Nentir Vale Campaign

Keep on the Shadowfell
The Road to Winterhaven

The party begins in Fallcrest, having gained some notoriety for clearing out Kobold Hall. A little more experienced now, the party gathers once again at the Silver Unicorn to discuss their next moves…

Here they decide to form a new group to search for Douven Staul, their old friend and mentor, who had left Fallcrest following a map to a dragon’s tomb somewhere near Winterhaven. Douven had mentored Roscoe, Rollin, and Vera Croix as young adventurers. They also learned from Marla, a young priest of Pelor, that witnesses have seen a small group of death cultists traveling toward Winterhaven. She asks the party to find out more information and, if they can, stamp out any evil activity in the area. Motivated by these quests, the group hit the road for the northwestern village of Winterhaven.

On the road to Winterhaven, the party was ambushed by kobolds, whom they dispatched easily. But clearly, Winterhaven is a point of light in the darkness in this region. Near the small outpost town are the ruins of Shadowfell Keep, once a bastion of the ancient empire of Nerath. Legend says that the keep was built to protect a rift into the Shadowfell, a place of evil and darkness.

Assault on Kobold Manor
The party comes together and a hero takes a fall

In so many ways, the day was like any day in Fallcrest. At the Silver Unicorn Inn, Wisara Osterman served her patrons ale and the best fried chicken in the region. This week, a caravan had arrived from the south with a large shipment for Naerumar’s Imports. Now, three Dragonborn guards revel in their recent payment for services rendered by relaxing at the Inn. Karlak and Kiriv appear to put up with the bravado of their colleague, Grill Slowsmoke, mainly because he messed up a couple of goblins on the trip north and his tiefling wife Brim was possibly more intimidating than Grill himself.

Meanwhile, Roscoe, a Halfling ranger from Fallcrest, had become worried about this mentor and friend Douven Staul. The man who had trained Roscoe for a life of adventure bade his pupil farewell three months ago and headed for Winterhaven. Douven, a rabid explorer of old ruins, had found a map that revealed the location of a dragon’s tomb not far from the village. He figured if a dragon was buried there, why not his hoard. But Douven should have returned by now and Roscoe has come to the Silver Unicorn for some advice from Wisara.

Finally, the dwarf Owengar Forgestriker has found himself in Fallcrest without a copper piece to his name. Luckily, he stumbled upon Teldorthan Ironhews, the town’s dwarf weaponsmith and armorer. Teldorthan has given Owengar some odd jobs and has found him a good smith. However, Teldorthan has two sons already working for him and cannot support a third apprentice. He sends Varus on a quest to recover a piece of dragon hide that was stolen from his shop. He suspects the kobolds living in the manor just west of the town but warns Varus to not attempt the trip alone. “Try the Silver Unicorn Inn for some muscle to join your search,” Teldorthan suggests.

So it was here, in the Silver Unicorn, that Karlak, Kiriv, Grill, Owengar, and Roscoe found themselves. But it was the Lord Warden of Fallcrest himself who truly brought them together. Faren Markelhay comes to the Inn every night after dinner for a nightcap. He overheard the dragonborn fighters chatting with the dwarf Varus about a trip to Kobold Manor. He approached them and made them an even better offer: clean out the manor completely and they would be paid handsomely for each kobold head, including the leader. “But you better get a good scout,”the Lord Warden suggested as he left. That’s when Roscoe smiled and introduced himself.

With two quests in front of them, the group left Fallcrest and headed west following Roscoe into the woods toward Kobold Manor. As they walked, they discussed what they had heard about kobolds. The stories pointed to a smallish, dragon-headed creature that was known as a scavenger. It seemed odd that kobolds would be such trouble. Fifteen miles west of Fallcrest, the party found the ruins of Kobold Hall and entered the lower level through a trapdoor at the base of an old guard tower. They also found out that kobolds were a bit tougher than all the stories.

After dispatching kobolds in the first two rooms, the party entered a large room where the kobolds play a game called “Skull-Skull”, which is exactly what they did to the party. It was here that two kobolds and a Guard Drake hammered an already weakened Grill. Oh, how he wished he had taken a breather before entering this room! Grill was hammered on three sides by the enemy and fell to their blows. With their comrade temporarily laid to rest in one of the stone coffins in the room, the party entered the fourth room and battled the kobold wyrmpriest, his guards, a Spiretop Drake, and a large boulder trap. Again, the party found themselves on the brink of destruction but rallied to take the kobolds and defeat the drake. Meanwhile, Brim came looking for her husband and found his dead body abandoned. Seeking revenge rather than grief, Brim joined the party just as it entered a secret door to a strange cavern with an icy pond in the middle. There, the group battled a surprising enemy: Szartharrax, a young white dragon being held as a captive by the kobolds. Once again, the group almost lost several of its members but was finally able to defeat the dragon and uncover a small chest, filled with the Teldorthan’s dragonhide, a few valuable trinkets, and a magical longsword. They also discover a piece of parchment with draconic writing from a goblin warlord named Irontooth from Winterhaven who wants the kobolds to help him defeat humans in the region. It is signed with a skull symbol of Orcus.

Welcome to Fallcrest
An Overview


See the WotC page on Fallcrest here:

Fallcrest stands amid the Moon Hills at the falls of the Nentir River. Here travelers and traders using the old King’s Road that runs north and south, the dwarven Trade Road from the east, and the river all meet. The surrounding ridges shelter several small valleys where farmers and woodsfolk live; few are more than six or seven miles from the town. In general the people outside Fallcrest’s walls earn their living by farming or keeping livestock, and the people inside the walls are artisans, laborers, or merchants. People with no other prospects can make a hard living as porters, carrying cargo from the Lower Quays to the Upper Quays (or vice versa).

Fallcrest imports finished goods from the larger cities downriver and ironwork from the dwarf town of Hammerfast, and exports timber, leather, fruit, and grain. It also trades with the nearby town of Winterhaven.

The surrounding hills hold several marble quarries that once produced a good deal of stone, but the area has little demand for ornamental stone these days, and only a few stonecutters still practice their trade. A small town built from the ruins of a larger city, Fallcrest is the crossroads of the Nentir Vale.

Population: 1,350; another 900 or so live in the countryside within a few miles of the town. The people of Fallcrest are mostly humans, halflings, and dwarves. No dragonborn or eladrin are permanent residents, but travelers of all races pass through on occasion.

Government: The human noble Faren Markelhay is the Lord Warden (hereditary lord) of the town. He is in charge of the town’s justice, defense, and laws. The Lord Warden appoints a town council to look after routine commerce and public projects.

Defense: The Fallcrest Guard numbers sixty warriors (see the accompanying statistics block), who also serve as constables. Moonstone Keep is their barracks. The Lord Warden can call up 350 militia at need. Inns: Nentir Inn; Silver Unicorn. The Silver Unicorn is pricier and offers better service; the Nentir Inn sees a more interesting clientele.

Taverns: Blue Moon Alehouse; Lucky Gnome Taphouse; Nentir Inn taproom.

Supplies: Halfmoon Trading House; Sandercot Provisioners.

Temples: Temple of Erathis; Moonsong Temple (Sehanine); House of the Sun (Pelor).

Fallcrest’s Story

Up until four centuries or so ago, the Moon Hills and the surrounding Nentir Vale were thinly settled borderlands, home to quarrelsome human hill-chieftains and remote realms of nonhumans such as dwarves and elves. Giants, minotaurs, orcs, ogres, and goblins plagued the area. Ruins such as those on the Gray Downs or the ring-forts atop the Old Hills date back to these days, as do stories of the hero Vendar and the dragon of the Nentir.

With the rise of the empire of Nerath to the south, human settlers began to move up the Nentir, establishing towns such as Fastormel, Harkenwold, and Winterhaven. A Nerathan hero named Aranda Markelhay obtained a charter to build a keep at the portage of the Nentir Falls. She raised a simple tower at the site of Moonstone Keep three hundred ten years ago, and under its protection the town of Fallcrest began to grow.

Over the next two centuries, Fallcrest grew into a small and prosperous city. It was a natural crossroads for trade, and the Markelhays ruled it well. When the empire of Nerath began to crumble about a century ago, Fallcrest continued to flourish—for a time.

Ninety years ago, a fierce horde of orcs known as the Bloodspears descended from the Stonemarch and swept over the vale. Fallcrest’s army was defeated in a rash attempt to halt the Bloodspears out on Gardbury Downs. The Bloodspears burned and pillaged Fallcrest and went on to wreak havoc all across the Nentir Vale.

In the decades since the Bloodspear War, Fallcrest has struggled to reestablish itself. The town is a shadow of the former city; little trade passes up and down the river these days. The countryside for scores of miles around is dotted with abandoned homesteads and manors from the days of Nerath. Once again the Nentir Vale is a thinly settled borderland where few folk live. This is a place in need of a few heroes.

Some Key Locations

16. Moonsong Temple_The third of Fallcrest’s temples is devoted to Sehanine. It also includes shrines to Corellon, Melora, and Avandra. The Markelhays regard Sehanine as their special patron, and over the years they have given generously to the temple. The temple occupies a commanding position atop the bluffs, and its white minarets can be seen from any corner of Lowtown.

The leader of the temple is High Priest Ressilmae Starlight, a wise and compassionate elf who finished adventuring decades ago and retired to a contemplative life. He is a musician of great skill who happily tutors the local children, even those who are poor and can’t afford to pay for their lessons. He has limited access to the following ritual scrolls: Cure Disease (2), Raise Dead (1), Remove Affliction (1).

19. Naerumar’s Imports_Considered the finest of Fallcrest’s retail establishments, Naerumar’s Imports deals in gemstones, jewelry, art, and magic trinkets. The owner is Orest Naerumar, a tiefling who displays impeccable manners and discretion. Orest corresponds with relatives and colleagues in several towns and cities outside the Nentir Vale; given a few weeks, he can order in low-level magic items or other items of unusual value. Similarly, Orest purchases interesting items such as these, since other dealers in distant towns or cities might be looking for them.

23. Blue Moon Alehouse_This brewhouse on the banks of the Moonwash Stream is the best tavern in Fallcrest. The owner is a nervous, easily flustered fellow of fifty or so named Par Winnomer. The true genius behind the Blue Moon is the halfling brewmaster Kemara Brownbottle. She is happy to let Par fret about running the taphouse, while she spends her time perfecting her selection of ales and beers. The Blue Moon is popular with halfling traders whose boats tie up along the Lower Quay, well-off town merchants, and the farmers who live in the countryside south of Fallcrest. The old dwarves Teldorthan (area 24) and Sergeant Murgeddin (area 18) hoist a tankard or two here on frequent occasion, and both can provide beginning adventurers with good leads on potential adventures.

Welcome to the Nentir Vale
A Brief Introduction

Nentir Vale (See map in map section)

Fallcrest lies near the middle of the broad borderland region known as the Nentir Vale. The vale is now mostly empty, with a handful of living villages and towns scattered over this wide area. Abandoned farmsteads, ruined manors, and broken keeps litter the countryside. Bandits, wild animals, and monsters roam freely throughout the vale, threatening anyone who fares more than few miles away from one of the surviving settlements. Travel along the roads or river is usually safe — usually. But every now and then, travelers come to bad ends between towns.

The Nentir Vale is a northern land, but it sees relatively little snow — winters are windy and bitterly cold. The Nentir River is too big to freeze except for a few weeks in the coldest part of the year. Summers are cool and mild.

The “clear” parts of the map (see Maps tab) are covered in mixed terrain—large stretches of open meadowland, copses of light forest, gently rolling hills, and the occasional thicket of dense woodland and heavy undergrowth.

The downs marked on the map are hilly grassland, with little tree cover. The hills are steeper and more rugged, and include light forest in the valleys and saddles between the hilltops. Interesting locales in the Nentir Vale are described below.

Fiveleague House Fiveleague House is more properly known as the Fiveleague Inn. It’s a strongly built innhouse surrounded by a wooden palisade. Fiveleague House caters to travelers and merchants coming or going from Hammerfast, a day’s journey (five leagues) farther east. The proprietor is a big, bearlike human named Barton.

Gardmore Abbey The Gardbury Downs take their name from this striking ruin, a large monastery that has lain in ruins for almost one hundred fifty years. The abbey was dedicated to Bahamut and served as the base of a militant order of paladins who won great fame fighting in Nerath’s distant crusades. As the story goes, the paladins brought a dark artifact back from a far crusade for safekeeping, and evil forces gathered to assault the abbey and take it back. Extensive dungeons are rumored to lie beneath the ruins, which might still conceal the hoarded wealth of the old crusading paladins.

The Sword Barrow This large burial mound stands near the middle of the Gray Downs, a desolate region. The old human hill-clans who lived in the Vale raised the barrow centuries before civilized folk settled in Fallcrest. The hill-folk are long gone, but their grim barrows remain. The Sword Barrow gained its name because scores of rusted blades of ancient design are buried around its edges, blades pointing inward; a visitor can turn up several in a few minutes of looking around.

Hammerfast A dwarven hold cut from the rock of a deep vale in the Dawnforge Mountains, Hammerfast is the largest and wealthiest town in the region. The Trade Road runs through the citadel gates and continues eastward beyond the Dawnforge Mountains. Hammerfast is governed by a council of masters, each the leaders of one of the town’s powerful guilds. The current High Master is the leader of the merchant guild, a dwarf named Marsinda Goldspinner. By reputation, the dwarves of Hammerfast look to their own first and don’t give away anything for free, but they are honest and industrious.

Harken Forest This large woodland stretches from the Nentir River to the mountains and extends for miles to the south. It separates the Nentir Vale from the more populous coastal towns of the south. A goblin stronghold called Daggerburg lies somewhere in the southwest reaches. The goblins sometimes raid the river-traffic moving along the Nentir or send small parties of marauders to Harkenwold’s borders.

An elf tribe known as the Woodsinger Clan roams the eastern portions of the forest. They occasionally trade with the humans of Harkenwold and keep an eye on travelers along the old King’s Road. They have a long-standing feud with the Daggerburg goblins, and the goblins tend to keep to the western parts of the forest to avoid swift and deadly elven arrows. However, the goblins are growing more numerous and have become bolder in recent months.

Harkenwold Half a dozen small villages lie along the upper vales of the White River. Together, they make up the Barony of Harkenwold — a tiny realm whose total population is not much greater than Fallcrest’s. The people of Harkenwold are farmers, woodcutters, and woodworkers; little trade comes up or down the old King’s Road.

The ruler of Harkenwold is Baron Stockmer, an elderly man who was known for his strong sword arm in his youth. He is said to be a just and compassionate ruler.

Kalton Manor Back in the days when Nerath was settling the Nentir Vale, minor lords in search of land to call their own established manors and holds throughout the area. Kalton Manor was one of these, a small keep raised by Lord Arrol Kalton about two hundred years ago. Lord Arrol intended to settle the lower vale of the White River, but it was not to be — monsters from the Witchlight Fens drove off the tenants Arrol had brought with him. At the end, Arrol and a handful of his servants and family lived alone in a half-finished keep slowly falling into ruin until they disappeared as well. Stories tell of hidden treasure — the old Kalton fortune — hidden in secret chambers beneath the ruined keep.

Keep on the Shadowfell Long ago, soldiers from Nerath built a strong fortress to protect the region from the threats to its people. The old keep lies in ruins now, though it is rumored to be a goblin lair.

Kobold Hall Like Kalton Manor, the wreck now known locally as Kobold Hall was the estate of a minor lord who came to Nentir Vale to establish his own demesnes. Ruined during the Bloodspear War, the old castle has been abandoned for almost a century. Kobold tribes from the Cloak Wood now lurk in its depths.

Nenlast This tiny human village lies at the east end of Lake Nen. The folk here make a meager living by trading smoked fish to the dwarves of Hammerfast. They also deal with the Tigerclaw barbarians of the Winterbole Forest. When the wild folk choose to trade, they come to Nenlast to barter their pelts and amber for good dwarven metalwork.

Raven Roost This small keep stands at the southern end of the Old Hills. Once it was the seat of a small manor, but it fell into ruin long ago and has recently been taken over by a gang of bandits.

Ruins of Fastormel Once a prosperous town on the shores of Lake Nen, Fastormel was destroyed by the Bloodspear orcs and has never been resettled. The town was ruled by a Lord Mage (the most powerful wizard in town claimed the ruler’s scepter), and the Mistborn Tower of the last Lord Mage still stands amid the ruins of the town. The tower is shrouded in a strange silver mist that never dissipates, no matter what the weather would otherwise dictate.

The Stonemarch A rugged land of stony hills and deep gorges cut by white-rushing rivers, the Stonemarch is home to tribes of dangerous humanoids and giants. Orcs, ogres, giants, and trolls haunt the farther reaches of these barren lands. Fortunately for the residents of the vale, the monsters rarely come east over the Cairngorm Peaks.

Temple of Yellow Skulls The ruins of an evil shrine stand in the middle of these desolate hills. Legend tells that a rakshasa prince summoned demons to this place and bound them to his service by imprisoning their vital essences in gold-plated human skulls. None of these have yet been recovered from the ruins, but the story persists.

Thunderspire This striking peak is the largest of the Old Hills. Merchants passing along the Trade Road sometimes take shelter here.

Winterhaven Hard under the Cairngorms at the west end of the Nentir Vale lies the remote town of Winterhaven. Like Fallcrest, Winterhaven is a small town surrounded by a few miles of farmland and pastures.

Thanks to Zero and his description of Nentir from the campaign “The Shadowfell”


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