Called the Ama Basin, after the great Ama river that drains the region and empties into the Celestial Sea. This watershed includes the northern Koryaz Mountains and its forested foothills, and the taiga (evergreen forests) and swamps which stretch between the mountains and the fringes of the Land of Snow Demons.
Most of the indigenous humans of the Ama Basin fall into three “nations,” or tribal groupings: the Issacortae, the Pazruki, and the Wu-haltai. They are not nations in the political sense, so much as groupings according to appearance, language, and culture. Of the three, the Issacort tribal confederation is the most cohesive politically. On the opposite extreme, the many Wu-haltan clans form alliances only in times of need, and remain otherwise autonomous and often quite isolated.
There are a number of small native tribes besides the three nations. Some are recent immigrants from such nearby regions as the Plain of Horses and the Land of Snow Demons. Others, including primitive groups that still use stone and bronze tools rather than ones of iron, are of uncertain origin and seem not to be closely related to any known peoples. (Sometimes the korobokuru are classified as such a class of humans.) Many legends mention such tribes. Some people believe the tribes to be descended from the Ancient Lords, or Maraloi, who never used iron.
Some of the places of interest in the Ama Basin include:
The djinni Calim governed Calimshan for almost a thousand years before someone challenged his rule. On the shore of the River Agis the great efreeti Memnon proclaimed his sovereignty. Despite border skirmishes, assassination attempts, and unfavorable trade status, Memnon's power grew for three hundred years until all-out war erupted between the Calim Empire and Memnonnar, ushering in the Era of Skyfire. That war lasted for centuries. Some of Faerûn's most appalling battles occurred during the Era of Skyfire. Battle accounts ink crumbling tomes with names such as the Blood March, the Fall of Agis, and the Battle of Ruin. Both sides suffered horrendous losses, especially so amongst the thousands of slave-soldiers forced to fight for both sides. Before the elves of Keltormir and their djinn-efreet binding ritual permanently ended the clash, many heroes of the conflict fell to noble and ignoble deaths alike. More than powerless slaves found themselves caught up in the fighting. Stronger entities, too, who cared nothing for either of the two principles, were forced to choose sides lest they be destroyed by the other. One of these was known generally as the Astronomer. However, the Astronomer would not choose a side. For that, she was brushed aside, and her home disappeared under what became the Calim Desert. Few histories record even that she existed, let alone the location of her buried home. Who Was the Astronomer? Despite being kin to djinn, the Astronomer would have nothing to do with the centuries-long struggle for dominance between Calim and Memnon. A genasi, the Astronomer concerned herself only with her study of a burgeoning planar realm she referred to as the Elemental Tempest. According to the Astronomer, beneath the world the forces of the Elemental Tempest churn. There, elemental substance and energy crash together in an unending cycle of creation and destruction. Its substance, she claimed, was the very stuff from which the world was crafted, and once the scales of ignorance fell away from the eyes of the supposedly wise, all would recognize her claim as so. Thus the Astronomer's lone home, far from any other home or village, was a facility dedicated to peering into this realm over which she obsessed. Her large compound could support her, her staff of mage-researchers, her household workers, and the explorers that she briefly dangled into the realm via magically insulated Tempest Cages. When the ultimatum ("Serve me or perish!") from Calim arrived on the lips of a leering captain of one of Calim's many armies, the Astronomer dropped the envoy, unprotected, through a portal to the very heart of the Elemental Tempest. Surface Description In Calimshan, tales speak of a lost reliquary contemporary with the famous djinn Calim. This ancient place, called the Tomb of the Astronomer, remains lost in the midst of the Calim Desert, and some say it contains an ancient secret. If it can be believed, an antique scroll in the library of Candlekeep explains how explorers once or twice stumbled on the entrance to the Tomb of the Astronomer. A half-sunken, shattered stone face in the sand marks the entrance. The wrinkled frown and cold sneer on this visage seems to recall images of ancient Calim, and indeed, the scroll indicates that after the Astronomer's compound was buried under a sandstorm that lasted ten years and a day, a single graven image of Calim, in all his splendor, was set upon the site as a warning to others not to gainsay the will of the djinni. Excavation of the Tomb Excavating the constantly shifting, fluid sand anywhere in the Calim Desert is nearly impossible. A hole fills in nearly as fast as it is dug unless the diggers use physical and magical supports. And thus, if adventurers come upon the site with the antique scroll from Candlekeep clutched in eager hands, perhaps they will be delighted to find someone has beat them to the site and has already started digging. Then again, perhaps not. The noted collector Dulmanico of Waterdeep is on location, and for several months he has supervised the work of his team of diggers, excavators, sages, guards, and even a few fellow wizard collectors who contributed to the cost of the expedition. Thus hopeful adventurers discover a slowly growing pit of terraced shelves gradually stepping down to the lowest point of the deepening pit. Nearly a hundred tents, an equal number of camels, a semipermanent barracks and kitchen, and a camp library have made a once-sterile spot in the middle of nowhere into a miniature village. Arcane and divine magic keep the draft animals, workers, and overseers fed, watered, and safe from the heat. The guards, who Dulmanico pays in ale and silver, busy themselves dealing with the increasingly frequent attacks coming out of the deep desert. The attackers consist mainly of shambling, mindless zombies whose tissues are more fossil than bone. Dulmanico theorizes that the undead are animated recently from an eon-long slumber rather than being the free-ranging zombies who've walked the desert so long that they've fossilized. He supposes an intelligent agent controls them while lurking somewhere farther out in the desert in a hidden base. Moreover, Dulmanico insists the undead attacks are not, as the superstitious workers in the dig camp mutter, the effects of a curse that strengthens with each foot the excavation descends toward the Tomb's buried entrance. In fact, Dulmanico believes the attacks are orchestrated by none other than agents of the Twisted Rune, a group of powerful undead spellcasters that meddle with affairs in Calimshan and beyond for power and amusement. If someone could stop the attacks once and for all, Dulmanico would command his workers to excavate the final few feet to reveal the Tomb's entrance, which both mundane and arcane methods indicate would take only a few days of uninterrupted work. Newcomers to Dulmanico's dig site find him amenable to sharing the fruits of the excavation if they would make a good faith effort; he asks interested visitors to look into the supposed Twisted Rune base hidden in the desert, eradicate the Twisted Rune agent or agents that probably reside there, and thereby hopefully put an end to undead raids. Only investigation reveals whether any of Dulmanico's series of surmises are accurate. Inside the Tomb Once diggers remove the final few feet of sand concealing the Tomb of the Astronomer, a pitted iron surface is revealed. Curved seams suggest a great, eyelike iris that is currently closed. A humanoid palm print in the exact center of the iris begs to be touched. If it is, the eye responds. A terrible scraping sound accompanies the opening eye. Excess sand around the edges pours into the opening like a liquid flood, but apparently the space beyond the aperture is more than large enough to contain it. The rusted, newly sand-filled chamber beyond contains no immediate threats, furnishings, or distinguishing furnishings (unless falling sand buried them). The chamber is apparently carved from solid rock. Corridors lead off in several directions, though one corridor is more than twice as wide as all the others, potentially indicating its importance. Disturbingly, demons have somehow gotten into the Astronomer's buried facility! Soon after explorers begin to move through the chambers, several demonic creatures attack them. These demons are initially as astonished to discover visitors as visitors may be surprised at encountering them. However, demonic eyes quickly alight with anticipation as they attack. If the explorers overcome the demons, they soon enough find the main observing dome with its rusted arcane instruments, shattered lenses, and forgotten astronomical scripts. There they can discover that the magic mechanism for opening the dome for observation still functions. If they trigger it, the dome splits, though it doesn't spill sand into dome. Instead, it opens onto a view into a different plane -- perhaps the Elemental Tempest itself! The view through the opening is of a floor of black stone stretching away in all directions, though the landscape is broken up by rivers of lightning, seas of fire, floating earthbergs, ice mountains, and cyclonic columns of air, fire, and soil. In the far distance, a fire-rimmed stain of darkness hangs in mid-air, as if a scar on the sky itself. According to notes found half-shredded at the observation stations under the dome, the scar is the physical manifestation of the Abyss within the Elemental Tempest. Thankfully, despite being visible, the burning scar is hundreds of miles off, but perhaps it explains the demonic infestation of the compound. Certainly the rusted, now-useless instruments in the dome appear as if they may have once been trained on that distant blot. What was the Astronomer really studying here? What does the view into the obviously very real Elemental Tempest have to do with the Abyss and demons who swarm and breed within it? What other secrets does the demon-infested, observatory-turned-tomb hold? And does any aspect or memory of the Astronomer herself yet walk the hollow stone halls? Perhaps.
In a high mountain vale in the Starspire Mountains, a door of red granite stands in the side of a mountain. Old magic glyphs burned into the stone cover the heavy posts on either side of the door, and the image of an orb and dagger is emblazoned in its center. This door leads to the Purple Halls of Sulduskoon, a secret stronghold that has been a magical assassins' den and the base for a band of evil adventurers, and now serves as a black temple of Cyricist crusaders -- but one with a strange and perilous secret that its masters do not suspect. The Delving of the Halls In 361 DR, Year of the Fearless King, the noble-born wizard Tultysar of the Shoon Imperium founded a secret society of mage-assassins called the Daggers of Dusk. The Daggers cut down a number of Shoon nobles over the years, profiting from the endless feuds and rivalries that divided the Shoon realm in its waning years. Their symbol was the orb and dagger, signifying arcane knowledge and deadly intent. Tultysar delved a hidden stronghold for his brotherhood, choosing a remote vale in the Starspires. He and his fellows laid several portals within the complex leading to smaller outposts and hiding-holds, including another extensive stronghold in the Spiderhaunt Peaks of eastern Faerûn. The Daggers of Dusk survived the fall of the Shoon Imperium in the Year of the Corrie Fist (450 DR), but were lost to western history in the centuries that followed. They continued their secret slayings in eastern Faerûn, meddling in the affairs of Murghôm and Semphar for some time longer. But in time the society faded there too, and by the Year of Watchful Eyes (705 DR) the secret society's stronghold lay abandoned and forgotten. Hobgoblins, ogres, and other such marauders eventually occupied the complex. The Purple Claws In the Year of the Singing Skull (1297 DR), a formidable company of sellswords known as the Purple Claws discovered the old Dusk Dagger hold and cleared it of its monstrous occupants. The Purple Claws were a mercenary band of adventurers fourteen strong -- calculating, ambitious, and coldly pragmatic. Most of their adventures revolved around the ruthless accumulation of wealth and magic, and they decided that the old stronghold would make an ideal place to store their considerable plunder. They brought blindfolded and hooded stoneworkers, locksmiths, engineers, and artisans from Myratma and Darromar to refurbish the place, and restored the place to its old the Purple Claws -- or, as rumors slowly spread, simply the Purple Halls. The Purple Claws adventured off and on for many years, with an ever-changing roster of membership. Over time as many as thirty-five different heroes (and villains) fought under the emblem of the Purple Claws. Most met violent ends, and a few were killed by their own former comrades. But the company as a whole survived until a disastrous expedition into Throrgar, the Shrieking Abyss, in 1320 DR, the Year of the Watching Cold. Not a single active Claw returned from the Underdark -- and soon afterward the dozen or so ex-members who had scattered to various parts of Faerûn one by one met horrible ends, carried screaming into the night sky by unseen assailants. The Purple Halls were abandoned again. The Gloomfire Chasm The Purple Halls consist of several levels of excavated halls, stairs, shafts, and galleries, all cut out of the living rock around a network of natural caverns -- including the spectacular Gloomfire Chasm, a subterranean rift that runs for hundreds of yards and is easily 200 feet to the bottom. Large purple-hued crystals of quartz grow from the sides and ceiling of the rift, glimmering with a faint violet radiance; even without any torches or lanterns, the chasm is as bright as weak moonlight. Several passages in the dungeon emerge on the chasm at various points, run along ledges or descend staircases cut into its walls, and then lead back into the cavern maze at some different point. The Mirror of Manedor The old portals created by the Daggers of Dusk took the form of mirrors -- highly polished sheets of bronze set in stonework carved to resemble twisting serpents, heightened to almost perfect clarity by subtle magic. Several of these old bronze mirrors are now tarnished, dark, and dead, but the Mirror of Manedor is still brilliant. It leads to a dungeon carved out by Tultysar in the Spiderhaunt Mountains of eastern Faerûn, a hidden twin to the western Halls. Above this mirror the name "Manedor" is chiseled in the Thorass runes. The Purple Claws did not refurbish the eastern portion of their stronghold, and in fact left it as the lair of various hungry monsters. That portion of the Purple Halls on the other side of the mirror-portal is therefore in great disrepair and is infested by trolls, hags, and a large brood of wyverns. Viewed from the eastern side, the Mirror appears the same -- but the name above the polished bronze surface is "Rodenam."
The Secret Palace of Tultysar Unknown to the Cyricists and their pets, the Mirror of Manedor also serves as a gate to the Plane of Mirrors . . . and in fact at random times someone stepping through the portal does not travel to the eastern citadel, but is instead drawn into the Plane of Mirrors and trapped there. A group of guardians from the mysterious race known as the nerra (see Fiend Folio) watch the far side. Long ago the ancient mage Tultysar, founder of the Daggers of Dusk, created the Mirror to function in this manner and made a bargain with the nerra to serve as his assassins and spies. When his death approached, Tultysar retreated into the Plane of Mirrors, and became a mighty lord among the nerra himself. The Mirror of Manedor leads to his palace on the Plane of Mirrors, from which hundreds of other mirrors peer out into hundreds of different places across Faerûn and other worlds. Tultysar can never return, since he would crumble to dust if he left, but he regards all within the Purple Halls as his.
Cathedral of Daggers In the Spiderhaunt portion of the Purple Halls lies the ancient meeting place and conclave of the Daggers of Dusk -- a dark, splendid hall known as the Cathedral of Daggers. Ringing the center of this pillared chamber stand nine stone markers or posts, each about 5 feet in height. Daggers of black adamantine hover in the air above seven of the stone markers, encased in a flickering aura of violet flame (no one knows what became of the remaining two daggers). Each marker commemorates the reign of a Dusk Master, a leader of the ancient order. Attempting to remove a dagger from its place is dangerous, since each marker-stone is trapped in some way. Ferantaril, Dark Master of the Halls The uppermost portion of the western Purple Halls now serves as the home of a knight of Cyric named Ferantaril (NE male human crusader 5/favored soul 4). Hearing that the Halls had been abandoned, he led a party of Cyricists from the temple known as the Mountain of Skulls in Amn to clear out the savage humanoids squatting in the place and establish a secret stronghold. Ferantaril claims the rank of Dark Master (Cyricists have a score of such sobriquets), and he is working to transform the Purple Halls into a hidden temple of the Black Sun. Ferantaril has enslaved a band of gnolls he found occupying the upper levels of the Purple Halls, and he sends the marauders out on wide-ranging raids. Meanwhile, the Dark Master and his acolytes (a dozen or so low-level clerics and crusaders of Cyric) are engaged in exploring the remainder of the Purple Halls. Many of the traps and secret passages put in place by the Purple Claws remain undiscovered, and some of the portals within the stronghold lead to very dangerous places indeed. One leads to a bone-filled desert cave somewhere in the Bandit Wastes where a particularly large and vicious stonesinger lairs (12 HD; Monster Manual III). Another opens in the dungeons of a ruined tower in the Gulthmere Forest -- a tower infested by spriggans, redcaps, and displacer beasts trained by the evil fey.