Brigands and other humanoids have been a bane to Hommlet for years. Eventually, thieves, cutthroats, orcs, and even more sinister forces created a settlement of their own – Nulb. That hamlet was frequented not only by the most evil of people, but also by monsters and beasts as well. A chapel dedicated to vice and damnation grew nearby, with increasingly vile creatures coming to worship foul deities there. In time, this chapel became the Temple of Elemental Evil, filled with dark priests and their wicked servants.
While that first temple reigned, the lands around Hommlet grew dark with violence and pestilence. As their power increased, the temple clerics built a small keep, known as the moathouse, not far from Hommlet. From this base they planned to launch raids and secure their fortunes in the west. Fortunately for Hommlet, those who commanded the temple were not overly concerned with the village but with more powerful strongholds to the west.
In but three years, a grim and forbidding fortress surrounded the evil place, and swarms of creatures worshipped and worked their wickedness therein. The servants of the Temple of Elemental Evil made Hommlet and the lands for leagues around a mockery of freedom and beauty. Commerce ceased, crops withered; pestilence was abroad.
But the leaders of this cancer were full of hubris and, in their overweaning pride, sought to overthrow the good realms to the west. Forces from the surrounding area (tribes of the Shaar, the Wizards of Halruaa, and the mercenaries of the Lapal League) attacked the temple, some using Hommlet as a base and a point for resupply and rest. They sacked the temple nine years ago in a battle called Emridy Meadows (named for the site of the largest confrontation). Most of the evil forces were destroyed or driven off. The temple itself was greatly damaged, but the underground levels were extensive and dangerous even for those heroic folk. So the Temple of Elemental Evil was sealed with a great magic, imprisoning a powerful demon within its confines.
Two men involved with the fall of the original temple, Rufus and Burne, settled in Hommlet and built a tower. Their connections to the lord of Sheirtalar to the west were well known, as were their plans to expand the tower into a large keep. The town prospered once again.
Life in Hommlet quickly returned to a semblance of its former self, before the rise of the temple. For five years afterward, the village and the surrounding countryside have become richer and more prosperous than ever before. A monstrous troll which plagued the place for a time was hunted down by a party of passing adventurers. Carrying the ashes and a goodly fortune as well, the adventurers returned to the village. Before going elsewhere to seek their fortunes, the adventurers also returned a portion of the villagers' losses. Other adventurers, knowing of the evil that had once resided in the area, came to seek out similar caches, and several did find remote lairs and wealth—just as some never returned at all.
After a time, adventurers stopped coming to the area. It seemed that no monsters were left to slay, and no evil existed here to be stamped out. The villagers heaved a collective sigh—some pained at the loss of income, but others relieved by the return to the quiet, normal life—and Hommlet continued its quiet existence for four years more.
But then, a year ago, the bandits began to ride the roads again—not frequently, but to some effect. To the good folk of Hommlet, this seemed all too familiar, so they sent word to the lord of Sheirtalar that wicked forces might still lurk thereabouts. This information has been spread throughout the countryside, and the news has attracted outsiders to the village once again. Who and what these men are, no one can be quite sure. All claim to be bent on slaying monsters and bringing peace and security to Hommlet; but deeds speak more loudly than words, and lies cloak the true purposes of the malevolent.