for around 90 years.

Scrub covers the steep slopes of the eastern coast and in the west a large escarpment separates the rocky desert home to verrik and kreen from the main part of the island. Springs from the escarpment feed two lakes here, making it livable, but many undead roam the wastes too

No eladrin houses have been established in this corrupt barony, but nautolans seek adventure in the ports, including the sheltered capital of Scalabar (pop. 4,500), and goliaths dwell amongst the island’s heights.

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Shadowvar

The name given to these islands is the same name the inhabitants call themselves. Others often call Shadovar the Islands of Shadow or the Shade Islands. They supposedly sit upon the site of an ancient magical empire. Locals claim the Land of the Night is reborn thanks to the return of its descendants from their centuries-long exile in the Shadowfell.

The people are human, though with grayish skin and many become shades.


Stormhaven

The ever-popular Tagon Archwind has ruled over the western island of Stormhaven for the last seven years. He was made baron after he exposed and deposed the previous baron for holding on to food stocks whilst a lot of the poor went hungry.

Tagon’s castle in the south, Highpoint, is also the barony’s capital (pop. 6,400). There are no known eladrin houses on Stormhaven, though dragonborn are employed as guards and soldiers throughout.

Most settlements are along the many rivers that flow into the eastern sea from the central hills. The western slopes are covered in rugged scrub.

Tagon is a cleric of Bahamut and welcomes the dragonborn to his realm, and many are arriving from Whitestag in the north. He personally leads raids into the north of the island where undead roam freely. Recently, Tagon has also vanquished the naga-ruled, Serpent Isle, to the south and the island has become a client of Stormhaven.

The last dragon overlord of Stormhaven, an old, female blue dragon named Skylarrinian had been the overlord of the island since humans first occupied it following Io's Destruction, and likely before. As long as she received tribute she left most operations of the isle to the ruling barons. 18 years ago, however, it was revealed she was also acting as the baron's treasurer and funneling a lot more money to her own hoard. The baron summoned adventurers to seek Skylarrinian and destroy her, but her lair was abandoned and her hoard gone. No one knows where she went.


Vhessek

Vhessek the black dragon is a savage tyrant, and many of the human inhabitants of Vhessek’s island have been devoured or driven off, while Baron Jerek von Ezengart (half-elf) remains as a puppet leader in the capital Brightshore to discourage others from leaving.

Vhessek has ruled the island for around 200 years. No one would live on the island, except is was a well populated part of the world before Vhessek arrived and is a key island for timber and surrounding fertile lands.

Most people don't remember when Jerek became baron either. It seems to most that he and Vhessek have 'shared' power forever and as long as they have been in charge, Vessek has taken no part in the Lords' Alliance either.

Many people hide in the forested hills that cover much of the island. None go near the swamps in the northeast, other than those that seek Vhessek. Dragonspawn are quite numerous here, even in the capital.


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Whitestag

The isolated island of north western Nerath is an idyllic elven realm. Whilst some dragonborn maintain a quiet existence in some of the settlements, the island is free from any other draconic influence, including dragonspawn.

The young, but forceful, Sathima Shadowgray (half-elf) recently inherited the throne from her mother and has continued her dragon-hating ways. Many fear this hatred will soon turn upon the noble dragonborn that live in the realm. Ships with dragonborn refugees leave the capital E’erwatch (pop. 9,500) frequently, most heading south to Stormhaven.

Other Independent Isles

There are some islands that have not been claimed by the barons. Some of these are barely settled, others are fiercely independent, whilst other new settlements would like nothing more than the protection a barony would offer.

Korinn Archipelago. This chain of volcanic islands curves away from the south coast of Hullroost.
Singing Skull Island. Is the largest and most northern of the islands. It is dotted with fishing villages and even some inland settlements. The island is fabled for its old ruins and legends tell of great hidden dwarven mines. The island has had many names, as it is popular with dragon overlords (and some travelers are taking to calling it Venomfang island after a green dragon that is supposedly the latest arrival), but the name of Singing Skull has stuck through the ages. Singing because of the noise the recently active volcano Xothan would make and skull because of the shape of the island.

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PEOPLE OF BAEL NERATH

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Although humans for the majority, Nerathan culture has a strong elven outlook. Half-elves and elves (high and wood) live throughout the islands alongside their human companions. Given their propensity for intrigue and politics, many half-elves hold positions of great importance amongst the barons. This fey influence also shows itself in the popularity of arcane magic. It is not uncommon for several people, even in a small settlement, to have learnt some form of arcane magic. Heroes and the powerful know arcane magic or have those that do close at hand.
Dragonborn are scattered throughout the islands and there are small local populations of other races throughout.


ADVENTURERS

When not busy fighting their baron’s wars, adventurers might be destroying the many undead that plague the realm. All intelligent races of the islands contribute in some way to the society, other than the kreen of the eastern grasslands and the wicked dragonspawn inhabiting all baronies except Whitestag (a fact the people there are very proud of).

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GROUPS & ORGANISATIONS

Brotherhood of the Broken Chain

Members are mostly gathered in port cities ensuring press gangs are not allowed to operate. Others look to help fight the Shadovar, for fear of them returning the slave-taking ways of their ancestors.
(See Other Groups & NPCs Page for full details).


Coronal Guards of Cendriane

Eladrin specialist swordmage guards.
(See Other Groups & NPCs Page for full details).


Ghosts of Eventide

An organisation of stealthy members that plan to eliminate the threat of the Shadovar before it gets too strong. Members are trained to work in the shadows to better defeat their enemies of the Islands of Shadow. They are based in the coastal city of Eventide in southeastern Grekkenhar.
GAME MECHANICS
Classes & Concepts

  • Ghost of Eventide - rogue paragon path (4E Forgotten Realms Player's Guide p55).
  • Umbriri - swordmage paragon path (4E Forgotten Realms Player's Guide p67).

Infiltrators

A small force of undead-hunters sponsored by barons in Stormhaven, Clovencrag, and Marckwild. In fact, baron of Storhaven, Tagon Archwind, is a high ranking member. Members are sent on strike force missions against undead residing within the baronies.
GAME MECHANICS
Classes & Concepts

  • Infiltrator Dreadslayer - as Impilturan Demonslayer ranger paragon path (4E D&D Forgotten Realms Player's Guide p58).
  • Infiltrator Doomguide - as Doomguide divine paragon path (4E D&D Forgotten Realms Player's Guide p50).
  • Infiltrator Leader - as Thay Infiltrator paragon path (4E D&D Dragon Magazine article/PDF on Forgotten Realms Regions (Aglarond)).
  • Master Infiltrator - rogue paragon path (4E D&D Player's Handbook p127).

Kotar Pirates

Though alliances have been forged with some barons, pirates from Kotar regularly sail through the islands of Nerath, much to the chagrin of the Sea Kings.
(See Kotar Region Page for full details).


League of Eyes

Few even know this organisation of scattered cells and individuals exist. Apparently, they are a group heavily invested in the health of the cities of Nerath. They have been described as the 'Druids of Civilisation' by some, but that would not sit well with most druids one would think.


Lords' Alliance

(3E D&D Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting p275; 5E D&D Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide)
This alliance of the barons and other factions seeking free trade and prosperity in the region formed over 150 years ago. Unlike the failed Trade union before it, the barons themselves are not allowed to sit on the council, though each barony has a delegate (except Vessek which has chosen not to take part), as does the Brotherhood of the Broken Chain, Ghosts of Eventide, and three eladrin houses. Perhaps the most important member of the Alliance, is the representative from the League of Eyes - a smaller organisation of secretive urban savants. These savants seem to know the inner workings of the cities of Nerath. The aim of the council is to protect the lands and waters of Nerath, but more importantly the cites and free trade conducted within the realm. The Alliance has many agents that travel Nerath working towards this common peace. Agents are required to report to the leader of any settlement upon arrival. Lords' Alliance keeps, holds and ships often double as temples/shrines to Erathis.


Minions of the Skull

(3E D&D Libris Mortis p176)
Unknown to most, many of the intelligent undead throughout Nerath are actually united. Not only are they united in undeath, but as the ‘supreme beings’ of a cult of living members that venerate the undead masters. All major islands of Nerath have at least one cult of Minions of the Skull. A black draconic skull that burns with Io’s flame is said to be the sacred relic of the cult.
Most minions are quite insane and many seek out the city of Nocturnus, but most are turned away, being far too chaotic and crazy for the necropolitans.
GAME MECHANICS
Classes & Concepts

  • Death's Chosen - as adapted prestige class (3E D&D Libris Mortis p141).

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Order of the Bow

(3E D&D Complete Warrior p141).
A spiritual group that adhere to the Way of the Bow. Obviously elven in origin, the Order has practically dwindled to a few old mentors and the odd initiate seeking the old ways. Most archers of the modern world are happy to just be good at their job – no spiritual link needed.
All but defunct now, the Order was once a popular elven tradition of Nerath. Most modern archers just wish to be good at their art, not necessarily form a spiritual connection with their bow. However, for those seeking a master of the Way of the Bow, there are still some teachers left throughout the isles that were once high ranking members. Fortunately elves remember things for a very long time.
GAME MECHANICS
Classes & Concepts

  • Order of the Bow Initiate - prestige class (3E D&D Complete Warrior p69).


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Scarlet Corsairs

(See 3E D&D Stormwrack p65).
A small, but brutal band of pirates found mostly in the southwest where they prey on Sea King traffic. The Sea Kings offer exorbitant rewards for Scarlet Corsairs.
A small, but very violent band of pirates that prey upon the people of southwest Nerath. Their exact residing place is unknown, (if they have one), though the swamps of southern Baelcrest are likely - a very daring move, being so close to the sacred home of the Sea Kings.


The Sea Kings

A powerful and widespread group of independent warlords who govern trade on the Dragon Sea. Their major base, Krakenholt, is located south of the baronies and the Sea Kings are common on the seas throughout.
(See Dragon Sea Region Page for full details).


Shadovar

The Shadovar

(See 'Netheril' in the 4E D&D Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide).
The name used for the islands, for the people there and the collective to which they all belong.
The Shadover are ancestors of the ancient arcane land known as the Land of the Night, whose inhabitants fled to the Shadowfell to escape Io’s wrath. They have recently returned and their motives are unclear, but the people of Nerath clearly view them as a threat. Leaders are often made of shadowy stuff and have power over the darkness.
GAME MECHANICS
Classes & Concepts

  • Shadow Assassin - rogue paragon path (4E D&D Player's Handbook p128).
  • Umbiri - swordmage paragon path (4E D&D Forgotten Realms Player's Guide p67).

Snaketongue Cultists

(See 4E D&D Dragon Magazine article/PDF Coils Below).
Members of this cult ascertain they are misunderstood. Rather than see the naga of Serpent Isle and other individuals as threats, they believe the people of Nerath could learn a lot from these knowledgeable creatures.
Whilst members of this cult would have other citizens of Nerath believe they are misunderstood they are merely living up to their name. The cultists are dedicated Zehir worshipers and are so fevered in their worship of this evil god that many of them have accepted reptilian features as gifts from their master.

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