The Free Cities of the Sword Coast, each of these cities are made up of different governing bodies, and completely independent from each other. The Sword Coast is less of a singular Empire like the rest of Faerun, and more a unification in the face of the regional threat. This alliance has left them in good stead, stabilizing the region through many struggles and regional disasters, but it has been difficult in the last two generations as the Uthgardian Empire becomes increasingly expansionist in recent years.
After the fall of Baldur’s Gate it is now unclear if Silverymoon will be able to hold the plains, and the coast will be exposed after that. Uthgardian pirates have all but annexed the southern waters, isolating and driving the forces of the realm further and further to defeat. The only advantage is in the superior magical capabilities of the Free Cities, Archmages, Archdruids and Genie-Lords all proving hard nuts to crack. The free cities view absolute freedom above everything else, but personal responsibility in the face of community issues.
There is also a strong cultural mixing pot in the face of Uthgard’s harsh xenophobic and purifying ideology. However there is equal tension with the haughty imperial attitude of their allies the Cormyreans. While trade is strong in the Free Cities, few are able to escape the privateers in the southern seas, leaving little to no avenues of trade with the free world outside of huge an heavily armed naval caravans.
The Silver Marshes, Luruar
An alliance dating back nearly 700 years, the Silver Marshes was an alliance also called Luruar between the largest cities of northern Faerun, formed under the confederation of Alustriel Silverhand. It protected the trade interests of the north and formed a political centre for the Free Cities stretching all the way to the Anauroch desert and the spine of the world, and down to the Trollbark Woods and Baldur’s Gate’s northern border. In light of the founding of Floren and Prague in the last 400 years, the Kingdom of Many-Arrows now called Thesk has been cut off from the Alliance with Staghart being build in the north to breach the Spine of the World. Meanwhile only 20 years ago Baldur’s Gate fell, pushing the border all the way to Trollbark Woods.
Byrn Shandar the Last Place to Nowhere
This fortress/fishing town has been burnt down and rebuilt more times that it’s also jokingly refered to as ‘the sixteenth’, because where else would they rebuild that many times. Bryn Shandar is the final non-magical civilsation above the Spine of the World. It keeps the passes to the South and Illusk open, and provides a central trading port for both the Icecracker Fleet and the Northmen of Uthjaarht. These wild men worship animal spirits and have a very strong isolationist philosophy.
Bryn Shandar also has a roaring Scrimshaw trade keeps this city above board, as well as trading in Firerock to the Lantan Isles down south. Byrn Shandar is seen as one of the safest ways to reach Aerulia, if you don’t consider cold so strong it can crack your bones open to be dangerous. There’s a relatively lucrative trade route maintained by the Northmen that stretches over to Frostmourne and Rashemen in the East and even the northern stretches of Shou Lung.
The Most Common Church Bodies here are The Gods of Civilisation, Love, and Destruction.
Illusk the Heirs of Shadow
This ancient city was rebuilt after the Netherese Wars using the refugees from the Netherese city of Doubloon and Free City of Luskan. Migrating to the ancestral home of Luskan, the city Illusk was constructed using the magics of the Netherese and the trade and ingenuity of the Luskanites and Shadar-kai of the Shadowfell. Much as the city has a strong association with Shadow magic, being one of the only places to teach use of the Shadow-Weave, the physical health of the city is quite high with little shadow corruption in the city proper.
This is mostly thanks to The Durthan, and exiled coven of night hags, witches and mystics from Rashemen to the East. They bind the land with powerful magics to protect it from the shadows and infuse light into the lives of the people. This also means it’s one of the hardest places to practice shadow-magic, but the lack of side effects make it worthy of even the greatest handicaps. The City also Ports the Luskan Pirate Fleet, a stalwart protection against the Uthgardian Navy from trying to encroach too far North.
Illusk also houses some of the biggest black markets, facilitating trade from the Jungles and herbs of Rapture, through to the Shadow Rail and onto the Forbidden Rail to the East. It also has far less established criminal organisations than Rapture, leading to a varied flux of powerplay and political intrigue in the city. All the while the Durthan, Pirates and Shadow-weavers attempt to stay above the muck.
The Most Common Church Bodies here are The Gods of Magic, and Shadow.
Neverwinter the City of Skilled Hands
Neverwinter is regarded by many, including the erudite travel writer Volo, as the most cosmopolitan and the most civilized city in all of Faerun, quite a reputation, considering the breadth and variety of the continent. The city of Neverwinter is so named because, even though the town is situated in the cold north of Faerûn, the Neverwinter River that flows through it is heated by fire elementals living under the nearby Mount Hotenow in the Neverwinter Wood. The heat given off from the river creates a permanent warm climate in the immediate area; without the elementals, the river, and subsequently the city’s water supply, would freeze over.
It is ruled by Lord Alagondar, heir to Nasher Alagondar the First, and is actually the second city to stand on this site. New Neverwinter was helped to be reestablished as the premier city of the north by the famous Drow Ranger Drizzt Do-Urden, who with the help of Artemis the Wise, Constructed Barrabus College, named after the hero Barrabus the Grey. This college is known throughout the Sword Coast as the premiere place to study war tactics and create some of the worlds greatest tacticians.
This is also the home of the clandestine organization the Obsidian Ravens, also known as ‘The Harpers of the West’, in honor of their shared historical roots. While the cultural flavour of Neverwinter supports honor, open combat and forthrightfulness, they still non-the-less produce the greatest spies of the Free Cities, usually working closely with private spy networks and intelligence agencies in all the major cities, becoming a political power in themselves.
The Most Common Church Bodies here are The Gods of Civilisation, Magic, and Swordsmanship.
Mithral Hall home of Delzoun Clan
Named for the literal river of mithral flowing across and through the heart of the city, Mithral Hall is the homeland of the Delzoun Dwarves. Delzoun’s are the most common and widespread of Dwarven clans, having cousin relations to the Clans Hardbromm, Lutgehr and Frostbeard. Mithral Hall has also had a peaceful few centuries thanks to their close allies in Silverymoon, for which they provide a plentitude of Mithral Weapons and Dwarven Mercenaries to help support their efforts. They also trade quite heavily through their trade settlement of Settlestone.
Ruled over by the Dwarf-King Battlehammer, Mithral Hall is also one of the end stops for the Forbidden Rail, a dwarven secret that connects the northern Clans for trade and information. Mithral Hall also works to keep the Northern Pass open and fortify it against the Uthgardians and supplies Iron for Illuskan Cannons. It also has one of the largest entrances to the Underdark, keeping a cursory presence down there to protect smaller choke-points.
The Most Common Church Bodies here are The Dwarven Gods.
Myth Kuldahar the Northern Light
In the early days of the world of Toril, the god of nature Silvanus planted a simple acorn in the northern foothills of the freezing Spine of the World mountain chain. Over the centuries, the tree grew continuously for millennia, reaching an extraordinary girth and size. Silvanus nurtured this tree, named Kuldahar, embedding within it a connection to the primal forces of the world so that it would throw off heat and create a haven in the frigid subarctic mountains for all forms of life.
The Archdruid Arundel created a powerful additional protection here, a Mythallar that protects all from fire magic. Although the effort cost him his life, it also spawned a circle of Druids of the North. The city also has a surprising amount of trade with the Fiddlebender’s Trademarked Airship that ferries people from Byrn Shandar northward, as well as Druid Gates that allow druid circles to meet here.
The Most Common Church Bodies here are The Gods of Nature, Destruction, and Primal Spirits.
Silverymoon the Gem of the North
Since the passing Alustriel Silverhand and the ‘Sacking of Everlund’ that solidified Prague’s power on the nearby plains, Silverymoon has been more a military outpost for the border forces than a centre of commerce. Ruled over by Taern “Thunderspell” Hornblade, the city has crafted a heritage of war magic and military tactics for the last 400 years. The city has a special place in the heart of Mystra, as the city was founder and crafted by her Chosen. Silverymoon is often dubbed “the Gem of the North”, for it resembles and emulates the elven city of Myth Drannor in many respects.
It is one of the few civilized places in the middle of the rough and untamed wilderness that is the North of Faerun. Silverymoon is also famous for its pervading tradition of magic, and is home to many notable wizards, sorcerers and other mages. One of its permanent structures, the Moonbridge, was created by magic. The fighting force that protects Silverymoon is comprised of the famed Knights in Silver, and also the Spellguard, an order of primarily wizards and sorcerers. Most of the locals speak Silver-Sylvan, with a swiss accent, and traditional eladrin names.
The Most Common Church Bodies here are The Gods of Magic, Civilisation, Secrets, and Elves.
Trollbark Woods the Swamp of Sorrow
On the border between Waterdeep and the Uthgardian Empire is a surprising landmark. Trollbark Woods, a dark and oppressive swamp that’s remained untamed and untouched, a link to a primordial and more chaotic time. The swamp has a hilly terrain, with surprisingly deep water running throughout. The flora is huge and primal, spirits can physically manifest because of the nature magic soaked here, and Druids of the Thorn run through the trees, slaying unnatural beasts and corruptors of nature.
The swamp is also filled with a huge population of Trolls, biggest in Toril actually. They number in the thousands, but usually stick to the swamp border because of the waters healing properties and protection from fire. The lesser known horrors of this place are the Giant Forest Spiders, Greater Drakes, Hydra’s, and Swamp Hags, each one more horrifying than the last.
Waterdeep, Crown of the North
The City of Splendors, the most influential city in the North and perhaps in all the Sword Coast, is considered the political and diplomatic capital of the Silver Marshes since the ‘Sacking of Everlund’ 300 years ago. The streets of Waterdeep are well paved and patrolled thanks to the Masked Lords of Waterdeep. The current Open Lord of Waterdeep is Lady Dorrden, a Dark Elf Archmage of Abjuration. Waterdeep is named for its outstanding natural deep water harbor that makes it an ideal hub for trading between the mineral-rich lands to the north, Illusk and Mithral Hall, to the seaports of Rapture and Calimport in the South.
Most of the city is organised through massive Trade Guilds, who organise everything from Stevedores Union, Porters Guild, through to the Night Masks and Silent Sails Smugglers Guild, and even the high-brow Arcane Brotherhood and Obsidian Ravens. There are also a few interesting adventurer’s Guilds like the Order of Delvers who organise and provide outfitting for adventures to enter the Undermountain. Generally if there is an occupation you want to have this is the home office of that organisation.
More than half a million people make their home in Waterdeep, mostly waterdavian humans and the rare Tethyrian refugee/immigrant from the southern lands. There is also a sizeable dark elf and Lutgehr dwarven population in the city organising trade and guild through the silver marshes. Most of the citizens speak Waterdavian. They have Traditional french names and french accents here.
The Most Common Church Bodies here are The Gods of Magic, Civilisation, Love, and Trade.
The Sword Isles the Lone States
These are the islands and city-states not connected to the Silver Marshes by a land trade route. Most of these places did not join the Alliance of Sword Coast Cities until a mere 12 years ago, with the fall of Baldur’s Gate. This was because Uthgard didn’t have a strong Navy operation and the sea around Forenzi and Amn didn’t necessitate a strong ship presence. The smaller Navy of Lamorak had a tough enough time attempting to subjugate the Wild Isles and the Mooncurse Wasteland. With Baldur’s Gate fallen, Uthgard was able to take and rebuild the Baldurians impressive naval operations and attack all the coastal and island operations.
Calimport, the City of Sands
This ancient city has bones and city walls that date back to the Calim Empire, an offshoot from the Djinni Empire of Zuhkara, It was ruled by the Grand Caliph of the Djinn’s brother the Djinn-Lord Calim al-Balil ben-Nafhat al-Yugayyim. The Djinn-Lord Calim sought to create a trade with the Giant Empire of the time. Despite losing several conflicts and generally being unable to sustain an Empire after the magical imprisonment of Calim, Calimport has thrived as the sole trading port along the southern peninsula of the Calishite Desert.
In recent years the city has been under a protracted trade embargo from the Uthgardian military, but has maintained sovereignty by the sheer scale of the Desert surrounding it as well as the impressive Genie-crafted Wall surrounding the city and the bay. Also recently the Djinn-Lord Calim was released from his centuries long imprisonment and has come back to rule the seate of his Empire, allying with his brother Husam and Djinn-Lord Herac who’s currently living in Dambrath. The three of them maintain portals ot each others realms to facilitate trade in their regions without worrying about supply lines.
The Most Common Church Bodies here are The Gods of Magic, Civilisation, Freedom, Trade and Darkness.
Citadel Thane home of Bronzebeard Clan
A singularly strange dwarven citadel, Citadel Thane is home to the Stormlords. A collection of dwarven mages who practice storm magic, and whose wealth are the Frystalline. Frystalline is a glass-like substance that when hardened is receptive to lightning based magics. It is not mined, and the process is a closely guarded secret. The Bronzebeard Clan is a long ago offshoot of the Delzoun Clan who were banished for their increasing use of magic and arcane arts. Down in Chult they intermingled with the Chultan Dwarves, primal savages of the jungles.
Kept in hospitality by the Hill Dwarven-King Ragas, they welcome any Dwarven spellcasters to their ranks.
Home of the Forged. Split into three casts; the warforged who were first created by mages through powerful rituals most have vastly outlived their creators. The largest collections were the warforged of Thay, who were freed from their bondage after the destruction of the realm. The mystic forged were the second most common, made from planar entities given form to carry out their will, these warforged hold a degree of intelligence and magical manipulation not seen since the Shardminds. Most of their masters have been destroyed in the Dusk war, the last of the primordial’s slain to prevent future escapes. The Rarest of Cyrians are The Builders. Epically enchanted Magic Armour used to contain and challenge the Sentient Living Spells of the Mournlands, these Forged are of cataclysmal power and force of will. Most remain cloistered to prevent emotional outbursts and reach self-control from the turbulent feelings and thoughts within. The Rulers of Cyre are the Artificer Lord Dionysius and his experiement Tezzerack the Mercurial.
Tezzerack the Mercurial, the last Red Wizard of Thay. Or at least, that’s how he sees it. Alive before the assenting of Szass Tam, was once a Zulkir of Thay. He does not say with one. Dismembered by demons Tezzerack was kept alive by Szass Tam for stopping his apoptosis and spent years in agony wish for death. The destruction of Thay and creation of the Mournlands would lead to his unlikely freedom. The spell used to keep him alive became sentient, and brimming with arcane power across the land. One of the earlier spells to be contained by the ‘Builders Form’ spell created by the mage Dionysius. This had a very unusual affect; it created a builder, partly. The rest of made of the Zulkir. Amazed by this Dionysius took Tezzerack back to Cyre to figure out what happened. Tezzerack was a powerful mage before the spell. Now, he is fueled by the living spell trapped in his artificial limbs. Tezzerack planescapes when he is not working with Dionysius, making the most out of his unusual condition to experiment with sheer energy.
Home of the Elven Lady Aerlina and her Llewyrr Elves, last of the sun elves. Powerful high magic and the rare eladrinic power of feystep make these a unique and dangerous enemy. Known also at Evermeet, since the fables Elven resting place was taken into the Feywild.
Home to the ancient Gondian Gnomes and their leader, Archmage Glittergold. Lantan has been the heart of technology and artistic innovation since the Time of Troubles, where the old God Gond revealed the secret of smoke powder. Also unique in the creation of Mechanical Mythals, these gnomes have a distant similarity to the gnome city of Pythagorus, but no martial background and severely advanced defence capabilities.
Home to the Pizeoni Halfling, this grain belt and cultural centre is made wealthy by the large stockholds of grain shifted to Calimports sandy shores. It’s tenious position maintained by the Godfather Hansel Pizeoni, father to the Pizeoni family.
Home to the Ba’ali, a shadowy organization also known as the Masters of the Bazaar. This port is the heart for exotic reagents and poisons, making it an important port of call for most the Free Cities. Free trade is the ultimate ruler here, where an unusual Mythallar is in effect. Signed contracts must be adhered to.