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Archive for the ‘Settings’ Category

This order was created by Mike Holmes.

The Order of the Amethyst Star has been headquartered in Great-harbor since it’s inception more than five centuries ago.  The order has seen the ancient city be absorbed by the Nerath Empire, and then become a city-state once again after the dissolution of the empire and has gone through significant changes since it’s inception.

Back in that time, a band of elves came to Greatharbor to spread the word of their goddess of the moon. The humans, fearful of elven domination, were reluctant to adopt this new religion.  Eventually the elves began to leave after a time, disappointed.  Then came a human prophet named Alucara, who taught the people of Greatharbor that the moon is it’s own goddess, and that the elves’ portrayal of her as elven was simply their own personification of the fair deity of the night sky and that one had only to look up at night to see her actual form.  Thus some few of the humans of Greatharbor and other regions around were enjoined to become part of the worship of the moon.

Alucara later was blinded by an attack by a dragon that burned out his eyes. From that point he found that he could still reach out to the moon, seeing it in his mind, if not with his eyes.  Seeing through the illusions of the night, to the truth hidden behind it, he could discern things of the world that were reflected in the movements of the objects of the sky.

He wrote of how anyone with enough willpower could close their eyes, and see as he saw, using techniques to move the mind from the body into the night sky.  These techniques were recorded into the Book of Revelations of the Bright Night.  The humans who worship this moon deity no longer use her elven name, but instead think of only her songs.  Hence their temples are called Moonsong Temples.

The Order of the Amethyst Star began when certain studious men reading the Book of Revelations of the Night Sky decided that these methods should be taught to those with the talent enough to be able to open their minds. The founder learned that by donning certain gems, cut certain ways, and mounted right, and worn properly amplified the abilty to do these things.

The primary talisman of the order is the Amythest ring that they all carry

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Riders of the Vale

The Riders are a small group of bards, rangers and sorcerers who act as messengers, scouts and protectors of the people of the Nentir Vale.  They are not controlled or funded by any political body within the Vale.  The Riders support themselves financially through fees charged for message delivery, scouting services and adventuring.

Harkenwold Rangers

Harkenwold is protected by a group of Rangers that roam the land around the villages and farmsteads of the area.  There are 5 rangers currently ranging in experience.  All of them are considered vassals of Baron Stockmer; although, he makes very little requirements of them except in times of war.

House Azaer

A small, well-off trading company, House Azaer is owned by the tieflings of the Azaer family. They import goods (including arms and armor) from Hammerfast, Harkenwold, and the lands to the south, and organize caravans up to Winterhaven several times a year. House Azaer is an excellent place to purchase nearly any mundane equipment , although its prices are a little on the high side.

Amara Azaer is in charge of the house business in Fallcrest, and spends her time on the premises. Though young, the tiefling is quite sharp and doesn’t miss an opportunity for profit in running the Azaer business.

Coming Soon…

  • House Markelhay
  • House Naerumar
  • House Stockmer
  • Dwarves of Hammerfast
  • Ugasthan Tribes
  • Swiftwater Clan
  • Halfmoon Clan

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Map of the Nentir Vale

Map of the Nentir Vale

Fallcrest lies near the middle of the broad borderland region known as the Nentir Vale. The vale is now mostly empty, with a handful of living villages and towns scattered over this wide area. Abandoned farmsteads, ruined manors, and broken keeps litter the countryside. Bandits, wild animals, and monsters roam freely throughout the vale, threatening anyone who fares more than few miles away from one of the surviving settlements. Travel along the roads or river is usually safe — usually. But every now and then, travelers come to bad ends between towns.

The Nentir Vale is a northern land, but it sees relatively little snow — winters are windy and bitterly cold. The Nentir River is too big to freeze except for a few weeks in the coldest part of the year. Summers are cool and mild.

The “clear” parts of the map are covered in mixed terrain—large stretches of open meadowland, copses of light forest, gently rolling hills, and the occasional thicket of dense woodland and heavy undergrowth.

The downs marked on the map are hilly grassland, with little tree cover. The hills are steeper and more rugged, and include light forest in the valleys and saddles between the hilltops. Interesting locales in the Nentir Vale are described below.

Fiveleague House

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.

Gardmore Abbey

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 abbey was dedicated to Bahamut and served as the base of a militant order of paladins who won great fame fighting in Nerath’s distant crusades. As the story goes, the paladins brought a dark artifact back from a far crusade for safekeeping, and evil forces gathered to assault the abbey and take it back. Extensive dungeons are rumored to lie beneath the ruins, which might still conceal the hoarded wealth of the old crusading paladins.

The Sword Barrow

This large burial mound stands near the middle of the Gray Downs, a desolate region. The old human hill-clans who lived in the Vale raised the barrow centuries before civilized folk settled in Fallcrest. The hill-folk are long gone, but their grim barrows remain. The Sword Barrow gained its name because scores of rusted blades of ancient design are buried around its edges, blades pointing inward; a visitor can turn up several in a few minutes of looking around.

Hammerfast

A dwarven hold cut from the rock of a deep vale in the Dawnforge Mountains, Hammerfast is the largest and wealthiest town in the region. The Trade Road runs through the citadel gates and continues eastward beyond the Dawnforge Mountains. Hammerfast is governed by a council of masters, each the leaders of one of the town’s powerful guilds. The current High Master is the leader of the merchant guild, a dwarf named Marsinda Goldspinner. By reputation, the dwarves of Hammerfast look to their own first and don’t give away anything for free, but they are honest and industrious.

Harken Forest

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. A goblin stronghold called Daggerburg lies somewhere in the southwest reaches. The goblins sometimes raid the river-traffic moving along the Nentir or send small parties of marauders to Harkenwold’s borders.

A wood giant tribe known as the Gnarlybough Clan roams the eastern portions of the forest. They occasionally trade with the humans of Harkenwold and keep an eye on travelers along the old King’s Road. They have a long-standing feud with the Daggerburg goblins, and the goblins tend to keep to the western parts of the forest to avoid swift and deadly giants. However, the goblins are growing more numerous and have become bolder in recent months.

Harkenwold

Half a dozen small villages lie along the upper vales of the White River. Together, they make up the Barony of Harkenwold — a tiny realm whose total population is not much greater than Fallcrest’s. The people of Harkenwold are farmers, woodcutters, and woodworkers; little trade comes up or down the old King’s Road.

The ruler of Harkenwold is Baron Stockmer, an elderly man who was known for his strong sword arm in his youth. He is said to be a just and compassionate ruler.

Kalton Manor

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, a small keep raised by Lord Arrol Kalton about two hundred years ago. Lord Arrol intended to settle the lower vale of the White River, but it was not to be — monsters from the Witchlight Fens drove off the tenants Arrol had brought with him. At the end, Arrol and a handful of his servants and family lived alone in a half-finished keep slowly falling into ruin until they disappeared as well. Stories tell of hidden treasure — the old Kalton fortune — hidden in secret chambers beneath the ruined keep.

Keep on the Shadowfell

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, though it is rumored to be a goblin lair.

Kobold Hall

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. Kobold tribes from the Cloak Wood now lurk in its depths.

Nenlast

This tiny human village lies at the east end of Lake Nen. The folk here make a meager living by trading smoked fish to the dwarves of Hammerfast. They also deal with the Tigerclaw barbarians of the Winterbole Forest. When the wild folk choose to trade, they come to Nenlast to barter their pelts and amber for good dwarven metalwork.

Raven Roost

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 and has recently been taken over by a gang of bandits.

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. The town was ruled by a Lord Mage (the most powerful wizard in town claimed the ruler’s scepter), and the Mistborn Tower of the last Lord Mage still stands amid the ruins of the town. The tower is shrouded in a strange silver mist that never dissipates, no matter what the weather would otherwise dictate.

The Stonemarch

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 an evil shrine stand in the middle of these desolate hills. Legend tells that a rakshasa prince summoned demons to this place and bound them to his service by imprisoning their vital essences in gold-plated human skulls. None of these have yet been recovered from the ruins, but the story persists.

Thunderspire

This striking peak is the largest of the Old Hills. Merchants passing along the Trade Road sometimes take shelter here.

Winterhaven

Hard under the Cairngorms at the west end of the Nentir Vale lies the remote town of Winterhaven. Like Fallcrest, Winterhaven is a small town surrounded by a few miles of farmland and pastures.

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Fallcrest

Map of Fallcrest

Map of Fallcrest

Fallcrest stands amid the Moon Hills at the falls of the Nentir River. Here travelers and traders using the old King’s Road that runs north and south, the dwarven Trade Road from the east, and the river all meet. The surrounding ridges shelter several small valleys where farmers and woodsfolk live; few are more than six or seven miles from the town. In general the people outside Fallcrest’s walls earn their living by farming or keeping livestock, and the people inside the walls are artisans, laborers, or merchants. People with no other prospects can make a hard living as porters, carrying cargo from the Lower Quays to the Upper Quays (or vice versa).

Population: 1,350; another 900 or so live in the countryside within a few miles of the town.

Leadership: Lord Warden Faren Markelhay

Government: The human noble Faren Markelhay is the Lord Warden (hereditary lord) of the town. He is in charge of the town’s justice, defense, and laws. The Lord Warden appoints a town council to look after routine commerce and public projects.

Defense: The Fallcrest Guard numbers sixty warriors, who also serve as constables. Moonstone Keep is their barracks. The Lord Warden can call up 350 militia at need.

Demographics: The people of Fallcrest are mostly humans, halflings, and dwarves.

Economics: Fallcrest imports finished goods from the larger cities downriver and ironwork from the dwarf town of Hammerfast, and exports timber, leather, fruit, and grain. It also trades with the nearby town of Winterhaven.

The surrounding hills hold several marble quarries that once produced a good deal of stone, but the area has little demand for ornamental stone these days, and only a few stonecutters still practice their trade.

Inns: Nentir Inn; Silver Unicorn. The Silver Unicorn is pricier and offers better service; the Nentir Inn sees a more interesting clientele.

Taverns: Blue Moon Alehouse; Lucky Gnome Taphouse; Nentir Inn taproom.

Supplies: Halfmoon Trading House; Sandercot Provisioners.

Temples: Temple of Erathis; Moonsong Temple (Sehanine); House of the Sun (Pelor).

History

Up until four centuries or so ago, the Moon Hills and the surrounding Nentir Vale were thinly settled borderlands, home to quarrelsome human hill-chieftains and remote realms of non-humans such as dwarves and elves. Giants, minotaurs, orcs, ogres, and goblins plagued the area. Ruins such as those on the Gray Downs or the ring-forts atop the Old Hills date back to these days, as do stories of the hero Vendar and the dragon of the Nentir.

With the rise of the empire of Nerath to the south, human settlers began to move up the Nentir, establishing towns such as Fastormel, Harkenwold, and Winterhaven. A Nerathan hero named Aranda Markelhay obtained a charter to build a keep at the portage of the Nentir Falls. She raised a simple tower at the site of Moonstone Keep three hundred ten years ago, and under its protection the town of Fallcrest began to grow.

Over the next two centuries, Fallcrest grew into a small and prosperous city. It was a natural crossroads for trade, and the Markelhays ruled it well. When the empire of Nerath began to crumble about a century ago, Fallcrest continued to flourish—for a time.

Ninety years ago, a fierce horde of orcs known as the Bloodspears descended from the Stonemarch and swept over the vale. Fallcrest’s army was defeated in a rash attempt to halt the Bloodspears out on Gardbury Downs. The Bloodspears burned and pillaged Fallcrest and went on to wreak havoc all across the Nentir Vale.

In the decades since the Bloodspear War, Fallcrest has struggled to reestablish itself. The town is a shadow of the former city; little trade passes up and down the river these days. The countryside for scores of miles around is dotted with abandoned homesteads and manors from the days of Nerath. Once again the Nentir Vale is a thinly settled borderland where few folk live.


Fallcrest

  • Frontier City  ΟΟ
  • Battlescarred  Ο
  • Fortified  Ο

Moonstone Keep  Good
Control  Fair
Arms (Fallcrest Guard) Fair
Resources (Treasury) Fair
Administration  Fair
Arms  (Militia) Average
Resources (Quarries) Average
Communication Average
Magic (Mage Guild) Average
Information  Average

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I’m looking at a fairly standard fantasy campaign here.  I expect combat and social conflicts to play a fairly large role as well as magic.  I took General lists in most categories and then a more specific list in Combat and broader lists in a couple of areas.  Magic is covered in more detail here.

Academic

  • Languages
  • Lore
  • Research
  • Teaching

Artistic

  • Art
  • Singing
  • Acting
  • Play Instrument

Athletic

  • Acrobatics
  • Climbing
  • Endurance
  • Jumping
  • Running
  • Swimming

Combat

  • Bows – Bows, Crossbows
  • Brawling – Improvised weapons
  • One Handed Edged – Swords, Knives, Axes
  • One Handed Blunt – Maces, Clubs
  • Polearm – Halberd, Spetum, Staff
  • Shield – Facility with a shield – grants an additional +1 if used as skill for an all out defense
  • Thrown – Knife, Shuriken
  • Two Handed – Two-Handed Sword, Greataxe
  • Unarmed Combat – Boxing, Wrestling, Martial arts
  • Mounted – Lances, Swords, Horseman’s Mace, Axe

Criminal

  • Fence
  • Forgery
  • Hide
  • Lockpicking
  • Pickpocketing
  • Sneak
  • Streetwise

Magical

  • Evocation – Creating elemental forces out of literally nothing.  Very flash-bang sort of stuff.
  • Summoning – Taking creatures or objects from somewhere else and bringing them to the caster.
  • Divination – Knowing things or sensing things through mystical means.
  • Necromancy – Animating dead things and manipulating the forces of death.
  • Enchantment – Spells affecting the thoughts or emotions.
  • Healing – Curing diseases, healing wounds and otherwise aumenting or strengthing the body.
  • Abjuration – Protective or augmenting spells.

Perception

  • Awareness
  • Observation

Professional

  • Read/Write
  • Cooking
  • Healing
  • Smithing
  • Riding
  • Stonecutting
  • Woodcrafting

General

  • Bluff
  • Contacting
  • Charm
  • Intimidate
  • Lie
  • Seduce

Survival

  • Herbalism
  • Hunting
  • Survival
  • Tracking

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