The Earthspur Mountains, or simply the Earthspurs, and sometimes named the Giantspike Mountains or the Dragonspike Mountains, was a great mountain range in north Faerûn. It ran roughly from northwest to southeast, from the Moonsea and the Galena Mountains in the north to the Sea of Fallen Stars in the south. It had two arms: the smaller Troll Mountains and the Earthfast Mountains. This range bordered Damara, Vaasa, and Impiltur in the east with the Vast in the west.
Geographical features[edit | edit source]
The Earthspur Mountains were high and imposing; the range's tallest peaks were nearly 4 miles (6.4 kilometers) high. There were few trails through the mountains, making them very dangerous. One was Three Trees Pass, a long cleft between the Earthfasts and the Troll Mountains. There was a gap in the mountains where the High Country of the Vast jutted east; rumors told of hidden passes through the mountains into neighboring Impiltur. Further east was the High Pass west of the River Icehilt.
At the center of the range, at its highest point, was the Glacier of the White Worm, from which cold winds continuously blew around the peaks. It covered an area of approximately 1200 square miles (3100 square kilometers). To the east was the Earthwood, and Lake Icemelt was to the south of this.
The mountains were rich in iron and silver, in apparently limitless lodes, with some bloodstone veins, and deposits of whitesteel. There were also small but highly pure deposits of gold located within the Giantspike Mountains. Thus many tunnels burrowed into the heart of the mountains in search of these metals.
Underdark[edit | edit source]
Notable Locations[edit | edit source]
- Brikklext: This goblinoid community sat beneath the southern foothills of the Earthspur Mountains, on the eastern side.
- Dargrath's caverns: Located deep beneath the peaks, this vast tunnel system was last remnant of the ancient realm of Haekrukkha.
- Laviguer: Located within the stretch of the mountains that wrapped around the Uplands, this mining town provided a great amount of wealth to the nation of Impiltur.
- Monastery of the Yellow Rose: was positioned on one of the mountain range's highest peaks, beside the Glacier of the White Worm.
- Vordric Dun: This rough and wild mining hub was often in highly competitive with the nearby settlement of Laviguer.
In addition to the larger settlements, there were a number of mining communities that lay scattered across the lower slopes of the mountains, beside the tunnel entrances.
Watcher's Mounds[edit | edit source]
The Watcher's Mounds were a series of campsites constructed and maintained by the Disciples of St. Sollars the Twice-Martyred, from the Monastery of the Yellow Rose, and by local rangers. They lay throughout the mountains south of the monastery, situated along the trails running down from it. There were thought to be well over a hundred of these sites; their exact number was unknown.
They could take many forms, not only mounds, such as a simple lean-to or a fire-pit with a small cave and an overhanging boulder. They were defensible campsites with shelter where a traveler, a ranger, or a monk might spend a night in safety, or a goblin or orc band might rest and defend themselves. Each site also contained a hidden cache of preserved food, water, and tools. The monks and rangers of the mountains regularly restocked these caches.
Inhabitants[edit | edit source]
The Earthspurs were inhabited by orcs, goblins, hobgoblins, and bugbears, and drow could also be found. Cave trolls were common in the mountains west of Impiltur, as were other monsters.
The mountains were also home to shield dwarves, such as the Ludwakazar clan. There were many hardy human and dwarven miners and prospectors working the mountains, as well as bandits who preyed on them.
There were signs that mind flayers occupied the caverns that were found deep beneath the mountains. However, the adventurers that led expeditions into these subterranean corridors were not heard from again.
History[edit | edit source]
In the Year of the Wyvernfall, 512 DR, the orc kingdom of Vastar rampaged out of the Vast and threatened other lands with war. Swarming through many small passes in the Earthspur Mountains, the orc chieftain Ulbror and his horde invaded the uplands of Impiltur.
As Vastar descended into civil war in the Year of Writhing Darkness, 572 DR, dwarves from the north and east expanded their mines under the Earthspur Mountains and into Vastar. The dwarves let no orc who'd seen a dwarf remain alive, to prevent any word reaching orcish chieftains of the nature of their enemy. The unexplained deaths of large numbers of orcs in the mountains were blamed on the civil war.
After defeating the orcs and bringing down Vastar, the dwarves founded the kingdom of Roldilar in its place. But Roldilar fell to resurgent orcs in the Year of the Bloody Crown, 649 DR, and many surviving dwarf clans escaped into the Earthspur Mountains.
From the mid-1350s DR, prosperous new deposits of ore were discovered in the Earthspur and Earthfast Mountains, inspiring prospectors to brave the harsh conditions and hobgoblins, hoping to strike it lucky. These new mines were predicted to fuel the Impilturan economy.
In the Year of Wild Magic, 1372 DR, an Earthspurs mine broke into an old temple of Laduguer, and miners discovered more tunnels leading into the Underdark. They sought adventurers to follow the tunnels and see if they led to duergar settlements. A local merchants' guild even prepared a trade expedition to the gray dwarves.
Miners were still working the Earthspurs by 1479 DR. However, the retreat of the Great Glacier in the 15th century defrosted a number of undead creatures, and possibly something worse, prompting an increasing number of humanoids and monsters to travel south.
Activities[edit | edit source]
The mining communities of Dunfee in Impiltur and the Arcatan towns of Sudrav and Tomrav existed thanks to the mines here. On the other side of the mountains, King's Reach in the Vast grew wealthy off trade and smelting of the metals that came out, and by supplying the prospectors who found them. They went via secret routes to protect their claims and hide their finds.
Rumors & Legends[edit | edit source]
Some told horror stories of human and dwarven prospectors, lone and "gold-crazed", who attacked anyone who came too close to their claims and finds, and who lived like animals high in the mountains. Others told of so-called "gold caves", caverns with great stacks of lost dwarven gold and guarded by dragons or wyverns or by gold-crazed prospectors who'd slain those beasts and seized and guarded their hoards themselves. A few such stories turned out to be true. Lashan Aumersair of Scardale supposedly once led his followers to locate one of these gold caves and took its wealth to fuel his conquests.
Appendix[edit | edit source]
Notes[edit | edit source]
- There is some disagreement about the name of these mountains. Although most sources, including the original Forgotten Realms Campaign Set (1st edition), name them the "Earthspur Mountains", the later The City of Ravens Bluff mentions the "Giantspike Mountains" in a location and context apparently identical to the Earthspurs, and once the "Dragonspike Mountains", apparently in error for the Giantspikes. The similarly named Dragonspine Mountains lie on the opposite side of the Moonsea, and the Giantspire Mountains are on the opposite side of Impiltur. This may be solved by comparing the map given in The City of Ravens Bluff with the map from the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting (3rd edition). The latter shows a range of foothills where the Giantspikes would be, suggesting that the Giantspikes/Dragonspikes are in fact these foothills.
- Some sources may mistake the Earthspurs with the similarly named and neighboring Earthfasts, such as the dwarven city of Earthfast being located beneath the Earthspurs in the Player's Guide to Faerûn. This is apparently solved by the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting (3rd edition) confirming the Earthfasts as an arm of the Earthspurs.
References[edit | edit source]
- Ed Greenwood (November 1998). The City of Ravens Bluff. (TSR, Inc), p. 147. ISBN 0-7869-1195-6.
- Ed Greenwood (November 1998). The City of Ravens Bluff. (TSR, Inc), p. 143. ISBN 0-7869-1195-6.
- Richard Baker, James Wyatt (March 2004). Player's Guide to Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 18, 19. ISBN 0-7869-3134-5.
- Ed Greenwood, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, Rob Heinsoo (June 2001). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 297. ISBN 0-7869-1836-5.
- Andrew Finch, Gwendolyn Kestrel, Chris Perkins (August 2004). Monster Manual III. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 177. ISBN 0-7869-3430-1.
- Ed Greenwood, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, Rob Heinsoo (June 2001). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 202. ISBN 0-7869-1836-5.
- Rand Sharpsword (April 2002). More of the Underdark and the Vast! (HTML). Rand's Travelogue. Wizards of the Coast. Archived from the original on 2015-09-20. Retrieved on 2010-10-31.
- Ed Greenwood, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, Rob Heinsoo (June 2001). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 214. ISBN 0-7869-1836-5.
- R.A. Salvatore (1989). The Bloodstone Lands. Edited by Elizabeth T. Danforth. (TSR, Inc), pp. 32, 33. ISBN 0-88038-771-8.
- Rob Heinsoo, Logan Bonner, Robert J. Schwalb (September 2008). Forgotten Realms Player's Guide. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 106. ISBN 978-0-7869-4929-8.
- Ed Greenwood (November 1998). The City of Ravens Bluff. (TSR, Inc), p. 157. ISBN 0-7869-1195-6.
- Steve Perrin (1988). Dreams of the Red Wizards. (TSR, Inc), p. 6. ISBN 0-88038-615-0.
- R.A. Salvatore (1989). The Bloodstone Lands. Edited by Elizabeth T. Danforth. (TSR, Inc), pp. Fold–out map. ISBN 0-88038-771-8.
- Forgotten Realms Poster Map (3rd edition) (6MB JPG). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition. Wizards of the Coast. Retrieved on 2008-03-17.
- George Krashos (August 2006). “Impiltur: The Forgotten Kingdom”. In Erik Mona ed. Dragon #346 (Paizo Publishing, LLC), pp. 56–71.
- Ed Greenwood (November 1998). The City of Ravens Bluff. (TSR, Inc), p. 152. ISBN 0-7869-1195-6.
- Bruce R. Cordell, Gwendolyn F.M. Kestrel, Jeff Quick (October 2003). Underdark. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 123. ISBN 0-7869-3053-5.
- Bruce R. Cordell, Gwendolyn F.M. Kestrel, Jeff Quick (October 2003). Underdark. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 131. ISBN 0-7869-3053-5.
- R.A. Salvatore (1989). The Bloodstone Lands. Edited by Elizabeth T. Danforth. (TSR, Inc), p. 44. ISBN 0-88038-771-8.
- Reynolds, Forbeck, Jacobs, Boyd (March 2003). Races of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 116. ISBN 0-7869-2875-1.
- Steven E. Schend and Kevin Melka (1998). Cormanthyr: Empire of the Elves. (TSR, Inc), p. 40. ISBN 0-7069-0761-4.
- Richard Baker, Ed Bonny, Travis Stout (February 2005). Lost Empires of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 128. ISBN 0-7869-3654-1.
- Brian R. James, Ed Greenwood (September 2007). The Grand History of the Realms. Edited by Kim Mohan, Penny Williams. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 79, 89. ISBN 978-0-7869-4731-7.
- Steven E. Schend and Kevin Melka (1998). Cormanthyr: Empire of the Elves. (TSR, Inc), p. 41. ISBN 0-7069-0761-4.
- Ed Greenwood (November 1998). The City of Ravens Bluff. (TSR, Inc), p. 148. ISBN 0-7869-1195-6.
- Brian R. James, Ed Greenwood (September 2007). The Grand History of the Realms. Edited by Kim Mohan, Penny Williams. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 94. ISBN 978-0-7869-4731-7.
- Jeff Grubb, Ed Greenwood and Karen S. Martin (1987). Forgotten Realms Campaign Set (Cyclopedia of the Realms). (TSR, Inc), p. 52. ISBN 0-8803-8472-7.
- Karen Wynn Fonstad (August 1990). The Forgotten Realms Atlas. (TSR, Inc), p. 2. ISBN 978-0880388573.
- Ed Greenwood, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, Rob Heinsoo (June 2001). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 203. ISBN 0-7869-1836-5.