The Nentir Vale campaign setting is coming back to Dungeons & Dragons as part of a new streaming show.
D&D Beyond, a character builder/digital resource/official partner of Dungeons & Dragons, has slowly built up its Twitch channel over the last couple of months. Their newest show, Heroes of the Vale, is a live-play D&D show helmed by D&D's franchise creative director Mike Mearls and is set in a campaign setting that we haven't heard much about in a few years.
As its name suggests, Heroes of the Vale is set in Nentir Vale, a campaign setting first introduced with the release of D&D's 4th edition. Although 4th edition is widely considered a failure among D&D fans, Nentir Vale stood out as a darker take on the standard high fantasy tropes popular in D&D.
Nentir Vale is basically a post-apocalyptic version of a fantasy world, one where civilization has largely been wiped out save for a few "points of light." Settlements and cities were few and far between and there was little communication between towns. It's a world in desperate need of heroes, which is typically where the player characters come in.
In a recent video interview with D&D Beyond's Todd Kenreck (seen above), Mearls explained how he morphed Nentir Vale for the new campaign. "It's not that there's tribes of orcs or giants running around," he explained. "It's like the ecosystem is designed to kill us."
He mentioned that very real threats like mind flayers or carrion crawlers were lurking just outside of towns, and that players could stumble on them if they strayed too far from civilization. "If you venture off the road," Mearls said. "It really gets dangerous. It gets over the top deadly fast, giving this real sense of just that kind of pressing danger coming from all sides."
Mearls also mentioned that he tweaked the mythology of Nentir Vale so that the gods of that realm (which include popular D&D deities like Asmodeus and the Raven Queen) were originally humans who banded together to defeat a group of entities known as the Primordials and achieved godhood as a result. Not only do the gods play a much more active role in Mearls' version of Nentir Vale, but they're also responsible for the few habitable places where it's safe to live.
What's interesting about Heroes of the Vale (and what will probably generate a bit of speculation) is that Mearls is one of the top designers in D&D. Not only did he extensively update a currently unused setting, he did it for a show associated with one of D&D's biggest partners. Fans are already wondering if Heroes of the Vale could lead to some sort of official Nentir Vale content in the future, either via D&D Beyond or in playtest form similar to this year's Wayfinder's Guide to Ravnica. Mearls has mentioned working on a revised Nentir Vale before, so it's at least possible that we could see some more official content soon.
Heroes of the Vale premieres on November 28th and stars Mearls, Kenrick, actor TJ Storm, Adam Bradford, Hope LaVelle, Lauren Urban, and Shelly Mazzanoble.