233-1 Ardennia, Bastion of the West

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About this Resource

This resource features the general description of a kingdom under a fey autocracy. This is the first in a series of related PDF releases within the same general area. It includes adventure ideas that are appropriate for low to mid-level (Levels 1 to10) adventur­ing parties. Challenge Rating (CR) is calculated using a party of four as the model.

The DM is free to change or modify any or all the information found here. NPC names and settlement names are the first the DM should consider changing to accommodate any homebrew world lore. When monsters are referenced, the creature’s name is noted in bold. Only creatures from the Monster Manual are cited.

Background Lore

It has been known as the Bastion of the West for the past two hundred years. Ardennia is an oddity among other kingdoms and provinces, mainly due to the fact that a fey oligarchy rules the kingdom with an iron fist. The kingdom is secluded from the outside world except for commerce. Information often leaves but it does not come in. Most Ardennians ignore the origin of the current state of affairs. Some of them go as far as to believe that outside places are also ruled by fey entities.
The fey oligarchy has doctored what information is available to the peasantry for the past two centuries. Their past is all but forgotten to humans, halflings, and other creatures with similar lifespans. Elves remember; some of them are old enough to have lived through the change, but they enjoy a middle-class privilege in Ardennia. Their fey blood, though old and watered down, is still recognized by the fey court. Elves are now a privileged class with no incentive to confront an authoritarian government friendly to them.

The forgotten story of Ardennia goes back almost two-hundred and fifty years back. A time of war and death. Ardennia was in an armed conflict with two neighboring kingdoms over a land-grab struggle. They were losing the war, and the king had already died in the field. Before the eldest prince had been crowned, something unimaginable happened. A fey lord appeared in front of the prince in the throne room and offered him a deal he could not refuse. The fey lord presented his daughter, Ai’Haranna. Her presence was something out of this world; unearthly beauty, an aura of confidence and command, a stare that pierced your eyes with curiosity and imperiousness. The prince was enraptured by Ai’Haranna’s smile and body. She was a dryad. The fey lord offered his daughter in marriage to join both families. The first official marriage of two long-lasting noble families, one from the Feywild and the other from the material plane. In exchange, reinforcements from the Feywild would come forth and join their efforts in battle. The prince accepted at once and married Ai’Haranna within the fortnight. As promised, a battalion of satyrs, centaurs, fomorians, and other creatures came to their aid. The war stopped less than a year later. The two foreign kingdoms surrendered after facing the fresh armies from the Feywild. They had no chance. No army has successfully invaded Ardennia after that, thus earning the title “Bastion of the West”.

The marriage with Ai’Haranna was successful but it came with some unintended consequences. The first one was that they could not conceive offspring. Ai’Haranna’s fey origin prevented this. The king had a few bastards but they would never inherit the throne or his riches. Ai’Haranna did not seem to mind the absence of children, though. Years passed and the king aged, but Ai’Haranna did not. It turned out she was immortal. When the king was an old man he could see the kingdom transformed into something different than what his father had built. Ai’Haranna had turned the senate into a court. More than half the representatives within the court were of fey origin, elves or other species. Already human peasantry became an oppressed class, fey and satyrs their overlords. The last human king died of natural causes at the age of sixty-two. He had no heirs, but according to the chain of succession, his nephew was the next in line. The lad was already an adult, he had been trained to rule. But Ai’Haranna would not have that.

The consort queen Ai’Haranna enacted a coup mere days after the king’s death and took the capital, Ardennia. Her army and the support of the fey in the capital made her successful. She was crowned Queen of Petals and any other heirs were executed that week. Ai’Haranna still rules Ardennia today. The kingdom is a far cry from what it was back then. The court is now known as the Fey Court, only people with fey ancestry can aspire to be a representative there. Thus, the interests and wellbeing of humans and other non-fey races are of no importance. Dwarves left decades ago, their interests and ideas clashed so bad with the Fey Court they could not stand it any longer.

By law, all cities and smaller settlements must have a lord in charge. This lord must be of fey ancestry. Things are bleak, and the government is strong-handed. The situation is worse for non-fey the closest one is to the capital, Ardennia. Fringe communities and small villages can be safe places where only the ruler lord is a reminder of the state of affairs.

Factions

Thornheads

For almost a hundred years, a resistance group known as the Thornheads has tried to thwart the objectives of the Fey Court. Their ultimate goal is to retake the kingdom, exile all fey, and put a human back on the throne. The leader of the group is Harold Guinesh. According to popular gossip, Harold is a descendant of a bastard of the last human king. If that were true, he may have a legitimate claim to the throne.

Order of the Petal

It is the most exclusive order of knights in the kingdom. It requires full fey ancestry to be a member of, thus, elves are excluded. Most of them are satyrs, pixies, and centaurs. They obey the queen orders directly and their task is to keep the peace and uphold the current status quo. They hunt the Thornheads for a living, they have become exceedingly efficient at it.

Yellow Leaf Council

A group of fey and non-fey in the capital which openly opposes the oppression of non-fey. They often make proposals to the Fey Court to alleviate the conditions of non-fey. They also provide healthcare and refuge for non-fey in the capital. While the organization is an uncomfortable reality for the queen and the court, they have not yet acted against them to maintain an illusion of free-will and openness.

The Purple Glove

The agents of the Purple Glove have a strong presence in Dracotia and Faris City. This is an occult organization with loose leadership and unknown members. It is public belief that a group of fey extremists wishes to purge those cities from the presence of non-fey. They act in the darkness, select a non-fey victim, and kill them. They always leave a purple glove in the murder scene as a form of signature.

Important Settlements

 Ardennia

The heart of the kingdom and the home of Queen Ai’Haranna. The old castle was brought down and rebuilt. The Palace of Petals is an impregnable fortress of pink-tinted bricks with tall spires and towers. The fey presence is strongest here.

 Faris City

Faris City is the densest settlement in the western side of the kingdom. It is fueled by scores of profitable mines in the western mountains. Lord Tumanni, a satyr, is the ruler of this city. He despises non-fey and makes sure most of them work in the mines for miserable wages. Faris City celebrates the summer solstice with a grand festival where everyone wears fey masks and becomes equal for a night.

 Trudenport

The city of Trudenport is in charge of most commerce with the outside world. The fortified piers are a sight to see. A water fortress with a strong military presence that controls everything and everyone that comes in and out of the city.

Dracotia

This is the oldest city in the kingdom. Its story goes back almost eight hundred years. It has formed part of three different regimes during this time. Dracotia owes its name to a widespread religion that worships dragons. An ancient silver dragon has its lair to the southwest of Dracotia on a mountaintop; it is the subject of many a superstition, theory, and cult. The dragon often flies over the city but has ignored them for centuries. The city features magnificent statues of draconic features. The dragon palace is home to Lord Ha’Illarin, a pixie.

 Purple Citadel

This fortified village and castle are near the southwest pass of the kingdom. The walls still show the marks and scars of ancient battles, some won and some lost. The central tower bastion is said to have never been taken by force, even after the village was stormed by invaders.

Arden Mines

This is the only settlement where dwarves still live in Ardennia, it is also the only one where no fey creatures live, not even the ruler. It is so close to the border that the Fey Court disregards it most of the time. They still collect tithes from the small mining settlement. As long as tithes keep on coming, the court will not interfere with their affairs. Arden Mines is a small underground settlement. There are rumors about some tunnels that go from here all the way to the capital.

 Jaytown

A small fishing village mostly inhabited by humans and halflings. The ruler is an eladrin lady named Gajaria. A strange snake-like statue rises in the middle of the village, proof of an ancient civilization very different from the one today.

 Verdi Castle

This castle and the adjoining hamlet are the first line of defense in the southeast pass. It withstood for years all kinds of attacks in the old wars. It has remained peaceful for more than a hundred years but it still keeps an active garrison.

 Redstream Town

This town owes its name to a strange event that happens once a year in autumn. Large groups of scarlet butterflies migrate to the region once a year to die after a new generation is born. Their red blood is a strong pigment that colors the soil and the water of the river. The river turns red for a day while the town celebrates the coming of the new year. Many people collect the dead insects and process their colorful blood to create strong pigments which they sell to other settlements and merchants.

Other Locations

Shrine of the Sun and Moon

Old ruins of a civilization older than time. Some pilgrims come from far away places to this shrine to get the blessing of the goddess of the sun and the moon. This obscure deity is said to be the object of worship of current religions under a different name, but no one knows for sure. Legends say that the shrine used to create a strong ray of light with magical qualities but it does not work anymore. Some rumors claim that there is an underground unexplored section in the dungeon.

Verdant Portal

In the middle of the forest lies a strange formation of rocks. Some people think that the rocks and pillars are aligned with the constellations of the night sky, calling it a sort of observatory. In reality, this is the place where the fey armies came forth from the Feywild to aid the kingdom of Ardennia two hundred years ago. Strange magic auras still haunt the place and people avoid it.

Chromatic Shrine

A strange stone door marks the place in the middle of the northeast forest. The runes on the door have no translation to any language of current use. They talk about untranslatable concepts of a world where colors are separated from reality and can be manipulated and moved at will. A strange warning in the stone door mentions a menace which could erase all color from the world, drowning it in grey hell.

Eye of the West

A strange spire on top of the mountains is visible from Ardennia on a clear day. The trip is dangerous because the mountain is cold and treacherous. The Eye of the West is an ancient observatory which is said to be able to see into any location within the multiverse. Rumor has it that the powers of the Eye of the West are not free to use. The observatory’s guardian tests the worth of anyone who visits the place. Those found unworthy find a cold death as they fall from the summit.

Frozen Lighthouse

On a clear day, the strange anachronous lighthouse is visible south of Trudenport. It is set on a small island. The lighthouse is inaccessible. A bubble-shaped force field of 1 mile surrounds the location. The field is not visible but it can be felt. As one approaches the lighthouse, an unseen force starts to push back. It gets stronger as you get close until it becomes an immovable wall of energy. The farthest someone has gotten is within half a mile from the lighthouse. Scholars have also noted something strange about the place. It appears that time has stopped within the bubble. From within the part of the field that people can still traverse, it appears like vegetation is in a standstill. It never grows or moves. Some birds are visible in close to the lighthouse frozen in place. Most mysterious of all, the silhouettes of two cloaked people running towards the lighthouse have been frozen in place for centuries. No one has any explanation for this. Nor even the powerful fey in the court are able to get close enough either.

Grey Forest

The Grey Forest is as old as the world itself. The trees are the tallest in the region. The grey trunks and foliage give the place a dead nature but the forest is very much alive. There is evidence that the forest moves, but it is so slow that men die before the forest moves a step. The forest appears to have moved a few miles from the north over a large period of time. It is now in the process of merging with natural green forest. The process is so slow that no scholar can foresee how it will turn out.

 Capital Outposts

Two outposts protect the capital: Ai’renu in the east, and Ai’Tiranu in the west. Both of them are exact replicas of walled forts with a central courtyard. Each of them has a garrison of twenty-five trained soldiers.

Southreach Lighthouse

This is the only working lighthouse in the region. An old fomorian was assigned to it twenty years ago. It is the only living creature in the area. Some people say that the fomorian is an accomplished spellcaster. 

Haint Fishery

The Haint Fishery is a series of buildings and devices that manage nets in the river delta. There are also vats and processing centers where they extract fish oil, ferment some strange spirits, and salt the fish for transportation. The fishery is strange in that it still belongs to a halfling family and not a fey creature. 

Fa’thang Ruins

In the depths of the forest northwest of Ardennia, the capital, a very old place awaits. In between the greenery and tree roots, an explorer can see the remains of a city. Whatever remains is made of stone. Vague forms of buildings and towers, all of them drowned in the soil of the forest. Scholars have dug out skeletons of the strange people who lived there. They were hybrids of humans and snakes of different forms. They are known as yuan-ti but none of them live there anymore. Whatever happened to them is a secret long forgotten. 

Innad Castle Ruins

Innad Castle was stormed by invading forces two hundred years ago before the fey armies arrived through the Verdant Portal. The castle is in ruins and no one intends to rebuild it. It is shunned by most travelers. For the past few years, a sentient giant spider has made it its home. The place is now infested with oversized spiders. 

The Dam

A few miles south of Redstream Town, the river flow is obstructed in a large stone dam. It was built fifty years ago and its purpose is to provide water for the many plantations in the area that span for miles. The dam is emptied once a year in a slow process to restore the natural flow of the stream. If the process was done too fast it would cause floods downstream. 

Thornheads Hideout

The Thornheads have a strong presence in the capital and in Faris City, but their main hideout and cache are hidden in the forest near the old battlegrounds. It is an underground complex hidden under a ruined tower. The entrance is covered by a large slab of stone. It is charmed with a strong spell. The spell compels any creature that approaches the area to leave after they feel they should be somewhere else. Only by saying the command word “Uruntha” is the magic dispelled for a minute, allowing the person to access the entrance. 

Great Omenu Statue

King Omenu was the great-grandfather of the last human king. A large statue was built in his image. The ancient effigy is not in good shape, the head and a section of the torso with an arm fell to the forest floor long ago. The place was a park back then and a few people lived there in a hamlet too. Nothing of that remains. Digging around in the Petal Library in Ardennia unearths an old map of the location that shows an underground section beneath the statue. The entrance is buried under the enormous head of Omanu.

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Published by Derek Von Zarovich
I am a D&D and GURPS player and DM since 2000. I enjoy reading fantasy and sci-fi books. Recently I started writing and creating my own content. I love to share what I write.

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