Up until four centuries ago, the Nentir Vale was nothing more than a thinly settled borderland, home to quarrelsome human hill-chieftains and remote realms of demihumans such as dwarves and elves. Giants, minotaurs, orcs, ogres, and goblins plagued the area. Ruins such as those on the Gray Downs or the ring-forts atop the Old Hills date back to these days, as do stories of the hero Vendar and the dragon of the Nentir.
The rise of the empire of Nerath to the south once again brought human settlers up the Nentir River. These settlers brought civilization to the vale, establishing towns such as Fastormel, Harkenwold, and Winterhaven. Unfortunately, this progress and prosperity were to be short-lived. Nearly a century ago, just after the fall of the Nerath empire, a fierce horde of orcs known as the Bloodspears descended from the Stonemarch, wreaking havoc all across the Nentir Vale. Once again the Nentir Vale is a thinly settled borderland where few folk live. This is a place in need of a few heroes.
Only a handful of living villages and towns are 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.