Amn (pronounced: /ɔːm/ awm[note 1]), also known as the Merchant's Domain, was a tremendously wealthy nation in West Faerûn. Prior to the Spellplague and the continent's disappearance, Amn held colonies far away in Maztica. Post-Spellplague it still controlled important trade routes to Calimshan and Baldur's Gate as well as colonial ports in the Moonshaes and Chult. Its population, mostly human with a large minority population of halflings, was historically in the range of 3 million. The country's natural resources and wealth, combined with its mercantile nature led Amn to become one of the most important and influential trading centers throughout Faerûn. The crowning jewel of this powerful state was the capital city of Athkatla, founded in 100 DR or 0 AR in official documents and often known as the "City of Coin."
- 1 Geography
- 2 Government
- 3 Trade
- 4 Demographics
- 5 Society
- 6 History
- 7 Notable Locations
- 8 Appendix
Geographically, Amn was a fairly small state, though its size was impressive compared with its neighbor and frequent rival, Baldur's Gate. Historically, Amn held several colonies in Maztica but during the Spellplague these disappeared from Toril along with the rest of the continent. However, Amn remained a colonial power through the 15th century DR, primarily through its fortified ports in both Chult and the Moonshae Isles, as well as the Mhair Archipelago.
The weather was pleasant almost all the year round in Amn. At Lake Esmel, the temperature was warmer due to the hot springs. A diverse selection of crops grew very well in Amn, making for a surplus which was traded with other nations. Amn's rainy season was from Uktar to early Tarsakh. The winters were mild with minor freezes and a little snow all across the nation with the exception of Esmeltaran on Lake Esmel. Although the rivers froze over during Hammer, they did not harden enough to make crossing the ice safe. Due to blizzards in the Cloud Peaks over the winter, Nashkel could often become isolated from Athkatla.
Bodies of Water
- Lake Esmel
- A lake located along the eastern border of Amn. Unusually deep, Lake Esmel was home to several hot mineral springs and, according to local legend, a powerful dragon.
- Forest of Shadows
- Also known as Shilmista, this ancient woodland overlapped with the elven kingdom of Elbereth.
- Cloud Peaks
- A mountain range at the northern edge of Amn, infested with dangerous monsters but home also to precious gems.
- Mount Speartop
- The highest point in Amn, three miles above sea level.
- Small Teeth
- A mountain range containing many evil humanoids.
- Snowflake Mountains
- A range of mountains in West Faerûn.
- Troll Mountains
- A range of low mountains, so named for the rather intelligent trolls that inhabited their peaks. An enormous 4,000 foot slab resembling a dwarf could be found in the mountains, marking the location of a long-abandoned dwarven city. Also notable for their large deposits of gems.
Since its unification under Thayze Selemchant Amn was ruled by the Council of Six, who resided in Athkatla. Their main duties were to maintain trade within and outside of Amn, controlling nearly every aspect regarding the economy of the nation. Separate from their economic concerns, the council also coordinated the militaristic defense of the nation, a task in which each individual member had a particular role. These positions were anonymously held.
After the Spellplague, however, things changed. The number of seats on the Council was reduced from six to five. Amn remained an oligarchy but abandoned all pretenses of being anything else and the positions on the Council were openly held by the rulers of five noble houses: Alibakkar, Dannihyr, Nashivaar, Ophal, and Selemchant.
However, despite all appearances to the contrary, many other forces continued to hold a great deal of power in the country, despite the efforts of the Council to contain them. Directly beneath the Council in power were the head merchant families, who often wielded considerable political power as it is from among their ranks from which new council members were elected. While families who didn't have a member on the council had little direct governmental power, their influence and authority among the town or cities in which they resided was still considerable. In any given city of Amn there were between ten and thirty heavily influential families, with Athkatla having forty-two families that controlled the nation's trading houses.
Next down in the power scheme of Amn were its mercantile houses, companies formed by the consolidation of two or more lesser merchants' or merchant families' wealth. Both the Council and the Shadow Thieves supported these consortia, investing small shares in order to keep an eye on the economic interests of the guilds and lesser families. The success of a house might make or break the influence and power of its investors.
Standing beside the merchant houses in power were the Cowled Wizards, the Emerald Cabal, and the Shadow Thieves, each of whom possessed an enormous degree of unofficial power behind the scenes. The Cowled Wizards were themselves the only legal arcane institution in Amn, all others banned by decree of the Council, and were controlled by the powerful Selemchants, who they served most often as underhanded agents or mercenaries. Opposing the Cowled Wizards were the secretive Emerald Cabal, a league of illegal arcane spellcasters opposed to the entire Amnian system and who were unafraid to use violent means to achieve their ends. Like the Emerald Cabal, the Shadow Thieves' power was substantially illegal but in spite of this they held a considerable amount of power comparable to that of the merchant houses of Cowled Wizards, heading a criminal network that flowed between their lair in Crimmor, the rest of Amn, and the nations of the Sword Coast to the north.
Some of the southern settlements in Amn had split loyalties, with some preferring to join Tethyr to the south, because of its recent[as of when?] prosperity. Currently[as of when?] the border between Amn and Tethyr is formed by the Tethir Road, although some disputed this, claiming it to be the Tejarn Hills. To the east, Amn's extent is marked by Shilmista, and to the west, by the Sea of Swords. Muranndin, the "monster kingdom," poses a significant threat to Amnian trade from the south and during the 1370s waged a destructive war on Amn that resulted in the slavery of thousands of Amnians, whose unfortunate descendants continued to suffer under foreign rule. To Amn, a country known for its sparse values but which banned open, outright slavery, this was a festering wound.
In the north, Amn extended to the northern edge of the Cloud Peaks and Nashkel. Historically, Amn had a strong rivalry with Baldur's Gate, which nearly resulted in war during the Iron Crisis of the 1360s. However, more recently Amn's attentions have turned to Waterdeep, Amn's chief rival for international trade.
Money flowed in and out of Amn like no other country. It received a lot of goods from Calimshan and Tethyr to the south, on their way to the Heartlands in the north. It was rivals with Waterdeep and Sembia. While most often drawing merchants and businessmen, it also attracted adventurers from many lands, even from outside Faerûn. Thanks to its vast wealth and the amount of import that was placed upon smooth and efficient trade, merchant companies, often run by wealthy families or "houses," held a great deal of the power in Amn, so much so that they could compete with more traditional political forces in the country.
In the past, stone was imported from Mirabar via Luskan for use in construction, having been magically transported which was an expensive process. Since Luskan's demise, however, this particular route was cut off. While trade was definitely profitable in Amn the nation's lifeline of commerce was constantly under threat from the savage land of Muranndin directly to the south.
Around a sixth of the population of Amn lived within its cities and major towns, with the rest living in villages and rural farmlands. Two thirds of the population lived west of Lake Esmel. Around the Year of Wild Magic roughly 84% of inhabitants were human and 15% halfling. The latter number, however, grew substantially in the 15th century DR due in large part to the destruction of Luiren, the ancestral home of the halfling race. The native humans of Amn were primarily descended from Calishites and Tethyrians. A very small proportion of Amn's inhabitants were shield dwarves (in the mountainous areas) and wild elves (in Shilmista or Snakewood), and fewer still from these races decided to inhabit the cities. Gnomes were a rare sight in the cities and aroused interest. Except for Purskul, whose labor force was more than 20% half-orc, this race and half-elves were rare. Half-orcs were looked down upon as second-class citizens.
In Amnian society, humans treated halflings as equals thanks to their business skills. Although human businesses tended to have a strict hierarchy and leadership, halflings tended to rely more on teamwork, with no one individual having sole responsibility. Few halflings lived west of Esmeltaran, preferring to live in segregation in this city or in Riatavin, because these settlements were near the lost halfling realm of Meiritin
Money was the key to status in Amn. A successful person was measured by the amount of wealth they display in material possessions, to the extent that it was possible to buy nobility, at the right price. Lavish parties were common in recognition of events such as a business success, and these were often expensive, but acted to further demonstrate the wealthy status of the host. Status could also be demonstrated by giving expensive gifts or gratuities.
Status could be measured in terms of the location of a person's property, although not so much importance was placed on the amount of land owned. Athkatla was the most coveted of places for a residence, and the Gem District was the best area in the city. As a merchant family rose in status, it was expected to acquire more than one property, and estates around Lake Esmel were the finest of these.
Another form of demonstrating status was one's attire. Women often wore turbans, with more elaborate and ornate examples showing off higher status, such as gold, silver or platinum threaded embroidery. Metal-embroidered silk garments were popular amongst all classes and both genders. Vests or cloaks of fur from the North were in fashion, despite the temperate climate. Jewellery could be another show of status. Gem-inlaid precious metal rings were common, and pearls (especially black pearls) were in high demand. Dressing in ornate or fancy garments and jewellery was frowned upon amongst the wealthiest Amnian families, who wore simpler clothing, resorting to the other displays of status instead.
Status was measured using a scale of precious metals, from "ore" at the bottom, to "mithral" at the top. Lower ranks were often used as insults, while a higher rank could be used to compliment something or someone. These ranks were as follows:
- Ore—the lowest rank. Used to mean filthy or criminal, and strongly insulting.
- Bronze—the working class. Could also be used to mean a low-rank imposter.
- Copper—acceptable working class.
- Steel—best of the working class, or military.
- Silver—a rising merchant or one with much potential.
- Gold—one whose wealth was inherited, or one who was wealthy without business sense.
- Platinum—the head of a mercantile house.
- Adamantine—the highest self-made rank.
- Mithral—perfection. The highest possible rank.
In general, the richest inhabitants commanded the less wealthy. A recent show of wealth such as a large purchase or high bid could immediately raise a person's status, even above those who were wealthier overall. More emphasis was put on proper business conduct than racial stereotypes, so as long as a potential customer adhered to these rules, it did not matter who they were or where they were from. Even so, Amnians were wary of potential threats to business, so the more wealthy were often accompanied by at least two guards.
Although most languages were spoken in Amn due to the large number of traders from all across the Realms, Thorass was used for official documents and speeches. This was despite Common being used exclusively for this purpose in other neighbouring lands. A regional language sometimes referred to as Amnian common was spoken by the rural inhabitants of Amn, and this was made up of a dialect of Common with certain words in Thorass. There were a number of phrases in common usage in Amn which are unique to the nation. See Amnian phrases.
In Amn, arcane magic was considered illegal. Only those wizards who had the patronage of one of the Council of Five, could practice their art. However, divine magic was not considered a problem in Amn as long as the caster was connected to a recognized religious sect.
There was no state religion in Amn. Any religious practice was tolerated provided it did not interfere with the Council of Six (the government). All religions were represented in Amn, and religious freedom was important to its inhabitants. Some deities were more favoured than others due to their portfolios in relation to the day-to-day affairs of the people.
- Waukeen : The premier deity in Amn. Temple services to Waukeen were mostly parties and banquets.
- Lliira : Because Lliira oversaw Waukeen's portfolios during the Time of Troubles, her worship grew in Amn.
- Sune : Well-suited to Amn due to the importance of status and appearance. The clergy of Sune were often dressed more provocatively here than elsewhere in the Realms.
- Chauntea : Due to the importance of agriculture in Amn, Chauntea was worshiped widely near the time of harvests. Most worship occurred in small shrines in rural areas.
- Selûne : Mainly worshiped in Murann because it was a port city.
- Cyric : Many temples of Bane fell to Cyric after Tellvon Bloodshoulder's efforts. The worship of Cyric was spread through the Shadow Thieves. Over the past century, Cyric's influence grew substantially and one of the Council of Five, the Pommarch, was a devotee of the Church of Cyric. Amn was one of the few nations where Cyric was worshiped openly.
- Helm : Prior to the god's death in the Year of Three Streams Blooded, 1384 DR, Helm was worshiped in Amn, though not extensively except in Trademeet.
- Ilmater : Like the fallen Helm, Ilmater was not worshiped extensively except in Trademeet.
Amn, one of Faerûn's youngest nations but also one of its richest, had a brief but crowded history. By the time of the Spellplague, Amn had expanded further than any other Faerûnian power yet, reaching its influence to the shores of the fabled continent of Maztica across the Trackless Sea. There, it remained a local power until, during the cataclysmic events of the Year of Blue Fire the entire continent disappeared, along with all of its inhabitants. Even so, Amn's status as a colonial power was hardly broken and in the absence of its old colonies, the ambitious rulers of the Merchant's Domain instead opened up colonies in the more local arenas of Chult, the Mhair Archipelago, and the Moonshae Isles.
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- Athkatla (pop. 122,000): The "City of Coin" was the capital and crowning jewel of Amn's kingdom. It was considered a pilgrimage site for followers of Waukeen. Athkatla rested just west of the Trade Way, south of Nashkel and north of Trademeet.
- Crimmor (pop. 40,000): A walled trading hub east of Athkatla, just south of the Cloud Peaks along the southern Trade Way. Crimmor was also the open center of Shadow Thief activity.
- Eshpurta (pop. 24,252, as of 1372 DR): Amn's main military city, located in the eastern part of the kingdom, south of the Troll Mountains.
- Esmeltaran (pop. 35,000): A halfling dominated city in eastern Amn, near Lake Esmel.
- Keczulla (pop. 47,733): A gem-mining town that previously contained many gold and iron mines.
- Nashkel: A town that has been stricken by an iron shortage in 1369DR.
- Purskul (pop. 27,210): A granary city that was also an important caravan stop.
- Port Nyanzaru (pop. 12,000): A highly profitable Amnian port in Chult, Port Nyanzaru was well-defended, protected by three gates and a high wall.
- Snowdown (pop. 20,000): One of the Moonshae Isles, Snowdown was controlled by Amn through the Lady Erliza Daressin.
- Spellhold: This settlement was once an asylum located on the island of Brynnlaw, off the western coast of Amn, under the command of the Cowled Wizards of Athkatla, used to house the 'deviants' they have found in Amn, practicing magic without an official license. However, it was abandoned during the Hundred Years of Chaos and was considered a taboo location for travelers.
- The source actually says "AWW-mmm", but this is almost certainly simply an extremely poor respelling of English.
- Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn • Maztica trilogy (Ironhelm, Feathered Dragon) • Rising Tide • The Howling Delve
- Referenced only
- Tymora's Luck • Baldur's Gate series (Baldur's Gate • Baldur's Gate II: Throne of Bhaal) • The Sapphire Crescent
- Video Games
- Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn
- Referenced only
- Baldur's Gate series (Baldur's Gate • Baldur's Gate II: Throne of Bhaal) • Icewind Dale II • Neverwinter Nights series (Neverwinter Nights 2: Storm of Zehir • Neverwinter Nights 2: Mysteries of Westgate • Neverwinter Nights: Darkness over Daggerford)
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