History of the Vale
Over 2,000 years ago
The time before recorded history. The Vale is populated by wild animals and dangerous fey. Elves dwell in many parts of the Vale, primarily in forest holts.
Kobolds are an almost exclusively subterranean race, having little contact with the surface world; mining is a dangerous enterprise as a result.
Goblins control the western half of the Vale, living in many warlike tribes. Although some command powerful druidic magic, they are fractious and violent, expending most of their energy fighting amongst themselves as well as with the occasional rogue orc.
Relative newcomers to the Vale having emigrated from a forgotten homeland to the northeast, gnomes dwell mostly in the foothills of the northern Dawnforges and along the southern edge of the Winterbole. They alternately fight and trade with the halflings, kobolds and Min, or Horned Folk. They are the most technologically advanced of the races, having mastered bronze working, something the halflings and goblins struggle with.
Halflings live in the plains and forests east of the Nentir River in scattered tribes, alternately trading with and raiding both goblins and gnomes. Many inhabit mysterious stone ruins clearly built by much larger beings, often by dismantling them and using the stones to build more halfling-sized dwellings.
A race of unknown beings dwells deep in the Harken Forest (which was itself much larger then), known today only from their stone ruins and mysterious petroglyphs.
Era of the Warring Tribes
Circa 1,600 years ago / -600 SK
Beginning of the first records of the history of the Vale. A period of intermittent skirmishes and raids between the various tribes, particularly between the halflings and goblins even as the gnomes make their way into the region. Rise of the first city-states and small nations, mostly under gnomish rulership. Halflings establish the town of Fallcrest, which faces hostility from the neighboring draconis kobolds.
Rise of the Stone Kings
1,000 years ago / 0 SK
The first true kingdom arises in the northern Dawnforges as the gnomes discover ironworking and assert themselves. Known as the Stone Kings, they quickly subjugate the halflings with their superior weapons and armor and drive the goblins west of the Cloak Wood. Kobolds and gnomes do battle in the mines in what is known as the War Under Stone. The fortress of Hammerfast becomes the first true city in the Vale.
Orcish aggression increases, catching the goblins between hammer and anvil; the tribes form a tenuous peace as they deal with these outsiders. The Wolfsblood goblins begin taming and riding the great plains wolves, and soon rise to prominence among the tribes.
The Vale calendar starts at this point with the crowning of Dorin I Ironhammer marking Year 1 of the Stone Kings.
Orcish Invasion and the First Unification
600 years ago / 400 SK
The orcs of the Stonemarch Mountains invade in great numbers. The goblin tribes are swept away and many tribes are slain to the last. Caught off-guard, the Stone Kings lose much ground and orcs take the Gray Downs and invade the Old Hills. In the end, an alliance between the gnomes, halflings, and canidas kobolds brings the orcish invasion to a halt and the survivors are driven from the Vale.
In the wake of this war, the Stone Kings formally recognize both halflings and kobolds as free and equal citizens of their realm, in what is now known as the First Unification. Many families of halfling gentry date their ancestry to this event. Kobolds spread across the surface of the Vale, though many retain their traditional place as miners.
Winterhaven is founded to keep an eye on orcish activity as well as the goblins.
Rise and Fall of the Burning Moon
530 years ago / 470 SK
Within a century of the first Unification, the goblins and kobolds begin to forge closer ties to each other as skirmishes continue between their people and the Stone Kings, led primarily by the draconis kobolds and the Wolfsblood goblins. These growing ties eventually blossom into the Burning Moon Alliance which wages a series of wars with the gnomes.
While the Burning Moon Alliance proves ultimately to be a failure and the goblins and kobolds are eventually beaten, the Stone Kings find their power to have been weakened by the series of conflicts and eventually the Kingdom collapses into smaller realms.
Second Unification and the Petty Kingdoms
450 years ago / 550 SK
In the wake of the Stone Kings’ fall, numerous individuals seize power on a smaller scale; the Vale is dotted with city-states, fiefdoms, and principalities ruled by whoever is charismatic, clever, or ruthless enough to hold them. These petty kingdoms engage in endless minor warfare, rarely surviving beyond a generation or two.
The weakened goblins and the halflings form a tentative peace; many of the kobolds retreat underground. The draconis kobolds establish a stronghold in the Cloak Wood, which becomes a bastion of lore. The Wolfsblood goblins and the Ghostwise halflings retain their nomadic traditions, clashing often with the city-dwellers and with each other.
Orcish Invasion, Signing of the Fivefold League
150 years ago / 850 SK
The orcs of the Stonemarches invade, devastating the remaining petty kingdoms. They roll through the Vale largely unopposed until the elves of the Winterbole unexpectedly offer their aid to the Valefolk. The elven army brings the orcish onslaught to a halt, but is unable to fully win the day; it takes a combined force of gnomes and halflings, supported by goblin scouts and archers and kobold sappers and mages, to finally rout the orcs.
In the wake of the victory, the elves preside over a council to determine the future of the Vale. Exhausted by two centuries of constant conflict and conscious of their narrow victory, the Valefolk sign the historic Fivefold League, which establishes all the races as equals and allies, and forbids the rise of any future warlords or would-be kings. The elves pledge their aid and support against the Stonemarch orcs for so long as the other races hold to the terms of the League.
The folk of the Vale begin the process of reclaiming their lives.
Current day. The Vale is dotted with villages and small towns, mostly with mixed inhabitants.