Candles in the Dark
The Starting Region
The region below is the so-called starting region. We won’t be staying in the region… the characters will be fleeing the area, so the information below is just for background purposes.
The area your character lives from is a plains filled with rolling hills and small forests. To the west lies the oceanside that one can reach without an unreasonably long trip. To the east and south lies… who knows? Bands of evil monsters, barbarian tribes, bandits, and worse. To the North lies the Elemere forest… and in between the forest and the oceanside lies the Elemoor swamp; both are said to be deadly, with the forest being fey-haunted, and the swamps… no one knows for sure.
The plains themselves, along with the forests and lone, small mountains in the area, are inhabited with a number of small villages of various peoples, religions, philosophies, etc. Although the peoples in this area are relatively peaceful, bandits exist, and between the fears of predators in the world, the peoples are also quite cautious.
Many of the human villages have sprung up in ruins that dot the area, remnants of some dead civilization or other; sages speculate on whether the ruins once belonged to Nerath, Bael Turath, Arkhosia, or some other civilization long forgotten.
Halflings live in hidden villages along the foothills; various more peaceful barbarian tribes live in the area, as do spatterings of villages of different species. Including a small outpost of Eladrin that phases in between the feywild and here; a small scattering of elves; dragonborn and tiefling generally living with humans, as standard, as well as gnomes with elves, eladrin, or halflings, and half elves split between the human and fey communities.
A single, small mountain exists with a tiny dwarven community. It isn’t much, and their mine has run dry of anything of value long ago. Shifters in the area are living either in the human communities or the barbarian communities.
There are several small villages and tribes that have a scattering of several races, friendly and working together; consisting of all the races in some combination or other. A sense of slow development of friendship between the scattered communities, of working together for the common good, had been forming, before the Gnoll invasion.
The gods worshipped in the area tended heavily to be either Melora or Pelor; a small barbarian tribe worshipping Gruumsh had been around, but working together, the various tribes and villages had driven them out around 20 years ago.
A smattering of all the other gods can be found here and there, but the churches of the good gods are strong enough that any worship of the evil gods are kept secret, if they exist at all.
Anyway… as before, all this was before the gnoll invasion. The tribes and villages numbered anywhere from a few dozen to a few hundred… perhaps the largest few had a few thousand.
The gnoll army that came through numbered in the tens of thousands, came out of nowhere, and demolished the outlying communities before they had a chance to react. Potential allies were destroyed before they could get to safety, and refugees gave farther communities little warning before the gnolls, traveling behind, struck, and struck hard.
And so, your band, with the npc refugees traveling with you having been killed, arrived at the southern border of the Elemere forest, with few options but to enter, hoping the rumored deadliness of the forest was less than the true deadliness of the gnolls at your back.
From the region you live in:
To the West lies the ocean.
To the North lies the Elemere forest, which turns into the Elemoor swamp as it approaches the ocean to the west; it runs into and up the slope of mountain ranges that initially run west to east, but turn north in the distance….
The center of the region is a rolling plains dotted with foothills, a few sparse forests, and a single lone mountain that is probably an outlying end of the unnamed mountains that lies in the Elemere’s Eastern border. The region is also dotted with a variety of ancient ruins, many of which have been used as the basis for new villages being rebuilt.
To the South and East lies… monsters. In other words, considerable dangers exist, and anyone with a map might see “Here there be monsters” scrawled on the eastern and southern borders.
It was from the South-southeastern border that the gnolls came from. Survivors fled east to the unknown, fled north to the Elemere and Elemoor, or the West to the ocean, trying to escape.
You guys would have lived in the central or south or southeastern areas, fleeing north with other refugees as the gnolls advanced, slowly having your numbers whittled away by fast-moving advanced raiders, until only the PCs are left by the time you reach the Elemere’s borders in the north meaning you are on the Elemere’s southern borders).
The game will begin with some narrative about how you leave your homes behind, fleeing into the forest, perhaps hoping your loved ones also escaped, or seeing them died, and perhaps swearing you will return one day… or perhaps not, looking to get a new start on life?