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Abeir-Toril is the fictional planet that makes up the Forgotten Realms Dungeons & Dragons campaign setting, as well as the Al-Qadim and Maztica campaign settings and the 1st edition version of the Oriental Adventures campaign setting.
The name is archaic, meaning "cradle of life". It consists of various continents and islands, including Faerûn, Kara-Tur, Zakhara, Maztica, Osse, Anchorome and Katashaka, a sub-Saharan-like continent south of Maztica, where humanity appeared. Toril was originally the name of Jeff Grubb's personal campaign world before it was merged with Ed Greenwood's Forgotten Realms setting.
Toril was the name of Jeff Grubb's campaign world, and it was adopted as the name of the planet upon which the continent of Faerûn existed when he and Ed Greenwood were designing the original Forgotten Realms Boxed Set in 1987. Abeir- was added as a prefix to the planet's name so that it would be the first entry in the alphabetical encyclopedia of terms included in the set. The setting's entire planet underwent a major change during the 1989 Avatar trilogy, which detailed a series of events called the Time of Troubles, during which gods walked the earth and magic became unpredictable. These events caused permanent changes in gameplay that were outlined in the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition campaign setting books.
In a significant retcon of the setting's history, Forgotten Realms material for the fourth edition of Dungeons & Dragons "reveals" that the world was split in two in prehistory, divided between the primordials (Abeir) and the gods (Toril). Toril is the world that has been showcased so far. A cataclysm called the Spellplague has caused several parts of the two worlds to switch places, displacing portions of Faerûn and the entire continent of Maztica with regions of Abeir: Tymanther, Akanûl, and Returned Abeir. A subsequent event called "The Sundering" reverted many of these changes and restored much of the pre-Spellplague Toril.
Anchorome is almost unexplored and is at the North of Maztica. Its best-known inhabitants are the Azuposi, as well as the defunct Esh Alakarans and the xenophobic Poscadar elves. There is also a sahuagin realm called Itzcali located in the sea nearby.
Long ago, Balduran, a sea captain who was the founder of Baldur's Gate, sailed to Anchorome and returned with a great wealth that was used to build the wall around the fledgling Baldur's Gate. It was revealed in the Baldur's Gate: Tales of the Sword Coast expansion that Balduran returned to Anchorome and retrieved a second hoard of treasure from the Native kingdoms. Unfortunately, when he attempted to take on a number of locals to replenish his crew he discovered they were infected with lycanthropy. The resulting battle shipwrecked Balduran on an island, which was later discovered by a Merchant Guild from Baldur's Gate and subsequently by the player who is sent to confirm the finding, where both the original crews' and the natives from Anchorome's descendants were locked in a bloody lycanthrope feud. The fate of Balduran himself was never clearly revealed.
After the discovery of Maztica by the mercenary captain Cordell, mercenaries from the Flaming Fist were sent to Anchorome. They built a keep, Fort Flame, in the shores of Balduran's bay (which is actually far below Balduran's resting place) but other than this it had been a complete disaster.
It is speculated that it is the land where the Creator Race known as the Aearee retreated a long time ago. It is rumored that several tribes of thri-kreen make their home in Anchorome's western regions.
Kara-Tur's cultures and peoples are fantasy analogues of medieval regions of East Asia, including China, Korea, Japan, the Ryukyu Islands, Tibet, and others. According to Jim Bambra, "While primarily drawing on Japan for inspiration, [Kara-Tur] also contains elements of medieval China and Korea." Kara-Tur was first described in the original 1985 Oriental Adventures book. A reviewer for White Dwarf called the long background section of Kara-Tur in the book, a "bonus". Originally intended as a western part of the continent of Oerik in the Greyhawk setting, the description of Kara-Tur in the Oriental Adventures rulebook made no attempt to link it with another D&D game-world. The first map of Kara-Tur appeared in the adventure module OA1: Swords of the Daimyo (1986), where the setting was still world-neutral.:108 The 1987 Forgotten Realms Campaign Set left the eastern half of its continent reserved for the future publication of Kara-Tur. In 1988, TSR released a boxed set, Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms, describing the region in greater detail, with two 96-page books and maps.
- Shou Lung: Imperial China during periods of centralized government
- T'u Lung: Historical China during eras of political disunity, e.g. the Warring States period
- Wa: Feudal Japan (Edo/Kamakura period)
- Kozakura: Japan (Feudal/Sengoku period)
- Northern Wastes: Historical Eastern Siberia
- Tabot: Tibet
- Koryo: Korea
- The Island Kingdoms: Pre-colonial civilizations of Indonesia and the Philippines.
- The Plain of Horses: Historical Mongolia. This region is the Kara-Tur portion of the Hordelands, also known as the Endless Wastes.
- The Jungle Lands of Malatra: Pre-colonial civilizations of Indochina (historical versions of the Khmer Empire and Vietnam) as well as the hill tribes inspired by their real-life Southeast Asian counterparts.
In 1989 a printing of Trail Maps for Kara-Tur appeared as part of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition. In 1990 the maps were again included in The Forgotten Realms Atlas. Later that year TSR converted the monsters of Kara-Tur to second edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons rules as part of the Monstrous Compendium series. After 1990, TSR ceased publishing new material related to Kara-Tur. The setting was, however, occasionally referred to by other TSR products such as Spelljammer and Ravenloft.
The setting of Kara-Tur still exists on Abeir-Toril in Dungeons & Dragons 3rd edition and is often mentioned in Forgotten Realms supplements. Characters and artifacts from Kara-Tur sometimes show up in Faerûn, but beyond that there is little interaction between the continents. The 2015 release of Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide, a supplement for Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition, introduced Kara-Tur to the fifth edition of Dungeons & Dragons. There is a brief description of the land along with references throughout the book to its culture and how certain classes or backgrounds might fit in there.
Reviewer Michael Mullen, looking at Kara-Tur before the publication of the boxed set, stated that players would probably like the world, but that it would depend largely on how familiar the DM was with Oriental culture or Japanese movies and television. He remarked that the "usual opposition, if not human, will be from the spirit world", rather then more conventional battles versus monsters.
Medievalist Amy S. Kaufman listed Kara-Tur in 2010 as one of the few fantasy worlds based on non-European medieval cultures to date. She remarked that the setting descriptions "reinforce their distance from the "real" Middle Ages", "which suggests that the [non-Western] realms may be outside the imaginative limits of designers, at least for now".
Related products set in Kara-Tur
- OA1, Swords of the Daimyo (1986)
- OA2, Night of the Seven Swords (1986)
- OA3, Ochimo: The Spirit Warrior (1987)
- OA4, Blood of the Yakuza (1987)
- OA5, Mad Monkey vs. the Dragon Claw (1988, zip)
- FROA1, Ninja Wars (1990)
- OA6, Ronin Challenge (1990, zip)
- OA7, Test of the Samurai (1990)
Three choose your own adventure style books (one was actually released before the original Oriental Adventures book) were published:
- Blade of the Young Samurai – Endless Quest 23 (1984)
- Test of the Ninja – AD&D Adventure Gamebook 5 (1985)
- Warlords – 1 on 1 Book 7 (1986)
One of novels in The Empires Trilogy is set in Shou Lung of Kara-Tur.
- Troy Denning (1990). Dragonwall. Forgotten Realms: The Empires Trilogy, Book 2. Wizards of the Coast. ISBN 0-88038-919-2.
- Dragon #315, for information on ancestor feats and martial arts styles specific to the Kara-Tur setting, as well as updated information on the 10 empires and regions of Kara-Tur.
In other media
- In 2020, designer Isaac Mandagie announced the development of Kara-Tur - The Island Kingdoms: Bawa, a setting book reworking and expanding a small area of Kara-Tur for the Fifth Edition utilizing the Dungeon Masters Guild Open Game License. The creation team consists of "predominantly Southeast Asian writers and artists" and the setting incorporates elements inspired by Indonesian concepts and beliefs. Publication is planned for summer 2021.
Maztica, called by its inhabitants The True World, is a fictional continent that is a land of jungles and (to the Faerûnians) mystery. Early in its history it was a land fought over by the gods Qotal the Plumed Serpent and his brother Zaltec. For a crime against his sister, Qotal retreated from Maztica for an age but returned in recent times.
It was 'discovered' by Amnian explorers led by one Captain-general Cordell and his Golden Legion in 1361 DR. Amn was quick to carve out its claim to the land for trade benefits, establishing the port city of Helmsport, and the church of Helm led the encroachment into the new land. The native peoples were devastated by foreign diseases and the ruthlessness of the invaders, and this, coupled with the difficulties encountered on Maztica backfiring against them, caused the church of Helm to come under heavy criticism. Lantan also claimed some lands.
Maztica is divided into the nations of Nexal, Kultaka, Huacli, Kolan, Pezelac, and Payit. The region known as Far Payit neighbours Payit, both in the east around Helmsport. The native people of Maztica from Payit and Far Payit are known as Payits, whereas natives from the other nations are known as Mazticans. There are also the human races known as the Dog People and the Green Folk. Many monstrous races also live in Maztica, including wild halflings and Chacs—jaguar spirits. In very old times, Couatl came from Maztica to fight the Yuan-Ti of Chult.
North of Maztica is the continent of Anchorome. South of it (and separated by a strait) lies an unknown continent.
Maztica was detailed for 2nd Edition Dungeons & Dragons in the Maztica Campaign Set by Douglas Niles, and in the Forgotten Realms novels of the Maztica Trilogy—Ironhelm, Viperhand and Feathered Dragon—also by Douglas Niles. It was based on historical Central America.
Maztica was also the name of the elder goddess who embodied the land of Maztica. Killed by her own son Zaltec, she was the wife of dead Kukul, but unlike her husband, continues to live on in the continued existence of the continent.
In 4th edition, the Spellplague caused by Mystra's death caused Abeir and Toril to briefly merge and then instantly rip apart again. As a result, Maztica is no longer a part of Toril, having been replaced with a continent called "Returned Abeir." On some maps, it has been renamed Anchorome.
Zakhara is a fictional realm styled after the themes and setting depicted in the Arabian Nights. The land is the setting of the Al-Qadim campaign setting for the Dungeons & Dragons tabletop role-playing game. Zakhara is a giant peninsula of the same supercontinent that hosts Faerûn and Kara-Tur on the planet Abeir-Toril. Zakhara is located east of Faerûn, and the closest Faerûnian lands to Zakhara are Dambrath (by sea) and Ulgarth or arguably Konigheim (by land). Zakhara is mostly isolated from the rest of the world, as the peninsula is separated from the main mass by the World Pillar Mountains (also known as Wu Pi Te Shao in Kara-Tur).
Waters around Zakhara are bountiful with pirates and corsairs who charge traders tolls to cross "their" seas, such traders willingly pay these exorbitant fees as Zakhara's exotic trading goods tend to be well worth the price back in Faerûn. Occasionally the pirates decide to completely cut off Zakhara from Faerûn.
The land is full of secretive cities, unwelcoming to travellers, huge deserts, lush oases and powerful genies who meddle in the affairs of humans frequently. The continent is ruled by a theocracy headed by the Grand Caliph, and tales tell of demon-infested cities and godless sorcerers (like the genie-binding Sha'irs) wielding strange magic. Powerful magic and great warriors of every like are to be found in Zakhara.
Zakharans are firmly convinced they are more civilized than the rest of the world and treat "barbarians" accordingly.
The capital city of Zakhara is Huzuz, the "City of Delights".
Tears of Selûne
The Tears of Selûne are a pack of asteroids trailing Abeir-Toril's moon, Selûne.
Wu Pi Te Shao
Known as the World Pillar Mountains in Faerûn or Wu Pi Te Shao in Kara-Tur, the “Roof of the World” is the largest mountain range in the fictional fantasy world of Toril. It is inhabited by evil Yak-men and separates Zakhara from the rest of the supercontinent.
Yal-Tengri (also known as The Great Ice Sea) is Toril's equivalent of the Arctic Ocean. It is barely known at all. In the ancient time, the major city on its shore was Winterkeep, it is now the trade city of Naupau, in Sossal. Far in the north of the sea is a small island dominated by a cathedral-like spire, inhabited by gnomes of Gond.
The Yal-Tengri is free of ice for the six summer months of the year
The Endless Ice Sea is the name of the western Faerûn part of it. Somewhere there is Jhothûn, the long-forgotten capital of a mighty empire of Giants.
Tom Costa (2005). "Africa in the Realms". Archived from the original on November 12, 2006. Retrieved March 19, 2007.
I know several folks (myself included) who transplanted Atlas Games’ excellent Nyambe (with some tweaks), which also built off many of the old 2E articles in Dragon on African gaming, to the large undefined continent southwest of Nimbral and southeast of Maztica
- James, Brian R. (May 2006). "A Grand History of the Realms" (PDF). p. 8. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-03-06.
Today, many sages surmise that humanity first appeared in the northern savannas of Katashaka around -34,000 DR
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