For this campaign I went back to my roots and one of the first areas of my world that I had ever worked on or settled. Very old school and greyhawk in flavor as belied what was relevant to me at that time. I have revisited this area a few times since then and felt that it was time to return here for this group.
The "set up" and common knowledge follows:
It is the spring months of the year 182 of the 30th age (as the elves measure the passage of time).
The land you are in was once referred to as the Duchy of Argos, part of the greater and unified kingdom of Daro. However the heart of Argos was the area known as Woodhelven, a separate and self governed land of the elves who had lived here since before recorded time. The barbarian kingdoms that made up this land were unified generations ago under the banner of Daro and those that lived here assumed they were part of the great kingdom.
During the goblin wars which lasted well over 25 years the throne of Daro sent less and less aid to the southernmost Duchy and demanded more taxes and tribute from the war torn nobility until the Duke of Argos had the king’s exchequers thrown out, the ambassador from Daro put to the sword, and declared himself King Argos the 1st. From there he aligned with the Speaker of the Sun, the high ruler of Woodhelven, and asked for the elves' aid in driving the goblin tribes back.
Other barons, counts, and lords also declared themsleves free of Daro and followed suit, elevating themselves and adopting titles to match. This fracturing of the feudal system caused enough internal strife that the goblin forces actual took over and occupied for some time the towns of Ferron, Shakun, Brewersbridge, and even the larger city of Timberton.
It was through a combination of magic, sword, and many tens of thousands of men and elves that the goblins were driven back and their stranglehold broken. The goblin tribes had been united under a mysterious Lord Hammer and it was his influence and direction that had given the goblins such insight and capability. Lord Hammer’s undoing was eventually the assumption of his identity, and a sorcerer of great skill known as Fendinthalis was pivotal to his demise.
Without their binding general, the goblin tribes have been less cohesive and the rangers and spellswords from Woodhelven have aided the beleaguered men and women of Argos in sending the greenskins back to the cracks in the earth from where they came.
Representatives from Daro have come south again and again, in some attempts to reintroduce King Argos and the other lords back under the imperial banner but their efforts have been rebuffed. The people of Argos are proud in their accomplishments and even with the hardships they have endured, see no reason to return to a distant crown.
The elves of Woodhelven are happy too to be out from under the rule of a distant human king and have taken to governing their own lands as they see fit.
Most of the towns that the goblins had occupied are once again in the hands of the original people who had lived there and were forced to flee over fifteen years ago. There has been much work to set things right and the times have been lean. Prices are still very high and finished goods are outside of most people’s price range.
There are talks though. The traderoads to the western lands of Pervia are filled with stories of the K’Darial kobold marauders waylaying travelers and taking their heads and skins. Duuk Sarathian Goblins are still seen everywhere, emerging from the Endless Forest and causing havoc in trios and gangs from stealing chickens to burning families out of house and home.
But closer to home are the bandits; rough men and women who have lived so long in the wild scraping by that they have forgotten lawfulness and decency and will stop a group of travelers to take their coins, clothes, and shoes. This lawlessness has gone on for some time and some of the local lords have felt that their mustered militia and home guards are ill equipped to handle the situation. So the call has gone out for the first time in over a score of years for adventurers stout and true to be commissioned and charged with reining in some of the chaos that exists outside the palisade walls of our cities.