Locations and Settlements
Amphail lies on the Long Road, about three days’ ride north of Waterdeep. The town is named after Amphail the Just, one of Waterdeep’s early warlords, who is said to haunt the surrounding hills in spirit form, frightening away monsters. Horses are bred and trained here, rich Waterdhavians maintain secluded estates in the hills, and farmland is plentiful. Stands of dark duskwood and spruce trees are everywhere.
In one corner ofthe town square stands the Great Shalarn, a black stone statue of a famous war stallion bred in Amphail long ago. Gelded by a prankster, the rearing horse is often painted bright colors by highspirited locals. Children are allowed to hurl stones at birds perched on the statue, to keep it free of droppings. The children often climb it themselves and cling precariously to the high, tilted saddle, waving their arms and commanding imaginary armies into battle. Within spitting distance ofthe statue is the Stag-Horned Flagon, a cozy tavern.
Once a hilltop wayside inn, this site has become a walled community of ramshackle, often-rebuilt wooden towers and buildings now entirely cloaking a hill that overlooks the village of Womford across the river.
Bargewright Inn reeks of manure and filthy mud. It houses blacksmiths, dealers who buy and sell horses, mules, and oxen, wheelwrights, coopers, and wagonmakers. It has inns, stables, and warehouses, and two concentric rings of high protective walls with gates that are firmly closed and barred by night. (Individuals can pay stiff fees to be raised and lowered after sunset on rope-slung chairs, but nothing beyond what they can carry can pass.)
Bargewright Inn fell under Zhentarim influence a few years ago. Any member or ally of that faction can find a discreet welcome (and few or low fees) within its walls. The Zhentarim spy on everyone, even each other (or as one merchant put it, “especially each other”). Bargewright Inn is ruled by a plutocracy of business owners, most of whom are in the pockets of the Zhentarim. The unofficial leader is Chalaska Muruin (female Damaran human), the terse, cold-eyed “Senior Sword” and master of the gate guards.
The largest inn, The Old Bargewright, was recently rebuilt as a substantial stone structure with thick walls, secret passages, and private chambers separated from nearby rooms by sealed-off passages. Innkeeper Nalaskur Thaelond (male half-elf) keeps careful watch over who comes and goes from his inn; it’s where Zhentarim meet to broker deals in commerce illicit in Waterdeep, such as smuggled goods, poisons, and certain magic.
One ofthe more pleasant-looking villages in the Dessarin Valley thanks to its many trees, Beliard is a market-moot for local cattle drovers. It surrounds the intersection of the Dessarin Road with the Stone Trail.
Beliard is home to many cattle ranchers whose herds roam the hills around it, particularly to the east. The village offers a public well, as well as a pond where harnessed horses or oxen can be driven through the water to bathe them, drive off flies, and let them drink.
It’s also home to a tanner, a smith, some horse dealers and trainers who keep extensive stables, and an inn: the venerable, popular, and several-times-expanded Watchful Knight. The inn was originally named for an inoperative helmed horror that stood in the common
room, but the creature mysteriously vanished years ago. The innkeeper went missing shortly thereafter.
In recent years, bodyguards and mercenaries formerly active in Waterdeep and along the Heartlands trade routes retired to Beliard, and their presence makes nearby brigands reluctant to raid the village directly. Because so many big-city folk settled here, rumors
persist of cached treasure buried or otherwise hidden all over Beliard, but aside from a sack of gold coins found walled away behind stones in a chimney, nothing has yet been found—nothing that has become public knowledge, at least.
Goldenfields is a huge walled temple-farm dedicated to Chauntea, the goddess of agriculture. Called “the granary of the North,” it’s the only reason many Northerners ever taste soft-fleshed fruit larger than bush berries. Waterdeep, Secomber, Yartar, and points
beyond consume the temple’s reliable output: carefully husbanded grains and dried, oil-packed, or salted foodstuffs preserved in vast storage cellars, vats, ricks, and squat stone grain-towers.
Now run by Abbot Ellardin Darovik (male Tethyrian human priest), Goldenfields is a stronghold of the Emerald Enclave. Members of that faction are as welcome here as clergy of Chauntea; many of them stay for months at a time to help with the work and the vigilant defense of the farm against insects and blights, as well as would-be vandals and plunderers. Hired adventurers patrol the walls and the land immediately around them, watching for anyone approaching. More than five thousand people live and work in Goldenfields year round, farming more than twenty square miles of tillage in gangs of hard-working gardeners.
No guest at Goldenfields ever leaves hungry, and the farmer-priests expect that everyone should leave with “food for a tenday or more on the road, and seeds for the future beyond that.”
The High Forest
Although much shrunken from its ancient boundaries, the High Forest is still vast and mysterious. Larger than some kingdoms, it’s big enough to encompass mountains within its depths. It is home to treants of gigantic size, stags with antlers as wide across as a wagon, brown bears bigger than large sheds, owlbears, wolves, and unicorns. Woodcutters and even outlaws on the run dare visit only the verges of the High Forest. As everyone knows, those who venture too deep are seldom seen again.
In the northwestern High Forest stands Shadowtop Cathedral, a stand of towering shadowtop trees that is an important meeting-place for the Emerald Enclave. Foes of the enclave have to fight to reach it, but members can readily find aid, healing, and advice in the grove.
The Sumber Hills are windswept badlands sparsely covered in dry grass. Many of the hills have exposed rock faces or steep escarpments. While the hills are dry, countless tiny streams rise from hidden springs (usually clean and drinkable), then flow down to join the
Dessarin River, which bisects the hills.
Most locals only think of the wilder, higher hills west of the river when they hear “Sumber Hills,” because it’s there that once had rich quarries and good hunting. Some hunting lodges and keeps owned by wealthy Waterdhavians or adventurers remain—and in recent
times have become homes to bandits and monsters. Those who quarry the Sumber Hills for building stones and gravel often trade tales of finding gemstones and rich veins of ore in the hills—but for the most part, these persistent tales have never been more than talk.
In the last few years, the infamous “Haunted Keeps” in the western Sumber Hills have all been reoccupied. Sightings of strange beasts and menacing figures have increased, too.
Summit Hall was established long ago as a fortified monastery by the Knights of Samular, an order dedicated to Tyr, god of justice. A paladin of Tyr named Samular Caradoon founded the order and its monastery. A tomb within the monastery contains Samular’s remains.
Lady Ushien Stormbanner (female Tethyrian human knight of Tyr) oversees Summit Hall. Veterans, many of them scarred and grim, train novices and instruct them in the moral “Rule of the Knights” (an extensive series of “in this situation, a knight shall do this” uidelines). Life here is very regimented. The occupants of Summit Hall grow their own food and keep perpetual watch over nearby lands. They are always ready for battle, and fully
armed and armored if encountered outside their walls.
The town of Triboar stands where the Long Road meets the Evermoor Way, a well-used caravan road that runs east to the city of Yartar. Triboar is the chief rival to Yartar, and the two communities compete for the trade of the Dessarin Valley.
The current lord protector is a good-natured Harper and ex-adventurer named Darathra Shendrel (female Tethyrian human), known for the excellent wine she makes. Darathra enacts and modifies local laws (known as “The Lord’s Decree”), which are then
enforced by “The Twelve,” a dozen mounted veterans drawn from the militia to serve in a tenday cycle.
Triboar is a horse-market for a dozen nearby ranches that turn out trained draft horses, riding mounts and ponies, and pack mules. Blacksmiths, harnessmakers, and wagonworks flourish in town. In addition, a number of guides operate from Triboar. They take merchants
and other travelers all over the Sword Coast North (typically for stiff fees). Many of these guides are retired adventurers who know the North well.
A half-elf adventurer named Gervor and his companions went missing recently. The adventurers were staying in town, and locals expected them to return tendays ago. In addition, two important merchants from Waterdeep, Kharloss and Jarlee, are overdue.
A village strung out along the Long Road between Red Larch and Triboar, Westbridge is home to the Harvest Inn, which stands on the west side of the Long Road facing the wagon road from the Stone Bridge. The inn is run by the affable Herivin Dardragon (male halfling
commoner), a curly-haired collector and reseller of paintings and statuettes of questionable taste.
The town is full of rumors about the disappearance of Oric and Lathna, siblings who were abducted by raiders from a homestead a short distance outside of town. Herivin Dardragon is also worried about one of his regulars, a female shield dwarf prospector named Wulgreda. She has not stopped by in a long time.
A tangled and varied forest cloaking the eastern foothills of the Sword Mountains, these woods are home to a shrine to Mielikki, several woodcutters’ camps that are often taken over forcibly for a season or a few months at a time by bandits, and a few overgrown ruins
of the ancient elven kingdom of Rilithar.
Recently, a roving band of Elk tribe barbarians have come to Westwood. They forcibly evicted bandits from the innermost woodcutters’ camps, then camped there themselves to explore and hunt in Westwood.
This tiny village has a dock on the Dessarin River for shipping the grain from its grist mill. It is also the local supply and market for the surrounding farms from which the grain comes. Aside from the mill, the village consists of a handful of granaries and a larger handful of cottages, several of which house tiny local shops. According to old tales, the village was known as Ironford until a dragon was slain nearby Passers-by began to call the settlement “Wyrm Ford,” a name subsequently corrupted, thanks to the thick local accent, into Womford."
Womforders lock and bar their doors and shutter their windows at night, for fear of the “Womford Bat,” a nocturnal predator that snatches folk it can catch outside after dark.
This fortified city commands the most northerly wagon bridge over the Dessarin River. A walled citadel on the west bank ofthe river connects to a bridge wide enough to accommodate two wagons with room to spare, connecting the Evermoor Way into and through Yartar. The road leads east to Everlund and Silverymoon, and west to Triboar and eventually Waterdeep via the Long Road.
Yartar is prosperous and increasingly crowded, so buildings have been torn down and taller ones built— four stories high in some instances. A Waterbaron who rules for life leads Yartar. The current Waterbaron is the shrewd, farseeing Nestra Ruthiol (female Tethyrian human noble). Yartar is part of the Lords’ Alliance, and Ruthiol considers that membership vital for its survival and prosperity. She knows that Harpers and Zhentarim are well established in the city, but her path only crosses with theirs when the well being of Yartarrans is at stake.