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Warlock's Crypt or Warlock's Keep lay in the Troll Hills on the Sword Coast in west Faerûn. It was home to the ancient lich wizard Larloch the Shadow King, a survivor of the fallen empire of Netheril. The name itself was a corruption of "Larloch's Crypt" or "Larloch's Keep". It was a great city of undead, rife with wickedness and necromancy.[14][3][4][6] The city was made out of the ruins of a millennia-old Netherese flying enclave called Orbedal or Sanctuary, which had been dedicated to being a haven for peace before it crashed to the ground in the downfall of Netheril.[17]

Name[edit | edit source]

As a Netherese enclave, the city was originally named "Orbedal" and was also called "Sanctuary".[1]

Under the rule of Larloch, the city was called variously "Larloch's Crypt"[2][3][4] or "Larloch's Keep".[5] These names could still be found in old accounts and maps into the mid-1360s DR.[3] These names were later corrupted into the name "Warlock's Crypt"[2][3][4][6][7][8] or "Warlock's Keep".[9][10][11][12][13] [note 1]

Geography[edit | edit source]

Warlock's Crypt lay somewhere in the western side of the Troll Hills, at the mouth of the Winding Water. However, its location on maps was inexact and it was quite isolated.[14][6][4]

As a flying Netherese enclave, Orbedal once hovered over the Cold Forest, on the southern shore of the Bay of Ascore.[17][15]

Description[edit | edit source]

Seen from afar, the soaring towers that comprised the Warlock's Crypt had the semblance of great talons clad in black mail, menacing and grasping at the sky.[3] These wizard towers were linked to form a large, walled castle around the ruined city and each stood within a circular, walled garden and courtyard. Dark bridges without rails spanned over the city, connecting courtyards and garden walls with the lower levels of other towers.[3][6]

The highest and most dangerous tower belonged to Larloch himself. Within the tower were special safe rooms that quickly rejuvenated undead bodies, to which Larloch could quickly relocate if attacked and seriously damaged, only to return revitalized soon after. He spent most of his time in these chambers. Certain areas, caskets and cupboards contained magical traps that inflicted his powerful curses upon trespassers.[3][6][16]

The other towers were home to the liches and vampires of the city. Each had dominion over a few levels, where they conducted their nefarious experiments.[6]

The towers stood on the banks of a small spring that welled up within the cellars of Larloch's tower. It was polluted with the waste of his arcane experiments—its waters were luminous and at night cast an eerie, flickering light against the towers. The city was otherwise a gloomy and dusty place.[3]

The central courtyard of the castle held smaller buildings and abandoned houses, linked by twisting streets and clustered around the banks of the spring and the walled gardens. These were the lairs of the shuffling lesser undead who inhabited the city and served the lich lords and comprised its armies.[3][6]

Government[edit | edit source]

The whole city and all its undead inhabitants were ruled by Larloch the Shadow King.[3][6][4] The undead were his devoted, eternal servants.[14]

Under him were lich lords who commanded the lesser undead. Larloch enjoyed the absolute loyalty of these liches, a loyalty ensured by some force of magic,[3] such as Rhaugilath, who was bound to Larloch's will.[7] Occasionally, he granted some of these liches their freedom, just to see what they would do.[18] [note 2]

Defenses[edit | edit source]

Travelers were warned not to even go within sight of Warlock's Crypt,[3] as Larloch almost always preferred to slay trespassers outright.[6] Those who got too close were met by a succession of liches who cast spells to destroy or drive off intruders. Behind them were spellwebs; these fields of magical force bore ready spells that were triggered when someone walked into them. Ever more powerful, battle-ready liches formed another line of defense.[4] There was also a troop of trolls that defended the city.[14]

Larloch also sent his bonebats and skeletal giant bats ridden by undead servants, as well as stranger undead creatures, out of Warlock's Crypt to hunt for live creatures and travellers, especially live humans. These were brought to Larloch for his experiments into undeath.[3][6]

Inhabitants[edit | edit source]

Warlock's Crypt was a city of the undead,[3] populated by liches, vampires, wraiths, wights, and legions of lesser undead creatures, ranging from crawling claws to monstrous zombies.[14][3][16][4][6] There were sixty liches by 1374 DR; many of them (like Rhaugilath) were survivors of fallen Netheril like Larloch himself.[6][7]

They also kept bonebats or skeletal giant bats that could be ridden by undead servants, as well as stranger undead creatures. These made forays into the surrounding countryside to kidnap travelers.[3][6]

A troop of trolls also defended the city.[14] Larloch also sometimes summoned kastighur demons from the Barrens of Doom and Despair to serve him.[19]

History[edit | edit source]

Sanctuary[edit | edit source]

Orbedal was originally a city in Low Netheril. Its military, working with the dwarves of Ascore, took part in the cleansing of the ruins of Cantus in 1048 NY (−2811 DR), eliminating the remaining goblins there.[20]

Two centuries later, in 1247 NY (−2612 DR), however, the city became one of Netheril's flying enclaves, taking up position over the Cold Forest, on the south shore of the Bay of Ascore. Known as "Sanctuary", the enclave was established to promote non-violent behavior among the Netherese, as a haven for peace.[17][15]

Sanctuary, together with Ascore and Vandal Station, received gold and silver exported by the mining village of Bandor, which was established in 1423 NY (−2436 DR). These cities then traded the gold and silver over the Narrow Sea to other Netherese enclaves and cities.[21]

Orbedal became a haven for pacifists and arcanists who wanted to get on with their magical research without worrying about rivals or the politicking common to other enclaves. They traded with Ascore, their traditional allies, and made sure that orcs didn't come to reside in the forest below. Although there were a few fiery conflicts with power-hungry arcanists, most visitors accepted its laws. Sanctuary remained a haven for peace for the entirety of its history,[17] and it stayed hovering in the same location.[15]

In 2754 NY (−1105 DR), one twilight at the end of the summer, an unidentified cloud dragon attacked Sanctuary. Offensive magic was permitted in the counter-attack for the first time in Sanctuary's history, but not its last. The dragon was driven off, but not before it had killed around 200 people and damaged many buildings. Pressure for weapons to be allowed grew after the incident, but such demands were denied.[17]

However, all through the Shadowed Age (3163 NY (−696 DR) to 3519 NY (−340 DR)), Sanctuary suffered many attacks from a myriad of flying and extraplanar creatures, including air elementals, more dragons, tanar'ri demons, and wyverns. It wasn't until late 3400 NY (the Year of Sparkling Spires, −459 DR), that city leaders caused the ban to be lifted. However, weapons still had to be peace-bonded in public.[17]

Orbedal's last ruler was Rhaugilath the Ageless, an arch-lich arcanist.[7] It had stayed in the same location, though by the end of Netheril's time, the Cold Forest had retreated.[15]

In the 3520 NY (the Year of Sundered Webs, −339 DR), Netheril suffered Karsus's Folly and all magic failed. Orbedal suffered the same fate as the majority of its sister-enclaves, and fell from the sky.[17][7][8] Local dwarves in nearby mountains observed its fall in their histories, but none knew for sure if there were survivors or where they fled to.[17] In fact, Orbedal crashed to ground in the Troll Hills on the distant Sword Coast.[17][note 3]

Larloch's Keep[edit | edit source]

Some months after the fall of Netheril, the lich archwizard Larloch, who had survived the disaster, discovered the ruins of the enclave. He claimed the city as his own and began re-purposing part of it to serve as his home, constructing himself a crypt out of its broken towers. After he was done, he began exploring the rest of the ruins. Years later, he discovered Rhaugilath, who was his rival when they both led enclaves. Rhaugilath was still "alive", preserved via his phylactery, but trapped in a subterranean pocket in the rubble. The two fought fiercely and Larloch won, enslaving Rhaugilath. He became the first of Larloch's lich servitors.[7][8]

Larloch gathered other liches to his side over time and accumulated a vast collection of spells, magic items, and undead creatures to serve him.[6] Despite Larloch's isolationist agenda, word got out about him and his crypt. Orbedal became known as Larloch's Crypt or Larloch's Keep, but as knowledge of the lich faded, his lair's name became corrupted to Warlock's Crypt or Warlock's Keep.[2][3][5][4][6][7][8]

Over the centuries, a great number of adventurers attempted to defeat Larloch, but most failed; the bodies of many were reused as decorations in Warlock's Crypt or as undead servants.[16] Some even claimed to have destroyed him, but Larloch always rose again.[3] At least sixteen Red Wizards of Thay ventured into Warlock's Crypt, seeking to either kill Larloch or steal his magic, treasures and power, and all failed.[9][5][13][3][6]

Warlock's Crypt was formally discovered in the Year of the Crown, 1351 DR, when explorers came across it. Few of them survived, and those who did left bearing a virulent plague. Only one made it back to Baldur's Gate, bringing the plague with him. It decimated the city that same year.[14][22][23]

Szass Tam, Zulkir of Necromancy of Thay, visited Warlock's Crypt around 1366 DR.[9][10][5][13][3] What transpired was unknown to the outside world;[11] The two came to some deal or alliance, the details of which were again unknown to outsiders. Larloch gave Szass several powerful magic items and artifacts and granted him a number of hooded companions, to aid him in his plots to control Thay and the demon Eltab.[24][10][11] In exchange, over a number of visits, Szass Tam gave Larloch several surviving treasures from the ruins of Larloch's own former enclave, Jiksidur.[1]

Law & order[edit | edit source]

Back in the time of ancient Netheril, a sign posted clearly at the entrance to Sanctuary informed entrants of the two major laws of the enclave: "No weapons or offensive spells". It was warded with powerful magic, a mythallar, that forced people to read them before stepping foot inside, even if they had to use magic to do so. Fifteen powerful arcanists armed with rods of multiport constantly patrolled the city in search of rule-breakers. Using their rods, they transported weapon-carriers into the Cold Forest, directly beneath the enclave, while those who cast illegal, offensive spells or used similar magical items were teleported into the Narrow Sea or to the High Ice. It required three eyewitnesses passing a detect lie test for one of these arcanists to hunt down someone they didn't see breaking these laws.[17] The rods of multiport was used exclusively in Sanctuary.[25]

Rumors and Legends[edit | edit source]

By the 14th century DR, Warlock's Crypt was an almost legendary locale.[10] Most sages correctly believed it to have once been a Netherese enclave, inhabited by liches who served Larloch.[3] Popular stories also told that it was the final resting place of Larloch, once a great Netherese wizard, and a storehouse of powerful magic. These stories too were correct.[14]

Appendix[edit | edit source]

Notes[edit | edit source]

  1. It is unclear to what extent the Crypt/Keep covers the old city of Orbedal. Descriptions suggest it includes the former houses of Orbedal, and the towers are linked in a castle-like arrangement, likely covering the whole city. However, crypts and keeps are typically singular structures; a keep is often a fortified built within a castle. This suggests that Larloch's original crypt/keep was a single building, and that the name spread to encompass the whole city.
  2. The Death Moon Orb, already used by Larloch to control his court in Jiksidur, has the power to charm and mentally control others, suggesting that this may be the basis of Larloch's rule in Warlock's Crypt as well. However, he later gave this this to Szass Tam.
  3. Sanctuary/Orbedal was noted on maps in Netheril: Empire of Magic as appearing over the Cold Forest on the shore of the Bay of Ascore in far north Faerûn, at the time of Netheril's fall. Lost Empires of Faerûn (pages 102 & 108) linked Sanctuary to Orbedal and Orbedal to Warlock's Crypt. However, Warlock's Crypt is half a continent away, on the Sword Coast in far west Faerûn. It is not known how the enclave fell so far to the south-west.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Richard Baker, Ed Bonny, Travis Stout (February 2005). Lost Empires of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 108. ISBN 0-7869-3654-1.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Ed Greenwood (1994). Volo's Guide to the Sword Coast. (TSR, Inc), p. 49. ISBN 1-5607-6940-1.
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 3.13 3.14 3.15 3.16 3.17 3.18 3.19 3.20 3.21 3.22 3.23 3.24 3.25 Ed Greenwood (1994). Volo's Guide to the Sword Coast. (TSR, Inc), p. 63–64. ISBN 1-5607-6940-1.
  4. 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 4.11 4.12 4.13 Ed Greenwood, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, Rob Heinsoo (June 2001). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 296. ISBN 0-7869-1836-5.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 Ed Greenwood, Eric L. Boyd (1996). Volo's Guide to All Things Magical. (TSR, Inc), pp. 104, 116–118. ISBN 0-7869-0446-1.
  6. 6.00 6.01 6.02 6.03 6.04 6.05 6.06 6.07 6.08 6.09 6.10 6.11 6.12 6.13 6.14 6.15 6.16 6.17 6.18 6.19 6.20 Jason Carl, Sean K. Reynolds (October 2001). Lords of Darkness. Edited by Michele Carter. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 161–162. ISBN 07-8691-989-2.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 7.7 7.8 Richard Baker, Ed Bonny, Travis Stout (February 2005). Lost Empires of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 102. ISBN 0-7869-3654-1.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 Brian R. James, Ed Greenwood (September 2007). The Grand History of the Realms. Edited by Kim Mohan, Penny Williams. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 47–48. ISBN 978-0-7869-4731-7.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 Anthony Pryor (June 1995). “Campaign Guide”. In Michele Carter, Doug Stewart eds. Spellbound (TSR, Inc.), p. 106–107. ISBN 978-0786901395.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 Anthony Pryor (June 1995). “The Runes of Chaos”. In Michele Carter, Doug Stewart eds. Spellbound (TSR, Inc.), p. 2. ISBN 978-0786901395.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 Anthony Pryor (June 1995). Spellbound. Edited by Michele Carter, Doug Stewart. (TSR, Inc.). ISBN 978-0786901395.
  12. 12.0 12.1 slade, James Butler (November 1996). Netheril: Empire of Magic (The Winds of Netheril). (TSR, Inc.), p. 4. ISBN 0-7869-0437-2.
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 Dale Donovan (July 1998). Villains' Lorebook. (TSR, Inc), p. 128. ISBN 0-7869-1236-7.
  14. 14.00 14.01 14.02 14.03 14.04 14.05 14.06 14.07 14.08 14.09 14.10 Ed Greenwood, Julia Martin, Jeff Grubb (1993). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 2nd edition (revised), A Grand Tour of the Realms. (TSR, Inc), p. 102. ISBN 1-5607-6617-4.
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 15.4 slade, Jim Butler (Nov 1996). Netheril: Empire of Magic. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 0-7869-0437-2.
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 16.3 16.4 Ed Greenwood (1994). Volo's Guide to the Sword Coast. (TSR, Inc), p. 220–221. ISBN 1-5607-6940-1.
  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 slade, James Butler (November 1996). Netheril: Empire of Magic (The Winds of Netheril). (TSR, Inc.), p. 85–86. ISBN 0-7869-0437-2.
  18. Ed Greenwood (February 2006). “Tears So White”. Realms of the Elves (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 0-7869-3980-X.
  19. Gwendolyn F.M. Kestrel (July 2006). Monster Manual IV. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 0-7869-3920-6.
  20. slade, James Butler (November 1996). Netheril: Empire of Magic (The Winds of Netheril). (TSR, Inc.), p. 68. ISBN 0-7869-0437-2.
  21. slade, James Butler (November 1996). Netheril: Empire of Magic (The Winds of Netheril). (TSR, Inc.), p. 65. ISBN 0-7869-0437-2.
  22. Ed Greenwood, Julia Martin, Jeff Grubb (1993). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 2nd edition (revised), Running the Realms. (TSR, Inc), p. 18. ISBN 1-5607-6617-4.
  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. 140. ISBN 978-0-7869-4731-7.
  24. Anthony Pryor (June 1995). “Campaign Guide”. In Michele Carter, Doug Stewart eds. Spellbound (TSR, Inc.), p. 9. ISBN 978-0786901395.
  25. slade, James Butler (November 1996). Netheril: Empire of Magic (Encyclopedia Arcana). (TSR, Inc.), p. 4. ISBN 0-7869-0437-2.

Connections[edit | edit source]

Netherese enclaves
Flying enclaves AkintaerAquessirAnauriaAsramDeliaDoubloonEileanarHlaungadathHlondathJethaereJiksidurJocktelegKolthunralLatheryLhaodaMaunatorNegarathNhallothOrbedalPalterPhylornelSpielSakkorsOpusSynodTanathrasThultantharTith TilendrothaelUndrentideXinlenalYthryn
Other enclaves CuulmathFarenweyQuaeluuvisQuesseerSargauthWerapan
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