Dungeons & Dragons: History of Chult
The Tomb of Annihilation is set in Chult so we talked to D&D’s own lore master about the history of this part of the Forgotten Realms.
Matt Sernett: A lot of the Forgotten Realms is sort of your standard European fantasy kind of a thing, various flavors of it. We know the jokes that we make about Forgotten Realms is that there's usually three versions of something, so there isn't just one fantasy Britain. There are like three different versions of fantasy Britain and someplace in the setting, that kind of a thing. Chult goes in another direction and it is a sort of lost continent feel a la City of the Lost or a heart of darkness and things like that, maybe Kong Island even and of course, it involves a whole lot of dinosaurs. In addition to being a D&D jungle with all kinds of crazy D&D monsters, there are a whole bunch of dinosaurs in the setting.
Matt Sernett: Its evolution in the setting is sort of typical of a lot of elements of Forgotten Realms where a bunch of materials written in second edition and then as a later … as the editions move on, it gets sort of backfilled and sort of realigned as more material is written about it in various places. For example, how the people of Chult, the humans there, got to be there is a bit more mysterious and legendary in the original product that describes it and then later products basically give you a whole 30,000-year history of how X, Y and Z happened in order to get these people from someplace really, really far away, an entirely other continent onto the sort of what is a peninsula of Chult.
Matt Sernett: Then, there's … Chult is, in the second edition period, is a dinosaur-filled jungle and it is sort of this forbidden place because there's lots of cliffs around the outside. There's very few places that you can land. It has one major city which is sort of the holy city of the people there, Mezro and that city is protected by a group of individuals that have been sort of imbued with power like paladins sort of. They’re called the [barre 00:02:15] and there are sort of these immortal protectors of the city. It's also, I think at that time, protected by illusions and stuff like that as well so you can't necessarily find it easily.
Matt Sernett: The people of Mezro who aren't in the city, who live in various places all over Chult have a religion where they have local deities that they worship but their main deity is Ubtao. Ubtao is sort of the protector/creator of that city of Mezro. Ubtao is also the one who led these people across the ocean thousands of years ago to come to settle at Chult and said, “This is your chosen place.” That's the way that it exists in second edition and the novel happens and so on and so forth.
Matt Sernett: Third edition changes things by … There's a process in the creation of third edition where the map of Forgotten Realms got kind of cut into bits and restitched together and so it kind of warped the positioning of Chult and made things look a little different. Fourth edition then sort of doubled down on that idea by warping the map even more and there was the spell plague and that caused whole continents to disappear, not whole continents but whole … Well, I guess technically, Maztica disappeared but the whole continents disappear and also chunks of land and so on, so forth. Chult went from being a peninsula to becoming an island and now, in fifth edition, it is back to being a peninsula and more like its traditional look in it from second edition.
Matt Sernett: Chult, during the period of the spell plague, what was said was that the city of Mezro collapsed and Ubtao abandoned his people. Then, a lot of the people who were outside of Mezro just sort of descended into barbarism to a degree and then in the fifth edition, that idea has been sort of embellished with more about what's going on in the Chult so that you know more about why they're undead there and stuff like that and what's going on there and then also what's going on with Mezro and in fact, it wasn't just destroyed. It was hidden by Ubtao because a lot of the sort of religion of Ubtao was about self-discovery and mazes and stuff like that and labyrinths and so, he's kind of hidden it away to protect it from all the weird stuff happening in Chult at the time.