Below is the preliminary background for a sandbox campaign based around only modules written by Matt Finch.
Intended atmosphere is decline and isolation. This is not medieval adventurers looking back to the past and delving Roman ruins for treasure, this is the Romans watching their world disintegrate. Good equipment will be rare and will fall apart as PCs use it (hence the recent posting about equipment deterioration).
The now lonely village of Grimmsgate was once a thriving trading post on the way to a great temple, since fallen into ruin, and now mostly forgotten. After the temple fell, the wizard Mordraas Kor arrived and built his tower, known as the Tower of Mouths.
The wizard’s attitude was one of mostly benign neglect, but the villagers were thankful for his presence, as it seemed to keep other dangers (both monstrous and human) at bay. They did not inquire into the doings of the wizard, who only rarely (and seemingly randomly) appeared in town to proclaim a new, bizarre law (such as no hats after dark) or hire for tasks about which it was forbidden to speak. As such, the town gained a reputation among adventurous folk who would come and wait for the wizard’s tasks.
As the years passed, Mordraas Kor emerged less often. Travellers and merchants also came less frequently, and brought darker news on each visit. Stories of famines, barons being overwhelmed by invasions, or bleeding themselves dry in petty squabbles. But Grimmsgate, at the edge of nowhere, abided, watched over by Mordraas Kor.
Several months ago, however, there was an earthquake seemingly centered on the Tower of Mouths, and neither the wizard nor his minions have been seen since. The villagers are becoming nervous.