The old folks say that when they were children the Empire straddled the continent entire, and that the Emperor sat upon a diamond throne in a shining city. Well, all that is gone since the five kings of the ancient kingdoms made war against the throne. The war raged for seven years. In the winter of that seventh year the Emperor was on the verge of defeat. Some say he summoned a great demon from Outside. Others say he slew his own priests and stole a weapon forged in darkness. Children and fools believe he became a ravening dragon. Whatever the truth is, the armies of the kings vanished at the gates of the Imperial City - along with the city itself. Instead a gaping wound was left in the earth and the land for miles around was left a wasteland.
The five kings allied in the war all suspected treachery in each other and, the armies destroyed and kingdoms impoverished by the expensive war, settled into an uneasy, inward looking peace while they rebuilt.
Curious types soon began exploring the crater where the Imperial City once stood and found it was riddled with mysterious tunnels and caves - as if the earth below the city had been rotten. When a group of delvers brought up a chest full of gold and jewels word exploded across the continent and treasure hunters, mercenaries, and cutthroats of all sort made pilgrimage to the crater to seek their fortune. Many of those who went down never came back up, but nonetheless many still make their way to this unhappy place. So many that a thriving boomtown was settled on the rim of the crater, catering to the wants and needs of the delvers.
Now people from across the continent make their way to the crater for information, magic, and hired-blades for there is no better place to find any of those precious resources.
The five kingdoms have rebuilt their peasantry and armories and eye each other hungrily across their borders.
And quietly, sages at the crater warn those who listen that the wound in the earth is growing.
You, a treasure hunter through and through, have journeyed from your homeland seeking your fortune at the crater.