It has been nearly half a century since Ajax murdered King Ormund and took his throne, descending in his flying city fortress into the middle of the kingdom. Ormund's army of stalwart dragonborn were quickly overwhelmed by the multitudes of warbred that the dark fortress spewed out. Once Ormund was dead the armies of warbred marched outward, engaging in a telling war of attrition that ground both sides to broken remnants of their former selves. The warbred armies left to fend for themselves as soon as they had achieved their purpose.
Now with tyranny on the rise bastions of civilization fall while the Wodes* encroach on the land. Towns and cities grow ever more isolated as the roads that link them become unusable. Those that are not in ruin are patrolled by bandits, or worse, the Ajax’s men. Both will rob the shirt off your back, but the bandits are much more likely to let you go free.
The dukes that loyally served King Ormund were ground to nothing. Although Ajax claims that they are all dead, there are rumours, barely whispered about, that some managed to escape. With barely more than the shirts on their back, the Black Dukes form a glimmer of hope in the chaos, something to rally to, should anyone be brave enough to challenge Ajax.
For now Ajax' Hawk Lords descend on the scattered baronies at will and extract brutal taxes, in goods, money and people before flying off into the sky again, leaving the barons to fend for themselves.
Closer to home the Barony of Bedegar has been thrown into chaos as a band of orcs sacked Bedegar keep and murdered the Baron’s family**. If you believe the stories, these are no ordinary orcs, but huge beasts 10 feet tall with tusks that could gore a man from across a river.
The baron’s close friend, Lord Saxton, has declared himself regent and, with no one else to look to for leadership, many of the local lords have sworn fealty. Following the new king’s example, Lord Saxton has begun to close his iron grip on the Barony. Exiling any who may be a threat and placing his own lackeys in positions of power.
The adventure starts in a town on the frontier of civilization – Gravesford. This small town has been in slow decline for years. Under King Ormund it served a nearby Castle. Now lost to the Wode, the castle is little more than a rumour harkening back to the good old days when the east road brought trade from neighbouring kingdoms.
*Dense dark forests. Not the pleasant wooded areas that nobles like to hunt in. The Wode hides orcs, goblins and other fouler things, and seems to actually fight and devour any who venture in.
**I'm not sure yet, but I think this would have happened 6 months to 2 years ago.