Why Your Next D&D Campaign Should Use the Nentir Vale
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The Nentir Vale is the main area of the 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons “points of light” general fantasy setting. The vale was included in the Dungeon Master’s Guide along with a number of adventures in boxed sets. Monster Vault: Threats to the Nentir Vale added villains, factions, and lore. Dungeon and Dragon magazines explored the setting even further. So why is the Nentir Vale the best setting for your next campaign?
The vale is a relatively small, enclosed setting with plenty to explore. Player characters won’t spend weeks on end traveling a sprawling continent. This creates the potential for more collisions with recurring NPCs in which your PCs can develop deeper relationships. More collisions with NPCs and lore leads to uncovering the connections between seemingly disparate legends and adventure hooks. The connected world starts to come alive in the players’ minds. Lastly, with a limited scope you can more easily reinforce campaign themes—one of the most powerful ways to bring a setting and campaign to life.
Hooks Over History
The Nentir Vale focuses on adventure hooks over setting history. Gradually, the history was expanded upon and explored. But nearly every entry is a snippet of lore that provides perfect adventure hooks for your player characters. Take the following entry about the Moon Hills from the Dungeon Master’s Guide:
This cluster of rugged terrain between the Nentir River and the King’s Road is not rife with monsters and other villainous types, thanks mainly to the proximity of Fallcrest and the vigilance of its town guard. But there are threats in this area.
The people of Fallcrest tell stories about the Dark Drake of the Moon Hills, a sinister reptile that leads a pack of other evil drakes. These tales get more and more dramatic in the retelling—even though few claim to actually have seen one of the creatures.
The hills also occasionally play host to terrors that wander out of either the Witchlight Fens or the Harken Forest, including goblins, lizardfolk, giant spiders, and other random monsters in search of new prey.
It’s short and evocative. We’re given important information about the Moon Hills, like it’s proximity to Fallcrest and what that means. It includes a local legend in “the Dark Drake of the Moon Hills.” It’s also tied to two other areas: Witchlight Fens and the Harken Forest. The entry wraps up with a handful of other monsters that might appear. No intimidating history to know or understand—just loads of potential hooks for your game.
Even though it’s small in scope, the Nentir Vale knows the importance of negative space—room for you and your creativity. The map includes plenty of room for you to add new locations. The existing locations aren’t overburdened by lore and history, again providing you and your group the space to expand on them with ease.
The Nentir Vale is the perfect setting for your next Dungeons & Dragons game. It’s rich with opportunity and easy to adopt and expand upon. Give it a try today.