Elsir Vale

A thinly populated human frontier surrounded by wilderlands.



In ages past this area was once a small part of a vast dwarf realm. While the dwarves are long gone, their bridges, cisterns and roads (including the Dawn Way) are still in use today. Tribal humans (Shentulka) moved into the area from the north and they were followed by others that began to build the first permanent structures since the dwarves.

Over time the city of Rhest grew into a wealthy kingdom that secured the roads all the way to Dennovar, creating a region ready for trade. Merchants began to trade with the civilisations south and east of Elsir Vale and it was something of a central safe haven and crossroads.

Almost 200 years ago the Kingdom of Rhestilor collapsed under civil strife, monstrous incursions and magical blights.

In the years since the kingdom's fall, most of the tribal humans returned to the north and the others left behind have come to look after themselves. Most of the local lords, such as Jarmaath of Brindol, 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.



Elsir Vale lies in the subtropical latitudes. Summers are hot and dry (although punctuated by the occasional intense thunderstorm), and winters are warm and rainy. Large stretches of the area are quite arid, and the vale is flanked by vast savannas stretching for mile after dusty mile. The forests of the vale's northern boundaries are stifling and swelteringly hot in the summertime, with not a breath of wind to relieve the oppressive heat.


Lake Rhestin's eastern shore is hard to define, because the lake gradually gives way to this vast wetland of reeds. Wet, grassy flats are home to many waterfowl and larger, isolated hummocks covered in dense brush and forest are where the wild elves known as the Tiri Kitor make their homes. Lizardfolk are known to dwell throughout the Blackfens.

Brindol (small city)

One of the largest settlements in the vale, Brindol is a prosperous farming community and caravan stopover located along the Dawn Way on the south bank of the Elsir River. Orchards of apple and pear trees follow the river's winding shores, while broad grain fields and farmlands surround the town for miles in all directions. Brindol is the home of Lord Kerden Jarmaath, and his small keep and the city walls are the only fortification of note this side of Dennovar.


(Map by Arne Haschen - ArtStation)


(Caves of Chaos art by Michael Komarck, 3E D&D Player's Handbook 2, Wizards of the Coast)

Caves of Chaos (valley)

This large ravine is riddled with caves(really mines)tunneled by the endless humaoid tribes that have been drawn to the valley throughout the ages. Legend says part of Gruumsh's eye fell to ground here when Corellan struck it out during the Dawn War. Many sages think it is instead the home of a Spirit Stone for the verdant Westdeep. In any case the ravine has been occupied by all types of humanoids and they often remain a constant threat when the raid the caravans travelling to the West.

Dauth (hamlet)

A sleepy little hamlet, home to about 200 people, between the Hammerfist Holds and Brindol.
Dennovar (small city): A trade city located on the shores of Lake Ern and the eastern gateway to the vale. It is the largest city in the vale and ruled by Lady Yisel Bristier, but the Merchant Council has the biggest say. The city is also noteworthy for its many temples.

Drellins Ferry (small town)

The western gateway to the Vale where a dwarf bridge once stood, but is now replaced by a large, horse-drawn ferry.


A splitting of the Dawn Way that climbs through the Wyrmsmoke Mountains. Very rarely used due to large numbers of goblinoids in the mountains.

Elsir River

A broad but slow-moving river that cuts through the Vale. It is fed by several tributaries and averages 200-400 yards width. It can be forded at Elsricross, a wooden bridge spans it at Brindol and there are ferries at Talar and Drellin's Ferry. typically the river is known to be deep and its depths cannot be seen in the fast-flowing green water. Great eddies swirl in larger parts of the river and small islands often form only to disappear a week later.

Elsircross (small town)

This town, located at a ford over the Elsir River, is known for woodcutting and papermaking. The self-styled (and none-too popular) 'Baron' Hargil Trask and his clan governs here.

Giantshield Mountains

Sheltering Elisir Vale from the harsh weather of the Endless Plains, the Giantshields are a low range of arid, well-weathered peaks. The northern slopes are barren, dry, and rocky; home to a variety of monsters. The southern slopes are a little more hospitable, covered in light pine forest and cut by the gorges of many small seasonal streams.

Hammerfist Holds (many small dwarf holds)

In the foothills of the Wyvernwatch Mountains this community of dwarves eeks out a living mining iron and silver. They are rather insular but sometimes trade with the humans of the Vale, though halflings are more welcome.

Hillwatch** (hamlet)

Primarily populated by shepherds and cattleherds, few visit this dusty flyspeck in the northern Brown Hills.

Keep on the Borderlands (ruins)

An old Nerathi keep/outpost located several days west of Drellins Ferry. This used to mark the western boundaries of the old Nerath Province of Rhest, but is now a ruin and serves as a stop over for caravans heading to the West (when not occupied by local humanoids).

Lake Rhestin

This shallow, marshy lake stretches almost 100 miles from north to south. Once its shores were dotted with the villages and manors of Rhestilor, but they now lie sunken and abandoned (except for the many lizardfolk that have taken up residence in them).

Marth Forest

Climbing the southern foothills of the Giantshield Mountains, Marth Forest is a rugged, wild woodland rarely trodden by human feet except in its southwestern fringes.

Marthton (small town)

Located in the shadow of the Marth Forest, this town thrives on woodcutting and catering to travelers on the Dawn Way.

Nimon Gap (hamlet)

This tiny settlement grew up around a large walled inn known as The Cross-eyed Beholder. The town has several orchards and goatherds keep their livestock in the nearby heights of the Nimon Hills.

Prosser (village)

A quiet little place most noted as being the home to the retired adventuring band The Six Blades.

Red Rock (small town)

Rich copper veins in the high foothills of the Giantshield Mountains gave rise to the rough-and-tumble mining town of Red Rock.


Once a prosperous city and center of the kingdom of Rhestilor, Rhest is now a half-drowned ruin, slowly sinking into the Blackfens.

Talar (small town)

Governed by Lady Celiira Nestern noted for her high-spirited approach to life and leadership.

Terrelton (small town)

A dusty town in the western part of the vale that gets by on livestock and leather trades.

Wiseman's Run (trail)

A name given to the trail to The West, that passes between the Wyrmsmoke Mountains and the Thornwaste, following the Elsir River out of the Vale. It was named this because it has come to be known as the safer, but rougher, route due to the large amounts of goblinoid raiders along the Dwarfroad. The Elsir River protects caravans from the goblin raiders, but orc bandits from the Thornwastes sometimes cause problems - though most merchants have learnt to bring something to trade with the orcs.

Witchcross (large village)

Located at the ford of the Witchstream, this settlement is governed by a council of elders (as several of the tribal folk settled here). They maintain close relations with the local druid circle.




Humans make up the majority of the population of the Vale. Most are pale-skinned with light eyes (blue, grey, brown and hazel) and light hair. Many, however show signs of the tribal Shentulka that once settled here (or remain in scattered tribes in the surrounding wilderness). The tribal folk have coppery skin tones, tall builds with straight, dark hair and dark eyes.

Dwarves live in numbers in the Giantshield and Wyvernwatch mountains where they work as miners and smiths. They trade with and travel regularly amongst the human settlements of Elsir. Many live in the larger towns and are mostly integrated into life in the Vale.

Elves dwell in the wilds of the Witchwood, the Blackfens and the Thornwaste. They consider themselves autonomous to the boundaries of the Vale's small realms but are not hostile to its people. The elves in this region are often referred to as 'wild elves' as they live solely off the land in much the same manner as the Shentulka that were once common throughout the area. As they have little contact with the humans of the Vale, half-elves are rare, but possible. The Shentulka are the most likely humans to mix with elves.

Halfling families pay tariffs to ply their trade upon the rivers of the Vale and beyond. The people of the Vale tolerate the halflings' mischievous ways for the entertainment and foreign goods they bring to the towns.

Once inhabitants of the wilds of the northeastern vale, nezumi (ratlings) have now become part of human society in the settlements around the Marth Forest where they once made their home. No one is sure why they left en-masse, around 100 years ago, but they have since found a niche in society, often performing menial tasks or serving as shepherds, scouts and hunters. The ratlings have mostly forgotten their old way of life and only a few tribal elders cling to the past. Most modern ratlings have fully assimilated.

Lizardfolk dwell in isolated pockets, and in numbers in the Blackfens. In most cases, arrangements have been made between the tribes and local authorities to keep the peace. In some places lizardfolk and the people of the Vale openly trade and offer each other assistance.

The most common enemies to the civilised people of the Vale are by far, the goblinoid races (goblins, hobgoblins and bugbears). Isolated tribes exist in most wilderness areas, even small woods close to towns. They are often the local bandits of an area. The Wyrmsmoke Mountains are however, the traditional homeland of these people, and given the lack of traffic on the western roads and numerous reports from the people of the west end of the Vale, the goblinoid numbers are again on the rise in these mountains. They have united in a grand army before and marched out of the Wyrmsmokes and fears are they are joining together to do so again.

Isolated tribes/clans of ogres and giants also cause havoc from time to time around the vale, but these people are generally too small in number and refrain from drawing attention to themselves. They are not above raiding isolated camps and livestock however, and most humans would celebrate the destruction of an ogre or giant clan.






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