The Netherese Empire in Forgotten Realms | World Anvil
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The Netherese Empire

Ancient Empire


First Age

  In the beginning, the region of Netheril was a paradise of rivers, forests, lakes, and plains. Nestled along the Narrow Sea was the growing Alliance of Seventon, which was little more than a group of villages, Fenwick, Gers, Gilan, Gustaf, Moran, Nauseef, and Janick,, nestled along the Narrow Sea. The growing nation proceeded to remove nearby threats and expanded the scope of both its power and land. After carefully observing the growing human realm, the Eaerlanni elves opened up diplomatic ties and began to instruct them in the ways of the Art in −3830 DR. With talent never seen before, the Netherese learned arcane spells with rapacious fervor. Following this association, the alliance was renamed "Netheril", or Nether's Land, by Nether the Elder. Within Netheril, every citizen was taught the very basics of spellcasting. Even commoners maids knew cantrips to aid with housework. Those who truly excelled at the arts of magic became known as arcanists, a rapidly rising political faction that was second only to the nobility of the nation.  

Nether Age

  After 300 years of studying magic under the Eaerlanni, the Nether Scrolls were discovered by the Finder, within the ruins of Aryvandaar in −3533 DR. The scrolls provided a huge leap forward in Netherese spellcraft, which they favored over the magic they learned from the elves. The next two hundred years saw the power of the Netherese arcanists increase by leaps and bounds. It was during this age that the 33-year-old Congenio Ioun, in an unprecedented feat of skill, created his first magical item, the ioun stone. In the last 20 years of this age, the arcanists assaulted the Land of Alabaster Towers and stripped away arcane spells from the minds of the nation's sorcerers.  

Mythallar Era

  The birth of one of Netheril's greatest arcanists Ioulaum, in −3315 DR, marked a new era in Netherese Empire. In the first 200 years of his life, Ioulaum led the defense of the nation against a horde of orcs, which originated from the Plain of Standing Stones, which allowed for experimentation on the monstrous beast-men. He further changed the understanding of magic on Toril with the invention of the first mythallar in −3014 DR, and the discovery of quasi-magical items, which could be powered by a mythallar in place of the Weave, a few years later. In −2954 DR, Ioulaum created the first floating enclave, Xinlenal, by means of the spell Proctiv's move mountain.note   Within this era, one of the two-complete sets of the Nether Scrolls were stolen by a group of Cormanthyrian elves who were aided by a lone rock gnome, Rilmohx Sha'Quessir. When Rilmohx took a quick peak at one of the scrolls, the entirety of the illusion school of magic was bestowed upon the mind of the gnomish thief. The arcane knowledge quickly spread throughout the gnome community of Faerûn.  

Silver Age

  The next 300-year age of Netheril began with the founding of the empire's new ruling council, the High Mages of Netheril, in −2758 DR. During this era, the Netherese discovered the deposits of valuable ore in passageways beneath the Greypeak Mountains, established the mines of Dekanter and founded small colonies and outposts in the North. In time, the Netherese archwizards began to feel cramped in their floating cities, leading to ideas of expansion in the Savage Frontier. The idea to expand westward was fueled by the Terraseer, a mysterious oracle who discovered the Old Owl Well in −2368 DR, and established the trademeet settlement of Quesseer, which served the traders from Netheril, Illuskan seafarers, the elves of Illefarn and dwarves from Haunghdannar.   Also during these years, the Netherese created several quasi-magical items during this time. The stolen Nether Scrolls were scattered across Faerûn, hidden in places such as the Hall of Mists beneath the Grandfather Tree and the Crypt of Hssthak.  

Golden Age

  The next millennium was a period of great advancements in magical understanding, prodigious expansion and vast change for the Empire of Netheril, the beginning of which was marked by the birth of Jeriah Chronos, the founder of the chronomancy school of magic, in −2207 DR. During this time, Netheril began lifting one enclave into the sky per year, including Thultanthar. Soon there were dozens of enclaves riding the air currents or orbiting patterns around the loosely defined borders of Netheril. They also explored the depths of the Sea of Fallen Stars and established three undersea, crystal-domed colonies that came to be known as Deep Netheril. In the following century the subaqueous Netherese enslaved the Serôsian aquatic elves, the colonies were destroyed by the high mages of Aryselmalyr in a catastrophic, undersea explosion so large that it created the Saerloon and Selgaunt Bays.  

Age of Discovery

  A number of profound arcane advancements were made during the 500 years following the Golden Age. The first of which was the discovery of chardalyn within mines beneath the Plain of Standing Stones beneath Low Netheril in −1205 DR. Uncovering these magic-absorbing minerals led to great experiments in the field of gem magic. The arcanists began to research into the travel to other planets in realmspace, by means of flying ships known as spelljammers. While venturing outside Toril's crystal sphere the Netherese first encountered illithids, who attacked the space-faring wizards on sight. This aberrant hostility ceased spelljamming endeavors on Toril for another thousand years.  

Shadowed Age

  The last age of Netheril began with the birth of the mage Karsus in −696 DR, whose actions brought the empire crashing down to Toril. He was a savant among the prodigious arcanists of Netheril, attaining a mastery of spellcraft nearly instantly. During the next 300 years he created the enclave of Eileanar, discovered heavy magic and killed the rogue arcanist Wulgreth, transforming him into a lich.   During this age, a number of significant of discoveries occurred that adversely affected the Empire of Netheril and greater region of north Faerûn for centuries. In −681 DR, arcanists who came to be known as the Night Parade, traveled to the Demiplane of Nightmares which was scantly protected by the aberrations of the Far Realm. In −553 DR the arcanists of Netheril discovered the plane of Shadow, which became the destination to where Telamont Tanthul would shift his enclave of Thultanthar in −339 DR, when it came to be known as the "Shade Enclave".   While Netheril's flying cities flourished in the sky, magical residue seeped into the earth below and became an affliction for a race of subterranean dwelling creatures called the phaerimm. Eventually, the phaerimm grew tired of their torment and began to retaliate in a war with Netheril. In −461 DR they began draining both life and magic from both Toril and the floating enclaves, creating barren wastelands where there once were lush fields and areas of wild magic. The chaotic effects of magics caused the arcanists of High Netheril to flee the empire for safer lands. The enclaves of Lhaoda and Tith Tilendrothael were destroyed and many of the arcanists of Low Netheril fled for the recently-established magocracy of Illusk, the Tower of the Star in the ruins of Andalbruin, and a settlement in the Northdark founded by Ioulaum. The absence of the arcanists caused civil unrest in Low Netheril, and the commoners fled their home. In −345 DR, Arthindol the Terraseer appeared in the enclave of Eileanar with a warning that goddess Mystryl would challenge Netheril in a manner never before seen.  


  The period between the fall of ancient Netheril and the return of Thultanthar from the Shadowfell in 1372 DR. It began in −339 DR, with an event that came to be known as Karsus's Folly, an attempt by the brilliant arcanist Karsus to steal the power of the goddess of magic Mystryl and ascend to godhood. He cast an incredibly complicated, six-hour long spellpage needed of his own creation called Karsus's avatar, which finally tore apart the Weave that had been weakened by the war between the phaerimm and Netheril, forcing Mystryl to sacrifice herself to keep it intact. Arcane magic temporarily ceased to function, which nullified the mythallars of Netheril and caused nearly all the enclaves to come crashing down to the surface of Toril. Their ruins were littered across northern Faerûn, and their residual magic and power would influence the Realms for centuries.  
  Almost immediately after Mystryl died, she was reincarnated as Mystra, the goddess of magic who retained her position until the Time of Troubles. Despite the enormity of destruction caused by Karsus's Folly, she was able to save three of the falling Netherese enclaves, Anauria, Asram, and Hlondath. Some of arcanists and wizards were able to lead some of their people to safety. Raumark led a group of refugees south by traveling in their airships to the Shining South and would go on to found the nation of Halruaa. The dwarves of Ascore guided Netherese survivors through the subterranean passageway of the Lowroad to the realm of Delzoun.  




  Because of Mystra's Ban, the mythallars could no longer draw upon the Weave to power quasi-magical items or the creation of floating enclaves. In addition, the extremely powerful spells of Faerûn were no longer granted to practitioners of the Art, as it was deemed by the goddess of Magic to be beyond their level of responsibility. So-called epic magic was thereafter limited to practitioners of Elven high magic.   The centuries of arcane research in Netheril had given Toril a variety of never-before-seen magical items that continued to be created and used by wizards and adventurers for millennia, such as Ioun stones. A small number of magical artifacts had been left behind within the ruins of Netheril's fallen enclaves. While some of these were quasi-magical items, which could only function a certain distance from the demenses of Low Netheril, others included archyre crowns, chardalyn gems and shatter-rings.  


  While the Netherese successor states survived for some time, they were eventually destroyed or abandoned. The remnants of the Netherese people were scattered across the Realms, with no home to call their own. The commoners of Low Netheril were scattered among the of the North, settling in Illusk and other lands, before developing into the Angardt, Rengarth and intermingling with the Uthgardt barbarian tribes.  


  The life-draining magic of the phaerimm continued to deteriorate lands of the Empire, until it degenerated into the desolate Anauroch desert. Fortunately for the rest of Faerûn, the phaerimm were defeated by the mysterious, aberrant sharn, and were trapped behind the silver, shimmering sharn wall.  

Empire of Shadows

  Days before Karsus's Folly, arcanist Telamont Tanthul was experimenting with magic related to the Shadow Weave and managed to shift his entire enclave of Thultanthar to the Plane of Shadow, unable to return for several weeks. When the Tanthul saw the catastrophe that occurred in their absence, assuming the destruction was caused by the Phaerimm, he decided to remain in the Shadow Plane in order to maintain what could be the last of their magically-gifted people. He vowed to one day return to Toril and re-establish the Empire of Magic. By means of divination, the Netherese clerics of Shar quickly discovered the truth, but only informed the nobility of Thultanthar.  

Return to Toril

  On Hammer 1 1372 DR, after assistance from his son Shade Prince Rivalen, Lord Telamont returned Thultanthar enclave to the Prime Material Plane, bringing about the reestablishment of the Netheril Empire. Since returning, the enclave came to primarily soar above the north-western side of the Shadow Sea in the Anauroch desert.   In 1374 DR, Rivalen and his brother Brennus orchestrated a plot that brought Sembia under control of the empire as a vassal needed The fallen enclave of Sakkors was also re-ascended that year, after which it was fully rebuilt and refurbished.   In the following year, while agents of Shar obliterated the city of Ordulin with a catastrophic spell learned from the tome The Leaves of One Night, Lord Shadow Telamont Tanthul and his right hand Hadrhune sought out one of the sets of Nether Scrolls which had been stolen from the ancient Netheril Empire and transformed into the Golden Grove of the Windsong Tower, by the elven high mage Tyvollus Aluviirsan. After agents of the Shadow Lord stole the magical tree away to the Crypt of Augathra the Mad, in the sands of the Anauroch amid the ruins of Synod, it was destroyed by the Liberators of Shadowdale and the remnants of the Nether Scrolls were scattered across Faerûn.  

15th century

  Over the next century the Shadow Empire of Netheril strengthened their their hold over northern Faerûn. By 1380 DR, Sembia was fully under the influence of the Shade Princes and officially made a protectorate of the empire two decades later. They enacted a bloodless conquest of Featherdale in 1418 DR, and by extension of the efforts of Sembia, took over Tasseldale in 1420 DR and the lands of Scardale.   In 1484 DR, as a result of the Second Sundering, natural calamities began to strike Toril. During this year Sembia outright invaded the Dalelands, who in turn were aided by the nation of Cormyr. Netheril brought their forces to the borders of the Forest Kingdom, which began a war that left Cormyr engaging forces on two fronts. In the following year the Bedine of Anauroch revolted against their Netherese oppressors and regions of central and northern Faerûn became outright battlefields. As the elves of Myth Drannor came to the aid of the nations of the Heartlands, the armies of Sembia were staved off and Cormyr reclaimed their lands.   With the war in Cormyr at an end, Netheril turned their focus to Myth Drannor in 1487 DR, and flew the Shade Enclave over their borders. Telamont attempted to seize the power of returned Myth Drannor's mythal so that Shar could displace Mystra as the new goddess of magic in Faerûn. The shadow arcanist and his fellow Shadovar agents were stopped by their fellow Netherese arcanist, the lich Larloch, who wanted to absorb the mythal for himself. During the conflict, the Shadow Lord Telamont was killed by the Sage of Shadowdale, Elminster Aumar. The Shade Enclave of Thultanthar fell upon Myth Drannor and both cities were destroyed in a disaster that hearkened back to Netheril's original collapse.   In 1489 DR, a group of adventurers later known as the Planeswalkers traveled to the shadowfell and encountered Telamont Tanthul in the city of Gloomwrought. They defeated him and freed the shades of Gloomwrought, earning their aid in the coming battle against the Great Modron March in waterdeep. When the modrons came, the shades poured out from the shadowfell and came to Waterdeep's aid at the behest of the wizard Firble Gemcutter (one of the planeswalkers). After the battle, the shades returned to the shadowfell and awaited his return.  

16th century

  In 1536 DR, the nomadic bedine began noticing activity from the ruins of the city of shade. Strange shadowy creatures began attacking travelers on the black road. Purple worms began to migrate away from the region. One day, locals awoke to a massive floating city in the skies. Built atop an upside-down mountaintop, the city seemed to be made of black stone that absorbed all light. Shadowy winged creatures began pouring from it, and hounds of darkness roamed the land beneath it. For a week, the floating city traveled across the desert. Wherever it roamed, shadowy creatures patrolled the land beneath it. Then, as quickly as it had arrived, it disappeared again. Some days later, a diminutive wizard with a 3-pointed hat was seen traveling the black road westward, flanked by a pair of shadowy hounds.   In 1586 DR, the Dwarves of Sundabar patrolling the fardrimm began to encounter strange creatures in the tunnels of the underdark near the region beneath the anauroch desert known as the buried realms.


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