Uthrael Beoac and the Wind Thrones
Wilderness RPG adventure in the Grey Mountains of Tolkien’s Middle Earth
Page 1: Introduction, Overview, & Getting There
This a Role Playing adventure set in Tolkien’s Middle Earth. The scenario details an isolated mountain valley high in the central Ered Mithrin (Grey Mountains). This valley is known by the Rhovanion Northmen name of Uthrael Beoac (Rh. Valley of Lords).
This adventure location uses many ideas from I.C.E.’s Middle Earth Role Playing game, specifically the campaign books ‘The Grey Mountains’ and ‘Northern Mirkwood’. Some ideas were also borrowed from the Middle-earth Role Playing Wiki (merp.wikia.com). Terms and statistics for adversaries, NPCs, items and such, as given in this scenario, are generic guidelines only and should present little effort for a GM to adapt to their RPG system of choice.
High in the Grey Mountains lies the hidden valley of Uthrael Beoac. The isolated valley is cradled by peaks between the source of the Forest River and the Withered Heath. Known to the ancient Edain from the First and Second ages this valley appears sporadically in various records of the free folk but little of reliability is known by the folk of Rhovanion.
The valley itself was carved by glaciers eons ago. More recent tectonic activity warms the area with hot springs and geysers keeping parts of the valley floor from freezing in the winter months. Spring meltwater runs off the surrounding peaks and collects in several small lakes that drain out of the valley via limestone caverns. The hot springs combine with a powerful enchantment to keep the valley Dragon free and thus comparatively habitable.
The valley was once a sacred place for the Edain. These early kingdoms of men discovered Uthrael Beoac in the First Age. They built structures to focus cunning enchantments but the Edain were gradually weakened by Orc attacks and internal feuding. They were eventually driven out of the mountains by Wargs and other foul creatures in the mid Second Age. These creatures still dwell in this high place amongst the crumbling ruins of an older age. By the Third Age access to Uthrael Beoac is tricky and dangerous. Life within the valley itself is also very hazardous.
3.0 The Valley of Uthrael Beoac:
The valley of Uthrael Beoac is nearly 35 miles long and up to 10 miles wide. The closed bowl-like valley was carved by glaciers. When Morgoth brought the great lamps down, a shard of Illuin fell into the valley igniting geothermal vents beneath. The valley warmed and became habitable.
The Edain sensed the sacred power and settled here in the First and Second ages. Lords of the Edain used the valley as a high retreat, a removed seat of power. This line of Kings were skilled mages, seers and astronomers and the alpine vale came to be known as Valley of the Lords. They built stone circles and magical thrones here, to study the seasons, the sun and the stars. One of the Stone Circles was built over a shard of the fallen lamp Illuin, which powers the perpetual enchantments laid upon the circles and Thrones. The coming of the Dragons posed a great threat to the valley. The Edain used sorcery and sacrifice to channel and alter the power of the shard to create a Dragon repelling shield upon Uthrael Beoac.
They were successful but the twisted words of a dying Dragon incited centuries of feuding that weakened the Edain. Eventually Orcs from Turwurdrog threatened the main western pass into the valley and evil wolves began to enter from the North and East. After many years the weakened Edain culture could not resist and they either perished or removed to Rhovanion. The sacred stone circles still attract their ancestors in risky pilgrimages as the vale is now dominated by three Werewolves and the large Warg pack who venerate them.
Most peaks surrounding Uthrael Beoac reach at least 7000 feet. The valley floor ranges from 3500 to 4000 feet. Uthrael Beoac was carved by glaciers giving its slopes a distinct U shape. Hanging valleys enter the main valley at precipitous heights creating several spectacular waterfalls in spring and summer. The valley has two low points in the west and east with a highland steppe in the central zone. The misty lowlands are occupied by still lakes and small forests. Excess water finds its way down into sinkholes where underground rivers drain to the north and south, or into the Underdeeps. Flash flooding may occur in spring as glacial dams burst and erupt out of hanging valleys.
The valley has become geologically active with hot springs and geysers melting the previously dominant glaciers and creating a micro-climate. Small forests of pines and birch have recolonised the valley in the west while grassy plains dominate the centre and east.
Climate is arctic on the peaks and sub-arctic in the valley itself. Spring and summer last less than 4 months. The winds can be horrific on the upper slopes but inside the sheltering valley strong breezes are blessedly rare. However the cold does roil down the mountain sides and is only staved off by the geothermal heating. Winter temperature averages 2 degrees Celsius in the West Hollow making the valley bearable.
Precipitation is plentiful throughout the year. Light sprinklings of snow are common in spring and autumn and heavy dumps are not unknown. The sheltered nature of the valley and the slight heating effect of the hot springs allows larger vegetation to grow at this altitude.
3.2 Flora and Fauna
Stunted trees, hardy grasses, mosses and lichens are the main vegetation types. Stocky North Pines and Silver Firs grow in sheltered groves often near geothermal heated pools and/or in areas that receive a large share of sunshine. Several rare herbs grow up here including the frostbite curing Tekek bush, and the dangerous Chebkuile moss which can kill or cure depending on time of harvest. Grass covers the rest of the valley and attracts large herds of Losrandir, Elk and Mountain Goats. The Edain even grazed herds of sheep up here in the second age but these have long since been hunted out.
Wargs winter in the valley and hunt the grazers whenever and wherever they can find them. The Wargs are under the spell of Werewolves and will not negotiate with Orcs, let alone anyone else. A colony of Fell Beasts live in the peaks to the south of the valley. They occasionally swoop into Uthrael Beoac and take Losrandir, Mountain Goats, Wargs and anyone else they can get their claws into. Orcs prowl the pass to the west but rarely enter the valley. They have a long history of trouble here, with first the Edain and now the Wargs. Wights infest several of the tombs in the valley. Trolls, Snow Lions, and Bears of various types are commonly encountered on the fringes of the valley but rarely in Uthrael Beoac itself: the three Werewolves, and the Warg packs they rule, are the apex predators here.
4.0 Getting there:
Other than flying, there are 4 accessible passes that allow entry to the valley. All require a modicum of navigation, scrambling, perseverance and possibly mountaineering skills. The GM should emphasise that access to the valley is not easy. Ideally the players will have a map to assist or, better still, a guide.
Eastern Gorge: At the far eastern end of Uthrael Beoac a misty waterfall plummets into the Eastern Dell from a steep-sided hanging valley. This gorge is the end of a long winding pass that eventually leads to Mount Gondmaeglom. This pass is rarely used as several lesser Drakes dwell in dark maggot holes overlooking the long gorge. Players entering from this way will have been in the mountains for weeks. The way in follows the perilous old Dwarf track from the Grey Mountain Narrows to just south of Gondmaeglom (and the Dwarf ruin of Silverplunge), and then traces a faint trail west through interconnecting valleys for several days.
The gorge entry into Uthrael Beoac is a hanging valley over a cliff face 100 yards above the valley floor –a small glacier once carved the last mile of the eastern gorge. A thin waterfall mists the rock face in the warmer months. Scrambling and two difficult climb rolls are needed to ascend/descend at this point. Following Warg tracks will reveal an easier path concealed behind fallen rocks and stunted shrubs. It ascends the cliff up switchback ledges to the hanging valley. The eastern Warg pack exits the valley via this gorge.
Northern Cleft: Another pass exists to the north. This way is used by Losrandir and the White Warg pack that seasonally dwells in Uthrael Beoac. It enters above the Mist Maze near the edge of the central steppe. Exiting via this way gives the options of linking up with Cirith Himninond to the west or trickling out into the hills to the north east. Giants living in the northern foothills use this cleft every couple of decades, usually following a Losrandir migration. They stay briefly in the eastern end of Uthrael Beoac to worship at the Edain site. Near the mouth of the pass is a collapsed stone tower dating from the mid second age. There is also large but crude 3rd age barrow not far from the tower. Inside lies the bones of a giant. She was slain fighting the Werewolves. Fiendish GMs might like to include a giant-sized wight or revenant here.
Western Pass– Cirith Himninond: The main route (and likely entrance for players) into Uthrael Beoac is up the Forest River valley into Cirith Himninond. This pass though the Grey Mountains is close to the western end of Uthrael Beoac. The pass entry to the valley is usually open from spring to mid- autumn. Depending on which era it is there’s a chance of encountering an Orc patrol snooping down to the lowlands. There are three streams that lead off to the east from the pass…
–The first stream tumbles over a series of waterfalls requiring climbing rolls to ascend the steep terrain. From here the stream leads east into a vast craggy valley of jumbled terrain. Known to the Northmen as the Shattered Fold, the huge basaltic slabs and boulders make hiking here very slow. Fell beasts loiter in the skies preying upon mountain goats. Small Warg packs hunt Losrandir herds in spring and autumn. Several perfectly camouflaged Stone Trolls also live in this rocky wasteland. Assuming the players have a map, or are familiar with the exact route, it is more than a week of scrambling from the stream head to get to the pass the Beornings call ‘Fool’s Gap’. It enters from the south into Uthrael Beoac. Beware rock slides in spring and summer and blizzards in autumn, winter. It is Very to Absurdly Difficult to find the way via this route.
–The second stream is half a day further up the Forest River on the right. Following this also requires several climbing rolls and a nasty encounter with a slimy Stone Troll hungry for some real meat. It lies in a shadowy ravine, camouflaged among the wet boulders on the stream bank, waiting for something tasty to swim or walk past. Beyond the Troll, the trail and the creek peter out on a ridge leading into a huge craggy valley. From here it is not obvious how to proceed. Going around the base of the mountain peak to the north leads to a long slope up to the main pass to Uthrael Beoac’s western entrance. Very Difficult to find the way. Tracking and spotting roles do reveal faint traces of a trail in several places which, after a 3 day hike, joins the main track to the pass. Beware Fell Beasts and small Warg packs.
–The third stream is two days hike beyond the first. This is the ideal route and the way that the Edain used. The main path diverts from the Forest River at a stream that veers off to the east near the top of the pass. A climbing roll is needed to safely reach this point as the track is very poor.
[At the river junction one can glimpse the Forest River tumbling out of the mountains over the magnificent Steel Fall, several miles to the north-west. Legend has it that the Dragon Uruial once haunted the falls area. The main trail of the pass, which is still little more than an animal run, avoids Steel Fall and follows a stream to the north east. The trail follows the white water deep into the Grey Mountains] and ultimately out into Forodwaith.
Another climbing roll is required before the players reach a fallen dolmen next to the path, several miles past the stream junction. This is the marker indicating the turn off. Staying on the track will eventually lead to the frozen north as Cirith Himninond winds its way through the range. Beware patrolling Lor-uruk- shab Orcs of Turwurdrog once though the crest of the pass.
At the dolmen if the players turn east, off the track, they will come to a dry ravine running steeply uphill. The ravine emerges onto wooded saddle between two huge mountains. Brown bears inhabit this montane forest but otherwise it an easy hike through the saddle following a faint trail. Once over the saddle the path edges up the flank of the northern mountain for a long days march. Eventually another track joins from the south (from the Second Stream) at the ominous entry to a gully leading north-west up the mountain’s shoulder…
[Occasional rock slabs that seem like steps, assist weary climbers. The gully eventually levels out on a shelf beneath an escarpment. The mountain shoulder before you has no track, but a water cut notch offers a likely ascent point. The notch is full of sliding scree at its base. Bone fragments are evident in the rubble. After painfully scrambling up 100 yards the slope funnels into another ravine cutting into a broken cliff face. Wind howls down the funnel off the huge peak to the north. After a thigh burning 100 yard climb, worn slab steps again poke through the debris. A rock-fall near the top ends the easy ascent. Fresh rock has fallen off the ravine sides filling the gully with huge sharp blocks. They have to be climbed over – a slip will lead to a short but deadly fall onto hard edges.]
Another climbing roll and a Ld/ morale/ sanity test are required to surmount this wretched ascent. Cresting this shoulder the players are greeted with a spectacular view of Uthrael Beoac from its western most point.
The View from the Crest: [The spectacular valley stretches to the east. From this vantage point a trail winds downward disappearing over steep edges. The circular rubble of what looks like a ruined tower is visible a mile or so down-slope on a rocky pinnacle. Beyond it, on the valley floor, small lakes and little forests are visible in the mist- shrouded depths. In the middle distance a central hilly area with grass and shrubs can be seen and in the distance an Elf might make out ruins of some kind at the far eastern end of the valley. The elongate valley is lined on north and south by huge snow-capped mountain peaks running in two ragged lines eastward. The wind buffets the players on their spectacular Grey Mountain perch.]
The Edain fought many small battles versus Orcs on this very spot defending the cleft entrance. The ruined tower/barracks downslope guards another choke point – where the trail descends from the cliffs into the valley. This is the edge of the Dragon Repulsion Ward field that protects the valley. Dragons must make a Morale test every minute at progressively harder penalties or turn away.
Continued on Page 2: Uthrael Beoac: Valley Locations, About the Wind Thrones