Everything has a beginning. The sorry state of your world is no exception. The eldritch abominations. The husks that cling to their defiled vessels. They had to come from somewhere, right? Yet, they’ve been present for as long as you can remember. You’ve heard stories of a more hospitable world, a better world, a green world where people thrived. Life came easy, once upon time—but in your world, there’s no room for fairy tales. Now, life simply comes, and it goes just as quickly. What will you do with yours?
What little you know…
You know very little, honestly. History is easily muddled in this land. Detailed records are sparse. Written personal accounts of life across the past few centuries have outlined a large-scale armed conflict—collectively referred to as the Serpent’s War—that spanned the planet long before your time. The cause of this conflict is widely unknown, though its effects have been as powerful as they are numerous. The most obvious is the significant loss of life incurred, specifically among the four major races involved (Humans, Dwarves, Elves, Yrrakoa). The capital settlements for each of them, sprawling cities containing the largest concentration of their respective races, were all but wiped out—that is, except for the elves. They simply vanished; as such, those who survived at least partially blamed them, as well as their natural affinity for the arcane, for the ordeal. ‘Why’ remains unclear, but that stigma has persisted ever since.
Stemming from that distrust, the use of magic in general has been tabooed en masse. While it most certainly still exists, the most expansive reservoirs of knowledge and insight into all things mystical were either destroyed by the now centuries-old conflict, or made inaccessible by the monsters and creatures that rose in its wake. What’s more is that fear actively drives people away from innovation in the once blossoming field, instead choosing ignorance. Religion has received a similar treatment, its values and relevance lost to the ages. Of course, there are those few fringe groups that favor progress above all else, are still able to find comfort in the divine, or simply find it all too useful not to pursue, social implications and physical dangers be damned. Typically, to be openly connected with that power is to be forever an outsider looking in.
On the subject of monsters, they are plentiful, and range from what people refer to as ‘undead,’ to living fiends and beasts. They pose a constant threat to the world’s inhabitants, often making travel around any part of the known continent a hazardous affair. ‘Strength in numbers’ has become the one true constant, and people of all races have pooled together in villages, settlements and outposts across the land. That said, a lack of a central government between them has given each individual settlement free reign to police itself however it sees fit. This can mean something as simple as looking out for your neighbor, something as intricate as a full-fledged guard, and everything in between. With no standardized armed forces, mercenary work is at a premium, and could potentially pay tremendously well, or at the very least ensure that your belly is full.
This is your calling. The work can come in many shapes and sizes. A merchant may enlist a few extra blades to guard her caravan. A land owner might recruit bodyguards to protect his assets. A historian could find herself in need of personnel to make an expedition. Whatever the job may be, expect a degree of risk to come with. For some, that risk and its subsequent rewards may be the appeal. For others, it may simply be a better alternative to the status quo. Your reasons for choosing this line of work are yours, and yours alone—but make no mistake: you’re in this line of work for a reason, and it’s not one that you can shy away from.