The Reach has always been considered the breadbasket of the Realms, the birthplace of countless warriors who have shed their lifeblood on the fields of battle. It's also home to noble families that have ruled kingdoms for countless generations, lizardman cities that have existed for hundreds of years, and an ancient plague that still haunts the land.
This FORGOTTEN REALMS campaign accessory contains a full-color poster map fo the Vilhon Reach as well as new artwork that brings the reach to life. A 64-page accessory for the Dungeon Master details the lengthy history of the Vilhon, as well as providing current information on the various countries and city-states. A 32-page travelogue provides background for players whose characters would try their hand at adventuring in the Vilhon Reach.
The Vilhon Reach (1996), by Jim Butler, is a 2e sourcebook for the Forgotten Realms. It was published in May 1996.
Origins: Into the Realms. Following the publication of the second edition Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting (1993), TSR began producing a series of longer, grey-bordered campaign sourcebooks and boxes. These included FRS1: The Dalelands (1993), Cormyr (1994), The Moonsea (1995), and to a certain extent Spellbound (1995).
However, TSR was also considerably varying its publications. There were more adventures, new smaller-scale background books like City of Splendors (1994) and Ruins of Zhentil Keep (1995), and other sorts of supplements like Elminster's Ecologies (1994-1995). The wide-scale setting books that had been ubiquitous to the Realms' first six years of publications were appearing at a rate of just one or two a year; for 1996 those books were in The North: Guide to the Savage Frontier (1996) and just a month later The Vilhon Reach (1996).
Like the other sourcebooks of the gray-bordered era, "The Vilhon Reach" is more comprehensive than its "FR" brethren (1987-1993). It's also one of several sourcebooks from the era that doesn't just retread old ground, but instead covers land that was largely untouched during the Realms' original era of publication.
Exploring the Realms. The Vilhon Reach is wide span of land on a southwestern spur of the Sea of Fallen Stars, almost directly across from the Dragon Reach, which had recently been detailed in the "LC" adventures (1989-1991). The first mention of the Vilhon Reach can be found in Dragon #102 (October 1985), in Ed Greenwood's "Nine Wands of Wonder"; like most of Greenwood's early mentions of the Realms it's a simple namedrop that gives the impression of a wide world without actually revealing much about it.
The Vilhon Reach received a bit of detail in one of the Realms' early adventures, I14: Swords of the Iron Legion (1988), which focused on the warfare of the region; then FOR3: Pirates of the Fallen Stars (1992) detailed the rogues who prey upon the waterways. However prior to the release of The Vilhon Reach the main details on the area actually came from Polyhedron magazine (1981-2004) and Ed Greenwood's ongoing column, "Elminster's Everwinking Eye". In particular, the kingdom of Turmish had been featured in a number of articles from Polyhedron #96 (June 1994) to Polyhedron #108 (June 1995). Other than these scattered references, the Vilhon Reach was a pretty clean slate.
The Vilhon Reach details a variety of kingdoms and city-states, some young and some long established. This level of civilization could have resulted in a boring setting, but fortunately Butler and Greenwood didn't allow that to happen; instead, their Vilhon Reach stands on the verge of warfare between the various states.
Overall, the Vilhon Reach feels like it's inspired by Europe of the late Middle Ages. The Kingdom of Turmish is widely accepted as being based on medieval Turkey, while the Kingdom of Chondath is obviously influenced by Renaissance Italy, with Sespech being a separatist Italian state. Some of the smaller cities are interesting too. Hlondeth is a serpent-touched yuan-ti city, while Hlath is influenced by druids.
Monsters of Note. The lizard men and yuan-ti both get nice attention, as the founders of some of the cities of the Vilhon Reach.
Future History. The grey-bordered Forgotten Realms products would continue to touch upon nearby lands. Sea of Fallen Stars (1999) details the rest of the Sea, while Lands of Intrigue (1997) describes Tethyr and Amn, to the west and south of the Reach.
The Vihon Reach itself has also been well used in novels.
The Council of Blades (1996) by Paul Kidd got there first with an adventure in the Blade Kingdoms, east of Chondath (and otherwise almost unknown in Realmslore). Most recent years have seen many more novels, all set in the Reach proper. The Jewels of Turmish (2002) by Mel Odom is set in the Turkish nation. Thom M. Reid's Scions of Arrabar trilogy (2003-2005) then focused on the Chondathian city. Finally, The House of Serpents trilogy (2004-2006) by Lisa Smedman is all about the yuan-ti of Hlondeth.
About the Creators. Butler wrote a number of Forgotten Realms supplements from 1995-1996, beginning with the Daggerdale Adventures trilogy (1995). He would go on to be the Brand Manager and Licensing Director who launched D&D 3e.
About the Product Historian
The history of this product was researched and written by Shannon Appelcline, the editor-in-chief of RPGnet and the author of Designers & Dragons - a history of the roleplaying industry told one company at a time. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to firstname.lastname@example.org.