I wrote this as an intro for my Keep on the Borderlands, 30 years later game. The idea is to mix dungeonverse and 1980s culture, with a bit of Adventure Time thrown in just because.
“I started my adventuring career in 1953. We had it easy then, son: dark immortals raising armies far in the East, greedy thieves guilds taking over merchant towns, goblins and dragons and dark elves. Nothing we couldn’t handle. Nowadays, it’s all different, shades of grey as they say. I just call it a right mess.
The frontier, the last outpost. We used to call this place the Keep on the Bordelands. My castle. My pride. Now all I own is a four-year lease on this crummy little motel. And every morning when I wake up, I can see the ruins of my old towers, up there on the hill. Civilisation, we’ve seen plenty of it here. Look at this town, this overgrown highway. They were all sparkling new twenty-five years ago. The monster tribes in the Caves of Chaos had been beaten into submission by people like me and you. The guilds made them sign their peace treaty and then left. The education, the employment they promised? Turns out it was all for the settlers they moved into their shiny little villages. Crafty cats, those guildmasters.
They ran the show here for a good while. They pushed the frontier far to the north and east, making us feel like we were a real part of the Federated Realms. But then, the great cities started to have problems of their own. We heard stories of Titans raised from the sea, drowning the entire coast. Some kind of magical plague as well. And a couple of stars falling on the Wizards’ conclave. Tough stuff, for sure. I understand they couldn’t support us as well as they used to.
It was a hard time, but we made it through the dark, lonely years, to this new age. The frontier is everywhere now: civilisation and wilderness all tangled up, from the palaces of the guildmasters to our suburban vales. Even uninhabited, remote areas have decaying outposts, remnants of this crazy expansion. Their own catastrophes now dealt with, some guilds are taking an interest in us again. What a surprise.
Mindless, the new guys from the Underworld. They showed up here with the deed to the Keep and a construction crew. I told the slimy tentacle-faces they could have it! Make an adventuring center of it if that’s what they wanted. I was leaving these cursed lands!
But I didn’t. Somehow, I couldn’t part from my old keep. I opened this place with the gold I had stashed for my old age and saw the town come alive again. People are coming back, craftsmen and traders, families, lured by the promise of a newfound prosperity. In the Caves, the clans have been showing their ugly snouts. The orcs tribes are fighting over some magical trinket again, bugbears are working on the construction site, and I hear kobolds are preying on travellers stupid enough to wander off the highway. All of a sudden, the old days are back.
It’s 1983 and the Keep on the Borderlands is opening for business.”