The Valley of Dead Prophecies
The Valley has been the central conflict point in a 100 year war between two neighboring realms, the Emerald Empire and the Kingdom of Baan. The Emerald Empire is a relatively new kingdom; though the memory of whose ancestral lords founded the initial duchies have long since been lost to the winds of time. One thousand six hundred eighty three years ago, under the threat of the Eladrin host, Julianna the Valiant united the realms of Men and became the first Emerald Queen. Today, the Empire spans over 1000 leagues, from the salty shores of the Silent Sea in the southwest to the rocky precipices of the Undying Mountains in the north. On the eastern front lies the lands of Baan. Five hundred years ago, the two first made contact, when an Empire scouting party came across a small encampment of Baan soldiers, south of the Valley in the Burning Hills. The Kingdom of Baan stretches far to the southeast from the Valley, and few men of the Empire can agree on just how far the other side of Baan territory stretches. An uneasy peace existed for the next 400 years, while rumors began to pour into the Empire of untold treasures buried away north beyond the Valley through The Pass Beyond, lost to civilization for centuries, from the Age of Dragons when the foul beasts ruled all of the known world. Adventurers from both realms returning from the unknown lands spread tall tales of ancient and abandoned dragon lairs packed with gold, weapons, and armor; dungeons deeper than hell itself that entomb the long-lost dwarves and their mythical treasures; and crumbling towers of once powerful wizards rife with deadly traps and enchantments to protect the mystical secrets held within.
Eventually, war broke out, though the common man has little care or understanding for the politicks of high society. All that he needs to know is that the Kingdom of Baan had grown evil, no doubt some lecherous religion spread from the far eastern expanses, vile enough to taint the minds of even a king. Or perhaps an evil wizard, awakened from his long slumber in the north, descended upon Baan and now has the land under his sway. None living have ever entered the lands of Baan, for it is forbidden, upon penalty of death, less whatever evil has taken hold of the Kingdom should spread into the Empire. For nigh on a century, the young and strong of the Emerald Empire have gone dutifully to find glory and death on the eastern front. The population has thinned over the decades, and rumors spread that the war effort is failing. No matter how many men are sent to the Valley, nothing ever changes. It is said that the Kingdom of Baan has an inexhaustible supply of men to fuel the war, and even where Baan forces are spread too thin, they resort to zombified warriors and legions from hell itself to subdue the Empire.
It is not uncommon to see caravans of young women being sent to the front, for while the men of the Empire are away, there are none left to sire sons for the next generations of knights. Women are encouraged to have many sons from any father they may find, and bastards have long since lost their stigma; many are even granted knighthood and given estates. The same can be said for half-raced citizens in the Empire; some even say that it is better to be a half-race for they possess the best qualities of both races and can better serve the Empire in battle.
Despite the efforts of the Empire, there seems to be no end in sight, just as the events that triggered the war have been lost to myth for the commoners. The Empire is actively recruiting, some say even desperately, looking for an edge to turn the tide and send the evil Baan back to the depth from whence they came. The Empire needs you, adventurers! And you, my adventurers, shall begin in a small town on the outskirts of the Valley, called Ramblebranch Town.