On the edge of the Kingdom of Serk sat the great goblin marsh. As the Kingdom grew and prospered the world became calmer, more ordered. Although bandits and thieves still exist, the great heroes are all dead or long retired, for there is no more adventure to be found. The last great frontier, known only as the West Marches was beyond reach.
That is, until now.
At great personal expense, the Lord Leas has driven a roadway through the marshlands, the foundations are deep, and its surface is furnished with flagstones of polished granite.
As solid ground rises above the reeds and the pathway ends, you find yourself approaching the last outpost of civilisation; A most curious coaching inn. The paint is still wet on the sturdy oak doors of The End of the Road. Beyond this building is nothing but lawless wilderness.
On this bright morning the Lord Leas himself is standing in the inn’s great hall. Around him is a throng of characters, all no doubt seeking to be part of this historic day.
The landlord, who introduces himself as Hugo, hands you a free drink. “First one free for every adventurer!” He shouts, patting you on the back, “Riker! Where is that second cart of beer? It should have been here by now!”
You glimpse Riker scurrying through the crowd, hear him complain under his breath. “Why am I even here, being bellowed at by this oaf?” He ignored Hugo, darting behind the bar.
On the second floor you can see a selection of hardy people, tools hanging from their belts, where you might have slung a weapon instead. They appear to be talking to a man with huge forearms, who is drinking from a fine wooden bowl. They seem to be in good spirits.
A cry goes up from the crowd. Everyone falls silent. Lord Leas has some words to share.
“Adventurers! Yes, that is what you are. Adventuring is not a common or safe profession, so I am not surprised you few are the only ones interested in risking your lives in the wilderness in hopes of making a fortune.”
A small cheer echoes around the room.
“Between sorties into the wilds please rest up, trade info and plan your next foray in this cheery taproom. Your bed, food and drink will all be at my expense!”
A louder cheer erupts.
“No doubt you’ve already heard many rumours, such as the one of strange lights in the Sky, yes, beyond these towering trees is terra incognita. The Western Marches are dangerous, very dangerous, but remember danger unites. Look around you, your greatest strength is the other adventurers. Learn to observe the environment and adapt. When they stumble into the lair of a terrifying hydra retreat and round up a huge posse to hunt it down. I know you are all inexperienced, as we have nothing else like this place in Serk. Go out, have the adventures you want, but make sure you come back. Talking of which…”
Lord Leas pulls a velvet cloth of a large round table. It is made from the trunk of an enormous tree. On one edge is etched a small drawing of this Inn, the End of the Road.
“Tomas Woodsman, the leader of the Woodsman loggers gives you this. Consider this your map. As you return, carve the world into the surface, record the monsters you have slain. This land, and your path through it are waiting for you!”
He raises his own tankard.