Geography and History
The Elsir Vale is a sparsely populated region stretching about 250 miles east-west, and 70 miles north-south. It is bordered on three sides by mountain ranges and on the fourth by a dry steppe. Two large forests and a river running the Vale’s length provide the necessary resources to support the settlements dotting the region.
Legends tell of an ancient dwarf kingdom that claimed the entire area and more over a thousand years ago. While the kingdom is gone, remnants of its infrastructure remain, including roads, bridges, and cisterns. The major route through Elsir Vale, the Dawn Way, is one of these roads. About 500 years ago, a human kingdom called Rhestilor united the settlements along the Dawn Way and grew to dominate the region. But the noble families who governed Rhestilor eventually spread themselves and their armies too thinly to protect the region and maintain control. Local lords became corrupt, and Rhestilor eventually collapsed under civil strife and monster incursion. The castles that symbolized its power were destroyed by invaders, their walls gradually dismantled by survivors scavenging building materials.
The remaining human settlements learned to get along without a king; no one since has attempted to reunite them. Though the individual towns became self-sufficient and able to stave off the occasional raid, the region’s growing prosperity made it an ever-more-tempting target for massive invasion.
Ten years ago, a charismatic dragonborn warlord named Azarr Kul and his followers swore allegiance to the evil god Tiamat and with her backing united hundreds of disparate goblinoid tribes living in the Wyrmsmoke Mountains. Kul convinced these tribes to abandon their own gods in favor of Tiamat and gathered them under the banner of the Red Hand. With this army, he could accomplish what no individual tribe could do: sweep across the Elsir Vale and claim its vast resources.
At its peak, the army numbered ten thousand strong, supported by a number of giants and dragons. It was more than strong enough to conquer the Vale and destroy every human settlement in its path. It would have done so, had it not been for a group of brave adventurers who sabotaged its operations and led the city of Brindol in self-defense. After routing the Red Hand, the group pursued Kul to his base of operations in the Wyrmsmoke Mountains and defeated him at a temple to Tiamat in the keep.
Though the war against the Hand left the Elsir Vale with many scars, the people rebuilt their homes and communities quickly. Some still watch the Vale’s borders with trepidation, while others point to the scale of the Red Hand’s defeat as evidence that only prosperity lies ahead – there simply aren’t enough hostiles left to field another credible threat to peace.