Sembian References

Sembian References

Red Water Meadow and the communities around there:

In general, bucolic subsistence farming country, largely overlooked as a “backwater” by folk of power in Cormyr and Sembia, who are usually concerned with who owns Daerlun and where the border is—and, despite the formal border, who REALLY (Cormyr or Sembia) has more influence in the region.

Red Water Meadow/Meadow of Red Water: a vast, wading-shallow cranberry bog. HUGE. And said to have an ancient giant king’s tomb under it, a flooded underground labyrinth full of treasure that has been co-opted by a dragon (or giant octopus, or other watery menace; the tales differ wildly) for its lair since, but remains. Cranberries are harvested seasonally, the bog is fed by local streams, and the insects keep any settlement from being established nearby. Brigands have traditionally fled to this uninhabited, thorn-vine-choked area, and established “hideouts” here during the summers.

Jarliel (pronounced “Jar-LEEL”): a town on the River Lurlar that stands atop a hard rock promontory (locally rumoured to have rich veins of ore in it; it’s riddled with old, worked-out iron mines and a few natural caverns, which of course are said to connect to dangerous deep caverns in the Underdark, and certainly have harboured various monsters over the years that likely “came up from below,” although there’s no tradition of drow raiding bands or anything coming up from the Realms Below in force). Interestingly, for almost a century tales have been going around Saerloon of Qulxanath (“KULL-zan-nath”), a beholder lairing in one of these caves that uses its own undead spawn as guardians (small undead beholders), and controls a small, highly secretive network of human agents operating in the Sembian ports (smugglers, fences, and blackmailing the wealthy to arrange low prices for bulk goods they can resell for much more elsewhere). Its goal, both before and after the Thultanthan Time, was to covertly increase its influence in Sembian politics. It avoids Cormyrean entanglements entirely. Jarliel itself has always had a small military usefulness (as a lookout, and signal beacon; there are four separate “log cabin pyramids” of firewood awaiting the torch, each inside its own stone wall that’s far too low to stop sparks, whenever they’re lit, but do stop animals and carts from knocking them over), and for the same reason was a roosting-place for hunting dragons in the “Wild Times,” then a meeting-place for the elves before the coming of the humans (and something of a trap for dragons, if a dragon swooped on meeting elves, it would be met with slaying spells, and later a meeting-place for the human settlers, especially when orcs, hobgoblins, and gnolls came raiding. This led to it being settled, early on, and the presence of “sweetwater” (pleasant, clean, pure drinking water that didn’t taste of iron or sulphur or anything else strong-tasting that it had been percolating through) springs rising in it, plus the proximity of the Lurlar to take wastes away and products created locally by barge or raft downriver. Jarlarr, as the townsfolk are known, have long been artists and weavers and woodcarvers and sculptors (in stone), choosing their remote location to be far from war and politics and interruptions. They tend to shun politics. Some scoff at tales of Qulxanath, and others don’t like to talk about beholders and are clearly fearful.

Nolin: a shallow-water, cramped-quarters port on the Neck, reached along a wagon-road known as the Water Trail. Its remoteness from good roads, and comparatively crude facilities, has kept it a fishing village (and a repairs center for ships that need new sails, masts, and caulking) and little more. Originally Nulindrar, named after an elf who dwelt in this inlet before the coming of the humans to the area in any numbers, the name became corrupted to “Nolin” over the years. It’s home to some 80 folk, all told, some of whom are rumored to be fugitives from elsewhere (fallen clerics, mages, retired brigands, and cultists pursuing dark aims). Good silverfin and gar catches for the local fisherfolk, who long ago developed good recipes for “seacatch pie.”

Koril’s Well: is the headwaters of the River Lurlar. A bucolic farming village (lots of sheep and goat ranching) in rolling hills country, with lots of scrub vegetation (natural berry-bushes, gooseberries and blackberries and strawberries) and small, all-consumed-locally vegetable plots (lots of marrows grown). Exports lamb, goat, goat’s cheese. About 400 folk, but the village center is home to just over 120; the rest are outlying farmers. Ruled by a Council of Six (local miller, wealthiest merchant [Anthur Tallsturk, a “manygoods” importer and seller], a retired caravan merchant who’s seen a lot of the Heartlands [Avrantha Brantrees; she now owns and runs a crew that makes and fixes bridges and roads locally, and makes local “big items” shipments on her wagons], and local clerics of Chauntea, Mielikki, and Lathander. The farmers have ongoing problems with wolves, foxes, and the occasional leucrotta, but on rare occasions, have to deal with something more sinister. Antath Koril was the early settler, centuries ago, who cleaned out and lined with stone (hence, “well”) the spring welling to the surface here that becomes the Lurlar. There are still Korils in Sembia, most living near Yhaunn and in Selgaunt.

Seaspring: a town on the east bank of the Darkflow, south of the Vast Swamp, of about 800 folk. Was once larger, but the Dragon Cultists based in Daerlun tried to openly seize control here (rather than sponsoring the governing merchant council from behind the scenes, as they had been doing for years) after a Zhentarim mageling posing as a merchant came to town and tried to take power as its “Lord.” The Zhents responded with force, there were a series of brief, nasty ambushes and skirmishes, some Seavren (townsfolk) were killed and others fled, and both sides lost their bids for power when Cormyr decided to let some senior milirary commanders retire there (gave them big pensions and assistance in moving in, plus paid bodyguards). Seaspring is perched on a dozen out-jutting “fingers” of a plateau, with rocky cliffs falling away from them, above the Darkflow. The Seasprar Stream (which rises just northeast of Seaspring) rushes over the edge of the cliffs among the fingers, in a plunging waterfall that powers three mills: a grist mill, a stamping mill for fulling wool, and a sawmill (down the years, usually owned and run by three fierce rivals); they are the heart of the town’s prosperity. During recent years, Seaspring has become a community of crafters (folk who make small, useful everyday items, enough to export steadily to Cormyr and Sembia and the Dales). Coming north along the Darkflow from Nolin, the Water Trail climbs some zigzag switchbacks to reach to Seaspring.

Old Hazard Farm: is a monastery of Tymora, a remote subsistence community of “monks” who consist of folk maimed and disfigured while adventuring; those who “Chanced For Tymora” and paid a heavy price. This is a place where no one will judge them for their looks, and they can live contented lives of farming and leisure and veneration of Lady Luck in the form of games of chance. They serve as something of a hospital and restorative and supply center for Tymoran clergy and adventurers, and love to hear news of the wider world and study maps and debate the chances of this or that daring plan that someone MIGHT try, somewhere in the world, succeeding. “Old Hazard,” the farm’s long-dead founder, was a famous grizzled, battered, scarred, and forever-jovial adventurer of the early human days in the area.

The political landscape of Sembia a few years after the Godborn:

will rebuild; despite their hitherto selfish “me first, my coins foremost” nature, Sembians want to recapture “the greatness that was stolen from us.” They have come to see the benefits of acting together, and it’s tempered the selfishness of their pride; they now see the value of being Sembian, rather than assuming it.

Saerb is firmly Sembian, as a lot of the bureaucrats of central government fled there when the mercenaries hired by Thultanthar/Shade started marauding. Many have stayed.

Archendale: has always been fiercely independent and prickly, difficult folk to deal with—and they like it that way. That’s how they keep their independence, in their minds. They resist anyone and everybody just out of everyday nature and habit.

The High Dale: with less aggression than Archendale, the folk of Highcastle and their fellow High have maintained firm independence, aided by Cormyrean support (to keep repeated Sembian attempts at conquests at bay). Like Archendale, they see Sembians as rich, grasping folk never to be trusted because “a Sembian wants one thing from you: everything.”

Battlerise: firmly Cormyrean, village on the Way of the Manticore, dominated as ever by cooperages and wheelwrights and rival wagonworks (making and repairing wagons, barrels, kegs, crates, and coffers), and by drovers’ paddocks and caravan encampments. There is indeed a “rise” or cliff; from its edge, one can see a long way east along the road, to Sembia, and Cormyr maintains a military watchpost/garrison.

Scardale: Zhentil Keep and Sembia fought to take over Scardale for so long, and so persistently, that anyone from either place is viewed with open suspicion in Scardale today. No conquest ever really occurred, because everyone else (Hillsfar, Mulmaster, Calaunt, Raven’s Bluff, various Dales, and even Cormyr) kept little garrisons of their own folk in Scardale as local trade representatives and to hold back Sembia and Zhentil Keep). These remain, so Scardale’s still a bustling melting-pot neutral-ground crossroads trading center.

Realmslore: The Flourishing Career of Melvos Hammerstars, Part 1

Realmslore: The Flourishing Career of Melvos Hammerstars, Part 2

Realmslore: The Flourishing Career of Melvos Hammerstars, Part 3

Realmslore: The Flourishing Career of Melvos Hammerstars, Part 4

Realmslore: The Flourishing Career of Melvos Hammerstars, Part 5

Realmslore: The Flourishing Career of Melvos Hammerstars, Part 6

Realmslore: The Flourishing Career of Melvos Hammerstars, Part 7

Realmslore: The Flourishing Career of Melvos Hammerstars, Part 8

The Matchmaker of Sembia, Part 1

The Matchmaker of Sembia, Part 2

The Matchmaker of Sembia, Part 3

The Matchmaker of Sembia, Part 4

Rand’s Travelogue: Caravan’s and Trading Companies in Sembia

Rand’s Travelogue: More Old Empires and Sembia!

Other Sources:

The FR Adventures tome covers the cities of Sembia in the 1350s DR (good for up until 1385 DR), and the 1st edition and 2nd edition boxed sets, the 3e FRCS tome, and the 4e FRCS all have coverage of Sembia.

“Land of Merchants” [POLYHEDRON #94] and Cult of the Dragon pgs. 33–34.

Drelt: hunters’ hamlet, ne of Daerlun (Dragon #282 p. 71)

Ornstar: tiny hamlet, sw of Ordulin (Polyhedron #94 p. 5)

Skultan: gnome village, e of Daerlun (Dragon #269 p. 87)

Yuthgalaunt: village between Ordulin and Yhaunn (Cormyr: A Novel p. 142)

Griffonfang Bridge: bridge, e of Daerlun (Polyhedron #94 p. 5)

Old Hazard Hill Farm: monastic Tymoran retreat (Prayers from the Faithful p. 26)

Halfknot: small town: Rosemary Jones short story in Realms of the Dragon II, p.22)

Thas: hamlet: Rosemary Jones short story in Realms of the Dragon II, p.22)