It wasn't so much about how the entire world was out to kill you, but that going outside the cities and towns was dangerous. Bandits, wild animals, etc.I’m glad to hear it had fans, I just wasn’t one of them, because to me it was TOO generic and customizable - I never saw anything distinguishing to me, and I think my distaste for the Primordial War multiverse reshuffling was part of it. This whole thing about “extremely dangerous world” is new to me, because despite all the talk at the time about “points of light”, I just couldn’t see it, it seemed too simplistic at the time, perhaps also due to a real campaign setting for detailing any of this. If he plays up this “whole world is trying to kill you” aspect, I can dig it a little better.
Then again, if they want a “whole world is trying to kill you” vibe, Athas would have fit better - you can’t even scrape enough metal together to make a spear tip, and even the plants are psionic carnivores...
Can I ask fans of Nentir Vale what features and themes really stood out to them back when it was a thing for 4e?
I loved the Raven Queen - a former mortal that overthrew the previous (evil) god of death and took over his mantle without being evil or endorsing undead. I'm not so much a fan of the Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes version of her.
I liked that it had its own flavor - tieflings and dragonborn as core races, the former empires of Bael Turath and Arkhosia, new deities - but it was just vague enough that it didn't feel like you were locked in to a ton of lore as a DM.
Torog, the God who Crawls made the Underdark as the tunnels he crawled through, rather than just "ehhh, there are hundreds of miles of caves for reasons."
It just felt like a great starting point. Playing in other settings can sometimes feel a bit constrained, what with all the books and lore and detail.