The land shudders under the weight of invisible titans, wrestling for control. Yet their battleground is as thin as parchment. Mightier powers slumber beneath, and when they wake, the land shall be made anew, and its people shall quake with fear no more.
—From an augury by Rohini the Prophet
People think of the North as a cold and savage place filled with untold danger. They say the folk who live there must be crazed, on the run from the law, or unwanted by the rest of the world—not to mention hardened to the rigors and terrors of the wild and unknowable North.
This chapter describes numerous locations to use in a Neverwinter campaign, including intriguing sites, interesting personalities, handy ways to bring player characters into an adventure, and other details. The locations are not fully mapped or described from end to end; instead, they serve as foundations to which you can add your own ideas and creativity. Following are the major areas covered in the chapter.
Ruined Neverwinter: Devastated by both the Spellplague and a cataclysm, Neverwinter struggles to rebuild while grappling with dangerous ruins, political intrigues, and plaguechanged horrors.
Helm’s Hold: This monastic community with a village of stout-hearted people hides terrible and terrifying threats to the region.
Neverwinter Wood: A wide array of strange locales connected to the factions in the region lies within these woods.
Gauntlgrym: The legendary dwarven city lies hidden and filled with mysterious dangers.
Evernight: A Shadowfell reflection of Neverwinter, ruled by undead and is a battleground for a cloak-and-dagger war between Netheril and Thay.
Thay Through the Veil: Distant Thay can be part of the campaign if the characters follow the threads of the war in Evernight.
Leagues beyond Neverwinter, a thick press of trees shrouds a foreign world in shadows and fear. In places, the land’s brush grows into dense walls, and trespassers must hew through it branch by branch to gain access to the land’s private places. Where the thickets are lighter and natural pathways allow for easier travel, the land’s aura is no less menacing. Overhead, the canopy’s branches and leaves intertwine into wooden fists, blotting out the sun and transforming the idea of “day” into a memory of brighter, safer domains. Travelers who risk entering this looming forest feel baleful eyes tracking their movements. Despite the warm temperature, a coldness creeps inside their clothing, sending shivers down their spines.
This is Neverwinter Wood. Dark and brutal outsiders journey here to steal power, magic, and lives. Monstrous denizens of this world and others dwell here in shadows, glaring in hatred at ignorant mortals who think to tame the wilds. Here, the bones of ancient civilizations that believed their magic a match for the woods reside as testaments of their folly. And here, the ghosts of such mistakes haunt the edges of this foreign reality, never escaping the winter of their lives.
In Neverwinter Wood’s deepest region, where shadows weigh on travelers like wet wool, something malign lurks. The thick forest ends abruptly, its border abutting a circular field of ash. Animals give wide berth to the site, and the surrounding forest land is blanketed in a chilling, breathless silence. Heavy, stale air—redolent with the tang of disease—resists any breeze, stubbornly squatting over the clearing.
A few hundred feet in from the perimeter, black stones rise from cracked, lifeless soil. Walls, pillars, spindly towers, and gaping gates form an uneven circle of nefarious import. This structure, a combination of ritual focus and functional fortress, is one of Thay’s Dread Rings. Szass Tam, the lich regent of Thay, created the rings for use in a fell ritual in his quest to attain godhood. His efforts were thwarted, however, and this ring is now the center of Valindra Shadowmantle’s regional efforts. Despite its stones having been broken, its walls hanging open, and its initial purpose going unfulfilled, the structure still holds more power than any sane person would want Thay to possess.
Adventurers who approach the ring do so without their mounts, since typical beasts step into the circle of ash only if they are forced. Familiars, beast companions, and the like are apt to proceed, snarling or whimpering, if their masters do.
Even within the unnatural oppression of Neverwinter Wood, the ring’s malignity stands out against the surrounding landscape’s. Characters who have training in Arcana automatically sense the magic in the broken walls of the Dread Ring (though they cannot tell its purpose). As their teeth chatter, their palms sweat, and their souls clench, even the most unobservant adventurers can tell this is a warped place.
The Neverwinter Experience
Once a glittering beacon of civilization, the Jewel of the North now promises death to the timid, glory to the bold, and danger for all. This is Neverwinter: join the adventure, choose your faction, and change the game!
Visit the Explore Neverwinter site!