Sunday, April 2, 2017

Isenvale March

Isenvale March and its Environs. 1 Hex = 6 Miles.
My Vault and Valley mini-campaign idea takes place in the Isenvale March, a remote frontier domain at the edge of an Empire. The March looks impressive on a map but is sparsely populated and economically underdeveloped in practice. Furthermore, the constant threat of monstrous raids and banditry hangs over the heads of the hardy Isenvalers. Naturally, such remoteness opens up opportunities for ambitious adventurers eager to carve out their own realm. Isenvale is rich in high-grade iron ore and has potentially highly fertile soil. However, in the long years since the Dwarves retreated from the valley, the Swamp expanded to claim many of its best lands and the forests swallowed up other arable fields. The peasantry, working hard enough to subsist in these inhospitable lands, lack the means to improve their own land, and so do their rulers. The same goes to the mines. Long ago, skilled Dwarven miners and engineers produced a wealth of iron out of these hills, smelting the ore in the grand furnace at the Vault. Good iron deposits still remain in the mountains. However, current-day mining is primitive and the local miners only produce small amounts of poorly-smelted iron.

Isenvale belongs to a crumbling Empire. I will leave its details vague so that any prospective Judge can adapt it to her own campaign world. It is sufficient to note here that the Empire is weak and torn by internal conflict and economic decline. Optimistic scholars predict that it will survive for another century, at most; more realistic ones do not believe that it will hold for even a decade. As the bulk of Imperial military and political forces concentrate in the struggle for the Imperial heartlands, frontier lords are de-facto independent rulers even if de-jure they are loyal subjects of whoever sits on the Imperial throne.

Tribune Richard of Isenvale rules his domain from his castle at Swornwell. He is an aging Lawful level 7 Fighter, a good but weary man well past his prime. An excellent horseman in his youth, he is now occupied by the affairs of state. The latter are grim. His superiors in the Imperial interior demand ever-greater taxes and military forces for their internecine wars. Thus, he has to balance between his loyalty to the dying Empire and the needs of his own domain. Locally, the Blooded Maw Orcs continually threaten Isenvale and are too powerful for the Tribune's forces to defeat; instead, Richard tries to contain this threat and hold it at bay. Bandits and less-organized monsters are also a constant concern.

The entire March has a population of 980 families. Of these, 150 live the Barony of Oathbridge, 200 in the Barony of Springmound, 80 scattered in the less-populated parts of the March which are only nominally claimed by the Tribune or either Castellan, and 550 in the Tribune's own fertile and better-defended domain around Swornwell itself.

The village of Swornwell with its 150 resident families is almost twice the size of Oathbridge or Springmound. It is, however, a hub of the frontier and thus has a Class-V market despite its small size. Springmound village has 90 families and Oathbridge village a mere 80. Both are also Class-VI Markets.


  1. I've not any experience with the ACKS system but your mini-campaign hex crawl looks really interesting; I like the idea of a mini-D&D campaign, might have to try that one myself :)

    1. Thanks! This is less of a hex crawl and more of a mini-sandbox, though. Lots of ant-hills to kick on the way to Name Level...