The Realms of Adventure
The Moonsea proper is a deep natural lake, surrounded by a fragmented patchwork of lands and city-states ruled by despots, humanoids, and savages. The area is infamous for its bleak landscapes, harsh winters, ravaging dragons, cutthroat pirates, and rapacious tyrants. Commerce exists between hard, heartless city-states such as Hillsfar, Melvaunt, and Mulmaster. Only the strong survive, however: Trading costers and merchant houses compete with knife, fire, and poison. Many notorious ruins lie in this region, including Zhentil Keep, the Citadel of the Raven, and spider-haunted Sulasspryn. Tombs, buried catacombs, and monster lairs also abound in the Moonsea hinterlands, drawing adventurers from every corner of Faerûn.
A few years after reestablishing their realm in the desert of Anauroch, the Shadovar moved against Zhentil Keep, which formerly contended for control over the Moonsea, the northern Dalelands, and the empty lands west of the great desert. The Zhents fought furiously, but the Netherese prevailed. Zhentil Keep was razed, as was the Citadel of the Raven. The Black Network of the Zhentarim was broken. The Shadovar attempted to colonize the citadels they had razed, but Coronal Ilsevele of Myth Drannor struck an uneasy alliance with Hillsfar, Melvaunt, and Thentia to prevent Netheril from achieving this goal.
This region is dotted with city-states and robber baronies, some old, some new. Mulmaster is the center of Bane’s worship in Faerûn and, some say, the ideological heir to the Zhentarim. Voonlar, Teshwave, Phlan, and Thentia are small realms where Myth Drannor and Netheril quietly fence for influence. Aside from Netheril, the quarreling realms of the Moonsea Lands are collectively threatened by the tribesfolk of the Ride, the orcs of Thar, and the monsters of the Border Forest. The Cult of the Dragon is whispered to have a foothold somewhere in the area as well.