The High Forest was a remnant of the days of old, when all of Faerûn was covered in green and elves, giants and dragons ruled the world. The forest was a vast region [note 1] of old forest growth bounded by the Nether Mountains in the north and the High Moor to the south. To the west was found the Evermoors and to the east the vast desert of Anauroch. The eastern border of the High Forest lay against Delimbiyr Vale through which flows the Delimbiyr River.
What lay within this deep forest was somewhat of a mystery, and few traveled there to explore its depths. The more notable locations in the forest included the majestic Star Mounts—providing the headwaters of the Unicorn Run and the Heartblood River; the Lost Peaks in the northwest that form the headwaters of the Dessarin River; the fabled Grandfather Tree; the Dire Wood in the east; as well as many dungeons ruins, abandoned settlements, and mysterious locales.
The southern slopes of the legendary Star Mounts contained the Endless Caverns, which were said to be home to dragons and passageways that connected to the Underdark. To the south of the caverns was the Stronghold of the Nine, an abandoned dwarven site now apparently claimed by elves.
East of the mounts and south of the Heartblood River, was the ruined Netherese city of Karse. The region of forest within the wide bend of the Heartblood River was called the Dire Wood, where a great massacre once took place. Strange supernatural phenomena originated from this place, and was was home to two liches, both by the name of Wulgreth.
At the northern end of the High Forest was an area called Turlang's Wood, a place where the forest was continuing to expand thanks to the tending of a band of treants. At the northeast tip of the forest, their efforts have sealed off Hellgate Keep, the site of a deadly battle with a powerful demon named Kanyrr Vhok.
Among the known inhabitants of the woods were the aarakocra among the Star Mountains, centaurs, dragons, drow, a few elves and humans, gnomes, korreds, gnolls, orcs, pegasi, pixies, satyrs, treants, and unicorns. The few humans who dwelt there were generally rangers, druids, or adventurers used to surviving in wild environments. Trade with the outside world was infrequent, as the forest was self-sufficient and had plentiful resources for its inhabitants.
The forest was not ruled by any one group, but instead contains many forces and groups, including Fey'ri, nature-worshiping druids, Uthgardt barbarians, and the elven Caerilcarn, often in competition with one another. The most powerful of these were the treants led by the elderly Turlang.
Age of the Proud Peoples
Long ago, when the elves truly ruled Faerûn, the High Forest was occupied by the Aryvandaar kingdom, though they would leave the woods following the Fifth Crown War in −9000 DR. Several hundred years later, a few sun elves returned and founded the realm of Siluvanede. They continued to erect a mythal around the city of Adofhaeranede, renaming it to Myth Adofhaer.
Around the year −4800 DR, demon-blooded elves from House Dlardrageth undermined several sun elf houses began an interbreeding program between the elves and demons, creating the fiendish Fey'ri, who would hide their heritage from the true Tel-quessir. Over the next few hundred years, select nobles from Sharrven established the kingdom of Eaerlann, in an effort to restrict the growing power of the ambitious Siluvanedenn, complete with their tree-top capital of Teuveamanthaar in −4550 DR.
For over three centuries, the unified elves of Eaerlann, Sharrven and Arcorar would fight against the Siluvanedenn daemonfey, led by House Dlardrageth, in a series of battles known as the Seven Citadels' War. At the war's end, Eaerlann annexed Siluvanede while the remaining untainted elves of the Realm placed the city of Myth Adofhaer in magical stasis. While most of the fey'ri were imprisoned within the Nameless Dungeon, a few managed to escape capture and scattered across Faerûn in hiding.
Age of Humanity
In the year the surviving fey'ri of the Seven Citadel's War unleashed a horde of monsters upon the southern reaches of the High Forest, destroying the realm of Sharrven. The dwarven King Connar IV of Ammarindar came to the aid of the remaining elven societies, slaying many of the beasts, including the red wyrm Rithaerosurffel.
The empire of Netheril collapsed in −339 DR, when the arcanist Karsus momentarily supplanted Mystryl as the god of magic. The body of the Netherese archwizard fell to Toril in the center of the Dire wood, in the eastern High Forest. The areas was inundated with arcane energy, which radiated from this location for centuries.
In the year 590 DR, a union of elven and human wizards from Eaerlann, Ascalhorn Evereska, Silverymoon and Myth Drannor united together to created a mythal over the Eaerlanni city of Glaurachyndaar, and renamed it Myth Glaurach. Orcs from the Nethertusk tribe overran the city nearly 300 years later.
In 820 DR, the Ascalhi wizard Wulgreth began to summon devils to his home of Ascalhorn. Some sixty years later, human mages that were corrupted by rogue fey'ri began conjuring demons to the city. In 882 DR, the two fiendish forces ravaged the city, with the demons emerging victorious. They continued down the Delimbiyr Vale, ushering both the dwarven city of Ammarindar and the elven nation of of Eaerlann to their demise. Ascalhorn came to be known as Hellgate Keep, following the demonic occupation.
The demons of Hellgate Keep broke through the magical wards that the Harpers had established in Ascalhorn, reaching the ruins of Ammarindar in 1221 DR and penetrating the Nameless Dungeon in 1356 DR.
In 1344 DR the remaining elves if the High Forest began to slip away, embarking on their great Retreat to Evermeet via portals. In the following years, Turlang and his treants began to take charge as guardians of the High Forest.
Era of Upheaval
A group of Harpers, aided by the Moonstar known as the Mistmaster, used the Gatekeeper's Crystal, to level Hellgate Keep and most of the demons inside. It came to be known as Hellgate Dell, and the Turlang extended the trees of the forest to grow over its ruins. Unfortunately the evil in the depths of the ruins was not fully destroyed, rather contained, the re-opening of which was a persistent fear to its treant guardian.
Some time around 1372 DR, many wood elves from Evermeet migrated back to the High Forest and sought to reestablish the kingdom of Eaerlann. Standing in their way, however, were the innumerable tribes of orcs, gnolls, and an alliance of fey'ri from Hellgate Keep. This effort continued into the 15th century DR, under the leadership of the Lady of the Wood, Morgwais.
- Star Mounts: These impressive peaks were located in the center of the High Forest. On clear days their snow covered summits, which were higher than even those of the Spine of the World could be seen from beyond the Forest's borders, as far away as the Stone Bridge, or the mountains around the Shining Falls, north of Loudwater.
- Lost Peaks: A pair of small mountain ranges, home to many fey creatures, that contained the Fountains of Memory.
- Dessarin River: Flowing from the Dancing Falls from the Lost Peaks to the Sea of Swords to the southwest, this particularly frigid river was a major route for the conveyance of commercial goods that moved between Silverymoon and Waterdeep.
- Heartblood River: This tributary of the Delimbiyr found its source on the north face of the Star Mounts and wound its way east and south through the Dire Wood. It got its name from the red tinge its waters took on as it passed the ruined city of Karse. By the time it joined the Delimbiyr, its waters had returned once more to a normal hue. It was said that drinking from the waters when they still flowed red granted an increase to magical powers, or staved off adverse magical effects. The red color was attributed simply to soil deposits picked up as the river passed through the Dire Wood. However, other sources mentioned contamination from the blood of the still-beating heart of the dead, ascended Netherese arcanist Karsus.
- Unicorn Run: This river was known for its numerous waterfalls and lush verdant banks that featured fey communities and rare appearances of unicorns. The source of the river housed a holy site to the faiths of the nature deities, known as the Glade of Life.
- Dire Wood: A forest-within-a-forest, encircled by pale oak trees, this woodland was remarkable due to the prevalent arcane energy, caused by the fall of Karsus.
- Sorrowwood: The roots of these magic oak trees, planted by the elves Aryvandaar, were said to touch those of every single tree in the High Forest.
- Tall Trees: The northwestern region of the High Forest contained the oldest trees found within the woods, a remnant of ancient Teuveamanthaar.
- Turlang's Wood: This region was one place where the forest was continuing to expand due to the efforts of a band of treants.
- Grandfather Tree: This massive, spectacularly monumental oak, was actually an ancient arakhor treant, planted by the elves of Aryvandaar during the First Flowering to guard the Hall of Mists. It was a holy site to the Tree Ghost Uthgardt barbarians.
- Hellgate Dell: This landmark was once the fiendish stronghold of Hellgate Keep, and before that Ascalhorn. Although Turlang and the treants acted as stewards of the region, the grim fortress that stood before was ruled by the Ascalhi wizard Wulgreth.
- Karse: This settlement was built around the location where Karsus fell to Toril, following his brief ascension to godhood in −339 DR. It was ruled by the lich, and former Netherese arcanist Wulgreth.
- Shadowtop Cathedral: The massive shadowtop trees that composed this grove created a far-reaching canopy that allowed little sunlight to reach the forest floor. It was a vital meeting site for the Emerald Enclave during the 15th century.
- Legacy of the Green Regent, from the official Forgotten Realms website.
- Rand Sharpsword (December 2001). More High Forest, Savage Frontier, and Silver Marches! (HTML). Rand's Travelogue. Wizards of the Coast. Archived from the original on 2015-09-20. Retrieved on 2010-10-31.
- In The North: Guide to the Savage Frontier, the High Forest is recorded as being up to 500 miles across, and is considered the greatest forest in Faerûn, covering nearly 20% of the lands of what is called the "Savage Frontier". However in the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting, due to the 'squishing' of the original realms map, the High Forest is shown as being about 160 miles across.
- Ed Greenwood, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, Rob Heinsoo (June 2001). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 165. ISBN 0-7869-1836-5.
- Ed Greenwood (1993). Volo's Guide to the North. (TSR, Inc), p. 189. ISBN 1-5607-6678-6.
- Ed Greenwood, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, Rob Heinsoo (June 2001). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 166. ISBN 0-7869-1836-5.
- Jennell Jaquays (1988). The Savage Frontier. (TSR, Inc), p. 51. ISBN 0-88038-593-6.
- Jennell Jaquays (1988). The Savage Frontier. (TSR, Inc), p. 50. ISBN 0-88038-593-6.
- slade, James Butler (November 1996). Netheril: Empire of Magic (The Winds of Netheril). (TSR, Inc.), p. 12. ISBN 0-7869-0437-2.
- Richard Baker, Ed Bonny, Travis Stout (February 2005). Lost Empires of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 84. ISBN 0-7869-3654-1.
- Richard Baker, Ed Bonny, Travis Stout (February 2005). Lost Empires of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 90. ISBN 0-7869-3654-1.
- Ed Greenwood and Jason Carl (July 2002). Silver Marches. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 31. ISBN 0-7869-2835-2.
- Ed Greenwood and Jason Carl (July 2002). Silver Marches. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 28. ISBN 0-7869-2835-2.
- Steve Kenson, et al. (November 2015). Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide. Edited by Kim Mohan. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 86. ISBN 978-0-7869-6580-9.
- Richard Baker, Ed Bonny, Travis Stout (February 2005). Lost Empires of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 83. ISBN 0-7869-3654-1.
- Richard Baker, Ed Bonny, Travis Stout (February 2005). Lost Empires of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 85. ISBN 0-7869-3654-1.
- Ed Greenwood, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, Rob Heinsoo (June 2001). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 167. ISBN 0-7869-1836-5.
- Richard Baker (August 2004). Forsaken House. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 33. ISBN 0-7869-3260-0.
- Richard Baker, Ed Bonny, Travis Stout (February 2005). Lost Empires of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 91. ISBN 0-7869-3654-1.
- Map included in Bruce R. Cordell, Ed Greenwood, Chris Sims (August 2008). Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 978-0-7869-4924-3.
- Jennell Jaquays (1988). The Savage Frontier. (TSR, Inc), p. 46. ISBN 0-88038-593-6.
- Ed Greenwood, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, Rob Heinsoo (June 2001). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 169. ISBN 0-7869-1836-5.
- Jennell Jaquays (1988). The Savage Frontier. (TSR, Inc), p. 31. ISBN 0-88038-593-6.
- Richard Baker, Ed Bonny, Travis Stout (February 2005). Lost Empires of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 86. ISBN 0-7869-3654-1.
- slade, et al. (April 1996). “The Wilderness”. In James Butler ed. The North: Guide to the Savage Frontier (TSR, Inc.), p. 57. ISBN 0-7869-0391-0.
- Brian R. James, Ed Greenwood (September 2007). The Grand History of the Realms. Edited by Kim Mohan, Penny Williams. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 12. ISBN 978-0-7869-4731-7.
- Ed Greenwood, Eric L. Boyd, Darrin Drader (July 2004). Serpent Kingdoms. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 97. ISBN 0-7869-3277-5.
- Richard Baker, Ed Bonny, Travis Stout (February 2005). Lost Empires of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 98. ISBN 0-7869-3654-1.
- Christopher Perkins (September 6, 2016). Storm King's Thunder. Edited by Kim Mohan, Michele Carter. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 107. ISBN 978-0786966004.
- slade, et al. (April 1996). “The Wilderness”. In James Butler ed. The North: Guide to the Savage Frontier (TSR, Inc.), pp. 51, 56. ISBN 0-7869-0391-0.