Geography and weather
The Nentir Vale is neighbored by the Stonemarch to the west, the Harken Forest and the Witchlight Fens to the south, the Dawnforge Mountains to the east, and the Winterbole Forest to the north.
The vale is a cold and sparsely populated land, mostly covered in grasslands and light woods. The Nentir River and its tributaries run through the vale, ending in two main lakes. Despite its location, the Nentir Vale sees little snow. The Nentir River only freezes a few weeks during the coldest part of the year, and summers are cool and mild.
In the age before recorded history, the Nentir Vale was a huge forest known as the Nentir Forest. This forest was home to a commune of treants that used magic to protect their home from the dragon overlords of the elder world. It is believed that the first elves that left the Feywild after the Kinstrife Wars ended came to the World in the southern region of this forest, a place now known as the Spiderhaunt Thicket.
Eventually, the Nentir Forest was destroyed when Malorunth the Eternal Ash died, and scores of dragons invaded the forest, triggering the so-called War of Endless Branches that destroyed most of the old forest. The region, now divided into the Winterbole and Harken Forests, became known as the Nentir Vale.
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Before the age of the Ancient Empires, the Nentir Vale was dominated by the undead city of Andok Sur. In time, not even the gods could abide the evil actions of the inhabitants of the city, and they triggered an earthquake that destroyed Andok Sur, burying it below the region now known as the Old Hills.
In time, the empires of Arkhosia and Bael Turath conquered the lands of the Nentir Vale. Arkhosia built enclaves in the Winterbole Forest and in the Ogrefist Hills, while Bael Turath constructed theirs in the Witchlight Fens. During the Arkhosian-Turathi Wars, the vale was the battlefield of some of the most violent battles of those wars.
Up until about 400 years ago, the Nentir Vale was thinly populated. Human hill clans lived in the area along with remote domains of dwarves and elves. Stories of the hero Vendar and the dragon of the Nentir Falls date to this era, as do some ruins in the Gray Downs and the Old Hills. Giants, orcs, ogres, and goblins troubled the area. Saruun Khel, a city located in the depths below Thunderspire Mountain, was the center of an oppressive minotaur kingdom that subjugated most of the central and western lands of the vale.
When the southern Nerathi Empire was at its height, settlers began to travel to the north of the continent in order to expand the borders of their nation. Those brave would-be settlers navigated the Nentir River through a trackless swamp or traversed the uncharted Harken Forest that separated the region from the Empire. The first soldiers and paladins of Bahamut who came from the south founded the Gardmore Abbey as a key fortress, and launched their Crusade of Conquest to defeat both monstrous humanoids and the indigenous human hill clans to pave the way for the Nerathi colonization of the vale.
At the same time, a thane from the nearby dwarven kingdom of Shatterstone sent a battalion of dwarf warriors to establish a forward operating fortress in the mountains to help quell dragon assaults that were razing the new settlements founded nearby the Dawnforge Mountains. The dwarves named that fortress Hammerfast.
Along with the village of Fastormel, Gardmore Abbey defined the northern frontier of Nerath until the founding of the village of Winterhaven and the Barony of Harkenwold three decades later. As the borderlands became more settled, the heirs of Nerathi noble families began to move to the region and claim land of their own. They established manors, settlements, and even monasteries through out the region. About 310 years ago, the Nerathan hero Aranda Markelhay built a tower near Nentir Falls. Around this tower, and the Moonstone Keep that was built later, the city of Fallcrest began to grow, until it became the center of trade in the region for the next 200 years.
150 years ago, Gardmore Abbey was destroyed when a resurgent force of orcs from the Stonemarch laid siege to the abbey. And a few years later, the Nerathi Empire fell as well, destroyed by the demonic hordes led by the “Ruler of Ruin”.
Even without the Empire, the people of the vale prospered for a time. However, 90 years ago, chaos and ruin came to the Nentir Vale when an orc horde called Clan Bloodspear swarmed down out of the mountains to the northwest. Without the Imperial Knights to aid them, Fallcrest’s army was defeated in a rash attempt to halt the Bloodspears in the Gardbury Downs. The orcs burned and pillaged Fallcrest and went on to wreak havoc all across the vale, destroying all in their path until they found their match in Hammerfast. The orcs suffered great losses and were forced to withdraw, leaving behind a broken and battered land.
The vale is mostly empty now, though there’s a handful of towns and villages scattered around. Fallcrest and Hammerfast are shadows of their former selves. Abandoned farms, manors, and keeps can be found scattered throughout the countryside. Anyone traveling beyond a few miles from settlements risks attack by bandits, wild animals, and monsters.
This is a place in need of heroes.
Barony of Harkenwold
Chad’Maragh, the Dark Magic Forge
Ghost Tower of the Witchlight Fens
Temple of Yellow Skulls
According to Christopher Perkins, the Nentir Vale was originally conceived to be part of the Forgotten Realms setting, before being used as the main region for the Points of Light setting.