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Tabletop Game / Nentir Vale

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A campaign setting for the Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) fantasy role-playing game. When the game was updated into its 4th edition in 2008, Wizards of the Coast decided to do something special. The previous edition had used a setting that was basically Greyhawk with the Serial Numbers Filed Off as its default setting, a step that 4th edition decided to change. Instead, they created what they intended as more of a campaign "theme" to the rulebooks than a full-blown world. However, while it was intended to be relatively "fluff free", subsequent materials built up a flavor and cosmology all their own and became something of a "mini-setting". It was originally introduced in the 4th Edition Dungeon Master's Guide, through the eponymous frontier region known as the Nentir Vale, in the same fashion as Greyhawk, which was actually the name of one city in that setting.

In the beginning, there were two planes: the Elemental Chaos, a churning sea of matter, energy and possibility, and the Astral Sea, a plane of pure spiritual energies. From the Elemental Chaos arose the Primordials, beings of pure elements and whim who exercised their powers to create a physical reality, halfway between the Elemental Chaos and the Astral Sea. The parts of it that were too "bright" were cast away and became the Feywild, while the parts that were too "dark" became the Shadowfell. While this was going on, the Astral Sea gave rise to the gods, who descended to the Primordials' creation (which, at that time, was much like the Elemental Chaos) and gave it stability and mortal life. Enraged by this (and probably none-too-happy about one of the gods turning the deepest part of the Elemental Chaos into the Abyss), the Primordials struck out at the gods and thus began the Dawn War, which finally ended with the aid of the Primal Spirits (who were nominally on the gods' side, but mostly wanted both parties to get off their lawn, so to speak) and resulted in the Primordials being primarily slain or sealed away.

There were a number of other "little" events in the whole mess, such as Io (God of Dragons) being split down the middle by the Primordial Eruk-Hus, the King of Terror, only for his corpse to become Tiamat and Bahamut, an ambitious angel named Asmodeus murdering his god and creating the Devils, a god named Tharizdun going insane and needing to be sealed away (but not before he created the Abyss), and a few other minor catastrophes, but that's another story.

Nentir Vale is a setting where most of the world is dangerous and places of safety are small and scattered. (These are the "Points of Light" that give the setting its common fan nickname, used until WotC started to refer to the whole setting by the name of the region — making it the Trope Namer and Trope Codifier for Points of Light Setting.) It is a hundred years since the human-founded empire of Nerath was torn asunder in a terrible war against a massive horde of gnolls and their demonic allies. Monsters roam the wilderness, bandits haunt the roads, the dead do not rest easy in their graves, and wicked cults lurk in the cities. It is a world in need of heroes...

The IDW Dungeons & Dragons comic series uses this setting, and the first five and a half seasons of Acquisitions Incorporated took place there.

The setting features:

  • Adventure-Friendly World: Essentially the whole point of the Nentir Vale and its broader world — the world is vast, islands of civilizations small and scattered, and most of the land is covered in wilderness and the ruins of past civilizations and haunted by monsters, bandits, barbarians and evil groups bent on bringing down what little civilization remains, providing heroes with plentiful opportunities to test themselves against chaos and the wilderness and no shortage of villainous plots to foil.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: One of the explanations for Lolth's Start of Darkness is that she found the wild, barbaric and chaotic Gruumsh more attractive than the noble Corellon, and had an affair with him.
  • And I Must Scream:
    • The old D&D standby, Imprisonment, is still here. As is the similar but much lower level (castable at level 14, compared to Imprisonment being castable only by those of at least level 29) Primal Prison.
    • Torog was a god who challenged a primordial in the depths of the earth and won, but was terribly wounded — among other things, his legs were shattered, forcing him to crawl wherever he went. Affected by the primordial's curse, his wounds never healing, he spent perhaps years — or more — tearing through the underbelly of the earth before he finally found a way out... and then he discovered that if he left the Underdark, he would lose all his deific powers. The King That Crawls is still down there, dragging himself painfully through the darkness. Of course, Torog also enjoys dishing this out — anyone who asks to become one of his Exarches (basically demigodlings/saints serving a true deity) has just proven themself Too Dumb to Live. To "prove themselves" he places them into a state of eternal, unspeakable torment. He has yet to release so much as one would-be Exarch from their agonies.
    • Of course you should see the other guy, a torturing psycho himself; Torog crawled back into the site of their battle and found the primordial still alive. So Torog took his body and fashioned the still-living creature into his castle. Torog's legions of wrackspawn are constantly mutilating and butchering it, to keep it from fully regenerating back into its original form. Ironically, the curse that binds Torog will last until the gods and the primordials live in peace, something that his ongoing vengeance actively hinders.
  • Apocalypse Cult: This setting prominently features the Cult of Orcus, which is bent upon summoning the Prince of Undeath and thereby ending civilization as we know it. This is especially true of certain low-level pre-made campaigns such as "Keep On The Shadowfell."
  • Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: The Battlemind is basically built on this, though their schtick is more Psychic Powers and weapons than Supernatural Martial Arts. The Monk and just about any Martial class could be played this way too.
  • Bad Guys Do the Dirty Work: Several articles relating to the Dawn War relate that without the efforts of the evil gods and their willingness to cross lines that good deities wouldn't, the primordials almost certainly would have won. Bane's utter ruthlessness, Gruumsh's tireless savagery, Asmodeus' betrayal of He Who Was (thus eliminating The Load from the gods' side), and even Lolth's betrayal of Corellon (thus getting him and Sehanine involved in the war) are all credited as having been absolutely vital for the victory of the gods. Played With, as according to Heroes of the Elemental Chaos, there were non-malevolent or even benevolent primordials who might have been willing to work alongside the gods to foster life on the world, but the indiscriminate brutality of some of the gods caused them to side with their more destructive kin.
  • Barbarian Hero: The 4e Barbarian is still this... but now with spirit magic to back it up. An Epic Tier Barbarian may be able to literally split the skies with his warcry, or engulf himself in flames that heal him and burn his foes.
  • Bare-Fisted Monk: The Monk class, of course. Even comes with its own class feature that makes it as good with bare hands as it is with weapons. Averted with the Iron Soul Style Monk, though, which is a Monk that specializes in Simple weapons, and the Soaring Blade paragon path, which is a Monk that specializes in acrobatics and the usage of Heavy Blades.
  • Barred from the Afterlife: Honored servants of a god are supposed to go to his or her divine realm after death as Exalted. Due to the heavens being badly fractured, a large portion of these randomly end up on islands just outside their god's realm, completely blocked from entering by any mundane or magical means.
  • Beneath the Earth: The Underdark, which sprawls through the interior of all three versions of the world, thanks to Torog.
  • Black Magic: The Warlock's forte.
  • Bloody Bowels of Hell: The realm of Torog, the King Who Crawls, god of imprisonment and torture. His capital city, as it were, is Gargash, the Living Torture Den. The reason it looks so horrible is that it's literally the not-quite-corpse of the ancient primordial that crippled and cursed Torog in the first place. It's "tended to" by an army of Wrackspawn, themselves the twisted not-angel-but-not-demon remnants of Torog's other victims, who are eternally hacking, destroying and reshaping the entire city-sized horror simply so that Gargash doesn't regenerate enough to let it wake back up.
  • Bond Creatures: The Ranger's animal companion, which returned in Martial Power #1. The Shaman's whole class revolves around the loyal spirit who helps them fight. Arcane characters can also buy a familiar (who can't really fight).
  • Cain and Abel: Bahamut and Tiamat, as is standard for D&D. Oddly enough, Corellon and Gruumsh are also suggested to have this sort of relationship, though they'd probably kill you if you said so in their presence.
  • Casting a Shadow: The Shadow power source, which seems to be a mixture of old-school necromancy and shadow manipulation. The Warlock, particularly the Dark Pact (which revolves around leeching health from allies to make nastier spells and "dark themed" spells like spattering necrotic-infused acid in a foe's eyes, rains of life-sapping darkness, and flinging daggers of pure poison), leans into this as well.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Averted. Nothing can be trusted by virtue of its nature or appearance in Nentir Vale. Metallic Dragons can be evil, elves can be slave traders, orcs can be noble savages, a diabolist might be a staunch defender of the innocent, an eldritch monster from beyond the stars might be granting powers to help avert The End of the World as We Know It ... you have very little way of knowing.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Trickster Rogues and Brawling Fighters. While every encounter is potentially lethal by design, most people would still consider eye gouging a little beyond the pale.
  • Crapsack World: To better facilitate the heroism... but seriously, this place is a mess. Heaven is broken! The stars are the watchful eyes of Cosmic Horrors! And it gets worse!
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Invoked in a number of ways, mostly by the existence of the Warlock class and the Tiefling race.
  • Dark World: The Shadowfell, a dark reflection of the prime material plane full of nasty, evil stuff. The Feywild, its opposite number, isn't exactly all fluffy and light, either, being the home of various Fair Folk who may not be friendly to outsiders (like the PCs).
  • Deal with the Devil: One way of getting to be a Warlock, and what turned the Tieflings into their present state.
  • Demon Lords And Arch Devils: All of the old classics (plus a few new ones) are here.
  • Earth Is the Center of the Universe: The world of the setting is just called "The World" since there is no other, and is the center and focal point of conflict for everything else in its cosmology.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The Far Realm and its children. Primordials are basically this mixed with Elemental Embodiment. The Obyriths were beings so foul and corrupt they consumed their own reality, and then they crystalized the last remaining fragment of it in an effort to break through into a new reality and corrupt it — this was the Shard of Evil. And the stars — all of them — are Eldritch Abominations who send their avatars to the world to wreak havoc because they hate life. All life.
  • Enemy Civil War: The Blood War is referenced, but is stated to have currently ground down into one of its "cold war" stages, when both the devils of Baator and the demons of the Abyss try to rebuild their strength and seek out weaknesses for the next attack. The cause is now over the Shard of Evil instead of the original philosophical battle (which was basically a mashup of Evil Versus Evil and Order Versus Chaos) — specifically, Asmodeus wants to take more of the Shard of Evil from the Abyss (the single small piece he managed to steal, which was formed into his Ruby Rod, gave him the power to kill He Who Was and steal his godhood), while the demons are furious that somebody would dare touch the Shard and want the Ruby Rod back. It still spun off of the great war of Law vs Chaos that was originally caused by the Shard of Evil, itself. That was set the stage for Asmodeus to steal the piece of the Shard to begin with.
  • Enemy Mine: In general, the good gods don't actually want the evil ones destroyed, since they sometimes provide useful services (Torog's assistance is generally required to imprison anything really powerful). And if the primordials ever re-emerge, all of the gods' combined strength will probably be required to subdue them again.
  • The Empire: They arise regularly, and are usually not evil, bringing a measure of safety and order to a significant portion of the world for a time. They never last, though, and a chaotic dark age always follows their fall.
  • Evil Versus Evil: This is the primary reason the tiny forces of good haven't been wiped out by the vast forces of evil — they're normally too busy fighting each other. For instance, the Githyanki are pirates of the really nasty sort, but are often kept occupied slaughtering mind flayers who once enslaved them, and Bane and Gruumsh have been locked in an epic war for thousands of years over the title of God of War.
    • Also, if you look at it right, an example of Order Versus Chaos; Bane is the soldierly, disciplined, lawful side of war, while Gruumsh is the barbaric, frenzied, chaotic side of war. YMMV, as ever.
    • The good and evil gods teamed up to fight the primordials who at best were unaligned and at worst on par with demon lords in psychosis. There were cases of evil on evil battles like Torog vs Gargash.
  • Expansion Pack World: Sort of. Because of the universal ruleset of 4th edition, dungeon masters and other world-builders are actively encouraged to take elements from the 4e versions of other settings.
    • Forgotten Realms gives the Drow and Genasi races and the Swordmage class.
    • Eberron gives the Changeling, Kalashtar and Warforged races and the Artificer class.
    • Dark Sun gives the Mul and Thri-Kreen races, and the new character mechanic of themes.
    • All settings also offer up feats, paragon paths and epic destinies, all of which are freely plunderable.
  • The Fair Folk: The Feywild is full of them, and the six weakest (and most understandable) forms of them, the Eladrin, Gnomes, Pixies, Hamadryads, Satyrs and Hengeyokai, are player races.
  • Flash Step: Invoked all over the place. Eladrin and Shadar-Kai have the ability to do a short-ranged teleport as a racial power, the Warlock gets a number of teleport powers, there are several Martial powers that revolve around "shift several squares, either before or after delivering a good hit with your weapon)... most built in to the Aegis of Assault Swordmage, whose class feature is the ability to teleport from wherever they are on the battlefield to slash at a foe who is stupid enough to attack a target that isn't the Swordmage. Harrier Battleminds in particular gear themselves towards teleporting all over the place to engage as many enemies as possible.
  • Full-Contact Magic:
    • The Swordmage and a melee-focused Bard both specialize in using magic up close, mainly by channelling it into their weapon. The Artificer kind of invokes this by lacing spells onto their allies so that when they hit a foe, or get hit by them, they do something extra nasty.
    • Hexblades, a kind of Warlock whose magic takes the form of a sword. Most of their powered involve either channeling spell powers through said sword, or else involves making other pieces of equipment out of magic, such as shields or armor.
  • Gaia's Vengeance: The Primal Spirits are the living embodiments of everything from the lifeforce of the world to specific locations, and they are of a comparable power as the Gods and the Primordials. In the Dawn War, they basically operated as type 1 ("Gaia's Vengeance Proper"), but nowadays they retrict themselves to type 3 ("Gaia's Avenger"), the Primal power source.
  • Genius Bruiser: The Warlord class, by definition. They wear heavy armor and typically use heavy weapons, but they're also supposed to be excellent tacticians, and Intelligence is recommended as their third or second-highest stat.
  • Glass Cannon:
    • The Striker role. Strikers have low health, poor Fortitude defense (except for the Barbarian, who gets low Reflex instead), and generally a rather shoddy armor class (due to needing to be mobile), but their speciality is dishing out massive amounts of damage in one strike. Most of the Strikers have either a primary/secondary that buffs AC, be it through class features (Dragon Sorcerers) or just normal ones (Rogue/Ranger/Warlock/Avenger/Chaos Sorcerers) with only the Barbarian being an exception, but most people put quite some stuff in Dexterity for helping with the AC and with weapons. The Avenger can avert this to an extent, with the second/third highest health (only losing to Barbarian and Constitution-based Warlocks), insanely high AC (+3 and both secondaries benefit AC), decent Reflex and Will defenses and a mildly decent Fortitude defense if they put the rest in Constitution, which will benefit both their health AND their healing surges.
    • Controllers share this trope, as they're often Squishy Wizards (though not as squishy as those of previous editions).
  • God Is Evil:
    • Even deities that aren't Evil or Chaotic Evil can still be morally ambiguous.
    • For example, Pelor (Good-aligned god of the Sun) is hiding several large fragments of the Living Gate, which is being sought out by its "children" the Shardminds and could be used to block out all incursions from the Far Realm...
    • Of a similar nature, but with lesser power, angels are described as being functionally embodiments of the "Indifferent" interpretation of Unaligned. They serve all of the gods, from Lawful Good to Chaotic Evil, and they only care that they serve their current patron to the best of their capabilities. In fact, as they literally get traded between the various gods, they actually take pride in having as little personality as possible, so they can more smoothly transition from, say, serving Pelor (God of the sun and hope) to Asmodeus (God of treachery and devils) — or vice versa.
  • God of the Dead: The Raven Queen is the primary goddess of the dead, and is charged with judging the souls of the dead and sending them onward to the afterlife, although her treaties with the other gods forbid her from actively ruling over the dead. She also hates the undead, and charges her followers with hunting them down. 5th Edition largely retcons this, making the Raven Queen into a lesser power concerned with observing mortal memories and experiences.
  • Godhood Seeker: The Demigod epic destiny lets a PC work toward godhood. Popular for its powerful bonuses.
  • An Ice Person: Sorcerers, Wizards, Swordmages, Warlocks, and Wardens all excel at playing this character. For a literal ice person, Eladrin have a bloodline called "Winterkin" that is basically what happens when you mix this with The Fair Folk, complete with the Bralani Wintersoul paragon path. And any Fey can also take the Winter Sovereign.
  • Jack of All Trades:
    • Humans. Flexibility and an ability to be good (if not great) at just about everything is their default fluff, and supported by their racial features (+ 2 to only one ability modifier, but they can choose which, an extra at-will power at first level, etc).
    • The Bard is strictly defined as a Leader role, but can focus on healing powers, disabling powers, powers that work just by magic, powers that are stacked onto hitting someone in the face with a melee weapon, powers that are stacked onto shooting someone in the face with a bow, or choose between all of these powers, and they can multiclass into as many different classes as they want! (For the big deal behind the last part: all other classes can, officially, only multiclass once - the closest you can get with them to the old "Fighter-Mage-Thief" of 2nd edition is by Hybrid Classing and then Multiclassing.)
  • Light Is Not Good:
    • The Radiant keyword literally embodies this. Often equated to the Positive Energy of the previous edition, mainly because it's a mainstay of the Divine classes, it's described as having no moral connotations at all — it's merely pure, brilliant, flesh-searing light. That means that the Chaotic Evil Paladin of Gruumsh and the Lawful Good Paladin of Bahamut both use weapons that glow with pure light of divine origin. The rulebooks note that this may actually make Divine-based villains more disturbing, and offers (somewhat half-heartedly) the idea of trading the Radiant keyword for the Necrotic (life-sapping darkness) keyword in such a situation. Radiant damage is also the mainstay of the Star Pact Warlock... that is, the guy who made a Deal with the Devil to Eldritch Abominations that watch the world from among the stars.
    • We also have the quatls, who are universally revered as champions of all that is just... mainly because they like the fame it brings.
  • The Medic: The Leader role is basically this, as their primary goal is healing injuries and boosting allies, though they're also almost as good at Defenders at taking and dishing out damage.
  • Monochromatic Eyes: Plenty of player races have these.
  • Multiple-Choice Past: Pretty much all of the gods. Most notably Asmodeus and Bane have some fairly contradictory information regarding their origins.
  • My Species Doth Protest Too Much Thanks to the way that 4e actually handles monster NPC stats, making one of these as a PC is actually more viable than it's ever been in any other edition.
  • Mythology Gag:
  • Neutrality Backlash: The Dusk Elves are elves who tried to stay neutral during the war between Corellon and Lolth. As a result, every other Elf, Eladrin and Drow hates them. They only survive because Sehanine gave them the magical abilities to hide themselves away from vengeful death squads.
  • One True Faith: A notable aversion, not just in the obvious sense of having different gods, but schisms and disagreements over the correct interpretation of holy writ are common even for the good gods' worshipers. Each temple is essentially its own sect and may or may not regard others as legit.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: Tharizdun, driven out of his mind by the Shard of Evil, seeks to annihilate all of reality. The demons are Elemental Embodiments of Corruption and Destruction, and thusly have the same goal. The Slaad wish to bring about the truest form of chaos by causing reality itself to break down and fall apart. All of these "people" are considered exemplars of Chaotic Evil.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: The old Metallic and Chromatic dragons aren't bound to an alignment by their color scheme any more for a start; Metallic Dragons are Unaligned, and Chromatics usually either Evil or a rather predatory form of Unaligned. There's also a variety of other dragons, such as Catastrophe Dragons (which are basically draconic embodiments of fun things like blizzards, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions).
  • Our Elves Are Different: The Eladrin are the the Feywild's equivalent of human beings, and have typical "fey" traits like longevity, teleportation and affinity for magic. They lost something like two thirds of their people to the Mortal World and the Underdark (and the third that went to the latter is still fighting against them) during the war against Lolth, and they're under siege by an underground empire of psychotic fey giants with powerful black magic. The ordinary Elves are the third that settled in the Mortal World, and they have actually weakened into their present state due to generations of being stranded there.
    • Dusk Elves descend from elves and eladrin who tried to stay neutral during the civil war between Corellon and Lolth, which resulted in them being forced to flee to hidden enclaves to avoid being wiped out by both sides. They are much less culturally attracted to the mortal world than normal elves are, viewing themselves as exiles and pining for their original Feywild homes, are characterized as grim and melancholic, and have a strong affinity for arcane and shadow magic, especially illusions. In comparison to the tanned-to-dark colored elves, dusk elves are very pale and ghostly colored.
    • Winterkin Eladrin are servants of the Winter Fey, and so hail from the frozen realms of the Feywild. This gives them unusually pallid colors, even resulting in snowy white or icy blue hair, skin and eyes, and makes them much more aggressive, warlike and stoic than their cousins from the more bountiful and forgiving realms of the Summer Fey.
  • Physical God: The gods themselves, of course. Also any hero in the epic (levels 21 to 30) tier — case in point, gods originally came with the quality in their statistic blocks that they couldn't even be damaged by a character who wasn't at least 21st level.
  • Playing with Fire: An old and trusty damage type. Generally considered to not be particularly optimized to rely on, though, because many creatures resist it. Still, there are ways around that.
  • Points of Light Setting: This is actually the Trope Namer and Trope Codifier; the publishers conceived the default setting for 4th edition as a loosely-defined collection of communities in a monster-ridden wilderness, which GMs could refine to suit their own games. Then, later, this default setting got a name.
  • Psychic Powers: The Psionic power source, naturally. So far, consists of the Ardent, Battlemind, and Psion. The Monk is also treated as a Psionic Striker; its usage of Supernatural Martial Arts and Ki Manipulation is based on this trope.
  • Pyromaniac: A Fire-orientated Dragon Magic Sorcerer and (potentially) an Infernal pact Warlock can both be this from the beginning. Any arcanist can pick up the Pyromancer paragon path, and Psions can take the roughly equivalent Firestarter paragon path.
  • The Red Mage: The Artificer or Bard fit this concept the closest by default, as they are Arcane Leaders and so good at slinging spells from a distance, healing, and clobbering foes with weapons. Some recommend hybrid/multiclassing into Swordmage (if you prefer getting into melee) or Wizard (if you prefer staying at a distance and tossing area effects around) for extra flavor.
  • Religion is Magic: The basic reasoning behind the Divine power source. The Primal power source is one part Gaia's Vengeance to one part this.
  • Rightful King Returns: The Legendary Sovereign epic destiny.
  • Rule of Three: Mentioned in Psionic Power, which establishes that some psionicists feel that the multiverse is comprised of three sets of three planes. The first trinity is the Material World, the Astral Sea and the Elemental Chaos. The second is the Material World, the Feywild and the Shadowfell. The third trinity are what they call the "phrenic planes", the planes of Thought. In this worldview, the Plane of Dreams is the phrenic equivalent of the Material World. The Far Realm is believed to be the Plane of Nightmares, and that it meets with a nameless phrenic plane of pure Order to form the Plane of Dreams. This nameless plane is also a shoutout to the Modrons of Planescape. Note that the Modrons have just recently gotten official material for D&D by way of a Dragon downloadable article.
  • Satanic Archetype: Asmodeus, Lord of the Nine Hells, was once an archangel who led a successful rebellion against the god he served.
  • Screw You, Elves!: Eladrin and Elves alike tend to disdain Dusk Elves (Dragon Magazine 382), who are the descendents of eladrin that, during the war between Corellon and Lolth that created the drow, declared "not my problem" and ran away. Corellon, technically the god of all elven races, vowed vengeance for their cowardice, and if it wasn't for the fact the only remaining elven goddess, Sehanine, took pity on them for basically following her tenets to the core and shielded them with divine illusions, their own people would have wiped them out.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: A lot of them. Most of the seals are starting to wear out, too.
  • Shock and Awe: Another trusty damage type, but for classes that truly live up to it... Storm magic Sorcerers and their paragon paths, of course. Warlocks (Fey pact ones, strangely) also have a paragon path (the Storm Scourge) that does this, as do Druids (Storm Speaker). Swordmages have almost as many Lightning powers as Sorcerers do, as well.
  • Silicon-Based Life: The Shardminds are raw psychic essence manipulating a body of pure crystal. They are Living Constructs and their racial power is to break up into a swirling storm of shards, and then pull themselves together somewhere else.
  • Speak of the Devil:
    • The standard D&D rules on this apply, but, in an interesting reversal, Asmodeus feared this would happen if anyone spoke the name of the god he overthrew even once, so he erased it from history, leaving the god to be known only as He Who Was.
    • Some say that if anyone speaks the name of the Jailer god Torog, they'll be dragged off to his domain by the man himself.
  • Stone Wall: The Defender role's job is to be the first in the line of battle and draw enemies into concentrating on attacking them and not the squishier members of the party. Unlike most Stone Walls, though, Defenders aren't too shabby about dishing out pain themselves. And they have to be! A defender consists of basically two parts: his defenses (armor, defenses, hit points, regeneration abilities and so on) and his "stickyness". The stickyness considers how likely enemies are to actually focus on the defender, so he has to be able to dish out the pain so that the enemy is punished for ignoring him. In an ideal situation this is the equivalent of a lose-lose situation for the attacker - either they have to try and hit the high AC of the defender instead of the squishier rogue or they can try a swing at the rogue and risk allowing the defender a free hit.
  • Super-Scream: The Thunderborn Barbarian's whole gimmic is that their battlecries are so impressive, spirits of thunder start following them around so they can scream in unison. By the highest levels, a Thunderborn can shatter steel with a good holler. Other classes get some thunder (the damage associated with this keyword) moves, but only the Bard's Voice of Thunder paragon path approaches the Thunderborn Barbarian's proficiency.
  • Token Evil Teammate: Vecna is the evil god of undead and necromancy, but in several published campaigns he helps the good gods by assisting the PCs. Mainly because he doesn't want any of the evil ones taking over the universe before he gets the chance.
  • Top God: Bane used to be this; during the Dawn War he was in charge of the gods' efforts against the Primordials. He had assumed that once the war was over, they'd let him stay in charge. He was wrong, and has been plotting on how to regain his position ever since.
  • Tranquil Fury: The "Calm Fury" barbarian paragon path is based completely around this.
  • Un-person: Asmodeus fears the name of the god he once served, and did his damndest to erase all records of it. Any sage who does unearth his true name tends to die of mysterious fire and brimstone-induced injuries.
  • Uplifted Animal: The origin of Thri-Keen in this setting, uplifted from lowly sand beetles by a great primal spirit.
  • Vestigial Empire: Let's see; the Human empire of Nerath was destroyed due to a massive war against gnolls and demons about 100 years ago, the Tiefling empire of Bael Turath was corrupted by pacts with Asmodeus and then fell into mutual destruction with Arkhosia, the dragon-ruled empire of the Dragonborn, the Minotaur empire of Ruul was annihilated by the gods Kord and Melora to purge it once the majority of the race fell to worshiping Baphomet...
  • Volcanic Veins: Not veins specifically, but the szuldar of the Genasi fit the same purose. They are natural (to the point they're considered as much a part of a genasi's persona as their fingerprints, or perhaps even more so) patterns of glowing light on a genasi's skin, with the precise color dependent on the Elemental Soul that they are manifesting. Earthsouls have gold, Firesouls have fiery orange, Stormsouls have silver, Watersouls have bright blue, Windsouls have light blue, Causticsouls have green-black, Cindersouls have dim fiery orange, Plaguesouls have black, and Voidsouls have an utter blackness that is more a total lack of color.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Lots of them, presumably so that the uncorrupted good or unaligned members can be a part of the party.
    • The School of Unmatched Excellence, an organization of psionics and Bare Fisted Monks who want to Take Over the World because they honestly think that the discipline they favor to control their powers makes their classes better rulers. They started as a good-aligned group, but their doctrine (unsurprisingly) drew so many dirtbags that their predominant alignment is the Noble Demon kind of Evil now.
    • Bane, God of Conquest, thinks that military discipline and Spartan culture (he even looks a bit like King Leonidas) is needed to survive in an admittedly Crapsack World filled with monsters.
    • Most of the Metallic Dragons are like this now.
    • The planar pirates known as the quom were originally healers, until their Genius Loci goddess became an unintended casualty of the Dawn War. They now desire to collect every piece of her so they can put her back together and resurrect her. Since said pieces are often components in magic items, and they tend to lodge in organic tissue...
  • Worthy Opponent: Asmodeus and Bane are an Evil Versus Evil version of this trope; as the embodiments of Lawful Evil in this setting, they have a grudging respect for each other, and will occasionally assist one another. However, they absolutely hate one another, and it's implied they hate each other specifically because they see so much of themselves in the other.
  • World Half Full: But unlike the metastatic cosmology in 3.5, you can actually make an everlasting difference! Your character can be the king of the new Nerath, if he tries! The Illithid won't have the last laugh! The world itself is actively protecting its inhabitants from the meddling gods, demons, aliens, and whatnot! Also, it's possible to beat the carp out of Asmodeus and restore the domain of his old master!
  • The Worm That Walks: The Larva Mage, most literally; an evil mage who possesses a swarm of maggots/flesh-eating worms and uses them to replace their dead body. Less literally, the Lamia (a gestalt fey entity made of flesh-eating scarabs that catches humanoids and eats them alive from the inside out so it can wear their skin as a disguise), the Larva Assassin (a Psycho for Hire whose soul clings to life in a swarm of hornets and centipedes), Larva Sniper (Cold Sniper made of wasps) and Larva Warmaster (General Ripper, Colonel Kilgore or Blood Knight who uses carnivorous beetles for its body). Bonus points for the Larval Undead being creations and servants of the actual Worm That Walks, Kyuss.
  • Wrestler in All of Us: Brawling Fighters are essentially pro wrestlers, specializing in grabs, throws, locks, etc., with their free hand.

Alternative Title(s): Points Of Light