PoL History and Geography

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A Brief History of the Nentir Vale

Up until about three or four centuries ago, the Moon Hills and the surrounding Nentir Vale were thinly settled borderlands, home to quarrelsome human hill-chieftains and remote realms of nonhumans such as dwarves and elves. Giants, minotaurs, orcs, ogres, and goblins plagued the area. Ruins such as those on the Gray Downs or the ring-forts atop the Old Hills date back to these days, as do stories of the hero Vendar and the dragon of the Nentir.

With the rise of the empire of Nerath to the south, human settlers began to move up the Nentir, establishing towns such as Fastormel, Harkenwold, and Winterhaven. A Nerathan hero named Aranda Markelhay obtained a charter to build a keep at the portage of the Nentir Falls. She raised a simple tower at the site of Moonstone Keep three hundred ten years ago, and under its protection the town of Fallcrest began to grow.

Over the next two centuries, Fallcrest grew into a small and prosperous city. It was a natural crossroads for trade, and the Markelhays ruled it well. When the empire of Nerath began to crumble about a century ago, Fallcrest continued to flourish—for a time. Ninety years ago, a fierce horde of orcs known as the Bloodspears descended from the Stonemarch and swept over the vale. Fallcrest’s army was defeated in a rash attempt to halt the Bloodspears out on Gardbury Downs. The Bloodspears burned and pillaged Fallcrest and went on to wreak havoc all across the Nentir Vale.

The Nentir vale is now mostly empty, with a handful of living villages and towns scattered over this wide area. Abandoned farmsteads, ruined manors, and broken keeps litter the countryside. Bandits, wild animals, and monsters roam freely throughout the vale, threatening anyone who fares more than few miles away from one of the surviving settlements. Travel along the roads or river is usually safe—usually. But every now and then, travelers come to bad ends between towns.

The Nentir Vale is a northern land, but it sees relatively little snow—winters are windy and bitterly cold. The Nentir River is too big to freeze except for a few weeks in the coldest part of the year. Summers are cool and mild.

Most of the vale is covered in mixed terrain—large stretches of open meadowland, copses of light forest, gently rolling hills, and the occasional thicket of dense woodland and heavy undergrowth. The downs marked on the map are hilly grassland, with little tree cover. The hills are steeper and more rugged, and include light forest in the valleys and saddles between the hilltops.

In the decades since the Bloodspear War, Fallcrest and the rest of the Nentir Vale have struggled to reestablish themselves. The countryside for scores of miles around is dotted with abandoned homesteads and manors from the days of Nerath. Once again the Nentir Vale is a thinly settled borderland where few folk live. This is a place in need of a few heroes.


Map of the Nentir Vale


Chronological Timeline

(CY = "Current Year", CY-100 = "Current Year minus 100 years", chronology will be updated as new history is learned by the PC's)

Imperial Age

  • CY-1000: Rise of the Arkhosian Empire, dragonborn of Bahamut had finally triumphed over those of Tiamat, forging the empire of Arkhosia in the arid lands of the south. It was a unified array of dragonborn city-states ruled over by royal lines of mighty dragons led by a dragon emperor named the Golden One. Arkhosia was founded at Io'vanthor, which some believe was once the earthly palace of the dragon god Io. They expanded mostly peacefully, bringing civilization and justice.
  • CY-1000: Rise of the Empire of Bael Turath, founded by humans initially around the same time as Arkhosia. To increase their power, they summoned devils and used rituals to seal their infernal pacts, becoming the first tieflings and gaining the nickname "Hell-Chained Empire". They expanded by force, enslaving and conquering.
  • CY-800: Arkhosia and Bael Turath come into contact, beginning countless years of skirmishes and wars.
  • CY-???: Final war between Arkhosia and Bael Turath, a secret cult of Tiamat, seeking vengeance upon the dragonborn of Bahamut, managed to corrupt the Arkhosian capital of Io'vanthor. They opened the city gates to Turathi invaders, thinking the Turathi would slay the remaining worshipers of Bahamut and then they would slay the Turathi. However, at the same time the Turathi capital city, Bael Turath, was pulled down into the Underdark and destroyed by Torog's vengeance. The Turathi forces in the Arkhosian capital were forced to live in the ruins of Io'vanthor

Modern Age

  • CY-400-300: Rise of the Nerath Empire and founding of Fallcrest by Aranda Markelhay.
  • CY-100: Beginning decline of the Nerath Empire.
  • CY-90: Bloodspear War, Bloodspear orcs descended from the Stonemarch, pillaged Fallcrest, and wreaked havoc throughout the Nentir Vale.
  • CY-80: Melgold "The Mad Poet" writes his prophecy piece "Dreams of Blood and Shadow".
  • CY-10: Bairwin the merchant moves to Winterhaven and begins setting up a secret cult to Orcus.
  • CY-5: Kalarel, Skull Highpriest of Orcus, inhabits the Keep on the Shadowfell and begins his research to open the Shadowfell Rift in its lower levels.
  • CY-4: The Great Church of Bahamut actively seeks cosmic signs of evil portent. Agents of the Platinum Order are sent throughout the lands to find evidence of impending destruction of the earthly plane.
  • CY-1: Numerous kidnappings in the Nentir Vale have come to the attention of agents of the Platinum Order.
  • Current Year:
    • Midsummer: Azad al Halim, Edeya, Corydimbiddle, Demuriath, and Harkin are brought together in the Nentir Vale by fate. They discover and thwart Kalarel's plans to open the Shadowfell Rift near Winterhaven and assume the group name "Light's Shadow".
    • Late Summer: Light's Shadow pursues a connection between Kalarel and the Seven-Pillared Hall in Thunderspire Mountain.

The Hub of the Nentir Vale

Fallcrest stands amid the Moon Hills at the falls of the Nentir River. Here travelers and traders using the old King’s Road that runs north and south, the dwarven Trade Road from the east, and the river all meet. The surrounding ridges shelter several small valleys where farmers and woodsfolk live; few are more than six or seven miles from the town. In general the people outside Fallcrest’s walls earn their living by farming or keeping livestock, and the people inside the walls are artisans, laborers, or merchants. People with no other prospects can make a hard living as porters, carrying cargo from the Lower Quays to the Upper Quays and back.

Fallcrest imports finished goods from the larger cities downriver and ironwork from the dwarf town of Hammerfast, and exports timber, leather, fruit, and grain. It also trades with the nearby town of Winterhaven. The surrounding hills hold several marble quarries that once produced a good deal of stone, but the area has little demand for ornamental stone these days, and only a few stonecutters still practice their trade.

Fallcrest

3D Map of Fallcrest


Locations in Fallcrest

  • 1. Tower of Waiting (out of use watchtower)
  • 2. Upper Quays (goods offloaded her, carried down the bluff)
  • 3. Five-Arch Bridge (200 hundred year old bridge made by Hammerfast dwarves, toll bridge: 1 copper per head, 1 silver per mount)
  • 4. Nentir Inn (caters to merchants mostly, proprietor is a half-elf, high quality)
  • 5. Knight’s Gate (northern gate, human sergeant Nerath in charge, used for cavalry)
  • 6. Silver Unicorn Inn (proprietor is a Halfling, best in town until Nentir Inn was established two years ago).
  • 7. Halfmoon Trading House (well known Halfling clan of traders around the Nentir Vale)
  • 8. Moonstone Keep (seat of Lord Warden Faren Markelhay)
  • 9. The Tombwood (large, unruly thicket inside of which is the old castle cemetery)
  • 10. House of the Sun (Pelor, dwarf High Priest Grundelmar, also has shrines to Kord and Bahamut)
  • 11. House Azaer (tiefling owned trading company that sends caravans to Winterhaven)
  • 12. The Nentir Falls (200 foot drop, the island the middle has a statue of the hero Vendar)
  • 13. Temple of Erathis (Erathis, human High Priestess Dirina Mornbrow, also has shrines to Ioun and Moradin)
  • 14. The Bluffs (150-250 foot drop)
  • 15. The Catacombs (caves in the bluffs that divide Hightown from Lowtown)
  • 16. Moonsong Temple (Sehanine, patron god of the Markelhays, elf High Priest Ressilmae Starlight, also has shrines to Corellon, Melora, and Avandra)
  • 17. Fallcrest Stables (owned by a halfing, Lannar Thistletown)
  • 18. Wizard’s Gate (eastern gate, dwarf sergeant Murgeddin in charge, closest entrance to the Septarch’s Tower)
  • 19. Naerumar’s Imports (deals in gemstones, jewelry, magical trinkets, owned by tiefling Orest Naerumar)
  • 20. Kamroth Estate (home of “Lord” Armos Kamroth, wealthy landowner)
  • 21. Moonwash Falls (swift stream, 20 feet wide, 5 feet deep)
  • 22. Septarch’s Tower (tall, seven-sided spire of pale green stone, used to be the seat of the Mage’s Guild before the Bloodpsear War, property of Nimozaran the Green)
  • 23. Blue Moon Alehouse (best tavern in Fallcrestt, proprietor is human Par Winnomer, brewmaster is Halfling Kemara Brownbottle)
  • 24. Teldorthan’s Arms (dwarf Teldorthan Ironhews is the town’s weaponsmith and armorer)
  • 25. King’s Gate (southern gate, human sergeant Gerdrand in charge)
  • 26. The Market Green (open, grassy meadow where merchants do business in good weather)
  • 27. Sandercot Provisioners (largest general store, dubious reputation, proprietor Nimena Sandercot)
  • 28. Lucky Gnome Taphouse (cheapest and coarsest tavern, proprietor is human Kelson)
  • 29. Lower Quays (goods offloaded her, carried up the bluff, halfling Swiftwater Clan has the most boats in the area)

Winterhaven

Winterhaven

3D Map of Winterhaven

  • 1. Outer Gates and Walls - Open by day, closed and barred at night, the outer gate is always policed by at least two guards.
  • 2. Wrafton's Inn - A spacious inn and tavern, Wrafton's serves as the local public house for the region. Like alehoues everywhere, Wrafton's Inn offers beer, wine, and on occasion, spirits. Meals are served for those with the coin, and beds for travelers are available. A crowd of villagers gathers each night to drink, sing, gossip and play games of chance.
  • 3. Market Square - Every other day carts and wagons gather in the square to sell their goods.
  • 4. Stables - On market days these stables are filled with mounts and beasts of burden. Travelers can stable their mounts here for a modest price.
  • 5. Smithy - A dwarf named Thair Coalstriker owns the local smithy.
  • 6. Valthrun's Tower - This five-story structure is the tallest building in Winterhaven and rumored to be over 300 years old. Valthrun, a sage and scholar, inhabits the top two levels.
  • 7. Bairwin's Grand Shoppe - Has a variety of standard goods and gear available. Occasionally dabbles in rare and exotic items.
  • 8. Warrior Guild - Local militia headquarters.
  • 9. Tenements - The large tenement structure features apartments for the village residents who don't own farms or who work in the businesses within the village walls.
  • 10. Temple - Several deities are worshiped in the large stone structure. Avandra, goddess of luck and change, is the most prominent.
  • 11. Inner Gate - The inner gate is closed and guarded by two Winterhaven guards during the daytime.
  • 12. Winterhaven Siege Supplies - Though it hasn't happened in a couple of years, on occasion when Winterhaven comes under attack villagers seek refuge inside the walled keep and subsist on the supplies stored here.
  • 13. Winterhaven Barracks - This military-style barracks is home to Winterhaven's professional guards.
  • 14. Manor House - This grand manor house was built when Winterhaven was an outpost of the Nerath Empire. Currently the home of Lord Padraig, his wife and their four sons. It is a beautiful example of stone architecture in a village otherwise comprised of thatch and wood.

The Seven-Pillared Hall

The Seven-Pillared Hall, a mighty chamber, was once the market square and meeting place of the ancient undermountain city of Saruun Khel. In some ways, it still serves as a market and meeting place of sorts, but for a different kind of inhabitant. Today, the Mages of Saruun provide order and safety within the Hall, chiefly so that they can trade with the intelligent monster races that live within the Labyrinth and the Underdark beyond. While the mages seek to acquire goods and items important to their arcane experiments from creatures that normally don’t conduct trade with the surface dwellers, the relative safety of the place has given rise to an underground market—both figuratively and literally. Primary locations throughout the Hall are described below. NOTE: Descriptions are available only for places you've visited or discovered details about.

Seven-Pillared Hall

Seven-Pillared Hall Stone Map

  • 1. The Road of Lanterns: The main road from the entrance to Thunderspire Mountain leading to the Seven-Pillared Hall.
  • 2. The Customhouse
  • 3. The Deepgem Company
  • 4. Bersk the Wainwright
  • 5. The Temple of Hidden Light
  • 6. Residences
  • 7. House Azaer
  • 8. The Pigeonholes
  • 9. The Deep Stair
  • 10. The Halfmoon Inn: Run by Erra Halfmoon, mother of Rendil Halfmoon, who is the sister to the owner of the Halfmoon Trading House in Fallcrest. The most popular place to relax and have fun in the Seven-Pillared Hall.
  • 11. The Waterfall
  • 12. Bridges
  • 13. Chute
  • 14. Minotaur Statue: Calling out in front of this statue may be a method of contacting the Mages of Saruun.
  • 15. Gendar's Curios and Relics
  • 16. Dreskin the Provisioner
  • 17. Rothar's Taproom
  • 18. The Road of Shadows
  • 19. Grimmerzhul Trading Post
  • 20. The Dragon Door
  • 21. The Tower of Saruun
  • 22. The Shining Road

The Ruins of Thunderspire

Thunderspire Mountain lies amid a wilderness of pine forests and rocky hills. The mountain’s pinnacle is usually wreathed in gray, foreboding clouds, but on rare clear days, it can be seen from a great distance. The Trade Road, an old dwarf-made highway, passes near the mountain. It links the human town of Fallcrest (about a two-day journey west of the mountain on foot) with the dwarf stronghold of Hammerfast (three days east of the mountain by foot). In years past, travelers and caravans hurried past Thunderspire to avoid attacks from monsters lurking in the ruined minotaur city. Today, this part of the Trade Road is reasonably safe thanks to the presence of the Mages of Saruun. From the Trade Road, a steep cobbled path called the Vale Road turns north and then cuts into the mountain. The road rises through a valley with sparse vegetation and ends at Thunderspire’s base. Small waterfalls and brooks wash down from the rocks above. A few shepherds, woodcutters, and trappers live in the vale. Their humble houses are made of turf and fieldstone and are fitted with stout doors to repel predators, including bears, wyverns, and griffons. The ruins of Saruun Khel beyond the Seven-Pillared Hall are collectively called the Labyrinth. The ancient minotaur city consisted of a vast maze of natural caverns, gaping chasms, hewn chambers, steep stairs, and twisting passageways. Most of these features remain to this day. The Seven-Pillared Hall and its adjoining chambers form a small part of Saruun Khel. Much of the Labyrinth remains dangerous and unexplored. The Labyrinth covers nearly a square mile with hundreds of chambers and passageways. The Labyrinth is too convoluted to be completely mapped.

Ruins of Thunderspire

  • 1. The Minotaur Gate: 50-foot-tall stone archway hewn out of the mountainside. A towering minotaur statue. Entrance from to Thunderspire mountain from the surface.

stands on each side of the entrance, glowering down at travelers.

  • 2. The Road of Lanterns: The main road from the entrance to Thunderspire Mountain leading to the Seven-Pillared Hall.
  • 3. The Seven-Pillared Hall: Seat of power for the Mages of Saruun.
  • 4. 'Storage Room: Rendil Halfmoon was being held here
  • 5. The Deep Stair: passages leading deep underground, eventually even to the Underdark
  • 6. The Road of Shadows: passages leading to the Horned Hold
  • 7. The Shining Road: passage leading from the Seven-Pillared Hall to the Avenue of Glory
  • 8. The Avenue of Glory: 50 foot wide, 80 foot tall passage with hundreds of giant minotuar statues
  • 9. The Chamber of Eyes: Bloodreaver headquarters used by general Krand.
  • 10. The Horned Hold: Grimmerzhul headquarters used by Murklemore Grimmerzhul.
  • 11. The Well of Demons: ancient minotaur shrine and series to trials to Baphomet
  • 12. Sea of Shadows: large cisterns, Paldemar's vortex ritual was stopped here
  • 13. Unknown:
  • 14. Unknown:
  • 15. Saruun Khel Throne Room: chamber where two minotaur skeletons were sitting on thrones
  • 16. Unknown:
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