Scales of War
The world has never been a safe place. No mighty empire has ever arose to maintain peace and order. Far away across the Endless Plains to the northwest the land is heavily settled and even further to the southeast along the coast there are exotic kingdoms of seafarers. A long trade road, the Dawn Way, stretches between them from east to west. It was built a thousand years ago by an ancient kingdom of Dwarves which arose in the Elsir Vale. As the Dwarves slipped into decline hobgoblins, orcs and other monstrous races thrived. Soon only the most foolish or desperate merchants would bring a caravan along the old dwarf-road and eventually none came at all.
For many years thereafter the only humans living in the vale were scattered tribes of hunter-gatherers. These people were nature worshipers, for it was from nature’s fertility they were sustained and by imitating its brutality they were able to hold back the monstrous races. Existence was brutal. Through the years their warriors grew taller and stronger and their druids and shamans learned to tap into the energies tied to the vale. With each generation that managed to hold back the horde the raids became more rare. They built stone circles where they held seasonal gatherings and deep barrows in the woods which were sacred to the druids. History would see this as the height of their culture however.
About four hundred years ago trade caravans began to venture through the vale once again. In following years they traded with the local hunters in exchange for escort. Younger hunters without attachment would travel with the caravans all the way to the coast and back. When settlers and soldiers came from the north the tribes-people were divided amongst themselves. The outlanders built a settlement in the Blackfens along the Stonewash and manned a guardpost on the Dawn Way. They named the lake after the patron of the venture, Lord Rhest, and fished it to feed themselves. Many younger hunters among the tribes visited the outlanders’ settlement regularly where there were women and drinks unlike any among their own people. Lord Rhest welcomed the young hunters and hired many of them into his garrison. With their younger generation divided the tribes native to the Vale withdrew. They shunned contact with outsiders and disappeared into history.
Over the next one hundred years the settlement at Lake Rhest grew stronger and trade along the Dawn Way increased. Lord Rhest’s descendants grew richer from the tariffs they charged along the old dwarf road. In time the city of Rhest had secured much of the vale and a large swath of land north of the Giantshield Mountains as well. As the city grew they built a system of locks and canals to push back the waters of the Blackfens. The lord of Rhest named himself King and the Vale became the Kingdom of Rhestilor. Under the protection of the king settlers spread across the Vale. Their guard-posts and tiny hamlets became flourishing towns.
Prosperous as it was the Kingdom of Rhest was far from peaceful. Raiders and bandits preyed upon the people of the Vale and each settlement kept whatever garrison they could to repel them. The forests of the Vale provided shelter for these criminals and from time to time the local garrison or militia would have to sweep the nearby forest clean of them. The mountains however were a different story.
END PROGRESS SO FAR
The world has never been a safe place. Bastions of civilization populate a dark, menacing world— islands of order and reason exist in a land otherwise overrun by dark cults, vile monsters, creatures from the dark edges of the imagination, and worse.
One such point of light is the Elsir Vale, a quiet frontier
land bordered by mountains. It is inhabited
by farming communities and various small
cities and towns. No monarch or ruler
holds sway over the Vale; each city is run
by a council and manages its affairs in a
state of relative peace with its neighbors.
The vale stretches almost 250 miles east
to west and averages about 70 miles
north to south. Several small mountain
ranges and dense forests form the vale’s
Though the borders of the vale are mostly
hills, mountains and forests, the heart of
the vale is grassy plains for the most part.
Every town in the vale is surrounded by
numerous farms. Beyond the civilized
areas are vast rolling plains with
infrequent hillocks and copses of trees.
Elsir Vale lies in the subtropical latitudes. Summers are
hot and dry (although punctuated by the occasional
intense thunderstorm),and winters are warm and rainy.
Large stretches of the area are quite arid, and the vale is
flanked by the vast savannas stretching for mile after
dusty mile. The forests that stretch across most of the
vale’s northern reaches are stifling and sweltering hot in
the summertime, with not a breath of wind to relieve the
oppressive heat. The largest town in the Vale is Brindol,
located roughly at its center. Brindol is a thriving trade
community and the starting point of your adventures. It
has seen its share of excitement over the years, most
recently forty years ago when it was the
center point of a war.
At the western edge of the Vale, a week’s
journey from Brindol, the city of Overlook
and its fortress of Bordrin’s Watch
command the only pass across the
Stonehome Mountains and keep the Vale
safe from the occasional Orc incursion
from the wild, lawless lands to the west.
In between, along the Dawn Road, lie a
number of smaller towns that serve as
market centers for outlying farming
communities and host various trade fairs.
The town of Dennovar lies to the east of
Brindol, and represents the last sizable
population center as the Vale spreads
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