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When the human empire of Nerath was at its height about three hundred years ago, the Nentir Vale stood as the northernmost extension of that great realm. Would-be settlers navigated the Nentir River through a trackless swamp or forged their way through a thick forest that separated this area from the rest of Nerath. At the end of their journey, they came upon a pocket of rolling grassland and light woods more than a hundred miles wide and ringed by mountains and forests – a frontier area that held both promise and peril for those who braved it.

Several settlements sprang up in the area. Foot paths between these outposts of civilization turned into well-traveled roads, and most of the towns flourished over the next two hundred years or so.

Then, nearly a century 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. By this time, the empire of Nerath had begun to crumble, and the hardy souls of the vale got no help from the south.

Before the Bloodspear War was over, much of the Nentir Vale had been ravaged. When the orcs finally withdrew, they left behind a broken and battered land. Now, for the second time in its history, the vale is a destination for those of stout heart and great prowess – adventurers who seek to turn this near-wilderness once again into a place where peaceful folk can forge a life for themselves.

-Monster Vault: Threats to the Nentir Vale

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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 a 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.

-Dungeon Master’s Guide

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Dungeons & Dragons of the Nentir Vale