In the adventure's introduction, Guild banker Shylock McFenney tells the adventurer that Vaalpa's leader Pyotr Baranov has gone insane, declared himself Emperor of Vaalpa, and is over-taxing his citizens to fund his lavish palace and aggressive military excursions. McFenney is bankrolling a resistance movement against Baranov and commissions the adventurer to aid them in assassinating him.
The town of Vaalpa is surrounded by a strong, stone wall, and its main entrance on the north side is protected by an iron portcullis and high towers. The main street runs south from the gates, past various businesses including a farmer's market and farm supply store, and ends at a second pair of gates that open onto the courtyard of Baranov's castle. Establishments in Vaalpa include the Sleeping Dragon Inn, Sam's Eatery, and a fortune-teller.