Featherdale 1372 DR
Population: 14,020 (84% humans, 11% halflings, 2% half-elves, 2% gnomes)
Imports: Armor, fine manufactured goods, weapons, oil
Exports: Cheese, corn, grain, salted meat, vegetables
Alignment: NC, N, CG
Featherdale survives as a relatively innocent pastoral farmland while more powerful dales around it crumble into anarchy or arm themselves for war. Occupying the lowlands north of the Ashaba between Blackfeather Bridge in the west and Feather Falls in the east, Featherdale has muddled through all the eras of Dalelands history without possessing a ruler, capital, standing army, or sizable town.
The Featherdarrans' chief virtues are resilience, common sense, brawn, and a natural aptitude for farming. Sembians, in particular, think that these qualities qualify Featherdarrans as ideal fellow citizens, but Sembia has failed to annex Featherdale three times and has turned its attention elsewhere.
Life and Society
Most Featherdarrans are farmers. The young folk of the dale seem content to settle alongside their parents without ever going forth to see the world other than an occasional visit to Essembra, Shadowdale, or, for the daring, what's left of Scardale.
The Featherdarrans' only political gatherings are infrequent four- or five-day meetings called Dalemeets. These free-for-all debate sessions are held in Feather Falls to settle disputes or problems that affect Featherdale's inhabitants. Anyone can participate in a Dalemeet
Featherdarrans are known to hold grudges. Few in Featherdale suffer a Red Wizard to walk unmolested through their dale, because ten years ago two Red Wizards murdered Featherdale's resident wizard. On the other hand, if Featherdarrans held a grudge against every group that had done them wrong, they'd be an extremely surly lot. For the most part, they don't hold Sembia's occasional attempted coups against individual Sembians, or pin responsibility for Lashan of Scardale's invasion of Featherdale on Scardalefolk.
Featherdarrans settle personal disputes in time honored fashion, usually by talking in the presence of respected elder farmers. Around sixty years ago, blood feuds rippled across this valley as several families became embroiled in a bitter dispute over contested land. The families involved in the feuding exhausted themselves until the surviving members were run off toward the Moonsea by a local family of bards and sorcerers who'd had enough.
Major Geographic Features
Featherdale isn't technically a dale, since it is lowland and not a valley like other Dalelands. Featherdale occupies rich farming lands within the sweep of the River Ashaba as it flows east toward the of Fallen Stars. Unlike other Dalesfolk, Featherdarrans have little to do with the elven woods.
Feather Falls: This waterfall is the eastern border between Featherdale and Scardale. The water cascades in a series of drops from Featherdale flood plain down into the Scar, the gorge that gives Scardale its name. Boats and barges can't go up or down the falls and the salmon that spawn far up the River Ashaba can reach the top of the falls after a day-long struggle through all the small drops and eddying pools that comprise its jumbled face.
River Ashaba: This great river flows out of the Storm Horns near Daggerdale, through Shadowdale, and onward toward the Se Fallen. Stars through Cormanthor, Mistledale, Battledale, Featherdale, and finally the Scar and Scardale itself.
Featherdale's social and economic life centers on the River Ashaba. Transportation and communication across the dale usually go by the river, in small keelboats manned by men and women who make their living poling up and down the Ashaba. In centuries past, the river's spring floods overwhelmed the dale's farmlands, but elaborate dikes and long-practiced magic now prevent these floods from doing much damage.
All of Featherdale's citizens put together amount to a small town in Sembia or Cormyr. For the most part, Featherdale is a region that citizens of the Heartlands know only as a wide and pleasant stretch of road in between regions of greater significance.
Blackfeather Bridge (Village, 818) The rapidly growing settlement of Blackfeather Bridge surrounds a bridge of the same name across the River Ashaba. The bridge, like the growing town been updated considerably since its first incarnation as a ramshackle wooden span painted black to increase travelers confidence in its sturdiness. It's now a stone bridge, guarded occasionally by self-appointed Featherdarran youths on the lookout for Red Wizards and Cyricists. Should any be spotted, the young folk are prepared to ride into the hill for help. Featherdarrans know priests of Cyric view the bridge as a sacred Site, but few know why. (It's because here, the deity of murder killed Leira, the former goddess of illusion.) Cyric's priests visit the bridge to pray and make auspicious sacrifices.
Cholandrothipe's Tower: The wizard Cholandrothipe wielded powerful spells that allowed him to shrink entire boats and move them around Feather Falls without carrying their cargo over the portage. A few years ago, Red Wizards of Thay slew Cholahdrothipe, possibly because he refused to share his spells or because they wanted any treasure he had accumulated in his tower.
The Thayans entered the slender tower near Feather Falls but magical guardians and traps sent them fleeing for their lives. Since then, adventurers entering the Tower have reported extensive underground passages and grisly laboratories that indicate Cholandrothipe was less benevolent than the people of Feather Falls had believed.
Feather Falls (Village, 584): This town by the waterfall used to be the largest settlement in Featherdale, but that title is now held by Blackfeather Bridge. Feather Falls is the standard mooring point for the small keelboats that ply the Ashaba. Now that Cholandrothipe is dead, boatloads of cargo are carried up or down the portage beside the falls.
Temple Beneath the Falls: Depending on who you ask, the secret grottoes beneath the water and boulders of Feather Falls are either stories to entertain children and credulous adventurers, or actual lairs for traveling cultists, smugglers, and Sorcerous outlaws. Some locals pronounce "Temple Beneath the Falls" in portentous tones as a joke, but others don't find the idea funny.
Like Mistledale, Featherdale has enjoyed a slightly charmed existence. Whereas Mistledale has entirely avoided occupation by hostile forces, Featherdale's luck consists of surviving such episodes relatively unscathed. When Lashan of Scardale conquered Featherdale, the Featherdarrans laid low for months and counted on their carefully cultivated friendships with other Dalesfolk to save them in the end. As long as Featherdarrans remain generous to their neighbors and reliable members of the Dales Council, their numerous family ties with militarily stronger dales may be sufficient to keep them from being overtaken by a power such as Sembia.
Plots and Rumors
Featherdale is rarely plagued by monsters and has little banditry or brigandage - there just aren't many spots for a predatory gang to lie low.
The Price of Freedom: A Sembian wizard seeks support for a new magically augmented portage around Feather Falls. He repeatedly attempts to call a Dalemeet to discuss funding and operation of such a project. Unfortunately, the so called Sembian is a Zhent slaver with no higher motive than drawing as many Featherdarrans into Feather Falls as possible. When he succeeds in calling a Dalemeet, he intends to bring several vicious slaving parties through portals and Underdark passageways to carry off hundreds of Dalesfolk from relatively undefended lands.