Farandale is a rugged frontier region on the western edge of the kingdom. It belongs to the Farthane family, minor nobility more loyal to the nearest Duke than to the far off dwarven king. The land is all steep hills and dense forests, broken only by rocky moors and dangerous swamps. Agriculture is hard work, and while it sustains the region, it results in very little trade goods. There is some good mining in the hills, which accounts for most of the wealth of the region. The local populace tend to be tough, independent, and hard-working. While loyal enough to Lord Farthane and his knights, they care little about politics or events in the larger kingdom.
Towns and Villages
In addition to the fortified keep of Faranhold, there are three population centers in Farandale. The largest is town of Tilburne, which boasts miners, woodsmen, and farmers among its population. South of Tilburne is Holtan a community of farmers and shepherds. To the east, near Faranhold, is the mercantile village and military garrison of Samurth.
Beyond these population centers, there are many scattered farms, fishing communities, and woodsmen. Small collections of huts can be found all along the Churnwash, as well as at the edges of the Larchwood and the Bloodwood. A large number of farmers and woodsmen have formed small communal pockets all through the Blessingwood. Two outlying farms of note are Karipur’s Farm and the one belonging to the Kyrnin family.
While much of Farandale is wooded, there are some truly impressive forests in the region. The largest is the Tanglewood, a mixed deciduous and hardwood forest with dense bramble undergrowth all through it. Movement through the forest is difficult and slow. The eastern edge of Tanglewood has been cleared and tamed for settlement, and is called the Blessingwood.
Two smaller forests of note are the Larchwood and the Bloodwood. The Larchwood is a hardwood forest west of Tilburne. It features a tall, straight tree called larch, which is prized for lumber. In addition to supplying all the finer timber in Farandale, the forest also provides a viable export. Larch logs are sought after down river, and fetch a good price, augmenting the mining income for the region. The Bloodwood, despite its ominous name, is actually the tamest forest in the dale. It is named for its numerous groves of wild blood fruit. Rich and sweet, and very difficult to domesticate, this crimson fruit resembles a teardrop or pear shape. Preserved as candies and jams, this fruit is sold in many far-off cities as a delicacy. To the populace of Farandale, it is simply one of the perks of living on the frontier.
The most dangerous forest in the dale is the Heldast Wood. While less overgrown than the southern Tanglewood, the Heldast is all steep hills and naked rock, thick with various scrub pine and thorny softwoods. Some of the most cunning and aggressive goblinoids in the region call the Heldast home, along with dire wolves and worse. There have been no attempts to tame this wood for useful purpose in many decades, perhaps more than a century. Dark legends and grim tales surround the forbidding woods.
Rivers, Lakes, and Swamps
The dominant body of water in the dale is called the Churnwash, and wide and swift river that flows easterly towards lakes far into the kingdom. With the exception of a few shallow fords and some swamps, the river is far and away the fastest route through the region. The major population centers lie along it, and little in the way of real roads have been needed because of it. The river provides some decent fishing, and rapid transport. The Churnwash is fed from numerous smaller tributaries in the west, and is upwards of 60 feet wide by the time is sweeps through Farandale.
The largest tributary to the Churnwash is the Eldercut River, which flows south through the Lansryde Hills. At the south of a large basin, an old dam of stone and timber has created a small lake. Here, the river eels that give Eelrock Lake its name get trapped and grow fat. Two other tributaries of noteworthy size feed into the Churnwash. Cutter Brook flows down out of the Thatchwork Hills, while Dogtree Brook winds through the western Tanglewood. Cutter Brook has recently begun to flood along its upper reaches, creating a new marshland which threatens the farms of Holtan.
Just past Samurth, a smaller river called the Veldcut River splits off and meanders through the Tanglewood. To the south, it becomes narrow, fast, and deep. Where it winds through the forest, separating the Tanglewood and Blessingwood, it is relatively slow and wide. From the fork where the Velcut River turns away to the southwest, the Churnwash slows and widens still more, flowing into a massive marshland called the Shrieking Mire.
Hill and Dale… and Moor
The northwestern edge of Farandale gives way to barren limestone hills covered in sparse scrub grass and lichen. The so-called Lansryde Hills are not even fit for grazing sheep, but do contain deposits of iron and copper ore.
To the south of Holtan, the Churnwash valley rises into the Thatchwork Hills, so named for their oddly rounded tops which turn brown with the coming of Autumn and resemble rows of thatched roofs. The lower hills have been terraced by the farmers of Holtan over the centuries, and offer some of the riches farmland in Farandale. These hills grow progressively more abrupt and impassable as they wind into the Tanglewood, until they terminate at a sheer 300’ cliff called the Granitefall.
To the east, past Faranhold, are the broken granite ridges and tors of the Shattered Hills. The crags and abrupt bluffs of the hills give the impression that some ancient power shattered a proud mountain, and this appearance accounts for the name given them.
Along the edge of the Heldast Wood, there is a great cleft in the earth, named the Splitrock Dale. The granite faces are treacherous and steep, and the floor of the cleft is a sheltered valley. In the past, masons have traveled from Tilburne to carve stone slabs from the southern end of the Dale. Within the steep-walled valley, there grows mosses, grasses, and shrubs unlike any found in the rest of Farandale. Never the less, it is poor farmland, and too isolated for good pasture.
Between the Splitrock Dale and the Lansryde Hills stretches a rocky and mostly barren area called the High Reach Moor. It is good for little beyond grazing goats, and hunting the wild hare that inhabit the moor. Across the Heldast Wood to the east is another moor, much larger, but of similar terrain. The Howling Moor, as it is called, is prone to thick fog and savage winds. The people of Farandale have less use for it than even the High Reach Moor.