State of Hillsfar
“Listen here lad, Hillsfar, the City of Trade, is a great place to make your way, as long as you’re not an elf… or a dwarf… or a halfling or well pretty much anything but human. But if you’re human, there is no better opportunity!”
-Isthana Ro, Guildmaster of Rogues
The D&D Adventurers League is excited to announce that Hillsfar is the port of call for the Rage of Demons storyline season! Hillsfar is best known for its great port of trade and its rampant racism against non-humans. How will your character fare in the City of Trade?
The State of Hillsfar
The walled city-state of Hillsfar is on the southern coast of the Moonsea, just north of the Forest of Cormanthor where three major roads meet. What began as a convenient trade stopover under the control of the Elven Court has become one of the major powers of the Moonsea, a power based on free trade and brutal racism.
Adventurers, often cosmopolitan in their views and accepting of many races, often find it difficult to spend any time at all within the city limits and most avoid it entirely in favor of nearby Elventree or The Stop.
The Recent Past
Hillsfar as it is known today began primarily in 1354 DR when the wizard Maalthiir, one of the city’s councilmen, rose to prominence as its First Lord. Over the next three years, Maalthiir would dissolve the council, cement his power by merging various mercenary companies into the Red Plumes, and begin a campaign to paint nonhumans as scapegoats for all of the city’s problems. At this time, Maalthiir also enacted the Two Great Laws which define Hillsfar:
The Great Law of Trade: Do not interfere with any legitimate trade.
The Great Law of Humanity: Only humans are allowed within Hillsfar.
Hillsfar flourished under the Great Law of Trade, expanding greatly for two decades until 1372 DR when Shade Enclave reappeared and the Netherese began a series of attacks that would embroil much of Faerûn in war. Allying with Zhentil Keep and the sun elf House Dlardrageth of Cormanthor to fight in the Dalelands, Hillsfar raised an army and garrisoned the surrounding client villages. Two years later, Hillsfar reneged on its alliance with House Dlardrageth. The sun elves responded by attacking Hillsfar’s army encamped at Standing Stone, crushing the Red Plumes, moving onto Hillsfar to level the First Lord’s Tower, and forcing Maalthiir to flee into hiding. Taking advantage of Hillsfar’s weakness, Zhentil Keep in turn betrayed Hillsfar and crushed the garrison of disputed Yûlash and invaded Hillsfar’s western territories. Within a matter of months, the Zhentilar were at the gates of Hillsfar and Fzoul Chembryl issued terms of surrender by which Zhentil Keep gained control of the Moonsea Ride.
The supremacy of Zhentil Keep was short-lived. In 1383 DR, the Netherese overran the Zhents and razed Zhentil Keep and the Citadel of the Raven. The Zhent troops occupying Hillsfar territory lost support from their homeland and abandoned their posts. The city fell to chaos for three years until 1386 DR when Maalthiir reappeared with a new force of Red Plumes. Marching to Hillsfar, he reinstalled himself as First Lord. He blamed the fall of Hillsfar on fey’ri of House Dlardageth, a demonic strain of elves, as well as on the freedoms the Zhents had offered to the nonhumans in their ranks. Maalthiir’s anti-nonhuman rhetoric played well among the general populace who had suffered in the absence of order. All nonhumans within the city were evicted, including half-humans such as half-elves and half-orcs, and all holdouts were sent to the Arena for a month-long series of celebratory games.
In 1394 DR, Maalthiir noted that the elves of Myth Drannor were a very real threat to Hillsfar without Hillsfar’s former alliances. To appease the Elven Court in Myth Drannor, he relaxed his policies related to The Great Law of Humanity as applied to the territories surrounding Hillsfar and formed a council made up of humans, half-elves, and elves willing to do business with Hillsfar’s neighbors on behalf of the First Lord. This puppet council was little more than a show, but it was enough to encourage renewed trade and a neutrality pact between Myth Drannor and Hillsfar, despite the city’s prevalent racist policies.
Red PlumeIn 1460 DR, Maalthiir died in a failed attempt to achieve lichdom. In his stead, an ineffectual council of merchants and guildmasters assumed control of Hillsfar. Several members of both the council and the Red Plumes put themselves forward as the next First Lord, leading to fighting in the streets between their supporters. Torin Nomerthal, a commander among the Red Plumes, formed an alliance that became the Tower Guard; the alliance was made up of the Red Plumes, the city’s Mages’ Guild, various mercenary companies, and those pockets of Netherese soldiers whose allegiance could be bought. In 1487 DR, the flying Netherese city of Thultanthar fell upon Myth Drannor, destroying both cities. First Lord Torin Nomerthal, who had renamed the Tower Guard as the Red Plumes, executed the remaining Shadovar and, fearing no elven reprisal, began the second purge of nonhumans from Hillsfar. He also firmly reasserted the Great Laws within the walls of the city, cultivating a manic xenophobia among the human citizens. Although nonhumans are allowed to live and work outside the city, Torin has since implemented punitive laws and harsh taxes that have made all nonhumans little better than serfs. Once again, the only nonhumans within the city are found at the Arena, waiting for death or glory at the whim of the baying Hillfaran crowds.
Religion in Hillsfar
Religion is not the driving force in Hillsfar that it is in other Moonsea cities. Due to its tumultuous history with the Zhentarim, Hillsfar has no appreciable following of Bane. Instead, due to the city’s extensive brewing industry, the worship of both Lliira and Chauntea are much more popular.
The House of Happiness appears a lively festhall where ribbons and flowers decorate the walls and ale and mead are served by Lliira’s Joydancers. All are welcome in Lliira’s hall. Musicians and dancers performing for the intoxicated worshippers who leave their troubles at the door.
The temple of Chauntea is a modest building called Lastholme that is frequented by farmers. Home to much sought after mead, the Earthmother’s followers do a brisk trade in food and drink and operate a bustling orphanage; recently expanded to make room for Hillsfar’s growing flood of unwanted babies.
The followers of Tempus congregate at the Vault of Swords. While regular attendees of the games in the Arena, it is no secret that the Battleguards do not support the enslavement of nonhumans who are forced to fight to the death for nothing more than the crime of being born. The words from the Tempuran Litany “Disparage No Foe and Respect All” is carved above the doors to the temple; a silent protest for the wrongs done within the city.
Small unstaffed shrines to Umberlee, Malar, and Torm can also be found in the city.
The Great Law of Humanity
Life in Hillsfar is harsh for nonhumans. There are only two ways to enter the city, via the Docks and the city’s sole gate. The Red Plumes interview everyone attempting to enter, looking for nonhumans in magical or mundane disguises. Those captured at the gate, coming off a boat, or found within the city are immediately sentenced to the Arena until such time as they die. Their lives are not often long. The bodies of nonhumans who die in the Arena are blessed clerics of Tempus and then ground into fertilizer for the surrounding farms.
Locations outside Hillsfar
Given that nonhumans cannot legally enter Hillsfar with about being sentenced to death in the arena, many find themselves outside the city. There are numerous farms there, owned by both humans and nonhumans, though nonhumans must pay onerous taxes in order to keep their homes.
The village of Elventree is idyllic, peaceful, and friendly to nonhumans seeking succor from Hillsfar, particularly elves, half-elves, and members of the Harpers. Located east of Hillsfar inside the edge of the Cormanthor forest since 702 DR, it is a place of solace for many escaping the oppression of Hillsfar. The people of Elventree build their homes among the wizened trees of the ancient forest and the construction blends well with the natural surroundings, with tree houses connected by rope bridges being most common. While the village does produce a selection of natural products and elven crafts, there are no trade halls or caravan stops, and merchants rarely call. The most common visitors are those that have been turned away from the gates of Hillsfar because their party included nonhumans. These rare visits often become times of festival and celebration. The people of Elventree venerate many of the good-aligned or nature deities. The Hall of the Unicorn, dedicated to Mielikki, is the only full temple and adds to the village’s appeal. Elventree also hosts several shrines: a well-staffed shrine to Mystra called the Cairn of Mysteries, whose high priest is known by the title The Sentinel; a shrine to Selune known as the Silver Shadow Cave; a shrine to Eilistraee outside of the village called the Dancing Stone; and minor shrines to Chauntea, Silvanus, Eldath, Corellon Larethian, and Rillifane Rallthil. Spellcasting services can be acquired at the Hall of Mielikki, the Silver Shadow Cave, the Dancing Stone, and the Cairn of Mysteries. For nearly a century, the Moonsilver Herald of Elventree has been the famous elven bard Elanil Elassidil. Her strong song is the heart and soul of the village, especially since the elderly half-elven Lord of Elventree, Dessaer, is not long for this world. Several refugees of Phlan have found their way to Elventree in search of allies and at the behest of the Harpers, who have quartered in Elventree at the House of the Harp for generations. The other factions have recently been invited to set up camps surrounding the village, and their operatives have only just arrived. As it grows in the attention of the factions, Elventree is poised to become the center of significant intrigue for the near future. More adventurers arrive every day.
Just north of Elventree, the village of Lighthouse has recently sprung up around an ancient and abandoned lighthouse known as Elua’s Lighthouse miles from the coast due to changes in the depth of the Moonsea. The settlement is populated by those nonhumans formerly of Hillsfar and generally follows the lead of Elventree.
The former client village of Hillsfar, Yûlash, is now largely abandoned. The subterranean tunnels beneath the village are rumored to be overrun with foul things from the Underdark. Few are willing to chance a visit.
The Stop is a caravan way station halfway between Hillsfar and Yûlash that has grown into a hamlet devoted to servicing caravans and the many surrounding farms. Due to the frequent caravans, The Stop is quite cosmopolitan for lands near Hillsfar. Many of the Phlan refugees have relocated here following the elemental devastation that has led to food shortages in Mulmaster, in hopes of finding supplies to aid their families still in the City of Danger. Still near to Hillsfar, but with few Red Plumes to watch it, The Stop is a frequent place for spies, brigands, and ne’er-do-wells to ply their trades. After Elventree, The Stop is the most common place where adventurers are found.