The Barrens is an area of land lying to the north-west of Midwinter comprising of rough scrubland. The land is home to numerous goblin and hobgoblin tribes.
The barrens was once an area of fertile farmland and home to a post-Annan civilisation, Gethen. Gethen was formed in the latter years of the Second Age by a number of human, elf and dwarf clans. Gethen consisted of eight Principalities, three human, three elven and two dwarven. The country was ruled by a High-Prince, elected from one of the eight princes and an elected government of one hundred and sixty, twenty from each Principality. The position of High Prince changed every 10 years, moving on to one of the other eight princes.
Gethen played a crucial role in the rebuilding of the western nations following the Horde Wars of the early first century, allowing trade routes to pass relatively unhindered from the west-coast nations to those around the Inner Sea.
The first signs of trouble for Gethen came in the early fourth century. Goblinoid numbers had been increasing since the Horde Wars. Pockets of goblins had survived in the Voss Mountains and Tanglewood Forest and were soon converging on Gethen. The Gethen military had never been as strong as those on the eastern borders and was unprepared for the goblin raids.
For a century the raids continued and together the Principalities were able to withstand the goblin advances. Disaster struck in 421TA with the awakening of the great wyrm Vermelliax. No one is sure where the dragon came from, just that he appeared on Gethen's western borders in the June of 421 and attacked the elven Principality of Lyradorne.
Vermelliax was the largest dragon seen in generations and scholars believe he may have been one of Cadolyn's first offspring. Accompanied by other red dragons, halfdragons and a horde of goblins they poured into Gethen, sweeping all before them. Over the next five years the Principalities fell one by one to Vermelliax until only Llanmedoc remained. The dragons destroyed all they came across, leaving a barren waste in their wake.
In 426, hope for the Gethen was rekindled. Reinforcements from Eldridge, Midwinter and Velwyth bolstered the dwindling Gethen forces and bought a halt to the Horde's advance. Later that year a plan was hatched to kill Vermelliax and end the dragon-goblin alliance. The cream of the Gethen army was led forth by the High Princess Aerys Firehair, the dwarven twins Jorg and Diesa Morrieg and Haman Narine, a powerful mage from Midwinter.
Vermelliax was caught unawares by the attackers. Few survived the battle to recount the tale, but the bard Mikaela Blackmoor watched from afar and witnessed the great wyrm's death along with the majority of the attacking force. Only Aerys and Diesa survived along with a handful of knights. For a brief period the forces of Vermelliax were forced to retreat in battle after battle until in January 427 when Aerys was slain by unknown assassins, crippling the army's moral in the process.
The Horde regrouped under the orc hero Jorgol Bloodhand and fought back and by August the few remaining allied forces had been bottled up in the city of Llanmedoc. After a short siege the city fell and the remaining few Gethen fled the city while it was sacked by the Horde. Jorgol hounded the survivors mercilessly until he caught them again at the stone circle called the Shevenar Stones. Here, Jorgol's Bloodwarriors massacred the last of the Gethen people.
Jorgol claimed overlordship of the Gethen lands until his death in 446TA. The lands were bequeathed to his seven sons but internal revelries between them ruined any chance of a united goblin nation. By 500 Jorgol's seven sons were dead and the fledgling nation had collapsed into a sea of warring clans.
The Gethen Barrens today are home to numerous goblinoid clans constantly warring with each other. Two small centres of civilisation have arisen. The hobgoblin stronghold of Rath Tarayth lies to the north of Lake Llanmedoc. The second, Rath Kashek, lies far to the north-west of lake Llanmedoc and is ruled by the Black Flame Brotherhood.
Over the last hundred years, the government of Midwinter has made several attempts to colonise the southern portions of the Barrens. All have ended in failure.