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FR3 Empires of the Sands (1e)

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In the southeast corner of Faerûn, a thousand miles south of Waterdeep on the great Trade Way road, lie three lands known collectively as the Empires of the Sands. They are harsh lands that have produced tough people—proud, fierce, and hardworking.

The Empires of the Sands are now fully detailed for your role-playing campaign. The cultures, personalities, economies, cities, towns, and wilderness are described for an AD&D campaign of any size or level. Amn, land of merchants, where everything has a price; Tethyr, where evil grows and petty tyrants vie for a vacant throne; and Calimshan, a dry land where great magic is commonplace. All are waiting for you.

This sourcebook includes all the information you need to establish an exciting campaign.

Product History

FR3: "Empires of the Sands" (1988), by Scott Haring, is the third book in the "FR" series of sourcebooks for the Forgotten Realms. It was released in February 1988.

Continuing the "FR" Sourcebooks. TSR's first regional sourcebooks, the Known World's "GAZ" books (1987-1991) were laser-sharp in their focus. Book after book, each one detailed one country within the Known World.

However the "FR" Forgotten Realms sourcebooks that followed were a bit more varied … and perhaps that's not surprising, because the idea of geographic sourcebooks was still very new. Within the early series, FR1: "Waterdeep and the North" (1987) covered a city, FR2: "Moonshae" (1987) covered a set of islands, and then FR3: "Empires of the Sands" (1988) came along and detailed three complete countries. It was the largest expansion of the Forgotten Realms since the release of the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting (1987) itself.

Despite the fact that "Empires of the Sands" has less space to detail each country, there's still a fair amount of general information on each locale, including notes on geography, government, history and politics. There are also details of cities and other points of interest in each country.

Expanding the Realms. "Empires of the Sands" describes Amn, Tethyr, and Calimshan, three countries in western Faerûn — just south of the Sword Coast, which had been the focus of most of the Realms' publications to date.

As with much of the Realms, the three countries originated in Ed Greenwood's home setting. Both Calimshan and Tethyr were mentioned years earlier in "Seven Swords", an article heavy with Realms background that appeared in Dragon #74 (June 1983).

Calimshan was also a popular locale for other early Realms novelists. The halfing trader Regis from the "Icewind Dale Trilogy" (1988-1990) comes from Calimshan as does the houndmaster Daryth in "The Moonshae Trilogy (1987-1989). Amusingly, both were actually thieves fleeing from the Pasha Pool of Calimport.

However, those early details were pretty minimal, so Haring was able to provide considerable new information on the three countries, most of which had never been seen before by Forgotten Realms fans.

  • Amn, or The Merchant's Domain, is the most important country to the rest of Forgotten Realms because of its mighty mercantile power. It's largely seen as an analogue of Moorish Spain.
  • Tethyr is a feudal nation best known for its chaotic lack of a central government.
  • Calimshan is an Arabic-like land that has the feel of the Arabian Nights, thanks to its djinni, dao, efreeti, jann, and marid and its magical items.

Future History. The land of Calimshan became somewhat redundant with the release of Al-Qadim Arabian Adventures (1992), another Arabic-influenced Realm. This caused some revamps to Calimshan when it was next revisited.

That occurred in the late '90s when Steven Schend put together Lands of Intrigue (1997) and Empires of the Shining Sea (1998), which together revamped the background material on these three countries (and other nearby lands); therein, Calimshan was revised to have feel more like the Ottoman Empire.

Meanwhile, Amn was well-represented in two computer games: Baldur's Gate (1998) and Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn (2000). This led Ed Greenwood to offer his first published take on the area: Volo's Guide to Baldur's Gate II (2000).

About the Creators. Scott Haring joined TSR staff's in Fall 1987; this was his first major project. He would produce a few more books over the next three years, but he's better known for his years of work at Steve Jackson Games.

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

We (Wizards) recognize that some of the legacy content available on this website does not reflect the values of the Dungeons & Dragons franchise today. Some older content may reflect ethnic, racial, and gender prejudice that were commonplace in American society at that time. These depictions were wrong then and are wrong today. This content is presented as it was originally created, because to do otherwise would be the same as claiming these prejudices never existed. Dungeons & Dragons teaches that diversity is a strength, and we strive to make our D&D products as welcoming and inclusive as possible. This part of our work will never end.

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jason M May 08, 2022 2:22 am UTC
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Stacie W February 25, 2022 10:05 pm UTC
Print on Demand this please.
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Daniel R February 11, 2022 9:01 pm UTC
POD please
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Dominic L January 07, 2022 10:07 pm UTC
Waiting for this to go POD
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Heath P December 18, 2021 1:54 pm UTC
Please include the maps and make this available for POD. Thanks!
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Nicholas P March 29, 2021 5:26 am UTC
POD please
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Ross C September 24, 2016 11:21 pm UTC
Still missing the maps as of September 25, 2016. The maps are a pretty essential part of the original product.
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James B October 22, 2014 3:12 am UTC
Missing two poster maps as of July 16, 2014.
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Publisher Stock #
TSR 9224
File Size:
49.14 MB
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File Last Updated:
August 12, 2021
This title was added to our catalog on January 21, 2014.