cormanthor_map.jpg
Cormanthor
Ruler None
Government None
Religions Vhaeraun
Corellon Larethian
Silvanus
Malar
Population Unknown
Races Drow, elves, half-elves, humans, halflings
Imports None
Exports Furs, magic items (from Myth Drannor), meat
Inhabited Yes
Organizations House Jaelre
Clan Auzkovyn
Eldreth Veluuthra

Cormanthor Forest

The forest of Cormanthor was long the place of the elven empire of Cormanthyr. It is a large, dense forest made up of a variety of species of plants, including some trees that can grow over 100' (30m) high deep in the woods. It is largely abandoned today because of the Retreat, when over 90% of the elven inhabitants left for Evermeet or other places in the west.

Cormanthor was once called Arcorar (the Great King Forest), and was an immense woodland realm stretching to the Dragon Coast to the west and south, and over the Dragon Reach to the east. Many old elven kingdoms were found there, including Jhyrennstar, Rystall Wood, and Uvaeren, along with some of the existing settlements of Elven Court and Semberholme. Arcorar was colonized after the Crown Wars, during what was called the Founding Time, when elves sought new domains to start their lives fresh after the bloody time in their past. After the unification of Cormanthyr and other events which sundered the woods into pieces (not to mention the growth of various kingdoms such as Cormyr and Sembia grew), the realm eventually became known as Cormanthor.

Cormanthor was home to the elven empire of Cormanthyr for nearly five thousand years, until the death of Coronal Eltargrim Irithyl in 661 DR initiated the Dusk, which led the decline of the realm until its collapse at the hands of the Trio Nefarious and the Army of Darkness in 714 DR. Since that time, Cormanthor has been a dangerous place to visit. For centuries to follow, the elves tried to contain the fiendish evil in Myth Drannor, where the fiends left over took hold of their power. The realm became scattered and divided, and ultimately in 1344 DR the elves began the Retreat, when more than 90% of their population abandoned Cormanthor's woods for other settlements in the west. The woods of Cormanthor became infested with drow after the Retreat, who moved into the abandoned habitats of their kin.

Many former settlements in Cormanthor have been abandoned completely or, in other cases, become absorbed into the Dalelands.

The Elven Court

Main Article: Elven Court

Elven Court was once the place where elves would seek advice and justice from their gods, the Seldarine. It was the seat of power for its own realm until it joined Cormanthyr during its founding, but remained a place of council for the Elves. After the fall of Myth Drannor, it became the seat of power for the Elves again during the Interim Years, but was subsequently abandoned with the Retreat. Nowadays, the surface drow of Cormanthor have made this area their seat of power.

Myth Drannor

Main article: Myth Drannor

The former capital, Myth Drannor, was once considered to be the most beautiful and largest of any of the cities in Faerûn. Unfortunately, the city was reduced to ruins for many centuries following the Weeping War and its subsequent infestation by fiends. The city was once protected by a magical mythal which shielded Myth Drannor from harm, though the mythal languished in disrepair. The ruined city remains a place of grave danger to this day.

Semberholme

Main Article: Semberholme

Semberholme occupies the forests around Lake Sember atop a hilly region in southwestern Cormanthyr. During the height of Cormanthyr, it was known as a place of refuge for women, children, and the sick of the elven lands, as well as a safe haven with hidden limestone caverns where elves could hide in the event of war or disaster. It remained largely hidden and secret throughout most of its history. Whatever occupants of this community remained in Faerûn have likely moved to Deepingdale.

Tangled Trees

Main Article: Tangled Trees

Tangled Trees was a wood elven settlement in the depths of the Cormanthor where the worship of Rillifane Rallathil was dominant. In 1372, Narlgathra the Red Wyrm rose up from the ruins of Myth Drannor, burning the village and killing nearly all of its inhabitants.

The Cormanthor is an enormous forest, and is made up of four “regions”: the Elven Court, Semberholme, the Tangled Vale (once known as the Emerald Vale) and the Encircling Wood. The first three of these four roughly correspond to the old elven communities of the same names, whereas the fourth is the stretch of woodlands surrounding the ruins of Myth Drannor. The forest is also often divided roughly according to tree types, with the following divisions:

The Rimwood

The rimwood is mainly made up of pines and is the least dense part of the forest. It is an area that runs around the edge of the forest; a ten or twenty mile border between the interior forest and the rest of the world. The soil here is not rich in minerals and quite sandy, so it lacks the variety of vegetation found deeper in the forest. The main bulk of the trees are blueridge and needleleaf pines but they are spread quite far apart, rarely touching one another, and don't often grow over 20' (6m). Because these pines drop slow-to-decompose needles on the forest floor, other foliage struggles to grow, except for softwood ferns. The hillsides can be home to willow, spruce and clumps of wiregrass. Although the lack of vegetation causes a lack of animal species in the rimwood, insects such as beetles, lice, mosquitoes, red ants and red leafhoppers thrive here.

The Midwood

The Midwood consists chiefly of white ash and beech. The trees here are packed densely enough to provide a mostly unbroken canopy. It separates the Rimwood from the Starwood and accounts for roughly half of the total area of the forest. There is a wide variety of other vegetation (in part thanks to the rich soil) including chestnuts and red maples in the hills north of Mistledale, honeysuckle and snapdragons in meadows and cherry trees and blue cedars in groves near Essemore, and ivory moss, moonfern, alders, hickories and bitternuts. Some of the weirder vegetation includes beetle palm, foxberry and roseneedle pine.

Starwood

The Starwood is made up mostly of giant oaks and maple and is the most dense part of the forest. The maples average a height of 200' (61m) and some of the oaks can reach 400' (122m). The soil here is rich enough to be almost black and is almost constantly moist. This produces a wide variety of undergrowth, and travelling through this can be difficult because of its density. Because of the high humidity, a variety of lichens and mosses grow here. The Starwood is rich in animal species such as deer, dire wolves, elk, emerald constrictors, finches, manticores, owls, porcupines, skunks, weasels and wood rats. There are also some unusual types of vegetation found here. These include medquat, chime oak, hinnies and zebra grass.

This area of the forest is split roughly into four, each with its own distinct tree types, but all areas of the Starwood contain tall oaks, maples and hickories. The central Starwood is west of the River Ashaba, and home to spruce and hemlock. The north Starwood is rich in cedars, and home of fabled Myth Drannor. The eastern Starwood contains the Elven Court and Tangled Vale (both former elven communities), and is home to firs and elms. Finally, the western Starwood has poplar and gum trees, and contains Semberholme.

Edgelands

The edgelands are patches between the areas of forest where magic can go haywire and small animals' diets will alter greatly. They are roughly circular areas no more than 60 miles (97km) in diameter and there are usually only two or three in the forest at any one time. They are caused by energy drifts from Myth Drannor and only occur between spring and autumn. They faintly radiate magic, cause spells to fail or go wrong, interfere with the powers of magic items, and cause unusual weather effects such as snow during summer.

Rivers

Cormanthor is home to two major rivers which provide water to its inhabitants: the Duathamper (or the Elvenflow), and the River Ashaba. The Duathamper runs along the southeastern border of the forest. The river is generally deep (more than 30' or 9m in most places) and wide, although it does become narrow and shallow enough in places to wade across. It has a large population of bass, catfish and trout. The Ashaba cuts the forest roughly in half, from Shadowdale in the Dalelands to Semberholme. The river is several hundred yards across, and deep, more than 30' (9m) in places. Its banks slope steeply in most places, and it is home to carp, walleye and bullhead, (the carp in particular can grow to a very large size – large enough to be a threat to a human-sized creature).

The forest is served year-round by a light rain, and the ground is usually moist, keeping humidity high. Winds cannot penetrate the thick dense canopy, so the forest is calm at ground level. At the height of the summer, the sun provides direct light for 16 hours a day. The long daylight period allows crops to grow quickly, and summer storms can come and go in just an hour. There are often patches of dense fog in the forest, especially near the northern Elvenflow. In the Starwood, this fog is thick and grey in colour, allowing visibility of only a few hundred feet.

Extremes

It is not unknown for climate extremes to strike the forest, and with them, their effects.

  • In 1350 DR a drought in the summer caused the rye grass to fail and the red deer to starve.
  • In the autumn of 1367 DR, the frost arrived early in the forest, causing the wild flowers and berries to die north of Highmoon. This left the leucrotta hungry, and they turned on the halflings in the nearby village of Casckel, eating them all.

The fyreflies in the forest can cause wild blazes, especially on clear summer nights, when they congregate in huge swarms. In the past, efforts have been made to control their population, including introducing giant wasps to eat their food supply (cornflowers), but they simply moved onto pigweed and quack grass instead. The elven mage Horquine attempted to breed a variety of azmyth that would eat the fyreflies, but they could not digest their abdomens (the source of the flames) and they had to spit them out, yielding a burst of flame.

Green Dragons

Although dragons are incredibly rare in the forest today, hundreds of years ago, green dragons were common. Because of the dragons' over-hunting of the centaurs, their numbers began to dwindle and the dragons began to blame one another for the lack of food. This triggered a civil war in which much damage was caused to the starwood and there are only a small number of green dragons remaining.