Population: 125,015 (94% humans, 3% half-orcs, 2% halflings)
Government: Republic (anarchy)
Religions: Tempus, Tymora
Imports: Illicit substances, manufactured goods, oil
Exports: Ale, grain, vegetables
Alignment: LN, N, CE
Shattered by wars it started, occupation by its enemies, and a horrible plague, Scardale might have gone the way of Teshendale. Scardalefolk, though, are made of sturdy stuff. In order to put their dale back on its feet, they have washed their hands of their former capital, the port of Scardale Town, where the Ashaba empties into the Sea of Fallen Stars.
Scardale Town is in virtual anarchy, but the other major towns of the dale -- Scarsdeep and Chandlerscross -- are recovering from the disasters that beset Scardale over the last fifteen years and are slowly rebuilding the dale's strength. Meanwhile, the Sembians and the Zhents are the most powerful factions in Scardale Town.
Life and Society
The port of Scardale Town has yet to recover from the triple blows of the defeat in Mistledale, the occupation, and the plague. Power has shifted away from the port town to the farming and mercantile communities of the interior, especially since many common folk fled Scardale Town to live with relatives farther inland.
The present government of the dale is a nine-person council. The nominal head of the council is Provisional Governor Khelvos Dermmen (LN male human Ftr4/Clr4 of Torm), a priest chosen to replace the previous lord, Myrian Beechwood, on his resignation. Three members apiece are chosen from the two towns of Chandlerscross and Scarsdeep, plus an additional member chosen at random from among the farms along the Ashaba. Until the Scardale plague drove the garrisons from Scardale Town, the council numbered thirteen and included the Sembian, Zhent, Hillsfarian, and Dalelands garrison commanders from Scardale Town, although in practice the garrison commanders rarely bothered to attend the Scardale Council and frequently ignored its edicts.
Major Geographical Features
Scardale's three significant geographical features are the River Ashaba, which runs through the dale from west to east; the Sea of Fallen Stars at the river's mouth; and the great gorge named the Scar, which gives the dale its name.
The Scar: According to legend, this high-sided gorge that defines Scardale originated as an errant blow from the sword of Corellon Larethian as he fought the orc god Gruumsh. The wound in the land is still deep but has healed well, and the River Ashaba runs swiftly through the Scar on its final leg to the sea. The Scar is fifteen to twenty miles wide for most of its length. Feather Falls marks the gorge's west end, and Scardale Town is at the east end, where the Ashaba empties into the Sea of Fallen Stars.
Scardale Town's decline has led to the rise of a new port, the town of Chandlerscross, farther up the Ashaba and within the Scar. Oceangoing ships cannot proceed all the way to Chandlerscross. Even small boats have to unload and seek portage at Feather Falls.
Scardale Town lost its preeminence as the balance of power shifted to the towns and country folk of the interior.
Chandlerscross (Large Town, 4,790): The chaos that overcame Scardale Town has no hold on Chandlerscross. The town is clean, the paint on the wooden houses is fresh, and the city watch -- all Scardalefolk, with no foreign troops to run things -- is quietly competent. Though not mindful of the original Dalelands charter, the citizens of Chandlerscross generally feel that cooperation with the rest of the dales could be a fine thing, as long as the other dales or countries keep their troops out of Scardale and their spies in Sembia and Cormyr.
In partnership with the nearby town of Scarsdeep, Chandlerscross is the seat of Scardale's government. Provisional Governor Khelvos Dermmen administers the dale from a small keep overlooking the Ashaba, and for routine business (anything the Scardale Town garrison commanders don't consider important) the Scardale Council meets here.
Scardale Town (Large Town, 4,440 [formerly Small City, 11,099]): Before the Plague, Scardale Town had over 10,000 occupants, making it the largest and most powerful city of the Dales. Even damaged, it's still big by Dalelands' standards. The population has recovered somewhat since the plague. For every honest citizen who fled the city, one or two rogues or bandits moved in, finding life in Scardale more appealing than life on the run in the Dalelands' forests.
Only the bravest, strongest, or most evil merchants bring their cargoes in through Scardale's formerly flourishing port. Even so, the port is at least as busy as it was during the years of the occupation, which says something about how many brave and unscrupulous merchants roam the Sea of Fallen Stars.
Since no larger governments were willing to take a chance on occupying Scardale after the plague, the city runs itself by the laws of anarchy, the obligations of power politics, and the double-edged knives of friendship. In Scardale's present topsy-turvy condition, the only thing that matters are the identity and intentions of the groups presently struggling to gain control over the city.
One site in Scardale Town deserving of mention is the Four Dolphins Fountain. Somehow, this beautiful statue of four leaping dolphins survived Scardale's turmoil. The courtyard surrounding the fountain is in the center of Scardale Town's port district. It's beloved by folk for its calm and beauty, and valued by those who want privacy and discretion because a magical effect generated by the fountain prevents all scrying and eavesdropping magic from working in the courtyard.
Whenever possible, members of the Thayan enclave arrange their deals at the Four Dolphins Fountain. They wish to give Dalesfolk the sense that they can shop for precious magic items without having to worry about being watched by prying wizards from other dales.
After inheriting the throne from his father Uluf, Lord Lashan Aumersair set about to build Scardale's power and wealth, intending to conquer all the southern Dalelands. In 1356 DR, he conquered Harrowdale, Featherdale, and, for a time, Battledale. He then moved against Mistledale and its ally Shadowdale, but was soundly defeated by a hasty alliance of several dales and foreign powers who had no wish to see the region united under a single, powerful leader like Lashan.
After Lashan's fall, Scardale was occupied by an uneasy coalition of troops from Cormyr, Sembia, the other Dalelands, and even Zhentil Keep. Lashan's actions had threatened the security of the entire Heartlands region, so that all the great powers of the Heartlands needed to play a part in seeing that the threat was not repeated. In truth, the Sembians and Zhents wanted to keep Scardale for themselves,and instructed their garrisons to work to those ends.
By 1370 DR, Sembia felt ready to assert its power. The Cormyrian and other Dalelands forces had already left, Hillsfar's troops had been bribed, and no one would protest overly much if the Sembians drove the Zhents from the dale. Before the Sembians could act, Scardale suffered its second great disaster, the Shaking Plague. The Sembian garrison was particularly hard hit: only three members survived. The towns and countryside of Scardale were hurt far less by the plague.
What's left of Scardale Town is a lawless area fought over by gangs, agents of the various realms, cultists, and religious leaders. The other Dalelands talk about establishing a new interim government to control Scardale Town and prevent things from getting any worse, but Governor Khelvos and his Scardale Council are opposed to continuing the occupation in any guise.
While Khelvos and the rest of the Council work hard to put the countryside back on its feet and consider the question of how to reestablish the rule of law in their largest city, a growing number of Scardalefolk openly hope for the return of the Aumersair family. No Aumersair heirs have come forward, and Lashan's fate is still not known, but a document discovered recently has jolted the Provisional Council and sent a shock of alarm through the other Dale;amds. Lashan's will and testament, discovered in Scardale Town months after the plague, identifies the Zhent knight Scyllua Darkhope (see her entry in the Moonsea, below) as Lashan's illegitimate daughter and names her as his heir.
The news that the "rightful" heir of the Aumersair family is a Zhent champion received mixed reactions in the dale. Some Scardalefolk believe that Scyllua would make a fine lord and openly support the return of Aumersair rule in any form. Most think that Scardale Town and its former ruling line are problems that their dale would be better off without. In any event, Scyllua has not come to Scardale to assert her claim, although it's not clear what exactly would happen if she did.
Factions in Scardale
While Scardale Town is ungoverned at the moment, it isn't completely lawless. Several factions all work to enforce their own sort of order on the chaos of the city.
The Dancers: This gang of halfling fighter rogues generally arms themselves with magically enhanced kukris. They seem to be nothing more than common brigands looking for an opportunity to wring as much gold as possible from the chaos in the city. The Dancers are quick to assert their strength with blade and bolt. Their boast: "One dance with a Dancer is all you get."
The Long Death: Monks of the Long Death have taken advantage of Scardale's dissolution to establish a school in old warehouses of the port district. Their existence isn't exactly public, but the players on the political landscape hope to use the monks for their own ends instead of making enemies of them.
The Silver Ravens: Official Sembian policy is to leave Scardale alone until the mystery of the Shaking Plague is solved. The Silver Ravens follow Miklos Selkirk (see Sembia, below), not the Sembian government, and Miklos has no intention of watching the Zhents steal the prize that Sembia had in its grasp. Miklos's fondest hope is to reform Scardale Town as a free port on the Sea of Fallen Stars that pays lip service to the Dales Compact. He thinks that "Silverdale" has a nice ring to it.
Thayan Enclave: The Red Wizards of Thay have a medium-sized enclave operating in Scardale Town. As usual, they sell magic items to anyone who pays their eminently fair prices. The Red Wizards operating in Scardale are of neutral alignments, and consequently, the Thayans are among the most trustworthy power groups operating in Scardale. Even the Harper agents in the area treat them with some forbearance, since the Red Wizards in Scardale scrupulously avoid slaving.
Zhentil Keep: The Dalesfolk are weighing what to make of Scyllua's right to the throne of Scardale -- assuming that the whole thing isn't a Zhent ruse. Their agents in the town are laying the groundwork for Scyllua's eventual bid for power, but old habits die hard, and some Zhent agents engage in their usual routines of sabotage, kidnapping, extortion, and murder.
Plots and Rumors
The great questions troubling Scardale are easily asked and not so easily answered. Is the occupation over? Who rules in Scardale Town?
For the first question, the answer would seem to be "yes," provided Scardale Town is not included. The folk of Scardale are running their own affairs and have done so for years. But sooner or later the provisional governor must be replaced with a lord, a high councilor, or some kind of permanent position, and it's unclear how Khelvos Dermmen's successor will be chosen. Factions of Scardalefolk, some aided and abetted by foreign powers and interests, are beginning to maneuver for the upper hand when the time comes to declare Scardale's independence again. Some of this maneuvering involves quiet threats, the building up of armed forces, and large bribes and sordid doings of all kinds.
Regarding the rule of Scardale Town, the first power to land a couple of hundred troops in the harbor is likely to claim the city -- unless the other powers are willing to dispute the issue with troops of their own.