Deepingdale 1372 DR
Population: 50,239 (humans 70%, half-elves 20%, elves 9%)
Government: Republic with elected lord
Religions: Corellon Larethian, Oghma
Imports: Cotton, fine manufactured items, silk, textiles, wool
Exports: Fur, meat, timber
Alignment: LG, NG, CG
Situated along the contested route between Cormyr and Sembia, Deepingdale could have gone down the road of the sword, the militaristic path chosen by Archendale and Scardale. But although its folk are battle-ready and its rulers are no strangers to combat, Deepingdale avoided Scardale's obsession with conquest and Archendale's preoccupation with power. Instead, Deepingdale remains true to its founding vision, the original Dalelands compact with the elves of Cormanthor, in which Dalesfolk were guests of the elves and joint custodians of the mighty trees of the forest.
Other Dalesfolk and even some elves refer to Deepingdale as the Dale of the Trees. Unlike the farmers of other dales who thrive by clearing land, the folk of Deepingdale practice forestry in order to maintain the land's original thick green blanket of vegetation. The woods of the human-occupied portions of Deepingdale are as well managed as the farms of Featherdale. Careful harvesting and cultivation of hedges, timberland, native game, and the land's rich streams and rivers have turned the dale into a forest garden.
Life and Society
Of all Dalesfolk, the inhabitants of Deepingdale are probably the most tolerant and quietly welcoming. They tend to judge people by their actions rather than their words or looks, so adventurers who present themselves well can often make good friends in Deepingdale. On the other hand, adventurers who play games with the truth, or who persist in cutting trees or hunting where they should not, learn that the Deepingfolk can afford to be tolerant because they trust their ability to deal with people they view as threats. A large number of the Deepingfolk muster for the local militia.
Most adventuring Deepingfolk choose the ranger's path, and even human members of the militia are skilled at moving silently through their native woods. Nonhuman members of the militia include elven archers from Moonrise Hill and sorcerer-rangers from Bristar.
Major Geographic Features
More than any other dale, Deepingdale is woven into and around Cormanthor itself. The inhabitants of Deepingdale live in the shadow of the trees and in the lighter growth at the outskirts of the great forest.
The Blood Horn: Standing above the ruins of vanished Sessrendale like a great red tooth, this striking mountain is presently the home of a young adult red dragon named Thraxata. It is Deepingdale's misfortune to be the closest dale to her lair. Thraxata usually hunts south and west toward Cormyr, but she has also looted and ravaged several caravans on the East Way. The dragon becomes ever more aggressive as her strength and power grow with the years.
Glaemril and Wineflow: Deepingdale is comprised of the lands around these streams and rivers. Both of them run swift and strong and have abundant salmon runs that nourish forest creatures as well as the people of Highmoon. Any outsider who fishes for more than one salmon for his or her own meal is considered a bandit.
Lake Eredruic: This enchantingly beautiful pool is the headwaters of the Glaemril. Residents of Deepingdale, particularly the moon elves of Bristar who guard the waters from intruders, refer to this large-sized pond as a lake because its supernatural powers are far greater than its size. It is sacred to the elven deity Labelas Enoreth. Vials of the lake water function as cure light wounds spells (in potion form) for elves and half-elves only. The potency of the water lasts for up to a day after it is removed from the lake, although no one individual can benefit from more than three such draughts in a tenday - additional drinks have no effect
Human settlements dot the busy road known as the East Way, from the Glaun Hills almost to the borders of old Sessrendale. The heart of this community, though, lies up the forests and glades on either side of the road.
Bristar (village, 701): Just south of Lake Eredruic, the moon elf village of Bristar weathered the years of the Retreat by affirming its ties to Deepingdale instead of joining the nearby community of Semberholme in allegiance to the Elven Court Now that the Retreat has ended, Bristar is one of the largest elven communities remaining in Cormanthor. Bristar contributes a company of archers to the Deepingdale militia while patrolling vigorously against drow scouts and raiders.
Darkwatch: North of the Glaemril, deep enough in the forest that only elves have good cause to stumble upon it, lies a long, dark rift in the forest floor marked by blackened and twisted trees. As far as the Elven Court and the magicians of the Dales can ascertain, at one time the rift was the prison of an enormously evil power of decay and corruption. It is not known whether it was the now-dead god Moander in one of its early forms or some other evil being. Neither is it known if the monster is still within its prison, for none have dared descend into the unnatural darkness between the rift's steep sides.
What's certain is that the rift is a nexus for evil spirits and dark gods. Madness infects forest creatures and magical beasts that stray into the area, sometimes driving them into a killing frenzy. Priests of Cyric, the Palace of Lies, relish the energies swirling around the rift. They visit the Darkwatch as a sort of unholy invigoration, though none stay for long. Even the Vhaeraunian drow shun the Darkwatch.
Highmoon (Large Town, 3,505): After Silverymoon in the far north, Highmoon is the most integrated human, elven, and half elven town in Faerûn. The city is only three hundred years old and growing fast. Before the advent of the Vhaeraunian drow, plans to expand the city's walls bogged down because of a lack of support for military preparedness against hypothetical enemies. Now that the Auzkovyn drow of the High Forest haunt the southern reaches of Cormanthor, expansion and fortification of Highmoon's walls is proceeding apace.
Leaves of Learning: Rising even higher than Lord Ulath's Tower of the Rising Moon, this temple to Oghma in Highmoon contains one of the finest libraries of Faerûn. The temple library eschews all books upon magic in favor of subjects unconnected to the Art. Consequently the temple's collection has grown without suffering unduly from the attentions of overly inquisitive wizards.
Outsiders may examine books for 15 gp per volume - a stiff price, but a better bargain than it might appear because the library has an excellent index, the unique vision of its high priest, Danali the Indexer (LG male human Clr9 of Oghma). As a result, a researcher can usually identify right away the book or tools he needs, without having to pay to look at volumes that don't have the information he wants. Clerics and initiates of Oghma pay only 1 gp per volume, a price that applies only to themselves and not to inquisitive friends.
Moonrise Hill (Village, 818): Like the folk of Bristar, the elves of this village that lies just a few miles northeast of Lake Eredruie serve in the Swords of Deepingdale, the Dale's unofficial and seldom -gathered militia. The Moonrise Hill elves are more stand-offish than the elves of Bristar. Adventurers are not welcome visitors to Moonrise Hill and should practice their arrow-dodging
Rhauntides's Tower: Until 1371 DR, this small hexagonal tower on the top of Spell Hill in Highmoon was the home of the sage of Deepingdale, the renowned wizard Rhauntides. He died of old age, leaving his possessions to Theremen Ulath (NG male moon half-elf Ftr7), the ruler of Highmoon. Ulath has moved them to strongrooms in the Tower of the Rising Moon. Shaunil Tharm, the apprentice of Rhauntides, took the wizard's magic belt of stars set off on a secret mission, and she has not been seen since.
To everyone's surprise, Rhauntides bequeathed the tower itself to an energetic Waterdhavian monk he befriended when the latter was passing through Deepingdale as an adventurer. The monk, Teesha Than (LG female human Mnk11/Expl), has started a small monastery in Rhauntides's Tower. It is the first monastery of the Order in the Dalelands. The locals were wary at first but they realize that the monks training with Teesha are good neighbors.
Tower of the Rising Moon: Lord Theremen Ulath's black-walled stronghold graces the high ground within Highmoon's walls. As a fortress that has never had to fight off a serious attack, it is known more for the good humor of its lord, the marvels of its interior architecture, and the joys of its splendid feasts than for any martial strength.
This is just as Ulath wishes it. Lulled by tales of the tower's wonders (hanging plants in an atrium open to the stars but somehow shielded from heavy rain, and a stunning map of the Dalelands' carved into a huge wooden table in the central Starfall Chamber), attackers might underestimate the fortress's capabilities. It was built in 1022 DR by the half-elf hero Aglauntaras and conceals unusual defenses and weaponry, most nonmagical.
Deepingdale was founded by the half-elf sorcerer Imryll Eluarshee. Known as the Deeping Princess, Imryll forged a society in which humans, half-elves, and elves could join in a common vision centered on the elven ways and lore of living in the great forest without destroying it in human fashion.
Deepingdale's relationship with the elves and the Elven Court has always been cordial and has gotten better over the centuries. Half-elf ancestry is a point of pride among the Deepingfolk. Even during the peak of the elven Retreat, Ulath and the other half-elves and humans of Deepingdale maintained excellent relations with elven communities of Bristar and Moonrise Hill.
Unlike other Dalesfolk leaders who have mixed feelings about the end of the Retreat, Lord Ulath extends a warm welcome to elves who wish to settle in Deepingdale or fight against the Vhaeraunian drow for their ancestral homes in Cormanthor. Ulath even welcomes drow worshipers of Eilistraee, judging that they may have the best access to magic capable of turning back the followers of Vhaeraun and Lolth.
Access to potent magic is a special concern of Ulath's since passing of his trusted advisor, the wizard Rhauntides. Skillful and wise magicians can find employment with Ulath while he searches for Rhanyntides's successor.
Plots and Rumors
Like peaceful dales, Deepingdale is now threatened by a dangerous and determined enemy. The southwest corner of forest retained the largest population of elves during the Retreat, but the Auzkovyn view Deepingdale and its elven allies as the greatest obstacle to their domination of the forest.
The Storm King: Somewhere in the mountains south of Thunder Pass stands the black keep of the Storm King, a chaotic evil cloud giant sorcerer who commands the loyalty of several ogre bands and numerous goblin tribes. The Storm King has demanded tribute from the folk of Highmoon, threatening to lay waste to the land between the Arkhen and the East Way if he is not placated. With the accelerated effort to build Highmoon's walls, Lord Ulath has neither the gold nor the inclination to pay the tribute. He also does not have warriors to spare to guard against an attack from the mountains.
A company or two of experienced adventurers might suffice to drive off any raiding force the Storm King sends into Deepingdale. It might even be possible for a dedicated and powerful band to eliminate the problem altogether by striking at the Storm King directly, before he marshals an army of goblins and ogres to his cause.