Exploring the Halls of Arden Vul: Burdocks Valley

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Burdock's Valley[edit]

Within the Exarchate of Narsileon, 450 miles upriver from the city of Narsileon


map of Burdock's Valley


Newmarket (Noviomagus)[edit]

Founded by new Archontean settlers in 2718 AEP, 275 years ago. The largest community in Burdock’s Valley, Newmarket lies on the Swift River. It is a free town, exempt from the lordship of Lord Burdock and governed by a mayor and council of aldermen. The local villages sell their surplus in Newmarket, and merchants from Newmarket trade downriver to Narsileon.

Population: 4,000

Gosterwick (Vetucaster)[edit]

The tiny Thorcin community of Gosterwick located at the base of the cliff and falls of Arden Vul was claimed by Lady Alexia Basileon and a sept of the Knights of the Azure Shield in 2968 AEP (25 years ago). The knights restored an ancient fortress, naming it the Azure Keep. Lady Alexia renamed the community Vetucaster and expanded it rapidly, offering residence, citizenship, and services to merchants, craftsmen, and adventurers. The current population bears a high proportion of adventurer-oriented businesses: sellers and buyers of curios, general sutlers, trainers, etc.

Population: 2,211 (40% Archontean, 40% Thorcin, 15% Wiskin, and 5% demi-human [halflings and imperial goblins]).

Gosterwick map and key



A small village lying at the foot of Castle Burdock. The few services not devoted to the needs of the local farmers are bureaucratic in nature, serving Lord Burdock’s growing need for soldiers, lawyers, and money. Population: 600


A mining village located in the foothills west of the New Forest. Half the villagers work the local iron mine under the supervision of some of Lord Burdock’s men. The other half of the villagers grow wheat, legumes, and barley. Population: 900


A farming village east of Newmarket lying on the Bilstream. The villagers specialize in wheat and buckwheat, selling most of their surplus in Newmarket through the Farm Cooperative. Population: 790


A farming village north of Newmarket along the old Imperial Road, close by the New Forest. The villagers specialize in legumes, but also grow barley and hops. Population: 650


A farming village east of Newmarket, known for its vineyards. Also participates in the Newmarket Farm Cooperative. Population: 520


A farming village lying on the old Imperial Road well to the north of Newmarket and close by the Paw and the Fenn. The villagers specialize in wheat, barley, and hops. Population: 475


Castle Burdock[edit]

An imposing fortress built on a ridge at the southwest corner of the valley, overlooking Castleton. The castle is the seat of Lord Burdock, a title currently held by Iskander Basileon, who is a favorite of the exarch in Narsileon. His title is contested by his half-sister, Alexia. Lord Burdock employs a large force of men-at-arms as well as a force of better-trained ex-legionaries.

The Azure Keep[edit]

Until recently a ruined fortress lying close to the Swift River at the foot of the cliff of Arden Vul, it has been repaired by a sept of knights from the Order of the Azure Shield. This sept is unusual for being politically active, as it is acting in concert with Lady Alexia Basileon, who contests lordship over Burdock’s Valley with her half-brother, Iskander. The Keep’s roof is tiled with sky-blue tiles and it sits atop a low ridge; the growing town of Gosterwick lies below it.


The Swift River[edit]

This river lives up to its name, as it runs swiftly and strongly from the waterfall at the cliff of Arden Vul through the center of Burdock’s Valley. The old Imperial Road runs alongside it through much of the valley. South of Newmarket the river is navigable to trading barges.


This minor watercourse waters the rich agricultural lands east of Newmarket.

The Muddy River[edit]

Pouring down from the mountains to the west of Burdock’s Valley, this river gets lost in the Valtos Marshes before joining the Swift River at the mouth of the valley.

Gold River[edit]

This river gets its name from the flakes and small nuggets of gold sometimes found along its course within the New River. All assume the ore to have been swept down from the mountains near Deepton, where gold was mined in antiquity.

The Long Run[edit]

This vigorous stream runs east from the mountains to join the Swift River near the Azure Keep.


Old Forest[edit]

This old growth forest was never settled in antiquity, and is thus still home to giant hornbeams, beaches, elms, and other deciduous specimens. The western borders are home to bold human settlements of charcoal-burners and woodcutters. These groups are frequent targets of attacks by humanoid tribes living further in the forest. A circle of druids is said to make its home within the forest; it is not clear whether the druids support the humans or the humanoids.

New Forest[edit]

Although more than 800 years old and substantial in its own right, this forest land is considered ‘new’ because in antiquity it was mostly farmland. The retraction of the Archontean Empire 1,200 years ago led to prolonged and successful reforestation. Spiders, humanoids, and monsters are said to dwell there.

Named Hills, Ridges, and Rock Projections[edit]

The Paw[edit]

A tall hill shaped like a giant cat’s-paw, lying at the north end of the New Forest and looking over the old Imperial Road. It is said that the ancient Thorcinga delved vertical tombs into the rock of the Paw.

The Fingers[edit]

An odd rock formation of four slender ridges of stone rising 200’ into the air, and thus appearing as fingers of a hand. Most give the Fingers a wide berth, as they are a notorious nesting spot for gargoyles. Careful observers have reported several openings in the rock high up the side of the Fingers; a few of these appear to be worked, not natural.

Rocky Ledges[edit]

A long system of forested hills and ridges lying at the center of the New Forest. The terrain is jagged and difficult to negotiate.

The Spire[edit]

A steep hill located at the southern mouth of the valley, taking its name from the unusual spire of rock that extends another 75’ above the summit of the hill.

Bald Hill[edit]

An imposing, steep hill north of Newmarket. The hill rises 200’ above the plain. Strangely, the normal coniferous forest ends 50’ from the summit (hence the name).

Table Rock[edit]

A large, gently sloping formation at the southern end of the valley. Its summit is both long (6 miles) and remarkably flat. The ruins of several watchtowers stud the mesa.

Marshes and Swamps[edit]

The Fenn[edit]

A low-lying area between the Fingers and Thorham, through which the Swift River moves more slowly than usual. The Fenn is home to several ruins, including a decrepit Moat House. Old-timers claim that in their ‘great-great-grandmother’s day’ the area was prime farmland and that some vast catastrophe turned it into swamp.

Valtos Marshes[edit]

Extensive marshland lying along the Muddy River just south of Castleton. Although serving as an effective barrier to attacks on Castle Burdock from the south, the marshes have also ensured the relatively stagnant economic status of the region around Castleton.


Arden Vul[edit]

The Archontean heroes Arden the Defender and Vul the Sorcerer arrived in the area in 829 AEP at the vanguard of Archontean colonizers. The city of Arden Vul was founded by imperial decree in 893 AEP. The city was sacked by renegade Sortians during the civil war of Sortians and Theosophs in 1783 AEP, and the city was abandoned twenty years later. A seventeen-year attempt to recolonize the city, after the Archontean return to the continent nearly a thousand years later, ended in military failure in 2759 AEP (234 years ago).