The name of the world is Talamh (Irish Gaelic for ‘earth’) and the starting location is the town of Vale, which represents the furthest southern edge of the dying empire of Kelsay.
Up until 100 or so years prior to the start of the campaign, the world was one of high magic, better living through Alchemy and direct intervention in the world by the gods on a weekly basis. Magic solved every problem: mostly focusing on the problems it created itself, but still! Then, inexplicably magic stopped working completely. The societies that relied on it and existed with it as their foundations suddenly were bereft of it. All of it gone in an instant and society crumbled. Mass starvation since there was no real farming (Clerics created food and water, or Druids blessed the lands with abundance). The floating wizard towers crashed to the ground.
Wizards and Clerics were blamed for failing the people they were protecting and were imprisoned or killed for failing to work their miracles anymore. Strong warriors rose up and offered protection and fiefdoms arose around them. Monsters, particularly the more humanoid ones still existed and their hardscrabble life enabled them to thrive and push out the elves, dwarves, halflings and humans of the world more easily. New mundane church arose in the wake of the old god’s silence and that abandonment was blamed on the sin of magic; worshiping the wrong gods; worshiping the wrong way, and countless other things that struck the preachers as the real reason magic went away. Society regrew from the ashes and carried on in a more dangerous, and less mystically protected world.
One year before the game starts, magic came back. The old weapons, still masterwork in craftsmanship, displayed their power once again. Scholars who studied the old scrolls of wizards found the rituals had mystic effects again. The few hermit clerics who worshiped the old gods found their prayers answered… and those who worshiped the ‘new’ god’ found that they too could perform miracles of a sort. A few lucky wizards, locked away in other planes for the past century returned to the world, and have acted, but cautiously.
No one knows what caused the cataclysm, or the return, but the populace is frightened. Magic is still seen as untrustworthy at best and an abomination at worst. The world is dangerous and untamed, with the litter of the old society buried in ruins and containing items whose power has returned, but knowledge of what they do lost. Monsters and monstrous humanoids are abundant and will not give up their advances easily, even if society were to re-embrace the lost magic. Civilization has reestablished itself on the three pillars: nobles who are near descendants, or are themselves great warriors who protect their people, commoners who now truly till the lands and fear the unknown, and the church that tends to their people and who will brook no competition from the return of magic.
Dark times, monsters at the gate, uncertain magic, a populace that fears the return of magic and being disappointed by it again, and malevolent power in the wastelands wanting to return after years of madness. This is where we start.