Legends of the Nentir Vale
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. Harkenwold is a small barony in the southeast reach of the Nentir Vale. Several tiny hamlets and a number of steadings (isolated farms) are scattered across the broad dale of the White River. The great Harken Forest surrounds the realm, isolating it from the lands nearby. In better times, this quiet backwater contently avoids major trouble.
The Barony of Harkenwold is a broad valley just over 50 miles long and roughly 20 miles wide located between arms of the Harken Forest. This primarily open land consists of gently rolling hills covered in a mix of cheery meadows, light forest with little undergrowth, and the occasional thicket. The climate is cool and rainy. Many small streams wind their way across the land, eventually joining the White River. These brooks are at most a few feet wide, and small footbridges cross them regularly.
The people of Harkenwold are farmers, woodcutters, woodworkers, smiths, carters, brewers, cheesemakers and leatherworkers; little trade comes up or down the old King’s Road. Other villagers tend nearby fields or orchards.
The nearby Harken Forest is home to the Woodsinger Elves hailing from the village of Elbereth, who occasionally trade with the humans of Harkenwold. Even with the presence of the elves the Harken forest is home to dangerous creatures, including goblins, bugbears, worgs and giant spiders.
Population: 2000 scattered across half a dozen small hamlets and a score of isolated steadings (large farms usually operated by extended families). Most of the citizens are humans but halflings, elves, and dwarves are also common. There is a smattering of other folk also.
Government: The ruler of Harkenwold is Lord Baron Stockmier of House Stockmier, an elderly man who was known for his strong sword arm in his youth. By all accounts he is a just and compassionate ruler.
Defence: Other than Baron Stockmier’s personal guard of a score of men, Harkenwold only has a militia to defend itself. This is made up primarily of young men and women who dislike agriculture work and long for something exciting.
A steading is a farm or homestead in Harkenwold’s countryside. Each of these settlements features a strongly built house of fieldstone and timber, surrounded by approximately 200 acres of pastureland and cropland. Some steadings have defensive palisades around the main house. A single extended family commonly lives in the house — two or three couples with their children, their older relations, and a few hired hands. Rarely do the total inhabitants of a steading exceed 20 people.
Traveling in Harkenwold:
Characters on foot average 2.5 to 3 miles per hour on roads or trails. Walking from Tor’s Hold to Easthill, for example, takes about two days. If the travelers avoid the well-traveled trails and strike out directly overland, the mixed terrain reduces their speed to 3/4 normal. Venturing into the Harken Forest or the Briar Hills is much more difficult. The rougher terrain reduces speed to half normal.
Travelers in Harkenwold are rarely more than a mile or two from the nearest steading. Most Harkenwolders are happy to put up visitors for the night, although the accommodations might be a dry barn or stable.
Sites of Interest:
Albridge: Second largest community in Harkenwold (see wiki entry).
Dal Nystiere: The gray elf settlement of Dal Nystiere fell to ruin centuries ago, destroyed by some unknown threat, and the Harken Forest has all but swallowed up its remains. Strange witchlights and evil monsters are known to haunt the ruins, and the Woodsinger elves have learned to give the place a wide berth.
Dardun: Population: 140. Surrounded by apple orchards, grain fields, and vineyards, Dardun is known for mild white wines, cheeses, and (of course) apples. Dardun’s elder is a proud half-elf woman named Madera Lirr, the matron of an old family of orchardists and cider-makers.
Druid Grove: To the northwest of Albridge stands a large grove of ancient trees, long sundered from the Harken Forest proper. Locals call this place Druid Grove. A stone menhir stands in the clearing at the center of the grove.
The old human druid Reithann lives here in a moss-covered lodge near the menhir clearing, along with her young apprentices Lorel (a halfling woman) and Theren (a young human man). Harkenwolders who venerate primal spirits come to this verdant place seeking Reithann’s advice.
Easthill: Population: 155. A hamlet of sheperds and stonecutters, Easthill rests on the slopes of the Briar Hills. The stone used to build the crossing at Albridge was quarried from hills nearby. A human trader named Sarken Toldorff is the village elder.
Elbereth: Population: 80. The wood elves of the Woodsinger clans live in the southeastern part of the Harken Forest. Most of the Woodsinger clan consists of around a dozen nomadic tribes, numbering 200 in total. Each band shifts from camp to camp every few months. Elbereth is the only permanent village for the clan. A wise, cautious wood elf named Tamuril Calanor, of House Calanor is the head of the Woodsinger clan. Tamuril and the rest of his house live in Elbereth.
Harken Forest: The Harken Forest is much denser than the light woodlands scattered across the Harkenwold, with larger trees and thicker undergrowth. It is also more dangerous for traveler – large and hungry beasts such as giant spiders and worgs roam its shadows. Game trails or maked paths are few and far between. The Woodsinger elves live in the forested region south of Harkenwold.
Harken Village: Largest settlement in Harkenwold and home of the ruler Lord Baron Stockmier (see Harken wiki entry)
Marl: A prosperous throp surrounded by well-tilled fields.
Toadwallow Caverns: Located beneath a forested hill overlooking fetid marshland, the Toadwallow Caverns are unpleasant and ill regarded. The caverns are named for the unusual number of large, deep-throated amphibians that lurk in the boggy land nearby. A community of bullywugs also live here, and raid and fight with both humans and goblins.
Tor’s Hold: Population: 141 Tor’s Hold is a group of steadings belonging to the seven children of Tor Foxburr. Old Tor has been dead for many years now, and his offspring have each raised small clans of their own. The elder of Tor’s Hold is Bran Torsson.
The trouble with the bullywugs in the Toadwallow Caverns requires the folk of Tor’s Hold to spend most of their time defending their lands. They have also spread along the river through the Harken Forest and attack folk heading to Fallcrest on the King’s Road.
White River: The White River runs the length of Harkenwold, varying from 200 to 300 feet wide, and up to 10 feet deep. Two ferries cross the waterway – one near Tor’s Hold, the other close to Easthill. Both are flatboats large enough for a horse and wagon, secured by thick hawsers. No one tends the ferries; travelers must haul themselves across.
The White River is home to the Reedfoot halfling clan – six keelboats scattered up and down the watercourse, each home to a large and boisterous family. The leader of the clan is Willet Reedfoot, an old, charmingly roguish fellow who earns a comfortable living storytelling in the villages close to the river.