The campaign is set in the borderlands of Partholon - to the west is the Imperial Territory, to the east lie the Small Kingdoms. On the northern edge of the Shimrod Forest is the tiny village of Sham - a peaceful hamlet of woodcutters and fishermen, only occasionally bothered by savage Kruthar barbarians raiding from the northern hills.
It is the year 295 AC - that is, the 295th year After the Crowning of the first Emperor in Tyrhennea. Early in the spring, villagers began disappearing, and rumors circulated of goblyns being sighted in the woods. Search parties found mysterious ruins and numerous tracks in and out of a doorway, beyond which lay a stairway winding deep below the ground...
Ash Slayum is a veteran warrior, dungeon-delver, and treasure-hunter. His martial prowess is exceptional, his survival instincts are keen, and his word is his bond (which may be why he rarely gives it). He speaks little of himself or his past, but his men-at-arms have occasionally hinted at a tragic love with a woman of the Faer Folk.
Svaarden is a wandering holter and hunter, an expert archer and master of woodcraft. He is, however, very short on people-skills, but rarely lets that stop him from putting his foot into his mouth. He's also untrustworthy and unpredictable, but he's never turned against the party, technically.
Ash and Svaarden met in the dungeon when their respective search parties were wiped out by the underworld's denizens. They have delved successfully together for many months, and eventually incorporated the party into an official treasure-hunting company, endorsed by Baron Blackhart. The rest of the party looks to them as unofficial leaders, a fact complicated by their conflicting ethical perspectives.
The rest of the party includes:
Clementine, a cleric of the Sacred Order of St Alcidine. She is a holy warrior dedicated to battling the restless dead and all the eldritch horrors of the underworld. Capturing the treasures of the spawn of Chaos is a victory for her order and for the gods of Law.
Billium Dedpulius, or "Bill" to his friends, is a magic-user of the secret fraternity of Wizards. His order devotes itself to constructive spellcraft and forbids the destructive and world-warping magicks of sorcery. His mentor, Incanus, attempts to provide the guiding light of wisdom, but Bill's obsession with vanquishing the creatures of darkness has led him to be tempted by the forbidden lore of sorcery.
Nylian is a native of Sham, the daughter of Weyland the Smith, and has always been restless in the quiet village. Even as a child she was a rough-and-tumble tomboy, constantly getting into fights with boys twice her size - and often winning. Her father tried to teach her the Hammercraft to channel her energies toward productivity, but where he embraced the constructive aspects of the Thunder Lord Tanaris, Nylian was drawn to his warlike aspect. She joined the militia before even completing her apprenticeship at the smithy, and Kruthar savages have learned a wary respect for "the hammer girl." When the delving party began returning to town with great treasure and harrowing tales, she informed them in no uncertain terms that she was now joining them.
Gottfried also grew up in Sham, and like Nylian he longed for more excitement than the little village could provide. He was raised on stories of his piratical uncle, Magnus the Raver, and joined the militia with hopes of learning the skill to fight at his uncle's side. When called upon to defend Sham against Kruthar raids, Gottfried displayed a berserker's spirit, heedless of danger, knowing only the drive to slay his foes. When Magnus came to visit his sister and nephew, he and Gottfried joined Ash & Svaarden's party in hunting monstrous adders in the woods. Magnus was calcified by an adder's toxic blood, and Gottfried swore to find and destroy the monsters' nest. With the party's help, he succeeded, and earned his place among the delvers.