Eberron: Scales of War
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 thinly populated human frontier land that straddles the border between Karrnath and the Talenta Planes. 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 borders. Some of these small mountains and forests are, in most cases, part of a larger whole, and known by different titles locally. 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.
Lying so close to the Talenta Plains, Elsir Vale’s seasons are quite different than that of the rest of Karrnath. While Karrnath’s summers are hot, short, and wet, summer in the vale are generally dry (although punctuated with the occasional intense thunderstorm). Winters in Karrnath are long, bitterly cold and full of snow. Warm weather fronts off the Talenta Plains make for warm, rainy winters for Elsir Vale. Large stretches of the area are quite arid, and the vale is flanked by the vast savannahs 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.
CITIES & SETTLEMENTS
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 Bordrins 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 outwards into the Golden Plains toward the Mror Holds.
To the east, across the Golden Plains (at least some of the time) lies the Eladrin city of Astrazalian, known to residents of the Vale as the City of Starlight. This magnificent city strides the border between the mortal realm and the Feywild, and exists in each for fully half of every year. During the spring and summer, it resides a few hundred miles to the east of the Vale, in the foothills of the Ironroot Mountains, and is the source (or destination) of a significant amount of the trade that flows through the Vale.
To the north, outside the borders of the Vale lie the ruins of the city of Rhest, once the center of a kingdom that spanned the entirety of the vale, but now a long crumbled remnant inhabited mostly by Lizard folk and other creatures best left unmentioned.
The scattered human towns and villages of the area grew up along the Dawn Way, an important east-west trade road linking the more heavily populated lands that lie northwest across the Endless Plains with the exotic kingdoms of Karrnath and the nearby Mror Holds, as well as the northeastern parts of the Talenta Plains. Much of the Dawn Way was built by an ancient dwarf-kingdom that spanned the Wrymsmoke and Giantshield Mountains more than a thousand years ago, before retreating to finally settle and remain in the Mror Holds. While the dwarves of Elsir Vale are long gone, their roads, bridges, and cisterns remain in use to this day. After the dwarves abandoned the realm, the presence of various monsters and raiders kept traffic along the Dawn Way light for many years; few caravans dared the long and dangerous trek from the east to western parts of Khorvaire through this area. Few humans lived in Elsir Vale during those years-only scattered settlements of druidic folk who left behind little more than grassy barrows and stone circles on the hilltops.
Nearly five hundred years ago, King Daroon ir’Wynarn granted the nearby city of Rhest control of the vale and a large swath of land north of the Giantshields as well. Soldiers from Rhest secured the roads all the way to Dennovar and beyond, creating safe passage for trade. More and more traders traveled the Dawn Way, and the kingdom of Rhestilor grew wealthy on the tariffs exacted from the passing merchants. Under the kingdom’s shield, the towns along the Dawn way-Brindol, Talar, Terrelton, and the rest-grew up from tiny hamlets or lonely soldiers’ posts to flourishing human settlements.
The kingdom of Rhestilor eventually collapsed under civil strife, monstrous incursions, and magical blights. Almost two hundred years and fifty years ago, the city of Rhest was burned by a savage horde that descended swiftly from out of the Wyrmsmoke Mountains. Although the warriors of Rhestilor killed much of the horde, the city was abandoned and the already weakened kingdom broken. The locks and canals surrounding Rhest fell into disrepair, and the Blackfens Swamp swallowed the ruined city.
In the years after the kingdom’s fall, the towns of Elsir Vale came to look after themselves. Most of the local lords still held titles derived from the old kingdom of Rhestilor. While everyone knew that the kings of Rhestilor were long dead, no new realm arose in the Vale.
Then, came the Red Hand.