In this world there is a swamp. It is known as Vengarth Swamp, though there is no one that lives nearby that remembers why. The fetid expanse of Vengarth Swamp cover many miles – hapless strangers who wander into it’s depths are rarely seen again.
Many decades ago, a fishing village called Gimlet grew on the side of the swamp like a small barnacle. The villagers of Gimlet scraped out a living, catching and selling the odd looking fish they hauled in from the swamp with their homemade nets.
This barely tolerable life would have continued to this day, had an Elf clad all in black robes not appeared in their midst one hot and humid evening. The Elf introduced himself as Lord Lenzo. He told the villagers that their lives could be improved immeasurably if they worked with him. For within the swamp grew a number of extremely rare plants that could be turned into valuable magical and alchemical reagents. If they would harvest these plants, Lord Lenzo would show them how to refine and sell them, which would bring great prosperity to Gimlet.
The villagers of Gimlet readily agreed, and the heads of the strongest families formed a cabal with Lord Lenzo to manage production. The rest of the villagers were paid good silver to perform the dangerous harvesting work.
Gimlet Village quickly grew into Gimlet Town, walled for defense, to protect their wealth. The members of the cabal were the merchant-lords of the town, but every townperson prospered. Lord Lenzo was rarely seen, but his presence was noted in the town from time to time.
Recently, a threat to Gimlet’s prosperity has emerged. Two survivors of a six-strong harvesting party returned from the swamp with a fevered table of a temple entrance found sunken near the centre of the swamp. The most brave (or foolhardy) of the harvesters broke through the entrance. When their screams rang out across the swamp from within the dark interior, the survivors fled for their lives, never once looking back.
Although other harvesting parties have been instructed to give Vengarth Temple a wide berth, they have still been disappearing with increasing regularity. When the profits of the cabal are threatened, they act. A call has gone out to willing adventuring parties to find and clear the threat in the temple. The cabal will support these endeavours in exchange for getting the first right to purchase any treasures retrieved. To ensure this, parties have been told that they will be restricted to the town or swamp while under contract.
Your party has answered the call and are gathered in the entry room of Gimlet Hall. You and the other adventuring parties eye each other nervously – will you help or hinder each other? A staff strikes the marble floor, the two massive doors swing open and a guard summons you to be addressed by the cabal…