Liberating The Northmarch
Athelwood – This quaint logging village lies on the fringes of the Savernake Forest. It is known for its substantial Elven and Half-Elven population. Other than the logging operations, the Dragon Cult has largely ignored this area. Athelwood is renowned for its rangers, and the high quality of its inns and taverns which serve the plentiful game meats brought in every day by those rangers. The rangers are also kept busy by the occasional orc and hobgoblin attack.
Bloodthicket Moor – This massive patch of grassland is overrun with heather and coarse grasses and thickets. Centuries ago it was the site of the Allemani Kingdom, home to a race of men considered giants. With an average height of seven feet, the Allemani were a warlike barbarian race that continually warred with Kyria over that kingdom’s efforts to expand past Dun Mordain. Eventually, with the help of the newly-formed Magisterium, the Kyrians brought their formidable magical resources to bear and annihilated the Allemani in one final cataclysmic battle. After their victory the Kyrians found it impossible to settle the area, thanks to soil that would not grow Kyrian crops and repeated attacks from all sorts of beasts, magical and mundane. It is said that after the Allemani were wiped out their gods cursed the land, and that undead roam the moor when darkness falls. Legends also speak of three lost Allemani cities, supposedly filled with treasure. After the fall of the Kyrian Empire, tribes of Ogres and Trolls from the Invasion resettled in the Moor, further adding to the danger there.
Briar Hill – Briar Hill is the manufacturing center of the Northmarch. The mines in the Briar Hills to the north provide ample iron and coal to produce the finest steel outside of the Dwarves of Dun Mordain. The city is home to the best smiths in the land, and also serves as the main headquarters for the Wyrmthanes, the elite knights of the Dragon Cult. Briar Hill is highly fortified and ruled under the iron fist of Razanor Foxeye, Wyrmthane High Commander.
Caelariel – The scenic woods and grassy hills of Caelariel belies the strife that has befallen the town since the fall of Kyria. Open warfare between fanatical Dragon Cult members and freedom-loving Caelarielites is an everyday occurrence here. Skilled Daanan Sidhe archers slaughter Cultists by the dozens and then melt into the nearby woods when the Dragon Tyrant’s soldiers arrive in force. Caelariel is noted for its beautiful Elven architecture, which has suffered greatly since the fall of the Empire. This originally Elven city was the first of three peacefully handed over to the Kyrians by the Elves before the Elven Civil War.
Dun Mordain – Dun Mordain is the name of the massive Dwarven fortress-city in the Mordain Mountains that formed the original northern border of pre-Empire Kyria. The Treaty Of The Nine Hammers forged an alliance between the two peoples and ushered in the Age of Empire that saw Kyria conquer the Northmarch, thanks to the Dwarven tunnels through the Mordain Mountains. Kyrian armies also benefited from the best in Dwarven arms and armor. In return, the humans of Kyria provided magical items and devices and a king’s ransom in tribute and treasure. When Luxieul’s host descended upon the Northmarch, the Dragon Tyrant personally led the assault on the Dwarven stronghold, and few survivors were ever found. However, none of the documented treasure and magic that was known to be stored in Dun Mordain has seen the light of day. While the Dragon Cult has managed to take control of the vital Northmarch tunnels, expeditions to the depths of the doomed Dwarven complex have never returned.
Eliethiel – Eliethiel was the second of three Elven cities peacefully handed over to the Kyrians by the Elven Kingdom, and like its sister cities has a high number of Elven and half-Elven residents. Situated on the Elieth river, this sleepy fishing town is nominally under the control of the Dragon Cult, yet Cultists and their collaborators seem to suffer a much higher mortality rate than normal in this location. Repeated investigations by Wyrmthanes and other representatives of the Dragon Tyrant have turned up nothing.
The Fane River – The largest and longest river in the Northmarch, the Fane is composed of three separate rivers, The Kharkessa, the Tarafane, and the Gunnargath, that meet at Lindsfane, the old capital of the Northmarch. The river is wide and deep, with very few fordable areas. For all intents and purposes, the Fane River and the Roguewood serve as the eastern border of the Northmarch.
Greentide – Greentide is a small fishing village on north coast of Northmarch. Its 200 mostly human residents eke out a living on fishing boats, by raising what crops the rocky soil and cold wet weather will allow, or by selling peat fuel from the bogs of the nearby Greentide Marshes. The Dragon Cult maintains a token presence here, and has met little to no resistance. After the fall of Kyria, much of Greentide’s population fled north to the Elven island of Anhuin. Goblins and Kobolds have been known to ambush travelers and merchants nearby.
Greentide Marshes – These lowland marshes are rich with peat bogs and fenlands. In the centuries before and during Kyrian rule, pirates would anchor their ships near to the marsh and raid nearby merchant ships. Since the fall of the Empire however, there is very little shipping to prey upon and the pirates have disappeared, but tales persist of buried treasure to be found somewhere underneath the watery soil. Despite the tales of treasure, most locals give the Marshes a wide berth, thanks to other tales that warn of Lizard-Men and of a Black Dragon named Nerizzaxus.
Hearthfane – Hearthfane is a large, wealthy city on the Fane River in eastern Northmarch. Massive manor houses and estates surround Hearthfane, and the fertile lands in the area provide bountiful harvests of nearly every crop imaginable. Despite the fall of the Empire, Hearthfane continues to be a vital trade hub, and merchants from all over the continent can usually be found here, and the stocks of goods magical or mundane that can be secured here are second only to Kyre itself. Hearthfane is growing by leaps and bounds, partly due to the economic opportunities, and partly due to the relatively tolerant policies of its Dragon Cult Governor, Gorkoth Blackhammer. Worship of the fertility goddess Brigid, the longtime matron of Hearthfane, is tolerated as long as it is done covertly and with discretion.
The Howling Canyons – This network of crevasses, canyons and strange rock formations is the most rugged terrain in all of Northmarch, with the exception of the Mordain Mountains. The area is mostly inhospitable, with temperatures reaching well over 100 degrees in summer and well below freezing in the winter. Long dry spells followed by torrential downpours are the norm. The difficult terrain and multitude of hiding places make the Howling Canyons the home to many beings and beasts who wish not to be found. The Canyons get their name from the high-pitched sound of the windstorms that often descend on this broken land from the mountains. The wreckage of literally hundreds of Dwarven merchant boats litter the Murkbottom and Kharkessa Rivers that border the Canyons. The attackers and the whereabouts of the goods looted from these wrecks is unknown to this day.
Lainonniel – This city was the third and last Elven city to be handed over to the Kyrian Empire. It was here that the Elven Civil War was ignited when a group of dissident Elves declared themselves Daoine Sidhe (“Wild” Elves), took over the city and refused to hand it over to the Kyrian humans. In hopes of negotiating a peaceful settlement, Emperor Edrik VII and the Daanan Sidhe Grand Druid pulled back their forces in order to give the Wild Elves time to come to their senses. Instead, thousands of frustrated Elves joined with them, and soon after not only refused to hand over control of the city as previously agreed, they savagely attacked and sacked the nearby city of Caelariel, which had been yielded to Kyrian rule some three decades earlier. Seeing no other choice to avert a disastrous Human-Elf war, the Daanan Sidhe turned on their former brothers and together with the Kyrians drove the Wild Elves to the heart of the primeval forest now known as The Sidhe-Andur, or Elf-Fortress. Today the city is filled with monuments to the horrific war, and is considered a somber holy site for Elfkind. The Dragon Cult maintains a low-profile presence, and is more concerned with paying mercenaries to find and extract valuable Elven artifacts and lost Kyrian treasure from the many ruined towers, castles, strongholds and other remnants of the Elven Civil War in the area.
Lindsfane – The capital and largest city in the Northmarch, Lindsfane was swiftly infiltrated by the Dragon Cult shortly after Luxiuel’s conquest of Kyre. The Cult enjoys the backing of aristocrats and wealthy merchants who wish to maintain their elite station, and opposition is sparse and disorganized thanks to the efforts of Marchlord Zarthan Gilles, a once proud warrior who is now but a broken figurehead. Laws are plentiful, and punishment for breaking them horrific.
Murkbottom River – This placid, muddy river links the underground mines of Dun Mordain with the city of Lainonniel and empties into Murkdeep Lake. Subsistence fishing along the river is almost nonexistent, as inedible bottom-feeding carp predominate. Navigation along the southern reaches of the river in the Howling Canyons is extremely dangerous due to frequent attacks from unknown sources. Repeated expeditions heading upstream into the Dun Mordain mines have never returned.
Murkdeep Lake – This huge freshwater lake stretches some 160 miles from its longest shore-to-shore point. Barges laden with goods traverse the lake daily, though not nearly as many as there once was before the Empire’s fall. The Lake is renowned and feared for it’s violent storms that can form at a moment’s notice, and many barges have been claimed over the centuries. Sailor’s tales tell of an underwater city inhabited by Merfolk, but no substantial proof has been forthcoming.
Northfane – Northfane is a sprawling port city that has fallen on hard times. Corruption is by far the worst in the Northmarch, and the once vibrant city center is full of crumbling buildings. No less than five factions fight for control of the city, and violence is an everyday occurrence. What little law enforcement exists is easily bought off with coin. The one aspect of Northfane that is thriving however, is the black market. No matter how illegal, exotic, or hard to find an item or service is, chances are it can be bought (or sold) in Northfane.
Northold – The fortified town of Northold is the last city in the Northmarch that remains in private hands. Since the fall of the Empire, Baron Mikael Vonlayre has effectively shutoff his town from the outside world. No outsiders are welcomed and no one has left. The surviving members of the last detachment sent by the Dragon Cult to force Northold to accept a Cult presence was found wandering the countryside, utterly insane.
Portsgate – This port city on the Nordmark Sea is a Dragon Cult stronghold thanks to its governor, a former Kyrian army general who took over the city in the guise of establishing a haven for fighting against the Cult but then turned it over to them at the first opportunity. The city is filled with pirates and privateers that prey on shipping in the Northern seas with Dragon Cult sanction.
Ravensvale – Ravensvale is a growing village on the crossroads between Silverpool, Briar Hill, and Greentide. The village has a heavy Dragon Cult presence, and acts as a staging ground for Cultist activity in western Northmarch. The village is also notoriously racist against non-humans, especially elves.
The Roguewood – This huge forest stretches from eastern Northmarch into Merovia. Legends say that the Roguewood grew out of the blood of the slain dragon Braxuiel. The forest gets its name from folk tales that tell of the wood being deceptively open and easy to navigate until the traveler is too deep in the forest and becomes disoriented by the thick foliage. In addition, the Roguewood is renowned for all sorts of evil creatures, beasts and humanoids. Sages state that Luxuiel’s army with which he conquered Kyria was drawn from these creatures.
The Sidhe-Andur – The “Elf-Fortress”, as its known in the Elven tongue, is the home of the Daoine Sidhe, or the Wild Elves as they are known to humans. The Sidhe-Andur is a thick, overgrown, trackless primeval forest. The Daoine Sidhe are extremely xenophobic and will attack any outsiders who enter the forest on sight. The few beings that have been inside the Sidhe-Andur and lived to tell about it say that the forest itself aids the Wild Elves, and that a massive city is built high into the ancient trees.
Silverpool – This peaceful fishing town on Murkdeep Lake serves as a vital shipping point between east and west Northmarch. Ferries and barges sail daily on the lake, connecting to Lainonniel. The populace is known for their grim resilience in dealing with the Dragon Cult’s attempt to dominate the local government, and with the steady attacks from orc and hobgoblin tribes.
Timberhold – This large, independent fortified city serves as the defensive strongpoint on The Northmarch’s western border. Timberhold has largely escaped the death and destruction of the Dragon Tyrant’s attack and the fall of the Empire. The ruling council of the city wishes to keep it that way, and while not outright collaborating with the Dragon Cult, they do allow them free entry and pursue as neutral a policy towards them as possible. As one of the most secure places in the Northmarch, the city has been growing by leaps and bounds, as merchant traders, bankers, and other economic interests craving peace have flocked there. Timberhold is also renowned for the quality of its woodworking, stemming from the famed oak and cedar trees from the Wealden Wood.
Watchfane – Watchfane was a secure, massive fortified city on Northmarch’s eastern frontier. Crime was virtually unheard of due to the hundreds of soldiers and guards stationed here, and as a result Watchfane became the banking center of The Northmarch. However the once mighty fortress city is now a massive collection of ruins, reduced to rubble by the forces of the Dragon Tyrant Luxuiel. The carnage of the attack scarred and cursed the land, and hordes of undead roam the ruins. Now, scattered peasants attempt to scratch out a living in whatever safe areas they can find, and foolhardy adventurers contend with the undead in hopes of unearthing treasures from the cursed ruins.
Woodhaven – The logging village of Woodhaven is known for its substantial Elven population, and for being a waystop for travelers on the Nordmark Way. There are whispered rumors that the village is a base for those who resist the rule of the Dragon Cult, and that many wanted fugitives are being hidden in the nearby Quirion Wood. Repeated Cultist incursions into the Wood have turned up nothing however.