Battledale 1368 DR
"If one place could be said to represent the Dales, that place might be Battledale. I knew Aencar, the Mantled King, and I'll tell ye that he was a good man who lived in a dark time. People believe that he was a failure because he didn't create a lasting union of the Dales; but ye should all be thankful that Aencar did as much as he did, for without The Lord of Essembra him the Dales would have perished." - Elminster
Battledale is not an organized community, but instead a dispersed collection of farmlands, manors, and small villages. It covers a vast area, and settlements are few and far between. Battledale's open fields have been the blooding grounds of many wars.
Population: Essembra: 300; Hap: 80. Roughly 2,600 people live in the Dale itself.
Inns: The Watchful Eye in Essembra is the most widely-known of Battledale's inns. A stay costs 1 gp per night. Travelers in the countryside may be able to ask a night's shelter at a local manor or farmhouse. The village of Hap is home of the Millery Inn, a small wayhouse that charges 8 sp per night.
Taverns. The Silver Taproom of Essembra is highly recommended. Many travelers stop here for a draft.
Supplies: The Hitching Post in Essembra sells tack, harness, tools, clothes, and other miscellaneous items. Provisions can be bought from several local farmers.
Temples. Essembra has a temple dedicated to Gond and a major abbey dedicated to Tempus.
Watch: Effectively, none. The Lord of Essembra can muster about 30 men-at-arms in an emergency.
Other: Adventurers will find little to do in Battledale, although Essembra would make a good base from which to explore the Elven Woods. The ruins of Myth Drannor are not far away.
Despite its impressive name, Battledale is a small and peaceful land. Large in size, it is one of the least populous and most dispersed of the Dalelands. Battledale's people are scattered in hundreds of small farms and tiny hamlets over a vast area, and are the least organized and most private of the Dalesmen.
Battledale stretches along the southern edge of the Elven Court from the Pool of Yeven to the town of Essembra. Ranches, manors, and villages are few and far between in the gentle, rolling hills of Battledale. Deep copses of trees and dense thickets lie in the shallow valleys of the Dale. It is scenic, open country well-suited for farming and husbandry.
Most people who travel through Battledale enter and leave it along Rauthauvyr's Road, the highway that stretches from Hillsfar to Ordulin. Battledale is a place travelers pass through while going somewhere else. Some locals occasionally cut through the forest to Ashabenford or Harrowdale, but with the rise of brigandage in the area the forest is not safe anymore.
Battledale's forgiving terrain and dispersed population make it very hard to defend. Its central location has brought a number of invasions over the years. Sembian settlers clashed with the elves on these plains hundreds of years ago, and as recently as 1356 DR, Lashan of Scardale was defeated here by the combined forces of the Dales, Cormyr, Sembia, Zhentil Keep, and Hillsfar.
There is no central community or town in Battledale, but many travelers are familiar with the towns of Essembra and Hap. Essembra is the local market and gathering-place for the Battledalesmen. The tiny village of Hap lies about halfway between Essembra and Featherdale, although it is off the beaten track. Essembra boasts a permanent population of about 250 souls, but in the summertime up to 300 or 400 travelers and traders may be present at the village's market.
Battledale is a breadbasket of the Dalelands. Sembian, Cormyrian, and Moonsea merchants come to Essembra to buy grain, ale, cheese, salted beef, fruits, and vegetables from Battledale's farmers. With lots of land and a low population, the Dale easily produces and sells tons of surplus food.
Lord of Essembra
Battledale has no formal government or organized rule, but the town of Essembra is governed by War-Chancellor Ilmeth (LN male human Ftr11.) Ilmeth is the hereditary lord of Essembra, and his family is descended from one of Aencar's chief lieutenants - hence the title of the War-Chancellor. Ilmeth tends to be a dark, moody man who is suspicious of adventurers and other wanderers.
Ilmeth's main concern is protecting Essembra, and to a lesser degree; the rest of Battledale from outside threats. If necessary, Ilmeth and his immediate retainers would form the core of a hastily-raised, poorly-armed militia of farmers and townsfolk. He has almost no sovereign power, but acts as a spokesman for the Battledalesmen.
By tradition, disputes and justice in Battledale are resolved by the lord of Essembra. Ilmeth dislikes this duty, but tries to perform his office as fairly as possible. During his reign, Ilmeth has never pronounced anything more severe than a fine of two cows (but on one occasion he ordered a drunk thrown into a cold lake to sober the fellow up.)
Law and Order
Throughout Battledale, matters of law and order are handled by groups of neighbors. Whoever is nearby may try to detain an offender until a few people show up and then the group will discuss what is to be done. In most cases, the law consists of putting it back, apologizing, or giving the victim a cow as a means of reparation. It may not be sophisticated, but it is simple.
Serious matters are referred to the lord of Essembra, which may take a day or two. The countryside folk know where to find the retired warriors or mages who make their homes in Battledale, and will not hesitate to seek help against villains who refuse to abide by the locals' decision.
The only place in Battledale that even has the semblance of an army or a fortification is Essembra. War-Chancellor Ilmeth's home is a small tower surrounded by a low fieldstone wall. The village of Essembra lies within the manor's walls.
Ilmeth leads the Lord's Men, a small group of men-at-arms based in Essembra. The Lord's Men respond to monstrous incursions, bandits, or small raiding parties, but can't handle anything more than that. Local militias consist of bands of farmers and ranchers who arm themselves with whatever they can.
A fair number of retired adventurers or merchants with skilled bodyguards can be found scattered through the Dale. The locals know who these heroes and men-at-arms are, and won't hesitate to fetch one if it looks like trouble is brewing.
In summer and fall, merchants from all over come to Essembra to buy meat, grain, fruit, livestock, wool, cheese, and ale from the Battledalesmen. However, no merchant costers maintain any permanent outposts in Battledale. A wily ex-thief named Rhannon (NG female human Rog8) operates the Hitching Post in Essembra, a general store that stocks miscellaneous equipment that Battledale cannot produce for itself - fine metalwork, oil, spices, rope, and clothing. Rhannon charges a 10% markup over Player's Handbook prices for locals and a 30% markup for wandering adventurers. Rhannon is on good terms with Ilmeth and keeps an eye on the town for the War Chancellor.
Generally, travelers will have to search out individual smiths or farmers to barter for their supplies. Most farmers are happy to take an adventurer's gold in exchange for a few loaves of bread, some cheese, and some ale. Others may refuse the money, and instead ask for help in splitting firewood, clearing a stump, or railing a fence - a couple of hours of good clean work in exchange for a fair week's worth of rations.
Besides the scattered shrines to Chauntea and Silvanus in the countryside, there are only two temples of note in Battledale: the House of Gond, in Essembra, and the Abbey of the Sword. The Abbey of the Sword is dedicated to Tempus, Lord of Battle, and is located about five miles southwest of Essembra.
The House of Gond is overseen by the Lord High Smith and Artificer Gulmarin Reldacap (N male human Clr9.) Gulmarin is a stuffy old man who refuses to aid anyone except the most dedicated of Gond's servants. Over the years, his arrogant attitude has driven some worshippers away. Gulmarin is assisted by four lesser priests.
The Abbey of the Sword is led by Priest General Ambrose (LN male human Clr13), a charismatic and vigorous man who is well-liked by the local farmers and townsmen. The Abbey is home to 25 lesser priests and a contingent of 40 temple guards. Since Ambrose's arrival, the priests and warriors of the Abbey have begun mounting active campaigns against the brigands and monsters of the area, cooperating with Lord Ilmeth. Brave warriors who serve the Sword will find aid and healing here.
The second-largest settlement in Battledale is the village of Hap, beneath the shadow of Haptooth Hill.
Hap is a small settlement of less than a dozen buildings, including a blacksmith, a sawyer, a small wayhouse and tavern known as the Millery Inn, and a shrine dedicated to Lathander, the Morninglord.
An old wizard's tower crowns the hill. It was once the residence of the Red Wizard Dracandros, who was slain by adventurers. Rumors persist, however, that great treasure can be found in the tower. The granite mountain beneath the tower was reported to be honeycombed with passages and caverns used by the drow.
In fact, in the year before the Time of Troubles, the dark elves even seized control of the village for a short time before adventurers drove them off.
Aencar's Manor After the death of the Mantled King, this stately old manorhouse fell into disuse and eventually ruin. The folk of Battledale believe the ruins to be haunted by the ghosts of Aencar and the evil sorcerer who slew him. There are rumors of a hidden treasury somewhere in the cellars of the manor-house.
Adventurers should be careful; the last band who set out to explore the ruins did not return.
Map courtesy of Candlekeep