The Bitter Vale
Industry, Endeavour, Tradition
The Vale is Northern Central in the Royal Basin, controlling the fallout of mountains and hills that dwindle South from the Razorback Mountains of the Low Kingdom on its Northern Border. To the West are the Marches, to the East it finds a border with The Golden Lands and in the South its territory meets The Wooded Ways. Traditionally the Natheron family hail from this land and still have vestiges of their power here; one of the first noble lines they are closely associated with forgotten spirits of the Gillieabad and that power still haunts the land.
The Natherons have long since travelled on, leaving the land in the hands of the line of North who made their way South from Dralvork – commonly referred to as the Frozen North. With them they brought the legends of that land to merge with those of our own and give birth to the Vale as we know it. Its rolling hills, high mountains and clinging forests surround the lake of ash which in turn pollutes much of the air of the Vale with its rolling, sinister mists. In these mists dwell things from nightmare and story but they are kept in check by the Frozen Guard who act as roadwardens and land keepers throughout the Duchy.
Powerful townships nestle in strategic areas, well situated to extract the mineral wealth from the ground or to fell the forests and plunder them for their precious lumber. Industry and endeavour mark the landscape as much as the evidence of monsters awoken by it and the heartbeat of the Royal Basin can be heard in the hammering of the mines or the rhythmic fall of the axe in the woodland. These townships surround the mighty capital of Shriekspire that is built in, throughout and on the mountain called “The Watcher” whose peak is dominated by the Grey Keep home to the family North.
Shriekspire encompasses smelters, factories and all other amalgams of an Industrial life but also reflects a highly inventive people indeed; Shriekspire is the birthplace of such wonders as the Dirigible, Blackpowder Weapons and Submersible. The streets are thick with people, ideas and the detritus of Basanic Society; crime is rife and underpinned by the powerful Van Gore Co-Operative who battle for control against the Who Chow and Octactinal Order. All of this is supported by the wealthy merchant families that control the flow of Ores and Lumber with Conol, Aieth Stone and Blackwood all belched from the mines of the Vale in great abundance.
Movement of such materials is dangerous however; the land being plagued by monsters and banditry not to mention being impassable in certain places means that heavily protected roads and waterways are the main efforts for mobilisation of goods. The Fiefdom of Beggars Turn in the North sees the flow of the Rhyme and Reason along side the truth that serves many of the Townships before they join to become the mighty Beldradin Swift that runs through into Serith in The Western marches. In the South the River Vargus runs West through to the East passing through The Vales only other City, Strabe, in the South.
The people of the Bitter Vale speak quietly, keeping vigil with bleak eyes, guarding the secrets of their hard land to themselves and remembering the stories of the horrors in the mountains and lakes of their homeland. The power of these hardy folk is built on industry and invention, a survivors instinct and a great deal of respect for the hosts of the Grey. The societies here are built hard and are sparse, few in number and deeply aware of the dangers that surround them. They have long memories and know the legends of the mists and the great Lake of Ash, how to keep most evils out of their homes and when to lock the doors and add certain woods to the fire to stay the night. However they are kind and loyal to the people of the Vale and have always answered the call of the Royal Basin, they trust each other to have their backs, they have too.
The families here tend to stick to traditions, if their families have been miners they will be miners, although they are not without ambition; owning a mine would not be farfetched. All families are however expected to put forward children to stand as Guildsfolk or as Frozen Guard whether they succeed at such or not. Communities are sparse across the Vale and families small and often under threat although when those threats come all know to retreat across the wastelands to Shriekspire and the Grey Keep. Here the one great community that is the Vale comes together to protect itself as the Keep takes the skies, the greatest achievement of the Bitter Vale, their hardwork, their achievement and their protector.
Key Concepts of the Bitter Vale
The Old Ways – The old ways teach us how to battle the things of myth and legend, traditions should be kept up and their origins remembered.
The Ties that Bind – Family and loyalty through friendship are Iron Bonds between us and all who dwell in the Bitter Vale are Family or Friend.
Strike First – Act first and questions later, we never know who is hidden behind the mask.
Be better – There is always a newer, better version of everything you see, weapon from sword to gun, transport from boat to dirigible. There is always a better you.