Saturday 29 December 2012

The Graywood Elves & Southern High Forest

King Cirallon Swan-Cloak
Elves of the Graywood 
population. ca. 600
South-west of the Star Mounts and west of the Unicorn Run river, in the far south-west of the High Forest, there lies the small Wood Elf realm of the Graywood. The Graywood elves are believed to number only a few hundred, but they defend their borders (around three hundred square miles, ten deep by thirty wide) well against Uthgardt savages, Dark Elf slavers of Phaervorul, forest Gnolls, Orcs, and other foul beasts.
The Elves are ruled by the elf-king Cirallon.

King Cirallon Swan-cloak (1288-, Lvl 18 Defender), a powerful Sword-Mage, rules from his seat at Nordhaeril. He knows Arcane rituals to 18th level. Cirallon, a wood elf of sombre and regal demeanour, is married to his gorgeous half-elven Queen Avaranme.

Queen Avaranme Aerasumé 'the Healer' (1420-, Lvl 16 Leader), half-elf grand-daughter of Queen Alustriel of Silverymoon; her half-elven mother Lydia Aerasumé (1360-1472 DR) was sister to Luruar's current High Lord, her uncle Methrammar. Avaranme is gifted by Hanali Celanil (Sune, Goddess of Love & Beauty) with considerable powers - both as a healer and as a Paragon Heartwarder of Sune. Avaranme's stunning beauty is more sensual than ethereal; it is said that the mere sight of her can drive mortal men mad with desire. Avaranme can create Potions of Vitality, Keoghtem's Ointment, and other healing items to 16th level at 1/5 standard cost, and knows Religious & Healing Rituals  to 16th level. The royal couple have three young children, two daughters and a son, but King Cirallon is rumoured to be exasperated by the Sunite doctrine that 'love should be shared', and now keeps Avaranme away from non-elven males. The royal couple's eldest child Princess Moonshadow will soon come of age.

Queen Avaranme the Healer, Heartwarder of Sune
Recently (M2 1480 DR) the Wood Elves have been troubled by signs of fire giant activity in the region of the Endless Caverns, among the headwaters of the Unicorn Run. The famous 'Stronghold of the Nine' on the west bank of the Unicorn Run marks the eastern border of the Graywood, and is currently used as a bastion and patrol base for twenty elven Rangers of the Graywood. The "Rangers of the Nine" are currently commanded by Captain Quen Harrowleaf (Ranger, lvl 15), brother to Captain Viylir't'thin Harrowleaf of Loudwater's Guard Patrol. The elves had good relations with the affable Grimnosh, the 'Riddling Dragon' of the Endless Caverns. Grimnosh perished M4 1480 DR, killed by two Chimerae lured to his lair by greedy Phaervorul drow.

Captain Quen Harrowleaf
Level 15 Artillery
Medium natural humanoid (elf)
XP 1,200
HP 84; Bloodied 42
AC 28; Fortitude 27; Reflex 28; Will 26
Speed 6
Initiative +14
Perception +16
Low-Light Vision
Standard Actions
m Short Sword (weapon) • At-Will
Attack: Melee 1 (one creature); +20 vs. AC
Hit: 3d6 + 5 damage.
r Longbow (weapon) • At-Will
Attack: Ranged 20/40 (one creature); +22 vs. AC
Hit: 2d10 + 12 damage
R Rapid Shot (weapon) • At-Will
Attack: Ranged 20/40 (two attacks); +20 vs. AC
Hit: 2d10 + 5 damage.
Minor Actions
Hunter’s Quarry • At-Will
Effect: He designates the enemy nearest to him as his quarry. Once per round, he deals 2d6 extra damage to his quarry with an attack. This effect lasts until the end of the encounter, until the quarry is defeated, or until he uses this power again.
Skills Dungeoneering +16, Nature +16
Str 16 (+10)
Dex 25 (+14)
Wis 18 (+11)
Con 20 (+12)
Int 17 (+10)
Cha 14 (+9)
Alignment good     Languages Common, Elven, Giant
Equipment leather armor, short sword, longbow, arrow x30
At full strength the Rangers of the Nine number twenty men, all experienced archers and scouts:
Ranger of the Nine
Level 15 Minion Artillery
Medium natural humanoid (elf)
XP 300
HP 1; DT 17/8
AC 28; Fortitude 27; Reflex 28; Will 27
Speed 6
Initiative +11
Perception +14
Low-Light Vision
Standard Actions
m Short Sword (weapon) • At-Will
Attack: Melee 1 (one creature); +20 vs. AC
Hit: 10 damage.
r Longbow (weapon) • At-Will
Attack: Ranged 20/40 (one creature); +22 vs. AC
Hit: 12 damage.
R Rapid Shot (weapon) • At-Will
Attack: Ranged 20/40 (two attacks); +22 vs. AC
Hit: 9 damage.
Skills Dungeoneering +14, Nature +14
Str 13 (+8)
Dex 19 (+11)
Wis 15 (+9)
Con 14 (+9)
Int 14 (+9)
Cha 14 (+9)
Alignment good     Languages Common, Elven, Giant

The thirty-strong Kingsguard defend the persons of King Cirallon and Queen Avaranme:

Graywood Kingsguard
Medium fey humanoid
Level 15 Minion Soldier
HP 1; DT 17/8    Initiative +11
AC 31, Fortitude 28, Reflex 26, Will 27 Perception+15
Speed 7 Low-light vision
Wild Step
The elf ignores difficult terrain when it shifts.
Standard Actions
 Spear (weapon)  At-Will
Attack: Melee 2 (one creature); +20 vs. AC
Hit: 11 damage.
Effect: The elf marks the target until the end of the elf’s next turn.
Triggered Actions
Elven Accuracy  Encounter
Trigger: The elf makes an attack roll.
Effect (Free Action): The elf rerolls the triggering attack roll and uses the second result.
Skills Athletics +14, Nature +12
Str 15 (+9)                Dex 15 (+9)                Wis 16 (+10)
Con 18 (+11)                Int 11 (+7)                Cha 13 (+8)
Alignment Good        Languages Common, Elven
Equipment: chainmail , spear, large shield, longsword .
Published in Dungeon Magazine 200.

King Cirallon is also advised by Merath Anuvias, a veteran wood elf Silverstar of Selune:

Merath Anuvias, male Wood Elf Silverstar
Medium fey humanoid
Level 15 Controller
HP 64; Bloodied 32; Healing Surges 10; Surge Value 16 Initiative +9
AC 30, Fortitude 27, Reflex 27, Will 30 Perception+11
Speed 7 Low-light vision
Wild Step
Merath ignores difficult terrain when he shifts.
Standard Actions
 Moon Touch (charm)  At-Will
Attack: Melee 1 (one creature); +19 vs. Reflex
Hit: 1d8 + 11 damage, he can slide the target 1 square, and the target cannot make opportunity attacks until the end of  his next turn.
 Silver Ray (radiant)  At-Will
Attack: Ranged 20 (one creature); +19 vs. Reflex
Hit: 1d10 + 11 radiant damage, and he is invisible to the target until the end of his next turn. In addition, the target is considered to have been hit by a silvered weapon.
 Glorious Presence (charm, radiant)  Encounter
Attack: Close burst 2 (enemies in the burst); +19 vs. Will
Hit: 3d6 + 11 radiant damage, and he pushes the target up to 2 squares.
Effect: Merath and each ally in the burst gains 9 temporary hit points.
Triggered Actions
Elven Accuracy  Encounter
Trigger: Merath makes an attack roll.
Effect (Free Action): Merath rerolls the triggering attack roll and uses the second result.
Lingering Magic  Encounter
Trigger: An effect Merath imposed on an enemy would end on his current turn.
Effect (Free Action): The triggering effect instead ends at the end of Merath’s next turn.
Skills Arcana +15, Bluff +16, Diplomacy +16, Insight +14, Nature +11
Str 12 (+8)                Dex 14 (+9)                Wis 15 (+9)
Con 17 (+10)                Int 16 (+10)                Cha 18 (+11)
Alignment Good        Languages Common, Dwarven, Elven
Equipment: robes, holy symbol of Selune.
Religious, Healing & Arcane rituals to Level 15.

Material below in italics adapted from 'The North' by TSR.

Nordahaeril pop. 100 (Wood Elf Royal Court)
Nordahaeril, the main settlement of the Graywood elves, is a small tree-city west of the Stronghold of the Nine. King Cirallon holds court here with his Queen, Avaranme. It is a series of houses built around and in the trunks of the massive trees at the forest’'s heart. Consisting of approximately 20 trees and 30 individual buildings or huts interconnected by swinging vines, branch roads, and rope bridges between the trees, this settlement is typically home to about 100 sylvan elves. There is only one entrance to this colony from the forest floor, and it is a heavily guarded winding stair that ascends 100 feet up the interior of a massive oak to the lowest of Nordahaeril’'s outbuildings.

Stronghold of the Nine (Caerilcarn in Elvish) pop. 20 Elf Rangers of the Graywood

This fortress/cavern complex is shrouded by tall trees, and hard to find without an elven guide. A former Ammarindar dwarfhold once rebuilt by the Nine, a famous adventuring band led by the female archmage Laeral. Long-since abandoned by that group of heroes, it was taken over by wood elf Rangers of Graywood in service to King Cirallon who claimed the title of “Rangers of the Nine” as their own—, apparently with the blessing of Laeral.

Unicorn Run River
This clear, pristine river begins at the very heart of the High Forest, right at the base of the Star Mounts. Sacred to Mielikki, it is known for its purity, excellent fishing, and slow-moving current, as well as the fact that it'’s a gathering place for unicorns. Although the water does not detect as magical, something draws unicorns to its banks. 

The Sisters
South of the Star Mounts lie a series of escarpments and gorges created by the flow of the Unicorn Run called the Sisters. Considered the most beautiful and idyllic of locations by all who 

ever gaze upon them, the many multi-leveled waterfalls of the Sisters show the beauty that results from unspoiled nature. The mists and waters of the falls provide the moisture that allow scrub grass and vegetation to grow on the high plateaus and cliffs around them. These plateaus are home to a large number of centaurs, nereids, naiads, sylphs, pixies, and leprechauns. To see the moon rise over the Sisters and spot a unicorn atop a cliff is considered a blessing of good fortune from Mielikki.
Ancient elven legend of Eaerlann says that this sacred place is the Womb of the World; the Earth-Mother Chauntea calls the new races of Faerun into being here.

The Endless Caverns 
At the edge of the Sisters, the broken lands south of the Star Mounts, numerous caverns dot the cliffs, and most are unremarkable. However, a northern fork of the Unicorn Run flows from a huge opening in the cliff face, and the cave it creates is the entrance to what Harper rangers and druids know as the Endless Caverns. These are a series of deep-reaching cavern and tunnel complexes that the elves of Eaerlann (as do the elves and centaurs of the High Forest today) believed had connection points with the Deep Realms of Underearth. In the ancient days after the abandonment of Eaerlann, Grax Rekaxx, an ancient green dragon, made the mouth of the Endless Caverns his home. His moss-covered bones decorate the outermost cave chamber, where the river falls a short distance to join the Unicorn Run. However, no trace was found of his vast dragon hoard after his slaying at the hands of elven adventurers from Evereska ca 950 DR. For the past two centuries (ca 1300-1480 DR), Grimnoshtasdrano, the “Riddling Dragon (Large adult green),” made his residence in the ancient lair of Grax. He had quite an old and substantial hoard for a dragon of his relatively young age; he was simply the first to uncover the remains of Grax’'s hoard and absorb it into his own. Despite some distaste, Grimnosh left the bones of Grax in place simply as a warning to those who would test his patience. Grimnosh had good relations with the wood elf Rangers of the Nine. He fell to Chimerae in 1480 DR.
A human ranger, Skimmerhorn of Secomber, once reported evidence of illithid activity here on his investigation there in 1356 DR. Returning within a year’'s time with a band of adventurers and fellow rangers, they ventured into the Endless Caverns, flushed out an encampment of illithids and drow slavers, and went deeper to collapse the tunnels used to reach the surface. No word of their success— or survival— ever reached Secomber.

The Star Mounts
The majestic Star Mounts rise far above the forest canopy, usually shrouded in clouds or mist, making the view of the peaks impossible but for a few weeks  out of the year. Two rivers, the Unicorn Run and Heartblood River, claim headwaters from these mountains. The elves of Eaerlann first named the mountains, giving them the same names as stars in the northern heavens. Most of the original names are forgotten, only their rough translations survive: Bard’s Hill, Mount Vision, and Hunterhorn. Yet, a few are remembered: Y’tellarien (the Far Star), called Far Peak; Y’landrothiel (Traveler’s Star), called Mount Journey; and N’landroshien (Darkness in Light), called Shadowpeak. The forest south of the mountains hides a gnarled surface that might be called a badland were it not so densely thicketed. 
To the north, the land is unusually smooth, as if leveled with a woodworker’s plane. The mountains are also known to be rich in metals, including remarkably pure iron and nickel. But since the end of Eaerlann, no one mines there. The Star Mounts are an unapproachable curiosity. The ancient elven names hint at some unfathomable mystery, though most suspect the elves know the truth of it. As far as anyone knows, no flying creature less powerful than a dragon can land there due to constant and usually fierce winds. Huge crystals dot the surface of the mountains, many as large as small houses. There are several tower spires in the mountains with walls made of fractured crystal shards. When moonlight strikes the crystals, it creates webworks of reflected light across the surface of the mountain. On a spire at the heart of the Star Mounts during the full moon, the crystals' patterns of light are rumored to generate a gate to another plane (Arvandor?), and/or the light has the ability to resurrect anyone laid within the cairn of standing stones at its top of the spire.
Deva are known to incarnate here, and to return here when called.
Kenku wardens dwell here, guarding the crystal towers, and do not welcome visitors.


Black Dog Clan Uthgardt pop. 240+
This small Uthgardt clan dwelt towards the south edge of the High Forest, east of the Dire Wood and north of Castle deTrevani. They include the young half-elven Druidess Arael or 'Fires of the Heart' (Dru), formerly one of the Burning Hand adventurers with Esmerelda of Llorkh.  In M4 1479 DR their sacred oak was burned by the renegade Tiefling Morthos of Luskan, but they have since recovered, not least thanks to Arael's magical powers. As of M4 1480 DR the Black Dog Clan are believed to have withdrawn to the north, beyond the Heartsblood River, in search of a new Sacred Oak deeper in the High Forest.

The Dire Wood
The Dire Wood is about 20 miles across, ca 1400 square miles, though some say that within distance is oddly distorted, that it's larger within than without. It's marked by an outer ring of frozen, petrified white oak trees. Strange beasts unknown in the outside world are commonly encountered there. At the heart of the Dire Wood lies a redstone butte embedded with green crystals; legends say this was once a flying city of Netheril. The ruined city of Karse is built at the northern foot of the butte, with the waters of the Heartblood River lapping its crumbling quays.

Tigerclaw Uthgardt pop. ca 3000, with around 1,000 warriors.
Prince Konn, Son of Scargash, Tigerclaw Tiger Rider
In the winter of 1479-1480 DR, a large band of roaming Uthgardt barbarians unaffiliated with the  northern Tree Ghost Tribe crossed the frozen Heartsblood River and entered the Dire Wood. Some of the Tigerclaw are Shifters, with the blood of tigers in their veins. Reports from elven scouts and the river-halflings of the Heartsblood indicate that the Tigerclaw are searching the ruins of Karse. They have numerous snow tiger companions, and there are reports that a large white dragon has been seen accompanying them. The Ranger Jorah Blackthorn reported that the Uthgardt have referred to the dragon as Bitterstrike, and that it (she) has only one eye.
1481 DR: The Tigerclaws under Prince Konn (Level 16 Striker) are friendly but distant to Loudwater to the south.

The River Halflings of the Heartsblood River pop. ca. 1,200
Some 1,200 halflings have long dwelt in well-hidden burrows along the banks of the Heartblood river, with the exception of the central run where it dips into the sinister Dire Wood and laps the ancient stone quays of ruined Karse. They are a goodly folk, though reclusive and tight-lipped. In olden times they often ventured south to trade with the folk of Loudwater, but the fall of Castle deTrevani to the Hill Orcs made that trip too dangerous for any but the boldest. The River Halflings are said to be divided into two Shires, Upwater and Downwater, bisected by the northern thrust of the Dire Wood. Each Shire has its own Shire-Reeve, an elected headman, currently Will Oakshot is the Downwater Sheriff. Most halflings travel miles overland rather than take the water-route past Karse; many rash souls who dare the water-trip are never seen again.
The borders of both Upwater and Downwater are protected by the Bounders (MP1 pg 28), an elite cadre of halfling warriors under Tal Goodfellow (Level 14 Defender).
Update: The restoration of deTrevani Barony by Amara deTrevani & Ashara of Akanul from M2 1480 DR onwards has opened up the Heartblood River and the River Shires to trade with Loudwater once more.
 22/6/1480: Night has fallen when you spot the bluebell trail down to the hidden dell where nestles the Halfling village of Downwater. Approaching you are met by Bounders, the Halflings' elite guards, who escort you to the Shire-Reeve's hillside estate/halfling-hole. You are taken to an antechamber (Lirael ducking) to wait while your leter of introduction is presented to the Shire-Reeve. After a short time Shire-Reeve Will Oakshot, a bewhiskered middle-aged fellow, enters and greets you. With him is a lean, weatherbeaten Halfling with a warrior's look - Tal Goodfellow, leader of the Bounders. Will greets you cordially: "Any friend of the Baroness deTrevani is a friend of mine!" Tal is more taciturn., You ask about the Tigerclaw. Will: "They passed through Upwater Shire last winter on their way in to Karse. The Bounders monitored them..." Tal nods: "We count them as three thousand, with a thousand warriors, hunting cats and sabretooths in numbers too. And the dragon of course. They've claimed the Dire Wood for their own; drove out or killed every orc and goblin they find. We avoid them, and as far as we know, they don't know we exist."
 Tal: "We didn't want to take a chance, so we told the Folk to hide from them. They've kept very tight within the Boundary Line of the Dire Wood, and we don't go in there, so no trouble - they've harmed none of us directly. We had some trouble with Frost Goblins fleeing the Dire Wood though... took us a couple days to hunt 'em all down, and a couple of my men were wounded." Will nods: "Aye, but now they've cleared the Dire Wood I'd say they're about as good neighbours as one could expect, for a place like that. From what you were telling me, Tal, looks like there's not a single Orc or Goblin clan left south of the Heartblood now, from here to the Star Mounts. First time I could say that in a hundred years - perhaps forever." Will Oakshot lights his pipe and puffs contentedly. "So far, they've been good news for us. But we didn't want to risk approaching them, just in case..."
Shire-Reeve Will Oakshot offers Dunstan and Lirael smoking pipes, then continues: "If I were a religious man, I'd say Lady Yondalla - that's yer Mielikki/Chauntea, Miss Lirael - had sent them Uthgardt as a blessing to us. I feel it in me bones - good times are coming to the Shires, and the Vale." The Bounder captain Tal Goodfellow smiles wryly as he lights his own pipe. "Perhaps, Will, perhaps. But I'll be keepin' up my prayers to Arvoreen the Defender, just in case..."
Upwater: Will Oakshot: "Upwater folks are a little queer, if you ask me... Tattoos and hair-braids - why, they're half-Uthgardt themselves! But Tal knows them well and seems to get on with them, don't you Tal?"

Karse (ruin)
In the center of the Dire Wood are the ancient ruins of Karse. In older days, religious Netherese emigrants built this city at the northern edge of a tall butte of red stone, dotted with green crystals said to be the blood of Karsus. The crumbling redstone docks of Karse lie on the south shore of the Heartblood river, within the Dire Wood perimeter which extends a few miles north of the river at that point.

Like Eaerlann and many places, the town of Karse was abandoned after the fall of Ascalhorn and left to ruin. Both normal forest and black, petrified oaks have grown throughout the ruins. The only building that weather the centuries without scars is an eerie black pyramid that pulses and flickers with a sickly green radiance - the ancient Temple of KarsusThe Netherese lich Wulgreth, whose infamy is legendary as the fool whose meddling demon summoning led to the fall of Ascalhorn, Eaerlann and Ammarindar in 882 DR, made Karse’'s ruins its home after fleeing Ascalhorn/Hellgate, until finally destroyed by the Shadovar Prince Melagaunt of Netheril immediately prior to the Shadovar's return to Faerun in the year of Wild Magic.

Mhiilamniir (ruin)
Mhiilamniir is the most complete reminder of Eaerlann’'s civilization outside of Tall Trees. Less than two days’ travel from the end of the Old Road (or three days’ travel east from the Lost Peaks) puts travelers among the overgrown ruins of the lost temple city of Eaerlann. At the height of Eaerlann’'s civilization, Mhiilamniir was the location of a number of major temples and seats of power for elven clergies of the North. Not one building in Mhiilamniir today is not thoroughly covered by mosses, undergrowth, shrubbery, or small trees. The largest building was the central temple, once dedicated to Corellon Larethian, that sits at the hub of the small grove-enshrouded ruins. With its central dome long shattered and fallen, its jagged edges of stone are the only easily sought suggestions that a city once stood here. Unfortunately, Mhiilamniir is no longer safe for elven pilgrims, since Corellon'’s temple is the lair of an Elder (Huge) green dragon female named Chloracridara (since ca 1350 DR?). Chlora is rabidly paranoid about protecting her not-inconsiderable hoard— from raiders, and she attacks anyone she finds within the ruins of the temple city. Chlora is known to have mated with Grimnosh the riddling dragon, who paid much of Graxx Rekax's hoard for the privilege in dowry, and they have several offspring, young adult green dragons who roam the High Forest and beyond. As of 1480 DR two of her daughters are said to still dwell with Chlora in the ruins.

Reitheillaethor pop. ca. 200-400?
Reitheillaethor is a newish (ca 1360 DR), well hidden wood elven settlement east of Karse, a few miles north-east of the Heartblood River and west of the eastern edge of the High Forest where it rises to the valley of the Upper Delimbyr . Unlike Nordahaeril, this is a colony on the forest floor, still primarily using huts and tents. Many of Reitheillaethor'’s inhabitants are nomads within the forest, coming to this site only during the winter. The few permanent buildings are wooden lodges, and they all seem to have grown out of the entwining roots and bark of the surrounding trees. Reitheillaethor is a circular encampment around one huge, central lodge with four great oaks as its four corners. Seven smaller lodges and a ring of trees form a perimeter around that center, and the remainder of the settlement tends to be individual tents, lean-tos, and temporary cabins. While the sylvan elves of the High Forest are all hunters and gatherers, the elves of Reitheillaethor are also accomplished fishermen and craftsmen. In fact, the graceful yet sturdy pottery they create from the red clay along the banks of the Heartblood River is a valuable trade commodity both within and outside of the High Forest. 

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