Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Magical Weather Net Over Thay

Map from the 3rd Edition Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting

The country of Thay is encompassed by several massive, invisible meshes of magic, and some of them govern the weather.  This ongoing project sustains webs of potent items and spells that must be replenished at intervals.  The necessary ingredients and arrangements are some of the Red Wizards' top secrets and they alone maintain the system's integrity.  Fail safe measures and alterations made at random also serve to throw off saboteurs.  But since circa 1100 DR, the "weather net" (as it is popularly known) has remained in place with few breaches or malfunctions and has transformed much of Thay.

Simply put, natural disasters like torrential rains, storm winds, droughts, hail, and heat waves do not occur because of this shielding.  Angry weather fronts rebound off the spell layer to wreak havoc in neighboring countries (which is between those countries and Talos, as far as Thayans are concerned).  Problems related to the volcanoes, seismic activity, and mudslides are still threats because they happen from beneath the surface.  Beshaba will have her day, as they say, and some bad luck cannot be avoided.  A great deal of damage and inconvenience has been mitigated by this magic, however.

The nation's current status as the breadbasket of Faerun is one of the outcomes of these buffers.  In the wee morning hours, a gentle but steady rain falls as scheduled in most tharchs.  It lasts for an hour and allows for more comfort and crops than were once possible.  In the earliest years after the net's construction, the rainfall happened at intervals throughout the night to help spur changes in the land.  The rains have been altered over the centuries but in recent memory, an hour a night has been enough.  This, along with rich fertilizers (that include the remains of sentient beings) has enabled Thay to sell food abroad by the ton without batting an eye toward its own granaries.

During the rest of the time, temperatures are kept relatively stable based on the region at hand, as follows:

The Priador, which sprawls along the ocean at a lower elevation, was cooler and wetter to begin with and is covered by its own screen.  Its spells are largely defensive in nature and do not provide rain; a certain amount of moisture is allowed through, instead.  Since the tharch has several key port cities, it still needs protection from Talos's rage and Umberlee's waves. The nation regularly goes out of its way to appease the Bitch Queen so she won't harass its ships, but she can be fickle.  Talos is only offered sacrifices when Thayans travel abroad but they're rarely enough to divert his hatred for long.  Surthay's coverage is similar in the north, where its net guards its position along Lake Mulsantir.

Thazalhar's program is based on a fierce determination not to lose its deserts.  Adverse weather is repelled, but very little moisture is allowed within.  The entire tharch resembles the hot, dry lands close to the Dragonsword Mountains, and its inhabitants prefer that.  The locals continue to uphold more traditional Mulan ways, anyhow, having divorced the culture from its religion.  (Mostly.  Perhaps it's no coincidence that there's more forbidden worship of the Mulhorandi pantheon in Thazalhar than anywhere else in Thay.)  The tharch uses its spell shield to create mirages, turning the land into a maze against those who do not belong there.  This has served to repel Mulhorandi spies and convince outsiders that the area has no cities of note.  It's rumored that the defensive net would be suppressed if enough rain were to fall on it but none know for sure.  In any case, the sodden island tharch called the Alaor has a similar net but different magical defenses.

The broad plateau upon which most of the empire rests enjoys a continuous mesh of spells.  The tharchs of Tyraturos and Pyarados were originally arid deserts interspersed with mesas.  While they have become far more livable, patches of desert persist, especially along the Slave Way and Eastern Way roads, which are stamped down regularly by humanoids, slaves, and livestock.  The cities of Tyraturos and Pyarados remain on hard packed sand and reach higher temperatures regularly, but haven't complained.  There are far more fields across these tharchs than maps tend to reveal but they are used for hardier crops that can withstand more heat and dryness.  

The tharchs of Lapendrar, Eltabbar, and Delhumide have shown the most improvement due to the weather project.  On the westward side of the Thaymount, deposits of ash make for incredibly fruitful soil.  Delhumide has seen enough death and magic for its land to respond well to water, but some of the crops that grow there have unusual side effects.  Lapendrar has grudgingly enjoyed the improvements the program has brought, especially in the lower cities of Nethjet and Nethentir (which were acquired later, in 1086, and continue to resist Thayan influence more than anywhere else).  The area's farmers have taken advantage of the good fortune while they have been able to, knowing that if rebel factions incense the Red Wizards enough, the rains could be turned off for good - or worse.

The sheer number and power of the effects going into Thay's weather shields make them inscrutable by any means short of epic level magic.  They are blinding when detect magic or similar spells are aimed at them, and divinations encounter as much interference.  No one will ever know how many spies and traitors have been executed before they could give away information related to this protection - nor is it likely they will ever be found.  Regardless of its expense or secrecy, most Thayans are quite proud of their bulwark against nature.  They know that it is one of the grandest magical undertakings in the history of Faerun, so any remarks about Thay's fine weather are more than just small talk, especially with foreigners.

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