Archendale 1368 DR
"Most of the Dalesmen find little to like about the folk of Archendale. To be sure, there are Archendalesmen who could try the patience of a saint. No one has forgotten that matter with Sessrendale, either. For hundreds of years, Sessrendale had been Archendale's chief rival - until the folk of Archendale ended it by marching on them. Remember this when you visit Archendale. They're a strong and hardy folk who guard the borderlands of the Dales, and they don't care to be questioned so long as their army keeps the enemies of the Dales at a distance."
Archendale is one of the strongest and most influential of the Dales. It is the largest trade center within the Dalelands, and also boasts the Dalelands' most powerful army. Archendale views itself as the Dalelands' leader, an attitude that does not win it many friends.
The Dale lies in the gorge of the River Arkhen, which runs cold and swift in this area. The Thunder Peaks tower over the Dale to the south and west, and to the north lies the green Arch Wood. The Arkhen gorge is steep-sided and rocky, but the valley floor is a breathtakingly beautiful area of mosses, ferns, and small waterfalls that feed clear, cold pools. Archendale is well-defended by its sheer valley walls. A few isolated paths climb into the Thunderpeaks and the Arch Wood, but beyond these are only two means of access to the Dale: the valley mouth at Archenbridge, and a winding trail at White Ford that leads to Highmoon.
The Dale's only major town is Archenbridge, located at the mouth of the valley where the Daerlun-Ordulin trail crosses the River Arkhen. Archenbridge is one of the larger towns in the Dales, with a population of 1,100 year-round residents. The Dalelands' wealthiest merchants operate out of Archenbridge.
The rest of the Dale consists of scattered farmlands and orchards along the valley floor. The second largest community in Archendale is the village of White Ford, about 45 miles upstream from Archenbridge at the base of the trail leading to Highmoon. White Ford has about 100 residents. There are several other small hamlets in the Dale.
Archendale is noted for its profitable mines, apple and grus-grus orchards, and for the crawfish and fresh-water crabs in its streams and pools. It exports ore, fruit, and produce, but is almost entirely self-sufficient and only imports fancy items.
The Archendalesmen maintain the Dalelands' largest and most powerful army. The Dale is ruled by the army's leaders, mysterious figures known as the Swords of Archendale. There are three Swords: a Black Sword, a Red Sword, and a Blue Sword. The Swords' identities are kept secret, and the Archendalesmen resent any inquiries about their leaders.
The Swords usually speak through the army's officers, but they rule with a very light hand. Their only concern is the Dale's defense, and they almost never intervene in civil matters such as trade. However, the Swords' definition of defending the Dale extends to matters of law and justice within Archendale, and the Swords are responsible for the laws of the land and their enforcement.
The Swords protect their identities with bracers of misdirection and various illusion spells. They also are in the habit of wearing hooded capes of their color over their armor and military dress. In all of Archendale, perhaps a dozen people are able to guess the identity of a Sword, but it is a high law of the Dale that no man may speak of a Sword's name.
The Red Sword is an intelligent young officer, named Dheren Ogresbane (LN male human F8.) He commands one of the Rides of the Archendale army, and only appears as the Red Sword on rare occasions. The Red Sword is the champion of Archendale's army, and continually pursues the army's agenda.
The Black Sword is a grizzled old warrior named Jalia Mossgreen (CG female human Ftr12.) She is the oldest of the Swords, and is in semi-retirement, Jalia does not command any field troops, but does supervise the Archenbridge militia. She owns and operates the Old Stonebows inn, and is the most prominent of the Swords.
The Blue Sword is a merchant-wizard named Alduvar Snowbrand (NG male human W9.) Alduvar is the proprietor of Jendalar's Fine Fruits, and served as a battle-mage in the army for years. When he appears, he masks himself in the illusion of a vigorous cavalry man of middle years. Alduvar is an advocate of strengthening ties with Sembia, believing that the Dales need new allies now that the elves are gone.
Law and Order
Archendale is not a good place to break the law. Military justice prevails throughout the Dale, and is especially harsh. Any army officer is empowered to charge and arrest wrongdoers, and commanders of the Rides may try and sentence minor offenders.
Major offenders or appeals from the Ride captains are brought before the three Swords, who are judge and jury. The Swords dislike this duty and hand out harsh punishments to discourage criminals. Generally, the Swords look to protect the local residents and keep order in their Dale.
Archenbridge is patrolled by soldiers from Swordpoint, who act as a town watch. In the rest of the Dale, the nearest detachment of riders must be summoned to deal with serious troublemakers. Since they are often an hour or more away, local Dalesmen will restrain offenders while someone goes to get the watch.
The strict justice system encourages most Archendalesmen to avoid the military's involvement. Minor disputes are settled "out of court" as often as possible, but a native will not hesitate to call in the military authorities against foreigners or adventurers.
The only unusual law in Archendale concerns the secrecy of the Swords' identities.
Archendale is well-defended by an army composed of 10 Rides of 60 mounted soldiers each, equipped with chainmail, swords, lances, and composite bows. Three Rides are located at Swordpoint, one at White Ford, and a fifth is usually dispersed throughout the Dale in 10-man patrols.
The Swordpoint and White Ford Rides patrol their immediate area and the Dale's borders. The other five Rides are usually standing down, and switch off with the active Rides once every two months. They can be mustered quickly in the event of trouble.
The only major fortification in Archendale is Swordpoint, a garrison overlooking the ford at Archenbridge. Swordpoint consists of a stone keep surrounded by a large earthwork and palisade bailey. Chambers are set aside for the Swords' meetings and audiences.
Smaller barracks are maintained in the villages that host patrols in the Dale, and a wooden palisade surrounds the barracks at White Ford. In addition to the Rides, a number of Archendalesmen belong to an actively drilling militia composed of army veterans and young men and women preparing for regular service.
Archendale is the wealthiest of the Dales. Several merchant costers operate out of Archenbridge, including: Mirksha, Mirksha, and Mirksha; Jendalar's Fine Fruits; the Darkwater Brand; and the Stone Crab Coster.
Mirksha, Mirksha, and Mirksha is a company owned by three brothers in Archenbridge. They import exotic spices, silks, and metalwork from Cormyr and Sembia for distribution throughout the Dales. The oldest brother, Weygart (LN male human Ftr3), is the nominal head of the house. The company also maintains a warehouse and post at White Ford.
Jendalar's Fine Fruits is run by Alduvar Snowbrand, a merchant-mage who purchased the company from its founder; Jendalar. Alduvar buys produce from the local farmers and ships it to the large cities of Cormyr and Sembia. He often leaves the coster to the care of Selni Ravenhair (CG female human Rog2), as his duties as the Blue Sword consume a lot of his time.
The Darkwater Brand is owned by the merchant clan of Dakker, rich and influential citizens of Archenbridge. They trade ore and produce for Moonsea metalwork. The house maintains outposts in Ordulin and Hillsfar, and has a bad name outside Archendale. The Darkwater Brand is rumored to be involved in slaving and smuggling activities, but is careful not to break laws in Archendale. The merchant clan's leader is Vzoun (LE male human Rog12), a foul-tempered old man.
Archendale has temples devoted to Chauntea, Lathander, and Tempus. Smaller shrines devoted to various woodland deities (including Silvanus, Eldath, Mielikki, and Selûne) can be found throughout the Dale.
Most rural Archendalesmen are followers of Chauntea, and the goddess's temple is one of the prominent structures in Archenbridge. The Bounty of the Goddess is overseen by an ambitious priest named Thaliach Mindogar (NG male human Clr8) with the assistance of four lesser clerics.
Archendale is home to the strongest standing army in the Dales, and is one of the major trading centers in the area. Population. Archenbridge: 1,250. The Dale is home to about 3,700 villagers and farmers along the 60-mile valley. Inns. Fine lodging is available at the Old Stonebows at the rate of 2 gp per night. Common lodging is available for 8 sp per night at the sign of the Black Horse. Taverns, Both inns have popular common rooms. The Black Horse is frequented by traders and travelers trying to save money. They serve Archenwood Stout, a local lager that is tapped for 5 cp per draft. The Black Horse's clientèle includes more adventurers.
Supplies. Moonsea weapons are sold by the Darkwater Brand at a 20% mark-up over PHB prices. Common packs, gear, and clothes can be found at Elgath's Provisions, a well-stocked emporium with a 10% mark-up. Rations are available from a number of grocers and butchers.
The Temples. Large temples of Chauntea, Lathander, and Tempus can be found in the town of Archenbridge. The Watch. Archenbridge is patrolled by 10-man units of soldiers, stationed at the fortress Swordpoint. The watch is armed with chainmail and longsword, and responds quickly to trouble.
Other. Archenbridge is a good place to find employment with a merchant coster as caravan guards or to hire men-at-arms, Many mercenaries and sellswords come to Archendale looking for work.
Many of Archenbridge's townsmen have become followers of Lathander, the Morninglord. Lathander's temple has been recently rebuilt and is a beautiful building faced with white granite. High priestess Stellaga Brightstar (LG half-elf female Clr12) oversees the temple and its 16 acolytes.
Tempus has a large following among the Dale's professional soldiers. The shrine dedicated to the battle lord can be found in the fortress of Swordpoint, and is supervised by Battle-Chaplain Gordon Stakaria (N male human Clr10.)
Characters in search of healing or other priestly assistance will find that Mindogar and Brightstar are both willing to help adventurers of good heart, so long as those adventurers are also serving their deity's interests. On the other hand, Stakaria of Tempus reserves his assistance for the Archendale's warriors. It would take a deed of some daring to earn his respect.
The major settlement of Archendale is the town of Archenbridge. About 260 years ago, a dwarven engineer named Naiden Stonewright built the first bridge over the River Arkhen at this location. The bridge was destroyed by a severe flood 74 years ago and replaced by a wooden span built on the stone casements of the old dwarf's bridge.
Archenbridge grew out of a small village that had existed by the ford over Arkhen for several hundred years. After the bridge's completion, more traffic was routed along this road, and the village grew and prospered.