Does (or did) Netheril's Isolation work?

Netheril: flying cities, ancient scrolls written on gold leaf, and just a little bit of hubris.

Does (or did) Netheril's Isolation work?

Postby night_druid » Sat Jul 12, 2008 6:17 pm

Kinda an outgrowth of a similar thread in the Maztica subforum.

As you may know, I'm doing a spelljammer sphere that is, essentially, a survivor state of Netheril. As such, I've been re-reading a good deal of the material written about Netheril. In doing so, something has struck me: the "Empire" (I use that term loosely) of Netheril was surprisingly isolated and did not have a large sphere of influence. It barely acknowledged its neighbors, Delzon and Cormanthor, and totally ignores the rest of Faerun altogether. For a nation of flying cities, castles, and ships, with virtually unlimited magical power, they hardly use it at all other than to loaf around. Their history spanned 3,500 years or so, yet the only wars they ever fought were against the cannon-fodder races, orcs, goblins, and ogres. Wars they barely won. Yet no conflicts with the innumerable other nations, some almost as magically powerful? Why no talk of trade, wars, and communication between the likes of Netheril, Calimshan, Unther, or Narfell? It seems that although all of these mighty empires existed at the same time, they did not acknowledge the world outside their own borders, even when the borders of two empires were only a few days' travel apart. It appears that there is far more trade & desire to explore now in the FR than the days when great flying ships could explore one end of the continent to the other in a few months. Indeed, why have a flying ship at all unless its to explore and trade with distant lands?

Ah well, just a thought that kinda hit me while reading up on Netheril's history. ;)
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Re: Does (or did) Netheril's Isolation work?

Postby sunbeam » Sat Jul 12, 2008 10:00 pm

There might be a bit more in the Grand History.

I think you are right though. Let's see human civilizations around at that time: Imaskar, Jhaamdath, Calimshan.

Elven: Cormanthyr, Earlann

Dwarves: There was one to the Northwest of Netheril. The Great Rift was around. And Deep Shanatar.

Some of those weren't around the whole time. Imaskar fell some time after Netheril rose, and was succeeded by Raumathar, Mulhorand, and Unther. I think Jhaamdath fell a little before Netheril did.

Heck there was probably something going on in Zakahara and Maztica. And Shou Lung should have been going strong even then.

Maybe it is something they missed when they wrote the campaign material, but you would think the Netherese would have gotten around more. A shame WOTC doesn't do anything cool like the Volo's guides anymore. "The Shade's guide to Old Netheril as dictated to Volo"

Not to repeat what you wrote as far as empire names go, but I myself have always wanted to know more about Jhaamdath, and have wondered what relations they had with Netheril.
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Re: Does (or did) Netheril's Isolation work?

Postby night_druid » Sun Jul 13, 2008 2:51 pm

In a lot of ways, it seems FR is less than the sum of its parts. It seems that there are huge sections of the realms which could be lifted out and dumped anywhere, and it'd work just as well. Many areas just don't interact well with anywhere else. Guess its probably the result of how the areas were put together.
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Re: Does (or did) Netheril's Isolation work?

Postby Big Mac » Sun Jul 20, 2008 9:32 pm

night_druid wrote:Kinda an outgrowth of a similar thread in the Maztica subforum.


Stop thief! :P ;)

Joking aside, if you look at the very early write up for Netheril, they were not isolationist at all. They started off as a collection of fishing villages. I think the Netherese got corrupted by the scrolls.

In -3830 DR the elves of Eaerlann open communications with Netheril and start to teach their humans magic. In -3605 DR the elves turn back an orc horde with the assiatance of Netheril. In -3419 DR the Netherese set up a trade deal with the dwarves of Delzoun at Ascore. After three years of talks they set up a trade route through the Underdark.

As for the history of the Realms, in general, I think that it suffers from being far too sparse. Recent years have tons of events documented in them (including all the adventure modules if you really want to go into things). But the past must have also had a ton of stuff - obviously this stuff was not important to the long term plot - but there must have been low level interaction between Netheril and other countries all the time it existed.
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Re: Does (or did) Netheril's Isolation work?

Postby night_druid » Mon Jul 21, 2008 1:40 am

Big Mac wrote:Stop thief! :P ;)


I didn't do it, nobody saw me do it, you can't prove a thing! ;)


Joking aside, if you look at the very early write up for Netheril, they were not isolationist at all. They started off as a collection of fishing villages. I think the Netherese got corrupted by the scrolls.

In -3830 DR the elves of Eaerlann open communications with Netheril and start to teach their humans magic. In -3605 DR the elves turn back an orc horde with the assiatance of Netheril. In -3419 DR the Netherese set up a trade deal with the dwarves of Delzoun at Ascore. After three years of talks they set up a trade route through the Underdark.


True, but think of it as this: the more powerful their magic got, the more they stayed at home. They had all of one "epic" quest to hunt down the dwarves (who really didn't live all that far away; no more than 200-300 miles, I think), and then, nothing. I think later the writers realized how silly that was, and added a couple of flying cities that went further afield (two were in the Sea of Falling Stars near Sembia when the Fall happened, and one was in the Unapproachable East, which flipped and became a mountain).


As for the history of the Realms, in general, I think that it suffers from being far too sparse. Recent years have tons of events documented in them (including all the adventure modules if you really want to go into things). But the past must have also had a ton of stuff - obviously this stuff was not important to the long term plot - but there must have been low level interaction between Netheril and other countries all the time it existed.


Yup. Its sphere of influence by the Silver Age should have spanned much of the continent, diplomatically & via trade. Doesn't mean it conquered all those distant lands, but I could see them having trade & diplomacy with Calimshan; hell, at their respective heights, I don't think there was much more than 200 miles separating them.
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Re: Does (or did) Netheril's Isolation work?

Postby Big Mac » Tue Jul 22, 2008 11:24 am

I would love to see someone like Candlekeep put together a 3rd edition Arcane Age Campaign Setting and add in details to the history of Netheril.

There must, for example be lots of small countries or communites that vanished. They could have been trading partners with Netheril.

They could even have had contact with far-away areas like Maztica. If they explored wildspace they should have explored their own planet.
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Re: Does (or did) Netheril's Isolation work?

Postby night_druid » Tue Jul 22, 2008 1:07 pm

Big Mac wrote:I would love to see someone like Candlekeep put together a 3rd edition Arcane Age Campaign Setting and add in details to the history of Netheril.

There must, for example be lots of small countries or communites that vanished. They could have been trading partners with Netheril.

They could even have had contact with far-away areas like Maztica. If they explored wildspace they should have explored their own planet.


Frankly, I'd love to have seen an Arcane Age Campaign Setting, period. It kinda seemed a more interesting time period (especially compared to the Ruined Realms we have today). AD&D would have been preferrable (to me :geek: ) but so long as the amount of non-rules stuff was comperable to the FRCS, I'd have been happy. Seems the Arcane Age was just a whole line of products waiting to be written, if only TSR/WotC had taken the plunge ;)
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Re: Does (or did) Netheril's Isolation work?

Postby Big Mac » Tue Jul 22, 2008 2:26 pm

night_druid wrote:Frankly, I'd love to have seen an Arcane Age Campaign Setting, period. It kinda seemed a more interesting time period (especially compared to the Ruined Realms we have today). AD&D would have been preferrable (to me :geek: ) but so long as the amount of non-rules stuff was comperable to the FRCS, I'd have been happy. Seems the Arcane Age was just a whole line of products waiting to be written, if only TSR/WotC had taken the plunge ;)


If you want AD&D then the original stuff already works. Couldn't you extrapolate from that?

I do wish there was an official Arcane Age (or even an unofficial Arcane Age) website where fan material could be found.
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Re: Does (or did) Netheril's Isolation work?

Postby night_druid » Tue Jul 22, 2008 2:54 pm

Big Mac wrote:If you want AD&D then the original stuff already works. Couldn't you extrapolate from that?


Heh, you saying 3e takes more work than AD&D? ;)


I do wish there was an official Arcane Age (or even an unofficial Arcane Age) website where fan material could be found.


Yeah, but a nice huge book would be neat, too. :)
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Re: Does (or did) Netheril's Isolation work?

Postby Big Mac » Wed Aug 06, 2008 2:22 am

night_druid wrote:
Big Mac wrote:If you want AD&D then the original stuff already works. Couldn't you extrapolate from that?


Heh, you saying 3e takes more work than AD&D? ;)


Well, I wasn't saying it...but it is true. 2nd edition tends to get GMs to wing it, whereas 3rd edition tends to involve more preparation and less seat of the pants stuff. And of course in 3rd edition you have enough information to create characters from any monster that has a LA. So 3rd edition is more work, but in some ways it gives more possibilities to a SJ GM.

What I was actually getting at, was that sometimes stuff you write seems to be aimed more at 2nd edition. So if you wanted a 2nd edition Arcane Age Campaign Setting it already exists (but just doesn't exist in enough detail).

If you want a 3rd edition Arcane Age Campaign Setting (which is what I would love to see) then you would have to do all the conversion stuff. I'd love to see an alternative epic magic system that gave 3rd edition D&D an Arcane Age feel. I'd love to have creation rules for artifacts. And from a SJ point of view, I'd love to have people churn out helms with ease. It would give magic using cultures a totally different feel.

night_druid wrote:
Big Mac wrote:I do wish there was an official Arcane Age (or even an unofficial Arcane Age) website where fan material could be found.


Yeah, but a nice huge book would be neat, too. :)


Can we have both? :D

The more I think about this, the more I think that an Arcane Age Campaign Setting is the way for WotC to turn 4th Edition around. Many people hate the changes of the Spellplague, but a 4th edition Arcane Age could launch new ideas under the guise of old things that have since vanished. Dead gods (including gods dead in 3rd edition) could be revived and given 4th edition stats and someone like Ed Greenwood could oversee the project to make sure it was as true to the original concept as possible.
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