Here is the beginnings of a sourcebook for Palmatia, the town in which the adventure takes place:
The campaign setting of Palmatia begins in and around the eponymous town. Home to about 50,000 souls, the town of Palmatia is expected to become a full-fledged city in another generation or two. Provided it is able to survive, of course…more on that a bit later.
The origins of Palmatia are lost in the smoke of the post-Firefall world. Approximately one thousand years ago, a catastrophe befell the world. (Some sages believe there may be areas of the world that were less affected, or unaffected, but no contact has been made with these areas, if in fact they exist.) The most visible sign of the catastrophe was the storm of meteorites that fell from the heavens, blasting the landscape, raising tsunamis, and bringing a violent end to a human civilization which, according to most accounts, was more advanced than what the human race has managed to achieve at the current time.
After the Firefall came several years of intense heat. Summers were long and hot, winters short and mild. Droughts overran many of the temperate regions, with hurricanes blowing across the tropics. The climate then lurched in the other direction, nearly tipping the planet into an Ice Age. Magic ceased to function for nearly two decades. By most accounts, 25 years after the Firefall, the human population was about a fifth of what it had been…
But by the end of the fourth decade, magic returned to the world, and the climate stabilized. The human race began the long climb back…for the first couple centuries in villages and hamlets, and by the fourth century, into towns. By the end of the fifth century, certain aspects of human civilization pre-Firefall began to reassert themselves. The nations and kingdoms and fiefs that had existed before the Firefall had been blasted, fried and frozen into insignificance, lost in the dusts and snows. The tendency of humans to gather into groups, to forge nations which then turned against nation…that had emerged unscathed, merely waiting for the chance to reassert itself.
By the middle of the sixth century, the Great Game was underway in earnest.
Three mighty city-states emerged: the Light of Letheese, the Sangoonis, and the Empire of Northwood. The first was run by the clerics of Suun, the Illuminated One, to whom all other gods were false and of the forces of darkness. The second was a polyglot seafaring state, an empire in all but name, whose corsairs and tradesmen owned or controlled ports for a hundred miles up and down the coast, through which leftover bits and pieces of the Old World—the world before the Firefall—flowed. The third involved an alliance between druids, elves and backwoods humans who did not care to be under the boot of the Letheese.
For three centuries, these three nations vied for power…sometimes peacefully, often not so. Late in the eighth century, hoplites and cavalry from a race of bronze-skinned humanoids calling themselves the Children of Alexander landed on the coast, swiftly asserting control and founding a new city-state, bringing strange gods and goddesses like Zeus, Aphrodite, Hermes and Poseidon. For a time, the existing three united to try and drive these newcomers into the sea from whence they came, but were fought to a standstill in an epic battle in the hills surrounding the Alexandrian city. By blood and bronze and courage and iron, the Alexandrians established their right to exist in this new land.
Besides, an old threat made new had taken the spotlight…
Just as humans had been making their recovery from the Firefall, so had the Benighted Races…the orcs, the gnolls, the trolls, the hill giants. They had been a bit slower to recover…but their very fecundity ensured that these races would recover…and once their recovery began, it would proceed rapidly. And it did…and in the present time, the four Nations of Man are finding more and more of their energies devoted to confronting the threat posed by the Benighted Races.
As if these conflicts are not sufficient, sages and peddlers alike whisper that the Firefall appears to have opened doorways between this world and another with strange people and things. Legends are too numerous to be dismissed…a metal, mechanical dragon that killed a cohort of the Benighted orcs, another group of people with jet-black skins calling themselves “Zoo-loo” quietly setting themselves up their own territory, still another olive-skinned tribe with sticks speaking fire and bearing a banner showing a rising sun whose raping and pillaging rivals that of the Benighted themselves. And rumors have it that the Benighted are receiving help from a shadowy group of wizards from this other world, who quest for a black, gooey substance used in fire magic as their own supply of this substances runs low…
So where does this leave Palmatia?
For the past two centuries, Palmatia has managed to avoid being drawn into the conflicts between the city-states, mainly by virtue of its ocation. Situated far from the capitals of the city-states, Palmatia has been but a footnote in the plots and schemes of the great powers. Freed from having to play a role in the affairs of the powerful, the town has prospered...until the rise of the Benighted began to cast a shadow about a decade ago.
Not pledging fealty to a liege lord did wonders for the Palmatian economy, but its military was sorely lacking. So when the nascent orc and gnoll tribes began raiding, there was little the town could do...
But the humanoid denizens of the deep woods were as crafty as they were wicked. Two tribes menaced Palmatia: the orcish Fist of the Iron Claw, and the gnoll Pack of the New Moon. While the two different species clashed with each other at times, usually an uneasy peace existed. And rather than sack the town, the tribes opted for an approach that was more leech-like than wolf-like. First it was the theft of a cow or sheep here and there. Then, as the Benighted grew bolder, the occasional maiden was taken, "used," and then returned...often carrying monstrous offspring.
As the monstrous tribes gradually become bolder and more numerous, Palmatia has almost become two towns. One is the Palmatia of the daytime, which looks like a normal town. Merchants, smiths, farmers and hunters ply their business. There is laughter and commerce...children playing.
But as the sun dips low and the shadows grow long, the other Palmatia shows through. Cattle are brought inside, doors are locked, and womenfolk in particular are kept indoors. The Terror makes itself felt as the twilight deepens and the stars begin to come out. Especially for those living near the edge of town, sleep does not come easily. There is the dread of that knock at the door, and an inhuman voice demanding something...perhaps silver...maybe food...perhaps a cow...or, more and more often, a wife or daughter...