Narfell Source Materials
Keep in mind that few if any characters will have an accurate in character knowledge of the enclosed posts. The further back in history, or the more local the knowledge, the LESS likely it will be known to anyone. So remember to keep this OOC unless there is a reason to know it IC! Finally, there are plenty of things here that have not been integrated into OUR version of Narfell… so keep in mind that there will be descrepencies.
The Rawlinswood forms the northern border of the Great Dale, weaving its way south of the Giantspire Mountains and the plains of Narfell until it peters out near the Cold Road and the Firward Mountains. Once, the Rawlinswood was a northern twin to the Forest of Lethyr, but a horrid evil has clawed its way out of the black earth, poisoning the Rawlinswood and filling its green gloom with blood, disease and madness. The sinister Rotting Man (NE half-fiend human Druid12/Talontar Blightlord 10, Chosen of Talona) leads a dark circle of evil clerics and druids devoted to the Lady of Poison and, through these blightlords, a growing host of blightspawned volodni warriors that menace all the nearby lands.
The Rawlinswood is a mixture of deciduous and evergreen trees along its southern border but quickly becomes a soggy taiga as once travels north from the Dale. Treacherous muskeg bogs fester above a deep layer of permafrost, giving rise to clouds of mosquitoes inteh Rawlinswood's short summer. In its northwestern reaches, the forest climbs sharply towards the Giantspire Mountains, covering rugged foothills and deep shadowed vales. Like all of the Great Dale, it also rises toward the east, and it's easternmost reaches are quite hilly. The forests narrows to a narrow band only twenty-five miles wide about two-thirds of the way along its length, moving from west to east.
The now abandoned settlement of Denderdale is located here along the northern edge, almost enclosed by the reaching arms of the forest. The way isn't long, comparatively, and those who are eloquent or desperate enough may be able to hire a guide to take them to the south side of the of the forest or back.
Just to the northwest of the forest is the Damaran settlement of Tellreth, hard by the Long Road. For years, the Circle of Leth worked to stop the encroachement of Damaran and Impulturian loggers into the western reaches of the Rawlinswood, but the Nentyarch's followers have been driven into the Forest of Lethyr and no longer patrol this area. The humans now face the Rotting Man and his rising tide of evil.
Once the capital of the ancient Empire of Narfell, Dun-Tharos sprawls for miles through the pines and bogs at the heart of the Rawlinswood. From this place, the Nentyarchs (as the rulers of ancient Narfell were known) ruled a great and terrible realm of dark keeps and proud, sinister lords. Dun-Tharos was laid waste in the final cataclysmic war between Raumathar and Narfell, the entire city leveled by some mighty spell of unspeakable power. So ended the Nentyarchs and thier demon-haunted kingdom.
Centuries past, and the forest grew over the great black scar in its heart. A group of druids and rangers - the Circle of Leth - undertook the work of healing the wounded land. Theier leader took the title of Nentyarch anew to signify that the druids of Leth ruled over the heart of ancient Narfell. In the ruins of Dun-Tharos, the new Nentyarch raised a fortress to govern the great forest. The black keep of the old demonpriests was reborn into a castle of living trees, woven by druidic magic.
From this forest-castle the Nentyarchs ruled for nearly six hundred years, preserving the Forest of Lethyr and the Rawlinswood from encroachment by human kingdoms on all sides. The ruins of the old Nar capital reminded the druids of humanity's ability to harm nature, and the forest that had swallowed its black stones offered an example of what might be accomplished with patience and strength.
All things come to an end, though. Ten years ago, the Rotting Man, Chosen of Talona, began to gather a circle of dark druids in the western reaches of the Rawlinswood. The Circle of Leth fought against the rising power of the blightlords and contained the Rotting Man in the west, but two years ago the Rotting man created a terrible new weapon to use against the Nentyarch - the blight of Talona. He corrupted a handful of captured Leth druids, changing them into blightlords who serve him. Through these tortured minions, he ensnared hundreds of volodni and infected them with Talona's blight. At Midwinter in 1371 DR, he hurled his blightspawned army at tghe Nentyarch's fortress and drove the Circle of Leth out of the Rawlinswood.
Dun-Tharos is still a castle of trees, but they are now dead, animated through the Rotting Man's fould sorcery. Hundreds of his minions lurk in the ruins of Narfell's old capital, ready to surge forth and slay at his command. His blightspawned warriors slaughtered the small community of Denderdale, north of the forest, only two months ago, and bands of evil volodni harry the clanholds and farmsteads south of the forest. Dun-Tharos has become a place of death and madness again.
Dun-Tharos: Formerly the capital of ancient Narfell, this great ruin sits near the center of the Rawlinswood. The great plazaa and wreaked temples devoted to demonic powers lie half-buried in the boggy forest, and the treasures of Narfell's sinister lords are said to lie in the buried storehouses and conjuring chambers beneath the old ruins. Dun-Tharos is virtually unexplored by adventurers; the powerful druid known as the Nentyarch raised his own living fortress of magical trees ove the evil ruin and for centuries chased off explorers. The Nantyarch is gone now, displaced by the Rotting man and his blightlords. Impudent adventurers hoping to plumb the royal vaults of Narfell must contend with the Talontar and thier army of blightspawned creatures.
Corrupt priests who revel in decay, the blightlords of Talona are feared and reviled throughout the Unapproachable East. Thier plagues have transformed the western reaches of the Rawlinswood into a foul green hell of diseased monsters and deadly poisons. Worse yet, the blightlords seek to infect the healthy forests and lands nearby with the same sickness. Under the tutelage of the horrible Rotting man, the Talontar blightlords marshal the Rawlinswood's black horde, leading thier infected minions forth to scourge the nearby lands.
Most of the blightlords are drawn from evil clerics, druids and rangers who venerate Talona, the Mother of All Plagues. A handful of fighters, barbarians, and sorcerors have become captains of the Rotting Man's armies, but since thier prospective blightlords must have access to divine spells, any such candidates must have at least some levels in a divine spellcasting class to qualify.
Nars Demonbinder Prestige Class
Masters of the black art of demon summoning, the Nars demonbinder keeps alive the sinister tradition of the old Empire of Narfell. More than a thousand years ago the sorcerous land of Narfell grew on the strength of it unholy mages and cruel priest-lords. Although Narfell's trafficking with demons contributed to its eventual downfall, secrets of the old Nar lore still draws unscrupulous spellcasters who plunder the buried vaults of the long-vanished land in search of knowledge and power, as well as more principled researchers who persue this forbidden lore to battle demons.
North of the Rawlinswood rise the rugged, snowy Giantspire Mountains. Claimed by both Damara and the Nars tribes, the range is, in fact, occupied by the folk of neither land, for hobgoblins, bugbears, and evil cloud giants hold the peaks.
The Long Road crosses the Giantspire, right through the region of rolling foothills known as the Giant Gap. Snow closes the gap in the wintertime, but few travelers come this way even at the height of summer - mauraders and monsters harry travellers in this lonely and desolate land.
The hobgoblins of the Giantspire are ruled by King Kardobbik (LE male hobgoblin Ftr12), a particularly dangerous warlord. The king's primary advisor is Lady Farkattle (LE female hobgoblin Nec11). She has managed to animate the corpse of a long-dead, very old deep dragon that once made its here but was slain in the war that brought the old Empire of Narfell to a bloody end. This skeletal dragon looks like a dracolich to the uninitiated, but it is entirely under Farkattle's control. Kardobbik uses this fearsome monster to keep the hobgoblin tribes of the Giantspire in line - no easy task.
Narfell, frigid land of the barbarian tribes, was once the heart of a vast empire that included all of the Great Dale, much of Thesk, and part of the Plateau of Thay, among other lands. In those days, evil priests ruled Narfell, maintaining power through horrid blood-pacts with demon lords. However powerful it may have once been, this great civilization fell over 1,500 years ago in a climatic battle with its ancient enemy Raumathar.
The few survivors from the old empire fell back into Narfell's current borders to nurse thier wounds, vowing to rebuild thier mighty realm. That dream has long since fallen by the wayside. Today, most Nars have little inkling of thier high and sinister past, concerned as they are with simply surviving the region's harsh winters.
The plains of Narfell are littered with ruins, most of which are ignored by the Nars. They have learned that there are usually good - and often lethal - reasons why these places have remained undisturbed for so long. Still, every now and then, a group of adventurers gets it into thier collective head to poke around in these places. The Nars don't discourage this, since they can pick up the pieces after the foolhardy foreigners trip any long dormant traps.
Merchants who don't wish to travel through Thesk sometimes use Narfell as an alternative trade route. The Long Road starts in Damara and enters Narfell through the pass in the Giantspire Mountains before intersecting with the Cold Road as N'Jast. From there, it cotinues towards Nathound, which stands in the shadows of the Icerim Mountains in northern Rashemen. However, the Giant Gap, as its sommonly known, is impassable for much of the winter and plagued by hobgoblins.
The unofficial capital of Narfell is little more than an open plain in the shadow of Mount Nar, a massive snow-capped peak visible from the crossroads at N'Jast. For one tenday each summer, this humble plain becomes a thriving city of over 30,000 Nars. This festival - also named Bildoobaris - is the largest and most important holiday in Narfell, and even the cruelest and most fierce Nar tribes come to drink, feat and trade.
The ancient rulers of Jastaath, one of the petty Nar kingdoms that existed before the rise of the Empire of Narfell, ruled over thier homeland from a massive fortress high atop the western slopes of Mount Nar. In those days, the magic of the great priest-kings kept the weather around the fortress pleasant and warm, even in the dead of winter. Today, the ruins of that once-great city lie lost beneath the never-melting snow.
To this day, no modern expedition to the peak has even found the buried ruins of the castle, much less penetrated them. Such efforts are not doubt hindered by the presence of Kryonar, the white dracolich wyrm who lives in an icy cavern in the mountain's northern face.
Capital: Bildoobaris (summer only)
Population: 36,720 (humans 99%)
Religons: Lathander, Tempus, Waukeen
Imports: Clothing, jewlery
Alignment: CN, CG, CE
A country where only the strong survive, Narfell is a land of infertile soil that supports only scraggly grass. The people of Narfell are tribal folk called the Nars, fierce horse-riders who believe that all people are judged by thier actions. Thier motto, "Deed, not blood," shows thier disregard for those who expect deference because of "noble" birth. Some of the tribes are hostile to outsiders, but all set aside thier differences once a year for thier great trademeet.
In addition to the riders, Narfell is home to tundra yeti (dire apes) and hordes of hobgoblins in the mountains. Ancient Narfell was a powerful, wizard-ruled state that was destroyed in wars against the now-fallen empire of Raumathar. The barbaric folk living here today remember little of thier civilized past, but the Nars occasionally find buried cities within thier land, each containing great items of battle-magic.
LIFE AND SOCIETY
This dry, flat grassland is home to vast herds of reindeer and wild oxen - and the nomadic horsefolk who feast on them. The Nars move with thier food, erecting "waymeets" (temporary tent villages) wherever nightfall finds them. They gather annually at Bildoobaris for a tenday-long Trade Fair to meet outlander merchants in a massive tent city.
At the Trade Fair, the twenty-seven Nar tribes determine common policy for external matters such as wars and meet with outlander trade delegations. During the rest of the year, fast riding messangers maintain communications between tribal chiefs as needed.
The Nars are loosely united in a tribal council led by the largest tribe, Harthgroth. The Harthgroth, who can muster four thousand riders under the grizzled old warrior Thalaman Harthgroth (N male human Bbn5/Ftr11), regards outlanders as sources of trade-wealth rather than fools to be robbed or slain. Other tribes are far more hostile - notably the Creel, who attack outlanders and other Nars on sight. The Var tribe, however, welcomes outlanders, and its people strive to become more like them. The Dag Nost are as civilized as folk in Impultur.
Nar tribes don't use badges uniforms, specific colors, or identifying banners. An outlander who doesn't look like a Nar - tanned skin, long black hair braided in a horsetail, gaudy clothes, suberbly skilled at riding - always travel in peril. Nar horses are tall, tough, strong, and can endure great hardship. They are the chief wealth and primary trade-goods amoung the Nars, who love to barter and buy, having a weakness (the men in particular) fro jewlery and bright-colored clothing.
MAJOR GEOGRAPHICAL FEATURES
The flat plains of Narfell boast few features of note. More lies under the surface, however, inculding remnants of the ancient empire that once thrived here.
Icelace Lake: Formed of the runoff from the Great Glacier, this lake boasts pure water and plenty of fish. The water is so cold that it can kill a swimmer within 10 minutes. Home to unusual aquatic creatures, the lake is also known for the agressive dire bears that live on its shores.
MAJOR GEOGRAPHICAL FEATURES
The "cities" of Narfell consist primarily of simple towns where the nomads congregate.
Bildoobaris (Metropolis, 33, 048, summer only): For a tenday each summer, the tribes of Nars gather to form a massive tent city. Miles of animal-skin tents cover the land, and natives welcome merchants from other countries for a brief time, exchanging horses and items taken from ruins for clothing, jewelry, dried meats, weapons, and quality barding.
The country of Narfell dates back nearly as far as the Orcgate Wars that broke the back of Mulhorand. The mercenaries who were hired to fight the invading orcs established the nation of Narfell. Both they and their enemies from Raumathar claimed portions of the Mulhorand's northern empire. Eventually these two nations went to war, and while both asked Mulhorand and Unther for aid, neither country gave it, fearing prophecies that such a war would end in mutual destruction.
The last battle between Narfell and Raumathar involved demons, dragons, and great magic that burned entire cities. When the smoke cleared, both nations were dead, thier people scattered into small tribes and enclaves on the blasted land. Narfell has survived ever since in this form, greatly humbled and ignorant of its former glory. Certain legacies remain in the great weapons and heroic names some of the Nars carry, which date back a thousand years to the great kingdom of Narfell.
Narfell - The known tribes
For the purpose of this description, each tribe has been categorized as being one of four dispositions: Savage, Hostile, Ambivalent, and Tolerant. A Dungeon Master should keep in mind that these ratings are generalizations.
A tribe rated Savage is likely to attack foreigners on sight, asking no questions. One regarded as Hostile would be more interested in capturing, or at least surrounding, foreigners before attacking. PCs caught in this unenviable position had better do some fast talking if they ever hope to leave.
An Ambivalent tribe judges foreigners solely on their immediate actions. This tribe won't take any action, favorable or hostile, toward strangers until provoked, one way or the other.
Finally, a Tolerant tribe will accept foreigners unless they do something to anger the tribal chieftain. Most Nars fit somewhere between Hostile and Ambivalent. Even the most savage tribes come to the Trade Fair each year with open arms and wide smiles, while even the most tolerant would not hesitate to put a pushy foreigner to a slow and painful death.
Tribes are usually difficult for outsiders to identify. They wear no distinctive colors or clothing, and the name of a tribe changes whenever a new chieftain takes command. While tribes are often found at waymeets within their territories, these locations are open to all the tribes and are freely shared. A traveler wandering to Peltarch, south of Icelace Lake, could not be sure whether the Nars camped there belonged to Abordabe or Creel - a dangerous confusion indeed!
Locale: Central Narfell between Hark’s Finger and the western banks of the Teardrops.
The largest of the Nar tribes, Abordabe oversees the Trade Fair each summer. The tribe views foreigners more as a source of added wealth than as enemies.
Locale: Western Narfell, in the shadows of the Giantspire Mountains.
Aingst has had quite a bit of contact with farmers in eastern Damara. Still, this tribe is friendlier with strangers if they remain outside Narfell.s borders.
Locale: Northwestern Narfell, on the
banks of Icelace Lake.
In the past, Creel might have been regarded as merely Hostile, but recent events changed that. The contingent of warriors routed by the Witch-King’s undead came from this small tribe. Since their humiliation, Creel sees every foreigner as an enemy and will usually attack on sight. Even the other Nar tribes make an effort to stay out of Creel.s way these days.
Locale: Southwestern Narfell along the borders of Rawlinswood, and as far as the northern fringes of the Forest of Lethyr.
Dag Nost is considered by travelers to be the most civilized of the Nar tribes. Members of this tribe have occasionally traveled to the Impilturian village of Uthmerg to gain an edge in trading before the official Trade Fair gets underway.
Locale: Northern Narfell along the
Great Glacier and on the northern
banks of Icelace Lake.
Far Quey is a powerful tribe of exceptionally tough warriors. While this tribe can be more brutal than others, they are regarded as Hostile, not Savage. They have little contact with outsiders,
and it may be that they are simply curious when a foreigner shows up in their inhospitable region. This hypothetical curiosity may be the PC’s only hope, should they wander into the clutches of Far Quey.
Locale: West-central Narfell between Hark’s Finger and the Giantspires.
Qu’ima is a middle-of-the-road tribe in all of their actions, with a tendency to blend into the background of events.
Conservative by nature, they carefully weigh situations before acting, and this pause gives PCs a fair chance to walk away from Qu’ima without incident. If the PCs hoped to receive aid from this tribe, the task might prove to be more difficult!
A good example of Qu’ima’s actions can be seen in their disassociation with Horse (see Movers and Shakers, p. 50). Horse is a particularly violent and anti-social renegade. Were he in the Abordabe tribe, Horse might have been executed; in a savage tribe like Qu’encesta, he would probably have become the chieftain! In a typically non-committal act, Qu’ima simply cast him out.
Locale: Central Narfell, from Icelace Lake to the northern borders of Rawlinswood.
Qu’encesta takes the same hard line toward foreigners as does Creel, although they are on better terms with their fellow Nars. Qu’encesta firmly believes in the sovereignty and purity of Narfell, and accepts no outsiders beyond the formal gathering of the Trade Fair. PCs coming in sight of Qu’encesta will be attacked by tribesmen outnumbering them five to one. If the PCs fight bravely and survive, they might be allowed to flee over Narfell’s border. (The PCs should hope the skirmish takes place near a border!) In the worst case, they would be attacked again, this time outnumbered ten to one. Damara, for example.they might talk before attacking. Brave and proud PCs could win them over, but any cowardice or hostility will be dealt with in the severest of terms.
Locale: Western Narfell, in the shadows of the Giantspire Mountains.
PCs would do best if their first Narfellian encounter was with Var. The large tribe is the one most often seen in Damara, even as far west as Steppenhall. Var may prove to be Gareth Dragonsbane’s link to this savage land, for Chief Var appears to be quite interested in the mining gemstones out of the Giantspire Mountains. In this light, the chief eagerly questions anyone he can meet from Damara, which he views as a rich kingdom that Narfell would do well to imitate.
Descended from the survivors of Narfell's cataclysmic destruction, the Nars consist of twenty or more nomadic tribes that inhabit the dry grasslands east of the Giantspire Mountains and north of the Rawlinswood.
Nars are short and stocky, with darkly tanned skin tones and straight, raven black hair, usually worn to the shoulders. They are some of the finest horsemen in Faerun, and famed breeders of the legendary Nar heavy horse. Although they once spoke Narfelli, a forgotten tongue strongly influenced by Abyssal, the Nars now speak the Damaran tongue common to the lands neas the Easting Reach as well as a smattering of Common. As most Nars can be considered barbarians, few can read or write, but those that do employ the Dethek runes adopted by speakers of Damaran.
The vast territory between the Easting Reach and Lake Ashane are the tribal lands of the Nars. First encountered by Muhhorandi scouts during that empire's northwqard expansion nearly 1,500 years before the the beggining of the Dalereckoning, the Nars did not rise to prominence until after the Orcgate Wars of -1075 DR to -1069 DR. Like other tribal peoples to the east, the Nars were hired to fight in Mulhorand's northern armies during the Orcgate Wars, and they returned to thier home intent on building an empire of thier own. Over the course of the next two centuries, the Nars establisheda series of petty kingdoms, the most prominent of which were the Ashanath (along the western shores of Lake Ashane) and Tharos (at the head of the Easting Reach).
In -970 DR, the reigning Nentyarch (king) of Tharos constructed the great tree lined fortress of Dun-Tharos in the heart of the Rawlinswood. Some claim he forged a pact with a powerful demon lord, possible Orcus, in exchange for a fell artifact that came to be known as the Crown of Narfell, while others attributed his rise to a combination of fortuitious events and personal charisma. In any event, after donning the Crown of Narfell, the Nentyarch proceeded to conquer on petty kingdom of the Nars after another, the last of which was the kingdom of Ashanath. The Nentyarch's army literally wiped out Ashanath's capital city of Shandaular, reducing it to little more than rubble along with the western shore of Lake Ashane. By -900 DR, the empire of Narfell stretched from the eastern slopes of the Giantspire Mountains to the northern bank of the River Umber.
In the centuries that followed, Narfell's rulers set thier sights on the Priador Plateau (now the Plateau of Thay), home only to nomadic tribes of centaur and gnolls following the retreat of Mulhorand. The centuries-long struggle for control of the Priador Plateau between Narfell and Raumathar is recounted in greater detail in the history of the Rashemi. In brief, early successes by Narfell were reversed after -623 DR because of an ill-concieved invasion of Mulhorand and a surprise attack by Raumathar's army. In order to reverse thier empire's decline, the rulers of Narfell turned to demonic aid to learn the art of sorcery, prompted by fell whisperingsof the Crown of Narfell. In -150 DR, centuries of warfare culminated in a great conflagration that consumed both empires and left all manner of summoned beings to stalk the lands the empires once ruled. In the aftermath of Narfell's collapse, the Nars retreated into tiny enclaves, sorely beset by the demons they had unleashed.