Well met, traveler!
Welcome to the latest in the popular series of guidebooks penned by Volothamp Geddarm. You hold in your hands and overview of the most important inns, taverns, shops, and tourist attractions in the western Heartlands, the coast of which is known as the Sword Coast. These lands begin south of fabled Waterdeep and the Savage Frontier, continue up the northern boarders of Amn, and reach east as far as the desert's edge and Tunland. This perilous region sees some of the heaviest caravan traffic in all the Realms.
Every merchant who enters the lands of the Sword Coast should have a copy of this guide ready at hand. As usual, all features and establishments covered are ranked with Volo's handy coin, dagger, pipe, and tankard ratings system.
- Where pirates go to drink the night away and plot which ships and ports they'll next strike
- The best craftsfolk of the Sword Coast
- Where the best caravan masters can be found-and where they dare not go
- Local legends and rumors of rich treasures not yet found and plundered
- Haunted ruins and other places that must be seen-from a safe distance
- Where mighty wizards and sword-swinging adventurers dwell
- Dragon lairs-and the dwelling places of worse monsters!
Suitable for all levels of play.
Special Note: This volume of the Volo's Guides, intended for travelers from beyond the borders of Faerûn, contains notes and commentary by the famous archmage and sage Elminster.
Volo's Guide to the Sword Coast, by Ed Greenwood, is the third book in the Volo's Guide series. It was published in November 1994.
Continuing the Volo Guides. Like its predecessors, Volo's Guide to the Sword Coast is an in-character book supposedly written by Volothamp Geddarm (with help from Elminster the Sage) that offers a travel guide to a portion of the Realms. It also contains a bit of D&D rules crunch, thanks to the inclusion of NPCs, wards, and magic items from the area. Volo's Guide to the Sword Coast was published as a digest-sized book, something that was quite rare at the time.
Expanding the Realms. This Guide specifically covers the southern portion of the Sword Coast, south of Waterdeep and north of Amn. That includes the major city of Baldur's Gate as well as other important areas like Berdusk, Candlekeep, Daggerford, Dragonspear Castle, Elturel, Hill's Edge, Iriaebor, and Scornubel. The Sword Coast was overall the first area of the Forgotten Realms developed by Ed Greenwood; starting in 1966 he wrote the adventures of the mischievous merchant Mirt, in this area. However, most of those adventures actually occurred in the Sword Coast North, beyond Waterdeep—but he did travel to Baldur's Gate, too.
When Greenwood's D&D players began to adventure in the Forgotten Realms, around 1978, they similarly focused on Waterdeep and lands north. However, after guarding some caravans in the north, they were eventually drawn to southern caravan cities like Berdusk, Elturel, Iriaebor, and Scornubel.
Greenwood touched upon some of the southern Sword Coast lands in early issues of Dragon, well before the Realms became a D&D setting. Berdusk was mentioned in "Law of the Land" in Dragon #65 (September 1982); Scornubuel was referenced in "Seven Swords" in Dragon #74 (June 1983); Baldur's Gate turned up in both "The Ecology of the Basilisk" in Dragon #81 (January 1984) and "The Ecology of the Ixitxachitl" in Dragon #85 (May 1984); and Iriaebor premiered in "The Cult of the Dragon" in Dragon #110 (June 1986). It was an eclectic collection of articles that showed how many different things Greenwood was writing about, before the Realms appeared as an in-house setting.
The southern Sword Coast got a starring role in the first-ever original Forgotten Realms adventure for TSR: N5: "Under Illefarn" (1987) was set in the small town of Daggerford, which has frequently been used as an introductory adventure location over the years. Despite that, the southern Sword Coast has never gotten a lot of attention—it's generally been more of a place to travel through than the focus of adventure. With one exception...
Future History. More recently, a fair amount of attention has been focused on the city of Baldur's Gate. That's primarily due to the computer games: Baldur's Gate (1998), Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn (2000), and a series of expansions and revisions for that franchise. Greenwood himself supported the games with Volo's Guide to Baldur's Gate II (2000), although that book is really more of a guide to Amn than the eponymous city.
About the Creators. Ed Greenwood is, of course, the creator of the Realms. Around the same time that he was working on Volo's Guide to the Sword Coast, he was also writing the Crown of Fire (1994) novel, while his source material was being used as the basis of City of Splendors, which of course is also set on the Sword Coast.
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 email@example.com.