Nentir Vale: The Taken
Up until four centuries or so 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 Bael 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, originally known as Fallrath, began to grow.
Most of the Nentir Vale was ruled of the Markelhay family, uniting the region under the banner of the Grand Duchy of Nentir. Even during the Decade of Entropy, after sky grew dark and the land no longer produced the bounty it once did, the city of Fallcrest grew and the duchy consolidated its power.
The empire of Bael Nerath began to crumble about a century ago. As the power of the empire waned, it’s weakening had not gone unnoticed. Around ninety years ago, a fierce horde of orcs known as the Bloodspears descended from the Stonemarch and swept outward, violently decimating much of the vale.
The shattering of Bael Nerath has pushed the knowledge of Nentir Vale from the minds of many who dwell in lands that once constituted the core of the empire. The few merchants who do make their along the decaying King’s Road do so to obtain dwarven goods from Hammerfast rather for anything that Fallcrest has to offer.
A small struggling town built from the ruins of a larger city, Fallcrest is the crossroads of the Nentir Vale, nestled amid the Moon Hills at the falls of the Nentir River. The rebuilt town is surrounded for a few miles on all sides by overgrown ruins, farmland and pastures.
A dwarven hold cut from the rock of a deep vale in the Dawnforge Mountains, Hammerfast is the largest and wealthiest town in the region. The Trade Road runs through the citadel gates and continues eastward beyond the Dawnforge Mountains. There are additional settlements in this area.
Half a dozen small villages lie along the upper vales of the White River. Together, they make up the Barony of Harkenwold — a tiny realm whose total population is not much greater than Fallcrest’s. The people of Harkenwold are farmers, woodcutters, and woodworkers; little trade comes up or down the old King’s Road.
This tiny human village lies at the east end of Lake Nen. The folk here make a meager living by trading smoked fish to the dwarves of Hammerfast.
Hard under the Cairngorms at the west end of the Nentir Vale lies the remote town of Winterhaven. Like Fallcrest, Winterhaven is a small town surrounded by a few miles of farmland and pastures.
Locations of Interest
A long, wide valley between the Ogrefist Hills and the Witchlight Fens, the Chaos Scar is thought to have been carved by the fall of a massive meteor.
It is nearly universally felt that these giant peaks are the oldest and tallest mountains in the world.
Fiveleague House is more properly known as the Fiveleague Inn. It’s a strongly built innhouse surrounded by a wooden palisade.
This large woodland stretches from the Nentir River to the mountains and extends for miles to the south. It separates the Nentir Vale from the Gray Vale to the south.
A rugged land of stony hills and deep gorges cut by white-rushing rivers, the Stonemarch is home to tribes of dangerous humanoids and giants. Orcs, ogres, giants, and trolls haunt the farther reaches of these barren lands.
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 Gardbury Downs take their name from this striking ruin, a large monastery that has lain in ruins for almost one hundred fifty years.
Back in the days when Nerath was settling the Nentir Vale, minor lords in search of land to call their own established manors and holds throughout the area.
Ruins of Fastormel
Once a prosperous town on the shores of Lake Nen, Fastormel was destroyed by the Bloodspear orcs and has never been resettled.
The Sword Barrow
This large burial mound stands near the middle of the Gray Downs. The old human hill-clans who lived in the Vale raised the barrow centuries before civilized folk settled in Fallcrest.