The world is ancient, built upon and beneath the ruins of past empires, leaving the landscape dotted with places of adventure and mystery. Legends and artifacts of past empires still survive—as do terrible menaces. The current age has no all-encompassing empire. The world is shrouded in a dark age, between the collapse of the last great empire and the rise of the next, which might be centuries away. Minor kingdoms prosper, to be sure: baronies, holdings, city-states. But each settlement appears as a point of light in the widespread darkness, a haven, an island of civilization in the wilderness that covers the world. Adventurers can rest and recuperate in settlements between adventures. No settlement is entirely safe, however, and adventures break out within (and under) such places as often as not.
Fallcrest lies near the middle of the broad borderland region known as the Nentir Vale. 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.
Fallcrest stands amid the Moon Hills at the falls of the Nentir River. Here travelers and traders using the old King’s Road that runs north and south, the dwarven Trade Road from the east, and the river all meet. The surrounding ridges shelter several small valleys where farmers and woodsfolk live; few are more than six or seven miles from the town. In general the people outside Fallcrest’s walls earn their living by farming or keeping livestock, and the people inside the walls are artisans, laborers, or merchants. People with no other prospects can make a hard living as porters, carrying cargo from the Lower Quays to the Upper Quays (or vice versa).
In the decades since the Bloodspear War, Fallcrest has struggled to reestablish itself. The town is a shadow of the former city; little trade passes up and down the river these days. The countryside for scores of miles around is dotted with abandoned homesteads and manors from the days of Nerath. Once again the Nentir Vale is a thinly settled borderland where few folk live.
In the more prosperous times before the Bloodspear War an adventuring guild known as _ made a name for themselves by pushing back against the wilds that abounded in the Vale. But as the founding members grew in strength and renown they began to travel far and wide seeking greater adventure. They knew that there would always be danger present so they began the tradition of recruiting junior members into the guild to take over when they had moved on. Whether you sought out the guild on your own or were hand picked by an existing member, you showed promise and were given training in the arts that you seemed suited for. Now your training is at an end and you have one final trial before the elder members hand over control of the guild to you.
Recently on the King’s Road between Fallcrest and Winterhaven traveling merchants have experienced a rise in attacks by Kobalds. Several quaralling tribes are known to have made a home in the ruins of an old castle now known as Kobald Hall. You are being sent to investigate and reduce the threat.