What Has Come Before
The brave adventurers delved into the sublevels of the stronghold and discovered that it had fallen to humanoids who were mostly defeated, but their master, a dread necromancer, was able to overcome the doughty dwarves. Fortunately, the necromancer died in his victory, falling to the remaining high priest of Moradin in the stronghold's Temple. The dwarven high priest was mortally wounded and died in the Temple, arising as a Sacred Guardian, waiting for the forces of good to reclaim the temple and help to rescue his corrupted flock.
Similar to the high priest, many of the dwarves had opted to undergo a dwarven religious ceremony allowing their spirits to fight on after they died as sacred spectral warriors, defending their home (think the warrior chick in Conan). However, when they were slain with negative energy attacks, their spiritual service became corrupted and they became powerful undead. Their oaths to protect the stronghold would not allow them rest even if their undead form was destroyed. They would simply rise again the next night until they were properly laid to rest in the dwarven crypts far below.
In between the undead remains and the crypts happened to be a red dragon who had been residing in the lower levels of the abandoned stronghold for some time. He had his own problems fending off incursions from the UnderOerth monsters who were being sent against him in unrelenting waves.
The dragon was powerful but trapped in the lower levels. He struck a deal with the party to find and defeat who or whatever was attacking him from below and in return, he would leave the stronghold to the dwarves (taking his hoard with him, of course).
The party found and defeated a foul Illithid and his Drow monk thrall (and lots of underdark beasties), ending the threat to the dragon. Then the party decided that they could not allow the dragon to leave with all of the looted dwarven relics and treasure.
The battle that followed was epic, and the hardy adventurers were able to defeat the dragon after a truely well coordinated team effort that taxed all of the characters to the limit.
With the dragon defeated, the dwarves of Khelez-Mar were able to lay their fellows to rest, ending the torment of undeath and allowing them to join their father's in the Halls of Moradin with pride.
Khelez-Mar was reclaimed and the party were named Dwarf-Friends and given a princely reward.
In the time since, the dwarves of Khelez-Mar have called upon their Dwarf-Friends a few times for assistance. But the stronghold is well beyond the borders of the Domain of Obsidian Bay. They have thus far relied upon secrecy to stave off further threats until they can rebuild the defenses and reinforce their reclaimed home.
However, tensions between the Domain of Obsidian Bay and the Empire of Mak have been building towards war. Frontier settlements like the Cathedral of Liberty, Mogelsville and Khelez-Mar are facing grave threats as Turrosh Mak sends more orcs to harrass the Domain and test their defenses.
Khelez-Mar has gained some strategic importance to the City of Obsidian Bay as a supplier of war material, especially now that the Mithril veins have been re-opened. The dwarven weapon and armorsmiths are busy deep in their stonghold.
Obsidian Bay is somewhat short on regular army forces, but have sent a contingent of Knights of the Shield to Khelez-Mar to aid the defense. In addition, there are several powerful adventurers who now live in or frequent Khelez-Mar, including D'klar Ironforge, Dwarf of Renown and Hero of Obsidian Bay, Sven Kildare, the Terramancer of the Order of the Broken Staff, Luc Krolnochack, Hero of Obsidian Bay and Moraim, Priest of Ulaa, Liberator of Geoff.
The Looming War
But there are more and more orcish forces in the Drachensgrabs. It is only a matter of time before Khelez-Mar is found. And though they are strong in their Halls, a concerted effort by Mak would at the least cut off a vital supplier of war material to OB, and possibly overrun the stronghold again.
So the dwarves of Khelez-Mar are seeking allies who can thin the number of orcs in the Drachensgrabs, and help with the defense of their home.
The Dwarven Imperative!
The party will be called upon to perform skirmish warfare in the Drachensgrab Hills. They will encounter the normal sort of beasties to be found in the Hills plus bands of Orcs/humanoids.
This will be a mostly outdoors campaign. Maybe a few dungeon crawls. But lots and lots of Orcs!
Some themes for adventures:
- Scouting forces
- Strike force against enemy encampments
- Find someone who is missing
- Escort diplomats/leaders
- Secure strategic resources
- Defend strategic resources
- Find/create staging areas
- Launch strikes against enemy strongholds
Character Creation Continued
You could also start as a dwarf or human who is already living in Khelez-Mar. In this case, you would probably originally be from the Principality of Ulek and either be part of the original explorers that re-discovered Khelez-Mar, or reinforcements that arrived after Khelez-Mar was re-claimed.
Any standard race would do, although keep in mind you'll be interacting with dwarves a lot, and you'll be resting up in Khelez-Mar or Obsidian Bay. So Wood Elves are probably not a good choice, lol! Humans and dwarves will be just peachy. Gnomes and halflings will be pretty good. Half-elves will be okay. Full elves will be welcomed as allies but probably are not going to become fast friends like Legolas and Gimli (unless they do something above and beyond to help the dwarves of Khelez-Mar).
Again, this is pretty much whatever you want to play. However, if you want to play a base class from a book other than the Players Handbook, I want to see it beforehand and I'm not guaranteeing I'll approve it. The Knight is approved.
For prestige classes, please ask first. Not all of the prestige classes even from the Complete books are appropriate for the setting.
Don't choose non-standard feats listed in HeroForge without running it past me, please. Feats from the PHB and the Complete Books are okay, but try to keep some rp flavor in mind (for example, if you take the Disciple of the Sun feat for a cleric, make sure the cleric's god has SUN in the portfolio. If you're taking a Greyhawk regional feat, like Blackmoorian Rhymes, be from Blackmoor or have a story about how you spent a lot of time there in your early training, etc).
Any good will work best. Lawful neutral will be okay, chaotic neutral is prohibited.