The situation is this (with map to follow). The "Duchy" - now under the guidance of Duke Gorthus (son of Gothric, grandson of Gortran the Great) - is still struggling to come to terms with the Cataclysm (see above). Isolated since the dwarves sealed the valley, contact with the outside world has fallen away - leaving you with limited ability to trade what the Duchy has spare for what it needs.
Currently, the main settlement is Gort itself, with a reduced population of about 300 people. Several of the outlying villages and hamlets have done better, since more and more people were forced out of town to plough the fields if you were all to survive. 95% human, there are a few members of other races. These are almost always descendants of those demihumans that made up Gortran's brave band of adventurers. The few remaining dwarves - Clan Steelshine - have retreated to the northwest of the Duchy in the face of growing hostility, and number forty or so. The other separate settlement is that of the "Gypsy Circle" - once a travelling band of peddlers and entertainers that were trapped in the Duchy when the Gates of Ferrium were sealed shut. The only contact with the outside world is to the west where an extremely difficult climb - known as Tetlar's Gap - leads up into the glacier. Limited trade exists with the barbarian tribes (various races) but these are unpredictable and usually extremely violent.For many years, the vale which you now know as "the Duchy" has been hidden from the eyes of the world. As you all know, it was founded by Gortran the Great, the hero who slew the mighty Tiamat and drove her screaming from this world. The danger past, Gortran sought to spend his final years in peace. For this champion, his greatest dream was to die old yet loved - to build rather than cast down. Others could carry on the fight that was no longer in his ageing heart. Though enemies remained, Gortran counted the Dwarves of Ferrium amongst his many friends. Beneath the mountains, Ferrium was their greatest fortress, and through tunnels and gates and great halls carved into the deepest rock, the Dwarves showed Gortran the way to a hidden valley among the highest peaks that was not known to mankind. It was here that Gortran chose to settle, and it was here that his friends and allies joined him. With his family close, he became the first Duke and settled into his twilight years in peace. The town of Gort flourished, as did the surrounding villages and farms that grew alongside. Gortran was kind and just and loved, and all was well.
The years passed and through the Dwarves, trade passed into the hidden vale and we propered. Yet, this peace was not to last. As Gortran greyed and his children bore children of their own, a visitor appeared. Kethry - the Archmagus herself - had arrived through her magic, seeking council with Gortran, and his help. First she told him what she wanted him to do. He refused. Then she grew angry and demanded he obey. Again Gortran refused. Finally, this most powerful of wizards dropped to her knees and cried, begging Gortran to help her. At this, he relented. Soon after, with his surviving friends and allies at his heels, he rode out of the Duchy by way of the dwarven halls - and he was never seen again. Days passed and life continued much as before; though Gortran's eldest son Gotric ruled in his stead. At least until the day of the Cataclysm....
On that day - almost five weeks since Gortran had rode out at Kethry's wish - the very earth roared and shook. As houses fell and trees uprooted, the skies to the east grew red and angry. Even hidden behind the mountains that held the dwarven hold, it was clear that the blast must have been tremendous. The redness turned to black and as darkness descended huge winds swept over the mountains and laid waste to everything still standing. Finally, after many hours, the winds grew still. But that was not the end. As light dimmed, night failed to turn back into day and warmth faded from the land. Keeping time grew difficult, but it is believed that the darkness remained for twenty days, enough time for even the robust ecosystem of the Duchy to begin to fail. Brother Tilver, priest of Sporos, did what he could to save us all and somehow he managed to keep food in our bellies though he later died from his efforts. Eventually, huddled against the cold and the dark, the light of the sun began again to shine. We had survived, but the world would never be the same again.
Even as the Cataclysm struck, Lord Gotric sent runners to the dwarves - perhaps they would know what had happened? At first they were as confused as we, the soldiers of the surface forts sending messengers deep into the depths of their citadel for answers. Yet to our horror, the letters that returned were not in our favour. With faces grim, the dwarves cast out our messengers, drawing steel when they had to. Their last words "We must close the gates - forgive us." And so the great gates closed and we were left alone, cut off from the world, our valley barely able to support us. That was fifteen years ago.