GAT Scales of War
A thinly populated human frontier, the Elsir Vale stretches almost 250 miles east to west and averages about 70 miles north to south. Several small mountain ranges and dense forests form the vale’s borders.
The 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 savannahs streching for mile after dusty mile. The forests that stretch across most of the vale’s northern reaches are stifling and swelteringly hot in the summertime, with not a breath of wind to relieve the oppressive heat.
The scattered human towns and villages of the area grew up along the Dawn Way, an important east-west trade route linking the heavily settled lands that lie northwest across the Endless Plains with the exotic kingdoms and goods of the coastal lands lying to the southeast. Much of the Dawn Way was built by an ancient dwarf-kingdom that spanned the Wyrmsmoke and Giantshield Mountains more than a thousand years ago. While the dwarves are long gone, their roads, bridges, and cisterns remain in use to this day. After the dwarf-realm passed, the presence of various monsters and raiders kept traffic along the Dawn Way light for many years; few caravans dared the long and dangerous trek. Few humans lived in the Elsir Vale during those years—only scattered settlements of druidic folk who left behind little more than grassy barrows and stone circles on the hilltops.
About five hundred years ago, the nearby city of Rhest came to control the vale and a large swath of land north of the Giantshields as well. Soldiers from Rhest secured the roads all the way to Dennovar and beyond, creating a safe passage for trade. More and more traders traveled the Dawn Way, and the kingdom of Rhestilor grew wealthy on the tariffs exacted from the passing merchants. Under the kingdom’s shield, the towns along the Dawn Way-Brindol, Talar, Terrelton, and the rest-grew up from tiny hamlets or lonely soldiers’ posts to flourishing human settlements.
The kingdom of Rhestilor eventually collapsed under civil strife, monstrous incursions, and magical blights. Almost two hundred years ago, the city of Rhest was burned by a savage horde out of the Wyrmsmoke Mountains. Although the warriors of Rhestilor killed many of the goblins and their kind, the city was abandoned and the already weakened kingdom was broken. The locks and canals surrounding Rhest fell into disrepair, and the Blackfens swallowed the ruined city.
In the years since the kingdom’s fall, the towns of Elsir Vale have come to look after themselves. Most of the local lords still held titles derived from the old kingdom of Rhestilor. Ten years prior to current events, the Vale was almost brought to the brink of destruction under a violent horde of goblins known as the Red Hand. It took the combined forces of the Vale, and some exceptional heroes, to drive back the hand, but at the cost of many lives.