“Please allow me to introduce myself
I’m a man of wealth and taste
I’ve been around for a long, long year
Stole many a man’s soul and faith”
— Rolling Stones, Sympathy for the Devil
Amid the barrenness of the cold North, Neverwinter once stood as a beacon of refuge. Even after the Spellplague wracked Faerûn, the city lost little of its luster. The city of Neverwinter was so named because, even though the town is situated in the cold north of Faerûn, the Neverwinter River that flows through it was heated by fire elementals living under the nearby Mount Hotenow in the Neverwinter Wood. The heat given off from the river creates a permanent warm climate in the immediate area; without the elementals, the river, and subsequently the city’s water supply, would freeze over.
The city was ruled by Lord Nasher Alagondar, an aging, veteran adventurer and devout worshiper of Tyr. As such, although Neverwinter was prosperous, its master-craftsmen making lamps of multi-coloured glass, precision water clocks, clockwork machines, and exquisite jewelry, its Tyrran faith promoted justice and fairness, with greed being frowned upon. Nasher was a good and fair leader, and the people of Neverwinter loved him.
And then came the Spellplauge, an arcane storm that swept over the landscape of Faerûn in 1385. The Spellplague was a disaster caused by Mystra’s assassination at the hands of Cyric and Shar. With the goddess’s death, the Weave, the universal structure of arcane forces, convulsed and started to die. It continued for a decade, leading to the Wailing Years, during which arcane magic ceased to function and the planet of Toril was transformed forever, exactly as fortold by the see named Alaundo long ago.
Then Mount Hotenow, deep in Neverwinter Wood, awoke with the power of a wrathful god. The city could do nothing. The ground yawned open and broke apart. Whole districts shuddered and sank while other areas shot up, forming sudden cliffs. The river, running warm throughout winter, exploded into hissing steam and lava as scalding clouds of ash roared through the streets like an advancing army. Thousands lost their lives as Neverwinter died that day in 1451 D.R. including Lord Nasher and the entire Alagondar royal family.
The city remained a battlefield for nearly two decades. Since that day of cataclysm the tone of the North changed. It is almost as if that one event sounded a clarion call for sinister creatures. With the loss of Neverwinter, the frontier returned to its savage nature. Waterdeep was the only remaining bastion of civility and it was too far to the South to be as effective for survivors in the region where Neverwinter smoldered in ruins.
In 1479, Dagult Neverember, Open Lord of Waterdeep, seeing an opportunity to add to his financial empire, would hire artisans and carpenters to help rebuild the city and mercenaries to protect it from monsters; he would eventually create the title of Lord Protector of Neverwinter, held by Neverember himself. However, it is questioned whether Dagult is the rightful ruler, as many factions vie for Neverwinter and the citizens are divided in loyalties.
Neverwinter flourished under the caring hand of Dagult. The city gained a foothold as Lord Neverember’s mercenaries patrolled the streets and rebuilt the city. Neverember ostensibly took his role as Protector seriously, sending his men to oust the orcs in the River District, repel plaguechanged monstrosities at the Wall, and otherwise keep the peace. Dagault endeavored to lure home and win over Neverwinter’s refugee population. He focused on rebuilding the city, maintaining order and trade, and putting coin back into residents’ hands to make Neverwinter great again and to bring stability back to the North.
However, not everyone was happy with Dagault’s efforts. His main opposition was a small faction calling themselves The Sons of Alagondar, a group heavily supported by The Harpers. These rebels had sworn their diligence to Neverwinter alone. The Sons of Alagondar rebels are nationalists. They trace their lineage back to Lord Nasher Alagondar’s servants before the cataclysm. The order waged a war of ideas, constantly mustering public opinion against Neverember and trying to do whatever they could to push the Protector back to Waterdeep. Members believe in honor and in restoring Neverwinter to what it once was – a symbol of peace and goodness in the savage North.
And that’s there Asmodeus gained a toehold in Neverwinter. The Sons of Alagondar were strong in ideals but weak in number. They were repeatedly unsuccessful in trying to oust Neverember from their city. So when the Sons of Alagondar were at their lowest, in 1489, they were approached by a man named Mordai Vell, leader of the Neverwinter Ashmadai, worshipers of Asmodeus. It was not long before two groups joined forces. While Neverember remained in Waterdeep, trying to work with the Lord’s Alliance to stop the Cult of the Dragon, Neverwinter was ripe for the taking.
Asmodeus came to power after the events known as “The Rise of Tiamat” in 1489. Dagult Neverember was in a weakened political, emotional, and physical state. He had failed in his efforts to stop the Cult of the Dragon, he has lost his beloved Neverwinter Nine to Tiamat, he was humiliated in front of his peers as being removed from his position as the Open Lord of Waterdeep, and his neglect of Neverwinter generated doubt that he could properly do his job as Protector of the City.
The inevitable outcome was that Dagult Neverember literally struck a deal with the devil. Although the exact nature of the agreement is still unknown, it is public knowledge that Neverember stepped down as Lord Protector and assumed the role of Mayor and Judge of the Neverwinter Hall of Justice. In turn, the Sons of Alagondar provided the new King of Neverwinter: Thorn Alagondar. He took his placed a the new King of Neverwinter, wearing the newly discovered crown that had been lost since 1385 when Nasher died in the Spellplauge’s storm.
Unknown to most of Neverwinter, Thorn is actually Asmodeus. The archdevil assumed the alias with the support of both Sons and Ashmadai. Since the time of Asmodeus’s reign began in Neverwinter, the city has surged with life and prosperity. Helm’s Hold has been restored as a great and powerful monastery, and the Plaugestorm Chasm that rent the city’s center has been sealed by powerful magic. The High Road has been cleared and rebuilt, and trade has resumed with Waterdeep and realms to the South. What was the blasted, wounded city of Neverwinter just a decade ago is now an exciting, humming place, where folk seem eager to throw off the hardships from which they have emerged and create a new.
Although Neverember hates to admit it, the power of Asmodeus has done what he could not with his coin and charisma. According to demonologists Asmodeus is able to reveal to men the hidden secrets and treasures of the mother earth, besides giving them the ability to become invisible. When one exorcises him, one must be steadfast and call him by name. He gives rings influenced by astronomical bodies, advises men on making themselves invisible, and instructs men in the art of geometry, arithmetic, astronomy, and the mechanical arts. However, his greatest power seems to have been to grant Neverember’s single wish: to heal Neverwinter.
Asmodeus possesses material wealth greater than entire mortal worlds. His clothing is so valuable that a single garment worn by Asmodeus is worth more than an average nation will spend on food in a year. With the recent edition of what is being called “The Hoard of the Dragon Queen” he has acquired multiple magical items, relics, and artifacts once thought to have been lost. All of this wealth has been housed in the city of Neverember within its newly restored Castle.
Asmodeus is the most powerful of infernal beings. He is impervious to mundane attacks and requires powerful magics to slay. A powerful aura of submission surrounds him, making most who approach him slaves to his will. Since the time of the Spellplauge, Asmodeus has made it his business to collect the essence of dying gods. For example, he consumed the divine spark of Azuth in order to gain great arcane powers. Rumor has it that he has been able to do this because he possesses an ancient device that catches and holds the very soul of dying gods before they pass on to the Astral Plane. The device is called “The Well of Souls.” ⊕
Asmodeus carries a powerful unique artifact, the Ruby Rod, that allows him to use several powerful offensive and defensive spells. The Rod allows Asmodeus to attack with elemental forces, force his enemies to cower in fear, or cover himself with a field which heals and protects him. It is also a powerful melee weapon that can cause grievous wounds with the merest touch. The Ruby Rod is a believed to be a fragment of the shard of pure Evil that created the Abyss. Interestingly enough, Asmodeus keeps the Rod at hand even when he assumes the form of Thorn, although the Rod appears as a powerful, glowing mace.
Finally, Asmodeus is an ancient schemer and deadly manipulator, orchestrator of the most Machiavellian of schemes. He lays plans millennia in advance, patiently biding his time until his machinations come to fruition. For example, he aided Tiamat in her rise from the Nine Hells and gained much wealth and power in exchange for his part in the plot, including assuming the guise of King Thorn.
Thorn’s influence radiates outward throughout the region. With the restoration of nearby Gauntlgrym under the rulership of King Battlehammer, Neverwinter hopes to have a close ally that can provide it with stout armor and strong weapons. Trade activity is rapidly growing in Neverwinter, as word of its rebirth opens it up to shipping from the Sea of Swords, goods from the north, and coin from the south. With its stockpile of powerful artifacts, many seek to make the journey in the hopes of claiming the magical items for themselves. Adventurers come to Neverwinter seeking work and following rumors of undiscovered treasures, and often find additional employment clearing out dangerous corners of the undercity, exploring the Underdark, and escorting the ever more numerous caravans up and down the High Road.
It is the Mayor Neverember’s hope that, with commerce and income both on the rise, Neverwinter will stand strong for its people, and that his sacrifice will be worth the cost.