The Well of Souls
Adhe Wood is an old, thickly grown forest of duskwood, shadowtop, felsul and oak. The depths are deep in perpetual gloom, haunted by spiders and ettercaps. Rumors of ancient and evil magics, a dark and forgotten temple, and a fortune in forgotten gems go unexplored due to the wild variety of spiders and their ilk lurking in the long shadows.
Baluar’s Hunt, an area of rolling hills, is the site of the Elvin warrior Beluar’s great victory over the orcs long ago. Today, wild horses and wilder brigands roam among the hills, gullies and barrows. Occasionally, tombs and vaults are uncovered in the hills, but the memory of the weird stag-horned lich which slaughtered a Dragon Cult expedition some twenty winters ago and then sealed itself back into its crypt prevent most from delving too deeply.
Bambryn slumbers in the wealth of well-bred and trained horses, luxury crops, and the fat ledgers of merchants and adventurers not-quite-retired. Horse paddocks, exotic and odd-looking gardens, and expansive patios and manors are bordered by thick hedgerows to keep the privacy. Poking around without invitation is likely to be greeted with hostile wands and angry guard dogs, or worse.
"Stinks like Blanaer" is a popular Vast expression referring to this hard-working center for ranching and farming. Acres of stockyards, pigpens, and corrals make up Blanaer’s sprawling mass, where animals outnumber men by many times. That’s not to say there’s not wealth to be had – there’s been saddlebags, coffers, and even rotten burlap sacks of coin and gems found buried in the manure piles. When and how they’ve gotten there is open to discussion.
Brynwood is a large rambling forest, concealing many rocky outcroppings and steep-sided ravines. Trackless and rough, the depths have rarely been sought, and the stories of many evil shape changers dwelling in the wood have lured at least three adventuring bands to their supposed dooms in the last ten years – The Company of the Talking Shield, The Men of the Purple Sash, and The Skullsword Reavers have all vanished in the Brynwood.
Idyllic and quiet, Burrowbluff is a small village of Halflings and Gnomes near Ravens Bluff, providing the city with wagon loads of rich produce and grains. A very talented silversmith and an excellent watchtower overlooking the coast are both significant draws as well.
One of the most squalid and oppressed cities on the Dragon Reach, Calaunt is a dank, fog-ridden city on the wide delta of the River Vesper. Calaunt’s dominant industries are livestock, preserved meat, wool, tanning, and parchment making; many sailors claim to be able to find Calaunt by smell alone. Ruled by a former adventuring band that drove the nobility from the city, the peoples’ lot has not improved under the new leadership, which is no less domineering than what came before. Life is dominated by the two temples in Calaunt – Loviatar’s House of Scarlet Hooks, and Selune’s Moonsilver House. Rumors of dark, fey magics, mysterious disappearances, and half-glimpses of nightmarish monsters have plagued the city since it was founded; mages of any experience, wielders of powerful magic, and agitators for the common folk invariably meet poor ends here.
Dark Hollow is a tree-cloaked valley where [[Feldar’s Trail]] crosses the Hlintar Ride. It’s always had a dangerous, fey reputation – Faerie dragons frolic here, as brownies and other woodland beings play pranks on passersby, while many crazy, would-be wizards dwell in shacks and caves around the Hollow, experimenting and plotting in seclusion. For those daring enough, many magical wonders, both common and unique, can be traded for here, from time to time.
Dead Tree Hollow was once the home of a druid dwelling in a huge, gnarled oak whose trunk was as large around as many cottages; only the stump remains, after a dragon burned the druid out in hunger and rage. Around the stump now sits a small village, known for its fiddlehead and fern-frond soup (in season), exotic mushrooms (prized by gourmets around the Dragon Reach), and excellent wagon-works. That it is a [[dead-magic zone]], and stories of an elvish fortune buried somewhere in the Hollow may have something to do with its fame, as well.
Dragon Falls is named for the large cataract in the Fire River where a small stream meets the river, and together prevents river traffic from going further upstream. The village sits on a bluff overlooking the Fire River where the stream originates. A rope ferry crosses the Fire River above the Falls. Dragon Falls is named for the ancient red dragon that used to lair in the falls, and terrorized humans, dwarves and orcs up and down the Fire River. The wealth that remained after the wyrm was slain that the adventurers just settled in the area, and spent the coin to develop their new home.
Crossed by at least a dozen narrow ravines, Elvenblood Pass is a rugged and dangerous route for the High Trail through the mountains between Ravens Bluff and Sarbreenar. Two great treasures, and many many lesser hoards are said to be concealed and lost among the depths of the pass, but the frequent rock falls, hunting stirges, wyverns, brigands, orcs, and other mountain-dwelling predators make seeking the treasures a dangerous business.
Once haunted by brigand bands, Fallentree is a shady village of dark pine forests and horse farms. At the crossing of [[Blaern’s Trail]] and [[Feldar’s Trail]], raiders could fell a pine across the road and swoop down from a dozen different hiding places at a full gallop; the larger, more dangerous brigands are long gone, but still bandits swirl through the area. Often they die without leaving word where their caches of stolen riches might be, and hidden or buried treasures are still found here from time to time.
A long and placid river reaching from the High Country to Ravens Bluff, the thick stands of trees along the banks of the Fire River and her tributaries and springs have concealed many an outlaw, reclusive mage, or their treasure over the years.
The Flooded Forest was once a small swamp hidden within the last of the Elvish forests of the Vast. The southern reaches of the forest were wild, watched over by human stewards of Elvish lords across the Dragon Reach. The northern reaches of the forest concealed the town of Eylea, and her dependant villages. Now, the fae have fled, or become dark, twisted and hidden (there is much debate), and the waters within the forest have risen until the whole of the forest is under a few feet of water. A large black dragon haunts the forest, as do trolls driven from the Troll Mountains, and other dark things. Eylea still holds, if only by her rotting fingernails.
The Glacier of the White Worm survives far south, and far lower, than it should – magic is almost certainly involved. High among the peaks of the Earthspur Mountains, the glacier drains north of Mulmaster off a towering cliff into the Moonsea, and far to the east into Icemelt Lake in a raging torrential river. Inhabited by a range of cold-loving monsters, it’s dominated by its namesake – albino remorhaz. Human and dwarvish barbarians live around the glacier, and Ilmaterian monks maintain the renowned Abbey of the Yellow Rose on a peak overlooking the ice.
A wild mountain pass on the North Road, leading south to Sevenecho and Tsurlagol, Glorming Pass is haunted by ‘The Phantom Knights’ – spectral armored men on destriers who thunder through the pass, looking at, and occasionally riding through people in their path, but never doing more than giving a momentary chill and a glowing radiance to their victims. The hoards of orcs that raid the pass, however, can inflict much greater harm to travelers passing through.
Hidden Hollow was founded less than two years ago at the northern mouth of Glorming Pass, and has claimed much of the land around the town. Declaring itself the Kingdom of the Earthenmore, ruled by a gnomish princess, the town is so far unchallenged in the area. While many hope its presence will contribute to the safety and security of the pass, if Earthenmore begins charging tolls or trade taxes, who knows how long other powers will tolerate its independent existence.
High Haspur, an alpine village on the trail between Ravens Bluff and Procampur, is ruled by the Morninglight Clan, gnomes of considerable skill at gold- and gem-work. The village itself is defensibly built into bluffs overlooking the trail, with the clan holdings carved into the rock behind the village itself. The clan is one of the few sources in all of Faerun for beljurils, and jealously guards the mines. The Morninglights also run the only inn in High Haspur, the Elf in Armor inn.
Highbank Forest is a sleepy village known for its amazingly skilled wood carvers – merchants eagerly snatch up the carvings, toys, and furniture for sale around the Sea of Fallen Stars and across Faerun. Little else distinguishes the village; even the keep that once overlooked the hamlet, river, and roads is nothing more than a ruin around an abandoned hole in the ground, presumably to forgotten dungeons and storerooms.
A small and muddy crossroads town, Hlintar is best known for being a town no dwarf will knowingly enter. Over 100 winters ago, the corrupt and evil master merchant in charge of the town council masterminded the murder of every dwarf in the town in order to seize their lands and possessions. The matter did not go un-avenged, and dwarves never forget. The town survives on crossroad trade, being an excellent meeting place for those who don’t want to enter or be seen in Calaunt or Tantras, and the Silent Vault service run by the Temple of Waukeen.
[[King’s Reach]], a wealthy and well fortified town, made its fortune catering to prospectors and miners working the Earthspur Mountains. Smelters, craftsmen, and merchants have kept river traffic on the Vesper busy – this is the farthest the Vesper is navigable. The town’s name comes from Dwarvish King Tuin’s claim that humans would advance ‘this far’ into the Vast, and no farther. With the fall of the Dwarven kingdom, the order carries no more weight.
Despite being founded and named after a man named Kurth, known to men and dwarves as “The Banditslayer”, Kurth has a dark and slightly unsavory reputation. It is said that pirates retire here to get away from the sea, treasure is squirreled away in every cellar, and dark deals and smuggling occur in the back rooms of Kurth's many bars. Kurth grows fat upon the trade to and from Malvaunt, with the rest of the lands of the Vast. Little escapes the notice of Kurth’s rulers, and everyone seems to have their fingers in ‘something extra’ to supplement their income.
Maerstar is known as a horse breeding center; the large, sleek black horses bred here are highly prized throughout the Inner Sea lands. It's not known as a place of overmuch wealth but rather hardworking prosperity. It is also, however, known as the home of the Moonlit Tower – an apparition that only appears when the beams of a full moon fall upon a crag overlooking the town from the northwest. Sometimes holding treasure, sometimes abominations, and sometimes completely empty, it is well known that anyone in the tower when the moonbeams fade, and the tower does as well, are rarely seen in the Realms again.
The Mage’s Tower – Due west of Kurth, on the southern edge of the Flooded Forest, stands a stone tower with no door, and no break in the stone until the top of the tower, over seventy feet up. Sometimes lights are seen in the windows at the top, but more often not. A huge stone golem stands at the base of the tower, and attacks any who touch the tower, or fly within forty feet of it. What is within the tower is open to wild speculation and many, many tales, each more improbably than the last. All adventurers who have been within the tower agree on one thing – that someone, or something, lives within the tower, and does not like visitors.
[[Maskyr’s Eye]] is a pastoral hamlet in the shadow of the Earthspur Mountains, on the trail between Malvaunt and the Vast. Widely known for having the finest inn of the Vast, The Wizards Hand, Maskyr’s Eye is otherwise mostly unremarkable. Dwarves from hidden holds in the Earthspurs trade here some years, and the ruins of Maskyr’s tower still draw the curious and adventurous from time to time, but otherwise, little changes here.
Mossbridges lies eight miles north of Ravens Bluff along the well travelled coast road, and serves that city as a caravan staging area, stockyards, warehouse district, and horse-trading and stabling center. The village is named for the great multi-span bridge that crosses the Fire River. Life and trade are very quiet in Mossbridges due to the vigilance and unflinching policing of Rulisqer, a paladin of Tyr, and his fourteen followers. That isn’t to say crime doesn’t exist in Mossbridges; it’s often said it does. It’s done quietly, in deepest shadows, and with great creativity; by many who smile and greet Rulisqer with great satisfaction in the protection he gives them.
North of Ravens Bluff, New Hope is a small community of Halflings striving hard to feed the multitudes of hungry city dwellers. Founded based on visions given to many of the ‘Bluff’s clerics, and built with the combined funds of many temples, the village is centered around a fortified temple of Arvoreen the Defender, and features many secured silos and warehouses within its halls.
A very sleepy farming center, Orlimmin lies just north of a rough plateau that is dotted with gravel pits that supply nearby Ravens Bluff and Tantras. The pits are rumored to contain caches of treasure and the bodies of not a few thieves and brigands that double-crossed their comrades one too many times.
Consisting of a few fishermen’s’ homes and a single nameless tavern gathered around a shallow, sheltered port, Portsoy is little but a wide spot on the little-used coastal trail from Ravens Bluff to Procampur.
Procampur is the richest of the sister-cities of the Vast, with a history stretching far into the past. It’s a passive city now, known for its strictly regimented society, committment to law, order and civilized behavior, and devotion to all things academic. Sages, historians and bards abound within the city, along with students, researchers, and experimentalists. It’s also often remarked that Procampur is where adventurers in the Vast go to retire. The city is divided into eight districts that are strictly regimented, not by social class, but by what activities are decreed allowed within each district. The districts are distinguished by the color tile rooftops: blue for the Sea District, the Services District is yellow, roofs of silver for the Noble District, gold roofs the Castle District, black roofs grace the Temple District, while sea green colors the Merchant District, red roofs dominate the Adventurers District, and no color differentiates the Poor District. City buildings, including Diamond Guard barracks, are roofed in white, which set them apart in all the districts.
Likely the most famous city in the Vast, Ravens Bluff has become a focal point for adventurers and those who serve them. Ravens Bluff has developed a reputation for gathering ‘everything from everywhere’ rivaling Waterdeep. The ‘Bluff, as it’s affectionately known by locals, sits at the mouth of the Fire River on a well developed delta port. Traders from around the Sea of Fallen Stars exchange goods, and those goods end up across the face of the Realms, and sometimes even in other lands, or even planes. Ravens Bluff works hard to accept and protect any and all who would trade peaceably. Only slavery and goods that would violate the safety and well-being of the ‘Bluff or her citizens are proscribed.
Surrounded by a fertile river valley, the River Vesper runs placidly from the High Country across the Vast to merge with the Dragon Reach surrounded by the dark city of Calaunt. The river is wide and serene, navigable nearly the entire breadth of the Vast. The gentle valley around it, however, is not nearly as serene; orcs, bandits, soldiers and worse often use the river valley for an easy path to the coast, with little risk of getting lost or seen.
Once an important watch-keep at the mouth of Elvenblood Pass, Sarbreenar is now a small hamlet gathered around the obelisk the dwarven King Tuir Stonebeard raised over the burial mound of the elvish hero Beluar and his riders. Little of the keep remains, and there’s little else here to draw attention. A decent inn, The Merry Mage, and a wheelwright catering to wagons going through the pass, are perhaps the most important businesses to travelers. The misty, hidden farm valleys full of goats and sheep around the town certainly don’t attract much attention on their own.
Once much larger and much more important, Sendrin was a city of magic when Savras was patron of mages and seers. Much of the city still remains, slowly and patiently falling to ruin as a crossroads town now known for its basket weavers, furniture makers, and livestock ranchers. Among the broken stone buildings, stores and homes stands The Blasted Wizard, Sendrin’s most noted inn, sits in front of the site of Savras’ temple, now a blasted crater that is still credited with powers too odd to be credible – including an enchanted head of the lost god the size of a wagon that grants wishes and heals the hopelessly ill for no more price than whispered words of magic it did not already know.
Sevenecho exists because it’s a convenient place for local farmers to gather and trade with merchants and travelers who stop to water and rest their horses. Sevenecho persists because of The Worried Wyvern Inn, her owner, Beliost, and his kin – over half the population of this small hamlet. The Wyvern is considered nearly the equal of [[The Wizard's Hand Inn | The Wizard’s Hand]] in [[Maskyr’s Eye]], known for its jovial host, and the multitude of beers brewed by Beliost and his sons, in very good-humored competition.
Swords Pool is a mist-shrouded dell notable for its high-quality inn, [[The Nine Swords Inn | The Nine Swords]], and the legendary treasure for which the inn is named. Having outlived the wizard who cast the spell, and the companions for whom the spell was cast, the legend states that if the right words are spoken oven the deep, dark pool across the road from the inn, nine blades of immense magical power will rise dripping from the water, waiting for mortal hands to take them up once more. What those seven words are, or what the powers of the blades may be, no one knows. Otherwise, the sisters Millicot, owners of the inn, bid everyone welcome as they pass through.
Another of the great sister-cities of the Vast, Tantras is a rambling city of traders and temples with a poor but serviceable port. Founded by ‘humans and other silly folk’ denied a place in Sarbreen by the dwarves, Tantras rose simply by the luck and drive of those silly humans. Tantras, already famous as a city over-endowed with temples, became know throughout Faerun as the city where Torm died killing Bane during the [[The Time of Troubles | Time of Troubles]], leading to the shallow [[Dead Magic Zone | magic-dead]] crater north-east of town that remains to this day. Now the leading site of Tormish worship, but still well populated with temples to gods good and otherwise, Tantras does well in trade, catering to those who prefer to deal in the shadows of the gods.
Tavilar stands in the shadows of the southern edge of the [[The Flooded Forest | Flooded Forest]], crouched and defiant against the trolls, dragon and other horrors that prowl the rotting glades and glens. Within walls cloaked in wet leather, and topped by spear-spiked roofs, the people of Tavilar may seem dour, but are quick to laugh and fast to relax behind barred doors at night, enjoying rousing dances, enchanting and funny stories and tales, and endless rounds of jokes, puns, and harmless pranks that bring light and life to their hard existence. Tavilar was once, not long ago, home to a band of merry adventuresses called The Turning Key; the survivors settled elsewhere after tragedy reduced their number by three-quarters. The hamlet could do with another adventuring company to settle in.
Thindilar, the first village south of Viperstongue Ford, is a busy meeting place for rural artisans and crafters who prefer not to live any closer to Calaunt, or any other city for that matter. Many traders and merchants pass through here even if it’s out of their way, in order to fill any extra space their packs, carts or wagons might have with the finely hand-crafted items that turn up for trade regularly here.
Three Trees Pass was named for the three great trees that once stood in the pass – one at each end of the pass, and the third that stood in the middle. Claimed long ago by the [[Strahd Noble Family | Strahd noble family]], the land within the pass is known as Marovia, and is settled by a small village overlooked by [[Strahd Keep | Strahd Keep]] – a great castle built upon a mountain crag overlooking the whole pass. Wet and green nearly year around due to runoff and shade from the mountains, Three Trees Pass is often mist-shrouded and quiet. The Vistani gypsy clans often camp within the pass, free to come and go as they please due to some ancient pact with the Strahds. Of the Strahds themselves, almost nothing is known any more; the last generations have been disturbingly reclusive. Rumors even say that there have been no more generations – the last Baron living long past his due because of dark and unwise magics.
Tsurlagol, known as "The Gateway to the Unapproachable East," is the last and smallest of [[Ravens Bluff | Ravens Bluff's]] sister cities. A prosperous port city, Tsurlagol is built on the piled ruins of at least 20 previous cities built on this site. Taking the long view when raided by orcs from inland, pirates from the sea, or any other interlopers and invaders from wherever else they may come from, Tsurlagians know they can outlast any reaper, and return to rebuild their homes and lives after the ruffians are long gone. Unlike any other port in the Vast, pirates and smugglers are welcome in this open port, as long as they leave their habits and feuds outside the harbor and city boundaries. The city has only three temples: a temple to Selune known as [[The Rising Moon Temple | The Rising Moon]], opposed openly by Shar’s [[The Cult of Shadows Temple | Cult of Shadows temple]], with [[The Battering Wave Temple | The Battering Wave]], Umberlee’s temple, trying not to be caught in the middle.
Viperstongue Ford is a strategic ford on the otherwise deep and wide River Vesper, just south of a narrow but easily travelled pass through the Troll Mountains. Countless settlements and strategic fortifications have been attempted at the Ford, but all have fallen in the innumerable battles that occur here. The only standing, successful structure is the well-fortified and defended Stag and Viper Inn, which was once the headquarters of the Mistdown Marauders adventuring band.