Harrowdale, formerly Velarsdale and Halvan's Dale, was the oldest of the surviving dale within the Dalelands. It mainly consisted of human inhabitants, as well as some elven and half-elven people. Its capital and largest town was also shared the same name, before it was changed to New Velar in 1428 DR.
Inhabitants of Harrowdale were known as Harrans, sometimes also Harrovans or Velarr, and as of 1368 DR, were primarily farmers and foresters. Cormyreans and Sembians would sometimes use the term Harrowdalesmen, but this was frowned upon by its inhabitants.
Harrans were generally tolerant to outsiders, including new goods and ideas, tight-lipped around strangers however, and often gave outsiders the impression they were dim-witted. Harrans would use the phrases "up Green way" or "deep in the Green" to refer to someone who was in the newly wooden part of the dale between Velarswood and Cormanthor. Overall they were a quiet and confidant people, who garnered centuries of prosperity and wealth.
Despite being invaded in the years prior to 1374 DR, by this time, the dale still mostly kept its "oldblood" farming families from its founding days, such as Brondas, Dyzur, Mumfyrd and Routhgaer.
Harrowdale was ruled by the Seven Burghers, who were the wealthiest people in Harrowdale, and each held his or her position until death or opting to step down. This system of burghers was introduced after Halvan the Dark's rule ended.
The burghers levied a "small" tax upon the people and used this money for road and port maintenance as well as other community services. They were also bestowed with the power to pass new laws, although this was rare. As of 1368 DR, the dale was under the same rule of law used in Halvan's time.
Law and defense
The Grey Riders,[note 1] were a group of mounted rangers used to guard against bandits or monsters in the woods of the dale. In 1368 DR, the Riders had no authority to make arrests, but by 1374 DR, they had been granted the power of arrest, to keep prisoners in captivity, and transport them to Harrowdale Town for justice by the Council.
The citizens of Harrowdale have always had the right to burn or bury the dead. This was in order to prevent the spread of disease, but has been used to cover up many murders.
The felling of trees from the edge of the forest of Cormanthor or the Velarswood was forbidden as of 1374 DR.
Harrowdale was originally known as Velarsdale, after its founder Velar. Between 1120 DR and the 1180s, the dale was often invaded by adventurers and mercenaries, often coming north from Sembia, who would proclaim themselves "Lord" of the dale. During these years, it was held by: Thaundass Rahr, Orimmon, Feltaern Urnsarr, Imbar Thaelwood, Elzar Darth, Harlstakh Kethtor and Elmaer Oraun. At some point before the 1180s DR, under the rule of Orimmon, the dale was renamed to Harrowdale and then, by Elmaer Oraun, back to Velarsdale.
In the 1180s DR, Halvan the Dark seized the dale and renamed it Halvan's Dale. Halvan then hired Durl Halfaxe to construct a road from Harrowdale through the forest of Cormanthor and join up with the Moonsea Ride, known as the Halfaxe Trail. This was done in an attempt to attract trade from the Ride; while doing so, Halvan attempted to loot Myth Drannor. During this endeavour, Halvan, Halfaxe and their forces were killed by powerful magic from within the ruins. After Halvan's fall the dale's name reverted back to Harrowdale.
In 1356 DR, Lord Lashan Aumersair of Scardale invaded and conquered Harrowdale in the second inter-dale war, but his forces were soon defeated. After the misfortunes of the neighboring Scardale, which was in a relative state of chaos after the war it started, Harrowdale began to thrive and became one of the biggest ports into the Dales.
Following the actions of Sembia to annex or outright invade various dales in the early 15th century, Harrowdale struck an alliance with renewed Myth Drannor, restored the Standing Stone and renamed their capital city to New Velar in 1428 DR.
The land of Harrowdale was well-suited to grow berries and vines. Although some wooden stump and rail fences existed there were an abundance of hedgerows, which were generally pruned well. Some Harrans kept small lots for the growth of trees, such as duskwoods, maples and pines. These acted as ideal sites for the cultivation of mushrooms, shade for livestock and a source lumber if the need arose. Orchards of apple, pear and grus-grus were common throughout the dale.
Harrowdale was comprised of a river valley with rolling woodlands to the north. As of 1372 DR the river had long disappeared and was thought to have been lost during Underdark mining. The marshy areas of Harrowdale had, in prior times, mostly been consumed by irrigation of agricultural lands in the dale, although many small creeks and ponds remained.
There were also traces of a previous society-old throughout the dale. Cut-off bridges, old mill stones and crumbling stone walls were scattered throughout the landscape.
- Cold Field: A sparsely landmarked moor that was haunted by the spirits of warriors killed in battle.
- Velarswood: This ancient forest was full of dangers that kept loggers to its outer fringes. Among the perils within were cloakers, stirges and drow.
Most cottages in Harrowdale were sealed with mud cement and then whitewashed, with a thatched roof, sometimes covered in a layer of earth. Due to the fear of disease following the second inter-dale war, paddocks and inns typically had a horsepond, through which all incoming animals had to be led before being allowed to stable overnight. Inns also typically had a bed of sand or mud that visitors had to scrub in, before a pond in which they must wash. Sometimes the clergy of local temples, who also had such baths for their members and guests, would cast purifying magic on these waters.
Many farm plots in Harrowdale had a separate storage cellar, made from stone and lined with mud, used to store items that would be sold to merchants working Harrowdale routes. This practice, along with the law against felling trees, led to the area between the Velarswood and the edge of Cormanthor to contain smaller woodland plots, as of 1374 DR.
The settlements within Harrowdale included:
- Lanfroe : Another small village on the Harrow Ride.
- New Velar : As of 1368 DR, the capital, and one of only two ports along the Dragon Reach in the Dalelands.Prior to 1428 DR it was known as Harrowdale Town.
- Velarsburg : A market town in the north of Harrowdale, west of the Velarswood, and as of 1368 DR, the center of logging and carpentry trades.
- Velartree : A hamlet marking the north western end of the Harrow Ride and the start of the Halfaxe Trail through the forest of Cormanthor.
- Temple of the Harvest Moon: The center of this impressively-built temple was a giant copper moon that was continuously illuminated with magic.
- In Volo's Guide to the Dalelands they are referred to as Gray Riders
- Ed Greenwood (January 1996). Volo's Guide to the Dalelands. (TSR, Inc), p. 129. ISBN 0-7869-0406-2.
- Ed Greenwood, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, Rob Heinsoo (June 2001). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 130. ISBN 0-7869-1836-5.
- Bruce R. Cordell, Ed Greenwood, Chris Sims (August 2008). Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide. Edited by Jennifer Clarke Wilkes, et al. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 111. ISBN 978-0-7869-4924-3.
- Richard Baker (1993). The Dalelands. (TSR, Inc), p. 30. ISBN 978-1560766674.
- Bruce R. Cordell, Ed Greenwood, Chris Sims (August 2008). Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide. Edited by Jennifer Clarke Wilkes, et al. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 108. ISBN 978-0-7869-4924-3.
- Ed Greenwood, The Hooded One (2004-05-25). Questions for Ed Greenwood (2004). Candlekeep Forum. Retrieved on 2016-12-09.
- Ed Greenwood (January 1996). Volo's Guide to the Dalelands. (TSR, Inc), p. 130. ISBN 0-7869-0406-2.
- Richard Baker (1993). The Dalelands. (TSR, Inc), p. 28. ISBN 978-1560766674.
- Richard Baker (1993). The Dalelands. (TSR, Inc), p. 29. ISBN 978-1560766674.
- Ed Greenwood, Julia Martin, Jeff Grubb (1993). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 2nd edition (revised), A Grand Tour of the Realms. (TSR, Inc), p. 39. ISBN 1-5607-6617-4.
- Richard Baker (1993). The Dalelands. (TSR, Inc), p. 4. ISBN 978-1560766674.
- Ed Greenwood, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, Rob Heinsoo (June 2001). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 131. ISBN 0-7869-1836-5.
- Ed Greenwood, Julia Martin, Jeff Grubb (1993). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 2nd edition (revised). (TSR, Inc). ISBN 1-5607-6617-4.
- Ed Greenwood (January 1996). Volo's Guide to the Dalelands. (TSR, Inc), p. 151. ISBN 0-7869-0406-2.
- Ed Greenwood (January 1996). Volo's Guide to the Dalelands. (TSR, Inc), p. 152. ISBN 0-7869-0406-2.
Daggerdale • Featherdale • High Dale • Mistledale • Shadowdale
Moondale • Sessrendale • Tarkhaldale • Teshendale
Arch Wood • Cormanthor • Darkwatch • Spiderhaunt Wood • Velarswood • Yevenwood
Bodies of Water
River Arkhen • River Ashaba • Feather Falls • Dragon Reach • Lake Eredruie • Glaemril
Dun Hills • Thunder Peaks • Wyvernfang
Barrowfields • Cold Field • Druid's Grove • Glaun Bog • Hidden Vale • The Scar