• Locations in ANGLAMAR and the WEST •

THE NORTH

THE NORTHERN MARCHES
The land north of the Winterborne River is a rugged country of mountains, thick pine forests and wild icey rivers. Winters are long and harsh, with deep snow in the highland valleys well into Spring. The Marches are sparsely inhabited by tough frontier folk who hunt for furs, cut timber, mine ores, and raise some cattle and a breed of tough mountain horses. They are an independent sort who survive by their own skill against the weather and the perils of wild beasts, orcs and other monsters from the North.
     Winters are long in the Marches, with snow and freezing temperatures beginning in late Autumn and lasting well into Spring. Travel and trade stops during the cold months and the people hold up in their lodges, surviving on the supplies they have stored away. There are no roads through this land, only deep forest trails. The Winterborne River, frozen in Winter, is used during Summer to ship people and goods by boat. Everywhere, folk go about armed with bow, sword and axe and, with the possible exception of the Eastmark, there are more expert archers and woodsmen in the North than anywhere else in Anglamar.


The Baron of Northinghall has authority over the Marches, but his power reaches barely beyond the gates of the town - or as far as his men-at-arms can ride in a day. Running the barony is a difficult job at best, and there have been several nobles to hold the title over the last century, none of them related. The King wishes a strong and stable frontier to protect Anglamar from northern threats and he has little patience for incompetence. Settlement is encouraged and lands have been offered to lesser nobles, though none have taken up the offer. The Crown is also concerned about incursion by the Nordlanders. Already, there is a Nordlander settlement on the coast at Thunder Bay. The Baron of the North is expected to employ enough men-at-arms to secure the frontier, encourage trade and expand settlement - all the while maintaining the peace among the common folk. A wise and even-handed Baron can count on the help of the Northern Rangers in this effort. An unwise and heavy-handed lord can expect just the opposite.

Concerning the Elves in the North : There has long been an elven presence in the Marches, predominantly wandering Grey Elves who have made common cause with the frontier folk. They have been instrumental in the defense of the frontier for many years, helped establish the Northern Rangers and remain a significant minority among them. In all of Anglamar, the Elder Race is most revered by humans in the North, and individuals, such as Lord Alandar of Ealdas, are considered personages of influence. It has even been proposed that the elves be granted territory north of the Winterborne to hold as there own. As of yet, they have shown no interest in establishing a homeland there.

There has been no Baron at Northinghall for nearly two years, and it is rumored that King Thelgar's patience in the matter is waning. It is commonly known in some circles that His Majesty has a personal interest in the state of affairs in the Northern Marches. He has the authority to command a noble of Anglamar to take over the barony or to elevate a landless knight to the peerage in order to do so. It is believed that he is close to making that decision.

In Spring, 1490, Sir Alden of Aragond has been appointed Lord Warder of the North and will be sent to see to security, pending the award of the barony to another noble. The Sheriff has been instructed by the His Majesty King Thelgar to disciplne the militia and establish good relations with the locals, in particular the independent folk at Highsaddle and the Northern Rangers, and to assure them that the Marches have not been forgotten.

NORTHINGHALL
The largest settlement in the Northern Marches is a grim, rough stone keep surrounded by a town of timber lodges and a palisade. The place is frigid in Winter, damp and muddy in Summer, with little of the comforts of civilization. There are three stone buildings in Northinghall – the Baron’s Keep, the Gate Tower and the smithy of Ulf the Blacksmith. All else is constructed of wood. Thick pine forests surround the town, and the Icewall Mountains loom above it to the north. From Northinghall, a forest road runs south to the crossing of the Winterborne where wooden docks serve the boats that carry traffic across the river. The huntsmen, miners and timberers of the North come to Northinghall in Spring and Autumn to trade with merchants from the south, and many of the northern folk spend the Winter there, returning to their camps and lodges in the mountains when the snows thaw.


Northinghall has sleeping lodges, a smithy, stables and carpentry shops for the repair of wagons. The tavern known as The Sleeping Bear’s Cavern, run by the bear-like Roland Longarm, is a two-story log hall that boasts the strongest ale and mead in the North. It’s ever-blazing fires, roast elk and venison, and thick brown bread make it the place to take one's rest in Nordinghall.
     The stone-built smithy of Ulf the blacksmith is notable for one of it’s employees - a scarred and docile mountain troll who works the bellows. The monster is accepted by the residents for his usefulness in defense of the town.

When orcs attacked and battered down Northinghall’s gate three winters ago, it was Ulf’s troll that stood in the breach, wielding an iron maul with devastating effect. A previous Baron was disturbed by the troll’s presence in town and ordered the blacksmith to send it away. Ulf is said to have replied that His Lordship was free to ask the thing to leave if he wished. The troll remains.

HAMMERFALL
The timber-walled town west of Iron Vale is the place where merchants gather to load their wagons with mountain ore. Of course, businesses have sprung up here to serve the iron trade - wheelwrights, carpenters and smiths for wagon repair, animal traders to provide oxen and horses. Above the town is Riven Falls, where the Stoneborne River falls from the mountain rim of Iron Vale. Two narrow trails wind up the cliffs requiring loads of iron be brought down by mule train.
     Hammerfall thrives during the Summer, but is nearly abandoned in Winter until the merchants return. Needless to say, the iron trade is an important source of wealth for the Baron of Northinghall and his soldiers guard the town and keep a close watch on the trail leading to it (when there is a Baron).

HIGHSADDLE
This highland town stands beside the Snowborne River, surrounded by mountains and thick pine forest. It is a cluster of timber halls and houses walled by a stout log palisade. The inhabitants are tough and independent, having to deal with the worst of the northern winters and frequent raids by orcs and other monsters. They hunt, cut timber and mine some gold and silver from the mountain slopes. They also raise tough, gray-colored horses in the high meadows, and this is the breed prefered by mountain travelers and the Northern Rangers in particular.


Though subject to the authority of Northinghall, there is no love lost between the folk of Highsaddle and which ever Baron rules there. One reason is that the town is the defacto headquarters of the Northern Rangers who have had run-ins with the Baron’s soldiers in the past. Another may be that the people are proud loyalists of the King while thumbing their noses at the lesser nobility every chance they get. The people of Highsaddle are friendly enough. But, it is well known that there are three mistakes a visitor can make to ensure a short and unpleasant stay - horse-thieving, speaking ill of the Royal Family, and open prejudice toward the Elven race.
     Harper Olwain and Faranor Half-elven are master breeders of Northern grays, both Rangers themselves though Harper long ago retired from adventuring. Olwain Hall stands outside Highsaddle, a two-story timber lodge, bunkhouse and large winterbarn, all stoutly built to withstand the weather and orc attacks. Harper’s wife, fiery-haired Maera, was a member of the adventuring Company of the Green Gryphon, years ago, and she is the unofficial mayoress of Highsaddle ... Other personages of note include one-armed Hort and his douty wife Magda who run the town’s only drinking hall, The Lodge. The Elf-lord Alandar, one of the founders of the Northern Rangers, is an infrequent visitor, as are Sparrowhawk, the famed dwarven hero Brund Stonereaver and Thars Bloodaxe from Thunder bay.

RUNESTONE PASS
This narrow cut through the Icewall Mountains is walled by cliffs and towering peaks and snow-blocked most of the year. It is orcish territory and rarely traveled by men. Ancient, abandoned Dwarf holds stand against the cliffs, now inhabited by orcs and other fell creatures.


During the North War, 50 years ago, a band of adventurers led by the famed swordsman Derek of Westhaven and including the elf-lord Alandar, the mage Balaster and the dwarven brothers Brund and Brom Stonereaver, trekked through the Pass to attack the Wizard-King in his Citadel of Black Ice. Their quest was long and arduous, filled with hardships and battles - the stuff of legends. In the end they were instrumental in defeating the Wizard-King. Today, Runestone Pass is watched by the Northern Rangers, wary of any sign of incursion from the Far North.

THUNDER BAY
This Nordlander settlement on the eastern shore of the Ice Reach was established only a few years ago by folk from Dragonsgard and Haramir's Hold. In Summer, there are perhaps 20 families and twice as many warriors living at the steading, which has a log wall and a single large hall at its center. They cut timber from the mountain slopes to be shipped to Dragonsgard for building and ship construction, hunt wild game for furs and meat. In Winter, many return home, leaving the hold nearly abandoned.


Thunder Bay is the first permanent Nordlander settlement on the mainland, and King Thelring of Anglamar was concerned that further expansion would follow. His successor, Thelgar III, has taken a wait and see attitude. Anglamar has been at peace for many years and His Majesty is unwilling to risk war with Nordland over territory that is largely uninhabited ... The truth is that the King is among those who see the Nordlanders as natural allies - estranged cousins, as it were. The Baron of Beregond is said to be on good terms with the folk of Thunder Bay and dragonships regularly make port to trade (a relatively new endeavor for them). There also seems to be some kind of informal alliance between Thunder Bay and the Northern Rangers at Highsaddle. Thar's Blood-axe, one of the leaders at Thunder Bay, is known to have been an adventuring companion of Prince Thelgar, Sparrowhawk, Brund Stonereaver and Maera of Highsaddle years ago.


IRONGATE
This massive stone fortress straddles the mountains in the eastern Icewalls. It is the home of the Dwarves in the North, ruled by old King Horgrim Highhammer for as long as Men can remember. Beneath Irongate is a great subterranean city, vast mines, forges and foundries. Humans are not welcome in Irongate, though merchants come to Iron Vale in Summer to trade. The Dwarves are the masters of metal-forging, stoneworking and mining, and it is said that the treasure hoard of Irongate rivals the riches of any human kingdom in Mythandar.


The Dwarves of Irongate hold the passes against monsters from the Far North, and they constantly war with the orcs of the Icewall Mountains. They aided Anglamar in the North War against the Wizard-King, when his hordes marched south 50 years ago. The pact between Anglamar and Irongate promises that if ever the Wizard-King should threaten the south again, the Dwarves will open their fortress and march to battle.
     Dwarves have always lived in the North. They built Irongate, Stonegaard and other fortresses long before the coming of men to the West. Men first clashed with the Dwarves in the mountains, but soon learned to avoid the short fierce warriors with their weapons and armor of hardened iron. Though contact afterward was rare, legends say that it was from the Dwarves that humans learned the skill of iron-forging (and this may be true since the people of the Inner Sea were still using bronze when they first encountered the barbarians of the North). As humans settled down, the Dwarves began to trade with them and the two races fought together against orcs and other threats. By the time of the founding of Anglamar, Dwarves and Men were allies.
     The Dwarves in the North have lost Stonegaard and other smaller holds, and their numbers have been declining for centuries. They are still fierce and proud, protective of king and clan and jealous of their secrets. Horgrim is hailed as King of all the Dwarves of Mythandar, even those who survived the fall of Stonegaard and wandered into the East.
     The Dwarves worship Kor the Founder, Lord of Earth, Stone and Fire. He is described as a giant dwarf (if one can imagine it) with wild red hair and beard and blazing eyes, wearing burnished scale and chain armor, iron guantlets, and wielding a massive enchanted hammer, Earthshaper. Legend says that Kor aided Valkan Stormlord in the war against the giants (actually, the Dwarves claim that Valkan aided Kor) and that the dwarf-god made Valkan’s spear Thunderheart.

IRON VALE
A high, barren valley in the eastern Icewall Mountains. Snowbound in Winter, the Vale is the sight of many old worked out dwarven mines. Many battles have been fought here between dwarves and orcs over the centuries and bones, ancient weapons and armor lie scattered across the frozen ground. In Summer, iron merchants from Anglamar come to the town of Hammerfall and hike the cliff trails up to Iron Vale to trade for dwarven iron.

STONEGAARD
Centuries ago, this mountain fortress was a thriving dwarf hold, ruled by the ancient Forgefire clan. Despite constant warfare with orcs, the Dwarves of Stonegaard increased in numbers and wealth as they traded with their cousins in Irongate and neighboring human tribes. Then, after many centuries, the orcs of the Dragonspine Mountains burst out of their caverns in uncounted numbers, driven out by some ancient and nameless evil from deep under the earth. They overwhelmed the Dwarves’ defenses and took the city, slaughtering nearly all the inhabitants. The few survivors scattered into the mountains, some finding refuge in Irongate while others wandered elsewhere. All of Clan Forgefire were killed.
     Now, Stonegaard is ruled by King Hurrk of the Black Tusk orcs and, though there is constant warfare with other orc tribes, their numbers are growing. There are fears that soon they will boil out of the mountains in numbers that have not been seen for centuries, threatening Anglamar's eastern frontier as well as the elven realm in Wildewood.



CITADEL OF BLACK ICE
North of Winter Gap stands a monstrous black fortress, half-buried in a great glacier. Once the stronghold of the Wizard-King, it is now his prison, frozen in time and sealed by powerful spells. The land around it is a gloomy, icy wasteland, littered with frozen corpses and the debris of battle, and shattered by great crevices radiating out from a blackened pit south of the ice. Arctic winds blow constantly across the barrens and the cracking and groaning of glaciers echo mournfully in the frigid air. Occasionally can be heard a loud, low thundering, like stone on iron, rolling across the ice. That is the sound of the frost giant Krol hammering on the massive gates of the Citadel with frozen fists as he seeks to free his master.


The Citadel was sealed a hundred years ago at the end of the North War by the combined efforts of the mages of Anglamar. It is said that, eventually, Krol will batter his way through and on that day (if the Wizard-King still lives) he will be free to resume his war against Anglamar. This may be true, since it is not known if the tyrant was slain. According to Alandar and Brund Stone-reaver (the only survivors of the Company of the Sword) the Wizard-King was buried in his throne room’s collapse. However, his power was so great that he may have survived. Anglamar keeps watch on Winter Gap from Kragmoor Keep and the Dwarves of Irongate stand ready to go to war if the Wizard-King should ever reappear.