Fallcrest stands amid the Moon Hills at the falls of the Nentir River. Here travelers and traders using the old King’s Road that runs north and south, the dwarven Trade Road from the east, and the river all meet. The surrounding ridges shelter several small valleys where farmers and woodsfolk live; few are more than six or seven miles from the town. In general the people outside Fallcrest’s walls earn their living by farming or keeping livestock, and the people inside the walls are artisans, laborers, or merchants. People with no other prospects can make a hard living as porters, carrying cargo from the Lower Quays to the Upper Quays (or vice versa).
Fallcrest imports finished goods from the larger cities downriver and ironwork from the dwarf town of Hammerfast, and exports timber, leather, fruit, and grain. It also trades with the nearby town of Winterhaven. The surrounding hills hold several marble quarries that once produced a good deal of stone, but the area has little demand for ornamental stone these days, and only a few stonecutters still practice their trade.
Population: 1,350; another 900 or so live in the countryside within a few miles of the town. The people of Fallcrest are mostly humans, halflings, and dwarves. No dragonborn or eladrin are permanent residents, but travelers of all races pass through on occasion.
Government: The human noble Faren Markelhay is the Lord Warden (hereditary lord) of the town. He is in charge of the town’s justice, defense, and laws. The Lord Warden appoints a town council to look after routine commerce and public projects.
Defense: The Fallcrest Guard numbers sixty warriors, who also serve as constables. Moonstone Keep is their barracks. The Lord Warden can call up 350 militia at need.
Inns: Nentir Inn; Silver Unicorn. The Silver Unicorn is pricier and offers better service; the Nentir Inn sees a more interesting clientele.
Taverns: Blue Moon Alehouse; Lucky Gnome Taphouse; Nentir Inn taproom.
Supplies: Halfmoon Trading House; Sandercot Provisioners.
Temples: Temple of Erathis; Moonsong Temple (Sehanine); House of the Sun (Pelor).
Up until four centuries or so ago, the Moon Hills and the surrounding Nentir Vale were thinly settled borderlands, home to quarrelsome human hill chieftains and remote realms of nonhumans such as dwarves and elves. Giants, minotaurs, orcs, ogres, and goblins plagued the area. Ruins such as those on the Gray Downs or the ring-forts atop the Old Hills date back to these days, as do stories of the hero Vendar and the dragon of the Nentir.
With the rise of the empire of Nerath to the south, human settlers began to move up the Nentir, establishing towns such as Fastormel, Harkenwold, and Winterhaven. A Nerathan hero named Aranda Markelhay obtained a charter to build a keep at the portage of the Nentir Falls. She raised a simple tower at the site of Moonstone Keep three hundred ten years ago, and under its protection the town of Fallcrest began to grow.
Over the next two centuries, Fallcrest grew into a small and prosperous city. It was a natural crossroads for trade, and the Markelhays ruled it well. When the empire of Nerath began to crumble about a century ago, Fallcrest continued to flourish—for a time. Ninety years ago, a fierce horde of orcs known as the Bloodspears descended from the Stonemarch and swept over the vale. Fallcrest’s army was defeated in a rash attempt to halt the Bloodspears out on Gardbury Downs. The Bloodspears burned and pillaged Fallcrest and went on to wreak havoc all across the Nentir Vale.
In the decades since the Bloodspear War, Fallcrest has struggled to reestablish itself. The town is a shadow of the former city; little trade passes up and down the river these days. The countryside for scores of miles around is dotted with abandoned homesteads and manors from the days of Nerath. Once again the Nentir Vale is a thinly settled borderland where few folk live. This is a place in need of a few heroes.
Fallcrest is divided into two districts by a steep bluff that cuts across the town. The area north of the bluff is known locally as Hightown. This district survived the city’s fall in relatively good shape, and it was the first area resettled. To the south of the bluff lies Lowtown, which tends to be newer and poorer. In the event of a serious threat, people retreat up to Hightown—the bluff and the town walls completely ring this part of Fallcrest, making it highly defensible.
The Town Walls
Fallcrest’s Hightown is guarded on two sides by a wall (the river and the bluffs protect the other two sides). It consists of two parallel barriers of stone block with a few feet of fill between them, and stands about 20 feet tall. Every hundred yards or so, a small tower strengthens the wall. Two pairs of sentries (Fallcrest guards from the castle) walk the wall tops at night, but unless danger is imminent, the towers are left locked and aren’t manned. The gatehouses are permanently garrisoned.
1. Knight’s Gate
Fallcrest’s northern city gate is known as Knight’s Gate, because the Lord Warden’s riders normally come and go from the city by this road. The gate consists of strong outer doors of iron-reinforced timber and an inner portcullis between a pair of small stone towers. The portcullis is normally lowered at sunset, and the gates close only in times of danger.
The gatehouse barracks accommodates five Fallcrest guards plus Sergeant Nereth, who commands this gate.
2. Moonstone Keep
The seat of Lord Warden Faren Markelhay, Moonstone Keep is an old castle that sits atop a steep-sided hill overlooking the town. The outer bailey includes barracks housing up to sixty Fallcrest guards. At any given time about twenty or so are off-duty. Other buildings in the courtyard include a stable, an armory, a chapel, a smithy, and several storehouses. The keep is the large D-shaped building at the north end of the castle.
Faren Markelhay is a balding, middle aged human with a keen mind and a dry wit. He is a busy man and sees to local matters personally.
3. The Nentir Falls
Here the Nentir River descends nearly 200 feet in three striking shelflike drops. On the small island in the middle of the falls stands the statue of an ancient human hero named Vendar, holding up his hand as if to challenge enemies approaching from downriver. Local legend tells that Vendar slew a dragon whose lair was hidden in caverns beneath the falls.
4. Wizard’s Gate
Fallcrest’s eastern city gate is known as Wizard’s Gate, because it’s the gate most convenient to the Septarch’s Tower. The road to the east travels a few miles into the surrounding hills, linking a number of outlying farms and homesteads with the town.
The gate resembles Knight’s Gate in construction, and is similarly watched by a detachment of five guards and a sergeant. The leader of this detachment is Sergeant Murgeddin, a dwarf veteran who fought in the Bloodspear War and was present at the Battle of Gardbury, where Fallcrest’s army was defeated.
5. Blue Moon Alehouse
This brewhouse on the banks of the Moonwash Stream is the best tavern in Fallcrest. The owner is a nervous, easily flustered fellow of fifty or so named Par Winnomer. The true genius behind the Blue Moon is the halfling brewmaster Kemara Brownbottle. She is happy to let Par fret about running the taphouse, while she spends her time perfecting her selection of ales and beers.
The Blue Moon is popular with halfling traders whose boats tie up along the Lower Quay, well-off town merchants, and the farmers who live in the countryside south of Fallcrest. The old dwarves Teldorthan and Sergeant Murgeddin hoist a tankard or two here on frequent occasion.
6. King’s Gate
Fallcrest’s southern gate was destroyed in the attack that devastated the city long ago, and it still has not been entirely rebuilt. One of the two paired towers is nothing but rubble, and several large gaps remain in the town walls south of the bluffs through which anyone could enter the city.
Despite its lack of functionality, the King’s Gate is still used as a guardpost by the Fallcrest guards. Sergeant Gerdrand is in charge here; he is a tall, lanky man who doesn’t say much, answering questions with a grunt or a shake of the head.
7. The Market Green
The majority of Fallcrest’s folk live above the bluffs in Hightown and walk down to do business on the streets of Lowtown, which bustle with commerce. This wide square is an open, grassy meadow where Fallcrest’s merchants and visiting traders do business in good weather. The town’s children gather here for games of tag or kick-stones.