Saturday, 17 December 2011

Gray Vale

See NPCs Page.
Beneath the mysterious Star Mounts, at the southern edge of the ancient High Forest, the Gray Vale straddles the river Delimbiyr in the North. A prosperous region thanks to river traffic, merchant caravans from distant lands, and other travelers looking for treasure amid the wreckage of lost kingdoms, Gray Vale is a land ripe for adventure.
Common Knowledge
Gray Vale has grown into a trade center in the North in large part due to the success of Loudwater. This small town has an advantageous location at the confluence of the Delimbiyr and Grayflow rivers. Rich and arable farmland enables the community to thrive. Most merchants in the vicinity use the river to transport goods, making Loudwater an ideal nexus for nearly all commerce in this part of the world.
Although Loudwater and other small settlements enjoy some prosperity, the threat of danger checks their growth. Displaced savages from beyond the High Forest are a constant peril. Goblins infest the Southwood, snatching cattle, supplies, and the occasional child before retreating to the dim shelter of their foreboding forest. Whispers of Najaran serpentfolk fill the taprooms as locals peer suspiciously at strangers, ever watchful for these sinister infiltrators. All of these dangers and more cast a pall of fear and mistrust over Gray Vale.
Regional Features 
Gray Vale’s borders are soft, shifting with the ambitions of prospectors and settlers, but all who live in this rich valley regard the Star Mounts as its northern boundary, the rugged Graypeak Mountains as the eastern border, and the High Moor as its southern perimeter. The Vale stretches west, following the Grayflow out to the Sword Coast, though the influence of the area thins as one draws closer to the Western Heartlands.

Dominions of the Gray Vale (1481 DR)
Western Gray Vale
Barony of Secomber - allied with Loudwater - Lord Boris
Urshani Hobgoblins of the High Moor
Graywood Elves - King Cirallon Swancloak

Central Gray Vale
Tigerclaw Uthgardt of the Dire Wood - Prince Konn
Korzzbad Goblins - vassal to Queen Esmerelda of Llorkh
Lordship of Loudwater - Lady Eclara Moonfire
Loudwater vassal manors
Northwood - Lady Lirael Widdershins-Sirocco
Brownstone - Sir Joran Amainas, regent for Sir Halvard Brooke
Virdan - Sir Cottel Jameson
Sunstone - Sir Rory Amainas
Malt - Sir Otto Falthis
Alwyck - Lady Thaya Rensard
Jelt - Dame Lisania Vanegold
Oakbank - Sir Harvarr Quortath
Hartsfont - Sir Brandini Covere
Barony deTrevani - Lady Amara deTrevani (inc Fiery Spire, Greentree, Trevan, Castle deTrevani)

To North: Heartblood River Halflings of Upwater and Downwater Shire.

Eastern Gray Vale
Adakmi - town council
Kingdom of Orlbar - Queen Valeris (inc Malwych, Redar, Brightwater, Graystone)
Vassal to Orlbar: Erstlin - Sir Dolf Dragonheart 
Realm of the Mountain King - King Oro Loroth (inc Loagrann, Hali, Ogremouth) - allied with Llorkh
Kingdom of Llorkh - Queen Esmerelda 
Vassal to Llorkh:
Irondawn - town council
Timbervale - Lord Tirios Sevrym
Korzzbad Goblins of Southwood - Warlord Delderosh

To South: Glintshield Dwarves of Citadel Yaunaroth and the Vale of Naurogloth - allied with Llorkh
To East: Shadovar Empire of Netheril
To North: Frost Giants of the Graypeak Mountains
The whole Gray Vale region had been under pressure in the century since the Spellplague due to the change in magic, climate etc - initially cold, famine and disease, more recently orc, goblin, Uthgardt and other raiders, no longer easily dealt with through powerful spells. Many villages and some larger towns have been abandoned. Some people died; others fled west to the Sword Coast. A century ago Loudwater itself was a sprawling unwalled garden city of around 8,000; by 1479 it's a much smaller fortified township of 2,000.

Loudwater: Easily the largest settlement in Gray Vale, Loudwater is encircled by a wall of timber and stone more than 20 feet high. The fortifications and the determined but personable people living here make Loudwater an attractive stop for travelers of all kinds. The High Lords of Loudwater claim a demesne that traditionally begins around twenty miles west of town, four miles east of now-ruined Zelbross, and extends east from Loudwater twenty-four miles or so to the borders of Orlbar territory. The High Forest marks the northern border, the South Wood the south. Currently the village of Oakbank, 24 miles east of Loudwater between the Delimbiyr and Grayflow, is the easternmost settlement that owes allegiance to the High Lord, Lady Moonfire. Several families of petty nobles are still vassal to the Moonfire clan, such as the Kiris-deTrevani, Kiris Alkirk & his daughter the Baroness Amara deTrevani, the Covere of Hartsfont, the Amainas of Sunstone,  and the Brookes of Brownstone, but their numbers have been in decline since the Spellplague. See Loudwater NPCs

Manorial Rents
Resources: (2) Timber, Arable (Loudwater: Docks, Market).
Rural Manors Typical Net Cash Rents: 2gp/person (20% High Lord, 20% Reeve, 60% Lord of the Manor). Cash Rents are received M1.

Manors & Tributary Villages (12) - population - Liege (below the High Lord)
There are currently 11 manors and thus 11 landed families in the Dominion of Loudwater. The Kiris manor is considered extinct since the loss of Kiris Dahn.
1) Moonfire Manor pop. 2040 (urban) - Steady, +2%
Loudwater - 2040 - Lady Moonfire, the High Lord of the Vale
2) North (Tavys) Manor pop. 800 - Healthy, +4%
Area 40 sq miles of farmland and waste, pop. 800, of which 200 in 30 farmsteads, 600 in villages. Cash rent to lord avg 960gp/yr). Jorah Blackthorn is Steward of the Manor.
Tavysburg - 350 - Lady Lirael (PC), formerly Lady Eclara Travys (kidnapped M6? 1479 DR, recovered M3 1480).  Dame Aryn Blackthorn is Reeve in Tavysburg, her adult sons Sirs Jorah, Michael & Arren are knights.
Elfstree - 250 - mostly half-elves & some elves. Home village of Lirael Widdershins.
3) Brooke/West Manor (area 30 sq miles, pop. 760) - Average, +0%
Brownstone - 570 - Sir Halvard Brooke, elder daughter Amanda, runaway daughter Kathy at Fisher's Friend in Loudwater from M11 1479 DR. Halvard was killed by Zhents M2 1480, raised by Halvath the Green Regent.
4) Jameson Manor (pop. 500) - Average, +0%
Virdan - 350 - Sir Cottel Jameson, new wife Lana (fr 1479-, killed by Zhents 2/180, raised by Green Regent), old maid Sylvia
5) Amainas Manor (pop. 561) - Steady, +2%
Sunstone - 561 - Sir Rory Amainas, son Sir Joran
6) Covere Manor (pop. 714) - Steady, +2%
Hartsfont - 500 - Sir Brandini Covere, his daughter Carlia is Lady Moonfire's Lady-in-Waiting
7) deTrevani Barony (pop. 1400) - Healthy, +4%
Trevan - 300 - (from M2 1480 DR): The Baroness Amara deTrevani, daughter of Lord Kiris Alkirk, at Castle deTrevani, aided by the the genasi fire wizard Ashara, Head of the Fiery Spire school of pyromancy.
Greentree - 800 (from M4 1480 DR): mostly half-elves & some elves
8) Falthis Manor (pop. 306) - Steady, +2%
Malt - 250 - Sir Otto Falthis the Half-Dwarf
9) Vanegold Manor (pop. 800) - Average, +0%
Jelt - 700 - Lady Lisania Vanegold
10) Quortath Manor (pop. 950) - Average, +0%
Oakbank - 800 - formerly inc. Temple of Oghma - Sir Harvarr Quortath
11) Rensard Manor (pop. 700) - Average, +0%
Alwyck - 550 - Lady Jaela Rensard

Urban population: 2,000 in Loudwater
Village population: 6,000
Total domain population: 9,531 (M4 1480 DR est.), levy forces ca 950.

Loudwater Demesne Standing Forces, ca 225* (1480 DR)
Loudwater Town
50 Loudwater Patrol min-7
20 Loudwater Wall Guard min-9
20 Moonfire Personal Guard min-11
9+ Knights min-13
6+ Knights min-15
100 Nobles' House Guard min-8 to min-11, Travys Manor min-13
+ca 20 Miscellaneous - Rangers, other nobles, etc
*Up from 200 in 1479: +13 Travys Manor House Guard, +12 deTrevani House Guard.

The Green Regent - Halvath Cormarrin (PC) (M2+ 1480 DR)
In late winter 1480 DR, Halvath Cormarrin of Brownstone received a vision from Mielikki and became the first Green Regent since the Spellplague, the first in a hundred years. Whereever the green-bearded Regent walks, life flourishes...
M4-5 1480: Havlath works on establishing lasting symbols and pathways for the people to remember and engage with the Lady of the Forest. This includes practicing and refining Floragami - directing Green Regent quick growth of vegetation into symbols and shapes. Halvath works on, for example, growing a blade of grass into the rough shape of a Unicorn as he reaches to take it up and present it as part of a blessing to supplicants, or topiary forms for establishing, marking, or adorning sacred places in the forest. Halvath particularly tasks promising individuals to tend and establish sacred places in the forest, and to spread the work of Mielikki. In his travels, the Green Regent also begins to mobilize and seek appropriate recruits, Lady willing, for the Forestarms (spiritual followers), Needles (rangers), and Shadoweirs (woodland knights) of Mielikki; seeking to strengthen and bring the protectors of the vale into a more unified force against the darkness ahead.
 M4-5 1480 DR: With word of the Green Regent (Halvath Cormarrin) spreading throughout the Vale, Halvath's shrine at Brownstone becomes a place of pilgrimage and the centre of the Regent's growing faith. Amanda Brooke asks to become a Forestarm and tend the Shrine, and is accepted. 21/6/1480: With the Regent's blessing at the Summer Ball, Amanda is engaged to marry Sir Joran Amainas, Shadoweir of the Green Regent. Amanda can employ 1st level Religious/Healing/Nature rituals.

1. Shera the Priestess  (Ritual level 6), Secomber
2. Amanda Brooke (Ritual level 1), Priestess of the Shrine, Brownstone

1. Boris, Lord of Secomber
2. Sir Joran Amainas, Guardian of the Shrine, Brownstone
3. Sir Rory Amainas, lord of Sunstone
4. Sir Cottel Jameson, lord of Virdan
5. Diora Falthis of Malt, Guardian of the Shrine, Brownstone 

1. Trapper John, Chief of Needles, Brownstone (from M6 1480)

The River Pirates
The River Pirates were linked to the Zelbross slavers, but not the same people the Burning Hand eliminated at Zelbross, although there may have been some overlap. They were raiding along the Greyflow during the first 6 months of 1479 DR, selling captives to Humungus' Zelbross slavers, who also bought captives from the Lady of Shadows and from Zark the half-dwarf, then transported them on to Najara as serpent-brides. The pirates are believed to have kidnapped Amara deTrevani and other women individually, but they also launched two major raids, the sacking of the Temple of Oghma near Oakbank, and the sacking of Travys Manor. Their slave raids ceased after the Burning Hand wiped out their customers the Zelbross slavers.

Llorkh: Ever an unsavory place, Llorkh had sharply declined in recent years. A string of incompetent rulers drove off most of the honest residents, and the ruined city served as a haven for a self-styled bandit king and his lackeys.
The Star Mounts: This ancient range of mountains marks the southern boundary of the High Forest and takes its name from the queer lights that shine from its heights. Legends claim that these mysterious mountains are home to dragons, elves, strange birdfolk, and more. Perhaps the most unusual story is that in the upper reaches, great crystal towers grow out of the rock. It is uncertain just who or what lives inside these towers (if they even exist), because clouds blanket the peaks year round and few have the courage to ascend the heights.
The High Forest: From the northern slopes of the Star Mounts and stretching for miles to the north is the High Forest, an ancient wood notoriously haunted by fey creatures, gnolls, and drow. Infrequently, wood elves of the forest trade with the people of Loudwater, but they are tight-lipped about what goes on in their sylvan homeland.
The Graypeak Mountains: Sheltering the people of Gray Vale from the distant doom of Netheril is a range of old, rugged mountains known as the Graypeaks. Barren and capped in ice and snow, these mountains are said to be home to giants and vicious wild and unnatural creatures. Adventurers who have braved the peaks report ancient dwarven ruins buried beneath the stone, and their claims are supported by old dwarven coins, weaponry, and other antiquities that have been recovered.
Southwood: This young forest separates a portion of Gray Vale from the Highstar Lake and the serpent people of the High Moor. Local woodcutters occasionally take timber from this forest but do so at great risk, for a large tribe of goblins has staked its claim here.
People of Gray Vale 
Unlike other areas of the North, the people of Gray Vale are decidedly mixed, blending cultures from all over the region. But humanity has a slight edge, and most humans have fair skin, hair that ranges from blond to light brown, and the full range of eye colors (though hazel is dominant). A proud people, they are self-reliant, tough, and grizzled, accustomed to the hardships that press against them. Most folks are farmers, though plenty of miners try their hand at coaxing more out of the old mines of the Graypeaks.
Half-elves comprise another large group of the Gray Vale population. Like the humans of this area, the half-elves have fair skin and light hair. Although most retain signs of their elven heritage, years of human and half-elf marriages have diminished these traits until most half-elves could pass for human.
In addition, one can find a number of dwarves, drawn to Gray Vale to reclaim their lost holds. Halfling fisherfolk work the river, living alongside their human allies. The region even has a smattering of eladrin and elves, though most members of those races encountered in the Vale hail from the High Forest to the north.

Trade in the Gray Vale (1480 DR)
Trade runs from Daggerford on the Trade Way, east up the Grayflow River to Loudwater, east to Llorkh, south from there to Timbervale/Stonefang Tunnel/Citadel Yaunaroth (Glintshield Dwarves). Some trade passes east from Llorkh over Dawntreader Gap to the Fallen Lands then on to Netheril or Evereska, but that is a tough route and dangerous. Recently Amara deTrevani opened up the old trade route from Loudwater north-east through deTrevani to the River Halfling Shires on the Heartblood River.
Loudwater exports simple manufactured goods, linen, planed hardwood (not raw timber), and a small amount of food, mostly grains and cured hams, also beer. Loudwater imports luxury goods from the Sword Coast (eg wine), high value manufactures (eg weapons and armour) from the Sword Coast and now also from Naurogloth, and raw iron ingots from Llorkh.

Llorkh exports high quality iron from the local mines, and small amounts of precious metals, importing food.
The Glintshield Dwarves (Yaunaroth/Naurogloth) export dwarven manufactured goods, jewelry, and some precious weapons, and import food, especially grain, some of which is re-exported as beer.
The Heartblood River Halflings export smoked fish and pipeweed. They import manufactured goods, especially metalwork, and beer.
Timbervale exports bacon, and raw timber down the Grayflow.
Secomber exports dried fish. Logging the Unicorn Run is forbidden, but a small amount of raw timber is exported from the north side of the Grayflow, downstream west to Daggerford.

The High Moor
In M3 1480 DR the serpentfolk of Najara exchanged a captive serpent-bride, Lady Eclara Travys, for their wereserpent spy Lyath. During the exchange an agreement was reached with Loudwater (Lirael) - no human of the Vale would enter Najara, including all the High Moor, and in turn no Najaran would enter the Vale.
Most folk think the Moor is a rocky wilderness, vast and uninhabited
—except by trolls. Its soil is too thin for farming, and
its stone,— mostly granite, —is of poor quality for mining. It'’s
sparsely settled by human barbarian tribes that raise goats and
sheep on the moors, guard caravans coming from the east, and
fight constantly with the various goblinoid tribes.
Bound on the west by the Misty Forest, whose dim blue
glades and deep groves have always carried a fey and whimsical
—but deadly —reputation, and on the east by the yuan-ti
and ophidian-haunted Serpent Hills, these crag-studded,
rolling grasslands are said to hide the ruins of lost, long-fallen
kingdoms. Just which kingdoms sages argue furiously over.
Minstrels sing colorful but contradictory ballads on the topic,
and legends are uniformly vague. “"The bones and thrones of
lost lands"” is a favorite phrase; it'’s borrowed from a long forgotten
A few wolves and leucrotta are the most numerous predators
on the Moor thanks to trolls, bugbears, and hobgoblins,
who have slain most other large beasts of prey. Their relative
scarcity has allowed hooved grazing animals of all sorts to
flourish, from small, sure-footed rock ponies to shaggy-coated
sheep. Those who dare to venture onto the moor can be assured
of ready food - —either they catch it, or they become it.
Rope trip-traps, javelins, and arrows are the favored ways of
bringing down the fleet grazing animals, although those with
patience and a quick hand can dine on grouse, flunderwings,
rabbits, and ground-dwelling moor rats in plenty.
Like the Evermoors north of the Dessarin, the High Moor
is studded with lichen-festooned rocky outcrops, moss, breakneck
gullies, and small rivulets of clear water that spring from
the ground, wind among the rocks for a time, and then sink
down again. It’s also shrouded by frequent mists. The prevailing
winds are gentler breezes than the mist-clearing, chill
winds of the North.
With the obvious exception of Dragonspear Castle, ruins are
harder to find in the moorlands. Foundations and cellars are
usually all that remain—and almost all such serve as the lairs of
monsters. Many towers have toppled into rock piles and have
later been hollowed out to serve as tombs— which have in turn
been plundered and then turned into dwellings by beasts arriving
still later. There are also legends of magically hidden castles
and high houses appearing only in certain conditions, such as
full moonlight or deep mists, to those in the right spot.

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