Beacons of Hope
The Nentir Vale is a thinly settled borderland of independent towns, within the wreckage of the long dead Nerath Empire. The area was most heavily settled almost four hundred years ago by the expanding population of the Empire. Some tribes of Elves and clans of Dwarves predated the imperial expansion but assimilated quickly with their Human neighbors.
A century ago, the Empire fell and the Vale was left to fend for itself. The area was therefore nearly defenseless when the area was ravaged by the Bloodspear Orcs soon thereafter. The Orcs invaded from the Cairngorm Peaks, burning cities and destroying families. Most sensible people fled to the south towards the former but lost capitol of Nerath. When the Orcs finally withdrew, they left behind a broken and battered land.
The vale is now mostly empty, with a handful of living villages and towns scattered over this wide area. Abandoned farmsteads, ruined manors, and broken keeps litter the countryside. Bandits, wild animals, and monsters roam freely throughout the vale, threatening anyone who fares more than few miles away from one of the surviving settlements. Travel along the roads or river is usually safe – usually. But every now and then, travelers come to bad ends between towns.
The Nentir Vale is a northern land, but it sees relatively little snow – winters are windy and bitterly cold. The Nentir River is too big to freeze except for a few weeks in the coldest part of the year. Summers are cool and mild.
In the days of the Nerath Empire, the landholdings of each noble were directly adjacent to those of the next noble and there was no “unclaimed” land. However, there was so much loss of life and chaos during the Fall of Nerath that it is no longer clear who owned or owns what. To further confuse the issue, bandits and monsters have moved into the ruins and wreckage left behind, staking their own claims and raiding to steal what they can.
Fallcrest, the area’s largest settlement, lies near the middle of the region.
The “clear” parts of the map are covered in mixed terrain—large stretches of open meadowland, copses of light forest, gently rolling hills, and the occasional thicket of dense woodland and heavy undergrowth. The downs marked on the map are hilly grassland, with little tree cover. The hills are steeper and more rugged, and include light forest in the valleys and saddles between the hilltops.