The world of Nentir Vale is rife with danger and fallen gods and ancient ruins and mystery. It’s possibly one of my favorite settings, and the home of a new campaign run by D&D Franchise Creative Director Mike Mearls.
In case you missed it, last week marked the launch of a new D&D Campaign run by Mike Mearls, one of the D&D Head Honchos, and host of the Mike Mearls Happy Fun Hour, where you can watch some D&D Development in action. But that’s not what we’re here to talk about–we’re here to talk about Heroes of the Vale, a new streamed campaign which takes the best parts of the 4th Edition Setting and brings it into the limelight. If you’re unfamiliar with the setting, or why this campaign might be an interesting one to follow:
Nentir Vale is one small pocket of civilization in a world that is very dark. In 4th Edition, the world was broken up into “points of light” which is to say bastions of safety separated by miles of dark and encroaching wilderness. This was a world where you followed the roads and even then were not always lucky to get where you were going. Where monsters lurked beyond the walls. Where shadows held forgotten spirits and ancient dooms.
In short, the world of 4th Edition was a world that needed adventurers. It was reflected in the lore, in the scraps of information about the setting. And one of the best parts of it, is this almost oppressive sense of the world beyond the safety of a town. It felt like what D&D could be. Sure it was still high fantasy with characters expected to take on powerful monsters and servants of the gods (if not the gods themselves), but they would advance to become legends in their own right. Paragons of humanity (or whatever race you picked) who would grow to fulfill an Epic Destiny.
That was all baked into the 4th Edition mechanics–and it was there in the world. And in the way the world interacted with the characters. The Nentir Vale setting is also responsible for some of my favorite additions to 5th Edition. From it we got to see expanded Wildnerness travel rules, and you can feel its influence on many of the exploration aspects of the game. And now it’s the heart of this new campaign, which aired its first episode last Wednesday, and which continues on with episode 2 tomorrow.
The campaign leads off with more mythical aspects. You can see a lot of Mearls’ personal design philosophy present in the setup for the campaign. A mysterious comet, the mirror worlds of the Feywild and the Shadowfell pressing in, and misfortune spreading further and further afield.
Whether you watch streaming shows or not–this is a great way to see what other folks are doing, and naturally, to find things to steal for your own campaign. It’s worth mentioning, because this is a rare chance to jump in at the very beginning of a campaign. See how it takes its shape and how the DM handles weaving the disparate characters together with time enough left to watch the episode in chunks (that’s how I manage it with these streaming shows).
It features some interesting characters, notably the Eladrin Keen Dayapreth portrayed by TJ Storm, and Shelly Mazzanoble’s duck-inspired Aarakocra, Fla’aper. Episodes air Wednesday, so if you’re looking for something to follow and listen/watch midweek, this is a perfect chance to jump aboard.
As always, Happy Adventuring!