Adventures in Middle Earth
The Third Age started with the success of the Last Alliance of Men and Elves and the loss of the One Ring. Although Sauron was much weakened, he was not destroyed. The Ringwraiths still trouble Middle Earth and a successor known as the Necromancer has arisen in Dol Gulder.
The High Men of Numenor were separated into three groups, those who chose to follow Isildur (until his untimely death) lived west of the Misty Mountains and north of the White Mountains in a kingdom called Arnor. Those who chose to follow Anarion lived south of the White Mountains and west of Mordor in a kingdom called Gondor. Those who chose neither Arnor or Gondor came to be known as the Black Numenorians and wandered the lands causing much strife.
The Dwarves returned to their underground halls in the Kingdom of Moria, the Blue Hills, and the Iron Hills.
The High Elves were shattered by the loss of Gil-galad, the last High Elf king, and most left Middle Earth for good. Their remnants stayed at Rivendell and the Grey Havens with some few traveling the lands or living in Lothlorien.
The Wood Elves followed their remaining leaders, Galadrial and Thranduil back to Lothlorien and Greenwood (lately coming to be known as Mirkwood due to the growing influence of the Necromancer). Thranduil commissioned a tremendous effort from the Dwarves and buried his palace in an effort to gain protection from the Necromancer's minions.
Gondor thrived over the centuries and faithfully watched over Mordor to prevent evil creatures from re-establishing a foothold there. It extended its grasp all the way to the Long Lake near the Lonely Mountain. Gondor's rise to near-empire status has won it some allies and many enemies in the plains north of Mordor.
Arnor was not as lucky. The tenth king had three sons and was not able to reconcile the two younger sons to the fact that they would not be kings upon his death. In the 861st year of the Third Age, Earendur died and civil war briefly erupted between the three sons. Amlaith, the rightful heir, decided to split his realm into three pieces to avoid further kin-strife. He took the northernmost section (most beloved by the High Men) and called it Arthedain. The second son took the southernmost section, which had the most people and wealth and called in Cardolan. The third and weakest son took the eastern lands, which were rocky and infested with Trolls and did the best he could with them, naming the land Rhudaur.
Elrond gave assistance to Arthedain and Rhudaur (which was a neighbor), but not to Cardolan, which caused the Kings of Cardolan to look to the Dwarves as friends instead of the Elves. Gondor stayed as close trading partners with both Arthedain (via the sea and the Grey Havens) and Cardolan but not Rhudaur, which was too far away and had no interesting products.
Two hundred years later, halflings started wandering west from the Anduin river valley to escape the Necromancer. Rhudaur was not safe for such little people, the Elves had no time for them, and wealthy Cardolan had no room for them, so halflings settled in southeastern Arthedain. Arthedain had always been sparsely populated and the rulers of Arthedain were so impressed by the ability of the self-named Hobbits to coax so much food from the ground that they were a welcome addition to the kingdom.
Roughly 200 years after that, Orcs began to trouble the northern Misty Mountains. Eventually it was revealed that they were led by the Witch King, mightiest of the Ringwraiths, and he founded the kingdom of Angmar in the far northwestern reaches of the Misty Mountains, drawing many Orcs and men to his banner. The very few remaining High Men in Rhudaur fled to Arthedain and Rivendell and evil men flourished in the country, Trolls reclaimed the land as their own, which became known as the Trollshaws to the common fok.
In 1409 a great army marched out of Angmar, smashing the Arthedain fortress at Weathertop, and plunging into Cardolan. The remaining High Men made their stand at the Barrow Downs but the mutant Troll general Rogrog destroyed them. The only thing saving the country from total disaster was a combined effort by Arthedain, Gondor, and Rivendell. Many people claimed the throne of Cardolan but none would support the others and all failed, doing much damage to the land and the people. Cardolan became a patchwork of city-states patrolled by militias, armies of would-be kings, and mercenary companies.
In the years that followed, there were many small clashes between Arthedain, which rebuilt the fortress at Weathertop, Rhudaur, and Angmar. None were decisive but both Arthedain and Rhudaur were weakened.
In 1636, a ship named the "Grey Gull" drifted into the busy main harbor at Pelagir in Gondor after leaving the pirate city of Umbar. All aboard were dead of an unknown disease. Less than two months later people in Gondor started dying and the illness radiated out quickly to all parts of Middle Earth. The Great Plague, as it came to be known, burned out quickly, but left much devastation behind. Fully one third of the common folk had died, the Elves seemed immune and the Dwarves were barely touched. The High Men and Halflings were resistant but still suffered losses. The Orcs were most affected, losing 95% of their filthy race.
The campaign starts in 1645 as the world is begining to knit itself back together again.