No D&D this week, but I took the opportunity to expand a bit on the geography and current events beyond the Nentir Vale (pictured above). The map I’ve sketched is on graph paper in pencil, and I don’t have access to a scanner yet.
North of the Vale
The orcs that brought the Bloodspear War into the Nentir Vale continue to thrive between, under and on the Stonemarch, in their vast warrens called the Fanged Jaws of Kulkoszar. Cheif Urfeng Bloodspear eyes the Nentir Vale, and Fallcrest in particular, as irritants that must be stricken from the memory of his people. The Keep on the Shadowfell stands in his way.
West of Kulkoszar and leading north out of the Winterbole Forest is the Glacial Pass, a wind-swept and narrow plain emptying into a wide taiga. Above this frozen stretch of land rise the Frostjaw Peaks, a cluster of jagged mountains dominated by the Titan’s Vigil. It is said that a structure of some sort exists above the clouds that always conceal the top of the Vigil in darkness and the occasional flash of lightning. None who have dared to test the Vigil have returned.
South of the Vale
The King’s Road leads south out of the Nentir Vale to two very different cities, each about the size of Fallcrest. To the west along the coast is the stoic walled port of Stormwatch. Its lighthouse is one of the largest in the world. Princess Tavia Stillwater maintains control of the city, though threats of the Iron Circle and a possible blockade coupled with increased tariffs seem poised to choke her and her city into submission.
On the other side of the King’s Road through the Vale is the city formerly known as Adamantine. When Emperor Lysander seized power, King Alphonse Markelhay of Adamantine was among those who refused to kneel to the new potentate. He was returning to Adamant Keep to prepare for war when he disappeared. It is rumored he was slain by highwaymen of the Iron Circle. Indeed, the mercenary force moved into the city backed by the Emperor’s sorcerers and vicious beasts, putting down resistance and claiming it for their own. The Emperor declared the city be renamed Sarthel, in honor of his late father.
Resistance remains in Erathgate, the coastal city south of Stormwatch. Baron Silas Shandra pays homage to the Emperor but does all he can to keep commerce flowing to Stormwatch and his own ports rather than the Imperial-controlled Junction or the free city of Daggerport. He is a prudent and cautious man, and does not wish to call undue attention to his sympathy towards the anti-Imperial forces.
The Second Nerathan Empire
South of Erathgate, the King’s Road becomes known as the Imperial Highway. It leads to Junction, the largest city outside of Nerath itself and a crucial part of the Emperor’s strategy of securing his rule. Duke Karl Calebros, the Emperor’s finest warrior outside of the Executioner, has ensured that all commerce worth having comes into Junction, having raised tariffs on shipping to and from Stormwatch and exaggerating the dangers of Daggerport.
Along the Highway to the east is Nerath itself. Easily twice the size of Fallcrest and seated where the Nentir River splits in three, it maintains control of most of the commerce flowing through the region. Until recently, it was a city administered by a duke and every five years played host to the Games of Ascension. If the current king could be defeated in an honorable tournament, he would be come Duke of Nerath while his opponent became King, at least until the next Games. King Perrin II had been king for twenty years before Prince Lysander Nerath arrived with his Iron Circle mercenaries, dark sorcerers, priests of Bane and tamed beasts to seize the city and declare himself Emperor.
South of Nerath along the Imperial Highway, which follows the Scintil River, Shoredale rests near Lake Iris. It is a quiet and peaceful town, a bit smaller than Fallcrest, where the farmers of the southern plains gather to trade goods and barter for new equipment as caravans travel between Nerath and Fortune’s Harbor to the south. Baron Gabor Zoltus capitulated to the Emperor without contest.
Fortune’s Harbor serves as the gateway to both the Eladrin leading north to the elven lands and the mysterious Caliphate of Seven Stars to the south. Earl Carlson Everdawn ascended to ruling the city after his mother, a favorite to become Queen, was poisoned by her chancellor, who now advises the Earl not to contend with the will of the Emperor.
The only openly free city in the Nerathan Empire lies along the Low Road, across the long stone bridge called The Hilt. The delta of the Nentir Vale, The Knives, frames the city to the west. The natural defences of the coast allow the shipping to and from Daggerport to avoid some of the Imperial patrols, just as they did the Royal Coast Guard before it.
Daggerport is not ruled by a noble or even a particular group of individuals. However, anybody living or trading in Daggerport knows they had better not cross Szcathia, the drow reportedly in control of Daggerport’s network of thieves and assassins. To engage in commerce in Daggerport is to engage in crime, and Szcathia is Daggerport’s criminal mastermind.
Dwarves & Elves
East of the Nerathan Empire are two of the most extant threats to the new potentate. As soon as he seized control of Nerath, Emperor Lysander sent emissaries to the Dawnforge Dwarves. The messages spoke of a pact of non-agression between the dwarves and the Nerathan Empire. The dwarves agreed, but not before allowing some of the elite forces of Adamantine to flee into their holds. Before Lysander could protest, the mighty stone doors in the shadow of Adamant Hold rolled shut, leaving Hammerfast the only open road into dwarf territory in the region.
South of Sarthel is the Moonwood, seperated by the greater Feywood by the city of Sehavia. While the city boasts some idyllic mountain retreats, natural hot spring baths and all the wonders of the Feywild available for sale or trade, it is also a place for the exchange of secrets. Eladrin and tieflings are common sights in the city, far moreso here than in any other city in the region.
The Feystride takes travellers south from Sehavia to the other sylvan city in the region, Meloravia. A port city far from Fortune’s Harbor, Meloravia rests at the apex of the Eladrin Bay. Intrepid explorers can seek adventurous crews to take them around the Black Marsh towards the Bay of Bahamut, rumored to be a gateway to a realm of metallic dragons and untold hoards of treature. However, the waters in the bays are treacherous, and more than a few crews have washed up in the turgid, stinking waters of the Black Marsh to make their sticky way home, while others are never seen again.
The Feystride then leads east into the Feywood. Little is known of this place. It is said the elves (not eladrin) hail from this realm, and that it is a shard of the Feywild itself, just as ways to the Shadowfell lay concealed beneath the Stonemarch.