Great Vale Overview
The Great Vale is an enormous expanse of temperate woodlands that lies to the east of the Imperial Heartlands, between the Copperpeak Mountains in the west and the Razor Peak Mountains in the east. At the northern point of the Vale, where the two mountain ranges meet, is the source of the great Dawn River.
The people of the Vale, known as Reulones were conquered by the Aerti Empire about three hundred years ago. Since that time, they have raised several unsuccessful rebellions, but have still settled into their status as a subject people. The culture of the Vale is a mix between that of the Empire and the local Reuli culture. The Aerti lords have built castles abbeys and towns and divided the Vale into fiefdoms for themselves, but the Reuli themselves remain in their small villages. They live off simple trades; trapping, hunting, mining, shepherding, logging and farming.
Reulones and Aerti are not the only inhabitants of the Vale. Orcs and goblins share the western mountains with dwarves and giants, all of them wary of red dragons who inhabit the highest peaks. In the forests, green dragons share the trees with wood elves, trolls, goblins, werewolves and fey. The Razor Peaks are home to hobgoblins, orcs and the ogre clans of the Bouldertooth Empire. These creatures occasionally venture out of their home terrains and into the fields and villages of the Vale. When this happens, the Reulones and Aerti ride to war as their ancestors have for millenia.
Society among the Reulones is divided into clans of their own. Prior to the coming of the Aerti, the clans ruled the Vale themselves, fighting each for control. Ancient bloodfeuds still run rampant through the former chieftans and warriors, but the empire has managed to suppress open warfare. Most powerful of these clans is the Orevenni Clan, which rules vast tracts of land in the eastern Vale. In the various wars against the Empire’s influence, the Orevenni have been the primary instigators.
A belt of hills running east to west cuts the Vale in half, intersecting with the Dawn River as it runs north to south. Just south of this intersection, on an island at meeting of the Dawn River and the Rookwater, is Valten Castle, the main Imperial military presence in the Vale. The castle has a garrison of over a thousand men, with representatives from the Knights Venator and other military orders from the Imperial Heartlands.
The southern half of the Vale is the more settled part by far. More than eight in ten inhabitants live south of the Kamos Belt. The chief settlement here is the city of Port Gerden, home to over twenty thousand people, and Iciren, a trading hub of approximately eighteen thousand people. Further west, in the shadow of the Copperpeaks, is Highforge, the gateway to the Empire and beyond. On the opposite side of the Vale is Paemar, the capital of the Orreveni Clan’s holdings.
Most of the Empire’s holdings lie in a crescent shaped region that runs from Highforge and the Rookwater east to Valten Castle and then south along the Dawn River to Port Gerden. The Orreveni Clan has a semi-autonomous fief in the east that is centered on Paemar and runs north to the Woods of Elin. North of the Kamos Belt, the land is mostly wild and unsettled, though pockets of civilization exist around Pallon, Silvercrest and Skullcrag. These wide stretches of frontier are inhabited by wood elves, orcs, Reuli trappers and hunters and a few brave farmers.
All along the two main rivers of this region are farmsteads and small villages. Throughout the countryside, the Imperial elite live in castles and abbeys, fortified against the constant bandit or orc raids. Generally speaking, territories under Imperial domination are more industrious, with mines, logging camps and workshops accounting for more of the economy. Cities are larger and more numerous than in Orreveni lands or the frontier lands of the northern Vale. The largest settlement is Port Gerden, at the mouth of the Dawn River. Further upriver is the major trading hub of Iciren, the de facto capital of the Vale.
The lands are guarded by a series of stone and wood hill forts that watch over vast stretches of farmland and grazing pastures. The Orreveni chieftans and their housecarls live in the forts, riding out to fend off orc or ogre raids and occasionally rebel against their Imperial overlords. There is only one major city here, the city of Paemar. Here, the Orreveni craftsmen sell their wares and buy raw timber and stone from the miners and woodcutters who come in from the east and the north.
Port Gerden- 20,800