The quotes for this series come from party members from a Hoard of the Dragon Queen game I ran. A few of them come from Langdedrosa Cyanwrath, a character that the party liked so much they recruited him.
“The unity and goodwill in this place is suffocating.”
Silverymoon is the political and cultural capital of the nation of Luruar. Methrammar Aerasume leads Luruar as a whole, succeeding the nation’s founder Alustriel Silverhand, who was formerly the leader of Silverymoon itself. Although the leadership of Luruar is not combined with the leadership of Silverymoon, Alustriel’s prominent position within the Silverymoon government prior to her ascension as well as the concentration of cultural, economic, and military power in the city of Silverymoon itself both led to the city becoming much more prominent and influential over the nation despite a lack of explicit legal favoritism.
Luruar and Neverwinter have been competing to be the third most powerful sphere of influence in the Sword Coast region for over a century, and they are as near one another in influence now as they were before. Unfortunately, this is not because they have maintained pace with one another but because they have both experienced disasters that set them back by similar amounts. While Neverwinter was physically destroyed and forced to rebuild, Luruar was overwhelmed by orcish invasion from the Spine of the World soon after Methrammar took over. Methrammar, lacking Alustriel’s talent for diplomacy, stewardship, and organization, led a confused resistance against the invasion. Despite the slow start, Methrammar was eventually able to form up the armies of Luruar (especially the large and powerful military of Silverymoon) and drive back the invaders, but the dwarven citadels of the north had been left to fend off the sieges by themselves for months while the mixed dwarf/human city of Sundabar had been overrun and completely destroyed.
As a result of this, the dwarves lost confidence in the ability of Luruar to provide mutual defense and saw no reason why their coffers should be drained to support a nation that couldn’t keep its promises of protection. The loss of the dwarven citadels, especially the wealthy city of Mithral Hall, was a serious blow to the prominence of Luruar and its capital Silverymoon, especially as it came simultaneously with the loss of their founder and great leader Alustriel.
While Silverymoon’s sphere of influence is greatly diminished by these events, the city itself remains an economic and military powerhouse. The city is a trade nexus between all of Luruar including the valuable mining city of Sundabar (still undergoing reconstruction) and the trade gateway of Everlund as well as two of the three dwarven citadels in the north, whose trade must flow through Silverymoon and Everlund to reach Waterdeep via Triboar. This trade nexus is maintained due to the vigilance of the Knights in Silver, Silverymoon’s powerful chivalric order which keeps Luruar free of orcs and forms a formidable vanguard for their military when marshaled for war. In addition, Silverymoon boasts the Spellguard and the High Guard, two much smaller but far more exalted elite orders dedicated to the defense of the city and palace (respectively), as well as the Silverwatch which maintains order in the streets, the Moon Garrison that serves as the rank-and-file of the city’s defenses, and the Argent Legion, a massive army supplied by recruits from all across Luruar and dedicated to the defense of all member cities.
Perhaps its most formidable defense, however, is the Silverymoon Mythal, a powerful magical ward that prevents all but the strongest willed evil creatures from remaining, including chromatic dragons, demons, devils, goblinoids, orcs, trolls, illithids, drow, duergar, and giants, while also preventing the casting of evocation spells, teleportation spells, and summoning spells by anyone not carrying a magical charm that grants them exemption. Silverymoon has no shortage of military defenses nor do they lack the ability to project force. They are quite possibly the most powerful land military in all of the Sword Coast.
Given this abundance of economic and military power, convincing Silverymoon to give up any amount of independence and be absorbed even into the periphery of another sphere of influence is a task of titanic difficulty. The orcish Kingdom of Many-Arrows has a demonstrable capability to pose a serious threat to Luruar, but that was before they took the losses they did in their previous invasion. If the dwarves could be convinced to completely ignore an orcish invasion of Luruar, Many-Arrows would have a fighting chance of overwhelming the nation. Even if Luruar survived, they might find more of their internal trade network and several member cities demolished, leaving them simultaneously in need of a massive reconstruction effort and with their primary means of funding such an effort crippled. If Luruar were rebuilt by an outside party, that party might be able to sign treaties that gave them control over trade within Luruar, possibly even to the extent of cutting Silverymoon out entirely unless they, too, cede their sovereignty to treaties that would bring them into another’s sphere of influence. Alternatively, a party might attempt to set up one of their own or a trusted ally to become the next High Mage of Silverymoon or the next leader of Luruar. Each of these offices has a (usually non-hereditary) successor designated by the current ruler. Convincing such a ruler to designate someone who spends most of their time outside Luruar as opposed to a member of the Spellguard, the High Guard, or their existing advisers would be difficult, but not impossible, nor would it be impossible to find someone from one of those organizations who would be amenable to joining another sphere of influence.
A more direct approach might involve invading Luruar. A coalition between not just Many-Arrows, but also the People of the Black Blood, the trolls of the Evermoors, the Uthgardt barbarians throughout the wilderness periphery, and the orc and goblinoid tribes of the Nether Mountains might be able to bring even the powerful military of Silverymoon to its knees.
The 3e sourcebook Silver Marches is about a century out of date, but nevertheless provides mostly accurate details on not only Silverymoon and the other cities of Luruar, but also the entire region. To avoid redundancy, this sourcebook will not be mentioned in other sections, however it is nevertheless the best source for closer details on every subsection within the Silverymoon section of this document.
The Kingdom of Many-Arrows
The Kingdom of Many-Arrows is ruled over by the unorthodox but undeniably effective Obould Dynasty, founded by King Obould, the first ruler of Many-Arrows. This orc kingdom is remarkable for its stability. There is a reason why most orc territories are simply labeled as orc territories: They are generally too unstable and their kingdoms too short-lived to bother marking them out on a map. Not so with Many-Arrows, for Obould was a cautious, long term planner even as he was a courageous and powerful warrior. He and his legacy forged a kingdom which, rather than bashing itself relentlessly against all neighbors until they eventually met their match or stretched too thin and crumbled, maintained long periods of peace with the powerful realm of Luruar. While it set the shamans of Gruumsh and their not-insignificant following at edge to ignore the wealth of Luruar to the south, Obould and his descendants released the aggression of their subjects through almost incessant low-grade warfare with the Uthgardt barbarians who lived at the periphery of Luruar, particularly in the Cold Wood and the Evermoors. The population of Many-Arrows grew, and with it grew its power and wealth.
Eventually, the drow of Menzoberranzan decided that Luruar needed to be destroyed and Many-Arrows was the instrument with which to destroy them. They began supporting the Gruumsh factions within Many-Arrows, who threw a coup against Obould XVII (Obould’s descendants are not very long lived, nor are they too creative with naming their kids) and installed the Gruumshite Hartusk in his place. Hartusk immediately led the orcs of Many-Arrows in a massive invasion of Luruar. The speed and size of this invasion caught Luruar off-guard, and led to the destruction of Sundabar and the secession of the dwarven citadels from the nation. The forces of Luruar eventually managed to rally and defeat the orcs, and in the aftermath Lorgru of the Obould Dynasty deposed Hartusk and reclaimed his throne in Dark Arrow Keep. The kingdom remains significantly less stable and less powerful than before the war.
Although weakened, Many-Arrows remains the single greatest concentration of orc power ruled directly by orcs in all of Faerun. If the Gruumshites were to place another of their own on the throne, Many-Arrows could do serious damage to Luruar in a second invasion provided that they could be convinced to ignore the dwarves and the dwarves convinced to ignore them. Although Many-Arrows would be unlikely to actually capture Silverymoon and defeat the Argent Legion, they could weaken the nation enough to leave it vulnerable to assimilation into another sphere of influence. On the other hand, if the Gruumshite faction were more decisively defeated, Lorgru would have the breathing room he needs to retaliate against orcs conducting minor raids into Luruar against his decrees, and that in turn could lead to the establishment of formal trade relations with Luruar and strengthen the economy of the entire region.
RA Salvatore’s Vengeance of the Iron Dwarf explores the recent events of Many-Arrows in great detail, albeit from the perspective of Luruar’s allies rather than that of the orcs of Many-Arrows.
Previously known as the Moonwood and the Cold Wood, the two forests have grown together in recent years and are now known collectively as the Glimmerwood. The elves of the Moonwood, as much a part of Luruar as any human city, still refer to their ancestral homelands within the Glimmerwood as the Moonwood. The elves kept the forest cleansed of orcs and goblinoids, but lacked the power and the will to clear the People of the Black Blood, Malarite werewolves who lived primarily in the northern reaches. The Moonwood is also home to cells of the Eldreth Veluuthra, an elven supremacy movement that despises all non-elves. Being that the Moonwood are firm allies of the humans and dwarves nearby, this organization is completely illegal, but thrives nevertheless. Some of them have become werewolves themselves, and fight with the People of the Black Blood for supremacy over the northern fringe of the forest.
The eastern half of the Glimmerwood, formerly known as the Cold Wood, is the territory of the Red Tiger clan of the Uthgardt barbarians. Pockets of orcs and ettins fight with the Uthgardt for control of the forest. Many Uthgardt outcasts also live in the eastern Glimmerwood, as it stands at the far fringe of Uthgardt wilderness.
The Eldreth Veluuthra might make for better pawns than one might expect, given their hostility towards the kind of race-mixing that goes on in any given D&D party. While they might want to conquer all the Sword Coast (if not the world) for the elves as it was before the Crown Wars, a charismatic diplomat could persuade them to accept the Glimmerwood as their own and thus use them as catspaws to destroy the orcs, ettins, Uthgardt barbarians, and the Children of the Black Blood in other parts of the forest.
That said, a pawn who will refuse all calls to arms and does no trade is really more a neutral faction. Almost any party will be better off rooting them out and using either the Uthgardt barbarians or the orcs and ettins from the Cold Wood as local rulers. The real utility in the Eldreth Veluuthra, then, is to use them to stage a coup and drive out the Moonwood elves before subsequently destroying them with the Uthgardt barbarians or an orc-ettin coalition. This way the Moonwood is brought under the party’s control and no war is provoked with Luruar.
The alternative is, of course, to befriend the Moonwood elves by helping them defeat the Children of the Black Blood, although it would be difficult to convince them to defect from the Silverymoon sphere of influence considering they do not face serious danger from the werewolves in the northern forest (individually most elves would be in serious danger against the average werewolf, of course, but the werewolves are few enough that elves are rarely attacked in the first place). A party that was already aligned with Silverymoon would benefit from entrenching the Moonwood elves (and maybe also Uthgardt barbarians) as sole rulers of the Glimmerwood, but otherwise it would likely be wiser to drive them out.
Various Drizz’t books visit the Glimmerwood (mostly the Moonwood), including repeated visits in the Hunter’s Blade trilogy. The Glimmerwood also makes an appearance in Vengeance of the Iron Dwarf.
The Nether Mountains once marked the boundary between the ancient human empire of Netheril and the ancient dwarven kingdom of Delzoun, which occupied all of the territory now known as Luruar and originally delved all the great dwarven cities of the North, as well as some of the human ones (most notably Sundabar). Given that, the dwarves are surprisingly okay with Luruar’s continued existence.
In modern times, these mountains are overrun with orcs. Baraskur is a series of closely packed caves fortified together as one structure to serve as the stronghold of the Ripped Guts tribe of orcs, intermittently ruled over by the ghost of a long dead human sorceress who demands a host to possess every few years, a possession which can last anywhere from a few days to half a year. While possessed, the powerful sorceress directs the orcs to scour the Netherese ruins in the mountains for some lost item. In between possessions, the ghost is largely dormant and the orcs raid and fight with their neighbors.
Said neighbors are the Thousand Fists tribe of orcs, whose stronghold is a much more thinly spread series of caves called the Thousand Maws. These caverns are linked not by fortified out-buildings and ramparts but by runners who quickly run to nearby caverns to bring all the tribe to the defense of any one cave that should fall under attack.
The two tribes primarily fight over the Moon Pass. In stark contrast to the foreboding mountains, the Moon Pass is an abundant valley. The humans and dwarves of Luruar have been known to make their own attempts at colonizing the area. So far, the orc tribes have prevented them from seeing much success.
The most deadly threat in the Nether Mountains are the Murueme Clan. No less than a half-dozen young blue dragons led by Nahaunglaroth and Raurimm, a pair of adults who, much to the relief of all nearby, turned upon their father, an ancient blue named Kizilpazar, and killed him. Nevertheless, the unusual number of dragons in the area makes them a serious threat even with their patriarch slain. The Morueme Clan is dedicated to protecting Dalagar’s Dagger, the tallest peak of the Nether Mountains, upon which aging chromatic dragons from all across the Sword Coast fly to impale themselves. The treasure stuck between the dead dragon’s scales falls out, some dislodged from the impact, others coming loose as the dragon decays, to form a sizable hoard of its own at the base of the mountain. The Morueme Clan won’t touch a single coin of this hoard, nor will they let anyone else do so. No one knows why the dragons come to Dalagar’s Dagger to end themselves, and no one knows why the Morueme Clan don’t claim the treasure for themselves (certainly they each maintain a hoard of their own, each in their individual caverns at the eastern edge of the Nether Mountains).
A monastery to Loviator, goddess of pain, overlooks the Everlund Pass at the far west of the Nether Mountains. Ordinarily such a tiny outpost would not merit mention, but its strategic location means that it could be used, were its inhabitants so inclined (or killed and replaced by those who are), to interdict trade between Silverymoon and Everlund, which would seriously damage the economy of all Luruar (and the dwarven citadels) as practically all trade that isn’t completely internal goes through Silverymoon to Everlund and from there down to Waterdeep.
The Rauvin Mountains cut through the center of Luruar and the former kingdom of Delzoun. Three different orc tribes have taken up residence in these mountains, each one taking their name from their favored method of slaughtering hapless victims for Gruumsh: The Tornskulls, the Heart Takers, and the Red Fangs (the latter devour their victims alive). The foothills of these mountains are pockmarked by goblinoid strongholds.
A party sided with Silverymoon will have no shortage of colonists willing to push into the Moon Pass, nor will they be unable to find recruits to garrison Baraskur and the Thousand Maws. The trouble, then, is of course to actually capture these orcish strongholds and drive the orc tribes who inhabit them southwards. A party working against Silverymoon would need to seize control of one orc tribe or another, perhaps by exorcising the sorcerous ghost who regularly tyrannizes the Ripped Guts, and use them to destroy their rival. Either way, the Moruemes will have to be dealt with, and they very rarely fight alone. A similar strategy would have to be taken in the Rauvin Mountains, however this time there is no fertile valley which Luruar is eager to settle, which means the party will have to provide incentive or permanently garrison troops in the Rauvin Mountains to retain control after driving out the orcs and goblinoids. Alternatively, they could pick their favorite tribe and lead them to victory or unite the goblinoids and lead them in an uprising against the orcs who raid and extort them regularly for cannon fodder and slaves.
The Northern Marches remains firmly recommended for more details on these mountain ranges. The Nether Mountains in particular still have lost Netherese ruins hidden in them. While these are unlikely to prove critical to a sphere of influence due to their lack of strategic importance, a party might take a break from world domination to plumb their depths for personal wealth and magic items. In this case, Netheril: Empire of Magic is an excellent sourcebook to the ancient empire, and the sections of Lost Empires of Faerun dealing with Netheril may also prove useful. Although these books are old (Empire of Magic is from clear back in 2e), Netheril was already an empire thousands of years fallen when the setting was first released, so information on it from any real world year of publishing is all equally valid, as they are all dealing with a fallen empire (although it should be noted that some sourcebooks mentioning the Netherese are referring to their 15th century successor state, who are descended from the original empire but otherwise unrelated).
The Evermoors are a lumpy bog with hills rising irregularly out of largely stagnant, brackish water. Their primary inhabitants are trolls and giants, who do not get along with one another. The trolls used to be the sole inhabitants and largely kept to themselves, however a frost giant incursion (with hill giant lackeys) has pushed the trolls into the outlying regions, much to the distress of the outlying regions.
Delzoun and Netheril alike created cairns out here for their dead, and these ancient tombs remain, completely sealed by thick stone slabs to prevent the remains from being disturbed. The tombs were so frequent and so weighed down with magical treasures that, for a brief time when the bog water began eroding most of them away, people could actually make a living panning for magic rings in the Laughingflow as it flowed out of the moor. These days most of the cairns have been looted or flooded, but a few still remain undisturbed and packed with treasure.
Prospectors believe that the hills of the Evermoors are extremely ore-rich and that it would be a mining location as valuable as the Spine of the World were it not for the giants and trolls occupying it. As such, although its strategic position is questionable due to how incredibly difficult it is to get an army through it on any kind of reasonable timetable, the Evermoors would quite possibly be a valuable addition to a sphere of influence. Mining rights to that area could potentially be a powerful bargaining chip in negotiations, particularly with the nearby dwarfhold of Mithral Hall. Any sphere of influence that did not already have the dwarves on their side could easily lock them into beneficial treaties with such valuables to offer.
The issue, of course, is the giants in the north and the trolls in the south. As the giants are already quite handily winning the war, they have little incentive to make any concessions in exchange for assistance in the fight (though they might still be willing to hire mercenaries for a one-time payment in treasure), which leaves two options: Either rally the trolls or enlist outside aid for an invasion. The only outsiders in any position to attack are Luruar and the dwarves of the north, both of whom are still fairly depleted from their recent war against Many-Arrows. The good news is that armies of both giants and trolls tend to be relatively small, numbering in the dozens rather than the thousands, due to the much higher supply needs of such large creatures. As such, adventurers who can slay even a small number of the creatures might make a serious difference on the battlefield, and may provide the edge needed to lead Mithral Hall and/or Silverymoon to victory. Of course, if the resources of the Evermoors were intended to be used as a bartering chip to bring Mithral Hall into a sphere of influence, that sphere of influence would have an extremely difficult time convincing the dwarves to then also do most of the heavy lifting in securing those resources.
RA Salvatore’s Rise of the King is the only recent depiction of the Evermoors, and the attention paid this region by the otherwise fairly exhaustive Silver Marches sourcebook for 3e and 5e’s Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide have little (though not nothing) to say about it.