Melvaunt (pronounced: /ˈmɛlvɒntMELL-vont[6]), also known as the City of Swords, was a frontier city that sat on the northern coast of the Moonsea, in the Moonsea North region of north Faerûn. It was a city of smithing and mercantile services, as well as factories[7] serving as the port of entry to many travelers coming to the region. [8][9]

Description[edit | edit source]

Of course I'm sure that we're approaching Melvaunt. I'd know that smell anywhere!"
— Orgil, captain of the Devawing.[5]

Melvaunt was a cold and severe city, beneath the oppressive clouds of heavy smoke that constantly billowed from its many manufactories.[2] Beneath the smoke in the sky and fog that came up from the sea, Melvaunt appeared as if were lit by several hundred points of light. These lights were actually the fires of city' great many forges and Realms-renowned smithies that continued to produce weapons during all hours. There was no natural vegetation found within the walls of the great industrial city, and it reeked wit the stench of burning coal and molten slag. While either of these facts were unpleasant enough, their combination created an atmosphere ever-pervasive gloom and misery.[4][5][9][10]

The city was was home to a select few noble families, each of whom exerted their control over the city's ruling council,[2] forming a delicate web of social rivalries and political intrigue.[11]

Geography[edit | edit source]

A map of Melvaunt and the surrounding area, circa 1480 DR

Melvaunt was situated on the norther shores of Moonsea lake, in the appropriately named Moonsea North region of the Realms.[12] It was located at the point where the Tormel River opened up into the the sea's northern shores, east of the Bay of Phlan and south of the Moonwatch Hills.[13]

A number of roads and trails connected Melvaunt to other nearby settlements. The Phlan Path extended west from the city to Phlan, a long trail wound north through the lands of Thar towards Glister, and the Sword Trail went east along the coast towards Thentia.[13]

Government[edit | edit source]

A Council of Lords ruled over the city of Melvaunt, though they were more often concerned with affairs that could line their coffers. All members were required to be merchants of some kind and vacant seats could be purchased for at least 100,000 gp while a new one could be created starting at a sum of 2,000,000 gp. As of the late 1360s DR, the Nanther, Leiyraghon, and Bruil noble families held all 21 of the council's seats.[14][2][note 1]

Four positions in the council had more influence than others. The Lord Chancellor was Chairman of the Council, Treasurer and also Last Speaker. The First Envoy was the Council's First Speaker and Diplomat. The Lord of the Keys was the General of Melvaunt's army while the Lord of the Waves was the Admiral of it's navy and Chief Inspector of the city's docks. Below these four lords, all of the others were theoretically equal in influence. The lords met once a month to discuss issues but these meetings could last up to five days depending on the importance of the topics being discussed and the power plays made by council members.[15]

The council did not tax its citizens like most governments, instead, the treasury was filled by taxes on every single transaction made; taxes on the mooring of ships in the city's harbor; and taxes on every conveyance entering through the city's gates as well as state seizures of property. The lack of state taxation ensured the Council's popularity with the citizenry, despite near-constant infighting and jockeying for better position.[16]

Law & Order[edit | edit source]

Crime ran rampant through Melvaunt, as the city's nobles were far more concerned with their financial interests than the Melvauntian citizens. As of the late 14th century, the city guard was not given nearly enough resources to successfully maintain order and penalized criminals, unless of course they targeted a member of the nobility.[1]

Trade[edit | edit source]

If it's not in Melvaunt, you don't need it.
— Common saying in the city.[5][17]

Melvaunt was famous for two business, industry and mercantilism.[9][4] The city's blacksmiths and craftspeople were among the most skilled in the Realms. They were provided with a wealth of raw materials from the Melvaunt's mining interests, located in the White Peaks mountain range north of the Ride,[18] and in the eastern slopes of the Dragonspines.[19]

Guilds held much of the power within the city, primarily through legitimate trade but also as a front for criminal organizations. This caused many foreign traders to become apprehensive about underpricing the local merchants.[9] Important guilds owned by the three noble families included the Metalworkers Guild, the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Shipwrights,[15] the Jewelers Guild, and the Council of Silversmiths.[1]

Ships from Melvaunt constantly traded goods to Mulmaster and Hillsfar, where they could be more efficiently distributed around the region. Legitimate trade with Zhentil Keep was dangerous and rare,[12] but the black market was alive and well.[20] That being said, the city did employ inspectors to work its docks. Due to the need of such measures, these inspectors were equipped with magical items that spewed fire for use if trouble arose on visiting ships.[17]

As well as the cities primary exports of worked metal goods, Melvaunt was also a popular stop for those interested in the purchase of slaves,[17] from groups like the Crimson Chain slaving company[21]. The slave trade was tolerated by the citizenry due to fears of the involvement of powerful wizards in the business. This fear was somewhat valid, as Zhentarim agents were surreptitiously replacing Melvaunt's own slavers, at least as of the late 1360s DR.[22]

Defenses[edit | edit source]

Melvaunt had a curtain wall surrounding it,[2] wide enough for armed patrols of five men to march atop, which they did night and day.[citation needed]

The Melvauntian army doubled as the city guard and was kept at a steady number of five thousand trained men,[2][5] wearing plate mail and carrying numerous weapons including a pole arm and sword.[17] They were easily identified by their purple cloaks and matching armbands, and the silver sword-and-anchor badges they wore.[2] As of the mid–14th century, the malicious Halmuth Bruil served as the Master of Keys,[2][16] while Abarel Stendale served as the general of the army,[17] before being demoted the captain of the City Guard.[1]

Meldonder Nurian was admiral in charge of Melvaunt's navy - While it was small, consisting of between twelve and twenty ships of varying sizes, it was continuously being upgraded and operated with great efficacy.[2] The ships were given powerful names, such as the warship known as The Thunderer or the two cruisers, Dawn Warrior and Dusk Smasher.[17] Old ships were sold when they became too outdated.[2]

Adventurers were welcome to hire on as mercenaries for the ruling nobles and as long-range troubleshooters when threats arose from the Moonsea, Zhentil Keep, or Thar.[1] The Council had also proven amenable to hiring entire mercenary armies from Hillsfar if they felt suitably threatened.[citation needed]

History[edit | edit source]

Melvaunt's recorded history was primarily one of conflict with creatures from Thar and forces out of Zhentil Keep. In the Year of the Queen's Tears, 902 DR, Melvaunt was drawn into a battle between it's ally Phlan and Zhentil Keep, who had invaded part of Phlan. Melvaunt's navy drove off the Zhentilar invaders but the allies were steadily beaten by the Zhentilar in the resulting four-year-long war. Just as defeat seemed inevitable, the creation of Shadowdale to the south distracted the Zhentilar enough that they abandoned the war and bullied both Phlan and Melvaunt into signing the Treaty of the Ride in the Year of the Plough, 906 DR, and form the Triple Alliance.[23][24]

Around the Year of Bright Dreams, 1261 DR, orcs out of Thar stormed Melvaunt's outposts among other settlements surrounding their territory. Zhentil Keep (who had arranged the orc attacks in the first place) pushed the tuskers back in an effort to regain support from their neighbors so they could be better persuaded to help fortify the Citadel of the Raven. Melvaunt was one of eight Moonsea powers who fell for this ploy, sending warriors and construction crews to secure and strengthen the massive fortress in the Year of the Crumbling Keep, 1276 DR.[25]

Melvaunt refused to send aid when Plan was attacked by the ogres of Thar inn the Year of the Evening Sun, 1303 DR, and its allied city to be overrun. Melvaunt itself was then attacked by the same horde, but fared better, managing to survive the assault despite Zhentarim agents assisting the ogres.[26] Three years later, Melvaunt was involved in the Moonsea War against Mulmaster, helping to defeat Mulmaster and free the River Lis up so they could again trade with the realms surrounding the Sea of Fallen Stars.[27][28][29]

During the 1340s, Zhentil Keep and Mulmaster both tried to pit the other Moonsea powers against each other, spurring assassinations and arson attacks in each other's ports. It all culminated in the Battle of Lisen Sands in 1346 DR when Mulmaster again tried to blockade the Lis. Melvaunt eagerly sent it's fleet out to vent it's frustrations against the architects of its recent troubles.[citation needed]

Melvaunt narrowly avoided a direct attack from the Zhentarim in the Year of the Bright Blade, 1347 DR, thanks to forewarning from Phlanite scouts and the refusal of the Zhentarim's orc mercenaries to redirect their attack via Thar.[30] Eight years later, adventuring diviners gave advance warning of the Zhentarim betrayal at the Citadel of the Raven, allowing Melvaunt to save their troops from walking into a trap.[31] Lord Rather, who was Chancellor at the time, declared an official end to the Triple Alliance forced upon the city by the Treaty of the Ride and banned the Zhentilar from Melvaunt. A reprisal was organized by the Zhentilar as Melvaunt's army marched home, but hired mercenaries from Hillsfar surrounded the Zhents before they could reach Melvaunt's walls.[citation needed]

In the Year of the Worm, 1356 DR, Melvaunt was embarrassed when it was discovered that one of its own, Lyran Nanther, was a lieutenant of the Zhentarim agent Jyordhan and had him executed when he returned, defeated, from a failed invasion of Shadowdale. Around the same time, Melvaunt began building a large military fleet, more than sixty ships strong, all of which appear to have been destroyed two months later when a dragon split off from the Dragon Run and temporarily conquered the city, ruining a significant portion of it. Rather than rebuilding the city when the dragon left, the Council of Lords began rebuilding the fleet instead.[citation needed] The following year, the fleet was involved in a disastrous three-way naval battle with Zhentil Keep and Mulmaster.[32] Immediately afterward, it became apparent that Lord Orm had absconded with the city's treasury to an estate outside of Zhentil Keep, where he was considered the ruler of Melvaunt in absentia by the Zhents. Civil war followed as the most powerful merchant families tried to install their own members in Orm's vacant seat.

The spring of the Year of the Shield, 1367 DR saw unusual cold weather compared to the warmth experienced by neighboring cities. Firewood came to be in great demand and reinforced the public's disapproval of the worship of Auril.[33]

As of the Year of Wild Magic, 1372 DR, Melvaunt had formed an alliance with nearby Thentia, for mutual defense against Zhentil Keep and Hillsfar.[34] When the experience and influential Lord Envoy Dundeld Nanther died some time around that year or next, a power vacuum formed in Melvaunt that threatened to spark another civil war between the noble families to fill Dundeld's empty seat.[1] The Leiyraghons cancelled all of their annual public events and doubled the guard presence on their property; the Nanthers themselves entered a period of mourning while the Bruils, already in control of the city's army, also upgraded the equipment of their private guards in a clear show of their intent to fill the Lord Envoy's seat with one of their own.[15] Meanwhile, nobles from other cities also made attempts to purchase the seat, many such offers were refused out of hand by the rest of the Council.[35]

After the Shadowbane War in the Year of the Vindicated Warrior, 1383 DR,[36] between the Zhentarim and Netheril, Melvaunt struck a fragile pact with Myth Drannor to curb Netheril's power on the Moonsea.[37]

Notable Locations[edit | edit source]

City map of Melvaunt, circa 1373 DR

Landmarks
Homes
Inns and taverns
Shops
Shrines and Temples

Inhabitants[edit | edit source]

You're seeking a good deal in Melvaunt? I think you're better off looking for a happy man in Thay, my friend! The greatest merchants in the Realms are inside these walls and they're selling the best merchandise.

The nearly 40,000 residents of Melvaunt were a hostile and callous population compared to those from some other cities.[2] As a testament to its commercial success, nearly one quarter of Melvauntians were earned their living as miners, seamen, or merchants of some kind or another.[4]

Notable Inhabitants[edit | edit source]

Appendix[edit | edit source]

Notes[edit | edit source]

  1. According to page 67 of FRCS2e - Grand Tour of the Realms the council had 39 seats. While that sourcebook is set in the same year as The Moonsea accessory, in this instance the information from the most-recent book is used.

Further Reading[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 1.9 Thomas M. Reid, Sean K. Reynolds, Darrin Drader, Wil Upchurch (June 2006). Mysteries of the Moonsea. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 10. ISBN 0-7869-3915-X.
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 2.16 Ed Greenwood, Julia Martin, Jeff Grubb (1993). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 2nd edition (revised), A Grand Tour of the Realms. (TSR, Inc), p. 67. ISBN 1-5607-6617-4.
  3. Ed Greenwood (August 1992). “The Everwinking Eye: Words To The Wise”. In Jean Rabe ed. Polyhedron #74 (TSR, Inc.), p. 14–15.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 John Terra (January 1995). “Reference Guide”. In Allison Lassieur ed. The Moonsea (TSR, Inc.), p. 27. ISBN 978-0786900923.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 5.7 5.8 5.9 John Terra (January 1995). “Player's Guide”. In Allison Lassieur ed. The Moonsea (TSR, Inc.), p. 13. ISBN 978-0786900923.
  6. Jeff Grubb, Ed Greenwood and Karen S. Martin (1987). Forgotten Realms Campaign Set (Cyclopedia of the Realms). (TSR, Inc), p. 60. ISBN 0-8803-8472-7.
  7. Will Doyle (2015-08-01). Blood Above, Blood Below (DDEP3) (PDF). D&D Adventurers League: Rage of Demons (Wizards of the Coast), p. 16.
  8. Thomas M. Reid, Sean K. Reynolds (2006-06-07). Mysteries of the Moonsea Excerpt 2. Excerpts. Wizards of the Coast. Retrieved on 2007-03-17.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 Thomas M. Reid, Sean K. Reynolds, Darrin Drader, Wil Upchurch (June 2006). Mysteries of the Moonsea. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 9. ISBN 0-7869-3915-X.
  10. John Terra (January 1995). “Player's Guide”. In Allison Lassieur ed. The Moonsea (TSR, Inc.), p. 24. ISBN 978-0786900923.
  11. John Terra (January 1995). “Player's Guide”. In Allison Lassieur ed. The Moonsea (TSR, Inc.), p. 14. ISBN 978-0786900923.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 Thomas M. Reid, Sean K. Reynolds, Darrin Drader, Wil Upchurch (June 2006). Mysteries of the Moonsea. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 8. ISBN 0-7869-3915-X.
  13. 13.0 13.1 Brian R. James (April 2010). “Realmslore: Vaasa”. In Chris Youngs ed. Dungeon #177 (Wizards of the Coast), p. 81.
  14. Thomas M. Reid, Sean K. Reynolds, Darrin Drader, Wil Upchurch (June 2006). Mysteries of the Moonsea. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 10. ISBN 0-7869-3915-X.
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 15.4 15.5 15.6 15.7 15.8 Thomas M. Reid, Sean K. Reynolds, Darrin Drader, Wil Upchurch (June 2006). Mysteries of the Moonsea. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 11. ISBN 0-7869-3915-X.
  16. 16.0 16.1 {{Cite book/The Moonsea/Reference Guide|28}
  17. 17.00 17.01 17.02 17.03 17.04 17.05 17.06 17.07 17.08 17.09 17.10 17.11 17.12 17.13 {{Cite book/The Moonsea/Reference Guide|29}
  18. 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.
  19. Ed Greenwood, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, Rob Heinsoo (June 2001). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 159. ISBN 0-7869-1836-5.
  20. Thomas M. Reid, Sean K. Reynolds (2006-06-07). Mysteries of the Moonsea Excerpt 2. Excerpts. Wizards of the Coast. Retrieved on 2007-03-17.
  21. Richard Baker (May 2008). Swordmage. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 0786947881.
  22. Kevin Melka and John Terra (April 1995). Ruins of Zhentil Keep (Campaign Book). (TSR, Inc), p. 45. ISBN 0-7869-0109-8.
  23. Brian R. James, Ed Greenwood (September 2007). The Grand History of the Realms. Edited by Kim Mohan, Penny Williams. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 110. ISBN 978-0-7869-4731-7.
  24. Kevin Melka and John Terra (April 1995). Ruins of Zhentil Keep (Campaign Book). (TSR, Inc), p. 28. ISBN 0-7869-0109-8.
  25. Brian R. James, Ed Greenwood (September 2007). The Grand History of the Realms. Edited by Kim Mohan, Penny Williams. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 128. ISBN 978-0-7869-4731-7.
  26. Kevin Melka and John Terra (April 1995). Ruins of Zhentil Keep (Campaign Book). (TSR, Inc), p. 29. ISBN 0-7869-0109-8.
  27. Brian R. James, Ed Greenwood (September 2007). The Grand History of the Realms. Edited by Kim Mohan, Penny Williams. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 134. ISBN 978-0-7869-4731-7.
  28. {{Cite book/The Moonsea/Reference Guide|54}
  29. Kevin Melka and John Terra (April 1995). Ruins of Zhentil Keep (Campaign Book). (TSR, Inc), p. 17. ISBN 0-7869-0109-8.
  30. Kevin Melka and John Terra (April 1995). Ruins of Zhentil Keep (Campaign Book). (TSR, Inc), p. 19. ISBN 0-7869-0109-8.
  31. Kevin Melka and John Terra (April 1995). Ruins of Zhentil Keep (Campaign Book). (TSR, Inc), p. 20. ISBN 0-7869-0109-8.
  32. Kevin Melka and John Terra (April 1995). Ruins of Zhentil Keep (Campaign Book). (TSR, Inc), p. 30. ISBN 0-7869-0109-8.
  33. Ed Greenwood, Julia Martin, Jeff Grubb (1993). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 2nd edition (revised), Running the Realms. (TSR, Inc), p. 20. ISBN 1-5607-6617-4.
  34. Ed Greenwood, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, Rob Heinsoo (June 2001). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 163. ISBN 0-7869-1836-5.
  35. Thomas M. Reid, Sean K. Reynolds, Darrin Drader, Wil Upchurch (June 2006). Mysteries of the Moonsea. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 17. ISBN 0-7869-3915-X.
  36. Brian R. James and Matt James (September 2009). “Monument of the Ancients”. In Chris Youngs ed. Dungeon #170 (Wizards of the Coast), p. 65.
  37. Bruce R. Cordell, Ed Greenwood, Chris Sims (August 2008). Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide. Edited by Jennifer Clarke Wilkes, et al. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 150. ISBN 978-0-7869-4924-3.
  38. 38.0 38.1 38.2 38.3 38.4 38.5 38.6 38.7 38.8 {{Cite book/The Moonsea/Reference Guide|31}
  39. 39.0 39.1 39.2 {{Cite book/The Moonsea/Reference Guide|30}
  40. 40.0 40.1 Thomas M. Reid, Sean K. Reynolds, Darrin Drader, Wil Upchurch (June 2006). Mysteries of the Moonsea. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 24. ISBN 0-7869-3915-X.
  41. 41.0 41.1 41.2 41.3 41.4 Thomas M. Reid, Sean K. Reynolds, Darrin Drader, Wil Upchurch (June 2006). Mysteries of the Moonsea. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 12. ISBN 0-7869-3915-X.
  42. Thomas M. Reid, Sean K. Reynolds, Darrin Drader, Wil Upchurch (June 2006). Mysteries of the Moonsea. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 21. ISBN 0-7869-3915-X.
  43. Thomas M. Reid, Sean K. Reynolds, Darrin Drader, Wil Upchurch (June 2006). Mysteries of the Moonsea. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 17. ISBN 0-7869-3915-X.
  44. 44.0 44.1 44.2 44.3 Thomas M. Reid, Sean K. Reynolds, Darrin Drader, Wil Upchurch (June 2006). Mysteries of the Moonsea. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 13. ISBN 0-7869-3915-X.
  45. 45.0 45.1 Thomas M. Reid, Sean K. Reynolds, Darrin Drader, Wil Upchurch (June 2006). Mysteries of the Moonsea. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 14. ISBN 0-7869-3915-X.
  46. Ed Greenwood, Julia Martin, Jeff Grubb (1993). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 2nd edition (revised), A Grand Tour of the Realms. (TSR, Inc), p. 69. ISBN 1-5607-6617-4.
  47. Ed Greenwood (January 1996). Volo's Guide to the Dalelands. (TSR, Inc), p. 150. ISBN 0-7869-0406-2.
  48. Jeff Grubb and Ed Greenwood (1990). Forgotten Realms Adventures. (TSR, Inc), p. 125. ISBN 0-8803-8828-5.
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