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Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide is very vague about what year this happened:

Nearly half a century ago, Mount Hotenow (the nearby volcano that perpetually heats the river flowing through the city) violently erupted, destroying much of Neverwinter, killing thousands, and leaving in its wake a great, gaping chasm that split the city. Neverwinter was in ruins, and external influences—from Netheril to Thay to Lord Dagult Neverember of Waterdeep to the agents of the Hells themselves—sought to exert control over the city. Many folk fought to stem all these dangers, and eventually, a measure of peace fell over Neverwinter.

It mentions specific years for other historical events, but not that one. What year is it alluding to specifically?

Other 5e books are the opposite of helpful, they contradict both SCAG and each other: Hoard of the Dragon Queen claims it was 'a century ago,' and Lost Mine of Phandelver says it was 'thirty years ago' (and these two adventures are obviously not meant to be separated by 70 years of history/metaplot).

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1452 DR

Mount Hotenow erupted in Gauntlgrym, book one of The Neverwinter Saga by R.A. Salvatore.

In early chapters, Drizzt and Bruenor are in Icewind Dale in the autumn of 1451 DR.

Chapter 1 - The Damned

The Year of Knowledge Unearthed (1451 DR)

Chapter 2 - An Old Dwarf’s Last Road

The air was unseasonably chilly, and storm clouds had gathered off in the northwest on the morning Drizzt walked back out of Caer-Dineval, a reminder that the season was soon to turn. He looked to the distant peak of Kelvin’s Cairn and thought that perhaps he should spend another day in town and let the storm pass.

Drizzt laughed at himself, at his cowardice, and not for anything to do with the weather. He didn’t want to tell Bruenor that he’d found not a sign, not a tease. He knew he shouldn’t tarry, of course. Autumn was falling, and in a matter of tendays, the first snows would come sweeping down upon Icewind Dale, sealing the one pass through the mountains to the south.

By chapter 6, they're south of the mountains, and it's summer again, not autumn.

Chapter 6 - Another Drow and His Dwarf

They came out of the cave under a perfect blue sky, with the rolling hillocks of the Crags tightening the horizon around them. It was late summer, almost fall, and the cool winds had been fairly comfortable of late. They figured they had about three more months of easy exploring before them until they had to retreat to a town for the winter

It's probably late summer 1452 DR because they've spent a lot of time searching for signs of Gauntlgrym, the ancient homeland of the Delzoun dwarves, 'across the North.'

several ancient coins minted in the days of Delzoun, a very old smith hammer’s head, and some other suspicious and obviously ancient artifacts tumbled out as well. All had been procured across the North, from barbarian tribesmen or small villages, and the coins had come from Luskan.

Then the mountain begins smoking, and the volcanic eruption happens in chapter 9.

He continued on a southerly route, not going straight for the plume. He knew the ground fairly well, and noted that the smoke was coming from Mount Hotenow—one of the few hills in the Crags tall enough to rightfully be called a mountain. It had two peaks, the lower one to the north, the taller south-southeast of that, and both of bald stone the result of some long-ago fire that had burned the trees away, and had allowed erosion to wash away most of the soil.

It seemed as if the smoke poured out of the top of the lower, northern peak.

The fall of the mountain seemed perfectly aimed at the city of Neverwinter—and indeed it was. Mount Hotenow had not simply erupted. The angry primordial sought carnage as hungrily as did Szass Tam.

After a timeskip, the eruption is said to be 'ten years' in the past in 1462 DR. Nobody once describes it as, say, 'more than ten years' or 'over a decade.'

Chapter 10 - Battling the Darkness

The Year of the Elves’ Weeping (1462 DR)

Drizzt had traveled to that mountain soon after the destruction of Neverwinter, seeking some clue as to what had happened, but had found nothing beyond the cooling crater of Mount Hotenow. Bruenor’s observation was undeniable, though. The quakes were beginning again, though the ground had been silent soon after the eruption for ten years.

Maybe the guilt of the last ten years had finally broken him, putting ghosts before his delusional eyes, their words in his head.

“Makes no sense, elf,” the dwarf replied. “Why would Dahlia walk into Luskan like that?”

“It’s been a decade.”

“To be sure, but who’d forget that one, even after ten years? She comes walkin’ into the city in that hat and with that staff o’ hers? How would we not know?”

So the sleeping primordial beneath the northern peak of Mount Hotenow erupted in 1452 DR.

The 4e book Neverwinter Campaign Setting (2011) includes Drizzt as an NPC and indirectly reiterates that the year of the eruption was 1452 DR (with one contradictory mention of 'twenty-six years ago').

The current year is 1479 DR.

Twenty-seven years ago, before you were even born, the city of Neverwinter perished in a great conflagration that slew its people and scattered survivors across the north. Since then, the angry earth has calmed, inviting people to return to the ruins of this once-great settlement.

An ostensibly unbroken line of succession traces from Alagondar to the last king and queen of Neverwinter, who vanished twenty-seven years ago in the cataclysm that claimed the city.

Although the mortal realm’s volcano stirs only fitfully now, the Mount Hotenow reflected in the Shadowfell has been steadily spewing magma for years. In the minds of many, this constant slow eruption threatens to trigger a similar eruption in Toril. If that were to happen, the devastation in the Neverwinter region would make the events of twenty-seven years ago seem paltry in comparison.

At that time, twenty-seven years ago, Maegera stirred in its slumber, and its dream of ruination was enough to destroy the city. In the years that followed, Maegera groggily awoke, causing earthquakes throughout the region. When the primordial was again put to slumber by Drizzt Do’Urden, Bruenor Battlehammer, Jarlaxle, and others, a crucial part of its prison had been left unfettered.

When the primordial Maegera erupted from its prison twenty-six years ago, the resulting volcanic destruction tore a deep chasm in the earth that sliced through a quarter of Neverwinter. This rift reached the depths of the Underdark, opening wide to an underground sea where a branch of the Abolethic Sovereignty was busy manipulating a pocket of Spellplague and covertly experimenting on creatures in and near Neverwinter.

The eruption of Mount Hotenow and the resulting hordes of undead also serve as the backstory of the 2013 video game Neverwinter.

Book one in Salvatore's Neverwinter trilogy, titled Gauntlgrym, releases on October 5 of this year and lays the groundwork for the Neverwinter storyline. The novel previews the settings, characters and monsters from the PC game and details the events that lead up to this highly anticipated PC gaming experience.

The narrator of the trailer for the Mount Hotenow Zone solemnly intones:

"Several decades ago, the partial awakening of a primordial deep below ground caused the mountain to erupt in a violent explosion of fire and ash, and the city of Neverwinter was nearly obliterated."

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  • \$\begingroup\$ IIRC a date of the eruption, in terms of 'years ago' is given in the description of Thundertree in LMoP, and possibly in the description of the weaver family that escaped from Thundertree after the eruption and resettled in Phandalin. If there is a canonical date for that adventure, this would be another way to deduce the date. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Mar 13 at 4:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Kirt That adventure does not have a fixed date on purpose according to Ed Greenwood, it's "in the 1490s". The date of 1491 is calcualted by that Thundertree quote of "30 years ago" based on an assumed Hotenow explosion in 1451, which is also the date quoted in the FR wiki. However, I find user 10063s well documented answer here very convincing that it must have been in 1452 that the Hotenow blew up, the other sources provide no such support. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 13 at 12:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NobodytheHobgoblin Fun fact, turns out the pages of a wiki for the Neverwinter video game have always been more accurate at summarizing Salvatore novels than any Forgotten Realms fan wiki. neverwinter.fandom.com/wiki/… neverwinter.fandom.com/wiki/… \$\endgroup\$
    – user10063
    Apr 10 at 20:42

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