In the farthest corners of the Third Prosperous Stark Empire lies the province of Thule. Thule is a cold and mountainous land full of forests and bears and ice. It's Alaska's older, meaner brother.
The capitol of the Thule province is Briarton, a sleepy burg with only a few thousand residents. It is a lone shining point in the wilderness and attracts all sorts from miles around. The nearest city with a population of more than four hundred is the fishing village of Racinda. Racinda is three weeks journey by horse.
Thule is dangerous, but rich in resources. The forestry is great. The trapping is wonderful. The mining, oh man, the mining is the best in the empire. In fact, settlers come from all over to try their hand at mining. They form corporations and make pacts. Clear out a few acres and set up their own village under the radar of the empire's tax collectors. Sometimes these mining settlements take root, become towns in their own right. More often they disappear within weeks. Traveling merchants later come upon the smoldering remains of an inn, perhaps a field of skeletons picked clean by unseen mouths. Sometimes there is nothing left but trees.
Our heroes grew up in these hardscrabble villages. Maybe they defended the city from bandits? Perhaps they curried favor with a god or dark power to aide their kinfolk? Or just maybe they made such a nuisance of themselves that they were no longer welcome in their home town. The heroes haven't said much yet.
The heroes made their way from all corners of the Thule province to Briarton, county seat. Briarton is the home of the Arcane University, the Duke's estate, and of dozens of merchants and traders making a fortune off the land. Imagine the Wild West, or Deadwood and you wouldn't be far off.
Our heroes have formed a company, Windfall, and have set out to forge a reputation for themselves.