Moonshae Isles - D&D 5e
Moonshae Isles - Overview
Cloaked in mists, the rocky cliffs of the Moonshae Isles rise high above the surf of the Sea of Swords, their tops clothed in ancient forests. The Moonshaes lie due west from Mintarn- and Baldur’s Gate, and Candlekeep, and even Arnn, for that matter: this great stretch of islands is nearly half as long as the Sword Coast, enclosing the Sea of Moonshae.
On the southern isles live the Ffolk, humans ruled by their High King, Derid Kendrick, from the fortress of Caer Callidyr on Alaron. The Ffolk worship a goddess they call the Earthmother; her druids gather in sacred groves on the islands. Some of these groves hold moonwells, magical pools that the druids say the goddess uses as her windows onto the world. The northern isles are the territory of the Northlanders,
who spread south from Ruathym to settle here, and have fought occasional wars with the Ffolk in the centuries that the two groups have uneasily shared the islands.
The largest and most populous isle of the Moonshaes is Alaron. The Ffolk stronghold of Caer Callidyr overlooks a bay south of the Fairheight Mountains, at the northern edge of Dorna ll Forest. The forest is a perilous place, filled with goblins, worgs, and their ilk. The deeper one goes, the more otherworldly the woods become, with fey creatures leading travelers astray- or to their doom. Even the High King’s rangers walk the forest with care.
Rumor has it the Rookoath dwarves of the Fairheight range – bolstered by Clan Rustfire of the isle of Gwynneth, and adventurers out of Callidyr – have won victories against the local ores and their shadow dragon master. High King Derid hopes to forge an alliance with the dwarves, but thus far they have spurned the aid of the crown.
Meanwhile, Kythyss, a port town on the Great South Head of Alaron, has been hiring mercenaries to guard caravans running north to Callidyr. Caravan masters there are always looking for help, if you’re willing to brave the road for a while.
Over the past century, the isle of Gwynneth has become ever more fey and mysterious, home to the elven realm of Sarifal, under the rule of High Lady Ordalf. Sarifal shares the island with the reclusive mountain kingdom of Synnoria, the home of the Llewyr elves, plus a few small shield dwarf settlements, and the ruins of Caer Corwell, the former Ffolk settlement on Gwynneth.
High King Derid wants to reclaim the old citadel and rebuild it as an embassy, but has yet to secure Lady Ordalf’s consent to do so. Gwynneth is also home to Myrloch Vale, a lush valley
nestled in the mountains with the shimmering waters of the Myrloch to the south. Druid circles are active in the Vale, allied with the elves and the fey creatures of this area.
In the north of the island, High Lady Ordalf’s son, Prince Araithe, leads the struggle against the darker fey of the forest of Winterglen. The prince is a pragmatist willing to accept aid in fending off his people’s foes, and so has been known to allow adventuring companies to cross the Strait of Alaron and land on Gwynneth, if they pledge to aid the cause.
The Korinn Archipelago is dozens of rocky, rainy, and windswept islands populated mostly by Northlanders, who herd sheep, fish the nearby waters, and occasionally go raiding or pirating. Dozens of separate settlements are their own mini-kingdoms with little that unifies them besides a shared Northlander culture.
There’s no safe harbor for outsiders; you just have no idea what you are dealing with. For other Northlanders, the settlement of Westhaven on Pandira serves as a neutral ground where Northlanders of all stripes who ply the waters of the Sea of Swords might come to port and wait out a storm or resupply.
To the west of Gwynneth, Moray is a land at war with itself. The embattled Ffolk of Caer Moray struggle to keep the port town open so that Dynnegall, farther inland, can receive vital goods and supplies.
These supplies sometimes include reinforcements to deal with the threats of the island, which are many and varied: the Black Blood tribe of Malar-worshiping werefolk, the giants of the Trollclaw Range in the north, and the ogres and ores of the Orcskill Mountains in the south.
The Ffolk of Moray are loyal to the High King. They hope for a return to a unified Moonshaes under the Kendrick banner and are determined to hold on long enough to see it.
North of Moray lies Norland, the stronghold of the Northlanders of the Isles. Much has happened among the Noris of late, weakening their grip on the Moonshaes, but many fear High King Kendrick lacks power to capitalize on it.
In recent years, a Northlander woman calling herself the Storm Maiden arose as a battle leader among them, which was unusual because Northlanders don’t allow women to raid or fish. Said to blessed by both Valkur and Umberlee at her birth, the Storm Maiden gathered great numbers of Noris to her banner, and it seemed she might contest the king for control of Norland. However, a decade ago, she seemed to be consumed by the power of Umberlee, and she drove her followers on a mad quest to control the Sea of Swords. When at last she was defeated at sea, she and her ship vanished into the waves. She is known to be unable to drown, and many people fear her return.
Rault the Wise, king of the Noris, lost both his eldery son Olfgaut and grandson in battles against the Storm Maiden, leaving succession in question. He has a granddaughter of great spirit and wisdom, but in the male-dominated Northlander society- and so soon after the disastrous rise to power of the Storm Maiden- it is unthinkable that rule should fall to her.
Oman’s Isle was just after the Moonshaes had unified, and it was a peaceful, lovely place. It had sheep, farms, and fishing boats, and plenty of folk willing to trade the gold from their mines for goods from the mainland or other islands. Now, Oman’s Isle is a blasted place is controlled by giants, especially fomorians that hurl huge stones at any ship that comes too near the coast. If you do make it to shore, bring friends, and plenty of weapons-it’s a dangerous place, but might be worth the risk. I can scarcely imagine the reward Jarl Rault or High King Derid would offer to the adventurers who reclaimed the ruins of Iron Keep, once home to the isle’s rulers.
The little isle of Snowdown, south of Alaron, is a possession of Amn, where Lady Erliza rules from Caer Westphal. She is the second of her name, noted for her striking resemblance to her great-grandmother, the first Amnian ruler of the isle.
Since taking possession of the place, Snowdown’s occupiers have cut down its woods, stripped its mines, and choked its waterways with the refuse of the overworked Ffolk under their rule. Lady Erliza and her soldiers have ruthlessly put down several rebellions, and the Ffolk here refer to her as “Bloody Erliza.” Some Amnians believe the isle is becoming more trouble to hold on to than its diminishing exports are worth, and further uprisings are almost certainly brewing amongst the Ffolk, quietly supported by Alaron.