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The Sword Coast, also nicknamed the Empty Lands,[1] was the region in western Faerûn that lay along the coast of the Sea of Swords[1] and extended inward into to the vale.[8]

Description[]

The Sword Coast was an expansive tract of wilderness,[1] dotted with independent cities and overrun by bands of monstrous creatures,[9][10] that some saw as merely a place through which you had to travel in order to reach an actual meaningful destination.[1] It was much more than that of course, a rich and vibrant land with a long and storied history[11] that encompassed some of the most important cities in all the Realms.[1]

It was considered one of the rougher locales of Faerûn, both geographically and by virtue of its people.[12]

Etymology[]

Some say the Sword Coast took its name from the white cliffs that rose up sharply for hundreds of miles along the coastline between the River Dessarin and Baldur's Gate.[9] Traveling author Volothamp Geddarm attributed the region's name to its dangerous inhabitants, both humanoid and bestial.[1]

Geography[]

While scholars disagreed as to the exact borders of the Sword Coast,[12] it was generally considered to have been bordered by the merchant nation of Amn in the south,[1] and in the north by Waterdeep the Delimbiyr Vale.[1][9][13] Some guides considered it to begin south at Candlekeep and continued all the way north until the city of Luskan,[12][14] though most other cartographers and writers shared the former opinion on the matter,[1] designating the coastal lands north of Waterdeep as the separate Sword Coast North.[15][16]

Geographical Features[]

The landscape of the coastal lands varied from the verdant fields along much the Coast Way to the dangerous badlands found north of the Chionthar.[17]

The River Chionthar was vital to trade all throughout the Western Heartlands, linking the great port of Baldur's Gate with other inland cities including Elturel, Iriaebor, Berdusk, and the ever-important Caravan City of the West, Scornubel.[9]

Bodies of Water[]

Forests[]

  • Cloak Wood, an old and overgrown forest was home to many fearsome monsters, malevolent fey, and portals linking it to other locales across the continent.[22][23]
  • Trollbark Forest, the dense and overgrown forest that – as it's name suggested – were infested with trolls.[9]

Hills & Mountains[]

  • Sword's Teeth, the precarious sheer cliffside that lined the coast for miles upon miles.[24]
  • Troll Hills, a collection of hills south of the similarly forest that remained an extension of shared territory of the troll tribes.[9]
  • Trollclaws, a grouping of hills that held within it many monstrous creatures including the horrific tall mouthers, along with even more trolls.[9]
  • Wild Hills, the stretch of barren land south of Daggerford.[25]

Flora & Fauna[]

Because much of the coastland was still relatively untamed wilderness, it was rich with game: rabbits and fowl including grouse, bustards, and rock doves, could be hunted in abundance.[17]

Government[]

Both Baldur's Gate and Daggerford were active members of the Lords' Alliance as of the late 15th century.

While there was no central government of the Sword Coast, both Daggerford[26] and Baldur's Gate were member-states of the Lords' Alliance. Each of these cities enjoyed a degree of increased security and lawfulness, benefits that accompanied membership in the coalition of the West.[27]

Law & Order[]

An agreement known as "the Pact" offered protection for those traveling across the Coast Way, a responsibility shared among the settlements from Baldur's Gate all the way south to Amn.[17]

Much of the lands beyond the trade roads and away from the influence of the coast's cities were considered mostly lawless. Like many similar places in the realms, bandits, monstrous creatures, and raiders were considered to be regular threats.[17]

Society[]

The spirit of the Sword Coast was one that comprised the shared traits of its people and their ancestors: courage, resourcefulness, and a resolute sense of self-determination.[28]

Culture[]

Venues and festivals across the Sword Coast often hosted tableaux, plays in which motionless performers reenacted historical scenes to live music backing. While they were known by several other names, they often featured provocative wardrobing for their actors.[29]

Common among other live performances, often referred to as the "good old plays", was the character Old Duiwin, a wily peasant from the backcountry. Current jokes and political commentary were updated in these kinds of plays as the years went on.[29]

Trade[]

Unfinished bloodstone gems were regularly used as currency throughout the Sword Coast, especially by mercenaries.[30]

Beyond the shared protection offered by various alliances and nations, the cities of the Sword Coast were bound together by their shared common interest in successful commerce.[3]

Powerful financial and mercantile organizations operated throughout the Sword Coast, including the Merchant's League of Baldur's Gate,[31] the High Moon Trading Coster, the Seven Suns Trading Coster, and the Iron Throne among others.[32][33] The Sword Coast Traders' Bank of Daggerford allowed traveling merchants to deposit their accumulated wealth at a single location, for safe-keeping during their travels along the coast, and withdrawal the same amount at either city of Baldur's Gate or Waterdeep.[34][35]

Defenses[]

While the Lords' Alliance provided some shared defense of the northern coastlands,[36] and the Baldurian Flaming Fist protected the city's interests beyond its walls,[37] much of the Sword Coast and its residents living away from the central trading routes were left to seek out aid or defend themselves from the region's many threats,[38][39][40] while travelers of appropriate means were encouraged to hire personal guards or adventurers.[1]

History[]

Tens of thousands of years before the Era of Upheaval, the Sword Coast was dominated by the ancient elven kingdom of Illefarn.[41][42]

During the Age of the Proud Peoples,circa -4974 DR, the dwarven realm of Haunghdannar emerged as a power of the Sword Coast. It remained active for over 1500 years before rapidly falling into decline for reasons lost to time.[43]

The elves of land secured a great victory against the orc hordes when they routed the armies of Gluthtor in the Year of the Shattered Skulls, 225 DR.[44]

Delimbiyran the Kingdom of Man arose within the northern lands of the Sword Coast[45] during the early 6th century DR. It continued for nearly two hundred years until the Year of the Triton's Horn, 697 DR, when riots broke out across the cities, subsequently leading to the martyrdom of the Sharran priestess Lalondra and the assassination of King Davyd.[46][47] The kingdom's dissolution saw the formation of numerous lesser realms and the founding of new cities and settlements.[45]

A devastating plague spread throughout the Sword Coast in the Year of the Scourge, 1150 DR. Worship of Talona soared in the wake of the disaster.[48]

14th Century[]

The people of the Sword suffered years of strife during the onset of the Era of Upheaval. The First Dragonspear War broke out in the Year of the Worm, 1356 DR, and saw the armies of Waterdeep and Baldur's Gate fighting back against goblinoid and fiendish forces that poured out from a portal beneath Dragonspear Castle.[49][50] Interestingly enough, this conflict led to a swell in the tiefling population in the region.[5]

The Second Dragonspear War broke out a mere seven years later, following the Realms-wide catastrophe of the year-long Time of Troubles. The battles of this conflict far eclipsed the first, calling to arms a coalition of united dwarves, elves, soldiers from Daggerford, along with Waterdhavian forces,[51] some of whom fought in the first Dragonspear conflict.[52] For two years[53] the people of the Sword Coast were forced to defend themselves from the forces of the Nine Hells in battles across their homeland and even at the gates of their cities.[54] The losses were much greater than before however; many of the coasts' people suffered great loss and the collective trauma took its toll on many.[52]

While the Sword Coast enjoyed a brief reprieve for a few years, the ever-looming threat of war arose again in the Year of the Banner, 1368 DR. The organization known as the Iron Throne manipulated the availability and quality of iron, while simultaneously hiring bandits to ambush any caravans bearing iron or weapon shipments, in a series of events that came to be known as the Iron Crisis. These events were revealed to be a piece the political machinations of the charismatic Iron Throne leader Sarevok Anchev and were put to a stop before the year's end.[32]

Before the end of the year, war and chaos did finally erupt for the third time in less than a decade and a half. The charismatic aasimar paladin Caelar Argent raised the Shining Crusade army and marched her followers to the ruins of Dragonspear Castle, claiming she could bring back the souls of those that died in the previous wars. Innocent bystanders fled from small towns and farmlands along the crusade's path of conquest and sought safety from nearby cities and fortifications. The profound migration of people created a refugee crisis in the fortified city Baldur's Gate. Caelar Argent's crusade was finally put to an end at the decisive battle at Dragonspear Castle, when Caelar Argent and a group of adventurers entered into the Nine Hells themselves.[52]

15th Century[]

Circa the early 1470s DR, a movement to resurrect the glory of ancient Illefarn emerged among the wood elf communities along the coast. These efforts were led by Alagarthas, the son of King Melandrach of the Misty Forest.[55]

Rumors & Legends[]

While the great many tall-tales, local rumors and gossip,[56] hushed political murmurs,[57] and awe-inspiring legends that permeated the Sword Coast were far too many to list, they could often be found for a few coins at the many inns and taverns across its lands.[32]

Several guidebooks detailing the Sword Coast have been written over the years, including numerous volumes of the the Traveler's Guides and the infamous Volo's Guidebook series.[58]

Notable Locations[]

Landmarks[]

Dragonspear Castle was among the more infamous ruins found along the Sword Coast.

Ruins[]

Settlements[]

Major Cities[]

  • Baldur's Gate, the port metropolis nicknamed "the Gate" was the hub of trade for the Sword Coast,[9][64] that by 15th century DR, had become one of the most densely populated and influential cities in all of Faerûn.[3][65]
  • Beregost, a large trading town a day's travel off the Coast Way, was a popular stopping point for merchants traveling between Amn and the Gate[66] that became a major mercantile center in the region.[67]
  • Daggerford, a small, walled duchy that was surrounded by a number of farming villages.[68] Although it was ruled by a lone head of state, a Duke or Duchess, its daily operations were overseen by its Council of Guilds.[69]

Smaller Settlements[]

The Friendly Arm inn run by the delightful gnomish couple Gellana and Bentley Mirrorshade.

  • Bowshot: A small village, just a "bow's shot" away from the Misty Forest, built around a series of caverns that were believed to connect further deep beneath Faerûn.[70]
  • Candlekeep, this citadel of learning that once housed the famous oracle Alaundo was home to the safe-keepers of knowledge known as the Avowed, an order of monks offered wisdom and learning of its libraries, to those that could afford admittance.[67]
  • Friendly Arm Inn, this safe refuge for Coast Way travelers housed the Temple of Wisdom, a shrine to the gnomish deity, Garl Glittergold.[71]
  • Gillian's Hill, a small and rather unremarkable farming hamlet, whose only notable claim was that it held an entrance to the Underdark.[72]
  • Julkoun, the village previously known as "Shining" featured a great shrine to the Earthmother Chauntea.[73]
  • Kheldrivver, a minor hamlet founded by a mercenary atop the ruins of the repeatedly-destroyed House of the Binder monastery of Oghma.[74]
  • Lathtarl's Lantern, this small fishing village was founded by pirates just a bit too close to the Warlock's Crypt for the comfort of most.[75]
  • Liam's Hold, a welcoming and friendly village that enjoyed a profound swell in population after being featured in a guidebook penned by the notoriously-inaccurate author Volothamp Geddarm.[76][77]
  • Orlumbor, a city situated on an island just of the coast with the reputation of housing the most-skilled shipwrights in all the Realms.[78]
  • Roaringshore, the coastal village that only managed to keep in business two establishments throughout its repeated raids by nearby mercenary companies.[79]
  • Ulgoth's Beard, a community of humble fishers[80] that was once infiltrated by a cult dedicated to a powerful nabassu.[81]

Roads[]

Inhabitants[]

Individuals[]

More individualistic types on the Sword Coast, like the corsairs found contentment carving out fame and fortune, in their case at the high seas just beyond the coastlands.[83] Alternately, the lands' rangers were often among the most helpful folks of the Sword Coast, assisting travelers and settlers survive within its often-harsh landscape.[84] Those adventurers fortunate enough to retire from the life could often be found living second lives as crafters or tradespeople.[85]

Organizations[]

As a result of the absence of a single, centralized government in the Sword Coast, many competing organizations such as cults, religious-militaristic orders, secret societies, and mercantile consortiums haven taken root in the coastal cities. Most notable among these were the good-intentioned spies and operatives known as the Harpers, the network of self-serving merchants and mercenaries of the Zhentarim,[86] the secret society of conspiratorial financiers referred to as the Knights of the Shield,[87] the expansive criminal organization of the Shadow Thieves,[88] the altruistic and sometimes-zealous druids of the Emerald Enclave, and the most-recently founded collective of knights, paladins, and other holy crusaders united under a single banner, the Order of the Gauntlet.[86]

By the same reasoning, the region attracted many smaller adventuring companies, mercenary outfits, and minor military outfits.[89] The Flaming Fist was perhaps the most-renowned of these groups, serving as peacekeepers in Baldur's Gate and its a standing army for threats that arose throughout the coast and beyond.[37][90][65] While the Fist absorbed many smaller outfits during its founding and growth in power,[89] other well-known mercenary companies continued to operate throughout the Sword Coast despite being headquartered in other lands. Notable among these were the Chill from the Lurkwood forest,[91][32] the Amnish Order of the Blue Boar,[92] and the Blacktalons of Iriaebor.[32][93] Some of the more storied adventuring companies included the Order of the Burning Dawn,[94] the Knights of the Unicorn,[95] and the Heroes of Baldur's Gate.[96] The firm known as Acquisitions Incorporated served as a brokerage between prospective clients and lesser adventuring groups that operated throughout the Sword Coast under a shared charter.[97]

Notable Inhabitants[]

Appendix[]

Appearances[]

Adventures
Hordes of DragonspearWaterdeepGhosts of Dragonspear CastleScourge of the Sword CoastCandlekeep Mysteries (The Canopic Being)
Novels
WaterdeepBaldur's Gate
Referenced only
Sentinelspire
Video Games
Baldur's Gate series (Baldur's Gate, Baldur's Gate: Tales of the Sword Coast]], Baldur's Gate: Siege of Dragonspear)Neverwinter Nights: Darkness over DaggerfordSword Coast Legends

Gallery[]

References[]

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