A Company of Crows
The Spellplague is a malady that struck Realmspace on 29th Tarsakh, 1385 DR and was caused by Mystra’s assassination at the hands of Cyric and Shar. With the goddess’s death, the Weave, the universal structure of arcane forces, convulsed. It continued for a decade, leading to the Wailing Years, during which time arcane magic ceased to function and the planet of Toril was transformed.
Exerpt from a vision by the diviner Yaphyll
“The white queen is troubled but can’t say why. The black queen hates the white and gives the assassin a black coat. The assassin steals upon the white queen. She can’t see him gliding through the shadows. The sword screams. The white queen falls. Her city falls. Stones fall in the cavern to crush the soothsayer. The tree burns and thrashes in agony. Branches break. Branches twist and grow together…”
Excerpt from the journal of Arleenaya Kithmaer, First Magistrati of the House of the High One Ascendant, Year of Blue Fire
“Reaching out northwest from beyond the horizon’s rim, I beheld a sight which was at once horrifying as it was beautiful; a stormlike catastrophe rolling across the sky, which seemed to be ablaze with blue fire. Frozen in stupefying awe, I witnessed the cerulean thunderhead crash into the mighty Lhairghal, throwing pillars of azure fire skyward to snatch at Selûne’s calming light. Selûne, my gods! The surface of the moon, long presented to us mortals as a barren landscape of craters and lifeless valleys, now revealed to me majestic mountains and sprawling seas; itself alight with similar cobalt radiance. A nearby exclamation from the Magehound returned my attention earthward to witness a shimmering wall of sapphire flame racing down Mhair Pass. Five breaths longer and the storm would crash into the battlement upon which I stood with a handful of loomwardens. I recall hastily whispered prayers to Azuth, a moment of unqualified stillness, and then nothing.”
As dusk fell over the Shining South on the 29th day of Tarsakh in the Year of Blue Fire (1385 DR), a menacing storm began forming over the Mhair Jungles west of Halruaa. Beyond its massive size, the storm was particularly notable for the ribbons of blue flame that seemed to writhe and flow among its formations. In the mountains near Lhair in western Halruaa, dumbfounded priests watched in absolute silence, unable to comprehend the terrible events unfolding on the horizon. What the clerics of Azuth could not possibly fathom was that three score or more similar storms sprang up all across Toril; born instantly upon the assassination of Mystra in her heavenly dominion. Arleenaya Kithmaer and four nearby priests were teleported to safety by a quick-thinking magehound. The nation of Halruaa, however, would suffer horribly that ill-fated night. The three great mountain ranges that oft protected the nation from external invasion actually made it difficult for many Halruaans to escape the uncontrolled wild magic unleashed across the countryside. Halruaa today is best known as a magical wasteland; it is also the birthplace of the roving mercenary bands known as the Five Companies.
The cerulean storm and its aftereffects would become known in later days as the Spellplague. Despite its name, the Spellplague was no mere magical affliction. The Spellplague burned fiercest in its first year, but flareups and indirect repercussions continued for decades, irrevocably altering whole regions while leaving others completely unscathed. Whole countries vanished in earthquakes, fires, and windstorms, inexplicably replaced with peoples and lands from a world beyond our own. Even the starry constellations in the Sea of Night seemingly rearranged themselves in the heavens above. Scholars in later years would name this decade of chaos and upheaval the Wailing Years, or simply the Plague Years.
The storm began over the Mhair Jungle in Halruaa and quickly grew to a large size, blue flames visible in the sky. It laid waste to Halruaa due to the heavy wild magic activity in the area, and Sespech, the Golden Plains and the Nagalands are transformed into an unpredictable and surreal place, dubbed the Plaguewrought Lands. Virtually none of Faerûn was unaffected by the Spellplague and certain areas were eliminated entirely, while others were created anew. Thousands of mages were either destroyed or went insane due to the collapse of the Weave after Mystra’s death. In Cormyr, a third of the War Wizards were either killed or driven mad. Those who survived were forced to learn martial combat as a result of the disappearance of arcane magic.
The Wailing Years
1385 DR (Year of Blue Fire)
The Spellplague: An unthinkable catastrophe ensues when Cyric, aided and abetted by Shar, murders Mystra in Dweomerheart. The plane itself disintegrates at once, destroying Savras and sending the gods Azuth and Velsharoon reeling into the endless Astral Sea. Without Mystra to govern the Weave, magic bursts its bonds all across Toril and the surrounding planes and runs wild. In Faerûn, this event is known as the Spellplague. Thousands of mages are driven insane or destroyed, and the very substance of the world becomes mutable beneath veils of azure fire that dance across the skies by night or by day.
— Where once stood the realm of Sespech, the Golden Plains, and the Nagalands, the Spellplague reveals a surreal landscape breathtaking in its beauty, grandeur, and changeability. For the next century, active Spellplague cavorts on this territory called the Plaguewrought Lands, contorting terrain, natural law, and the flesh of any creature that dares enter.
— Cormyr is struck hard, but not so violently as many other nations. Roughly one third of all Wizards of War are slain, driven mad, or simply have gone missing in the year following Mystra’s death.
1386 DR (Year of the Halfling’s Lament)
A portion of Toril’s sibling world Abeir violently exchanges places with large sections of Chondath and western Chessenta. Displaced genasi from the Abeiran land of Shyr quickly set about creating a kingdom of their own.
— The former expanse of the Sea of Fallen Stars is altered when wide portions of the landscape collapse into the Underdark. When the sea level reaches its new equilibrium, the average drop in water level measured nearly 50 feet. The waters of the Vilhon Reach were similarly drained, uncovering several drowned ruins from ancient Jhaamdath.
1387 DR (Year of the Emerald Ermine)
The Emerald Enclave begins sending agents throughout the Vilhon Wilds to counter the effects of the Spellplague. As years became decades, their original mission is slowly perverted from one of respect for and guardianship of nature to a vain struggle against forces far beyond their control.
1388 DR (Year of the Tanarukka)
Bullywugs tribes from the Farsea Marshes begin harrying Zhentarim forces operating throughout the Tunlands, diminishing Black Network activities in the region.
— Some members of Cormyr’s remaining War Wizards, having lost access to the Art, begin cross-training with the Purple Dragons in swordplay and martial defense. In years to come these swordmages will prove invaluable against neighboring aggression in the region.
1389 DR (Year of the Forgiven Foes)
A strangely angular black monolith is sometimes visible breaking above the waves along Cormyr’s coast, never in the same place twice.
1390 DR (Year of the Walking Man)
Dowager Dragon Queen, Filfaeril Selazair Obarskyr, dies. Alusair attends the state funeral, argues briefly and privately with her nephew the king, and disappears altogether from Court. Rumors persist of her riding through the frontiers and borderlands, but no confirmed reports of her appearance exist following the burial of Filfaeril.
1391 DR (Year of the Wrathful Eye)
The human druid Zalaznar Crinios, transformed into a mighty treant for his service to nature, takes hold of the druid circle in
Cedarspoke. A lesser druid, able to take lion form and calling himself Firemane, rises to prominence in the same circle.
1392 DR (Year of the Scroll)
The Dragon Coast city of Pros petitions the Crown to become a vassal-state of Cormyr in order to protect it from the ravages of the Spellplague. Azoun V reluctantly accepts. By year’s end, Pros’ sister-town of Ilipur joins the Forest Kingdom as well. Unfortunately the receding waters of the Sea of Fallen Stars have spelled ruin for these small trading towns.
1393 DR (Year of the Ring)
Sembian investors begin buying up land in the southern Dales. Concerned, Azoun V issues a formal objection to the Dale’s Council in Archendale but the King’s emissary is rebuffed.
— Spellscarred beings and pilgrims hoping to obtain a spellscar begin journeying to the Plaguewrought Lands in large numbers. They are welcomed in Ormpetarr by the Order of Blue Fire.
1394 DR (Year of Deaths Unmourned)
The Grand Cabal of the Emerald Enclave begins attempting to stem the tide of spellscarred pilgrims that pass through Turmish.
— Years of straining with their conflicted Sembian and Cormyrean identities, and struggling against the rule of Netheril, culminates in the annexation of the border city of Daerlun into the Forest Kingdom.
1395 DR (Year of Silent Death)
Sakkors, the Netherese floating enclave not seen since the days before the Spellplague, makes a reappearance over Daerlun in the dead of night. The following morning civil unrest breaks out throughout the city. Azoun V sends elite swordmages to restore order in the city.
Impact of the SApellplague
•With the structure of magic out of balance, even with great effort many spells failed5 or produced unreliable results.
•Most permanent magical items, such as artifacts, were left intact at the end of the Spellplague and charged magical items were either destroyed, warped, or simply ceased to function.6 Items with dormant magical qualities, which were manually activated, were largely unaffected by the Spellplague.
•The Spellplague affected the landscape, making the ground rumble and heave up and down like the surface of the sea.Curtains of blue flame swept the landscape, reshaping the land by cutting crevasses or lifting and sculpting the plain into hills and ridges.
•Waves of azure fires appeared everywhere, killing whatever they touched.
•A surge in the use of technology, divine magic, and worship of the Deities of Knowledge and Invention.
•Political upheaval across the lands that resulted in many attempted coups, invasions, and uprisings. Especially against governments, and nations that had relied heavily on arcane magic for defense or controlling their population.
•The god Azuth was thrown from Mystra’s home plane, Dweomerheart, to the Nine Hells, where Asmodeus stole his divine essence and became a god.
•Parts of Abeir and Toril switched planes, swapping Maztica and the continent of Laerakond, which is now known as “Returned Abeir.”
•Mulhorand was completely destroyed, and the Mulhorandi pantheon disappeared. The land was later settled by Deep Imaskari and became the empire of High Imaskar.
•Unther was obliterated when a fragment of the dragonborn nation of Tymanchebar was transplanted from Abeir onto it, eventually becoming the realm of Tymanther.
•Chult became a large island.
•Halruaa was destroyed and turned into a land full of rampant spellplague.
•The Shaar became a wasteland called the Shaar Desolation.
•The region surrounding the Great Rift collapsed into the Underdark, creating an enormous cataract in the earth called the Underchasm.
•The halfling realm of Luiren was completely submerged underwater, becoming the Gulf of Luiren in the Great Sea.
•Lantan was hit by massive waves and flooded, killing all of its inhabitants.13 However the nation had resource camps in other locations, namely Chult, so not all Lantanese citizens and technology may have perished along with the actual island.
•The peninsula known as Var the Golden becomes a region of the Great Sea called Var the Drowned.
By 1395 DR, the majority of the effects of the Spellplague had come to an end and most arcane magic had returned to normal.
By 1479 DR areas of Toril still affected by the Spellplague are referred to as Plaguelands.