Our Humble Beginning

 

early summer seemingly by coincidence four caravans filled with refugees, wanderers, and world-weary souls have arrived in the “abandoned” Valley of Ash. Fleeing troubled times and the sad circumstances of their former lives some have decided to stay. Caravans passing warned them “Do not tarry long in the Valley of Ash, for ‘tis a cursed place”, but exhausted after weeks on the road they ask themselves – where else is there to go? Travellers from all directions say the same: the road behind has nothing but danger and sorrow.

In the valley strange ruins dot the landscape, and a thick layer of ash lies just under the topsoil. Animals exhibit bizarre behaviours, and strange white globules wander the woods seeking prey. Stranger still are the residents of the valley – a cult obsessed with death, a doctor with a penchants for odd experiments, restless spirits, and suspicious merchants. Many of the residents of the valley appear to be quite mad, a condition that some claim affects all who stay in the Valley of Ash for any extended period.

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Despite this the four caravans started to work together and the strong amongst them decided to occupy the crossroads, calling the new settlement Ashendael. The farmers and craftsmen they set up in a second settlement just outside the valley called Driftwood – a short ways north-east and out of harms way. The adventurers have gradually begun to reclaim the remnants of important structures like the Mill and Keep.

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A powerful wizard opened up a Skein Gate – a portal connecting many points across the continent, bringing new trade and civilization to the abandoned region. The newly minted Empire of Berphaunt has show great interest in the region now that they have laid claim to the eastern half of the continent of Muad’Madir. Yet, despite this sudden flurry of activity the Northreach remains a wild place and the Valley of Ash is still a mysterious place. Enterprising heroes (and villains) may yet forge their fortunes and destinies in Ashendael!

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Animals exhibited bizarre behaviors, and massive white oozes wander the woods digesting men and beast alike. The residents of the valley were stranger still, possessed by a madness that if left unchecked drove you to murder – or worse. As the year wore on the new residents started to show signs of the same insanity – a condition the local death cult called “The Curse of Ashendael”.

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Despite this Curse the settlers started working together and called the new settlement Ashendael. The farmers and craftsmen they set up in a second settlement just outside the valley called Driftwood – a short ways north-east and out of harms way. A powerful wizard opened up a Skeingate – a portal connecting many points across the continent, and the Empire of Berphaunt eventually laid claim to the region as a result.

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A noble of Berphaunt and general in its armies laid claim to Ashendael as his Barony. Lord and Lady Ravencroft now rule over the Ashendael and Driftwood bringing law and civilization to the Valley. A fey Dryad dwells in a Henge in the middle of town and is an ally, while an Einish brewmaster has set up a tavern in Driftwood. In a mere season The Valley of Ash has been transformed from wild frontier into wild frontier town!

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Towards All Hallows the adventurers of Ashendael began to hear rumours of supernatural activities in a mysterious grove to the North East. The death cult and its dark leader Duraad had claimed the area as sacred to a mysterious figure they referred to as “The Master”. Over the summer powerful artifacts were discovered that all seemed part of…. Something. An arm, a head the death cult worshiped, and finally a heart that was coveted by a hellish demon Lord.

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Finally a titanic military push brought the heroes to the center of the Grove, wherein lied the torn body of an Angel. Oozes sprung from its spilt blood. Were they some sort of defense? The heroes restored the severed parts to the Angel only to find it had sacrificed itself to stop a greater horror – a portal to the Plane of Shadow! Once the Angel’s sacrifice was undone this rend in reality began to spew forth shadowy abominations. The heroes in conjunction with the noble Order of the Blood Red Rose have been able to plug up the portal. But for how long?