Scales of War
The Vale is a thinly populated frontier that stretches almost 250 miles east to west and averages about 70 miles north to south. Several small mountain ranges and dense forests form the vale’s borders.
The scattered human towns and villages of the area grew up along the Dawn Way, an important east-west trade road linking the heavily settled lands that lie northwest across the Endless Plains with the exotic kingdoms and goods of the coastal lands lying to the southeast. Much of the Dawn Way was built by an ancient dwarf-kingdom that spanned the Wyrmsmoke and Giant’s Shield Mountains more than a thousand years ago. While the dwarves are long gone, their roads, bridges, and cisterns remain in use to this day. After the dwarf-realm passed, the presence of various monsters and raiders kept traffic along the Dawn Way light for many years; few caravans dared the long and dangerous trek. Few humans lived in Elsir Vale during those years only scattered settlements of druidic folk who left behind little more than grassy barrows and stone circles on the hilltops.
About five hundred years ago, the nearby city of Rhest came to control the vale and a large swath of land north of the Giant’s Shield Mountains as well. Soldiers from Rhest secured the roads all the way to Dennovar and beyond, creating a safe passage for trade. More and more traders traveled the Dawn Way, and the kingdom of Rhestilor grew wealthy on the tariffs exacted from the passing merchants. Under the kingdom’s shield, the towns along the Dawn Way—Stoughton, Talar, Terrelton, and the rest—grew up from tiny hamlets or lonely soldiers’ posts to flourishing human settlements.
The kingdom of Rhestilor eventually collapsed under civil strife, monstrous incursions, and magical blights. Almost two hundred years ago, the city of Rhest was burned by a savage horde of goblinoids. Although the warriors of Rhestilor killed many of the goblins and their kind, the city was abandoned and the already weakened kingdom broken. The locks and canals surrounding Rhest fell into disrepair, and the Blackfens swallowed the ruined city.
In the years since the kingdom’s fall, the towns of Elsir Vale have come to look after themselves. Most of the local lords still hold titles derived from the old kingdom of Rhestilor. While everybody knows that the kings of Rhestilor are long dead, no new realm has arisen in the Vale.
Places of interest:
Brindol, Overlook, Fortress Greystone
Rescue at Rivenroar
Dubbed for history as the “Rescue at Rivenroar,” the bold new adventurers rescued seven kidnapped citizens of Brindol. Part of Sinruth’s rise to power was due to his evangelizing to his fellow goblinoids and other vile creatures that he whould overthrow local bastions of civilization. He reserved special loathing, however, for Brindol, scene of the Red Hand’s defeat.
The recent attacks had the locals unnerved, and early on, the group of old friends witnessed firsthand that the kidnappings were not an isolated incident. To sow more fear and uncertainty, more of Sinruth’s Hand continued raids on the town. After foiling a pair of such attacks, the friends were approached by Councilmember Troyas, a member of Brindol’s ruling town council, to recover the missing citizens.
The new heroes traveled to Sinruth’s lair a sprawling underground complex called Rivenroar. There they faced Sinruth’s Hand, freed the lost citizens of Brindol, faced Sinruth himself . . . and discovered some uncomfortable information about the nature of Sinruth in Elsir Vale; that he was promised help by the Emissary.
Places of Interest:
Hall of Great Valor, Antler and Thistle, River Bargemen, Alchemy by Adronsius, College of Ioun
Siege of Bordrin’s Watch
Even though the dwarves had been successful in containing the orc hordes in the past, this time it’s was different and the dwarves of Overlook were concerned that the walls of Bordrin’s Watch might not be enough to staunch the flood. All their misgivings stemed from the reports brought back by their own scouts, who mentioned endless ranks of orcs, trolls, and worse marching inexorably to the Stonehome Mountains. To shore up the thin number of defenders to man the Watch, Overlook dispatched a call to arms, beseeching able-bodied men and women across the Elsir Vale to mobilize at Overlook and then join forces with the defenders in the mountains. With the memory of the last war that ravaged the Vale, militias formed up and adventurers from as far away as Brindol answered the call.
The new “Headsmen of Brindol” were among those who go to aid the dwarves. Being seasoned adventurers and with some notoriety for their success in Rivenroar, it was clear from the locals and allies the Headsmen had made that joining the dwarves was the right thing to do.
Along the way, the Headsmen encountered a patrol of orcs, which suggested that the orcs had somehow crossed the mountains. Armed with this information, the Headsmen approached the Council of Elders to reveal the new threat. With this revelation, the Council believed they had been compromised and that the tunnels beneath the mountains breached. Even though this development posed great danger to their defenses, the orc horde was still far enough away that there was time to seal the tunnels and prevent the orcs from coming through. Thus, it fell to the Headsmen and two other groups to secure the tunnels and seal the Nexus to prevent the orcs from breaching the defenses.
The Council of Elders assigned the task of securing the tunnels beneath the Monastery of the Sundered Chain to the Headsmen, and they dispatched other groups to the other weak points in their defenses. Once the heroes arrive at the old monastery, it was clear the other locations might be compromised and the other adventuring groups might be overmatched. The group found Kalad and learned the dwarf paladin already secured the tunnel to Bordrin’s Watch, but discovered the Vents were likely not secure. So, the boys travelled down to the lower tunnels, made their way past the orc invaders, and located the ancient Nexus to complete their mission before the orc hordes arrive. Sealing the Nexus, killing the half orc half ogre leader Tusk, and almost scalding to death the Headsmen of Brindol saved Overlook and discovered a sinister connection between the shadowlands and the orc invaders.
Places of Interest:
Overlook, The Turned Spoon, Elsir Consortium, House of Sleep, Mountain Hearth, High Hall
The Shadowrift of Umbraforge
Back in Overlook after the events of “Siege of Bor¬drin’s Watch,” the Headsmen of Brindol found themselves targeted by a group of street toughs seeking a mysterious brass key. Through their would-be assailants, the Headsmen obtain the name of the one who ordered the assault—”Modra.” Using this knowledge the adventurers found Modra’s lodgings and recovered the key spoken of by the Lost Ones, a brass rod about 4 inches long.
By way of stealth and intimidation that took them into the darkest corners of the city, the Headsmen learned that Modra was a dark creeper with connections to an arms-run¬ning operation and a poorhouse known as the Happy Beggar. In a network of secret caverns beneath the Beggar, the Headsmen discovered that the weapons-running operation extended from the Shadowfell to Overlook by way of a pair of ancient magic portals. The dark creeper managed to get away as the Headsmen were overcome by specters.
After recovering from battling the undead the Headsmen found a warehouse that allowed them to travel to the gate once more. This gate transported them to the Shadowfell, and the Headsmen found them¬selves in Umbraforge—an isolated military enclave that was growing ever larger in its preparations for war. Foundries, forges, mercenary camps, and slave pens stood between a dark tower and a volcanic rift vent¬ing a river of lava and shadow. As they infiltrated by stealth and sword, the Headsmen discovered that Modra was an underling to the shadar-kai Sarshan, master of Umbraforge. In addition to arms running, Sarshan sold mercenaries and creatures bred for war—horrid mutants created in an arcane foundry fueled by the raw power of the magma shadow rift.
Within the foundry, the Headsmen eliminated Modra and his followers then used a secret tunnel to gain access to the tower. As they infiltrated Sarshan’s inner sanc¬tum, they faced off against his house guards and allies before being brought before the shadar-kai and given a chance to join him. Then a massive tremor gener¬ated by the magma shadow rift shook the tower, allowing the Headsmen to flee back to the Shadowfell gate, but not before killing Sarshan’s guard Capitan. As Sarshan’s foundry was leveled by the destructive forces of shadow and fire, the Headsmen escaped back to the world.
When the adventure is done, Sarshan’s Shadowfell gate is destroyed and Overlook is safe. However, the Headsmen have uncovered information indicating that the apparently isolated conflicts that led them first to Rivenroar, then to Bordrin’s Watch, touch on secret plots that threaten the end the world.
Places of Interest:
Happy Beggar, Umbraforge, Overlook, Shadowfell
The Lost Mines of Karak
After their successes in the siege of Bordrin’s Watch and the Umbraforge, the Headsmen had established something of a reputation for themselves within Overlook. The party was introduced to a wealthy dwarf named Bram Ironfell, a member of the Elsir Consortium and scion of Clan Ironfell.
Bram took the Headsmen into his confidence as he told them of a recent discovery of parchment con¬nected to the shadar-kai arms dealer Sarshan. Bram believed that the parchment detailed the location of the Karak Lode—a mine belonging to his clan that had been lost for generations. Bram hoped that if the mine was found, its wealth could be used to defend Overlook and the Elsir Vale against the brewing conflict that the Headsmen saw hints of in the Shadowfell.
Following the directions on the ancient scroll, the party headed south past the Westdeep and into the dry lands known as the Thornwaste. There, they were beset by dwarf warriors from a rival clan who had caught wind of Bram’s discovery. They also encounter a wan¬derer named Mag Blackthorn, from whom they took guidance through the treacherous wastes.
Beyond the Thornwaste, the Headsmen came to Dunesend—a small village at the edge of the desert, controlled by a cruel gnoll called the Warden. After defeating the Warden and his allies, the Headsmen learned that the village was held in thrall by a mysterious desert despot calling herself Shephatiah, Queen of the Drylands. The Warden’s path through the desert followed a forgotten track to Shephatiah’s lair in a lost mine—the Karak Lode. However, the Headsmen found the ancient dwar¬ven ruins occupied and defended by desert raiders and foul subterranean creatures led by an evil dryad. However, though the Headsmen made short work of the queen and her followers, they could find no trace of the mines.
As they waited out a sandstorm, the Headsmen found them¬selves beset by a band of cavern choker assassins led by a troglodyte curse chanter. Only by retracing the steps of these marauders did the characters locate the previously hidden entrance to the mines. There, the true Queen Shephatiah held court.
Exploring the ancient dwarven caverns, the Headsmen battled Shephatiah’s followers before confronting the real Queen of the Drylands—a powerful naga. Having discovered a rift linking the mines with Elemental Chaos, Shephatiah had made the Karak Lode her lair. However, after defeating the naga and her servants, the Headsmen uncovered evidence that Karak’s wealth was now controlled by an unknown group from another plane.
The Headsmen returned to Overlook and recounted their findings to Bram Ironfell, who told them he will leave the mine sealed. However, the forces responsible for shipping the mine’s wealth through the Elemental Chaos gate might have a long reach and dark plans.
Places of Interest:
Overlook, Dunesend, Thornwaste, Karak Mine
Den of the Destroyer
In the aftermath of the rescue at Rivenroar, the Headsmen recovered not only the kidnapped inhabitants of Brindol but also several relics of great historical value to the inhabitants of Elsir Vale. Among these was a ceremonial platinum longsword. Though the folk of the vale had no knowledge of the sword being magic (and though the Headsmen had detected no magic within it), it contained a primal essence that had been reawakened by the gnoll, Fangren’s, powerful rituals. The Headsmen were in the city of Overlook when the adventure began, resting up from their adventures in the Mines of Karak. The Headsmen heard that a messenger had recently arrived from Brindol, desperately seeking the party.
On further investigation, the Headsmen discovered that this messenger has been captured by a band of Lost Ones, the powerful thieving guild the Headsmen faced off against in when searching for Modra. After rescuing the messenger, the players were beseeched to return to Brindol.
Arriving in the town, the Headsmen headed to the Hall of Great Valor and spoke with the curator Sertanian, then with the sword itself. Identifying itself as Amyria, the sword charged the party with a mission: travel to an abandoned githzerai fortress now occupied by savage gnoll mercenaries, and then perform a ritual to transform the sword into its true form. Even as the Headsmen weighed their next move, bounty hunters from Overlook attacked the museum, wrecking the place as they target the party on behalf of an unknown patron.
With the sword in their possession, the Headsmen traveled to the githzerai fortress by an airship recently arriving from Overlook to ferry passengers back and forth along the Elsir River. The Headsmen arrived at the monastery and fought their way through its gnoll defenders, almost losing their wizard to petrification. They rescued prisoners, and defeated Sarshan’s chief weapon-master. However, the arduous battle was made more dangerous by another bounty hunter—the elf Gilgathorn, who knew that Sarshan is the one who had put a price on the Headsmen’ heads. While fighting psionic echoes in an ancient training chamber the band was run off, having to leave their healing banner behind.
In the end, the Headsmen found the ritual chamber and faced off against Fangren. The energy conduit to Elemental Chaos had been opened, and the shaman chan¬neled the power of Yeenoghu against the Headsmen. After defeating Fangren, the Headsmen performed the ritual that transformed the spirit of Amyria into its true form—a mysterious young woman who is certain to play a role in the events the Headsmen are caught up in.
Places of Interest:
Brindol, Great Hall of Valor, Greystone Keep