Beneath the mysterious Star Mounts, at the southern edge of the ancient High Forest, the Gray Vale straddles the river Delimbiyr in the North. A prosperous region thanks to river traffic, merchant caravans from distant lands, and other travellers looking for treasure amid the wreckage of lost kingdoms, Gray Vale is a land ripe for adventure.
GRAY VALE REGIONAL BENEFIT
You gain one additional language of your choice, you add Nature to your class skill list, and you gain a +2 bonus to Nature checks.
Common Knowledge:Gray Vale has grown into a trade center in the North in large part due to the success of Loudwater. This small town has an advantageous location at the confluence of the Delimbiyr and Grayflow rivers. Rich and arable farmland enables the community to thrive. Most merchants in the vicinity use the river to transport goods, making Loudwater an ideal nexus for nearly all commerce in this part of the world.
Although Loudwater and other small settlements enjoy some prosperity, the threat of danger checks their growth. Displaced savages from beyond the High Forest are a constant peril. Goblins infest the Southwood, snatching cattle, supplies, and the occasional child before retreating to the dim shelter of their foreboding forest. Whispers of Najaran serpentfolk fill the taprooms as locals peer suspiciously at strangers, ever watchful for these sinister infiltrators. All of these dangers and more cast a pall of fear and mistrust over Gray Vale.
Gray Vale’s borders are soft, shifting with the ambitions of prospectors and settlers, but all who live in this rich valley regard the Star Mounts as its northern boundary, the rugged Graypeak Mountains as the eastern border, and the High Moor as its southern perimeter. The Vale stretches west, following the Grayflow out to the Sword Coast, though the influence of the area thins as one draws closer to the Western Heartlands.
- Loudwater: Easily the largest settlement in Gray Vale, Loudwater is encircled by a wall of timber and stone more than 20 feet high. The fortifications and the determined but personable people living here make Loudwater an attractive stop for travellers of all kinds.
- Llorkh: Ever an unsavoury place, Llorkh has sharply declined in recent years. A string of incompetent rulers drove off most of the honest residents, and now the ruined city serves as a haven for a self-styled bandit king and his lackeys.
- The Star Mounts: This ancient range of mountains marks the southern boundary of the High Forest and takes its name from the queer lights that shine from its heights. Legends claim that these mysterious mountains are home to dragons, elves, strange birdfolk, and more. Perhaps the most unusual story is that in the upper reaches, great crystal towers grow out of the rock. It is uncertain just who or what lives inside these towers (if they even exist), because clouds blanket the peaks year round and few have the courage to ascend the heights.
- The High Forest: From the northern slopes of the Star Mounts and stretching for miles to the north is the High Forest, an ancient wood notoriously haunted by fey creatures, gnolls, and drow. Infrequently, wood elves of the forest trade with the people of Loudwater, but they are tight-lipped about what goes on in their sylvan homeland.
- The Graypeak Mountains: Sheltering the people of Gray Vale from the distant doom of Netheril is a range of old, rugged mountains known as the Graypeaks. Barren and capped in ice and snow, these mountains are said to be home to giants and vicious wild and unnatural creatures. Adventurers who have braved the peaks report ancient dwarven ruins buried beneath the stone, and their claims are supported by old dwarven coins, weaponry, and other antiquities that have been recovered.
- Southwood: This young forest separates a portion of Gray Vale from the Highstar Lake and the serpent people of the High Moor. Local woodcutters occasionally take timber from this forest but do so at great risk, for a large tribe of goblins has staked its claim here.
People of Gray Vale:
Unlike other areas of the North, the people of Gray Vale are decidedly mixed, blending cultures from all over the region. But humanity has a slight edge, and most humans have fair skin, hair that ranges from blond to light brown, and the full range of eye colours (though hazel is dominant). A proud people, they are self-reliant, tough, and grizzled, accustomed to the hardships that press against them. Most folks are farmers, though plenty of miners try their hand at coaxing more out of the old mines of the Graypeaks.
Half-elves comprise another large group of the Gray Vale population. Like the humans of this area, the half-elves have fair skin and light hair. Although most retain signs of their elven heritage, years of human and half-elf marriages have diminished these traits until most half-elves could pass for human.
In addition, one can find a number of dwarves, drawn to Gray Vale to reclaim their lost holds. Halfling fisherfolk work the river, living alongside their human allies. The region even has a smattering of eladrin and elves, though most members of those races encountered in the Vale hail from the High Forest to the north.
Adventurers:Adventurers find Gray Vale an ideal place to launch their careers. With the safety and security of Loud- water nearby, heroes can strike out to explore the wilderness and battle goblins, giants, bandits, and more. Ruins of lost dwarven kingdoms lie buried beneath the Graypeaks, and stranger places with even more fabulous treasures lure many bold adventurers to the mist-shrouded heights of the Star Mounts.
- Savage Youth: You hail from one of the Uthgardt barbarian tribes prowling the lands north of Gray Vale. As a rite of passage, you left your tribe to earn your standing as an adult, fighting the enemies of your people and bringing back treasures and tales of your exploits.
Roleplaying Tips: You are crude and uncultured, primitive in your habits and attitudes. You lack sub- tlety and use violence when politeness might suffice.
- Heroic Scion: Your parents settled in Gray Vale to retire after a life of adventure. Weaned on stories of their exploits, you lived in their shadow, waiting for the chance to prove yourself in their eyes.
Roleplaying Tips: Ambitious and reckless, you are the resident expert on adventuring. You see it as your duty to share what you have learned from your par- ents, and you weigh in on nearly every topic.
- Woodland Hunter: You are a skilled hunter and expert tracker. Because you are familiar with the trails and pathways weaving through the Southwood, your skills are in high demand as a guide. You also know the regular haunts of local bandits and goblin raiders, helping travelers steer clear of potential attacks.
Roleplaying Tips: Long periods spent alone in the wilderness can make you uncomfortable in large groups or in established communities.
The steady influx of travellers to Gray Vale and the threats weighing on the hearts and minds of the residents breed numerous adventurers. Some seem driven to explore, to plumb the depths of mysterious dungeons, while others seek only to defend their homelands from the enemies arrayed against them.
- Mercenary: Like many others, you find Gray Vale pleasant enough, but the comforts of life here are not your main reason for sticking around. Glory and wealth are yours for the taking, for the world holds all sorts of places to explore, monsters to kill, and tombs to rob. Gray Vale suits your purpose for now, but you could easily move on if the well dries up.
Roleplaying Tips: Your mercenary nature reveals itself whenever you are presented with a possible job. You are always concerned with how much a mission pays and frequently haggle to obtain the best price possible.
- Protect the Homeland: You grew up in Gray Vale, and it’s your home. Each year, reports of attacks on farmers and settlers fill you with anger and no little fear. It’s past time for someone to staunch the tide of darkness, and no one is better suited than you are.
Roleplaying Tips: You are fiercely protective of Gray Vale and leap at the chance to come to its defence.