"Seven petty warlords locked in a ridiculous game of
territorial disputes, political intrigue and double-crossings that has no end."
- Stuart Greshin, Duke of Sarakor, Rukemia
"Why is this place called the War Vale? Because history has a long memory..."
Vasillik the Wise, Advisor to Duke Anthar
|Proper Name||The Federated Duchies of War Vale|
|Ruler||None (See below).|
|Demographics||Human 63%, Grum 14%, Dwarven 8%, Orc 7%, Ogre 5%, Elven 2%, Saurian 1%|
|Languages||Rukemian 60%, Grumman 30%, Northern 5%, Southern 5%|
|National Colors||Green, red and black|
|Natural Resources||Sheep, horses, pigs, cattle, goats, grapes, precious stones.|
|Manufactured Goods and Major Exports||Salted pork and beef, mutton, wool textiles, wine and brandy, dairy products, and cut precious stones.|
|Government Stability||Unstable - Subtle political cloak and dagger games between the barons are common|
|Allies||Rukemia, Ormek, Mercia|
|Technology Level||Middle Ages|
|Other Religions||Barrinor, Vorkayne, Sarreth, Kael, Mireldokar, Glavyris, Daramis, Farzak, The Three Fates, Drenmoragin|
|Approximate Land Area||840,000 square kilometers|
|Terrain||River valley, hills, grasslands, some forest|
Also known as the Valley of Tears, as this area has historically been the site of great battles. Now, this small nation is divided up into seven duchies. As a whole the area is ruled as a subordinate kingdom by the Empire. These seven duchies are loosely united under one flag, but only by the strength of the Empire. Old feuds and border conflicts still flare up. However, this region is beginning to discover its own sense of identity.
The War Vale is essentially one long river valley which runs several hundred kilometers south from the Falkir Clans down to Romler Bay. Flanking the river is a broad expanse of rolling hills dotted with small forests and lakes. Numerous towns and villages are sprinkled throughout this valley. The Sentinel Mountains border the War Vale on the west and these mountains can be seen from almost all of this region. The War Vale enjoys a warm, temperate climate, abundant rain fall and a good growing season. Excellent grasslands provide very good grazing in the south end of the valley while fertile fields abound in the north.
The War Vale is an old region and has been thoroughly domesticated like the empire. Livestock is important to the economy of the War Vale, most especially, horses, pigs and sheep. Larrin's fowl are bred here as well. Burrow hounds, sentinel scorpions and wolves occasionally keep the local militias alert. The War Vale has some excellent vineyards and dozens of variant species of grapes and berries. Virgin herb can be found here in small quantities. The Ill Fate Orchid is exceptionally rare, but several have been found in the region of the War Vale.
This region was known as Alashton, one of the provinces of the great Thullian empire in ages past. As it was a border province and lay between the Thullian Empire and the Traxx Legion, it was heavily travelled. Merchant caravans, diplomats and pilgrims were common on the roads between these two great nations. At the intersection of a major road and the river, the small village of Gathos grew into a major town.
It has often been said that the War Vale has been cursed by the gods to be burdened with naught but misfortune and misery. For this reason the place has also been known for centuries as the Vale of Tears. It's history of woe is lengthy and diverse. When the Sundering hit, this region was devastated by the most severe of land quakes. Thousands died as castles collapsed and towers toppled. The World Storm raged for a full year and subsided, but the respite was brief. In the first year after the World Storm ended, there were several clashes between Traxxian and Thullian forces which occurred within this region. As the Great War got going, the first years were the bloodiest and some of the heaviest fighting occurred here. It was these early conflicts which actually gave this region its name.
In 46 CY, the Great Quake struck... a landquake that shook the realms with such fury that most believed the world would split. Many towers and castles here collapsed.
Years passed as the political situation between the super nations shifted back and forth between paranoid truces and open hostilities.
In 70 CY, the remaining members of the Alliance took refuge at the home of their leader, Alrem Evarel, a great fortress known as Karaguin which lay near the border here.
In 74 CY, Thullian forces surrounded Karaguin and the castle was laid siege followed quickly by the Battle of Bone Hill. The Alliance was scattered and Alrem Evarel.
In 89 CY, the Thullian capital city of Bekai fell. It was a major blow to the Empire but not the end of the war.
In 115, a huge group of refugees from the Thullian Empire interior, escaping the chaos therein, migrated to the War Vale.
In 212 CY, the lord mayer of Gathos, a noble named Branard Herroth III, gathered political support from the surrounding towns and organized the remnants of the shattered province into a rudimentary kingdom.
In 331 CY, Gren Herroth, great grandson of Branard, assumed the throne. The fledgling nation was known as the Kingdom of the Vale at the time and had gained in strength.
In 372 CY, King Gren was assassinated in a bloody political coup which fractured the kingdom. Within three years of his death, the kingdom had dissolved into more than a dozen independent city-states ruled by petty, bickering warlords. The region settled into an uneasy stalemate. For the next few hundred years, these city-states traded with each other, occasionally made war with each other and, when necessary, united against common outside threats. During this period of history, the region was known as the "Cities of the Vale". Each city-state was ruled by a self crowned "Prince" from a central town and had control over its immediate surroundings and all the villages therein.
In 658 CY, the ogres and orcs descended from the mountains and captured the Citadel. With this victory, they began rebuilding the once great Citadel and began a campaign of hostility against the Irenni League. These events did not go unnoticed by the Cities of the Vale. Many of the towns became nervous at the increasing strength of the power of the Citadel and its armies. Many towns pointed out that if the Cities of the Vale was within striking distance of the Citadel hordes and were vulnerable. Within a few months, refugees began arriving from the north and east, displaced by the war.
In 661 CY, the towns began hosting annual meetings in the town of Gathos. At these annual meetings, many things were discussed, ranging from grazing rights and border disputes to military readiness and fortification of defenses. This marked a beginning of more open cooperation and respect between the city-states.
In 689 CY, the Irenni League lost the infamous Battle of Seven Hills to a vast host of orc and ogre soldiers. Many Irenni heroes died in the tragic defeat. This stunning defeat weakened the Irenni League and shifted military strength in the north.
Alarmed by the escalating power of the Citadel and its hordes, the next annual meeting at Gathos focused on a unification of the Cities of the Vale. In the spring of 690 CY, proposals were put forth to formally unite all of the city-states. Much debate followed, but too many of the princes dissented and no consensus could be reached. Each city-state began making plans on its own, although Gathos and several others began working on pact. A number of the city-states began to merge for mutual protection.
In the fall of 690 CY, the city-state of Charay, furthest to the northwest and closest to the Citadel, was wiped out by a host of orcs. Several of its villages were burned. The town of Aremor were sacked and its Prince was killed. It is not clear whether these orcs were from the Citadel or some rogue band of mercenaries. They bore a sigil not affiliated with the Citadel. In any event, the loss of a major town and bands of orcs freely traversing through their lands sparked panic in the remaining states.
In the winter of 690-691, there were several minor clashes with small war bands of orcs and ogres. A number of killings, disappearances and incidents of livestock theft were attribated to small bands of rogue mercenaries and orcish bandits. These events further inflamed fears.
The spring of 691 CY, the princes of the remaining city-states came together again for the annual meeting in Gathos. There, the proposal for unification was ratified and the Kingdom of Vale was officially founded. By almost unanimous vote, Prince Arik Leringard was crowned and assumed the throne. Several of the old city-states merged together . The result was a single kingdom divided into seven newly formed duchies.
In 771 CY, a revolt among high ranking officers against the nobility of the Traxx Legion led to a full scale military coup. The ruling nobility were executed and the Legion collapsed into dozens of separate political and military entities that began fighting for control. It was not long before refugees from the Legion began trickling into the Kingdom of the Vale. This influx of refugees led to the establishment of new villages and a general expansion of the territory of the Kingdom of the Vale.
The Kingdom of the Vale was strong and stable for several centuries. The line of Kings of Leringard remained strong and unbroken until 1251 CY. During that summer, the King fell ill. Rumors suggested poison or dark magic. In any case, during his long illness, it was discovered that the Queen had been unfaithful to him and the King's son was a bastard. As the king's health failed, the seven dukes struggled for the throne even while some nobles supported the bastard prince. In the end, General Belgar, leader of the Vale Army, slew the Prince and claimed the throne, quite literally, at sword point.
Outraged at this, Duke Vesoph of Gathos, with many supporters and the city militia, overthrew General Belgar soldiers and executed those military officers that had supported him. Vesoph then took the throne. The other Dukes, however, refused to acknowledge Veosph as King. Very quickly the Kingdom of the Vale dissolved. The seven duchies were all equally strong, none of them strong enough to dominate the others. And so, the region, once again, was divided. However, the balance between the duchies proved remarkably stable. The Seven Duchies of the War Vale have coexisted relatively peacefully since that time.
In 1783 CY, the Rukemian Empire, having grown in strength and political power, pressured the Seven Duchies to become part of the Empire. By balancing the threat of military action with more subtle methods of economic enticement, the Emperor was able to get the dukes to agreed to join the Rukemian Empire as a subordinate region. However, the Dukes also signed an "Pact of Federation" which assured that they would aid and defend each other in times of great need. From this year on, the region was officially known as the "Federated Duchies of the Vale", although to this day, in common speech, it is simply called "the War Vale". Like Kitar, Ormek and Mercia, the War Vale is subordinate to the Rukemian Empire and pays tribute and taxes to the latter. In exchange, each of these subordinate nations can expect military aid when needed and the favor of the Empire.
Throughout its turbulent history, the "War Vale" has earned its name.
The War Vale has no central government. The valley is divided up into seven small duchies, each of which serve the empire individually, often competing for Imperial attention and funding. Each duchy covers a specific region and is home to the individual duke's castle and several small villages. Each duchy is self ruled as it sees fit but also has an imperial representative. These imperial officials collect taxes and report to the Empire. Minor border conflicts, petty squabbles and age old blood feuds often flair up between the dukes.
The War Vale lacks a comprehensive "nation wide" legal system. Most conflicts are settled with armed confrontations. Occassionally, village elders or councils settled disagreements and solve crimes. Often the duke himself will step in to settle a matter. The Empire rarely intervenes. The duchies are usually left to resolve their own internal legal conflicts.
No central military exists. However, the War Vale has a multitude of village militias and each duke maintains a small fighting force. While mobile and skilled, these groups are small and rarely do the military forces of different duchies cooperate.
The War Vale has a fragmented economy with each duchy specializing in its own specific product or service. Over generations, these family businesses have refined their methods and are now producing goods of real quality.
A tragic history has brought the villagers, craftsman and warriors of the War Vale closer together. The commoners living in this once-ravaged land share a strong sense of brotherhood. Taverns resound with battle songs and bards tell tales of war. War is not a way of life here, but it is an accepted part of history. During the past thousand years, the Valley of Tears has solidified into these seven duchies. Despite petty land disputes between the dukes, the people of the War Vale are beginning to find a sense of community.
A common food item in the War Vale is a type of sausage called hafnush. It is made from beef, pork and coarse cut oats and a bit of lard. It is flavored with local herbs. The coarse cut oats gives hafnush a distinctive texture and flavor. It is extremely popular in throughout all duchies of the War Vale. It can also be found in other realms throughout eastern Ithria. However, the best hafnush is found only in the War Vale. Each duchy has a slightly different recipe for this traditional sausage.
Magic is a valuable commodity in the War Vale as it is else where in the world. Though the War Vale has no arcane schools itself, it does see wizards pass through regularly. Every Duke has a wizard who serves as "arcane advisor" in his court and each duchy typically has a few other wizards of appreciable talent. The dukes of the War Vale like nothing better than to spy on each other and squabble over land or taxes. Magic is often employed in this endless game of political chess.
|Ruler||Duke Eduard Anthar|
|Capital City||Iron Gate (Population 8,100)|
|Villages||Arstakar, Hillfort, Horn|
The duchy of Anthar is a peaceful group of dairy farms, cow herds and shepherds. As the northernmost duchy of the War Vale, Anthar is unofficially responsible for the safety of the lands in the north and defending the War Vale against Duthelmian incursions. For this reason, the villages of Arstakar, Hillfort and Horn maintain large militias. Iron Gate itself is a heavily fortified walled town with massive iron gates and a well-trained militia.
The noble duke of House Anthar, Duke Eduard Anthar, has three daughters. The eldest, Sara, was recently married off to Geoffrey, the eldest son of House Errlain. This was an arranged marriage and was hoped to end feuding between the two houses and to increase the status of House Anthar by associating with such a wealthy and respected duchy as House Errlain. However, Sara does not love Geoffrey and has endured a year of marriage with a vain and arrogant young man. She is, in fact, in love with the eldest son of the duchy of Kerraland and has been having an affair with him for several months. Recently, Sara found that she was with child (but was not sure whose it was) and ended the pregnancy by eating some Virgin Herb. Sara is quite distraught about the whole situation. Currently, she is biding her time and hopes to soon escape with her lover and flee to a distant land.
|Ruler||Duke James Cunnaway|
|Capital City||Thule (Population 6,600)|
|Villages||Blackstone, Blue River, Kaf|
The duchy of Cunnaway lies in the lowlands and its lands are home to pig farmers. Besides raising pigs, Cunnaway also brews their own ale, known as Cunnaway Stout. There exists a rivalry between Cunnaway Stout and the fine brandy produced by the duchy of Gaith. Duke Cunnaway is an enormously fat and jovial man who is father to a large family (six sons and four daughters). House Cunnaway is the poorest of the seven duchies and, because of this, a minor social rivalry exists between Cunnaway and Errlain. Once each year, Duke Cunnaway holds a grand outdoor feast at his small estate and invites hundreds from the local villages. Twenty five roast pigs are the main course of this celebration. Duke Cunnaway prepares his own specialty sauces which he unveils with great fanfare. (He fancies himself a connoisseur of fine food and is quite an accomplished cook). Many barrels of Cunnaway Stout are consumed along with the plates of steaming meat. During the celebration, Duke Cunnaway conducts the ritual washing of the feet in which the Duke gets down on hand and knee and washes the feet of seven commoners (chosen at random) with a bottle of Gaithian Brandy.
|Ruler||Duke Alexander Errlain|
|Capital City||Battle Ford (Population 6,300)|
|Villages||Bier, Raven, River Bend|
The duchy of Errlain is the wealthiest of the seven duchies and the Errlain family are, in most respects, quite arrogant about their social standing. Errlain is the favored duchy of the Empire (or so they often claim). Once each year in the fall, the Errlain family holds an extravagant ball and invites the social elite from the War Vale duchies and the Empire. House Errlain acquired their family fortune from the mining of precious gemstones. (Their ancestral lands hold veins of fire agate and deposits of blood opals.) In truth, the gem mines that have fueled Errlain luxury for so long have been exhausted. The family coffers are being emptied and debts are beginning to mount. This has, of course, been kept within the family. Lies and creative "book keeping" have hidden this secret so far. House Errlain still plays at being rich and holds their yearly ball, but this is a facade. In desperation, the eldest Errlain son, Geoffrey, has been married off to the daughter of Duke Anthar. This was done in hopes of gaining additional funds (a lucrative dowry) and additional financial stability, although this was kept from House Anthar. In addition to the marriage, other plots have been hatched to save the family. Feuding between Errlain and Inbador has been a matter of historical fact. Recently, Errlain invaded an Inbador forest land and drove out the native Inbador villagers. Inbador, not having the resources to counter the attack, appealed to the Empire. Unfortunately, the Empire sided with Errlain. (Some bribery was undoubtedly involved). Errlain hoped to take advantage of the newly claimed forest land by logging and possible mining it. However, instead of finding veins of usable minerals, House Errlain discovered a large portion of ancient (possibly Pre-Sundering) ruins. Excavation has begun and several interesting artifacts have already been dug up. House Errlain hopes that the excavation of this site may help refill their coffers.
|Ruler||Duke Eamon Gaith|
|Capital City||Stone Court (Population 6,300)|
|Villages||Crown Lake, Elk Ford, Glamorg|
The duchy of Gaith has much farmland including several large vineyards. Besides several good red wines, this duchy is famed for the distillation of Gaithian brandy, an exceptionally smooth and full-bodied brandy made from a blend of several Gaithian grape wines and spices. Gaithian brandy is considered by many to be the finest drink to be had. The Emperor himself is said to favor this delicacy (a fact of which House Gaith is extremely proud). House Gaith looks down upon House Cunnaway and holds them in contempt. The "washing of the feet" ceremony that Duke Cunnaway holds each year infuriates Duke Gaith to no end and some say that it is only a matter of time before Duke Gaith carries out his revenge.
|Ruler||Duke Morgain Inbador|
|Capital City||Gathos (Population 24500)|
|Villages||Authee, Noshilv, Tessan|
The family of Morgain Inbador is said to have some elvish blood and this may well be true as the people of this duchy have slim builds and beautiful faces. The duchy of Inbador is a land of woodsmen. However, rather than simply clearcut whole stretches of land, they thin the forests gradually and always plant four saplings for each mature tree they cut down. House Inbador is very bitter about the loss of a large stretch of their forest lands, more so than House Errlain realizes. Inbador has lost not just a beautiful forest, but a tract of what they consider their ancestral home. The duchy of Errlain will strip the forests and rape the land with their mining and Duke Inbador knows this. He is desperate to reclaim his forested valley, but does not have the strength for a direct confrontation with Errlain. House Errlain does not yet know it, but they have unwittingly reignited a blood feud with House Inbador and Inbador is seeking a powerful ally who can aid them.
|Ruler||Duke Duroc Kerraland|
|Capital City||Greenhills (Population 2,900)|
|Villages||Centoki, Maurilin, Vorgin|
The duchy of Kerraland is an area of grassy rolling foothills and home to a family of horse ranchers who have been carefully breeding the best steeds for many generations. It is in this duchy that the Kerran breed is raised, considered the finest breed of horse in all the east. The eldest Kerran son, Michael, is having a passionate love affair with Sara, eldest daughter of House Anthar. Michael, who loves Sara very much and does not wish to stay on his family's land, plans on running away with Sara to the distant west. So far, the affair has remained secret, but the two have taken dangerous chances with messengered letters and wilderness rendezvous. While his son romances another duke's daughter, Duke Kerran is involved in a dispute with the duchy of Morrow regarding grazing rights of certain grasslands which border between the two duchies.
|Ruler||Duke Karajan Morrow|
|Capital City||Drachens Bluff (Population 2,200)|
|Villages||Delvarius, Hannemyr, Pithen|
The duchy of Morrow is a land of sheep herders. House Morrow raises sheep, harvests the wool and makes a number of fine garments. Some is traded to the empire. The family estate is in the southern foothills bordering the Pacey river. House Morrow rules several tiny villages that tend the large flocks of sheep. Morrow is currently involved in a bitter dispute of grazing rights on certain lands that border between House Morrow and House Kerraland.
The War Vale runs north and south along the Green River Valley. The river is navigable for most of its length to a variety of boats and small ships and so river traffic is a major part of travel throughout the War Vale. Although the duchies compete with each other for almost everything, none of them have yet taken on the expense to pave their roads. For more information, see the Travel and Distance page.
|Typical Travel Time|
|Iron Gate - Crossroads||Dirt Road||358 km||16 days||12 days||7 days|
|Iron Gate - Battleford||Dirt Road||355 km||15 days||12 days||7 days|
|Iron Gate - Gathos||Dirt Road||282 km||12 days||9 days||6 days||4 days|
|Iron Gate - Thule||Dirt Road||249 km||11 days||8 days||5 days|
|Thule - Gathos||Dirt Road||230 km||10 days||8 days||5 days||4 days|
|Thule - Ale Creek||Dirt Road||518 km||22 days||17 days||10 days|
|Thule - Bone Hill (ruins)||Plains/Scrubland||282 km||13 days||11 days||6 days|
|Gathos - Stone Court||Dirt Road||189 km||8 days||6 days||4 days||3 days|
|Battleford - Stone Court||Dirt Road||182 km||8 days||6 days||4 days|
|Battleford - Corrak's Perch||Dirt Road||288 km||13 days||10 days||6 days|
|Stone Court - Green Hills||Dirt Road||169 km||8 days||6 days||4 days||3 days|
|Green Hills - Drachen's Bluff||Dirt Road||244 km||11 days||8 days||5 days||4 days|
|Drachen's Bluff - Inserra||Dirt Road||751 km||32 days||24 days||14 days||10 days|
|Drachen's Bluff - Thornwood||Dirt Road||479 km||21 days||16 days||9 days|
|Drachen's Bluff - River Fort||Dirt Road||891 km||38 days||29 days||17 days|
This website was last updated August 9, 2023. Copyright 1990-2023 David M. Roomes.