The Trucewood Vale campaign scheme is a classic fantasy setting inspired by works like C.S. Lewis' Narnia, or Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar, in which human(oid)s and intelligent animals adventure together. It's a perfect starting point for BMs who wish to incorporate classic fantasy game elements like magic, mythical animals, and demihuman longpaws like dwarfs or elves into their Great & Small campaign.
It's the default setting for the sample adventure, Secret Of The Spooky Old Warren (downloadable as part of the Quick Start Pack), although that adventure includes no overt classic fantasy elements.
The following fable should be read aloud at the beginning of any Trucewood Vale campaign, with each member of the group taking turns reading aloud for as long as they feel comfortable doing so.
As with any fable, it may or may not be true.
There are long-distant days that even the elephants cannot remember.
And in those days, the world of Okarthel belonged to the Eld-Beasts.
And the greatest of those Eld-Beasts were the mighty dragons, masters of claw and wing and breath.
And the greatest of these dragons were called the Urathear, who were like unto the gods.
Every Eld-Beast that walked, or swam, or flew, or crawled, upon the face of Okarthel gave reverence to the dragons as the kings of the animals.
But then one day, after much deliberation, the gods decided to call the longpaw races into the world, and to give them the gifts of speech and reason, much as the dragons possessed.
And there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth among the Urathear and their dragons.
The Urathear had foreseen the end of their kind's mastery at the hands of Man, unless the humble powers of Man were checked.
And so the Urathear and their dragons feuded with the gods, and the feuds shook the very pillars of Okarthel.
After a time, some of the gods came to see the justice of the dragons' complaint, and suggested a gift be offered to them, to return peace to the world.
And so the gods reached down to the Eld-Beasts who walked, and swam, and flew, and crawled, across the face of Okarthel, and raised up one from among each species to be the new king of its kind. These Eld-Beast Kings were, like Man and Dragon, given the gifts of speech and reason. And like Man and Dragon, too, the Eld-Beast Kings held within them the power of magic, if they chose to pursue it.
The gods presented their gift to the dragons in the land now called the Trucewood Vale, and hoped their gift would soothe the Urathear, by giving them sentient subjects of their own to venerate and revere them.
But the gods had committed a folly, for in giving the Eld-Beast Kings speech and reason and magic, they had also given them choice. And some chose not to revere the Urathear.
Enraged, the Urathear threatened the Eld-Beast Kings, demanding from them the unconditional loyalty the dragons enjoyed from lesser animals. They showed the Eld-Beast Kings visions of the future of Man, and how Man would drive out dragons and spoil the world.
Many of the Eld-Beast Kings listened, and agreed. These chose to serve the dragons in their cause against longpaws.
But other Eld-Beasts Kings did not trust the dragons. They knew that Man, like them, had the power of choice. These Eld-Beasts believed Man could be redeemed. And so these Kings befriended the longpaws.
And still other Eld-Beast Kings had no love for Man, but saw great benefit to living alongside him. These chose neither to befriend nor to oppose, but merely to shadow Man.
The Urathear, for all their rage and power, knew they could not prevail against Man unless all the Eld-Beasts stood with them. And so they chose to leave the world of Okarthel, taking their dragons with them.
This left the Eld-Beast Kings to rule their kind as they saw fit. Soon the Kings learned that they could pass their gifts of speech and reason and magic on to some of their children, and thus the next generation of Eld-Beasts were born.
Over time, the Eld-Beasts learned that life with Man was tricky and dangerous. Man was often fearful and violent towards that he did not understand, and so the Eld-Beasts decided that it would be best to hide their true nature from Man.
This is why the tongues of animals cannot be understood by Man. This is why Eld-Beasts hide their magic from longpaws.
And it is why each new generation of Eld-Beasts is confronted by the original question put to them by the Urathear and their dragons: will you befriend the races of Man, or will you drive them from the world?