I just sent this out to the Facebook Group for my new West Marches style campaign.
Setting the stage-
Fort Augustus is the “safe town area”, it is the only remaining imperial outpost here in the wilderness, it is a port. The fort proper is on an island in the mouth of the river, the town itself clings to both banks of the river, nearest the fort. Beyond the buildings of the town are fields, pastures and orchards belonging either to small holders or owned by great-holders and worked by a mixture of hereditary serfs, indentured servants and convicts. The area is, in general well patrolled by imperial soldiers.
The better part of a millennium ago, this land and all the land further east, belonged to your ancestors. There were many petty kingdoms of man, elf, and dwarf. Those kingdoms fell to a tide of beast-men and their demon overlords, your ancestors became refugees who eventually fled westward across the sea to the safety of a new land. Those refugees, united in their purpose to create a new home for themselves settled and civilized that land, creating the empire.
Nearly two centuries ago the empire sent an exploratory expedition to their old homelands, they found that they had become a wilderness, full of danger, but ripe for reconquest and resettlement. This proceeded fairly quickly, the surviving peoples had lapsed into barbarism, but many welcomed the empire, at first. Eventually, after a number of incidents, there were some native uprisings against the empire. The threat of savage tribes of bestial humanoids was omnipresent as well, still, conquest and settlement continued unabated.
Almost a century ago the emperor was assassinated, and died with no clear successor. The ensuing civil war lasted for over eighty years, with short, intermittent periods of peace while alliances shifted and forces gathered and regrouped. The colonies were largely abandoned to their fate. One by one they ceased to exist, except Fort Augustus.
Within the last decade the new imperial house consolidated their power and chose to once again pursue the colonization and conquest efforts of their predecessors on the imperial throne. A viceroy was appointed for the colonies and rapid settlement was encouraged, with many inducements, such as free transport, and free land. Ex-soldiers and mercenaries were given tracts of land as payouts for their services. Various noble houses have been granted vast tracts of wilderness for their cadet branches. Large sums of money have been offered to skilled laborers. Many imperial soldiers have been transferred to duty at Fort Augustus, then mustered out of service while there. Many have chosen exile to the colonies as preferable to life under the new regime. Transportation of convicts to the colonies has become a common punishment for many petty crimes.
However you got here, you are here now.