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The Nentir Vale is a campaign setting provided to new players of Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition. It’s present in the Red Box and most of the starting materials. For a party almost all completely new to D&D and a DM re-familiarizing himself with the latest edition, it’s a great place to start a campaign. This will be an ongoing recollection of what happens to the party as they make their way through the Nentir Vale. Enjoy.

Previously: Who’s in charge of these kobolds, anyway?

The party continued down the King’s Road to Winterhaven. They remained long enough to speak with a few of the locals about the Keep on the Shadowfell. Apparently, it had been occupied but only until recently. Making their way north of Winterhaven to the forbidding ruin of the Keep, they found evidence of the goings-on taking place before its abandonment. Under the ruin through some dank corridors, they found a room almost entirely encased in shadow. The half-completed portal in the room seemed to be absorbing the light from the few guttering torches in the chamber. Despite this dire portent, there was not a living soul to be found among the ruins or the catacombs, and the only clue as to what had happened to either the death cultist Krillorien sought or the goblin war chief mentioned in the letter carried by Lyria was a dark banner, bordered in red with a single symbol in its center: a red circular chain.

“We should take it.” – Ben as Krillorien
“But stealing is wrong!” – Mike as Andrasian
“Lyria’s already taken it.” – Danielle

The party returned to Winterhaven before setting down the King’s Road for Fallcrest. Without wagons or horses, the trek took them two days. Upon arriving they made finding Marla, the priestess of Pelor who had told Krillorien of Malareth’s fascination with death cults and reported activity outside of Winterhaven. They found her in the House of the Sun, speaking with a senior priest, Grundelmar the dwarf. Upon seeing the banner, the priests sent the foursome to the Lord Warden, aware of his interest in the chain symbol but unsure of its significance. Markelhay, happy to see the heroes, told them the banner belonged to the Iron Circle.

A band of mercenaries with a mysterious but undeniable purpose, the Iron Circle first appeared in the Nentir Vale two months before the party’s discovery of their banner in the Keep. While the Lord Warden had gotten no reports of Circle activity anywhere near Winterhaven, he does know they stormed Harken Keep to the southeast and conquered Harkenwold. Markelhay’s friend, Baron Stockmer, was now their captive, and the brigands were exacting “tolls” and confiscations from all who dwelt and passed through the area.

Teldorthan Ironhews had also heard of the Iron Circle. The blacksmith told Andrasian that he’d heard rumors of an old nemesis, Nazin Redthorn, commanding the mercenaries in the Nentir Vale. Fashioning a suit of mail from draconscale recovered by the elf, Teldorthan expressed his desire for the adventurers to return to Redthorn’s head. Lyria was also a beneficiary of the blacksmith, who presented her with an obsidian dagger fashioned by the drow. To explore and empower its enchantments, the halfling and Melanie visited Orest Naerumar, who was delighted to see them. He asked if the rumors were true, and the heroes had rid the Vale of the extant threat within Kobold Hall.

“Yeah, they played tetherball with us.” – Ben

Outfitted and prepared, the heroes found space aboard a wagon train heading south. Rather than go into Harkenwold itself, the driver let them off before taking a fork from the King’s Road towards Hammerfast. Proceeding on foot, the party spotted black smoke and followed it to a scene of a homestead being put to the torch. Iron Circle brigands and their pet wolves had set the outhouse on fire, and when the party approached they dismissed the heroes, saying it was Iron Circle business. A woman’s voice from within the house pointed out that this ‘business’ looked like robbery and murder.

The battle ensued and it was clear the party was a match for the mercenaries. The wolves harried the heroes but they did not last long under the concentrated efforts of Melanie’s spells, Andrasian’s blade, Lyria’s flourishes and Krillorien’s prayers. Inside the house they found a woman named Ilyana and her sons. The homesteader explained that her husband Karthen had been murdered by the mercenaries, but hope remains and the people are ready to fight back. To touch things off, the heroes would need to speak with Reithann, the druid, or Dar Gremath, an old fighter somewhere in the town of Albridge. With the druid’s grove being closer, the heroes set off in that direction first…

Next: Damn Dirty Croakers

All locations, NPCs, spells and equipment copyright Wizards of the Coast unless otherwise noted.