The Second Sundering, also known as the Sundering of Toril and Abeir, was a great catastrophic event in the history of the worlds of Abeir and Toril, that took place during the decade of the 1480s DR.
When Ao the Overgod destroyed the Tablets of Fate at the conclusion of the Time of Troubles, he instigated the Era of Upheaval. The Tablets defined the laws of Realmspace and kept it relatively stable. Without them, chaos ensued and the worlds of Abeir and Toril, separated many thousands of years ago, slowly started to overlap. The Spellplague drastically sped up this process.
The Second Sundering started with Ao's decision to recreate the Tablets of Fate, and to separate the worlds of Abeir and Toril once more. The deities were unsure of what this would do to them and their power, and made efforts using their most powerful servants to prepare for that event.
The Second Sundering was somehow connected to the First Sundering that took place around −17,600 DR, when an elven High Magic ritual went both forward and backward in time to create Evermeet; and with a prehistoric cataclysm known as the Tearfall, that took place in −31,000 DR.
Known events[edit | edit source]
–17,600 DR[edit | edit source]
1482 DR[edit | edit source]
Abdel Adrian of Baldur's Gate, son of Bhaal, was attacked by his last remaining sibling, and as one slew the other, the Lord of Murder returned to life, reclaiming the portfolio of murder from Cyric.
1484 DR[edit | edit source]
Most of the gods created many Chosen among mortals, trying to gather as much power as possible to be as high in divine ranking as they could before Ao completed the new Tablets of Fate, sealing their status and portfolio. People started to claim they had been "chosen" by the gods and granted special powers, some apparently for "divine purposes" while others had no idea why. Meanwhile, both Telamont Tanthul of Thultanthar and Szass Tam of Thay ordered their forces to capture all the newly anointed Chosen they could to harvest their power.
In Mulhorand, the appearance of the Chosen allowed the old Mulhorandi pantheon to manifest again on Toril and to come to the aid of their people, who had become second-class citizens in High Imaskar, and believed they had once more been enslaved by their ancient masters, the Imaskari. With the aid of the wizard Nezram, the Mulhorandi started a rebellion.
The Sembian armies of Netheril marched on the Dalelands, conquering Archendale. The Sembians then blocked the road between Daerlun and Cormyr and massed all along the borders of the Dalelands. This led Cormyr to send an army to protect the Dalesfolk, while Netheril used the opportunity to assault Cormyr's borders.
Erevis Cale's son Vasen and his companions Orsin and Gerak were transported to Cania by Drasek Riven, where they freed Erevis from his one-hundred-year-long magical imprisonment. Mask then returned to the Realms through his Chosen, Riven, and acted to put an end to Shar's Cycle of Night. About a century before those events, she had ordered the opening of a planar rift to the Plane of Shadow over the city of Ordulin (destroying it), to create a whirlpool of shadowstuff that would have allowed her to finally destroy Toril. Her plan had failed due to being imprisoned there by Mask, but she had slowly managed to tear a hole in the whirlpool, coming close to fulfilling her goal. However, the conjoined efforts of Vasen Cale—who wielded the power of Amaunator—and of the returned Mask, closed the tear. The flying Netherese enclave of Sakkors that rested on top of the maelstrom crashed through the efforts of Magadon Kest in order to destroy the whirlpool itself. The Netherese princes Brennus Tanthul and Rivalen Tanthul, Shar's Nightseer, were killed by the falling city. Even though the shroud over Sembia remained, sunlight finally started to reach the surface through the cracks created by the destruction of Sakkors.
Meanwhile, the drow began to cloud the skies over the Silver Marches through a ritual known as the Darkening, preparing the battlefield for their sunlight-hating warriors. A large army of orcs and drow, supported by frost giants and white dragons, then assaulted the Silver Marches in the War of the Silver Marches. Nesmé was destroyed by an orc horde guided by Tiago Baenre riding the white dragon Arauthator. Sundabar was conquered by an orc army commanded by the warlord Hartusk and renamed Hartusk Keep.
A series of unusual natural disasters hit Faerûn, including an earthquake in Iriaebor, a plague of locusts in Amn, and droughts in the southern lands, leading to receding sea levels and increasing conflict.
1485 DR[edit | edit source]
The Chosen of Auril started a war with Ten-Towns in Icewind Dale, and was defeated. A rebellion of the subjugated Bedine people in Anauroch against their Netherese masters began when they saw that Netherese forces were spread thin due to shades' conflict with Cormyr.
Meanwhile, the War of the Silver Marches continued. The Battle of Midwinter took place in the Cold Vale between forces of Citadel Felbarr and Many-Arrows; the Battle of Silver Arrows took place in Luruar between an orc caravan of Many-Arrows and a group of Knights in Silver; and the orcs finally besieged Silverymoon. However, in Flamerule the siege was broken and the War of the Silver Marches ended, when Hartusk was defeated and the Darkening dispelled.
1486 DR[edit | edit source]
The "Great Rain" caused the waters to rise around the Sea of Fallen Stars, consuming much land, but it stopped by the end of the year. Earthmotes, once common across Toril after the Spellplague, began to drop from the sky, although not all of them fell. The earthmotes in the city of Airspur strangely resisted this effect, as well as some earthmotes in other areas, such as the Heart of Ubtao, in Chult.
The orcs of Many-Arrows were defeated, while Myth Drannor came to the aid of the Dalelands in their conflict against Netherese-controlled Sembia. The Arcane Brotherhood and Hosttower of the Arcane returned to power in Luskan. The Netherese besieged Arabel and Suzail, but Cormyr managed to repel both Netherese and Sembian forces by the end of the year, and Neverwinter and Waterdeep began to clear the rubble in their cities that had built up over a century of neglect.
Many of the Chosen prisoners of Netheril, aided by Harper agents, freed themselves from the special prison the shades had constructed for them amidst the Lost Peaks. Among them was Stedd Whitehorn, a young boy who had been chosen by Lathander. As the Morning Lord returned to the Realms during this year, he tasked Stedd with traveling across Faerûn and announcing his return. During Stedd's eventful travels, he attracted the attention of many foes, most notable among them the bluefire madness-affected god Nobanion. Subjugated by Malar, Nobanion was sent to capture the Chosen of Lathander, but the power of the young boy managed to heal the Lion God of the bluefire corruption instead. Grateful for his freedom, Nobanion accompanied Stedd on his path through the wilds of Gulthandor.
Meanwhile, a new plan of Shar threatened to bring the Shadowfell into the Realms via the Underchasm. Kleef Kenric, Chosen of the (presumed) dead god Helm, Lady Arietta Seasilver, Chosen of Siamorphe, and Joelle Emmeline, the Chosen of Sune, banded together to put an end to it. Prince Yder Tanthul was slain in battle against Kleef. Lady Arietta and her companions convinced the primordial Grumbar to remain in the Realms and block Shar's plan by filling the chasm with earth. Joelle sacrificed herself to seal the pact with Grumbar, and the Underchasm was filled in to its former borders before the Spellplague in the process. At the same time, Helm returned to the Realms due to the faith of his Chosen Kleef. Lady Seasilver, by then Grand Duchess of Marsember, and Kleef Kenric then returned home.
On Nightal, some places of Abeir that had been part of Toril in the last century and viceversa were restored to their original worlds. Unther was returned to Toril by this process. While in Abeir, Unther had succumbed to the domination of the creatures native to that world. However, a reincarnated Gilgeam had led his people against their new oppressors, until their land was shifted back to Toril. Once there, Gilgeam immediately went against the dragonborn of Tymanther to take back all of Unther's ancestral land, starting the First Tymanther-Unther War.
The Untherite god Enlil also returned to Toril on Nightal, but he chose the dragonborn as his new protégés instead of the Untherans, manifesting in the shape of one of them in the citadel-city of Djerad Thymar. It was Enlil who allowed most of Tymanther to remain in Toril, stopping the magic of the Sundering to some degree. Only the northern portion of Tymanther was sent to Abeir, and the dragonborn nation was consequently reduced to its southern territories around the Alamber Sea and the Ash Lake.
1487 DR[edit | edit source]
Stars reportedly fell from the sky, gods long thought dead walked the land and armies led by Chosen clashed everywhere. Major geological instability resulted in numerous earthquakes and volcanoes, as the worlds of Abeir and Toril were separated once again, and areas once consumed by large chasms were restored to their pre-Spellplague status. Ships arrived on the mainland continent from Evermeet, Halruaa, Lantan, and Nimbral—all realms previously thought lost to Toril.
Thanks to the efforts of Farideh, Chosen of Asmodeus, Kepeshkmolik Dumuzi, Chosen of Enlil, and the sacrifice of the War Wizard Ilstan Nyaril, Chosen of Azuth, the gods Asmodeus and Azuth became separate deities again. Due to a pact between Enlil and Asmodeus, the ancient Untherite god Nanna-Sin was resurrected as an immortal dragon turtle (instead of as a god). This allowed the dragonborn and their allies to win the Tymanther-Unther War with a decisive victory, and the Untherans were forced to flee from dragonborn lands, having retrieved just a few of their former territories.
Likewise, the Mulhorandi rebellion against the High Imaskari ended shortly thereafter, with a victory for the rebels. The defeated fled to the Plains of Purple Dust or to extra planar safeholds. After that, the Mulhorandi gods remained as the rulers of the Mulan people, retaining the Imaskari laws that prohibited slavery and ending that scourge that had long plagued the most ancient of the Old Empires.
In Marpenoth, Larloch started a plot to become the new deity of magic by draining the Wards of Candlekeep and the mythal of Myth Drannor. Meanwhile, Telamont Tanthul, who had become the Chosen of Shar, continued his work for the Lady of Loss, seeking to destroy the Chosen of the other deities, and also planning to drain the mythal of the City of Song. The goal was to use its power to transform the Weave into a new Shadow Weave. Intending to move the Shade enclave to Cormanthor and to use a ritual devised by Prince Draethren Tanthul, he hired mercenaries and monsters to support the Netherese forces, and sent agents to kill the baelnorns of Myth Drannor.
As the Netherese forces marched against Myth Drannor, a War Council comprised by high ranking officers from the armies of the elven city, Cormyr and their various other allies, decided to sent a group of powerful adventurers to stop various agents of Shar to disrupt her plans to create the new Shadow Weave, and as well as to stop the Order of Blue Fire, that wanted to use the chaos of the Sundering to create an eternal Spellplague.
Meanwhile, in an attempt to fully restore the goddess Mystra and the Weave, Elminster Aumar began his search for Khelben Arunsun's writings on the Weave, heading towards Candlekeep. Laeral and Alustriel Silverhand had also been hiding within the library: the two sisters' duty was to prepare their own destruction, so that no one could use their power to gain control over the Weave.
The power of the Wards had also attracted other factions to Candlekeep, and many—namely, the Red Wizards, the Netherese, and the Moonstars—had sent their agents, masquerading as monks, to keep an eye on them. When Elminster reached Candlekeep, the Netherese sleeper-agents attacked the other monks to gain control of the library, but a large number of them had already been replaced by agents of the other factions, leading to a battle for the Wards. Elminster managed to trick the Netherese by masquerading as High Prince Tanthul, but he, Laeral, and Alustriel were in turn tricked by Larloch, who pretended to wish to use the energies of the Wards to strengthen the Weave. Instead, the energies of the destroyed Wards were absorbed by the Shadow King, who then left for Myth Drannor, followed by the three Chosen of Mystra.
Meanwhile in Myth Drannor, Larloch, the Netherese, and the Chosen of Mystra (allied with the elves) clashed in a catastrophic battle. As Tanthul began the draining ritual, his Netherese forces launched an attack on Myth Drannor, and Larloch attacked the baelnorns to drain the ancient magic in their possession. During the battle, Prince Vattick Tanthul was slain by Dove Falconhand, who would then succumb to her own wounds, but not before having awakened the baelnorns of the tombs of Myth Drannor to defend their city and people. The Srinshee herself appeared to fight for Myth Drannor, ordering the baelnorns to protect the Tree of Souls, and sacrificed herself to wrest magical power from both Tanthul and Larloch, then used the Wards of Candlekeep and the mythal to strengthen the Weave.
Following the elusive members of the Order of Blue Fire, the adventurers eventually went to the Supreme Throne, where they released the mad god Cyric from his imprisonment and, helped by a weakened Mystra, destroyed the Order of Blue Fire and the power source of the Spellplague for good, restoring the Weave and the plane of Dweomerheart in the process.
As Elminster defeated Tanthul in a mage duel, the Netherese enclave crashed atop Myth Drannor. Elminster himself was saved by Mystra, who gained full control over the Weave once more, stopping Shar from turning it into a new Shadow Weave. The survivors of Myth Drannor, among them Coronal Ilsevele Miritar and her consort Fflar Starbrow, were rescued by the Srinshee (before she disappeared) and transported to Semberholme. While Thultanthar was destroyed, the barrier erected by the baelnorns around the Tree of Souls managed to save it and small parts of the city from destruction when the Netherese enclave crashed down atop it. Only the baelnorns remained in the ruins of Myth Drannor afterwards.
On the other hand, only a few Shadovar survived the fall of their city, among them the sisters Manarlume and Lelavdra Tanthul, and the arcanist Gwelt. They founded the 'Court of Three,' a society dedicated to saving the surviving Netherese of the Realms, hidden within one of the more intact towers in the Citadel of the Raven.
As 1487 DR came to a close, the Second Sundering ended with the full return of Mystra and the Weave, the separation of the worlds Abeir and Toril, and the final dissolution of the Spellplague.
Aftermath[edit | edit source]
After the Sundering, all the wars that started in its wake came to an end. In 1488 DR, the few remaining Netherese forces fought the Bedine over the Memory Spire, causing an emergence of the phaerimm. The League of Silver Marches disbanded in the aftermath of the war with the orcs, and Sembia dissolved into city-states. By the end of the Sundering, the world began to look very much alike to how it was during the 14th century DR, although preserving a few of the changes from the tumultuous Era of Upheaval.
Geographic changes[edit | edit source]
At the end of the Second Sundering, most of the consequences that the Spellplague had wrought upon Toril were nowhere to be seen. The majority of the earthmotes had fallen, the Sea of the Fallen Stars had returned to its pre-Spellplague volume, the Underchasm had been filled in, and nations and most of the lands that were sent to Abeir during the Spellplague had returned to Toril..
Halruaa, Lantan and Nimbral had returned to the Realms, and while Unther also returned, it did so in a more diminished form than before. However, some Abeiran lands and the new civilizations that arose in the century that followed the Spellplague still remained after the Sundering came to an end. Nations such as Tymanther and Akanûl remained in the Realms more or less in the way they were before the Sundering.
With the fall of Shade and the absence of the Netherese's sustaining magic, Anauroch's climate rapidly became arid once more, and the lands at the heart of Faerûn rapidly deteriorated and became a desert once more. The waters receded from Luiren, making the halfling homeland accessible again, although much of their territory was still under water. Evermeet was restored to Toril, and by the end of the Second Sundering it touched Toril, the Feywild and Arvandor all at the same time.
Changes to the Pantheon[edit | edit source]
Many deities previously presumed dead or missing managed to return to life (or to re-emerge) during the Second Sundering, and then to quickly amass new followers (or to win back their old faithful), and to reclaim at least some of their former portfolios (resulting in a new distribution of spheres of influence among the Faerûnian deities). Known examples were: Mystra, Helm, Mask, Lathander, Bhaal, all the previously lost Drow gods, Leira, Myrkul, Gilgeam, Enlil, and Nanna-Sin; all the Mulhorandi gods, Azuth, and Tyr, among others.
For others deities (like Shar) the Second Sundering resulted in a loss of power and influence. The Lady of Loss suffered greatly in the wake of the defeat of the Shadovar and the destruction of the city of Shade in the battle with the forces of Myth Drannor. Telamont Tanthul and most of the Princes of Shade were also killed, further weakening the goddess of darkness.
In 1488 DR, prayers to deities went unanswered, but their "Chosen" were still present. In 1489 DR, prayers to the gods began to be answered again, but the various deities withdrew their power and divine gifts from most of their "Chosen"; their purpose fulfilled. 
In Flamerule of the same year, Eilistraee and Vhaeraun fully reacquired the power that they had possessed before 1375 DR. They held their own old portfolios, and were separate entities. Eilistraee was still a drow goddess, as were most of their followers—not dark elves, despite a spell cast by Q'arlynd Melarn in 1379 DR),[note 1] but they managed to reach a reciprocal understanding, respect, and even a truce (although their followers still skirmished often.)
The Second Sundering brought significant changes to how the deities approached mortals. Many gods became "quieter" than before, causing the emergence of new priesthoods in an attempt to explain the different divine behaviour in the post-Sundering world. That, however, did not mean that deities no longer interacted directly with mortals. Mystra was still able to directly commune with her remaining Chosen, while Eilistraee and Vhaeraun personally announced their return to the Realms, manifesting through their avatars to their followers. Eilistraee, in particular, was seen dancing and speaking to mortals in many places, especially along the Sword Coast (including Waterdeep, where she was witnessed dancing under the walls of the city in 1491 DR). The Mulhorandi gods still ruled among their people, directly interacting with them like the god-kings of old. The Dead Three, greatly reduced in power, decided to remain on Toril, living as quasi-divine mortals, to spread the word of their return, gather more worshipers, and influence events in their favor. Bane led the trio in these efforts.
Cosmology Changes[edit | edit source]
After the Sundering, sages were unsure if there were changes to the cosmological order of the planes. Scholars came to the conclusion that the different cosmologies were just theoretical constructs created by mortals and not the true shape of the cosmos. By the late years of the 15th century DR, the most popular cosmological models among sages were the Great Wheel, the World Axis, and the World Tree models. The Great Wheel model remained the most commonly used of the three, but modified to include the planes discovered after the Spellplague, such as the Elemental Chaos, the Feywild and the Shadowfell.
Appendix[edit | edit source]
Elliandreth's Prophecy[edit | edit source]
The prophecy Elliandreth wrote was published in the novel series. Each stanza of the prophecy deals with the successive books in the series, with stanza 1 being about The Companions, stanza 2 about The Godborn, etc.
Development[edit | edit source]
The Sundering was to be described in a series of novels and game supplements planned for release in 2013 in anticipation of the newest version of the Dungeons & Dragons game, at the time known as D&D Next.
The first announcement of the Sundering came at Gen Con 2012. Wizards of the Coast called the event a "cataclysm." Forgotten Realms campaign setting creator Ed Greenwood described the event as "war, gods, and plain folks trying to get by." The novels and adventures were released in a staggered, overlapping fashion, and the collective results of players in their adventures were submitted to Wizards of the Coast, and influenced the stories in the novels. The result of the events, in game terms, was a simplified set of rules initially dubbed and playtested as D&D Next, but now commonly referred to as 5th Edition.
In the "Candlekeep Presents: 25 Years of the Forgotten Realms" seminar that was held at the same GenCon, it was clarified that the Sundering was developed to restore the Realms as the setting all fans knew and loved, while respecting the work of every author that had worked on the Realms over the years. And so, while they were ending the Spellplague, reviving gods and restoring the lands, among other things, they were not rebooting nor invalidating any canon iteration of the Realms. Likewise, individual DMs were encouraged to handle the Sundering, and other canonical events within the continuity as they see fit.
- The paring down of the deities in 4th Edition went too far, and they wanted to bring back some of the lost ones.
- In theory, you can still travel to Abeir from Toril and there are parts of Abeir that were never transposed back to Abeir.
- Gods have, to an extent, withdrawn from the world, ushering in a kind of 'Age of Mortals.' They are no longer speaking directly to most of their worshipers, instead sending signs and portents; e.g. In the Rise of Tiamat storyline, Tiamat's followers are doing all of the work to bring her onto the Material Plane, whereas before the Second Sundering, she likely would have sent an avatar to do some of the work.
- The ancient landmasses that have been mapped [on pg. 6 of the Grand History of the Realms] were "not different in a Pangea way" and were instead split by the First Sundering and the original separation of Abeir and Toril.
Novels[edit | edit source]
-  A series of novels explaining some among the events of the Sundering were released beginning in the second half of 2013 and concluding in june 2014:
- The Companions by R. A. Salvatore, featuring Drizzt Do'Urden
- The Godborn by Paul S. Kemp, featuring Vasen Cale
- The Adversary by Erin Evans, featuring Farideh
- The Reaver by Richard Lee Byers, featuring Anton Marivaldi
- The Sentinel by Troy Denning, featuring Kleef Kenric
- The Herald by Ed Greenwood, featuring Elminster
Adventures[edit | edit source]
As part of the D&D Next public playtest that led to Fifth Edition, a series of adventures were published exploring some of the other events, including the re-emergence of Bhaal, which was the first incident of the Sundering.
- Murder in Baldur's Gate, concerning the return of Bhaal, the God of Murder.
- Confrontation at Candlekeep, acting as a prequel to Ed Greenwood's The Herald novel.
- Ghosts of Dragonspear Castle, where the Red Wizard of Thay attempt to unlock the power of the Princes of Elemental Evil.
- Legacy of the Crystal Shard, presents Icewind Dale and the sinister influence of the Crystal Shard returning.
- Scourge of the Sword Coast, part one of the Dreams of the Red Wizards, features the Red Wizards of Thay working alongside the pit fiend Baazka.
- Dead in Thay, part two of the Dreams of the Red Wizards see the infiltration of the Doomvault, where the Thayans are experimenting on Chosen.
Likewise, the Living Forgotten Realms program released a series of modules known as the "Desolation series", dealing with events that happened during the war between Cormyr and Netheril.
Notes[edit | edit source]
- As said here, in answer to this question, only the following lines of text in the last reference are to be considered canon: "After Flamerule 1489, Vhaeraun and Eilistraee are separate deities with the same powers and portfolios they had before 1375, but a new understanding, respect, and even friendship for each other. Some of their followers still war with each other, but the two deities do not. Thus far, Eilistraee’s teachings after the Sundering are the same as before the Sundering"
References[edit | edit source]
- Kim Mohan ed. (2015). Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 17–18. ISBN 978-0786965809.
- Christopher Perkins, James Haeck, James Introcaso, Adam Lee, Matthew Sernett (September 2018). Waterdeep: Dragon Heist. Edited by Jeremy Crawford. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 167. ISBN 978-0-7869-6625-7.
- Warning: edition not specified for The Herald
- Kim Mohan ed. (2015). Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 17. ISBN 978-0786965809.
- Ed Greenwood, Erin M. Evans, Paul S. Kemp, R.A. Salvatore, Richard Lee Byers, Troy Denning, James Wyatt (August 21th, 2012). What is the Sundering? (Part 1). Retrieved on September 7th, 2017.
- Paul S. Kemp (2012-08-20). The Sundering. Retrieved on 2016-12-13.
- See the prologue of each novel in The Sundering (series).
- Ed Greenwood, Matt Sernett, Steve Winter (August 20, 2013). Murder in Baldur's Gate. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 0-7869-6463-4.
- Ed Greenwood/The Hooded One (2015-02-13). Questions for Ed Greenwood (2015). Candlekeep Forum.
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