Dwendalian Empire

The Dwendalian Empire is a nation on the continent of Wildemount, dominating the western half of the region of Wynandir. Founded almost thirteen generations before the events of Campaign 2,[2][3] the Empire has slowly encompassed territory on the continent and continues to seek opportunities to expand its influence.[4] The capital of the Dwendalian Empire is Rexxentrum,[5] a massive city more than twice the size of Emon.[6]

Geography[edit | edit source]

Official art of map of the Dwendalian Empire, by Deven Rue.[art 2]
Official map of the Dwendalian Empire, by Deven Rue from Explorer's Guide to Wildemount.[art 3]

The Empire is landlocked aside from the very far north waters of the Frigid Depths, which holds ice floes and treacherous waters.[7] In the north are the Dunrock Mountains, where the Quannah Breach leads to the Greying Wildlands. To the east are the Ashkeeper Peaks forming the boundary with Xhorhas; to the west are the Cyrios Mountains. In the south where these mountain ranges come together is the Wuyun Gorge holding the Wuyun Gates, the passageway to the Menagerie Coast.[8]

Dunrock Mountains[edit | edit source]

Crispvale[edit | edit source]

Labenda Swamp[edit | edit source]

The Labenda Swamp is a thick marshland that surrounds the town of Berleben and the Ounterloch.[13]

Marrow Valley[edit | edit source]

The Marrow Valley is a formerly independent[2] region, now under the control of the Dwendalian Empire. The valley runs up to the Quannah Breach.[15] Notable locations include:

  • Alfield:[16] A small rural town between Trostenwald and Zadash that engages in both farming and mining.[17]
  • Ashguard Garrison: One of the two major garrisons guarding the frontier of the Dwendalian Empire against incursions from Xhorhas through the Brokenveil Bluffs.
  • Felderwin: the hometown of Nott the Brave of the Mighty Nein.[18] A major farming community, it is the source of a significant portion of the Empire's food supply.
  • Rockguard Garrison: The more northern of the two garrisons posted in the mountains bordering Xhorhas.
  • Talonstadt: A refugee tent city on the eastern edge of the Marrow Valley, close to the border of Xhorhas and south of Bladegarden. It is primarily inhabited by Ravenites refugees from Draconia, destroyed in 811 PD.
  • Trostenwald: The town where the Mighty Nein first met. It is known primarily for its three well-known breweries, so much so that outside of Trostenwald an ale is often simply called a "trost".[19]
  • Zadash:[20] A medium-sized[21] city that was formerly the capital of the Julous Dominion. It is now the geographic center of the Dwendalian Empire.

Zemni Fields[edit | edit source]

The Zemni Fields are the birthplace of the Dwendalian Empire.[2] The Zemnian language and the culture of the Empire itself grew from a society known as Zeidel,[22] one of approximately three extremely erudite societies in the Age of Arcanum that had harnessed brumestone crystals to make their major cities hover aloft[23] and that could travel across Exandria. As far as most people know, all of these cities had been wiped out during the Calamity.[24] Halas was a mage from Zeidel."Dinner with the Devil" (2x110).

  • Blumenthal: The childhood home of Caleb Widogast, a farming center, and the main source of Rexxentrum's produce and meat.[25]
  • Bysaes Tyl: An elven city that agreed to submit to imperial rule in exchange for some limited autonomy. It was founded by refugees from the disaster which befell the Savalirwood.
  • Druvenlode: One of the larger mining cities in the Empire. It is located south of Rexxentrum along the Amber Road.
  • Icehaven: A remote port town built on the wintry shores of the Frigid Depths, on the far northern side of the Zemni Fields.[26]
  • Pride's Call: A location known for its production of a unique silk and populated by hill dwarves.[27]
  • Rexxentrum: The massive capital city of the Empire.[5] Home to King Bertrand Dwendal as well as most of the members of the Cerberus Assembly.
  • Ruins of Shattengrod: A former quarry of the dwarves of Pride's Call, its excavation uncovered a very ancient ruin.[28]
  • Yrrosa: a sizable but ramshackle township where the crime syndicate known as the Myriad was founded.[29]

Truscan Vale[edit | edit source]

The Truscan Vale is the far western area of the Empire, overseen by the Truscan family under King Dwendal. It is bordered on the north by the Bromkiln Hills and Cyrios Mountains, and on the south by the Cyrengreen Forest. It is known to be one of the richest areas of the Empire.[30]

Amber Road[edit | edit source]

The Amber Road is a major north-south highway from the Wuyun Gates to Rexxentrum[34] that passes through Zadash, Alfield, and Trostenwald.

Wuyun Gorge[edit | edit source]

The Wuyun Gorge is a large ravine between the Cyrios Mountains and the Ashkeeper Peaks. Within this ravine, the Wuyun Gates guard the passageway between the Marrow Valley of the Empire and the Menagerie Coast.[35]

Overseas territories[edit | edit source]

Environment[edit | edit source]

The climate in the central part of the Dwendalian Empire is similar to that of the real world's Central Europe and Western Russia. Farther south is warmer.[37] In addition to its towns and cities, the empire contains several wilderness areas, including the following:

Wilderness areas[edit | edit source]

Society[edit | edit source]

Demographics[edit | edit source]

Trostenwald is a small town in the Marrow Valley, with Alfield to the north being even smaller. Zadash, the second-largest city in the Dwendalian Empire, is the geographic center of the Marrow Valley and the Empire.

In Zadash, and other regions previously ruled by the Julous Dominion before being conquered by the Dwendalian Empire, some of the traditional cultural practices and beliefs were merged and adjusted to enable a more stable integration with the laws and rules of the empire.[38][39] This is reflected by the fact that the peoples of the empire and those that enforced its rule were progressively more tolerant and willing to bend the rules as one moved further away from Rexxentrum towards the outskirts of the empire.[40]

Politics[edit | edit source]

King Bertrand Dwendal was the head of state in both the first and second campaigns of Critical Role (811-835 PD).[41] The law of King Dwendal is absolute throughout the kingdom, and his rule is supported by the political agitations favoring his rule, which are instituted with the help of Trent Ikithon and spread by a system of town criers.[42]

Whether or not he created the law himself, King Bertrand has enforced the kingdom's ban on necromancy and was prepared to seize the estate and lands of Sylas and Delilah Briarwood when they were accused of practicing the forbidden magic. The local citizens took matters in their own hands and a mob razed the Briarwood homestead to the ground, leaving the couple presumed dead.[43]

In exchange for protecting its citizens, the Dwendalian Empire requires rigid adherence to its many laws, including those of taxation and religion. The Crown is far-reaching and installs even remote local leadership (known as "Lawmasters", such as Norda in Trostenwald). As of 835 PD, the past century had been fairly peaceful; but tension and anti-Crown sentiment had been building.[44][45]

Relations with the Kryn Dynasty[edit | edit source]

The Dwendalian kings have declared the divine magic and most religious worship to be trickery and deceit. The Kryn Dynasty’s worship of the Luxon, therefore, was considered deeply threatening. In 8th century, the Cerberus Assembly, the powerful mage faction that advises the throne, joined King Bertrand Dwendal to proclaim the Dynasty as evil, undermining the Imperia lands. The fear this stoked helped king and assembly keep the people of the Empire under totalitarian control for decades.[46] In external affairs, the Empire left the dynasty to its own devices.[47] However, there has been constant unrest at the border.[2][48] The creature Kylre, who caused multiple deaths in the town of Trostenwald, was presumed to have come from Xhorhas.[49]

The tension heightened when two of the Luxon beacons, the Kryn’s most precious artifacts, went missing, and the Kryn sent two soldiers to the Imperial city of Zadash to attempt their recovery. The attempt went bad, the Empire declared war, armies deployed from both sides.[46]

Tithe collectors[edit | edit source]

Every six months, tithe collectors (known to the commoners as "Reapers") go through the empire, each usually escorted by a couple of Crownsguard. They are recognizable by their black cloaks with gold trim. Not only do they do a thorough job of collecting taxes from citizens and businesses; they also use this as an opportunity to look for any anti-government activities or sentiment.[50]

Royal assassins[edit | edit source]

The Volstrucker[51] (known colloquially as "Scourgers") are regarded by most Dwendalian citizens as ghost stories and urban legends told to children as bogeymen to warn against disobeying parents or staying out too late. Only the Empire's elite are aware that the Scourgers truly exist. Even the Expositors of the Cobalt Soul have difficulty verifying the truth about the Scourgers. The Scourgers answer directly to the Dwendalian crown.

The Augen Trust[edit | edit source]

The Dwendalian crown's spy network is called the Augen Trust.[52]

Nobility and influential families[edit | edit source]

There are several noble houses in the Empire, whose influence is determined by their wealth, their relationship with the royal family, and their political and geographical position ruling certain lands.

Some of the noble houses are the following:

  • House Brentahill: Noble family involved in the textile commerce in Pride's Call.[53]
  • House Darrington: Now-impoverished baronial family affiliated with the Darrington Brigade.[54][55]
  • House Dummaroff: Dwarven family ruling Grimgolir with a council that includes several lords and ladies and the Crown-appointed starosta.[56]
  • House Graf: Influential family with diplomatic contacts.[57]
  • House Jaipher: Noble family with its own barony, very influential in King Dwendal's court.[58]
  • House Lorelei: Helped the Empire in the Marrow War, in return obtaining lands near the Cyrengreen Forest.[59]
  • House Sauer: Minor noble family from Druvenlode.[60]
  • House Saugiss: Noble family related to the royal family through the marriage of Suria Saugiss and Prince Eidys.[61]
  • House Seledo: Noble family in Rexxentrum.[62]
  • House Sutan: Prominent family from Zadash, now disgraced due to its Lord's corruption.[63]
  • House Truscan: Longtime allies of the Dwendalian bloodline, and unofficial rulers of most of the Truscan Vale.[64]

There are also some families and clans that, even though they lack a title or a settlement, have gained prominence in different ways:

Military[edit | edit source]

Crownsguard[edit | edit source]

The Crownsguard is a paramilitary gendarmerie that serves as the primary law enforcement arm of the Dwendalian Empire, as well as its military reserve. They are sent throughout each major city in order to keep the peace, while also acting as a national secret police that observes and eliminates any opponents to King Bertrand Dwendal's reign. Their standard uniform and equipment consists of vermilion or maroon robes, bronze scale mail breast and arm plates, a shield, greaves, a helmet, a crossbow, and a basic longsword.

Righteous Brand[edit | edit source]

The Righteous Brand is the military of the Dwendalian Empire. They wear plate mail with a silver and dark crimson design.[70] They (along with the Crownsguard) are trained in Bladegarden.

Legionnaires[edit | edit source]

Legionnaires are mercenaries contracted by cities, typically through the respective lawmaster. Legionnaires are payed a weekly stipend of 15 gp per week to be keep on retainer and are the first to be given contracts for high-value bounties. These bounties include finding dangerous criminals, acquiring resources for the Empire, and exterminating dangerous creatures.[71]

Laws[edit | edit source]

As judged by the eyes of the local lawmaster, appointed hands of the lawmaster, or the The Lawbearer herself, any criminals discovered and/or convicted of crimes within local halls of judgement throughout the empire are subject to punishment befitting the crime. All fines and punishments for crimes against a Crownsguard member, Righteous Brand soldier, or noble are doubled. All fines and punishments regarding crimes against an imperial official of the Cerberus Assembly are tripled.[57]

  • Theft: 5-10 days incarceration and/or a fine of twice the worth of the stolen goods.
  • Worship of Non-Empire Gods: 30 days incarceration and a fine of 250 gp.
  • Slavery: 12-20 months incarceration and a fine of 1800 gp.
  • Trespassing: 12 days incarceration and/or fine of 215 gp.
  • Tax Evasion: 5-30 days incarceration and a repossession of property equal to the amount owed.
  • Damage to Private Property: 5-15 days incarceration or a fine of twice the worth of property damaged.
  • Damage to Crown Property: 15-60 days incarceration and a fine of twice the worth of property damaged.
  • Kidnapping: 60 days incarceration and/or a fine of 800 gp.
  • Assault with Intent to Injure: 30 days incarceration and/or a fine of 350 gp.
  • Assault with Intent to Kill: 250 days incarceration and/or a fine of 1800 gp, or execution.
  • Murder: 8-15 years incarceration, and/or a fine of 6000 gp, or execution.
  • Treason: Execution.

Religion[edit | edit source]

Around 545 PD, shortly after the end of the Marrow War, there was a rebellion within the former Julous Dominion against the Empire and Emperor Manfried Dwendal, led in large part by priests using their position to incite rebellion amongst their congregations. Manfried, in response, attempted to completely outlaw all religious activity, but this only worsened the rebellion. Ultimately, the Empire chose to limit worship to a few approved gods whose domains fit within the Empire's mission, all of which are non-chaotic Prime Deities.[72]

Worship of unapproved deities (e.g. The Changebringer) results in imprisonment on charges of "idol worship".[73][74] In Zadash, heralds run each shrine and are part of the government structure. They give sermons and counsel to anyone who requires it.[75] As of 835 PD, the approved deities were:[76]

History[edit | edit source]

The Zemnian people were left desolated by the events of the Calamity, struggling to survive in the harsh climate of north Western Wynandir. With the founding of the city of Rexxentrum, civilization once more began to grow, and eventually in 539 PD, Manfried Dwendal became the first Emperor of the newly-established Dwendalian Empire.[1]

Expansion[edit | edit source]

The Dwendalian Empire spread to encompass its neighbors - namely, the peoples of the Zemni Fields and the Marrow Valley - before finally conquering the Julous Dominion in about 545 PD. With the Empire's victory in the Marrow War,[77] all of Western Wynandir was controlled by the Dwendalian Empire.[2] In the tense atmosphere following the end of the war, as a propaganda move hearkening back to the kings and queens of the Age of Arcanum, Emperor Manfried Dwendal proclaimed that henceforth he would be known as "King" of the Dwendalian Empire.[78]

Zadash was the last remaining bastion of the previous government over the Marrow Valley. However, eventually it was conquered and the whole Marrow Valley became a province of the Dwendalian Empire. With the conquest of the Marrow Valley, Zadash is now the most central and second largest city in the kingdom. This has made Zadash an important center for travel and trade.

War with Xhorhas[edit | edit source]

On the third of Fessuran 835 PD[79] word reached Starosta Wyatt of Zadash that the Ashguard Garrison at the Brokenveil Bluffs had fallen to the Kryn Empire. With accounts numbering the dead at over a thousand, war was formally declared against the Kryn Dynasty.[80] This conflict became known as the War of Ash and Light.[81] It ended with a peace treaty signed on 11 Unndilar 836 between representatives of the Dynasty and the Empire meeting on ships in the Lucidian Ocean south of the Whitedawn Lagoon.[82]

Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • The word starosta comes from Czech. It refers to a position of the same name within the town/city council that is equal to the position of the mayor in America. It is also translated as such.[83]
    • This conforms with the Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting's description of the Dwendalian Empire's lifestyle and architecture pulling "from 15th century gothic eastern Europe and Russia".[47]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Explorer's Guide to Wildemount, Chapter 1: "Story of Wildemount", p. 15.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 "Curious Beginnings" (2x01) from 17:36 through 19:45. Matthew Mercer gave an overview of the continent and its inhabitants.
  3. Explorer's Guide to Wildemount, Chapter 2: "Factions and Societies", p. 35. It has ruled the region "for over twelve generations".
  4. Explorer's Guide to Wildemount, Chapter 2: "Factions and Societies", p. 36.
  5. 5.0 5.1 "The Gates of Zadash" (2x08) at 2:39:58.
  6. "Disparate Pieces" (2x04) from 3:31:25 through 3:32:00. Matt talks about Rexxentrum.
  7. "Commerce & Chaos" (2x31) at 1:15:09.
  8. "Commerce & Chaos" (2x31) at 1:18:07.
  9. Explorer's Guide to Wildemount, Chapter 3: "Wildemount Gazetteer", p. 104.
  10. "Lingering Wounds" (2x89) at 39:10.
  11. "The Open Road" (2x05) at 3:18:09.
  12. "Have Bird, Will Travel" (2x23) at 2:16:36.
  13. As shown on the official map of Wildemount from Deven Rue.
  14. "Labenda Awaits" (2x20) at 2:39:46.
  15. "Converging Fury" (2x27) at 58:23.
  16. "The Gates of Zadash" (2x08) at 10:09. In his recap, Matt notes that the party are still in the Marrow Fields on their route from Trostenwald to Zadash via Alfield.
  17. Explorer's Guide to Wildemount, Chapter 3: "Wildemount Gazetteer", p. 78.
  18. "A Game of Names" (2x49) at 20:20. Nott tells the Mighty Nein of her past life in Felderwin.
  19. "Curious Beginnings" (2x01) at 28:21.
  20. "The Gates of Zadash" (2x08) at 1:31:01. The party headed deeper into the Marrow Fields en route to Zadash.
  21. "Disparate Pieces" (2x04) at 3:32:00. Liam contrasts the size of Zadash to Rexxentrum.
  22. "Dark Bargains" (2x83) at 33:04.
  23. "Dark Waters" (2x98) at 57:44. Brumestone is a bluish mineral that has the property that a very basic, simple enchantment causes it to lift.
  24. "A Storm of Memories" (2x46) at 1:12:02.
  25. Explorer's Guide to Wildemount, Chapter 3: "Wildemount Gazetteer", p. 96.
  26. Explorer's Guide to Wildemount, Chapter 3: "Wildemount Gazetteer", pp. 99–100.
  27. "Between the Lines" (2x78) from 1:02:06 through 1:03:58.
  28. "Between the Lines" (2x78) at 1:03:30.
  29. Explorer's Guide to Wildemount, Chapter 3: "Wildemount Gazetteer", p. 110.
  30. "Home is Where the Heart Is" (2x92) at 3:11:48.
  31. "Daring Days" (1x86) at 45:30. Matt gives Tary's home city, initially calling it the "Truscan Empire".
  32. "One Year Later..." (1x95) at 1:24:05. Matt corrects Truscan Empire to Truscan region and Dwendalian Empire.
  33. "Dalen's Closet" (OSx33).[citation needed]
  34. As shown on the official map of Wildemount from Deven Rue.
  35. "Beyond the Boundaries" (2x32) at 1:52:25.
  36. Explorer's Guide to Wildemount, Chapter 3: "Wildemount Gazetteer", p. 155.
  37. Matthew Mercer clarified the climate for Wildemount and the Dwendalian Empire (source).
  38. "The Gates of Zadash" (2x08) from 2:37:39 through 2:38:55. Matt gives a brief history of Zadash.
  39. "The Gates of Zadash" (2x08) at 2:38:07.
  40. "The Gates of Zadash" (2x08) at 2:39:47.
  41. "Curious Beginnings" (2x01) at 18:13.
  42. Explorer's Guide to Wildemount, Chapter 2: "Factions and Societies", p. 42.
  43. "A Musician's Nostalgia" (1x37) from 1:02:33 through 1:03:18.
  44. "Curious Beginnings" (2x01) at 18:08.
  45. "Steam and Conversation" (2x09) from 56:20 through 1:06:22. Beau and Fjord attend a meeting of discontents.
  46. 46.0 46.1 Exquisite Exandria, p. 209.
  47. 47.0 47.1 Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting, p. 99.
  48. "The Howling Mines" (2x06) from 41:37 through 44:53. Bryce complains about the incursions from Xhorhas.
  49. "The Midnight Chase" (2x03) at 1:06:12. Molly recalls hearing about toad-like demons from Xhorhas.
  50. "The Hour of Honor" (2x24) from 3:18:45 through 3:19:30.
  51. "Domestic Respite" (2x62) at 3:40:28. Matt uses the term Volstrucker at 3:42:32.
  52. "Dark Waters" (2x98) at 22:59.
  53. Explorer's Guide to Wildemount, Chapter 3: "Wildemount Gazetteer", p. 103.
  54. "Masquerade" (1x99) at 1:13:03.
  55. "The Adventures of the Darrington Brigade" (OSx35) at 16:01.
  56. Explorer's Guide to Wildemount, Chapter 3: "Wildemount Gazetteer", p. 86.
  57. 57.0 57.1 Explorer's Guide to Wildemount, Chapter 2: "Factions and Societies", p. 38.
  58. "Taryon, My Wayward Son" (1x97) at 3:41:07.
  59. "Liam's One-Shot: The Song of the Lorelei" (OSx23) at 8:40.
  60. Explorer's Guide to Wildemount, Chapter 3: "Wildemount Gazetteer", p. 110.
  61. 61.0 61.1 Explorer's Guide to Wildemount, Chapter 2: "Factions and Societies", p. 37.
  62. Explorer's Guide to Wildemount, Chapter 3: "Wildemount Gazetteer", p. 107.
  63. "Fleeting Memories" (2x14) at 42:49.
  64. Explorer's Guide to Wildemount, Chapter 3: "Wildemount Gazetteer", p. 83.
  65. Explorer's Guide to Wildemount, Chapter 3: "Wildemount Gazetteer", p. 84.
  66. "Found & Lost" (2x26) at 2:08:38.
  67. Explorer's Guide to Wildemount, Chapter 3: "Wildemount Gazetteer", p. 81.
  68. "The Fancy and the Fooled" (2x97) at 49:53.
  69. "The Fancy and the Fooled" (2x97) at 3:02:13.
  70. "Harvest Close" (2x17) at 47:10.
  71. "Whispers of War" (2x18) at 3:19:24.
  72. "Lingering Wounds" (2x89) from 2:31:30 through 2:33:30.
  73. "Curious Beginnings" (2x01) at 18:53.
  74. "The Hour of Honor" (2x24) at 3:17:52.
  75. "Steam and Conversation" (2x09) from 42:53 through 43:03.
  76. "Steam and Conversation" (2x09) at 46:11.
  77. "Lingering Wounds" (2x89) at 2:32:03.
  78. Explorer's Guide to Wildemount, Chapter 1: "Story of Wildemount", p. 16.
  79. "A Favor in Kind" (2x16) at 2:59:58.
  80. "Harvest Close" (2x17) at 2:25:32.
  81. Explorer's Guide to Wildemount, "Welcome to Wildemount", p. 6.
  82. "High Seas, High Stakes" (2x99) at 3:29:37.
  83. Starosta on Wikipedia


  1. Official art of the Dwendalian Empire Crest, by CoupleOfKooks from Explorer's Guide to Wildemount, p. 36. This file is a copyrighted work. Its use in this article is asserted to qualify as fair use of the material under United States copyright law.
  2. Official art of map of the Dwendalian Empire, by Deven Rue (source). This file is a copyrighted work. Its use in this article is asserted to qualify as fair use of the material under United States copyright law.
  3. Official map of the Dwendalian Empire, by Deven Rue from Explorer's Guide to Wildemount. This file is unofficial Fan Content permitted under the Wizards of the Coast Fan Content Policy. Not approved/endorsed by Wizards. Portions of the materials used are property of Wizards of the Coast. ©Wizards of the Coast LLC.