Valley of the Mage
Proper Name: Valley of the Mage
Ruler: His Most Magical Authority, the Exalted Mage of the Valley and Laird of the Domain, Jaran Krimeeah (status unknown—N? male human? Wiz20+)
Government: Magical despotism
Major Towns: Vinestrong (pop. 1,000), Moonhollow (pop. 900), Darkglade (pop. 1,500) and Woodsdeep (pop. 600)
Population: 10,000—Human 37% (OBf), Elf 25% (valley), Gnome 18%, Halfling 10%, Half-elf 5%, Other 5%
Languages: Unknown, but Common is likely; racial languages supposed (Elven and Gnome for certain)
Enemies: Geoff exiles, Bissel, Gran March, Knights of the Watch, Keoland (minor), Sterich (minor), Circle of Eight, nearly all other elves across the Flanaess Important Figures: Nyeru Darkspring (NE male human Necromancer L12+), Ellerxeris, Commandant of the Valley Elves; (N male valley elf Wizard L3/ Fighter L6/ Arcane Archer L4), Jakar Whitewing (N male human Druid L18+), Endoble Mistikmore (NG male rock gnome Illusionist L11), Simius of the Tree People (CG male human Barbarian L4), Summerstorm Nightwind (CN male valley elf Cleric of Beory L9), Tyslin San, First Protector (CN female drow elf Wizard L15+), Gremas Windspring (N male rock gnome Bard L9).
Geography: The Exalted Vale of the Mage or Valley of the Mage lies hidden within the central Barrier Peaks mountain range, concealing within its confines the source and headwaters of the Javan River. The only natural passage through the surrounding wall of mountains lies near the northern end of the valley. The only egress from the valley is a small 30 mile across opening on the southeastern side, a days’ ride from the Dim Forest. From here the river exits, flowing beneath the trees of the Dim Forest. This lush valley is one of the most naturally isolated realms in the Flanaess.
The Vale of The Mage is surrounded by the neighboring states of Bissel, the Gran March, and the Duchy of Geoff. Across the Barrier Peaks to the west are Ull and the Plains of the Paynims. The Vale covers roughly 17,500-square-miles, though it longest point is nearly 260 miles. While its’ widest is a mere 90 miles.
The Vale of the Mage set within a flat plain, and the elevation of the vale at the entrance across from the Dim Forest is only slightly lower than the elevation at its northern or western boundaries where it intersects the Barrier Peaks. The primary soil type of the area is a heavy fertile clay that dominates the riverbank areas of the Javan River, while there are others further away from the riverbanks
Winding through the Vale is the Javan River, which begins in the Barrier Peaks and meanders through the valley exiting betwixt the Dim Forest. The river acts as a transportation source, provides food and fresh water for the denizens of the valley. The Javan River is also known for its breathtaking falls near where the Barrier Peaks and the valley meet.
There are many streams and canals within the valley, all of which begin or feed from the Javan River. In addition to this, there are half a dozen small lakes close to the base of the Peaks.
The Vale is known to set upon a small fault line that occasionally creates small tremors that can be felt throughout the Barrier Peaks all the way to the edges of the Dim Forest. Though, these quakes are quite very rare.
Overview: The Vale of the Mage has long been an area of mystery and mystique in the Flaneass. Many sages purport that the valley itself sits upon arcane ley-lines that boost the inhabitants’ magical abilities or that permit or inhibit the use of certain spells within the valleys confines. Whatever the reason, the Vale of the Mage remains a secluded area within the Flanaess that not even the mightiest of archmages has yet to delve.
The Vale of the Mage is well defended, with patrols going through many of the areas hourly. The Barrier Peaks also provide a formidable barrier to those trying to traverse them. While the entrance to the valley near the Dim Forest is heavily guarded, with full-time patrols and hourly back-up patrols. Few are brave enough to enter the dread vale; various expeditions have met with threats or have never returned from their endeavors. It is a land; rumored to be teeming with treasures guarded by monstrous inhabitants
Valley elves patrol the entrance, often in force, and gnomes are sometimes found among their ranks. These patrols are comprised entirely of infantry, usually wearing chainmail or studded leather, and armed with longsword and bow. The tenor of encounters with these elves is highly variable; sometimes they are wont to attack immediately, while at other times the elves turn back intruders with only a warning. The patrols do not seem to be highly disciplined or organized, and the elves are just as unpredictable when encountered outside the Valley.
For the past several decades, the sovereign that is said to rule here is known as the Mage of the Vale, or the Black One also known as Jaran Krimeah. The Vale of the Mage is not considered a threat to the surrounding nations for its inhabitants tend to keep to themselves. However, neighbors of the dim vale remain frightened of the power that is rumored to rest in the hands of its inhabitants and their master, The Black One.
His court has no formal relationship with any other government, though he is suspected of maintaining a ring of spies in several cities in the neighboring realms. There is almost no trade, either; it is thought that the Black One prefers to send his servants on errands of theft and banditry instead. Henchmen of the Mage that were captured have either escaped or wasted away, dying if not allowed to return to their master.
Little is else is known of the Mage or the interior conditions of his domain. Those who have traveled there describe passing from under the deep shadows of the Dim Forest, through a wide gap in the mountains, to find a warm and fertile countryside within, with few inhabitants. The broad northern basin is grassy and pleasant, while the high southern valley is rocky and tree covered. Little apparent danger is here during the day. Nightfall in the valley is quite sudden, and the landscape comes alive with monstrous predators. It is not known if these are conjured in response to trespassers or are hazards for the subjects of the Mage as well. It may be that serving the Mage of the Valley is as perilous as opposing him.
Climate: The Vale of the Mage falls into a temperate climate zone. Though, it rarely experiences the harsh extremes in temperature as its surrounding nations. The valley is quite well known for its permeating fogs and for its heavy amount of rainfall during the spring. During the summer the temperature barely reaches over 80 degrees. While the winter months temperatures barely drop below 40 degrees. While snow is infrequent it can occur during the month of Sunsebb on rare occasions.
Races of the Vale:
Resources: The Vale of the Mage is rich in mineral deposits, especially along the base of the Barrier Peaks. The mountain dwarves mine deposits closer to the surface for iron, silver, and platinum along the mountain base, while the gnomes mine tunnel further for iron and silver deeper within the vale.
The dwarves retain much of their mineral wealth, only selling it to those they trust, some of it to merchants and metalsmiths in neighboring countries. The gnomes make high-quality jewelry, objects of art, weapons, and household gadgets and utensils from the metals, offering a small portion in tribute to The Black One.
The Vale is also well-known for rare herbs, spell components, its exquisite lumber, coal, copper, and small quantities of crystals.
Prehistory: Roughly 4000-5000 years ago, a force of unknown origins created a minor planar bleed within the Dim forest. Whether this was a conflict among the lizardfolk, the gith or even the illithids cannot be discerned. What is known is that the Dim Forest became an area permeated by the essence of the Plane of Shadow and many of its denizens.
After several lost expeditions, the local grey elven overseers realized that this was more than their meager resources could handle. These overseers sought to contain the evil therein and so tasked the Valley Elves with this responsibility; thereby creating the first Dusk Keepers of the Dim Forest.
After several hundred years of faithful service, the Valley Elven King went to Celene himself to formally demand the court to stop playing faerie mysteries games and do something about this menace. The grey elves of the Fey Court of Celene, disregarded the Valley Elven King, and ordered him back to his “station”. In anger, her Fey Majesty ordered the Valley Elves to cease protecting the Dim Forest and moved on to more pressing matters within her court. Infuriated by this complete lack of regard for a threat bordering their kingdom, the Valley Elf King refused the order and declared war on his elven kin. After several decades of conflict the Valley Elven army was forced to concede outside the Dim Forest, and by the order of Her Fey Majesty was exiled from her Kingdom for starting a war against all elvenkind. Should they attempt to return to the elven lands it would be under pain of death.
History: This secluded vale has always been avoided by the common folk of nearby lands. Even in ancient times, it was felt to be dominated by an awful and foreboding presence. The valley was known to be the habitation of a strange race of olve, who viewed all other elves with disdain. The valley elves were once ruled by a king of their race who held his authority under the guise of a transcendent calling, though no deity was ever evoked by name. The valley elves were equally aloof in their relationship to the natural world, and they felt no reverence for the mysteries of faerie. All other elves abhor the valley elves, claiming they are not true elves at all, and shun them utterly.
The valley elves were rejected not only by all other olvenfolk, but also by the gods of their race. No outsider has ever discovered the cause of this divine renunciation, and the elves will not speak of it. The drow hint that the valley elves allowed themselves to be bound in servitude to a powerful master, in exchange for knowledge from beyond the known planes. For this the drow despise them, saying that they were made slaves to a lie, while the drow believe that lies should be used only to enslave others. Regardless of the cause, the rift between the valley elves and their kindred is thought to date back to their earliest appearance on Oerth.
The valley elves were not completely friendless, however. They formed a partnership with gnome traders that allowed them access to markets as far away as the Pomarj and the Nyr Dyv. Gnomes lived as citizens of the valley kingdom even before the first grand duke reigned in Geoff. By the time the Keoish built their empire, humans from the lands west of the Barrier Peaks had immigrated to the Javan Vale. They were allowed to form their own small communities, under a human earl who ruled in the name of the valley elf king. They were expected to learn the elves’ language, but the combined influence of humans and gnomes in the vale soon made Common the language of daily use.
Few beyond the neighboring countries were aware of the hidden valley kingdom in the Barrier Peaks. The Grand Duchy of Geoff had the most regular relations with the court of the valley elf king, though merchants from Bissel and Ket quietly maintained contact with the gnome traders who served the king. When Geoff had its brief conflict with Keoland in the middle of the last century, the valley elves were said to have helped the grand duke’s cause by providing information on Keoish tactics and resources. This relationship seems to have persisted until at least the end of the last century, despite vigorous and heated protests by the High Lord of Elvendom at Hocholve.
The most notable encounter with the valley elves occurred shortly after the turn of this century, when the elven king arrived unexpectedly at the grand duke’s castle in Gorna. The king brought his entire royal house into the country, unchallenged by either the duke’s forces or the elves of eastern Geoff. The valley elf king and his retinue were allowed to enter the city, and the king was granted a private audience with the grand duke. The following dawn, the king and his retinue departed, and the host of valley elves was observed traveling southward into the Crystalmists, never to be seen again. The grand duke was left with an oaken chest, several scrolls, and the final words of the valley elf king, which he revealed only to his heir.
Afterward, no contact was had with the valley until an exiled Aerdi wizard named Jaran Krimeeah, also called the Black One, learned of its existence and made himself master of the place. Marauding monsters had taken a heavy toll on the human communities, though the remaining gnomes and valley elves had defended themselves. Jaran magically restrained these summoned monsters and was hailed as the Mage of the Valley. He ruled for a number of decades, assuming great power over the vale and its inhabitants. One of his last public acts was to place a rogue drow elf in command of the valley’s forces. Access to the valley was soon forbidden to all outsiders. During this time, the Mage acquired the antipathy of the wizard Drawmij, who joined the Circle of Eight and directed certain plots against him.
For nearly twenty years prior to the Greyhawk Wars, there was no contact with the Valley of the Mage. When giants from the Crystalmists swept down into Geoff and Sterich, these nations appealed to Keoland for aid and sent a small deputation to beg assistance from the Mage of the Valley. Against all hope, they were allowed inside the valley and given audience with the Black One—or so they at first believed. When the aid-seekers were introduced to the Mage, one within the group recognized him as an exiled necromancer, Nyeru of Bissel. Wisely, this discovery was never revealed to the ersatz Black One. Negotiations continued for several weeks with no real progress, until the marauding giants of the Crystalmists found their way into the valley.
The ambassadors fled while the Mage’s troops moved south to face the giants. Escaping from the valley, the group made a harrowing journey down the Javan River to freedom. They could not return to Gorna, so most of the group gathered at Hocholve, where the elven high lord was very interested in their tale. At the conclusion of the Greyhawk Wars, stories were circulated that the Mage of the Valley had been killed, though there were no actual witnesses to his demise. Those with the most knowledge of the valley’s history believe that the Mage will yet return—unless some other being comes to claim that title.
Conflicts and Intrigues: No sightings of the Mage have been reported since the Greyhawk Wars, but the drow seneschal still has authority there. The Mage was known to be interested in exploring the so-called Demiplane of Shadows. The last claimed sighting of the archmage Philidor placed him near the entrance to the valley. The archmages Rary and Mordenkainen were said to have sponsored rival adventuring parties to the valley—both suffering high casualties.