The High Dale 1368 DR
The High Dale is a quiet, isolated area between Cormyr and Sembia. It is the southernmost of the Dalelands, and one of the oldest of the existing Dales.
Population. Highcastle: 325. The countryside: 970.
Inns. The Eagles' Eyrie in Highcastle is a small, dirty stopover for travelers on a budget. A room costs only 5 sp per night. The Swordsmith's House is a fine inn that closes during winter months due to lack of business. A stay costs 13 sp per night.
Taverns. The Shield and Keep is a noted taphouse with a large and faithful following among the locals.
Supplies. Frogfoot's Provisions carries few finished goods such as lanterns or tools, but does have good leatherwork and rations for a 20% markup. Ironhand's Arms, owned by Azan Stonesplitter (LN dm FG), is a fine weapon supplier with only a 10% markup in price. Azan is capable of forging weapons of quality.
Watch. Highcastle is patrolled by units of six militiamen, led by a constable. In the countryside, the constables work alone but may call on locals for help.
Temples. A shrine to Tempus may be found in the High Castle. The Dancing Place, a spot sacred to several temples, is near the town of Highcastle.
Other. The Pegasus Archery Company, a mercenary band of horse archers, keeps its headquarters and main camp in the High Dale.
"During the Time of Troubles, I had some troubles of my own with a Zhentarim band in High Dale. With the instability of the land, the High Pass became the only safe crossing of the Thunder Peaks. Some Dalesmen would have barred the doors and lain low during trouble like that - but not the Highdalesmen. All they needed was a little encouragement, and they found it in themselves to throw the Zhents out." - Elminster
The southernmost and most isolated of the Dales is the High Dale, a steep mountain pass in the The High Dale lies in the Thunder Peaks, between Hooknose Crag (the southernmost end of the mountain range) and Wyvernfang. The Dale occupies a mountain pass, and stark cliffs tower over the rocky land. Over the centuries the Highdalesmen have built miles of terraces and high pastures in the pass. The High Dale is very old, and was one of the first Dales settled. It can trace its history back more than 700 years.
Thunder Peaks. Little traffic passes through the land, and the people who live there are happy to be left alone by their bigger and stronger neighbors. Like the folk of Daggerdale, the Highdalesmen are a proud and independent breed.
A wagon-track known as the Thunder Way leads from Hultail, in Cormyr, up into the High Dale and down again to Saerb in Sembia. A smaller trail branches off from the Thunder Way and leads to Kulta, Few people choose to travel the Thunder Way, instead taking the East Way or the southern route through Daerlun.
The center of the High Dale is the town of Highcastle, located in a small vale near the head of the pass. Smaller villages are scattered throughout the Dale along the Thunder Way. Highcastle grew around the knees of the High Castle, and borrowed its name from the old keep. The Dale Council meets here, and the only market in the Dale is held in the town.
The Dale Council
The High Dale is governed by six elected councillors, each serving a six-year term. Each year, one seat is up for election. A seventh councillor is the high constable, who is chosen by the six elected councillors. The high constable only votes to break ties, but acts as the council chairperson.
The Highdalesmen are a fairly well-organized group, and the Dale Council is responsible for making and enforcing law, defending the Dale, regulating trade, and receiving foreign delegations. Currently, the Dale Council has been working to entice more Sembian and Cormyrian merchants to come to Highcastle and buy from the Highdalesmen.
The councillors are:
Tyran Greene (LG male human Ftr4), a farmer of the lower slopes of the High Dale and an experienced veteran of the Pegasus Archery Company.
Varana Brighthelm (CG female human Ftr7), a fiery swordswoman who still finds reasons to leave the Dale and adventure with her old companions.
Darun Lockmaster (LN dwarf male Ftr5/Rog6), a cheerful and intelligent armorer and locksmith who crafts the finest locks (and picks) in the Dalelands.
Serena Whitelock (LG half-elf male Ftr0), a practical and sour-faced half-elf of middle years who owns one of the Dale's larger sheep pastures.
Renoen the Fair (NG female human Wiz5), a beautiful and charming Highcastle native who is the only wizard of note in the area.
Francan Fireblade (CG male human Ftr6), an aging ex-adventurer of Arabel who lost an arm during the Time of Troubles and retired to the High Dale.
The high constable is a hero and adventurer named Irreph Mulmar (LG male human Rgr12). Irreph led the Highdalesmen against the Zhents during the Time of Troubles, and only recently returned as high constable, acceding to popular demand.
Law and Order
The High Dale is policed by six constables who are supervised by the high constable. The constables command and train the local militia, and are found roaming all over the Dale. They are empowered to arrest offenders. In the event of trouble, the locals will usually fetch the nearest constable and a hastily-mustered group of militiamen to bring in criminals.
At least two of the six constables are always present in Highcastle itself. Irreph enjoys constable powers, and often roams the countryside checking on things.
The High Dale is blessed with very defensible terrain, and historically has had little trouble with invaders. The only exception was the Zhentish incursion during the Time of Troubles.
The constables supervise a militia of 50 fighters in chain mail with sword and spear. A mercenary band known as the Pegasus Archery Company, composed of 75 horse archers, is based in the Dale and will support the local forces. Recently, Irreph has formed the Flying Auxiliary, a platoon of 20 horse archers mounted on pegasi. The Flying Auxiliary is led by a young warrior named Sothinar (LG male human Clr6.)
No merchant companies operate in the High Dale, but buyers' caravans from Cormyr and Sembia will come in the summer and fall to Highcastle. The local farmers raise sheep and goats, and grow potatoes, turnips, and hay.
Highcastle is home to a variety of small craftsmen including smiths, wrights, woodcarvers, and leatherworkers. A couple of small general stores cater to locals and the few travelers that pass through.
There are no major temples in the High Dale, but there are several small shrines scattered throughout the mountain pass. The most famous is the Dancing Place, a sacred glen located in a hidden valley near the head of the pass.
Several gods have believed to have manifested at the Dancing Place, including Mystra, Oghma, Mielikki, and Selûne. Priests of these deities maintain this holy place, led by the Learned Father Crandan Ethander (LG male human Clr13), the chief of Oghma's following. The Dancing Place's priests and priestesses aid druids, bards, and rangers in their causes, and offer assistance to all heroes of good heart.
A small chapel dedicated to Tempus may also be found in the town of Highcastle. It is watched over by Sheila Wyndlass (CN female human Clr5), a zealous cleric who often rides with the Pegasus Archery Company.
A great crag of bare stone jutting out over the High Dale pass, the Wyvernfang is avoided by the Highdalesmen, and for good reason. It is the nest of a large family of wyverns that plague the local area. The wyverns have killed and carried off many travelers over the last 50 or 60 winters, and their presence has contributed to the Dale's decline.
The wyverns' lair is in a large cave or fissure near the mountain's peak, but it is extremely inaccessible - the last band of adventurers who tried to reach the cavern was caught on the bare stone cliff, and killed piecemeal while they dangled from their ropes and pitons. The Highdalesmen believe that the wyverns may have accumulated a sizable hoard of treasure from their victims, hut no one has been able to figure out a way to get at the lair without climbing the cliff beneath.