Issylra (pronounced "ih-seel-rah") is one of the continents on the world of Exandria. It is a "very large continent [...] almost like the equivalent of Asia and Russia [...] very wide", much of it "wild, untamed wilderness."
Given the description of Issylra's size, very little of Issylra has been explored onstream or even described.
Most of Issylra's developed territory is within the country of Othanzia, which is home to the ancient city of Vasselheim, widely considered the cradle of civilization and the center of several faiths. The city is located on a mountain spire 20 to 30 miles from the coast. Surrounding it is the dark and sprawling Vasper Timberland, through which mountaintops occasionally jut; the Timberland stretches far to the north of Vasselheim before fading into tundra. This is the Thorain Tundra from which a white dragon, Rimefang, hailed.
Two days' ride northwest of Vasselheim, through the Timberland, are ruins and a lake that were frozen over by proximity to Rimefang's lair in 810 PD, and farther along the road is the bitterly cold town of Muldire. Beyond that are the Tordusk Pass and the Zenwick Mountains, with woods at their base. In the Zenwick Mountains is the Silted Vale, a valley with natural healing properties that attracted a particularly violent ecosystem. The Zenwick Mountains also used to be the location of the Crypts of Thomara, until Vecna animated the Primordial Earth Titan in which the dwarven vault city had been constructed, leaving a large gash as it unearthed itself to march toward Vasselheim.
Several hours' travel to the southwest of Vasselheim is the Marrowglade Loch, a small lake surrounded by swamp. There are ruins of structures that were dedicated to the Raven Queen before the area sank underwater.
Further southwest, two days' ride from Vasselheim, are the steep Sunderpeak Mountains. Immediately appearing at the top of a path scaling the mountains is a valley caldera containing a rift to the Elemental Plane of Fire, responsible for the creation of the Cindergrove. The rift is overseen by the Ashari village of Pyrah, which was devastated in the wake of Thordak's escape from the Plane of Fire.
Even farther southwest of Vasselheim, 200 or 250 miles away along the coast, is the small fishing city of Shorecomb. About five miles offshore is the volcanic island of Scaldseat, beneath which is the fabled Core Anvil.
Issylra is farther north than Tal'Dorei, and has a much colder climate. It is usually coated in snow or at least has cold, cloudy weather. The Vasper Timberland is a taiga or boreal forest, indicating it is just subarctic.
Humans, rock gnomes, and tieflings originate on Issylra. Rock gnomes and tieflings migrated across the Ozmit Sea to Tal'Dorei during the Age of Arcanum, and humans sailed across centuries after the Divergence.
Vox Machina traveled to Issylra several times, eventually with world-shaking results. On their first visit, they secured one of the Horns of Orcus in a vault in the Platinum Sanctuary, were inducted into the Slayer's Take, and traveled to Pyrah as part of Keyleth's Aramenté. Pike Trickfoot began restoring the rediscovered Temple of Renewal, and would soon become one of the Dawn Marshalls of Vasselheim as a result.
After the Chroma Conclave's attack, Vox Machina returned to the Slayer's Take and thus began their quest for several Vestiges of Divergence. They began with a delve into Purvan Suul's sunken tomb, leading directly to Vax'ildan's arc as champion of the Raven Queen. The party returned to Pyrah, which had been ruined by Thordak. Grog Strongjaw later awakened his Vestige, the Titanstone Knuckles, in a spar with Earthbreaker Groon in Vasselheim.
Upon attaining godhood, Vecna attempted a "miracle of terror" to cement his power on Exandria. He teleported his city to the Zenwick Mountains, placed the city on the fallen Earth Titan there, and marched the animated titan toward Vasselheim. In a race against time, Vox Machina traveled to the Core Anvil off the coast of Shorecomb to craft the implements needed to take on Vecna, and then, with support from their allies, banished Vecna and stopped the assault on the city.
Behind the scenes
The religious sites and relics of Issylra are inspired by ancient Mesopotamian and Sumerian temples, and the settlements around them are patterned after 12th-century Norway.
- Matthew Mercer spelled "Issylra" on Twitter.
- See "The Fate-Touched" (1x103) at 3:18:05.
- Matthew Mercer confirmed that Exandria is the world, Issylra is a continent, and Othanzia is a region in Issylra.
- See "Return to Vasselheim" (1x43) at 1:11:37.
- See "The Chase to Glintshore" (1x67) at 1:14:46.
- Critical Role: Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting, p. 98.
- Explorer's Guide to Wildemount, p. 159.
- See "Enter Vasselheim" (1x16) at 28:54.
- See "Enter Vasselheim" (1x16) at 28:16.
- See "Trial of the Take: Part 2" (1x19) at 52:19. See also 1:57:18 for the name of the tundra.
- See "Trial of the Take: Part 1" (1x18) at 2:34:21.
- See "Trial of the Take: Part 1" (1x18) at 52:51.
- See "The Ominous March" (1x109) from 1:37:13 through 1:39:03.
- See "The Ominous March" (1x109) at 1:41:16.
- See "The Ominous March" (1x109) at 1:40:39.
- See "The Sunken Tomb" (1x44) at 46:28.
- See "Aramente to Pyrah" (1x22) at 1:45:22.
- See "The Endless Atheneum" (1x106) at 1:36:38.
- See "Scaldseat" (1x107) at 46:11.
- See "Critical Role Panel w/ Matthew Mercer and Mary Elizabeth McGlynn from MomoCon" at 33:32.
- See "A Storm of Memories" (2x46) at 35:25.
- Critical Role: Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting, p. 26. See also p. 28.
- Critical Role: Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting, p. 8.
- They arrived in "Enter Vasselheim" (1x16) and the rest is the arc of Chapter 2.
- This arc takes place between the end of "Dangerous Dealings" (1x42) and the first half of "The Family Business" (1x47).
- See the end of "Loose Ends" (1x84) and "A Bard's Lament" (1x85).
- This takes place between the second half of "The Endless Atheneum" (1x106) and the beginning of "The Chapter Closes" (1x115).
- Fan made speculative map of Issylra, by West Haberlein (source). Used with permission.
- Fan art of Vasselheim, by Brandon Chang (source). Used with permission.
- Screenshot of northeastern Issylra (with Vasselheim on the southern end), the northern Ozmit Sea, and the northern Bladeshimmer Shoreline where Emon is, by Andy Law (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.