- The Vale
- The Greater World Outside the Vale
This regional setting is a modification of the generic "Points of Light" setting of 4th edition. The following text overrides any other material wherever there are differences (so it's very important to know). The world as you know it is composed of isolated pockets of civilization surrounded by dark areas of untamed wild. The small communities and even largest cities' inhabitants are mostly cut off from the world outside their walls. Travel between cities and villages is dangerous, and most people are ignorant about the rest of the world aside from rumor. Bandits, vicious humanoids, and monsters of all kinds inhabit the darkness between settled areas, and those who wish to venture out do so at their own risk.
Fallcrest lies near the middle of the broad borderland region known as the Nentir Vale. 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.
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.
Fiveleague House is more properly known as the Fiveleague Inn. It’s a strongly built innhouse surrounded by a wooden palisade. Fiveleague House caters to travelers and merchants coming or going from Hammerfast, a day’s journey (five leagues) farther east. The proprietor is a big, bearlike human named Barton.
The Gardbury Downs take their name from this striking ruin, a large monastery and town that has lain in ruins for almost one hundred fifty years. The abbey was dedicated to Bahamut and served as the base of a militant order of paladins who won great fame fighting in Nerath’s distant crusades. The paladins brought a dark artifact back from a far crusade for safekeeping, and evil forces gathered to assault the abbey and take it back. The Lords of Gardmore have recently reclaimed the ruin and have resettled the town as an outpost of civilization and welcome home for outcasts and wanderers.
The Sword Barrow
This large burial mound stands near the middle of the Gray Downs, a desolate region. The old human hill-clans who lived in the Vale raised the barrow centuries before civilized folk settled in Fallcrest. The hill-folk are long gone, but their grim barrows remain. The Sword Barrow gained its name because scores of rusted blades of ancient design are buried around its edges, blades pointing inward; a visitor can turn up several in a few minutes of looking around.
A dwarven hold cut from the rock of a deep vale in the Dawnforge Mountains, Hammerfast is the largest and wealthiest town in the region. The Trade Road runs through the citadel gates and continues eastward beyond the Dawnforge Mountains. Hammerfast is governed by a council of masters, each the leaders of one of the town’s powerful guilds. The current High Master is the leader of the merchant guild, a dwarf named Marsinda Goldspinner.
This large woodland stretches from the Nentir River to the mountains and extends for miles to the south. It separates the Nentir Vale from the more populous coastal towns of the south. A strong goblin keep called Daggerburg lies somewhere in the southwest reaches, not too far from Kalton Manor; the goblins sometimes raid the river-traffic moving along the Nentir, or send small parties of marauders to Harkenwold’s borders. An elf tribe known as the Woodsinger Clan roams the eastern portions of the forest. They occasionally trade with the humans of Harkenwold and keep an eye on travelers along the old King’s road. They have a long-standing feud with the Daggerburg goblins, and the goblins keep to the western parts of the forest to avoid swift and deadly elven arrows. However, the goblins are growing more numerous and have become bolder in recent months.
Half a dozen small villages lie along the upper vales of the White River. Together, they make up the Barony of Harkenwold—a tiny realm whose total population is not much greater than Fallcrest’s. The people of Harkenwold are farmers, woodcutters, and woodworkers; little trade comes up or down the old King’s Road. The ruler of Harkenwold is Baron Stockmer, an elderly man who was known for his strong sword arm in his youth. He is a just and compassionate ruler.
Back in the days when Nerath was settling the Nentir Vale, minor lords in search of land to call their own established manors and holds throughout the area. Kalton Manor was one of these, a small keep raised by Lord Arrol Kalton about two hundred years ago. Lord Arrol intended to settle the lower vale of the White river, but it was not to be—monsters from the Witchlight Fens drove off the tenants Arrol had brought with him. At the end, Arrol and a handful of his servants and family lived alone in a half-finished keep slowly falling into ruin until they disappeared as well. Stories tell of hidden treasure—the old Kalton fortune—hidden in secret chambers beneath the ruined keep.
Keep on the Shadowfell
Long ago, soldiers from Nerath built a strong fortress over the Shadowfell rift to protect it. The old keep lies in ruins now, and is rumored to be haunted.
Like Kalton Manor, the wreck now known locally as Kobold Hall was the estate of a minor lord who came to Nentir Vale to establish his own demesnes. Ruined during the Bloodspear War, the old castle has been abandoned for almost a century. Kobold tribes from the Cloak Wood are rumored to lurk in its depths.
This tiny human village lies at the east end of Lake Nen. The folk here make a meager living by trading smoked fish to the dwarves of Hammerfast. They also deal with the Tigerclaw barbarians of the Winterbole Forest. When the wild folk choose to trade, they come to Nenlast to barter their pelts and amber for good dwarven metalwork.
This small keep stands at the southern end of the Old Hills. Once it was the seat of a small manor, but it fell into ruin long ago.
Ruins of Fastormel
Once a prosperous town on the shores of Lake Nen, Fastormel was destroyed by the Bloodspear orcs and has never been resettled. The town was ruled by a Lord Mage (the most powerful wizard in town claimed the ruler’s scepter), and the Mistborn Tower of the last Lord Mage still stands amid the ruins of the town. The tower is shrouded in a strange silver mist that never dissipates, no matter what the weather would otherwise dictate.
A rugged land of stony hills and deep gorges cut by white-rushing rivers, the Stonemarch is home to tribes of dangerous humanoids and giants. Orcs, ogres, giants, and trolls haunt the farther reaches of these barren lands. Fortunately for the residents of the Vale, the monsters rarely come east over the Cairngorm Peaks.
Temple of Yellow Skulls
The ruins of an evil shrine stand in the middle of these desolate hills. Legend tells that a rakshasa prince summoned demons to this place and bound them to his service by imprisoning their vital essences in gold-plated human skulls. None of these have yet been recovered from the ruins, but the story persists.
This striking peak is the largest of the Old Hills.
Hard under the Cairngorms at the west end of the Nentir Vale lies the remote town of Winterhaven. Like Fallcrest, Winterhaven is a small town surrounded by a few miles of farmland and pastures. It was recently saved from monstrous invasion by the Lords of Gardmore, but the town was then overtaken by a religious zealot named Erban and given a new theocratic rule.
The player's handbook (page 20) lists the most commonly worshiped deities. Most people do not worship gods in the modern sense, but rather offer respect or reverence out of tradition or fear. This setting is unique in that there is no indisputable worldly evidence of any god's existence or power. Commoners who don't tend to believe strongly in a particular faith will generally think that a cleric's powers are not god-given but instead are a delusional version of the same sort of mystical powers a wizard or a warlock wields. This means that effectively in the world gods may not even exist, or may in truth be something completely different than they seem. True believing clerics have true faith, instead of a certainty through experiences that their gods exist and grant them power to follow a chosen path. Even the very faithful are without undeniable evidence that their gods exist, and are thus subject to doubts like anyone else.
Gods, commonly worshiped or known
Bahamut (Lawful good; Justice, honour, nobility, protection; good dragons)
Moradin (Lawful good; Creation, artisans, family; dwarves)
Avandra (Good; Change, luck, trade, travel)
Pelor (Good; Sun, summer, agriculture, time)
Corellon (Unaligned; Arcane magic, spring, beauty, the arts; elves and eladrin)
Erathis (Unaligned; Civilization, invention, laws)
Ioun (Unaligned; Knowledge, prophecy, skill)
Kord (Unaligned; Storms, strength, battle)
Melora (Unaligned; Wilderness, sea)
The Raven Queen (Unaligned; Death, fate, winter)
Sehanine (Unaligned; Trickery, moon, love, autumn; elves)
Asmodeus (Evil; Power, domination, tyranny; devils)
Bane (Evil; War, conquest)
Gruumsh (Chaotic evil; Turmoil, destruction; orcs)
Lolth (Chaotic evil; Spiders, shadows, lies; drow)
Tharizdun (Chaotic evil; Annihilation, madness)
Tiamat (Evil; Wealth, greed, vengeance; evil dragons)
Torog (Evil; Underdark, imprisonment)
Vecna (Evil; Undeath, secrets)
Zehir (Evil, Darkness, poison, serpents)
Asmodeus murdered another god known only as He Who Was.
Corellon blinded one of Gruumsh's eyes in a legendary battle.
Humans were created by an unknown god.
Temples do not hold regular services. They are always open, and act as community centers for worshipers. The faithful only congregate in temples on holy days, which are social holidays.
Most often: knightly orders are dedicated to Bahamut or Bane, colleges are devoted to Ioun, civic organizations honor Erathis, travelers aid societies are dedicated to Avandra, craft guilds invoke Moradin's name, roadside/wayside shrines are dedicated to Avandra, Melora, and Sehanine, goblins worship Bane, gnolls worship Yeenogu, and yuan-ti worship Zehir.
The places of the gods (as well as uniform dogma) is unclear at best, as even most civilized cities do not have shared records or much communication.
Nothing is known of planes, devils and demons, or angels, or any other purely planar being, and effectively they do not exist in the setting.
Outside of ancient myths, undead have never been heard of or seen by anyone, until extremely recently when the Lords of Gardmore accidentally unleashed an imprisoned necromancer lord. Bageron escaped his red crystal prison and re-initiated his necromantic cult, and undead have been cropping up all over the Vale.
Eladrin are city-dwelling elves with different traditions. Most races simply call eladrin "elves" as well.
Elves live in forests, and feel a connection to particularly ancient and wild areas.
Dragonborn travel far and wide, and are at home in deserts.
Gnomes live in homes burrowed beneath the roots of trees.
Dwarves are native to fortress cities in the mountains.
Tieflings are clan-like and have always been a part of the nobility in human civilizations.
Humans are very slightly the most common race, and are the most easily corrupted in nature due to their unlimited ambition.
Halflings favor river travel, and mostly live near rivers and streams.
Primordials were the god-like masters of the chaotic elements that existed at the dawn of time. They forged the world from elemental chaos.
The gods sought to control the primordials' creation, and there was a war. The gods won and the primordials were killed or banished.
The Temple of the Celestial Mountain is dedicated to the worship of Bahamut, Moradin, and Kord.
The Temple of the Bright City is dedicated to the worship of Pelor, Erathis, and Ioun.
The Temple of the Fates is dedicated to the worship of Avandra, Ioun, and the Raven Queen.
Elves, eladrin, and drow were the same race until Lolth split them apart.
Eladrin temples (and some elven ones) feature altars to Corellon and Sehanine - and a few have bare altars where no sacrifice is offered, saving a place for Lolth when she is ultimately reconciled to the other gods of her family.
Abominations are said to be living weapons created during the ancient war between the gods and the primordials.
Baphomet, Demogorgon, and Orcus were primordials corrupted.
The mad god was defeated by the other gods and imprisoned in a secret place. He became known as the Chained God.
Bahamut and Tiamat were formed when the dragon god, Io, was split in half by Erek-Hus, King of Terror. The two halves of Io became Bahamut and Tiamat and killed Erek-Hus.
Giants were created by the primordials.
Ruins of the tiefling empire of Bael Turath and the dragonborn empire of Arkhosia are frequent in the world. These empires fought each other to their mutual destruction long ago.
Nerath was the most recent world empire, and was human and tiefling created. It collapsed following a war with organized gnolls and orcs, and internal corruption.
The Kingdom of the Horselords, Lograd, is a moderate-sized kingdom formed from a remnant of Nerath. The first king of Lograd, Adorn Marethal I, formed his kingdom with treasure and reputation won from slaying nearby dragons.
Hobgoblins once had an empire in which bugbears and goblins were their servants. This empire fell to internal strife and interference from fey creatures, whom many goblins hate.
Early dwarves were slaves to titans and giants. Those that did not escape became azers and galeb duhrs.
There are no spells that bring characters back from death, and no one has ever heard of such a thing. It is commonly understood that death is irreversible, but even the more powerful spellcasters have never encountered a spell that transcends death. Very recently, the Lords of Gardmore discovered a magic that can resurrect the newly dead in certain circumstances. They managed to create this magic as an offshoot of the studies of Bageron's necromantic cult and its efforts to isolate the soul and relocate it. This powerful magic is now spreading and shaking the world.
Despite numerous attempts, there are no large organized magic guilds or networks of information. The closest thing would be the Spiral Tower, a somewhat fragmented wizard order devoted to Corellon.
Major cities were once linked with Teleportation circles, but almost none are still functioning.
The Order of the Golden Wyvern is a loose association of spellcasters who use their talents in military pursuits.