The Scouring Of The Vale
The area that the party is currently adventuring in is called the Nentir Vale. It is a broad northern borderland region that is cool and mild in the summer and windy and bitterly cold in the winter. It sees relatively little snowfall, though.
Physical geography – to the north the vale is bordered by the Winterbole Forest, Lake Nen and Lake Wintermist. To the west past Winterhaven are the Cairngorn Peaks and the Stonemarch. To the east are the Dawnforge Mountains. To the south is the Harken Forest and the Witchlight Fens. The primary river that cuts through the vale and connects it with the southlands is the Nentir River, fed by the White River that drains from the Dawnforge Mountains, and the Winter River that drains from the two lakes. The countryside is a mixture of open grassland, gently rolling hills, copses of light forest, and the occasional thicket of dense woodland and heavy undergrowth. There are several areas of “downs” – hilly grassland with little tree cover, and there are a few hilly areas.
Civilization & culture – the region used to be part of the Nerath Empire, but has been isolated since that empire’s collapse about a 100 years ago. An orc horde from the Stonemarch ravaged the vale about 90 years ago. The vale is mostly empty, with a handful of towns and villages scattered about. Abandoned farmsteads, ruined manors, and broken keeps dot the countryside. Bandits, wild animals, and monsters roam freely throughout the vale. Travel between towns and villages is somewhat safe.
The main town in the vale is Fallcrest, located in the Moon Hills at the falls of the Nentir River. It is the main crossroads of the vale, since the King’s Road, the Trade Road, and the Nentir River all meet there. Other towns in the Vale are Nenlast, Harkenwold, and Winterhaven. The large dwarf town of Hammerfast guards the passes through the Dawnforge Mountains.
For the region, humans are most numerous, followed by halflings. Dwarfs make up the third-most populous group. There are a few tiefling families that live and thrive in Fallcrest. There are some half-elf artisans and farmers. Few elves live in the town, but some clans resides in the various forests around the vale. Some Eladrin once had estates and manors in the vale near Fallcrest, but there are none in residence now. Dragonborn are generally seen only as hired guards for caravans for the various trading houses.
Other interesting locales in the Nentir Vale are described below:
Fiveleague House is more properly known as the Fiveleague Inn. It’s a strongly built innhouse surrounded by a wooden palisade. Fiveleague House caters to travelers and merchants coming or going from Hammerfast, a day’s journey (five leagues) farther east. The proprietor is a big, bearlike human named Barton.
The Gardbury Downs take their name from this striking ruin, a large monastery that has lain in ruins for almost one hundred fifty years.
The Sword Barrow
This large burial mound stands near the middle of the Gray Downs, a desolate region.
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 more populous coastal towns of the south.
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. Kalton Manor was one of these.
Like Kalton Manor, the wreck now known locally as Kobold Hall was the estate of a minor lord who came to Nentir Vale to establish his own demesnes. Ruined during the Bloodspear War, the old castle has been abandoned for almost a century.
This small keep stands at the southern end of the Old Hills. Once it was the seat of a small manor, but it fell into ruin long ago.
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.
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. Fortunately for the residents of the vale, the monsters rarely come east over the Cairngorm Peaks.
Temple of Yellow Skulls
The ruins of a shrine stand in the middle of these desolate hills.
This striking peak is the largest of the Old Hills.
Long ago, soldiers from Nerath built a strong fortress to protect the region from the threats to its people. The old keep lies in ruins now.