Arden is a town of medium size in the country of Moriga. The town, the nearby river, and the valley share a common name taken from the town's founder. As is common throughout much of Moriga, the town's population is a mix of many different races, all of which live in relative peace with the others. The primary races in the area are humans and dwarves.
The broader area around Arden was actually first settled by dwarves. Very early in the Age of Discord a small clan made its way south and west from its original home in Rindis into Moriga's mountainous Three Sisters region in search of a safe place to dwell.
Their first settlement, a stone-walled firsthome named Thandûl, served as a temporary fortified home in the foothills until the dwarves could take comfort in their eventual cavernous home. As they started their new delve, they found several rich seams of precious and semiprecious ores. Later in the age, when uneasy truces took shape and tensions between races began to settle down, it wasn't long before the clan began active trading with nearby settlements. The clan, soon to take the name Ironstag, garnered a reputation as shrewd traders and reliable allies.
Arden formed as a town about 150 years ago. The dwarves of Ironstag Delve had long sold their precious and semiprecious ores to the more populous (and resource-hungry) areas of the north, but the way was long for a people little used to leaving their mountain home. During one market trip to the large city of Flenmoor, some keen dwarven merchants spoke to many adventurous sorts, hoping to convince them to come survey the valley in hopes that they would found a settlement, thus shortening the trade route. The dwarves would have shorter trips from home, and the residents of the town could charge what they willed for the ore.
Such was the distance to and roughness of the area around Ironstag Delve that many disregarded the plea. Just as the merchants were about to give up, they found one last opportunity. On the road home they happened to overtake a lone human on a dispirited looking horse. After some conversation, the man agreed to take a look, and rode with the caravan the remainder of the way south.
Little did the dwarves know they had taken up with one Arden Gadderake, a human of dubious traits, who had just been forced to leave Flenmoor for some egregious offenses, to include swindling the mayor of Flenmoor out of a small fortune. Alone and contemplating his possibilities, Gadderake saw the potential in the proposition, and felt it was better to regroup and find a way to get back at Flenmoor for the indignities heaped upon him.
The land set aside for a settlement was clearly the result of a good amount of thought. Set on The Rock, a crag overlooking the river below, the location would be easily defensible yet have access to the road and some arable land. The land would never be bountiful thanks to the rocky substratum, but it would provide enough to sustain a small to medium town. Gadderake accepted the charge, and quickly began sending word to some of his contacts to join him.
At first, Gadderake called to those who had assisted him in his notorious endeavors, and at first the town of Arden was called The Rat's Nest since so many undesirable sorts tended to gather there. The town would surely have collapsed or drawn the unwelcome attentions of the king of Moriga, but for a happy circumstance. As money began pouring into the town thanks to the increase in trade, Gadderake began to realize the treasure on which he sat, a treasure that would be taken from him by king or by dwarves if he didn't get things under control. Within a few months of this seminal event, he had purged the town of the riffraff he had attracted at first, and had instead begun attracting the attention of prosperous, skilled families to come settle. Gadderake found he had an aptitude for running a town, and grew to love it. Eventually he changed his name to Garderock, hoping to shed his past image in favor of the new.
Thus Arden started as a trading post and grew steadily, though not as quickly as other towns to the north. Its proximity to the more arid Southlands means that it serves more as an endpoint than a central trading hub. Since trade with Muwaka has developed significantly in the past fifty years, Arden has grown in importance as a launching point for groups venturing through the arid Southlands.
The skills brought into Arden have mostly been passed down through three successive generations, leading to a center of commerce, industry, and inventiveness in an otherwise remote corner of the land. Meanwhile, the ejected ruffians settled in the rough hills and have continued to survive on passing caravans .
Ironstag clan lore says that the clan's founding chief sought a particular sign, "a tree of iron" that would mark the site of their eventual home. They moved steadily through what is now Vondheide in search of the sign, traversed the spine of the Three Sisters, and descended at last into the Arden Valley. The legend states that as the chief knelt alone at the river's edge to wash the grime of the arduous journey from his face, a large stag with iron antlers appeared near him, stepping from the morning fog to drink from the running waters. Its antlers were so large they appeared to be a tree. The chief, struck by the image and aware that his search was over, was transfixed with wonder. The stag drank its fill, regarded the chief in silence for a long moment, then turned and disappeared into the fog.
Through the long years since that first sighting, the tale of the Iron Stag has permeated the valley. The dwarven clan takes its name from the beast, and The Great Stag Inn is the popular gathering spot in Arden. Over time many claim to have seen the Iron Stag, always while alone. These encounters are never frightening, just awe-inspiring; each account talks about a sense of peace while in the presence of the beast. Though the term "to see the Stag," meaning to tell a lie, is bandied about among the people of Arden, most townspeople are quick to say they feel a sense of safety thanks to their elusive neighbor.
The crest of the town derives from the ongoing tale. It shows a stag's head on a field of blue.
The Arden Valley is bounded on the east by the Three Sisters, a high range of dolomite mountains that run roughly north-south through the upper central part of Moriga. The Arden River, a broad, swift river that provides a reliable trade route through the country, runs southward through here, terminating at some distant point in the hotter reaches of southern Moriga. West of the valley, just over the Run-of-Hills that forms its western boundary, the land evens out into grassy plains.
A great mine collapse has recently forced the Ironstag dwarves to vacate their ancient home temporarily. They have settled near Arden and have striven to work closely with the town to maintain a friendly relationship. True to the nature of dwarves, rather than move into Arden proper, they have decided to restore their ancient fortified settlement until they can locate a suitable place in which to build a new delve. Arden's leaders are attempting to negotiate with Finnulf "Firmhand" Ironstag to ensure the clan remains in Arden Valley, since the delve's ore supply is the primary source of income for the town.
- Season 1, Ep 1 - Arden You Gonna Go My Way?
- Season 1, Ep 2 - Beware of Gruls
- Season 1, Ep 3 - Everybody was Bandit Fighting
- Season 1, Ep 6 - Rock this Town
- Season 1, Ep 7 - Hard Attack
- Season 1, Ep 8 - Puttin' on the Ritz
- Season 1, Ep 9 - Get this Party Started
Arden is the starting location for the podcast game.