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Icelander
Master of Realmslore

1577 Posts

Posted - 16 Jul 2013 :  04:57:19  Show Profile  Visit Icelander's Homepage Send Icelander a Private Message  Reply with Quote  Delete Topic
In my Purple Reign/Unther campaign, which focuses heavily on the war between the Mulhorandi and the many factions that make up 'Free Unther', I have a need for a steady stream of NPCs who are local warlords, bandit kings, pirate admirals or partisan commanders. Basically, anyone who would have kept or built up a militarily significant number of armed men in the neighbourhood of Unther during the chaos and warlordism between 1357 DR and the current era, 1373 DR in my game.

With recent events in my campaign, Wyrm Princess Shudu-Ab, Breath of the Red Ravager, has come to dominate the organised faith of Tiamat in Unther once again. She has called on all those who profess allegiance to the Dragon Queen to rally under her banner, fighting for the Shibutu (Council) of Messemprar, where she is one of the councilors.*

She has the command of an army marching** to the relief of Sadamzar, besieged by one of three Mulhorandi field armies operating in Northern Unther. In that army will be a lot of bandits from the Riders to the Sky Mountains, pirates professing allegiance to Tiamat and what remains of the revolutionary organisation of the Tiamatans in Unther.

Backing this army is also the Cult of the Dragon in Unther, both those factions that worship the Undying Queen, an aspect of Tiamat, and the Bane-dominated faction of Mourktar and Threskel, headed by Alasklerbanbastos himself. The Regent of Mourktar, High Imperceptor Kabarrath Telthaug, has also sent the Crow Banners and the Six Black Blades leading mercenaries to provide assistance.

Obviously, these disparate elements will never hold together for long. But for now, they have a common interest in preventing Mulhorand from controlling the Methmere. They can fight over who among them will inherit it after they ensure that it doesn't become a bastion of Anhurite crusasers, at least.

This means that I'm looking for suggestions on colourful and interesting characters that could bring contigents of fighting men to this army. They could be responding to Shudu-Ab's calling of her banners, they could be from any of several Cult of the Dragon factions involved, they could be Bane-worshippers acting on orders from Mourktar or they could be attracted to the army for materialistic or even patriotic motives.

Anyone who brings enough men, of enough value, so that he will be included in at least some councils of war, will need to be fleshed out. I don't care so much for stats, as I can come up with them at need, I just want as many ideas about personality, histories, looks, hooks, identifiable characteristics, rivalries, goals, etc. as possible.

Basically, just a short written description, system-agnostic, of interesting characters that scribes think might be involved in this enterprise and be important enough so that they might matter for the political maneouvering that the PCs will be engaging in aside from trying to carry out military operations with this army.

And yes, there are young dragongs and dracoliches representing Alasklerbanbastos. Three dracoliches and nine dragons still waiting for a chance to receive the blessing. I've already named most of them, but I might welcome suggestions for personalities or private goals they could have.

I'm also looking for an interesting new Tiamatan warrior type, to take the place of Kedrak Gilbane, the former Lord High Marshal of the Knights of the Five-Thorned Rose. He, and his proposed replacement, have both come down with acute cases of terminal PC-itis, which has made relations with Shudu-Ab somewhat... challenging.

The new replacement will not be as puissant as a warrior, meaning in D&D terms something around 10th-13th level might be plausible, but needs to be less aggressive and more of a people person. Preferably someone who can be hyped up as a popular hero among the population, where Tiamat is often viewed with wary respect, stemming from her opposition to Gilgeam.

I still haven't decided on anyone in specific, but I wonder about what background he'd have. What would a good general worshipping Tiamat be doing between the war between Tiamat and Gilgeam in 1357-1358 DR and the current time? Since we know he didn't rise to power in Messemprar, at least.

*And hopes to become sole ruler in good time, with the backing of the Dragon Queen. But at first, she wants to make use of the other factions in Free Unther, as the Mulhorandi are more immediate threats.
**With logistical support provided by boats, galleys and other watercraft on the Methmere and River of Metals.

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Icelander
Master of Realmslore

1577 Posts

Posted - 16 Jul 2013 :  07:13:15  Show Profile  Visit Icelander's Homepage Send Icelander a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I have a vague idea that as the Riders to the Sky Mountains appear to have sheltered 'bandit settlements'* for a very long time and Threskel is poorly policed (and appears always to have been), these parts of northern Unther are likely to have been places where people who did not fancy worshipping Gilgeam went.

As such, I imagine that there are tribes which, at least during the reigh of Gilgeam, were traditional worshippers of Ramman and Assuran, for example. They'd believe that the proper heir of Enlil was either Ramman or Assuran, not the arrogant, decadent (and later) corrupt Gilgeam.

I imagine that many among the Rammanu might be simple shepherds, for the most part; calling on their god to protect them from storms or strengthen their hand and guide the rock from their sling as they defend their herd from wolves or raiders. Given that Messemrar is obviously not a bastion of orthodox Gilgeam worship (it had rebelled against him even before the Time of Troubles), perhaps some of the more isolated rural peoples in the hinterlands around it are Rammanu.

The Assurites would be much more aggressive bandits, with a national aversion to Gilgeamite society and a perfect justification to raid neighbours who pay their taxes to the repressive regime and so maintain the armies that march against Assurite hamlets in the hills and mountains.

I imagine that in Untheri society before the fall of Gilgeam, the faith of Tiamat operated as a secret society of revolutionaries, cultists and rebels. Members might come from sophisticated urban elites as well as rural 'bandit' groups and both the Assurite and Rammanu tribes would have provided fertile recruiting grounds for revolutionaries seeking converts under Tiamat's banners.

I see the Grey Ghosts** as being mostly a southern Untheri phenomenon, with Rammanu and Assurites filling much the same roles in the north of Unther. That's not to say that Furifax didn't try to recruit in the north, just that his Shaaran heritage, methods and center of power made it harder for him to reach people there.

The more savage of the bandits would always have been prepared to give worship (or pretend to) to various demons out of folklore, if only to frighten enemies. That would include Anshar, Druaga, Nergal and Tiamat, as well as more local demons of the tribes, ones not powerful enough to count as gods, but perhaps still existing as real beings capable of aiding those that called upon them. This would have provided avenues for such deities as Set, Shar, Gargauth, Bhaal, Myrkul and Bane to have worshippers among them bandits, even before the Time of Troubles.

In modern Unther, I imagine that the ensi of the Old Faith*** are prozetalysing heavily among these hill and mountain tribes. The same goes for Tiamat priests, the Cult of the Dragon, Banites from the Zhentarim as well as the Mourktar-based Black Lord's Cloak/Altar and Faerunian priests.

Not to mention Anhurites, who (perhaps not all that unreasonably), feel that their god is the natural heir to the religious practises of these people and that his actions during the Time of Troubles ought further endear him to their hearts.

I imagine that worship of Ishtar was/is common alongside the worship of Assuran among the Assurites.

The Rammanu might have different ideas about whether their god has a consort or family, and, if so, which gods and goddesses these ought to be, but I wouldn't be surprised to see local versions of earth or moon goddesses being popular. Probably Chauntea and Selune under different names, at least for the past centuries.

Might be some of them had a pantheon consisting of Ramman and his consort, Eldath (worshipped as Elat), with Chauntea as the mother of the gods (probably worshipped as Antu), now orphaned after Enlil's (Anu) 'death'. Suen (Nanna-Sin) and Ningal (Selune) would then be siblings of the primary deity pairing in this conception and in turn be the parents of the sun-god and judge Shamash (formerly another name for Utu, but now Lathander as part of the Risen Sun heresy) and Ashtorth (Ishtar) goddess of love and war.

Naturally, this is all heresy, but I doubt it matters overmuch to the Rammanu... or to the gods that are willing to accept worship regardless of local superstition twisting family relationships or bestowing new titles.

Northern Unther is home to at least 500,000 people and more probably around a million, depending on where you draw the lines and even though Dragons of Faerun states that only 50,000 people call Threskel home, this is odd in light of the fact that adding together the populations of just the named settlements and temples there, you get close to that. Unless the bandits, ranchers and fishermen add up to zero people, the population numbers must be adjusted. Most probably, Mordulkin is not counted as part of the population here, but instead as part of Chessenta.

I see the Rammanu being a fairly large 'ethnic' (more cultural/religious, but good enough) group, with maybe 100,000 people in northern Unther proper (maybe 20% of the population there), 10,000 in southern and eastern Threskel, mostly along the northern bank of the River of Metals as well as in Thamor and environments and around 10,000 on the western side of the Riders to the Sky Mountains and the western side of the Methmere.

Of course, not all of them worship Ramman any more, even if their ancestors may have done so and the culture been shaped by that fact. After Ramman's death, this holds particularly true.

The Assurites I view as being significant in Threskel, having settled Mourktar and a lot of Threskel. Of course, by now, Tempus and Bane are more popular among the urban population, but Assuran still has followers among the more remote mountain tribes. Call recognisable 'Assurites' maybe 20,000, with a lot more people descended from them in both northern Unther and Threskel.

Other 'bandits' in the Riders to the Sky Mountains and around the Methmere, especially closer to Maerch, will be ethnically and religiously closer to Chessentans, albeit with heavy Untheric influence. Say that there's a recognisable culture of ca 20,000-30,000 of mountain and hill people of mixed Chessentan/Untheric origin, mostly in small tribes, that survive at least partly by raiding neighbours.

*Inherently a value judgment from the point of view of the reference society. It refers to any settlement from which raids on neighbours might occasionally be launched. As such, it could refer to a lot of historical human societies, from the Ancient Near East of the beginning of recorded history to societies surviving up to the present day in Central Asia or the Horn of Africa.
**Note that they, as well as other bandits in Unther, canonically allied with the Church of Tiamat during the final war against Gilgeam.
***Actually, more like lost for several thousand years and reconstructed by modern scholars for the express purpose of reinventing an ancient culture.

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Edited by - Icelander on 16 Jul 2013 08:10:44
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BadCatMan
Learned Scribe

Australia
335 Posts

Posted - 17 Jul 2013 :  02:18:23  Show Profile Send BadCatMan a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Somewhat peripheral, but I've been looking at the Riders to the Sky mountains for my Chessenta game, and at the other inhabitants there.

How about duergar mercenaries? Duergar inhabit the western Riders, so closer to Chessenta, but the duergar could be selling weapons to the Untherites, and so they'd be interested in seeing the war drag on. Grey dwarf commandos could operate at night, sneak about invisible, murder folk in their beds or at watch, then go large and go marauding through enemy camps. (This could provoke the gold dwarves of the Smoking Mountains to enter the war on the Mulhorandi side.)

One odd group is mentioned by Old Empires: "Half-drow who were exiled from Yuirwood long ago are rumored to live among the trolls." These likely descend from the drow and trolls driven out of the Yuirwood after the 880s DR in Spellbound. The trolls are side to the live on the west side of the Riders, but the half-drow could be anywhere (and why would they live with trolls if they choice)? Maybe they're now among the hill-folk of Unther, and join the war against Mulhorand. Perhaps they worship a CE Untheric demon-god like Druaga, or maybe they're good and follow a moon-goddess like Ningal? I imagine they would be quite wild if they deal or live with trolls, or maybe they've enslaved them.

In my Chessenta game is a Eilistraeen PC who wants to preach the faith to her fellow drow-bloods, and is intrigued by this lot, so I planned to develop them in some strange ways. Perhaps as woad-painted Amazons, or followers of Eilish (an obscure god out of the Desert of Desolation, and I believe an older or masculine aspect of Eilistraee). And there's those legends of folk riding the "tuuru" or pteranodons: they can't carry a human, but maybe a lighter drow-blood? Dino-riders!

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Icelander
Master of Realmslore

1577 Posts

Posted - 17 Jul 2013 :  03:37:34  Show Profile  Visit Icelander's Homepage Send Icelander a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by BadCatMan

Somewhat peripheral, but I've been looking at the Riders to the Sky mountains for my Chessenta game, and at the other inhabitants there.

That's perfect, actually. Since Alasklerbanbastos is involved, and certainly the strongest power in these mountains, every power group there at least has an opinion, if it's not actively engaged.

quote:
Originally posted by BadCatMan

How about duergar mercenaries? Duergar inhabit the western Riders, so closer to Chessenta, but the duergar could be selling weapons to the Untherites, and so they'd be interested in seeing the war drag on. Grey dwarf commandos could operate at night, sneak about invisible, murder folk in their beds or at watch, then go large and go marauding through enemy camps. (This could provoke the gold dwarves of the Smoking Mountains to enter the war on the Mulhorandi side.)

As it happens, I've already postulated a mercenary company of ca fifty duergar exiles in the service of the Cult of the Dragon (Alasklerbanbastos faction). They call themselves 'The Forlorn' and have enough experience of the dragons that they'll ride to battle in special harnesses rigged on the back of the larger ones.*

They have very good, light metal mail and segmented plate armour, exceptionally powerful steel crossbows with intergrated cocking and spanning mechanisms and a variety of alchemical weaponry to drop from above. Can operate as deadly assassins and special forces as well as dragon-riding missile troops.

Other than these exiles, the main duergar settlements in my campaign have a strict policy of non-involvement in human affairs in the region.

They are determined not to be drawn into the messy draconic politics surrounding the Cult of the Dragon - Tiamat - Tzchassar - Undying Queen situation, not to mention the divine politics around Bane - Tiamat - Set - Assuran - Anhur - Horus-Re. And the purely human politics, whether that's orthodox Banite Zhentarim from the Moonsea vs. Telthaug's Black Lord's Altar's faction or the Mulhorandi imperialists vs. Untheri reactionaries vs. Untheri reformists or the various cities of Chessenta vs. each other.

I note that the Gold Dwarves of the Great Rift, while they have recently started to trade with Mulhorand, are not exactly fans of a resurgent and expansionastic Mulhorandi Empire. That's a development that a lot of polities view with alarm and thus tailor-made to create some interesting bed-fellows in propping up the 'Free Unther' forces.

*Who will accept this on orders from Alasklerbanbastos, with varying degrees of grace.

quote:
Originally posted by BadCatMan

One odd group is mentioned by Old Empires: "Half-drow who were exiled from Yuirwood long ago are rumored to live among the trolls." These likely descend from the drow and trolls driven out of the Yuirwood after the 880s DR in Spellbound. The trolls are side to the live on the west side of the Riders, but the half-drow could be anywhere (and why would they live with trolls if they choice)? Maybe they're now among the hill-folk of Unther, and join the war against Mulhorand. Perhaps they worship a CE Untheric demon-god like Druaga, or maybe they're good and follow a moon-goddess like Ningal? I imagine they would be quite wild if they deal or live with trolls, or maybe they've enslaved them.

I've got a band of troll thralls in the service of the Cult (Alasklerbanbastos), used as terror weapons when dropped from low-flying dragons.

Some are normal trolls, but the 'better' breeds are experiments in using transmutation, necromancy, selective breeding and draconic influence to create 'improved' trolls.

Half-drow willing to serve undead dragons would be valued underlings and learn strange sorceries.

quote:
Originally posted by BadCatMan

In my Chessenta game is a Eilistraeen PC who wants to preach the faith to her fellow drow-bloods, and is intrigued by this lot, so I planned to develop them in some strange ways. Perhaps as woad-painted Amazons, or followers of Eilish (an obscure god out of the Desert of Desolation, and I believe an older or masculine aspect of Eilistraee). And there's those legends of folk riding the "tuuru" or pteranodons: they can't carry a human, but maybe a lighter drow-blood? Dino-riders!


Pretty neat image. Might be they are there, somewhere.

What would they think of Alasklerbanbastos, who claims all these mountains and in 1373 DR looks like a pretty good bet to be able to enforce that claim?

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Aldrick
Senior Scribe

909 Posts

Posted - 17 Jul 2013 :  06:16:26  Show Profile Send Aldrick a Private Message  Reply with Quote
There are obviously going to be Chessentan mercenaries fighting - perhaps even on both sides. One of the more prominent companies should be the Renegades, which is led by Helyos and is 200 members strong. Helyos failed to take the Throne of Mourktar in the tournament that was held, and it's my suspicion that he was likely hired by the Priests of the Cloak and is actively working for Kabarrath Telthaug.

I say this because it's specifically noted that Helyos nearly won the tournament, and thus my feeling is that means he came in third place. The second place loser was killed, and it makes sense that the winner was assassinated... thus opening the door for Kabarrath to become Regent of Mourktar. By hiring out the Renegades this brings Helyos under his thumb, and prevents him from challenging Kabarrath's legitimacy as Regent.

I could see Kabarrath sending Helyos south to fight in Unther, which keeps him busy, and increases the likelihood that a potential nuisance could be eliminated by one of his enemies. It's a win-win situation, he needs soldiers to support Free Unther, and he has someone whose willing and able to fight who he also wants to get rid of for political reasons.

The Sailors of the Crimson Sea, led by Lhrek Jarsyn, The Society of the Sword led by Stilmus, and The Wraith of the Inner Sea led by Kreodo the "Sea Queen" all could potentially be involved in the war as well - on either side.

All of these mercenary companies can be located in the 2E source book Gold & Glory.

Finally, I think two other important groups would have an interest in being involved. The Red Wizards are canonically aiding Mourktar, explicitly because Mourktar is working with Free Unther.

The second important group are the Okothian sarrukh who now worship Set. The clergy of Set would no doubt greatly wish to see Mulhorand fail to conquer Free Unther. After all, if they fail - they can move in to fill the void and begin spreading the faith so they can oppose Mulhorand more directly.

Mulhorand conquering Unther should have very big geopolitical ramifications for the entire region. You'd no doubt find some interest in keeping tabs with what is going on in places like Aglarond and Chessenta. Chessenta may be too fractured to play a direct role, but it's certain that everyone has a very keen interest in how things play out (with differing opinions on the implications). And of course it has an impact on Aglarond as well - do they want a stronger or a weaker Mulhorand? What are the consequences of either for them?

Ultimately, someone is going to step out of the ashes of the war victorious. Everyone in the entire region is going to have an opinion. This includes many of the Shining Lands such as Durpar, Estagund, and Var the Golden. You could very well see mercenaries from that far south coming north to fight.

...and of course, if Mulhorand loses the war, the implications almost write themselves... What was once Unther would fracture completely and collapse into total anarchy and civil war. Those that fought to keep it free would turn on each other like rabid dogs, attempting to claim whatever scrap of the dead empire that they could.

One of the unforeseen implications may be that Mulhorand over extends itself to such a degree, that civil unrest breaks out at home. Keep in mind this is EXACTLY what happened to Unther when it over extended itself - it's coffers essentially dried up. The Mulhorandi would be demoralized - especially those that fought in the war. It would be militarily weakened. So many doors open up for a coup d'état by cultists of Set, as well as a potential campaign against Mulhorand by Thay. (Potentially even working together.)

In fact, this all but cries out for Thay to do whatever is possible to support Free Unther, and to draw Mulhorand into a protracted and unwinnable war. Thay is flush with gold from their Enclaves, and they should have no trouble at all helping finance some of those mercenaries fighting for Free Unther.
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Icelander
Master of Realmslore

1577 Posts

Posted - 17 Jul 2013 :  07:05:51  Show Profile  Visit Icelander's Homepage Send Icelander a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Aldrick

There are obviously going to be Chessentan mercenaries fighting - perhaps even on both sides. One of the more prominent companies should be the Renegades, which is led by Helyos and is 200 members strong. Helyos failed to take the Throne of Mourktar in the tournament that was held, and it's my suspicion that he was likely hired by the Priests of the Cloak and is actively working for Kabarrath Telthaug.

I say this because it's specifically noted that Helyos nearly won the tournament, and thus my feeling is that means he came in third place. The second place loser was killed, and it makes sense that the winner was assassinated... thus opening the door for Kabarrath to become Regent of Mourktar. By hiring out the Renegades this brings Helyos under his thumb, and prevents him from challenging Kabarrath's legitimacy as Regent.

I could see Kabarrath sending Helyos south to fight in Unther, which keeps him busy, and increases the likelihood that a potential nuisance could be eliminated by one of his enemies. It's a win-win situation, he needs soldiers to support Free Unther, and he has someone whose willing and able to fight who he also wants to get rid of for political reasons.

All true.

One complication in regard to recent Untheri history is that while the Renegedes would have leapt at the chance of fighting in the army Assuran raised during the Time of Troubles, the personal animosity that Helyos and King Hippartes likely feel for each other probably prevented that.

Which could mean that they fought to defend Mourktar's sovereignity in that war, i.e. making sure that the tiny city-state looked like a tough enough proposition to take to ensure that the army passed it by without besieging it.

After that, when the army of Chessentans collapsed into city-state, mercenary and warlord contigents, though, what did the Renegades do? Continue in the employ of Mourktar, sucking up their foreign trade balance? Or did the new Regent of Mourktar, once he had solidified his position, find a way to have someone else pay for the mercenary band?

Would he choose to have them hire on with the Norhtern Wizards of Messemprar, a band of Tiamatans or some of the nobles or generals of the post-Gilgeam regime? Or someone else?

quote:
Originally posted by Aldrick

The Sailors of the Crimson Sea, led by Lhrek Jarsyn, The Society of the Sword led by Stilmus, and The Wraith of the Inner Sea led by Kreodo the "Sea Queen" all could potentially be involved in the war as well - on either side.

All of these mercenary companies can be located in the 2E source book Gold & Glory.

The Wraith of the Inner Sea was employed by the Mulhorandi for a blockade against Messemprar, but suffered a defeat and are quite happy to be neutral from now on. The others... are possibilities.

On the other hand, the mercenary companies listed in Gold and Glory don't seem to be representative enough. There are too many exotics and weird ones, not many enough that appear to be viable businesses that operate in the endemic warfare in Chondath, Chessenta and Unther.

There are canonically tens of thousands of 'Chessentan' mercenaries, many of whom are employed in Unther and Mulhorand. It doesn't seem adequate to just have a few names of companies that employ a few hundred.

I've added a couple of companies to my campaign, but I'm always looking for more.

quote:
Originally posted by Aldrick

Finally, I think two other important groups would have an interest in being involved. The Red Wizards are canonically aiding Mourktar, explicitly because Mourktar is working with Free Unther.


That's right. An interesting question is which Red Wizards are aiding Mourktar, because Thay doesn't have anything resembling a unified foreign policy.

Some Red Wizards are backing former Gilgeamite nobles, some are backing ruthless and effective generals, some are backing Tiamatans, some the Cult of the Dragon, etc.

quote:
Originally posted by Aldrick

The second important group are the Okothian sarrukh who now worship Set. The clergy of Set would no doubt greatly wish to see Mulhorand fail to conquer Free Unther. After all, if they fail - they can move in to fill the void and begin spreading the faith so they can oppose Mulhorand more directly.

Set, his clergy and the serpentine folk of Okoth all want Mulhorand to fail, yes. What help they are in a position to give Free Unther, though, I am not so sure about.

They've made surreptious approaches about cooperating in assassinations against the Mulhorandi, but not received encouraging answers.

They might offer information, but what would they demand in return? Would they be seemingly altruistic at the beginning, hoping to become indispensible later?

quote:
Originally posted by Aldrick

Mulhorand conquering Unther should have very big geopolitical ramifications for the entire region. You'd no doubt find some interest in keeping tabs with what is going on in places like Aglarond and Chessenta. Chessenta may be too fractured to play a direct role, but it's certain that everyone has a very keen interest in how things play out (with differing opinions on the implications). And of course it has an impact on Aglarond as well - do they want a stronger or a weaker Mulhorand? What are the consequences of either for them?

Aglarond is rather preoccupied with the Thayan threat and the Simbul is not the stablest and most sensible of thinkers. In general, though, she'd rather see Mulhorand focus on containing Thay than fighting foreign wars.

quote:
Originally posted by Aldrick

Ultimately, someone is going to step out of the ashes of the war victorious. Everyone in the entire region is going to have an opinion. This includes many of the Shining Lands such as Durpar, Estagund, and Var the Golden. You could very well see mercenaries from that far south coming north to fight.

There are mercenaries from the Shining Lands fighting for Mulhorand, though not with any official backing (not that such a thing is all that important in Durpar, for example). A lot of people there are afraid of a new Mulhorandi Empire, but others see opportunities in a power that could help them open the trade routes through the monster-infested territories. And former Unther as a chaotic hellhole that is a breeding ground for bandits and other dangerous groups is bad for business, anyway.

quote:
Originally posted by Aldrick

...and of course, if Mulhorand loses the war, the implications almost write themselves... What was once Unther would fracture completely and collapse into total anarchy and civil war. Those that fought to keep it free would turn on each other like rabid dogs, attempting to claim whatever scrap of the dead empire that they could.


That's certainly a probable outcome, but the PCs aim to avoid it and create a stable polity out of the ruins of Unther. They will be reaching out to a lot of potential allies who would rather see Mulhorand contained by a weak buffer state than in possession of all the former lands of Unther and eyeing further conquests.

quote:
Originally posted by Aldrick

One of the unforeseen implications may be that Mulhorand over extends itself to such a degree, that civil unrest breaks out at home. Keep in mind this is EXACTLY what happened to Unther when it over extended itself - it's coffers essentially dried up. The Mulhorandi would be demoralized - especially those that fought in the war. It would be militarily weakened. So many doors open up for a coup d'état by cultists of Set, as well as a potential campaign against Mulhorand by Thay. (Potentially even working together.)

The Bey of Murghom, in my campaign, is diligently assisting his Mulhorandi overlords by providing troops and supplies, while simultaneously hoping for just that outcome. He wants Mulhorand to win the war, but be so war-weary and drained by the experience that Murghom transforms from a recalcitrant colony into an equal, vital and indepedent trade partner.

quote:
Originally posted by Aldrick

In fact, this all but cries out for Thay to do whatever is possible to support Free Unther, and to draw Mulhorand into a protracted and unwinnable war. Thay is flush with gold from their Enclaves, and they should have no trouble at all helping finance some of those mercenaries fighting for Free Unther.


This is exactly right. The PCs originally got involved in the war by acting as couriers and channeling funds from the Red Wizards in a deniable way. Many of the Red Wizards are eager to expend huge resources to help their prefered factions among the Free Unther forces, but they must also avoid overtly intervening in the war, so as to avoid involving Thay in a war against a resurgent Mulhorand that the Zulkirs don't want.

Szass Tam might be smart to try to provoke one, given his goals at the moment, but he's been established in official lore as incompetent at international relations, strategy and long-term planning in general.

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Aldrick
Senior Scribe

909 Posts

Posted - 18 Jul 2013 :  05:27:02  Show Profile Send Aldrick a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Icelander

All true.

One complication in regard to recent Untheri history is that while the Renegedes would have leapt at the chance of fighting in the army Assuran raised during the Time of Troubles, the personal animosity that Helyos and King Hippartes likely feel for each other probably prevented that.

Which could mean that they fought to defend Mourktar's sovereignity in that war, i.e. making sure that the tiny city-state looked like a tough enough proposition to take to ensure that the army passed it by without besieging it.

After that, when the army of Chessentans collapsed into city-state, mercenary and warlord contigents, though, what did the Renegades do? Continue in the employ of Mourktar, sucking up their foreign trade balance? Or did the new Regent of Mourktar, once he had solidified his position, find a way to have someone else pay for the mercenary band?

Would he choose to have them hire on with the Norhtern Wizards of Messemprar, a band of Tiamatans or some of the nobles or generals of the post-Gilgeam regime? Or someone else?


I'm unsure how much wealth the Temple of the Cloak possesses, but it's the largest church of Bane in the Realms and if we go by Faith's and Avatar's numbers - they have a rather large army. So, I'm assuming they have the funds to manage that army.

I think, though, it's important to consider the long and short term goals of Mourktar and Kabarrath in particular. In the short term, quite honestly, I think Mourktar is flush with gold and other wealth. I imagine that they are blatantly war profiteering on the side of Free Unther.

All those mercenaries are going to need weapons, armor, fresh supplies, the whole nine yards. All of the obvious looting that is going to go on during the war... they need a safe place to stash it while they continue fighting. Guess where Kabarrath wants that wealth to flow?

I'd expect to see a steady train of ships and supply lines flowing to and from Mourktar. There really aren't that many other good options. People could buy from Chessenta, but transporting goods like that through dangerous lands AND a war zone on top of it... it's more likely to be taken by the Mulhorandi. Thay, obviously, is the next best bet, but they have no reason to sail their ships further south than Mourktar if they can do business there. (And why not? The merchants of Mourktar can purchase the wares and re-sell them to the mercenaries who need them at a higher price easily.)

I would imagine the Temple of the Cloak loansharking newly formed mercenary companies, and even existing ones. That would allow them to get weapons, armor, and mounts in their hands once they've made a satisfactory down payment. However, their interest would be such that they'd be forced to work for Mourktar to pay it off. So, a lot of the wealth they'd obtain during the war would flow right back into the coffers of the Temple and Mourktar itself.

Commodities are likely rising in prices in Mourktar, as always happens during a war. So, to prevent civil unrest (Kabarrath does not want his people starving in the streets because they can't afford food), you'd likely see Mourktar engaging in aggressive trade policies with pretty much every nearby neutral power that they could find that could supply them with what they need. You'd probably see fleets showing up in Mourktar from as far away as Thesk and the Moonsea, and certainly you'd see no shortage of merchant ships from Chessenta, Thay, and even some from Aglarond.

The Priests of the Cloak likely have a policy that says only they can purchase goods from foreign trade vessels. This helps them avoid competition, and lets them arrange prices before the trade vessels arrive. This prevents a ship from showing up in Mourktar and realizing, "hey there is a metal shortage - I bet I could haggle my prices up by 300 percent!" Instead, Mourktar forges trade agreements with merchants before they arrive, and therefore limits war profiteering by foreigners.

The Banites likely have a rather strong surplus of goods stored up, and they are holding them back. This allows THEM to profit from the war, by controlling the prices and introducing artificial scarcity. This is like an invisible tax, since the Banites are also the governing body of Mourktar.

This brings us to the issue of trade guilds in Mourktar. I'd imagine there is a great deal of both love and hate of the Banites. On the one hand, the trade guilds are likely doing the best they've ever done. They are all becoming wealthy. On the other hand, I'd imagine Kabarrath is actively breaking them up. Secretly, he'd be working with various masters of the current guilds, encouraging them to break away - taking journeymen and apprentices with them - to establish a new trade guild that competes with the old trade guild. Mourktar would then recognize this guild by granting it a charter, and this would infuriate the leaders of the old guild. Publicly, the reasons given would be to prevent war profiteering, and to ensure greater access to goods and services by the people of Mourktar. Privately, the primary reason is to force competition between the guilds, thereby reducing the political threats posed to Kabarrath and the Priests of the Cloak.

He is effectively forcing competition between the guilds. This does allow for a greater flow of goods and services at lower prices to the people as he stated, however, so publicly speaking the people likely view this as a good move. The newly formed guilds would also be much more loyal to him than the old ones. In fact, I wager that the old guilds likely attempted to stage some type of strike, however I imagine it would have went over rather poorly. The leaders of the old guilds were likely arrested, as were any of their major conspirators. They were likely tortured, a few more arrests were made, and the leaders were likely sentenced to public execution on the breaking wheel to serve as an example - under the guise of "threatening the stability and security of Mourktar." After all, had they been successful it would have harmed the war effort.

Next, that brings us to the remnants of the Old Regime in Unther. After the death of Gilgeam the entire country fell into riots and rebellion as word spread. Priests of Gilgeam were lynched in the street, the altars of the fallen deity were openly desecrated, and I imagine the nobility were in a panic. They likely retreated to isolated country estates... then the armies of Mulhorand appeared. Some of them likely sided with the Mulhorandi. However, some of them resisted.

Many likely retreated north to Messemprar, but I think it's important to remember that Messemprar had been in rebellion multiple times and had little love for the way things were... they were not likely to give the old nobility a sympathetic ear. That's where Mourktar comes into play. I imagine they are actively extending their hand to members of the Old Untheric nobility, encouraging them to come north and find safe haven with them.

This works out well for them on many levels.

First, they're going to bring their wealth with them. This is valuable to the economy of Mourktar.

Second, they're bringing with them a sense of legitimacy. Keep in mind how stratified social class is in the Realms. Many people simply are not going to accept commoners being able to rule themselves... imagine the implications! Aristocratic nobility depend on the illusion that commoners need them to be ruled by their betters. Imagine Unther free of nobility entirely, and how this sentiment could spread throughout the entire region. The Mulan of Chessenta and Thay have every reason to support Mourktar to prevent such a thing from coming to pass to... "restore" the "legitimate rulers" of Unther. This is a fear that the Banite priests could spread, and reap the direct financial rewards as a result.

Third, they're bringing their families with them. Mourktar is one of the most stable places in the region. It is led by Banites, who aren't all that different from Gilgeam. In fact, they are better, because they aren't paranoid and crazy. They are reasonable, predictable, and understandable. The nobility of Unther are used to serving under a tyrannical cult, and so gravitating toward the priests of the Cloak should feel rather natural for them.

However, that is only partly the point. By bringing their families north, it allows Mourktar to hold them hostage if necessary. This helps ensure loyalty. So, while some members of a noble family are off fighting, their young children and wives are in Mourktar - under the protection of the Priests of the Cloak. Kabarrath also has the ability to arrange marriages between the Old Unther nobility and the nobility of Mourktar. This is advantageous toward him because it turns their attention to the events in the south, and gives them a political stake in the outcome. If they have their attention focused on events outside the city, it further allows him to consolidate power within it.

On the outside, it looks as if Kabarrath wants to stabilize Unther, and put the old nobility back into power while extending the influence of the Temple of the Cloak. This means, in the minds of most, that the Priests of the Cloak want a unified and stable Unther. This would be false.

For centuries Mourktar has fought against Untheric influence. The last thing they want to see is a strong unified nation state to their south. They do not wish to replace the problems they had with the old regime with the same problems, but with a new regime. Some might argue that the Priests of the Cloak could conquer Unther, and basically have Bane act as the 'New Gilgeam'. However, I would argue that Kabarrath would see the foolishness in that plan.

He would face the same problem as Mulhorand is ultimately going to face, which is the same problem Unther faced before it... biting off more than it can chew. Kabarrath wants Mourktar to be the center of influence and power in the entire region, but he doesn't have to rule the lands of Unther to achieve that. He only needs those lands to become dependent upon his city.

His ultimate desire is to see the lands of Unther fall into an endless civil war, led by its former nobles while Mulhorand ultimately collapses as a result of its over reach. Meanwhile, Mourktar remains safe, the faith of Bane can spread unimpeded, all the while profiting from all sides of any conflict.

In the end, what Kabarrath envisions for Old Unther is something very similar to the Border Kingdoms; a place with constantly shifting borders and self-proclaimed principalities and kingdoms all fighting over the corpse of a dead empire. Meanwhile, Mourktar (and more specifically - the Temple of the Cloak) profits from the endless unrest.

This future of Unther likely would be appealing to most of the powers that be in Chessenta as well, as the numerous numbers of mercenaries there would never want for work, and they too would profit. However, Kabarrath is not advertising his intentions publicly, and for now at least everyone is focused on ensuring Mulhorand is forced out.

Mulhorand taking Unther easily would be the worst possible outcome anyone could imagine in either Chessenta or Threskel. It would not be long, they figure, that Mulhorand would eventually turn their attention toward them as well. While there are certainly numerous independent Chessentan mercenary companies that are willing to work for Mulhorand, it certainly is not in the long term interest of most of those in power. Neither is it in the interest of anyone in Thay.

One of the ways Kabarrath intends to maintain Mourktar's influence in the region is through agreements with pirates. They need a safe harbor and a place to do business. Mourktar opens up its docks to anyone who wants to do business, including pirates. However, with pirate groups they make certain deals; for example, in exchange for safe harbor and the ability to trade in Mourktar they can't attack any ships bound for Mourktar or that belong to Mourktar.

Now, this pisses off all of Mourktar's neighbors. By making these agreements, it allows Mourktar to have an unfair trade advantage. Some countries, such as Aglarond, may try to punish Mourktar by making it illegal to trade with them. However, Kabarrath has come up with a way of dealing with such outcomes.

Since he deals with the pirates he can negotiate with them. This is beneficial as he can cut a deal to protect merchants and their ships. Of course, this "negotiation" requires them to make regular payments, but in the end you might call this "pirate insurance". Or perhaps more accurately, it should be considered "extortion". Because if you don't pay it, then Kabarrath orders the pirates who dock in Mourktar to attack those merchant ships, and they actively hunt them down. The same is true for pirates who don't do business with Mourktar.

As a result, if a merchant doesn't do business with Mourktar it's not that big of a deal, because most of their goods will be stolen by pirates who will ultimately bring it to Mourktar anyway. Those that do pay the "pirate insurance" receive a guarantee from Mourktar to replace any goods or ships stolen by pirates. This is much less likely to happen the more pirates that do business with Mourktar, thus meaning the pay outs are small. On top of that they charge enough to make a profit and pay off the pirates.

When they engage in these negotiations, that's when they strike aggressive trade deals. In short, those deals are meant to guarantee merchants a certain price for a certain quantity and quality of goods if they dock in Mourktar. In many cases, those agreements demand that they dock in Mourktar first before sailing further into the Alamber Sea. This allows them to have a very strong influence over the trade that happens in that region.

Their goal is to ensure that every good and service sold stops first in Mourktar. It would then be purchased there and resold to be used elsewhere, thus ensuring that the city is like a middle man in all trade deals. This is how they intend to deal with and influence a fractured Unther in the future.

Tactically speaking, they plan to achieve this goal as follows...

They are sending mercenaries to southern Unther - the already conquered regions. Most of the fighting is taking place in the north, and the goal is to begin in essence - causing mass chaos, forcing the army of Mulhorand to turn south to reconquer territory, or to divide up their forces.

Remember, strategically speaking, Kabarrath is not trying to defeat Mulhorand. His goal is merely to demoralize and bankrupt them, forcing them to withdraw militarily from the lands of Old Unther. So his goal is not to "conquer and hold" as the Mulhorandi perhaps suspect.

This is where the Renegades and Helyos come into play - along with a number of other mercenary groups. They've been given instructions to venture to the south and to be as nimble and as quick as possible. They are encouraged NOT to engage any major Mulhorandi force on the battlefield. If they hear about Mulhorandi army on the way, they should immediately begin retreating.

Their goal is to go to each town and village the come across (avoiding large cities), and basically offer the following demands: offer tribute to Mourktar or be destroyed. Tribute to Mourktar involves admitting that they are traitors by siding with Mulhorand (even if they were forced to surrender!), taking up arms against Mulhorand, and sending financial tribute north to Mourktar. Roughly 2/3rds of all tribute gathered goes to the mercenaries who collect it, who must also send it to the north to Mourktar.

Those that do not offer tribute to Mourktar will be destroyed utterly. The mercenaries will attack their town or village, and anyone who resists will be killed. Anyone who survives will be rounded up and sent north to Mourktar as slaves - who will in turn be sold to Thay. Everything not nailed down will be pillaged, including the crops in the fields which would be ripped from the ground by the roots. The town or village itself will then be set on fire, and finally a handful of survivors will be set free to spread the word to other towns and villages of what happens when they refuse to bend the knee to the Black Hand.

Basically, in short, imagine Helyos and the other mercenaries like him being the patron saints of Genghis Khan. No mercy. Utter brutality. In short: burn, rape, and pillage all who resist to sow fear into the hearts of those who have yet to see the wisdom in bending the knee.

The mercenaries are being paid based on how much they can pillage and carry away, as well as how much tribute they can collect. Regardless the goal is to have it all flow back to Mourktar, so that it can be sold.

In addition to do this, the mercenaries will be ordered to assault and disrupt the Mulhorandi supply lines, with the goal of cutting off resources to the army in the north. This will force the army to turn south again to deal with the mercenaries, or to hunker down and begin relying upon the people they conquered (thus, perhaps - ideally - inciting them into rebellion). No one wants to have their food taken by soldiers, or to be forced to give shelter to them in their homes.

If the mercenaries see the Mulhorandi laying siege, they should attack their supply lines, but also harass them directly. In other words, they shouldn't engage them in a battle, but send light calvary archers and wizards to assault them quickly and immediately begin retreating. They should never fully engage them in a battle, but instead think "death by a thousand cuts."

Ultimately, the main Mulhorandi force in the north will be forced to turn south to deal with the problems there. However, with the Northern Alliance army that opposes them, they're going to have to leave a significant number in the north to defend what they've conquered.

However, by dividing up their army it allows the Northern Alliance to launch direct assaults against the forces of Mulhorand - defeating them in battle, and conquering territory of their own.

The problem they have, of course, is that while they are aligned against Mulhorand for now - once Mulhorand withdraws the very real and deep divisions will surface. The territories conquered by the Northern Alliance will not be able to hold together, and will begin to fracture, and that is exactly what Kabarrath wants to see happen.


quote:
Originally posted by Icelander

On the other hand, the mercenary companies listed in Gold and Glory don't seem to be representative enough. There are too many exotics and weird ones, not many enough that appear to be viable businesses that operate in the endemic warfare in Chondath, Chessenta and Unther.

There are canonically tens of thousands of 'Chessentan' mercenaries, many of whom are employed in Unther and Mulhorand. It doesn't seem adequate to just have a few names of companies that employ a few hundred.

I've added a couple of companies to my campaign, but I'm always looking for more.


Absolutely. However, I wouldn't worry about having a name for all of them. That would be way too much to manage. I would focus instead on the most prominent and important companies involved.

When it comes to Chessenta it's no doubt that the numerous mercenary companies are playing on both sides of the war. However, I think a better question to ask is what the leaders of the various city states of the region think about what is going down. Also, it'd be helpful to know if Tchazzar is back or not, because that would have a huge influence in how Chessenta reacts to events.

On the whole, I imagine that most of the city states do not look forward to the idea of a resurgent Mulhorandi Empire on their doorstep. The thing about empires, is that they're never satisfied with what they have, and they will always continue to expand their borders. This is why I think the people of Threskel would see Mulhorand as a threat to their continued independence, and would quickly throw their lot in with any rebellion against them.

If Old Unther falls - they're next.

quote:
Originally posted by Icelander

That's right. An interesting question is which Red Wizards are aiding Mourktar, because Thay doesn't have anything resembling a unified foreign policy.

Some Red Wizards are backing former Gilgeamite nobles, some are backing ruthless and effective generals, some are backing Tiamatans, some the Cult of the Dragon, etc.


My feeling is that Lauzoril the Zulkir of Enchantment has involvement with Mourktar. He sent an agent to fight in the tournament. He didn't win, but the way I played things out was that Kabarrath uncovered his agent. He then used his agent to assassinate the winner of the tournament, and to take the fall for it. Kabarrath at the same time forged a secret deal with Lauzoril and the Red Wizards.

We know that Kabarrath and the Priests of the Cloak have a rather strong alliance with the Red Wizards of Thay. In virtually every mention of the cities activities, the Red Wizards are mentioned indirectly in some way.

From Faiths and Avatars:
quote:
It has been said (accurately) that only the presence of this temple, which grew to rule the entire city following the death of King Theris and the subsequent assassination of his successor, prevented the more ambitious Red Wizards of Thay from abandoning all plans to assault Rashemen and instead establishing a beachhead in Threskel from which to attack decadent Unther and fractious Chessenta.


In another entry elsewhere, it's mentioned how they're sending magical weapons to Mourktar at cut-rate prices.

I wouldn't be shocked to find a large enclave located in the city that was built after the death of King Theris.

As for other Red Wizards aiding various different power groups and factions, absolutely. I agree 100%. However, from the perspective of Mourktar - if used the way I outlined - that wouldn't matter much. Ideally, everything would flow through them before arriving in war torn Unther. In fact, having the Red Wizards support many different factions would be advantageous to their goals.

quote:
Originally posted by Icelander

Set, his clergy and the serpentine folk of Okoth all want Mulhorand to fail, yes. What help they are in a position to give Free Unther, though, I am not so sure about.

They've made surreptious approaches about cooperating in assassinations against the Mulhorandi, but not received encouraging answers.

They might offer information, but what would they demand in return? Would they be seemingly altruistic at the beginning, hoping to become indispensible later?


I'd have the clergy of Set operating independently. They could make arrangements with various power groups, but my feeling is that they'd target prominent figures in the military (generals) for assassination. Their activities would likely be focused more on what is going on back at home in Mulhorand. I'd expect them to be moving toward creating civil unrest at home, and I'd likely have them be working in some way with Murghom.

They may also approach some of the Old Unther nobility and former clergy of Gilgeam.

I wouldn't expect to see the clergy of Set raising an army to fight on the battlefield. Their overall goal would be likely to secure some power in a broken Unther, but more importantly to destabilize Mulhorand to try and put themselves in a position to take control.

quote:
Originally posted by Icelander

There are mercenaries from the Shining Lands fighting for Mulhorand, though not with any official backing (not that such a thing is all that important in Durpar, for example). A lot of people there are afraid of a new Mulhorandi Empire, but others see opportunities in a power that could help them open the trade routes through the monster-infested territories. And former Unther as a chaotic hellhole that is a breeding ground for bandits and other dangerous groups is bad for business, anyway.


It should be noted that the Crow Banners (which are loyal to the Temple of the Cloak) are active down in the Shining Lands. So I imagine that the temple has some connections down there, and could be bringing mercenaries up from the south just like with the mercenaries in Chessenta.

Though, I do imagine that most of them likely favor a Mulhorandi victory, but like you point out - would be afraid of a new Mulhorandi Empire. Their leaders likely still remember the Coin Wars.

quote:
Originally posted by Icelander

That's certainly a probable outcome, but the PCs aim to avoid it and create a stable polity out of the ruins of Unther. They will be reaching out to a lot of potential allies who would rather see Mulhorand contained by a weak buffer state than in possession of all the former lands of Unther and eyeing further conquests.


I think they'd have a rather easy time uniting people to stop Mulhorand. The problem is that everyone that would be interested have widely divergent goals and intentions. Short of another powerful tyrant like Gilgeam, I don't see how Unther is held together. None of the factions independently have enough power to conquer and hold Unther without massively overreaching. In the end, I think Mulhorand was really the only one that had that chance.

Certainly, portions of Unther could be stabilized. However, the best case scenario I foresee is that it'll look more like Chessenta than a unified nation state.

----

In my Realms, I had Kabarrath utilize the plan I outlined above. Unther collapsed into a wide number of factions, each fighting for supremacy, while simultaneously resisting Mulhorand.

Mulhorand was ultimately wracked by Untheric terrorists, sponsored by the cult of Set, various Red Wizard factions, and Mourktar.

After being forced to call back their troops from Unther, and losing the war, Mulhorand was effectively bankrupt. Unrest began to break out, and the cult of Set used all of this to create a civil war. Mulhorand never recovered, and the civil war never officially ended.

In Thay the nation collapsed into civil war thanks to Szass Tam. However, in my Realms Szass Tam was defeated, and a New Zulkirate was formed. Thay recovered from their civil war, while Mulhorand was constantly dealing with internal civil strife. The cult of Set eventually allied with the Red Wizards, and bit by bit Mulhorand was conquered by Thay.

Not long after Thay collapsed into civil war so did Aglarond, as the Sons of Hoar made their move to seat one of their own on the throne. Toward the end of the Thayan civil war the Simbul disappeared, and no one knows what happened to her. So ultimately the Sons of Hoar were successful. They were able to get support from the Hoarans in Mourktar, who are in turn supported by the Banites. (Keep in mind that between 3E and 4E at some point Hoar moves to serve Bane - I have this happen as a result of events dealing with Hoar's faithful in Mourktar.)

In the end Mourktar conquers all of Threskel, and extends its influence to encompass Messemprar, and the land all along the River of Metals. They continued to enrich themselves by establishing mines all within the Riders of the Sky Mountains in the region - pulling out a lot of gold.

Unther remains fractured, but united enough to face off against Thay should it attempt to expand beyond the River of Swords. Otherwise, it's a somewhat stable land of petty kingdoms, fiefdoms, and principalities that are in constant war with one another.

A Threskel - Aglarond - Chessenta alliance effectively decimated Thayan naval ability. This more-or-less left Threskel in control of all of the sea trade east of the Bay of Chessenta. The Alaor also fell under the control of Threskel, and it is basically a knife to the throat of Thay daring them to send a conquering force across the River of Swords.

(Suffice it to say, the relationship Mourktar had with the Red Wizards eventually goes sour after the formation of the New Zulkirate and their slow conquest of Mulhorand.)

That's pretty much how things ended up in my Realms.
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Icelander
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Posted - 18 Jul 2013 :  09:13:48  Show Profile  Visit Icelander's Homepage Send Icelander a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Excellent analysis, Aldrick.

I agree with the vast majority of it, but have some further thoughts. I'll try to organise them according to subject.

Wealth of the Black Lord's Cloak and hiring of mercenaries:
While it's canonical that the temple has a massive army, I'd think that the fact that the temple has such a huge army in comparison to the local economy means that they probably have a constant struggle with their balance of payments.

Threskel as a whole is listed as having 50,000 inhabitants. Mourktar has just under 10,000 ones. I think I saw somewhere that the High Imperceptor could put a force of 6,000 into the field. This presumably includes his clergy, but even so, it's a huge number, especially since the Assurans must have troops of their own and Mourktar, until recently, had a secular government with a standing army.

Even if we were to interpret the numbers to say that the 50,000 people who live in Threskel exclude the 20,000+ of Mordulkin, counted as part of Chessenta, and that the Black Lord's Cloak is effectively an independent community and their soldiers not counted under the 10,000 that make up Mourktar, we still have an utterly crazy ratio of military participation.

We have a city state with less than 20,000 people in total, counting hinterlands and all, that can field one force of 6,000 professional, full-time soldiers, in addition to any temple guards and priests of the Assurans and any town guard and soldiers of Mourktar itself.

Even if we assume that many of these are templar warriors who travel from all around the Realms to fight in Bane's holy service and thus don't want or need families, that still leaves an awful lot of people to arm, feed, house and otherwise support with a labour force that's comparatively tiny. Sure, the templar warriors may come bringing gifts of wealth and generally bring their own weapons, but that doesn't mean that they can support themselves the rest of their livespans without a functioning economy.

So in my view, the Black Lord's Cloak was over-extended financially even before the Time of Troubles. The recent Mulhorandi invasion of Unther and the consequent Thayan covert support have been nothing short of a miraculous blessing, allowing the temple to pay off its considerable debts and even amass some surplus wealth.

But for the period of 1357-1371 DR, most of Thay didn't have any reason to care about sparsely settled, dragon-infested and poor Threskel. Zulkir Lauzoril might have engaged in his usual plotting, but a paid agent or a dozen don't bring the income required to support this huge army.

Nor do raids against the rest of Threskel yield a rich bounty, because you can't steal much from fishermen and ranchers, particularly not when they number no more than 20,000-30,000 in total and are living on more than 30,000 square miles of difficult and wind-swept nothingness.

Between the occasional dragon attack and the difficulty of supplying an army in Threskel's miles and miles of miles and miles, it is more expensive to raid Mourktar's neighbours than the usual loot is worth. I expect Telthaug does it to exercise his troops, spread terror, keep the peasants under his tyrant's heel and suchlike.

While Kabbarath Telthaug managed immense political gains in 1357-1360 DR and probably also got his hands on King Theris' treasury, I question how much wealth can have been there. King Theris ruled a grand total of 10,000 people in a poor land. Even if every head of household was a fairly prosperous craftsman, merchant, fisherman or sailor, there just can't have been enough to keep an army of 6,000 heavy armoured infantry for long.

Not to mention that in 1358 DR, a huge army under King Hippartes/Assuran invaded the area on its way into Unther. Given that Kabbarath Telthaug had just assumed power over a traditionally Assuran-dominated city-state, he can't have enjoyed that. Just holding on to power must have cost him an immense military effort, likely necesseciating the hiring of many mercenaries.

After Anhur's defeat of Assuran, the remnants of the army would have posed a threat for years. Granted, they probably wouldn't stay in Threskel long, given the dragons and the lack of anything to eat, but they'll still eat a year or two of harvests and reduce the peasants to terrified and brutalised penury, making it impossible for Telthaug to profit from raiding or taxing them for quite a few years.

All in all, once Mourktar was safe from being conquered by the Chessentans, I imagine that the newly-installed Regent was eager to stop paying any foreign mercenaries he had in his service. Sending them to Unther would have provided a way to do that.

Of course, he'd try to retain a good relationship with them, in case he needed them later, but the whole point of mercenaries is that you don't need to pay them when you are not at war. In particular you do not expend your hard currency reserves paying for mercenaries when you have a regular military force that numbers more than 12% of your whole country and no apparent threats for the moment, i.e. between 1360 DR and 1371 DR.

So, which faction in Unther would the Renegades have served during that time?

Mourktar as a supply port for Unther:
There will be strong incentives for other groups to avoid the Regent of Mourktar's repressive economic policies. If he tries to use price-fixing or enforce a monopoly, many of the merchants of Chessenta, Wizard Reach, Thay and further away that want to profit from the war in Unther will simply choose to unload in Messemprar itself, assuming there is not an effective blockade.

Also, as a general rule, Mourktar can't get away with being too high-handed with foreign merchants, for the simple reason that they have nothing particularly unique that would bring them there, but probably can't survive without them. Mourktar, much like the city-states of the Moonsea, has far too many soldiers for its own hinterland to feed. A constant stream of Thayan, Wizard Reach and Chessentan ships is necessary if they are not to die of famine.

Not to mention that trade is pretty much the only thing that can bring them the wealth they need for such a huge army. Fishery and raching is not going to pay for 6,000 plate-armoured templars, especially not if you have less than 10,000 adults to fish and ranch.

Fall of Gilgeam and the state of Unther afterwards:
While it's true that the initial response to Gilgeam's death was jubilation, riots, desecration of altars and violence against priests and nobles, I think it's important to keep in mind that there were thirteen years between the fall of Gilgeam and the invasion of the Mulhorandi.

And the Gray Ghosts and Tiamatans, while influential, were still a small fraction of the people in total; i.e. they were revolutionary groups, rebels and bandits, without the support from the majority of the populace or the power to impose a government of their own. And the former clergy of Gilgeam, as well as the senior civil servants, military officers and nobility, were the only ones with trained soldiers.

In my view, those military officers whose men continued to follow them, as well as nobles with strong personal retinues and ex-priests with elite temple guards, would all be in a position to set up as warlords.

Of course, the invasion of Northern Unther threw a spanner into the works, but since that soon fragmented into bands of armed men and not an organised army, I imagine that the Unthalass-based Old Regime was content to ignore the north and the troubles there and instead dealt with their own situation.

In my campaign, at least, they managed to form a coalition government of nobles, ex-priests, senior civil servants and generals. There were huge regions where the Tiamatans or Gray Ghosts effectively ruled, as well as near constant riots and street battles in the towns and cities, but there was a semblance of government.

At least until the invasion of 1371 DR, at which point the coalition Old Regime quickly crumbled.

Nobles, generals and other Old Regime survivors:
In my campaign, the die-hard Gilgeamites mostly died in the intervening years, some of them in the Citadel of Black Ash and others at the hands of revolutionaries and priest-haters.

There were a lot of them, however, and some of them made it north to Messemprar. Others, as you say, will have found refugee in Mourktar.

The moderates of the Old Regime either collaborated with Mulhorand (surprisingly rare, actually), fled the country entirely or they went to the north of Unther. It's true that Messemprar might not welcome the Old Regime, but on the other hand, Messemprar had a hard time objecting when those who arrived were generals and nobles, leading their defeated, but still armed, troops.

There are about as many refugees in northern Unther as there are long-time residents there. And the Old Regime soldiers there outnumber the soldiers of independent Messemprar. So the Northern Wizards were wise enough not to object to the presence of the nobles of the Old Regime.

Cooperation is more difficult, but fortunately, the majority of the soldiers follow moderates and even liberals (comparatively speaking) of the Old Regime. Mostly, though, they have a personal loyalty to an individual commander, meaning that Free Unther is dominated by warlords, with the exception of the city of Messemprar itself.

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Icelander
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Unther falling and the interests of neighbours:
From an international standpoint, Unther is much the same as the Ottoman Empire of 18th-19th, i.e. the Sick Man of Faerun (Europe). No polity with regional interests can afford to have their rivals profit from the collapse of the decrepit former empire, so they all have a stake in propping it up, whatever form it takes. Rather a weak Unther than a Thayan or Mulhorandi (or an Alasklerbanbastos-dominated 'Old Unther inc. Threskel and large parts of Chessenta) empire made much more powerful by control of Untheri land.

Note that even city-states in the Moonsea have a powerful stake, as they canonically import most of their acricultural produce. Mulhorand, Thay and a well-run Unther all produce an acricultural surplus and the Thayan one has been vital for the Moonsea for decades now, to supplement the produce of the Vilhon Reach. The Moonsea powers export slaves, minerals and manufactured goods to Thay and receive grain and slave-produced woven goods in return. Any power controlling Unther (and the coast of Threskel, which would soon follow the conquest of Unther) can prevent this trade.

Much the same concern applies for the Pirates of the Fallen Stars. I note that the Zhentarim and the pirates have both been heavily involved in supplying Messemprar and propping up the Free Unther rump, so obviously they realise their vital national interests here well enough.

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Icelander
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Posted - 18 Jul 2013 :  10:14:26  Show Profile  Visit Icelander's Homepage Send Icelander a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Regent of Mourktar and his goals:
quote:
Originally posted by Aldrick

On the outside, it looks as if Kabarrath wants to stabilize Unther, and put the old nobility back into power while extending the influence of the Temple of the Cloak. This means, in the minds of most, that the Priests of the Cloak want a unified and stable Unther. This would be false.

For centuries Mourktar has fought against Untheric influence. The last thing they want to see is a strong unified nation state to their south. They do not wish to replace the problems they had with the old regime with the same problems, but with a new regime. Some might argue that the Priests of the Cloak could conquer Unther, and basically have Bane act as the 'New Gilgeam'. However, I would argue that Kabarrath would see the foolishness in that plan.

He would face the same problem as Mulhorand is ultimately going to face, which is the same problem Unther faced before it... biting off more than it can chew. Kabarrath wants Mourktar to be the center of influence and power in the entire region, but he doesn't have to rule the lands of Unther to achieve that. He only needs those lands to become dependent upon his city.


I disagree slightly, in that he urgently needs at least some additional 100,000 and land to settle them on, in order to become self-sufficient in basic necessities.

The best way for him to do that would be to carve out a domain in northern Unther, directly ruled from Mourktar. This would include Messemprar, most likely, and as much of the area around the Methmere as he could manage, but probably not go further south than Shussel, or so. This would be 500,000 people, even if you don't count refugees (who by this point would be mostly dead) and thus roughly twenty times what he rules now.

He'd be content with less, say just the River of Metals and a port on the Methmere. If Messemprar doesn't survive, he wouldn't weep. But he needs these 100,000 farmers and land for them. Otherwise, he's at the mercy of anyone with a larger fleet than his, which includes pretty much every single neighbour.

Remember, Mourktar is a tiny city-state in the poorest and most sparsely populated land in Faerun (even the Endless Waste has more population density). No self-respecting tyrant can rule with just that as his power base. He needs northern Unther, at least a part of it.

For the rest of Unther, his goals are as you say.

quote:
Originally posted by Aldrick

One of the ways Kabarrath intends to maintain Mourktar's influence in the region is through agreements with pirates. They need a safe harbor and a place to do business. Mourktar opens up its docks to anyone who wants to do business, including pirates. However, with pirate groups they make certain deals; for example, in exchange for safe harbor and the ability to trade in Mourktar they can't attack any ships bound for Mourktar or that belong to Mourktar.

Now, this pisses off all of Mourktar's neighbors. By making these agreements, it allows Mourktar to have an unfair trade advantage. Some countries, such as Aglarond, may try to punish Mourktar by making it illegal to trade with them. However, Kabarrath has come up with a way of dealing with such outcomes.

Since he deals with the pirates he can negotiate with them. This is beneficial as he can cut a deal to protect merchants and their ships. Of course, this "negotiation" requires them to make regular payments, but in the end you might call this "pirate insurance". Or perhaps more accurately, it should be considered "extortion". Because if you don't pay it, then Kabarrath orders the pirates who dock in Mourktar to attack those merchant ships, and they actively hunt them down. The same is true for pirates who don't do business with Mourktar.

As a result, if a merchant doesn't do business with Mourktar it's not that big of a deal, because most of their goods will be stolen by pirates who will ultimately bring it to Mourktar anyway. Those that do pay the "pirate insurance" receive a guarantee from Mourktar to replace any goods or ships stolen by pirates. This is much less likely to happen the more pirates that do business with Mourktar, thus meaning the pay outs are small. On top of that they charge enough to make a profit and pay off the pirates.

When they engage in these negotiations, that's when they strike aggressive trade deals. In short, those deals are meant to guarantee merchants a certain price for a certain quantity and quality of goods if they dock in Mourktar. In many cases, those agreements demand that they dock in Mourktar first before sailing further into the Alamber Sea. This allows them to have a very strong influence over the trade that happens in that region.

Their goal is to ensure that every good and service sold stops first in Mourktar. It would then be purchased there and resold to be used elsewhere, thus ensuring that the city is like a middle man in all trade deals. This is how they intend to deal with and influence a fractured Unther in the future.

This is indeed Kabbarath Telthaug's plan in my campaign...

Unfortunately for him, it's too ambitious. Thayan merchants doesn't see any reason why he should be profiting and they should be underwriting it. And just the Wizard Reach cities, under Thayan influence, have populations (counting hinterland) and fleets that dwarf Mourktar and indeed, the whole of the Threskel. As for Bezantur of Alaor, the Thayan ships there could sweep every ship from Mourktar as well as every pirate flying Bane's banner from the seas in less than an hour, if they ever tried to match them in power and use the pirates as a navy.

No, if Mourktar overreaches, Thay will squash the city and raze the harbour. The pirates will sruvive, as long as they are not foolish enough to challenge Thay.

Kabbarath Telthaug will have to be content with profiting from the war without trying to dictate terms to merchants from Thay.

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Aldrick
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Wealth of the Black Lord's Cloak and Hiring of Mercenaries:

I wouldn't pay much attention to those things as listed in canon. There was a huge revision between population numbers between 2E and 3E... and you're absolutely right in that there is no way Threskel (let alone Mourktar by itself) supports the numbers talked about in canon.

According to Faiths and Avatars Kabarrath commands: "...over 700 Banite priests of rank, another 1,000 lesser clergy members, and a well-equipped, harshly disciplined army of loyal troops armed with many items of minor magic, and well practiced in slaughter."

This is on top of the adventuring bands the Six Black Blades and the Crow Banners (active in Murghom, Mulhorand, and Var), AS WELL AS the pirate fleet of Alkoth.

Now, that's just insane... However, what I ultimately draw from that is that the Temple of the Cloak is a very successful and wealthy temple of Bane. Hence why it is the largest cult of the Black Hand in all of the Realms. That being said the priests mentioned are not all located in Mourktar. They are spread throughout the region (but ultimately answer to the Priests of the Cloak).

Basically, I have those clergy spread out in Thay, Chessenta, the Reach, in Murghom and the Shining Lands. They may have local temples or churches, but they all ultimately answer to the Priests of the Cloak in Mourktar.

This widespread influence is also what allows the Priests of the Cloak to become as wealthy as they have and afford their own standing army. Which I envision to be Banite Templars that are somewhat like mercenaries - constantly being hired out to fight in wars in Chessenta for military practice. So whenever a war breaks out in Chessenta between the city-states (very often) - the Priests of the Cloak can extend their hand for a modest fee and a portion of the loot.

As one might expect of a Banite led army, they would tend to be disciplined and highly trained. No doubt capable of defeating a force much larger in size due to their superior equipment, training, and tactics.

According to Old Empires, Mourktar itself has a population of 10,000, and a permanent army of 500 soldiers, and it drafts a force of 2,000 from the city#146;s population and the surrounding region.

However, as I said previously - I largely ignore such things, because of the shifting population numbers between editions. (Which was a result of new population formulas.)

What I did instead was measure the size of Threskel - roughly 41,400 Square Miles. I then did a population calculation using this tool, which is based off Medieval Demographics Made Easy. Due to the poor soil, I mark Threskel as having an Arid condition, and I received a total population of ALL of Threskel of 828,000. This would include everyone in the entire country, mostly those located in the small rural communities.

The land supports three cities for a total population of 24,840. I then divvy things up this way between the cities.

Mordulkin: 10,309
Mourktar: 9,368
Thamor: 5,163

This is exactly how many cities exist in Threskel based on Dragons of Faerun, and I think this is a more realistic estimate of population. Each of the cities would have villages and towns that they oversee and control, as they'd need the rural folk in order to feed the people in the cities. Most of the rural folk are fishermen and ranchers as you outlined.

In those numbers I'd also count the dragons and any other monsters. So that could reduce the "human" population a bit. (And the dragons, individually, may "count" as more than one person.)

With these numbers I'd estimate that Mourktar had a standing army of around 129 individuals in total, who also doubled as city guard. If necessary Mourktar could have fielded 81 trained soldiers from the city itself - without overly putting the stability of the city in danger - and increasing those numbers from conscripts taken from the countryside. This likely means they could field around 400 to 500 fighters on their own to defend their lands. Add on top of that any mercenaries that they could hire. This was under King Theris.

The Banite Templars would have been independent of that fighting force, and would have effectively been a mercenary group under the command of the Temple of the Cloak. The Temple likely hired them out to fight wars in Chessenta, and so they likely did not count as part of the regular population.

Under King Theris I'd put them at around 200 strong, most of which were kept in the field. They likely had an agreement with King Theris that they'd defend Mourktar if it was attacked.

After the death of King Theris, I believe that we'd eventually see a merger between the 129 city guards and the Banite Templars of the Cloak. Ultimately, this means that Kabarrath could likely field a total of around 350 trained Templars, a portion of which also served as city guards.

This simply increases the reason that Kabarrath had to make arrangements with Heylos after he became Regent for political reasons. If Heylos commanded a mercenary company of around 200 men, who were well trained and willing to fight, and was willing to challenge Kabarrath's regency... even if Heylos lost the war it would be costly and it's unlikely that Kabarrath would have been able to hold on to power.

It's my feeling that Kabarrath made arrangements to keep Heylos and the Renegades busy in Unther once Gilgeam fell. He likely made arrangements with some of the old nobility who paid for the assistance of the Renegades and the Templars of the Black Lord's Cloak.

Kabarrath and Mourktar likely began their war profiteering long before the Mulhorandi invasion. This is likely one of the reasons they repeatedly aided Messemprar with their rebellions, and were cutting deals with the Red Wizards. After all, Unther imploded after the deal of Gilgeam - the entire country fell into a full scale revolt. Altars and temples to Gilgeam were desecrated, his clergy were lynched in the streets, and it's likely the people had little love for the Old Nobility either - who were propped up by the Old Regime. Many of them were likely fighting to restore order before Mulhorand decided to play conqueror.

That's plenty of opportunity for Mourktar to position for advantage, and the cities population likely grew dramatically with people fleeing the war in the south. So, prior to the 1370's I picture Mourktar having a crazy Dubai like expansion. In essence, you arrive ten years earlier and it's a small city, and ten years later that small city has grown to nearly twice its size.

I imagine a huge tent city outside the walls of Mourktar - filled mostly with refugees. Nobles, merchants, and those with useful trade skills are eventually allowed within the city to make a home there. (Especially those who'd bring their wealth with them.) Unskilled workers, those that don't have much value to Mourktar, are likely forced to live in squalor in a tent city outside of the walls. Those who cause trouble are likely rounded up by the Banite Templars - along with their families - and are sold into slavery to the Red Wizards.

No weapons and the like would be allowed within the camps, so the Templars would constantly patrol them in search for contraband. The more attractive and desirable individuals would be taken and sold to Festhalls and pimped out to the numerous mercenaries, nobles, merchants, and pirates that would find themselves visiting Mourktar. This would be seen as a better fate than being forced to live in squalor outside the city.

They are likely also limiting the number of armed individuals - particularly mercenaries - that can enter the city at any one time. There would be mercenary camps that would be much further away from the city, with a certain required distance between them. It's too easy for long standing rivalries to break out into open conflict and even war. So keeping the mercenaries separated from each other, and largely unarmed when in the city would be essential.

Mourktar as a Supply Port for Unther:

When it comes to Messemprar, I'm working under the impression that the pirates of Alkoth are actively targeting merchant ships heading in that direction for precisely the reason you outline.

What Mourktar has is agreements with pirate groups (most notably the pirates of Alkoth), who they can use to extort merchants who refuse to do business with them. I don't see Mourktar as dealing unfairly with foreign merchants, in the sense that they are undercutting them.

I see Mourktar as arranging trade deals with foreign merchant groups. Basically, they'd look like this: "Ship X amount of Y to Mourktar. We will pay Z amount for each pound that is still in good condition." The merchants agree to this before sending the ships. By doing this it prevents them from sitting on their goods in the docks, if they realize that there is a metal shortage, for example, and attempting to war profiteer.

By ACTIVELY seeking out business in foreign lands it helps introduce competition between foreign merchants, and so if closer merchants such as those in the Wizard's Reach or Thay want to begin charging outrages prices, they can still do business with those in Chessenta, Aglarond, Thesk, the Vilhon Reach, Turmish, etc. So long as they can continue to bring in foreign merchants into their ports, it limits the degree to which they're beholden to any one group of merchants.

So long as the risks are worth it, and they have gold to spend - the merchants will come. By influencing piracy in the region that helps them manipulate the "risks" portion of that equation.

This fits well into the character of Mourktar as it is described as an "aggressive trading city" - the key word in that quote is aggressive. Coming from such a poor land, I'm pretty sure they'd give any Sembian a run for their money when it comes to trade negotiations. They MUST get the best deals possible if they are to survive.

Fall of Gilgeam and the State of Unther Afterwards:

I can largely see what you outlined happening, although I imagine it being much more fractured than that. In my mind, after the fall of Gilgeam, there were wide spread riots throughout all of Unther. Certainly, groups like the cult of Tiamat played a part, but mostly I got the impression it was just average everyday people. They loathed the oppressive paranoid tyrant Gilgeam, and with him gone, and his clergy weakened as a result - they were rising up to overthrow them and everyone associated with the Old Regime.

This is precisely why Mourktar was no doubt profiting from the chaos in Unther not long after the rebellions. Many members of the Old Regime - particularly the nobility and priests - could have easily found a friend in Kabarrath. Former priests of Gilgeam, who would be without divine powers, would no doubt find Bane a welcoming and a familiar deity to serve. The nobility would want some place to keep their families safe - no one wants to see their children massacred in the streets by rebels, and they need a secure place to store their wealth which in turn will help pay for mercenaries... Mourktar offers them all of that.

Nobles, Generals and other Old Regime Survivors:

That's more or less how I'd see it as well, after the conquest of Mulhorand begun, and around the time the Northern Alliance began its resistance.

The main difference that I'd include is that pirates would constantly harass trade vessels venturing to Messemprar, making it more practical for ships to dock in Mourktar instead of venturing further south. Mourktar in turn would be sending their own merchant ships to Messemprar.

Unther Falling and the Interests of Neighbors:

I agree with your assessment, largely. Pretty much everyone in and around the Sea of Fallen Stars has an interest (to some degree) in how things in Unther shake out.

However, the problem still exists in that I don't see a single power group in the region that can seize and hold Unther successfully. It could be argued that the members of the Old Regime could be propped up with enough international support. However, they'd still face internal chaos, turmoil, and basically preside over what could only be defined as a 'failed state'.

The issue is that everyone on the outside would have a different opinion on what Unther should look like, and those within Unther have very large differences of opinion on the same issue. There is no reason we shouldn't see non-nobles such as wealthy merchants of Unther also fighting for their piece of the pie, as well as commoners who resent the Old Regime who want to form democratic councils... and this doesn't even include foreign mercenaries who'd want to show up to play and carve out something for themselves from the corpse of Old Unther.

And if Mourktar is used as I suggested, one of the most powerful players in the region would be actively pushing (behind the scenes, of course) for these types of rivalries to develop.

There is simply no way for Mourktar to conquer and hold Old Unther, and I'm giving Kabarrath the benefit of the doubt that he sees such a folly. For centuries Mourktar has lived in the shadow of Old Unther, and it simply would not be in their best interest to have a powerful unified Unther to their south.

What makes sense for Mourktar is to have a somewhat stable region that is heavily divided against itself, that they can form trade deals with to increase their power, wealth, and influence. The somewhat stable region just needs enough power to be worth trading with as well as to be able to unite against further conquest attempts by Mulhorand. ...but in the end, the days of a unified Unther would preferably be (and very likely are) over.

Any attempt to unite Unther once again would likely take multiple generations to achieve.

Regent of Mourktar and his Goals:

I agree 100%. Kabarrath NEEDS to control the River of Metals, at the very least. Ideally, he'd control Messemprar directly as well, if he could get away with it. However, controlling Messemprar isn't absolutely necessary so long as he can use pirates to force Messemprar to mostly trade with Mourktar instead.

In my Realms this is exactly what ultimately happened. Mourktar eventually conquered Thamor (who by that time was mostly a protectorate anyway) and Messemprar. The city ruled the lands from the Long Beach all the way to the River of Metals - on both sides, including some land along the Methmere.

Ultimately, Mourktar also raised an army and conquered the rest of Threskel as well - thus adding Mordulkin and the lands around the Jade River to the list of controlled territory.

Mourktar became the capital of a strong, independent and unified nation of Threskel - that pretty much controlled all trade moving in and out of the Alamber Sea region.

However, to survive post-war Kabarrath must secure free and unfettered access to the River of Metals at an absolute minimum. There appears to be enough gold in the region to keep Mourktar wealthy, and allow them to continue trade.

Without foreign interest in the wars, and no access to the River of Metals and the Riders of the Sky Mountains... Mourktar's economy begins to collapse into a depression, which in turn means famine, and ultimately revolt against his rule.

---

When it comes to Thay, I think we are in a bit of a disagreement. Primarily because, as you pointed out previously, Thay lacks a unified foreign policy. It's my belief that the Temple of the Black Lord's Cloak is the main central temple for the entire region, and that ultimately the Banites in Thay answer to him.

It's true that he can't overtly and aggressively attack all of Thay, but he doesn't have too. All he needs to do is to engage in the politics of Thay, as the Red Wizards and the various merchant groups there are constantly scheming against each other. It isn't overly difficult for him to strike an agreement with some merchants at the expense of others.

For example, "Ship X amount of goods to Mourktar for Y price. We also understand that XXXX merchant group has been undercutting your profitability lately. You know, we've spoken to someone who might be willing to help you with that problem, for the right price..."

Thus, pirates would target certain merchants from Thay because OTHER merchants of Thay are PAYING them to do it in order to get a competitive advantage. This allows Mourktar to walk away with their hands almost entirely clean. In essence, he'd use Thayan internal division against themselves.

If Mourktar can legitimately ensure some degree of safety from the pirates of the Sea of Fallen Stars (or at least those who operate near the Alambar Sea) - which canonically seems to be the case - then they are in a strong position to influence trade in the region.

I don't picture them being overt and overly aggressive with things. Any serious overreach is going to provoke a harsh and dangerous response. However, Kabarrath should certainly be able to make trading with anyone other than Mourktar not worth the potential risk or cost.

Besides, those very same pirates would ACTIVELY be attacking all ships sailing for Mulhorand. That is by far too valuable for Thay to simply attempt to crush entirely. Certainly, Thay's navy could do that, but as you pointed out there are risks for Thay seeming THAT openly involved. And attacking ships heading to Mulhorand is being VERY involved. Thay would likely be willing to PAY the pirates to do it for them, if Mourktar wasn't already ordering it to happen.
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The Sage
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I'm loving these breakdowns of pirate and mercenary activity between you two -- Icelander and Aldrick.

Keep them coming!

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sleyvas
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Just a thought, since your wanting NPC ideas. I think it would be very interesting if there were a Chessentan mercenary company that's led primarily by followers of the Red Knight, who are attempting to "make a name" for themselves. Perhaps they also see having a Faerunian war god of strategy taking on the Mulhorandi god of war as a holy mission. They may explicitly want to face the enemy strategically, and wouldn't necessarily care how many Tiamatians are lost in the act.

Alavairthae, may your skill prevail

Phillip aka Sleyvas
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sleyvas
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Posted - 19 Jul 2013 :  03:44:03  Show Profile Send sleyvas a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Another idea, since you're looking for NPC ideas. I understand the need to keep red wizard activity "hidden". However, there may be red wizards who would openly flock to the armies aid in return for aid in accomplishing their own end goals. For instance, perhaps a red wizard (let's just call him "Tallus the Black" for now) is interested in obtaining the blood of a Mulhorandi noble who was previously a manifestation of Anhur prior to the Time of Troubles.... perhaps he thinks there's something special about the blood of a person who was intrinsically tied to a deity... and maybe he's right. So, he offers his services to attack only certain military targets within the Mulhorandi army, nothing more, nothing less. In return, he expects to have military support provided to aid him against said targets. He doesn't care which side wins... he just wants to get to General X and extract what he needs, and once he's got it he may or may not leave given the danger of the situation.

Alavairthae, may your skill prevail

Phillip aka Sleyvas
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Aldrick
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Posted - 19 Jul 2013 :  07:17:22  Show Profile Send Aldrick a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I used the 3E Map and measured all of the major regional powers near Unther.

I also re-measured Threskel using the 3E map instead of the map in Dragons of Faerun - and it's a bit smaller on the 3E Map. I'm going to use this tool to estimate their populations.

Why is any of this important? Because knowing how many people live in a region is going to tell us how many mercenaries and the like they could realistically afford. If we don't know this information, then we're only making random guesses at their local economy.

------------

Threskel: 36,000 Square Miles (Roughly the size of modern day Hungary.)

Unther: 216,000 Square Miles (A bit larger than modern day France.)

Mulhorand: 194,400 Square Miles (Roughly the size of modern day Spain.)

Thay: 201,600 Square Miles (Roughly the size of modern day Yemen.)

Chessenta: 115,200 Square Miles (Roughly the size of modern day Italy or the Philippines - a bit smaller than Norway.)

Aglarond: 40,800 Square Miles (Roughly the size of modern day Iceland or Guatemala.)

Altumbel: 7,200 Square Miles (Roughly the size of modern day Slovenia, Israel, or Kuwait.)

------------

Listed below are the population statistics I generated. I assumed that the average population density in a nation in the Realms is roughly 60 people per square mile. Thay has the most population per square mile because of their use of magic in agriculture and weather modification. Altumbel has the lowest population per square mile due to its insanely inhospitable climate, which is followed by Threskel which has extremely sandy soil.

I feel these population estimates are more "realistic" than what can be found in canon. Keep in mind that the population estimates randomly shift with each edition based on whatever formula they are using in that version in D&D. Populations between second and third edition can shift wildly without explanation, for example.

This is why I encourage (and personally prefer) to use a more realistic source. The generator itself is based off of Medieval Demographics Made Easy, which was heavily researched by S. John Ross. He based his findings on periods ranging from the 11th to 15th centuries, and from locales as varied as Russia, England, France, Germany and Italy, but when he needed default numbers rather than average, he opted to use late-medieval France as his model.

Some things that will jump out and be immediately apparent is that there may be a lot more cities and a crap ton of villages. It's important to remember that all of Faerun is a pre-industrial culture. In our modern world we're used to a lot of people living in cities, but in Faerun most people are going to live in rural areas. The overwhelming majority of people are going to be farmers who work the land to feed themselves and their families, while at the same time also feeding those within the towns and cities.

Massive metropolises always start out as small rural communities, which grow as a result of trade into towns, and then into cities. As they grow the land around them becomes more settled with even more rural communities which in turn supports an ever growing non-farming population.

ANY disruption of the rural villages that supply food to the towns and cities is going to be bad news - food prices will increase, people will start to go hungry, and if enough stress is placed on the agriculture that supports the cities - famine will take place.

I think it's reasonable to conclude that most cities in Unther are experiencing food shortages, and very likely some degree of famine. This in turn is going to increase civil unrest, the likelihood for disease and plague - all sorts of awful things.

The numbers can be fiddled with, but I ultimately believe what is listed below is pretty accurate. The scale used to determine the difference between villages, towns, cities, and metropolises is somewhat arbitrary.

Isolated: Itinerant individuals or those living in homesteads outside settled areas in the wilderness. Isolated folk include hermits, wanderers, exiles, outlaws, and the odd family who tries to forge its own way in the wilderness. Life is hard for those who live outside of the safety offered by a community. Not only must they rely upon only the resources they gather from the wilderness, in some cases they're likely to be viewed as outlaws (regardless of their intention or disposition) unless some legal authority recognizes them.

From these numbers I'd also subtract wandering family bands of monsters - like gnolls, orcs, kobolds, trolls, and the like. This would usually include less than ten individuals. Larger creatures, such as trolls and ogres would count as more than one individual due to the amount of food required to feed them to maintain subsistence.

Villages: A village, hamlet, or thorp numbers between 10 and 1,000 people. Most are devoted to agriculture, though some gain an income from mining, timbering, or extracting some other resource. The leadership of the village varies depending on the region of Faerun, but in most cases it's likely ruled over by a local lord who holds the village in fief. The local lord would likely dwell in a manor house that would be made from the most common and cheap material that could be found locally - usually timber. It would be fortified if the lord is wealthy.

From the village population I'd begin drawing out monstrous tribes - gnolls, orcs, kobolds, trolls, and the like that are larger than a small family band. I'd also use the village population numbers to factor in for individuals and families of really large monsters like dragons. The monstrous tribes likely live in the wilderness as hunters and gatherers or establish remote wilderness village farms or act as herders of animals such as sheep and goats.

Towns: A community between 1,000 and 8,000 inhabitants. Towns rely less on agriculture and more on production and trade. Craftsmen, artisans, guildsmen, and freeholders of all trades congregate in towns, pooling resources, promoting competition, employing laborers, providing trade education, and boosting the local economy. These benefits result from a relative independence from farming: people have more time to pursue other advances when they buy their food instead of grow it. Most towns usually lack walls, unless they are in a dangerous area that requires such defenses. Most of them are usually going to be protected by a tower or a keep that would be occupied by the local ruling individual or authority - usually a local lord who holds the town in fief.

In general, I would not use these numbers for monster populations. Something this large is likely to attract an immediate and hostile reaction by humans living in the region.

Cities: Populations of 8,000 to 20,000 people make up a city. The commercial advantages of towns are magnified in cities. In addition to the concentration of freeholders, cities support other amenities possible only where part of the population can spend time doing things other than cultivating food or crafting trade goods. Thus, cities contain libraries and universities, diplomatic quarters, parks, bath houses, theaters, and other non-essentials. As a by-product, cities are more prone to guild politics, (semi) organised crime, and other intrigues. The rulers of a city will vary widely in the Realms, but in almost every instance whoever rules the city is going to be burdened with having to deal with the politics of powerful guildsmen, influential priests, wealthy merchants, and local nobility.

Metropolises: Settlements with populations greater than 20,000 are extremely rare and occur in only the largest regions of ideal land - most nations in the Realms may have no metropolises at all, and it would be extremely rare to have more than one or two. They would feel and be governed in much the same way as the smaller cities, but the levels of bureaucracy would be deeper. Virtually all of them would have defensive walls, and it's very likely that a metropolis would be the capital of a nation or at least a major port city.

Like I said, the numbers can be fiddled with, but I ultimately believe what is listed below could be fairly accurate. Once again, all of this is important information, because it pretty much defines how a war in the region would shake out - from how many mercenaries they could realistically hire, to whether or not they'd likely experience famine and food shortages.

------------

Threskel occupies an area of 36,000 square miles, of which 11% is arable, and has a population density of 20 people per square mile. This equates to:

4,000 Square Miles of Arable / Settled Land.
32,000 Square Miles of Wilderness

Threskel supports a population of 720,000 people, distributed as follows:
14,400 living in Isolated Areas
1,424 Villages (Total Population: 640,800 / Average Population Each: 450)
9 Towns (Total Population: 43,200 / Average Population Each: 4,800)
2 Cities (Total Population: 21,600 / Average Population Each: 10,800)

------------

Unther occupies an area of 216,000 square miles, of which 33% is arable, and has a population density of 60 people per square mile. This equates to:

72,000 Square Miles of Arable / Settled Land.
144,000 Square Miles of Wilderness

Unther supports a population of 12,960,000 people, distributed as follows:
259,200 living in Isolated Areas
25,632 Villages (Total Population: 11,534,400 / Average Population Each: 450)
156 Towns (Total Population: 777,600 / Average Population Each: 4,985)
27 Cities (Total Population: 324,000 / Average Population Each: 12,000)
2 Metropolises (Total Population: 64,800 / Average Population Each: 32,400)

------------

Mulhorand occupies an area of 194,400 square miles, of which 33% is arable, and has a population density of 60 people per square mile. This equates to:

64,800 Square Miles of Arable / Settled Land.
129,600 Square Miles of Wilderness

Mulhorand supports a population of 11,664,000 people, distributed as follows:
233,280 living in Isolated Areas
23,069 Villages (Total Population: 10,380,960 / Average Population Each: 450)
140 Towns (Total Population: 699,840 / Average Population Each: 4,999)
25 Cities (Total Population: 291,600 / Average Population Each: 11,664)
2 Metropolises (Total Population: 58,320 / Average Population Each: 29,160)

------------

Thay occupies an area of 201,600 square miles, of which 55% is arable, and has a population density of 100 people per square mile. This equates to:

112,000 Square Miles of Arable / Settled Land.
89,600 Square Miles of Wilderness

Thay supports a population of 20,160,000 people, distributed as follows:
403,200 living in Isolated Areas
39,872 Villages (Total Population: 17,942,400 / Average Population Each: 450)
242 Towns (Total Population: 1,209,600 / Average Population Each: 4,999)
42 Cities (Total Population: 504,000 / Average Population Each: 12,000)
2 Metropolises (Total Population: 100,800 / Average Population Each: 50,400)

------------

Chessenta occupies an area of 115,200 square miles, of which 33% is arable, and has a population density of 60 people per square mile. This equates to:

38,400 Square Miles of Arable / Settled Land.
76,800 Square Miles of Wilderness

Chessenta supports a population of 6,912,000 people, distributed as follows:
138,240 living in Isolated Areas
13671 Villages (Total Population: 6,151,680 / Average Population Each: 450)
83 Towns (Total Population: 414,720 / Average Population Each: 4,997)
15 Cities (Total Population: 172,800 / Average Population Each: 11,520)
1 Metropolises (Total Population: 34,560 / Average Population Each: 34,560)

------------

Aglarond occupies an area of 40,800 square miles, of which 22% is arable, and has a population density of 40 people per square mile. This equates to:

9,066 Square Miles of Arable / Settled Land.
31,734 Square Miles of Wilderness

Aglarond supports a population of 1,632,000 people, distributed as follows:
32,640 living in Isolated Areas
3,228 Villages (Total Population: 1,452,480 / Average Population Each: 450)
20 Towns (Total Population: 97,920 / Average Population Each: 4,896)
5 Cities (Total Population: 48,960 / Average Population Each: 9,792)

------------

Altumbel occupies an area of 7,200 square miles, of which 5% is arable, and has a population density of 10 people per square mile. This equates to:

400 Square Miles of Arable / Settled Land.
6,800 Square Miles of Wilderness

Altumbel supports a population of 72,000 people, distributed as follows:
1,440 living in Isolated Areas
143 Villages (Total Population: 64,080 / Average Population Each: 449)
2 Towns (Total Population: 6,480 / Average Population Each: 3,240)

------------

Here are the listed canon cities divided by region, and my suggested populations. For cities, I tend to have them based around ports and major trade roads. The numbers, of course, can be fiddled around with to a large degree. What is listed below is every canonical location that I could find for the listed nations.

Thay

Metropolis Population
Eltabbar: 43,483
Bezantur: 57,317

Total Population in the above Metropolises: 100,800
Remaining Unused Metropolis Population: 0

City Population
Surthay: 12,554
Nethjet: 9,943
Thasselen: 8,684
Murbant: 9,846
Escalant: 17,328
Tyraturos: 18,457
Pyarados: 14,586
Amruthar: 16,863
Delabbar: 10,659
Sekelmur: 11,846
Nuthretos: 12,546
Solzepar: 10,648
Mothur: 9,566
Denzar: 8,779
Sefriszar: 10,128
Umratharos: 13,181
Keluthar: 11,832
Szul: 8,318

Total Population in the above cities: 215,764
Remaining Unused City Population: 288,236

Town Population
Anhaurz: 1,698
Ankhur: 6,484
Zolum: 5,645
Ezreket: 4,686
Hurkh: 3,659
Belizir: 7,687
Thazrumaros: 6,656
Surag: 2,468
Rautham: 1,558
Umbthal: 4,658
Dmir: 3,662
Nethentir: 2,889

Total Population in the above towns: 51,750
Remaining Unused Town Population: 1,157,850

Notes: For villages in Thay, I'd argue that most of them would actually be plantations worked by slave farmers.


Aglarond

City Population
Velprintalar: 13,548
Furthinghome: 9,465
Laothkund: 9,215
Delthuntle: 8,645
Tilbrand: 8,087

Total Population in the above cities: 48,960
Remaining Unused City Population: 0

Town Population
Emmech: 7,896
Lasdur: 5,468
Taskaunt: 5,846
Urve: 4,648
Urst: 2,594
Corth: 2,588
Findar: 1,684
Dhast: 4,771
Orlthar: 1,142
Osker: 2,684
Dlusk: 4,011
Mesring: 3,487
Nethta: 3,846
Halendos: 4,846
Relkath's Foot: 1,264

Total Population in the above towns: 56,775
Remaining Unused Town Population: 41,145


Altumbel

Town Population
Spandeliyon: 4,789
Ingdal's Arm: 1,691

Total Population in the above towns: 6,480
Remaining Unused Town Population: 0


Threskel

City Population
Mordulkin: 11,631
Mourktar: 9,969

Total Population in the above cities: 21,600
Remaining Unused City Population: 0

Town Population
Thamor: 6,867

Total Population in the above towns: 6,867
Remaining Unused Town Population: 36,333


Unther

Metropolis Population
Unthalass: 38,548
Messemprar: 26,252

Total Population in the above Metropolises: 64,800
Remaining Unused Metropolis Population: 0

City Population
Shussel: 17,684
Dalath: 10,647
Ssintar: 8,641

Total Population in the above cities: 36,972
Remaining Unused City Population: 287,028

Town Population
Firetrees: 4,154
Red Haven: 6,483

Total Population in the above towns: 10,637
Remaining Unused Town Population: 766,963


Mulhorand

Metropolis Population
Skuld: 33,487
Gheldaneth: 24,833

Total Population in the above Metropolises: 58,320
Remaining Unused Metropolis Population: 0

City Population
Neldorild: 17,184
Sultim: 10,174
Rauthil: 14,154
Murghtr: 11,411
Maerlar: 13,547
Mishtan: 8,459

Total Population in the above cities: 57,745
Remaining Unused City Population: 233,855

Town Population
Sampranasz: 6,474

Total Population in the above towns: 6,474
Remaining Unused Town Population: 693,366


Chessenta

Metropolis Population
Cimbar: 34,560

Total Population in the above Metropolises: 34,560
Remaining Unused Metropolis Population: 0

City Population
Luthcheq: 18,969
Soorenar: 16,764
Reth: 14,487
Akanax: 12,454
Airspur: 11,520

Total Population in the above cities: 74,194
Remaining Unused City Population: 98,606

Town Population
Rodanar: 4,175

Total Population in the above towns: 4,175
Remaining Unused Town Population: 410,545


Edited by - Aldrick on 19 Jul 2013 10:04:08
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Lothlos
Learned Scribe

USA
111 Posts

Posted - 19 Jul 2013 :  13:34:11  Show Profile Send Lothlos a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by The Sage

I'm loving these breakdowns of pirate and mercenary activity between you two -- Icelander and Aldrick.

Keep them coming!



I totally agree. Makes me wish there was a download thread as pdf button/link.

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.
-J.R.R. Tolkien

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Lord Bane
Senior Scribe

Germany
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Posted - 19 Jul 2013 :  15:20:58  Show Profile Send Lord Bane a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I would have to disagree with you Aldrick on the part of Mourktar controlling the faith even in Thay. I personally do not see the faith of Bane in Thay being dominated by Mourktar, granted i can see them as an important link in the region, but i see the Temple in Bezantur with itīs Highpriest,as stated in Dreams of the Red Wizards, the center for the banite faith in Thay which would geographicly make more sense.

As far as the numbers of military go, we do have to take into consideration that when we speak of crusaders of Bane we speak of religious driven zealots who dedicated their deeds to the Black Hand. If Kabarrath, leader of the largest temple of Bane in Faerun, would send out word to fight for Baneīs glory we can assume that every crusader in the old empires and neighbouring regions not occupied with tasks at hand would heed the call. There are few other faiths who can compete with the devotion banites show when it comes to their deity and multiply that when it comes to the aspect of a religious war.
So we would have a highly motivated fighting force with numbers exceeding the ten thousands at the call of Kabarrath that enters the fight, larger that any mecernary force can field in the region and it would not be far off to assume that Mourktar can make it presence known on the battlefield which strikes fear into the enemy.

The driving force in the multiverse is evil, for it forces good to act.
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Icelander
Master of Realmslore

1577 Posts

Posted - 19 Jul 2013 :  17:15:55  Show Profile  Visit Icelander's Homepage Send Icelander a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Aldrick

Why is any of this important? Because knowing how many people live in a region is going to tell us how many mercenaries and the like they could realistically afford. If we don't know this information, then we're only making random guesses at their local economy.

I absolutely agree. But what we should not do is change all canon to artifically fit with a model that ultimately does not model a society anything like that of the Realms.

We should try to find a balance between canon and plausibility, i.e. if canon gives us numbers that don't fit medieval France, we should try to find real economies that do fit canon to use as our model. As it happens, medieval France is a very specific type of economy and historical societies have not conformed to that model as some sort of universal rule of the pre-modern world.

quote:
Originally posted by Aldrick

Listed below are the population statistics I generated. I assumed that the average population density in a nation in the Realms is roughly 60 people per square mile. Thay has the most population per square mile because of their use of magic in agriculture and weather modification. Altumbel has the lowest population per square mile due to its insanely inhospitable climate, which is followed by Threskel which has extremely sandy soil.


Remember that nearly all Realms nations will use magic for acriculture, since most or all of them worship Chauntea or another deity where the priests can bless the soil and harvest. Thay is special not because they use magic to aid their acriculture, but because they use organised, large-scale and weather-controlling magic. I'd say that they do have a production advantage over the rest of Faerun on average, but that many places particularly favoured by Chauntea can individually beat most slave farms in Thay.

Also note that Mulhorand and Unther are canonically noted as having large-scale magical acriculture and would have peacetime population density far higher than medieval France.

Also, note that historical Near East societies, especially before the desertification which depopulated the area, tended to have much higher population density than medieval France and in particular, far higher urbanisation.

quote:
Originally posted by Aldrick

This is why I encourage (and personally prefer) to use a more realistic source. The generator itself is based off of Medieval Demographics Made Easy, which was heavily researched by S. John Ross. He based his findings on periods ranging from the 11th to 15th centuries, and from locales as varied as Russia, England, France, Germany and Italy, but when he needed default numbers rather than average, he opted to use late-medieval France as his model.


I would not use those numbers for anything other than the Swordcoast North, the Bloodstone Lands and other such backward lands. Any Faerunian country where there canonically is a large merchant class and shipping by full-rigged ships is several centuries ahead of medieval Western Europe in terms of economy, demographics and urbanisation.

quote:
Originally posted by Aldrick

Some things that will jump out and be immediately apparent is that there may be a lot more cities and a crap ton of villages. It's important to remember that all of Faerun is a pre-industrial culture. In our modern world we're used to a lot of people living in cities, but in Faerun most people are going to live in rural areas. The overwhelming majority of people are going to be farmers who work the land to feed themselves and their families, while at the same time also feeding those within the towns and cities.

Note that while some 85-90% of Faerun's population lives in rural areas, including villages and small towns, this does not mean that they are all subsidence farmers.

The average farmer in Faerun is considerably better off than the average farmer in medieval France. Only in the wildest and least centralised lands in Faerun would it be appropriate to use France as a model. Most everywhere else, international trade is at orders of magnitude higher levels and one must look to other demographic models to compensate for that.

quote:
Originally posted by Aldrick

I think it's reasonable to conclude that most cities in Unther are experiencing food shortages, and very likely some degree of famine. This in turn is going to increase civil unrest, the likelihood for disease and plague - all sorts of awful things.


This is certainly true. There has been unrest and the occasional localised famine in Unther since 1357 DR and since 1372 DR, i.e. for almost a whole year in my campaign, the north has effectively been in a state of deep famine, with the refugees producing a humanitarian crisis of epic proportions.

quote:
Originally posted by Aldrick

Metropolises: Settlements with populations greater than 20,000 are extremely rare and occur in only the largest regions of ideal land - most nations in the Realms may have no metropolises at all, and it would be extremely rare to have more than one or two. They would feel and be governed in much the same way as the smaller cities, but the levels of bureaucracy would be deeper. Virtually all of them would have defensive walls, and it's very likely that a metropolis would be the capital of a nation or at least a major port city.

I'd like to point out that in the Realms, more than 10% of the population lives in large towns or cities. This percentage is higher when you go to the strong, centralised polities where it's easy to transport food long distances.

In addition, most people are literate and the average farmer is well enough off to sell some of his surplus.

There is simply no way to reconcile the Realms with medieval demographics. Which is fine, because no one has ever said that the Realms were medieval Europe, still less medieval France.

Shipping in the Realms is at a 16th-19th century level, instead of the medieval level. We've got caravels and galleons, as well as the occasional more advanced ship that resembles a real world clipper. Caravels and galleons have existed for at least two generations, with caravels probably being more than two hundred year old. Full-rigged ships exist.

That means that any city with access to a port can be further away from its food sources than medieval cities. Furthermore, political organisation and international trade are far more advanced than in medieval Europe, which is a period where it was at a historical low. Not to mention that medieval France wasn't exactly in a position to trade with all that many friendly nations over the Mediterranean, historically more or less a prerequisite for urbanisation.

To model the Inner Sea nations in the Realms, you ought to be looking toward the Hellenic world, Rome, the Byzantine Empire, the Ottomans and the Venetians. There is thriving international trade, in foodstuffs and basic commodities as well as luxuries. That means that the medieval era in France (or Britain, Russia, the Germanies, etc.) is an inappropriate model and will produce very inaccurate results.

In the East of the Mediterranean world, we had several cities of more than a million people and hundreds of smaller cities. Why in the world would the Realmsian equivalent have only a few towns of 20,000 people?

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Edited by - Icelander on 19 Jul 2013 17:23:49
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Icelander
Master of Realmslore

1577 Posts

Posted - 19 Jul 2013 :  17:30:13  Show Profile  Visit Icelander's Homepage Send Icelander a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by sleyvas

Another idea, since you're looking for NPC ideas. I understand the need to keep red wizard activity "hidden". However, there may be red wizards who would openly flock to the armies aid in return for aid in accomplishing their own end goals. For instance, perhaps a red wizard (let's just call him "Tallus the Black" for now) is interested in obtaining the blood of a Mulhorandi noble who was previously a manifestation of Anhur prior to the Time of Troubles.... perhaps he thinks there's something special about the blood of a person who was intrinsically tied to a deity... and maybe he's right. So, he offers his services to attack only certain military targets within the Mulhorandi army, nothing more, nothing less. In return, he expects to have military support provided to aid him against said targets. He doesn't care which side wins... he just wants to get to General X and extract what he needs, and once he's got it he may or may not leave given the danger of the situation.


Hmmm... yes, I suppose individual Red Wizards could get away with that. Certainly, they would be well advised to wear something different while fighting, or risk incurring the wrath of their Zulkirs, but they can certainly get involved at some level.

But I'd far rather have a wizard like your hypothetical one send agents, hire mercenaries and suchlike. It's just so very, very risky to have actual Red Wizards fighting Mulhorandi soldiers. No Zulkir is going to be pleased if some underling provokes a war that he wasn't seeking.

This is not to say that there may not be some Red Wizards who are seeking an all-out war with Mulhorand, reasoning that a time when they are in the process of antagonising all of their potential allies with their aggressive imperial program is the best time for Thay to strike.

But even they are going to be leery of being the ones seen as provoking the war. Too high a risk of being executed for impertinence before one could enjoy the fruits of victory.

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Icelander
Master of Realmslore

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Posted - 19 Jul 2013 :  17:34:16  Show Profile  Visit Icelander's Homepage Send Icelander a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by sleyvas

Just a thought, since your wanting NPC ideas. I think it would be very interesting if there were a Chessentan mercenary company that's led primarily by followers of the Red Knight, who are attempting to "make a name" for themselves. Perhaps they also see having a Faerunian war god of strategy taking on the Mulhorandi god of war as a holy mission. They may explicitly want to face the enemy strategically, and wouldn't necessarily care how many Tiamatians are lost in the act.


It is possible, yes.

On the other hand, how would followers of the Red Knight feel about fighting each other? Canonically, one of Pharoah's closest advisors is a paladin of the Red Knight, Kendera Steeldice, commander of the Gold Sword mercenary company, which is filled with worshippers of the Red Knight.

The Gold Swords are responsible for much of the success that Mulhorand has had so far, as they've helped integrate the advanced logistical and military organisation of modern Chondathan (or Amnian, Sembian, etc.) mercenaries into traditional Mulhorandi warfare.

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Icelander
Master of Realmslore

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Posted - 19 Jul 2013 :  18:17:18  Show Profile  Visit Icelander's Homepage Send Icelander a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Mourktar's economy and role in Unther's wars:
quote:
Originally posted by Aldrick

Which I envision to be Banite Templars that are somewhat like mercenaries - constantly being hired out to fight in wars in Chessenta for military practice. So whenever a war breaks out in Chessenta between the city-states (very often) - the Priests of the Cloak can extend their hand for a modest fee and a portion of the loot.

While this would be sensible, canon states that they operate independently and go raiding against targets in Threskel, primarily Mordulkin. Given that Mordulkin is a larger city than Mourktar and thick with wizards, it wouldn't be very prudent to march the army past it into Chessenta on a routine basis after having antagonised them so often. It would leave Mourktar and the temple exposed to retaliation.

quote:
Originally posted by Aldrick

As one might expect of a Banite led army, they would tend to be disciplined and highly trained. No doubt capable of defeating a force much larger in size due to their superior equipment, training, and tactics.


I see the templars themselves as being hoplites clad in black plate. Very heavily armoured, very disciplined, very tough to beat.

Skirmishers would come from allied or subjugated mountain tribesmen.

quote:
Originally posted by Aldrick

Due to the poor soil, I mark Threskel as having an Arid condition, and I received a total population of ALL of Threskel of 828,000. This would include everyone in the entire country, mostly those located in the small rural communities.
[...]

In those numbers I'd also count the dragons and any other monsters. So that could reduce the "human" population a bit. (And the dragons, individually, may "count" as more than one person.)

The dragons count as hundreds or thousands of people each. Trolls count as several people.

All in all, I don't have much of a problem with Threskel being, as described in canon, some of the emptiest land in the Forgotten Realms. It's full of dragons, windtorn and arid. Why should anyone live there?

Instead of adding hundreds of thousands of people not mentioned in canon, just assume that there are barely enough people in the rural areas to support the cities that are there, while the cities also have to buy foodstuffs from abroad. Note that Rome, Antioch or any number of historical cities didn't have a prayer of actually feeding the population without grain brought from abroad in huge vessels and also note that Thay is canonically noted as exporting massive amounts of grain in huge vessels.

Threskel isn't a typical medieval country. It's a dragon-infested semi-desert where a few people try to survive and a powerful temple of an evil god has used the out-of-the-way nature of the place to set up a huge power base. But the weaknesss of their position lies in a lack of economic base for it. That's a weakness that Kabbarath Telthaug aims to fix, but it's at the moment still present.

quote:
Originally posted by Aldrick

Kabarrath and Mourktar likely began their war profiteering long before the Mulhorandi invasion. This is likely one of the reasons they repeatedly aided Messemprar with their rebellions, and were cutting deals with the Red Wizards. After all, Unther imploded after the deal of Gilgeam - the entire country fell into a full scale revolt. Altars and temples to Gilgeam were desecrated, his clergy were lynched in the streets, and it's likely the people had little love for the Old Nobility either - who were propped up by the Old Regime. Many of them were likely fighting to restore order before Mulhorand decided to play conqueror.

All true, but remember that once the Chessentan army in northern Unther falls apart, it's going to present a huge danger to Mourktar. They will be in a very tense situation, where they maintain a defensive posture, until the threat has definitely passed. Say, around 1360-1361 DR, they could afford to send parts of the templars away.

Ironically, I suppose that for the first few years, the templars and allied mercenaries might have fought for the 'good' factions of northern Unther like the Northern Wizards, clearing away raiding Chessentans. Then move further south into Unther, fighting for nobles there doing the same thing and also fighting against the Gray Ghosts and Tiamatans.

quote:
Originally posted by Aldrick

That's plenty of opportunity for Mourktar to position for advantage, and the cities population likely grew dramatically with people fleeing the war in the south. So, prior to the 1370's I picture Mourktar having a crazy Dubai like expansion. In essence, you arrive ten years earlier and it's a small city, and ten years later that small city has grown to nearly twice its size.

I imagine the situation after the death of King Theris and the failure of succession to have been terrible for ordinary Mourktarites and to have caused a succession of economic crises. I don't see them starting to recover until the mid-1360s, though the Black Lord's Cloak started to profit earlier than that.

After that, yes, I can see an economic boom fuelled by mercenary activity, piracy and aggressive trading. A bit of a speed-bump in 1369-1370 DR with the sahuagin raids and damage to ports and shipping, but certainly booming again once the Mulhorandi invade Unther.

I imagine the population having dropped almost half between 1357-1364 DR, through death, lowered birth rates and emigration ,but between 1365-1372 DR, even with the sahuagin, it more than recovered. I don't count the Black Lord's Altar in the Mourktar population numbers, prefering to keep them separate, and thus I can justify having all the canonical numbers be 'accurate'. Meanwhile, the temple guard grew in number and power throughout this period, with the temple making enough to support this expansion despite the small economic base of Mourktar.

In my campaign, spring 1373 DR, Mourktar has a native population of almost 12,000 people and rules over a hinterland comprising maybe 20,000 farmers, ranchers and fisherfolk; 100,000 northern Untheri refugees (they refuse to allow more, their territory not supporting more farmers) and some 10,000 mountain and hill tribesmen, mostly a combination of shepherds and raiders.

Mourktar has been going through a huge building boom since 1371 DR, but still can't fit more than these 12,000 as official residents inside its walls. Unofficially, of course, people are renting space to rich Untheri refugee nobles and hiring Untheri refugees with useful skills, so around 20,000 more people are living there, making it very crowded.

Mourktar is also in the process of enlarging the walls and in addition to palaces for rich refugee nobles from Unther, they are building a host of new tenement buildings inside, to settle the valuable craftsmen.

quote:
Originally posted by Aldrick

I imagine a huge tent city outside the walls of Mourktar - filled mostly with refugees. Nobles, merchants, and those with useful trade skills are eventually allowed within the city to make a home there. (Especially those who'd bring their wealth with them.) Unskilled workers, those that don't have much value to Mourktar, are likely forced to live in squalor in a tent city outside of the walls.

In my campaign, this huge tent city is mostly outside Messemprar. Mourktar simply refuses entry into the lands it rules to anyone that they don't have any use for. Since they already have more than enough people to farm their limited hinterland, they can't take more refugees without ruling more land.

And Kabbarath Telthaug is indeed planning to do so by taking over Thamor and the River of Metals, but so far, he has prefered to avoid antagonising the coalition of Untheri generals around Messemprar by doing so with an invasion. After all, he does not want to help the Mulhorandi by crushing the last remnants of resistance.

quote:
Originally posted by Aldrick

Those who cause trouble are likely rounded up by the Banite Templars - along with their families - and are sold into slavery to the Red Wizards.

Banite Zhentarim take on this role around Messemprar, but are forced to curtail their activities somewhat in areas of the city and around where factions like Northern Wizards or Lord Dama's Non-Slaves hold sway.

quote:
Originally posted by Aldrick

No weapons and the like would be allowed within the camps, so the Templars would constantly patrol them in search for contraband. The more attractive and desirable individuals would be taken and sold to Festhalls and pimped out to the numerous mercenaries, nobles, merchants, and pirates that would find themselves visiting Mourktar. This would be seen as a better fate than being forced to live in squalor outside the city.

And this is one reason for why more refugees in northern Unther fled to Chessenta over the Methmere, settled around the Methmere or live in huge refugee camps around Messemprar than ever went to Mourktar. The Banites have a dark reputation and it's well deserved.

Aside from which, most of the common people who aren't ardent Untheri patriots are likely to prefer Mulhorandi foreigners over Mourktari foreigners. The Mulhorandi come giving gifts of food while the Mourktari come rapaciously taking.

quote:
Originally posted by Aldrick

They are likely also limiting the number of armed individuals - particularly mercenaries - that can enter the city at any one time. There would be mercenary camps that would be much further away from the city, with a certain required distance between them. It's too easy for long standing rivalries to break out into open conflict and even war. So keeping the mercenaries separated from each other, and largely unarmed when in the city would be essential.


It's because of rules like this that mercenaries prefer to serve the Northern Wizards or those nobles and generals of Old Unther that still remain around Messemprar, as long as those factions have got the money to pay.

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Aldrick
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quote:
Originally posted by Lord Bane

I would have to disagree with you Aldrick on the part of Mourktar controlling the faith even in Thay. I personally do not see the faith of Bane in Thay being dominated by Mourktar, granted i can see them as an important link in the region, but i see the Temple in Bezantur with itīs Highpriest,as stated in Dreams of the Red Wizards, the center for the banite faith in Thay which would geographicly make more sense.


In another thread (that I created) in which we discussed Threskel this issue came up. Prior to the Time of Troubles, (and thus the publication of Dreams of the Red Wizards), you could potentially be correct.

It's important to note (as I'm sure you already know) that the faith of Bane is intensely hierarchical. So, even if there is a temple located in a region it still ultimately answers to another temple somewhere else in the hierarchy.

One of the arguments I've made is that the Temple of the Black Lord's Cloak is one of the oldest (still active) temples devoted to Bane in the Realms. I speculated that the Temple of the Black Lord's Altar, which is located in Mulmaster, is likely the oldest and perhaps first temple to Bane in the Realms. The Temple of the Black Lord's Cloak is of course named for the holy relic they have in their possession, a magical cloak worn by Bane prior to his ascension to divinity.

As a result of being one of the oldest temples, I've argued that Bane's faith in the region likely spread throughout the region as a result of the work done by the priests who've journeyed to or have been trained in Mourktar. This would include the religion as it ultimately spread into Thay - you can even somewhat chart a path of its spread, considering events during the various rebellions in Unther. For example, understanding that there is a large temple to Bane in Escalant which is just a few days north by ship from Mourktar.

I've argued that the Temple of the Black Lord's Cloak has likely waxed and waned in it's influence over the years. However, prior to the Time of Troubles, Kabarrath Telthaug - the head of the Temple of the Black Lord's Cloak - declared himself independent of the Banite hierarchy. In doing so he named himself "Dread Imperceptor" - this is quite presumptuous, as the leader of the faith (which is chosen by Bane himself) is known as the "High Imperceptor".

So, in effect, it seems that Kabarrath was preparing to name himself the leader of the faith of Bane. At the time, of course, we have to keep in mind that the church in the Moonsea was bitterly divided and in a civil war between the Orthodox Church and the Transformed Church.

This led to my feeling that all of the temples and churches in the region effectively moved to recognize the Temple of the Black Lord's Cloak as the new center of the faith - effectively creating a rift between the Moonsea Banites and the Banites in the Unapproachable East, and Shining South, and the Old Empires. This, in my mind, would be the equivalent of a fracture in the Catholic Church with a major chunk of the faith proclaiming and officially recognizing a new Pope.

Of course... then the Time of Troubles happened immediately after they did this and Bane died. What is interesting about this fact is that after Bane's death his faith further divided and fractured with some going to Cyric and others to Xvim. However, the Priests of the Cloak, and in particular Kabarrath Telthaug remained loyal to Bane - even after his death. They also maintained their divine spellcasting abilities. It's suggested that Xvim could potentially be granting them their divine power under the guise of Bane, but Eric L. Boyd suggested that they probably took the Servant of the Fallen feat from Lost Empires of Faerun.

And so, we speculated that after Bane's death some of his divine essence dispersed to some of his holy relics, and became trapped there in much the same way Myrkul became trapped in the Crown of Horns. Therefore, even after the death of Bane he could have been speaking to the Priests of the Cloak through the Cloak.

Since we don't know HOW Bane returned - it just happened without explanation - we've speculated that the Priests of the Cloak, and particularly Kabarrath Telthaug played a pivotal role. There was speculation that the Priests of the Cloak may have quested (and did battle with former Banites as well) to gather holy relics of Bane in order to further empower Bane. Ultimately that may have led to a divine ritual led by Kabarrath in which Bane was able to subsume control over Xvim - killing his usurper son.

A lot of this is trying to fill holes in the canon. The cult of Bane has undergone massive upheaval that began even BEFORE the Time of Troubles. However, it is canonical fact that the Temple of the Black Lord's Cloak is the largest and one of the most powerful temples devoted to Bane in all the Realms. Why is this the case? Why is this Temple located in a backwater like Mourktar so important and influential?

It's unrealistic to imagine that a small town like Mourktar - which has always had a population around 10,000 would have around 1,700 ranking priests and lesser priests of the faith living within the city. That's just nuts. Nearly 2/10th's of Mourktar cannot be nothing but priests of Bane. Thus, we are forced to conclude that the Temple of the Cloak was at the top of the hierarchy in the region.

As you noted, Dreams of the Red Wizards highest ranking priest of Bane was located in Bezantur. It also lists major temples of Bane located in Eltabbar, Bezantur, Tyraturos, Pyarados, and Surthay along with major shrines in the Delhumide and on the Aldor.

It's my belief that prior to the Time of Troubles Bezantur served as the head of the Banite hierarchy in Thay, and all of the priest of Bane in Thay ultimately answered to the high priest there. However, that doesn't mean that the high priest there did not in turn answer to the leader of the Temple of the Black Lord's Cloak (who would have in turn answered to the leader of the Black Lord's Altar). It's possible that at that point in time Mourktar was waning in influence, and that Kabarrath had not yet been named head of the temple.

However, when the Time of Troubles happened everything changed. The clergy of Bane in Thay became divided between Cyric, Xvim, and very likely also Bane (if they held loyalties with the Priests of the Cloak).

The newest source of Bane's Temple's in Thay - from the Unapproachable East - paints a very different picture than what was painted prior to the Time of Troubles. The largest temple of Bane in Thay is placed in Escalant, and it is led by Curoz Palblatis. Further north along the river is the city of Amruthar, in which we find "the House of the Black Lord", a temple led by Tharek, a half-fiend cleric of Bane. The other Banite of note is Tharchion Dimon of Tyraturos, who is a former priest of Waukeen that converted to Bane after the Time of Troubles.

...and what of the High Priest of Bane from Bezantur? There is no mention of a temple of Bane in Bezantur. There is, however, a major Temple of Cyric in the city named "the House of Cyric". The Unapproachable East clearly states that Thay now has "strong and well-organized churches of both Bane and Cyric".

It is very likely that the current "House of Cyric" in Bezantur is actually the former Temple of Bane, and it's priests are former Banites. It is also probably not an accident that the temple in Amruthar is called "the House of the Black Lord". This probably indicates where the Banite loyalists retreated to after many in Bezantur converted to the worship of Cyric.

In the end, I think the new head of the hierarchy in Thay is Curoz Palblatis in Escalant. Who in turn answers to Kabarrath Telthaug in Mourktar.

The big question that remains is that after Bane's return Fzoul is named the High Imperceptor of the faith by Bane. It's unclear if the Priests of the Cloak rejoined the official hierarchy or not. However, in all future lore regarding the Temple of the Cloak in Mourktar it's called the "Black Lord's Altar" - the same name given to the temple at the center of the faith in Mulmaster. I believe this is a mistake, but during our discussion of events it was speculated by some that this could have been intentional, and Kabarrath could still be refusing to acknowledge the validity of the Banites of the Moonsea.

In the end, regardless of where one stands on that issue, it's probably wise to conclude based on what we know that Kabarrath is probably one of the most powerful priests of Bane in the Realms if not THE most powerful priest of Bane in the Realms. Not only in game mechanic terms, but in the ability to muster and command the faithful of Bane. Game mechanics wise, I'd probably make him either level 32 or level 34 - the divine spellcasting equivalent of the Simbul or Elminster.

It's unfortunate that he's largely been ignored by the lore... although, it may be a good thing - otherwise they could have ruined him like they did Fzoul.

quote:
Originally posted by Lord Bane

As far as the numbers of military go, we do have to take into consideration that when we speak of crusaders of Bane we speak of religious driven zealots who dedicated their deeds to the Black Hand. If Kabarrath, leader of the largest temple of Bane in Faerun, would send out word to fight for Baneīs glory we can assume that every crusader in the old empires and neighbouring regions not occupied with tasks at hand would heed the call. There are few other faiths who can compete with the devotion banites show when it comes to their deity and multiply that when it comes to the aspect of a religious war.
So we would have a highly motivated fighting force with numbers exceeding the ten thousands at the call of Kabarrath that enters the fight, larger that any mecernary force can field in the region and it would not be far off to assume that Mourktar can make it presence known on the battlefield which strikes fear into the enemy.


I would agree here. If Kabarrath or the Temple in Mourktar were seriously threatened, they could likely send out a call that would draw in thousands of people who'd be willing to fight to the death to protect the city. However, they would still require food, weapons, armor, mounts, and transportation to get there.

So it's unlikely that Kabarrath is actually fielding that many people on the battlefield. It's probably cheaper to hire mercenaries from neighboring Chessenta, who can arrive pretty much ready to fight.

Mourktar is seriously disadvantaged by the fact that it is such a small city. However, I've argued that Mourktar has likely nearly doubled in size since Kabarrath took power as a result of their profiteering from the unrest in Unther.

In fact, prior to his becoming Regent Mourktar was already preparing to do exactly that...

"Mourktar is a small but aggressive trading city. It has a large port facility to handle goods for the farmers and herdsmen of Threskel. Small mining communities in the Riders to the Sky Mountains sometimes ship their goods to Mourktar, as it is closer than Mordulkin to the major trade centers of Bezantur and Sultim. Troubles in Unther, however, have made the Sultim-Messemprar-Mourktar trade route less attractive to traders in the last century. There have also been major problems with pirates and the sahuagin.

Mourktar is full of traders and mercenaries who hope to profit from the riots of Messemprar, as well as from what they hope will be an upcoming civil war in Unther."
- Old Empires, pg. 55

This was, of course, prior to the death of Gilgeam. So if Mourktar was already positioning itself to take advantage of the unrest in Unther prior to that point, there is no reason to believe that Kabarrath did not accelerate and even double down on this strategy.

Not to mention the issues with the sahuagin are no longer a problem, after the eruption of the Ship of the Gods volcano. They were pretty much wiped out by underwater lava flows - it was an undersea genocide.

And of course, Kabarrath has been making deals with pirates who secretly serve him, most notably the "widely feared pirate fleet of Alkoth".

So, there is no reason to believe that Mourktar is not experiencing an economic boom the likes of which it's never seen before in its entire history. I would argue it probably went from a population of around 9,969 just before the Time of Troubles, to around a population of 21,938 by 1372 DR. Many of these people would be merchants, guildsmen, nobles, and laborers who've been fleeing the unrest in Unther. Laborers are likely working day and night to rapidly expand the city, because it's overpacked - there is just not enough room for everyone who wants to get inside the walls. And so the entire city is likely surrounded by a massive tent city.
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Icelander
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Posted - 19 Jul 2013 :  18:51:20  Show Profile  Visit Icelander's Homepage Send Icelander a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Mourktar, the 'feared pirate fleet of Alkoth' and Messemprar:
quote:
Originally posted by Aldrick

When it comes to Messemprar, I'm working under the impression that the pirates of Alkoth are actively targeting merchant ships heading in that direction for precisely the reason you outline.

Do you really seeing him as being prepared to risk the vital interests of Mourktar (the survival of Unther in some form) just to make a little more money?

Messemprar needs all the foreign trade it can get and any interference with it risks the fragile coalition ruling what is left of Free Unther collapsing entirely, leaving no resistance to the next Mulhorandi offensive.

Canon says that the pirates of the Fallen Stars were supplying Messemprar, which I find much more plausible than supposing that they are attacking ships heading there. I think that the organised pirates, as opposed to completely feral 'lone wolf' types, recognise well enough that Messemprar falling to the Mulhorandi would be a death blow to most of them or at least to piracy in these waters, not to mention the terrible blow to their slave-for-grain trade with Thay.

quote:
Originally posted by Aldrick

What Mourktar has is agreements with pirate groups (most notably the pirates of Alkoth), who they can use to extort merchants who refuse to do business with them. I don't see Mourktar as dealing unfairly with foreign merchants, in the sense that they are undercutting them.

I see Mourktar as arranging trade deals with foreign merchant groups. Basically, they'd look like this: "Ship X amount of Y to Mourktar. We will pay Z amount for each pound that is still in good condition." The merchants agree to this before sending the ships. By doing this it prevents them from sitting on their goods in the docks, if they realize that there is a metal shortage, for example, and attempting to war profiteer.

By ACTIVELY seeking out business in foreign lands it helps introduce competition between foreign merchants, and so if closer merchants such as those in the Wizard's Reach or Thay want to begin charging outrages prices, they can still do business with those in Chessenta, Aglarond, Thesk, the Vilhon Reach, Turmish, etc. So long as they can continue to bring in foreign merchants into their ports, it limits the degree to which they're beholden to any one group of merchants.

I can see why Mourktar would want to do that. But remember that even with an allegince with some pirates of unknown number, they are still a port city of around 10,000 people, with good port facilities for that population, but still not a very large city.

Merchants can simply choose to deal with any of the much larger cities in the reigion, with their larger ports and, in many cases, powerful fleets to protect them from pirates.

Unless you change canon a lot to support your prefered conclusions, Mourktar is not in a position to dictate to merchants. They are smaller than most of the cities they are competing with for trade.

quote:
Originally posted by Aldrick

So long as the risks are worth it, and they have gold to spend - the merchants will come. By influencing piracy in the region that helps them manipulate the "risks" portion of that equation.

This fits well into the character of Mourktar as it is described as an "aggressive trading city" - the key word in that quote is aggressive. Coming from such a poor land, I'm pretty sure they'd give any Sembian a run for their money when it comes to trade negotiations. They MUST get the best deals possible if they are to survive.


Agreed.

I differ mainly in thinking that even with manipulating piracy, Mourktar isn't going to become the prefered port over the Wizard Reach cities, Messemprar or Bezantur. They manage to survive and even make profits, but they are still too small to manage even a fraction of the massive trade that has always gone on in the area.

For example, it makes no sense at all for the port facilities of the 10,000 strong Mourktar to handle all of the traffic for Messemprar, a city which numbered 200,000 people through most of its history, used to be the number one trading city in the region and has ports appropriate to that size.

Not to mention that Messemprar, with the war and refugee crisis, requires more shipping and trade now than at any other time in its history (though paying for it requires them to burn up generations of stored wealth and is still plunging them into debt and driving them to madness)

quote:
Originally posted by Aldrick

The main difference that I'd include is that pirates would constantly harass trade vessels venturing to Messemprar, making it more practical for ships to dock in Mourktar instead of venturing further south. Mourktar in turn would be sending their own merchant ships to Messemprar.

I think that all the trade vessels of Mourktar, plus all the pirate ships of Alkoth and other independent powers, are still not enough to meet the shipping demands of Messemprar. So Mourktar harassing any ship bound there would be directly against the vital national interests of Mourktar, as it would play into the hands of Mulhorand, quickening their eventual victory.

In my campaign, Mulhorand has tried to blockade it, which at least suceeds in discouraging the all-important Thayan vessels, as well as civilian traffic from Chessenta, Wizard Reach and further west. For Mourktar to aid this blockade in any way would be insane. They'd be risking everything just to make a little more profit, and they are already making huge profits.

quote:
Originally posted by Aldrick

When it comes to Thay, I think we are in a bit of a disagreement. Primarily because, as you pointed out previously, Thay lacks a unified foreign policy. It's my belief that the Temple of the Black Lord's Cloak is the main central temple for the entire region, and that ultimately the Banites in Thay answer to him.

I disagree that they answer to him. Officially, they answer to Fzoul Chembryl now, just as Kabbarath Telthaug does. Even before Fzoul, I don't see them ever having been very effectively subservient to the Black Lord's Cloak, as the Banite temple in Bezantur is the regional power in Thay and it's hard for Mourktar to enforce any authority over Thayan priests, seeing as the Red Wizards would block any military means of doing so.

But I certainly think they are allied with him and individual high priests probably admire him and seek to emulate him.

And the Black Lord's Cloak certainly commands most of the Banite temples in the east of Faerun.

quote:
Originally posted by Aldrick

It's true that he can't overtly and aggressively attack all of Thay, but he doesn't have too. All he needs to do is to engage in the politics of Thay, as the Red Wizards and the various merchant groups there are constantly scheming against each other. It isn't overly difficult for him to strike an agreement with some merchants at the expense of others.

For example, "Ship X amount of goods to Mourktar for Y price. We also understand that XXXX merchant group has been undercutting your profitability lately. You know, we've spoken to someone who might be willing to help you with that problem, for the right price..."

Thus, pirates would target certain merchants from Thay because OTHER merchants of Thay are PAYING them to do it in order to get a competitive advantage. This allows Mourktar to walk away with their hands almost entirely clean. In essence, he'd use Thayan internal division against themselves.

If Mourktar can legitimately ensure some degree of safety from the pirates of the Sea of Fallen Stars (or at least those who operate near the Alambar Sea) - which canonically seems to be the case - then they are in a strong position to influence trade in the region.


In ordinary times, sure. Now, though, with Thay and Mourktar both having an imperative interest in trying to keep Free Unther supplied, I think that any such attempts that reduced the flow of trade to Messemprar would be self-defeating.

quote:
Originally posted by Aldrick

I don't picture them being overt and overly aggressive with things. Any serious overreach is going to provoke a harsh and dangerous response. However, Kabarrath should certainly be able to make trading with anyone other than Mourktar not worth the potential risk or cost.


You realise that doing so will mean that a lot of merchants will decide not to trade with any polity in the region? If Mourktar has harsh laws and high taxes and unloading elsewhere carries a high risk of piracy, many Chessentan and Wizard Reach merchants will trade in Chessenta and points further west instead of sailing east.

This will cause an economic collapse all over the eastern Sea of Fallen Stars.

Basically, tiny Mourktar would be risking death for itself and all the nations around them just for the dubious benefit of trying to monopolise trade that is several orders of magnitude larger than they can handle anyway.

Mordulkin's ports are probably twice as big as Mourktar, but more seriously than that; Messemprar is twenty times as big, Bezantur is twenty times as big, Skuld is twenty times as big, Unthalass is twenty times as big. And the Wizard Reach cities are all at least as big as Mourktar in terms of port facilities, usually being several times bigger. Most of these ports also have hinterlands and access to other trade that dwarf Mourktar.

Mourktar can be prosperous, but Mourktar ever becoming a central powerhouse of trade in the region would be utterly unrealistic as a goal.

quote:
Originally posted by Aldrick

Besides, those very same pirates would ACTIVELY be attacking all ships sailing for Mulhorand. That is by far too valuable for Thay to simply attempt to crush entirely. Certainly, Thay's navy could do that, but as you pointed out there are risks for Thay seeming THAT openly involved. And attacking ships heading to Mulhorand is being VERY involved. Thay would likely be willing to PAY the pirates to do it for them, if Mourktar wasn't already ordering it to happen.


Something like 80% of ships that sail to Mulhorand are Thayan. Thay may hate Mulhorand and vice versa, but the two nations are still the largest trading partners in the area.

In fact, most Mulhorandi trade has been borne on Thayan dromonds and roundships for at least a century and a half.

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Edited by - Icelander on 19 Jul 2013 18:55:53
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Icelander
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Mercenaries:
quote:

Originally posted by Aldrick

Absolutely. However, I wouldn't worry about having a name for all of them. That would be way too much to manage. I would focus instead on the most prominent and important companies involved.

I recently found out that my campaign has more NPCs, of varying importance and levels of detail, than G.R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire. With more than two thousand already there, I think it won't matter to add a few hundred.

I'd ideally want to have names for all the mercenary companies and names, descriptions and personalities of all senior officers among them, those that the PCs would deal with. For now, I'm focusing on those that will travel with Shudu-Ab's army and the PCs will meet outside Sadamzar. First place to those politically important, of course, which means having a powerful force at their command.

I plan to detail the Crow Banners and the Six Black Blades both. The Crow Banners, in my campaign, have raised a force of mercenaries under their banner and the Six Black Blades are leading some henchmen and hirelings as a band of elite commandos, assassins, scouts and spies.

But I need more bandit and pirate warlords in the service of Tiamat, Bane, Cult of the Dragon and Mourktar. Also, mercenaries, I suppose, but keep in mind that for those without political or religious interest in Unther, Mulhorand is offering very high pay and there is currently at least one war in Chessenta itself. Added to that, none of the factions involved has endless money and the Church of Tiamat is running out of wealth after years of warfare against Gilgeam, Old Regime loyalists and now Mulhorand.

quote:
Originally posted by Aldrick

When it comes to Chessenta it's no doubt that the numerous mercenary companies are playing on both sides of the war. However, I think a better question to ask is what the leaders of the various city states of the region think about what is going down.


I've been trying to formulate that. I suggest another thread for that, though.

quote:
Originally posted by Aldrick

Also, it'd be helpful to know if Tchazzar is back or not, because that would have a huge influence in how Chessenta reacts to events.

It's spring 1373 DR in my campaign and he will appear at the turn of 1373/1374 DR. So, no.

quote:
Originally posted by Aldrick

It should be noted that the Crow Banners (which are loyal to the Temple of the Cloak) are active down in the Shining Lands. So I imagine that the temple has some connections down there, and could be bringing mercenaries up from the south just like with the mercenaries in Chessenta.


Currently, the mercenaries I have introduced from the Shining Lands have all been fighting for Mulhorand. I like the idea of having the Crow Banners be commanding mostly Durpari or other Shining Lands troops.

Any ideas about those? Their specific origins, reasons for signing on, weapons and fighting styles, etc.? Not to mention the most important of their own leaders.

quote:
Originally posted by Aldrick

They are sending mercenaries to southern Unther - the already conquered regions. Most of the fighting is taking place in the north, and the goal is to begin in essence - causing mass chaos, forcing the army of Mulhorand to turn south to reconquer territory, or to divide up their forces.

Remember, strategically speaking, Kabarrath is not trying to defeat Mulhorand. His goal is merely to demoralize and bankrupt them, forcing them to withdraw militarily from the lands of Old Unther. So his goal is not to "conquer and hold" as the Mulhorandi perhaps suspect.

This is exactly right for the campaigning seasons of 1372 DR and 1373 DR. I imagine that some of the Mourktari mercenaries wintered out on the Shaar, at least if they could come to an arrangment with the Gray Ghosts, with others having spent the rainy season of winter around the edges of the Greenfields.

quote:
Originally posted by Aldrick

This is where the Renegades and Helyos come into play - along with a number of other mercenary groups. They've been given instructions to venture to the south and to be as nimble and as quick as possible. They are encouraged NOT to engage any major Mulhorandi force on the battlefield. If they hear about Mulhorandi army on the way, they should immediately begin retreating.

Their goal is to go to each town and village the come across (avoiding large cities), and basically offer the following demands: offer tribute to Mourktar or be destroyed. Tribute to Mourktar involves admitting that they are traitors by siding with Mulhorand (even if they were forced to surrender!), taking up arms against Mulhorand, and sending financial tribute north to Mourktar. Roughly 2/3rds of all tribute gathered goes to the mercenaries who collect it, who must also send it to the north to Mourktar.

Those that do not offer tribute to Mourktar will be destroyed utterly. The mercenaries will attack their town or village, and anyone who resists will be killed. Anyone who survives will be rounded up and sent north to Mourktar as slaves - who will in turn be sold to Thay. Everything not nailed down will be pillaged, including the crops in the fields which would be ripped from the ground by the roots. The town or village itself will then be set on fire, and finally a handful of survivors will be set free to spread the word to other towns and villages of what happens when they refuse to bend the knee to the Black Hand.

Basically, in short, imagine Helyos and the other mercenaries like him being the patron saints of Genghis Khan. No mercy. Utter brutality. In short: burn, rape, and pillage all who resist to sow fear into the hearts of those who have yet to see the wisdom in bending the knee.

The mercenaries are being paid based on how much they can pillage and carry away, as well as how much tribute they can collect. Regardless the goal is to have it all flow back to Mourktar, so that it can be sold.

In addition to do this, the mercenaries will be ordered to assault and disrupt the Mulhorandi supply lines, with the goal of cutting off resources to the army in the north. This will force the army to turn south again to deal with the mercenaries, or to hunker down and begin relying upon the people they conquered (thus, perhaps - ideally - inciting them into rebellion). No one wants to have their food taken by soldiers, or to be forced to give shelter to them in their homes.

If the mercenaries see the Mulhorandi laying siege, they should attack their supply lines, but also harass them directly. In other words, they shouldn't engage them in a battle, but send light calvary archers and wizards to assault them quickly and immediately begin retreating. They should never fully engage them in a battle, but instead think "death by a thousand cuts."


Excellent analysis and I agree fully.

I quibble only in that there is no realistic way to transport the loot from southern Unther to Mourktar for it to be sold there. Not only is it much too far, but it would have to go through Mulhorandi controlled areas, Mulhorandi controlled seas, the lines of battle and natural obstacles.

No, I think it's much more plausible that powerful priests of the Cloak set up a base either among the Gray Ghosts, in Hardcastle or perhaps built a temple of their own in the Uthangol Mountains. From there, they'd ship goods overland by caravan to the Shining Lands and through Hardcastle to Chondath and the Vilhon Reach.

Inefficient, yes, like all overland trade, but they lack any access to ports there.

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Edited by - Icelander on 19 Jul 2013 19:41:55
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Lord Bane
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Posted - 19 Jul 2013 :  19:32:43  Show Profile Send Lord Bane a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I should have made it clear that i was refering to pre-Time of Troubles when it came to the center of banite faith in Thay. I am sorry for that. After the return of Bane it is not so clear who commands the banites in Thay though. Escalant has the temple but a Tarchion who is also a priest of Bane commands a greater authority in Thay, of course this gets sorted out when Szass Tam takes over and becomes a tool for Bane.

I would have to adress some points you raised though.
The title Kabarrath took is similar to High Imperceptor, but if we take a look at Faiths and Avatars it is common practise in the banite faith that leaders give themselves titles and i see him following that tradition and not a direct challange, granted he mostlikely wanted to be the leader of all banites aswell but i see it more as a traditional move and more to symbolize to the faithful in the Old Empires that he is the one to turn to.

It is not so uncommon to have "temple cities", cities dominated by temples who are or were reason for large imigration towards the places of worship. I wouldnīt rule it out that Mourktar started out as a small fishing village and once the temple was built it drew people and it grew larger with all the side effects of a holy site in a city(inns,taverns,merchants who sell devotional items, prostitiutes etc.). I donīt see it becoming a monarchy until they seceded from Unther. So yes it may look out of place but it is totally reasonable to have a large following for the temple, especially if it is from our knowledge the only one in the region.

As for the feeding of such a large force, yes it is "cheaper" to hire a smaller mecenary force, but let us assume such a large congregation of troops is at Mourktar.
It means they feed off the city and the land, it would come to shortages yes, but such a large force would be set on the move southwards and that means they supply themselves further south through merchants, raids and provisions taken with them from Mourktar, additionally to supply being in need to constantly sent further south to the fighting force. If near the coast, logisticly by ship for faster and larger effect. We know by now that the pirates fleet of Alkoth is supporting Karrabath so the shipping should be safe from mulhorandi naval attacks unless Mulhorand sends itīs entire navy.
It is possible to supply such a large force but as you stated, way more easy to simply pay hired swords.

Mourktar would increase in population due to the simple fact that it entered the war and that means influx of mercenaries, sailors, merchants and prostitutes who want to profit from the war and refugees coming to the city to seek shelter. If it doubles itīs number we would need more information to put a foundation to the claim but yes, Mourktar grows.

I am with you that Mourktar is a power in the region, donīt get me wrong, i just want to round the edges

The driving force in the multiverse is evil, for it forces good to act.
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Aldrick
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Posted - 19 Jul 2013 :  20:01:00  Show Profile Send Aldrick a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I actually planned to make a post about how trade and economics likely work in the Realms, so I want to eventually address everything in your response in future posts.

However, I want to first address one of the main points about population. I would point out that the population numbers that I've given are MUCH higher than stated in the 3E FRCS.

For example, Unther has a population of 4,265,840 according to the 3E FRCS. I've given Unther a population of 12,960,000.

Mulhorand has a population of 5,339,520 in canon, and I've given them a population of 11,664,000.

Chessenta has a population of 3,386,880 in canon, and I've given them a population of 6,912,000.

Thay has a population of 4,924,800 in canon, and I've given them a population of 20,160,000.

Imagine that - Thay, despite it's intense use of magical agriculture - has a population nearly equal to war torn and famine stricken Unther, and a smaller population than Chessenta!

Of course, as I pointed out - the population numbers shifted dramatically between editions without any explanation. It is all based on the D&D formulas being used.

I'm going to write more about magical agriculture later, but if we assume the nations are roughly the size I outlined based on the 3E Map, and we took the population numbers from the 3E FRCS into account - then there would be massive amounts of wilderness in those nations. Keep in mind that in my population estimates I'm assuming that only roughly 33% of the nations are settled. The other 67% is wilderness. If we go by 3E population estimates, and assume the measurements are correct - then we're looking at only roughly 10% to 15% of the entire nation as settled. This wouldn't make much sense - arguably, my population estimates are on the lower side of things, and for Unther and Mulhorand I should have gone even higher with population density.

The alternative to fix that is to shrink the size of the countries (meaning the scale of the 3E map is wrong). However, that would make the countries seem unnaturally small. Keep in mind that Unther is (as I measured it based on the 3E Map scale), roughly the size of modern day France. Mulhorand is roughly the size of modern day Spain.

...and arguably speaking, I think the scale of the 3E map is already probably too small. So shrinking it further is something I'd personally avoid. So, we basically have a situation where - if we go by canon numbers - there is an insane amount of wilderness, or alternatively, the population numbers I've given are more realistic.

Once again, I'd point out that the population numbers change arbitrarily with each edition, based on whatever formula they are using - in most cases they shrank even more when 4E came out. (In a few cases - cut by almost half!)

So, personally speaking, I wouldn't be afraid to fiddle around with the population numbers. Arguably speaking, I think the numbers I gave for Mulhorand and Unther are too low - not too high, considering how long those lands have been settled.

The real point of debate is over the size of the cities. In general, more cities are generated than metropolises. I don't think it would necessarily break things to shrink the number of people living in cities by giving some additional population to the metropolises. However, an issue with that is we wouldn't want a huge amount of distance between cities without a legitimate reason. So that involves doing things like measuring distance between the cities on the map, and that could get insanely tedious.

According to what I came up with, Unther has 2 Metropolises, 27 Cities, and 156 Towns. However, canonically speaking Unther only has 7 listed locations - two of which are indeed Metropolises, and some of which are explicitly stated as being small towns or even villages, and I inflated their populations. So there is a lot of settlements that need to be added to Unther to flesh it out properly.

As for the magical agriculture stuff and economics - I'm going to address that later in a separate post.
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