Thissel Valley and the Valduren Marches
First post in a while. Below is a short overview of the history of Thissel Valley, the current location of the Aspects of Fantasy (D20-Fate) campaign I’m running. I had meant to do this before the beginning of the campaign but it never was completed. Let me know if you have any questions or find any typos:
Thissel Valley is part of a broader area known as the Valduren Marches, which also includes the so-called Lost Shire and the Northwold Wilderness. The Marches are the northern most lands of the Kingdom of Brennland. While Thissel Valley is heavily settled, the rest of the Valduren Marches are generally a sparsely populated wilderness of hills, forests, and marshes interspersed with ancient elven ruins.
Much of the Valduren Marches was formerly known as the realm of Valdu Dorien, an elven kingdom under the protection and suzerainty of the elven Kingdom of Malreth Dorien* (which still lies west-northwest of the Valduren Marches). For over 2 millenia, this realm remained closed to mortals and few passed its borders. Constantly at war with the Fomorian tribes that dwelled north of their realm, the elves of Valdu Dorien were experienced warriors and powerful mages. It is believed that the Fomorian Blight – the curse that has corrupted and slowly decimated the Fomorian race – was caused by the sorcery of the ruler of Valdu Dorien, the MageKing Alkelereth.
In 1183 AR rumors began circulating about the death of the MageKing and troubles in Valdu Dorien. Soon after, tales of assassination, civil war, and the intervention of Malreth Dorien made their way to the realms of men. In 1088, the emissaries from the High King of Malreth Dorien informed King Orren II of Brennland that in exchange for a treaty guaranteeing everlasting peace between their two kingdoms, Brennland would be granted a portion of the lands of Valdu Dorien, including the Thessaline (Thissel) Valley. King Orren and his advisors were both shocked and perplexed by the proposal. For the price of signing a treaty of peace with a kingdom they had never had a conflict with, Brennland was getting an extensive amount of land. Nevertheless, the proposal was accepted and the treaty was signed. The mystery deepened when Brennish foresters and settlers first entered the former lands of Valdu Dorien. Of the original elven inhabitants, none remained. Fortresses were abandoned, towers were empty. Several elven settlements that were known to exist were gone, not even ruins were found – it was if they never existed.
Despite this ominous discovery, settlers quickly arrived in the valley or traveled to lands further north. Most were Brennish farmers drawn by the promise of land, though many Appenzallers and Reikers made their way from the east. These free farmers, or freeholders, became established themselves throughout both the Thissel Valley and the Shire of Mistypine to the north. Several nobles with land grants from the King alse established holdings in the Marches. Orren Town (now known as Orrenton) was founded during this period. For almost one hundred years Thissel Valley and surrounding lands flourished. However, this all changed 1172 when Fomorians from the north mounted what came to be known as the Giant’s March (sometimes called the Fomorian War). Led by several Jotuns, the remaining strength of the northern Fomorians banded together and descended on the Marches. With them were orcs in numbers that had not been seen in centuries. Within a fortnight, what had taken a century to build was almost completely undone. Castles and villages were sacked and destroyed and most of the Marches were overrun. Many freeholders took refuge in the Thisselwood where they eventually mounted an effective resistance. Orrenton was besieged but held out. Two months later, on the 23rd of Fortemonth, the Giant’s March was halted at the Battle of Mursbury Field deep in Brennland where the Fomorian raiders were defeated and routed by a Brennish army under King Meledus I (who was killed in the battle). Within a month the siege of Orrenton was lifted and much of the Valduren Marches were liberated. However, for years afterwords, pockets of Fomorians and their allies remained a real danger throughout the northern counties and shires of Brennland.
In the aftermath of the Giants March, many who had survived the depradations of the Fomorian’s left the Marches for what were deemed safer lands to the south. The Shire of MistyPine was completely abandoned and was thereafter known as the Lost Shire. For the next 50 years the Valduren Marches became a backwater as Brennland endured a series of weak kings and strange cult activity centered around an entity called the Crow Angel. in 1218, Brennland was plunged into civil war as the northern shires and counties (known as the League of Walsenden) rebelled against the Brennish monarchy. Thissel Valley joined the League and, when the League defeated Monarchist knights at Lillybridge, gained its freedom.
In 1238, the Confederation of Walsenden faced its own civil war as the so-called Tyrant of Grauberg attempted to conquer all other League members and establish a monarchy. The people of the Thissel Valley found themselves split apart as freeholder farmers and Orrenton merchants feared a strong and powerful noble class, the five remaining Thissel Valley noble families and their retainers welcomed such a development and sided with the Tyrant. Sporadic fighting took place throughout in the valley the summer of 1238 while larger battles were fought in the rest of the League. In Heptinuary of that year, the forces of the Tyrant sacked the town of Wallingham, massacring most of its residents. This Sack of Wallingham caused League members to appeal for aid from their former sovereign, the King of Brennland. It was a desperate move. The king was a 14-year-old boy, King Willem III, who had a reputation for being weak and somewhat slow-witted. Certainly the Tyrant feared no intervention from Brennland and its ‘Boy King’. Unfortunately for the Tyrant, it was a fatal miscalculation. “Brave King Willie” turned out to be one of the most capable men to sit on the Brennish throne in 300 years. In a series of quick and decisive battles, King Willem and his men routed the forces of the Tyrant. In the spring of 1239, the forces of the King destroyed the Tyrant of Grauberg’s stronghold and killed the Tyrant. King Willem was then able to deftly negotiate with members of the League, granting some concessions in exchange for League members to rejoin the Kingdom of Brennland. The Valduren Marches thus came back under Brennish control.
In the 45 years since the Tyrant’s War, the Thissel Valley has again become prosperous. Much of the valley has been resettled and there is talk of resettling the Lost Shire. In the South, ‘Brave King Willie’ still sits on the Brennish Throne and the Kingdom is prosperous and at peace. Still, some in Thissel Valley are on edge. People talk of travelers gone missing, foresters in the Northwold talk of Fomorians wandering south, and some whisper of strange voices emanating from wells and root cellars…
* All elven kingdoms in Enzopea aligned with the Seelie Court at least nominally recognize the High King of Malreth Dorien, who dwells in Tol Aereth, as their ultimate ruler. Believed to be a shee lord of great power, possibly one of the First, the High King has ruled from Tol Aereth since the Kin Strife and resultant War of Shadows.