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4E Tropes of the Nentir Vale

Parmandur

Legend
Really cool setting: what impressed me the most about the Points of Light idea when 4E first came out was how it mirrored the way my College group was "playing in Greyhawk" supposedly. Also a fan of how the metaphysics of the Dawn War setting make any sort of sense (though nonsense metaphysics are very fun too).
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
Really cool setting: what impressed me the most about the Points of Light idea when 4E first came out was how it mirrored the way my College group was "playing in Greyhawk" supposedly. Also a fan of how the metaphysics of the Dawn War setting make any sort of sense (though nonsense metaphysics are very fun too).
I think maybe we are snagging things from mythology cause I also found strong parallels all the way back.
 

Aldarc

Adventurer
Currently running a 5e campaign in the Nentir Vale. I'm a big fan of the setting as a PoL sandbox setting.

Overall, there was a lot of influence from real world mythology, particularly the motif of the Chaoskampf, that I particularly liked. One of the prevalent ideas within the "Chaoskampf" worldview in a lot of West Asian (e.g., Judean, Babylonian, etc.) and North African (e.g,. Egyptian) ancient worldviews is that 'chaos' remains a pervasive threat in the world that could potentially undo creation. This requires the vigilance of mortal forces of order and stability (e.g., kings ruling, cities protecting, priesthood performing sacrifices, etc.) to bring and maintain order in the world. The threats of chaos experienced in the mortal world represent a microcosm of the grander cosmological macrocosm.

So you got smatterings of Greco-Roman, Levantine-Mesopotamian, and Indo-Iranian mythology in the mix. Plus, similarities with the beloved Scarred Lands campaign setting, for obvious reasons. What this meant for the Nentir Vale is that everything in the world had a "place" within the cosmic struggle, even if you are only seeing it from the grounds-eye perspective of mortals in the countryside. THAT is sorta what living in a world with a mythological worldview should feel like.

That's what I liked about the Nentir Vale. It felt less embedded in the Good vs. Evil moral axis, but, rather, on the Law vs. Chaos axis. The order of the Vale exists under a threatened state by chaos. The empire of Nerath had collapsed under a constant onslaught of invading gnolls. The wilderness is chaotic. One of the major settlements, Fallcrest, had been overrun by orcs about 80 years prior. So there is feeling of vulnerability even when one resides in these "Poli of Light."

I could keep going, but I'll just say that there is a lot that I absolutely love about the Nentir Vale from the perspective of a GM. I'm not entirely sure if Mike Mearls "got it" when running his Nentir Vale campaign. I do think that Mearls had some GREAT innovations (e.g., the god Torog pulling things down into the Underdark and pushing things up from the Underdark), but the idea of having the gods all be ascended mortals was almost a shark-jumping moment that undercut the entire mythos of the Vale. Todd Kenreck, who took over for Mearls after he left the game, seemed to have far less of an idea what the Vale setting was about - I believe that he even just nuked Fallcrest - and I think he even just teleported the players to Forgotten Realms instead.
 
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MonkeezOnFire

Explorer
but the idea of having the gods all be ascended mortals was almost a shark-jumping moment that undercut the entire mythos of the Vale.
I'm curious, what makes you say this? The deities of the Vale always struck me as closer to being real characters than the faceless representations that other settings have. In the Dawn War they actually struggle at first to put aside their differences and actually work together to fight the primordials. That's a detail that reveals these entities are not perfect and are actually quite flawed individuals. So having them be originally mortals doesn't seem a far cry from the default to me.

Mind you I didn't really get into the Nentir Vale until after 4e was finished and I haven't gotten my hands on much of the material past the core books which are pretty vague. Most of my info comes from tertiary internet sources.
 

S'mon

Legend
I'm curious, what makes you say this? The deities of the Vale always struck me as closer to being real characters than the faceless representations that other settings have. In the Dawn War they actually struggle at first to put aside their differences and actually work together to fight the primordials. That's a detail that reveals these entities are not perfect and are actually quite flawed individuals. So having them be originally mortals doesn't seem a far cry from the default to me.
No, they are 'characters' in the manner of the Greek Gods.
 

Aldarc

Adventurer
I'm curious, what makes you say this? The deities of the Vale always struck me as closer to being real characters than the faceless representations that other settings have. In the Dawn War they actually struggle at first to put aside their differences and actually work together to fight the primordials. That's a detail that reveals these entities are not perfect and are actually quite flawed individuals. So having them be originally mortals doesn't seem a far cry from the default to me.
Sure, but they are sentient agents with volition, so they will naturally have a certain reminiscent degree of "mortal behavior" to them. So there is a logical gulf between saying "these gods behave irrationally as humans would" ergo "what's wrong with the Dawn War pantheon being ascended mortals?" The vast majority of the Greco-Roman pantheon are not ascended mortals (e.g., Hercules, ~Dionysus?), though they behave irrationally and often "act as mortals." It's understood that the Gods are divine beings/powers that (mostly) descend from the Titans. There is a sense that the predate humanity.

In the Dawn War pantheon there are or were even a few gods who were ascended mortals (e.g., Nerull [deceased] and the Raven Queen), but the mythos of the Dawn War Pantheon pointed to a pre-mortal state of the cosmos of which the gods were a part. The Prime Material world of mortals derives from the gods playing around with the world the primordials created, and it is this mixing of the divine and the primordial that really gives rise to mortals and the Spirits. Mearls change kinda puts the mythology into an odd place: mortals ascend to become gods and then create mortals? The change creates a lot more problems than it solves, which is basically nothing.
 

MonkeezOnFire

Explorer
I couldn't make it past the first episode of Mearl's campaign (it was clear the players hadn't played together before and were struggling with finding a rhythm, lots of talking over each other, etc) so I'm not sure how he explained it exactly. I'd kinda just assumed that the story would be changed such that the primordials created the mortals and then a subset of them rise up to kill their creators and turn into deities in the process. That brings it more into line with the Titanomachy and makes a certain amount of sense to me.

But now I can totally see why you would have issues with the origins of mortals. The gods protecting their creations against the chaotic primordials is an interesting aspect to focus on and really emphasizes the theme of the Points of Light. Small groups of light fighting against the rest of the world.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Yeah, my guess is that Mearls saw that the raven queen was popular and thought he’d give all the other NV gods a similar treatment, failing to consider (or considering and deciding to do it anyway) that doing so significantly recontextualizes the Dawn War.
 

Parmandur

Legend
Yeah, my guess is that Mearls saw that the raven queen was popular and thought he’d give all the other NV gods a similar treatment, failing to consider (or considering and deciding to do it anyway) that doing so significantly recontextualizes the Dawn War.
It seems that part of the current default story they have going for the Great Wheel is that the various cosmic forces are former mortals: in a recent D&D Beyond video on Asmodeus, Mearls said that explicitly.
 

Jer

Adventurer
It seems that part of the current default story they have going for the Great Wheel is that the various cosmic forces are former mortals: in a recent D&D Beyond video on Asmodeus, Mearls said that explicitly.
Wha? What's the point in having a backward looking edition when it comes to Lore if you're not going to stick with the established Lore and are going to mess with it?

(Asmodeus as a former mortal - yeesh. Even I - a fan of recontextualizing old Lore and putting new spins on things through retcons - cannot see the point of that. Having some ascended mortals among the gods is a great idea, and hearkens back to the BECMI ideas of the Immortals, but pick and choose it where it makes sense! Even in BECMI they realized that having EVERY SINGLE IMMORTAL be an ascended mortal was a limitation that didn't add anything to the game. At least they eventually realized it...)
 

Parmandur

Legend
Wha? What's the point in having a backward looking edition when it comes to Lore if you're not going to stick with the established Lore and are going to mess with it?

(Asmodeus as a former mortal - yeesh. Even I - a fan of recontextualizing old Lore and putting new spins on things through retcons - cannot see the point of that. Having some ascended mortals among the gods is a great idea, and hearkens back to the BECMI ideas of the Immortals, but pick and choose it where it makes sense! Even in BECMI they realized that having EVERY SINGLE IMMORTAL be an ascended mortal was a limitation that didn't add anything to the game. At least they eventually realized it...)
t does seem BECMI. Mearls said that Asmodeus was a former mortal, Todd expressed surprise, and Mearls said that basically all of the powers that be are former mortals in the current background set-up for D&D.
 

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