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Regions of the Barrens
Even conquered by the Empire, the Barrens is wild and unknown.


The Barrens describes an area to the east of Semmerholm that remained unconquered by the Empire until Spring 385YE. Dawn maintains a series of long-established outposts on the western edge that reinforce the border against the barbarians. In general the Barrens is rich and fertile but its natural resources are almost entirely unexploited - enough to make the most jaded Varushkan merchant or wagon-raider salivate at the thought of all the untapped potential. There have been several attempts to settle it more fully, but the presence of several barbarian orcs makes establishing permanent settlements impossible. Nonetheless, the Dawnish refuse to abandon their foothold in the Barrens and it serves as a common proving ground for knights-errant.

The Barrens has always been a magnet for the exiled, the disenfranchised and the disgruntled. Between 325 YE and 328 YE it was also the scene of a short-lived rogue kingdom called Montane, founded by renegades during the events of the Freedom Heresy. The lonely territory is scattered with ruins, old stone circles, solitary towers and hidden regio, any one of which could prove to be the home of some lost treasure ... or unspeakable horror.

Girdling the Barrens is the Nameless River, a broad, slow-moving waterway that connects the Semmerlak, the Barren Sea, and the Feverwater with the sea to the east.

Recent History

By the time Empress Britta ascended the Throne, the Druj barbarians had dominated the eastern Barrens for a little over a century. They ruthlessly conquered the disparate barbarian nations who had lived there previously, and installed themselves as overlords. They used the central position of the Barrens to co-ordinate attacks on Holberg and Reikos; depleted armies would withdraw to the Barrens, and be replaced by fresh armies. There is also evidence that the Druj used the Barrens to move materials (weirwood, mithril and white granite) between the two conquered territories.

Further information about the long history of the Barrens, and detailed information about its recent history, can be found in Conflict in the Barrens

Major Features

Spires of Dusk

The Druj called this fortress The Jaws of Suffering; the Dawnish refer to it as the Spires of Dusk. Twin spires of white granite and weirwood rise along the eastern borders of the Barrens. Studded with spikes and surrounded by multiple rows of sharpened spikes, moats and carefully constructed pit-traps and staged-quagmires, only one safe approach existed to the towers. The entire are was overlooked by archery posts, and the trees that surrounded this Druj fortification were thick with traps and poisonous beasts. Looking on the towers sent a thrill of fear up the spine of all save the bravest knights.

This is at least the second castle to stand on the site; an earlier iteration was destroyed in 379YE by a combination of an assault by the combined septs of the Barrens and powerful Spring magic. When the Imperial forces struck into the Barrens at the beginning of 384YE, however, it quickly became clear that the Druj had not only rebuilt the Towers of Dusk but they had significantly reinforced them and the surrounding lands. They glared across the Barrens toward the Towers of Dawn until the resurgent Druj destroyed that fortification. They became a powerful symbol of the Druj domination of the Barrens.

In Spring 385YE, however, the Empire launched a major offensive into the Barrens that reached the Spires of Dusk. Even forced back to defensive positions, the Druj might have managed to hold the territory if not for the glorious sacrifice of the Hounds of Glory. The army spent its last iota of strength to bring the Spires into Imperial hands, and has now become something of a place of pilgrimage for both Dawnish folk who wish to reflect on their great deed, and Imperial pilgrims dedicated to Courage, Pride, and Ambition.

Eaves of Peytaht

On the northern borders of the Heart of Peytaht, a massive grove of weirwood trees that has been somewhat cultivated by the inhabitants of the Barrens. Part of the Great Forest, the Eaves of Peytaht are controlled by the Great Forest Orcs; it is estimated that it might produce 25 wains of weirwood each season in Imperial hands.

The Fangs

Along the eastern coast of the Barren sea, the Fangs are a series of perhaps a dozen massive rocky columns that rise out of the water which are mined for mithril. Several similar columns protrude from the headlands around this area. There are obvious signs of mine workings, and observation indicates that there is mithril ore to recover. It appears that the mines are quite primitive – the constant threat of flooding and the natural difficulty of mining at sea mean the Rahvin are exploiting only a fraction of the potential of this resource.

Controlled by the Rahvin at this time; it is estimated that the Fangs might produce 18 wains of mithril each season in Imperial hand – or perhaps more if advanced Imperial mining techniques were employed to help deal with the difficult conditions here. This would require an initial investment of time and resources, but it is extremely unlikely that a civil servant could give an idea of what this would cost without unrestricted access to the area.

Towers of the Dawn (ruined)

The four massively built white granite tower-keeps collectively known as the Towers of the Dawn once stood along the western borders of the Barrens in Dawnguard. This great fortification served as a base of operation for Dawnish knights exploring the Barrens, and a reminder to the orcs that while they may dominate the Barrens, they did not do so without opposition. During the Freedom Heresy, the towers were the site of an atrocity as rebellious briars murdered the yeomen and knights assigned to the First and Second towers. Ever after, the garrisons of the Towers of Dawn were unfriendly towards briars - and woe betide anyone who supported the 'virtues' of freedom within their earshot!

After several seasons of being attacked by Barrens orcs, the Towers of the Dawn were the subject of a major offensive by the Druj after the Spring Equinox 381YE. The fortification fell, smashed by overwhelming Druj force, and Dawnguard fell with it.

Lord Marrok Aurelius of Drycastle


Most of this information was gathered by the actions of brave Imperial forces working with a spy network constructed by order of the Imperial Senate. It is correct as of Autumn 378YE.


Prior to the Druj invasion of Summer 381YE Dawnguard was the location of a number of Imperial settlements, the most prominent of which was Drycastle. It held for centuries against the barbarians of the Barrens, and the Druj armies, protecting Semmerholm and northern Broceliande alike from the depredations of the orcs. Often under attack, but never conquered, the houses of Dawn tended to be more martial than average, and much more prepared for violence than Dawnishfolk in other territories. Much glory awaited the brave knights who volunteered here for dangerous adventure, and it was a popular base of operation for both questing knights and knights-errant. Before the Druj invasion, the Towers of the Dawn watched over the western borders of the Barrens; when Dawnguard fell, the fortification fell with it.


Battle between orc forces and Imperial forces are common here, giving the region its name. The soil here is particularly fertile, and there are a number of ruined villages that represent previous attempts by Imperials to settle the Barrens.

Through much of 378YE, a steady stream of orcs from Brocéliande were marked moving from west to east. The presence of the Druj forces in the Carmine Fields, and their superstition of the forest of Peytaht to the south, meant that many of these recent arrivals took up residence in this region – although there has been little conflict between the indigenous orcs and the Brocéliande refugees.

Heart of Peytaht

  • Qualities: Forest, Watchful, Great Forest Orcs

The Great Forest of Peytaht stretches across the southern Barrens, and into Reikos to the south west. Stories from Highguard that describe the forest as being possessed of some dark spirit - something that partakes of the nature of a Varushkan sovereign - appear to be based on fact. The deeper a force presses into the forest the more uneasy they feel – the more they report being watched, and the more certain they become that they are unwelcome. Imperial forces have not pressed into the deeper forest. There is, however, no hint of discernible Vallorn presence here.

In the past, the forest was said to be equally hostile to human and orc, and attempts by either Imperial or barbarian forces to explore the interior invariably met with tragedy - assuming they were ever heard of again. This seems to have changed in 367YE when the Druj launched a crippling surprise attack through the forest into Reikos; it is unclear what the situation is today, however. .

There appear to be no permanent orc forces in this forest - especially now the Great Forest orcs have left the Barrens. The Druj forces that passed through the forest from Reikos, on their way to Holberg, reportedly suffered significant losses for doing so. Even today, corpses are occasionally found huddled against the boles of the massive trees, or hung by their entrails from thick branches. The orcs appear to have died in agony and great terror.

On the north-eastern borders of the forest is a massive strand of weirwood trees, one that has clearly been cultivated for some time. The Eaves of Peytaht is the equivalent of a Bourse seat that produces a bounty of weirwood each season.

The Carmine Fields

The soil on these wide plains has a red colour which the fanciful might say is from blood but is more likely due to a high clay quotient. This region is covered with isolated rice fields, and other crops that prosper on this kind of soil.

The region has clearly been settled by orc farmers and hunters for a very long time. However, as of 378YE there are signs of recent invasion; several settlements have been burnt to the ground and the populace enslaved.


  • Quality: Forest

On the northern side of the Barren Sea is a damp forest that rises slowly to the north-east. As of 378YE it is occupied by what seems to be several large groups of indigenous orcs who have built makeshift fortified camps along the rivers and the eastern borders. It would provide a strategic location from which to strike across the river into Holberg.

Hope's Rest

  • Quality: Hills

In depth exploration of this region has proved tricky due to the rough terrain. Several times spies encountered well-hidden man-traps designed to kill – spiked pits, spring-loaded impaling arms and the like. The high hills surround a well fortified keep that appears to have only recently been completed. The southern slopes drop towards a large fresh-lake of brackish water on the other side of which are the marshy forests of Therunin.

At one point, there was a small fortification high in the hills here, named Dourfell Keep. It was not garrisoned by orcs but by humans. Imperial spies were unable to get a very close look at them but they appeared to show signs of very strong briar lineage, and the castle itself appeared to surround a strong Spring regio. Scouts reported the remains of dozens of rotted and skeletonised Druj bodies nailed to trees, impaled on spikes and crucified on makeshift “x”s. Popular belief suggested this was a community of briars descended from those who entered the Barrens as part of the Freedom Heresy, and that they were allied with the indigenous orcs - especially those of the Great Forest.

Some time before the Spring Equinox 381YE, however, Dourfell keep was destroyed. Rumour suggests that the community of briars themselves destroyed the fortification with Spring magic, to prevent it falling into Druj hands, Some exiled survivors of the community crossed into Therunin along with the Great Forest orcs in later 380YE.

The Untrod Groves

  • Quality: Forest

A deep, tangled forest that stretches from the hills of Hopes Rest to the very edge of the Plain of Teeth. The woods seem largely uninhabited by the orcs, and the only trails appear to be game trails, Trackless, it is easy to become lost in the groves – but reports also indicate that the woods are rich with untapped reserves of iridescent gloaming, beggarwood and dragonbone.

Bitter Strand

  • Qualitt: Coastal

The Barren sea is technically a great lake, but the waters are not drinkable – they are not as salty as the Bay of Catazar but it is obvious that some mineral gives the waters a foul taste. They are home to a vicious species of predatory fish the size of an ox with armoured plates on the head.

The northern coast is relatively smooth, but the southern coast is scattered with islands, many of them inhabited. Conquering this region would be made considerably easier by the addition of forces skilled at fighting amphibious assaults, such as the Red Wind Corsairs.

Along the eastern coast of the Barren sea, where it narrows as it feeds into the Saltmarsh, are the Fangs a series of perhaps a dozen massive rocky columns that rise out of the water which are mined for mithril.

The Bleaks

  • Quality: Forest

The southern forests become danker and damper as Therunin gets closer. The woods are home to a number of orc clans, many of whom live in the branches of ancient trees. There are heavily wooded marshes in the south; there are occasional sightings of both hydra and small marshwalkers.


  • Qualities: Coastal, Marsh

The eastern Barren Sea floods out across a great flat basin that contains the Saltmarsh. It is covered with treacherous rivers and streams that shift their banks regularly and without warning. The place is thick with flies and mosquitoes that leave nasty stinging welts on exposed flesh. The orcs who lived here maintain huts on stilts, and also moved about using long wooden stilts that occasionally gave them the appearance of walking on water. There appeared to be a large number of herb gardens maintained here by the indigenous orcs, no doubt captured from the Druj during the rebellion. With the Druj having largely recaptured the Barrens, it is not clear what the situation of the orcs here might be.

In Summer 384YE, then Archmage of Spring Ser Fabienne De Miel unleashed a devastating storm in the northern Barrens that battered Bitter Strand and flooded Saltmarsh. OOC Note: The region lost the Marsh quality and gained the Coastal quality, a situation predicted to persist until at least the start of the Summer Solstice 385YE.

The Plains of Teeth

The Druj oversaw their domination of the Barrens from this broken plain, and signs suggest that now they have returned, they are starting to do so again. This area may once have been heavily forested but it was ruthlessly cleared to provide building materials for the Spires of Dusk. This fortification guarded access to the Druj lands to the east. After the Spring Equinox 381YE, it was finally confirmed (after a year or more of rumour) that the towers had been destroyed - allegedly by indigenous orcs working in conjunction with Imperial citizens - although the details are not common knowledge.

Aramis du Froste (left), Senator for the Barrens
Spring Equinox 386YEAramis du Froste
Summer Solstice 385YEAramis du Froste

Recent Senate Elections

As an Imperial territory, the Barrens is represented by a senator elected in the Spring. This title is currently held by Aramis du Froste; it will be reelected at Spring Equinox 387YE. The table to the right shows the citizens who have been elected to hold this title in the years since Empress Britta died.

OOC Note

  • As of the Winter Solstice 385YE the Great Forest Orcs control the Heart of Peytaht. Dawn, and by extension the Empire, controls the rest of the territory.
  • The Spires of Dusk are a rank two fortification.
  • Prior to the Druj invasion of Summer 381YE, there were between ten and twenty thousand Dawnish citizens living the Dawnguard. With the chaos following the invasion it is impossible to say how many are still alive. There was no substantial Dawnish population outside of Dawnguard.

Further Reading

  • Not to conquer - 385YE Autumn Wind of Fortune exploring the factions of the Barrens in more detail
  • Conflict in the Barrens - provides an initial analysis of the history of the territory