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 New campaign near Skull Gorge.
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CorranH
Acolyte

4 Posts

Posted - 30 Oct 2005 :  04:15:18  Show Profile  Visit CorranH's Homepage Send CorranH a Private Message  Reply with Quote  Delete Topic
I will be starting a new Forgotten Realms campaign soon and it will be set in the Western Heartlands. To be precise in a village (of my own making) on the south bank of the River Reaching, upstream of Hill’s Edge. The campaign will start somewhere around 1366 DR and (hopefully) last at least until 1373 DR.

I’ve been reading up on the area in all the books I have (most of all the published FR material), and a few questions remain. I hope someone more knowledgeable than me in FR canon can help me with these.

Skull Gorge is just upstream and there seems to be a lot of conflicting information about it. All books tell about it being the final stand after the Battle of Bones (the best source: Elminster’s Ecologies). However, some state that since the gorge has been empty, home to goblinoids, home to monsters (either of the last 2 options in some cases under Zhent control) or, hinted at in the 3rd Edition FRCS, fiends. The Tashara of the Seven Skulls article (Dragon 206, page 76) says one of the seven skulls resides there with a number of monsters. All this can’t quite be explained by it being in a certain chronological order. If anyone could shine some light on this that would be much appreciated.

Also, on one of the maps of the Interactive Atlas it shows something called the ‘Misty Stair’ just downstream of the Skull Gorge. It’s very likely this is a waterfall; however I can find no reference at all to this in any book. Anyone know where I can find any information?

Forgotten Realms Adventures, page 121: ‘Zhent “Long Road to Riches:” a controlled caravan route from Zhentil Keep to the Sword Coast, via the Tesh valley, Daggerdale, the Stonelands, the Desertsedge and Goblin Marches, Yellow Snake Pass (guarded by the great Zhentarim fortress of Darkhold), Skull Gorge, Dawn Pass, Llorkh, Loudwater, and the River Delimbiyr.

Volo’s Guide to the Sword Coast, page 123; ‘Feuding tribes of giants dwell in the Hill of Lost Souls and the Battle of Bones (two craggy areas named for past human struggles). The giants battle endlessly over the rolling grasslands between the two areas.’

So, how do the Zhent on their ‘Long Road’ get past the giants, since it seems to be directly in their path? Do they pay the giants to leave them alone, have they dominated them? Skirting around them seems unlikely. BTW, on the new 3rd edition map, the Skull Gorge ends pointing south, below the Hill of Lost Souls, making the ‘Long Road’ even crazier. Is the Trade Way really that dangerous to take for them?

The FRCS, page 225 says about the Zhents in Yellow Snake Pass; ‘until early in 1372 DR., when Thayan wizards and mercenaries from Hill's Edge drove the patrols into cavern shelters in the Underdark. For the moment, Yellow Snake Pass is free.’

The Bane – Cyric strife within the Zhents had already made me decide that Darkhold (being Cyricist controlled) has split from the ‘Eastern’ Zhents in all but name. The 3rd edition books aren’t quite clear if this split is a reality. The question that comes to mind is; if Darkhold is alone now and no longer receiving caravans from Zhentil Keep (they focus on the Dark Road) what are they going to do? They have no industry, so caravans (and smuggling) to the Sword Coast seems unlikely. What will be their focus?

Also, what is the weather like in this region? I like the weather table they used in the Silver Marches supplement; I might use the River Valley entry from it, but might that be a bit too cold?

Finally question (I see I have rambled quite a bit already); what kind of fish would be found in the River Reaching between Hill’s Edge and Skull Gorge?

Thanks.

KnightErrantJR
Great Reader

USA
5402 Posts

Posted - 30 Oct 2005 :  04:27:14  Show Profile  Visit KnightErrantJR's Homepage Send KnightErrantJR a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Well, off hand I can't answer everything, but a few thoughts spring to mind.

As far as the giants and the Zhent caravans go, if the Zhents don't control or have an agreement with a particular tribe, the Zhentarim Sky Mages would come into play, flying ahead to see if there are any giants blocking the path, blasting them if they can, flying back and warning/preparing the caravan if they can't.

The other thing to throw out there is that some of the character information in City of Splendors seems to indicate that the Banites have indeed retaken Darkhold, and only those Cyricists that are willing to "play ball" remain, with the more radical priests having been slain or fled the fortress.


"Because philosophy arises from awe, a philosopher is bound in his way to be a lover of myths and poetic fables. Poets and philosophers are alike in being big with wonder."--Saint Thomas Aquinas

http://knighterrantjr.blogspot.com/

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LordXenophon
Learned Scribe

USA
110 Posts

Posted - 08 Aug 2017 :  01:01:39  Show Profile  Send LordXenophon an AOL message Send LordXenophon a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Bump, because my players are about to pass through Skull Gorge, on their way to Ladydove. The quest is a rather simple one - the delivery of a coffin to the Well of Dragons. Therefore, I need some local monsters to stir things up. I have a list of monsters around Ladydove, provided by Volo, but what about the rest of Skull Gorge?

What I do have is that the Orcs and Goblins fled to the Gorge, AFTER the Battle of Bones. Also, the gorge is larger than the squiggle drawn on the map and is supposed to include the Misty Stair, Ladydove and the Well of Dragons. The endless battle between the Giant tribes is NW of the west end of the gorge.

Darkhold is far south of Skull Gorge, and therefore, so is Yellow Snake Pass. From what I can tell, the Zhent caravans have to turn south, before they even reach Skull Gorge. Hill's Edge is even further from the Gorge. The feuding giants are an hundred miles out of their way.

What I'm having trouble finding is a good list of monsters for random encounters within the Gorge. I could just go with the usual for the Sunset Vale area (Orcs, Goblins and Bugbears) but was hoping somebody would have more detailed information aobut the Gorge itself. Since I'm running a 2.5e campaign, set in 1373 DR, that means the fiends haven't moved in, yet. I already have a role for the Dire Dragon, so I can't use him for random encounters or any sort of mayhem.

I have two days left to prepare. What else have you guys got?

Disintegration is in the eye of the Beholder.

Edited by - LordXenophon on 08 Aug 2017 01:07:22
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LordofBones
Senior Scribe

419 Posts

Posted - 08 Aug 2017 :  15:30:01  Show Profile Send LordofBones a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Skull Gorge is home to one of the main Velsharan places of worship, IIRC.
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Markustay
Realms Explorer extraordinaire

USA
13845 Posts

Posted - 09 Aug 2017 :  16:56:08  Show Profile Send Markustay a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Its a tricky area, and it got pretty 'mutilated' on the 3e maps.

As for the gorge itself, just about anything goes - its freakin' HUGE! About 1/4 the size of the Grand Canyon. You could have hundreds of tribes of all different things, and most of them will never have even run into most of the others. Plus, I am assuming a massive subterranean tunnel-network, which has been used (and expanded) by dwarves, goblinoids, underdark critters, and even Hin and Gnomes out of Sunset Vale (the vale itself has an intricate tunnel network linking most of the settlements, unknown to to most folks outside the 'wee folk').

I am hoping to move 'Veilstone Peaks' (from Nightmare Keep) to a better placement on my 5e maps... if people let me. That region was entirely wrong for it (it would be PERFECT in that small region just North of the Hullack forest, between the Immerflow and the Thuderpeaks). I have Rose Keep (the original, not the 4e one) in that same area, but north of the river. Both would be considered semi-auonomous 'demesnes granted by the crown for service' (so technically part of Cormyr, but no-ne really enforces that).

As for the original questions (which are 12 years old now!) - the Zhents make deals with monsters all the time. In fact, the creatures probably ignore Zhent caravans, and then the Zhents feed them info about other people's caravans moving through the area (so they get to 'keep their hands clean' while eliminating rivals).

There are Raptors in the Stonelands - there could be a few hunting in the Gorge. There is actually a tribe of Orcs that ride Ostritch-like birds in that area as well (I guess they couldn't train the raptors LOL). Personally, I used the Axebeaks from the MMs for the birds (because anything else - like an emu - would be a bit too silly). Anyone recall where that reference to the bird-riding orcs comes from?

Orctaurs... half orc, half dire Wolf... hmmmmm... not sure if that is cool, or just completely unnecessary.

"I have never in my life learned anything from any man who agreed with me" --- Dudley Field Malone


Edited by - Markustay on 09 Aug 2017 16:56:51
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CorranH
Acolyte

4 Posts

Posted - 09 Aug 2017 :  17:04:31  Show Profile  Visit CorranH's Homepage Send CorranH a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I am actually ending my campaign this month so seeing these new questions was just such weird timing. :)

It was quite the campaign; 12 years, 23rd level characters.
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LordXenophon
Learned Scribe

USA
110 Posts

Posted - 15 Aug 2017 :  14:26:56  Show Profile  Send LordXenophon an AOL message Send LordXenophon a Private Message  Reply with Quote
No idea where you got the bird-riding Orcs, but tomorrow night, they attack a caravan. And I guess I also need a couple of cards for wild axebeaks in the gorge.

By raptors, did you mean giant birds of prey, or did you mean velociraptors? I could add both.

Disintegration is in the eye of the Beholder.
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