North of Waterdeep, the Sword Mountains march north toward the Neverwinter Woods. Although not militarily significant, this range shields the Dessarin river valley and the High Forest from the worst of the storms that blow in from the Trackless Sea. The western flanks of the range are home to orcs, bugbears, kobolds, leucrottas and other dangerous creatures. Self-styled bandit lords, such as Amalkyn the Black and the wizard Helduth Flamespell, have long-established holds in the region. The southern peaks are home to stone giants and more fearsome menaces, as well as sylphs on the high ledges and peaks. The Sword Mountains is littered with ruins dating back to the orcish empire of Uruth Ukrypt and the dwarf and gnome clanholds that preceded it.
With an arc-like shape, the mountains were located northwest of Waterdeep and east of the Mere of Dead Men. Their western slopes led to the Trackless Sea in rolling foothills.
The mountains were home to orcs and trolls, but after the orcs were united by Wund and the Brotherhood of the Scarlet Scourge in the Year of the Red Rain, 927 DR, a shaman named Wund arose among the orc tribes of the Sword Mountains. On the eve of the Feast of the Moon, as Wund had prophesied, blood red thunderclouds engulfed the Sword Mountains. For three days the slopes ran wet with blood, leaving behind the sickening stench of rot and decay. All manner of plagues quickly swept through the region. Many orcs (and other folk) died by the White Hand of Yutrus, including every tribal chieftain, but the spawn of Gruumsh who survived the crucible of plagues grew stronger.
In the immediate aftermath of the Blood Plagues, Wund established a monastic order known as the Brotherhood of the Scarlet Scourge. Members of the order organized the surviving orc tribes into a united realm under the spiritual guidance of the brotherhood. The most powerful chieftain, a massive, unintelligent tusker named Uruth, was crowned king by Wund. This was a contributing factor to the Trollwars.
In the Year of the Sky Raiders (936 DR), the armies of Uruth Ukrypt swept down the eastern slopes of the Sword Mountains. The armies of Waterdeep battled the orcs of Uruth Ukrypt in a series of pitched battles known as the Orcfastings War. Early orc victories in the Battle of Whirling Blades, the Battle of Sarcrag, and the Battle of Withered Fields drove Waterdeep’s forces back to the gates of Nimoar’s Hold. However, a timely feint by the Duke of Calandor enabled Nimoar’s forces to break the orcs’ siege of the hold in the Battle of Burning Cliffs. They hatched another plan to attack in the Year of the Cold Claws, 940 DR, but this plan was ruined by the gold dragon Palarandusk.
Due to a raid on Ukrypt’s crypt by a human adventuring company called the Dawnbringer Company in the Year of Lathander’s Light, 1024 DR, the orcs of the Brotherhood of the Scarlet Scourge formed a horde called the Broken Bone with the intent of destroying Waterdeep. Their plans were once again ruined by a dragon; this time Lhammaruntosz. Still determined to exact their revenge, the orcs formed another horde, calling it the Black Claw, and in the Year of Crimson Magics, 1026 DR they came from the mountains to attack Waterdeep. This attack proved unsuccessful, and they were defeated, causing the orcs to lose their unity and plunge into a period of tribal conflict and the orcs of the Sword Mountains disintegrated into warring tribes.