A Concise History of the Serpent Vale


This page describes this campaign's divergence from Core Forgotten Realms setting material. This was necessary to incorporate 4th Edition material such as the city of Fallcrest and the backstory of H1: Keep on the Shadowfell.


Fallcrest and the other towns and hamlets of the Serpent Vale and Serpent Hills represent the first tentative steps to extend human presence into a wilderness which has stood uncivilized for nearly four centuries. Once, mighty empires held this area; each one has collapsed, and eventually fallen into myth and legend, as seems the fate of all the great empires in Faerun's history.

Athalantar (183 to 342 DR)

The Human nation of Athalantar once ruled over most of the Western Heartlands of Faerun, but long ago it fell into decline and crumbled away. This ambitious nation employed the lost wealth, lore and magic of even more ancient fallen Elven empires, recovered from the crumbling remnants of libraries and sites of power, to extend and solidify its influence. A thousand years ago, Athalantar fell in a cataclysmic magewar.

Nerath (780 to 980 DR)

The short-lived Empire of Nerath rose centuries later, attempting to consolidate the former lands of Athalantar. They had some modest success in and had just begun building fortresses and colonies in the Nentir Vale (now called the Serpent Vale), even building a small regional fortress-town called Fallcrest at the headwaters of the Serpent Stream. but around 950 DR began to stagnate and fall into decline. Thirty years later Nerath, already a shadow of the glory it achieved at its height, collapsed in a mysterious, short-lived spasm of fire and light.

Wilderness (980 DR to Present)

Since the fall of Nerath, the Western Heartlands have slowly reorganized into the modern arrangement of city-states like Scornubel and Berdusk; but the Serpent Vale remained largely uncivilized wilderness for many centuries. Human progress north of the Serpent River has been slow, but a few settlements have gradually formed, small candles of light and warmth in the vast darkness of the northern Heartlands.

Fallcrest survived the fall of Nerath, but barely: diminished by the loss of Imperial administration, Fallcrest's legionnaires were all but wiped out by the Bloodspear orc tribe, and the rest, as they say, is history.

For more information on Fallcrest as it exists today, see [this summary].


The Warsun Order

The Holy Brotherhood of the Brilliant Sun was founded shortly before the fall of Athalantar by a small handful of priests of Lathander, Bahamut, and Oghma. Thanks in part to their abbey's proximity to Candlekeep, they grew into a small group of scholars and diviners, seeking a more complete chronicling of the multiverse-spanning conflict between the Gods and the Primordials. Throughout the reign of Nerath, the Brilliant Sun seers sponsored many adventuring companies who delved into ancient ruins, seeking after the lore of the old human empire — and older, deeper secrets from elven and even draconic relics.

Sometime in the early 1100s, a dramatic change came over the Order, as a new leader emerged from within the scholarly ranks — an adventuring warrior-cleric named Orinn the Radiant, who returned after an extended tour in the wastes of Anauroch with texts called the Warsun Prophecies. Little is known about the prophecies' assertions, but the effect of Orinn's discovery was dramatic and transformative. The Order closed its gates and set about constructing a much more elaborate fortress-monastery around the original abbey; when they reemerged, it was as a militant order styling itself the Knights of Warsun, claiming a writ to carry out the will of the gods and cleanse the world of the last corrupt remnant of the Primordial War.

The Warsun Knights seem primarily focused on the opposition and banishment of demons from Toril, and the continued gathering of powerful artifacts of divination to further their exploration of their Prophecies. The exact nature and justification of their mandate is unclear to outsiders; it is only in the last twenty years that the Order has been moving in force, and their presence in the largely lawless Western Heartlands means they have yet to answer to any significant external power in civilized lands.

Additionally, their continued friendly relations with the scholars of Candlekeep lend the Knights' actions a certain additional legitimacy - though many in that great library have begun to murmur that the Warsun warrios cannot continue to run roughshod over the Heartlands without sharing whatever important secrets seem to justify their efforts.

At Any Cost

The Warsun Order is so focused on thwarting and slaying demons who transgress upon Faerun that many of them feel that *any* measure is valid, and help from any source should be accepted - nay, demanded! The mysterious ramifications of the Warsun Prophecies, it would seem, justifies any stain on their own person, any exposure to dark forces.

As a result, many of Warsun's arcanists turn to pacts with eldritch powers - the Fey, the Void Entities [Star Pact], and yes, even the Infernals - Devils are in many cases just as opposed to the existence of Demons as the Warsun Knights! These people are sometimes viewed with distaste or suspicion by their brethren, but grudgingly accepted - for their power is undeniably an asset in the war on demonkind, and such a ruthless Warlock's devotion and fervor to the cause is no less intense than the Paladins they fight beside.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License