The Dustwall Mountains (also called simply the Dustwalls[1] or just the Dustwall[6]) separated southern Raurin from northern Durpar in the Shining South. They were so named because they protected Durpar from the turbulent sandstorms that ravaged the Raurin desert.[5][2][3][4] It had many names, being also known as the Mountains of War and the Mountains of Adama.[2][3][note 1]

Geography[edit | edit source]

A map of the Shining Lands showing the Dustwall, with the Ice Peaks and Gryphon Mountains marked.

The Dustwall appeared to be an arm of the great Yehimal.[7] In the east, where the Dustwall joined the wider mountains of the A-Ling Shan (one of the many mountain ranges that comprised the Yehimal[8]), were the Ice Peaks.[4][9][7][note 2] A short branch of the Dustwall ran south into Durpar; this was called the Gryphon Mountains.[4][7][note 3] This name was also sometimes applied to the Dustwall Mountains as a whole.[3][note 4] The Dustwall continued west in the Giant's Belt, a similar range that curved north and continued to separate the Shining Lands from the Raurin.[3]

Climate for the Dustwalls[10]
Average Temperatures
32 ℉
0 ℃

38 ℉
3 ℃

(Nig 11Ham 20)

52 ℉
11 ℃

(Ham 21Tar 15)

72 ℉
22 ℃

(Tar 16Elei 15)

51 ℉
11 ℃

(Elei 16Nig 10)

Average Rainfall

22 days

(Nig 11–Ham 20)

46 days

(Ham 21–Tar 15)

73 days

(Tar 16–Elei 15)

48 days

(Elei 16–Nig 10)

Average Snowfall

6 days

(Nig 11–Ham 20)

9 days

(Ham 21–Tar 15)

0 days

(Tar 16–Elei 15)

9 days

(Elei 16–Nig 10)

  • Annual rainfall: 189 days

The Dustwall Mountains marked the northern borders of the lands of Durpar, Var, and Estagund, and of Ulgarth, separating them from the forbidding lands of the Dust Desert.[11][2] They shielded the southern lands against the raging sandstorms.[5][3]

There were few passes through the Dustwall, and none of them were useful for trade between the Raurin and Durpar and Ulgarth. The easier lower passes were blanketed by the Scarlet Jungle in the south and the only real passage through the mountains was a narrow pass blocked by the legendary Gate of Iron.[12]

The great Jumpa River, after running by the A-Ling Shan, flowed through the Great Pass of the Yehimal.[13] It emerged from the Ice Peaks of the Dustwall as the River Xon,[4][7] also known as the Gaya.[13]

Description[edit | edit source]

The Dustwall Mountains averaged 15,000 ft. (4600 m) high along its central ridge, making it one of the tallest mountain ranges in all of Toril;[5][3] none were lower than 13,000 ft (4000 m).[6] The highest peak of the Dustwall mountains, Adama's Wrath, soared over 22,000 ft. (6700 m) into the air.[5][3]

The Dustwall stood in the dry and rugged category of ranges of the Hordelands. This category of mountains were typically of granite and shale, with steep slopes that were only slightly more eroded than the Yehimals themselves. Small glaciers plowed through the slopes.[6] Indeed, the mountains of the Dustwall were rough and raw, with steep slopes that rose to towering heights. The whole area was rocky and scarred by gorges and deadfalls. Even the foothills were jagged ridges strewn with stones, and the valleys between were blocked by rock outcrops and thorny brush.[3]

The land was harsh and there was little vegetation to be found, bar scrub plants of the hardiest varieties, like thorny brushes.[3]

Iron ore was plentiful in the Dustwall, attracting dwarven miners. By 1367 DR, the mining was heavy but had barely tapped the full potential mineral wealth.[2]

Climate[edit | edit source]

The high peaks of the Dustwall and the Giant's Belt blocked moisture-bearing winds from the coast, causing a rain shadow on their leeward side, causing the Dust Desert of Raurin.[14]

The climate in the lowlands around the mountains was very hot, but the highest peaks stood above the climatic snowline, and thus were capped in ice throughout the year.[3]

Inhabitants[edit | edit source]

Gray orcs were perhaps the most numerous creature to be found in the mountains, a fact that helped spawn the name "Mountains of War." Although their true population was unknown, it was feared that the orcs far outnumbered the entire population of the Shining Lands. They controlled an estimated 95% of the range. This population density was at odds with the desolate nature of the mountains, which surely didn't provide sufficient food for them all, and some contended the true population was much lower. Regardless, an orc raiding party numbering 5,000 strong was not unheard of near the Mountains of War. Because of the constant threat of attack from the orcs, people dwelling nearby remained ever-vigilant.[2][3]

Despite the danger, dwarves gathered here to mine for the rich veins of iron. They were not scared off by the presence of orcs, but they also took care to avoid the dangerous orcs whenever possible.[2][15]

Several dangerous species of monsters inhabited the mountains as well in great numbers, including wyverns and several races of giants, including cyclopes, hill giants, ogres, stone giants, and some storm giants.[2][3] There were even recurring rumors that a frost giant clan lived at the high, snow-capped peaks, despite the climate in the surrounding lowlands being so hot that they were unlikely to have migrated there by conventional means.[3] Several of the giant clans commanded rune magic, contributing to that discipline's negative reputation in the South.[16]

Even a handful of rakshasa established themselves here by 1367 DR. The rakshasa seemed bent of conquering an empire in the lowlands using their gray orc slaves, if they could first bring the unruly orcs under their control.[2][3]

History[edit | edit source]

Around roughly −2700 DR, during the time of the Imaskar Empire, the peoples of the south wished to have a barrier against the approaching Imaskari forces. Thus, at enormous expense, they constructed the Gate of Iron across the only accessible pass through the Dustwall. It was closed against all attack and passage.[12]

The Gate was opened and closed for the last time around a thousand years later, sometime around −1700 DR. Such was its great magic, it would not be reopened. By 1359 DR, the Gate of Iron had remained closed for over three thousand years.[12][note 5] By then, the Gate of Iron was simply a headache for local merchants, who had to go the long way around, through Durpar or even through the Shaar to Var the Golden, with attendant taxes and tolls. Some hoped for ways to open the Gate of Iron again, and so cross the Dustwall with ease, but the rulers of Durpar and Var would not be pleased.[12]

By the mid–14th century DR, the kingdom of Ulgarth had long suffered raids by the gray orcs of the Dustwall.[17]

Around 1367 DR, warnings circulated that the gray orcs were preparing for a major assault on the lands of men. A horde of thousands of orcs was expected. So concerned were their leaders that both Flyndagol in Durpar and Kaspar and Suormpar in Ulgarth began recruiting solders, and even hired mercenaries, to supplement their standing forces, as well securing the services of armorers and weaponsmiths.[2][18]

Locations[edit | edit source]

The Gate of Iron stood at the very top of a narrow mountain pass at a neck in the range. The gates themselves stood within a massive stone battlement, offering the only passage through the barrier. Although over four millennia old, the gates remained unblemished well into the mid-1300s DR.[12]

Rumors and Legends[edit | edit source]

According to legend, the Dustwall Mountains rose during the cataclysm that felled the Raurin empire, that is, Imaskar. All who gazed upon them were inclined to believe it.[5][3][note 6]

Appendix[edit | edit source]

Notes[edit | edit source]

  1. The poster map in The Shining South (1993) labels the Dustwall as the northern edge of the range and the Mountains of War as the central mass north of Durpar.
  2. The Ice Peaks are only labelled on page 11 of The Forgotten Realms Atlas. The Shining South says Suormpar and Xontuil Bay lie "in the shadow of the Dustwall Mountains". As The Forgotten Realms Atlas marks these places as directly south of the Ice Peaks, the Ice Peaks therefore must be part of the Dustwall.
  3. Although not mentioned in The Shining South, the maps show a small unnamed range extending south into Durpar. The poster map in The Horde and The Forgotten Realms Atlas page 11 label this the Gryphon Mountains.
  4. Although sometimes labeled as a separate range adjoining the Dustwall, Shining South (2004) lists the Gryphon Mountains as another name for the Dustwall itself.
  5. The Horde states that the Gate of Iron was built over "over four thousand years ago" and last opened "over three thousand years" before the setting date of 1359 DR. This implies the Gate was used once or regularly in the intervening millennium—indeed, the point of a gate is that it be opened and closed from time to time.
  6. This legend seems to be contradicted by the presence of the Dustwall Mountains in the legend of the Gate of Iron, around three centuries before the fall of Imaskar in −2488 DR. If true, it may be that the Dustwall rose higher during this cataclysm, the Raurin Desert also created at the time in fact sank lower, or the Gate of Iron was in fact constructed against an Imaskari successor state after the empire's fall.

Appearances[edit | edit source]

Desert of Desolation
Realms of Infamy: "Vision"

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Roger E. Moore (December 1994). “Vision”. In James Lowder ed. Realms of Infamy (TSR, Inc.), pp. 317–342. ISBN 1-56076-911-4.
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 Tom Prusa (1993). The Shining South. (TSR, Inc), p. 66. ISBN 1-56076-595-X.
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 3.13 3.14 3.15 3.16 3.17 Thomas Reid (October 2004). Shining South. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 112. ISBN 0-7869-3492-1.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Karen Wynn Fonstad (August 1990). The Forgotten Realms Atlas. (TSR, Inc), p. 11. ISBN 978-0880388573.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 Tom Prusa (1993). The Shining South. (TSR, Inc), p. 54. ISBN 1-56076-595-X.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 David Cook (1990). The Horde (Volume II). (TSR, Inc), pp. 126–127. ISBN 978-0880388689.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 David Cook (1990). The Horde (Map: The Horde). (TSR, Inc). ISBN 978-0880388689.
  8. David Cook (1990). The Horde (Volume I). (TSR, Inc), p. 21. ISBN 978-0880388689.
  9. Karen Wynn Fonstad (August 1990). The Forgotten Realms Atlas. (TSR, Inc), p. 15. ISBN 978-0880388573.
  10. Thomas Reid (October 2004). Shining South. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 92–93. ISBN 0-7869-3492-1.
  11. Tom Prusa (1993). The Shining South. (TSR, Inc), pp. 53, 73. ISBN 1-56076-595-X.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 David Cook (1990). The Horde (Volume I). (TSR, Inc), pp. 49–50. ISBN 978-0880388689.
  13. 13.0 13.1 David Cook (1990). The Horde (Volume I). (TSR, Inc), p. 63. ISBN 978-0880388689.
  14. Karen Wynn Fonstad (August 1990). The Forgotten Realms Atlas. (TSR, Inc), p. 3. ISBN 978-0880388573.
  15. Thomas Reid (October 2004). Shining South. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 114. ISBN 0-7869-3492-1.
  16. Thomas Reid (October 2004). Shining South. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 42. ISBN 0-7869-3492-1.
  17. Thomas Reid (October 2004). Shining South. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 180. ISBN 0-7869-3492-1.
  18. Tom Prusa (1993). The Shining South. (TSR, Inc), pp. 76, 79. ISBN 1-56076-595-X.

Gallery[edit | edit source]

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