Excerpts 05/02/2003

Unapproachable East
By Richard Baker, Matt Forbeck, and Sean K Reynolds


Across the wide lands of Faerûn, bards and travelers tell strange tales of the Unapproachable East, a distant land of proud barbarians, forest-grown ruins, and dreadful wizardry. It is a land of ancient mysteries and endless strife, a swirling maelstrom of exotic beauty and hell-spawned peril, of tribes who value freedom more than their lives and of slaves who groan under the worst kind of sorcerous oppression. It is a crossroads and a battleground where today struggles to claw itself free of the half-remembered past, and East meets West. So fantastic is the reputation of this region in western Faerûn that in the taverns and taprooms of a dozen western cities, skeptics greet an unlikely tale or fanciful fable with a snort and mutter, "In the East, perhaps!"

The story of the Unapproachable East is the story of ancient empires, terrible magic, and the clash of human races and realms. Unlike the lands of the west, where elven and dwarven realms of great antiquity existed to shield the young human kingdoms from monstrous threats, few nonhuman realms have left their mark upon the lands of the east. Instead, ancient human realms such as old Narfell, Raumathar, and the earlier dynasties of Mulhorand and Unther have battled over these lands for almost two thousand years, while the newer powers of Thay, the Tuigans, and the cities of the Easting Reach continue to vie for supremacy. The battles of old were fought with mighty magic and great armies, but the struggle today is more often joined with deceit, guile, and coin.

So what, precisely, is the Unapproachable East? At the simplest level, it is a vast area encompassing the lands between the Easting Reach and the Sunrise Mountains, from the Wizards' Reach (the southern coasts of Aglarond's peninsula) to the Icerim Mountains of the frozen north, hard on the boundaries of the Great Glacier. More than half a million square miles of territory falls within its bounds, divided between five principal lands: Aglarond, Thay, Thesk, the Great Dale, and Rashemen (Narfell is counted as part of both the Unapproachable East and the Cold Lands of Damara and Vaasa). Dozens of independent cities, towns, and strongholds lie scattered in the lands between the recognized countries, although any settlement in the Great Dale or Thesk could be considered "independent" too, as those lands lack any true central government or authority.

Aglarond is renowned as the realm of the Simbul, a mighty sorcerer-queen who has ruled the land for generations. The Yuirwood, an ancient forest that once sheltered a powerful fey realm of mysterious elves, blankets most of the realm, sheltering its coastal cities from Thayan expansion. Unexplored ruins filled with deadly perils and wondrous magic lie beneath the dense woods.

East of Aglarond lies the mighty realm of Thay, a populous land enslaved by the arrogant and ambitious magocracy of the Red Wizards. Few invaders have ever overcome the great escarpments and difficult mountains girding the Plateau of Thay, and the secretive and suspicious Red Wizards raise barriers just as formidable to discourage travelers from venturing into their lands. From their strongholds and estates in Thay, the Red Wizards plot the mercantile and military domination of all the Unapproachable East -- and after that, the world.

West of Thay, in the thief-ruled city of Telflamm, the trade road known as the Golden Way begins. For thousands of miles it wends its way eastward, joining Faerûn to the fabulous lands of Kara-Tur. Along this road lie the merchant towns that comprise the realm of Thesk, the crossroads of the Unapproachable East. A dozen years ago the mighty Tuigan horde attacked Thesk after the Thayans agreed to let them pass and the Rashemi deflected their course westward. A great alliance of western powers halted the Tuigans near Phsant, but Thesk is still recovering from the devastation of the war while struggling to accommodate thousands of Shou immigrants who fled their far eastern homeland in advance of the Tuigan horde.

North of Thesk lies a thinly settled land sandwiched between two of Faerûn's greatest forests. The Great Dale is a long, fertile vale running three hundred miles east from the town of Uthmere, dividing the Forest of Lethyr from the dark and deadly Rawlinswood. Governed by a council of druids, the independent clanholds of the Great Dale stand amid the ancient ruins of old Narfell, a demon-haunted realm whose dark legacy still threatens the lands about even a thousand years after its destruction.

East of the Great Dale, across the bitter Lake of Tears, lies the most remote land of the Unapproachable East, Rashemen. Long the mortal enemy of Thay, Rashemen is in its own way as unwelcoming of strangers as the realm of the Red Wizards. Here the famous Witches of Rashemen guard secrets of magical lore and watch vigilantly for the next manifestation of Thay's ambitions.

And so the East is really five different lands, each with its own perils and mysteries, villains and dangers. All are bound together by the accident of geography and the memory of ancient empires, but each conceals its own particular secrets and threats. For characters from other parts of Faerûn, they are inscrutable, unknown, and alluring, a place to venture where few westerners have traveled and explore mysteries few outsiders have penetrated. For the Aglarondans, the Rashemi, and other folk native to the Unapproachable East, these lands are less mysterious, but still filled with ancient perils and deadly, never-ending strife.

How to Use this Book in Your Campaign

This book gives you everything that you need to explore the Unapproachable East in your own Forgotten Realms campaign. The region makes a great destination for characters to explore, and this book provides all the detail you'll need for that purpose. The area is also a good place to set a distinctive and memorable campaign built around a party of characters native to the East.

One: Races of the East: This chapter introduces a number of new races for characters native to the Unapproachable East, including the eldritch ghost elves, the fierce taers, the tormented hagspawn, the contemplative spirit folk, and the resolute volodnis.

Two: Prestige Classes:The Unapproachable East is home to orders of mysterious spellcasters, students of forbidden lore, and brotherhoods of berserkers. This chapter describes a number of prestige classes common to the region.

Three: Skills and Feats: New regional feats and a number of general feats useful for characters native to the East can be found in this chapter.

Four: Magic and Spells of the East: The Red Wizards of Thay are renowned as the creators of new and deadly magics, but many other traditions of magic exist in the Unapproachable East. This chapter presents a number of new uses for magic and new spells.

Five: Magic Items of the East: The Red Wizards and the vremyonni of Rashemen are also renowned as crafters of magic items. This chapter presents a number of items forged by the people of the East.

Six: Monsters of the Unapproachable East: This chapter presents a number of monsters native to the East, or particularly common in the nearby lands, including the shapechanging uthraki, the fearsome bheur hag, the ice troll, and the plague bringer.

Seven: Adventuring in the East: In this chapter you'll find useful information on running adventures in the Unapproachable East, including encounter charts and descriptions of some of the more notorious dungeons in the vicinity.

Eight: Aglarond: This chapter describes the realm of the Simbul, detailing Aglarond's history, people, cities, and notable sites.

Nine: The Great Dale: This chapter explores the Great Dale, including the great forests that flank it, the Forest of Lethyr and the Rawlinswood.

Ten: Rashemen: The Witches of Rashemen and their mysterious land are described in this chapter, including the vast reaches of the North Country.

Eleven: Thay: The realm of the Red Wizards is covered in this chapter, including its history, people, government, and sites of interest.

Twelve: Thesk: This chapter describes the crossroads of the Unapproachable East, Thesk.

Thirteen: Border Areas: Many realms and features of interest surround the Unapproachable East, including the Endless Waste, the Icerim Mountains, and the waters of the Sea of Fallen Stars.

What You Need to Play

This sourcebook assumes that you own the three core rulebooks of the Dungeons & Dragons game: the Player's Handbook, the Dungeon Master's Guide, and the Monster Manual. In addition, you will find the Forgotten RealmsCampaign Setting very helpful in making use of the characters and creatures in this book.

We also recommend the Monster Compendium: Monsters of Faerûn. A number of the creatures described in this sourcebook can be found there, as shown below. If you do not have Monsters of Faerûn, substitute the appropriate monster from the Monster Manual.

Aballin (gray ooze)
Abishai (devil, barbazu)
Alaghi (ogre with chaotic good alignment)
Banedead (ghoul)
Baneguard (ghast)
Banelar (dark naga)
Beast of Malar (fiendish dire tiger)
Chosen One (bugbear)
Crawling claw (Tiny skeleton)
Curst (vampire)
Darkenbeast (wight)
Deathkiss beholderkin (hydra, 12 heads)
Dragon, brown (white dragon)
Dragon, fang (green dragon)
Dragon, song (blue dragon)
Dragonkin (gargoyle)
Dwarf, arctic (dwarf with cold subtype)
Gibberling (goblin)
Green warder (treant)
Gulguthydra (Lernean hydra, 13 heads)
Hybsil (centaur)
Ice serpent (Large air elemental with cold subtype)
Leucrotta (fiendish dire wolf)
Meazel (bugbear Rog1)
Myrlochar (fiendish Large spider)
Night hunter (dire bat)
Nishruu (ghost)
Nyth (will-o'-wisp)
Peryton (fiendish giant eagle)
Shalarin (triton)
Sinister (fiendish dire bat)
Spectral panther (fiendish leopard)
Surface rothé (bison)
Tressym (celestial cat)
Unicorn, black (fiendish unicorn)
Werebat (werewolf)

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