Monster Vault: Threats to the Nentir Vale: A 4th edition Dungeons & Dragons Supplement
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- Monster Vault Essentials Expansion
- Age range: 12 and up / Number of players: 2 to 5
- Manufacturer: Wizards of the Coast
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CHOKING HAZARD -- Small parts. Not for children under 3 yrs.
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The Nentir Vale -- a frontier land sheltered by mountains and strewn with abandoned farmsteads, ruined manors, and broken keeps -- is the perfect base for any Dungeons & Dragons® campaign. Many heroes begin their adventuring careers here, and some also meet untimely ends.
Monster Vault: Threats to the Nentir Vale presents statistics, tactics, and lore for an array of new monsters that prowl the Nentir Vale, some of which trace their origins back to the earliest editions of the Dungeons & Dragons® Roleplaying Game. Other entries focus on campaign villains present in the Nentir Vale region, among them the Iron Circle, the Tigerclaw Barbarians, the Raven Roost Bandits, and several new villainous groups introduced here for the first time.
The monsters and villains contained within are appropriate challenges for heroic- and paragon-tier characters and fit easily into any home campaign, as well as other Dungeons & Dragons published campaign settings. In addition to a 128-page book of ready-to-play monsters and villains, this product includes 8 die-cut sheets of card stock monster and villain tokens and a double-sided battle map featuring four different encounter locations you can use when running encounters.
128 page book of ready-to-play monsters and villains
8 die-cut sheets of card stock monster and villain tokens
1 double-sided battle map (featuring 4 different encounter locations)
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|Item Dimensions||0.92 x 8.78 x 11.02 in||1.94 x 8.97 x 11.49 in||11.5 x 11.5 x 5.5 in||12.25 x 12.25 x 4.75 in||5.5 x 11.5 x 11.5 in|
|Item Weight||2.52 lbs||1.84 lbs||6.35 lbs||6.6 lbs||0.16 ounces|
Top customer reviews
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On the one hand, in this book, you have some of the very best monster design in 4e. WotC has only been getting better at monsters since Monster Manual 3 last year, and I haven't found much to complain about in this one yet... Except for one thing, which I'll get to.
Much like in the Shadowfell box set, we have a 128-page softcover book, a poster map, and six cardstock sheets of tokens. Unlike in the Shadowfell box, WotC doesn't even try to make the container box-like; it's a slipcover, shrink-wrapped, holding all the goodies. All told, this still makes the product rather pricey for the page-count... As I've said, this is quality material, so I'm not grouching too much, but it's a tough sell at full price. (Sadly, the tokens continue to have the monster names across the Bloodied sides, which make them easier to find, but make it much tougher to use them as generic placeholders, and make it nearly impossible to hide monsters' identities from your players. I'd rather guess!)
Also like in the Shadowfell box set, a large portion of the "monsters" herein are basically NPC groups, generally opponents. For me, this is awesome; it's very easy to take a group like, say, the Blackfang Gnolls or the Tigerclaw Barbarians, and quickly construct a level-appropriate encounter for my players. It helps make prep-time low, and play-time valuable. I'm also partial to NPC groups in general; a faction such as the Iron Circle or the Grey Company has a lot more interest as a long-term foe than a simple Troll does. This also makes it very easy for me to integrate these foes into my home Dark Sun game.
Although I've not had time to exhaustively read the flavor text, there's a ton of it, and it's overall well-written. The Wandering Tower, Mooncalves, and Dythan's Legion - the ones that caught my interest first - are all fantastic. The art is pretty uniformly high-quality, too.
So how nasty are the monsters? Calastryx was featured on the Wizards site within the last month, and he's the scariest 14th-level Solo I've ever seen. Google him or the Boggle for examples. Perytons are back in their heart-ripping glory, and Pennaggalans are every bit as gross and creepy as ever. I'd go on, but I'm afraid I'd just rave about nearly every monster.
So given this, why four stars instead of five?
Well, the monsters here range from Level 1 to Level 20; everything at 19 or 20 is an Elite or Solo, so this book is mostly useful up until about Level 17 or 18ish. There's not a single Epic monster to be found. Worse, somewhere around 3/4 of these are Heroic-tier; there's a sampling of 11-20's, but they're in the minority, and there are only a few per level. While this is fine in general, it overlaps with the Monster Vault significantly, and is of only moderate use in my high-heroic tier game.
While I applaud the new monster design, there's a dearth of Epic-tier foes using the upgraded design standards. I was hopeful that this book would cover all levels, but it doesn't. With this and with the high cost per page, I had to drop this otherwise outstanding product 1 star.
Ah well. I don't regret the purchase even a bit; it's just a missed opportunity.
Second, you might find this book a little awkward because the descriptions of the monsters are setting specific... yet not specific enough! For example, the goblins in here are the "Daggerburg" goblins. We have no idea where Daggerburg is, for instance. No description of the place in any other book. Just a little paragraph here. It's not on any official maps of the Nerath region. We don't know its relationship with Fallcrest or where it is relative to the old empire of Bael Turath etc. It's just there. This goes for a lot of the other entries as well. It's "awkwardly specific" because the monsters are either TOO specific or not specific ENOUGH. Either give me a setting book or make them generic so they fit into my custom setting.
I get what they were doing with Nerath: It was supposed to be a very bare bones setting, designed for DMs to fill in all the blanks. 13th Age did this as well, with their world. I think this is fine, but to make the monsters custom for a tabula rasa setting is a little odd.
The content of the pack was good, but the quality was a bit surprising compared to the other products I have purchased recently.
The book cover and back was far thinner than the other Monster Vault book in the Essentials line. Inside content was great. Loved the info, pictures, and monster stats.
The product contained 8 sheets of Monster Tokens, but these were of far less quality than the previous Token sheets that have come with their other products. The card stock is thinner and has a matte finish instead of Gloss as I've come to expect.
Threats to Nentir Vale also comes in a slip cover instead of a box. Not a big deal to me, except that my main complaint is about price here.
This product contains Less than the other Monster Vault, doesn't include adventures/encounters as the other one does, and the quality of materials used in it's construction is lower than before. So WHY does it cost more?
It's still a good tool to have in your DM arsenal. I actually use the tokens in lieu of Mini's, which are far more expensive. I think WoTC should have offered this product for about $10.00 less than listed.
Better quality of materials would have justified the cost a bit more and definitely would have achieved a 5 Star rating.
Most recent customer reviews
This contains plenty of gorgeous tokens, and a very detailed, double sided battlemat.Read more