This adventure is set in the town of Botkinburg near Blacktooth Ridge. The town has recently had several goblin raids occur and the characters are needed to help out.
The town of Botkinburg lies far from the settled lands of the south and the fabled Kingdom of Outremere. It sits upon a bend in the
Hruesen River in the shadows of the slopes of the rugged hills of the Blacktooth Ridge, in a land known as the Barren Wood. However, it was not always referred to in such dour tones. In happier days this land was a wild forested country, named the Hruesen. The forest was of an exceedingly large expanse and filled with many beasts as well as settlements of man, halfling and elf. The great ridge offered hunting aplenty and was called by men the Highlands and by the elves the Avishean Ridge. There was peace
in the country and little troubled the folk who lived there. But the world’s ages turned, and so with it the fortunes of those in that
Long ago, beyond the memory of most in the Barren Wood, a power arose in the north and the whole part of the world fell under
the rueful eye of a great and evil lord, The Horned One, as he was named. In those days, the Horned One’s shadow hung over all the world and he ruled from the great fortress of Aufstrag. When the Horned One first conquered these lands many aeons ago, it was restless and troublesome as its inhabitants, fay of many type and stalwart men of noble bearing, did not easily bend to his will.
So it was, after many a rebellion and uprising, the Horned One turned his armies lose upon the lands of the Hruesen. A great
many orc and goblin issued forth from the foul pits of Aufstrag and laid waste to the lands of the Hruesen, and driving the inhabitants south into the sea, enslaving them or scattering wide the free peoples that had been living there. His evil emptied the forest of its inhabitants and razed all the regions’ cities and towns.
For centuries after, the woods and vales of the Hruesen lay abandoned and empty. The ridge now stood forth from the wasteland
as a great black scar as the orcs occupied it and made it a fortress of sorts. They tunneled beneath it and built squat towers upon it.
They carted folk to the Ridge as slaves and there they became lost to memory. The ridge was called anew, now the Blacktooth Ridge, as it devoured all that entered it and the lands about were renamed the Barren Wood for little remained of that once great forest.
The fortunes of those lands changed only with the passing of that malicious monarch and the dissolution of his kingdom. Aufstrag
was made a shell of its former self, if not wholly destroyed and the evil hosts of the Horned One scattered to the winds. For many
years the lands knew peace, though they never flourished again. The evil which had resided here passed into memory or vanished
into the deep recesses of those hills. Thus the world stood for many years.
In time elves, in search of ancient homelands and shrines, and men, in search of fertile and peaceful lands to farm, returned and
settled in the Barren Wood; quickly forgetting, or choosing to forget, that each new age fosters new challenges and past evils
often haunt the hopes of the future. As the elves and humans returned, so to arrived remnants of the Horned One’s armies; for
the Blacktooth Ridge lies in the shadow of Aufstrag and the fell pits of that horrid place are a never-ending source of foul creatures
hungry for the easy pickings of the world of man and elf.
Now many creatures long away from this land find its fresh fields and peaceful inhabitants easy filling for their gluttonous desires.
As for Botkinburg, it was one of many new towns and thorpe that were settled after the fall of the Horned One. Several fishermen,
hunters, traders and foresters along with their families founded the village, building near where an ancient stone bridge crossed
over the Hruesen River. In those early days, the village consisted of little more than makeshift houses and hovels huddled together
along the banks of the river. The settlement became permanent as the clean and meandering Hruesen River proved an abundant
source of fish and the pastures about very fertile. Few creatures or maleficent beasts roamed those parts as the town took shape.
They named the town Stoneway and it quickly prospered, attracting more settlers and later, folk wishing to escape the meaningless
wars and petty uprisings in the south and west of the world.
So arrived Clement Botkin, the third in line of a large noble family of Outremere. Clement Botkin chose to make his own way
in the world, and after many travails and adventures, arrived in Stoneway where he decided to retire and claim this place as his
own. He brought with him several knights and some soldiery and built a tower in the town. As time passed, the dangers increased
and Clement built a stone wall around his tower and enclosed a wide bailey to protect the villagers in times of war. For two generations his family provided protection for the village that eventually bore his name. Through his wisdom and strength, Clement
kept the town and its folk safe for many years, until time robbed him of both his wits and his son, who died at the hands of orcs
while exploring the Blacktooth Ridge.
Clement’s grandson, Volkmar Botkin, has now taken the charge in his father’s stead as Clement has grown too feeble of mind and
body to do more than moan in pain and eat soup. Volkmar, however, has neither the wisdom nor intelligence of his grandfather
or father and so (despite the advice from his loyal servants) has failed to notice and act upon the recent events along the Blacktooth
Ridge, events that presage significant trouble for the people of Botkinburg and the whole of the Barren Wood.