Year of the Shadows
AT A GLANCE: One of the handful of proper nations in the North, Cormyr straddles the land between the Dragonmere and Anauroch, in the north east region of the Sea of Fallen Stars. It was at one time heavily wooded, but is now a region of small forests and organized farms.
ELMONSTER’S NOTES: Cormyr, also called the Forest-Country, is a rich kingdom; its southern, eastern, and northwestern areas have many farms, offering abundant yield for trade. The central area of the kingdom are still wooded; these woods, carefully husbanded by the forces of the King, still yield good timber, and have plentiful game (which all may hunt, if they hunt alone). Cormyr is also strategically located on overland trade routes from the cities of the Moonsea to the northeast; the Dalelands to the east; the Inner Sea (on which it has two major ports, Suzail and Marsember); and the lands to the west, northwest, and south, particularly the rich city-states and kingdoms of the Sword Coast.
Cormyr is a wet land, receiving abundant rain in summer and spring, and abundant snow in winter. It has long, cold winters, and short but hot summers. Much of spring and fall is temperate and moist, and as a result Cormyr’s farms and forests are green and rich in both yield and splendor. Mists are common along the seacoast, and on the High Moors, extending in to the pass at High Horn, and the gorge north of Eveningstar.
Cormyr is a hereditary monarchy; the present King is Azoun IV, an effete but regal middle-aged man of sophisticated tastes and keen wits, son of the famed warrior-king Rhigaerd II. Azoun rules from his hilltop palace in Suzail and in the Royal Court of interconnected public buildings below it, and is rarely if even seen in the forest towns (he is rumored to travel in disguise when he must leave Suzail). Azoun’s banner is the Purple Dragon (a purple dragon on a black field); it is borne often by a strong standing army under the command of the Lord High Marshal of the Kingdom, Duke Bhereu.
Cormyr dates its years from the founding of House Obarskyr, 1,332 years ago. For the bulk of this time, Cormyr was little more than a single city (Suzail) and a few fortified outposts, and at times the King was forced into ruling from those outposts as opposed to ruling from his throne. The current king is the fourth of his name and the 71st of his line.
The land has been officially at peace for many years, since Rhigaerd over threw the Border Raiders. Its forces have taken part in actions in nearby regions, and the nation has recently mustered its forces to face Gondegal (for more on Gondegal, see under Arabel). In addition, patrols often skirmish with bandits on the roads in the north and west, and are at present battling orcs and other creatures north and east of Cormyr, in Tilver’s Gap and Daggerdale. Both of these areas are threatened by evil raiders, who will menace Cormyr itself if they ever overrun Tilverton and Daggerdale. Cormyr has been building a fortress, Castle Crag, for the last decade, to defend against any such attack.
The King rules by means of Lords, one in each town, and by the fealty of the rich merchant lords. The merchant lords are too numerous to mention (at any one time, perhaps twenty are of prominence), and change with the shifts of fortune, but the local Lords who are beneath the officers mentioned above, under the granting of charters are as follows. (Towns are listed in order of size and importance. Each town of Cormyr has its own entry.)
- Local Lord: Myrmenn Lhal
- Herald: Westar of the Gates
- Local Lord: Thiombur
- Herald: Ildul
- Local Lord: Hezom
- Herald: Yellow Hand Yespar
- High Horn
- Local Lord: Lord Commander Thursk Dembarron
- Herald: Dhag Greybeard
- Local Lord: Doon Dzavar
- Herald: Delzantar
- Local Lord: Samtavan Sulacar
- Herald: Culspiir
- Local Lord: Ildool
- Herald: Scoril
- Local Lord: Sthavar, Lord Magister of the City of Suzail
- Herald: Xrorn Hackhand
- Local Lord: Suldag the Boar
- Herald: Tooth Nzal Tursa
- Local Lord: Filfar Woodbrand (also called Trollkiller)
- Herald: Dhag Greybeard
- Local Lord: Sarp Redbeard
- Herald: Estspirit
Each lord defends the local farms, dispenses the Kings justice, keeps the peace, serves as the King’s eyes and ears, and collects tithes for the King and for himself (1 sp/head/ year). Each Lord is allowed up to forty men-at-arms, plus up to six guides/captains (typically rangers). These may serve as the town guard. Volunteer town guardsmen are known as the Watch, and may, upon the judgment of the Lord, be exempted from the tax if their service has been valuable. The Lord is also requested to stable and maintain a fit, fast horse of the best quality for the use of the King’s Messengers (who ride fast and far, requiring them to change mounts at every stop). Each Lord must have a right-hand man, who serves as a clerk/record-keeper, and is a trained Herald. (Heralds are listed with their respective masters above). The King taxes lightly (in addition to the tithe collected by the local lord, there is a royal tax of 1 gp per head annually, 5 gp for wealthy landowners), and makes the law by his decrees in the Court of the Crown. To enforce the Royal Word, there are three caravels (two at Suzail and one at Marsember), a standing garrison of 100 archers and 300 men-at-arms in High Horn, and 100 palace guardsmen in Suzail. There is also an standing army of over five hundred mounted men-at-arms and longbowmen, led in battle by thirty or so knights of the Court, and bolstered by a council of the widely-feared _war wizards_, who are known for their black-and-purple robes.
Mages of any rank of power, from thaumaturgists (level 5) and up, must by law report their names, sigils, and whereabouts of abode to the Royal Magician, Vangerdahast, in Suzail. Such spell-casters are also required to give their names whenever challenged in Cormyr by soldiers of the King or officers of the Court, upon pain of magical destruction at the hands of the Royal Magician or the Council of Mages (the aforementioned war wizards).
Charters and Registration
The military history of Cormyr is one of guerilla ambushes and running skirmishes, rather than set-piece battles, and the Court is thus very sensitive to the presence of armed men within the kingdom. Lawless freeswords cannot operate within Cormyr. Mercenaries (that is, all armed men not in service with the King) cannot gather, while armed, in groups of more than five in any place save public markets or inns and taverns (and in the latter, it is customary to surrender all weapons to a custodian behind the bar). Violators face immediate disarmament, forfeiture of goods, and imprisonment at the hands of the local Watch or soldiers of the King. The exceptions to this decree are: when such fighters are operating under hire; under contract to someone authorized to hire them (nobility, or chartered merchants) as caravan or warehouse guards, or as bodyguards; or by permission of the King. Save in times of war, permission of the King is granted only in the form of a royal charter.
Such charters can be obtained only from the Lord Commander at High Horn, the Warden of the Eastern Marches in Arabel (Baron Thomdor), or the Chancellor or Lord High Marshal at the Royal Court in Suzail. The King can of course grant one at any time, anywhere. Such charters customarily cost a thousand pieces of gold, a further tax of three hundred gold pieces a year (payable upon the anniversary of the issuance of the original charter, late penalty of twenty gold pieces per day thereafter, up to ten days later. Any further delay results in automatic suspension of the charter, and a warrant for the arrest and detention of any such mercenaries operating within the boundaries of Cormyr thereafter), and can be revoked without warning at any time.
Charters are customarily given to a company of adventurers. Such a company may not number more than thirty persons at any one time. All members of the chartered company must wear the arms or badge of their company at all times when armed in Cormyr. Finally the names of the members of any such company must be on file in Suzail, any changes in rosters being reported once a month to the aforementioned officers in High Horn, Suzail, Arabel, or the High Constable of the King’s Garrison at Waymoot.
Customs of Comyr
The nation of Cormyr has a number of recognized customs, which the traveler should recognize when operating in the nation. These customs include:
- Commoners of both sexes bow their heads to royalty.
- Burials are followed by wakes.
- It is unlucky and an offense to the gods to kill a cat, for cats are the eyes and messengers of gods. It is good to keep a cat, but a sin to clip its tail, ears, or fur, or hamper its ability to produce kittens. A cat may not be kept in a cage.
- Women interested in finding a mate wear purple scarves at hip and/or throat.
- Adventurers who go in peace, but armed, wear peacestrings about their swordhilts (to prevent quick unsheathings). These strings are colored and tasselled cords, and it is an art to tie them in ornate knots. The best of such knots look complicated, but may be undone with a single jerk to free the weapon.