Population: 13,000 (99% Human – Netherese, 1% Human – Ulou)
Government: Elective Monarchy
Religion: Opus, Thul
The First Age of Netheril was a period of constant struggle for the fishermen of Seventon on the south eastern shore of the Narrow Sea. If not for the likes of Avrauntra and the Terraseer, who came to Seventon to aid these poor beleaguered people, it is possible that the glory of Netheril would never have existed. What follows are details of Netheril as it emerged into the First Age of its Empire and progressed towards the Nether Age.
- -3869 DR: The charismatic, 20 year old priest, Nether the Elder rises to rule the fishing village of Gerrhs.
- -3859 DR: The Alliance of Seventon is formed from the seven fishing villages combining for mutual protection.
- -3856 DR: Nether the Elder crowns himself King and renames the land to Netheril. The shaman king demands more tribute from the villages.
- -3848 DR: Alandril Nether, Nether the Younger, is born.
- -3847 DR: The Abbey of the Moon is established.
- -3845 DR: The elves of Eaerlann begin observing Netheril.
- -3843 DR: Ched Nasad is founded.
- -3839 DR: Eaerlann begins trading with Netheril.
- -3830 DR: Eaerlann initiates contact with Netheril, instructing them in magic. Therion of Gerrhs is the first arcanist.
- -3827 DR: Yryic Friothyn; personal smith of the clan of Gerrhs, crafts the shield known as Deflector in honour of his service to Netheril and ending the evils of Malandor Nether (his father).
- Nether the Elder is assassinated by a poison dagger. Nether the Younger assumes control of Netheril and implements a loose democratic government.
- -3772 DR: Death of Nether the Younger.
- -3770 DR: Oghrann falls to lizardfolk, humans, goblinoids, trolls, and disease.
- -3655 DR: An orc horde assails the Savage Frontier lands, the elves of Eaerlann and Illefarn defeat the orcs with help from Netheril and the Rengarth. Netheril absorbs the Rengarth lands although they remain largely autonomous.
- -3654 DR: The Terraseer arrives in Netheril, teaching them the magic of the Weave.
- -3649 DR: The Netherese enslave the rock gnomes living in hills nearby.
- -3637 DR: Zenith is founded
- -3605 DR: Another orc horde assails the Savage Frontier lands, the elves slaughter the orcs with help from Netheril. The horde lasts for 19 years.
- -3552 DR: Netheril founds Runlatha.
- -3544 DR: Frostypaw is founded by the Rengarth.
Yarch: Speaker (the Y is silent)
Life and Society
Netheril’s early society was tribal based, with the most powerful clans in the tribe taking the best land and holding all the power. This consolidation happened over several centuries and resulted in clans of Netherese tribesmen establishing settlements along the south eastern shore of the Narrow Sea and its rivers.
By the time of the First Age of Netheril, many of these fledgling settlements lay abandoned due hostile winters, Rengarth raids, disease, and monster incursions. It was these pressures that led the seven fishing villages in the region known as Seventon, to band together in a pact for defence and cooperation known as the Alliance of Seventon.
It was Malandor Nether, Bey of the Nethgerrhs clan that forged the Alliance of Seventon, and within 3 years he had eliminated his rival Beys and replaced them with those favourable to himself. Secure in his power, Malandor Nether declared himself Ubey and named the land Netheril, meaning Nether’s Land.
King Malandor was a despicable tyrant, using his necromantic powers to keep the population cowed while he lived in idle luxury. His reign of terror was only ended when his own son drove a poisoned dagger into the King’s spine. Alandril Nether took steps to implement a tribal assembly whereby each of the Beys would be able to vote upon issues and influence decisions.
This tribal assembly persists throughout the First Age (and survives in some form right up to the Shadowed Age)
The clans controlled the wealth and power in Netheril, and their success allowed settlements to grow around their clan holdings as new members petitioned to join the clan. The Alliance of Seventon allowed the 7 closest settlements around the river delta of the Netheril River to band together and prosper in spite of the dangers that regularly assailed them.
As the settlements of Feanwycc, Gerrhs, Guçtarv, Jhannich, Jyllarn, Moreann, and Nausieve grew, the clans held the best land and the power in these settlements, while a class of “clanless” individuals settled on the outskirts. Following the death of King Malandor Nether and the reforging of the Alliance of Seventon, the clans were made true nobility, being awarded permanent positions in the fledgling government of Netheril.
The clan elders (known as Beys) were each given a vote, allowing them to cement their positions of power while a central administration grew in Gerrhs around the Alliance headquarters, giving their families positions within that government and ensuring they controlled the wealth and the military power of Netheril.
Prior to the First Age, as with most tribal societies, there was no concept of commoners. An individual joined a clan in order to increase his chances of survival (trading skills and productivity for protection and pooled resources), those that could not join a clan were alone were alone unless others joined this new clan, and a lone human did not survive for very long against the icy winter, the wolves, the monsters, other humans, or any other number of dangers.
As the clans grew and settled into a sedentary lifestyle, settlements grew around their clan holdings, initially open only to settlement only by clan members. The Alliance of Seventon allowed these settlements to grow even larger (although the tyranny of Malandor Nether curtailed that prosperity somewhat). It was inevitable that clanless individuals would settle on the outskirts of these settlements, and so a common class was born.
The commoners were able to draw upon the protection of the clan as were all other clan members, merely due to their proximity to the settlement and clan member holdings, but they could not draw upon the resources of the clan, or count upon the rule of clan law to find in their favour. The commoners of Netheril were initially left to their own resources, being forced to work hard and sell their produce to the clans at unfavourable prices.
Following the death of King Malandor, the Alliance of Seventon was re-established, and the prosperity of Netheril continued to grow, as did the numbers of commoners. By the time of the Terraseer’s arrival in Netheril there were several thousand commoners in the nation, and at the Terraseer’s urging to expand the Alliance of Seventon now had need of these commoners to settle and defend the growing frontiers.
With the commoner’s increased power and usefulness came a shift in rights for the “clanless”. The clanless were unhappy at being denied any rights in society, and often being mistreated by the clans, so the Alliance of Seventon established a code of laws that enshrined the rights of the commonfolk.
The Rengarth were a large group of tribesmen that originally travelled across the Spine of the World as part of the migration led by the warrior Shemen from lands far to the east. The warrior Rengar led his people out of the Lakelands, skirting the far frozen mountains of the north and eventually down the west side of the Narrow Sea to what then became the Rengarth Ancestral Lands. Other tribes continued on their journey, eventually becoming the Ice Hunter tribes that settled on the northern shore of the Sword Coast.
The Rengarth were nomadic tribes and never settled as did the Netherese, as a result there was no such thing as a common class of people, either an individual was part of a clan, or he was clanless (and almost certain to perish very soon).
The Rengarth wandered familiar routes, according to which clan they belonged, typically following the great herds of rothe and other animals that wandered the Rengarth Ancestral Lands, while hunting the herds for food and furs. They would winter in favoured spots along the edges of the Narrow Sea, the Channel Mountains, or the High Forest (seeking shelter to survive the cold winters).
At this time the population of Netheril is almost entirely human, from the Netherese ethnic group. This dark haired, dark eyed, fair skinned people seem to have appeared suddenly in the Netheril Basin around -4000 DR, leading many sages to suspect they were either related to the nearby Rengarth (unlikely given the different skin shades between the fair netherese and the darker Rengarth), or more likely they were former slaves of some powerful empire or being that escaped into the Netheril Basin (indeed the netherese have ancient legends regarding the lizard kings of old).
Occasionally migrants from other nearby realms would make their way to Netheril, the likes of Avrauntra and the Terraseer are examples of famous migrants that chose to integrate into Netheril’s society. More often small groups of Rengarth, outcast from their ancestral lands, would come to Netheril and choose to stay for protection.
The Rengarth did not welcome outsiders, they mistrusted outsiders, were afraid of most forms of magic, and as a general rule they attacked something they were afraid of or mistrusted. Because of their isolationist tendencies, the Rengarth people were entirely Rengarth in origin.
The Rengarth were dark haired, dark eyed, and olive skinned, being descended from the same ancient stock as the Rashemmi.
The Netheril Basin held small groups of gnomes, dwarves, and elves, remnants of much larger nations from long ago. These groups remained separate from the larger nations of the netherese and rengarth, until the people of Netheril discovered them and enslaved them as happened to the gnomes of Silmarca towards the end of the First Age.
Netheril’s economy during the First Age was basic and primitive by modern standards. They villages of Seventon were almost totally reliant upon fish for food, hunting animals in the nearby Eastern Forest (known to others as the Rystall Wood) and logging its trees for other needed materials. Small amounts of metals and gems were mined in the nearby mountains, which led to a growth in bronzework and metal items.
As the Alliance of Seventon grew and Netheril expanded across the Narrow Sea, the colonies of Harbourage, Runlatha, and Xenith started to return a greater variety of goods (furs and exotic goods acquired from Rengarth raiding from Xenith and Runlatha, while goods of gnomish origin returned from Harbourage). This led to an increase in interest in the frontier lands and a growth in exploration and settlement outside of Seventon.
As a tribal, nomadic society, the economy of the Rengarth people was very much limited by what they could make from the corpses of creatures they hunted, and what goods they could steal from those they raided.
The Rengarth crafted small quantities of goods from fur, bone, and wood. These crafted goods were usually traded between the clans for whatever was in short supply at the time.
Most of the riches and wealth of a tribe came from the raiding the clans engaged in against each other and against neighbouring nations. The Rengarth were particularly fond of raiding the lands of the Sky Lizard and the Earth Spirits to the south of the Rengarth Ancestral Lands. The Rengarth had little use for coins, but the metal was often melted down to make other crude jewellery or weaponry.
When the Netherese and the Rengarth encountered one another in peaceful circumstances (at Xenith), trading opportunities opened up between these peoples and trading began in earnest, with the Rengarth trading their furs and crude crafted goods for food and other crafted goods. The trading arrangement proved so beneficial that it led to some Rengarth clans establishing their own permanent settlements and even attempting trade with other peoples, such as the dwarves of Delzoun and the elves of Eaerlann.
Prior to the First Age, the people of Seventon were a tribal people, with no central government or any law beyond that which a clan decided for themselves.
The Alliance of Seventon was the first step towards establishing a centralised rule and code of laws. Each of the seven villages of Seventon came together in a mutual defence pact, which included an agreement on how many spears each village would provide for the defence of everyone.
The rule of King Malandor saw the strengthening of central government and an increase in Malandor Nether’s personal power, and the establishment of many new laws (although few of them benefitted anyone but King Malandor). However, when Malandor Nether was slain and the Alliance of Seventon was reforged, the clans had already accepted the rule of law and increased centralisation and were happy to submit to more relaxed and beneficial terms.
The re-establishment of the Alliance of Seventon saw each of the elders of the seven villages (now renamed to Speakers after the title of Bey was discontinued following the rule of King Malandor) given a voice on the council and a single vote on matters of policy or law. A rough draft of laws was created, establishing the rights of the clans to collect taxes on behalf of the Alliance, and the protections due to the clans (and later the clanless commoners) from each other and from the power of the Alliance. The responsibilities of each settlement to provide to the defence of the Alliance was also written into law and led to the creation of a new military body known as the Spears of Seventon.
The Alliance Council: The Alliance of Seventon was governed by the Alliance Council which was originally convened in a different settlement of Seventon every quarter, but following the reign of Malandor Nether the Alliance Council was held most often in the settlement of Gerrhs in the Nether Palace.
During the early years of the Alliance Council (-3827 DR onwards) there were 7 Speakers of Decrees (Tarnentyarch), one for each of the settlements) and one honorary titled Ubey (Chief of Chiefs) that was held by Alandril Nether until his death in -3772 DR. Each Speaker of Decrees had 1 vote, and the Ubey had 5 votes, so Alandril Nether could greatly influence the outcome of votes but could not make any decision without support from the other clans.
As Netheril expanded and additional settlements were brought into the Alliance it was realised that new settlements with comparatively low populations would have a disproportionately large voice on the Alliance Council. So when Harbourage was established and the gnomes of Silmarca were “welcomed” into the Alliance, it was decided that only settlements with populations in excess of 5,000 would have a Speaker of Decrees on the Alliance Council.
As the population of clanless commoners grew within the settlements, they demanded rights and protections against the nobility and power of the Alliance in return for their services to the economy and the military (clanless individuals made up 50% of the Spears of Seventon by -3650 DR. As a result of this each settlement created its own Council, with one Speaker (Yarch) per every 5,000 individuals (the clans held 50% of those seats, the clanless held the remaining 50%), and these new councils elected a Speaker to the Alliance Council.
Local Councils: Following the arrival of the Terraseer, Netheril began a rapid period of magical, social, and geographical expansion as this enigmatic and mysterious individual arrived in Netheril and advised the Alliance of Seventon on the direction they should take the nation.
The Terraseer started the idea of magical schools to train arcanists, and personally taught a number of new spells and magical innovations to prospective students. He urged the Alliance to expand beyond the confines of Seventon, proposing they use the Narrow Sea to move around the sacred lands of the Rengarth, in search of rumours of greater magic in the far west. This expansion led to the restructuring of the Alliance’s political landscape and ultimately resulted in the creation of Local Councils for each of the settlements in the Alliance.
Settlements with a population of 5000 or more would form a Local Council, with one seat for every 5,000 registered citizens (allocated first to the most powerful clan, next to a clanless representative, then the next most powerful clan, and so on). This Local Council would make decisions of local government regarding the implementation of decrees from the Alliance Council (appointing tax collectors, commanders for the Spears of Seventon based locally, appointing judges, etc), it would also vote on a single member of the council being appointed the Tarnentyarch (Speaker of Decrees). The Tarnentyarch would represent the Local Council and the settlement in question at the Alliance Council meetings.
This mode of government lasted in some form until the end of the Shadowed Age.
Law and Order
The people of Netheril were by their very nature, law abiding folk. From their tribal roots it was considered very dishonourable to break an agreement and this extended to all areas of Netheril’s society.
The reign of Malandor Nether was harsh, with many laws drafted to curtail the freedoms of the populace and allow the King and his necromancer Beys to do as he pleased. The renewed Alliance of Seventon repealed most of these laws and established a code that would form the basis of all future laws of Netheril, these included the usual protection of people and property that were all based upon the original agreement of the Alliance of Seventon, whereby the seven villages agreed to protect one another from outsiders and thus by extension agreed to do no harm to one another.
Initially all laws of the Alliance of Seventon extended only to those individuals living within the original boundaries of the seven villages as specified in the original agreement of the Alliance of Seventon, thus most clanless individuals were excluded because they lived on the outskirts of the settlements and outside the original boundaries. By -3650 DR the Alliance of Seventon was relying significantly upon the clanless individuals to provide the numbers in the Spears of Seventon to expand the nation, these clanless demanded additional rights and protection in the law and so the laws were redrafted to include members of the Alliance of Seventon.
A member of the Alliance of Seventon includes anyone that signs a joining contract. Once signed the contract extends to all descendants.
Death: It is illegal for an individual to deprive another member of Seventon of his life.
Theft: It is illegal for an individual to deprive another member of Seventon of his property
Contract: It is illegal for an individual to break the terms of a contract that he has signed.
Punishment: During the reign of Malandor Nether, the punishment for breaking any law was death, although individuals were often experimented upon, hunted, tortured, and far worse before they were granted the peace of death.
The Alliance of Seventon followed typical tribal punishment for law breaking; death, maiming, and or enslavement. Causing the death of an individual was typically punished by death (unless the death was accidental), theft was punished by enslavement (and maiming for repeated offences), breaking a contract was punished by maiming.
Each punishment was decided upon individually by appointed judges who were most often respected members of clans (and so found often found in favour of other clan members).
The netherese were originally a tribal society and before the First Age the military might of these people was entirely dependant upon the clans. Each clan would maintain a band of warriors that defended the other members of that clan (and their property), and so the other clan members provided to the clan in order to receive this protection.
Clan Nethgerrh was the largest and richest clan and so commanded the greatest number of warriors, but military capability was patchy at best and easily exploited by the goblinoids that were raiding the villages of Seventon.
Malandor Nether used the lack of coordinated defence to form an alliance among the villages of Seventon, and out of this alliance was born the Spears of Seventon, a military organisation into which each clan (and therefore settlement) provided a tithe of soldiers that were dedicated to the protection of the Alliance.
The Spears of Seventon: The Spears of Seventon were a military unit that served as the national army for Netheril, to serve as a defence force commanded by the Alliance of Seventon. In the beginning each clan was to provide a tithe of 200 spears and 100 warriors to serve. The Spears of Seventon ranks were filled with farmers and fishermen (with most true warriors kept by the clans to defend their holdings) during the reign of Malandor Nether were armed only with crude wooden spears and animal hides.
By -3650 DR, the Spears of Seventon had undergone a significant restructuring at the urging of the Terraseer. They were expanded to over 6,000 in number, all of whom were trained soldiers (treat as a 1st level warrior), and disciplined to fight as a capable military unit. Bronze tipped spears, wooden shields, and leather armour were standard armaments for the Spears of Seventon.
The Spears of Seventon were typically organised into units of 20 men and set to patrol areas around the villages of Seventon. Once the frontier settlements of Harbourage, Xenith, and Runlatha were founded, the Spears of Seventon were used as a police force to enforce the law in these outlying regions (in Seventon the clans and judges still handled enforcing the law).
The Spears of Seventon were best described as wary around strangers, were unfriendly to foreign humans (except those immediately declaring themselves as traders), they were hostile to all demihumans (although they begrudgingly left dwarven traders unmolested).
Contact with the dwarves of Delzoun in -3548 DR saw another restructuring of the Spears of Seventon, with their bronze tipped spears being gradually replaced by iron spear, their hide armour replaced by crude ringmail, and an iron knife being added to their equipment.
Clan Warriors: The warriors of a clan remained the staple military force of Netheril for much of the First Age. Each clan tried to attract a number of accomplished warriors in order to help defend their people, property, and territory.
Malandor Nether: Known to history as Nether the Elder, Malandor Nether was the founder of the nation of Netheril, orchestrating the Alliance of Seventon between the seven fishing villages of that region in response to the growing raids from goblinoids.
Malandor Nether was not however driven by altruism and a desire to help his people, instead he desired power over all. Once the Alliance of Seventon was formed, Malandor began using his influence (as the founder of the Alliance) to centralise power under his control. He moved the headquarters of the Spears of Seventon to Gerrhs and manipulated the other Beys to make him the commander, then using his growing skill with dark magics he had the other Beys of Seventon killed and replaced by those loyal to himself (who had been tempted with the promise of learning his dark magic).
Within 3 years, Malandor Nether renamed Seventon to Netheril (meaning Nether’s Land) and became its defacto ruler, with the other Beys subservient to him. Malandor Nether was a tyrant who taxed his people harshly, created ridiculous laws, and punished all crimes with death so that he could experiment upon the unfortunate “criminals” to further his magical research.