Well met travelers. It is indeed good to see you all again. Before you leave the Fortress of Magnir atop the Gap of Helder and begin your journey to the Village of Canaladaer Keep, I would like to briefly review some of the cultural background of the Hrothgar region and more fully detail your role as an adventuring company within it.
The company to which you all belong is by no means an isolated or unusual phenomenon among the settlements of the Hrothgar Peninsula. While adventuring companies are not exactly common, they are by no means an unusual sight along the highways and byways that connect the Hrothgar settlements. While most people of the region are content to spend their lives seeking peace and the pursuit of a trade, a certain type of young adult has always been drawn to this exciting and extremely dangerous calling.
These individuals unite and train together in small bands, typically ranging between four and eight individuals. Adventuring for them is not exactly a trade. Rather it is somewhere between a profession and a hobby. While wealth can certainly be gained from this pursuit, adventurers tend to be equally motivated by the desire for excitement and a sense of satisfaction that comes from defending their communities and their homeland. Very generally speaking, there are two basic types of activities that these adventuring companies engage in.
First, many hire themselves out as something like highly specialized mercenary strike teams to the forces that guard the Girdle of Hrothgar. The Cudgel Fist Dwarves of the Fortress of Magnir and the Order of Herronius, which holds Fallen Orc Pass at Beregost, are always looking for such groups. These companies are used for scouting and raiding missions against the Bloody Hand and Sun Killer Orc nations that lie south of the region. The southern slopes of the Girdle of Hrothgar also hold many ancient ruins from the time before the great fall. These ruins and the networks of tunnels beneath them spawn all sorts of potential threats to the region in addition to the Orcs. While some may wish to mount full blown military campaigns against these threats, such responses are typically not feasible. The Hrothgar armies are small and best used in defense of the narrow passes. Adventuring teams are thus used to gather reconnaissance and to harass the forces of evil, keeping them off balance. The town of Southwaite, given its proximity to the Girdle of Hrothgar, has always been a popular hiring station for such groups. The walls of The Axe and Hammer, a Southwaite tavern catering to adventurers, are always covered with numerous postings and advertisements penned by those looking to hire such doughty groups.
Many adventuring groups, however, rarely venture off of the Hrothgar Peninsula itself. This second type of group focuses on hunting the numerous magical beasts and aberrations that haunt the upper reaches of the Hrothgar Mountains proper, the mighty range that forms the backbone of the peninsula. While the peninsula itself is free of the ravages of organized societies of evil humanoids and giants, the mountains have always been the home of many fantastic and often extremely dangerous beasts. While these beasts typically remain within the upper vales and more remote regions of the mountains, many do wander down to more civilized areas and wreak havoc. The region thus depends to a certain extent on the efforts of various adventuring companies to hunt and kill these beasts. The residents of many mountains hamlets and village often pool their resources to offer bounties for the elimination of such creatures. While these bounties rarely amount to huge sums, they can add up. Moreover, the possibility of capturing one of these beasts alive and the financial value of such a catch, provides more than enough of a lure for many adventurers.
Curiously, despite centuries of such hunting, the numbers of these beasts does not seem to have declined at all. This fact has puzzled sages for quite some time. Some believe that the mountains themselves contain some ancient and natural spring of arcane energy deep within their stony bowels and that this energy may cause the magical creatures and aberrations to breed and spawn at an unnatural rate. Others suspect that the upper regions of the mountains contain gateways to other planes. These portals, so the theory goes, only open periodically, but when they do, allow these creatures to enter.
Significantly, your recent discovery of the vast cavern complex that spreads out from beneath the Gwudd Hill ruins has provided a new impetus for such companies. Your finding was really enormous for several reasons. Prior to your discovery of the caverns, no one (with the exception of the clerics of Hextor who accessed it from the Village of Kettlemynde) knew of their existence. But while the unearthing of these nether regions was a significant event in itself, what you found down there was truly remarkable and more than a little troubling. Tales of Troglodytes and Goblins mounted on giant bats are spreading like wild fire across the region. Until now, no one knew that such organized tribal creatures lived on the peninsula at all. Moreover, your encounter with an Aranea merchant who travels and trades along those sunless corridors suggests that there may very well be some sort of complex society existing down there. Who knows what else might live in that stony, gloomy wilderness. For Pelor’s sake, what if there are Drow? We can take some comfort in the knowledge that, since these creatures have heretofore never appeared on the surface, the under-realm has few, if any, other points of access to the surface. Already, two such companies have travelled to the Village of Canaladaer Keep and disappeared into the unknown depths. Neither has of yet returned, but too little time has passed to grow worried.
Sadly, but not surprisingly, most Hrothgar adventurers live short lives. The few companies that survive for more than a few adventures can become legendary, however. In an effort to cultivate such status, most adventuring companies name themselves in the hopes that their fame will spread more quickly. Some of the Hrothgar’s most legendary companies include: The Swords of Southwaite, The Red Cloak Fellowship, The Three Sisters, The Fall River Gang, and Hammer Fist’s Crew. Even when adventurers decline to deliberately name themselves, appreciative locals usually tag them with one colorful appellation or another.