Netheril circa 1479 DR
Geographical information
Area Anauroch, North Faerûn
Societal information
Races Humans[1]

Inhabitants of Netheril
Locations in Netheril
Organizations in Netheril
Settlements in Netheril

The magocracy of Netheril was one of the ancient human empires of Faerûn. Netheril was also the home of the most powerful wizard who ever walked on Faerun, Karsus. The Netherese also created powerful artifacts known as mythallars, which allow mundane objects to become magical, dramatically changing the face of the Netheril Empire (or better said the face of the upper side of the empire, as Netheril eventually became twofold: the "have", High Netherese, and the "have not", low Netherese).[2]

Overview Edit

While the most known calendar of the realms is Dale Reckoning, there exists a far older measure of achievement, at least by humans: the Neth. A group of small farming villages that banded together for protection led to an empire of human wizards, cities that floated across the sky and a terrible, terrible arrogance that nearly stripped Toril of its magic forever.[citation needed]

It can be said that the empire of Netheril is the oldest surviving human empire, and as such it's not surprising that it has passed through several different phases. The First Age was the foundering and settling of the Netheril region by humans, and of their contact with elves who taught them magic. This was followed by the Nether Age, so called for the Nether Scrolls that the Netherese people used to rapidly increase their knowledge of magic. Undoubtedly the peak of their power, this was a time when the Netherese were breaking new ground, both in advances of magical pursuits but also exploration into other planes and even across crystal spheres. It is during this age that Karsus lived, a wizard of immense power that sought to grab the power of the gods. Indeed, it is his folly that led to the next age, the Fall of the Empire. Broken and shattered, it took the Netherese people a while to regroup, but eventually came the most recent age, the Re-Emergence of the Empire. [citation needed]

The Fall of the Empire Edit

Netheril was destroyed by Karsus's Folly: an attempt to steal the power of Mystryl, goddess of magic. She sacrificed herself and was replaced by Mystra in a last ditch effort to save Faerûn. When this happened all magic ceased to exist for a time. Since Netherese cities floated above the surface, when magic ceased to exist there was nothing to hold the cities up. Netheril was almost completely obliterated in one fell swoop. The remnants of Netheril were then targeted by the Phaerimm, who would have destroyed them and the rest of Faerûn had it not been for the intervention of the Sharn.[citation needed]

Re-Emergence of the Empire Edit

Three Netherese successor states (Asram, Anauria, and Hlondath) survived for a while, but all were eventually destroyed by the encroaching desert. Some Netherese culture persisted in the country of Halruaa for a while, in the Shining South, which was founded by Raumark, a Netherese wizard who led a group of refugees south after foreseeing the destruction of the empire. However, the nation of Halruaa was almost completely wiped out during the Spellplague, and the area now is one of the largest remaining areas of spellplague.[citation needed]

Additionally, just before the time of Karsus's Folly one of the floating Netherese cities moved to the shadow plane, the plane that became the Shadowfell. This city is the Shade Enclave. During their time in the shadow plane many of the denizens were affected by their environment and became Shades. The Shade Enclave returned to Faerun with the help of the Evereskan elf Galaeron Nihmedu shortly before the Spellplague struck.[citation needed]


Main article: History of Netheril

The history of Netheril is one of great advances in the arcane arts and great hubris on behalf of the civilization's greatest archmages. Thanks to excellently preserved Netherese records, written accounts from the 'Netherese Diaspora', and the fact that more than a few Netherese citizens live to this day (through undeath (eg. Ioulaum) or other means (eg. the inhabitants of Thultanthar), historians have a comprehensive knowledge of Netheril's history.[citation needed]

The First Age Edit

At the time, Netheril was a paradise of rivers, forests, lakes and plains. Netheril was unsurprisingly little more than a group of villages (Fenwick, Gers, Gilan, Gustaf, Moran, Nauseef and Janick) along one such lake. Soon after this alliance was named Netheril (after Nether the Elder who is assumed to be the leader) the nation proceeded to remove the threats close by. Seeking to widen its scope of both power and land it began expanding. This eventually lead the Eaerlanni elves to approach the humans. The elves taught the humans of this new alliance magic, and with talent unseen before (possibly because of the shorter human life span) the humans learned arcane spells with a fervor. Every denizen of Netheril was taught the very basic of spellcasting. Even average maids knew cantrips to make the broom sweep the floor. Those who excelled at the arts of magic became known as Arcanists, a rapidly rising political faction that was second only to the nobility of the nation.[3]

The Nether Age Edit

The Nether Age began when the Nether Scrolls were discovered. The scrolls provided a huge leap in Netherese Spellcraft. The name of the person who discovered these scrolls is unknown, and is known today only as "The Finder." The scrolls were found west of the Far Horns Forest by the arcanists of Seventon and Zenith.[4]

It was during this age that Congenio Ioun, in an unprecedented feat of skill, created his first magic item at the age of 33, Ioun stone.[5]

The Mythallar Era Edit

The Mythallar Era began with the birth of one of Netheril's greatest arcanists, Ioulaum. In -3095 DR, half of the Nether Scrolls-one complete set-were stolen by Cormanthyrian elves, and a rock gnome. The rock gnome took a peek at a nether scroll, giving him and the gnome community knowledge of Illusions.[4]

In -3014 DR Ioulaum proved his worth with the invention of the first mythallar. It was soon found by Ioulaum that items known as quasi-magical items can be powered by a mythallar in place of the Weave. It was in -2993 DR that Ioulaum created the first floating city, Xinlenal, kept afloat by the spell Proctiv's move mountain.[6]

The Silver Age Edit

The Silver Age began with the discovery of Dekanter in -2758 DR, a mine that provided Netheril with mineral wealth for a thousand years. During the push to discover the mines, small colonies and outposts were set up in what is now the Savage Frontier. The Netherese created several quasi-magical items during this time.[7]

Within time the Netherese archwizards began to feel cramped in their floating cities, leading to ideas of expansion in the Savage Frontier. The idea to expansion westward was fueled by Terraseer, a mysterious oracle who discovered the Old Owl Well in -2368 DR.[8]

The Golden AgeEdit

The Golden Age began with the birth of Jeriah the Chronomancer (known simply as 'Chronomancer' by Netheril) in -2207 DR. During this time, Netheril began lifting one enclave into the sky per year. Soon there were dozens of enclaves riding the air currents or orbiting patterns around the loosely defined borders of Netheril. Jeriah the Chronomancer died from a wound by defending Illusk from an orc horde in -2095 DR.[8]

The Age of Discovery Edit

The Age of Discovery began in -1205 DR with the discovery of the chardalyns. With this discovery the Netherese began to experiment with gem magic for about another 500 years.[9]

The Netherese archwizards ventured into Realmspace by using spelljammers, or flying ships. In -1064 DR the Netherese spelljammers ran across the illithids, who attacked the Netherese spelljammers on sight, making trade impossible. The fear generated ended spelljamming about one thousand years later when it proved to be unprofitable.[9]

The Shadowed Age Edit

The Shadowed Age began with the birth of Karsus in -696 DR. Karsus was the arcanist of his time, mastering spellcraft almost inherently. The great archwizard, Ioulaum, disappeared[10], fleeing to a lair set up in the Underdark. By the end of this age, the phaerimm had become Netheril's most pressing problem leading to Karsus's Folly in -339 DR.[9]

The FallEdit

Main article: Karsus's Folly
The fall of Netheril - by Sam Wood

The fall of Netheril - by Sam Wood

While Netheril's flying cities flourished in the sky, magical residue seeped into the earth below and became an affliction for a race of subterranean dwelling creatures called the Phaerimm. Eventually, the Phaerimm grew tired of their torment and began to retaliate. They cast spells which drained life and magic from the earth and the floating cities of Netheril, creating barren wastelands where there once were lush fields and areas of Wild Magic. As magic began to go uncontrollably awry, many of the Netherese arch-mages fled in search of lands where their magic would not go wrong, including Ioulaum, the wizard who first discovered the Mythallar and made the first floating city. The disappearance of the arch-mages caused panic, and people began to flee the land.[11]

In an attempt to save his own floating city, or enclave, a young wizard prodigy named Karsus decided to cast a spell he had been researching for decades. In casting the spell, Karsus created a link between himself and the goddess of magic, Mystryl, and stole her divinity and power. At that very moment Karsus swelled with incredible knowledge of everything, including his mistake. The war between the Phaerimm and the Netherese was constantly damaging the Weave, which Mystryl was the only one capable of constantly repairing. To stop Karsus from completely destroying the Weave, Mystryl severed her connection with Karsus, and in the process destroyed herself. In the backlash from being disconnected from Mystryl, Karsus was permanently petrified and all magic around the world temporarily went null, causing the Netherese floating cities to plummet to the earth. The life draining magic of the Phaerim continued and the lands of the Empire eventually became the Anauroch Desert. Eventually all trace of the Netherese Empire was forgotten and buried under the sands.[12]

Almost immediately after Mystryl died, she was reincarnated as Mystra, the goddess of magic who retained her position until the Time of Troubles. Fortunately, she was able to save three of the falling Netherese cities: Anauria, Asram, and Hlondath. Two other cities, the Thultanthar (still in existence) and Opus (currently in the outer planes), were saved by Shar and Selûne respectively.[12]

Almost all of the surviving Netherese forsook magic completely. The three cities saved by Mystra were later either destroyed or abandoned.[12]

Survivor StatesEdit

The lands directly south of Netheril became the home of the Anaurians, who became renowned for creating fine swords and carrying on the magical legacy of Netheril. The lack of high-level magics and the mythallars severely hampered their efforts, however, and the kingdom was finally destroyed in a bloody and costly battle against an orc horde in 450 DR.[5]
No sooner had Asram recovered from the Fall then it was suddenly struck by a horrendous plague sent by Talona that claimed all the Asramans in -33 DR.[13] In the spring months that led up to what many call a repeat of the Dark Disaster, cattle were found dead in the fields and crops withered and died, sometimes overnight. During the first week of Eleasius, however, the plague struck the entire nation. Few survived.[14]
The longest-lived of the survivor-states, Hlondathans immediately began blaming others for the fall of Netheril‚ discounting the news that Karsus himself had caused the destruction of Netheril. Their favorite target for such blame were the elves of Cormanthyr, whom they saw as “accomplices of the phaerimm.” They established good relations with the dwarves of Tethyamar, but otherwise concentrated on logging the nearby forest and herding cattle across the plains.[14]
In 199 DR, the Hlondathans finally incited the Cormanthyr elves into a war. In what became known as the Crown Against Scepter Wars, the elves and Hlondath exchanged a series of blows back and forth. Time after time, Myth Drannor crushed Hlondathan forces, and the wars served only to weaken Hlondath.[14]
The approach of the Anauroch slowly consumed fields and fertile plains, further scattering the survivors.[14]

The reemergence of the Shade EnclaveEdit



When Thultanthar (City of Shade or the Shade Enclave) began to plummet as the world's magic was temporarily disrupted, it was saved by Shar and pulled into the Shadow Plane for a long time, but returned to the Prime Material Plane in the year 1372 DR. Since returning, they live on the north-western side of the Shadow Sea in the Anauroch Desert where they rule the Empire of Shadows. The inhabitants of the City of Shade often torture any Netherese that might be surviving in the area purely for the chance to glean information from them, but otherwise consider any Netherese weak.[citation needed]

The MythallarsEdit

Created by Ioulaum in -3014 DR, this 150ft (46m) crystal orb draws power directly from Mystryl's Weave. Because of Mystra's Ban, the mythallar can't draw upon the Weave to power quasimagical items or the creation of floating enclaves.[citation needed]

The EnclavesEdit


Demesnes, landbound enclaves with mythallars each ruled by an archwizard not yet with a floating enclave, were the backbone of Netheril.[citation needed]

The Mines of Dekanter produced large quantities of gold, iron, mercury, silver, and platinum to meet the arcanists' demands. Since the fall of Netheril, it has been full of goblins and gargoyles although it still contains a lot of gold, iron, mercury, and silver there. Rasilith was the capital city of Thaeravel, the Land of Alabaster Towers, before the Netherese overran the place armed with newfound knowledge from the Nether Scrolls. Since the fall of Netheril it is half buried in the Quarter of Emptiness ruled by the phaerimm.[citation needed]


Although the Shadow Weave is Shar's, in 1385 DR, when Cyric and Shar fought Mystra both the Weave and the Shadow Weave failed, causing all mythallars, mythals, and magic itself to either fail or act erratically.[citation needed]

Netheril in 1479 DREdit

The Empire of Netheril stretches from the edge of the High Ice south to the Farsea Swamp, occupying the former desert land of Anauroch. Rivers now flow from the melting glaciers, rain falls, temperatures are moderate, and in some places vegetation is particularly lush. Netheril is a land reborn, despite its cruel overlords.[citation needed]

The Twelve Princes rule Netheril from their capital city of Shade Enclave (known also as Shade and, formerly, Thultanthar), the lone city of old that escaped ancient Netheril’s collapse. These incalculably powerful mages threaten all of Faerûn’s nations. A floating enclave, tentatively identified as the resurrected city Sakkors, is sometimes sighted hanging over Sembia in the dead of night. Stories of bloodshed and heartache follow in Sakkors’ wake.

Sembia is virtually a vassal state for Netheril. However, trade and diplomacy from this country have become important to the Empire's economy. Due to this, Netheril allows Sembia a limited amount of autonomy.

Although the Spellplague was caused by Shar, millenia of indoctrination by Shar and her church have enabled Netheril's government to rationalize the Spellplague being the fault of the late goddess Mystra. Another former Netherese deity, Amaunator, returned less than a century ago yet Netheril also reviles this deity again due to Shar's indoctrination.

The mages of Netheril are conducting experiments with the goal of restoring the Shadow Weave and, in turn, some of Shar's previous influence over the Art. [15]


  1. Paul Jaquays (1988). The Savage Frontier, p. 3. TSR, IncISBN 0-88038-593-6.
  2. Brian R. James and Ed Greenwood (September, 2007). The Grand History of the Realms, p. 29. Wizards of the CoastISBN 978-0-7869-4731-7.
  3. slade, James Butler (November 1996). Netheril: Empire of Magic (The Winds of Netheril), p. 5. TSR, Inc.ISBN 0-7869-0437-2.
  4. 4.0 4.1 slade, James Butler (November 1996). Netheril: Empire of Magic (The Winds of Netheril), p. 5. TSR, Inc.ISBN 0-7869-0437-2.
  5. 5.0 5.1 slade, James Butler (November 1996). Netheril: Empire of Magic (The Winds of Netheril), p. 6. TSR, Inc.ISBN 0-7869-0437-2.
  6. slade, James Butler (November 1996). Netheril: Empire of Magic (The Winds of Netheril), p. 6-7. TSR, Inc.ISBN 0-7869-0437-2.
  7. slade, James Butler (November 1996). Netheril: Empire of Magic (The Winds of Netheril), p. 7. TSR, Inc.ISBN 0-7869-0437-2.
  8. 8.0 8.1 slade, James Butler (November 1996). Netheril: Empire of Magic (The Winds of Netheril), p. 8. TSR, Inc.ISBN 0-7869-0437-2.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 slade, James Butler (November 1996). Netheril: Empire of Magic (The Winds of Netheril), p. 9. TSR, Inc.ISBN 0-7869-0437-2.
  10. Warning: book within boxed set not specified for Netheril: Empire of Magic
  11. slade, James Butler (November 1996). Netheril: Empire of Magic (The Winds of Netheril), p. 11-12. TSR, Inc.ISBN 0-7869-0437-2.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 slade, James Butler (November 1996). Netheril: Empire of Magic (The Winds of Netheril), p. 12. TSR, Inc.ISBN 0-7869-0437-2.
  13. Richard Baker, Ed Bonny, Travis Stout (February 2005). Lost Empires of Faerûn, p. 99. Wizards of the CoastISBN 0-7869-3654-1.
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 slade, James Butler (November 1996). Netheril: Empire of Magic (The Winds of Netheril), p. 117. TSR, Inc.ISBN 0-7869-0437-2.
  15. Bruce R. Cordell, Ed Greenwood, Chris Sims (August 2008). Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide, p. 164. Wizards of the CoastISBN 978-0-7869-4924-3.

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