Map of the Multiverse (World Axis version)
Map of the World
Map of the Nentir Vale
The world has no proper name, but it bears a wide variety of prosaic and poetic names among those people who ever find need to call it anything but “the world.” It’s the Creation, the middle world, the natural world, the created world, the mortal world, or even the First Work. (DMG, p.160; DMK, p.38)
Some believe the world exists within some form of crystal sphere, as some scholars and warlocks believe the world is protected by a "black shell" which shares with other celestial bodies, such as a sun and stars. It's also believed that the stars we see in the sky are holes in the surface of that shell, or gemstones of titanic proportions inlaid in it (among other less logical explanations), however there is no definite proof about their true nature. There are a few known constellations as well, but there is no information about them. (DMG, p.160; DMK, p.38; DR393, p.24, 26)
The "crystal sphere"
- The world: An Earth-like planet (as seen in the map of the multiverse above) of unknown size. Potentially, the primary body of the sphere —is said it's "the center of the universe" in MotP, p.12)
- The moon: Also known as “the Goddess” by some folk, in homage to Sehanine (HotF, p.86)
- Iltani: The world once had two moons, but the second moon, named Iltani, was destroyed 100 years ago in the aftermath of the fall of Nerath. This moon was blue-colored. (DR383, pp.102-103)
- The Sun: Has no name.
- Allabar, the Opener of the Way: A wandering, self-aware planet infested by the Far Realm. (MM3, p.187)
- Dragontooth: A wandering star that appears every 76 years in the World, during the longest day. (AV2, p.15)
- Far Wanderer: A comet that traverses the sky every few centuries and its believed to be related to the gods of good. (AV2, p.117)
- Hrothmar: A gigantic, wandering comet, actually a sealed titan. (AV2, p.59)
- Nebiru: The lair of an apocalypse dragon (a very old and powerful catastrophic dragon) named Nebiru. This lair is composed of half-formed worlds and the rubble of creation. (DR383, p.103)
It seems that some stars have come under the influence of Far Realm entities. Such creatures use stars (some without conscious thought, but others with intention aforethought) as windows on the world. It seems unlikely that every star in the sky is associated with a mind-shattering monster (though some star pact warlocks wake from nightmares where every light in the night sky simultaneously blinks open, revealing eyes...). But few stars are definitely so associated, and these connections are scribed in a spidery, shaking hand on a parchment titled Revelations of Melech. There is also a embedded message in the scroll (a sort of psychic engram) called the Confession of Melech. (DR366, DR403)
- Acamar: A corpse star whose motions and behemoth size send celestial objects that draw too close spiraling to their doom.
- Caiphon, The Dream Whisperer: A purple star usually on the horizon. It has the guise of a helpful guide star, but sometimes betrays those who rely upon it.
- Delban, The Star of Ice and Hate: An ice-white star often visible only during winter, it might surprise the star-gazer with an impromptu flare during any season.
- Gibbeth, The Endless: Better not to write or think overlong on this greenish point in the sky.
- Hadar, The Ebon Hunger: The extinguished cinder of a star lurking within the cloaking nebula of Ihbar.
- Ihbar, The Hands of Tendrils: A dark nebula between stars, is slowly expanding and eating the light of neighboring constellations.
- Khirad, The Burning Flame: A piercing blue star, its radiance sometimes reveals secrets and gruesome insights.
- Nihal, The Red Worms: A reddish star that writhes around the position it should hold in the heavens.
- Thuban: Of the frozen emerald seas. There is no more info about it. (PHB)
- Ulban, The Messenger: A comet of blue-white fire and the morning glory. Its blue-white light disrupts cognition and the ability to recognize danger. Its a being from outside time and space who claims to be the last survivor of the final destruction of the universe. This being seeks for heroes to help him avert the demise of the universe and also reveals insights about the future. Many star pact warlocks are drawn to make pacts with it. (DR366, DU174)
- Zhudun, The Corpse Star: Dead, and of the Blank Face. Another corpse star, historically described as shining a baleful light over the Ruined Realm of Cendriane in the Feywild before its fall.
The "stars" (entities) of the Elder Constellation are not all associated with the Far Realm as other "stars" in the sky are. However, those unfathomable "stars" are inconceivably powerful beings who will survive to time’s end. (DR403)
- Atropus, the World Born Dead: A vast primordial of undeath, spawner of the atropals. Currently, one of the few free primordials. Atropus drifts through the gulfs of space, searching for worlds to consume. When it finds a world, it erases all life from it with a single gruesome touch. (OP)
- Father Llymic: A mote of alien thought given form and flesh, who dwells in an icy prison awaiting a time when the world will be right for his arrival.
- Pandorym: A god-slaying weapon that personifies the emotionless void of utter annihilation, sealed in the voids of space and awaiting the time when it will be reunited with its monstrous body.
- Ragnorra, Mother of Monsters: A primeval source of corrupted life and horrific monsters.
- Kyuss, The Worm That Walks: A sentient tear in reality through which one can see a swarming mass of maggots and worms that goes on forever. It's said the "star" Nihal is brother to the Worm, or rather, they are aspects of the same entity as seen from different ends of time.
The World is a vast place, yet since the fall of Nerath most of the knowledge about it is scarce. Most maps and records of all sorts were lost in the chaos that followed the demise of that nation. According to the surviving records, Nerath was the last great empire of the World, and it encompassed most of what historians call "the known world". However, currently there is only one official map of the lands of Nerath, which is limited to empire’s main regions and their eastern borders—what some people may call the "civilized lands". (CoN, p.3; CoN, map; DR385, p.78; DR393, p.12; DU155, p.31)
Of what little information we have, we know that the Nerathi Empire spawned two continents. These continents were also home of at least four ancient empires that existed many centuries (or even millennia) before the founding of Nerath: Arkhosia, Bael Turath, Mira and Zannad. The continent where the heartlands of Nerath are located has been called "Nerath" in the game, yet that name is unofficial. The continent located to the east of Nerath is named Selduria. Between Nerath and Selduria lies a huge island named Kelarnil. (CoN, map; DR393, p.12; DR, p.90; DU158, p.86)
There is a third continent in the world, however, and Nerath may have had a few settlements there as well. It's existence is hinted at in the adventure "The Tariff of Relkingham" (DU158), which takes place in a town near a "land bridge between two large continents". There is no such land bridge in the official map from the "Conquest of Nerath" board game, meaning there is an unnamed, unmapped and unknown third continent to the west of the Nerathi continent.
The lands of the "known world" are surrounded by many seas. Between Nerath and Selduria we have 9 seas, 8 of them known as the "Eight Seas of the Iron Circle". Those are the Amilian Sea, the Midnight Sea, the Sea of Dragons, the Sea of Gnashing Ice, the Sea of Ghosts, the Sea of Mist, the Solannin Sea, the Sunrise Sea, and the Wailing Sea. Those are easily identifiable in the official map. (CoN, map; DR412, p.5)
There are three other seas named in official products that are not located in the official map. The Starfall Sea, the Frozen Sea and the Sunset Sea, but we have little information about them and so their locations are unknown. For what little we know, the Sunset Sea may be located in the southern edge of the Nerathi Continent, beyond the uncharted Desert of Desolation, as it was once part of Arkhosia, in a region known to be the "edge of the world". This can also mean that the south pole of the World is a hot place, unlike the north pole. The Frozen Sea is located in the northern hemisphere. This cold stretch of ocean pounds along the Frozen Coast, and flows near thin cracks in reality that connect the natural world to the Elemental Chaos. (DrCD, p.134; RotG; UA, “The Decaying Mansion of Memories”)
The northern borderlands
A stretch of frontier that is currently lightly populated by small settlements slowly reclaiming the wilderness, this region is the northernmost area of former Nerath. Across the borderlands, a small number of dragonborn and tiefling settlements persist in the ruins of ancient Arkhosia and Bael Turath. The northern borderlands are somewhat described in the "Heroes of" series of books.
Nerath's northernmost frontier, most of Nentir Vale is comprised of large stretches of open meadowland, copses of light forest, gently rolling hills, and the occasional thicket of dense woodland and heavy undergrowth. The downs are hilly grassland, with little tree cover. They are steeper and more rugged, and include light forest in the valleys and saddles between the hilltops. While the Nentir Vale is a northern land, it sees relatively little snow—winters are windy and bitterly cold, and 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, while the spring and autumn months bring heavy rains.
Three important rivers cross the vale: the Nentir River, the White River and the Winter River, while a fourth and small one, the Rushing River, crosses the perilous Dawnforge Mountains. Along with the King’s Road (founded during Nerath's height) that crosses the vale south to north, the dwarven Trade Road from the east to the west, and the Iron Road in the Dawnforges, those rivers serve as the major trade routes in the vale.
Further details on the Nentir Vale can be found on page 206 of the Dungeon Master's Guide or page 54 of the Dungeon Master's Book (from the Dungeon Master's Kit). Native monsters can be found in Monster Vault: Threats to the Nentir Vale. The Vale has featured in the Fell's Five comics, and in the Mark of Nerath and the main Abyssal Plague trilogy novels.
The following sections serve as a summary of the vale’s significant features, interesting locales and more prominent settlements. They are organized in alphabetical order.
The Cairngorm Peaks:
A small mountain range that forms a barrier between the Nentir Vale and the Stonemarch. The northern mountains are rich in diamond mines, and some dwarves have opened mining outposts on the region. Kobolds and goblins infest the eastern part of the mountains, while the high mountains are the domain of the fearsome perytons and the bizarre aberrations known as mooncalves. The green dragon Vestapalk makes his lair in these crags, and the kobolds of the Greenscale tribe hunt the foothills and the neighboring terrain under the dragon’s aegis. According to legends, when winter storms come to the Cairngorm Peaks, the Rime Mistress, a powerful frost witch, appears to protect the indigenous beasts from unnatural threats.
- Dragonborn enclave: A dragonborn community located near some Arkhosian ruins, somewhere in the Cairngorms. (Mentioned in the Player's Strategy Guide)
- Hidden Valley: A small valley amid the Cairngorms, infested by perytons. Featured in the "Eye of the Chained God" novel.
- Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun: Located in the mouth of the valley, this old dwarven outpost was dedicated to Tharizdun. It was abandoned long time ago.
- The Iron Gauntlet’s hideout: The headquarters of a band of hobgoblin mercenaries and slavers, located in a mine on one of the southern mountains of the Cairngorms.
- Keep on the Shadowfell: Long ago, soldiers from Nerath built a strong fortress over a rift leading to the Shadowfell, hoping to prevent shadowy horrors from entering the world. The old keep lies in ruins now, and a new generation of cultists has secretly taken up residence here. They seek to undo the magical wards sealing the Shadowfell rift.
- The Miser's Pit: A mad dwarf named Goldrun Coinkeeper discovered this deep shaft hidden in the Cairngorm Peaks. A narrow stair at the edge of the shaft descends at least 500 feet through the earth, leading eventually into the vast expanse of the Underdark.
- Sunderpeak Temple: Located in the northern mountain of the Cairngorms, this temple is dedicated to the gods of good, constructed with the purpose to safeguard a powerful artifact. However, a black dragon named Blightborn attacked Sunderpeak Temple at the head of a small army. Blightborn claimed the ruined temple as its lair, and has been digging in with its remaining servants ever since.
- Winterhaven: Hard under the Cairngorms at the west end of the Nentir Vale lies this remote village, surrounded by a few miles of farmland and pastures. Built in the shelter of the Keep on the Shadowfell during Nerath’s height, this village stands as a feeble light at the edge of civilization.
The Chaos Scar:
A long, wide valley between the Ogrefist Hills and the Witchlight Fens, the Chaos Scar was carved by the fall of a massive meteor—in truth, a cosmic horror from the Far Realm—400 years ago. The arrival of this fallen star was fraught with ill omen, and the place now seems a dark magnet for all that is evil, drawing horrific monsters and people of malign character to make their homes in the valley. Rulers have tried to contain the threat of the Chaos Scar in the past, with little to no success. A long-forgotten king erected a wall across the valley's mouth. It still stands, partly in ruins, its gates open and unguarded.
Locations outside the Chaos Scar:
- Restwell Keep: Also known as the Keep on the Borderlands, this citadel just outside the King’s Wall has kept a sentinel’s post over the Chaos Scar for 400 years. Legends claim that Restwell Keep has been the fortress of a hobgoblin king, the home of an infamous bandit lord, a linchpin garrison of fallen Nerath, and the lair of a dragon. Indeed, the keep has been all this and more.
- Wenly Halt: A small village that has endured on the edge of the Chaos Scar, just outside the southern edge of the King’s Wall.
- The Crossroads: A small inn located a few miles beyond the King’s Wall, it serves as a trade hub and “safe” haven for adventurers and traders exploring the Chaos Scar. The owner is tiefling man called Millen Silvereye.
- Dragontooth Hill: A hill near the King’s Wall. A ruined fortress on its top is also the lair of Moxulhar, a copper dragon wyrmling.
- Earthmane’s Keep: The old keep of the famed goliath sorcerer Voran Earthmane was destroyed when the Chaos Scar was created, but its ruins still stand.
- The Forest: A small and malign forest inhabited by strange creatures, and more recently by increasing numbers of kobolds exiled from the Fireclaw tribe.
- Glass-Spire Forest: A forest made of crystal tree-like formations, not far from the King’s Wall.
- The Goblin Hole: A cave system below the Chaos Scar, which attracts goblins. They have transformed the site into a headquarters of sorts. No matter how many times adventurer bands go into the Hole and kill all of its inhabitants, in time more goblins will reclaim the Hole again.
- Hallowgaunt: This keep, built around the “meteor” in the heart of the Scar, is crowned by a perpetual storm of black clouds and crackling lightning. It’s the headquarters of the mysterious Brotherhood of the Scar, a group of worshipers of Bane that rule over the valley without opposition.
- The Head in the Clouds: The human wizard Bolios Whittish commands a strange flying fortress carved from the head of an enormous statue and fortified with a crow-nlike tower. The Head has been seen floating above the Chaos Scar in recent months.
- The Library of Highforest: A ruined library, once operated by priests and sages of Ioun.
- The Pillar of Eyes: Not far from the King Wall’s is a crooked stone pillar, standing alone in an otherwise ordinary field. It resembles nothing so much as a stack of staring eyeballs.
- The Proving Pit: A gladiatorial arena that is associated with an enticing magical sword called the Scarblade.
- The Slaver’s Stone: A lone monolith west to the Stone Forest. The Slaver’s Stone takes its name for the business conducted on the high, flat stone.
- The Stone Forest: The Stone Forest is not an actual forest but rather a collection of monoliths set in the Scar by people unknown for purposes unknown.
- The Temple of the Radiant Morn: A temple run by a devotee of Baalzebul known to his ilk as Theran of the False Truth. He uses the temple as a facade, “helping” the poor, the pariahs, and other people who will be not missed, while spreading the Lord of Lies’ influence. The “helped” people tend to disappear without a trace a few days after they have arrived to the temple.
- The Vanguard Tower: Formerly the headquarters of a band of mercenaries, the tower is now inhabited by a powerful beholder and his band of duergars.
- The Whispering Glade: A small clearing in an otherwise dense woods. The glade is home to a pair of hag sisters and their forest allies and servitors. They try to misdirect infrequent visitors away from their lair, which is hidden in a forgotten eladrin tomb.
The Cloak Wood:
This small forest to the west of Fallcrest is infested with several tribes of kobolds. The young white dragon Szartharrax also lives in the forest, enjoying the adulation of the tiny pests.
- Kobold Hall: The wreck now known locally as Kobold Hall was once the estate of a minor lord who came to the Nentir Vale to establish his own demesne. Ruined during the Bloodspear War, the old castle has been abandoned for almost a century and kobolds now lurk in its depths.
- Vanamere’s Tower: The ruined tower of the elf wizard Vanamere stands alone at the southern reach of the Cloak Wood. It's rumored it contains many treasures Vanamere hoarded during her adventuring career, including one of the fabled Yellow Skulls.
The Dawnforge Mountains:
Named for the legendary mountain at the eastern edge of the World where Moradin is said to have crafted the sun, the Dawnforge Mountains define the eastern boundary of the Nentir Vale. Beyond the mountains, the land grows quickly wilder, for only a few settlements were ever established that far from Nerath’s capital and even fewer have lasted to the present day. The foothills to the east of the mountains are infested with trolls, hill giants, ogres, gnolls, goblins, and orcs, making trade with those remaining towns dangerous and difficult. The trolls and werewolves of Summerdown Valley are also known for terrorizing the mountains, venturing far and wide in search of fresh victims and treasures for their queen. Other monsters common to the region include ankhegs, blood hawks, dire boars, cave bears, hippogriffs, harpies, manticores, owlbears, gray wolves, and wyverns.
A number of marauding gangs of humans, dwarves, halflings, and gnomes scour the peaks as well, in search of folk to rob and terrorize. Several bands of goliaths also range throughout the mountains. Most of the time these goliaths wander above the tree line to keep clear of monsters and travelers. Once a year, though, they engage in a great race across the mountains. A non-goliath that completes the race becomes an honorary member of one of the clans.
These mountains also hide dragons—foremost among them the three-headed monstrosity that calls herself Calastryx. The red dragon is slumbering, still affected by a curse placed on her centuries ago, but fears are growing stronger that her reemergence is near. The Emberdark—a tribe of kobolds that are fanatically subservient to her—can hardly wait till Calastryx wakes up, and they actively work to make that happen.
Apart from the dangers of bandits and monsters, the rough terrain, perilous slopes, and bitter cold of the mountains present equally deadly threats.
- Azarel’s Tower: The abode of a long-dead archmage, which supposedly lies somewhere within the Dawnforge Mountains. It's believed that anyone attempting to access the tower without a wand of Thunder to open the tower’s hidden passages will find a quick end from the magic traps and immortal guardians still defending the place.
- Castle Inverness: A ruined castle in the southern slopes of the Dawnforges. Castle Inverness is one of the three infamous "ghost towers" of the Nentir Vale, but unlike the other two, it is not merely a focus for the activities of undead. Even without the appearance of the Ghost Tower, Castle Inverness has long been shunned by the locals. The legends of its tyrannical rise, and of the supernatural perils that remain after its fall, are still the stuff of bard songs and tavern tales.
- Cazakk’s lair: An ancient dwarf watchpost in the southern Dawnforge Mountains serves as the lair of Cazakk "the Blessed", a red dragon.
- Dungeon of the Fire Opal: The ruins of a monastery stand on the northern slope of one of the Dawnforges. This was the home of the monks of the Enlightened Flame once, but after they were slain by marauding gnolls, the dungeon was left abandoned until recently. A small group of bandits led by Serlek Undertow currently occupy the dungeon's entry chambers now. Those bandits are members of Carthain's gang, a group of bandits that normally operates in Hammerfast.
- Dwarven Steads: There are many minor dwarven towns carved in the mountains of the Dawnforges. At least one of those steads was constructed above a subterranean evil temple that houses a portal to the Far Realm.
- Dwarven Fort Ruins: A ruined fort located at the foothills of the Dawnforge. It's usually a place where mooncalves attack. (MVTttNV, Mooncalves)
- Forgepeak: This massive peak towers over the surrounding mountains. Visible from across the entire vale, Forgepeak has never been scaled. The red dragon Calastryx slumbers within its lair hidden in Forgepeak. Thar, a dragonborn champion of Gruumsh, seeks to awaken and bind the dragon to the service of his god.
- Glimmer Peak: This small settlement is the center for mining in the area south of Hammerfast. Glimmer Peak sits along the shores of Glimmer Lake. Rumors persist that the palace of a fey lord long ago sunk beneath the lake. To this day, fishermen sometimes report vague images of a grand, ruined fortress deep within the water. The stories are true, and the ruins hide kuo-toas, undead eladrin, and fabulous treasures.
- Hammerfast: A dwarven hold cut from the rock of a deep vale in the Dawnforges. Hammerfast is the largest and wealthiest town in the Nentir Vale. The Trade Road runs through the citadel gates and continues eastward beyond the mountains. The dwarves have to share the town with a tribe of orcs, as part of a divine compact forged between the gods Moradin and Gruumsh.
- Hammer’s Deep: One of the main subterranean mining outposts of the dwarves of Hammerfast. Recently, rumors say the outpost has been deserted.
- Highpeak: A small fortress located in a northern mountain is the center of mining operations in the Dawnforge Mountains. The settlement is well stocked with supplies and heavily guarded. A number of mines work veins of gold in the area, although the threat of monsters always looms over the operations. In addition, lone prospectors willing to brave the wilderness scour the land for new finds. The miners eagerly hire adventurers to guard their caravans along the Iron Road or to defend their latest find. The proximity of Stravalla's Tower provides an ever-present threat, and more than one mining expedition has fallen to trolls or werewolves.
- Lake Dunmere: This body of water has a number of small fishing villages along its shores. A large manor house and village once stood beside Lake Dunmere, but both were destroyed by the Bloodspear orcs during their invasion. The ruins of the manor and village still stand, as do the cellars beneath them.
- Rushing River: Few travelers use the major waterway in the region, because many monsters lurk along its banks and the difficult terrain makes patrols impossible. Bandits are the only beings who risk traveling by river, since it allows them to escape with booty while avoiding guard patrols.
- Stravalla's Tower and Summerdown Valley: Just south of Mount Starris, a valley cuts a scar-like line through the Dawnforge Mountains. Despite the season, a forest forever thick and lush fills this valley. Travelers smell Summerdown Valley long before they see it, as the blooming flowers cast a perfume on the wind. Despite its appearance, the valley is a place of great danger. A powerful hag, Queen Stravalla of Winter's Mourning, dwells within this place. In her crystal tower, she surveys the verdant garden that is her realm. Trolls, werewolves, and murderous fey heed her beck and call, and within the ever-verdant forest shamble the animated corpses of those who dared enter her realm. Clad in rusted armor and covered with sickly sweet orchids that grow from their decaying flesh, these sentinels make quick work of those who blunder into Summerdown Valley.
The site of Fallcrest’s failed attempt to hold back the Bloodspear orcs ninety years ago, Gardbury Downs is said to be haunted by the spirits of the fallen defenders of the Nentir Vale. Remains of that ancient battle litter the Downs—broken swords, shattered armor, and old bones. Travelers on the King’s Road rarely see any sign of ghosts, but the folk of Winterhaven know better than to wander out on the Downs at night. Orcs from the Stonemarch also appear in the Gardbury Downs from time to time, circling the Cairngorm Peaks to raid into the Nentir Vale.
- Gardmore Abbey: This striking ruin is a large monastery that has lain in ruins for almost 150 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 lie beneath the ruins, which might still conceal the hoarded wealth of the old crusading paladins.
This area of fog-shrouded low hills serves as the principal headquarters of the Gray Company, loyalists of old Nerath that dedicate themselves to finding magic items and other treasures of the lost empire. Treasure hunters and explorers find the Gray Downs covered with burial mounds dating back to ancient times when primitive humans lived and hunted here. The hill clans are gone, but their spirits live on, guarded and shepherded by the undead creatures known—for good reason—as hounds of ill omen. The Phantom Brigade, an army of ghostly warriors of lost Nerath, can be encountered here in major numbers than in other regions of the Nentir Vale.
- The Gray Company headquarters: Located in the center of the foggy hinterlands of the Gray Downs.
- The Sword Barrow: This large burial mound stands near the middle of the Gray Downs. 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. The blades seen completely ordinary, not hinting at the old warding magic that surrounds the place. Explorers who approach the place might be accosted by the Barrowhaunts, a band of former adventurers who delved into the Sword Barrow and didn't come back alive.
This large woodland Forest—which the native elves call the Windsong Forest—in-stretches from the Nentir River to the mountains and extends for miles to the south. It separates the Nentir Vale from the more populous settlements of the south. In this expansive wooded area along the vale’s southern edge, any tree might conceal a threat—or danger could come from the tree itself, if it happens to be one of the treants that watch over the deep forest. Allied with the Harken treants is a group of zealot elf druids who call themselves Harken’s Heart.
Perhaps the most dangerous threat to the Forest is the red dragon Cazzak “the Blessed”, that had settled in the hills east of Harkenwold and believes all he can see from his lair to be his realm. He is trying to convert his “subjects” to the worship of Tiamat, by any means necessary.
- The Barony of Harkenwold: Half a dozen small villages lie along the upper vales of the White River. Among those settlements are Albridge, Dardun, Desul Torey, Duponde, Easthill, Harken Village, and Tor's Hold. 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 barony has drawn the attention of the Iron Circle, an army of mercenaries and followers of Asmodeus from Sarthel, in the south. The band's leader, Lord Vhennyk, sees Harkenwold as a vulnerable spot where he and his soldiers can gain a foothold for an eventual invasion of the entire vale.
- Gravelstokes' manor: The bleak stone mansion of the Gravelstoke family is located somewhere in the Barony.
- Riverslye Homestead: A small halfling commune located near Albridge.
- Blackleaf Village: Formerly a thriving village, this settlement was destroyed by a Cadaver Collector and now lies in ruins.
- Daggerburg: An ominous goblin keep somewhere deep in the western reaches of the Harken Forest, near the Witchlight Fens. The goblins sometimes raid the river-traffic moving along the Nentir, or send small parties of marauders to Harkenwold’s borders. They have a long-standing feud with the Woodsinger elves.
- Dal Nystiere: This eladrin settlement fell to ruin centuries ago, destroyed by some unknown threat, and is accessible only through magical portals. Strange witchlights and evil monsters are known to haunt the ruins. Hidden beneath a ring of standing stones on the outskirts of Dal Nystiere is a secret sanctuary used at one time by wizards as a place to conduct magical research. The sanctuary is now the domain of an undead mage named Yisam who has ill plans for the Nentir Vale.
- Druid Grove: To the northwest of Albridge stands a large grove of ancient trees, long sundered from the Harken Forest proper. A stone menhir stands in the clearing at the center of the grove.
- Harken’s Heart settlements: The elven druids of Harken’s Heart live in small camps or settlements sprinkled throughout the forest, and they rarely number more than a dozen members in a particular community.
- 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, but it was not finished—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.
- Malorunth, the Eternal Ash: At the center of Harken Forest lies the corpse of Malorunth the Eternal Ash, a powerful archfey who governed the forest in the ancient past.
- The Great Braided Tree: A tall, multi-leveled woven structure near the center of the Harken Forest, is part headquarters, part education center, and part residence for the largest Harken’s Heart population. It holds about two hundred elves, though this number sometimes swells to several hundred in times of great discussion or peril.
- Toadwallow Caverns: Located beneath a forested hill overlooking fetid marshland near the White River, those caverns are unpleasant and ill regarded. The Toadwallow are currently occupied by the Mud Hides, a tribe of bullywugs led by chieftain Gloorpk.
- Spiderhaunt Thicket: North of the King’s Road, the leafy boughs of Harken Forest grow thorny and dense. Within, the Spiderhaunt Thicket is overgrown and nigh impenetrable. Amid lie the ruins of ancient elven settlements, many swarming with arachnids or haunted by undead fey. It’s the temporary headquarters of the Hunter Spiders. This group of drow was stranded on the surface years ago when the tunnel back to their home city of Erelhei-Cinlu collapsed. They have a reason to believe that concealed in this area of the forest is another passage back to the Underdark. Until they find it, the drow guard their adopted territory against intruders.
- Woodsinger camps: The elves of the Woodsinger Clan live in small camps located the southeastern part of the Harken Forest. This nomadic tribe consists of a dozen bands, numbering near 200 in total. They occasionally trade with the humans of Harkenwold and keep an eye on travelers along the old King’s Road. They also oppose the goblins of Daggerburg. A few days ago, a Woodsinger tribe led a wise, cautious elf woman named Eriyel established a campsite near Harkenwold.
The largest body of water in the Nentir Vale, Lake Nen stretches for nearly fifty miles (80 km) across the southern edge of the Winterbole Forest. The frigid waters of Lake Nen hide a mystery. On certain nights, fishers out too late on the lake hear beautiful, ethereal music that fills them with longing. Some never return to their homes, others return forever changed, haunted by their experience. It is said that the boundaries between the World and the Feywild grow thin when the full moon’s light dances on the water, and the music of the faerie court of the Prince of Thorns filters out over the lake.
- Cold Camp: The shoreline of the northwestern end of the lake is part of the dominion of the Frost Witches, an eclectic group of magic-users who pay homage to the evil elemental prince Cryonax. Although small groups of Frost Witches might be encountered anywhere within the Winterbole Forest, the largest concentration resides here.
- 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.
- Rolaz-Gaar: An ancient Arkhosian ruin thought to lie near the shore of Lake Nen.
- 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. Currently, the town is infested by a horde of undead.
The fog that blankets Lake Wintermist is a year-round phenomenon, belying its name. The lake is inhospitable for most creatures, but those that thrive in frigid climes. White dragons frequently appear in the northwestern part of the lake, particularly in the dead of winter when they seek out mates. The lake provides ample supplies of fish for the Tigerclaw barbarians of the Winterbole Forest and a few homesteads along its southern shore. From time to time, someone passing through this area might come across a pair of angry trolls. The twin troll brothers Hurly and Burly both lair in caves not far from the lake—despite the fact that they can't stand each other. When they get into one of their family feuds, anyone who crosses their path could become a target of their rage.
- Mistwatch: Huddled against a hillside on a stony shore, Mistwatch has an exquisite view of Lake Wintermist’s cold water. A sleepy town, blessed with riches pulled from the unyielding stone in the nearby Cairngorm Peaks, grown rich from timber cut from the Winterbole Forest, and fed well on trout and salmon drawn from the clear, mist-covered water, has grown eerily quiet in recent months due to an undead curse. Mistwatch, totally covered in mist, is in the process of transforming into a domain of dread.
Arrayed to the south and east of Fallcrest, the Moon Hills are fairly tame. The countryside for scores of miles around is dotted with abandoned homesteads and manors from the days of Nerath, some of which were once the homes of well-off eladrin families. The surrounding ridges shelter several small valleys where farmers and woodsfolk live; few are more than six or seven miles from Fallcrest. The hills are steep and sharp, with jagged escarpments forming sprawling, hilly plateaus. Small groves dot the area, as do the occasional burial mound, watchtowers from ancient Saruun Khel, and other old ruins. This cluster of rugged terrain between the Nentir River and the King’s Road is not rife with monsters and other villainous types, thanks mainly to the proximity of Fallcrest and the vigilance of its town guard. But goblins and human bandits are fairly common beyond the town.
The people of Fallcrest tell stories about the Dark Drake of the Moon Hills, a sinister reptile that leads a pack of other evil drakes. The hills also occasionally play host to terrors that wander out of either the Witchlight Fens, the Harken Forest, or the Cloak Wood, including lizardfolk, giant spiders, drows from the Hunter Spiders in search of slaves, and other random monsters looking for new prey. Strange creatures drawn from the Feywild, the Shadowfell, and the Earth realms of the Elemental Chaos are also found here because the existed of some planar portals created by the inhabitants of Saruun Khel.
- Fallcrest: A hub for travel throughout the Nentir Vale, Fallcrest stands at the intersection of the Nentir River and the vale’s two major trade routes. The town guard does a capable job of protecting the populace from raiders that emerge from the surrounding wilderness, but the biggest threats to Fallcrest’s welfare might come from within the town itself.
- Aerin's Crossing: A group of farms to the south of Fallcrest that form the beginning of the town proper. (N)
- Aranda Hill: A hill north of Fallcrest, from were you are able to see the town. (N)
- Watcher’s Point: A watch fortification in the crossroads near Fallcrest. (UA)
- Wintermood: The farthest farm outside Fallcrest to the south, following the Nentir River. There is a custom in Fallcrest that in a reunion or some meeting is about to start, they will wait until the Wintermoods will arrive, because they live so far from town that any person willing to participate will have enough time to arrive at the meeting before them. (N)
- Ruins of the Horned Tower: Older ruins from Saruun Khel (UA)
- Dungeon of the Sleeping Titan: Older ruins from Saruun Khel (UA)
- Pits of the Fang: Older ruins from Saruun Khel (UA)
- The Laughing Path: A treacherous path amid the Moon Hills. (UA)
- The Twisting Halls: Ages ago, a group of minotaurs built a grand temple in a cave of a hill south of the land that will become Fallcrest one day, dedicated to four gods of good and law. In the deep recesses of the temple, the minotaurs guarded a dark secret: a hidden shrine to the demon prince Baphomet. The gods of good cursed the temple and its corrupt priests, and eventually it fell into disuse and ruin. Over time, monsters made their lairs in the shelter of its stone halls. The white dragon Farallax is currently the most powerful inhabitant of the halls.
The Ogrefist Hills:
Partially framing the western edge of the vale, these desolate hills are said to be accursed by an ancient evil. During Nerath's height, several minor lords tried in succession to establish manors in these hills, but none lasted more than a single year. Somewhere in these hills hides the mouth of a tunnel leading up from the Underdark. It is also believed that a remnant of the old Arkhosian Empire lies somewhere in the caverns beneath this area.
- Kiris Dahn/Gorizbadd: The town of Kiris Dahn, built by human hands, stood strong against invaders for decades after the fall of the empire of Nerath. It had magical stones—created by tiefling artisans—that could kill anyone who attacked the town. The number of stones dwindled until all were spent. Eight years ago, the citizens of Kiris Dahn abandoned the town when faced with invading goblin hordes. The goblins overran the town and renamed it Gorizbadd. The town quickly fell into ruin, since goblins were far more interested in vandalism than in proper maintenance. A faction of kobolds took over the slums, since the goblins live mostly in what were once residences for the wealthier people of Kiris Dahn.
- Temple of Yellow Skulls: This mysterious temple, nestled among the rugged hills, might be the most infamous location in the area. Legend tells that a rakshasa prince summoned demons to this ancient shrine 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. Deep caverns beneath the ruins lead all the way down to the Underdark, and from time to time dangerous monsters of the deep places emerge here and prowl the nearby lands. Unknown to most people, however, is the fact that the Temple of Yellow Skulls is a Temple of Elemental Evil built in the ancient past by the followers of the Elder Elemental Eye (Tharizdun).
The Old Hills:
The Old Hills bear their name because the ruins of the first human settlements in the Nentir Vale can be found here: ancient ring-forts built by the same hill-tribes that erected the barrows in the Gray Downs. The remains of these ancient forts appear across the entire length and breadth of the hills, from near Nenlast to Raven Roost and Fiveleague House, both of which were built atop old ruins.
Nowadays, the area is firmly in the grasp of the vicious Blackfang gnolls. Slavishly devoted to the demon god Yeenoghu, the gnolls emerge from their burrows in the hills to kill or waylay travelers. Other rumors concerning an even older series of ruins spring up from time to time. These tales, always told in whispers, speak of the ancient necropolis of Andok Sur. The place, if it exists at all, is said to be holy to the followers of Orcus.
The Trade Road crosses the area and is frequented by more than one gang of thieves. Merchants and pilgrims who manage to avoid the notice of the Raven Roost bandits still have to contend with the Wolf Runners, a widely feared band of humans and wolves that work together in an uncanny fashion along the length of the Trade Road.
- Andok Sur, the City of the Dead: Andok Sur was ancient when the empire of Bael Turath was merely a collection of loosely allied city-states. The place was established by the warrior tribes of the Eastern Valley, and dedicated to the demon prince Orcus. At the height of the city’s power, a great earthquake rocked the Old Hills. In an instant, the City of the Dead was shattered. It fell into the earth and was buried, to be forgotten by time and history. Currently, the vampire lich known as Emperor Magroth has opened it again, and undead have started to spill forth accompanied by a strange disease, the Abyssal Plague.
- Fiveleague House: Fiveleague House is more properly known as the Fiveleague Inn, a popular resting place for travelers heading to or from the vale's larger communities, located a day's journey (five leagues) farther east from Hammerfast. It's a strongly built innhouse surrounded by a wooden palisade. The proprietor is a big bearlike human named Barton. Barton makes a good show of joviality, but he's secretly allied with the bandits of Raven Roost and sends them word of travelers worth robbing who will be continuing west toward Fallcrest.
- Raven Roost: An old estate house known as Raven Roost Manor sits on a piece of prime land just north of the Harken Forest. The place is almost impossible for someone to approach without being seen—and that's just how the Raven Roost bandits like it. The manor has recently been taken over by a group of criminals and cutthroats under the leadership of a trio of shadar-kai. The bandits have a reputation for cruelty and mercilessness that extends far beyond the area in which they practice their grisly trade.
- Khel Vale: A small valley with sparse vegetation lies at Thunderspire’s base, and a few shepherds, woodcutters, and trappers live there. Their humble houses are made of turf and fieldstone and are fitted with stout doors to repel predators, including bears, wyverns, and griffons.
- Thunderspire Mountain: The tallest natural spire in the Nentir Vale, Thunderspire Mountain lies on the southern fringe of the Old Hills. Its top forever encased in a raging storm, Thunderspire is a majestic sight, even without considering what lies within its depths. Beneath Thunderspire lies the ancient minotaur city of Saruun Khel. The mysterious order of merchant wizards known as the Mages of Saruun control those caverns now.
- Tower of Thunder: Also known as the Tower of Sunset, this tower overlooks the Khel Vale, and it is from this tower that the shadar-kai witch Denoa sends her gargoyle minions to harass the valley’s occupants.
- The Minotaur Gate: The Vale Road at the feet of Thunderspire Mountain meets the Minotaur Gate about 4 miles from the Trade Road. This was the grand entrance to Saruun Khel. The road enters a 50-foot-tall stone archway hewn out of the mountainside. A towering minotaur statue stands on each side of the entrance, glowering down at travelers.
- The Road of Lanterns: Beyond the Minotaur Gate the Road of Lanterns slopes into the mountain and into the Seven-Pillared Hall. Green light from copper lanterns dimly illuminates the road, which leads about half a mile into the mountain, sloping steadily downward over several switchbacks. Seventy-seven demon statues stand watch along the corridor’s length.
- The Seven-Pillared Hall: The heart of Thunderspire’s upper level is the Seven-Pillared Hall. Dozens of lanterns hang from the walls and the thick pillars of this great chamber. In this grand plaza, the Mages of Saruun and their acolytes provide a place for natives of the Underdark to barter goods with surface-dwellers, as merchants passing along the Trade Road sometimes take shelter here.
- The Deep Stair: This passage descends sharply from the Seven-Pillared Hall into the lower levels of the Labyrinth. From here, explorers can reach the Houses of Silence, the Well of Demons, the Court of Bones, various cisterns, and passages leading off into the Underdark proper.
- The Road of Shadows: Leading eastward from the Seven-Pillared Hall, the Road of Shadows wends through rubble-filled halls and a confusing maze of passages and storerooms. The Road of Shadows skirts a massive chasm and eventually intersects a tunnel that leads to the mines of the Grimmerzhul duergar, 30 miles away. Passageways frequently branch off the road, including one that leads south to the Horned Hold.
- The Shining Road: This path leads north from the Seven-Pillared Hall into some of the more magnificent ruins of ancient Saruun Khel, including the Avenue of Glory. Like the Road of Shadows, this road leads through a maze of ruined chambers and passages in the Labyrinth. In the north part of Saruun Khel, it widens and leads 40 miles to the Silvershield Hold, home of the Silvershield dwarves.
- Avenue of Glory: The Avenue of Glory is 50 feet wide and 80 feet tall, running north and east for about a third of a mile. More than one hundred mighty statues depicting minotaur heroes, fearsome monsters, and great demons line the avenue. Some have fallen and lie broken on the ground or have been defaced and damaged, yet the Avenue of Glory remains an impressive sight. Most of the Seven-Pillared Hall’s residents avoid the avenue, for it is frequented by wandering monsters.
- Court of Bones: The tomb of a forgotten minotaur necromancer, which is said to be hidden in the cisterns. Adventurers who venture to the Court of Bones must first encounter Az’Al’Bani, a wight who leads four zombies through the Labyrinth and is also searching the court. Az’Al’Bani holds a silver key wrought to resemble a human thighbone that unlocks the tomb.
- Grimmerzhul: This duergar trading post is a sturdy building of gray stone carved into the cavern’s wall. Grimmerzhul duergar are part of the Underdark folk who trade with the Mages of Saruun.
- Hall of the Broken Dragon: A colossal statue of a dragon lies in fragments on the floor of this great hall. Kobolds, drakes, and gricks lurk in the passages nearby, and many of the kobolds look upon the broken statue as a religious relic.
- Houses of Silence: Crypts of minotaur nobles fill this multichambered area to the far west of the Seven-Pillared Hall. Many of these crypts are guarded by deadly traps, demonic summoning circles, and hateful undead.
- Palace of Zaamdul: Once the home of Saruun Khel’s ruling high priest, the palace suffered heavily during the city’s final war. Today, demons and undead creatures occupy its ruined walls. A few minotaurs also frequent the area, searching for ancestral treasures and relics of power that might help return them to their former glory.
- Silvershield Hold: An underground dwarven mining outpost. They trade gems and precious metals with the merchants of the Seven-Pillared Hall.
- The Chamber of Eyes: At the pinnacle of Saruun Khel’s greatness, the Chamber of Eyes was a shrine dedicated to the god Torog. The petitioners of Torog are long gone. A few months ago, the Bloodreavers, a goblinoid band of slavers and marauders, discovered the site and turned it into a defensible lair. Led by the hobgoblin Krand, the Bloodreavers now plot their next round of kidnapping and plunder.
- The Horned Hold: Formerly a defensive keep to guard the southeastern approaches to Saruun Khel, the Horned Hold now serves as a stronghold and slave pit for the Grimmerzhul duergar. It is built above a massive chasm that runs north to south at the limits of the ruins of Saruun Khel.
- The Well of Demons: A set of chambers sacred to the demon lord Baphomet, the Well of Demons was once a place for the warriors of Saruun Khel to prove their prowess. It’s now the lair of the Blackfang gnolls.
The Tower of Mysteries: The original purpose of this hidden tower in the lower reaches of the Labyrinth has been lost to the passage of time, though it’s believed this place was consecrated to Vecna by a culture that even predates the minotaur civilization. What matters now is that Paldemar, a renegade Mage of Saruun, discovered the place, mastered its secrets, and now uses it as a headquarters from which to launch his final plans to obtain ultimate power.
- Thunderspire Mountain: The tallest natural spire in the Nentir Vale, Thunderspire Mountain lies on the southern fringe of the Old Hills. Its top forever encased in a raging storm, Thunderspire is a majestic sight, even without considering what lies within its depths. Beneath Thunderspire lies the ancient minotaur city of Saruun Khel. The mysterious order of merchant wizards known as the Mages of Saruun control those caverns now.
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. Every century or so, Gruumsh's insatiable thirst for bloodshed and conquest calls the orcs of the Stonemarch from their deep holes and whips them into a frenzied mob. They swarm over the Cairngorm Peaks and into the Nentir Vale by the thousands, turning everything in their path to ash and ruin. The last assault came ninety years ago, and the ravaged earth has not yet fully healed. The people of the vale, ill prepared for another rampage, are desperate for new heroes to halt the impending invasion.
- The Axe Bite Pass: A mountain pass that separates the vale proper from the orc infested area of the Stonemarch. (DR396, p.42)
- The Fanged Jaws of Kulkoszar: A great orc-warren that lies in the northern part of the wasteland. Legend says that the first great chieftain of Clan Bloodspear singlehandedly slew the elder iron dragon Kulkoszar. The self-proclaimed King Bloodspear declared the dragon's lair to be the seat of his new empire, and he forged a throne there from the dragon's jaws. Over the years, Clan Bloodspear has extended the original cavern into an extensive warren furnished with forges, arenas, and slave pens. The current chieftain of Clan Bloodspear is Msuga, the Orc Queen, who rules over hundreds of the fierce warriors.