Wizards of Scythia
The Wizard Marvin is interested in magical research of all kinds. His latest invention is a potion of unknown attributes. He wants to test the potion but he needs “volunteers”.
To meet his needs, Marvin rounded up various humanoids. One person of each of the common races, and a few of the less common races, were brought to his tower by the expedient means of buying their indentured servitude contracts. As every party member was in debt past his or her eyeballs and forced into working off that debt, most of them jumped to take part in the experiment. Even the more reluctant ones were won over once Marvin offered to dissolve the indentured contracts in exchange for employment contracts. Each member of the party would perform various odd jobs for the Wizard for one year in exchange for 100 pieces of gold per month, a lordly sum in those parts.
“Of course”, Marvin warned the party, “the potion is not without risks. I have tried it on rats and monkeys without any serious harm, but there is no telling what might happen to humanoids. Which is, of course, why you are here.”
Scythia was established over a period of 1000 years during what was commonly called the Nomad Wars. In this time of strife, several large nomadic tribes of humanoids began the painful conversion into an agricultural society. This process often resulted in bloody battles over the choicest patches of land. Eventually the majority of tribes settled into a structured economy that is loosely ruled by a centralized government.
Currently, King Theodore III rules from the centrally-located city of River Crossing. To the west and north lay the Gaptooth Mountain Range, which is known to host various creatures big and small. To the east lay vast grassland plains where many small nomad tribes still roam to this day. To the south and southwest is the Blackwood, a dense, nearly impenetrable forest. To the southeast the plains give way to a rocky wasteland which stretches as far as the eye can see.
Scythia has known peace for the last hundred years and the inhabitants have grown soft. There are some rumors of unrest in various regions, but these have all remained rumors, nothing more.
Kingdom of Barony
The nearby Kingdom of Barony is a relatively friendly trade partner located west of the Gaptooth Mountains. It is much more densely populated than Scythia and tends to be less politically stable. While various warlords strive for political favor within their own dukedoms, none has ever been so bold as to revolt against the Barony Crown. So far as anyone knows, Barony has never shown a military interest in Scythia.