The Nentir Vale
Up until four centuries or so ago, the Moon Hills and the surrounding Nentir Vale were thinly settled borderlands, home to quarrelsome human hill-chieftains and remote realms of nonhumans 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.
With the rise of the empire of Nerath to the south, human settlers began to move up the Nentir, establishing towns such as Fallcrest, Fastormel, Harkenwold, and Winterhaven. When the empire of Nerath began to crumble about a century ago, the Nentir Vale continued to flourish — for a time. Ninety years ago, a fierce horde of orcs known as the Bloodspears descended from the Stonemarch and swept over the vale. The Bloodspears burned and pillaged Fallcrest and went on to wreak 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.
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.
The vale is now mostly empty, with a handful of living villages and towns 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 “clear” parts of the map are covered in mixed terrain — large stretches of open meadowland, copses of light forest, gently rolling hills, and the occasional thicket of dense woodland and heavy undergrowth. The downs marked on the map are hilly grassland, with little tree cover. The hills are steeper and more rugged, and include light forest in the valleys and saddles between the hilltops.