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Netheril was an ancient human magocracy until its fall 1831 years before the events of Baldur's Gate 3.[1] Netherese arcanists were powerful enough to create flying enclaves - remarkable floating cities. Their empire was lost in the event that is now known as Karsus' Folly.

Karsus' Folly[edit | edit source]

A young and powerful netherese mage named Karsus felt that it was his duty to bring the Netherese Empire to its former glory. So he tried to steal divinity from a god to become a god himself. For this he chose Mystryl, who was the Goddes of Magic at that time. He designed a spell named Karsus's avatar that would allow him to steal her divinity. Immediately after he cast the spell, he was overwhelmed with the divine power he received and realized his fatal mistake - he stole magic from the one god he shouldn't have.[2]

When Mystryl lost her ability to keep the Weave intact, the Magic became unstable. To save the Weave, Mystryl sacrificed herself before the damage became irreparable. This broke Karsus’s link to her magic and obstructed the weave, causing all magic to briefly cease functioning. Without magic the floating cities of Netheril fell along with Karsus himself, who died knowing he destroyed his beloved empire and killed everyone he ever loved.

Mystryl later reincarnated as Mystra, the new goddess of magic.

Karsus was perhaps the most powerful wizard that ever lived. The-child-who-would-be-a-god the elves called him. And he tried. With a spell of his own devising he endevoured to usurp in one fell swoop the power of the goddess of magic. Mystryl, she was called then. Imagine what it must have felt like. To be a god. To know yourself to be untouchable. To be mistaken. As Karsus aimed his spell at her, she began to unravel, and with her, the entire Weave. Too late did he realise what he had unleashed. It would have been the end of everything had not Mystryl sacrificed herself. The goddess of magic is all magic. By dying, the entire Weave was lost, and the spell that challenged a god failed. It was of Mystyl, the end of Karsus, and the end of an entire civilization. As the-child-who-would-be-a-god was turned to stone his empire came crashing down around him. The floating cities of Netheril were no more. An event that came to be known as Karsus' Folly.
— Gale on Karsus's Folly

Netherese orb[edit | edit source]

Now, so many centuries later, I tried to follow in the footsteps of Karsus, not to destroy Mystra, but to prove my love for her. I tried to control only a fraction of magic that was unleashed that day. I merely sought to return one tiny diamond to an imperfect crown. Gale's Folly one might call it.
— Gale on his own mistake

Gale, longing to impress Mystra, begged her to give him access to forbidden levels of magic, which she repeatedly refused. He sought out a tome containing a scrap of Netherese Weave, hoping to impress his goddess by returning it to her. However, when he opened the book, something shot from the book into his chest, and his body became an unwitting host to an extremely destructive Netherese orb. To keep the orb inhabiting and corrupting his body in check, Gale must continually sate it with powerful magical artefacts - if he fails, the orb will detonate, bearing enough destructive power to bring down even whole cities, and Gale with them. As a punishment for his hubris, Gale lost his position as Chosen, and Mystra ceased contact with him.

Legacy[edit | edit source]

The world is filled with ancient ruins of fallen Netherese cities. The magic items created in the old Netheril are extremely powerful and valuable, as they were created in a period when magic was at its highest, before Mystra restricted magic for mortals to only 9 levels.

Arcane Tower resembles the technologies the Netherese once had, and the books on its shelves suggest Lenore studied them when she created that tower.

Thultanthar and Shadovar[edit | edit source]

One of the enclaves - Thultanthar - survived. After a thousand years in Shadowfell it became known as The City of Shade. Most of its residents became shades and they colloquialy were called Shadovar and they had an affinity for Shadow Magic.

They sought to create a new Netheril in their image. 5 years prior to the events of Baldur's Gate 3, Elminster fought Thultanthar in a climactic battle above Myth Drannor. It fell upon Myth Drannor, destroying both cities.

Related spells, items, creatures[edit | edit source]




External links[edit | edit source]

Netheril on the Forgotten Realms Wiki Karsus on the Forgotten Realms Wiki Karsus' Folly on the Forgotten Realms Wiki Thultanthar on the Forgotten Realms Wiki

Notes[edit | edit source]

  1. Karsus' Folly was in −339 DR, the game takes place in 1492 DR
  2. Netheril: Empire of Magic (TSR, Inc.), 1996.