The Aftermath of Chaos
Half a dozen small villages lie along the upper vales of the White River. Together, they make up the Barony of Harkenwold — a realm whose total population is not much greater than Fallcrest’s.
Harkenwold is a small barony in the southeast reach of the Nentir Vale. Several tiny hamlets and a number of steadings (isolated farms) are scattered across the broad dale of the White River. The Barony is a broad valley just over 50 miles long and roughly 20 miles wide located between arms of the Harken Forest. This primarily open land consists of gently rolling hills covered in a mix of cheery meadows, light forest with little undergrowth, and the occasional thicket. Many small streams wind their way across the land, eventually joining the White River.
Harkenwolders living in the countryside are primarily farmers, shepherds, or woodcutters. Denizens of the hamlets also include woodworkers, smiths, carters, brewers, cheese makers, and leatherworkers. The other villagers tend nearby fields or orchards. Most of the citizens are humans, halflings, and dwarves, with a smattering of other folk. The ruler of Harkenwold is Baron Jonn Stockmer, an elderly man who was known for his strong sword arm in his youth. He is said to be a just and compassionate ruler.
With the exception of market days, the villages in Harkenwold rarely contain more than a couple hundred inhabitants. The Harken Village is the largest with a little over 200 villagers and about 100 inhabitants in the surrounding farmlands. The village of Albridge, spanning the White River north of Harken, is slightly smaller. The hamlets of Dardun and East Hill lie to the east of Harken while Marl and Tor’s Hold, each not much larger than a collection of steadings, lie to the west.
The White River runs the length of Harkenwold from the Briar Hills, through the Harken Forest and into the Witchlight Fens. The only primary crossing is the bridge at Albridge, but there are also two flatboat ferries that cross the waterway – one near Tor’s Hold, the other close to Easthill. There are a few halfling trading families on live-aboard barges that trade along the river between Harkenwold and the villages that border of the Witchlight Fens.
A steading is a farm or homestead in Harkenwold’s countryside. Each of these settlements features a strongly built house of fieldstone and timber, surrounded by approximately 200 acres of pastureland and cropland. Some steadings have defensive palisades around the main house. A single extended family commonly lives in the house — two or three couples with their children, their older relations, and a few hired hands. Rarely do the total inhabitants of a steading exceed 20 people. Travelers in Harkenwold are rarely more than a mile or two from the nearest steading.