Cities and Sites of the Great Dales
The Great Dale boasts only one city of any size: Uthmere.
Every other settlement is a tiny hold or thorp, usually home to fewer than twenty people. Most of these tiny communities huddle along the Great Road, including Bezentil and Kront, the only other settlements that might even be called towns. For most people of the Great Dale, these towns are a necessary evil, if only because their presence along the road keeps strangers from wandering into the woods.
Bezentil is the only real community between the Great Road's western and eastern ends, and the only town worthy of the name for at least a hundred miles in any direction. Here a series of ten dwarf-high stones are spaced along the road in 10-foot intervals. The site has been used as a meeting place for untold years, but the settlement itself is relatively new. As recently as forty years ago, no buildings stood here, and no one lived within a dozen miles of the spot.
The sole industry in Bezentil is trading with people passing through on the Road. Caravans commonly use the place as a waymeet. The locals bring out locally made or grown goods such, as fine wooden items, rare herbs, produce, pelts, and leather goods, bartering for manufactured items such as tools and weapons. The people of the Great Dale are wonderful foresters and farmers, but they lack skill in mining and working metals.
The stone markers along the Road radiate a lingering aura of conjuration magic almost all year long. At the exact moment of both the spring and autumn equinoxes, the powerful spells with which they are imbued suddenly leap to life. Anyone who moves along the road at this time and touches all ten markers in sequence is instantly transported with his belongings to an identical set of markers in far-off Kara-Tur.
The Great Road was once the main route for transport between Faerûn and the lands to the east, but this was long ago, back when elves were the only humanoids who lived in the Great Dale. The only evidence that elves were ever here includes a handful of ancient ruins scattered throughout the territory - and these markers on the road.
The Circle of Leth guard this secret carefully. If word of the markers' true nature gets out, the Great Road would once again become a main artery of traffic moving between Kara-Tur and the rest of Faerûn. The druids cherish their solitude, and they will go to great lengths to ensure that it is not broken by twenty times the current number of merchant caravans.
Merchants, of course, would pay dearly for such information. Such a mysterious but useful portal would open up new trade with the east, without anyone having to brave the hazards of the Endless Wastes.
Only a handful of businesses flourish in Bezentil. Their proprietors are the friendliest, most open-minded people east of Uthmere. The largest building is Strick's Trading Post, a general store run by Abrihando Strick (LE male human Com6) and his wife Gennia (LN female human Com 3). Travelers can buy and sell most mundane items worth 25 gp or less here, although Strick's prices are double normal. He's literally the only shop for hundreds of miles around, and he knows it. Mimor Katan (NG male human Com4) and his family run the Windblown Goat, a small inn and tap house. Katan's rooms are charitably described as "rustic," but he has a half-dozen available at a reasonable rate, and on a winter night, a dirt-floored room with a fire is much more comfortable than a blanket on a frigid hillside. Katan's kitchen serves a hearty meal and excellent homemade ale, but the specialty of the house is a precious liquor known as goldenleaf.
Last year, a livery stable opened up not far from the Windblown Goat. Weary travelers can rest their mounts and have them groomed and fed for a few silver pieces each. Cassilla Fen (NG female human Exp7), the owner, is also a skilled cartwright, capable of repairing all but the most damaged wagons. She has been a godsend to the caravans passing this way, the more so because her prices are reasonable.
Bezentil (Hamlet): Conventional; AL LN; 100 gp limit; Assets 620 gp; Population 124; Isolated (human 96%, half-elf 3%, elf 1%).
Authority Figures: Kassantra, Mufdan, LN female human Ari6 (head of the village council).
Important Characters: Sheriff Trag Finstek, N male human War9 (the only full-time law enforcer in town); Cassilla Fen, NG female human Exp7 (owner of the town stable); Abrihando Strick, LE male human Com6 (proprietor of the only store).
Militia: War6, War5, War4 (2), War3 (2); Other Characters. Clr4; Drd4; Ftr4, Ftr3, Ftr2 (2), Ftr1 (3); Rgr9, Rgr4, Rgr3, Rgr1 (3); Rog5; Wiz7; Adp5, Adp2; Ari4, Ari3, Ari1 (2); Exp7, Exp5, Exp3 (3), Exp2 (2), Exp1 (3); War2 (2), War1 (7); Com6, Com5, Com4, Com3 (3), Com2 (7), Com1 (62).
In the northern cut of the Rawlinswood, a little north and west of Bezentil, lie the ruins of the small community of Denderdale. Its Dalesfolk formerly traded with those Nar tribes inclined to deal with outsiders and maintained a wary truce with the rest. But two months ago, on a cold night in early Marpenoth, a trio of powerful blightlords led a company of blightspawned volodni warriors out of the surrounding forests and razed the village. Of the settlement's four hundred people, only a few dozen escaped with their lives. It's whispered that many of the slain have been reanimated as undead troops in the Rotting Man's army.
About four days' travel east of Uthmere and half a day's walk from the Great Road stands the farmstead of Evrelthed. Northol (LG male human Ftr2/Exp 3). Evrelthed, his wife, their four sons, his brother, and his brother's family live here, a tiny settlement of eleven people huddled in a sheltered dell miles from their nearest neighbors, Such farmsteads are scattered like a half-handful of seed corn across the broad expanse of the Dale. Unlike more settled areas, where, most parcels of arable ground belong to somebody, the Great Dale has wide stretches of unclaimed land that anyone can claim, as long as they're willing to put up with bitter weather, dangerous monsters, and a lot of loneliness.
Evrelthed is a thin, sour man of about forty who has steadily refined the art of complaining about his land and his fortunes for decades. He and his family are willing to put up travelers who don't mind sleeping in a fieldstone cellar cut into the side of a hill a hundred yards from the farmsteaders' home. The accommodations may be humble, but Evrelthed's wife Kalina (LG female human Com3) serves the heartiest supper for a hundred miles.
Kront is a tiny outpost where the Great Road meets the Cold Road and the road to Tammar. This is the most well-traveled crossroads in the region, and most of the Dalesfolk disavow it for that reason, claiming the place more properly belongs to Thesk. Thesk, Rashemen, and Narfell all refuse to lay claim to the place, though, so it's part of the Great Dale by default.
Kront is a neutral trading ground for the surrounding lands. The merchants who regularly pass through here appreciate the lack of politics, especially since this translates into no direct taxes or tolls. The people.of Kront make their living trading goods and services with travelers. Kront concentrates on providing services to traders, but it's also a key point for folk from hundreds of miles around to purchase tools and other items they cannot fashion on their own. Many merchants who start out thinking of Kront as a rest stop on their way to other points have decided this is a fine place to trade as well. In particular, fisherfolk come here every day to hawk their catches from Lake Ashane, providing fresh fish for those staying in Kront and smoked meat for them to take on their way.
Kront (Hamlet): Conventional; AL N; 100 gp limit; Assets 1,335 gp; Population 267; Isolated (human 96%, half-elf 3%, elf 1%)
Authority Figures: Lord Chinilvur, N male human Ari8 (descendant of an Impilturan noble who obtained a title over the nearby land and the richest man in Kront).
Important Characters: Durtentan Palander NG male human Rgr11 (leader of the local rangers); Xander Capstal, NG male human War5 (captain of the militia).
Town Guard: War4, War2 (3), War (7); Militia: War6, War5 (2), War4 (7), War3 (3); Other Characters: Bbn3; Brd2; Clr5, Clr2; Drd9, Drd6, Drd3; Ftr3, Ftr1; Rgr7, RgrS, Rgr4, Rgr3, Rgr2, Rgr1 (2); Rog5, Rog1; Sor3; Wiz4; Ari6, Ari2 (2), Ari1 (2); Exp7, Exp6, Exp5, Exp4 (4), Exp3 (6), Exp2 (9), Exp1 (16); War3 (2), War2 (5), War1 (11); Com6 (2), Com5 (2), Com4 (3), Com3 (8), Com2 (22), Com1 (133).
Home to Clan Maval, a sturdy family of hardscrabble farmers and herders, Mavalgard is typical of the dozen or so isolated clanholds in the central and eastern reaches of the Great Dale. Fiercely independent and stubbornly self-reliant, the Mavals caine to this land from Impiltur almost two hundred years ago, determined to carve out a life of their own from the barren wilderness. Today, the hold is home to an extended family of perhaps fifty souls under the rule of Angheder Maval (CG male human Ftr4/Ari3), a short-tempered old curmudgeon who is far wiser than he lets on.
Mavalgard is a rough motte-and-bailey keep with a field-stone tower and a ramshackle wooden palisade. It is surrounded by several rude homes of fieldstone and thatch burrowed snugly into the steep hillsides to avoid the worst of the winter winds. The Mavals maintain friendly relations with several other clanholds within a day's journey or so, and the folk of these holds gather three or four times a year to drink, trade, decide matters of justice, and arrange marriages.
Mettledale and Spearsmouth Dale
Along the southern border of the Forest of Lethyr lie two small settlements that are part of the Great Dale, of Thesk, or neither, depending on whom you happen to ask. Spearsmouth Dale is a little more than fifty miles north of Phsant in a narrow vale that arrows another twenty miles or so into the forest. Lord Abraer Thellblade (CG male human Ftr8), a former adventurer, watches over the sleepy Village from a keep he and his companions cleared of vampires several years ago. Its people consider themselves Dalesfolk, but Lord Abraer obtained his writ to govern the land from the ruling council of Phsant. This doesn't trouble the locals, who know that Abraer saved them from death or worse by destroying the vampire lord of the keep.
Mettledale is in a larger vale just north and east of Spearsmouth Dale. Several small villages dot this fertile valley, all under the rule of an arrogant wizard-lord named Vosthor (NE male hagspawn Wiz11). The dale has traditionally been ruled by the most powerful wizard in residence, and Vosthor - a wandering troublemaker and tomb-plunderer - unseated the previous ruler two years ago upon learning of the tradition. A brutal gang of brigands and thugs backs up the hagspawn, serving as his "constables" and "tax collectors." The folk of Mettledale are too intimidated to move directly against their wizardly master, but they are growing desperate to get rid of the predacious Vosthor.
Uthmere (Small City)
Built where the Dalestream meets the Easting Reach, Uthmere is easily the largest settlement in all the Great Dale. The river is shallow and not navigable but a stone breakwater protects a small but bustling harbor. Of course, the people of the wilds don't consider the "big city" part of their homeland at all. Similarly, the residents of Uthmere have little attachment to the rest of the country. As the saying goes among the people of the Great Dale, "It's a long way from Uthmere to Kront."
Most of Uthmere's inhabitants hail from Impiltur, Damara, and Thesk. For centuries, various Impilturan lords have ruled the city - some, exiles who fled an enemy at court; others, crusaders who dreamed of taming the wilderness to the east and bringing Impilturan law and culture to the benighted Dalesfolk. Although Uthmere is nominally independent of Impiltur, the lordship of the city remains an Impilturan title.
As one might expect, the interests of Uthmere don't always coincide with those of the rest of the Great Dale. The current ruler, Lord Uthlain (NG male human Ari12), hopes to see his small city become a major hub of commerce in the region, but the druids and rangers who live along the Great Road have confounded his efforts. The Circle of Leth does not concern itself with homesteaders claiming empty lands in the open dale, but entrepreneurs hoping to rake furs, timber, and other riches from the forests find the druids quick to discourage all but the least intrusive of such activities.
Lord Uthlain lives in a gray stone palace above the harbor. He maintains his power through a decades-old alliance his family made long ago with a band of seven stone giants. These massive creatures are Uthlain's muscle in the small city, and they supplement and reinforce the town guard.
The stone giants have sworn an oath of fealty to Uthlain's family, a duty that they take seriously. They are compensated well for their efforts and actually live on the first floor of the Lord's Palace. Nearly everything at this level is built for both joint human and stone giant use. The ceilings are 20 feet high, but a railed balcony runs along every room at the floor, raising those standing on them to eye level with the giants who share the place.
The city boasts a number of excellent inns, mostly catering to seafarers who wish to spend a night on solid ground for a change. At the top end of the scale, the Captain's Loft offers luxurious accommodations. Its prices (roughly triple normal) ensure that only the "proper" class of people stay there. Only the captains of the largest and most successful ships can afford it.
Toward the bottom of the barrel, there is the legendary dive known as the Bloody Hook. This seedy hole in the wall serves hard drinks to hard people, and at the end of the night, the scullery maid often mops up as much spilled blood as beer. For adventurers looking for action, though, this is the place.
Most of the major good and neutral deities are represented in Uthmere. The Hall of Brilliant Justice is a large, fortified temple to Tyr under the High Master of the Just, Blostin Marsk (LG male human Clr10 of Tyr). The hidden House of the Master's Shadow, a temple dedicated to Mask, lurks in the worst part of town. The Shadowmasters of Telflamm venerate Mask, and as they extend their tendrils deeper and deeper into the commerce of the nearby cities, they bring the worship of their nefarious deity with them. The Shadowmasters have gained a secure foothold in Uthmere, and they intend to bring the entire city under their dark dominion.
Uthmere (Small City): Conventional/nonstandard; AL NG/CE; 15,000 gp limit; Assets 6,615,000 gp; Population 8,820; Mixed (human 82%, half-elf 7%, elf 4%, halfling 3%, dwarf 2%, gnome 1%, half-orc 1%).
Authority Figures: Lord Uthlain, NG male human Ari12 (ruler of the city); Master Tintel Farpadden, CN male halfling Rog11 (local leader of the Shadowmasters).
Important Characters: Captain Enda Quellinghanter, NG female fire genasi Ftr13 (captain of the guard).
City Guard: War11, Ftr9, War9, War8, Ftr7, Pal7, War5 (2), War4 (6), Ftr3 (3), War3 (8), Ftr2 (4), War2 (38), Ftr1 (6), War1 (142); Militia: War5, War4 (2), War3 (8), Com3 (2), War2 (37), Com2 (7), War1 (102), Com1 (91); Other Characters: Bbn10, Bbn8, Bbn6, Bbn5, Bbn4 (2), Bbn3 (3), Bbn2 (5), Bbn1 (15); Brd8, Brd7, Brd5 (2), Brd4 (2), Brd3 (2), Brd2 (4), Brd1 (10); Clr11, Clr7, Clr6, Clr5, Clr4 (3), Clr3 (3), Clr2 (4), Clr1 (8); Drd9, Drd8, Drd6, DrdS, Drd4 (2), Drd3 (4), Drd2 (6), Drd1 (14); Ftr7, Ftr6, FtrS (2), Ftr4, Ftr3, Ftr2 (2), Ftr1 (8); Mnk9, Mnk8, Mnk6, Mnk5, Mnk4 (2), Mnk3 (3), Mnk2 (6), Mnk1 (7); Pal7, Pal5, Pal4, Pal3 (2), Pal2, Pal1 (7); Rgr9, Rgr8, Rgr5, Rgr4 (3), Rgr3 (4), Rgr2 (7), Rgn1 (13); Rog9, Rog8, Rog5, Rog4 (2), Rog3 (4), Rog2 (8), Rog1 (12); Sor11, Sor8, Sor5 (2), Sor4 (2), Sor3 (4), Sor2 (5), Sor1 (15); Wiz11, Wiz7 (2), Wiz6, Wiz5, Wiz4 (2), Wiz3 (2), Wiz2 (9), Wiz1 (14); Adp11, Adp9, Adp6, Adp5, Adp4 (2), Adp3 (4), Adp2 (7), Adp1 (29); Ari8, Ari5 (3), Ari4 (2), Ari3 (3), Ari2 (7), Ari1 (39); Exp11, Exp9, Exp6, Exp5 (2), Exp4 (3), Exp3 (7), Exp2 (21), Exp1 (231); War7, War5 (2), War4 (2), War3 (5), War2 (14), War (59); Com15, Com10, Com7 (2), Com5 (3), Com4 (3), Com3 (34); Com2 (166), Com1 (7,414).
Heroes and Monsters
Most characters from the Great Dale are humans, wood elves, half-elves, or volodnis. Adventurers are most often druids or rangers.
The demonbinder is rarely (if ever) a heroic figure, and the blightlord is always a black-hearted villain of the worst sort, these classes are useful when designing NPC villains.
Monsters include the blightspawned (often treants or volodnis), juju zombies, fell trolls, mur-zhagul (demon trolls), and volodnis. Blooded ones (usually orcs or ogres) and dread warriors are not uncommon in the vicinity of Ashanath, which borders the Great Dale to the southeast. Some of these creatures are left over from the last war between Thesk and Thay. Others have wandered up the coast or were sent out more recently to scout in this direction.