The Shattered North.
Seventy-two years ago, the skies darkened and summer never came, and out of the howling north and the woods beyond the great valley, came great hosts of orcs, goblins, strange men who spoke unfamiliar tongues, and many strange and dangerous beasts and men-folk twisted by foul chaos. They spread across the great valley, and the nomads there were driven into the land of the long valleys where they joined up with other men-folk and made what stand they could.
The great hordes laid waste to most of the villages of the fertile valleys and took most of the fortified villages and towns with no trouble, only coming up short against the peninsula of Ardenoth, which they laid siege to for several months. Meanwhile other hosts had struck across the Sea of Many Isles and struck the wealthier, continental lands to the south. There the numbers of men finally, and not without great sacrifice, brought the main host to bear. The tide of hordes rolled back much as it had come, leaving burning and death as they went.
The land of the Long Valleys was left with a fraction of its people, who fought among themselves for dwindling food as much as they fought those hosts that chose to linger on preying on the countryside. Eventually a few settlements regrew, particularly around Ardenoth, but in a few other places as well. Trade from across the Sea of Many Isles slowed to a trickle because many had been killed across the sea as well.
Now, the South has recovered from her wounds and interest in the North has grown, bringing settlers and adventurers, seeking to reclaim some of the old valleys or simply to loot the remains of old North. The remains of those fell hordes still inhabit many places, and still stranger things have taken up residence in the ruins.—