The Fallen Lands
Sages, cartographers, and explorers once wrote extensively regarding the area long known as the Fallen Lands—a last remnant of Netheril that once lay along the western edge of the desert known as Anauroch. Then the Spellplague came, thrusting this area into great upheaval and leaving much of this territory shrouded in mystery. Although the lands of the Gray Vale beyond the Graypeak Mountains, including the towns of Loudwater and Llorkh, stand as an island of civilization in the vicinity, the Fallen Lands remain a forbidding place.
This area, roughly comprising the territory south of the Far Forest, north of the Graypeak Mountains, and east of the Deep Maw, is crisscrossed by ridges of low foothills, dotted with scrubby stands of pine and barren plateaus. Craters, fissures, and fault lines make navigation and orientation difficult. Sheer ridges force travellers along endless twisting paths, and the fractured topography makes good vantage points few and far between. Rain is rare in the summer and sporadic in other seasons, but the Fallen Lands are by no means a desert. Small streams (tributaries of the Delimbiyr River) are common even in the height of summer. Winter sees a light dusting of snow but only the occasional blizzard or heavy snowfall. The Fallen Lands, as they exist in the aftermath of the Spellplague, remain largely unexplored, but here are a few facts every traveller knows.
- Somewhere near the centre of the Fallen Lands stands Stormkeep, a mysterious castle surrounded by magical squalls of electricity that never dissipate.
- Orcs and goblins live in scattered bands throughout the region. They mostly war against each other, though different tribes occasionally unite under a single banner to raid over the Graypeaks and strike the frontier communities of the Gray Vale.
- Travel by day is reasonably safe, although particularly bold bandits sometimes menace travellers who don’t appear capable of defending themselves.
- Some explorers speak of a site known as the Plateau of the Reverse Obelisks, which they say is safe to approach and travel through by day. In fact, the denizens of the Fallen Lands grant this area a wide berth, making it perhaps the safest part of the journey to Spellgard. However, it is unwise (if not downright foolhardy) to make camp or spend the night anywhere near this place.
- Spellgard lies atop a ridge at the eastern edge of the Fallen Lands. Its ruins are visible from miles away on a clear day.
- Spellgard was once known as Saharelgard, a great fortress of ancient Netheril. It is home to Lady Saharel, a ghost who has the gift of prophecy and insight. She speaks of the future or the past to anyone who chances upon her in the Spellgard ruins.
- At the edge of Spellgard stands the Monastery of the Precipice. Treasure-hunters and seekers after Lady Saharel congregate there.
- Beyond the accepted facts are the following rumours that one or more of the player characters might have heard.
- The Monastery of the Precipice trades whiskey distilled on the premises for food and sundries supplied by dwarf merchants.
- Orcs are on the march across the Fallen Lands. They are set to seize Spellgard within a month, seeking weapons and magic with which they will assault the settlements of the Gray Vale.
- Three weeks ago, a widowed noble came to the Monastery of the Precipice, saying that Lady Saharel had told her where to find her lost husband’s body. She was intending to hire mercenaries to retrieve it so she could give it a proper burial.
- A half-finished castle in the Fallen Lands is haunted by the ghost of the lord who died before it could be finished.
- The great treasures of Spellgard were taken from the place years ago, in the final days of Low Netheril when the fortress was sacked. However, rumours persist of undisturbed chambers there, and of ancient relics that have not seen the light of day for centuries.
- Spellgard has lain in ruins for more than a thousand years, but the castle has never been truly abandoned. A shifting population of treasure hunters and prophecy seekers occupy the aboveground ruins, and the old tunnels beneath the site are home to kobolds and fouler creatures.
- In the middle of Spellgard is the Scepter Tower, one of the few structures of the old castle that still stands complete. Mystery and legend surround the Scepter Tower, and it is said that no living being can pass within its walls.
- The magic of Netheril lingers within the stones of Spellgard. Before the castle fell, its arcanists focused incalculable power within the Scepter Tower, and the chambers of old Saharelgard were warded by magic locks that no one could defeat.
- Dark rumours have come down from the Monastery of the Precipice with the most recent dwarven caravans. Though the Spellgard ruins have always been a dangerous place, a dark presence is said to have established itself there in recent weeks. More than a few of the so-called seekers who look for Lady Saharel have disappeared in the ruins, never to be heard from or seen again.
- Not all who look for Lady Saharel make the Monastery of the Precipice their base of operations in Spellgard. Seeker camps dot the ruins, and some of their residents are as dangerous as any monsters roaming the Fallen Lands.