I already keep a record of everything that happens during my games, but I want to creatively chronicle my player’s adventures and share their story. But before I can do that, I need to introduce readers to the world that they’re playing in, because while it is rooted in the Forgotten Realms it didn’t start that way. It actually wasn’t until we were a couple of weeks in that I decided that we were going to do a little bit of retconning to the world’s history to make it fit into FR.
Fortunately, none of my players have characters that are particularly religious, so the complete gutting of the preexisting pantheon hardly mattered to them. Regardless, with such a big change to the setting it’s something you should consult with your players. I did and they were cool with it.
The Winterhaven Enclave is located on the northern tip of Tiranor. Nestled between the mountains is the Vale of Winterhaven, the dominion of the Kingdom of Osiria. Despite its namesake the ever snowy valley is quite accommodating throughout most of the year. The kingdom is ruled by the Ivory Queen, a benevolent and revered monarch of the Grisonnant — A hardy race of humans native to the valley — and the Dwarves. The Ivory Queen is also the prophet of the Goddess Vasila, the deity of the monotheistic Pravdan Church.
The valley has experienced a peaceful spell for a number of years. The local guard and royal militia are highly sufficient in neutralizing threats to the livelihood of the people and creatures of the wild typically adhere to the boundaries of their territories. A land devoid of problems has little need of mercenaries and adventuring companies, and they have since moved on from the valley. But there is a new and dreadful peril that has taken hold of the kingdom.
An epidemic has overcome Osiria. Over the course of a couple of weeks the sickness has spread throughout the city and the church is doing everything in its power to combat the plague. To prevent the sickness from spreading, the north has been quarantined and the roads closed. Traveling merchants, citizens, and guards that have been dispatched to the southern territories are unable to return home until the sickness has been quelled.
With assistance from the north cut off the southern half of the valley is vulnerable and strange things have begun to transpire. People have gone missing, a mysterious fog occasionally creeps out of Winterknell Forest and whispers of the Ebon Witch reach ears in every corner of the vale.
Before we had our first game, I sent out invitations to my players. The invites had the general summary of Winterhaven as well as some notes regarding what they could expect from the games I run. Along with the invitations was a print out of a poster with text in Common and Dwarvish. It was a call to arms, posted by a newly formed adventuring guild looking to recruit new blood – The common thread that would draw the players together to begin the game.
We had a pregame meet up in which I explained a little more about the world, and since two of the players decided they wanted to be natives of the valley I had to give them a bit more information regarding the towns and cities, the general population, local legends, history and current events, etc.
We also ended up creating two new towns to coincide with their background stories, which just further enriches the already established setting and gives me more to work with! Communication with your players is crucial, and it sometimes helps when your players are also writers. Sometimes… but that pretty much covers the intro to the Vale of Winterhaven. Until next time!