Vandresca is an island nation isolated from the rest of the world by ocean, and veiled in secrecy and hostility in equal measure. Little is known about this part of the world, but rumors, naturally, are plenty.
Most who have ever set foot on the island have never returned to tell, but those few who did speak of untamed forestland and wild beasts of every variety, and only the barest hints of intelligent population from arrows of some elven design (see right: an arrowhead retrieved from the island by a now-anonymous adventurer).
Vandresca was first discovered about 200 years before the Race Wars. The exploration team was led by then-famed adventurer and noblewoman Anovelle Dwetly. Bad reefs and sandbars surrounding the island, along with an untimely spell of poor weather prevented Lady Dwetly from landing on the island. Some years later, she commissioned a series of adventurers to accomplish the task of scouting the island for resources. History records that none of these excursions ever returned, to the ire of Lady Dwetly, who herself believed that many of the would-be explorers had run off with the supplies and weapons purchased for the mission.
The island soon faded into obscurity, recorded only as superstition until it was rediscovered by a pirate vessel and its crew, led by the ruthless Grimmbly Goldstout. The pirates claimed to have been blown off course by a storm, losing most of their gathered bounty and provisions, and made landing on Vandresca to forage for food and fresh water. Goldstout, himself, had ventured into the woods with a small group of crewmen, but were set upon by the beasts of the island and forced to flee.
With the island’s rediscovery and seemingly virgin wilderness just waiting to be spoiled by the first country or organization with the will to conquer, a new wave of adventurers attempted to make landing on the island. Sadly, many of these were never seen or heard from again, but the few who survived to return to civilization offer the most credible accounts of the island’s many dangerous beasts, which ranged from ordinary predator cats and canines to extraordinary, giant beasts which are still not fully identified.
The most infamous tale from the era’s attempts to explore and tame the island and its forest comes from the failed Tychean Expedition. Tychea, a then-blossoming empire that sought to stretch its boundaries over sea, set its sights on the unclaimed island as easy pickings for the seasons veterans of its army and navies. In order to provide safe landings for its ships, the Tycheans decided to land in winter, breaking into the ice to use as a bridge to the mainland for its forces while reefs were cleared and a proper port constructed. Sadly for the expedition, their ships and efforts were subsequently and quickly frozen into place when a storm blew over the island, blanketing the entire island in a layer of deep snow and ice, preventing all travel. Unable to travel the island on account of snow, and unable to either leave or fish for food on account of thick ice that suddenly developed, the expedition slowly starved to death. A sole survivor cannibalized the frozen corpses until the ice melted, and they were eventually found drifting at sea by a follow-up expedition, which was then called off. It is unknown whether the storm that froze the ships in place occurred naturally, or whether it is a regular occurrence.
When the Race Wars began, Vandresca fell back into obscurity.
Little is known about the native population of Vandresca. No attempts to communicate with the island have succeeded, either by traditional means or those magical. Those foolhardy enough to teleport into the island have never been seen or heard from again, though the presence of teleportation destinations suggests some form of magical expertise once existed there.
Arrowheads retrieved from the island suggest a population of elves, likely worshippers of Melora. The arrowheads are engraved with what appears to be an embellished symbol of Melora, as well as the text “Goddess of Wave. Of Wilderness. And Wild.” Given the ferocity of the island’s creatures, it is believed that the island’s population could not be more than a few hundred.